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rried public opinion to his side; and-while the Government could then do nothing but persist in effort for recognition, now so vital — the people felt that dignity was uselessly compromised, while their powerless representatives were kept abroad, to knock weakly at the back door of foreign intervention. Slight reaction came, when Mason and Slidell were captured on the high seas, under a foreign flag. Mr. Seward so boldly defied the rampant Lion; Congress so promptly voted thanks to Captain Wilkes, for violating international law; the Secretary of the Navy-after slyly pulling down the blinds-so bravely patted him on the backthat the South renewed her hope, in the seeming certainty of war between the two countries. But she had calculated justly neither the power of retraction in American policy, nor Secretary Seward's vast capacity for eating his own words; and the rendition of her commissioners — with their perfectly quiet landing upon British soil-was, at last, accepted as sure
Chapter 31: the Chinese-Wall blockade, abroad and at home. Foundation errors lost opportunity the Treaty of Paris view first southern commissioners doubts the Mason Slidell incident Mr. Benjamin's foreign policy Deleon's captured despatches murmurs loud and deep England's attitude other great Powers Mr. Davis' view if interest of the Powers the Optimist view production and speculation blockade companies sumptuary laws growth of evil power Charleston and Savannah running the fleet at Wilmington demoralization and disgust the Mississippi closed Vicksburg running the Bloc. on the border the spy system female agents. Potent factor in sapping the foundations of Confederate hope and of Confederate credit, was the blockade. First held in contempt; later fruitful mother of errors, as to the movements and intentions of European powers; ever the growing constrictor-whose coil was slowly, but surely, to crush out life-it became each year harder to be
rning wheels, they would drop down the Cape Fear, at night, to within a hundred yards of the looming blockade giant. Then, putting on all steam, they would rush by him, trusting to speed and surprise to elude pursuit and distract his aimand ho! for the open sea. This was a service of keen excitement and constant danger; demanding clear heads and iron nerves. Both were forthcoming, especially from navy volunteers; and many were the hair-breadth ‘scapes that made the names of Maffit, Wilkinson and their confreres, household words among the rough sea-dogs of Wilmington. Savannah suffered least of the fair Atlantic sisterhood, from the blockade. The early capture of her .river forts blocked access to her wharves, almost effectually; though occasional steamers still slipped up to them. Yet, she was in such easy reach of her more open neighbors, as to reap part of the bad fruits with which they were so overstocked. These proud southern cities had ever been famed throughout
ad been compelled to stand idly by and witness the bloodless reduction of Sumter. Later-when strengthened armaments threatened constant attack-Lee and Beauregard had used every resource to strengthen defenses of the still open port. What success they had, is told by the tedious and persistent bombardment-perhaps unexampled in the history of gunnery; surely so in devices to injure non-combatant inhabitants. On the 30th January, 1863, the two slow, clumsy and badly-built rams, under Captain Ingraham--of Martin Koszta fame-attacked the blockading squadron and drove the Union flag completely from the harbor; but re-enforced by iron-clads, it returned on the 7th of April. Again, after a fierce battle with the fort, the Federal fleet drew off, leaving the Keokuk monitor sunk; only to concentrate troops and build heavy batteries, for persistent attempt to reduce the devoted city. The history of that stubborn siege and defense, more stubborn still; of the woman-shelling swamp-angel and
med closed. Their Government declared-and the southern people believed — that such nominal blockade would not be respected by European powers; and reliant upon the kingship of cotton inducing early recognition, both believed that the ships of England and France-disregarding the impotent paper closure-would soon crowd southern wharves and exchange the royal fleece for the luxuries, no less than the necessaries, of life. When the three first commissioners to Europe-Messrs. Yancey, Rost and Mann-sailed from New Orleans, on March 31, 1861, their mission was hailed as harbinger to speedy fruition of these delusive thoughts, to which the wish alone was father. Then-though very gradually-began belief that they had reckoned too fast; and doubt began to chill glowing hopes of immediate recognition from Europe. But there was none, as yet, relative to her ultimate action. The successful trial trip of the Nashville, Captain Pegram, C. S. N.-and her warm reception by the British press and p
ostered the widest latitude in press-rumors thereanent, but deemed it politic to forget contradiction, when — as was invariably the case — the next blockade-runner brought flat denial of all that its precedent had carried. Still, constant promises with no fulfillment, added to limited private correspondence with foreign capitals, begat mistrust in elusive theories, which was rudely changed to simple certainty. Edwin DeLeon had been sent by Mr. Davis on a special mission to London and Paris, after Mr. Yancey's return; his action to be independent of the regularly established futility. In August, 1863, full despatches from him, to the southern President and State Department, were captured and published in the New York papers. These came through the lines and gave the southern people the full and clear expose of the foreign question, as it had long been fully and clearly known to their government. This publication intensified what had been vague opposition to further reten
Johnny Reb (search for this): chapter 32
t at the risk of a costly foreign war. There was bitter disappointment in the South, immediately succeeding dissipation of these rosy, but nebulous, hopes in the kingship of cotton. Then reaction came-strong, general and fruitful. Sturdy Johnny Reb yearned for British rifles, shoes, blankets and bacon; but he wanted them most of all, to win his own independence and to force its recognition! There are optimists everywhere; and even the dark days of Dixie proved no exception to the ruleeverance, were omitted to prevent the passage of anything living, or useful, into the South. But none of this availed against the untiring pluck and audacity of the inland blockade-breakers. Daily the lines were forced, spies evaded, and bold Johnny Reb passed back and forth, in almost guaranteed security. Such ventures brought small supplies of much-needed medicines, surgical instruments and necessaries for the sick. They brought northern newspapers-and often despatches and cipher letter
and disgust the Mississippi closed Vicksburg running the Bloc. on the border the spy system female agents. Potent factor in sapping the foundations of Confederate hope and of Confederate credit, was the blockade. First held in contempt; later fruitful mother of errors, as to the movements and intentions of European powers; ever the growing constrictor-whose coil was slowly, but surely, to crush out life-it became each year harder to bear :--at last unbearable! At first, Mr. Lincoln's proclamation was laughed to scorn at the South. The vast extent of South Atlantic and Gulf coast-pierced with innumerable safe harbors-seemed to defy any scheme for hermetic sealing. The limited Federal navy was powerless to do more than keep loose watch over ports of a few large cities; and, if these were even effectually closed, it was felt that new ones would open, on every hand, inviting the ventures of enterprising sailors. This reasoning had good basis, at first; and-had the
was uselessly compromised, while their powerless representatives were kept abroad, to knock weakly at the back door of foreign intervention. Slight reaction came, when Mason and Slidell were captured on the high seas, under a foreign flag. Mr. Seward so boldly defied the rampant Lion; Congress so promptly voted thanks to Captain Wilkes, for violating international law; the Secretary of the Navy-after slyly pulling down the blinds-so bravely patted him on the backthat the South renewed her hope, in the seeming certainty of war between the two countries. But she had calculated justly neither the power of retraction in American policy, nor Secretary Seward's vast capacity for eating his own words; and the rendition of her commissioners — with their perfectly quiet landing upon British soil-was, at last, accepted as sure token of how little they would accomplish. And, for over three years, those commissioners blundered on in thick darkness — that might not be felt; butting their hea
e ocean ports. Almost as damaging, in another regard, were the occupation of New Orleans, and the final stoppage of communication with the trans-Mississippi by the capture of Vicksburg. The Heroic City had long been sole point of contact with the vast productive tracts, beyond the great river. The story were twicetold of a resistance-unequaled even by that at Charleston and beginning with first Union access to the river, by way of New Orleans. But, in May, 1862, the combined fleets of Porter and Farragut from the South, and Davis from the North, rained shot and shell into the coveted town for six terrible weeks. Failing reduction, they withdrew on June 24th; leaving her banners inscribed-Vicksburg vicrix! In May of the next year, another concentration was made on the key of the Mississippi; General Grant marching his army one hundred and fifty miles from its base, to get in rear of Vicksburg and cut off its relief. The very audacity of this plan may blind the careless thin
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