GODWIN, CHARLES HENRY(1825~1891). Charles Henry Godwin, Confederate Navy, was born on July 19, 1825, to Silas and Ezit Elizabeth Taylor Godwin in West Stour, Dorset, England, where he was baptized at the family's parish church, St. Mary. On April 23, 1847, at the age of 22, Godwin went to sea for the first time where he was apprenticed on board the Agnes, where he was to travel from London to Honduras. His servitude had him bound for four years, but Godwin deserted the Agnes the following year. Between 1847 and 1862, Godwin appears to have traveled the world by working onboard numerous military and civilian vessels.
During the Crimean War, after being discharged from a ship in the Black Sea, Godwin found passage, first to Malta, and finally home to Southampton, where he arrived on July 25, 1855. On August 24, 1862, he joined the Confederate Navy, where he was one of the original crewmen aboard the CSS Alabama. During his time on the Alabama, Godwin traveled the world as the Alabama gained notoriety for capturing, in its twenty-two month history, 447 vessels, 65 Union merchant vessels, sinking the USS Hatteras, and taking 2,000 prisoners. Godwin was on the Alabama when it took part in its last battle with the USS Kearsage off the coast of Cherbourg, France on June 19, 1864. As the cruiser was sunk, the captain and some of the crew escaped on the British yacht Deerhound. However, Godwin was rescued by a French pilot boat and was discharged from the Confederate Navy while in Cherbourg.
After surviving the sinking of the Alabama, Godwin returned home and married Sarah Bowles, the daughter of William and Jane Cross Bowles, on July 4, 1864, at St. Mary Parish Church in West Stour, Dorset. Together, Charles and Sarah had one son, Ralph Semmes, who was born in Dorset in 1866. After his son's birth, Godwin seems to have disappeared. There is no record of Godwin between 1866 and 1888, although he apparently settled in Texas during this time.
Godwin's wife, Sarah, remained in Dorset, where she passed away at the Dorchester Asylum at age 75 in 1911. Her body was carried back to her village church, where she was buried in the churchyard of St. John the Baptist on January 26.
On December 15, 1888, Godwin was admitted into the Confederate Men's Home. He died on December 1, 1891, and was buried in the Texas State Cemetery.
Information provided by Maurice Rigby, of Merseyside, England, from his research on the crew of the CSS Alabama; the Confederate Home Roster, which can be found at the Texas State Library and Archives; The CSS Alabama Association webpage, http://www.css-alabama.com/; the Naval History Center webpage, http://www.history.navy.mil/branches/org12-1.htm; and Still, Jr., William N., (1997) The Confederate Navy: The Ships, Men and Organization, 1861 - 65. 1st ed. London: Conway Maritime Press.