Supplies for the Confederacy
We finally arrived and my ship was in sight at anchor. I confess to a feeling of relief when I stepped on board from the tug and that feeling was enhanced when we weighed anchor and the screw began pushing us out into the neutral territory of the broad Atlantic.
There were few passengers, and the voyage was without incident save one of no importance except as tending to confirm the theory of transmission of thought without language. My table-neighbor was a young seacaptain from Maine who was returning to his vessel, which he had left in Liverpool some weeks before, to confer with the owners.
One day at dinner, without any previous conversation whatever to lead even indirectly to such a remark, he said, "I believe you are going to Europe to buy arms for Jeff. Davis."
I was in the act of taking a piece of potato on my fork, and, to gain time before answering, I passed the potato to my mouth and then made about as foolish a reply as was possible, saying, "If he wanted arms he would be likely to select a man who knew something about arms." The captain immediately remarked, "Sometimes those fellows that know the most say the least." I could think of nothing to say to advantage, and said nothing; the matter, was never referred to again.
On arriving in London I went to what was then a favorite hotel for Americans, Morley's in Trafalgar Square. The remark of the ship-captain interested me, and I resolved to probe the matter a little by calling on a gentleman with whom I had conversed more freely than with any other passenger. He was a lawyer from Portland, who in his younger days had taught school in Mississippi. He was stopping at a near-by hotel on the Strand. On meeting him, I asked if he knew the object of my visit to Europe. He replied he had not the slightest idea why I was there. I then told him
CALEB HUSE, The Supplies for the Confederacy... Personal Reminiscences and Unpublished History ( Boston, 1904), pp. 18-27.
Huse, a native of Massachusetts and a graduate of West Point, was commandant of cadets at the University of Alabama when the war began. Jefferson Davis, recognizing his competence as an ordnance expert, sent him to Europe to purchase arms for the Confederacy.