The naval actions of the Civil War have long received short shrift along side the land actions of the conflict, and are often reduced to the Monitor v. Merrimack, Farragut’s taking of Mobile Bay, the Trent Affair and other high-profile events. However, as every buff knows, there is much more than the actions familiar to even the most history-uneducated, and that is especially true when it comes to the Civil War on the water.
At our January program, First Defender Dale Kratzer ranged from the Japanese to the British Islands as he related the first naval engagement between the Empire of Japan and the United States in 1863, the last Confederate flag down in late 1865 when the C.S.S. Shenandoah surrendered in England and quite a bit of action in between.
John Taylor Wood and William Barker Cushing may have been the first “SEALS” of the Confederate and Union navies based on their daring and sneaky exploits targeting their opponents ocean and river-going resources. A Rebel John Yates Beall had expansive plans to open a second front on the Great Lakes that failed only because he didn’t have a competent force to put his plans into motion. Finally, Charles Read would daringly run the C.S.S. William H. Webb more than 300 miles down the Mississippi in the spring of 1865 through an unsuspecting U.S. Navy cast of more than 20 ships before he ran aground not far from the Gulf of Mexico.
Many times the little lesser-known stories of the Civil War are among the most interesting, and Dale’s presentation recounted many of these actions.