"Q.P.O." S.S. (Gunboat) now "Alabama".
Confederate States Cruiser

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.

(Reported Friday, March 28th, 1862).
The gunboat launched from Laird's Yard on Wednesday, May 14th, 1862, at which there was a very good attendance of gentlemen present, many Americans amongst them. There was no admittance to the yard, only those who were invited.

(Reported Tuesday, May 6th, 1862).
The gunboat built by Laird's is a sister boat to the "Oreto" s.s. (gunboat) but is far superior. Her planks were caulked as they were put on; is built of the best English oak that could be obtained and that was picked. Every plank and timber of which she is built was strictly examined after being worked up. A large quantity of this oak was condemned, for what, the carpenter says, was no detriment whatever. Every timber in her is fastened with copper bolts 18 feet long and 21/2 and 31/2 inches in circumference. The stern gear is all copper and brass, in fact, the gentleman who superintended her construction says, "they could not turn out anything better from Her Majesty's Dock Yards".

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.

(Reported Friday, May 18th, 1862).
The gunboat which was built at Laird's is in every respect similar to the "Oreto" S.S. (gunboat), with the exception, that she has only one funnel; she is also similarly rigged. About 40 or 50 gentlemen went out with her on her trial trip, which was to the Formby Lightship. The Byrnes were there also some from Messrs. Fraser Tronholm & Co.'s firm. Everything connected with her, is kept a profound secret and her name is not known as yet to anyone in the yard. She went direct out of the dock and went direct in.

(Reported Friday June 13th, 1862).
There are two hundred powder cases for her, sixty of which are delivered and the remainder to be delivered by the end of the week. The crews of them cost L2 each.

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.

(Reported Thursday June 17th 1862).
The gunboat at Laird's is being fitted out as a privateer and is to be commanded by Captain Bullock. She is to carry eleven guns, ten and a pivot. The crew of the "Sumpter" s.s. now on board the "Julie Usher" s.s late "Annie Childs" s.s. alias "North Carolina" s.s. will go on board the gunboat, if the "Julie Usher" s.s. goes into dock and discharges, but up to the present they have not decided what to do with the "Julie Usher" s.s. She has put on board the Magazines 1616 barrels of gunpowder which she took on board at Cork.

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.

(Reported Friday June 20th 1862).
The gateman told me that the gunboat was going out today (Friday June 27th), but that he was not certain. He further said if I go over tonight he will try & get to know more for me, from the watchman on board. Her stores are all on board and the men were working all night one or two nights this week to finish something for her but what it was he could not tell me. He said it was rumored some time ago that she was for the Spanish Government; he (the gateman) said she was for the South.

(Reported Friday June 27th 1862).
Captain Butcher is to command her; Mr. McNair is to be Chief and Mr. Black second engineer. She may go out any tide and sail in two or three hours' notice. The crew is engaged to go to a certain place, then they will be told where they are to go to; if they don't sign articles to go there, they will be told to go home. Everything as regards time of sailing, where she is bound for, name &c. is kept a profound secret.

(Reported Tuesday July 1st 1862).
Captain Bullock went over to Tranmere in the same boat as I (Matthew Maguire) this morning (Wednesday July 2nd, 10 o'clock boat). Went to Laird's Yard and on board the gunboat, where he seemed to be giving orders to the men, who saluted him and who went and appeared as if they were carrying his orders into effect, whatever they were.

(Reported Friday July 4, 1862)
----------INTERNAL DESCRIPTION----------

State room right aft. The entrance to the cabin from the deck is abaft the mizen mast, raised, about 2 feet 6 inches. The state room is seated all round; there are two small glass cases in it. At the bottom of the stairs, the communication to the right leads to a small saloon in the centre of which, is a small dining table and on each side are state cabins. Passing from this to a little more forward, is a large saloon, where the chief officers' and chief engineers cabins are situated on each side, fitted up with chart and book cases. From this you pass through a doorway into the engine room. There is a platform over the engines (which are two in number ) and which are most complete and handsome pieces of machinery, only occupying a small space and lying entirely at the bottom; they are on the oscillating principle. From here also you can pass in-to the stoke holes. Forward of this, but no communication, are the mens berths, which are quite open and spacious and run entirely forward, in the centre is the cooking apparatus. The hooks are slung to the deck for the mens hammocks. This is also seated all round. Under these seats are places for the mens bags with iron gratings which form the front of the seats. The entrance to this department is directly forward of the foremost. At the bottom of the stairs, a little to the fore part of the ship is a small hatch which loads to the magazines, two in number. The partition on each side of these magazines is of three thicknesses of oak, between each thickness is lined with lead. These magazines are under the main deck, of what I should the mens berths in the fore part of the ship, about six or eight foot forward of the fore mast. The canisters are fixtures on their sides, the screws lying one over the other. The magazines and entrance to them, are filled with water during action, by a pipe on each side, and by a pipe in the middle of the floor, the water descends to the bottom of the ship and is pumped out by steam power. The entrance to the cabin is abaft the mizen mast; each side is a brass ventilator, about twelve inches high. Forward of the mizen mast is a skylight to the small saloon and forward of this skylight is a larger one, which gives light to the larger saloon. These skylights do not stand more than a foot high on deck and which have iron bars across. Forward of this skylight and abaft the funnel, is a skylight five or six feet long, which gives light to the engine room. The base of the funnel forms a square, about two feet high; each corner it latticed with iron rails, to throw light and air into the stoke room. Each side abaft the funnel, are two ventilators with round bell mouths and which stand about five or six feet high; more forward of the mainmast are two more ventilators of the same description. The entrance to the stoke hole is abaft the foremast. The entrance to the mens sleeping apartment, is raised, about 2 feet high. A small chimney, or brass or copper funnel rises here from the cooking apparatus. Each side of the gangway is carved oak, with an anchor and rope carved on. Richard Broderick, a shipwright, states, that on the day of the launch of the gunboat, "No. 290" Captain Bullock and his wife, with several American gentlemen, were in attendance. Captain Bullock's wife was in one of the office windows, with other ladies. Her bonnet dropped form the window, he (Broderick) lifted it and passed it up to her. He also states, that one of the gentlemen who was present was tall, stout, and wore red whiskers. He further states that he is sure that Captain Bullock is the owner of the gunboat and that she belongs to the same parties as the "Oroto" s.s (gunboat) (now the "Florida") which was built by W.C. Miller Toxteth Dock and for the same purpose viz:- for cruising about on the American coast. He (Richard Broderick) says, in fact she is for the Confederate Government and that Captain Bullock is a Southern Commissioner. Captain Butcher, who is a young man, with light whiskers and beard, is for the present, in command of her and is appointing and shipping the crew. The Chief Officer whose name, at present he (Broderick) does not know, has been in the Peninsular and Oriental Company's Service. The Chief Steward has been on board the Royal Mail Steamer "Africa" one of the Gunard Line. There are to be two carpenters; viz;- carpenter and carpenters mate. Captain Butcher wanted him (Broderick) to go as carpenters mate but he (Broderick) would not go as the wages were too small, they only offering L6 and he (Broderick) wanting L7 per month, and also a guarantee from Mr. John Laird that his (Broderick's) wages would be all right, as they refused to say who the owners were. Mr. Laird smiled when he was asked to be security as he (Mr. Laird) said, he had no doubt it would be all right. Broderick refused to go.

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.


Feet Inches
Extreme length 222
Keel 196
Distance of X from F'head 101
Breadth ------do--------- 28 6
Depth 24 6
Section at 58 feet forward of X
Breadth 28
Depth 26
Section at 77 feet aft of X
Breadth 26
Depth 24 6
Distance of fore post from X 99

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.

(Reported Tuesday July 15th 1862)
William Passmore, the signal-man on board the "290" says, the men have no need to sign articles here as she is not a British vessel, she is for the Southerners. He believes her name to be "Florida". He, (Passmore) was in Her Majesty's Ship "Terrible" during the Crimean War was also a Garibaldian Volunteer and was in Palermo May 6th, the time they had a fight with the Neapolitans. There are men from all Navies, English, American Brazilian etc. There are two men from the "Sumter" s.s. There are one hundred men altogether.

(Reported Friday July 18, 1862)
----------WILLIAM PASSMORE'S REPORT----------
Met the seamen, say thirty in number, on Saturday (July 26, 1862) coming down Canning Street from the ship, playing "Dixie's Land" on a fife, concertina, and a cornopean and they all took 4.30 Woodside boat for Liverpool. They still kept playing "Dixie's Land" on board the ferry boat. Went up to one of the men and asked him when he thought the ship would be going out. He told me that their bed clothes and bedding were on board and that the boatswain had told those who intended to go in her, to hold themselves in readiness for early next week.

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.

(Reported Saturday July 26, 1862)
I, William Passmore, heard last night that the gunboat would haul into the river and sail today (Tuesday July 29th 1862) on a trial trip and would not return again. Her crew have been paid a half months advance on Monday July 28th.

(Reported Tuesday July 29th 1862)
"Donkey" rigged barque. "No. 290" as (gunboat) 1050 tons. Captain Butcher. Hull painted black. Round stern with twenty- two blank gallery, windows in same. Carvings on stern, gilt. Billet head, gilt; a red shield for figurehead, with a gilt anchor, about nine inches, on it. Bowsprit painted black. Jibboom scrape spar, heel painted, black. Fine main mizen, lower and topmasts bright. Spanker boom and gaff, yards crosstrees and booms, painted black. Black funnel or smoke stack with bright copper steam pipe forepart of same; funnel between fore and main masts. Mizen mast well aft and about 14 feet from the stern- rail, with great rake aft. Rigging chains painted black, outside of bulwarks. A bridge forward of the funnel on iron stanchions; railing round bridge painted red. Four iron swing davits, for two boats, each side between main and mizen masts; boats painted black outside and drab inside. Two iron swing davits at the stern for the captains gig. Flush deck. Has a lifting fan, which can be hoisted by steam power. The fan is solid brass. Entrances to cabin and engine room abaft main mast. Wheel abaft mizen mast, which has the following inscription round the rim "Aid Toi diever Diou T-Aidira*". Ball racks froward of each of the masts. Skylights to cabin, engine room etc. covered with wooden gratings. Inside of bulwark painted drab. According to the chalk marks on the deck she will carry three swivel guns. She has three double ports each side:- viz, forward amidships and aft, she will carry sixteen guns in all, swivels included.

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.

(Reported Monday July 14th 1862)
Reports have been misplaced J. J. R. (?)

----------------------------------------------------------------- --

On Friday, July 18th, two dozens of swords were taken on board the "290" s.s.

She has taken a crew (according to what the shipping master says) of between 90 and 100 men. The seamen signed articles to go to Nassau, Savannah or any other port or ports. They were told by the Captain, that when they should arrive at Nassau, any one who was willing, might remain by the vessel; any other person who did not wish to remain, would get their passage paid back to England by the Mail, as Captain Butcher was going to return by the Mail.

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).

(Reported Friday September 26, 1862)
A fireman belonging to the privateer "Alabama " was here some ten days ago, he having been sent home sick. He would not state where he had been landed; that he had recovered and was going out to join her again. He had his papers all right so as to enable him to get to her. He would go to Cardiff where he would ship in a vessel which is loading to go out to her. He states his share of prize money to be L1,000.

(Reported Tuesday February 24th 1863)
Michael Ganshela, one of the five men who came home in the "Agrippina" from the "Alabama" states that it is eight weeks today (Saturday February 28th 1863) since he left the "Alabama" off the Island of Cuba.

November 28th 1862.
This is to certify that Michael Ganshela is discharged from the Naval Service of the Confederate States, his discharge to take effect from the arrival of the barque** in England.
(signed) R.SEMMES.

------COPY OF ACCOUNT------

Please pay the bearer (Michael Ganshela) L26.19.2.
Messrs M.G.K.(Kilingender & Co.)
The above is the amount due to Michael Ganshela after deducting for shirts, clothes, etc. Ganshela resides at Trafalgar Place, Great Howard Street.

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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