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While the Civil War is generally studied through the prism of clashes between armies on land, the battle at sea was noteworthy as well. Among the most prominent naval officers of the Union Navy were Rear Admiral John A. Dahlgren, Vice Admiral David G. Farragut, Rear Admiral Samuel Francis Dupont, who distinguished himself by commanding the Union naval forces during its most important early maritime victory only to later disappear into ignominy following his disastrous defeat off the coast of Charleston, South Carolina, and Rear Admiral Charles Henry Davis, a Harvard-educated scientist who was instrumental in the construction of the Union's ironclad fleet.
Among the most experienced officers in the Confederate Navy were James Iredell Waddell, who famously commanded the CSS Shenandoah, Admiral Franklin Buchanan, the South's only full admiral and who commanded the ironclad CSS Virginia, during which time he sank multiple wooden Union ships but who was injured and missed the Virginia's famous battle with the USS Monitor, James Dunwoody Bulloch, whose naval career during the war was noted more for his behind-the-scenes efforts in Europe at securing materials and funding for the Confederacy, and John Mercer Brooke, whose expertise in nautical engineering helped the Confederate Navy develop new technologies that were incorporated into vessels secured from the Union at the war's outbreak as well as those purchased abroad by agents such as Bulloch.
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