I’ll soon make a presentation on my book, Trading With the Enemy, to the Civil War Roundtable of Arkansas.
When: Tuesday, October 20, 2015
Where: Second Presbyterian Church
Interstate–430 and Cantrell Road
Little Rock, Arkansas 72227
Time: 7:00 p. m.
Topic: Trading With the Enemy
For more information contact: email@example.com
Trading With the Enemy concerns intersectional 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 large monetary 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 overseas. Union Major General William T. Sherman complained that Rebels purchased weapons in Cincinnati from the cotton they sold for gold to Memphis traders after Memphis was occupied by Federal soldiers.
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. His son, grandson, and great-grandson served sequentially as the bank’s Board Chairman, the last as late as 1967. The bank is currently known as Citicorp and the great grandson, James Stillman Rockefeller, lived until 2004.
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.”
My Civil War books: