| A newspaper article regarding the 1863
annual meeting of the Wilmington & Manchester RR (NP,
WJ 11-25-63) tells of the railroad's
attempt to get supplies through the blockade by buying a $100,000
share of a blockade runner and names the vessel in question -- the
Merrimac. The reports of the President and Superintendent,
published the next day, do not name the vessel, but the Merrimac
fits the other facts available.
|Wise, Lifeline of the Confederacy
| p. 312: Sold to the Confederate
Government in December, 1862. Made a run into Wilmington April 13,
1863. Sold to Richard Bradley, who represented the interests of
Joseph Anderson, owner of Tredegar Iron Works. Captured by the USS
Magnolia July 24, 1863 while trying to escape from Wilmington.
| p. 97 "The second vessel
purchased by Huse was the Merrimac, an extremely fast
side-wheeler. In buying the vessel, the Confederacy was solving a
long-standing problem. The Merrimac had been owned by Z. C.
Pearson and Company, who had accepted a Confederate contract to
bring in a cargo that included three 8-inch Blakely rifled cannon
and 1,100 barrels of gunpowder. Pearson was to receive payment on
delivery of the goods.
| The Merrimac and her valuable cargo
arrived at St. George on September 5, 1862, enroute from London to
Nassau. Before she could continue her voyage, Pearson and Company
declared bankruptcy and their creditors seized the Merrimac.
Southern agents were unable to separate their cargo from the
impounded steamer and, as a result, Huse found it necessary to
purchase the vessel and her cargo for L7,000. Once in the hands of
the Confederacy, the Merrimac was made ready for sea and on April
13, 1863, under the command of S. G. Porter, ran into Wilmington.
The three Blakely guns, each capable of firing a 170-pound
projectile, were divided up, one going to Vicksburg and the
remaining two being kept for the defense of Wilmington. One was
placed at Fort Fisher at New Inlet while the other was positioned
at Fort Caswell at Old Inlet.
| The Merrimac never again went to sea
for the Ordnance Bureau. Though she had been an extremely fast
vessel, reported to have made eighteen knots on her trials, her
engines became fouled, and Gorgas sold her to private
|Dew, Ironmaker to the Confederacy
| p. 200-1 "The problem was
getting the cotton out of the Confederacy. After the War
Department declined to permit Anderson and Company to ship on
government steamers, the Tredegar owners decided to send the
cotton abroad on their own vessel. In May and June 1863, the
members of the firm subscribed a total of $100,000 in two new
joint stock exporting companies organized by prominent Richmond
commission merchants and businessmen. Shortly after they had made
these investments, the Tredegar partners saw a much better chance
to ship their cotton to foreign ports and they quickly seized the
opportunity. In late June, they learned that they could acquire an
interest in a blockade-runner undergoing repairs at Wilmington.
The Merrimac, a fast iron paddle-steamer originally built for
opium smuggling along the China coast, had sustained engine damage
and the War Department had sold the vessel to a group of
Wilmington men. Anderson and Company acquired a quarter interest
in the ship and its cargo of cotton for some $250,000 by promising
to make the Tredegar facilities available for necessary repairs.
After a trip to Wilmington in early July to inspect the ship and
talk to the owners, Anderson and Tanner hurried back to Richmond
to rush the needed parts to completion. Anderson, evidently
forgetting about the tools for his burnt workshops, promptly
negotiated a contract with the Ordnance Bureau for freighting arms
out of Bermuda.
| When news of Lee's defeat at
Gettysburg reached Richmond, the Tredegar management wired the
Wilmington syndicate to "Hurry out our vessel... This is an
anxious moment." The ship sailed shortly after the urgent
message from Richmond, but the Union blockaders were waiting for
the sleek vessel. The U. S. Steam Sloop Iroquois captured the
Merrimac and its cargo of tobacco, turpentine, and 642 bales of
cotton on July 24, 1863, forty miles off the coast of North
Carolina, "She is reported to be very fast (16 to 18 knots),
certainly looks it, and I am satisfied would not have been caught
by us if she had been properly managed," reported the captain
of the Iroquois.
| The Tredegar's initial venture into
the risky business of blockade-running proved disastrous. The
company's bookkeeper recorded an expense of $244,167 under "Stmr
Merrimac" when he totaled the profit and loss figures for
1863. The Richmond industrialists had some slight consolation in
that none of their cotton purchased in April, May and June was on
board the vessel."