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January 11, 1863 - CSS Alabama (right) sinks USS Hatteras off Galveston, TX.  Built in Britain and commissioned in August 1862, Alabama enjoyed an auspicious career as a commerce raider before approaching Galveston in January 1863.  Hoping to disrupt Union operations near the city, Capt. Raphael Semmes succeeded in luring the sidewheeler USS Hatteras away from its consorts.  Reaching a safe distance from Union reinforcements, Alabama turned and in a 13-minute battle reduced its more lightly-armed opponent to a sinking wreck.  The victory marked Alabama's sole triumph over another warship.  Sailing south, the raider spent a profitable summer off South America where it captured nearly 30 Union merchant vessels.  Proceeding across the Indian Ocean, Semmes took Alabama to the East Indies before pressing repairs forced him to sail for Europe.  Reaching Cherbourg, France on June 11, 1864, Alabama was defeated in a battle offshore eight days later by USS Kearsarge.   

Warships of the American Civil War:

Photograph Courtesy of the US Navy History & Heritage Command

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