[FlagFight] Capt. Semmes CSS Ala. WBTS
From: "james king"
Posted for Info. & educational purposes.
Commander SCV Camp 141
Lt. Col. Thomas M. Nelson
The following conversation between English ship Captain Hillyar and Capt. Raphael Semmes-Confederate Ship CSS Alabama occurred during the war on August 5th, 1861. It is a summary from a well-educated Southerner who is stating his reasons for fighting.
Captain Hillyar expressed surprised at Captain Semme’s contention that the people of the South were "defending ourselves against robbers with knives at our throats", and asked for further clarification as to how this was so, the exchange below occurred. I especially was impressed with Semmes’ assessment of yankee motives – the creation of "Empire"!
Semmes: "Simply that the machinery of the Federal Government, under which we have lived, and which was designed for the common benefit, has been made the means of despoiling the South, to enrich the North", and I explained to him the workings of the iniquitous tariffs, under the operation of which the South had, in effect, been reduced to a dependent colonial condition, almost as abject as that of the Roman provinces, under their proconsuls; the only difference being, that smooth-faced hypocrisy had been added to robbery, inasmuch as we had been plundered under the forms of law"
Captain Hillyar: "All this is new to me", replied the captain. "I thought that your war had arisen out of the slavery question".
Semmes: "That is the common mistake of foreigners. The enemy has taken pains to impress foreign nations with this false view of the case. With the exception of a few honest zealots, the canting hypocritical Yankee cares as little for our slaves as he does for our draught animals. The war which he has been making upon slavery for the last 40 years is only an interlude, or by-play, to help on the main action of the drama, which is Empire; and it is a curious coincidence that it was commenced about the time the North began to rob the South by means of its tariffs. When a burglar designs to enter a dwelling for the purpose of robbery, he provides himself with the necessary implements. The slavery question was one of the implements employed to help on the robbery of the South. It strengthened the Northern party, and enabled them to get their tariffs through Congress; and when at length, the South, driven to the wall, turned, as even the crushed worm will turn, it was cunningly perceived by the Northern men that ‘No slavery’ would be a popular war-cry, and hence, they used it.
It is true that we are defending our slave property, but we are defending it no more than any other species of our property – it is all endangered, under a general system of robbery. We are in fact, fighting for independence.