Tod & Macgregor Shiplist


Yard No.:







 Passenger Cargo Ship


 Strange Saga of the General Sherman & The Hermit Kingdom












 Iron, Single Screw 




 Lost off Cape Fear Light, North Carolina on the 10th of January 1874.

Points of Note:


Date of Launch:



          The Princess Royal made her first run for Langlands's Liverpool service in July 1861. She was the first screw steamer in this fleet.

[Echoes of Old Clyde Paddle-Wheels, Andrew McQueen]


          By 1863 important Confederate contracts for specialised English manufactured goods were being completed and ready for shipment. These items, which included machinery for the making of small arms, moulds for artillery shells, heavy artillery and marine engines for warships were too valuable to be sent to Bermuda or Nassau and reshipped on blockade runners. If any parts were lost during transhipping it would take months for replacements to be made. Instead, the Government decided to hire Fraser, Trenholm and Co. to send the goods from England directly to the South.


          The first of these ventures centred around the Princess Royal, an iron screw steamer chosen to run marine engines to the Confederacy. These engines were badly needed by the Southern Navy to outfit its ironclads. Until this time, engines for the Confederate ironclads were usually taken from pre-war steamers and rarely were efficient enough to power the warships. The Tredegar Iron Works was capable of turning out engines, but was hard pressed with other war-related work to meet the navy's needs. The marine engine works was under construction at Columbus, Georgia but, until it was finished, the majority of the navy's engines would have to come from steamers or overseas.


          On board the Princess Royal were placed two pairs of horizontal direct-acting steam engines, complete with boilers and propellers rated at 180 and 110 nominal horsepower. They were apparently destined for ironclads being built at Charleston. Also on board were 600 barrels of gunpowder, six 70-pound Whitworth cannons, 930 steel-headed Whitworth shells, 35 tons of projectile steel, a machine for moulding and planing shot and shell for guns, 1,500 ounces of quinine, plus quantities of leather, shoes, wire, files, screws, cast iron, coffee, tea, clothing, and 25 cases of paper, a total value of £78,808.


          In mid-January, after a long and difficult voyage, the Princess Royal arrived at St. George, Bermuda. Though only two years old and having a draft of eleven feet, the vessel was considered by the U.S. Bermuda consul to be too slow and heavily laden to run the blockade:

24 Jan 1863, "British steamer "Princess Royal" from Halifax arr. here 17th inst. She left here yesterday for the Southern coast.... one of the largest stmrs that as yet has attempted to run blockade." (American Consular Records, Bermuda Hist Society, Vol 18, no 2 1961)


          However, her owners believed she could, and before the month ended she cleared for Charleston. At 3.15 on the morning of the 29th of January 1863, with her captain sick in his cabin, the Princess Royal made her approach. As she neared the harbour, she was sighted by the schooner G. W. Blunt, which opened fire and signalled the rest of the squadron. This action alerted the steamer Unadilla, which soon forced the Princess Royal aground.


          Boarding parties were sent out, but before they reached the stranded vessel the captain, pilot, a number of her passengers and crew left the ship. Found on board the stranded vessel were a few British sailors and a machinist who had accompanied the vessel to instruct the Confederates in the operation of the Whitworth machinery. Using tow lines, Union warships freed the blockade runner and since the blockading squadron was short on sailors, the Federal commander hired the Englishmen to take the Princess Royal north to a prize court.


          Though the Princess Royal operation had ended in failure, the Confederate government and Fraser, Trenholm and Co. again entered into a joint venture four months later. This one with the Gibraltar was successful.

[Lifeline of the Confederacy, Stephen R. Wise]


          Commodore Quackenbush entered the navy as midshipman February 1840. While commanding the “Unadilla,” off Charleston Harbour, he captured the blockade runner “Princess Royal,” a most important acquisition for our government, as she was intended for a cruiser in the confederacy, and had on board steam engines for an Iron-clad; Whitworth guns, powder, shot and shell in large quantities as also a machine for cutting steel-pointed shot.


English Whitworth 5-inch rifle one of four captured on board the blockade runner Princess Royal


          This was one of the most important captures for our government that occurred during the rebellion, and the loss to the Confederate government cannot be estimated. From the sale of this vessel and cargo, the treasury gained nearly one-quarter of a million dollars.


          The first Kansas was built at Philadelphia Navy Yard with machinery taken from prize steamer Princess Royal; launched 29 September 1863; sponsored by Miss Annie McClellan; and commissioned at Philadelphia 21 December 1863, Lt. Comdr. Pendleton G. Watmough in command.

          The day of her commissioning, the gunboat was ordered to Hampton Roads to join the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron. She arrived Newport News, VA., 30 December; but engine and boiler trouble required her to return to the Washington Navy Yard for repairs.

          In March 1864 the gunboat was stationed at Wilmington, N.C., off New Inlet,

          The Princess Royal was purchased from a prize court and taken unto the United States Navy. The Princess Royal was then employed as a Unionist cruiser. One story exists of her life as the USS Princess Royal:


          Wednesday, May 24, 1865 - The blockade runner Denbigh, once described by Admiral Farragut as "too quick for us", was found aground at daylight on Bird Key Spit, near Galveston. She had attempted to run into the Texas port once again under cover of darkness. She was destroyed during the day by gunfire from USS Cornubia and Princess Royal, and later boarding parties from Kennebec and Seminole set her aflame.


          After the war was over Princess Royal was sold to private interests, on the 23rd of September 1863, and renamed the General Sherman.

          See the following link for the history of the General Sherman.


          She was lost off Cape Fear Light, North Carolina on the 10th of January 1874, in 50 ft. of water, while on a voyage from New York to New Orleans, with a general cargo, including port holes, glass insulators, hardware, leather shoes, U.S. military belt buckles and Winchester model 1866 rifles..

[Lifeline of the Confederacy, Stephen R. Wise]