THE recent granting of protected status to the wreck of the Confederate warship "Lelia" which sank in Liverpool Bay in January, 1865, has shed light on a very dark and shameful episode in Liverpool and British history.

Even though the British Government was officially "neutral" during the American Civil War from 1861 to 1865, the Southern, slave-owning Confederate States received covert funding and supplies from many sympathetic British capitalists, merchants, and businessmen, who continued to profit from the trade in tobacco and cotton, throughout the War.

Most of this secret support and assistance was channelled through Liverpool.

Liverpool was, in fact, the Confederacy's most important overseas locus of financial and military support.

It functioned as its unofficial embassy, and built the vast bulk of Confederate warships and merchant ships to help the secessionist Government of Jefferson Davis breach the Union's naval blockade.

The fact the warship "Lelia" sank in a storm on its maiden voyage out of Liverpool just three months before the end of the War in April 1865 illustrates that the links between British capitalist sympathisers and the slave States lasted the entirety of the War.

So the so-called "special relationship" between the US and Britain, nowadays used to justify wars for oil and gas in the Middle East and for sabre-rattling against Russia and China, was rather more antagonistic during the American Civil War, which ended in catastrophic defeat for the secessionist South in April 1865, notwithstanding the material, financial, and political support it enjoyed from large sections of the British ruling class.

James Roberts, Wallasey