The Confederate Navy in Europe

The Confederate Navy in Europe

The Confederate Navy in Europe

The Confederate Navy in Europe

Excerpt

The American Civil War introduced the world to modern warfare. In the age of industrialism and nationalism it was the first war fought on a vast scale over a protracted period of time. New technologies of industrialism produced new army weapons, created new naval architecture, and forced new concepts of land and sea strategies. As battles devoured increasing numbers of men and materials, both sides sought armaments produced in Europe. They sent agents to England, Belgium, and France to buy war matériel. Purchase and shipment of war goods involved extensive maritime activities that inevitably disrupted normal international relations. European as well as American economies were affected by the battlefields. The American Civil War was a total war with worldwide economic and maritime implications.

The economics of the Civil War affected the industrial neutral nations across the Atlantic Ocean. Armaments industries prospered but luxury export industries suffered. French silk workers who produced women's gloves and bows and ribbons were put out of work by the American war, and shippers and their cargo handlers in Bordeaux suffered underemployment. But the European textile industry, Europe's largest in terms of production and number of employees, was most affected. The long- staple cotton grown along the American southern deltas fed the textile factories in England and France. The Anglo-French need for this raw product encouraged the Confederates to anticipate their diplomatic and military aid and led to the Union government's attempt to deny this to the South by naval blockades. It was a dangerous game played in Richmond and Washington, a game that might have determined the issues of the war, for if Paris and London were to seek to obtain the cotton by recognizing the South and forcing the blockades, the North's industrial advantage would have been countered; but if the Europeans were to accept the North's blockade, the South's agrarian economy would be effectively isolated. The war then would grind slowly toward a Union victory as the North mobilized its superior industrial and human resources.

The Federal government needed a navy large enough to blockade thousands of miles of southern shores. The Confederate government needed a navy powerful enough to prevent this and to allow English and . . .

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