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Fire on the Waters

Fire on the Waters

A Novel of the Civil War at Sea

The year is 1861, and America shudders on the brink of disunion. Elisha Eaker, scion of a wealthy Manhattan banking family, joins the Navy against his father's wishes. He does it as much to avoid an arranged marriage to his cousin, Araminta Van Velsor, as to defend the flag.
Eli meets Lieutenant Ker Claiborne aboard the sloop of war U.S.S. Owanee. An Annapolis graduate who's seen action in the West Indies and the Africa Station, Claiborne is cool and competent in storm and battle, but he now faces an agonizing choice between the Navy he loves and his native Virginia. Whichever road he takes, he'll be called a traitor.
With authentic nautical and historical detail, master sea-yarner David Poyer follows Eli, Araminta, Ker, and their loved ones and shipmates into a maelstrom of divided loyalties, bitter partings, stormy seas, governmental panic, political blundering, and, finally, the test of battle as the bloodiest and most divisive war in American history begins.
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  • Simon & Schuster | 
  • 448 pages | 
  • ISBN 9780671046811 | 
  • July 2003
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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

The United States Steam Sloop Owanee • Introduced to Lieutenant Ker Claiborne • Within a Damaged Boiler • The Silver-Filmed Eye of Uncle Ahasuerus • Disagreement Relating to the Newly Elected President • Contents of a Carpetbag • Captain Trezevant Boards His Ship

The black ship's wedge of bow split hammered-iron river from a galvanized sky. Her topmasts tilted above a spiky undergrowth of spars and shears. Smoke streamed from her single funnel off over the gray-green flatness of the East River, merging at last with the sooty pall from the thousands of other ships and homes and factories... see more

About the Author

David Poyer
Photo Credit:

David Poyer

David Poyer is the most popular living author of American sea fiction. Sailor, engineer, and retired naval captain, he lives on Virginia's Eastern Shore with novelist Lenore Hart and their daughter. Please visit David Poyer's website at




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