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Tales from the Blockade (title page)

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Posted 7 years ago


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This display is a collection of tales of blockade-running during the Civil War iIllustrated by postal artifacts. Many of these stand-alone stories would normally be considered outside the realm of a postal history exhibit, but taken together these tales provide the context for a
deeper understanding of the artifacts as well as the subject.

Between 1861 and 1865 the Union Navy maintained a vigilant effort on the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the Confederate States of America (CSA) designed to prevent the passage of trade goods, supplies, arms and even mail to and from the Confederacy. Ships that tried to evade the blockade, known as blockade-runners, were mostly special built, new steamers with small cargo capacity. They ran between Confederate ports and neutral ports including Nassau, Bahamas, and St. George's, Bermuda.

President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the blockade on April 19, 1861. To be legal, this required the effective closure of twelve major ports and some 3,500 miles of Confederate coastline. To this end, the Union commissioned 500 new ships. By the end of the war the Navy had captured 1,149 blockade-runners, and burned, ran aground, or destroyed a further 355. Cotton exports from the CSA were reduced from ten million bales in the three years prior to the war to just 500,000 bales during the blockade period.

Posted by Richard Frajola

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