American Civil War shipwreck, near Prestatyn

Link to French translationLink to Welsh translationAmerican Civil War shipwreck, near Prestatyn

The Confederate Army was already losing the American Civil War when it suffered another setback on 14 January 1865 – the loss of a new paddle steamer off Prestatyn. Many sailors and lifeboat volunteers were killed.

The paddle steamer Lelia was built in Liverpool as a “blockade runner”. It had set sail from Liverpool under a British captain with a cargo of coal and general goods for Bermuda. Also on board was Captain Arthur Sinclair, a Confederate Navy commander who was to take charge of the ship in Bermuda. Supplies for the Confederate Army were to be loaded at Bermuda.

Drawing of ship and lifeboatGetting the ship to its destination, Wilmington, would involve breaking the naval blockade imposed by President Abraham Lincoln. Captain Sinclair, who came from Virginia, had achieved this several times since the Civil War began in 1861, and had been well paid for his services.

The Lelia had almost reached the Great Orme when it began to take on water in a storm. It was blown eastwards and sank c.12km north of Prestatyn with the loss of all officers and most of the crew. The Liverpool No.1 lifeboat went to the rescue but was swamped, and seven of its crew drowned. Captain Sinclair’s body was washed up months later at Fleetwood. The picture on the right, from the Illustrated London News, shows the lifeboat trying to rescue the ship.

Where is this HiPoint?

Other SHIPWRECK HiPoints in this region:
Point of Ayr lifeboat memorial, Llanasa – 13 men drowned when aiding a Belfast schooner
Rhyl lifeboat memorial – Six lifeboat crew died in 1853 after going to the aid of sinking ship

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