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Blockade Runners

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The time was December 1864. Winter had not yet released her grip on the struggling Confederacy, nor had the Union armies. The seaports of Charleston and Wilmington were still receiving supplies from Europe. In the past six months the towns received over 500,000 pairs of shoes, 300,000 blankets, 3.5 million pounds of meat, 1.5 million pounds of lead, 2 million pounds of saltpeter, 50,000 rifles, 43 cannon plus huge amounts of uniform cloth, medicine, and other essential supplies. From these imported goods came supplies that were forwarded to Confederate field armies. In the heartland of the South, the remaining 25,000 soldiers of the shattered Army of Tennessee were each sent a blanket, jacket, two shirts, and four pairs of pants, shoes and drawers. The Army of Northern Virginia, huddled in the trenches around Richmond and Petersbury, received 100,000 jackets, 140,000 pairs of pants, 167,000 pairs of shoes, 170,000 pairs of drawers, and 150,000 shirts, all for an army of 72,000 men. These supplies, plus an unbroken flow of munitions, provided the Southern troops with the equipment needed to resist the Federals.

The Confederacy was able to supply their troops  because of a reliance on a system based on steam vessels carrying essential goods through the Federal Navy's blockade. It was these vessels that allowed the new nation to survive as long as it did. On blockade runners came 60 percent of the South's arms; one-third of its lead for bullets, ingredients for three-fourths of its powder, nearly all of its paper for cartridges, and the majority of its cloth and leather for uniforms and accoutrements.

Blockade Runners were the "Lifeline of the Confederacy" bringing in 60% of South’s armaments: 1/3 of lead - all paper for cartridges - majority of cloth and leather - of the ingredients of gun powder - all potassium nitrate - shells and shot - meat: three million pounds of bacon - mining supplies - blankets, 100’s of thousands - cloth - machinery for armory - minting of paper money printing presses - rope - gunpowder - rifles - pistols - caps - shoes, 100’s of thousands pairs - leather - screws - wire - medical supplies - steel - molds - clothing - paper - artillery cannons - engines and parts - lead - wool hats.

They also brought luxury items: liquors - coffee - tea - carpets - furniture - jewelry - cigars - wine - china.  

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