Mersey-Built Blockade-Runners of the American Civil War
British blockade-runners played an important role in the fortunes of the Southern States during the American Civil War and influenced the development of steamship design and speed. A large number of such vessels, mainly fast steel-hulled paddle steamers, were purpose-built in Mersey shipyards. They included the ‘Banshee’, the first steel vessel to make the Atlantic crossing, in 1863. By war’s end larger and more powerful vessels were being built for the purpose. The trade was dangerous, requiring courage and skill, and many ships were seized, sunk or destroyed. But it could be highly lucrative too. The article concludes with a contemporary account of an encounter with Federal cruisers.