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The CSS Map Free , the most successful of the confederate raiders, was built Free by John Laird and Sons. Unarmed when she sailed out in 1862 as the Free (in an attempt to confuse watching Union spies), her reinforced decks, cannon emplacements and powder magazines below the waterline meant the Alabama was immediately combat ready when her big British-made guns were added in the Azores in Portugal. Powered by wind, sail and a single propeller driven by two 300 HP (horse power) horizontal steam engines she could, using her boilers, reach a speed of 24 kilometres per hour, or 13 knots to use the maritime terminology of that time. With the screw retracted, that dropped to 10 knots under sail. Before being sunk off Freeby the steam sloop USS Free, the CSS Alabama had captured or sunk some sixty-five union ships and taken two thousand prisoners, without a single loss of life.

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Then, having fired the final shot of the conflict across the bow of a whaler in the Aleutian Islands in the North Pacific Ocean, the Alabama’s fellow raider, the CSS Shenandoah, dropped anchor in the Mersey alongside HMS Donegal and struck her colours. That was the last time (6 November 1865) the Stars and Bars, the red Confederacy battle flag with white stars on a blue St Andrew’s cross, flew officially on a ship of war. The Mayor of Liverpool formally accepted Captain Waddell’s surrender of his crew at the Town Hall and, though the Union wanted them for piracy, the English justice system freed the Shenandoah sailors, many of whom were British. And Liverpool was not the only town in the British Empire to provide support for the southern cause. From 25 January to 18 February 1865, the crew and captain of the Shenandoah were much feted in Melbourne, where she also took on supplies and forty new crew members, partly to replace eighteen who very sensibly deserted and remained in Australia.

The American Civil War was a disaster for both Liverpool and Manchester. Because of the immediate Union blockade of New Orleans, Mobile and other southern US ports at the outset of hostilities, annual cotton exports dropped from ten million to 500,000 bales. Lancashire fell on very hard times, with starvation and massive unemployment. My great-grandparents, cotton weavers Nanny Holden (or Olding) and Thomas Chippendale married at aged nineteen and twenty, respectively, in 1855 near the mill town of Great Harwood. In 1863, likely as an assisted passenger, Thomas sailed from Liverpool to Moreton Bay (Brisbane) on the Black Ball Line’s Saldanha. Two years later, Nanny and their two children, Fielding and Alice, left Liverpool on the Golden Land, also a Black Ball ship. Thomas and

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