Oh, in eighteen hundred and sixty one,
(Chorus: Roll, Alabama, roll!)
This ship her building was begun,
(Chorus: Oh roll, Alabama, roll!)
When the Alabama's keel was laid,
This ship her building was begun.
Oh, she was built in Birkenhead,
Built in the yard of Johnathan Laird.
And down the Mersey she rolled one day,
An' across western she ploughed her way [Bound to Faya she]
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.
But off Cherbourg the Kearsarge lay tight,
Awaiting was Winslow to start a good fight [spoling to fight]
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.
abc | midi | pdf
Source: S Hugill, 1994, Shanties from the Seven Seas,Mystic Seaport Museum, Conn.
Stan Hugill wrote:
Another halyard shanty also similar in tune [to "Roll the Cotton Down"] is Roll, Alabama, Roll!. 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. This shanty tells the story of the Confederate ship Alabama and its fight with the U.S. sloop of was Kearsarge. The incident took place on Sunday, 19 June, 1864. A Negro folk-song which seems related is Roll, Jimmy Jenkins, Roll!
Roud: 4710 (Search Roud index at VWML)