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Irvine Bulloch

Irvine Stephens Bulloch (25 June18427 January1898) was an officer in the Confederate Navy and the youngest officer on the famed warship CSS Alabama. He fired its last shot before it was sunk off the coast of France at the end of the American Civil War. He was the half-brother of James Dunwoody Bulloch and a full brother of Martha Bulloch. Martha was the mother of future U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt and the grandmother of Eleanor Roosevelt.

Childhood

Bulloch was born in Roswell, Georgia, and was the half brother of James Dunwoody Bulloch. They moved to Roswell, Georgia, and grew up in the beautiful antebellum mansion, Bulloch Hall.

Naval service in the Confederacy

In 1861 Bulloch served as a midshipman aboard the CSS Nashville, visiting the port of Southampton in England. The Nashville returned to the Confederate States of America, and the James River squadron, where she was renamed the Rattlesnake.

Midshipman Bulloch was then posted to England for foreign service and he served with distinction aboard the CSS Alabama. Irvine's illustrious nephew, President Theodore Roosevelt, maintained that Irvine fired the last two shots from that vessel.

After the loss of the Alabama, Irvine returned to Liverpool and was sent out on the Laurel in October 1864 to join the Shenandoah as sailing master. It was Irvine who navigated the Shenandoah from just off San Francisco back to Liverpool, arriving on November 6, 1865. Upon his return to Liverpool, Irvine discovered that he had been promoted to lieutenant, but had no government to serve in that capacity as the Civil War was over and the Confederacy had collapsed into history.

Postbellum influence and collaboration with nephew Theodore Roosevelt

Denied amnesty, Irvine remained in Liverpool after the war, working as a cotton merchant with his brother as the Bullochs realized that they could not return to the U.S.

In 1869, when his sister Martha and the Roosevelt family toured Europe, the first port they reached was in Liverpool where a joyous reunion took place. Although TR at first seem to show no interest in his uncle's exploits, he was no johnny-come-lately to naval topics and history. In fact, Bulloch's nephew's childhood had been filled with stories told him by Bulloch's sister, Mittie. TR would write that his mother used "to talk to me as a little shaver about ships, ships, ships and the fighting of ships, until they sank into the depths of my soul."

Filled with his mother and uncle's stories, by the time TR went to Harvard, he was already dreaming of writing a book on a neglected aspect of American Military History, role played by the US Navy during the War of 1812. Indeed, right in the middle of classes on mathematics at Harvard, (Morris TR Vol 1, 565) TR's mind would wander from his tedious mathematics classes to the accomplishments of the infant US Navy, the clash of the "fighting tops".

When TR's father took the family on what they called theit "grand tour" in 1869, TR spent time with those uncles in Liverpool, their first stopping port on their trip. When TR graduateed from Harvard, he published his famous The Naval War of 1812, which, in part, was an outgrowth of the influence of his two Bulloch uncles and the more direct influence of Irvine's brother, James.

Roosevelt visits Irvine and James Bulloch

Irvine and his brother James Dunwoody Bulloch, who had served in the U.S. Navy for 14 years before joining a private shipping company, both were seafaring men. When the southern states attempted to leave the Union and the Civil War began in 1861, one of the first acts of Washington was to begin a strangling Federal naval blockade on the Confederacy. With these developments, Irvine and his brother James decided to serve the southern cause. In 1861, Irvine became a midshipman on the CSS Alabama, its construction having been arranged by his brother James and secret purchase by the Confederacy as a raider to prey upon Union shipping. Irvine fought against the United States government long after the surrender of Lee. He fired the last gun on the Cruiser CSS Alabama before it went down in the harbor of Cherbourg, France. His sword is still in the Confederate Museum in Liverpool, England. It would be seen by president and Mrs. Theodore Roosevelt upon their visit to the city. At that same museum, it was of his gallant uncle that Mr. Roosevelt spoke in such affectionate and with such high praise.

Final years in Liverpool

Irvine lived in Sydenham Avenue, Liverpool, and died at the age of 56 at Selby Tower, Llandrillo-yn-Rhos, Colwyn Bay, Wales. The cause of his death was Bright's Disease and Cerebral Hemmorage. Irvine Stephens Bulloch, CSN (Ret), was buried in Toxteth Park Cemetery Liverpool, in a grave alongside that of his brother's family.

Nephew Theodore Roosevelt on his uncles

In 1905, Theodore Roosevelt toured the South. After spending October 19 in North Carolina and skipping South Carolina, TR visited Roswell, Georgia, the next day. He spoke to the citizens there as his ‘neighbors and friends’ and concluded his remarks as follows:

“It has been my very great good fortune to have the right to claim my blood is half southern and half northern, and I would deny the right of any man here to feel a greater pride in the deeds of every southerner than I feel. Of all the children, the brothers and sisters of my mother who were born and brought up in that house on the hill there, my two uncles afterward entered the Confederate service and served with the Confederate Navy.

“One, the younger man, served on the Alabama as the youngest officer aboard her. He was captain of one of her broadside 32-pounders in her final fight, and when at the very end the Alabama was sinking and the Kearsarge passed under her stern and came up along the side that had not been engaged hitherto, my uncle, Irvine Bulloch, shifted his gun from one side to the other and fired the two last shots fired from the Alabama. James Dunwoody Bulloch was an admiral in the Confederate service. …

“Men and women, don’t you think I have the ancestral right to claim a proud kinship with those who showed their devotion to duty as they saw the duty, whether they wore the grey or whether they wore the blue? All Americans who are worthy the name feel an equal pride in the valor of those who fought on one side or the other, provided only that each did with all his strength and soul and mind his duty as it was given to him to see his duty.”

In TR's autobiography, he mentions his Bulloch uncles thusly: "My mother's two brothers, James Dunwoodie Bulloch and Irvine Bulloch, came to visit us shortly after the close of the war. Both came under assumed names, as they were among the Confederates who were at that time exempted from the amnesty. "Uncle Jimmy" Bulloch was a dear old retired sea-captain, utterly unable to "get on" in the worldly sense of that phrase, as valiant and simple and upright a soul as ever lived, a veritable Colonel Newcome. He was an Admiral in the Confederate navy, and was the builder of the famous Confederate war vessel Alabama. My uncle Irvine Bulloch was a midshipman on the Alabama, and fired the last gun discharged from her batteries in the fight with the Kearsarge. Both of these uncles lived in Liverpool after the war. "

See also

References

  • Bulloch, James D. "The Secret Service of the Confederate States in Europe; or, How the Confederate Cruisers Were Equipped." 1883.

External links

  • http://www.mersey-gateway.org/server.php?show=ConNarrative.101
  • http://www.civilwarcourier.com/news/view_article.asp?idcategory=9&idarticle=261
  • http://www.csa-dixie.com/liverpool_dixie/irvine.htm - British Account of Irvine's life
  • http://www.csa-dixie.com/liverpool_dixie/bulloch.htm
  • http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/nge/Article.jsp?
  • http://www.bartleby.com/55/1.html Theodore Roosevelt Online Biography

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