Arthur Sinclair was an officer in the United States Navy (USN) and later the Confederate States Navy (CSN). He joined the USN as a Midshipman, 4 Mar 1823, when he was 13. He received a commission as Lieutenant 3 Mar 1835 and was promoted to Commander in 14 Sep 1855. He was involved in an expedition to Japan which tried to open up of that country's ports to American commerce. He commanded a ship called "The Supply" which carried gifts for the Japanese, the produce of United States industry.
18 April 1861, a day after Virginia seceded from the Union, he resigned his commission in the USN and joined the CSN, officially entering the Civil War at the rank of Commander (officially 10 Jun 1861).
Arthur's future grandson and famous radical activist and author of "The Jungle, an expose on the hard hitting expose of corruption of the Chicago turn-of-the-century cattle industry, Upton Sinclair, recalls an old "favorite story in the Sinclair collection of traditional family tales", Lieutenant Commander Arthur Sinclair, and his old friend, fellow Virginian, and shipmate Captain David Farragut had stayed up and argued all night long in Sinclair's study, the day after Virginia had seceeded. The next morning, Farragut had gone north, loyal to the Union. Sinclair, like [Robert E.] Lee, had been loyal to Virginia and the lost cause"
He commanded the C.S.S. Winslow during the Battle of Hatteras Inlet in August, 1861. Immediately following, in August 1861, Sinclair took command of the CSS Mississippi, while still being built. Ultimately, he had to be torched before getting into enemy hands. Upon demise of the his current command ship, he was given another, the Fingal currently being converted to the CSS Atlanta. He commanded her February thru May of 1863, he commanded the ship, "CSS Atlanta".
In 1864, he was serving in Paris when he was ordered to return home. He proceeded to Liverpool where he hoped to find a passage home.
In Liverpool, he came across a steamship which he thought would be the ideal ship, as a blockade runner. He took command of the vessel and named it "Lelia" after his wife. On 14th January 1865, the Lelia set out for Wilmington, North Carolina hoping to run the Union blockade. She hit bad weather off the coast of North Wales. The ship was swamped by waves and sank off the Great Orme. Three lifeboats were launched but only one reached safety. One of the survivors recalls his last sight of Arthur Sinclair, who was kneeling on the deck in prayer.
Early in the afternoon of 31st May 1865, James Wilson the skipper of the Fleetwood fishing vessel "Elizabeth and Emma" found the body of a man in the sea ten mile from Fleetwood. The body was identified as Arthur Sinclair by his spectacles and gold watch. An inquest was held at The Steamer public house in Fleetwood, and Arthur Sinclair was buried in the council cemetery. He is the only known Civil War casualty to be buried outside the United States.
Lelia Imogen Dawley Sinclair
1813–1906 (m. 1835)
to the Memory of
Captain Arthur Sinclair
of Norfolk, Virginia
who perished in the wreck
of the Lelia
January 14th 1865
"Not lost but gone before"