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NAVAL OPERATIONS DURING THE CIVIL WARAt the beginning of the Civil War in 1861 there was little reason to suspect that the United States Navy would play a very big role in the war The Confederate Navy had absolutely no navy nor did they have the ability to create one The south did not contain a single plant that could create a marine engine Carrison page 17 The government of the Confederate States got underway in the spring of 1861 totally unprepared from a naval standpoint to uphold the independence it had declared Confederate Forces Afloat page 1The Confederacy lacked the adequate means to conduct an offensive of defensive war httpsunsiteuncedu page 1a They needed ships to defend its long coastline and inland waterways to carry war to its northern shores or to conduct the foreign trade vital to its existence To this bleak outlook was added but limited hope to acquiring or constructing a navy Nevertheless inspired determination and ingenuity evinced particularly by the more than 300 able officers who resigned from the United States Navy to support the southern cause These men culminated in the rapid appearance of many varied types of forces afloat under the Confederate flag httpsunsiteuncedu page 2aThe States Navy provided the foundation for the events to follow The seceding states confiscated small United States ships such as revenue cutters coast survey ships and lighthouse tenders They also purchased others from northern owners as well as southern owners They quickly started building additional vessels better suited for warfare httpsunsiteuncedu page 2a Also the states that seceded automatically took with them the naval forces they had already accumulated As the war went on the confederacy created a better defense for their major ports inland waterways and the souths vast coastline The better defense included the ironclads and the submarines Readers Digest page 144Lincoln and his Secretary of Navy Gideon Welles resolved early to weaken the south by blockading its major ports
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