of the blockade was given formally, first at Hampton Roads
by Flag-Officer G. J. Pendergast
three days after President Lincoln
had signed the proclamation declaring it. This was on the 30th of April, 1861.
On the 11th of May, Captain W. W. McKean
, commanding the frigate Niagara
which had hastened home from Japanese waters, appeared off Charleston
and gave notice to the foreign ships then in that port that the blockading laws would be rigidly enforced.
On the 25th of May, he appeared off Pensacola, Florida
, and the same day gave notice.
Neutral vessels were boarded and warned off the coasts.
The steam frigate Brooklyn
, under Commander C. H. Poor, at the same time proclaimed the blockade at the mouth of the Mississippi
, and Lieutenant D. D. Porter
, in the Powhatan
, did the same thing at the entrance to Mobile Bay
The menace had begun.
By July, every port had been informed.
, especially England
, was at first inclined to laugh at the attempt to close these profitable markets.
It was indeed at the outset, in view of the bigness of the task, apparently ludicrous.
Here was a coast three thousand five hundred and forty-nine miles long, containing almost two hundred places where anchors could be dropped and cargoes landed.
But very soon the shoe began to pinch.
As a foreign writer of renown, in reviewing this phase of the war, puts it, “the rapid rise in the prices of all imported commodities in the insurgent States presented the exact measure of the efficiency of the blockade.”
In December of 1861, when Congress met, the Secretary of the Navy
reported that in addition to the regular forces then afloat there had been purchased one hundred and thirty-six vessels; that thirty-four ships had been repaired and put in commission, and that fifty-two vessels were in process of construction, making in all two hundred and sixty-four ships manned, armed, and equipped, and flying the flag of the United States
In the eight months of the war the available navy had been more than trebled.
Engaged in the blockade duty were two separate squadrons.