Under Two Flags: The American Navy in the Civil War

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Naval Institute Press, 1990 - History - 352 pages
1 Review
Vividly written and well researched by a noted historian of the period, this succinct history credits the Union Navy as an essential element in the northern victory. Neither ponderous nor hagiographic, the work presents characters and events that have been previously neglected and offers candid assessments of officers, men, and material. Originally published in 1990, when it was a Military History Book Club selection, the work is considered a must for Civil War buffs. It is an authoritative and gripping story of the battles waged.

The author provides a rare look at the war fought by primitive northern gunboats drifting through Louisiana's muddy bayous, Yankee merchantmen captured by rebel privateers at sea, and Union ironclads subduing hotly defended Southern forts. Nor does William Fowler neglect the subtler sparrings behind the scenes: War Secretary Stanton and Navy Secretary Welles competing for Lincoln's favor and Welles's fierce duel of strategies with his Confederate counterpart, Stephen Mallory. Finally, the author describes the astonishing transformation of the Navy itself from a ragtag fleet of aging steamers and paddleboats to one of the most powerful waterborne forces in the world.

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Under two flags: the American Navy in the Civil War

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

This is a very readable history of action on the seas during the Civil War. More than a mere military account, it provides a vivid picture of how, out of the chaos of war, the U.S. Navy emerged as one ... Read full review

Review: Under Two Flags: The American Navy in the Civil War

User Review  - Sean Chick - Goodreads

The writing is sloppy and so is this analysis. Ultimately this isn't even a good introductory work. Read full review


The Union Dissolves
Strategic Views
3 First Victories
4 Ironclads
5 Farragut
New Orleans
7 Gunboats
9 Vicksburg Resists
Vicksburg Falls
Galveston to Mobile
Atlantic Ports
Bibliographic note

On to Memphis

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About the author (1990)

William M. Fowler, Jr. is Director of the Massachusetts Historical Society and consulting editor to The New England Quarterly. He received his undergraduate degree from Northeastern University and his Ph.D. from the University of Notre Dame. He is the author of a number of books on American history including Empires at War: The French and Indian War and the Struggle For North America, 1754-1763, Rebels Under Sail: The Navy in the Revolution, The Baron of Beacon Hill: A Biography of John Hancock, Jack Tars and Commodores: The American Navy 1783-1815, and Under Two Flags: The American Navy in the Civil War. He is also co-author of America and The Sea: A Maritime History of America. He was Professor of History at Northeastern University from 1971 to 1998 and has taught a variety of courses in American history. He also teaches at Mystic Seaport Museum and has lectured at the Smithsonian Institution, the United States Naval War College and the Sea Education Association. He is a member of the Massachusetts State Archives Advisory Commission, The Colonial Society of Massachusetts, the American Antiquarian Society, and an Honorary Member of the Boston Marine Society and the Society of the Cincinnati. He received an Honorary degree from Northeastern University in 2000. The author lives in Boston, MA.

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