As we are at or near the end of the Civil War Navy Sesquicentennial, I would be interested in reading any retrospective posts from current or former contributors to this blog, as well as the many folks who have followed us. Any thoughts after the last five years? I'm sure there are a few out there. I'd also be interested in the thoughts of any naval history scholars.
One of the things that strikes me, and that I frequently mention to folks in my presentations, is that the U.S. Navy was the second most powerful Navy in the world at the end of the CW, but how quickly it deteriorated, or was allowed to deteriorate, after the war. Some shrinkage might be understandable, given the post-war fatigue, need to divert funds to rebuilding, etc., but the lack of technological progress or advancement was mystifying to me, especially based on the lessons learned during the war.
Based on what I have read by other scholars, some of this was a result of the continuing refusal by naval leadership to adapt the emerging naval technologies. While the USN has always been a service steeped in tradition, sometimes dedication to tradition can be debilitating. While the European, and even some of the South American navies began to transition to sea-going, armored warships, the USN continued to use Civil War-era ships and technology well into the 1880's it seems. And only the prospect of war with the Spanish Navy (and potential conflicts with the Germans, as well?) finally galvanized the USN into building up-to-date armored cruisers and battleships. Maybe a new generation of leadership helped as well.
I'm sure there has been much analysis of this elsewhere, and I would most appreciate giving me a "heads up" on interesting articles or books on the post-CW USN and the forces behind what happened.
What posts on this site stood out for you in the last five years? It is hard for me to pick any particular favorites. The material on the War on the Western Rivers was always interesting for me, as I have always tended to focus more on the naval CW along the coasts. Dr. John Grady's posts were always thought-provoking to me, and Sara Adler was our "Monty Python" (. . . and now for something completely different). Comments are welcome.