Letter from James D Bulloch, 18 March 1865

old handwritten letter
Archive reference B/FT/1/6

This lengthy letter, written towards the end of the war, highlights the involvement of Fraser, Trenholm and Co in the funding of the Confederate cause. James Dunwoody Bulloch, agent for the Confederate Navy in Britain, has been asked to transfer £40,000 from Navy funds to meet bills drawn on Fraser, Trenholm and Co.

Writing from Liverpool to General CJ McRae and Fraser, Trenholm and Co, he states that to meet the demands of the Treasury Department above £40,000 would put an end to all his offensive operations.

Partial transcript:

"Rumford Court, Liverpool 18th March 1865

General C J McRae, Agent of the C.S. Treasury Dept., London
And Messrs Fraser Trenholm & Co, Depositaries of the CS Treasury Dept., Liverpool


I have learned partially by means of correspondence, but chiefly from numerous consultations with yourselves, that the available funds of the Treasure Dept. in Europe, are now wholly exhausted; that in consequence of this deficit you are unable to provide for the large outstanding liabilities of that Dept; and that you have been forced to suspend payment upon two or more Treasury Warrants, drawn upon the Depositaries for sums amounting in the aggregate to about Forty Thousand Pounds. I furthermore learn that you will very shortly make a requisition upon me, for not less that that amount, to take up the Warrants referred to, and that you consider their prompt payment not only equitable, in a mere business point of view, but absolutely essential to the preservation of the credit of the Government, and the continuation of its operations in Europe. In addition to the above I am informed that other Drafts are likely to be presented, at almost any moment, which you have not the means...

the Agents of the Government; and the opinion of the Commissioners of the Confederate States in favor of such a proceeding would be an indispensable act of justification. I have to request therefore that you Gentlemen will make a joint requisition upon me for Forty Thousand Pounds, stating the urgency of the demand, and that you will pledge me to the effect, that if at any time hereafter a draft upon me from the Navy Dept. or any person duly authorized to draw, should be presented by parties who have fair value for it, or one should be presented through a Bank, or in any other regular business way, you will furnish me the money to meet it to the extent of £40,000, out of any funds belonging to the Treasury Dept. in your possession at the time, to the exclusion of any Drafts or Warrants from any other sources, and you will also oblige me by stating whether, in your opinion, there is any probability of your being able to refund the said £40,000 to me within any specified time.

I am very respectfully

Your Obt. Servant
James D Bulloch"

Find out more about Liverpool and the American Civil War

This Maritime Archives and Library display is part of National Museums Liverpool's programme to mark the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War. From 2011-2015 there is a series of displays and a gallery trail highlighting Liverpool's involvement in the war; through the collections of Merseyside Maritime MuseumMaritime Archives and Library and the International Slavery Museum.

Liverpool and the American Civil War