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Wolf of the Deep: Raphael Semmes and the Notorious Confederate Raider CSS Alabama by Stephen FoxThe electrifying story of Raphael Semmes and the CSS Alabama, the Confederate raider that destroyed Union ocean shipping and took more prizes than any other raider in naval history.
In July, 1862, Semmes received orders to take command of a secret new British-built steam warship, the Alabama. At its helm, he would become the most hated and feared man in ports up and down the Union coast—and a Confederate legend. Now, with unparalleled authority and depth, and with a vivid sense of the excitement and danger of the time, Stephen Fox tells the story of Captain Semmess remarkable wartime exploits. From vicious naval battles off the coast of France, to plundering the cargo of Union ships in the Caribbean, this is a thrilling tale of an often overlooked chapter of the Civil War.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Civil War Naval Slugfest: Kearsarge vs Alabama
It was Captain Semmes' intention to drydock his ship and receive repairs at the French port. She was manned by around sailors and officers. Kearsarge had a form of makeshift armor-cladding, medium-weight chain cable triced in tiers along her port and starboard midsections, basically acting as the equivalent of chain mail for vulnerable sections of her hull, where shot could potentially penetrate and hit her boilers or steam engine.
The history of CSS Alabama
However, most people would be hard pressed to identify the other six ships called Alabama. See for yourself. The "Almost Alabama" The first ship whose name was to be Alabama was laid down in She was a gun ship-of-the-line powered by sail, but took so long to be constructed, that she wasn't launched until the outbreak of the Civil War, at which time her name was changed to New Hampshire. Sailing the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean waters the ship captured more than a dozen pirate and slave trading vessels during the 's. She was a steam-powered side-wheeler, and she entered naval service in
Subsequent ships were later named Kearsarge in honor of the ship. Pickering in command. Soon after, she was hunting for Confederate raiders in European waters. Kearsarge departed Portsmouth on 5 February for the coast of Spain. From there, Alabama went on to become the most successful commerce raider in naval history. The following year, on 14 June , Kearsarge arrived at Cherbourg and found Alabama in port; the raider had returned there for much needed repairs after a very long, multiple ocean cruise at the expense of 65 Union merchant ships.
Operating in England, Confederate agent James Bulloch was tasked with establishing contacts and finding vessels for the fledgling Confederate Navy. As the British government remained officially neutral in the American Civil War , Bulloch was unable to purchase ships outright for military use. Laid down in , the new hull was designated and launched on July 29,
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While there, the formidable commerce raider destroyed seven more ships before redoubling the Cape of Good Hope and returning to Europe. According to survivors of the battle, the two ships steamed on opposite circular courses as each commander tried to cross the bow of his opponent to deliver a heavy raking fire. Semmes subsequently struck his colors and sent a boat to surrender to his opponent. Ratification of the agreement established a precedent for international cooperation as it applies to archaeological research, as well as the protection of unique historic shipwrecks. This was the first time that American archaeologists actually visited the site; during previous visits, American scholars and scientists were only able to observe videotape of the French team at work, or debrief divers once they returned to the surface. This agreement was effective for five years and could be renewed by mutual consent once the five-year limit expired.
Alabama was built in secrecy in by British shipbuilders John Laird Sons and Company , in north west England at their shipyards at Birkenhead , Wirral , opposite Liverpool. The construction was arranged by the Confederate agent Commander James Bulloch , who led the procurement of sorely needed ships for the fledgling Confederate States Navy. The contract was arranged through the Fraser Trenholm Company, a cotton broker in Liverpool with ties to the Confederacy. Under prevailing British neutrality law, it was possible to build a ship designed as an armed vessel, provided that it wasn't actually armed until after it sailed into international waters. In light of this loophole, Alabama was built with reinforced decks for cannon emplacements, ammunition magazines below water-level, etc. Initially known as "hull number " to hide her identity, the ship was launched as Enrica on 15 May and secretly slipped out of Birkenhead on 29 July