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General McClellan took charge of the massive army after the crushing Union defeat at the First Battle of Bull Run in July 1861. His overly cautious nature and misconceptions of his enemy’s strength caused him to resist attacking the Confederate armies, thereby making the Army of the Potomac unable to claim any victories in the East. At once, General Ulysses S. Grant had several great successes in the western theater of the war. His troops forced the unconditional surrender of Confederate garrisons at Forts Henry and Donaldson in February 1862 while by the conclusion of the following month, Union General Ambrose E. Burnside controlled all but one port in previously Confederate held North Carolina.<ref>McPherson, ''Crossroads of Freedom'', 16-24.</ref> Additional Union victories in Arkansas and Tennessee along with the capture of New Orleans and all of its ports gave citizens of the North great hope for a swift end to the war. Military strategists and politicians of the North; however, were not as optimistic as they were keenly aware that Union victory must come from the East; an opinion not lost on their European counterparts.
== King Cotton ====
[[File:mississippicottonfield.jpg|thumbnail|left|250px|Mississippi cotton field and slave labor, date unknown]]
The summer of 1862 proved to be the most hopeful for the South with regard to British and French intervention on the behalf of the CSA. Although news took ten days to cross the Atlantic, European powers became increasingly aware of Lee’s victories in the eastern theater. News of Confederate success coincided with a massive shortage of cotton in Europe, particularly in England. Prior to the war, a full 80% of Britain and France’s raw cotton came from Confederate states. Until the summer of 1862, England was able to utilize the surplus of cotton they purchased from the exceptional crops of 1859 and 1861.<ref>McPherson, ''Crossroads of Freedom'', 35.</ref> By May 1862, the supply was less than a third of what the mills required and the European textile industry was facing a crisis. Unemployment in Britain grew exponentially as 75% of cotton workers were unemployed or faced reduced work hours.<ref>James McPherson, ''Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era'' (New York: Oxford University Press, 1988), 548.</ref> King Cotton still reigned supreme.