Saturday, March 10, 2012

Battle of Hampton Roads Day 1 - Seaman Rob's Report

Map of blockade runner routes into the Atlantic Coast. Source:

Craig Symonds’ plenary talk at the Civil War Navy Conference here at the Mariner’s Museum in Newport News, VA was free and open to the public this morning, so I had the opportunity to attend. Dr. Symonds talked about the Atlantic Blockade and gave a good, synoptic overview of this blockade effort and how it fit within the larger scope of the Navy’s efforts in the Civil War. There were a few nifty “tidbits” of information that I learned; for instance the North Carolina Sounds behind the barrier islands had long served as a haven for raiders, privateers and etc. The infamous pirate Blackbeard operated out of the area and was killed in Pamlico Sound by US Navy forces. He also reiterated what many historians have concluded about the blockade; although it was never “airtight”, it was a definite contributor to the eventual defeat of the Confederacy by the Union and shortened the War by doing just enough to prevent the export of trade and the import of needed materials. I had the chance to ask a question and asked about the relative importance of taking the Port of Fernandina, Florida. Dr. Symonds felt that it was important, but that it was a matter of resources; DuPont took Port Royal first, then was able to allocate ships and manpower to moving southward to take additional ports. Later on I met and talked with fellow CWN150 Guest Blogger Craig Swain, and he noted that it was largely a question of “real estate”; the three most important words being “location, location, location”, and that this was a factor in deciding between Port Royal and Fernandina. I spent much of the day hanging out with the Hampton Roads Naval Museum folks and their nifty display. All in all a cool first day at the Battle of Hampton Roads Event; looking forward to tomorrow !!!

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