February 13, 1861
The Confederate Committee on Naval Affairs met in Montgomery to organize the Confederate Navy, prepare coastal defenses of the South’s five principal ports and recruit Southern naval officers. Home to the economically important port of Mobile and an extensive river system, Alabama played a significant role in Confederate naval operations throughout the Civil War. Many Alabamians served as sailors and officers, and shipyards in Montgomery, Mobile and Selma contributed innovative shipbuilding techniques to the Confederate Navy, including the production of ironclad ships and a submarine. Alabama’s naval importance continued until August 1864, when Union forces took control of the port of Mobile following the Battle of Mobile Bay.
Read more at Encyclopedia of Alabama.
Artwork depicting the Federal fleet at anchor in the river, New Orleans, 1862. (Illustration from Campfires and Battlefields by Rossiter, Johnson, et al., 1894, National Archives and Records Administration)
Stephen R. Mallory (ca. 1813-1873) was a U.S. senator from Florida during the 1850s and Secretary of the Navy of the Confederacy in the early 1860s. He strove to increase the Confederacy’s naval power after secession through construction of war ships and the commissioning of existing vessels. (From Encyclopedia of Alabama, courtesy of Library of Congress)
Admiral Franklin Buchanan of the Confederate Navy. Buchanan served on CSS Virginia and CSS Tennessee during the Civil War. (Brady’s National Portrait Gallery, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division)
Lieutenant John Grimball of C.S.S. Shenandoah, Confederate Navy, c. 1863-1865. (Photograph by Penabert & Cie, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs division)
This nineteenth-century print depicts the encounter between the USS Hatteras, right, and the CSS Alabama near Galveston, Texas, on January 11, 1863, during the Civil War. The Hatteras was sunk after a 20-minute battle, with most of the ship’s crew being taken prisoner by the Confederacy. (From Encyclopedia of Alabama, courtesy of the U.S. Naval Historic Center)
The CSS Selma was a Confederate warship built in 1856 in Mobile. The vessel was captured by the Confederacy in 1861 and converted to a gunship and in 1862 was renamed Selma. The ship fought in the Battle of Mobile Bay and was surrendered to Union forces on August 5, 1864. (From Encyclopedia of Alabama, photograph by T. Lilienthal, U.S. Naval Historical Center)
This diagram of the Confederate submarine H. L. Hunley, appeared in the winter 1900 issue of Popular Mechanics. It shows an interior view from the top down, the arrangement of the crew when operating the ship, and a side view of the exterior of the ship. (From Encyclopedia of Alabama)
For more on Alabama’s Bicentennial, visit Alabama 200.