Some of them survived for many years, the "Eagle" having an adventurous career as ablockade-runner in the American Civil War. Captured by the Federals, she was sold by themand once more engaged in blockade-running, continuing to trade with the Confederate portsas long as the Confederates had a port for her to enter.In February, 1855, just a year before the great hurricane, the steamers in Bowling Bay werefrozen in, so that it was impossible to get them out and the resumption of sailings to Loch Goilhad to be postponed for a fortnight in consequence, but since these two exceptional years wecannot trace that frost or storm has ever caused any inconvenience to the occupants of Bowling Bay.
THE PURCHASES OF
THE EMPEROR OF CHINA
"from Andrew McQueen's "Echoes of Old Paddle Wheels" (1924) and "Clyde River Steamers of The Last Fifty Years" (1923)When President Lincoln, on 19th April, 1861, declared a blockade of all the seaports of theseceding States, the Federal Government was not in possession of a sufficiency of ships torender it effective. For some time the trade of the threatened ports remained unaffected, andvessels arrived and departed without hindrance, but after a lapse of some months Federalgunboats began to make their appearance and some captures were made.It was evident that, if communication with the blockaded ports was to be maintained, specialmeasures would require to be taken. The blockade threatened not only to force the surrenderof these ports by cutting off supplies from without, but also, by stopping the export of cotton,to create a famine in that indispensable commodity all over the world.Obviously, if communication could be maintained in spite of the blockade, the enterprise wascertain to be lucrative, the inhabitants of the ports, threatened with starvation, would bewilling to pay good prices for the necessaries of life and that not in worthless greenbacks butin honest cotton, for which, in turn, the Lancashire spinners would outbid one another, in orderto secure material to keep their machinery going. There was always the risk of losing ship and cargo by capture, but when everything wasweighed up the prospects were decidedly bright. All depended on the obtaining of the properkind of vessels and the proper men to sail them. The blockading ships were not, as a rule, distinguished either for speed or handiness, and thedifficulty of their task was increased by the fact that most of the harbours could be entered byseveral channels. Many of these channels were narrow and winding, strewn with reefs andshoals and accessible only to handy craft of shallow draught, in the hands of expert localpilots. The pilots were obtainable; their services commanded high prices, but these couldeasily be afforded from the profits of a successful run, and the attention of the intendingblockade-runners was directed to the securing of ships ready to hand for immediate use.Naturally the Clyde's reputation for steamship production attracted them and, by the middle of 1862, we find overtures being made to the owners of fast channel and river-craft for thepurchase of their vessels. The would-be purchasers showed no anxiety to reveal their identity,or the trade for which the vessels were destined; the latter was usually referred to in generalterms as the "South American trade" while the purchases were occasionally attributed to "aSpanish firm", or, morefrequently, to the "Emperor of China".Nassau, in The Bahamas, some six or seven hundred miles distant, was the head-quarters of the traffic, a traffic so lucrative, although attended with big risks, that a couple of successfultrips were usually sufficient to clear the whole cost of the vessel and leave a profit.2