Civil War Wiki
'Alexander Alderman Semmes'
Personal Information
Born: 1825
Place of Birth: {{{place of birth}}}
Died: September 22, 1885 (aged 59–60)
Place of Death: {{{place of death}}}
Birth Name: {{{birth name}}}
Other Information
Allegiance: United States of America
Participation(s): {{{participations}}}
Branch: United States Navy
Union Navy
Service Years: {{{service years}}}
Rank: Commodore, 10 March 1882
Service number : {{{servicenumber}}}
Unit: USS Rhode Island
USS Wamsutta
USS Tahoma
Commands: {{{commands}}}
Battles: American Civil War
Battle of the Riceboro River
Relations: {{{relations}}}
Other work: {{{otherwork}}}

Alexander Alderman Semmes (1825-September 22, 1885) was a career United States Navy officer, who served with distinction in the American Civil War. He was a cousin of Confederate naval hero Raphael Semmes, and also of Confederate general Paul Jones Semmes.

Naval career[]

Semmes became a midshipman on 27 October 1841.[1] He attended the United States Naval Academy and became a passed midshipman on 10 August 1847.[2] He was promoted to Lieutenant on 15 September 1855. He became a Lieutenant Commander on 16 July 1862. He attained the rank of Captain on August 24, 1873, and was promoted to Commodore on March 10, 1882.[1]

Civil War service[]

Semmes served on the USS Rhode Island as a lieutenant during the first year of the war, during which time the vessel captured of the Confederate schooner Aristides off Charlotte harbor.

In March 1862, he was given command of the USS Wamsutta, and participated in the Battle of the Riceboro River.

Semmes was promoted to lieutenant commander in July and given command of the new screw propeller gunboat USS Tahoma on October 17, 1862. Serving in the East Gulf Blockade Squadron commanded by Admiral Cornelius Stribling, he was able to make seven captures off the west coast of Florida, as well as launching an expeditionary attack at Tampa Bay and engaging the shore batteries at Gadsden Point in April 1863.

In August 1864, he became commander of the USS Lehigh, participating in the bombardment of Fort Pringle and in the operations at Charleston until that city surrendered. He co-operated with Grant's army, fought the Howlett house batteries, and was present at the fall of Richmond in 1865.[2]

Postwar service[]

Semmes was Captain of the "man of war" U.S.S. Alaska. Semmes was ordered by Grant around December 1875 to Cape Palmas, Liberia in a show of force to stop the Grebo-Liberian War. Semmes pulled into Cape Palmas on February 3, 1876.[3][4]

In 1880, Semmes was made the third president of the Board of Inspection and Survey,[2] which had been formed in 1868. He served as the board's president until June 1883. At the time of his death, he commanded the Washington Navy Yard.[2]

Personal life[]

Semmes married Mary Dorsey of Baltimore, Maryland in 1864. He died in 1885 at the age of 60.

See also[]

  • American Civil War
  • USS Rhode Island
  • USS Wamsutta
  • USS Tahoma
  • Board of Inspection and Survey


The first reference below indicates Alexander Semmes’ birthdate as 1809; however Alexander Semmes was 16 years younger than his cousin Raphael Semmes who was born in 1809, which indicates that Alexander Semmes was born in 1825.