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message 1: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44327 comments Mod
This thread is dedicated to the discussion of the UNION BLOCKADE - THEATER OF THE AMERICAN CIVIL WAR

The Union blockade took place between 1861 and 1865, during the American Civil War, when the Union Navy maintained a strenuous effort on the Atlantic and Gulf Coast of the Confederate States of America designed to prevent the passage of trade goods, supplies, and arms to and from the Confederacy.

Ships that tried to evade the blockade, known as blockade runners, were mostly newly built, high-speed ships with small cargo capacity. They were operated by the British (using Royal Navy officer on leave) and ran between Confederate-controlled ports and the neutral ports of Havana, Cuba; Nassau, Bahamas, and Bermuda, where British suppliers had set up supply bases.

President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the blockade on April 19, 1861. His strategy, part of the Anaconda Plan of General Winfield Scott, required the closure of 3,500 miles (5,600 km) of Confederate coastline and twelve major ports, including New Orleans, Louisiana, and Mobile, Alabama, the top two cotton-exporting ports prior to the outbreak of the war, as well as the Atlantic ports of Richmond, Virginia, Charleston, South Carolina, Savannah, Georgia, and Wilmington, North Carolina.

To this end, the Union commissioned 500 ships, which destroyed or captured about 1,500 blockade runners over the course of the war; nonetheless, five out of six ships evading the blockade were successful.

However the blockade runners carried only a small fraction of the usual cargo. Thus, Confederate cotton exports were reduced 95% from 10 million bales in the three years prior to the war to just 500,000 bales during the blockade period.

Source: Wikipedia

message 2: by 'Aussie Rick' (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) Here are two books that cover the Union/Federal blockade during the Civil War:

Success Is All That Was Expected The South Atlantic Blockading Squadron During the Civil War by Robert M. Browning by Robert M. Browning
" 'Success Is All That Was Expected' is a comprehensive operational history of the Union naval blockade that monitored the southern Atlantic coast from South Carolina to Florida during the American Civil War. Created in 1861 by the order of President Abraham Lincoln and charged with halting Confederate maritime commerce and closing Southern ports, the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron was the largest of the four Union coastal blockading squadrons for much of the conflict. This story covers the harrowing engagements between ships and forts, daring amphibious assaults, the battles between ironclad vessels, the harassment of Confederate blockade runners, and the incredible evolution of underwater warfare in the form of the CSS Hunley.

"Browning's scholarship is ... impressive. His narrative ... offers rich detail and crisp analysis." - AMERICA'S CIVIL WAR
"Thoroughly researched and engagingly written." - NORTH & SOUTH
"An outstanding book." - THE CIVIL WAR COURIER
"A Civil War naval history tour de force . . . An excellent book, well-written and well-researched." - THE CIVIL WAR NEWS

From Cape Charles to Cape Fear The North Atlantic Blockading Squadron during the Civil War (Fire Ant) by Robert M. Browning Jr. by Robert M. Browning Jr.
"This work examines naval logistics, tactics, and strategy employed by the Union blockade off the Atlantic coast of the Confederacy. It gives the facts of creating a squadron, of conducting operations on small, inland waterways, and of blockading the coast and controlling internal trade."

"[This book:] gives us the facts of creating a squadron; of conducting operations on small, inland waterways; of blockading the coast and controlling internal trade; of cooperating with the army in joint expeditions; and of supplying both army and navy in its area." - Journal of Southern History

message 3: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44327 comments Mod
These look pretty good Rick. Thank you.

message 4: by Bryan (new)

Bryan Craig War on the Waters: The Union and Confederate Navies, 1861-1865

War on the Waters The Union and Confederate Navies, 1861-1865 by James M. McPherson by James M. McPherson James M. McPherson


Although previously undervalued for their strategic impact because the 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.

message 5: by Jerome, Assisting Moderator - Upcoming Books and Releases (new)

Jerome Otte | 4497 comments Mod
Waters of Discord: The Union Blockade of Texas During the Civil War

Waters of Discord The Union Blockade of Texas During the Civil War by Rodman L. Underwood by Rodman L. Underwood (no photo)


At the beginning of the American Civil War the Federal government imposed a blockade of the southern coast of the Confederate States of America, including the dark corner of the Confederacy-Texas. Much of the fighting in Texas during the Civil War took place in the state's coastal counties and the adjoining Gulf of Mexico waters, and nearly all of these engagements were involved in one way or another with the Union blockade of the Texas coast. This book examines all major blockade-related land and sea engagements in and near Texas, and also includes many minor ones. It begins with a discussion of the blockade's creation and then concentrates on the successful Confederate efforts to evade the blockade by shipping cotton out of Mexico and, in return, receiving materiel and civilian goods through that neutral nation. The author also covers political intrigue and the spy activity with the French who had invaded Mexico. The book concludes with an analysis of the effectiveness of the Union blockade of Texas.

message 6: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44327 comments Mod
Thank you all

message 7: by Jerome, Assisting Moderator - Upcoming Books and Releases (new)

Jerome Otte | 4497 comments Mod
Florida Civil War Blockades: Battling for the Coast

Florida Civil War Blockades Battling for the Coast by Nick Wynne by Nick Wynne (no photo)


Florida was the third Southern state to secede from the United States in 1860-61. With its small population of 140,000 and no manufacturing, few Confederate resources were allocated to protect the state. Some 15,000 Floridians served in the Union and Confederate armies (the highest population percentage of any southern state), but perhaps Florida's greatest contributions came from its production of salt (an essential need for preserving meat and manufacturing gunpowder), its large herds of cattle (which fed two southern armies), and its 1500 mile shoreline (which allowed smugglers to bring critical supplies from Europe and the Carribean). Florida in the Civil War: Blockaders will focus on the men and ships that fought this prolonged battle at sea, along the long and largely vacant coasts of the Sunshine State and on Florida soil. The information will be drawn from official sources, newspaper articles and private accounts. Approximately fifty (50) period photographs and drawings will be incorporated into the text.

message 8: by Jerome, Assisting Moderator - Upcoming Books and Releases (new)

Jerome Otte | 4497 comments Mod
Blockaders, Refugees, and Contrabands: Civil War on Florida's Gulf Coast, 1861-1865

Blockaders, Refugees, and Contrabands Civil War on Florida's Gulf Coast, 1861-1865 by George E. Buker by George E. Buker (no photo)


Buker argues that the presence of Union sailors and their extensive contacts ashore did serious damage to home-front morale and retarded Florida's value as a component of the rebel war machine. Since the state's long coastlines made it a ready target for a naval cordon, its commercial life suffered beginning in 1861 and deteriorated even further as the war progressed despite the efforts of blockade runners. Florida Unionists, antiwar natives, and runaway slaves flocked to these Federal warships to seek protection and quickly became a source of manpower for their crews as well as for land forces.

message 9: by Jerome, Assisting Moderator - Upcoming Books and Releases (new)

Jerome Otte | 4497 comments Mod
Lifeline of the Confederacy: Blockade Running During the Civil War

Lifeline of the Confederacy Blockade Running During the Civil War by Stephen R. Wise by Stephen R. Wise (no photo)


Throughout the Civil War, the Confederacy was able to sustain its military forces due to a lifeline of steam propelled blockade runners. And now, for the first time, a comprehensive study that describes the tremendous maritime trade that flowed into Southern harbors from Texas to Virginia is available with the publication of Lifeline of the Confederacy: Blockade Running During the Civil War. Highlighted with numerous maps, illustrations, and a listing of more than 300 blockade runners, this book analyzes the impact of blockade running on the Southern war effort. The work tells the vivid story of the revolutionary vessels and the unknown individuals who made up the supply system that came to be called the "Lifeline of the Confederacy."

message 10: by Jerome, Assisting Moderator - Upcoming Books and Releases (new)

Jerome Otte | 4497 comments Mod
Schooner Sail to Starboard: The US Navy vs. Blockade Runners in the Western Gulf of Mexico

Schooner Sail to Starboard The US Navy vs. Blockade Runners in the Western Gulf of Mexico by W. T. Block by W. T. Block (no photo)


The ships carried cotton to Havana and manufactured goods to the Confederacy. The problem was the Union heavily blockaded the area, and even the fast steamship Denhigh, now part of an underwater archeological site, was in peril of losses in trade the south could ill afford. Independent scholar Block turns from the Atlantic seaboard, where most accounts of the Union Navy's blockade are set, to the area west of the Mississippi River on the Gulf of Mexico. The result is a close description the blockade and blockade-running from Galveston to western Louisiana, the coast of Texas, and ports in Alabama and Florida. He pays close attention to the accounts of officers and sailors on both sides and provides excellent maps, illustrations and photographs.

message 11: by Jerome, Assisting Moderator - Upcoming Books and Releases (last edited Mar 21, 2015 12:35PM) (new)

Jerome Otte | 4497 comments Mod
An upcoming book:
Release date: April 30, 2015

Lincoln's Trident: The West Gulf Blockading Squadron during the Civil War

Lincoln's Trident The West Gulf Blockading Squadron during the Civil War by Robert M Browning Jr by Robert M Browning Jr (no photo)


In Lincoln’s Trident, Coast Guard historian Robert M. Browning Jr. continues his magisterial series about the Union’s naval blockade of the Confederacy during the American Civil War. Established by the Navy Department in 1862, the West Gulf Blockading Squadron operated from St. Andrews Bay (Panama City), Florida to the Rio Grande River. As with the Navy’s blockade squadrons operating in the Atlantic, the mission of the West Gulf Blockading Squadron was to cripple the South’s economy by halting imports and disrupting cotton exports, the South’s main source of hard currency. The blockade also limited transportation within the South and participated in combined operations with Union land forces.

The history of the squadron comprises myriad parts and players, deployed in a variety of missions across the thousand-mile-wide Western Theater. From disorganized beginnings, the squadron’s leaders and sailors had to overcome setbacks, unfulfilled expectations, and lost opportunities. Browning masterfully captures the many variables that influenced the strategic choices of Navy commanders as they both doggedly pursued unchanging long-term goals as well as improvised and reacted to short-term opportunities.

Notable among its leaders was David Glasgow Farragut, believed by many to be America’s greatest naval hero, who led the squadron through most of the war and the climactic Battle of Mobile Bay. Under his legendary leadership, the squadron not only sealed Confederate sea ports, but also made feints and thrusts up the Mississippi River as far north as Vicksburg, Mississippi.

Knowing the Navy’s role in isolating the Confederate economy and preventing the movement of troops and supplies within the South is crucial to understanding of the outcomes of the Civil War, as well as the importance of naval power in military conflicts. With thirty-five maps and illustrations, Lincoln’s Trident expounds upon an essential part of the Civil War as well as naval and American history.

message 12: by Jill (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) The story of the brave men who ran the blockades to keep the South from being starved into submission.

Masters of the Shoals: Tales of the Cape Fear Pilots Who Ran the Union Blockade

Masters of the Shoals Tales of the Cape Fear Pilots Who Ran the Union Blockade by Jim McNeil by Jim McNeil (no photo)


Following the Union's blockade of the South's waterways, the survival of the Confederacy depended on a handful of heroes-daring harbor pilots and ship captains-who would risk their lives and cargo to outrun Union ships and guns. Their tales of high adventure and derring-do became legendary. Masters of the Shoals brings to life these brave pilots of Cape Fear who saved the South from gradual starvation.

message 13: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44327 comments Mod
Thank you Jill for your work on the American Civil War.

message 14: by Jill (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) Unremitting Vigilance: Naval Intelligence and the Union Blockade During the Civil War

Unremitting Vigilance Naval Intelligence and the Union Blockade During the American Civil War by John M Dullum by John M Dullum (no photo)


This thesis investigates the role naval intelligence played in the Union blockade of the Confederacy during the American Civil War and examines intelligence support to blockade operations on the Atlantic coast between 1861- 1865. Discussion begins with an overview of intelligence in the age of sail and the Navy department's intelligence system at the beginning of the war. Included is a detailed look at intelligence as information, a process and a system including an examination of period sources and communication methods. It then proceeds to examine the role of intelligence on the blockade, discussing its impact on operations and effectiveness in stopping the fast, steam, and sail-driven Confederate blockade runners. Intelligence played a crucial role in the effectiveness of the blockade despite the fact that the Union was never able to completely interdict all maritime traffic from entering or leaving Southern ports. There were significant problems with intelligence on the blockade, especially in the realm of tactical intelligence and dissemination. This study investigates these problems as well as intelligence successes at a time when naval warfare was undergoing a dramatic transformation.

message 15: by Jill (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) The surprising role that Scottish ship builders had in the American Civil War.

Clyde Built: Blockade Runners, Cruisers and Armoured Rams of the American Civil War

Clyde Built Blockade Runners, Cruisers and Armoured Rams of the American Civil War by Eric Graham by Eric Graham (no photo)


The Civil War of 1861-65 was one of the defining moments in the history of America. The Blockade of the US Southern ports during the war is well known. Less well known, however, is the role that Scotland played in this aspect of the conflict - almost 40 per cent of the ships were Scottish. This should not be surprising, however: at the time the fastest ships in the world were Clydebuilt, so it was natural that the Confederacy should turn to Scotland in their desperate bid to beat the tightening Northern Blockade. The ideological conflict unfolding between American anti-slavery supporters and anti-abolitionists also spread to the other side of the Atlantic and forced the Scots to examine their own values, polarising opinions and forcing the individual to reassess their position concerning basic human rights. Using contemporary accounts and individual case studies, combined, Clydebuilt presents a full and fascinating account of Scotland's involvement in the American Civil War Blockade, an involvement which almost certainly prolonged the conflict by several years.

message 16: by Teri (new)

Teri (teriboop) Attack of the CSS Hunley: Could submarine attacks have ended the Union blockade of Charleston, SC?

Attack of the CSS Hunley Could submarine attacks have ended the Union blockade of Charleston, SC? by Craig Campbell by Craig Campbell (no photo)


This short book on US Civil War naval history asks the question could submarine attacks have ended the Union blockade of Charleston, SC? The author researches the actual submarine recovered from the Charleston, SC harbor sand off Sullivan's Island.

message 17: by Betsy (new)

Betsy I read this book which, while interesting, would seem to have been an idea that was "too little, too late." The crew was brave, but they needed more than courage to win through when their craft was unreliable to say the least.

message 18: by Teri (new)

Teri (teriboop) Betsy wrote: "I read this book which, while interesting, would seem to have been an idea that was "too little, too late." The crew was brave, but they needed more than courage to win through when their craft was..."

Thank you for that review. As moderators, we try and post books (mainly new and upcoming) on these various topics. We hope our members, like you, will give us some reviews to help others determine whether they are reliable or noteworthy.

message 19: by Jill (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) An account of the blockade runners from the Time-Life series.

The Blockade: Runners and Raiders

The Blockade Runners and Raiders by Time-Life Books by Time-Life Books (no photo)


A gripping, comprehensive account of the Civil War, including eyewitness testimony, profiles of key personalities, period photographs, illustrations and artifacts, and detailed battle maps. Fully researched, superbly written.

message 20: by Jill (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) The GR blurb is pretty florid on this book which always gives me pause but not having read it, I cannot judge if it is revisionist. It might be worth a look.

Ironclad Waters: The Union Navy Failure at Charleston Harbor

Ironclad Waters The Union Navy Failure at Charleston Harbor by Paul Francis Brown by Paul Francis Brown (no photo)


On April 7th 1863. The Union Navy steamed toward Charleston Harbor with nine ironclad ships intending to intimidate the city and its citizens into surrender. Instead, the Confederate Batteries on Fort Sumter and other points along the shore dealt the Union an embarrassing rebuke. Loss of life was limited to one sailor but loss of face for the North was beyond measure. Who was to blame for such an embarrassing turn? Was it Gustavus Fox? The ambitious but unremarkable Assistant Secretary of the Navy, who selected Charleston to appease his desire for revenge, or was it Admiral Samuel Francis DuPont? The aristocratic naval hero of the North's first stunning naval victory at Port Royal.

From the opening shot of the Civil War at Fort Sumter to the confrontation at Hampton Roads between the ironclads Monitor and Merrimac, both historic events in Civil War history that Gustavus Fox personally witnessed. To DuPont's heroic capture of Port Royal. This book chronicles the events and the personalities that led to the Union Navy fiasco at Charleston Harbor. A fiasco driven by the pride and ego of powerful men who blindly planned an attack on Charleston Harbor for the wrong reasons. An ambitious, overreaching plan, born of flawed men and their motives and destined to fail from untested and untried technology. History has long told the story of what happened to the Union Navy at Charleston Harbor that day in April 1863. This book goes a step further and explains why the fiasco at Charleston Harbor happened. This book takes a fresh look at a long ago battle at Charleston Harbor, a mission that was attempted to end the war with a Union victory but instead exemplified Confederate resolve.

message 21: by Jill (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) Unfortunately there is no GR description of this book but it may be quite interesting.

Mobile Under Siege: Surviving the Union Blockade

Mobile Under Siege Surviving the Union Blockade by Paula Lenor Webb by Paula Lenor Webb (no photo)

message 22: by Jill (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) Confederate Blockade Runner: The Personal Recollections of an Officer of the Confederate Navy

Confederate Blockade Runner The Personal Recollections of an Officer of the Confederate Navy by John Wilkinson by John Wilkinson (no photo)


Adventures evading Lincoln's strangle hold on the Southern states During the American Civil Wart the Union blockade operated to ensure that few trade goods or war materials entered the Confederacy by way of its Atlantic or Gulf Coast ports. The 'runners' themselves were mostly newly built, high speed vessels, with a small cargo capacity, which raced between the Confederacy and neutral ports in the West Indies and Cuba. One thousand five hundred blockade-runners were destroyed, but still 5 out of 6 runners made it through the Union fleet to safety and the delivery of their essential cargoes. This book was written by a serving officer of the Confederate States Navy. He experienced naval battle, the loss of his ship, capture, release and many hairsbreadth escapes as he continued his precarious and perilous vocation until the end of the Civil War.

message 23: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44327 comments Mod
Strangling the Confederacy: Coastal Operations in the American Civil War

Strangling the Confederacy Coastal Operations in the American Civil War by Kevin Dougherty by Kevin Dougherty (no photo)


A selection of the Military Book Club

While the Civil War is mainly remembered for its epic battles between the Northern and Southern armies, the Union was simultaneously waging another campaign—dubbed “Anaconda”—that was gradually depriving the South of industry and commerce, thus rendering the exploits of its field armies moot.

When an independent Dixie finally met the dustbin of history, it was the North’s coastal campaign, as much as the achievements of its main forces, that was primarily responsible.

Strangling the Confederacy examines the various naval actions and land incursions the Union waged from Virginia down the Atlantic Coast and through the Gulf of Mexico to methodically close down every Confederate port that could bring in weapons or supplies.

The Rebels responded with fast ships—blockade runners—that tried to evade the Yankee fleets, while at the same time constructing formidable fortifications that could protect the ports themselves. While Union troopships floated offshore, able to strike anywhere, mobile Confederate forces were kept at hand near crucial points, albeit in smaller numbers, to resist Federal irruptions into their homeland.

In the final analysis, the Union’s Navy Board, a unique institution at the time, undertook the correct strategy. Its original decision to focus on ten seaports that had rail or water connections with the Confederate interior—from Norfolk to Charleston to Mobile to New Orleans—shows that the Navy Board understood the concept of decisive points. In a number of battles the Federals were able to leverage their superior technology, including steam power and rifled artillery, in a way that made the Confederate coastal defenses highly vulnerable, if not obsolete.

On the other hand, when the Federals encountered Confederate resistance at close-quarters they often experienced difficulties, as in the failures at Fort Fisher, the debacle at Battery Wagner, the Battle of Olustee, and in other clashes.

What makes this book particularly unique is its use of modern military doctrine to assess and analyze the campaigns. Kevin Dougherty, an accomplished historian and former career Army officer, concludes that, without knowing it, the Navy Board did an excellent job at following modern strategic doctrine. While the multitude of small battles that flared along the Rebel coast throughout the Civil War have heretofore not been as well known as the more titanic inland battles, in a cumulative sense, Anaconda—the most prolonged of the Union campaigns—spelled doom for the Confederacy.

About the Author:

Kevin Dougherty is a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel. Formerly a faculty member in the History Department at the University of Southern Mississippi, he is currently a Tactical Officer at Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina.

Editorial Reviews:

“…discusses in detail the impact of combined arms, modern weapons(especially long range rifled artillery), and ironclads on strategy and tactics….useful entry into a complex subject. “ (CHOICE)

“…an excellent short history of the blockade, its campaigns and expeditions, and its successes and failures. It is also an excellent exposition of how the elements of operational design for conducting warfare and their applications have not changed over time. The trick is how to apply them. Dougherty has produced an interesting volume for someone who wants to learn about the Union blockade and for students of the Civil War’s grand strategy and operations. It is highly recommended for both. “ (Civil War News)

“…a dry, witty and ultimately educational account of Union coastal operations against the Confederate Army…” (Defence Web)

“…a very well written overview of the major coastal campaigns conducted during the war. The author has excellent knowledge of the subject coupled with an in depth knowledge of the subject military history and procedures. In addition, he can communicate this is an understandable and readable manner.” (James Durney)

”Even the oldest Civil War buffs will learn a few bits of new information….” (LONE STAR)

“It came to be known as the “Anaconda Plan”. It was a simple concept: block all the major southern ports and render their armies useless….In the end the strategy worked. Like the anaconda itself, the Union Navy squeezed the lifeblood out of the South.” (Military Heritage)

“For some time there has been a need for a comprehensive analysis of the joint Army-Navy operations conducted by Union forces off the Confederate Atlantic and Gulf coasts. . . . In this volume Kevin Dougherty, a former Army officer . . . examines the role of joint operations through the prism of modern joint-forces doctrine. . . . Evident rivalry and dysfunction between the Union Army and Navy notwithstanding, Dougherty argues that the coastal campaigns constituted ‘a major step in the evolution of joint warfare and planning in U.S. military history’.” (U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings)

“…recommended to all American Civil War students, as it covers an area of the naval war usually buried in complete histories of naval operations and seldom addressed in a stand alone volume on the subject….I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the history of the Civil War blockade.” (Mataka.Org)

“…an excellent short history of the main Federal operations that helped blockade the Confederate coast… very well structured… well written with a real feel for the period” (

“a nicely written and tightly worded book summarizing the Union Naval/Military operations against military targets along the Confederate coast…” (Journal of America’s Military Past)

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