Saturday, January 3, 2015

150-years-ago The Blockade was Pourous

Richmond Daily Dispatch
January 3, 1865

Blockade Runner Teaser off Fort Monroe, Virginia. (Library of Congress)
     Notwithstanding the alleged ceaseless vigilance of the Yankee navy in watching blockade-runners on the Atlantic and Gulf coast of the Confederate States, their close attention has amounted to comparatively little. Setting aside all that has been supported on State and individual account, the proceeds of the blockade have been very great. The restrictions imposed upon foreign commerce by the act of Congress of last session prohibiting, absolutely, during the pending war, the importation of any articles not necessary for the defence of the country — namely; wines, spirits, jewelry, cigars, and all the finer fabrics of cotton, flaw, wool, or silk, as well as all other merchandise Serving only for the indulgence of luxurious habits, has not had the effect to reduce the number of vessels engaged in blockade-running; but, on the contrary, he number has steadily increased within the last year, and many are understood to be now on the way to engage in the business.
     The President, in a communication to Congress on the subject says that the number of vessels arriving at two ports only from the 1st of November to the 6th of December was for:-three, and but a very small proportion of those outward bound were captioned. Out of 11,796 bales of cotton shipped since the 1st of July last, but 1,272 ere lost — not quite eleven per cent.
     The special report of the Secretary of the Treasury in relation to the matter shows that there have been imported into the Confederacy at the ports of Wilmington and Charleston site October 26, 1864, 8,632,000 pounds meat, 1,507,000 pounds of lead, 13,000 pounds of saltpetre, 546,000 pairs of shoes, 346,000 pairs of blankets, pounds of coffee, 69,000 rifles, 97 packages of revolvers, 2,639 packages of medicine, 43 cannon, with a large quantity of other articles, of which we ed make no mention. Besides these, any valuable stores and supplies are brought, by way of the Northern lines, to Florida, by the port of Galveston through Mexico, across the Rio Grande.
     The shipments of cotton made Government account since March 1864, amount to $5,296,006 in specie. Of this, cotton, to the value of $1,500,000, has been shipped since the 1st of July and up to the 1st of December.
     It is a matter of absolute impossibility for the Federal to stop our blockade-running at the port of Wilmington. If the wind blows off the coast, the blockading fleet is driven off. If the wind blows landward, they are compelled to haul off to a great distance to escape the terrible sea which dashes on a rocky coast without a harbor within three days sail. 
      The shoals on the North Carolina coast are from five to twenty miles wide; and they are, moreover, composed of the most treacherous and bottomless quicksands. The whole coast is scarcely equalled in the world for danger and fearful appearance, particularly when a strong easterly wind meets the ebb tide.
     It is an easy matter for a good pilot to run a vessel directly out to sea or into port; but in the stormy months, from October to April, no blockading vessel can lie at anchor in safety off the Carolina coast. Therefore supplies will be brought in despite the keenest vigilance.

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