Navl operation amer cival war Essay

This essay has a total of 1757 words and 9 pages.

navl operation amer cival war



“NAVAL OPERATIONS DURING THE CIVIL WAR”
At the beginning of the Civil War in 1861, there was little reason to suspect that the
United States Navy would play a very big role in the war. The Confederate Navy had
absolutely no navy, nor did they have the ability to create one. The south did not
contain a single plant that could create a marine engine. (Carrison, page #17) The
government of the Confederate States got underway in the spring of 1861, totally
unprepared from a naval standpoint to uphold the independence it had declared.
(Confederate Forces Afloat, page #1)

The Confederacy lacked the adequate means to conduct an offensive of defensive war.
(http://sunsite.unc.edu/ page 1a) They needed ships to defend its long coastline and
inland waterways, to carry war to its northern shores, or to conduct the foreign trade,
vital to its existence. To this bleak outlook was added but limited hope to acquiring or
constructing a navy. Nevertheless, inspired determination and ingenuity evinced
particularly by the more than 300 able officers who resigned from the United States Navy
to support the southern cause. These men culminated in the rapid appearance of many
varied types of forces afloat under the Confederate flag. (http://sunsite.unc.edu/ page
2a)

The States Navy provided the foundation for the events to follow. The seceding states
confiscated small United States ships, such as revenue cutters, coast survey ships, and
lighthouse tenders. They also purchased others from northern owners as well as southern
owners. They quickly started building additional vessels better suited for warfare.
(http://sunsite.unc.edu page #2a) Also, the states that seceded automatically took with
them the naval forces they had already accumulated. As the war went on, the confederacy
created a better defense for their major ports, inland waterways, and the south’s vast
coastline. The better defense included the ironclads and the submarines. (Reader’s
Digest, page #144)

Lincoln and his Secretary of Navy, Gideon Welles, resolved early to weaken the south by
blockading its major ports. The union, however, did not have the size to pull off an
operation of this magnitude. Many months passed before the United States Navy was large
enough to enforce this blockade. (Nevins, page #410) As the war waged on the union forces
pecked away at southern Confederate ports. Through this campaign the Federal forces took
many key places such as Fort Hatteras, N.C. and Port Royal, S.C. Over the next year New
Orleans, Roanoke Island, New Bern, N.C., Fort Mason, N.C., Fort Pulaski, GA, and
Pensacola, FL all fell into the hands of the Union. The Confederates rallied briefly in
1863 and managed t hold their remaining coastal works, notably Charleston, S.C. The
Confederate Navy could never match the growth of the United States navy.
(http://sunsite.unc.edu/pub/academic/histo…military/)

Northern fleets continued to apply pressure to the southern shores. Two engagements
marked the effectiveness of the coastal attacks. On August 15, 1864 Admiral David
Farragut led a squadron into a mine-infested Mobile Bay with the battle cry: “Damn the
torpedoes! Full speed ahead!” Five months later, on January 15,1865, Federal forces
stormed and captured Fort Fisher, N.C., the last great southern defense on the Atlantic
Coast. (http://sunsite.unc.edu/war/)

The Southern States being born without a navy and never able to develop a fleet that could
compete with the growing navy of the United States had a hard time defeating the United
States at sea. Their lack of funds and ship building materials were no help either. The
union effectively blocked the building of Confederate Warships in Great Britain through
their diplomacy. The Confederates, with odds against them, never stopped trying.
Eventhough their naval efforts were constricted for the most part to operations by
privateers, blockade runners, and undertakings by individual ship owners. (Boatner page
#126)

Most of twenty Confederate raiders that were commissioned achieved considerable fame
before they were destroyed. For example, the C.S.S. Florida, under Captain John Newland
Maffit, captured thirty-four34 ships before she herself was seized in Brazil in 1864. The
English-built Alabama, commanded by Ralph Semmes, took sixty-two prizes in two years on
the high seas. On June19, 1864, was sunk off the coast of France in a historic battle
with the U.S.S. Kearsage. (Boatner page #127)

The Confederates made several notable innovations during the naval warfare. One was an
Ironclad Ram, named the Arkansas, and hastily built in the summer of 1862 to combat
Federal ships on the Mississippi River. The Arkansas was constructed of wood, railroad
rails, wire, and pieces of iron collected from all over the south. The monster-like
vessel created momentary havoc among the Federal gunboats. However, its captain was
forced to scuttle the ship near

Baton Rouge Louisiana after its engine failed. (Http://www.wtj.com/)
The Confederacy also boasted the first submarine of modern design. The thirty-five foot
H.L. Hunley sank four times with its crews during trial runs. Nevertheless, on the night
of Feburay 17, 1864, the little vessel torpedoed and sank the U.S.S. Housatonic in
Charleston Harbor. The Hunley and its fifth crew of seven perished in the explosion. In
addition to the submarine the, Confederates also developed the water mine and the torpedo
boat. The latter was a small vessel propelled by a steam engine. It drifted along the
surface with a torpedo suspended to the end of a long spar. The first of these torpedo
boats, the David, appeared in Charleston Harbor in October 1863 and seriously damaged the
blockading warship New Ironsides. (http://www.wtj.com/cnavyo1.html/)

The Confederacy had to come up with new innovations such as these. They were the only
hope to prevent the Union forces from capturing their port cities. Or heading into the
inland water ways. The Mississippi River for example would have been a great prize for
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