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Cover image of Faces of the Civil War Navies
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Faces of the Civil War Navies

An Album of Union and Confederate Sailors

Ronald S. Coddington
with a foreword by Craig L. Symonds

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Archival images and biographical sketches of common sailors on both sides of the conflict reveal the human side of the Civil War.

During the American Civil War, more than one hundred thousand men fought on ships at sea or on one of America’s great inland rivers. There were no large-scale fleet engagements, yet the navies, particularly the Union Navy, did much to define the character of the war and affect its length. The first hostile shots roared from rebel artillery at Charleston Harbor. Along the Mississippi River and other inland waterways across the South, Union gunboats were often the…

Archival images and biographical sketches of common sailors on both sides of the conflict reveal the human side of the Civil War.

During the American Civil War, more than one hundred thousand men fought on ships at sea or on one of America’s great inland rivers. There were no large-scale fleet engagements, yet the navies, particularly the Union Navy, did much to define the character of the war and affect its length. The first hostile shots roared from rebel artillery at Charleston Harbor. Along the Mississippi River and other inland waterways across the South, Union gunboats were often the first to arrive in deadly enemy territory. In the Gulf of Mexico and along the Atlantic seaboard, blockaders in blue floated within earshot of gray garrisons that guarded vital ports. And on the open seas, rebel raiders wreaked havoc on civilian shipping.

In Faces of the Civil War Navies, renowned researcher and Civil War photograph collector Ronald S. Coddington focuses his considerable skills on the Union and Confederate navies. Using identifiable cartes de visite of common sailors on both sides of the war, many of them never before published, Coddington uncovers the personal histories of each individual who looked into the eye of the primitive camera. These unique narratives are drawn from military and pension records, letters, diaries, period newspapers, and other primary sources. In addition to presenting the personal stories of seventy-seven intrepid volunteers, Coddington also focuses on the momentous naval events that ushered in an era of ironclad ships and other technical innovations.

The fourth volume in Coddington’s series on Civil War soldiers, this microhistory will appeal to anyone with an interest in the Civil War, social history, or photography. The narratives and photographs in Faces of the Civil War Navies shed new light on a lesser-known part of our American story. Taken collectively, these "snapshots" remind us that the history of war is not merely a chronicle of campaigns won and lost, it is the collective personal odysseys of thousands of individual life stories.

Reviews

Reviews

An engaging look at a neglected part of the history of the American Civil War.

Coddington has hit upon a unique and fascinating niche in the seemingly endless march of Civil War books.

A lavishly produced visual record of southern Civil War soldiers... will appeal to serious photography enthusiasts and collectors, as well as those readers captivated by the personal stories of Civil War soldiers.

Coddington's prose is as unpretentious as the faces he shares, yet authoritative. It resurrects details that broaden our understanding of those sad times and sheds valuable light on the shape of modern culture.

Even at a distance of over a hundred years, the faces staring out of these pages create an undeniable emotional connection with the reader. This book is highly recommended.

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Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
5.5
x
8.5
Pages
440
ISBN
9781421421360
Illustration Description
78 halftones
Table of Contents

Foreword by Craig L. Symonds
Preface
Cartes de Visite
Notes
References
Acknowledgments
Index

Author Bios
Ronald S. Coddington
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Ronald S. Coddington, B.F.A.

Ronald S. Coddington is assistant managing editor at The Chronicle of Higher Education. His work has appeared in USA Today, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and the San Jose Mercury News. He is a contributing writer to the New York Times Disunion series and writes a monthly column for The Civil War News. He is the author of Faces of the Confederacy and Faces of the Civil War, both published by...
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