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Miserable business of war afloat : the August 1864 cruise of the CSS Tallahassee

UNCW Author/Contributor (non-UNCW co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Michael D. Robinson (Creator)
Institution
The University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW )
Web Site: http://library.uncw.edu/
Advisor
Alan Watson

Abstract: The focus of this thesis is the August 1864 cruise of the Confederate commerce raider CSS Tallahassee. Commanded by John Taylor Wood, the cruise up and down the coasts of New York and New England lasted only twenty days but resulted in the destruction or bonding of thirty-one merchant vessels. Naval historians have addressed this cruise as an isolated example of Confederate commerce raiding and failed to place the cruise in the larger context of the war. This study is an attempt to investigate the cruise in greater depth and breadth. The mission was specifically designed to alleviate the pressure of the Federal blockade off Wilmington and harass the Union merchant marine, but other motivations have not been adequately examined. This thesis ties the cruise of the Tallahassee into the grand strategy of the Confederacy in the summer of 1864, including plan to secure independence by influencing the United States presidential election of November 1864. The reaction of the Northern populace to the cruise is considered, as well as effect the cruise had on Anglo-Confederate relations. Finally, in addition to providing a glimpse of the cruise itself, the long-term implications of the cruise are considered. Ironically, the cruise contributed to the downfall of the Confederate States of America. Northern officials and the press viewed the Tallahassee as a pirate, strengthening the call to close the port from whence the raider embarked, Wilmington, North Carolina. The disagreements among Confederate leaders over the cruise highlighted other problems that plagued the Confederacy. The object of this study is to bring the motivations and ramifications of this cruise to light. Historians have only recounted the events of the cruise without carefully considering why the cruise was designed or the overarching results of the mission. Careful primary and secondary research was undertaken for this thesis. While this study fits into the realm of naval and military history, the writer uses the fields of political history, diplomatic history, and social history to better tell the story of the CSS Tallahassee.

Additional Information

Publication
Thesis
A Thesis Submitted to the University of North Carolina at Wilmington in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirement for the Degree of Masters of Arts
Language: English
Date: 2009
Keywords
Confederate States of America Navy--History, CSS Tallahassee (Cruiser), United States--History--Civil War 1861-1865
Subjects
United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865
Confederate States of America. Navy -- History
CSS Tallahassee (Cruiser)