LIVERPOOL, September 16, 1864.
Hon. S. R. MALLORY,
Secretary of the Navy.
SIR: On the first instant I had the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your dispatches of July 18, No. 1 and No. 2, and July 30 last, containing important suggestions and instructions, and I shall now report somewhat more in detail the steps taken to carry out your views. The loss of the Alabama occurred just at a time when the financial condition of the Navy Department began to improve, and as you have been already informed I took immediate steps to look up a successor. I have now the satisfaction to inform you of the purchase of a fine composite ship, built for the Bombay trade, and just returned from her first voyage. She is 1,160 tons builder's measurement, classed A-l, for 14 years at Lloyd's; frames, beams, etc., of iron, but planked from keel to gunwale with East Indian teak. She is full rigged as a ship, with rolling topsails, has plenty of accommodation for officers of all grades, and 'tween decks 7 feet 6 inches high, with large air ports, having been fitted under Government inspection for the transport of troops. Her engines are direct acting, with two cylinders 47 inches in diameter and 2 feet 9 inches stroke, with ample grate and heating surface in the boilers, nominal horsepower 220, but indicating 85 horsepower, and has a lifting, screw. My broker has had her carefully examined by one of Lloyd's inspectors, who pronounced her a capital ship in every respect and from whose report I extract the above items. Yesterday she went into a graving dock to have her bottom examined and the screw shaft carefully inspected, and the report on both these points is favorable. The log of the ship shows her to be a fast sailer under canvas, for with screw up she has made 330 miles in 24 hours by observation. You will be gratified to learn this good fortune in finding a ship so admirably suited to our purpose, and I will only now assure you that no effort will be spared and no precaution neglected which may tend to get her speedily under our flag. You may rely upon it that the purchase of men-of-war from any of the European navies is not practicable under existing circumstances. The transaction would necessarily be managed through intermediaries who from the very nature of the negotiations would be forced to sacrifice principle, and then all sorts of bribery must be indulged in, which costs much money, and after all we should only get cast-off vessels. I make these remarks as the result of experience, for I have treated with many persons on the subject and know wherein they are all wanting. At present, however, there is an insuperable difficulty in the fact that Great Britain and France have both forbidden vessels constructed as ships of war to be cleared as the property of private individuals. Of necessity, then, we must be content with such merchant ships as can be most readily adapted to purely naval purposes, and if the officers appointed to command such vessels are forced, by reason of inferior power, to shun engagements with the enemy's regular cruisers, there is ample field for the display of judgment and dash in cutting up his commerce, destroying his transports, and laying toll upon the exposed villages along the coast of New England, among the number of which may be mentioned New Bedford, Holmes' Hole, and Edgartown, in the Vineyard Sound, and Provincetown at the back of Cape Cod, each of which is very accessible, and up to the latest information I have been able to obtain they are helpless against attack. You will, of course, understand, that every ship when purchased must change owners in a manner prescribed by law, and she can not sail without a prescribed form of clearance at the custom-house. There must be an ostensible owner to make the necessary declarations for taking out the register, and he must be a British subject. Herein lies one of the most serious difficulties to be encountered in any and every effort to get a ship for subsequent transfer to the Confederate States. Such is the fear of offending against the foreign enlistment act inspired by the Government, that it is very difficult to get any one, fit for the trust, to come forward as the owner of a vessel under such circumstances, and it is only within a day or two I have been able to find a gentleman to act this part for me, and now only upon the assurance that the ship shall not fire a gun until the register has been sent back to England to be canceled. The difficulty of enlisting men you will appreciate without especial intimation. Every possible effort will be made to overcome all obstacles, and if the ship gets safely out she will be called the Shenandoah, and will have an armament of four 55-hundred-weight 8-inch shell guns, and two 32-pounder Whitworth rifled guns. I propose to put as much coal on board as can be carried, leaving only space for provisions, thus enabling her to keep the sea for a long time. The result of this undertaking shall be promptly reported, and it shall be repeated whenever practicable.
In reference to a steamer to supply the place of the Coquette, I think the large number of such vessels building for the Government renders a special purchase at this time unnecessary. In my dispatch of the 15th instant, you will find full particulars on this subject, yet it may be well for me to add that when I undertook the construction of blockade runners under General McRae's financial arrangements with Messrs. Fraser, Trenholm & Co., it was understood that two of the lot might be taken by you for the special service of the Navy Department, if required.
The six torpedo boats, ordered in your dispatch of July 18, No. 2, have been put in the hands of the builder. These will be built on the lines furnished by Mr. Graves, and there will be no alterations except to strengthen the stem and to change slightly the rake of the stern to suit the material (iron) of which they must be built. I have had a model made upon Mr. Graves' designs, and have had the displacement calculated for the three water lines shown on the sketch, which will be as follows: First water line on 1 foot=1.5 tons; 2-feet line=5.37 tons; 3-feet line=10.6 tons. The weight of the boat, if of steel, including boiler, water in boiler, engine's, screws, and shafts complete, crew, say, 5 men, and coal for 24 hours, will be 9.18 tons, so that they will just carry the necessary weights on the given draft of water; but, owing to the exceeding sharpness of the lines and shortness of floor, the boiler, will of necessity be rather small for the engines recommended by Chief Engineer Williamson in his letter of July 19. The remaining three boats will be kept nearly to Mr. Graves' design, only having increased length of floors so as to accommodate larger boilers; draft and other qualities remaining the same. The two twin-screw steamers, for the-port of Wilmington, alluded to in your dispatch of July 30, are also in the builders' hands. I found some difficulty in getting the order taken, the principal builders being much pressed with work, but have contracted on the 14th instant with a leading Scotch firm for both the boats, each to be of the following general description:
Length, 170 feet; breadth, 25 feet; depth, 12 feet 6 inches; tonnage, 515 tons; engines, two pair of 120-horsepower collective. They will be very strongly built, with heavy decks and beams, so as to carry a gun at each end, of from 5 to 6 tons weight, and the internal and deck arrangements will be such as to suit them for gun vessels, and yet not to excite suspicion. They will be designed for a speed of 12 knots on a draft of 7 feet 6 inches aft, but can be loaded to 8 feet 6 inches with safety as seagoing boats. The price of each boat, complete for sea, with the exception of coal and stores, will be £17,500. One to be delivered on January 1, 1865, and the other six weeks later. I will send further particulars and drawings when plans in detail are finally adopted.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JAMES D. BULLOCH.
(interesting secret service instructions)
LIVERPOOL, October 6, 1864.
First Lieutenant WILLIAM C. WHITTLE, C. S. Navy.
SIR: You will proceed to London by the 5 o'clock p.m. train this afternoon and go to Wood's Hotel, Furnival's Inn, High Holborn. Take a room there and give your name as Mr. W. C. Brown if asked. It has been arranged for you to be in the coffee room of the hotel at 11 o'clock a.m. precisely to-morrow, and that you will sit in a prominent position, with a white pocket handkerchief rove through a buttonhole of your coat, and a newspaper in your hand. In this attitude you will be recognized by Mr. Richard Wright, who will call at the appointed hour and ask you if your name is Brown. You may say yes, and ask his name; he will give it, and you will then retire with him to your room, hand him the enclosed letter of introduction, and then, throwing off all further disguise, discuss freely the business in hand. Mr. Wright will introduce you to Captain Corbett, with whom you are to take passage to Madeira, and you will arrange with him how to get on board without attracting notice.
Say to Captain Corbett that I regret not seeing him, but it has been thought best for me not to go to London, as I am so well known there; and tell him that I have full confidence in his desire to serve us, and will be happy to make the warmest acknowledgments when he returns. Say that I desire him to convey you to Madeira in accordance with the programme laid down in my letter to Lieutenant Commanding Waddell, dated October 5, 1864, a copy of which you have; and request him, when he appears off Funchal, to hoist instead of his own number that of the Laurel, the tender or supply ship he is to meet there. The Laurel will reply by hoisting her own official number also, and then both ships will proceed as in my letter of the 5th instant to Lieutenant Commanding Waddell. It is important that the Sea King should not be reported, and you will request Captain Corbett not to exchange signals with passing ships, or at any rate not to show his real number. The object of your going out in the Sea King is to acquaint yourself with her sailing and other qualities and to observe the dispositions of the crew. You can also inspect the internal arrangements, and discuss with Captain Corbett the necessary alterations, and you can learn the stowage of the provisions and other stores, and even pick out the best position for the magazine and shell rooms. Perhaps the construction of these might be actually begun under the superintendence of Captain Corbett. You will bear in mind that until regularly transferred Captain Corbett is the legal commander of the Sea King, and for obvious reasons of policy, as well as from courtesy, you will express all your wishes in the form of requests. When you reach Madeira and the Laurel joins company, you will report to Lieutenant Commanding Waddell, and thereafter act under his instructions. Relying upon your discretion and judgment, and earnestly wishing you a successful voyage,
I am, respectfully, your obedient servant,
JAMES D. BULLOCH.
LIVERPOOL, October 8, 1864.
Lieutenant Commanding J. F. RAMSAY, C. S. Navy.
SIR: You will proceed to sea this afternoon in command of the S. S. Laurel and convey Lieutenant Commanding James I. Waddell and his staff of officers, and the other passengers of whom you have been advised, to Funchal, in the island of Madeira, with speedy dispatch. At Funchal you will hasten to take on board as large a supply of coal as you may consider safe, bearing in mind that you may nave to steam for 20 days. The Sea King, Captain Corbett, has sailed from London this morning, and her commander has been instructed to time his passage so as not to arrive off Funchal until the 17th instant, by which time it is hoped you will have coaled up and will be ready to weigh at a moment's notice. The Sea King will not anchor at Funchal, but will simply appear off the roadstead, and by way of designation will hoist the official number of the Laurel, which you will answer with the same number, and then weigh and join her as promptly and quickly as possible. In communicating with the Sea King you will be governed by the directions of Lieutenant Commanding Waddell, and you will render him all the assistance in your power in transferring the supplies from the Laurel to the Sea King and if the transfer can not be accomplished at Madeira, by reason of stress of weather or from any other cause, you will, under his directions, proceed to another rendezvous at the Caicas Islands. Your experience as a seaman and your acquaintance with business will enable you to assist very materially in making the transfer of stores and in treating with the men for entry into the service of the Confederate States, and your zeal and interest in the success of the expedition are confidently relied upon. When the transfer is completed and Lieutenant Commanding Waddell can dispense with your further services, you will proceed to Nassau, New Providence, observing great precaution in approaching Eleuthera from the northeast. You might sight the island from your masthead during the day, but it would be safer to lie off to the eastward and time your movements so as to make the land after dark, and run down close to the bank, arriving off Nassau by daylight. If you make the transfer at Caicas, your plan would be to run up through Exuma Sound and enter Nassau by the ship channel leading from southward and eastward. Approaching from either direction, you will take a pilot. As soon as you arrive at Nassau you will communicate with Mr. L. Heyliger and show him this letter, which will serve as an introduction. Mr. Heyliger will be able to give you the latest news from the Confederate States, and you will consult freely with him as to the propriety of taking your ship in. If you are satisfied with the speed of the ship, take her in by all means, as a voyage through the blockade would establish a new character for her and would obliterate all trace of her past history, inasmuch as her name could be changed, and her nationality also, while in a Confederate States port. This matter, however, I must of necessity leave to your discretion.
Should you reach a Confederate States port report yourself at once by letter to the Secretary of the Navy, and as my report of your voyage may not have reached the department, send him a copy of this letter. Say to the honorable Secretary of the Navy that I respectfully request him to send you out as soon as possible to take command of one of the Government blockade runners now approaching completion. If, after consultation with Mr. Heyliger, it is thought best not to attempt the voyage in, load with Government cotton and return to Liverpool or Havre, as you may hereafter be advised. For coal and other expenses at Madeira you will draw on Mr. Henry Lafone, but at Nassau do all your business through Mr. Heyliger and request him to draw on me for your disbursements. Do not let yourself be known as a Confederate States officer, except to Mr. Heyliger, and at Madeira allow no communication with the shore, except through yourself, and do not show your number to any passing ships. I wish all the men who join the Confederate States service to sign "quit claims" for both the Sea King and Laurel, for an expressed consideration, and you will advise Lieutenant Commanding Waddell how this is to be done. Write me fully from Nassau under cover to M.P. Robertson, Esq.
I am, respectfully, your obedient servant,
JAMES D. BULLOCH.
LIVERPOOL, October 20, 1864.
Hon. S. R. MALLORY,
Secretary of the Navy.
SIR: I have the great satisfaction of reporting the safe departure on the 8th instant of the ship described in my dispatch of September 16, and now that the entire expedition is far away at sea, beyond the reach of interference on the part of any United States authority in Europe, I may venture to furnish detailed information.
The cruising ship was formerly the Sea King, the very vessel it appears that Lieutenant Carter suggested to you in Richmond, and it is an interesting coincidence that while you were discussing her merits and fitness for conversion into a cruiser I was negotiating for her purchase at this distance from you. The tender or supply vessel is the screw steamer Laurel, which I was compelled to purchase for the special purpose. She is a fine, fast vessel, and if Lieutenant Ramsay gets her into Wilmington you will find her most useful.
I enclose herewith my letters of instructions to Lieutenant Commanding Waddell, Lieutenant Ramsay, and Lieutenant Whittle,(*) and also a list of the officers. The letters above referred to will inform you with sufficient minuteness how the two vessels were dispatched, and I need only say that the arrangements combined most favorably and that the two vessels sailed--the Sea King from London and the Laurel from Liverpool--within a few hours of each other. I heard from the Sea King off Deal; everything was in fine condition and she was making 12½ knots under steam and fore and aft sails. Lieutenant Ramsay sent me a line or two from the pilot station off Holyhead, to say that not a single package had been left, and that the Laurel, though deep with coal, had averaged over 11 knots since leaving the Mersey.
The battery for the Sea King consists of four 55-hundredweight, 8-inch, smooth-bore guns, and two Whitworth 32-pounders, besides which she has two light 12-pounders. Ample supplies of ammunition, small arms, and clothing have been provided, all of which are on board the Laurel, and the Sea King has sailed with 800 tons of coal, and is well provisioned and found in every respect. I have given Lieutenant Commanding Waddell £2,000 in gold; £2,000 in marginal credits drawn by the Bank of Liverpool, subject to his order, in sum of £100 and £200; and letter of credit from Messrs. Fraser, Trenholm & Co. for £1,000, good for one year, which he can use at Sydney or Melbourne. In spite of every precaution the Federal spies discovered that something was in progress and Mr. Adams had the U.S. ships Niagara and Sacramento cruising off the mouth of the Thames, but they failed to identify our ship. However, a few days after the departure of the Sea King they captured a peaceful and unsuspecting Spanish steamer that had just left the Thames, and after keeping her in custody for a day or two one of the men-of-war ran into Newhaven, or one of the southern ports; telegrams were exchanged with Mr. Adams, and it is said that by his order the Spaniard was released. The British Government will scarcely give our public ships common shelter, and we can not send an unarmed vessel in the direction of North America without embarrassing and annoying enquiries from the customs and board of trade officials. Yet United States ships of war are permitted to lie in English ports and watch British ships, as in the case of the Georgia, previously reported, and are allowed to cruise and make captures of neutral ships off the largest port of the kingdom and in waters which were once considered exclusively British.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JAMES D. BULLOCH.
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