Under the Blue Pennant or Notes of a Naval Officer: John W. Grattan Acting Ensign, United States Navy Officer

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9780471240433: Under the Blue Pennant or Notes of a Naval Officer: John W. Grattan Acting Ensign, United States Navy Officer
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"Rare . . . gives us insights into how Union naval officers thought, how they lived . . . entertaining and informative for the general reader and a mine of material for the specialist."-Journal of Military History

"A small, long-submerged treasure that will reward those willing to give in to the unfamiliar waters of the Civil War's naval history."-Civil War Book Reviews "A surprisingly lively and modern read . . . a welcome addition to our knowledge of the lives of men who served in the Civil War."-Kirkus Reviews
"Fresh and highly revealing." -Richmond Times-Dispatch
Now available in paperback, this highly acclaimed eyewitness account of the Civil War at sea provides fascinating insights into command decisions made on the bridge as well as life below deck. Recently discovered in the Library of Congress archives, this memoir was written just after the Civil War by John Grattan, an ensign in the Union navy who witnessed some of the war's most significant naval operations.

Under the editorship of acclaimed naval historian Robert Schneller, Grattan's account of the crucial struggle for control of the Atlantic seaboard bristles with the tension of combat. With sharply etched details of blockade running, guerrilla warfare, fierce underwater battles, the brutal advance on Richmond, and visits to the front lines by President Abraham Lincoln, this rare memoir includes personal observations of key naval and military leaders and rescues less-celebrated heroes from obscurity. Sparkling with Victorian wit, this from-the-front report opens a window into the lives of ordinary soldiers and the men who led them into war.

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Review:

The Union Navy played an essential role in winning the Civil War. Its blockade of more than 3,000 miles of Southern coastline, joint operations with the Union army, and pursuit of Rebel commerce raiders helped secure the 1865 Union victory over the Confederacy. While the majority of Civil War histories focus on the personalities and battles of the Union Army, few explore Union naval operations and their importance. John W. Grattan's journal, Under the Blue Pennant, or Notes of a Naval Officer 1863-1865, helps to fill this historical void.

Grattan served for two years as clerk and aide to the squadron commander aboard the flagship of the largest Union naval command, the North Atlantic Blocking Squadron. Editor Robert J. Schneller presents Grattan's narrative essentially in its original form, adding a 50-page introduction and explanatory notes to provide important background information and place the narrative's events in historical context. The journal, written in unembellished Victorian prose, provides rare eyewitness observations of daily life at sea, the hopes and fears of inexperienced soldiers, and the military leaders that commanded them. Grattan's sketches provide glimpses of real war, and Schneller's illustrations and maps further bring to life an important episode in our nation's military history. --Bertina Loeffler Sedlack

From the Inside Flap:

Under the Blue Pennant or Notes of a Naval Officer 1863–1865 An eyewitness account of the Civil War at sea, now published for the first time, Under the Blue Pennant provides fascinating insights into command decisions made on the quarterdeck as well as life below deck. Long languishing in the Library of Congress archives, this memoir was written just after the Civil War by Acting Ensign John Grattan, a staff officer in the Union navy who witnessed some of the war’s most significant naval operations. Grattan served on board the flagship of the largest Union naval command, the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron. This ragtag fleet denied the Confederacy vital supplies and provided a menacing presence in Virginia and North Carolina waters. The flagship flew the blue pennant to signal the presence of the admiral in command of the squadron. Under the editorship of acclaimed naval historian Robert Schneller, Grattan’s account of the crucial struggle for control of the Atlantic seaboard bristles with the tension of combat, featuring sharply etched details of guerrilla warfare, the brutal effectiveness of the ironclads, the ever-present threat of Rebel snipers ashore, and the often fatal run-ins with the ingeniously inventive Confederate "torpedoes," as mines were then called. Serving as a clerk and aide to the squadron commander, Grattan had access to details not only of the missions of his own ship but of the naval operations along the Rebel shore as a whole. Grattan provides fresh details on the intricacies of blockade running, the brutal battles of the ironclads, the ill-starred advance on Richmond by Major General Benjamin F. Butler, and visits to the front line by President Lincoln, including his triumphant tour of Richmond just days before his assassination. Grattan’s narrative includes personal observations of key naval and military leaders, such as Admiral David D. Porter, Rear Admiral Samuel Phillips Lee, and Lieutenant Commander William B. Cushing, leader of the legendary attack on the fearsome Rebel ironclad Albemarle, and rescues less-celebrated heroes from obscurity. Perhaps most important, Under the Blue Pennant recounts Grattan’s own experiences and those of his shipmates. Grattan’s observations shed light on how Union naval officers and enlisted men spent their leisure time, dealt with the boredom of blockade duty, reacted to both victory and defeat, behaved under the stress of combat, and coped with death. Sparkling with Victorian wit, this memoir reveals the truth about social life at sea during the Civil War, including relations between naval officers and their African American stewards and the surprising social ties between North and South. Sketches and paintings by Grattan throughout the book provide glimpses of the real war.

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