Lincoln and His Admirals

Author(s): 
Reinis, Austra
ISBN: 
9780195310221
Date published: 
October 2008
Hardback
Price: 
£14.99

In 1952, T. Harry Williams wrote the classic study, Lincoln and His Generals. Half a century later, Craig Symonds will write its necessary follow-up, Lincoln and His Admirals - a much-needed history of the Union navy during the Civil War. Given the wealth of books on the military history of the Civil War, surprisingly little has been written about the role of the navy. As Symonds shows, Abraham Lincoln began his presidency as well as the war with virtually no knowledge of naval affairs, lacking both exposure and interest given his upbringing in the Midwest. Despite his inexperience, he quickly came to preside over the largest national armada of the century, not eclipsed until the World War I. This was a remarkable feat given the poor shape, at least by European standards, of the Union navy in 1861. As Symonds argues, Americans had previously viewed the U.S. navy with some skepticism, regarding navies as essentially aristocratic bodies, or, worse, tools of empire. Symonds's book outlines the four factors that explain Lincoln's success in building a strong Union navy - his pragmatism, his willingness to judge men based on performance rather than politics, his command of new technology, and his deft hand at diplomacy. Mostly, however, this book will be a compelling portrait of the naval officers and their relationships to Lincoln, as well as a lucid argument for the role of the navy in securing victory for the Union.