Friday, May 3, 2019

Booknotes: Life In Jefferson Davis' Navy

New Arrival:
Life In Jefferson Davis' Navy by Barbara Brooks Tomblin (Naval Inst Press, 2019).

On several occasions I've mentioned how much I like Tomblin's work, and I've reviewed her prior Civil War titles Bluejackets and Contrabands: African Americans and the Union Navy (2009) and The Civil War on the Mississippi: Union Sailors, Gunboat Captains, and the Campaign to Control the River (2016) here on the site. I still think the latter is the best overview of the topic. The author switches sides and publisher with her new book Life In Jefferson Davis' Navy.

From the description: "The Civil War is often considered a "soldiers' war," but Life in Jefferson Davis' Navy acknowledges the legacy of service of the officers and sailors of the Confederate States Navy. In this full-length study, Barbara Brooks Tomblin addresses every aspect of a Confederate seaman's life, from the risks of combat to the everyday routines which sustained those sailing for the stars and bars. Drawing upon diaries, letters, newspaper accounts, and published works, Tomblin offers a fresh look at the wartime experiences of the officers and men in the Confederate Navy, including those who served on gunboats, ironclads, and ships on western rivers and along the coast and at Mobile Bay, as well as those who sailed on the high seas aboard the Confederate raiders Sumter, Alabama, Florida, and Shenandoah."

The study adopts a pretty comprehensive perspective on what it was like to be a Confederate sailor. Chapters cover recruitment, shipboard induction, duties and routine, how sailors spent their free time, naval discipline, healthcare, and the POW experience. A pair of chapters summarize Confederate coastal and riverine naval operations, and another explores experimental and innovative technologies employed by the CSN.


  1. Sounds like an interesting book, but what is wrong with proper punctuation, as in "Life in Jefferson Davis's Navy"? David Romine

    1. Style guidelines are as numerous as the stars these days.


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