Monday, January 23, 2012
CSS Sumter Crosses the Atlantic
As for the U.S. Navy, Welles had six cruisers looking for Sumter (in some cases as far south as Brazil): USS Niagara, San Jacinito, Richmond, Keystone State, Powhatan, and Iroquois. When Semmes read Welles' public account of the search for his cruiser, the Confederate captain wrote a letter from Cadiz to the London Times mocking the U.S. Navy Secretary.
Semmes, however, had a more serious problem than U.S. Navy cruisers. Sumter was falling apart. Spanish authorities only allowed him temporary repairs and no fuel. Semmes departed Cadiz and headed to the British colony of Gibraltar, hoping to find a more sympathetic ear. He did not. For the next several weeks, he attempted to procure coal and supplies, but did not succeed. With some of the enlisted sailors deserting, Semmes pondered what to do next.