Gunsmoke Over the Atlantic: First Naval Actions of the Civil War (Paperback)

Gunsmoke Over the Atlantic: First Naval Actions of the Civil War Cover Image
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On April 12, 1861, the Civil War began when shots were fired on an unfinished fort in Charleston Harbor. From that thunderous opening salvo, the naval battles to control the Atlantic coast that followed-daring, savage, and often deadly-were not only crucial in determining the outcome of the war and the fate of a nation, but would change the face of naval warfare forever.


Historian Jack D Coombe, author of the critically acclaimed Thunder Along the Mississippi and Gunfire Around the Gulf, combines brilliant research with a novelist's flair for re-creation to put us directly into the action of the Civil War on river, on shore, and at sea. In this vivid account, we experience the soul-gnawing terror of a bombardment, the claustrophobic confines of a still-unproven submarine, and the smoke-choked chaos of a harbor in the grips of a full-bore naval engagement between two desperate enemies. Coombe focuses on the Civil War as it was fought along the Atlantic coast, a fierce contest of blockaders and blockade-runners, ironclads, wood-hulled battleships, land cannon, submarines, and the first underwater antiship weapons.

For the North, the challenge was to implement a blockade over 3,500 miles of Confederate coastline, from Virginia to Texas. To do so, they would have to modernize an ineffective and outdated U.S. Navy fallen into incompetence and disrepair. For the South, the challenge was to create a fledgling navy from whatever meager resources were at hand. The Confederacy patched together a navy of river runners and converted battleships, turned cornfields into shipyards, and put the first ironclad battleship into action. And it was the South that introduced the new concept of underwater weaponry, sending spar torpedoes, mines, submarines-and a few incredibly brave men willing to deploy them-into battle against the North.

Gunsmoke over the Atlantic chronicles the key engagements, from the Monitor and the Virginia dueling at Hampton Roads to the ill-fated campaign against Fort Fisher. Along the way, we meet a remarkable cast of naval strategists and warriors on both sides of the battle, witness the crucial, often deadly role played by the weather and the sea itself, and get a vivid view of such important events as the first amphibious landing in history, at Cape Hatteras in 1861.

An important work for students of the Civil War and of naval history, this book fills in missing pieces of America's most tragic war and shows why, when the guns finally fell silent, a new era had begun. Four years after the fall of Fort Sumter, a once divided country had the beginnings of the most powerful navy in the world.

From the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Jack D. Coombe is the author of Gunfire Around the Gulf and Thunder Along the Mississippi, which was nominated for the Fletcher Pratt Award. He and his wife, Peg, live in Northbrook, Illinois. From the Hardcover edition.

Praise For…

Praise for Jack D. Coombe's

Gunfire Around the Gulf

“Although the navy contributed enormously to union victory, books on the land war outnumber naval books by hundreds to one. Mr. Coombe’s blood-and-thunder narrative helps redress the balance.”
The Wall Street Journal

“A well-done study, clearly written...a worthwhile addition to Civil War collections.” –Library Journal

“Mr. Coombe makes fine use of those anecdotes and details that turn up in civil war records...and brings his own experience [as a navy veteran] to bear on the civil war effective approach to history.”
The Atlantic Monthly

Thunder Along the Mississippi

“Essential for anyone with an interest in Civil War naval operations or the war in the west.”
Library Journal

“Fascinating...Coombe is a skilled writer....this work will be a delight for Civil War buffs, but there is also much here for the well-informed general reader too.”

Product Details
ISBN: 9780553380736
ISBN-10: 0553380737
Publisher: Bantam
Publication Date: April 1st, 2003
Pages: 288
Language: English

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