Yankee Treachery and The Alabama
June 11th, 1864
For two long years the CSS Alabama went about the hard work of ridding the seas of the scourge of yankee commerce. She did an excellent job.
After such a long stretch though, she found herself in dire need of supplies, and service. After some consideration, she stopped at what was supposed to be a neutral port of Cherbourg France. The next day, the Admiral went on shore to obtain permission of the port Admiral to dock the Alabama and repair her. The port Admiral said-that as all the docks at Cherbourg were government property, he could not grant the request until he could gain the Emperor's consent.
The Emperor was busy.
Word had spread quickly, and soon a familiar yankee ship took up a position just outside the port.
The Admiral knew delay was unwise. The longer they waited, the more Yankees would appear. He summoned his first mate to his quarters, and they discussed their options, and the prospects of defeating the Yankee ship, which they now knew to be the Kearsarge.
An honest comparison of the two ships seemed to suggest that it should be an even fight, but as usual... Yankees ain't honest.
The Kearsarge had recently been refitted with armour, which was hidden below wood planks. The other advantages were obvious... she had a couple bigger guns than the Bama, and she had fresh powder and a well rested crew.
Not knowing about the armour, the Alabama steamed out to meet the Kearsarge. Before the battle... which can be described in but a few words... but lasted about 90 minutes... the Admiral of the Alabama said this to his crew:
'Officers and seamen of the Alabama! You have at length another opportunity of meeting the enemy--the first that has been presented to you since you sank the Hatteras! In the meantime, you have been all over the world, and it is not too much to say that you have destroyed and driven for protection under neutral flags one-half of the enemy's commerce, which, at the beginning of the war, covered every sea. This is an achievement of which you may well be proud, and a grateful country will not be unmindful of it. The name of your ship has become a household word wherever civilization extends. Shall the name be tarnished by defeat? The thing is impossible! Remember that you are in the English Channel, the theater of so much of the Naval glory of our race, and that the eyes of all Europe are at this moment upon you. The flag that floats over you is that of a young republic who bids defiance to her enemies whenever and wherever found. Show the world that you know how to uphold it! Go to your quarters !'
The battle took place at around 500 yards... with the two ships circling one another... keep their broadsides to the other... and blasting away. It didn't take long to notice the effect of the armour on the Kearsarge. The shells from the Alabama simply bounced off her and fell to the sea.
Even so... An 8 incher's shot did lodge deep into the stern of the Kearsarge... but due to old powder and a defective fuse, it didn't explode. Had it, I would be recounting the tale of the sinking of an entirely different ship.
At last it became apparent that the Bama was lost... and the Admiral gave the order to strike her colors.
After she did so, the despicable yankee, in despicable yankee fashion, fired 5 more shots into her after the colors were struck. Not only that, but after the Bama sank, the pathetic yankees simply sailed away, leaving the confederate sailors to drown. History should note that the Alabama saved every member of the crew of the Hatteras, at great cost, and great effort.
Being good rebels though the crew of the Alabama did not drown. Thanks to a Brit yacht that happen to be around watching the show, the majority of the crew was saved, along with most of the officers.
It should be known that the one limey was more helpful to the Confederates than the French who were supposedly our allies.
Maybe later we'll talk about the CSS Arkansas... the most valient ship to ever sail.