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Writing and Researching Vermont Blue-Jackets in the Civil War

Obviously, any work on Vermonters in the Civil War starts with two fundamental books, George G. Benedict's Vermont in the Civil War (Free Press Association, Burlington, Vt., 2 vols., 1886, 1888) and Vermont Adjutant General Theodore Peck's compilation, Revised Roster of Vermont Volunteers (Watchman Publishing Co., Montpelier, Vt., 1892). As previously mentioned, they are lacking somewhat in detail on the Navy and Marine Corps, but provide names of sailors and ships and numerous clues on which to build a more substantive study.

The Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, (U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C., 1864-1927), like their Army counterpart, are the premier primary source of official documents available. Robert Wilden Neeser's Statistical and Chronological History of the United States Navy 1775-1907. (Burt Franklin, New York, 1909, 1970 reprint) is an indispensable aid to finding details on actions, composition of squadrons, details on prizes, etc. Detailed ship specifications and histories are available in the online edition of the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships, courtesy of the Naval Historical Center, Washington, D.C. Finally, Donald L. Canney's Lincoln's Navy: The Ships, Men and Organization, 1861-65 (Conway Maritime Press, London, 1998) is a valuable resource for many of the mundane, but important details of pay, organization, ranks, shore facilities, tactics and uniforms, etc.

Short biographical sketches of some officers are available in the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. Detailed biographical information is in shorter supply. George Dewey's Autobiography of George Dewey, Admiral of the Navy (Charles Scribner's Sons, New York, 1913, 1987 reprint) and Rear Admiral Charles Clark's My Fifty Years in the Navy (Little, Brown and Company, Boston, 1917, 1984 reprint) provide excellent first-hand detail on their Civil War experiences. The Washington (D.C.) Sunday Star, 14 June 1908, contains an interesting interview with Rear Admiral Edward Dunham Robie. There are, unfortunately, no additional substantive biographies readily available. Capsule biographies for some officers are available online at www.famousamericans.net, which is a virtual version of Appleton's Encyclopedia. For the existence and location of some officers' papers, see Sources on U.S. Naval History in the United States.

Ivan Musicant, recipient of the Samuel Eliot Morison Award for Naval Literature, weaves a compelling tale of the maritime aspects of the Civil War in his Divided Waters, the Naval History of the Civil War (Castle Books, Edison, N.J., 2000). Jack Coombe's Thunder Along the Mississippi (Sarpedon, New York, 1996), Gunfire Around the Gulf (Bantam Books, New York, 1999) and Gunsmoke Over the Atlantic (Bantam Books, New York, 2003) are excellent, easy to read narratives of Civil War naval warfare. Robert J. Browning's Success Is All That Was Expected: The South Atlantic Blockading Squadron during the Civil War, (Brassey's, Washington: D.C., 2002) and From Cape Charles to Cape Fear: The North Atlantic Blockading Squadron During the Civil War, (University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa, 1993) detail the critical role the Navy played along the Atlantic coast.


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