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Gunsmoke Over the Atlantic: First Naval Actions of the Civil War by Jack Coombe
ISBN: 0553380737
ISBN13: 978-0553380736
Author: Jack Coombe
Book title: Gunsmoke Over the Atlantic: First Naval Actions of the Civil War
Other Formats: azw mobi lrf txt
Pages: 288 pages
Publisher: Bantam (April 1, 2003)
Language: English
Size PDF version: 1254 kb
Size ePub version: 1270 kb
Size fb2 version: 1836 kb
Category: Americas

On April 12, 1861, the Civil War began when shots were fired on an unfinished fort in Charleston Harbor. From that thunderous opening salvo, the naval battles to control the Atlantic coast that followed–daring, savage, and often deadly–were not only crucial in determining the outcome of the war and the fate of a nation, but would change the face of naval warfare forever. GUNSMOKE OVER THE ATLANTICHistorian Jack D Coombe, author of the critically acclaimed Thunder Along the Mississippi and Gunfire Around the Gulf, combines brilliant research with a novelist’s flair for re-creation to put us directly into the action of the Civil War on river, on shore, and at sea. In this vivid account, we experience the soul-gnawing terror of a bombardment, the claustrophobic confines of a still-unproven submarine, and the smoke-choked chaos of a harbor in the grips of a full-bore naval engagement between two desperate enemies. Coombe focuses on the Civil War as it was fought along the Atlantic coast, a fierce contest of blockaders and blockade-runners, ironclads, wood-hulled battleships, land cannon, submarines, and the first underwater antiship weapons.For the North, the challenge was to implement a blockade over 3,500 miles of Confederate coastline, from Virginia to Texas. To do so, they would have to modernize an ineffective and outdated U.S. Navy fallen into incompetence and disrepair. For the South, the challenge was to create a fledgling navy from whatever meager resources were at hand. The Confederacy patched together a navy of river runners and converted battleships, turned cornfields into shipyards, and put the first ironclad battleship into action. And it was the South that introduced the new concept of underwater weaponry, sending spar torpedoes, mines, submarines–and a few incredibly brave men willing to deploy them–into battle against the North.Gunsmoke over the Atlantic chronicles the key engagements, from the Monitorand the Virginia dueling at Hampton Roads to the ill-fated campaign against Fort Fisher. Along the way, we meet a remarkable cast of naval strategists and warriors on both sides of the battle, witness the crucial, often deadly role played by the weather and the sea itself, and get a vivid view of such important events as the first amphibious landing in history, at Cape Hatteras in 1861. An important work for students of the Civil War and of naval history, this book fills in missing pieces of America’s most tragic war and shows why, when the guns finally fell silent, a new era had begun. Four years after the fall of Fort Sumter, a once divided country had the beginnings of the most powerful navy in the world.From the Hardcover edition.

Books reviews
A decent account of the naval portion of the Civil War in the Atlantic, marred by sloppy editing, and inexcusable mistake. the author TWICE claims an event took place after Second Bull Run (Aug 1862) when he's still discussing 1861 events. Then he describes a 51" thick steel armor for an ironclad! And goes on to claim that no ships were sunk by submarine between the Civil War and the sinking of the Lusitania (May 1915) even though U boats had been attacking and sinking British ships since the previous fall of 1914! Other parts of the book use repetition of phrases and sentences, giving the appearance of a book cut and pasted together with poor editing. This mars the story. An additional problem is that the author gives no proper comparison when he discusses gun sizes -- mixing 32 lbers and 12" guns, without ever giving the reader any indication of how these compared.
This book covers a portion of Civil War history seldom given sufficient consideration. The naval war was monumentally important to bringing the conflict to as early an end as it had. While this book provides the information to cover the topic, it does so in an uninspired fashion. The almost complete absence of maps will leave the average reader jumping from book to reference book or giving up entirely on trying to understand the geography. Add to this fault some of the worst proof reading I have ever encountered and the reader can easily slip into confusion. The same designation is given for the hulls of the commerce raiders Florida and Alabama and in the same chapter,Semmes begins a cruise in the original Florida (not the same as the British built raider)which majically turns into the Alabama somewhere in the gulf of Mexico.
From the standpoint of presenting an important aspect of the Civil War not covered in such detail anywhere else this is an important book. It's faults can be very annoying.
While this book is nicely written there were many inaccuracies. I do not believe the author researched the book very well. He refers to Semmes first ship the converted packet Havana as the first Florida when she was actually the CSS Sumter. Also it appears he did very little research about the ships he writes about, he lists the wrong number of guns and tonnage constantly. There were too many flaws in this book to make it enjoyable.
There are so many technical inaccuracies in this text and so many problems with syntax that one wonders if there was any attempt to proof-read on the part of the publisher. The bibliography and footnotes are the most valuable part of the book.
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