Monday, November 14, 2011

November 14, 1861 (Wednesday): The Fingal Arms

The CSS Fingal

RICHMOND, November 14, 1861.

  Out of about 9,000 rifles, I have assigned half to General Lee's command and the other half to General A. S. Johnston's command.  General Lee will therefore have 4,500, which, when added to the 1,100 brough in for Georgia, makes 5,000 arms for the defense of Charleston and Savannah.  As soon as I get the account of the cannon on board I will appropriate to the same purpose every piece that I can fairly assign to your coast.  I shall know in a day or two what is possible.
                                                                                                      J. P. BENJAMIN,
                                                                                                 Acting Secretary of War.
Official Records, Series. I., Vol.. 6, Page 321

The Confederates managed to procure, through agents in England, the iron hulled steamer Fingal.  At Greenock it was secretly loaded on October 8 with 11,000 Enfield rifles, 24,000 pounds of gunpowder, 500,000 cartridges, 1,000,000 percussion caps, two Blakely cannons, two smaller cannons, blankets, sabres, and drugs (total value 48,000 British pounds).  It ran aground just below Fort Pulaski just before the Union attack on Port Royal Sound.  The entire cargo was off loaded and divided up among Confederate forces as described in this letter to Governor Brown of Georgia.  This incident is little noted by history, but the providential arrival of these arms played a key part in keeping the Union from fully exploiting the advantage gained in the landing on Hilton Head.  It also supplied badly needed guns to Albert Sydney Johnston's Army in the West.

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