The New England whaling fleet might have recovered from the loss of ships, much as it had after earlier wars. An international court actually awarded the American government millions of dollars in war damages to be paid by England for its role in secretly building and outfitting Confederate ships. Ultimately, alternative light sources and a disastrous Arctic whaling season caused more lasting damage to the industry.
Wars always had a profound and immediate impact on New England whaling communities. They also made whalemen at sea vulnerable to attack by hostile ships. At the same time, wars set back the industry only temporarily. National and international conflict affected the demand for whale oil in the short term, but once peace returned customers continued to seek out cheap whale oil substitutes. Petroleum ultimately posed a much greater threat to the whaling industry than war.
Martha's Vineyard Museum