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calendar   Friday - June 05, 2020

Another Bit Of History Lost For Now

Another one of my “rabbit hole” posts, in which a small news story leads to looking up all kinds of links and uncovering some impressive stuff. Hours wasted, but insight gleaned.

Confederate monument removed from downtown Mobile overnight

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MOBILE, Ala. (WPMI) — City of Mobile Director of Communications George Talbot has confirmed to NBC 15 that the City of Mobile removed the monument of Confederate icon Admiral Raphael Semmes from its pedestal in downtown Mobile overnight.

Mayor Stimpson issued the following statement Friday Morning:

On June 4, 2020, I ordered that the statue of Admiral Raphael Semmes be moved from its location at the intersection of Government and Royal streets in downtown Mobile.
The task was completed this morning, June 5. The statue has been placed in a secure location.

To be clear: This decision is not about Raphael Semmes, it is not about a monument and it is not an attempt to rewrite history.

Moving this statue will not change the past. It is about removing a potential distraction so we may focus clearly on the future of our city. That conversation, and the mission to create One Mobile, continues today

.

The statue of Admiral Semmes was desecrated with graffitti just the other day, and the city immediately cleaned it up.

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The Admiral Raphael Semmes Confederate Statue in downtown Mobile was vandalized early Tuesday morning, right around the time Birmingham was pulling apart its own memorial to those who had fought and lost in the American Civil War.
...
Down in Mobile, the statue of Semmes, who defected from the U.S. Navy after 35 years of service to fight for the Confederacy, was being cleaned vigorously by city workers.

Using industrial power washers, the workers not only washed away the red graffiti but also the green patina from the copper plates surrounding the light sandstone. Parts of the statue have now been restored to its original state as when it was first erected in June 1900.

A city of Mobile spokesperson said a suspect has been identified and any decision to remove the statue would have to be collaborative.

Acting on what must have been awareness of a continuing threat, the statue was removed to somewhere safe. Hopefully, some day when saner heads prevail (as if) this statue can come out of hiding again.


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I read a post on Facebook the other day, put up by a long ago friend who grew up to be a super liberal. “Until Blacks Lives Matter, No Lives Matter”. Uh huh. Another quipped how her 7 year old daughter gets it, why can’t the adults?

Well, here’s one for all you woke-sters out there to grok. All these Confederate statues and memorials you want to destroy and erase are there to commemorate gallant men who served their country with bravery and pride. Duty called, they answered, and many paid the ultimate price. Generally, this has nothing at all to do with slavery, sexism, racism, or any of your 21st Century rose colored glasses. Nor, by long ago federal edict, are any of these men traitors or enemies. They were brothers, brothers in arms, on the wrong side of a family quarrel that claimed the lives of almost three quarters of a million Americans. And they were damn good at their jobs; these statues memorialize the best of the best.

So who was this Semmes guy? ( and the rabbit hole beckons ... )

Raphael Semmes was one of the most effective fighting sea captains in American history. Having served honorably in the US Navy for 35 years, surviving a famous shipwreck during the Mexican War (that ship itself “cursed” and famous for the only near mutiny in US Navy history, and probably the source for Herman Melville’s book Billy Budd, seeing that his cousin was on that ship at the time. That was before Semmes was aboard the USS Somers.), he joined the southern side when the war began.

. On 8 December 1846, while commanded by Lieutenant Raphael Semmes, Somers was chasing a blockade runner off Vera Cruz when she was caught in a sudden storm. Capsized by the heavy winds, she quickly sank with the loss of more than thirty of her crew

When Secession happened Semmes fought for Alabama. And he was so good at it that, over the years, the US Navy has named two destroyers in his honor.

After appointment to the Confederate Navy as a commander and a futile assignment to purchase arms in the North, Semmes was sent to New Orleans to convert the steamer Habana into the cruiser/commerce raider CSS Sumter. In June 1861, Semmes, in Sumter, outran the USS Brooklyn, breaching the Union blockade of New Orleans, and then launched a brilliant career as one of the greatest commerce raider captains in naval history.

Semmes’s command of CSS Sumter lasted only six months, but during that time he ranged wide, raiding U.S. commercial shipping in both the Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean; his actions accounted for the loss of 18 merchant vessels, while always eluding pursuit by Union warships. By January 1862, Sumter required a major overhaul. Semmes’s crew surveyed the vessel while in neutral Gibraltar and determined that the repairs to her boilers were too extensive to be completed there. Semmes paid off the crew and laid up the vessel. U.S. Navy vessels maintained a vigil outside the harbor until she was disarmed and sold at auction in December 1862, eventually being renamed and converted to a blockade runner.

Semmes and several of his officers traveled to England where he was promoted to captain. He then was ordered to the Azores to take up command and oversee the coaling and outfitting with cannon of the newly-built British steamer Enrica as a sloop-of-war, which thereafter became the Confederate commerce raider CSS Alabama. Semmes sailed on Alabama from August 1862 to June 1864. His operations carried him from the Atlantic to the Gulf of Mexico, around Africa’s Cape of Good Hope, and into the Pacific to the East Indies. During this cruise, Alabama captured 65 U.S. merchantmen and quickly destroyed the USS Hatteras, off Galveston.

CSS Sumter, a 437-ton bark-rigged screw steam cruiser, was built at Philadelphia as the merchant steamship Habana. Purchased by the Confederate Government at New Orleans in April 1861, she was converted to a cruiser and placed under the command of Raphael Semmes. Renamed Sumter, she was commissioned in early June 1861 and broke through the Federal blockade of the Mississippi river mouths late in the month.
Early in July, the pioneering Confederate Navy commerce raider captured eight U.S. flag merchant ships in waters near Cuba, then moved to the South American coast where she took another pair. Two more merchantman fell to Sumter in September and October 1861. While coaling at Martinique in mid-November, she was blockaded by the Federal sloop of war Iroquois, but was able to escape to sea and resume her activities. Sumter captured another six ships from late November into January 1862, while cruising from the western hemisphere to European waters.

So after capturing 18 ships but being blockaded in Europe, the crew managed to sneak off, get back to the Confederacy, and were assigned to the CSS Alabama.

The C.S.S ALABAMA in the course of 22 months boarded 447 ships of all nations, captured 69 Union vessels, took 2,000 prisoners, sank the Union warship HATTERAS, and engaged the U.S.S. KEARSARGE.
During that time not one prisoner was injured to accident or disease, a large feat even today.  She observed international law and the finest “laws of the sea”.  Following her battle with HATTERAS the CSS ALABAMA put all her boats in the water and rescued all except two who were killed in the action...this at night with a Union squadron less than twenty miles away.

An officer and a gentleman, and a real fighter. When the Alabama engaged the USS Kearsage off of Cherbourg France, they lost. The massive guns of the Kearsage shot the stern of the Alabama to bits, and the ship sank. The commander of the Kearsage sat and watched the crew of the Alabama drown, until some were rescued by nearby English ships. At that point he bravely captured the surviving crew in the the two lifeboats they had managed to lower. Semmes got away.

Did he sit out the war after that? Oh heck no. He somehow got himself back to Cuba, snuck into Texas, made his way all across the South, and took command of the James River squadron defending Richmond His flagship was the new ironclad CSS Virginia II. They fought until Richmond finally fell, the squadron’s ship being burnt after losing a last, desperate river battle.

And still that was not the end. The sailors came ashore and became soldiers, running another blockade on land this time, to evade Union troops and join up with Gen. Johnston in NC. Semmes and his crew did not surrender until nearly 3 weeks after the war was over.

After the destruction of the naval squadron, Semmes’s sailors were turned into an infantry unit and dubbed the “Naval Brigade.” Semmes was then placed in command; Semmes intention for the brigade was to join Lee’s army after burning their vessels. Lee’s army, however, was already cut off from Richmond, so most of Semmes’s men boarded a train and escaped to join General Joseph E. Johnston’s army in North Carolina. A few men of the Naval Brigade were able to join with Lee’s rear guard and fought at the Battle of Sailor’s Creek.

Semmes and the Naval Brigade were surrendered to Union Major General William T. Sherman with Johnston’s army at Bennett Place near Durham Station, North Carolina, on April 26, 1865, and subsequently were paroled on May 1, 1865. Semmes’s parole notes that he held commissions as both a brigadier general and rear admiral in the Confederate service when he surrendered with General Johnston’s army.

I’d say he may have been the only General Admiral in US military history. But the guy was one helluva fighter. An inspiration to generations of sailors, I’m sure.

His story ought to be a movie. He had more swash in his buckle than any Douglas Fairbanks or Lionel Barrymore movie ever made, and as many amazing escapes as in any Indiana Jones movie. Maybe throw in a few flirtatious scenes with some beauties in period costume, although I gather he was married the whole time.

So naturally, his memory has to be eliminated. Because RAYCIS.

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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 06/05/2020 at 09:50 AM   
Filed Under: • Democrats-Liberals-Moonbat LeftistsHeroesMilitary •  
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Oh, and here's some kind of visitor flag counter thingy. Hey, all the cool blogs have one, so I should too. The Visitors Online thingy up at the top doesn't count anything, but it looks neat. It had better, since I paid actual money for it.
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