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

An Ancient and Fearsome Weapon: The Ram

The ram—the main armament of sleek and swift Greek triremes powered by 180 rowers—turned back a Persian invasion at the Battle of Salamis in 480 BC and launched Western Civilization. Rowing galleys ruled the Mediterranean for two more millennia, the … Continue reading

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

Sink Before Surrender: The CSS Virginia Gets Underway

In the dawn of that fateful Saturday, March 8, 1862, the CSS Virginia lay alongside the Gosport Shipyard quay on the west bank of the Elizabeth River across from Norfolk, Virginia, and just upriver from Hampton Roads. The storm passed … Continue reading

Posted in Battles, Emerging Civil War, Navies | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

ECW Weekender: View from the Ramparts – Fortress Monroe, Virginia

In the gathering dusk of Saturday, March 8, 1862, a young Union telegrapher, John Emmet O’Brien, stood on the ramparts of Fortress Monroe on Old Point Comfort dominating the entrance to Hampton Roads, Virginia. He looked to the right and … Continue reading

Posted in Battlefields & Historic Places, ECW Weekender, National Park Service, Navies | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The First Contraband Combatants

“The scene on board the flag-ship was novel and thrilling. The thunder of the conflict drowned all other noises,” wrote historian John S. C. Abbott.[1] In one of the first Civil War histories, written while it happened, Abbott employed elegant … Continue reading

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Primary Sources: Through a Telescope Backwards

Perhaps no experience is more fulfilling for a historian than becoming immersed in contemporary first-person chronicles, viewing dramatic happenings through the eyes of those who lived them. Thankfully, our Civil War ancestors were avid and literate recorders of that fascinating … Continue reading

Posted in Memory, Navies, Primary Sources | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

A Confederate New Year Far, Far Away

December 31, 1864: The CSS Shenandoah—the remotest and loneliest outpost of the beleaguered Confederacy—stretched her wings with all sails set as she surged across the Indian Ocean. Her officers were a cross section of the South from Maryland, Virginia, North … Continue reading

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

Railroads – McClellan’s Steam Strategy: Trains and Ships in the Civil War

“It cannot be ignored that the construction of railroads has introduced a new and very important element into war,” wrote Major General George B. McClellan in a “Memorandum for the Consideration of His Excellency the President, submitted at his request,” … Continue reading

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Prisoner of War or Constructive Deserter?

It pays to read the (often lengthy) footnotes when researching first-person accounts in the venerable Battles and Leaders of the Civil War. Seemingly minor vignettes can speak to big issues. An article by Colonel Rush C. Hawkins describing his service … Continue reading

Posted in Common Soldier, Emerging Civil War, Politics | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

British Rebels: The International Civil War

The Confederacy campaigned vigorously for international recognition and support while the United States risked war with Great Britain to prevent that eventuality. Civil War aficionados might be familiar with “King Cotton” and perhaps the Trent Affair, but few recognize how … Continue reading

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Around We Go: In the Monitor Turret

Lieutenant Samuel D. Greene, USN, had a problem. He was encased within a dim, claustrophobic, metal drum—20 feet in diameter—behind eight layers of bolted and riveted 1-inch-thick iron plates in charge of two immense 11-inch Dahlgren shell guns, each 13 … Continue reading

Posted in Arms & Armaments, Artillery, Battles, Emerging Civil War, Navies, Weapons | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments