Archive photographs of CSS Alabama

Temporary archive display

2 to 29 September 2005

old photograph taken on board a ship

The Maritime Archives and Library at National Museums Liverpool purchased three rare archive photographs of the Confederate Commerce Raider Alabama in August 2005. The photographs were displayed at the Maritime Archives and Library in the Merseyside Maritime Museum from 2 to 29 September 2005, along with other important items from our collections relating to the American Civil War.

The photographs were taken on board the Alabama by Arthur Green, a commercial photographer in Cape Town, whilst the ship was at Table Bay, Cape Town, South Africa in August 1863. Captain Semmes’ log for Wednesday 12 August 1863 states ‘Photographers & visitors on board’

Very few photographs of the Alabama exist and the visit of Arthur Green is the only time photographs were taken on board the ship herself. Another copy of two of the images exist elsewhere but the third image is believed to be unique.

Stamps on the back of the photographs indicate that they once belonged to JGM Bernard, the Superintendent of the Boating Company of Port Elizabeth. The ink from these stamps can be seen showing through to the front of two of the photographs.

Follow the links below to find out more about each photograph.

Further information

You can read more about the history of the CSS Alabama on this website. Further details can also be found in Andrew Bowcock’s book ‘CSS Alabama, Anatomy of a Confederate Raider’, a copy of which is available in the Maritime Archives and Library .