J.D.R. Hawkins

One bullet can make a man a hero… or a casualty.

Archive for the tag “England”

CSS Alabama (And Other Civil War Battleships)


(Above: photos of USS Cairo at Vicksburg National Military Park)

On July 29, 1862, the CSS Alabama departed the shores of England where it had been constructed. The ship’s career was short-lived, however, because she was sunk in 1864. Originally launched as Enrica, the ship never anchored in Southern waters. She was dubbed the Alabama in August of 1862 to the jaunting melody of “Dixie” following President Jefferson Davis’commission of the vessel as read by the captain.

In 1865, the USS San Jacinto was wrecked. What remained of the vessel was sold at auction, and added to the US Treasury. The total sum was $224.61.

Many ships have survived the ages throughout history, and new wrecks are being discovered all the time. It wasn’t long ago that the turret to the USS Monitor was discovered, still containing the remains of the Civil War soldiers inside. The same goes for the CSS Hunley, one of the first submarines ever used, which vanished off the coast of South Carolina in 1864 after torpedoing the USS Housatonic.

I have seen a few remnants of boats during this era that still remain. One interesting artifact is located at Desoto Bend, near Omaha, Nebraska. Here, a museum houses what remains of a riverboat that sunk in the Missouri River around the time of the Civil War. There is also a wildlife refuge there where you can see a wide variety of water birds as they migrate during the fall.

Another fascinating relic resides at the National Military Park in Vicksburg, Mississippi. The USS Cairo was sunk into the murky waters of the Yazoo River during the siege of Vicksburg, but all of the occupants managed to escape before she went down. Nearly a century later, the boat was retrieved, and artifacts are on display at the museum inside the park.

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Not Just a Southern Thing

Those who are less familiar with the War Between the States will often assume that only Southerners fought for the “Southern Cause.” Although this is primarily the case, many Northerners (otherwise known as Southern sympathizers, or Copperheads) also supported and/or fought for the Confederacy. Likewise, many foreigners fought for the South as well. Because Southerners were primarily of Irish and Scottish decent, many Scot-Irish fought for the South. Native Americans also fought for the Confederacy. In other words, it was an interesting hodgepodge of characters that made up the Confederate army.

Occasionally, new gravesites are being discovered in foreign lands that belong to soldiers who fought for the Confederacy. In the May/June 2014 edition of the SCV Magazine, an editorial discussed how a Confederate grave was recently found in Scotland. The grave was discovered just outside Dundee, and it was the result of more than 15 years of searching. Nearly 100 graves have also been found in England, with many more under investigation. Some of these gravesites belong to Americans who relocated across the pond after the war.

There are also many informative places on the web where those interested can discover more about Confederates with overseas ties. One Facebook group known as “English Friends of the South” has members from all over the world. It is dedicated to preserving Southern history.

England and the Confederacy

England provided many seacoast guns for the Confederate cause. One of the most formidable guns in the service of the South, as it was called by the historian William C. Davis, was the work of Sir W. G. Armstrong & Company of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne.

The Big Gun was capable of firing its 150 pound shells a distance of 4 miles and was one of the most powerful weapons that served the South. The massive cannon defended Fort Fisher at Wilmington, North Carolina until January 15, 1865, when the fort fell during the attack by the Union Army. Shortly thereafter, the gun was brought to the United States Military Academy at West Point. Soon after the end of the war, it was moved to a prominent place on Trophy Point overlooking the Hudson River. There it remained until wind & weather damaged its wooden carriage beyond repair & it fell into storage.

Thanks to the donations of the Military Academy’s Class of 1932, the gun is now back in place & is supported by  a re-creation of the original carriage.

(Information from “The Big Gun,” American Heritage Civil War Chronicles, Summer 1991, Vol. 1/Number 1:38-39)

Confederates Honored in England

Although places in America are protesting the public display of Confederate markers, flags, etc., the exact opposite seems to be happening in Great Britain. According to an issue of Confederate Veteran magazine, a senior Sons of Confederate Veterans member visited Britain only to discover that the country had honored fallen soldiers by placing Confederate flags on their graves. There are several thousand Confederate veterans buried in Britain, as well as in nearly every other country throughout the world. 

During the War Between the States, there was a profound connection between England and the South of which we will probably never know the exact proportion. It is estimated that 200,000 British-born soldiers fought on both sides, and that 141,000 of the South’s citizens were born in the British Isles. 

There are over 1,000 Confederate reenactors and two SCV camps existing in Britain at present. It seems British officials are far more supportive about Confederate events and activities, and recently flew a Confederate flag over a government building – the first time since 1865. This is in sharp contrast to what the U.S. is experiencing. In Richmond, an article ran that blatantly proclaimed Southern ancestors who fought for the Confederacy to be “terrorists.” Unfortunately, nary an SCV member complained, but members in England did voice their protest. In Great Britain, it is considered a privilege to honor those brave ancestors who fought for Southern independence.

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