Help support

Search for soldier.

Last Name



Browse by Last Name


About Us
E-Mail Comments

More Information on Names in Article
MacKenzie Semmes

Obituary of John Malcolm MacKenzie, Tacoma, Washington

The war record of John Malcolm MacKenzie, who died in Tacoma, Wash., June 27, 1916, is especially noteworthy in that he was a survivor of the battle between the Virginia (Merrimac) and Monitor and also a survivor of the crew of the Alabama. He was a native of Cameron, La., and when the war began he was less than fourteen years of age. However, in May, 1861, he went to New Orleans, and, after much persuasion, he was allowed to enlist as a cabin boy on the Sumter, then being fitted out by Capt. Raphael Semmes as a Confederate privateer. He reamined with the Sumter until her crew was disbanded at Gibralter in January, 1862. At that time young MacKenzie was promoted to be an ordinary seaman with wages of eight dollars per month, over which, to use his own expression, he was "very much swelled up." With others of the crew, he then took passage on an Englixh ship to New Orleans and from there went to Norfolk and joined the crew of the Virginia in February, 1862, and participated in the famous battle between that ship and the Monitor.

After the destruction of the Virginia, MacKenzie went to Drewry's Bluff and took part in the defense of the fort. Desiring to join his old commander, he made his way to Liverpool and finally succeeded in enlisting as a member of the crew of the "290," afterwards the Alabama, and participated in the many captures made by that vessel. He was on the Alabama when she fought the Kearsarge near Cherbourg, France, and was of those picked up by the English yacht, the Deerhound, when the Alabama went down.

Comrade MacKenzie afterwards served as a seaman on several English merchant ships, then joined the Chilian navy and participated in the war between Chili and Peru; also took part in one or two other South American wars. He concluded to go to Canada, take up land there, and settle down, but got there just in time to take part in the side of the Canadian government in the rebellion led by Louis Riel and Gabriel Lamont. He then had enough of war, so he married and finally settled down in Tacoma, Wash., where for many years he was an efficient engineer in the fire department. He was a member of Pickett Camp, No., 1577, U. C. V., of Tacoma. Having kept a diary during the war, he was able sometime before his death aided by his memory of those events, to write the story of his war experience, with particular reference to his service with Admiral Semmes.

SOURCE: Confederate Veteran Magazine, October, 1916.

Promote Your Page Too