Ari Arthur Hoogenboom, Gustavus Vasa Fox of the Union Navy: A Biography (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008), 312.
Though he never fought in a battle, no one had a greater impact on the Union navy than Gustavus Vasa Fox, and no one made a greater contribution to the navy’s success. He was integrally involved in acquiring its ships, determining their armament, choosing their commanders, organizing them into squadrons, and developing the strategy they followed. The tactics he advocated were daring, as was the monitor program he embraced. Admirals and generals have a tendency to fight the current war with the weapons and ships developed in the previous war, until they prove obsolete. That the Union navy did not fall into this trap was largely due to Fox’s eagerness to adopt the new. The Civil War is renowned as the first railroad war. It also was the first steamboat war, and no one appreciated that fact more than Fox. Steamboats, many of them armored, enforced the blockade and facilitated drives on the Mississippi and its tributaries that carved up the Confederacy. The earliest significant Union successes were naval victories that bought the army enough time to overcome its early failures. These victories kept the public behind Lincoln long enough for the North to prevail.