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Spotlight On: James Dunwoody Bulloch

James Dunwoody Bulloch

In 1861 Waterloo was at the centre of a spy ring created by an American secret agent called James Dunwoody Bulloch. Bulloch was a captain in the army of the Confederate States of America and had been sent to England with a mission to raise money for the cause, and commission ships to break the blockade of Confederate held ports.

He arrived with $1 million to commission 6 vessels including the famed CSS Alabama and chose Liverpool as the centre of operations due to the strong cotton links with the southern states and because Lairds shipbuilders was on the doorstep.

James Bulloch was born in Georgia in 1823 and had been a captain in the US navy before joining a private shipping company. When the state of Georgia seceded in 1861 with the other southern states to form the Confederacy, Bulloch could not turn his back on his home state. He offered his services to the Confederacy.

However, the Union navy set up a blockade of southern ports, stopping all shipping, so there was a need to get ships from elsewhere to break the blockade and take the fight to the enemy. Bulloch was appointed to commission ships in secret and he came to Liverpool, ostensibly as a private individual, to do it.

Captain Bulloch brought his family over to provide cover for his operations, but it was a risky business. Bulloch was forced to move regularly to avoid capture by Union agents and in Waterloo alone, he lived in houses on Marine Terrace, Cambridge Road and Wellington Terrace.

His greatest achievement was to commission and successfully launch the CSS Alabama, a surface raider and blockade runner. In its short life, this ship boarded 447 ships, taking 2000 Union prisoners.

However, it was cornered and sunk in a naval battle off the coast of Cherbourg in 1864.

When the Confederate cause was lost in 1865, Bulloch was branded a traitor, with a warrant for his arrest for treason. Forced to live in exile from his beloved home in Georgia, Captain Bulloch spent the rest of his days working as a cotton merchant, living in Waterloo and Liverpool where he died in 1901.

He was never pardoned by the US Government. Patriot or traitor – you decide.

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