No body of water in the Confederacy was more vital to
the success or failure of the Southern cause during the American
Civil War than the Mississippi River and its tributaries. This
longest river in North America stretches close to 2,350 miles
from the Gulf of Mexico north to the northern end of Lake Itasca
in north-central Minnesota.
Prior to the war, the "Father of Waters" had
even been placed under maritime law, indicating the importance
of this "inland sea" to the commerce of the United States.
Great oceangoing ships, which could navigate the river for much
of its entire length, plied the muddy waters carrying goods and
products into the heartland of America.
To defend the river and its tributaries and to prevent
the Northern enemy from advancing from the Gulf of Mexico and
from Cairo, Illinois, would require a strong Confederate naval
force. There was just one problem with this analogy. The South
had no navy.
In spite of innumerable difficulties, however, once created,
the South's naval forces fought admirably during four years of
war. While the overall naval record was in fact remarkable, what
finally emerged in the Mississippi theater during the first half
of the war was a frenzied and not-too-successful effort on the
part of the South to build a fleet of ironclads and gunboats that
could effectively halt the Union advance. The second half of the
war would see a reasonably successful effort to prevent the enemy
from ascending the various tributaries that led into the Mississippi.
This history of Confederate naval forces on western waters
is a story of desperation, intrigue, inter-service bickering,
ineptitude, and humiliating defeats interspersed with moments
of courage, innovation, resourcefulness, and a few hard-earned
victories. From Island No. 10 to New Orleans, from Memphis to
Vicksburg, from the Red River to the Yazoo, Southern naval forces
fought a courageous and heartbreaking battle against an equally
courageous but overwhelming foe. This book is their story.
Naval Forces on Western Waters
The Defense of the Mississippi River & its Tributaries
R. Thomas Campbell,
McFarland & Company Oct., 2005.
List Price: $45.00
Discount Price: $37.50
Chapter 1. The Gathering Clouds
Chapter 2. Victory at the Head of the Passes
Chapter 3. Island Number 10
Chapter 4. Building the Ironclads
Chapter 5. Battle of New Orleans
Chapter 6. Plum Point, the Battle of Memphis &
Chapter 7. Building the CSS Arkansas
Chapter 8. Into the Volcano
Chapter 9. Berwick Bay & the J. A. Cotton
Chapter 10. Gunfire at Galveston
Chapter 11. Action on the Tributaries
Chapter 12 The Pursuit & Destruction of the USS
Chapter 13. The CSS Missouri and the Loss of
Chapter 14. The CSS Webb & the Final Surrender
Chapter 15. Some Final Thoughts