The Confederate blockade runners and privateers had enjoyed many notable successes, but the most dramatic were those gained by CSS Alabama. Captained by Raphael Semmes (1809–1877), the Alabama was a British ship that had been sold to the Confederacy, and—in order to avoid violations of international law—been sent to sea under a British crew before being transferred to Semmes. Once he took command of the Alabama in the summer of 1862, Semmes commenced a series of brilliant captures and raids on Northern commerce. For almost two years, Semmes outwitted his Union opponents at sea. But he eventually was cornered in the harbor of Cherbourg, France, by the USS Kearsarge.