Water transportation

major bill

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#1
Living in Michigan I know how important water transportation was by the start of the Civil War. So how important was the movement of goods and supplies by ships to the Union and Confedercy? I have marveled how the huge need for raw materials and agricultural goods experienced due to the War was meet on the Great Lakes. Even during the Civil War, bulk copper and timber shipments were still done by ships with sails.
 

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major bill

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I was thinking of during the Civil War. For example Michigan provided huge amounts of wood for musket stocks, cannon carriages and such. The ability to move the wood to manufacturing centers took considerable shipping. Ships were needed to move Michigan copper and iron ore. Not only would there need to be an increase in ships but also men to man the ships. The Army and Navy was begging for men. So where did the men needed to man the ships come from? Just the amount of food stuffs needed by the Union Army would have changed the amount of shipping on the Great Lakes.

All across the North men were going off to war. Were there enough experienced ship builders to provide both the needs of the Navy and civilian ships. Did not many men with sailing experience join the Navy?

Now the South: I take it prior to the war much cargo in the South moved up the river to the ports and cargo went back down the river with goods. During the war there was an increase in the need for shipping goods. did the south have enough rive boats to do this? Was part of the pre war shipping done during the Civil War by boats, replaced by rail transportation?
 

archieclement

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I was thinking of during the Civil War. For example Michigan provided huge amounts of wood for musket stocks, cannon carriages and such. The ability to move the wood to manufacturing centers took considerable shipping. Ships were needed to move Michigan copper and iron ore. Not only would there need to be an increase in ships but also men to man the ships. The Army and Navy was begging for men. So where did the men needed to man the ships come from? Just the amount of food stuffs needed by the Union Army would have changed the amount of shipping on the Great Lakes.

All across the North men were going off to war. Were there enough experienced ship builders to provide both the needs of the Navy and civilian ships. Did not many men with sailing experience join the Navy?

Now the South: I take it prior to the war much cargo in the South moved up the river to the ports and cargo went back down the river with goods. During the war there was an increase in the need for shipping goods. did the south have enough rive boats to do this? Was part of the pre war shipping done during the Civil War by boats, replaced by rail transportation?
A good deal of the credit regarding our biggest waterway by the CW would go to a fella named Robert E Lee, by saving St Louis Harbor and mapping the Keokuk and Davenport rapids, he was the one who began the process of opening the Upper Mississippi River to navigation, also his recommendation of cutting and maintaining channels is what was done, and still dredged today
 

USS ALASKA

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I was thinking of during the Civil War.
Sir, in reading authors like Fogel, Surdam, Fishlow, et al, in the antebellum period, water was THE transportation mode.

Roads were being built and improved methods of construction were approaching 'all-weather'...sort of. Their main disadvantage was cost of locomotion over the roadway. Extremely un-economical for long distance freight haulage.

Rail was also cutting into water's monopoly but could not compete on the cost-per-tonnage-per-mile comparison. Rail's advantage was being able to go where there was no water, and not being effected by drought or freezing temperatures - unless it brought heavy snows. Rail also had the advantage on rush-cargos and spoilables.
88

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USS ALASKA

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Sir, Surdam writes that water transpo was the most used method in the South. While the blockade gets it's highest recognition from the interception of international shipments, it's greatest impact was on intra-Confederacy movements. Food surpluses from Texas, Florida, Tennessee found their most economical, (and easiest), route to markets via the rivers and inter-coastal waterways. Shutting these down meant those products did not get to areas in need or that they over-burdened the rail / road system. The South was not starved out due to lack of food, she suffered because she could not get her surpluses to where they were needed.

HTHs - not sure I'm answering your initial query...
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USS ALASKA

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#8
1548345889934.png


https://qph.fs.quoracdn.net/main-qimg-2bc009a879f703ed9ff3dbd4fe8c851e

The antebellum US Geographical Survey estimated that the states that would make up the Confederacy had approximately 5,000 miles of navigable waterways - way more than the North. She relied heavily upon them since they worked. With the coming of improved waterways in the Northern states - Great Lakes and canals - traffic began to shift East West from North South.

1548346232519.png


http://www.latinamericanstudies.org/19-century/us-canals.jpg

From Fishlow's 'American Railroads and the Transformation of the Ante-bellum Economy' just one impact of that change...

Proportion of western exports shipped via NOLA
Commodity / 1839 / 1844 / 1849 / 1853 / 1857 / 1860
Flour / 53 / 30 / 31 / 27 / 34 / 22
Meat / 51 / 6 / 50 / 38 / 28 / 24
Corn / 98 / 90 / 39 / 37 / 32 / 19
Whiskey / 96 / 95 / 67 / 53 / 48 / 40
Total foodstuffs / 49 / 44 / 40 / 31 / 27 / 17
137

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USS ALASKA

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In the first place, there was a fairly even distribution of shipping. The railroads running north and south were depended upon for government transportation while those running east and west carried the agricultural products of the west to the eastern ports. In no case was there concentration on any one line or to any one port. In the one instance where the entire burden was placed upon a single line of road, that line proved inadequate: in the winter of 1861 and 1862, when the confederates blockaded the Potomac, the roads connecting New York with Washington proved unequal to the task of transporting all the necessary supplies. Again, when the Potomac was blocked by ice in January, 1864, the attempt was made to bring all supplies into Washington by rail. After a week of the blockade, the chief quartermaster of the Washington depot reported that he had received by railroad up to that time less than twenty cars of forage while the army required seventy-four carloads of grain and three hundred and seventy-five carloads of hay, daily. The situation
was relieved only by a rise in the temperature and by the breaking up of the ice.


It was indeed only owing to the fact that a very large share of the transportation of supplies and troops, was done by water that the railroads proved as generally adequate as they did. In 1864, the quartermaster reported that the government owned and employed on the coast a fleet of thirty-nine ocean steamers, forty-five river and bay steamers, twenty steam tugs, two barks, two brigs, twenty-one schooners, and twenty-nine barges with an aggregate burden of 43,729 tons. In addition, there was a chartered fleet of 158,694 tons burden. In the west, also, a large portion of the transportation was by water. The following figures from the report of Colonel Charles Parsons, who was in charge of transportation at St. Louis, show the relative use of rail and water in that district for the year ending June 30, 1863: subsistence, ordnance, quartermaster's, and medical store transported by rail totaled 153,102,100 pounds, by river 337,912,363 pounds; troops by rail 193,023, by river 135,909.

https://civilwartalk.com/threads/the-northern-railroads-and-the-civil-war.142243/#post-1734492
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major bill

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#10
Yet water transportation is a little looks at advantage the Union had. The South did have significant water transportation as well, but is some areas the Union Army and Navy threatened them.
 

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