That Flaunting Rag!: Maine's Maritime War Against the Confederacy
May 3, 2013 Dec. 1, 2013
So retorted the enraged Confederate Capt. Raphael Semmes of the CSS raider Alabama, hemmed in at Cherbourg, France by the USS Kearsarge. 'That flaunting rag' was the US Navy union jack at her masthead, the daily sight of which finally drove Semmes out to meet his fate.
Maine’s valour and sacrifice in the epic land battles of the Civil War has been well documented; ‘That Flaunting Rag!’ will shed some light on the more obscure war against the Confederate sea raiders, which played out in an era of clicking telegraphs as a maritime chess game of espionage, long distance sleuthing, and diplomatic double-entendres. (above) Detail of fully rigged display model of USS Kearsarge as she was during her engagement with CSS Alabama.
The 'Battle of Portland Harbor’ will also be featured, in which the explosion of the highjacked Federal Revenue Cutter Caleb Cushing stymied only the most obvious attempt of Confederate agents to exploit the vulnerabilities of Maine’s long coastline, easily penetrated from Canadian refuge.
Further illuminated will be Maine shipbuilding contributions to the war effort, including the Bath-built ’90-day gunboat’ USS Katahdin, whose lengthy service on the lower Mississippi included the interception of a herd of Texas cattle intended for Confederate troops; less black and white (blue and gray) was the intriguing complication of the Union blockade for Maine shipping interests, which had long cultivated profitable relationships within Southern port cities.