02974 - Wreck of Blockade-Runner; Sullivan's Island, SC; 1865 [LC-DIG-cwpb-02974]
While most of the memorable battles were fought on land, the role of the Navy in fighting blockade runners was critical. At the start of the war the Union enacted the “Anaconda Plan” which attempted to squeeze the South by restricting her ability to conduct trade. The Union Navy posted 500 ships along the 3500 mile Southern coastline, effectively halting all Southern trade.
As a counter measure, the South enlisted the help of Great Britain (who was highly dependent on Southern goods, particularly cotton) to run the blockade. The British introduced long, narrow steamships designed for speed, not for combat. With little or no arms or armor, the ships could dart in and out of the Southern ports. Some made as many as 20 trips, without capture. By war's end the Union Navy had captured 1,100 and destroyed or ran aground another 355 vessels.