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NavSource Online: "Old Navy" Ship Photo Archive

CSS Alabama

Awards, Citations and Campaign Ribbons

Civil War Medal

Screw Sloop-of-War:
  • Laid down as Hull No. 290 in 1862 as a screw sloop Alabama for the Confederacy at John Laird and Sons and Company, Birkenhead, England
  • Launched, 15 May 1862, under the name of Enrica
  • Sailed secretly from Birkenhead, 29 July 1862, arrived at Terceira Island, Azores, 20 August 1862 where she was fitted out as a cruiser by CAPT Raphael Semmes, CSN
  • Commissioned CSS Alabama, 24 August 1862, at sea off Terceira, Azores
  • During the Civil War CSS Alabama roamed the seas capturing and burning many ships while disrupting American commerce
  • CSS Alabama arrived at Cherbourg, France, 11 June 1864, looking for permission to dock and make repairs
  • Denied permission, Alabama coaled and stood out to sea, 19 June where CAPT. John A. Winslow in USS Kearsarge awaited
  • The ensuing battle with Kearsarge lasted just one hour with Alabama being reduced to a sinking wreck forcing CAPT. Semmes to strike his colors
  • Kearsarge rescued the majority of Alabama's survivors, but Semmes and 41 others were picked up by the British yacht Deerhound and escaped to England
  • During her 21-month career CSS Alabama took more than 60 prizes
    Displacement 1,050 t.
    Length 220'
    Beam 31' 8"
    Depth of Hold 17' 8"
    Draft 14'
    Speed 13 kts
    Complement 145
    six 32-pdrs
    one 110-pdr rifle
    one 68-pdr
    Propulsion sail and steam

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    Size Image Description Contributed
    Alabama 76k Painting by Rear Admiral J.W. Schmidt, USN (Retired), 1961, depicting CSS Alabama in chase of a merchant ship.
    US Naval History and Heritage Command photo # NH 85593-KM(Color), courtesy of the Navy Art Collection, Washington, DC., Donation of RADM. J.W. Schmidt.
    US Naval History and Heritage Command
    Alabama 81k Sepia wash drawing by Clary Ray, November 1894 of CSS Alabama underway.
    US Naval History and Heritage Command photo # NH 57836, courtesy of the Navy Art Collection, Washington, DC.
    US Naval History and Heritage Command
    Alabama 257k CSS Alabama built by the British, served as a Confederate commerce raider attacking Union ships.
    "Harper's Encyclopedia of United States History (vol. 1)" (New York, NY: Harper and Brothers, 1912), Benson John Losing, ed.
    Tommy Trampp
    Alabama 290k Woodcut engraving of CSS Alabama with a detailed caption announcing the feared Rebel Cruiser was prowling the Atlantic seaboard in search of Union prey! "New York Tribune" Friday, October 24, 1862 - "We have an accurate portrait of the Rebel steamer ALABAMA, "290." now on a piratical cruise in the Atlantic. This cut is from a photograph in the Navy Department, copies of which are issued to all cruisers. We are happy in publishing this sketch of her to put all merchant vessels going to sea, on their guard. Some of them, no doubt, are destined to fall in with her, perhaps on our own coast, and by having this accurate representation to consult my avoid the fate which has overtaken the vessels she has already destroyed." Tommy Trampp
    Alabama 165k "The Confederate Privateer Steamer 'Alabama' ('290'), Captain Raphael Semmes -- from a photograph taken at Liverpool, where she was built"
    Line engraving published in "The Soldier in Our Civil War", Volume II, page 56, depicting CSS Alabama at sea under steam and sail.
    US Naval History and Heritage Command photo # NH 58740
    US Naval History and Heritage Command
    Alabama 121k CSS Alabama - "The Pirates Decoy" - Captain Semmes of the Confederate Privateer "Alabama" decoying ships toward him by burning a prize vessel.
    From Frank Leslies Illustrated History of the Civil war, circa late 1800's.
    Tommy Trampp
    Alabama 228k Destruction of a schooner off Cumberland Inlet, Georgia by the boats of CSS Alabama, date unknown.
    "Harper's Weekly" Vol VL-266, New York, Saturday, February 1, 1862.
    Tommy Trampp
    Alabama 120k 19th Century photograph of an engraving of CSS Alabama published in "Battles and Leaders of the Civil War", Volume IV, page 601.
    US Naval History and Heritage Command photo # NH 57257
    US Naval History and Heritage Command
    Alabama 132k "In Chase"
    A halftone print of CSS Alabama copied from Arthur Sinclair's "Two Years on the Alabama", 2nd Edition, 1896.
    US Naval History and Heritage Command photo # NH 57259
    US Naval History and Heritage Command
    Alabama 82k 19th Century artwork, depicting CSS Alabama in stormy seas.
    US Naval History and Heritage Command photo # NH 57260
    US Naval History and Heritage Command
    Alabama 107k Lithograph published by Seitz, Hamburg, Germany, circa the 1860s. Its depiction of CSS Alabama is rather inaccurate.
    US Naval History and Heritage Command photo # NH 57258, courtesy of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, April 1936.
    US Naval History and Heritage Command
    Alabama 180k "The Pirate 'Alabama,' Alias '290,' Certified to be correct by Captain Hagar of the 'Brilliant'" Line engraving published in "Harper's Weekly", 1862, depicting CSS Alabama burning a prize.
    US Naval History and Heritage Command photo # NH 58738
    US Naval History and Heritage Command
    Alabama 159k The Confederate Sloop of War "290" or Alabama, "Leaving the Merchant Ship Tonowanda." by W. Wood.
    Line engraving published in "The Illustrated London News", 14 November 1862, depicting CSS Alabama after capturing and releasing the merchant packet Tonowanda, 11 October 1862, off the coast of New England.
    Tommy Trampp
    Print from the sketch of Civil War artist "A RELEASED SAILOR"
    Tommy Trampp
    Alabama 129k Captain Raphael Semmes CSN, CSS Alabama's commanding officer, standing by his ship's 110-pounder rifled gun during her visit to Capetown in August 1863. His executive officer, First Lieutenant John M. Kell CSN, is in the background, standing by the ship's wheel.
    US Naval History and Heritage Command photo # NH 57256 from the collection of Rear Admiral Ammen C. Farenholt, USN(MC), 1931.
    US Naval History and Heritage Command
    Alabama 1066k Lithograph by M. Jackson of Captain Raphael Semmes, CSN, onboard CSS Alabama during the trip to Capetown, South Africa.
    Engraving from “The Illustrated London News. Courtesy of the Library of Congress. National Museum of the U.S. Navy.
    Robert Hurst
    Alabama 349k Lithograph by M. Jackson of First Lieutenant John McIntosh Kell onboard CSS Alabama during the trip to Capetown, South Africa.
    Engraving from “The Illustrated London News. Courtesy of the Library of Congress. National Museum of the U.S. Navy.
    Robert Hurst
    Alabama 134k Photograph by unknown photographer and lithograph by M. Jackson of two of the CSS Alabama's officers on deck, during her visit to Capetown in August 1863. They are Lieutenant Arthur Sinclair IV, (left) and Lieutenant Richard F. Armstrong. The gun beside them is a 32-pounder of Lt. Sinclair's Division. Halftoned image, copied from Sinclair's book, "Two Years on the Alabama".
    US Naval History and Heritage Command photo # NH 57255.
    US Naval History and Heritage Command
    Robert Hurst
    Alabama 429k
    Alabama 155k Line engraving by H.B. Hall, Jr., New York, featuring portraits of seven officers who served with CAPT Raphael Semmes in CSS Alabama and were present during her engagement with USS Kearsarge.
    In center is Lieutenant Richard F. Armstrong.
    The others are (clockwise from top):
    Lieutenant Arthur Sinclair, IV (or Jr.);
    Midshipman Eugene A. Maffitt;
    Midshipman Edwin M. Anderson;
    Master's Mate George T. Fulham;
    First Lieutenant (later Captain) Becket K. Howell, Marine Corps; and
    Acting Master Irvine S. Bulloch. Howell and Armstrong also served with Semmes in CSS Sumter.
    US Naval History and Heritage Command photo # NH 66640.
    US Naval History and Heritage Command
    Alabama 141k "The Approach of the British Pirate 'Alabama'."
    Line engraving after a drawing by Homer, published in "Harper's Weekly", Volume VII, January-June 1863, page 268, depicting an anxious scene aboard a merchant ship as the Confederate cruiser CSS Alabama comes up. This may represent the capture of the California mail steamer SS Ariel off Cuba, 7 December 1862, as there were many ladies among the prize ship's passengers.
    US Naval History and Heritage Command photo # NH 59351.
    US Naval History and Heritage Command
    Alabama 175k "Capture of the United States mail steamer SS Ariel, Captain Jones, off the east end of Cuba, by the pirate [CSS Alabama] ('290'), Captain Semmes, December 7th, 1862. Report of the first officer of the Ariel: 'On the 7th of December, at 1:30 P.M., when rounding Cape Maysi, the eastern point of Cuba, we saw a vessel about four miles to the westward, close under the high land, bark-rigged and under canvas. As there was nothing in her appearance indicating her to be a steamer, her smokepipe being down, no suspicions were aroused until in a short time we saw she had furled her sails, raised her smokestack, and was rapidly nearing us under steam, the American flag flying at her peak. Such was her speed in comparison to ours that in about half an hour she had come up within half a mile of us, when she fired a lee gun, hauled down the American ensign and ran up the Confederate flag. No attention was paid to the summons, and the Ariel was pushed to her utmost speed. She then sailed across our wake, took a position on our port quarter, about four hundred yards distant, and fired two guns almost simultaneously, one shot passing over the hurricane deck, and the other hitting the foremast and cutting it half away. A body of United States marines, consisting of 126 men, passengers on board the Ariel, had been drawn up and armed, but the officers in command deemed it worse than folly to resist, as we could plainly see they were training a full broadside to bear upon us, and Captain Jones gave orders to stop the ship and haul down the ensign.'"— Frank Leslie, 1896
    Frank Leslie Famous Leaders and Battle Scenes of the Civil War (New York, NY: Mrs. Frank Leslie, 1896)
    Tommy Trampp
    123k An 1898 print of a Civil War artists etching.... "The Confederate Steamer "290", afterwards known as "Alabama", Captain Raphael Semmes, burning the American bark "Virginia". Tommy Trampp
    Hatteras 178k 19th Century print, depicting the sinking of USS Hatteras by CSS Alabama, off Galveston, Texas, 11 January 1863.
    US Navy History and Heritage Command photo # NH 53690
    Bill Gonyo
    Hatteras 91k USS Hatteras in action with CSS Alabama, off Galveston, Texas, 11 January 1863. Lithographed by A. Hoen & Co., Baltimore, MD.
    US Navy History and Heritage Command photo # NH 42372
    Bill Gonyo
    Alabama 118k CSS Alabama inport Singapore, late 1863. Photo from the Tennessee State Library and Archives. Tommy Trampp
    Alabama 173k CSS Alabama from an original vintage tobacco/cigarette card issued by WD & HO Wills Bristol & London, 1911, from a set of 50 cards titled "Celebrated Ships" Tommy Trampp
    "The British pirate ship Alabama has been sunk by the American ship of war Kearsarge. The action took place off Cherbourg harbor on the morning of June 19, 1864, beginning about eleven o'clock and lasting more than an hour. The armament of the Alabama is reported by various authorities to have been three heavy rifled guns, with eight broadside 32-pounders; that of the Kearsarge two eleven-inch shell-guns, four 32-pounders, and two smaller guns. The crew of the >b?>i>Kearsarge is said by the same authorities to have been one hundred and fifty that of the Alabama about the same number. The Alabama opened the fight by a single long range shot at two thousand yards, the Kearsarge reserving her fire. The vessels sailed around each other in circles seven times, and the fighting was mainly done at the distance of a quarter of a mile. After the exchange of about a hundred and fifty rounds from the Alabama and a hundred from the , the pirate ship slacked fire, and seemed to be making sail for the shore, which was about nine miles distant. At half-past twelve she was in a sinking and disabled state. The English yacht Deerhound, which had been hovering near during the action, immediately made toward the Alabama, saving about forty men, including SEMMES and thirteen officers. Of the rest of her crew eight were killed, seventeen wounded, and sixty-eight captured. The Kearsarge sustained very little damage, and only three of her crew were wounded. She did not lose a man. Thus, as was fitting, it appears that the Captain of the Alabama was saved by a party of his British abettors, who doubtless came out for that purpose. Others invited him to a public dinner at Southampton, which he declined, and went to Paris to make his dismal report to the rebel emissaries there. The English story that the yacht Deerhound saved him at the request of the Captain of the Kearsarge is a malignant libel upon the character of that officer. No man who has the honor of the navy at heart will easily suppose that an American captain would connive at the escape from just punishment of a buccaneer whose sole business has been to prey upon defenseless ships and burn them, and who has done more than any other man to drive American vessels from the ocean and destroy American commerce. But the great fact remains that the British pirate ship, built by British hands in a British yard, manned by British sailors, paid for by British money, encouraged by British sympathy, and cheered by British lungs, as she sailed from a British port, has been destroyed in the British Channel, and under the noses of British sympathizers, by the brave Jack tars who fight under and for the American flag. " Built in the eclipse and rigged with curses dark" she has gone down to her own place. May the Rebellion, of which she was a fitting instrument, soon follow her.
    Harper's Weekly 16 July 1864.
    Tommy Trampp
    Kearsarge 368k The duel off Cherbourg, France between USS Kearsarge and CSS Alabama, 19 June 1864. The Alabama sinking. "The Illustrated London News" June 24, 1864. Tommy Trampp
    Kearsarge 86k Painting by Xanthus Smith, 1922, depicting CSS Alabama sinking, at left, after her fight with the USS Kearsarge (seen at right).
    US Naval History and Heritage Command photo # K-29827 (Color) . Courtesy of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, Hyde Park, New York.
    US Naval History and Heritage Command
    Alabama 91k "Hauling Down the Flag -- Surrender of the Alabama to the Kearsarge off Cherbourg, France, 19 June 1864"
    Artwork by J.O. Davidson, depicting the sinking of CSS Alabama, as seen from USS Kearsarge. The crew of one of Kearsarge's eleven-inch Dahlgren pivot guns is celebrating their victory.
    US Naval History and Heritage Command photo # NH 1261, collection of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1936.
    US Naval History and Heritage Command
    Alabama 214k "Sinking of the 'Alabama' ("290"), Captain Semmes, After an Hour's Engagement With the 'Kearsarge,' Captain Winslow, Off Cherbourg, June 19th, 1864". Salvaged from a damaged 1885 copy of Frank Leslie's The Soldier in Our Civil War. Tommy Trampp
    Kearsarge 855k Oil on canvas painting by Edouard Monet (1832-1883) of the battle between USS Kearsarge and CSS Alabama, off Cherbourg, France, 19 June 1864. Image courtesy of the Philadelphia Museum of Art/Bridgeman Art Library. Robert Hurst
    Alabama 43k Limited edition print by Dean Mosher that depicts the sinking of the CSS Alabama, 19 June 1864, off the coast of Cherbourg France. Tommy Trampp
    246k Sinking of CSS Alabama. Engraving from "Harper's Weekly", 23 July 1864. Artist unknown.

    It was the morn of a Sabbath day,
    The air was calm and the sky was clear;
    Blue were the waters in Cherbourg bay,
    Where, in the shade of the frowning fort which guards the port,
    Lay the rebel privateer.

    Outside, clearing her decks for the fight,
    Floated the Yankee ship on the seas,
    When the pirate vessel hovered in sight,
    Saucily flaunting her bastard rag,
    The rebel flag,
    Defiantly in the breeze.

    Then the drums on the Kearsarge beat,
    Calling to quarters her gallant crew;
    Every man of them sprang to his feet,
    Eager and anxious for the fray
    On that Sabbath day,
    As the corsair nearer drew.

    Soon a column of dense white smoke
    Was seen to curl from the pirate's side,
    And the booming sound of her cannon broke

    The Sabbath stillness upon the deep,
    And out of sleep
    Woke the echoes near and wide.

    Closer together the two ships came;
    An ominous silence the Yankee kept,
    When on a sudden a sheet of flame,

    Lurid and hot as the fires of hell,
    With hissing shell,
    From each open port-hole swept.

    So for a little more than an hour
    Over the calm, still waters flew,
    Howling and screeching, the iron shower;
    While ever resonant, loud and clear
    Sounded each cheer
    Of the valiant Yankee crew.

    Then the rebel captain, beaten at last,
    Headed his vessel for Cherbourg town,
    But the gallant Kearsarge, following fast,
    Lodged her shell in the pirate's hull
    Without a lull
    Till he hauled his colors down.

    Up went a white flag to the breeze,
    But scarce had it floated a moment there
    When down went the ship into the seas,
    Leaving her crew to find watery graves,
    Or fight the waves-
    So sank the bold corsair!

    Robert Hurst
    Alabama 181k "The sinking of the [CSS] Alabama."—E. Benjamin Andrews 1895.
    E. Benjamin Andrews, History of the United States from the Earliest Discovery of America to the Present Day, Volume IV (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1895)IV:157
    Tommy Trampp
    Alabama 66k Sinking of CSS Alabama
    Civil War Lithographs (J. Steeple Davis + Warren Sheppard) 1899 "The History of Our Country" by Edward S. Ellis published by The History Company, Philadelphia, PA in 1899. Ship lithograph signed in the plate by artist Warren Sheppard.
    Tommy Trampp
    172k Sketch, "Fighting in a Circle" depicts the battle between USS Kearsarge and CSS Alabama on 19 June 1864.
    1888 Civil War Print Sketch from a Century Company New York Publication.
    Tommy Trampp
    202k Sketch depicting a boat from CSS Alabama coming alongside USS Kearsarge to announce the surrender and to ask for assistance. on 19 June 1864.
    1888 Civil War Print Sketch from a Century Company New York Publication.
    Tommy Trampp
    1,099k Boat from the British yacht Deerhound rescuing Captain Raphael Semmes, 19 June 1864.
    Flickr - Internet Archive Book Images, No restrictions, via Wikimedia Commons "Our greater country; being a standard history of the United States from the discovery of the American continent to the present time", 1901, by Henry Davenport Northrop, 1836-1909, Publisher: Philadelphia, National pub co.
    Tommy Trampp
    Alabama 136k Bank advertisement depicting the destruction of CSS Alabama, 19 June 1864, off the coast of Cherbourg France. Tommy Trampp
    Alabama 102k 34" model CSS Alabama. Tommy Trampp
    Alabama 662k Raphael Semmes Monument, Intersection of Government and Royal streets, Mobile, Alabama. sculpture by Caspar Burl (1834-1899). Standing figure of Admiral Raphael Semmes. He wears confederate attire, including a long coat which extends to his knees, and a cap on his head. His proper left arm is bent so that his fist rests on his hip, with sword hanging immediately behind. His proper right arm is at his side with binoculars in his hand. The base features three bronze plaques, including one which depicts the C.S. steamer Alabama at sea. 1899. Dedicated June 27, 1900. Relocated 1980s. Relocated 1990. Rededicated 1992. Image by Basil (real name unknown).
    Inscriptions. (Proper right side of front of plinth:) C. Buberl Sc. 1899/NY (On plaque on upper front of base, raised:) COMMANDER/C.S. STEAMER/ALABAMA/REAR-ADMIRAL/C.S. NAVY/--/SAILOR, PATRIOT,/STATESMAN,/SCHOLAR,/AND/CHRISTIAN/GENTLEMAN (Below upper plaque, incised:) ERECTED JUNE 27, 1900 (On plaque on middle front, incised:) 1861-1865 (Plaque depicting the C.S. steamer Alabama at sea on lower front) (On second to lowest tier of front of base, raised:) RAPHAEL SEMMES signed
    Robert Hurst
    Alabama 263k CSS Alabama plaque at Simonstown, South Africa. Image taken, 1 March 2007, by Kaihsu Ta. Robert Hurst
    North Carolina 41k Newspaper article from the Hackettstown Gazette, February 4, 1864, reports on activity of CSS Alabama in the Indian Ocean. Jan Williams
    Cultural and Historic Resources Specialist
    County of Morris
    Office of Planning & Preservation
    151k Mrs. Britannia: “What’s all this fuss about?” Johnny Bull [personification of England]: It’s cousin Columbia [personification of the United States], Ma, and she says I broke here ships, and I didn’t—and I want to be friends—and she’s a cross thing—and wants to have it all her own way!”

    "The Disputed Account" - Britannia, Claim for damages against Me? Nonsense, Columbia; Don't be mean over money matters."

    Alice in Wonderland (pub. 1865) illustrated by Tenniel, here represented as Cousin Columbia with horizontally striped dress (to suggest the American flag) giving a foretaste of her 1871 costume in Through the Looking Glass. Tenniel did not shy away from using Alice in Wonderland images as illustrations in his Punch cartoons.

    --CSS Alabama was a screw sloop-of-war built in 1862 for the Confederate States Navy at Birkenhead on the River Mersey opposite Liverpool, England by John Laird Sons and Company.[3] Alabama served as a successful commerce raider, attacking Union merchant and naval ships over the course of her two-year career, during which she never docked at a Southern port. She was sunk in June 1864 by USS Kearsarge at the Battle of Cherbourg outside the port of Cherbourg, France.

    Tommy Trampp

    For more photos and information about CSS Alabama see;
  • Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships (DANFS)
  • List of Officers Of The Confederate States Steamer Alabama As They Signed Themselves
  • "The Alabama Affair" Essential Civil War Curriculum
  • CSS Alabama Expeditionary Raids (Wikipedia)
    Eastern Atlantic Expeditionary Raid
    New England Expeditionary Raid
    Gulf of Mexico Expeditionary Raid

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