Around the time of the American Civil War the land military (that is the Army) had its sympathies on the cause of the Confederacy, in my opinion, due to the make up of the military officers of the time being mostly from the American South. Many of the leaders and military commanders were from Southern states and their sympathies tended to be towards their home states. The US Navy around the same time must have had an officer core that came in a majority from somewhere, but I've not seen any written materials that have investigated this.

What was the composition of the US Navy around this time? Were they in a majority from Northern states that already had a naval culture? Granted the US Navy was relatively small at this time but those people had to come from somewhere and I am interested in knowing where to sort of gauge where their sympathies might have lie.

1 Answer 1


Unlike the Army, where a disproportionate number of officers came from the South, the U.S. navy was pretty much dominated by the North. One evidence of this was the fact that the fleet in Norfolk, Virginia, was scuttled by its sailors to prevent in from falling into the hands of the South. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Monitor

A major reason that the Union blockade was successful was that nearly all the ships (with the notable exception of the iron Merrimac, renamed the Virginia), stayed with the Union.

  • This shouldn't surprise anyone, as all the major shipping concerns at the time were northern enterprises. For the most part the USA was a giant cotton/tobacco agribusiness with the southerners doing the growing and the northerners doing the shipping and financing.
    – T.E.D.
    Aug 26, 2012 at 22:02
  • This is what I expected but was not completely sure. Thanks!
    – MichaelF
    Aug 27, 2012 at 12:01
  • For great coverage of the naval aspect, see McPherson's 2012 book, War on the Waters: The Union and Confederate Navies 1861-1865. The naval side is pretty under-represented in the main & popular literature; that book is a great start at redressing.
    – JimZipCode
    Dec 18, 2014 at 14:47
  • I wonder if the seafaring tradition of New England contributed to many from the north being in the navy.
    – Jeff
    Aug 12, 2017 at 6:43
  • @Jeff: I think that's probably right.
    – Tom Au
    Aug 12, 2017 at 9:27

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