Entrepot: Government Imports into the Confederate States
by C. L. Webster III
- Paperback: 396 pages
- Publisher: Edinborough Press (October 1, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1889020370
- ISBN-13: 978-1889020372
They say military professionals talk logistics. Not all the discipline and courage in the world is a substitute for weapons, ammo, clothing and food. Armies ignore logistics at great peril; doing so usually leads to defeat. However, readers of military history readers prefer “Battles & Leaders” to clerks and invoices. This is what makes this book so unusual and such a valuable addition to my library. The author flies in the face of convention by producing a logistical history that is interesting and thought provoking.
In 1861, the Confederacy lacked everything an army requires. Supplies come from captured arsenals, state militias, internal production and purchases allow the initial armies to take the field. The supplies in the arsenals and held by the states are quickly exhausted. Major efforts improved internal production but this was never enough to keep the military supplied. Capture of union supplies was never a dependable source of supply nor could it meet specific requirements.
During the Civil War, England is the most industrial nation in the world with a history as an arsenal and the proven ability to manufacture everything an army needs. Additionally, England is a sympatric neutral and very willing to help the CSA. This book is a history of the relationship between CSA agents and English firms to supply the CSA’s armies. This effort is much more than purchase, ship and run the blockade. The author captures the complex system built to accommodate this effort. Starting at the Trading Houses and CSA agents in England, we move to breaking ocean shipments down to accommodate blockade-runners in Bermuda and the receipt and distribution of goods in the South. This is a story of hard work, long hours, some danger and large profits for the English traders.
The author details the activities of the ordnance departments in Wilmington, Charleston and Mobile. Wilmington, the South’s major and last port, is a book within the book. The reader is treated to a look at the business side of war that we seldom see. The CSA trades cotton for stores. Obtaining and baling cotton, treatment of the blockade-runners and shipping of the stores is a fascinating story. The variety of goods and how they are stored and accounted for dispels any idea that this is a simple time.
Entrepot is not a fun read nor a page-turner. This is a detailed look at imports into the Confederate states and the impact these imports had on the war. Entrepot is a unique book and one that the serious student of the Civil War should consider reading.
Editor’s Note: Jim is a Top 500 Amazon.com reviewer.
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