The Alabama Traitor

On 25th January 1863, Clarence Randolf Yonge, paymaster on the CSS Alabama, deserted at Port Royal, Martinique, and turned traitor. He agreed to make the following deposition for the purposes of the United States. A deposition which almost certainly influenced the British Government in their decision to seize the "Laird Rams", and was instrumental in the settlement of the "Alabama Claims", when Her Majesty`s Government was made to pay $15,500,000 to the United States.

Clarence R. Yonge`s Deposition

I, Clarence Randolf Yonge, citizen of the State of Georgia, in the United States, late paymaster on board the steamer Alabama, formerly called the 290, and also called the Eureka, and was built by Messrs. Laird, of Birkenhead, in England, make oath and say as follows:"

"I came to England in the steamer Annie Childs, which sailed from Wilmington, in North Carolina early in February, 1862, and remained in Liverpool until the steamer Alabama went to sea.
I came over for the express purpose of acting as paymaster to the Alabama.
I engaged for that purpose with Captain James D. Bullock, at Savannah, Georgia. He had full authority from the Confederate Government in the matters about to be mentioned.
Lieutenant North had been sent over to England by the Confederate Government to get iron-clad vessels built. Captain Bullock had been over previously, and had made the contract for building the Oreto and the Alabama, and was returning to England to assume the command of the latter ship. He was directed at the time to assist Lieutenant North with his advice and experience in building the iron-clads which Lieutenant North had been over here expressly to get built.
I was in the naval paymaster`s office, in Savannah, Georgia, under the Confederate Government. Captain Bulloch wanted someone to accompany him, and I was recommended by the paymaster at Savannah to Captain Bulloch.
I was then released by the paymaster from my engagement, and was subsequently appointed by Captain Bullock under the written authority of Mr. S. R. Mallory, the secretary of the navy, a paymaster in the Confederate navy, and assigned to the Alabama.
I continued as paymaster in the navy of the confederate States of America from the time of my appointment in Savannah, Georgia, up to the time of my leaving the Alabama at Port Royal, in January, 1863.
The date of my appointment as paymaster in the Confederate navy was 21st day of December, 1861. Previous to this time I had attended to Captain Bullock`s correspondance with the Confederate Government, and I therefore knew that these two vessels, afterwards called the Oreto and the Alabama, were being built in England for the Confederate Government, and by the same means I knew that Captian Bullock, who is a commander in the Confederate navy, was the acknowledged agent of the Confederate Government for the purpose of getting such ships built.
From the time of my coming to England until I sailed in the Alabama my principal business was in paying the officers of the Confederate navy who were over here attached to the Alabama, and sent over for that purpose.
I used to pay them monthly, about the first of the month, at Fraser Trenholm & Co.`s office in Liverpool, and I drew the money for that purpose from that firm. Commander James D. Bulloch, John Low, lieutenant; Eugene Maffitt, midshipman, and E. M. Anderson, midshipman, came over to England in the same vessel with myself.
Captain Bullock came over to England in the first instance to contract for building the two vessels-the Oreto, now called the Florida, and the Alabama. he came so to contract for and in behalf of the Southern Confederacy, with the understanding that he was to have command of one of the vessels. I have heard him say so; and I have learned this also from the correspondance between him and Mr. Mallory, secretary of the Confederate navy, as before mentioned, which passed through my hands.
At the commencement of my engagement with Captain Bulloch I acted as his clerk.The contract for building the Alabama was made with Messrs. Laird on the other, I made the copy, at the instance of Captain Bullock, from the original, which he has. The ship cost, in United States money, about $255,000. This included provisions,c., enough for a voyage to the East Indies, which Messrs Laird were, by the contract, to provide. The payments were all made before the vessel sailed, to the best of my belief. Sinclair, Hamilton & Co., of London , had money. Fraser, Trenholm & Co., of Liverpool, had money. There was government money in both their hands over here, enough for the purpose of paying for them.
I was over to see the Alabama before she was launched from Messrs. Lairds` yard, and was on board the vessel with Captain Bullock; and have met Captain Bulloch and one of the Messrs. Laird`s at Fraser, Trenholm & Co.`s office. Captain Bulloch superintended the building of the Alabama and Oreto, also, while he was here.
Captain Matthew J. Butcher was the captain who took her to sea, he is an englishman, and represented himself belonging to the royal naval reserve. At the time the Alabama was being built by Messrs. Laird, and when I saw them at different times in their yard at Birkenhead and at Fraser, Trenholm & Co.`s office, I have not the slightest doubt that they perfectly well knew that such steamer was being built for the Southern Confederacy, and that she was to be used in war against the Government of the United States.

When the vessel sailed from Liverpool she had her shot-racks fitted in the usual places; she had sockets in her decks, and pins fitted which held fast frames or carriages for the pivot guns or breaching bolts. These had been placed in by the builders of the vessel, Messrs. Lairds & Co.. She was also full of provisions and stores; enough for four months cruise. When she sailed she had beds, bedding, cooking utensils and mess utensil for one hundred, men, and powder tanks fitted in.

We sailed from Liverpool on the 29th day of July, 1862. This was some three or four days sooner than we expected to saiL The reason for our sailing at this time, before we contemplated, was on account of information which we had received that proceeding were being commenced to stop the vessel from sailing. Captain Bullock sent Lieutenant Low to me on Sunday evening, the 27th day of July, to say that I must be at Fraser, Trenholm & Co.'s office early next morning. The next morning I arrived at half-past nine o'clock. Captain Butcher came in and told me the ship, (which at that time was called the 290, also Eureka) would sail the next day, and he wanted me to go with him. In a few minutes Captain Bullock came in a told me he wanted me to be ready to go to sea at a minute's notice; that they were going to send her right out. I placed my things on the vessel that evening.
There were about seventy or eighty men in the vessel at this time, under Captain Butcher, who had been in command of the vessel for more than a month before she sailed. I went on the vessel on the morning of the 29th of July for the purpose of sailing. We started out of the river Mersey at about half-past ten o'clock. Captain Butcher commanded. Mr. Low acted as first mate, George T. Fullam as second mate, and David Herbert LIevellyn as assistant surgeon Captain Bullock, Lieutenants North and Sinclair were on board; also the two Messrs. Laird, Mr. A.E. Byrne, and five or six ladies, (including two Miss Lairds,) and some other gentlemen whom I do not know. When we sailed it was not our mtention to return, but it was with the intention of going to sea, and so understood by us all. The ladies and passengers were taken on board as a blind.
After we got on board one of the Messrs. Laird who built the vessel came to me and gave me three hundred and twelve pounds in English gold. Captain Bullock came and asked me if Mr. Laird had given me the money; that he had some to give me, which I must put in the safe. I told him I had not received it, and went to Mr. Laird and got it. Laird counted it out for me, and I gave him a receipt for the amount. Mr. Laird gave me a number of bills and receipts at the same time for things he had been purchasing for the vessel-beds, blankets, tinware, knives, forks, for the ship; all of which he (Mr. Laird) had purchased from various parties on account of the ship. My understanding was that the money given me was the balance of the money left after making these purchases. The bills and receipts which Mr. Laird gave me on this occasion, on account of the purchases he had made, were left on the ship, and were handed over by me to Francis L. Galt, who has succeeded me as paymaster on the ship.
There was a tugboat in attendance when we left Liverpool on the 29th of July, in which the ladies and all the passengers left. We ran down immediately for Moelfra Bay, and lay there all that night, all the next day and next night, until three o'clock on Friday morning. I copied a letter of instructions from Captain Bullock to Captain Butcher, in which Captain Butcher was directed to proceed to Porto Praya, in Terceira, one of the Azores, where it was intended that we should go to receive the armament. I knew, and all the officers knew, before we went on board, that this vessel had been built for the purpose, and was to go out with the intention of cruising and making war against the Governrnent and people of the United States.
This, as I verily believe, was well known by the Messrs. Laird who built her and helped to fit her out, and by Fraser, Trenholm & Co., and by A.E. Byrne, of Liverpool, who also assisted in fitting her out, and by Captain Butcher and the other officers who sailed in her. The next day after we left, the tugboat Hercules came to us from Liverpool, about three o'clock. She brought to us Captain Bullock and S.G. Porter, (who for a time superintended the fitting the vessel,) and some two or three men. The men signed articles that night. They had signed articles before at various times while in Liverpool, but they all came up again and renewed the articles. The advance notes had been given them in Liverpool by Captain Butcher, and made payable at Cunard, Wilson & Co.'s. The original articles are now in Fraser, Trenholm & Co.'s office, but in possession of Captain Bullock, who transacts all the business and keeps all his papers at Fraser, Trenhoim & Co.`s.
I do not know the name of the man who acted as the shipping master at Liverpool. Captain Bullock wrote a letter of instructions to me before we left Liverpool, directing me to circulate freely among the men and induce them to go on the vessel after we got to Terceira I accordingly did circulate among the men on our way out, and persuaded them to join the vessel after we should get to Terceira, Low did the same. We sailed from Moelfra Bay at three o'clock on Friday morning. We went out through the Irish Channel. Captain Bullock left us at the Giant's Causeway. We were some ten or eleven days going Out to Terceira
Were in quarantine for three days at Porto Praya. There was no transfer of the vessel or anything of the kind there. The bark Agrippina, from London, arrived there with a part of the armament, all the ammunition, all the clothing, and coals. She was commanded by Alexander McQueen. The first day after the arrival of the bark she was getting ready for discharging. This bark is owned by the Confederate Government, but is nominally held by Sinclair, Hamilton & Co., of London, and sails under the British flag. This firm are connected with the Confederate Government. Early the following day the bark Agrippina hauled alongside, and we commenced to take the guns on board.
Two or three days after this the Bahama arrived with the officers. This steamer was in command of Captain Tessier. She also sailed under the British flag. The Bahama came in, and Captain Butcher went on board and received orders to sail to Angra The Bahama took the bark in tow, and we all went round to Angra. After we got there we were ordered away by the authorities. There was also some correspondence took place between Captain Butcher and the British consul at that place, but I never heard what it was. We went out, and continued discharging and taking in all that day, and at night we and the bark run into the bay, the Bahama keeping outside. By this time we had got all the guns, ammunition, and cargo from the steamer and bark. During all this time the three vessels were sailing under the British flag. We finished coaling on Sunday, the 24th day of August, at about one o'clock.
We received from the bark Agrippina four broadside guns, each 32-pounders, and two pivot guns, one 68-pounder solid-shot gun, and one 100-pounder rifled gun; one hundred barrels of gunpowder, a number of Enfleld rifles, two cases of pistols, and cartridges for the same. All the clothing for the men was also received from the Agrippina, and the fuses, primers, signals, rockets, shot, shell, and other munitions of war needed by the ship; also a quantity of coal. We received from the Bahama two 32-pounder broadside guns, a bale of blue flannel for sailors' wear, and a fire-proof chest with fifty thousand dollars in English sovereigns and fifty thousand dollars in blank bills. Captain Butcher, or Mr. Low, the first mate, told me that Mr. M.G. Klingender had been directed to purchase in Liverpool, where Mr. Klingender resides and does business as a merchant, such supplies of tobacco and liquor as were required for the ship's use. I made out the advance notes for the men at Liverpool, on the 28th of July, 1862, while she was lying in the Birkenhead docks, which advance notes were made payable by Cunard, Wilson & Co., at Liverpool. The half-pay notes which I made out in Moelfra Bay on board the No.290, were made payable at Liverpool by the aforesaid M.G. Klingender.
After we arrived at Angra, and had armed the ship, and were leaving that port to enter upon the cruise, we were still under the British flag. Captain Semmes then had all the men called aft on the quarterAeck. The British flag was hauled down and the Confederate one raised. He then and there made a speech, read his conirnission to them as commander in the Confederate navy, told them the objects of the vessel, and what she was about to do; mentioned to them what their proportion of prize money would be out of each one hundred thousand dollars' worth of property captured and destroyed; said he had on board one hundred thousand dollars, and asked them to go with him, at the same time appealing to them as British sailors to aid him in defending the side of the weak.
I had two sets of articles prepared-one for men shipping for a limited time, the other for those willing to go during the war. The articles were then re-signed while the vessel was in Portuguese waters, but under the Confederate flag. This was on Sunday, the 24th August, 1862. At the same time Captain Semmes announced that the ship would be called the Confederate States vessel Alabama The guns which were brought out to the no.290 in the Agrippina and the Bahama were made and flimished by Fawcett, Preston & Co., of Liverpool. The ammunition and entire armament of the vessel, as well as all the outfit, were purchased in England. The list hereunto annexed, marked A, contains a list of the names of all the officers on the Mabama when I left, except myself, and of all the men whom I can mow remember. My belief is that we had eighty-four shipped men, inclusive of the firemen and coal-trimmers, when we left Angra.
All the men but three signed the articles for the period of the war. New half-pay notes entitled their families or friends to draw half of thefr pay on the first of every month. They were all payable by Fraser, Trenhoim & Co., with whom the money for the purpose of meeting them was lodged. The first set of notes (payable at Cunard, Wilson & Co.'s) were in the form of the British marine service. The second set (payable at Fraser, Trenhoim & Co.'s) were m the form used by the United States and Confederate navy. Several of the men refused to sign, and returned in the Bahama to Liverpool. Captain Butcher and Captain Bullock also returned in the Bahama We then entered upon our cruise. But of the eighty-four men I believe there were not more than ten or twelve Americans. There was one Spaniard, and all the rest were Englishmen. More than one half of the Englishmen belonged to the royal naval reserve, as they informed me, and as was generally understood by all on board. Four, at least, of the officers were English--that is to say, John Low, fourth lieutenant; David Herbert Llewellyn, assistant surgeon; George T. Fullam, master's mate; and Henry Allcott, the sail-maker. I never remember at any time seeing any custom-house officer aboard this vessel. I remained aboard the vessel as paymaster from the time Ijoined her, as before stated, until the 25th day of January, 1863, at which time she was lying at Port Royal, Jamaica During the whole time that I was on board her she was cruising and making war against the Government and people of the United States. I cannot recollect the names of all the vessels which she captured, but I know that the number which we captured and destroyed up to the time I left her was at least twenty-three, and, as I believe, was more. ******* The first port we went into after leaving the Western Islands was Port Royal, Martinique, where we went to provision and coal. The bark Agrippina was lying with coals for us, being the same vessel as took out the armament We did not provision or coal there, but we went out, and afterwards met the Agrippina at the Island of Blanco, belonging to Venezuela We ouly took in coal there. We then proceeded to the Arcas Keys, near Yucatan Banks, where we lay about ten days; where we painted the ship and recoaled from the Agrippina, and gave the men a run on shore. We then steered for Galveston, where we destroyed the United States gunboat Hatteras, which was the last vessel we destroyed before I left her. As soon as we got the prisoners from the Hatteras on board we started straight for Jamaica, (Port Royal.) There we provisioned, coaled, and repaired ship. Ml the twenty-three ships which we had burned or destroyed had been so burned or destroyed in the interval between our leaving the Western Islands and steering for Port Royal. I heard of no objection from the authorities in Jamaica to our repairing, coaling, or provisioning the ship in Port Royal; but on the contrary, we were received with all courtesy and kindness. We were there about a week. Whilst we were there the English adnrral at Port Royal paid a visit to Captain Semmes, on board the Alabama. I was on shore on duty at the time of the visit, but I heard of such visit immediately upon my return to the ship, for it was the subject of much conversation and remark amongst the officers; and, in particular, I remember Mr. Sincliar, the master, speaking of it. I also know that Captain Semmes paid a return visit to the English admiral on the day that the Alabama left Port Royal. I myself saw him start for the purpose.

My connection with the ship terminated at Port Royal, and I subsequently came to England, where I arrived on 22d March, 1863.

This affidavit was voluntarily made before John Payne, acting commissioner, &c., on the 2d day of April, 1863, and two days afterwards was transmitted in copy to Earl Russell by Mr. Adams, in the nature of cumulative evidence to show the execution of deliberate plan to establish within the limits of Great Britain "a system of action in direct hostility to the Government of the United States."

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