previous next

Doc. 122.-Digest of Admiral Milne's report on the blockade.

I regret that it is my duty to discuss, in a measure, the nature of this so-called blockade. Representatives of the United States meet me with two statements, the force of which it will be for your lordships to decide. I am told by some that there is no pretensions on the part of the United States of a blockade existing; that the Government is merely closing its own ports, to do which they claim to have a perfect right. In direct conflict with this are all the official notifications of United States officers. Capt. Adams, for instance, writing on board the Sabine, on May 19, says in a letter to Gen. Bragg:

This (Pensacola) port is now strictly blockaded,


Commodore Mervin's announcements — I have not seen any of them — are said to be similarly worded; and I am told that the President of the United States “publicly promulgated the blockade of all the ports south of Baltimore,” (which is in the State of Maryland.)

A prominent feature of this alleged blockade is the complete absence of uniformity, order, and regularity which has characterized it. The distance of several rendezvous of the naval fleet from Washington, the difficulty with which communication is kept up, and the immense extent of the coast line to be guarded, are represented as the causes which necessitated the United States Government to leave the date of blockade, and the commencement of it, to the discretion of the commanders of men-of-war. No date was laid down on which the cessation of general commercial intercourse was to stop, and ports situated within a day's sail of each other have been for weeks blockaded, and not blockaded, at the same time.

The confusion arising from this state of things can be imagined by your lordships. On the 19th of May, as you will see by the enclosed circular, the blockade of Pensacola began; yet, up to the 30th of that month, vessels freely obtained admission; some had leave to do so, others were not even overhauled, and others, still, seemed to defy the cruisers. One bark, ordered off from the Pensacola entrance, through an unknown instrumentality, found out that Mobile was not guarded, and immediately sailed for and arrived at that place, where her cargo was disposed of. Five or six brigs, two barks, and some fifteen or twenty schooners, also warned off by the fleet, moved to other harbors, and easily gained admission.

A grace of fifteen days was given to vessels under certain circumstances, which were so confusedly explained, that no one I have seen thus far could properly understand them. Three British ships, laden with cotton in the harbor of Mobile, were compelled to pack up and go away, to fulfil this requirement, while, under almost similar circumstances, four barks and brigs were permitted to commence loading at another point, on the twentieth day after the announcement of the blockade.

The frequency of vessels escaping the vigilance, or rather the lack of vigilance, of the United States squadron, are too numerous to [407] be even named. I sent Capt. Von Donop, of the Jason, to look after the interests of our shipping, and to the efficiency of the blockading ships, in several ports. He mentions numerous cases of ships, barks, and brigs, escaping the cruisers. I learn that while a large American frigate — fully as formidable as the St. George, apparently — was under steam off Charleston, a complete flotilla of small ocean traders and coasters continued to pass into the city, and out again, either regardless of, or insensible to, the presence of war ships.

The numerous facts establishing the perfect inefficiency of the men-of-war, in regard to the stopping of commercial intercourse with ports before which they have appeared, could be elaborated to a great length. But even now, [the admiral, permit your correspondent to say, is writing about the 2d of June,] St. Marks, an important port, is not at all cut off from maritime trade, as one of my fleet saw all sorts of vessels enter and depart from it, without being impeded. Appalachicola was thronged with craft until a few days since, and four other ports are stated to be open to-day.

A regular steamer communication is constantly kept up between Savannah, an important harbor in the State of Georgia, and some other ports.--N. Y. Times, July 25, 1861.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Milne (1)
Mervin (1)
Jason (1)
Donop (1)
Doc (1)
Braxton Bragg (1)
John Adams (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
May 19th (2)
July 25th, 1861 AD (1)
June 2nd (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: