Oh, in eighteen hundred and sixty one,
Roll, Alabama, roll!
This ship her building was begun,
Oh roll, Alabama, roll!
When the Alabama’s keel was laid,
This ship her building was begun.
And down the Mersey she rolled one day,
An’ across western she ploughed her way …
With British guns, oh, she was stocked,
She sailed from Fayal – in Cherbourg she docked.
To fight the North, Semmes did employ,
Any method to kill an’ destroy.
Outside the three-mile limit they fought,
An’ Semmes escaped on a fine British yacht.
The Kearsarge won – Alabama so brave,
Sank to the bottom to a watery grave.
Hugill classifies this as a halyard shanty related to “Roll the Cotton Down,” recounting how:
I had my version from an elderly New Zealand lady whose husband had been a seaman in the Alabama. I met her in Gisborne, New Zealand, in 1925.
Other versions of this shanty: