THE REBEL RAIDERS: The Astonishing History of the Confederacy's Secret Navy

James Tertius DeKay, Author . Ballantine $26 (272p) ISBN 978-0-345-43182-0

DeKay (Monitor) here presents the drama of the Confederacy's commerce raiders, built in Great Britain early in the Civil War and designed to disrupt Northern trade and consequently divert the North's naval blockade of Southern cotton. He recounts the immensely successful efforts of Confederate purchasing agent James D. Bulloch to contract with English builders, focusing on the famous Alabama, launched in 1862 amid swirling controversy as the U.S. ambassador to England, Charles Francis Adams, tried unsuccessfully to convince the British administration to seize the ship. Captained by Raphael Semmes, the Alabama wreaked havoc on the Union merchant fleet, eventually seizing or destroying 66 vessels. Northern intelligence efforts had uncovered Bulloch's deceptions early on, and on June 19, 1864, the Alabama was finally sunk off Cherbourg, France, by the Union warship Kearsarge. Of equal importance is the postwar tale of the "Alabama Claims," in which America's outrage over England's support of the South at times threatened war or reprisals against the British for the destruction of America's merchant marine. The claims were submitted to an international tribunal and England paid America a hefty $15 million in 1873. Although recent books on this subject (including Charles M. Robinson's 1995 book on the Alabama, among others) have already minutely detailed this topic, DeKay's engagingly written book is carefully and knowledgeably constructed, and will appeal to the uninitiated. (On sale May 28)

Reviewed on: 05/06/2002
Release date: 05/01/2002
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 257 pages - 978-0-345-43183-7
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