View single post by Texas Defender
 Posted: Fri Nov 25th, 2011 07:23 pm
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Texas Defender

Joined: Sat Jan 27th, 2007
Location: Texas USA
Posts: 920

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  Captain Charles Wilkes of the USS SAN JACINTO stopped and boarded the British steamer TRENT with the expressed purpose of removing Confederate Commissioners James Mason and John Slidell, who were travelling to Europe to become CSA Ambassadors to England and France.

  Captain Wilkes removed Mason and Slidell and their secretaries, along with their official correspondence and belongings. This was done over the indignent protests of Captain Moir of the TRENT, who pointed out the illegality of that action. Wilkes thought that he could regard the Confederates as: "Contraband." He thought that he was doing the right thing and didn't care if he was doing the wrong thing. Indeed, he was hailed as a hero when he first arrived back in the US.

  The British were outraged at the violation of British sovereignty and demanded the release of the Confederates, as well as an apology. The British also sent 8000 troops to Canada at this time. Jefferson Davis was delighted by all of this, while Mr. Lincoln had the opposite reaction. Diplomats on both sides went to work to try to prevent the thing from getting out of hand. The immediate problem was resolved when the Confederates were released and Captain Wilkes' action was repudiated. But bad feelings remained after the incident. In essence, the US backed down, and wisely so.

  As you say, foreign recognition and assistance would have had its maximum effect the earlier in the war it came. The British Royal Navy could have been of great help to the Confederates by breaking the Union blockade of its ports, thus allowing large amounts of weapons and supplies to reach the southern states.

  As far as the railroad systems go, the Confederates were at a huge disadvantage. Not only was their rail system relatively undeveloped, there was no standardization of railroad gauges. Thus, cargos would have to be unloaded and reloaded when some borders were crossed, wasting valuable time and resources. The Confederates also suffered from a lack of standardization of just about everything, including weapons, ammunition, and other equipment. All of this gave the northern states a huge advantage. They not only had more of virtually everything, but it was more efficiently produced, more efficiently organized, and more efficiently transported.

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