were to be properly manned and fitted out, and sent to the Confederate States
, thence to export enough cotton to pay for them, and as much more as should be required to provide for the armament and equipment of our forces.
Such a plan, it was thought by the Frazer house
, could be easily carried out. The United States government would require time to collect and rendezvous its fleet, the inadequacy of which was well known; and no fear need, therefore, be entertained of its ability, at that time, to enforce a blockade of the Southern
ports: an effective blockade could be prevented.
After a certain number of voyages with large cargoes of cotton, for the purposes already mentioned, these steamers might be converted into cruisers, and employed to impede and destroy Northern commerce.
, thoroughly impressed with the incalculable benefits to be derived from the adoption of such a project, promised Mr. Trenholm
to use his utmost endeavors in furtherance of the measures that gentleman was sent to advocate.
In a letter to General Beauregard
, dated Charleston
, 18th September, 1878, Mr. Trenholm
says: ‘This I remember well, that you warmly supported the proposition, and used your influence in aid of its being brought before the cabinet, which was accomplished.’
But neither General Beauregard
's earnest advice, nor the strong and cogent reasons given by Mr. Trenholm
, were of any avail.
The Confederate government, under the erroneous belief that the war would be a short one,1
declined entertaining the proposals made to it. ‘No discussion took place in my presence,’ says Mr. Trenholm
, in the letter already alluded to, ‘but from questions put to me, I have always been under the impression that few, if any, of those present’ (meaning the President
and members of the cabinet) ‘realized at all the scope and importance of the measures laid before them.’
Thus was closed upon the Confederacy
a door—then wide open—through which might have entered that material assistance, those sinews of war, the want of which all the heroism of our troops and the endurance and selfsacrifice of our people could not remedy.
believed—and expressed the opinion at the time—that we were engaged in a long and terrible war; and he earnestly wished to see the country prepared accordingly.