Guns for Cotton: England Arms the Confederacy
Even before Fort Sumter was fired upon, the Confederate government began organizing a supply line to obtain military equipment from abroad. The operation was run by an unlikely handful of military experts and aristocratic Charleston financiers, whose goal was to import the military supplies the resource-poor South couldn't manufacture. Much of the supplies came from England, a country whose official neutrality masked a widespread sympathy for the South. Working hand-in-hand with Confederate agents, manufacturers and contractors in Liverpool and elsewhere provided vast amounts of military goods which were transported on British ships to ports in Bermuda and Nassau. There, the goods were exchanged for the Southern cotton that was desperately needed to sustain the English milling industry. Profit and patriotism came together to form one of the largest foreign supply operations in history. Despite the blockade and a government whose finances were in disarray, by the end of the war the South obtained some $200 million worth of foreign arms and equipment.
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The Confederate States in 1861
Blockade and Response
Organizing International Supply Operations
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agents in England Alabama Alexander Collie Anderson April arms and equipment arrival bales became Bermuda blockade runners blockade running blockade ships bonds British army British government Caleb Huse Campbell cap pouch Cape Fear captain captured cargo space cartridges cash Chapter Charleston Civil civilian Confederacy Confederate agents Confederate army Confederate foreign Confederate government Confederate navy Confederate ports Confederate soldiers Confederate supplies Crenshaw Enfield rifles England English mills Erlanger Europe exported finances firm George Alfred Trenholm guns Harper's Weekly hundred Huse's Ibid imports included industry Isaac islands James Dunwoody Bulloch Jefferson Davis John Fraser Josiah Gorgas knapsacks Laird Rams Liverpool loan London Armoury Company Mallory McRae ment merchant military supplies million months muskets Nassau neutral Northern obtain officers operations Ordnance percussion caps Peter Tait profits raiders Richmond rifle-muskets sabers sailed Secretary shoes small arms South Southern cotton Southern ports Trenholm Union United States Navy vessels voyage weapons Wilmington York