Protected Status For Bermuda-Bound Wreck

August 30, 2019

The wreck of a British blockade runner that sank on its maiden voyage while en route to Bermuda during the American Civil War was this week granted protected status in the UK.

The paddle steamer Lelia, laden with armaments and supplies for the Confederacy, went down during a January, 1865 storm shortly after leaving Liverpool.

Forty-seven crew members drowned, as did seven members of a rescue party, when the 252-foot ship foundered in Liverpool Bay.

The sinking of the Bermuda-bound Leila as depicted in a contemporary print

Protected Status For Bermuda-Bound Wreck Bermuda Aug 2019

The Historic England cultural heritage body said the wreck, discovered in the 1990s, was “significant as historical evidence”.

A steel-hulled paddle steamer purpose-built at Millers shipyard in Liverpool to evade Union warships blockading Confederate ports, Leila’s final destination was Wilmington, North Carolina.

Bermuda, along with the Bahamas and Cuba, was a favoured stop-over point of blockade runners which exchanged weapons and other supplies for the Confederate cotton required to keep British textile mills operating.

While officially neutral during the war between the Union and the slave-holding Confederacy, British officials largely turned a blind eye to the activities of blockade runners operating out of their ports

“The Lelia is highly representative of British complicity in attempting to run the Union blockade during the American Civil War of 1861-1865;” said Historic England in announcing the wreck’s designation as a protected site.

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