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The Alabama and the Kearsarge: The Sailor's Civil War
     

The Alabama and the Kearsarge: The Sailor's Civil War

by William Marvel
 

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On June 19, 1864, the Confederate cruiser Alabama and the USS Kearsarge faced off in the English Channel outside the French port of Cherbourg. About an hour after the Alabama fired the first shot, it began to sink, and its crew was forced to wave the white flag of surrender.

Working with personal papers and diaries and contemporary reports,

Overview

On June 19, 1864, the Confederate cruiser Alabama and the USS Kearsarge faced off in the English Channel outside the French port of Cherbourg. About an hour after the Alabama fired the first shot, it began to sink, and its crew was forced to wave the white flag of surrender.

Working with personal papers and diaries and contemporary reports, historian William Marvel interweaves the stories of these two celebrated Civil War warships, from their construction to their climactic encounter off Cherbourg. Just as importantly, he illuminates the day-to-day experiences of their crews. From cabin boys to officers, sailors have been one of the most ignored groups of the Civil War.

The sailors' lot was one of constant discomfort and monotony, interspersed with riotous frolics ashore and, occasionally, a few minutes of intense excitement and danger. Housed in damp, crowded quarters, their wartime mortality rate did not reach that of their army counterparts, but service-connected diseases shortened their postwar lives disproportionately. Most of the crewmen ended their lives in nameless obscurity, and their story has remained unwritten until now.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"William Marvel knows how to tell a good story."
KLIATT

A fascinating introduction to the common sailor worthy of comparison with the best works on the war's common soldiers.

J. Tracy Power, Society for Civil War Historians Newsletter

Marvel's well-written account of life aboard the two ships should interest both the specialist and the general reader.

Journal of Southern History

[Marvel] has richly tapped new sources by locating the journals, diaries, and letters written by eyewitnesses.

Journal of American History

Highly recommended to those interested in the Civil War at sea.

Blue & Gray

Well written and persuasively argued, Marvel's study will make quite a splash.

Choice

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780807822944
Publisher:
The University of North Carolina Press
Publication date:
11/18/1996
Series:
Civil War America Series
Edition description:
1
Pages:
348
Product dimensions:
6.12(w) x 9.25(h) x 1.26(d)
Lexile:
1470L (what's this?)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
Well written and persuasively argued, Marvel's study will make quite a splash.--Choice

A fascinating introduction to the common sailor worthy of comparison with the best works on the war's common soldiers and one well worth adding to any Civil War library.--J. Tracy Power, Society for Civil War Historians Newsletter

This account of the CSS Alabama and the USS Kearsarge illustrates the drama of the American Civil War on the high seas. The story of their rendezvous with destiny at Cherbourg is told here in all its rich detail for the first time. Batten down the hatches for an exciting read.--James M. McPherson, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Battle Cry of Freedom: The Era of the Civil War

[Marvel] has richly tapped new sources by locating the journals, diaries, and letters written by eyewitnesses serving on the only two steam sloops of war to engage in a stand-up battle at sea during the Civil War. . . . The story flows as smoothly as a ship scudding along with a pleasant breeze, and those who love the Civil War at sea will enjoy their cruise with William Marvel's book.--Journal of American History

Highly recommended to those interested in the Civil War at sea.--Blue & Gray

Marvel's well-written account of life aboard the two ships should interest both the specialist and the general reader.--Journal of Southern History

Well written and persuasively argued, Marvel's study will make quite a splash. General readers, students, and scholars alike will enjoy it and learn much.--Choice

This is an outstanding book, not only concerning the careers of the USS Kearsarge and CSS Alabama, but of the men who crewed these famous ships. In fact it may well be the best account of mid-nineteenth century sailors, certainly that of the common sailor in the Civil War.--William N. Still, author of Iron Afloat: The Story of the Confederate Armorclads

William Marvel knows how to tell a good story.--KLIATT

The first real insight into those faceless men who struggled and fought hundreds of miles from famous battlefields.--Richmond Times-Dispatch

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Meet the Author

William Marvel's many books include Andersonville: The Last Depot and Lee's Last Retreat: The Flight to Appomattox (both from the University of North Carolina Press). He lives in South Conway, New Hampshire.

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