The Union Blockade Essay Research Paper THE — страница 3

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blockade-runners. On August 6, 1861, Bunch wrote: “So far as I believe, not a single ship of war is at present to be found on the entire coast of the state.” Two weeks later, Bunch wrote that vessels came and went without interference and stated that “the blockade is the laughing stock of the Southern Merchant Marine.”[12] Even as late as April 7, 1862, Consul Bunch wrote “The blockade runners are doing a great business. Everything is brought in abundance. Not a day passes without an arrival or departure. Passengers come and go freely, and no one seems to think there is the slightest risk, and indeed there is not.”[13] These reports continued through 1862 and 1863 as Bunch kept reporting a steady stream of blockade-runners coming in with arms and powder and general

supplies and leaving with cotton. The next British consul at Charleston, Walker, wrote on April 22, 1863, that from July 1861 to April 1863 trade was booming at Wilmington and cotton exports and customs receipts were high.[14] It is clear that the blockade was ineffective in the early stages of the war, but it did eventually tighten as more ships were added to the blockading fleet, although not in proportion to the increased fleet of blockade-runners. By April 7, 1862, the Navy had 226 ships at their disposal for blockade duty and by the end of the war Gideon Welles had gathered up a fleet of over 600 vessels.[15] One of the men responsible for the tightening was Rear Admiral Samuel Phillips Lee, who commanded the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron from 1862 to 1864, whose most

important port to block was Wilmington, North Carolina, a famous haven for blockade-runners. When Lee arrived in September 1862, he had 48 ships and during 1864 his fleet fluctuated from 84 to 119 vessels.[16] With this enlarged fleet he developed a blockading tactic of using two rows: a first row with slow ships would warn the faster outer row of any blockade-runners to chase with rocket signals.[17] This plan increased the number of captures being made; by 1864, Lee reported that the rebels were losing a steamer about every eight days.[18] However, this wasn’t quite a brick wall, since Wilmington alone averaged 1.5 attempts per day to run the blockade.[19] For most of 1861, one in fourteen ships was captured or destroyed, but the final ratio for the year was one in ten. In

1862, the capture (including destroyed ships) rate rose to one in eight, and the average blockade-runner still had a “life expectancy” of seven voyages. In 1863, the blockade finally started to tighten as the capture rate rose to one in four. In 1864, the capture rate climbed to one in three and in 1865 (when only several Gulf Ports remained open) the capture rate rose to one in two. The total for the whole war is that one in six attempts to run the blockade failed.[20] Below, these general figures will be broken down by geographic location and type of ship (sail or steam). These odds were good enough to make blockade-running a lucrative opportunity, enticing enough people into the trade. Cotton prices were high and profits on cotton were phenomenal; it could be bought in the

Confederacy for six to eight cents per pound and sold at $.25-$1.00 per pound in England.[21] Other statistics show that it was bought at three cents per pound and sold at fifty, and this made a quarter of a million dollar profit on each voyage (one way) common, and a firm could then easily afford to lose a ship after just two successful voyages.[22] Often just one successful voyage would be sufficient. Although operating costs were very high ($80,000 per runner per month), often two trips would pay $170,000 and any additional trips would be pure profit for the English companies involved.[23] These companies saw profits soar as never before. Throughout the war, companies paid from 500-1,000 percent on their stocks. In the spring of 1864, stock bought at $3,200 was sold six months

later at $6,000 and had also paid a $500 dividend.[24] That the financial odds were so favorable for blockade-runners is testimony to the blockade’s ineffectiveness. There were also other factors that lured men into this trade. Daring and adventurous skippers enjoyed the excitement, and have described it as “rollicking good fun.”[25] William Watson, a blockade-runner in the Gulf, remarked, “On the whole (it is) a rather enjoyable occupation, with something of the zest of yacht-racing– a kind of exciting sport of the highest order.”[26] These blockade-runners entered the trade with visions of great These blockade-runners entered the trade with visions of great success, and most often that was the case. In part this was due to the difficulty of blockade duty for the