The Union Blockade Essay Research Paper THE — страница 5

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the harbor.[39] Although some historians have claimed that this practically put a halt to its trade, Charleston still managed to conduct a foreign trade of $21,000,000 that year, over $2,500,000 more than the trade of the entire state of South Carolina in 1858.[40] Even as late as September through December 1864, 20 vessels were able to clear the Charleston blockade. From November to the beginning of December, while Wilmington was under siege, 43 blockade-runners entered its port.[41] An amazing sign of the ineffectiveness of this blockade is that the trade and shipping of these two ports greatly increased over pre-war levels while they were being blockaded.[42] Wilmington’s total foreign commerce in 1863 was four times that of all of North Carolina in 1858.[43] In its last

year of trade (mostly 1864), it did $66 million worth of business in gold and exported $65 million worth of cotton.[44] Although it is hard to measure its impact on the war, one thing is certain: blockade-running at Wilmington was General Lee’s chief source of food and ammunition. On January 12, 1865, Lee wired Colonel Lamb, the Confederate commander at Fort Fisher, that “If Fort Fisher falls, I shall have to evacuate Richmond.”[45] The most complete records of blockade-running have been compiled by Marcus W. Price. According to his data, 2,054 attempts were made to run the Carolina blockade, a daily average of 1.5 attempts. Of these attempts, 1,735 were successful, an 84 percent success rate. Eighty-seven percent of the 1,093 attempts by steamers were successful and 81

percent of the 961 attempts by sailing vessels were successful.[46] Blockade-running in the Gulf of Mexico was of a different nature than that of the Atlantic Coast. The trade in the Gulf was mostly conducted by small, independent sailing ships, not like the large-scale steamboat operations running between the Atlantic ports and Bermuda and Nassau.[47] The reasons steamers never dominated in the Gulf were mainly geographic, and the early capture of New Orleans also played a role. The Gulf coast was filled with sand bars and narrow, shallow channels through which steamers couldn’t fit. Overall, blockade-running wasn’t as effective on the Gulf coast as it was on the East coast. Obtaining cotton was harder due to the relative lack of railroads, the ships used were smaller, and

the British traders preferred using the British-held ports of Bermuda and the Bahamas over Havana, Cuba, where the bulk of the Gulf trade was centered.[48] The majority of the ships involved in the Gulf were small center-board schooners which, with their high maneuverability and extremely shallow draft, could cross sand bars and shoals impossible for large vessels. However, these ships lacked the speed required to outrun Federal steamers and profits weren’t as good because voyages were long and cargo space was small; a trip between Havana and Galveston, Texas, took up to three weeks because they relied on wind. None of the ten schooners captured off Galveston, from July 4 through July 7, 1861, exceeded 100 tons.[49] The low speed and small cargoes of these blockade-runners made

the Gulf blockade more effective than the Carolina blockade. In the first year of the war, the Gulf was bustling with smuggling activity. The port of New Orleans led the way with 300 violations in the first 10 months of the war.[50] However, the situation changed drastically when New Orleans was captured on April 25, 1862. This was a major loss to the blockade-runners because New Orleans was without a doubt the Confederacy’s most important port. In pre-war years, New Orleans was the largest cotton port in the world, and it had exported 1,738,678 out of the 3,133,200 bales exported by the South from September 1860 to August 1861. New Orleans had also accounted for over half of the South’s total foreign commerce: it had done $128 million out of $217 million of the South’s

total foreign commerce from June 1858 to June 1859.[51] After New Orleans was eliminated from the trade, Mobile, Alabama, became the center of rebel traffic. Mobile had also done well in the early stages of the war, and from April to June 1861 entrances and clearances were matters of daily occurrence.[52] With the largest port in the South captured, in 1862 and 1863 the Union blockade in the Gulf was greatly tightened and after the fall of Vicksburg in July 1863, more blockaders were available to bottle up Mobile.[53] Then the blockade-running switched mainly to the Texas ports, primarily Galveston. In the summer of 1864, Mobile was put under siege and its trade virtually stopped as the ships moved to Galveston. In January and February of 1865, fleets of fast iron steamers moved