Following on from my Victorian Graffiti post where I mentioned graffiti that had been carved during the time of the American Civil War (1861–65), I came across a post from Helen Abbott on Memories of Ardrossan‘s Facebook page regarding Ardrossan’s part in this war;

British officials debated intervention in the first 18 months of the American Civil War. Elite opinion tended to favour the Confederacy (after all, Scotland and the UK prospered from cotton, sugar and grain from the South and, Scotland in particular, supplied ships and munitions to the South), while public opinion tended to favour the North and its anti-slavery stance.

Large scale trade continued in both directions, with the Americans shipping grain to Britain and Britain sending manufactured items, ships and munitions to America.

Immigration continued into the U.S., with Britons volunteering for the Union Army and British trade with the Confederacy fell over 90% (from pre-war), with a little cotton going to Britain and some munitions slipped in by numerous small blockade runners. The blockade runners were operated and funded by British private interests; they were legal under international law and were not a cause of dispute between Washington and London (at least not officially).

Flag_of_the_Confederate_States_of_America_(1861-1863).svg      union flag

1864 GLENAVON, Barque, 789t, Ardrossan to New York,

Cargo: Iron,
Ship caught by the Confederate Cruiser Ship TALAHASSE, (a confederate merchant raider)
During the American civil war. The Glenavon was burned and scuttled, 22 Officers, Crew, and Passengers transferred to the barque Atlantic (Russian ship).

1864 August 13th — Extract from CCS Talahasse (pictured), ship’s Log:

It was scarcely daylight before two sail were reported, and in a few moments both were Tallahassee_Ship_Drawingalongside. One was an English vessel, which, of course, we could not touch; the other, the barque Glenavon, of Thomaston, Maine, from Ardrossan to New York, with a cargo of pig-iron.
This was a fine, new barque, with splendid spars and double topsail yard.

The captain had his wife on board,–a brave, good woman,–and a female servant. There were two passengers in the cabin, an old sea captain and his wife, the latter a perfect termagant, and very offensive to all on board. Her tongue was never idle, and her time about equally divided between abusing her husband, who bore it like a lamb, and distributing testaments and tracts among our men. The art of making everybody disagreeable was carried to perfection with this horrible woman, and the scoldings she gave the poor captain who was tied to her apron string struck every one dumb with astonishment. The last act of revenge on the poor man was just as she was leaving the side, when the old lady, in a fit of anger, tore off her new bonnet and threw it in the sea.

We (CCS TALAHASSE) got a quantity of mess stores from the Glenavon, a few luxuries, some hams, a coop of chickens, and two pigs. After removing all things of immediate service to us, Lieutenant Ward had her scuttled, and she sank rapidly. Before we were out of sight she went down by the head, and sank forever beneath the ocean. It seemed a pity to destroy such a noble craft, and I looked upon our work with sorrow.

*Note: Although a sad ending for a fine ship, I love the ‘official ship’s log’ description of the old sea captain’s wife. “The art of making everybody disagreeable was carried to perfection“. Very sharp humour.

I hope you enjoyed this historical connection to Ardrossan and the connection with the date in which some graffiti carved on the pews of the Barony St. John church …. and huge thanks once again to Helen Abbott for some of the historical information regarding the Glenavon.

If you’d like to know more about the work we are doing to save and restore the iconic Barony St. John buildings, or to lend a hand, or simply to know about our charity, feel free to comment below, visit our website or visit our Facebook page – The Scottish Centre for Personal Safety.

Until next time, stay safe.

Alan Bell

The Ardross-man