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sent to England by Mr. Lincoln was, whether the President was serious in his proclamation of a blockade of all the ports of the States in insurrection. The coast was very extensive, said Lord John Russell, stretching some three thousand miles along the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico: “Was it the design of the United States to institute an effective blockade in its whole extent, or to make only a declaration to that effect as to the whole, and to confine the actual blockade to particular Adams to points ?" Mr. Adams replied that he had every May 21, 1862 reason for affirming that the blockade would be made effective; that although the coast line was in reality very long, yet the principal harbors were comparatively few, only some seven to ten in number, and those not very easy of access.
It would therefore not require so numerous a fleet to guard them as might appear at first thought.
This reply to some extent satisfied the inquiry. But even had it been strictly accurate, the ability of the American Government to fulfill its announce
ment might naturally have been doubted by foreign Chap. I. powers. Our navy was rapidly falling into decadence. Of its ninety ships more than one-half had become useless. Among the remaining number there were only about twenty-four that might be called really serviceable vessels, that is, those supplied with the indispensable modern adjunct of steam power. These however were, at the date of Mr. Lincoln's inauguration, not immediately available. Thirteen of them were on distant foreign stations; two were returning home from Vera Cruz; two were stationed at Pensacola, tied up by the conditions of Mr. Buchanan's “Sumter and Pickens truce"; and only three steamships were in loyal ports, where they could be with certainty called to the instant service of the Government.
If the Government had been compelled to deal with an established naval power; if the Administration had been less vigorous and prompt in its action; or, if the patriotism of the people of the North had lacked its striking unanimity, the want of a large fleet ready for service at a critical moment might have been followed by very serious consequences. On the whole, the favoring conditions were on the side of the Union. Notwith
1 The fleet before Charleston twenty-two guns, and St. Louis, harbor consisted of the war twenty guns. steamers Pawnee, eight guns, These with the steamers CruPocahontas, five guns, and the sader, eight guns, Mohawk, five revenue cutter Harriet Lane, five guns, the store-ship Supply, four guns.
guns, and the sailing ship CumThe fleet before Pensacola con- berland, twenty-four guns, consisted of the war steamers Pow- stituted the whole naval force of hatan, eleven guns, Brooklyn, the United States to which orders twenty-five guns, Wyandotte, five for immediate service could be guns, and the sailing ships, given on the day when the PresiSabine, fifty guns, Macedonian, dent established the blockade.