Academic journal article Military Review

Thunder along the Mississippi: The River Battles That Split the Confederacy

Academic journal article Military Review

Thunder along the Mississippi: The River Battles That Split the Confederacy

Article excerpt

THUNDER ALONG THE MISSISSIPPI: The River Battles that Split the Confederacy by Jack D. Coombe. 260 pages. Sarpedon, New York. 1996. $24.95.

The US Navy's exploits and contributions in the American Civil War have taken a back seat to those of the Union Army's. This is quickly evident from even a cursory review of Civil War book titles. Author Jack Coombe attempts to ease this imbalance with this work on the Navy's role in the Civil War's western theater. For that reason alone, Thunder Along the Mississippi is worth reading.

Coombe does a particularly good job of analyzing engagements that often only rate a sentence or paragraph in larger works. Examples are his descriptions of Island Number 10's subjugation and the battle of Plum Point. His accounts of sailors' daily routines, the Mississippi River fleet's growth and the ironclads' construction are equally valuable.

Unfortunately, Coombe's work is so replete with errors the reader becomes distracted. For example, he places Columbus in Missouri and Belmont in Kentucky, when the opposite is correct. He consistently refers to General John McClemand as McLernand and says the Black Hawk War happened in 1834 rather than 1832. He states that then 2d Lieutenant Leonidas Polk resigned his commission in 1831 at West Point, when Polk actually submitted his letter of resignation on 23 October 1827 in Tennessee. …

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