Donald MacNeill Fairfax
|Born||August 10, 1822|
Mount Eagle, Fairfax County, Virginia
|Died||January 10, 1894 75) (aged|
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Service/||United States Navy|
|Years of service||1837–1881|
|Commands held|| Cayuga |
|Battles/wars||American Civil War|
Donald MacNeil Fairfax (March 10, 1818 – January 10, 1894) was an officer in the United States Navy during the American Civil War.
The son of George William Fairfax, and Isabella McNeill, grandson of Ferdinando Fairfax, and great-grandson of Bryan Fairfax,  he was born at Mount Eagle, Virginia. Fairfax entered the Navy as a midshipman on August 12, 1837. He was the only member of the family who took the Union side in the American Civil War.
As executive officer in San Jacinto, he was a participant in the 1861 "Trent Affair," a diplomatic controversy involving the U.S. Navy's removal of Confederate commissioners from the British mail-steamer, RMS Trent. On November 8, 1861, Fairfax boarded Trent to remove Confederate commissioners James M. Mason and John Slidell, after the ship had been stopped by his captain, Charles Wilkes.
Wilkes had given Fairfax the following written instructions:
On boarding her you will demand the papers of the steamer, her clearance from Havana, with the list of passengers and crew.
Should Mr. Mason, Mr. Slidell, Mr. Eustice [sic] and Mr. McFarland be on board make them prisoners and send them on board this ship and take possession of her [the Trent] as a prize. … They must be brought on board.
All trunks, cases, packages and bags belonging to them you will take possession of and send on board this ship; any dispatches found on the persons of the prisoners, or in possession of those on board the steamer, will be taken possession of, examined, and retained if necessary 
Fairfax demanded the passenger list, but Mason and Slidell identified themselves. He escorted Mason by the collar, to the cutter, and with two officers took hold of Slidell from the main cabin. He failed to claim Trent as a prize, citing the loss of manpower of a prize crew (avoiding a worse incident). 
Fairfax's distinguished service in the Civil War included command of the Cayuga, Nantucket and Montauk.
Fairfax was later promoted to flag rank, retiring as a rear admiral on September 30, 1881. He retired to Hagerstown, Maryland, where he served on the vestry of Saint John's Church. Admiral Fairfax died in 1894.
In 1917 the Wickes-class destroyer USS Fairfax (DD-93) was named in his honor.
John Slidell was an American politician, lawyer, and businessman. A native of New York, Slidell moved to Louisiana as a young man and became a Representative and Senator. He was one of two Confederate diplomats captured by the United States Navy from the British ship RMS Trent in 1861 and later released. He was the older brother of Alexander Slidell Mackenzie, a US naval officer.
Charles Wilkes was an American naval officer, ship's captain, and explorer. He led the United States Exploring Expedition, 1838–1842. His behavior led to two convictions by court-martial, one stemming from the massacre of almost 80 Fijians on Malolo in 1840. During the American Civil War (1861–1865) he commanded USS San Jacinto during the Trent Affair, where he stopped a Royal Mail Ship and removed two Confederate diplomats, which almost led to war between the US and the UK.
The Trent Affair was a diplomatic incident in 1861 during the American Civil War that threatened a war between the United States and the United Kingdom. The U.S. Navy captured two Confederate envoys from a British Royal Mail steamer; the British government protested vigorously. The United States ended the incident by releasing the envoys.
CSS Shenandoah, formerly Sea King and later El Majidi, was an iron-framed, teak-planked, full-rigged sailing ship with auxiliary steam power chiefly known for her actions under Lieutenant Commander James Waddell as part of the Confederate States Navy during the American Civil War.
The first USS San Jacinto was an early screw frigate in the United States Navy during the mid-19th century. She was named for the San Jacinto River, site of the Battle of San Jacinto during the Texas Revolution. She is perhaps best known for her role in the Trent Affair of 1861.
USS James Adger was a sidewheel steamer in the Union Navy during the American Civil War. She retained her former name.
James Alden Jr. was a rear admiral in the United States Navy. In the Mexican–American War he participated in the captures of Veracruz, Tuxpan, and Tabasco. Fighting on the Union side in the Civil War, he took part in the relief of Fort Pickens, followed by many engagements on the Lower Mississippi, before being promoted captain of USS Brooklyn and assisting in the Union victory in the Battle of Mobile Bay.
RMS Trent was a British Royal Mail paddle steamer built in 1841 by William Pitcher of Northfleet for the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company. She measured 1,856 gross tons and could carry 60 passengers. She was one of four ships constructed at Blackwall, all named after some of the principal rivers of England. The others were the Thames, Medway and Isis.
USS Aries (1863) was an 820-ton iron screw steamer built at Sunderland, England, during 1861–1862, intended for employment as a blockade runner during the American Civil War. She was captured by Union Navy forces during the Union blockade of the Confederate States of America, and was commissioned as a Union gunboat. Aries was named for the constellation.
USS Malvern was a large steamer captured by the Union Navy during the American Civil War. She was then used by the Union Navy to patrol navigable waterways of the Confederacy to prevent the South from trading with other countries.
USS General Lyon, originally the De Soto, was recaptured from the Confederate States of America and renamed USS De Soto, and then USS General Lyon, after Brigadier General Nathaniel Lyon.
USS Isaac Smith was a screw steamer acquired by the United States Navy during the American Civil War. She was used by the Union Navy to patrol navigable waterways of the Confederate States of America to prevent the Confederacy from trading with other countries. In 1863, she became the only warship in the American Civil War to be captured by enemy land forces. She then served in the Confederate States Navy as CSS Stono until she was wrecked.
USS Alonzo Child (1857) was a side-wheel steamer seized by the Union Navy during the American Civil War. She was used by the Union Navy as a barracks ship in support of the Union Navy blockade of Confederate waterways.
USS Shepherd Knapp (1861) was a large (838-ton) ship with eight guns, purchased by the Union Navy during the beginning of the American Civil War.
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland remained officially neutral throughout the American Civil War (1861–1865). It legally recognised the belligerent status of the Confederate States of America (CSA) but never recognised it as a nation and neither signed a treaty with it nor ever exchanged ambassadors. Over 90 percent of Confederate trade with Britain ended, causing a severe shortage of cotton by 1862. Private British blockade runners sent munitions and luxuries to Confederate ports in return for cotton and tobacco. In Manchester, the massive reduction of available American cotton caused an economic disaster referred to as the Lancashire Cotton Famine. Despite the high unemployment, some Manchester cotton workers refused out of principle to process any cotton from America, leading to direct praise from President Lincoln, whose statue in Manchester bears a plaque which quotes his appreciation for the textile workers in "helping abolish slavery". Top British officials debated offering to mediate in the first 18 months, which the Confederacy wanted but the United States strongly rejected.
Admiral of the Fleet Sir Alexander Milne, 1st Baronet, was a Royal Navy officer. As a captain on the North America and West Indies Station he was employed capturing slave-traders and carrying out fishery protection duties. He served as a Junior Naval Lord under both Liberal and Conservative administrations and was put in charge of organising British and French transports during the Crimean War. He became Commander-in-Chief, North America and West Indies Station and in this role he acted with diplomacy, especially in response to the Trent Affair on 8 November 1861 during the American Civil War, when USS San Jacinto, commanded by Union Captain Charles Wilkes, intercepted the British mail packet RMS Trent and removed, as contraband of war, two Confederate diplomats, James Mason and John Slidell. He became First Naval Lord in the third Derby–Disraeli ministry in July 1866 and in this role took advantage of the Government's focus on spending reduction to ask fundamental questions about naval strategy. He again became First Naval Lord in the first Gladstone ministry in November 1872, remaining in office under the second Disraeli ministry and identifying the critical need for trade protection at times of War and demanding new cruisers to protect British merchant shipping.
Salvador Pirates was the name given to the band of Confederate Navy sailors that attempted to seize a Panama Railroad coastal steamer on the high seas. Their intent was then to arm her and attack the Pacific Mail steamers and the American whalers in the North Pacific.
The blockade runners of the American Civil War were seagoing steam ships that were used to get through the Union blockade that extended some 3,500 miles (5,600 km) along the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coastlines and the lower Mississippi River. The Confederate states were largely without industrial capability and could not provide the quantity of arms and other supplies needed to fight against the industrial north. To meet this need blockade runners were built in Scotland and England and were used to import the guns, ordnance and other supplies that the Confederacy desperately needed, in exchange for cotton that the British textile industry likewise was in desperate need of. To get through the blockade, these relatively lightweight shallow draft ships, mostly built in British ship yards and specially designed for speed but incapable of carrying much cotton, had to cruise undetected, usually at night, through the Union blockade. The typical blockade runners were privately owned vessels often operating with a letter of marque issued by the Confederate States of America. If spotted, the blockade runners would attempt to outmaneuver or simply outrun any Union ships on blockade patrol, very often successfully.
Rear Admiral John Irwin was an officer in the United States Navy. He participated in the African Slave Trade Patrol, fought in the American Civil War, and served as commander of the Asiatic and Pacific Squadrons.
The Arago was a wooden hulled, brig-rigged, sidewheel steamer built in 1855 by Westervelt & Sons at New York, New York. Chartered by the Union Army in the Army Transport Service, during the American Civil War for use as a troop transport and in operation with the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron throughout the war, Arago was the ship that returned the United States flag to Fort Sumter in April 1865. Returned to transatlantic passenger and freight service after the Civil War, she was sold to the Peruvian government in 1869.