THE 'KEARSARGE' AND THE 'ALABAMA' - PAGE 3

USS Kearsarge & CSS Alabama pages 1, 2, 4 & 5 are now on site. PRIOR PAGE / NEXT PAGE

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MORE 'ALABAMA'/RAPHAEL SEMMES DATA

1) The image which follows appeared in 'Frank Leslie's Illustrated History of the Civil War'. And the text which accompanied it is as follows:

'The plan that Captain Semmes adopted to bring fish to his net was as follows: Whenever he captured a ship, after taking from her all that he and his officers wanted, he lay by her until dark, and then set her on fire. The light of the burning ship could be seen many miles, and every other ship within seeing distance stood toward the light, thinking to rescue a number of poor fellows from destruction. The pirate kept in the immediate vicinity, awaiting the prey that was sure to come, and the next morning the poor fellows who to serve the cause of humanity had gone many miles out of their course found themselves under the guns of the Alabama, with the certainty that before another twenty-four hours they would share the fate of the ship they went to serve.'

2) The Webmaster acquired for a few dollars, a copy of an old illustrated book entitled 'Great Events of the 19th Century'. Its condition is quite poor and the title page which would have indicated the name of the publisher and its date of publication is one of some missing pages. But it had within it a print of a work by Warren Sheppard. No date indicated. Here I present most of that Warren Sheppard image, with the image tidied up by the removal of black marks etc. & a little sky cut off the top. The text under the print read:

        THE SINKING OF THE "ALABAMA," THE MOST FAMOUS OF ALL CONFEDERATE CRUISERS
The battle between the Kearsarge and the Alabama took place off the coast of France,  June, 1864. "The famous cruiser was going down, and the boats of the Kearsarge were hurriedly sent to help the drowning men. The stern settled, the bow rose high in the air, the immense ship plunged out of sight, and the career of the Alabama was ended forever."

It is possible that the webmaster has access to this print twice. It is also in 'Famous Men and Great Events of the Nineteenth Century' by Charles Morris, LL.D., published by International Publishing Co., of Philadelphia and Chicago in 1899.

MORE 'KEARSARGE'/JOHN WINSLOW DATA

1) The image which follows appeared in 'Frank Leslie's Illustrated History of the Civil War'.


2) I was interested to read here that the Kearsarge was built of wood that came from the New Hampshire mountain of the same name (Mt. Kearsarge) and from wood that grew within sight of that mountain.

And Mt. Kearsarge? I learn that there are, in fact two of them! The Mt. Kearsarge from which the Kearsarge was named, is northwest of Concord, NH. It is not a particularly big mountain really - 2,937 feet only. The name perhaps originates from a native American word meaning 'notch-pointed-mountain of pines'. But I am sure that the Kearsarge would have been built of oak rather than pine.

Dick Cutting of the Town of Warner, NH, tells me that indeed oak trees do grow on the lower slopes & in the vicinity. In abundance, apparently! (The other Mt. Kearsarge is further east  near North Conway.)

John Winslow in buried in Forest Hills Cemetery in Boston, Massachusetts. At the grave site is a granite boulder with a tablet, part of the text of which is visible above. How very appropriate it is that the boulder was brought from the 'Concord' Mt. Kearsarge! The full text of the inscription is available on this page. The image is courtesy of the Town of Warner, New Hampshire.

3) The Dahlgren Gun? The gun bears the name of John Adolph (or more likely Adolphus) Bernard Dahlgren (1809 - 1870), a career Navy man who joined the service as a seaman at the age of 17. In 1847, 21 years later, he was assigned to the Washington Navy Yard, put his considerable mathematical proficiency to use, & invented the gun which bears his name, a smoothbore cannon cast in the distinctive 'soda bottle' shape that provided extra-thick walls at the breech of the gun. His revolutionary design allowed for the production of larger, more powerful guns that were less likely to explode when fired. Made in a variety of sizes, the Dahlgren gun became the standard weapon on Union naval vessels after 1856. In July 1862, he was promoted to the rank of Captain & made chief of the Bureau of Ordnance. And then, in February 1863, he was promoted to Rear Admiral.

You used to be able to see the different models of Dahlgren Gun, complete with small images, here. That site link no longer works - this seems to be the site from which it likely used to come. And those who would like to read a more complete biography are invited to visit here. There are a great many WWW pages devoted to him even one where you can see his gravestone in Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia.

In the multiple image below, he is seen, at left, on the deck of U.S.S. Pawnee in Charleston, South Carolina, between 1860 & 1865 with one of his guns. The other two images come from the second & third Dahlgren links provided above.

WHAT EVENTUALLY HAPPENED TO THE KEARSARGE?

On my Thomas Hemy page about Kearsarge, available here, I refer to a volume written entirely in verse, entitled 'The Famous Cruise of the Kearsarge'. Written by Mr. Henry S. Hobson who served aboard her at the time of the battle with Alabama. I have heard from Keith M. English, of Norfolk, Virginia, who advises me that he is a great-grandson of Henry S. Hobson & has a continuing interest in matters relating to the Kearsarge. Some biographical material about Henry S. Hobson, provided by Keith, is available at the link just provided.

I suggested to Keith English that I was not aware of what finally happened to Kearsarge, a significant omission, indeed, from these pages. In response, Keith advises as follows:

... that on January 27, 1894, the Kearsarge was ordered to proceed from Santo Domingo to Bluefields, Nicaragua, to protect American interests there, interests which were believed to be endangered by the troubles between Nicaragua and Honduras. She sailed from Port au Prince, Haiti, on January 30, 1894, and was wrecked on Roncador Reef off the coast of Nicaragua on February 2, 1894. The U.S. Congress, Keith advises, appropriated $45,000.00 to raise the Kearsarge and a Boston Towing Company vessel left Boston on March 13, 1894 to undertake the assignment. When they arrived at the reef on March 21, 1894 they found that Kearsarge had been burned beyond repair by the natives in order to get her copper and brass. And the damage was such that nothing could then be done by way of salvage. Her officers and crew safely made it ashore.

Some artifacts were saved from the ship, including the ship's Bible. The salvaged items, along with a damaged section of the stern post with an unexploded shell from Alabama still embedded in it, are now stored at the Washington Navy Yard.

A strange ending indeed for a valiant and most distinguished fighting ship.

THE DISCOVERY OF AN EXCITING KEARSARGE ARTIFACT

It was a pleasure to receive, in Jun. 2013, an e-mail message from Marshall 'Mark' Brown, of Middletown, Virginia, U.S.A., along with an accompanying 3 page article. About an engine part believed to be from the Kearsarge - a steam pressure guage.

Now Mark Brown & June Lingwood-Brown are the proprietors of 'Why Not Antiques' of Middletown, Virginia. In Feb. 2013, at an auction in the Shenandoah Valley, Mark bought a lot of three maritime pressure guages attached to a large wooden plaque. When he later closely examined his purchase, he found an envelope tucked behind one of the guages, with a page that gave Mark quite a thrill. It read:-

'.... the one with no glass lens is by far the most historically significant. It comes from the engine room of the USS KEARSARGE, the first Navy ship to bear this name, a steam sloop of war belonging to our Civil War Navy, which contested the Confederate raider of similar rig in an epic battle in Cherbourg Harbor, France, and defeated the opponent…the CSS ALABAMA'.

Mark subsequently researched both the history of the engagement & the records of Kearsarge engine changes over the years. He believes that the guage, Serial No. 169784, is the original 'American Steam Gauge Co.' steam pressure guage that was installed in Kearsarge when she was built in 1861 at the Portsmouth Navy Yard, in Kittery, Maine. And was never replaced. And that the guage was, accordingly, aboard the vessel at the time of its famous sea battle with Alabama on Jun. 19, 1864.

Do read Mark's interesting article! Each thumbnail image below is 'clickable'. And the image that you come to on each page is clickable also, so you can read the article in a large size should you so wish.

And what does the guage look like? Here it is. Thank you Mark!

Stay tuned! The guage will be offered for sale at an auction to be held in Sept. 2013. I will provide further sale detail when the data comes to hand. And in due course what it sells for.

Last but not least, Mark has provided a link to an image of Kearsarge's engines 'prior to installation'. The image, which does not show a pressure guage, is quite splendid. I have converted the image from sepia to black & white for presentation on this page. We thank the 'Smithsonian American Art Museum' for making the image available here.

OTHER DATA SOURCES

A new listing - the first of a list of items that probably would, if available, add to my limited body of knowledge of the whole matter. I do not really want the following, per se. Just whatever new data that they might prove to contain. If you could help in any way, do drop me a line.

1 'CSS Alabama: Anatomy of a Confederate Raider'

A 2002 book written by Andrew Bowcock about the Alabama. It contains, I read, such data as  the original contract and specification for the ship and every known photograph and drawing of it. Sounds most interesting indeed. ISBN number 155750037 (Naval Institute Press). And perhaps also 1861761899 (Rochester Chatham Publishing).

I would welcome the help of any reader who can correct, in any way, however small, the facts as I have written them on these pages. I have attempted to distil into a few pages a long & complicated story. And when you do that you can most easily get the facts wrong.

My purpose is not to write a book about the subject. Just to summarise the most interesting story for those who wish to learn more. There are surely 'out-there' interested parties who could correct errors in my pages. I would welcome such parties being in contact.

To the Thomas Hemy datapage re the Kearsarge

To the Kearsarge/Alabama datapages 1, 2, 4 & 5.

And to the Special Pages Index.
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