By: Kevin Ray, Archival Technician
This post is the third of three posts in a week-long series describing the history of the CSS Alabama and the resources available in the Division of Special Collections on both this ship and the naval history of the Confederacy. June 19, 2014 is the 150th anniversary of the battle between the CSS Alabama and the USS Kearsarge, which resulted in the sinking of the Alabama. If you’d like, review the first and second posts of this series.
The W.S. Hoole Special Collections Library contains a number of primary and published materials about CSS Alabama.
Among the manuscripts holdings are partial log books for CSS Alabama and CSS Tuscaloosa. These were kept by Lt. John Low, who Semmes placed in command of Tuscaloosa after its capture and re-christening. A photo album that belonged to Midshipman Edward Maffit Anderson contains pictures of many of the officers and crew of Alabama. A partial muster roll of Alabama mentions some of those who died during the battle with Kearsarge.
The University Archives section of Hoole Library holds a set of plans of the ship, which were copied from the originals. Numerous published works are available on CSS Alabama, its captain, and crew. These include published firsthand accounts such as The Cruise of the Alabama and the Sumter by Raphael Semmes, and The logs of the C.S.S. Alabama and C.S.S. Tuscaloosa, 1862-1863,by John Low, edited by William Stanley Hoole.
Additionally, there are published works by scholars, including William Stanley Hoole and Charles Grayson Summersell. Published works relating to the Alabama Claims are also available.
Finally, the CSS Alabama Digital Collection can be viewed online. This exhibition contains images, documents, and a clickable map of Alabama’s journey and it was created in 1996 by P. Toby Graham, who at that time was a doctoral candidate in The University of Alabama School of Library and Information Studies. Graham was just named the University Librarian of UGA and the Associate Provost of UGA Libraries.
The story of CSS Alabama is more than the story of a single Confederate warship. She was the scourge of United States merchant shipping during the Civil War. And, in postwar peace, she was a contributing factor in the development of international law.
Interest in Alabama continues to this day. Her wreck was discovered in 1984. The wreck has been explored by scientists as a part of a cooperative effort between France and the United States. In a sense, the legacy of international cooperation established by the Alabama Claims continues today in the exploration of the wreck of CSS Alabama.
The Hoole Library is proud to have its own collection of items related to the cruise of CSS Alabama, and we welcome the opportunity to share them with scholars and the public.
CSS Alabama Bibliography
Bowcock, Andrew. CSS Alabama: Anatomy of a Confederate Raider. London: Chatham, 2002.
C.S.S. Alabama partial muster roll. University Libraries, Division of Special Collections, The University of Alabama. http://purl.lib.ua.edu/88281
C.S.S. Tuscaloosa Logs. University Libraries, Division of Special Collections, The University of Alabama. http://purl.lib.ua.edu/19027
Edwin Maffitt Anderson photographs. University Libraries, Division of Special Collections, The University of Alabama. http://purl.lib.ua.edu/112974
Hoole, William Stanley. Four Years in the Confederate Navy: The Career of Captain John Low on the C.S.S. Fingal, Florida, Alabama, Tuscaloosa, and Ajax. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 1964.
Low, John. The Logs of the C.S.S. Alabama and C.S.S. Tuscaloosa, 1862-1863, Edited with an Introduction by W. Stanley Hoole. University, AL: Confederate Publishing Company, 1972.
Semmes, Raphael. The Cruise of the Alabama and The Sumter: From the Private Journals and Other Papers of Commander R. Semmes, C.S.N, and Other Officers. New York: Carleton, 1864.
Summersell, Charles Grayson. CSS Alabama: Builder, Captain, and Plans. University, AL: University of Alabama Press, 1985.
The University of Alabama Libraries. “C.S.S. Alabama Digital Collection.” Accessed June 13, 2014. http://www.lib.ua.edu/content/libraries/hoole/digital/cssala/main.htm.