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

Town Between the Rivers: Cairo, Illinois

A blue-coated rider appeared atop the riverbank above the steamer Belle Memphis. Rebels massed in the cornfield behind him fired volleys that whistled by the horseman, whanged through the tall smokestacks, and thudded into the vessel’s superstructure. Hundreds of Iowa … Continue reading

Posted in Battlefields & Historic Places, Navies, Western Theater | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

What We’ve Learned: “A Lot of History Every Month”

What have we learned since the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War? As it happens, those years correspond with my tenure as a contributing author to the Emerging Civil War blog starting in December 2014. Looking back over the posts, … Continue reading

Posted in Memory, Sesquicentennial | Tagged , | 2 Comments

“Praise the Lord and Admiral Porter”: Running the Vicksburg Batteries

“We still live,” wrote Lieutenant Elias Smith of the USS Lafayette. “The whole gunboat fleet passed the Vicksburg batteries on Thursday night [April 16, 1863], without receiving material damage. All praise to the Lord and Admiral Porter.” As far as … Continue reading

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Home Libraries: A Salty Civil War Library

Back in the 90’s, Judi and I loved cruising beautiful Virginia country byways and rural towns always seeking that musty little used-book store. She headed for the garden section and I, of course, made a beeline for the Civil War … Continue reading

Posted in Books & Authors, Navies | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

What Doomed the Crew of the HL Hunley?

On February 17, 1864, the Confederate submarine H L Hunley became the first combat submarine to sink a warship when she snuck up on and rammed her spar torpedo into the hull of the screw sloop-of-war USS Housatonic outside Charleston … Continue reading

Posted in Material Culture, Navies, Preservation, Weapons | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Burning Bridges to Baltimore

It’s always fun when researching obscure primary sources to come across a good story that has nothing to do with the original search. One such source is the memoir of a Union telegrapher published in 1910 in which he addresses … Continue reading

Posted in Material Culture, Primary Sources | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

What’s In a (Confederate) Name?

Visitors to the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis are engulfed in history. The magnificent grounds on the Severn River (known officially as “the yard”) abound in monuments, plaques, halls, and displays memorializing the nation’s naval heritage. Names of heroes … Continue reading

Posted in Memory, Monuments, Navies, Ties to the War | Tagged , , , , , , , | 69 Comments

A Most Curious Battle: Memphis, June 6, 1862

In the early morning hours, hundreds of Memphis citizens assembled high on the bluffs to observe the battle. But there were no surging ranks of blue and gray in the valley below, just the Big Muddy rolling broad and inexorable … Continue reading

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Ending The War: The Darkest Day

“The darkest day of my life,” wrote Lieutenant William Whittle in his journal entry for August 2, 1865. “The past is gone for naught—the future is dark as the blackest night. Oh! God protect and comfort us I pray.” The … Continue reading

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

The Emergency Ironclads

In late summer 1861, the United States Navy initiated a crash program to build their first ironclad warships, leading directly to the titanic clash between the USS Monitor and the CSS Virginia (ex USS Merrimack) in Hampton Roads on March … Continue reading

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