Chapter 82: the East India fleet.Of course, in the long years after the war, there were many recitations of Mr. Davis's shortcomings, given by one or other of those who thought a mistake had been made when he was asked to preside over the Confederate States. One of these is his alleged failure to purchase the E. I. fleet, which was revamped in 1889 and given to the journals of the day. Judge Roman, in his book entitled “Military operations of General Beauregard,” states that:
While journeying from Charleston to Montgomery, General Beauregard met Mr. W. L. Trenholm, whose father, George A. Trenholm, was a partner in the great firm of John Frazer & Co., of Charleston and Liverpool. This gentleman, as he informed General Beauregard, was the bearer of important propositions from the English branch of their house to the Confederate Government, for the purchase of ten large and powerful steamers, just built in England for the East Indian Company, which, no longer needing them,  was desirous of finding a purchaser; the ships were to be properly manned and fitted out, and sent to the Confederate States, thence to export enough cotton to pay for them, and as much more as should be required to provide for the armament and equipment of our forces. Such a plan, it was thought by the Frazer house, could easily be carried out. The United States Government would require time to collect and rendezvous its fleet, the inadequacy of which was well known; and no fear need, therefore, be entertained of its ability, at that time, to enforce a blockade of the Southern ports; an effective blockade could be prevented. After a certain number of voyages with large cargoes of cotton, for the purposes already mentioned, these steamers might be converted into cruisers, and employed to impede and destroy Northern commerce.General Beauregard, thoroughly impressed with the incalculable benefits to be derived from the adoption of such a project, promised Mr. Trenholm to use his utmost endeavors in furtherance of the measures that gentleman was sent to advocate. In a letter to General Beauregard, dated Charleston, September 18, 1878, Mr. Trenholm says: “This I remember well, that you warmly supported the proposition, and used your influence in aid of its  being brought before the Cabinet, which was accomplished.” But neither General Beauregard's earnest advice, nor the strong and cogent reasons given by Mr. Trenholm were of any avail. The Confederate Government, under the erroneous belief that the war would be a short one, declined entertaining the proposals made to it. “No discussion took place in my presence,” says Mr. Trenholm, in the letter already alluded to, “but from questions put to me, I have always been under the impression that few, if any, of those present” (meaning the President and members of the Cabinet) “realized at all the scope and importance of the measures laid before them.” Thus was closed upon the Confederacy a door-then wide-open-through which might have entered that material assistance, those sinews of war, the want of which all the heroism of our troops and the endurance and self sacrifice of our people could not remedy. The New York Sun of November 17, 1878, contained what purported to be an interview with General Beauregard, in which he said he had gone with a messenger of Messrs. Frazer & Co. to the Confederate Secretary of War, and urged him to buy the fleet. Mr. W. L. Trenholm wrote to Mr. Davis December 18, 1878, of the alleged proposition  made to the Confederate Government by Mr. Trenholm.
In a letter to Captain Bullock, C. S. N., written by Mr. Charles K. Prioleau, senior partner in the Liverpool firm of Frazer, Trenholm & Co., and dated Burges June 21, 1884, he says:
With this letter I dismiss the charge of criminal neglect or supine disregard, on the part of the President and his cabinet, of favorable opportunity or of our danger, as “vague and indefinite.” The pain inflicted on Mr. Davis in his old age and weak health by arraignments made against him by his own people, was relieved very much when he received an expression of regard from either North or South. He was gratified to learn, by a letter from a friend in Maine, his name had not, as he had been informed, been expunged from the honorary  membership of Bowdoin College, in Maine. He appreciated gratefully the action of the officers of the college, and answered their kind letter only a few months before his death. He was also much pleased at being made a member of the Kappa Sigma Society, which was done in a particularly handsome manner. It was the society of which our son was a much-lamented and beloved brother.