[SEMMES, RAPHAEL.  1809-1877.]

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Lot 2457
[SEMMES, RAPHAEL. 1809-1877.]

Sold for US$ 240 inc. premium

Fine Books and Manuscripts

11 Jun 2008, 13:00 EDT

New York

[SEMMES, RAPHAEL. 1809-1877.]
Manuscript Signed of Asher L. Todd, 4 pp, 4to, Boston, November 8, 1896, on lined paper, describing the period in 1862 when Todd’s ship was captured by the Confederate ship Sumter, additionally signed by C.A.Q. Norton and H.H. Hammond, leaves creased horizontally, moderately toned and thumbed, all leaves fastened at upper left margin with brad.

Raphael Semmes was a U.S. Naval officer who resigned at the outbreak of the Civil War to accept a Captaincy in the Confederate Navy. His first assignment was to convert a steamer into the commerce raider C.S.S. Sumter, leading her in a series of raids against commercial shipping in the Caribbean and Atlantic until repairs and the arrival of U.S. warships ended her career in Gibraltar. This document, prepared by the Captain of the barque Abbie E. Russell, describes being captured by the Sumter three days out of Cadiz en route for New York. Todd describes being approached by a steamer under a British flag, but once he threw out a line, “an officer in a gray uniform came over our rail. I saw at once that he wore the rebel uniform. He informed me that he was the second officer of the Confederate Ship Sumter, Capt. Raphael Semmes. I pointed to his ship and asked him why they flew the English flag and not the Confederate. He answered: ‘You fellows do not run so fast from the flag of John Bull as you do from ours.’ He then informed me that myself and crew were prisoners, and that we were to be transferred to the Sumter, and that my ship was to be burned.” Todd and the crew were taken on board the Sumter while the Abbie E. Russell was burned; from there they were put onshore at Cadiz. The warship Tuscarora appeared and trapped the Sumter in harbor, so Semmes had his ship stripped and sold at auction. Todd attended the sale, and bought as a memento the “large English flag that was at her peak when she burned my ship.” The English consul at the sale insisted that Todd turn over the flag to him; Todd replied that he would do so when the English consul accepted responsibility for the burning of his ship.
Document prepared as letter of provenance for the flag mentioned above, sold to James W. Eldridge of Hartford, CT.
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