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The Trent Affair


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#41 KingSargent

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Posted 25 April 2005 - 1832 PM

Not quite.  Fort Fisher, at Wilmington, was an earthwork which did not predate the war.  It was not one of the 3rd System masonry forts.  Fort Pulaski, downriver from Savannah was, and it fell to the Union in short order.  There may have been land based artillery at work there(as at Charleston), but that seems to have been SOP for the Union. 


One of the lessons of Fort Pulaski was the excellent effect of James Rifles (converted smoothbores) on the fortifications. They were indeed fired by the Army from shore positions.
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#42 Grant Whitley

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Posted 25 April 2005 - 1948 PM

One of the lessons of Fort Pulaski was the excellent effect of James Rifles (converted smoothbores) on the fortifications. They were indeed fired by the Army from shore positions.

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Poor landward defenses were the Achilles hell for a lot of the Third System fortifications. I don't believe that the Third System plan really anticipated an adversary capable of landing enough troops to represent a threat. The two major examples I can think of where Third System fortifications held out are Sumter and Fortress Monroe. Both of these had strong landward defenses due more to circumstance than design; Sumter was in the middle of Charleston harbor and as such lacked a landward side. Monroe was connected to the mainland only by a narrow peninsula.
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#43 Richard Lindquist

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Posted 25 April 2005 - 1959 PM

Monroe was connected to the mainland only by a narrow peninsula.

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"neck" not "peninsula"
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#44 Grant Whitley

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Posted 25 April 2005 - 2002 PM

"neck" not "peninsula"

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Yes, quite right. The fort sits on the peninsula and is connected by an isthmus.
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#45 swerve

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Posted 26 April 2005 - 0258 AM

Nobody willing to venture an opinion on how much difference British material aid to the Confederacy might have made?
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#46 Richard Lindquist

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Posted 26 April 2005 - 0511 AM

Nobody willing to venture an opinion on how much difference British material aid to the Confederacy might have made?

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Yes. Confederate soldiers starved because of the inadequacies of the southern logistics system. While a large part of this was pure mismanagment on the part of the CS War Dept and the railroad companies, the inability of the southern economy to manufacture railroad rails, locomotives, and the metal portions of freight and passnger cars was a major contributor. If these could be imported, it would have been a tremendous help to the war effort.
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#47 DougRichards

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Posted 26 April 2005 - 0821 AM

I have just scanned replies so far, so please excuse me if I raise points that others may have already mentioned.

Didn't the Union Army employ large numbers of British manufactured Enfield rifled muskets? Wasn't there extensive trade between the Union and Britain through the war?

Whilst the Union was heavily industrialised it also imported a significant quantity of war materiel.

As has been previously mentioned, if this materiel had been diverted from the North to the South there may have been some different outcomes in some campaigns.

Not too many people have mentioned the other British colonies. India and Egypt were also important producers of cotton, and Britain may have seen it to be in her interest to keep Southern cotton off the world market.

A different result may have been obtained from the British entering the war on either side. The British may have learnt the power of modern musketry, instead of going into the Boer wars thinking that they could advance lines of infantry onto areas defended by emplaced riflemen.
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#48 swerve

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Posted 26 April 2005 - 0957 AM

Not too many people have mentioned the other British colonies.  India and Egypt were also important producers of cotton, and Britain may have seen it to be in her interest to keep Southern cotton off the world market. 

A different result may have been obtained from the British entering the war on either side.  The British may have learnt the power of modern musketry, instead of going into the Boer wars thinking that they could advance lines of infantry onto areas defended by emplaced riflemen.


1) Egypt didn't come under British control until about 1880. In the 1860s it was a self-governing state within the Ottoman Empire. British governments were more interested in India as a captive market for British manufactures than a source of cotton. IIRC, cotton from the southern USA was cheaper than Indian, due to lower shipping costs, & the cotton manufacturers were far more important politically than Indian cotton growers, so no, there was no pressure to keep Southern cotton off the market. Au contraire.

2) A good point. Garnet Wolseleys reforms may have come 20 years earlier.
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#49 Grant Whitley

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Posted 26 April 2005 - 1022 AM

IIRC, cotton from the southern USA was cheaper than Indian, due to lower shipping costs, & the cotton manufacturers were far more important politically than Indian cotton growers, so no, there was no pressure to keep Southern cotton off the market. Au contraire.

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You're probably right about Southern cotton being cheaper. Currently at least, the varieties of cotton grown in tropical areas are specialty large boll strains used to make specialty goods. A compounding problem was that these varieties could only be grown in very specific climates and were very labor intensive. This is precisely why the South became an important cotton producer; varieties were developed which were specifically designed to thrive in more variable climates.
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#50 JOE BRENNAN

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Posted 26 April 2005 - 1127 AM

Didn't the Union Army employ large numbers of British manufactured Enfield rifled muskets?  Wasn't there extensive trade between the Union and Britain through the war?

As has been previously mentioned, if this materiel had been diverted from the North to the South there may have been some different outcomes in some campaigns.

Not too many people have mentioned the other British colonies.  India and Egypt were also important producers of cotton, and Britain may have seen it to be in her interest to keep Southern cotton off the world market. 

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I think the main answers to those both are economic, though they go in opposite directions.

Sale of 1853 Enfields was almost all by private contractors for profit. Both sides bought many, a common estimate is 500k north, 400k south. Not clear and not likely the south would have soaked up the other 500 at the same highly profitable (many fortunes made in CW arms making/dealing) prices. Something like 1.5mil Springfield 1855/61/63/64 were produced (the most common weapon though all kinds of older US and weapons sold from foreign arsenals too) so Enfield purchase was fairly significant. Assuming a reason to reduce gun maker profits it would have had a marginal impact (more guys retaining smoothbores and less effective old Continental purchased rifles, rather than fewer soldiers, probably) that could have tipped some campaign or battle, to not allow sale to the North.

3/4 of Britain's cotton imports in antebellum period were from the US, trending generally higher. Diversification to other exporters (or back to them in India's case, having been displaced by the South) was generally a result of the CW (or just postwar, like Suez Canal in India's case and general world economic growth) rather than preceding it. Moreover many mills were set up for the particulars of American cotton so immediate substitution was difficult; they were screwed for a while, even though obviously the supply was never entirely cut off. Cotton was definitely an economic reason for Britain to be pro-South (anti blockade anyway), conventional wisdom is correct on that one.

Re: third system fort land defences: in general ships alone seldom overcame forts in ACW or elsewhere, properly conducted unbroken land sieges with the right guns almost always did (really anytime after the invention of gunpowder). Again going back to Crimean example, the Sevastopol forts suffered hardly at all from a relatively rapidly deployed naval bombardment, but were reduced gradually by a systematic siege artillery bombardment, similar in both respects to ACW experience. I don't think any coast defence builder of that time would hope for success v. a proper land siege that couldn't be lifted by one's own land forces. But that requires a much better prepared, prolonged and focused effort by the enemy. It is true that geography rendered some forts able to defend waterways but difficult to lay siege to with land guns, with the ranges of that time. The increase in rifled gun ranges was a factor though perhaps in which locations might fall into this category, and how long a siege would take on others, v when the forts were designed.

Joe

Edited by JOE BRENNAN, 26 April 2005 - 1200 PM.

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#51 Jim Martin

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Posted 27 April 2005 - 0100 AM

I seem to recall reading that the cotton crop of 1860 was especially bountiful, leaving huge surpluses in European warehouses. This meant that there was no especially urgent need on the part of European manufacturers to re-open trade with the South in order to obtain more cotton.
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#52 Richard Lindquist

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Posted 27 April 2005 - 0449 AM

I seem to recall reading that the cotton crop of 1860 was especially bountiful, leaving huge surpluses in European warehouses.  This meant that there was no especially urgent need on the part of European manufacturers to re-open trade with the South in order to obtain more cotton.

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On the outbreak of war, the CS government made cotton a government monopoly and ried to temporarily embargo export of cotton in an attempt to drive up the price to increase their take from the cotton. This also caused the users of raw cotton to develop other suppliers.
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#53 Guest_Hans Engström_*

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Posted 27 April 2005 - 0727 AM

What would the effects of a British declaration of War been on the policies of the French?

However, as noted before, it is hard to see what advantages to Britain there could have been on entering the war (although the breakup of the USA into smaller parts might have been to the good of the Empire).

Waht would the long temr effects have been on a situation with the USA stalemated in the South, occupying tracts of Canada but blockaded by the United Kingdom (and perhaps France). In a history of New York I read a few years back I was informed of a fairly active secessionist movemnt in New York City, something I was unaware of.
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#54 Richard Lindquist

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Posted 27 April 2005 - 0752 AM

What would the effects of a British declaration of War been on the policies of the French?

However, as noted before, it is hard to see what advantages to Britain there could have been on entering the war (although the breakup of the USA into smaller parts might have been to the good of the Empire).

Waht would the long temr effects have been on a situation with the USA stalemated in the South, occupying tracts of Canada but blockaded by the United Kingdom (and perhaps France). In a history of New York I read a few years back I was informed of a fairly active secessionist movemnt in New York City, something I was unaware of.

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Not necessarily pro-secession, just anti-war and anti-draft (rich man's war, poor man's fight). There were anti-negro and anti-draft riots in New York. Also, many northern Democrats looked at a victorious war as advancing Republican power (as happened in the 1865-1913 time frame) and tried to sabotage the war effort both passively and actively.

I am not sure how an independent Confederate government would have viewed a French imperial client-state in Mexico with possible revanchist claims to southwestern US territory.
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#55 swerve

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Posted 27 April 2005 - 0833 AM

I am not sure how an independent Confederate government would have viewed a French imperial client-state in Mexico with possible revanchist claims to southwestern US territory.


Depends, I s'pose. I'm sure the Confederacy wouldn't have liked it, but maybe if it was willing to ally against the US, writing off Texas (or at least, most of it) as too long lost & too settled by Anglos in exchange for maybe a sliver of mostly Mexican-inhabited land along the Rio Grande, & co-operation against the Yanquis further west, the Confederates might warm to the idea. In the long run, the Confederacy needed all the friends it could get, faced with a future with a long border with a far more powerful enemy.

I wonder how the Mormons might have reacted to an offer of Confederate/Mexican/French backing for independence?
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#56 Richard Lindquist

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Posted 27 April 2005 - 0904 AM

However, as noted before, it is hard to see what advantages to Britain there could have been on entering the war (although the breakup of the USA into smaller parts might have been to the good of the Empire).

Waht would the long temr effects have been on a situation with the USA stalemated in the South, occupying tracts of Canada but blockaded by the United Kingdom (and perhaps France).

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A peace which gave Canada back to England and gave independence to the CSA would have saddled England with the status of being a protector of the CSA as the US and CS bickered off and on about westward expansion and border disputes. In addition, England would eventually have been forced to exercise political will and pressure to end slavery in the CSA.

As it was, with both the US and GB willing to be flexible on the "Alabama Claims", there emerged an era where all of the resources of the US were poured into reconstruction of the south and westward expansion 1865-1895. The US wasn't comepitive and often was cooperative with Brit imperial exapnsion in Africa and Asia, and in policing Latin America and the Carribean to keep the peace. The US also did not interfere with Brit efforts to maintain the balance of power in Europe andf their efforts to build against the Russo-French alliance. The US was only a rival to the Brits on a commercial basis.
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