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CAPITAL NAVY: The Men, Ships, and Operations of the James River Squadron [Paperback]

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Item description for CAPITAL NAVY: The Men, Ships, and Operations of the James River Squadron by John M. Coski...

Capital Navy is the first book to examine the importance of Confederate naval operations on the James River, and their significant (and yet largely ignored) impact on the war in Virginia.

Dr. Coski's study explores virtually every aspect of the Confederate naval presence, from the early war construction of the ironclad behemoths to the under appreciated wooden ships that fought alongside their more famous iron-plated sister ships--and every engagement and action in between. Coski's research is grounded in primary sources, including diaries, letters, journals, log books, and official records.

His deep research allows him to paint a lively portrait of the men and ships that plied the twisting, muddy coils of the James River. His descriptions of the many fascinating personalities involved in this drama are richly drawn and deeply crafted, as are his renditions of the naval engagements (including Drewry's Bluff and Trent's Reach).

It is impossible to fully understand how and why the war unfolded as it did in Virginia (and indeed, the Eastern Theater) without reading this book.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   344
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.5" Width: 5.75" Height: 8.75"
Weight:   1.1 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Publisher   Savas Beatie
ISBN  1932714154  
ISBN13  9781932714159  

Availability  0 units.

More About John M. Coski

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! John M. Coski is Historian and Library Director at The Museum of the Confederacy.

John M. Coski has an academic affiliation as follows - The Museum of the Confederacy.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > History > Americas > General
2Books > Subjects > History > Americas > United States > 19th Century > General
3Books > Subjects > History > Americas > United States > Civil War > Confederacy
4Books > Subjects > History > Americas > United States > Civil War > General
5Books > Subjects > History > Americas > United States > Civil War > Naval Operations
6Books > Subjects > History > Americas > United States > General
7Books > Subjects > History > Military > Naval

Reviews - What do customers think about CAPITAL NAVY: The Men, Ships, and Operations of the James River Squadron?

Excellent overview of Richmond's naval industry and defenses  Aug 9, 2006
Author John M. Coski is certainly correct in mentioning the burgeoning number of Civil War navy related works (esp. Confederate) that have surfaced since Capital Navy was published in 1996 by Savas Woodbury Publishers. He is also right to assert that his earlier work still stands the test of time (by the way, the author includes a note stating that the new paperback edition is a straight reprint of the original hardback with no additions. I wish more publishers would include such declarations, as I am always interested if new material is included, but feel it is just as important to mention to prospective buyers that the new edition is the same as the old).

For the most part, readers expecting a book full of stirring naval battles will not find them here. Stalemate reigned throughout most of the war. The James River Squadron was really only involved in two significant or potentially significant engagements--an aborted Confederate naval attack in early 1865 (Trent's Reach) and a ship-vs-shore engagement in 1862 at Drewry's Bluff (even then the relative contributions of army and navy to Confederate victory were hotly disputed). Coski does not attempt a micro history of the squadron's fights, but he does provide well-written summaries backed up by several helpful visual aids (some more fine maps by Mark A. Moore). A suggested source for those seeking more detail dealing with Drewry's Bluff is Ed Bearss' River of Lost Opportunities.

The core of Capital Navy is a well-researched history of the Confederate military-industrial center on the James River, and the civilians, officers, and men who supported its operation of building and maintaining the CSA's naval presence in Virginia. The navy's torpedo program is also discussed in some detail. Combined with the heavy use of channel obstructions, torpedoes contributed greatly to the lack of decisive action on the upper James after the Union navy was turned back at Drewry's Bluff. Coski keenly analyzes the successes and failures of the Confederate naval programs, along with the political, economic, and military factors behind them.

Coski's paperback is beautifully presented by Savas-Beatie. Aside from the maps mentioned before, each chapter ends with a full-captioned photo gallery and many of the images cannot be found in any other publication. A nice bonus was the inclusion of detailed, multi-angle drawings of the squadron's ironclads (the details are speculative to some degree, however, as complete blueprints did not survive the war).

Although certain elements of the Richmond naval experience can likely be read about in more detail elsewhere (or will be written about in the future), Capital Navy is as broad a history of the James River Squadron as we are likely to get. His book may be modest in length but, backed by an impressive range of research, Coski has included just about every subject of conceivable relevance to his study of the Confederate capital's naval defenders at a level of detail that will likely satisfy any interested reader. Capital Navy is highly recommended reading for Civil War naval scholars and enthusiasts.

(from Civil War Books and Authors blog)
What a book!  Jun 8, 2005
Dr. Coski covers a nearly forgotten aspect of the defense of Richmond in a most loving manner. Filled with facts and sources, it is a pleasure to read.

Ley Watson
A new world   May 18, 2005
I knew very little about Civil war naval actions and even less about actions on the James River. This small book was able to instruct and entertain me at the same time. No small feat considering how much time was spent waiting and how little time fighting. Why Richmond, as short of resources as it was, spent so many resources on a navy escapes me.

They did and this book is the story of that effort. John Coski maintains the right level of technology, ship building, problem solving, research and tedium through out the book. This gives the reader both a real feel for and appreciation of what happened. Peopled with a large number of unfamiliar names, introductions were quick but I could recall them easily.

The Richmond Navy Yards are the heart of the story. Peopled with a large variety of workers, many Black, they struggle to construct the heart of the squadron. Shortages, problems and the draft are constant problems speeding and slowing construction.

For the men at Drewry's & Chaffin's Bluff, Richmond is luxury. Much of the time in tents sometimes with little food in bad weather, they wait for the Union Navy. The men on the ships consider the men at the batteries to be living in luxury. Trapped in ironclads that are ovens or iceboxes, secure behind a wall of torpedoes and sunken obstacles, they wear down the ships and themselves patrolling. At last, the James River Squadron came out to fight in January 1865. The operation is well-documented and great fun to read.

This is a Savas Beatie book and they continue to do an outstanding job. The book is full of period illustrations, pictures and the excellent maps we expect from this house. In addition to the naval maps, a general campaign map for 1862 & 1865 insure we understand the overall situation.
A well-researched and smoothly narrated history  Apr 12, 2005
Capital Navy: The Men, Ships and Operations of the James River Squadron is an in-depth scrutiny of the role that Confederate naval operations on the James River and their impact on the war in Virginia had in the American Civil War. Written by the Librarian of the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond, Capital Navy discusses Richmond as a naval center, the makings of a navy capital, and events leading up to and during the Battle of Trent's Reach. Black-and-white photographs and diagrams enhance this well-researched and smoothly narrated history, especially recommended for Civil War scholars and library collections.
This is the way nonfiction should be written!  Jan 6, 2000
Just finished this book and it's NOT the kind of quick overview most CW books are. Coski goes as deep as I've ever seen in this outstanding work of creative nonfiction. I was fascinated by such characters as "Savez" Read, USNA Class of 1860, and the rumors (?) of a Confederate submarine built in Richmond in 1861. Plan for several riveting evenings with this one.

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