Dead Confederates, A Civil War Era Blog

“The Fight of the Hatteras and Alabama”

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on January 11, 2016


The other day we heard the South African folk song, “Daar Kom die Alibama,” a tune reportedly inspired by the visit of that ship to Cape Town in 1863. In fact, as one of the most famous ships of the war — or infamous, according to one’s predilections — C.S.S. Alabama has been the subject of many tunes over the years. Here’s one describing her fight with U.S.S. Hatteras, about thirty miles over that-away from where I sit typing, 153 years ago today. Enjoy.



Talkin’ Hatteras and Alabama

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on September 23, 2013

On Thursday, October 17 at 6:30 p.m., I’ll be speaking at the Brazoria County Historical Museum on the fight between U.S.S. Hatteras and the famous Confederate raider Alabama, as well as the NOAA-led project to map the remains of the Union warship in 2012. Hatteras holds the unfortunate distinction of being the only Union warship sunk in action in the Gulf of Mexico, and her destruction had (as Ed Cotham and I described earlier this year in the Civil War Monitor) a profound effect on the subsequent history of the Civil War in Texas. Come out on the 17th and I’ll explain exactly why that is.

My talk is being done as part of the BCHM’s annual programming for Texas Archaeology Awareness Month. They have some other great programming lined up, as well:


Thursday, October 3rd at 6:30pm: Alamo Artillery: Ampudia and a Real Cannon. Dr. Gregg Dimmick will work to convince the audience, through historical data, that the brass cannon currently on loan to the Alamo from San Jacinto Battleground was actually at the Alamo in March of 1836.
Thursday, October 10th at 6:30: Prehistoric Appetites. Jack Johnson will explore the life of prehistoric hunter gathers as it relates to weapons, edible plants, processing and cooking techniques. Artifacts and demonstrations will help bring to life the realities of our prehistoric ancestors.
Thursday, October 24th at 6:30pm: Discovering the Bernardo Plantation. Charlie Gordy will reveal the latest excavation discoveries made at Bernardo Plantation, former home of Jared E. Groce and site of the Texas Revolution encampment of the Texian Army before the Battle of San Jacinto.


There’s one other talk coming up soon at BCHM, that I would recommend:


Tuesday, October 1st at 6:30pm: Rhiannon Meyers presents “Infinite Monster.” Author Rhiannon Meyers will share an in-depth look at the stories of one of America’s largest hurricanes, Hurricane Ike, through the voices of those who lived it: grief-stricken families, heroic helicopter pilots, courageous survivors, and more. 


Infinite Monster by Leigh Jones and Rhiannon Meyers, both reporters for the Galveston County Daily News at the time, is the best re-telling of the story of Hurricane Ike I’ve read. Having gone through Ike (five years ago this month), It’s not a happy subject, but this book is really worth your time.



Aye Candy: U.S.S. Hatteras, Version 2.0

Posted in Media, Technology by Andy Hall on September 2, 2013



Updated renders of a digital model of U.S.S. Hatteras, a Union warship sunk in battle with the Confederate raider C.S.S. Alabama on January 11, 1863. This model replaces an earlier version that, while similar in general configuration, I now believe to be wrong in several respects. This model, which is about 75% new, is based on a detailed drawing of Hatteras‘ sister ship, the Morgan Line steamer Harlan (see that set), in the Bayou Bend Collection. Thanks to my colleague Ed Cotham for locating the Harlan image and sharing it with me. As always, full-resolution images available on Flickr.









Articles on U.S.S. Hatteras, U.S.S. Clifton

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on May 2, 2013

The new issue of the Texas Historical Commission’s newsletter, The Medallion, has articles on last fall’s expedition to the U.S.S. Hatteras wreck site (pp. 10-11), and the return of the restored “walking beam” from U.S.S. Clifton to the Battle of Sabine Pass site. The Hatteras article can be downloaded here (PDF).

Enjoy, y’all.


Image: “The Fatal Chase” by Tom Freeman. Copyright © Tom Freeman 2012, all rights reserved. Used with permission.


U.S.S. Hatteras Program Video

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on January 12, 2013


Last night’s program on Hatteras and Alabama is available here for viewing; Dr. Delaney speaks first, followed by Dr. Delgado. More programs from the weekend will be online soon. The program was made possible by the generosity of the American National Insurance Company of Galveston, which provided an outstanding venue for the talk, and Humanities Texas, which provided underwriting for the event that allowed it to be open to the public at no charge.

A gathering of Civil War naval buffs is, I think, the only place you’ll hear someone say, “I’ve been an Alabama fan for a long time,” and they’re not talking about college football.


Image: “The Fatal Chase” by Tom Freeman. Copyright © Tom Freeman 2012, all rights reserved. Used with permission.


Additional Hatteras Project Photos

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on September 15, 2012

All from Monday, September 10, and approximately in sequence.

Early start to the day aboard the main research vessel of the Flower Gardens Bank National Marine Sanctuary, R/V Manta.

New Hatteras News Items

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on September 13, 2012

Nautical archaeologist Amanda Evans of Tesla Offshore examines Hatteras‘ starboard paddlewheel. Photo by Jesse Cancelmo.

Two new news items today on this week’s fieldwork on the Hatteras site:

Galveston County Daily News
Researchers Map Hatteras as Anniversary Approaches

Houston Chronicle
Sunken Ship Yields Secrets to Technology


“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.


Memorial for U.S.S. Hatteras Crew Members

Posted in Education, Memory by Andy Hall on September 11, 2012

September 10, 2012. Fr. Stephen Duncan of Galveston, Texas conducts a memorial service for U.S.S. Hatteras Fireman John G. Cleary and Coal Heaver William Healy, who died in the battle with C.S.S. Alabama, January 11, 1863. This service, conducted over the wreck of Hatteras, is believed to be the first to honor these men, both of whom were Irish immigrants. The service marked the beginning of an intensive survey of the wreck conducted by a team of archaeologists and technicians assembled by NOAA, that will create a three-dimensional sonar map to document the storm-exposed remains of the USS Hatteras. The wreck itself will not be disturbed, and no artifacts will be recovered. The wreck is a protected site, and because the remains of the two crewmen were never recovered, the site is considered to be a war grave.


A memorial wreath and red and white rose petals scattered on the Gulf of Mexico at the site. I’ll have more to write about this project soon. In the meantime, here’s a NOAA press release providing the basic details. More Fr. Duncan here.


Officers of U.S.S. Monitor, 1862.

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on March 27, 2017

Officers of U.S.S. Monitor, July 9, 1862. Seated front, l. to r.:Robinson Woollen Hands and Albert B. Campbell. Seated, second row: Samuel Dana Greene, Louis N. Stodder, Edwin V. Gager, William Flye, and Daniel C. Logue. Standing, rear: George Frederickson, Mark T. Sunstrom, William F. Keeler, and Isaac Newton. Hands and Frederickson were lost in the sinking of the ship off Cape Hatteras a few months later. Library of Congress image; identifications from The Monitor Chronicles.

Click here for the red/cyan 3D image below in high resolution.