Chronology of the Naval War, 1861-1865

November 1860

1 United States Navy planned to convert seven sailing ships into steam ships of war at a cost of $3,064,000.
15 Lieutenant Thomas A. Craven, Commanding US Naval Forces at Key West, notified Secretary of the Navy Isaac Toucey that due to “the present deplorable condition of affairs in the Southern States” he had moved to prevent the seizure “by any hands of lawless men” of Forts Taylor and Jefferson. Craven, in USS Mohawk, defended Fort Jefferson and Lieutenant Fabius Stanly, USS Wyandotte, held Fort Taylor. This far-sighted action on the part of Craven, who distinguished himself throughout the war, enabled the Union to retain the vital Key West posts, the importance of which, Craven noted can not be overestimated, commanding as they do the commerce of the Gulf of Mexico.

December 1860

26 Following the secession of South Carolina (20 December) Major Robert Anderson, USA, removed his loyal garrison from Fort Moultrie to Fort Sumter, on an island in Charleston Harbour; this created spe­cial need for sea-borne reinforcements of troops and supplies.
27 US Revenue Cutter Aiken was surrendered to South Carolina authorities.

January 1861

5 US steamer Star of the West, Captain John McGowan, USRM, departed New York with an Army detachment for the relief of Fort Sumter, Charleston Harbour, South Carolina.
Secretary of the Navy Toucey ordered Fort Washington-on Maryland side of the Potomac– garrisoned “to protect public property.” Forty Marines from Washington Navy Yard under Captain Algernon S. Taylor, USMC, were sent to the Fort-a vital link in the defence of the Nation’s Capital by land or water.
Fort Morgan, at the entrance to Mobile Bay, Alabama, was seized and garrisoned by Alabama militia.
9 US steamer Star of the West, Captain McGowan, was fired on by Confederate troops from Morris Island and Fort Moultrie as she attempted to enter Charleston Harbour. Cadets from the Citadel took part in this action. The relief of Fort Sumter was not effected. These were the first Confederate shots fired at a vessel flying the United States flag. Star of the West returned to New York.
Thirty Marines from Washington Navy Yard under First Lieutenant Andrew J. Hays, USMC, garrisoned Fort McHenry, Baltimore, until US Army troops could relieve them.
10 Forts Jackson and St. Philip, Mississippi River, Louisiana, were seized by Louisiana State troops. 11 US Marine Hospital two miles below New Orleans was occupied by Louisiana State troops.
12 Fort Barrancas and the Pensacola Navy Yard, Captain James Armstrong, USN, were seized by Florida and Alabama militia. Union troops escaped across the Bay to Fort Pickens on Santa Rosa Island, a position which remained in Union hands throughout the war.
14 South Carolina legislature declared any attempt to reinforce Fort Sumter would be an act of war.
16 Captain Taylor, USMC, commanding Fort Washington, wrote Colonel John Harris, Marine Corps Commandant, regarding the “defenceless and pregnable condition” of the Fort. Taylor requested rein­forcements, commenting that he did “not wish to be placed in a position to detract from the high character of my corps.”
18 Confederates seized US lighthouse tender Alert at Mobile, Alabama.
20 Fort on Ship Island, Mississippi, seized by Confederates; Ship Island was a key base for operations in the Gulf of Mexico and at the mouth of the Mississippi River.
22 Guns and ammunition sold to and destined for Georgia were seized by New York authorities. This ac­tion was protested by Georgia Governor Joseph E. Brown in a letter to New York Governor Edwin Morgan. In retaliation Governor Brown seized northern ships at Savannah on 8 and 21 February 1861. Marine Guard at Brooklyn Navy Yard put under arms as a precaution against difficulty with Confed­erate sympathizers.
23 Commander John A. Dahlgren noted that as a precaution against an attack on the Washington Navy Yard, he had the cannon and the ammunition from the Yard magazine removed to the attic of the main building.
25 Captain Samuel F. Du Pont wrote Commander Andrew Hull Foote about the number of naval officers resigning their commissions to go to their home States in the South: “What made me most sick at heart, is the resignations from the Navy…. I [have been] nurtured, fed and clothed by the general government for over forty years, paid whether employed or not, and for what- why to stand by the country, whether assailed by enemies from without or foes within- my oath declared ‘allegiance to the United States’ as well as to support the Constitution… I stick by the flag and the national govern­ment as long as we have one, whether my state does or not and she knows it.
28 Stephen R. Mallory, later Confederate Secretary of the Navy, hearing that USS Brooklyn, Captain William S. Walker, was en route to reinforce Fort Pickens, wired John Slidell that, if attempted, “resistance and a bloody conflict seems inevitable.”
29 Secretaries of the Navy and War ordered that the Marines and troops on board USS Brooklyn, Captain Walker, en route Pensacola, not be landed to reinforce Fort Pickens unless that work was taken under attack by the Confederates.
Louisiana having passed the ordinance of secession on 26 January, Secretary of the Treasury John A. Dix wired Agent William H. Jones at New Orleans ordering him not to surrender the US Revenue Cutter there and to defend the American flag with force if necessary. Robert McClelland surrendered by Captain John G. Breshwood, USRM, to Louisiana authorities despite contrary command by Agent Jones.
30 US Revenue Schooner Lewis Cass, Captain John J. Morrison, USRM, was surrendered at Mobile to State authorities.
31 US Revenue Schooner Washington, Captain Robert K. Hudgins, USRM, was seized by State authorities at New Orleans, while undergoing repairs.

February 1861

9 USS Brooklyn arrived off Pensacola. Troops were not landed at Fort Pickens in compliance with an orer issued on 29th January, which reflected an interim agreement with Florida state authorities that the situation would not be changed. That meant that Fort Barrancas, Fort McRae and the Pensacola Navy Yard would remain in Confederate hands while Fort Pickens on Santa Rosa Island was retained by the Union. The USS Brooklyn, USS Sabine, USS Macedonia and USS St Louis remained off the harbour and reinfrocements were not landed until 12th April.
11 US Commander John Adolphus Dahlgren USN urged Congress to approve the building of more gun sloops and an iron-cased ship.
14 The Confederate Congress authorised the Committee on Naval Affairs to call together all available maritime and naval specialists across the Confederacy to advise on naval plans.

20 The Confederate States’ Department of the Navy was established by an act of the Provisional Confederate Congress in Montgomery. This act also established the position of Secretary of the Navy, authorized to handle all affairs related to the navies of the Confederacy.

21 Stephen Russell Mallory was appointed as Confederate Secretary of the Navy.

27 The US Congress authorised the construction of seven steam sloops to augment existing naval strength.

March 1861

2 US Revenue Schooner Henry Dodge, First Lieutenant William F. Rogers, USRM, was seized at Galveston, as Texas joined the Confederacy.

4 Forty-two vessels were in commission in the United States Navy. Twelve of these ships were assigned duty with the Home Squadron, four of which were based on Northern ports. Beginning with the return of Powhatan to New York and Pocahontas to Hampton Roads on 12 March and Cumberland to Hampton Roads on 23 March, the Department moved to recall all but three ships from foreign sta­tions, where they were badly needed, in order to meet the greater needs of the Nation in this hour of crisis.

7 Gideon Welles of Hartford, Connecticut, took office in Washington as Secretary of the Navy.

13 It was reported by Captain J. M. Brannon, USA, commanding Fort Taylor that “everything is quiet at Key West to this date”-a tribute to the firm policing of the area by Union naval vessels. Throughout the early months of 1861 the “showing of the flag” by the Fleet maintained a peaceful equilibrium in a situation fraught with tension. The much-feared attack, expected to accompany Florida’s secession (10 January), did not materialize.

17 Confederate Navy Department sent Commander Lawrence Rousseau, Commander Ebenezer Farrand, and Lieutenant Robert T. Chapman to New Orleans to negotiate for the construction of gunboats.

18 Brigadier General Braxton Bragg, CSA, issued an order forbidding passage of supplies to Fort Pickens and the US squadron off Pensacola.

20 US sloop Isabella, carrying supplies for US squadron at Pensacola, was seized at Mobile.

21 Gustavus V. Fox, ex-naval officer now a civilian, reconnoitred Fort Sumter, Charleston Harbour, as directed by President Lincoln, to determine the best means of relieving the Fort. Based on his observations, Fox recommended relieving Sumter by sea: “I propose to put the troops on board of a large, comfortable sea steamer and hire two powerful light draft New York tug boats, having the neces­sary stores on board. These to be convoyed by the USS Pawnee…. and the revenue cutter Harriet Lane…. Arriving off the bar, I propose to examine by day the naval preparations and obstructions. If their vessels determine to oppose our entrance, and a feint or flag of truce would ascertain this, the armed ships must approach the bar and destroy or drive them on shore. Major Anderson would do the same upon any vessels within the range of his guns and would also prevent any naval succour being sent down from the city.”

31 Secretary of the Navy Welles ordered 250 men transferred from New York to the Navy Yard at Nor­folk, Virginia.

April 1861

2 President Lincoln visited the Washington Navy Yard. The President returned frequently to confer with Commander Dahlgren on the defence of the Capital and the far reaching strategy of sea power in general.

3 Confederate battery at Morris Island, Charleston, fired on American schooner Rhoda H. Shannon.

4 President Lincoln gave final approval to Gustavus Fox’s plan to relieve Fort Sumter by sea.

5 USS Powhatan, Pawnee, Pocahontas, and Revenue Cutter Harriet Lane were ordered by Secretary of the Navy Welles to provision Fort Sumter; squadron commander was Captain Samuel Mercer in Powhatan.

6 Lieutenant David Dixon Porter, ordered to take command of USS Powhatan by President Lincoln and to reinforce Fort Pickens, Pensacola, instead of Fort Sumter, departed New York. The following day Lieutenant John L. Worden, USN, departed Washington, D.C., by rail with orders to Captain Henry
A. Adams, commanding USS Sabine and senior officer present in the Pensacola area, to reinforce Fort Pickens.

8 Revenue Cutter Harriet Lane, Captain John Faunce, USRM, departed New York
for relief of Fort Sumter.

9 Gustavus V. Fox sailed from New York in chartered steamer Baltic for the relief of Fort Sumter.

10 USS Pawnee, Commander Stephen C. Rowan, departed Hampton Roads for relief of Fort Sumter.

General P. G. T. Beauregard, CSA, commanding at Charleston, was instructed to demand evacuation of Fort Sumter and, if refused, to “proceed, in such manner as you may determine, to reduce it.”

Secretary of the Navy Welles alerted Captain Charles S. McCauley, Commandant Norfolk Navy Yard, to condition USS Merrimack for a move to a Northern yard should it become necessary. At the same time Welles cautioned McCauley that, “There should be no steps taken to give needless alarm.”

11 Commander James Alden was ordered to report to Captain McCauley to take command of Merrimack. The following day Chief Engineer Benjamin Isherwood was sent to Norfolk to put the ship’s engines in work­ing order as soon as possible.

General Beauregard’s demand for evacuation of Fort Sumter refused by Major Anderson.

US steamship Coatzacoalcos arrived in New York, returning Union troops from Texas.

12 Fort Sumter fired on by Confederate batteries-the conflict begins.

US steamship Baltic, under Gustavus Fox, USS Pawnee, Commander Rowan, and Harriet Lane, Captain Faunce, USRM, arrived off Charleston to reinforce Fort Sumter. But, as Fox observed, “war had com­menced” and he was unable to carry out his mission.

Under secret orders from Secretary of the Navy Welles carried by Lieutenant Worden, Fort Pickens was reinforced by landing of troops under Captain Israel Vogdes, 1st US Artillery, and Marines under First Lieutenant John C. Cash, from the squadron composed of USS Sabine, Captain H. A. Adams, Senior Officer Present, USS Brooklyn, Captain W. S. Walker, USS St. Louis, Commander Charles H. Poor, and USS Wyandotte, Lieutenant J. R. Madison Mullany.

13 Fort Sumter surrendered by Major Anderson. Troops were evacuated the next day by Fox’s expedition.

USS Sabine, Captain Adams, blockaded Pensacola Harbour.

Lieutenant Worden was seized near Montgomery, Alabama, and placed in prison, but his Pensacola mission had been accomplished.

14 Captain Du Pont wrote: “I hope those Southern gentlemen will declare war, for that will stop the shilly shallying, unite the North if it be not so already, and the line will have to be drawn by the strategic points involved, which for the defence of the Capital includes Maryland.”

15 Seventeen vessels from Southern ports without US clearances were seized at New York.

16 Secretary of the Navy Welles wrote Flag Officer Garrett J. Pendergrast, commanding USS Cumberland at Norfolk: “Until further orders the departure of the Cumberland to Vera Cruz will be deferred. In the meantime you will lend your assistance, and that of your command, towards putting the vessels now in the Yard in condition to be moved, placing the ordnance and ordnance stores on board for moving, and, in case of invasion, insurrection, or violence of any kind, to suppress it, repelling assault by force, if necessary.”

17 USS Powhatan, Lieutenant D. D. Porter, arrived off Pensacola. Under her protecting guns, 600 troops on board steamer Atlantic were landed at Fort Pickens to complete its reinforcement. President Lincoln had stated “I want that fort saved at all hazards.” The President’s wish was fulfilled, and use of the best harbour on the Gulf was denied the Confederacy for the entire war, while serving the Union in­dispensably in the blockade and the series of devastating assaults from the sea that divided and de­stroyed the South.

Jefferson Davis’ proclamation invited all interested in “service in private armed vessels on the high seas” to apply for Letters of Marque and Reprisal.

Confederates placed obstacles in the channel at Norfolk, attempting to prevent the sailing of US naval vessels. The subsequent passage of the obstructions by Pawnee and Cumberland proved the effort ineffective.

18 USS Merrimack was reported ready for sea at Norfolk by Chief Engineer Isherwood.

Secretary of the Navy Welles wrote Captain Hiram Paulding: “You are directed to proceed forthwith to Norfolk and take command of all the naval forces there afloat On no account should the arms
and munitions be permitted to fall into the hands of insurrectionists, or those who would wrest them from the custody of the government; and should it finally become necessary, you will, in order to pre­vent that result, destroy the property.”

US schooner Buchanan (lighthouse tender), Master Thomas Cullen, was seized and taken to Rich­mond, Virginia.

19 President Lincoln issued proclamation declaring blockade of Southern ports from South Carolina to Texas Of the blockade Admiral David Dixon Potter was to later write: “So efficiently was the block­ade maintained and so greatly was it strengthened from time to time, that foreign statesmen, who at the beginning of the war, did not hesitate to pronounce the blockade of nearly three thousand miles of coast a moral impossibility, twelve months after its establishment were forced to admit that the proofs of its efficiency were so comprehensive and conclusive that no objections to it could be made.”

Washington having been cut off by rail from the North, Captain Du Pont and others embarked troops at Philadelphia and head of the Chesapeake Bay to proceed to the relief of the Capital. Steamer Boston departed Philadelphia with New York Seventh Regiment on board, and ferryboat Maryland em­barked General Benjamin F. Butler’s Massachusetts Eighth Regiment at Perryville for Annapolis.

US steamer Star of the West was seized by Confederates at lndianola, Texas.

Captain David Glasgow Farragut, though born in the South and with a southern wife, chose to remain loyal to the Union and left his home in Norfolk, Virginia, to take up residence in New York City.

20 Norfolk Navy Yard partially destroyed to prevent Yard facilities from falling into Confederate hands and abandoned by Union forces. US S. Pennsylvania, Germantown’, Raritan. Columbia, and Dolphin were burned to water’s edge. USS Delaware, Columbus, Plymouth, and Merrimack (later CSS Virginia)
were burned and sunk. Old frigate USS United States was abandoned. USS Pawnee, Commodore Paulding, and tug Yankee, towing USS Cumberland, escaped; Pawnee returned to Washington to augment small defences at the Capital. This major Yard was of prime importance to the South. The Confederacy had limited industrial capacity, and possession of the Norfolk Yard provided her with guns and other ordnance materiel, and, equally as important, gave her a dry-dock and an industrial plant in which to manufacture crucially needed items. In large measure, guns for the batteries and fortifications erected by the Confederates on the Atlantic coast and rivers during 1861 came from the Norfolk Yard.

USS Constitution, Lieutenant George Rodgers, moored in Severn River off Annapolis, was towed into Chesapeake Bay by steamer Maryland with General Butler’s troops on board. This action, preceded by resolute measures by Naval Academy staff and midshipmen, prevented Confederates from seizing historic “Old Ironsides.”

US S. Anacostia, Lieutenant Thomas S. Fillebrown, was ordered to patrol off Kettle Bottom Shoals, Virginia, to prevent the obstruction ‘of the channel at that point; the crew was augmented by 20 Marines from the Washington Navy Yard

Cornelius Vanderbilt offered the government the fast steamer Vanderbilt. Eventually the Navy acquired many private ships by charter or purchase to strengthen its blockade fleets.

US coast survey schooner Twilight, Andrew C. Mitchell, was seized at Aransas, Texas.

21 Colonel Charles F. Smith. USA, reported to Secretary of the Navy Welles he had seized and placed under guard steamers Baltimore, Mount Vernon, Philadelphia, and Powhatan near Washington, D.C. Steamers plied between Aquia Creek and Washington; these were ordered to be outfitted at Washington Navy Yard for defence of the Capital. Aquia Creek, terminal point of railroad connection with Richmond, was the first location on the Potomac where Confederate naval officers erected batteries.

USS Saratoga, Commander Alfred Taylor, captured slave ship Nightingale with 961 slaves on board.

Secretary of the Navy Welles instructed Captain Du Pont, Commandant Philadelphia Navy Yard, to procure five staunch steamers from ten to twelve feet draught, having particular reference to strength and speed and capable of carrying a nine-inch pivot gun or coast service.” Similar orders were sent to Commandants of the Navy Yards in New York and Boston.

22 Captain Franklin Buchanan, Commandant Washington Navy Yard, submitted his resignation and was relieved by Commander John A. Dahlgren; Buchanan joined the Confederate Navy and was promoted to Admiral, CSN. On 26 August 1862, Dahlgren spurred the build-up of Union

ordnance and operation of ships for the defence of Washington and Potomac River. Of the ships (primarily chartered commercial steamers) assigned to Dahlgren’s command at the Navy Yard, Secretary of the Navy Welles reported: “For several months the navy, without aid, succeeded, more effectually than could have been expected, in keeping open for commercial purposes, and restricting, to a great extent, communica­tion between the opposite shores [Potomac].”

Steamer Boston arrived at Annapolis with New York 7th Regiment on board, found Maryland aground after towing USS Constitution into Chesapeake Bay, and got her off, troops from both ships disem­barking. This timely arrival by water transport, recommended by Captain Do Pont at Philadelphia, was instrumental in defending Washington against possible Confederate seizure, and significant in keep­ing Maryland in the Union. In the following days Butler’s troops repaired the railroad and opened communications with Washington, which had been severed since the 19 April Baltimore riots. Com­mander James H. Ward of USS North Carolina proposed to Secretary of the Navy Welles the organi­zation of a “flying flotilla” of ships for service in Chesapeake Bay and tributaries. The proposal was approved, ships purchased and fitted out in New York, and on 20 May 1861, USS Freeborn, with two small craft in tow, Commander Ward in command, arrived at Washington Navy Yard.

Secretary of the Navy Welles ordered Commander William W. Hunter to move Receiving Ship Allegheny at Baltimore to Fort McHenry because of strong secessionist activity in the city.

23 USS Pawnee reached Washington where Commodore Paulding reported to the Navy Department on the loss of the Norfolk Navy Yard. Pawnee’s arrival strengthened the Capital’s defences at a critical juncture.

24 USS Cumberland, Flag Officer Pendergrast, captured Confederate tug Young America and schooner George M. Smith with a cargo of arms and ammunition in Hampton Roads.

USS Constitution, Lieutenant G. W. Rodgers, departed with midshipmen on board for New York and Newport, Rhode Island, under tow of USS R. R. Curler with Harriet Lane in company to transfer US Naval Academy.

26 USS Commerce, Lieutenant Peirce Crosby, captured steamer Lancaster at Havre de Grace, Maryland. He also pursued a steam tug “in obedience to the written orders that I had received from you [Com­mander Charles Steedman] to seize all tugs south of Havre de Grace,” but could not catch her.

Confederate Secretary of the Navy Mallory reported: “I propose to adopt a class of vessels hitherto unknown to naval services. The perfection of a warship would doubtless be a combination of the greatest known ocean speed with the greatest known floating battery and power of resistance…. agents of the department have thus far purchased but two [steam vessels], which combine the requi­site qualities. These, the Sumter and MacRae, are being fitted as cruisers…. Vessels of this character and capacity cannot be found in this country, and must be constructed or purchased abroad.” Mallory discussed naval ordnance: “Rifled cannon having attained a range and accuracy beyond any other form of ordnance…. I propose to introduce them into the Navy…. Small propeller ships, with great speed, lightly armed with these guns, must soon become as the light artillery and rifles of the deep, a most destructive element of naval warfare.”

27 President Lincoln extended the blockade to ports of Virginia and North Carolina.

Secretary of the Navy Welles issued order for Union ships to seize Confederate privateers upon the high seas.

Steamer Helmick, loaded with powder and munitions of war for the Confederacy, was seized at Cairo, Illinois.

29 USS United States ordered commissioned as the first ship in the Virginia navy by Major-General Rob­ert E. Lee, Commander in Chief Military Forces of Virginia.

30 Flag Officer Pendergrast issued notice of the blockade of Virginia and North
Carolina.

May 1861

1 USS Commerce, Lieutenant Crosby, seized steam tug Lioness off mouth of Patapsco River, Maryland.

2 General Winfield Scott wrote to President Lincoln suggesting a cordon capable of enveloping the seceded states and noted that “the transportation of men and all supplies by water is about a fifth of the land cost besides the immense saving of time.” On the next day Scott elaborated further to General George McClellan: “We rely greatly on the sure operation of a complete blockade of the Atlantic and Gulf ports soon to commence. In connection with such blockade, we propose a power­ful movement down the Mississippi to the ocean, with a cordon of posts at proper points…. the object being to clear out and keep open this great line of communication in connection with the strict blockade of the seaboard, so as to envelop the insurgent States and bring them to terms with less bloodshed than by any other plan.” The heart of the celebrated Anaconda Plan which would strangle the Confederacy on all sides was control of the sea and inland waterways by the Union Navy; the strategy of victory was (a) strengthen the blockade, (b) split the Confederacy along the line of the Mississippi River, and (c) support land operations by amphibious assault, gunfire. and transport.

3 President Lincoln called for “the enlistment, for not less than one nor more than three years, of 18,000 sea­men, in addition to the present force. for the naval service of the United States.”

President Lincoln’s blockade proclamation published in London newspapers.

Captain Du Pont wrote: “I am anxious for the blockade to get established-that will squeeze the South more than anything.”

Commander Dahlgren, Commandant Washington Navy Yard, noted: “Besides the Yard, I have to hold the bridge next above, so some howitzers and a guard are there. It is from this direction that the rebels of the eastern shore may come. This Yard is of great importance, not only because of its furnishing the Navy so largely with various stores, but also as a position in the general defences of the city.”

4 USS Cumberland, Flag Officer Pendergrast, seized schooner Mary and Virginia with a cargo of coal, and reported the capture of schooner Theresa C., running the blockade off Fort Monroe, Virginia, with cot­ton on board.

Steamship Star of the West commissioned as Receiving Ship of Confederate Navy at New Orleans.

5 USS Valley City, Acting Master John A. J. Brooks, captured schooner J O’Neil near Pamlico River, North Carolina, after schooner was run aground by her crew.

6 Confederate Congress passed act recognizing state of war with the United States and authorized the issuing of Letters of Marque to private vessels. President Davis issued instructions to private armed vessels, in which he defined operational limits, directed “strictest regard to the rights of neutral powers.” ordered privateers to proceed “With all… justice and humanity” toward Union vessels and crews, out-lined procedure for bringing in a prize, directed that all property on board neutral ships be exempt from seizure “unless it be contraband,” and defined contraband.

7 Union blockading force captured Confederate steamers Dick Keyes and Lewis near Mobile.

USS Yankee, Lieutenant Thomas O. Selfridge, fired on by Confederate batteries at Gloucester Point, Virginia.

8 Secretary of the Navy Welles informed Gustavus Fox: “You are appointed Chief Clerk of the Navy Department, and I shall be glad to have you enter upon the duties as soon as you conveniently can.”

9 USS Constitution Lieutenant G. W. Rodgers, and US steamer Baltic Lieutenant C.R.P. Rodgers, arrived at Newport, Rhode Island, with officers and midshipmen from the US Naval Academy. The Naval Academy remained there for the duration of the war.

Confederate Secretary of the Navy Mallory, ordered Commander James D. Bulloch, CSN, to England to purchase ships, guns, and ammunition. In his instructions he said: “…. provide as one of the conditions of payment for the delivery of the vessels under the British flag at one of our Southern ports, and, secondly, that the bonds of the Confederacy be taken in whole or in part payment. The class of vessel desired for immediate use is that which offers the greatest chances of success against the enemy’s commerce…. as side-wheel steamers can not be made general cruisers, and as from the enemy’s force before our forts, our ships must be enabled to keep the sea, and to make extended cruises, propellers fast under both steam and canvas suggest themselves to us with special favour. Large ships are unnecessary for this service; our policy demands that they shall be no larger than may be sufficient to combine the requisite speed and power, a battery of one or two heavy pivot guns and two or more broadside guns, being sufficient against commerce. By getting small ships we can afford a greater number, an important consideration. The character of the coasts and harbours indicate atten­tion to the draft of water of our vessels. Speed in a propeller and the protection of her machinery can not be obtained upon a, very light draft, but they should draw as little water as may be compatible with their efficiency otherwise.”

10 Blockade of Charleston initiated by USS Niagara, Captain William W. McKean.

Confederate Secretary of the Navy Mallory far-sightedly wrote the Committee on Naval Affairs of Con­gress regarding proposals for new warships: “I regard the possession of an iron-armoured ship as a mat­ter of the first necessity. Such a vessel at this time could traverse the entire coast of the United States, prevent all blockades, and encounter, with a fair prospect of success, their entire Navy. If to cope with them upon the sea we follow their example and build wooden ships, we shall have to construct several at one time; for one or two ships would fall an easy prey to their comparatively numerous steam frigates. But inequality of numbers may be compensated by invulnerability; and thus not only does economy but naval success dictate the wisdom and expediency of fighting with iron against wood, without regard to first cost. Naval engagements between wooden frigates, as they are now built and armed, will prove to be the forlorn hopes of the sea, simply contests in which the question, not of victory, but of who shall go to the bottom first, is to be solved.”

Secret Act of Confederate Congress, signed by President Davis, authorized “the Navy Department to send an agent abroad to purchase six steam propellers, in addition to those heretofore authorized, to­gether with rifled cannon, small arms, and other ordnance stores and munitions of war,” and appropriated a million dollars for the purpose.

11 USS Pawnee, Commander Rowan, ordered by Commander Dahlgren to proceed from Washington Navy Yard to Alexandria, Virginia, to protect vessels in the vicinity from attack by Confederate forces.

12 USS Niagara, Captain McKean, captured blockade runner General Parkhill, en route Liverpool to Charleston.

13 Queen Victoria proclaimed British neutrality and forbade British subjects to endeavour to break a block­ade “lawfully and effectually established.”

14 USS Minnesota, Flag Officer Silas H. Stringham, captured schooners Mary Willis, Delaware Farmer, and Emily Ann at Hampton Roads laden with tobacco for Baltimore. Argo, bound for Bremen from Rich­mond, captured on same date.
15 Secretary of the Navy Welles appointed Lieutenant Thomas M. Brasher to command USS Bainbridge and ordered him to proceed to Aspinwall, New Granada (Panama), to protect California steamers against “vessels sailing under pretended letters of marque issued by the insurrectionary States.” California steamers transported large quantities of gold from Aspinwall to New York. Confederate ships were constantly on the alert for these vessels as the blockade tightened and the need for specie became in­creasingly desperate.

16 Commander John Rodgers ordered to report to the War Department to establish naval forces on the western rivers under the command of General John C. Fremont. The importance of controlling the Mississippi and its tributaries which pierced the interior in every direction was recognized immediately by the US Government. This control was not only militarily strategic but was a vital factor in keep­ing the northwestern states in the Union. Under Rodgers, three river steamers were purchased at Cin­cinnati. Rodgers, overcoming no little difficulty in obtaining and training crews, getting guns and other equipment, converted the steamers to gunboats Tyler, Lexington, and Conestoga. These three gun­boats, as stated by Alfred Thayer Mahan, were of inestimable service in keeping alive the attachment to the Union where it existed.”

17 USS Minnesota, Flag Officer Stringham, captured bark Star en route Richmond to Bremen.

18 Confederate schooner Savannah, Captain Thomas H. Baker, was commissioned by President Davis as “a private armed vessel in the service of the Confederate States on the high seas against the United States of America, their ships, vessels, goods, and effects, and those of their citizens during the pendency of the war now existing between the said Confederate States and the said United States.”

Commander Dahlgren suggested a plan for the erection of batteries on commanding points along the Potomac, and “the placing of vessels of some force at two or three intervals from the kettle bottoms to the Yard [Washington] near suspected positions, with communications kept up by some fast and light steamers.

19 USS Monticello, Captain Henry Eagle, and USS Thomas Freeborn, Commander Ward, engaged Con­federate battery at Sewell’s Point, Virginia.

CSS Lady Davis. Lieutenant Thomas P. Pelot, captured American ship A. B. Thompson off Charleston.

20 USS Crusader, Lieutenant T. A. Craven. captured Neptune near Fort Taylor, Florida.

21 USS Constellation, the oldest United States’ warship afloat, Captain John S. Nicholas, captured slave brig Triton at mouth of the Congo River, Africa.

USS Pocahontas, Commander John P. Gillis, seized steamboat James Guy off Machodoc Creek, Virginia.

The Confederate government guaranteed right of patent for any invention beneficial to the war effort, reserving for the government the right to use it, and provided that, in addition to bounties otherwise provided, the government “will pay to any private armed vessel commissioned under said act 20 per centum on the value of each and every vessel of war belonging to the enemy that may be sunk or destroyed.”

John A. Stevenson of New Orleans discussed with Secretary of the Navy Mallory a “plan by which the enemy’s blockading navy might be driven from our coasts,” and wrote President Davis, “We have no time, place, or means, to build an effective navy. Our ports are, or soon will be, all blockaded. On land we do not fear Lincoln, but what shall we do to cripple him at sea? In this emergency, and seeing that he is arming many poorly adapted vessels, I have two months past been entirely engaged in perfecting plans by which I could so alter and adapt some of our heavy and powerful tow-boats on the Mississippi as to make them comparatively safe against the heaviest guns afloat, and by preparing their bow in a peculiar manner, as my plans and model will show, render them capable of sinking by collision the heaviest vessels ever built -.

23 USS Mississippi. Flag Officer William Mervine, was compelled to put back into Boston for repairs because of sabotage damage to her condensers.

24 Commander Rowan, commanding USS Pawnee, demanded surrender of Alexandria, Virginia; amphibious expedition departed Washington Navy Yard, after embarking secretly at night under Commander Dahlgren’s supervision, and occupied Alexandria. Admiral D. D. Porter later noted of this event: “The first landing of Northern troops upon the Virginia shores was under cover of these improvised gunboats [USS Thomas Freeborn, Anacostia, and Resolute at Alexandria…. Alexandria was evacuated by the Confederates upon demand of a naval officer-Commander S. C. Rowan…. and… the American flag was hoisted on the Custom House and other prominent places by the officer in charge of a landing party of sailors-Lieutenant R. B. Lowry. This…. gave indication of the feelings of the Navy, and how ready was the service to put down secession on the first opportunity offered.”

Confederate States Marshal at New Orleans seized all ships from Northern states which had arrived after 6 May 1861.

25 Commander Dahlgren, Commandant Washington Navy Yard, reported capture of streamer Thomas Colyer by USS Pawnee, Commander Rowan, at Alexandria.

USS Minnesota, Flag Officer Stringham, seized bark Winfred near Hampton Roads.

26 USS Brooklyn, Commander Charles H. Poor, set blockade of New Orleans and mouth of Mississippi River.

USS Powhatan, Lieutenant D. D. Porter, set blockade at Mobile.

2 USS Union. Commander John R. Goldsborough, initiated blockade of Savannah.

29 Confederate privateer J. C. Calhoun captured American brig Panama, which she took to New Orleans with two earlier prizes. American schooners Mermaid and John Adams.

USS Powhatan, Lieutenant D. D. Porter, captured schooner Mary Clinton attempting to run the block­ade near Southwest Pass, Mississippi River.

29-1 June Potomac Flotilla, consisting of USS Thomas Freeborn, Commander Ward. USS Anacostia, Lieu­tenant Napoleon Collins, and USS Resolute, Acting Master William Budd, engaged Confederate bat­teries at Aquia Creek, Virginia. Flotilla joined by USS Pawnee, Commander Rowan, evening of 31 May.

30 USS Merrimack, scuttled and burned at Norfolk Navy Yard, raised by Confederates.

USS Quaker City, Acting Master S. W. Mather, seized schooner Lynchburg, on route Richmond with a cargo of coffee.

31 USS Perry, Lieutenant Enoch G. Parrott, captured Confederate blockade runner Hannah M. Johnson.

June 1861

1 USS Union, Commander J. R. Goldsborough. captured Confederate schooner F. W. Johnson with a cargo of railroad iron off the coast of North Carolina.

Captain Du Pont wrote: “I do not like the tone of things in England Lord Derby and Granville, etc., talk of two thousand miles of coast to be blockaded! They seem to forget so far as their rights and international interests are concerned we have only to blockade the ports of entry- from the Chesa­peake to Galveston- any venture into any other harbours or inlets of any kind is liable to capture as a smuggler. It is the intention of the Government, I presume, to connect the shore between block­aded ports by light draft cruisers to prevent the ingress of arms and contraband, and the egress of pri­vateers- but that is our business as a war measure- an effective blockade means the covering of the ports of entry- and this will be easily done in my judgment.

3 Confederate privateer Savannah Captain Baker, captured American brig Joseph with a cargo of sugar; Savannah was then captured by USS Perry, Lieutenant Parrott.

5 Revenue Cutter Harriett Lane, Captain Faunce, USRM, engaged Confederate battery at Pig Point, Hampton Roads.

USS Niagara. Captain MeKean, captured schooner Aid at Mobile.

Flag Officer Pendergrast reported the capture of bark General Green by USS Quaker City, Commander Overton Carr, at the Capes of the Chesapeake.

8 USS Mississippi, Flag Officer Mervine, set blockade at Key West.

USS Resolute, Acting Master W. Budd, having captured schooner Somerset at Breton’s Bay. towed her close to the Virginia shore and burned her.

9 USS Massachusetts, Commander Melancton Smith, captured British blockade runner Perthshire with a cargo of cotton near Pensacola.

10 USS Union, Commander J.R. Goldsborough, captured brig Hallie Jackson off Savannah with a cargo of molasses.

Lieutenant John Mercer Brooke, CSN. ordered to design ironclad CSS Virginia (ex-USS Merrimack).

13 USS Mississippi, Flag Officer Mervine, captured schooner Forest King, at Key West.

14 American schooner Christiana Ken, grounded and was burned by Confederates near Upper Machodoc Creek, Virginia.

Is Major-General Robert F. Lee wrote Virginia Governor John Fletcher regarding preparations for the de­fense of the state: “The frigate United States- has been prepared for a school ship, provided with a deck battery of nineteen guns, 32-pounders and 9-inch Columbiads, for harbor defense. The frigate Merrimack has been raised and is in for the dry dock, and arrangements are made for raising the German­town and Plymouth.” Lee, showing his understanding of the serious threat posed by Union naval op­erations on the rivers, reported that: “Six batteries have been erected on the Elizabeth River, to guard the approaches to Norfolk and the Navy Yard… prevent ascent of the Nansemond River and the occupation of the railroad from Norfolk to Richmond, three batteries have been constructed… Sites for batteries on the Potomac have also been selected, and arrangements were in progress for their construction, but the entire command of that river being in the possession of the US Government, a larger force is required for their security than could be devoted to that purpose. The batteries at Aquia Creek have only been prepared…. On the Rappahannock River a 4-gun battery… has been erected.”

17 USS Massachusetts, Commander M. Smith, captured schooner Achilles near Ship Island, Mississippi.

18 USS Union, Commander J. R. Goldsborough, captured Confederate blockade runner Amelia at Charles­ton with a cargo of contraband from Liverpool.

Major-General Robert E. Lee wrote Lieutenant Robert Randolph Carter, CSN, commander of CSS Teaser: ‘It is desired that the C.S. steam tender Teaser shall unite with the batteries at Jamestown Is­land in defense of James River, and be employed in obtaining intelligence of the movements of hostile vessels and the landing of troops either side of the river. It is suggested that you establish a system of signals as a means of communication with the troops, and take every precaution not to jeopardize the safety of your boat by proceeding too far beyond the protection of the guns of the batteries.

19 USS Massachusetts, Commander M. Smith, captured blockade running brig Nahum Stetson off Pass a l’Outre, Louisiana.

23 Confederate Navy- began reconstruction of ex- USS Merrimack as ironclad CSS Virginia at Norfolk.

USS Massachusetts, Commander M. Smith, captured Mexican schooner Brilliant, with a cargo of flour, and Confederate schooners Trois Freres, Olive Branch, Fanny, and Basile in the Gulf of Mexico.

24 USS Pawnee, Commander Rowan, and USS Thomas Freeborn, Commander Ward, shelled Confederate batteries at Mathias Point, Virginia.

25 Secretary of the Navy Welles received a report that “the rebels in New Orleans are constructing an in­fernal submarine vessel to destroy the Brooklyn, or any vessel blockading the mouth of the Missis­sippi… a projectile with a sharp iron or steel pointed prow to perforate the bottom of the vessel and then explode.” It was also reported that “a formidable floating battery [is] being built at Mobile, to be mounted with large guns of immense size and range to drive away or capture the ships, by en­gaging them at long range.

26 USS Minnesota, Flag Officer Stringham, captured bark Sally Magee off Hampton Roads.

27 Blockade Strategy Board met under the chairmanship of Captain Du Pont and included as members Commander Charles H. Davis, USN. Major John G. Barnard, USA Corps of Engineers, and Professor Alexander D. Bache, Superintendent US Coast Survey, to consider and report on the major problems of the blockade and to plan amphibious operations to seize vital bases on the Southern coast. Recom­mendations made by the Blockade Strategy Board, an early example of a “Joint Staff,” had a profound effect on the course of the conflict and pointed the way to the successful naval actions at Hatteras Inlet, Port Royal, and New Orleans. The broad policies the Board early set forth were essentially fol­lowed to their culmination at Appomattox.

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

USS Thomas Freeborn, Commander Ward, USS Reliance. Acting Lieutenant Jared P. K. Mygatt, with two boats under Lieutenant James C. Chaplin, from USS Pawnee, Commander Rowan, attacked Confederate forces at Mathias Point, Virginia. Commander Ward was killed in the action. Naval actions at Mathias Point, Aquia Creek, and elsewhere caused Admiral D.D. Porter to observe of these early operations on the Potomac and Chesapeake: “… the country was too busy watching the black clouds gathering in the South and West to note the ordinary events that were taking place on the Potomac, yet they formed the small links in the chain, which in the end, shackled the arms of the great rebellion.”

28 Confederate privateer Jefferson Davis, formerly slaver Echo, Captain Louis M. Coxetter, sailed from Charleston, later made numerous captures of Union ships along the coast, and caused much consterna­tion on the Eastern seaboard.

Captain Du Pont, Chairman of the Blockade Strategy Board, wrote: “The order we received…. set forth…. the selection of two ports, one in South Carolina, another in the confines of Georgia and Florida, for coal depots…. it seems impossible to supply the blockading fleet with coal without these depots.”

28-29 Side-wheel steamer St. Nicholas, making scheduled run between Baltimore and Georgetown, D.C., was captured by Confederates who had boarded her posing as passengers at the steamer’s various stop­ping points on the Potomac River. Confederates were led by Captain George N. Hollins, CSN, who took command of St. Nicholas, and Colonel Richard Thomas, CSA, who boarded disguised as a woman. St. Nicholas then began search for USS Pawnee, but, not finding her, put out into the Chesapeake Bay, where she seized schooners Margaret and Mary Pierce and brig Monticello the following day, 29 June.

30 CSS Sumter, Commander Semmes, ran the blockade at the mouth of Mississippi River and escaped to sea through Pass a I’Outre, eluding USS Brooklyn, whereupon the crew “gave three hearty cheers for the flag of the Confederate States, thus… thrown to the breeze on the high seas by a ship of war, launching Semmes’ famous career as a commerce raider.

USS Reliance, Lieutenant Mygatt, seized and destroyed sloop Passenger in the Potomac River.

July 1861

1 USS Minnesota, Flag Officer Stringham. captured schooner Sally Mears at Hampton Roads.

Confederate privateer Petrel evaded blockaders and put to sea from Charleston.

2 USS South Carolina, Commander James Alden, initiated blockade of Galveston.

3 CSS Sumter, Commander Semmes, captured and burned American ship Golden Rocket near Isle of Pines, off the coast of Cuba.

4 USS South Carolina. Commander Alden, captured blockade running schooners Shark, Venus, Ann Ryan, McCanfield, Louisa. and Dart off Galveston.

5 USS South Carolina, Commander Alden, captured blockade running schooners Falcon and Coralia off Galveston.

USS Dana, Acting Master’s Mate Robert B. Ely, captured sloop Teaser in Nanjemoy Creek, Maryland.

6 USS South Carolina, Commander Alden, captured blockade running schooner George G. Baker, off Galveston.

Confederate privateer Jefferson Davis captured American brig John Welsh and schooner Enchantress east of Cape Hatteras.

CSS Sumter, Commander Semmes, arrived at Cienfuegos, Cuba, with seven US vessels taken as prizes Cuba, Machias, Ben Dunning, Albert Adams, Naiad, West Wind, Lewis Kilham. Semmes appointed a Cuban agent for custody of the prizes, expressing to the Governor there that he had entered that port “with the expectation that Spain will extend to cruisers of the Confederate States the same friendly reception that in similar circumstances she would extend to the cruisers of the enemy.

7 USS South Carolina, Commander Alden, captured schooner Sam Houston off Galveston.

Confederate privateer Jefferson Davis captured American schooner S. J. Waring about 150 miles off Sandy Hook, New Jersey.

USS Pocahontas, Commander Benjamin M. Dove, fired on and damaged CSS George Page in Aquia Creek, Virginia.

Two floating torpedoes (mines) in the Potomac River were picked up by USS Resolute, Acting Master W. Budd- the earliest known use of torpedoes by the Confederates. During the course of the war a variety of ingenious torpedoes destroyed or damaged some 40 Union ships, forecasting the vast growth to come in this aspect of underwater naval warfare.

9 USS South Carolina, Commander Alden, seized and destroyed schooner Tom Hicks with a cargo of lum­ber off Galveston.

Confederate privateer Jefferson Davis captured American brig Mary E. Thompson of Bangor en route Antigua, and schooner Mary Goodell of New York en route Buenos Aires.

10 USS Minnesota, Flag Officer Stringham, captured Confederate brig Amy Warwick in Hampton Roads.

12 USS South Carolina, Commander Alden, captured Confederate schooner General T. J. Chambers off Galveston with a cargo of lumber.

13 USS Massachusetts, Commander M. Smith, seized schooner Hiland near Ship Island, Mississippi.

14 USS Daylight, Commander Samuel Lockwood, initiated blockade of Wilmington, North Carolina.

15 Captain Du Pont wrote: “The Department are [sic] worried about the privateers increasing so. Lieutenant Semmes has sent…. [vessels] into Cuba, but the Captain General ordered them to be imme­diately restored to their commanders.” Du Pont also noted that the privateer Jefferson Davis, “which has ventured so far north,” was also causing concern. Confederate privateers struck out boldly against Northern commerce and generated distress among shipping interests. However, as the naval blockade tightened and ports and coastal havens were seized by amphibious assault and other naval actions, opera­tions of Confederate raiders became increasingly difficult and restricted.

16 Blockade Strategy Board reported to Secretary of the Navy Welles on the necessity of halting Con­federate commerce: “…. it is an important object in the present war that this trade, home and foreign, should be interrupted…. The most obvious method of accomplishing this object is by putting down material obstructions; and the most convenient form of obstruction, for transportation and use, is that of old vessels laden with ballast…. sunk in the appropriate places.” This was the first sug­gestion for the “stone fleet”. Elimination of water-borne trade by the Union Navy blockade (more ef­fective than the “stone fleet” obstructions at harbor entrances), meant the economic ruination of the Confederacy.

USS St. Lawrence, Captain Hugh Y. Purviance, captured British blockade runner Herald, bound from Beaufort, North Carolina, to Liverpool.

William Tilghman, a Negro, overwhelmed Confederate prize crew on board schooner S.J. Waring and took possession of the vessel, carrying her into New York on 22 July.

18 Confederate schooner Favorite was captured by USS Yankee, Commander T. T. Craven, on Yeocomico River; Favorite was sunk later at Piney Point on the Potomac River.

Commander Ridgely, US Receiving Ship Allegheny, reported his ship had received a battery of guns from the Washington Navy Yard and was standing by in the harbor for the protection of Annapolis.

Confederate Secretary of the Navy Mallory reported: “The frigate Merrimack [later CSS Virginia] has been raised and docked at an expense of $6,000, and the necessary repairs to hull and machinery to place her in her former condition is estimated by experts at $450,000. The vessel would then be in the river, and by the blockade of the enemy’s fleets and batteries rendered comparatively useless. It has therefore been determined to shield her completely with 3 inch iron [4-inch armor was used], placed at such angles as to render her ball-proof, to complete her at the earliest moment, to arm her with the heaviest ordnance, and to send her at once against the enemy’s fleet. It is believed that thus prepared she will be able to contend successfully against the heaviest of the enemy’s ships and to drive them from Hampton Roads and the ports of Virginia. The cost of this work is estimated by the con­structor and engineer in charge at $172,523, and as time is of the first consequence in this enterprise I have not hesitated to commence the work and to ask Congress for the necessary appropriation.”

19 Captain- General of Cuba released all vessels brought into Cuban ports as prizes by CSS Sumter,

20 USS Mount Vernon, Commander Oliver S. Glisson, seized sloop Wild Pigeon on the Rappahannock River.

USS Albatross, Commander George A. Prentiss, recaptured Enchantress off Hatteras Inlet.

21 USS Albatross, Commander Prentiss, engaged CSS Beaufort, Lieutenant R. C. Duvall, in Oregon In­let, North Carolina. Albatross, heavier gunned, forced Beau fort to withdraw.

Confederate privateer Jefferson Davis captured American bark Alvarado in Atlantic (25o 04′ N, 50o 00′ W).

US Marines commanded by Major Reynolds took part in the First Battle of Bull Run: 9 Marines killed, 19 wounded, 16 missing in action. Commander Dahlgren wrote of the loss of two naval howitzers in the battle. The Confederates also had a naval battery at Manassas.

24 Congress approved bill authorizing the appointment of an Assistant Secretary of the Navy.

Act “to provide for the temporary increase of the Navy” passed by Congress; gave President authority to take vessels into the Navy and appoint officers for them, to any extent deemed necessary; this con­firmed action that had been taken by President Lincoln since April.

25 John LaMountain began balloon reconnaissance ascensions at Fort Monroe, Virginia.

CSS Sumter, Commander Semmes, captured schooner Abby Bradford in the Caribbean Sea and, denied the right to enter Venezuela with Confederate prizes, dispatched her to a Southern port.

Confederate privateer Mariner, Captain W. B. Berry, captured American schooner Nathaniel Chase off Ocracoke Inlet, North Carolina.

Confederate privateer Gordon captured American brig William McGlivery off Cape Hatteras with a cargo of molasses.

Confederate privateer Dixie captured American schooner Mary Alice off the cast coast of Florida.

USS Resolute, Acting Master W. Budd, brought two schooners and one sloop as prizes into Washing­ton, D.C.

27 CSS Sumter, Commander Semmes, captured American bark Joseph Maxwell off Venezuela.

28 USS Union, Commander J. R. Goldsborough, destroyed former American brig B. T. Martin north of Cape Hatteras, where she had been run aground by Confederates. B. T Martin had been captured previously by Confederate privateer York.

Confederate privateer Gordon captured American schooner Protector off Cape Hatteras.

USS St. Lawrence, Captain Purviance, sank Confederate privateer Petrel off Charleston.

29 USS Yankee, Commander T. T. Craven, and USS Reliance, Lieutenant Mygatt, engaged Confederate battery at Marlborough Point, Virginia.

Four US steamers engaged Confederate battery at Aquia Creek, Virginia, for three hours.

31 Confederate privateer Dixie captured American bark Glenn and took her to Beaufort, North Carolina

August 1861

1 USS Minnesota, Flag Officer Stringham. captured schooner Sally Mears at Hampton Roads.

Confederate privateer Petrel evaded blockaders and put to sea from Charleston.

2 USS South Carolina, Commander James Alden, initiated blockade of Galveston.

3 CSS Sumter, Commander Semmes, captured and burned American ship Golden Rocket near Isle of Pines, off the coast of Cuba.

4 USS South Carolina, Commander Alden, captured blockade running schooners Shark, Venus, Ann Ryan, McCanfield, Louisa, and Dart off Galveston.

5 USS South Carolina, Commander Alden, captured blockade running schooners Falcon and Coralia off Galveston.

USS Dana, Acting Master’s Mate Robert B. Ely, captured sloop Teaser in Nanjemoy Creek, Maryland.

6 USS South Carolina, Commander Alden, captured blockade running schooner George G. Baker, off Galveston.

Confederate privateer Jefferson Davis captured American brig John Welsh and schooner Enchantress east of Cape Hatteras.

CSS Sumter, Commander Semmes, arrived at Cienfuegos, Cuba, with seven US vessels taken as prizes Cuba, Machias, Ben Dunning, Albert Adams, Naiad, West Wind, Lewis Kilham. Semmes appointed a Cuban agent for custody of the prizes, expressing to the Governor there that he had entered that port “with the expectation that Spain will extend to cruisers of the Confederate States the same friendly reception that in similar circumstances she would extend to the cruisers of the enemy.

7 USS South Carolina, Commander Alden, captured schooner Sam Houston off Galveston.

Confederate privateer Jefferson Davis captured American schooner S. J. Waring about 150 miles off Sandy Hook, New Jersey.

USS Pocahontas, Commander Benjamin M. Dove, fired on and damaged CSS George Page in Aquia Creek, Virginia.

Two floating torpedoes (mines) in the Potomac River were picked up by USS Resolute, Acting Master W. Budd- the earliest known use of torpedoes by the Confederates. During the course of the war a variety of ingenious torpedoes destroyed or damaged some 40 Union ships, forecasting the vast growth to come in this aspect of underwater naval warfare.

9 USS South Carolina, Commander Alden, seized and destroyed schooner Tom Hicks with a cargo of lum­ber off Galveston.

Confederate privateer Jefferson Davis captured American brig Mary E. Thompson of Bangor en route Antigua, and schooner Mary Goodell of New York en route Buenos Aires.

10 USS Minnesota, Flag Officer Stringham, captured Confederate brig Amy Warwick in Hampton Roads.

12 USS South Carolina, Commander Alden, captured Confederate schooner General T. J. Chambers off Galveston with a cargo of lumber.

13 USS Massachusetts, Commander M. Smith, seized schooner Hiland near Ship Island, Mississippi.

14 USS Daylight, Commander Samuel Lockwood, initiated blockade of Wilmington, North Carolina.

15 Captain Du Pont wrote: “The Department are [sic] worried about the privateers increasing so. Lieutenant Semmes has sent…. [vessels] into Cuba, but the Captain General ordered them to be imme­diately restored to their commanders.” Du Pont also noted that the privateer Jefferson Davis, “which has ventured so far north,” was also causing concern. Confederate privateers struck out boldly against Northern commerce and generated distress among shipping interests. However, as the naval blockade tightened and ports and coastal havens were seized by amphibious assault and other naval actions, opera­tions of Confederate raiders became increasingly difficult and restricted.

16 Blockade Strategy Board reported to Secretary of the Navy Welles on the necessity of halting Con­federate commerce: “…. it is an important object in the present war that this trade, home and foreign, should be interrupted…. The most obvious method of accomplishing this object is by putting down material obstructions; and the most convenient form of obstruction, for transportation and use, is that of old vessels laden with ballast…. sunk in the appropriate places.” This was the first sug­gestion for the “stone fleet”. Elimination of water-borne trade by the Union Navy blockade (more ef­fective than the “stone fleet” obstructions at harbour entrances), meant the economic ruination of the Confederacy.

USS St. Lawrence, Captain Hugh Y Purviance, captured British blockade runner Herald, bound from Beaufort, North Carolina, to Liverpool.

William Tilghman, a Negro, overwhelmed Confederate prize crew on board schooner S.J. Waring and took possession of the vessel, carrying her into New York on 22 July.

18 Confederate schooner Favorite was captured by USS Yankee, Commander T. T. Craven, on Yeocomico River; Favorite was sunk later at Piney Point on the Potomac River.

Commander Ridgely, US Receiving Ship Allegheny, reported his ship had received a battery of guns from the Washington Navy Yard and was standing by in the harbour for the protection of Annapolis.

Confederate Secretary of the Navy Mallory reported: “The frigate Merrimack [later CSS Virginia] has been raised and docked at an expense of $6,000, and the necessary repairs to hull and machinery to place her in her former condition is estimated by experts at $450,000. The vessel would then be in the river, and by the blockade of the enemy’s fleets and batteries rendered comparatively useless. It has therefore been determined to shield her completely with 3 inch iron [4-inch armour was used], placed at such angles as to render her ball-proof, to complete her at the earliest moment, to arm her with the heaviest ordnance, and to send her at once against the enemy’s fleet. It is believed that thus prepared she will be able to contend successfully against the heaviest of the enemy’s ships and to drive them from Hampton Roads and the ports of Virginia. The cost of this work is estimated by the con­structor and engineer in charge at $172,523, and as time is of the first consequence in this enterprise I have not hesitated to commence the work and to ask Congress for the necessary appropriation.”

19 Captain- General of Cuba released all vessels brought into Cuban ports as prizes by CSS Sumter,

20 USS Mount Vernon, Commander Oliver S. Glisson, seized sloop Wild Pigeon on the Rappahannock River.

USS Albatross, Commander George A. Prentiss, recaptured Enchantress off Hatteras Inlet.

21 USS Albatross, Commander Prentiss, engaged CSS Beaufort, Lieutenant R. C. Duvall, in Oregon In­let, North Carolina. Albatross, heavier gunned, forced Beau fort to withdraw.

Confederate privateer Jefferson Davis captured American bark Alvarado in Atlantic (25o 04′ N, 50o 00′ W).

US Marines commanded by Major Reynolds took part in the First Battle of Bull Run: 9 Marines killed, 19 wounded, 16 missing in action. Commander Dahlgren wrote of the loss of two naval howitzers in the battle. The Confederates also had a naval battery at Manassas.

24 Congress approved bill authorizing the appointment of an Assistant Secretary of the Navy.

Act “to provide for the temporary increase of the Navy” passed by Congress; gave President authority to take vessels into the Navy and appoint officers for them, to any extent deemed necessary; this con­firmed action that had been taken by President Lincoln since April.

25 John LaMountain began balloon reconnaissance ascensions at Fort Monroe, Virginia.

CSS Sumter, Commander Semmes, captured schooner Abby Bradford in the Caribbean Sea and, denied the right to enter Venezuela with Confederate prizes, dispatched her to a Southern port.

Confederate privateer Mariner, Captain W. B. Berry, captured American schooner Nathaniel Chase off Ocracoke Inlet, North Carolina.

Confederate privateer Gordon captured American brig William McGilvery off Cape Hatteras with a cargo of molasses.

Confederate privateer Dixie captured American schooner Mary Alice off the cast coast of Florida.

USS Resolute, Acting Master W. Budd, brought two schooners and one sloop as prizes into Washing­ton, D.C.

27 CSS Sumter, Commander Semmes, captured American bark Joseph Maxwell off Venezuela.

28 USS Union, Commander J. R. Goldsborough, destroyed former American brig B. T. Martin north of Cape Hatteras, where she had been run aground by Confederates. B. T Martin had been captured previously by Confederate privateer York.

Confederate privateer Gordon captured American schooner Protector off Cape Hatteras.

USS St. Lawrence, Captain Purviance, sank Confederate privateer Petrel off Charleston.

29 USS Yankee, Commander T. T. Craven, and USS Reliance, Lieutenant Mygatt, engaged Confederate battery at Marlborough Point, Virginia.

Four US steamers engaged Confederate battery at Aquia Creek, Virginia, for three hours.

31 Confederate privateer Dixie captured American bark Glenn and took her to Beaufort, North Carolina.

September 1861
1 Lincoln received news late at night from Secretary of the Navy Welles of Flag Officer Stringham’s victory at Hatteras Inlet, in the initial Army- Navy expedition of the war. Coming shortly after the defeat at Bull Run, it electrified the North and greatly raised morale.

USS Dana, Acting Master’s Mate Ely, captured blockade running schooner T.J. Evans off Clay Island, Maryland, with a cargo including blankets, surgical instruments, and ordnance supplies.

4 Captain Du Pont wrote: “The first fruits of the labors of [the Blockade Strategy Board] came out on the North Carolina coast [Hatteras lnlet]…. we will secure the whole of those inland sounds and passages and hold all that coast by a flotilla the great morale effect and encouragement to the country are of incalculable service just now.”

CSS Yankee (also known as CSS Jackson) and Confederate batteries at Hickman, Kentucky, fired on USS Tyler, Commander J Rodgers, and Lexington. Commander Stembel, while the gunboats were reconnoitring Mississippi River south from Cairo,

USS Jamestown Commander Green, captured Confederate schooner Colonel Long. removed her cargo, and scuttled her off the coast of Georgia.

5 Captain A.H. Foote reported at St. Louis, Missouri, to relieve Commander J. Rodgers in command of naval operations on the western rivers.

6 Gunboats USS Tyler, Commander J. Rodgers, and USS Lexington. Commander Stembel, spearheaded operations by which General Grant, in his first move after taking command at Cairo, seized strategic Paducah and Smithland, Kentucky, at the mouths of the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers. Captain Foote, newly designated naval commander in the west, participated in the operation. This initial use of strength afloat by Grant, aimed at countering a Confederate move into the State, helped preserve Kentucky for the Union, and foreshadowed the General’s great reliance on naval mobility and support throughout the campaigns which divided the Confederacy and placed the entire Mississippi under Union control.

US consul in London reported purchase by Confederates of steamers Bermuda, Adelaide, and Victoria.

9 USS Cambridge, Commander William A. Parker, captured schooner Louisa Agnes off Nova Scotia.

10 USS Conestoga, Lieutenant S. L. Phelps, and USS Lexington, Commander Stembel, covering a troop advance, silenced the guns of a Confederate battery and damaged gunboat CSS Yankee at Lucas Bend, Missouri.

USS Pawnee, Commander Rowan, captured schooner Susan Jane in Hatteras Inlet. Other blockade runners, unaware that the Union Navy now controlled the inlet, were also taken as prizes.

USS Cambridge, Commander W. A. Parker, captured British blockade running schooner Revere off Beaufort, North Carolina, with a cargo of salt and herring.

11 USS South Carolina, Commander Alden, captured Soledeid Cos with a cargo of coffee off Galveston.

13 USS Susquehanna, Captain John S. Chauncey, captured blockade running British schooner Argonaut. with a cargo of fish, bound from Nova Scotia to Key West.

CSS Patrick Henry. Commander John R. Tucker, exchanged fire with USS Savannah, Captain Hull, and USS Louisiana, Lieutenant Alexander Murray, off Newport News; shot on both sides fell short.

14 In the early morning darkness sailors and Marines from USS Colorado, rowing in to Pensacola Har­bor, boarded and burned Confederate privateering schooner Judah. and spiked guns at Pensacola Navy Yard.

USS Albatross. Commander Prentiss, captured schooner Alabama near the mouth of the Potomac River.

16 Ironclad Board reported to Secretary of the Navy Welles: “For river and harbor service we consider iron-clad vessels of light draught, or floating batteries thus shielded, as very important…. Armored ships or batteries may be employed advantageously to pass fortifications on land for ulterior objects of attack, to run a blockade, or to reduce temporary batteries on the shores of rivers and the approaches to our harbors.” The Board recommended construction of three ironclads (Monitor. Galena, and New Ironsides). These ships, and those that followed, revolutionized naval warfare.

USS Conestoga, Lieutenant S. L. Phelps, captured Confederate steamers V.R. Stephenson and Gazelle on Cumberland River, Kentucky.

16-17 Landing party from USS Pawnee, Commander Rowan, destroyed guns and fortifications on Beacon Island, closing Ocracoke Inlet, North Carolina. Admiral D. D. Porter later wrote: “The closing of these inlets [Hatteras and Ocracoke] to the Sounds of North Carolina sent the blockade runners elsewhere to find entrance to Southern markets, but as channel after channel was closed the smugglers’ chance diminished….”

17 Confederates evacuated Ship Island, Mississippi; landing party from USS Massachusetts took possession. Ship Island eventually became the staging area for General Butler’s troops in the amphibious opera­tions below New Orleans.

18 USS Rescue, Master Edward L. Haines, captured Confederate schooner Hartford with a cargo of wheat and tobacco on the Potomac River.

Flag Officer Du Pont was appointed Commander South Atlantic Blockading Squadron. Du Pont wrote : “My appointment as a flag officer will be dated today…. Things have taken an active turn, and this day is an epoch in naval history–seniority and rotation have seen their last day. Selection with as much regard to seniority as the good of the service will admit is now the order of the day.”

Secretary of the Navy Welles wrote Flag Officer Louis M. Goldsborough, appointed to command North Atlantic Blockading Squadron: “It is essentially necessary that the Navy should at this time put forth all its strength and demonstrate to the country and to foreign powers its usefulness and capa­bility in protecting and supporting the Government and the Union. There must be no commercial intercourse with the ports that are in insurrection, and our Navy must, by its power, energy, and ac­tivity, enforce the views of the President and the Government on this subject. Privateers to depredate on our commerce and rob our countrymen pursuing their peaceful avocations must not be permitted…”

19 USS Gemsbok, Acting Master Edward Cavendy, captured blockade running schooner Harmony, en route Nova Scotia to Ocracoke, North Carolina.

21 Boat under Midshipman Edward A. Walker from USS Seminole, Commander Gillis, captured sloop Maryland on the Potomac River.

22 USS Gemsbok, Acting Master Cavendy, captured schooner Mary E. Pindar off Federal Point, North Caro­lina, attempting to run the blockade with a cargo of lime.

Flag Officer McKean assumed command of the Gulf Blockading Squadron.

23 USS Lexington, Commander Stembel, proceeded to Owenshoro, Kentucky, “for the purpose of keeping the Ohio River open” and in order to protect Union interests in the area. Such expeditions deep into territory with Confederate sympathies were fundamental in containing Southern advances in the border states.

U.S S. Cambridge, Commander W.A. Parker, captured British schooner, Julia bound for Beaufort, North Carolina.

Flag Officer L.M. Goldsborough assumed command of North Atlantic Blockading Squadron including operations in the Chesapeake.

24 USS Dart, Acting Master William M. Wheeler, captured Confederate schooner Cecelia off Louisiana, thereafter fitted out as Union cruiser by USS Huntsville, Commander Cicero Price.

25 CSS Sumter, Commander Semmes. captured American ship Joseph Park off northeast coast of South America; three days later burned her at sea.

USS Jacob Bell, Lieutenant Edward P. McCrea, and USS Seminole, Lieutenant Charles S. Norton, engaged Confederate battery at Freestone Point, Virginia.

Secretary of the Navy Welles instructed Flag Officer Du Pont, commanding South Atlantic Blockading Squadron: “The Department finds it necessary to adopt a regulation with respect to the large and increasing number of persons of color, commonly known as ‘contrabands.’ now subsisted at the navy yards and on board ships-of-war. These can neither be expelled from the service, to which they have resorted, nor can they be maintained unemployed, and it is not proper that they should be compelled to render necessary and regular services without compensation. You are therefore authorized, when their services can be made useful, to enlist them for the naval service, under the same forms and regulations as apply to other enlistments. They will be allowed, however, no higher rating than ‘boys,’ at a com­pensation of ten dollars per month and one ration per day.”

28 USS Susquehanna, Captain Chauncey, captured Confederate schooner San Juan, bound for Elizabeth City, North Carolina, with a cargo of salt, sugar, and gin.

29 USS Susquehanna, Captain Chauncey, captured schooner Baltimore off Hatteras Inlet.

30 USS Dart, Acting Master Wheeler, captured schooner Zavalla off Vermillion Bay, Louisiana.

USS Niagara, Captain John Pope, captured pilot boat Frolic at South West Pass of the Mississippi River.

Cecelia, prize and render to USS Huntsville, Commander Price, captured blockade running schooner Ranchero west of Vermillion Bay

October 1861

1 Confederate naval forces, including CSS Curlew, Raleigh, and Junaluska. under flag Officer William F. Lynch, CSN, captured steamer Fanny in Pamlico Sound with Union troops on board. Colonel Claiborne Snead, CSA, reported: “The victory was important in more respects than one. It was our first naval success in North Carolina and the first capture made by our arms of an armed war- vessel of the enemy. and dispelled the gloom of recent disasters. The property captured [two rifled guns and large amount of army stores] was considerable, much needed, and highly esteemed….”

Secretary Welles, in a letter to Secretary Seward, opposed issuing letters of marque because it would be “a recognition of the assumption of the insurgents that they are a distinct and independent nationality.”

3 Captain Eagle, commanding USS Santee, reported return of USS Sam Houston to Galveston with schooner Reindeer, captured off San Luis Pass, Texas. The schooner, deemed worthless, was sunk.

4 USS South Carolina, Commander Alden, captured Confederate schooners Ezilda and Joseph H. Toone off South West Pass of the Mississippi River with four to five thousand stand of arms.

5 Two boats from USS Louisiana, Lieutenant A. Murray, destroyed Confederate schooner being fitted out as a privateer at Chincoteague Inlet, Virginia.

USS Monticello, Lieutenant Daniel L. Braine, drove off Confederate troops and steamers attacking Union soldiers in the vicinity of Hatteras Inlet.

6 USS Flag, Commander Louis C. Sartori, captured Confederate blockade running schooner Alert near Charleston.

7 USS Tyler, Commander Walke, and USS Lexington, Commander Stembel, exchanged fire with Confederate batteries at Iron Bluffs, near Columbus, Kentucky.

USS Louisiana, Lieutenant A. Murray, captured schooner S.T. Garrison, with a cargo of wood, near Wallops Island, Virginia.

9 Confederate steamer Ivy, Lieutenant Joseph Fry, attacked US blockading vessels at Head of Passes, Mississippi River; No damage caused but long range of Ivy’s guns concerned naval officers.

10 USS Daylight, Commander Lockwood, silenced Confederate battery attacking American ship John Clark anchored in Lynnhaven Bay, Virginia.

Confederate troops at Tampa Bay captured American sloop William Batty.

11 Lieutenant Abram D. Harrell of USS Union. with 3 boat crews cut out and burned Confederate schooner in Dumfries Creek on the Potomac River.

12 Confederate metal-sheathed ram Manassas, Commodore Hollins, CSN, in company with armed steamer Ivy and James L. Day, attacked USS Richmond, Vincennes, Water Witch, Nightingale, and Preble near Head of Passes, Mississippi River. In this offensive and spirited action by the small Confederate force, Manassas rammed Richmond, forced her and Vincennes aground under heavy fire before withdrawing. Acting Master Edward F. Devens of Vincennes observed: “From the appearance of the Richmond’s side in the vicinity of the hole, I should say that the ram had claws or hooks attached to her…. for the purpose of tearing out the plank from the ship’s side, It is a most destructive invention…. [Manassas] resembles in shape, a cigar cut lengthwise, and very low in the water. She must be covered with railroad iron as all the shells which struck her glanced off, some directly at right angles. You could hear the shot strike quite plainly. They did not appear to trouble her much as she ran up the river at a very fast rate.”

Confederate ship Theodora ran the blockade at Charleston with Mason and Slidell, Commissioners to Eng­land and France respectively, on board.

Confederate privateer Sallie captured American brig Granada in the Atlantic (33o N, 71o W):

USS Dale, Commander Edward M. Yard, captured schooner Specie east of Jacksonville, bound for Havana with large a cargo of rice.

Secretary of the Navy Welles wrote Flag Officer Du Pont: “In examining the various points upon the coast, it has been ascertained that Bull’s Bay, St. Helena, Port Royal, and Fernandina, are each and all accessible and desirable points for the purposes indicated [Fleet coaling and supply stations], and the Government has decided to take possession of at least two of them.” Coaling and supply depots seized by the Navy on the Southern coast allowed blockaders to remain on station for longer periods without returning to Northern navy yards.

Warning given that Confederates had lined James River with powerful submarine batteries (mines).

13 USS Keystone State, Commander Gustavus H. Scott, captured Confederate steamer Salvor near the Tortugas Islands with a cargo of coffee, cigars, and munitions.

14 In the presence of Lieutenant A. Murray of USS Louisiana, citizens of Chincoteague Island, Virginia, took the oath of allegiance to the United States and presented a petition in which they stated their “abhorrence of the secession heresy.”

15 USS Roanoke, Flag, Monticello, and Vandalia captured and burned blockade runner Thomas Watson on Stono Reef, off Charleston.

16 USS South Carolina, Commander Alden, captured schooner Edward Barnard with a cargo of turpentine on board at South West Pass, Mississippi River.

17 Flag Officer Du Pont wrote: ‘There is no question that Port Royal is the most important point to strike, and the most desirable to have first and hold…. Port Royal alone admits the large ships– and gives us such a naval position on the sea coast as our Army is holding across the Potomac.” Sub­sequently, the strategic importance of Port Royal to the Union Navy and the blockade substantiated this judgment.

Confederate privateer Sallie, Master Henry S. Lebby, captured American brig Betsey Ames opposite the Bahama Banks with a cargo including machinery.

18 USS Gemsbok, Acting Master Cavendy, captured brig Ariel off Wilmington with a cargo of salt.

19 USS Massachusetts, Commander M. Smith, engaged CSS Florida, Lieutenant Charles W. Hays, in Mississippi Sound. Though the battle was inconclusive, Captain Levin M. Powell of USS Potomac noted one result that could be bothersome to Union naval forces: “The caliber and long range of the rifled cannon [of Florida]…. established the ability of these fast steam gunboats to keep out of the range of all broadside guns, and enables them to disregard the armament or magnitude of all ships thus armed, or indeed any number of them, when sheltered by shoal water.”

21 Charles P. Leavitt, Second Virginia Regiment, wrote the Confederate Secretary of War: “I have in­vented an instrument of war which for a better name I have called a submarine gunboat…. My plan is simple. A vessel is built of boiler iron of about fifty tons burden…. but made of an oval form with the propeller behind. This is for the purpose of having as little draft of water as possible for the purpose of passing over sand-bars without being observed by the enemy. The engines are of the latest and best style so as to use as little steam as possible in proportion to the power received. The boilers are so constructed as to generate steam without a supply of air. The air for respiration is kept in a fit condition for breathing by the gradual addition of oxygen, while the carbonic acid is absorbed by a shower of lime water…. I propose to tow out my gun-boat to sea and when within range of the enemy’s guns it sinks below the water’s surface so as to leave no trace on the surface of its ap­proach, a self-acting apparatus keeping it at any depth required. When within a few rods of the enemy it leaps to surface and the two vessels come in contact before the enemy can fire a gun. Placed in the bow of the gun-boat is a small mortar containing a self-exploding shell. As it strikes the engines are reversed, the gun-boat sinks below the surface and goes noiselessly on its way toward another ship. After a few ships are sunk the enemy can scarcely have the temerity to remain in our waters…. I have written you on this subject in order to obtain an opportunity to draft out my invention, which with the means at command in Richmond can be done in a week….” Although Leavitt’s scheme was not adopted, it was an interesting indication of early thinking about submarines in the South. Ultimately the Confederacy built H. L. Hunley, first submarine to be used successfully in combat.

22 Captain T. T. Craven, commanding Potomac River Flotilla, reported the Potomac River was com­manded by Confederate batteries at all important points below Alexandria.

23 Officers and men of privateer Savannah went on trial in New York, charged with “piracy.”

25 John Ericcson began construction of single-turret, two-gun ironclad USS Monitor at Greenpoint, New York.

Flag Officer Du Pont wrote Assistant Secretary of the Navy Fox of the continuing importance of am­phibious training: “Landing a brigade today to exercise Ferry boats and Surf boats-reaping immense advantages from the experiment by seeing the defects.”

USS Rhode Island, Lieutenant Stephen D. Trenchard, captured schooner Aristides off Charlotte Harbor, Florida.

26 USS Conestoga, Lieutenant S. L. Phelps, transported Union troops to Eddyville, Kentucky, for attack on Confederate cavalry at Saratoga.

CSS Nashville, Lieutenant Pegram, ran the blockade out of Charleston.

27 USS Santee, Captain Eagle, captured brig Delta off Galveston.

CSS Sumter, Commander Semmes, captured and burned American schooner Trowbridge in the Atlantic after removing a five months’ supply of provisions.

27-28 Boat expedition from USS Louisiana led by Lieutenant Alfred Hopkins surprised and burned three Confederate vessels at Chincoteague Inlet, Virginia.

29 Large Union expedition to Port Royal, South Carolina, sailed from Fort Monroe, under command of Flag Officer Du Pont in USS Wabash. Comprising 77 vessels, it was the largest US Fleet ever as­sembled to that date. Army forces numbered about 16,000 men, commanded by Brigadier General Thomas W. Sherman. Port Royal Sound, about equi-distant from Savannah and Charleston, was of recognized importance, and one of the first locations fortified by the Confederates against the entrance of Union ships.

30 Confederate privateer Sallie captured American brig B. K. Eaton.
Confederate forces sank stone-filled barges to obstruct Cumberland River near Fort Donelson, Ten­nessee, against the advance of Union gunboats.

November 1861

1 Violent storm struck the Port Royal Sound Expedition off the Carolina coast, widely scattering naval vessels, transports, and supply ships and jeopardizing the success of this major undertaking. However, the damage to the Fleet was less than could have been expected. All ships had been furnished with secret instructions to be opened at sea only in case of separation from the Fleet.

2 USS Sabine, Captain Cadwalader Ringgold, rescued Major John G. Reynolds and a battalion of US Marines under his command from US transport Governor, unit of the Port Royal Sound Expedition, sinking off Georgetown, South Carolina.

British steamer Bermuda ran the blockade at Charleston with 2000 bales of cotton.

4 Coast Survey Ship Vixen entered Port Royal Sound to sound channel escorted by USS Ottawa and Seneca. Confederate naval squadron under Commodore Tattnall took Union ships under fire.

5 USS Ottawa, Pembina, Seneca, and Pawnee engaged and dispersed small Confederate squadron in Port Royal Sound, fired on Fort Beauregard and Fort Walker.

6 USS Rescue, Lieutenant William Gwin, captured and burned schooner Ada hard aground in Corroto­man Creek, Virginia.

Captain Purviance, commander of USS St. Lawrence, reported capture of British schooner Fanny Lee, running the blockade at Darien, Georgia, with a cargo of rice and tobacco.

7 Naval forces under Flag Officer Du Pont captured Port Royal Sound. While Du Pont’s ships steamed in boldly, the naval gunners poured a withering fire into the defending Forts Walker and Beauregard with extreme accuracy. The Confederate defenders abandoned the Forts, and the small Confederate naval squadron under Commodore Tattnall could offer only harassing resistance but did rescue troops by ferrying them to the mainland from Hilton Head. Marines and sailors were landed to occupy the Forts until turned over to Army troops under General T. W. Sherman. Careful planning and skill­full execution had given Du Pont a great victory and the Union Navy an important base of operations. The Confederates were compelled to withdraw coastal defenses inland out of reach of naval gunfire. Du Pont wrote: “It is not my temper to rejoice over fallen foes, but this must be a gloomy night in Charleston.”

USS Tyler, Commander Walke, and USS Lexington, Commander Stembel, supported 3000 Union troops under General Grant at the Battle of Belmont, Missouri, and engaged Confederate batteries along the Mississippi River. The arrival of Confederate reinforcements compelled Grant to withdraw under pressure. Grape, canister, and shell from the gunboats scattered the Confederates, enabling Union troops to re-embark on their transports. Grant, with characteristic restraint, reported that the gunboats’ service was “most efficient,” having “protected our transports throughout.”

8 USS San Jacinto, Captain Wilkes, stopped British mail steamer Trent in Old Bahama Channel and removed Confederate Commissioners Mason and Slidell. The action sparked a serious international incident.

Boat expedition under Lieutenant, James E. Jouett from USS Santee surprised and captured Confederate crew of schooner Royal Yacht, and burned the vessel at Galveston.

USS Rescue, Lieutenant Gwin, shelled Confederate battery at Urbana Creek, Virginia, and captured large schooner.

9 Gunboats of Flag Officer Du Pont’s force took possession of Beaufort, South Carolina, and, by block­ing the mouth of Broad River, cut off this communication link between Charleston and Savannah.

Major-General Robert E. Lee wrote Confederate Secretary of War Judah P. Benjamin regarding the effects of the Union Navy’s victory at Port Royal: “The enemy having complete possession of the water and inland navigation, commands all the islands on the coast and threatens both Savannah and Charleston, and can come in his boats, within 4 miles of this place [Lee’s headquarters, Coosawhatchie, South Carolina]. His sloops of war and large steamers can come up Broad River to Mackay’s Point, the mouth of the Pocotaligo, and his gunboats can ascend some distance up the Coosawhatchie and Tulifinny. We have no guns that can resist their batteries, and have no resources but to prepare to meet them in the field.”

11 Thaddeus Lowe made balloon observation of Confederate forces from Balloon- Boat G.W. Parke Custis anchored in Potomac River. G. W. Parke Custis was procured for $150, and readied for the service at the Washington Navy Yard. Lowe reported: “I left the navy-yard early Sunday morning, the 10th instant–…. towed our by the steamer Coeur de Lion, having on board competent assistant aeronauts, together with my new gas generating apparatus, which, though used for the first time, worked admi­rably. We located at the mouth of Mattawoman Creek, about three miles from the opposite or Vir­ginia shore. Yesterday [11 November] proceeded to make observations accompanied in my ascensions by General Sickles and others. We had a fine view of the enemy’s camp-fires during the evening, and saw the rebels constructing new batteries at Freestone Point.”

12 Fingal (later CSS Atlanta ), purchased in England, entered Savannah laden with military supplies– the first ship to run the blockade solely on Confederate government account.

USS W.G. Anderson, Acting Lieutenant William C. Rogers, captured Confederate privateer Beauregard near Abaco.

13 USS Water Witch, Lieutenant Aaron K. Hughes, captured blockade running British brigantine Cornu­copia off Mobile.

14 US cutter Mary, Captain Pease, seized Confederate privateer Neva at San Francisco, California.

15 Confederate Commissioners Mason and Slidell disembarked from USS San Jacinto, Captain Wilkes, at Fort Monroe.

USS Dale, Commander Yard, captured British schooner Mabel east of Jacksonville.

16 Confederate Secretary of the Navy Mallory advertised for plans and bids for building four seagoing ironclads capable of carrying four heavy guns each.

17 USS Connecticut, Commander Maxwell Woodhull, captured British schooner Adeline, loaded with mili­tary stores and supplies off Cape Canaveral, Florida.

18 USS Monticello, Lieutenant Braine, engaged Confederate battery near New Inlet, North Carolina.

USS Conestoga, Lieutenant S. L. Phelps, on expedition up Cumberland River, dispersed Confederate forces and silenced battery at Canton, Kentucky.

19 CSS Nashville, Lieutenant Pegram, captured and burned American clipper ship Harvey Birch, bound from Le Havre to New York.

21 USS New London, Lieutenant Abner Read, with USS R. R. Cuyler and crew members of USS Mas­sachusetts, captured Confederate schooner Olive with a cargo of lumber in Mississippi Sound; same force took steamer Anna, with naval stores, the following day.

22 Two days of combined gunfire commenced from USS Niagara, Flag Officer McKean, USS Richmond, Captain Francis B. Ellison, and Fort Pickens against Confederate defenses at Fort McRee, the Pensa­cola Navy Yard, and the town of Warrington, terminating the following day with damage to Confed­erate positions and to USS Richmond.

US Marine Corps authorized to enlist an additional 500 privates and proportionate number of non­-commissioned officers.

23 CSS Sumter, Commander Semmes, evaded USS Iroquois at Martinique and steamed on course for Europe.

Confederate gunboat Tuscarora accidentally destroyed by fire near Helena, Arkansas.

24 Landing party from USS Flag, Commander J. Rodgers, USS Augusta, Pocahontas, Seneca, and Savan­nah, took possession of the Tybee Island, Savannah Harbor. “This abandonment of Tybee Island,” Du Pont reported, “is due to the terror inspired by the bombardment of Forts Walker and Beauregard, and is a direct fruit of the victory of the 7th [capture of Port Royal Sound].”

25 First armor plate for shipment to CSS Virginia (ex-USS Merrimack) accepted by Confederate Secre­tary of the Navy Mallory.

USS Penguin, Acting Lieutenant Thomas A. Budd, captured blockade running schooner Albion near North Edisto, South Carolina, with a cargo of arms, munitions, and provisions.

CSS Sumter, Commander Semmes, captured American brig Montmorenci off Leeward Islands.

26 CSS Savannah, Commodore Tattnall, and three steamers sortied against Union fleet in Cockspur Roads, Savannah; unsuccessful in effort to draw blockading vessels within range of Fort Pulaski’s guns.

Flag Officer Du Pont observed the blockade’s increasing pressure on the South’s economy: “The flag is hoisted on the lighthouse and martello tower at Tybee…. Shoes are $8 a pair in Charleston. Salt $7 a bushel, no coffee– women going into the interior– [Captain James L.] Lardner has closed the port so effectively that they can no longer get fish even.”

CSS Sumter, Commander Semmes, captured and burned American schooner Arcade north of Leeward Islands.

27 USS Vincennes, Lieutenant Samuel Marcy, boarded and seized blockade running British bark Empress, aground at the mouth of the Mississippi River, with large a cargo of coffee.

28 USS New London, Lieutenant A. Read, captured Confederate blockade runner Lewis, with a cargo of sugar and molasses, and schooner A. J. View, with a cargo of turpentine and tar, off Ship Island, Mississippi.

29 Lieutenant Worden, later commanding officer of USS Monitor, arrived in Washington after seven months as a prisoner in the South.

30 USS Wanderer, Lieutenant James H. Spotts, captured blockade running British schooner Telegraph near Indian Key, Florida.

USS Savannah, Commander John S. Missroon, with other ships in company, seized Confederate schooner E.J. Waterman, after the vessel grounded at Tybee Island with a cargo of coffee on board

December 1861

1 USS New London, Lieutenant A. Read, captured sloop Advocate in Mississippi Sound.

USS Seminole, Commander Gillis, seized sloop Lida, from Havana, off St. Simon’s Sound, Georgia, with a cargo of coffee, lead, and sugar.

2 In his first annual report, Secretary of the Navy Welles reported to President Lincoln that: “Since the institution of the blockade one hundred and fifty-three vessels have been captured…. most of which were attempting to violate the blockade…. When the vessels now building and purchased are ready for service, the condition of the navy will be…. a total of 264 vessels, 2,557 guns, and 218,016 tons. The aggregate number of seamen in the service…. Is now not less than 22,000…. The amount appropriated at the last regular session of Congress for the naval service for the current year was $13,168,675.86. To this was added at the special session in July last $30,446,875.91- making for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1862, an aggregate of $43,615,551.77. This sum will not be sufficient….”

CSS Patrick Henry, Commander Tucker, attacked four Union steamers above Newport News; Patrick Henry damaged in the two hour action.

Lieutenant Robert D. Minor, CSN, reported a laboratory had been organized at New Orleans “for the supply of ordnance stores for the vessels fitting out at this station.”

3 CSS Sumter, Commander Semmes, captured and burned at sea American ship Vigilant, bound from New York to the West Indies.

USS Santiago de Cuba, Commander Ridgely, captured British blockade running schooner Victoria.

4 Confederate steamers Florida and Pamlico attacked USS Montgomery, Commander Thompson D. Shaw, off Horn Island Pass, Mississippi Sound.

5 Flag Officer Du Pont, regarding expedition to Wassaw Sound, Georgia, and plans for the use of the “stone fleet,” wrote: “Ottawa, Pembina, and Seneca penetrated into Wassaw the ‘stone fleet’ are all at Savannah, and I hardly know what to do with them- for with Wassaw that city is more effectively closed than a bottle with wire over the cork…. I am sending to [Captain James L.] Lardner to know if he can plant them on the Charleston bar…. One good thing they [the ‘stone fleet’s’ appearance at Savannah] did, I have not a doubt they were taken for men-of-war, and led to giving up the Wassaw defenses….”

6 USS Augusta, Commander Parrott, captured British blockade runner Cheshire off South Carolina.

8 CSS Sumter, Commander Semmes, captured and burned American bark Eben Dodge in the mid-Atlantic (30o 57′ N, 51o 49′ W), equipped for whaling voyage in Pacific.

USS Rhode Island, Lieutenant Trenchard, seized British blockade runner Phantom with a cargo of sugar off Cape Lookout, North Carolina.

9 USS New London, Lieutenant A: Read, captured schooner Delight and sloops Express and Osceola off Cat Island Passage, Mississippi.

USS Harriet Lane, Lieutenant Robert H. Wyman, and other vessels of the Potomac Flotilla engaged Confederate forces at Freestone Point, Virginia.

10 USS Isaac Smith, Lieutenant James W. A. Nicholson, on expedition up Ashepoo River, South Caro­lina, landed on Otter Island and took possession of abandoned Confederate fort; Nicholson turned over command of the fort to the Army.

11 USS Bienville, Commander Steedman, captured schooner Sarah and Caroline off St. John’s River, Florida.

USS South Carolina, Commander Alden, captured Confederate sloop Florida off lighthouse at Timbalier, Louisiana.

12 USS Alabama, Commander Edward Lanier, captured British ship Admiral off Savannah, attempting to run the blockade.

USS Isaac Smith, Lieutenant J. W. A. Nicholson, on a reconnaissance in the Ashepoo River, South Carolina, with Marine detachment embarked, scattered Confederate troops by gunfire and landed Marines to destroy their quarters.

15 USS Stars and Stripes, Lieutenant Reed Werden, captured blockade running schooner Charity off Cape Hatteras.

USS Jamestown, Commander Green, captured Confederate sloop Havelock near Cape Fear, North Carolina.

17 Flag Officer Foote, Commanding US Naval Forces, Western Waters, issued General Order regarding observance of Sunday on board ships of his flotilla: “It is the wish…. that on Sunday the public worship of Almighty God may be observed…. and that the respective commanders will either them­selves, or cause other persons to pronounce prayers publicly on Sunday….” Foote added: “Discipline to be permanent must be based on moral grounds, and officers must in themselves, show a good example in morals, order, and patriotism to secure these qualities in the men.” Since 1775 Navy Regulations have required that religious services be held on board ships of the Navy in peace and war.

Seven “stone fleet” vessels sunk at entrance of Savannah Harbor.

19 Confederate forces demolished lighthouse on Morris Island, Charleston.

20 “Stone fleet” sunk at Charleston by Captain C. H. Davis, Steamer Gordon ran the blockade off Wilmington.

21 US Congress authorized Medal of Honor, the Nation’s highest award.

24 USS Gem of the Sea, Lieutenant Irvin B. Baxter, captured and destroyed British blockade runner Prince of Wales off Georgetown, South Carolina.

Confederate Secretary of the Navy Mallory wrote Major-General Leonidas Polk, commanding troops at Columbus, Kentucky, requesting furlough of troops to assist in construction of ironclad gunboats at Memphis. Mallory commented: “One of them at Columbus would have enabled you to complete the annihilation of the enemy.”

25 USS Fernandina, Acting Lieutenant George W. Browne, captured schooner William H. Northrup off Cape Fear, North Carolina.

26 Confederate Fleet, including CSS Savannah, Commodore Tattnall, Resolute, Sampson, Ida, and Barton, attacked Union blockading ships at mouth of Savannah River. Before returning to his anchorage under the guns of Fort Pulaski, Tattnall forced the blockaders to move seaward temporarily.

USS Rhode Island, Lieutenant Trenchard, captured Confederate schooner Venus southeast of Sabine Pass, off the Louisiana coast.

27 Flag Officer Du Pont wrote regarding the “Trent Affair”: “I hope now that our politicians will begin to learn, that something is necessary to be ‘a great universal Yankee Nation etc.’ than politics and party. We should have armies and navies and have those appurtenances which enable a nation to de­fend itself and not be compelled to submit to humiliation [releasing Mason and Slidell]…. Thirty ships like the Wabash would have spared us this without firing a gun, with an ironclad frigate or two.”

28 USS New London, Lieutenant A. Read, captured Confederate schooner Gipsey with a cargo of cotton in Mis­sissippi Sound.

29 CSS Sea Bird, Flag Officer Lynch, evaded Union gunfire and captured large schooner near Hampton Roads carrying fresh water to Fort Monroe.

30 USS Santee, Captain Eagle, captured schooner Garonne off Galveston.

Flag Officer Foote wrote Assistant Secretary of the Navy Fox of the pay scale he was using: “In the case of Masters, and Pilots, I have been obliged, in order to secure the services of efficient Men, to pay 1st Masters $150. per month, 2nd Masters $125, 3rd Masters $100, and 4th Masters $80. per month, while Pilots are paid $175. per month. These prices are much less than the incumbents received in ordinary times, while they have before been provided with table furniture and stores, bedding & c., which I have not allowed them.”

31 Biloxi, Mississippi, surrendered to a landing party of seamen and Marines covered by USS Water Witch, New London, and Henry Lewis; a small Confederate battery was destroyed, two guns and schooner Captain Spedden captured.

Flag Officer Foote wrote Assistant Secretary of the Navy Fox about the delay in fitting out mortar boats: “I did say and still consider the mortar boats very defective. They are built of solid timber and when armed and manned will be awash with the deck… – all will leak more or less. Still I would have them fitted out, with all their defects.” Foote made excellent use of the mortar boats later at Island No. 10.

USS Augusta, Commander Parrott, captured Confederate schooner Island Belle attempting to run the blockade near Bull’s Bay, South Carolina.

Two boats, under Acting Masters A. Allen and H. L. Sturges, from USS Mount Vernon, destroyed lightship off Wilmington which had been fitted out as a gunboat by Confederates.

31-2 January Naval squadron under Commander C. R. P. Rodgers, including gunboats Ottawa, Pembina, and Seneca and four armed boats carrying howitzers, joined General Stevens’ troops in successful am­phibious attack on Confederate positions at Port Royal Ferry and on Coosaw River. Gunboat fire covered the troop advance, and guns and naval gunners were landed as artillery support. Army signal officers acted as gunfire observers and coordinators on board the ships. The action disrupted Confederate plans to erect batteries and build troop strength in the area intending to close Coosaw River and iso­late Federal troops on Port Royal Island. General Stevens wrote: “I would do great injustice to my
own feelings did I fail to express my satisfaction and delight with the recent cooperation of the command of Captain Rodgers in our celebration of New Year’s Day. Whether regard be had to his beau­tiful working of the gunboats in the narrow channel of Port Royal, the thorough concert of action established through the signal officers, or the masterly handling of the guns against the enemy, noth­ing remained to be desired. Such a cooperation…. augurs everything, propitious for the welfare of our cause in this quarter of the country.”

January 1862

1 USS Yankee, Lieutenant Eastman, and USS Anacostia, Lieutenant Oscar C. Badger, exchanged fire with Confederate batteries at Cockpit Point, Potomac River; Yankee was damaged slightly. Attacks by ships of the Potomac Flotilla were instrumental in forcing the withdrawal of strong Confederate emplacements along the river. Batteries at Cockpit and Shipping Point were abandoned by 9 March 1862.

Flag Officer Foote reported to Secretary of the Navy Welles that he was sending USS Lexington, Lieutenant Shirk, to join USS Conestoga, Lieutenant S. L. Phelps, which had been rendering valu­able service in her river cruising ground, protecting “Union people” on the borders of the Ohio River and its tributaries; indeed, the control of the rivers advanced Union frontiers deep into territory sympathetic to the South. Foote added: “I am using all possible dispatch in getting all the gunboats ready for service. There is great demand for them in different places in the western rivers.”

Confederate Commissioners Mason and Slidell left Boston for England, via Provincetown, Massa­chusetts, where they boarded H.M.S. Rinaldo.

2 Flag Officer L. M. Goldsborough ordered USS Louisiana, Lockwood, I. N. Seymour, Shawsheen, and Whitehall (forced to return to Newport News because of engine trouble) to Hatteras Inlet, “using a sound discretion in time of departing.” Goldsborough wrote Secretary of the Navy Welles the next day: “When they arrive there, twelve of this squadron will have been assembled in that quarter. With the rest we are driving on as fast as possible.” Since early December extensive preparations for the joint attack on Roanoke Island- the key to Albemarle Sound-had been underway in a move not only to seal off the North Carolina coast, but also to back up General McClellan’s Peninsular Campaign by threatening Confederate communications.

Flag Officer Foote wrote Secretary of the Navy Welles: “I hope to be able to send 60 men on board of each gunboat within the week. We are waiting for the 1,000 men to fill up our complement…. The carpenters and engineers are behindhand in their work.” Eads’ completion of the gun­boats had been much delayed beyond his contract time. This placed a great strain upon the wooden gunboats, whose daily service in the rivers was demonstrated by General Grant’s typical communication with Foote: “Will you please direct a gunboat to drop down the river…. to protect a steamer I am sending down to bring up produce for some loyal citizens of Kentucky?”

Steamer Ella Warley evaded USS Mohican, Commander Godon, in a heavy fog and ran the blockade into Charleston.

5 Flag Officer L. M. Goldsborough, replying to a telegram from Brigadier General Ambrose E. Burnside, the Army commander for the Roanoke Island expedition, wrote that “the sooner you start your first brigade [for Hatteras Inlet] the better, and so, too, with all vessels you have which are to be towed or which require choice weather in order to arrive safely.” President Lincoln was reported as “anxious to hear of the departure of the expedition.”

6 One of Flag Officer Foote’s primary problems was the manning of the new ironclad gunboats, which were becoming available behind contract date at St. Louis and Mound City. The Navy Department sent a draft of 500 seamen; the rest had to be recruited or detailed from the Army. That the Army was reluctant to give up its best men for service afloat was demonstrated by Grant’s letter to Major-General Halleck, in which he wrote that he had a number of offenders in the guardhouse and suggested, “In view of the difficulties of getting men for the gunboat service, that these men be transferred to that service….”

7 Lieutenant S. L. Phelps, USS Conestoga, on an expedition up the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers gained valuable intelligence about Confederate activity at Forts Henry and Donelson. ”The rebels,” he reported to Flag Officer Foote, “are industriously perfecting their means of defense both at Dover and Fort Henry. At Fort Donelson (near Dover) they have placed obstruc­tions in the river, 12 miles below their battery, on the left bank and in the bend where the battery comes in sight…. The fire of gunboats here [at Fort Donelson] would be at a bad angle…. The forts are placed, especially on the Cumberland, where no great range can be had, and they can only be attacked in one narrow and fixed line…. It is too late now to move against the works on either river, except with a well- appointed and powerful naval force.” As early as mid-December 1861, Phelps had reconnoitered the Cumberland and warned of the immense difficulties involved in a naval assault on Fort Donelson, the strategically located Confederate stronghold. “None of the works can be seen,” he observed, “till approached to within easy range.” The difficult assault on Fort Donelson five weeks later gave truth to Phelps’ care­ful observation. Meanwhile, Flag Officer Foote reconnoitered down the Mississippi with USS Tyler, Lexington, and Essex, the latter one of the first two ironclads ready. Pursuing a Confederate gunboat, Foote proceeded within range of the batteries at Columbus and found “one of the submarine batteries.” But learning that the river was generally clear of these, he was able to report that “my object was fully attained.”

General McClellan’s orders to Brigadier General Burnside illustrated the Army’s reliance on strength afloat: “…. you will,” he wrote, “after uniting with Flag- Officer Goldsborough at Fort Monroe, proceed under his convoy to Hatteras Inlet…. [the] first point of attack will be Roanoke Island and its dependencies. It is presumed that the Navy can reduce the batteries… and cover the landing of your troops…. ‘ McClellan also detailed the Army’s follow-up operations in conjunction with the gunboats at Fort Macon, New Bern, and Beaufort.

8 General Robert E. Lee, confounded by the strength and mobility of the Union Navy, observed. “Wherever his fleet can be brought no opposition to his landing can be made except within range of our fixed batteries. We have nothing to oppose to its heavy guns, which sweep over the low banks of this country with irresistible force. The farther he can be withdrawn from his floating batteries the weaker he will become, and lines of defense, covering objects of attack, have been selected with this view.”

9 Orders from the Navy Department appointed Flag Officer Farragut to command Western Gulf Blockading Squadron, flagship USS Hartford, then at Philadelphia. The bounds of the command extended from West Florida to the Rio Grande, but a far larger purpose than even the important function of blockade lay behind Farragut’s appointment. Late in 1861 the administration had made a decision that would have fateful results on the war. The full list of senior officers in the Navy was reviewed for a commander for an enterprise of first importance—the capture of New Orleans, the South’s “richest and most populous city,” and the beginning of the drive of sea-based power up the Father of Waters to meet General Grant, who would soon move south behind the spearhead of the armored gunboats. On 21 December 1861, in Washington, Farragut had written his wife; ”Keep your lips closed, and burn my letters; for perfect silence is to be observed- the first injunction of the Secretary. I am to have a flag in the Gulf and the rest depends upon myself. Keep calm and silent. I shall sail in three weeks.” Meanwhile, the tight blockade was causing grave concern in New Orleans. The Commercial Bulletin reported: ”The situation of this port makes it a matter of vast moment to the whole Confederate State that it should be opened to the commerce of the world within the least possible period… We believe the blockading vessels of the enemy might have been driven away and kept away months ago, if the requisite energy had been put forth…. The blockade has remained and the great port of New Orleans has been hermetically sealed….”

10 Concern continued to grow in the Union fleet as to what preparations should be taken to meet the unfinished ex-Merrimack. As early as 12 October 1861, Flag Officer L. M. Goldsborough had written Secretary of the Navy Welles: “…. I am now quite satisfied that…. she will, in all probability, prove to be exceedingly formidable…. Nothing, I think, but very close work can possibly be of service in accomplishing the destruction of the Merrimack, and even of that a great deal may be necessary.” Goldsborough ordered tugs Dragon and Zouave to remain constantly in company with USS Congress and Cumberland, “so as to tow them into an advantageous position in case of an attack from the Merrimack or any other quarter.” However, at this date two months before the historic engagements in Hampton Roads-Union naval commanders were seeking a defense against the powerful Confederate ironclad. Commander William Smith, captain of the ill-fated Congress, had said earlier, ”I have not yet devised any plan to defend us against the Merrimack, unless,” he added, “it be with hard knocks.”

Flag Officer Foote’s gunboats convoyed General Grant’s troops as diversionary moves were begun a short distance down the Mississippi and later up the Tennessee to prevent a Confederate build-up of strength at Fort Henry.

Brigadier General John C. Pemberton, CSA, reported on the effectiveness of the Union gunboats at Port Royal Ferry and on the Coosaw River (see last entry, 31 December-1 January 1861): Although the enemy did not land in force at Page’s Point or Cunningham’s Bluff, it was entirely practicable for him to have done so under cover of his gunboats….At no time during his occupation of the river bank did he leave their [the gunboats’] protection, and, finally, when withdrawing to the island, did so under a fire from his vessels almost as heavy as that under which he had landed…. by far the larger proportion of the [Confederate] casualties being from the shells of the fleet.”

11 USS Essex, Commander W. D. Porter, and USS St. Louis, Lieutenant Leonard Paulding, engaged Confederate gunboats in a running fight in the Mississippi River, near Lucas Bend, Mis­souri. The Confederates withdrew under the protecting batteries at Columbus.

Responding to inquiries from the Navy Department on the mortar boats, Flag Officer Foote wrote: ”I am aware that an officer of great resources can overcome almost insuperable difficulties.” Foote had the enormous problem of being thrown into a region without naval bases or the usual resources of the seacoast. In his own words, the western rivers area was ” this wilderness of naval wants”

Having sent similar orders the previous day to USS Henry Brinker, Flag Officer L. M. Goldsborough ordered USS Delaware, Philadelphia, Hunchback, Morse, Southfield, Commodore Barney, Commodore Perry, and schooner Howard to Hatteras Inlet as the build up of forces in the area for the assault on Roanoke island continued.

12 Union amphibious expedition to Roanoke Island, North Carolina, departed Fort Monroe under Flag Officer L. M. Goldsborough and General Burnside. Seizure of Hatteras Inlet by the Navy the previous August allowed Federal control of Pamlico Sound, but heavily fortified Roanoke Island dominated the narrow connection between Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds, the latter of which Confederates used for active blockade running. Capture of strategic Roanoke Island, which one Confederate general termed ”that post which I regard as the very key of the rear defenses of Norfolk and the navy yard,” would give the Union control of Albemarle Sound and the waters penetrating deeply into North Carolina, over which passed important railroad bridges south of Norfolk.

USS Pensacola, Captain Henry W. Morris, successfully ran down the Potomac past the Con­federate batteries at Cockpit and Shipping Points. Pensacola reached Hampton Roads on 13 January, demonstrating that the restriction of travel on the river, imposed by the Confederate batteries, was being steadily lessened.

13 Lieutenant Worden ordered to command USS Monitor. Three days later Worden wrote Secretary of the Navy Welles from New York: “…. I have this day reported for duty for the command of the US Steamer building by Captain Ericsson.” Within two months, Monitor, Worden, and Ericsson were to have their names written indelibly in the annals of naval warfare.

Flag Officer Foote ordered three gunboats up the Cumberland and two up the Tennessee River on demonstrations.

15 Flag Officer Foote advised Lieutenant Paulding of USS St. Louis, “I must enjoin you to save your ammunition. No gun must be fired without your order…. You will be particular in noting the range of the first shot, its height and distance. I was surprised yesterday, at Columbus, to see three or four of your shells bursting at such an elevation…. I am aware of your difficulties in a new and undisciplined crew and officers, hut make these criticisms rather as indicative of correcting things in the future. Save your ammunition and let the first gun show you how to aim for the second.” Foote was constantly beset with the problem of having too much to do with too little material, even to the point of being unable to train adequately his crews in gunnery. That he met these difficulties successfully, however, was demonstrated in the’ Union’s steady sweep down the western rivers.

Major-General Mansfield Lovell, CSA, at the request of Confederate Secretary of War Benjamin, with the assistance of Lieutenant Thomas B. Huger, CSN, took over 14 steamers at New Orleans to be armed and used to bolster defenses in the area. The plan which came from the War Depart­ment was to outfit the steamships with iron rams to attack the Union river gunboats. Secretary of War Benjamin wrote: Each Captain will ship his own crew, fit up his own vessel, and get ready within the shortest possible delay. It is not proposed to rely on cannons, which these men are not skilled in using, nor on firearms. The men will be armed with cutlasses. On each boat, however, there will be one heavy gun, to be used in case the stern of any of the [Union] gunboats should be exposed to lire, for they are entirely unprotected behind, and if attempting to escape by flight would be very vulnerable by shot from a pursuing vessel.”

16 Gunfire and boat Crews, including Marine, from USS Hatteras, Commander Emmons, destroyed a Confederate battery, seven small vessels loaded with cotton and turpentine ready to run the blockade, a railroad depot and wharf, and the telegraph office at Cedar Keys, Florida. A small detachment of Confederate troops was taken prisoner. Such unceasing attack from the sea on any point of her long coastline and inland waterways cost the South sorely in losses, economic disruption, and dispersion of strength in defense.

Flag Officer Foote reported: The seven gunboats built by contract were put in commission today.” The Eads gunboats augmented Foote’s wooden force and would turn the tide in the Union’s effort to split the Confederacy.

USS Albatross, Commander Prentiss, destroyed British blockade runner York near Bogue Inlet, North Carolina, where York had been run aground.

17 USS Conestoga, Lieutenant S. L. Phelps, and USS Lexington, Lieutenant Shirk, reconnoitered the Tennessee River below Fort Henry, attempting to determine the location of a reported “masked battery” at the foot of Panther Creek Island. Having become convinced that the battery had been removed, Phelps fired “a few shells” at the fort, hot the range was too great for his guns to reach. “…. our batteries,” reported General Albert S. Johnston, CSA, “though ready, did not reply.” As early as October 1861, the Navy had initiated a careful examination of the Confederate works in the area in preparation for the projected Army-Navy assault on Fort Henry. Lieutenant Phelps reported the results of a 5 October reconnaissance: ”J examined the fort [Henry] carefully at a distance of from 2 to 21/2 miles…. The fortification is quite an extensive work and armed with heavy guns, mounted en barbette, and garrisoned by a considerable force. It is situated about 11/2 miles above the head of Panther Creek Island…. There is no channel upon one side of the island, and a narrow and somewhat crooked one upon the other, which continues so till within a mile of the fort, where the water becomes of a good depth from bank to bank, some 600 yards.” Detailed knowledge and careful preparations in large measure provided for the ultimate success of the February offensive operations against both Forts Henry and Donelson with the objective of driving the Confederates out of Kentucky where they held a line across the southern part of the state.

General Robert E. Lee’s orders to Brigadier General James H. Trapier, commanding in Florida, illustrated the growing impact of the Union blockade: “Arrangements have been made for running into Mosquito Inlet, on the east coast of Florida, arms and ammunition, by mans of small fast steamers. The department considers it necessary that at least two moderate sized guns he placed at New Smyrna, to protect the landing in the event of our steamers being chased by the enemy’s gunboats…. The cargoes of the steamers are so valuable and vitally important, that no precau­tion should be omitted.”

USS Connecticut, Commander Woodhull, captured blockade running British schooner Emma off the Florida Keys.

18 USS Midnight, Lieutenant James Trathen, and USS Rachel Seaman, Acting Master Quincy A. Hooper, shelled Velasco, Texas. Lieutenant Trathen reported that “One object had been gained in this instance, making the enemy expend his ammunition.” Colonel Joseph Bates, commanding at Velasco, wrote: ”While the enemy remain on their vessels, with their long-range guns, &c., they can annoy and harass us, but when they come on land we will whip them certain.”

CSS Sumter, Commander Semmes, captured and burned bark Neapolitan, with a cargo of fruit and sulphur, in the Straits of Gibraltar and captured and bonded bark Investigator with a cargo of iron.
USS Kearsarge was ordered to Cadiz, Spain, in an effort to track her down.

19 USS Itasca, Lieutenant Charles H. B. Caldwell, captured schooner Lizzie Weston off Florida en route Jamaica with a cargo of cotton.

20 Secretary of the Navy Welles ordered the Gulf Blockading Squadron divided into two squadrons upon the arrival of Farragut at Key West: Eastern Gulf Blockading Squadron, Flag Officer Mc­Kean, and Western Gulf Blockading Squadron, Flag Officer Farragut. Farragut’s area of respon­sibility began on the Florida coast at the mouth of the Choctawhatchee River and extended over the Gulf to the west; McKean’s jurisdiction covered the Florida Gulf and east coasts as far as Cape Canaveral and also included Cuba and the Bahamas.

Boarding party from USS R. R. Cuyler, Lieutenant F. Winslow, assisted by USS Huntsville and two cutters from USS Potomac, captured blockade running schooner. J.W. Wilder, grounded about 15 miles east of Mobile.

Flag Officer L. M. Goldsborough, having arrived at Hatteras Inlet on 13 January, ordered Com­mander Rowan to he certain that all officers in the squadron had been instructed in the use of the Bormann fuze in the 9-inch schrapnel shells, which were to he used in the attack on Roanoke Island. Careful planning and training were essential elements of victory at Roanoke Island as elsewhere.

20-21 CSS Sea Bird, Flag Officer Lynch, with CSS Raleigh in company, reconnoitered Hatteras Inlet and “there saw a large fleet of steamers and transports. Lynch pointed out in a letter to Confederate Secretary of the Navy Mallory the importance of the area which Roanoke Island controlled: ”Here is the great thoroughfare from Albemarle Sound and its tributaries, and if the enemy obtain lodgments or succeed in passing here he will cut off a very rich country from Norfolk market.”

21 Lieutenant S. L. Phelps, on the basis of his own reconnaissance missions and intelligence reports reaching him, re-emphasized the advisability of using mortar boats at Fort Donelson, noting that “the position of Fort Donelson is favorable for the greatest effect of bombshells, both in and about it. Effective mortar boats must prove the most destructive adversaries earth forts can have to contend with.” However, Flag Officer Foote, urged into early action by the Army commanders, was unable to use mortar boats to “soften up” the Confederate works at Donelson.

USS Ethan Allen, Acting Lieutenant William B. Eaton, captured schooner Olive Branch bound from Cedar Keys, Florida, to Nassau with a cargo of turpentine.

22 USS Lexington, Lieutenant Shirk, with Brigadier General Charles F. Smith on board, conducted one of the frequent gunboat reconnaissances up the Tennessee River, and fired a few long-range shots at Fort Henry. The rising waters were making operations feasible as the new armored gunboats were becoming available. Shirk reported: “The river is so full at present (and is still rising) that whenever there is water there is a channel.”

Lieutenant Worden reported the steady progress toward completion of USS Monitor. Awaiting the 11-inch guns which would make up the ironclad’s battery, Worden noted that “It will take four or five days to sight them after they arrive.”

23 Flag Officer L. M. Goldsborough wrote from Hatteras Inlet that the 17 naval vessels present (two others reported later) for the Roanoke Island expedition were over the bar inside Pamlico Sound. Bad weather and the shallow, tortuous channel, which Goldsborough termed “this perplexing gut,” delayed entry of the naval vessels into the Sound, and presented extreme diffi­culties when attempting to get the heavily-laden troop transports over the bar.

Flag Officer Foote sent another insistent plea for men to Secretary of the Navy Welles, this time cutting his needs to the bone: “Can we have 600 men? Army officers object to their men shipping. Boats, except the Benton, are in commission waiting for men.” Twelve days later, Assistant Secretary of the Navy Fox wired Foote: ‘The Secretary of War today gave directions to detail from several Massachusetts regiments those soldiers who have been seamen up to the number of 600. These will be sent to you without arms or officers in detachments of 100, commencing next Monday.”

Schooner Samuel Rotan, tender to USS Colorado, Captain Bailey, captured steamer Calhoun in East Bay, Mississippi River, with a cargo of powder, coffee, and chemicals.

24 USS. Mercedita, Commander Stellwagen, and other ships of the Gulf Blockading Squadron chased aground schooner Julia and an unidentified bark attempting to run the blockade at the mouth of the Mississippi River; both were laden with cotton and were burned to prevent capture. A Union lightboat off Cape Henry went aground and was captured by Confederates.

25 Flag Officer French Forrest, CSN, commanding the Navy Yard at Norfolk, wrote Major-General Huger: ”I have just learned that one of the enemy’s vessels has been driven ashore with several hundred gallons of oil on board…. We are without oil for the Merrimack, and the importance of supplying this deficiency is too obvious for me to urge anything more in its support. As was true throughout the economy of the blockaded Confederacy, lack of critical supplies delayed the construction of the ironclad ram.

Secretary of the Navy Welles wrote Flag Officer Du Pont, commanding the South Atlantic Block­ading Squadron: “The importance of a rigorous blockade at every point under your command can not be too strongly impressed or felt. By cutting off all communication we not only distress and cripple the States in insurrection, but by an effective blockade we destroy any excuse or pre­text on the part of foreign governments to aid and relieve those who are waging war upon the Government.”

USS Arthur, Acting Lieutenant John W. Kittredge, captured schooner J. J. McNeil off Pass Cavallo, Texas.

26 The second “stone fleet” sunk in Charleston harbor at Maffitt’s Channel. The first “stone fleet” had been sunk in the Main Channel on 20 December 1861.

26-29 Union squadron commanded by Captain Davis, comprising USS Ottawa, Seneca, and other vessels, with 2400 troops under Brigadier General Horatio G. Wright conducted a strategic reconnaissance of Wassaw Sound, Georgia. Telegraph lines between Fort Pulaski and Savannah were severed. Five Confederate gunboats under Commodore Tattnall were engaged while attempting to carry stores to Fort Pulaski. Though the exchange of fire was sharp, three of Tattnall’s steamers made good their passage to the fort, the other two being unable to get through. In his report of the reconnaissance operation, Captain Davis noted: ”As a demonstration the appearance of the naval and military forces in Wilmington and Wassaw Sound has had complete success. Savannah was thrown into a state of great alarm, and all the energies of the place have been exerted to the utmost to increase its military defenses for which purpose troops have been withdrawn from other places.” On the Confederate side, General Robert E. Lee commented: ”If the enemy succeeds in removing the obstacles [in Wall’s Cut and Wilmington Narrows] there is nothing to prevent their reaching the Savannah River, and we have nothing afloat that can contend against them.”

28 Flag Officer Foote wrote Major-General Halleck: ”General Grant and myself are of the opinion that Fort Henry, on the Tennessee River, can be carried with four gunboats and troops and be permanently occupied.” Halleck replied the next day that he was waiting only for a report on the condition of the road from Smithland to the fort, and would then give the order for the attack. Seeking to push forward, Foote hurried an answer the same day, noting: ”Lieutenant Phelps has been with me [at Cairo] for a day or two, and in consultation with General Grant we have come to the conclusion that, as the Tennessee will soon fall, the movement up that river is de­sirable early next week (Monday), or, in fact, as soon as possible.” Flag Officer Foote and General Grant worked closely and cooperated fully with each other throughout the planning and preparations for the attack. Though inclement weather was to prevent Grant and his troops from taking part in the action at Fort Henry, the understandings and mutual respect formed here were to serve the Union cause brilliantly in other joint operations on the western waters as well as in General Grant’s later campaigns in the east.

“On the 28th…”Flag Officer L. M. Goldsborough reported to Secretary of the Navy Welles, “all the vessels composing the naval branch of our combined expedition, intended by my arrange­ments to participate in the reduction of Roanoke Island and operate elsewhere in its vicinity, were over the bulkhead at Hatteras Inlet and in readiness for service, but…. it was not until the 5th [of February]…. that those composing the army branch of it were similarly situated.” Goldsborough, however, used the time lapse to good advantage: “During our detention at the inlet,” he wrote, ”we resorted to every means in our power to get accurate information of the enemy’s position and preparation

Captain John Marston wrote Secretary of the Navy Welles that ”as long as the Merrimack is held as a rod over us, I would by no means recommend that she [USS Congress ] should leave this place.” Marston wrote in reply to a letter from the Secretary four days earlier in which he had suggested that Congress should go to Boston. Varying rumors as to the readiness of Virginia ex-Merrimack) kept Union blockading forces in Hampton Roads in a constant state of vigilance.

Boat crews under Acting Master William L. Martine from USS De Soto boarded and captured blockade runner Major Barbour at Isle Derniere, Louisiana, with a cargo including gunpowder, niter, sulphur, percussion caps, and lead.

29 US Storeship Supply, Commander George M. Colvocoresses, captured schooner Stephen Hart south of Sarasota, Florida, with a cargo of arms and munitions.

30 USS Monitor, the Union’s first sea-going ironclad vessel, launched at Greenpoint, New York. Assistant Secretary of the Navy Fox wired John Ericsson, referring to Monitor’s launching: ”I congratulate you and trust she will be a success. Hurry her for sea, as the Merrimack is nearly ready at Norfolk, and we wish to send her here.”

Major-General Halleck ordered the combined operation up the Tennessee, warned General Grant that the road were quagmires, and directed that the movement of troops, munitions, and supplies be convoyed by gunboats.

USS Conestoga, Lieutenant S. L. Phelps, and USS Lexington, Lieutenant Shirk, reconnoitered the Tennessee River, making final preparations for the attack on Fort Henry. Phelps, who performed yeoman service on the western waters, reported: ”In the right channel, and near the foot of the island, are numerous buoys, evidently marking the location of some kind of explosive machine or obstruction; these I think we can rake out with our boats.”

USS Kingfisher, Acting Lieutenant Joseph P. Couthouy, captured blockade runner Teresita, bound from Havana to Matamoras.

Confederate Commissioners Mason and Slidell arrived at Southampton, England.

31 Lieutenant Henry A. Wise wrote Flag Officer Foote regarding a conversation with President Lincoln on the western operations. The Commander in Chief was interested in the mortars because he wanted Foote to have enough gunpower “to rain the rebels out.” Wise stated: “He is an evidently practical man, understands precisely what he wants, and is not turned aside by anyone when he has his work before him. He knows and appreciates your past and present arduous services, and is firmly resolved to afford you every aid in the work in hand. The additional smooth howitzers you asked for were ordered two days ago.” Meanwhile, Foote telegraphed the Bureau of Ordnance, requesting powder and primers. He added: “I am apprehensive that the Army will not permit the men, as the colonels and captains do not readily give their assent. I am shipping men by ‘runners at Chicago and elsewhere.’ I can move with four armed [armored] and three other gunboats at any moment, and am only waiting for men (with the exception of the Benton) to be ready with all the gunboats.” The Army could not he blamed, as Foote well understood, for reluctance to weaken its units. They, too, had been given jobs to do and had to present trained, effective units in the hour of need.

A British memorandum reaching the Confederacy, regarding the effectiveness of the Union blockade and sinking of the stone fleet in Charleston harbor, presented the views of various European nations: “About 10 days ago the English foreign office submitted the two following questions to the maritime powers of Europe: First. Is the sinking of the stone fleet.. an outrage on civilization? Second. Is the blockade effective…. Is it now binding? France…. pronounces the destruction of the harbor…. ‘vindictive vandalism’…. the blockade to be ‘ineffective and illegal’…. Prussia winds up by declaring the sinking of the stone fleet to be a crime and outrage on civilization…. Sardinia agrees with France, but…. in even stronger terms.

Austria declares ‘blockade altogether illegal’…. Spain declares blockade…. ‘altogether ineffective…. On the other hand, Secretary of the Navy Welles strongly maintained that the effectiveness of the blockade did ”destroy any pretext on the part of foreign governments to aid the Confederacy.”

February 1862

1 Flag Officer Foote telegraphed Washington from Cairo: “I leave early to-morrow with four armored gunboats on an expedition cooperating with the Army. Senior officer will telegraph you during my absence. Nothing new about the mortars. Twenty-nine men shipped from regiments yesterday and three to-day.”

USS Portsmouth, Commander Swartwout, captured blockade running steamer Labuan at the mouth of the Rio Grande River with a cargo of cotton.

USS Montgomery, Lieutenant Jouett, captured schooner Isabel in the Gulf of Mexico.

2 USS Hartford, Flag Officer Farragut, departed Hampton Roads for Ship Island, Mississippi, where Farragut took command of the Western Gulf Blockading Squadron preparatory to the assault on New Orleans.

In his battle plan and orders to gunboats, Flag Officer Foote emphasized the need for coolness and precision of fire: ”Let it be also distinctly impressed upon the mind of every man firing a gun that, while the first shot may be either of too much elevation or too little, there is no excuse for a second wild fire, as the first will indicate the inaccuracy of the aim of the gun, which must be elevated or depressed, or trained, as circumstances require. Let it be reiterated that random firing is not only a mere waste of ammunition, but, what is far worse, it encourages the enemy when he sees shot and shell falling harmlessly about and beyond him…. The Commander in Chief has every confidence in the spirit and valor of officers and men under his command, and his only solicitude arises lest the firing should be too rapid for precision, and that coolness and order, so essential to complete success, should not be observed, and hence he has in this general order expressed his views, which must be observed by all under his command.” He directed Lieutenant S. L. Phelps, upon the surrender of Fort Henry, to proceed with ”Conestoga, Tyler, and Lexington up the river to where the railroad bridge crosses, and, if the army shall not already have got possession, he will destroy so much of the track as will entirely prevent its use by the rebels. He will then proceed as far up the river as the stage of water will admit and capture the enemy’s gunboats and other vessels which might prove available to the enemy.”

3 Having left his headquarters at Cairo on 2 February en route Fort Henry, Flag Officer Foote ordered USS Essex and St. Louis to proceed from Paducah to Pine Bluff, 65 miles up the Ten­nessee, ”for the purpose of protecting the landing of the troops on their arrival at that point.” The. Army commanders had recognized for some time that the mobility and fire power of the gunboats were viral in support of land forces operating along the rivers. Brigadier General C. F. Smith had well expressed this earlier: “The Conestoga, gunboat, admirably commanded by Lieuten­ant Phelps of the Navy, is my only security in this quarter. He is constantly moving his vessel up and down the Tennessee and Cumberland.” The same day, Foote wrote Secretary of the Navy Welles that he would have had more ships to take against the fort but for want of men. “The volunteers from the Army to go in the gunboats exceed the number of men required, but the derangement of companies and regiments” had permitted few to transfer afloat. Major-General Halleck wired Foote from St. Louis: ”General Grant is authorized to furnish men for temporary gunboat duty by detail. Men will be sent from here as soon as collected. Arrange with General Grant for temporary crews, so that there may be no delay.” The following day, Commander Kilty, left in charge of naval matters at Cairo by Foote, advised Halleck that permanent details were needed, not temporary ones. Grant advised Halleck: ”Will be off up the Tennessee at 6 o’clock. Command, 23 regiments in all.” Grant’s troops embarked in transports at Cairo and Paducah; Foote’s gunboats took the lead. Behind this spearhead and battering ram, the dismemberment of the South began.

CSS Nashville, Lieutenant Robert B. Pegram, departed Southampton, England. H.M.S. Shannon stood by to enforce the Admiralty ruling that USS Tuscarora could not leave the port for twenty-four hours after the sailing of Nashville.

4 Brigadier General Lloyd Tilghman, gallant defender of Fort Henry, informed General John B. Floyd: “Gunboats and transports in Tennessee River. Enemy landing in force 5 miles below Fort Henry.” After initiating the debarkation of troops below Fort Henry, Flag Officer Foote, in USS Cincinnati with General Grant on board, took the four ironclad gunboats that he had been able to man up the Tennessee for reconnoitering, and exchanged shots with the Confederate gunners. Torpedoes, planted in the river but torn loose by the flooding waters, floated by. Foote had some fished out for inspection. He and Grant went aft to watch the disassembling of one. According to a reminiscence, suddenly there was a strange hiss. The deck was rapidly cleared. Grant beat Foote to the top of the ladder. When Foote asked the General about his hurry, Grant replied that ”the Army did not believe in letting the Navy get ahead of it.”

5 USS Keystone State, Commander William E. Le Roy, captured British blockade runner Mars with a cargo of salt off Fernandina, Florida.

6 Naval forces under Flag Officer Foote, comprising the partially ironclad gunboats USS Essex, Carondelet, Cincinnati, St. Louis and wooden gunboats USS Tyler, Conestoga, and Lexington, cap­tured strategic Fort Henry on the Tennessee River. Originally planned as a joint expedition under Flag Officer Foote and General Grant, heavy rains the two days before the attack delayed the troop movements, and the gunboats attacked alone. Accurate fire from the gunboats pounded the fort and forced Brigadier General Tilghman, CSA, with all but four of his defending guns useless, to strike his flag and surrender to Foote. USS Essex, Commander W. D. Porter, was disabled during the engagement. In continuing operations the three days following the capitu­lation of Fort Henry, USS Tyler, Conestoga, and Lexington, under Lieutenant S. L. Phelps, swept and one he deeply mourned.” The evacuation of Norfolk three months later, caused in part by the loss of Roanoke Island, was a far greater loss. The abandonment of the great industrial navy yard and the destruction of CSS Virginia were serious reverses that had far-reaching effect upon the Confederacy’s ability to resist at sea.

8 A Confederate gunner captured at Fort Henry made the following statement attesting to the extreme effectiveness of USS Carondelet’s gunfire during the attack: ‘ The center boat, or the boat with the red stripes around the top of her smokestacks, was the boat which caused the greatest execution. It was one of her guns which threw a ball against the muzzle of one of our guns, disabling it for the remainder of the contest. The Carondelet (as I subsequently found her name to be) at each shot committed more damage than any other boat. She was the object of our hatred, and many a gun from the fort was leveled at her alone. To her I give more credit than any other boat in capturing one of our strongest places.” The success of Flag Officer Foote’s armored gun­boats spread panic and exaggerated their capabilities in Confederate as well as Union minds. General Johnston wrote in a letter to the Confederate War Department: ”The slight resistance at Fort Henry indicates that the best open earthworks are not reliable to meet successfully a vigorous attack of ironclad gunboats.” He concluded that Fort Donelson would also fall. This would open the way to Nashville. ”The occurrence of the misfortune of losing the fort will cut off the communication of the force here under General Hardee from the south bank of the Cumberland. To avoid the disastrous consequences of such an event, I ordered General Hardee yesterday to make, as promptly as it could be done, preparations to fall back to Nashville and cross the river. The movements of the enemy on my right flank would have made a retrograde in that direction to confront the enemy indispensable in a short time. But the probability of having the ferriage of this army corps across the Cumberland intercepted by the gunboats of the enemy admits of no delay in making the movement. Generals Beauregard and Hardee are, equally with myself, impressed with the necessity of withdrawing our force from this line at once.”

Captain Buchanan ordered CSS Patrick Henry, Commander Tucker, and CSS Jamestown, Lieu­tenant Joseph N. Barney, to be kept in a constant state of readiness ” to cooperate with the Merri­mack when that ship is ready for service.

USS Conestoga, Lieutenant S. L. Phelps, seized steamers Sallie Wood and Muscle at Chickasaw, Alabama. The Confederates destroyed three other vessels to prevent their capture, bringing the total losses resulting from the fall of Fort Henry to nine.

10 Following the capture of Roanoke Island, a naval flotilla, including embarked Marines, under Commander Rowan in USS Delaware, pursuing Flag Officer Lynch’s retiring Confederate naval force up the Pasquotank River, engaged the gunboats and batteries at Elizabeth City, North Caro­lina. CSS Ellis was captured and CSS Seabird was sunk; CSS Black Warrior, Fanny, and Forrest were set on fire to avoid capture; the fort and batteries at Cobb’s Point were destroyed. Of Commander Rowan’s success, Admiral Daniel Ammen later wrote: ”Nothing more brilliant in naval ‘dash’ occurred during the entire Civil War than appears in this attack.” One example of “dash” was called to Flag Officer L. N. Goldsborough’s attention by Commander Rowan. ”I would respectfully call your attention to one incident of the engagement which reflects much credit upon a quarter gunner of the Valley City and for which Congress has provided rewards in the shape of medals. A shot passed through her magazine and exploded in a locker beyond containing fireworks. The commander, Lieutenant-Commander Chaplain, went there to aid in sup­pressing the fire, where he found John Davis, quarter gunner, seated with commendable coolness on an open barrel of powder as the only means to keep the fire out.” For demonstrating such courage, ”while at the same time passing powder to provide the division on the upper deck while under fierce enemy fire,” Davis was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor by General Order 11,3 April 1863.

Flag Officer Foote, amidst repairing battle damages and working feverishly to get other gunboats ready, received repeated requests from Major-General Halleck to ”send gunboats up the Cumber­land. Two will answer if he can send no more. They must precede the transports. I am strain­ing every nerve to send troops to take Dover and Clarksville. Troops are on their way. All we want is gunboats to precede the transports.”

Secretary of the Navy Welles forwarded to Commander D. D. Porter the names of 22 sailing vessels and 7 steamers which would comprise the Mortar Flotilla. This potent force, to which would be added USS Owasco,” as soon as she can be got ready,” conducted an intensive bombardment of Forts Jackson and St. Philip, preparatory to Flag Officer Farragut’s drive past these heavy works to New Orleans.

General Robert E. Lee wrote Confederate Secretary of War Benjamin: ‘From the reports of General Mercer as to the inability of the batteries of Saint Simon’s and Jekyl Islands to with­stand the attack of the enemy’ s fleet, the isolated condition of those islands, and the impossibility of reenforcing him with guns or men, I have given him authority, should he retain that opinion upon a calm review of the whole subject, to act according to his discretion; and, if deemed ad­visable by him, to withdraw to the mainland and take there a defensible position for the protec­tion of the country

Captain Buchanan reported that Merrimack had not yet received her crew, “not withstanding all my efforts to procure them from the Army.” Shortage of trained seamen restricted the Con­federacy’s efforts to build naval strength.

11 Flag Officer Foote, foreseeing the realities of the situation into which he was being pulled by the tide of events, wrote Secretary of the Navy Welles: ”I leave [Cairo again to-night with the Louisville, Pittsburg, and St. Louis for the Cumberland River, to cooperate with the army in the attack on Fort Donelson.
I shall do all in my power to render the gunboats effective in the fight, although they are not properly manned. If we could wait ten days, and I had men,
I would go with eight mortar boats and six armored boats and conquer.” Despite the serious difficulties they faced, Foote and his gunboat fleet made what General Grant was to term ad­miringly ”a gallant attack.”

13-15 USS Pembina, Lieutenant John P. Bankhead, discovered a battery of ”tin-can” torpedoes (mines) while engaged in sounding Savannah River above the mouth of Wright’s River. The mines, only visible at low tide, were connected by wires and moored individually to the bottom. The following day, Bankhead returned and effected the removal of one of the ” infernal machines” for purposes of examination. On the 15th Bankhead ”deemed it more prudent to endeavor to sink the remaining ones than to attempt to remove them,” and sank the mines by rifle fire. Tor­pedoes were planted in large numbers in the harbors and rivers of the Confederacy, constituting a major hazard which Union commanders had to consider and reckon with in planning operations.

14 Gunboats USS St. Louis, Carondelet, Louisville, Pittsburg, Tyler, and Conestoga under Flag Officer Foote joined with General Grant in attacking Fort Donelson on the Cumberland River. Donel­son, on high ground, could subject the gunboats to a plunging fire and was a more difficult objec­tive than Fort Henry. Foote did not consider the gunboats properly prepared for the assault on Donelson so soon after the heavy action at Fort Henry; nevertheless, at the ”urgent request” of both Grant and General Halleck to reduce the fortifications, Foote moved against the Confederate works. Bitter fire at close range opened on both sides. St. Louis, the flagship, was hit fifty-nine times and lost steering control, as did Louisville. Both disabled vessels drifted down stream; the gunboat attack was broken off. Flag Officer Foote sustained injuries which forced him to give up command three months later. Fort Donelson surrendered to Grant on 16 February. Major-General Lewis Wallace, speaking of the renewed gunboat support on 15 February, summed up the substantial role of the gunboats in the victory: “I recollect yet the positive pleasure the sounds [naval gunfire] gave me… the obstinacy and courage of the Commodore Was the attack ”of assistance to us”? ”I don’t think there is room to question it. It distracted the enemy S attention, and I fully believe it was the gunboats…. that operated to prevent a general movement of the rebels up the river or across it, the night before the surrender.” Coining quickly after the fall of Fort Henry, the capture of Fort Donelson by a combined operation had a heavy impact on both sides. News of the fall of Fort Donelson created great excitement in New Orleans where the press placed much blame on Secretary of the Navy Mallory because ”we are so wretch­edly helpless on the water.” With their positions in Kentucky now untenable, the Confeder­ates had to withdraw, assuring that state to the Union. On the Mississippi, Confederate forces fell back on Island No. 10. Nashville could not be held, and the Union armies were poised to sweep down into the heart of the South.

Armed boat from USS Restless, Acting lieutenant Edward Conroy, captured and destroyed sloop Edisto and schooners Wandoo, Eliabeth, and Theodore Stony off Bull’s Bay, South Carolina; all ships carried heavy cargoes of rice for Charleston.

Confederate ships sank obstructions in Cape Fear River near Fort Caswell, North Carolina, in an effort to block the channel.

USS Galena, experimental seagoing ironclad, launched at Mystic, Connecticut.

15 Four Confederate gunboats under Commodore Tattnall attacked Union batteries at Venus Point, on Savannah River, Georgia, but were forced back to Savannah. Tattnall was attempting to effect the passage of steamer Ida from Fort Pulaski to Savannah.

16 Gunboats of Flag Officer Foote’s force destroyed the “Tennessee Iron Works” above Dover on the Cumberland River. General McClellan wired Flag Officer Foote from Washington.’ “Sorry you are wounded. How seriously? Your conduct magnificent. With what force do you return? I send nearly 600 sailors for you to-morrow.

17 Ironclad CSS Virginia (ex-USS Merrimack) commissioned, Captain Franklin Buchanan commanding.

Flag Officer Foote informed Secretary of the Navy Welles: ”I leave immediately with a view of proceeding to Clarksville with eight mortar boats and two ironclad boats, with the Conestoga, wooden boat, as the river is rapidly falling. The other ironclad boats are badly cut up and require extensive repairs. I have sent one of the boats already since my return and ordered a second to follow me, which, with eight mortars, hope to carry Clarksville.”

18 USS Ethan Allen, Acting Lieutenant Eaton, entered Clearwater harbor, Florida, and captured schooner Spitfire and sloops Atlanta and Caroline.

19 Confederates evacuated Clarksville, Tennessee. Colonel W. H. Allen, CSA, reported to General Floyd: ”Gunboats are coming; they are just below point; can see steamer here. Will try and see how many troops they have before I leave. Lieutenant Brady set bridge on fire, but it is burning very slowly and will probably go out before it falls.” Asking in a postscript that any orders for him be sent “promptly,” Allen noted that “I will have to go in a hurry when I go.” Union forces under Flag Officer Foote occupied Fort Defiance and took possession of the town. Foote urged an immediate move on Nashville and notified Army headquarters in Cairo: “The Cumberland is in a good stage of water and General Grant and I believe we can take Nashville.”

Trial run of two-gun ironclad USS Monitor in New York harbor. Chief Engineer Alban C. Stimers, USN, reported on the various difficulties that were presented during the trial run of Monitor and concluded that her speed would be approximately 6 knots, “though Captain Ericsson feels confident of 8.”

USS Delaware, Commander Rowan, and USS Commodore Perry, Lieutenant Flusser, on a recon­naissance of the Chowan River, engaged Confederate troops at Winton, North Carolina. The following day Rowan’s force covered the landing of Union troops who entered the town, de­stroying military stores and Confederate troop quarters before re-embarking.

USS Brooklyn, Captain T. T. Craven, and USS South Carolina, Lieutenant Hopkins, captured steamer Magnolia in the Gulf of Mexico with large a cargo of cotton.

General Robert E. Lee, harassed by the Confederate inability to cope with the guns of the Union fleet, wrote Brigadier General Trapier regarding the defenses of Florida: ”In looking at the whole defense of Florida, it becomes important to ascertain what points can probably be held and what points had better be relinquished. The force that the enemy can bring against any position where he can concentrate his floating batteries renders it prudent and proper to withdraw from the islands to the main-land and be prepared to contest his advance into the interior. Where an island offers the best point of defense, and is so connected with the main that its communica­tions cannot be cut off, it may be retained. Otherwise it should be abandoned.”

20 Flag Officer Farragut arrived at Ship Island to begin what Secretary of the Navy Welles termed the “most important operation of the war” the assault on New Orleans. In his instruction of 10 February to the Flag Officer, Welles observed: “If successful, you open the way to the sea for the great West, never again to be closed. The rebellion will be riven in the center, and the flag to which you have been so faithful will recover its supremacy in every State.” For some weeks prior to Farragut’s arrival, Union forces had been gathering at the Ship Island staging area. As early as 30 December, General Bragg, CSA, had written from Mobile: “The enemy’s vessels, some twenty, are below, landing supplies and large bodies of troops on Ship Island.” With an inadequate naval force, however, the Confederates were unable to contest the steady build-up of Northern strength.

Major-General John E. Wool at Fort Monroe, on hearing a report that Newport News was to be attacked by Virginia, wrote Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton: ”We want a larger naval force than we have at present. Meanwhile, the same day, Secretary of the Navy Welles was writing Lieutenant Worden: “Proceed with the USS Monitor, under your command, to Hampton Roads, Virginia.

Brigadier General George W. Cullum, General Halleck’s Chief of Staff at Cairo, relayed an urgent message from General McClellan regarding the gunboats to Lieutenant S. L. Phelps: ”General McClellan gives most emphatic order to have gun and mortar boats here ready by Monday morn­ing. Must move on Columbus with at least four serviceable gunboats and mortar boats. Only two gunboats at all serviceable here, and but one mortar boat, three being ashore.”

Flag Officer L. M. Goldsborough wrote Assistant Secretary of the Navy Fox: “At Washing­ton, and also at Newberne [North Carolina] the obstructions in the river are very formidable, and admirably placed. They consist of a double row of piles thoroughly well driven by steam, and sunken vessels. The rows are at right angles to the shore and parallel with each other. One stretches all the way from the right bank nearly over to the left, and the other all the way from the left bank nearly over to the right, and there is a battery of considerable force on either bank between them; so that attacking vessels must first go bows on to one, and then after passing it, be raked aft by one and forward by the other at the same time.” The Confederates sought to reduce the Union Navy’s effectiveness by well-placed obstructions, making passage of shore batteries difficult and costly.

Armed boat expedition from USS New London, Lieutenant A. Read, captured 12 small sloops and schooners at Cat Island, Mississippi, suspected of being used as pilot vessels by blockade runners.

USS Portsmouth, Commander Swartwout, captured sloop Pioneer off Boca Chica, Texas, with a cargo of tobacco.

21 Flag Officer Farragut formally relieved Flag Officer McKean as Commander, Western Gulf Block­ading Squadron. As his other ships arrived, he assembled them at the Southeast Pass and sent those whose draft permitted over the bar to conduct the blockade ”in the river.” Secretary of the Navy Welles had sent Farragut supplementary confidential instructions, spelling out what had been discussed in conference: ”When the Hartford is in all respects ready for sea, you will proceed to the Gulf of Mexico with all possible dispatch…. There will be attached to your squadron a fleet of bomb-vessels and armed steamers, enough to manage them,” under Commander D. D. Porter. Key West, preserved for the Union by the energy and foresight of naval commanders, would play the key role it has played throughout the United States’ history as a naval base, rendezvous and training center for operations east, west, and south. He instructed Farragut to ”proceed up the Mississippi River and reduce the defenses which guard the approaches to New Orleans, when you will appear off that city and take possession of it under the guns of your squadron, and hoist the American flag therein, keeping possession until troops can be sent to you…. There are other operations of minor importance which will commend themselves to your judgment and skill, but which must not be allowed to interfere with the great object in view the certain capture of the city of New Orleans.”

22 Union naval vessels entered Savannah River through Wall’s Cut, isolating Fort Pulaski.

Flag Officer Farragut ordered Coast Survey team to sound the Mississippi passes and to mark out the safest channel.

23 Flag Officer Du Pont wrote Senator James W. Grimes from Iowa, a member of the Committee on Naval Affairs of his departure for continued operations on the South Atlantic Coast: “I am off tomorrow with a large division of my squadron to complete my work on the lower coast, and if God is with us, in some three weeks I hope to hold everything by and inside or outside blockade from Cape Canaveral to Georgetown, S.C.” The Confederacy would withdraw inland as a result of Du Pont’s efforts.

Flag Officer Foote, with Brigadier General Cullum, reconnoitered the Mississippi River down to Columbus, the anchor of the powerful Confederate defenses. He reported proceeding “with four ironclad boats, two mortar boats and three transports containing 1,000 men.” Lieutenant Gwin, in USS Tyler, conducted a reconnaissance of the Tennessee River to Eastport, Missis­sippi. At Clifton, Tennessee, Gwin seized 1,100 sacks and barrels of flour and some 6,000 bushels of wheat.

24 Captain Buchanan, CSN, ordered to command James River, Virginia, naval defenses, and to fly his flag on board CSS Virginia; the squadron consisted of CSS Virginia, and the small gunboats CSS Patrick Henry, Jamestown, Teaser, Raleigh, and Beaufort. In his orders to Buchanan Secretary of the Navy Mallory added: “The Virginia is a novelty in naval construction, un­tried, and her powers unknown; and hence the department will not give specific orders as to her attack upon the enemy. Her powers as a ram are regarded as very formidable, and it is hoped you will be able to test them. Like the bayonet charge of infantry, this mode of attack, while the most destructive, will commend itself to you in the present scarcity of ammunition. It is one also that may be rendered destructive at night against the enemy at anchor. Even without guns the ship would, it is believed, be formidable as a ram. Could you pass Old Point and make a dashing cruise in the Potomac as far as Washington, its effect upon the public mind would be important to our cause. The condition of our country, and the painful reverses we have just suffered, demand our utmost exertions; and convinced as I am that the opportunity and the means for striking a decisive blow for our navy are now, for the first time, presented, I congratu­late you upon it, and know that your judgment and gallantry will meet all just expectations. Action, prompt and successful just now, would be of serious importance to our cause.

USS Harriet Lane, Lieutenant Jonathan M. Wainwright, captured schooner Joanna Ward off the coast of Florida. Wainwright was the grandfather of the General of the same name who was compelled to surrender Bataan in World War II.

25 USS Monitor commissioned in New York, Lieutenant John L. Worden commanding. Captain Dahlgren described Monitor as ”a mere speck, like a hat on the surface.”

USS Cairo, Lieutenant Nathaniel Bryant, arrived at Nashville, convoying seven steam transports with troops under Brigadier General William Nelson, one of two ex-naval officers assigned to duty with the Army. Troops were landed and occupied the Tennessee capital, an important base on the Cumberland River, without opposition. Meanwhile, the demand for the gunboats mounted steadily. From President Lincoln to widely seperated field commanders, everyone recog­nized their importance. General McClellan wired Major-General Halleck: ”I learn from tele­graph of Commodore Foote to the Navy Department that you have ordered that no gunboats go above Nashville. I think it may greatly facilitate Buell’s operations to send a couple at least of the lighter ones to Nashville. Captain Maynadier, Tenth Infantry, will be ordered to Commo­dore Foote, at his request, as his ordnance officer for mortar boats.” With the fall of Forts Henry and Donelson the Confederates retreated precipitously, abandoning strong positions, valu­able ordnance, and supplies. Moreover, at Nashville and elsewhere on the river they lost badly needed manufacturing facilities. Flag Officer Foote quoted a Nashville paper as stating: ”We had nothing to fear from a land attack, but the gunboats are the devil.”

USS Kingfisher, Acting Lieutenant Couthouy, captured blockade runner Lion in the Gulf of Mexico after a three day chase.

USS Mohican, Commander Godon, and USS Bienville, Commander Steedman, captured block­ade running British schooner Arrow off Fernandina, Florida.

USS R. B. Forbes, Acting Lieutenant William Flye, grounded in a gale near Nag’s Head, North Carolina, and was ordered destroyed by her commanding officer to prevent her falling to the Confederates. She had been ordered to the mortar flotilla below New Orleans.

26 CSS Nashville, Lieutenant Pegram, captured and burned schooner Robert Gilfillan, bound from Philadelphia to Haiti with a cargo of provisions.

USS Bienville, Commander Steedman, captured schooner Alert off St. John’s, Florida. New Orleans “Committee of Safety” reported to President Davis regarding the “most deplorable condition” of the finances of the Navy Department there, stating that it was preventing the enlistment of men and that the “outstanding indebtedness can not be less than $600,000 or $800,000” owing to foundries and machine shops, draymen, and other suppliers, and that for months “a sign has been hanging over the paymaster’s office of that department, ‘No funds.’

The Committee stated that ”unless the proper remedy is at once applied, workmen can no longer be had.”

27 Delayed one day by a lack of ammunition for her guns, USS Monitor, Lieutenant Worden, departed the New York Navy Yard for sea, but was compelled to turn back to the Yard because of steering failure. The same day at Norfolk, Flag Officer Forrest, CSN, commanding the Navy Yard, reported that want of gun powder, too, was delaying the readiness of Virginia to begin operations against the Union blockading ships.

28 CSS Nashville, Lieutenant Pegram, ran the blockade into Beaufort, North Carolina.

March 1862

1 USS Tyler, Lieutenant Gwin, and USS Lexington, Lieutenant Shirk, engaged Confederate forces preparing to strongly fortify Shiloh (Pittsburg Landing), Tennessee. Under cover of the gunboats’ cannon, a landing party of sailors and Army sharpshooters was put ashore from armed boats to determine Confederate strength in the area. Flag Officer Foote commended Gwin for his successful “amphibious” attack where several sailors met their death along with their Army comrades. At the same time he added: “But I must give a general order that no commander will land men to make an attack on shore. Our gunboats are to be used as forts, and as they have no more men than are necessary to man the guns, and as the Army must do the shore work, and as the enemy want nothing better than to entice our men on shore and overpower them with superior numbers, the commanders must not operate on shore, but confine themselves to their vessels.”

Flag Officer Foote again requested funds to keep the captured Eastport. He telegraphed: “I have applied to the Secretary of the Navy to have the rebel gunboat, Eastport, lately captured in the Tennessee River, fitted up as a gunboat, with her machinery in and lumber. She can be fitted out for about $20,000, and in three weeks. We want such a fast and powerful boat. Do telegraph about her, as we now have carpenters and a cargo ahead on her and she is just what we want. I should run about in her and save time and do good service, Our other ironclad boats are too slow. The Eastport was a steamer on the river, and she, being a good boat, would please the West. No reply yet from the Secretary and time is precious.” Had the Confederates been able to complete this fine ship, over 100 feet longer than the armored gunboats, before the rise of the rivers enabled the Federal forces to move with such devastating effect, she could well have disrupted the whole series of Union victories and postponed the collapse of Confederate defenses.

USS Mount Vernon, Commander Glisson, captured blockade running British schooner British Queen off Wilmington with a cargo including salt and coffee.

3 Flag Officer Du Pont, commanding joint amphibious expedition to Fernandina, Florida, reported to Secretary of the Navy Welles that he was “in full possession of Cumberland Island and Sound, of Fernandina and Amelia Island, and the river and town of St. Mary’s.” Confederate defenders were in the process of withdrawing heavy guns inland from the area and offered only token resist­ance to Du Pont’s force. Fort Clinch on Amelia Island, occupied by an armed boat crew from USS Ottawa, had been seized by Confederates at the beginning of the war and was the first fort to be retaken by the Union. Commander Drayton on board Ottawa took a moving train under fire near Fernandina, while launches under Commander C. R. P. Rodgers captured steamer Darlington with a cargo of military stores. Du Pont had only the highest praise for his association with Brig­adier General Wright, commanding the brigade of troops on the expedition: “Our plans of action have been matured by mutual consultation, and have been carried into execution by mutual help.” The Fernandina operation placed the entire Georgia coast actually in the possession or under the control of the Union Navy. Du Pont wrote Senator Grimes three days late? that: “The victory was bloodless, but most complete in results.” Du Pont also noted that: ”The most curious feature of the operations was the chase of a train of cars by a gunboat for one mile and a half-two soldiers were killed, the passengers rushed out in the woods The expedition was a prime example of sea-land mobility and of what General Robert E. Lee meant when he said: “Against ordinary numbers we are pretty strong, but against the hosts our enemies seem able to bring everywhere, there is no calculating.”

4 Union forces covered by Flag Officer Foote’s gunboat flotilla, now driving down the Mississippi, occupied strongly fortified Columbus, Kentucky, which the Confederates had been compelled to evacuate. Foote reported that the reconnaissance by USS Cincinnati and Louisville two days earlier had hastened the evacuation, the rebels leaving quite a number of guns and carriages, ammunition, and large quantity of shot and shell, a considerable number of anchors, and the rem­nant of chain lately stretched across the river, with a large number of torpedoes.” The powerful fort, thought by many to be impregnable, had fallen without a struggle. Brigadier General Cullum wrote: “Columbus, the Gibraltar of the West, is ours and Kentucky is free, thanks to the brilliant strategy of the campaign, by which the enemy’s center was pierced at Forts Henry and Donelson, his wings isolated from each other and turned, compelling thus the evacuation of his strongholds at Bowling Green first and now Columbus.”

Confederate Secretary of the Navy Mallory summarized his Navy’s needs to President Davis: fifty light-draft and powerful steam propellers, plated with 5- inch hard iron, armed and equipped for service in our own waters, four iron or steel-clad single deck, ten gun frigates of about 2,000 tons, and ten clipper propellers with superior marine engines, both classes of ships designed for deep- sea cruising, 3,000 tons of first-class boiler-plate iron, and 1,000 tons of rod, bolt, and bar iron are means which this Department could immediately employ. We could use with equal advantage 3,000 instructed seamen, and 4,000 ordinary seamen and landsmen, and 2,000 first rate mechanics.”

Commander Daniel B. Ridgely, USS Santiago de Cuba, reported the capture of sloop O.K. off Cedar Keys, Florida, in February. Proceeding to St. Mark’s, Florida, O.K. foundered in heavy seas.

5 Flag Officer Foote observed that the gunboats could not immediately attack the Confederate defenses at Island No. 10, down the river from Columbus. “The gunboats have been so much cutup in the late engagements at Forts Henry and Donelson in the pilot houses, hulls, and disabled machinery, that I could not induce the pilots to go in them again in a fight until they are repaired. I regret this, as we ought to move in the quickest possible time, but I have declined doing it, being utterly unprepared, although General Halleck says go, and not wait for repairs; but that can not be done without creating a stampede amongst the pilots and most of the newly made officers, to say nothing of the disasters which must follow if the rebels fight as they have done of late.” Two days later he added other information: “The Benton is underway and barely stems the strong current of the Ohio, which is 5 knots per hour in this rise of water, but hope, by putting her between two ironclad steamers to-morrow, she will stem the current and work comparatively well…. I hope on Wednesday [12 March] to take down seven ironclad gunboats and ten mortar boats to attack Island No. 10 and New Madrid. As the current in the Mississippi is in some places 7 knots per hour, the ironclad boats can hardly return here, therefore we must go well prepared, which detains us longer than even you would imagine necessary from your navy-yard and smooth-water standpoint…. We are doing our best, but our difficulties and trials are legion.”

Flag Officer Farragut issued a general order to the fleet in which he stressed gunnery and damage control training. ”I expect every vessel’s crew to be well exercised at their guns…. They must he equally well trained for stopping shot holes and extinguishing fire. Hot and cold shot will no doubt be freely dealt us, and there must be stout hearts and quick hands to extinguish the one and stop the holes of the other.”

USS Water Witch, Lieutenant Hughes, captured schooner William Mallory off St. Andrew’s Bay, Florida.

6 Lieutenant Worden reported USS Monitor had passed over the bar in New York harbor with USS Currituck and Sachem in company. “In order to reach Hampton Roads as speedily as possi­ble,” Worden wrote Secretary of the Navy Welles, ”whilst the fine weather lasts, I have been taken in tow by the tug [Seth Low].”

Commander Semmes, CSS Sumter, wrote J. M. Mason, Confederate Commissioner in London, it is quite manifest that there is a combination of all the neutral nations against us in this war and that in consequence we shall be able to accomplish little or nothing outside of our own waters. The fact is, we have got to fight this war out by ourselves, unaided, and that, too, in our own terms…. The foreign intervention so much hoped for by the Confederacy was in large measure forestalled by the impressive series of Union naval successes and the effectiveness of the blockade.

USS Pursuit, Acting Lieutenant David Cate, captured schooner Anna Belle off Apalachicola, Florida.

8 Ironclad CSS Virginia, Captain Buchanan, destroyed wooden blockading ships USS Cumberland and USS Congress in Hampton Roads. Virginia, without trials or under way-training, headed directly for the Union squadron. She opened the engagement when less than a mile distant from Cumberland and the firing became general from blockaders and shore batteries. Virginia rammed Cumberland below the waterline and she sank rapidly, “gallantly fighting her guns,” Buchanan reported in tribute to a brave foe, “as long as they were above water. Buchanan next turned Virginia’s fury on Congress, hard aground, and set her ablaze with hot shot and incen­diary shell. The day was Virginia’s but it was not without loss. Part of her ram was wrenched off and left imbedded in the side of stricken Cumberland, and Buchanan received a wound in the thigh which necessitated his turning over command to Lieutenant Catesby ap R. Jones. Secretary of the Navy Mallory wrote to President Davis of the action: “The conduct of the Officers and men of the squadron…. reflects unfading honor upon themselves and upon the Navy. The report will be read with deep interest, and its details will not fail to rouse the ardor and nerve the arms of our gallant seamen. It will be remembered that the Virginia was a novelty in naval architecture, wholly unlike any ship that ever floated; that her heaviest guns were equal novelties in ordnance; that her motive power and obedience to her helm were untried, and her officers and crew strangers, comparatively, to the ship and to each other; and yet, under all these disadvan­tages, the dashing courage and consummate professional ability of Flag Officer Buchanan and his associates achieved the most remarkable victory which naval annals record.”
USS Monitor, Lieutenant Worden, arrived in Hampton Roads at night. The stage was set for the dramatic battle with CSS Virginia the following day. ‘ Upon the untried endurances of the new Monitor and her timely arrival,” observed Captain Dahlgren, ”did depend the tide of events…. ”

Flag Officer Foote’s doctor reported on the busy commander’s injury received at Fort Donelson where, as always, he was in the forefront: ”Very little, if any, improvement has taken place in consequence of neglect of the main [requirements] of a cure, viz, absolute rest and horizontal position of the whole extremity.”

USS Bohio, Acting Master W. D. Gregory, captured schooner Henry Travers off Southwest Pass, mouth of the Mississippi River.

9 Engagement lasting four hours took Place between USS Monitor, Lieutenant Worden, and CSS Virginia, Lieutenant Jones, mostly at close range in Hampton Roads. Although neither side could claim clear victory, this historic first combat between ironclads ushered in a new era of war at sea. The blockade continued intact, but Virginia remained as a powerful defender of the Norfolk area and a barrier to the use of the rivers for the movement of Union forces. Severe damage inflicted on wooden-hulled USS Minnesota by Virginia during an interlude in the fight with Monitor underscored the plight of a wooden ship confronted by an ironclad. The broad impact of the Monitor-Virginia battle on naval thinking was summarized by Captain Levin M. Powell of USS Potomac writing later from Vera Cruz: ”The news of the fight between the Monitor and the Merrimack has created the most profound sensation amongst the professional men in the allied fleet here. They recognize the fact, as much by silence as words, that the face of naval warfare looks the other way now and the superb frigates and ships of the line…. supposed capable a month ago, to destroy anything afloat in half an hour…. are very much diminished in their proportions, and the confidence once reposed in them fully shaken in the presence of these astounding facts.” And as Captain Dahlgren phrased it: ”Now comes the reign of iron and cased sloops are to take the place of wooden ships.”

Naval force under Commander Godon, consisting of USS Mohican, Pocahontas, and Potomska, took possession of St. Simon’s and Jekyl Islands and landed at Brunswick, Georgia. All locations were found to be abandoned in keeping with the general Confederate withdrawal from the sea­coast and coastal islands.

USS Pinola, Lieutenant Crosby, arrived at Ship Island, Mississippi, with prize schooner Cora, captured in the Gulf of Mexico.

Landing party from USS Anacostia and Yankee of the Potomac Flotilla, Lieutenant Wyman, destroyed abandoned Confederate batteries at Cockpit Point and Evansport, Virginia, and found CSS Page blown up.

10 Amidst the Herculean labors of lightening and dragging heavy ships through the mud of the “19 ft. bar” that turned out to be 15 feet, and organizing the squadron, Flag Officer Farragut reported: I am up to my eyes in business. The Brooklyn is on the bar, and I am getting her off. I have just had Bell up at the head of the passes. My blockading shall be done inside as much as pos­sible. I keep the gunboats up there all the time…. Success is the only thing listened to in his war, and I know that I must sink or swim by that rule. Two of my best friends have done me a great injury by telling the Department that the Colorado can be gotten over the bar into the river, and so I was compelled to try it, and take precious time to do it. If I had been left to myself, I would have been in before this.”

Tug USS Whitehall, Acting Master William J. Baulsir, was accidentally destroyed by fire off Fort Monroe.

11 Landing party from USS Wabash, Commander C. R. P. Rodgers, occupied St. Augustine, Florida, which had been evacuated by Confederate troops in the face of the naval threat.

Two Confederate gunboats under construction at the head of Pensacola Bay were burned by Confederate military authorities to prevent their falling into Northern hands in the event of the anticipated move against Pensacola by Union naval forces.

12 Landing party under Lieutenant Thomas H. Stevens of USS Ottawa occupied Jacksonville, Florida, without opposition.

USS Gem of the Sea, Lieutenant Baxter, captured British blockade runner Fair Play off George­town, South Carolina.

Gunboats USS Tyler, Lieutenant Gwin, and USS Lexington, Lieutenant Shirk, engaged a Con­federate battery at Chickasaw, Alabama, while reconnoitering the Tennessee River.

13 Major-General John P. McCown, CSA, ordered the evacuation of Confederate troops from New Madrid, Missouri, under cover of Flag Officer Hollins’ gunboat squadron consisting of CSS Livingston, Polk, and Pontchartrain.

Flag Officer Foote advised Major-General Halleck of the problems presented the partly armored ironclads by an attack downstream, much different difficulties than those encountered going up rivers in Tennessee: ”Your instructions to attack Island No. 10 are received, and I shall move for that purpose tomorrow morning. I have made the following telegram to the Navy Depart­ment, which you will perceive will lead me to be cautious, and not bring the boats within short range of the enemy’s batteries. Generally, in all our attacks down the river, I will bear in mind the effect on this place and the other rivers, which a serious disaster to the gunboats would involve. General Strong is telegraphing Paducah for transports, as there are none at Cairo. The ironclad boats can not be held when anchored by stern in this current on account of the recess between the fantails forming the stern yawing them about, and as the sterns of the boats are not plated, and have but two 32-pounders astern, you will see our difficulty of fighting downstream effectually. Neither is there power enough in any of them to back upstream. We must, therefore, tie up to shore the best way we can and help the mortar boats. I have long since expressed to General Meigs my apprehensions about these boats’ defects. Don’t have my gunboats for rivers built with wheels amidships. The driftwood would choke the wheel, even if it had a powerful engine. I felt it my duty to state these difficulties, which could not be obviated, when I came here, as the vessels were modeled and partly built.”

Commander D. D. Porter reported the arrival of the morter flotilla at Ship Island, and five days later took them over the bar and into the Mississippi in preparation for the prolonged bombard­ment of Forts Jackson and St. Philip.

14 Joint amphibious attack under Commander Rowan and Brigadier General Burnside captured Confederate batteries on the Neuse River and occupied New Bern, North Carolina, described by Ruwan as “an immense depot of army fixtures and manufactures, of shot and shell Com­mander Rowan, with 13 war vessels and transports carrying 12,000 troops, departed his anchorage at Hatteras Inlet on 12 March, arriving in sight of New Bern that evening. Landing the troops, including Marines, the following day under the protecting guns of his vessels, Rowan continued close support of the Army advance throughout the day. The American flag was raised over Forts Dixie, Ellis, Thompson, and Lane on 14 Match, the formidable” obstructions in the river including torpedoes were passed by the gunboats, and troops were transported across Trent River to occupy the city. In addition to convoy, close gunfire support, and transport operations, the Navy captured two steamers, stores, munitions, and cotton, and supplied a how­itzer battery ashore under Lieutenant Roderick S. McCook, USN. Wherever water reached, combined operations struck heavy blows that were costly to the Confederacy.

Flag Officer Foote departed Cairo with seven gunboats USS Louisville was soon forced to return for repairs) and ten mortar boats to undertake the bombardment of Island No. 10, which stood astride the sweep of Union forces down the Mississippi. Foote wired Major-General Halleck: “…. I consider it unsafe to move without troops to occupy No. 10 if we [naval forces] capture it…. should we pass No. 10 after its capture, the rebels on the Tennessee side would return and man their batteries and thus shut up the river in our rear.”

15 Flag Officer Foote’s flotilla moved from Hickman, Kentucky, down river to a position above Island No. 10. Foote reported, “The rain and dense fog prevented our getting the vessels in po­sition [to commence the bombardment].

16 Union gunboats and mortar boats under Flag Officer Foote commenced bombardment of strongly fortified and strategically located Island No. 10 in the Mississippi River. After the loss of Forts Henry and Donelson, and as General Grant continued to wisely use the mobile force afloat at his disposal, the Confederates fell back on Island No. 10, concentrated artillery and troops, and prepared for an all-out defense of this bastion which dominated the river. Meanwhile, Lieutenant Gwin reported the operations of the wooden gunboats on the Tennessee River into Mississippi and Alabama where they kept constantly active: ”I reported to General Grant at Fort Foote on the 7th instant and remained at Danville Bridge, 25 miles above, awaiting the fleet of transports until Monday morning, by direction of General Grant, when, General Smith arriving with a large portion of his command, forty transports, I convoyed them to Savannah, arriving there without molestation on the 11th. The same evening, with General Smith and staff on board, made a reconnaissance of the river as high as Pittsburg. The rebels had not renewed their at­tempts to fortify at that point, owing to the vigilant watch that had been kept on them in my absence by Lieutenant Commanding Shirk.”

USS Owasco, Lieutenant John Guest, captured schooners Eugenia and President in the Gulf of Mexico with cargoes of cotton.

17 First elements of the Army of the Potomac under General McClellan departed Alexandria, Vir­ginia, for movement by water to Fort Monroe and the Navy- supported Peninsular Campaign aimed at capturing Richmond. His strategy was based on the mobility, flexibility, and massed gunfire support afforded by the Union Navy’s control of the Chesapeake; indeed, he was to be saved from annihilation by heavy naval guns.

USS Benton, with Flag Officer Foote on board, was lashed between USS Cincinnati and St. Louis to attack Island No. 10 and Confederate batteries on the Tennessee shore at a range of 2,000 yards. “The upper fort,” Foote reported, “was badly cut up by the Benton and the other boats with her. We dismounted one of their guns…. In the attack, Confederate gunners scored hits on Benton and damaged the engine of Cincinnati. A rifled gun burst on board St. Louis and killed or wounded a number of officers and men.

CSS Nashville, Lieutenant Pegram, ran the blockade out of Beaufort, North Carolina, through the gunfire of USS Cambridge, Commander W. A. Parker, and USS Gemsbok, Lieutenant Cavendy. News of the escape of Nashville caused concern to run high in Washington. Assistant Secretary of the Navy Fox wrote Flag Officer L. M. Goldsborough: “It is a terrible blow to our naval prestige
…. you can have no idea of the feeling here. It is a Bull Run of the Navy.”

18 USS Florida, James Adger, Sumpter, Flambeau, and Onward captured British blockade runner Emily St. Pierre off Charleston. The master and steward, left on board, overpowered prize master Josiah Stone off Cape Hatteras, recaptured the vessel, and sailed to Liverpool, England.

19 Flag Officer Foote’s forces attacking Island No. 10 continued to meet with strong resistance from Confederate batteries. “This place, Island No. 10,” Foote observed, ”is harder to conquer than Columbus, as the island shores are lined with forts, each fort commanding the one above it. We are gradually approaching…. The mortar shells have done fine execution

Flag Officer Farragut described the noose of seapower: ”I sent over to Biloxi yesterday, and robbed the post-office of a few papers. They speak volumes of discontent. It is no use -the cord is pulling tighter, and I hope I shall he able to tie it. God alone decides the contest; but we must put our shoulders to the wheel.”

20 Confederate President Davis wrote- regarding the defense of the James River approach to Rich­mond: “The position of Drewry’s Bluff, seven or eight miles below Richmond was chosen to obstruct the river against such vessels as the Monitor. The work is being rapidly completely. Either Fort Powhatan or Kennon’s Marsh, if found to be the proper positions, will be fortified and obstructed as at Drewry’s Bluff, to prevent the ascent of the river by ironclad vessels. Block­ading the channel where sufficiently narrow by strong lines of obstructions, filling it with sub­mersive batteries [torpedoes], and flanking the obstructions by well protected batteries of the heaviest guns, seem to offer the best and speediest chances of protection with the means at our disposal against ironclad floating batteries.” The Confederate Navy contributed in large part to these successful defenses that for three years resisted penetration. Naval crews proved especially effective in setting up and manning the big guns, many of which had come from the captured Navy Yard at Norfolk.

21 Major-General Halleck wrote Flag Officer Foote, commenting on the Navy’s operations against the Confederate batteries guarding Island No. 10: ”While I am certain that you have done every­thing that could be done successfully to reduce these works, I am very glad that you have not unnecessarily exposed your gunboats. If they had been disabled, it would have been a most serious loss to us in the future operations of the campaign…. Nothing is lost by a little delay there.” Foote’s gunboat and mortar boat flotilla continued to bombard the works with telling effect.

22 CSS Florida, Acting Master John Low, sailing as British steamer Oreto, cleared Liverpool, Eng­land, for Nassau. The first ship built in England for the Confederacy, Florida’s four 7-inch rifled guns were sent separately to Nassau in steamer Bahama. Commander Bulloch, CSN, wrote Lieu-tenant John N. Maffitt, CSN: “Another ship will be- ready in about two months…. Two small ships can do but little in the way of materially turning the tide of war, but we can do something to illustrate the spirit and energy of our people

General Lovell wrote Secretary of War Benjamin that he bad six steamers of the River Defense Fleet to protect New Orleans. Lovell added: ”The people of New Orleans thought it strange that all the vessels of the Navy should be sent up the river and were disposed to find fault with sending in addition fourteen steamers leaving this city without a single vessel for protection against the enemy Confederate officials in Richmond were convinced than the greatest threat to New Orleans would come from upriver rather than from Flag Officer Farragut’s force below Forts Jackson and St. Philip.

Boat crew from USS Penguin, Acting Lieutenant T. A. Budd, and USS Henry Andrew’, Acting Master Mather, was attacked while reconnoitering Mosquito Inlet, Florida. Budd, Mather, and three others were killed.

24 Lieutenant Gwin, USS Tyler, reported the typically ceaseless activity of the gunboats: ”. since my last report, dated March 21, 1 have been actively employed cruising up and down the river. The Lexington arrived this morning. The ‘Tyler, accompanied by the Lexington, proceeded up the river to a point 2 miles below Eastport, Mississippi, where we discovered the rebels were planting a new battery at an elevation above water of 60 (degrees), consisting of two guns, one apparently in position. We threw several shell into it, but failed to elicit a reply. The battery just below Eastport, consisting of two guns, then opened upon us. Their shot fell short. I stood up just outside of their range and threw three or four 20 [second] shell at that battery, none of which exploded, owing to the very defective fuze (army). The rebels did not respond. I have made no regular attack on their lately constructed batteries, as they are of no importance to us, our base of operations being so much below them. I have deemed it my duty, however, to annoy them, where I could with little or no risk to our gunboats…. The Lexington, Lieu­tenant Commanding Shirk, will cruise down the river from this point. The Tyler will cruise above.”

USS Pensacola, towing a chartered schooner into which she had discharged guns and stores at Ship Island, arrived at the mouth of the Mississippi. She grounded and failed on four attempts to cross the bar even though water conditions were favorable and small steamships were towing her through the mud on one occasion parting a hawser that killed two men and injured others.

25 CSS Pamlico, Lieutenant William G. Dozier, and CSS Oregon, Acting Master Abraham L. Myers, engaged USS New London, Lieutenant Read, at Pass Christian, Mississippi. The rifled gun on board Pamlico jammed during the nearly two hour engagement, and the Confederate ves­sels broke off the action, neither side having been damaged in the test of the strength of Flag Officer Farragut’s gathering forces. Transports with General Butler and troops arrived at Ship Island which, until Pensacola was retaken, became the principal base for operations west of Key West. Flag Officer Farragut wrote: “I am now packed and ready for my departure to the mouth of the Mississippi River… I spent last evening very pleasantly with General Butler. He does not appear to have any very difficult plan of operations, but simply to follow in my wake and hold what I can take. God grant that may be all that we attempt… victory. If I die in the attempt, it will only be what every officer has to expect. He who dies in doing his duty to his country, and at peace with his God, has played out the drama of life to the best advantage.”

Confederate Secretary of the Navy Mallory ordered Flag Officer Tattnall to relieve the injured Flag Officer Buchanan and “take command of the naval defenses on the waters of Virginia and hoist your flag on board the Virginia.”

Reports of Confederate ironclads on the river disturbed Union commanders far and wide. Major-General Halleck wired Flag Officer Foote: ”It is stated by men just arrived from New Orleans that the rebels are constructing one or more ironclad river boats to send against your flotilla. Moreover, it is said that they are to be cased with railroad iron like the Merrimack. If this is so I think a single boat might destroy your entire flotilla, pass our batteries and sweep the Western rivers. Could any of your gunboats be clad in the same way so as to resist the apprehended danger? If not, how long would it require to build a new one for that purpose? I have telegraphed to the Secretary of War for authority to have any suitable boat altered or prepared; or if there be none suitable, to build a new one. As no time is to be lost, if any one of the gunboats now in service will bear this change it should be taken in preference to building a new one. I shall await your answer. Could not the Essex be so altered?” Flag Officer Foote sent Lieutenant Joseph P. Sanford, his ordnance officer, to confer with the General on the subject and replied: ”There is no vessel now in the flotilla that can be armored as you suggest. This [Benton] is the only one which could bear the additional weight of iron required and she already is so deep and wanting in steam power that it would make her utterly useless with the additional weight of iron. I suggest that a strong boat be fitted up in St. Louis and armored in fact, two vessels-in the shortest possible manner, with a view of protecting the river at Cairo, or Columbus would do better, if it was fortified with heavy guns sweeping the river below. These boats will require at least a month to be fitted up. As to the place, etc., Lieutenant Sanford will consult with you. Commander Porter of the Essex, is also in St. Louis, who is fitting out the Essex, and who will remain there for the present. He will attend to the new boats and get them ready in the shortest possible time.”

Gunboat USS Cairo, Lieutenant Bryant, seized guns and equipment abandoned by Confederate troops evacuating Fort Zollicoffer, six miles below Nashville.

Gunboat USS Cayuga, Lieutenant Harrison, captured schooner Jessie J. Cox, en route from Mobile to Havana with a cargo of cotton and turpentine.

26 Flag Officer Foote, off Island No. 10, dispatched a warning to Commander Alexander M. Pennock, his fleet captain at Cairo: “You will inform the commanders of the gunboats Cairo, Tyler, and Lexington not to be caught up the river with too little water to return to Cairo. They, of course, before leaving, will consult the generals with whom they are cooperating. As it is reported on the authority of different persons from New Orleans that the rebels have thirteen gunboats finished and ready to move up the Mississippi, besides the four or five below New Madrid, and the Manassas or ram, at Memphis, the boats now up the rivers and at Columbus or Hickman, should be ready to protect Cairo or Columbus in case disaster overtakes us in our flotilla.” Union commanders
in the west and elsewhere recognized how much the margin of Union superiority and the power to thrust deep into the Confederacy depended upon the gunboats, and care was exercised not to lose the effectiveness of this mobile force. Meanwhile, greatly concerned about threats of Confederate naval ironclads, Secretary of War Stanton wired the President of the Board of Trade at Pittsburg: “This Department desires the immediate aid of your association in the following particulars 1st. That you would appoint three of its active members most familiar with steamboat and engine building who would act in concert with this Department and under its direction, and from patrio­tic motives devote some time and attention for thirty days in purchasing and preparing such means of defense on the Western waters against ironclad boats as the engineers of this Department may devise… My object is to bring the energetic, patriotic spirit and enlightened, practical judg­ment of your city to aid the Government in a matter of great moment, where hours must count and dollars not be squandered.”

Two armed boats from USS Delaware, Lieutenant Stephen P. Quackenbush, captured schooners Albemarle and Lion at the head of Panzego Creek, North Carolina.

27 Secretary of ‘vat Stanton instructed Engineer Charles Ellet, Jr., ” You will please proceed immedi­ately to Pittsburg, Cincinnati, and New Albany and take measures to provide steam rams for defense against ironclad vessels on the “‘Western waters.” The next day he wired Ellet at Pitts­burg: “General [James K.] Moorhead has gone to Pittsburg to aid you and put you in communi­cation with the committee there. The rebels have a ram at Memphis. Lose no time.” Later Stanton described the Ellet rams to General Halleck: ”They are the most powerful steamboats, with upper cabins removed, and bows filled in with heavy timber. It is not proposed to wait for putting on iron. This is the mode in which the Merrimack will be met. Can you not have something of the kind speedily prepared at St. Louis also?”

Armed boat expedition from USS Restless Acting Lieutenant Conroy, captured schooner Julia Worden off South Carolina, with a cargo of rice for Charleston, and burned sloop Mart Louisa and schooner George Washington.

Flag Officer Du Pont reported to Secretary of the Navy Welles that Confederate batteries on Skiddaway and Green Islands, Georgia, had been withdrawn and placed nearer Savannah, giving Union forces complete control of Wassaw and Ossabaw Sounds and the mouths of the Vernon and Wilmington Rivers, important approaches to the city.

28 Commander Henry H. Bell reported a reconnaissance in USS Kennebee of the Mississippi River and Forts Jackson and St. Philip. He noted that the “two guns from St. Philip reached as far down the river as any from Jackson” and called attention to the obstruction, “consisting of a raft of logs and eight hulks moored abreast,” across the river below St. Philip. Scouting missions of this nature enabled Flag Officer Farragut to make the careful and precise plans which ultimately led to the successful passage of the forts and the capture of New Orleans.

Lieutenant Stevens reported his return to Jacksonville with a launch and cutter from USS Wabash and steamers USS Darlington and Ellen after raising yacht America which had been found sunk by the Confederates earlier in the month far up St. John’s River, Florida. Stevens reported that it was “generally believed she was bought by the rebels for the purpose of carrying Slidell and Mason to England.”

29 USS R. R. Cuyler, Lieutenant F. Winslow, captured blockade running schooner Grace E. Baker off the coast of Cuba.

Boat under command of Acting Master’s Mate Henry Eason from USS Restless, captured schooner Lydia and Mary with large a cargo of rice for Charleston, and destroyed an unnamed schooner in Santee River, South Carolina.

30 Flag Officer Foote ordered Commander Henry Walke, USS Carondelet.’ “You will avail yourself of the first fog or rainy night and drift your steamer down past the batteries, on the Tennessee shore, and Island No. 10…. for the purpose of covering General Pope’s army while he crosses that point to the opposite, or to the Tennessee side of the river, that he may move his army up to Island No. 10 and attack the rebels in the rear while we attack them in front.” Five days later Walke made his heroic dash past Island No. 10 to join the Army at New Madrid.

April 1862

1 Combined Army-Navy boat expedition under Master John V. Johnston, USN, of gunboat USS St. Louis and Colonel George W. Roberts landed and spiked the guns of Fort No. 1 on the Tennessee shore above Island No. 10, Mississippi River (night of 1-2 April). Colonel Roberts reported: “To the naval officers in command of the boats great praise is due for the admirable manner in which our approach was conducted.”

CSS Gaines, Commander Hunter, recaptured Confederate schooner Isabel off Mobile. Isabel had been under tow of USS Cayuga, Lieutenant Harrison, but was cast off in a heavy gale in the Gulf of Mexico.

2 General McClellan and his staff arrived at Fort Monroe on board steamer Commodore. In the Peninsular Campaign to capture Richmond, the General intended to take full advantage of Union command of the seas for logistic support and offensive operations. He wrote: “Effective naval cooperation will shorten this operation by weeks.” He proposed to outflank Confederate defenders by water movements up the James and York Rivers supported by the Navy. The ominous presence of CSS Virginia at the mouth of the James River dictated that Flag Officer L. M. Goldsborough keep his main naval strength at Hampton Roads alerted against future attacks by the Confederate ironclad. Union gunboats frequently bombarded Yorktown, under siege by McClel­lan’s army, until the city was evacuated on 3 May.

USS Mount Vernon, Commander Glisson, with USS Fernandina and Cambridge, destroyed schooner Kate attempting to run the blockade near Wilmington.

3 Armed boats from USS Mercedita, Commander Stellwagen, and USS Sagamore, Lieutenant Andrew J. Drake, captured Apalachicola, Florida, without resistance and took pilot boats Cygnet and Mary Olivia, schooners New Island, Floyd, and Rose, and sloop Octavia.

Flag Officer Du Pont and Brigadier General Henry W. Benham planned to cut off Fort Pulaski from Savannah in joint operations along the Georgia coast. Du Pont immediately ordered USS Mohican, Commander Godon, to reconnoiter the Wilmington River to determine the best means of obstructing it as part of the projected attack.

USS Susquehanna, Captain Lardner, captured British blockade runner Coquette off Charleston. Three armed boats from USS Isaac Smith, Lieutenant J. W. A. Nicholson, captured British blockade runner British Empire with a cargo of provisions, dry goods, and medicines in Matanzas Inlet, Florida.

4 USS Carondelet,. Commander Walke, shrouded by a heavy storm at night, successfully ran past Island No. 10, Mississippi River, and reached Major-General John Pope’s army at New Madrid. For his heroic dash through flaming Confederate batteries, Walke strengthened Carondelet with cord-wood piled around the boilers, extra deck planking, and anchor chain for added armor protection. “The passage of the Carondelet,” wrote A. T. Mahan, “was not only one of the most daring and dramatic events of the war; it was also the death blow to the Confederate defense of this position.” With the support of the gunboats, the Union troops could now safely plan to cross the river and take the Confederate defenses from the rear.

USS Pursuit, Acting Lieutenant Cate, captured sloop LaFayette at St. Joseph’s Bay, Florida, with a cargo of cotton.

CSS Carondelet, Lieutenant Washington Gwathmey, with CSS Pamlico and Oregon, engaged gunboats USS, J. P. Jackson, New London, and Hatteras, and troops on board steamer Lewis, but could not prevent the landing of 1,200 men at Pass Christian, Mississippi, and the destruction of the Confederate camp there.
J. P. Jackson, Acting Lieutenant Selim E. Woodworth, captured steamer P. C. Wallis near New Orleans with a cargo of turpentine, pitch, rosin, and oil.

5 Brigadier General Benham informed Flag Officer Du Pont of a reported Confederate build-up of strength at Wilmington Island, “possibly for an effort to relieve or reinforce the garrison of Fort Pulaski.” The General added that he was “most earnestly wishing” for further naval strength in the area. As reports of expected Confederate action at Fort Pulaski continued to reach Du Pont, he made every effort to render maximum support to the Army.

Flag Officer Farragut on board USS Iroquois made a personal reconnaissance in the area of Forts Jackson and St. Philip. The forts opened fire, but Farragut, observing from a mast, remained as “calm and placid as an onlooker at a mimic battle.”

Launch from USS, Montgomery, Lieutenant Charles Hunter, captured and destroyed schooner Columbia near San Luis Pass, Texas, loaded with cotton.

6 USS Tyler, Lieutenant Gwin, and USS Lexington, Lieutenant Shirk, protected the advanced river flank of General Grant’s army at the Battle of Shiloh (Pittsburg Landing) and slowed the initially successful attack of the Confederates, Major-General Polk, CSA, reported that the Confederate forces “were within from 150 to 400 yards of the enemy’s position, and nothing seemed wanting to complete the most brilliant victory of the war but to press forward and make a vigorous assault on the demoralized remnant of his forces, At this juncture his gunboats dropped down the river, near the landing where his troops were collected, and opened a tremendous cannonade of shot and shell over the bank, in the direction from where our forces were approach­ing.” Fire from the two wooden gunboats helped maintain Union positions until reinforcements arrived, and the next day contributed to forcing the Confederate retreat. ”In this repulse,” wrote Grant, “much is due to the presence of the gunboats.” General Beauregard, CSA, attributed the Confederate loss the following day in large part to the presence of the gunboats. “During the night [of the 6th] the rain fell in torrents, adding to the discomforts and harassed condition of the men. The enemy, moreover, had broken their rest by a discharge at measured intervals of heavy shells thrown from the gunboats; therefore, on the following morning the troops under my command were not in condition to cope with an equal force of fresh troops, armed and equipped like our adversary, in the immediate possession of his depots and sheltered by such an auxiliary as the enemy’s gunboats.” One of the Army divisions at Shiloh was commanded by Major-General Nelson, a former naval officer assigned to the Army, “who,” Lieutenant Gwin observed, “greatly distinguished himself.” Gwin went on to report of the battle, ”I think this has been a crushing blow to the rebellion.”

USS Carondelet, Commander Walke, made a reconnaissance down the Mississippi River from New Madrid to Tiptonville, exchanging shots with shore batteries and landing to spike Con­federate guns in preparation for covering the river crossing by Major-General Pope’s troops.

USS Pursuit, Acting Lieutenant Cate, captured steamer Florida loading cotton at North Bay, head of Bear Creek, Florida.

7 USS Pittsburg, Lieutenant Egbert Thompson, ran past the batteries at Island No. 10 and joined USS Carondelet in covering the crossing of Major-General Pope’s army to the Tennessee side of the Mississippi River to move against Island No. 10. The General’s words to Flag Officer Foote attested to the importance he attached to naval support: “…. the lives of thousands of men and the success of our operations hang upon your decision. With the two boats all is safe.

Island No. 10, described by Brigadier General William W. Mackall, CSA, commanding the island, as “the key of the Mississippi,” surrendered to the naval forces of Flag Officer Foote. Besides the heavy cannon and munitions captured, four steamers were taken and gunboat CSS Grampus was sunk before the surrender. Capture of Island No. 10 opened the river to Union gunboats and transports south to Fort Pillow. Congress tendered Flag Officer Foote a vote of thanks “for his eminent services and gallantry at Fort Henry, Fort Donelson, and Island No. 10, while in command of the naval forces of the United States.” Mobile naval strength had sealed the fate of the Confederacy on the upper Mississippi River, and was knifing into the heart of the South.

After surrender of Island No. 10, USS Mound City, Commander Augustus H. Kiley, seized Con­federate ship Red Rover, which had been damaged by mortar fire. Temporarily repaired, Red Rover was moved to Cairo where she was converted to the Navy’s first hospital ship. She joined the river fleet under Commander Pennock, on 10 June and shortly received her first patients.

Red Rover was officially transferred to the Navy on 1 October 1862 and commissioned 26 December.

Sisters of the Holy Cross volunteered and served on board as nurses- pioneers of the US Navy Nurse Corps treating the sick and wounded. From Civil War Red Rover to the present, fine medical facilities afloat have promoted the efficiency and staying power of the combatant fleets.

USS Pensacola, Captain Morris, and USS Mississippi, Commander M. Smith, were successfully brought over the bar at the Passes and into the Mississippi River after several previous attempts to do so had met with failure. These were the two heaviest vessels ever to enter the river and figured prominently in the attack on New Orleans. “Now,” Flag Officer Farragut wrote, “we are all right.”

Commander Semmes’ log of CSS Sumter recorded: “Received a telegram from Mr. Mason [J. M. Mason, Confederate Commissioner in London] ordering me to lay the Sumter up and to permit the officers and such of the crew as prefer it to return to the Confederate States.” This action in large measure was caused by a serious breakdown of Sumter’s boilers at Gibraltar.

8 General Robert E. Lee wrote Confederate Secretary of the Navy Mallory:…. it is my opinion that they [General McClellan’s army] are endeavoring to change their base of operations from James to York River. This change has no doubt been occasioned by their fear of the effect of the Virginia upon their shipping in the James. General Magruder informs me that their gunboats and transports have appeared off Shipping Point, on the Poquosin, near the mouth of the York, where they intend, apparently, to establish a landing for stores, preparatory to moving against our lines at Yorktown.”

9 USS Ottawa, Lieutenant Stevens, USS Pembina, and Ellen escorted transports Cosmopolitan and Belvedere out of Jacksonville, as Union forces evacuated the area.

Flag Officer Hollins telegraphed Confederate Secretary of the Navy Mallory from Fort Pillow for authority to bring his force to the support of New Orleans. Mallory, convinced that the serious threat to New Orleans would come from Flag Officer Foote’s force in the upper river rather than from Farragut’s fleet below, denied Hollin’s request.

10 Gunboat USS Kanawha, Lieutenant John C. Febiger, captured blockade running schooners Southern Independence, Victoria, Charlotte, and Cuba off Mobile.

USS Whitehead, Acting Master Charles A. French, captured schooners Comet, J. J. Crittenden, and sloop America in Newbegun Creek, North Carolina.

USS Keystone State, Commander LeRoy, chased blockade runner Liverpool, which ran aground outside North Inlet, South Carolina, and was destroyed by her crew.

11 CSS Virginia, Flag Officer Tattnall, rounded Sewell’s Point to make her second appearance In Hampton Roads. Under Virginia’s protection, CSS Jamestown, Lieutenant Barney, and CSS Raleigh, Lieutenant-Commander Joseph W. Alexander, captured three Union transports. Because of major strategic considerations on both sides, no second Monitor-Virginia duel ensued. Monitor’s mission was to contain Virginia in support of General McClellan’s campaign on the Peninsula, and Virginia safeguarded the important Norfolk area and the mouth of the James River.

Fort Pulaski, Georgia, surrendered after enduring an intensive two day bombardment by Union artillery. Commander C.R.P. Rodgers and a detachment of sailors from USS Wabash manned Battery Sigel the second day of the engagement and ”kept up a steady and well-directed fire until the fort hauled down its flag, at 2 p.m.” The Navy gunners’ participation in the action was at the invitation of Major-General David Hunter, commander of the Army forces, and demonstrated once again the closeness of cooperation achieved by the two services.

Flag Officer Farragut expressed his views on the outcome of the anticipated assault on New Orleans: “God dispenses His will according to his judgment, and not according to our wishes or expectations. The defeat of our army at Corinth, which I saw in the rebel papers, will give us a much harder fight; men are easily elated or depressed by victory. But as to being prepared for defeat, I certainly am not. Any man who is prepared for defeat would be half defeated before he commenced. I hope for success; shall do all in my power to secure it, and trust to God for the rest. I trust in Him as a merciful being; but really in war it seems as if we hardly ought to expect mercy, when men are destroying one another upon questions of which He alone is the judge. Motive seems to constitute right and wrong.

Commander T. A. Craven, USS Tuscarora, reported that CSS Sumter, Commander Semmes, had been abandoned at Gibraltar. Tuscarora had closely blockaded Sumter in port. The Confederate Congress expressed thanks “to Captain Raphael Semmes and the officers and crew of the steamer Sumter, under his command, for gallant and meritorious services rendered by them in seriously injuring the enemy’s commerce upon the high seas, thereby setting an example reflecting honor upon our infant Navy which can not be too highly appreciated by Congress and the people of the Confederate States.” In her spectacular though abbreviated career, Sumter captured 18 vessels and dealt Union shipping a heavy blow. “Well,” Semmes remarked, “we have done the country some service, having cost the United States at least $1,000,000 in one way or another.”

Secretary of the Navy Welles wrote President Lincoln: ”It is of the greatest importance that the exportation of anthracite coal from ports of the United States to any and all foreign ports should be absolutely prohibited. The rebels obtain the coal for their steamers from Nassau and Havana, and the fact that it burns without smoke enables them to approach blockaded ports with greater security, as all other coals throw out so much smoke as to render their presence visible a great distance at sea.

13 USS Tyler, Lieutenant Gwin, and USS Lexington, Lieutenant Shirk, convoyed Army troops from Shiloh (Pittsburg Landing) to Chickasaw, Alabama. The expedition destroyed a bridge at Bear Creek, Alabama, used by the Memphis and Charleston Railroad.

Coast Survey party under Ferdinand H. Gerdes, began surveying the Mississippi River below Forts Jackson and St. Philip. Harassed by fire from the forts and riflemen on the river banks, Gerdes’ party worked for five days to provide Flag Officer Farragut with a reliable map of the river, forts, water batteries, and the obstruction across the river.

Lieutenant Eaton of USS Beauregard demanded the surrender of the Confederate garrison at Fort Brooke, Tampa Bay, Florida. His demands were refused and Eaton shelled the fort before withdrawing.

14 Union mortar boats of Flag Officer Foote’s force commenced regular bombardment of Fort Pillow, Tennessee the next Army-Navy objective on the drive down the Mississippi.

Potomac Flotilla ascended the Rappahannock River and destroyed Confederate batteries and captured three vessels.

15 USS Keystone State, Commander LeRoy, captured blockade runner Success off Georgetown, South Carolina.

16 Flag Officer Farragut, after careful planning and extensive preparations, moved his fleet up the Mississippi to a position below Forts Jackson and St. Philip, guarding the approaches to New Orleans and mounting over 100 guns. High water in the river had flooded the forts. Confederate garrisons worked night and day to control the water and strengthen the forts against the impending assault. A chain obstruction supported by hulks spanned the river. Above the forts a Confederate flotilla, Flag Officer John K. Mitchell, included the potentially powerful but uncompleted ironclad Louisiana. Most of the others were small, makeshift gunboats. There were also a number of fire rafts readied to be set adrift to flow with the current into the midst of the Union fleet. Against these combined defenses Farragut, flying his flag in USSHartford, brought seventeen ships carrying 154 guns and a squadron of 20 mortar boats under Commander D. D. Porter.

18 Confederate Congress, hoping to stem the constant sweeping of the seas and inland waters by the Union fleets, passed an act authorizing contracts for the purchase of not more than six ironclads to be paid for in cotton.

Union mortar boats, Commander D. D. Porter, began a five day bombardment of Fort Jackson. Moored some 3,000 yards from Fort Jackson, they concentrated their heavy shells, up to 285 pounds, for six days and nights on this nearest fort from which they were hidden by intervening woods. The garrison heroically endured the fire and stuck to their guns.

19 Mortar schooner USS Maria J. Canton, Acting Master Charles E. Jack, bombarding Fort Jack­son, was sunk by Confederate fire. Commander Bell observed that the Confederate guns were being worked “beautifully and with effect.”

USS Huron, Lieutenant John Downes, captured schooner Glide loaded with cotton, rice, and flour off Charleston.

20 USS Itasca, Lieutenant Caldwell, and USS Pinola, Lieutenant Crosby, under direction of Commander Bell, breached the obstructions below Forts Jackson and St. Philip under heavy fire, opening the way for Flag Officer Farragut’s fleet. Brigadier General Johnson K. Duncan, CSA, commanding the forts, complained that the River Defense Fleet had sent no fire rafts down “to light up the river or distract the attention of the enemy at night” and had stationed no ship below to warn of the approach of Itasca and Pinola. This lack of coordination proved most costly to the Confederacy.

Lieutenant Wyman, commanding Potomac Flotilla, reported the capture of Eureka, Monterey, Lookout, Sarah Ann, Sydney Jones, Reindeer, Falcon, Sea Flower, and Roundout at the mouth of the Rappahannock River.

21 Flag Officer Farragut explained the delay in the attack on New Orleans: “We have been bombard­ing the forts for three or four days, but the current is running so strong that we cannot stem it sufficiently to do anything with our ships, so that lam now waiting a change of wind, which brings a slacker tide, and we shall be enabled to run up…. Captain Bell went last night to cut the chain across the river. I never felt such anxiety in my life as I did until his return. One of his vessels got on shore, and I was fearful she would be captured. They kept up a tremendous fire on him; but Porter diverted their fire with a heavy cannonade. They let the chain go, but the man sent to explode the petard did not succeed; his wires broke. Bell would have burned the hulks, but the illumination would have given the enemy a chance to destroy his gunboat, which got aground. However, the chain was divided, and it gives us space enough to go through.”

USS Tyler, Lieutenant Gwin, captured steamer Alfred Robb on the Tennessee River.

22 Two boats from USS Arthur, Acting Lieutenant Kittredge, captured a schooner and two sloops at Aransas Pass, Texas, but were forced to abandon the prizes and their own boats when attacked by Confederate vessels and troops.

23 Brigadier General Duncan, the commander of Fort Jackson, wrote General Lovell in New Orleans: “Heavy and continued bombardment all night, and still progressing. No further casualties, except two men slightly wounded. God is certainly protecting us. We are still cheerful, and have an abiding faith in our ultimate success. We are making repairs as best we can. Our barbette guns are still in working order. Most of them have been disabled at times. The health of the troops continues good. Twenty-five thousand [actually about five thousand] XIII-inch shells have been fired by the enemy, thousands of which fell in the fort. They must soon exhaust themselves; if not, we can stand it as long as they can.

23-24 Expedition commanded by Lieutenant Flusser, including USS Lockwood, Whitehead, and Putnam, blocked the mouth of Albemarle and Chesapeake Canal, near Elizabeth City, North Carolina, sinking a schooner and other obstructions inside the canal.

24 Flag Officer Farragut’s fleet ran past Forts Jackson and St. Philip and engaged the defending Con­federate flotilla. At 2:00 a.m., USS Hartford had shown Farragut’s signal for the fleet to get underway in three divisions to steam through the breach in the obstructions which had been opened by USS Pinola and Itasca. A withering fire from the forts was answered by roaring broadsides from the ships. Hartford, grounded in the swift current near Fort St. Philip, was set afire by a Confederate fireraft. Farragut’s leadership and the disciplined training of the crew saved the flagship. USS Varuna was rammed by two Confederate ships and sunk In the ensuing melee, CSS Warrior, Stonewall Jackson, General Lovell, and Breckinridge, tender Phoenix, steamers Star and Belle Algerine, and Louisiana gunboat General Quitman were destroyed. The armored ram CSS Manassas was driven ashore by USS Mississippi and sunk. Steam tenders CSS Landis and W. Burton surrendered; Resolute and Governor Moore were destroyed to prevent capture. ”The destruction of the Navy at New Orleans,” wrote Confederate Secretary of the Navy Mallory, “was a sad, sad blow…. When the Union Navy passed the forts and disposed of the Confederate forces afloat, the fate of New Orleans was decided. Farragut had achieved a brilliant victory, one which gave true meaning to the Flag Officer’s own words: “The great man in our country must not only plan but execute.

CSS Nashville made a successful run into Wilmington with 60,000 stand of arms and 40 tons of powder.

25 Flag Officer Farragut’s fleet, having silenced Confederate batteries at Chalmette en route, anchored before New Orleans. High water in the river allowed the ships’ guns to dominate the city over the levee top. Captain Bailey went ashore to demand the surrender. The Common Council of New Orleans resolved that: “…. having been advised by the military authorities that the city is indefensible, [we] declare that no resistance will be made to the forces of the United States.” Loss of New Orleans, the largest and wealthiest seaport in the South, was a critical blow to the Confederacy. With the rapid capitulation of Forts Jackson and St. Philip, the delta of the Mis­sissippi was open to the water-borne movement of Union forces which were free to steam river to join those coming south in the great pincer which would sever the Confederacy. “Thus, reported Secretary of the Navy Welles, ”the great southern depot of the trade of the immense central valley of the Union was once more opened to commercial intercourse and the emporium of that wealthy region was restored to national authority; the mouth of the Mississippi was under our control and an outlet for the great West to the ocean was secured.”

CSS Mississippi, launched on 19 April and described by Confederate naval officers as “the strongest…. most formidable war vessel that had ever been built,” was destroyed by fire at New Orleans to prevent her capture by the Union fleet. Had the Tredegar Iron Works, Richmond, completed her shaft on time, Mississippi might have been readied to throw her weight into the defense of New Orleans.

Commander Charles H. McBlair, CSN, notified the Confederate Navy Department that as a result of the passage of the forts below New Orleans by Flag Officer Farragut’s fleet that he intended to take the unfinished ram CSS Arkansas, building at Memphis, up the Yazoo River to be completed. McBlair also reported that arrangements had been made to destroy the Tennessee on the stocks to prevent her capture if Memphis fell. In June Arkansas was moved down the Yazoo to Liverpool Landing where a raft across the river and shore batteries protected the ram from the Federal gunboats while work went forward on her.

USS Maratanza, Commander George H. Scott, began shelling Gloucester and Yorktown, Virginia, in support of General McClellan’s Peninsular Campaign.

USS Katahdin, Lieutenant George Preble, captured schooner John Gilpin below New Orleans.

USS Santiago de Cuba, Commander Ridgely, captured blockade runner Ella Warley at sea 120 miles off Port Royal.

26 Flag Officer Farragut, from flagship USS Hartford, issued a general order after his victory at New Orleans: “Eleven o’clock this morning is the hour appointed for all the officers and crews of the fleet to return thanks to Almighty God for His great goodness and mercy in permitting us to pass through the events of the last two days with so little loss of life and blood. At that hour the church pennant will be hoisted on every vessel of the fleet, and their crews assembled will, in humiliation and prayer, make their acknowledgments therefore to the great dispenser of all human events.

Fort Macon, North Carolina, surrendered to combined land-sea forces under Commander Lock­wood and Brigadier General John G. Parke. USS Daylight, State of Georgia, Chippewa, and Gemsbok heavily bombarded the fort; blockade runners Alliance and Gondar were captured after the fort’s surrender.

USS Onward, Acting Lieutenant J. Frederick Nickels, forced schooner Chase aground on Raccoon Keys near Cape Romain, South Carolina, and subsequently destroyed her.

USS Flambeau, Lieutenant John H. Upshur, captured blockade runner Active near Stono Inlet, South Carolina.

USS Santiago de Cuba, Commander Ridgely, captured schooner Mersey off Charleston.

USS Uncas, Acting Master Lemuel G. Crane, captured schooner Belle off Charleston.

27 Fort Livingston, Bastian Bay, Louisiana, surrendered to the Navy Boat crew from USS Kittatinny raised the United States flag over the fort.

USS Mercedita, Commander Stellwagen, captured steamer Bermuda northeast of Abaco with large a cargo of arms shipped from Liverpool.

USS Wamsutta, Lieutenant Alexander A. Semmes, and USS Potomska, Acting Lieutenant Pendleton G. Watmough, exchanged fire with dismounted Confederate cavalry concealed in woods on Woodville Island, Riceboro River, Georgia.

28 Forts Jackson and St. Philip, isolated since being passed by Flag Officer Farragut’s fleet and the fall of New Orleans, surrendered to the Navy; the terms of capitulation were signed on board USS Harriet Lane, Commander D. D. Porter’s flagship. CSS Louisiana, Defiance, and McRae were destroyed to prevent their capture.

Steamer Oreto (CSS Florida) arrived at Nassau, British West Indies.

29 Expedition under Lieutenant Alexander C. Rhind in USS E. B. Hale landed and destroyed Confederate battery at Grimball’s, Dawho River, South Carolina, and exchanged fire with field pieces near Slann’s Bluff.

Gunboat USS Kanawha, Lieutenant Febiger, captured blockade running British sloop Annie between Ship Island and Mobile, bound for Havana with a cargo of cotton.

30 USS Santiago de Cuba, Commander Ridgely, captured schooner Maria off Port Royal.

MAY 1862

1 USS Hatteras, Commander Emmons, captured schooner Magnolia near Berwick Bay, Louisiana, with a cargo of cotton.

USS Jamestown, Commander Green, captured British blockade runner Intended off the coast of North Carolina with a cargo of salt, coffee, and medicines.

USS Huron, Lieutenant Downes, captured schooner Albert off Charleston.

Schooner Sarah ran aground at Bull’s Bay, South Carolina, and was destroyed by her own crew to prevent capture by USS Onward, Acting Lieutenant Nickels.

USS Marblehead, Lieutenant Somerville Nicholson, shelled the Confederate positions at Yorktown.

2 USS Restless, Acting Lieutenant Conroy, captured British blockade runner Flash off the coast of South Carolina.

3 USS R. R. Cuyler, Lieutenant F. Winslow, captured schooner Jane off Tampa Bay, Florida, with a cargo including pig lead.

4 USS Corwin, Lieutenant Thomas S. Phelps, captured schooner Director and launch marked “US brig Dolphin ” in York River near Gloucester Point; guard boat General Scott and sloop Champion, both loaded with Confederate Army stores, were burned to prevent capture.

Boat crew from USS Wachusett, Commander W. Smith, raised United States flag at Gloucester Point, Virginia, after General McClellan’s troops occupied Yorktown; two Confederate schooners were captured.

USS Calhoun, Lieutenant Joseph E. DeHaven, captured sloop Charles Henry off St. Joseph, Loui-siana, and raised the United States flag over Fort Pike, which had been evacuated.

Lieutenant English, commanding USS Somerset, reported the capture of steamer Circassian between Havana and Matanzas.

Union forces at Ragged Island burned schooner Beauregard, laden with coal for CSS Virginia.

5 President Lincoln, with Secretaries Stanton and Chase on board, proceeded to Hampton Roads on steamer Miami to personally direct the stalled Peninsular Campaign. The following day, Lincoln informed Flag Officer L. M. Goldsborough: “I shall be found either at General Wool’s [Fort Monroe] or on board the Miami.” The President directed gunboat operations in the James River and the bombardment of Sewell’s Point by the blockading squadron in the five days he acted as Commander-in-Chief in the field.

USS Calhoun, Lieutenant DeHaven, captured schooner Rover with a cargo of brick in Lake Pont-chartrain, Louisiana.

Boat from USS Coru, Lieutenant T. S. Phelps, captured sloop Water Witch, abandoned the Previous day by Confederates above Gloucester Point, Virginia.

6 USS Calhoun, Lieutenant DeHaven, captured steamer Whiteman in Lake Pontchartrain.

USS Ottawa, Lieutenant J. Blakeley Creighton, captured schooner General C. C. Pinckney off Charleston.

7 USS Wachusett, Commander W. Smith, USS Chocura, and Sebago escorted Army transports up the York River, supported the landing at West Point, Virginia, and countered a Confederate attack with accurate gunfire. USS Currituck, Acting Master William F. Shankland, sent on a reconnaissance of the Pamunkey River by Smith on the 6th, captured American Coaster and Planter the next day. Shankland reported that some twenty schooners had been sunk and two gunboats burned by the Confederates above West Point.

8 USS Monitor, Dacotah, Naugatuck, Seminole, and Susquehanna by direction of the President”-shelled Confederate batteries at Sewell’s Point, Virginia, as Flag Officer L. M. Goldsborough reported, ”mainly with the view of ascertaining the practicability of landing a body of troops thereabouts” to move on Norfolk. Whatever rumors President Lincoln had received about Confederates abandoning Norfolk were now confirmed; a tug deserted from Norfolk and brought news that the evacuation was well underway and that CSS Virginia, with her accompanying small gunboats, planned to proceed up the James or York River. It was planned that when Virginia came out, as she had on the 7th, the Union fleet would retire with USS Monitor in the rear hoping to draw the powerful but under-engined warship into deep water where she might be rammed by high speed steamers. The bombardment uncovered reduced but considerable strength at Sewell’s Point. Virginia came out but not far enough to be rammed. Two days later President Lincoln wrote Flag Officer Goldsborough: “I send you this copy of your report of yesterday for the purpose of saying to you in writing that you are quite right in supposing the movement made by you and therein reported was made in accordance with my wishes verbally expressed to you in advance. I avail myself of the occasion to thank you for your courtesy and all your conduct, so far as known to me, during my brief visit here.” President Lincoln, acting as Commander-in-Chief in the field at Hampton Roads, also directed Flag Officer Goldsborough: “If you have tolerable confidence that you can successfully contend with the Merrimack without the help of the Galena and two accompanying gunboats, send the Galena and two gunboats up the James River at once” to support General McClellan. This wise use of power afloat by the President silenced two shore batteries and forced gunboats CSS Jamestown and Patrick Henry to return up the James River.

Landing party from USS Iroquois, Commander James S. Palmer, seized arsenal and took pos-session of Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

9 Captain Davis assumed temporary command of the Western Flotilla, relieving Flag Officer Foote who was failing from the wound suffered at Fort Donelson. Foote had made a series of major contributions toward reopening the “Father of Waters.” In the words of Admiral Mahan: ”Over the birth and early efforts of that little fleet he had presided; upon his shoulders had fallen the burden of anxiety and unremitting labor which the early days of the war, when all had to be created, everywhere entailed. He was repaid, for under him its early glories were achieved and its reputation established.”

President Lincoln himself, after talking to pilots and studying charts, reconnoitered to the east-ward of Sewell’s Point and found a suitably unfortified landing site near Willoughby Point. The troops embarked in transports that night. The next morning they landed near the site selected by the President. The latter, still afloat, from his “command ship” Miami ordered USS Monitor to reconnoiter Sewell’s Point to learn if the batteries were still manned. When he found the works abandoned, President Lincoln ordered Major-General Wool’s troops to march on Norfolk, where they arrived late on the afternoon of the 10th.

10 Norfolk Navy Yard set afire before being evacuated by Confederate forces in a general withdrawal up the peninsula to defend Richmond. Union troops under Major-General Wool crossed Hampton Roads from Fort Monroe, landed at Ocean View, and captured Norfolk.

Pensacola reoccupied by Union Army and Navy forces. Military installations in the area, includ-ing the Navy Yard, Forts Barrancas and McRee, CSS Fulton, and an ironclad building on the Escambia River, were destroyed by the Confederates the preceding day before withdrawing. Commander D. D. Porter reported to Secretary of the Navy Welles: “The rebels had done their work completely. The yard is a ruin. Abandonment of the important Pensacola coastal area had been in preparation by the Confederates for months after Flag Officer Foote’s stunning suc-cesses on the upper Mississippi made redeployment of guns and troops necessary. Flag Officer Farragut’s momentous victory at New Orleans precipitated the final evacuation. Colonel Thomas M. Jones, CSA, commanding at Pensacola, reported: “On receiving information that the enemy’s gunboats had succeeded in passing the forts below New Orleans with their pow-erful batteries and splendid equipments, I came to the conclusion that, with my limited means of defense, reduced, as I have been by the withdrawal of nearly all my heavy guns and ammunition, I could not hold them in check or make even a respectable show of resistance.”

Confederate River Defense Fleet CSS General Bragg, General Sumter, General Sterling Price, General Earl Van Dorn, General M. Jeff Thompson, General Lovell, General Beauregard, and Little Rebel–made a spirited attack on Union gunboats and mortar flotilla at Plum Point Bend, Tennessee. The Confed-erate fleet, Captain James E. Montgomery, attacked Mortar Boat No. 16, stationed just above Fort Pillow and engaged in bombarding the works. USS Cincinnati, Commander Stembel, coming to the mortar boat’s defense, was rammed by Bragg and sank on a bar in eleven feet of water. Van Dorn rammed USS Mound City, Commander Kilty, forcing her to run aground to avoid sinking. The draft of the Confederate vessels would not permit them to press the attack into the shoal water in which the Union squadron steamed, and, having sustained various but minor injuries, Montgomery withdrew under the guns of Fort Pillow. Cincinnati and Mound City were quickly repaired and returned to service.

USS Unadilla, Lieutenant Collins, captured schooner Mary Teresa attempting to run the blockade at Charleston.

Ironclad steamer USS New Ironsides launched at Philadelphia.

11 CSS Virginia blown up by her crew off Craney Island to avoid capture. The fall of Norfolk to Union forces denied Virginia her base, and when it was discovered that she drew too much water to be brought up the James River, Flag Officer Tattnall ordered the celebrated ironclad’s destruc-tion. “Thus perished the Virginia,” Tattnall wrote, “and with her many highflown hopes of naval supremacy and success.” For the Union, the end of Virginia not only removed the formid-able threat to the large base at Fort Monroe, but gave Flag Officer Goldsborough’s fleet free passage up the James River as far as Drewry’s Bluff, a factor which was to save the Peninsular Campaign from probable disaster.
USS Bainbridge, Commander Thomas M. Brasher, captured schooner Newcastle at sea with a cargo of turpentine and cotton.

USS Kittatinny, Acting Master Charles W. Lamson, captured blockade running British schooner Julia off Southwest Pass, Mississippi River, with a cargo of cotton.

USS Hatteras, Commander Emmons, captured steamer Governor A. Mouton off Berwick Bay, Louisiana.

12 USS: Maratanza, Lieutenant Stevens, and other gunboats made a reconnaissance of Pamunkey River in support of an Army advance to the new supply base at White House, Virginia, within twenty-two miles of Richmond.

Officers and crew of CSS Virginia were ordered to report to Commander Farrand to establish a battery below Drewry’s Bluff on the left bank of the river to prevent the ascent of Union gun-boats. The battery was to be organized and commanded by Lieutenant Catesby ap R. Jones.

13 Confederate steamer Planter, with her captain ashore in Charleston, was taken out of the harbor by an entirely Negro crew under Robert Smalls and turned over to USS Onward, Acting Lieu-tenant Nickels, of the blockading Union squadron. “At 4 in the morning,” Flag Officer Du Pont reported,”…. she left her wharf close to the Government office and headquarters, with palmetto and Confederate flag flying, passed the successive forts, saluting as usual by blowing her steam whistle. After getting beyond the range of the last gun she quickly hauled down the rebel flags and hoisted a white one…. The steamer is quite a valuable acquisition to the squadron.

Du Pont added in a letter to Senator Grimes: “You should have heard his [Small’s] modest reply when I asked him what was said of the carry away of General Ripley’s barge sometime ago. He said they made a great fuss but perhaps they would make more ‘to do’ when they heard of the steamer having been brought out.

USS Iroquois, Commander Palmer, and USS Oneida, Commander S. P. Lee, occupied Natchez, Mississippi, as Flag Officer Farragut’s fleet moved steadily toward Vicksburg.

USS Bohio, Acting Master W. D. Gregory, captured schooner Deer Island in Mississippi So with a cargo of flour and rice.

Boat crew from USS Calhoun, Lieutenant DeHaven, captured Confederate gunboat Cory moored in Bayou Bonfouca, Louisiana.

14 USS Calhoun, Lieutenant DeHaven, captured schooner Venice in Lake Pontchartrain with a cargo of cotton.

15 James River Flotilla, including USS Monitor, Galena, Aroostook, Port Royal, and Naugatuck, under Commander J – Rodgers encountered obstructions sunk across the river and at close range hotly engaged sharpshooters and strong Confederate batteries, manned in part by sailors and Marines, at Drewry’s Bluff, Virginia. For his part in the ensuing action, Corporal John B. Mackie, a member of Galena’s Marine Guard, was cited for gallantry in a letter to Secretary of the Navy Welles; in Department of the Navy General Order 17, issued on 10 July 1863, Mackie was awarded the first Medal of Honor authorized a member of the Marine Corps. In the bombardment, Galena was heavily damaged but, unsupported, Rodgers penetrated the James River to within eight miles of Richmond before falling back. Rodgers stated at this time that troops were needed to take Drewry’ s Bluff in the rear. Had this been done, Richmond might well have fallen.

USS Sea Foam, Acting Master Henry E. Williams, and USS Matthew Vassar, Acting Master Hugh H. Savage, captured sloops Sarah and New Eagle off Ship Island, Mississippi, with a cargo of cotton.

16 Union naval squadron under Commander S.P. Lee in USS Oneida, advancing up the Mississippi River toward Vicksburg, shelled Grand Gulf, Mississippi.

17 Joint expedition including USS Sebago, Lieutenant Murray, and USS Currituck, Acting Master Shankland, with troops embarked on transport Seth Low, at the request of General McClellan ascended the Pamunkey River to twenty-five miles above White House. Confederates burned seventeen vessels, some loaded with coal and commissary stores. The river was so narrow at this point that the Union gunboats were compelled to return stern foremost for several miles. General McClellan reported that the ”expedition was admirably managed, and all concerned deserve great credit.”

USS Hatteras, Commander Emmons, captured sloop Poody off Vermilion Bay, Louisiana.

18 Commander S.P. Lee submitted a demand from Flag Officer Farragut and General Butler for the surrender of Vicksburg; Confederate authorities refused and a year-long land and water assault on the stronghold began. As Flag Officer Du Pont observed: “The object is to have Vicksburg and the entire possession of the river in all its length and shores.”

USS Hunchback, Acting Lieutenant Colhoun, and USS Shawsheen, Acting Master Thomas J. Woodward, captured schooner G. H. Smoot in Potecasi Creek, North Carolina.

20 Union gunboats occupied the Stono River above Cole’s Island, South Carolina, and shelled Con-federate positions there. Flag Officer Du Pont reported to Secretary of the Navy Welles: “The Unadilla, Pembina, and Ottawa, under Commander Marchand…. succeeded in entering Stono and proceeded up the river above the old Fort opposite Legareville. On their approach the barracks were fired and deserted by the enemy…. This important base of operations, the Stono, has thus been secured for further operations by the army against Charleston.

USS Whitehead, Acting Master French, captured schooner Eugenia in Bennet’s Creek, North Carolina.

21 Boat expedition from USS Hunchback, Acting Lieutenant Colhoun, and USS Whitehead, Acting Master French, captured schooner Winter Shrub in Keel’s Creek, North Carolina, with a cargo of fish.

22 USS Mount Vernon, Commander Glisson, captured steamer Constitution attempting to run the blockade at Wilmington.

USS Whitehead, Acting Master French, captured sloop Ella D off Keel’s Creek, North Carolina, with a cargo of salt.

24 USS Bienville, Commander Mullany, captured British blockade runner Stettin off Charleston.

USS Amanda, Acting Lieutenant Nathaniel Goodwin, and USS Bainbridge, Commander Brasher, captured steamer Swan west of Tortugas with a cargo of cotton and rosin.

25 Confederate gunboat under command of Captain F. N. Bonneau, guarding the bridge between James and Dixon Islands, Charleston harbor, exchanged fire with Union gunboats. Captain Bonneau claimed several hits on the gunboats.

26 Lieutenant Isaac N. Brown, CSN, ordered to take command of CSS Arkansas and “finish the vessel without regard to expenditure of men or money. Captain Lynch after inspecting the unfinished ram reported to Secretary of the Navy Mallory that: “the Arkansas is very inferior to the Merrimac[k] in every particular. The iron with which she is covered is worn and indif-ferent, taken from a railroad track, and is poorly secured to the vessel; boiler iron on stern and counter; her smoke-stack is sheet iron.” Nevertheless, with great energy to overcome shortages and difficulties of every nature, Lieutenant Brown completed Arkansas, reinforced her bulwarks with cotton bales, and mounted a formidable armament of 10 guns. Lieutenant George W. Gift, CSN, who served in the ship later recorded that “within five weeks from the day we arrived at Yazoo City, we had a man-of-war (such as she was) from almost nothing-the credit for all of which belongs to Isaac Newton Brown, the commander of the vessel.” A number of Army artillerists volunteered to act as gunners on board the ram.

USS Brooklyn, Captain T. T. Craven, and gunboats USS Kineo, Lieutenant George M. Ransom, arid USS Katahdin, Lieutenant Preble, shelled Grand Gulf, Mississippi.

USS Huron, Lieutenant Downes, captured British blockade runner Cambria off Charleston.

USS Pursuit, Acting Lieutenant Cate, captured schooner Andromeda near the coast of Cuba with a cargo of cotton.

27 USS Bienville, Commander Mullany, seized blockade running British steamer Patras off Bull’s Island, South Carolina, from Havana with a cargo of powder and arms.

USS Santiago de Cuba, Commander Ridgely, captured schooner Lucy C. Holmes off Charleston with a cargo of cotton.

28 USS State of Georgia, Commander Armstrong, and USS Victoria, Acting Master Joshua D. Warren, captured steamer Nassau near Fort Caswell, North Carolina.

Assistant Secretary of the Navy Fox wrote Senator Grimes: “I beg of you for the enduring good of the service, which you have so much at heart, to add a proviso [to the naval bill] abolishing the spirit ration and forbidding any distilled liquors being placed on board any vessel belonging to, or chartered by the U. States, excepting of course, that in the Medical Department. All insubordination, all misery, every deviltry on board ships can be traced to rum. Give the sailor double the value or more, and he will be content.” Congressional Act approved 14 July 1862 abolished the spirit ration in the Navy.

29 USS Keystone State, Commander LeRoy, captured British blockade runner Elizabeth off Charleston.

USS Bienville, Commander Mullany, captured blockade runners Providence, with a cargo of salt and cigars, Rebecca, with a cargo of salt, and La Criola, with a cargo of provisions, off Charleston.

31 Commander Rowan, commanding USS Philadelphia, reported the capture of schooner W. F. Harris in Core Sound, North Carolina.

USS Keystone State, Commander LeRoy, captured blockade running British schooner Cora off Charleston

 

June 1862

 

2 Boats from USS New London captured the yachts Comet and Algerine near New Basin, Louisiana.

 

Eleven men in two boats from USS Kingfisher undertook an expedition to obtain fresh water in the Aucilla River. They wre surprised by Confederate troops, losing two men killed and seven captured.

USS Unadilla, USS Pembina, USS E B Hale, USS Ellen and USS Henry Andrew provided naval gunfire support for Army landings on James Island, South Carolina.

4 USS Corwin, Lieutenant Thomas S. Phelps, captured schooner Director and launch marked “US brig Dolphin ” in York River near Gloucester Point; guard boat General Scott and sloop Champion, both loaded with Confederate Army stores, were burned to prevent capture.

Boat crew from USS Wachusett, Commander W. Smith, raised United States flag at Gloucester Point, Virginia, after General McClellan’s troops occupied Yorktown; two Confederate schooners were captured.

USS Calhoun, Lieutenant Joseph E. DeHaven, captured sloop Charles Henry off St. Joseph, Loui­siana, and raised the United States flag over Fort Pike, which had been evacuated.

Lieutenant English, commanding USS Somerset, reported the capture of steamer Circassian between Havana and Matanzas.

Union forces at Ragged Island burned schooner Beauregard, laden with coal for CSS Virginia.

5 President Lincoln, with Secretaries Stanton and Chase on board, proceeded to Hampton Roads on steamer Miami to personally direct the stalled Peninsular Campaign. The following day, Lincoln informed Flag Officer L. M. Goldsborough: “I shall be found either at General Wool’s [Fort Monroe] or on board the Miami.” The President directed gunboat operations in the James River and the bombardment of Sewell’s Point by the blockading squadron in the five days he acted as Commander-in-Chief in the field.

USS Calhoun, Lieutenant DeHaven, captured schooner Rover with a cargo of brick in Lake Pont­chartrain, Louisiana.

Boat from USS Coru, Lieutenant T. S. Phelps, captured sloop Water Witch, abandoned the Previous day by Confederates above Gloucester Point, Virginia.

6 USS Calhoun, Lieutenant DeHaven, captured steamer Whiteman in Lake Pontchartrain.

USS Ottawa, Lieutenant J. Blakeley Creighton, captured schooner General C. C. Pinckney off Charleston.

7 USS Wachusett, Commander W. Smith, USS Chocura, and Sebago escorted Army transports up the York River, supported the landing at West Point, Virginia, and countered a Confederate attack with accurate gunfire. USS Currituck, Acting Master William F. Shankland, sent on a reconnaissance of the Pamunkey River by Smith on the 6th, captured American Coaster and Planter the next day. Shankland reported that some twenty schooners had been sunk and two gunboats burned by the Confederates above West Point.

8 USS Monitor, Dacotah, Naugatuck, Seminole, and Susquehanna by direction of the President”-shelled Confederate batteries at Sewell’s Point, Virginia, as Flag Officer L. M. Goldsborough reported, ”mainly with the view of ascertaining the practicability of landing a body of troops thereabouts” to move on Norfolk. Whatever rumors President Lincoln had received about Confederates abandoning Norfolk were now confirmed; a tug deserted from Norfolk and brought news that the evacuation was well underway and that CSS Virginia, with her accompanying small gunboats, planned to proceed up the James or York River. It was planned that when Virginia came out, as she had on the 7th, the Union fleet would retire with USS Monitor in the rear hoping to draw the powerful but under-engined warship into deep water where she might be rammed by high speed steamers. The bombardment uncovered reduced but considerable strength at Sewell’s Point. Virginia came out but not far enough to be rammed. Two days later President Lincoln wrote Flag Officer Goldsborough: “I send you this copy of your report of yesterday for the purpose of saying to you in writing that you are quite right in supposing the movement made by you and therein reported was made in accordance with my wishes verbally expressed to you in advance. I avail myself of the occasion to thank you for your courtesy and all your conduct, so far as known to me, during my brief visit here.” President Lincoln, acting as Commander-in-Chief in the field at Hampton Roads, also directed Flag Officer Goldsborough: “If you have tolerable confidence that you can successfully contend with the Merrimack without the help of the Galena and two accompanying gunboats, send the Galena and two gunboats up the James River at once” to support General McClellan. This wise use of power afloat by the President silenced two shore batteries and forced gunboats CSS Jamestown and Patrick Henry to return up the James River.

Landing party from USS Iroquois, Commander James S. Palmer, seized arsenal and took pos­session of Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

9 Captain Davis assumed temporary command of the Western Flotilla, relieving Flag Officer Foote who was failing from the wound suffered at Fort Donelson. Foote had made a series of major contributions toward reopening the “Father of Waters.” In the words of Admiral Mahan: ”Over the birth and early efforts of that little fleet he had presided; upon his shoulders had fallen the burden of anxiety and unremitting labor which the early days of the war, when all had to be created, everywhere entailed. He was repaid, for under him its early glories were achieved and its reputation established.”

President Lincoln himself, after talking to pilots and studying charts, reconnoitered to the east­ward of Sewell’s Point and found a suitably unfortified landing site near Willoughby Point. The troops embarked in transports that night. The next morning they landed near the site selected by the President. The latter, still afloat, from his “command ship” Miami ordered USS Monitor to reconnoiter Sewell’s Point to learn if the batteries were still manned. When he found the works abandoned, President Lincoln ordered Major-General Wool’s troops to march on Norfolk, where they arrived late on the afternoon of the 10th.

10 Norfolk Navy Yard set afire before being evacuated by Confederate forces in a general withdrawal up the peninsula to defend Richmond. Union troops under Major-General Wool crossed Hampton Roads from Fort Monroe, landed at Ocean View, and captured Norfolk.

Pensacola reoccupied by Union Army and Navy forces. Military installations in the area, includ­ing the Navy Yard, Forts Barrancas and McRee, CSS Fulton, and an ironclad building on the Escambia River, were destroyed by the Confederates the preceding day before withdrawing. Commander D. D. Porter reported to Secretary of the Navy Welles: “The rebels had done their work completely. The yard is a ruin. Abandonment of the important Pensacola coastal area had been in preparation by the Confederates for months after Flag Officer Foote’s stunning suc­cesses on the upper Mississippi made redeployment of guns and troops necessary. Flag Officer Farragut’s momentous victory at New Orleans precipitated the final evacuation. Colonel Thomas M. Jones, CSA, commanding at Pensacola, reported: “On receiving information that the enemy’s gunboats had succeeded in passing the forts below New Orleans with their pow­erful batteries and splendid equipments, I came to the conclusion that, with my limited means of defense, reduced, as I have been by the withdrawal of nearly all my heavy guns and ammunition, I could not hold them in check or make even a respectable show of resistance.”

Confederate River Defense Fleet CSS General Bragg, General Sumter, General Sterling Price, General Earl Van Dorn, General M. Jeff Thompson, General Lovell, General Beauregard, and Little Rebel–made a spirited attack on Union gunboats and mortar flotilla at Plum Point Bend, Tennessee. The Confed­erate fleet, Captain James E. Montgomery, attacked Mortar Boat No. 16, stationed just above Fort Pillow and engaged in bombarding the works. USS Cincinnati, Commander Stembel, coming to the mortar boat’s defense, was rammed by Bragg and sank on a bar in eleven feet of water. Van Dorn rammed USS Mound City, Commander Kilty, forcing her to run aground to avoid sinking. The draft of the Confederate vessels would not permit them to press the attack into the shoal water in which the Union squadron steamed, and, having sustained various but minor injuries, Montgomery withdrew under the guns of Fort Pillow. Cincinnati and Mound City were quickly repaired and returned to service.

USS Unadilla, Lieutenant Collins, captured schooner Mary Teresa attempting to run the blockade at Charleston.

Ironclad steamer USS New Ironsides launched at Philadelphia.

11 CSS Virginia blown up by her crew off Craney Island to avoid capture. The fall of Norfolk to Union forces denied Virginia her base, and when it was discovered that she drew too much water to be brought up the James River, Flag Officer Tattnall ordered the celebrated ironclad’s destruc­tion. “Thus perished the Virginia,” Tattnall wrote, “and with her many highflown hopes of naval supremacy and success.” For the Union, the end of Virginia not only removed the formid­able threat to the large base at Fort Monroe, but gave Flag Officer Goldsborough’s fleet free passage up the James River as far as Drewry’s Bluff, a factor which was to save the Peninsular Campaign from probable disaster.
USS Bainbridge, Commander Thomas M. Brasher, captured schooner Newcastle at sea with a cargo of turpentine and cotton.

USS Kittatinny, Acting Master Charles W. Lamson, captured blockade running British schooner Julia off Southwest Pass, Mississippi River, with a cargo of cotton.

USS Hatteras, Commander Emmons, captured steamer Governor A. Mouton off Berwick Bay, Louisiana.

12 USS: Maratanza, Lieutenant Stevens, and other gunboats made a reconnaissance of Pamunkey River in support of an Army advance to the new supply base at White House, Virginia, within twenty-two miles of Richmond.

Officers and crew of CSS Virginia were ordered to report to Commander Farrand to establish a battery below Drewry’s Bluff on the left bank of the river to prevent the ascent of Union gun­boats. The battery was to be organized and commanded by Lieutenant Catesby ap R. Jones.

13 Confederate steamer Planter, with her captain ashore in Charleston, was taken out of the harbor by an entirely Negro crew under Robert Smalls and turned over to USS Onward, Acting Lieu-tenant Nickels, of the blockading Union squadron. “At 4 in the morning,” Flag Officer Du Pont reported,”…. she left her wharf close to the Government office and headquarters, with palmetto and Confederate flag flying, passed the successive forts, saluting as usual by blowing her steam whistle. After getting beyond the range of the last gun she quickly hauled down the rebel flags and hoisted a white one…. The steamer is quite a valuable acquisition to the squadron.

Du Pont added in a letter to Senator Grimes: “You should have heard his [Small’s] modest reply when I asked him what was said of the carry away of General Ripley’s barge sometime ago. He said they made a great fuss but perhaps they would make more ‘to do’ when they heard of the steamer having been brought out.

USS Iroquois, Commander Palmer, and USS Oneida, Commander S. P. Lee, occupied Natchez, Mississippi, as Flag Officer Farragut’s fleet moved steadily toward Vicksburg.

USS Bohio, Acting Master W. D. Gregory, captured schooner Deer Island in Mississippi So with a cargo of flour and rice.

Boat crew from USS Calhoun, Lieutenant DeHaven, captured Confederate gunboat Cory moored in Bayou Bonfouca, Louisiana.

14 USS Calhoun, Lieutenant DeHaven, captured schooner Venice in Lake Pontchartrain with a cargo of cotton.

15 James River Flotilla, including USS Monitor, Galena, Aroostook, Port Royal, and Naugatuck, under Commander J – Rodgers encountered obstructions sunk across the river and at close range hotly engaged sharpshooters and strong Confederate batteries, manned in part by sailors and Marines, at Drewry’s Bluff, Virginia. For his part in the ensuing action, Corporal John B. Mackie, a member of Galena’s Marine Guard, was cited for gallantry in a letter to Secretary of the Navy Welles; in Department of the Navy General Order 17, issued on 10 July 1863, Mackie was awarded the first Medal of Honor authorized a member of the Marine Corps. In the bombardment, Galena was heavily damaged but, unsupported, Rodgers penetrated the James River to within eight miles of Richmond before falling back. Rodgers stated at this time that troops were needed to take Drewry’ s Bluff in the rear. Had this been done, Richmond might well have fallen.

USS Sea Foam, Acting Master Henry E. Williams, and USS Matthew Vassar, Acting Master Hugh H. Savage, captured sloops Sarah and New Eagle off Ship Island, Mississippi, with a cargo of cotton.

16 Union naval squadron under Commander S.P. Lee in USS Oneida, advancing up the Mississippi River toward Vicksburg, shelled Grand Gulf, Mississippi.

17 Joint expedition including USS Sebago, Lieutenant Murray, and USS Currituck, Acting Master Shankland, with troops embarked on transport Seth Low, at the request of General McClellan ascended the Pamunkey River to twenty-five miles above White House. Confederates burned seventeen vessels, some loaded with coal and commissary stores. The river was so narrow at this point that the Union gunboats were compelled to return stern foremost for several miles. General McClellan reported that the ”expedition was admirably managed, and all concerned deserve great credit.”

USS Hatteras, Commander Emmons, captured sloop Poody off Vermilion Bay, Louisiana.

18 Commander S.P. Lee submitted a demand from Flag Officer Farragut and General Butler for the surrender of Vicksburg; Confederate authorities refused and a year-long land and water assault on the stronghold began. As Flag Officer Du Pont observed: “The object is to have Vicksburg and the entire possession of the river in all its length and shores.”

USS Hunchback, Acting Lieutenant Colhoun, and USS Shawsheen, Acting Master Thomas J. Woodward, captured schooner G. H. Smoot in Potecasi Creek, North Carolina.

20 Union gunboats occupied the Stono River above Cole’s Island, South Carolina, and shelled Con­federate positions there. Flag Officer Du Pont reported to Secretary of the Navy Welles: “The Unadilla, Pembina, and Ottawa, under Commander Marchand…. succeeded in entering Stono and proceeded up the river above the old Fort opposite Legareville. On their approach the barracks were fired and deserted by the enemy…. This important base of operations, the Stono, has thus been secured for further operations by the army against Charleston.

USS Whitehead, Acting Master French, captured schooner Eugenia in Bennet’s Creek, North Carolina.

21 Boat expedition from USS Hunchback, Acting Lieutenant Colhoun, and USS Whitehead, Acting Master French, captured schooner Winter Shrub in Keel’s Creek, North Carolina, with a cargo of fish.

22 USS Mount Vernon, Commander Glisson, captured steamer Constitution attempting to run the blockade at Wilmington.

USS Whitehead, Acting Master French, captured sloop Ella D off Keel’s Creek, North Carolina, with a cargo of salt.

24 USS Bienville, Commander Mullany, captured British blockade runner Stettin off Charleston.

USS Amanda, Acting Lieutenant Nathaniel Goodwin, and USS Bainbridge, Commander Brasher, captured steamer Swan west of Tortugas with a cargo of cotton and rosin.

25 Confederate gunboat under command of Captain F. N. Bonneau, guarding the bridge between James and Dixon Islands, Charleston harbor, exchanged fire with Union gunboats. Captain Bonneau claimed several hits on the gunboats.

26 Lieutenant Isaac N. Brown, CSN, ordered to take command of CSS Arkansas and “finish the vessel without regard to expenditure of men or money. Captain Lynch after inspecting the unfinished ram reported to Secretary of the Navy Mallory that: “the Arkansas is very inferior to the Merrimac[k] in every particular. The iron with which she is covered is worn and indif­ferent, taken from a railroad track, and is poorly secured to the vessel; boiler iron on stern and counter; her smoke-stack is sheet iron.” Nevertheless, with great energy to overcome shortages and difficulties of every nature, Lieutenant Brown completed Arkansas, reinforced her bulwarks with cotton bales, and mounted a formidable armament of 10 guns. Lieutenant George W. Gift, CSN, who served in the ship later recorded that “within five weeks from the day we arrived at Yazoo City, we had a man-of-war (such as she was) from almost nothing-the credit for all of which belongs to Isaac Newton Brown, the commander of the vessel.” A number of Army artillerists volunteered to act as gunners on board the ram.

USS Brooklyn, Captain T. T. Craven, and gunboats USS Kineo, Lieutenant George M. Ransom, arid USS Katahdin, Lieutenant Preble, shelled Grand Gulf, Mississippi.

USS Huron, Lieutenant Downes, captured British blockade runner Cambria off Charleston.

USS Pursuit, Acting Lieutenant Cate, captured schooner Andromeda near the coast of Cuba with a cargo of cotton.

27 USS Bienville, Commander Mullany, seized blockade running British steamer Patras off Bull’s Island, South Carolina, from Havana with a cargo of powder and arms.

USS Santiago de Cuba, Commander Ridgely, captured schooner Lucy C. Holmes off Charleston with a cargo of cotton.

28 USS State of Georgia, Commander Armstrong, and USS Victoria, Acting Master Joshua D. Warren, captured steamer Nassau near Fort Caswell, North Carolina.

Assistant Secretary of the Navy Fox wrote Senator Grimes: “I beg of you for the enduring good of the service, which you have so much at heart, to add a proviso [to the naval bill] abolishing the spirit ration and forbidding any distilled liquors being placed on board any vessel belonging to, or chartered by the U. States, excepting of course, that in the Medical Department. All insubordination, all misery, every deviltry on board ships can be traced to rum. Give the sailor double the value or more, and he will be content.” Congressional Act approved 14 July 1862 abolished the spirit ration in the Navy.

29 USS Keystone State, Commander LeRoy, captured British blockade runner Elizabeth off Charleston.

USS Bienville, Commander Mullany, captured blockade runners Providence, with a cargo of salt and cigars, Rebecca, with a cargo of salt, and La Criola, with a cargo of provisions, off Charleston.

31 Commander Rowan, commanding USS Philadelphia, reported the capture of schooner W. F. Harris in Core Sound, North Carolina.

USS Keystone State, Commander LeRoy, captured blockade running British schooner Cora off Charleston.

 

 

JULY 1862 has duplication of May 1862 and June 1862

 

JULY 1862 SAME AS May and June 1862

1 The Western Flotilla of Flag Officer Davis joined the fleet of Flag Officer Farragut above Vicks-burg. Farragut wrote: “The iron-clads are curious looking things to us salt-water gentlemen; but no doubt they are better calculated for this river than our ships…. They look like great turtles. Davis came on board…. We have made the circuit (since we met at Port Royal) around half the United States and met on the Mississippi.” The meeting of the fresh-water and salt-water squadrons had considerable psychological value throughout the North, but it did not imply control over the river so long as the Gibraltar-like fortress of Vicksburg remained unsubdued. In a military sense this temporary joining of the squadrons pointed up the necessity for the arduous, year-long amphibious campaign which was necessary to capture Vicksburg.

President Lincoln recommended to the Congress that Flag Officer Foote be given a vote of thanks for his efforts on the western waters. The President knew well the import of the defeats dealt the Confederacy by the gunboats on the upper Mississippi. He recognized that Foote’s forces had cleared the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers, and had succeeded in splitting the Confederacy as far as Vicksburg on the Father of Waters.

USS De Soto, Captain W. M. Walker, captured British schooner William attempting to run the blockade at Sabine Pass, Texas.

1-2 Flag Officer L. M. Goldsborough’s fleet covered the withdrawal of General McClellan’s army after a furious battle with Confederate forces under General Robert E. Lee at Malvern Hill. Dependent on the Navy for his movement to Harrison’s Landing, chosen by McClellan at Com-modore J. Rodgers recommendation because it was so situated that gunboats could protect both flanks of his army, the General acknowledged the decisive role played by the Navy in enabling his troops to withdraw with a minimum loss: “Commodore Rodgers placed his gunboats so as to protect our flanks and to command the approaches from Richmond…. During the whole battle Commodore Rodgers added greatly to the discomfiture of the enemy by throwing shell among his reserve and advancing columns.” The Washington National Intelligencer of 7 July described the gunboats’ part in the action at Malvern Hill: “About five o’clock in the after-noon the gunboats Galena, Aroostook, and Jacob Bell opened from Turkey Island Bend, in the James River, with shot and shell from their immense guns. The previous roar of field artillery seemed as faint as the rattle of musketry in comparison with these monsters of ordnance that literally shook the water and strained the air…. They fired about three times a minute, frequently a broadside at a time, and the immense hull of the Galena careened as she delivered her complement of iron and flame. The fire went on…. making music to the ears of our tired men…. Confederate] ranks seemed slow to close up when the naval thunder had torn them apart…. During the engagement at White Oak Swamp, too, the Intelligencer reported, the gunboats “are entitled to the most unbounded credit. They came into action just at the right time, and did first rate service.” The Navy continued to safeguard the supply line until the Army of the Potomac was evacuated to northern Virginia in August, bringing to a close the unsuccessful Peninsular Campaign.

2 USS Western World, Acting Master Samuel B. Gregory, captured blockade running British schooner Volante in Winyah Bay, South Carolina, with a cargo of salt and fish.

3 USS Quaker City, Commander Frailey, captured blockade running British brig Lilla off Hole-in-the-Wall, Virginia.

USS Hatteras, Commander Emmons, captured schooner Sarah bound for Sabine Pass, Texas, with a cargo of sugar and molasses.

4 USS Maratanza, Lieutenant Stevens, engaged CSS Teaser, Lieutenant Davidson, at Haxall’s on the James River. Teaser was abandoned and captured after a shell from Maratanza exploded her boiler. In addition to placing mines in the river, Davidson had gone down the river with a balloon on board for the purpose of making an aerial reconnaissance of General McClellan’s positions at City Point and Harrison’s Landing. By this time both Union and Confederate forces were utilizing the balloon for gathering intelligence; Teaser had been the Southern counterpart of USS G. W. Parke Custis, from whose deck aerial observations had been made the preceding year. The balloon, as well as a quantity of insulated wire and mine equipment, were found on board Teaser. Six shells with ”peculiar fuzes” were also taken and sent to Captain Dahlgren at the Washington Navy Yard for examination.

Commander J. Rodgers reported to Flag Officer L. M. Goldsborough on the stationing of the gunboats supporting the Army’s position at Harrison’s Landing: “It is now too late, I hope, for the enemy to attack the army here with any chance of success. The troops are in good spirits and everyone seems confident.” Major-General McClellan advised President Lincoln that “Captain Rodgers is doing all in his power in the kindest and most efficient manner.” General Robert E. Lee came to the same conclusion in a letter to Confederate President Davis: ”The enemy is strongly posted in the neck formed by Herring creek and James River…. The enemy’s batteries occupy the ridge along which the Charles City road runs, north to the creek, and his gunboats lying below the mouth of the creek sweep the ground in front of his batteries Above his encamp-ments which lie on the river, his gunboats also extend; where the ground is more favorable to be searched by their cannon. As far as I can now see there is no way to attack him to advantage; nor do I wish to expose the men to the destructive missiles of his gunboats…. I fear he is too secure under cover of his boats to be driven from his position.

USS Rhode Island, Commander Trenchard, captured blockade running British schooner R. O. Bryan off the coast of Texas.

5 Act to reorganize the US Navy Department increased the number of Bureaus to eight: Yards and Docks, Equipment and Recruiting, Navigation, Ordnance, Construction and Repair, Steam Engineering, Provisions and Clothing, Medicine and Surgery. This act, and other far-reaching measures were guided through Congress by Senator Grimes of Iowa, who had an outstanding appreciation of sea power.

USS Hatteras, Commander Emmons, captured sloop Elizabeth off the Louisiana coast.

6 Commodore Wilkes ordered to command James River Flotilla as a division of the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron, Flag Officer L. M. Goldsborough. Secretary of the Navy Welles’ instructions to Wilkes stated: “You will immediately place yourself in communication with Major-General McClellan, Commanding the Army of the Potomac, near Harrison’s Landing…. It will be your special duty to keep open the navigation of James River and afford protection to all vessels trans-porting troops or supplies, and generally to cooperate with the army in all military movements.

7 Commander J. Rodgers reported to Flag Officer L. M. Goldsborough on the convoying of Army transports on James River: There is to be a convoy of gunboats each day from Harrison’s Bar to near the mouth of the Chickahominy, going and returning each day. As there was no better reason for the time than the arrival and departure of the mail from Old Point, it was agreed that at 9 a.m. all the transportation down should sail, convoyed by gunboats-I had selected four for it. And at 3 p.m. all the army transportation to this point should come up, convoyed by the same force.” Convoy and cover of supply ships by the gunboats were indispensable to General McClel-lan’s army.

USS Tahoma, Lieutenant John C. Howell, captured schooner Uncle Mose off Yucatan Bank, Mexico, with a cargo of cotton.

USS Quaker City, Commander Frailey, in company with USS Huntsville, captured blockade running British steamer Adela off the Bahama Islands.

Boats from USS Flag, Commander James H. Strong, and USS Restless, Acting Lieutenant Conroy, captured British blockade runner Emilie in Bull’s Bay, South Carolina.

President Lincoln and military party departed Washington on board USS Arid to visit General McClellan with the Army of the Potomac at Harrison’s Landing, Virginia.

9 General Robert E. Lee wrote President Davis, advising him of the Confederate troops’ inability to move against the Union forces on the James River because of the presence of the Navy gunboats: “After a thorough reconnaissance of the position taken up by the enemy on James River, I found him strongly posted and effectually flanked by his Gunboats…. I caused field batteries to play on his forces, and on his transports, from points on the river below. But they were too light to accomplish much, and were always attacked with superior force by the Gunboats..

USS Commodore Pen, Lieutenant Flusser, USS Shawsheen, Acting Master Woodward, and USS Ceres, Acting Master John MacDiarmid, embarked on an expedition up Roanoke River and landed a field piece and force of soldiers and sailors at Hamilton, North Carolina, where steamer Wilson was captured.

USS Arthur, Acting Lieutenant Kittredge, captured schooner Reindeer with a cargo of cotton near Aransas Pass, Texas.

10 Flag Officer Du Pont, learning of the action at Malvern Hill, wrote: “The Mississippi, [Army] transport passed us this morning. We boarded her and got papers to the 5th. The captain of the transport told the boarding officer that McClellan’s army would have been annihilated but for the gunboats.” Continual Confederate concern about the gunboats was noted by a British Army observer, Colonel Garnet J. Wolseley, who wrote that he “noted with some interest the superstitious dread of gunboats which possessed the Southern soldiers. These vessels of war, even when they have been comparatively harmless had several times been the means of saving northern armies.

USS Arthur, Acting Lieutenant Kittredge, captured sloop Belle Italia at Aransas Pass, and schooner Monte Christo was burned by Confederates at Lamar, Texas, to prevent her falling into Union hands.

11 President Lincoln, demonstrating his appreciation of the role sea power had played thus far in the Civil War, recommended to the Congress that votes of thanks be given to Captains Lardner, Davis, and Stringham, and to Commanders Dahlgren, D.D. Porter, and Rowan.

Congress passed an act for the relief of relatives of the officers and men who died on board USS Cumberland and Congress when CSS Virginia destroyed those vessels and threatened to break the blockade of Norfolk four months before.

12 USS Mercedita, Commander Stellwagen, captured blockade running schooners Victoria and Ida off Hole-in-the-Wall, Abaco, Bahamas, the former laden with cotton, the latter with general cargo, including cloth, shoes, needles and salt.

13 Commodore Wilkes reported operations of the James River Flotilla to Secretary of the Navy Welles: “The Army transports are daily convoyed up and down by the gunboats, besides having others stationed off the principal salient points where the rebels have come down to fire at our vessels passing. They almost daily make some attempts to annoy these unarmed boats, but seldom venture to do anything. I believe it is in my power to keep the river open effectually….
I found…. a necessity of active and prompt measures to bring the flotilla into operation, as the duties on the river require, and the effective protection of the two flanks of the army…. I would ask the Assistant Secretary’s attention to the subject of torpedoes, and also barbed rockets that will enter wood and be the means of firing any bridges or other works of wood. If we had some Congreve rockets, they would prove effective in driving the sharpshooters out of the woods.”

14 Congress passed an act stating that: “…. the spirit ration in the Navy of the United States shall forever cease, and…. no distilled spiritous liquors shall be admitted on board vessels of war, except as medical stores…. there shall be allowed and paid to each person in the Navy now entitled to the ration, five cents per day in commutation and lieu thereof, which shall be in addition to their present pay.” Assistant Secretary of the Navy Fox and officers generally held that it was in the Navy’s best interest to abolish the spirit ration.

15 USS Carondelet, Commander Walke, USS Tyler, Lieutenant Gwin, and ram Queen of the West, carrying Army sharp shooters on reconnaissance of the Yazoo River, engaged Confederate ironclad ram Arkansas, Lieutenant Isaac N. Brown. In a severe fight as Union ships withdrew, Arkansas partially disabled Carondelet and Tyler. Entering the Mississippi, Arkansas ran through fire from the Union fleet to refuge under the Vicksburg batteries in a heavily damaged condition and with many casualties. Farragut’s fleet pursued Arkansas, but, as the Flag Officer reported, “it was so dark by the time we reached the town that nothing could be seen except the flashes of the guns.” In the heavy cannonade as Farragut’s ships continued down river below Vicks-burg, USS Winona, Lieutenant Edward T. Nichols, and USS Sumter, Lieutenant Henry Erben, were substantially damaged. The daring sortie of Arkansas emphatically underscored the need to reduce Vicksburg. Major-General Ear] Van Dorn, CSA, said that Lieutenant Brown had ”immortalized his single vessel, himself, and the heroes under his command, by an achievement, the most brilliant ever recorded in naval annals.” Secretary Mallory added: “Naval history records few deeds of greater heroism or higher professional ability than this achievement of the Arkansas.” Lieutenant Brown was promoted to Commander, and the Confederate Congress later expressed thanks to Brown and his men “for their signal exhibition of skill and gallantry…. in the brilliant and successful engagement of the sloop of war Arkansas with the enemy’s fleet.”

16 David Glasgow Farragut, in recognition of his victory at New Orleans, promoted to Rear Admiral, the first officer to hold that rank in the history of the US Navy.

The measure passed by Congress which created the rank of Rear Admiral also revamped the exist-ing rank structure to include Commodore and Lieutenant-Commander and established the number of Rear Admirals at 9; Commodores, 18; Captains, 36; Commanders, 72; and the remainder through Ensign at 144 each. The act provided that ”The three senior rear admirals [Farragut, L. M. Goldsborough, and Du Pont] shall wear a square blue flag at the mainmast head; the next three at the foremast head, and all others at the mizzen.” Rear Admirals were to rank with Major-Generals in the Army.

Congress approved a bill transferring “the western gunboat fleet constructed by the War Depart-ment for operations on the western waters” to the Navy Department. Actual enactment of the measure took place on 1 October 1862.

Commander Woodhull, USS Cimarron, reported from Harrison’s Landing: “I have placed my vessel, as directed, on the extreme right flank of the army; so also the other gunboats under my charge, as will give us full command of the open country beyond the line.”

USS Huntsville, Acting Lieutenant William C. Rogers, seized blockade running British schooner Agnes off Abaco with a cargo of cotton and rosin.

17 Congress passed an act which established that “every officer, seaman, or marine, disabled in the line of duty, shall be intitled to receive for life, or during his disability, a pension from the United States, according to the nature and degree of his disability, not exceeding in any case his monthly pay.”

17-18 Twenty Marines from USS Potomac participated in an expedition up Pascagoula Rivet, Mississippi. Under First Lieutenant George W. Collier, the Marines, whose force was augmented by an equal number of sailors, acted with USS New London and Grey Cloud to capture or destroy a steamer and two schooners rumored to be loading with cotton, and to destroy telegraphic communications between Pascagoula and Mobile. The expedition succeeded in disrupting communications, but, pursuing the Confederate vessels upstream, it was engaged by cavalry and infantry troops and forced to turn back to care for the wounded.

18 Secretary of the Navy Welles notified Flag Officers commanding squadrons of a bill authorizing the President to appoint annually three midshipmen to the Naval Academy from the enlisted boys of the Navy. “They must be of good moral character, able to read and write well, writing from dictation and spelling with correctness, and to perform with accuracy the various operations of the primary rules of arithmetic, viz, numeration, and the addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division of whole numbers.” Each Flag Officer was requested to nominate one candidate from his command “not over 18 years of age.”

19 Naval court martial meeting in Richmond acquitted Flag Officer Tattnall with honor for ordering the destruction of CSS Virginia on 11 May after the evacuation of Norfolk. The court found that “the only alternative was to abandon and burn the ship then and there, which in the judgment of the court, was deliberately and wisely done.

21 US steamers Clara Dolsen and Rob Roy and tug Restless under Commander Alexander M. Pennock, with troops embarked, arrived from Cairo to protect Evansville, Indiana, at the request of Governor Morton. Troops were landed and retook Henderson, Kentucky, from Confederate guerrillas, several boats were burned, and the Ohio was patrolled against attack from the Kentucky side of the river. Major-General John Love wrote to Commander Pennock expressing the “gratitude with which the citizens of Indiana and of this locality will regard the prompt cooperation of yourself and your officers in this emergency, which threatened their security.” The mobility which naval control of the river gave to Union forces neutralized repeated Confederate attempts to re-establish positions in the border states.

Confederate artillery at Argyle Landing, Mississippi River, destroyed naval transport USS Sallie Woods.

USS Huntsville, Acting Lieutenant W. C. Rogers, captured steamer Reliance in Bahama Channel.

22 USS Essex, Commander W. D. Porter, and ram Queen of the West, Lieutenant Colonel Ellet, attacked CSS Arkansas, Commander I. N. Brown, at anchor with a disabled engine at Vicksburg.

Although many of his officers and crew were ashore sick and wounded after the action of 15 July, Commander Brown fought his ship gallantly. After attempting to ram, the Essex became closely engaged in cannon fire with Arkansas. Breaking off the engagement, Essex steamed through a bail of shell Past the shore batteries and joined Rear Admiral Farragut’s fleet which had re-mained below Vicksburg after passing the city on 15 July. Queen of the West rammed Arkansas but with little effect. She rejoined Flag Officer Davis’ fleet in a shattered condition. The day after repelling the attack by Essex and Queen of the West, Commander Brown defiantly steamed Arkansas up and down the river under the Vicksburg batteries. A member of Arkansas’s crew, Dabney M. Scales, described the action in a vivid letter to his father: “At 4 o’clock on the morning of the 22nd, I was awakened by the call to quarters. Hurrying to our stations, with not even a full complement of men for 3 guns; our soldiers having left just the night before; we discovered the enemy coming right down upon us…. We did not have men enough to heave the anchor up and get underway, before the enemy got to us, even if we had had steam ready. So we had to lay in to the bank, and couldn’t meet him on anything like equal terms…. The Essex came first, firing on us with her three bow guns. We replied with our two bow guns as long as they could be brought to bear, which was not a very long time, as our vessel being stationary, the enemy soon came too much on our broadside for these guns, and their crews Lad to be shifted to the broadside guns. In the meantime, the Essex ranged up alongside us, and at the distance of 20 feet poured in a broads. which crashed against our sides like nothing that I ever heard be-fore…. We were so close that our men were burnt by the powder of the enemy’s guns…. All this time the Ram [Queen of the West] was not idle, but came close down on the heels of his con-sort…. We welcomed him as warmly as we could with our scanty crew. Just before he got to us, we managed by the helm and with the aid of the starboard propellor, to turn our bow out-stream a little, which prevented him from getting a fair lick at us. As it was, he glanced round our side and ran aground just astern of us.” Meanwhile, the Confederate Secretary of War in a gen-eral order praised Arkansas’s feats of the week before: “Lieutenant Brown, and the officers and crew of the Confederate steamer Arkansas, by their heroic attack upon the Federal fleet before Vicksburg equaled the highest recorded examples of courage and skill. They proved that the Navy, when it regains its proper element, will be one of the chief bulwarks of national defense and that it is entitled to a high place in the confidence and affection of the country.

President Davis telegraphed Governor John J. Pettus of Mississippi: “Captain Brown of the Arkansas, requires boatmen, and reports himself doomed to inactivity by the inability to get them. We have a large class of river boatmen and some ordinary seamen on our Gulf Coast who must now be unemployed. Can you help Captain Brown to get an adequate crew?”

23 Assistant Secretary of the Navy Fox wrote Major-General John G. Barnard: ”Part of the mortar fleet are ordered to James River and should be there by the 1st proximo. There is no army to cooperate at Nicksburg where we have been lying two months, and the keeping open James River up to McClellan’s position is the first duty of the Navy, so we ordered twelve of the vessels there. If a fort is erected below you on the right bank of the James (and I see no obstacle) or if offensive or defensive operations are undertaken I think the mortar will not come amiss…. The iron boats are progressing…. We have forty underweight, and are putting others in hand as fast as contracts for engines shall be made. The machinery for manufacturing marine engines is limited.” The Union Navy’s rapid transformation from wood to iron doomed the Confederacy’s effort with ironclads and rams to break the noose of Federal seapower.

24 Rear Admiral Farragut’s fleet departed its station below Vicksburg, as the falling water level of the river and sickness among his ships’ crews necessitated withdrawal to Baton Rouge and New Orleans. Farragut’s return to the lower Mississippi made abundantly clear the strategic significance of Vicksburg for, although the Navy held the vast majority of the river, Confederate control of Vicksburg enabled the South to continue to get some supplies for her armies in the East from Texas, Arkansas, and Louisiana. To prevent as much of this as possible, Rear Admiral Davis and Major-General Samuel R. Curtis provided for combined Army-Navy expeditions along the banks of the Mississippi from Helena, Arkansas, to Vicksburg. Though supplies continued to move across the river, this action prevented the Confederates from maintaining and reinforcing batteries at strategic points, an important factor in the following year’s operations.

USS Quaker City, Commander Frailey, captured blockade runner Orion at Campeche Bank, south of Key West, Florida.

USS Octorara, Commander D. D. Porter, captured British blockade runner Tubal Cain east of Savannah.

25 Steamer Cuba ran the blockade into Mobile.

26 Confederates hoarded and burned schooner Louisa Reed in the James River.

27 USS Yankee, Lieutenant-Commander William Gibson, and USS Satellite, Acting Master Amos Foster, captured schooner J. W. Sturges in Chippoak Creek, Virginia.

28 USS Hatteras, Commander Emmons, captured Confederate brig Josephine off Ship Shoal, Loui-siana, en route to Havana with a cargo of cotton.

Bark Agrippina, Captain Alexander McQueen, was ordered to rendezvous in the Azores with steamer Enrica (afterwards CSS Alabama) which was to depart Liverpool pursuant to arrange-ments made by Commander Bulloch in London, for the purpose of transferring guns, ammunition, coal, and other a cargo to Alabama. Under the command of Captain Raphael Semmes, the re-nowned Confederate cruiser Alabama ravaged the seas, dealing serious damage to Union commerce.

29 USS Mount Vernon, Commander Glisson, and USS Mystic, Lieutenant-Commander Arnold, captured blockade running British brig Napier near Wilmington.

Writing of Union reverses in the East, which he ascribed to the deception of Northern commanders by false reports of the size of Confederate armies, Rear Admiral Farragut stated: “The officers say I don’t believe anything. I certainly believe very little that comes in the shape of reports I mean to be whipped or to whip my enemy, and not be scared to death.”

31 USS Magnolia, Acting Lieutenant W. Budd, captured British steamer Memphis off Cape Romain with large a cargo of cotton and rosin. She had run the blockade out of Charleston on 26 July.

31-1 Confederate batteries at Coggins’ Point took Union forces under fire on the James River between Harrison’s Landing and Shirley, Virginia, sinking two Army transports. USS Cimarron, Com-mander Woodhull, immediately opened counter fire on the battery. Praising Gunner’s Mate John Merrert who, although extremely ill and awaiting transfer to a hospital, bravely manned his station in the main magazine, Commander Woodhull wrote: “Merrett is an old man-of-warsman; his discipline, courage, and patriotism would not brook inaction when his ship was in actual battle. His conduct, I humbly think, was a great example to all lovers of the country and its cause…. it is the act of a fine speciman of the old Navy tar.” This mutual respect between the naval officer and the long service enlisted man enabled the Navy to maintain its tone through-out the Civil War despite expansion.

USS Hatteras, Commander Emmons, captured sloop Poody off Vermilion Bay, Louisiana.

18 Commander S.P. Lee submitted a demand from Flag Officer Farragut and General Butler for the surrender of Vicksburg; Confederate authorities refused and a year-long land and water assault on the stronghold began. As Flag Officer Du Pont observed: “The object is to have Vicksburg and the entire possession of the river in all its length and shores.”

USS Hunchback, Acting Lieutenant Colhoun, and USS Shawsheen, Acting Master Thomas J. Woodward, captured schooner G. H. Smoot in Potecasi Creek, North Carolina.

20 Union gunboats occupied the Stono River above Cole’s Island, South Carolina, and shelled Con-federate positions there. Flag Officer Du Pont reported to Secretary of the Navy Welles: “The Unadilla, Pembina, and Ottawa, under Commander Marchand…. succeeded in entering Stono and proceeded up the river above the old Fort opposite Legareville. On their approach the barracks were fired and deserted by the enemy…. This important base of operations, the Stono, has thus been secured for further operations by the army against Charleston.

USS Whitehead, Acting Master French, captured schooner Eugenia in Bennet’s Creek, North Carolina.

21 Boat expedition from USS Hunchback, Acting Lieutenant Colhoun, and USS Whitehead, Acting Master French, captured schooner Winter Shrub in Keel’s Creek, North Carolina, with a cargo of fish.

22 USS Mount Vernon, Commander Glisson, captured steamer Constitution attempting to run the blockade at Wilmington.

USS Whitehead, Acting Master French, captured sloop Ella D off Keel’s Creek, North Carolina, with a cargo of salt.

24 USS Bienville, Commander Mullany, captured British blockade runner Stettin off Charleston.

USS Amanda, Acting Lieutenant Nathaniel Goodwin, and USS Bainbridge, Commander Brasher, captured steamer Swan west of Tortugas with a cargo of cotton and rosin.

25 Confederate gunboat under command of Captain F. N. Bonneau, guarding the bridge between James and Dixon Islands, Charleston harbor, exchanged fire with Union gunboats. Captain Bonneau claimed several hits on the gunboats.

26 Lieutenant Isaac N. Brown, CSN, ordered to take command of CSS Arkansas and “finish the vessel without regard to expenditure of men or money. Captain Lynch after inspecting the unfinished ram reported to Secretary of the Navy Mallory that: “the Arkansas is very inferior to the Merrimac[k] in every particular. The iron with which she is covered is worn and indif-ferent, taken from a railroad track, and is poorly secured to the vessel; boiler iron on stern and counter; her smoke-stack is sheet iron.” Nevertheless, with great energy to overcome shortages and difficulties of every nature, Lieutenant Brown completed Arkansas, reinforced her bulwarks with cotton bales, and mounted a formidable armament of 10 guns. Lieutenant George W. Gift, CSN, who served in the ship later recorded that “within five weeks from the day we arrived at Yazoo City, we had a man-of-war (such as she was) from almost nothing-the credit for all of which belongs to Isaac Newton Brown, the commander of the vessel.” A number of Army artillerists volunteered to act as gunners on board the ram.

USS Brooklyn, Captain T. T. Craven, and gunboats USS Kineo, Lieutenant George M. Ransom, arid USS Katahdin, Lieutenant Preble, shelled Grand Gulf, Mississippi.

USS Huron, Lieutenant Downes, captured British blockade runner Cambria off Charleston.

USS Pursuit, Acting Lieutenant Cate, captured schooner Andromeda near the coast of Cuba with a cargo of cotton.

27 USS Bienville, Commander Mullany, seized blockade running British steamer Patras off Bull’s Island, South Carolina, from Havana with a cargo of powder and arms.

USS Santiago de Cuba, Commander Ridgely, captured schooner Lucy C. Holmes off Charleston with a cargo of cotton.

28 USS State of Georgia, Commander Armstrong, and USS Victoria, Acting Master Joshua D. Warren, captured steamer Nassau near Fort Caswell, North Carolina.

Assistant Secretary of the Navy Fox wrote Senator Grimes: “I beg of you for the enduring good of the service, which you have so much at heart, to add a proviso [to the naval bill] abolishing the spirit ration and forbidding any distilled liquors being placed on board any vessel belonging to, or chartered by the U. States, excepting of course, that in the Medical Department. All insubordination, all misery, every deviltry on board ships can be traced to rum. Give the sailor double the value or more, and he will be content.” Congressional Act approved 14 July 1862 abolished the spirit ration in the Navy.

29 USS Keystone State, Commander LeRoy, captured British blockade runner Elizabeth off Charleston.

USS Bienville, Commander Mullany, captured blockade runners Providence, with a cargo of salt and cigars, Rebecca, with a cargo of salt, and La Criola, with a cargo of provisions, off Charleston.

31 Commander Rowan, commanding USS Philadelphia, reported the capture of schooner W. F. Harris in Core Sound, North Carolina.

USS Keystone State, Commander LeRoy, captured blockade running British schooner Cora off Charleston.

 

AUGUST 1862

1 USS Thomas Freeborn, Acting Master James L. Plunkett, captured schooner Mail in Coan River, Virginia, with a cargo including salt.

USS Penobscot, Lieutenant Clitz, captured sloop Lizzie off New Inlet, North Carolina, with a cargo including salt.

2 William H. Aspinwall, a Union merchant and long time booster of ironclads, wrote Assistant Secretary of the Navy Fox suggesting an innovation in weaponry to which can be traced the modern torpedo: “I have been thinking for some time about the probability that a properly shaped cylindrical shot fired 6 or 8 feet under water will be the next improvement on iron clad vessels. At short range great effect could be attained below the iron plating…. I have the plan for firing a gun projecting 6 or 8 or 10 feet below the water line of a vessel, which I think would work well, if it is found that shot can be relied on to do the intended injury under water. ”

CSS Florida, Lieutenant Maffitt, about to take to sea from Nassau, was released by the Admiralty Court after having been seized by H.M.S. Greyhound.

3 USS Santiago de Cuba, Commander Ridgely, seized blockade runner Columbia north of Abaco with a cargo of arms.

4 USS Unadilla, Lieutenant Collins, captured British steamer Lodona attempting to run the block-ade at Hell Gate, Georgia.

USS Huron, Lieutenant Downes, seized schooner Aquilla near Charleston with a cargo of tur-pentine.

5 Assistant Secretary of the Navy Fox observed that: ”The Richmond Engineer [Enquirer] said that the first federal [army] officer meeting a navy officer at James River after McClellan’s ‘strategic move’ [withdrawing from Malvern Hill to Harrison’s Landing] threw his arms around his neck and said ‘Oh my dear Sir, we ought to have a gunboat in every family!’

6 CSS Arkansas, Lieutenant Henry Stevens temporarily in command, having become unmanage-able due to engine failure while advancing to support a Confederate attack on Baton Rouge, was engaged by USS Essex, Commander W. D. Porter. Lieutenant Stevens recognized his helpless condition, shotted his guns, and ordered Arkansas destroyed to prevent her capture. He reported: “It was beautiful to see her, when abandoned by Commander and crew, and dedicated to sacrifice, fighting the battle on her own hook.” Without naval support and under fire from USS Sumter, Cayuga, Kineo, and Katahdin, the Confederate thrust was repelled. When the wounded and ill Commander Brown had departed Arkansas on a brief leave, he had realized that critical repairs were necessary and that his ship was not ready for combat. He ordered Stevens not to move her until his return. Nevertheless, General Van Dorn, to ensure the success of his expedition, ordered Arkansas into the fatal Baton Rouge action. Had Arkansas been fit for battle, the Confederates might have taken Baton Rouge and reopened the important Red River supply line then under Union blockade.

7 President Lincoln, with Secretaries Seward and Stanton, visited Captain Dahlgren at the Wash-ington Navy Yard for a two hour demonstration of the “Rafael” repeating cannon. Later Dahlgren took the party on board a steamer to cool off and rest.

CSS Florida departed Nassau and began her renowned career under Lieutenant Maffitt.

8 Confederate Secretary of the Navy Mallory wrote Commander Bulloch in London: “I am pleased to learn that the credit of my department stands well in England, and sensible of the great impor-tance of maintaining it. I am endeavoring to place funds to your credit, which the scarcity and very high rate of exchange render difficult. We have just paid 200 and 210 per cent for 80,072.3.9, which amount is now in the hands of John Fraser & Co. of Charleston, with orders to place the same to your credit in England.” The tightening blockade constantly constricted the Southern economy.

10 Rear Admiral Farragut reported to Secretary of the Navy Welles that he had partially destroyed Donaldsonville, Louisiana, in reprisal for the firing by guerrilla forces on steamers ”passing up and down the river.” Farragut wrote that he had ”sent a message to the inhabitants that if they did not discontinue this practice, I would destroy their town. The last time I passed up to Baton Rouge to the support of the army, I…. heard them firing upon the vessels coming up, first upon the Sallie Robinson and next upon the Brooklyn. In the latter case they made a mistake, and it was so quickly returned that they ran away. The next night they fired again upon the St. Charles. I therefore ordered them to send their women and children out of the town, as I cer-tainly intended to destroy it on my way down the river, and I fulfilled my promise to a certain extent. I burned down the hotels and wharf buildings, also the dwelling houses and other buildings of a Mr. Phillippe Landry, who is said to be a captain of guerrillas.” Though Farragut had no taste for devastating private property, he felt justified in doing so if private citizens endan-gered the lives of his men.

USS Resolute, Acting Master James C. Tole, captured schooner S.S. Jones near the Virginia coast.

11 Rear Admiral Farragut, having received his promotion, “hoisted my flag at the main.” His general order to the fleet on this date ascribed the promotion to ”the gallantry of the officers and men of the fleet…. [and] your Admiral feels assured that you will never disappoint these high expectations. A new field is now opening before you. To your ordinary duties is added the contest with the elements. Let it he your pride to show the world that danger has no greater terror for you in one form than in another; that you are as ready to meet the enemy in the one shape as in the other, and that you, with your wooden vessels, have never been alarmed by fire rafts, torpedoes, chain booms, ironclad rams, ironclad gunboats, or forts. The same Great Power preserves you in the presence of all.”

12 USS Arthur, Acting Lieutenant Kittredge, captured armed schooner Breaker at Aransas Pass, Texas. Confederate schooner Elma and sloop Hannah were burned at Corpus Christi to prevent their capture by Arthur.

13 Rear Admiral Du Pont wrote Assistant Secretary of the Navy Fox on the subject of Confederate rams and ironclads at Savannah and Charleston: “The Savannah one, not at all the Fingal, is more of a floating battery, doubtless with 10 inch guns (8 of them) but she has a list, leaks, and has not power to go against stream. She may be used to cover vessels running the blockade by putting herself between them and the Forts if entering Savannah River…. The Charleston vessels are not yet ready and I hope are progressing slowly, one is simply an ironclad, size of Pembina—the other more of a ram.” Because of the power which CSS Virginia had promised and demon-strated, the Confederacy made every effort to ready other ironclads to strike against the blockad-ing forces. However, lack of critical material and industrial facilities prevented the South from mounting a truly serious threat. On the Savannah River, ironclad rams Georgia and Atlanta were launched, but both were too slow and drew too much water to he fully effective. Atlanta showed herself to Du Pont’s squadron on 31 July, when she steamed down the river toward Fort Pulaski and returned to Savannah. Some six months later, Master H. Beverly Littlepage, CSN, wrote Lieutenant Catesby ap R. Jones of her: “We are still at anchor in the river between Fort Jackson and the first obstructions, only a few hundred yards from the Georgia. I understand it is the inten-tion of the commodore [Tattnall] that the Atlanta shall he moored as near the stern of the Georgia as she can get so that by springing her either of her broadsides may be made to bear on the obstructions in the event of the anticipated attack. I think I can safely affirm that the Atlanta will never go outside of the obstructions again or, at least for some time…. There is no ventilation below at all, and I think it will be impossible for us to live on her in the summer….I would venture to say that if a person were blindfolded and carried below and then turned loose he would imagine himself in a swamp, for the water is trickling in all the time and everything is so damp.” CSS Georgia, for want of adequate engines, was used as a floating battery. The ironclads concerning Du Pont at Charleston were CSS Palmetto State, a ram, and gunboat CSS Chicora. Palmetto State’s keel had been laid in January under Flag Officer Duncan N. Ingraham. Two months later Chicora’s keel was laid-in the rear of the Charleston post office-under the direction of James M. Eason, who built two additional ironclads at Charleston, CSS Charleston (whose keel was laid in December 1862) and CSS Columbia, which was not completed before the fall of Charleston. Lieutenant James H. Rochelle, who commanded Palmetto State late in the war, described the vessels: ”The iron-clads were…. slow vessels with imperfect engines, which required frequent repairing…. Their armor was four inches thick, and they were all of the type of the Virginia…. Each of the iron-clads carried a torpedo fitted to the end of a spar some 15 or 20 feet long, projecting from the bow on a line with the keel, and so arranged that it could be carried either triced up clear of the water or submerged five or six feet below the surface.

Every night one or more of the iron-clads anchored in the channel near Sumter for the purpose of resisting a night attack on Sumter or a dash into the harbor by the Federal vessels.” Of Columbia Rochelle wrote: ”She had a thickness of six inches of iron on her casemate, and was otherwise superior to the other iron- clads. Unfortunately, the Columbia was bilged in consequence of the ignorance, carelessness or treachery of her pilot, and rendered no service whatever.” For all their defects, the Charleston vessels, particularly Palmetto State and Chicora, did in a measure, as naval constructor John L. Porter forecast in a 20 June 1862 letter to Eason, ”afford great protection to the harbor of Charleston when completed.”

USS Kensington, Acting Master Crocker, seized schooner Troy off Sabine Pass, Texas, with a cargo of cotton.

14 USS Pocahontas, Lieutenant George B. Balch, and steam tug Treaty, Acting Lieutenant Baxter, on an expedition up the Black River from Georgetown, South Carolina, exchanged fire with Confederate troops at close range along both banks of the river for a distance of 20 miles in an unsuccessful attempt to capture steamer Nina.

15 Commodore Wilkes, commanding James River Flotilla, ordered USS Galena, Commander J. Rodgers, USS Port Royal, and USS Satellite to cover the withdrawal of the left wing of General McClellan’s army from Harrison’s Landing over the Chickahominy. Rodgers was directed to “communicate with General Pleasonton and inform him that you are to cover his cavalry force until such time as the services of the gunboats may no longer be useful to him.”

Confederate steamer A. B. (or A. Bee), aground at the entrance of the Nueces River near Corpus Christi, was burned to avoid capture by USS Arthur, Acting Lieutenant Kittredge.

16 Naval forces under Lieutenant-Commander S. L. Phelps, including USS Mound City, Benton, and General Bragg, and rams Monarch, Samson, Lioness, and Switzerland, under Colonel Ellet, con-voyed and covered Army troops under Colonel Charles R. Woods in a joint expedition up the Mis-sissippi from Helena as far as the Yazoo River. The force was landed at various points en route, capturing steamer Fairplay above Vicksburg, with large a cargo of arms, and dispersing Confederate troop encampments. The joint expedition also destroyed a newly erected Confederate battery about 20 miles up the Yazoo River.

Confederate Secretary of the Navy Mallory wrote of the desperate need of iron for the South’s ships: “The want of iron is severely felt throughout the Confederacy, and the means of increasing its production demand, in my judgment, the prompt consideration of Congress. The Government has outstanding contracts amounting to millions of dollars, but the iron is not forthcoming to meet the increasing public wants. Scrap iron of all classes is being industriously collected by agents of the Government, and we are now rolling railroad iron into plates for covering ships…. ” Chronic lack of iron drastically restricted Confederate ship construction, and eventually weighed heavily in the final decision. As Commander Maury had written: ”Our necessities cry out for a Navy in war; and when peace comes, it will profit us but little to be afluent and free, if we are continually liable to be pillaged by all…. the breadth of our plantations and the value of our staples will be of small advantage if the others may have the mastery in our own waters.” Weak-ness in naval power made the Confederate supply problems insurmountable.

16-18 Union naval force, comprising USS Sachem, Reindeer, Belle Italia, and yacht Corypheus, under command of Acting Lieutenant Kittredge, bombarded Corpus Christi. On 18 August a landing party of sailors from Belle Italia, supported by ships’ gunfire, attempted to seize a Confederate battery but was driven back by a cavalry force. Lieutenant Kittredge was captured while ashore on 14 September. Confederate General H. P. Bee characterized Kittredge as ”an honorable enemy and a “bold and energetic leader.” Lacking troop strength to occupy and hold Corpus Christi, Sabine City or Galveston, Rear Admiral Farragut’s ships nonetheless effectively controlled the Texas coast and pinned down Confederate forces which were vitally needed elsewhere.

17 Joint landing party from USS Ellis, Master Benjamin H. Porter, and Army boats destroyed Confederate salt works, battery, and barracks near Swansboro, North Carolina. This constant attack from the sea destroyed the South’s resources and drained her strength.

18 Secretary of the Navy Welles wrote Commodore Wilkes: ”Our naval operations in James River have, from the time you were placed in command of the flotilla, depended almost entirely on army movements; and notwithstanding the army has left your vicinity, your future action and the orders you may receive will, for a time at least, and in a great degree, be controlled by develop-ments elsewhere.”

Secretary of the Navy Welles, regarding the right of search, instructed squadron and cruiser commanders: ”Some recent occurrences in the capture of vessels, and matters pertaining to the blockade, render it necessary that there should be a recapitulation of the instructions hereto-fore…. given…. It is essential, in the remarkable contest now waging, that we should exer-cise great forbearance, with great firmness, and manifest to the world that it is the intention of our Government, while asserting and maintaining our own rights, to respect and scrupulously regard the right of others…. You are specially informed that the fact that a suspicious vessel has been indicated to you…. does not in any way authorize you to depart from the practice of the rules of visitation, search, and capture prescribed by the law of nations.”

19 Captain John A. Winslow of USS St. Louis reported the burning by Confederates of Union steamer Swallow, aground below Memphis.

21 Rear Admiral Farragut commented on the intervention of foreign powers in the Civil War: “I don’t believe it, and, if it does come, you will find the United States not so easy a nut to crack as they imagine. We have no dread of ‘rams’ or ‘he-goats,’ and, if our Editors had less, the coun-try would be better off. Now they scare everybody to death.”

USS Bienville, Commander Mullany, captured British blockade runner Eliza, bound from Nassau to Shallotte Inlet, North Carolina.

22 Secretary of the Navy Welles ordered Rear Admiral L. M. Goldsborough, commanding North Atlantic Blockading Squadron, to “assist the army, as far as you may be able, in embarking the troops at Fortress Monroe and Newport News, as desired by Major-General Halleck.” The withdrawal northward of the Army of the Potomac by water transport brought to a close the Peninsular Campaign.

Rear Admiral Farragut instructed Lieutenant-Commander Philip C. Johnson, commanding USS Tennessee, that “you will stop at Pilot Town [Louisiana] and bring Lieutenant McClain Tilton and the Marine guard, together with all the stores you can [to the Pensacola Navy Yard].” Earlier in the year the Marines had garrisoned the town.

USS Keystone State, Commander Le Roy, captured British schooner Fanny with a cargo of salt, near St. Simon’s Sound, Georgia.

23 USS Adirondack, Captain Guert Gansevoort, ran on a reef outside Man of War Cay, Little Baha-mas, and was abandoned after efforts to save her failed.

USS Bienville, Commander Mullany, seized British blockade runner Louisa off Cape Romain, South Carolina.

USS James S. Chambers, Acting Master D. Frank Mosman, seized schooner Corelia off the coast of Cuba.

23-24 Boat crew from USS Essex, Captain W. D. Porter, was fired upon by Confederate guerrillas at Bayou Sara, Louisiana. Essex shelled the town.

24 Raphael Semmes took command of CSS Alabama at sea off the island of Terceira, Azores. Of Alabama, Semmes said, “She was indeed a beautiful thing to look upon.” As Semmes finished reading his orders promoting him to Captain and appointing him to command Alabama, the Con-federate ensign replaced the English colors at the mast head, a gun was fired, and ‘The air was rent by a deafening cheer from officers and men. The band, at the same time, playing Dixie.” Thus, the celebrated raider was christened to begin her storied two year career.

USS Isaac N. Seymour, Acting Master Francis S. Wells, ran aground and sank in Neuse River, North Carolina.

USS Henry Andrew, Lieutenant Arthur S. Gardner, wrecked after grounding during a heavy gale 15 miles south of Cape Henry, Virginia.

USS Stars and Stripes, Lieutenant McCook, captured British ship Mary Elizabeth, attempting to run the blockade into Wilmington with a cargo of salt and fruit.

US yacht Corypheus, tender to USS Arthur, Acting Lieutenant Kittredge, captured schooner Water Witch off Aransas Bay, Texas.

25 Typical log entry (this of USS Benton) describing the relentless naval operations on the western waters: “At 7 [a.m.] sent a boat ashore, which destroyed seven skiffs and one batteau. At 11:40 came to at Bolivar Landing [Mississippi]. At 11:45 General Woods landing troops; opened fire upon the enemy. We opened fire with our bow and starboard guns in protecting the landing of the troops…. fired a number of shots in direction of the rebel force.”

26 Captain Franklin Buchanan promoted to Admiral in the Confederate Navy “for gallant and meri-torious conduct in attacking the enemy’s fleet in Hampton Roads and destroying the frigate Con-gress, sloop of war Cumberland…. whilst in command of the squadron in the waters of Virginia on the 8th of March, 1862.”

Confederate steamer Yorktown, running the blockade from Mobile to Havana, sprung a leak and foundered at sea off Ship Island with a cargo of cotton.

27 USS South Carolina, Commander John J. Almy, destroyed abandoned schooner Patriot, aground near Mosquito Inlet, Florida.

USS Santiago de Cuba, Commander Ridgely, captured blockade runner Lavinia north of Abaco with a cargo of turpentine.

29 USS Pittsburg, Lieutenant Thompson, escorted steamers White Cloud and latan with Army troops embarked to Eunice, Arkansas. The gunboat shelled and dispersed Confederate forces from a camp above Carson’s Landing on the Mississippi shore. Landing the troops under cover of Pittsburg’s guns for reconnaissance missions en route, Lieutenant Thompson at Eunice seized a large wharf boat, fitted out as a floating hotel. This type of persistent patrolling of the Missis-sippi and tributaries by the Union Navy in support of Army operations was instrumental in preventing the Confederates from establishing firm positions.

The James River Flotilla having carried out its mission in support of General McClellan’s army, the Navy Department ordered Commodore Wilkes to turn the ships over to Rear Admiral L. M. Goldsborough and to proceed to Washington to assume command of the Potomac Flotilla.

30 USS Passaic launched at Greenpoint, New York. A newspaper reporter observed: “A fleet of monsters has been created, volcanoes in a nutshell, breathing under water, fighting under shelter, steered with mirrors, driven by vapor, running anywhere, retreating from nothing. These floating carriages bear immense ordnance, perfected by new processes, and easily worked by new and simple devices.

USS R. R. Cuyler, Acting Master Simeon N. Freeman, captured schooner Anne Sophia at sea east of Jacksonville.

31 US transport W. B. Terry, Master Leonard G. Klinck, carrying a cargo of coal for Union gunboats, ran aground at Duck River Shoals, Tennessee River, and was captured by Confederate troops.

USS William G. Anderson, Acting Master D’Oyley, seized schooner Lily off Louisiana with a cargo of gun powder.

 

SEPTEMBER 1862

1 CSS Florida, Lieutenant Maffitt, put into Havana after suffering a yellow fever epidemic on board which was fatal to several crew members.

Rear Admiral S.P. Lee relieved Rear Admiral L.M. Goldsborough as Commander, North Atlantic Blockading Squadron.

2 USS Restless, Acting Lieutenant Conroy, captured sloop John Thompson off South Carolina with a cargo of turpentine.

3 USS Essex, Commodore W. D. Porter, in pursuit of CSS Webb, had a landing party fired on at Natchez, Mississippi, from which Union forces had withdrawn on 25 July. Essex bombarded the town for an hour, after which the mayor “unconditionally surrendered” the city to Porter.

4 First session of the Naval Investigating Committee of the Confederate Congress was held in Richmond to examine Secretary Mallory’s administration of naval affairs and the causes of the Southern disaster at New Orleans. The final report of the committee was favorable to Mallory.

CSS Florida, Lieutenant Maffitt, ran the blockade into Mobile Bay. Many of the crew were suffering from yellow fever and Maffitt determined to make the bold dash into Mobile. Running past the broadside of USS Oneida, Commander Preble, Florida also evaded USS Winona and Rachel Seaman before coming to anchor under the guns of Fort Morgan in a much damaged condi-tion. This Florida incident brought forth orders for stricter enforcement of the blockade.

USSWilliam G. Anderson, Acting Master D’Oyley, captured schooner Theresa in the Gulf of Mexico with a cargo including salt.

USS Shepherd Knapp, Acting Lieutenant Henry S. Eytinge, captured bark Fannie Laurie off South Edisto River, South Carolina.

5 Rear Admiral Du Pont wrote Secretary of the Navy Welles, again expressing concern about reports of Confederate ironclads building at Charleston: “The ironclads or rams built at Charleston have been described to me, by intelligent persons who have seen them, as well protected by their armor, but as not formidable for offensive operations against our vessels, in consequence of their defi-ciency in steam power, it having been intended to place in them engines taken from old steamers belonging to South Carolina. If it be true that English steam engines have been provided for them, as reported to me by the Department, it becomes my duty to urge upon it the necessity of sending some iron-clad vessels of our own, to render our position off Charleston tenable. Vessels even imperfectly covered with armor emerging from the protection of forts, and always provided with a place of refuge, would be comparatively secure, while they might do great harm to wooden ships, especially of the light class which forms the chief material of this squadron. If by any possibility the blockading force off Charleston could be destroyed, or compelled to retire, it would produce a moral impression to our disadvantage even more disastrous than the actual loss itself. If it be possible to send the Ironsides to take up a position off that [Charleston] harbor, the efforts of the enemy would be completely frustrated.”

CSS Alabama, Captain Semmes, seized and burned ship Ocmulgee near the Azores, the first of many Union whalers and merchant vessels to fall prey to the feared commerce raider.

6 USS Louisiana, Acting Lieutenant Richard T. Renshaw, joined with Union troops in repelling the Confederate attack on Washington, North Carolina. Major-General John G. Foster reported that Louisiana rendered most efficient aid, throwing her shells with great precision, and clearing the streets, through which her guns had range.” US Army gunboat Picket was destroyed by an accidental magazine explosion during engagement.

7 CSS Alabama, Captain Semmes, captured and burned schooner Starlight near the Azores.

USS Essex, Commodore W.D. Porter, steamed down the Mississippi to New Orleans past Confederate batteries at Port Hudson, Louisiana. Essex was struck with heavy shot 14 times. Porter noted that the Port Hudson batteries would seriously interrupt the free navigation of the Lower Mississippi.”

8 Commodore Wilkes ordered to command a “Flying Squadron” -including USS Wachusett, Dacotah, Cimarron, Sonoma, Tioga, Octorara, and Santiago de Cuba. The squadron was originated specifically to seek out and capture commerce raiders CSS Alabama and Florida. Though the squadron seized several vessels engaged in blockade running, the two noted raiders eluded Wilkes’ force.

A landing party from USS Kingfisher destroyed salt works at St. Joseph’s Bay, Florida, that could produce some 200 bushels a day. Three days later, similar works at St. Andrew’s Bay were destroyed by a landing party from USS Sagamore.

CSS Alabama, Captain Semmes, captured and burned whaling ship Ocean Rover near the Azores.

9 CSS Alabama, Captain Semmes, captured and burned whaling ships Alert and Weather Gauge near the Azores.

11 USS Patroon, Acting Master William D. Urann, and USS Uncas, Acting Master Crane, engaged Confederate batteries at St. John’s Bluff, Florida. Uncas suffered damage, but temporarily forced the abandonment of the batteries.

12 Rear Admiral Du Pont wrote Senator Grimes of Iowa expressing his “warm appreciation of your tremendous labors in behalf of the Navy during the last session. I believe this to be emphatically the opinion of the whole service.” Grimes had strongly backed the bill creating the rank of Rear Admiral in the Navy. In reply the Senator stated: “I am in no wise deserving of the kind compliments you lavish upon me…. you know that up to my time [in Congress] it was supposed that all information in relation to your branch of the public service was confined to a select
‘guild’ about the Atlantic cities, no one from the interior having presumed to know anything about it. If I have been of any real service it has been in breaking down and eradicating that idea, in assisting to nationalize the Navy– in making the frontiersman as well as the longshoreman feel that he was interested in it and partook of its glory.”

13 CSS Alabama, Captain Semmes, seized and burned whaling ship Altamaha near the Azores.

14 CSS Alabama, Captain Semmes, seized and burned whaling ship Benjamin Tucker near the Azores.

15 Lieutenant-Commander Samuel Magaw, commander of USS Thomas Freeborn, reported the seizure and burning of schooner Arctic in Great Wicomico River, Maryland.

16 Confederate Congress passed a resolution expressing thanks to Commander Ebenezer Farrand, CSN, senior officer in command of the combined naval and military forces at Drewry’s Bluff on 15 May, “for the great and signal victory achieved over the naval forces of the United States in the engagement…. at Drewry’s Bluff;” Farrand was praised for his “gallantry, courage, and endurance in that protracted fight….” which Confederate statesmen knew could have been so disastrous to their cause.

CSS Alabama, Captain Semmes, captured and burned whaling ship Courser near the Azores.

17 Rear Admiral S.P. Lee, concerned by frequent reports as to the building by the Confederates of “Merrimack II,” again wrote Assistant Secretary of the Navy Fox asking that an ironclad be sent to Norfolk to support his forces there. “I feel the necessity,” he wrote, “of having a fast steamer convenient as to size & draft, with bow & stern strengthened, and iron plated suitable for ramming, carrying effective guns in broadside, & fitted so as to work two heavy rifled guns at each end-bow & stern-capable of throwing such projectiles as will most readily penetrate iron plating.” On 22 September Fox, sympathetic to Lee’s needs, answered: “The Ironsides will probably be with you on Wednesday [24 September]…. With the Ironsides you will feel no anxiety. She is fast, and has a terrible battery, and is a match for the whole Southern navy. If the Merrimac[k] #2 comes down I trust they will follow her up and destroy her.”

USS W. G. Anderson, Acting Master D’Oyley, seized schooner Reindeer in the Gulf of Mexico (27N, 93W) with a cargo of cotton.

CSS Alabama, Captain Semmes, captured and burned whaling ship Virginia near the Azores.

18 CSS Alabama, Captain Semmes, captured and burned whaling ship Elisha Dunbar near the Azores. ”The whaling season at the Azores being at an end,” Semmes later wrote, ”…. I resolved to change my cruising-ground, and stretch over to the Banks of New Foundland

19 Ram Queen of the West, Medical Cadet Charles R. Ellet, escorting two troop transports, had a sharp engagement with Confederate infantry and artillery above Bolivar, Mississippi.

20 Answering a letter in which Assistant Secretary of the Navy Fox had written, “We must have Charleston Rear Admiral Du Pont replied: “Do not go it half cocked about Charleston– it is a bigger job than Port Royal…. failure now at Charleston is ten times the failure elsewhere….” The same day, Du Pont wrote Senator Grimes in Iowa: “The thorn in my flesh is Charleston, they have been allowed seventeen months to prepare its defenses– and in no part of the wretched Confederacy has there been more industry, energy, and intelligent zeal, and science displayed- It is a cul de sac and resembles more a porcupine’s hide turned outside in than anything else, with no outlet- you go into a bag no running the forts as at New Orleans. We have to do what never has been done, take regular forts by gunboats this must be done, but it is no ordinary work…. One thing only oppresses us, that just in proportion to the extent of the honor and glory of the success, and the prestige gained at home and abroad so will be the deep mortification and moral injury if we fail at this wicked seat of the rebellion- hence we want quiet calm preparation of plans.” Du Pont’s estimate of the stubbornness of the Con-federate defenses at Charleston, as well as his appreciation of the probable effect on the North of a Union failure in his particular quarter proved correct. Throughout the fall of 1862 the ironclads were being built which Du Pont would command against the symbol of the Confederacy.

21 USS Albatross, Commander Henry French, captured schooner Two Sisters off the Rio Grande River.

22 Writing during a storm (“I suppose the true equinoctial gale”), Rear Admiral Farragut noted that “these are the times that try the commander of a squadron. I could not sleep last night, thinking of the blockaders. It is rough work lying off a port month in and month out…. I have 6 vessels off Mobile, so that one can always come in for coal. They are all the time breaking down and coming in for repairs.”

USS Wyandank, Acting Master John McGowan, Jr., captured schooner Southerner on Coan River, Virginia.

23 USS Alabama, Lieutenant-Commander William T. Truxtun, captured blockade running British schooner Nelly off Ossabaw Sound, Georgia, with a cargo including drugs and salt.

25 USS Kensington, Acting Master Crocker, USS Rachel Seaman, Acting Master Hooper, and mor-tar schooner Henry Janes, Acting Master Lewis Pennington, bombarded Confederate batteries at Sabine Pass, Texas. The action was broken off when the defending troops evacuated the fort, having spiked the guns. Though Sabine City surrendered to Acting Master Crocker the next day and a force under Acting Master Hooper severed communications between Sabine Pass and Taylor’s Bayou by burning the railroad bridge and seized the mails on 27 September, the expedition sent by Rear Admiral Farragut could not occupy the area because there were no troops available for that purpose. As Rear Admiral Farragut noted some three months later, “It takes too much force to hold the places for me to take any more, or my outside fleet will be too much reduced to keep up the blockade and keep the river open” – the two primary missions of the squadron.

Nevertheless, the attacks were a constant drain on the Confederates and imposed widespread dispersion of strength to protect against them anytime ships hove over the horizon.

USS Florida, Lieutenant-Commander Robert W. Scott, captured British schooner Agnes, attempt-ing to run the blockade at St. Andrew’s Sound, Georgia.

26 USS State of Georgia, Commander Armstrong, and USS Mystic, Lieutenant-Commander Arnold, chased a blockade running schooner (name unknown) ashore at New Inlet, North Carolina, and destroyed her.

Rear Admiral Du Pont sought to extend his policy of “mobile support” logistics by requesting an afloat fuel storage in the form of a coal hulk capable of holding a thousand tons and fitted out with hoisting equipment. Coal schooners from the North unloaded into this hulk and men-of-war coaled from it as needed while on station. This practice antedated the modern use of fleet oilers in furthering the fleet’s efficiency and effectiveness. Storeships, receiving ships, and machinery repair hulks were already being employed at this time at Port Royal.

27 USS Kittatinny, Acting Master Lamson, captured schooner Emma off the coast of Texas with a cargo of cotton.

28 USS State of Georgia, Commander Armstrong, and USS Mystic, Lieutenant-Commander Arnold, captured blockade running British steamer Sunbeam near New Inlet, North Carolina.

30 Assistant Secretary of the Navy Fox wrote Commodore Blake, Superintendent of the Naval Academy at Newport, regarding training at the Academy: “The seamanship is of the utmost importance, in my opinion, notwithstanding steam, and iron clads. I share the old Jack Tar feeling that a sailor can do anything, and that a man is not good for much, who is not a thorough seaman. D. D. Porter was particularly struck at seeing your boys scrubbing copper: he was always afraid they were getting too scientific, too conceited, but his experience at Newport seems to have un-deceived him.”
OCTOBER 1862

1 The Western Gunboat Fleet, brought into being by Commander J. Rodgers and Flag Officer Foote, under jurisdiction of the War Department for operations on the western waters, was transferred to the Navy Department and renamed the Mississippi Squadron. David Dixon Porter was appointed Acting Rear Admiral and ordered to relieve Rear Admiral Davis, who had commanded naval forces on the western waters since 17 June. Noting that the naming of Porter, then a Commander, would be open to criticism, Secretary of the Navy Welles observed: ”His selection will be unsatisfactory to many, but his field of operations is peculiar, and a young and active officer is required for the duty to which he is assigned.” However, Rear Admiral Foote, 55 years old when he took command, bold and indefatigable, had achieved miracles. No fleet commanders in the west achieved as much as he and Farragut, who was even five years older. Audacity and drive are born of the soul, and do not die ever in some great leaders.

2 Commodore Harwood reported the capture of sloop Thomas Reilly by USS Thomas Freeborn, Lieu-tenant Commander Magaw.

3 Responding to a request for assistance in an anticipated assault on gathering Confederate forces at Franklin, Virginia, a naval expedition under Lieutenant-Commander Flusser, comprising USS Commodore Perry, Hunchback, and Whitehead, engaged Confederate troops on the Blackwater River for six hours. The river having been obstructed, the gunboats could not reach Franklin and returned down stream as Confederate troops were felling trees in the river behind the gunboats in an attempt to “blockade the river in our rear.” Enclosing the reports of the gunboat captains, Commander Davenport, Senior Officer in the Sounds of North Carolina, wrote Rear Admiral S. P. Lee: “While I can not praise too highly the gallantry and heroism displayed by officers and men on the occa-sion, I think it extremely hazardous for our gunboats unprotected as the men are by bulwarks or any other defenses, to go on expeditions up these narrow and tortuous channels.”

A joint expedition under Commander Steedman and Brigadier General John M. Brannon engaged and captured a Confederate battery at St. John’s Bluff and occupied Jacksonville, Florida, which had been almost entirely evacuated by Southern troops. The Union forces had arrived at the mouth of the river on 1 October and, in operations through 12 October, the gunboats convoyed and supported the Army troops, forcing a general withdrawal by the Confederates. Calling Steedman’s action ”most hearty and energetic,” General Brannon reported: “The entire naval force under his command exhibited a zeal and perseverance in every instance, whether in aiding my forces to effect a landing, the ascent of St. John’s River (230 miles), or the assistance to one of my transports unfortunately injured in crossing the bar, that is deserving of all praise.” Cap-tain Godon, temporarily commanding the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron, noted at oper-ation’s end: ”We retain possession of St. John’s River as far as Jacksonville.” Amphibious assaults continued to force Confederate defenses away from the coastal areas.

CSS Alabama, Captain Semmes, captured ship Brilliant, bound from New York to Liverpool, near 400 N, 500 W. Semmes later commented that “…. her destruction must have disappointed a good many holders of bills of exchange drawn against her cargo…. for the ship alone and the freight-moneys which they lost by her destruction [came] to the amount of $93,000. The a cargo was probably even more valuable than the ship.”

Naval forces under Commander William B. Renshaw in USS Westfield, including USS Harriet Lane, Owasco, Clifton, and mortar schooner Henry Janes, bombarded and captured the defenses of the harbor and city of Galveston. Six days later, Galveston formally surrendered to Commander Renshaw. Rear Admiral Farragut reported to Secretary of the Navy Welles: I am happy to in-form you that Galveston, Corpus Christi, and Sabine City and the adjacent waters are now in our possession…. All we want, as I have told the Department in my last dispatches, is a few soldiers to hold the places, and we will soon have the whole coast.” The failure to have a sizeable effective Marine Corps to send ashore in conjunction with fleet operations reduced considerably the effectiveness of the Navy and may have lengthened the war.

4 USS Somerset, Lieutenant-Commander English, attacked Confederate salt works at Depot Key, Florida. The landing party from Somerset was augmented by a strong force from USS Tahoma, Commander John C. Howell, and the salt works were destroyed. Salt at this time was among the most critical ”strategic materials” in the Confederacy. This action at Depot Key was one of innumerable such landing and raiding operations all along the far-flung Confederate coastline which, often lacking dramatic appeal, nonetheless exacted ceaseless activity and untiring effort, and were instrumental in bringing the Confederacy to defeat.

Raiding party from USS Thomas Freeborn, Lieutenant-Commander Magaw, entered Dumfries, Virginia, and destroyed the telegraph office and wires of the line from Occoquan to Richmond via Fredericksburg.

6 USS Rachel Seaman, Acting Master Crocker, captured British schooner Dart attempting to run the blockade at Sabine Pass.

7 William Gladstone, British Chancellor of the Exchequer, remarked at a banquet in Newcastle, England, that “there is no doubt that Jefferson Davis and other leaders of the South have made an army; they are making it appears a navy; and they have made, what is more than either they have made a nation.” Upon reading of Gladstone’s statement, Assistant Secretary of the Navy Fox observed: “It is a most interesting piece of history”.

CSS Alabama, Captain Semmes, captured and burned bark Wave Crest and brig Dunkirk south-east of Nova Scotia.

Lieutenant-Commander Edward P. Williams in Army transport Darlington, with sailors and troops embarked, captured steamer Governor Milton in St. John’s River, Florida. In continuing Union operations in the river, Williams had seized the vessel- termed by Commander Steedman “one of their best boats’ ‘- which had been used in transporting guns and munitions to St. John’s Bluff.

8 Steamer Blanche, anchored off Havana, was set afire to prevent seizure by USS Montgomery, Commander C. Hunter.

CSS Alabama, Captain Semmes, captured and released on bond packet Tonawanda southeast of Nova Scotia.

11 USS Monticello, Lieutenant-Commander Braine, captured blockade running British schooner Revere off Frying Pan Shoals, North Carolina.

CSS Alabama, Captain Semmes, captured and burned Manchester southeast of Nova Scotia bound from New York to Liverpool. “The Manchester,” Semmes wrote, “brought us a batch of late New York papers…. I learned from them where all the enemy’s gun boats were, and what they were doing…. Perhaps this was the only war in which the newspapers ever explained, before-hand, all the movements of armies and fleets, to the enemy.

USS Maratanza, Commander Scott, was damaged by Confederate battery at Cape Fear River, North Carolina, and was forced to retire seaward.

12 Commander Matthew Fontaine Maury, on board blockade runner Herald, departed Charleston for England to attempt to purchase vessels for the Confederacy. Midshipman James M. Morgan, who accompanied Maury, recorded an interesting incident that demonstrated that the “Path-finder of the Seas” had lost none of his famed abilities. The captain of Herald, according to Morgan, was new to deep water sail, lost his way, and “told Commander Maury that something terrible must have happened, as he had sailed his ship directly over the spot where the Bermuda Islands ought to be.” Maury advised him to slow down till evening when he could shoot the stars. At that time, having obtained a fix, Maury gave the captain a course and speed that would raise the light at Port Hamilton about 2 o’clock in the morning. Maury and his son turned in; the rest anxiously stayed up to watch: “four bells struck and no light was in sight. Five minutes more passed and still not a sign of it; then grumbling commenced and the passengers generally agreed with the man who expressed the opinion that there was too much D…. d science on board…. at 10 minutes past 2 the masthead lookout called ‘Light Ho!’ ” Lacking funds and under close scrutiny by Union officials who immediately protested through diplomatic channels any attempts to outfit vessels for the Confederacy, Maury, like other Confederate agents, met with only limited success. Nonetheless, he did purchase and arrange for the outfitting of CSS Georgia the following spring. Maury was adamant in his opinion that the South had to pursue a policy that would bring about the existence of an effective Navy. Earlier he had written under the pseudonym of Ben Bow: “We cannot, either with cotton or with all the agricultural staples of the Confederacy put together, adopt any course which will make cotton and trade stand us as a nation in the stead of a navy.

USS Restless, Acting Lieutenant Conroy, captured blockade running schooner Elmira Cornelius off the South Carolina coast.

13 USS America, Acting Master Jonathan Baker, seized schooner David Crockett attempting to run the blockade out of Charleston with a cargo of turpentine and rosin.

14 USS Memphis, Acting Lieutenant Watmough, captured blockade running British steamer Ouachita at sea off Cape Romain, South Carolina.

15 CSS Alabama, Captain Semmes, captured and burned bark Lamplighter southeast of Nova Scotia.

Boat crew under command of Master’s Mate Edwin Janvrin of USS Rachel Seaman, and boat crew under command of Second Assistant Engineer Timothy W. O’Connor of USS Kensington, destroyed Confederate railroad bridge by fire at Taylor’s Bayou, Texas, preventing the transporta-tion of heavy artillery to Sabine Pass, and burned schooners Stonewall and Lone Star and barracks. The constant drain on the South of these unceasing attacks along her sea perimeter and up the rivers is portrayed almost daily in similar accounts. Some were quite unusual even for versatile sailors. In a river expedition during the month Lieutenant-Commander Ransom “captured 1,500 head of cattle en route for the enemy, and succeeded by great perseverance in getting them down to New Orleans.”

Boat crews from USS Fort Henry, Acting Lieutenant Edward Y. McCauley, reconnoitering Apa-lachicola River, Florida, captured sloop G.L. Brockenborough with a cargo of cotton.

20 Steamer Minho ran aground after running the blockade out of Charleston. Rear Admiral Du Pont reported that”…. it appears that she will perhaps become a wreck, as there is much water in the hold, and part of the a cargo [is] floating about in the vessel. So much of the cargo, it is stated [“by the Charleston papers”], as may be destroyed by water will be nearly a total loss.”

21 USS Louisville, Lieutenant-Commander Meade, escorted steamer Meteor, whose embarked Army troops were landed at Bledsoe’s Landing and Hamblin’s Landing, Arkansas. The towns were burned in reprisal for attacks by Confederate guerrillas on mail steamer Gladiator early in the morning, 19 October. “The people along the river bank,” Meade reported to Rear Admiral D. D. Porter, “were duly informed that every outrage by the guerrillas upon packets would be similarly dealt with.”

22 A naval battery consisting of three 12 pounder boat howitzers from USS Wabash took part in and furnished artillery support for Union infantry troops at the battle of Pocotaligo, South Carolina. One of the gun crew, who was seriously injured, was ordinary seaman Oscar W. Faren-holt, the first enlisted man in the Navy to reach flag rank. The battery from Wabash took part as artillery in amphibious operations all along the South Atlantic coast.

USS Penobscot, Commander Clitz, captured blockade running British brig Robert Bruce off Cape Fear, North Carolina.

Lieutenant William B. Cushing reported that USS Ellis captured and destroyed blockade runner Adelaide at New Topsail Inlet, North Carolina, with a cargo of turpentine, cotton, and tobacco.

23 CSS Alabama, Captain Semmes, captured and burned American bark Lafayette south of Halifax, Nova Scotia.

24 Sailors on horseback-a landing party from USS Baron De KaIb, Captain Winslow, debarked at Hopefield, Arkansas, to engage a small Confederate scouting party. Mounting horses which were procured, as Captain Winslow reported, “by impressement,” the Baron De Kalb sailors engaged in a 9 mile running fight which ended with the capture of the Confederate party.

25 Rear Admiral Du Pont again wrote Secretary of the Navy Welles of the reported building of iron-clads by the Confederacy in its attempt to break the blockade. Du Pont remarked: “The idea seemed to be to open the Savannah river, then come to Port Royal, and thence off Charleston, and raise the blockade…. I submit that the Ironsides and Passaic should be dispatched at an early day.”

26 CSS Alabama, Captain Semmes, captured and burned schoonerCrenshaw south of Halifax, Nova Scotia.

27 Boat crews from USS Flag, Lieutenant-Commander Charles C. Carpenter, captured British steamer Anglia at Bull’s Bay, South Carolina.

Rear Admiral S. P. Lee wrote Assistant Secretary of the Navy Fox regarding the difficulty of blockading the coast of North Carolina: “Our supremacy in the Sounds of N[orth] C[arolina] can…. only be maintained by iron-clads adapted to the navigation there…. The defense of the Sounds is a very important matter.

28 Party led by’ Lieutenant John Taylor Wood, CSN, boarded, captured, and fired ship Alleghanian at anchor in Chesapeake Bay off the mouth of the Rappahannock River with a cargo of guano from Baltimore for London.

CSS Alabama, Captain Semmes, captured and burned bark Lauraetta south of Halifax, Nova Scotia.

USS Montgomery, Commander C. Hunter, captured blockade running steamer Caroline near Pensacola.

USS Sagamore, Lieutenant-Commander George A. Bigelow, captured blockade running British schooner Trier off Indian River Inlet, Florida.

29 Landing party from USS Ellis, Lieutenant Cushing, destroyed large Confederate Salt works at New Topsail Inlet, North Carolina. Cushing reported that” it could have furnished all Wilming-ton with salt.”

USS Dan exchanged fire with Confederate troops near Sabine Pass; Dan shelled the town and on 30 October a party was landed under protection of the ship’s guns to burn a mill and several buildings.

CSS Alabama, Captain Semmes, seized brigantine Baron de Castine south of Nova Scotia, “The vessel being old and of little value,” Semmes reported, “I released her on a ransom bond and converted her into a cartel, sending some forty-five prisoners on board of her– the crews of the three last ships burned.”

30 Assistant Secretary of the Navy Fox wrote Edward G. Flynn regarding that man’s expressed desire to attempt capture or destruction of commerce raider 290 (CSS Alabama): “The [Navy] Department has published that it will give $500,000 for the capture and delivery to it of that vessel, or $300,000 if she is destroyed; the latter however is to be contingent upon the approval of Congress.” The concern over Alabama’s highly successful commerce raiding was attested to when Fox wrote Rear Admiral Farragut: The raid of ‘290’ [Alabama] has forced us to send out a dozen vessels in pursuit.”

USS Connecticut, Lieutenant-Commander Milton Haxtun, captured blockade running British schooner Hermosa off the mouth of the Sabine River.

USS Daylight, Acting Master Warren, captured schooner Racer between Stump Inlet and New Topsail Inlet, North Carolina, with a cargo of salt.

Rear Admiral Du Pont issued a general order which provided that, on capture of foreign vessels attempting to run the blockade, “the flag of the country to which they belong must be worn until their cases are adjudicated. The American flag will be carried at the fore to indicate that they are, for the time, under charge of United States officers.”

31 During October the Confederate Congress formalized a Torpedo Bureau in Richmond under Brigadier General Gabriel J. Rains and a Naval Submarine Battery Service under Lieutenant Hunter Davidson. The purpose was to organize and improve methods of torpedo (mine) warfare, in which Commander Matthew Fontaine Maury had pioneered. The Confederacy, of necessity, developed a variety of underwater torpedoes, for it had a long coastline with many navigable rivers to protect and slight naval strength with which to oppose the formidable Union fleet, That the efforts, while failing to lift the ceaseless pressure of the Northern naval forces, were nonetheless a serious threat was attested to at war’s end by Secretary of the Navy Welles, who observed that the torpedoes were “always formidable in harbors and internal waters, and…. have been more destructive to our naval vessels than all other means combined.”

USS Reliance, Acting Master Andrew J. Frank, captured sloop Pointer at Alexandria, Virginia. Although cleared through the Alexandria Custom House as being without cargo, Pointer was found to be carrying groceries, dry goods, and whisky.

USS Restless, Acting Lieutenant Conroy, captured sloop Susan McPherson off the coast of South Carolina.

Landing party from USS Mahaska, Commander Foxhall A. Parker, destroyed Confederate gun positions on Wormley’s Creek and at West Point, Virginia. The attack was continued on 1 November.

31 OCTOBER– 7 NOVEMBER
Naval expedition under Commander Davenport, comprising USS Hetzel, Commodore Perry, Hunchback, Valley City, and Army gunboat Vidette, opened fire on an encampment at Plymouth, North Carolina, forcing the Confederate troops there to withdraw. Davenport was subsequently ordered to meet General John G. Foster at Williamston on 3 November to support an Army assault on Hamilton, North Carolina. “It was agreed upon,” Commander Davenport reported, that we would begin our advance on Hamilton that night. At 11 a.m. [4 November], having failed as yet in receiving any signal from the army, I made general signal ‘to get underway’ and proceeded up the river. The force also included USS Seymour, which had arrived that morning. Hamilton was evacuated by the Confederates and Union troops took possession of the town. Davenport’s gunboats “proceeded a few miles farther up the river to divert the attention of the enemy, while the army continued its march to Tarboro”; Seymour was sent down river the next day (5 November) to destroy the works at Rainbow Bluff. On 7 November the Union troops, failing to reach Tarboro, returned to Hamilton, and 300 sick and wounded soldiers were placed on board the gunboats to be transported to Williamston

 

NOVEMBER 1862

1 USS Louisville, Lieutenant-Commander Meade, captured steamer Evansville in the Mississippi River above Island No. 36.

USS Thomas Freeborn, Lieutenant-Commander Magaw, captured three unnamed boats at Maryland Point, on the Potomac River; the boats were attempting to run goods across from Maryland to Virginia.

2 Rear Admiral D. D. Porter wrote Assistant Secretary of the Navy Fox seeking authority over the Ellet rams: “I am extremely anxious to get possession of Ellet’s Rams; they are the class of vessels I particularly want at this moment. The old ‘Pook Turtles’ are fit only for fighting- they cannot get along against the current without a tow…. Do settle the Ram business, and let me know by telegraph. The Commander will have to be instructed, or he will not give them up. I have notified him that I will not permit any naval organization on this River besides the Mississippi Squadron…. Fox agreed with Porter and pressed the matter with the President. On 7 November the Assistant Secretary convinced President Lincoln that the Ellet rams belonged under control of the Navy. In a White House conference with Secretary of the Navy Welles, Secretary of War Stanton, and General Halleck, Lincoln transferred all war vessels on the Mississippi to the Navy. The action provided for greater efficiency of operations on the western waters.

CSS Alabama, Captain Semmes, captured and burned whaling shipLevi Starbuck near Bermuda.

3 CSS Cotton, Lieutenant Edward W. Fuller, and shore batteries engaged USS Calhoun, Kinsman, Estrella, and Diana in Berwick Bay, Louisiana. In this close and spirited action against heavy odds, Captain Fuller caused considerable damage to the Union squadron until exhaustion of cartridges forced Cotton to retire. Captain Fuller reported that the legs of the men’s pants were cut off for use as improvised cartridge bags to fire parting shots as he withdrew.

Commander Henry K. Thatcher wrote Assistant Secretary of the Navy Fox about the Mediter-ranean cruise of historic USS Constellation and his request for additional ships on this station: “I feel a considerable degree of national pride in wishing our force here to be increased…. for the prevailing opinion here, evidently is, that our country is not sufficiently strong to admit of withdrawing another vessel from the blockade. But the paramount object is that of the efficient protection of our commerce and citizens who are engaged in commercial pursuits and to be pre-pared, should any rebel cruisers venture into the Mediterranean.”

USS Penobscot, Commander Clitz, destroyed blockade running British ship Pathfinder after forcing her aground off Shallotte Inlet, North Carolina.

4 The blockade continued to clench the Confederacy in an ever-tightening grip. Rear Admiral S.P. Lee, commanding the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron, advised Assistant Secretary of the Navy Fox: “There is no doubt that a large trade was carried on with Wilmington through Shallotte Inlet 25 miles below, & New Topsail Inlet 15 miles above Wilmington. I have shut both doors.”

USS Jacob Bell, Acting Ensign George E. McConnell, captured and burned schooner Robert Wilbur in Nomini Creek, off the Potomac River.

USS Hale, Captain Alfred T. Snell, captured pilot boat Wave and an unnamed schooner in Nassau Sound, Florida.

USS Daylight, Acting Master Warren, and USS Mount Vernon, Acting Lieutenant Trathen, forced blockade running British bark Sophia aground and destroyed her near Masonboro Inlet, North Carolina.

USS Coeur de Lion, Acting Master Charles H, Brown, with USS Teaser and schooner S.H. Poole, evacuated Union families and their property from Gwynn’s Island, Virginia.

5 USS Louisiana, Acting Lieutenant R.T. Renshaw, captured schooner Alice L. Webb at Rose Bay, North Carolina.

6 USS Teaser, Ensign Sheridan, captured sloop Grapeshot in Chesapeake Bay.

7 USS Potomska, Acting Lieutenant W. Budd, escorted Army transport Darlington up Sapelo River, Georgia. Potomska being unable to proceed far up river because of her draft, Budd trans-ferred to the Army vessel, which was engaged by Confederates at Spaulding’s. Darlington, undamaged, continued up the Sapelo to Fairhope, where a landing party destroyed salt works “and other things that might be of use to the enemy.” Taken under attack once again upon returning past Spaulding’s, Darlington put forces ashore and destroyed public property and captured arms. ‘We were greatly aided here by the Potomska,” reported Lieutenant Colonel Oliver T. Beard, “which, from a bend below, shelled the woods. Under the guns of the Potomska we landed…. I am greatly indebted to Lieutenant Budd for the success of this day.”

USS Kinsman, Acting Master George Wiggin, and steamer Seger burned steamers Osprey and J.P. Smith in Bayou Cheval, Louisiana.

8 CSS Alabama, Captain Semmes, captured and burned ship T.B. Wales southeast of Bermuda.

USS Resolute, Acting Master Tole, captured sloop Capitola at Glymont, Maryland. Capitola was carrying a cargo and passengers across to Virginia in violation of the blockade.

9 Greenville, North Carolina, surrendered to joint Army-Navy landing force under Second Assistant Engineer J. L. Lay of USS Louisiana.

10 Commander Maury, enroute to Liverpool, England, wrote his wife from Halifax, Nova Scotia, that he had arrived after a “boisterous passage of 5 days from Bermuda” in which he and his 12-year old son suffered from sea sickness. “The steamer in which we came was quite equal in dirt and all uncomfortableness to that between Calais and Dover…. This is a place of 25 or 30,000 inhabitants. They are strongly ‘secesh’ here. The Confederate flag has been flying from the top of the hotel all day, in honor, I am told ‘of our arrival’.” Hand organs ground out Dixie all day under the window; Maury, world famous as “Pathfinder of the Seas,” having run the blockade, was proceeding to England on a mission for the Confederacy.

11 USS Kensington, Acting Master Crocker, captured schooner Course off the Florida coast.

12 USS Kensington, Acting Master Crocker, captured British blockade runner Maria off the Florida coast.

14 Rear Admiral Farragut had sailed from the Mississippi River in August to base at Pensacola where his crews recuperated and repaired the ships preparatory to attacking Mobile. However, reports of growing Confederate fortifications on the river and other developments drew him back to the scene of his fame. On this date from on board USS Hartford at New Orleans he wrote Secretary of the Navy Welles: ”I am once more in the Mississippi River. I deemed that my presence here would be well, as the French admiral is here with two vessels at the city and a frigate at the bar; there is also an English corvette off the city, and we sailors understand each other better in many cases than landsmen. General Butler also informed me that he was operating very largely for his forces on the Opelousas, which was an additional reason for my entering the river. I enclose herewith Lieutenant-Commander Buchanan’s report. He is commanding the naval forces cooperating with the army in Opelousas, and has already had two fights with the enemy’s steamers and land forces. These little vessels require a sheet of boiler iron around them as a protection against musketry, when they would be able to run up the whole length of the river and catch all the boats in the branches. I called on General Butler for the purpose of ascertaining when he could give me a small force to attack Fort Gaines, and to notify him that when the Department wished it I would attack the forts and go through Mobile Bay without his assistance, but it would embarrass me very much not to have my communication open with the outside, and that with 1,000 men to menace Gaines in the rear I felt certain they would soon abandon both forts, once we got inside. He promised to assist in the operation as soon as General Weitzel returned from Opelousas, although he urges me to attack Port Hudson first, as he wishes to break up the rendezvous before we go outside. It will take at least 5,000 men to take Port Hudson. I am ready for anything, but desire troops to hold what we get. The general has really not half troops enough; he requires at least 20,000 more men to hold the places and do good service in this river and occupy Galveston, whither he proposes to send a regiment.

15 President Lincoln, with Secretaries Seward and Chase, drove to the Washington Navy Yard to view the trial of the Hyde rocket. Captain Dahlgren joined the group for the experiment. Though a defective rocket accidentally exploded, the President escaped injury.

16 USS T. A. Ward, Acting Master William L. Babcock, captured sloop G. W. Green and an unnamed seine boat at St. Jerome’s Creek, Maryland, attempting to cross to the Virginia shore with con-traband.

17 USS Kanawha, Lieutenant-Commander Febiger, and USS Kennebec, Lieutenant-Commander John H. Russell, chased a schooner ashore near Mobile where she was set afire and destroyed by her crew. Union ships prevented Confederate coast guard from boarding the vessel to extinguish the flames. Of the effectiveness of the blockade in the Gulf, Rear Admiral Farragut noted: “Blockading is hard service, and difficult to carry on with perfect success…. I don’t know how many [blockade runners escape, but we certainly make a good many prizes.

USS Cambridge, Commander W. A. Parker, forced blockade running British schooner F. W. Pindar aground at Masonboro Inlet, North Carolina, and sent boat crew to destroy the vessel. The boat swamped and the crew was captured after firing the schooner.

Assistant Secretary of the Navy Fox wrote Major-General Butler at New Orleans: “I think [General] MeClernand will be down your way near the last of December and if you and Farragut can open the Mississippi as far as Red River and block that leaky place, we shall be able with our Mississippi squadron to keep that big river open to commerce and New Orleans will rise from its lethargy.”

18 CSS Alabama, Captain Semmes, arrived at Martinique and was blockaded by USS San Jacinto Commander William Ronckendorff. In foul weather the evening of 19 November, Alabama evaded San Jacinto and escaped.

USS Monticello, Lieutenant-Commander Braine, chased blockade running British schooners Ariel and Ann Maria ashore and destroyed them near Shallotte Inlet with cargoes of salt, flour, sugar, and lard.

19 USS Wissahickon, Lieutenant-Commander John L. Davis, and USS Dawn, Acting Lieutenant John S. Barnes, engaged Fort McAllister on Ogeechee River, Georgia. Wissahickon was hit and temporarily disabled in the exchange of fire. Persistent and vigilant actions of this nature by the Union Navy pinned down Confederate manpower that could have been used in land actions else-where. Wissahickon and Dawn at this time had the mission of blockading CSS Nashville in Ossabaw Sound, Georgia, and preventing her from becoming another commerce raider like CSS Alabama.

20 USS Seneca, Lieutenant-Commander Gibson, captured schooner Annie Dees running the blockade out of Charleston with a cargo of turpentine and rosin.

USS Montgomery, Commander C. Hunter, captured sloop William E. Chester near Pensacola Bay.

Confederates at Matagorda Bay, Texas, captured boat crew from US mortar schooner Henry Janes, Acting Master Pennington. The men were ashore to procure fresh beef for the mortar schooner.

22-24 Joint Army–Navy expedition to vicinity of Mathews Court House, Virginia, under Lieutenant Farquhar and Acting Master’s Mate Nathan W. Black of USS Mahaska destroyed numerous salt works together with hundreds of bushels of salt, burned three schooners and numerous small boats, and captured 24 large canoes.

23 Landing party from USS Ellis, Lieutenant Cushing, captured arms, mail, and two schooners at Jacksonville North Carolina. While under attack from Confederate artillery, Ellis grounded on 24 November. After very effort to float the ship failed, Lieutenant Cushing ordered her set afire on 25 November to avoid capture. Cushing reported: “I fired the Ellis in five places and having seen that the battle flag was still flying, trained the gun on the enemy so that the vessel might fight herself after we had left her.”

24 Boat from USS Reliance, Acting Master William P. Dockray, captured longboat New Moon, suspected of running the blockade on the Potomac River, off Alexandria.

USS Monticello, Lieutenant-Commander Braine, destroyed two Confederate salt works near Little River Inlet, North Carolina.

USS Sagamore, Lieutenant-Commander English, captured two British blockade runners, schooner Agnes and sloop Ellen, in Indian River, Florida.

25 USS Kittatinny, Acting Master Lamson, captured British blockade runner Matilda, bound from Havana to Matamoras.

26 USS Kittatinny, Acting Master Lamson, captured schooner Diana, bound from Campeche to Matamoras.

27 Rear Admiral Farragut wrote from his flagship at New Orleans: “I am still doing nothing, but waiting for the tide of events and doing all I can to hold what I have, & blockade Mobile. So soon as the river rises, we will have Porter down from above, who now commands the upper squadron, and then I shall probably go outside…. We shall spoil unless we have a fight occasionally.”

29 In late November Captain H. A. Adams was ordered to special duty at Philadelphia as coordinator of coal supply. All coal used in the US Navy at that time was anthracite and came from the eastern district of Pennsylvania, being forwarded to Philadelphia either by rail or barge down the Schuylkill River. There it was loaded into coal schooners and sent to the various blockading squadrons. Before Captain Adams was ordered to this duty, squadron commanders had consider-able difficulty in keeping their ships supplied with coal and often had to borrow from the Army. To illustrate the amount of coal required by the squadrons, Rear Admiral Du Pont notified the Navy Department in mid-December that the consumption of coal in his South Atlantic Blockad-ing Squadron alone was approximately 950 tons a week.

USS Mount Vernon, Acting Lieutenant Trathen, captured blockade runner Levi Rowe off New Inlet, North Carolina, with a cargo of rice.

30 CSS Alabama, Captain Semmes, captured and burned bark Parker Cook off the Leeward Islands.
DECEMBER 1862

1 In his second annual report, Secretary of the Navy Welles informed President Lincoln: “We have at this time afloat or progressing to rapid completion a naval force consisting of 427 ves-sels… armed in the aggregate with 1,577 guns, and of the capacity of 240,028 tons…. The number of persons employed on board our naval vessels, including receiving ships and recruits, is about 28,000; and there are not less than 12,000 mechanics and laborers employed at the different navy yards and naval stations.”

Lieutenant Maffitt, commanding CSS Florida, wrote: “As the Alabama and Florida are the only two cruisers we have just now, it would be a perfect absurdity to tilt against their more than three hundred, for the Federals would gladly sacrifice fifty armed ships to extinguish the two Confederates.”

Rear Admiral Du Pont again remarked on the Charleston defenses and his growing forces with which to attack them in a letter to Senator Grimes: ”The rebel defenses of Charleston are still progressing– The English officers who have been in and the blockade runners whom we capture, smile at the idea of its being taken, and say it is stronger than Sebastabol but they said the same of New Orleans…. lam very glad to learn that John Rodgers and Worden [commander of USS Monitor during the engagement with CSS Virginia] were with Drayton on his last trial of the Passaic, for the more we learn of the new tools we have to use the better two rams are completed at Charleston to add to the harbor defenses but for the strong force I have off here [Port Royal], I think they would have attempted to raid across the bar.”

USS Sagamore, Lieutenant-Commander English, captured blockade running British schooner By George off Indian River, Florida, with a cargo including coffee and salt.

USSTioga, Commander Clary, captured schooner Nonsuch at Bahama Banks.

2 Confederate steamer Queen of the Bay, Captain H. Willke, CSA, sounding Corpus Christi pass, was chased by boats under Acting Ensign Alfred H. Reynolds and Master’s Mate George C. Dolliver from USS Sachem. Captain Willke ran Queen of the Bay aground on Padre Island, deployed his men, and took Union boats under fire. Reynolds, seriously wounded, was compelled to land on nearby Mustang Island and abandon his boats to the Confederates before retreating overland 30 miles to rejoin Sachem at Aransas Bay, Texas.

3 USS Cambridge, Commander W. A. Parker, captured schooner J. C. Roker off the coast of North Carolina with a cargo of salt.

USS Daylight, Acting Master Warren, captured British blockade runner Brilliant attempting to run a cargo of salt into Wilmington.

USS Cambridge, Commander W. A. Parker, captured schooner Emma Tuttle off Cape Fear.

4 USS Anacostia, Coeur de Lion, Currituck, and Jacob Bell, under Acting Master Shankland, engaged by Confederate batteries at Port Royal, Virginia. In the exchange of fire which lasted over an hour, Jacob Bell was damaged.

Rear Admiral Farragut stated: “My people are carrying on the war in various parts of the coast, & it takes all my energies to keep them supplied with provisions and coal. I have a great many irons in the fire and have to look sharp to keep some of them from burning…. We have either taken or destroyed all the steamers that run from Havanna & Nassau to this coast, except the Cuba and Alice…. I have all the coast except Mobile Bay, and am ready to take that the moment I can get troops.

5 Boats from USS Mahaska, Commander F. A. Parker, and USS General Putnam, under Lieu-tenant Elliot C. V. Blake of Mahaska, captured and destroyed “several fine boats,” a schooner and two sloops in branches of Severn River, Maryland, and brought back schooners Seven Brothers and Galena. Although the captain of Galena claimed to be a Union man, Commander Parker reported his belief that the captain was endeavoring “to carry water on both shoulders.”

CSS Alabama, Captain Semmes, captured and released on bond schooner Union off Haiti.

Lieutenant-Commander John G. Walker, USS Baron De KaIb, reported capture of steamer Lottie 30 miles above Memphis.

6 USS Diana, Acting Master Ezra Goodwin, captured steamers Southern Methodist and Naniope near Vicksburg laden with molasses and sugar.

7 CSS Alabama, Captain Semmes, captured California steamer Ariel off the coast of Cuba with 700 passengers on board, including 150 Marines and Commander Louis C. Sartori, USN.

8 President Lincoln sent a recommendation of thanks to the Congress on behalf of Commander Worden for his part as commanding officer of USS Monitor during her Hampton Roads engage-ment with CSS Virginia.

USS Daylight, Acting Master Warren, seized sloop Coquette off New Topsail Inlet, North Carolina, with a cargo of whisky, potatoes, apples, and onions,

9 Rear Admiral Bailey, on assuming command of the Eastern Gulf Blockading Squadron, stated: “The outward pressure of our Navy, in barring the enemy’s ports, crippling the power, and exhausting the resources of the States in rebellion; in depriving them of a market for their peculiar productions, and of the facilities for importing many vital requisites for the use of their Army and peoples, is slowly, surely, and unostentatiously reducing the rebellion to such straits as must result in their unconditional submission, even though our gallant Army does not achieve another victory.”

10 USS Currituck, Acting Master Thomas J. Linnekin, engaged Confederate battery on Brandywine Hill, Virginia.

USS Sagamore, Lieutenant-Commander English, captured British schooner Alicia attempting to run the blockade out of Indian River, Florida, with a cargo of cotton.

USS Southfield, Lieutenant Charles F. W. Behm, was disabled by a shot through the steam chest off Plymouth, North Carolina, while rendering close fire support to troops under attack by Con-federate forces.

11 Assistant Secretary of the Navy Fox wrote Rear Admiral D. D. Porter of the readying of ironclads for the fleet and observed: “We shall soon be ready to try the Iron Clads against the few southern Forts yet in the hands of the Rebels.”

12 USS Cairo, Lieutenant-Commander Thomas O. Selfridge, on an expedition up the Yazoo River to destroy torpedoes, was sunk by one of the infernal machines” and Selfridge reported: “The Cairo sunk in about twelve minutes after the explosion, going totally out of sight, except the top of her chimneys, in 6 fathoms of water.” Cairo was the first of some 40 Union vessels to be torpedoed during the war. The torpedo which destroyed Cairo was a large demijohn fired with a friction primer by a trigger line from torpedo pits on the river bank. Rear Admiral D. D. Porter later observed: “It was an accident liable to occur to any gallant officer whose zeal carries him to the post of danger and who is loath to let others do what he thinks he ought to do himself.” Despite the loss of Cairo, Porter wrote: “I gave Captain Walke orders to hold Yazoo River at all hazards…. We may lose three or four vessels, but will succeed in carrying out the plan for the capture of Vicksburg.”

12-16 Naval force under Commander Murray including USS Delaware, Shawsheen, Lockwood, and Seymour with armed transports in the Neuse River supported an Army expedition to destroy railroad bridges and track near Goldsboro, North Carolina; low water prevented the gunboats from advancing more than about 15 miles up the river.

15 Assistant Secretary of the Navy Fox wrote Rear Admiral S. P. Lee, proposing an assault on Wil-mington: “Though the popular clamor centers upon Charleston I consider Wilmington a more important point in a military and political point of view and I do not conceal from myself that it is more difficult of access on account of the shallowness of the bars, and more easily defended inside by obstructions, yet it must be attacked and we have more force than we shall possess again since the Iron Clads must, go South so soon as four are ready.” Nonetheless, Wilmington, guarded by the guns of Fort Fisher, remained a bastion of Confederate strength and one of the few havens for blockade runners until nearly the end of the war.

16 General Banks arrived at New Orleans with additional troops to supersede General Butler and prepare for increased operations on the river.

18 Assistant Secretary of the Navy Fox wrote: “I believe there is no work shop in the country capable of making steam machinery or iron plates and hulls that is not in full blast with Naval orders. Before another year we shall be prepared to defend ourselves with reasonable hopes of success against a foreign enemy, and in two years we can take the offensive with vessels that will be superior to any England is now building.” Because of this extensive building program, by war’s end the US Navy was the most powerful force afloat in the world.

19 Rear Admiral Farragut advised Secretary of the Navy Welles that he had recommended “the occupation of Baton Rouge” to General Banks on his arrival. “He ordered his transports to proceed directly to that city.” Commander James Alden in Richmond with 2 gunboats covered the landing. “Baton Rouge is only 12–15 miles from Port Hudson. I am ready to attack the latter place and support General Banks the moment he desires to move against it.” The powerful combined operations that were destroying the Confederacy at its heart gathered strength for the crushing attacks of 1863.

20 Rear Admiral D. D. Porter in his flagship USS Black Hawk joined General William T. Sherman at Helena, Arkansas, and prepared for the joint assault on Vicksburg. The fleet under Admiral Porter’s command for the Vicksburg campaign was the largest ever placed under one officer up to that time, equal in number to all the vessels composing the US Navy at the outbreak of war.

22 USS Huntsville, Acting Lieutenant W. C. Rogers, seized schooner Courier off Tortugas with a cargo including salt, coffee, sugar, and dry goods.

Captain Dahlgren, confidant of and advisor to the President, went to the White House at the request of President Lincoln to observe the testing of a new type of gunpowder.

24 USS New Era, Acting Master Frank W. Flanner, arrived off Columbus, Kentucky, to support the Army, which was threatened with imminent attack by a large Confederate force. New Era had been dispatched to Columbus at the urgent request of General J. M. Tuttle, and brought a much-needed Army howitzer, ammunition, and a Master’s Mate to take charge of one of the batteries. Confederate occupation of Columbus would have seriously disrupted the flow of sup-plies to the fleet and Army poised below for the Vicksburg assault.

USS Charlotte, Acting Master Bruner, captured steamer Bloomer in Choctawhatchee River, Florida.

27 Rear Admiral D. D. Porter received a request from Brigadier General Willis A. Gorman for assistance in the forthcoming campaign in Arkansas. Though his fleet was fully employed,” Porter nevertheless ordered USS Conestoga to begin the requested patrolling action ”between the White and Arkansas rivers as occasion may require. But,” he added in his instructions to Lieutenant-Commander Selfridge, “Arkansas is the main point to look after. We will occupy it soon with troops.” Meanwhile, that day Porter’s squadron was involved in a heated engage-ment with Confederate batteries on the Yazoo. USS Benton, Lieutenant-Commander Gwin, continuing to carry on the removal of torpedoes after Cairo’s destruction a fortnight before, with USS Cincinnati, Baron de Kalb, Louisville, Lexington, Marmora, and ram Queen of the West in com-pany, returned the fire of the battery’s eight heavy guns at Drumgould’s Bluff. As Porter “served, “The old war horse, Benton, has been much cut up, and the gallant, noble Gwin, I fear, mortally wounded.” Nonetheless, Porter was able to report that the Yazoo was cleared of torpedoes to within one-half mile of the battery and to remark “we gave the enemy enough to occupy them to-day, and drew off a large portion of their force.” Cooperating fully with the Army during the preparations for renewed engagements along the Mississippi, the Navy con-stantly harassed Confederate forces at Drumgould’s Bluff, as well as those at Haynes’ Bluff and elsewhere, as the squadron’s mobile fire power kept Confederate troops off balance and dispersed.

USS Magnolia, Acting Master Charles Potter, captured British schooner Carmita northwest of Marquesas Keys, Florida, attempting to run the blockade.

USS Roebuck, Master John Sherrill, captured British schooner Kate attempting to run into St. Mark’s River, Florida, with a cargo of salt, coffee, copper, and liquor.

28 USS Anacostia, Acting Master Nelson Provost, seized schooner Exchange in the Rappahannock River.

28-30 Rear Admiral D. D. Porter’s gunboats supported General Sherman’s attempt to capture Con-federate- held Chickasaw Bluffs, a vantage point upstream from Vicksburg. “Throughout these operations,” Porter wrote, “the Navy did everything that could be done to ensure the success of General Sherman’s movement.” Though the Navy supplied shore bombardment from the squadron and created diversionary movements, the Union troops, hindered by heavy rains and faced by the timely arrival of Confederate reinforcements, were forced to withdraw.

29 USS Magnolia, Acting Master Potter, seized blockade running British sloop Flying Fish off Tortugas.

31 USS Monitor, Commander Bankhead, foundered and was lost off Cape Hatteras en route from Hampton Roads to Beaufort, North Carolina. During the short career of the first Union sea-going ironclad, she had fought CSS Virginia in the historic engagement that ushered in a new era in warfare, had supported General McClellan’s Peninsular Campaign, and had effected for all time momentous changes in naval tactics and ship construction.

The Confederate embargo, the capture of New Orleans, and the Union Navy’s blockade combined to curtail greatly the export of the South’s major product, cotton. Meanwhile, the North’s control of the seas, threatened only by a few Confederate commerce raiders granted the Union access to the world markets for the importation of war materials and exportation of produce such as wheat, which was a major factor in deterring European powers from recognizing the Confederacy.

 

JANUARY 1863

JANUARY 1 Confederate warships under Major Leon Smith, CSA, defeated Union blockading forces at Gal-veston in a fierce surprise attack combined with an assault ashore by Confederate troops that resulted in the capture of the Northern Army company stationed there. Smith’s flotilla included the improvised cotton-clad gunboats CSS Bayou City and Neptune, with Army sharpshooting boarding parties embarked, and tenders John F. Carr and Lucy Gwin. The Union squadron under Commander William B. Renshaw, USS Harriet Lane, Owasco, Corypheus, Sachem, Clifton, and Westfield, was caught off guard. Despite the surprise, Harriet Lane, Commander Jonathan M. Wainwright, put up a gallant fight. She rammed Bayou City, but without much damage. In turn she was rammed by Neptune, which was so damaged by the resulting impact and a shot from Harriet Lane taken at the waterline that she sank in 8 feet of water. Bayou City, meanwhile, turned and rammed Harriet Lane so heavily that the two ships could not be separated. The troops from the cotton-clad clambered over the bulwarks to board Harriet Lane. Commander Wainwright was killed in the wild hand-to-hand combat and his ship was captured.

In the meantime, Westfield, Commander Renshaw, had run aground in Bolivar Channel prior to the action, could not be gotten off, and was destroyed to prevent her capture. Renshaw and a boat crew were killed when Westfield blew up prematurely. The small ships comprising the remainder of the blockading force ran through heavy Confederate fire from ashore and stood out to sea. Surprise and boldness in execution, as often in the long history of warfare, had won another victory. The tribute paid by Major-General John Bankhead Magruder, CSA, was well deserved. “The alacrity with which officers and men, all of them totally unacquainted with this novel kind of service, some of whom had never seen a ship before, volunteered for an enterprise so extraordinarily and apparently desperate in its character, and the bold and dashing manner in which the plan was executed, are certainly deserving of the highest praise.”

The extensive use of Confederate torpedoes in the western waters required similar ingenuity on the part of Union forces to cope with them. Colonel Charles R. Ellet proposed a plan to clear the Yazoo of torpedoes, to enable the gunboats to operate more freely. He wrote: “My plan was to attach to the bow of a swift and powerful steamboat [Lioness was chosen] a strong frame-work, consisting of two heavy spars, 65 feet in length, firmly secured by transverse and diagonal braces and extending 50 feet forward of the steamer’s bow. A crosspiece 35 feet in length, was to be bolted to the forward extremities of these spars. Through each end of this crosspiece and through the center a heavy iron rod, 1 1/2 inches in diameter and 10 feet long, descended into the river, terminating in a hook. An intermediate hook was attached to each bar 3 feet from the bottom. The three bars were strengthened by a light piece of timber halfway down, through which they were passed and bolted…. The torpedoes are sunk in the water, but the cords by which they are fired are attached to buoys floating on the surface. My belief was that the curved hooks of the rake would catch these cords, and, driven by the powerful boat, would either explode the torpedoes or tear them to pieces and break the ropes, thus rendering them harmless to suc-ceeding vessels.” In fundamental principle, the method compares with the sweeping of mines in World War II and Korea.

JANUARY 3 USS Currituck, Acting Master Thomas J. Linnekin, captured sloop Potter between the mouths of the Potomac and Rappahannock Rivers.

Confederate commerce raiding schooner Retribution, Master Thomas B. Power, chased merchant ships Gilmore Meredith and Westward back into the harbor at Havana.

JANUARY 4 A joint Army-Navy expedition under Rear Admiral David D. Porter and Major-General W. T. Sherman got underway up the White River, Arkansas, aiming at the capture of Fort Hindman at Arkansas Post. Hindman, described by Porter as a “tough little nut,” mounted 11 guns. With a small coal supply available, Porter had the gunboats towed upriver by Army transports to conserve his fuel as much as possible. The gunboats included USS Baron de Kalb, Louisville, Cincinnati, Signal, Marmora, Lexington, New Era, Romeo, Rattler, Glide, and flagship Black Hawk. This date Porter also ordered ram Monarch to join him at the mouth of the Arkansas River.

Rear Admiral Samuel F. Du Pont wrote Charles Henry Davis regarding the Confederate defenses of Charleston: ”The work on the defenses of Charleston has never ceased since the fall of Sumter, some 20 long months under successive generals; and the man who commenced it [General Beaure-gard] is now giving the closing touches and I believe he has exhausted his science and applied every conceivable means. He is fully confident that he can successfully defend the harbor, and the British officers who go in, and the blockade runners whom we catch smile at the idea of its being taken, representing it stronger than Sebastopol. A deserter from Morris Island confirms the above feeling of confidence, and says they expect to sink every gunboat as fast as they approach.”

Referring to the proposed Union attack on Charleston, Du Pont said “I have always been of the opinion that it should be a joint operation, carefully devised-and I trust that I am not insensible to the honor of a naval capture-Though I am infinitely more alive to the absolute necessity of success than any special glory to our arm of service, or of personal distinction to myself. We cannot afford a failure in this crisis, political as well as military through which we are now passing-the more so, that desirable as the taking of Charleston is, the contest will still go on, until the rebel armies are broken and dispersed.”

Major-General Ulysses S. Grant wired Commander Alexander M. Pennock at Cairo, asking for gunboat support as Confederate troops began renewed attempts to regain positions in Tennessee: “Some light-draft gunboats now in Tennessee would be of great value. Forrest has got to the east bank, but there are strong signs of his recrossing in the vicinity of Savannah [Tennessee]. Can any be sent?” Though hampered by low water on the rivers, Pennock had foreseen the possible Southern action; he replied: “Have already ordered all available boats to ascend [the] Tennessee with the rise.”

This date, Pennock received word from Army headquarters at Evansville, Indiana, that 14 steamers had departed for Nashville with essential supplies and would need convoy service from Smithland, Kentucky. The fleet captain at Cairo wired back: “Two gunboats have been waiting since yesterday at Smithland. Commanding naval officer will make such arrangements as he deems proper on arrival of the fleet at Smithland.” Control over the inland waterways by the Union Navy assured the Army of continuous logistic and convoy support. As on the railroads, troops and supplies moved freely on the rivers. In addition, the powerful armament of the gun-boats swept aside opposition.

USS Quaker City, Commander James M. Frailey, captured sloop Mercury off Charleston with important Confederate dispatches on board. Rear Admiral Du Pont described “the most impor-tant of all” as a letter bearing on the ironclads building in England which urged “the absolute importance of hastening them forward as the only thing that offers succor and relief…. We want succor or we must die.”

JANUARY 5 Boat crews from USS Sagamore, Lieutenant-Commander Earl English, seized blockade running British sloop Avenger in Jupiter Inlet, Florida, with a cargo of coffee, gin, salt, and baled goods.

JANUARY 6 Confederate troops captured and burned steamboat Jacob Musselman near Memphis. The com-mander of the Confederate company, Captain James H. McGehee, was acting under orders to reconnoiter the area, “burning cotton in that country and annoying the enemy on the Mississippi River” wherever possible. Attacks such as this emphasized the Union’s reliance on naval control of the waterways to transport and convoy troops and supplies in areas already dominated by the North. Had this force afloat been weaker, the Confederacy might well have re-established vital positions in the west and elsewhere.

Assistant Adjutant General John A. Rawlins, writing from Holly Springs, Mississippi, informed Colonel William W. Lowe, commanding at Fort Henry, of a reported large number of “flat boats and other craft for crossing the Tennessee. You will therefore please request the gunboats, which are reported to be up the river, to use every means for their destruction, that the enemy may be prevented from crossing into West Tennessee and Kentucky. They should proceed up the river as far as the water will permit.” The gunboats had constant work to do on the upper waters as well as near Vicksburg.

USS Pocahontas, Lieutenant-Commander William M. Gamble, captured blockade runner Antona off Cape San Blas, Florida.

JANUARY 7 Confederate Secretary of the Navy Stephen R. Mallory wrote Commander James D. Bulloch in Liverpool regarding urgently needed ships to be built in England: “…. Push these ships ahead as rapidly as possible. Our difficulty lies in providing you with funds, but you may rely upon receiving cotton certificates sooner or later. You speak of having under consideration plans of armored ships of about 2300 tons and to draw 14 feet, and of certain parties who are willing to build without cash advances, and to deliver the ships armed and equipped, beyond British juris-diction. Close with this proposition at once by all means, and give any reasonable bonus after agreeing upon the times of such delivery, for earlier delivery, together with a bonus for extra speed…. I am convinced that every ship may and should be used as a ram when opportunities are presented…. Our river high-pressure boats, carrying their boilers on deck, frequently run against a sand bar or a snag, going at great speed, and bring all up standing, without deranging their boilers or engines in the least. The contact of the Virginia with the Cumberland was not felt on board the former, and the moving vessel that runs squarely into a stationary one rarely receives injury.”

JANUARY 7-9 Joint Army-Navy expedition up the Pamunkey River destroyed boats, barges and stores at West Point and White House, Virginia. USS Mahaska and Commodore Morris, under Commander Foxhall A. Parker, supported the Army movement and convoyed transport May Queen. Rear Admiral Samuel P. Lee reported: “A more extensive enterprise was projected, but want of water at the obstructions prevented its full success; as a reconnaissance it is valuable.” Major-General Erasmus D. Keyes felt that ”the success of the land part of the expedition was largely indebted to Captain Parker’s admirable management of his vessels. On this and many other occasions I have noticed the zeal and good judgment of that naval officer.”

JANUARY 8 General Grant wired Commander Pennock in Cairo:” Can I have gunboats at Memphis to convoy reinforcements to Vicksburg? I will want them by the eleventh.” The fleet captain, facing problems that had beset the gunboats since the squadron’s inception, replied: ‘Will send one light-draft gunboat, bullet-proof, one-fourth manned. I can do no more. Can’t you place under the command of her captain soldiers enough to work her guns?” The next day, 9 January, Grant. and Pennock again exchanged telegrams relative to the Army’s need for gunboats. “There is no gunboat in Tennessee River above Fort Henry,” the General wired Cairo. ”There is 10 feet water and rising.” Pennock reported: “Two [gunboats] have orders to ascend Tennessee with rise.”

USS Sagamore, Lieutenant-Commander English, seized blockade running British sloop Julia off Jupiter Inlet with a cargo of salt.

USS Tahoma, Lieutenant-Commander Alexander A. Semmes, captured blockade runner Silas Henry, aground in Tampa Bay with a cargo of cotton.

JANUARY 9 Boat crews from USS Ethan Allen, Acting Master Isaac A. Pennell, destroyed “a very large salt manufactory” south of St. Joseph’s, Florida. Pennell noted that the works were “capable of making 75 bushels of salt per day” and reported that it was “the fourth salt manufactory I have destroyed since I have been on this station.”

JANUARY 9-11 USS Baron De Kalb, Louisville, Cincinnati, Lexington, Rattler, and Black Hawk, under Rear Admiral Porter in tug Ivy, engaged and, with the troops of Major-General W. T. Sherman, forced the surrender of Fort Hindman at Arkansas Post. Ascending the Arkansas River, Porter’s squadron covered the landing of the troops and shelled Confederates from their rifle pits, enabling McClernand’s troops on 9 January to take command of the woods below the fort and approach unseen. Though the Army was not in a position to press the attack on 10 January, the squadron moved to within 60 yards of the staunchly defended fort to soften the works for the next day’s assault. A blistering engagement ensued, the fort’s 11 guns pouring a withering fire into the gunboats. USS Rattler, Lieutenant-Commander Watson Smith, attempted to run past the fort to provide enfilade support, but was caught on a snag placed in the river by the Confederates, received a heavy raking fire, and was forced to return downstream.

Porter’s gunboats renewed the engagement the next morning, 11 January, when the Army launched its assault, and “after a well directed fire of about two and one-half hours every gun in the fort was dismounted or disabled and the fort knocked all to pieces….” Ram Monarch and USS Rattler and Glide, under Lieutenant-Commander W. Smith, knifed upriver to cut off any attempted escape. Brigadier General Thomas J. Churchill, CSA, surrendered the fort-including some 36 defending Confederate naval officers and men after a gallant resistance to the fearful pounding from the gunboats. Porter wrote Secretary of the Navy Welles: “No fort ever received a worse battering, and the highest compliment I can pay those engaged is to repeat what the rebels said: ‘You can’t expect men to stand up against the fire of those gunboats.’ ”

After the loss of Fort Hindman, Confederates evacuated other positions on the White and St. Charles Rivers before falling waters forced the gunboats to retire downstream. Porter wrote: ‘The fight at Fort Hindman was one of the prettiest little affairs of the war, not so little either, for a very important post fell into our hands with 6,500 prisoners, and the destruction of a powerful ram at Little Rock [CSS Pontchartrain], which could have caused the Federal Navy in the West a great deal of trouble, was ensured…. Certain it is, the success at Arkansas Post had a most exhilarating effect on the troops, and they were a different set of men when they arrived at Milliken’s Bend than they were when they left the Yazoo River.” A memorandum in the Secretary’s office added: ”The importance of this victory can not be estimated. It happened at a moment when the Union arms were unsuccessful on three or four battlefields…. ”

JANUARY 10 Under orders from Farragut to ”reestablish the blockade as soon as you can” at Galveston, Commodore Henry H. Bell in USS Brooklyn, with other ships in company, bombarded the port. Because of the danger of grounding, Bell decided not to attempt to force an entrance. “It is with a bitter and lasting sense of grief I give it up,” he wrote, “as the blockade of the port with Harriet Lane is a difficult task for so small a fleet as is in the Gulf. There will be censure, incon-siderate censure, but I can’t help it. I can’t overcome the difficulty of shoal water and a crooked, narrow channel without pilots, or small draft vessels to assist such [ships] as ground.”

USS Octorara, Commander Napoleon Collins, captured blockade running British schooner Rising Dawn in North West Providence Channel with large a cargo of salt.

CSS Retribution, Master Power, captured brig J. P. Ellicott, bound from Boston to Cienfuegos. Next day, she was retaken by her own crew from the Confederate prize crew and sailed to St. Thomas Island where she was turned over to USS Alabama, Commander Edward T. Nichols.

JANUARY 11 CSS Alabama, Captain Raphael Semmes, sank USS Hatteras, Lieutenant-Commander Homer C. Blake, after a heated and close night engagement some thirty miles off Galveston. “My men,” reported Semmes, “handled their pieces with great spirit and commendable coolness, and the action was sharp and exciting while it lasted; which, however, was not very long, for in just thirteen minutes after firing the first gun, the enemy hoisted a light, and fired an off-gun, as a signal that he had been beaten. We at once withheld our fire, and such a cheer went up from the brazen throats of my fellows, as must have astonished even a Texan, if he had heard it.” Hatteras was severely punished, whereas damage to Alabama was so slight ”that there was not a shot-hole which it was necessary to plug, to enable us to continue our cruise; nor was there a rope to be spliced.” Hatteras went down in 9 1/2 fathoms, Alabama saving all hands. Other Union ships in the Galveston area steamed out in vain in chase of the raider. Semmes observed: ”There was now as hurried a saddling of steeds for the pursuit as there had been in the chase of the young Lochinvar, and with as little effect, for by the time the steeds were given the spur, the Alabama was distant a hundred miles or more.”

Confederate troops captured steamboat Grampus No. 2 near Memphis laden with large a cargo of coal, and later burned her at Mound City, Arkansas.

USS Matthew Vassar, Acting Master Hugh H. Savage, captured schooner Florida off Little River Inlet, South Carolina, with a cargo of salt.

JANUARY 13 Joint Army-Navy expedition from Memphis on board USS General Bragg, Lieutenant Joshua Bishop, destroyed buildings at Mound City, Arkansas, in reprisal for Confederate attacks on river steamers. Bishop reported: ”Ascertained that there was quite a force of guerrillas in the neighborhood, who intended destroying steamers; that their rendezvous was at Mound City, Marion, and Hopefield…. At 9 a.m. left Bradley’s Landing and proceeded to Mound City, firing shells at intervals into the woods, as it was supposed there were guerrillas thereabouts. At 10 landed at Mound City and disembarked the troops. The infantry made prisoners of several citizens, who had been harboring guerrillas.

USS Currituck, Acting Master Linnekin, captured schooner Hampton at Dividing Creek, Virginia. The day before, Linnekin destroyed the salt works at Dividing Creek, works that had been “ex-tensively engaged” in supplying Richmond with the important item.

JANUARY 14 Joint Army-Navy forces, including USS Kinsman, Estrella, Calhoun, and Diana, under Lieutenant-Commander Thomas McK. Buchanan, attacked Confederate defenses in Bayou Teche, below Franklin, Louisiana. Vigorous prosecution of the action by the naval vessels forced withdrawal of the Southern defenders and permitted removal of the formidable obstructions sunk in an effort to halt the ships. Gunboat CSS Cotton, Lieutenant Edward W. Fuller, engaged the attacking force, but was compelled to withdraw, subsequently being set afire and destroyed by her crew to prevent capture. During the engagement, a torpedo exploded under USS Kinsman, Acting Lieutenant George Wiggin, unshipping her rudder. Lieutenant-Commander Buchanan was killed by shore fire.

Joint expedition under Lieutenant-Commander John G. Walker and Brigadier General Willis A. Gorman, including gunboats USS Baron De Kalb and Cincinnati with two Army transports in tow, arrived at St. Charles, Arkansas, on the White River in a move to follow up the advantage gained by the Fort Hindman victory. The commanders discovered that the Confederates had abandoned their position and withdrawn up river on board Blue Wing. While Cincinnati remained at St. Charles, Baron De KaIb proceeded up the White River in pursuit.

USS Columbia, Lieutenant Joseph P. Couthouy, ran aground on the coast of North Carolina High winds and heavy seas aborted initial attempts to get her off, and by the 17th, when the weather moderated, Columbia was in Confederate hands. She was destroyed by fire and Couthouy and some 11 other crew members were taken prisoner.

JANUARY 15 President Lincoln conferred with Captain John A. Dahlgren at the Washington Navy Yard regard-ing gunpowder development in one of his frequent trips to the yard to observe tests and weapon progress.

USS Octorara, Commander Collins, seized blockade running British sloop Brave in North West Providence Channel, Bahamas, with a cargo of salt and sponge.

JANUARY 16 CSS Florida, Lieutenant John N. Maffitt, ran the blockade out of Mobile in the early morning after having remained in that port for some 4 months in order to complete repairs to her equip-ment. Confusion in the blockading fleet enabled Florida to escape, for the Confederate commerce raider passed within 300 yards of USS R.R. Cuyler, Commander George F. Emmons. Upon her arrival at Havana on 20 January to debark prisoners from her first prize, US Consul-General Robert W. Shufeldt described the raider: ”The Florida is a bark-rigged propeller, quite fast under steam and canvas; has two smoke-stacks fore and aft of each other, close together; has a battery of four 42’s or 68’s of a side, and two large pivot guns. Her crew consists of 135 men…. is a wooden vessel of about 1,500 tons.” Farragut was concerned by Florida’s escape: “This squadron, as Sam Barron used to say, ‘is eating its dirt now’-Galveston skedaddled, the Hatteras sunk by the Alabama, and now the Oreto [Florida] out…. The Admiral’s son, Loyall Farragut, com-pleted the letter: ”Father’s eyes have given out; so I will finish this letter. He has been very much worried at these things, but still tries to bear it like a philosopher. He knows he has done all in his power to avert it, with the vessels at his disposal. If the Government had only let him take Mobile when he wished to, the Oreto would never have run out.”

Captain Semmes, with a keen interest in the advancement of scientific knowledge, recorded the following observation from on board CSS Alabama.’…. the old theory of Dr. Franklin and others, was, that the Gulf Stream, which flows out of the Gulf of Mexico, between the north coast of Cuba, and the Florida Reefs and Keys, flows into the Gulf, through the channel between the west end of Cuba, and the coast of Yucatan, in which the Alabama now was. But the effectual disproof of this theory is, that we know positively, from the strength of the current, and its volume, or cross section, in the two passages, that more than twice the quantity of water flows out of the Gulf of Mexico, than flows into it through this passage. Upon Dr. Franklin’s theory, the Gulf of Mexico in a very short time would become dry ground. Nor can the Mississippi River, which is the only stream worth noticing, in this connection, that flows into the’ Gulf of Mexico, come to his relief, as we have seen that that river only empties into the Gulf of Mexico, about one three thousandth part as much water, as the Gulf Stream takes out. We must resort, of necessity, to an under-current from the north, passing into the Gulf of Mexico, under the Gulf Stream, rising to the surface when heated, and thus swelling the volume of the outflowing water.”

USS Baron De Kalb, Lieutenant-Commander J. G. Walker, arrived at Devall’s Bluff, Arkansas, on the White River. A landing party went ashore and “took possession of all the public prop-erty,” including guns and munitions. Walker reported: “Upon. the arrival of General Gorman’s troops I drew off my men and turned everything over to the army.” Next day, Baron De Kalb continued the pursuit of Confederate steamer Blue Wing, which was reported to have departed Devall’s Bluff just before the Union gunboat arrived.

JANUARY 17 USS Baron De Kalb, Lieutenant-Commander Walker, with USS Forest Rose and Romeo and an Army transport in company, proceeded up White River to Des Arc, Arkansas. “At that place,” Walker reported, “I found 39 rebel soldiers in the hospital, whom I paroled. I also found and brought away 171 rounds of fixed ammunition, 72 cartridges, and 47 shot for 12-pounder rifled gun. I took possession of the post-office…. The troops reached Des Arc about an hour after me, and searched the town for arms and public property.” Having cleared out Confederate strong points, the squadron withdrew downstream.

JANUARY 18 Following the operations on the White River, Rear Admiral Porter once more turned his atten-tions to the Southern citadel at Vicksburg. In a general order to gunboats on the Yazoo River, he directed: “All the gunboats on their way up will return down river and give convoy to the transports as far as Milliken’s Bend, where they will cover them.”

Porter wrote Secretary Welles concerning the unsuccessful Vicksburg operation of December 1862, then added: “The operations to come will be of a different character; it will be a tedious siege, the first step, in my opinion, toward a successful attack on Vicksburg, which has been made very strong by land and water. I have always thought the late attempt was premature, but sometimes these dashes succeed…. The operations of the navy in the Yazoo are worthy to be ranked amongst the brightest events of the war. The officers in charge of getting up the torpedoes and clearing 8 miles of river distinguished themselves by their patient endurance and cool courage under a galling fire of musketry from well-protected and unseen riflemen, and the crews of the boats exhibited a courage and coolness seldom equaled. The navy will scarcely ever get credit for these events; they are not brilliant enough to satisfy our impatient people at the North, who know little of the difficulties…. or how much officers and men are exposing them-selves…. The Department may rest assured that the navy here is never idle. The army depends on us to take entire charge of them on the water…. We expect to disembark the troops opposite Vicksburg in four or five days. In the meantime, I want to gather up the fleet, which are operating at different points with the army. My opinion is that Vicksburg is the main point. When that falls all subordinate posts will fall with it.” The buildup was begun.

USS Wachusett, Rear Admiral Charles Wilkes, and USS Sonoma, Commander Thomas H. Stevens, seized steamer Virginia off Mugeres Island, Mexico. Virginia was sent to Key West for adjudication.

USS Zouave, Pilot John A. Phillips, captured sloop J. C. McCabe in the James River.

Confederate steamer Tropic accidentally caught fire and burned attempting to run the blockade at Charleston with a cargo of cotton and turpentine.

JANUARY 19 CSS Florida, Lieutenant Maffitt, captured and burned brig Estelle bound from Santa Cruz to Boston with a cargo of sugar, molasses, and honey. The master of Estelle wrote: “Generosity and courtesy on the part of enemies should not pass unheeded by, as the rigors of a sad and un-natural war may be somewhat mitigated by politeness and manly forbearance. I would add that Captain Maffitt returned our personal effects, but retained the chronometer and charts.”

Secretary Welles wired Commander Pennock in Cairo, asking that he give all possible assistance to the Army: ”General Rosecrans desires a naval force to protect the transports in the Cumber-land. Can you not send some vessels for the purpose?” Next day, 20 January, Rosecrans tele-graphed Pennock, pressing the issue: “It is very desirable that a couple of good gunboats should go up the Cumberland and destroy means of crossing as high up as Somerset. How soon can it be done?” After receiving two more such messages on 22 January, Pennock advised the harried General on the 24th: “The Silver Lake leaves for Cumberland River to-day. Has short crew. The Lexington, with heavy guns, will also leave to-morrow evening. No more boats to send; with these there will be five in that river…. Will do all I can to assist you.” Rosecrans responded that he was “greatly obliged” and would “furnish more crews if possible.” This joint cooperation kept the upper rivers open to the Union and prevented the Confederates from mounting an effective counteroffensive. Secretary Welles advised Porter of President Lincoln’s personal interest in the Vicksburg operation: “The President is exceedingly anxious that a canal from which practical and useful results would follow should be cut through the peninsula op-posite Vicksburg. If a canal were cut at a higher point up the river than the first one, as you some time since suggested, so as to catch the current before it has made the curve, and also avoid the bluffs below the city, it would probably be a success. The Department desires that this plan may be tried whenever you may deem it expedient and can have the cooperation of the army.”
This was one of several plans to get the Army transports downstream past Vicksburg so that the Union troops could encircle the stronghold from the rear. The batteries were thought to be too powerful for a successful run past them with the big and cumbersome transports. When the “ditch” was begun, as Porter later wrote, “it was hoped that when the river rose it would cut its way through, but that wished for event did not come to pass until after the fall of Vicksburg. The enemy mounted heavy guns opposite the mouth of the canal and prevented any work upon it.”

An intercepted letter from Nassau indicated the blockade’s effectiveness: “There are men here who are making immense fortunes by shipping goods to Dixie…. Salt, for example, is one of the most paying things to send in. Here in Nassau it is only worth 60 cents a bushel, but in Charleston brings at auction from $80 to $100 in Confederate money, but as Confederate money is no good out of the Confederacy they send back cotton or turpentine, which, if it reaches here, is worth proportionally as much here as the salt is there…. It is a speculation by which one makes either 600 to 800 per cent or loses all.”

JANUARY 20 CSS Florida, Lieutenant Maffitt, entered Havana. A correspondent for the New York Herald noted that: “Captain Maffitt is no ordinary character. He is vigorous, energetic, bold, quick and dashing, and the sooner he is caught and hung the better it will be for the interest of our commercial community. He is decidedly popular here, and you can scarcely imagine the anxiety evinced to get a glance at him.. Nobody, unless informed, would have imagined the small, black-eyed, poetic-looking gentleman, with his romantic appearance, to be a second Semmes, probably in time to be a more celebrated and more dangerous pirate.”

JANUARY 21 CSS Josiah Bell and Uncle Ben, under Major Oscar M. Watkins, CSA, attacked and captured the small blockaders USS Morning Light, Acting Master John Dillingham, and Velocity, Acting Mas-ter Nathan W. Hammond, at Sabine Pass. The two Confederate cottonclads came down into the Pass the preceding evening, and in the morning stood out to meet the Union blockaders. Watkins reported: “When within 1,000 yards of the enemy Captain [Matthew] Nolan’s sharpshooters [on Josiah Bell] opened a terrific fire, which swept their decks [on Morning Light] and soon caused their commanding officer to strike his flag…. In the meantime the Ben bore down gallantly on the schooner [Velocity], receiving her fire and the broadside from the sloop of war at short range…. The schooner was surrendered unconditionally, and, putting Captain [Charles] Fowler in charge of the sloop, we started for Sabine Pass.” Two days later the Confederates burned Morning Light because she could not be brought over the bar at Sabine Pass. As Watkins later observed: “The captured vessels would be worse than useless in battle, for I could not spare seamen enough to maneuver them, nor were there among my excellent artillerists any who were skillful in the use of guns mounted on ship carriages.”

The ceaseless, if not always dramatic, operations of the Potomac Flotilla, Commodore Andrew A. Harwood, were continually evidenced by the maintenance of the blockade in the Potomac and Rappahannock Rivers area, where Confederates repeatedly attempted to smuggle goods from shore to shore. Union barges J.C. Davis and Liberty broke loose from their anchorage at Corn-field Harbor, Maryland, and drifted to Coan River, Virginia, where they were boarded this date and captured. Upon hearing of the incident, Acting Master Benjamin C. Dean, USS Dan Smith, ordered a cutter into Coan River ”to rescue the crews and recapture or destroy the boats.” This was accomplished under Acting Ensign Francis L. Harris–an unnoticed act that typified the constant pressure that kept the South always on the defensive.

USS Ottawa, Lieutenant-Commander William D. Whiting, captured schooner Etiwan off Charles-ton with a cargo of cotton.

USS Chocura, Lieutenant-Commander William T. Truxtun, seized blockade running British schooner Pride at sea east of Cape Romain, South Carolina, with a cargo of salt.

USS Daylight, Acting Master Joshua D. Warren, forced a blockade running schooner (name unknown) aground off New Topsail Inlet, North Carolina, and destroyed her.

JANUARY 22 USS Commodore Morris, Lieutenant-Commander James H. Gillis, keeping a constant vigil for contraband goods being carried on the river, seized oyster sloop John C. Calhoun, schooner Harriet, and sloop Music near Chuckatuck Creek, Virginia.

The chronic shortage of iron, as well as other critical materials, plagued the Confederacy thoughout the conflict. The Secretary of War appointed a committee to determine what rail-road tracks could best be “dispensed with” in order to provide iron “for the completion of public vessels.”

CSS Florida, Lieutenant Maffitt, captured and burned brigs Windward and Corris Ann near Cuba.

JANUARY 23 USS Cambridge, Commander William A. Parker, captured schooner Time off Cape Fear, North Carolina, with a cargo of salt, matches, and shoes.

JANUARY 24 Rear Admiral Porter reported his arrival at the mouth of the Yazoo River to Secretary Welles and noted the progress at Vicksburg: “The army is landing on the neck of land opposite Vicksburg. What they expect to do I don’t know, but presume it is a temporary arrangement. I am covering their landing and guarding the Yazoo River. The front of Vicksburg is heavily fortified, and unless we can get troops in the rear of the city I see no chance of taking it at present, though we cut off all their supplies from Texas and Louisiana.” Observing that his gunboats had trapped 11 Confederate steamers up the Yazoo obtaining provisions for Port Hudson, Porter wrote: “This will render the reduction of that place [Port Hudson] an easier task than it otherwise would have been, as there are no steamers on the river except two that will he kept at Vicksburg.”

With reference to the projected attack on Charleston, Rear Admiral Du Pont wrote Welles: “The Department is aware that I have never shrunk from assuming any responsibilities which circum-stances called for nor desired to place any failure of mine on others. But the interests involved in the success or failure of this undertaking strikes me as so momentous to the nation at home and abroad at this particular period that I am confident it will require no urging from me to induce the Department to put at my disposal every means in its power to insure success especially by send-ing additional ironclads, if possible, to those mentioned in your dispatch.”

Secretary Mallory wrote President Davis rejecting a request that an Army officer be named to command Harriet Lane, captured at Galveston on 1 January, “over the heads of nine-tenths of the naval officers…. even could it be done legally, which it cannot.

JANUARY 25 USS Currituck, Acting Master Linnekin, captured sloop Queen of the Fleet at Tapp’s Creek, Virginia. On 30 January Commodore Harwood, commanding the Potomac Flotilla, advised Secretary Wells of the recent activity of Currituck. ”I enclose for the information of the Department,” he reported, “a certificate of capture of a sloop and nine canoes, with thirteen prisoners and a quan-tity of contraband goods, by the Currituck. I have this day placed them in the hands of the civil authorities. All the captures have been made between the mouths of the Potomac and the Piankatank rivers…. These canoes were full of freight, which has been brought to the [Washington Navy] yard.”

JANUARY 26 CSS Alabama, Captain Semmes, captured and burned bark Golden Rule off Haiti in the Caribbean Sea. Semmes noted in his log: “This vessel had on board masts, spars, and a complete set of rigging for the US brig Bainbridge, lately obliged to cut away her masts in a gale at Aspinwall [Panama].” He later added: “I had tied up for a while longer, one of the enemy’s gun-brigs, for want of an outfit. It must have been some months before the Bainbridge put to sea.”

JANUARY 27 ironclad USS Montauk, Commander John L. Worden, and USS Seneca, Wissahickon, Dawn, and mortar schooner C. P. Williams engaged Confederate batteries at Fort McAllister, Georgia, on the Ogeechee River. Worden was acting under orders from Rear Admiral Du Pont to test the new ironclads; though McAllister was an important objective itself, Du Pont was primarily readying his forces for the spring assault on Charleston-for the success of which the Department relied greatly on the monitor class vessels. Worden, unable to proceed within close range of the fort because of formidable sunken obstructions which “from appearances” were “protected by torpedoes,” engaged for four hours before withdrawing. Worden reported that the Confederate fire was “very fine, striking us quite a number of times, doing us no damage.”

Du Pont wrote to Benjamin Gerhard: “The monitor was struck some thirteen or fourteen times, which would have sunk a gunboat easily, but did no injury whatever to the Montauk-speaking well for the impenetrability of those vessels though the distance was greater than what could constitute a fair test. But the slow firing, the inaccuracy of aim, for you can’t see to aim properly from the turret…. give no corresponding powers of aggression…. I asked myself this morning while quietly dressing, if one ironclad cannot take eight guns– how are five to take 147 guns in Charleston harbor.”

CSS Alabama, Captain Semmes, captured and burned brig Chastelaine off Alta Vela in the Carib-bean Sea. Chastelaine was en route to Cienfuegos, Cuba, to take on sugar and rum for delivery in Boston.

USS Hope, Master John E. Rockwell, seized blockade running British schooner Emma Tuttle off Charleston.

JANUARY 28 Secretary Welles noted that the official report of the 1 January Confederate attack at Galveston had not yet come in, but added: “Farragut has prompt, energetic, excellent qualities, but no fondness for written details or self-laudation; does but one thing at a time, but does that strong and well; is better fitted to lead an expedition through danger and difficulty than to command an extensive blockade; is a good officer in a great emergency, will more willingly take great risks in order to obtain great results than any officer in high position in either Navy or Army, and unlike most of them, prefers that others should tell the story of his welldoing rather than relate it himself.”

USS Sagamore, Lieutenant-Commander English, captured and destroyed blockade running British sloop Elizabeth at the mouth of Jupiter inlet, Florida.

JANUARY 29 USS Lexington, Lieutenant-Commander Samuel L. Phelps, and other gunboats on the Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers continued to convoy Army transports and maintain supply lines. During one expedition between Cairo and Nashville, Phelps reported: “Meeting with a transport that had been fired upon by artillery 20 miles above Clarksville, I at once went to that point and, landing, burned a storehouse used by the rebels as a resort and cover. On leaving there to descend to Clarksville, where I had passed a fleet of thirty-one steamers with numerous barges in tow, convoyed by three light-draft gunboats under Lieutenant-Commander [LeRoy] Fitch, Lexington was fired upon by the enemy, who had two Parrott guns, and struck three times, but the rebels were quickly dislodged and dispersed. I then returned to Clarksville and, agreeable to the arrangement already made by Lieutenant-Commander Fitch, left that place at midnight with the whole fleet of boats, and reached Nashville the following night [30 January] without so much as a musket shot having been fired upon a single vessel of the fleet. Doubtless the lesson of the previous day had effected this result.”

Rear Admiral Du Pont continued to experiment with the ironclads in hopes of improving their efficiency. The smokestack of USS New Ironsides, Captain Thomas Turner, was cut to within 4 feet of the deck to leave the line of sight ahead entirely clear, rather than partially obstructed. The problems created were greater than those solved. Turner reported that”…. the alteration can not be made without seriously impairing the efficiency of this ship in action….I am inclined to believe that under any circumstances, enduring for several hours with the smokestack down the whole ship would be so filled with gas as to create much suffering and partially to disable the crew, and that it might hazard the chances of a successful expedition.” Du Pont ordered the smokestack restored. “So,” he wrote, “we will have to go it blind…. If we don’t run ashore going in, it will be because God is with us.

USS Brooklyn, Commodore H. H. Bell, with gunboats USS Sciota, Owasco, and Katahdin, tested Confederate batteries under construction at Galveston. He learned that two of the fort’s guns were capable of firing past the squadron-more than 2 1/2 miles.

USS Unadilla, Lieutenant-Commander Stephen P. Quackenbush, seized British blockade runner Princess Royal attempting to run into Charleston with a cargo of arms, ammunition, and two steam engines for ironclads. ”The P[rincess] R[oyal],” Du Pont wrote, ”we have had on our list, traced her through consular reports from the Thames to Halifax, etc. She has a valuable cargo.

JANUARY 30 USS Isaac Smith, Acting Lieutenant Francis S. Conover, conducted an expedition up the Stono River, South Carolina. Above Legareville, on her return, she was caught in a heavy cross fire, forced aground, and captured by the Confederates. USS Commodore McDonough, Lieutenant-Commander George Bacon, attempted without success to prevent the capture.

USS Commodore Perry, Lieutenant-Commander Charles W. Flusser, on a joint expedition with Army troops, landed at Hertford, North Carolina, and destroyed two bridges over the Perquimans River. As a result of the successful mission, Flusser reported: ”There are now no bridges remain-ing on the Perquimans, so that the goods sent from Norfolk to the enemy on the south side of the Chowan (by whom they are conveyed to Richmond) have to be passed over a ford, and the roads leading from that ford can be guarded by the troops at Winfield.” Three days later (2 February), Commodore Perry anchored at the mouth of the Yeopim River; two boats were sent into the river and succeeded in capturing three Confederate small boats. Two of the captures contained cargoes including salt. The constant harassment and interruption of supply lines through the Union Navy’s control of the waterways hurt the Confederacy sorely.

Grant informed Porter of a plan to cut a canal through Lake Providence, Louisiana, to effect the passage of troops to the rear of Vicksburg. “By enquiry,” he wrote, “I learn that Lake Prov-idence, which connects with Red River through Tensas Bayou, Washita [Ouachita] and Black rivers, is a wide and navigable way through. As some advantage may be gained by opening this, I have ordered a brigade of troops to be detailed for the purpose, and to he embarked as soon as possible. I would respectfully request that one of your light-draft gunboats accompany this expedition.” Porter immediately ordered USS Linden, Acting Master Thomas E. Smith, to cooperate with General Grant. The Admiral later noted of this operation: “Several transports were taken in, but there were miles of forest to work through and trees to be cut down. The swift current drove the steamers against the trees and injured them so much that this plan had to be abandoned.”

JANUARY 31 Under Flag Officer Duncan N. Ingraham, rams CSS Chicora, Commander John R. Tucker, and CSS Palmetto State, Lieutenant John Rutledge, attacked the Union blockading fleet off Charleston early in the morning in a fog. Palmetto State rammed USS Mercedita, Captain Stellwagen, and fired into her, forcing the gunboat to strike her colors in a “sinking and perfectly defenseless condition.” Chicora engaged USS Keystone State, Commander William E. LeRoy, severely crippling her before USS Memphis, Captain Pendleton G. Watmough, took her in tow “in a sinking condition.” Commander LeRoy reported: “Our steam chimneys being destroyed, our motive power was lost and our situation became critical. There were 2 feet of water in the ship and leaking badly, water rising rapidly, the forehold on fire…. I regret to report our casualties as very large, some 20 killed and 20 wounded.” USS Quaker City was damaged by a shell “which,” Commander Frailey reported, ”entered this vessel amidships about 7 feet above the water line, cutting away a portion of the guard beam and a guard brace, and thence on its course through the ship’s side, exploding in the engine room, carrying away there the starboard entablature brace, air-pump dome, and air-pump guide rod, and making sad havoc with the bulk-heads.” USS Augusta, Commander Enoch G. Parrort, took a shot “in the port side, passing a little above our boiler.” USS Housatonic, Captain William R. Taylor, engaged the two rams before they withdrew toward Charleston harbor. General P. G. T. Beauregard, who claimed in vain that the blockade had been broken, wrote Flag Officer Ingraham: “Permit me to congratulate you and the gallant officers and men under your command for your brilliant achievement of last night, which will be classed hereafter with those of the Merrimack and Arkansas.”

Major-General Horatio G. Wright wrote Commander Pennock in Cairo and noted “the impor-tance to the army service of keeping the line of the Cumberland River between its mouth and Nash-ville constantly open to the use of our steam transports, and requested that he ”assign to that portion of the river an ironclad gunboat, plated with sufficiently heavy iron to resist field artillery, to assist in the above object.” Recognizing the Army’s dependence on the gunboats, Pennock and the gunboat commanders had complied with the request before it was made. Lexington had been added to the naval forces in the River, and, the same date that Wright was making his request of Pennock, Lieutenant-Commander Fitch was advising from Smithland, Kentucky, that: “The Robb joined me yesterday at this place. Nothing very serious up Tennessee River. Have sent the Robb and St. Clair to Paducah to bring up our coal barge…. Have another large convoy to take to Nashville and one to bring down. No danger of either being blockaded by the rebels.”

CSS Retribution, Master Power, captured schooner Hanover, in West Indian waters.

 

FEBRUARY 1863

1 Ironclad USS Montauk, Commander Worden, with USS Seneca, USS Wissahickon, USS Dawn, and mortar schooner C P Williams, again tested the defences of Fort McAllister.” On the 28th of January, Worden had learned, through “a contraband,” the position of the obstructions and torpedoes which bad effectively blocked his way in the assault of 27 January. “This information,” Worden reported,” with the aid of the contraband, whom I took on board, enabled me to take up a position nearer the fort in the next attack…. ”

Ammunition supplies replenished, Montauk moved to within 600 yards of McAllister in the early morning; the gunboats took a position one and three-quarters miles below the fort. Worden opened fire at 7:45 a.m., and reported at ”7:53 a.m. our turret was hit for the first time during this action at which time the enemy were working their guns with rapidity and precision. The Confederate fire was concentrated on the ironclad, which took some 48 hits in the 4-hour engagement.

Colonel Robert H. Anderson, commanding Fort McAllister, paid tribute to the accuracy of the naval gunfire: ”The enemy fired steadily and with remarkable precision. Their fire was terrible. Their mortar fire was unusually fine, a large number of their shells bursting directly over the battery. The ironclad’s fire was principally directed at the VIII- inch columbiad, and the parapet in front of this gun was so badly breached as to leave the gun entirely exposed.”

General Beauregard added: ”For hours the most formidable vessel of her class hurled missiles of the heaviest caliber ever used in modern warfare at the weak parapet of the battery, which was almost demolished; but, standing at their guns, as became men fighting for homes, for honor, and for independence’. the garrison replied with such effect as to cripple and beat back their adversary, clad though in impenetrable armor and armed with XV and XI inch guns, supported by mortar boats whose practice was of uncommon precision.

Rear Admiral Porter wrote Secretary Welles: “I have the honor to report that, hearing that there was a lot of cotton at Point Chicot, on the Mississippi, belonging to the so-called Confederate Government, and that the agents were moving it back into the country or about to burn it, I sent up the ram Monarch, Colonel Ellet, and the Juliet, Acting Lieutenant [Edward] Shaw, and seized 250 bales, which I now have and am using to protect the boilers of those vessels that are vulnerable. There are now altogether 300 bales in the squadron, which I recommend should be sold when no longer needed and the proceeds placed in the Treasury. All cotton on the river

belongs to the rebel Government, and on that they depended to carry on the war. I recommend that it be all seized and sold for the benefit of the Government. There is authority enough on record to justify me in taking cotton under certain circumstances, but not enough to take it in all cases. Eight thousand bales will pay the expenses of the squadron per year, and I think there will be no difficulty in obtaining that amount when Colonel Ellet gets his brigade ready and we can penetrate some 6 or 8 miles into the interior, where it is all stowed away.”

Captain Percival Drayton reconnoitered the Wilmington River, Georgia, with USS Passaic and Marblehead. He reported to Du Pont: “…. I went within sight of Wassaw or Thunder-bolt, and two and a quarter miles distant when I was stopped by shallow water…. The Batteries were very extensive, and large bodies of troops drawn up on the shore. I was not fired on although quite within range; a battery which is about a mile nearer than ones I saw, was covered by the wood and I was not high enough to open it. I saw two small steamers but nothing that looked like the Fingal.” Du Pont’s ships were constantly active, enabling the Union forces to prevent the Confederates from launching a decisive counteroffensive along the South Atlantic coast.

USS Two Sisters, Acting Master William A. Arthur, seized sloop Richards from Havana off Boca Grande, Mexico.

USS Tahoma, Lieutenant-Commander A. A. Semmes, and USS Hendrick Hudson, Lieutenant David Cate, captured blockade running British schooner Margaret off St. Petersburg.

2 Ram USS Queen of the West, Colonel C. R. Ellet, attacked Confederate steamer City of Vicksburg, which lay under the batteries of that citadel. Ellet had hoped to get underway to make the attack before daybreak, but the necessity of readjusting the wheel put the engagement off until it was fully light and “any advantage which would have resulted from the darkness was lost to us.” The Confederates opened a heavy fire on Queen of the West as she approached the city, but succeeded in hitting her only three times before she reached the steamer. Ellet reported: ”Her position was such that if we had run obliquely into her as we came down the bow of the Queen would inevitably have glanced. We were compelled to partially round to in order to strike. The consequence was that at the very moment of collision the current, very strong and rapid at this point, caught the stern of my boat, and, acting on her bow as a pivot, swung her around so rapidly that nearly all her momentum was lost.”

Having anticipated this eventuality, Ellet had ordered the starboard gun shotted with in-cendiary shell, which now set City of Vicksburg aflame, though this was rapidly extinguished by the Confederates. City of Vicksburg fired into Queen of the West, which had bulwarks of cotton built up around her sides and one shell set the ram afire near the starboard wheel; meanwhile, the dis-charge of her own gun set Queen in flames in the bow. “The flames spread rapidly and the dense smoke rolling into the engine room suffocated the engineers. I saw that if I attempted to run into the City of Vicksburg again that my boat would certainly be burned…. After much exertion, we finally put the fire out by cutting the burning bales loose.” Queen of the West then steamed downstream under orders to destroy all Confederate vessels encountered.

Unable to ascend the Big Black River because of the narrowness of the stream, Ellet continued down the Mississippi. On 3 February, below the mouth of the Red River, he met Confeder-ate steamer A. W. Baker coming up river. Baker, “not liking the Queen’s looks,” ran ashore but was captured. She had just delivered her a cargo to Port Hudson and was returning for another. Ellet had placed a guard on board when another steamer, Moro, was seen coming down stream. “A shot across her bows,” Ellet reported, “brought her to laden with 110,000 pounds of pork, nearly 500 hogs, and a large quantity of salt, destined for the rebel army at Port Hudson.”

Running short of coal, Ellet turned back upriver, destroying 25,000 pounds of meal awaiting transportation to Port Hudson. Stopping at the mouth of the Red River to release the civilians captured on Baker and Moro, he also seized steamer Berwick Bay. She, too, carried a large a cargo for Port Hudson: 200 barrels of molasses, 10 hogsheads of sugar, 30,000 pounds of flour, and 40 bales of cotton. Ellet ordered his prizes destroyed and returned to his position below Vicksburg. Some $200,000 worth of property had been destroyed by Queen of the West.

Of the intrepid Ellet, Porter remarked: “I can not speak too highly of this gallant and daring officer. The only trouble I have is to hold him in and keep him out of danger. He will under-take anything I wish him to without asking questions, and these are the kind of men I like to command.” This was one of a series of important operations that seriously disrupted Confederate supply channels and built up to the eventual fall of Vicksburg in mid-summer.

CSS Alabama experienced a fire on board which was rapidly extinguished but which prompted Captain Semmes to write: ”The fire-bell in the night is sufficiently alarming to the landsman, but the cry of fire at sea imports a matter of life and death–especially in a ship of war, whose boats are always insufficient to carry off her crew, and whose magazine and shell-rooms are filled with powder, and the loaded missiles of death.”

USS Mount Vernon, Lieutenant James Trathen, drove blockade running schooner Industry aground off New Topsail Inlet, North Carolina, and burned her.

3 The long, tortuous Army-Navy operation against Fort Pemberton at Greenwood, Mississippi, was begun with the opening of the levee at Yazoo Pass to gain access to the Yazoo River above Haynes’ Bluff and reach Vicksburg from the rear. The next day Acting Master G. W. Brown, of USS Forest Rose, which was standing by to enter the opening, reported that “the water is gushing through at a terrible rate…. After cutting two ditches through and ready for the water, we placed a can of powder (so pounds) under the dam, which I touched off by means of three mortar fuzes joined together. It blew up immense quantities of earth, opening a passage for the water, and loosened the bottom so that the water washed it out very fast. We then sunk three more shafts, one in the entrance of the other ditch, and the other two on each side of the mound between the two ditches, and set them off simultaneously, completely shattering the mound and opening a passage through the ditch…. [creating] a channel 70 or 75 yards wide. It is thought that it will be at least four or five days before we can enter.” The plan of attack called for gunboats and Army transports to go through the Pass into Moon Lake, down the Coldwater and Tallahatchie Rivers to the Yazoo, take Pemberton, effect the capture of Yazoo City, and proceed down to assault Vicksburg on its less strongly defended rear flanks.

USS Lexington, Fairplay, St. Clair, Brilliant, Robb, and Silver Lake, under Lieutenant-Commander Fitch, supported Army troops at Fort Donelson and repulsed a Confederate attack at that point. Proceeding up the Cumberland River on convoy duty from Smithfield, Kentucky, Fitch’s squadron met steamer Wild Cat coming down river some 24 miles below Dover, Tennessee, bearing a mes-sage from Colonel Abner C. Harding, commanding at Donelson, which reported that he was being assaulted in force by Confederate troops. Fitch pushed his squadron “on up with all possible speed” and arrived in the evening to find the defending troops “out of ammunition and entirely surrounded by the rebels in overwhelming numbers, but still holding them in check.” Not expecting the presence of the gunboats, the Confederates had taken a position which enabled the mobile force afloat to rake them effectively with a telling fire from the guns. “The rebels were so much taken by surprise,” Fitch reported, “that they did not even fire a shot, but im-mediately commenced retreating. So well directed was our fire on them that they could not even carry off a caisson that they had captured from our forces, but were compelled to abandon it, after two fruitless attempts to destroy it by fire.” Fitch then stationed his vessels to prevent the return of the Southern forces.

CSS Alabama, Captain Semmes, captured and burned at sea schooner Palmetto, bound from New York to San Juan, Puerto Rico, with a cargo of provisions. Of the chase of Palmetto, Semmes said: “It was beautiful to see how the Alabama performed her task, working up into the wind’s eye, and overhauling her enemy, with the ease of a trained courser coming up with a saddle-nag.”

USS Sinoma, Commander Stevens, captured blockade running British bark Springbok off the Bahamas.

3-8 USS Tyler, Lieutenant-Commander James M. Prichett, patrolled the Yazoo River and confis-cated 113 bales of cotton. This was in keeping with Porter’s plan to seize all Confederate cotton for the dual purpose of preventing its being shipped out through the blockade and to protect the vessels of his Mississippi Squadron. Porter advised Secretary Welles: ”Three hundred more bales are in my possession, captured from rebel parties, but I am using it at present for protecting the boilers of the different boats. When no longer needed, I will forward it to Cairo.”

4 Rear Admiral Du Pont wrote Major-General David Hunter: ”Among the defects in matters of detail on the ironclads is the absence of all means of making the navy signals…. It has been suggested to me, however, that the army code, which we have on various occasions found so useful, might be employed at times on these vessels from the side not engaged or exposed at the moment. In order to effect this, I propose, if agreeable to you, that several of the young officers of the squadron should be instructed in the code, and will be greatly obliged if you will issue the necessary orders, with such restrictions as may be required.” Du Pont added, ”I learn the code now forms part of the instruction at the Naval Academy.” Hunter replied in the usual spirit of cooperation: “It will afford me sincere pleasure to comply with your request in regard to the army signal code, orders having been already issued to the chief signal officer of this De-partment to furnish all requisite facilities and instruction to such of your officers as you may assign to this service.”

USS New Era, temporarily under Acting Ensign William C. Hanford, captured steamer W. A. Knapp with a cargo of cloth at Island No. 10.

6 Rear Admiral Porter ordered Lieutenant-Commander W. Smith to command the expedition through Yazoo Pass aimed at the capture of Yazoo City as part of the planned move on Vicksburg: “You will proceed with the Rattler and Romeo to Delta, near Helena, where you will find the Forest Rose engaged in trying to enter the Yazoo Pass. You will order the Signal, now at White River, to accompany you; and if the Cricket comes down while you are at Delta, detain her also, or the Linden…. Do not engage batteries with the light vessels. The Chillicothe will do the fighting.” To this force was later added USS Baron De Kalb and Marmora and towboat S. Bayard in lieu of Cricket and Linden. “If this duty is performed as I expect it to be,” Porter wrote, ”we will strike a terrible blow at the enemy, who do not anticipate an attack from such a quarter.

Lieutenant-Commander Thomas O. Selfridge, USS Conestoga, reported intelligence gathered from a reconnaissance mission one of many which the Navy conducted to facilitate precise planning and preparation for future operations. From the information gathered by Lieutenant [Cyrenius] Dominy, of the Signal, I should judge the rebels have no heavy guns in the river up to Little Rock. A passenger told him that after the capture of the post [Arkansas Post] the gunboats were daily expected, but the idea was now generally given up. The [Confederate] ram Pontchartrain has not had steam up for some time. Some men are still at work upon her. She requires a good deal of pumping to keep her free. She has as yet no guns. She has no officers of consequence…. She is represented as being casemated with 20 inches of wood and railroad iron to abaft her wheels. [Thomas C.] Hindman is represented with 16,000 troops at Little Rock, [James] McCullough with 6,000 at Pine Bluff fortifying, [John S.] Marmaduke with 3,000 cavalry at Dardanelle. These numbers are greatly overestimated as effective troops, as Little Rock is represented as full of sick soldiers.” Selfridge also proposed an immediate attack on Little Rock and the destruction of the ram. Though his plan was not followed, both his aims were achieved during the year; Little Rock was occupied on 10 September and Pontchartrain was de-stroyed by the Confederates to prevent her capture. The Union’s ability to move on the river highways in Arkansas, as elsewhere, pinned down Confederate strength and caused constant loss.

7 Rear Admiral Porter reported to Secretary Welles: ” Vicksburg was by nature the strongest place on the river, but art has made it impregnable against floating batteries-not that the number of guns is formidable, but the rebels have placed them out of our reach, and can shift them from place to place in case we should happen to annoy them (the most we can do) in their earthworks…. The people in Vicksburg are the only ones who have as yet hit upon the method of defending themselves against our gunboats, viz, not erecting water batteries, and placing the guns some distance back from the water, where they can throw a plunging shot, which none of our ironclads could stand. I mention these facts to show the Department that there is no possible hope of any success against Vicksburg by a gunboat attack or without an investment in the rear of the city by a large army. We can, perhaps, destroy the city and public buildings, but that would bring us no nearer the desired point (the opening of the Mississippi) than we are now…. The fall of Vicksburg came only after a long combined land and water siege and attack as Porter indicated.

USS Forest Rose, Acting Master G. ‘V. Brown, succeeded in entering Yazoo Pass and proceeded into Moon Lake as far as the mouth of the Old Pass. Brown learned that Confederates were obstructing Coldwater River by felling trees across it. He reported another difficulty to Porter: ”We cannot enter the pass with this boat until the trees are trimmed and some of the overhanging trees cut down.” The density of the woods would slow the vessels greatly and damage the smokestacks and upper works severely.

In a letter to Secretary Mallory, a daring plan for a raiding expedition on the Great Lakes was proposed by Lieutenant William H. Murdaugh, CSN. Four naval officers would make their way to Canada and purchase a small steamer, man her with Canadians, and reveal the object of the cruise only when underway’. The crew was to be armed with revolvers and cutlasses. The steamer was to carry torpedoes, explosives, and incendiary materials.

At Erie, Pennsylvania, Murdaugh planned to carry USS Michigan by boarding, and then advance on Lake Ontario through the Welland Canal to destroy locks and shipping. The scheme was to pass through Lake Huron into Lake Michigan, “and make for the great city of Chicago. At Chicago burn the shipping and destroy the locks of the Illinois and Michigan Canal, connecting Lake Michigan and the Mississippi River. Then turn northward, and, touching at Milwaukee and other places, Pass again into Lake Huron, go through the Sault St. Marie, and destroy the lock of the Canal of that name. Then the vessel could be run into Georgian Bay, at the bottom of which is a railway connecting with the main Canadian lines, and be run ashore and destroyed.” The bold venture was approved by the Navy Department, but, as Lieutenant Murdaugh wrote, President Davis believed that ”it would raise such a storm about the violation of the neutrality laws that England would be forced to stop the building of some ironclads and take rigid action against us everywhere. So the thing fell through and with it my great chance.”

Commander Ebenezer Farrand, CSN, reported to Governor John G. Shorter of Alabama the success-ful launching of ironclads CSS Tuscaloosa and Huntsville at Selma, ”amid enthusiastic cheering.” Both warships were taken to Mobile.

USS Glide, Acting Ensign Charles B. Dahlgren, was destroyed accidentally by fire at Cairo, Illinois.

8 USS Commodore McDonough, Lieutenant-Commander Bacon, and an Army transport reconnoitered the Stono and Folly Rivers, South Carolina, at the request of Major-General John G. Foster and “discovered that the enemy had not taken advantage of our absence to erect any new batteries.”

9 Illustrative of the continuing, vital importance of the inland rivers was the report of Lieutenant-Commander Fitch, commanding USS Fairplay, from Smithfield, Kentucky: “I have the honor to report my return from Nashville, having landed in safety at that place with some 45 steamers. This makes 73 steamers and 16 barges we have convoyed safely to Nashville since the river has been navigable for our boats.”

Rear Admiral Du Pont wrote Secretary Welles of the difficulties in obtaining logistical support for his blockading squadron a major problem for all naval commanders: “Our requisitions for general stores, I have reason to believe, are immediately attended to by the bureaus in the Department but there seem to be unaccountable obstacles to our receiving them…. We have been out of oil for machinery. Coal is not more essential…. We were purchasing from transports or wherever it could be found, two or three barrels at a time. Finally the Union came with some, but it was stored under her a cargo and the captain wished to defer its delivery until his return from the Gulf, which, however, I would not allow. The vessel was to have brought important parts of the ration, such as sugar, coffee, flour, butter, beans and dried fruit with clothing but she did not. The articles named are exhausted on the store ships of this squadron. My commanding officers complain that their wants are not supplied, and I have been so tried by the increasing demands for articles which I could not supply that I can defer no longer addressing the Department on the subject.”

USS Cocur de Lion, Acting Master Charles H. Brown, captured blockade running schooner Emily Murray off Machodoc Creek, Virginia, with a cargo of lumber, sugar, and whisky.

10 Confederate troops disabled ram Dick Fulton at Cypress Bend, Arkansas, by gunfire.

11 Rear Admiral Porter was continually concerned with supply problems. He wrote Commander Pennock at Cairo: ”As circumstances occur I have to change the quantity of coal required here and find it impossible to hit upon any particular quantity. It is likely that we shall want a large amount, and I want a stack of 160,000 bushels sent to the Yazoo River, besides the monthly allowance already required, viz, 70,000 bushels here, 40,000 at White River and 20,000 at Mem-phis.” Stressing the need to have logistic support rapidly available for his mobile forces, Porter added: “You will also have the Abraham filled up with three months’ provisions and stores for the squadron, or as much as she can carry, and keep her ready at all times with her machinery in order and in condition to move at a moment’s notice to such point as I may designate. Circumstances may occur when it will be necessary to move the wharf boat, and you will arrange for the most expeditious plan to do so…. You will see from what I have written the importance of carrying out my order to the letter, for much depends on my being in such a position with the squadron that I can not be hampered, and can be in a condition to move where I please.”

12 As on the East Coast and on the western waters at and above Vicksburg, great demands were placed on Farragut’s fleet in the lower Mississippi and along the Gulf coast. Farragut observed: ”Everyone is calling on me to send them vessels, which reminds me of the remark of the musician, ‘It is very easy to say blow! blow! but where the devil is the wind to come from?’

Starting to visit his blockading units at Ship Island, Mobile, and Pensacola, Farragut was called back to New Orleans by conditions at Vicksburg. He wrote Secretary Welles:”…. I have the same appeal made to me from all quarters, viz, for more force. The ships are all out of coal, and the enemy threatens to attack us. The Susquchanna has kept on the blockade, to my astonish-ment. I had hoped that the Colorado would have been here to relieve her before this. My force in this river is reduced to the fixed force of the Pensacola and Portsmouth and the Hartford, Richmond, Essex, and three gunboats, viz, Kineo, Albatross, and Winona. This is a very small force to give protection to the river commerce and be ready to pass or attack the batteries on the river. Com-modore H. H. Bell does not think it prudent to leave Galveston without a ship, and Commodore [Robert B.] Hitchcock does not think it proper to leave Mobile without a ship, as the enemy have doubtless a much stronger force inside than we have outside. Still, they would not come out except on a very calm day. The moment that I can withdraw a ship from the river I will do so, as the gunboats will be all-sufficient when Port Hudson and Vicksburg are taken and the other high points on the river occupied to prevent the enemy from fortifying them.”

USS Queen of the West, Colonel C. R. Ellet, steamed up Red River and ascended Atchafalaya River where a landing party destroyed twelve Confederate Army wagons. That night, Queen of the West was fired on near Simmesport, Louisiana, Next day, Ellet returned to the scene of the attack and destroyed all the buildings on three adjoining plantations in reprisal. The vessel had previously run below Vicksburg to disrupt Confederate trade in the Red River area.

Lincoln conferred with Assistant Secretary Fox on the projected naval assault on Charleston. Two days later, the President discussed ammunition for the ironclads to be used against that port with Captain Dahlgren. Lincoln was reported to be “restless about Charleston.”

CSS Florida, Lieutenant Maffitt, captured ship Jacob Bell in West Indian waters, bound from Foo-Chow, China, to New York with a cargo of tea, firecrackers, matting, and camphor valued at more than $2,000,000. Jacob Bell was burned on the following day.

USS Conestoga, Lieutenant-Commander Selfridge, seized steamers Rose Hambleton and Evansville off White River, Arkansas.

13 USS Indianola, Lieutenant-Commander George Brown, ran past the batteries at Vicksburg to join USS Queen of the West in blockading the Red River. Rear Admiral Porter’s instructions to Brown added: “Go to Jeff Davis’ plantation load up with all the cotton you can find and the best single male Negroes.” Towing two barges filled with coal, Indianola steamed slowly past the upper batteries undetected. Abreast the point, Indianola was sighted and a heavy fire opened upon her without effect.

Lieutenant-Commander W. Smith, commanding the light draft expedition into Yazoo Pass, arrived at ‘Helena, Arkansas. Porter ordered USS Baron Dc Kalb Lieutenant-Commander J. G. Walker, to join the forces. Unable to enter the pass with his vessels, Smith observed: “A heavy army force is clearing this, which in places at turns, may not admit of our vessels getting through. Our force takes the trees from the stream while the rebels on the other end cut them from both sides to fall across. The army is expected to be through with this pass in one week.”

Commander A. Ludlow Case, USS Iroquois, reported the steady strengthening of Confederate positions in the Wilmington area. Noting that they were “working like beavers,” Case wrote: “From their apparent great energy I am induced to believe that in the event of our capture of Charleston this is to be the point for the blockade runners…. They now have four casemated batteries west of Fort Fisher completed and a fifth nearly so, each mounting two or three guns, built of heavy framework, and covered deeply with sand and sodded…. The defenses are much more formidable and much more judiciously arranged, on account of detached batteries, than those at the South Bar, Fort Caswell, etc…. If a vessel now gets inside of the blockaders she can soon run under cover of the batteries and anchor until the tide serves for crossing the bar. A few months ago this would have been impossible, the defenses at that time being such as to make an immediate crossing of the bar absolutely necessary.” Wilmington did, in fact, become the primary port for blockade runners in the last half of the Civil War for precisely this reason.

Commander James H. North, CSN, wrote from Glasgow to Secretary Mallory: “I can see no prospect of recognition from this country [Great Britain]…. If they will let us get our ships out when they are ready, we shall feel ourselves most fortunate. It is now almost impossible to make the slightest move or do the smallest thing, that the Lincoln spies do not know of it.’

USS New Era, Acting Ensign Hanford, captured steamer White Cloud, carrying Confederate mail, and steamer Rowena, carrying drugs, on the Mississippi River near Island No. 10.

14 USS Queen of the West, Colonel C. R. Ellet, patrolling the Red River, seized steamer Era No. 3 with a cargo of corn some 15 miles above the mouth of Black River. Ellet continued up river to investigate reports of the presence of three Confederate vessels at Gordon’s Landing. Queen of the West was taken under heavy fire by shore batteries. Attempting to back down river, the pilot ran her aground, directly under the Confederate guns. “The position,” Ellet wrote, “at once became a very hot one; 60 yards below we would have been in no danger. As it was, the enemy’s shot struck us nearly every time.” Queen of the West’s chief engineer reported that the escape pipe had been shot away; the steam pipe was severed. Ellet ordered the ship abandoned. A formidable vessel was now in Confederate hands.

Though efforts steadily increased to maintain the tight blockade of the Southern coast, daring Confederates stirred by patriotism and the lure of profit continued to elude the Union warships. Captain Sands, USS Dacotah, off Cape Fear River, North Carolina, reported a typical example: ”I had a picket boat from this vessel inside the bar, and one from the Monticello was anchored on the bar in 13-feet of water. The latter saw nothing of the blockade runner [Giraffe], but my picket boat, in charge of Acting Master W[illiam] Earle, saw her pass between him and the shore, and came near being run over by her soon after discovering her. The boat was an-chored in 12-feet of water on the western side of the channel, with the fort [Fort Fisher] bearing N.N.E., and the steamer passed between her and the beach, evidently having tracked the beach along, where, under cover of the dark land, she could not be seen a quarter of a mile off in the obscurity of the hour before daylight…. The Chocura was stationed at the Western Bar, the Monticello farther west, near the shore, and the Dacotah guarding the approaches to the bar. Yet neither vessel, with all their accustomed watchfulness, saw anything of the blockade runner, and it is with much chagrin that I am obliged thus to report a rebel success.

USS Forest Rose, Acting Master G. W. Brown, captured stern-wheel steamer Chippewa Valley with a cargo of cotton at Island No. 63.

Commander Clary, USS Tioga, reported the capture of blockade running British schooner Avon with a cargo including liquor near the Bahamas.

15 Rear Admiral Porter ordered Acting Lieutenant Robert Getty, USS Marmora: ”Proceed to Delta, the old Yazoo Pass, and report to Lieutenant-Commander Watson Smith as part of his expedi-tion…. If you meet any vessel taking in cotton below White River, seize vessel, cotton, and all, and leave her at White River…. By this time, as Brigadier General Gorman remarked, secrecy was “out of the question,” and it had become necessary to prepare for a more extended expedition than had been originally anticipated.

USS Sonoma, Commander Stevens, captured brig Atlantic, bound from Havana to Matamoras.

16 President Lincoln, greatly interested in the naval assault on Charleston, reviewed plans for the attack with Assistant Secretary of the Navy Fox.

17 Rear Admiral Porter wrote Secretary Welles: “I have reason to believe that the enemy’s troops at Port Hudson are in a strait for want of provisions, and if pushed by General [Nathan P.] Banks’ troops that fort will fall into our hands. It is situated in a swampy, muddy region 60 miles from any railroad, and the rains, which have exceeded anything I ever saw in my life, have rendered hauling by wagon impossible. Our vessels above them cut off all hope of supply or aid of any kind from Red River and they must, in a short time, make a retreat….” Porter’s estimate was overly optimistic. Loss of Queen of the West and other events to follow would re-open the Red River supply line so that Port Hudson sustained its position into the summer of 1863.

Confederate troops captured and burned US tug Hercules opposite Memphis. The Confederates attempted to seize seven coal barges at the same place, but were unable to “run them off,” accord-ing to Captain McGehee, commanding the Southern force, “owing to the terrific fire from the gunboats which were lying at the Memphis wharf.”

18 USS Victoria, Acting Lieutenant Edward Hooker, captured brig Minna near Shallotte Inlet, North Carolina, with a cargo of salt and drugs.

Cutter from USS Somerset, Lieutenant-Commander Alexander F. Crosman, captured blockade runner Hortense, bound from Havana to Mobile.

19 The Confederate Navy Department made a decision to mount an expedition to attempt to destroy the Union monitors at Charleston. Secretary Mallory sent the following orders to Lieutenant William A. Webb, CSN, for a strike against the Northern forces: ”Should it be deemed advisable to attack the enemy’s fleet by boarding, the following suggestions are recommended for your consideration:…. First-Row-boats and barges, of which Charleston can furnish a large number. Second-Small steamers, two or three to attack each vessel. Third-the hull of a single-decked vessel without spars, divided into several watertight compartments by cross bulk-heads, and with decks and hatches tight, may have a deckload of compressed cotton so placed on either side, and forward and aft, so as to leave a space fore and aft in the centre. A light scaffold to extend from the upper tier of cotton ten or fifteen feet over the side, and leading to the enemy’s turret when alongside the iron-clad, and over which it can be boarded, at the same time that boarding would be done from forward and aft. This could be made permanent or to lower at will. The boarding force to be divided into parties of tens and twenties, each under a leader. One of these parties to be prepared with iron wedges, to wedge between the turret and the deck; a second party to cover the pilot house with wet blankets; a third party of twenty to throw powder down the smoke-stack or to cover it; another party of twenty provided with turpentine or camphine in glass vessels to smash over the turret, and with an inextinguishable liquid fire to follow it; another party of twenty to watch every opening in the turret or deck, provided with sulphuretted cartridges, etc., to smoke the enemy out. Light ladders, weighing a few pounds only, could be provided to reach the top of the turret.”

Rear Admiral Du Pont wrote of the blockade: ”No vessel has ever attempted to tun the blockade except by stealth at night which fully established internationally the effectiveness of the blockade-but it is not sufficient for our purpose, to keep out arms and keep in cotton-unfortunately our people have considered a total exclusion possible and the government at one time seemed to think so. A cordon of ships covering the are from Bulls Bay to Stono, some twenty-one miles moored together head and stern-would do it easy but that we have not the means to accom-plish. I have forty ships of all classes, sometimes more never reaching fifty-a considerable number are incapable of keeping at sea or at outside anchorage-the wear and tear and ceaseless breaking of American machinery compared with English or even French now, keep a portion of the above always in here [Port Royal] repairing. If I had not induced the Department to estab-lish a floating machine shop, which I had seen the French have in China, the blockade would have been a total failure…. Steam however is the new element in the history of blockades, which no one at first understands, as both sides have it-but it is all in favor of the runner-he chooses his time, makes his bound and rushes through, his only danger a chance shot-while the watcher has banked fires, has chains to slip, has guns to point and requires certainly fifteen minutes to get full way on his ship. It is wonderful how many we catch, how many are wrecked, there is another on the beach now with the sea breaking over her…. ”

CSS Retribution. Acting Master Power, captured brig Emily Fisher in West Indian waters.

20 USS Crusader, Acting Master Thomas I. Andrews, captured schooner General Taylor in Mobjack Bay, Virginia.

21 Lieutenant-Commander W. Smith reported the readiness of his expedition to enter Yazoo Pass: ”Our party, consisting of the Chillicothe, Baron De Kalb, Marmora, Romeo, Forest Rose, S. Bayard (side-wheel towboat), and three barges of coal, containing 12,000, 10,000 and 5,000 bushels, are all snug at the entrance of Yazoo Pass, ready to go through the moment the stream is clear and the working boats get out of the way. A small army transport is to go through with us, with the excess of men over the 500, which the light-drafts will carry…. I expect the Signal from Memphis tonight. I am to receive the troops tomorrow. The difficulty in removing both Confederate placed and natural obstructions had slowed the proposed movement to a crawl.

CSS Alabama, Captain Semmes, captured and burned at sea ship Golden Eagle and bark Olive Jane. Of the former, Semmes wrote: “I had overhauled her near the termination of a long voyage. She had sailed from San Francisco, in ballast, for Howland’s Island, in the Pacific; a guano island of which some adventurous Yankees had taken possession. There she had taken in a cargo of guano, for Cork…. This ship [Golden Eagle had buffeted the gales of the frozen latitudes of Cape Horn, threaded her pathway among its ice-bergs, been parched with the heats of the tropic, and drenched with the rains of the equator, to fall into the hands of her enemy, only a few hundred miles from her port. But such is the fortune of war. It seemed a pity, too, to destroy so large a cargo of a fertilizer, that would else have made fields stagger under a wealth of grain. But those fields would have been the fields of the enemy, or if it did not fertilize his fields, its sale would pour a stream of gold into his coffers; and it was my business upon the high seas, to cut off, or dry up this stream of gold…. how fond the Yankees had become of the qualifying ad-jective, ‘golden,’ as a prefix to the names of their ships. I had burned the Golden Rocket, the Golden Rule, and the Golden Eagle.”

USS Thomas Freeborn, Lieutenant-Commander Samuel Magaw, and USS Dragon, Acting Master George E. Hill, engaged a Confederate battery below Fort Lowry, Virginia, while recon-noitering the Rappahannock River. Freeborn was struck and one Confederate gun was silenced.

23 Boat crews from Coast Survey schooners Caswell, William H. Dennis, and Arago, William S. Edwards, hoarded and seized blockade running schooner Glide, aground near Little Tybee Island, Georgia, with a cargo of cotton. Possession of the prize was relinquished to USS Marblehead, Lieutenant-Commander Robert ‘V. Scott, upon her arrival at the scene.

USS Dacotah, Captain Sands, and USS Monticello, Lieutenant-Commander Daniel Braine, closed Fort Caswell, North Carolina, to engage a large steamer attempting to run the blockade. The fort opened on the Union ships and an exchange of fire ensued; the steamer was out of range of the Union warships.

USS Potomska, Acting Lieutenant William Budd, captured blockade running British schooner Belle in Sapelo Sound, Georgia, with a cargo of coffee and salt.

USS Kinsman, Acting Lieutenant Wiggen, transporting a detachment of troops, struck a snag and sank in Berwick Bay, Louisiana. Six men were reported missing.

24 CSS William H. Webb and Queen of the West, with CSS Beatty in company, engaged USS Indianola, Lieutenant-Commander G. Brown, below Wartenton, Mississippi. The Confederate squadron, under Major Joseph L. Brent, CSA, had reached Grand Gulf just 4 hours behind the Northern vessel which was returning upstream to communicate with Rear Admiral Porter above Vicksburg.
Knowing his speed was considerably greater than that of Indianola, Brent determined to attempt overtaking the ironclad and attacking her that night Shortly before 10 pm. the Con-federate vessels were seen from Indianola and Brown “immediately cleared for action…. Queen of the West opened the action, attempting to ram the Indianola; she knifed into the coal barge lashed to the ship’s port side and cut it in two but did little damage to Indianola. Webb dashed up and rammed Indianola at full speed. The impact swung Indianola around; Queen of the West again struck only a glancing blow. Queen of the West maneuvered into a position to ram, this time astern, and succeeded in shattering the framework of the starboard wheelhouse and loosening iron plating. At this time Webb completed circling upstream in order to gain momen-tum and rammed Indianola, crushing the starboard wheel, disabling the starboard rudder, and starting a number of leaks.

Being in what Brown termed “an almost powerless condition,” Indianola was allowed to fill with water to assure her sinking, run on to the west bank of the river and surrendered to Lieutenant Colonel Frederick B. Brand of CSS Beatty, which had been “hovering round to enter the fight when an opportunity offered.” Loss of Indianola was keenly felt. Secretary Welles wrote Porter: ”The disastrous loss of the Indianola may, if she has not been disabled, involve the most serious results to the fleet below.” Porter expressed the view: “The importance of this move to our army here can not be estimated. We had already broken the communications of the enemy in Texas with Vicksburg and Port Hudson. We had cut off all supplies and means of transportation, having destroyed some of their best boats. In a week more the water would have surrounded Port Hudson, and there being no means of getting away, they would have been obliged to evacuate in time. We hoped in a short time to force this thing by getting one or two more gunboats below, and troops enough to land close to Port Hudson. That place evacuated, General Banks could have ascended the river…. There is no use to conceal the fact, but this has in my opinion, been the most humiliating affair that has occurred during this rebellion.
My only hope is that she has blown up.” This ended Porter’s move to blockade the Red River by detached vessels while he kept the body of the fleet above Vicksburg. The South also held Queen of the West and had bright prospects for raising Indianola and placing her in a serviceable condition.

A deserter from Confederate receiving ship Selma gave the following information about submarine experiments and operations being conducted by Horace L. Hunley, James R. McClintock, B. A. Whitney, and others, at Mobile, where the work was transferred following the fall of New Orleans to Rear Admiral Farragut: ”On or about the 14th an infernal machine, consisting of a submarine boat propelled by a screw which is turned by hind, capable of holding five persons. and having a torpedo which was to be attached to the bottom of the vessel, left Fort Morgan at 8 p.m. in charge of a Frenchman who invented it. The invention was to come up at Sand Island, get the bearing and distance of the neatest vessel.” He added that this failed but that other attempts would be made. This submarine went down in rough weather off Fort Morgan, but no lives were lost. Hunley and his colleagues built another in the machine shop of Park and Lyons, Mobile; this was to be the celebrated H. P. Hunley, the first submarine to sink an enemy vessel in combat.

Cutters from USS Mahaska, Lieutenant Elliot C. V. Blake, captured and destroyed sloop Mary Jane and barge Ben Bolt in Back Creek, York River, Virginia.

USS State of Georgia, Commander James F. Armstrong, seized blockade running British schooner Annie at sea off Cape Romain, South Carolina, with a cargo of salt and drugs.

Rear Admiral Theodorus Bailey, commanding the East Gulf Blockading Squadron, reported the capture of schooner Stonewall by U.S S. Tahoma, Lieutenant-Commander A. A. Semmes, near Key West.

24-25 USS Conemaugh, Lieutenant-Commander Thomas H. Eastman, chased blockade running British steamer Queen of the Wave aground neat the mouth of the North Santee River, South Carolina. Unable to get Queen of the Wave off the bar, he destroyed her on 7 March.

25 The light draft gunboat expedition entered Yazoo Pass after a lengthy delay while Army troops cleared away obstructions in the river. Reporting to Rear Admiral Porter the next day, Lieu-tenant Commander W. Smith briefly noted some of the difficulties encountered: “If we get through this with our casemates still up and wheels serviceable, it will be as much as can reasonably be expected. There is about room for one of your tugs handled skillfully. Our speed is necessarily less than the current, as backing is our only and constant resort against dangers and to pass the numerous turns. This gives every vagrant log a chance to foul our wheels, and as many do foul them; delays are frequent. Our damages so far, though not serious, are felt.”

Confederates worked feverishly to raise ex-USS Indianola. CSS Queen of the West was sent up river to Vicksburg to obtain a pump and other materials, but soon was seen returning below Warrenton. She brought news of a large Union “gunboat” passing the Vicksburg batteries and approaching the small Confederate squadron. According to Colonel Wirt Adams, CSA, “All the vessels at once got underway in a panic, and proceeded down the river, abandoning without a word the working party and fieldpieces on the wreck.” He continued: “The Federal vessel did not approach nearer than 2,’2 miles, and appeared very apprehensive of attack.”
After making further fruitless efforts to free Indianola of water, the next evening the work-ing patty fired the heavy XI-inch Dahlgren guns into each other and burned her to the water line. The Union ruse had worked. The “gunboat” was a barge, camouflaged to give the appearance of a formidable vessel of war, that Rear Admiral Porter had floated down river. A Con-federate paper reported bitterly: “The Yankee barge sent down the river last week was reported to be an ironclad gunboat. The authorities, thinking that this monster would retake the India-nola, immediately issued an order to blow her up…. It would really seem we had no use for gunboats on the Mississippi, as a coal barge is magnified into a monster, and our authorities immediately order a boat that would have been worth a small army to us-to be blown up.

USS Vanderbilt, Acting Lieutenant Charles H. Baldwin, seized blockade running British steamer Peterhoff off St. Thomas. An international dispute arose as to the disposition of the mails carried on board the steamer, and eventually Lincoln ruled that they should be returned to the British. Though Peterhoff was initially condemned as a lawful prize, some 4 years later this decision was reversed.

27 CSS Alabama, Captain Semmes, captured and released on bond ship Washington in the mid-Atlantic. Semmes noted: “She was obstinate, and compelled me to wet the people on her poop, by the spray of a shot, before she would acknowledge that she was beaten.”

28 USS Montauk, Commander Worden, supported by USS Wissahickon, Seneca, and Dawn, shelled and destroyed blockade runner Rattlesnake, formerly CSS Nashville, lying under the guns of Fort McAllister in the Ogeechee River. For some 8 months Rattlesnake had been lying at the fort, awaiting an opportunity to run the blockade. The day before (27 February), Worden had noticed Rattlesnake’s renewed movements above McAllister; subsequent reconnaissance indicated that the vessel had grounded. “Believing that I could, by approaching close to he battery,” Worden reported, “reach and destroy her with my battery, I moved up at daylight this morning…. The Union squadron found Rattlesnake still aground, and, under heavy fire from the fort, began bombarding her. The gunboats contributed enfilading fire from long range. Within 20 minutes Rattlesnake was aflame. Montauk dropped down river about 8:30 and struck a torpedo. The explosion-described by her Second Assistant Engineer, Thomas A. Stephans, as “violent, sudden” – fractured the iron hull and caused sufficient damage to warrant running Montauk onto a mud bottom to effect repairs. About 9:30, Rattlesnake’s magazine ignited and the vessel blew up “with terrific violence, shattering her smoking ruins.” Thus occurred the “final disposition,” as Worden wrote, “of a vessel which has so long been in the minds of the public as a troublesome pest.

The Navy portion of the expedition through Yazoo Pass reached the Coldwater River and spent the next 2 days (through 2 March) waiting for the Army transports to join up. The time was utilized in making repairs on damaged smokestacks and wheels, in readying the rams Fulton and Lioness which, along with gunboat USS Petrel, had joined on the 28th, and in collecting bales of cotton for protecting the bulwarks of the vessels.

USS Wyandank, Acting Master Andrew J. Frank, captured schooners Vista and
A.W. Thompson at Piney Point, Virginia.

USS New Era, Acting Ensign Hanford, seized steamer Curlew, at Island No. 10 in the Mississippi River.

 

MARCH 1863

2 Rear Admiral Farragut wrote Secretary Welles from New Orleans: ”I have recently seen persons from Mobile, and they all concur in the statement that provisions are very high, and very scarce even at those high figures. Flour, $100 per barrel; bacon and meat of every kind, $1 per pound; meal, $20 per sack.” Farragut, chafing under the relative inactivity of “doing nothing but blockading,” also advised the Secretary of his planned operations, writing that he would attack Galveston as soon as there were sufficient troops. “At present,” he added, ”I am all ready to make an attack on or run the batteries at Port Hudson, so as to form a junction with the army and navy above Vicksburg…. The army of General Banks will attack by land or make a reconnaissance in force at the same time that we run the batteries…. My first object will be destroy the boats and cut off the supplies from the Red River. We expect to move in less than a week. I shall take the four ships, Hartford, Mississippi, Richmond, and Monongahela, and three gunboats and the Brooklyn, if she arrives in time.”

Amidst the ever-present difficulties of command on the western waters, Rear Admiral Porter found time to be concerned with the wellbeing of private citizens. He instructed Lieutenant-Commander Selfridge, USS Conestoga: “Mrs. Twiddy, at Wilson and Mitchell’s Landing, Bolivar, has 130 bales of cotton which she is desirous of sending to Cairo. This cotton must be seized the same as all other cotton and turned over to the civil authorities at Cairo, and, after has been sold, Mrs. Twiddy can, by proving her loyalty to the Government, receive the value for it. She has also permission to go up to Cairo herself and take all her effects. If it is necessary, a gunboat will protect herself and property. When she is ready to go she will hoist a white flag, but you had better run down there occasionally and see how she is getting on. You will make a full report to me of all the particulars of this case….” Three weeks later, USS Bragg took Mrs. Twiddy, her cotton, and her personal effects to Cairo.

CSS Alabama, Captain Semmes, captured and burned at sea ship John A. Parks, after transferring on board Alabama provisions and stores. Semmes remarked that this capture threw Alabama’s carpenter into ”ecstasies” since the a cargo included white pine lumber; “…. if I had not put some restraint on my zealous officer of the adze and chisel, I believe he would have converted the Alabama into a lumberman.”

Surgeon Ninian Pinkney, USN, informed Porter that he had succeeded, “after a most fatiguing time,” in obtaining the Commercial Hotel in Memphis for use by the Navy as a hospital. “It is, he reported, ”admirably located and well adapted for hospital purposes.” Such facilities together with hospital ship Red Rover, greatly increased the Navy’s capability to care for the sick and injured in the fleet.

3 Ironclads USS Passaic, Nahant, and Patapsco, with three mortar boats and gunboats USS Seneca, Dawn, and Wissahickon, under Captain Drayton, again engaged Fort McAllister at Savannah for 6 hours, Rear Admiral Du Pont held that the series of engagements was vital ”before enter-ing upon more important operations -the assault on Charleston, Du Pont wanted to subject the ironclads to the stresses and strains of battle, as well as give the crews additional gunnery practice.

Lieutenant-Commander W. Smith’s Yazoo Pass expedition moved down the Coldwater River. ”We are advancing hut slowly,” he reported. ”This stream is not so much wider or clearer than the pass as to make much difference in either speed or the amount of damage inflicted on these vessels, Our hull has suffered as much to-day as on any day yet. We can only advance with the current; faster than that brings us foul. Our speed is not more than 1 1/2 miles per hour, if that. Wheels and stacks have escaped through care, but with over 200 feet above water, and less than 3 in it, without steerageway, light winds play with us, bringing the sides and trees in rough contact. I imagine that the character of this navigation is different from what was ex-pected. We will get through in fighting condition, but so much delayed that all the advantages of a surprise to the rebels will have been lost.”

Commenting on the loss of Indianola the preceding month, Assistant Secretary Fox wrote Du Pont: ”These disasters must come, they are sure to follow a long course of uninterrupted success and we will look at them at the Department with a determination that they shall not lead us to doubt either ultimate victory or the brave officers and men who will surely win it.”

Rear Admiral Porter wrote Fox from above Vicksburg: “There is delightful concert here between the Army and Navy. Grant and Sherman are on board almost every day…. we agree in everything, and they are disposed to do everything for us they can, they are both able men, and I hope sincerely for the sake of the Union that nothing may occur to make a change here.”

Boat crew under Acting Master’s Mate George Drain from USS Matthew Vassar destroyed a large boat at Little River Inlet, North Carolina. Proceeding up the western branch of the river to destroy salt works, the boat grounded and the crew was captured by Confederate troops.

4 USS James S. Chambers, Acting Master Luther Nickerson, seized blockade running Spanish sloop Relampago and schooner Ida. The schooner, beached at Sanibel Island, Florida, when she could not escape, was destroyed by the crew of James S. Chambers.

5 The Yazoo Pass expedition neared the junction of the Coldwater and Tallahatchie Rivers. Lieu-tenant Commander W. Smith reported: ”The river is clearer, and we make better speed. If we reach the Tallahatchie this evening, which our advance may do, our total distance from Delta will be but 50 miles, not 6 miles per day…. I hope to make better speed from this time through.” The next evening found Smith’s forces some 12 miles down the Tallahatchie, where he was compelled to leave USS Petrel because of damage to her wheel; Petrel was reported once again ”in line” on the 10th after rapid repairs.

Captain Sands, USS Dacotah, reported the appearance at New Inlet, on the Cape Fear River of a Confederate ironclad. ”I would feel somewhat more at ease,” he wrote Rear Admiral S. P. Lee, “if we had an ironclad at each of these main inlets to Cape Fear River, to fend off an attack upon the wooden vessels by this Confederate ram, although, without such aid, we will do our best to prevent its success. But without some such assistance the blockade may be at any time broken by even this single yet formidable (because ironclad) ram.” Sands later reported that the ram had had to return inside the Cape Fear River ”because she could not stand the sea.”

USS Lockwood returned to New Bern, North Carolina, from an expedition up the Pungo River where a bridge was destroyed, ”which the enemy had built to facilitate the removal of the prod-ucts from that section into the interior,” and some arms, stores, and a small schooner were captured.

USS Aroostook, Lieutenant-Commander Samuel R. Franklin, chased blockade running sloop Josephine, forced her aground near Fort Morgan, Mobile Bay, and, with USS Pocahontas, Lieu-tenant Commander Gamble, destroyed her by gunfire.

6 Major-General Hunter wrote Rear Admiral Du Pont, requesting naval support for “an important mission in the southerly part of this department [the Union Army’s Department of the South]….” On the 10th, USS Norwich and Uncas convoyed the troop transports up the St. John’s River where the soldiers were landed and again occupied Jacksonville, Florida. Commander James M. Duncan reported: “In the afternoon of that day some skirmishing took place outside of the town, upon which I threw several shell in the supposed direction of the enemy, which very soon dispersed them. During the next day,” he added cryptically, “another skirmish took place with the like result.”

CSS Florida, Lieutenant Maffitt, captured and fired ship Star of Peace bound from Calcutta to Boston with a cargo of saltpeter and hides.

7 The capture of blockade runners caused Rear Admiral S. P. Lee, commanding the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron, a shortage of officers. “Owing to the increase of blockade runners off the coast of North Carolina, and frequent captures made of them, I would request that six officers capable of taking charge of prizes may be ordered to this squadron. The vessels blockading off Cape Fear are greatly in want of them, owing to the number they have heretofore sent away in prizes, which leaves our vessels very deficient in officers.”

8 USS Sagamore, Lieutenant-Commander English, captured sloop Enterprise bound from Mosquito Inlet, Florida, to Nassau with a cargo of cotton.

9 Commander Pennock, Fleet Captain of the Mississippi Squadron, informed Lieutenant-Commander Fitch, USS Lexington, of reports of proposed Confederate action along the Tennessee: “You will have to keep a good watch soon on the Tennessee River. The enemy’s plan is to fall back on Tennessee with all the forces they can raise, and deal Rosecrans a crushing blow. Now we must keep all the vessels you can spare up the Tennessee as high as they can go. The chance is the enemy will cross over somewhere as high up as Decatur [Alabama]. At all events get all the information you can, and be ready to meet them…. I do not think the rebels will attempt to cross into Tennessee if we have two boats at Decatur, another at Waterloo. Both these points command important railroads…. The time has come when we must begin to drive the rebels off the banks of the Tennessee.”

Though the low water in the river did not allow the gunboats to go up the Tennessee as far as Decatur, by the 14th Rear Admiral Porter informed Secretary Welles: ”The entire Mississippi banks have been alive with guerrillas, and we have successfully guarded every point and driven them [back]; and my object is to keep them away. As fast as the vessels are bought and fitted they are now sent to the Cumberland and Tennessee. We are doing all we can for General Rosecrans, and will, as heretofore done, keep him supplied. The only trouble is want of men. We can get the vessels faster than we can get crews.”

USS Bienville, Commander J. R. Madison Mullany, captured schooner Lightning south of Port Royal with a cargo of coffee and salt. continued to engage the fort some 3 more hours before withdrawing. Lieutenant Colonel James H. Wilson, USA, remarked: “The rebel position is a strong one by virtue of the difficulties of approach….” The gunboats were unable to bring their full fire power to bear on the works, and the Army was unable to render effective assistance. Thus, though the fort was damaged by the attack, the follow up operations could not be pressed to force withdrawal.

Rear Admiral Du Pont wrote Professor Alexander D. Bache of the Coast Survey with reference to the projected Charleston attack and the ironclads: “We are steadily preparing for the great experiment, to see whether 20 guns, counting one broadside of the Ironsides, can silence or overcome some hundreds. I am not without hope, but would have more, were it not for obstructions unfortunately the Army can give us no assistance. I did a very wise thing, though I think not many persons in my place would have done it-in trying the ironclads, four of them at least, against a live target in the shape of Fort McAllister. The experience has been invaluable, for they were wholly unfit to go into action-some things arc not encouraging as they might be, but it is a great thing to know your tools, forewarned, etc. Then Dahlgren writes the life of his fifteen inch [gun] is 300 [firings]! This is about the worst thing yet-for I look for such pounding as done to the Montauk, today, by the torpedo-it is bad and hard to mend-but we can, we think, close the leak from the inside for the present. Our papers instructed the rebels at what spot to aim at and they did exactly but I have sent for more iron-all this, entre nous-I thought you would like a few words on the subject. One word more-nothing is more difficult for me to explain than the indisposition on the part of the inventors, who are often men of genius to wish to exclude from all knowledge or participation, the very people who are to use and give effect to their instruments and inventions. I saw an amendment to a Senate bill to exclude the submitting of some plans for iron ships to Navy officers! Now if Mr. [John] Ericsson could have had such men as Drayton and John Rodgers at his elbow from the beginning, these vessels would have been much better to handle….”

CSS Florida, Lieutenant Maffitt, captured and burned ship Aldebaran, from New York, near 290 N., 510 W., with a cargo of provisions and clocks.

USS Huntsville, Acting Lieutenant William C. Rogers, seized blockade running British schooner Surprise off Charlotte Harbor, Florida, bound for Havana with a cargo of cotton.

USS Octorara, Commander Collins, seized blockade running British schooner Florence Nightingale with a cargo of cotton in the North East Providence Channel, Bahama Islands.

13-14 Confederate troops launched a surprise night attack against Fort Anderson on the Neuse River, North Carolina. Union gunboats USS Hunchback, Hetzel, Ceres, and Shawsheen, supported by a revenue cutter and an armed schooner, forced the Confederates to break off their heavy assault and withdraw. Colonel Jonathan S. Belknap, USA, wrote Commander Henry K. Davenport: “Your well-directed fire drove the enemy from the field; covered the landing of the Eighty-fifth New York, sent to the relief of the garrison, and the repulse of the rebel army was complete. Allow me, commodore, in the name of the officers and men of my command, to express my admiration of the promptitude and skill displayed by your command on that occasion The Army is proud of the Navy.”

14 Rear Admiral Farragut with his squadron of seven ships attacked the strong Confederate works at Port Hudson, attempting to effect passage. With typical thoroughness, the Admiral had inspected his squadron the day before” to see that all arrangements had been made for battle,” and consulted with Major-General Banks. His general order for the passage had previously been written and dis-tributed to each commanding officer. Just before the attack, Farragut held a conference with the commanders on board the flagship and then received word from General Banks that he was in position and ready to begin an attack ashore in support of the passage. The mortars had begun to fire. Shortly after 10 p.m., the fleet was underway, the heavier hips, Hartford, Richmond, and Monongahela to the inboard or fort side of the smaller Albatross, Genesee, and Kineo. Mississippi brought up the rear.

Moving up the river ”in good style,” Hartford, with Albatross lashed alongside, weathered the hail of shot from the batteries. Major-General Franklin Gardner, commanding at Port Hudson, noted: She returned our fire boldly.” Passing the lower batteries, the current nearly swung the flagship around and grounded her, “but,” Farragut reported, “backing the Albatross, and going ahead strong on this ship, we at length headed her up the river.” Though able to bring only two guns to bear on the upper batteries, Farragut successfully passed those works.

Following the flagship closely, Richmond took a hit in her steam plant, disabling her. “The turning point [in the river] was gained,” Commander Alden reported, “but I soon found, even with the aid of the Genesee, which vessel was lashed alongside, that we could make no headway against the strong current of the river, and suffering much from a galling cross fire of the enemy’s batteries, I was compelled though most reluctantly, to turn back, and by the aid of the Genesee soon anchored our of the range of their guns.” Next in line, Monongahela ran hard aground under Port Hudson’s lower batteries where she remained for nearly half an hour, taking severe punishment. At least eight shots passed entirely through the ship. The bridge was shot from underneath Captain James P. McKinstry, injuring him and killing three others. With Kineo’s aid, Monongahela was floated and attempted to resume her course upriver. “We were nearly by the principal battery,” Lieutenant Nathaniel W. Thomas, the executive officer wrote, ”when the crank pin of the forward engine was reported heated, and the engine stopped, the chief engineer reporting that he was unable to go ahead.” The ship became unmanageable and drifted downstream, where she anchored out of range of the Confederate guns.

Meanwhile, on board USS Mississippi, Captain Melancton Smith saw Richmond coming downstream but, because of the heavy smoke of the pitched battle, was unable to sight Monongahela. Thinking she had steamed ahead to close the gap caused by Richmond’s leaving the line ahead formation, he ordered his ship “go ahead fast” to close the supposed gap In doing so, Mississippi ran aground and despite every effort could not be brought off. After being fired in four places, she was abandoned. At 3 a.m., Mississippi was seen floating in flames slowly down river; 22 hours later, she blew up, ”producing an awful concussion which was felt for miles around.” Lieutenant George Dewey, destined to become hero of Manila Bay in 1898, was First Lieutenant of Mississippi. Thus ended one of the war’s fiercest engagements; only Hartford and Albatross had run the gannet.

Rear Admiral Porter, ”having made arrangements with General Grant by which the army could cooperate with us” as the Yazoo Pass expedition faltered, launched the difficult and hazardous Steele’s Bayou, Mississippi, expedition aimed at gaining entrance to the Yazoo River for the purpose of taking Vicksburg from the rear. The expedition comprising USS Louisville, Cincinnati, Carondelet, Pittsburg, Mound City, four mortars and four tugs-made its way to Black Bayou, “a place about 4 miles long leading into Deer Creek.” At that point further progress was impeded by the dense forest. Porter set his men to clearing the way by pulling up the trees or pushing them over with the ironclads. ”It was terrible work,” he reported to Welles, “but in twenty-four hours we succeeded in getting through these 4 miles and found ourselves in Deer Creek, where we were told there would be no more difficulties.”

Boat crews under Acting Master Andrews, commanding USS Crusader, on an expedition to Milford Haven, Virginia, destroyed a blockade running schooner without cargo.

15 Armed boats from USS Cyane, Lieutenant-Commander Paul Shirley, boarded and seized schooner J. M. Chapman, preparing to get underway from San Francisco. J. M. Chapman was suspected of having been outfitted as a Confederate commerce raider. She was found to have a crew of 4, and below decks 17 more men were concealed together with a cargo of guns, ammunition, and other military stores. Shirley reported that he discharged the a cargo and confined the prisoners on Alcatraz.

CSS Alabama, Captain Semmes, captured and released on bond ship Punjaub, from Calcutta for London, northeast of Brazil.

16 USS Chillicothe, Lieutenant-Commander J. P. Foster, resumed the attack on Fort Pemberton, Mississippi In a brief engagement, the gunboat was struck eight time which rendered her guns unworkable and forced her to retire. Foster reported, ‘The Chillicothe’s loss on the 11th, 13th, and today is 22 killed, wounded, and drowned.” Next day, the Yazoo Pass expedition fell back, and no further major effort was mounted against the Confederate position. The Army was unable to land because the country was flooded. Brigadier General Isaac F. Quinby shortly ordered the troops withdrawn and on 10 April the Confederate defenders could report “Yazoo Pass expedition abandoned.”

Rear Admiral Porter later analyzed the results of the undertaking: Although some cotton was taken, ”the result was a failure in the main object. The enemy burned two large steamers [Parallel and Magnolia] loaded with cotton…. built two formidable forts, Pemberton and Greenwood on the Tallahatchie and Yallabusha [sic], and blocked the way effectually. General Pemberton showed a great deal of ability in his defense of Vicksburg, all through, and won the respect of his opponents by his zeal and fidelity to his cause, to say nothing of his spirit of endurance. But in nothing did he show more energy than in watching the Federal tactics, and guarding against all attempts made to turn his flanks, especially by way of the streams which would have commanded the approaches to Vicksburg if held by the enemy. Pemberton took care that these passes should never be left unguarded in the future.”

Reporting to Secretary Welles on the passage of Port Hudson, Rear Admiral Farragut wrote: Concerning the Hartford, I cannot speak too highly of her captain, officers, and crew. All did their duty as far as came under my observation, and more courage and zeal I have never seen displayed. The officers set a good example to their men, and their greatest difficulty was to make them understand why they could not fire when the smoke was so dense that the pilot could not navigate…. To the good firing of the ships we owe most of our safety, for, according to my theory, the best way to save yourself is to injure your adversary…. Welles replied: ”The Department congratulates you and the officers and men of the Hartford upon the gallant passage of the Port Hudson batteries…. Although the remainder of your fleet were not successful in following their leader, the Department can find no fault with them. All appear to have behaved gallantly, and to have done everything in their power to secure success. Their failure can only be charged to the difficulties in the navigation of the rapid current of the Mississippi, and matters over which they had no control.”

General Grant ordered troops under Major-General W. T. Sherman to cooperate with Porter’s gunboats as the expedition attempted to force its way from Steele’s Bayou into the Yazoo River. “The ironclads,” Sherman noted, “push their way along unharmed, but the trees and overhanging limbs tear the wooden boats all to pieces.” The troops rendered great assistance to the ships in helping to clear Black Bayou and entangled obstructions.

USS Octorara, Commander Collins, seized sloop Rosalie and schooner Five Brothers with a cargo of cotton at sea east of Florida.

18 USS Wissahickon, Lieutenant-Commander John L. Davis, seized and destroyed steamer Georgiana attempting to run the blockade into Charleston with a valuable a cargo including rifled guns.

Georgiana was said to be pierced for 14 guns and earlier consular reports indicated that “she is an armed vessel intended for a cruise against our merchantmen.” Described as a swift vessel, she was termed ”another confederate to the pirate Alabama.” Upon hearing of her fate, Secretary Welles wrote Rear Admiral Du Pont: “I am exceedingly gratified with the confirmation of the destruction of the Georgiana. It would have been better would she have been captured but the fact that she is disposed of is a relief. We had serious apprehensions in regard to her. In disposing of both her and the Nashville you have rendered great service to our commerce, for had they got abroad they would have made sad havoc with our shipping. We shall have an account to settle with John Bull one of these days for this war which is being carried on against us by British capital and by Englishmen under the Confederate flag.”

19 Rear Admiral Farragut in USS Hartford, with U.SS. Albatross in company, engaged Confederate batteries at Grand Gulf as the ships steamed up the Mississippi toward Vicksburg. After suc-cessfully passing the heavy Confederate works at Port Hudson, Farragut bad proceeded to the mouth of the Red River on the 16th. Next day, he steamed up to Natchez, tearing down a portion of the telegraph lines to Port Hudson. He anchored for the night of the 18th below Grand Gulf and ran the batteries early the next morning, suffering eight casualties in the engagement. He came to anchor just below Warrenton, Mississippi, where, on the 20th, he communicated with Grant and Porter and sought replenishment of his coal supply.

Rear Admiral Porter reported that the Steele’s Bayou expedition had reached within l 1/2 miles of Rolling Fork, Mississippi. “Had the way been as good as represented to me, I should have been in Yazoo City by this time; but we have been delayed by obstructions which I did not mind much, and the little willows, which grow so thick that we stuck fast hundreds of times.” In a later summary report to Secretary Welles, Porter noted: ”We had succeeded in getting well into the heart of the country before we were discovered. No one would believe that anything in the shape of a vessel could get through Black Bayou, or anywhere on the route.” As the gunboats continued to struggle against unfriendly natural hazards, Confederates felled trees to further obstruct the channel and sharpshooters took the ships under fire. To prevent additional obstruc-tions being placed at Rolling Fork, Porter sent ashore 2 boat howitzers and 300 men under Lieutenant John M. Murphy, commanding USS Carondelet. However, with Confederate troop strength in the area growing and receiving reports of obstructions being placed ahead and trees being felled in his rear, Porter was shortly compelled to break off the attempt to reach the Yazoo in order to avoid complete entrapment.

Rear Admiral Du Pont wrote Assistant Secretary Fox: “We are hard at work on the ironclads. They require so much, and the injury of the Montauk is very great. I crawled on ‘all fours’ to see for myself…. The Patapsco’s pumps are not yet in order. I had dispatched the Weehauken to Edisto this morning to establish our base of operations, but an equinoctial gale sent her back. I may send her to Savannah River in lieu…. I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of the Keo-kuk. Her less draft than the others is very important I think these monitors [Keokuk was a citadel ironclad, not a monitor] are wonderful conceptions, but, oh, the errors of details, which would have been corrected if these men of genius could be induced to pay attention to the people who are to use their tools and inventions.”

USS Octorara, Commander Collins, seized blockade running British schooner John Williams near the Bahamas.

20 From below Warrenton, Rear Admiral Farragut sent the following message to General Grant and a similar one to Rear Admiral Porter: ”Having learned that the enemy had the Red River trade open to Vicksburg and Port Hudson and that two of the gunboats of the upper fleet [Queen of the West and Indianola] had been captured, I determined to pass up and, if possible, recapture the boats and stop the Red River trade, and this I can do most effectively if I can obtain from Rear Admiral Porter or yourself coal for my vessels…. I shall be most happy to avail myself of the earliest moment to have a consultation with yourself and Rear Admiral Porter as to the assistance I can render you at this place; and, if none, then I will return to the mouth of the Red River and carry out my original designs.” Porter replied: ”I would not attempt to run the batteries at Vicks-burg if I were you; it won’t pay, and you can be of no service up here at this moment. Your services at Red River will be a godsend; it is worth to us the loss of the [U.SS. ] Mississippi at this moment and it is the severest blow that could be struck at the South. They obtain all their supplies and ammunition in that way.” Grant floated a coal barge down the river to Farragut, who steamed above Warrenton to meet the vital cargo.

USS Ethan Allen, Acting Master Pennell, seized blockade running British schooner Gypsy off St. Joseph’s Bay, Florida, with a cargo including merchants’ tools.

USS Victoria, Acting Lieutenant Hooker, and US schooner William Bacon, captured blockade running British steamer Nicolai I in ”thick and rainy” weather off Cape Fear. The steamer was carrying a cargo of dry goods, arms, and ammunition, and had been turned back 2 days earlier in an attempt to run into Charleston.

Though troops sent by General W. T. Sherman had reached the gunboats of the Steele’s Bayou expedition at Rolling Fork the day before, it was Rear Admiral Porter’s decision that their num-bers were not sufficient to insure success. The soldiers had met the gunboats without provisions of their own and without any field artillery. ”Under the circumstances,” Porter wrote, I could not afford to risk a single vessel, and therefore abandoned the expedition.” Unable to turn around in the narrow waters, the gunboats unshipped their rudders and drifted backwards. Coming to a bend in the river, “where the enemy supposed they had blockaded us completely, having cut a number of trees all together…. the gunboats and Union troops fought their way through as the withdrawal continued. Sherman arrived with additional troops, but Porter noted: “We might now have retraced our steps, but we were all worn-out. The officers and men had for six days and night. been constantly at work, or sleeping at the guns. We had lost our coal barge, and the provision vessel could not get through, being too high for such purposes. Taking everything into consideration, I thought it best to undertake nothing further without being better prepared, and we finally, on the 24th, arrived at Hill’s plantation, the place we started from on the 16th.”

Thus ended what Porter accurately described as ”a most novel expedition. Never did those people expect to see ironclads floating where the keel of a flat boat never passed.” Though it did not achieve its primary goal, the daring expedition was not a failure. By destroying all bridges encountered, it had ”cut off for the present all the means of transporting provisions to Vicksburg.” In addition, a vast quantity of corn was destroyed and many horses, mules, and cattle were taken. An estimated 20,000 bales of cotton were destroyed and enough was taken “to pay for the building of a good gunboat.” Porter recognized, too, the ”moral effect of penetrating into a country deemed inaccessible. There will be no more planting in these regions for a long time to come. The able-bodied negroes left with our army, carrying with them all the stores left by their masters…. Despite these positive results, the Admiral succinctly summed up a deeper meaning of the abandonment of the Steele’s Bayou expedition: “With the end of this expedition ends all my hopes of getting Vicksburg in this direction. Had we been success-ful we could have made a sure thing of it…. By land and water, the long siege and the bitter fighting for Vicksburg would now continue.

Rear Admiral Farragut advised General Grant that the Confederates were building ”a very for-midable casemated work” at Warrenton. ”I fired at it yesterday, but I think did it little or no injury. I see they are at work on it again and shall interrupt them to-day with an occasional shot or shell to prevent their annoying me on my way down, but if you think proper to make a little expedition over that way to destroy it, my two vessels will be at your service as long as I am here.” Grant replied: “As you kindly’ offered me the cooperation of your vessels and the use of them to transport troops to Warrenton, should I want them to send an expedition to destroy their batteries, I have determined to take advantage of the offer…. I send no special instruc-tion for this expedition further than to destroy effectually the batteries at Warren ton and to return to their camp here. They will be glad to receive any suggestions or directions from you. “Farragut, writing Captain Henry Walke, expressed the view that the blockade of the Red River could be better effected with the aid of one of the Ellet rams, which were above Vicksburg. To Grant he noted that a ram would be more suitable for landing the troops at Warrenton than either USS Hartford or Albatross.

USS Tioga, Commander Clary, captured blockade running British steamer Granite City at sea off Eleuthera island and British schooner Brothers off Abaco. Both carried assorted cargoes including medicines and liquor.

23 Concerned with the fate of his ships that had failed to pass the Port Hudson batteries, Rear Admiral Farragut wrote his wife from USS Hartford below Vicksburg: ”I passed the batteries of Port Hudson with my chicken (USS Albatross) under my wing. We came through in safety…. Would to God I only knew that our friends on the other ships were as well as we are! We are all in the same hands, and He disposes of us as He thinks best…. You know my creed: I never send others in advance when there is a doubt; and, being one on whom the country has bestowed its greatest honors, I thought I ought to take the risks which belong to them. So I took the lead….”

Lieutenant Webb, CSN, issued instructions to Lieutenant William G. Dozier regarding the defense of Charleston harbor in the event of an attack by the Union ironclads. Should the ironclads steam past the batteries in the harbor, elaborate plans were made to sink them by torpedoes.

CSS Alabama, Captain Semmes, captured ship Morning Star and burned whaling schooner Kingfisher off the Brazilian coast near the equator.

USS Arizona, Acting Lieutenant Daniel P. Upton, took blockade running sloop Aurelia off Mosquito Inlet, Florida, with a cargo of cotton.

24 Brigadier General Alfred ‘V. Ellet informed Captain Walke that he intended to send rams Lan-caster and Switzerland past the Vicksburg batteries to support Farragut at Warrenton and in block-ading the Red River. “You will not,” the General informed Colonel C. R. Ellet, commanding the ram fleet, ”in the event that either boat is disabled, attempt, under fire of the batteries, to help her off with the other boat, but will run on down, it being of primary importance that one boat at least should get safely by.”

USS Mount Vernon, Acting Lieutenant Trathen, seized British schooner Mary Jane attempting to run the blockade near New Inlet, North Carolina, with a cargo of soap, salt, flour, and coffee.

25 Before daybreak, rams Switzerland and Lancaster got underway to run past Vicksburg to join Rear Admiral Farragut below with USS Hartford and Albatross. Colonel C. R. Ellet reported: ‘The wind was extremely unfavorable, and notwithstanding the caution with which the boats put Out into the middle of the stream, the puff of their escape pipes could be heard with fatal distinctness below. The flashing of the enemy’s signal lights from battery to battery as we neared the city showed me that concealment was useless.” Under full steam, the rams rounded the bend into a concentrated fire from the Confederate works. On board Switzerland, Colonel Ellet noted: ”Shot after shot struck my boat, tearing everything to pieces before them.” La,’-caster, under Lieutenant Colonel John A. Ellet, followed, steaming steadily down river, “but,” the senior Ellet reported, “I could see the splinters fly from her at every discharge.” Directly in front of the main Vicksburg batteries, a shell plunged into Switzerland’s boiler, stopping the engines. The pilots, who “stood their posts like men,” kept the ram in the river and she floated down, still under a hail of shot, to safety. The Lancaster, meanwhile, received a fatal shot which pierced her steam drum ” and enveloped the entire vessel in a terrible cloud of steam About this time,” reported her commanding officer, ”a heavy plunging shot struck her in the frailest part of her stern, passing longitudinally through her and piercing the hull in the center near the bow, causing an enormous leak in the vessel.” She sank almost immediately. The planned joint attack on Warrenton was called off because of the extensive repairs required by the Switzerland.

Farragut wrote Rear Admiral Porter about the difficulties of maintaining the blockade of the Red River with so few ships: ”My isolated position requires that I should be more careful of my ships than I would be if I had my fleet with me. I can not get to a machine shop, or obtain the most ordinary repairs without fighting my way to them.” Coal and provisions were set adrift on barges above Vicksburg and floated to Farragut below.

CSS Alabama, Captain Semmes, captured ships Charles Hill and Nora near the equator off the coast of Brazil. Semmes described the capture: ‘It was time now for the Alabama to move. Her main yard was swung to the full, sailors might have been seen running up aloft, like so many squirrels, who thought they saw ‘nuts’ ahead, and pretty soon, upon a given signal the top–gallant sails and royals might have been seen fluttering in the breeze, for a moment, and then extending themselves to their respective yard-arms. A whistle or two from the boatswain and his mates, and the trysail sheets are drawn aft and the Alabama has on those seven-league hoots…. A stride or two, and the thing is done. First, the Charles Hill, of Boston, shortens sail, and runs up the ‘old flag,’ and then the Nora, of the same pious city, follows her example. They were both laden with salt, and both from Liverpool.”

USS Kanawha, Lieutenant-Commander William K. Mayo, took schooner Clara attempting to run the blockade at Mobile.

USS State of Georgia, Commander Armstrong, and USS Mount Vernon, Acting Lieutenant Trathen, captured blockade running schooner Rising Dawn off New Inlet, North Carolina, with large a cargo of salt.

USS Fort Henry, Acting Lieutenant Edward Y. McCauley, captured blockade running sloop Ranger, from Havana, off Cedar Keys, Florida.

USS Wachusett, Lieutenant-Commander Charles E. Fleming, seized British blockade runner Dolphin between Puerto Rico and St. Thomas Island.

26 Assistant Secretary Fox notified Rear Admiral Du Pont: “We have sent you down the semi-submarine boat ‘Alligator’ that may be useful in making reconnaissances.” Alligator, designed by the French inventor Brutus de Villeroy and built for the government in Philadelphia, was 46 feet long, 4 1/2 feet in breadth, and carried a crew of 17 men. She was designed to be propelled by folding oars, but these were replaced at the Washington Navy Yard by a hand operated screw propellor.

27 USS Hartford engaged and passed below the Confederate batteries being erected at Warrenton. Two days later USS Albatross joined Rear Admiral Farragut, having waited above the batteries to obtain further coal and provisions which had been floated down on barges from the fleet above Vicksburg.

USS Pawnee, Commander Balch, supported an Army landing on Cole’s Island, South Carolina; Balch joined the Army command ashore for a reconnaissance of the island.

USS Hendrick Hudson, Lieutenant Cate, seized British schooner Pacifique at St. Mark’s, Florida.

28 USS Diana, Acting Master Thomas L. Peterson, reconnoitering the Atchafalaya River, Louisi-ana, with troops embarked, was attacked by Confederate sharpshooters and fieldpieces. In action that lasted almost 3 hours, casualties were heavy, Diana’s ”tiller ropes were shot away, the engines disabled, and she finally drifted ashore when it was impossible to fight or defend her longer, and she ultimately surrendered to the enemy.”

CSS Florida, Lieutenant Maffitt, captured bark Lapwing, bound from Boston to Batavia with a cargo of coal. Maffitt transferred a howitzer and ammunition to the captured bark and renamed her Oreto for use as a tender under Lieutenant S. N. Averett.

USS Stettin, Acting Master Edward F. Devens, seized blockade running British steamer Aries off Bull’s Bay with a cargo of liquor.

29 General Grant wrote Rear Admiral Porter requesting gunboat assistance in an anticipated move below Vicksburg. “It looks to me, admiral,” Grant wrote, as a matter of vast importance that one or two vessels should be put below Vicksburg, both to cut off the enemy’s intercourse with the west bank of the river entirely and to insure a landing on the east bank for our forces if wanted…. Without the aid of gunboats it will hardly be worthwhile to send troops to New Carthage or to open the passage from here there; preparatory surveys for doing this are now being made.” Porter replied the same day: “I am ready to cooperate with you in the matter of landing troops on the other side…. If it is your intention to occupy Grand Gulf in force it will be necessary to have vessels there to protect the troops or quiet the fortifications now there. If I do send ves-sels below it will be the best vessels I have, and there will be nothing left to attack Haynes’ Bluff, in ease it should be deemed necessary to try it…. Before making a gunboat move I should like to get the vessels back from the Yazoo Pass Expedition.”

Commander Duncan, USS Norwich, reported to Rear Admiral Du Pont the evacuation of Jacksonville, Florida, by Union troops after destroying the greater part of the city.

USS South Carolina, Commander John J. Almy, captured schooner Nellie off Port Royal.

30 CSS Florida, Lieutenant Maffitt, seized bark M. J. Concord, loaded with provisions, from New York and bound for Cape Town, South Africa. The provisions were taken on board Florida, the crew was put on board Danish brig Christian, and the prize was destroyed. Maffitt wrote: “Living like lords on Yankee plunder.”

USS Monticello, Lieutenant-Commander Braine, captured blockade running British schooner Sue off Little River, North Carolina.

31 Confederate troops opened a sustained attack and siege of the Union position at Washington, North Carolina. The assaulting forces erected numerous batteries along the Pamlico River in an effort to check the Union Navy. Nonetheless, the senior naval officer, Commander Daven-port, moved quickly to aid the beleaguered Union soldiers. He dispatched all but two gunboats guarding New Bern to Washington and left only one at Plymouth, before the attack was broken up on 16 April, the warships’ heavy gunfire support swung the balance in stopping the Con-federates. In addition, small boats transported desperately needed ammunition to the troops and ultimately it was the waterborne supplies reaching the garrison that induced the Confederates to withdraw. “We were compelled to give up the siege of Washington,” Major-General A. P. Hill wrote, “as the Yankee supply boats ran the blockade. Two more days would have starved the garrison out.” Once again the flexibility of Union naval units had preserved a vital position for the North.

Ram Switzerland, Colonel C. R. Ellet, repairs completed, steamed below Warrenton and joined USS Hartford and Albatross under Rear Admiral Farragut. The three ships ran past the batteries at Grand Gulf that night, anchored, and next day continued downriver to the mouth of the Red River, destroying Confederate supply skiffs and flatboats en route,

Commander John Guest wrote Rear Admiral S.P. Lee regarding a method for the removal of the ever-dangerous Confederate torpedoes by ”raft and grapnel….” He believed: ”It is perfectly feasible and is decidedly the best means wherever there is a tideaway. A hulk could do as well [to which Admiral Lee objected, ‘No! they can be sunk, but rafts can’t.’] in some cases with four or five grapnels hung over the side & spars rigged out forward & aft to give a greater spread to the grapnels…. After clearing the channel of torpedoes the hulk might be allowed to drift so as to point Out obstructions, or with powder in her and a wire might be used to blow out obstructions.”

USS Memphis, Lieutenant-Commander Watmough, captured British schooner Antelope attempting to run the blockade into Charleston with a cargo of salt.

USS Two Sisters, Acting Master Arthur, took schooner Agnes off Tortugas with a cargo of cotton.

31-1 April Lieutenant-Commander Gillis, in USS Commodore Morris, with soldiers embarked proceeded up the Ware River, Virginia, to investigate reports of a large quantity of grain being stored in the area. Thousands of bushels were found at Patterson Smith’s plantation. While engaged in seizing the grain the next day, 1 April, the landing party of soldiers and sailors were attacked by Confederate cavalry. Gillis reported: ”The men were immediately formed and a few well directed shots caused a wavering in their ranks, and a cheer and a charge on the part of both sailors and soldiers turned an attack into a retreat…. Gillis deemed it necessary to destroy the remainder of the grain, “making altogether some 22,000 bushels of grain that the rebels have thus been deprived of.” The constant loss of essential food stuffs sorely hurt the South.

 

April 1863

 

APRIL 1863

1 Preparations for the naval assault on Charleston moved into their final week. Rear Admiral Du Pont sent ironclads USS Passaic, Montauk, Patapsco, and Keokuk to the North Edisto River and gunboat Sebago to Calibogue Sound. To Commander John C. Beaumont, commanding Sebago, the Admiral wrote that his objective was “to cover the approaches to the west end of Hilton Head Island and prevent any descent upon it from boats with troops, etc., and to give notice by signal to the picket stations on shore, you will use your own discretion as to your position.” Du Pont assigned Captain Charles Steedman to protect the Army at Hilton Head Island while he himself led the offensive against Charleston. Next day, 2 April, Du Pont left Port Royal for the North Edisto, flying his pennant in USS James Adger.

USS Tuscumbia, with Rear Admiral Porter and Generals Grant and W. T. Sherman on board, reconnoitered the Yazoo River to determine the practicability of landing a force at Haynes’ Bluff. Grant believed that an attack “would be attended with immense sacrifice of life, if not with defeat.” This closed the last hope of turning Vicksburg’s fortifications by the right, and gave added weight to the Grand Gulf operation below Vicksburg about which Grant and Porter had just exchanged letters. On 2 April, Secretary Welles wrote Porter a letter strongly urging the occupation of the Mississippi between Vicksburg and Port Hudson, which would be “the severest blow that can be struck upon the enemy, [and] is worth all the risk encountered by Rear-Admiral Farragut.”

2 Assistant Secretary Fox wrote Rear Admiral Farragut that President Lincoln, with characteristic understanding of how to use naval strength, was “rather disgusted with the flanking expeditions [at Yazoo Pass and Steele’s Bayou], and predicted their failure from the first…. he always observed that cutting the Rebels in two by our force in the river was of greater importance…. Grant…. has kept our Navy trailing through swamps to protect his soldiers when a force between Vicksburg and Port Hudson, the same length of time, would have been of greater injury to the enemy.

Lincoln informed Secretary Welles that Farragut had to be strengthened. Welles accordingly wrote Rear Admiral Du Pont to send all but two of his ironclads to New Orleans after the Charles-ton attack.

2-9 An armed boat expedition of sailors and Marines under Acting Lieutenant McCauley, USS Fort Henry, reconnoitered the Bayport, Florida, area. The boats stood in for Bayport on the evening of the 2nd, arriving off the city the next morning. The first launch, exhibiting the “slug-gish” qualities that were to be trying throughout the reconnaissance, slowed the expedition’s progress through the intricate channel. “This waste of time,” McCauley reported, “gave the rebels leisure to make all preparations for our reception.” Two Confederate sloops and two small schooners ran into a bayou and grounded seeking to avoid destruction. Sloop Helen, carrying corn, was captured south of the harbor and destroyed. The Union boat crews engaged and forced the evacuation of a defending battery, and the Confederates burned a schooner with a cargo of cotton. McCauley reported: “Having gained my object in her destruction and the clearing of the battery, the disabling of two of my guns, the unwieldiness of the first launch, which made it difficult to bring her gun to bear; the uncertainty of aim in the sea that was running, and conse-quent waste of ammunition, and the warnings of Mr. Ashley, the pilot, that if the ebb tide found us there we should be left aground, made me give up my design of trying to set the vessels in the bayou on fire by shelling.” The boats withdrew out of range of a rifled gun which the Confed-erates brought up. In the next week the expedition examined the Chassahowitzka, Crystal, Homosassa, Withlacoochee, Waccassassa, and Suwannee Rivers, as small boats carried the mes-sage of seapower where deeper draft vessels could not pass.

3 Expedition under Lieutenant-Commander Fitch, including USS Lexington, Brilliant, Robb, Silver Lake, and Springfield, destroyed Palmyra, Tennessee, in retaliation for Confederate guerrillas firing on a Union convoy (2 April), crippling USS St. Clair and damaging Army transports Eclipse and Luminary.

USS New London, Lieutenant-Commander Abner Read, and USS Cayuga, Lieutenant-Commander David A. McDermut, captured blockade running British schooner Tampico off Sabine Pass with a cargo of cotton.

4 Rear Admiral Du Pont issued his order of battle and plan of attack on Charleston: “…. The Squadron will pass up the main ship channel without returning the fire of the batteries on Morris Island, unless signal should be made to commence action. The ships will open fire on Fort Sumter when within easy range, and will take up a position to the northward and westward of that fortification, engaging its left or northeast face at a distance of from 600 to 800 yards firing low and aiming at the center embrasure. The commanding officers will instruct their officers and men to carefully avoid wasting shot and will enjoin upon them the necessity of precision rather than rapidity of fire. Each ship will be prepared to render every assistance possible to vessels that may require it. The special code of signals prepared for the ironclad vessels will be used in action. After the reduction of Fort Sumter it is probable that the next point of attack will be the batteries on Morris Island. The order of battle will be the line ahead…. A squadron of reserve, of which Captain J. F. Green will be the senior officer, will be formed outside the bar and near the entrance buoy, consisting of the following vessels, Canandaigua, Housatonic, Huron, Unadilla, Wissahickon, and will be held in readiness to support the ironclads when they attack the batteries on Morris Island.”

President Lincoln wrote regarding harbor defense: “I have a single idea of my own about harbor defences. It is a steam-ram, built so as to sacrifice nearly all capacity for carrying to those of speed and strength…. her business would be to guard a Particular harbour, as a Bull-dog guards his master’s door.”

CSS Alabama, Captain Semmes, captured ship Louisa Hatch off the coast of Brazil with large a cargo of coal. Semmes took the prize with him so that he would still have a means of obtaining a supply of coal if he failed to rendezvous as planned with the bark Agrippina at Fernando de Noronha Island. Semmes’ foresight again paid off, for the bark did not arrive at the island. After coaling and provisioning from Louisa Hatch, Semmes burned her on 17 April.

5 With ironclads and enough steamers to take them in tow if knocked out of action, Rear Admiral Du Pont departed North Edisto for Charleston, arriving off the Confederate stronghold that afternoon. As a last step before the assault, preparations were made to buoy the Stono bar to fix a safe channel. USS Patapsco, Commander Ammen, and USS Catskill, Commander George Rodgers, remained inside the bar to protect the buoys.

6 Commander Balch, USS Pawnee, reported that the Stono Bar had been buoyed, preparatory to the assault on Charleston. Rear Admiral Du Pont crossed the bar, his flag in USS New Ironsides, Captain Turner. Intending to attack Charleston that day, the Admiral took the other ironclads in with him: USS Passaic, Captain Drayton; Weehawken, Captain J. Rodgers; Montauk, Captain Worden; Patapsco, Commander Ammen; Catskill, Commander G. Rodgers; Nantucket, Commander Donald McD. Fairfax; Nahant, Commander John Downes; and Keokuk, Commander Alexander C. Rhind. After reaching an anchorage inside the bar, Du Pont reported,”…. the weather became so hazy, preventing our seeing the ranges, that the pilots declined to go farther.”

Captain William F. Lynch, CSN, wrote Senator George Davis of North Carolina from Wilmington regarding the status of ships building in the waters of that state: “One ironclad, the North Carolina, building here, is very nearly ready for her crew… The other, the Raleigh, is now ready for her iron shield, and can in eight weeks be prepared for service, as far as the material is concerned. At Whitehall, upon the Neuse, we have a gunboat [Neuse] in nearly the same state of forwardness as the Raleigh; at Tarboro we have one with the frame up, the keel of one [Albemarle] is laid near Scotland Neck….”

Assistant Secretary Fox wrote Commodore Rowan about a method of countering Confederate torpedoes at Mobile: “It strikes me that a small grapnel might be thrown several hundred yards ahead and hauled in so as to break the connections of their torpedoes. A small charge of powder, a wooden sabot, a grapnel and chain fast to a line, fired from a XV-inch gun, are all the elements. I advise you to prepare these arrangements, for you certainly will find torpedoes near Fort Morgan.”

USS Huntsville, Acting Lieutenant W. C. Rogers, captured sloop Minnie off Charlotte Harbor, Florida, with a cargo of cotton.

7 Rear Admiral Du Pont, with nine ironclads, engaged the strong Confederate forts in Charleston harbor. The Richmond Whig, unaware of the outcome of the battle, editorialized on 8 April: ”At last the hour of trial has come for Charleston.”

Du Pont made signal to get underway at noon, “this,” the Admiral reported, “being the earliest hour at which, owing to the state of the tide, the pilots would consent to move.” USS Weehauken, in the van pushing a raft to clear torpedoes from the path of the line ahead column, fouled the torpedo grapnels attached to the raft, delaying the movement for an hour, and con-tinued to impede the column’s progress throughout so that it was nearly 3 o’clock before the ships came within range of Forts Moultrie and Sumter in the harbor.

Weehawken opened on Fort Sumter shortly after 3, followed by the other monitors. The Confederates had not only heavily obstructed the channels to Charleston, but they had also marked them with range indicators for their gunners in the forts, “which,” Ammen later observed, “greatly increased the accuracy of the fire from the forts as the vessels passed.”

As Weehawken became hotly engaged, a torpedo exploded near her; “it lifted the vessel a little,” the indomitable Captain John Rodgers reported, “but I am unable to perceive that it has done us any damage.” Of greater concern to the commander of the lead ship were the obstructions extending from Fort Moultrie to Fort Sumter. “The appearance was so formidable,” Rodgers wrote, “that, upon deliberate judgment, I thought it not right to entangle the vessel in obstructions which I did not think we could have passed through, and in which we should have been caught.” He swung his ship’s bow to seaward to prevent being swept against the obstructions by the strong flood tide which made the ironclads virtually unmanageable at times during the engagement. Weehawken steamed a few hundred feet southward to give the ships in the rear opportunity to turn in her wake. Engaged for 40 minutes, the lead ironclad was hit 53 times and was taking water through a shot hole which had been made in the deck.

Next in line, Passaic had her XI-inch gun disabled for several hours and the turret was temporarily unable to turn. All the plates forming the upper edge of the turret were broken and the pilot house badly dented while she was receiving some 35 hits from the forts. Montauk, maneuvering with difficulty was struck some 14 times with little effect as she, like Passaic, turned in Weehawken’s wake away from the obstructions. Patapsco, endeavoring to turn short of Montauk’s wake, lost headway and failed to obey the helm. She became a sitting target for the guns of Forts Sumter and Moultrie and took 47 hits. Backing, she was brought under control and turned seaward. The flagship, New Ironsides, had become unmanageable in the heavy current, and Catskill passed her, approaching to within some 600 yards of Sumter where the pointblank fire of her guns blasted a barbette gun from its mount. Caught in the forts’ crossfire like the others, Catskill received 20 shots, one of which broke the deck plates and deck planking forward, causing her to take water. Meanwhile, New Ironsides narrowly escaped de-struction as she lay directly over a Confederate electric torpedo containing 2,000 pounds of powder near Fort Wagner. Every effort to fire the torpedo failed, and it was later discovered that a connecting wire had been cut by a wagon passing over it.

Nantucket followed Catskill past the flagship and was badly battered by 51 hits, one jamming her turret. Nahant took 36 hits: 3 disabled the turret; the impact of another broke off a segment of interior iron weighing nearly 80 pounds which wreaked havoc with the steering gear. Nuts from iron bolts sheered off, fatally wounding the helmsman and injuring the pilot.

Keokuk was compelled to run ahead of the crippled Nahant to avoid getting foul of her in the narrow channel and strong tide. This brought the last ironclad less than 600 yards from Fort Sumter, where she remained for half an hour. Colonel Alfred Rhett, CSA, wrote: “She received our undivided attention…. Keokuk was riddled by 90 hits, one-fifth of which pierced her at or below the waterline. She was withdrawn from the action and anchored overnight outside of range of the forts, where the crew was able to keep her afloat only because of the calm seas. Next day, 8 April, a breeze came up, Keokuk took on more water, and, rapidly filling, sank.

With darkness approaching and his ironclads severely battered, Du Pont broke off the action. He reported to Secretary Welles: “When I withdrew the ironclad vessels from action on the evening of the 7th, I did so because I deemed it too late in the day to attempt to force a passage through the obstructions which we had encountered, and I fully intended to resume offensive operations the next day; but when I received the reports of the commanders of the ironclads as to the injuries those vessels had sustained and their performance in action I was fully convinced that a renewal of the attack could not result in the capture of Charleston, but would, in all probability, end in the destruction of a portion of the ironclad fleet and might leave several of them sunk within reach of the enemy (which opinion I afterwards learned was fully shared in by all their commanders). I therefore determined not to renew the attack.”

The Confederates bad beaten back a serious threat and gained a stunning victory; Du Pont was thankful that the result was “a failure instead of a disaster.” He wrote General Hunter: “I am now satisfied that that place cannot he taken by a purely naval attack, and I am admonished by the condition of these vessels that a persistence in our efforts would end in disaster and might cause us to leave some of our ironclads in the hands of the enemy, which would render it difficult for us to hold those parts of the coast which are now in our possession.” Hunter replied: “No country can ever fail that has men capable of facing what your ironclads had yesterday to endure.” Admiral Porter later wrote: “It was certainly the hardest task undertaken by the Navy during the war.”

Rear Admiral Porter informed Welles that Army troops had been sent up ” to take possession of the country through which we lately took the gunboats. When that is secured we can reach the Yazoo as we please, provided the water keeps up. I am preparing to pass the batteries of Vicks-burg with most of the fleet. General Grant is marching his army below, and we are going to endeavor to turn Vicksburg and get to Jackson by a very practicable route…. The enemy, owing to our late raids on them, have much reduced their force at Vicksburg. They are cut off from all supplies from below; so is Port Hudson.” The long joint operation against the Southern stronghold was moving into its final stages.

USS Barataria, Acting Ensign James F. Perkins, on a reconnaissance mission with troops em-barked, struck a snag in Lake Maurepas, Louisiana, and was destroyed by her crew to prevent capture.

8 Mr. Edward C. Gabaudan, secretary to Farragut, arrived on board USS Richmond with a dis-patch from the river above after safely floating in a small boat past the Port Hudson batteries. Loyall Farragut, the Admiral’s son, vividly described Gabaudan’s memorable exploit: “A small dug-out was covered with twigs, ingeniously arranged to resemble the floating trees which were a common sight on the Mississippi. At nightfall Mr. Gabaudan lay down in the bottom of his little craft under the brush, with his revolver and a small paddle by his side, and silently drifted out into the current, followed by the prayers of his shipmates. He reached the Richmond in safety, with but one adventure, which came near being his last. His frail bark was swept in so close to the shore that he could distinctly hear the sentinels talking. The size of his craft attracted attention, and a boat put out to make an examination. Gabaudan felt that his time had come; but with a finger on the trigger of his revolver, he determined to fight for his liberty, and quietly awaited discovery. Fortunately for him, the rebels were not in a pulling humor that night, and seemed satisfied with a cursory glance. His mind was greatly relieved when they pronounced him to be ‘only a log,’ and returned to the shore. About ten o’clock pm. a rocket was seen to dart up into the air some miles below, a signal of the success of the perilous under-taking.”

USS Gem of the Sea, Acting Lieutenant Baxter, seized blockade running British schooner Maggie Fulton off Indian River Inlet, Florida. “I am confident,” Baxter reported to Rear Admiral Bailey, that no vessels have run in or out of either Jupiter or Indian River inlets since the 6th of March, 1863, as our boats are in the river whenever the bar will permit them to cross.

9 John A. Quinterro, Confederate Commissioner in Monterrey, Mexico, wrote Secretary of War Benjamin: “Narciso Monturio [of Barcelona, Spain] has invented a vessel for submarine navigation. She is called ‘Ictineos’ (fish-like vessel). As a man-of-war she can prevent not only the bombardment of the ports, but also the landing of the enemy. If…. the necessary number of vessels [are] built, no Federal squadron would dare to approach our coasts…. The ‘Ictineos’ have guns which fire under water and also rams and torpedoes. They can navigate in a depth of about twenty-five fathoms…. The inventor creates an artificial atmosphere…. and carries with him the elements of existence.” The Confederates were continuously alert for any develop-ment that might contest the stranglehold of the North’s overwhelming naval superiority.

10 President Jefferson Davis said: “We began this struggle without a single gun afloat, while the resources of our enemy enabled them to gather fleets which, according to their official list pub-lished in August last, consisted of 427 vessels, measuring 340,036 tons, and carrying 3,268 guns. Yet we have captured, sunk, or destroyed a number of these vessels, including two large frigates and one sloop of war, while four of their captured steam boats are now in our possession, adding to the strength of our little Navy, which is rapidly gaining in numbers and efficiency.”

An expedition led by Lieutenant-Commander Selfridge of USS Conestoga cut across Beulah Bend, Mississippi, and destroyed guerrilla stations that had harassed Union shipping on the river.

Boat crew under Lieutenant Benjamin F. Day from USS New London, while reconnoitering Confederate strength in the Sabine City area, captured a small sloop and four prisoners, including Captain Charles Fowler, who had commanded CSS Josiah Bell when USS Morning Light and Velocity were captured in January 1863.

Landing party under Acting Master John C. Dutch, USS Kingfisher, captured Confederate pickets on Edisto Island, South Carolina.

11 General Beauregard, believing that a renewal of the naval attack on Charleston was imminent, wrote Lieutenant Webb, CSN, regarding an offensive measure to remove this threat: “Upon further reflection, after the discussion of yesterday with Captain Tucker and yourself, I think it would be preferable to attack each of the enemy’s seven iron-dads (six monitors and one ironsides), now inside the bar, with at least two of your spar-torpedo row-boats, instead of the number (six in all) already agreed upon. I believe it will be as easy to surprise at the same time the whole of those iron-dads as a part of them…. about dark on the first calm night (the sooner the better) I would rendezvous all my boats at the mouth of the creek in the rear of Cummings Point, Morris Island. There I would await the proper hour of the night, which should not be too late, in order to take advantage of the present condition of the moon…. Having arrived at the point of the beach designated [opposite the fleet] I would form line of attack, putting my torpedoes in position, and would give orders that my boats should attack by twos any monitor or ironsides they should encounter on their way out, answering to the enemy’s hail ‘Boats on secret expedi-tion’ or merely ‘Contrabands’…. I feel convinced that with nerve and proper precaution on the part of your boats’ crews, and with the protection of a kind Providence, not one of the enemy’s monsters so much boasted of by them, would live to see the next morning’s sun.” The next day, however, the Union ironclads withdrew outside the bar, foiling the proposed torpedo attack.

Threatened by a “large force” of Confederates, Army commanders at Suffolk, Virginia, requested gunboat support from Rear Admiral S. P. Lee, who speedily replied that there were already three small naval vessels “up the Nansemond or at its mouth.” Next day, 12 April, he sent USS Commodore Barney, Lieutenant William B. Cushing, “to assist in repelling the enemy, who are surrounding Suffolk.”

Meanwhile, Southerners threatened Union positions on the York River as well, and York-town was felt to be in danger. Another appeal for naval support was sent to Lee, who ordered USS Commodore Morris to aid USS Crusader in that area. Whether in the North Carolina Sounds or the Virginia rivers, the demand for the services of the gunboats of the North Atlantic Squadron was great. As Admiral Porter later wrote: ”After all, most of these gun-boats were merely improvised for the occasion, and the Army transports, armed with field pieces, would have answered the same purpose. But the soldiers were not used to managing steamers up the narrow streams or handling guns behind the frail bulwarks of wooden gunboats. Only sailors could do that kind of work, and the Army were only too glad to have them do it.”

Secretary Welles instructed Rear Admiral Du Pont to ”retain a strong force off Charleston, even should you find it impossible to carry the place.” Though the large-scale attack 4 days before had failed, it was believed that the presence of the fleet at Charleston would keep the Confederates “in apprehension of a renewed attack, in order that they may be occupied and not come North or go West to the aid of the rebels with whom our forces will soon be in conflict…. ” The Union’s ability to strike with vigor at a variety of points under seapower’s flexibility con-tinued to keep Confederate strength dispersed.

12 Rear Admiral Porter advised Secretary Welles of developments in the proposed move below Vicksburg: “I have been endeavoring since I came here to get the batteries of these vessels changed, and have succeeded at last in getting three 11-inch guns placed in the bow of each one. This makes them much more effective…. [Major-General Grant] proposes to embark his army at Carthage, seize Grand Gulf under fire of the gunboats, and make it the base of his operations…. The squadron will pass the [Vicksburg] batteries and engage them while the transports go by in the smoke, passing down, of course, at night…. In this operation I act in obedience to the orders of the Department to cooperate with the army, and shall do my best to make them successful.” Though preoccupied with the plans to get below Vicksburg, Porter did not neglect other areas of need on the western waters. He ordered eight gunboats to the mouths of the Arkansas and White Rivers to meet any contingency at that point, and reported, “Every point on the Mississippi is guarded or patrolled where there is likelihood of a guerilla. The river from Cairo to Vicksburg is as quiet as in time of peace.” Porter also sent a sizable force into the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers. “There are now (or soon will be) 23 vessels in the Tennessee River (including the Marine Brigade), 14 of which carry in all 97 guns, many of them of heavy caliber. The Cumberland River will he reinforced in like manner, as I can spare the light-drafts from below.”

Porter wrote Welles about the shortage of men in his Mississippi Squadron: “I have been filling up deficiencies from the army. General Grant has supplied me with 800 soldiers, who are now very efficient. About 600 contrabands are employed in the place of discharged men, and we man the guns with them, the men sent from the North are light built (mostly boys). We are much in need of more experienced men for petty officers..

Blockade running steamer Stonewall Jackson, attempting to get into Charleston, dashed past USS Flag and Huron. The blockaders poured a hail of shell after her, several of which holed her hull. Her commander finding escape impossible, Stonewall Jackson was run aground and destroyed with her cargo, including Army artillery and some 40,000 Army shoes.

The crew of a launch under Acting Master George C. Andrews, CSN, which had left Mobile on 6 April, captured steamboat Fox in the coal yard at a’Pass l’Outre, Mississippi. Andrews succeeded in running Fox into Mobile through the blockaders’ fire on 15 April.

13 USS Annie, Acting Ensign James S. Williams, captured schooner Mattie off the Florida Gulf coast.

14 As two days of heavy fighting near Suffolk, Virginia, closed, Lieutenant Cushing informed Rear Admiral S.P. Lee that USS Mount Washington had been temporarily disabled and grounded under heavy fire but had been brought off by USS Stepping Stones. Cushing’s own ship, USS Commodore Barney, had been raked heavily by a Confederate shore battery, but he wrote: “I can assure you that the Barney and her crew are still in good fighting trim, and we will beat the enemy or sink at our post.” The gunboats repeatedly drove Confederate gunners from their rifle pits, only to see them return when the ships’ fire slackened. The gunboats were a decisive factor in the Confederates’ inability to move across the river to surround the Union ‘troops.

USS Estrella, Lieutenant-Commander Augustus P. Cooke; USS Arizona, Acting Lieutenant Upton; and USS Calhoun, Acting Master Meltiah Jordan, supporting operations ashore by General Banks’ troops, engaged and destroyed ram C.S.S Queen of the West, Lieutenant E. W. Fuller, in Grand Lake, Louisiana. CSS Diana and Hart were destroyed on 18 April to prevent their capture. General Banks reported: ”Great credit is due to the energy and efficiency shown by the officers of the Navy in this operation.”

USS Sonoma, Commander Stevens, captured schooner Clyde in the Gulf of Mexico with a cargo of cotton and rosin.

USS Huntsville, Acting Lieutenant W. C. Rogers, took blockade running British schooner Ascension off the Florida Gulf coast.

Commander Charles F. M. Spotswood wrote Commander Mitchell concerning service on ironclad CSS Georgia on the Savannah station: “…. anything that floats at sea will suit me…. for being shut up in an Iron Box (for she is not a vessel) is horrible, and with no steam power to move her, in fact she is made fast here to a pile pier…. She is not a fit command for a Sargent of Marines….

CSS Missouri was launched at Shreveport, Louisiana. Though the steamer mounted six guns, she never saw action and remained above the obstructions in the Red River until war’s end.

15 CSS Alabama, Captain Semmes, captured whalers Kate Cory and Lafayette off the island of Fer-nando de Noronha, Brazil. Semmes burned Lafayette this date and Kate Cory two days later.

USS Monticello, Lieutenant-Commander Braine, captured schooner Odd Fellow near Little River, North Carolina, with a cargo of turpentine and rosin.

USS William G. Anderson, Acting Lieutenant Frederic S. Hill, took schooner Royal Yacht in the Gulf of Mexico with a cargo of cotton.

16 USS Hendrick Hudson, Acting Lieutenant Cate, captured blockade running British schooner Teresa off the coast of Florida.

USS Vanderbilt, Lieutenant Baldwin, seized British blockade runner Gertrude off the Bahama Islands.

16-17 Gunboats under Rear Admiral Porter engaged and ran past the Confederate batteries at Vicks-burg shepherding Army transports to New Carthage below the Southern citadel. The force included USS Benton, Lafayette, Louisville, Pittsburg, Mound City, Carondelet, and Tuscumbia; USS General Sterling Price was lashed to the starboard side of Lafayette for the passage, as was tug Ivy to Benton. Each hip, except Benton, also towed a coal barge containing 10,000 bushels of coal. Lafayette, Captain Walke, hampered by the ship lashed to her side, received nine ”effective” shots through her casemate and had her coal barge sunk. Transport Henry Clay was sunk, with no loss of life, during the passage and another, Forest Queen, was temporarily disabled but was successfully aided by Tuscumbia, Lieutenant-Commander James W. Shirk. Under fire for 2 1/2 hours, beginning shortly after 11 p.m. on the 16th, the squadron suffered what Porter termed only “very light” loss. He reported that all ships were ready for service within half an hour after the passage. ”Altogether,” he remarked, ”we were very fortunate; the vessels had some narrow escapes, but were saved in most instances by the precautions taken to protect them. They were covered with heavy logs and bales of wet hay, which were found to be an excellent defense.” A memorandum in the Secretary of the Navy’s office recorded: “The passage of the fleet by Vicks-burg was a damper to the spirits of all rebel sympathizers along the Mississippi for everyone was so impressed with the absurdity of our gunboats getting safely past their batteries without being knocked to pieces that they would not admit to themselves that it would be undertaken until they saw the gunboats moving down the river all safe and sound. Vicksburg was despaired of from that moment.” The successful steaming of the squadron past the heavy batteries contributed to the early seizure of Grand Gulf, the eventual fall of Vicksburg itself, and ultimately the total control of the entire Mississippi.

17 USS Wanderer, Acting Master Eleazer S. Turner, took schooner Annie B southwest of Egmont Key, Florida, bound for Havana with a cargo of cotton.

CSS Florida, Lieutenant Maffitt, captured and destroyed ship Commonwealth off the coast of Brazil, bound from New York to San Francisco.

18 Boat expedition to reconnoiter Sabine City under command of Lieutenant-Commander Read, USS New London, and Lieutenant-Commander McDermut, USS Cayuga, was surprised at the lighthouse and driven off by Confederate troops.

USS Susquehanna, Commodore Hitchcock, captured schooner Alabama off the Florida Gulf coast with a cargo including wine, coffee, nails, and dry goods.

USS Stettin, Acting Master James R. Beers, seized steamer St. Johns off Cape Romain, South Carolina.

USS Gem of the Sea, Acting Lieutenant Baxter, captured and destroyed blockade running British schooner Inez off Indian River Inlet, Florida.

19 USS Housatonic, Captain William Taylor, took sloop Neptune, attempting to run the blockade out of Charleston with a cargo of cotton and turpentine.

USS Powhatan, Captain Steedman, captured schooner Major F. Willis near Charleston with a cargo of cotton.

20 A joint Army-Navy attack succeeded in capturing a strong Confederate position at Hill’s Point on the Nansemond River, Virginia, taking 5 howitzers and some 160 prisoners, as well as denying the South the use of an effective position from which to shell the flotilla guarding the Union Army position near Suffolk. Brigadier General George W. Getty wrote Rear Admiral S. P. Lee: “I beg to express my most sincere thanks to Captain Lamson, USN, his officers and crews for the gallantry, energy and ability displayed by them in the operations…. resulting in the capture of one of the enemy’s batteries on the west side of the Nansemond, and a number of prisoners.” Later that night, 20 April, the Confederates evacuated their battery at Reed’s Ferry, and Lieu-tenant Cushing reported: ”All is now clear at this point [the western branch of the Nansemond], and if the army fortify, we can hold the position against any force, the gunboats protecting both flanks.” Though there were intermittent skirmishes for almost 2 weeks following this action, the back of the planned Confederate offensive was broken. As Cushing wrote on 21 April: “I think that active work is nearly over in this quarter.” Both Cushing and Lamson were cited by Secretary Welles for their gallantry and meritorious services.

USS General Sterling Price, Commander Selim E. Woodworth, and USS Tuscumbia, Lieutenant-Commander Shirk, reconnoitered down the Mississippi River from New Carthage to the Con-federate stronghold at Grand Gulf in preparation for the Union assault. Rear Admiral Porter reported to Major-General Grant: “The rebels are at work fortifying. Three guns mounted on a bluff 100 feet high, pointing upriver. Two deep excavations are made in the side of the hill (fresh earth); it can not be seen whether guns are mounted on them or not.” Porter urged Grant to move as quickly as possible: “My opinion is that they will move heaven and earth to stop us if we don’t go ahead. I could go down and settle the batteries, but if disabled would not be in condition to cover the landing when it takes place, and I think it should be done together. If the troops just leave all their tents behind and take only provisions, we can be in Grand Gulf in four days. I don’t want to make a failure, and am sure that a combined attack will succeed beautifully.”

USS Estrella, Lieutenant-Commander Cooke, with USS Clifton, Arina, and Calhoun, engaged and received the surrender of Fort Burton, Butte a’ la Rose, Louisiana. Third Assistant Engineer George W. Baird noted in his diary: “The fight was short, sharp and decisive. It was done after the style of Daddy Farragut: we rush in…. We rushed right up to it and the four black vessels all firing made a savage appearance.”

Porter reported the results of an examination of the hulk of USS Indianola, captured by the Confederates and subsequently sunk below Vicksburg: “Her hull and machinery seem to be uninjured; the woodwork on deck has all been burned. The casemate for the 11-inch guns has been blown to pieces; the iron plates lying around the deck I have had it taken to strengthen the gunboats now here. The 11-inch gun carriages are still in the wreck, much shattered. The 9-inch gun carriages were burned when the rebels heard a gunboat (the imitation monitor) was coming down. One 11-inch and one 9-inch gun were removed and a few shells.” Recommending that an attempt be made to raise Indianola, Porter added: “It would be a great comfort to have the Indianola afloat once more and still on the Navy list.”

USS Octorara, Commander Collins, captured British blockade runner W. Y. Leitch east of Florida with a cargo of salt.

USS Lodona, Commander Edmund R. Colhoun, seized British schooner Minnie attempting to run the blockade at Bull’s Bay, South Carolina, with a cargo of salt.

A landing party under Lieutenant-Commander George U. Morris, USS Port Royal, captured cotton awaiting transportation at Apalachicola, Florida. Three prisoners and a quantity of canister, shot, and chain were also taken.

CSS Oreto, Lieutenant Samuel W. Averett, captured at sea and bonded ship Kate Dyer bound for Antwerp, Belgium.

21 Secretary Mallory wrote Commander Bullock: “The recent repulse of the enemy before Charleston will show the world that we have not been idle with regard to ordnance and that the enemy’s ironclads suffered severely. At a recent experimental trial of the triple-banded Brooke navy gun, a wrought iron bolt was driven through 8 inches of iron and 18 inches of wood. The distance was 260 yards, 16 pounds of powder, with a bolt of 140 pounds.”

Rear Admiral Dahlgren noted in his private journal: “I had a conversation with the Secretary about Charleston. He is not satisfied and thinks Du Pont gave up too soon: I reminded him that Du Pont was a judicious and brave officer, and that the Captains of the iron-dads who were chosen officers concurred with Du Pont.”

Rear Admiral Porter, in USS Lafayette, personally reconnoitered the Confederate works at Grand Gulf. He found a “strung fort” under construction and shelled the workers out. Con-federate steamer Charm attempted to land supplies for the fort but was driven back up the Big Black River. By the 24th, Porter had stationed his gunboats so that they commanded the upper battery at Grand Gulf and closed off the mouth of the Big Black, “through which ammunition and supplies are brought down, and by which the rebels have hitherto obtained supplies from Red River.” Porter continued to call for quick action. ”Dispatch,” he urged Major-General McClernand, “is all important at this moment.”

Confederate guns at Vicksburg opened fire on Union Army steamers attempting a night passage of the batteries. Tigress was sunk and Empire City was totally disabled; Moderator was badly damaged, but J. W. Cheeseman, Anglo Saxon, and Horizon passed safely.

Farragut on board USS Hartford wrote to Rear Admiral Bailey about his passage of Port Hudson: “My disaster in passing Port Hudson was a misfortune incidental to battle, but the damage, with the exception of the loss of the Mississippi was nothing: the smoke was so thick that the pilots could not see. I worked through by the compass as I did by Jackson and had my pilot in the mizzentop…. I have now been absent from my command six weeks and know nothing of what is going on below…. they say no news is good news, and I hear of no disasters, and therefore hope for the best.”

USS Octorara, Commander Collins, seized blockade running British schooner Handy east of Florida with a cargo of salt.

USS Rachel Seaman, Acting Lieutenant Quincy A. Hooper, captured schooner Nymph attempting to run the blockade off Pass Cavallo, Texas, with a cargo including coffee, rice, shoes, and medicine.

22 USS Mount Vernon, Acting Lieutenant Trathen, captured schooner St. George off New Inlet, North Carolina, with a cargo including salt and rum.

Rear Admiral Farragut gave his thoughts on changes in the Navy uniform in a letter to Assistant Secretary Fox: “Pray do not let those officers at Washington be changing our uniform every week or two…. I wish that uniform [for Rear Admiral] had been simply a broad stripe of lace on the cuff say an inch and a quarter wide with a narrow stripe of a quarter of an inch above it, and a little rosette with a silver star in the centre. The star is the designation of the Admiral and therefore should be visible…. but this adding stripes until they reach a man’s elbow, appears to me to be a great error… you must count the stripes to ascertain the officer’s rank, which at any distance is almost impossible…. The practical uniform, Farragut believed, should be ”well suited to the necessities of the service–easy to procure not expensive–easily preserved– and the grades distinctly marked.” It is essentially the one in use today.

23 Steamers Merrimac, Charleston, and Margaret and Jessie successfully ran the blockade into Wil-mington. Brigadier General William H. C. Whiting, CSA, reported: “The Merrimac brings me three splendid Blakely guns, 8-inch rifled 13-pounders.”

CSS Florida, Lieutenant Maffitt, captured and burned at sea bark Henrietta bound for Rio de Janeiro with a cargo including flour.

USS Tioga, Commander Clary, seized blockade running British sloop Justina bound from Indian River, Florida, to Nassau with a cargo of cotton.

USS Pembina, Lieutenant-Commander Jonathan Young, captured sloop Elias Beck with near Mobile.

24 The extent to which the South was forced to dispersion of troops and weapons was graphically illustrated in an exchange of messages between General Beauregard at Charleston and Secretary of War J. A. Seddon. This date, Beauregard wrote requesting Whitworth guns, “one to place on Morris Island, to cover at long range the bar and enable us to get guns off the Keokuk, also to keep the enemy from replacing buoys and surveying [the] bar; the other to place on Sullivan’s Island to cover vessels running the blockade [which] frequently run ashore.” Next day, Seddon replied: ”I regret to be unable to spare the guns even for the object mentioned. The claims of Wilmington and the Mississippi are now paramount.

USS De Soto, Captain William M. Walker, captured blockade running schooners General Prim and Rapid, bound from Mobile to Havana, and sloops Jane Adelie and Bright with cargoes of cotton in the Gulf of Mexico.

CSS Alabama, Captain Semmes, captured and burned whaler Nye off the coast of Brazil with a cargo of sperm and whale oil. Semmes later wrote: “The fates seemed to have a grudge against these New England fishermen, and would persist in throwing them in my way, although I was not on a whaling-ground. This was the sixteenth I had captured–a greater number than had been captured from the English by Commodore David Porter, in his famous cruise in the Pacific, in the frigate Essex, during the war of 1812.”

CSS Florida, Lieutenant Maffitt, captured and destroyed ship Oneida, bound from Shanghai to New York with a cargo of tea.

USS Western World, Acting Master Samuel B. Gregory, and USS Samuel Rotan took schooners Martha Ann and A. Carson off Horn Harbor, Virginia.

USS Pembina, Lieutenant-Commander Young, captured schooner Joe Flanner, bound from Havana to Mobile.

25 CSS Georgia, Lieutenant W. L. Maury, captured ship Dictator with a cargo of coal off the Cape Verde Islands. Maury burned the prize the next day.

26 USS Lexington, Lieutenant-Commander Fitch, joined the ram fleet under Brigadier General Alfred W. Ellet to engage and disperse Confederate cavalry concentrated at the mouth of Duck River, Tennessee.

CSS Alabama, Captain Semmes, captured and burned ship Dorcas Prince at sea, east of Natal, Brazil, with a cargo of coal.

USS De Soto, Captain W. M. Walker, seized British schooner Clarita in the Gulf of Mexico, bound from Havana to Matamoras.

USS Sagamore, Lieutenant-Commander English, captured schooner New Year of Tortugas, Florida, with a cargo of turpentine and cotton.

27 Rear Admiral Porter issued a general order concerning the attack on Grand Gulf: “It is reported that there are four positions where guns are placed, in which case it is desirable that all four places should be engaged at the same time. The Louisville, Carondelet, Mound City, and Pittsburg will proceed in advance, going down slowly, firing their bow guns at the guns in the first battery on the bluff, passing 100 yards from it, and 150 yards apart from each. As they pass the battery on the bluff they will fire grape, canister, and shrapnel, cut at one-half second, and percussion shell from rifled guns.” Porter gave specific orders for the subsequent actions of the gunboats, and instructed: “The Lafayette will drop down…. stern foremost, until within 600 yards, firing her rifled guns with percussion shells at the upper battery. The Tuscumbia will round to outside the Benton, not firing over her while so doing; after rounding to, she will keep astern and inside of the Benton, using her bow guns while the Benton fires her broadside guns. The Tuscumbia and Benton will also fire their stern guns at the forts below them whenever they will hear, using shell together.”

Under Acting Master Louis A. Brown, boat crews from USS Monticello and Matthew Vassar boarded and destroyed British blockade runner Golden Liner in Murrell’s Inlet, South Carolina. The ship contained a cargo of flour, brandy, sugar, and coffee.

USS Preble, Acting Master William F. Shankland, was accidentally destroyed by fire while at anchor off Pensacola.

28 US tug Lily, Acting Master R. H. Timmonds, attempting to cross the bow of USS Choctaw, Lieutenant-Commander Francis M. Ramsay, at anchor in the Yazoo River, was swept by the current into Choctaw’s ram and sunk.

29 Gunboats under Rear Admiral Porter engaged the heavy Confederate works at Grand Gulf, “which,” the Admiral acknowledged, “were very formidable.” In the 5 1/2-hour battle, the gun-boats silenced the lower batteries but could succeed in stopping the fire from the upper forts only ‘for a short time.” Army transports passed safely below the batteries at night. Grand Gulf had been strongly fortified since Rear Admiral Farragut passed the batteries the preceeding summer, to prevent his coming up again,” and four batteries were placed a quarter of a mile apart, com-pletely commanding the Mississippi River.

Though USS Benton, Tuscumbia, and Pittsburg were “pretty much cut up” in the engagement, the expedition was successful and the net result was summed up by Porter: “We are now in a position to make a landing where the general [Grant] pleases.”

A Confederate soldier wrote on 30 April from Grand Gulf remarking on the state of affairs after the gunboat attack: “We came here two weeks ago and have had hot times ever since. Enemy from their gunboats have shelled us every day. Yesterday our batteries gave them a fight. The firing beat Oak Hill, Elkhorn, Corinth, Hutchin’s Bridge, or anything I ever heard. I believe, too, they gave us rather the worst of it. We did not sink a single boat, while they silenced one of our batteries, dismounted 4 pieces, killed Colonel [William] Wade, commanding artillery, and one of his staff, and some 5 or 6 men.

29 April-1 May Union Army and Navy expedition feigned an attack on Confederate batteries at Haynes’ Bluff on the Yazoo River. The force consisted of USS Tyler, Choctaw, DeKalb, Signal, Romeo, Linden, Petrel, Black Hawk, and 3 mortar boats under Lieutenant-Commander Breese and 10 large transports carrying troops under command of Major-General W. T. Sherman. The feint was made to prevent Confederates from reinforcing Grand Gulf. On the 29th the expedition proceeded as far as Chickasaw Bayou. As the force departed on the morning of the 30th, Petrel, remained at Old River on station; the remaining vessels moved up the Yazoo with Choctaw and DeKalb opening fire on the main works at Drumgould’s Bluff and Tyler and Black Hawk opening on the fieldworks and batteries. Though instructed not to conduct an actual assault, the feint was so vigorously prosecuted that Choctaw, Lieutenant-Commander Ramsay, was struck 53 times by Confederate guns. The soldiers were landed and “marched up toward Haynes’ Bluff on the only roadway, the levee, making quite a display, and threatening one also.” Naval gunfire supported the soldiers throughout the demonstration, which lasted through 1 May. The evening of the 1st, the expedition returned to the mouth of the Yazoo. Porter reported to Secretary Welles: ”The plan succeeded admirably, though the vessels were more exposed than the occasion called for; still as they met with no casualties, with the exception of the hulls, it mattered but little.”

USS Juniata, Commander John M. B. Clita, captured schooner Harvest at sea north of the Baha-mas with a cargo of cotton,

30 April-1 May Major-General Grant ferried his troops across the Mississippi River at Bruinsburg to commence the work of isolating Vicksburg from reinforcements.

 

 

MAY 1863

1 As requested by Secretary Mallory, the Confederate Congress enacted legislation “To create a Provisional Navy of the Confederate States.” The object of the act, as explained by Captain Semmes, was…. without interfering with the rank of the officers in the Regular Navy, to cull out from the navy list, younger and more active men, and put them in the Provisional Navy, with increased rank. The Regular Navy became, thus, a kind of retired list, and the Secretary of the Navy was enabled to accomplish his object of bringing forward younger officers for active service, without wounding the feelings of the older officers, by promoting their juniors over their heads, on the same list.” At this time the Confederate Congress also provided that: ”…. all persons serving in the land forces of the Confederate States who shall desire to be transferred to the naval service, and whose transfer as seamen or ordinary seamen shall be applied for by the Secretary of the Navy, shall be transferred from the land to the naval service…. The Con-federate Navy suffered from an acute shortage of seamen. Mallory complained that the law was not complied with, and that hundreds of men had applied for naval duty but were not transferred.

Boat expedition from USS Western World, Acting Master S. B. Gregory, and USS Crusader, Acting Master Andrews, destroyed two Confederate schooners aground at Milford Haven, Virginia.

USS Kanawha, Lieutenant-Commander Mayo, captured schooner Dart, bound from Havana to Mobile.

2 Captain John Rodgers wrote Secretary Welles relative to the April attack on Charleston: “The punishment which the monitors are able to stand is wonderful but it cannot be denied that their gun gear is more liable to accident than was foreseen. Battles are won by two qualities, ability to endure, and ability to injure. The first we possess in an unrivalled degree the latter one more sparingly. No vessels have ever been under such a fire as that of Charleston before, since the guns are new inventions only perfected since the Crimean War. When a man is in a tight place, he is to do the best he can-that best is often not a pleasant choice. Still if it is the best he can do, it is a great want of wisdom not to do the best he can. Experiment before the most formidable modern artillery has demonstrated that the monitors are more liable to lose their power of shooting than was foreseen but it does not appear that these deficiencies are irremediable even in the present monitors…. the vessels were fast getting hors de combat. No one can say what would have been the result of a renewal of the fight but if after a renewal we had been driven out, and left a single monitor to fall into the enemy’s hands then the whole character of the war would have changed the wooden blockade would have been at an end as far at least as Charleston is concerned, as far indeed as she could get along the coast. Seeing the damage we received and not knowing the in jury we were doing, the Admiral did not choose to risk the chances of a combat a’ l’outrance which if it went against us would entail such momentous consequences. It was not fair game. In losing a couple of monitors to them we should receive far more injury than the taking of Charleston would advance our cause.

Two boat crews from USS Roebuck, Acting Master John Sherrill, seized blockade running British schooner Emma Amelia off St. Joseph’s Bay, Florida, with a cargo including flour and wine.

USS Perry, Acting Master William D. Urann, captured blockade running schooner Alma, bound from Bermuda to Beaufort, South Carolina, with a cargo of salt and liquor.

USS Sacramento, Captain Charles S. Boggs, seized blockade running British schooner Wanderer off Murrell’s Inlet, North Carolina, with a cargo of salt and herring.

2-9 Union gunboats under Lieutenant-Commander Selfridge, protecting steamers from guerrilla activity in the Greenville, Mississippi, vicinity, responded quickly when such action required it. On 2 May steamer Era was fired upon 3 miles above Greenville. USS Cricket, Acting Lieutenant Amos R. Langthorne, engaged the Confederate battery and then convoyed steamer Champion downstream the following day. In Cricket’s absence, steamer Minnesota was destroyed by Southern guerrilla troops. USS Conestoga drove the force away and remained in the area until the evening of the 7th, when, after coaling USS Cricket and Rattler, she returned to the mouth of the White River. Next day, Selfridge ordered USS General Bragg to ‘destroy the property in the vicinity of the recent firing upon the gunboat Cricket and transport Minnesota.” On the 9th this order was carried out and ”houses etc…. affording a protection to the enemy” were destroyed, after which the Union ships returned to their normal stations.

3 Having paved the way for a final assault on Grand Gulf with the attack of 29 April, Rear Admiral Porter once again moved his gunboats against the strong Confederate batteries. The Southerners, however, finding their position totally untenable, Grant having taken his army into the country back of Grand Gulf, had evacuated. The great land-sea pincer could now close on Vicksburg. As Porter remarked to Secretary Welles: ”… it is with great pleasure that I report that the Navy holds the door to Vicksburg.” In a general order the Admiral praised those under his command: ”I take this occasion to thank the officers and men engaged in the attack on the forts at Grand Gulf for the unflinching gallantry displayed in that affair. Never has there been so long and steady a fight against forts so well placed and ably commanded: “I take this occasion to thank the officers and men engaged in the attack on the forts at Grand Gulf for the unflinching gallantry displayed in that affair. Never has there been so long and steady a fight against forts so well placed and ably commanded…. We have met losses which we can not but deplore; still, we should not regret the death of those who died so nobly at their guns. Officers and men, let us always be ready to make the sacrifice when duty requires it.”

Porter departed Grand Gulf with his gunboat squadron and rendezvoused that evening with the Farragut fleet at the mouth of the Red River. After obtaining supplies, he proceeded up the River the next day with USS Benton, Lafayette, Pittsburg, Sterling Price, ram Switzerland, and tug Ivy. USS Estrella and Arina joined en route.

The evening of 5 May, the ships arrived at Fort De Russy, Louisiana, ”a powerful casemated work” which the Confederates had recently evacu-ated in the face of the naval threat.

Porter pushed past a heavy obstruction in the river and proceeded to Alexandria, Louisiana, which he took possession of formally on the morning of the 7th, ”without encountering any resistance.” Subsequently turning the town over to Army troops, and unable to continue upriver because of the low water, Porter’s force returned to Fort De Russy and partially destroyed it.

Porter also sent USS Sterling Price, Pittsburg, Arina, and ram Switzerland up the Black River on a reconnaissance. At Harrisonburg these ships encountered heavy batteries, which they engaged with little effect because of the position of Leaving the larger portion of his force at the Red River, Porter returned to Grand Gulf on the 13th.
the guns ”on high hills.”
Confederate troops under Captain Edward F. Hobby, CSA, captured a launch and drove off two other boats from USS William G. Anderson, Acting Lieutenant Hill, at St. Joseph’s Island, Texas. The Union boats were salvaging cotton from a sloop which had been run ashore on 30 April.

3 CSS Alabama, Captain Semmes, captured and burned bark Union Jack and ship Sea Lark off Brazil.
4 A part of Rear Admiral Porter’s squadron having arrived off the Red River the previous evening, Rear Admiral Farragut sent a dispatch to Secretary Welles: “Feeling now that my instructions of October 2, 1862, have been carried out by my maintenance of the blockade of Red River until the arrival of Admiral Porter…. I shall return to New Orleans as soon as practicable, leaving the Hartford and Albatross at the mouth of Red River to await the result of the combined attack upon Alexandria, but with order to Commodore Palmer to avail himself of the first good opportunity to run down past Port Hudson.” As the Admiral left Hartford, the crew manned the rigging and filled the air with cheers in tribute to him.

USS Albatross, Lieutenant-Commander John E. Hart, on a reconnaissance up the Red River, engaged armed iron steamers Grand Duke and Mary T and Confederate cavalry near Fort De Russy. The Union gunboat sustained considerable damage and was compelled to withdraw.

USS Chocura, Lieutenant-Commander Truxtun, with USS Maratanza in company, seized sloop Express off Charleston with a cargo of salt.

USS Kennebec, Lieutenant-Commander John H. Russell, captured schooner Juniper, bound from Havana to Mobile.

5 Major-General John A. Dix wrote Rear Admiral 5 p, Lee, requesting naval assistance and sup-port during an expedition on the York River: “I need two gunboats to cover the landing of the troops. Lee assigned USS Commodore Morris, Morse, and Mystic to this duty and directed Lieu-tenant Commander Gillis to “…. give the army all the assistance in your power.” Two days later the Union vessels convoyed the Army transports as far as West Point and supported the landing. Guarding the troops until the soldiers’ line of entrenchments was secure, Gillis de-tailed Morse and Mystic to remain on station to ”repel any attack that may be made, as their guns command the peninsula completely.”

USS Tahoma, Lieutenant-Commander A. A. Semmes, captured schooner Crazy Jane in the Gulf of Mexico northwest of Charlotte Harbor, Florida, with a cargo of cotton and turpentine.

6 Commander North, CSN, wrote Secretary Mallory from Scotland regarding ships being built in England: ”For the first time I begin to fear that our vessels stand in much danger of being seized by this Government. I have written to our minister in France to know if this ship can be put under the French flag; this will involve some expense, but shall not consider a few thousand pounds…. if we can only succeed in getting out…. aiding to raise the blockade and making captures of some of their vessels, which may prove valuable additions to our little navy.

Rear Admiral Dahlgren noted in his private journal: “Captain Drayton came in about supper-time from New York, where he had brought the Passaic from Port Royal. He says it would be madness to go into Charleston again, and all the Captains who were in the action so agree fully. He thinks Dupont intended to renew the attack, but when the Captains of the iron-dads assembled in his ship, and made their reports, he gave it up.

CSS Florida, Lieutenant Maffitt, captured brig Clarence off the coast of Brazil. Clarence was converted into a Confederate Cruiser under Lieutenant Charles Read who wrote: ”I propose to take the brig which we have just captured, and with a crew of twenty men to proceed to Hampton Roads and cut out a gunboat or steamer of the enemy.” Maffitt concurred with the daring plan and ordered Clarence to raid Union shipping at either Hampton Roads or Baltimore.

USS R. R. Cuyler, Lieutenant-Commander James E. Jouett, captured steamer Eugenie bound from Havana to Mobile.

USS Dragon, Acting Master G. F. Hill, seized schooner Samuel First attempting to run the block-ade above Potomac Creek, Virginia.

7 The Charleston Mercury reported: ”The guns of this famous ironclad [USS Keokuk] now lie on the South Commercial wharf. They consist of two long XI-inch columbiads, and will be mounted for our defense, valuable acquisitions, no less than handsome trophies of the battle of Charleston Harbor…. The turret had to be unbolted, or unscrewed, and taken off before the guns could be slung for removal. This was an unpleasant job of some difficulty, the labor being performed under water, when the sea was smooth, and in the night time only. Those engaged in the under-taking, going in the small boat of the fort, were sometimes protected from the enemy by the presence of our gunboats; at other times not. One gun was raised last week, being removed by the old lightboat. General Ripley himself, night before last, went down to superintend the removal of the second gun. Enterprise, even with scant means, can accomplish much.”

8 Secretary Welles received Rear Admiral Porter’s dispatch regarding the fall of Grand Golf and informed President Lincoln. ”The news,” wrote Welles, ”was highly gratifying to the President, who had not heard of it until I met him at the Cabinet-meeting.

Union Mortar Flotilla under Commander Charles H. B. Caldwell, supported by USS Richmond Captain Alden, opened the bombardment of the Confederate works at Port Hudson, Louisiana.

USS Canandaigua, Captain Joseph F. Green, seized blockade running steamer Cherokee off Charles-ton with a cargo of cotton.

USS Flag, Commander James H. Strong, captured schooner Amelia attempting to run the block-ade out of Charleston late at night with a cargo of cotton. While under tow, Amelia developed a serious leak in a storm on the 15th and had to be abandoned.

USS Primrose, Master William T. Street, captured schooner Sarah Lavinia at Corrotoman Creek, Virginia.

9 Captain Case, commanding USS Iroquois, reported that the Confederates were mounting guns on the northern faces of Fort Fisher at Wilmington. ”They appear, he wrote Rear Admiral S. P. Lee, ”to be large caliber.” This defensive strengthening of the Southern position was in keeping with the view voiced by Lieutenant John Taylor Wood, CSN, in a 14 February 1863, letter to President Davis concerning the defenses of Wilmington: ”The batteries covering the water approaches, as far as I am able to judge, are well placed and admirably constructed. But the great want, the absolute necessity of the place if it is to be held against naval attack, is heavy guns, larger caliber.” So well did the Confederates do their job that Fort Fisher successfully dominated Cape Fear until the massive amphibious operation in January 1865.

USS Aroostook, Lieutenant-Commander Franklin, seized schooner Sea Lion bound from Mobile to Havana with a cargo of cotton.

10 USS Mound City, Lieutenant-Commander Bryon Wilson, reconnoitering near Warrenton, Mis-sissippi took a recently constructed battery under fire and “in a short time it was all in a blaze.’ Rear Admiral Porter observed: “Thus ended a fort in the space of an hour which had taken the rebels five months to build, working mostly day and night.” This form of constant hammering by the gunboats at every point along the western waters sapped Confederate strength and resources. Boat crews from USS Owasco, Lieutenant-Commander John Madigan, Jr., and USS Katahdin, Lieutenant-Commander Philip C. Johnson, burned blockade runner Hanover off Galveston.

12 Writing of the significance of Farragut’s operations in the Mississippi below Vicksburg, Commodore H. H. Bell said I an, one of those who attaches more importance to the admiral’s brilliant move up the river than to anything that has been done by navy or army since capture of New Orleans. It was the finishing stroke to that great blow, and I am glad the admiral did it single handed, unassisted from other quarters. The want of provisions soon became sensibly felt from Vicksburg to Richmond…. It was better than any battle, for it is of wider influence and more generally felt than any battle. Man cannot hold together without food…. It was gallantly done, and I think the admiral has fairly wedded his name to the Mississippi through all ages to come.”

Having begun an expedition up the Tennessee River on 5 May to destroy “every kind of boat that could serve the rebels to cross the river,” gunboats under Lieutenant-Commander S. L. Phelps supported an Army assault on Confederate troops at Linden, Tennessee. ”Along the river,” Phelps reported, ”I heard of detachments of rebel cavalry at various Points At Linden…. there was a rebel force of this kind posted. I arranged with Colonel [William] K. M.; Breckenridge to cross his small force and cover different Points with the gunboats, places to which he could retreat if need be, while he should attempt to surprise Linden.” Taking the Union cavalry on board the gunboats Phelps transported them across the river ”with little noise,” thereby enabling the surprise attack to be completely successful. In many effective ways mobile naval support of Army movements extended the effective use of seapower deep into the arteries of the Confederacy.

USS Conemaugh, Commander Reed Werden, and USS Monticello, Lieutenant-Commander Braine, stood in close to shore at Murrell’s Inlet, South Carolina, and bombarded five schooners aground there. Werden reported: ”It affords me pleasure to state that so accurate was our firing that in less than an hour we had fired about 100 bales of cotton on the beach near the schooners, set one schooner on fire, and more or less injured all the others in spars and hull.”

13 The persistent Army-Navy siege and assault on Vicksburg compelled Confederate strategists to withdraw much needed troops from the eastern front in an effort to bring relief to their beleaguered forces in the west. General Beauregard and others warned repeatedly of the possible disasters such loss of strength in the Charleston area and elsewhere might bring. This date, Confederate Secretary of War James A. Seddon wrote to those objecting to the transfer of troops from Charles-ton to Vicksburg: I beg you to reflect on the vital importance of the Mississippi to our cause, to South Carolina, and to Charleston itself. Scarce any point in the Confederacy can be deemed more essential, for the ’cause of each is the cause of all,’ and the sundering of the Confederacy [along the line of the Mississippi] would be felt as almost a mortal blow to the most remote parts.”

General Banks wrote Rear Admiral Farragot that the withdrawal of USS Hartford and other ships down river from above Port Hudson “would lose to us all that has been gained in the cam-paigns for the passage of the fleet to this day, as it would reopen to Port Hudson the now closed avenue of supplies.” Farragut responded on 15 May and directed that Commodore James S. Palmer remain above “so long as he can contribute to the fall of Port Hudson.”

Float expedition from USS Kingfisher, Acting Master John C. Dutch, departed St. Helena Sound for Edisto, South Carolina, where previous reconnaissance missions had revealed a large quantity of corn was stored. The expedition returned five days later with 800 bushels. “My object,” Dutch reported, ”in doing this was, first, to prevent its falling into rebel hands, and, second, to supply the people in this vicinity.”

USS Huntsville, Acting Lieutenant W. C. Rogers, captured schooner A. J. Hodge at sea off the east Florida coast.

USS Daffodil, Acting Master E. M. Baldwin, seized blockade running British schooner Wonder off Port Royal.

CSS Florida, Lieutenant Maffitt, captured ship Crown Point off the coast of Brazil. After remov-ing stores, Maffitt burned the prize.

USS De Soto, Captain Walker, seized schooner Sea Bird from Havana, off Pensacola Bay.

14 Boat crew from USS Currituck, Acting Master Linnekin, captured schooner Ladies’ Delight near Urbanna, Virginia.

15 Writing Benjamin F. Isherwood, Chief of the Bureau of Steam Engineering, regarding the US naval floating machine shop at Port Royal, Rear Admiral Du Pont said: “This establishment is a most essential and important accession to the efficiency of this squadron, turning out an amount of work highly creditable to all concerned with it and particularly to Chief Engineer McCleery whose attention is ceaseless to the wants of the steamers now by long service so frequently requiring repairs. In this connection I would call the attention of the Bureau to the necessity of sending out a small store vessel in which the materials required for work at the machine shop, now constantly increasing since the arrival of the ironclads, could be stored, and that some person be carefully selected to take charge thereof. The machine shop, as the Bureau is aware is in two old hulks, one of which is taken up entirely as a workshop and for quarters; and the other is in too decayed a condition to be suitable for the purpose of stowage.”

US S. Canandaigua, Captain J. F. Green, captured blockade running sloop Secesh off Charleston with a cargo of cotton.

USS Kanawha, Lieutenant-Commander Mayo, seized blockade running British brig Comet 20 miles east of Fort Morgan, Mobile Bay.

Some 35 Confederates seized mail steamers Arrow and Emily at Currituck bridge and forced the crews to pilot them to Franklin, Virginia.

16 Commander Bulloch wrote Secretary Mallory from London: “…. I had understood, and Mr. Slidell was under the impression, that French builders, being anxious to establish business con-nections with the South and to compete with England for the custom of the Confederate States after the war, would be willing to deal with us largely upon credit…. I found that French builders, like the English, wanted money, and were not willing to lay down the ships unless I could give security in the shape of cotton certificates…. Chronic currency shortage constantly blocked Confederate ambitions abroad.

USS Two Sisters, Acting Master’s Mate John Boyle, captured schooner Oliver S. Breese off the Anclote Keys, Florida, hound from Havana to Bayport, Florida.

Store ship USS Courier, Acting Master Walter K. Cressy, captured blockade running sloops Angelina and Emeline off the South Carolina coast, bound from Charleston to Nassau with cargoes of cotton.

USS Powhatan, Captain Steedman, captured sloop C. Routereau off Charleston with small a cargo of cotton and turpentine.

17 Confederate blockade runner Cuba was burned by her crew in the Gulf of Mexico to prevent capture by USS De Soto, Captain W. M. Walker. Rear Admiral Bailey reported: “Her a cargo cost 5400,000 in specie at Havana, and was worth at Mobile a million and a quarter.

USS Courier, Acting Master Cressy, captured schooner Maria Bishop at sea off Cape Romain, South Carolina, with a cargo of cotton.

Flag Officer Silas H. Stringham, in USS Minnesota, reported the capture of schooner Almira Ann near the Chickahominy River, Virginia, with a cargo of timber.

USS Kanawha, Lieutenant-Commander Mayo, captured schooner Hunter bound from Mobile to Havana with a cargo of cotton.

18 Gunboats under Rear Admiral Porter joined with troops under Generals Grant and W. T. Sherman in assaulting Confederate works to the rear of Vicksburg. Porter had departed for the operation on the Yazoo River on the 15th. He reported to Secretary Welles: ”Leaving two of the ironclads at Red River, one at Grand Gulf, one at Carthage, three at Warrenton, and two in the Yazoo, left me a small force to cooperate with; still, I disposed of them to the best advantage.” Observing that Grant’s troops had cut off Confederates at Snyder’s Bluff, Porter ordered USS Baron Dc Kalb, Choctaw, Linden, Romeo, Petrel, and Forest Rose up the Yazoo to assist the Army. Upon the Union occupation of Snyder’s Bluff, Porter quickly sent up provisions for the troops, and USS De KaIb, Lieutenant-Commander J. G. Walker, pushed on to Haynes’ Bluff which the Southerners were evacuating. Porter noted that “guns, forts, tents, and equipage of all kinds fell into our hands.” Quickly taking advantage of the opportunities presented by the fall of the heavy works, the Admiral moved the gunboats into position and began to shell the hill batteries at Vicksburg. On. the 19th six mortars began to fire “night and day as rapidly as they could.”

USS Linden, Acting Lieutenant T. E. Smith, escorted five Army transports down the Mississippi. The lead transport, Crescent City, was fired into by a Confederate masked battery at Island No. 82, wounding some soldiers. Linden immediately opened fire, and drove the artillerists from their battery. Under the ships’ guns, troops were landed and the buildings in the area were destroyed in retaliation

USS Kanawha, Lieutenant-Commander Mayo, took schooner Ripple bound from Mobile to Havana with a cargo of cotton.

USS Shepherd Knapp, Acting Lieutenant Henry Eytinge, ran aground on a reef at Cape Haitien, West Indies, could not get off, and was stripped of all usable stores, provisions, and instruments before being abandoned.

Boat crew under Acting Master’s Mate N. Mayo Dyer from USSR. R. Cuyler boarded, captured, and burned schooner Isabel near Fort Morgan, Mobile Bay.

USS Octorara, Commander Collins, captured British blockade runner Eagle near the Bahamas. Collins reported that the chase had failed “to heave to till we had disabled her machinery.

18-21 Confederate troops planted torpedoes in Skull Creek, South Carolina, “with a view of destroy-ing the enemy’s vessels, which are constantly passing through this thoroughfare.”

19 As Union Army troops advanced on Vicksburg, Generals Grant and Sherman sought continuous naval support for their movements. Grant wrote Rear Admiral Porter: ”If you can run down and throw shell in just back of the city it will aid us and demoralize an already badly beaten enemy.’ Sherman requested similar assistance: “My right [flank] is on the Mississippi. We have possession of the bluff down a mile or more below the mouth of the Bayou. Can’t you send immediately a couple of gunboats down? They can easily see and distinguish our men, and can silence a water battery that is the extremity of their flank on the river and enfilade the left flank of their works.” USS Benton, Lieutenant-Commander James A.- Greer, was ordered into action at once by Porter: “The moment you see the forts on the hills opening on our troops advancing toward the town, move up and open at long range with shell on such forts as may be firing. The object is to disconcert the enemy, and by firing shell at your longest range, you can do so. Do not come in range of the guns above the city, as there arc no forts there that can trouble our army. Fire on the forts on the hill, and try and drop your shell in them.”

Lieutenant-Commander Reigart B. Lowry wrote Secretary Welles urging that naval officers and seamen not employed at sea be used to man forts and seacoast defenses: ”The most successful defenses made against us – – – at various points of the Mississippi and the seacoast have been made by ex-naval officers and seamen; in the last defense of Port Hudson the guns were worked by seamen and naval men, so at Vicksburg, at Galveston, and Charleston. The defenses of Sebastopol were entirely defended by Russian seamen for many months, while from the fort guarding that port they beat back the combined fleets of England and France.”

USS Huntsville, Acting Lieutenant W. C. Rogers, seized blockade running Spanish steamer Union in the Gulf of Mexico west of St. Petersburg.

Mortar schooner USS Sophronia, Acting Ensign William R. Rude, seized schooner Mignonette at Piney Point, Virginia, attempting to smuggle whisky.

USS De Soto, Captain W. M. Walker, captured schooner Mississippian in the Gulf of Mexico, bound from Mobile to Havana with a cargo of cotton and turpentine.

20 Rear Admiral Farragut reported to Secretary Welles: ”We are again about to attack Port Hudson. General Banks supported by the Hartford, Albatross and some of the small gunboats, will attack from above, landing probably at Bayou Sara, while General Augur will march up from Baton Rouge and will attack the place from below…. my vessels are pretty well used up, but they must work as long as they can.”

Writing of the reports he had made to the Navy Department after the Charleston attack, Rear Admiral Du Pont noted: ”I did not call a failure, a reconnaissance. 1 told them, to renew the attack would be to convert failure into disaster. I told them moreover that Charleston could not be taken by a purely naval attack-nor can it be in the ordinary professional acceptation of the term not that there is not power enough in the country to do it- but there is nothing to justify its application or to reward its success commensurate with the sacrifice etc. When Admiral Sir Charles Napier informed the Admiralty that to attack Cronstadt would be the destruction of the British fleet-or when the combined fleets withdrew from the attack of the forts at Sebastopol, it was not intended to convey, there was not wealth and life enough in Britain and France to accomplish it. Blood and treasure may do almost anything in war. Suvorov bridged marshes with human bodies, by forcing his advance guard into them, until the remainder of his army found a foot-hold on their fallen comrades.”

Boat crew under Acting Master’s Mate Charles W. Fisher of USS Louisiana captured schooner R. T. Renshaw in the Tar River, above Washington, North Carolina.

21 General Grant wrote Rear Admiral Porter, informing him of an anticipated Army attack on Vicksburg and requesting the assistance of the gunboats: ”I expect to assault the city at 10 a.m. tomorrow. I would request, and earnestly request it, that you send up the gunboats below the city and shell the rebel entrenchments until that hour and for thirty minutes after.If the mortars could all be sent down to near this point on the Louisiana shore, and throw shells during the night, it would materially aid me. I would like at least to have the enemy kept annoyed during the night.” Porter responded and “kept six mortars playing rapidly on the works and town all night; sent the Benton, Mound City, and Carondelet up to shell the water batteries, and other places where troops might be resting during the night.” Early the morning of 22 May, Mound City, Lieutenant-Commander Wilson, engaged the hill batteries. An hour later she was joined by USS Benton, Tuscumbia, and Carondelet. The combined fire temporarily silenced the Confederate work. Leaving Tuscumbia to prevent further action by the hill batteries, Porter proceeded with the other three gunboats against the water batteries. These guns opened on the Union ships “furiously,” but Porter forced his way to within a quarter of a mile of them. By this time the gunboats had been engaged for an hour longer than Grant had requested, and, with no Army assault apparently forthcoming, the Admiral directed his ships to drop back Out of range. The gunboats were hit ”a number of times” but suffered little severe damage; they were, however, nearly out of ammuni-tion when the attack was broken off. The Admiral later learned that the troops ashore had attacked Vicksburg, an unsuccessful assault that had been obscured from the squadron’s view by the smoke and noise of its own guns and the Confederate batteries. Praising Grant’s effort, Porter remarked: ”The army had terrible work before them, and are fighting as well as soldiers ever fought before, but the works are stronger than any of us dreamed of.” Brigadier General John McArthur in turn praised the work of the gunboats. He wrote Porter: “I received your communication regarding the silencing of the two batteries below Vicksburg, and in reply would say that I witnessed with intense satisfaction the firing on that day, being the finest I have yet seen.

Under Lieutenant-Commander J. G. Walker, USS Baron De Kalb, Choctaw, Forest Rose, Linden, and Petrel pushed up the Yazoo River from Haynes’ Bluff to Yazoo City, Mississippi. As the gun-boats approached the city, Commander Isaac N. Brown, CSN, who had commanded the heroic ram CSS Arkansas the preceding summer, was forced to destroy three ”powerful steamers, rams and a “fine navy yard, with machine shops of all kinds, sawmills, blacksmith shops, etc…. to prevent their capture. Porter noted that ”what he had begun our forces finished,” as the city was evacuated by the Southerners. The Confederate steamers destroyed were Mobile, Republic, and ”a monster, 310 feet long and 70 feet beam.” Had the latter been completed, ”she would have given us much trouble.” Porter’s prediction to Secretary Welles at the end of the expedition, though overly optimistic in terms of the time that would be required, was nonetheless a clear summary of the effect of the gunboats’ sweep up the Yazoo: ”It is a mere question of a few hours, and then, with the exception of Port Hudson (which will follow Vicksburg), the Missis-sippi will be open its entire length.”

Rear Admiral Farragut wrote Captain John R. Goldsborough, commanding the blockading force off Mobile: “I am much gratified to find that you are adding to the successes of the day by the number of captures recently made…. I know’ that your service is one of great anxiety, and irksome, with but little compensation save the pleasure of knowing that you are doing your duty toward your country. I know your officers would be glad to be with me in the river, and gladly would I bring them here to my assistance were it not indispensable to have them on the blockade. I feel as if I was about to make the last blow at them [the Confederates] I shall for some time to come. The fall of Port Hudson will place Admiral Porter in command of the river, and I shall join my fleet outside, and trust I shall call on my officers outside for their exertions in the reduc-tions of the last two places Mobile and Galveston.”

USS Union, Acting Lieutenant Edward Conroy, seized blockade running British schooner Linnet in the Gulf of Mexico, west of Charlotte Harbor, Florida.

USS Currituck, Acting Master Linnekin, USS Anacostia, Acting Master Nelson Provost, and USS Satellite, Acting Master John F. D. Robinson, captured schooner Emily at the mouth of the Rappahannock River.

22 Small boats from USS Fort Henry, Lieutenant-Commander McCauley, captured sloop Isabella in Waccassassa Bay, Florida.

Union Army steamer Allison destroyed schooner Sea Bird after seizing her a cargo of coal near New Bern, North Carolina.

24 Confederates fired on the commissary and quartermaster boat of the Marine Brigade under Briga-dier General A. ‘V. Ellet above Austin, Mississippi, on the evening of 23 May. Before dawn, this date, Ellet’s forces went ashore, engaged Confederate cavalry some 8 miles outside of Austin, and, after a 2-hour engagement, compelled the Southerners to withdraw. Finding evidence of smuggling and in reprisal for the firing of the previous evening, Ellet ordered the town burned. ”As the fire progressed,” Ellet reported, ”the discharge of firearms was rapid and frequent in the burning buildings, showing that fire is more penetrating in its search [for hidden weapons] than my men had been, two heavy explosions of powder also occurred during the conflagration.

A boat expedition under Acting Master Edgar Van Slyck from USS Port Royal, Lieutenant-Commander Morris, captured sloop Fashion above Apalachicola, Florida, with a cargo of cotton. Van Slyck also burned the facility at Devil’s Elbow where the sloop had been previously repaired and destroyed a barge near Fashion.

24-30 Lieutenant-Commander J. G. Walker ascended the Yazoo River with USS Baron De KaIb, Forest Rose, Linden, Signal, and Petrel to capture transports and to break up Confederate movements. Fifteen miles below Fort Pemberton, Walker found and burned four steamers which were sunk on a bar blocking the river. Fire was exchanged with Confederate sharp shooters as the Union gunboats returned downriver. A landing party destroyed a large sawmill, and at Yazoo City “brought away a large quantity of bar, round, and flat iron from the navy yard.” Walker next penetrated the Sunflower River for about 150 miles, destroying shipping and grain before return-ing to the mouth of the Yazoo River. Admiral Porter reported to Secretary Welles: ”Steamers to the amount of $700,00n were destroyed by the late expedition 9 in all.”

25 CSS Alabama, Captain Semmes, captured and burned ship Gildersleeve and bonded Justina off Bahia, Brazil.

26 General Banks wrote Rear Admiral Farragut of the status of the assault on Port Hudson, adding: ”Please let the mortars destroy the enemy’s rest at night.” The Admiral answered: ”I shall con-tinue to harass the enemy occasionally day and night. He was pretty well exercised last night both by the Hartford and the mortars…. We have several mortar boats up half a mile nearer, and the ships will be ready to open the moment you give us notice…. We will aid you all we can.

Commander Davenport reported the assistance rendered the Army in the occupation of Wilkinson’s Point, North. Carolina. USS Ceres, Shawsheen, and Brinker reconnoitered the area along the Neuse River, capturing and destroying a number of small schooners and boats. The gunboats then covered the landing of the troops and remained on station until the Army was solidly entrenched in its position.

27 USS Cincinnati, Lieutenant Bache, “…. in accordance with Generals Grant’s and Sherman’s urgent request,” moved to enfilade some rifle pits which had barred the Army’s progress before Vicksburg. Though Porter took great precautions for the ship’s safety by packing her with logs and hay, a shot entered Cincinnati’s magazine, “and she commenced filling rapidly.” Bache reported: ”Before and after this time the enemy fired with great accuracy, hitting us almost every time. We were especially annoyed by plunging shots from the hills, an 8-inch rifle and a 10-inch smoothbore doing us much damage. The shot went entirely through our protection-hay, wood, and iron.” Cincinnati, suffering 25 killed or wounded and 15 probable drownings, went down with her colors nailed to the mast. General Sherman wrote: “The style in which the Cincinnati engaged the battery elicited universal praise.” And Secretary Welles expressed the Department’s appreciation of your brave conduct.”

Confederate defenders turned back a major assault on Port Hudson, inflicting severe losses on the Union Army. General Banks’ troops fell back into siege position and appealed to Rear Admiral Farragut to continue the mortar and ship bombardment night and day, and requested naval offi-cers and Marines to man a heavy naval battery ashore. A week later, Farragut reported the situation to Welles: “General Banks still has Port Hudson closely invested and is now putting up a battery of four IX-inch guns and four 24 pounders. The first will be superintended by Lieutenant [Commander] Terry, of the Richmond, and worked by four of her gun crews and to be used as a breaching battery. We continue to shell the enemy every night from three to five hours, and at times during the day when they open fire on our troops…. I have the Hartford and two or three gunboats above Port Hudson; the Richmond, Genesee, Essex, and this vessel [Monongahela], together with the mortar boats below, ready to aid the army in any way in our power.

CSS Chattahoochee, Lieutenant John J. Guthrie, was accidentally sunk with what one Southern newspaper termed ”terrible loss of life” by an explosion in her boilers. Occurring while the gunboat was at anchor in the Chattahoochee River, Georgia, the accident cost the lives of some 18 men and injured others. She was later raised but never put to sea and was ultimately destroyed at war’s end by the Confederates.

From Grand Gulf Lieutenant-Commander Elias K. Owen, USS Louisville, reported to Rear Admiral Porter that, in accord with his order of the 23d, the destruction of the abandoned Rock Hill Point Battery had begun. He also informed the Admiral that at “the earnest request of Colonel [William] Hall, late commanding this post, I went up Big Black some three miles and destroyed a raft the enemy had placed across the river, chained at both ends.

USS Coeur de Lion, Acting Master William G. Morris, burned schooners Charity, Gazelle, and Flight in the Yeoeomico River, Virginia.

USS Brooklyn, Commodore H. H. Bell, captured sloop Blazer with a cargo of cotton at Pass Cavallo, Texas.

28 Rear Admiral Porter instructed his gunboat squadron that “it will be the duty of the commander of every vessel to fire on people working on the enemy’s batteries, to have officers on shore examining the heights, and not to have it said that the enemy put up batteries in sight of them and they did nothing to prevent it.” The heavy firepower of the Union vessels- massed, mobile artillery-seriously hindered Confederate defenses and was a decisive factor in battle.

USS Brooklyn, Commodore H. H. Bell, captured sloop Kate at Point Isabel, Texas, with a cargo of cotton.

29 Major-General Grant sent two communiqués to Rear Admiral Porter, requesting naval assistance for Army operations near Vicksburg. In the first he informed the Admiral that a force under Major-General Frank P. Blair, Jr., was attempting “to clear out the enemy between the [Big Black and Yazoo rivers, and, if possible, destroy the Mississippi Central Railroad Bridge” over the former. Grant pointed out that there was ”great danger” of the Confederates cutting this expedition off in the rear and asked that Porter send “one or two gunboats to navigate the Yazoo as high up as Yazoo City,” so that Blair would be assured an escape route if necessary.

In the second letter, Grant asked Porter: ”Will you have the goodness to order the Marine Brigade to Haynes’ Bluff, with directions to disembark and remain in occupation until I can relieve them by other troops?. I have also to request that you put at the disposal of Major S. C. Lyford, chief of ordnance, two siege guns, ammunition, and implements complete, to be placed to the rear of Vicksburg. After they are in battery, and ready for use, I should be pleased to have them manned by crews from your fleet.” Porter immediately replied that the brigade would leave early the next morning but that he had only one suitable large gun for use ashore and that one he was fitting on a mortar boat for close support ”to throw shell into the [rifle] pits in front of Sherman.” There were, however, six 8-inch guns on board USS Manitou, he told Grant, and he would have them landed as soon as that ship returned from Yazoo City.

Also on this date, Lieutenant-Commander Greer, USS Benton, reported firing on Confederates building rifle pits on the crest and side of a hill near the battery that commanded the canal. He drove them away after firing for an hour. This action was renewed during the next 2 days for brief intervals and Greer, on 31 May, reported to Porter: ”They return to their work as soon as the boats drop down.”

CSS Alabama, Captain Semmes, captured and burned Jabez Snow in the South Atlantic, bound from Cardiff to Montevideo, Uruguay, with a cargo of coal.

USS Cimarron, Commander Andrew J. Drake, took blockade runner evening Star off Wassaw Sound, Georgia, with a cargo of cotton.

30 USS Forest Rose, Acting Lieutenant G. W. Brown, and USS Linden, Acting Lieutenant T. E. Smith, reconnoitered Quiver River, Mississippi. A boat expedition from the two ships captured and burned Dew Drop and Emma Bett.

USS Rhode Island, Commander Stephen D. Trenchard, gave chase to blockade runner Margaret and Jessie off Eleuthera Island. Taking a shot in the boiler, the fleeing steamer was run ashore to keep from sinking with a large a cargo of cotton.

Boat expedition under Lieutenant-Commander Chester Hatfield captured schooner Star and sloop Victoria at Brazos Santiago, Texas; the latter was burned as she grounded in the attempt to bring her out into the Gulf.

Blockade runner A. D. Vance sailed from Great Britain to Wilmington; this was the first of 11 successful runs through the blockade for the vessel.

31 USS Carondelet, Lieutenant Murphy, patrolling the Mississippi River below Vicksburg, pro-ceeded to Perkins Landing, Louisiana, where Army troops were found cut off from the Union headquarters. Murphy “shelled the woods and thus prevented the enemy from advancing and throwing an enfilading fire on the troops ashore,” while awaiting the arrival of a transport which could rescue the soldiers. As Forest Queen arrived and the Union troops began to board her, a large force of Confederates pressed an attack. Carondelet’s guns laid down a heavy fire, saving the troops and forcing the Southerners eventually to break off the assault. Carondelet remained at Perkins’ Landing after Forest Queen departed, saved those stores and material which it was possible to take on board, and destroyed the rest to prevent its capture by Confederates.

Rear Admiral Porter, accompanied by some of the fleet officers, went ashore, mounted horses and rude to Major-General ‘V. T. Sherman’s headquarters before Vicksburg. Sherman reported that the Admiral, referring to the loss of USS Cincinnati on 27 May, was “willing to lose all the boats if he could do any good.” Porter also volunteered to place a battery ashore. To that end, Lieutenant-Commander Selfridge visited Sherman on the first of June and reported that he was prepared to land two 8-inch howitzers and to man and work them if the Army would haul the guns in to position and build a parapet for them. On 5 June Selfridge told Porter that one gun was in position and “I shall have the other gun mounted tonight…. Frequent joint efforts of this nature hastened the end of Vicksburg.

USS Pawnee, Commander Balch, and USS E.B. Hale, Acting Lieutenant Edgar Brodhead, supported an Army reconnaissance to James Island, South Carolina, and covered the troop landing. Balch reported: ”The landing was successfully accomplished and the reconnaissance made, or forces meeting with no opposition, and they were embarked at 9 a.m. and returned to their camps without a casualty of any kind.” Colonel Charles H. Simonton, CSA, commanding at James Island, warned: ”This expedition of the enemy removes all [their] fear of our supposed batteries on the Stono, and no doubt we will have visits from them often.”

USS Sunflower, Acting Master Edward Van Sice, seized schooner Echo off the Marquesas Keys with a cargo of cotton.

 

JUNE 1863

1 US Consul Seth C. Hawley at Nassau wrote Assistant Secretary of State Frederick W. Seward, commenting on the continued attempts to run the blockade despite the danger of capture or destruction. Naming 28 ships that had run or attempted to run the blockade since 10 March, Hawley observed that 13 had not been successful. “This proportion of loss seems too large to allow the business to be profitable, but this view is deceptive. The number of successful and unsuccessful voyages must be compared to make a sound conclusion…. To arrive at the probable profit of the business, I made an estimate in the case of the Ella and Annie. She came into the business in April, has made two successful voyages and is now absent on the third venture.

“One voyage outward cargo, say $100,000
“One voyage expense, etc. $ 15,000
[Total] $115,000

She returns with 1,300 bales of cotton, weighing an average of 400 pounds pet bale,
equal to 45 cents per pound, or $234,000
From which deduct the cost $115,000

Leaves profit $119,000

“Assume that she makes the average four voyages and is lost on the fifth with her cargo, the account would stand thus: Four voyages, profit at $119,000 each, is $476,000; deduct cost of steamer, $100,000, and cargo, $100,000, equal $200,000, leaves as profit on four voyages, $276,000. This estimate of profits is far less; it is not half as great as the figures made by those engaged in the business.” Thus patriotism and the great profit realized from a successful run through the blockade combined to induce adventurous Southerners to risk the perils posed by the Union fleet.

In seeking to stop the activities of Confederate blockade runners, vigorous naval officers were not always confined to the water. On hearing that four men engaged in blockade running were ashore near Lawson’s Bay on the Rappahannock River, Acting Master Street of USS Primrose took a landing party 4 miles inland and surrounded the house the men had been reported to be in. “On searching the house,” Street wrote, ” we found four men secreted under the bedding..

We also obtained $10,635 in notes and bonds belonging to the prisoners.

The Confederate Navy Department assumed complete control of the Selma, Alabama, Iron Works. Under the command of Commander Catesby ap R. Jones, the iron works became a naval ordnance works where naval guns were cast. Between June 1863 and April 1864, nearly 200 guns were cast there, most of them 6.4-inch and 7-inch Brooke rifles.

2 CSS Alabama, Captain Semmes, after a chase of 8 hours in the South Atlantic, captured and burned bark Amazonian, bound from New York to Montevideo with a cargo including commercial mail.

USS Anacostia, Acting Master Provost, and USS Primrose, Acting Master Street, took sloop Flying Cloud at Tapp’s Creek, Virginia.

3 Rear Admiral Porter, writing from his flagship, USS Black Hawk, informed General Grant that he had sent six 8-inch guns up the Yazoo River, “to be placed where required,” and two 9-inch guns to Warrenton as well. The Admiral also wrote to Lieutenant-Commander Greer, USS Benton, urging a continual fire from the gunboats into the Vicksburg positions. “The town,” he noted, “will soon fall now, and we can affort to expend a little more ammunition.

USS Stars and Stripes, Acting Master Charles L. Willcomb, captured sloop Florida at St. Marks Bay, Florida, with a cargo of cotton and tar.

3-4 Ram USS Switzerland, Lieutenant Colonel J. Ellet, reconnoitered the Atchafalaya River as far as Simmesport, Louisiana, upon hearing reports that Confederate General Kirby Smith might be advancing to engage the Union position above Port Hudson. Half a mile above Simmesport, heavy rifle fire was opened on the ram. “Strongly posted behind the levee and heavy earthworks, within 100 yards of the channel of the river,” Ellet reported, “they poured a perfect storm of Minie balls upon us as we passed in front of the town. The fire of the artillery was also very severe. After a vigorous exchange in which Switzerland sustained seven hits, the ram withdrew. Next day, USS Lafayette and Pittsburg “proceeded to Simmesport and shelled the rebels away from their breastworks, fired their camp and the houses which had been occupied as their quarters. The gunboats then returned to their positions at the mouth of the Red River.

4 USS Commodore McDonough, Lieutenant-Commander Bacon, with steamer Island City, transport Cossack, and Army gunboat Mayflower in company, transported and supported an Army action at Bluffton, South Carolina. The troops disembarked without incident under ‘the protection of the gunboat, and proceeded to Bluffton where they met strong Confederate resistance. With naval gunfire support, the town was destroyed and the troops were enabled to reembark with the mission successfully completed.

4-5 Joint Army-Navy expedition including USS Commodore Morris, Lieutenant-Commander Gillis; USS Commodore Jones, Lieutenant-Commander John G. Mitchell; Army gunboat Smith Briggs, and transport Winnissimet with 400 troops embarked, ascended the Mattapony River for the purpose of destroying a foundry above Walkerton, Virginia, where Confederate ordnance was being manufactured. The troops were landed at Walkerton and marched to the Ayletts area where the machinery, a flour mill, and a large quantity of grain were destroyed. Reembarking the troops and captured livestock, the force fell down river as the gunboats “dropped shells into many deserted houses and completely scoured the banks, and sweeping all the points on the river.

Rear Admiral S. P. Lee reported that: “The vigilant dispositions of Lieutenant-Commander Gillis kept the river below clear, and the rebels, attempting demonstrations at several points on the banks, were dispersed by the gunboats.” Brigadier General Henry A. Wise, CSA, called the joint expedition a ”daring and destructive raid.” Constant destruction along the coasts and up the rivers seriously hampered the already industrially deficient South.

5 CSS Alabama, Captain Semmes, captured ship Talisman in the mid-Atlantic en route Shanghai. Semmes wrote in his log: “Received on board from this ship during the day some beef and pork and bread, etc., and a couple of brass 12-pounders, mounted on ship carriages. There were four of these pieces on board, and a quantity of powder and shot, two steam boilers, etc., for fitting up a steam gunboat…. at nightfall set fire to the ship, a beautiful craft of 1,100 tons.”

USS Wissahickon, Lieutenant-Commander Davis, attacked and sank a steamer (name unknown) attempting to run the blockade out of Charleston.

6 Rear Admiral Lee reported to Secretary Welles regarding the urgent need of additional vessels on the blockade: “The two entrances to Cape Fear River make the blockade of Wilmington very difficult. The vessels on one side cannot support those on the other, and each side, particularly the New Inlet side, requires a large blockading force. Two vessels like the New Ironsides are required to protect this blockade against the enemy’s ironclads…. swift and suitably armed schooners are needed to capture the blockade runners. The fact that these last now go together adds to the difficulty of capturing them, and requires additional strength for this purpose. The blockade requires more and better vessels and must eventually fail without them.” The North’s industrial strength and free access to the world’s markets, assured by control of the seas, made the necessary naval buildup possible. The exact opposite was true of the Confederacy. Secretary Mallory, writing Commander Bulloch in Liverpool on 8 June, lamented: “We need ironclads, ironclads, ironclads.

CSS Clarence (prize of CSS Florida), Lieutenant Read, launched a brief but highly successful cruise against Union commerce by capturing and burning bark Whistling Wind with a cargo of coal in the Atlantic east of Cape Romain, South Carolina. Read reported: “She was insured by the US Government for the sum of $14,000.”

CSS Florida, Lieutenant Maffitt, captured and burned ship Southern Cross, bound from Mexico to New York with a cargo of wood.

USS Tahoma, Lieutenant-Commander A. A. Semmes, seized schooner Statesman, aground at Gadsen’s Point, Florida, with a cargo of cotton.

Steamer Lady Walton surrendered to USS Tyler, Lieutenant-Commander Prichett, at the mouth of White River, Arkansas.

7 USS Choctaw, Lieutenant-Commander Ramsay, and USS Lexington, Lieutenant-Commander Bache, defended Union troops at Milliken’s Bend, Mississippi, from the assault by a superior number of Confederate soldiers. The Union troops withdrew to the river bank where the guns of the ships could be brought into action. “There,” Rear Admiral Porter noted, “the gunboats opened on the rebels with shell, grape, and canister…. and compelled the Confederates to fall back. Confederate Major-General John G. Walker wrote:…. it must be remembered that the enemy behind a Mississippi levee, protected on the flanks by gunboats, is as securely posted as it is possible to be outside a regular fortification.”

CSS Clarence, Lieutenant Read, seized schooner Alfred H. Partridge bound from New York to Matamoras with a cargo of arms and clothing. “I took the captain’s bond for the sum of $5,000 for the delivery of the a cargo to loyal citizens of the Confederate states, Read wrote.

8 Crew from a Confederate launch commanded by Master James Duke, CSN, boarded and captured steam tug Boston at Pass a l’Outre, Mississippi River, and put to sea, then capturing and burning Union barks Lenox and Texana. Duke carried Boston safely into Mobile on 11 June. This bold action caused Rear Admiral Farragut considerable concern. Recalling a similar event on 12 April, he wrote the blockade commander off Mobile: “She is the second vessel that has been captured off the mouth of the Mississippi and carried through our blockading squadron into Mobile. I cannot understand how the blockade is run with such ease when you have so strong a numerical force.”

CSS Georgia, Lieutenant W.L. Maury, captured ship George Griswold with a cargo of coal off Rio de Janeiro. Maury released the prize on bond.

9 Union mortar boats continued to bombard Vicksburg. From dawn until nearly noon, they poured 175 shells into the city as the Confederate position, cut off from supplies and relief, grew steadily more desperate. Heavy rains curtailed the mortar activity the next day, only some 75 shells being fired, but on the 11th the attack was stepped up once again and Ordnance Gunner Eugene Mack reported that 193 mortar shells fell on the river stronghold. Rear Admiral Porter wrote Secretary Welles: “The mortars keep constantly playing on the city and works, and the gunboats throw in their shell whenever they see any work going on at the batteries, or new bat-teries being put up. Not a soul is to be seen moving in the city, the soldiers lying in their trenches or pits, and the inhabitants being stowed in caves or holes dug out in the cliffs. If the city is not relieved by a much superior force from the outside, Vicksburg must fall without anything more being done to it. I only wonder it has held out so long….”

CSS Clarence, Lieutenant Read, captured and burned brig Mary Alvina, bound from Boston to New Orleans with a cargo of commissary stores. Read, upon interrogating prisoners, concluded that it would not be possible to carry out his intention to harass Union shipping in Hampton Roads. “No vessels,” he wrote, were allowed to go into Hampton Roads unless they had supplies for the US Government, and then they were closely watched…. I determined to cruise along the coast and try to intercept a transport for Fortress Monroe and with her endeavor to carry out the orders of Commander Maffitt [see 6 May 1863], and in the meantime do all Possible injury to the enemy’s commerce.”

10 Major-General Banks, besieging Port Hudson, signaled Rear Admiral Farragut: “Please send to Springfield Landing 500 blank cartridges, 50 schrapnel, 500 shell, and 50 solid shot for the IX-inch navy guns. Please let me know when they will be there.” The return signal read: “The ammunition that you asked for will be at Springfield Landing at 5 p.m.

Rear Admiral Du Pont ordered USS Weehawken, Captain J. Rodgers, and USS Nahant, Commander Downes, to Wassaw Sound, Georgia, where it was reported that the powerful ram CSS Atlanta, Commander Webb, was preparing to attack the wooden blockader USS Cimarron. A week later Du Pont’s wise foresight would save the day for the Union blockade there.

Confederate officer prisoners of war being transported to Fort Delaware on board steamer Maple Leaf overpowered the guard, took possession of the steamer, and landed below Cape Henry, Virginia.

11 Rear Admiral Farragut wrote Major-General Banks regarding the continuous bombardment of Port Hudson: “You must remember that we have been bombarding this place five weeks, and we are now upon our last 500 shells, so that it will not be in my power to bombard more than three or four hours each night, at intervals of five minutes…. I was under the impression that our shelling only served two purposes to break their rest and silence their guns, when they opened in our sight; the last he has ceased to do, and they have now become indifferent to the former. After the people have been harassed to a certain extent they become indifferent to danger, I think, but we will do all in our power to aid you.”

Steamer Havelock ran past USS Memphis, Stettin, and Ottawa at Charleston but was so severely battered by the blockaders’ fire that she was found at daybreak aground on Folly Island and ablaze. Captain Turner, USS New Ironsides, reported that she was ”a total wreck.”

USS Florida, Commander Bankhead, captured blockade running steamer Calypso attempting to dash into Wilmington with a cargo including drugs, provisions, and plating for ironclads.

Boat crew from USS Coeur De Lion, Acting Master W. G. Morris, seized and burned schooners Odd Fellow and Sarah Margaret in Coan River, Virginia.

12 CSS Clarence, Lieutenant Read, captured bark Tacony of Cape Hatteras and shortly thereafter took schooner M. A. Shindler from Port Royal to Philadelphia in ballast. Read determined to transfer his command to Tacony, she ”being a better sailor than the Clarence,” and was in the process of transferring the howitzer when another schooner, Kate Stewart, from Key West to Philadelphia, was sighted. “Passing near the Clarence,” Read reported, “a wooden gun was pointed at her and she was commanded to heave to, which she did immediately…. As we were now rather short of provisions and had over fifty prisoners, I determined to bond the schooner Kate Stewart and make a cartel of her.” Read then destroyed both Clarence and M. A. Shindler and stood in chase of another brig, Arabella, which he soon overhauled. She had a neutral cargo, and Read “bonded her for $30,000, payable thirty days after peace.” Thus the career of CSS Clarence -was at an end. In a week’s tin she had made six prizes, three of which had been destroyed, two bonded, and her successor, CSS Tacony, sailed against Union shipping under the same daring skipper and his crew.

13 CSS Georgia, Lieutenant W. L. Maury, captured bark Good Hope (22o15′ S.–37o1′ W.) bound from Boston to Cape of Good Hope; the prize was burned at sea on 14 June after provisions and stores were removed.

USS Juniata, Commander Clitz, captured blockade running schooner Fashion off the coast of Cuba with a cargo of salt and soda.

USS Sunflower, Acting Master Van Sice, captured schooner Pushmataha off Tortugas.

13-15 Confederate guerrillas fired into USS Marmora, Acting Lieutenant Getty, near Eunice, Arkansas, and on the morning of the 14th, took transport Nebraska under fire. In retaliation, Getty sent a landing party ashore and destroyed the town, “including the railroad depot, with locomotive and car inside, also the large warehouse…. The next day, 15 June, landing parties from Marmora and USS Prairie Bird, Acting Lieutenant Edward E. Brennand, destroyed the town of Gaines Landing in retaliation for a guerrilla attempt to burn the Union coal barge there and for firing on Marmora.

14 President Lincoln authorized the Secretary of the Treasury to “cooperate by the revenue cutters under your direction with the Navy in arresting rebel depredations on American commerce and transportation and in capturing rebels engaged therein.” The directive was largely the result of Lieutenant Read’s continued raid on Union commerce near Northern shores.

Rear Admiral Porter wired Secretary Welles: “The situation of affairs here has altered very little. We are still closing on the enemy. General Grant’s position is a safe one, though he should have all the troops that can possibly be sent to him. We have mounted six heavy navy guns in the rear of Vicksburg and can give the army as many as they want. I think the town can’t hold out longer than the 22d of June. The gunboats and mortars keep up a continual fire.” The intrepid defenders of Vicksburg held out against the crushing water and land siege for 2 weeks beyond Admiral Porter’s estimate.

CSS Florida, Lieutenant Maffitt, captured ship Red Gauntlet in West Indian waters.

CSS Georgia, Lieutenant W. L. Maury, captured at sea and bonded bark J.W. Seaver with a cargo of machinery for Russia.

USS Lackawanna, Captain John B. Marchand, captured blockade running steamer Neptune, bound from Havana to Mobile.

15 CSS Atlanta, Commander Webb, got underway in the early evening and passed over the lower obstructions in the Wilmington River, preparatory to an anticipated attack on the Union forces in Wassaw Sound, Georgia. Webb dropped anchor at 8 p.m. and spent the remainder of the night coaling. The next evening, “about dark,” the daring Confederate later reported, “I proceeded down the river to a point of land which would place me in 5 or 6 miles of the monitors, at the same time concealing the ship from their view, ready to move on them at early dawn the next morning.”

CSS Tacony, Lieutenant Read, captured and burned brig Umpire with a cargo of sugar and molasses off the Virginia coast. Read’s exploits created much concern and a large force was sent to search for him. Secretary Welles noted in his diary: ”None of our vessels have succeeded in capturing the Rebel pirate Tacony which has committed great ravages along the coast.

USS Juliet, Acting Lieutenant Shaw, seized steamer Fred Nolte on the White River, Arkansas.

USS Lackawanna, Captain Marchand, captured steamer Planter with a cargo of cotton in the Gulf of Mexico.

16 Acting Master John C. Bunner, USS New Era, obtained a report that Confederate troops “medi-tated an attack on either Columbus, Hickman, Island 10, or New Madrid…. ” Bunner at once proceeded above Island No. 10, found and destroyed nine boats and flats. He reported: “I do not think the enemy can procure transportation enough to attack the island with any hope of success, but am careful that none at all shall remain at his service in this vicinity.”

USS Circassian, Acting Lieutenant William B. Eaton, captured blockade running sloop John Wesley off St. Marks, Florida, bound for Havana with a cargo of cotton.

CSS Florida, Commander Maffitt, captured ship B. F. Hoxie in West Indian waters. After removing silver bars valued at $105,000, Maffitt burned the prize.

17 CSS Atlanta, Commander Webb, with wooden steamers Isondiga and Resolute, engaged USS Weehawken, Captain J. Rodgers, and USS Nahant, Commander Downes, in Wassaw Sound. A percussion torpedo was fitted to the ram’s bow, “which,” Webb wrote, “I knew would do its work to my entire satisfaction, should I but be able to touch the Weehauken…. Atlanta grounded coming into the channel, was gotten off, but repeatedly failed to obey her helm. Weehawken poured five shots from her heavy guns into the Confederate ram, and Nahant moved into attacking Position. With two of his gun crews out of action, with two of three Pilots severely injured, and with his ship helpless and hard aground, Webb was compelled to surrender. His two wooden escorts had returned upriver without engaging.

Captain Rodgers reported: “The Atlanta was found to have mounted two 6-inch and two 7-inch rifles, the 6-inch broadside, the 7-inch working on a Pivot either as broadside or bow and stern guns. There is a large supply of ammunition for these guns and other stores, said to be of great value by some of the officers of the vessel. There were on board at the time of capture, as per muster roll, 21 officers and 124 men, including 28 marines.”

In a message of congratulations to Captain Rodgers, Secretary Welles wrote: ”Every contest in which the ironclads have been engaged against ironclads has been instructive, and affords food for reflection. The lessons to be drawn are momentous…. Your early connection with the Mississippi Flotilla and your participation in the projection and construction of the first ironclads on the Western waters, your heroic conduct in the attack on Drewry’s Bluff, the high moral courage that led you to put to sea in the Weehawken upon the approach of a violent storm in order to test the seagoing qualities of these new craft at a time when a safe anchorage was close under your lee, the brave and daring manner in which you, with your associates, pressed the ironclads under the concentrated fire of the batteries in Charleston harbor and there tested and proved the endurance and resisting power of these vessels, and your crowning successful achievement in the capture of the Fingal, alias Atlanta, are all proofs of a skill and courage and devotion to the country and the cause of the Union, regardless of self, that can not he permitted to pass unrewarded…. For these heroic and serviceable acts I have presented your name to the Presi-dent, requesting him to recommend that Congress give you a vote of thanks in order that you may he advanced to the grade of commodore in the American Navy.”

Boat expedition under Acting Master Sylvanus Nickerson from USS Itasca captured blockade runner Miriam at Brazos Santiago, Texas, with a cargo of cotton.

18 Rear Admiral Farragut in USS Monongahela steamed down river from Port Hudson to Plaque-mine, Louisiana, where a raid by a company of Confederate cavalry had burned two Army trans-ports. It was feared that the Confederate intent was to capture Donaldsonville, Louisiana, cutting off the flow of supplies between New Orleans and General Banks before Port Hudson. USS Winona, Lieutenant-Commander Aaron ‘V. Weaver, shelled the Confederate cavalrymen from the town. The Admiral reported: “The moral effect of our force gathering about them so quickly was very good both against the enemy and in favor of the soldiers and ourselves” Farragut concentrated three or four gunboats at Donaldsonville, and General Banks wrote several days later: ‘The result at Donaldsonville was very gratifying, and I feel greatly indebted to the officers of the Navy for the assistance they gave, and the distinguished part they played in this most creditable affair.”

USS General Sterling Price, Commander Woodworth, and USS Mound City, Lieutenant Wilson, returned to their positions below Vicksburg after a 3-day reconnaisance down the Mississippi River as far as Cole’s Creek. During the expedition, some 60 to 70 barges, skiffs, and boats were destroyed which could have been used to transport Confederate troops. Meanwhile, USS Benton, Lieutenant-Commander Greer, supplied Major-General Francis J. Herron with two 32-pounders, complete with ammunition and equipment and a crew to man them. Of this battery, General Herron later wrote: ‘The battery, under the command of Acting Master j. Frank Reed, of the Benton, did excellent service, and I can not speak too highly of the bravery and energy of this young officer. Indeed, during the whole of my operations, I received valuable assistance and a hearty cooperation from the Navy.”

USS Tahoma, Lieutenant-Commander A. A. Semmes, captured British blockade runner Harriet near Anclote Keys, Florida; Tahoma chased British blockade runner Mary Jane ashore and destroyed her at Clearwater.

USS James S. Chambers, Acting Master L. Nickerson, captured schooner Rebekah off Tampa Bay.

19 Secretary Mallory wrote to Commander Bulloch in Liverpool: “I have heretofore requested you to purchase upon the best terms you can make a very fast steamer suitable for blockade running between Nassau, Bermuda, Charleston, and Wilmington. A capacity for stowing from 600 to 1,000 hales of cotton upon not over 10 feet draft would be desirable. With such a vessel I can place exchange for our use in England every month.”

A naval battery mounted to fire across the river at Cerro Gordo, Tennessee, manned by crew from USS Robb, Acting Ensign Hanford, was hotly engaged by Confederate troops. Hanford reported: “They [the Confederates] charged four abreast (dismounted) and came to within 20 yards of the cannon’s mouth, while canister was being fired into them like rain.”

Mortar schooner USS Para, Acting Master Edward G. Furber, captured blockade running schooner Emma off Mosquito Inlet, Florida.

20 A heavy combined Army-Navy bombardment of Vicksburg, lasting 6 hours, hammered Con-federate positions. Supporting the Army, Porter pressed mortars, gunboats, and scows into action from 4 a.m. until 10. The naval force met with no opposition, and the Admiral noted: “The only demonstration made by the rebels from the water front was a brisk fire of heavy guns from the upper batteries on two 12-pounder rifled howitzers that were planted n the Louisiana side by General Ellet’s Marine Brigade, which has [sic] much annoyed the enemy for two or three days, and prevented them from getting water.” After this extensive bombardment, reports reached Porter that the Southerners were readying boats with which to make a riverborne evacua-tion of the city. Emphasizing the need for continued vigilance, the Admiral informed his gunboat commanders: “If the rebels start down in their skiffs, the current will drift them to about abreast of the houses where the mortars are laid up, and they will land there. In that case the vessels must push up amidst them, run over them, fire grape and canister and destroy all they can, looking out that they are not boarded.”

CSS Alabama, Captain Semmes, captured bark Conrad from Buenos Aires for New York with a cargo of wool. Semmes commissioned her as a cruiser under the name CSS Tuscaloosa and wrote: “Never perhaps was a ship of war fitted out so promptly before. The Conrad was a commissioned ship, with armament, crew, and provisions on board, flying her pennant, and with sailing orders signed, sealed, and delivered, before sunset on the day of her capture.”

CSS Tacony, Lieutenant Read, captured ship Isaac Webb, bound from Liverpool to New York. The prize had some 759 passengers on board and, being unable “to dispose of the passengers, I bonded her for $40.000.” The same day, Tacony captured and burned fishing schooner Micawber at sea off the New England coast.

USS Primrose, Acting Master Street, captured sloop Richard Vaux off Blakistone Island, Potomac River.

21 CSS Tacony, Lieutenant Read, captured and burned ship Byzantium, with a cargo of coal, and bark Goods peed, in ballast, off the coast of New England.

USS Owasco, Lieutenant-Commander Madigan, and USS Cayuga, Lieutenant-Commander William H. Dana, took sloop Active attempting to run blockade out of Sabine Pass, Texas, with a cargo of cotton.

USS Santiago De Cuba, Commander Robert H. Wyman, seized blockade running British steamer Victory off Palmetto Point, Eleuthera Island, after a long chase; Victory was from Wilmington and carried a cargo of cotton, tobacco, and turpentine.

USS Florida, Commander Bankhead, captured schooner Hattie off Frying Pan Shoals, North Carolina, with a cargo of cotton and naval stores.

22 CSS Tacony, Lieutenant Read, captured fishing schooners Florence, Marengo, E. Ann, R. Choate, and Ripple off the New England coast. Read reported: “The Florence being an old vessel I bonded her and placed seventy-five prisoners on her. The other schooners were burned.”

USS Shawsheen, Acting Master Henry A. Phelon, while on a reconnaissance in Bay River, North Carolina, captured schooner Henry Clay up Spring Creek. An armed boat went up Dim-bargon Creek and captured a small schooner carrying turpentine before Shawsheen returned to New Bern.

USS Itasca, Lieutenant-Commander Robert F. R. Lewis, seized British blockade runner Sea Drift near Matagorda Island, Texas, with a cargo including gunpowder, lead, and drugs.

23 CSS Tacony, Lieutenant Read, captured and burned fishing schooners Ada and Wanderer off the New England coast.

US S. Pursuit, Lieutenant William P. Randall, took sloop Kate in Indian River, Florida.

USS Flambeau, Lieutenant-Commander John H. Upshur, seized British schooner Bettie Cratzer, off Murrell’s Inlet, South Carolina, bound from New York to Havana and suspected of being a blockade runner.

23-30 Under Commander Pierce Crosby, gunboats Commodore Barney, Commodore Morris, Western World, and Morse, with Army gunboats Smith Briggs and Jesup, escorted and covered an Army landing at White House on the Pamunkey River, Virginia. Arriving on the 26th, Crosby reported that he ”found all quiet on the river,” but stationed the gunboats at White House and Jesup at West Point, with instructions for two of his ships to ”run [daily] from White House to West point to protect the army transports and examine the banks of the river to discover signs of the enemy should they be near A naval landing party at White House destroyed rails and a turn-table inside an earthwork on which the Confederates intended to place a railroad car mounting a heavy gun.

24 Rear Admiral Dahlgren was detached from duty at the Washington Navy Yard and as Chief of the Bureau of Ordnance and ordered to relieve Rear Admiral Du Pont at Port Royal in command of the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron. Originally, the Navy Department ordered Rear Admiral Foote to the Blockading Squadron, but the hero of the western waters suffered a relapse from his long illness occasioned by the wound sustained at Fort Donelson and was unable to accept the command.

Brigadier General A. W. Ellet, commanding the Marine Brigade, reported to Rear Admiral Porter on his observations of the continued naval bombardment of Vicksburg: “Your mortars are doing good work this morning. Every shell is thrown into the city, or bursts immediately over it.”

CSS Tacony, Lieutenant Read, captured ship Shatemuc, from Liverpool to Boston with a large number of emigrants on board. Read bonded her for $150,000. Tacony later captured fishing schooner Archer. “As there were now a number of the enemy’s gunboats in search of the Tacony,” Read wrote, “and our howitzer ammunition being all expended, I concluded to destroy the Tacony, and with the schooner Archer to proceed along the coast with the view of burning the shipping in some exposed harbor, or of cutting out a steamer. Therefore, the next morning Read applied the torch to the Tacony and stood in for the New England coast with Archer.

USS Sumpter, Acting Lieutenant Peter Hays, collided with transport steamer General Meigs in heavy mist near Hampton Roads and sank.

25 Rear Admiral Du Pont, unaware that Dahlgren had been ordered to relieve him in command of the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron, wrote in these terms of Rear Admiral Foote: “I infer he is very ill, and could hardly be fit to come for some time to this situation even if he recovers. I trust God he will, for I think he can ill be spared. I always thought he represented the best traits of the New England character with its best shade of Puritanism a sort of Northern Stonewall Jackson, without quite his intellect and judgment, but equal pluck and devotion.”

CSS Georgia, Lieutenant W. L. Maury, captured ship Constitution bound from Philadelphia to Shanghai with a cargo of coal.

Boats from USS Crusader, Acting Master Roland F. Coffin, on a reconnaissance of Pepper Creek, near New Point Comfort, Virginia, to determine if an armed boat was being outfitted for ” preying on the commerce of Chesapeake Bay” was fired on by a Confederate party. In retaliation Master Coffin burned several houses in the area, one belonging to “a noted rebel and blockade runner named Kerwan.”

Lieutenant-Commander English, USS Sagamore. reported the capture of blockade running British schooner Frolic off Crystal River, Florida, with a cargo of cotton and turpentine, bound for Havana.

USS Santiago De Cuba, Commander Wyman, took steamer Britannia off Palmetto Point, Eleuthera Island, with a cargo of cotton.

26 Rear Admiral Andrew Hull Foote died in New York City of the wound received while brilliantly leading the naval forces on the Western rivers. The next day the Navy Department announced: ‘A gallant and distinguished naval officer is lost to the country. The hero of Fort Henry and

Fort Donelson, the daring and inimitable spirit that created and led to successive victories the Mississippi Flotilla, the heroic Christian sailor, who in the China Seas and on the coast of Africa, as well as the great interior rivers of our country, sustained with unfaltering fidelity and devotion the honor of our flag and the causes of the Union-Rear-Admiral Andrew Hull Foote-is no more…. Appreciating his virtues and his services, a grateful country had rendered him while living its willing honors, and will mourn his death.”

Ships, rifled cannon, mortar boats, and Army guns laid down a heavy bombardment barrage which was answered bravely by the Confederate gunners at Port Hudson. Captain Alden in USS Richmond reported to Rear Admiral Farragut: ”The Genessee’s firing was as fine as usual. The Essex stood up manfully and did her work handsomely. She was the only vessel hit, and, strange to say, although the enemy’s fire was for the most part of the engagement which lasted some four hours-concentrated upon her, was struck only three times, but one of those was near proving fatal to her. The shot passed through her starboard smokepipe, down through the deck, through the coal bunker, grazing the starboard boiler, down through the machinery and steam pipes, over the galley, and through the wheelhouse into the water…. They all seem to be very much pleased with the operation of the naval battery on shore…. It had done, as you know, splendid service under the command of our gallant executive officer, Lieutenant-Commander [Edward] Terry, before you were called away, and is still, I am happy to say, earning new laurels.”

Rear Admiral Porter wrote Secretary Welles of the operations at Vicksburg: ”I was in hopes ere this to have announced the fall of Vicksburg, but the rebels hold out persistently, and will no doubt do so while there is a thing left to eat. In the meantime, they are hoping for relief from General Johnston a vain hope, for even if he succeeded in getting the better of General Sherman…. his forces would be so cut up that he could take no advantage of any victory that he might gain. General Sherman has only to fall back to our entrenchments at Vicksburg, and he could defy twice his own force. The rebels have been making every effort to bring relief to Vicksburg through Louisiana, but without avail. With the few men we have at Young’s Point and the gunboats, we keep them in check. They have lined the river bank and are annoying the transports a little, but the gunboats are so vigilant and give them so little rest that they have done no damage worth mentioning. I have lined the river from Cairo to Vicks-burg with a good force…. I am having the Cincinnati’s guns removed, and Colonel Woods, of the army, is erecting a battery on shore with them. I have now ten heavy naval guns landed from the gunboats, in the rear of Vicksburg, some of them manned by sailors. They have kept up a heavy fire for some days, doing great execution.

26-27 CSS Archer, Lieutenant Read, made the Portland, Maine, light. Read picked up two fishermen, “who,” he reported, “taking us for a pleasure party’, willingly consented to pilot us into Portland.” From the fishermen Read learned that revenue cutter Caleb Cushing and a pas-senger steamer, Chesapeake, a staunch, swift propeller,” were at Portland and would remain there over night. Steamer For City was so in Portland and two gunboats were building there. At once Read made a daring plan: he would enter the harbor and at night quietly seize the cutter and steamer.

At sunset he boldly sailed in, anchoring in full view of the shipping.” Read discussed the plan with his crew and admitted there were difficulties in the scheme. Engineer Eugene H. Brown was doubtful that he could get the engines of the steamer started without the assistance of another engineer, and Read pointed Out that as the nights were very short it was evident that if we failed to get the steamer underway, after waiting to get up steam, we could not get clear of the forts before we were discovered.” Read decided to concentrate on capturing the revenue cutter. At 1:30 in the morning, 27 June, Read’s crew boarded and took Caleb Cushing, without noise or resistance.’ Luck and time were running Out on Read’s courageous band, however, for, with a light breeze and the tide running in, the cutter was still under the fort’s guns at daybreak. By midmorning, when Caleb Cushing was but 20 miles off the harbor, Read saw ‘two large steamers and three tugs…. coming out of Portland.” He cleared for action and fired on the leading steamer, Forest City, as soon as she was in range. After firing five shells from the pivot gun, Read “was mortified to find that all the projectiles for that gun were expended.” About to be caught in a crossfire from the steamers and in a defenseless position, Read ordered the cutter destroyed and the men into the lifeboats. ”At 11:30 I surrendered myself and crew to the steamer Forest City [First Lieutenant James H Merryman, USRS].” Read had yet another moment of success at noon Caleb Cushing blew up.

So ended an exploit of gallant dash and daring by Read and his small crew. From the date of their first capture to the destruction of the revenue cutter off Portland, the doughty Confederate seamen had taken 22 prizes.

27 CSS Florida, Lieutenant Maffitt, seized and bonded whaling schooner V. H. Hill en route to Bermuda.

Commander A. G. Clary, USS Tioga, reported the capture of blockade running British schooner Julia off the Bahamas with a cargo of cotton.

28 Rear Admiral Dahlgren noted in his private journal: “The French Admiral called yesterday. Me said he thought there were torpedoes near Sumter, and that fifteen monitors might take it if they fired faster. He said we fired once in eleven or twelve minutes for each turret.”

CSS Georgia, Lieutenant W. L. Maury, captured ship City of Bath off Brazil.

Armed boats from USS Fort Henry, Lieutenant-Commander McCauley, captured schooner Anna Maria in Steinhatchee River, Florida, with a cargo of cotton.

28-30 As the advance of General Robert E. Lee’s armies into Maryland (culminating in the Battle of Gettysburg) threatened Washington, Baltimore, and Annapolis, the US Navy Department ordered Rear Admiral S.P. Lee to send ships immediately for the defense of the Capital and other cities. This was a move reminiscent of the opening days of the war when naval protection was vital to the holding of the area surrounding the seat of government.

29 Lieutenant-Commander Shirk reported the interception of a letter from Confederate General Martin L. Smith at Vicksburg to his wife. “He says,” Shirk wrote, “everything looks like taking a trip North. All seem to think that Saturday or Sunday will tell the fall of Vicksburg. The Confederates were being realistic rather than pessimistic, for, though they had long and bravely resisted against tremendous odds with supply lines severed, the fall of the fortress on the Mississippi was at hand.

30 Captain Semmes of CSS Alabama rote in his journal: “It is two years to-day since we ran the blockade of the Mississippi in the Sumter…. Two years of almost constant excitement and anxiety, the usual excitement of battling with the sea and the weather and avoiding dangerous shoals and coasts, added to the excitement of the chase, the capture, the escape from the enemy, and the battle. And then there has been the government of my officers and crew, not always a pleasant task, for I have had some senseless and unruly spirits to deal with; and last, though not least, the bother and vexation of being hurried out of port when I have gone into one by scrupulous and timid officials, to say nothing of offensive espionage. All these things have produced a con-stant tension of the nervous system, and the wear and tear of body in these two years would, no doubt, be quite obvious to my friends at home, could they see me on this 30th day of June, 1863.”

Captain Josiah Tattnall wrote Commander William W. Hunter: ‘The ironclad steamer Savannah being completed in all respects and ready for service with the exception of her officers in which she is deficient, I have the pleasure to transfer her to your command.”

USS Ossipee, Captain Gillis, captured schooner Helena off Mobile.

JULY 1863

1 Major-General Rosecrans asked Captain Pennock in Cairo for gunboat assistance in operations on the Tennessee River. The Confederates repeatedly attempted to establish bases along this waterway, but the Union Navy had several gunboats stationed on the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers to frustrate such moves. These unheralded but nonetheless eventful actions by the forces afloat, as Admiral Mahan later wrote, showed ‘ the unending and essential work performed by the navy in keeping the communications open, aiding isolated garrisons, and checking the growth of the guerilla war.”

Commander Caldwell, upon being detached from command of USS Essex and the mortar flotilla at Port Hudson, reported to Rear Admiral Farragut: From the 23 of May to the 26 of June there followed a constant succession of bombardments and artillery fights between the Essex and mortar vessels on one side and the rebel batteries on the other. We have fired from this vessel 738 shells and from the mortar vessels an aggregate of 2,800 XIII-inch shells.” The continued bombardment of the strong Southern works was instrumental in forcing its surrender after the fall of Vicksburg.

James M. Tindel wrote Confederate Secretary of State Judah P. Benjamin from Mobile, proposing the capture of Pacific Mail Steamers, Union ships carrying on an active trade along the west coast. The expedition, Tindel wrote, would proceed first to Matamoras. There the expedition would be divided, one portion to proceed overland to San Francisco to make an attempt to capture one of the steamers plying between that port and the Isthmus, the other to sail as a neutral from some port near Aspinwall [Panama], to make a similar attempt on the steamer sailing from that port. The Confederates recognized that the success of such a mission would cause con-siderable excitement and greatly disrupt shipping in the area, but the Union moved to strengthen its Pacific Squadron in the last 6 months of the year and Confederate plans bore no fruit.

J.B. Jones, a clerk in the Confederate War Department, noted in his diary that President Davis had “decided that the obstructions below the city [Richmond] shall not be opened for the steam iron-clad Richmond to go out until another iron-clad be in readiness to accompany her.”

2 General Grant, before Vicksburg, wrote Rear Admiral Porter that “the firing from the mortar boats this morning has been exceedingly well directed on my front. One shell fell into the large fort, and several along the line of the rifle pits. Please have them continue firing in the same direction and elevation.” USS General Sterling Price, Benton, and Mound City had shelled the heavy battery, which had earned the sobriquet ”Whistling Dick” because of is power and effectiveness.

CSS Alabama, Captain Semmes, captured ship Anna F. Schmidt in the South Atlantic with a cargo of clothes, medicines, clocks, sewing machines, and ”the latest invention for killing bed-bugs.”

Semmes put the torch to the prize. “We then wheeled about and took the fork of the road again, for the Cape of Good Hope.”

USS Samuel Rotan, Acting Lieutenant William W. Kennison, seized schooner Champion off the Piankatank River, Virginia.

USS Cayuga, Lieutenant-Commander Dana, captured blockade running sloop Blue Bell in Mermentau River, Louisiana, with a cargo of sugar and molasses.

USS Covington, Acting Lieutenant George P. Lord, captured steamer Eureka near Commerce, Mississippi, with a cargo of whisky.

USS Juniata, Commander Clitz, seized blockade running British schooner Don Jose at sea with a cargo of salt, cotton, and rum.

3 Major-General Grant and Lieutenant General Pemberton, CSA, the gallant and tireless commander of the Vicksburg defenses, arranged an armistice to negotiate the terms of capitulation of the citadel. Only with the cessation of hostilities did the activity of the fleet under Rear Admiral Porter come to a halt off Vicksburg.

Boats from USS Fort Henry, Lieutenant-Commander McCauley, captured sloop Emma north of Sea Horse Key, Florida, with a cargo of tar and Confederate mail.

4 Vicksburg, long under assault and siege by water and land, capitulated to General Grant. W. T. Sherman congratulated Rear Admiral Porter for the decisive role played by the Navy in effecting the surrender: ‘No event in life could have given me more personal pride or pleasure than to have met you to-day on the wharf at Vicksburg a Fourth of July so eloquent in events as to need no words or stimulants to elevate its importance…. In so magnificent a result I stop not to count who did it; it is done, and the day of our nation’s birth is consecrated and baptized anew in a victory won by the United Navy and Army of our country.” Observing that he must con-tinue to push on to finish the operations in the west by seizing Port Hudson, Sherman added: It does seem to me that Port Hudson, without facilities for supplies or interior communication, must soon follow the fate of Vicksburg and to leave the river free, and to you the task of prevent-ing any more Vicksburgs or Port Hudsons on the banks of the great inland sea. Though farther apart, the Navy and Army will still act in concert, and I assure you I shall never reach the banks of the river or see a gunboat but I will think of Admiral Porter, Captain Breese, and the many elegant and accomplished gentlemen it has been my good fortune to meet on armed or unarmed decks of the Mississippi squadron.”

Major-General Herron spoke as warmly in a letter to Porter. ”While congratulating you on the success of the Army and Navy in reducing this Sebastopol of Rebeldom, I must, at the same time, thank you for the aid my division has had from yourself and your ships. The guns received from the Benton, under charge of Acting Master Reed, a gallant and efficient officer, have formed the most effective battery I had, and I am glad to say that the officer in charge has well sustained the reputation of your squadron. For the efforts you have made to cooperate with me in my position on the left, I am under many obligations.”

Porter noted the statistical contributions of the Squadron in compelling the fall of Vicksburg. Writing Secretary Welles that 13 naval guns had been used ashore, many with officers and men from the fleet to work them, he added: “There has been a large expenditure of ammunition during the siege; the mortars have fired 7,000 mortar shells, and the gunboats 4,500; 4,500 have been fired from the naval guns on shore, and we have supplied over 6,000 to the different army corps. General Grant wrote: “The navy, under Porter, was all it could be during the entire campaign. Without its assistance the campaign could not have been successfully made with twice the number of men engaged.” Reflecting on the fall of Vicksburg, Porter wrote: “What bearing this will have on the rebellion remains yet to be seen, but the magnitude of the success must go far toward crushing out this revolution and establishing once more the commerce of the States -bordering on this river. History has seldom had an opportunity of recording so desperate a defense on one side, with so much courage, ability, perseverance, and endurance on the other…. without a watchful care over the Mississippi, the operations of the army would have been much interfered with, and I can say honestly that officers never did their duty better than those who have patrolled the river from Cairo to Vicksburg…. The capture of Vicksburg leaves us a -large army and naval forces free to act all along the river…. The effect of this blow will be felt far up the tributaries of the Mississippi.”

Indeed, the effect was felt throughout the North and South, for, as Porter had noted, Port Hudson could not long hold Out, and the war in the west was won. The great produce of the Midwest could flow freely down the Mississippi to New Orleans, and the South was severed.

Raphael Semmes later wrote: ”This [the surrender of Vicksburg] was a terrible blow to us. It not only lost us an army, but cut the Confederacy in two, by giving the enemy the command of the Mississippi River…. Vicksburg and Gettysburg mark an era in the war…. We need no better evidence of the shock which had been given to public confidence in the South, by those two disasters, than the simple fact, that our currency depreciated almost immediately a thousand per cent!”.

President Lincoln could write: “The Father of Waters again goes unvexed to the sea…. Nor must Uncle Sam’s web feet be forgotten. At all the watery margins they have been present. Not only on the deep sea, the broad bay, the rapid river, but also up the narrow, muddy bayou, and wherever the ground was a little damp, they have been and made their tracks.”

USS Tyler, Lieutenant-Commander Prichett, repulsed an attack on Helena, Arkansas, by a large body of Confederate troops. The Southerners had penetrated the outposts of the outnumbered Union Army, under Major-General Benjamin M. Prentiss, when Tyler steamed into action and, in Porter’s words, “saved the day Tyler’s heavy fire halted the Confederate attack and compelled a withdrawal. The Southern losses were heavy; Lieutenant-Commander S.L. Phelps, commanding the Second Division of the Mississippi Squadron, reported that “our forces have buried 380 of his killed, and many places have been found where he had himself buried his dead. His wounded number 1,100 and the prisoners are also 1,100…..”

Mahan, later analyzing the contributions of Tyler’s action at Helena, wrote that…. to her powerful battery and the judgment with which it was used must be mainly attributed the success of the day; for though the garrison fought with great gallantry and tenacity, they were outnumbered two to one.

Prentiss advised Porter of Prichett’s “valuable assistance” during the battle: ”I assure you, sir, that he not only acquitted himself with honor and distinction during the engagement proper, but with a zeal and patience as rare as they are commendable, when informed of an attack on this place lost no time and spared no labor to make himself thoroughly acquainted with the topography of the surrounding country. And I attribute not a little of our success in the late battle to his full knowledge of the situation and his skill in adapting the means within his com-mand to the end to be obtained.” The Union’s force afloat, lead by capable and tireless com-manders, repeatedly shattered Confederate hopes for taking the offensive.

5 Rear Admiral S.P. Lee, commanding the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron, wrote Assistant Secretary Fox regarding measures for a successful blockade: ”The blockade requires smart, active vessels to move about close inside, large vessels with heavy batteries, if ironclads cannot he got to protect the blockade and well armed swift steamers to cruise in pairs outside.” Captain Raphael Semmes later paid tribute to the effectiveness of this cordon thrown up by the Union fleet around the lengthy Confederate coast: “We were being hardpressed too, for material, for the enemy was maintaining a rigid blockade of our ports.

6 Rear Admiral John A. Dahlgren relieved Rear Admiral Du Pont as Commander, South Atlantic Blockading Squadron, at Port Royal. Since April, when Du Pont’s ironclads had proved unequal to the task of beating down Fort Sumter, Du Pont had wanted to explain to the country the reason for their failure, i.e., the weaknesses of the monitors in their cast-iron and wrought-iron parts. To have published this would have cleared the Admiral, hut it also would have lowered the Union Navy’s most widely publicized weapon in public opinion. Du Pont and Secretary Welles fell out over this difference, and Du Pont’s retirement from active duty resulted. Dahlgren did not fare any better in his later attempts to take Charleston than did his predecessor.

USS De Soto, Captain W.M. Walker, captured blockade runner Lady Maria off Clearwater, Florida, with a cargo of cotton.

CSS Alabama, Captain Semmes, captured and burned ship Express off the coast of Brazil. She was carrying a cargo of guano.

7 Confederate forces under General John H. Morgan captured steamers John T. McCombs and Alice Dean at Brandenburg, Kentucky. The famous “Morgan’s Raiders” moved up the Ohio, causing great concern in the area. The Union Navy blunted the Southern thrust.

USS Monongahela, Commander Read, and USS New London, Lieutenant-Commander George H. Perkins, engaged Confederate field batteries behind the levee about 12 miles below Donaldsonville, Louisiana. Read, characterized by Farragut as “one of the most gallant and enterprising officers in my squadron,” was mortally wounded in the action.

CSS Florida, Commander Maffitt, captured ship Sunrise, hound from New York to Liverpool. Maffitt released her on $60,000 bond.

8 Lieutenant-Commander Fitch, USS Moose, received word at Cincinnati that General Morgan, CSA, was assaulting Union positions and moving up the banks of the Ohio River. He had also captured steamers John T. McCombs and Alice Dean (see 7 July). Fitch immediately notified the ships under his command stationed along the river, and got underway himself with USS Victory in company Next day the ships converged on Brandenburg, Kentucky, only to find that Morgan’s troops, 6,000 strong, had just beaten them to the river and crossed into Indiana. “Not knowing which direction Morgan had taken,” Fitch reported, “I set the Fairfield and Silver Take to patrol from Leavenworth, [Indiana] up to Brandenburg during the night, and the Victory and Springfield to patrol from Louisville down [to Brandenburg].” By thus deploying his forces, Fitch was able to cover the river for some 40 miles. The morning of 10 July Fitch learned the Confederates were moving northward and, joined by USS Reindeer and Naumkeag, ascended the Ohio, “keeping as near Morgan’s right flank as I possibly could.” The chase, continuing until 19 July, was conducted by USS Moose, Reindeer, Victory, Springfield, Naumkeag, and steamer Alleghany Belle. USS Fairplay and Silver Lake remained to patrol between Louisville and Cannelton, Indiana.

Under command of Acting Ensigns Henry Eason and James J. Russell, two cutters from USS Restless and Rosalie captured schooner Ann and one sloop (unnamed) in Horse Creek, Florida, with cargoes of cotton.

CSS Florida, Commander Maffitt, captured and burned brig W.B. Nash and whaling schooner Rienzi off New York. The latter carried a cargo of oil.

9 Port Hudson, Louisiana, surrendered after a prolonged attack by Union naval and land forces, The journal of USS Richmond recorded: “This morning at daylight our troops took possession of the rebel stronghold…. At 10 a.m. the Hartford and Albatross came down from above the batteries and anchored ahead of us, General Banks raised the stars and stripes over the citadel and fired a salute of thirty-five guns.” A week later Rear Admiral Farragut wrote from New Orleans: “We have done our part of the work assigned to us, and all has worked well. My last dash past Port Hudson was the best thing I ever did, except taking New Orleans. It assisted materially in the fall of Vicksburg and Port Hudson.” The long drive to wrest control of the entire Mississippi River, beginning in the north at Fort Henry and in the south at New Orleans early in 1862, was over.

Farragut, off Donaldsonville, Louisiana, wrote Rear Admiral Porter: “The Department, I pre-sume, anticipated the fall of Vicksburg and Port Hudson by the time their dispatch would reach me, in which they tell me that ‘I will now be able to turn over the Mississippi River to you and give my more particular attention to the blockade on the different points on the coast.’…. There are here, as above, some 10,000 Texans, who have 15 or 20 pieces of light artillery, and have cut embrasures in the levee and annoy our vessels very much.” Farragut requested Porter to send down one or two ironclads which ”would then be able to keep open the communications perfectly between Port Hudson and New Orleans.”

Commander Bulloch wrote Secretary Mallory from Paris regarding the ironclads being built in Europe for the South, Noting that it had not been difficult to sign crews for commerce raiders CSS Alabama and Florida because they held out to the men, “not only the captivating excitement of adventure but the positive expectation of prize money, he revealed that it was a much greater problem to man the ironclads. ”Their grim aspect and formidable equipment,” he wrote, clearly show that they are solely intended for the real danger and shock of battle….”.

Recognizing that Wilmington was the key port through which blockade runners were finding passage, Bulloch recommended that the warships be sent to that port “as speedily as possible…. [to] entirely destroy the blockading vessels.” Once this was accomplished, the ships could turn their attentions elsewhere for “a decisive blow in any direction, north or south.” Bulloch suggested that they could steam up the coast, striking at Washington, Philadelphia, and Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The high hopes placed on these ironclads were to no avail, however, for they were seized by the British prior to their completion and never reached Confederate waters.

Boat crew from USS, Tahoma, Lieutenant-Commander A. A. Semmes, captured an unnamed flatboat with a cargo of sugar and molasses near Manatee River, Florida,

10 Under Rear Admiral Dahlgren, ironclads USS Catskill, Commander G.W. Rodgers; Montauk, Commander Fairfax; Nahant, Commander Downes; and Weehawken, Commander Colhoun, bom-barded Confederate defenses on Morris Island, Charleston harbor, supporting and covering a landing by Army troops under Brigadier General Quincy A. Gillmore. Close in support of the landing was rendered by small boats, under Lieutenant-Commander Francis M. Bunce, armed with howitzers, from the blockading ships in Light House Inlet, The early morning assault followed the plan outlined by General Gillmore a week earlier in a letter to Rear Admiral Du Pont: “I cannot safely move without assistance from the Navy. We must have that island or Sullivan’s Island as preliminary to any combined military and naval attack on the interior defenses of Charleston harbor…. I consider a naval force abreast of Morris Island as indispensable to cover our advance upon the Island and restrain the enemy’s gunboats and ironclads.”

The ironclads were abreast of Fort Wagner by midmorning and bombarded the works until evening, but could not dislodge the determined and brave defenders.

The Confederates poured a withering fire into Dahlgren’s ships. “The enemy,” the Admiral reported, “seemed to have made a mark of the Catskill.” She was hit some 60 times, many of which were very severe.” Despite the battering she received, Rodgers had Catskill ready to renew the attack the following day. Dahlgren added: “The Nahant was hit six times, the Montauk twice, and the Weehawken escaped untouched.” Colonel Robert F. Graham, CSA, reported that during the attack, as the Confederates were forced to withdraw within Fort Wagner, “the iron monitors followed us along the channel, pouring into us a fire of shell and grape,” and that casualties were heavy. The prolonged, continuing bombardment of the Southern works at Charleston had begun.

Commodore Montgomery, commandant of the Boston Navy Yard, ordered USS Shenandoah, Captain Daniel B. Ridgely, and USS Ethan Allen, Acting Master Pennell, to search for CSS Florida, Commander Maffitt. Two days before, the commerce raider had destroyed two ships near New York, and now was reported to be “bound for the Provincetown mackerel fleet.” The recent exploits of Lieutenant Read in CSS Clarence, Tacony, and Archer had created great concern as to the safety of even New England waters.

The activity of Florida reinforced these fears, which had already been expressed to Lincoln in a resolution urging “the importance and necessity of placing along the coast a sufficient naval and military force to protect the commerce of the country from piratical depredations of the rebels….” On 7 July the President had requested Secretary Welles to “do the best in regard to it which you can….”

Assistant Secretary Fox wrote Rear Admiral Farragut, congratulating him upon the final opening of the Mississippi” through the Union victories at Vicksburg and Port Hudson. You smashed in the door [at New Orleans in an unsurpassed movement and the success above became a cer-tainty…. Your last move past Port Hudson has hastened the downfall of the Rebs.”

USS New London, Lieutenant-Commander G.H. Perkins, en route from Donaldsonville to New Orleans, was taken under fire and disabled by Confederate artillery at White Hall Point. Perkins went to Donaldsonville to obtain troops to prevent the ship’s capture. While Farragut commended Perkins’ handling of the ship, he informed him that ‘the principle was wrong a commander should never leave his vessel under such circumstances.”

Commander Bulloch informed Secretary Mallory that he was going to sell the bark Agrippina, which had been purchased initially to take stores and armament to CSS Alabama at Terceira (see 28 July 1862). During the year she had made three voyages but had lost contact with Captain Semmes, the unresting commerce raider, and it would be too costly to maintain her as a tender.

11 General Grant, acting on reports that the Confederates were building their strength at Yazoo City, wrote Rear Admiral Porter:” Will it not be well to send up a fleet of gunboats and some troops and nip in the bud any attempt to concentrate a force there?” Porter agreed to escort troops up the river next day.

Charles Francis Adams, US Ambassador to Great Britain, protested the building of ironclads and the outfitting of blockade runners by citizens of Great Britain to Foreign Secretary Earl John Russell. Such acts, Adams noted, “procrastinate the struggle” and increase the “burden of war.” The Ambassador’s diplomatic protests served the Union cause well and helped to frustrate Confederate efforts to obtain additional support in Britain.

USS Yankee, Acting Ensign James W. Turner, captured schooner Cassandra at Jones Point on the Rappahannock River with a cargo of whisky and soda.

Rear Admiral Hiram Paulding, Commandant of the New York Navy Yard, stationed gunboats around Manhattan to assist in maintaining order during the Draft Riots.

12 General Beauregard, commanding the Confederate defenses at Charleston, wrote Captain Tucker, commander of the forces afloat at that city, regarding grave danger which the Union ironclads presented not only to the defenses of Fort Wagner but to the complete defense of Charleston. “It has therefore,” he noted, “become an urgent necessity to destroy, if possible, part or all of these ironclads….” He suggested an attack by a gunboat and a ”torpedo ram.” Within the week, he was again pressing the need to make ”some effort…. to sink either the Ironsides or one of the monitors…. The stake is manifestly a great one, worthy of no small risk…. One monitor destroyed now will have greater moral and material effect, I believe, than two sunk at a later stage in our defense.” This was a forecast of the daring and colorful attempts to be made by the Charleston defenders in the David attack on New Ironsides and the heroic assault by H. E. Hunley, the first submarine successfully used in action.

USS Penobscot, Lieutenant-Commander Joseph F. De Haven, chased blockade runner Kate ashore at Smith’s Island, North Carolina. Some 3 weeks later (31 July), Kate was floated by the Con-federates and towed under the protecting batteries at New Inlet, but was abandoned on the approach of Union ships.

13 A combined expedition up the Yazoo River captured Yazoo City, Mississippi. USS Baron de Kalb, Kenwood, Signal, New National, and Black Hawk, under Lieutenant-Commander J. G. Walker, convoyed some 5,000 troops under Major-General Herron in the oration. Arriving below Yazoo City in midafternoon, Baron de Kalb, leading the force, struck a torpedo and sank within 15 minutes. “Many of the crew were bruised by the concussion, which was severe, but no lives were lost,” Rear Admiral Porter reported. As the troops landed, the Confederates evacuated the city.

Commander I. N. Brown, commander of the heavy artillery and ships at Yazoo City, ordered ship-ping in the area destroyed to prevent its falling into Union hands. Subsequently, a correspondent for the Atlanta Appeal wrote: ”Though the Yankees gained nothing, our loss is very heavy in boats and material of a character much needed. Commander Brown scuttled and burned the Magenta, Mary Keene, Magnolia, Pargoud, John Walsh, R. J. Lockland, Scotland, Golden Age, Arcadia, Ferd Kennett, F.J. Gay, Peytona, Prince of Wales, Natchez and Parallel in the Yazoo River, and Dewdrop, Emma Bett, Sharp and Meares in the Sunflower. We have only left, of all the splendid fleet which sought refuge in the Yazoo River, the Hope, Hartford City, Ben McCulloch and Cotton Plant, which are up the Tallahatchie and Yalobusha…. This closes the history of another strongly defended river.” In addition, the Union force captured steamer St. Mary. The spectacular Union victories in the West did not eliminate the need for continued attention by the forces afloat on the rivers. “While a rebel flag floats anywhere,” Porter observed, “gunboats must follow it up.”

USS Forest Rose, Acting Lieutenant G. W. Brown, with USS Petrel in company, captured steamer Elmira on the Tensas River, Louisiana. Meanwhile, another phase of the expedition under Lieutenant-Commander Selfridge, USS Rattler and Manitou, captured steamer Louisville in the Little Red River. She was described as “one of the finest of the Mississippi packets.” Selfridge reported to Porter: ”The result of the expedition is the capture of the steamers Louisville and Elmira, 2 small steamers burned, 15,000 rounds smoothbore ammunition, 1,000 rounds Enfield [rifle shells], ditto…. He also destroyed a large sawmill “with some 30,000 feet of lumber
and a quantity of rum, sugar and salt.

USS Katahdin, Lieutenant-Commander P.C. Johnson, seized British blockade runner Excelsior off San Luis Pass, Texas. “With the exception of 2 bales of cotton,” Johnson reported, “she had no cargo.”

A landing party from USS Jacob Bell, Acting Master Gerhard C. Schulze, went ashore near Union Wharf on the Rappahannock River, and seized contraband goods consisting of blockade running flatboats and a cargo of alcohol, whisky, salt, and soda. Lacking transport for the cap-tured goods, Schulze destroyed them.

14 Naval forces under Rear Admiral S. P. Lee, including USS Sangamon, Lehigh, Mahaska, Morse, Commodore Barney, Commodore Jones, Shokokon, and Seymour, captured Fort Powhatan on the James River, Virginia. Acting on orders from Secretary Welles to threaten Richmond and assist mili-tary movements in the vicinity, Lee reported: “We destroyed two magazines…. and twenty platforms for gun carriages today.” The last Confederate defense below Chaffin’s and Drewry’s Bluff had fallen.

J. B. Jones, clerk in the Confederate War Department, recorded in his diary that General Beaure-gard had written from Charleston ”for a certain person here skilled in the management of torp-edoes- but Secretary Mallory says the enemy’s gun-boats are in the James River and he cannot be sent away. I hope,” he added, “both cities [Charleston and Richmond] may not fall!”. A lack of technicians in adequate numbers was one of many hindrances to the Confederate efforts.

USS R. R. Cuyler, Lieutenant-Commander Jouett, captured steamer Kate Dale off Tortugas with a cargo of cotton.

USS Jasmine, Acting Master Alfred L. B. Zerega, captured sloop Relampago near the Florida Keys bound from Havana with a cargo including copper boiler tubing.

15 Rear Admiral Farragut wrote Rear Admiral Porter: ”I feel that the time has now arrived con-templated by the honorable Secretary of the Navy, when I should turn over the Mississippi to you down to New Orleans, and then pay my attention to the blockade of the Gulf…. Far-ragut noted that he would take a brief leave, offered by Secretary Welles, “prior to the work he expects of me in the fall. I suppose some work to be done by the vessels yet to be sent to me, Galveston and Mobile perhaps, and that will finish my work….” On 1 August Porter wrote Welles that he had “assumed the charge of the Mississippi….”

Boat crews from USS Stars and Stripe and Somerset, under Lieutenant-Commander Crosman, landed at Marsh’s Island, Florida, and destroyed some 60 bushels of salt and 50 salt boilers.

USS Yankee, Acting Ensign Turner, captured schooner Nanjemoy in the Coan River, Virginia.

USS Santiago de Cuba, Commander Wyman, captured steamer Lizzie east of the Florida coast.

Batteries at Grimball’s Landing on the Stone River, South Carolina, opened a heavy fire on USS Pawnee, Commander Balch, and USS Marblehead, Lieutenant-Commander Scott while Confederate troops assaulted a Union position on James Island under command of Brigadier General Alfred H. Terry. Though Pawnee, struck some 40 times by the accurate shorefire, and Marblehead were compelled to drop downriver, they nonetheless provided important support for the Union troops and were instrumental in forcing the Confederates to break off the attack. Brigadier General Terry reported that the ships “opened a most effective fire upon my left. The enemy, unable to endure the concentric fire to which they were exposed, fell back and retreated…. I desire to express my obligations to Captain Balch, US Navy, commanding the naval forces in the river, for the very great assistance he rendered to me….”

Porter wrote Farragut from Vicksburg: “The plan of the enemy is, to have flying batteries all along the river, and annoy us in that way. They have already planted one twenty-five miles below here, one at Rodney, and are going to put another at Ellis’s Cliffs. We shall be kept busy chasing them up.” Nonetheless, on this date the merchant steamer Imperial arrived at New Orleans. She had left St. Louis on 8 July and her arrival at the Mississippi’s port city without incident illustrated that the great river truly ”again goes unvexed to the sea.”

Commander Bulloch awarded a contract to Lucien Arman, a naval constructor at Bordeaux, France, for the construction of ”two steam rams, hulls of wood and iron, 300 horsepower, two propellers, with two armored turrets…. The general plans had been drawn up by Com-mander M. F. Maury and approved by Secretary Mallory. The Confederate agent also specified that the ships would have to have a speed of “not less than 12 knots” in a calm sea. Only one of the rams, later commissioned CSS Stonewall, ever reached Confederate hands. She arrived in Havana late in the war and was eventually surrendered to the Union. Without the material and industrial capacity to fill their naval needs at home, the South turned with increasing frequency to Europe in hopes of building a Navy capable of breaking the North’s stranglehold.

Expedition from USS Port Royal, Lieutenant-Commander G. U. Morris, captured cotton ready to be run through the blockade at Apalachicola, Florida,

CSS Georgia, Lieutenant W. L. Maury, captured ship Prince of Wales, of Bath, Maine, in the mid-South Atlantic (24o14′ S., 28o1′ W.); Maury released her on bond.

17 Rear Admiral Dahlgren, preparing to renew the attack on Fort Wagner, wrote Secretary Welles about the critical shortage of men in his squadron. Men were being required to bombard by day and blockade by night. The Admiral asked for 500 Marines: “… there will be occasion for them.” On 28 July Welles informed Dahlgren that USS Aries had departed Boston with 200 men and upon her return from Charleston would bring 200 more sailors from New York to him. He added, ”A battalion of marines, about 400 in number, will leave New York on the steamer Arago on Friday next.”

US ram Monarch, with troops embarked, participated in the reoccupation of Hickman, Kentucky, which had been taken by Confederate cavalry 2 days earlier. Brigadier General Alexander Asboth had high praise for the ram and her mobility: ”It would be in the best interests of the service to place the ram Monarch on the Mississippi between Island No. 10 and Columbus, where she could operate with my land forces appearing at any point threatened or attacked on this part of the river, so much exposed to rebel raids. Without the cooperation of a ram or gunboat it will be difficult for my very limited force to act with efficiency and the desired degree of success….”

The combined attack on Fort Wagner, Charleston harbor, was renewed. Rear Admiral Dahlgren’s force consisted of USS Montauk, New Ironsides, Catskill, Nantucket, Weehauken, and Patapsco. The gunboats USS Paul Jones, Ottawa, Seneca, Chipewa, and Wissahickon provided long-range support with effect. The heavy fire from the ironclads commenced shortly after noon, the range closing as the tide permitted to 300 yards. The naval bombardment at this distance silenced the fort “so that for this day not a shot was fired afterwards at the vessels….” At sunset Gillmore ordered his troops to attack the fort. “To this moment,” Dahlgren reported, an incessant and accurate fire had been maintained by the vessels, but now it was impossible [in the dim light to distinguish whether it took effect on friend or foe, and of necessity was suspended.” Deprived of naval gunfire support, the Union assault ashore was repulsed with heavy losses.

A delegation from Portsmouth, New Hampshire, bearing a letter from the Governor, was received by Secretary Welles. The group was seeking additional defenses for the city. ”Letters from numerous places on the New England coast are received to the same effect,” Welles wrote in his diary. “Each of them wants a monitor, or cruiser or both. The Secretary pointed out that the shore defenses came under the war Department rather than the Navy, and that the local municipality should bear some of the responsibility for its own defense. The successful raid along the New England coast by Lieutenant Read in CSS Tacony the preceding month and per-sistent rumors of other Confederate cruisers in the area since his capture had alarmed the northern seaboard.

USS De Soto, Captain M.W. Walker; USS Ossipee, Captain Gillis; and USS Kennebec, Lieu-tenant Commander Russell, seized steamers James Battle and William Bagley in the Gulf of Mexico. The a cargo of the former was cotton and rosin, and she was described by Rear Admiral Bailey as “the finest packet on the Alabama River and was altered to suit her for a blockade runner, at a large expense.” William Bagley, too, carried a cargo of cotton from Mobile.

Boat crews from USS Vincennes, Lieutenant-Commander Henry A Adams Jr. and USS Clifton, Acting Lieutenant Frederick Crocker, captured barge H. McGuin, in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.

USS Jacob Bell, Acting Master Schulze, with USS Resolute and Racer in company, drove off Confederate troops firing on ship George Peabody, aground at Mathias Point, Virginia.

19 After seeking to intercept the troops of General Morgan for some 10 days and 500 miles, the gun-boat squadron under Lieutenant-Commander Fitch engaged the Confederate raiders as they attempted to effect a crossing of the Ohio River at Buffington Island – USS Moose and steamer Alleghany Belle repeatedly frustrated the Southerners’ attempts to cross, Pressed from the rear by Union troops and subjected to heavy fire from the gunboats, Morgan’s soldiers made a scat-tered retreat into the hills, leaving their artillery on the beach. This audacious Southern thrust into the North was broken up. Some 3,000 Confederates were taken prisoner. Major-General Ambrose E. Burnside heralded the “efficient services” of Fitch in achieving the “brilliant success of the engagement. “Too much praise,” he wrote Rear Admiral Porter, cannot be awarded the naval department at this place for the promptness and energy manifested in this movement. And Brigadier General Jacob D. Cox noted: “The activity and energy with which the squadron was used to prevent the enemy recrossing the Ohio, and to assist in his capture, was worthy of the highest praise.”

Feeling that “Morris Island must be held at all cost,” Brigadier General Thomas Jordan, General Beauregard’s chief of staff, asked for reinforcements from Fort Sumter. Brigadier General Ros-well S. Ripley replied that he had reinforcements but doubted that they could be transported to Morris Island. ”The Sumter is here with [Colonel] Graham’s regiment, but it is broad daylight, and she can not land within 2,000 yards or the Ironsides and monitors.”

Major-General W. T. Sherman wrote Rear Admiral Porter of the Army’s capture of Jackson, Mississippi. No longer could the Confederates utilize it as a base kit organizing attacks on Mississippi River steamer traffic.” The operation was not as complete a success as either Sherman or Porter had hoped. “Having numerous bridges across the Pearl River,” the General wrote, “…. and a railroad in full operation to the rear, he [General Joseph F. Johnston, CSA succeeded in carrying off most of his material and men. Had the Pearl River been a Mississippi, with a patrol of gunboats, I might have accomplished your wish in bagging the whole….” Sherman added in an aside that during a supper held for the general officers at the governor’s mansion in Jackson, ” ‘Army and Navy Forever’ was sung with a full and hearty chorus.”

USS Canandaigua, Captain Green, sighted sidewheel steamer Raccoon attempting to run the blockade into Charleston and headed her off. The blockade runner, going aground near Moultrie House, was destroyed next day by her crew to prevent capture.

20 USS Shawsheen, Acting Master Phelon, captured schooners Sally, Helen Jane, Elizabeth, Dolphin, and James Brice near Cedar Island, Neuse River, North Carolina.

21 Rear Admiral Dahlgren wrote Secretary Welles of the continuing operations against Fort Wagner: “I have already silenced Fort Wagner and driven its garrison to shelter [on the 18th], and can repeat the same, but this is the full extent to which artillery can go; the rest can only be accom-plished by troops. General Gillmore tells me he can furnish but a single column for attack, and it is, of course, impossible for me to supply the deficiency, when the crews of the vessels are al-ready much reduced in number and working beyond their strength to fulfill the various duties of blockade, cannonading, and boat patrols by night. Time is all important,” he added, “for the enemy will not fail to use it in guarding weak points. He is already putting up fresh works.”

Boats from USS Owasco, Lieutenant-Commander Madigan, and USS Cayuga, Lieutenant Com-mander Dana, captured and destroyed schooner Revenge at Sabine Pass.

22 In a move to bolster Union Army strength ashore, Rear Admiral Dahlgren ordered Commander F. A. Parker to take charge of a four-gun naval battery to be placed on Morris Island ”for the work against Fort Sumter.” General Gillmore, expressing appreciation to Dahlgren for the battery, noted that he would cooperate fully with Commander Parker: “His guns and men will, of course, remain under his immediate control.”

According to figures compiled by the New York Chamber of Commerce on the effectiveness of Confederate raiders, ”150 vessels, including two steamers, representing a tonnage of upward of 60,000 tons and a value of over $12,000,000 have been captured by the rebel privateers Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and the vessels seized and armed by them…. The result is, that either American ships lie idle at our own and foreign ports, unable to procure freights, and thus practically excluded from the carrying trade, or are transferred to foreign flags.”

23 Brigadier General Ripley proposed the use of a fire ship against USS New Ironsides and other Union ships at Charleston. The fire ship, he suggested, would be loaded with explosives. ”Should this explode close to the Ironsides, or other vessel, the effect must be to destroy her; and if two or three are in juxtaposition, the two or three may be got rid of.” He pointed out that some 20 Union ships were generally stationed in a narrow waterway. Though Ripley thought the chances of success were ”fair,” General Beauregard asked the advice of the Confederate naval leaders, Commodore Ingraham and Captain Tucker, and, when Ingraham reported his estimate of the odds for success at “five in one hundred” and Tucker’s at “thirty in one hundred,” he determined not to carry out the plan. Late in 1864 the Union acted on a similar proposal by General Butler at Wilmington. Over 200 tons of powder were exploded on a ship to cover an Army assault on Fort Fisher. The experiment was unsuccessful.

24 Rear Admiral Dahlgren’s ironclads and gunboats, including USS New Ironsides, Weehauken, Patapsco, Montauk, Catskill, Nantucket, Paul Jones, Ottawa, Seneca, and Dai Ching, bombarded Fort Wagner in support of Army operations ashore. Dahlgren reported the effort a success, noting that the ship’s fire “silenced the guns of Wagner and drove its garrison to shelter. This enabled our army to progress with the works which they had advanced during the night and to arm them.” The Admiral added in his diary that “General Gillmore telegraphed that his operation had suc-ceeded, and thanked me for the very efficient fire of the vessels.” The next day, learning from Gillmore that a Confederate offensive was planned for the 26th, Dahlgren quickly brought his forces afloat into action once again. Issuing detailed instructions to prevent an attack, Dahlgren added: “The enemy must not obtain the advantage he seeks, nor attempt it with impunity.”

Because of the French occupation of Mexico City some 6 weeks before and the apparently hostile attitude of Emperor Napoleon III toward the United States. General Banks at New Orleans was ordered to prepare an expedition to Texas. For some time Secretary Welles had advocated a similar move in order to halt the extensive blockade running via Matamoras and the legally neutral Rio Grande River. ”The use of the Rio Grande to evade the blockade,” he recorded in his diary, “and the establishment of regular lines of steamers to Matamoras did not disturb some of our people, but certain movements and recent givings-out of the French have alarmed Seward, who says Louis Napoleon is making an effort to get Texas; he therefore urges the immediate occupation of Galveston and also some other point.” The expedition could take two routes: striking by amphibious assault along the Texas coast, or via the Red River into the interior. In either case, a joint Army-Navy assault would be necessary. The expedition, after a beginning marked by delays and frustrations, got underway early in 1864.

Dahlgren again wrote Welles about “how much I am pushed in order (first; to conduct opera-tions on Morris Island, (second) to maintain the blockade, (third) to cover the points which have been exposed by the withdrawal of troops concentrated here….” In addition, Dahlgren’s duties required his forces to be active at Wassaw Sound where a Confederate ram was being built and at Port Royal where the Southerners had long hoped to recapture the vital Union supply station, as well as along the entire southeastern Atlantic coast. Squadron commanders were always faced with demands greater than they had ships and men to meet.

Rear Admiral Porter directed that all ships in his Mississippi Squadron be provided with an ap-paratus to destroy torpedoes while on expeditions up narrow rivers. Since a torpedo exploding with 100 pounds of powder would not injure a ship 10 feet away, Porter proposed “that each vessel be provided with a rake projecting 20 or 30 feet beyond the bow….” The rake will be provided with iron teeth (spikes will do) to catch the torpedo or break the wires.” The serious threat of the Confederate torpedoes, even in waters dominated by the Union, could never be ignored by naval commanders and dictated persistent caution.

Secretary Mallory wrote President Davis asking that men he transferred from the Army to man ships at Mobile, Savannah, Charleston, and Wilmington. “The vessels at these points,” he wrote, ”have not the men to fight their own guns and men to spare for any enterprises against the enemy.” The Navy had no conscription and suffered from a critical want of seamen.

USS Iroquois, Captain Case, captured blockade runner Merrimac off the coast of North Carolina with a cargo of cotton, turpentine, and tobacco.

USS Arago, Commander Henry A. Gadsden, captured steamer Emma off Wilmington with a cargo of cotton, rosin, and turpentine.

27 CSS Florida, Commander Maffitt, sailed from Bermuda after having coaled and refitted. Three weeks later, Maffitt put into harbor at Brest, France, for extensive repairs, which would consume 6 months and take from the seas one of the most successful of the Confederate commerce raiders. During this period, Maffitt, in poor health, asked to be relieved of his command.

General Beauregard asked Captain Tucker, commanding Confederate naval forces at Charleston, to ”place your two ships, the ironclads, in a position immediately contiguous to Cumming’s Point….” Beauregard noted that the addition of the ironclads would “materially strengthen our means of defense” and the Confederate hold on Morris Island. Tucker subsequently replied: “Flag Officer Ingraham, commanding station, Charleston, has informed me officially that he has but 80 tons of coal to meet all demands, including the ironclads, and has admonished me of the necessity of economy in consumption.” However, a fresh supply of coal arrived in August in time to enable the ironclads to help evacuate Fort Wagner. Critical shortages of coal hampered Southern efforts afloat and even that which was obtained was “soft” rather than “hard” coal. It burned with a heavy smoke and was much less efficient than anthracite coal.

USS Clifton, Lieutenant Crocker, with USS Estrella, Hollyhock, and Sachem in company on a reconnaissance of the Atchafalaya River to the mouth of Bayou Teche, Louisiana, engaged Confederate batteries.

28 Under the command of Lieutenant-Commander English, USS Beauregard and Oleander and boats from USS Sagamore and Para attacked New Smyrna, Florida. After shelling the town, the Union force “captured one sloop loaded with cotton, one schooner not laden; caused them to destroy several vessels, some of which were loaded with cotton and about ready to sail. They burned large quantities of it on shore…. Landed a strong force, destroyed all the buildings that had been occupied by troops.” The Union Navy’s capability to strike swiftly and effectively at any point on the South’s sea perimeter kept the Confederacy off balance.

Commander John C. Carter, commanding USS Michigan on a cruise visiting principal cities on Lake Erie to recruit men for the Navy, reported that his call at Detroit was particularly opportune. ”I found the people suffering under serious apprehensions of a riot in consequence of excitement in reference to the draft…. The presence of the ship perhaps did something toward overawing the refractory, and certainly did much to allay the apprehensions of the excited, doubting people. All fears in reference to the riot had subsided before I left.” During August, Michigan was called on for similar service at buffalo, New York.

29 Rear Admiral Farragut recalled Commodore H. H. Bell from blockade duty on the Texas coast to assume command of the West Gulf Blockading Squadron during his absence. Bell hoisted his broad pennant on board USS Pensacola.

USS Rosalie, Acting Master Peter F. Coffin, seized blockade running British schooner Georgie in the Caloosahtchee River, near Fort Myers, Florida. The schooner had been abandoned and carried no cargo.

USS Niphon, Acting Master Joseph B. Breck, seized British blockade runner Banshee at New Inlet, North Carolina.

USS Shawsheen, Acting Master Phelon, captured schooner Telegraph in Rose Bay, North Carolina. She had been abandoned after a chase of some 16 miles.

30 Rear Admiral Dahlgren advised Secretary Welles that “the position of affairs” at Morris Island had not “materially changed” in the last 5 days. He reported that the Army’s advanced batteries, 600 yards from Fort Wagner, were in operation and that “Every day two or three of the ironclads join in and sweep the ground between Wagner and Cumming s Point, or else fire directly into Wagner…. It is to be remembered,” he added, that Wagner is the key to Sumter, wherefore the enemy will spare no effort for the defense, and will protect any result to the last.” Dahlgren also observed that one of the “many little things” which would be of assistance to him would be the electric light which Professor Way exhibited here, and which Professor Henry (Smithsonian Institution) knows of; it would either illuminate at night, if needed, or would serve to signal….” As a man of science as well as an operational commander, the Admiral was quick to seek the advantages offered by new developments. The calcium light was brought down and enor-mously assisted in the capture of Fort Wagner by slowing down and halting Confederate repairs to the fort which previously were made under cover of night.

31 CSS Tuscaloosa, Lieutenant John Low, captured ship Santee, bound from Akyab to Falmouth with a cargo of rice. Santee was released on bond.

AUGUST 1863

1 Prior to departing for the North on board USS Hartford, Rear Admiral Farragut wrote Rear Admiral Porter from New Orleans: “I congratulate you upon your arrival at this city and rejoice that we have been able to meet here to make the transfer of the charge of the Mississippi River from New Orleans to the headwaters, and at the same time to receive the announcement from you that the entire Mississippi to St. Louis is free from the annoyances of the rebels, and that I can carry with me the glad tidings that it is open to commerce…. I hope that it will not be closed or interrupted again, but that peace and tranquillity will soon follow these glorious events.”

Confederate steamer Chesterfield, landing troops and ammunition at Cumming’s Point, Morris Island, Charleston harbor, was taken under fire by a Union gunboat. She was forced to seek safety at Fort Sumter before she completed the landing of her stores. Brigadier General Ripley noted that the Union was “for the first time, attempting to interrupt our communication with Morris Island.” Urging that some measures he taken to protect the Confederate transports, Ripley observed that if such actions continued, “our transportation, which is already of the weakest kind, will soon be cut up, and when that is gone our first requisite for carrying out the defense of Charleston is taken from us.” General Beauregard asked Flag Officer Tucker on 2 August to provide “at least one of the ironclad rams…. to drive away such vessels as disturbed and interrupted our means of transportation last night.”

USS Yankee, Acting Ensign Turner, captured sloop Clara Ann near Coan River, Virginia, with a cargo including whisky.

2 The day after assuming command of the entire Mississippi River, Rear Admiral Porter wrote Secretary Welles: “The wharves of New Orleans have a most desolate appearance, and the city looks less thriving than it did when I was last here, a year since. It is to be hoped that facilities will be afforded for the transportation of produce from above. Almost everything is wanted, and provisions are very high…. I think we have arrived at a stage…. when trade and commerce should be encouraged. With trade, prosperity will again commence to enter this once flourishing city, and a better state of feeling be brought about.”

4 Four boat crews under Lieutenants Alexander F. Warley and John Payne from CSS Chicora and Palmetto State and a Confederate Army detachment captured a Union picket station and an un-finished battery at Vincent’s Creek, Morris Island. The sharp engagement took place at night, after Confederates discovered that the Union men, under Acting Master John Haynes, USN, had been observing Southern movements at Cumming’s Point and signaling General Gillmore’s batteries so that effective artillery fire could be thrown on transports moving to the relief of Fort Wagner.

5 USS Commodore Barney, Acting Lieutenant Samuel Hose, was severely damaged when a 1,000-pound electric torpedo was exploded near her above Dutch Gap, Virginia. The explosion, reported Captain Guert Gansevoort, senior officer present, produced “a lively concussion” and washed the decks ‘with the agitated water.” “Some 20 men,” he added, “Were either swept or jumped overboard, two of whom are missing and may have been drowned.” Had the anxious Confederate torpedoman waited another moment to close the electrical circuit, Commodore Barney surely would have been destroyed. The incident took place during a joint Army-Navy recon-naissance of the James River which had begun the previous day. “This explosion…,” wrote Lieutenant Hunter Davidson, CSN, in charge of the Submarine Battery Service, “effectively arrested their progress up the river…. ” On 6 August USS Sangamon, Cohasset, and Com-modore Barney were taken under fire by Confederate shore artillery’ and Commodore Barney was again disabled, this time by a shot through the boilers. Returning downstream, the expedition was subjected to a heavy shorefire, Commodore Barney receiving more than 30 hits.

CSS Juno, Lieutenant Philip Porcher, captured a launch, commanded by Acting Master Edward Haines, from USS Wabash in Charleston harbor. The launch was a part of the night patrol on guard duty; Haines, hearing the report that a Confederate steamer was coming out into the harbor, went to investigate. “Soon after getting underway,” he reported, ‘I made out a steamer standing down the channel close to Morris Island.” He opened on her with the launch’s howitzer. Juno, reconnoitering the harbor with a 65-pound torpedo attached to her bow in the event that she should meet a Union ship, was otherwise unarmed, for she had been trimmed down to become a blockade runner, and her only means of defense was to run the launch down. Engineer James H. Tomb, CSN, reported: “We immediately headed for her, striking her about amidships; but not having much headway on the Juno, the launch swung around to port, just forward of the wheel….” Haines’ men then tried to carry Juno by boarding despite heavy musket fire but were overwhelmed by superior numbers.

Rear Admiral Porter praised the work of the Coast Survey men assigned to him in a letter to A. D. Bache, Superintendent of the Coast Survey. The charts prepared by the Survey were of great value to the Navy in its efforts on the western water, for they “have added a good deal to the geographical knowledge already procured.” Because of the charts, Porter added, “gunboats have steamed through where the keel of a canoe never passed, and have succeeded in reaching points in the enemy’s country where the imagination of man never dreamed that he would be molested by an enemy in such a shape. You will see by the charts that what was once considered a mere ditch, capable of passing a canoe, is really a navigable stream for steamers…. I have found them [officers of the Coast Survey always prompt and ready to execute my orders, never for a moment taking into consideration the dangers and difficulties surrounding them.”

A detachment of Marines arrived at Charleston harbor to augment Union forces. Rear Admiral Dahlgren quickly cut the number of Marines on board the ships of his squadron to a minimum and sent the resulting total of some 500 Marines, under Major Jacob Zeilin, ashore on Morris Island. Dahlgren ordered that the Marines be ready “to move on instant notice; rapidity of movement is one of the greatest elements of military power.

CSS Alabama, Captain Semmes, captured bark Sea Bride off Table Bay, Cape of Good Hope, with a cargo of provisions. The capture took place within view of cheering crowds ashore. A local newspaperman wrote: “They did cheer, and cheer with a will, too. It was not, perhaps, taking the view of either side, Federal or Confederate, but in admiration of the skill, pluck and daring of the Alabama, her Captain, and her crew, who afford a general theme of admiration for the world all over.” Semmes subsequently sold the bark to an English merchant.

6 USS Fort Henry, Lieutenant-Commander McCauley, captured sloop Southern Star at St. Martin’s Reef, Florida, with a cargo of turpentine.

CSS Florida, Commander Maffitt, captured and released on bond Francis B. Cutting in the mid-North Atlantic.

USS Antona, Acting Master Lyman Wells, seized blockade running British schooner Betsey off Corpus Christi.

USS Paw Paw, Acting Master Augustus F. Thompson, struck a snag in the Mississippi River and sank within 15 minutes near Hardin’s Point, Arkansas.

7 With Charleston under heavy attack by combined Union forces, General Beauregard asked that the “transportation of Whitney’s submarine boat from Mobile here” be expedited. “It is,” he added, “much needed.” Beauregard was referring to the submarine constructed at Mobile on plans furnished by Horace L. Hunley, James R. McClintock, and Baxter Watson. She was the H. L. Hunley, a true submersible fashioned from a cylindrical iron steam boiler, which comprised her main center section, and tapered bow and stern sections. Designed for a crew of nine-one to steer her and eight to turn her hand-cranked propeller- H.L. Hunley, according to McClintock, was 40 feet in length, 3 1/2 feet in breadth at her widest point, and 4 feet in depth. Her speed was about 4 knots. In the next 6 months the little craft would become famous and her gallant crews would launch a new era in war at sea.

Secretary Mallory sent Lieutenant Maffitt his appointment as a commander in the Confederate States Navy, effective 29 April 1863. He congratulated the intrepid captain of CSS Florida and the officers and men under your command upon the brilliant success of your cruise, and I take occasion to express the entire confidence of the Department that all that the skill, courage, and coolness of a seaman can accomplish with the means at your command will he achieved.” The value of Maffitt’s exploits in Florida, as well as those of Confederate captains in other commerce raiders, was far greater than even the large number of merchant ships that were captured and destroyed, for their operations required the Union to use many ships and men and expend huge sums of money in attempts to run them down that could otherwise have been diverted to the war effort in coastal waters and the rivers.

USS Mound City, Lieutenant-Commander Wilson, fired on and dispersed Confederate cavalry making a raid on an encampment at Lake Providence, Louisiana.

8 USS Sagamore, Lieutenant-Commander English, seized British sloop Clara Louisa off Indian River, Florida. Later the same day he captured British schooners Southern Rights and Shot and Confederate schooner Ann off Gilbert’s Bar.

10 Rear Admiral Farragut arrived at New York. In a message of welcome Secretary Welles said: “I congratulate you on your safe return from labors, duties, and responsibilities unsurpassed and unequaled in magnitude, importance, and value to the country by those of any naval officers. I will not enumerate the many signal achievements you have accomplished from that most splendid one which threw open the gates of the Mississippi and restored the Crescent City again to the Union to the recent capture of Port Hudson, the last formidable obstruction to the free navigation of the river of the great central valley.” Three days later, a group of leading New York citizens sent a letter of tribute to the Admiral: ‘The whole country, but especially this commercial metropolis, owes you a large debt of gratitude for the skill and dauntless bravery with which, during a long life of public duty, you have illustrated and maintained the maritime rights of the nation, and also for the signal ability, judgment, and courtesy with which, in concert with other branches of the loyal national forces, you have sustained the authority of the government, and recovered and defended national territory.”

USS Princess Royal, Commander Melancthon B. Woolsey, seized brig Atlantic off the mouth of the Rio Grande River with a cargo of cotton. Sent to New Orleans for adjudication she was recaptured by her master and crew and taken to Havana.

USS Cayuga, Lieutenant-Commander Dana, captured blockade running schooner J. T. Davis off the mouth of the Rio Grande River with a cargo of cotton.

11 Rear Admiral Dahlgren, seeking to clear the way for his ironclads through the heavy Confederate obstructions in Charleston harbor, suggested that “a vessel constructed of corrugated iron” and fashioned like a boat, but closed perfectly on the top, so that it could he submerged very quickly” could be a means of delivering a large amount of powder directly upon the obstructions. Such a weapon, Dahlgren wrote Secretary Welles, “would dislocate any nice arrangements. Dahlgren later described to Welles the nature of the formidable harbor defenses at Charleston against which the Admiral pitted his ironclads. There was a “continuous line of works” extending from Fort Moultrie on the right to Fort Johnson on the left. Fort Ripley, supported by CSS Chicora, Charleston, and Palmetto State, and Castle Pickney were to the right beyond Moultrie. A line of piles had been driven into the harbor in front of Fort Ripley. Rope ob-structions were stretched between Forts Sumter and Moultrie, and anchored torpedoes were placed in the harbor as well.
12 Rear Admiral Charles H. Bell, commanding the Pacific Squadron, ordered USS Narragansett, Commander Stanly, to cruise regularly between San Francisco and Acapulco, Mexico, for the protection of Pacific mail steamers. In addition, he warned Stanly to keep two-thirds of his officers on board the ship at all times, and to maintain a regular sea watch whenever in a port with Confederate sympathies to avoid being boarded and taken.

USS Princess Royal, Commander Woolsey, seized British schooner Flying Scud at Brazos, Texas. She was reported to have run the blockade and landed 65,000 pounds of powder, 7 tons of horse-shoes, and thousands of dollars worth of medical supplies.

13 -14 A naval force under Lieutenant Bache reconnoitered the White River above Clarendon, Arkansas, to gain information as to the whereabouts of [Confederate General Sterling] Price’s Army, to destroy the telegraph at Des Arc and capture the operator, and catch the steamboats Kaskaskia and Thos. Sugg.” The force, including USS Lexington, Lieutenant Bache; USS Cricket, Acting Lieutenant Langthorne; and USS Marmora, Acting Lieutenant R. Getty, with Army troops embarked, burned a large warehouse at Des Arc, destroyed the telegraph lines for a half a mile, and “obtained some information that we wanted….” Next day, the gunboats proceeded upriver, Lexington and Marmora advancing to Augusta, and Cricket searching the Little Red River for the Confederate steamers. At Augusta, Bache learned that “the Southern army were [sic] concentrating at Brownsville, intending to make their line of defense on Bayou Meto. Price was there and Kirby Smith in Little Rock. Marmaduke had recrossed the White some days before, and was then crossing the Little Red.”

Returning downstream, Bache left Marmora to guard the mouth of the Little Red River and ascended the tributary himself, meeting Cricket. Langthorne had captured steamers Kaskaskia and Thomas Sugg with cargoes of cotton, horses, and arms at Searcy and had also destroyed General Marmaduke’s pontoon bridge across the river, thereby slowing his movements. Reporting on the successful expedition, Bache noted: “The capture of the two boats, the only means of trans-portation the rebels had on this river, is a great service to us.” Though operations of this nature passed almost unnoticed by the public, it was precisely the Navy’s ability to thrust incessantly into the vitals of the Confederacy that helped to keep the South on the defensive.

14 Timely intelligence reports played an important role in alerting the Union blockaders. This date, Rear Admiral Bailey advised Lieutenant-Commander McCauley, USS Fort Henry: “I have information that the steamers Alabama and Nita sailed from Havana on the 12th, with a view of running the blockade, probably at Mobile, but possibly between Tampa Bay and St. Marks [Florida]; also that the steamers Montgomery (formerly Habanero), the Isabel, the Fannie, the War-rior, and the Little Lily were nearly ready for sail, with like intent…. the Isabel, which sailed on the 7th, has undoubtedly gone either to Bayport, the Waccasassa, or the Suwanee River. You will therefore keep a sharp lookout for any of these vessels….” Four of the seven ships were captured by the blockading forces within a month.

USS Bermuda, Acting Master J. W. Smith, seized British blockade runners Carmita, with a cargo of cotton, and Artist, with a cargo including liquor and medicine, off the Texas coast.

15 Submarine H. L. Hunley had arrived in Charleston on two covered railroad flat cars. Brigadier General Jordan advised Mr. B.A. Whitney that a reward of $100,000 dollars would he paid by John Fraser and Company for the destruction of USS New Ironsides. He added that “a similar sum for destruction of the wooden frigate Wabash, and the sum of fifty thousand dollars for every Monitor sunk” was also being offered. The next day, Jordan ordered that “every assistance be rendered in equipping the submarine with torpedoes. Jordan noted that General Beauregard regarded H. F. Hunley as the most formidable engine of war for the defense of Charleston now at his disposition & accordingly is anxious to have it ready for service….”

16 USS Pawnee, Commander Balch, escaped undamaged when a floating Confederate torpedo exploded under her stern, destroying a launch, shortly after midnight at Stono Inlet, South Carolina. Four hours later, another torpedo exploded within 30 yards of the ship. In all, four devices exploded close by, and two others were picked up by mortar schooner C. P. Williams. In addition, a boat capable of holding 10 torpedoes was captured by Pawnee. Commander Balch informed Rear Admiral Dahlgren that the torpedoes were ingenious and exceedingly simple” and suggested that ‘they may be one of the means” which the Confederates would use to destroy Northern ships stationed in the Stono River. The threat posed by the torpedoes floating down rivers caused grave concern among Northern naval commanders, and Dahlgren came to grips with it at once. Within 10 days, Lieutenant-Commander Bacon, USS Commodore McDonough reported from Lighthouse Inlet that a net had been stretched across the Inlet “for the purpose of stopping torpedoes….”

Rear Admiral Porter wrote Assistant Secretary Fox regarding an attack on Mobile: “I think the only way to he successful is a perfect combination of Army and Navy it is useless for either branch of service to attempt anything on a grand scale without the aid of the other.” Though joint operations were planned for some time, it was Rear Admiral Farragut who, a year later, was to steam into Mobile Bay, achieve a great naval victory and close the last Gulf port open to the Confederacy.

USS Rhode Island, Commander Trenchard, seized blockade running British steamer Cronstadt north of Man of War Cay, Abaco, with a cargo of turpentine, cotton, and tobacco.

USS De Soto, Captain W. M. Walker, captured steamer Alice Vivian in the Golf of Mexico with a cargo of cotton.

USS Gertrude, Acting Master Cressy, captured steamer Warrior bound from Havana to Mobile with a cargo of coffee, cigars, and dry goods.

17 Naval forces under Rear Admiral Dahlgren, including ironclads USS Weehawken, Catskill, Nahant, Montauk, Passaic, Patapsco, New Ironsides, and gunboats Canandaigua, Mahaska, Cimarron, Ottawa, Wissahickon, Dai Ching, Seneca, and Lodona, renewed the joint attack on Confederate works in Charleston harbor in conjunction with troops of Brigadier General Gillmore. The naval battery ashore on Mossie Island under Commander F. A. Parker contributed some 300 rounds to the bombardment, “the greater portion of which,” Parker reported, struck the face of Sumter or its parapet.” USS Passaic and Patapsco also concentrated on Fort Sumter, though the Navy’s chief fire mission, as it would be for the next 5 days of the engagement, was to heavily engage Confederate batteries and sharpshooters at Fort Wagner in support of Gillmore’s advance.

In the face of the Union threat, Flag Officer Tucker, flying his flag in CSS Chicora, ordered Lieutenant Dozier to have the torpedo steamers under his command ready for action without the least delay” in the event that the ironclads passed Fort Sumter. During the day’s fierce exchange of fire, Dahlgren’s Chief of Staff, Captain G. W. Rodgers, USS Catskill, was killed by a shot from Fort Wagner. “It is but natural that I should feel deeply the loss thus sustained, for the close and confidential relation which the duties of fleet captain necessarily occasion im-pressed me deeply with the worth of Captain Rodgers. Brave, intelligent, and highly capable, [he was] devoted to his duty and to the flag under which he passed his life. The country, added the Admiral in his report to Secretary Welles, “can not afford to lose such men.”

USS De Soto, Captain W.M. Walker, captured steamer Nita, from Havana, in Apalachicola Bay, Florida, with a cargo of provisions and medicines. Walker observed: “The fact that steamers are employed at great cost with all the attendant risk, in transporting provisions from Havana to Mobile is the most conclusive evidence I have yet had of the scarcity of supplies in the Gulf States.”

USS Satellite, Acting Master Robinson, seized schooner Three Brothers in Great Wicomico River, Maryland.

USS Crocus, Acting Ensign J. LeGrand Winton, ran aground at night and was wrecked at Bodie’s Island, North Carolina.

18 USS Niphon, Acting Master Breck, chased steamer Hebe north of Fort Fisher, Wilmington. She was carrying a cargo of drugs, clothing, coffee, and provisions when she was run aground and abandoned. Because of a strong gale, Breck determined to destroy her rather than attempt to get her off. Three boat crews sent to the steamer for that purpose were captured by the Confederates when the boats were either stove in or swamped by the heavy seas. USS Shokokon, Lieutenant Cushing, assisted in the destruction of Hebe by commencing a heavy fire, that soon riddled her.” Rear Admiral Lee reported in summation: “She was as thoroughly burned as the water in her would allow.”

CSS Oconee, Lieutenant Oscar F. Johnston, foundered in heavy seas near St. Catherine’s Sound, Georgia, after running the blockade out of Savannah the night before. She was carrying a cargo of cotton “on navy account,” Secretary Mallory reported. All hands were saved, but 2 days later a boat containing 4 officers and 11 men was captured by USS Madgie, Acting Master Woodbury H. Polleys. Polleys noted that “it was probably her [Oconee’s] intention to obtain plate iron on her return trip, in order to ironclad the new rams now building at Savannah”

19 Boat expedition from USS Norwich and Hale, under Acting Master Charles F. Mitchell, destroyed a Confederate signal station near Jacksonville. “The capture of this signal station,” Acting Master Frank B. Meriam, commander of Norwich, reported, “will either break up this end of the line or it will detain here to protect it the troops, five small companies (about 200 men) of infantry, two full companies of cavalry, and one company of artillery, that I learn are about being forwarded to Richmond.” Throughout the war the Navy’s ability to strike repeatedly at a variety of places pinned down Confederate manpower that was vitally needed on the main fronts.

USS Restless, Acting Master William R. Browne, captured schooner Ernti with a cargo of cotton southwest of the Florida Keys.

21 Confederate torpedo boat Torch, Pilot James Carlin, formerly a blockade runner, made a gallant night attempt to sink USS New Ironsides, Captain Stephen C. Rowan, in the channel near Morris Island. The small steamer, which was constructed from the hulk of an unfinished gunboat at Charleston, sailed low in the water, was painted gray and burned anthracite coal to avoid detec-tion. She took on much water and her engines were of dubious quality when she made her run on the heavy Union blockader. When but 40 yards away from New Ironsides, Carlin ordered the engines cut and pointed her at his prey. The boat failed to respond properly to her helm, and as New Ironsides swung about her anchor slowly with the tide, the torpedo failed to make contact with the ship’s hull. While alongside the Union ship, Carlin could not start the engines for some minutes, but the daring Confederate kept up a cool conversation with the officer of the deck on New Ironsides, who finally became alarmed but was unable to depress any of the guns sufficiently to fire into the little craft. At this moment, the torpedo boat’s engines started, and Carlin quickly made his way back to Charleston, two shots from New Ironsides, falling 20 feet to either side of his torpedo boat. General Beauregard, seeking to lift the blockade and the continuing bombardment of his forces at Forts Wagner and Sumter, wrote Carlin: “I feel convinced that another trial under more favorable circumstances will surely meet with success, notwith-standing the known defects of the vessel.”

CSS Florida, Commander Maffitt, captured and burned ship Anglo Saxon with a cargo of coal near Brest, France.

21–22 Following 4 day’s of intensive bombardment of Forts Wagner, Sumter, and Gregg from afloat and ashore, naval forces under Rear Admiral Dahlgren moved to press a close attack on heavily damaged Fort Sumter late at night. USS Passaic, Lieutenant-Commander Edward Simpson, in advance of the other ironclads, grounded near the fort shortly after midnight. “It took so much time to get her off,” the Admiral wired Brigadier General Gillmore, “that when I was informed of the fact that I would have had but little time to make the attack before daylight [the assault] was unavoidably postponed….” Dahlgren wrote Secretary Welles of the diffi-culties attendant upon an all-out naval offensive because of the multitude of duties his ships had to perform. He noted that one ironclad had to be stationed at Savannah and that another was repairing at Port Royal. The remaining five had to work closely in support of Army operations ashore, for the trenches can not be advanced nor even the guns kept in play, unless the ironclads keep down Wagner, and yet in doing so the power of the ironclads is abated proportionally.” This same date, Brigadier General Johnson Hagood, CSA, commanding Fort Wagner, testified to the effectiveness of the Union Navy’s gunfire support: The fire from the fleet, enfilading the land face and proving destructive, compelled us to cease firing. As soon as the vessels withdrew the sharpshooters resumed their work.”

22 Boat crew from USS Shokokon, Lieutenant Cushing, destroyed schooner Alexander Cooper in New Topsail Inlet, North Carolina. “This was,” Rear Admiral Lee wrote, a handsome affair, showing skill and gallantry.” Ten days before, Cushing had sighted the blockade runner while he was on a reconnaissance of the Inlet. “This schooner,” be said, “I determined to destroy, and as it was so well guarded I concluded to use strategy.” The evening of the 22nd, he sent two boats’ crews ashore under command of Acting Ensign Joseph S. Cony. The men landed, shouldered a dingy, and carried it across a neck of land to the inlet. Thus the assault took place from behind the Confederate works with marked success. In addition to burning Alexander Cooper, Cony destroyed extensive salt works in the vicinity and took three prisoners back to Shokokon.

USS Cayuga, Lieutenant-Commander Dana, captured schooner Wave with a cargo of cotton south-east of Corpus Christi.

23 Confederate boat expedition under Lieutenant Wood, CSN, captured USS Reliance, Acting Ensign Henry Walter, and USS Satellite, Acting Master Robinson, off Windmill Point, on the Rappa-hannock River. Wood had departed Richmond 11 days before with some 80 Confederates and 4 boats placed on wheels. These were launched on the 16th, 2 miles from the mouth of the Piankatank River and rowed into the bay. Concealing themselves by day and venturing forth by night, the Confederates sought for a week to find Union ships in an exposed position. Shortly after 1 o’clock in the morning, 23 August, Reliance and Satellite were found at anchor “so close to each other,” Wood reported, “that it was necessary to board both at the same time.” The two ships were quickly captured and taken up the Rappahannock to Urbanna. A “daring and brilliantly executed” plan, the capture of the two steamers shocked the North. Only a limited supply of coal on board the prizes and poor weather prevented Wood from following up his initial advantage more extensively. (See 25 August.)

As operations against the Charleston defenses continued, ironclads under Rear Admiral Dahlgren, including USS Weehawken, Montauk, Nahant, Passaic, and Patapsco, opened on Fort Sumter shortly: after 3 a.m. Confederate batteries at Fort Moultrie replied, and three of the monitors turned their attention to that quarter as fog set in, obscuring the view of both sides. “Finding Sumter pretty well used up,” Dahlgren wrote, “I concluded to haul off [at daybreak], for the men had been at work two days and two nights and were exhausted.” Much of the firing had been within a range of 1,000 yards. Later that morning USS New Ironsides, Captain Rowan, steamed abreast of and engaged Fort Wagner for an hour. In the exchange New Ironsides lost a dinghy which was cut away by a shot from a Confederate X-inch gun.

24 General Dabney H. Maury, CSA, reported: “The submarine boat sent to Charleston found that there was not enough water under the Ironsides for her to pass below her keel; therefore they have decided to affix a spike to the bow of the boat, to drive the spike into the Ironsides, then to back out, and by a string to explode the torpedo which was to be attached to the spike.” N. F. Hunley had originally been provided with a floating copper cylinder torpedo with flaring triggers which she could tow some 200 feet astern. The submarine would dive beneath the target ship, surface on the other side, and continue on course until the torpedo struck the ship and exploded. When the method proved unworkable, a spare torpedo containing 90 pounds of powder was affixed to the bow. A volunteer crew commanded by Lieutenant Payne, CSN, of CSS Chicora took charge of H. L. Hunley in the next few days.

25 The recently captured USS Satellite, now commanded by Lieutenant Wood, CSN, seized schooners Golden Rod, with a cargo of coal, Coquette, and Two Brothers with cargoes of anchor and chain, at the mouth of the Rappahannock River; the schooners were taken up river by their captors. “The Golden Rod,” Wood wrote, “drawing too much water to go up, was stripped and burned. The other two were towed up to Port Royal….” There they, too, were stripped of useful parts and destroyed together with ex-USS Reliance and Satellite which Wood had taken by boarding just two days earlier.

Reviewing the effect of the joint operations at Charleston, Secretary Welles noted in his diary: “The rebel accounts of things at Charleston speak of Sumter in ruins, its walls fallen in, and a threatened assault on the city. I do not expect immediate possession of the place, for it will defended with desperation, pride, courage, nullification chivalry, which is something Quixotic, with the Lady Dulcineas to stimulate the Secession heroes but matters are encouraging. Thus far, the Navy has been the cooperating force, aiding and protecting the army on Morris Island.”

USS William G. Anderson, Acting Lieutenant F. S. Hill, captured schooner Mack Canfield off the mouth of the Rio Grande River with a cargo of cotton.

26 Secretary Welles ordered USS Fort Jackson, Captain Alden, to cruise the track taken by blockade runners steaming between Bermuda and Wilmington. Information had reached Welles that two large Whitworth guns, weighing 22 tons each, had been carried to Bermuda by the blockade runner Gibraltar, formerly CSS Sumter, and he was hoping to intercept the guns at sea before the ship carrying them could even make an attempt to run the blockade.

Welles requested that Rear Admiral Dahlgren submit weekly reports and sketches of damage inflicted on the ironclads by Confederate guns at Charleston harbor. “These reports and sketches,” he wrote, “are important to the Bureau and others concerned, to enable them to under-stand correctly and provide promptly for repairing the damages; and frequently measures for improving the ironclads are suggested by them.”

Boat crew from USS Beauregard, Acting Master Francis Burgess, seized schooner Phoebe off Jupiter Inlet, Florida.

27 USS Sunflower, Acting Master Van Sice, captured schooner General Worth in the straits of Florida.

USS William G. Anderson, Acting Lieutenant F. S. Hill, captured schooner America off the coast of Texas with a cargo of cotton.

USS Preble, Acting Master William F. Shankland, was destroyed by accidental fire at Pensacola.

28 CSS Alabama, Captain Semmes, and CSS Tuscaloosa, Lieutenant Low, joined briefly in the Bay of Angra Pequena on the African coast. Semmes ordered Tuscaloosa to proceed on a cruise to the coast of Brazil.

Lieutenant George W. Gift, CSN, wrote that he had just visited CSS Tennessee and Nashville which were building above Mobile. Of Nashville, he reported: “She is of immense proportions and will be able to whip any Yankee craft afloat-when she is finished….” In an earlier letter he had written of her: “She is tremendous! Her officers’ quarters are completed. The ward-room, in which I am most interested, is six staterooms and a pantry long, and about as broad between the rooms as the whole Chattahoochee. Her engines are tremendous, and it requires all her width, fifty feet, to place her boilers. She is to have side wheels. The Tennessee is insignificant alongside her. She will mount fourteen guns.

29 Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley, Lieutenant Payne, sank in Charleston harbor for the first time. After making several practice dives in the harbor, the submarine was moored by lines fastened to steamer Etiwan at the dock at Fort Johnson. When the steamer moved away from the dock unexpectedly, H. L. Hunley was drawn onto her side. She filled with water and rapidly sank, carrying with her five gallant seamen. Payne and two others escaped. H. L. Hunley was subsequently raised and refitted, as, undaunted by the “unfortunate accident,” another crew volunteered to man her.

Secretary Mallory wrote Commander North in Glasgow, Scotland, urging the rapid completion of the ships being built for the Confederacy. “The terrible ordeal through which our country is passing and the knowledge that our ships in England, would, if present here, afford us incal-culable relief, intensifies my deep regret at their non-completion…. Mallory wrote Com-mander Bulloch this day on the same subject. Remarking on his “regret and disappointment” that the ships building in England were unfinished, the Secretary added: “Their presence at this time upon our coast would he of incalculable value, relieving, as they would be able to do, the blockade of Charleston and Wilmington…. From the beginning of the war, the Confederacy had sought full recognition from the European powers. After Vicksburg and Gettysburg, the South found assistance from Europe increasingly difficult to obtain.

Commodore H.H. Bell ordered Lieutenant-Commander Cooke to “proceed in the Estrella up the river to Donaldsonville or as far as Morganza, and report your presence to Commander Robert Townsend, of the US ironclad Essex, for assisting in patrolling the river as far as Morganza against the operations of guerrillas.” The need for gunboats to patrol the Mississippi to guard transports and merchantmen against surprise raids never ended.

30 A detachment of the Marine Brigade, assigned to Rear Admiral Porter’s Mississippi Squadron, captured three Confederate paymasters at Bolivar, Mississippi. The paymasters, escorted by 35 troops who were also taken prisoner, were carrying $2,200,000 in Confederate currency to pay their soldiers at Little Rock. “This,” Porter commented, “will not improve the dissatisfaction now existing in Price’s army, and the next news we hear will be that General Steele has posses-sion of Little Rock.”

Captain Samuel Barron, CSN, was ordered to England, “by the first suitable conveyance from Wilmington or Charleston.” Secretary Mallory hoped that the ships being constructed there under the direction of Commander Bulloch would be completed by the time that Barron arrived, and that he could proceed to sea at once. Such was not to be, however, and 18 months later Barron resigned his Navy commission while he was still overseas.

CSS Georgia, Lieutenant W. L. Maury, captured and bonded ship John Watts with a cargo of teakwood in the mid-South Atlantic.

Confederate transport steamer Sumter was sunk by batteries on Sullivan’s Island, Charleston har-bor, when Southern artillerists on the island mistook her for a Union monitor in the fog and heavy weather.

31 USS Gem of the Sea, Acting Lieutenant Baxter, captured sloop Richard in peace Creek, Florida, with a cargo of cotton.

 

SEPTEMBER 1863

1 Rear Admiral Lee issued the following instructions to the officers of his North Atlantic Block-ading Squadron: “Blockaders must not waste fuel by unnecessary moving about in the day-time…. The blockaders must not lie huddled together by day or night, and especially in thick weather; there must he specified day anchorages and night positions…. Vessels should weigh anchor before sunset and be in their night positions by dark, as when the draft of vessels or stage of the tide permits, escapes are made out at or near to evening twilight, without showing black smoke, and inward in the morning at daylight. The distance to be kept from the bar, the batteries, and the beach must be regulated by the state of the weather and atmosphere and the light. When vessels anchor at night, they must he underway one hour before dawn of day, so as not to expose their position, and to he ready to chase.

Major-General Whiting, CSA, issued regulations for blockade runners at the port of Wilmington. The specific instructions were intended to prevent Union spies from having ready access to the best remaining haven for blockade runners.

Commander Catesby ap R. Jones, commanding the Confederate naval gun foundry and ordnance works at Selma, Alabama, ordered a small quantity of munitions to Admiral Franklin Buchanan for the defense of Mobile. Munitions were in increasingly short supply, and the bulk of those available were being ordered to Charleston.

1-2 Dahlgren, flying his flag in USS Weehawken, took the ironclads against Fort Sumter late at night following an intensive, day-long bombardment by Army artillery. Moving to within 500 yards of the Fort, the ships cannonaded it for 5 hours, “demolishing,” as Brigadier General Ripley, CSA, reported, “nearly the whole of the eastern scarp….” Confederates returned a heavy fire from Fort Moultrie, scoring over 70 hits on the ironclads. One shot struck Weehawken’s turret, driving a piece of iron into the leg of Captain Oscar C. Badger, severely wounding him. Noting that he was the third Flag Captain he had lost in 2 months, Dahlgren wrote: “I shall feel greatly the loss of Captain Badger’s services at this time.” The Admiral broke off the attack as the flood tide set in, “which,” Dahlgren said, had he remained, “would have exposed the monitors unnecessarily.

2-3 Boat expedition under Acting Ensign William H. Winslow and Acting Master’s Mate Charles A. Edgcomb from USS Gem of the Sea, Acting Lieutenant Baxter, reconnoitered Peace Creek, Florida. The expedition was set in motion by Baxter because of “reliable information that there was a band of guerrillas, or regulators, as they style themselves, organizing in the vicinity of Peace Creek, with the intention of coming down this harbor [Charlotte Harbor] for the purpose of capturing the refugees on the islands in this vicinity and also the sloop Rosalie…. “The Union force destroyed buildings used as a depot for blockade runners and a rendezvous for guerrillas as well as four small boats. Baxter reported: “I think this expedition will have a tendency to break up the blockade running and stop the regulators from coming down here to molest the refugees in this vicinity.”

4 Commodore H. H. Bell, commanding the West Gulf Blockading Squadron in the absence of Farragut, notified Welles of a joint amphibious expedition to he mounted at New Orleans aimed at the capture of Sabine Pass, Texas. “…. Major-General Banks,” he wrote, “having organized a force of 4,000 men under Major-General [William B.] Franklin to effect a landing at Sabine Pass for military occupation, and requested the cooperation of the navy, which I most gladly acceded to, I assigned the command of the naval force to Acting Volunteer Lieutenant Frederick Crocker, commanding USS Clifton, accompanied by the steamer Sachem, Acting Volunteer Lieutenant Amos Johnson; USS Arizona, Acting Master Howard Tibbits; and USS Granite City Acting Master C. W. Lamson. These being the only available vessels of sufficiently light draft at my disposal for that service…. It was concerted that the squadron of four gunboats…. shall make the attack alone, assisted by’ about 180 sharpshooters from the army; and having driven the enemy from his defenses, and destroyed or driven off the rams the transports are then to advance and land their troops. All possible secrecy was to be observed in carrying out the joint operation, which was planned as the first step in preventing any possible moves by the French troops in Mexico to cross the Rio Grande River. Sabine Pass in Union hands could serve as a base for operations into the interior of Texas.

Major-General Jeremy F. Gilmer wrote Secretary Mallory, seeking assistance in holding Morris Island ” to the last extremity.” He requested ” the service of as many sailors as you can possibly give us from Richmond, Wilmington, Savannah, and other points not less that [sic] 200 to be employed as oarsmen to convey troops and materiel to and from that island.” For some time Confederate sailors had been performing this vital mission, for, as the siege and intensive bom-bardment progressed, it had become necessary to relieve the embattled soldiers at Fort Wagner every 3 days. As Union batteries found the range of Cumming’s Point, where the Southern transport steamers were landing troops and supplies, most of these movements then had to be carried on by rowboats crossing Vincent’s Creek. This was hazardous, for armed small boats from the blockading ships closely patrolled the area throughout the night. Nonetheless, Confederate sailors worked tirelessly to support the Army garrison on Morris Island until Fort Wagner was finally evacuated.

Small boats manned by Union sailors under Lieutenant Francis J. Higginson transported troops in an attempted night assault on Fort Gregg at Cumming’s Point, Morris Island. “The object,” Brigadier General Gillmore reported, “was to spike the guns and blow up the magazine.” At the mouth of Vincent’s Creek a boat carrying a wounded Confederate soldier was captured, but the shots fired alerted the defenders at Fort Gregg and the secret attack was called off. A similar attempt the next night found the Southerners ready and no further attempts were made. Gillmore reported that Lieutenant Higginson “has rendered good service. Major [Oliver S.] Sanford…. speaks highly of his presence of mind and personal bravery, as well as his efficiency as a commander. I give this testimonial unasked because it is deserved.”
6 Having been under constant bombardment from land and sea for nearly 60 days, Confederate forces secretly evacuated Morris Island by boat at night. Two days before, Colonel Lawrence M. Keitt, commanding Fort Wagner, had reported the “rapid and fatal” effects of the shore bombardment combined with the accurate firing from USS New Ironsides, Captain Rowan. One hundred of his 900 defenders had been killed in the bombardment of 5 September. “Is it desirable to sacrifice the garrison?” he asked. “To continue to hold it [Fort Wagner] is [to] do so.” The next day, 6 September, General Beauregard wrote that Forts Wagner and Gregg had undergone a “terrible bombardment” for some 36 hours. Describing Wagner as much damaged; repairs impossible,” the commander of the Charleston defenses added: “Casualties [the last 2 days] over 150; garrison much exhausted: nearly all guns disabled. Communications with city extremely difficult and dangerous; Sumter being silenced. Evacuation of Morris Island becomes indispensable to save garrison…. That night Confederate transports assembled between Fort Johnson, on James Island, and Fort Sumter under protection of ironclad CSS Charleston, and barges manned by seamen from CSS Chicora and Palmetto State effected the evacuation. Not until the last group of Confederate soldiers was being evacuated did the Union commanders become aware of what was taking place. “Then,” Brigadier General Ripley reported, “his guard boats discovered the movement of our boats engaged in the embarkation, and, creeping up upon the rear, succeeded in cutting off and capturing three barges containing Lieutenant Hasker [CSN] and boat’s crew of the Chicora, and soldiers of the Army’.” The Richmond Sentinel of 7 September summarized: “The enemy now holds Cumming’s Point, in full view of the city.”

Landing party from USS Argosy, Acting Ensign John C. Morong, seized Confederate ordnance supplies and 1,200 pounds of tobacco at Bruinsburg, Mississippi.

6-7 Army transports and naval warships of the joint amphibious expedition arrived at Sabine Pass and anchored off the bar. Union plans called for the seizure of Sabine Pass as a base for strategic operations against western Louisiana and eastern and central Texas. Through a series of mishaps, as Major-General Franklin reported, “the attack, which was intended to be a surprise, became an open one, the enemy having had two nights’ warning that a fleet was off the harbor, and during Monday [7 September] a full view of most of the vessels comprising it….”

7-8 Following the evacuation of Morris Island, Rear Admiral Dahlgren demanded the surrender of Fort Sumter on the 7th; the fort had been so hammered by sea and shore bombardment that one observer noted that its appearance “from seaward was rather that of a steep, sandy island than that of a fort.” “I replied,” General Beauregard wrote, “to take it if he could.” Preparatory to renewing the assault, Dahlgren ordered USS Weehawken, Commander Colhoun, between Cum-ming’s Point, Morris Island, and Fort Sumter. Weehawken grounded in the narrow channel and could not be gotten off until the next day. That evening USS New Ironsides, Nahant, Lehigh, Montauk, and Patapsco reconnoitered the obstructions at Fort Sumter and heavily engaged Fort Moultrie. “I drew off,” Dahlgren recorded in his diary, “to give attention to Weehawken.” Be-ginning the morning of 8 September the grounded ironclad was subjected to heavy fire from Fort Moultrie and Sullivan’s and James Islands. Weehawken gallantly replied from her helpless position as other Union ironclads closed to assist. “Well done Weehawken,” Dahlgren wired Colhoun, praising his effective counter-fire; “don’t give up the ship.” USS New Ironsides, Captain Rowan, positioned herself between Weehawken and the Fort Moultrie batteries, drawing off Confederate fire. Struck over 50 times, New Ironsides finally withdrew “for want of ammunition”; Weehawken was finally floated with the aid of tugs.

8 The joint Army-Navy attack on Sabine Pass opened as USS Clifton, Acting Lieutenant Crocker, crossed the bar and unsuccessfully attempted to draw the fire of the fort and cotton-clad steamer CSS Uncle Ben. Clifton was followed across the bar by USS Sachem, Arizona, Granite City, and Army transports. Sachem and Arizona advanced up the Louisiana (right) channel and Clifton and Granite City moved up the Texas (left) channel; they opened on the Confederate batteries preparatory to landing the troops. The Confederate gunners withheld fire until the gunboats were within close range and then countered with a devastating cannonade. A shot through the boiler totally disabled Sachem, another shot away the wheel rope of Clifton and she grounded under the Confederate guns. Crocker fought his ship until, with 10 men killed and nine others wounded, he deemed it his duty “to stop the slaughter by showing the white flag, which was done, and we fell into the hands of the enemy.” Sachem, after flooding her magazine, also surrendered and was taken under tow by CSS Uncle Ben.

With the loss of Clifton’s and Sachem’s firepower, the two remaining gunboats and troop transports recrossed the bar and departed for New Orleans. The Sabine Pass expedition had, in the words of Commodore H. H. Bell, “totally failed.” Nevertheless, Major-General Banks reported: “In all respects the cooperation of the naval authorities has been hearty and efficient. Fully comprehending the purposes of the Government, they entered upon the expedition with great spirit. Commodore Bell gave all the assistance in his power, and Captain Crocker, of the Clifton, now a prisoner, deserves especial mention for his conspicuous gallantry.” In a vote of thanks to the small defending garrison for the victory which prevented “the invasion of Texas,” the Confederate Congress called the action “one of the most brilliant and heroic achievements in the history of this war.”

8-9 Rear Admiral Dahlgren mounted a boat attack on Fort Sumter late at night. Commander Stevens led the assault comprising more than thirty boats and some 400 sailors and Marines. The Confederates, appraised in advance of the Union’s intentions because they had recovered a key to the Northern signal code from the wreck of USS Keokuk, waited until the boats were nearly ashore before opening a heavy fire and using hand grenades. CSS Chicora contributed a sweep-ing, enfilading fire. Dahlgren noted that “Moultrie fired like the devil, the shells breaking around us and screaming in chorus.” The attack was repulsed, and more than 100 men were captured. For the next several weeks, a period of relative quiet at Charleston prevailed.

10 As Little Rock, Arkansas, was falling to Major-General Frederick Steele, USS Hastings, Lieu-tenant Commander S.L. Phelps, arrived at Devall’s Bluff on the White River to support the land action. Though the river was falling rapidly, Phelps advised the General: “I shall be glad to be of service to you in every way possible.” Phelps added that he would have gone over to Little Rock to congratulate Steele if he “could have obtained conveyance…. Horseback riding,” he wrote dryly, “for such a distance is rather too much for the uninitiated.” A week later Phelps reported to Rear Admiral Porter: “I have been up this river 150 miles, where we found a bar over which we could not pass. Numerous bodies of men cut off from General Price’s army [after the fall of Little Rock to Steele] were fleeing across White River to the eastward. We captured 3 rebel soldiers, 2 cavalry horses and equipments, and brought down a number of escaped conscripts, who have come to enlist in our army.” This type of naval operation far into the Confederate interior continued to facilitate shore operations.

11 USS Seminole, Commander Henry Rolando, seized blockade running British steamer William Peel off the Rio Grande River with large a cargo of cotton.

12 USS Eugenie, Acting Master’s Mate F. H. Dyer, captured steamer Alabama off Chandeleur Islands, Louisiana.

Blockade running steamer Fox was destroyed by her own crew to prevent capture at Pascagoula, Mississippi, by USS Genesee, Commander William H. Macomb.

13 USS Cimarron, Commander Hughes, seized British blockade runner Jupiter in Wassaw Sound, Georgia. The steamer was aground when captured and her crew had attempted to scuttle her.

Some 20 crew members from USS Rattler, Acting Master Walter E. H. Fentress, were captured by Confederate cavalry while attending church services at Rodney, Mississippi.

USS De Soto, Captain W.M. Walker, captured steamer Montgomery in the Gulf of Mexico south of Pensacola.

16 USS San Jacinto, Lieutenant-Commander Ralph Chandler, captured blockade running steamer Lizzie Davis off the west coast of Florida. She had been bound from Havana to Mobile with a cargo including lead.

USS Coeur De Lion, Acting Master W. G. Morris, seized schooner Robert Knowles in the Potomac River for violating the blockade.

17 Reports of Confederate vessels building in the rivers of North Carolina were a source of grave concern to the Union authorities. Secretary Welles wrote Secretary of War Stanton suggesting an attack to insure the destruction of an ironclad– which would be CSS Albemarle and a floating battery, reported nearing completion up the Roanoke River. Should they succeed in getting down the river, Welles cautioned, “our possession of the sounds would be jeoparded [sic].”

USS Adolph Hugel, Acting Master Frank, seized sloop Music off Alexandria, Virginia, for a violation of the blockade
19 Small boat expedition under command of Acting Masters John Y. Beall and Edward McGuire, CSN, captured schooner Alliance with a cargo of sutlers’ stores in Chesapeake Bay. The daring raid was continued 2 days later when schooner J.J. Houseman was seized. On the night of the 22nd, the force took two more schooners, Samuel Pearsall and Alexandria. All but Alliance were cast adrift at Wachapreague Inlet. Beall attempted to run the blockade in Alliance but she grounded at Milford Haven and was burned on the morning of 23 September, after USS Thomas Freeborn, Acting Master Arthur, opened fire on her. Beall escaped and returned to Richmond. A joint Army-Navy effort was mounted to stop these raids, but Beall and his men destroyed several lighthouses on Maryland’s Eastern Shore prior to being captured on 15 November 1863.

Horace L. Hunley wrote General Beauregard requesting that command of the submarine hearing his name be turned over to him. “I propose,” Hunley said, ‘if you will place the boat in my hands to furnish a crew (in whole or in part) from Mobile who are well acquainted with its management & make the attempt to destroy a vessel of the enemy as early as practicable.” Three days later, Brigadier General Jordan, Beauregard’s Chief of Staff, directed that the submarine be “cleaned and turned over to him with the understanding that said Boat shall be ready for service in two weeks.” Under Hunley’s direction, a crew was brought to Charleston from Mobile, the H. F. Hunley was readied, and a number of practice dives carried out preparatory to making an actual attack.

Coal schooner Manhasset was driven ashore in a gale at Sabine Pass. The wreck was subsequently seized by Confederate troops.

20 The general report submitted this date by Lieutenant-Commander J.P. Foster, commanding the second district of the Mississippi Squadron, to Rear Admiral Porter illustrated the restrictive effect gunboat patrols had on Confederate operations along the Mississippi. Foster had taken command of the Donaldsonville, Louisiana to the mouth of the Red River section of the Missis-sippi in mid-August. From Bayou Sara he wrote: “Since taking command of the Lafayette I have made a tour of my district and find everything quiet below Bayou Sara and very little excitement between this place and Red River, no vessels having been fired into since the rebels were shelled by the Champion [30 August]. The disposition of this ship, Neosho, and Signal, I think, has had a beneficial influence upon the rebels, insomuch as they have not shown themselves upon the river banks since I have been down here.”

22 Acting Master David Nichols and a crew of 19 Confederate seamen captured Army tug Leviathan before dawn at South West pass, Mississippi River, but were taken prisoner later that morning when USS De Soto, Captain W. M. Walker, recaptured the prize in the Gulf of Mexico some 40 miles off shore. Nichols and his men had departed Mobile 2 or 3 days before in the small cutter Teaser. Reaching South West Pass, they pulled the cutter into the marshes and made their way on foot to the coal wharf where Leviathan lay. They seized the tug, described by Captain Walker as a new and very fast screw steamer, amply supplied with coal and provisions for a cruise,” and put to sea at once. Shortly thereafter, Commodore Bell ordered Navy ships in pursuit. At midmorning, USS De Soto fired three shots at the tug and brought her to.

Flag Officer Tucker assigned Lieutenant William T. Glassell, CSN, to command CSS David, “with a view of destroying as many of the enemy’s vessels as possible Glassell, who had arrived in Charleston on 8 September from Wilmington on “special service,” would take the torpedo boat against USS New Ironsides 2 weeks later.

Expedition under Acting Master George W. Ewer from USS Seneca destroyed the Hudson Place Salt Works near Darien, Georgia. Ewer reported that the works, producing some 10 or 15 bushels of salt a day, were now “completely useless.”

USS. Connecticut, Commander Almy, seized blockade running British steamer Juno off Wilmington with a cargo of cotton and tobacco.

25 Epidemic sickness was one of the persistent hazards of extended blockade duty in warm climate. This date, to illustrate, Commodore H. H. Bell reported to Secretary Welles from New Orleans: “I regret to inform the Department that a pernicious fever has appeared on board the United States steamers repairing at this port from which some deaths have ensued. Some of the cases have been well-defined yellow fever, and others are recognized here by the names of pernicious and congestive fever.”

USS Tioga, Commander Clary, captured steamer Herald near the Bahamas with a cargo of cotton, turpentine, and pitch.

27 USS Clyde, Acting Master A. A. Owens, seized schooner Amaranth near the Florida Keys with a cargo including cigars and sugar.

28 Secretary Welles noted in his diary that the chances of European intervention in the war on behalf of the Confederacy were dimming. He wrote: “The last arrivals indicate a better tone and temper in England, and I think in France also. From the articles in their papers…. I think our monitors and heavy ordnance have had a peaceful tendency, a tranquilizing effect. The guns of the Weehawken have knocked the breath out of the British statesmen as well as the crew of the Atlanta [see 17 June 1863].”

29 USS Lafayette, Lieutenant-Commander J.P. Foster, and USS Kenwood, Acting Master John Swaney, arrived at Morganza, Louisiana, on Bayou Fordoche to support troops under Major-General Napoleon J. T. Dana. More than 400 Union troops had been captured in an engagement with Confederates under Brigadier General Thomas Green. Foster noted, “the arrival of the gunboats was hailed…. with perfect delight.” Next day, the presence of the ships, he added, “no doubt deterred [the Confederates] from attacking General Dana in his position at Morganza as they had about four brigades to do it with, while our forces did not amount to more than 1,500.” Foster ordered gunboats to cover the Army and prevent a renewal of the action.

USS St. Louis, Commander George H. Preble, returned to Lisbon, Portugal, after an unsuccess-ful cruise of almost a hundred days in search of Confederate commerce raiders. Preble reported significantly to Secretary Welles that although the St. Louis had “repeatedly crossed and recrossed the sea routes (to and from) between the United States and the Mediterranean and Europe, we have in all this cruise met with but one American merchant vessel at sea. This fact, on a sea poetically supposed to be whitened by our commerce, illustrates the difficulties attendant upon a search after the two or three rebel cruisers afloat.” In addition, the scarcity of American flag merchant sail testified to the effectiveness of the few Southern raiders.

30 USS Rosalie, Acting Master Peter F. Coffin, seized British schooner Director attempting to run the blockade at Sanibel River, Florida, with a cargo of salt and rum.

OCTOBER 1863
2 USS Bermuda, Acting Master J.W. Smith, seized blockade running British schooner Florrie near Matagorda, Texas, with a cargo including medicine, wine, and saddles.

5 CSS David, Lieutenant Glassell, exploded a torpedo against USS New Ironsides, Captain Rowan, in Charleston harbor but did not destroy the heavy warship. Mounting a torpedo containing some 60 pounds of powder on a 10-foot spar fixed to her bow, the 50-foot David stood out from Charleston early in the evening. Riding low in the water, the torpedo boat made her way down the main ship channel and was close aboard her quarry before being sighted and hailed. Almost at once a volley of small arms fire was centered on her as she steamed at full speed at New Ironsides, plunging the torpedo against the Union ship’s starboard quarter and “shaking the vessel and throwing up an immense column of water As the water fell, it put out the fires in David’s boilers and nearly swamped her; the torpedo boat came to rest alongside New Ironsides. Believing the torpedo boat doomed, Lieutenant Glassell and Seaman James Sullivan abandoned ship and were subsequently picked up by the blockading fleet. However, Engineer Tomb at length succeeded in relighting David’s fires and, with pilot Walker Cannon, who had remained on board because he could not swim, took her back to Charleston. Though David did not succeed in sinking New Ironsides, the explosion was a “severe blow” which eventually forced the Union ship to leave the blockade for repairs. “It seems to me,” Rear Admiral Dahlgren wrote, noting the tactical implications of the attack, “that nothing could have been more successful as a first effort, and it will place the torpedo among certain offensive means.” Writing of the attack’s “unsurpassed daring,” Secretary Mallory noted: “The annals of naval warfare record few enterprises which exhibit more strikingly than this of Lieutenant Glassell the highest qualities of a sea officer.”

The near success of David’s torpedo attack on New Ironsides prompted Dahlgren to emphasize further the need for developing defensive measures against them. “How far the enemy may seem encouraged,” he wrote Welles, “I do not know, but I think it will be well to be prepared against a considerable issue of these small craft. It is certainly the best form of the torpedo which has come to my notice, and a large quantity of powder may as well be exploded as 60 pounds….The vessels themselves should be protected by outriggers, and the harbor itself well strewn with a similar class of craft…. The subject merits serious attention, for it will receive a greater development.” He added to Assistant Secretary Fox: “By all means let us have a quantity of these torpedoes, and thus turn them against the enemy. We,” Dahlgren said, paying tribute to the industrial strength that weighed so heavily in the Union’s favor, “can make them faster than they can.

British blockade runner Concordia was destroyed by her crew at Calcasieu Pass, Louisiana, to prevent her capture by boats from USS Granite City, Acting Master Lamson.

6 USS Beauregard, Acting Master Burgess, captured sloop Last Trial at Key West with a cargo of salt. USS Virginia, Lieutenant C. H. Brown, seized British blockade runner Jenny off the coast of Texas with a cargo of cotton.

7 An expedition under Acting Chief Engineer Thomas Doughty from USS Osage captured and burned steamers Robert Fulton and Argus in the Red River. Acting Lieutenant Couthouy, com-manding Osage, had ordered the operation upon learning that a Confederate steamer was tied up to the river bank. The naval force travelled overland from the Mississippi to the Red “after great labor in getting through entanglements of the bushes and other undergrowth….” Doughty succeeded in capturing Argus shortly before Robert Fulton was sighted steaming downriver. He ordered her to come to. “She did so,” he reported, “and I found myself in possession of 9 prisoners and two steamboats.” Doughty burned Argus immediately and then destroyed Robert Fulton when he was unable to get her over the bar at the mouth of the Red River. “This is a great loss to the rebels at this moment,” Rear Admiral Porter wrote, “as it cuts off their means of operating across that part of Atchafalaya where they lately came over to attack Morganza. This capture will deter others from coming down the Red River.”

Boat crew from USS Cayuga, Lieutenant-Commander Dana, boarded and destroyed blockade runner Pushmataha which had been chased ashore and abandoned off Calcasieu River, Louisiana. Pushmataha carried a cargo of a ram, claret, and gunpowder, and had been set on fire by her crew. “One of a number of kegs of powder had been opened,” reported Dana, “and a match, which was inserted in the hole, was on fire; this was taken out and, with the keg, thrown overboard by Thomas Morton, ordinary seaman” an unsung act of heroism. Dana chased ashore another schooner carrying gunpowder which was blown up before she could be boarded.

9 Secretary Welles commended Rear Admiral Dahlgren on the work of the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron off Charleston the preceding month and cited Brigadier General Gillmore’s “brilliant operations” on Morris Island. Noting that, though the first step in the capture of Charleston was taken, the remainder would be full of risk, he added: “While there is intense feeling per-vading the country in regard to the fate of Charleston…. the public impatience must not be permitted to hasten your own movements into immature and inconsiderate action against your own deliberate convictions nor impel you to hazards that may jeopardize the best interest of the country without adequate results….”

CSS Georgia, Lieutenant W. L. Maury, captured and burned ship Bold Hunter off the coast of French West Africa. She had been bound for Calcutta with a cargo of coal.

10 Secretary Welles transmitted to Rear Admiral Porter a War Department request for gunboat assistance for the operations of Major-General W. T. Sherman on the Tennessee River. Porter replied that the shallowness of the water prevented his immediate action but promised: “The gunboats will be ready to go up the moment a rise takes place…. ” Ten days later, General Grant urged: “The sooner a gunboat can be got to him [Sherman] the better.” Porter answered that gunboats were on their way up the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers. “My intention,” he wrote, “is to send every gunboat I can spare up the Tennessee. I have also sent below for light-drafts to come up. Am sorry to say the river is at a stand.” By the 24th two gunboats were at Eastport to join Sherman’s operations.

USS Samuel Rotan, Acting Lieutenant Kennison seized a large yawl off Horn Harbor, Virginia, with a cargo including salt.

11 USS Nansemond, Lieutenant Roswell H. Lamson, chased ashore and destroyed at night steamer Douro near New Inlet, North Carolina. She had a cargo of cotton, tobacco, turpentine, and rosin. Douro had been captured previously on 9 March 1863 by USS Quaker City, but after being con-demned she was sold and turned up again as a blockade runner. Noting this, Commander Almy, senior officer at New Inlet, wrote: “She now lies a perfect wreck…. and past ever being bought and sold again.” Rear Admiral S.P. Lee informed Assistant Secretary Fox: “The Nansemond has done well off Wilmington. She discovered followed & destroyed the Douro at night, the first instance of the kind, I believe.”

USS Union, Acting Lieutenant Conroy, seized steamer Spaulding at sea east of St. Andrew’s Sound, Georgia. She had run the blockade out of Charleston the previous month with a cargo of cotton and was attempting to return from Nassau, “which,” Conroy wrote, we have spoiled…. ”

USS Madgie, Acting Master Polleys, in tow of USS Fahkee, Acting Ensign Francis R. Webb, sank in rough seas off Frying Pan Shoals, North Carolina.

12 USS Kanawha, Lieutenant-Commander Mayo, and USS Eugenie, Lieutenant Henry W. Miller, attempted to destroy a steamer aground under the guns of Fort Morgan in Mobile Bay and were taken under fire by the fort. Kanawha was damaged during the engagement.

13 USS Victoria, Acting Lieutenant John MacDiarmid, seized a sloop (no name reported) west of Little River, North Carolina, with a cargo of salt and soap.

Guard boat from USS Braziliera, Acting Master William T. Gillespie, captured schooner Mary near St. Simon’s, Georgia.

13-14 USS Queen City, Acting Lieutenant G. W. Brown, with troops embarked, departed Helena, Arkansas, for Friar’s Point, Mississippi, where the soldiers landed and surrounded the town. The morning of the 14th, the warehouses were searched and more than 200 hales of cotton and several prisoners were seized.

15 Confederate submarine H. F. Hunley, under the command of the part owner for whom she was named, sank in Charleston harbor while making practice dives under Confederate receiving ship Indian Chief. A report of the “unfortunate accident” stated : The boat left the wharf at 9:25 a.m. and disappeared at 9:35. As soon as she sunk, air bubbles were seen to rise to the surface of the water, and from this fact it is supposed the hole in the top of the boat by which the men entered was not properly closed. It was impossible at the time to make any effort to rescue the unfortunate men, as the water was some 9 fathoms deep.” Thus the imaginative and daring Horace L. Hunley and his gallant seven man crew perished. The submarine had claimed the lives of its second crew. When the submarine was raised for a second time, a third crew volunteered to man her. Her new captain was Lieutenant George Dixon, CSA. Under Dixon and Lieutenant William A. Alexander, H.L. Hunley was reconditioned, but, as a safety precaution, General Beauregard directed that she not dive again. She was fitted with a spar torpedo. Time and again in the next 4 months the submarine ventured into the harbor at night from her base on Sullivan’s Island, but until mid-February 1864 her attempts to sink a blockader were to no avail. The fact that the Union’s ships frequently remained on station some 6 or 7 miles away and put out picket boats at night; the condition of tide, wind, and sea; and the physical exhaustion of the submarine crew who sometimes found themselves in grave danger of being swept out to sea in the underpowered craft were restricting factors with which Lieutenant Dixon and H. L. Hunley had to cope.

USS Honduras, Acting Master Abraham N. Gould, seized British steamer Mail near St. Petersburg, Florida. She had been bound from Bayport to Havana with a cargo of cotton and turpentine. The capture was made after a 3 hour chase in which USS Two Sisters, Sea Bird, and Fox also participated.

USS Commodore, Acting Master John R. Hamilton, and USS Corypheus, Acting Master Francis H. Grove, destroyed a Confederate tannery at Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. Grove wrote that they had “completely destroyed the buildings, vats, and mill for grinding bark; also a large amount of hides stored there, said to be worth $20,000.”

16 Mr. Jules David wrote from Victoria, Vancouver Island, “as president of a Southern association existing in this and the adjoining colony of British Columbia,” requesting Confederate Secretary of State Benjamin to assist him in obtaining for his organization “a letter of marque to be used on the Pacific.” Mr. David added that much could be done on that coast “to harass and injure our enemies,” and stated that the group he represented had “a first-class steamer of 400 tons, strongly built, and of an average speed of 14 miles.” Southern sympathizers like Mt. David hoped to strike a blow for the Confederacy by raiding Union commerce.

Commodore H. H. Bell reported that USS Tennessee, Acting Lieutenant Wiggin, had seized blockade running British schooner Friendship off Rio Brazos, Texas, with a cargo of munitions from Havana, and caused schooner Jane to be destroyed by her own crew to prevent capture.

16-17 Upon learning that blockade runners Scottish Chief and Kate Dale were being loaded with cotton and nearly ready to sail from Hillsboro River, Florida, Rear Admiral Bailey sent USS Tahoma, Lieutenant-Commander A. A. Semmes, and USS Adela, Acting Lieutenant Louis N. Stodder, to seize them. “It was planned between myself and Captain Semmes,” Bailey reported, “that he should, with the Tahoma, assisted by the Adela, divert attention from the real object of the expedi-tion by shelling the fort and town [Tampa], and that under cover of night men should be landed at a point on old Tampa Bay, distant from the fort to proceed overland to the point on the Hills-boro River where the blockade runners lay, there to destroy them.” This plan was put into effect and some 100 men from the two ships marched 14 miles overland. At daylight, 17 October, as the landing party boarded the blockade runners, two crew members made good their escape and alerted the garrison. Nevertheless, the Union sailors destroyed Scottish Chief and Kate Dale. A running battle ensued as they attempted to get back to their ships. Bailey reported 5 members of the landing party killed, 10 wounded, and 5 taken prisoner. Lieutenant-Commander Semmes noted: “I regret sincerely our loss, yet I feel a great degree of satisfaction in having impressed the rebels with the idea that blockade-running vessels are not safe, even up the Hills-boro River.

17 Boat crews from USS T.A. Ward, Acting Master William L. Babcock, destroyed schooner Rover at Murrell’s Inlet, South Carolina. The schooner was laden with cotton and ready to run the blockade. Three days later, a landing party from T.A. Ward went ashore under command of Acting Ensign Myron W. Tillson to reconnoiter the area and obtain water. They were surprised by Confederate cavalry and 10 of the men were captured.

Lieutenant-Commander William Gibson, USS Seneca, reported to Rear Admiral Dahlgren that the blockaded steamer Herald had escaped the previous night from Darien, Georgia and recom-mended that the ships of the blockading squadron there be “properly armed.” Gibson noted: “One gunboat in this sound can not guard all the estuaries and creeks formed by the flowing of the Altamaha to the sea, especially since the port of Charleston has been effectually closed and the enemy seeks other channels of unlawful commerce.”

18 Rear Admiral Dahlgren, writing Secretary Welles that the role of the Navy in the capture of Morris Island was “neither known nor appreciated by the public at large,” noted that in the 2-month bombardment of the Confederates the ironclads of his squadron had fired more than 8,000 shot and shells and received nearly 900 hits. The Admiral added: “By the presence and action of the vessels the right flank of our army and its supplies were entirely covered; provisions, arms, cannon, ammunition…. were landed as freely as if an enemy were not in sight, while by the same means the enemy was restricted to the least space and action. Indeed, it was only by night, and in the line from Sumter, that food, powder, or relief could be introduced, and that very sparingly. The works of the enemy were also flanked by our guns so that he was confined to his works and his fire quelled whenever it became too serious….
The sunken Confederate submarine, H. L. Hunley, was found in 9 fathoms of water by a diver in Charleston harbor. Efforts were begun at once to recover the little craft, deemed vital to the defenses of Charleston.

20 Commander Bulloch advised Secretary Mallory from Liverpool that the ironclads known as 294 and 295, being built in England, had been seized by the British Government. Bulloch felt the action stemmed from the fact that “a large number of Confederate naval officers have during the past three months arrived in England. The Florida came off the Irish coast some six weeks since, and proceeding to Brest, there discharged the greater portion of her crew, who were sent to Liverpool. These circumstances were eagerly seized upon by the United States representative here, and they have so worked upon Lord Russell as to make him believe that the presence of these officers and men has direct reference to the destination of the rams…. ”

USS Annie, Acting Ensign Williams, seized blockade running British schooner Martha Jane off Bayport, Florida, bound to Havana with a cargo of some 26,600 pounds of sea island cotton.

21 USS Nansemond, Lieutenant R. H. Lamson, chased blockade running steamer Venus ashore near Cape Fear River, North Carolina. Four shots from the blockader caused the steamer to take on water.. Lamson attempted to get Venus off in the morning but found it “impossible to move her, [and] I ordered her to be set on fire.” A notebook found on board Venus recorded that 75 ships had been engaged in blockade running thus far in 1863, of which 32 had been captured or destroyed.

USS Currituck, Acting Lieutenant Hooker, and USS Fuchsia, Acting Master Street, captured steamer Three Brothers in the Rappahannock River, Virginia.

USS J.P. Jackson, Lieutenant Lewis W. Pennington, captured schooner Syrena near Deer Island, Mississippi.

22 Union steamer Mist was boarded and burned at Ship Island, Mississippi, by Confederate guerrillas when she attempted to take on a cargo of cotton without the protection of a Union gunboat. A week later Rear Admiral Porter wisely wrote Major-General W. T. Sherman: “Steamers should not be allowed to land anywhere but at a military port, or a place guarded by a gunboat.

23 USS Norfolk Packet, Acting Ensign George N. Wood, captured schooner Ocean Bird off St. Augustine Inlet, Florida.

24 USS Hastings, Lieutenant-Commander S.L. Phelps, and USS Key West, Acting Master Edward M. King, arrived at Eastport, Mississippi, to support Army operations along the Tennessee River. Low water had delayed the movement earlier in the month and would prevent full operations for some time, but Major-General W.T. Sherman was “gratified” with the gunboats’ arrival. The joint operations extended into mid-December as the Union moved to solidify its position in the South’s interior. Sherman wrote Rear Admiral Porter of Phelps’ arrival: “Of course we will get along together elegantly. All I have he can command, and I know the same feeling pervades every sailor’s and soldier’s heart. We are as one.

USS Calypso, Acting Master Frederick D. Stuart, captured blockade running British schooner Herald off Frying Pan Shoals, North Carolina, with a cargo of salt and soda.

USS Conestoga, Acting Master Gilbert Morton, seized steamer Lillie Martin and tug Sweden, suspected of trading with the Confederates, near Napoleon, Mississippi.

25 USS Kittatinny, Acting Master Isaac D. Seyburn, captured schooner Reserve, off Pass Cavallo, Texas.

26 Union ironclads began an intensive two week bombardment of Fort Sumter. At month’s end, General Beauregard wrote of the “terrible bombardment” and noted that the land batteries and ships had hammered the fort with nearly 1,000 shots in 12 hours. Within a week of the bombardment’s opening, Commander Stevens, USS Patapsco, called the effect of the tiring hardly describable, throwing bricks and mortar, gun carriages and timber in every direction and high into the air.” But, as Rear Admiral Dahlgren noted: ‘There is an immense endurance in such a mass of masonry, and the ruins may serve as shelter to many men.” The embattled defenders heroically held on.

27 Colonel L. Smith, CSA, commanding the Marine Department of Texas, reported the status of the small gunboats in the area. CSS Clifton, Sachem, and Jacob A. Bell were at Sabine Pass; CSS Bayou City, Diana, and Harriet Lane were at Galveston Bay; CSS Mary Hill was at Velasco, and CSS John F. Carr was at Saluria. Bayou City and Harriet Lane were without guns and the remainder mounted a total of 15 cannon.

Union expedition to capture Brazos Santiago, and the mouth of the Rio Grande River departed New Orleans convoyed by USS Monongahela, Commander Strong; USS Owasco, Lieutenant-Commander Edmund W. Henry; and USS Virginia, Acting Lieutenant C.H. Brown. This was the beginning of another Union move not only to wrest Texas from Confederate control but to preclude the possibility of a movement into the State by French troops in Mexico.

USS Granite City, Acting Master C. W. Lamson, captured schooner Anita off Pass Cavallo, Texas, with a cargo of cotton.

28 CSS Georgia, Lieutenant W. L. Maury, anchored at Cherbourg, France, concluding a 7-month cruise against Union commerce. During this period the raider destroyed a number of prizes and bonded the remainder for a total of $200,000. A short time later, Flag Officer Samuel Barton, CSN, advised Secretary Mallory that the ship had been laid up: “The Georgia, Commander W.L. Maury, arrived in Cherbourg a few days ago almost broken down; she has lost her sped, not now going under a full head of steam over 6 knots an hour, and is good for nothing as a cruiser under sail.”

29 With a sizable naval force already supporting Army operations along the Tennessee River, Rear Admiral Porter ordered the officers of his Mississippi Squad run “to give all the aid and assistance in their power” to Major-General W. T. Sherman. Next day Porter advised Secretary Welles “The Lexington, Hastings, Key West, Cricket, Robb, Romeo, and Peosta are detached for duty in the Tennessee River; and the Paw Paw, Tawah, Tyler, and one or two others will soon join them, which will give a good force for that river.

30 USS Vanderbilt, Commander Baldwin, captured bark Saxon, suspected of having rendezvoused with and taken a cargo from CSS Tuscaloosa at Angra Pequena, Africa.

USS Annie, Acting Ensign Williams, seized blockade running British schooner Meteor off Bayport, Florida.

31 During October instruction began for 52 midshipmen at the Confederate States Naval Academy. Lieutenant W.H. Parker, CSN, was Superintendent of the “floating academy” housed on board CSS Patrick Henry at Drewry’s Bluff on the James River.

The initial move to establish a Naval Academy was taken in December 1861 when the Confederate Congress passed a bill calling for “some form of education” for midshipmen. Further legislation in the spring of 1862 provided for the appointment of 106 acting midshipmen to the Naval Academy. In May 1862, the Patrick Henry was designated as the Academy ship, and alterations were undertaken to ready her for this role.

In general the curriculum, studies, and discipline at the new school were patterned after that of the United States Naval Academy. The training was truly realistic as the midshipmen were regularly called upon to take part in actual combat. When they left the Academy, they were seasoned veterans. Commander John M. Brooke, CSN, wrote to Secretary Mallory about the midshipmen as follows “Though but from 14 to 18 years of age, they eagerly seek every opportunity presented for engaging in hazardous enterprises; and those who are sent upon them uniformly exhibit good discipline, conduct, and courage.”

Mallory reported to President Davis: “The officers connected with the school are able and zealous, and the satisfactory progress already made by the several classes gives assurance that the Navy may look to this school for well-instructed and skillful officers.” The Naval Academy continued to serve the Confederate cause well until war’s end.

NOVEMBER 1863

2 -3 The report of Lieutenant-Commander Greenleaf Cilley, USS Catskill, indicated extensive Confederate preparations to meet any Union attempt to breach the obstructions between Forts Sumter and Moultrie as the furious Northern bombardment of Fort Sumter continued. Two boats under sail were seen moving from Sumter toward Sullivan’s Island,” Cilley wrote. “About 11 p.m. a balloon with two lights attached rose from Sumter and floated toward Fort Johnson…. At midnight a steamer left Sumter and moved toward Fort Johnson. At sunrise…. observed the three rams [CSS Charleston, Chicora, and Palmetto State] and the side-wheel steamer anchored in line of battle ahead from Johnson toward Charleston, and each with its torpedo topped up forward of the bows.”

3-4 Naval forces under Commander Strong, including USS Monongahela, Owasco, and Virginia, convoyed and supported troops commanded by General Banks at Brazos Santiago, Texas. The landing began on the 2nd and continued the next day without opposition. On the 4th Brownsville, Texas, was evacuated, and the Union foothold on the Mexican border was secured. Major-General Dana wrote Commander Strong thanking him for the “many services you have rendered this expedition, particularly for the gallant service rendered by Captain Henry and the crew of the Owasco in saving the steam transport Zephyr from wreck during the late storm [encountered enroute on 30 October] and towing her to the rendezvous, and to you and your crew for assisting the steam transport Bagley in distress; also especially for the signal gallantry of your brave tars in landing our soldiers through the dangerous surf yesterday at the mouth of the Rio Grande” The naval force also quickly effected the capture of several blockade runners in the vicinity.

3 Rear Admiral Dahlgren closely examined Fort Sumter from his flagship during the evening and “could plainly observe the further effects of the firing; still,” he added, “this mass of ruin is capable of harboring a number of the enemy, who may retain their hold until expelled by the bayonet…. ”

USS Kenwood, Acting Master Swaney, captured steamer Black Flank off Port Hudson, Louisiana, with a cargo of cotton.

4 USS Virginia, Acting Lieutenant C. H. Brown, seized blockade running British schooner Matamoras at the mouth of the Rio Grande River with a cargo including shoes, axes, and spades for the Confederate Army.

5 Ships of the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron continued to cannonade Fort Sumter in concert with Army batteries ashore on Morris Island. Rear Admiral Dahlgren described the results of the combined bombardment: “The only original feature left is the northeast face, the rest is a pile of rubbish.”

USS Virginia, Acting Lieutenant C.H. Brown, seized blockade running British bark Science, and, in company with USS Owasco, Lieutenant-Commander Henry, captured blockade running British brigs Volante and Dashing Wave at the mouth of the Rio Grande River.

Rear Admiral Porter wrote Major-General Banks in response to the General’s long expressed request for gunboats near and below New Orleans. The Admiral advised him that a dozen gun-boats were being fitted out, and added “This will give you 22 gunboats in your department, with those now there, and I may be able to do more after we drive the rebels back from the Tennessee River.” Banks wrote in mid-December that this assistance would “render it impossible for the enemy to annoy us, as they have heretofore done, by using against us the wonderful network of navigable waters west of the Mississippi River.”

Blockade runner Margaret and Jessie was captured at sea east of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, after a prolonged chase by Army transport Fulton and USS Nansemond, Lieutenant R. H. Lamson. The chase had been started the preceding evening by USS Howquah, Acting Lieutenant Mac-Diarmid, which kept the steamer in sight throughout the night. USS Keystone State, Com-mander Edward Donaldson, joined the chase in the morning and was at hand when the capture was effected, putting an end to the career of a ship that had run the blockade some 15 times.

USS Beauregard, Acting Master Burgess, seized blockade running British schooner Volante off Cape Canaveral, Florida, with a cargo including salt and dry goods.

6 Faced with the problem of passing through the maze of complicated Confederate obstructions near Fort Sumter if the capture of Charleston was to be effected from the sea, the North experi-mented with another innovation by John Ericsson, celebrated builder of USS Monitor. This date, USS Patapsco, Commander Stevens, tested Ericsson’s anti-obstruction torpedo. The device, which was a cast-iron, shell some 23 feet long and 10 inches in diameter containing 600 pounds of powder, was suspended from a raft which was attached to the ironclad’s bow and held in position by two long booms. The demonstration was favorable, for the shock of the explosion was “hardly perceptible” on board Patapsco and, though a “really fearful” column of water was thrown 40 or 50 feet into the air, little of the water fell on the ironclad’s deck. Even in the calm water in which the test was conducted, however, the raft seriously interfered with the ship’s maneuverability. Rear Admiral Dahlgren noted significantly that “perfectly smooth water” was “a miracle here….” Stevens expressed the view that the torpedo was useful only against fixed objects but that for operations against ironclads “the arrangement and attachment are too complicated” and that “something in the way of a torpedo which can be managed with facility” was needed.

CSS Alabama, Captain Semmes, captured and destroyed bark Amanda in the East Indies with a cargo of hemp and sugar.

7 Merchant steamer Allen Collier, with a cargo of cotton, was burned by Confederate guerrillas at Whitworth’s Landing, Mississippi, after she left the protection of USS Eastport, Acting Ensign Sylvester Pool. The uneasy quiet on the river required constant gunboat cover.

Cutter from U.SS. Sagamore, Lieutenant-Commander Charles E. Fleming, captured blockade running British schooner Paul off Bayport, Florida.

8 USS James Adger, Commander Thomas H. Patterson, and USS Niphon, Acting Master Breck, captured steamer Cornubia north of New Inlet, North Carolina.

9 USS James Adger, Commander Patterson, captured blockade runner Robert E. Lee off Cape Lookout Shoals, North Carolina. The steamer had left Bermuda 2 days before with a cargo including shoes, blankets, rifles, saltpeter, and lead. She had been one of the most famous and successful blockade runners. Her former captain, Lieutenant John Wilkinson, CSN, later wrote: “She had run the blockade twenty-one times while under my command, and had carried abroad between six thou-sand and seven thousand bales of cotton, worth at that time about two millions of dollars in gold, and had carried into the Confederacy equally valuable cargoes.”

Intelligence data on the Confederate naval capability in Georgia waters reached Union Army and Navy commanders. CSS Savannah, Commander Robert F. Pinkney, had two 7-inch and two 6-inch Brooke rifled guns and a torpedo mounted on her bow as armament. She carried two other torpedoes in her hold. Her sides were plated with 4 inches of rolled iron and her speed was about seven knots “in smooth water.” CSS Isondiga, a wooden steamer, was reported to have old boilers and “unreliable” machinery. The frames for two more rams were said to be on the stocks at Savannah, but no iron could be obtained to complete them. CSS Resolute, thought by the Union commanders to be awaiting an opportunity to run the blockade, had been converted to a tender, and all the cotton at Savannah was being transferred to Wilmington for shipment through the blockade. CSS Georgia, a floating battery commanded by Lieutenant Washington Gwathmey, CSN, was at anchor near Fort Jackson and was reported to be “a failure.” Such information as this enabled Union commanders to revise their thinking and adjust their tactics to the new conditions in order to maintain the blockade and move against the coast with increasing effectiveness.

Rear Admiral Porter wrote Secretary Welles suggesting that the Coast Survey make careful maps of the area adjacent to the Mississippi River “where navigation is made up of innumerable lakes and bayous not known to any but the most experienced pilots.” The existence of these water-ways, he added, “would certainly never be known by examining modern charts.” A fortnight later, the Secretary recommended to the Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase that surveys similar to those completed by the Coast Survey for Rear Admiral S.P. Lee along the North Carolina coast be made in accordance with Porter’s request. Welles noted that the operations of the Mississippi Squadron and the transport fleet would be “greatly facilitated” and volunteered naval assistance for such an effort.

Admiral Buchanan ordered Acting Midshipman Edward A. Swain to report to Fort Morgan to take “command of the CSS Gunnison and proceed off the harbor of Mobile and destroy, if possible, the USS Colorado or any other vessel of the blockading squadron…. ” Gunnison was a torpedo boat.

USS Niphon, Acting Master Breck, captured blockade runner Ella and Annie off Masonboro lnlet, North Carolina, with a cargo of arms and provisions. In an effort to escape, Ella and Annie rammed Niphon, but, when the two ships swung broadside, the runner was taken by boarding.

10 As an intensive two-week Union bombardment of Fort Sumter drew to a close, General Beauregard noted: “Bombardment of Sumter continues gradually to decrease…. Total number of shots [received] since 26th, when attack recommenced, is 9,306.”

Major-General James B. McPherson reported to Lieutenant-Commander E. K. Owen, USS Louisville, that he anticipated an attack by Confederate troops near Goodrich’s Landing, Louisiana. “I have to request,” the General wrote, “that you will send one or two gunboats to Goodrich’s Landing to assist General [John P.] Hawkins if necessary.” For more than two months McPherson relied on naval support in the face of Southern movements in the area.

USS Howquah, Acting Lieutenant MacDiarmid, captured blockade running steamer Ella off Wilmington.

CSS Alabama, Captain Semmes, captured and burned clipper ship Winged Racer in the Straits of Sunda off Java, with a cargo of sugar, hides, and jute. “She had, besides,” wrote Semmes, “a large supply of Manila tobacco, and my sailors’ pipes were beginning to want replenishing.”

11 CSS Alabama, Captain Semmes, captured and destroyed clipper ship Contest after a long chase off Gaspar Strait with a cargo of Japanese goods for New York.

14 USS Bermuda, Acting Lieutenant J.W. Smith, recaptured schooner Mary Campbell after she had been seized earlier the same day by Confederates under command of Master Duke, CSN, whose daring exploits five months before (see 8 June 1863) had resulted in the capture of a Union ship near New Orleans. Bermuda also took an unnamed lugger which the Confederates had used to capture Mary Campbell. The captures took place off Pensacola after the ships had come out of the Perdido River under Duke’s command. Lieutenant Smith reported that…. the notorious James Duke…. also captured the Norman, with which vessel he, with 10 of his crew, had made for the land upon my heaving in sight, and I have reason to believe that he beached and burned her….”

The relentless pressure exerted on the Confederacy by the Union Navy was becoming increasingly apparent. Paymaster John deBree, CSN, reported to Secretary Mallory: “Restricted as our resources are by the blockade and by the reduced number of producers in the country, it has….been the main object to feed and clothe the Navy without a strict regard to those technicalities that obtain in times of peace and plenty.” DeBree noted that the Confederate Navy had to purchase its cloth largely from blockade runners and “necessarily had to pay high prices…. Still, the closing of the Mississippi River losing us the benefit of a full supply of shoes, blankets and cloth,…. rendered the necessity so urgent that we were obliged to adopt this method of clothing our half naked and fast increasing Navy….” The paymaster reported that the lack of shoes was “our great difficulty” and that shoes were being made out of canvas rather than leather. “For leather shoe we will have to await the arrival of shipments from abroad, and in this, more than any other particular, we feel the inconvenience caused by the loss of our goods…. by the closing of the Mississippi River.” The Confederacy’s ability to continue the war was be-coming ever more dependent on supplies run through the blockade, and the blockade was tightening.

General Beauregard commented on the limitations of the Confederate ships at Charleston: “Our gunboats are defective in six respects: First. They have no speed, going only from 3 to 5 miles an hour in smooth water and no current. Second. They are of too great draft to navigate our in-land waters. Third. They are unseaworthy by their shape and construction…. Even in the harbor they are at times considered unsafe in a storm. Fourth. They are incapable of resisting the enemy’s XV-inch shots at close quarters…. Fifth. They can not fight at long range…. Sixth. They are very costly, warm, uncomfortable, and badly ventilated; consequently sickly.” Nonetheless, the General was forced to rely heavily on them in his plans for the defense of Charles-ton from sea attack. Lacking the industrial capacity, funds and material to construct in strength the desperately needed ships of war, the Confederacy nevertheless accomplished much with in-adequate ships.

USS Dai Ching, Lieutenant-Commander James C. Chaplin, captured schooner George Chisholm off the Santee River, South Carolina, with a cargo of salt.

15 USS Lodona, Acting Lieutenant Brodhead, seized blockade running British schooner Arctic southwest of Frying Pan Shoals, North Carolina, with a cargo of salt.

15-16 Fort Moultrie opened a heavy, evening bombardment on Union Army positions at Cumming’s Point, Morris Island. Brigadier General Gillmore immediately turned to Rear Admiral Dahlgren for assistance. “Will you have some of your vessels move up, so as to prevent an attack by boats on the sea face of the point,” he wired late at night. The Admiral answered “at once” and ordered the tugs on patrol duty to keep “a good lookout.” USS Lehigh, Commander Andrew Bryson, grounded while covering Cumming’s Point and was taken under heavy fire the next morning before USS Nahant, Lieutenant-Commander John J. Cornwell, got her off. Landsmen Frank S. Gile and William Williams, gunner’s mate George W. Leland, coxswain Thomas Irving, and seaman Horatio N. Young from Lehigh were subsequently awarded the Medal of Honor for heroism while carrying a line from their ship to Nahant, thus enabling Lehigh to work free from her desperate position.

16 The effect of the Union’s western successes was severely felt by the Confederate effort in the cast. Commander John K. Mitchell wrote Secretary Mallory that there was a critical shortage of fuels for manufacturing purposes and naval use. “The occupation of Chattanooga by the enemy in August has effectually cut off the supply from the mines in that region, upon which the public works in Georgia and South Carolina and the naval vessels in the waters of those States were dependent. Meager supplies have been sent to Charleston from this place [Richmond] and from the Egypt mines in North Carolina….” He reported that there was a sufficient amount of coal in the Richmond area to supply the Confederate ships operating in Virginia waters and rivers, and he felt that wood was being successfully substituted for coal at Charleston and Savannah. Mitchell paid tribute to the thoroughness of the Union blockade when he wrote of the economic plight of the Confederate States: “The prices of almost all articles of prime necessity have advanced from five to ten times above those ruling at the breaking out of the war, and, for many articles, a much greater advance has been reached, so that now the pay of the higher grades of officers, even those with small families, is insufficient for the pay of their board only; how much greater, then, must be the difficulty of living in the case of the lower grades of officers, and, the families of enlisted persons. This difficulty, when the private sources of credit and the limited means of most of the officers become exhausted, must soon, unless relief be extended to them by the Govern-ment, reach the point of destitution, or of charitable dependence, a point, in fact, already reached in many instances.”

16-17 USS Monongahela, Commander Strong, escorted Army transports and covered the landing of more than a thousand troops on Mustang Island, Aransas Pass, Texas. Monongahela’s sailors manned a battery of two howitzers ashore, and the ship shelled Confederate works until the out-numbered defenders surrendered. General Banks wrote in high praise of the “great assistance” rendered by Monongahela during this successful operation.

17 USS Mystic, Acting Master William Wright, assigned to the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron, seized schooner Emma D. off Yorktown, Virginia. The same day, Assistant Secretary Fox wrote Rear Admiral S.P. Lee praising the effectiveness of the squadron: “I congratulate you upon the captures off Wilmington. Nine steamers have been lost to the rebels in a short time, all due to the ‘fine spirit’ of our people engaged in the blockade. It is a severe duty and well maintained and Jeff Davis pays us a higher compliment than our own people when he declares that there is but one port in 3500 miles (recollect that the whole Atlantic front of Europe is but 2900 miles) through which they can get in supplies.”

18 Merchant schooner Joseph L. Garrity, 2 days out of Matamoras bound for New York, was seized by five Southern sympathizers under Thomas E. Hogg, later a Master in the Confederate Navy. They had boarded the ship as passengers. Hogg landed Joseph L. Garrity’s crew “without injury to life or limb” on the coast of Yucatan on 26 November, and sailed her to British Honduras where he entered her as blockade runner Eureka and sold her a cargo of cotton. Three of the crew were eventually captured in Liverpool, England, and charged with piracy, but on 1 June 1864, Confederate Commissioner James Mason informed Secretary of State Benjamin that they had been acquitted of the charge. In the meantime, Garrity was turned over to the custody of the US commercial agent at Belize, British Honduras, and ultimately returned to her owners.

Acting Master C. W. Lamson, USS Granite City, reported the capture of schooner Amelia Ann and Spanish bark Teresita, with a cargo of cotton, both attempting to run the blockade at Aransas Pass, Texas.

Captain Thomas A. Faries, CSA, commanding a battery near Hog Point, Louisiana, mounted to interdict the movement of the Union shipping on the Mississippi River, reported an engagement with USS Choctaw, Franklin, and Carondelet. “The Choctaw, left her position above, and, passing down, delivered a very heavy fire from her bow, side, and stern guns, enfilading for a short time the four rifle guns in the redoubt.”

20 Rear Admiral Farragut, eager to return to sea duty in the Gulf, informed Secretary Welles from New York that USS Hartford and Brooklyn “will not be ready for sea in less than three weeks, from the best information I can obtain. I particularly regret it, because I see that General Banks is in the field and my services may be required.” The Admiral noted that he had received a letter from Commodore Bell, commanding in his absence, which indicated that there were not enough ships to serve on the Texas coast and maintain the blockade elsewhere as well. Farragut noted that some turreted ironclads were building at St. Louis and suggested: “They draw about 6 feet of water and will be the very vessels to operate in the shallow waters of Texas, if the Department would order them down there.” Three days later, the Secretary asked Rear Admiral Potter to “consider the subject and inform the Department as early as practicable to what extent Farragut’s wishes can be complied with.” Porter replied on the 27th that he could supply Farragut with eight light drafts “in the course of a month” and that “six weeks from today I could have ten vessels sent to Admiral Farragut, if I can get the officers and men….”

21 USS Grand Gulf, Commander George M. Ransom, and Army transport Fulton seized blockade running British steamer Banshee south of Salter Path, North Carolina.

22 USS Aroostook, Lieutenant Chester Hatfield, captured schooner Eureka off Galveston. She had been bound to Havana with a cargo of cotton.

USS Jacob Bell, Acting Master Schulze, transported and supported a troop landing at St. George’s Island, Maryland, where some 30 Confederates, some of whom were blockade runners, were captured.

23 The threat of Confederate torpedoes in the rivers and coastal areas became an increasing menace as the war progressed. The necessity of taking proper precautions against this innovation in naval warfare slowed Northern operations and tied up ships on picket duty that might otherwise have been utilized more positively. This date, Secretary Welles wrote Captain Gansevoort, USS Roanoke, at Newport News: “Since the discovery of the torpedo on James River, near Newport News, the Department has felt some uneasiness with regard to the position of your vessel, as it is evidently the design of the rebels to drift such machines of destruction upon her…. Vigilance is demanded.” Upon receipt of this instruction, Gansevoort replied 2 days later: “The Roanoke lies in the deepest water here, and until very lately, when the necessary force has been temporarily reduced by casualties to machinery, a picket boat has been kept underway during all night just above this anchorage to prevent such missiles from approaching the ship. This pre-caution has been renewed now that the Poppy has been added to this disposable force, and in addition I have caused…. a gunboat to be anchored above us to keep a sharp lookout for torpedoes.”

24 Rear Admiral Lee wrote Secretary Welles regarding a conversation with General Benjamin F. Butler while reconnoitering the Sounds of North Carolina: “I gave him my views respecting the best method of attacking Wilmington, viz, either to march from New Berne and seize the best and nearest fortified inlet on the north of Fort Fisher, thence to cross and blockade the Cape Fear River, or to land below Fort Caswell (the key to the position) and blockade the river from the right bank between Smithville and Brunswick.” Four days later, Commander W. A. Parker supported the Admiral’s views after making his own observations. Recommending a joint Army-Navy assault to capture Fort Fisher, he wrote: “I am of the opinion that 25,000 men and two or three ironclads should be sent to capture this place, if so large a force can be conveniently furnished for this purpose…. The ironclads…. should be employed to divert the attention of the garrison at Fort Fisher during the landing of our troops at Masonboro Inlet, and to prevent the force there from being used to oppose the debarkation…. Fort Fisher would probably fall after a short resistance, as I have been informed that the heavy guns all point to seaward, and there is but slight provision made to resist an attack from the interior.” Union efforts in the east were concentrated on the capture of Charleston at this time, however, and a thrust at Wilmington was postponed. The city continued as a prime haven for blockade runners until early 1865.

Under cover of USS Pawnee, Commander Balch, and USS Marblehead, Lieutenant-Commander Richard W. Meade, Jr., Army troops commenced sinking piles as obstructions in the Stono River above Legareville, South Carolina. The troops, protected by Marblehead, had landed the day before. The naval force remained on station at the request of Brigadier General Schimmelfennig to preclude a possible Confederate attack.

25 The valiant but overpowered Confederate Navy faced many problems in the struggle for survival. One of them was the inability to obtain enough ordnance. Commander Brooke reported to Secretary Mallory this date that ordnance workshops had been established at Charlotte, Richmond, Atlanta, and Selma, Alabama. While great efforts were made to meet Southern needs, Brooke wrote: “The deficiency of heavy ordnance has been severely felt during this war. The timely addition of a sufficient number of heavy guns would render our ports invulnerable to the attacks of the enemy’s fleets, whether ironclads or not.

USS Fort Hindman, Acting Lieutenant John Pearce, captured steamer Volunteer off Natchez Island, Mississippi.

26 USS James Adger, Commander Patterson, seized British blockade runner Ella off Masonboro Inlet, North Carolina, with a cargo of salt.

USS Antona, Acting Master Zerega, captured schooner Mary Ann southeast of Corpus Christi with a cargo of cotton.

27 USS Two Sisters, Acting Master Charles H. Rockwell, seized blockade running schooner Maria Alberta near Bayport, Florida.

28 USS Chippewa, Lieutenant-Commander Thomas C. Harris, convoyed Army transport Monohassett and Mayflower up Skull Creek, South Carolina, on a reconnaissance mission. Though Confederate troops had established defensive positions from which to resist attacks, Chippewa’s effective fire prevented them from halting the movement. “The object of the expedition was fully accom-plished,” Harris reported, “and the reconnaissance was complete.”

29 USS Kanawha, Lieutenant-Commander Mayo, captured schooner Albert (or Wenona) attempting to run the blockade out of Mobile, with a cargo of cotton, rosin, turpentine, and tobacco.

At the request of Major-General Banks, a gun crew from USS Monongahela, Commander Strong, went ashore to man howitzers in support of an Army attack on Pass Cavallo, Texas.

30 Secretary Mallory emphasized the necessity for the proper training of naval officers in his annual report on the Confederate States Navy. It was, he wrote, “a subject of the greatest importance.” He observed: “The naval powers of the earth are bestowing peculiar care upon the education of their officers, now more than ever demanded by the changes in all the elements of naval warfare. Appointed from civil life and possessing generally but little knowledge of the duties of an officer and rarely even the vocabulary of their profession they have heretofore been sent to vessels or batteries where it is impossible for them to obtain a knowledge of its most important branches, which can be best, if not only, acquired by methodical study.” Mallory noted that there were 693 officers and 2,250 enlisted men in the Confederate Navy. He reported that while Union victories at Little Rock and on the Yazoo River had terminated the Department’s attempts to construct ships in that area, construction was “making good progress at Richmond, Wilmington, Charleston, Savannah, Mobile, on the Roanoke, Peedee, Chattahoochee, and Alabama Rivers….” Two major problems Mallory enumerated troubled the Confederacy throughout the conflict the lack of skilled labor to build ships and the inability to obtain adequate iron to protect them. In the industrial North, neither was a difficulty– a factor which helped decide the course of the war.

Confederate naval officers and men played vital roles in Southern shore defenses throughout the war. This date, Secretary Mallory praised the naval command at Drewey’s Bluff which guarded the James River approach to Richmond. The battery, he reported, “composed of seamen and marines, is in a high state of efficiency and the river obstructions are believed to be sufficient, in connection with the shore and submarine batteries, to prevent the passage of the enemy’s ships. An active force is employed on submarine batteries and torpedoes.”

DECEMBER 1863
2 Rear Admiral Porter reported: “In the operations lately carried on up the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers, the gunboats have been extremely active and have achieved with perfect success all that was desired or required of them…. With the help of our barges, General Sherman’s troops were all ferried over in an incredibly short time by the gunboats, and he was enabled to bring his formidable corps into action in the late battle of Chattanooga, which has resulted so gloriously for our arms. The Mississippi Squadron continued to patrol the rivers relentlessly, restricting Confederate movements and countering attempts to erect batteries along the banks.

Commodore H. H. Bell, pro tem commander of the West Gulf Blockading Squadron, reported to Secretary Welles the estimated Confederate naval strength at Mobile Bay. CSS Gaines and Mor-gan mounted ten guns; CSS Selma mounted four, as did the nearly completed ironclad CSS Nash-ville. All were sidewheelers. Ironclad rams CSS Baltic, Huntsville, and Tennessee all mounted four guns each. The latter, Admiral Buchanan’s flag ship, was said to be “strong and fast.” CSS Gunnison was fitted as a torpedo boat carrying 150 pounds of powder and another screw steamer was reported being fitted out, though a fire had destroyed her upper works. In addition to two floating batteries mounting 3 guns each and 10 transport steamers at Mobile Bay, the report noted: “At Selma there is a large vessel building, to be launched in January. There are three large rams building on the Tombigbee River, to be launched during the winter.” Rear Admiral Farragut would face four of these ships in Mobile Bay the following year. Lack of machinery, iron, and skilled mechanics prevented the rest from being little more than the phantoms which rumor frequently includes in estimates of enemy strength.

Boat expedition from USS Restless, Acting Master William R. Browne, reconnoitered Lake Ocala, Florida. Finding salt works in the area, the Union forces destroyed them. “They were in the practice of turning out 130 bushels of salt daily.” Rear Admiral Bailey reported. “Besides destroying these boilers, a large quantity of salt was thrown into the lake, 2 large flatboats, and 6 ox carts were demolished, and 17 prisoners were taken…. ” These destructive raids, destroy-ing machinery, supplies, armament, and equipment, had a telling and lasting effect on the South, already short of all.

3 Rear Admiral Dahlgren issued the following orders to emphasize vigorous enforcement of the blockade and vigilance against Confederate torpedo boats: “Picket duty is to be performed by four monitors, two for each night, one of which is to be well advanced up the harbor, in a position suitable for preventing the entrance or departure of any vessel attempting to pass in or out of Charleston Harbor, and for observing Sumter and Moultrie, or movements in and about them, taking care at the same time not to get aground, and also to change the position when the weather appears to render it unsafe. The second monitor is to keep within proper supporting distance of the first, so as to render aid if needed.” The Admiral added: “The general object of the monitors, tugs, and boats on picket is to enforce the blockade rigorously, and to watch and check the movements of the enemy by water whenever it can be done, particularly to detect and destroy the torpedo boats and the picket boats of the rebels.”

USS New London, Lieutenant-Commander Weld N. Allen, captured blockade running schooner del Nile near Padre Pass Island, Texas, with a cargo including coffee, sugar, and percussion caps.

5 Boat crew under Acting Ensign William B. Arrants from USS Perry was captured while reconnoitering Murrell’s Inlet, South Carolina, to determine if a ship being outfitted there as a blockade runner could be destroyed. Noting that a boat crew from T.A. Ward had been captured in the same area 2 months before, Rear Admiral Dahlgren wrote: “These blunders are very annoying, and yet I do not like to discourage enterprise and dash on the part of our officers and men. Better to suffer from the excess than the deficiencies of these qualities.”

6 USS Weehawken, Commander Duncan, sank while tied up to a buoy inside the bar at Charleston harbor. Weehawken had recently taken on an extra load of heavy ammunition which reduced the freeboard forward considerably. In the strong ebb tide, water washed down on an open hawse pipe and a hatch. The pumps were unable to handle the rush of water and Weehawken quickly foundered, drowning some two dozen officers and men.

USS Violet, Acting Ensign Thomas Stothard, and USS Aries, Acting Lieutenant Devens, sighted blockade running British steamer Ceres aground and burning at the mouth of the Cape Fear River, North Carolina. During the night, Ceres floated free and, the flames having been extinguished, was seized by Violet.

7 In his third annual report to the President, Secretary Welles wrote: “A blockade commencing at Alexandria, in Virginia, and terminating at the Rio Grande, has been effectively maintained. The extent of this blockade…. covers a distance of three thousand five hundred and forty-nine statute miles, with one hundred and eighty-nine harbor or pier openings or indentations, and much of the coast presents a double shore to be guarded…. a naval force of more than one hundred vessels has been employed in patrolling the rivers, cutting off rebel supplies, and co-operating with the armies…. The distance thus traversed and patrolled by the gunboats on the Mississippi and its tributaries is 3,615 miles, and the sounds, bayous, rivers and inlets of the States upon the Atlantic and the Gulf, covering an extent of about 2,000 miles, have also been…. watched with unceasing vigilance.” Welles reported a naval strength of 34,000 sea-men and 588 ships displacing 467,967 tons, mounting 4,443 guns. More than 1,000 ships had been captured by alert blockaders, as the results of weakness at sea were driven home to the beleaguered South. The North’s mighty force afloat had severed the Confederacy along the Mississippi and pierced ever deeper into her interior; amphibious assaults from the sea had driven her still further from her coasts; and the vise of the blockade clamped down more tightly on an already withering economy and military capability.

Steamer Chesapeake of the New York and Portland Line, en route to Portland, Maine, was seized off Cape Cod by a group of 17 Confederate sympathizers led by John C. Braine. The bizarre undertaking had been planned at St. John, New Brunswick, by Captain John Parker (whose real name seems to have been Vernon G. Locke), former commander of the Confederate privateer Retribution. Parker ordered Braine and his men to New York where they purchased side arms and boarded Chesapeake as passengers. At the appropriate moment they threw aside their disguises. and after a brief exchange of gunfire in which the second engineer was killed, took possession of the steamer. They intended to make for Wilmington after coaling in Nova Scotia. Captain Parker came on board in the Bay of Fundy and took charge.

News of the capture elicited a quick response in the Navy Department. Ships from Philadelphia northward were ordered out in pursuit. On 17 December USS Ella and Annie, Acting Lieutenant J. Frederick Nickels, recaptured Chesapeake in Sambro Harbor, Nova Scotia. She was taken to Halifax where the Vice Admiralty Court ultimately restored the steamer to her original American owners. Most of the Confederates escaped and John Braine would again cause the Union much concern before the war ended.

Assistant Secretary Fox transmitted a list of ships reported to be running the blockade and urged Rear Admiral Lee to prosecute the blockade even more vigorously. “While the captures are numerous, it is not the less evident that there are many that escape capture.” Some ships would successfully run the blockade until the end of the war.

8 The disabled merchant steamer Henry Von Phul was shelled by a Confederate shore battery near Morganza, Louisiana. USS Neosho, Acting Ensign Edwin P. Brooks, and USS Signal, Acting Ensign William P. Lee, steamed up to defend the ship and silenced the battery. Union merchantmen were largely free from such attacks when convoyed by a warship.

9 USS Circassian, Acting Lieutenant Eaton, seized blockade running British steamer Minna at sea east of Cape Romain, South Carolina. The steamer was carrying a cargo including iron, hardware, and powder. In addition, Eaton reported, “she has also as a cargo a propellor and shaft and other parts of a marine engine, perhaps intended for some rebel ironclad.”

10 Confederate troops burned schooner Josephine Truxillo and barge Stephany on Bayou Lacomb, Louisiana. Next day they burned schooner Sarah Bladen and barge Helana on Bayou Bonfouca.

11 Confederate troops fired on USS Indianola in the Mississippi in an attempt to destroy her, but the effective counterfire of USS Carondelet, Acting Maser James C. Gipson, drove them off. The Union Navy was exerting great effort to get Indianola off the bar on which she had sunk in February, and on 23 November Gipson had written Rear Admiral Porter: “I will do all that lies in my power to protect her from destruction.”

Major-General D. H. Maury, CSA, wrote of reports that had reached him of a Union naval attack on Mobile “at an early day.” Maury prophetically stated that “I expect the fleet to succeed in running past the outer forts,” but he added, I shall do all I can to prevent it, and to hold the forts as long as possible.”

14 General Beauregard ordered Lieutenant Dixon, CSA, to proceed with submarine H. L. Hunley to the mouth of Charleston harbor and “sink and destroy any vessel of the enemy with which he can come in conflict.” The General directed that “such assistance- as may he practicable” he rendered to Lieutenant Dixon.

15 Captain Semmes, after cruising for some time in Far Eastern waters, determined to change his area of operations. Leaving the island of Condore in C.S.S Alabama, he wrote: “The homeward trade of the enemy is now quite small, reduced, probably, to twenty or thirty ships per year, and these may easily evade us by taking the different passages to the Indian Ocean…. there is no cruising or chasing to be done here, successfully, or with safety to oneself without plenty of coal, and we can only rely upon coaling once in three months…. So I will try my luck around the Cape of Good Hope once more, thence to the coast of Brazil, and thence perhaps to Barbados for coal, and thence? If the war be not ended, my ship will need to go into dock to have much of her copper replaced, now nearly destroyed by such constant cruising, and to have her boilers overhauled and repaired, and this can only be properly done in Europe.” The cruise of the most famous Confederate commerce raider went into its final 6 months.

Captain Barron advised Secretary Mallory from Paris of the great difficulty encountered in purchasing or seeking to repair Confederate ships in European ports. The “difficulties and expense and some delay,” he said, were due to “the spies” of US Ambassador Charles Francis Adams in London. Barron reported that they “are to be found following the footsteps of any Confederate agent in spite of all the precautions we can adopt…. The shrewd US diplomat moved time and again to frustrate Southern efforts in Europe.

Admiral Buchanan wrote Commander C. ap R. Jones regarding CSS Tennessee: “The Tennessee will carry a battery of two 7-inch Brooke guns and four broadsides, 6.4 or 9 inch…. There is a great scarcity of officers and I know not where I will get them. I have sent the names of 400 men who wish to be transferred from the Army to the Navy, and have received only about twenty. Jones replied, “Strange that the Army disregard the law requiring the transfer of men.”

16 In acknowledging resolutions of congratulations and appreciation passed by the Chamber of Commerce of New York for “one of the most celebrated victories of any time” the capture of New Orleans Rear Admiral Farragut wrote: “That we did our duty to the best of our ability, I believe; that a kind Providence smiled upon us and enabled us to overcome obstacles before which the stoutest of our hearts would have otherwise quailed, I am certain.”

Thomas Savage, US Consul-General at Havana, reported to Commodore H. H. Bell regarding blockade runners in that port: “A schooner under rebel colors, called Roebuck, 41 tons, with cotton arrived from Mobile yesterday. She left that port, I believe, on the 8th. She is the only vessel that has reached this port from Mobile for a very long time…. The famous steamer Alice, which ran the blockade at Mobile successfully so many times, is now on the dry dock here fitting out for another adventure.”

USS Huron, Lieutenant-Commander Stevens, captured blockade runner Chatham off Doboy Sound, Georgia, with a cargo of cotton, tobacco, and rosin.

USS Ariel, Acting Master William H. Harrison, captured sloop Magnolia off the west coast of Florida. She was inbound from Havana with a cargo of spirits and medicines.

17 Lieutenant-Commander Fitch, USS Moose, reported that he had sent landing parties ashore at Seven Mile Island and Palmyra, Tennessee, where they had destroyed distilleries used by Con-federate guerrilla troops.

USS Roebuck, Acting Master Sherrill, seized blockade-running British schooner Ringdove off Indian River, Florida, with a cargo including salt, coffee, tea, and whisky.

19 Expedition under Acting Master W. R. Browne, comprising USS Restless, Bloomer, and Caroline, proceeded up St. Andrew’s Bay, Florida, to continue the destruction of salt works. A landing party went ashore under Bloomer’s guns and destroyed those works not already demolished by the Southerners when reports of the naval party were received. Browne was able to report that he had “cleared the three arms of this extensive bay of salt works….Within the past ten days,” he added, “290 salt works, 33 covered wagons, 12 flatboats, 2 sloops (3 ton each) 6 ox carts, 4,000 bushels of salt, 268 buildings at the different salt works, 529 iron kettles averaging 150 gallons each, 103 iron boilers for boiling brine [were destroyed], and it is believed that the enemy destroyed as many more to prevent us from doing so.”

20 Steamer Antonica ran aground on Frying Pan Shoals, North Carolina, attempting to run the blockade. Boat crews from USS Governor Buckingham, Acting Lieutenant William G. Salton-stall, captured her crew but were unable to get the steamer off. Rear Admiral S. P. Lee noted: She will be a total loss….” Antonica had formerly run the blockade a number of times under British registry and name of Herald, “carrying from 1,000 to 1,200 bales of cotton at a time.”

USS Connecticut, Commander Almy, seized British blockade running schooner Sallie with a cargo of salt off Frying Pan Shoals, North Carolina.

USS Fox, Acting Master George Ashbury, captured steamer Powerful at the mouth of Suwannee River, Florida. The steamer had been abandoned by her crew on the approach of the Union ship, and, unable to stop a serious leak, Ashbury ordered the blockade runner destroyed.

21 Rear Admiral Dahlgren wrote Secretary Welles that, after 10 days of “wretched” weather at Charleston, a quantity of obstructions had been washed down from the upper harbor by the “wind, rain, and a heavy sea.” The Admiral added: “The quantity was very considerable, and besides those made of rope, which were well known to us, there were others of heavy timber, banded together and connected by railroad iron, with very stout links at each end…. This is another instance of the secrecy with which the rebels create defenses; for although some of the deserters have occupied positions more or less confidential, not one of them has even hinted at obstructions of this kind, while, on the other hand, the correspondents of our own papers keep the rebels pretty well posted in our affairs.

Admiral Buchanan wrote Commander C. ap R. Jones at the Confederate Naval Gun Foundry and Ordnance Works, Selma, Alabama: “Have you received any orders from Brooke about the guns for the Tennessee? She is all ready for officers, men, and guns, and has been so reported to the Department many weeks since, but none have I received.”

22 Captain Semmes of CSS Alabama noted the effect of Confederate commerce raiding on Northern shipping in the Far East: “The enemy’s East India and China trade is nearly broken up. Their ships find it impossible to get freights, there being in this port [Singapore] some nineteen sail, almost all of which are laid up for want of employment…. the more widely our blows are struck, provided they are struck rapidly, the greater will be the consternation and consequent damage of the enemy.

23 Rear Admiral Farragut advised Secretary Welles from the New York Navy Yard that USS Hartford, which had served so long and well as his flagship in the Gulf, was again ready for sea save for an unfilled complement. The Admiral, anxious to return to action, suggested that the sailors might be obtained in Boston and other ports.

Rear Admiral Dahlgren ordered retaliatory steps taken against the Confederates operating in the Murrell’s Inlet area where two Union boat crews had recently been captured (see 17 October and 5 December). “I desire….” he wrote Captain Green, USS Canandaigua, “to administer some corrective to the small parties of rebels who infest that vicinity, and shall detail for that purpose the steamers Nipsic, Sanford, Geranium, and Daffodil, also the sailing bark Allen and the schooner Mangham, 100 marines for landing, and four howitzers, two for the boats, two on field carriages, with such boats as may be needed.” The force left its anchorage at Morris Island on 29 December.

24 Commander C. ap R. Jones wrote Admiral Buchanan that guns for CSS Tennessee would be sent from the Selma Gun Foundry “as soon as they are ready.” Jones added: “We had an accident that might have been very serious. An explosion took place while attempting to cast the bottom section of a gun pit. The foundry took fire, but was promptly extinguished. Fortunately but two of the molds were burned. I had a narrow escape, my hat, coat, and pants were burned. Quite a loss in these times, with our depreciated currency and fixed salaries. As a large casting is never made without my being present, I consider my life in greater danger here than if I were in command of the Tennessee, though I should expect hot work in her occasionally. What chance have I for her?”

USS Fox, Acting Master Ashbury, seized blockade running British schooner Edward off the mouth of the Suwannee River, Florida, after a two hour chase during which the schooner at-tempted to run down the smaller Union ship. She was carrying a cargo of lead and salt from Havana.

CSS Alabama, Captain Semmes, captured and burned bark Texan Star in the Strait of Malacca with a cargo of rice.

USS Sunflower, Acting Master Van Sice, captured blockade runner Hancock near the lighthouse at Tampa Bay with a cargo including salt and borax.

USS Antona, Acting Master Zerega, seized blockade running schooner Exchange off Velasco, Texas, with a cargo including coffee, nails, shoes, acids, wire, and cotton goods.

25 Confederate batteries on John’s Island opened an early morning attack on USS Marblehead, Lieutenant-Commander Meade, near Legareville, South Carolina, in the Stono River. Marblehead sustained some 20 hits as USS Pawnee, Commander Balch, contributed enfilading support, and mortar schooner C.P. Williams, Acting Master Simeon N. Freeman, added her firepower to the bombardment. After more than an hour, the Confederates broke off the engagement and withdrew. Meade later seized two VIII-inch sea coast howitzers.

USS Daylight, Acting Lieutenant Francis S. Wells, and USS Howquah, Acting Lieutenant MacDiarmid, transported troops from Beaufort, North Carolina, to Bear Inlet, where the soldiers and sailors were landed without incident under the Daylight’s protecting guns. Wells reported: “Four extensive salt works in full operation were found at different points along the coast and near the inlet, which were all thoroughly destroyed.

26 CSS Alabama, Captain Semmes, captured and burned ships Sonora and Highlander, both in ballast, at anchor at the western entrance of the Straits of Malacca. “They were monster ships,” Semmes wrote, “both of them, being eleven or twelve hundred tons burden.” One of the masters told the commerce raider: Well, Captain Semmes, I have been expecting every day for the last three years to fall in with you, and here I am at last…. The fact is, I have had constant visions of the Alabama, by night and by day; she has been chasing me in my sleep, and riding me like a night-mare, and now that it is all over, I feel quite relieved.”

As the year drew to a close, it became evident that the much-hoped-for European aid, if not actual intervention, on behalf of the Confederacy would not be forthcoming. This was expressed by Henry Hotze, Confederate Commercial Agent in London, in a letter this date to Secretary of State Benjamin:…. it is absolutely hopeless to expect to receive any really serv-iceable vessels of war from the ports of either England or France, and…. our expenditure should therefore be confined to more practicable objects and our naval staff be employed in eluding, since we can not break, the blockade.”

26-31 USS Reindeer, Acting Lieutenant Henry A. Glassford, with Army steamer Silver Lake No. 2 in company, reconnoitered the Cumberland River at the request of General Grant. The force moved from Nashville to Carthage without incident but was taken under fire five times on the 29th. The Confederates’ positions, Glassford reported, “availed them nothing, however, against the guns of this vessel and those of the Silver Lake No. 2; they were completely shelled out of them. The gunboats continued as far as Creelsboro, Kentucky, before “the river gave unmistakable signs of a fall.” The ships subsequently returned to Nashville.

29 Under Captain Green, USS Nipsic, Sanford, Geranium, Daffodil, and Ethan Allen departed Morris Island for Murrell’s Inlet to destroy a schooner readying to run the blockade and disperse Con-federate troops that had been harassing Union gunboats. The force arrived at an anchorage some 15 miles from Murrell’s Inlet the following day, rendezvousing with USS George Mangham.

Preparations for landing commenced immediately, but debarkation was delayed by heavy seas. With surprise lost, part of the purpose of the landing was frustrated. However, on 1 January, USS Nipsic, Commander James H. Spotts, landed sailors and Marines at Murrell’s Inlet and succeeded in destroying the blockade runner with a cargo of turpentine. The ships then returned to Charleston.

Boat crews from USS Stars and Stripes, Acting Master Willcomb, destroyed blockade running schooner Caroline Gertrude aground on a bar at the mouth of Ocklockonee River, Florida. At-tempting to salvage the schooner’s a cargo of cotton, the Union sailors were taken under heavy fire by Confederate cavalry ashore and returned to their ship after setting the blockade runner ablaze.

30 Expedition under command of Acting Ensign Norman McLeod from USS Pursuit, destroyed two salt works at the head of St. Joseph’s Bay, Florida.

31 USS Kennebec, Lieutenant-Commander McCann, captured blockade runner Grey jacket, bound from Mobile to Havana, with a cargo of cotton, rosin, and turpentine.

USS Sciota, Lieutenant-Commander Perkins, and USS Granite City, Acting Master Lamson, with troops embarked, made a reconnaissance from pass Cavallo, Texas, and landed the soldiers on the Gulf shore of Matagorda Peninsula in action continuing through 1 January. While Granite City covered the troops ashore from attacks by Confederate cavalry, Sciota reconnoitered the mouth of the Brazos River. Returning to the landing area, Sciota anchored close to the beach and shelled Confederate positions. Granite City fell down to Pass Cavallo to call up USS Monogahela, Penobscot, and Estrella to assist. Confederate gunboat John F. Carr closed and fired on the Union troops, “making some very good hits,” but was driven ashore by a severe gale and destroyed by fire. The Union troops were withdrawn on board ship. Report-ing on the operation, Lieutenant Colonel Frank S. Hasseltine wrote: “Captain Perkins, of the Sciota, excited my admiration by the daring manner in which he exposed his ship through the night in the surf till it broke all about him, that he might, close to us, lend the moral force of his XI-inch guns and howitzers, and by his gallantry in bringing us off during the gale. To Captain Lamson, of the Granite City, great credit is due for his exertion to retard and drive back the enemy. By the loss he inflicted upon them it is clear but for the heavy sea he would have freed us from any exertion.

Though the war’s decisive areas of combat were east of the Mississippi, the attention of the Navy Department continued to be nationwide. Secretary Welles advised Rear Admiral C. H. Bell, commanding the Pacific Squadron, that it would be wise to keep at least one ship constantly on duty in San Francisco in order to give “greater security to that important city…. Welles promised to send Bell two additional steamers to augment his squadron.

Secretary Welles noted in his diary: “The year closes more satisfactorily than it commenced…. The War has been waged with success, although there have been in some instances errors and misfortunes. But the heart of the nation is sounder and its hopes brighter.”

JANUARY 1864

1 As the New Year opened, the Union once more focused its attention on Wilmington. Since 1862 the Navy had pressed for a combined assault on this major east coast port, ideally located for blockade running less than 600 miles from Nassau and only some 675 from Bermuda. Despite the efforts of the fleet, the runners had continued to ply their trade successfully. In the fall of 1863, a British observer reported that thirteen steamers ran into Wilmington between 10 and 29 Septem-ber and that fourteen ships put to sea between 2 and 19 September. In fact, James Randall, an employee of a Wilmington shipping firm, reported that 397 ships visited Wilmington during the first two and a half to three years of the war. On 2 January, Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles again proposed an attack on the fortifications protecting Wilmington, the only port by which any supplies whatever reach the rebels…. He suggested to Secretary of War, Edwin M. Stanton that a joint operation be undertaken to seize Fort Caswell: ‘The result of such operation is to en-able the vessels to lie inside, as is the case at Charleston, thus closing the port effectually.” However, Major-General Henry W. Halleck advised Stanton that campaigns to which the Army was committed in Louisiana and Texas would not permit the men for the suggested assault to be spared. Thus, although the Navy increasingly felt the need to close Wilmington, the port remained a haven for blockade runners for another year.

USS Huron, Lieutenant-Commander Francis H. Baker, sank blockade running British schooner Sylvanus in Doboy Sound, Georgia, with a cargo of salt, liquor, and cordage.

2 Major-General Stephen A. Hurlbut, Army commander at Memphis, wired Secretary Welles: ‘The Tennessee at Mobile will be ready for sea in twenty days. She is a dangerous craft. Bu-chanan thinks more so than the Merrimack Commander Robert Townsend reported the seizure of steamer Ben Franklin in the lower Mississippi River “for flagrant violation of the Treasury Regulations.”

3 USS Fahkee, with Rear Admiral Samuel P. Lee embarked, sighted steamer Bendigo aground at Lockwood’s Folly Inlet, South Carolina. Three boat crews were sent to investigate: after it was discovered that the blockade runner had been partially burned to prevent capture and that there was seven feet of water in the hold, Lee ordered Bendigo destroyed by gunfire from USS Fort Jackson, Iron Age, Montgomery, Daylight, and Fahkee.

4 Estimating the situation west of the Mississippi, Lieutenant General E. Kirby Smith, CSA, wrote to Major-General Richard Taylor, CSA: “I still think Red and Washita [Ouachita] Rivers, es-pecially the former, are the true lines of operation for an invading column, and that we may ex-pect an attempt to be made by the enemy in force before the rivers fall….Within eight weeks Rear Admiral David D. Porter was leading such a joint expedition aimed at the penetration of Texas, which would not only further weaken Confederate logistic support from the West, but also would counter the threat of Texas posed by the French ascendancy in Mexico.

USS Tioga, Lieutenant-Commander Edward Y. McCauley, seized an unnamed schooner near the Bahamas, bound from Nassau to Havana with a cargo including salt, coffee, arms, shoes, and liquors.

5 Commander George B. Balch reported to Rear Admiral John A. Dahlgren, commanding the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron, that prices continue to rocket in blockaded Charleston: “…. boots sell at $250 a pair.”

7 Following reports from an informant, Rear Admiral Dahlgren ordered all ships of the Charleston blockading force to take stringent precautions against attack by Southern torpedo boats, and noted: “There is also one of another kind, which is nearly submerged and can be entirely so. It is intended to go under the bottoms of vessels and there to operate.” Regarding the submarine H.L. Hunley, he warned: “It is also advisable not to anchor in the deepest part of the channel, for by not leaving much space between the bottom of the vessel and the bottom of the channel it will be impossible for the diving torpedo to operate except on the sides, and there will be less difficulty in raising a vessel if sunk.”

Major-General Benjamin F. Butler’s plan to send Army steamer Brewster, Ensign Arnold Harris, Jr., into Wilmington harbor under the guise of a blockade runner “for the purpose of making an attempt upon the shipping and blockade runners in the harbor” was abandoned upon learning of the Confederates’ protective precautions. Brigadier General Charles K. Graham reported to Rear Admiral Lee that while it might be possible to run past Forts Caswell and Fisher under the proposed ruse, it would be frustrated by the chain that stretched across the channel at Fort Lee; all blockade runners were required to come to at that point until permission for their further advance was received from Wilmington. Under these circumstances, Graham concluded, “it would be madness to make the attempt.”

USS Montgomery, Lieutenant Edward H. Faucon, and USS Aries, Lieutenant Edward F. Devens, chased blockade runner Dare. The steamer, finding escape impossible, was beached at North Inlet, South Carolina, and was abandoned by her crew. Boat crews from both Montgomery and Aries boarded but, failing to refloat the prize, set her afire.

USS San Jacinto, Lieutenant-Commander Ralph Chandler, captured schooner Roebuck at sea, bound from Havana for Mobile.

8 Captain Raphael Semmes, CSS Alabama, noted in his journal that he had identified himself to an English bark as USS Dacotah in search of the raider Alabama. The bark’s master replied: “It won’t do; the Alabama is a bigger ship than you, and they say she is iron plated besides.” Had Semmes’ ship been armored in fact, the outcome of his battle with USS Kearsarge six months later might have been different.

USS Kennebec, Lieutenant-Commander William P. McCann, chased blockade runner John Scott off Mobile for some eight hours and captured her with a cargo of cotton and turpentine. John Scott’s pilot, William Norval, well known for his professional skill and for aiding the blockade runners, was sent by Commodore Henry K. Thatcher to New Orleans, where he was imprisoned.

9 Reflecting the increased Union concern over Confederate torpedoes, President Abraham Lincoln granted an interview to one Captain Lavender, a New England mariner, to discuss a device for discovering and removing underwater obstructions. Though many ideas for rendering Confed-erate torpedoes ineffective were advanced, none solved the problem, and torpedoes sank an increas-ing number of Union ships.

Mr. James O. Putnam, US Consul at L’Havre, France, notified Captain John Winslow of USS Kearsarge “that it was the purpose of the commanders of the Georgia, the Florida, and Rappahannock, to rendezvous at some convenient and opportune point, for the purpose of attacking the Kearsarge after she has left Brest.” This attack never took place; six months later it was Kearsarge which met another Confederate raider, Alabama, off Cherbourg.

Rear Admiral Charles H. Bell, commanding the Pacific Squadron, advised Secretary Welles of the report that a Confederate privateer was outfitting at Victoria, Vancouver Island: “I would also respectfully suggest the expediency of having at all times a small steamer, under the direction of the [Mare Island] navy yard, ready to be despatched at a few hours’ notice whenever a similar occasion arises. The want of a vessel so prepared may be of incalculable injury to the mercantile interests of our western coast.

10 While helping to salvage the hulk of grounded and partially burned blockade runner Bendigo near Lockwood’s Folly Inlet, South Carolina, USS Iron Age, Lieutenant-Commander Edward E. Stone, herself grounded. Efforts to get her off were futile, and, as Confederates positioned a battery within range, the ship was ordered destroyed to prevent her capture. Reporting on the loss of the small screw steamer and on blockade duty in general, Rear Admiral Lee noted: “This service is one of great hardship and exposure; it has been conducted with slight loss to us, and much loss to the rebels and their allies, who have lost twenty-two vessels in six months, while our loss has only been two vessels on the Wilmington blockade during the war.”

Boat crews from USS Roebuck, Acting Master John Sherrill, captured blockade-running Confed-erate sloop Maria Louise with a cargo of cotton off Jupiter Inlet, Florida.

11 Flag Officer Samuel Barron, senior Confederate naval officer in France, reported to Secretary of the Navy Stephen Mallory, that he had placed Lieutenant Charles M. Morris in command of CSS Florida, relieving Commander Joseph N. Barney whose ill health prevented active service afloat. Florida had completed her repairs and on a trial run “made 13 knots under steam.” CSS Rappahannock was “repairing slowly but surely;” she would be armed with the battery from CSS Georgia, no longer fit for duty as a cruiser. He concluded: “You are doubtless, sir, aware that three Confederate ‘men-of-war’ are now enjoying the hospitality and natural courtesies of this Empire-a strange contrast with the determined hostility, I may almost say, of Earl Russell Louis Napoleon is not Lord John Russell!”

USS Minnesota, Daylight, Aries, and Governor Buckingham intercepted blockade-runner Ranger, Lieutenant George W. Gift, CSN, and forced her aground at the Western Bar of Lockwood’s Folly Inlet, South Carolina. Since Southern sharpshooters precluded salvage, Ranger, carrying a cargo for the Confederate government, was destroyed by Union forces. Aries, Acting Lieutenant Edward F. Devens, also investigated a fire observed between Tubb’s and Little River Inlets and found the “fine-looking double propeller blockade runner” Vesta beached and in flames. Vesta had been sighted and chased the night before by USS Keystone State, Quaker City, and Tuscarora.

USS Honeysuckle, Acting Ensign Cyrus Sears, captured blockade running British schooner Fly near Jupiter Inlet, Florida.

Boat crews from USS Roebuck, Acting Master Sherrill, captured blockade running British schooner Susan at Jupiter Inlet with a cargo including salt.

12 Under cover of USS Yankee, Currituck, Anacostia, Tulip, and Jacob Bell, commanded by Acting Lieutenant Edward Hooker, Union cavalry and infantry under General Gilman Marston landed on the peninsula between the Potomac and Rappahannock Rivers, capturing “a small body of the enemy and a large number of cavalry horses.” The small gunboats supported the Army operations on the 13th and 14th, and covered the reembarkation of the soldiers on the 15th.

13 Captain Thornton A. Jenkins, senior officer present off Mobile, wrote Commodore Henry H. Bell, temporary commander of the West Gulf Blockading Squadron: “I must be permitted to say that, in my judgment, our present weakness at this point, and the incalculable benefits to accrue in the event of success, are a most tempting invitation to the enemy to attack us and endeavor to raise the blockade by capturing or destroying our vessels and to open the way to other successes.

Rear Admiral Farragut, who had arrived in Key West, Florida, on 12 January, was soon to resume command of the West Gulf Squadron.

Rear Admiral Dahlgren urged Secretary Welles to employ torpedo boats in Charleston harbor similar to the Confederate “David”. “Nothing better could be devised for the security of our own vessels or for the examination of the enemy’s position,” he wrote. “The length of these torpedo boats might be about 40 feet, and 5 to 6 feet in diameter, with a high-pressure engine that will drive them 5 knots. It is not necessary to expend much finish on them.”

Boat crew from USS Two Sisters, Acting master Thomas Chatfield, captured schooner William off Suwannee River, Florida, with a cargo of salt, bagging, and rope.

14 CSS Alabama, Captain Semmes, captured and burned ship Emma Jane off the coast of Malabar, southwest India.

Small boats from USS Roebuck, Acting Master Sherrill, chased blockade running British sloop Young Racer and forced her aground north of Jupiter Inlet, Florida, with a cargo of salt. The sloop was destroyed by her crew.

Having failed in efforts to pull the grounded USS Iron Age off the beach at Lockwood’s Folly Inlet, the Federal blockaders applied the torch and blew her up. “As an offset to the loss….” reported Lieutenant-Commander Stone, “I would place the capture or destruction of 22 blockade runners within the last six months by this squadron [the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron].”

USS Union, Acting Lieutenant Edward Conroy, captured blockade running steamer Mayflower near Tampa Bay, Florida, with a cargo of cotton.

15 Regarding Southern Red River defenses, Major-General Taylor, CSA, wrote to Brigadier General William R. Boggs: “At all events, we should be prepared as far as possible, and I trust the re-maining 9-inch gun and the carriages for the two 32-Dahlgrens will soon reach me. For the 9-inch and 32-pound rifle now in position at Fort De Russy, there were sent down only 50 rounds of shot and shell; more should be sent at once. The Missouri, I suppose, will come down on the first rise.

Secretary Mallory ordered Commander James W. Cooke to command CSS Albemarle at Halifax, North Carolina, and to complete her. Under Cooke’s guidance she was rapidly readied for service and played a major role in Albemarle Sound from April until her destruction in October.

Commodore H. H. Bell wrote confidentially to Commander Robert Townsend, USS Essex, off Donaldsonville, Louisiana: “The rams and ironclads on Red River and in Mobile Bay are to force the blockade at both points and meet here [New Orleans], whilst the army is to do its part. Being aware of these plans, we should be prepared to defeat them. The reports in circulation about their ironclads and rams being failures may be true in some degree; but we should remember that they prevailed about the redoubtable Merrimack before her advent.” Of the ironclads, however, only CSS Tennessee could be regarded as formidable.

USS Beauregard, Acting Master Francis Burgess, captured blockade running British schooner Minnie south of Mosquito Inlet, Florida, with a cargo including salt and liquor.

16 Secretary Mallory wrote Captain John K. Mitchell of the Confederate James River Squadron urging that action be taken against the Union squadron downriver at the earliest opportunity.

I think that there is a passage through the obstructions at Trents’ Reach. I deem the opportunity a favor able one for striking a blow at the enemy if we are able to do so. In a short time many of his vessels will have returned to the River from Wilmington and he will again perfect his obstructions. If we can block the River at or below City Point, Grant might be compelled to evacuate his position…. The clamor for action increased as the months passed- On 15 May Lieutenant Robert D. Minor, First Lieutenant and ordnance officer for the Squadron, wrote his wife: “There is an insane desire among the public to get the iron dads down the river, and I am afraid that some of our higher public authorities are yeilding to this pressure of public opinion- but I for one am not and in the squadron we know too much of the interest at stake to act against our judgement even if those high in authority wish to hurry us into an action unpre-pared and against vastly superior forces….”

The Richmond Enquirer reported that 26 ships on blockading station off Wilmington “guard all the avenues of approach with the most sleepless vigilance. The consequences are that the chances of running the blockade have been greatly lessened, and it is apprehended by some that the day is not far distant when it will be an impossibility for a vessel to get into that port without incurring a hazard almost equivilant to positive loss. Having secured nearly every seaport on our coast, the Yankees are enabled to keep a large force off Wilmington.”

Henry Hotze, commercial agent of the Confederate States, wrote from London to Secretary of State Judah P. Benjamin suggesting complete government operation of blockade running: “The experiments thus far made by the Ordnance, Niter, and other Bureaus, as also the Navy Depart-ment, demonstrates that the Government can run the blockade with equal if not greater chances than private enterprise. But the public loses the chief advantages of the system, first, by the competition of private exportation; secondly, by the complicated and jarring machinery which only serves to grind out large profits in the shape of commissions, etc.; thirdly, by confounding the distinctive functions of different administrative departments. If blockade running was con-stituted an arm of the national defense, each would perform only its appropriate work, which therefore would be well done, The Treasury would procure without competition the raw material and regulate the disposition of the proceeds; the Navy, abandoning the hope of breaking the blockade and throwing all its available energies into eluding it, would purchase, build, and man the vessels for this purpose…. As the war progressed, more and more blockade runners commanded by naval officers did operate under the Confederate government.

Boat crews from USS Fernandina, Acting Master Edward Moses, captured sloop Annie Thomp-son in St. Catherine’s Sound, Georgia, with a cargo of cotton, tobacco, and turpentine.

USS Gertrude, Acting Master Henry C. Wade, captured blockade running schooner Ellen off Mobile with an assorted cargo.

17 Rear Admiral Farragut, eager to attack at Mobile but needing ironclads to cope with Confederate ram Tennessee, wrote Rear Admiral Porter: “I am therefore anxious to know if your monitors, at least two of them, are not completed and ready for service; and if so, can you spare them to assist us? If I had them, I should not hesitate to become the assailant instead of awaiting the attack. I must have ironclads enough to lie in the bay to hold the gunboats and rams in check in the shoal water.”

18 Rear Admiral Farragut arrived off Mobile Bay to inspect Union ships and the Confederate de-fenses. He had sailed from New York in his renowned flagship Hartford after an absence of five months, and was to officially resume command of the West Gulf Blockading Squadron on Janu-ary 22 at New Orleans. Farragut was concerned about the reported strength of the Confederate ram Tennessee, then in Mobile Bay, and determined to destroy her and silence the forts, closing Mobile to the blockade runners, To this end, he immediately began to build up his forces and make plans for the battle.

Secretary Welles directed Captain Henry Walke, USS Sacramento, to search for “the piratical vessels now afloat and preying upon our commerce,” adding: “You will bear in mind that the principal object of your pursuit is the Alabama.” Alabama had by this date taken more than 60 prizes, and the effect of all raiders on Union merchantmen was evident in the gradual disappearance of the US flag from the ocean commerce lanes.

 

Boat crews from USS Roebuck, Acting Master Sherrill, captured sloop Caroline off Jupiter Inlet, Florida, with a cargo of salt, gin, soda, and dry goods.

USS Stars and Stripes, Acting Master Charles L. Willcomb, captured blockade running steamer Laura off Ocklockonee River, Florida, with a cargo including cigars.

19 Boats from USS Roebuck, Acting Master Sherrill, seized British schooner Eliza and sloop Mary inside Jupiter Inlet, Florida. Both blockade runners carried cargoes of cotton. Three days later Mary, en route to Key West, commenced leaking, ran aground, and was wrecked. The prize crew and most of the cotton were saved. In ten days, Sherrill’s vigilance and initiative had enabled him to take six prizes.

Thomas E. Courtenay, engaged in secret service for the Confederacy, informed Colonel Henry E. Clark, that manufacture of “coal torpedoes” was nearing completion, and stated: “The castings have all been completed some time and the coal is so perfect that the most critical eye could not detect it.” These devices, really powder filled cast iron bombs, shaped and painted to resemble pieces of coal, were to be deposited in Federal naval coal depots, from where they would eventu-ally reach and explode ships’ boilers. During the next few months Rear Admiral Porter, commanding the Mississippi Squadron, became greatly concerned over Confederate agents assigned to distribute the coal torpedoes, and wrote Secretary Welles that he had “given orders to commanders of vessels not to be very particular about the treatment of any of these desperadoes if caught- only summary punishment will be effective.

21 USS Sciota, Lieutenant-Commander George H. Perkins, in company with USS Granite City, Acting Master Charles W. Lamson, joined several hundred troops in a reconnaisance of the Texas coast. Sciota and Granite City covered the troops at Smith’s Landing, Texas, and the subsequent foray down the Matagorda Peninsula. From the war’s outset this type of close naval support and cooperation with the army had been a potent factor in Union success in all theaters of the conflict.

22 Rear Admiral Dahlgren wrote Assistant Secretary of the Navy Gustavus V. Fox regarding Charles-ton: ‘…. do not suppose that I am idle because no battles are fought; on the contrary, the blockade by four monitors of such a place as this, and the determined intentions of the rebels to operate with torpedoes, keep all eyes open.

Acting Ensign James J. Russell, USS Restless, accompanied by two sailors, captured blockade running schooner William A. Kain in St. Andrew’s Bay, Florida. Russell and his men had intended originally to reconnoiter only, but after discovering and capturing the Captain and several of the crew members of the blockade runner in the woods near the vessel, he determined to take her himself. Compelling his prisoners to row him out to Kain, Russell captured the remaining crew members and managed to sail Kain from Watson’s Bayou out into the bay and under the protection of Restless’s guns.

23 Rear Admiral Dahlgren in a letter to President Lincoln wrote: “The city of Charleston is converted into a camp, and 20,000 or 25,000 of their best troops are kept in abeyance in the vicinity, to guard against all possible contingencies, so that 2,000 of our men in the fortifications of Morris and Folly Islands, assisted by a few ironclads, are rendering invaluable service…. No man in the country will be more happy than myself to plant the flag of the Union where you most desire to see it.” The Union’s ability to attack any part of the South’s long coastline from the sea diverted important numbers of Confederate soldiers from the main armies.

26 William L. Dayton, US Minister to France, noted in a dispatch to Secretary of State Seward: “I must regret that, of the great number of our ships of war, enough could not have been spared to look after the small rebel cruisers now in French ports. It is a matter of great surprise in Europe, that, with our apparent naval force, we permit such miserable craft to chase our commerce from the ocean; it affects seriously our prestige.”

28 Captain Henry S. Stellwagen, commanding USS Constellation, reported from Naples “It is my pleasant duty to inform you of the continued [friendly] demonstrations of ruling powers and people of the Kingdom of Italy toward our country and its officers.” When the problems of blockading the hazardous Atlantic and Gulf coasts and running down Confederate commerce raiders compelled the Navy Department to employ its steamers in these tasks, sailing warships were sent out to replace them on the foreign stations. These slow but relatively powerful vessels, the historic Constellation in the Mediterranean, St. Louis west of Gibraltar on the converging trade routes, Jamestown in the East Indies, became available to escort merchant ships and, more important, to deter the approach of raiders. Though they received few opportunities to carry out their military missions, these veterans of the Old Navy rendered most effective service pro-tecting American interests and maintaining national prestige abroad.

US Army steamer Western Metropolis seized blockade running British steamer Rosita off Key West with a cargo including liquor and cigars. Acting Lieutenant Lewis W. Pennington, USN, and Acting Master Daniel S. Murphy, USN, on board as passengers, assisted in the capture.

USS Beauregard, Acting Master Burgess, seized blockade running British sloop Racer north of Cape Canaveral, Florida, with a cargo of cotton.

29 Commander Thomas H. Stevens, USS Patapsco, reported to Rear Admiral Dahlgren on an ex-tended reconnaissance of the Wilmington River, Georgia, during which Confederate sharpshooters were engaged. Stevens concluded: “From what I can see and learn, an original expedition against Savannah at this time by a combined movement of the land and sea forces would be prob-ably successful.” Though the Navy kept the city under close blockade and engaged the area’s defenses, troops for the combined operation did not become available until late in the year.

Lieutenant-Commander James C. Chaplin, USS Dai Ching, reported to Dahlgren information obtained from the master of blockade runner George Chisholm [see 14 November 1863 for capture]:,’…. vessels running out from Nassau, freighted with contraband goods for Southern ports…. always skirt along on soundings and take the open sea through the North East Providence Channel by Egg and Royal Islands, steering from thence about N.N.W. course toward Wilmington or ports adjacent on the Carolina coast, while those bound to Mobile run down on the east side of Cuba through Crooked Island Passage, sweeping outside in a considerable circle to avoid the United States cruisers in the vicinity. The vessels bound to the coast of the Carolinas take their point of departure from a newly erected light-house in the neighborhood of Man of War Cay. They are provided with the best of instruments and charts, and, if the master is ignorant of the channels and inlets of our coast, a good pilot. They are also in possession of the necessary funds (in specie) to bribe, if possible, captors for their release. Such an offer was made to myself…. of some £800. The master of a sailing vessel, before leaving port, receives $1,000 (in coin), and, if successful, $5,000 on his return; those commanding steamers $5,000 on leaving and $15,000 in a successful return to the same port.”

31 In planning the strategy for the joint Army-Navy Red River Campaign, Major-General William T. Sherman wrote to Major-General Nathaniel P. Banks: “The expedition on Shreveport should be made rapidly, by simultaneous movements from Little Rock on Shreveport, from Opelousas on Alexandria, and a combined force of gun-boats and transports directly up Red River. Admiral Porter will be able to have a splendid fleet by March 1.” The Army relied on Porter’s gunboats both to spearhead attack with its powerful guns and to keep open the all-important supply line.

An expedition comprising some 40 sailors and 350 soldiers with a 12-pound howitzer, under command of Lieutenant-Commander Charles W. Flusser, marched inland from the Roanoke River North Carolina, “held the town of Windsor several hours, and marched back 8 miles to our boats without a single shot from the enemy.”

FEBRUARY 1864

1 Army expedition supported by minor naval forces (including converted ferry boat USS Commodore Morris, Lieutenant-Commander James H. Gillis, and launches from USS Minnesota) was repulsed by Confederate sharpshooters near Smithfield Virginia, with the loss of Army gunboat Smith Briggs. The troops, whose original object had been the capture of a Confederate camp and a quantity of tobacco on Pagan Creek, re-embarked on the transports and withdrew downstream.

USS Sassacus, Lieutenant-Commander Francis A. Roe, captured blockade runner Wild Dayrell aground at Stump Inlet, North Carolina. Roe attempted to get the steamer off for two days but, unable to do so, burned her.

Boat expedition from USS Braziliera, Acting Master William T. Gillespie, captured sloop Buffalo with a cargo of cotton near Brunswick, Georgia.

2 Early in the morning, a Confederate boat expedition planned and boldly led by Commander John Taylor Wood, CSN, captured and destroyed 4-gun sidewheel steamer USS Underwriter, Acting Master Jacob Westervelt, anchored in the Neuse River near New Bern, North Carolina. The boats had been shipped by rail from Petersburg, Virginia, to Kinston, North Carolina, and from there started down the Neuse. Wood, grandson of President Taylor and nephew of Jef-ferson Davis, silently approached Underwriter about 2:30 a.m. and was within 100 yards of the gunboat before the boats were sighted. Underwriter’s guns could not be brought to bear in time, and the Confederates quickly boarded and took her in hand-to-hand combat, during which Wester-velt was killed, Unable to move Underwriter because she did not have steam up, Wood destroyed her while under the fire of nearby Union batteries. He later wrote Colonel Lloyd J. Beall, Com-mandant of the Confederate Marine Corps, commending the Marines who had taken part in the expedition: “Though their duties were more arduous than those of the others, they were always prompt and ready for the performance of all they were called upon to do. As a body they would be a credit to any organization, and I will be glad to be associated with them on duty at any time.” Lieutenant George W. Gift, CSN, who took part in what Secretary Mallory termed “this brilliant exploit,” remarked: “I am all admiration for Wood. He is modesty personified, conceives boldly and executes with skill and courage.

Major-General W. T. Sherman, who had recently arrived at Vicksburg on board USS Juliet, Acting Master J. Stoughton Watson, preparatory to commencing his expedition to Meridian, Mississippi, expressed his appreciation for the assistance Watson had given him. “I am very obliged to you personally and officially for the perfect manner [in which] you have contributed to my wants. You have enabled me to assemble and put in motion troops along the Mississippi, and have contributed to the personal comfort of myself and staff.” In order to further assist Sherman’s move, tern-wheel gunboats Marmora, Romeo, Exchange and tinclad Petrel supported a diversionary expedition up the Yazoo River. Sherman had written Lieutenant-Commander Elias K. Owen, commanding the gunboats: “I desire to confuse the enemy as to our plans [to march across Mississippi and attack Meridian], and know that the appearance of a force up the Yazoo as far as possible will tend to that result.” Moreover, such a showing of the flag would impress the people with the force available to Union commanders should it be necessary to use it.

US Tug Geranium, Acting Ensign David Lee, captured eight members of the Confederate Tor-pedo Corps off Fort Moultrie, in Charleston Harbor, while they were attempting to remove stores from a grounded blockade runner.

2-4 Blockade runner Presto was discovered aground under the batteries of Fort Moultrie. Monitors USS Lehigh, Commander Andrew Bryson, Nahant, Lieutenant-Commander John J. Cornwell, and Passaic, Lieutenant-Commander Edward Simpson, fired on the steamer for three days, finally satisfying themselves on 4 February that she was destroyed.

2-–22 Major-General Quincy A. Gillmore advised Rear Admiral Dahlgren of his intention ” to throw a force into Florida on the west bank of St. John’s River.” He requested the support of two or three naval gunboats for the operation. Dahlgren promptly detailed small screw steamers USS Ottawa and Norwich to convoy the Army troops to Jacksonville, and ordered screw steamer USS Dai Ching, and sidewheelers Mahaska and Water Witch up the St. John’s. The Admiral himself went to Florida to take a personal hand in directing his forces to…. keep open the communi-cations by the river and give any assistance to the troops which operations may need….With the gunboats deployed according to Dahlgren’s instructions, the soldiers, under Brigadier General Truman Seymour, landed at Jacksonville, moved inland, captured fieldpieces and took a large quantity of cotton. As Dahlgren prepared to return to Charleston on 10 February, General Gillmore wrote: “Please accept my thanks for the prompt cooperation afforded me.” A strong Confederate counterattack commenced on 20 February and compelled the Union troops to fall back on Jacksonville where the gunboats stood by to defend the city; naval howitzers were put ashore in battery, manned by seamen. Commander Balch, senior naval officer present, reported: “I had abundant reasons to believe that to the naval force must our troops be indebted for pro-tection against a greatly superior force flushed with victory.” Seymour expressed his apprecia-tion for Balch’s quick action”…. at a moment when it appeared probable that the vigorous assistance of the force under your command would be necessary.

3 USS Petrel, Marmora, Exchange, and Romeo, under Lieutenant-Commander Owen, silenced Con-federate batteries at Liverpool, Mississippi, on the Yazoo River, as naval forces began an ex-pedition to prevent Southerners from harassing Major-General W. T. Sherman’s expedition to Meridian, Mississippi. In the next two weeks, Owen’s light-draft gunboats pushed up the Yazoo Rivet as far as Greenwood, Mississippi, engaging Confederate troops en route. Confederates destroyed steamer Sharp to prevent her capture before the Union naval force turned back. ‘This move,” Rear Admiral Porter later reported to Secretary Welles,” has had the effect of driving the guerrillas away from the Mississippi River, as they are fearful it is intended to cut them off.”

USS Midnight, Acting Master Walter H. Garfield, captured blockade running schooner Defy off Doboy Light, Georgia, with a cargo of salt.

4 A boat under command of Acting Master’s Mate Henry B. Colby from USS Beauregard captured Lydia at Jupiter Narrows, Florida, with small a cargo of cotton and turpentine.

4–5 USS Sassacus, Lieutenant-Commander Roe, chased steamer Nutfield aground off New River Inlet, North Carolina. When it proved impossible to get her off, her a cargo of Enfield rifles and quinine was salvaged and she was destroyed.

5 J. L. McPhail, Maryland’s Provost Marshal General, wrote Commander Foxhall A. Parker of the Potomac Flotilla, informing him that a known Southern sympathizer was the agent for schooner Ann Hamilton’s owners. McPhail recommended that she be taken, but it later developed that US Revenue Steamer Hercules had already seized Ann Hamilton off Point Lookout, Maryland, on 4 February. A search of the schooner confirmed McPhail’s suspicions: quantities of salt and lye and more than $15,000 in Confederate money were found on board. Parker ordered her to Washington for adjudication.

Captain John R. Tucker reported that the boiler of CSS Chicora had given out and that hence-forth she could be used only as a floating battery in the defenses of Charleston harbor.

USS De Soto, Captain Gustavus H. Scott, seized blockade running British steamer Cumberland in the Gulf of Mexico south of Santa Rosa Island with a cargo of arms, gunpowder, and dry goods.

6 Special Commissioner of the Confederate States A. Dudley Mann wrote Secretary of State Benjamin from London: “The iron hull is superseding the wooden hull just as steam is superseding canvas. The rich and exhaustless ore fields and coal mines of the ‘Island Giant’, her numerous workshops and shipyards, the abundance and constant augmentation of her seamen, will probably in less than a score of years produce for her a mercantile navy three times as large as that of all the world besides. The old American Union was her only rival in bottom carrying. That rival has dis-appeared.” Mann here referred to the fact that the US merchant vessels were increasingly sailing under foreign registry because of Southern commerce raiders.

USS Cambridge, Commander William F. Spicer, found blockade running steamer Dee aground and in flames near Masonboro, North Carolina. She had grounded the preceding night and was set afire to prevent capture. Spicer completed the destruction of the blockade runner with her a cargo of lead, bacon, and spirits.

7 Confederate steamer St. Mary’s, trapped in McGirt’s Creek, above Jacksonville, Florida, by USS Norwich, Acting Master Frank B. Meriam, was sunk and her a cargo of cotton destroyed to prevent its falling into Union hands.

8 Commander Catesby ap R. Jones, commanding the Confederate Naval Gun Factory at Selma, Alabama, wrote Admiral Franklin Buchanan at Mobile of the fighting qualities of the Union monitors: “The revolving turret enables the monitor class to bring their guns to bear without reference to the movements or turning of the vessel. You who fought the Virginia know well how to appreciate that great advantage. You doubtless recollect how often I reported to you that we could not bring one of her ten guns to bear. In fighting that class, it is very important to prevent the turret from revolving, which I think may be done either with the VII-inch or 6.4-inch rifles or 64 pounder, provided their projectiles strike the turret at or near its base where it joins the deck…. If the turret is prevented from revolving, the vessel is then less efficient than one with the same guns having the ordinary ports, as the monitors’ ports are so small that the guns can not be trained except by the helm.”

9 Acting Master Gerhard C. Schulze “received six refugees” on board USS Jacob Bell off Blakistone Island, Virginia. One of the men, Joseph Lenty, an Englishman, had worked in Richmond for four years and brought the North further news of recent refinement by Confederates of their in-genious torpedoes. “…. they are now making a shell which looks exactly like a piece of coal, pieces of which were taken from a coal pile as patterns to imitate. I have made these shells myself. I believe these shells have power enough to burst any boiler. After they were thrown, in a coal pile I could not tell the difference between them and coal myself.” The “coal torpedo” was reported to have been placed in production late in January 1864 and was suspected of having been the agent of several unexplained explosions and fires during the remainder of the war (see 27 November 1864). A general order issued by Rear Admiral Porter on the subject testified to the genuine alarm with which Union commanders viewed the new weapon: “The enemy have adopted new inventions to destroy human life and vessels in the shape of torpedoes, and an article resembling coal, which is to be placed in our coal piles for the purpose of blowing the vessels up, or injuring them. Officers will have to be careful in overlooking coal barges. Guards will be placed over them at all times, and anyone found attempting to place any of these things amongst the coal will be shot on the spot.”

Life on board Confederate commerce raiders was taxing and little relieved by relaxation. This date CSS Alabama made one of her few “port calls”, putting into the island of Johanna between Africa and Madagascar for provisions. Captain Semmes later wrote: “I gave my sailors a run on shore, but this sort of ‘liberty’ was awful hard work for Jack. There was no such thing as a glass of grog to be found in the whole town, and as for a fiddle, and Sal for a partner- all of which would have been a matter of course in civilized countries- there were no such luxuries to be thought of. They found it a difficult matter to get through with the day, and were all down at the beach long before sunset- the hour appointed for their coming off-waiting for the approach of the welcome boat. I told Kell to let them go on shore as often as they pleased, but no one made a second application.”

Commander T. H. Stevens, USS Patapsco, reported that one of his cutters commanded by Acting Ensign Walter C. Odiorne captured blockade running schooner Swift off Cabbage Island, Georgia, with a cargo of fish.

10 CSS Florida, Lieutenant Charles M. Morris, escaped to sea from Brest, France, having been laid up for repairs since the preceding August. “The Florida,” reported Captain Winslow of Kearsarge, “took advantage of a thick, rainy night and left at 2 o’clock, proceeding through the southern passage.” Morris’ sailing instructions, received from Flag Officer Samuel Barron, contained the terse reminder:…. you are to do the enemy’s property the greatest injury in the shortest time.” Winslow was finding, as the British found during the Napoleonic Wars, that Brest was a very difficult port to blockade.

USS Florida, Commander Peirce Crosby, forced blockade runner Fanny and Jenny aground near Masonboro Inlet, North Carolina. Immediately thereafter, Crosby sighted blockade runner Emily aground nearby. Unable to get either steamer afloat and under fire from a Confederate Whitworth battery, Crosby burned them. Fanny and Jenny carried an assorted a cargo including a quantity of coal; Emily carried a cargo of salt. On Fanny and Jenny was also found a solid gold jewel-studded sword inscribed: “To General Robert E. Lee, from his British sympathizers.”

Crosby reported that information given him by the captured crew members of Fanny and Jenny indicated that ten blockade runners had sailed from Nassau for Wilmington “…. during this dark of the moon. Three have been destroyed, and one put back, broken down, leaving six others to be heard from.”

11 USS Queen, Acting Master Robert Tarr, captured schooner Louisa off the mouth of the Brazos River, Texas, with a cargo of powder and Enfield rifles.

12 Commander John M. Brooke, in charge of the Confederate Navy’s Office of Ordnance and Hydrog-raphy wrote Flag Officer Barron in France for “material for cartridge bags, which is now much needed.” Brooke asked Barron to purchase some 22,000 yards of material and ship it to Nassau. From there blockade runners would attempt to run it through the blockade, in 1000 yard lots to avoid losing it all in the event of capture. It was becoming increasingly difficult for the South to procure basic war materials, a problem which was compounded by the lack of good railroads for internal transportation and control of most of her rivers by the Federal fleet.

13 Rear Admiral Farragut reported to Assistant Secretary of Navy Pox that information given him indicated “that those publications about vessels running into Mobile are false [and] that no vessel has gotten in during the last six weeks and then only one, that the Isabel has been in there 4 months…. that there are but 3 steamers, the Denbigh, and Isabel and Austin; the 2 last are loaded ready to run out and the Denbigh was so disabled by the Fleet when she attempted to run out the other night that she had to be towed up to the City [Mobile] and her cotton is at the Fort.”

14 Lieutenant-Commander Charles A. Babcock reported on a reconnaissance mission conducted the preceding day by USS Morse on the York River and Potopotank Creek, Virginia. A sloop, with a cargo of corn and small schooner Margaret Ann were seized and taken to Yorktown. Babcock also swept the river from Moody’s Wharf to Purtan Island Point to verify reports that Con-federate torpedoes had been planted there. None were found in that area, but Babcock wrote: “I do not believe there are any torpedoes below Goff’s Point, but across from Goff’s Point to Terrapin Point and in the forks of the river at West Point I believe, from information received, that there are certainly torpedoes placed there.”

15 USS Forest Rose, Acting Lieutenant John V. Johnson, came to the relief of Union soldiers who were hard pressed by attacking Confederate troops at Waterproof, Louisiana. The 260- ton gunboat compelled the Southerners to retire under a heavy bombardment. The commander of the Northerners ashore wrote Johnston: “I hope you will not consider it [mere] flattering when I say I never before saw more accurate artillery firing than you did in these engagements, invariably putting your shells in the right place ordered. My officers and men now feel perfectly secure against a large force, so long as we have the assistance of Captain Johnston and his most excellent drilled crew…. ”

Rear Admiral C. H. Bell of the Pacific Squadron ordered Commander William E. Hopkins, USS Saginaw, to cruise in Mexican waters and warned: “It is believed that on that part of the coast of Mexico which you will visit during your present cruise there are many persons calling themselves citizens of the United States who are watching an opportunity to seize upon any vessel suitable to make depredations on our commerce. You must, therefore, be extremely careful, particularly when at anchor, that no boats approach without being ready to repel any attempt which may be made to take you by surprise. A sufficient watch on deck at night, with arms at hand, and the men drilled to rush on deck without waiting to dress, is absolutely indispensable in a low-deck vessel like the Saginaw.”

The Confederate Congress tendered its thanks to Commander John Taylor Wood, his officers, and men “for the daring and brilliantly executed plans which resulted in the capture of the United States transport schooner Elmore, on the Potomac River; of the ship Allegheny [see Alleghanian, 28 October 1862]…. and the United States transport schooners Golden Rod, Coquette, and Two Brothers, on the Chesapeake [see 25 August 1863]; and, more recently, in the capture from under the guns of the enemy’s works of the United States gunboat Underwriter, on the Neuse River, near New Berne, North Carolina [see 2 February 1864], with the officers and crews of the several vessels brought off as prisoners.”

Flag Officer Barron reported from Paris to Secretary Mallory: “From all the information I can get there seems to be scarcely a single Yankee vessel engaged in regular trade between any two places. But should our efforts to keep cruisers afloat abate or prove less successful doubtless their enterprise will again be brought into lively activity to relieve their present more than half-starved commerce.

USS Virginia, Acting Lieutenant Charles H. Brown, seized blockade running British schooner Mary Douglas off San Luis Pass, Texas, with a cargo of bananas, coffee, and linen.

16 Union naval forces, composed of double-ender USS Octorara, Lieutenant-Commander William W. Low, converted ferryboat USS J. P. Jackson, Acting Lieutenant Miner B. Crowell, and six mortar schooners, began bombarding Confederate works at Fort Powell as Rear Admiral Farragut commenced the long, arduous campaign that six months later would result in the closing of Mobile Bay. The bombardment of Fort Powell by gunboats was a continuing operation, though the mortar boats were eventually withdrawn.

Rear Admiral Dahlgren, alert to the potential offered by torpedoes, ordered 100 of them made by Benjamin Maillefert, an engineering specialist. Late the preceding November, Maillefert had proposed using torpedoes to clear the obstructions in the channel between Fort Sumter and Charles-ton: Each of these charges will he provided with a clockwork arrangement, which shall deter-mine the exact time of firing; they are to contain 110 to 125 pounds of gunpowder each….This date Dahlgren, satisfied with the tests during the intervening period, wrote: ”Having witnessed the action of your time torpedoes, I think they may he serviceable in operating against the rebels at Charleston and elsewhere.” By war’s end both North and South were using torpedoes, forecasting the great roles this underwater ordnance would play in the 20th century.

USS Montgomery, Acting Lieutenant Faucon, seized blockade running British steamer Pet off Lockwood’s Folly Inlet, South Carolina.

Lieutenant Minor, CSN, reported on the condition of CSS Neuse, then building at Kinston, North Carolina: “…. Lieutenant Comdg. [William] Sharp has a force of one hundred and seventy-two men employed upon her…. As you are aware the Steamer has two layers of iron on the forward end of her shield, but none on either broadside, or on the after part. The carpenters are now calking the longitudinal pieces on the hull, and if the iron can be delivered more rapidly, or in small quantities with some degree of regularity, the work would progress in a much more
satisfactory manner. The boiler was today lowered into the vessel and when in place, the main deck will be laid in…. The river I am told is unpredecently low for the season of the year I am satisfied not more than five feet can be now carried down the channel…. And as the Steamer when ready for service will draw between six or seven feet, it is very apparent that to be useful, she must be equipped in time to take advantage of the first rise.

16–23 USS Para, Acting Master Edward G. Furber, escorted troops up the St. Mary’s River to Woodstock Mills, Florida, to obtain lumber. The 200-ton schooner engaged Confederates along the river banks and covered the transports while a large quantity of lumber was taken on board. On 21 February, Para captured small steamer Hard Times.

17 Confederate submarine H. L. Hunley, Lieutenant George E. Dixon, CSA, destroyed USS Housatonic, Captain Charles W. Pickering, off Charleston, and became the first submarine to sink an enemy ship in combat. After Hunley sank the preceding fall for the second time (see 15 October 1863), she was raised, a new volunteer crew trained, and for months under the cover of darkness moved out into the harbor where she awaited favorable conditions and a target. This night, the small cylindrical-shaped craft with a spar torpedo mounted on the bow found the heavy steam sloop of war Housatonic anchored outside the bar. Just before 9 o’clock in the evening, Acting Master John K. Crosby, Housatonic’s officer of the deck, sighted an object in the water about 100 yards off but making directly for the ship. “It had the appearance of a plank moving in the water.” Nevertheless Housatonic slipped her cable and began backing full; all hands were called to quarters. It was too late. Within two minutes of her first sighting, H. L. Hunley rammed her torpedo into Housatonic’s starboard side, forward of the mizzenmast. The big warship was shattered by the ensuing explosion and “sank immediately.”

The Charleston Daily Courier reported on 29 February: “The explosion made no noise, and the affair was not known among the fleet until daybreak, when the crew were discovered and released from their uneasy positions in the rigging. They had remained there all night. Two officers and three men were reported missing and were supposed to be drowned. The loss of the Housatonic caused great consternation in the fleet. All the wooden vessels are ordered to keep up steam and to go out to sea every night, not being allowed to anchor inside. The picket boats have been doubled and the force in each boat increased.”

Dixon and his daring associates perished with H. L. Hunley in the attack. The exact cause of her loss was never determined, but as Confederate Engineer James H. Tomb later observed: “She was very slow in turning, but would sink at a moment’s notice and at times without it.” The submarine, Tomb added, “was a veritable coffin to this brave officer and his men. But in giving their lives the gallant crew of H. L. Hunley wrote a fateful page in history-for their deed foretold the huge contributions submarines would make in later years in other wars.

17-19 Boat expedition under the command of Acting Ensign J. G. Koehler, USS Tahoma, destroyed a large Confederate salt works and a supply of salt near St. Marks, Florida.

18 Commander James D. Bulloch wrote Secretary Mallory from Liverpool of his disappointment over the inability of the Confederacy to obtain ironclads in Europe and suggested, as Henry Hotze had a month before (see 16 January 1864), that the Navy Department…. take the blockade-running business into its own hands Bulloch added: “The beams and decks of these steamers could be made of sufficient strength to bear heavy deck loads without exciting suspicion, and then if registered in the name of private individuals and sailed purely as commercial ships they could trade without interruption or violation of neutrality between our coasts and the Bermudas, Bahamas, and West Indies. When three or more of the vessels happened to be in harbor at the same time a few hours would suffice to mount a couple of heavy guns on each, and at early dawn a successful raid might be made upon the unsuspecting blockaders…. After a raid or cruise the vessels could be divested of every appliance of war, and resuming their private ownership and commercial names, could bring off cargoes of cotton to pay the cost of the cruise…. Such operations are not impracticable, and if vigorously carried on without notice and at irregular periods, would greatly increase the difficulty of blockading our harbors, and would render hazardous the transportation of troops along the line of our coasts and through the Gulf of Mexico.” Bulloch’s proposal to disguise raiders as merchantmen became a reality in the 20th century as a practice followed by European belligerents.

President Lincoln ended the blockade of Brownsville, Texas, and opened the port for trade.

20 Rear Admiral Dahlgren, greatly concerned by the loss of USS Housatonic, wrote in his diary: “The loss of the Housatonic troubles me very much….Torpedoes have been laughed at; but this disaster ends that.” The day before, he had written Secretary Welles urging that the Union develop and use torpedo boats to combat similar Confederate efforts. Under the impression that the submarine H.L. Hunley had been another “David” torpedo boat, the Admiral suggested “a large reward of prize money for the capture or destruction of a ‘David’. I should say not less than $20,000 or $30,000 for each. They are worth more than that to us.”

Rear Admiral Lee wrote Assistant Secretary of the Navy Fox about the blockade off Wilmington. He reported that “the number of blockade runners captured or destroyed since July 12, [is] 26, and since the blockade was strengthened last fall the number is 23 steamers lost to the trade…. I don’t believe that many prizes will be made hereafter; the runners now take to the beach too readily when they see a blockader by day or night…. I think the additions to the runners are less than the numbers destroyed, etc…. The blockade off Wilmington is the blockade of two widely separated entrances each requiring as much force as Charleston did if not more. Experience teaches that a mere inner line will not answer for blockading in this steam era. Now the blockaders are from 1 to 2 miles, and more, apart…. Wilmington and its entrances and adjacent inlets require more attention than all the rest of the coast. The depots at Bermuda and Nassau are tributary to it.” The Admiral also continued to urge an attack on Wilmington: “I long to cooperate with an army capable of investing Richmond or Wilmington, a la Vicksburg.”

21 Lieutenant-Commander Francis M. Ramsay off the mouth of the Red River reported that the water in the river was too low for three Confederate gunboats at Shreveport to get over the falls. This boded ill for the success of the Federals’ Red River expedition soon to be undertaken.

22 Secretary Mallory wrote Flag Officer Barron, CSN, in Paris: “If you could raise the blockade of Wilmington, an important service would thereby be rendered, a service which would enable neutrals to carry a great deal of cotton from that port…. A dash at the New England ports and commerce might be made very destructive and would be a heavy blow in the right direction. A few days’ cruising on the banks might inflict severe injury on the fisheries. The interception of the California steamers also offers good service…. Unless you determine to strike a blow which necessarily requires a combination of your force, it would be judicious to send the ships in opposite directions to distract the enemy in pursuit. It would be well, too, to give instructions looking to the occasional disguise and change of name of each vessel for the same purpose. Their advent upon the high seas will raise a howl throughout New England, and I trust it may be well founded. The destruction of a few ships off New York and Boston, Bath and Portland would raise insurance upon their coasting trade a hundred per cent above its present rates.” Mallory well recalled the profound effect Lieutenant Charles W. Read’s cruise in June 1863 had had on New England mercantile interests.

Tinclad USS Whitehead, Acting Master William N. Welles, ordered on an expedition up the Roanoke River by Lieutenant-Commander Flusser, destroyed a corn mill used by Confederate troops near Rainbow Bluff, North Carolina. Torpedoes were reported to be planted in the river above that point, which Flusser observed “would argue rather fear of our advance than an intention on their part to attack.” Flusser made this remark in the wake of repeatedly expressed concern over a rumored massive Confederate attack on Union positions in the sounds of North Carolina.

USS Virginia, Acting Lieutenant C. H. Brown, captured blockade running British schooner Henry Colthirst, off San Luis Pass, Texas, with a cargo of gunpowder, hardware, and provisions.

USS Linden, Acting Master Thomas M. Farrell, attempting to aid transport Ad. Hines, hit a snag in the Arkansas River and sank.

23 Rear Admiral C. H. Bell wrote Secretary Welles from USS Lancaster at Acapulco, Mexico: “Such is the present state of affairs at Acapulco that it is believed by both native and foreign populations that the presence of man-of-war alone prevented an attempt to sack and destroy the town by the Indians in the interior, encouraged by the governor, General Alvarez…. Far from the main theaters of the Civil War, a US naval vessel was carrying out the traditional mission of protecting American interests and keeping the peace.

24 USS Nita, Acting Lieutenant Robert B. Smith, chased blockade runner Nan-Nan ashore in the East Pass of Suwannee River, Florida. The steamer’s crew fired her to prevent her falling into Union hands, but part of Nan-Nan’s a cargo of cotton, thrown overboard during the chase, was recovered.

25 USS Roebuck, Acting Master Sherrill, seized blockade running British sloop Two Brothers in Indian River, Florida, with a cargo including salt, liquor, and nails.

26 While on night picket duty at Charleston harbor, a boat commanded by Acting Master’s Mate William H. Kitching, Jr., from USS Nipsic, was captured by a Confederate cutter from CSS Palmetto State. The Union boat encountered her captors in a thick fog and was unable to with-draw rapidly enough against the flood tide to escape. Kitching and his five crew members were taken prisoner and confined initially on board CSS Charleston near Fort Sumter.

26–27 Boat expedition under the command of Acting Master E. C. Weeks, USS Tahoma, destroyed a large salt works belonging to the Confederate government on Goose Creek, near St. Marks, Florida. As Rear Admiral Bailey noted in his report to Secretary Welles:…. the works to be destroyed were under the protection of a rebel cavalry company, whose pickets the expedition succeeded in eluding.”

27 USS Roebuck, Acting Master Sherrill, seized blockade running British sloop Nina with a cargo of liquors and coffee, and schooner Rebel with a cargo of salt, liquor, and cotton, at Indian River Inlet, Florida.

Lieutenant David Porter McCorkle, CSN, wrote Commander C. ap R. Jones relaying information he had received from Lieutenant Augustus McLaughlin of the Columbus, Georgia, naval station: “The Muscogee draws too much water; she has to be altered. It will be a long time before the Muscogee will be ready…. On 16 March the editor of the Columbus Enquirer bitterly in-vited the public to “take a stroll below the wharf to see how much money has been wasted on a slanting ‘dicular looking craft.” Muscogee, he said, looked like an ark, and “nothing short of a flood will float it.”

28 Lieutenant Minor, CSN, reporting on the progress being made on the ram CSS Albemarle, told Secretary Mallory:…. with the exception of some little connecting work to be completed [the ironclad] may be considered as ready. Steam will probably be raised on Friday next. The iron is all on the hull…. the carpenters are now bolting the first layers of plate on the shield, and as long as iron is available the work will progress. The Rudder is in place. Shell room and magazine prepared. Officer quarters arranged and berth deck ready for either hammocks if allowed the ship or bunks if the canvas cannot be obtained…. The ship is now afloat and when ready for service will I think draw between 7 to 8 feet…. The guns, carriages, and equip-ment have not yet arrived, but are expected on the 4th of March….” Albemarle was launched less than two months later, on 17 April.

USS Penobscot, Lieutenant-Commander Andrew F. K. Benham, seized British schooner Lilly attempting to run the blockade at Velasco, Texas, with a cargo of powder.

29 The US consular agent at Calais, France, sent Captain Winslow, USS Kearsarge, a detailed description of CSS Rappahannock, Lieutenant William P. A. Campbell, under the impression that she would soon attempt to begin a cruise on the high seas. Rappahannock had been purchased for the Confederacy in England by Commander Matthew Fontaine Maury the previous year and in November had been brought to Calais to continue necessary repairs. Late in January, Flag Officer Barron had instructed Campbell to rendezvous with CSS Georgia, Lieutenant William E. Evans, as soon as possible in order to transfer the latter’s guns to Rappahannock. Though Georgia subsequently made her way to the appointed place of rendezvous off Morocco, Rappahannock never left Calais, detained by want of crew members and the French Government. She did, however, serve the Confederacy as a depot for men and supplies intended for other ships.

Two boats from USS Monticello led by Lieutenant William B. Cushing landed at Confederate-held Smithville, North Carolina, at night to attempt the capture of General Louis Hebert. The daring Cushing found his way with three of his men to the General’s quarters in the middle of town and within fifty yards of the Confederate barracks. Cushing was disappointed to find that Hebert had gone to Wilmington earlier that day and instead reported to Rear Admiral Lee: “I send Captain Kelly, C.S. Army, to you, deeply regretting that the general was not in when I called.”

USS Penobscot, Lieutenant-Commander Benham, captured blockade running schooners Stingray and John Douglas with cargoes of cotton off Velasco, Texas.

USS Virginia, Acting Lieutenant C. H. Brown, captured Confederate schooner Camilla with a cargo of cotton off the coast at Galveston, Texas. The sloop Catherine Holt was also cap-tured with a cargo of cotton, but she went aground off San Luis Pass and was burned.

29-5 March Prior to the launching of the Red River campaign, Rear Admiral Porter ordered a naval reconnaissance expedition under Lieutenant-Commander Ramsay to ascend the Black and Ouachita Rivers, Louisiana. The force included paddle wheel monitor USS Osage and gunboats Ouachita, Lexington, Fort Hindman, Conestoga, and Cricket. Ramsay moved up the Black River and met with no resistance until late in the afternoon, 1 March, when Confederate sharpshooters took his ships under fire below Trinity. The gunboats countered with a hail of grape, canister, and shrapnel and steamed above the city before anchoring for the night. Next day Ram say’s vessels entered the Ouachita River and Osage, Acting Master Thomas Wright, suffered a casualty which disabled her turret. Below Harrisonburg, Louisiana, which the naval force shelled on 2 March, Confederate troops again opened fire on the naval force, centering their attention on Fort Hindman, which took 27 hits. One of them disabled Fort Hindman’s starboard engine and Ramsay dropped her back, transferring to Ouachita. She took 3 hits but suffered no serious damage, and the gun-boats silenced the Southern fire ashore. Ramsay proceeded as far as Catahoula Shoals and Bayou Louis without further incident. “I found plenty of water to enable me to proceed to Monroe,” Ramsay reported, “but the water was falling so fast I deemed it best to return. The gunboats returned to the mouth of the Red River on 5 March after spending the 3rd and 4th landing at var-ious places and capturing field pieces and cotton, briefly engaging Confederate troops once more.

MARCH

1 Commander George H. Preble, USS St. Louis, reported that CSS Florida, Lieutenant Morris, succeeded in getting to sea from Funchal, Madeira, where she had sailed after leaving Brest. Preble lamented: “Nelson said the want of frigates in his squadron would be found impressed on his heart. I am sure the want of steam will be found engraven on mine. Had the St. Louis been a steamer, I would have anchored alongside of her, and, unrestricted by the twenty-four hour rule, my old foe could not have escaped me.” St. Louis gave chase but could not come up with Florida. Had the crews of these sailing vessels been used to man newly built steamers, the pursuit of the Confederate cruisers might have been more successful.

USS Connecticut, Commander Almy, took blockade running British steamer Scotia with a cargo of cotton at sea off Cape Fear, North Carolina.

USS Roebuck, Acting Master Sherrill, seized blockade running British steamer Lauretta off Indian River Inlet, Florida, with a cargo of salt.

1-2 At the request of Brigadier General Henry W. Wessells, Lieutenant-Commander Flusser took double-ender USS Southfield and tinclad Whitehead up the Chowan River, North Carolina, to aid Army steamer Bombshell which had been cut off by Confederates above Petty Shore. Flusser had received reports earlier of Confederate torpedoes being planted at that point and concluded that he dared not attempt, with boats of such great draft to run by.” The gunboats were engaged by shore artillery as night fell, and, unable to fire effectively or navigate safely in the darkness, Flusser dropped down stream about a mile to await morning before continuing operations. On 2 March Southfield and Whitehead kept up a constant bombardment of the Confederate position to enable Bombshell to dash by, which the Army steamer finally did later in the day. It was subsequently learned that the shore batteries had been withdrawn shortly after the gunboats had opened on them in the morning.

2 Rear Admiral Porter, in anticipation of the proposed campaign into Louisiana and Texas, arrived off the mouth of the Red River to coordinate the movements of his Mississippi Squadron with those of the Army. Previous attempts to gain control of Texas by coastal assault had not suc-ceeded (see 8 September 1863), and a joint expedition up the Red River to Shreveport was decided upon. From there the Army would attempt to occupy Texas. Ten thousand men from Major-General W.T. Sherman’s army at Vicksburg would rendezvous with Major-General N.P. Banks’ army and Porter’s gunboats at Alexandria by 17 March. The naval forces would provide vital convoy and gunfire support up the river to Shreveport, where Major-General Frederick Steele was to join them from Little Rock. This date, however, Porter wrote Secretary Welles, advising him of an unforeseen development that cast dark shadows on the entire expedition: “I came down here anticipating a move on the part of the army up toward Shreveport, but as the river is lower than it has been known for years, I much fear that the combined movement can not come off, without interfering with plans formed by General Grant.” Porter was referring to the fact that the troops Sherman had detailed for the Red River campaign were committed to Grant after 10 April for his spring campaign. To wait for a rise in the river, Porter feared, would mean failure to meet that deadline; however, to ascend the river at its present stage would also jeopardize the large scale movement. Porter nevertheless pushed swiftly ahead to ready his squadron for the operation.

Rear Admiral Farragut wrote his son Loyall about his recent sighting of the Confederate ram Tennessee, commenting that “she is very long, and I thought moved very slowly.” Nevertheless, this heavily armored and well-fought ship was to prove a formidable opponent for the Admiral’s squadron in Mobile Bay.

USS Dan Smith, Acting Master Benjamin C. Dean, seized blockade running British schooner Sophia stranded in Altamaha Sound, Georgia, with an assorted cargo. Sophia was subsequently lost at sea in a heavy gale which disabled her and forced her abandonment on 8 May 1864 by Acting Ensign Paul Armandt and the prize crew.

4 British authorities instructed the Governor of the Cape of Good Hope, Sir Philip E. Wodehouse, to restore CSS Tuscaloosa to Confederate authorities. Tuscaloosa had been captured under the name Conrad by Captain Semmes in CSS Alabama on 20 June 1863 and sent on a cruise under Lieutenant John Low, CSN. On 26 December Tuscaloosa had put into Simon’s Bay, Cape of Good Hope, after searching for Union merchantmen off the coast of Brazil. The next day the Governor had the bark seized for violating neutrality laws because she had never been properly adjudicated in a prize court. Low promptly protested on the grounds that he had previously entered Simon’s Bay in August, at which time his ship took on supplies and effected repairs “with the full knowl-edge and sanction of the authorities.” No protest had been made by the Governor at that time. Unsuccessfully seeking for more than three weeks the release of his ship, Low paid off his crew and with Acting Midshipman William H. Sinclair made his way to Liverpool, where he arrived late in February. The reversal of Governor Wodehouse’s action was accounted for by the “pe-culiar circumstances of the case. The Tuscaloosa was allowed to enter the port of Cape Town, and to depart, the instructions of the 4th of November not having arrived at the Cape before her de-parture. The captain of the Alabama was thus entitled to assume that…. [Low] might equally bring…. [Tuscaloosa] a second time into the same harbor…. The decision, however, came too late for the Confederates. Tuscaloosa was never reclaimed by the South and was eventually turned over to the Union. Semmes later said of the incident: “Besides embalming the beauti-ful name ‘Tuscaloosa’ in history this prize-ship settled the law point I had been so long contesting with Mr. Seward and Mr. Adams, to wit: that ‘one nation cannot inquire into the antecedents of the ships of war of another nation;’ and consequently that when the Alabama escaped from British waters and was commissioned, neither the United States nor Great Britain could object to her status as a ship of war.”

Captain Semmes wrote in his journal: “My ship is weary, too, as well as her commander, and will need a general overhauling by the time I can get her into dock. If my poor service shall be deemed of any importance in harassing and weakening the enemy, and thus contributing to the independence of my beloved South, I shall be amply rewarded.” It was her need for upkeep and repairs that three and a half months later brought her under the guns of USS Kearsarge off Cherbourg, France.

USS Pequot, Lieutenant-Commander Stephen P. Qackenbush, seized blockade running British steamer Don at sea east of Fort Fisher, North Carolina, with a cargo including Army shoes, blankets, and clothing. Captain Cory, master of the steamer, reported that he had made nine attempts to run into Wilmington during his career but had succeeded only four times.

5 Commander John Taylor Wood, CSN, led an early morning raid on the Union-held telegraph station at Cherrystone Point, Virginia. After crossing Chesapeake Bay at night with some 15 men in open barges, Wood landed and seized the station. Small Union Army steamers Aeolus and Titan, unaware that the station was in enemy hands, put into shore and each was captured by the daring Southerners. Wood then destroyed the telegraph station and surrounding warehouses, and disabled and bonded Aeolus before boarding Titan and steaming up the Piankatank River as far as possible. A joint Army-Navy expedition to recapture her was quickly organized, but Wood evaded USS Currituck and Tulip in the still early morning haze. A force of five gunboats under Commander F.A. Parker followed the Confederates up the river on the 7th, where Titan was found destroyed by Wood, “together with a number of large boats prepared for a raid.”

Acting Master Thomas McElroy, commanding USS Petrel, reported a Confederate attack on Yazoo City. Heavy gunfire support by Petrel and USS Marmora, Acting Master Thomas Gibson, helped drive the Confederate troops off. In addition, McElroy wrote, I am proud to say that the Navy was well represented [ashore] by 3 sailors, who…. stood by their guns through the whole action, fighting hand to hand to save the gun and the reputation of the Navy. The sailors are highly spoken of by the army officers.

6 A Confederate “David” torpedo boat commanded by First Assistant Engineer Tomb, CSN, attacked USS Memphis, Acting Master Robert O. Patterson, in the North Edisto River near Charleston. The “David” was sighted some 50 yards to port and a heavy volley of musket fire directed at her, but Tomb held his small craft on course. The spar torpedo containing 95 pounds of powder was thrust squarely against Memphis’ port quarter, about eight feet below the waterline, but failed to explode. Tomb turned away and renewed the attack on the starboard quarter. Again the torpedo struck home, but this time only a glancing blow because Memphis was now underway. The two vessels collided, damaging the “David”, and Tomb withdrew under heavy fire. The faulty torpedo had prevented the brave Tomb from adding an 800-ton iron steamer to a growing list of victims.

USS Morse, Lieutenant-Commander Babcock, ascended the York River, Virginia, at the Army’s request to assist a Union cavalry detachment under the command of Colonel Ulric Dahlgren, son of the Navy’s famous Admiral. From Purtan Island Point Morse, a converted ferryboat, was slowed by the necessity of sweeping the river in front of the ship for torpedoes. Anchoring for the night off Terrapin Point, the gunboat continued upriver next morning and fired signal guns to attract the attention of the cavalry. Off Brick House Farm a boat carrying five cavalry-men put out to Morse. They reported that the Union force had been cut off and captured by a greatly superior Confederate unit of cavalry and infantry. Young Dahlgren, who had lost a leg at Gettysburg, was killed in the engagement. His grief-stricken father wrote in his diary, “How busy is death-oh, how busy indeed!”

Major-General W.T. Sherman appointed Brigadier General Andrew J. Smith to command the forces of his Army in the Red River expedition. He directed Smith: “…. proceed to the mouth of the Red River and confer with Admiral Porter; confer with him and in all the expedition rely on him implicitly, as he is the approved friend of the Army of the Tennessee, and has been as-sociated with us from the beginning….” Long months of arduous duty together in the west had forged a close bond between Sherman and Porter.

USS Grand Gulf, Commander George M. Ransom, captured blockade running British steamer Mar Ann which had run out of Wilmington with a cargo of cotton and tobacco.

USS Peterhoff, Acting Lieutenant Thomas Pickering, was run into by USS Monticello and sunk off New Inlet, North Carolina. The following day, USS Mount Vernon destroyed Peter-hoff to prevent possible salvage by the Confederates.

8 USS Conestoga, Lieutenant-Commander Thomas O. Selfridge, was rammed by USS General Price, Lieutenant J. E. Richardson, about ten miles below Grand Gulf, Mississippi and sank in four minutes with the loss of two crew members. The collision resulted from a confusion in whistle signals on board General Price. Lieutenant-Commander Selfridge, who achieved a conspicuously successful record in the war, had singularly bad luck in having his ships sunk under him. He commented later in his memoirs: “Thus for the third time in the war, I had my ship suddenly sunk under me. It is a strange coincidence that the names of these three ships all begin with the letter ‘C’, and that two of these disasters occurred on the 8th day of March; the other on the 12th of December.” Selfridge had been on board USS Cumberland during her engagement with CSS Virginia in Hampton Roads on 8 March 1862, and had commanded USS Cairo when she was struck by a torpedo and sank instantly in the Yazoo River on 12 December 1862. Admiral Porter, upon hearing the young officer’s report on the sinking of Conestoga, replied: “Well, Selfridge, you do not seem to have much luck with the top of the alphabet. I think that for your next ship I will try the bottom.” Thus Lieutenant-Commander Selfridge took command of the paddle wheel monitor USS Osage, and, after she grounded in the Red River, was sent as captain of the new gunboat USS Vindicator further down the alphabet.

USS Virginia, Acting Lieutenant C. H. Brown, captured blockade running sloop Randall off San Luis Pass, Texas.

9 Rear Admiral Porter directed Lieutenant-Commander James A. Greer, USS Benton, to advise him as soon as General Sherman’s troops were sighted coming down river on transports. The Admiral wanted to move quickly upon the arrival of the troops in order to meet Major-General Banks at Alexandria on 17 March. Porter had gathered his gunboats at the month of the Red River for the move. They included ironclads USS Essex, Benton, Choctaw, Chillicothe, Ozark, Louisville, Carondelet, East port, Pittsburg, Mound City, Osage, and Neosho; large wooden steamers Lafayette and Ouachita; and small paddle-wheelers Lexington, Fort Hindman, Cricket, and Gazelle.

Confederate Secretary of War James A. Seddon authorized Thomas E. Courtenay to employ “a band of men, not exceeding twenty-five in number, for secret service against the enemy.

For the destruction of property of the enemy or injury done, a percentage shall be paid in 4 per cent bonds, in no case to exceed 50 per cent of the loss to the enemy, and to be awarded by such officer or officers as shall be charged with such duty…. The waters and railroads of the Confederate States used by the enemy are properly the subjects and arenas of operations….” Courtenay had aided in the development of the coal torpedo (see 19 January 1864).

USS Shokokon, Morse, and General Putnam, under Lieutenant-Commander Babcock, convoyed an Army expedition up the York and Mattapony Rivers. After disembarking troops from the transports, Babcock remained at Sheppard’s Landing throughout the 10th as requested by Brigadier General Isaac J. Wistar. Then the naval force withdrew downriver, arriving at Yorktown on the 12th. While enroute on the 11th, Babcock met a naval force under Acting Lieutenant Edward Hooker of the Potomac Flotilla and arranged for him to “keep a vigilant lookout for our forces, and also prevent any rebels from crossing from the mouth of the Piankatank River to Mosquito Point on the Rappahannock.” As Rear Admiral Lee wrote:…. the naval part of the expedition was well arranged and executed.”

USS Yankee, Acting Lieutenant Hooker, reconnoitered the Rappahannock River to within a mile of Urbanna, Virginia. “We learned,” he reported to Commander F. A. Parker, “that there is now no force of any importance at or near Urbanna, although the presence of troops a short time ago was confirmed.” Two days later, “Major-General Butler having requested me to ‘watch the Rappahannock from 10 miles below Urbanna to its mouth,’ ” Parker directed Hooker to “lend such assistance…. as you can…. Continuing operations in the river by the Union Navy tended to deny to the Confederates use of the inland waters for even marginal logistic support of their operations. This decisive function of seapower was just as valid on the inland waters as on the high sea.

10 Confederate steamer Helen, commanded by Lieutenant Philip Porcher, CSN, was lost at sea in a gale while running a cargo of cotton from Charleston to Nassau. Secretary Mallory wrote that Porcher “was one of the most efficient officers of the service, and his loss is deeply deplored.”

USS Virginia, Acting Lieutenant C. H. Brown, captured schooner Sylphide off San Luis Pass, Texas, with a cargo including percussion caps.

11 USS Aroostook, Lieutenant-Commander Chester Hatfield, captured blockade-running British schooner Mary P. Burton in the Gulf of Mexico south of Velasco, Texas, with a cargo of iron and shot.

Boats under Acting Ensign Henry B. Colby, from USS Beauregard, and Acting Master George Delap, from USS Norfolk Packet, seized British schooner Linda at Mosquito Inlet, Florida, with a cargo including salt, liquor, and coffee.

USS San Jacinto, Commander James F. Armstrong, captured schooner Lealtad, which had run the blockade at Mobile with a cargo of cotton and turpentine.

Schooner Julia Baker was boarded by Confederate guerrilla forces near Newport News, Virginia. After taking $2,500 in cash and capturing the master and five men, the boarders burned the schooner.

USS Beauregard, Acting Master Francis Burgess, captured blockade running British sloop Hannah off Mosquito Inlet, Florida, with a cargo of cotton cloth.

12 Rear Admiral Porter’s gunboats moved up the Red River, Louisiana, to open the two month operation aimed at obtaining a lodgement across the border in Texas. USS East port, Lieutenant-Commander Samuel L. Phelps, pushed ahead to remove the obstructions in the river below Fort De Russy, followed by ironclads USS Choctaw, Essex, Ozark, Osage, and Neosho and wooden steamers Lafayette, Fort Hindman, and Cricket. Porter took ironclads USS Benton, Chillicothe, Louisville, Pittsburg, and Mound City and wooden paddlewheelers Ouachita, Lexington, and Gazelle into the Atchafalaya River to cover the Army landing at Simmesport. A landing party from Benton, Lieutenant-Commander Greer, drove back Confederate pickets prior to the arrival of the trans-ports. Next morning, 13 March, the soldiers disembarked and pursued the Confederates falling back on Fort De Russy. Meanwhile, Eastport and the gunboats which had continued up the Red River reached the obstructions which the Southerners had taken five months to build. ‘They supposed it impassable,” Porter observed, “but our energetic sailors with hard work opened a passage in a few hours.” East port and Neosho passed through and commenced bombarding Fort De Russy as the Union troops began their assault on the works; by the 14th it was in Union hands. Porter wrote: “The surrender of the forts at Point De Russy is of much more importance than I at first supposed. The rebels had depended on that point to stop any advance of army or navy into rebeldom. Large quantities of ammunition, best engineers, and best troops were sent there.

USS Columbine, Acting Ensign Francis W. Sanborn, supporting an Army movement up the St. Johns River, Florida, captured Confederate river steamer General Sumter. Acting Master John C. Champion, commanding a launch from USS Pawnee which was in company with tug Columbine, took command of the prize, and the two vessels pushed on up the St. John’s, reaching Lake Monroe on the 14th. That afternoon the naval force captured steamer Hattie at Deep Creek. The expedition continued for the next few days, destroying a Southern sugar refinery and proceeding to Palatka, where the Army was taking up a fortified position.

USS Aroostook, Lieutenant-Commander Hatfield, captured schooner Marion near Velasco, Texas, with a cargo of salt and iron. Marion sank in a gale off Galveston on the 14th.

USS Massachusetts, Acting Lieutenant William H. West, captured sloop Persis in Wassaw Sound, Georgia, with a cargo of cotton.

15 After ordering ironclads USS Benton and Essex to remain at Fort De Russy in support of the Army detachment engaged in destroying the works, Rear Admiral Porter convoyed the main body of troops up the Red River toward Alexandria, Louisiana. Porter dispatched USS East port, Lex-ington, and Ouachita ahead to try to overtake the Confederate vessels seeking to escape above the Alexandria rapids. The Confederate ships were too far ahead, however, and the Union gunboats arrived at the rapids half an hour behind them. Confederate steamer Countess grounded in her hasty attempt to get upstream and was destroyed by her crew to prevent capture.

USS Nyanza, Acting Lieutenant Samuel B. Washburn, captured schooner J. W. Wilder in the Atchafalaya River, Louisiana.

16 Lieutenant-Commander Flusser reported to Rear Admiral Lee on information reaching him regard-ing the Confederates’ progress in completing CSS Albemarle on the Roanoke River, North Carolina. The ram was reported to have two layers of iron and to be ready to proceed to Williamston on 1 April. Two days later Flusser again wrote Lee, informing him that he had just heard the rumor that Albemarle was to have 7 inches of plating. “I think,” he observed, “the reporters are putting on the iron rather heavy. I am inclined to believe her armor is not more than stated in one of my former letters-3 inches.” Albemarle actually carried two layers of 2-inch armor. By 24 March Flusser reported that intelligence, “which would seem reliable,” indicated that the ironclad ram was at Hamilton and that the torpedoes placed by the Confederates in the Roanoke River below Williamston were being removed to permit her passage downstream.

Nine Union vessels had arrived at Alexandria, Louisiana, by morning and a landing party under Lieutenant-Commander Selfridge, USS Osage, occupied the town prior to the arrival of Rear Admiral Porter and the troops. At Alexandria, Porter’s gunboats and the soldiers awaited the arrival of Major-General Banks’ Army, which was delayed by heavy rains.

Rear Admiral James L. Lardner, commander of the West Indies Squadron, ordered USS Neptune, Commander Joseph P. Sanford, and USS Galatea, Commander John Guest, to convoy Cali-fornia steamers operating in the Caribbean. This was a measure designed to protect the merchant ships, which often carried quantities of vital Union gold, from the highly regarded Confederate cruisers.

18 Lieutenant General F. Kirby Smith, CSA, ordered steamer New Falls City taken to Scopern’s Cut-off, below Shreveport on the Red River, where she was to be sunk if the Union movement threatened that far upriver. Next day the General directed that thirty torpedoes be placed below Grand Ecore to obstruct the Red River. An officer from CSS Missouri was detailed for this duty. General Smith’s foresight would shortly pay dividends, for the hulk of New Falls City did block the way of the Union gunboats and USS Eastport was to be severely damaged by a torpedo.

20 Arriving off Capetown, South Africa, Captain Semmes, CSS Alabama, noted that there were no Union cruisers in the vicinity, though he was well aware that many had been dispatched from Northern ports to capture him. He recalled later: “That huge old coal-box, the Vanderbilt, having thought it useless to pursue us farther, had turned back, and was now probably doing a more profitable business, by picking up blockade-runners on the American coast. This opera-tion paid-the Captain might grow rich upon it. Chasing the Alabama did not.”

USS Honeysuckle, Acting Ensign Sears, captured blockade running sloop Florida in the Gulf of Mexico west of Florida, with a cargo of powder, shot, nails, and coffee.

USS Tioga, Lieutenant-Commander Edward Y. McCauley, captured blockade running sloop Swallow, bound from the Combahee River, South Carolina, to Nassau, laden with cotton, rosin, and tobacco.

Lieutenant Charles C. Simms, CSS Baltic, wrote Commander C. ap R. Jones that naval constructor John L. Porter “has made a very unfavorable report on the condition of the ship [Baltic] and recommended that the iron be taken from her and put upon one of the new boats that were built…. Between you and I [sic] the Baltic is rotten as punk and is about as fit to go into action as a mud scow.” By July Baltic had been dismantled and her armor transferred to CSS Nashville.

21 Confederate forces at Sabine Pass, Texas, destroyed steamer Clifton (ex-USS Clifton, see 8 Septem-ber 1863) to prevent her capture by blockading Union naval forces. The 900-ton Clifton had been attempting to run out of the Texas port when she grounded and could not be floated.

USS Hendrick Hudson, Lieutenant-Commander Charles J. McDougal, rammed blockade runner Wild Pigeon, hound from Havana to the Florida coast she struck Wild Pigeon amidships and the schooner sank immediately.

Confederate Secretary Mallory wrote Commander Bulloch in Europe disagreeing with Bulloch’s conclusion that the Confederacy needed no additional cruisers since… there is no longer any American commerce for them to prey upon.” Mallory countered “We have, it is true, inflicted a heavy blow and great discouragement upon the Federal foreign commerce, but the coasting trade and fisheries, embracing the California trade, has suffered but little from our cruisers, and it can and must be struck.”

24 A closely coordinated Army-Navy expedition departed Beaufort, North Carolina, on board side-wheel steamer USS Britannia. Some 200 soldiers were commanded by Colonel James Jourdan, while about 50 sailors from USS Keystone State, Florida, and Cambridge were in charge of Commander Benjamin M. Dove. The aim of the expedition was the capture or destruction of two schooners used in blockade running at Swansboro, North Carolina, and the capture of a Confederate army group on the south end of Bogue Island Banks. Arriving off Bogue Inlet late at night, the expedition encountered high winds and heavy seas which prevented landing on the beach. Early on the morning of the 25th, a second attempt was made under similarly difficult conditions, but a party got through to Bear Creek where one of the schooners was burned. Bad weather persisted throughout the day and the expedition eventually returned to Beaufort on the 26th with its mission only partially completed.

Rear Admiral Porter reported that his forces had seized more than 2,000 bales of cotton, as well as quantities of molasses and wool, since entering the Red River.

USS Stonewall, Master Henry B. Carter, captured sloop Josephine in Sarasota Sound, Florida, with a cargo of cotton.

25 USS Peosta, Acting Lieutenant Thomas E. Smith, and USS Paw Paw, Acting Lieutenant A. Frank O’Neil, engaged Confederate troops who had launched a heavy assault on Northern positions at Paducah, Kentucky. Under the wooden gunboats’ fire the Southerners were halted and finally forced to withdraw. The value of the force afloat was recognized by Brigadier General Mason Brayman, who later wrote of the action: “I wish to state during my short period of service here the Navy has borne a conspicuous part in all operations. The Peosta, Captain Smith, and Paw Paw, Captain O’Neil, joined Colonel Hicks at Paducah, and with gallantry equal to his own shelled the rebels out of the buildings from which their sharpshooters annoyed our troops. A large number took shelter in heavy warehouses near the river and maintained a furious fire upon the gunboats, inflicting some injury, but they were promptly dislodged and the build-ings destroyed. Fleet Captain Pennock, of the Mississippi Squadron, representing Admiral Porter in his absence, and Lieutenant-Commander Shirk, of the Seventh Division, who had charge above Cairo and on the Tennessee, were prompt, vigilant, and courageous and cooperated in everything. That the river line was kept open, considering the inadequate force at my control, I regard as due in a great degree to the cooperation of the Navy.”

Close cooperation and support between land and sea forces continued to mark Northern efforts in the Civil War. On 21 March, Major-General Quincy A. Gillmore wrote Commodore Stephen C. Rowan that, though the Army had five steam transports operating in the vicinity of Port Royal on picket duty and as transports, he had “no officer possessing sufficient experience to properly outfit and command such vessels. My steamboat masters are citizens, and know nothing of artillery. My artillery officers are not sailors, and are not acquainted with naval gunnery.” The General thus requested that an officer from the blockading squadron be assigned to assist the Army in this regard. “It would,” Gillmore wrote, “be of advantage to this army….” This date, Rowan, temporarily commanding the naval forces in the absence of Rear Admiral Dahlgren, ordered Acting Ensign William C. Hanford to assist the General as requested.

Secretary Welles called President Lincoln’s attention to the scarcity of seamen in ships afloat and suggested the transfer of 12,000 men from the Army to the Navy. The transfer was later effected as a result of a bill sponsored by Senator Grimes of Iowa.

Lieutenant-Commander Babcock, USS Morse, submitted a report to Rear Admiral Lee on all the Confederate material seized by his ship between 1 and 12 February on the York River. He wrote that the articles included a small schooner, a sloop, corn, wheat, oats, salt, tobacco, plows, a cultivator, plow points, plow shares, and molding boards. Seemingly inconsequential in them-selves, these articles lost were multiplied manyfold by the ceaseless efforts of the Navy in river and coastal waters; it was their steady attrition which was so sorely felt by Confederate fight-ing men and civilians alike.

A boat expedition under Acting Master Edward H. Sheffield from USS Winona, Lieutenant-Commander A. W. Weaver, after making extensive reconnaissance of the area, captured blockade runner Little Ada loading cotton at McClellansville in the South Santee River, South Carolina. As Union sailors sought to bring the prize out, Confederate artillery opened on the vessel with devastating accuracy. The attack by Sheffield, carried on deep in Confederate-held territory, had begun in darkness, but as It was now fully light, the riddled prize had to be quickly abandoned to prevent capture of the boarding party.

Major-General Banks arrived at Alexandria- a week later than originally planned. The main force of the Red River expedition was now assembled.

28 The versatility of Union gunboat crews was continually tested. Crewmen from USS Benton, Lieutenant-Commander Greer, had gone ashore the 27th near Fort De Russy and taken some 13 bales of cotton from an abandoned plantation. They returned this date, Greer reported, and got 18 bales from the same place, which they baled themselves, using up an old awning for the purpose.

Secretary Welles ordered Commander John C. Carter to have USS Michigan “prepared for active service as soon as the ice will permit.” Michigan, an iron side-wheel steamer, was at Erie, Pennsylvania, and it was rumored that the Confederates were planning a naval raid from Canada against a city on the Great Lakes.

USS Kingfisher, Acting Master John C. Dutch, ran aground and was totally wrecked in St. Helena Sound, South Carolina.

29 The low level of the Red River continued to hinder Rear Admiral Porter’s efforts to get his gun-boats above the rapids at Alexandria for the assault on Shreveport. He reported: “After a great deal of labor and two and a half days’ hard work, we succeeded in getting the Eastport over the rocks on the falls, hauling her over by main force…. ‘ All the Army transports maneuvered safely above the rapids, but hospital ship Woodford was battered against the rocks and sank. Porter added: “I shall only be able to take up I part of the force I brought with me, and leave the river guarded all the way through.”

CSS Florida, Lieutenant Morris, at 150o11′ N, 34o25′ W, captured ship Avon with a 1,600 ton a cargo of guano. After removing the crew, Morris used the prize for gunnery practice and finally destroyed her by burning.

29-30 A boat expedition under the command of Acting Master James M. Williams, USS Commodore Barney, with a detachment of sailors under the command of Acting Master Charles B. Wilder, USS Minnesota, ascended Chuckatuck Creek late at night seeking to capture a party of Con-federate troops reported to be in that vicinity. After landing at Cherry Grove, Virginia, shortly before dawn, the sailors silently surrounded the Confederate headquarters and took 20 prisoners. Rear Admiral Lee reported to Secretary Welles that”…. it gives me pleasure to commend the energy and zeal displayed by these officers in planning and carrying out to a successful termina-tion an expedition of no little difficulty.”

30 Captain John B. Marchand, commanding the Third Division of the Western Gulf Blockading Squadron, reported to Fleet Captain Percival Drayton on the difficulty of trying to maintain a tight blockade through the passes and inlets around Galveston: “This place has great advantages for blockade running, as, in addition to the regular channels, the shores, both to the northward and southward, are represented to be bold. I have been credibly informed that good large schooners have hugged the shore so close as to be dragged along for miles by lines from the land by soldiers and sailors into Galveston.”

31 A boat crew under the command of Acting Master’s Mate Francisco Silva, returned to USS Sagamore after destroying two blockade running schooners near Cedar Keys, Florida. Three boats had initiated the search for a blockade runner sighted on the 28th, but two had turned back after an unsuccessful search of nearly six hours, as night was falling and the weather threatening. Silva, however, continued to search for the next two days”…. with heavy rain squalls and an ugly sea running.” Despite the adverse conditions, Silva succeeded in destroying schooner Etta and a second schooner whose name could not be ascertained. Blockade duty was seldom highly dramatic or widely publicized, but the resolute determination of the forces afloat to choke off Confederate commerce took a prohibitive toll of Southern shipping and kept the Confederacy in a constant state of need.

APRIL 1864

1 Army transport Maple Leaf, returning from carrying troops to Palatka, Florida, was destroyed by a Confederate torpedo in the St. John’s River. She was one of several victims in this river which on 30 March the Southerners had mined with twelve floating torpedoes, each containing 70 pounds of powder. On 16 April Army transport General Hunter was similarly destroyed at almost the same place near Mandarin Point. Confederate torpedoes continued to play an increasing role in the defense of rivers and harbors. As Major-General Patton Anderson, CSA, noted, the torpedoes “taught him [the Northerner] to be cautious in the navigation of our waters.”

Secretary Welles wrote Rear Admiral C. H. Bell expressing concern that Confederate raiders would strike at the California trade. Intelligence had been received suggesting as a destina-tion ”for the Florida and Georgia the straits of Le Maire, between the island of Tierra del Fuego and Staten Island, through which…. nine out of every ten California-bound ships pass, in plain sight from either shore…. the protection of the land in these straits is such that the rebel steamers could lie almost obscured and in comparatively smooth water…. while escape [by] merchantmen would be impossible.”

During the last year of the war on the Mississippi bands of Confederate guerrillas kept up their efforts to surprise and destroy Union gunboats isolated on patrol duty. This date the Secretary of War forwarded to Secretary Welles a captured letter written by Confederate Navy Secretary Mallory about the plans of guerrillas. Welles relayed the information next day to Rear Admiral Porter.

3 As Major-General Banks began his preliminary deployments for the Red River campaign, iron-clads USS East port, Mound City, Osage, Ozark, Neosho, Chillicothe, Pittsburg, and Louisville and steamers Fort Hindman, Lexington, and Cricket convoyed Major-General A. J. Smith’s corps from Alexandria to Grand Ecore, Louisiana. The troops disembarked (with the exception of a division under Brigadier General T. Kilby Smith) and marched to join Banks at Natchitoches for the overland assault on Shreveport, to be supported by ships of the Mississippi Squadron.

4 USS Sciota, Lieutenant-Commander Perkins, captured schooner Mary Sorly attempting to run the blockade at Galveston with a cargo of cotton. She had previously been US Revenue Cutter Dodge, seized by the Confederates at Galveston at the war’s outbreak.

5 The naval force in the St. John’s River, Florida, under Commander Balch continued to patrol the river and convoy Army operations as it had for a month. On 4 April Union troops evacuated Palatka in accord with a general troop movement northward, but USS Ottawa, Lieutenant-Commander Breese, which had protected the soldiers there, remained in the river, moving to Picolata “where some two regiments are stationed.” USS Pawnee, Commander Balch, remained on duty at Jacksonville, while double-ender USS Mahaska, Lieutenant-Commander Robert F. Lewis, and wooden screw steamers USS Unadilla, Lieutenant-Commander James Stillwell, and USS Norwich, Acting Master Frank B. Meriam, continued to convoy troops on the river. This date, Brigadier General John P. Hatch summed up the vital contributions made by the Navy in controlling the inland waterways: “…. I consider it very important, I may say necessary, that the naval force should be retained here as a patrol of the river, to aid us in the event of an attack, and to cover the landing of troops at other points…. The length of the river now occupied (100 miles) requires for its thorough patrol a naval force of the size of the present squadron.”

Late in March, Union forces at Plymouth, North Carolina, had sunk hulks, some with percussion torpedoes attached, to obstruct the Roanoke River and provide additional defense against “the ironclad up this river.” Lieutenant-Commander Flusser, reporting another of the rumors which were circulating freely regarding the Confederate ironclad ram Albemarle, wrote Rear Admiral Lee that the large ship was said to be of such light draft “that she may pass over our obstructions in the river without touching them.” The draft of Albemarle, approximately nine feet, had been reported by Flusser on 27 March as being “6 to 8 feet’ –according to a carpenter who had worked on her.

6 Secretary Mallory wrote Flag Officer Barron in Paris regarding the possible operations of ships being fitted out in France: “If the vessels about to get to sea can be united with the two you sent off [CSS Florida and Georgia], they might strike a blow at the enemy off Wilmington, during the summer, and then separate to meet for a blow at another point. I commend the light infantry system to your judgment. An invited clash at a point north heretofore indicated to you, then a separation for a reunion and dash at a second point, and a second separation for a third one, etc., with the intervals sufficient to draw the enemy’s attention to distant chasing, would produce very important results.” While Mallory’s reasoning was sound in proposing such a hit-and-run cruise, it was not to happen. CSS Florida would be captured before year’s end; Georgia would soon be sold; and Rappahannock, like the ironclads contracted for in France, would never take to the high seas under the Confederate flag.

USS Estrella, Lieutenant-Commander Augustus P. Cooke, captured mail schooner Julia A. Hodges in Matagorda Bay, Texas.

7 Rear Admiral Porter detailed Lieutenant-Commander Phelps to remain in command of the heavier gunboats at Grand Ecore while he personally continued to advance up the Red River toward Shreveport with ironclads USS Osage, Neosho, and Chillicothe and wooden steamers Fort Hindman, Lexington and Cricket. The Admiral hoped to bring up the remaining gunboats if the water level began to rise.

USS Beauregard, Acting Master Edward C. Healy, seized blockade running British schooner Spunky near Cape Canaveral, Florida, with an assorted cargo.

9 Confederate torpedo boat Squib, Lieutenant Hunter Davidson, successfully exploded a spar torpedo against large steam frigate USS Minnesota, Lieutenant-Commander John H. Upshur, off Newport News, Virginia. Squib was described by Acting Master John A. Curtis, second in command of the torpedo boat, as being constructed of wood, “about thirty-five feet long, five feet wide, drew three feet of water, two feet freeboard designed by Hunter Davidson…. The boiler and engine were encased with iron; forward of the boiler was the cockpit, where the crew stood and from where we steered her.” The attack, described by a Northern naval officer observer as “a deed as daring as it was vicious”, took place about two o’clock in the morning. The officer of the deck saw a small boat 150 to 200 yards off, just forward of the port beam. To his hail, the Confeder-ates replied “Roanoke.” Acting Ensign James Birtwistle ordered her to stay clear. Davidson answered “aye, aye!” Although Birtwistle could discern no visible means of propulsion, the small Confederate boat continued to close Minnesota rapidly. Minnesota attempted to open fire, but, the distance between the two being so slight, her gun could not be brought to bear. Squib rammed her powder charge of more than 50 pounds into the blockader’s port quarter. The log of Min-nesota recorded: “…. a tremendous explosion followed.” Curtis wrote that he closed his eyes at the moment of impact, “opening them in about a second, I think, I never beheld such a sight before, nor since. The air was filled with port shutters and water from the explosion, and the heavy ship was rolling to starboard, and the officer of the deck giving orders to save yourselves and cried out ‘Torpedo, torpedo!'”

Little damage resulted, though “the shock was quite severe.” Nevertheless, as Secretary Mallory later said of the attack: “The cool daring, professional skill, and judgement exhibited by Lieutenant Davidson in this hazardous enterprise merit high commendation and confer honor upon a service of which he is a member.” As the blockader reeled under the blow, the fate of the seven Southerners was gravely imperiled, for Squib was sucked under the port quarter. As Min-nesota rolled back to port, however, Curtis reported, “the pressure of the water shoved us off.” But so close aboard her adversary did she remain that Curtis leaped on the torpedo boat’s forward deck and pushed against Minnesota to get the small craft clear. Squib escaped under heavy musket fire. Union tug Poppy did not have steam up and could not pursue the torpedo boat, which with-drew safely up the James River. Davidson, a pioneer in torpedo warfare, was promoted to Commander for his “gallant and meritorious conduct.”

The concern caused by the attack on Minnesota, coming as it did shortly after the Confederate submarine H. L. Hunley had sunk USS Housatonic, was widespread. William Winthrop, United States Consul at Malta, wrote assistant Secretary of State Frederick W. Seward concerning precautions recommended for the future. “In these days of steam and torpedoes, you may rest assured that outlying picket boats and a steam tug at all hours ready to move are not sufficient protection for our ships of war, where a squadron is at anchor. They require something more, and this should be in having their own boats rowing round all night, so that in a measure every ship should protect itself. If this precaution be not taken, any vessel in a dark and foggy night could be blown out of the water, even while a watchful sentry on board might still have his cry of ‘All’s well’ yet on his lips as the fiendish act was accomplished.”

10 Steaming toward Shreveport, Rear Admiral Porter’s gunboats and the Army transports arrived at Springfield Landing, Louisiana, where further progress was halted by Confederate ingenuity, which Porter later described to Major-General W. T. Sherman: “When I arrived at Springfield Landing I found a sight that made me laugh. It was the smartest thing I ever knew the rebels to do. They had gotten that huge steamer, New Falls City, across Red River, 1 mile above Loggy Bayou, 15 feet of her on shore on each side, the boat broken down in the middle, and a sand bar making below her. An invitation in large letters to attend a ball in Shreveport was kindly left stuck up by the rebels, which invitation we were never able to accept.” Before this obstruc-tion could be removed, word arrived from Major-General Banks of his defeat at the Battle of Sabine Cross-Roads near Grand Ecore and retreat toward Pleasant Mill. The transports and troops of Brigadier General T.K. Smith were ordered to return to the major force and join Banks. The high tide of the Union’s Red River campaign had been reached. From this point, with falling water level and increased Confederate shore fire, the gunboats would face a desperate battle to avoid being trapped above the Alexandria rapids.

11 USS Nita, Lieutenant Robert B. Smith, captured blockade runner Three Brothers at the mouth of the Homosassa River, Florida, with an assorted cargo.
USS Virginia, Acting Lieutenant C. H. Brown, captured blockade runner Juanita off San Luis Pass, Texas. However, on 13 April she went aground, was recaptured, and the prize crew, under Acting Ensign N.A. Blume, was taken prisoner.

12 As Rear Admiral Porter’s gunboats and Brigadier General T.K. Smith’s transports retraced their course down the Red River from Springfield Landing, Louisiana, Confederate guns took them under heavy fire from the high bluffs overlooking the river. At Blair’s Landing, dismounted cavalry supported by artillery, engaged the Union fleet. The 430-ton wooden side-wheeler USS Lexington, Lieutenant Bache, silenced the shore battery but the Confederate cavalry poured a hail of musket fire into the rest of the squadron. Lieutenant-Commander Selfridge reported: ‘I waited till they got into easy shelling range, and opened upon them a heavy fire of shrapnel and canister. The rebels fought with unusual pertinacity for over an hour, delivering the heaviest and most concentrated fire of musketry that I have ever witnessed.” What Porter described as ‘ this curious affair,…. a fight between infantry and gunboats”, was finally decided by the gunboats’ fire, which inflicted heavy losses on the Confederates, including the death of their commander, General Thomas Green. This engagement featured the use of a unique instrument, developed by Chief Engineer Thomas Doughty of USS Osage and later described by Selfridge as “a method of sighting the turret from the outside, by means of what would now be called a periscope….The high banks of the Red River posed a great difficulty for the ships’ gunners in aiming their cannon from water level. Doughty’s ingenious apparatus helped to solve that problem. Selfridge wrote that: “On first sounding to general quarters,…. [I] went inside the turret to direct its fire, but the restricted vision from the peep holes rendered it impossible to see what was going on in the threatened quarter, whenever the turret was trained in the loading position. In this extremity I thought of the periscope, and hastily took up station there, well protected by the turret, yet able to survey the whole scene and to direct an accurate fire.” Thus was the periscope, a familiar sight on gun turrets and on submarines of this century, brought into Civil War use on the Western waters.

Confederate cavalry and infantry commanded by Major-General Nathan B. Forrest, CSA, commenced an attack on Fort Pillow, Tennessee. The small 160-ton gunboat USS New Era, Acting Master James Marshall, steamed in to support the Union soldiers. Her few guns drove the Confederates from their first position before the fort, but by mid-afternoon Forrest’s Army mounted an overwhelming assault on the fort and carried it, though still under the fire of New Era. Acting Master Marshall received refugees from the fort on board New Era, but after the captured artillery was turned on his vessel, he was forced to withdraw upstream out of range.
Returning to the fort on 14 April, Marsh all found it evacuated and with the added gunfire support of the lately arrived steamers Platte Valley, Captain Riley, Master and Silver Cloud, Acting Master William Ferguson, scattered the Confederates as they withdrew. The raid on Fort Pillow was one of many attacks made by Forrest during March and April, causing considerable concern among Union commanders and taxing the resources of the Mississippi Squadron. Forrest’s favorite operating ground was between the Tennessee and Mississippi Rivers, where Union gunboats could not oppose his raids.

Major-General Hurlbut wrote Secretary Welles regarding the preparation by Confederates of a submerged torpedo boat reported to be intended for use in Mobile Bay: “The craft, as described to me, is a propeller about 30 feet long, with engine of great power for her size, and boiler so constructed as to raise steam with great rapidity. She shows above the surface only a small smoke outlet and pilot house, both of which can be lowered and covered. The plan is to drop down within a short distance of the ship, put out the fires, cover the smoke pipe and pilot house, and sink the craft to a proper depth; then work the propeller by hand, drop beneath the ship, ascertaining her position by a magnet suspended in the propeller, rise against her bottom, fasten the torpedo by screws, drop their boat away, pass off a sufficient distance, rise to the surface, light their fires, and work off.” While there is no evidence that the vessel described by Hurlbut ever was taken to Mobile, another submersible torpedo boat, Saint Patrick, was constructed by Captain Halligan at Selma, Alabama. Halligan’s submarine was taken to Mobile in late 1864 and unsuccessfully attacked USS Octorara in early 1865.

USS Estrella, Lieutenant-Commander Cooke, supported Army steamers Zephyr and Warrior on a reconnaissance expedition in Matagorda Bay, Texas. As the ships approached Matagorda Reef, two Confederate vessels were sighted and fired upon, but escaped. Acting Master Gaius P. Pomeroy took charge of the two Army transports and skillfully sailed them into the upper bay where the soldiers were landed. After completing the reconnaissance and capturing two small schooners, the expedition returned to Pass Cavallo. Brigadier General Fitz Henry Warren, commander of the troops on the foray, praised Pomeroy: “He took general charge of two steam transports, and by his attention, industry, and good seamanship impressed me most favorably as to his qualities for command and a higher position…. in the great work in which we are all engaged.”

Boats from USS South Carolina, Acting Lieutenant William W. Kennison, and USS T. A. Ward, Acting Master William L. Babcock, seized blockade running British steamer Alliance, which had run aground on Daufuskie Island, South Carolina, with a cargo including glass, liquor, and soap.

13 John S. Begbie, an agent of the Albion Trading Company of London, with which the Confederacy dealt, wrote Confederate States Commissioner John Slidell in Paris regarding Southern regulations on pilots, and said that he was informed: “1. Pilots are liable to the conscription. 2. If losing their ship are forced to enlist. 3. If demanding or receiving more than the Government regula-tion pilotage they are, if found out, deprived of their license and obliged to serve. In protesting against these regulations, he went on: “If it is desirable and in the interest of the Confederate Government that steamers should run in with stores and out with cotton, paying the Government debts and influencing greatly their credit, surely pilots are much more usefully employed to the State as pilots than as fighting men. The very few of them there are could never be felt as a loss to the army, while one dozen of them taken out of their number is sensibly felt and greatly aggravates the difficulty of steamers getting in, which is surely difficult enough already. If a pilot loses his ship, do not let him be deprived of his license unless he is grievously to blame; but if so, at once into the ranks with him, not otherwise; the best of pilots may lose his ship.”

USS Rachel Seaman, Acting Master Charles Potter, seized blockade running British schooner Maria Alfred near the Mermentau River, Louisiana, with an assorted cargo.

USS Nyanza, Acting Lieutenant Washburn, captured schooner Mandoline in Atchafalaya Bay, Louisiana, with a cargo of cotton.

13-14 A joint Army-Navy expedition advanced up the Nansemond River, Virginia, to capture Confederate troops in the area and destroy Confederate torpedo boat Squib which was thought to have been in that vicinity after her 9 April thrust at USS Minnesota. The naval force de-ployed by Rear Admiral Lee included converted ferryboats USS Stepping Stones, Commodore Morris, Commodore Perry, Commodore Barney, Shokokon, and two launches from Minnesota. A handful of prisoners was taken and information was obtained indicating that Squib had departed Smithfield for Richmond on the 10th. Acting Lieutenant Charles B. Wilder, who commanded Minnesota’s two launches, was killed in an engagement with snipers near Smithfield. Of Wilder, Lieutenant-Commander Upshur, Minnesota’s commanding officer, wrote:…. true to the reputation he had won among his shipmates for promptness and gallantry, he fell while in the act of firing a shot at the enemy.

14 Small paddle-wheel steamers of the Mississippi Squadron continued to engage Confederate raiders in Western Kentucky along the Mississippi and Ohio rivers. At Paducah, Lieutenant-Commander James W. Shirk, USS Peosta, with Key West, Acting Lieutenant Edward M. King, Fair play, Acting Master George J. Groves and Victory, Acting Master Frederick Read, took up defensive positions on the river to meet an anticipated Confederate blow. On 12 April, Shirk had reported: “The rebels are in force around us. The colonel and the gunboats are waiting for an attack.” This date, Confederate troops entered Paducah, were taken under. fire by the Union ships and with-drew. Meanwhile, on 13 April, Confederates appeared before Columbus, Kentucky, which was protected by USS Moose, Lieutenant-Commander LeRoy Fitch, USS Hastings, Acting Master John S. Watson, and USS Fairy, Acting Master Henry S. Wetmore. Here too the Southerners were held at bay by the presence of the light gunboats. These small warships, mostly converted river steamers, played a major role in frustrating the Confederate thrust. Secretary Welles, concerned about Confederate activities in the area, wrote in his diary: “respecting Rebel movements in western Kentucky-at Paducah, Columbus, Fort Pillow, etc. Strange that an army of 6000 Rebels should be moving unmolested within our lines. But for the gunboats, they would repossess themselves of the defenses.

Rear Admiral Porter’s position in the Red River became increasingly critical as the water level stubbornly refused to rise, threatening to strand the gunboats. Porter wrote Welles: “I found the fleet at Grand Ecore somewhat in an unpleasant situation, two of them being above the bar, and not likely to get away again this season unless there is a rise of a foot…. If nature does not change her laws, there will no doubt be a rise of water, but there was one year-1846 when there was no rise in Red River, and it may happen again. The rebels are cutting off the supply by diverting different sources of water into other channels, all of which would have been stopped had our Army arrived as far as Shreveport…. Had we not heard of the retreat of the Army, I should still have gone on to the end.”

Porter expressed his appreciation of the services rendered by the river pilots, whose duties were both hazardous and arduous: “There is a class of men who have during this war shown a good deal of bravery and patriotism and who have seldom met with any notice from those whose duty it is to report such matters. I speak of the pilots on the Western Waters. Without any hope of future reward through fame, or in a pecuniary way, they enter into the business of piloting the transports through dangers that would make a faint-hearted man quail. Occupying the most exposed position…. managing their vessels while under fire…. I beg leave to pay this small tribute to their bravery and zeal, and must say as a class I never knew a braver set of men.”

15 USS Eastport, Lieutenant-Commander Phelps, struck a Confederate torpedo in the Red River some eight miles below Grand Ecore. The shock of the explosion almost threw the leadsman forward overboard and Phelps, who was in his cabin aft, reported “a peculiar trembling sensation.” He immediately ran Eastport into shoal water where she grounded. For six days Phelps, assisted by other gunboats in the river, attempted to bail and pump out the water. At last, 21 April, he was able to get underway with carpenters working day and night to close the leak. In the next five days East port could move only 60 miles downstream while grounding some eight times. The last time, unable to float her, Rear Admiral Porter ordered Phelps to transfer his men to USS Fort Hindman and destroy Eastport. On 26 April Phelps, the last man to leave her decks, detonated more than 3,000 pounds of powder and shattered the gunboat. He wrote: ‘The act has been the most painful one experienced by me in my official career.” The ironclad was completely destroyed, “as perfect a wreck as ever was made by powder,” Porter noted. She remains a troublesome obstruction to block up the channel for some time to come. East port had been captured from the Confederates while still building in the Tennessee River following the seizure of Fort Henry more than two years before (see 6 February 1862).

USS Virginia, Acting Lieutenant C. H. Brown, forced sloop Rosina aground and destroyed her at San Luis Pass, Texas.

16 Secretary Mallory wrote Commander Bulloch in England to have 12 small marine engines and boilers built for torpedo boats (40 to 50 feet in length, 5 to 6 feet beam, and drawing 3 feet of water). Twenty-five miles of “good” insulated wire and the “best” gun cotton to be used for torpedoes were also ordered. Unable to produce elements essential for pursuing the torpedo warfare that had been found so effective, the South looked hopefully to Europe for the materials.

17 Confederate troops launched a sustained attack on Plymouth, North Carolina. Union gunboats moved to support their troops ashore and were promptly taken under fire by the Southern batteries. Next day, the fighting at Plymouth intensified as the Confederates pressed the assault. Union Army steamer Bombshell, commanded temporarily by Acting Ensign Thomas B. Stokes, was sunk during the engagement, but by 9 o’clock in the evening the Southern advance had been halted. Lieutenant-Commander Flusser reported: “The Southfield and Miami took part and the general says our firing was admirable.” The Southern attack required naval support in order to achieve success, and Flusser added meaningfully: “The ram [Albemarle] will be down to-night or to-morrow.

USS Owasco, Lieutenant-Commander Edmund W. Henry, seized blockade running British schooner Lilly at Velasco, Texas.

18 The following dispatch from Brigadier General John McArthur to Acting Master McElroy, USS Petrel, exemplified naval support of Army operations and the dependence placed on it. “An expedition under command of Colonel Scofield starts from Haynes’ Bluff for Yazoo City tomorrow…. marching by land. You will please to move up and cooperate with them, calculating to reach Yazoo City on Thursday night; afterwards patrolling the river sufficiently to keep open communications between that point and this place.”

Boats from U.SS Beauregard, Acting Master Edward C. Mealy, seized blockade running British schooner Oramoneta in Matanzas Inlet, Florida, with a cargo of salt and percussion caps.

Landing party from USS Commodore Read, Commander F. A. Parker, destroyed a Confederate base together with a quantity of equipment and supplies at Circus Point on the Rappahannock River, Virginia.

USS Fox, Acting Master Charles T. Chase, captured and burned schooner Good Hope at the mouth of the Homosassa River, Florida, with a cargo of salt and dry goods.

19 CSS Albemarle, Commander Cooke, attacked Union warships off Plymouth, North Carolina, at 3:30 in the morning. The heralded and long awaited ram had departed Hamilton on the eve-ning of the 17th. While en route, a portion of the machinery broke down” and “the rudderhead broke off,” but repairs were promptly made; and, despite the navigational hazards of the crooked Roanoke River, Cooke anchored above Plymouth at 10 p.m. on the 18th. Failing to rendezvous with Confederate troops as planned, Cooke dispatched a boat to determine the position of the Union gunboats and shore batteries. Shortly after midnight, 19 April, the party returned and reported that Albemarle could pass over the Union obstructions because of the high stage of the water. Cooke weighed anchor and stood down to engage. Meanwhile, anticipating an attack by the ram, Lieutenant-Commander Flusser lashed wooden double-enders USS Miami and Southfield together for mutual protection and concentration of firepower. As Albemarle appeared, he gallantly headed the two light wooden ships directly at the Southern ram, firing as they approached. Albemarle struck Southfield, Acting Lieutenant Charles A. French, a devastating blow with her ram. It was reported that she “tore a hole clear through to the boiler” and Cooke stated that his ship plunged ten feet into the side of the wooden gunboat. Though backing immediately after the impact, Albemarle could not at once wrench herself free from the sinking Southfield and thus could not reply effectively to the fire poured into her by Miami. At last her prow was freed as Southfield sank, and Cooke forced Flusser’s ship to withdraw under a heavy cannonade. Small steamer USS Ceres and 105-ton tinclad Whitehead moved downriver also. The shot of the Union ships had been ineffective against the heavily plated, sloping sides of the ram.

Early in the engagement, Lieutenant-Commander Flusser had been killed. Brigadier General Wessells, commanding Union troops at Plymouth, noted: “In the death of this accomplished sailor the Navy has lost one of its brightest ornaments, and he will be long remembered by those who knew and loved him….” Major-General John J. Peck, commanding the District of North Carolina, called him a ”noble sailor and gallant patriot”; and Rear Admiral Lee wrote: “His patriotic and distinguished services had won for him the respect and esteem of the Navy and the country. He was generous, good, and gallant, and his untimely death is a real and great loss to the public service.”

Albemarle now controlled the water approaches to Plymouth and rendered invaluable support to Confederate army moves ashore giving the South a taste of the priceless advantage Union armies enjoyed in all theaters throughout the war. On 20 April Plymouth fell to the Southern attack. General Peck gave testimony to one profound meaning of seapower when he wrote: but for the powerful assistance of the rebel ironclad ram and the floating iron sharpshooter battery the Cotton Plant, Plymouth would still have been in our hands.” For the success of Albemarle, the Confederate Congress tendered Commander Cooke a vote of thanks, and Secretary Mallory wrote: “The signal success of this brilliant naval engagement is due to the admirable skill and courage displayed by Commander Cooke, his officers and men, in handling and fighting his ship against a greatly superior force of men and guns.” Great hopes were placed in Albemarle as they had been in Virginia (Merrimack) two years earlier.

A “David” torpedo boat commanded by Engineer Tomb, CSN, attempted to sink USS Wabash, Captain John De Camp, off Charleston. The “David”, the same one that had been used in the attack on USS Memphis on 6 March, was sighted while still 150 yards distant from the blockader. Alertly the large steam frigate slipped her cable and rapidly got under way, pouring a hail of musket fire at the approaching “David”. When only 40 yards off, Tomb was turned back by heavy swells that threatened to swamp the boat.

USS Virginia, Acting Lieutenant C. H. Brown, took blockade running Mexican schooner Alma off the coast of Texas with assorted cargo.

21 Rear Admiral Lee emphasized the urgent need to destroy CSS Albemarle. If the ram could not be disposed of by ship’s gunfire, the Admiral suggested that an attempt be made with tor-pedoes. However, Lee wrote Commander Henry K. Davenport, senior officer in the North Carolina sounds: ” I propose that two of our vessels should attack the ram, one on each side at close quarters, and drive her roof in. That railroad iron will not stand the concussion of our heavy guns.

Our vessels must maneuver to avoid being rammed, and once close alongside, there will be no danger of firing into each other…. I think the ram must be weak, and must fail if attacked on the side.” Lieutenant-Commander William T. Truxtun, USS Tacony, wrote Davenport on the same day: “The ironclad, from all accounts, is very much like the first Merrimack, with a very long and very sharp submerged prow…. The loss of so good a vessel as the Southfield and so valuable a life as that of the brave Flusser should show the impossibility of contending successfully with a heavy and powerful ironclad with nothing but one or two very vulnerable wooden vessels.”

USS Petrel, Acting Master McElroy, USS Prairie Bird, Acting Ensign John W. Chambers, and transport Freestone steamed up the Yazoo River to operate with Union troops attacking Yazoo City. Coming abreast the city, Petrel was fired upon by a Confederate battery and sharp shooters. The river was too narrow to come about, so Petrel steamed past the batteries to avoid the direct line of fire. The 170-ton Prairie Bird, however dropped downriver out of range of the bat-teries. McElroy made preparation to join her, but on April 22nd, was again taken under attack by rifle and artillery fire and disabled. McElroy attempted to destroy Petrel to prevent her being taken as a prize, but was captured before he could successfully put his small wooden gunboat to the torch. Reporting the capture, Confederate General Wirt Adams wrote: I removed her fine armament of eight 24-pounder guns and the most valuable stores and had her burned to the water’s edge.”

Boat crews from USS Howquah, Fort Jackson, and Niphon, commanded by Acting Lieutenant Joseph B. Breck, destroyed Confederate salt works on Masonboro Sound, North Carolina. The sailors landed under cover of darkness at 9 p.m. without being detected and rapidly demolished the works while taking some 160 prisoners. Breck then returned to the ships, which were stand-ing by to cover the operation with gunfire if necessary. Major-General W.H.C. Whiting, CSA, noted that the incident demonstrated the necessity of maintaining a guard to protect “these points”, and that henceforth there would be no salt works constructed at Masonboro Inlet. The Union Navy conducted a regular campaign against Southern salt works as the need for salt was critical in the Confederacy.

Boat crews from USS Ethan Allan, Acting Master Isaac A. Pennell, landed at Cane Patch, near Murrell’s Inlet, South Carolina, and destroyed a salt work which Pennell, who led the expedi-tion himself, described as “much more extensive than I expected After mixing most of the 2,000 bushels of salt into the sand of the beach, the Union sailors fired the four salt works as well as some 30 buildings in the surrounding area. The next day, off Wither’s Swash, Pennell sent Acting Master William H. Winslow and Acting Ensign James H. Bunting ashore with two boat crews to destroy a smaller salt work.

Rear Admiral Dahlgren wrote Secretary Welles suggesting that since “the demands of the public service elsewhere will prevent the detail of more ironclads for service at Charleston, which will necessarily postpone any serious attack on the interior defenses of the harbor,” the combined Army and Navy forces should focus their attention and efforts on occupying Long Island and attacking Sullivan’s Island. The demands elsewhere to which Dahlgren referred were the preparations for the assault on Mobile Bay by Rear Admiral Farragut.

Boat expedition commanded by Acting Master John K. Crosby from USS Cimarron destroyed a rice mill and 5,000 bushels of rice stored at Winyah Bay, South Carolina. The blockaded South could ill afford to lose such food stuffs.

USS Eureka, Acting Ensign Isaac Hallock, nearing the shore below Urbanna, Virginia, to cap-ture two small boats, ‘was taken under heavy fire by concealed Southern soldiers. The 85-foot, 50-ton steamer, though surprised by the attack, replied immediately and forced the Confederates to withdraw. Commander F. A. Parker, commanding the Potomac Flotilla, remarked: “It was quite a gallant affair and reflects a great deal of credit upon both the officers and men of the Eureka.

USS Owasco, Lieutenant-Commander Henry, seized blockade running British schooner Laura with a cargo of guns in the Gulf of Mexico off Velasco, Texas.

Boat expedition under Acting Ensign Christopher Carven, USS Sagamore, took over 100 bales of cotton and destroyed 300 additional bales near Clay Landing, on the Suwannee River, Florida.

22 CSS Neuse, Lieutenant Benjamin P. Loyall, got underway at Kinston, North Carolina, and began steaming downriver to operate on the State’s inland waters. She grounded just below Kinston, however, and could not be gotten off. General Montgomery D. Corse reported: “I fear she will be materially injured if not floated soon. The water has fallen 7 feet in the last four days, and is still falling.” The Confederates could not float the ram and nearly a year later she was burned to prevent her capture.

23 CSS Alabama, Captain Semmes, captured and destroyed ship Rockingham with a cargo of guano at sea west of the Cape Verde Islands. Semmes said of the capture: “It was the old spectacle of the panting, breathless fawn, and the inexorable stag-hound. A gun brought his colors to the peak, and his main-yard to the mast…. We transferred to the Alabama such stores and pr visions as we could make room for, and the weather being fine, we made a target of the prize, firing some shot and shell into her with good effect and at five p.m. we burned her and filled away on our course.” Ominously, during this gunnery practice, many of Alabama’s shells failed to explode.

25 Major-General W. T. Sherman, in Nashville preparing for his campaign against Atlanta, requested gunboat assistance from Fleet Captain Pennock in Cairo to protect his lines of supply and communicatio