Could the Confederate Navy have won the war?
While my ancestors fought and died in the great land battles of the War for Southern Independence, an almost unknown part of that war was being fought on the high seas and in the halls of European power.  A tiny fleet of Confederate Navy commerce raiders were making the Yankee pay for his perfidy.  Two of the most famous of those ships, CSS Alabama and CSS Florida, were built at the Laird Shipyard in Birkenhead, England.
Confederate Navy Secret Service Agent James Dunwoody Bulloch had  plans for a major addition to our fleet.  He signed a contract with the Laird Shipyard to build two ironclads that would be the most powerful warships on Earth.  Unlike previous ironclads these ships could sail the open ocean powered by sail or steam.  They would have twin cannon turrets and could attack Union ships and seaports with impunity.
In a letter to Secretary of the Navy Stephen Mallory, Bulloch put forth a plan for the use of these two vessels.  He proposed that they cross the Atlantic, break the blockade of Wilmington, re-provision, and sail northward culling the Union Navy of its non-swimmers.  Next stop: Washington, DC.
Imagine if you will, Confederate ironclads steaming up the Potomac River line astern, black smoke pouring out of their stacks, cannons booming, Second Nationals flapping in the breeze, and old dishonest Abe streaking across the White House lawn knuckles dragging in the dirt.  Glory be, what a sight to see!
After the destruction of Washington, the pride of the Confederate Navy could now steam further up the coast holding Union seaports for ransom and demanding payment in gold.  It would be the Yankee’s turn to howl.  But this was not to be. The British Government seized those ships before they could sail for the Confederacy.  France also stopped its shipyards from releasing any ships to the Confederate Navy.  There is no doubt that the United States used intense diplomatic pressure to prevent the sailing of those powerful warships.
I will forever believe that the two ironclads could have inflicted enough pain on the North to stop their aggression against the South.  The real high water mark of the Confederacy was in a British shipyard, not on some blood-soaked battlefield.
The imagination soars as to how different the face of North America and a large part of the World would now be if the Confederate ironclads had won victory for the South.  But that is a topic for another article.
Joe Jordan
Smyrna, GA