The Union Blockade
Early in the Civil War (April 1861), the Union forces led by Lincoln decided to block Confederate ports so that Southern states could not export cotton or receive additional weapons. This was an economic war tactic which was successful mainly because the Union Government got other countries on board: most foreign states accepted the tactic and refused to send military material to the Confederacy.
Nevertheless, it was still possible for Southern states to smuggle arms and trade cotton through its Southern borders with Latin American states such as Mexico or Cuba.
The blockade affected not only the Confederacy but also states that imported goods from the Southern States. For example, France and the UK were reliant on the South for much of their cotton import. Therefore, the Confederate forces believed that their economic power would push some foreign countries to side with them in the war. However, this did not happen. Because of interests in both the South and the North, other countries choose to adopt a neutral position.
After the Battle of Fort Summer and the Union blockade of Confederate ports, other countries started accepting that the Confederacy was a separate state engaged in the war. This gave the Confederacy some legitimacy, but not much help as most foreign states declared themselves neutral in the war, even though the blockade had a negative impact on their economies.
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