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Mexico's Role in Subverting the Union Blockade

Discussion in 'Civil War History - The Naval War' started by leftyhunter, Mar 2, 2018.

  1. leftyhunter

    leftyhunter Lt. Colonel

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    Arguably the most strategic Confederate port is Brownsville, Texas because Brownsville was unique among all Confederate port being next door to a foreign port Montomoros, Mexico. Weapons and other imports could be freely brought in to Montomoros under foreign flaged vessels. Nothing the U.S. Navy could do about that. Cargo could be easily shipped accross the Rio Grande River. I forgot the date but in 1963 the Union Army captured Brownsville.
    Once Vicksburg is captured imported goods from Galveston Port can't cross the Mississippi River.
    One reason why the victory at Vicksburg was crucial to the Union.
    Leftyhunter
     
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  3. USS ALASKA

    USS ALASKA Sergeant Major

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    Sir, have to comment on this. From my readings, one of the most isolated ports in the Confederacy, (other than those deep in south Florida), was Brownsville. There were no rail lines to anywhere else. The only way to get supplies to where they were needed was over the trails, (roads being too elevated a noun), and the cost in feed and wear and tear to the draft animals was more than the war supplies were worth. And feed had to be carried along with the supplies. This wasn't like taking animals through Virginia or Maryland where grazing could be had almost anywhere. I'm not sure that any of the supplies made it out of Texas, much less anywhere else in the Trans-Mississippi.

    Also have read that getting cargos out of Mexico and across the river into Brownsville had its own difficulties with Mexican authorities. And the British and French were very concerned about shipments of arms for the 'Confederacy' getting into the hands of the rebels in Mexico.

    Brownsville kinda reminds me of the RN Naval Base at Esquimalt. Until the Trans-Canadian railway was completed, you just couldn't '...get there from here.'

    Perhaps @AndyHall and / or @DaveBrt and / or @Mark F. Jenkins could chime in here and correct any mistakes in my ramblings...

    Cheers,
    USS ALASKA
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2018
  4. DaveBrt

    DaveBrt First Sergeant

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    Do you have any reference to prove that any meaningful amount of war material entered Brownsville and made it east of the Mississippi River? Getting cotton from San Antonio to Brownsville and the war material back from there was a major undertaking and appears to have not even supplied the needs of the Trans Mississippi, much less been important to the eastern Confederacy.
     
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  5. leftyhunter

    leftyhunter Lt. Colonel

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    Yet Arthur Freemantle did comment that he saw quite a few foreign flagged vessels awaiting to unload their cargo bound for the Confederacy awaiting space at Montomoros, Mexico.When I get home I will check another source on Brownsville.
    Leftyhunter
     
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  6. leftyhunter

    leftyhunter Lt. Colonel

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    I am at work training now but latter I will check out some sources.
    Leftyhunter
     
  7. leftyhunter

    leftyhunter Lt. Colonel

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    @DaveBrt
    I am with my son now but I simply googled use of Montomoros port by the Confederacy and a lot if articles popped up one was something like "wild Mexican town Confedeate port". War is boring.com.
    Quitea bit of cotton was exchanged for weapons at Montomoros and the port of Bagdad,Mexico which is no defunct.
    Leftyhunter
     
  8. USS ALASKA

    USS ALASKA Sergeant Major

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    @leftyhunter

    Sir, I don't believe the point of contention is THAT cargos were or were not brought into Brownsville (they were) but rather did they make it to anywhere in the Confederacy to have a positive effect on the prosecution of the war effort. If I were King of the Union for a day, I would want ALL blockade runner cargos to come through there. Good luck getting them to Richmond.

    Cheers,
    USS ALASKA
     
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  9. leftyhunter

    leftyhunter Lt. Colonel

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    @USS ALASKA @DaveBrt hers a better link
    "How,a wild Mexican town prolonged the Civil War " history is boring.com
    Hopefully my friend @O' Be Joyful can once again provide some much needed assistance on making a link.
    Leftyhunter
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2018
  10. leftyhunter

    leftyhunter Lt. Colonel

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    My point is quite a bit of cargo and weaponry was brought in to the Confederacy until the Union Army seized Brownsville. Brownsville was a vital port to the Confederacy and somehow tons of cotton was transported to Montomoros and Bagdad,Mexico and much weaponry did manage to get to Brownsville and then to other places in the Confederacy.
    I will try to get to my Freemantle book which has more information but the online article is a good start and quotes Freemantle.
    Leftyhunter
     
  11. O' Be Joyful

    O' Be Joyful Sergeant Major

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  12. leftyhunter

    leftyhunter Lt. Colonel

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  13. WJC

    WJC Moderator Moderator

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    As evidence of the isolation of Matamoros and Brownsville, Fremantle entered through there in April 1863. He discusses the arduous overland trip, saying "The distance from Brownsville to San Antonio is 330 miles, and we have been 11 days and 4 hours en route." <Arthur Lyon Fremantle, Three Months in the Southern States: April, June, 1863. (Edinburgh: William Blackwood and Sons, 1863), p. 28.>
     
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  14. leftyhunter

    leftyhunter Lt. Colonel

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    Yet somehow the Confederacy had quite a trade going with Europe via Brownsville to Montomoros to Baghdad, Mexico. Go figure.
    Maybe our naval experts @Mark F. Jenkins and @AndyHall think.
    So far no one has disputed the two sources that I mentioned.
    Leftyhunter
     
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  15. DaveBrt

    DaveBrt First Sergeant

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    You did not answer the more important part of my post -- how much, if any, of this material made it to the east of the Mississippi River?
     
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  16. leftyhunter

    leftyhunter Lt. Colonel

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    Thats a good question. Obviously a fair amount because their was quite a bit of trade via Brownsville-Montomoros-Baghdad ,Mexico. The authors of the cited articles should know. Maybe our naval experts know. We know that Lincoln considered it a major problem. There,are certainly other articles on this subject.
    Leftyhunter
     
  17. AndyHall

    AndyHall Colonel Forum Host

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    I will reply in more detail later -- don't have my refs handy at the moment.
     
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  18. leftyhunter

    leftyhunter Lt. Colonel

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    Quite a bit see "Blockade Runners of the Confederacy " Hamilton Cochran p.203 "an immense amount of weaponry entered the Confederacy " from Montomoros.
    It's on Google books just Google "Confederate use of Montomoros port " it should pop up.
    Apparently Brownsville was important enough that in November 1863 General Banks and six thousand men captured Brownsville. That's a good five months after Grant seized Vicksburg. The Union abandoned Brownsville by June 1864. By that time Montomoros was under the control of rebel Mexicans hostile to the Confederacy. Also perhaps by that time the Union controlled Southwest Louisiana. Wiki has a good synopsis of the battle ( not a big battle ) of Brownsville.
    Cochran has a lot of information on Mexico 's important role in frustrating the Union Naval blockade.
    So far I have provided three sources to support the fact that absolutely Brownsville was very strategic Confederate port despite transportation difficulties.
    Leftyhunter
     
  19. Mark F. Jenkins

    Mark F. Jenkins Lt. Colonel Member of the Year

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    I'll defer to Andy Hall on this one-- he definitely has more of the background and the references in the Gulf area, especially Texas, than I do. But a few comments on the overall situation (some of which have already been mentioned, but I'll repeat for the sake of completeness):

    The mouth of the Rio Grande presented a very thorny puzzle for the would-be blockader. Due to its being an international border, it could not be effectively (and legally) blockaded, because the U.S. could not blockade the port of a country with which it was not at war (we will leave all the nitpicking about whether the U.S. was at war with another country out of this for the time being-- from the international point of view, that was the de facto situation, if not de jure). Local conditions also made it really difficult-- the mouth of the Rio Grande is shallow, with lots of intervening shoals and little islands, some merely temporary, so a close blockade was really out of the question anyway. The only real solution for the North was to take and hold Brownsville and some of the other principal points, but supplying such a a far-flung garrison was difficult.

    Complicating the matter further, the French were blockading the Mexican coast, in support of Napoleon III's adventures in Mexico, and wanted to keep arms and supplies out of the hands of the Juaristas, while at the same time being lukewarm at best towards the U.S. A gun-runner heading into the mouth of the Rio Grande could have been shipping arms to the Confederacy, could have been shipping them to the Juaristas, or... could have simply sold them to the highest bidder regardless of affiliation. There's no safe bet on which direction those things would take after a sale in Brownsville/Matamoros.

    Really the only things the Union had going for them in this situation were that Brownsville and the Rio Grande were nearly as isolated from the Confederacy as from the Union, due to distance and lack of effective internal communications, and that the river itself was shallow and could not support large cargoes in any case.
     
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  20. DaveBrt

    DaveBrt First Sergeant

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    After years of reading Confederate quartermaster vouchers, Confederate command letterbooks and Southern railroad records, I have NEVER found a report of imported war material crossing the Mississippi River going east. There are many records of the shipments of salt, sugar, molasses, cattle and men going east until Vicksburg's surrender. There are a few records of arms headed west.

    I do not believe any meaningful amount of military material crossed into Texas, by any route, and proceeded across the Mississippi River. To support your claim of the importance of Brownsville, you need to produce some numbers.
     
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  21. leftyhunter

    leftyhunter Lt. Colonel

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    Also @DaveBrt
    That may be true but I have cited sources that indeed weaponry did reach the Confederacy. I have cited thre sources that a considerable amount of cotton was bartered for weaponry for several years
    It doesn't make sense if the weapons are just stored in Texas. If weaponry wasnt reaching the Confederacy why would the Union invest 6k troops to capture Brownsville?
    Leftyhunter
     

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