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"Civil War Navy SOP" Topic

6 Posts

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American Civil War
19th Century

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Rusty Balls12 Dec 2019 3:45 p.m. PST

I have been reading more about the naval side of the war and it occurred to me that, being an Army guy, I don't know much about sailing or fighting a ship. I'm not interested in how to sail. I'm more interested in what the crew positions were on a ship and how did a ship's crew fight an engagement.

We know a lot about how a WWII ship was fought but what do we know about how a Civil War ship was fought. Much of the histories just talk about the ships as if they operated themselves.

Anyone know of some primary sources or navy manuals that explain how a CW naval ship operated?

Thanks in advance!

donlowry12 Dec 2019 7:23 p.m. PST

There were an amazing variety of types of ships (and gunboats), so one size would not fit all.

Ryan T Supporting Member of TMP12 Dec 2019 8:24 p.m. PST

It may be a bit too much to dig through, but all 30-odd volumes of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies are available online. Reading through the reports of some of the operations/battles might give you what you are looking for.


Personal logo StoneMtnMinis Supporting Member of TMP13 Dec 2019 8:40 a.m. PST

On sailing vessels the duties and assignments of the crew would be the same as they had always been.

On steam driven warships the duties would be similiar to WWI warships.

panzerCDR13 Dec 2019 11:40 a.m. PST

I enjoyed the book "A Year on a Monitor and the Destruction of Fort Sumter" by Alvah F Hunter. Hunter was an underage Union sailor who wrote about his experiences long after the war. His ship served during the siege of Charleston in 1863. I don't recall that he discussed the watchbill for the ship, but the book did discuss the overall operation of the vessel in combat and blockade.

Rusty Balls13 Dec 2019 12:35 p.m. PST

Thank you. Found some great stuff in the ORs with regard to crew rosters. Thank you so much for the link!

I'll check out the monitor book also.

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