Fire on the Water: The USS Kearsarge and the CSS Alabama

Written by James Gindlesperger
Review by John R. Vallely

The Confederate commerce raider Alabama ranks with the Monitor and the Merrimac as one of the most famous warships of the American Civil War. Commanded by the redoubtable Captain Raphael Semmes, the British-designed and -built Alabama captured or destroyed 71 Union merchant ships between September 15, 1862, and April 27, 1864. Throughout these commerce raiding cruises, the gifted Captain Semmes was hunted by the Union Navy. Captain John Winslow finally caught up with Semmes off the port of Cherbourg and sank Alabama on June 19, 1864. Gindlesperger presents a workmanlike description of the Alabama and her conquests, as well as an equally comprehensive history of the U.S.S. Kearsarge and Captain Winslow.