Cotton in seaports.
--Although the great bulk of the cotton is not in the seaports, there may be enough in those cities and in exposed positions on the Western
rivers, to be a great object to the enemy.
The letter from a gunboat commander at Louisville
, to one of the spies lately arrested in New Orleans, requests explicit information about various Western rivers, and how much cotton there is as them, and how much will be made, "for it will be our aim to take all the cotton on these rivers and send it up the Ohio.
" One such vessel, with two or three such ships as are now lying idle at Charleston
, and New Orleans, Norfolk
, , and some other vessels of that class, could not only defend our own coasts and harbors against the threatened descents of the enemy, but could carry the war into his own harbors, and enter the waters of Portland
and burn that city; could threaten the dozen towns upon the coast of Maine
, and other places in New Hampshire
, the towns upon the coast of Massachusetts
, and sundry points in Rhode Island
, New York, and New Jersey
.--Indeed, with one such ship, with two or three small light draft gun-boats, a hundred towns can be reached, placed under contribution, or burnt, if necessary, for retaliation; and all this with far more ease and safety than the enemy can make descents upon our coast.
But there is another advantage in this proceeding; such a demonstration would call off and scatter the heavy vessels of the blockading fleets, and leave our harbors open, or at least obstructed by nothing more formidable than nondescript war vessels, improvised in haste by Lincoln
from the merchant marine.
If, at the beginning of this conflict, the Navy Department had been able to procure in Europe
one or two iron or steel-plated frigates, the blockade of the Southern
coast would by this time be broken.
It is no exaggeration to say that such a ship as La Gloire, of the French Navy
, or one of the same class lately built in England
, would be more than a match for the best half- dozen wooden frigates that could be selected from all the navies in Christendom.
The expenditure of a few millions for this object, if it were practicable, would have shown itself by this time to be the most productive outlay ever made by a Government.