Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Book review - Civil War on Western Waters.

I was given Fletcher Pratt's Civil War on Western Waters as a gift some time ago and have just gotten around to reading it. The book was published in 1956 and runs 221 pages with an appendix adding an additional 19 pages of information, mostly fleet rosters and vessel descriptions.

True to the title, Mr. Pratt concentrates his account on naval actions in the west. The eastern theater, blockade, and high seas are mentioned only so much as they effect the west. The deep water navy sails from the pages of the book shortly after the fall of New Orleans. Land forces are only in the book when they are working with or opposing naval units.

Starting with the building of the Union and Confederate navies, the book traces maneuvers, engagements, and personalities from the declaration of war to the battle of Nashville on December 14, 1864. That was the last major engagement involving naval units.

I must say I found Mr. Pratt's work to be interesting. Naval accounts are not usually my area of interest, probably because of my lack of knowledge of the nautical arts. For the most part Pratt does not get involved in the minutia. When he does he explains clearly to the uninformed reader what he is talking about.

The book moves easily along and presents information in a well-written and understandable format. Mr. Pratt also takes time to explain not just the how but the why. Why things done the way they were and what the impact of those actions was on the war in the west and the war as a whole.

If you are looking for a quick and informative read detailing the naval involvement in the Western Theater of the American Civil War or if you are a naval buff who enjoys reading about ships and the men who sail them then Civil War on Western Waters is a book you don't want to pass up.

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