Master`s Mate James Evans
CSS Alabama


The following statement is taken from pages 480/481 of Raphael Semmes book "Service Afloat"

We had become now very expert in detecting the nationalities of ships. I had with me a masters mate -Evans- who had a peculiar talent in this respect. He had been a pilot out of Savannah, and had sailed in the Savannah, privateer, at the beginning of the war.....
He afterward joined me at Liverpool. Whenever I had any doubt about the nationality of a ship, I always sent for Mr. Evans, and putting my telescope in his hands, would say to him "Look at that ship", pointing in the given direction, "and tell me to what nation she belongs." A glance of a minute or two was all he required. Lowering the glass at the end of this time, he would say to me "She is Yankee Sir" or " she is not a Yankee," as the case might be...... When he pronounced a ship a Yankee, I was always certain of her."

James Evans was born in Wales around 1840, and later his family lived in Ireland.

James emmigrated into the United States in 1855 and settled in Charleston, South Carolina, where he was a harbor pilot.
With the outbreak of the war, James joined the crew of the CSS Savanah, a privateer that had been granted a "letter of marque" by President Jefferson Davis in early June of 1861. James joined the crew as a pilot.

The Savannah was a sailing ship with a crew of about 18 and in June of 1861, was patrolling off Georgetown, SC looking for Northern commercial vessels. A Northern merchant ship was soon captured and James Evans was made prize captain with a crew of six, and then proceeded to Georgetown to claim their prize.

As their first prize sailed away towards the coast, other crew members saw a Northern sail and went after it. Unfortunately for them, it turned out to be the USS Perry which promptly engaged in a onesided shooting contest with the Savannah, which the Perry emphatically won. The crew was taken to New York and charged with priacy.Upon hearing of this President Davis contacted President Lincoln after the battle of Mannassas and threatened to hang a federal officer for every crew member found guilty and hanged. A standoff ocurred and the men were released some months later.

Evans placed the prize vessel before the court and then headed to England aboard CSS Nashville which landed in England. James Evans stayed in Liverpool at the request of Commander James Dunwoody Bullock who had him apparently working at 10 Rumford Place (the unofficial Confederate Embassy in England), until Raphael Semmes arrived there.
James then travelled with Bulloch, Semmes, and other future Alabama officers to the Azores aboard the Bahama. While serving on the Alabama, James also acted as pilot on occasion. After the sinking of the Alabama at Cherbourg, France, James is not heard of again until 1867, the first year he is listed as a pilot in the Charleston directory. Family history says he returned to the US with.John McIntosh Kell, but his name has not been found amongst those who went to the US with Kell.

He is alleged to have joined the James River Squadron and fought to the end with Lee's army. While evidence on this has yet to be unearthed, it is a fact that Raphael Semmes served here. After the war, between 1867 and 1903, James was a pilot in Charleston. He died in 1903 and is buried in a family plot in Magnolia Cemetery in Charleston.

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