Book review

James D Bulloch: Secret Agent and Mastermind of the Confederate Navy

By Walter E Wilson & Gary L McKay

 

Review By Len Ellison

 

The authors have spent many hours meticulously researching this book and have completed a wonderful job. The book is a must have for anyone interested in the American Civil War. It not only describes Bulloch's connection with the Confederate Navy but his important connection with the 26th US President Theodore Roosevelt, (who called him Uncle Jimmy).

 

 

 


World War 2 General Bradley said "Amateurs study strategy, professionals study logistics". Bulloch's development of global logistical support for his commerce raiders is a commonly over looked factor in their success. Also in the field of blockade-running logistics Bulloch achieved his greatest success.

 

The authors describe Bulloch as a man universally lauded for his integrity, hard work and ingenuity. He was also a sensitive soul who cared deeply about his family, friends and the many sailors and their families who depended on him. There are many stories in the book which did not appear in Bulloch's memoirs written in 1888, two of the more important stories are about the SS Bienville and the assassination of President Lincoln.

 

Although Bulloch was always renowned for his integrity, he failed to say in his memoirs, was when he return the SS Bienville back to New York April 1861 and then resigned his commission to join the Confederate navy he owned 10% of the shares in the ship. He knew that the US Navy would buy the ship and he would get his money. However he did not receive his $8,958.83 until Theodore Roosevelt applied for the money in 1874.

 

The authors found another interesting story during their research. Confederate Secretary of the Navy Stephen Mallory asked Bulloch transfer $31,507 from secret fund to the account of Captain Patrick Martin, a blockade runner out of Canada, to enable him to buy provisions and clothing. In fact Bulloch's payment supported Martin's involvement with James Wilkes Booth who was planning the abduction of President Lincoln.

 

In December 1864 Martin's ship perished in a storm. During the salvage of the vessel, they found in the cargo what was supposed to be Booth's ''theatrical wardrobe". In fact it was full swords and pistols, to be used for the abduction of Lincoln. The written record provides no indication that Bulloch had any inkling of Martin's true mission or how the provisions a ordinance would be employed. Although Martin went down with his ship in the storm, his project later morphed into the assassination of President Lincoln. When John Surrat, the last surviving member of the Lincoln assassination conspiracy, arrived in Liverpool in 1865 Bulloch had to maintain a low profile.

 

This book will prove to be the requirement of any student of James Bulloch for many years come.