The American Civil War brought innovation to the design of warships and merchant vessels.
Southern merchants and the Confederate government needed to sell cotton,
Tobacco, and naval stores abroad and import supplies from Europe, and to accomplish these objectives,
They had to be able to get ships through the Union’s blockade of southern ports.
In 1862, a new type of ship was launched from a British shipyard for a Liverpool merchant engaged in commerce
With the Confederacy;
SS Banshee would become a landmark in marine architecture that led to the successful running of the American Civil War blockade.
She became the first steel ship to cross the Atlantic, but many more followed.
More than 200 similar ships, including about thirty steel ships, all built for blockade running,
Were subsequently launched from British shipyards. Initially, southern mariners used every sort of watercraft to move cargoes, from tiny rowboats to ocean liners and clipper sailing ships.
As the Civil War dragged into a second year, ordinary ships could not run the blockade safely and many were captured.
Banshee A New Kind of Blockade Runner While Confederate states were building warships at home, they looked abroad for merchant ships.
They turned to British shipbuilders for new designs for blockade runners.
At first, the confederates thought big, and chartered, bought, and even built a few long-range ocean liners—but those proved too slow or too deep draft to run the blockade and too expensive to build.
Merchant shippers looked for a new way to get supplies through the blockade.
The answer came in the development of a twostage trade, with larger ships carrying goods between foreign ports and island entrepots,
Banshee A New Kind of Blockade Runner Or transshipment points, just off southern coastlines, and smaller, faster ships to pick up those cargoes and get them through to southern ports.
Ocean greyhounds from European routes were selected to make the run between the South and Bermuda, the Bahamas, and Cuba.
Their prices climbed ever higher as many of the fastest ships from the British coast were sold to run the blockade.
Blockade runner Tom Taylor wrote: “If the Federals were learning the business, so were we.
It was clear that the blockaderunners must not only be increased in numbers but must be improved in type.
The day of sailing vessels and ordinary trading steamers was over; accordingly,
Steamers of great speed were ordered to be built expressly for the service.”
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