Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Book News: Breaking the Blockade

At least in academic circles, study of the Civil War as a transnational event is currently one of the hottest sub-fields. Quite a number of manuscripts and essay anthologies exploring antebellum, wartime, and postwar connections with Central and South America, Europe, the Caribbean, and even the Pacific Rim have been published in recent years. On the other hand, diplomatic studies (mostly centered on Britain and France) and blockade-related books have always been around. However, one conspicuous omission has been a truly detailed history of the conflict's greatest transshipment point involved in the exchange of southern cotton for much-needed European arms, munitions, equipment, food, and supplies. That gap in the literature will be addressed in early 2021 with the release of Charles D. Ross's Breaking the Blockade: The Bahamas during the Civil War (UP of Mississippi).

From the description: "Boats worked their way back and forth from the Confederacy to Nassau and England, and everyone from scoundrels to naval officers wanted a piece of the action. Poor men became rich in a single transaction, and dances and drinking―from the posh Royal Victoria hotel to the boarding houses lining the harbor―were the order of the day. British, United States, and Confederate sailors intermingled in the streets, eyeing each other warily as boats snuck in and out of Nassau. But it was all to come crashing down as the blockade finally tightened and the final Confederate ports were captured." Breaking the Blockade "focuses on the political dynamics and tensions that existed between the United States Consular Service, the governor of the Bahamas, and the representatives of the southern and English firms making a large profit off the blockade."

On an author note, readers might recognize physicist Ross from his earlier science-related Civil War studies. White Mane titles were once a staple of Civil War sections in bookstores, and it wasn't uncommon to see a copy of Ross's Civil War Acoustic Shadows (2001). I never did read that one, or his other book Trial by Fire: Science, Technology and the Civil War (2000), but it's always nice to see an author return to the fold after a long break.


  1. Thank you for your kind words! I believe readers will find interesting new information in this book. I'm writing to add one thing to your last paragraph. I was involved with one other book since the two you mentioned. I was one of the co-authors of Never for Want of Powder (about the Confederate Powder Works at Augusta) that came out in 2007. Thanks again and I hope you and your readers are healthy and doing well.

    1. Thanks. I did read that one! Great book, if a bit physically unwieldy.

  2. Drew, I worked with Chuck on "Never for Want of Powder: The Confederate Powder Works in Augusta, Georgia," with Chip Bragg, myself, and others. I highly recommend it also. He is a good researcher and writer.


If you wish to comment, please sign your name. Otherwise, your submission may be rejected, at the moderator's discretion. Comments containing outside promotions and/or links will be deleted.