Lincoln and His Admirals

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"Beginning with a gripping account of the attempt to re-supply Fort Sumter - a comedy of errors that shows all too clearly the fledgling president's inexperience - Symonds traces Lincoln's steady growth as a wartime commander in chief. Absent a secretary of defense, he would eventually become de facto commander of joint operations along the coast and on the rivers. Part of that involved dealing with the men who ran the navy: the loyal but often cranky navy secretary Gideon Welles, the quiet and reliable David G. Farragut, the flamboyant and
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2008-10-17 Hardcover First Edition New in New jacket 2008 First Edition, w/full number line. Hardcover w/l.n. dust jacket. Clean, tight, bright w/no tears, marks or ... highlighting. Minor edge wear. From The Civil War Book Shop-As close as your computer; as dependable as old Abe. Read more Show Less

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Lincoln and His Admirals

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Overview

"Beginning with a gripping account of the attempt to re-supply Fort Sumter - a comedy of errors that shows all too clearly the fledgling president's inexperience - Symonds traces Lincoln's steady growth as a wartime commander in chief. Absent a secretary of defense, he would eventually become de facto commander of joint operations along the coast and on the rivers. Part of that involved dealing with the men who ran the navy: the loyal but often cranky navy secretary Gideon Welles, the quiet and reliable David G. Farragut, the flamboyant and unpredictable Charles Wilkes, the ambitious ordnance expert John Dahlgren, the well-connected Samuel Phillips Lee, and the self-promoting and gregarious David Dixon Porter." In this portrait of the president and the admirals under his command, Symonds offers a unique and illuminating account of Lincoln and the nation at war.
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Editorial Reviews

Michael F. Bishop
Symonds…charts Lincoln's development from uncertain amateur to masterful leader…through the refreshingly unfamiliar prism of naval affairs…Lincoln and His Admirals is that rare thing, an important Lincoln book of genuine originality.
—The Washington Post
Library Journal

Lincoln 's role as commander-in-chief during the Civil War is most often assessed through his dealings with his Union generals; thus, Symonds's expert and accessible work on the naval side is a real boon. He gives us a meticulous and graceful interpretive narrative, rich with primary-source anecdote, of Lincoln's relationship with the U.S. Navy and his evolution as a naval strategist. Symonds (emeritus, U.S. Naval Academy; Decision at Sea) keeps the characters central to his story, from the crusty, haphazardly bewigged secretary of the navy, Gideon Welles, to whom the new President confessed, "I know but little about ships," to assistant naval secretary Gustavus Vasa Fox and admirals with such familiar names as Farragut, Porter, DuPont, and Dahlgren. The Department of War and the Department of the Navy were cabinet coequals in Lincoln's time. Lincoln's dedication to the latter in pursuit of coastal and river dominance was crucial to Civil War victory. Essential for all Lincoln collections.

[For a review of Tantor Media's audiobook of William Lee Miller's President Lincoln: The Duty of a Statesman, see p. 179.-Ed.]


—Margaret Heilbrun
Kirkus Reviews
A former history professor at the Naval Academy examines Lincoln's growth as commander in chief through his relations with the United States Navy. Lincoln's invention of a device to lift boats over river shoals belied his early confession to Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles that "I know but little about ships." The Civil War forced the 16th president to know a lot more, and Symonds (Decision at Sea: Five Naval Battles That Shaped American History, 2005, etc.) expertly demonstrates how he learned about ships, strategy, new technologies and, above all, about dealing with the fractious personalities to whom he delegated naval operations. At crucial times throughout the war, Lincoln asserted himself as advocate or arbitrator, sorting out quarrels among the dutiful but rebarbative Welles, who deeply resented interference in his department with Secretary of State William Seward and Secretary of War Edwin Stanton. Lincoln also oversaw the officious Gustavus Fox and subtly shaped the careers of senior officers like ordnance expert John A. Dahlgren and the initially successful, finally disappointing Samuel Francis Du Pont. Symonds limns these and many other striking personalities and examines the signal naval incidents of the war, including the unsuccessful effort to resupply Fort Sumter; the Kearsarge's sinking of the notorious Confederate raider Alabama; the blockade of Southern ports; the Trent affair; the historic battle of the ironclads Monitor and Merrimack; David Dixon Porter's gunboats mastery, which helped capture Vicksburg; and David Farragut's heroics at Mobile Bay. But the focus remains on Lincoln-how he mastered people and the problems touching the Navy and his direction of theriver, harbor and ocean war that proved every bit as crucial to Union success as the more celebrated battlefield victories. For scholars and the general reader alike, an insightful and highly readable treatment of a neglected dimension of Lincoln's wartime leadership. See also James M. McPherson's forthcoming Tried By War (2008) for a broader portrait of Lincoln's role as commander in chief.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195310221
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 10/17/2008
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 448
  • Product dimensions: 6.50 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Craig L. Symonds is Professor Emeritus at the U.S. Naval Academy and the author of ten previous books, including Decision at Sea: Five Naval Battles that Shaped American History, which won the Theodore and Franklin D. Roosevelt Prize in 2006.

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Table of Contents

1861: Getting Under Way

1 "What Have I Done Wrong?": Lincoln and the Fort Sumter Crisis 3

2 "A Competent Force": Lincoln and the Blockade 37

3 "No Affront to the British Flag": Lincoln and the Trent Affair 71

1862: Charting a Course

4 "Rain the Rebels Out": Lincoln and the River War 101

5 "It Strikes Me There's Something in It": Lincoln and the Monitor 130

6 "We Cannot Escape History": Lincoln and the Contrabands 157

1863: Troubled Waters

7 "The Peninsula All Over Again": Lincoln, Charleston, and Vicksburg 187

8 "I Shall Have to Cut This Knot": Lincoln as Adjudicator 220

9 "Peace Does Not Appear So Distant as It Did": Lincoln and Wartime Politics 250

1864: Full Speed Ahead

10 "A Worthy Object": Lincoln and the Red River Campaign 279

11 "A Vote of Thanks": Lincoln and the Politics of Promotion 306

12 "I Must Refer You to General Grant": Lincoln Relinquishes the Conn 332

1865: Final Harbor

Epilogue: "Thank God That I Have Lived to See This": Lincoln and the End of the War 355

Abbreviations Used in Notes 367

Notes 369

Bibliography 407

Index 417

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