Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

U.S. Civil War site dedicated in France
seattle ^ | September 23, 2004 | ap

Posted on 09/23/2004 11:42:19 AM PDT by stainlessbanner

CHERBOURG, France -- American cannon blasts bellowed in the English Channel 140 years ago, and bloodied bodies lined the deck of a sinking Confederate ship. Teary onlookers watched in horror from the Normandy coast.

On June 19, 1864, far from battlefields at home, the USS Kearsarge hunted down and sank a dreaded Confederate raider in one of the most important naval battles of the U.S. Civil War - off the coast of France.

The Confederate State Ship Alabama today lies where it sank under 198 feet of swirling currents about 7 nautical miles off the French town of Cherbourg.

On Thursday, the Civil War Preservation Trust, an American nonprofit group, named this English Channel town a historic Civil War site - the first outside the United States. Officials dedicated a plaque commemorating the battle at the Cite de la Mer museum, which is exhibiting a cannon recovered from the Alabama.

"This was one of the most notable naval battles of the Civil War, and one of the most unique in that it happened so far away from American shores," Robert Neyland, head of underwater archaeology at the U.S. Naval Historical Center, said from Washington.

The Alabama, built for the Confederacy by a company in Liverpool, England, was one of the most successful raiders ever. In 22 months, her crew boarded 447 vessels, including 65 Union merchant ships, and took 2,000 prisoners, according to the CSS Alabama Association.

"This ship caused a lot of panic in the United States," Neyland said, adding that its exploits made it known - and at times celebrated - in many parts of the world.

Five days before its last battle, the Confederate raider stopped for repairs in Cherbourg, where the Kearsarge tracked the ship after a long hunt. Capt. Raphael Semmes, who commanded the three-masted Confederate sloop, then challenged Kearsarge Capt. John Winslow to a one-on-one battle.

French witness accounts and Semmes's journal described a gruesome battle between the steam- and sail-powered ships lasting more than an hour.

The historical center said 10 of the Alabama's 155 crew members were killed in the battle, four drowned and another 15 went missing in action and were presumed dead.

Semmes' great-great grandson, Oliver Semmes, attended Thursday's ceremony.

A French naval mine sweeper discovered the 234-foot-long, 30-foot-wide boat in 1984. Divers and robots have retrieved relics - including the cannon, revolver bullets and coins - in more than 1,000 dives.

After a two-year pause, explorations will resume next year. The ship belongs to the United States, but is located in French territorial waters.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: alabama; civilwar; confederate; dixie; history; semmes; wbts

The U.S. flags drops as Ulane Bonnel, left, President of the CSS Alabama Association, unveils a commemorative plaque during an inauguration ceremony at the Cite de la Mer Museum in Cherbourg, Normandy, Thursday, Sept. 23, 2004. Officials named on Thurday this English channel town as an historic Civil War site, the first outside the United States. The plaque commemorates the battle that took place some 140 years ago during which the USS Kearsarge hunted down and sank the USS Alabama, a dreaded Confederate raider, in one of the most important naval battles of the U.S. Civil War, off the coast of France. (AP Photo/Franck Prevel)

1 posted on 09/23/2004 11:42:19 AM PDT by stainlessbanner
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: stainlessbanner

Raphael Semmes bump.


2 posted on 09/23/2004 11:46:31 AM PDT by wideawake (God bless our brave soldiers and their Commander in Chief)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: stainlessbanner

Huh! The only reason Raphael Semmes lost the battle was that the CSS Alabama had to fight it with French powder--his was unusable after many weeks at sea!


3 posted on 09/23/2004 11:46:45 AM PDT by meandog ("Do unto others before they do unto you!")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: stainlessbanner

...bump to Maryland FReepers as Semmes was born in Charles County!


4 posted on 09/23/2004 11:48:15 AM PDT by meandog ("Do unto others before they do unto you!")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: nolu chan; tjwmason; carenot; carton253; sionnsar; Free Trapper; dcwusmc; Wampus SC; Fiddlstix; ...
Dixie News ping
5 posted on 09/23/2004 11:56:36 AM PDT by stainlessbanner
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: meandog
Huh! The only reason Raphael Semmes lost the battle was that the CSS Alabama had to fight it with French powder--his was unusable after many weeks at sea!

Not sure if Semmes was using French powder, or not. His ship, the CSS Alabama, was in need of an extensive refit. His hull needed scraping & his boilers needed maintenance, so he couldn't run even if he'd wanted to.

Still, with all those disadvantages, one of his shells lodged in the USS Kearsarge's stern post -- and failed to explode. Had that shell gone off, the US ship would have been crippled & may have sunk.

6 posted on 09/23/2004 11:58:14 AM PDT by Tallguy (If the Kerry campaign implodes any further, they'll reach the point of "singularity" by election day)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: stainlessbanner

May they rest in peace. Deo vindice!


7 posted on 09/23/2004 11:59:02 AM PDT by 4CJ (Laissez les bon FReeps rouler)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: stainlessbanner

"Any whiskey at the ceremony?"

8 posted on 09/23/2004 12:00:28 PM PDT by KantianBurke (Am back but just for a short while)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: stainlessbanner

"American cannon blasts bellowed in the English Channel 140 years ago..."

And the French promptly surrendered.


9 posted on 09/23/2004 12:01:23 PM PDT by Owl558 (Pardon my spelling)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: stainlessbanner

War for Southern Independence BUMP.


10 posted on 09/23/2004 12:05:07 PM PDT by reelfoot
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Tallguy
Here it is:
11 posted on 09/23/2004 12:05:10 PM PDT by BenLurkin (We have low inflation and and low unemployment.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: stainlessbanner
Here's another link.
I was going to FRmail it to you, but this is just as good a place as any to post it.

Historians believe that Civil War soldiers buried in unusual site

12 posted on 09/23/2004 12:06:16 PM PDT by Constitution Day
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: stainlessbanner

Even today the French would like nothing more than to split the US.


13 posted on 09/23/2004 12:06:52 PM PDT by Darkwolf377
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: stainlessbanner; All

Here are the first hand accounts of the action: http://www.civilwarhome.com/kearsargeors.htm


14 posted on 09/23/2004 12:09:49 PM PDT by BenLurkin (We have low inflation and and low unemployment.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: stainlessbanner
French govt. site discussing the archaeology involved. Has a couple good photos.
15 posted on 09/23/2004 12:10:46 PM PDT by Constitution Day
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: stainlessbanner

It is interesting to note connections between the Crimean War and our own Civil War.


16 posted on 09/23/2004 12:45:40 PM PDT by GOP_1900AD (Stomping on "PC," destroying the Left, and smoking out faux "conservatives" - Right makes right!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: meandog

Plus the crew were a little hung over.


17 posted on 09/23/2004 12:54:41 PM PDT by U S Army EOD (John Kerry, the mother of all flip floppers.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: stainlessbanner

!!!!!!!


18 posted on 09/23/2004 2:22:20 PM PDT by stand watie ( being a damnyankee is no better than being a racist. damnyankee is a LEARNED prejudice.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: Owl558
LOL!

free dixie,sw

19 posted on 09/23/2004 2:23:32 PM PDT by stand watie ( being a damnyankee is no better than being a racist. damnyankee is a LEARNED prejudice.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: stainlessbanner; All
a serving US Army chapliain, who is also a SCV member, plans to head over to GB this fall04/winter05 to pray at the graves of all the (KNOWN) CSA vets buried there.

if any of you know of any, please freepmail me with the grave locations.

FYI, we have "good 'ole rebs" buried all over the British Isles.

free dixie,sw

20 posted on 09/23/2004 2:26:27 PM PDT by stand watie ( being a damnyankee is no better than being a racist. damnyankee is a LEARNED prejudice.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: U S Army EOD

EOD...were you trained at Indian Head (Navy) Md.?


21 posted on 09/23/2004 7:03:46 PM PDT by meandog ("Do unto others before they do unto you!")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 17 | View Replies]

To: meandog

Yep sure was. Stared in about October 1966.


22 posted on 09/23/2004 9:40:11 PM PDT by U S Army EOD (John Kerry, the mother of all flip floppers.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 21 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson