It was created early in 1862 when the Gulf Blockading Squadron was split between the East and West. The Union blockade in the American Civil War was a naval strategy by the United States to prevent the Confederacy from trading. "[23] The South proclaimed that many domestic and even some international markets depended so heavily on their cotton, that no one would dare spark tensions with the South. Blockade running was reasonably safe for both sides. Great Britain and the Confederate Navy, 1861–1865. The Navy Department, under the leadership of Navy Secretary Gideon Welles, quickly moved to expand the fleet. Some 52 more warships were under construction by the end of the year. In order to assess that role, one must consider what would have happened had the South not only prevented or lifted the Union's blockade of southern ports, but mounted attacks against or blockaded northern ports. [8], At the start of the war the United States Navy—with a strength of only 90 vessels, of which half were sailing ships—was grossly inadequate for the task at hand, but the Navy Department quickly attempted to correct this deficiency. This revenue loss severely impaired the South's war-making ability, particularly its ability to acquire a first-class navy. The runners adapted to such tactics by firing their own rockets in different directions to confuse Union warships.[15]. Naval captain Samuel F. Du Pont chaired the board, which included Alexander D. Bache, head of the US Coast Survey; Charles Henry Davis, an astronomer associated with the navy; and Major John G. Barnard, a US Army engineer with expertise in coastal defenses. In 1861, nearly 80 steamers and 60 sailing ships were added to the fleet, and the number of blockading vessels rose to 160. See Surdam (1998) and Surdam (2004) for elaborate detail. It was split into the East and West Gulf Blockading Squadrons in early 1862 for more efficiency. In four years, $25 million in prize money was awarded. The East Gulf Blockading Squadron, assigned the Florida coast from east of Pensacola to Cape Canaveral, was a minor command. Ordinary freighters had no reasonable hope of evading the blockade and stopped calling at Southern ports. The blockade severely reduced cotton exports and choked off munitions imports. However, at the time of her capture, she had turned a 700% profit for her English owners, who quickly commissioned and built the Banshee No. Such attacks would have created economic hardships and eroded support for the Lincoln administration and the northern war effort. This unit was the main military force deployed by the Union in the capture and brief occupation of Galveston, Texas in 1862. One historically notable naval action was the attack of the Confederate submarine H. L. Hunley, a hand-powered submarine launched from Charleston, South Carolina, against Union blockade ships. Blockade service was attractive to Federal seamen and landsmen alike. In the final analysis, the blockade played the major role in causing hardship and demoralization among the people of Texas, convincing them that further resistance was useless.[22]. The blockade was proclaimed by President Abraham Lincoln in April 1861, and required the monitoring of 3,500 miles (5,600 km) of Atlantic and Gulf coastline, including 12 major ports, notably New Orleans and Mobile. The paddle steamer Whisper, made a round trip between Bermuda and Wilmington at the end of 1864, making it the last vessel to complete a blockade run.[12]. Housatonic sank with the loss of five crew; Hunley also sank, taking her crew of eight to the bottom. [38] Under international law and maritime law, however, nations had the right to stop and search neutral ships in international waters if they were suspected of violating a blockade, something port closures would not allow. Instructions: To take the quiz, click on the answer. It was not illegal under international law; captured foreign sailors were released, while Confederates went to prison camps. This page was last modified on 9 April 2019, at 23:39. Thus, Confederate cotton exports were reduced 95% from 10 million bales in the three years prior to the war to just 500,000 bales during the blockade period. What is the main purpose of the August 16th proclamation? ", Fisher, John Phillip. In three and one-half years, the 85-ship fleet captured or destroyed 283 Confederate blockade-runners; eliminated the sugar and salt industries along the Florida coast, provided sanctuary for thousands of white and black refugees, and helped to project federal military power into the Florida interior. The measure of the blockade's success was not the few ships that slipped through, but the thousands that never tried it. The Union victory at Vicksburg, Mississippi, in July 1863 opened up the Mississippi River and effectively cut off the western Confederacy as a source of troops and supplies. They were operated largely by foreign citizens, making use of neutral ports such as Havana, Nassau and Bermuda. p. 342. After 1862, only three ports—Wilmington, North Carolina; Charleston, South Carolina; and Mobile, Alabama—remained open for the 75 to 100 blockade runners in business. "[26] Despite these consequences, Great Britain concluded that their decision was crucial in terms of reaching abolition of slavery in the United States. Second, Federal control of the coastal waters and inland rivers impeded southern intra-regional movement of goods, cutting off needed supplies of beef and other foodstuffs from Texas and Florida to civilians and soldiers throughout the eastern Confederacy. Shortages of bread led to occasional bread riots in Richmond and other cities, showing that patriotism was not sufficient to satisfy the daily demands of the people. More than 50,000 men volunteered for the boring duty, because food and living conditions on ship were much better than the infantry offered, the work was safer, and especially because of the real (albeit small) chance for big money. 408 pp. "Through the Blockade: the Profitability and Extent of Cotton Smuggling, 1861-1865. On the night of February 17, 1864, the Hunley attacked the USS Housatonic. Shortages of all goods, combined with a sense of isolation, created despair among the people. But eventually Great Britain began to see the effects of the blockade, "the blockade had a negative impact on the economies of other countries. Archer Jones, "Military Means, Political Ends: Strategy," in Gabor S. Boritt, ed. As the Union fleet grew in size, speed and sophistication, more ports came under Federal control. [19] In the final two years of the war, the only ships with a reasonable chance of evading the blockade were blockade runners specifically designed for speed.[20][21]. Its official range of operation was from the Potomac River to Cape Fear in North Carolina. [21] The first attack failed, but with a change in tactics (and Union generals), the fort fell in January 1865, closing the last major Confederate port. In early March 1862, the blockade of the James River in Virginia was gravely threatened by the first ironclad, CSS Virginia in the dramatic Battle of Hampton Roads. The West Gulf Blockading Squadron was tasked primarily with preventing Confederate ships from supplying troops and with supporting Union troops along the western half of the Gulf Coast, from the mouth of the Mississippi to the Rio Grande and south, beyond the border with Mexico.

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