a variety of other names. . . . I have obtained from the official custom-house returns some details of the sundries exported from the United Kingdom to the Northern States of America from the 1st of May, 1861, to the 31st of December, 1862. There were—muskets, 41,500; rifles, 341,000; gun-flints, 26,500; percussion-caps, 49,982,000; and swords, 2,250. The best information I could obtain leads me to believe that one third to a half may be added to these numbers for items which have been shipped to the Northern States as hardware . . . so that, if the Southern States have got two ships unarmed, unfit for any purpose of warfare—for they procured their armament somewhere else—the Northern States have been well supplied from this country, through the agency of some most influential persons.The speech of Mr. Laird, exposing the hypocrisy of the representations which had been made, as well by commercial bodies as by the highest officers of the United States, called forth repeated cheers from the Parliament. There had been no secrecy about the building of the Alabama. The same authority above quoted states that she was frequently visited while under construction, and it is known that the British government was applied to to prevent her from leaving port. It was feared that she might be delayed; it was not considered possible, however, that British authorities would prevent an unarmed merchant ship from leaving her coast, lest she might elsewhere procure an armament, and, in the service of a recognized belligerent, revive the terror in the other belligerent which the little Sumter had recently inspired. When the Alabama was launched and ready for sea, Captain Bullock summoned Captain Semmes, lately commander of the Sumter, to Liverpool, where he spent a few days in financial arrangements, and in collecting the old officers of the Sumter. The Alabama, then known as the 290, had proceeded a few days before to her rendezvous, the Portugese Island of Terceira, one of the group of the Azores. The story that the name 290 belonged to the fact that she had been built by two hundred ninety Englishmen, sympathizers in our struggle, was a mere fiction. She was built under a contract with the Confederate States, and paid for with Confederate money. She happened to be the two hundred ninetieth ship built by the Lairds, and, not having been christened, was called 290. Captain Semmes followed her, accompanied by Captain Bullock on the steamer Bahama, and found her at the place of rendezvous, also a sailing ship which had been dispatched before the Alabama with her battery and stores. Captain Semmes, with a sailor's enthusiasm, describes his first impression on seeing the ship which was to be his future home. The defects of the Sumter had been avoided, so that he found his new ship ‘a perfect steamer and a perfect sailing-ship, at ’
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.