The gunboat now building at Laird's Yard, no person knows whom she is for, excepting Laird's themselves, and the foreman carpenter, Mr. Laird, declines to give any information. The information we shall endeavor to obtain from some person employed there.
The order, when given to build her, was to build her of the best materials that could be obtained; the order was strictly attended so throughout.
Messrs. Sidderley & Co. of William Street have got the order to make the copper powder cans which are of a new patent. It is a large order and is to be completed in a month.
She is allowed, by nautical gentlemen to be one of the best boats they ever saw, and the workmanship and materials are of the best that art and skill can put together. She has been nine months on the stocks.
Her engines are on the oscillating principle and are 350 Horse Power. Her funnel is painted black and is forward of the main mast. Her hull is painted black. Billet head gilt., with shield painted red. Round stern, with blank gallery windows. Carvings on stern, gilt. Is 1050 tons burthen and when loaded will draw 14 feet forward. Barque rigged, what is termed "Jackass" or "Donkey" rig. Spars &c. very light. Has a lifting fan by steam power. Coppered and copper fastened, and is capable of going 15 knots an hour. Her mast yards &c. bright; mastheads, topmastheads, topgallantmastheads, yards &c. tipped with black.
The framework in which the fan works is solid brass castings and weighs from one and a half to two tons.
The engineers cooks stewards and officers are appointed. She is now bonding sail and has the ensign flying from her peak and will sail, if possible from here, before eight days from the date of this report (now Friday June 20th 1862). Her guns, if possible, will be Armstrong's patent and of the largest size they can get to work on board.
The stores are all on board. Some person of the name of Barnett is shipping the crew by direction of Captain Butcher.
Captain Bullock is there every day.
The gentleman who inspected the timber was an American, but did not stop about the yard, but only came occasionally and examined the tim(b)er and selected that which was to be used. His name, Broderick does not know, but will get it as soon as he possibly can as well as all the particulars. As we (Maguire and Broderick) were sitting in the hotel, he (Broderick) said, as sure as you are sitting there, Captain Bullock is the owner of the gunboat, he gave the order.
Captain Butcher who is appointed to the gunboat was formerly a Captain in the American trade, sailing from New York to Havannah and Nassau. For the last two years he has been sailing in the Royal Mail Steamer "Arabia" as second officer.
Barnett, who is the shipping agent and servant at the Gunard Company, is shipping the crew of the gunboat, who are all picked men, from the Naval Volunteer Reserve Force.
The gunboat "No. 290" will leave the Graving Dock (Lairds) tomorrow (Saturday July 12th) and go into the Great Float.
Captain Butcher is well known in New York and New Jersey having been in the Royal Mail Steamers "Africa" and "Arabia" as 2nd officer. From the information I received, he is to be second officer when she gets outside.
Captain Butcher made enquiries for me this afternoon at pay time and wanted to know where I was. It is understood by all on board that she will go to sea next week. It was also understood that she was to have hauled out into the river today.
There are about 50 men on board now and more are expected on Monday.
She is in a confused state and from her appearance will not be ready before the middle of next week.
She is built of oak and coppered. About 200 feet long and 18 feet deep. When loaded will draw from 10 to 14 feet and is about 1050 tons.
On Friday, July 18th, two dozens of swords were taken on board the "290" s.s.
The Captain who is to take charge of her when she gets to Nassau told the seamen that "he wanted men not cowards". One of the seamen asked him if they were going to run the blockade?, the Captain said he would let them know. The Captain is a low sized stoutish man, with black bushy whiskers, moustache and beard, apparently a foreigner. The shipping master told Ulskelu (one of the seamen) that the wages would be L4-10. per month, a half- months advance and from what he (the shipping master Mr. Barnett) heard, it would be as good as L60 or L70 each man, if they were successful, besides their wages.
Mr. King, who was on board the gunboat, says, "that a barque, which he thinks was named the "Burrington" of Bristol, came to Stiton and there put on board the "290" s.s. (gunboat) seven guns, viz: - two 32 pounders, two 96 pounders and three swivels. He said he heard there was a hundred pounder on board, but he (King) did not see it. They also took on board shot and shell, small arms and some coals. He also states, that the gunboat is a failure, for when the engines are at work, it is impossible to stand it below. She cannot do more that 10 knots and that she rolls terribly, so much so, that they were obliged to cover up the guns to prevent them from getting wet. He also says, he believes it to be the Captain's intention to cruise about the channel for a while, and then make west, to intercept the Californian Mails, states that the "Bahama" s.s is a faster boat than the "290". When Captain Simmes was asked by the men who they were to look to for their pay, he could not or would not name andy one. He also learned when on board, that there was a boat* now building at Glasgow; that Captain Simmes told him that if he (King) would stop by the ship he would be promoted. This, King did not believe, as, he says, there are too many young Southerners on board, whom the Captain will push forward. He also states that her metal is too heavy for her and that when they come to fire a broadside, it will try her. He says the Southerners have no acknowledged Government, that they, on board the "290" are no better than pirates and if taken, the British Government would not protect them, for their joining the service was a violation of the Queen's Proclamation. This man resides at 59, Clarence Street, Smithdown Lane.
*"Japan" s.s now "Georgia" s.s Capt. Maury.
*From information I (Matthew Maguire) received the "290" s.s. (gunboat) is at Charleston).
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Thomas Price, another of the seamen who came home from the "Alabama" per the "Agrippina" had his leg bruised with a cask of vinegar. He states that there were many who wanted to exchange places with the four who came home. They were offering money to the invalids to take their places but the doctor would not allow the others to go, as they were in sound health.
Carries the following guns viz:-
One 120 pounder swivel gun forward, a Dahlgrin, which does execution at the distance of 31/2 miles.
Four 68 pounders, broadside guns.
One 92, pounder, swivel aft.
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