Friday, February 1, 2013

Tales of Blockade Runners

From Wonders and Marvels:
In April 1861, as soon as President Lincoln declared a blockade of 3,500 miles of coastline in an attempt to cut off the Confederacy’s overseas trade, savvy Southerners found ways to evade it. England, which remained neutral, allowed agents to buy at will, and a blockade-running business flourished abroad. Low, sleek ships like the Bermuda set sail from Liverpool and broke the cordon, slipping into the wharf at Savannah with a million-dollar cargo: cannon, rifles, cartridges, gunpowder, shoes, blankets, morphine, and ever-valuable quinine, which was used to treat malaria. Domestically, two Philadelphia-based, politically connected chemical manufacturing companies, Powers Weightman and Rosengarten Sons, supplied quinine to Union troops, but employees who valued profit over patriotism or sympathized with the South were always eager to make a deal.

Smugglers and spies swarmed the towns along the Potomac River, a burgeoning network that linked rebels in Virginia and Maryland, the latter a tobacco-producing border state with a significant slave population. Despite constant patrolling by the federal navy, hundreds of rebels crossed the river at Pope’s Creek, where the water stretched fewer than two miles wide. A farmer named Thomas A. Jones—who would aid John Wilkes Booth’s escape in 1865—lived on the Maryland side. He had calculated a sliver of time, just before dusk, when the sun grazed the high bluffs above Pope’s Creek and threw a shadow across the river, enabling small rowboats to land and hide without detection. (Read entire post.)

1 comment:

julygirl said...

Stories of Civil War exploits always fascinate....