Confederate Blockade Runner Flag in Cotton
Size: 3×5 Ft
Confederate ships frequently slipped through the Union blockade of Southern waters. Without these blockade runners, the South could not trade with Europe to procure the weapons and materials they could not produce themselves.
There are many stories about the blockade runners. One involves the CSS Florida, captained by Lt. John Maffitt. In September of 1862 the Florida was out of Havana. A number of crew were suffering from yellow fever, including her captain. Maffit decided to make the dash into Mobile, despite the Union Navy’s stiff blockade of Mobile Bay in Alabama. It has been reported that Maffitt had to be tied with rope to remain upright, so weak was he from fever.
Arriving at the bay, three Union warships blocked the way. Raising a British Red Ensign, Maffit brazenly sailed into Mobile Bay. Despite a shot across his bow and the signal to heave to, he raced past broadsides from the USS Oneida. Struck several times and badly damaged by shots from both the Oneida and the USS Winnoa, CSS Florida sailed on. Maffit described it this way:
“I endeavored to make sail. Several men were wounded in the rigging. At this moment I hauled down the English flag, under which I had been sailing as a ruse de guerre, and gave the order to one of the helmsmen to hoist the Confederate flag. The Florida came to anchor safely under the guns of Fort Morgan in a much damaged condition, but lived to fight for the Confederacy another day”.
Embarrassing as this was to the Union Navy, it was made more so four months later, when Maffit made good his escape from Mobile Bay through the same blockade on January 15, 1863. In two years of service, the Florida captured or destroyed more than $4 million worth of US maritime commerce. She had fifty captures to her name.
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