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Civil War: Naval Engagements

With the vastly superior sea power built up by Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles , the Union established a blockade of the Southern coast, which, though by no means completely effective, nevertheless limited the South's foreign trade to the uncertain prospects of blockade-running. In cooperation with the army the Union navy also attacked along the coasts. The forts guarding New Orleans, the largest Confederate port, fell (Apr. 28, 1862) to a fleet under David G. Farragut , and the city was occupied by troops commanded by Benjamin F. Butler (1818–93). The introduction of the ironclad warship (see Monitor and Merrimack ) had revolutionized naval warfare, to the ultimate advantage of the industrial North. On the other hand, Confederate cruisers , built or bought in England (see Alabama claims ) and captained by men such as Raphael Semmes , destroyed or chased from the seas much of the U.S. merchant marine.

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