Did Northerners run guns to the Confederacy?
January 20, 2013 8:55 AM   Subscribe

I’m trying to find out if there were any Northerners during the U.S. Civl War who ran guns to the Confederacy. I’ve done research and have found nothing about this. Any Civil War buffs out there ever hear any rumblings about this? If so, can you point me to resources?
posted by MarioM to Grab Bag (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
This article (PDF) talks about the large scale cotton trade between the North & the South during the war. There's a quote from Lincoln on the third page where he talks about it being better to have the South get guns from the North rather than guns & ammo from Europe. The author dismisses Lincoln's argument as "specious". Not sure if that was rhetorical or reality on Lincoln's part. I messaged a friend who has done a lot of research on this type of trade. I let you know if he knows any specific examples of guns.
posted by marxchivist at 9:37 AM on January 20, 2013

The only resource I, as a non-buff, can suggest is the wikipedia entry on the Copperhead movement which mentions a couple of academic authors who might have access to source material dealing with that questions.
posted by jason's_planet at 10:27 AM on January 20, 2013

No proof but you can bet your life that where there is a demand for an item, there will be those who will provide it. Of course there were northerners running guns. Leaving aside that there both sides has sympathizers on the other side and family, the money to be made would guarantee the sale would take place.

And Lincon's comment made perfect sense. It is much beter to have the civil war remaing a civil war. Having another country back one side or the other would have made for a much more difficult win.
posted by 2manyusernames at 11:58 AM on January 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

Didn't the British arm the Confederate Army? This book investigates that.
posted by Ideefixe at 1:00 PM on January 20, 2013

There was the case of Appleton Oaksmith, an, um, confederate of William Walker and erstwhile official in the filibuster government of Nicaragua. I'm pretty sure if you dig far enough you'll find more actual names -- the blockade-running was not just foreign ships at eastern ports, but also took place all up the reaches of the Mississippi and other navigable rivers. There were plenty of copperheads and other Confederate sympathizers not to mention the neutral/amoral profiteers -- there was by no means unanimity among Northerners (my own hometown raised more men for the Union Army per capita than any other in the state, yet elected a Copperhead mayor). Another case to look at would be Lambdin P. Milligan, whose (interrupted) plot to seize the arsenal at Indianapolis ultimately led to an important Supreme Court ruling on habeas corpus.
posted by dhartung at 1:44 PM on January 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

I’m trying to find out if there were any Northerners during the U.S. Civl War who ran guns to the Confederacy.

The Union Army itself was one of the biggest suppliers of arms and munitions to the Confederacy. Capturing supplies and raiding depots was one of the primary activities of calvary on both sides and the South was particularly adept at this (by necessity of course.)

Recall that John Brown raided the depot at Harper's Ferry in order to obtain arms for his slave uprising. The Confederates raided the same depot in 1961 and "secured ammunition and 100 stand of arms for the Martinsburg light infantry from the Virginia armory at Richmond, and had these moved to the railway station and loaded on a train before sunrise of the 17th."
posted by three blind mice at 4:24 AM on January 21, 2013

Thanks for all the info everyone. I got what I needed.
posted by MarioM at 9:34 AM on January 23, 2013

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