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Other Presents

June 2024
1min read


Far be it from me to quarrel with an eminent historian like James M. McPherson about his article on alternate history (“Gettysburg, 1862”), but when I last closed my Civil War history book, the Union navy had all Confederate sea and river ports captured or blockaded.

Would foreign powers recognize as a nation a landlocked Confederacy that couldn’t even exchange ambassadors other than by a successful blockade run? Would Britain and France have brought their powerful navies to bear against the weaker Union navy in order to open links to this new Confederate nation? The influence of seapower has once more been overlooked, even though in 1862 Alfred Mahan had yet to write about it.

Incidentally, isn’t it ironic that the tiny Confederate navy proved such a tactical and technological innovator pioneering with mines, submarines, and so forth? Lucky for the North the South had no resources to fund these new concepts as the Germans were to do so successfully.

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