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“Wolf of the Deep: Raphael Semmes and the Notorious Confederate Raider CSS Alabama (English Edition)”,作者:[Stephen Fox]

Wolf of the Deep: Raphael Semmes and the Notorious Confederate Raider CSS Alabama (English Edition) Kindle电子书

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“Meticulously researched and entertaining. . . . A true tale of pirates, spies and naval warfare that reads like a thriller.” —The Atlanta Journal-Constitution“Excellent. . . . An amazing account of adventures on the high seas, full of spies, treachery, and rousing battles.”—The Charleston Post & Courier “Rollicking. . . . A virtuoso display of historical sleuthing [with] more than enough high seas excitement and intimate revelations to keep the reader turning the pages well into the night.”—The Mobile Press-Register “Amazing. . .sheds light on a seldom observed aspect of [the Civil] War.”—The Tennessean --此文字指其他 kindle_edition 版本。

文摘

Chapter One: The Captain and the Ship

Like most of the military heroes of the Civil War, Raphael Semmes burst into that sudden historical spotlight after an earlier career of no particular distinction. During thirty-five years in the Navy of the United States, he had often clashed with his superiors and railed at the clogged pipelines of promotion. He seemed distracted by intellectual and literary interests, or his second career as a lawyer, or the needs and pulls of his large family. Naval colleagues such as David Dixon Porter, more single-minded than Semmes, doubted his seriousness. “While in the United States Navy, Semmes had little reputation as an officer,” Porter recalled after the war.

"He was indolent and fond of his comfort, so that altogether his associates in the Navy gave him credit for very little energy. What was, then, the astonishment of his old companions to find that Semmes was pursuing a course that required the greatest skill and vigor; for there never was a naval commander who in so short a time committed such depredations on an enemy’s commerce, or who so successfully eluded the vessels sent in pursuit of him."

Porter’s later praise and criticism of Semmes were both filtered through the distorting passions of the opposite sides they had taken in the war. Porter was himself one of the many frustrated Union pursuers of the Confederate commander, and that public failure no doubt sharpened the edges of his dismissal of the prewar Semmes. Yet his final judgment of a former colleague who was so often underestimated seems balanced and well deserved. “The inertness he had displayed while in the United States Navy had disappeared,” Porter wrote of the captain who bestrode the deck of the
Alabama. “He had become a new man.”



At the core of this transformation was Semmes’s internal sense of himself as a Southerner—evolving over many years, prodded along by events, and not finally firmed until after the start of the war. His Roman Catholic ancestors had for five generations lived in the border state of Maryland, a terrain contentiously split between its free-labor northern counties and slaveowning southern regions. In Charles County, twenty-five miles south of Washington, the Semmeses of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries grew tobacco and owned slaves. At times they attained wealth and prominence as members of the local Catholic gentry.

Raphael was born on September 27, 1809, at Effton Hills, Charles County, on the family’s tobacco farm. His only brother, Samuel, was born two years later. Their mother, Catherine Middleton Semmes, died when the boys were young. Their father, Richard Thompson Semmes, then married again and moved the family into town, to the Georgetown district of Washington, where his brothers Alexander and Raphael were thriving in business. But Richard also died young, only thirty-nine years old, leaving no money and two sons who were just fourteen and twelve. The orphans, Raphael and Samuel, were very close, often sleeping in each other’s arms.

Instead of being separated, they were delivered to the joint care of the families of Uncle Raphael and a third uncle, Benedict Joseph Semmes, a physician, farmer, and politician out in Piscataway, Prince George’s County. Even before this formal arrangement, though, young Raphael had already learned important lessons from all his uncles. In the fluid country households of the time, children moved around and spent occasional seasons with their favorite relations. Raphael later remembered being “reared on the banks of the Potomac,” acquiring the swimming skills that, in future naval combats and disasters, would save his life more than once. Another relative, Joseph Semmes, ran the City Tavern near the corners of High and Bridge streets in Georgetown. More than just a drinking joint, it functioned as a major business, transportation, and cultural center— and doubtless a fertile source of practical education for the curious young boy.

Uncle Benedict, an eminent graduate of the Baltimore Medical College with a statewide practice, taught his nephew the private joys and haven of serious reading. “The
habit of study is in itself a great comfort,” Raphael later instructed one of his own children. “I formed this habit myself in early life, under the wise counsels of your Uncle Ben, and it has been a great resource to me ever since.” Though he may have spent a few years at a military academy in St. Mary’s County, and once even offhandedly referred to “the shreds and patches of our college learning,” he was essentially self-educated: a lifelong, intent autodidact, never more at home than when lost in a book.

His uncles Alexander and Raphael inspired a naval career by giving the boy a taste for salt water and distant ports. Alexander owned a fleet of merchant ships sailing out of Georgetown, down the Potomac and on to the sea. Uncle Raphael’s merchant shipping interests often took him across the Atlantic, then home with expansive stories to tell. Hanging around the ships and sailors, perhaps even venturing a quick coastal voyage, young Raphael decided to try life on the ocean. His main home, Uncle Raphael’s crowded house in Georgetown, included five other children, with more to come. It seemed time to venture out on his own. In April 1826, with the necessary political help of his well-connected Uncle Ben, he was appointed a midshipman in the U.S. Navy. The boy, not yet seventeen years old, was now a man.

Years before the founding of the Naval Academy at Annapolis in 1845, Semmes was entering a kind of apprenticeship for future naval officers. On a man-of-war, the midshipmen stood between the officers and the sailors—hence the name—taking orders from above and delivering them below. A tutor gave lessons in the arcane shipboard skills of navigation, astronomy, and artillery. The middies ate together, in messes of eight to twelve men, and slept together in the steerage. As a tight cluster of young men, they inevitably arranged themselves into a pecking order. Within this group, status depended on muscle and assertion. Raphael Semmes, small and bookish, lacked the usual credentials. It could not have been an easy initiation.

In confined circumstances at sea, with hundreds of rough men crowded into tight spaces for months at a time, often through severe and dangerous weather, survival depended on ruthless order and discipline. Every man and object claimed an assigned place. A typical Navy sailing ship of this period had four decks and three masts. (Steam power still lay in the future.) On the top deck, aft of the mainmast at the center of the vessel, the coveted quarterdeck was just for officers; midshipmen could not even set foot on its starboard side. Everyone, the captain included, had to touch his hat or cap upon entering the quarterdeck to acknowledge its significance. Toward the stern, aft of the mizzenmast, lay the raised poop deck. Ringed by bulwarks that held the sailors’ hammocks during the day, it also formed the roof of the captain’s cabin.

The ship’s clock hung over the door of this cabin. In an era when American life on shore was still gearing up to the industrial cadence of clock time, everyday shipboard routine moved to the precise, relentless ticking of that timepiece. The twenty-four hours were sliced into five watches of four hours each and two more—the dog watches—of two hours. Within each watch, the ship’s bell was struck once after thirty minutes, twice after sixty, and so on. The constant question was not What time is it? but How many bells is it? At eight bells the watch changed and men shifted in synchronized patterns among their prescribed spots (below, above, and aloft), in the clockworked rhythms of working, sleeping, and eating.

The food and water were generally terrible. Water stored in large wooden casks smelled and tasted rank; it improved slightly when iron tanks replaced the casks. The daily staples of salt beef and rice were so blandly indigestible that they made occasional dishes of salt pork and bean soup seem like treats. The hard bread, veined by worms, was often rebaked until crisp; if this didn’t improve the flavor, at least it killed the worms. The characteristic overpowering ship odor belowdecks—of cooking, rotting food, cockroaches and vermin, and human waste, all mingling in a bracing stew of bilgewater—did not improve appetites. A prolonged storm meant battened hatches and heavy, stifling air below, with all hands yearning for their first relieving gulps of the sweet oceanic atmosphere up on deck.

Yet Semmes, young and small as he was, found a place in these ships that felt comfortable and kept pulling him back. The basic social unit of shipboard life was the mess. For the middies, that meant about eight men in a small, low-ceilinged room, ten feet by ten feet, somewhere between decks. Each guy had a chest for his clothes. In the center of the room was a table for eating; off to one side, a small pantry for crockery and supplies. A lattice grating overhead let in some light and air, but the room was dark and poorly ventilated. The men were allowed only two candles a day and no open flames at night. They slept on the gun or berth decks, hanging their hammocks from hooks in the overhead beams. Like the members of an infantry unit, or harassed pledges of a college fraternity, the messmates drew together in their shared hardships and common needs—and for lighter moments too. As young men away from home for the first time, exulting in their relative freedom, they all cracked jokes and pulled pranks, and kept each other loose. Semmes even developed a betting habit that frequently cost him his month’s pay.

For Semmes, the ship functioned like a college. He excelled at the educational aspects, broadly defined. Aside from the formal shipboard instruction, he seized the many chances for self-instru...
--此文字指其他 kindle_edition 版本。

基本信息

  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B002361L7U
  • 出版社 ‏ : ‎ Vintage (2009年3月25日)
  • 出版日期 ‏ : ‎ 2009年3月25日
  • 语言 ‏ : ‎ 英语
  • 文件大小 ‏ : ‎ 1860 KB
  • 标准语音朗读 ‏ : ‎ 已启用
  • X-Ray ‏ : ‎ 未启用
  • 生词提示功能 ‏ : ‎ 已启用
  • 纸书页数 ‏ : ‎ 338页
  • > ISBN ‏ : ‎ 1400095425
  • 用户评分:
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