The Importance of the Blockade Runners in the Civil War Essay

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The Importance of the Blockade Runners in the Civil War Blockade runners enabled the Confederacy to survive for as long as it did. Supplies brought into the South through the blockade included 60 percent of the weapons used by the Confederate armies and most of the ingredients needed to manufacture ammunition. In the last six months of 1864, through the ports of Wilmington and Charleston alone came 500,000 pairs of shoes, 1.5 million pounds of lead, 3.5 million pounds of meat, 2 million pounds of saltpeter, 43 cannon, and 50,000 rifles, along with clothes, blankets, and medicine. It was largely because of these imports …show more content…

About 300 ships tried to run the blockade a total of 1,300 times during the war, succeeding over 1,000 times. Blockading ships captured 136 runners and destroyed 85. The average runner made four trips; the Syren was the most successful with 33 trips, while the Denbigh made 26 trips. Salt that cost $6.50 in the Bahamas sold for $1,700 in the South. Such immense profits made blockade running worth the risks. In order to meet the new difficulty, a new device was adopted. Cargoes were sent out to Nassau, and were there transshipped, sometimes directly, from vessel to vessel, in the harbor, sometimes after being landed on the wharf; and thence were transported in a new conveyance to the blockaded port. Return cargoes were transshipped in the same way. This had a double advantage. It made the continuity of the transaction much more difficult of proof, and it enabled the capitalists engaged in the trade to employ two different classes of vessels, for the service for which each was specially adapted. For the long voyages across the Atlantic heavy freighters could be used, of great capacity and stoutly built; and the light, swift, hardly visible steamers, with low hulls, and twin-screws or feathering paddles, the typical blockade-runners, could be employed

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