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Civil War and Reconstruction
The South During the Civil War
Edwin Punchard and the Union Blockade

The following document is an excerpt from American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940 from Texas. Edwin Punchard describes the impact of the Union blockade on getting Texas cotton to market. What were these effects?

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"When we lived in Austin County, my father was a merchant, plantation and slave owner. When the Civil War was over, he gave the slaves their freedom and they refused to leave, so he kept them and gave them part of the crop and their living expenses to stay and work the land. The carpet-baggers were in control and the times were pretty rough. It was pretty much the same as elsewhere in the days of reconstruction.

"[This?] reminds me of how when I was a boy we had to get our cotton to Brownsville during the war and send it through Mexico to the markets in Europe. From Brownsville and [?], Mexico, it was shipped across the ocean. One could see, the long wagon trains of cotton, drawn by oxen, all through the fall of the year as they slowly mended their way to the Mexican border. The reason for this was that part of the time the Texas ports were blockaded and all the time enemies were on the watch to confiscate produce of any kind, and especially cotton, as it sold for fifty cents a pound or more, during the blockade.

"There would be from ten to twenty bales to the wagon and a train of wagons from ten to twenty in number. When they camped at night, they were drawn up in a circle to form a breastwork for defense from the robbers and Indians. These trips required from one to three months. If it was during rainy season, then they often had to camp by the creeks and rivers until they run down, for you must remember this was before the day of the bridge."
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View the entire interview with Mr. Punchard from American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940. Use your browser's Back Button to return to this point.