1861 June 27th

June 27 1861 Thursday

Mathias Point, VA

McClellan’s West Virginia Campaign
Chesapeake Bay Blockade

Go to June 28 1861

USA. The Union Blockade Strategy Board met to consider and report on the problems arising in the blockade and to plan new amphibious operations to seize vital bases on the Southern coast. The recom­mendations made by the Blockade Strategy Board pointed the way to subsequent naval operations at Hatteras Inlet, Port Royal, and New Orleans. The broad policies the Board that were agreed at this early date were followed closely throughout the duration of the war. The Board’s Chairman was Captain Samuel Francis Du Pont USN. It included as members Commander Charles Henry Davis USN, Major John Gross Barnard (US Army Engineers), and Professor Alexander D Bache, Superintendent of the US Coast Survey.

Maryland. George P Kane, city marshal of Baltimore, was arrested for pro-Confederate activities.

Tennessee. The pro-Union Convention in of East Tennessee met at Nashville.

Virginia. Union Major-General George Brinton McClellan left Clarksburg to move south against the Confederates around Rich Mountain. Indiana State Brigadier-General Thomas Armstrong Morris moved his brigade forward from Philippi, with the aim of joining forces with McClellan in about two weeks’ time.

Virginia. USS Resolute, Acting Master W Budd, burned a Confederate supply depot on the shore of the Potomac River.

Mathias Point, Virginia. USS Reliance and USS Thomas Freeborn shelled Confederate batteries at Mathias Point. Commander James Harmon Ward USN, commander of the Union Potomac Flotilla, had learned that the Confederates were installing a new battery on a wooded promontory at Mathias Point that would effectively control traffic on the Potomac River at that point. Ward took his flagship, the USS Thomas Freeborn along with the USS Reliance and a company of sailors and marines under Lieutenant James C Chaplin USN to attack the Confederate position, to remove trees from the location so that the Confederates could not hide a battery on the point, and to emplace a Union battery at the point. When the USS Thomas Freeborn arrived at Mathias Point at about 10 am (or 1 pm) its crew began to bombard the woods in order to give cover to Chaplin’s landing party. Union skirmishers immediately became engaged with Confederate skirmishers and drove them back. The landing party worked at establishing a position for the artillery which they had carried on the boats with them but had not yet brought ashore. Soon afterward, 400 to 500 Confederate soldiers arrived and began to move against and fire upon the small Union force. Ward initially had accompanied the landing party, but he quickly returned to the USS Thomas Freeborn in order to direct the firing of the ship’s guns at the location where the Confederates began their counterattack. Chaplin evacuated his party to their small boats after the initial Confederate approach in force. The gunfire from the USS Thomas Freeborn beat back the counterattack. Ward ordered Chaplin to land again and to build sandbag breastworks while the firing from the ship temporarily quietened the Confederates. Confederate Colonel Daniel Ruggles ordered his men, under the immediate command of Colonel John Mayo Brockenbrough, to approach the Union forces through the forest in order not to expose the men in an open field. This detour delayed their counterattack. Meanwhile, Chaplin and his small force hastily completed the construction of the small breastwork and after trying to hide the exact location of the work with branches, again began to withdraw from the shore at about 5 pm in order to retrieve their artillery. At this time, the Confederates, further supported by four companies of men under the command of Major R M Mayo, renewed their attack against the USS Thomas Freeborn and against the landing party, which was moving toward the boats. Heavily outnumbered and under fire, Chaplin and his men were unable to retrieve and unload their guns and were forced to withdraw completely. Commander Ward was shot while trying to sight the ship’s gun and died after about 45 minutes. His mortal wounding unsettled the crew of the USS Thomas Freeborn and they fired no more in support of Chaplin’s force. Ward was the only member of the Union force killed, although four men were wounded. Ward was the first Union Navy officer killed during the Civil War.
The Confederates continued to hold their position and operate the battery on Mathias Point, which they finally emplaced on the day after the battle. The Confederates were not attacked by land forces and did not abandon this or the neighbouring batteries until the Confederate withdrawal from Manassas and other northern Virginia locations in March 1862.

Union Organisation

USA: Captain James Harmon Ward USN, commanding the Potomac Flotilla, was killed at Mathias Point, Virginia.
USA: Commander Stephen Clegg Rowan USN assumed interim command of the Potomac Flotilla of the US Navy, succeeding Commander James Harmon Ward.

Commander in Chief: President Abraham Lincoln
Vice-President: Hannibal Hamlin
Secretary of War: Simon Cameron
Secretary of the Navy: Gideon Welles

Atlantic Blockading Squadron: Silas Horton Stringham
Gulf Blockading Squadron: William Mervine
Pacific Squadron: John Berrien Montgomery
West Indies Squadron: Garrett J Pendergrast
Western Gunboat Flotilla: John Rodgers
Potomac Flotilla: Stephen Clegg Rowan

General–in-Chief: Winfield Scott

Department of Annapolis: Nathaniel Prentiss Banks

Department of the East: John Ellis Wool

Department of Florida: Harvey Brown

Department of Kentucky: Robert Anderson

Department of New Mexico: Edward Richard Sprigg Canby

Department of Northeastern Virginia: Irvin McDowell

Department of the Ohio: George Brinton McClellan

  • Army of Occupation: George Brinton McClellan

Department of the Pacific: Edwin Vose Sumner

  • District of Oregon: George Wright

Department of Pennsylvania: Robert Patterson

  • Army of the Shenandoah: Robert Patterson

Department of Texas: Vacant

Department of Utah: Philip St George Cooke

Department of Virginia: Benjamin Franklin Butler

Department of Washington: Joseph King Fenno Mansfield

Department of the West: Nathaniel Lyon

Confederate Organisation

Commander in Chief: President Jefferson Finis Davis
Vice-President: Alexander Hamilton Stephens
Secretary of War: Leroy Pope Walker
Secretary of the Navy: Stephen Russell Mallory

Military Adviser to the President: Robert Edward Lee

Department No 1: David Emanuel Twiggs

  • “Forces in New Orleans” “Army of Louisiana”: Braxton Bragg

Department of Fredericksburg: Theophilus Hunter Holmes

Department of Norfolk: Benjamin Huger

Department of North Carolina: Theophilus Hunter Holmes

  • Defences of North Carolina: Theophilus Hunter Holmes

Department of the Peninsula: John Bankhead Magruder

  • Army of the Peninsula: John Bankhead Magruder

Department of the Potomac: Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard

  • Army of the Potomac: Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard

Department of South Carolina: Daniel Harvey Hill

Department of Southwestern Virginia: William Wing Loring

Department of Texas: Earl Van Dorn

  • Defences of Galveston: John Creed Moore

Department of West Florida: Braxton Bragg

  • “Forces in Pensacola”: Braxton Bragg

Western Department: Leonidas Polk

  • District of Upper Arkansas: William Joseph Hardee

Defences of Savannah: Alexander Robert Lawton

Indian Territory: Benjamin McCulloch

Forces in Harper’s Ferry”: Joseph Eggleston Johnston

Forces in Richmond: Thomas Turner Fauntleroy

Army of the Kanawha: Henry Alexander Wise

Army of Liberation: Gideon Johnson Pillow

Army of the Northwest: Robert Selden Garnett

Union Generals

Note: Italics, awaiting confirmation of the commission

Major-General USA

Winfield Scott
George Brinton McClellan
John Charles Frémont

Major-General USV

John Adams Dix
Nathaniel Prentiss Banks
Benjamin Franklin Butler

Brigadier-General USA

John Ellis Wool
William Selby Harney
Edwin Vose Sumner
Joseph King Fenno Mansfield
Irvin McDowell
Robert Anderson
William Starke Rosecrans

Brigadier-General USV

Samuel Peter Heintzelman
David Hunter
Erasmus Darwin Keyes
Andrew Porter
Fitz-John Porter
William Buel Franklin
William Tecumseh Sherman
Charles Pomeroy Stone
Don Carlos Buell
Thomas West Sherman
Nathaniel Lyon
John Pope
George Archibald McCall
William Reading Montgomery
Philip Kearny
Joseph Hooker
John Wolcott Phelps
Ulysses Simpson Grant
Joseph Jones Reynolds
Samuel Ryan Curtis
Charles Smith Hamilton
Darius Nash Couch
Rufus King
Jacob Dolson Cox
Stephen Augustus Hurlbut
Franz Sigel
Robert Cumming Schenck
Benjamin Mayberry Prentiss
Frederick West Lander
Benjamin Franklin Kelley
John Alexander McClernand
Alpheus Starkey Williams
Israel Bush Richardson
James Cooper

Brigadier-General USA (Staff)

Montgomery Cunningham Meigs

Confederate Generals

Note: Italics, awaiting confirmation of the commission

General ACSA

Samuel Cooper
Albert Sidney Johnston
Robert Edward Lee

Major-General PACS

David Emanuel Twiggs
Leonidas Polk

Brigadier-General ACSA

Joseph Eggleston Johnston
Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard
Braxton Bragg

Brigadier-General PACS

Alexander Robert Lawton
Milledge Lake Bonham
Benjamin McCulloch
William Wing Loring
Charles Clark
John Buchanan Floyd
William Henry Talbot Walker
Henry Rootes Jackson
Theophilus Hunter Holmes
Henry Alexander Wise
Earl Van Dorn
Robert Selden Garnett
William Joseph Hardee
Richard Stoddert Ewell
David Rumph Jones
Benjamin Huger
John Bankhead Magruder
James Longstreet
Edmund Kirby Smith
John Clifford Pemberton
Thomas Jonathan Jackson
Henry Hopkins Sibley
Barnard Elliott Bee
John Henry Winder

%d bloggers like this:
search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close