Many of us know a lot about the Civil War, or at least some of the battles that were fought, some of the main players, and what it was about. But how many of us know names like Will Cushing, John Ericsson, Gideon Welles (A.K.A. Father Neptune) or Gustavus Fox? If you are like me, I didn’t… until I read this book.
When war broke out between the states, it became a main strategy for the Union government to try to squeeze the life out of the South. The way they sought to do this was through a plan called Anaconda. If the South couldn’t get their goods to markets, they had no money to fight a war and no way to get in needed supplies. So how to stop them? But not letting any of their ships out. Of course, the South had a large coastline. Virtually all of the states that seceded from the Union had a coastline. This meant the Union had a lot of water to cover. And when the war began, they had four ships! Yes, just four! They had a shipyard that could make more, but, it was in Virginia and they lost the yard when Virginia seceded. Not only did they lose the shipyard, but their best ship at the time called the Merrimack.
How on earth would the Union be able to stop the South when they had the shipyards AND the Union’s top ship?
Big Bad Ironclad! by Nathan Hale is a super fast read and really informative about the battle for the coastline during the Civil War. Highly recommended for its readability as well as just a great story and learning about one of the more daring sailors of the time and the pranks he pulled, and got away with, was great fun.
Recommended for grades 6 and up.