Author Archive

Aug 27

Spotlight on Civil War Engineers

Friday, August 27, 2010 9:22 AM


Charles Ellet, Jr. Charles Ellet, Jr. gained early fame as a civil engineer and designer of suspension bridges in West Virginia and Pennsylvania. The Navy Department initially mocked the frail engineer for his design of an unarmed steam vessel used for breaking blockades in the 1850s. Determined, Ellet went so far as to submit plans to Imperial Russia during the Crimean War. Seeing the success of the CSS Virginia’s ramming blows at Hampton Roads, Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton grew convinced and offered Ellet a commission as an Army Colonel and money to construct the United States Ram Fleet… Read the rest of this entry »

Jun 25

Review of Howard J. Fuller's Clad in Iron

Friday, June 25, 2010 2:29 PM


  Fuller, Howard J. Clad in Iron: The American Civil War and the Challenge of British Naval Power. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2008. Civil War naval histories are itself a niche market in the spectrum of scholarship written about the five year conflict. As we draw near the beginning of the sesquicentennial celebration of the American Civil War, a cursory examination of previous scholarship reveals an obsession with fleet operations and technology. It is no surprise then that monographs written about famous naval battles and leaders of the Union and Confederacy will continue to increase in their appeal. Yet what… Read the rest of this entry »

May 10

What’s in a Name? Remembering CSS Virginia

Monday, May 10, 2010 8:55 PM


As we celebrate the 148th anniversary of the CSS Virginia‘s final day (11 May 1862), it is important to note how the legendary “Mistress of Hampton Roads” is remembered. Although she is two years away from being properly celebrated by the Civil War Navy Sesquicentennial, her importance in the annals of naval history remains a yearly affair.  At the beginning of the American Civil War, Confederate Secretary of the Navy Stephen Mallory puzzled over an effective way to break the Union Blockade. How does one wrestle the “great snake” without succumbing to its venom in the process? With no naval… Read the rest of this entry »

Apr 5

Remembering the Navy at Shiloh

Monday, April 5, 2010 2:54 PM


In the scope of Civil War scholarship, naval operations remain a minority (Please see Civil War Navy 150 posting here). Although recent articles point to the lack of attention on Union and Confederate navies, there is still much work to be done. As we approach the 148th anniversary of the Shiloh Campaign tomorrow, it is poignant to point to both topics under the lens of the Civil War Navy.  Federal timberclads USS Lexington and USS Tylerwere essential in the April 1862 Shiloh Campaign. Both vessels protected Union Army transports on the way to Shiloh along the Tennessee River. Indeed, protection… Read the rest of this entry »

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