Chasing the Fox: The Chronology of a Blockade Runner
By Andrew R. English
(February/March 2009 Civil War News)

Illustrated, notes appendices, bibliography, softcover, 124 pp., 2004. Gateway Press Inc., 1001 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, MD 21202, order through Andrew R. English, E-mail: - $20 plus shipping.

Reviewer: Joseph A. Derie
Joseph A. Derie is a VMI graduate and a long time Civil War buff and military book reviewer. A retired Coast Guard officer and licensed officer of the Merchant Marine, he is a Certified Marine Investigator and marine surveyor

The Fox was a New Orleans towboat formerly known as the A.J. Whitmore. Towboats are similar to today’s tugboats but were used at the time to tow sailing ships without steam engines upstream and downstream, in this case on the Mississippi River.

Captured shortly after the fall of New Orleans by the 21st Indiana Infantry in a remote corner of a bayou, it became a Union Navy dispatch boat until recaptured by a Confederate Navy cutting out expedition. Taken to Mobile the boat was auctioned off and transitioned into its final configuration — a Confederate blockade-runner named Fanny.

Running the blockade from Mobile to Havana it made two-and-a-half or three trips, depending on how they are counted. On its last return from Havana in September 1863, it was chased by Union Navy blockaders to where it was run aground and burned in Pascagoula, Miss., to prevent it and its cargo from falling into Union hands. Supposedly its rusting boilers could still be seen at low tide in 1962.

In this slim volume the author discusses the building of the A. J. Whitmore in New York in 1857-1858; its career in New Orleans before and after the city’s capture by the Union; and its final days under the Stars and Bars. The book includes a number of wonderful period engravings and illustrations and is well-researched and well-written.

This is a specialty volume of interest to Civil War buffs specializing in the blockade and blockade-runners as well as those interested in the Civil War on the Gulf Coast.