I've long admired James McPherson's Battle Cry of Freedom, and commend it to any reader curious what happened in the Civil War whose sesquicentennial is currently in progress.  Professor McPherson recently finished War on the Waters: The Union & Confederate Navies, 1861-1865.  Book Review No. 29 is an enthusiastic recommendation.  The subject is likely to appeal more to the dedicated Civil War aficionado, rather than the novice, as the focus is of necessity narrower, and on occasion, obscure.  It is useful, however, for students of the era to recognize that without Ericsson and Farragut and Porter and Welles, the more famous clashes involving Grant and McClellan and Sherman, and Forrest and Johnston and Lee, might have turned out differently.  For it was the western river navies and western armies that developed, respect for the independence of each service's chain of command notwithstanding, techniques of combined arms that secured control of the navigable rivers, as well as the Gulf ports, reducing rebel exporters to moving their goods to the remaining ports over rudimentary roads and railroads.  Furthermore, the very success of rebel blockade runner ships proved to be evidence of the success of the Federal embargo (a blockade being maintained by one country at war against another).  The only ships that could slip past the coastal squadrons were the blockade runners, which, of necessity, had to export high-value cotton and import high-value armaments.  When the supply of anthracite coal ran out ...

(Cross-posted to 50 Book Challenge.)

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