Chapter

Contraband Pilots

Barbara Brooks Tomblin

in Bluejackets and Contrabands

Published by University Press of Kentucky

Published in print August 2009 | ISBN: 9780813125541
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780813135311 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5810/kentucky/9780813125541.003.0007
Contraband Pilots

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Of all the important contributions by African Americans to the Union Navy's North and South Atlantic Blockading Squadrons and Potomac Flotilla, none proved as valuable as that made by skilled black coastal pilots. Suddenly called on to enforce a blockade of almost 3,500 miles of southern coastline, much of it deprived of functioning lighthouses and stripped of navigational markers, the Navy Department quickly realized a need for experienced, loyal pilots. At the beginning of the Civil War, senior Union Navy commanders looked first to officers of the U.S. Coast Survey for assistance in piloting vessels in and out of harbors, surveying coastal waters, and other navigational missions. When the Blockade Strategy Board met in the summer of 1861, it recommended that a Coast Survey vessel be assigned to each of the principal blockading squadrons to complete surveys of portions of the coast not already done.

Keywords: African Americans; Union Navy; Blockading Squadrons; Potomac Flotilla; pilots; U.S. Coast Survey; Blockade Strategy Board

Chapter.  9482 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of the Americas

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