Friday Jun 24, 2022

051 - ”Beat To Quarters!”: The C.S.S Alabama


About this episode: 

It was a Sunday, January 11, 1863 when the incredible tedium of blockade duty suddenly lurched into frenzied electricity. Five Federal Navy blockaders off Galveston, Texas had sighted a three-masted ship and, although it was some twenty miles from the fleet, the five-gun USS Hatteras moved to investigate. At about 100 yards, Lt. Commander Homer C. Blake demanded the mystery ship’s identity.  In response, someone answered, “This is Her Britannic Majesty’s steamer Petrel.” Unimpressed and suspicious, Blake wanted to board and inspect the vessel which was his right under international law. To his request, there was an awkward silence. When the inspection boat from the Hatteras was only a length away from the ship in question, someone, in the twilight of day shouted, “This is the Confederate States steamer Alabama. Fire!” Thirteen minutes and several Confederate rounds later, the Hatteras sank with its colors still flying. The episode: a rare ship-to-ship encounter during the American Civil War and a favorite tactic for the Confederate commerce raider Alabama, whose career has few equals in modern sea warfare. This is its story. 


Some Characters Mentioned In This Episode:

James Dunwoody Bulloch

Charles Francis Adams Sr.

Lord John Russell

Raphael Semmes

John McIntosh Kell

John A. Winslow


Get The Guide:

Want to learn more about the Civil War? A great place to start is Fred's guide, The Civil War: A History of the War between the States from Workman Publishing. The guide is in its 9th printing.


Producer: Dan Irving


Thank you to our sponsor Bob Graesser, Raleigh Civil War Round Table's editor of The Knapsack newsletter and the Round Table's webmaster at


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