Wednesday, 10 August 2011

290 Foundation (Introduction)


Dedicated to Commander James D. Bulloch, Captain Raphael Semmes and Crew of the ‘CSS Alabama’

It gives me great pleasure to introduce you to the 290 Foundation. The 290 Foundation borrows it's title from Hull #290, a vessel constructed to the highest standards of shipbuilding, by the skilled workforce of the John Laird’s Shipyard at Birkenhead; and of course, later to be known, feared and respected as the C.S.S. Alabama.

After all that has been written about the American Civil War, it is too easy to forget, when those events were precipitated, many seamen from Britain and her colonies, enlisted to support the Confederacy in both the army and navy. Others, mostly businessmen and industrialists with vested interests, provided necessary funding and means by which the Southern cause would benefit.

So much has been chronicled on the battles and struggle that forged back and forth across the lands of America; but by comparison, little has been recorded of the naval activities carried out by both sides; but in particular, many of those of the Southern States have been studiously ignored.

It must be said at this stage, the 290 Foundation is non-political. We will not be aligned or associated with any extremist group using the symbols and flags of the old Confederacy for idealistic or racist purposes. Neither, is our purpose to glorify, or exaggerate the achievements of this period. The 290 Foundation simply awards recognition to those men, most of whom would never visited the land they fought for; but who personified the best qualities of seamanship on the oceans they sailed. Collectively and individually, they supported the same ideals of liberty and freedom that motivating the South's decision to oppose Northern aggression with military force; and their tenacity in the face of considerable opposition, was admired by all.

Most of those sailors shared the firm beliefs held in the rights guaranteed by the American Constitution; and it's fair to say, these attributes remain the underpinning of our democratic society and represent the basis on which free, democratic nations are founded even today.

The 290 Foundation is resolved to recounting and preserving the history and legacy of those heroic seamen. In particular, we wish to enable future generations understand the motives behind their support for that Southern cause. In addition, it is essential we press for a true recognition of the service, men from this United Kingdom and her dominions provided during those tumultuous years. Along with many volunteers from European countries and from further afield, they strove to secure and safeguard the peoples of all America; and through their singular, brave duties, at sea and on land, at home and abroad; and by selfless sacrifice, endeavoured to guarantee the freedom of all.

There is a bronze plaque in Virginia that reads: 'Fate denied them victory but gave them a glorious immortality' - I think that says it all!

Thank you for visiting our site,

Ian Dewar
President, 290 Foundation (BVI) Inc.

Find out more:

We have finalised the design for the 'Commemoration Badge' marking the 'Sesquicentennial' of the CSS Alabama's career. This evocative image will appear on all memorial plaques currently planned; and will be used for fundraising through merchandise available to members. The initial production run of lapel badges will be complete by end September this year. Check out the 'link' below for further details.

Preliminary discussions are taking place with a major UK Television channel on a possible documentary on the 'Liverpool Connection', again to mark the anniversary of the CSS Alabama's launch. These are at a very early stage; but some good ideas are already being circulated. Again, more as and when, these talks develop.

The design for our commemorative plaques, planned for siteing in Liverpool, Birkenhead and Cherbourg* is finalised and it is truly amazing. (I'll be placing a photo on the website at a later stage) Artist and sculptor John Clark is experienced in working in Bronze and other metals; and his expertise shows in this evocative conception and design. The next stage is to produce a half-size mock-up which he hopes to have ready for early December.

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