Story: Episode 198 November 1862 Goodbye Liverpool
The crews of the Liberty and Defiance were getting settled on board and running drills ordered by “former” Captains McDavid and McFarland who were being paid by Laird to make observations on the performance of the Rams.
Euan and William made their good-by’s at Allerton and found their bunks on board the Defiance. Both were excited and apprehensive. William laughed when he soon found out his purpose.
“You are the representative of the Company, Mr. Kensington,” explained McDavid. “I am now a civilian, here to observe and, naturally, offer you assistance should you require it.”
And he winked. “If there is trouble, you are in change, not me, not McFarland.”
William had to chuckle. “Well, let’s not have any trouble,” he said, “but when we do, please be close! And we leave soon?”
“Ah, ……… , we await Mr. Trenholm’s orders.” And then he looked around as a man came onto the deck. “Now here is Mr. Biggins, a worthy Scotsman!” exclaimed McDavid.
He was somewhat large, strong looking man, not tall. He nodded and nearly crushed William’s hand. He then saluted.
“Biggins will be ready to take care of any of your needs,” MeDavid added.
A baby sitter or valet or…..? William wondered. The two men sized each other up, and when Biggins grinned, William felt comfortable.
Lairds Shipyard on the Mercy
On Friday, the 14th, George, Charles and all their supporters came down to the ship to say good-by. Music. Cheers. It seemed to happen quickly. The ships slipped away and anchored about a mile down the shore.
George let the papers know they were headed South. Henry Adams immediately realized this meant they were going North, and so the Tuscarora steamed up and headed out to sea on the western side of Ireland up towards the North Channel, and once that was confirmed, on the night of Sunday, November 16, 1862, the two Rams steamed South towards the Azores. They were not intercepted.
Both Euan and William could hardly believe the rolling they felt once out at sea, and they retired to their bunks with buckets to await their sea legs. However, the observers were satisfied with the ships on the open sea even with the rather flat bottoms that had concerned some in the Admiralty, and steering was adequate if not excellent.
However, it was clear the ships would not be able to maneuver quickly in the close quarters of a narrow channel. The fighting would be concerned as much with position and the openness of the battlefield as with gunnery. But McDavid had known this.
She knew it might happen and it did.
On Monday, the 17th, Henry came into her office and explained he would have to go to London on Wednesday and she would accompany him. She did her best to smile and felt the panic rise. Her ship left on Wednesday.
That evening she packed all her belongings and sent a note to Mr. Peters to pick up her trunks. And she had cleverly thought through her predicament, so when when she arrived at the Office of the Consul on Tuesday, she had the cramps, terrible cramps.
“Oh, Henry, I just cannot travel tomorrow!” she moaned.
He looked concerned. “Sick?”
“Ah….,” she blinked…., “it is that time of the month, ………….you know………… I can’t travel,” and she looked down modestly at the floor.
“What?” He gazed with wonder.
She realized that he probably had never considered the monthly cramps of a woman.
“Oh, Henry, I can’t explain,” she said softly. “You must simply ask your mother when you get to London. She’ll tell you. But,” and she grimaced, “it can be painful. I really must go to bed.”
And she left the office leaving him wondering what it was all about. Woman things were mysterious.
That evening she wrote a brief letter:
Dear Henry, it is just too dangerous for us both……..being so close…..I simply must protect you from temptation……so….for now…goodby,
your devoted Amelia
She left it on his desk in the morning. When he returned on Saturday, Henry read this over and over. He smiled with pleasure. He knew it! She was falling in love with him! His heart swelled, and then he realized that she was right. He was an Adams. He would tell his father that she resigned to work elsewhere. And he set about interviewing new secretaries living in Liverpool. He picked a nice young man. That would be safest, he mused. And yet Amelia had said, “for now”, so he wondered if and when she would return. He secretly hoped she would not. It would be embarrassing.
On the late afternoon of that Wednesday, the 19th, Amelia met her cousin and her new lady’s maid, a plump young woman named Terrance, down at the dock.
She felt rather frumpy in her mourning dress, but Mr. Peters told her it was perfect, and he showed her a fashion design that she could wear in Havana which was much more stylish.
“And Miss Amelia…..ah….I mean, Mrs. James, the pearls will look lovely against black, don’t you think?”
He patted his pocket, and holding her cousin’s arm, she walked onboard with true dignity, her maid just behind. When the whistle blew and the ship surged forward, Amelia realized she was indeed the happiest she had ever been in her life.
George and Charles went over the plans twenty times. George would try to have the State of South Carolina engage them to open the blockade and then it would be a matter of forming the convoys to bring cotton to Liverpool. Their size would allow them to take more and better equipment to the State for resale to the Confederacy. Charleston would be a trading hub while the rest of the competition was mired by the blockade.
He had already written to Governor Pickens and former Governors Gist and Allston. His partners were loading the Fraser, Trenholm & Co. warehouses in Charleston with cotton for their account, and he urged Pickens to have the State buy as much as possible from the Carolina and Georgia producers.
On Saturday, November the 22nd, having waved good-by to his Rams, George boarded a freighter for Bermuda where he would meet the Kate for a run to Wilmington. Then heading seen the coast, he would stop to see Gov. Allston on the Waccamaw on his way to Charleston.
The Runner Kate owned by Fraser, Trenholm & Co.
He was excited and very happy to be headed home and moving forward with his dream of making South Carolina the premier state for free trade. He also penned letters to Judah Benjamin, then acting as the Secretary of State of the Confederacy, to his friend Treasury Secretary Memminger and to the Secretary of the Navy, Mallory, giving them his plans and requesting cooperation. Again, he advised them to buy cotton for the account of the Government and start sending it to Charleston.
London, Scotland Yard The Dudley Case on Ice
Scene: There were three men in the office talking animatedly. The day was warm for the end of November and no fire was lit.
Mr. Gager was fuming. But Mackintosh now just kept silent.
“Why?” Gager asked again.
Bunfit pulled at his collar. He had planned to return to Benton Village and had begun to like it there.
“That’s all gentlemen,” declared Mackintosh. “It’s on ice for now. We will await further clues. The murderer will show up.”
“They always do,” he concluded, and walked out of the room.
The next Monday, Mackintosh came in with Sir John Overland.
“A private word, please, Mr. Gager, Mr. Bunfit.” They went into a quiet office.
Gager and Bunfit were puzzled as they noticed that Overland and Mackintosh were beaming at them. What now?
Sir John said, “We will have a little ceremony, gentlemen. The Dudley Case has been of immense benefit to our nation and while it is being put quiet for now, the excellent job you have done has been well noted.”
They looked at him pulling some boxes out of his bag.
“First, please step up Mr. Gagger. You have shown fine initiative and put in more hours than required. Good foot work. You have been promoted to Inspector.”
Gager almost fell.
“Here is your commission and new badge.”
He was speechless as he felt the joy spread through his whole body.
Overland then turned to Bunfit.
“Next, Mr. Bunfit you are no longer Constable Bunfit, but Sergeant Bunfit! Congratulations. Here are your stripes.”
Bunfit was grinning. “Thank you, Sir.”
“And,” continued Sir John, “your brilliant and very discreet Inspector Mackintosh has been promoted and will receive a pension at the rank of Colonel as of the end of the year! May he enjoy Dorset with a full glass and good mutton!”
Mackintosh bowed with a smile.
“So gentlemen……….” began Sir John.
“Please always remember that criminal cases may involve serious national interests, and you know that I am available at the Foreign Office to discuss any matter…….any matter at all…….which involves a foreign country.”
He looked at Inspector Gager who was nodding vigorously.
“Help us, and we will help you,” Sir John concluded, and took his leave.
Lord Geoffrey is Optimistic
Lord Geoffrey had been working diligently on the Queen’s Committee which was conflicted by Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation and by the report of the President’s meeting with freed slaves from the District of Columbia:
“You and we are different races. We have between us a broader difference than exists between almost any other two races. Whether it is right or wrong I need not discuss, but this physical difference is a great disadvantage to us both, as I think your race suffers very greatly, many of them by living among us, while ours suffer from your presence…. It is better for us both, therefore, to be separated.” — Abraham Lincoln, speech to a group of black freedmen in Washington D.C., August 1862
Geoffrey asserted that even if the Emancipation announcement seemed wishful thinking, it at least was thinking in the right direction, and it showed what Lincoln would propose if the North won the War. Surely, the Northern Slave states would have to comply also. Thus, to his thinking, it was a masterful stroke. Finally, the War had a moral meaning.
Others felt it was mere opportunism and an ugly attempt to cause a slave uprising, which they condemned.
As to the meeting with freed slaves, most of the Committee agreed that colonization was the best for all, but some were annoyed at the idea that freed slaves could cause the white population to suffer.
“Imagine! The poor slaves have been suffering for generations, and he is worried about the whites suffering!” stuttered one Duchess indignantly.
The Duke and the Admiralty
A week before the Rams departed, the new Duke of Summerton found himself appointed by his Grace, the 12th Duke of Somerset, Lord Seymour, to the committee for the analysis of Iron Clad Designs.
James met with Captain McDavid to review the best strategies for the use of the Rams.
“Well, Captain McDavid, come in, come in,” said Lord James amiably. “You have your resignation, I suppose.”
Lord James winked, “Need a bit more action than you get behind your desk, I suppose?”
“And here is our acceptance.” He pulled out a formal notice. “You’ll see you have been promoted and will receive a pension based on that…. to your family every month.”
“Thank you, Sir, and will Captain Coles be joining us, your Grace?”
“Cowper Phipps Coles? He is too renowned I’m afraid. Just as you will be after this venture.”
McDavid laughed. “Trenholm wanted him, you know. He wants to take Coles to Port Royal harbor to design some floating batteries.”
“But that’s DuPont’s Command Port!” laughed Lord James.
“Yes, Sir. But Mr. Trenholm says the Federals will abandon it soon, and for him, not only is there no question of success at Charleston, but the Yankees will soon be swept from The Republic of South Carolina.”
They laughed together. “Oh, the joy of being an optimist!” exclaimed Lord James.
“Yes, Sir. He actually refuses to recognize the Confederacy as anything more than a temporary nuisance.”
“Well, God bless him, McDavid. But let’s talk a bit about the risks. You say Lockwood will join you?”
“Yes, Sir and act as senior pilot. At Havana, we will meet three or four others who have the latest information on the harbor and the opposition at Port Royal and Charleston.”
“You will never surprise them.”
“I agree. Impossible.”
“They will mass.”
“How do you believe they might defeat our Ram?”
“Well, ram it. Or with overwhelming firepower.”
“Or a lucky shot.”
That didn’t worry him much.
“Run it aground; then pound it apart.”
McDavid continued. “Captain Lockwood was in Liverpool last month, and we have been conducting war games, Sir. He gave me the Ram and beat me twice.”
“Really?” Lord James suddenly looked worried.
“Yes, Sir. First, I came near his bait, and he exploded a huge fixed bomb under me. Blew me apart. Fired it off by telegraph signal or something from the shore. Anchored under water, you see.”
“Good Lord, such things exist!?”
“Yes, they do. Torpedoes.”
He could see Lord James mind churning for a defense. McDavid laughed. “I’m working on it, Sir. Second bottom. More compartments. More iron plates. But that will slow it down even more. Better just to use a variety of vessels, Sir. I’ll explain in a minute.”
“Then how did he beat you next?”
“Very clever, Sir. Very old fashioned. He had four wooden men of war in a line against me. The fire power was huge, so I decided to point my bow into the fire and go full speed at the second in line to ram it.”
James face lit up. He could see it. “Excellent.”
“Yes, due to my speed most of the shots landed behind me and the angle was too hard for the first, third and fourth to do much damage, so it worked like a dream.”
“Well, we rammed her and were stuck for a moment. So then an enemy ship came up and rammed me. Couldn’t sink us, Sir. Just messed up its own bow. But it gave us a knock and suddenly there came a flurry of grappling hooks and they seized hold. Then Ship One and Four came in for support. They swarmed us like pirates and we couldn’t break lose. So I surrendered to Lockwood. It was going to be cutlasses and pistols on the deck.”
“Ha.” Lord James sat back. “Fascinating. You and Lockwood keep it up. Now what did we learn?”
“Well, Sir. The Ram is designed for a limited purpose. It cannot take on land fortifications which have powerful canon. It cannot take a beating all day and night even from ships. So avoid overwhelming firepower.”
The Duke nodded.
“We’ll have to design a different class for that. Something like the Warrior but with better armor.”
James nodded. The fort buster…
“Next,” continued McDavid, “if you can be trapped by numbers, avoid action or at least stay far away. I should never have gone in to ram the second of Four Ships. I sunk one and lost my ship.”
Lord James nodded again.
“Also, never, never trust your draft so much you risk grounding. These ships are not runners!”
“Furthermore, with the new underwater bombs, stay away from shore. If a ship looks too easy, it is probably bait. Channels will be covered with these things soon. We must design heavily armoured and multi-compartmented vessels to go slowly into such waters.”
“You can use shallower draft of a Ram to escape from a Gloire or a Warrior. Maybe also for attack, to avoid the main channel with bombs. But cautiously.”
James was taking notes now.
“Best stay outside the bar and lure them out to fight in the deep water even thought at first that seems to favor them. We still could have better steering. But of course, our next designs can improve on this. We also should be faster.”
“So we have to be bold….and conservative, all at once. Try trading some fire. We are carrying the same cannon as the Warrior. These guns are the best in the world ..…at least the British Navy thinks so…. Pick them off, one at a time. Or if you must, ram them.”
James was nodding and McDavid continued,
“I think we could break a line by driving between and using our cannon at close range, against wood or iron clads, pivoting the turrets. The American iron clads will be even slower than we are. Trenholm has received that information. They don’t have the engines for speed.”
“That is my next strategy with Lockwood. We’ll see what he does. He’ll have the Monitor class iron-clads. Very low in the water. Hard to ram. Hard to break the armour.”
Each man was quiet for a few minutes.
“Come take a walk with me, McDavid. We have to understand who will be making combat decisions.”
Outside the office, the noise and traffic were almost overwhelming and they made their way to the Park.
“What kind of man can best use this ship?”
“Well, Sir, most sailors have never been on a ship which used a ram. They slug it out in line if possible. The bold get in closer and take the punishment and hope for some luck, a rudder or an ammunition magazine. Just to go into the hot fire to ram may be difficult. No one wants to be the one to lose the ship.”
“So, he must be bold.”
“Or a bit crazy. Just not care. About the ship or his life. Or his men.”
“Is that good?”
“Not for me.”
“So we really have a combat problem,” mumbled the Duke.
“Can’t be avoided, Sir. Hopefully, we’ll ease into our experience and take advantage of enemy mistakes. They will be off balance too. Never faced anything like this.”
“Ah,” said James almost wistfully, “it will be tremendously interesting.”
“Yes, my Lord. It will,” answered McDavid, and the men parted.
Consul Dudley’s Fate
Consul Dudley made his way to Spain from Barcelona, and after a month in Madrid, decided he rather liked it. He was in no hurry to return to the “confusion” as he called it, but would carefully write up his side of the story, and after all, no one had any idea about his secret fund. He deserved it, he concluded, for the slander of his name. After the war, he’d settle scores.
The Financiers Reflect
Russell Sturgis and Thomas Baring learned about the Fraser, Trenholm cotton sale almost as quickly as it happened, and they were glad they had befriended Trenholm. He would remember them in the future. If only the war would end they could get back to business in the United States, whether it became two nations or remained one. They hoped Trenholm could open a port. That would speed the end of the War and surely lead to peace negotiations.
Mary? Ah, Mary. Perhaps we will learn later about her Continental adventures.
The Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary
Lord Russell and Lord Palmerston kept firm control on the Government and Parliament that winter. There was now a consensus about waiting for another 6 months or so before agitating on the American question once more.
Lord Argyll was finding it difficult to persuade Parliament to change the Foreign Enlistment Act of 1819 to better suit the United States.
So Dear Reader, at the end of November, 1862, that was the situation for all our friends, South and North. The escape of the Rams was duly reported to Washington, and a mood of curiosity and concern spread through the United States Navy. Navy Secretary Gideon Welles was sure that they could build the same ship if they could get their hands on one, and anyway, it wasn’t clear that the Ram could defeat a Monitor with its low silhouette. The Ram had much more exposed to cannon fire. Ericsson had explained the value of a sea-going iron clad, but he insisted that larger guns could pound the Ram apart.
All and all, the various parties to this story agreed that it would be best to keep the murder speculations and the stolen dispatches quiet. Forget them, in fact. Thus, it is difficult to find these matters in the official records.
The extra troops landed in Canada and the United States was quiet about it.
YOU MAY BE INTERESTED IN AN
ARTICLE FROM TORONTO CANADA
Published November 16, 1862
The Toronto Leader
“Canada and the American War”
“The arrival of the Ariadne at Quebec, in connection with the dispatch of artillery from England and the rumored intention to concentrate ten thousand troops at Montreal, has set speculation at work to divine the cause of these movements. How far the alleged intention to concentrate troops at Montreal may be correct we are unaware; but supposing the fact to be incontestible, it can hardly be a cause of wonder. There is no necessity for seeking in such a step anything beyond a measure of obvious precaution. Montreal is not in itself the weakest point on the frontier; but its capture, in case of trouble, would deal the most effectual blow to the Province, by cutting off the only possible communication with the seaboard that would remain in a state of war. The concentration of ten thousand troops there would be no evidence of an apprehension of difficulty, but only proof of an anxiety on the part of the Imperial Government to guard one of the weak points of the Empire.
“With that ardent desire to preserve peace, which is the natural accompaniment of a just appreciation of the horrors of war, the British Government has from the first scrupulously maintained a position of rigid neutrality in the great and deplorable conflict which has deluged the soil of the neighboring Republic with blood. The Federal States, in a condition of irritability incident to the distressing phase through which the country is passing, have been ready to imagine that they were injured and insulted, when there was not the least ground for the pretence. The recognition of the South as belligerents, and the steps taken by England in the Trent imbroglio, were so inevitably the result of the situation, and so plainly in accord with the practice and the duty of nations that they could not possibly be made the ground of any valid objection on the part of the Federal States.
“But we know, as a matter of fact, that they were made the cause of great irritation against England. The great Powers of Europe seem to have respected, to some extent, the preternatural sensitiveness of the Northern States. But the arms of those States have not achieved anything which gives promise of a final reduction of the seceded States.
“The Richmond Government, in maintaining its position so successfully against the colossal armies of the North, has done much to earn the right of recognition by other Powers; an event which, unless some unexpected change in the progress of the contest speedily takes place, may be almost certain.
“This mode of proceeding is one which the great Powers would be very likely to pursue. But supposing it to fail, and the recognition of the South to follow, Mr. SEWARD has placed it on record that the Lincoln Cabinet would regard the act as a cause of war.
“Independently of the impossibility of one nation challenging the whole world to combat, there is reason to hope that, since the late elections have been so adverse to the Administration, more rational views will make themselves felt even at Washington.
“But it is necessary to be guarded at all points; and if, after all that has occurred in the recent elections, it were possible for the views of Mr. SEWARD about a casus belli to prevail, England would be regarded as the greatest offender, just because the Federals are more sensitive to its action than to that of any other power.
“Against all contingencies of this kind it is necessary to guard; and there is no part of the empire so open to attack as Canada.
“Besides, Capt. WILKES’ new exploits may once more endanger the peace of the world. Whatever is done, we may be sure that, so far as England is concerned, no just cause of offence will be given; but if we may judge by the past, Northern sensitiveness may make difficulty out of a totally inadequate cause.
“Complaint is often made in the vehicles of Northern opinion that Canada gives her sympathy to the South in this struggle, while the North is her near neighbor and customer.
“But, irrespective altogether of the merits of the contest, how could we wish success to those armies which, we have so often been told by the popular journals of the Federal States would, as soon as they had conquered the South, be sent into Canada?
“As a Province of England, Canada exercises no national functions which could bring her into collision with a foreign Power; and the journals which constantly threaten us with invasion tell us that we should be called upon to suffer vicariously, for the alleged sins of the parent State.
“There is nothing for which the Canadians are more anxious than the preservation of peace between the States and England. The first and heaviest stroke of war would fall on us. Our whole frontier would be a scene of carnage and blood. But we cannot control the elements out of which war may possibly arise; and as we could not be passive in the contest, we can only desire that the Province may be put in the best state of preparation to meet the most unwelcome of contingencies, while we ardently hope that it may not arrive.
“This is the spirit in which Canada looks on the matter; and it is not possible that she could regard it in any other light.”