To Speak at Charleston Civil War Roundtable: Trading With the Enemy

On Tuesday, September 8, 2015 I will be making a presentation on my Civil War Book, Trading With the Enemy to the Charleston, South Carolina Civil War Roundtable.

When:   Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Where: Ryan’s Steakhouse
829 St. Andrews Boulevard
Charleston, South Carolina 29407

Time:    Dinner: 6:00 p. m.     Speech: 7:00 p. m.

Topic:    Trading With the Enemy

Trading With the Enemy concerns inter-belligerent commerce between the North and South during the Civil War, excluding the minor trade among fraternizing enemy soldiers.

Such commerce was large and scandalous. About twice as much cotton went to Northern states as was shipped through the blockade to Europe. Aside from gold, cotton was the best international exchange medium available in America. Although Civil War shipment tonnage dropped sharply, cotton prices soared over ten-fold thereby sustaining a robust dollar volume.

When Northern traders purchased cotton with specie, the gold invariably found its way into markets where it bought weapons for the Confederacy. Contrary to popular belief such markets were not necessarily international. Major General William T. Sherman complained that Rebels purchased weapons in Cincinnati from the cotton they sold for gold to Memphis traders.

Trading Cover

Evidence suggests a number of notable Civil War personalities were involved in dubious – perhaps treasonous – conduct. Examples include Treasury Secretary Salmon P. Chase, Major General Benjamin Butler and Rhode Island Senator William Sprague. One cotton trader became the largest shareholder of New York’s National City Bank. At different times, his son, grandson, and great-grandson all served as the bank’s Board Chairman, the last as late as 1967.

Perhaps because the story provides no heroes, little has been written about inter-belligerent trade. Nonetheless, an 1865 joint Senate-House investigation led by Illinois Congressman Elihu Washburne concluded: “[The trade] is believed to have led to a prolongation of the war, and to have cost the country thousands of lives and millions upon millions of treasure.”

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Amazon links to my three Civil War Books:

Lee’s Lost Dispatch and Other Civil War Controversies
Trading With the Enemy
Co. Aytch: Illustrated and Annotated

 

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