One salty bluejacket

“Union Sailor with Remington Root sidehammer revolver” contributed by Ryan M. Cooper Nautical Antiques, Yarmouth Port, Maine, 2011, to the LOC.

The young bluejacket, whose name has been lost to time, witnessed the largest Naval expansion in the young nation’s history, prior to the Great War.

Beginning the conflict with just 42 ships in commission and another 48 in ordinary or on the builder’s ways, by the end of the war there were an amazing 671 under flag, although it should be noted that many of these were no more than armed coasters for blockade duty or small riverine vessels that could never venture offshore. While the 1865 Royal Navy was still king of the high seas, it could be argued that the USN was very much a contender to the throne at the time.

When South Carolina left the Union in Dec. 1860, the Navy had some 1,200 officers from midshipman on up and some 7,600 ratings organized under the 23rd SECNAV Isaac Toucey, a Connecticut lawyer and former senator with no prior military service. Over the course of the war, this would swell to a peak of 84,415 personnel of all ranks, to include an estimated 10,000 African-American Sailors– itself a larger force than the peacetime Navy alone.

The service during the conflict was headed by a man referred to interchangeably as “Poseidon” and “Father Neptune” (the latter by Lincoln), the 24th SECNAV, the formidable white-bearded Gideon Welles. He took over from Toucey in 1861 and at least had the prior experience of a military education (from Norwich) and having previously headed a bureau of the Navy for five years in the 1840s, back in the days when there was no CNO and bureau chiefs basically ran the service.

It did not come without a price. The Union Navy suffered 6,233 total casualties during the Civil War, including 4,523 deaths from all causes, a figure over half its pre-war size.

About laststandonzombieisland

Let me introduce myself. I am a bit of a conflict junkie. I am fascinated by war and warfare, assassination, personal protection and weaponry ranging from spud guns and flame throwers to thermonuclear bombs and Soviet-trained Ebola monkeys. In short, if it’s violent or a tool to create violence it is kind of my thing. I have written a few thousand articles on the dry encyclopedia side for such websites as, University of Guns, Outdoor Hub, Tac-44, History Times, Big Game Hunter, Glock Forum, Firearms, and Combat Forums; as well as for print publications like England Expects, and Strike First Strike Fast. Several magazines such as Sea Classics, Military Historian and Collector, Mississippi Sportsman and Warship International have carried my pieces. Additionally I am on staff as a naval consultant and writer for Eye Spy Intelligence Magazine. Currently I am working on several book projects including an alternative history novel about the US-German War of 1916, and a biography of Southern gadfly and soldier of fortune Bennett Doty. My first novel, about the coming zombie apocalypse was released in 2012 by Necro Publications and can be found at as was the prequel, Chimera-44. I am currently working on book two of that series: "Pirates of the Zombie Coast." In my day job I am a contractor for the U.S. federal government in what could best be described as the ‘Force Protection’ field. In this I am an NRA-certified firearms, and less-than-lethal combat instructor.

One response to “One salty bluejacket”

  1. Old 1811 says :

    Regarding the casualty figures: I read that, up until the Civil War, more U.S. Navy officers were killed in duels than in combat.
    They were a prickly bunch.

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