The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #122144 Message #2682915
Posted By: Les from Hull
18-Jul-09 - 02:39 PM
Thread Name: BS: British support for the confederacy?
Subject: RE: BS: British support for the confederacy?
I'm sure that Britain wouldn't have minded there being two Americas, but at the time America's status was very inferior to that of the British Empire, the French Empire, the Russian Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Ottoman Empire. It was still a very Euro-centric world, and the British and French had just fought a war to maintain the balance of power in Eastern Europe. Just because over the next century the USA became much more important doesn't mean that its importance at the time should be over-estimated. Important, yes, but not vitally important. When the most-influential reporter of the time, William Howard Russell of the 'Times', visited the Southern States at the beginning of the War he was amazed that the 'Southern Gentlemen' thought that Britain would support the Confederacy because of the effect of King Cotton. Russell thought this a 'grievous delusion'.
The ships built for the Confederacy were built under a smokescreen of false information. The turret rams Mississippi and North Carolina were being built by Lairds at Birkenhead supposedly for the Egyptian Government. When the true destination became known they were seized by the British Government and later purchased for the Royal Navy. The French Government prevented the two ships building at Bordeaux from reaching the Confederacy. The unarmoured British-built ships that served the Confederacy (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Shenandoah etc) were fitted out as warships either at sea or in foreign ports.
The idea of USN ships going up the Mersey and destroying the Laird Rams is one of the most ludicrous things I've ever heard. Firstly they didn't have any ships that could do it. Secondly the Royal Navy was by far the strongest navy in the World. Thirdly, Britain would have certainly declared war on the United States.