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Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 31.djvu/80

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Southern Historical Society Papers

Those in the party were Matthew F. Maury, John R. Hamilton, Captain Littlepage, Dan Trigg, H. H. Marmaduke and Captain James North. Captain Bullock was to command one of monitors and Captain North the other.

"The party were beached at Eleuthera Island for two days. Then a wrecking vessel came to their relief and towed their ship to Nassau. They arrived in England in August.

"The agents of the United States government in England found out the intentions of the Confederates in regard to the Laird monitors and reported the matter to Secretary Seward. The latter filed a protest through Minister Adams, and England held up the two vessels.

"The Confederate officers then invoked the aid of Bravay Bros., French bankers, who announced that they would purchase the monitors from Laird Bros., and that they were the agents of the Khedive of Egypt in the transaction. Their real plan, was to turn them over to the Confederates. The British government sent a secret messenger to the Khedive, who denied all knowledge of the matter.

"Upon this Secretary Seward notified the British and the French governments that if the Lairds were allowed to deliver the two boats to Bullock and North, the United States would consider it an act of war on the part of Great Britain, and, if Bravay Brothers bought them and delivered them, an act of war on the part of France. In December, 1864, England confiscated the two boats and reimbursed their cost to the Confederate government.

"The English papers said at the time that superiority of the Scorpion and the Wivern to the other vessels of the British navy was a disgrace to England. The two monitors had the defective armor of the Monitor and Merrimac and were fitted with revolving turrets. If they could have been secured by the Confederacy the blockades might have been raised and the effect upon the result of the war might have been very great.

"In view of the fact that the Scorpion had been used of late years as a target for British war vessels in the West Indies, an old Confederate sailor wrote to the Association of Confederate Veterans suggesting that she be bought by the association and preserved as a relic. His letter reached New Orleans in the last week of May, two days after the convention had closed its annual session and too late, therefore, to receive attention. It was published in the New Orleans papers and a movement was started to carry out the plan."