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Ironclads and Columbiads: The Civil War in North Carolina: The Coast

William R. Trotter

John F. Blair, Publisher
$12.95 paperback
5 ½ x 8 ½          
456 pages
Published in 1989

Ironclads and Columbiads recounts the exciting battles and events that shook the coast of North Carolina during America's bloodiest war. Throughout the Civil War, North Carolina's coast was of great strategic importance to the Confederacy. Its well-protected coastline offered a perfect refuge for privateers who sallied forth and captured so many Union merchant vessels in the early days of the war that maritime insurance companies in the North went into a panic, forcing the government to mount an expedition against Cape Hatteras. North Carolina's coastal counties and the state's coastal railroad system were vital to the feeding and resupply of Robert E. Lee's army. And even after the tightening blockade and powerful Federal assaults closed off the ports of Charleston, New Orleans, and Mobile, Wilmington continued to provide a haven for blockade runners. That city eventually became the most strategically important location in the entire Confederacy. To subdue Fort Fisher, which stoutly defended Wilmington, the Union was forced to assemble what was then the largest naval and amphibious landing force in American history.

There was so much fighting along the sounds and rivers of North Carolina that the United States Navy ordered crash courses in those Civil War campaigns when it became involved in river warfare during the Vietnam conflict.

The story of the coastal war is one of frustrations, missed opportunities for both sides, lopsided victories, and heartbreaking defeats, illuminated at every turn by flashes of extraordinary bravery and tactical brilliance. This book tells that story in more detail than it has ever previously been told.



“This is one of the most excellent books I have ever read on the subject to the Civil War in North Carolina or any other theatre. It easily grabs your attention early on and holds on to it throughout the remainder of the book. It reads splendidly and the author does an excellent job in describing all aspects. Trotter definitely deserves serious recognition. It should be considered a major contribution to the Civil War reading community and a must for any serious student of the Civil War.”
Amazon.com reviewer