A friend brought us a picture of the CSS Alabama last week which we are having framed and will proudly hang in our Relic Room. You may be interested to know that the ship was built in secrecy in 1862 by British shipbuilders in NW England. This was arranged by the Confederate agent James Dunwoody Bulloch, who was leading the procurement of sorely needed ships for the Confederate States Navy.
Ralphael Semmes took command of the new cruiser. It was composed of six broadside, 32 pounder, naval smooth bores and two larger and more powerful pivot cannons. It was powered by both sail and two 300 horsepower (220kW) horizontal steam engines. Alabama could make up to ten knots under sail alone and 13.25 knots with sail and steam power were used together.
She burned 65 Union vessels of various types, most of them merchant ships. During her raiding ventures, the captured ships’ crews and passengers were never harmed, only detained until they could be placed aboard a neutral ship or placed ashore in a friendly or neutral port.
All together, Alabama conducted a total of seven expeditionary raids, spanning the globe, before heading back to France for refit and repairs and a date with destiny. I will tell about that in my next blog.