Stone Fleets sunk in Southern harbors created a lot of publicity. Northern reporters praised this manner of blockading Southern ports as "plugging one of the ratholes." Meanwhile, Southerners and British reporters criticized the blockades, calling the wartime interruption in shipping "barbarism." In fact, the sinking of the Stone Fleet had more symbolic than practical impact. Water currents washed new trenches around the sunken ships and sea worms ate away at the old wooden planks. Within two years, a survey by the U.S. Engineering Department found no sign of the sunken wrecks in any shipping channels. It appeared that the stone-filled hulks had sunk into the mud and sand. Instead of blocking the channel, the Stone Fleet actually deepened it.
While the Union was doing its best to block supplies from entering and leaving Southern ports, the Confederacy tried to destroy whaling fleets still at sea. The Southern strategy sought to damage the Northern economy and force Union warships to focus on defending whaleships instead of blockading enemy ports. The Confederate Navy had few resources so it turned to England for help. Although England had declared itself neutral during the Civil War, the British foreign secretary allowed the secret building of a fleet of Confederate ships in Liverpool, England. The graceful new vessels had steam-powered propellers and could pursue sail-driven whaleships that could only drift without wind.
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