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Laurel

 

(ScStr: t. 386 dw.; dr. 11'; s. 13 k.)

 

Laurel was a new, reputedly fast, 140-horsepower, Liverpool packet, Clyde-built by A. and J. Inglis to ply the Irish Sea to Sligo. The Confederacy's Comdr. James D. Bulloch bought her on 4 October 1864 at Liverpool. She cleared the 9th, ostensibly "for Matamoras, Mexico, via Havana and Nassau," the same day as Sea King from London and carrying a larger than ordinary crew.

 

Commanded in fact by Lt. John F. Ramsay, CSN, whoever her titular "master," Laurel rendezvoused at Funchal, Madeira, with Sea King, about to be commissioned CSS Shenandoah. The steamer brought the cruiser her new commander, Lt. James I. Waddell, CSN, all but one of her officers, her prospective crew members (British), guns, ammunition and stores. In the group was a nucleus of veterans from Alabama, including her Chief Bos'n George Harwood to persuade his fellow-countrymen to enlist—including as many as possible of Laurel's surplus hands.

 

Laurel arrived first, coaled and went outside to meet Sea King upon her arrival; she transferred men and gear to Sea King, then departed for Teneriffe to land 33 crewmen unwilling to ship under Confederate articles. Continuing on to Nassau to keep up appearance of completing a commercial voyage, Laurel then ran into Wilmington, N.C., prepared to load cotton.

 

Secretary Mallory, deciding 16 December that Laurel's 11.6-knot actual top speed was not enough and 11 feet with only 500 bales was too deep draught for the Cape Fear entrances, wrote Comdr. Bulloch, "I have directed the sale of the Laurel." Next day he wrote, "Lt. Ramsay arrived in Richmond and upon his representations the Secretary of the Treasury [George Trenholm] decided to take the Laurel at cost to us, and load her with cotton for Liverpool on account of the Treasury. Her register will be changed and she will be consigned to Messrs. Fraser, Trenholm & Co. [Liverpool]. Lieutenant Ramsay will remain in command." Laurel was duly renamed Confederate States and survived the war, becoming Walter Stanhope, still under British register, and finally Peter Hutcheson's Niobe of Glasgow, also losing a mast at this time.