David Knights' Weblog

September 15, 2013

Book Review: Confederate Blockade Runner 1861-1865

Filed under: Modeling — dknights @ 7:37 pm
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Book Review: Confederate Blockade Runner 1861-1865
By Angus Konstam
Osprey New Vanguard Series #92
ISBN 1 84176 636 4
48 pages
8 pages of color illustrations
Price $13.50 at Scale Reproductions Inc.

To me, one of the fascinating parts of the civil war is the naval war.  It was a time of great advances in naval technology.  The first battle between armored ships took place and by the end of the civil war, the era of the wooden ship was firmly at an end.  Additionally, the size and power of naval guns grew exponentially to keep up with new armored ships.

I’ve got a particular interest in the part of the naval war that revolved around blockade running.  The idea of fast greyhound-like ships sneaking in and out of southern ports and trying to avoid the, by the end of the war, massive U.S. naval power guarding those ports.  Sadly, there aren’t a lot of books on the blockade running ships themselves.  Thus, this book, published in 2004 fills a void.

The book is by no means comprehensive.  It is only 48 pages, with 8 of those devoted to color illustrations of various blockade runners.  Amazingly there are quite a number of period photos in this book of various blockade runners.  The author has done a good job of gathering these and they serve to illustrate the wide variety of ships that were used as blockade runners.

The text is well written and is easy to read.  It covers blockade running from the early years, when almost any ship could be pressed into service as a blockade runner, to the end of the war, when, one by one, the southern ports were closed and the remaining ones were more closely guarded.  The tightening of the blockade, and the money that could be made from even a single successful trip lead to purpose-built ships being manufactured to break the blockade.  Most of these were made in Great Britain.  Camouflage was also to see its first appearance in naval warfare as blockade runners were painted shades of black and gray in an attempt to make them less visible to the Union navy patrol ships.

This book is a welcome addition on a subject that has not been sufficiently documented.  Sadly, for the modeler, there aren’t any plastic or resin kits of a civil war blockade runner.  I hope that Flagship models or one of the other “cottage industry” manufacturers will remedy this in the future. I recommend this book.  My only criticism of the book is that by the end of its 48 pages, you find yourself wanting more.

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