Civil War Navies

The North and South waged war on the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, the Gulf of Mexico, and the rivers of the mainland.  The naval war shaped the strategic and economic fortunes of the contending nations throughout the struggle.  The war also saw the first battle between ironclad ships, the introduction of sea mines and revolving gun turrets, and the first successful use of submarines – changing the trajectory of naval warfare around the globe.

At a Glance


    • January 9, 1861 - Citadel cadets fire on the Star of the West
    • August 1861 - January, 1862 - The Trent Affair
    • November 7, 1861 - The Battle of Port Royal
    • February 6-16, 1862 - Union riverboats shell Forts Henry and Donelson
    • March 9, 1862 - The USS Monitor and the CSS Virginia fight the world's first ironclad battle
    • April 4, 1862 - The garrison of Island No. 10 surrenders to Union gunboats
    • May 1, 1862 - Admiral David Farragut captures New Orleans
    • May 15, 1862 - Fort Darling on Drewry's Bluff repulses Union gunboats seven miles from Richmond
    • June 6, 1862 - The Confederate River Defense Fleet is decimated at the Battle of Memphis
    • March 11-16, 1863 - The Confederate Fort Pemberton repulses an expedition up the Yazoo River
    • April 16-17, 1863 - Union ships run the batteries at Vicksburg, MS
    • February 17, 1864 - The H.L. Hunley sinks the USS Housatonic
    • April 17-October 28, 1864 - The CSS Albemarle seizes control of the Roanoke River
    • June 19, 1864 - USS Kearsarge vs. CSS Alabama
    • August 2-5, 1864 - The Battle of Mobile Bay
    • October 7, 1864 - CSS Florida captured in port at Bahia, Brazil
    • January 15, 1865 - Union transports land soldiers at Fort Fisher, NC
    • November 6, 1865 - The surrender of the CSS Shenandoah


Naval historian Dr. Craig Symonds describes the action between the ironclad CSS Virginia and the wooden warships of the Federal fleet in Hampton Roads on March 8, 1862. Watch the Video »

Historian Terry Winschel describes the important role that the Federal naval forces played in the Vicksburg Campaign. Watch the Video »

More Videos »

Related Biographies

David G. Farragut
David Dixon Porter
Andrew Hull Foote
John L. Worden
Frederick Crocker
Franklin Buchanan
Raphael Semmes

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