Friday, September 24, 2004

American Civil War Museum in France

By Matt Hurley for the TIB Network:

From the Guardian:
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.

USS Kearsarge

The current Kearsarge has quite an interesting history as well but the original Keararge's history can be found here.
USS Kearsarge, a 1550-ton Mohican class steam sloop of war, was built at the Portsmouth Navy Yard, Kittery, Maine, under the 1861 Civil War emergency shipbuilding program. She was commissioned in January 1862 and almost immediately deployed to European waters, where she spent nearly three years searching for Confederate raiders. In June 1864, while under the command of Captain John Winslow, Kearsarge found CSS Alabama at Cherbourg, France, where she had gone for repairs after a devastating cruise at the expense of the United States' merchant marine. On 19 June, the two ships, nearly equals in size and power, fought a battle off Cherbourg that became one of the Civil War's most memorable naval actions. In about an hour, Kearsarge's superior gunnery completely defeated her opponent, which soon sank.
The rest of her history is pretty interesting.

CSS Alabama

You can read all about the Alabama here but this is the relevant portion of her history:
On 11 June 1864, Alabama arrived in Cherbourg, France and Captain Semmes requested permission to dock and overhaul his ship. Pursuing the raider, the American sloop-of-war USS Kearsarge arrived three days later and took up a patrol just outside the harbor. On 19 June, Alabama sailed out to meet Kearsarge. As Kearsarge turned to meet its opponent, Alabama opened fire. Kearsarge waited patiently until the range had closed to less than 1,000 yards. According to survivors, the two ships steamed on opposite courses moving around in circles as each commander tried to cross the bow of his opponent to deliver a heavy raking fire. The battle quickly turned against Alabama because of the poor quality of its powder and shells, while Kearsarge benefitted from the additional protection of chain cables along its sides. A little more than an hour after the first shot was fired, Alabama was reduced to a sinking wreck, causing Semmes to strike his colors and send a boat to surrender. According to witnesses, Alabama fired 150 rounds at its adversary, while Kearsarge fired 100. When a shell fired by Kearsarge tore open a section at Alabama's waterline, the water quickly rushed through the cruiser, forcing it to the bottom. While Kearsarge rescued most of Alabama's survivors, Semmes and 41 others were picked up by the British yacht Deerhound and escaped to England. During its two-year career as a commerce raider, Alabama caused disorder and devastation across the globe for United States merchant shipping. The Confederate cruiser claimed more than 60 prizes valued at nearly $6,000,000.
The Alabama was found 120 years later by the French Navy mine hunter Circe.

Check out the report that Captain Winslow of the Kearsarge filed here.


Yips to Robbo of the Llama Butchers for the link. Robert posted one of the pictures of the Kearsarge crew celebrating their victory over the Alabama.

Mark's Remarks

This is an historic opportunity. This could be our chance to obliterate France. In the style of Frank J., here is my proposal:
1. The ship belongs to us. We should tell Jack Iraq and Co. we are coming to get it and if they mess with us, we are gonna hurt them. Then we hit them anyway.

I mean, what is of value in France anyway? Aside from the hallowed ground at Normandy, there really is nothing there of value....
Eiffel Tower? Make it a Tesla coil. Arc de Triomphe? The most oxymoronic name for a French landmark--Arc of Triumph for all the ones who kicked our (France's) cans. The Cathedral at Notre Dame? Seen one cathedral, seen them all. The Louvre? Yeah, there are some classics, but art is in the mind anyway....

And if Spain gets upset, let's just blow up a few trains and change their government.

If Germany gets upset, detonate the munitions we have stored there.

You say you want a new, United Europe and world? This is the best way to start.

(For you liberals out there, this is called satire....)

John Kerry Delenda Est!