Phantoms of Anglo-Confederate commerce : an historical and archaeological investigation of American civil war blockade running
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During the American Civil War Wilmington, North Carolina and the Bermudian ports of St. Georges and Hamilton served as vital links in a complex trading network that developed to facilitate the exchange of southern agricultural products for war materials and civilian merchandise through a Union blockade of the Confederacy. Although that material contributed significantly to the Confederate war effort, Anglo-Confederate blockade running has received limited scholarly attention. Much of the associated literature is based on memoirs rather than scholarship and does not accurately, reflect that necessarily clandestine trade. The primary goal of this thesis is to produce a more comprehensive and detailed picture of blockade running, the cargoes carried through the Union blockade and the powerful steam vessels that made Anglo-Confederate commerce possible. Unlike previous treatments, this thesis combines the results of both archival and archaeological research. The results illustrate the evolution of strategies involved in both establishing and maintaining the blockade and those developed for running the blockade. Assessment of the vessel remains and historical data associated with the construction and procurement of steamers identifies the vessel types and confirms that blockade runners adapted extant technology. Contrary to the popularly held impression, no technological innovations were specifically developed to address the demands of the trade. The spatial distribution of wrecks and the minimal amount of cultural material surviving in association with them, provides strong evidence that cargoes were more valuable than the vessels. That premise influenced the strategy adopted by blockade runners. While Confederate salvors left little evidence of cargo, historical research revealed a wealth of new insight into the specific nature of that material. This new evidence provides a more accurate and detailed picture of Anglo- Confederate blockade running and the strategies, ships and cargoes that made blockade running between Wilmington and Bermuda a success.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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