Portrait of Captain Raphael Semmes on board the Alabama 1863

old portrait photo of a man on a ship

The image shows Captain Semmes seated next to the binnacle, which contained the compass. There is another copy of this photograph of Captain Semmes within a private collection but it is more heavily cropped.

Raphael Semmes (1809-1877) commanded the Alabama throughout her two years of action. He served in the US Navy until the American Civil War started, then he resigned his commission and joined the Confederate Navy. He commanded the cruiser Sumter, then when this was laid up and sold received orders to command the Alabama, which he joined off the Azores in 1862. After the sinking of the Alabama off Cherbourg in 1864 he returned to America and was promoted to Rear-Admiral. After the war he practised law in Mobile, Alabama until his death.

Accession number PR.469.1