Rebuilding after the Civil War

Three years before Laura went to sea, the country had been at war. During this time, many whaling ship owners preferred not to launch expensive and risky voyages. Demand for whale oil dropped drastically as individuals found cheaper substitutes for lighting. Confederate ships raided and set fire to dozens of New England whalers. In addition, Union forces purposely sunk almost forty whaling ships in Southern harbors in an attempt to block shipping.

New Bedford businesses had waited for better days. In 1865, the industry roared to life. For a brief period at the end of the Civil War, short supplies of spermaceti and whale oil caused prices to spike. Whale ship owners hoped to make up for wartime losses.

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Martha's Vineyard Museum