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Militaria 

1864 Confederate Ship Bell "CCS Alexandra"


In 1861 the Confederacy's chief foreign agent James Bulloch was in Great Britain and led an effort to obtain Confederate ships in Liverpool. The Confederacy's chief foreign agent Bulloch circumvented this problem by ensuring that the ships, while clearly designed for battle, were not actually fitted with armaments in Britain. The ships could be presented as civilian vessels when they left British jurisdiction, but they would then travel to the Azores and armed. 


Confederate attacks using British made ship on American vessels gave the U.S. government grounds to sue the British government for damages caused by the CSS Alabama and other British-made Confederate ships.
Charles Prioleau, a cotton merchant, ship owner, and strong financial backer of the Confederacy from Liverpool, had ordered a war vessel “ALEXANDRA”to be built on behalf of the Confederacy, and it was registered to the Preston & Fawcett Engineering Co. The ship was built by a subcontractor – Wm C. Miller & Sons shipyard. 


The ship  was intended to be a gift to the Confederate government from Fraser, Trentholm & Company, cotton brokers and ship-owners whose Liverpool agent was Charles Prioleau. 


The ensuing legal action from this seizure served as a test case for future Confederate shipbuilding in Britain. 
The hearing took place in London, rather than Liverpool which had a pro-Confederate reputation.


The small wooden vessel “Alexandra” was very strongly built with a steam engine to power her propeller and a three-masted barquentine rig. At 145 feet long, she was smaller than the “Florida” which was 191 feet long. 
She was described by Miller ship builders as suitable for use as a yacht or mail boat, though she was very suitable for conversion into a gunboat. She was commissioned on March 7 1863 by Mrs William Miller, named Alexandra after the Princess who married the Prince of Wales on March 10.


The British government was deeply embarrassed by the CSS “Alabama” and other Confederate ship attacks and, fearful of being dragged into the conflict, worked actively to prevent a repeat of the incident. Citing the Foreign Enlistment Act of 1819, officials ordered the seizure of the CSS Alexandra in 1863.


The seizure of the CSS Alexandra was greeted by an editorial in the Liverpool Mercury praising the government's decision to intervene and condemning ship building on the grounds that it was “the interest of a great commercial community like this that the destruction of property at sea in times of war should be as much dismissed as possible.” 
Prioleau and Bulloch hired former Solicitor General Hugh Cairns to act as their defense. The courts ultimately affirmed their right to build ships, as long as they were not armed, but the CSS “Alexandra” case still dragged on through a series of appeals and counter suits. To avoid further litigation, the British Government increasingly relied on executive power to enforce the Declaration of Neutrality. In addition, the activities of James Bulloch were placed under much greater scrutiny. In 1863, the British government also seized ironclad vessels Bulloch had commissioned to be built by John Laird Sons & Co.


Although Miller's shipyard was surrounded by a high wall and entry was controlled, it was common knowledge that the “Alexandra” had links to the Confederacy, since a report in the newspapers on March 16 stated “a gunboat built by Messrs W C Miller & Sons at Liverpool for the Confederates was launched last week”. 

Before the ship’s sailing, the Union consul, Thomas Dudley, in Liverpool used Union agents to support this allegation and he placed their evidence before the British government.
The “Alexandra” was arrested on April 5 1863. 


The Union spies were motivated by payment and were a rather disreputable bunch of men. Much of their evidence was hearsay and not legally significant. Dudley stated from the Miller shipyard that “Alexandra” was intended as a Confederate gunboat based on Captain Tessier discussing the construction of her. 


The evidence presented was that “Alexandra” was very suitable for conversion to a warship (which was true) and that she would be converted into a Confederate warship (which was not proven). After a year-long series of court proceedings, in May 1864 she was eventually cleared on condition that she was clearly fitted out as a merchant vessel.
The ship was renamed “Mary” and sailed from Liverpool on July 17 1864 and arrived off St. George's Harbour in Bermuda on August 30. The ship returned to Halifax, then returned to Bermuda on November 14 1864 and then left for Nassau, arriving on November 29. Union spies reported seeing guns on board, so she was again the subject of court proceedings.


One gun (built by Fawcett & Preston) was found among the goods stowed aboard, but she was released on 30 May 1865, too late for the Confederacy.   

 

This a rare opportunity to own a confederate ship's brass bell with a great ship bell sound. The bell is very fine overall condition. The bell comes with wooden display rack from which the bell can be easily removed or added back in place.  Price $5800 
 

February 17 1864 Authorized Confederate $1000 Bond with Full Coupons Redeemable between July 1872 - July 1894
A nicely framed $1000 bond in a handsome frame 21.5" x 27.5. 
All 45 coupons are present, each one individually hand serial numbered (10636) with the printed signature of Robert Taylor, grandson of President Taylor. 
Bond pays 6% and is hand signed by the issuing Confederate officials. The bond displays the Great Seal of the Confederacy with General George Washington on horseback. A very nice decorative and collectible Civil War artifact. Price $375  

Personal Artifacts of Confederate Brig. Gen. Francis Redding Tillou Nicholls of Louisiana

Group Includes: 1) Right Sleeve of Uniform Coat when Nicholls was a Colonel-some mothing 2) Old English Style Two Piece CS Sword Belt Buckle * 3) Eagle Sleeve Button 4) 1862 $5 LA Note 5) Signature of Nicholls on Misc. Document Fragment. Collection comes from a retired Duke Univ. Doctor purchased 35+ years ago.

* CS Buckle has been examined by well-known Confederate Artifacts Dealer of VA, and was pronounced to be authentic

 

Comes with a frame ready Display Poster 

Born Aug., 20 1834 – Died Jan. 4 1912 -  26th & 30th Gov. of Louisiana / Chief Justice of the LA Supreme Court.  Buried in St. John Episcopal Cemetery in Thibodaux LA

Nicholls graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York in 1855.  After a tour in Florida in the Seminole War, he returned to Louisiana and attended the University of Louisiana (Tulane).  He married Caroline Guion in 1860 and practiced law in Napoleonville until the war started.

He joined the Confederate forces in June 1861 as a Captain, 8th LA Infantry, fought at First Battle of Bull Run and the Shenandoah Valley Campaign. In May 1862, Col. Nicholls was badly wounded and became a POW at Winchester VA, his left arm was amputated. Prisoner exchanged on Sept. 21 1862.

On October 14, 1862, he was promoted to Brigadier General. Commanding the District of Lynchburg until 1863, he later led a brigade in the Chancellorsville Campaign. During that campaign, his left foot was ripped off by a shell, and he was unable to return to combat service. Nicholls was transferred to the Trans-Mississippi Department to direct the Volunteer and Conscript Bureau until the end of the war.

 

A nice grouping with a rare buckle. Price: $12,500