Monday, March 18, 2013

New and Noteworthy---McPherson's Clear, Concise, Comprehensive War on The Waters

War on the Waters: The Union and Confederate Navies, 1861-1865, James M. McPherson, University of North Carolina Press,  23 illustrations, 19 maps, notes, bibliography, index $35.00.

War on the Waters: The Union and Confederate Navies, 1861-1865 is a clear and concise description and analysis of the Civil War's naval mobilizations, battles and diplomatic impacts.  Within 250 pages, McPherson offers a primary source centered narrative that is enjoyable to read. Offering a chronological story, he places the navies' developments, successes and shortcomings within the context of the land campaigns and political conflicts. Within eleven chapters, McPherson describes the brown water and blue water fleets and the significant engagements of both navies.

Much of McPherson's story may be new to Civil War enthusiast who regularly reads army and land battle narratives.  Admiral Farragut's cannon, recently employed in the Mississippi Delta in late April 1862 challenged Vicksburg on July 1 of the same year; Farragut asks for Vicksburg's surrender and is refused. 

International law and diplomacy are set within the context of Europe's approach and avoidance policies toward the Confederacy. The earth's oceans the scene of commerce raiding, near piracy, and chases. The destruction of a segment are of the North's merchant marine by Confederate commerce raiders cause repercussions that lasted beyond the end of the war and settled by international courts.

McPherson offers thorough evidence that the U.S. Navy was a major factor in the success of the Union's war effort and that the C.S. navy was, without a doubt, innovative and a considerable impact on the length of the war. With a meager 5% claim on the Union's military budget and assets, the U.S. Navy produced results disproportionate the expenditure. With even less funds available the C.S. challenged  in a dramatic fashion the North's blockade and commerce.  His narrative frequently is moved forward by the personalities of the inventors, sailors, and politicians.

War on the Waters: The Union and Confederate Navies is a pleasure to read and accessible to general readers including high school student working in advance placement courses. The 19 maps are uncluttered and offer details relevant to the narrative.

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