Says Charles Francis Adams
, “It may safely be claimed that the running of the forts at the mouth of the Mississippi
and the consequent fall of New Orleans was as brilliant an operation, and one as triumphantly conducted, as Sherman
's march through Georgia
,” which, as he mentions later, was itself made possible by the undisputed maritime supremacy of the North
“Throttling the Confederacy
by the blockade throughout,” he says, “the navy was also a spear-thrust in its back.”
Great, however, as was the effect of cutting in twain the Confederacy
by the occupancy of the Mississippi
, much greater was the effect of the monotonous and unheroic work of the blockade in Atlantic waters.
By the end of the war there were captured and destroyed, in all, one thousand five hundred and four vessels, of a value of over thirty million dollars, much of which was British property.
Large as was the money value, it was as nothing in comparison with the effect in deciding the great question at issue, through the loss of that without which the South
could not live.
The failure of historians, with few exceptions, through nearly fifty years to recognize this great service done by the navy, shows a want of philosophic perception without which history is but a diary of events.
Blockade is from a dramatic standpoint but a poor offset to great battles with thousands killed and wounded, the losses in which come keenly to tens of thousands of men and women.
The fortunes of a million men in an army thus overshadow in the mind of the great public those of a comparatively meager fifty thousand in ships, and a blockade may go unnoticed by the public in war, much as the constant diplomacy of the navy goes unnoticed in peace.
To place New Orleans, Mobile
, and Hampton Roads
in the category of commonplace events is not to know war. As acts, they are among the lime-lights of history; in results, two, at least, were among the most momentous; for whatever went far to save this Union must be in such a category.