The following is underscored by the words of Gen. U.S. Grant, III in a Sept. 1960 centennial address in Oswego, NY. He refers to the Cambridge Modern History’s assertion that: “between Oct. 26, 1864 & Jan. 1865 it was possible for 8.5 million pounds of meat, 1.5 million pounds of lead, 2 million pounds of saltpeter, 546,000 pairs of shoes, 316,000 blankets, 500,000 pounds of coffee, 69,000 rifles and 43 cannons came into the port of Wilmington alone.” (New York History, Jan. 1961, pg. 49).
Defeat Did Not Come from Lack of Material
“Despite its obvious economic impact, the north’s naval cordon never really prevented the American Confederacy from acquiring more plentiful supplies of blankets, clothing and armaments than it had men to employ. Stephen Wise, the foremost contemporary expert on the blockade-running trade, concluded unequivocally: “Defeat did not come from a lack of material.”
Confederate States agents operating primarily in England and France under the direction of Ordnance Chief Josiah Gorgas’ specially established Bureau of Foreign Supplies provided a steady stream of wares despite limited means. By 1864 cotton sold at twenty-eight pence per pound compared to only nine pence in 1860. This seller’s market funded a massive Confederate credit line.
During the last six months of 1864, purchasing agents obtained $45,000,000 of credit on the basis of only $1,500,000 of government cotton. As the war continued and Southern resources dwindled, this trade increased in importance to the Confederate States war effort.
During the second half of the war, at least 127 known British-built steamers did much to sustain the South’s war effort. An estimated sixty percent of the Confederate States total small arms, one third of its lead shot, and two thirds of its gunpowder had slipped through the north’s blockade. The most celebrated State-owned and operated vessel, North Carolina’s Ad-Vance, made eight round trips from Nassau between June 1863 and September 1864 before her eventual capture. As a result of this, Tar Heel troops enjoyed better and more plentiful supplies than any other State troops as a direct result.”
(“A Notorious Nest of Offense: Neutrals, Belligerents and Union Jails for Blockade Runners. Samuel Negus, TCU, 2010, pp. 8-9)