This Week in the Civil War - #855
On Sunday, June 19, 1864 the U.S.S. Kearsarge and the C.S.S. Alabama engaged in combat. For months the U.S. Navy had pursued the Alabama, which had ravaged Union commerce. The Kearsarge had a slight advantage in firepower over the Alabama but had little or no combat experience. The Alabama had combat experience, but the quality of the ship’s power and shot was suspect. Fighting in international waters in the English Channel, the Alabama struck her colors after ninety minutes of battle and quickly sank. A British yacht, the Deerhound, took several survivors, including the Alabama’s Captain Raphael Semmes, to England. Superior gunnery doomed the Alabama, but early in the conflict an unexploded shell lodged in the sternpost of the Kearsarge. Had that shell exploded, the Alabama would have prevailed.