Browsing "Southern Culture Laid Bare"

The Americans of 1860

An honest appraisal of events leading up to the national convulsion of 1860-1865 begins with understanding the American mind of that era. The literature is clear that Northerners rid themselves of slaves in their midst by selling them southward and did not want the black man among them – but restricted to the South. Northern workingmen too feared black freedmen coming northward seeking employment at wages less than that which white men would accept. But war came and the black man solved Lincoln’s dwindling enlistment problem as refugee freedmen were put in the ranks; white veterans were showered with generous bounties after 1863 to reenlist and eventually muster out – if they lived – rather wealthy men.

The Americans of 1860

“There is no evidence to show that the American people of 1860, not only those living in slaveholding States, but also the vast majority of Americans living in the former slaveholding States of the north and others, thought the Negro capable of skipping over the tendencies which the white man had derived from thousands of years of his well-developed civilization, and passing with or without a few years training, from the mental condition and inheritance of barbarians and slaves into full equality with the free citizens of a self-governing republic, whose laws, traditions, habits and customs were totally alien, far more alien than those of the Japanese and Chinese.

The Americans of that day did not feel that a mere statute law permitting the Negro to equal the white man in autonomous government could enable him to do so. The slave system was considered fundamentally not as a matter of morals, of right and wrong, but merely as an economic arrangement which was essentially the outgrowth of an inequality and difference in inheritance between the average white and black man.

It is safe to say that all of the Southerners and most of the Northerners knew that the Negroes were not a race resembling angels in ability, to pass from one extreme to the other without passing through the middle.

Therefore, it cannot be said that there was a basic antagonism between the Northern and Southern people in regard to the slavery question in the Southern States. If there was any real vital difference between the North and South, it was on what constituted a sectional control of the federal government. And Northerners in 1860 failed to realize that the Republican party of 1860 answered perfectly to Washington’s definition of a geographical party against the formation of which he solemnly warned his fellow-countrymen in his Farewell Address.”

(The Peaceable Americans of 1860-1861: A Study in Public Opinion. Mary Scrugham, Columbia University, 1921, pp. 57-60)

The Timeworn Stereotype of the South

In the following paper historian Frank L. Owsley refutes the claim that the North fought the war to preserve democratic government in America. He asserted that on the surface the South sought to establish its independence while the North fought to deny this desire. Owsley wrote that by early 1861 the Southern people “felt it both abhorrent and dangerous to continue to live under the same government with the people of the North. And so profound was this feeling among the bulk of the Southern population that they were prepared to fight a long and devastation war to accomplish a separation. On the other hand, the North was willing to fight a war to retain their fellow citizens under the same government with themselves.”

The Timeworn Stereotype of the South

“The Civil War was not a struggle on the part of the South to destroy free government and personal liberty, nor on the part of the North to preserve them.

Looked at from the present perspective of the worldwide attempt of totalitarians to erase free governments and nations living under such governments from the face of the earth, the timeworn stereotype that the South was attempting the destruction of free government and the North was fighting to preserve it, seems very unrealistic and downright silly.

Indeed, both Northern and Southern people in 1861 were alike profoundly attached to the principles of free government which is substantiated by period newspapers, diaries, letters and speeches give irrefutable evidence in support of this assertion. Their ideology was democratic and identical.

By 1860 the northeastern section of the United States had already assumed its modern outlines of a capitalist-industrial society where the means of production were owned by a relatively few. That is to say that New England and the middle States were fast becoming in essence a plutocracy with the lower classes dependent upon those who owned the tools of production.

Turning to the South, which was primarily agricultural, we find the situation completely contradictory to what has usually been assumed. The so-called slave-oligarchy of the South owned scarcely any of the land outside the black belt and only about 25 percent of the land inside the black belt. Actually, the basic means of production in the black belt and in the South as a whole was well-distributed among all classes of the population. The overwhelming majority of Southern families in 1860 owned their farms and livestock; about 90 percent of the slaveholders and about 70 percent of the non-slaveholders owned the land on which they farmed.

And it is important to note that the bulk of slaveholders were small farmers and not oligarchs – the majority of whom owned from one to four slaves and less than three hundred acres of land.

Thus, unlike the industrial population of the East, the overwhelming majority of white families in the South, owned the means of production. In other words, the average Southerner like the average Westerner possessed economic independence and held on strongly to its democratic ideology and sound economic foundation of a free government.”

(The Fundamental Cause of the Civil War, Frank L. Owsley. Journal of Southern History, Vol. 7, No. 1, February 1941. pp. 5-6)

Oct 20, 2022 - Foreign Viewpoints, Historical Accuracy, Immigration, Southern Culture Laid Bare, Southern Patriots    Comments Off on Foreigners Serving the Confederacy

Foreigners Serving the Confederacy

The following is historian Dwight Dumond’s book review of Ella Lonn’s “Foreigners in the Confederacy found in the North Carolina Historical Review, Vol. XVIII, No. 1, January 1941. pp. 85-86.

Foreigners in the Confederacy. By Ella Lonn. (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press. 1940.

“This record of the services rendered to the Confederate States of America by foreigners and by foreign-born citizens will take rank as one of the foremost contributions to the mounting volume of revisionist literature in that field of American history. In it we have presented, for the first time, an adequate appraisal of the importance of a large segment of the Southern population. It might not be too much to say that, for the first time, we have been told of its existence; and the telling has shattered some venerable traditions.

Foreign immigration into the United States during the two decades preceding the Civil War did not go entirely to the free states. In 1860 the foreign-born in Mobile constituted twenty- five per cent of the white population, in Charleston thirty per cent, in Savannah thirty-three per cent, in New Orleans forty per cent, in Memphis forty-two per cent. There were 3,263 Irish in Charleston, 3,100 in Savannah, 4,100 in Memphis. In New Orleans there were 24,398 Irish, 19,752 Germans, and 10,564 French. There were 43,464 Irish and 88,487 Germans in Arkansas. Ten per cent of the people in Texas were born under a foreign flag. Many races were represented among the 250,000 foreign-born in the Confederate States with Irish, German, French, and English predominating. They were slave- holding planters, merchants, professional men, skilled craftsmen, and unskilled workers.

Having discussed the geographical distribution of the several racial groups in her first chapter, Miss Lonn then traces their relationship to every aspect of the intersectional conflict. There is an excellent chapter on their divergent and changing attitudes toward slavery and secession; there are long accounts of the prominent military and civil officials under the Confederacy; and there is a chapter on military companies of foreign-born and one on foreign-born adventurers. The array of such prominent men is imposing – cabinet members Benjamin, Memminger, and Mallory; diplomats and special commissioners Henry Hotze, Father John Bannon, Reverend Patrick N. Lynch, and John A. Quintero; officers Patrick R. Cleburne, Prince de Polignac, Heros von Borcke, and a host of others; and entire companies of French, Polish, Italian, Spanish, and Irish troops, including the famous German Fusiliers of Charleston, the Emerald Guards of Mobile, and the Louisiana Zouaves.

Finally, there are three outstanding chapters dealing with the contributions of the foreign-born in special fields of military service such as engineering, secret service, ordnance, and medicine; with foreigners of distinction as teachers in schools and colleges, as businessmen, and as manufacturers; and with Confederate legislation and diplomatic conversations respecting foreigners in particular reference to citizenship and conscription.

It is a remarkable book, excellently documented, containing a splendid bibliography, and, considering the enormous quantity of facts and statistics presented, written with a pleasing style that excites admiration.

DWIGHT L. DUMOND

Oct 17, 2022 - Indians and the West, Race and the South, Southern Culture Laid Bare    Comments Off on Florida Indians and Bushwhackers

Florida Indians and Bushwhackers

The Seminole tribe of Indians is said to have originated in the 1750’s as a clan of Georgia Creeks separated from the main tribe and moved southward. They indeed held slaves as documented by Minnie Moore Wilson (Seminoles of Florida, 1910) who wrote of a Seminole chief told a traveling white abolitionist that though the white man’s slave was free, “the Injun esta lusta (negro) belong to Injun – now you go.”

Florida Indians and Bushwhackers

“Many plantation owners in Georgia and South Carolina lost slaves who escaped to the wilds of Florida and the frequent cross-border Seminole raids on plantations often killed entire families and carried off more slaves. This would eventually push the American government toward military solutions and the annexation of Florida.

The Seminole tribe initially acquired black slaves as gifts from the British after 1763 or were purchased by them in imitation of Europeans and held in “a type of democratic vassalage” to the tribe. Though not considered the equals of the Seminole and living in separate settlements, black runaways were trained to hunt, fish and fight against white settlers who lived on Seminole land.  After the tribe’s defeat in 1839, many of these “black Seminoles” accompanied the tribe to resettlement in the West. Interestingly, the name “Seminole” itself translates to “seceder” or “runaway” from the Creek nation, which occurred in 1750 under Chief Secoffee.

Only twenty-two years later the resettled Seminoles fought bravely against Northern soldiers in three Seminole Mounted Volunteer regiments of the Trans-Mississippi Department, led by Major John Jumper, whose Seminole name was “Hemha Micco.” Seminoles also fought alongside the victorious Florida and Georgia forces at the Ocean Pond (Olustee) battle on February 20, 1864.

One Northern soldier wrote a New York friend just after the engagement:

“The most desperate enemy that we have to contend with here is the Florida Indians in roving bands of bushwhackers [who] occasionally steal upon our picket lines under cover of night . . . Many Redskins are sharpshooters. During the recent battle, they took themselves to the tree-tops and picked off many of the officers of the Colored Troops.”

(Key West’s Civil War: Rather Unsafe for a Southern Man to Live Here.” John Bernhard Thuersam, Shotwell Publishing, 2022, pg. 143)

Jun 10, 2022 - Foreign Viewpoints, Historical Accuracy, Southern Culture Laid Bare, Southern Patriots    Comments Off on Solomon Bear and German Immigrants to Wilmington

Solomon Bear and German Immigrants to Wilmington

Solomon Bear and German Immigrants to Wilmington

Solomon Bear came to Wilmington with brothers Marcus and Samuel in 1853 from Bavaria, and of course immersed themselves in the growing German and Jewish population. Bavaria was the part of Germany where the largest number of Wilmington’s adult German immigrants hailed from by 1860 and subsequent chain migration brought their relatives to the area, many being those of modest income rather than poor. In 1860 Wilmington’s German-Jewish immigrants were mostly self-employed merchants who most often began as clerks in Jewish-owned stores. In that year twelve of the eighteen clothing stores in town were Jewish-owned.  Business success followed Solomon Bear’s “Sol. Bear & Brothers” wholesale and retail clothing at 20 Market Street which included hats, boots, caps, fancy dry goods as well as wine and liquor.

Wealthy Jewish immigrant Menasse Kahnweiler had arrived much earlier and involved himself in road construction, raising sheep, and real estate.  In 1811 he utilized the upper floor of his building as a small synagogue for local Jews to worship. As more German Jews arrived, they established such organizations as the Germania Lodge of the Knights of the Pythias, and the Schutzenverein Rifle Club which evolved into the German Volunteers (German Light Infantry) led by Capt. Christian Cornehlson, born in Hanover, Germany.

As was common in the American South of that era, Jewish merchants held black laborers with five at the Kahnweiler establishment in 1860 and owned by the company itself. Historian Jonathan Sarna tells us that “as a rule those Southern Jews who could afford slaves did so.” At the same time in Charlotte, 3 German-born Jewish dry goods merchants owned slaves.

By 1858 Wilmington had developed a considerable German population which began a drive to build a place of worship in the city – soon to be known as St. Paul’s Lutheran when completed in late 1858. The pastor was Rev. John H. Mengert, D.D.  The German Jewish population sought a place of worship which was not realized until after the war – the Temple of Israel.

When war began in 1861 Solomon Bear was already involved with Wilmington’s German Volunteers which soon became Company A of the Eighteenth North Carolina Regiment on June 15. Solomon first served as a hospital steward, quite possibly through fellow Wilmingtonian and wartime assistant surgeon Thomas Fanning Wood. Other German-born Hanoverians in the Volunteers were lieutenants Ackerman, Runge, Schulken and Vollers – and enlisted men with surnames such as Bachman, Henry Bear, Brahmer, Buckner, Dienstbach, Domler, Eigenbruner, Geier, Goldenschmidt, Gunther, Heins, Hoener, Jacoby, Katz, Klein, Koch, Koppel, Kordlander, Kornahreas, Kuhl, Kyhl, Linsbrink, Luhrs, Mauss, Ortman, Overbeck, Pfundt, Portwig, Rosenthal, Schlobohmm, Schoeber, Scwartz, Solomon, Steiniger, Stolter, Teller, Theis, Ulbrich, Von Glahn, Voss, Wagner, Weil and Westerman.

Jacob Blumenthal and Henry Wertheimer were among those who did not return home after the war.

As was common in the South, those with merchant and trading backgrounds were sent to Europe as purchasing agents for the Confederacy and Bear was no doubt charged with obtaining medical supplies to run through the blockade. The Kahnweiler store offered many European luxuries such as millinery, shoes and thread brought through the blockade. Nephew Simon Kahnweiler was a Southern agent in Europe and through his father in Philadelphia arranged for ships to run the blockade to Wilmington.

After the war Solomon returned home with wife Henrietta Melman whom he had met in Richmond, and their union produced eight children. Their residence was on North Fifth Street and business success enabled them to build their summer cottage “Breezeland” at Wrightsville Beach. Solomon took an active interest in religious affairs and was a driving force in the construction of the Temple of Isael at Fourth and Market Streets. A poignant photograph exists of the grey-clad veteran Solomon Bear on horseback on January 19, 1900 – Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Birthday. Solomon died in 1904 and sons Isadore and Fred managed the business. In 1912 they built the Bear Winery at Front and Marstellar Streets and through a legal loophole in the Prohibition Act, were able to manufacture their wine for medicinal purposes only.

Lastly, though he served in the Northern military during the war, postwar immigrant Solomon Fishblate acclimated himself to Wilmington as a supporter of the conservative Democratic party. He rose to mayor of the city first in 1878, then again in the early 1890s.

 

Notes and Sources:

Heike. Anton. Jews at the Cape Fear Coast. Southern Jewish History.

Solomon Bear. Wilmington Past, Present and Future.  1908.

“Who Owns These Monuments?”

In April 1878, former-President Jefferson Davis prepared a letter to be read at the laying of the cornerstone of the Macon, Georgia monument to Southern dead. He wrote “Should it be asked why, then, build this monument? The answer is, they [the veterans] do not need it, but posterity may. It is not their reward, but our debt. Let the monument teach . . . that man is born for duty, not for expediency; that when an attack is made on the community to which he belongs, by which he is protected, and to which his allegiance is due, his first obligation is to defend that community . . . Let this monument teach that heroism derives its luster from the justice of the cause in which it is displayed, and let it mark the difference between a war waged for the robber-like purpose of conquest and one to repel invasion — to defend a people’s hearths and altars, and to maintain their laws and liberties.”

“Who Owns These Monuments?”

“An address on “Who Owns These Monuments?” delivered by Dr. Joseph Grier of Chester, South Carolina at the dedication of the Richburg monument on May 7, 1939, best sums up the issue of responsibility.

“Whose monument is this? He said, “It is the United Daughters of the Confederacy’s because it is their labor of love, representing a long period of loyalty, devotion and sacrifice, culminating in the erection of the splendid memorial.

Secondly, it is the community’s, because it will stand by the roadside for centuries in the same place and all may see it and draw inspiration from it.

Thirdly, it belongs to the Confederate soldiers whose names ate inscribed on it, because it is erected in their honor.

And Fourthly, to God, because patriotism and devotion to duty and willingness to sacrifice are a vital part of religion, and as we feel the impact of these things, we are swept toward God.”

(A Guide to Confederate Monuments in South Carolina . . . Passing the Silent Cup, Robert S. Seigler, SC Department of Archives and History, 1997, pg. 21)

An Aristocracy of Color

Antebellum North Carolina was home to an aristocracy of industrious free-black merchants, craftsmen and farmers, such as barber John Caruthers, “Barber Jack” Stanly of New Bern.  Stanly invested his profits into plantations and town property, making him one of Craven County’s most prosperous citizens with over $40,000 in personal wealth. Free-black brick mason Donom Mumford of the same community owned ten slaves.  Also, Virginia-born, free-black Thomas Day of Milton, North Carolina, owned fourteen slaves and was an acclaimed master cabinetmaker in the 1850’s with an extensive clientele.  See: The Free Negro in North Carolina, John Hope Franklin, UNC Press, 1943.

An Aristocracy of Color

“The diary which William Tiler Johnson kept from 1835 to his death in 1851 reveals the remarkable life of this exceptional free Negro in a Southern community.

In the 1830s William made profits of $15 to $20 a day from his barber shop and eventually accumulated an estate worth $25,000. He invested capital in two stores which he rented out, made loans to white residents and owned a farm, which he named “Hardscrabble.”

To work his farm William owned fifteen slaves and employed a white overseer to direct their daily work. A gun owner, he hunted regularly, enjoyed the theater where he sat in the colored gallery among friends, attended horse races, and subscribed to five or six newspapers. He took a keen interest in city affairs, politics, criminal court, militia musters as well as fireman’s parades.

Maintaining terms of friendship with several of his barber patrons, William respected the community standards of the day against dining or drinking with white people. He belonged to the aristocracy of the free people of color, avoiding “darky dances and parties.”

(The Growth of Southern Civilization: 1790-1860, Clement Eaton, Harper & Row, 1961, pg. 92-93)

Oct 12, 2021 - Costs of War, Southern Culture Laid Bare, Southern Heroism    Comments Off on Wilmington Wrapped in Gloom

Wilmington Wrapped in Gloom

The following is excerpted from “One Good Man, Reverend John Lamb Pritchard’s Life of Faith, Service and Sacrifice,” originally written by Rev. J.D. Hufham in 1867, and edited in 2007 by Jack Fryar, Dram Tree Books. Rev. Hufham directed the proceeds of his book to Mrs. Pritchard for the education of their six children.

Rev. Pritchard, born in Pasquotank County, North Carolina in 1811, became pastor of First Baptist Church in Wilmington in early 1856. There he remained with his flock until his death from yellow fever.

Wilmington Wrapped in Gloom

“In July 1862, the dashing little Kate, formerly a Confederate packet-boat, steamed boldly through the Northern fleet blockading the mouth of the Cape Fear River, and brought to the wharves of Wilmington a valuable cargo from Nassau. She rapidly unloaded, as rapidly re-loaded with cotton, and departed on her second voyage. But she left behind her that which brought to Wilmington many a sad day, and before which even the horrors and excitement of a great war were forgotten. She left behind the seeds of the dreadful scourge, the yellow fever.”

By mid-September it was conceded that yellow fever was indeed here, and by mid-October there were some 431 cases in town and a total of 102 deaths. These grew until nearly 500 had died of the fever, plus the death of 150 black residents was reported.  Wilmington clergymen who perished were Rev. John L. Pritchard and Rev. Dr. Robert Drane, plus Dr. James Dickson who was one of the North Carolina’s most eminent surgeons and President of the NC Medical Society. Dr. T.C. Worth, brother of the Governor, and James S. Green, Treasurer of the Wilmington & Weldon Railroad both succumbed to the fever. Before his death, Rev. Pritchard wrote often to his wife in Richmond, who had departed with the children to visit relatives a few months earlier.

Sept. 22, 1862: “Dear Wife: I do not think there is any visible abatement in the disease. There have been so many deaths, but don’t be alarmed as we are just as near to God here, as anywhere out of Heaven. Let us humble ourselves and pray to God for his protection. I feel calm and resigned and pray that God will bless you all.” 

The streets had become deserted after residents not-stricken abandoned town, and harbor traffic came to a standstill as word spread on the high seas and adjacent ports. The black smoke of tar barrels filled the air with soot, somehow thought to clear the air of the contagion.

In answer to appeals for provisions and medicines – home remedies from long ago had to suffice due to the North’s blockade of medical supplies – towns up the Wilmington & Weldon tracks and beyond sent much-needed supplies. A local charitable association was formed by Mayor John Dawson to assist the families of those afflicted.

September 29th, 1862 : “Dear Wife: It is no longer the Wilmington you left. But the Lord is still with us and still will be. I have heard of several deaths this morning, several others expected to die. You cannot conceive of the desolation of our town. We find that many who have left have died. It is thought that it is safer to remain than to leave. I cannot reconcile it to myself to leave the many who must suffer, if someone does not attend them, and I try to be much in prayer. Let no one think me reckless of life, or regardless of my wife and children. No indeed, I yield to no one in my love of life or of my family. But must a minister fly from disease and danger and leave poor people to suffer for want of attention? How can he more appropriately die, than when facing disease and death for Christ’s sake?

Rev. Pritchard’s last letter to his wife was begun on October 14, 1862:

Dear Wife: Heard that Dr. Drane died . . . such a night my poor sister had: perfect prostration and utter weakness. I sat up some time . . . and listened to her plaintive moan. Well, my dear wife, do you ask me, how I feel in view of never meeting my loved ones again on earth? I cannot tell you. I must not conceal from you the true state of the case by which we are surrounded. I am sick now. My poor back and head ache, the true symptoms of fever. This is my bodily condition. I have no other trust but the precious Redeemer and He is precious to me. Though it may be feverish excitability, I am not afraid to commit you and my dear six children to Him.”

The hand of the destroyer was upon him as he wrote. After lingering nearly a month, though the fever’s grip on Wilmington was abating, Rev. Pritchard passed away on November 13th, 1862.

Sep 30, 2021 - Aftermath: Destruction, America Transformed, Carnage, Costs of War, Southern Culture Laid Bare, Southern Patriots    Comments Off on A Surgeon in a Unionist Prison

A Surgeon in a Unionist Prison

A Surgeon in a Unionist Prison

Dr. Joseph C. Shepard, born on Topsail Island, North Carolina, became Post Surgeon at Fort Fisher in 1864, and oversaw an earthen hospital beneath the Pulpit Battery of the massive fortress. During the second battle in mid-January 1865 against a massive Northern fleet with more cannon on its flagship than the entire fort contained, he dressed the leg wounds of Cape Fear District Gen. W.H.C. Whiting, and a short time later the left chest wound of fort commander Col. William Lamb.

After Gen. Whiting arrived at the fort before the second attack, he told Col. Lamb that he had come to share his fate as Gen. Braxton Bragg had “sacrificed’ the fort and its garrison.  No reinforcements would be forthcoming.

Dr. Shepard was imprisoned at Governors Island at New York for six weeks, then exchanged and sent to Greensboro, North Carolina. There he cared for the wounded at a Presbyterian church converted to a hospital, and rejoined his family at Scott’s Hill, north of Wilmington, after Gen. Johnston’s surrender at Durham.

He wrote the following from his Governors Island cell:

“I suppose it was inevitable – the War, that is. Our customs were different from those of the North. But who is to say which way was right, which way was wrong. All I know is that as I sit here in this Unionist prison on Governor’s Island, I wonder if I will ever see my family again.

Confined to these prison walls, I have nothing to do but think.  I cannot bear to think of the past several years and the ugliness of the War, so my mind drifts back to the year 1855. I had just graduated from the University of North Carolina and was preparing to study medicine in New York.  Life was so simple then.

A smile embraces my lips when I think back to May 8th, 1861, my wedding day, and envision my beautiful bride Mrs. Henrietta Foy Shepard. Although a happy day for us both, my wife was in mourning over the death of her father, Joseph Mumford Foy of Poplar Grove Plantation, who died just one month earlier. A great man he was, Mr. Foy. His death was a great loss to us all.

I had great reservations about leaving my wife so soon after our wedding, but my burning desire to further my education in medicine took me to Paris, France. Shortly thereafter, war erupted between the States back home and my loyalty to the South compelled me to return and offer my services.

Although I had originally enlisted for twelve months, an act of Confederate Congress dated April 16, 1862, extended my period of enlistment to three years or the duration of the war. Isn’t it interesting that the war came to an end exactly three months before the end of the extended enlistment period.

Oh, this cell is so cold and damp. How I wish I were with Henrietta and my daughter, Gertrude, basking in the heat of a warm, glowing fire. God willing, that day will come.

War is hell. And the ravages seem hardly reparable. But it is over. God only knows what’s in store for us now. Time will tell. I have once again read the surrender of General Lee to Lt. General Grant. We lost – but at least it’s over.

I’ve heard rumor that the failure of General Braxton Bragg to send in replacement troops was responsible for the fall of Fort Fisher. I don’t know if there is truth to this, but still, it’s over. Praise be to God Almighty with a prayer that our families will never have to endure this living hell again.”

(Reflections of Dr. Joseph Christopher Shepard, Surgeon, CSA, Governors Island Prison, Winter 1865)

 

Helot Rhett Butlers

It is said that one of the most distinguishing achievements of the American Confederacy was the ingenuity of Southern authorities and businessmen meeting the challenge of a naval blockade of its coasts. They answered the challenge with swift, light draft blockade runners fueled with quick-burning Welsh coal while utilizing two Southern-friendly islands, Bermuda and the Bahamas, for supply transshipments.

Gen. U.S. Grant, III, stated in 1961 that “if the Cambridge Modern History is correct in its allegation that between October 26, 1864 and January 1865 it was still possible for 8,632,000 lbs. of meat, 1,507,000 lbs. of lead, 1,933,000 lbs. of saltpeter, 546,000 pairs of shoes, 316,000 blankets, half a million pounds of coffee, 69,000 rifles and 43 cannons to run the blockade into the port of Wilmington alone, while cotton sufficient to pay for these purchases was exported, it is evident that the blockade runners made an important contribution to the Confederacy’s ability to carry on.” (New York History Quarterly, Vol. XLII, No. 1, January 1961, pp. 49-50).

Helot Rhett Butlers

“There were, of course, precedents for blockade evasion in the history of warfare. One striking parallel to the Southern problem occurred in 425 B.C., during the Peloponnesian War. The Athenians had succeeded in trapping a portion of the Spartan land forces on the island of Sphacteria, off the coast of Pylos, and thus, by maintaining a blockade, learned what the federal navy and government would in time come to understand: a blockade immobilized, perhaps, some of the enemy’s forces, restricted his strategy, and imposed attrition, but it did not of itself bring him to capitulation.

Thucydides records that much time was consumed in the blockade of the island because the Spartans had not stood idly by while the cream of their land forces was being starved to death.

“The fact was,” he wrote, “that the Lacedaemonians had made the advertisement for volunteers to carry into the island ground corn, wine, cheese, and any other food useful in a siege; high prices being offered, and freedom promised to any of the Helots who should succeed in doing so . . . In short, both sides tried every possible contrivance, the one to throw in provisions, the other to prevent their introduction.”

Thucydides reasoned well in considering the material inducement offered the Helots to undertake running the blockade. Those men of the Confederacy who were interested in bringing in supplies from abroad, and who were not involved in the trade officially, had rich material benefits in mind.”

(Ploughshares into Swords: Josiah Gorgas and Confederate Ordnance, Frank E. Vandiver, Texas A&M Press, 1994, excerpt pg. 85)

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