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[112] complexities, the blade that cut the life-artery of the newly risen Confederate Government might never have been forged. The great blockade of European history was that put in force by England against the ports of France and Spain at the beginning of the last century. England's wooden walls and her sailing supremacy made this a possibility, but the fact that assisted the United States in the accomplishment of its own huge task was the power of steam. The Federal Government, through the exercise of its tremendous financial resources, organized a succession of fleets that, massed together, would have made the combined navies of the old world hesitate before descending upon the coasts of the Western continent.

The problem of transportation, always the bugbear of military governments but the deciding factor in the sum of their accomplishments, was solved by the North, not by the use of its open lines of communication, its railways, or its roads, but by control of inland waters and the coastwise ocean lanes. In one week, the fleet and the army that in the end effected the control of the Mississippi valley were moved from their home bases to the scene of active operations. Only could this have been done by a belligerent power that was able uninterruptedly to maintain its ocean traffic by means of the power of steam. It was this that enabled the Federal navy to post a cordon of pickets at the mouth of every harbor, river, and inlet from Maryland to Mexico. By means of this control of the sea-coast, the commercial operations of all the ports of the Confederacy were substantially ended. Through the use of sea power the islands of North and South Carolina were taken possession of, not without much hard fighting, however, and fighting in which the new navy of the United States proved the hitherto undemonstrated fact that unarmored vessels of heavy broadsides kept in constant motion by the power of steam could set aside the vaunted superiority of well-placed and well-fought batteries ashore.

Along the Atlantic coast were innumerable indentations

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