CSS Alabama's Indian Ocean Expeditionary Raid

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CSS Alabama

The CSS Alabama's Indian Ocean Expeditionary Raid commenced shortly after the CSS Alabama left the Cape of Good Hope and cruised across the Indian Ocean ultimately exiting via the Sunda Strait into the Java Sea from where she proceeded through the Karimata Strait past the west coast of Borneo before turning west towards Singapore. The raid lasted from about the end of September, 1863 to the end of November, 1863.

The primary area of operation during this expeditionary raid, was the central Indian Ocean, across the Tropic of Capricorn, steaming east toward the Dutch East Indies Indonesia.

Raid overview[edit]

The CSS Alabama worked its way east from the Cape of Good Hope through rough weather, passing the islands of St. Peter and St. Paul in the Indian Ocean, which are about half way to the Strait of Sunda. The Alabama crossed the Tropic of Capricorn and conferred with the captain of an English bark, learning that the USS Wyoming, a Yankee steamer, was patrolling in the Strait of Sunda with a tender, and anchorered nightly at Krakatoa Island.

Many of the ships intercepted during this period were English or Dutch ships. However on November 6, the Alabama's luck changed as Semmes learned from an English ship out of Foochow that the Winged Racer, escorted by the USS Wyoming was coming out of the strait. The Alabama pursued and overhauled two English ships before coming upon the Amanda, out of Boston, laden with sugar and hemp. Semmes and crew set the Amanda well alight by 10:00 pm.

Getting underway for the Strait of Sunda, Alabama sailed past Keyser Island, Beezee island and Sowbooks island, and then passed through the strait, on to Thwart-the-Way island and Stroom Rock, not finding the USS Wyoming. However, on November 8, amidst a rain squall, the Alabama sighted sail and chased down the unescorted Winged Racer. The crew and master were put in boats to row ashore to nearby land at North Island, and the Racer was burnt.

CSS Alabama then proceeded toward the China Sea, passing Sumatra and Java, and arrived in Gasper Strait. Around daylight, new sail was sighted, and a Yankee clipper headed toward the Alabama only to find the Confederate flag unfurled when Captain Semmes hoisted a change of colors. The clipper added topsails, and opened chase. Unfortunately for the clipper Contest, a slack in the wind during the midday qualms allowed the Alabama to bring her within gun range. To the regret of Captain Semmes, he could not capture the new prize and outfit her for service in the Confederate Navy, and so he reluctantly burnt her.

From this raiding area in the Dutch East Indies, the CSS Alabama returned, via Singapore, to the Strait of Malacca.

Raid bounty[edit]

CSS Alabama's Indian Ocean Expeditionary Raid
Date Ship Name Tonnage Ship Type Location Disposition of Ship
November 6, 1863 Amanda  ?  ? Strait of Sunda Burned
November 9, 1863 Winged Racer  ?  ? Strait of Sunda Burned
November 9, 1863 Contest  ? Yankee Clipper North Island, East Indies Burned

References[edit]

  • Hearn, Chester G., Gray Raiders of the Sea, Louisiana State Press, 1996. ISBN 0-8071-2114-2
  • Luraghi, Raimondo, A History of the Confederate Navy, U.S. Naval Institute Press, 1996. ISBN 1-55750-527-6