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

Unvexed Waters: Mississippi River Squadron, Part 2

Part I of this post introduced the unprecedented U.S. Army Western Gunboat Flotilla—soon to be reorganized as the U.S. Navy Mississippi River Squadron—and carried it through the victorious battles of Forts Henry and Donelson, Tennessee, in February 1862. The next … Continue reading

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Artillery: Big Guns at Pulaski

“From the opening shots at Fort Sumter to the annihilating fire from Little Round Top against Pickett’s men and the months of bombardment at Petersburg, artillery played a role not really seen in American experience before the Civil War,” wrote … Continue reading

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Unvexed Waters: Mississippi River Squadron, Part I

History offers few examples other than the Civil War and Vietnam of extensive operations on inland shallow waters involving specialized classes of war vessels commanded and manned by naval personnel. The struggle for the Mississippi River, the spine of America, … Continue reading

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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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