Railroads and the War Shortages in the Confederacy

A great deal of the suffering which the people of the South have been forced to bear since the blockade began, is the result rather of bad management than of actual scarcity.

The Confederacy abounds in the resources necessary to sustain a people in time of war, nothing has been wanting but the tact to develop those resources and to make them available for the whole country. The duty of distributing the varied products of the several States, so that our distant communities might extend mutual succor in the time of need, seems to have been neglected altogether, or left to the tender conscience of the extortioner and the speculator.

The result is an artificial scarcity of some of the necessaries of life, everywhere.

Thus, while in the Valley of the Mississippi, the supply of sugar far exceeds the demand, in Charleston the same article almost keeps pace with the luxuries, coffee and tea. By comparing other localities, a similar disproportion of value will be found existing, to a greater or less extent, in the case of flour, corn, bacon, salt, rice, etc…

The main difficulty in reducing the prices of such articles to a moderate and equal standard, has consisted in the alleged lack of transportation. The railroads to which the country looked for relief, have generally been under the control of the Government for the purposes of military transportation; and we fear that, in the effort to provide supplies for the army, due regard has not been given to the wants of the people.

It may be true, indeed, that the facilities of the South for intercommunication, have never been adequate to meet such an exigency as the present; but we feel assured that our railroads might, by taxing their capacities to the utmost, and by an intelligent and systematic cooperation, do far more than they are now doing to lighten the pressure of these hard times.


Collection: The Civil War
Publication: The Charleston Mercury
Date: November 12, 1862
Title: The Railroads and the War.

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