On 19 April 1861, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed his intention to blockade the rebellious Southern states. Of the 90 warships on the U.S. Navy rolls, however, only 42 were in commission and most of those on foreign stations. The remainder had the task of patrolling 3,500 miles of coastline to enforce Lincoln's ban on trade with the Confederacy until the Navy obtained more ships. Blockading was initially considered the Navy's fundamental wartime role. In what the press dubbed the Anaconda Plan, U.S. Army General-in-Chief Winfield Scott envisioned the Navy and Army acting in unison, strangling the Confederacy by exerting pressure from many points. The Navy would serve as the anaconda's muscular coils to constrict the South's trade. The service, however, would do much more. The ability of its ships to move along coastlines and up rivers, battle their way past formidable enemy defenses, and land and protect troops gave the Navy the strike of a venomous snake.
1. Welles to Mervine, 7, 14 May, eds. Richard Rush et. al., Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, 31 vols. (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1894-1927), ser. 1, 16:620-21 (hereafter cited as ORN).
2. Price includes the entire Gulf in his figures, which would include the ports in West Florida. Marcus W. Price, "Ships that Tested the Blockade of the Gulf Ports: 1861-1865," The American Neptune, Vol. XI, No. 4 (Oct. 1951), p. 290.
4. See William Watson's The Civil War Adventures of a Blockade Runner, London: Unwin Brothers, 1892.
5. Pope to McKean, 13, 17 October 1861, ORN, 1, 16:703-705, 709-11.
6. Welles to Farragut, 9 January 1862, ORN, 1, 18:5.
7. Autrey to Lee, 18 May 1862, ORN, 1, 18:492.
8. Farragut to Fox, 30 May 1862, ORN, 1, 18:521-22.
9. Farragut to Welles, 28 June 1862, ORN, 1, 18:588.
10. Brown to Lynch, 15 July 1862, ORN, 1, 19:68-69.
11. Faxon to Farragut, 13 March 1863, ORN, 1, 19:661; Farragut to Welles, 16 Martch 1863, Ibid., pp. 665-69.
12. Court of Enquiry, 12 January 1863, ORN, 1, 19:447-450.
13. See Edward T. Cotham Jr.'s Sabine Pass: The Confederacy's Thermopylae. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2004.
14. Marcus W. Price, "Ships that Tested the Blockade of the Gulf Ports: 1861-1865," The American Neptune, Vol. 12, No. 3 (July 1952), p. 236.