Dead Confederates, A Civil War Era Blog

“The Fight of the Hatteras and Alabama”

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on September 12, 2012

A popular song of the Civil War period was “The Fight of the Hatteras and Alabama,” reportedly composed by Ordinary Seaman Frank Townsend (or Townshend) of the Confederate raider. The lyrics were probably first published in 1889 in Frank Moore’s The Civil War in Song and Story, 1860-1865. Townsend may have been a veteran of Alabama‘s entire cruise; he was rescued by the British yacht Deerhound after the battle with Kersarge in June 1864. This song is the first track on the recent Smithsonian Folkways release, Civil War Naval Songs: Period Ballads from the Union and Confederate Navies, and the Home Front.

“The Fight of the Hatteras and Alabama”
Off Galveston, the Yankee fleet secure at anchor lay.
Preparing for a heavy fight they were to have next day;
Down came the Alabama, like an eagle o’er the wave,
And soon their gunboat Hatteras had found a watery grave.
Twas in the month of January; the day was bright and clear;
The Alabama she bore down; no Yankee did we fear:
Their Commodore he spied us; to take us long he burned;
S0 he sent the smartest boat he had, but she never back returned.
The sun had sunk far in the West when down to us she came;
Our Captain quickly hailed her, and asked them for her name;
Then spoke our First Lieutenant, — for her name had roused his ire,
“This is the Alabama — now, Alabamas, fire.”
Then flew a rattling broadside, that made her timbers shake;
And through the holes made in her side the angry waves did break;
We then blew up her engine, that she could steam no more —
They fired a gun to leeward, and so the fight was o’er.
So thirteen minutes passed away before they gave in beat;
A boat had left the Yankee’s side, and pulled in for their fleet;
The rest we took on board of us, as prisoners to stay;
Then stopped and saw their ship go down, and then we bore away.
And now, to give our foes their due, they fought with all their might;
But yet they could not conquer us, for God defends the right;
One at a time their ships they have to fight us they may come,
And rest assured that our good ship from them will never run.


One Response

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  1. Freeman Walker, USN Ret said, on September 15, 2012 at 6:08 am

    We sailors are a ballsey lot, aye?

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