Join us for a virtual lecture with author and historian John V. Quarstein! Quarstein will give a 30-minute presentation live from his home in Hampton, Virginia, about the origins of CSS Sumter and its role during the Civil War under the leadership of Commander Raphael Semmes.
About this presentation:
The CSS Sumter was converted from the steamer Habana into a cruiser by Commander Raphael Semmes. Semmes joined the US Navy in 1826 and, during the Mexican War, he commanded the brig USS Somers until it capsized in a storm. He then served on USS Raritan during the landing at Veracruz. Afterward, Semmes took leave to study law. When he returned to active service as a commander, he was detailed as a lighthouse inspector. He resigned in 1861 and joined the Confederate navy. After refitting CSS Sumter in New Orleans, he ran his cruiser past the blockader USS Brooklyn and then embarked on a six-month cruise which resulted in the capture of 18 Northern merchant ships. Needing repairs, Sumter went to Gibraltar for servicing. Trapped there by Union gunboats, Semmes sold Sumter and traveled to London where he would soon be named commander of CSS Alabama.