Friday, February 6, 2009

Fate of the CSS Alabama Project (kinda...)

Left - Tim Lennox (with sword) and Bob Corley (with beard) contemplate their fate and that of the CSS Alabama Project. :- )

The official word from APT management is that the CSS Alabama story “… is a wonderful project and… we need to keep looking for funding.”

With both of us looking for full time employment any hope of continuing active participation in the project is a dead issue. That’s sad for more than just our personal situations.

The fervor and intensity with which someone approaches a project is directly related to their personal interest in it. Unfortunately we don’t see anyone in public television in Alabama with the kind of passion and drive for this project that will be needed to see it through to completion. We hope we're wrong, and while this blog may be only sporadically updated we will continue our quest to get this story told in one form or another, through one medium or another, by any means that presents itself.

We have made some wonderful acquaintances and we hope some long-term friends. The participation of all the interview subjects gave us added incentive to develop a very workable, achievable budget for both domestic and international travel. The budget was well below what a documentary of this magnitude and scope should cost, due to some fine-tooth-combing of how we could get this done, in high quality (HD to be sure), within a reasonable time frame (12 months if done full-time), at an astronomically low cost.

But that’s water under the keel. Where do we go from here?

We hope to stay in touch with all of you, maybe even make a few new acquaintances and friends, and continue moving toward the goal of getting this fascinating, complicated, intriguing story, accurately and faithfully told.

Tim Lennox

Bob Corley

Sunday, January 11, 2009

CSS Alabama documentary on hold

We (Tim Lennox and Bob Corley, neither of whom is pictured at left) have had our respective positions at Alabama Public TV eliminated, placing "The CSS Alabama Project" on hold, if not dead in the water (forgive the nautical pun).

It's impossible at this point to say what will happen with the interviews already conducted, or with the project as a whole. The full story of the ship and her captain (who IS pictured at left) has yet to be told in the TV medium.

The handful of films produced - all of them well done - have focused either on the wreck discovery and recovery of artifacts, or presented a general historical overview, due to time and budget constraints omitting much of the detail that makes the story of Raphael Semmes and The CSS Alabama so fascinating.

Semmes and the Alabama present in microcosm the drama and tragedy that ripped the U.S. apart in 1861, and that has reverberated through our history for generations. We hope the opportunity to tell this story remains alive and under consideration with Alabama Public TV. As soon as we find out the fate of the project we'll post it on this blog.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Ship Cannon Restored

Paul Mardikian, Senior Conservator of the submarine H.L. Hunley, poses with a cannon recovered from the wreckage of the CSS Alabama. Full story.
Photo Credit: Melissa Haneline, The Post and Courier

Thursday, January 1, 2009

This Month in History

Jan. 1, 1863 – Alabama crewmen leave a wooden headstone on a small deserted island mocking Abraham Lincoln and the recently enacted Emancipation Proclamation.

Jan. 11, 1863 – Alabama sinks the USS Hatteras off the Texas coast, marking the first naval combat between steam ships

Jan. 13, 1861 – Semmes visits Alabama U.S. Senator Clement C. Clay and tells the Senator he has decided to leave the Union.

Jan. 14, 1861 – Confederate Government issues a plea to naval officers resigning from the U.S. Navy to take their ships with them! Not a single officer does so.

Jan. 16, 1961 – John Kell attends a meeting in Milledgeville Georgia to decide on secession. The decision is made in secret session on the 18th. Within an hour, Kell had written his letter of resignation. “I have no apologies to make. While I loved my country, I loved honor more.”

Jan. 17, 1862 – Semmes sails the CSS Sumter from Cadiz, Spain to Gibraltar

Jan. 18, 1862 – Semmes captures and burns The Neapolitan, the first ship carrying what Semmes judges to be an explicitly military cargo; sulphur, which can be used to make gunpowder.

Jan. 21, 1861 – Senators from seceding states give farewell speeches in the U.S. Capitol. Semmes is present.

Jan. 23, 1823 – John McIntosh Kell, Semmes’ second in command on the Alabama, is born.

Jan. 23, 1861 – Semmes meets with Jefferson Davis at his home on F. Street in D.C.

Jan. 26, 1863 – Alabama capture and burns The Golden Rule, using spare rigging and a mast from The Golden Rule to repair damage to the Alabama.