Saturday, February 25, 2017

Booknotes: Captain James Carlin

New Arrival:
Captain James Carlin: Anglo-American Blockade Runner
by Colin Carlin (Univ of S Carolina Pr, 2017).

James Carlin was a locally prominent British-born captain of blockade runners who made many successful trips into and out of the heavily monitored South Carolina coast during the Civil War. Written by a descendant, this volume is a full biography of the man. "An Englishman trained in the British merchant marine, Carlin was recruited into the U.S. Coastal and Geodetic Survey Department in 1856, spending four years charting the U.S. Atlantic seaboard. Married and settled in Charleston, South Carolina, he resigned from the survey in 1860 to resume his maritime career." When the war started, he threw in his lot with the Confederacy.

Carlin started with sail-powered blockade runners before moving to steam. Like many of his peers in the business, he was eventually captured and imprisoned in New York. "On his return to Charleston, General P. G. T. Beauregard gave him command of the spar torpedo launch Torch for an attack on the USS New Ironsides. After more successful trips though the blockade, he was appointed superintending captain of the South Carolina Importing and Exporting Company and moved to Scotland to commission six new steam runners." After the war, Carlin continued his career in illicit trade by becoming a gun runner in the Caribbean.

The author used his UK base to examine an international collection of sources. In researching the book, he "gathered a wealth of private and public records from England, Scotland, Ireland, Greenland, the Bahamas, and the United States. The use of fresh sources from British Foreign Office and U.S. Prize Court documents and surviving business papers make this volume distinctive." Sounds like Carlin had an interesting Civil War career. It seems like it's been a long while since last receiving a naval book in the mail. I definitely plan on fitting this one into the reading schedule.

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