Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Booknotes: The Autobiography of Rear Admiral John A. Dahlgren

New Arrival:
The Autobiography of Rear Admiral John A. Dahlgren edited by Peter C. Luebke
  (NHHC, 2019).

Rear Admiral John Adolphus Bernard Dahlgren was a major Civil War naval officer whose squadron command tenure in the South Atlantic was not without controversy. Addressing critics of his actions off Charleston was one of the reasons behind the writing of his 279-page autobiography, which currently resides in the archive collections of the Navy Department Library located at the Washington Naval Yard. As far as I know, The Autobiography of Rear Admiral John A. Dahlgren (No. 8: Contributions to Naval History series, Naval History and Heritage Command) is the first version of the manuscript to appear in print.

From the description: "Dahlgren’s legacy in the Navy was profound and lasting, primarily for his role in designing and developing the weapons and ammunition that enabled the Union Navy to emerge victorious at sea and on the inland waterways during the Civil War. Because of this, when the Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren was established during World War I in 1918, and which to this day designs and tests most of the Navy’s shipboard weapons, it was named in honor of John A. Dahlgren."

In addition to transcribing the manuscript in full, editor Peter Luebke contributes an introduction, footnotes, a pair of appendices, and index. The first appendix is a copy of a letter from General W.T. Sherman to Dahlgren, which defends Dahlgren from one of his major critics, Maj. Gen. Quincy Gillmore. The other appendix consists of Dahlgren's own lengthy description of the Charleston harbor defenses, which was originally written for historian John Draper and is more detailed than the one contained in the autobiography. 

The seven-chapter manuscript itself largely focuses on Dahlgren's Civil War career but also touches upon his early life and antebellum ordnance department work. The volume also contains numerous archival photographs, maps, and drawings.

Apparently hard copies of the book are available for purchase from the government printing office, but I couldn't get the link to work. Anyway, you can access a free .pdf version by clicking here.

No comments:

Post a Comment

If you wish to comment, please sign your name. Otherwise, your submission may be rejected, at my discretion. Also, outside promotions are not allowed in the comments section.