Georgian by birth, and a lieutenant in the United States navy who had been detailed by the United States Government some years before to the mail service for the acquisition of experience in the new art of steam navigation.
arrived in England
, by way of Canada
, on the 4th of June, 1861.
With characteristic energy he began his delicate mission, and continued to work unceasingly during the whole course of the war, sometimes meeting with brilliant success, but often with disheartening failure.
, together with other European
powers, had not recognized the Confederate States
, only admitting a de facto
Moreover, a proclamation of neutrality had been issued, and the conditions under which the ships of both belligerents were allowed to enter and equip at British ports were clearly defined.
The terms of the Foreign Enlistment Act
had to be considered also.
The first foreign-built Confederate cruiser was the Oreto
, renamed the Florida
as soon as she flew the emblem of the new republic.
Her construction was carried on in great secrecy at a Liverpool shipyard in the fall
By the middle of March, 1862, the vessel was ready for sea. Before this, however, the new steamship had fallen under the suspicion of the American
minister, who pressed the British Government
to detain her, but so well had the secret of her ultimate use been kept that nothing definite could be learned.
had much ill-luck at first, and spent several months in the harbor of Mobile
Late in February, 1863, she left Barbadoes
for a cruise which proved to be one of the most brilliant in the history of the Confederate navy.
From the latitude of New York city to that of Bahia
, this gallant vessel roamed the Western Atlantic
In May, the big Clarence
was taken off the Brazilian
coast, and Lieutenant Charles W. Read
, a most daring officer, was put on board with a crew.
Read started north and within a month had captured five vessels.
Four of these were burned, and to the fifth, the schooner Tacony
, Read transferred himself and his crew.