Stephen R. Wise, Robert Holcombe Jr., and Kevin Foster
Unfortunately for maritime scholars, works on Civil War navies have never matched the tremendous outpouring of books and articles on the war's land actions. Nor do the writings contain the historiographical and interpretive counterpoints so prevalent in the works concerning ground forces. Indeed, the general history of the naval war is dominated by the Mahan school of naval writing, wherein the strategic view is stressed, with emphasis on big battles and famous personalities. The existing literature encompasses a wide range of work that varies from popular, almost folklore, accounts to very technical papers on certain aspects of the naval war, such as commerce raiders, blockade running, ordnance, vessel construction, and navigation. What has not yet occurred is a synthesis of the specialized fields with the general literature in order to produce an overall study. The sources for such a work do exist, and when a naval historian combines the primary sources with the secondary works, a nearly complete picture of the navy's role can be produced.
There are some important bibliographies on Civil War navies. For primary sources the best guides are Henry Putney Beers recently revised Guide to the Archives of the Government of the Confederate States of America ( 1968) and Kenneth W. Munden and Henry Putney Beers Guide to Federal Archives Relating to the Civil War ( 1962). These works not only list naval records held by the National Archives but also manuscript sources at other institutions. One important set of manuscripts is the Papers of Officers of the Naval Records Library, which contain numerous collections of Civil War officers; once held by the Naval History Division, they are currently housed at the Library of Congress. For a more complete listing of manuscripts outside the National Archives,