During the Civil War, the U.S. Coast Guard’s predecessor agency, the U.S. Revenue Cutter Service, took an active part in the conflict. With cutters escorting convoys, enforcing blockades, serving as military command ships, participating in brown-water combat and shore bombardments, and providing security to their homeports, they were a vital maritime force in the conflict. But that was only after Southern cuttermen made the difficult decision to defend either the Union or their home states.
After the election of Abraham Lincoln as President, the nation began splitting apart. Loyalties were divided from the top down at the Treasury Department, the Revenue Cutter Service’s executive agency. Treasury Secretary Howell Cobb, a Georgia native, resigned in December 1860 to assist with the secessionist movement. Cobb helped establish the Confederacy and later served as a major general in the Confederate Army.