ADMIRAL RAPHAEL SEMMES CAMP #11
SONS OF CONFEDERATE VETERANS
USS Sommers – Semmes' first command before the war between the states
U.S. Brig Somers (1842-1846) Colored sketch by a crewman of USS Columbus. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.
USS Somers, a 259-ton Bainbridge class brig, was built at the New York Navy Yard. Commissioned in May 1842, she made a brief shakedown cruise to the Caribbean area, then left New York in September on a training voyage to the west coast of Africa. While en route home in late November, a suspected mutiny led Somers' officers to arrest three members of the crew, including Midshipman Philip Spencer, son of the then Secretary of War. The three men were executed by hanging on 1 December 1842, leading to a considerable controversy when Somers returned to the United States later in the month.
Somers operated along the U.S. Atlantic coast and in the West Indies during 1843-45. In the spring of 1846 war began with Mexico, and the brig joined the blockade off that nation's Gulf coast. On 26 November 1846, she captured and destroyed the schooner Criolla. On 8 December 1846, while commanded by Lieutenant Raphael Semmes, Somers was chasing a blockade runner off Vera Cruz when she was caught in a sudden storm. Capsized by the heavy winds, she quickly sank with the loss of more than thirty of her crew. In recent years, her wreck has been discovered and explored by divers.