The Union Blockade Essay Research Paper THE — страница 7
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of blockade-running cargo space, but it wasn’t until February 1864 that the government passed stricter regulations securing themselves one-half of the cargo space, and outlawing importation of a number of luxury goods. However, this was apparently not sufficiently enforced, because over the war, the Confederate government had only shipped out 50,000 bales of cotton to its own account. Thus, for the most part, blockade-running was almost completely in the hands of private ventures. Unfortunately, it was most often conducted by the “Rhett Butlers” of this world, who, instead of bringing vital supplies for the Confederate war effort, chose to bring cargoes full of silks, perfumes, and liquors which fetched higher profits. Thomas Taylor, a blockade-runner, commented that since “It did not pay merchants to ship heavy goods, the charge for freight per ton at Nassau being ?80 to ?100 in gold, a great portion of the cargo generally consisted of light goods, such as silks, linens, quinine, etc., on which immense profits were made.” Even as late as November 1864, after the ban on luxury goods, an official of a Wilmington blockade-running firm wrote to the agent in Nassau not to send any more chloroform, but to send perfume and “Essence of Cognac” because it would sell “quite high.” As a result, “Wealthy ladies of the South were provided with dresses and bonnets, while soldiers went without food, clothing, and ammunition.” This was not so much the result of the blockade as it was the fault of the Confederate government. The Confederates were, however, able to survive for a long time while dependent on blockade-running for most of their supplies, and this is in itself a proof of the ineffectiveness of the blockade. During the war, 330,000 stands of arms (mostly Enfield rifles, and some Austrian and Brunswick rifles) came in through the Gulf blockade on the Confederate government account. Together with the arms shipped on state accounts in the East coast and private shipments, about 600,000 arms were imported. This means that over 60 percent of the South’s modern arms were imported through the blockade. The South also imported 3 million pounds of lead (one-third of the army’s needs), 2,500,000 lbs. of saltpeter (two-thirds of the army’s needs), three-fourths of the total powder ingredients, and the great majority of cloth and leather for uniforms through the blockade. The shortages of the Confederate armies were due to the South’s lack of industry, not the strangling effects of the blockade. On the whole, the blockade was under-enforced. After an exceptionally slow start, the blockade was never able to seal off Southern shipping. Thousands of superior blockade-runners passed through the ramshackle blockade and made incredible profits with relatively low risks. There are many misconceptions that the blockade was responsible for the horrible economic situation and lack of supplies, but this was due more to the Confederate inability to take advantage of the weakness of the blockade. Through their cotton embargo and lack of government-controlled blockade-running, they did not work to give themselves a large portion of the profits and bring in the supplies the Confederacy needed. As it turned out, private enterprises kept the rich Southerners supplied with all the silks and wines they needed, while the Confederate troops were without shoes and the Confederate government without money.