Could have France broken the Union blockade?

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major bill

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It appears that France was reluctant to actively support the Confederacy unless Great Britain did so as well. We often hear the British Navy could have broken the Union blockade, but did France have the Navy that could have accomplish this with out British help? I know the French Army was being used in other important ways and that France may not have had too many land troop to send to the Confederacy. But could France have spared enough ships for the time it would take for them to break the Union blockade?
 

leftyhunter

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It appears that France was reluctant to actively support the Confederacy unless Great Britain did so as well. We often hear the British Navy could have broken the Union blockade, but did France have the Navy that could have accomplish this with out British help? I know the French Army was being used in other important ways and that France may not have had too many land troop to send to the Confederacy. But could France have spared enough ships for the time it would take for them to break the Union blockade?
First of all why would France want to break the Blockade? Second of all the USN is close to it's bases vs the closest French naval bases are in the Caribbean.
The French Navy did briefly skirmish with the USN during the Jefferson Administration it didn't go so well.
Also France had to import American grain due to a drought in the Ukraine.
Unfortunately for the Confederacy no foreign nation had any motivation to involve itself militarily in the ACW. It just wasn't worth the bother plus the arms exporting nation were making good money selling to both sides and France was not an exception.
Leftyhunter
 
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leftyhunter

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Would somebody please explain, in simple terms, why did Lincoln threaten to declare war on France and Britain over the possibility of recognition of the Confederacy and any subsequent joint effort to seek a mediated solution that could have saved a million lives?
When exactly did he do so? Can you cite a source ?
Leftyhunter
 
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Yankeedave

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If memory serves me there was a representative of France and Russia fleets at Hampton Roads. Plus there had been a recent government change in Russia a few years prior...anyway I digress.
 

leftyhunter

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Russia was an American ally. Wonder what influence it may have also had.
Russia was never a US Ally in the Nineteenth Century. There was never a mutual defense treaty. Russia was a neutral country that had a weak Navy. We have prior threads on the Russian naval ships that docked in San Francisco and Norfolk, Virginia. They did not dock in the US to defend the US or enforce the Union Blockade.
Leftyhunter
 

Yankeedave

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Russia was never a US Ally in the Nineteenth Century. There was never a mutual defense treaty. Russia was a neutral country that had a weak Navy. We have prior threads on the Russian naval ships that docked in San Francisco and Norfolk, Virginia. They did not dock in the US to defend the US or enforce the Union Blockade.
Leftyhunter
They were an ally to the u.s. They docked for various needs I am sure. My point was Russia as an influence.
France was far more effective using its navy to ensure goods made in to Mexico, thence to the C.S.
All Britain did was burn the south economically.
 
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Irishtom29

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They were an ally to the u.s. They docked for various needs I am sure. My point was Russia as an influence.
France was far more effective using its navy to ensure goods made in to Mexico, thence to the C.S.
All Britain did was burn the south economically.
And Russian moves in central Asia could threaten the British hold on India; if the Russians wished to help the United States that would be a more serious concern to the British than the Russian fleet. The Sepoy Mutiny was in 1857 and still fresh in British minds; Cawnpore Well and all that.

Anyway, to answer the OP: no, I don't think France could've broken the blockade. Ahh, pretty soon they'd have bigger things to worry about, eh? Which raises the question, (not begs it; that's one of my pet peeves) if France makes war on the United States does Bismarck take advantage of it?
 
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Rhea Cole

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France was incapable of mounting a sustained fleet action in American waters. Their fleet was designed to fight the British in the English Channel & the Mediterranean Sea. The British military concluded that it was impossible for them to do it with their world girdling fleet precisely because they could not supply a squadron off the American coast for more than 30 days. A single warship would have required a continuous convoy of support vessels plying between France & American waters. That is about a month each way without resupply or refit. The threat of unleashing American privateers onto French supply vessels, commerce & the vulnerability of their island holdings was more than enough to keep the Napoleon's navy at home.
 
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Philip Leigh

formerly Harvey Johnson
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Would somebody please explain, in simple terms, why did Lincoln threaten to declare war on France and Britain over the possibility of recognition of the Confederacy and any subsequent joint effort to seek a mediated solution that could have saved a million lives?
Northerners wanted to win the war on their terms. They were also willing to pay a high price for it in terms of treasure and lives.
 
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Philip Leigh

formerly Harvey Johnson
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First of all why would France want to break the Blockade?
To get cotton and tariff-free trade with the Confederate states. Secretary of State Benjamin even promised France a free trade monopoly for a limited time plus 100,000 cotton bales in exchange for diplomatic recognition.
Second of all the USN is close to it's bases vs the closest French naval bases are in the Caribbean.
If the French Navy can break the blockade they can use whichever Southern ports they liberate for naval bases. The harbors would, however, need to be capable of servicing deep water vessels.
 
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Philip Leigh

formerly Harvey Johnson
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When exactly did he do so? Can you cite a source ?
Leftyhunter.
Secretary of State Seward warned both Britain and France that the Federal Union would go to war against them if they intruded in America's Civil War.*

*Howard Jones, Blue and Gray Diplomacy (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2010), 5, 24, 37-38
 
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Yankeedave

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They use their port in Matamoros, Mexico to skip the blockade. It then moves inland crossing the Mississippi River at Vicksburg.
 

leftyhunter

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Secretary of State Seward warned both Britain and France that the Federal Union would go to war against them if they intruded in America's Civil War.*

*Howard Jones, Blue and Gray Diplomacy (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2010), 5, 24, 37-38
also @Poorville
Good find but interference isn't the same thing as retaliation for recognition. No nation that is fighting rebels is going to tolerate foreign interference if it can realistically fight back. Also it's not France's or the UK's buisness how many rebels or collateral civilians the US has to kill either deliberately or accidentally. It's an internal affairs of the US.
So in that sense Lincoln and Steward were absolutely correct.
Leftyhunter
 

Poorville

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France was incapable of mounting a sustained fleet action in American waters. Their fleet was designed to fight the British in the English Channel & the Mediterranean Sea. The British military concluded that it was impossible for them to do it with their world girdling fleet precisely because they could not supply a squadron off the American coast for more than 30 days. A single warship would have required a continuous convoy of support vessels plying between France & American waters. That is about a month each way without resupply or refit. The threat of unleashing American privateers onto French supply vessels, commerce & the vulnerability of their island holdings was more than enough to keep the Napoleon's navy at home.
I agree with your assessment of the French Navy but the Royal Navy was a different matter. Its “world girdling fleet” as you put it was 1000 ships strong whilst the Union Navy at the outset of war could rustle up around forty operational ships, many stationed in far flung places. As for supply lines these would surely be the same as used by the blockade runners via Nassau and the Bahamas. Their superior strength would have ensured a short campaign to deny the blockade and keep the Southern ports open. But as we all know Britain chose not to interfere.
 
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leftyhunter

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To get cotton and tariff-free trade with the Confederate states. Secretary of State Benjamin even promised France a free trade monopoly for a limited time plus 100,000 cotton bales in exchange for diplomatic recognition.

If the French Navy can break the blockade they can use whichever Southern ports they liberate for naval bases. The harbors would, however, need to be capable of servicing deep water vessels.
Good find on a Confederate concession to get France to break the Blockade. On the other hand it wasn't a good enough incentive because the French weren't interested in doing so even though French textile workers were laid off.
Leftyhunter
 

leftyhunter

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Northerners wanted to win the war on their terms. They were also willing to pay a high price for it in terms of treasure and lives.
Of course not just Northeners we should include loyal Southern Americans 104k who served in the Union Army per "Lincoln's Loyalists Union soldiers from the Confederacy" Richard Current North East University Press plus most of the 180k USCT troopers were born in the land of Dixie.
Leftyhunter
 
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