The former offices of Fraser Trenholm & Company are tucked away, almost out of sight in Rumford Place, Liverpool, behind the Thistle Hotel a short distance from Liverpool's famous waterfront. Many Merseysiders probably don't even recognise their historical significance.
However, the building in Rumford Place was once the headquarters of Fraser, Trenholm & Company agents to the Confederate States of America and the operators of a regular packet service between Charleston and Liverpool
From these offices operated Commander James Dunwoody Bulloch CSN. Commander Bulloch had served in the US Navy during the Mexican War though he later resigned his commission and went to work as a captain for a US mail steamer company.
With Civil War looking increasingly likely, Bulloch joined the Confederate States Navy on 8th May 1861. He was then despatched to Liverpool by the CSN Naval Secretary, Stephen Mallory.
Bulloch had been instructed to buy or have constructed steam powered destroyers which would be used as commerce raiders against the United States merchantmen. One of the most famous of these CSS ALABAMA was built at Laird's yard Birkenhead. She was described by Laird's as "the finest cruiser in the world".
CSS ALABAMA was built at Laird Brothers and departed from the Mersey on 29 July 1862 under the command of Cunard line master Capt. M.J. Butcher.
At Moelfre, Anglesey she spent two days preparing for sea. On 31st July she set sail, landing Commander Bulloch and the pilot at the Giant's Causeway, Ireland. She then headed for Azores where she rendevoued with the CSS AGRIPPA loading stores, guns and ammunition. On the 13th August Capt. Raphael Semmes CSN took command of the vessel. Eleven days later CSS ALABAMA was commissioned into the Confederate States Navy to the sound of the stirring national anthem - "Dixie".
CSS ALABAMA had a short but outstanding career with the Confederate States Navy in which she captured and burnt 55 US vessels whiilst taking another 10 as prizes.
Unfortunately lack of maintenance resulting from the pressures of war took its toll and by June 1864 she was in no fit state to take on the USS KEARSAGE off Cherbourg, France. Unfortunately KEARSAGE's gained the upper hand and the ALABAMA's crew were forced to abadon ship. Many of the ALABAMA's crew and Captain Semmes were rescued by the crew of the private steam yacht DEERHOUND, also Laird built, and taken to Southampton.
On landing Captain Semmes and his crew received a hero's welcome, officers of the Royal Navy presented him with a gold mounted sword before he returned to the CSA
Commander Bulloch, remained in Liverpool after the conclusion of hostilities. He died in1901 and is buried in Smithdown Road Cemetary, Liverpool. His gravestone reads "American by Birth - Englishman by Choice"