Discussion Any Union attempts to diminish the Confederacy's munitions production?

Lubliner

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Your post is quite interesting and (having read a large number of your other posts) seems to be informed by a lot of good solid research. However, I question your conclusion that the US Navy did a poor job with the blockade.

The Navy had no preparation for this assignment and was obliged to build up a large fleet to make the blockade effective. That takes time. The naval technology of the time was very primitive compared to what we are used to today, so the initial success of the blocakade runners should be no surprise. Yes, it did take about three years to make the blockade strategically effective, but the US Navy did suceed in doing it, while also doing an admirable job in completing some of its other assignments, such as building a powerful fleet of riverine monitors in support of the Army.
Just establishing the bases for resupply of coal and docking during storm season was well looked into and accomplished early on.
Lubliner.
 

Piedone

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I was was not being General when I referred to the European way of dealing with rebels. We had quite a dose of it in the 1700’s. More particular, members of the German speaking regiments in the Army of the Cumberland were well versed in European practices.

In particular, General Willich was of a Prussian aristocratic family who studied under Clausewitz. After over 20 years in the Prussian army he became a socialist. He fought on both the a Prussian & Paris revolts. During the fighting in Paris, Frederick Engels was his second in command. Later Marx & Engels broke with Willich because he was too radical a socialist. Willich had fled for his life from both Prussian & French retribution. What would a campaign by a vengeful Prussian army through Georgia have looked like?

There were plenty of people in the North that advocated a scorched earth policy in the South. Sherman was not one of them. You might benefit from a read first make pronouncements second policy.

Since Augusta GA has been a topic in this thread, there was a considerable number of post revolutionary German families living there. My wife grew up there & went with her urgrossmutter & gross mutter to the cemetery on Confederate Decoration Day.
I am afraid but this is indeed blank judgement.

You will have to distinguish: between ages (matters, politics, understanding, the influence of the public were completely different in the 17th, the 18th centrury and especially differed a lot between the first decades of the 19th and the decades after 1820.

You will have to distinguish between countries (most of the lesser german states were liberal, Austria was (or at least styled itself to be) autocratic.

You will even have to distinguish between politics of a given country at a given point of time towards different groups - as bourgeois dissenters were treated completely different than eg. social-revolutionaries, and eg south-slawic dissenters were treated different than german or bohemian-ones.

I presume you picture the Europe (of those times) generally somehow as the stronghold of autocracy and tyranny - but Rousseau, Montesquieu, John Locke, Kant and other liberty-loving people were respected and mostoften influential members of european society - so a judgement is just not that easy -

believe me, I trampled through the porcelain shop of european history for quite a time pachyderm-like -

and became far more cautious with judgement as I moreoften than not experienced that matters were different and far more complicated than I believed them to be at a first glance...
 

Rhea Cole

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I am afraid but this is indeed blank judgement.

You will have to distinguish: between ages (matters, politics, understanding, the influence of the public were completely different in the 17th, the 18th centrury and especially differed a lot between the first decades of the 19th and the decades after 1820.

You will have to distinguish between countries (most of the lesser german states were liberal, Austria was (or at least styled itself to be) autocratic.

You will even have to distinguish between politics of a given country at a given point of time towards different groups - as bourgeois dissenters were treated completely different than eg. social-revolutionaries, and eg south-slawic dissenters were treated different than german or bohemian-ones.

I presume you picture the Europe (of those times) generally somehow as the stronghold of autocracy and tyranny - but Rousseau, Montesquieu, John Locke, Kant and other liberty-loving people were respected and mostoften influential members of european society - so a judgement is just not that easy -

believe me, I trampled through the porcelain shop of european history for quite a time pachyderm-like -

and became far more cautious with judgement as I moreoften than not experienced that matters were different and far more complicated than I believed them to be at a first glance...
Rather than presuming you might read about Gen Willich & Karl Marx. My reference is very specific.
 

Piedone

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I know some things about both of them already - but I do thank you for your hint and will have a very interested second look at them definitely.

Generally we are getting a bit off topic here - let's open a special thread if you feel like wanting to continue our debate.
 

Piedone

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I've read the Rose book and wouldn't recommend it. The quantity of sources in a book is of little merit, if those sources are selectively used and quoted so as to give a slanted interpretation of the events. The Rose book has a clear agenda.

We have a small group of Civil War authors in the US who are devout fans of the Army of the Cumberland, and particularly of the generals Rosecrans and Thomas. But rather than spending their energy researching and writing better books about their heroes, they instead write negative books to tear down other generals who were more successful. Grant and Sherman get the most biased attacks from these writers. The authors Varney and Moore are in this group as well.

There are much better choices out there to learn about the burning of Columbia. This book might be the standard: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1570033587/?tag=civilwartalkc-20
Thank you for the hint, I read the book review at the moment and deem it highly interesting.
 

NH Civil War Gal

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Do people here know of any discussions or decisions by President Lincoln, Secretaries Cameron or Stanton, or the various Union generals-in-chief (Scott, McClellan, Halleck, and Grant) concerning attempts to target or otherwise diminish the Confederacy's munitions production? Although it's been said that the Confederates never lost a battle for want of gunpowder, it might have been a decisive factor in ending the war sooner, if certain things happened. Early in the war, the Union helped supply the enemy with munitions stored in the federal arsenals and at the Norfolk Navy Yard (and through "Commissary" Banks' generosity in the Valley).
Another answer to this would be all the lead and salt mines used in Southwest Virginia. I don’t believe they were specifically targeted by Union troops because there were simply too many small ones in operation, especially in the Wytheville area (do I have the spelling right?). I’ve been there for another reason and love that area and there are a number of historical signs pointing to where various salt mines and lead mines were.

Another problem for the Union would have been that Virginia really had it all when it came to Caves supplying niter and I don’t mean guano. Minerals supply niter to and for millennia, the spring runoffs drain through the cave systems and supply the necessary minerals for making gunpowder.

It wouldn’t have been remotely practicable till very, very late in the war for the Union to even try to take control of the innumerable cave systems and and big and little mines that dot the Southwestern Virginia area.
 

NH Civil War Gal

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Wouldn't they simply have taken the rollers and cylinders with them in the face of an approaching army? I mean, there was nothing really special about Augusta except proximity to rail and ready supply of water.
The Augusta Powder Works was the second largest in the world. It was run by a 14 ton press/roller and 130 horse power steam engine. It WAS something special and the whole works was over two miles long. You don’t just pack it up and move it.
 

Don Dixon

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Location
Fairfax, VA, USA
Your post is quite interesting and (having read a large number of your other posts) seems to be informed by a lot of good solid research. However, I question your conclusion that the US Navy did a poor job with the blockade.

The Navy had no preparation for this assignment and was obliged to build up a large fleet to make the blockade effective. That takes time. The naval technology of the time was very primitive compared to what we are used to today, so the initial success of the blocakade runners should be no surprise. Yes, it did take about three years to make the blockade strategically effective, but the US Navy did suceed in doing it, while also doing an admirable job in completing some of its other assignments, such as building a powerful fleet of riverine monitors in support of the Army.

At no point during the war did the Federal Navy post serving officers - either overtly or covertly - at the consulates at St. Georges', Bermuda; Nassau, The Bahamas; or Havana, Cuba; to conduct or support the collection of intelligence on the blockade running trade. Such information as was collected was collected by the Department of State civilians at the consulates who had no training in intelligence collection or reporting, or in human intelligence source recruitment. There were even gaps in Department of State's manning of those consulates.

The Federal Navy never detailed a fast dispatch boat to run a circuit between St. George's, Nassau, Havana, and Key West to collect reports from the consuls and quickly run them to the Navy. Instead the consuls' despatches went into the diplomatic bag which was transported on British mail steamers to New York, Boston, or Philadelphia. There is information to believe that the bags were being opened and the despatches read. Unlike the "cousins," the British did have a real intelligence collection establishment.

One of the consuls in Nassau formed a human intelligence collection network of Negro wrecker captains who reported to him in detail on the blockade running trade. The consul proposed to Secretary Wells through Secretary Seward that the Negroes get a cut of the prize money from any runners captured as a result of their information. Wells refused, claiming that the Navy had no money to pay for it. The probable real reason is that it would have cut into the squids' prize money.

The Navy never established any form of intelligence cell, either in Washington or at fleet level, for analysis of the extensive intelligence on the trade it was receiving from Department of State's consulates and legations. The closest it came was a bi-weekly newsletter published later in the war by the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron containing extracts from the State Department despatches.

There is an abundance of reports from the blockade runners themselves that Navy captains were more interested in capturing their ships for the prize money than they were in stopping the ships. Why destroy a ship through gun fire on this trip when you might capture her on the next and collect the prize money?

Captured ships which the Navy did not purchase at prize auctions were sold to other purchasers, frequently going back into the blockade running trade. How bizarre is that. You have to buy a ship that was captured using Navy ships and crews? There were ships which were captured three or four times in "catch and release" blockading. The Navy would have been better off expending any captured ships that it didn't want as targets, but that would have interfered with the flow of prize money.

I recognize the problems in building an effective Navy, and the communications problems in the days prior to underwater telegraph lines and radios. My problem with the Navy is its failure to competently use what it had, and in the greed engendered by the prize money system. Rear Admiral Lee - who published the news letters mentioned above - referred to the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron as the "prize money command." His 10% cut from the ships captured by his command was equivalent to about 2.5 million dollars today. In one capture a captain, or even a ship's boy, could make more than the Navy paid him in a year in salary.

Regards,
Don Dixon
 

Joseph A. Rose

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Joined
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Another answer to this would be all the lead and salt mines used in Southwest Virginia. I don’t believe they were specifically targeted by Union troops because there were simply too many small ones in operation, especially in the Wytheville area (do I have the spelling right?). I’ve been there for another reason and love that area and there are a number of historical signs pointing to where various salt mines and lead mines were.

Another problem for the Union would have been that Virginia really had it all when it came to Caves supplying niter and I don’t mean guano. Minerals supply niter to and for millennia, the spring runoffs drain through the cave systems and supply the necessary minerals for making gunpowder.

It wouldn’t have been remotely practicable till very, very late in the war for the Union to even try to take control of the innumerable cave systems and and big and little mines that dot the Southwestern Virginia area.
I hadn't thought about the raw materials when originally asking my question about munitions but, of course, it is perfectly relevant.
The Union did make attempts to
At no point during the war did the Federal Navy post serving officers - either overtly or covertly - at the consulates at St. Georges', Bermuda; Nassau, The Bahamas; or Havana, Cuba; to conduct or support the collection of intelligence on the blockade running trade. Such information as was collected was collected by the Department of State civilians at the consulates who had no training in intelligence collection or reporting, or in human intelligence source recruitment. There were even gaps in Department of State's manning of those consulates.

The Federal Navy never detailed a fast dispatch boat to run a circuit between St. George's, Nassau, Havana, and Key West to collect reports from the consuls and quickly run them to the Navy. Instead the consuls' despatches went into the diplomatic bag which was transported on British mail steamers to New York, Boston, or Philadelphia. There is information to believe that the bags were being opened and the despatches read. Unlike the "cousins," the British did have a real intelligence collection establishment.

One of the consuls in Nassau formed a human intelligence collection network of Negro wrecker captains who reported to him in detail on the blockade running trade. The consul proposed to Secretary Wells through Secretary Seward that the Negroes get a cut of the prize money from any runners captured as a result of their information. Wells refused, claiming that the Navy had no money to pay for it. The probable real reason is that it would have cut into the squids' prize money.

The Navy never established any form of intelligence cell, either in Washington or at fleet level, for analysis of the extensive intelligence on the trade it was receiving from Department of State's consulates and legations. The closest it came was a bi-weekly newsletter published later in the war by the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron containing extracts from the State Department despatches.

There is an abundance of reports from the blockade runners themselves that Navy captains were more interested in capturing their ships for the prize money than they were in stopping the ships. Why destroy a ship through gun fire on this trip when you might capture her on the next and collect the prize money?

Captured ships which the Navy did not purchase at prize auctions were sold to other purchasers, frequently going back into the blockade running trade. How bizarre is that. You have to buy a ship that was captured using Navy ships and crews? There were ships which were captured three or four times in "catch and release" blockading. The Navy would have been better off expending any captured ships that it didn't want as targets, but that would have interfered with the flow of prize money.

I recognize the problems in building an effective Navy, and the communications problems in the days prior to underwater telegraph lines and radios. My problem with the Navy is its failure to competently use what it had, and in the greed engendered by the prize money system. Rear Admiral Lee - who published the news letters mentioned above - referred to the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron as the "prize money command." His 10% cut from the ships captured by his command was equivalent to about 2.5 million dollars today. In one capture a captain, or even a ship's boy, could make more than the Navy paid him in a year in salary.

Regards,
Don Dixon
Admiral David Dixon Porter apparently did quite well for him for himself on the Mississippi with prize cotton.
 

NH Civil War Gal

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I hadn't thought about the raw materials when originally asking my question about munitions but, of course, it is perfectly relevant.
The Union did make attempts to

Admiral David Dixon Porter apparently did quite well for him for himself on the Mississippi with prize cotton.
The Union (especially Sherman) recognized the vital part that Virginia would play in natural resources, yet even with Union sorties in the region, none got to Saltville until the autumn of 1864.

Salt is crucial to making munitions and while there were shortages from time to time in the CSA, thanks to Saltville and its location during the war, the CSA never ran into a strategic shortage..

Oddly, no Union campaign ever targeted the iron furnaces in Western Virginia as a single campaign objective but they also were in pretty deep.

The mountainous terrain, the interior lines, and the genius of George Rains kept the CSA supplied with powder.

Fun fact: if it hadn’t been for George Rains leaving New York to start his powder mill, the WHOLE Confederacy didn’t have enough powder for two months war -it would have been over - literally.

The CSA got lucky (or unlucky for all the boys that died/wounded). I always said they didn’t plan well. Rains was married to a Northerner and had a big stake in a Northern company. It could have easily gone the other way.
 

uaskme

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Good post.

People apparently feel the need to protect Sherman ... maybe because they know deep down that he is one of the most overrated commanders on either side (as well as a major purveyor of falsehoods about the American Civil War).

According to my notes, a great example of this "protection" can be found in Woodworth's "The March To The Sea" in America's Civil War, in which he somehow claimed that "Not more than one or two rapes, at the most, occurred during the progress of Sherman's armies through the Deep South." Besides being completely unknowable, this is contradicted by just the material I've run across. It's a ridiculous assertion, which can only be seen as apologism for Sherman (especially in light of other writings by Woodworth).
I will see if I have that volume of Woodworth's. I have several of his. I read Trudeau. As I remember, Sherman's propaganda press recorded 1 rape. So Woodworth bettered that by 1 more. Hate to keep quoting Fellman's work, but here we go:

Sherman and all of the soldiers who discussed this issue agreed that almost no white women were raped. Colonel Oscar Jackson, for one, in the midst of entering into his diary his encyclopedia of the fire and pillage wrought by his men, while acknowledging that his soldiers exploited prostitutes, insisted that "the persons of women, it is by belief, have very seldom been violated, and I have been in a position to know." Sherman himself, indulgent in concern to most forms of destruction, believed that his men had observed these limits toward women. Jackson also added in his diary, "I have record my opinion that few of our soldiers had connection with blacks, very few," although this statement seems to be less concerned with rape that with voluntary sexual self-soiling by white soldiers with black women, which he would have abhorred more on racist principles rather than on grounds of humanity. pp220 Citizen Sherman

So, Black women didn't count and only white women who ask for it, got it. Sherman's Army was drunk, so we know how that goes. Guess if no rapes or only 1 was recorded by Sherman, we should believe it? I have read some account of rapes. Usually these were recorded by local citizens and are rejected as Lost Cause.

When you started this tread, I hoped it might be a teaser. I went back and read your short analysis of Sherman's march. I would like to see you do a study on Sherman. Your work on Grant is outstanding. Sherman is a interesting character and from what Little I Know, has been given a Pass. The story between Sherman and Thomas is fascinating. Sherman treated him like ****, and seemed to like him. Sherman's mental state during the March and decoupling from Grant and Lincoln. All of this is quite interesting. Your volume has helped me to learn things about the CW that I wouldn't of picked up anywhere else. I've read Varney's volume. Lamers bio of Rosey, David Moore's bio on Rosecrans, who posts some here. Couple on Thomas, and the AOC. Slowly but surely catching up. Thanks
 

DanSBHawk

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The story between Sherman and Thomas is fascinating. Sherman treated him like ****, and seemed to like him.
Actually, I'd agree that the Sherman/Thomas relationship is fascinating, and hopefully some writer will give that a good honest look.

As far as Sherman treating Thomas badly, that's laughably wrong. Thomas went from something like 70th on the seniority list at the start of the war, to about 7th by the end. He was treated fine, and as least as well as he deserved, with the rise of Grant/Sherman.

There were probably very few of the old regular Army officers that knew Thomas as well as Sherman.
 

uaskme

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Actually, I'd agree that the Sherman/Thomas relationship is fascinating, and hopefully some writer will give that a good honest look.

As far as Sherman treating Thomas badly, that's laughably wrong. Thomas went from something like 70th on the seniority list at the start of the war, to about 7th by the end. He was treated fine, and as least as well as he deserved, with the rise of Grant/Sherman.

There were probably very few of the old regular Army officers that knew Thomas as well as Sherman.
Well, if you excuse Sherman’s mental break down In KY. Excuse his dismal performance at Shiloh and Chattanooga, you might be on to something. Thomas had command of 2/3 of Sherman’s Army during the ATL Campaign. Thomas advised Sherman to let him lead the AOC into Snake Creek Gap at Resaca. Sherman accepted Thomas’s plan but used the AOT instead of the AOC. 25k vs 85k. Plan was a miserable failure. ATL Campaign would of probably ended at Resaca if Thomas had led the assault.

Suspect that Thomas didn’t think he should be commanded by Grant who was drummed out of the Army. I suspect most Regular Army Officers knew of his drinking and bouts with depression. Grant was surprised at Shiloh. John Sherman didn’t think Grant would survive Shiloh. If not for Washburn he wouldn’t. Halleck gave command to Thomas at Shiloh, while setting Grant down. Thomas saved the AOC at Chickamauga. Saved Grant and Sherman at Chattanooga. All white Grant Drank. War Dept ordered Grant to N Ga in Sept. Took him 2 months to get there. He fell off his horse in New Orleans. Drinking while galloping.
 

lelliott19

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Ladies and gentlemen - since some of you continue to post totally unrelated content in this thread, apparently I didn't make myself clear when I posted the in-thread warning at #135?

Once again, the topic of this thread, started by @Joseph A. Rose is:
Any Union attempts to diminish the Confederacy's munitions production?


Posts continue to stray significantly from Mr. Rose's intended topic. If you do not have contributions regarding Union attempts to diminish Confederate munitions production, do not post in this thread. Further off topic posts will be deleted with warnings and points for the offenders. I was instructed to inform you that this is the last warning.

Thank you for your cooperation. - as moderator
 

CowCavalry

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War is full of opportunities, some more consequential than others. Grant and Sherman won the war in a year, without stopping the armies to occupy any specific strategic position. It was about defeating the armies and defeating the morale of the confederacy. And it was successful.
As if the prior three years had nothing to do with it.
 

Joseph A. Rose

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As if the prior three years had nothing to do with it.
I have seen no significant evidence advanced here of Grant or Sherman working to specifically diminish the Confederate capacity to produce munitions. If they, or their predecessors, had done a better job in doing so, the war might have been considerably shortened.

Sherman eschewed multiple opportunities to attack the Augusta powder works. Grant showed little interest in destroying enemy facilities of production, although he did focus on the lines of communication.
 
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But was there anything in Augusta that couldn’t be recreated elsewhere? Assuming they would evacuate the personnel ahead of an army.
I am an Augusta native. I lived my childhood and some of my teen years within walking distance of the Mill. One of the reasons the gunpowder mill was situated in Augusta was that Augusta was one of the first towns in not only the South but a good part of the US at the time to deliberately create a canal on it bordering river (Savannah river) with the specific purpose of using water power to power machinery. At its height, and it took the better part of 3 years to reach that level the gunpowder mill stretched a mile in length.

Even supposing that all the workers could/would have been evacuated, the war would have ended for lack of powder by the Confederates within a month.

Another fact to consider is the location of Augusta relative to the rest of the US. The only way to approach it would have been through Savannah at the ocean, at least until Sherman finally took Atlanta and he could have tried a march on it from there. Even today there is no practical way to travel from Savannah to Augusta. When I go to the beach, I have to drive roughly 150 miles to get to the beach in Savannah that is 60 miles as the crow flies.

Coming to Augusta from Atlanta at that time would have entailed an even farther march. It would also have entailed signaling to the defending Rebels where the attack was aimed at. One of the reasons that Sherman was so successful in his March to the Sea was that he was spread so widely across the state that the defending Rebels could not know what his destination was and could not therefore concentrate their defenses.
 
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