The Confederacy's Undelivered European Fleet and the Union Consular Service

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USS ALASKA

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Mar 16, 2016
www.archives.gov/publications/prologue/2001/fall/confederate-fleet-1.html

Having read some of the source material listed in the notes, I would like to say this is a good, concise, wrap-up of the topic.

I think the conclusion is a fair assessment – poor diplomacy, uncoordinated efforts, self-serving and at times conflicting objectives and attitudes of states and individuals – I’m surprised that the South accomplished as much as it did in this arena. I believe what it comes down to is “Money Talks”. In the ‘Arms of Krupp’ by William Manchester, he writes about the ways of ‘diplomacy’ and under-the-table dealing in the arms trade in Europe in the late 1800s. He quotes someone (I believe it was the famous Vickers salesman – can’t remember his name right now) as saying that even the largest print cannot be read through a gold sovereign. He also anecdotally wrote about a buyer who was complaining about all the bribes and kickbacks he had to pay, that he could never get his cruiser built. The response was “…as long as you get paid and I get paid, what does it matter?”

If I’m completely off here, please fire away. Would like to learn more.


Cheers,
USS ALASKA
 

Mark F. Jenkins

Colonel
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Mar 31, 2012
Location
Central Ohio
I think a hefty dose of credit must also be given to James Dunwoody Bulloch, the various branches of Fraser, Trenholm, and to a certain extent (though not principally in the naval sphere) to Caleb Huse. They were quite competent (in Bulloch's case, I'd venture to say outstandingly so) and had amazing abilities to surmount obstacles.
 

rebelatsea

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Mar 30, 2013
Location
Kent ,England.
I think a hefty dose of credit must also be given to James Dunwoody Bulloch, the various branches of Fraser, Trenholm, and to a certain extent (though not principally in the naval sphere) to Caleb Huse. They were quite competent (in Bulloch's case, I'd venture to say outstandingly so) and had amazing abilities to surmount obstacles.
I fully agree Mark, in particular Bulloch, who had to try to reconcile the instructions he was getting from Mallory with what was physically possible, whilst maintaining a resume of the latest naval developments in Europe and progress with his own projects. I 'm never sure whether he was helped or hindered by Lt North, Samuel Barron and Maury over in France, but iu lean toward the latter.
 
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USS ALASKA

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Mar 16, 2016
I don’t doubt the earnestness of those gent’s effort – just the seemingly disjointedness of it all. Without a unified effort, they could have ended up competing for the same resources and driving up prices on themselves. Not to mention raising the ‘noise levels’ about their activities and attracting unwanted attention.

Cheers,
USS ALASKA
 

USS ALASKA

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Mar 16, 2016
A few passages from the article I found very interesting…

“On several occasions Samuel Whiting, the consul in Nassau, sped communications by hiring a swift pilot schooner to carry messages directly to the naval station at Key West. Despite the utility of the method, his entreaties to the State Department failed to produce a despatch boat for his use. His successor, Seth C. Hawley, tried harder, securing an estimate for purchase and operation of a small pilot schooner to carry despatches. His efforts were no more successful than his predecessor's, and the department never provided a despatch boat.”

Given the amount being spent by the Union for the war, this would seem to be a minor expense when weighted against the potential gains. And given the prize rules with the USN, one might think that the Navy would be inclined to provide one if for no other reason than personal enrichment.

“But by mid-1862, several of the most active consuls had spent small fortunes to pay informers and spies— without reimbursement by the government— and could do no more. Consul M. M. Jackson in Halifax, Nova Scotia, had used his personal funds to hire others to assist him in his intelligence gathering. When funding requirements for intelligence gathering increased beyond his personal means, Jackson sought reimbursement for his expenses in supporting this work.”

For the same reason as above, this would seem to be an easy fix – the concern would be the ease of abuse it could bring about.

Cheers,
USS ALASKA
 

USS ALASKA

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Mar 16, 2016
http://samilitaryhistory.org/lectures/livplspy.html

The Liverpool Spy Ring - and a fleet sunk by diplomacy
by Marjorie Dean

"Most of us associate Liverpool, a northern English port city on the River Mersey facing out into the Irish Sea, with a soccer club that has a spectator stand named after a major battle in the Boer War, with the music of the Beatles, and possibly a very ugly building with two stonking great stone birds on top of it! However, during the American Civil War, fought between, 1861 and 1865, Liverpool was a field of Civil War conflict just as important as the major battle sites we all know about. Who won or lost in Liverpool was an important factor in deciding who won or lost in America. The whole story of how the Confederates tried to build up supplies of armed ships, arms and ammunition could keep us here for a very long time, but tonight I want to look at just one facet of the hugely complex operations that went on."

Cheers,
USS ALASKA
 
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