View single post by Hellcat
 Posted: Sat May 31st, 2014 03:08 am
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Root Beer Lover

Joined: Tue Nov 15th, 2005
Location: USA
Posts: 869

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Ok, last night I discovered I'd saved an article that appeared online in 2012 from America's Civil War magazine entitled A vast rebel conspiracy on the Great Lakes by Andrew Hind. The article is bout the steamer Georgian. I got to thinking about it today saying that the name sounded familiar to me and wondering why I was associating it with Greek Fire. Mind you I only skimmed the articles first few paragraphs to see what I'd saved so I didn't get why it was familiar or my associating the name with Greek fire until I checked this thread. If we go back to the 2nd and 3rd posts we can find why those two happened. Realizing I'd come across the name and connection in Series I Volume 3 of Official records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion I had to search the article for any mention of Greek Fire. A what I found was:

Bates wasn't the only one busying himself. William Lawrence McDonald, a notorious Rebel agent who had been involved in an attempt to burn New York City to the ground in November 1864, arrived in Toronto to assist in the machinations. Here, in a makeshift arms factory in the basement of his Agnes Street home, he manufactured "torpedoes [as mines were known at the time], hand-shells [hand grenades], Greek Fire, and other explosive missiles." He also had molds for casing bullets. McDonald told compatriots that he envisioned raids upon Great Lakes shipping and even Detroit. He also was heard to say that he believed the Georgian would be "a mighty fine thing for a blockade runner," perhaps anticipating taking the fight beyond the Great Lakes and into the Atlantic.

Ok, so we have the name of another agent involved in the NYC plot according to Mr. Hind. William Lawrence McDonald. Now is Mr. McDonald the same as the Larry McDonald who was to have sailed aboard the Georgian according to the second post? Possible. Larry is a shortened form of Lawrence. In the next paragraph Mr. Hind does place Godfrey J. Hyams as being a confidant of a Lawrence McDonald. Hyams is listed in the 1st post as a double agent. So could Larry McDonald have been Lawrence McDonald instead of William L. McDonald? Plausible that there were two men with very similar names operating in Canada for the Confederacy, but I'm thinking they were the same guy. So this links him directly to the NYC plot rather than leaving open the possibility that all McDonald did was to just supply waterproof caps without knowing how they were to be used.

More interesting is that McDonald had a makeshift arms plant in Toronto where he manufactured, among other things, Greek Fire. But was this where the Greek fire used in the NYC plot came from? Headley discusses picking it up the night before in NYC. So was it smuggled in by another agent?

Edit: Ok, I had to get out Van Doren Stern's book to see what Hedley said about picking up the Greek Fire. But it's not from Headley that I find anything on the origin of the Greek Fire used the plot. Headley sates he picked up the leather valise carrying he Greek Fire from an old man with a long beard in a basement on the west side of Washington Place. Nothing on if the old man was just another agent who smuggled it into the country from Canada or the maker, or what he was. Looking back over the first post I said pretty much this already.

But Van Doren Stern, in his intro to the story/chapter, does state that Headley was sent by Captain Longmire (Longuemare) to a local chemist to get the Greek Fire. So it looks like McDonald may not have manufactured the Greek Fire used in the plot. HOWEVER, this also does not mean that he didn't as it is possible that it was shipped to the chemist from Canada to give to the agents. Van Doren Stern only states Headley was supposed to pick up the Greek Fire from this unnamed chemist, not that he was the one who made it. But most likely he was.

Last edited on Sat May 31st, 2014 06:32 am by Hellcat

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