UK Heritage

UK People in the Civil War

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by Maurice Rigby

 

Editorial note: This is the first of many (I hope) small vignettes of Britons who played a role in the American Civil War. Contributions are welcome from any source so get digging!

 

Webmaster adds: image is Owen Reynold's photo of Joe Hudson's prize-winning 'Blockade Runner'.

 

Arbuthnot Blain; was a cabinet maker at 35 Paradise Street, Liverpool, and had died at his residence 10, Wheathill Farm, Roby, Huyton, on June 23 1868 aged 72. Born in Donegal about 1796, his firm had furnished the cabins for the Alabama, the fittings and furniture being selected by James Dunwoody Bulloch. The firm of A Blain & son had been established in 1796 by his father, and that his son, William Hughes Blain had now carried on the business around 1864. William was a familiar figure in shipping circles, a portion of which supplied the ships, and the admiralty, with furnishings and upholstery. William Blain passed away at Croft House, Huyton, on February 25th 1909 and was buried in Huyton churchyard.

 

 


Dr James Richardson Ware MRCS LSA 1826 born in Yorkshire on August 3rd 1799, he tended to the wounded Alabama seamen brought in from the Deerhound when they were landed at Southampton and taken to the sailors home on Canute Road. He also tended to Captain Semmes, before giving up the position to Dr Wiblin. He died at his residence 27 Portland Street, Southampton, on July 25th 1879, and was interred at the Southampton old cemetery in section H56 grave 18 where a memorial marks his grave.

 

Dr John Wiblin FRCS.Eng 1849 & LRCP Ed 1859; a member of the Royal College of Surgeons, he was born in Windsor about 1814 and had tended to Raphael Semmes right hand which had sustained three small cuts to the posterior part of the metacarpal bones caused by a fragment of an exploding shell fired from the Kearsarge. It had caused Semmes great tumefaction up his arm, but Wiblin had noticed it had not entered the bones and therefore was not of a serious nature. Wiblin, who had by this time settled in Southampton, had been appointed sanitary surveyor to the board of trade, and medical superintendant of quarantine to the Royal Mail and Union line of steamers. He was also a keen fisherman. He too was buried in the Southampton old cemetery in section I (eye) 66 grave 50 and where a memorial marks his grave.

 

Robert Cless Kelway: born in Falmouth, Cornwall, on November 26th 1811, the son of Henry and Grace Kelway nee Bone, he was then the proprietor of Kelway's Hotel at 29 Queens Terrace, Southampton, in 1864, and later called the Oriental. He was also connected to the P & O line of steamers. After landing from the Deerhound at around 10 o'clock at night in Southampton, John Mcintosh Kell and Raphael Semmes walked to Kelway's Hotel, Kell in just his shirt sleeves and a pair of trousers and carpet slippers that had been loaned to him by the Deerhound's owner John Lancaster. The room given to them according to Kelway had recently been occupied by a prince. During their stay here they had been visited by Mr Mason, Captain Bulloch and the Reverend Tremlett, all of whom had arrived by the 4 o'clock train from London. On Tuesday June 21st, Colonel Charles Harris of Virginia had arrived from Bristol, and he also called on Semmes. While there the Deerhound's crew turned up and presented Colonel Harris with the life buoy that Semmes had clung to in the Channel. It was accompanied with a letter simply stating; "Southampton water on board the Deerhound -presented by Captain Evan Jones, of the steam yacht Deerhound, Royal Yacht Squadron, to Colonel Charles Hudson Harris, of New Orleans and Virginia, in memory of Captain Semmes being the same that saved the life of the said Captain Semmes, by me, Evan Jones, master steam yacht Deerhound, 21st June 1864". Colonel Harris acknowledged by bowing his head from the Hotel balcony as the Deerhound's crew gave three rousing cheers. The buoy has since been displayed at Weston Super Mare and at Bristol. Kelway had died at Queens Terrace on December 30 1870 and was also buried at the Southampton old cemetery in section H52 grave 41 and where a memorial marks his grave,

 

Frederick Milnes Edge: born in St John's Westminster, about 1830 and baptised at St Martin in the Fields on July 19th. He was the son of Thomas and Eleanor Edge, and in 1864 had written an account of the engagement between the Alabama and Kearsarge, information that had been supplied by the wounded seamen in the Hopital de la Marine, Cherbourg, the officers of the Kearsarge, and by the people of Cherbourg. A copy of his pamphlet was sent to surgeon Whelan in Washington D.C. by John M Browne the Kearsarge surgeon and which was fully endorsed by Captain John A Winslow of the Kearsarge in a letter to him dated July 13th 1864, Edge had died in the June quarter of 1882 aged 52 in London.

 

Hugh Hughes; who died on March 12 1937 aged 93 at his home 11 Anfield Road, Liverpool, is reported to have been one of the men who assisted in the making of the Alabama's sails during her construction. Hughes was buried in the Liverpool Anfield Cemetery in section 5 grave 578.

 

John De Costa; born in Liverpool about 1822, he resided at Claremont House, Liverpool, until he couldn't pay the mortgage. He described himself as a shipowner and shipping agent, but during the trial of the Alexandra the defence showed he was nothing more than a partner in a tug, the SS Emperor. He gave evidence that the shipowner William Miller knew that the Alexandra was being built for the Confederates. He was shown to have been married in the June quarter of 1877 and died in London during the December quarter of 1899 aged 78.

 

Thomas William Miller; born in Seacombe about 1835, the son of Henry and Margaret Miller. He was the master of the Liverpool tug Hercules which accompanied the 290 on her departure from the Mersey on July 29th 1862, just in case she was in need of the steam tug and only left her when she was at anchor a mile off the bell buoy and 14 miles from Canning Dock according to his affidavit dated August 1st 1862. He returned the next day with more seamen for the 290 and a number of articles for the ship. He found her moored in Moelfra Roads, Beaumaris Bay and stayed with her till midnight. He was buried in Wallasey Cemetery from his residence 45 Matthew Street, on July 27 1901 in section 5C grave 83.

 

Benjamin Nicholson; born in Gosport on May 30 1828 the son of John and Elizabeth Nicholson, was a master ship builder and J.P. for Gosport. He had received all the Alabama's chronometers once they had been landed at Southampton. Some time before the engagement with the Kearsarge, Brent Johnston, a seaman with the Alabama, had assisted in the unloading of all the chronometers from the Alabama to the yacht Hornet. After their arrival in Southampton they were eventually taken to London and sold. Nicholson had died at his residence at Stanley House, Gosport on August 8th 1906 and was buried in Gosport Cemetery grave 104 where a memorial marks his grave.

 

Samuel James Wiseman; Born in Southampton on January 31 1831, the son of John and Martha Wiseman, he had ran a photographic, fine art shop in Southampton at 9 Bernard Street in the 1860's. After a few days of landing in Southampton, Semmes, Kell and Wiblin called there to have their picture taken in the summer of 1864. That picture, now visible on Cowan's Auctions and Cowan's Historic Americana web page, had come up for auction in December 2007 with an estimate value of around $5000 to $7000. This picture was known but not widely published until John M Taylor's book "Confederate Raider" in 1994 showing the picture between pages 194-5. There is another rare picture of Semmes in the same format taken on his own at the same shop. In a letter dated July 29th 1864, and which appeared in the Liverpool Daily Post on August 1st, it concerned the above gentleman, and that he had the proof of it being a genuine picture and not a copy. There was also another portrait taken of Semmes at the gallery of Mr Stortz during this time, and when it was completed in August 1864 it was taken to the Southern Club. He died in Southampton on the 4th June 1914 aged 83 at his residence of Oakwood, on Furzedown Road. He was interred in section E30 grave 148 at the Southampton old cemetery in a marked grave.

 

Matthew Maguire; born in Dublin September 1815, he would eventually open a private detective enquiry office in Liverpool at 6 Doran's Lane after leaving the Liverpool police force, a position he held until his retirement in 1888. During the American Civil War he took great interest in the movements of James Dunwoody Bulloch and Confederate agents while abroad. He was described as having red hair receding, with great pork chop side burns, and yet honest to a degree according to the people who did business with him. He died at Dryden Villa, 11 Dryden Lane, on September 22nd 1896 aged 81, and was buried at Saint Anne's Churchyard, Edge Hill, Liverpool.

 

Samuel Michael Emanuel; Born in Portsea, Portsmouth about 1801, he had a number of jobs during his life, silversmith, pawnbroker and tailor. He had settled in Southampton early on in his career, but it was in 1864 that Kell and Semmes called at his tailoring and outfitting establishment at 145, the High Street for a new set of clothes. On June 20th, a reporter from the London News had accompanied both men to the tailor's shop, noting that Semmes wore an old naval officer's cap and an English naval lieutenant's jacket. The tailor invited Kell and Semmes to his private apartment to take in some wine and cake. However, after leaving the room for a few moments he quickly returned to inform both of his guests if they could return to their hotel, as their presence there was blocking the whole of the street, making business very difficult for the other shop keepers. Eventually, the police had to escort the two officers back to their hotel. Emanuel was Mayor of Southampton for two successive years, 1866 and 1867, sheriff of the county town in 1864, and at the time of his latter years had been the oldest magistrate in Hampshire. He died on the eve of Pentecost on June 9th 1894 aged 93 at his residence of 19, Cumberland Place, and was buried in the Southampton Cemetery in the Jewish section F40 grave 22 where a memorial marks his grave.

 

George Adams Bond; Born in Liverpool on February 20th 1825 the son of John and Ann Bond. He served briefly with James D Bulloch. Both had taken a trip to Moelfa Bay on the tug Hercules with more crewmen for the 290/Enrica and more articles for the ship. Bulloch knew Bond "all through the war years and afterwards, and spoke of him as performing his office of life with earnestness and zeal. He never complained of too much work or too little reward. He never asked an inquisitive question and if it was necessary to tell him something, he knew it wouldn't go further". Bond was connected to the pilot service at Liverpool until May 1864, when he was appointed master of Canning Dock. In May the following year he was removed to George's Dock, and then on to Princes Dock on January 16th 1868 until February 1872. On a rearrangement of the dock system, he became master of the Princes and Half Tide Dock, the East and West Waterloo Dock, Victoria Dock, and Princes Graving Dock. He died at his residence on June 10th 1877 aged 53, and was buried in Smithdown Road Cemetery in section F left grave 297.

 

Constant Bienaime Gosselin; French pilot who was born in Cherbourg on October 4th 1822, the son of Jean Denis and Marie Louise Jacqueline Gosselin nee Letellier. He was married to Marie Anne Roberts of Portsea, Hampshire, the daughter of James and Marie Anne Roberts. He was in command of the sloop Lutin in 1864, one of the pilot boats that had rescued the seamen from the Channel after the engagement between the Alabama and the Kearsarge. He was assisted by two other pilots that day, Antoine Mauger of the "deux jeunes soeurs" and assistant pilot Auguste Doucet. The French minister of marine awarded a gold medal of the 2nd class to Mauger, and silver medals to Gosselin and Doucet for their conduct in saving the lives of the Alabama's crew. Mauger also received 20 pounds sterling as a gift from two of the Alabama Lieutenants, Armstrong and Brooks, which he had saved, through the intermediary of the consul Amedee Bonfils. Gosselin died in Cherbourg in 1899, and was buried in Cherbourg Cemetery in section 14 grave 41. Doucet who was born in Fermanville in April 1823, died on July 19 1880 at Cherbourg. Mauger born in December 1828 at Ravenoville, Canton, de St Mere-Eglise, had died in January 1885.

 

Henry Adams; Seaman on the steam yacht Deerhound, was the son of the keeper of the Bidston Lighthouse, and formerly of the Point Lynas Station, James and Esther Adams. He had commanded one of the boats from the Deerhound in 1864, and was in the process of rescuing a group of seamen from the channel after the fight with the Kearsarge, when one of the men in the boat had cried out that there was a man wearing an officers cap. Semmes immediately shouted back "I am the captain, save me. For I cannot keep up any longer". Adams reached over and dragged Semmes into the boat. Adams promised Semmes that he wouldn't hand him over to the Kearsarge captain, and laid him down in the bottom of the boat covering him over with part of the sail to prevent the Kearsarge boats from discovering him. Adams died at his residence of 36, Stanley Street, Seacombe, on March 16 1909 aged 68, and was buried in Wallasey Cemetery and where a memorial marks his grave.

 

William Passmore; born in Crediton, Devon, on May 1st 1839, he was the son of William and Ann Passmore. He's described in his navy file as having a fair complexion, with light brown hair, blue eyes, and a red mark on his face. He had served two years in the merchant service before joining the Royal Navy on August 11th 1855 as a boy first class. He had served on H.M.S. Terrible during the Crimean War, but in July 1860 was admitted to the Royal Hospital in Malta suffering with temporary insanity, and in which hospital he was later discharged from the navy in August of that year aboard H.M.S. Megara for a passage to England. In June 1862 he shipped aboard the 290 as an ordinary seaman, but refused to sign further in the Confederate Navy. On his return to Liverpool he became a paid informer to the Federals. He married Esther Bennett Green, the daughter of Joseph Green, at St James Church, Walton on the Hill, on June 25 1863. He resided at 54, Gibbon Road, Camberwell, London in 1901, returning to the Wirral where he died on January 15th 1920 and was buried at the Wallasey Cemetery in section 1C grave 85.

 

Matthew James Butcher; born in Great Yarmouth on December 12th 1832 he was the son of Matthew Butcher, and first went to sea as an apprentice in about 1846. He was a man of fair complexion, with brown hair and eyes. He took the 290/Enrica to the Azores and a rendezvous with Captain Raphael Semmes. He died on June 19th 1904 and was buried in Warreston Cemetery, Trinity, Leith, Scotland. During my visit there I couldn't find a memorial on his grave.