By Irene Hunt
The unforgettable tale of younger Jethro Creighton who comes of age through the turbulent years of the Civil warfare.
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Extra resources for Across Five Aprils
But within a week they were sweet and clean, awnings snugly spread, yards squared to the inch, the rigging hauled tight, all brass ashine. And the men themselves were no longer a gang of derelicts but a crew smartly dressed and anxious to fight. This was the work of Captain Semmes. At first glance, as I have said, he might have been a Frenchman, with his trim shape, his huge mustache with pointed ends that he carefully waxed every morning and evening and wore a little net over at night—a man you might see at a Parisian cafe sipping cognac.
At the forecastle, a very strategic location, was a 7-inch Blakely pivot rifle that could fire a 100-pound shot more than four thousand yards. The other Blakely, an 35 SCOTT O’DELL 8-inch set up abaft the mainmast, we seldom used. Seen from a short distance, her raking masts and sleek block hull were exciting to behold. On September 5, 1862, flying the Stars and Stripes, we ran down the Ocmulgee, our first captive, a large schooner out of Edgartown, Massachusetts. Lashed alongside her was an immense sperm whale.
Fortunately I was only in my bunk four hours when I was routed out and sent back to the engine room. 32 7 T he whaling season had reached its height in the Azores. Northern ships, whalers from New Bedford and Salem and Boston, crammed to the gunwales with oil, were making ready for the long voyage home—Captain Semmes chose to remain quietly in their midst. The Portuguese, who owned the Azores, did not know that he commanded a raider. Nor did the enemy’s whalers. We flew the flag of France. The 290 had arrived at the islands with its decks grimed with rubbish.