Monday, October 20, 2014

Kearsarge Shows its True Colors


The CSS Alabama under Captain Raphael Semmes was a commerce raider which helped deliver a fatal blow to Northern merchant shipping. In her illustrious two-year career she sailed continuously, never dropping anchor in a Southern port, and sinking 65 Northern ships.  The crews of her sea-going victims were never harmed.  Famed Capt. John Newland Maffitt's son Eugene was serving aboard the Alabama as a midshipman when she was sunk off Cherbourg.

Bernhard Thuersam, Chairman

North Carolina War Between the States Sesquicentennial Commission

"Unsurpassed Valor, Courage and Devotion to Liberty"

"The Official Website of the North Carolina WBTS Sesquicentennial"

Kearsarge Shows Its True Colors

"The vessels were nearly evenly matched [though one] vessel was in perfect condition, and armed with two 11-inch Dahlgren guns against one eight-inch and one seven-inch gun.  The guns of the Alabama were old, the shells defective, the powder spoiled.

But above all, the Alabama, a wooden vessel, was fighting a vessel which concealed under her planks chain cables, which made her "in fact a partially-armored vessel." The "gallant Winslow" allowed his former friend and comrade to offer him a challenge, knowing that Semmes believed the Kearsarge to be a wooden vessel.

Even as it was, with every advantage on the side of her chained-plated foe, it was by a very narrow margin that the Alabama lost the game.  In the old stern post of the Kearsarge – still preserved at Washington – lies [embedded] a seven-inch rifle shell, which, if it had exploded – and it would have exploded had its powder and fuse come from the magazine of the Kearsarge  instead of from that of the Alabama – then the Deerhound would have rescued Capt. Winslow and his crew, and the boats of the Alabama would have rendered prompt assistance."

It will be remembered that the "gallant Winslow" was so far from rendering "prompt assistance" that but for the Deerhound – the English steam yacht – Semmes and his officers and crew would most of them have been drowned. Had he known the Deerhound's intentions, boasted this valiant and "gallant" officer, he would have pursued and sunk her.

And [US Secretary of State William] Seward "claimed it the right of the Kearsarge that "the pirates should drown."  I quote from Percy Greg, who tells how Capt. Winslow tried to get the French authorities to send to him the prisoners the Alabama had captured. The United States government adds that Greg "had obliged every officer and man paroled by the Alabama to choose between the disgrace of breaking his parole and the extreme penalties of martial law.

This fact, not admitting excuse, is simply suppressed by Northern writers. If the United States government would inscribe on their "tablets" these truths of history, and may others of a like character, the [Grand Army of the Republic] GAR would put them in their schoolbooks, and then might come the real "reconciliation between the sections," for the North, seeing their past in its true colors, must needs cry, "I have sinned," until which time the South cannot say, "I forgive."

The Alabama and the Kearsarge, Kate Mason Rowland, Confederate Veteran, December 1900, pg 528)