Sunday, August 11, 2013

Letter Home from the Captain of the CSS Florida

Actual Photo of CSS Florida
150 years ago today (August 11, 1863), the Milwaukee Sentinel published a letter from Commander John N. Maffitt, captain of the famed raider CSS Florida, to his children.

The Florida had been the focus of massive news coverage in the North over the previous few weeks. Her exploits were achieving legendary status and even in the Union states the movements of the ship drew great attention and readers clamored for updates and information.

The following letter from Commander Maffitt was dated from Brazil on May 12, 1863, and was reprinted by the Sentinel from the Fayetteville (NC) Observer:

Commander John N. Maffitt
I am very well, and very, very busy. Last night I saw a gentleman who ten days ago dined on board the Alabama with Eugene; he was then very well, and in high spirits, having just received letters from you all at home, by an English bark.

I feel happy to tell you that the Florida has been doing a fine business; up to May 11 she had destroyed $2,700,000 of Yankee commerce, and eluded thirteen Federal men-of-war sent to destroy her and the Alabama.

The Florida and Alabama destroyed ten of the enemy's largest vessels on April 22, within sixty miles of each other, but up to May 18 have not met. Regards to Mr. Hale, and ask him please to mention (as it may quiet much anxiety) that up to this date all are well on both vessels.
I cannot write what my plans are - the duty is very terrible upon one's mental and physical ability; but I am doing all in my power for the benefit of the Confederacy. - Dare not write more. I embrace you all, my dear children. May God bless you, and ere long unite us in peace and prosperity.