The U.S. Navy was founded on this day in October 13, 1775. But it was during the Civil War that the Navy grew up.
Both sides had navies and the naval side of the Civil War was unique and important. While the average person could perhaps name the battle between the ironclads The Moniter and the Merrimack (actually named the Virginian) and maybe the blockade, the navies were much more important than just that.
There were not two ironsides. There were fleets of ironsides. The Confederate navy had a submarine (H. L. Hunley).
At the beginning of the war, the Union had less than 40 vessels. They called upon private citizens to give their vessels for the cause. They were needed to implement President Lincoln’s blockade the entire southern coast – about 2,500 miles. Navy Secretary Gideon Welles had the unenviable task of putting together what some critics labeled a “soapbox” navy.
The Confederates, led by the efforts of Confederate Secretary of the Navy, Stephen Mallory, countered by building vessels as rapidly as they could.
There were numerous interesting naval battles plus the takeover of the Mississippi River corridor by a fleet of Union ships.
Many iconic navy men came out of the Civil War too including inventor John Ericsson (who built the Monitor), Commodore David Farragut and Alabama commander Raphael Semmes.
The Confederate navy actually failed to finally surrender until four months after the surrender of Appomattox Courthouse on April 9, 1865. The Shenandoah failed to get the message and continued to fight in the open seas of the Pacific Ocean until November 6, 1865.
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