Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Booknotes: British Blockade Runners in the American Civil War

New Arrival:
British Blockade Runners in the American Civil War by Joseph McKenna (McFarland, 2019).

British Blockade Runners in the American Civil War is Birmingham librarian and researcher Joseph McKenna's second Civil War nautical title published by McFarland. The first, 2010's British Ships in the Confederate Navy, offered new insights into the behind-the-scenes diplomatic war over British assistance to the CSN.

From the description: "The daring exploits of Confederate blockade runners are well known--but many of them were British citizens operating out of neutral ports such as Nassau, Havana and Bermuda. Focusing on British involvement in the war, this history names the overseas bankers and manufacturers who, in critical need of cotton and other Confederate exports, financed and equipped the fast little ships that ran the blockade. The author attempts to disentangle the names and aliases of the captains--many of whom were Royal Navy officers on temporary leave--and tells their stories in their own words."

Using both British and American archives, government documents, newspapers, and other sources, McKenna also sorts out many mistakes made and propagated by U.S. authors who didn't have ready access to U.K. records. In comprehensively documenting the identities of British blockade-running captains and including detailed lists and descriptions of British ships and ship-building firms, the book also has useful reference value that McKenna hopes will be incorporated into future studies on both sides of the Atlantic.

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