Cotton was the petroleum of the 19th century, and it was Confederate policy to burn any that might otherwise fall into Union hands, as the Union could sell it to raise money for arms, ammunition, etc. Here the Richmond Daily Dispatch reports with admiration that the planters in New Orleans sacrificed all their cotton, so the Yankees didn’t get any. While some was no doubt burned, the Union forces reported the capture of thousands of bales, as we saw a few days ago.
This is the relieving feature in the disaster at New Orleans, that the cotton was burned. The vast amount of cotton that the enemy expected to obtain in that greatest of Southern marts has disappeared like fog from the mountain side. Not only is this the case, but we are assured that wherever they traverse the Southern rivers, and whatever Southern cities and towns they may take, the torch will be before them. The cotton, we learn, is all removed from exposed places, and where it cannot be so removed, the firebrand is ready, and is in hands that are determined to use it.–They went to war for the cotton. Let us see how much they will get of it. They might have an army of a million or two millions, instead of half a million of men, but all the millions in the world could not give them the cotton. Not only is it the present crop that they cannot get, but they will get no other crops. The planters of the South are universally abandoning the culture of cotton this year, and raising food for man and beast.–They will continue to do so, and raise no more cotton till they can raise it for themselves. If the British can do without cotton, the Yankees cannot, and in that inevitable certainty lies their doom and punishment.