CSS Alabama

CSS Alabama

Builder: John Laird Sons and Company
Laid down: 1862 Birkenhead, United Kingdom
Launched: July 29, 1862
Commissioned: August 24, 1862
Decommissioned: June 19, 1864
Fate: Sunk in battle with USS Kearsarge

General Characteristics
Type: Sloop-of-war
Area of Operation: Roaming
Displacement: 1050 tons
Length: 220 ft (67 m)
Beam: 31 ft 8 in (9.65 m)
Draft: 17 ft 8 in (5.38 m)
Propulsion: 300 HP Steam engine, sails
Speed: 13 knots (24 km/h)
Complement: 145 officers and men
6 x 32 lb (15 kg) cannons
1 x 110 lb (50 kg) cannon
1 x 68 lb (31 kg) cannon


CSS Alabama was a screw sloop-of-war built for the Confederate States Navy at Birkenhead, United Kingdom, in 1862 by John Laird Sons and Company. Alabama served as a commerce raider, attacking Union merchant and naval ships over the course of her two-year career, during which she never laid anchor in a Southern 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:

The CSS Alabama’s Eastern Atlantic Expeditionary Raid (August–September, 1862) commenced immediately after she was commissioned. She immediately set sail for the shipping lanes southwest and then east of the Azores, where she captured and burned ten prizes, mostly whalers.

The CSS Alabama’s New England Expeditionary Raid (October–November, 1862) began after Captain Semmes and his crew departed for the northeastern seaboard of North America, along Newfoundland and New England, where she ranged as far south as Bermuda and the coast of Virginia, burning ten prizes while capturing and releasing three others.

The CSS Alabama’s Gulf of Mexico Expeditionary Raid (December, 1862 – January, 1863) was centered around a needed rendezvous with her supply vessel, CSS Agrippina. After that, she rendered aid to Texas during Major General Banks invasion near Galveston, Texas. There, she quickly sank the Union side-wheeler USS Hatteras.

The CSS Alabama’s South Atlantic Expeditionary Raid (February–July, 1863) was her most successful raiding venture, taking 29 prizes while raiding off the coast of Brazil. Here, she recommissioned the bark Conrad as the CSS Tuscaloosa.

The CSS Alabama’s South African Expeditionary Raid (August–September, 1863) occurred primarily while ranging off the coast of South Africa, as she worked together the CSS Tuscaloosa.

The CSS Alabama’s Indian Ocean Expeditionary Raid (September–November, 1863) was composed of a long trek across the Indian Ocean. The few prizes she gathered were in the East Indies.

The CSS Alabama’s South Pacific Expeditionary Raid (December, 1863) was her final raiding venture. She took a few prizes in the Strait of Malacca before finally turning back toward France for a much needed refit and long overdue repairs.

Upon the completion of her seven expeditionary raids, Alabama had been at sea for 534 days out of 657, never visiting a single Confederate port. She boarded nearly 450 vessels, captured or burned 65 Union merchant ships, and took more than 2,000 prisoners without a single loss of life from either prisoners or her own crew.

List of Commanders/Crew
Cpt. Raphael Semmes

Painting Information

Books/Articles and other resources

Back to Confederate Cruisers


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: