American cannon blasts bellowed in the English Channel 140 years ago, and bloodied bodies lined the deck of a sinking Confederate ship. Onlookers watched in horror from the Normandy coast.
On June 19, 1864, far from battlefields at home, the USS Kearsarge hunted down and sank a dreaded Confederate raider in one of the most important naval battles of the U.S. Civil War — off the coast of France.
The Confederate ship Alabama today lies where it sank under 198 feet of swirling currents about seven nautical miles off the French town of Cherbourg.
On Thursday, the Civil War Preservation Trust, an American nonprofit group, named this English Channel town a historic Civil War site — the first outside the United States. Officials dedicated a plaque commemorating the battle at the Cite de la Mer museum, which is exhibiting a cannon recovered from the Alabama.
The Alabama, built for the Confederacy by a company in Liverpool, England, was one of the most successful raiders ever. In 22 months, its crew boarded 447 vessels, including 65 Union merchant ships, and took 2,000 prisoners, according to the CSS Alabama Association.0