the rates of marine insurance in Northern ports and consign to forced inaction numbers of Northern vessels, in addition to the direct damage inflicted by captures at sea. How difficult, then, to over-estimate the effects that must have been produced by the hundreds of private armed vessels that would have swept the seas in pursuit of the commerce of our enemy if the means of disposing of their prizes had not been withheld by the action of neutral Europe. But it is especially in relation to the so-called blockade of our coast that the policy of European powers has been so shaped as to cause the greatest injury to the Confederacy, and the confer signal advantages on the United States. The importance of this subject requires some development. Prior to the year 1856 the principles regulating this subject were to be gathered from the writings of eminent publicists, the decisions of admiralty courts, international treaties, and the usages of nations. The uncertainty and doubt which prevailed in reference to the true rules of maritime law in time of war, resulting from the discordant, and often conflicting, principles announced from such varied and independent sources, had become a grievous evil to mankind. Whether a blockade was allowable against a port not invested by land as well as by sea, whether a blockade was valid by sea if the investing fleet was merely sufficient to render ingress to the blockaded port evidently dangerous, or whether it was further required for its legality that it should be sufficient really to prevent access, and numerous other similar questions, had remained doubtful and undecided. Animated by the highly honorable desire to put an end to differences of opinion between neutrals and belligerents which may occasion serious difficulties and even conflicts — I quote the official language — the five great powers of Europe, together with Sardinia and Turkey, adopted, in 1856, the following solemn declaration of principles: Firstly. Privateering is and remains abolished. Secondly. The neutral flag covers enemy's goods, with the exception of contraband of war. Thirdly. Neutral goods, with the exception of contraband of war, are not liable to capture under enemy's flag. Fourthly. Blockades, in order to be binding, must be effective; that is to say, maintained by a force sufficient really to prevent access to the coast of the enemy. Not only did this solemn declaration announce to the world the principles to which the signing powers agreed to conform in future wars, but it contained a clause to which those powers gave immediate effect, and which provided that the States not parties to the Congress of Paris should be invited to accede to the declaration. Under this invitation every independent State in Europe yielded its assent. At least no instance is known to me of a refusal, and the United States, while declining to assent to the proposition which prohibited privateering, declared that the three remaining principles were in entire accordance with their own views of international law. No instance is known in history of the adoption of rules of public law under circumstances of like solemnity with like unanimity, and pledging the faith of nations with sanctity so peculiar. When, therefore, this Confederacy was formed, and when neutral powers, while deferring action on its demand for admission into the family of nations, recognized it as a belligerent power, Great Britain and France made informal proposals about the same time that their own rights as neutrals should be guaranteed by our acceding as belligerents to the declaration of principles made by the Congress of Paris. The request was addressed to our sense of justice, and therefore met immediate favorable response in the resolutions of the Provisional Congress of the thirteenth of August, 1861, by which all the principles announced by the Congress of Paris were adopted as the guide of our conduct during the war, with the sole exception of that relative to privateering. As the right to make. use of privateers was one in which neutral nations had, as to the present war, no interest, as it was a right which the United States had refused to abandon and which they remained at liberty to employ against us, as it was a right of which we were already in actual enjoyment, and which we could not be expected to renounce, flagrante bello, against an adversary possessing an overwhelming superiority of naval forces, it was reserved with entire confidence that neutral nations could not fail to perceive that just reason existed for the reservation. Nor was this confidence misplaced; for the official documents published by the British government, usually called Blue Books, contain the expression of the satisfaction of that government with the conduct of the officials who conducted successfully the delicate business confided to their charge. These solemn declarations of principle — this implied agreement between the Confederacy and the two powers just named — have been suffered the remain inoperative against the menaces and outrages on neutral rights committed by the United States with unceasing and progressing arrogance during the whole period of the war. Neutral Europe remained passive when the United States--with a naval force insufficient to blockade effectively the coast of a single State--proclaimed a paper blockade of thousands of miles of coast, extending from the Capes of the Chesapeake to those of Florida and to Key West, and encircling the Gulf of Mexico to the mouth of the Rio Grande. Compared with this monstrous pretension of the United States, the blockades known in history under the names of the Berlin and Milan Decrees and the British Orders in Council, in the years 1806 and 1807, sink into insignificance. Yet those blockades were justified by the powers that declared them on the sole ground that they were retaliatory; yet those blockades have since been condemned by the publicists of those very powers as violations of international law; yet those blockades evoked angry remonstrances from neutral powers, amongst which the United States were the most
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Rebel reports and Narratives.
Doc . 91 .- General Sherman 's expedition.
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