Admiral Raphael Semmes


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Civil War Harper's Weekly, January 3, 1863

This WEB site features an online archive of original Civil War Harper's Weekly newspapers. We have put this collection on the internet to help facilitate your study and research on the Civil War. The collection contains many unique illustrations and reports.

(Scroll Down to See Entire Page, or Newspaper Thumbnails below will take you to the page of interest)


Thomas Nast Santa Claus

Civil War Christmas

Lincoln Cabinet Shake Up

Lincoln Cabinet Shake Up

Burnside's Fredericksburg Report

General Burnside's Fredericksburg Report

Battle of Fredericksburg Discription

Battle of Fredericksburg Description

Court Martial

Fitz-John Porter Court Martial

Admiral Semmes

Admiral Semmes

Fredericksburg Cartoon

Fredericksburg Cartoon


Attack of Fredericksburg

The Attack of Fredericksburg

Fighting in the Street's of Fredericksburg

Court Martial

Court Martial

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve



JANUARY 3, 1863.]





WE publish herewith a portrait of the famous pirate RAPHAEL SEMMES, now in command of the British pirate-ship Alabama. This man was once in our navy, and acquired an unenviable reputation for bad conduct, which prevented his rising in the service. At the outbreak of the rebellion he cast his lot with the insurgents, and was appointed to command the Sumter. In that famous craft he successfully ran the blockade of the Mississippi, and escaped to sea. For some months he made the civilized world ring with the fame of his exploits over unarmed merchantmen, which he robbed and burned. He always refused to fight a ship-of-war, and had hard work, at one time, in escaping the United States gun-boat Iroquois at Martinique. We published in a recent number an account of his cruise, written by one of his officers. The Sumter was fairly nailed at last in the British port of Gibraltar; there her crew left her, and there she lies still, under the friendly protection of British guns.

Semmes forthwith proceeded to England, where he took the command of the British pirate Alabama, and went to sea on 29th June last. His subsequent exploits are fresh in the memory of our readers. He burned ten whalers off the Azores; half a dozen merchantmen between New York and Liverpool; and some small trading craft in the West Indies. At latest dates he was coaling at Martinique, and the San Jacinto and other vessels of Commodore Wilkes's squadron were watching him. It is to be hoped they will catch him.

Semmes's family are residing in Philadelphia: one or two of his daughters are at school there.


SANTA CLAUS had appointed this November night as a dress-rehearsal for Christmas. It was an occasion when not the Dolls only, but very many others, denizens of Toyland, were expected. All, in fact, who could make it convenient to attend felt it to be a duty to do so. In fact, the invitation was almost peremptory. Santa Claus expected to hear from his spies, the Old Dolls, full accounts of the conduct and behavior of his little friends the Children, in order that he might know who deserved his rich prizes, and who might merit the traditional "rod in the stocking" as the penalty of their misbehavior. He also expected to hear from the same reliable sources what all the mothers, sisters, aunts, and cousins were doing with reference to assisting him; and for this information he was accustomed to rely entirely upon the Dolls. They are a very intelligent race of little beings, if one did but know it, and they always sleep with at least one eye open. Consequently, when the Children have gone to bed, and the Dolls set in order in time nursery, and the hidden work is taken out, and the mysterious plans of the family talked over, the Dolls have the best possible chance to see and hear it all, and of course their sympathies are all interested in the Children, and all that concerns them.

Santa Claus was accustomed to hold this annual festival preparatory to Christmas, in order to know exactly what to do, and what to depend upon.

The gala was held in Santa Claus's favorite winter palace, an immense snow-cave in the side of Mount Hecla. Santa Claus found the climate to agree better with his health than a more southern

situation, and likewise he found here, in this sequestered spot, the quiet and seclusion so necessary to the mystery in which he is accustomed to invest his good deeds.

The palace was all of a glow with warmth and light from numerous fires in huge fire-places, whose vent was none less than the great crater of Hecla himself. The cheerful blaze illumined time glittering ceiling and sparkling walls, and mellowed the atmosphere to almost tropical geniality; while, to restrain the melting of snow and ice, which naturally would have ensued, and which would have greatly incommoded the guests, the palace was placed under a perpetual spell or charm by a certain witch. This witch when young had been a famous beauty, and a great favorite of the good saint, who was a gay bachelor in those days.

Of course she could not preside publicly at his entertainments; but it was more than surmised in Northern circles that his domestic menage owed much to her occasional care. It was positively asserted that if she chose she could tell what had become of a certain Geyser, which had mysteriously disappeared of late, and there were not wanting dark hints that it had been placed in his kitchen by her agency, in order that he might enjoy a perpetual supply of hot water for his punch, of which it was feared he was becoming very fond.

It is certain that he has been known to lay his finger aside his jolly red nose, wink oracularly, and indulge in a silent inward laugh and chuckle when the subject has been broached to him. But it is not my business to pry into the domestic concerns

of these excellent people, but to give an account of Santa Claus's ball.

The dancing-hall was brilliantly illuminated by certain Northern Lights, which had generously volunteered their services for the occasion, and a great number of Shooting-stars were engaged to act as drivers and torch-bearers to convoy the guests to and from the scene of the festivities. It was expected that this evening would witness the debut of many of the belles and beaux of Toyland, and no pains or expense was spared to make the ball "the affair of the season."

Santa Claus had dispatched his numerous reindeer teams over the American continent to collect his guests; and, lest these accommodations should fail, several Lapland witches had benevolently loaned their broomsticks for the use of such of the company who might prefer them. Jack Frost had done himself more than justice in the upholstery and finishing of the palace, which he could well afford to do, having had the contract from time immemorial. The tables were abundantly spread with viands suited to the tastes and appetites of the guests; while Boreas was engaged to furnish music, assisted by a large deputation of Tin Trumpets and Painted Drums, who were expected to arrive somewhat later in the evening.

Santa Claus had to hear what communications his emissaries might have for him, and this must be attended to before dancing, of course.

The apartments were decorated with hemlock boughs and garlands, brought thither with infinite pains. Ash-berries and holly, with the ancient mistletoe, were tastefully arranged over the walls, and huge sparkling icicles glittered among them in pure and beautiful contrast to the rich dark-green of the evergreens.

The reception-room was thickly carpeted with Iceland moss for the benefit of rheumatic old Dolls, and to enable imprudent young lady Dolls who might have overheated themselves with dancing to resort thither and save themselves a pulmonary attack by inhaling its health-restoring fragrance.

And now, as every thing had been properly attended to, and the arrangements were to his entire satisfaction, the old gentleman, in his best suit of furs, with his pipe laid aside for once, in compliment to the ladies, stood before the great fire-place in the reception-room, with his back to the fire and his coat-tails judiciously drawn on each side, awaiting the arrival of his visitors. He did not have to wait long; for the tinkle of his reindeer' bells were now heard, and the first installment of Dolls soon entered the apartment.

As he expected, they were the invalid guard of the ball, the battered and disabled ones, who had stood one year, at least, of the Nursery campaign, and their battered noses, cracked crowns, and shattered or missing limbs bore evidence to the hard service they had seen.

Polly, the oldest Doll, opened the conversation with grumbling and complaints. She was a very old Doll. Lame and dilapidated, with one arm and a foot gone, and her frock torn half off her shoulders, and her garments soiled and tattered generally, she presented but a sorry appearance.

After extending a courteous welcome to the lame, halt, and blinded party, he lent a listening ear to her grievances.

"If your highness could only know of the goings on in our nursery. Now I don't come here to complain of neglect or ill-usage like some, though I was once a very handsome china Doll, and was dressed and petted as much as the best. For do I complain of my broken arm;" and she sadly held up the stump of her once plump and snow-white arm. "But it is not myself," she went on, wiping her remaining eye with a soiled rag of a handkerchief; "it's the Children I'm so sorry for. Why, their mother never comes into the nursery more than once a day, and often not that. Sometimes

she sweeps in in splendid carriage-dress just ready for a drive, and just touches the children, with 'There, there! don't touch my dress;' and off she goes, while the Children stand at the window and cry themselves sick to see the carriage go off, in which they very seldom have a ride, and never with mamma, unless she goes to fit them with clothes and hats.

"And when little Mary had the scarlet-fever, she left some tiny pills with Kate, the Irish nurse, and told her to give them so often, and the child would be well enough in the morning. But Mary worried and fretted for mamma, who was away at a grand party, and Katy was sleepy and tired, and she muttered to herself—I heard her—'What's the use o' bothering wi' the like of this thrash! I'll just be giving the poor thing a dhrop o' suthin' to bring the shape to her eyes.' And she did give her something out of a bottle, and Mary never woke up out of that sleep. And they carried her away, and I never saw her again. Mary had me in her little bed all time time, and I know all about it."

"How many children are there left?" asked Santa Claus, blowing his nose very hard.

"Two," answered Polly; "another girl and a teething baby. I know just how many teeth he has, for he tries 'em all on me, and I know the minute one is through."

"Poor little things!" sighed the good saint; "I really do not see how I can help them. Is there no aunt or cousin in the house?"

"Yes. Aunt Sophia and Cousin Bell; but they are entirely taken up with Aid Societies, and Lint Circles, and Hospital visiting, and they have no time for the poor children. Mrs. Harvey, the mamma, is wiser. She gave ten dollars to escape the trouble."

"Not so bad! not so bad!" exclaimed the host. "I rejoice that my friends the soldiers are to fare so well. May the shirts be warm and the turkeys fat that I bring, that is all! I don't suppose there is much chance that any juvenile friends are being calculated upon at all, is there?"

"Not much. I fancy the Soldiers' Christmas box engrosses all their time and attention, and the children always dome off second to the public in that house."

"The poor children! the poor children!" put in another doll. "Now where I live there are four little children, and not a rag of new clothes have those poor young ones had this fall or winter, and no prospect of them. And not for lack of money either. Mamma is away to the Hospital, or the Aid Society, or the Lint Company, or what not, as soon as she gets her breakfast, and Tommy's face isn't washed, nor Lizzie's hair curled until the middle of the afternoon, when Betty is all done her work. The cook hasn't made a seed-cake this fall, and every thing nice of jellies or fruit, or whatever there is, goes to the soldiers. The children don't know what a kiss or a story is hardly, it's so long since they heard one; and Charlie's shoes have gaped for patches this month, and Molly's hat is a sight to behold."

"Well, but," interposed the saint, "the soldiers are proper subjects for care and kindness. They need jellies and the children don't; and, poor fellows! they have no mothers to wait upon them."

"Small loss if they are like some mothers I know; but if these mothers don't train and love their own little soldiers at home, there will be another great rebellion one of these days."

"Just my notion," mumbled an old nut-cracker. "If the Southron mothers had only cared for their children when they were little instead of always threatening to send them to convents or boardingschools—and finally doing it to get rid of the trouble they ought themselves to take—South Carolina never would have seceded, and Master Peyton wouldn't have screwed my neck off with rage when he heard of the victory of Fort Donelson."

There was another loud jingle of bells, and a merry load of the aristocrats of Toyland were joyfully ushered in. They were accompanied by a


Admiral Raphael Semmes




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