|Steam sloop USS Wachusett|
In mid-1862, Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles had a serious problem on his hands. Intelligence indicated that at least two Confederate cruisers (CSS Florida and Alabama) were either en route or already situated in the West Indies, with more on their way. He could not ignore the problem of Confederate steam cruisers any longer. On September 8, 1862, he stood up the "West Indies Squadron." The name itself was not new. The Navy always maintained a squadron since the 1820s with that name, to handle real life "pirates of the Caribbean" that tended to pop up from time to time.
|Rear Admiral Charles Wilkes|
|Paddle Steamer USS Cimarron|
Meanwhile, CSS Alabama was thousands of miles to the east in the Azores Islands. On September 18, she wrapped her campaign there by burning her eighth U.S.-Flagged whaling ship in thirteen days.