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The  navy  of  the  American  Revolution  was fragmented  into  many  parts,  each  often  acting independently of the others. For instance, several naval engagements between the Americans and the British actually occurred before the Continental Congress   authorized   a   navy.   Congress   finally authorized  a  naval  committee  and  ordered  the purchase and fitting out of a number of ships in October   1775.   Thus,   the   American   navy   had officially   begun;   but   some   time   would   elapse before  it  would  have  any  great  effect  on  the mighty British navy. The  first  warships  of  the  Continental  navy, built  during  the  revolutionary  war  and  into  the 19th century, were classified into three types of naval  vessels: Ships-of-the-line —The   battleships   of the sailing days, these ships were the largest of  all  sailing  warships.  These  battleships carried 64 to over 100 guns of various sizes. While  the  British  maintained  several  of these ships during the revolutionary war, America did not build any until long after the  war’s  end. Frigates —These   vessels   were   the cruisers  of  the  18th  century.  They  were smaller and usually faster than the average ships-of-the-line  and  carried  28  to  44  guns. Sloops-of-war—These were small, sail- ing warships that carried 10 to 20 guns. In  addition,  the  Continental  Congress  and individual  states  commissioned  independent  fleets of privateers to capture enemy merchant ships as prizes  of  war. A typical vessel of the fleet of privateers was the  schooner.  The  schooner  was  a  small,  fast, maneuverable   ship   that   carried   smoothbore cannons.  The  size  and  flexibility  of  such  ships proved  to  be  an  advantage  that  eventually  helped the  colonists  break  the  British  stronghold  on  New England  harbors.  Being  small  and  maneuverable, these ships allowed the colonists to slip past the Royal  Navy’s  men-of-war  by  hiding  in  inlets.  They also  allowed  the  colonists  to  deliver  small  but effective blows to the large British ships by out- maneuvering them instead of meeting them head on. THE  CIVIL  WAR SIGNIFICANT   DATES 27  Apr.  1861 President Lincoln orders block- ade of entire Confederate coast. 3  Aug.  1861 Navy ends daily rum rations for enlisted. 17 Feb. 1864 Steam sloop  Housatonic  torpe- doed  and  sunk  by  first  sub- marine, Confederate submarine Hunley. 22 Jun. 1865 Confederate  raider   Shenandoah fires last shot of Civil War while in Bering Sea. During the Civil War, control of the sea was overwhelmingly  in  the  hands  of  the  North.  For 4 years the Union navy was constantly occupied with  the  task  of  blockading  more  than  3,000  miles of coastline. It was also kept busy running down Southern  commerce  raiders  and  opening  the Mississippi and other waterways leading into the South. In addition, it worked in cooperation with the  army  in  capturing  coastal  strongholds. The South countered with commerce raiders, but  the  strangling  effect  of  the  Union  blockade eventually  took  its  toll.  It  crippled  the  finances of  the  Confederacy,  shut  out  foodstuffs  and munitions,  and  proved  to  be  a  major  influence in  the  outcome  of  the  war.  The  country  learned from  this  war  that  a  navy  could  not  be  quickly and  readily  improvised  in  an  emergency.  Even then, the days were past when merchant vessels could be converted rapidly into efficient men-of- War. Both   Union   and   Confederate   navies   were engaged in frantic shipbuilding programs, which brought  the  era  of  ironclads  into  full  swing.  In 1862  the  Union  launched  the  New   Ironsides. Equipped with the finest armor of any American ship  in  history,  this  powerful  ironclad  once survived 50 hits. The Civil War also gave us two new types of ironclads,  the  famed  Merrimack,   renamed   the Virginia  by  the  Confederacy,  and  the  Union’s Monitor  (which  sported  a  turret).  Although  the ungainly  Monitor  was called a “cheese box on a raft, it  and  its  Confederate  counterpart  began a  new  era  of  ironclads.  When  the  two  engaged in battle, the outcome was indecisive, with both sides  claiming  victory. The  period  also  introduced  the  use  of  river- boats,  rams,  and  gunboats.  More  changes  and advances were made in ship designs during the 1-4

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