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During the American Civil War, British Bermuda was a major transshipment point and blockade-running port, especially for the Confederate ports of Wilmington, N.C., and Charleston, S.C. British-owned and Confederate-owned blockade-runners crowded the island's harbor waiting for dark moonless nights to run the Union blockade.
Near Bermuda the Confederate raiders CSS Alabama, CSS Florida, and CSS Tacony captured and destroyed several Union vessels. The blockade-runners Mary Celestia and Nola were wrecked on Bermuda's reefs.
Golconda. Union. Whaling bark, 335 tons. Cargo of 1,800 barrels of whale oil. Out of New Bedford, Mass. En route for New Bedford from Talcahuano, Chile. Was captured by the CSS Florida off Florida at latitude 37° 28' north, longitude 72° west. After removing some whale oil, it was torched on July 8, 1864, off Bermuda. (ORN, 3:623, 645.)
Harriet Stevens. Union. Bark, 463 tons. Manned by a captain, two mates and six crewmen. Cargo of 285 pounds of gum opium, shooks, heads, spats, cement, and lumber. Out of Portland, Maine. En route for Cienfuegos, Cuba. Was captured, used for target practice, and burned by the CSS Florida on July 1, 1864, southwest of Bermuda at latitude 31° 33' north, longitude 64° 8' west. The opium was removed and sent through the blockade in the blockade-runner Lillian for the Confederate Medical Department. (ORN, 3:621-22, 645; Stern, Confederate Navy Pictorial History, 212-13.)
Levi Starbuck. Union. Whaling ship, 376 tons. Crew of 29. Out of New Bedford, Mass. En route to the Pacific Ocean whaling grounds. Was captured and burned by the CSS Alabama on November 2, 1862, off Bermuda near latitude 35° 40' north, longitude 66° west. The stores were removed. (ORN, 1:551, 780, 802; Semmes, Service Afloat, 493.)
Mary Celestia (Bijou) (Mary Celeste). British. Iron side-wheel steamer, 207 registered tons, 314 gross tons. Length 221 feet, beam 22 feet 1 inch, depth 10 feet 5 inches. Cargo of bacon, rifle-muskets, and ammunition. Built in 1864 at Liverpool, England. Hit a rock and sank in less than eight minutes, just south of Gibbs Lighthouse in 60 feet of water on September 26, 1864, in a sand patch surrounded by coral. This wreck is located at latitude 32° 12' 10" north, longitude 64° 42' 15" west. Extensively dived on and salvaged. Much of the vessel's hull collapsed. The boilers, engines, and paddlewheels remain. Surveyed by East Carolina University and the Bermuda Maritime Museum in 1983 and 1986. (ORN, 17:720-21: ser. 2, 1:67; LLC, 312; Bass, Ships and Shipwrecks of the Americas, 218, 228-29; Watts, "Bermuda and the American Civil War," International Journal of Nautical Archaeology and Underwater Exploration, 160-68, 170-71; Watts, "Runners of the Union Blockade," Archaeology, 37.)
Nola (Gloria) (Montana) (Paramount). British. Steel-hulled side-wheel steamer, 607 gross tons, 432 registered tons, 750 tons. Length 228 feet 5 inches or 236 feet, beam 25 feet, draft 13 feet 6 inches. Cargo of dry goods from Glasgow, Scotland. Built in 1863 at Greenock, Scotland. Driven ashore on a reef 7 miles northwest of Bermuda in the Western Blue Cut area off Ireland Island on December 30, 1863. The cargo and engines were salvaged. The wreck is located at a depth of 25 feet, with the upper works within 8 feet of the surface. East Carolina University and
Bermuda Maritime University surveyed the wreck in 1985 and 1986. About 70% of the hull structure is exposed. (Robinson and Gould, "Bermuda's Storybook Wreck," Skin Diver, 64-65; Bass, Ships and Shipwrecks of the Americas, 218, 228-29; LLC, 314; Watts, "Bermuda and the American Civil War," International Journal of Nautical Archaeology and Underwater Exploration, 160, 164-71; Watts, "Runners of the Union Blockade," Archaeology, 35-36.)
Roanoke. Union. Mail steamer, 1,071 tons. Carried $20,000 in specie, some cargo, fifty crewmen and thirty-five passengers. En route from Havana, Cuba, to New York City. Built in 1851 at New York City. Was captured 12 miles off Cuba by two or three Confederates posing as passengers led by Acting Master John C. Braine. One crew member was shot and thrown overboard. The Confederates were reinforced by twenty to thirty men from the Village Girl. The Confederates planned to run the blockade but abandoned their plan and burned the Roanoke on October 9, 1864, off Bermuda. (ORN, 3:229-48; MSV, 186.)
William C. Clarke. Union. Brig, 338 tons. Cargo of lumber. Out of Boston. En route from Mathias, Maine, to Mantanzas, Cuba. Was captured and burned by the CSS Tacony on June 17, 1864, at latitude 30° north, longitude 62° 40' west. (ORN, 3:618, 645.)
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