A crew from the BBC has filmed a Bermuda segment for a series on Scottish-built ships that steamed their way into the history books, as Raymond Haney reports in this article for Bermuda’s Sun.
The team from BBC Scotland was on the island because the notorious Confederate States Navy ship the Robert E Lee was built on the River Clyde in Glasgow and ran contraband into the Southern states during the Civil War.
It was a regular caller in Bermuda — which made money out of both sides in the conflict — and was finally intercepted and impounded in 1863 off the island by the Union navy after a trip to pick up munitions.
This speedy paddle steamer was reckoned by Union forces to be one of the most important ships that ran between Bermuda and Wilmington in North Carolina.
The ship — originally the Giraffe and built for the Glasgow-Belfast run — was later renamed the USS Fort Donelson and served in the Union navy until it was sold to a commercial owner in 1865.
While in Bermuda, the crew filmed the wreck of the Nola, another Confederate blockade-runner which grounded on a reef eight miles off Hamilton Harbour during an 1863 storm while trying to dock in the island.
The Nola sailed under several other names, including the Montana and Paramount.
Graeme Thomson, the series producer for the show, said the four-parter would focus on four Clyde-built vessels and their international stories.
It will be presented by Scottish actor and TV presenter David Hayman.
Mr Thomson said: “The programme team travelled to Bermuda with David Hayman to film a number of sequences for the programme. Bermuda was an important staging post in this war.
“It’s position made it an ideal location from which to run the blockade with supplies going in and cotton coming out.
“In Bermuda we looked at the role the island played in this war.
“We examine the part slavery played and we filmed the Nola.”
Bermuda – although it traded with both sides despite an official position of neutrality in the Civil War on the part of Britain and the island — generally favoured the pro-slavery Southern states.