The blockade of the Confederacy during the American Civil War (1969)
AuthorsGreen, Michael Frederickshow all
The blockade of the Confederacy has been studied and described often before and may not seem to have been a very rewarding topic for a thesis. Nevertheless I have found it immensely interesting, perhaps because this longest sustained continuous operation of the Civil War seemed on closer study to have all sorts of unexpected connections with other events and issues. Because the general outlines and many of the details are quite well known, I decided to build my study around the theme of effectiveness, to which there are two related yet distinct approaches. There is the relatively straight-forward story of the build-up from practically nothing of a naval force adequate to enforce a blockade of so long a coastline, in the course of which a host of problems of unprecedented magnitude and character had to be surmounted. And there is the legal question of effectiveness, the subject of great debate at the time. To study this satisfactorily it was necessary to look at the American blockade in a longer historical perspective, to consider its place in the development of blockade law and practice, and to examine the adequacy of the methods and standards of judgement applied to determine effectiveness. By combining these two approaches, one mainly narrative and one mainly analytical, I hope I have produced a fresh look at an old question.