The Alabama claims were brought by the United States against Great Britain for the damage caused by several Confederate warships built in Liverpool during the Civil War, most notably the commerce raiders Alabama and Florida. The British Foreign Enlistment Act of 1819 forbade the construction and outfitting of foreign warships. The Confederates evaded the letter of this law during the early years of the war by various ruses and managed to purchase a number of cruisers. After these vessels were completed, they destroyed or captured more than 250 American merchant ships and caused the conversion of 700 more to foreign flags. By the end of the war, the U.S. Merchant Marine had lost half its ships. The subsequent demands for compensation took the title of the vessel that had done the most damage-Alabama.