Book Review: Life In Jefferson Davis' Navy


by Barbara B. Tomblin

Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2019. Pp. x, 318+. Illus., maps, notes, biblio., index. $25.55. ISBN: 1682471187

The Confederate Navy as a Military Institution

There have been quite a number of books that offer good accounts of the role of the Confederate Navy in the Civil War. In this work, however, Dr. Tomblin, the author of Bluejackets and Contrabands and The Civil War on the Mississippi, among others, gives us something different, and arguably more valuable, an institutional history of the C.S.N.

Readers will find relatively little technical detail about Confederate warships, and only four of her eleven chapters deal in a general way with operations. What readers will find are a look at the founding and organization of the C.S.N., recruiting, training, and career paths of officers and enlisted personnel, life in the service, medical care, the C.S. Marine Corps, the procurement of vessels, weapons, and other equipment, the development of innovative technologies, and even the experiences of prisoners-of-war.

There’s a good deal of unusual material here. We get to see the surprising role of African Americans, both free and enslaved in the service, and her discussion of the hastily organized naval academy reveals it to have been rather less disciplined than the U.S.N.A. on which is it was supposedly modelled. There are also a goodly number of profiles of many people, though oddly she fails to note the family connections among some of them.

Life in Jefferson Davis’ Navy is an invaluable work for anyone interested in the naval side of the Civil War.




Note: Life in Jefferson Davis’ Navy is also available in e-editions. 

StrategyPage reviews are published in cooperation with The New York Military Affairs Symposium

Reviewer: A. A. Nofi   

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