Now for the Contest – William H. Roberts

Coastal and Oceanic Naval Operations in the Civil War

This book is part of, and may well be the last of, a series called “Great Campaigns of the Civil War”.  Each book takes a major slice of the war and treats it as a whole, at a higher level than usual studies – tying in political and strategic elements instead of tactical ones.  The books are short, a few hundred pages, but they still have a lot of information in them.  Thinking it over, the only major campaign not covered is Gettysburg and the autumn 1863 Virginia campaign.  Others could be the Transmississippi and the March through the Carolinas, I suppose. I don’t think the Peninsula and Seven Days are covered either, come to think of it.  Maybe there’s more life in the series than I thought.

It is a very good series, especially if you don’t want to dive into a few 500 page books to cover the same period, as each covers several battles

This volume is about the blockade and the Confederate raiding and blockade running efforts.  There is the usual discussion of the few battles, but more of the emphasis is on the Union production of ironclads and the Confederate efforts to have raiders and blockade busting ships built in Europe.  Similarly, as much time is spent describing life on the blockade and how the fleet tried to trap runners as is spent on one of the rare ship-to-ship battles.  It is a nice switch of emphasis that makes this book seem fresh.

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