Short URL for this page:

[image ALT: Much of my site will be useless to you if you've got the images turned off!]
Bill Thayer

[image ALT: Cliccare qui per una pagina di aiuto in Italiano.]

[Link to a series of help pages]
[Link to the next level up]
[Link to my homepage]
This site is not affiliated with the US Naval Academy.

The Rebel Shore
The Story of Union Sea Power in the Civil War

James M. Merrill

With Illustrations

The Author and the Book

James Mercer Merrill (April 25, 1920 – March 22, 1995) was a historian who wrote a dozen or so books on American military and naval history, often of the War between the States. He won a Guggenheim Research Fellowship in 1958. In addition to the book before you, his published works include Quarter-deck and Fo'c'sle: The Exciting Story of the Navy (1963); Target Tokyo: The Halsey-Doolittle Raid (1964); Uncommon Valor: The Exciting Story of the Army (1964); Spurs to Glory: The Story of the United States Cavalry (1966); Battle Flags South: The Story of the Civil War Navies on Western Waters (1970); William Tecumseh Sherman (1971); The USA: A Short History of the American Republic (1975); A Sailor’s Admiral: A Biography of William F. Halsey (1976); and Du Pont, The Making of an Admiral: A Biography of Samuel Francis Du Pont (1986).

The Rebel Shore was his first book, in which he developed his doctoral thesis (University of California at Los Angeles, 1954), "Naval operations along the South Atlantic Coast, 1861‑1865". It has the merit of chronicling an aspect of the War between the States not often told; against which, at least one glaring inaccuracy which could easily have been avoided (p196, corrected by my own note), and the intrusive flaw of straining for vivid and somewhat novelistic writing, in which admirals "snarl" and "growl" and the like, and possibly spurious local color is sometimes added, as if any were needed. I'm not the only one to be bothered by that; agreeing for example with a brief book review in The Journal of Southern History, Vol. XXIV No. 2 (May 1958), pp256‑257, a mixed review in which John Sherman Long writes:

It is obvious that Professor Merrill desired to "breathe life" into his study. Some historians will be concerned over the source for Gideon Welles's "shivering" reaction to bad news. Other readers will be uncomfortable over the familiar use of "Si" for Silas, "Gus" for Gustavus, and "Frank" for Francis. Slang expressions such as "divvied up," "cleared out," "scared the daylights out of," and "dump the whole kit and caboodle" do not make any study "lively." Professor Merrill's penetrating feeling for his subject and his use of color­ful adjectives provide compensation, however. Rebel Shore presents new material and delightful reading on many previous obscure actions of the Confederate and Union naval forces.

On the other hand the same reviewer cavils that the full naval story is not told: the privateers, the battles in the Atlantic and on the Mississippi, etc. But I find that unfair. Prof. Merrill carefully circumscribed the scope of his book, as its very title indicates, and ultimately does a good job of bringing to life the confrontation of the two navies and the forts involved, of reporting the differences of opinion and infighting that racked both Yankee and Rebel commands, of detailing the main technical innovations brought out by the war, and of explaining the wider importance of the Union's operations against the Confederate shore.



Uncle Gideon Ups Anchor


"Glory! Glory! Glory!"


"For God's Sake, Surrender!"




"The Confederacy is a Gone Coon!"


Welles Unleashes Old Bulldog


Steel Corsets Get Unhooked


Submarines, Cigar Boards, and Infernal Machines


"Sixteen Bells!"


"The Smartest Damn Rascal That Ever Lived"


Repulse and Final Victory


Table of Illustrations
[There is no table in the printed book; supplied by me.]


Confederate ram Atlanta on James River after capture by Weehawken


Deck of the Union monitor Catskill


Wartime Savannah


USS Commodore Perry, a converted ferryboat


The blockade-runner R. E. Lee


Wreck of the blockade-runner Colt off Sullivans Island, South Carolina


Union monitor Nantucket after the war


Union steam sloop Richmond


Farragut's victory at Mobile Bay


Destruction of USS Westfield at Galveston, Texas


David D. Porter


Federal troops invade Port Royal


Samuel Francis Du Pont


Louis Goldsborough


David Farragut


Zouaves storm the Rebel batteries on Roanoke Island


Union monitor Weehawken buffeted by gale


Map of the Confederate Shoreline

Technical Details

Edition Used

The edition transcribed here appears to be the first and only one. It was © 1957, but the copyright was not renewed in 1984‑1985 as then required by law to maintain it, and the book has therefore been in the public domain since Jan. 1, 1986: details here on the copyright law involved.


In the printed edition the 17 illustrations, all photographs, are gathered in a single glossy signature following page 118. I've moved them to appropriate places in the text. The map is reproduced from the endpapers — front and back endpapers are identical — and I've put it on its own page: it opens in a separate window, to make it easy to track the text of any chapter.

For citation and indexing purposes, the pagination is shown in the right margin of the text at the page turns (like at the end of this line); p57  these are also local anchors. Sticklers for total accuracy will of course find the anchor at its exact place in the sourcecode.

In addition, I've inserted a number of other local anchors: whatever links might be required to accommodate the author's own cross-references, as well as a few others for my own purposes. If in turn you have a website and would like to target a link to some specific passage of the text, please let me know: I'll be glad to insert a local anchor there as well.


As almost always, I retyped the text by hand rather than scanning it — not only to minimize errors prior to proofreading, but as an opportunity for me to become intimately familiar with the work, an exercise which I heartily recommend: Qui scribit, bis legit. (Well-meaning attempts to get me to scan text, if success­ful, would merely turn me into some kind of machine: gambit declined.)

My transcription has been minutely proofread. In the table of contents above, the sections are shown on blue backgrounds, indicating that I believe the text of them to be completely errorfree; a red background would mean that the page had not been proofread. As elsewhere onsite, the header bar at the top of each chapter's webpage will remind you with the same color scheme.

The printed book was remarkably well proofread. The inevitable typographical errors were very few, and all trivial: I marked them with a dotted underscore like this: as elsewhere on my site, glide your cursor over the underscored words to read what was actually printed. Similarly, glide your cursor over bullets before measurements: they provide conversions to metric, e.g., 10 miles.

A number of odd spellings, curious turns of phrase, etc. have been marked <!‑‑ sic  in the sourcecode, just to confirm that they were checked. They are also few.

Any over­looked mistakes, please drop me a line, of course: especially if you have a copy of the printed book in front of you.

[image ALT: A schematic map of the southeastern quadrant of the present United States, in which the Confederate States are differentiated by color; offshore in the Atlantic, a fouled anchor insignia; and the shore between them sharply marked. The image serves as the icon on this site for the book 'The Rebel Shore' by James M. Merrill.]

The icon I use to indicate this subsite is the obvious one: the Confederacy in grey, the Union Navy commanding the sea, and the shore between them.

[image ALT: Valid HTML 4.01.]

Site updated: 25 Sep 21