Theodore P. Savas
The men and ships that plied the high seas and inland waterways under the Confederate banner have not enjoyed the widespread attention lavished by historians upon land-based operations. The best place to begin any inquiry in this area remains Thomas Scharf highly biased century-old History of the Confederate States Navy ( 1887). Scharf, a midshipman in the Southern navy, pieced together this history without the benefit of the scores of manuscript sources now available. Despite its shortcomings, Scharf's work offers good biographical portraits of the Confederate navy's officers. A trio of general studies are Bern Anderson's By Sea and by River: The Naval History of the Civil War ( 1962), Virgil Carrington Jones three-volume The Civil War at Sea ( 1962), and Fletcher Pratt more narrowly focused Civil War on Western Waters ( 1956). All offer solid insights and, to a greater or lesser degree, scholarly analysis of the careers of various Confederate officers and of Confederate naval policy in general.
Students desiring a centralized perspective of Richmond's naval policy and its consequences on the war effort will enjoy Joseph T. Durkin's excellent biography of the Confederacy's creative naval secretary, Stephen R. Mallory: Confederate Navy Chief ( 1954). Durkin explores the secretary's relations with his various naval officers and discusses in depth the almost insurmountable difficulties these men faced in constructing and operating the South's motley navy. Tom Wells award-winning The Confederate Navy: A Study in Organization ( 1969) is especially beneficial and must be consulted. Another excellent policy- related study is William N. Still "Confederate Naval Strategy: The Ironclad"