Life in Jefferson Davis' Navy

  • Subject: Civil War | Clear the Decks Up to 80% OFF
  • Format:
  • Pages:
  • Published:
    April 15, 2019
  • ISBN-10:
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  • Product Dimensions:
    9 × 6 × 1 in
  • Product Weight:
    22 oz
Hardcover $17.40
Book: Cover Type


The Civil War is often considered a “soldiers’ war,” but Life in Jefferson Davis’ Navy acknowledges the legacy of service of the officers and sailors of the Confederate States Navy. In this full-length study, Barbara Brooks Tomblin addresses every aspect of a Confederate seaman’s life, from the risks of combat to the everyday routines which sustained those sailing for the stars and bars. Drawing upon diaries, letters, newspaper accounts, and published works, Tomblin offers a fresh look at the wartime experiences of the officers and men in the Confederate Navy, including those who served on gunboats, ironclads, and ships on western rivers and along the coast and at Mobile Bay, as well as those who sailed on the high seas aboard the Confederate raiders Sumter, Alabama, Florida, and Shenandoah.

The author also explores the daily lives, deprivations, and sufferings of the sailors who were captured and spent time in Union prisoner of war camps at Point Lookout, Elmira, Camp Chase, Johnson’s Island, Ship Island, and Fort Delaware. Confederate prisoners’ journals and letters give an intimate account of their struggle, helping modern audiences understand the ordeals of the defeated in the Civil War.

About the Author

Editorial Reviews

“Barbara Brooks Tomlin draws extensively on letters, journals, and the official records to discuss such topics as shipboard routine, medical care, discipline and desertion. Extensive quotation allows the individuals to speak for themselves in this most welcome addition to our understanding of the Confederate States Navy during the Civil War.” —Spencer C. Tucker, author of Blue and Gray Navies, is a retired professor and holder of the John Biggs Chair of Military History at the Virginia Military Institute
“Though studies of camp life in Civil War armies have been available for decades, Barbara Brooks Tomblin is the first to provide us with a study of daily life in the Confederate Navy. Hers is not a statistical analysis; instead she mined memoirs, newspapers, and diaries to offer a myriad number of personal glimpses into all the various aspects of a Confederate sailor's life.” —Craig L. Symonds, Ernest J. King Professor of Maritime History, U.S. Naval War College and author of World War II at Sea
“There is finally a major publication dedicated to the life of the Confederate sailor. In Life in Jefferson Davis' Navy, Dr. Barbara Tomblin lavishly draws upon a plethora of letters, diaries and journals to weave a fascinating story about the southern tar. She includes every aspect of their daily life at sea and ashore including topics from enlistment, victuals, discipline, courage under fire, illness, liberty and the hardships of prison life. Dr. Tomblin has accomplished for the Confederate Navy what Bell Irvin Wiley did for Johnny Reb over a half century ago. Her outstanding work is a masterpiece ready to take its place in the annals of Naval and Civil War literature.” —Commander Dennis J. Ringle, USN (Ret.), author of Life in Mr. Lincoln's Navy
Expanding Civil War naval scholarship, Tomblin provides a vivid portrait of daily life in the Confederate Navy along the coastal, blue, and brown waters. Utilizing sailors' own words, she recreates their shipboard routine, highlighting the highs of combat and liberty as well as the doldrums, disease, and deprivations of duty. --Laura June Davis, Assistant Professor of History, Southern Utah University
“The study adopts a pretty comprehensive perspective on what it was like to be a Confederate sailor. Chapters cover recruitment, shipboard induction, duties and routine, how sailors spent their free time, naval discipline, healthcare, and the POW experience.” —Civil War Books and Authors
“The body of record data that would allow more complex statistical analysis of many important aspects of Confederate naval service is unavailable to researchers; however, through focused archival research and skilled synthesis of the current literature, Tomblin is nevertheless able to piece together a richly expansive portrait of officer and sailor life at sea and on land. A very useful addressing of a neglected topic, Life in Jefferson Davis' Navy is highly recommended.” —Civil War Books and Authors
Life in Jefferson Davis’ Navy is an important book for anyone interested in the Civil War, and especially its naval side.” —StrategyPage
“Drawing heavily upon primary sources, such as diaries, journals, letters, and newspapers, Dr. Tomblin has crafted quite an interesting narrative of life in the CSN…. A fine study, which is heartily recommended.” —The Journal of America’s Military Past
Life in Jefferson Davis' Navy [by] naval historian Barbara Brooks Tomblin provides welcome insights into the dangers and drudgeries of daily life for CSN officers, sailors, and marines…. Life in Jefferson Davis' Navy should be required reading for all students and specialists concerned with the CSN, the homefront experience of the Confederacy as a whole, or US naval history more broadly.” —Michigan War Studies Review
“Tomblin has performed a great service in exploring the conditions faced by the Confederate officer and sailor. Her work on the daily life in Jefferson’s navy will serve as an important jumping off point for future research into this subject. In the end, she leaves us with the appreciation that the Confederate naval officer and seaman were like most others (certainly those in the Union Navy). Most worked hard to learn the tasks at hand, fought to win, enjoyed their free time, played and prayed. They shaped their world as best they could, sometimes parting ways with the navy, but mainly they sought to support the Southern cause, afloat or ashore.” —The Northern Mariner / Le marin du nord