Morocco "Rebels Captured In Tangiers"
On January 18, 1862, the CSS Sumter, desperately in need of repairs and coal, limped into the Bay of Gibraltar. During the previous six months the Confederate commerce raider had captured 18 Union ships and became the scourge of Northern commercial shipping. Learning that local merchants, under the influence of the U.S. consul to Gibraltar, would not sell him any coal, Sumter captain Raphael Semmes dispatched one of his crew members, paymaster Henry Myers, to Cadiz, Spain, to seek a coal supply. A former U.S. consul to Cadiz, Thomas T. Tunstall from Alabama, volunteered to accompany Myers on the mission.
On the morning of February 19, Myers and Tunstall boarded the French mail packet Villa de Malaga for the short trip to Cadiz. At the ship's first stop in Tangiers, Morocco, to pick up passengers and provisions, the two men decided to take a quick sight-seeing tour ashore in the neutral port. They were enjoying the spectacles of the exotic North African city when they were suddenly accosted and taken into custody by a squad of heavily armed Moroccan soldiers. With the Moroccans was an agitated American, U.S. Consul to Morocco James J. DeLong, who had asked the soldiers to assist in the arrest of U.S. citizens. DeLong angrily exclaimed to the two men: "Oh, you've been burning ships. damn you! I'll put a stop to that." Myers and Tunstall were taken to the U.S. consulate, where they were shackled and confined under heavy guard.
DeLong's impulsive action plunged the United States into a diplomatic international quarrel. The Moroccan government demanded that the two men, captured on Morocco's neutral soil, be freed. France, claiming that the men were only temporarily disembarked from a French ship and were, therefore, still under French protection, also demanded their release. A mob of 300 to 400 foreign nationals from Morocco's European community gathered outside the consulate and demanded freedom for the Southerners.
Fascinating Fact: DeLong summoned a U.S. warship to Tangiers to bully the Moroccan government into ensuring the Southern prisoners were not freed.
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