Jump to content


Photo

Breaking the Blockade


  • Please log in to reply
580 replies to this topic

#1 Grant Whitley

Grant Whitley

    True Heart of the Aztec

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 4,286 posts

Posted 01 August 2006 - 1955 PM

It's 1863, and Britain and France have thrown in with the Confederacy. How would an attempt to break the blockade fare?

The Europeans would have several factors in their favor:

1. The presence of a hostile Anglo-French fleet(s) would force the Union to protect its own coastline against blockade/bombardment, thus diminishing the number of ships available to blockade the Confederate coast. This alone might effectively break the still somewhat tenuous blockade.

2. The Anglo-French could sortie from Bermuda and mass against a single point of their choice. It would be difficult for the Union to respond, since many of the blockading vessels were of questionable seaworthiness, and in any case doing so would probably weaken the blockade so much in other areas that it would be "broken" there rather than at the point of the European attack. If things get too hairy, the Euros head back to Bermuda, rinse and repeat. This threatens to unravel the blockade; Union ships spend more time responding to or waiting for Anglo-French raids than they do stopping blockade runners.

3. European naval power could potentially threaten the land bases in Confederate territory that the blockade depended on. See Hoke's 1864 campaign in eastern North Carolina- a relatively small number of troops backed by one primitive ironclad captured one of the two major Federal bases in the area. New Bern would have fallen even without the support of CSS Neuse but for lack of time-Hoke was recalled when Grant started making noises in Virginia.
  • 0

#2 Jim Martin

Jim Martin

    Kick me! I'm not allowed to hit back!

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 23,552 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:St. Louis, MO area

Posted 01 August 2006 - 2018 PM

Even given the complete absence of a blockade in 1863, could this have changed the fate of the Confederacy?

I think the writing was pretty much on the wall by then.
  • 0

#3 Grant Whitley

Grant Whitley

    True Heart of the Aztec

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 4,286 posts

Posted 01 August 2006 - 2023 PM

Even given the complete absence of a blockade in 1863, could this have changed the fate of the Confederacy?

I think the writing was pretty much on the wall by then.

View Post


If we're dealing with a scenario in which Britain and France have recognized the Confederacy in the first place, that presupposes that the Confederacy has had better luck on the battlefield than she did historically(I chose not to go into specifics because I wanted to discuss this hypothetical naval contest).

Anyway, the question isn't whether or not the Confederacy would ultimately win, it's how the navies would have fared in battle against each other.

Edited by Grant Whitley, 01 August 2006 - 2024 PM.

  • 0

#4 Jim Martin

Jim Martin

    Kick me! I'm not allowed to hit back!

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 23,552 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:St. Louis, MO area

Posted 01 August 2006 - 2033 PM

Does anyone have available to them a OOB of the British and French fleets, 1863? Also of interest would be a listing of their overseas commitments--obviously fleet units are needed in support of their various imperial interests, thus significantly decreasing units available for action against the US.
  • 0

#5 Burncycle360

Burncycle360

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 3,552 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 01 August 2006 - 2044 PM

They could have been trying to bust the blockade as early as 1862, if we're using the Trent affair as a catalyst for them getting involved.
  • 0

#6 Grant Whitley

Grant Whitley

    True Heart of the Aztec

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 4,286 posts

Posted 01 August 2006 - 2054 PM

Does anyone have available to them a OOB of the British and French fleets, 1863?  Also of interest would be a listing of their overseas commitments--obviously fleet units are needed in support of their various imperial interests, thus significantly decreasing units available for action against the US.

View Post


HMS Warrior is something of an unknown- it never saw combat, AFAIK. I don't believe the French ironclad Gloire ever did, either.
  • 0

#7 Grant Whitley

Grant Whitley

    True Heart of the Aztec

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 4,286 posts

Posted 01 August 2006 - 2101 PM

They could have been trying to bust the blockade as early as 1862, if we're using the Trent affair as a catalyst for them getting involved.

View Post


I chose 1863 because the blockade was still pretty hypothetical in most places in 1862.

Also, IIRC, the Confederate Navy was operating its own blockade runners by 1863, which means that they'll have military supplies on them, and not the latest Paris fashions.

Edited by Grant Whitley, 01 August 2006 - 2107 PM.

  • 0

#8 BP

BP

    Kulak

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 11,841 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Charleston, SC, USA
  • Interests:Tanks. No shit.

Posted 01 August 2006 - 2106 PM

Even given the complete absence of a blockade in 1863, could this have changed the fate of the Confederacy?

I think the writing was pretty much on the wall by then.

View Post


Exactly. If anything, it would force the Union to really go to full mobilization, and so what if the onfederacy goes from a trickle to a slightly opened tap of supplies (these aren't exactly RO/ROs full of supplies pulling into Charleston, Savannah, New Orleans, etc.). The Union Navy still gets a crack and stop the increased flow to boot.
  • 0

#9 Grant Whitley

Grant Whitley

    True Heart of the Aztec

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 4,286 posts

Posted 01 August 2006 - 2118 PM

I don't agree that the Union had unlimited reserves of political will; 1864 in the east showed that it had its breaking point, with all of the media criticism of Grant. It's not too hard to imagine the wheels coming off this wagon. To have achieved European recognition and intervention in the first place, the Confederacy would have already been in a more advantageous position than it was historically. Combine that with higher Union losses in Virginia and some cheap victories against Union bases along the eastern seaboard, and the prospect of attacks against the Union homefront, and things are not looking so hot for the North.
  • 0

#10 FlyingCanOpener

FlyingCanOpener

    Kakistocrat

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 9,131 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:New Iberia, LA USA
  • Interests:Geomatics // Naval History // Soccer // Teaching

Posted 01 August 2006 - 2120 PM

Exactly. If anything, it would force the Union to really go to full mobilization, and so what if the onfederacy goes from a trickle to a slightly opened tap of supplies (these aren't exactly RO/ROs full of supplies pulling into Charleston, Savannah, New Orleans, etc.). The Union Navy still gets a crack and stop the increased flow to boot.

View Post


Not if the Royal Navy shows up at Boston Harbour and isn't looking for tea. Do you realise the bedlam if they bombard Boston, New York, or even worse, sail a few ships up the Chesapeake and land some Royal Marines in Lincoln's backyard? Even if they're repulsed, the puplic would be screaming for ships around metro areas on the coast, which bites into the Union blockade.
  • 0

#11 Grant Whitley

Grant Whitley

    True Heart of the Aztec

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 4,286 posts

Posted 01 August 2006 - 2122 PM

sail a few ships up the Chesapeake...

View Post


What kind of shape was Fortress Monroe in? I know it was designed to mount something like 500 guns(IOW, big f**kin' ouch to anyone who tries to get past it), but many of the 3rd System forts were never finished.
  • 0

#12 BP

BP

    Kulak

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 11,841 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Charleston, SC, USA
  • Interests:Tanks. No shit.

Posted 01 August 2006 - 2124 PM

Not if the Royal Navy shows up at Boston Harbour and isn't looking for tea. Do you realise the bedlam if they bombard Boston, New York, or even worse, sail a few ships up the Chesapeake and land some Royal Marines in Lincoln's backyard? Even if they're repulsed, the puplic would be screaming for ships around metro areas on the coast, which bites into the Union blockade.

View Post


But that's also assuming no forts have any effect (dunno the weapon loadout arcana, but DC, the Chesapeake, etc. had a series of fairly modern forts controlling waterways), and the US Navy doesn't intercept French/Brits out to sea. I mean, they were sinking Confederate blockade runners directly off the coast of France, so the notion that there aren't high seas intercepts is too much of a hand wave.
  • 0

#13 Grant Whitley

Grant Whitley

    True Heart of the Aztec

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 4,286 posts

Posted 01 August 2006 - 2127 PM

But that's also assuming no forts have any effect (dunno the weapon loadout arcana, but DC, the Chesapeake, etc. had a series of fairly modern forts controlling waterways), and the US Navy doesn't intercept French/Brits out to sea. I mean, they were sinking Confederate blockade runners directly off the coast of France, so the notion that there aren't high seas intercepts is too much of a hand wave.

View Post


The types of vessels that went after blockade runners and even ships like the Alabama were not ships of the same caliber as the big seagoing ironclads like Warrior. One of the big USN weaknesses in this scenario is the limited number of full blown ocean going warships, whereas the British and French are going to be ocean going all the way. Did the USN have any armored ocean going ships?

I think the major card the USN would have to play is coastal beasties like the New Ironsides- but for reasons outlined above, their effect would be limited, mostly because of availability.

Edited by Grant Whitley, 01 August 2006 - 2129 PM.

  • 0

#14 BP

BP

    Kulak

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 11,841 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Charleston, SC, USA
  • Interests:Tanks. No shit.

Posted 01 August 2006 - 2132 PM

The types of vessels that went after blockade runners and even ships like the Alabama were not ships of the same caliber as the big seagoing ironclads like Warrior.  One of the big USN weaknesses in this scenario is the limited number of full blown ocean going warships, whereas the British and French are going to be ocean going all the way.  Did the USN have any armored ocean going ships?

I think the major card the USN would have to play is coastal beasties like the New Ironsides- but for reasons outlined above, their effect would be limited, mostly because of availability.

View Post


Wouldn't there be three New Ironsides classs by that time? And if international relations really shit the bed, what was the turnaround on building some more of the class?
  • 0

#15 Grant Whitley

Grant Whitley

    True Heart of the Aztec

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 4,286 posts

Posted 01 August 2006 - 2138 PM

Wouldn't there be three New Ironsides classs by that time? And if international relations really shit the bed, what was the turnaround on building some more of the class?

View Post


From my readings on the blockade, the Union definitely didn't have the ability to shit out warships as it pleased. Despite the fact that the Confederate Navy offered next to no resistance, the blockade didn't really start to become effective until 1864 or so, and that was with land bases in the South. And that was all due to lack of ships, and mind we're not talking about real warships that could take on a professional ocean going navy. The Union had enough trouble scraping up ex-commercial vessels that could be converted into picket vessels.
  • 0

#16 Argus

Argus

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 3,902 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Melbourne

Posted 01 August 2006 - 2156 PM

If London and Paris got involved in the ACW, the only blockade in 1863 would be the one inflicted on the NORTH.

Just being cut off from trade with the UK and France would hurt Washington and the Unions war effort.

shane
  • 0

#17 Brasidas

Brasidas

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 12,569 posts
  • Interests:Slinging Terrorist Ilk real far

Posted 01 August 2006 - 2209 PM

If London and Paris got involved in the ACW, the only blockade in 1863 would be the one inflicted on the NORTH.

Just being cut off from trade with the UK and France would hurt Washington and the Unions war effort.

shane

View Post


Yea, and cutting off that trade would have been unpopular in the UK, and France to an extent. People liked eating even back then.

Also, I doubt the brits would have been interested in continuing hostilities in North America once they realized the Union army wasn't the Continental army of 1779.

Top that off with the logistical requirements of an early ironclad operating in a forward deployed station with it's main logistical base under serious threat from land forces, and you have a deal killer right there.
  • 0

#18 Grant Whitley

Grant Whitley

    True Heart of the Aztec

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 4,286 posts

Posted 01 August 2006 - 2233 PM

Top that off with the logistical requirements of an early ironclad operating in a forward deployed station with it's main logistical base under serious threat from land forces, and you have a deal killer right there.

View Post


That sounds like a description of the USN situation, not the British/French.
  • 0

#19 Brasidas

Brasidas

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 12,569 posts
  • Interests:Slinging Terrorist Ilk real far

Posted 01 August 2006 - 2242 PM

That sounds like a description of the USN situation, not the British/French.

View Post


The US used ironclads to blockade France and Britain? News to me.
  • 0

#20 Grant Whitley

Grant Whitley

    True Heart of the Aztec

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 4,286 posts

Posted 01 August 2006 - 2308 PM

The US used ironclads to blockade France and Britain? News to me.

View Post


The general thrust of your post was, I thought, about the difficulties that the British/French would have encountered.
  • 0




0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users