Biography (Written and Submitted by Mr. Gabe Weaver)
Admiral Raphael Semmes was born on September 27, 1809 in Charles County, Maryland. He was orphaned at the age of ten. He began training as a U.S. Navy Midshipman at the age of 15. He moved to
Mobile, Alabama in 1849 so he could be close to the naval base in
Florida and to practice law. Semmes resigned from the United States Navy in
1861 and became a Commander in the
Confederate States Navy. Semmes then brought a steamer over from
New Orleans and converted it into the cruiser, The Sumter. It was the
Confederacy's first commerce destroyer. After the decommission of the Sumter, Semmes was assigned to the
CSS Alabama. Captain Semmes and the
Alabama would spend the
next 22 months at sea capturing or sinking 69 ships valued at 6
million dollars. Adding this to his record aboard the Sumter it
added up 87 ships sunk or captured, his record still stands today.
Raphael Semmes on the
The Alabama went to port in Cherbourg, France on June 11, 1864. It was spotted within a few days by the USS Kearsearge. On June 19, 1864 the
Alabama met the Kearsearge in battle and was sunk within an hour. Nineteen crewmen were lost, and the USS Kearsearge picked up the rest. Captain Semmes and 41 other crewmen were picked up by the Deerhound and escaped to England. In June 1865 Raphael Semmes was promoted to Admiral and was put in command of the
James River Squadron that was protecting
Richmond. He was forced to burn his ships upon the Union advance towards Richmond.
President Jefferson Davis appointed Admiral Semmes a Brigadier General. Admiral/Brigadier General Semmes surrendered with
Joseph E. Johnston at Durham, North Carolina. Semmes died on August 30, 1877 after eating spoiled shrimp at his daughter's home in Point Clear, Alabama. He is buried with his wife Ann in Mobile Catholic Cemetery, a statue of Admiral Semmes stands over Government Street in Downtown Mobile.
Many thanks to Mr. Gabe Weaver for Writing and Submitting this Biography.