| American History Stories, Volume IV|
|by Mara L. Pratt|
|Stories of the great conflict from the time Lincoln became president and the southern states seceded, through the battles of Bull Run, Shiloh, Antietam, Vicksburg, Gettysburg, Chickamauga, until the close of the war. Includes poems, songs, and illustrations commemorating the events. Ages 8-12 |
"THE SEA ISLANDS"
 But while this army is keeping so "quiet along the Potomac,"
let us take a run out into the ocean, and see what the
United States Navy is doing all this time.
At the beginning of the war, the President had ordered
that all Southern ports be blockaded. This was very
necessary, in order to cut off trade between these ports and
foreign countries. You can see how impossible it would be
to starve out a prisoner if some one all the while were
bringing supplies; so with the Southerners,—the quicker
and more wholly they were cut off from all help, the quicker
they must give way, and the sooner would the war end.
Several vessels were sent to these different ports to blockade
them; that is to keep any vessel from going in or coming
out. One fleet was sent to the Sea islands, a group of
islands south of South Carolina, that State which had begun
the war against the Union. These islands produce the very
finest cotton in the world. It is known in the cotton-markets
all over the world as the "sea-island cotton." You can
see now why it was important to get possession of these
islands; at any rate, why it was important to shut them off
from foreign trade.
The flag-ship in this fleet was called the "Wabash."
Behind her were forty-eight gun-boats and steamers, and
twenty-six sailing vessels. Quite a fleet, compared with
that of 1812.
 The commander formed his fleet into a big circle, and
began to steam round and round between two important forts,
all keeping up a steady fire as they passed round. Round
and round they went, worrying the two forts on all sides,
until they gave way—and the richest lands of the South were
in the hands of Union vessels.
The owners took to flight, burning their stored cotton as
they went, determined that not one shred of it should fall
into Yankee hands.
The negro slaves did not flee. They came down to the
water side as the vessels drew near,—some of them with the
few little things they owned tied up in little bundles,—and
begged to be taken away to the land of freedom.
In a few months, great changes were seen on these sea
islands. The Yankees were busy learning to raise cotton,
and everywhere were schools and teachers for these black
people. Think of it! schools for the negroes! Why, the
Southerners would as soon have thought of educating their
cows as of educating their slaves.
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