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CSS Alabama
The Confederate cruiser, Alabama, was sinking. In less than ten minutes she would slip beneath the waves off Cherbourg, France. For two years the Alabama had been capturing and burning Union merchant vessels all over the world. Considered the most successful commerce raider of all time, she successfully boarded nearly 450 ships, burned 65 and took over 2000 prisoners without loss of life to either side (1). Attempts to stop her taxed the north`s ability to maintain a blockade of southern ports. The fear of her, along with ever increasing insurance rates, severely affected Northern commerce.
French Dueling Pistols
Now the decks were covered with shattered equipment and the severed remains of dead crewmen. Water poured into her through holes “large enough to admit a wheelbarrow” (2). Though Captain Semmes had ceased firing and lowered his flag, the Union warship Kearsarge continued to fire on the fatally wounded ship. First Officer Kell ordered a white flag to be shown from the stern, and slowly the firing ceased. A dinghy was quickly dispatched requesting aid for the wounded. Seeing no response from the Kearsarge, Kell ordered the least-damaged quarter boat lowered. Dr. Galt took charge of the boat, accompanying the wounded and some non-swimmers to the Kearsarge. Captain Semmes and First Officer Kell dropped their swords into the ocean and swam to the British steam yacht, Deerhound, which had been observing the battle from a safe distance (3).
Dr. Francis Land Galt
Dr. Francis Land Galt 1833-1915
Francis L. Galt was born in Norfolk, Virginia on December 13, 1833. He entered the United States Navy as an Assistant Surgeon in 1855. He served on the frigate, Saint Lawrence, at the Norfolk Navy Yard and Naval Hospital and on the gunboat, Pocahontas, during the next five years. He resigned from the U.S. Navy in April 1861, after Virginia left the Union, and joined the Confederate States Navy at the rank of Surgeon. Shortly thereafter, Surgeon Galt was assigned to CSS Sumter, commanded by Raphael Semmes, and took part in her 1861-62 cruise. In mid-1862, he helped Semmes put CSS Alabama into commission and stayed with her through her entire career. In addition to performing his medical duties, Galt also acted as the ship`s paymaster. He was captured when the Alabama was sunk in the 19 June 1864 engagement with the USS Kearsarge, but was paroled the same day. Later in 1864, after returning to America, he served with the James River batteries and ironclad squadron, ending the war with the Confederate ground forces that surrendered at Appomattox, Virginia in April 1865. Following the conflict, Galt took part in a Peruvian Government exploration of the headwaters of the Amazon River, then returned to Virginia, where he practiced medicine in Loudoun County (4). He died on November 17, 1915 in Upperville, Virginia and is buried there in Ivy Hill Cemetery (5).
Dr. Galt`s Sword
The brass hilt has a fouled anchor motif (6), down-turned quillon and pierced floral designs. Its grip is made of polished wood wrapped with a double strand of twisted brass wire. The blade was made at the Chatellerault Armory in France (7) and is marked on the spine. Its length is 27-1/4 inches. The scabbard is covered in black snake skin, its throat is decorated with a fouled anchor and a scroll stylized "F" in silver. The inverse is inscribed "Lt. Francis L. Galt, April 18 1861, CSN". Its suspension band is decorated with a scroll stylized "G" in silver. The drag has a small fouled anchor and a scroll style flourish in silver.

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