Naval History and Heritage Command’s (NHHC) Underwater Archeology Branch (UAB) received more than 30 conserved artifacts from the sunken confederate ship, CSS Alabama, to add to the command’s collection, June 23.
The artifacts, consisting of two wooden boxes, a partial gunstock, a copper alloy bolt, pieces of wood from cannons, ropes, leather and cloth, came from Warren Lasch Conservation Center in Charleston, South Carolina.
“It was recovered as one piece – the top actually lifts off and you still have the shell actually inside,” said Kate Morrand, NHHC Underwater Archeology Conservator, of the wooden box containing the cannon ball. “It’s a pretty complex piece and it has taken several years to treat it completely. They look the same as when they were recovered.”
While these artifacts represent a large portion of the objects recovered, there are more.
CSS Alabama, built by John Laird Sons and Company of Liverpool, England, was commissioned on August 24, 1862. Its mission was to wreak havoc on Union warships and Union-backed merchant ships, which it did for nearly two years.
On June 14, 1864, after 22 months of near-constant sailing, Alabama arrived in Cherbourg, France and requested permission to dock for a maintenance overhaul.
After hearing CSS Alabama was nearby, sloop-of-war USS Kearsarge, which had been pursuing the raider, headed to Cherbourg and a few days later, began patrolling just outside of the harbor. On June 19, still waiting for permission to dock for repairs, Alabama sailed out of Cherbourg to engage Kearsarge. Approximately one hour after firing the first shot, Alabama had been reduced to a sinking hulk.
The ship was rediscovered, 120 years after its loss, off the coast of Cherbourg by the French Navy and was later confirmed to be the CSS Alabama.
Press Release, June 26, 2014; Image: US Navy