1863 February 28: The CSS “Alabama” and Other Confederate News
From the February 28, 1863, issue of The Polk County Press.
BOSTON, Feb. 19.—The Alabama burned the brig Castlemare, from Gaudaloupe, for Cienfuego, on the 27th ult., off Altoveld Rock. The crew landed at –— City. Semmes took the nautical instruments and eight hundred dollars in gold. The Alabama also turned, on the 26th, the bark Golden Rule, from New York for Aspinwall. The schooner Hanover, from Boston, for Aux Cayles, was captured by a privateer—probably the Retribution, on the 31st, off Hayti. The crew was safely landed.¹
NEW YORK, Feb. 19.—The following extracts are from rebel papers:
In the Confederate Congress, Foote, of Tennessee, offered a resolution to the effect that President Davis [Jefferson Davis] shall, on or before May 1st next, withdraw the present diplomatic agents from any foreign country, the government of which shall not at that time have agreed to recognize the independence of the Confederacy, and after that date no foreign consul shall be longer allowed to exercise consular powers except upon an exequature [sic] asked for at the hands of the Confederate States, and granted by the same. The resolutions further declare, that the conduct of the Emperior [sic] of France, in the proposition to the European powers to united with him in mediation, has been highly gratifying both to the Government and people of the Confederate States.
The tone of the Richmond journals generally indicates a want of hope and spirit. All prospects of foreign mediation seems to be given up, and the present is considered the most critical period of the whole war.
VICKSBURG, Feb. 18—The enemy are throwing up batteries on the Louisiana shore, with the supposed purpose of protecting their men when they commence throwing pontoon bridges across the river. Our authorities appear to anticipate an early attack.
NEW YORK, Feb. 19.—The World’s Memphis correspondent writes concerning the Vicksburg operations that there are three plans under consideration. The one which is likely to be adopted is to commence about seventy-five miles above Vicksburg, cutting one or more channels to reach the Tensas and Mason bayous, which forms the Tensas river, which empties into the Black river. The latter is a tributary of Red river. If successful it would probably result in turning the Mississippi into the Atchafaliga [sic: Atchafalaya] river, thus making the latter the great river of the continent.
The Herald’s special says that it is rumored that the President intends to restore McClellan [George B. McClellan] to the head of the army next month.
1. The brig burned by the Alabama should have been Chastelaine. The Polk County Press put a dash in front of the word City indicating that they did not know what city, but we know from other newspapers that published this item that it should be St. Domingo City. Semmes should be Captain Semmes. Finally, Aux Cayles should be Aux Cayes.
Raphael Semmes (1809-), captain of the CSS Alabama, was a career naval officer. He resigned his commission in the U.S. Navy in February 1861 and offered his services to the Confederacy. For more details on Semmes and the Alabama, see the Naval History & Heritage Command’s Navy Department Library website, which includes a 1968 Naval Historical Foundation publication on Captain Raphael Semmes and the C.S.S. Alabama. The image of the Alabama used above is from that website.