Author Archives: Dwight Hughes

About Dwight Hughes

Dwight Hughes is a retired U.S. Navy Surface Warfare Officer and Vietnam Veteran. He speaks and writes on Civil War naval topics. www.CivilWarNavyHistory.com

Sea Power at Port Royal Sound: A Missed Opportunity?

On November 5, 1861, the Confederate Secretary of War established the coasts of South Carolina, Georgia, and East Florida as a military department, assigning one of his most senior and experienced officers, General R. E. Lee, to command it. No … Continue reading

Posted in Battles, Emerging Civil War, Leadership--Federal, Navies, Personalities, Weapons | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

From the ECW Archives: Queen of Delphine, Part II

(Continuing the story from Part I of Lillias Nichols as prisoner of war and her captors aboard the CSS Shenandoah.) New Year’s Day 1865 continued clear and balmy. All sails were set with just enough breeze to fill them, the … Continue reading

Posted in Civil War Events, Civilian, Holidays, Navies | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

From the ECW Archives: Queen of the Delphine, Part I

A warship at sea was an exclusively male domain and sailors were a superstitious lot. Having a woman on board was unlucky as well as a confounded nuisance. In December 1864, one New England lady found herself a prisoner of … Continue reading

Posted in Civil War Events, Civilian, Navies | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Watching the “Merrimac”

One of the joys of a historian is finding that perfect eye-witness account of momentous events, one that puts you alongside our ancestors and sees through their eyes. The following is just such a viewpoint. “IN March, 1862, I was … Continue reading

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Slaves and Sailors in the Civil War

The enlistment of African Americans as soldiers in the United States Army during the Civil War is a well-examined topic, but less appreciated is the story of freedmen and former slaves as sailors in the navy. Wartime experiences of these … Continue reading

Posted in Navies, USCT | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Confederates Invade San Francisco?

Shortly before his death in 1886, James I. Waddell, former captain of the CSS Shenandoah, wrote in his memoirs: “I had matured plans for entering the harbor of San Francisco and laying that city under contribution.”[i] Waddell never did pass … Continue reading

Posted in Emerging Civil War, Navies, Trans-Mississippi, Western Theater | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Ironclad Superweapons of the Civil War: USS Monitor and CSS Virginia

The clash of the ironclads USS Monitor and CSS Virginia in Hampton Roads on March 9, 1862 is considered a revolutionary event in naval warfare, but neither vessel quite lived up to the ambitious expectations of its sponsors. On a hot … Continue reading

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The Emancipation Proclamation: An International Turning Point

In  his post “Thenceforward and Forever Free”: The Emancipation Proclamation as a Turning Point, Dan Vermilya makes a good case that the president’s executive action was a turning point of the war because it clarified Union war aims on the issue of … Continue reading

Posted in Politics, Slavery | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

A Rebel’s Duty

While researching the Southern Historical Society Papers on another topic, I came across the following passage from 1907: When the question is asked what the followers of Lee and Jackson fought for, let the ringing, unchangeable and ever true response … Continue reading

Posted in Memory, Navies, Personalities, Politics | Tagged , , , , | 14 Comments

The Naval Civil War in Theaters Near and Far

Civil War military history occurs in the context of “theaters” including the Eastern, the Western, and the Trans-Mississippi with sub-theaters within each. This framework organizes operations in terms of discrete location, environment, interacting events, influences, and consequences. The naval side … Continue reading

Posted in Campaigns, Emerging Civil War, Navies | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments