The Union Blockade Essay Research Paper THE — страница 2

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February of 1862, not because Britain believed the blockade was effective, but because she didn’t want to get involved in the war. Britain’s recognition did not imply that she refused to have anything to do with blockade-running. On the contrary, Britain was glad to profit from the business opportunity, and British companies owned and controlled a large share of the blockade-runners. The British no doubt realized the blockade’s ineffectiveness when, in the words of a U.S. consul at Liverpool, “Members of Parliament, mayors, magistrates, aldermen, merchants, and gentlemen are all daily violating the laws of nations. Nine-tenths of all vessels now engaged in the business were built and fitted out in England by Englishmen and with English capital, and are now (1862) owned by

Englishmen.”[5] Fast blockade-runners would travel between Confederate ports and the ports of Nassau, Bermuda, and Havana, and then ships would sail cargoes between these ‘depot’ ports and England. The task on hand for the Union Navy was made nearly impossible by the size and geography of the Southern coast. It spans 3,600 miles and has almost 200 river mouths, inlets, bays and harbors. In addition it is basically a double coastline because it is filled with interior channels. Small ships did not have to leave directly from a port; instead they could take an inner channel and pop out into the open sea from almost anywhere they wanted. The Navy did not have the ships to guard every inlet, so they had to concentrate on putting a cordon of ships around the major ports, like

Wilmington, Charleston, Savannah, and the big ports in the Gulf of Mexico. Even this was hard because those ports were often protected by forts, and thus blockading ships had to keep their distance.[6] The result was that many hundreds of miles of coast were left unguarded and small or shallow-draft ships could escape through the protected waterways. Since much of this trade was done in secret by small sailing ships of which there are no records, the possibility exists that blockade-running took place on a significantly larger scale than is apparent from the official harbor records of the major ports. Even when ships were guarding ports, their blockades were too lax and easily penetrable. In December of 1861, the British warship Desperate came to test for blockaders at Galveston

by making its presence known with smoke. When nothing happened, its commander wrote, “Having seen no United States man-of-war here, I concluded that the port was not effectively blockaded, and it will be my duty to report the same to my superior officer.”[7] Still disappointed by the blockade of Galveston as late as May 1864, Gideon Welles wrote to Read Admiral Farragut that “It can not but be looked upon as a miserable business when six good steamers, professing to blockade a harbor, suffer four vessels to run out in one night.”[8] This sort of poor enforcement was by no means restricted to Galveston; it was characteristic of most blockade enforcement. In August of 1861, Charles Prioleau of Fraser, Trenholm & Co., of Liverpool (one of the largest blockade-running

companies and also the Confederate fiscal agency in England) tested the Savannah blockade by sending a boat through. The boat went through with no interference or encounters with any blockaders and came back with a cargo full of cotton.[9] In addition to proving the blockade ineffective, this was an extremely profitable voyage and prompted the company to buy a fleet of blockade-runners, and it encouraged many other enterprising people to jump into such a lucrative business. Throughout 1861, Consul Mure at New Orleans also reported continuous foreign trade between Mobile and New Orleans and Havana, Cuba. In early 1862, he sent reports of ships like the Vanderbilt having easy rides back and forth, loaded with more than 90,000 pounds of powder, prompting other merchants to charter

their own blockade-runners.[10] On August 12, 1861, Allen Fullerton, the British consul at Savannah, wrote that “The blockade of such ports is not effective, being maintained by the United States Government not by vessels of war permanently stationed off the mouth of each harbour. . . but merely by a few vessels cruising up and down the coast, appearing off a port one day and leaving. . . the next.”[11] Throughout 1862 and 1863, although Savannah was more frequently guarded well at the main entrance, the side and inner passages were left open. There are also numerous letters from Consuls Bunch and Walker at Charleston saying that its blockade was equally ineffective. Up to 1864 British consuls at Savannah and Charleston continued to report every-increasing numbers of