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.
James M. McPherson taught US history at Princeton University for 42 years and is the author of more than a dozen books on the Civil War era. His books have won a Pulitzer Prize and two Lincoln Prizes.
excellent starting off point for those with an interest in Civil War naval ops. Well written and briskly narrated, I highly recommend this for the casual civil war buff.
This a great, somewhat concise study in the navy's influence on tw civil war, the maritime technology that came out of the conflict, and the responsiveness of each side to the complications of a country fighting itself: mainly becoming a naval war largely on the rivers instead of the seas. I intend on reading(listening) to another of McPherson's books.
Would you consider the audio edition of War on the Waters to be better than the print version?
I didnt read the print version
What did you like best about this story?
I enjoyed learning about how Lincoln and his admirals interacted. And how the evolution of the ships of war changed the landscape
Have you listened to any of Joe Barrett’s other performances before? How does this one compare?
This is my first
If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?
How technology & good Leadership won a war
Any additional comments?
I wouldnt get this book if the idea of a history book might seem boring to you. I knew nothing about the naval histories of the Civil War's belligerents outside of the Monitor and the Merrimac. So, most of the book was a learning experience for me. And, since history is one of my favorite subjects, it was an enjoyable experience.
An engaging and extremely interesting look at the American Civil War on the water I found this extremely illuminating as it was a subject I had heard very little about. Indeed before listening to this audiobook my, like I’m sure many peoples, knowledge of civil war naval warfare was the well documented fight between the Confederate and Yankee Ironclads in Hampton Roads.
This book was let down slightly by the focus being mostly aimed at the Yankee side of the story however as the author acknowledge this had occurred more due to the lack of documentation and evidence remaining from the confederate navy rather than any bias on the authors part. Despite this it was an entertaining and informative look at the naval war during the American Civil War and certainly raised my interest levels enough to seek additional information.