Throughout the war, the navy compensated its sailors at a rate comparable to merchant marine salaries, and by paying an additional 25 percent to men assigned to monitors, the navy laid a foundation for the hazardous-duty pay that is in vogue today. Nevertheless, the Union navy experienced periodic personnel shortages. The North's constant need to fill the ranks of its armies took precedence over the navy's needs and provoked a serious manpower shortage in 1864. The Navy Department fell back on civilian recruiting agencies, many of which were unscrupulous and enlisted foreigners whenever they were available; in 1864, 35 percent of the crew on Admiral David G. Farragut's flagship, the U.S.S. Hartford, were foreigners.
Life in Mr. Lincoln's Navy will find a place in the libraries of many navy buffs. Ringle has organized his material well, setting the stage with an introductory chapter in which he describes the navy at the outset of the war, when the pay for an ordinary seaman was $10 per month and the navy had only 12 vessels in U.S. waters. He has made good use of ships' logs and muster rolls, as well as pertinent manuscript sources in documenting the life of the Yankee tar.
Endless treatments on the Civil War touch on everything about the armies, the men, and the campaigns they fought. Few books exist examining the naval facet of the war; an unforgivable omission since the navy played an integral component in the war's outcome. Dennis Ringle's Life in Mr. Lincoln's Navy is the first monograph to delve into examining the Yankee seaman. He discusses a variety of issues, from the type of men who enlisted, their training, food, medical care, social activities, integration with African Americans, shipboard and battle routine, and most importantly, their role in proving the new technological innovations of the ironclad.
Dennis Ringle's book is a good, though brief, view of the Union seaman, his role in the war, and the evolution of naval technology. He...