for piracy, but the jury disagreed.
While awaiting a new trial, the Confederacy
imprisoned an equal number of officers of the Federal
army, who were held as prisoners of war, and notified the Federals
that whatever punishment was inflicted upon the privateersmen would be imposed upon the officers who were held as hostages.
The great nations of the world refused to accept the ultimatum of the Union
that the privateers were practising piracy, and from that time to the close of the war the men captured on privateers were treated as prisoners of war.
Now took place, on the part of the Confederate Navy Department, a most important move which opened a new chapter in naval history.
On the 9th of May, 1861, Secretary Mallory
, convinced that the resources of the Confederacy
were not sufficient to complete a navy that would be adequate to maintain the defenses of the waterways of the South
, commissioned James D. Bulloch
to go to England
and attempt to have some suitable ships constructed there, informing him at the same time that the necessary funds would be secured and placed at his disposal by the representatives of the Confederacy
The matter of building war-vessels in England
presented many difficulties, for, under the British
policy of neutrality, any ship of either of the warring powers that took on any armament or other equipment that was classed as contraband, was guilty of a breach of the neutrality agreement, and might be taken possession of by the British Government
, a graduate of Annapolis
, was well suited to the task, and he at once entered into negotiations for the building of two ships, which were to be delivered to him personally as his property.
While built on the general lines of ships that would be suitable for privateering, they were not to be armed or in any way equipped as battle-ships by their makers.
In spite, however, of all the precautions taken, the ships were not more than half completed before the suspicions of the Federal
agents were aroused.
But, though they were