Thursday, February 11, 2010

CSS Alabama cannon makes Mobile its home

Author: Fox 10 Television, Mobile, Alabama

One of the guns of the confederate raider, CSS Alabama has returned to the home of its captain, Admiral Raphael Semmes. The CSS Alabama sank in about 200 feet of water off Cherbourg, France, after an engagement with the Union's USS Kearsage on June 11, 1864. The recovered artifacts, many of them already on display at The Museum of Mobile, provide information about the CSS Alabama’s construction, her technologies, armaments and the lives of those who served on her. Through archaeological projects such as the CSS Alabama excavation we share the story of our past.

“The City of Mobile carpenters are constructing a cannon carriage for its eventual display in the Museum of Mobile. The exhibit will open once the gallery renovation is complete. Summer is the projected opening date,” said Jacob Laurence, curator of exhibits. “You never know what may happen with a gun that size if you are not careful and plan accordingly.”

The cannon will be a welcome addition to those items the Museum of Mobile already has on loan from the US Navy. It will become the centerpiece in the 700 square foot exhibit funded by the Mobile Museum Board. The gun is one of eight guns that were originally on the deck of the CSS Alabama. Six were 32-pounder cannon, which means they shot a 32-pound round cannon ball and were stationed at the edges of the deck facing starboard or port. The other two were larger pivot guns that were located in the middle of the deck and fired conical shot by contrast to the gun the Museum will display. The gun is black in color, approximately 10 feet long, and weighs 5000 pounds (2 1/2 tons). The cannon is one of only three recovered of the original six of that size. One is at the Navy Yard in Washington, the other in Charleston, SC. This cannon will be on a long-term loan from the US Navy Naval History and Heritage Command in Washington D.C.

“The Museum of Mobile is very pleased that one of the deck guns raised from the CSS Alabama has arrived in our city and will be included in our permanent exhibits gallery,” stated David Alsobrook, director. “Since Admiral Raphael Semmes’s postwar residence and his gravesite are in Mobile, I think our Museum is a logical home for this artifact. Many people have helped bring this project to fruition. I want to thank attorney Robert Edington for his extraordinary efforts in leading this acquisition project from the very beginning to its final stages. I think it’s safe to say that the Museum of Mobile wouldn’t have obtained this artifact without the gifted leadership of Mr. Edington. We also deeply appreciate the technical expertise of Dr. Paul Mardikian and the Hunley conservators in Charleston, SC, and the collegial assistance of Dr. Robert Neyland of the US Navy’s Naval History and Heritage Command in Washington, DC. I also wish to point out that the Museum of Mobile’s Board, under the leadership of our chair, Tony Kendall, underwrote the cost for the renovation of our new exhibits gallery which will include the gun and for other expenses associated with the shipment of the gun, along with strong support from the Friends of the Museum of Mobile and the CSS Alabama Association. We are all looking forward to the movement of the gun into the Museum of Mobile and the fabrication of this new exhibits gallery, which will occur in the coming months. We have not established a date for the opening of the new exhibits gallery, and that announcement will be forthcoming.”

Tony Kendall, chairman, Museum Board said, "We at the Museum of Mobile are pleased that months of diligent efforts have brought a cannon from the CSS Alabama to Mobile, the city Admiral Semmes called home. This along with the ship's bell, already on display, is yet another reason to visit the city's museum of history downtown."

The Museum of Mobile is located at 111 South Royal Street. For more information on the CSS Alabama cannon or other exhibits, please call 208-7569.


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