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tody as prisoners, or have been impeded in the discharge of their official duties, without due legal process, by persons claiming to act under authority of the States of Virginia and North Carolina, an efficient blockade of the ports of these States will therefore also be established.
"In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand, and caused the seal of the Uni. ted States to be affixed.
"Done at the City of Washington, this 27th day of April, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-one, and of the independence of the United States the eighty-fifth.
"By the President:
"WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State."
As the Government vessels returned from foreign stations, they were immediately employed in carrying out the blockade. The Niagara arrived at Boston, from Japan, April 24th, and immediately proceeded to Charleston Harbor, and thence to the Gulf of Mexico, to intercept the shipment of arms and munitions from Europe to the Gulf States. Flag-officer Mervine arrived in the Gulf, June 8th, with the steamer Mississippi, in advance of his flag-ship, the Colorado. The blockade of Mobile (Ala.) harbor was commenced May 27th, and Fort Morgan, which guards its entrance, welcomed the blockading fleet by displaying the United States flag, with the Union down, below the Confederate flag, on the same staff. The Cumberland, Pawnee, Monticello, and Yankee were enforcing the blockade off Fortress Monroe. The steamers Philadelphia, Baltimore, Powhatan, and Mount Vernon, of the Aquia Creek line, recently taken possession of by the Federal Government, were cruising on the Potomac, all heavily armed.
In Chapter IX. we have given the condition of the navy as stated in the report of the Secretary, July 4th, to Congress. According to that report, from March 4th to July, two hundred and fifty-nine officers had resigned from the navy. This number, with those that previously gave up their commissions, made three hundred and thirty that left the service after November, 1860. For this reason, many vessels were without a full complement of officers. There were, however, numbers who, having in times past left the service for civil pursuits, came promptly forward to offer their services, and many masters and masters' mates were taken from the mercantile service. So promptly did seamen present themselves, that only two or three vessels experienced any detention for want of crews. The navy underwent a most rapid increase, as well in men as vessels. The aggregate of the purchases up to January, 1862, was as follows:
The side-wheel vessels carried from one to ten guns each, the screws from one to nine, the ships one to eight. Of the side-wheel steamers, nine were first-class ships. Among the steamers were eighteen ferryboats, bought from the Brooklyn and New Jersey ferry companies. The armed vessels, in the operation of enforcing the blockade, captured a considerable number of vessels, from April to November.
The vessels purchased were, however, few of them suitable for the blockading service, which required continuous duty off the coast in all weathers. The department therefore contracted for the construction of twenty-three gunboats, of five hundred tons each, and made arrangements for larger and fleeter vessels, in addition to taking steps towards carrying out the order of Congress of the preceding session, for the construction of seven sloops-of-war. Of these latter, two were directed to be built at each navy-yard-Portsmouth, Boston, New York, and Philadelphia-making eight. The following table gives the names, character, and cost of the vessels built:
FOURTEEN SCREW SLOOPS, 1,200 TONS EACH, CARRYING seven GUNS.
TWENTY-THREE SCREW GUNBOATS, 500 TONS EACH, CARRYING FOUR GUNS.
Builder of hull.
Tahoma..... Wilmington, Del....W. & A. Thatcher
Hillman & Streaker.
..J. A. Westervelt.
TWELVE SIDE-WHEEL STEAMERS, 700 TONS EACH, carrying four guns.
Builder of hull.
.. Larrabee & Allen.
Price of machinery.
Bordentown, N. J...D. S. Merchon.
Merrick & Sons..
..J. J. Abrahams..
.Reany & Archbold.... 50,000
THREE IRON-CLAD STEAMERS, 1,500 TONS EACH, CARRYING TWO, TWELVE, AND EIGHTEEN GUNS.
The names of most of this new fleet are of Indian origin, imparting at least "an odor of nationality," if they are not easily borne in mind. The first of the gunboats launched was the Unadilla, August 17th, and thirty days later she made a very satisfactory trial trip. A description of her construction will serve for that of all. Her length is one hundred and sixty-eight feet, width twenty-eight feet, and depth of hold twelve feet. She is schooner rigged, and has two engines, furnished by the Novelty Works, each complete in itself. They are what is termed back action; the cylinders are thirty inches in diameter, with an eighteen-inch stroke; the boilers are of the vertical tubular form; there are fifty-two feet of grate surface, and two thousand feet of heating surface. The propeller is nine feet in diameter, with a mean pitch of twelve feet; the shaft is sixty-four feet long. There is accommodation for over one hundred and fifty tons of coal on board. She averaged nine miles per hour, the boiler showing twenty-eight pounds of steam, and the propeller making seventy-five to eighty revolutions per minute. With the aid of canvas, her speed was estimated at fifteen miles per hour.
As the strength of the Federal navy increased, greater effect was given to those proclamations of the President by which a blockade of the Southern coast was established. Out of this right of blockade, however, grew many interesting questions, particularly in respect to the effectiveness of the blockade. The authority of the President to institute a blockade at all was, in some quarters, denied. It was insisted that this power, under the Constitution, could exist only in the legislature. The Circuit Court of Washington, however, held that the President was commander-in-chief of the army and navy, and, as such, had a right to employ them in the manner he deemed most effectual to subdue the enemy; as chief of the navy, he had an undoubted right to order a ship to capture an enemy's vessel, and to shut up his port is only another mode of attack. The facts set forth in the proclamation show that civil war exists. Blockade is a belligerent right, and can only legally have place in a state of war. A sovereign nation, engaged in the duty of suppressing an insurrection of its citizens, may act in the twofold capacity of sovereign and belligerent. By inflicting through the judiciary the penalty which the law affixes to the crimes of treason and piracy upon those found guilty of those offences, it acts in its capacity of sovereign. By instituting a blockade of the ports of its rebellious subjects, and enforcing that measure by capturing its vessels and cargoes, and capturing the vessels of any or all nations that shall attempt to violate the blockade, it is exercising a belligerent right, and the courts in adjudication of prizes are organized as prize
The question was also raised whether a nation could blockade its own ports and collect duties, since the Constitution declares that no
preference shall be given to one port over another, and treaties with foreign powers gave them the right of visiting our ports.
The old law of blockade, introduced by Holland as far back as 1580, consisted simply in a diplomatic notice that such or such a place was blockaded, without much effort to make it real. When England succeeded to the supremacy of the seas, she greatly developed and extended this system, so that, whenever she was at war, the interests of neutral nations became more precarious than even those of the enemy. In the wars with Napoleon the whole French coast was declared under blockade by Great Britain. The proclamation was notified to all neutral nations, who were thenceforth to abstain from all intercourse with the interdicted territory. Allied to this belligerent right, also, was that of seizing enemies' goods on board neutral vessels; also, neutral goods found in enemies' vessels. In the progress of civilization these remains of barbarism came to be modified, and in 1854, on the occasion of the war with Russia, the various powers agreed that blockades, to be binding, must be effective; that is to say, maintained by forces sufficient really to prevent access to the coast of the enemy. The same convention abolished privateering in time of war. On the return of peace, in 1856, these principles were agreed to, in the declaration of Paris, by Austria, France, Great Britain, Sardinia, Prussia, Russia, and Turkey, and were then submitted to the United States. Mr. Marcy, then Secretary of State, in Mr. Pierce's Administration, objected to the clause which abolished privateering. "It is," said he, "not the policy of the United States to maintain vast standing armies and navies. When, unfortunately, we go to war, we depend upon our people to protect us on the land, and on our ship-owners to defend us on the water. If you will make all private property exempt from capture at sea, we will cease privateering; but why ask us to abolish ít, while you maintain and send out your great ships of war, which are neither more nor less than privateers? They go forth to do exactly the same things as the ships we license in time of war to burn, plunder, and destroy. Make all private property exempt from capture at sea, and then we will agree that privateering shall cease." The English Government would not agree to this, although the view had many advocates in England. The discussion was continued, and it was proposed, by Mr. Buchanan, that the law of blockade should also be modified in so far that it should be confined to national vessels, and naval arsenals and towns which were at the same time invested by an army on the land; that all merchant vessels, with their cargoes, should be free to pass in and out. In 1859 Mr. Cass sent a circular to this effect to the representatives of the United States at all the European capitals. The British Government replied that "the system of commercial blockade is essential to our naval supremacy." It is somewhat remarkable, however, that in the case of the Russian war the allies acted on the principle proposed by Mr. Buchanan. That war was declared in March, 1854, but the ports of Southern Russia were not declared in a state of blockade until March, 1855. The allies temporized for a year with their right and power to close the commercial ports of the Black Sea, whilst carrying on the most sanguinary struggle before the naval arsenal of
Sebastopol, in order to allow the exportation of food from Russia, to make good the deficient harvests of England and France. Upward of half a million quarters of grain reached England from that region in 1854. Here, at least, is a precedent for the policy of restricting blockades to fortified places, and leaving commercial ports unmolested. Had the proposition of Mr. Marcy, in relation to private property and privateers, and Mr. Cass's proposition in relation to blockade, been accepted by England and the other powers, they would have suffered no inconvenience from the present war, since their vessels would have had access to the Southern ports, whence, also, no privateers would have issued. When the blockade was instituted, the British Government recognized it as a belligerent right, and the Queen issued a proclamation enjoining the strictest neutrality. The British minister, in reply to some merchants of Liverpool who proposed fitting out vessels to trade to New Orleans, in the belief that under the treaty they had a right to enter any port of the United States, and that the attempt to enforce the blockade against British ships was an infringement of national law, stated:
"The United States and the so-called Confederate States are engaged in a civil war, and her Majesty's Government has recognized that state of things, and has taken up a position of neutrality between the contending parties. Under these circumstances, if any British ship, being a neutral, knowingly attempts to break an effective blockade, she is liable to capture and condemnatiou."
In France, application was also made to the minister, and he replied more at length to the same effect as the English minister. Complaint was made that no notification was given to the ministers of the several powers that the blockade was instituted, but this was not considered essential to its validity, if it was effective. Fifteen days were allowed, after the establishment of the blockade, for vessels to come out of the ports. It appears that whether they were loaded or not at the time the blockade was established, provided they came out within fifteen days, their passage was allowed. On the other hand, the United States Government declined to permit vessels to be sent to ports which were blockaded for the purpose of bringing away the property of British subjects, or the vessels or property of other nations. An application for such permission was made, to which the Secretary of State replied that if such a facility were granted it would be used by American citizens wishing to bring away property. The chief object of the Government, in the prompt announcement of the blockade, was to prevent the egress of privateers that might prey upon the Northern commerce. The proclamation of Jefferson Davis to grant "letters of marque," had been followed, May 6th, by the act of the Confederate Congress recognizing the existence of war between the United States and the Confederate States, and authorizing privateers. The act gave effect to the proclamation of Davis, and regulated the action of privateers and established prize-courts for the adjudication of prizes.
The announcement of this privateering policy produced a great sensation at the North, where there was so much at risk. There were, nevertheless, two great difficulties in the way of privateers. One was