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Heritage & News - August 2006

Liverpool Graves Update by Bob Jones I

t is the centenary of the death of Captain John Low who died in 1906 and was buried in St. Thomas' churchyard, Golborne on the 10 September of that year. Last year I visited the grave, only to discover that it was tilting rather alarmingly to one side. The local regulations say that if a gravestone is in a 'dangerous condition' it will be pushed over to prevent any accidents. I did not want to see this happen to the memorial to Low, and contacted a friend in Scarborough who lists all American Civil War dead who are buried in Great Britain and Ireland. He in turn passed the information along to a group of re-enactors in the Lancashire area, and they have been working to clean up the stone and possibly straighten it up. As you may be aware, the cost of such work, which needs either stonemasons or heavy lifting gear, or even both, is rather expensive and funds are low. But the clean up of the stone has been done, as you can see from the photos of the work in progress. It is hoped to have a graveside service at St, Thomas' later this year to mark the centenary, and I have been in touch with descendants of Low, in New Zealand, and the USA, and it is possible that members of the family in those places and Australia and Canada could attend the ceremony. Whilst it is interesting to learn of the wartime exploits of people like Semmes and Maffitt and others, I was in awe of the post war life of Captain John Low. From 1867 to 1884 he was the manager of a cotton mill in Golborne owned by Mr John Brewis. During the cotton strike of 1884 John Low and his wife visited the workers homes to see that they had food on the table and coal for the fire as it was January of that year. This action kept him forever in the hearts and mind of the ordinary folk of not only those in Golborne, but also the surrounding villages too. At an evening to say farewell to the 'Captain' and his wife a presentation was made to which the workers subscribed from their hard earned pay. They raised about £30, and Low was touched by this gesture. I was concerned at the deterioration of the Bulloch graves in Toxteth cemetery, and whilst speaking to a lady at the St John's Waterloo History Group earlier this year I showed her a picture of the cross that is now missing from Irvine Stephens Bulloch's grave. She contacted a man from the Friends of Liverpool Monuments who put a short notice on his web site to try and gain some interest to help us to raise funds for the restoration of the graves. A free-lance journalist for the Liverpool Daily Post picked up on this, and ran an article in the paper in March. JOHN LOW - A Scottish Raider John Low was born in Aberdeen 24th January 1836. His parents died soon after his birth and he was raised by relatives in England. He joined the Merchant Navy at 16, but settled in Savannah in 1856 and opened a merchant supply business. He first enlisted as a Private in the Georgia Hussars on the 19th January 1861 but soon left to take up an appointment in the Confederate Navy as a Lieutenant. Commander James Bulloch the Confederacy representative in Liverpool asked for Low's services as his assistant to acquire ships for the cause. Low sailed as an officer with Bulloch in the 'Fingal' later to become the CSS 'Atlanta'), converted her to a warship at sea and arrived in Savannah on the 12th November 1861 with a cargo of 15,000 Enfield Rifles and 4 cannon. Low returned to Liverpool in March 1862 and then delivered the 'Oreto' renamed CSS 'Florida' to Lt John N. Maffit in Nassau. Next he sailed with the 'Enrica' renamed CSS 'Alabama' as 4th Lieutenant under Captain Raphael Semmes and 1st Lieutenant John Maclntosh Kell. When the 'Alabama' captured the 'Conrad' on the 21st June 1863, Semmes renamed her the CSS 'Tuscaloosa' and appointed Low in command. In the 'Tuscaloosa', he captured the ‘Santee’, which had a British owned cargo, which he ransomed for $150,000. He made a few other captures but the British seized his ship in Simon's Bay, South Africa on the 26th December 1863. In February 1864 after his return to Liverpool he was promoted to the rank of 1st Lieutenant dating from 6th January and he continued as Bulloch's assistant. He tried to sail the CSS 'Ajax' back to the Confederacy in 1865 but was detained in Bermuda and when learning of the defeat of the Confederacy he sailed her back to Liverpool. American Civil War Weekend: American Museum, Saturday 23 & 24 –September During the afternoons of this weekend, members of the Southern Skirmish Association re-enact scenes from the American Civil War, producing a realistic spectacle with bursting shells, burning barricades and attacking infantrymen. Entry by admission to grounds. 2 - 5 pm. Visitors will be able to chat to the uniformed participants and see their fascinating exhibition. This spectacle has become one of the high points of the year at the American Museum. Come and experience living history at its most vivid. The 10 Most Endangered Battlefield Sites 2006 (Courtesy of the CWPT) Gettysburg, Pa., where a casino is proposed to be built a mile from East Cavalry Field. The most visited battlefield in the country, Gettysburg witnessed the war's largest and bloodiest battle in July 1863. Shenandoah Valley, Va., where a consortium of developers wants to double the width of busy 1-81, a major trucking artery that runs the length of the Valley. The Cedar Creek battlefield and 10 others are threatened by the loss of ground and a significant increase in noise and visual pollution. Chattahoochee River Line, Ga., where "immense suburban development" has devastated the defensive line that Confederate Gen. Joseph E. Johnston set up along the northern bank of the river in the wake of the battle of Kennesaw Mountain. Most of the features of the line "have been destroyed by property owners who feared that historic details would impede development plans." Glodeta Pass, N.M., where heavy traffic along Route 50, which runs through the heart of the battlefield, keeps the site closed to visitors. They can only view through their car windows the battlefield where Federal forces finally turned back the Southern invasion of New Mexico, ending dreams of a Southern republic stretching to the Pack. Circle Forts, Washington, D.C., where growing neighborhoods have largely absorbed the ring of 68 fortifications erected to protect the Union capital. "None are preserved as thoroughly as their rich heritage deserves." Fort Morgan, Ala., which has fallen into "significant disrepair." Safety concerns have closed portions of the site to the public and its future management is uncertain. Here on Mobile Bay in the summer of 1864 Union Adm. David Farragut attempted to pass the fort, uttering his famous "Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!" The fort fell after an 18-day Federal bombardment. Glendale, Va., where construction has begun on three housing projects surrounding the battlefield, with three more planned. Here at Glendale, or Frayser's Farm, savage fighting caused 6,500 casualties and marked the fifth day of the famous 1862 Seven Days Campaign around Richmond. New Orleans Forts, La., where intense damage caused by Hurricane Katrina last year has compromised the structural integrity of two forts that stand on opposite banks of the Mississippi River 70 miles south of New Orleans. In the spring of 1862 the two garrisons held Adm. Farragut's flotilla at bay for a week before Union gunboats broke through to capture New Orleans. Today it is "entirely uncertain" when it will be safe for the public to return to these sites. Raymond, Miss., where development pressure is rising along Highway 18, which connects the battlefield to the nearby suburbs of Jackson. Only 65 acres of the 1,000-acre battlefield are protected, although Raymond was a "major turning point" in Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant's Vicksburg Campaign. Wilderness, Va., where Orange County "is transforming itself from a largely rural area to a suburban community with immense population growth and proposed home construction," threatening parts of the battlefield not protected by the National Park Service. Here 25,000 dead and wounded were left in the Wilderness after two days of fighting in May 1864.

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