Raphael Semmes, an officer in the confederate navy, born in Charles co., Md., Sept. 27, 1809. He entered the United States navy as a midshipman in 1826, became lieutenant in 1837, and commander in 1855. In 1834, while awaiting orders, he studied law and was admitted to the bar at Cumberland, Md. During the Mexican war he served both on board ship and as an aide to Gen. Worth. On the outbreak of the civil war he resigned the secretaryship of the lighthouse board at Washington, took command of the confederate steamer Sumter at New Orleans, ran the blockade at the mouth of the Mississippi, and in July, 1861, captured several American merchant vessels in the gulf. He then went to Southampton, England, where he was for some time closely watched by the United States steamer Tuscaro-ra. When he put to sea, the Tuscarora was detained 24 hours by the British authorities; but she followed him to the straits of Gibraltar, and so closely blockaded him in the port of Tangier, that he sold his vessel and returned to England. In August, 1862, he took command of the steamer Alabama, built for him at Birkenhead, England, and manned by an English crew, and continued his career of capturing and destroying merchant vessels.
On Jan. 11, 1863, off Galveston, Texas, he engaged the United States gunboat Hatteras, and after a short action sunk her. On June 19, 1864, in an engagement 9 m. off the harbor of Cherbourg, France, the United States steamer Kearsarge, Capt. Winslow, sunk the Alabama. Semmes was taken up by the English yacht Deerhound and carried to England. After the close of the war he entered upon the practice of law in Mobile, Ala. He was arrested and taken to Washington in December, 1865, but was only imprisoned four months. He has delivered public lectures on his exploits, and has published "Service Afloat and Ashore during the Mexican War" (1851); "Campaign of Gen. Scott in the Valley of Mexico" (1852); "The Cruise of the Alabama and the Sumter" (London and New York, 1864); and "Memoirs of Service Afloat during the War between the States" (8vo, Baltimore, 1869).