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NavSource Online: Service Ship Photo Archive

CSS Sumter


Awards, Citations and Campaign Ribbons

Civil War Medal

Screw Steamer:
  • Built as the bark-rigged steamer SS Habana of New Orleans at Philadelphia, PA., for McConnell's New Orleans & Havana Line
  • Purchased by the Confederate Navy at New Orleans in April 1861 and converted to a cruiser by CAPT. Raphael Semmes, CSN
  • Commissioned CSS Sumter, 3 June 1861
  • During the Civil War CSS Sumter cruised the West Indies and south to Maranhao, Brazil, capturing eighteen prizes in six months.
  • Forced to run for Gibraltar in December 1861
  • Disarmed and laid up at Gibraltar in January 1862
  • Sold at auction 19 December 1862 to the Fraser-Trenholm interests
  • Sumter quietly continued her service to the Confederacy under British colors as the blockade runner SS Gibraltar
  • Final Disposition, fate unknown
    Specifications:
    Displacement 473 t.
    Length 184'
    Beam 30'
    Depth of Hold 12'
    Draft unknown
    Speed 10 kts
    Complement unknown
    Armament
    one 8" shell gun
    four 32-pdrs
    Propulsion steam
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    Size Image Description Source
    Sumter 23k
    Namesake
    Thomas Sumter, (born August 14, 1734, Hanover county, Virginia [U.S.]—died June 1, 1832, South Mount, South Carolina, U.S.), legislator and officer in the American Revolution, remembered for his leadership of troops against British forces in North and South Carolina, where he earned the sobriquet “the Carolina Gamecock.” Sumter served in the French and Indian War and later moved to South Carolina. After the fall of Charleston (1780) he escaped to North Carolina, where he became brigadier general of state troops. After successes over the British at Catawba and at Hanging Rock (Lancaster county), he was defeated the same year at Fishing Creek (Chester county). He defeated Mayor Wemyss at Fishdam Ford and repulsed Colonel Banastre Tarleton at Blackstock (both in Union county) in November 1780. After the war Sumter served in the U.S. House of Representatives (1789–93; 1797–1801) and in the U.S. Senate (1801–10). He was the last surviving general officer of the Revolution. Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor was named for him. Text from the Encyclopedia Britannica
    Bill Gonyo
    CSS Sumter 69k Watercolor by Erik Heyl, 1951 of the steamship Habana (also called Havana), painted for use in his book "Early American Steamers", Volume I. SS Havana, of McConnel's New Orleans & Havana Line, became CSS Sumter in 1861 and the blockade runner Gibraltar in 1862.
    US Navy History and Heritage Command photo # NH 63844. Courtesy Erik Heyl.
    Robert Hurst
    CSS Sumter 103k Confederate blockade runner CSS Sumter running the blockade out off New Orleans. June 1861. Note the Union sloop of war USS Brooklyn in the background.
    US Navy History and Heritage Command photo # NH 54479.
    Robert Hurst
    CSS Sumter 194k "The Pirate '[CSS] Sumter' Firing at the Brig 'Joseph Parks,' of Boston." was published in Harper's Weekly. New York, February 1, 1862. Tommy Trampp
    CSS Sumter 129k CSS Sumter running the blockade of Pass a l' Outre, by USS Brooklyn, 30 June, 1861. Lithograph by A. Hoen & Co., Baltimore, MD., copied from "Memoirs of Service Afloat", by Raphael Semmes.
    US Naval History and Heritage Command photo # NH 51797
    Robert Hurst
    Tommy Trampp
    CSS Sumter 142k CSS Sumter leaving New Orleans, 30 June 1861. Line engraving by Evans, from a sketch made at the time, published in "Battles and Leaders of the Civil War", Volume II, page 14.
    US Naval History and Heritage Command photo # NH 42201
    Robert Hurst
    CSS Sumter 112k CSS Sumter coaling at the Dutch island of Curacoa, in the Caribbean Sea. Line engraving from a photograph by S.J. Nathans, published in "Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper", 24 August 1861.
    US Naval History and Heritage Command photo # NH 42202
    Robert Hurst
    CSS Sumter 120k CSS Sumter running the blockade of St. Pierre, Martinique, by USS Iroquois, on the 23 November 1861. Lithograph by A. Hoen & Co., Baltimore, Maryland, copied from Memoirs of Service Afloat, by Raphael Semmes.
    US Naval History and Heritage Command photo # NH 59352
    Robert Hurst
    CSS Sumter 75k "The Capture by the Confederate war ship Sumter of two Federal merchantmen. Captain Semmes."
    Oil on hardboard, 18 7/8" x 12 7/16", bearing the above title on its back. It is signed and dated on the front: "W.H. Moody, 1877"; and on the back "W.H. Moody, 3/3/77". The painting depicts CSS Sumter flying what appears to be an Argentine flag.
    US Naval History and Heritage Command photo # NH 91859-KN (Color). Courtesy of Nigel Burgess, 1981.
    Robert Hurst
    CSS Sumter 76k Wash drawing of CSS Sumter under way by Clary Ray, 1894.
    US Naval History and Heritage Command photo # 98.
    Bill Gonyo
    CSS Sumter 168k Line engraving of CSS Sumter after a drawing by Theodore R. Davis, published in "Harper's Weekly", 16 August 1862, depicting the Confederate Cruiser Sumter at sea.
    US Naval History and Heritage Command photo # 59564.
    Bill Gonyo
    CSS Sumter 155k CSS Sumter entering the Bay of Gibraltar - Her Last Voyage as a "Confederate" Steamer, December 1861.
    Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, 1862.
    Tommy Trampp
    CSS Sumter 112k CSS SumterCSS Sumter, USS Kearsarge and USS Tuscarora at Gibraltar. Artwork published in "Service Afloat: or, the Remarkable Career of the Confederate Cruisers Sumter and Alabama" ..., by Admiral Raphael Semmes, CSN, 1887. It depicts the Tuscarora and Kearsarge keeping watch on the Confederate cruiser Sumter, on 12 April 1862.
    US Naval History and Heritage Command photo # NH 59410
    Robert Hurst
    CSS Sumter 135k CSS Sumter Ship's officers on deck:
    Seated, left to right:
    First Lieutenant William E. Evans;
    Commander Raphael Semmes, Commanding Officer; and
    First Assistant Engineer Miles J. Freeman.
    Standing, left to right:
    Surgeon Francis L. Galt;
    Lieutenant John M. Stribling;
    First Lieutenant John M. Kell, Executive Officer;
    Lieutenant Robert T. Chapman; and
    First Lieutenant Becket K. Howell (Marine Corps).
    US Naval History and Heritage Command photo # NH 42383
    Bill Gonyo
    Sumter 125k Line engraving by H.B. Hall, Jr., New York, featuring portraits of seven officers who served with CAPT. Raphael Semmes in CSS Sumter
    In center is First Lieutenant John McIntosh Kell
    The others are (clockwise from top):
    First Lieutenant Robert T. Chapman;
    First Assistant Engineer Miles J. Freeman;
    Paymaster Henry Myers;
    Lieutenant John M. Stribling;
    Surgeon Francis L. Galt; and
    First Lieutenant William E. Evans. Kell, Freeman and Galt also served with Semmes in CSS Alabama and were present during her engagement with USS Kearsarge.
    US Naval History and Heritage Command photo # NH 57264.
    US Naval History and Heritage Command

    CSS Sumter
    Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships (DANFS)
    Commanding Officers
    01CDR. Semmes, Raphael CSN3 June 1861 - 19 December 1862CSS Sumter
    02LT. Chapman, Robert T. CSN (XO)no datesCSS Sumter
    02CAPT. Reid, E. C. CSNJuly 1863 - 10 July 1864CS Gibraltar
    Courtesy Bill Gonyo

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    Last Updated 23 September 2016