James Ford Rhodes (18481927). History of the Civil War, 18611865 1917.
advanced in construction was seized, and the next day the Broad Arrow was likewise put upon the other. The Lairds were annoyed at this action, and their operatives showed much ill feeling. In order to defeat any attempt at rescue the ships were watched by a powerful naval force. The question whether the iron-clads should be condemned was never passed upon by the courts. Neither the government nor the owners were eager to run the chances of a trial. In the end, as the best way out of the complication, the vessels were purchased by the British Admiralty.
Stopping these iron-clads is a question of life or death, wrote Fox, assistant Secretary of the Navy.1 They were indeed formidable vessels of war and had they got away would undoubtedly have broken the blockade at Charleston and Wilmington; and as the blockade, constantly growing in efficiency, was a potent weapon on the Northern side, the harm would have been incalculable: the victories even of Gettysburg and Vicksburg might have been neutralized. Bulloch deemed that our iron-clads might sweep the blockading fleet from the sea front of every harbor, ascend the Potomac and render Washington itself untenable, and lay Portsmouth (N. H.) and Philadelphia under contribution. From some such damage, Earl Russell, by his careful and decisive action, had saved the North and thereby prevented a war between the United States and Great Britain, which the energy of Bulloch and the sympathy and cupidity of a firm of Birkenhead ship-builders had come near bringing about. The seizure of the rams was a serious blow to the Confederate cause.2