Liverpool's Connections with the American Civil War

We are in contact with Bob Jones, who runs an organisation that discovers the graves in Merseyside of people who died 'over here', but who fought in the American Civil War 'over there'. Once the grave has been identified, research is carried out about the history of the deceased, and involvement in the ACW. Contact is also made with American organisations who do the same sort of thing, and the grave is tidied up, and then a ceremony is arranged for its re-dedication.

At this point a number of dignitaries become involved, including ACWS volunteers, who take part in the graveside ceremony to re-dedicate the grave, and fire a volley over it. Surprising numbers of people went to America, ended up in the Civil War, but came home to the UK later, and are buried here. Bob concentrates on those buried in Merseyside.

Over the weekend 21st/22nd March 2010 in the main hall at St. George's Hall Liverpool Bob had a pitch or table to promote his organisation. He invited ACW re-enactors to join him, for recruiting and promotional purposes. The Hall was absolutely full of masses of displays and stands relating to the history of Merseyside and the whole thing was designated a History Fair. Very interesting it was, too!

It drew very large crowds, and the Hall was packed on both days. Bob's stand was the centre of much attention, because of the display of flags he had put up, and the re-enactors in uniform. We attracted a lot of interest, and this is exactly the sort of profile raising, and recruiting we need to do (especially for the Confederate Army: I was delighted to be supported by a sufficiency of 'gentlemen in grey', who, hopefully, secured some interest). Well worth being there.

We were having to explain time after time to members of the public why Merseyside was so important to the ACW and so well connected. Quite apart from the several Confederate raiders built on Merseyside particularly by Lairds Shipyard in Birkenhead, of course most of the Southern cotton came through the port, and the blockade led to unemployment and starvation throughout the Lancashire cotton mills. Most of the cotton workers did not want to handle slave produced cotton, and to this day in Lincoln Square in central Manchester, is a statute to President Lincoln, paid for by public subscription.

Liverpool had both Confederate and Union Consuls offices (quite close to each other in Water Street) and both organisations 'kept tabs' on each other and spied on each other. Liverpool was the major port to export items to the Civil War e.g. cloth, lead ingots, copper and guns.

Items going to the North could be shipped easily, but items going to the South either had to go to Bermuda (for onward transmission by a blockade runner) or smuggled aboard after the ship had left port. This was done by the ship in question dropping anchor in the shipping lanes down the coast, and the 'contraband' items were rowed out to the boats often from Formby Shore. Enfield rifles came in bundles of six, wrapped in hessian. The British took much interest in the ACW, and factions supported each of the sides. (Please note the notice from the Times of 7th October 1864 about the Bazaar, held in St. Georges Hall, Liverpool to raise money as a relief fund for Confederate prisoners of war).

THE TIMES, Friday 7th October 1864

Lady Patronesses

H. I. H. the Princess Murat
The Marchioness Of Lothian
The Marchioness of Bath
The Marchioness of Allesbury
La Marquise de Montmort
The Countess of Chesterfield
The Countess of Tankerville
Lady Mildred Beresford Hope
Lady Rosa Greville
The Countess Bentivoglio
Lady Georgina Fane
Lady Eustace Cecil
Lady Warncliffe
La Vicomtesse de Dampierre
La Baronne de Langueil
Lady de Hoghton
Lady Anson
Lady Eardly
Mrs Horsefall, Liverpool
Mrs Laird, Birkenhead
Mrs Akroyd, Halifax
Mrs Collie, London
Mrs Hannan, Glasgow

It is intended to hold a BAZAAR in St. Georges Hall, commencing on Tuesday, October 18, in aid of the Southern Prisoners' Relief Fund.

Many ladies, in addition to those named, have promised their active aid. The suffering of the Southern prisoners of war in sickness, wounds, and deprivation of every comfort of life; the multitudes of widows to whom nothing remains,

and of orphans unable to help themselves, form an amount of woe which some who are blessed here with an abundance and peace have felt a desire to alleviate. Efforts have already been made, and not without success, through reliable friends in the Northern States, but unhappily the field is wide that aid is now required to replace the means already provided and exhausted. It is hoped that assistance will not be refused in this work, which is wholly one of humanity - of sympathy for the great sorrows and suffering that now afflict a people of our own race.

The stalls of the Southern States will be held by the following ladies:

Virginia: La Vicomtesse de Dampierre. Mrs.Patterson. Mrs M. G. Klingender
N. Carolina: Mrs. Spence. Mrs Wothington.
S. Carolina: The Lady Warncliffe. Mrs. Prioleau
Georgia: Mrs Bulloch. Mrs Patrick
Alabama: Mrs Malcomson. Mrs. Pratt.
Mississippi: The Countess of Chesterfield. The Right Hon. Mrs Sliddell.
Louisianna: Mrs. Byrne. Mrs. T. Byrne. Mrs. F.Rodewald.
Texas: Mrs. A. Forwood. Mrs. W. Forwood. Mrs. W. Heyn.
Arkansas: Mrs. Sillem. Mrs. J. Wilklink.
Tennessee: The Lady M. Beresford Hope. Mrs. F. Hull.
Kentucky: Lady de Hoghton. Mrs. G. W. Oliver.

Hon.Sec.: JAMES SPENCE Liverpool

Liverpool, August 24, 1864

Did you know the last act of the American Civil War took place in Liverpool Harbour? The Shenandoah was built in Birkenhead as a Confederate raider. Its Captain was James Waddell. In 1865 he was sinking US Whalers off Alaska when one of the captured Captains showed him a newspaper which reported General Lee's surrender. Realising the war was over, but not keen to return to America, for fear that he and his crew would be hung for piracy, he sailed his war ship down the Pacific, around South America and up the Atlantic, back to her 'home port' of Liverpool. They docked, the Confederate battle ensign was lowered for the last time, and the crew disappeared into the cheering crowds on Liverpool dockside. Twenty minutes later (tactfully!) the Police turned up to arrest them, but finding nobody, the ship was confiscated - later to be sold to the Sultan of Zanzibar. This happened on November the 6th 1865, seven months after the Civil War on the North American mainland had ended.

Submitted by Philip Clark, 19th Indiana

The above article first appeared in the ACWS Newsletter, Summer 2010.