Saturday, January 30, 2010

Poll Three Results

Readers of the Civil War 150 blog were asked: "What was the most important naval battle during the Civil War. Part 3 of the poll was quite the heated race between the Union Blockade and the Fort Pillow offensive of 1862. Results are as follows:

Union Blockade - 6 votes
Sabin Pass - 1 vote
Fort Pillow - 5 votes
Cockpit Point - 0 votes
Sewell's Point - 1 vote

A majority of readers of the blog agree: the Union Blockade was a important yet difficult undertaking. The blockade, in large part built on the design of General Scott's "Anaconda Plan," stretched from the Atlantic to the Gulf Coast. Some of the war's greatest naval leaders stood in command of the blockading squadron, including Flag Officer Louis Goldsborough(North Atlantic Blockading Squadron), Rear Admiral David Dixon Porter (North Atlantic Blockading Squadron), Admiral David G. Farragut (West Gulf Blockading Squadron), and Rear Admiral Samuel Francis du Pont (South Atlantic Blockading Squadron).

The final poll will include the following battles and engagements:

Fort Hindman
CSS Alabama vs. USS Kearsarge (off Cherbourg, France)
HL Hunley sinks the USS Housatonic
Vicksburg Campaign
Aquia Creek

Please vote!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Why is the Civil War Navy Overlooked?

As we approach the commemorate years of the American Civil War, one must consider all theaters and aspects of the conflict. From the firing of Fort Sumter to the surrender at Appomattox, the Civil War proved to be a conflict spanning the continental United States and beyond. Why then is the Civil War Navy largely overlooked? The opening to Jay W. Simson’s 2001 book, Naval Strategies of the Civil War, opens with this statement:

“One of the most little known aspects of the American Civil War has been the naval strategies followed by the Union navy and the infant Confederate navy.”

He goes on further to declare naval actions “an untold story lost in the general histories of the war.” Although James McPherson devotes some of his seminal Battle Cry of Freedom to the Union and Confederate navies, general histories focus primarily on Generals and soldiers, not Captains, Commodores, and sailors.

A simple Google search with competing terms might shed some light on this. When one searches “American Civil War Navy,” there are roughly 288,000 website hits. When “American Civil War Army” is typed into the search bar, there are over 20,000,000 website hits. Does this take away from the four years of conflict waged by sailors on rivers, blockading the ocean, or fighting in foreign waters?

America exists largely as a hero culture. As young children, we revere our earliest Americans heroes like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Abraham Lincoln. Our earliest military heroes include (again) George Washington, Andrew Jackson, Robert E. Lee, Ulysses S. Grant, etc.

…and the naval heroes?

Regardless of the Civil War itself, there are only a few names thrown around in popular culture or general history: John Paul Jones, Stephen Decatur, and Matthew Perry. Is the courage displayed by Admiral David G. Farragut at Mobile Bay during the Civil War no less heroic than Thomas Jackson’s participation at Manassas which earned him his famous nickname? What about the USS Kearsarge and its engagement with the CSS Alabama off Cherbourg, France? What of the common sailor operating on the countless campaigns throughout the war? In Virginia, one would be hard pressed to find any elementary school student who knows the names John Worden or Franklin Buchanan when discussing the legendary Battle of Hampton Roads, let alone the men who bravely fought to the end on the USS Cumberland. And why? Has the American Civil War in public memory come down with a bad case of tunnel vision? There is no sense to point fingers, but to acknowledge the simple fact that the navies in the Civil War are more often than not overlooked.

It is the hope of the Civil War Navy Sesquicentennial to shed light and commemorate the efforts of the navies in the years to come.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Poll Two Completed

Readers of the Civil War 150 blog were asked: "What was the most important naval battle during the Civil War. Part 2 of the poll included battles focusing primarily on the riverine offensives: Plum Point Bend, Port Royal, Drewry's Bluff, Island No. 10, and Memphis. A total of eight votes were tallied, which ended in a tie between Island No. 10 (28 Feb - 8 April 1862) and Memphis (6 June 1862), each with three votes. These two battles will be included in the final voting poll along with the Battle of Hampton Roads. Here is the full list of the recent poll:

Plum Point Bend - 0 votes
Port Royal - 1 vote
Drewry's Bluff - 1 vote
Island No. 10 - 3 votes
Memphis - 3 votes

Please make sure to vote for the next poll, which will include these naval conflicts:

Union Blockade
Sabine Pass
Fort Pillow
Cockpit Point
Sewell's Point

The new poll will appear later today. Please vote, and encourage others to join in on the discussion!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010 Interview with Craig Symonds

Very interesting interview between celebrated historians Craig Symonds and James McPherson on Amazon. Dr. Symonds will be presenting a luncheon lecture on his work, Lincoln and His Admirals, in October at the Vista Point Club in Norfolk (Naval Station Norfolk). For more information on the Craig Symonds lecture, please go to or call (757)322-3108 for more details.

Calendar of Events Added

A Calendar of Events for Civil War 150 is now available on the blog for your viewing pleasure. As events increase, they will be included in both the blog posting and the calendar of events. Stay posted!

Friday, January 15, 2010

First Poll Results

Readers of the Civil War 150 blog were asked: "What was the most important naval battle during the Civil War." This is part 1 of a series of polls to find out what battle our readers think stands out above the rest in terms of significance to the Civil War. After the first poll was taken, the Battle of Hampton Roads was chosen with the most votes (3).

A new poll is currently posted for readers. Please vote!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

2010 US Naval Landing Party Living History Appearances (EVENTS UPDATED)

Below are the 2010 living history events where the US Naval Landing Party will be appearing. The US Naval Landing Party (USNLP), a member unit of the Navy & Marine Living History Association (NMLHA) has an ambitious schedule of events as posted on their website. Further information and resources on the US Naval Landing Party can be found at

Please not events may be subject to change. Check back for event updates.

2010 USNLP Events

Shiloh National Military Park 147th Anniversary

Date: Saturday, April 10th - Sunday, April 11th
Location: Shiloh National Military Park
Institution/Affiliation: National Parks Services
Point of Contact: (731) 689-5696
Description: (April 10th)9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m; (April 11th) 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Navies of the American Civil War (Visitor Center Area)
Chuck Veit and members of the U.S. Naval Landing Party and Navy and Marine Living History Association will discuss the roles played by the navies in the Civil War. He will also describe daily life at sea, ships, weapons, submarines, and the part the Union navy played in the Battle of Shiloh.

Living History Day at Siena College

Date: Saturday, April 17th
Location: Loudonville, NY
Institution/Affiliation: Siena College Department of History/College History Club
Point of Contact: (518) 783-2353
Description: The Siena College History Club, in coordination with the History Department will host a day of Living History. The USNLP will be in attendance for the event.

16th Annual "Forrest's First" Battle of Sacramento Reenactment

Date: Friday, May 21st - Sunday, May 23rd
Location: McClean County, KY
Institution/Affiliation: WMTH Corporation
Point of Contact: (270) 781-6858
Description: Experience the Reenactment of the Battle of Sacramento. This Civil War Battle was fought on December 28, 1861. The battlefield is the undisputed location of Nathan Bedford Forrest's first fight! USNLP will be in attendance.

Ashokan Center "Civil War Days"

Date: (TENTATIVE) Saturday, May 22nd - Sunday, May 23rd
Location: Olivebridge, NY
Institution/Affiliation: Ashokan Center, Inc.
Point of Contact: (845) 657-8333
Description: The 2010 Ashokan Civil War Days event will commemorate the Surrender at Appomattox Courthouse on April 9, 1865. The event will include a Civil War encampment, reenactors (including USNLP), Exhibits, musical performances, and much more.

Battle of Fort Knox Reenactment

Date: Friday, July 23rd - Sunday, July 25th
Location: Prospect, Maine
Institution/Affiliation: 20th Maine Co. B (Maine Militia) and 15th Alabama Co. G
Point of Contact:;
Description: The Battle at Fort Knox is building to include a naval battle in the river as well as Union and Confederate infantry and artillery on shore and plenty of civilian activity as well. In conjunction with the Bucksport Festival across the river, The Battle of Fort Knox is attempting to do something unique.

Civil War Music Festival & Encampment

Date: Friday, August 6th - Sunday, August 8th
Location: Windham, NY
Institution/Affiliation: 77th New York Regimental Balladeers
Point of Contact:
Description: Guided by the spirit of Foster, Kittredge, Emmett, other leading music composers, publishers and the singing soldiers of the day, the Civil War Music Heritage Gathering aims to educate, explore, preserve, promote and share with the public the popular songs/tunes of the mid-nineteenth century.

Heritage Weekend at the Smith-Harris House

Date: Saturday, October 2nd - Sunday, October 3rd
Location: Smith-Harris House, East Lyme, CT
Institution/Affiliation: Smith-Harris House (Smith-Harris House Commission), National Register of Historic Places
Point of Contact: (860) 739-0761
Description: The US Naval Landing Party will participate in the 2010Heritage Weekend at the Smith-Harris House

Living History Day at Squantz Pond State Park

Date: Sunday, October 24th
Location: Squantz Pond State Park, Fairfield, CT
Institution/Affiliation: Squantz Pond State Park, Department of Environment Protection
Point of Contact: (203) 797-4165
Description: Come join living historians who will recreate American history. Includes aspects of American history, military displays, musket demonstrations, drill and school demos, etc. All programs are family friendly.

Victorian Stroll

Date: Sunday, December 5th
Location: Troy, NY
Institution/Affiliation: City of Troy, NY, Rensselaer County Chamber of Commerce
Point of Contact: (518) 274-7020
Description: 2010 will mark the 28th Annual Victorian Stroll in Troy, NY. US Naval Landing Party will have a living history display at the event.
Link:; A copy of the 2009 Program can be found at

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Poll Posted

Take the quiz on the lefthand side of the screen. What do you think is the most important naval engagement of the Civil War? Posted is the first of five seperate polls. The winner for each of the five "rounds" will then be included in a final poll to decide "What was the most important naval engagement during the Civil War." Stayed tuned and vote!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

2010 Events Posted

Listed below are the first set of events and activities related to the Civil War Navy for 2010:

Fort Fisher Civil War Reenactment

Date: Saturday, January 16th - Sunday, January 17th
Location: Ft. Fisher
P.O. Box 169
1610 Ft. Fisher Blvd South
Kure Beach, NC 28449
Institution/Affiliation: North Carolina Historic Sites, Carolina Department of Cultural Resources
Point of Contact:(910) 458-5538
Description: This will be the 145th anniversary reenactment of the amphibious assault on Fort Fisher, which fell from Confederate Control on January 15, 1865. Its defeat helped seal the fate of the Confederacy.

"Always Ready: The United States Marine Corps Involvement at Harpers Ferry," Gunnery Sargeant Thomas E. Williams

Date: Thursday, January 28, 2010
Location: Old Manassas Courthouse
9248 Lee Ave.
Manassas, VA
Institution/Affiliation: Prince William County/National Museum of the U.S. Marine Corps
Point of Contact:(703) 792-4754
Description: On October 16th, 1859, raiders struck the United States weapons arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Virginia. Led by abolitionist John Brown, the raiders intended to capture the weapons stored there and use the guns to incite a slave rebellion in the south. United States Marines from the Washington Barracks and nearby Naval Yard were called upon to put down this insurrection. Join us as Gunnery Sgt. Thomas E. Williams of the United States Marine Corp Historical Company takes us back to October 16, 1859 and gives an overview of the events of that day from the perspective of the Marines sent to put down Brown’s plan. Gunny Williams will also speak briefly about the coming exhibits at the National Museum of the U.S. Marine Corps here in Prince William County.

River Blast

Date: Every March
Location: National Civil War Naval Museum
1002 Victory Drive
Columbus, GA 31901
Institution/Affiliation: National Civil War Naval Museum
Point of Contact: (706) 327-9798
Description: Signature Event/Reenactment for the Port Columbus Civil War Naval Museum. Includes demonstrations, reenactments, and ironclad battles on the river.

Thunder on the Roanoke!!!

Date: April 24th - April 25th
Location: Plymouth, NC
Institution/Affiliation: Port O' Plymouth Museum, Washington County Chamber of Commerce
Point of Contact: (252) 793-4804
Description: Confederate and Union firepower will once again explode to life as history becomes reality with period re-enactors from around the country portraying soldiers and sailors from the famous battle 142 years ago.

Defending the New Republic, 1775-1865 Exhibit

Date: Beginning June 6, 2010
Location: National Museum of the U.S. Marine Corps, Triangle, VA
Institution/Affiliation: National Museum of the U.S. Marine Corps
Point of Contact: (703) 784-6422
Description: The National Museum of the Marine Corps, located in Triangle, VA, near Marine Corps Base Quantico, will open three new permanent historical galleries on 6 June 2010. These immersive galleries will be added to the inaugural line-up of American history galleries included in this Museum, which opened in late 2006. "Defending the New Republic, 1775-1865" will take visitors back in time to the founding of the Corps to the closing shots of the Civil War.

Drewry's Bluff Living History Weekend

Date: October 2nd - October 3rd
Location: Richmond
Institution/Affiliation: National Park Service
Point of Contact: 804-771-2145.
Description: "Park Rangers and living history volunteers
representing Confederate sailors will present a series of talks, tours,and demonstrations depicting garrison life inside the Drewry’s Bluff fortifications."