“The Absence of Decisive Results”: British Assessments of Union Combined Operations

Howard J. Fuller

in Union Combined Operations in the Civil War

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print March 2010 | ISBN: 9780823232864
Published online March 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823240777 | DOI:

Series: The North's Civil War

“The Absence of Decisive Results”: British Assessments of Union Combined Operations

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Well before the Civil War erupted in 1861, military professionals in both Britain and the United States had sought to learn lessons from one another about the changing nature of modern war. British scrutiny of Union combined operations in the Civil War led to a reconsideration of the empire's entire defense establishment. While many whistled in the dark by attributing Union failures at Charleston and elsewhere to inferior soldiery and poor leadership, many more recognized that the lessons of Sevastopol—and of Charleston—compelled a reassessment of Britain's historical reliance on blue-water battleships. In the end, however, the reconsideration stopped short of revolution. Coastal flotillas, even ironclad flotillas, might be the key to victory at places like Charleston, but only in places like Charleston; for most British strategic thinkers, the blue-water battle fleet remained the sine qua non of naval power.

Keywords: Civil War; Union; military professionals; defense; battleships; flotillas

Chapter.  9763 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas

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