Tuesday, December 2, 2008

This month in CSS Alabama History

Dec 2, 1863 Alabama arrives at the French Island of Pulo Condore. Lt. Kell builds a partly submersible compartment. Ship’s pumps keep the compartment clear of water as the careened hull is scraped.

Dec 3, 1861 Sumter captures and burns The Vigilant.

Dec 5, 1862 Alabama captures and bonds The Union.

Dec. 5, 1864 President Lincoln requests the sternpost of Kearsarge, with an unexploded shell from the Alabama imbedded in its timbers, be cut out and transported to Washington, D.C., where it can be seen today in the Naval Historical Center.

Dec 7, 1862 Alabama captures and bonds the California steamer The Ariel off Cuba with 700 passengers on board including 150 Marines.

Dec 10, 1846 While chasing a blockage runner during the Mexican War, Semmes loses the USS Somers in a storm. Forty-six crewmen are lost. Semmes is later cleared of any wrongdoing and assigned to The Raritan, where he shares quarters with Lt. John Winslow, who had also just lost a ship, the brig Morris, on a reef off Vera Cruz, Mexico. The two hard-luck officers would later meet under much different circumstances off the coast of Cherbourg, France.

Dec 11, 1860 Semmes writes from his position at the Lighthouse Board in Washington, D.C., “The great government under which we have lived so long, and prospered so greatly, is probably destroyed.”

Dec 11, 1861 Sumter is crippled by a cyclone.

Dec 1864 Semmes, returning from England by way of Mexico after the sinking of Alabama, meets son Oliver in Louisiana. They travel together to Mobile.

Dec. 15-21, 1865 Semmes arrested at his home in Mobile, taken to New Orleans, and then shipped to New York on board the steamer Costa Rica, exiting the mouth of the Mississippi River by the same route he used in 1861 to run the Union blockade in the Sumter.

Dec. 21, 1863 Alabama sails into Singapore.

Dec. 24, 1863 Alabama captures and burns The Martaban, which is actually The Texas Star attempting to avoid capture with an ownership and name change.

Dec. 25, 1863 Alabama spends Christmas Day at Malacca.

Dec. 26, 1863 Alabama captures and burns The Sonora.

Dec. 26, 1863 Alabama captures and burns The Highlander, by some accounts displaying the new flag of the Confederacy for the first time.

Dec. 27, 1865 Semmes arrives in New York City under arrest, staying at the Astor House, the same place he stayed in 1861 while shopping for ships for the Confederacy.

Dec. 29, 1865 Semmes, under arrest, is taken by train to Washington, D.C. and kept in the dispensary of the Navy Yard for five days, after which he is moved to the attic. During confinement he pens a diary which now resides at the Alabama Dept. of Archives and History. The Dahlgren gun, reportedly the weapon that eventually destroyed the Alabama in her battle with the Kearsarge, was invented at the Navy Yard where Semmes is held captive.

Dec. 31, 1864 Kearsarge crewmember Joachim Please, an African-American sailor, is awarded the CMO for his actions during the battle with Alabama.

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