- Management of the Confederate Administration. -- importation of arms. -- permitted under International law. -- blockade Ineffective the First year. -- Federal Government obtained all arms Wanted from abroad. -- failure of Confederate Government in that respect. -- inefficiency of the agent. -- no arms forwarded during 1861. -- Administration occupied with manufacturing arms at home. -- nitre beds. -- purchase of a Navy. -- ten First-class steamers offered to the Confederate Government in May, 1861. -- offer declined. -- attempts to build ironclads, and late obtainment of a few ships. -- object not to raise the blockade, but to assail the Federal mercantile marine. -- efforts inefficient. -- financial operations. -- sale of time bonds in Europe secured by cotton, our true Resource.—$75,000,000 offered to the Confederates in London and Paris for time bonds secured by cotton. -- Administration resorted to constant issue of Treasury notes, not redeemed. -- compulsory funding in bonds. -- destroyed credit of Confederate States. -- diplomacy. -- consisted of arguments about rights and dependence of England on American cotton. -- Confederate Administration made no offer of commercial advantages by treaty. -- low duties and navigation laws. -- no diplomacy. -- defence of territory, population, and supplies. -- progressive losses. -- effect on public opinion and feeling. -- Confederate conscription, instead of State troops. -- impressment Makeshifts, instead of efficiency in Commissary and Quartermaster Departments. -- causes concurring to produce a disastrous end. -- the South after the War. -- present attitude in the Union. -- the future in store. -- memory of the late struggle.
In bringing this book to a close it may be pertinent and profitable to the reader in search of truth, to pass briefly in review the management of the Confederate government in several matters vitally affecting the issue of the cause. To do this it is necessary to note our success or failure in providing the ways and means of defence. These consisted: first, in the importation of arms and munitions of war from Europe; second, in the purchase of a navy; third, in the financial operations of the government; fourth, in its diplomacy with foreign nations, especially England and France. As a result following the action of the administration in these particulars, it is important to observe the progressive failure of the government in defending the territory, population, and supplies of the Southern States. With correct ideas on these subjects  and a knowledge of public opinion and feeling concerning the management of Confederate affairs, the materials will be present for judging of the causes which led to the disastrous end. Thus is the web of fate woven. But, in touching upon these grave topics, which control military events and shape history, no more can be attempted here than a brief, if suggestive, outline. 1. It was patent to every man of intelligence in the country that arms, ammunition, accoutrements, soldiers' clothing, shoes, and blankets must be procured from Europe. The Confederate government was established in February, 1861. War was declared in the latter part of April. During three months there was not the slightest obstacle to the obtainment of arms and munitions. And, after declaration of war, the laws of nations authorized the citizens of neutral powers to sell to belligerents articles contraband of war, and to supply gunpowder and every description of arms. These laws were specifically confirmed by decrees of the courts of England and of the United States. Neutrality and a recognition of the belligerent rights of the Confederate States were soon assured by England, France, and other nations of Europe. And the blockade attempted of the Southern seaports was, for six months, no more than nominal, and thereafter very imperfect, to say the least of it, up to the close of the war. On the 1st of May, 1861, the British Minister at Washington was informed by the Secretary of State, Mr. Seward, that he had sent agents to England, and that others would go to France, to purchase arms for the United States. This fact was communicated to the British Foreign Office, which interposed no objection. The government of the United States managed to receive in safety all the warlike supplies which it induced British manufacturers and merchants to send, and its arsenals were replenished from British sources. A reference to the bills of entry in the custom-houses of London and Liverpool shows that from May 1st, 1861, to December 31st, 1862, vast shipments of implements of war were made to the Northern States. The official customhouse returns set forth that 341,000 rifles, 41,500 muskets, 26,500 flint guns, 49,982,000 percussion-caps, and 2250 swords were exported to the North. And from one-third to one-half as much more was shipped as ‘hardware.’ Meantime, the head of the Confederate administration, elected on account of his acquaintance with military no less than civil affairs,  a graduate of West Point, distinguished as a colonel in the Mexican war, and afterwards Secretary of War, and familiar with the personnel of the United States army—a man who expressed his conviction that the North would certainly make war upon the South, and urged military preparations for defence—picked out Major Caleb Huse and sent him to England, as agent, to purchase arms. Major Huse was also a graduate of West Point, of the class of 1847, from Newburyport, Mass., and, since the war, has been, and still is, principal of a preparatory school at West Point, N. Y. He did not go abroad until after war was declared, and ran the blockade from the harbor of Charleston, with instructions to buy ten thousand (!) rifles.1 On the 30th of December, 1861, he wrote: ‘Not able to send anything.’ It seems, however, to have been held by the Confederate administration that Major House displayed prodigious energy when he sent the information that he ‘had in a warehouse at St. Andrew's Wharf, Liverpool, 25,000 rifles, 2000 barrels of powder, 500,000 cartridges, 13,000 accoutrements, 226 saddles, with blankets, socks, etc.;’ these ‘guarded by government watchmen, and the wharfingers ordered not to ship or deliver without acquainting the Board of Customs.’ So much for the commercial caution and skill of this select agent, whose repute is assuredly that of an estimable citizen, but not that of an active, enterprising, and practical man. If there were other agents sent to Europe by the Confederate government to purchase and ship arms the fact has not been published. The competent agency of John Frazer & Co., of Liverpool, might have been obtained by the government, and that of Confederate officers, one or more, who furnished the Russian government with arms during the Crimean war of 1855, and had information of the available arms in Europe. But their knowledge and experience were not utilized. Most of the wholly insufficient supply of arms that was obtained came through the private enterprise of merchants shipping at their own risk, and were sold to the government after landing. A large number were also acquired by capture on the fields of battle. While the timely importation of what we sorely needed from abroad received comparatively insignificant and inefficient attention, the energies and agents of the administration seemed chiefly occupied in the preparation, within the Confederate States, of  nitre beds and other elaborate arrangements, which required time, and therefore accomplished little before the tide of war was fatally turned against us. Of men willing to engage in the defence of their country Mr. Davis himself testifies there were many more than the government could arm. There were very many out of the army who were anxious to enter it, but for whom the government had no arms. Three hundred and sixty thousand offered their services to the government before it moved from Montgomery, at the end of May, 1861. In 1862 accepted regiments were encamped at Richmond which had been awaiting their arms for several months. The chief anxiety of General Albert Sidney Johnston at Bowling Green was to procure arms and men. Half of his troops were imperfectly armed, and whole brigades remained without weapons during the autumn of 1861. Importunate cries went up to the government from the West for the supplies which would enable patriotic citizens to defend their homes. Here, there, everywhere, the difficulty of the Confederate administration was the want of arms. The first Secretary of War, General L. P. Walker, after vainly urging the importation of arms by the hundred thousand, resigned, because it was determined by the President not to put into camps of instruction, for the campaign of 1862, the large number of troops on which the Secretary insisted. 2. In the procurement of a navy the Confederate administration was not more successful. An appropriation of ten millions of dollars in bonds, invested in cotton, would have enabled the Government to obtain a sufficient number of first-class steamships, to prevent a blockade; and such a proposition was actually made to it. When the East India Company surrendered to the Crown its control of British India it had for sale a fleet of swift and stout steamers, built for armament, to secure the Company's interests in the Indian seas, and for long voyages. These vessels, of great size and power (then recently built) were ten in number— four first-class, and six, for our purposes, scarcely inferior. They could have been bought in England at less than one-half the cost, and could have been equipped, manned, armed, and put on the coast of the United States within six months after the formation of the Confederate government 2—that is, by August or September,  1861—for $10,000,000, or covered by 40,000 bales of cotton. The owners were willing to receive cotton or such other payment as might be convenient. Mr. Charles K. Prioleau, of the Liverpool branch of the house of John Frazer & Co., made this negotiation of his own accord;3 and an agent of the firm went from Charleston, S. C., to Montgomery with his proposition, that the Confederate government should buy these vessels on the terms mentioned. But the proposal was declined. This occurred about three months after the organization of the Confederate government, and constitutes a strange commentary upon the predictions of a terrible war, and the anxiety of Mr. Davis to prepare for it. Mr. Prioleau is a man of high standing, socially and commercially, and the correctness of his statements cannot be doubted. The season of 1860 was a fine one for cotton, and a large crop was made. The people of the Cotton States were prosperous and rich. There were very many who did not need their crops for their immediate support, and there were very many who had money for investment. Although a good deal of cotton was shipped abroad, as usual, a considerable amount was held in the interior, and it was freely at the disposal of the government in exchange for its bonds, payable at a distant day. Recognizing the importance of preventing the closure of the Southern ports, it was early proposed and urged by men of prominence to purchase cotton with bonds of the Confederate States. VicePresi-dent Stephens suggested 2,000,000 bales of the crop of 1860, and 2,000,000 more from the crop of 1861. With this cotton, or any considerable part of it, either got out before the ports could be effectually closed by blockade, or in hand and pledged, a large number of the best steamers, ironclads or others, could have been bought, or contracted for and built, in Europe. This line of policy would have enabled the government to procure a number of ships by the end of 1861, and in no long time a navy vastly superior to that of the United States. The blockade might have been prevented, and Northern shipping—which was the weak point of the North—might have been swept from the ocean; all the cotton we had to export might have been convoyed across the sea; all needed supplies might have been procured; the credit of the Confederate States might have been established, while that  of the United States might have been crippled, by the prevention of duties from imports and exports; and, by the development of such power and resources, the Confederate States might have secured the recognition of their established place among the independent nations of the world. But the administration failed to discover the true policy, or had not the capacity and energy to carry it out. That which is highly practicable for some men is wholly impracticable for others. Hence, the successes and failures that checker life mark the difference between men of eminent competence and those who bear the brand of signal incompetence on great occasions. The blockade—at first a mere semblance—was allowed to grow gradually, and, by great and intelligent effort on the part of the North, became more efficient and real, although never perfect. Meanwhile, the Confederate administration expended its energies and resources, thus cramped, in a few partially successful attempts at building ironclads at the South, and had an agent in England to buy ships for the purpose of attacking Northern commerce on the seas. The frigate Merrimac, raised from the water at Norfolk, was by March, 1862, converted into the ironclad ram Virginia, with a draught of twenty-two feet. She was not seaworthy, and was unable to drive the Federal fleet out of the shallow waters of Chesapeake Bay; and when the peninsula was evacuated she had to be burned, on Craney Island, within two months after her completion. The steam-ram Mississippi, at New Orleans, was not finished when that city fell. The Louisiana, from defective machinery, was of little account. The North Carolina and the Raleigh, constructed at Wilmington, went to the bottom at the entrance of the Cape Fear River, without accomplishing anything. The Palmetto State and the Chicora, at Charleston, had home-made machinery, none having been imported by the government. This was so inadequate that what was effected with the vessels hardly merits a special mention. There was— we might say—one exception: the Arkansas, saved from destruction by the forethought of General Beauregard, but whose short and glorious career was due to the intrepidity of her commander, his officers and crew, and not to her own strength and capacity. None of these Confederate vessels or ironclads were, in the strict sense of the word, seaworthy, and, beyond river and harbor defence, none of them could render effectual service.  The agent of the Confederate government in Europe for the obtainment of ships was Captain J. D. Bullock. How late he went is not known. On the 24th of August, 1862, he got the Alabama afloat, under the famous Semmes——not to raise the blockade, but to assail the mercantile marine of the North. And up to that period the Alabama and the Florida had been the only ships of any consequence secured. The latter commenced her career from Mobile Harbor, under Captain Maffit. The Sumter and the Jeff. Davis, two frail, indifferent craft, extemporized for cruising from merchant-ships in Southern ports, had already closed their brief careers. The Nashville, a coasting steamer, made a voyage across the ocean in 1863, under Captain Pegram, and was run ashore on the coast of Georgia, to save her from capture. In 1864 the Shenandoah was bought in England, and placed under command of Captain Waddell; the Georgia, under Captain Maury. The Tallahassee and the Chickamauga—blockade-running screw-propellers had run into Wilmington—were also bought, and sent out with the Confederate flag, under Captains Wood and Wilkinson respectively, in 1864. What was done by the Confederate government to raise the blockade, on the one hand, and to sweep the commerce of the North from the ocean, on the other, was accomplished, almost exclusively, by the few ships mentioned. Such were the tardy and feeble efforts made, which show the extent of the failure to procure a navy. Meanwhile, we had naval officers of superior ability—one admiral, twelve captains, thirty commanders, and one hundred and twelve lieutenants—all ready and anxious for service. The principal officers had belonged to the navy of the United States common to both sections before the war, and among them were men of world-wide renown. 3. In regard to the financial operations of the Confederate government, it was believed by many that Treasury notes, payable for all public debts, except duties, could be used to the amount of from $100,000,000 to, possibly, $200,000,000. But, beyond that limit, it was unquestionable that such issues must exceed the necessities of business and bring about want of confidence, speculation, and depreciation. At best Treasury notes were simply a form of credit, based upon income or funds derivable from certain sources. And it was obvious that for the actual means of carrying on the government and meeting the requirements of a  great war we were necessarily dependent upon three resources: duties on imports and on exports; direct taxation; and the sale of bonds for money, or for cotton, which, in the markets of the world, commanded gold. With a blockade interfering to prevent imports and exports it was plain that duties would yield but little revenue; and so long as such a state of things continued to exist that source must be of small avail. With a blockade the marketing of the staple products of the country was also interrupted; and when, besides this, our people were urged to plant less cotton and to grow food crops, it was manifest that direct taxation would prove, not; merely onerous, but, in the emergencies of the government, utterly inadequate. The practical resource of the Confederacy, therefore, consisted in the sale of bonds, payable in ten, twenty, thirty, or forty years. The people of the South were earnest and patriotic in their efforts permanently to establish their government; and, so far as they had means available for investment in bonds, they were willing to invest their money and their cotton. Their private resources were far ampler than those of their ancestors in 1776 and in 1812, when the blockade was complete; and they were able to make such investments to sustain the government. But, for the pressing exigencies of a great war, it was evident that the Confederate government must obtain means through large loans on time from bankers abroad, as is commonly done. The sale of bonds abroad depended on the security offered. The Confederate government, newly set up, was involved in a struggle of vast proportions. Capitalists are proverbially cautious, and it could not be expected that the moneyed men of Europe would lend the large amounts needed upon the bare stake of the success of the Confederate States in achieving independence. But the people of the South raised cotton in large amounts, which, in the markets of the world, was equivalent to specie, and there was a general willingness to transfer a large portion of it to the Confederate government in exchange for bonds bearing 8 per cent. interest, and payable at a distant day. With this cotton, from the crops of 1860, 1861, and 1862, to sell or to pledge in Europe, funds necessary to carry on the war effectively, and to keep up the credit of the country, could have been obtained. And, using cotton as a tangible collateral security,  the Confederate government might have arranged to get the benefit of an advance of price. It should not be forgotten that, in the summer of 1862, the British consul at Charleston, Mr. Bunch, made this official statement concerning the efficiency of the blockade: ‘Authoritative accounts and commercial letters, submitted to me by my government, prove that any vessel in Europe destined for a Southern port could be insured, with her cargo, at a premium of 7, 10, 15 per cent.’ And to show, beyond a reasonable doubt, the practicability of this policy and the financial failure of the administration, a single additional fact may be cited. As late as March, 1863, when the Treasury notes of the Confederate government were worth but twenty-five cents on the dollar, a loan of $15,000,000 was asked on Confederate bonds, secured by cotton, to be delivered at Charleston, Savannah, Mobile, or New Orleans, or within ten miles of a railroad or stream navigable to the ocean. The applications in London and in Paris to take the loan exceeded $75,000,000; and it stood in the London market at 5 per cent. premium. For this fact Mr. Davis is our authority. The United States, during the war, had no such substantial basis on which to issue currency or to negotiate loans on time bonds. Their credit rested solely on their progress and prospective success in reducing the South by force of arms. And the helplessness manifested by the Confederate administration in utilizing its superior advantages in financial position gave strength and potency to the efforts of the Northern government, which borrowed, from time to time, all that it required. That the Confederate government should purchase, With its bonds, the cotton in the South, and ship it or pledge its delivery, as above suggested, was proposed and pressed in the early days of its organization. But the policy was neither appreciated nor acted upon. The customs collected up to August 1st, 1862, amounted to only $1,437,400. And the people had been harassed by a direct tax, from which, to that date, only $10,539,910.70 had been realized; $15,000,000 were raised on bonds, secured by a duty on the exportation of cotton of one-eighth of a cent per pound; and $22,613,346.61 were raised on 8.20 bonds. A resort to the issue of Treasury notes and call certificates to the amount  of $248,106,116.61 covers nearly all the financial operations effected up to the date mentioned. The permanent constitution of the Confederate States went into effect on the 22d of February, 1862; and in this constitution it was provided that Congress should appropriate no money from the Treasury except by a vote of two-thirds of both Houses, taken by yeas and nays, unless it were asked and estimated for by some one of the heads of departments, and submitted to Congress by the President. Therefore, unless the Executive asked for appropriations for any purpose, it was hardly possible to pass them, and, if passed, they were subject to the President's veto. So that the administration, and not Congress, was chiefly responsible for the financial operations. By December, 1863, the currency put out by the Confederate government amounted to over $600,000,000, or much more than threefold the sum required by the business of the country. The scale of depreciation was as follows: Confederate currency.
|October, 1861||$1.00 at par.|
|November, 1861||1.10 below|
|August, 1863||$14.00 b. par.|