Book Review: Strangling the Confederacy: Coastal Operations in the American Civil War


by Kevin Dougherty

Philadelphia: Casemate, 2010. Pp. iv, 232. Illus., maps, appends., notes, biblio., index. $32.95. ISBN: 1935149245

In Strangling the Confederacy, Prof. Dougherty (Southern Mississippi), takes a look at Union amphibious operations, which were not, as one author once wrote, a strategy “hit upon” more or less by luck.

Dougherty not only examines how amphibious operations influenced the course of the Civil War, but also how they pointed toward the development of both joint operations and an American operational art.  The book opens with a discussion of early American blockade operations, notably during the Barbary Wars the Mexican War, and the formation of the “Navy Board” which shaped maritime strategy during the Civil War.  Dougherty covers more than a dozen expeditions, most of which were successful, from Hatteras Inlet to Mobile Bay, while some were failures, such as the Peninsular Campaign, Galveston, and Charleston, and one that was both, Fort Fisher.  Each operation is examined in terms its strategic rationale, the setting, forces and commanders involved, planning, and execution.  The work ends with a thoughtful look at Union’s coastal operations using modern operational analysis. 

Recommended for those interested in naval operations as well as of the Civil War.


Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor   

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