R.F. Armstrong letter to Mrs. John McIntosh Kell

R.F. Armstrong letter to Mrs. John McIntosh Kell

Descriptive Summary

Repository: Hargrett Manuscripts
Creator: Semmes, Raphael, 1809-1877
Title: R.F. Armstrong letter to Mrs. John McIntosh Kell
Dates: 1895 December 10
Quantity: 0.06 Linear feet (1 folder; housed with minor collections MS 1501 to MS 1506)
Coll. Number: ms1501(m)

Biographical/Historical Note

Richard Fielder Armstrong a Georgia born, Lieutenant in the Confederate States navy, who served on both the Sumter and the Alabama, under Raphael Semmes.

John McIntosh Kell was a naval officer born in Darien, Georgia. From 1851 to 1855 Kell participated in the Perry expedition to Japan, which opened up trade between that nation and the United States. Promoted to lieutenant in 1855, he accompanied the Paraguay expedition three years later. In 1856 he married Julia Blanche Munroe; they had ten children, of whom seven survived to adulthood. In April 1961 Kell was appointed lieutenant in the Confederate navy and ordered to New Orleans. Commander Semmes, CSN, had requested Kell as his first lieutenant and executive officer aboard the CSS Sumter, the South's first commerce raider. After the Sumter ended its service as a raider at Gibraltar, Semmes and Kell were ordered to the Alabama (formerly Enrica or 290), a superior English-built vessel specifically designed as a commerce raider. As Semme's trusted first officer, Kell once again demostrated his ability and loyalty. National Biography Online http://www.anb.org (Retrieved January 20, 2009)

Raphael Semmes, a Confederate rear admiral, was born in Charles County, Maryland. He was named a midshipman in 1826. Witht he outbreak of hostilities against Mexico in 1846, Semmes was assigned duty aboard the frigate Raritan, one of the principal ships assisting General Winfield Scott's landing at Veracruz. Semmes assisted on the assault on the city, commanding a mortar battery placed on the beaches. Though strictly a navy man, he accompanied Scott's forces to Mexico City and saw action at the battles of Cerro Gordo, Churubusco, and Chapultepec. With the surrender of Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna's armies, Semmes returned to Alabama in November 1847 and over the course of the next three years wrote Service Afloat and Ashore during the Mexican War, which was published in 1851 and enjoyed considerable success as a popular account of the war. National Biography Online http://www.anb.org (Retrieved January 20, 2009)

Arthur Sinclair, IV, was born in Norfolk, Virginia, on 5 May 1837, the son and grandson of U.S. Navy officers. He served at sea under his father in the 1850s but had returned to civilian life by the time of the the 1860-61 secession crisis. Sinclair entered Southern naval service and served in CSS United States and in other ships during 1861, and on board the ironclad Virginia during her battle with USS Monitor on 9 March 1862. He was subsequently sent to join CSS Mississippi at New Orleans, but she was destroyed at about the time he arrived. Appointed to the rank of Acting Master in August 1862, he was an officer of CSS Alabama, under Captain Raphael Semmes, during her destructive commerce raiding career in 1862-64. First Lieutenant Sinclair was present during the battle between Alabama and USS Kearsarge on 19 June 1864. When his ship was sunk, he was rescued by the English yacht Deerhound and taken to Southampton. He later served as an officer of the inactive cruiser CSS Rappahannock at Calais, France. Following the Civil War, he primarily lived in Baltimore, Maryland, where he was a merchant. In the 1890s he wrote a memoir of CSS Alabama, entitled "Two Years on the Alabama". Arthur Sinclair died in Baltimore in November 1925. Naval Historical Center http://www.history.navy.mil (Retrieved March 17, 2009)

Scope and Content Note

The collection consists of a letter from R. F. Armstrong, Halifax, Nova Scotia, to Mrs. John McIntosh Kell, Sunnyside, Georgia concerning the book Two Years on the Alabama written by Arthur Sinclair. He states: "...It is one of those books which are not books. It is Memoirs of Service Afloat slavishly followed and shamelessly pirated. He has taken Semmes' volume ... and condensed it ... into a trash pile of rubbish ..." This letter is dated 10 December 1895.

Index Terms

Armstrong, Richard Fielder -- Correspondence
Confederate States of America. Navy. -- Officers--Correspondence
Confederate States of America. Navy. -- Officers--History
Kell, Julia Blanche Munroe, 1836-1917 -- Correspondence
Semmes, Raphael, 1809-1877 -- Memoirs of a service afloat
Sinclair, Arthur -- Criticism and interpretation
Sinclair, Arthur -- Two years on the Alabama

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

R.F. Armstrong letter Mrs. John McIntosh Kell. MS 1501. Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library, The University of Georgia Libraries.

Series Descriptions and Folder Listing

11Letter, 1895 December 10