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CSS ALABAMA model
The most successful commerce raider

In the history of commerce warfare, CSS Alabama was the most successful raider in terms of numbers of vessels prized.  The devastation caused by the CSS Alabama has frequently been cited as one cause of the decline of U.S. international shipping in the latter half of the nineteenth century.  An immediate consequence of their efforts was the 900 percent rise in insurance rates for U.S.-flag ships, and the resulting transfer of some 900 ships to foreign registry. 

After the outbreak of the American Civil War in April 1861, the Confederate ports were blockaded by the Union warships. To break the blockage, the Confederacy ordered a large and powerful steam ship (disguised as a merchant ship) designed to attack the Union merchantmen and also for defense purposes.

In June 1861 Lairds Shipyard in Birkenhead, England began to build a sleek vessel. When this ship was launched in July 1862 it attracted the attention of the American ambassador in England. Enquiries of the British authorities were fruitless and so the vessel under the designation Enrica set off on her trial run, never to return.

A month later the Enrica anchored in a harbor in the Azores, was armed and taken over by her new Captain Raphael Semmes. Flying the Confederate flag, the warship, now renamed the Alabama, embarked on her commerce raids.

CSS Alabama spent the next two months capturing and burning ships in the North Atlantic and intercepting grain ships bound for Europe. Continuing her path of destruction through the West Indies, CSS Alabama sank USS Hatteras along the Texas coast and captured her crew. After a visit to Cape Town, South Africa, CSS Alabama sailed for the East Indies where the ship spent six months cruising, destroying seven more ships before redoubling the Cape en route to Europe. In total, the CSS Alabama sunk 62 vessels, mostly merchant ships.

Due to the increasing presence of Union warships, on 11th June 1864, the Alabama sailed into the French port of Cherbourg. This news reached the commander of the Union warship USS Kearsarge, Captain Winslow, leading to the famous sea battle off the French coast on 19th June. In a 60-minute battle the opponents pursued each other mercilessly. Due to the superior firing accuracy of the USS Kearsarge cannon the CSS Alabama was grievously damaged and finally abandoned.


Following the war, the United States insisted that Britain be held liable for the destruction wrought by British-built commerce raiders.  These proceedings came to be known as the Alabama claims, as CSS Alabama alone accounted for as much as $5 million in losses.  After several false starts, the claims were finally resolved under the Treaty of Washington (1871), by which the United States and Great Britain submitted to arbitration by an international tribunal composed of representatives from Britain, the United States, Italy, Switzerland, and Brazil.  The tribunal found that Britain had not exercised "due diligence" and awarded the United States $15.5 million in damages.

On November 7, 1984, French divers from the minesweeper Circle discovered the remains of the ship lying in about 195 feet of water six miles off Cherbourg. The site is now under the protection of a joint French and American authority.
 

     


Like all of our civil war ship models, this CSS Alabama model features:

  • Scratch-built

  • Plank-on-frame construction (very important)

  • All parts are wooden or metal

  • Realistic old-looking thin sails

  • Copper-plated bottom: individual copper pieces that were weathered unevenly to create a realistic look (not a large piece of metal with faked lines.)

36" long x 24" tall x 11" wide   $1,900    S & H is $150       SOLD OUT. 
 

For display case, please click here: Model Ship Display Case

And please click on the blue wording to check out our beautiful USS Kearsage model