Name

Stephen Mallory

Career

Business/Commerce

Occupation 1

Shipowner

Identifier

Identifier New York City

Region

NA/Mid-Atlantic region

Era

Heroic Age of Sail (1816-1865)

Born

1811

Died

1873

Text

U.S. senator and Confederate secretary of the navy�

In 1853 he was made chairman of the Naval Affairs Committee and sponsored the Naval Reform Act of 1855 that resulted in the construction of new warships. He also championed ironclad vessels, screw propellers, and modern ordnance. His most controversial contribution was the establishment of the Naval Retiring Board that dropped from active duty incompetent, overaged, and otherwise impaired naval officers�

On 21 February Jefferson Davis appointed Mallory the Confederacy's secretary of the navy� He first tried to build a navy of wooden gunboats but soon dropped this program for the construction of ironclads, both at home and abroad. Under Mallory's direction the Confederacy employed commerce raiders, which forced northern merchantmen to seek the protection of neutral flags. He also backed the development of rifled cannon, mines, torpedo boats, and submarines. To pay for his overseas ventures Mallory became the first Confederate cabinet officer to use cotton as a medium of exchange�

In March 1862 he was investigated by a joint committee of Congress for the fall of New Orleans and the loss of the ironclads Mississippi and Louisiana. Though Mallory was cleared of any mismanagement, his programs never achieved the desired results. His under-powered and crudely constructed ironclads never successfully challenged the blockade or Union ironclads, his commerce raiders did nothing to affect the war's outcome, and there were never enough torpedoes or heavy cannon to make a difference�