Synopses & Reviews
The absorbing story of Raphael Semmes and the CSS Alabama
, the Confederate raider that destroyed Union ocean shipping and took more prizes than any other raider in naval history.
In July 1862, the Confederate captain Raphael Semmes received orders to report to Liverpool, where he would take command of a secret new British-built steam warship. His mission: to prey on Union commercial vessels and undermine the Norths ability to continue the war.
At the helm of the Alabama, Semmes would become the most hated and feared man in ports up and down the Union coast – as well as a Confederate legend. Now, with unparalleled authority, depth, and a vivid sense of the excitement and danger of the time, Stephen Fox tells the story of Captain Semmess remarkable wartime exploits.
We follow Semmes as he burns one ship after another – newspaper headlines calling for his head – and eludes capture time and again, ravaging Union commerce and chilling Anglo-Union relations. When the tide turns in favor of the North, foreign ports become less willing to take in the Alabama and Semmes finds himself wandering the oceans with a restless crew on a deteriorating ship, his ability to outwit the Union captains diminishing rapidly. Finally, in June 1864, we watch as a gunship traps the Alabama at Cherbourg, France, sinking her – though not her captain – in a battle that was reported around the world.
Entertaining and highly informative, Wolf of the Deep is at once an account of the overlooked naval side of the Civil War, an intimate portrait of life at sea, and an overdue appreciation of a great naval commander.
"'When you think of Confederate Civil War heroes, the names Lee, Jackson, Stuart and Longstreet, among others, come to mind. Historian Fox (The Mirror Makers, et al.) makes a convincing case that Confederate Navy Capt. Raphael Semmes should be added to that list, at least because of his brilliant seafaring skills. Fox's fact-filled, cleanly written account of Semmes's life focuses on his amazing 22-month stint as captain of the most famous Confederate privateer, the Alabama. Under Semmes's command, the Alabama roamed the world's waterways for nearly two years, seizing or sinking nearly 70 Union merchant schooners, whalers and other commercial ships to counteract the Yankee blockade of Southern ports, until June, 1864 when the Alabama was sunk by the U.S.S. Kearsage. Born in 1809 into a slave-owning, tobacco-farming family in southern Maryland, Semmes was orphaned at an early age, grew up in Washington, D.C. and joined the U.S. Navy at 17, remaining a staunch Southern partisan who espoused racist views and strongly believed in slavery. After serving without any particular distinction for 35 years, he made his mark with the Confederate navy. This well-conceived and executed military biography will have extra appeal for those who are familiar with nautical terms. (July)' Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Entertaining and highly informative, this book is at once an account of the overlooked naval side of the Civil War, an intimate portrait of life at sea, and an overdue appreciation of Raphael Semmes, a great naval commander.
Stephen Fox, an independent historian who did his PhD at Brown University, is the
The electrifying story of Raphael Semmes and the CSS" Alabama," the Confederate raider that destroyed Union ocean shipping and took more prizes than any other raider in navalhistory.
In July, 1862, Semmes received orders to take command of a secret new British-built steam warship, the "Alabama." At its helm, he would become the most hated and feared man inports up and down the Union coast-and a Confederate legend. Now, with unparalleled authority and depth, and with a vivid sense of the excitement and danger of the time, Stephen Fox tells the story of CaptainSemmes's remarkable wartime exploits. From vicious naval battles off the coast of France, to plundering the cargo of Union ships in the Caribbean, this is a thrilling tale of an often overlooked chapter of the CivilWar.
"From the Trade Paperback edition."
About the Author
Stephen Fox is an independent historian who received a Ph.D. in history from Brown University. He is the author of six previous books, including Transatlantic, a history of the great Atlantic steamships. He is based in Boston, Massachusetts.
Table of Contents
Prologue: Escape and debut -- The captain and the ship -- "A pirate on the high seas" -- For money and fighting -- Impacts : North and South -- Impacts : Anglo-America -- The turncoats -- Cape Town zenith -- The track of fire to Singapore -- Running down -- Cherbourg -- Afterward -- Epilogue: The Alabama found.