War on the Waters

War on the Waters

The Union and Confederate Navies, 1861-1865

By James M. McPherson

University of North Carolina Press, Hardcover, 9780807835883, 277pp.

Publication Date: September 2012

Although previously undervalued for their strategic impact because they represented only a small percentage of total forces, the Union and Confederate navies were crucial to the outcome of the Civil War. In "War on the Waters," James M. McPherson has crafted an enlightening, at times harrowing, and ultimately thrilling account of the war's naval campaigns and their military leaders.
McPherson recounts how the Union navy's blockade of the Confederate coast, leaky as a sieve in the war's early months, became increasingly effective as it choked off vital imports and exports. Meanwhile, the Confederate navy, dwarfed by its giant adversary, demonstrated daring and military innovation. Commerce raiders sank Union ships and drove the American merchant marine from the high seas. Southern ironclads sent several Union warships to the bottom, naval mines sank many more, and the Confederates deployed the world's first submarine to sink an enemy vessel. But in the end, it was the Union navy that won some of the war's most important strategic victories--as an essential partner to the army on the ground at Fort Donelson, Vicksburg, Port Hudson, Mobile Bay, and Fort Fisher, and all by itself at Port Royal, Fort Henry, New Orleans, and Memphis.

About the Author
James M. McPherson is a distinguished Civil War historian. He won the 1989 Pulitzer Prize for his book BATTLE CRY OF FREEDOM: THE CIVIL WAR ERA. His other publications include MARCHING TOWARD FREEDOM: BLACKS IN THE CIVIL WAR, Second Edition (1991); ORDEAL BY FIRE: THE CIVIL WAR AND RECONSTRUCTION, Third Edition (2001); ABRAHAM LINCOLN AND THE SECOND AMERICAN REVOLUTION (1991); FOR CAUSE AND COMRADES: WHY MEN FOUGHT IN THE CIVIL WAR (1997), which won the Lincoln Prize in 1998; CROSSROADS OF FREEDOM: ANTIETAM (2002); HALLOWED GROUND: A WALK AT GETTYSBURG (2003); and TRIED BY WAR: ABRAHAM LINCOLN AS COMMANDER IN CHIEF (2008), which won the Lincoln Prize for 2009. Professor McPherson served as president of the American Historical Association (2003-2004).