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Two Years on the Alabama
by Arthur Sinclair
University of Alabama Press, 2003
Paper: 978-0-8173-5032-1

Confederate proclamation of nationhood was backed by an energetic and reasonably well equipped land defense.  Not so for its coastal and sea defenses; much of its hope of tipping the balance in its contention with the Union rested on international support, trade, and naval defense.  In search of a naval arm to counter Northern superiority on the seas, the South turned to foreign sources for a seaborne arm.  Confederate agents in England cagily used scarce gold, promises of cotton, and British sympathy to obtain the devastating naval weapons of speedy and deadly raiders.  Foremost among these was the Alabama, a screw steamer with full sail power, launched in May 1862.  In only twenty-two months of action, this ship engaged nearly 300 vessels and destroyed 55 Northern merchant ships worth millions of dollars.

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