At the beginning of the Civil War, Southern militias moved swiftly to secure the military assets within their borders. In several instances, the action required no more than demanding the key to the fort from a lone ordnance sergeant. By and large these seizures were peaceful, and in one case the militia even signed a receipt. Yet what had the South achieved? Most of these forts were little more than damp dungeons sheltering time-worn cannon, some of the War of 1812 and Mexican War vintage.
Forts are, by nature, defensive structures. Thus the South dug in and waited for the Northern invaders. And they came. But they came mostly by ship and, in the case of the inland waterways and rivers, by boat―gunboat. Although more Yankee sailors were lost to exploding weaponry than to Rebel fire, naval barrages were relentles, and more forts were abandoned than defended.
Dave Page's Ships Versus Shore narrates ship-to-shore engagements in the eleven states of the Confederacy along their riverways as well as their coasts. A brief tour guide follows each description, noting what visitors can find today when they see the area. Page has visited each site and notes what remains of the Confederate forts and what historical places have been preserved that were part of the nearby struggle. The text is illustrated with 130 photos and engravings.