Talk:CSS Alabama

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3 million what?[edit]

"the English Government had to pay heavy damages of three millions of money." Leaves something to be desired. ??? 3 million? USD? GBP? Thanx 00:08, 10 May 2005 (UTC)

I've removed it. The sentence still makes sense without a specific value (not that it had one anyway...) —Wereon June 28, 2005 18:31 (UTC)

POV Dispute[edit]

The section on the Last Voyage reads as a narattion, and with a slant/bias towards the CSN and the ship, rather than as a statment of facts. Furthermore the Battle Ensigns section could be reduced to linked the appropriate pages for those flags and ensigns. I will make the edits until we reach concenses least we begin an editting war which would be a diservice to this vessel and its history. -- (talk) 08:30, 20 December 2008 (UTC)

POV Dispute Response[edit]

I have eliminated the section on Captain Semmes deeper motivations for fighting his Union adversary, the USS Kearsarge. I have done this despite the fact that, as originally written, they were accurately described and can be found in at least two of the reference books I added at the end (and several others, too, I chose not to list). Instead, the mere fact that his natural aggressiveness took over (as aptly demonstrated by Semmes' actions aboard Alabama while her Captain), and the fact he chose to fight Kearsarge rather than stay bottled-up in Cherbourg harbor until the end of the war, now reads without the deeper motivation for his having done so. The rest of the detailed information on the battle and both ship's various and sundry details are historically correct and accurate. They can be found by reading the references I added in the reference section. No bias, Southern/Confederate, or otherwise was meant, just the facts. I am not a Southerner. I distilled down all the information accurately, using the established "voice" of the entry.

BATTLE ENSIGNS, ET. AL: I would very strongly disgree with the objections raised about the highly-detailed sections devoted to CSS Alabama's various flags. The more I delved into this topic, the more obvious it became (to me) for the reader to understand, in place, their signicance to this historic Civil War ship. Remember, the Kearsasge-Alabama engagement is one of the three most significant of the Civil War: The first being the Monitor vs. Virginia (aka Merrimack), the first duel of ironclad warships; the second the H.L. Hunley vs. the USS Houstatonic, the first succesful use of the submarine against a surface warship; and third, the Kearsarge vs. Alabama, the only naval cruiser engagement between the North and the South in international waters. In fact, this famous duel became a sensation across the globe at the time, especially in Europe. Alabama's blazing trail had been carefully followed as it unfolded and was reported. In fact, the Alabama's history as the most successful commerce raider of the Civil War, demands a broader understanding of all its details, including, I would hope, the various colors she fought and sailed under during her successful commerce raiding career. Alabama's various colors were not all the same (or even made to the same measurements) and they flew at different times and under various circumstances during her career.

All the flag details and facts, as stated, can be found within the important Madaus volume listed in the reference section. It remains the most authorative volume written on the surviving Confederate naval flags. (I maintain a personal library of more than 137 running feet of Civil War naval history, biographies, memoirs, bibliographies, including many naval reference articles from various Civil War magazines--I'm a longtime Civil War naval collector and historian.) I very carefully consulted this important, long out-of-print Madaus volume, gleening all the pertinent facts and figures used to describe Alabama's still surviving flags (and its implied flags), restating them in the article's narrative voice. All facts, measurements, etc. were double-checked by me for accuracy against Madaus' very detailed entries and tables. I spent a great deal of time composing (and then recomposing) this entry until it was as perfect as I could make it. Anyone reading it will have a solid understanding of the various flags flown aboard the Alabama.

There are no direct Madaus quotes used from his volume because, frankly, his style was a bit too flat and a bit stilted (re: academic). I chose to simply restate the information using the narrative style/voice used in the rest of Alabama's entry. I urge that all the info I've outlined in the Flags sections be left as is. Wikipedia's more detailed and general history of Confederate colors, while thorough, does not contain all of the Alabama-specific information I've carefully provided. Besides, don't overlook the distinct possibility that my various entries on Alabama's colors may very well encourage Wikipedia readers to then go and explore the broader Confederate colors entry! I hope upon reflection and consideration that you'll agree with the above. Thanks for listening. --Ken Keller (SolarWind1) —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:30, 1 January 2009 (UTC)

Thanks for all of your hard work and keeping all of those invaluable references handy. A couple of thoughts about the disputes here - late in coming as they are.
Firstly, the issue about Captain Semmes' deeper motivations probably belongs in the article about him not so much the one about the CSS Alabama, I agree with removing it.
The correct way, though incredibly tedious, to handle the complaints about the ambiguity of citations is to keep track of the sources of facts on a sentence by sentence or paragraph by paragraph basis. As I said, incredibly tedious, but almost impossible for anyone else but the original author to correct after the fact. No one else has the references or the time to read ALL of them and sort out what came from where. I think you have your work cut out for a while remedying the situation, otherwise it will never get done - until some clever fellow writes a bot that can do that sort of work for us, [there are probably only about a million Wiki articles that need the help].
Thirdly, I found all of the information on the Alabama's various flags and ensigns fascinating, but the subject really deserves to be promoted to an article of its own something like 'Battle Ensigns of the Confederate Navy' - wonderful topic. There is enough detail in that section that is generic to the subject of the Confederate Navy and not specific to the Alabama that it would be worth while summarizing and removing all of the excess to its own page.
Finally, as to the NPOV issue itself, some of it will likely be solved by citing more closely to the original sources. There is also the endemic problem to the Civil War in general that is hard to make go away which is that to anyone educated to the notion that 'we won the war' find it very strange [and intolerable] to hear CSA successes told like successes, and anyone educated to the notion that 'we lost the war' find it almost impossible not to romanticise their successes and minimize their failures. A Yankee myself I find the former mind set worth correcting when encountered and the latter mind set endlessly amusing. To anyone who has gotten over the former or the latter bias, the article, even as written, tells the story very clearly and not necessarily to the advantage of the partisan to the Confederate cause.
--Atani (talk) 06:59, 23 June 2012 (UTC)

Data source[edit]

Some of the passages in this article are word for word with a .mil website. I'm thinking this should be fixed or revised. — TheBenignBovine| (talk) 21:07, 20 March 2006 (UTC)

Yes, and that point is noted below. On what grounds do you think the text needs to be fixed or revised? The source data is public domain, so there are no copyright issues here.Joseph/N328KF (Talk) 21:26, 20 March 2006 (UTC)

Sorry, forgot the link to the website.| (talk) 21:13, 20 March 2006 (UTC) Bah. My fault. Didn't notice the note at the bottom. — TheBenignBovine| (talk) 21:15, 20 March 2006 (UTC)


Wasn´t it so that almost the entire crew was compiled of Non-Americans, fighting for prize money? And only the officers were from CS? Regards, Tekko 16 May 2007


You are correct in saying that “almost” the entire crew, other than the officers, were “Non-Americans”. Most were British. All the officers except the assistant surgeon (Dr. David Herbert Llewellyn) the engineer and the ship’s carpenter, who were also British, were citizens of the Southern States before the war.

There was at least one citizen of the United States among the crew (other than officers). His name was David Henry White. White was a young slave from the state of Delaware who was travelling with his master aboard the ship Tonawanda when she was captured by the Alabama on October 9, 1862. When Semmes learned that White was a slave from a Union state he confiscated him as “contraband of war” (just as Union land forces were doing in the Confederacy).

White subsequently joined the crew of the Alabama. Apparently he did so voluntarily as he had several chances to desert his ship during the 21 months that he served. During the battle with the Kearsarge White assisted the surgeons in caring for the wounded. He was presumed drowned after the Alabama sank.

You also indicate here that the crew of the Alabama was “fighting for prize money”. This implies that their service was somehow less than honourable and that they were pure mercenaries. While it is certainly true that they were offered prize money we can not say with any certainty that this was their only or even their primary motivation. I might also point out that sailors aboard Union blockading vessels were given prize money for captured ships. Were they only “fighting for prize money” also?

Valid points: however, according to the article commercial interests seem to have been a deciding factor for many in joining the crew.
"Captain Semmes then made a speech about the Southern cause to the assembled seamen, asking them to sign on for a voyage of unknown length and destiny. Semmes had only his 24 officers and no crew to man his new command. When this did not succeed, Semmes changed his tack... ...Semmes then offered signing money and double wages, paid in gold, and additional prize money to be paid by the Confederate congress for all destroyed Union ships. When the men began to shout "Hear! Hear!" Semmes knew he had closed the deal..."
Myself, I tend to agree with Semmes earlier statement, "(Commerce raiders) are little better than licensed pirates; and it behooves all civilized nations [...] to suppress the practice altogether." [--Raphael Semmes, 1851] Though it is also fair to say that the USN engaged in the practice from time to time.
--Atani (talk) 12:17, 23 June 2012 (UTC)

Now to the point. Would someone please explain to me how the funeral article could possibly be construed as “not conforming to a neutral point of view”? How can a funeral for a serviceman who fought honourably be construed as partisan, even if you disagree with the cause he fought for?

The very idea does not conform to a neutral point of view!

The Funeral[edit]

Preserving The funeral section here for further discussion: Through the gracious services of the CSS Alabama Association and the Raphael Semmes Camp #11, Sons of Confederate Veterans; the body of an unknown sailor found at the wreckage of the CSS Alabama will be given proper Confederate Honors. Ceremonies will consist of a Memorial Service, Wake, Funeral Procession, and Interment in Confederate Rest of Mobile's Magnolia Cemetery. His Memorial Service will be conducted July 26, 2007, in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Mobile, Alabama. His Wake will be in the home of Admiral Raphael Semmes on Government Street, on July 28, 2007. The Funeral Procession, route yet to be finalized, will take place July 28, 2007, culminating at Confederate Rest in Mobile's Magnolia.

I agree that it had a very definite point of view. Though it is irrelevant, I am a native Alabamian and had five direct ancestors who died fighting for the C.S.A. I still agree that this entry looks like it was written for a meeting of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. All Wikipedia articles and other encyclopedic content must be written from a neutral point of view (NPOV), representing fairly and without bias all significant views (that have been published by reliable sources). This is non-negotiable and expected on all articles, and of all article editors.

Removed due to lack of NPOV in order to rate the article as "B" class on WikiProject: Alabama. The references with the most obvious violations of the NPOV policy are now marked in bold. Since this is an event that should have now already taken place maybe the editor could find a newspaper article (such as from the (Mobile Register) to use as a source?

See: Wikipedia:Neutral point of view See also: Wikipedia:Verifiability See also: Wikipedia:Manual of Style (capital letters) Altairisfar 23:16, 21 September 2007 (UTC)(Mobile, AL U.S.A.)

WikiProject class rating[edit]

This article was automatically assessed because at least one article was rated and this bot brought all the other ratings up to at least that level. BetacommandBot 02:37, 27 August 2007 (UTC)

Disovery of the Wreck[edit]

Though the French Navy is credited with discovering the wreck, much of the leg work had already been done by Clive Cussler and his NUMA organization. In his account "The Sea Hunters", Cussler comments that while near the wreck site, his vessel was boarded by the French Navy when they came to close to the nuclear submarine base at Cherbourg. All of NUMA's charts and logs were confiscated. Later, when the French Navy was announcing "their" discovery one of the NUMA charts indicating Cusslers previous search grids was actually shown on French TV.

Two Years on the Alabama[edit]

I would encourage those of you who are interested in this article to read the Sinclair book. Its a well written personal account. I got involved just to add some images.--Mike Cline (talk) 00:06, 12 March 2008 (UTC)

Rebel Flags Afloat[edit]

The relationship of the new source is unclear, since some parts are phrased as if they were quotes from the source - inline footnotes and appropriate punctuation would be needed to clarify which are direct quotes, and which are paraphrased by the editor Tedickey (talk) 18:56, 21 August 2008 (UTC)

Response to Rebel Flags Afloat[edit]

As I state in the above Dispute discussion thread, there are no direct quotes used from this volume. I paraphrased all information used for the reasons I state above. But all information is correct and accurate and double-checked. Thanks for listening. --Ken Keller (SolarWind1) 1 January, 2009 —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:58, 1 January 2009 (UTC)

Making new page for each Expeditionary Raid[edit]


Hang with me. I made the first new Expeditionary Raid page (see main article) and will make the other 6 as soon as possible, within a day or two, along with a navigator template, perhaps. I will come back and add some more prose to the front of the history section, and help get that and the image setting better in the page.

The Gray Ghost (Grayghost01 (talk) 20:27, 26 August 2008 (UTC))

Entering references correctly[edit]

Hello all, I am new at this and this is probably a very basic question. I made two additions to the CSS Alabama article and copied the reference format I found in the article. I do not know why it didn't work and why my links remained red and didn't go to the source but rather to the edit page.

this is one of the references: Engraved in the bronze of the great double ship's wheel was Alabama's motto, "Aide-toi et Dieu t'aidera" (God helps those who help themselves).[1]

This is the other, and I wasn't sure where exactly to put the link--any comments or suggestions? Through diplomatic channels, Semmes issued a bold challenge to the commander of USS Kearsarge, [[" intention is to fight the Kearsarge as soon as I can make the necessary arrangements. I hope these will not detain me more than until to-morrow or the morrow morning at farthest. I beg she will not depart until I am ready to go out. I have the honor to be Your obedient servant, R. SEMMES, Captain." ]] [2]

I am also curious whether anyone is interested in having some pictures uploaded--an image of the section of the Kearsarge sternpost with unexploded shell lodges in it, photos of Semmes and Winslow, the Manet painting of the battle.

Whichwood (talk) 09:24, 1 September 2008 (UTC)

The [[double-square brackets]] go to a Wikipedia topic. There is none for that phrase. Footnote links (the properly done ones as numbers in square brackets) go to the bottom of the page where there's a reflist. Jumping to there, then should show links that go to external sites. I fixed the first, to show how Tedickey (talk) 09:53, 1 September 2008 (UTC)

Thank you, Tedickey. I think I was trying to do it the hard way, copying code without understanding it. When I went back to study what was wrong I found selector things for making footnotes that wrote the right code. I have now added a picture. I have a version where I added 2 colors, but the one I uploaded is truer to the 19th century source. I am learning my way around this. Whichwood (talk) 00:27, 6 September 2008 (UTC)

Regarding "selectors": are you referring to templates such as Wikipedia:Citation templates, or some script that makes insertion of references simpler? Tedickey (talk) 13:06, 6 September 2008 (UTC)

The shanty[edit]

The shanty "Roll, Alabama, Roll" is marked as needing a citation. Would this count? (talk) 15:31, 5 September 2008 (UTC)

Fine. I don't know who put the "citation" tag, but the link should suffice.Grayghost01 (talk) 00:42, 17 September 2008 (UTC)

Dispute Over British Complicity in Building the Alabama[edit]

This article would benefit from some exploration of the dispute between the US and British governments over the construction and delivery of the CSS Alabama. While the link to the "Alabama Claims" is entered near the end, the dispute at the time of the ship's construction and delivery was a significant international diplomatic event that should be covered in this article. For a detailed description from the US Government point of view, see "The Education of Henry Adams," Chapters 9-10. Adams was private secretary to his father, Charles Francis Adams, the US Ambassador to Britain throughout the Civil War. Writing 40 years after conclusion of the war, Henry Adams concludes from documents released after the death of Russell that the British Foreign Minister intentionally allowed the ship to sail, while at the same time claiming he was awaiting legal advice. Adams points out that while Prime Minister Palmerston received a legal opinion that releasing the ship did not violate the British Neutrality Act, the legal counsel to the Foreign Ministry advised in advance of the ship's launch that releasing the ship was in fact a violation of neutrality. Adams states the US claim that Russell was "criminally negligent" in delaying his order to halt the launch of the Alabama, well after he notified the US Ambassador he would honor the Foreign Ministry legal counsel. The amount of the settlement paid by the British Government to the US after the Geneva Conference of 1872 specifically for the release of the Alabama was stated by Adams as 3,000,000 British Pounds. (talk) 09:57, 9 September 2009 (UTC)

Kearsarge Medal of honor winners[edit]

I've twice removed the list of the Kearsarge Medal of honor winners from this article. As the winners were from the Kearsage, not the Alabama, and apparently won their awards for actions on the Kearsage, not the Alabama, there is no reason to list them here. These men are already listed in the USS Kearsarge (1861) article, which is where such a list ought to go. In addition, David Llewlyn ios not evev mentioned in that article, which is also as it probably should be. The liszt was added to this article about 6 months ago by an apparently inexperienced IP editor who probably didn't realize the list was already in the Kearsage article. Whatever his motives, it does not need to be here, especially in its entirety. - BilCat (talk) 09:51, 25 January 2010 (UTC)

Daar kom die Alibama[edit]

A little context about this very old and popular South African song. It is listed as an Afrikaans song, which is true as far as it goes since the people singing it spoke the precursor to Afrikaans, viz, Cape Dutch. As I was told when I lived there, the song was originated by what were known as the "Cape Coloured" people. When the Dutch East Indies company set up the provisioning station at what was eventually to become Cape Town in 1652, they soon started using it as a sort of informal penal colony for Malay opponents of their progressive takeover of what is now Indonesia. As a result of this Capetown developed a substantial population of Malay people who formed a large part of the present day mixed-race Cape Coloured population.

When the Alabama appeared in Table Bay, the coloured population muddled the name into Ali Bama. The stories soon inflated into a wonderful fantasy that this ship was from their long lost homeland in Indonesia and had, somehow, come to take them back. From this fantasy sprang the song which is still sung at the annual Cape Coon Carnival, more recently renamed the Cape Minstrel Carnival. Plaasjaapie (talk) 14:18, 19 July 2011 (UTC)

Differing Dimensions[edit]

The dimensions of the Alabama given here are at some odds with those given by Semmes in Memoirs. . . Is there any reason to not revise them to reflect Semmes' information? Peter Camper (talk) 17:17, 9 September 2011 (UTC)

Concerns about tone and content[edit]

Hello friends. I think I must agree with previously expressed POV concerns. In both general tone and content, this article seems to romanticize the ship, the crew and indeed the Confederacy itself. I also find the military jargon exceeding pretentious and suited more to a cadet's textbook than an encyclopedia. This seems intended to lend unwarranted authority to the rest of the article's dubious tone content. In addition, there are a large number of details given without any source references, a problem which I think should be addressed. --Gunnermanz (talk) 11:25, 13 September 2011 (UTC)

Suggest deleting paragraph on Kearsarge's armor[edit]

I am not a Civil War historian; however, from a layman's point of view I would suggest deleting the entirety of the paragraph beginning, "This hull armor had been installed ..." in the Final Cruise section, or alternatively at least as far down as "when the upper portion of her coal bunkers were empty." This paragraph also appears verbatim, in what I think is its proper location, in the article on the USS Kearsarge; its repetition here seems out of place to me, since it is more about the Kearsarge than the Alabama, despite the speculation at the end of the paragraph regarding the possible effects of hits by Alabama's heavy guns.

I think, in general, there needs to be a little more coordination between the three articles on USS Kearsarge, CSS Alabama and the Battle of Cherbourg with the aim of reducing some of the unnecessarily overlap between the articles.--Atani (talk) 22:20, 22 June 2012 (UTC)

Embedding links within running text[edit]

In the opening paragraph I rearranged ref and link to Battle of Cherbourg away from blog style embedding of link in the running text, "was sunk". If the link were to become broken somehow it is impossible for the reader to figure out what the link was to, or even if there was a link at all. While this is very common practice in the blogospher, it does not seem to be very professional or 'encyclopedic' to me. Is there a Wikipedia standard on this issue? --Atani (talk) 22:43, 22 June 2012 (UTC)

This reads like propaganda.[edit]

More sources, less romanticizing. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:23, 3 August 2012 (UTC)


This section should be given more prominence -- it seems it's tucked away in a position of maximum inconspicuousness, given a vague and indefinite title, and not mentioned in the lead section... AnonMoos (talk) 04:06, 9 October 2012 (UTC)

Opening Understatement[edit]

"Alabama served as a successful commerce raider, attacking Union merchant and naval ships over the course of her two-year career, during which she never anchored in a Southern port."

I imagine whoever wrote this opening paragraph would have described The Red Baron primarily as "a successful fighter pilot who attacked British planes." This statement would, of course, apply to many others. (talk) 20:19, 26 July 2013 (UTC)

  1. ^ "Archaeological Investigation of the Confederate Commerce Raider CSS Alabama 2002". Retrieved 2008-08-20. 
  2. ^ "The Magazine of History with Notes ... - Google Book Search". Retrieved 2008-08-25.