James Dunwoody Bulloch-

James Dunwoody Bulloch was born near Savannah, GA., on June 25th 1823, the only child from Major James Stephens Bulloch’s first marriage. J. D. Bulloch had distinguished Scottish ancestors, one of whom settled in South Carolina in 1729. His great grandfather, Archibald Bulloch was active in the Revolution and fought in the wars. His father was one of a group who backed the ship Savannah on her epic voyage of 1819, when she became the first steamship to cross the Atlantic Ocean.


The Bulloch family had Bulloch Hall built, in Roswell Georgia, in 1840, and moved to live there. James D Bulloch is recorded as visting Bulloch Hall in 1849, but did not attend his sister Mittie`s wedding ( the mother of President Theodore Roosevelt). It is possible of course, that there were many unrecorded family visits, during his time in the United States Navy, indeed, it is almost certain.

J.D. Bulloch joined the United States Navy in 1839. The young midshipman spent five years sailing the Caribbean, the Atlantic, and the Mediterranean, aboard the frigate United States, the sloop Decatur (for a time under the command of David Farragut), and the ship-of-the-line Delaware. In 1844-45 he studied at the naval school at Philadelphia where he graduated second in his class. Assigned to the Pacific squadron (storeship Erie) at the time of the Mexican war, he subsequently was employed in the coast survey during 1849-51.

After this, he was one of the naval officers seconded to government-subsidized, privately owned mail steamers, first as captain of the Georgia and later of other mail ships in the Gulf of Mexico. In 1851 he married Elizabeth Caskie, a member of a distinguished Richmond, Virginia, family. She died early in 1854, and on 5 October of the same year Bulloch left the navy, having attained the rank of lieutenant. Promotion was slow, so he sought better-paid employment in private mail service.

He made New York City his home; his half-sister Martha already lived there. A year earlier she had married into the Roosevelt family. Her husband, a successful glass importer, was prominent in local philanthropies and politics. Bulloch remarried in 1857.

His new wife, Harriott Cross Foster, a widow, was the daughter of a career army officer officer from Maryland.

At the outbreak of the War, he was in command of the Bienville, trading between New York and various Southern ports. The Bienville was berthed in New Orleans, when word of the firing upon Fort Sumter arrived, on hearing this Bulloch immediately offered his services to the South, but, as a gentleman and a man of honour, he insisted on returning the Bienville to her rightful owners in New York.

On 13th April 1861 J. D. Bulloch wrote to the Attorney General of the Confederacy, Judah P. Benjamin, offering his services to the South, and was summoned to Montgomery AL. the then Confederate capital. By 8th May Bulloch had secured an interview with the Confederate Navy Secretary, Stephen Mallory, and was surprised to find that he was being sent to Europe, as a naval purchasing agent for the Confederacy. His orders were to buy and/or to build ships for the Confederate States of America. The next day (May 9th) Mallory gave Bulloch a letter containing quite specific instructions, in particular that he was to obtain six steam propeller vessels. He had a million dollars available for that purpose.

Bulloch arrived in England on June 4th 1861, aboard the steamship North American, as a civilian agent. It was raining, and the Fraser Trenholm offices were closed for the evening. The next day, Bulloch’s first task was to make himself known to Charles K. Prioleau, a native of New Orleans, at Fraser Trenholm and Company a sister company to Fraser & Co. of Charleston, SC. . They were cotton merchants and had offices at 10 Rumford Place; Liverpool. Bulloch later acquired offices two doors away at No.6 Rumford Place.

Within three days of arriving in England, Bulloch made a contract for the building of the first of the British built Confederate Cruisers, the CSS Florida, with William C. Miller & Sons of Toxteth, Liverpool. Miller was an ex Royal Navy man, who used a scale drawing of a speedy British dispatch gunboat, in designing the Florida. Fawcett Preston and Company, a Liverpool engineering firm, were contracted to supply the engines. The original designated name for this vessel was CSS Manassas, but Stephen Mallory later changed this to the CSS Florida, and Bulloch himself was the original choice as her Master. Building of the Florida started in June 1861, with the rumour being spread that she was an Italian ship. She was officially the property of John Henry Thomas, the local agent of an Italian firm, and she was to be called The Oreto.

On 27th July of 1861, now with funds for the second vessel, Bulloch attended the Laird Brothers shipyard, in Birkenhead, across the River Mersey from Liverpool.

The contract was signed on 11th August, with a completion date of nine months hence. To conceal the names of the true owners, the contract was drawn up in Bulloch’s name, as a private individual. When the keel for Bulloch’s ship was laid, it was labelled the “290”, being the 290th vessel constructed by them. There were some slight delays, as Bulloch’s plans called for a wooden ship, when most of Laird’s work then was part iron. Bulloch had good reason for insisting on a wooden ships, the isolated neutral ports in the world, which they would use, were far more likely to have repair facilities for wooden ship, rather than iron. More importantly, wooden decks are more resilient, and stronger.

Bulloch’s activities in Liverpool at this time, had not gone unnoticed by the resident U. S. Consul, Thomas H. Dudley, with offices in South Water Street. Reporting to the U. S. Ambassador in London, Charles Adams that "there is much secrecy about the Oreto, but my impressions are strong that she is intended for the Southern Confederacy". He also reported that "no pains or expense have been spared in her construction, and when fully armed she will be a formidable and dangerous craft". So disturbed was Adams that he complained to the British Foreign Office, that the building of the Oreto was a violation of British neutrality. The Foreign Office disagreed, for Bulloch had been so careful to keep strictly within the law. There was not a single item on the Oreto that could be described as equipment of war and he applied the same criteria for the “290”, provisionally named the Enrica.

With the building of the two cruisers now underway, Bulloch turned his attention to the despatch he had recently received from Mallory. Stating that the Confederacy needed to outfit 500,000 new force, and that agents in England were to purchase the arms and supplies. On 2nd September 1861, along with another Confederate agent in Liverpool, Edward G. Anderson of the Confederate States Army, Bulloch decided to buy a vessel to transport arms, munitions and supplies to the Confederacy. By 11th September Bulloch had secured the 800-ton steamer Fingal, an iron hulled screw steamer, to run the blockade. The cargo on board had a value o $250,000; much of it supplied my Major Caleb Huse of the Confederate States Army, who was also acting as an agent in England. Clandestine measures were taken to obscure the Fingal's true ownership, mission and cargo. Loaded with more than 11,000 rifles, as well as pistols swords, sabres, ammunition, four cannon, seven tons of shell, leather, medicines and clothing, blankets and more.

The civilian second officer on the Fingal was Bulloch’s trusted friend and assistant John Low. The Fingal sailed on the night of October 11th 1861. Running short of water on the journey, it was decided to call in at Terceira, in the Azores. There, Bulloch discovered the isolated harbour he would later use to fit out the Alabama. The Fingal reached the Bermuda on November 2nd, and took on the Savannah pilot, Mr. Macon, fresh from the CSS Nashville. It was not until the ship left Bermuda on November 7 that her crew were informed of their destination; gamely they agreed to defend the ship, if necessary against blockaders. Favoured by a thick fog that helped to hide her, she crept towards her destination. As the fog lifted, with Confederate flag flying high, she made a dash for Savannah, only to wind up on an oyster bank. With help from some Georgia vessels, she was soon clear, and in Savannah harbour on November 14.1861.

The ship's arrival gave the Fingal the distinction of having brought into the Confederacy the largest, single- trip delivery composed entirely of naval and military material. The arms and equipment helping to put the Southern forces pn an equal footing with the North at Manassas. This one journey also proved to the Confederate Government, the viability of bringing in supplies, and shipping out cotton, through the blockade. Bulloch was rewarded for his efforts, and promoted to the rank of Commander, with John Low now a Lieutenant in the Confederate States Navy. Both returned to Liverpool on March 10th 1862, aboard the blockade-runner Annie Childs.

Upon his return, Bulloch discovered that the Florida was on the river, and ready to sail. She was a 700-ton steamer, bark rigged with three masts, four gun ports and two smokestacks. Her rigging was increased to improve her sailing qualities, and, her hull extended to carry extra coal and supplies (n his correspondence with Mallory, Bulloch referred to her as "O"). The Union spies in Liverpool were giving regular updates to Thomas Dudley, the U.S. Consul on the ships progress, and numerous attempts were made to have the British Government intervene, but all failed. At the insistence of the United States, the Oreto was inspected by Customs officers, but as they could find no reason to detain her, she was free to sail unmolested out of Liverpool. Charles K. Prioleau, of Fraser Trenholm had been involved in communications with Lt. North CSN in London. Prioleau wanted the Florida away as soon as possible, but North would not commit himself.

Bulloch had the foresight to register her with the Board of Trade, as an English vessel, with an English master and crew. She had the required regulation markings on her side. On 22nd March 1862 with the English Confederate John Low took The Oreto to Nassau, in the Bahamas, where he handed her over to John Newland Maffitt CSN, along with a letter from Bulloch to Maffitt. Lt. Maffitt commissioned the CSS Florida in August of 1862.

Before Bulloch returned to the Confederacy aboard the Fingal, Stephen Mallory had asked him to investigate and prepare for the construction of ironclad rams in England. The "ram" idea dated from ancient times, and had been revived in the "steam" era. The ram itself being a metal projection from the bow, the aim of which was to rip holes below an enemy’s waterline. Bulloch originally had the idea for building these vessels in Confederate ports, using the readily available timber from local forests. Once completed, the plans for these "ironclads" would be sent to England. The English would then produce all the necessary metalwork and fittings, fully marked for location, which would then be shipped back to the South aboard fast Government blockade -runners. It may well have succeeded, had the Confederate Government been open to such a radical suggestion.

After the Fingal voyage, upon Bulloch’s return to Liverpool in the Annie Childs, and getting the Florida out, he focused his mind on producing the two rams. He worked out preliminary details for the vessels he required.
Length 230 feet
Beam 42 feet
Draft 15 feet
350 horsepower engines generating 10 1/2 knots speed
1.850 tons
With crew & stores for 3 months
Instead of broadsides, he required turrets, to reduce the weight and strain of the side of the vessels.

Mallory wrote to Bulloch, urging him to hurry with building the rams, informing him that one million dollars had been credited to Bulloch with Fraser, Trenholm & Co.. Bulloch again turned to Lairds, ordering two vessels of the same size and model. The first one to be ready in March 1863, the other in May, at a cost of £93,750 for each vessel. To comply with the Foreign Enlistment Act, no magazines or receptacles for ordnance and shells were specified, as Bulloch knew he could not arm these vessels in Britain. By mid July 1862, work on both vessels was well underway, and they were referred to as numbers 294 and 295, but were not under the same high profile as the infamous 290.

Having got the Oreto away successfully, Bulloch must have been aware, with all the increased espionage activities by agents of the North, that the 290 would be a far more difficult proposition. And that indeed was to prove to be the case.As the month of July 1862 came to a close, Bulloch realised how precarious the position was for the 290, now named Enrica. The U.S.S. Tuscarora was known to be in British waters, searching for the new Confederate cruiser. The United States minister, and the consul in Liverpool, was exerting serious pressure on the British government to detain the vessel. On or about the 27th July 1862, Bulloch received word from a source very close to the British government to get the Enrica out within 48 hours, or lose her forever. A trial on the River Mersey was arranged for Sunday 29 July, and the Enrica was festooned with balloons and garlands, with many visitors aboard.

She sailed down river, followed by the sea going tug Hercules, at a pre-designated point, the Hercules drew alongside her, and all the guests left the Enrica. Bulloch said that she was going on an overnight sea trial, this was a subterfuge, and her Master, Capt, Matthew J Butcher, sailed her to Moelfre Bay, n the isle of Anglesey. That night, Bulloch met with many Liverpool seamen, and their wives and girlfriends. They again boarded the Hercules, and sailed to meet the Enrica, where the British seamen were enlisted to crew her for a journey to another port. The actual enlistment of many of these men, did not take place until after she had been commissioned as the CSS Alabama.

When the Enrica left Moelfre Bay, to sail around the North of Ireland, Bulloch and his agent, Mr Bond, boarded a fishing boat, close by the Giants Causeway in Northern Ireland, and made their way back to Liverpool.

Bulloch wrote to Mallory in September 1862, saying how pleased he was with the new design and progress of the rams. Taking into consideration their powers of offense and defense, and their very light draft of 15 feet, they would perform as near as possible like cruisers, for the 3,000 mile journey ahead of them. Bulloch wrote "I designed these ships for something more than harbour or even coast defence, and I confidently believe, if ready for sea now, they could sweep away the entire blockading fleet of the enemy."

He was forming detailed plans for the officers and crew, and for the escape from England. In particular he had hopes to command one of these ironclad rams. But, by the time he wrote to Mallory on 23rd January 1863, he was disturbed by the fact that rumours of the ironclads were being widely distributed, both in the Confederacy and in England, and he feared the British Government was about to change the rules respecting "his" rams.With time running out, Bulloch realised that his chances of getting the rams out of England were rapidly fading. Bulloch received a despatch from Mallory on 9th March 1863, suggesting that France might be more tolerant, and even help to rescue the rams, with a possibility of building other vessels in France.

Then came the testimony of Clarence R. Yonge, the Confederate naval officer turned traitor, plus, the progress reports from Union spies in Liverpool and Birkenhead, were becoming so conclusive, that it was beginning to look as if the British would seize the vessels as soon as Charles Francis Adams (U. S. Minister to Great Britain) demanded such action. Bulloch informed Lairds that under the circumstances, he had no option but to sell the ironclads. Bulloch was making plans for a so-called purchase of the rams in France, when a genuine offer to buy, came from the Russian Government. Bulloch immediately hastened to France, to set up the "sale" to A. Bravay & Co. of Paris, ostensibly acting for the Pasha of Egypt, and the vessels were named as "El Tousson" and "El Monassir" for the purposes of this bogus sale.

This was not a bona fide sale, but Bulloch’s lawyer Hull, guided him through the intricacies of the "sale", and Lairds accepted it as legal. The United States officials in England were very afraid of the damage the ironclads might do, if turned loose against the blockading fleet. Adams may have been particularly worried about the threat to his hometown of Boston, Massachusetts.

In early September of 1863, Adams wrote an almost warlike letter to Lord Russell, and, on September 8th, Russell issued instructions for the seizure of the "Laird Rams." Lord Russell’s private papers indicate that he took this decision some time earlier. Orders were sent to customs officials in Liverpool, and, using a gunboat, and a guard from HMS Majestic they took possession of the two ironclads. Bulloch hoped that Napoleon the Third of France would demand the release of the rams, as property of private French citizens. But by then, the tide had turned against the Confederacy, with defeats at both Vicksburg and Gettysburg. Napoleon consequently refused to intervene. The rams were eventually sold to the British Government, and they were delighted to get vessels of such advanced design for the Royal Navy. The rams thus became HMS Scorpion, and HMS Wyvern. Part of the money received for them went into the Confederate Treasury, and helped to pay for the Shenandoah.

AFter losing the “rams” to the British Government, James Dunwoody Bulloch commissioned for the building of six vessels in France, two ironclads and four corvettes (one of the ironclads eventually became the CSS Stonewall, while the other was sold to the Russian Navy as the Cheops.) . Of the four Corvettes, two were sold to the Russian Navy, and the remaining two were sold to the Peruvian Navy in May of 1864.

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