CSS Alabama Cannon at Museum of Mobile

One of the guns of the Confederate raider, CSS ALABAMA has been delivered to The Museum of Mobile. The cannon will be a welcome addition to recovered artifacts the Museum of Mobile already has on loan from the US Navy. It will become the centerpiece in the 700 square foot exhibit gallery funded by the Mobile Museum Board that will open later this summer.

The gun is one of eight guns that were originally on the deck of the CSS ALABAMA. The CSS ALABAMA sank in about 200 feet of water off Cherbourg, France, after an engagement with the Union’s USS Kearsage on June 19, 1864. The gun is approximately 10 feet long and weighs 5000 pounds (2 1/2 tons).

“Now that the gun is in place in our new gallery, we’re all looking forward to sharing it with our visitors. I think anyone who’s interested in Confederate Naval history and Admiral Semmes will enjoy seeing this exhibit,” stated David Alsobrook, director. “The Museum of Mobile is very pleased that one of the deck guns raised from the CSS ALABAMA will be included in our permanent exhibits gallery. 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 CSS Alabama Association; under the leadership of president Phillip Nassar. We are all looking forward to the gun being in place and the fabrication of this new exhibits gallery, which will occur in the coming weeks. We have not established a date for the opening of the new exhibits gallery, and that announcement will be forthcoming.”

“Today represents the culmination of seven years of work by many people,” said Robert Edington. “In 2003 French and American divers recovered this cannon from the wreck of the CSS ALABAMA, which was sunk in 1864 in the English Channel 6 miles north of Cherbourg, France. It had lain underwater 140 years.

Since then the cannon has been conserved by underwater archaeologists at the Warren Lasch Conservation Center in North Charleston, S.C. and then transported to Mobile. Its original gun carriage had completely rotted away and had to be replaced. The replacement was constructed by experienced craftsmen from Mobile Public Buildings. The expertise of these artisans cannot go without note. The original plans for the gun carriage, dated May 1862, were located in England and copied exactly.”

“The Museum of Mobile has long attempted to highlight our city’s diverse cultural history and feel the cannon will give the museum staff a chance to preserve and celebrate this portion of our common heritage as Mobilians,” said Jacob Laurence, curator of exhibits. “The cannon will go on permanent exhibit immediately as the rest of the exhibit gallery design is installed. Visitors to the Museum will be able to view the cannon from a distance while watching as the final touches are put on the gallery that will ultimately be open to the public by late summer.”

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 or www.museumofmobile.com

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