Naval Chronology 1865
1 January 1865
Bahamas. USS San Jacinto, Captain Richard W Meade, ran on a reef at Green Turtle Cay at Abaco. The ship was not recoverable and was abandoned without loss of life. Meade salvaged the armament, ammunition, rigging, cables, and much of the ship’s copper.
North Carolina. Union Rear Admiral David Dixon Porter prepared a new and overwhelming attack on Fisher, reliant on his fleet’s heavy guns. He concentrated 43 warships at Beaufort, and 23 blockading ships were already on station off the Cape Fear River were ordered to prepare for shore bombardment. At Fort Fisher, Confederate Colonel William Lamb and his garrison readied themselves for further attacks predicted by the naval force accumulating off the Cape Fear River entrances.
Virginia. The presence of the Union armies of Lieutenant-General Ulysses Simpson Grant in front of Petersburg and Richmond was enabled by Union control of the James and Potomac Rivers. The waterborne line of supply extended up the James River to City Point, seven miles from Petersburg. From this principal base at City Point, Grant coordinated the movements of the Army of the Potomac and the Army of the James. In Richmond, the prospect of a naval attack was so threatening that the Confederate government had assembled for the city’s defence the strongest naval force ever gathered under one command. The James River Squadron, commanded by Flag Officer John K Mitchell, consisted of three ironclads, seven gunboats, and two torpedo boats. Mitchell’s squadron was also a potential threat to the security of the vital City Point base. The squadron was protected by a protective barrier of torpedoes and obstacles at Chaffin’s Bluff, 35 miles upriver from City Point. To counter the Confederate warships and to protect the supply line, Union warships guarded the sunken hulk obstruction line at Trent’s Reach and the pontoon crossings over the James and Appomattox Rivers. They were also engaged in protecting supply vessels against sharpshooters and hidden batteries on shore. Normally the James River squadron comprised five monitors and about 25 gunboats. However, in January, four of the monitors and a number of the gunboats left the James for the fleet being assembled by Rear Admiral David Dixon Porter for a second attack on Fort Fisher. The Confederate squadron above City Point therefore had an opportunity for offensive operations.
Virginia. Union Commander William A Parker, commanding USS Onondaga, reported that 12,000 pounds of gunpowder had been detonated in an effort to remove the end barriers of the canal excavation at Dutch Gap. The earth was thrown up into the air about 40 or 50 feet, but it fell back into its original place. The earth still had to be removed by hand to render the canal passable for vessels.
2 January 1865
North Carolina. US Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles called for an operation to land an assault force at Fort Caswell, guarding the west entrance to the Cape Fear River. Such a move, followed by the entry of blockading ships into the Cape Fear River, would close all access to Wilmington, the last port by which supplies could reach the Confederacy from overseas.
South Carolina. Union Rear Admiral John Adolphus Dahlgren ended a brief visit to Charleston where he assessed that threat of a breakout by the Confederate ironclads towards Savannah. After stationing an adequate force of seven monitors at Charleston, he returned to Savannah to organise support for the march of the armies of Major-General William Tecumseh Sherman. Naval cooperation would be required to attack Charleston or to establish communications at Georgetown in case the army bypassed Charleston.
3 January 1865
South Carolina. USS Harvest Moon, Acting Master John K Crosby, transported the first group of men from Major-General William Tecumseh Sherman’s army from Savannah, Georgia, to Beaufort, below Charleston.
4 January 1865
Virginia. A Union landing party under Acting Master James C Tole from USS Don captured several torpedoes and powder on the right bank of the Rappahannock River about six miles from its mouth.
5 January 1865
Alabama. A Union boat expedition under Acting Ensign Michael Murphy from USS Winnebago seized copper products and four sloop-rigged boats at Bon Secours Bay.
Mississippi. Union Acting Lieutenant James Lansing succeeded in re-floating USS Indianola in the Mississippi River. USS Indianola had been sunk by the Confederates almost two years earlier and the Union had made multiple attempts to float the ship. USS Indianola was taken upriver to Mound City, Illinois, for repair and refitting.
7 January 1865
Denmark. Confederate Captain Thomas Jefferson Page took command in Copenhagen of the ironclad CSS Stonewall, which departed Copenhagen with a temporary crew and the name of Sphinx to divert suspicion as to her real ownership. Commander James D Bulloch, Confederate naval agent in Europe, had acquired the same warship which the French had previously refused to release to the Confederacy. The ironclad had actually been sold to Denmark but the Danish conflict with Prussia ended abruptly before the ship could be delivered. The Danes refused to accept the ship and it was sold secretly to the Confederacy.
District of Columbia. US Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles and Vice Admiral David Glasgow Farragut visited President Abraham Lincoln in the White House. Their discussion concerned the capture of Mobile.
South Carolina. Union Lieutenant-General William Tecumseh Sherman revealed some of his plans to Rear Admiral John Adolphus Dahlgren, requiring reliable sea communications and the support of naval gunfire. Sherman requested information about the condition of the railroad from Beaufort, North Carolina to New Bern and Goldsboro. He also requested maps and information about the country above New Bern, whether there was good navigation from Beaufort via Pamlico Sound up the Neuse River, and more beside. He advised Porter of his intention to march north from Savannah about 15 January, with one column crossing the Savannah River, a second at Port Royal Ferry, and a third at Sister’s Ferry.
8 January 1865
Great Britain. Commander James D Bulloch, Confederate naval agent in England, ordered Lieutenant John Low, formerly of the CSS Alabama and Captain of CSS Tuscaloosa, to assume command of the twin-screw steamer Ajax upon her arrival in Nassau. Scheduled to sail from Glasgow on 12 January, Ajax had been built in Scotland under the designation of a tugboat to deceive Union spies. Minor alterations were planned to prepare Ajax and her sister ship Hercules to join the defence of Wilmington. However, Ajax never reached the Confederacy and Hercules was never completed.
9 January 1865
North Carolina. Lieutenant-Commander Earl English, USS Wyalusing, reported the capture of the schooner Triumph at the mouth of the Perquimans River, with a cargo including salt.
10 January 1865
France. Confederate Commander James D Bulloch instructed Commander Hunter Davidson to take the blockade-runner City of Richmond to make rendezvous with the new ironclad CSS Stonewall at Belle Ile in Quiberon Bay. City of Richmond carried officers and men as well as supplies for the ironclad. When it arrived from Copenhagen the ironclad would be equipped and manned and sent to break the blockade off Wilmington.
North Carolina. USS Valley City, Acting Master John A J Brooks, seized the steamer Philadelphia in the Chowan River, with a cargo including tobacco and cotton.
12 January 1865
North Carolina. Union Rear Admiral David Dixon Porter’s fleet got underway from Beaufort and headed for Fort Fisher. A rendezvous had been made with the assault force of 8,000 Union troops under the command of Major-General Alfred Howe Terry. The fleet proceeded along the coast northeast of Wilmington and arrived off Fort Fisher at night. Preparations began for commencing a naval bombardment the following morning and for the landing of 10,000 soldiers, sailors, and Marines.
South Carolina. The new Confederate ironclad ram CSS Columbia was pronounced ready for service but ran aground near Fort Moultrie after coming out of her dock at Charleston. Extensive efforts to re-float her failed and had to be abandoned when the Confederates evacuated Charleston in mid-February.
13 January 1865
Georgia. USS Pontiac, Lieutenant-Commander Stephen B Luce, was ordered to steam forty miles up the Savannah River to protect the left flank of the Union army which was crossing the river at Sister’s Ferry. The gunboat was assigned to provide support for the march north towards Charleston.
North Carolina. The second Union assault on Fort Fisher began early in the morning and lasted for three days. Rear Admiral David Dixon Porter took 59 warships into action from the sea, while Major-General Alfred Howe Terry commanded 8,000 soldiers for the land attack. A naval landing party of 2,000 sailors and Marines raised the attacking force to 10,000 men. Confederate Colonel William Lamb’s garrison of the fort numbered 1,500 men. USS New Ironsides, Commodore William Radford, was followed by the other armoured ships USS Saugus, USS Canonicus, USS Monadnock, and USS Mahopac to within 1,000 yards of Fort Fisher and opened fire on the batteries. The ironclads began to demolish the traverses of the fort and the southern angle began to give way. USS Brooklyn, Captain Alden, and USS Colorado, Commodore Thatcher, led the heavier wooden warships into battle and maintained a continuous bombardment from a greater range until nightfall. The Union ironclads maintained a harassing fire throughout the night to deter repairs of the fortifications. Meanwhile, Terry selected a landing beach out of the fort’s range, with natural defences on the northern flank in the form of swamps and woods that extended across the peninsula. The troops landed unopposed at the selected site and began to fortify their beachhead overnight.
14 January 1865
Great Britain. The blockade-runner Lelia foundered off the mouth of the Mersey River, and Confederate Commander Arthur Sinclair was drowned.
North Carolina. By daybreak, the landing assault force of Union Major-General Alfred Howe Terry had thrown up a line of defensive breastworks north of Fort Fisher. The defences faced towards Wilmington in order to protect the rear of the force attacking Fort Fisher against the 6,000 Confederate troops stationed in Wilmington under the command of General Braxton Bragg. The strip of land was also commanded by naval guns and was expected to be defensible against a large enemy attack. At daylight, the fleet reopened its intensive bombardment of Fort Fisher. Confederate Major-General William Henry Chase Whiting came to assist the garrison commander Colonel William Lamb and endured the unprecedented bombardment. The Confederates were unable to repair the works as the fleet unleashed an estimated 100 shells per minute. The defenders suffered about 300 casualties from the naval bombardment and had only one gun on the land face of the fort still serviceable. During the day, CSS Chickamauga fired at long range on the recently landed Union troops from her position in the Cape Fear River, but on the 15th USS Monticello, Lieutenant-Commander William B Cushing, drove the former Confederate raider out of range. During the evening, Terry visited Rear Admiral David Dixon Porter aboard the flagship USS Malvern, and the two planned the timing of the next day’s operations. The fleet would continue its bombardment until the moment of attack in mid-afternoon. Half of Terry’s 8,000 soldiers would assault the land face on the western front of the fort while 2,000 sailors and Marines attacked the northeast bastion. The remainder of Terry’s troops would hold a defensive line across the peninsula against a possible Confederate counterattack from Wilmington.
Texas. USS Seminole, Commander Albert G Clary, captured the schooner Josephine bound from Galveston to Matamoras with a cargo of cotton.
15 January 1865
North Carolina. CSS Chickamauga, which had been firing at long range on the Union troops attacking Fort Fisher from the Cape Fear River, was driven out of range by USS Monticello, Lieutenant-Commander William B Cushing. At 3 pm the signal to cease firing was sent to the fleet, as the soldiers, sailors, and Marines ashore charged the Confederate defences at Fort Fisher. The Army advanced through a wooded area but the Naval Brigade dashed across an open beach into concentrated fire at point blank range. The leader of the naval assault force, Lieutenant Samuel W Preston, and Lieutenant Benjamin H Porter, commanding officer of the flagship USS Malvern, were among those killed. The assaulting force pressed on under the command of Lieutenant-Commander K Randolph Breese. The head of the column stopped about five hundred yards from the fort and the men went to ground for cover. The officers rallied the men to continue forward but at about three hundred yards they went down again under heavy canister and rifle fire. A third surge was made and suffered heavy casualties. About 60 men under Lieutenant-Commander Thomas O Selfridge reached and broke through the palisade but the charge lost momentum. Selfridge’s men were repelled and others recoiled after approaching the stockade and the base of the parapets. The attack gave way and the defenders believed they had beaten back the main attack. However, the Naval assault had diverted Confederate attention from the Army’s attack. Union Major-General Alfred Howe Terry’s troops successfully stormed the western end of the parapet. The Confederates launched a counter-attack and desperate hand-to-hand fighting followed. Whiting was mortally wounded during the engagement and Colonel Lamb was seriously wounded. Confederate Major James Reilly assumed command and fought from traverse to traverse before finally being forced to retreat out of the fort. Naval gunners aimed their fire at right angles to the direction of the Union charge and hit the Confederate ranks with great accuracy. Other ships lifted their fire onto the riverbank behind the fort to prevent the arrival of reinforcements. Reilly and the survivors of the garrison surrendered during the night. Fort Fisher was taken by the joint efforts of the Union Army and Navy. The Union attackers sustained about 1,000 casualties, more than twice as many as the defenders. The second attack on Fort Fisher proved the superior mobility conferred by command of the sea, as it forced the defenders to spread their forces thinly to protect all threatened points simultaneously. The Union fleet was able to mass superior firepower at any chosen point of the defences. Fear of concentrated naval gunfire kept Confederate Major-General Robert Frederick Hoke’s division inactive. Hoke’s division was positioned between the fort and Wilmington, but could not interfere with the landing or the advance of the Union assault force. The defences of Fort Fisher were largely destroyed by concentrated naval fire. Torpedo wires were cut and palisades were breached so that they gave cover to the attackers, while the slopes of the works were rendered passable for assault.
South Carolina. Union Rear Admiral John Adolphus Dahlgren prepared for a demonstration at Charleston to draw attention away from Major-General William Tecumseh Sherman’s overland march to the north. Instructions were given to locate and mark the obstructions in the channel of Charleston harbour. During evening, while searching for the Confederate obstructions, USS Patapsco, Lieutenant-Commander Stephen P Quackenbush, struck a torpedo near the entrance of the lower harbour and sank instantly with the loss of 64 officers and men, over half her crew. This was the fourth Union ironclad lost in the war, and the second lost to enemy torpedoes. From this point onwards, only small boats and tugs were allowed to search for obstructions. The loss of USS Patapsco prompted Dahlgren to relocate the target of his demonstration to Bull’s Bay, a few miles northeast of Charleston.
16 January 1865
North Carolina. With the loss of Fort Fisher, the Union fleet would be able to enter the Cape Fear River and cut the waterborne communications of the Confederate defenders of Wilmington. Confederate General Braxton Bragg ordered the evacuation of all remaining Confederate positions at the mouth of the river. At 7 am, Fort Caswell and Fort Campbell were abandoned and destroyed. Fort Holmes on Smith’s Island and Fort Johnson at Smithville were also destroyed by their retreating troops. The garrisons fell back to Fort Anderson, on the west bank of the Cape Fear River between Fort Fisher and Wilmington. The destruction of the powerful batteries at Fort Caswell completed the Union isolation of Wilmington, the last major port open to blockade-runners.
Tennessee. The Union XXIII Corps (Army of the Ohio) of Major-General John McAllister Schofield began embarking on transports at Clifton. The Army of the Ohio was being moved by water and rail to Washington and Annapolis, where they would await seaborne transportation to reinforce the operations in North Carolina.
Virginia. Seeking to take advantage of the reduced Union naval strength in the James River, the Confederates planned to pass the obstructions at Trent’s Reach and to attack the Union army’s base of operations at City Point. The hulk which lay across the channel at Trent’s Reach and the obstacle net were reported to have been washed away and a passage through the obstructions was believed to exist. City Point was essential to all Union operations against Richmond and Petersburg. Supplies reached City Point by water and were sent to the Petersburg front by rail. If the base at City Point could be destroyed, it would postpone the relentless Union advance towards the Confederate capital. Confederate Flag Officer John K Mitchell reconnoitred the obstructions to confirm whether a passage was feasible.
17 January 1865
Alabama. Naval forces commanded by Lieutenant Moreau Forrest cooperated with Union cavalry for a successful attack on Somerville, capturing 90 prisoners, 150 horses and one field gun.
Georgia. Two armed boats from USS Honeysuckle, Acting Master James J Russell, captured the British schooner Augusta at the mouth of the Suwannee River as she attempted to run the blockade with a cargo of pig lead, flour, gunny cloth and coffee.
North Carolina. Most blockade-runners were unaware of the fall of Fort Fisher and were expected to run in to Wilmington. In order to lure them in, Union Rear Admiral David Dixon Porter ordered the signal lights on the Mound at Fort Fisher to be properly lit according to the Confederates’ custom during the blockade.
South Carolina. Union Major-General William Tecumseh continued his operations to capture Charleston. Sherman’s departure from Savannah was delayed and he asked Rear Admiral John Adolphus Dahlgren to observe whether the Confederates remained in the port or were withdrawing. Sherman’s armies were heading for Branchville and Orangeburg behind Charleston. Major-General John Gray Foster’s troops were assigned to take Charleston, beginning with a feint by sea to Bull’s Bay. From Bull’s Bay, Foster would threaten and, if possible, advance to the road between Mount Pleasant and Georgetown. This move was intended to make the Confederates believe that Sherman’s objective was Charleston while he actually proposed to bypass the port and head north for Wilmington.
17 January 1865
Louisiana. The Confederate steamers Granite City and Wave (both of them captured US Navy ships) eluded the blockading ship USS Chocura, Lieutenant-Commander Richard W Meade, and escaped from Calcasieu Pass. Granite City was reported to carry no cargo but Wave had a load of lumber for the Rio Grande. Meade chased the blockade-runners for 60 miles but gave up the effort after two days as the ship’s boilers were out of action and the speed of the ship was reduced by leaks.
18 January 1865
North Carolina. Union Lieutenant-Commander William B Cushing, commanding USS Monticello, landed and occupied the abandoned Fort Caswell.
19 January 1865
Bermuda. The blockade-runner Chameleon (formerly CSS Tallahassee), Lieutenant John Wilkinson, put to sea heavily laden with commissary stores and provisions for the Confederate Army. Wilkinson had departed Cape Fear on 24 December 1864. Chameleon successfully ran the blockade and entered the harbour before learning that Union forces had captured Fort Fisher during his absence. Chameleon reversed course and dashed back to sea, assisted by the ship’s twin screws which enabled the steamer to turn on a pivot in the narrow channel between the bar and the rip. Chameleon headed south for Charleston but could not enter the port. Wilkinson decided to take Chameleon to Liverpool where he turned the ship over to Commander Bulloch, the Confederate naval agent on 9 April 1865.
South Carolina. Rear Admiral John Adolphus Dahlgren ordered USS Canonicus, USS Mahopac, and USS Monadnock, to reinforce the Charleston blockade.
North Carolina. USS Governor Buckingham, Acting Lieutenant John MacDiarmid, opened fire on the Half Moon Battery on the Cape Fear River, supporting efforts to drive off Confederate remaining after the fall of Fort Fisher.
20 January 1865
France. The blockade-runner City of Richmond, Commander Davidson, anchored in Quiberon Bay to await the arrival of the ironclad CSS Stonewall. Davidson maintained complete secrecy about his intentions so that he could transfer men and supplies to the warship.
Virginia. Confederate Flag Officer John K Mitchell sought information about the number and disposition of the Union ironclads, gunboats, armed transports, torpedo boats, and vessels on the James River, in preparation for an attack downriver at the Union supply base at City Point.
North Carolina. The blockade-runners Stag and Charlotte, unaware that Fort Fisher and the works at Cape Fear had fallen to Union forces. They anchored in the harbour at Smithville near USS Malvern and were captured.
21 January 1865
Ireland. The steamer Ajax, with Confederate Navy Lieutenant John Low aboard as a passenger, left Dublin for Nassau. Ajax had been built for the Confederacy in Dumbarton for use in harbour defence. She had been detained in Dublin for more than a week because the US Consul there suspected that the light-draft vessel was bound for the Confederacy. However, two inspections failed to substantiate this suspicion and the putative gunboat was released. Nevertheless, Charles F Adams, the American Ambassador in England, and US Secretary of State William Henry Seward prevailed upon the British to forbid the arming of Ajax in Halifax, Nova Scotia Bermuda, or Nassau in the Bahamas.
Ohio. Elements of the Union XXIII Corps, Major-General John McAllister Schofield, disembarked from transports at Cincinnati, which they had reached in five days via the Tennessee and Ohio Rivers from Clifton, Tennessee. The troops took trains for Washington, DC, Alexandria, Virginia, and Annapolis, Maryland, for transfer onward to North Carolina.
Texas. USS Penguin, Acting Lieutenant James R Beers, chased the steamer Granite City ashore off Velasco, under the protection of Confederate shore batteries.
22 January 1865
Louisiana. A boat expedition from USS Chocura, Lieutenant-Commander R W Meade, captured the blockade-running schooner Delphina by boarding in the Calcasieu River, with a cargo of cotton.
North Carolina. USS Iosco, Commander John Guest, was ordered to control the movements of vessels in the Cape Fear River above Fort Fisher. This was part of the preparation for the fleet to move upriver, after obstacles and torpedoes had been cleared.
North Carolina. USS Pequot, Lieutenant Commander Daniel L Braine, steamed up the Cape Fear River and opened fire on Fort Anderson to reconnoitre and test its defences. The Confederates replied only with two small rifled guns, but Braine reported that at least six guns were pointing down the river, protected by fortifications.
Virginia. Confederate Flag Officer John K Mitchell cancelled his planned attempt to pass the obstructions at Trent’s Reach because of heavy fog. Mitchell was also not certain whether Confederate torpedoes in the channel near Howlett’s Landing had been removed for his flotilla to pass safely. He advised Confederate Major-General George Edward Pickett that he would make the attempt the following night, weather permitting.
23 January 1865
Florida. USS Fox, Acting Master Francis Burgess, seized the British schooner Fannie McRae near the mouth of the Warrior River, where she was preparing to run the blockade.
Virginia. A Confederate fleet under Flag Officer John K Mitchell attempted to dash down the James River with eleven vessels to attack Union Lieutenant-General Ulysses Simpson Grant’s headquarters and supply depot at City Point. The attack was abandoned when the heaviest of the Confederate ironclads and three other ships ran aground near Fort Brady. The torpedo boat CSS Scorpion was abandoned, and Union mortar fire destroyed CSS Drewry, which was also left stranded.
24 January 1865
Georgia. A Union naval squadron supported the northward march of Major-General William Tecumseh Sherman’s armies from Savannah.
South Carolina. Union warships ascended the rivers in the proximity of the armies of Major-General William Tecumseh Sherman. The aims was to protect the army and to force the Confederates to disperse their forces. USS Dai Ching and a tug moved up the Combahee River. USS Sonoma was in the North Edisto River, and USS Pawnee was ready to leave with a tug at dawn for the Ashepoo River. The ships were ordered to drive off enemy pickets and destroy riverside batteries. USS Tuscarora, USS Mingoe, USS State of Georgia, and USS Nipsic remained at Georgetown to prevent the erection of enemy batteries. USS Pontiac was in the Savannah River at Purysburg, advancing with the extreme left of the army. Meanwhile, demonstrations continued at Charleston by the presence of a strong force of ironclads.
25 January 1865
Australia. CSS Shenandoah, Lieutenant Waddell, put into Melbourne for repairs and provisions 108 days after leaving England. The cruiser had taken no prizes for four weeks and was undermanned with only 51 crewmen out of a possible complement of 150. After dry-docking and machinery repairs, Waddell intended to extend his raiding mission against American whalers in the Pacific Ocean.
France. Confederate Captain T J Page reported that CSS Stonewall was at sea off the coast of France.
North Carolina. Shortly after dawn, a boarding party from USS Tristram Shandy, Acting Lieutenant Francis M Green, seized the blockade-running steamer Blenheim just inside the bar at New Inlet. Blenheim had run into the approach to Wilmington and anchored off the Mound battery unaware that Union forces now controlled the area. Blenheim was the third prize to be lured into Union hands by maintaining the Confederate signals lights at the Mound.
26 January 1865
Virginia. The Confederate picket boat Hornet was sunk and Lieutenant Aeneas Armstrong drowned after a collision between CSS Hornet and the steamer Allison on the James River.
South Carolina. USS Dai Ching, Lieutenant-Commander James C Chaplin, ran aground in the Combahee River while engaging Confederate batteries. After a seven-hour battle, and when all her guns were put out of operation, USS Dai Ching was abandoned and burned by the crew. The accompanying tug USS Clover, Acting Ensign Franklin S Leach, captured the blockade-running schooner Coquette with a cargo of cotton.
27 January 1865
Virginia. After dark, a launch commanded by Union Acting Ensign Thomas Morgan from USS Eutaw proceeded up the James River past the obstructions at Trent’s Reach and captured CSS Scorpion. The Confederate torpedo boat had run aground during the recent attempt to steam downriver and was found abandoned. The boat was successfully re-floated and was taken to the fleet about 10:30 pm. Scorpion was found to be little damaged by the explosion nearby of CSS Drewry.
28 January 1865
Alabama. The Confederate torpedo boat St Patrick, Lieutenant John T Walker, struck USS Octorara, Lieutenant-Commander William W Low, off Mobile Bay, but her spar torpedo failed to explode. Although attacked by ship guns and small arms, Walker was able to bring St Patrick safely back under the Mobile batteries.
North Carolina. Commander John C Febiger, USS Mattabesett, dispatched he gunboat USS Valley City to Colerain on the Chowan River to protect an encampment of Union troops.
30 January 1865
North Carolina. USS Cherokee, Acting Lieutenant William E Dennison, exchanged gunfire with Confederate troops at the Half Moon Battery on the Cape Fear River.
Virginia. Returning from an afternoon reconnaissance of King’s Creek, Virginia, Union Acting Ensign James H Kerens of USS Henry Brinker, and his two boat crews sighted five men who immediately fled. Kerens returned under cover of darkness to the mouth of King’s Creek and, after more than an hour of careful searching, found two suspicious-looking mounds. Removing the earth, Kerens found two galvanic batteries and torpedoes, each containing some 150 pounds of powder. The connections from the batteries to the torpedoes were cut and the weapons safely removed and taken aboard USS Henry Brinker.
1 February 1865
Florida. A boat expedition from USS Midnight, Acting Master John C Wells, landed and spent four days destroying salt works at St Andrew’s Bay.
2 February 1865
Gulf of Mexico. USS Pinola, Lieutenant-Commander Henry Erben, captured the blockade-running British schooner Ben Willis with a cargo of cotton.
Virginia. Confederate Flag Officer John K Mitchell ordered CSS Beaufort, Lieutenant Joseph W Alexander, to break up the ice near the Wilton bridge to protect from destruction by heavy ice in the James River. Within two days, Mitchell reported that CSS Torpedo was the only boat that could reach the disabled CSS Beaufort and maintain communications over the Wilton Bridge.
3 February 1865
Florida. USS Matthew Vassar, Acting Master George F Hill, captured the blockade-running schooner John Hale off St Marks, with a cargo including lead, blankets, and rope.
Georgia. CSS Macon, Lieutenant Joel S Kennard, and CSS Sampson, Lieutenant William W Carnes, were ordered to turn over their ammunition to the Confederate Army at Augusta. The shallow upper Savannah River made it impossible for the vessels to assist the defence of the city against the Union army marching northward from Savannah. When Savannah fell, Flag Officer William W Hunter had brought CSS Macon and CSS Sampson up the Savannah River with difficulty to avoid their loss.
North Carolina. Union Rear Admiral David Dixon Porter travelled aboard USS Shawmut as it engaged Fort Anderson to test the strength of the Confederate defences on the west bank of the Cape Fear River. Lieutenant-General Ulysses Simpson Grant requested two or three vessels to maintain a patrol between Cape Henry and the Cape Fear River during the transit of Major-General John McAllister Schofield’s XXIII Corps from Annapolis, Maryland, and Alexandria, Virginia. Schofield’s force was intended to reinforce the attack on Wilmington. Two steamers were assigned to protect the troop transports.
South Carolina. Union Rear Admiral David Dixon Porter requested Rear Admiral John Adolphus Dahlgren to return the ironclads lie had sent to Charleston after the fall of Fort Fisher for duty on the Cape Fear River and the advance on Wilmington. Dahlgren prevailed in his belief that the heavily fortified Charleston harbour forced him to retain the ships. Porter had only one ironclad for his operation, namely USS Montauk.
South Carolina. Union Brigadier-General John Porter Hatch requested naval assistance to cruise the upper Broad River while his troops were at Pocotaligo. He believe that Confederate guerrillas in the vicinity of Boyd’s Neck or Bee’s Creek were planning to capture some of his transports.
4 February 1865
South Carolina. USS Wamsutta, Acting Master Charles W Lee, and USS Potomska Acting Master F M Montell, sighted an unidentified blockade-runner aground near Breach Inlet. On being discovered, the runner’s crew abandoned and abandoned the vessel.
4 February 1865
South Carolina. A three-day boat expedition under Lieutenant-Commander William Baker Cushing, USS Monticello, proceeded up Little River, to occupy All Saints Parish, capturing a number of Confederate soldiers.
5 February 1865
Spain. Union Commodore Thomas T Craven, USS Niagara, learned that the ram CSS Stonewall was undergoing repairs at Ferrol and prepared to sail to blockade the ship.
Florida. USS Hendrick Hudson, Acting Lieutenant Charles H Rockwell, located the sunken wreck of USS Anna, Acting Ensign Henry W Wells, south of Cape Romain. USS Anna had departed Key West on 30 December and was believed lost at sea. Investigations suggested that an accidental explosion had destroyed the schooner and no survivors were found.
South Carolina. A boat expedition under Lieutenant-Commander William Baker Cushing, USS Monticello, destroyed cotton in All Saints Parish on Little River.
South Carolina. The blockade-runner Chameleon, Lieutenant Wilkinson, attempted unsuccessfully to run through the blockade of Charleston to deliver military supplies. He had failed to enter Wilmington after the fall of Fort Fisher and returned to Nassau on 19 January 1865. When he learned that Charleston was still held by the Confederacy, he departed on 1 February and evaded USS Vanderbilt after a lengthy chase. He found that the blockade of Charleston had been augmented by ships transferred from the blockade of Wilmington. He could not cross the bar into the harbour while the tide was high and the period of moonless nights had ended. Wilkinson returned again to Nassau.
6 February 1865
Great Britain. USS Niagara, Commodore Thomas T Craven, departed Dover for Spain to blockade the ironclad CSS Stonewall.
North Carolina. Union Rear Admiral David Dixon Porter received intelligence that a new Confederate ram was nearing completion at a shipyard on the Roanoke River and would soon enter Albemarle Sound. Porter ordered Commander William H Macomb to prepare against the threat by fitting spar torpedoes to every gunboat and tug and to order them all to ram the attacker together. Macomb was directed also to Set place torpedoes in the river at night and to obstruct the river above Plymouth, with guns commanding the approaches.
South Carolina. Union Lieutenant-Commander William Baker Cushing, USS Monticello, sent two boat crews under Acting Master Charles A Pettit to Shallotte Inlet, where they surprised a small force of Confederates collecting provisions for Fort Anderson. Six soldiers were taken prisoner and the supplies were destroyed.
Virginia. A Union expedition of eight cutters and two launches conveying 150 troops, commanded by Lieutenant George W Wood of USS Roanoke, proceeded up Pagan Creek and Jones Creek off the James River. They captured a Confederate torpedo boat, a torpedo device, and Confederate Master William A Hines, who had destroyed the tug Lizzie Freeman off Pagan Creek in December 1864.
7 February 1865
South Carolina. The armies of Union Major-General William Tecumseh Sherman were marching towards Columbia, but was forced to consider the possibility of having to turn back to the coast. Sherman was following the railroad at Midway and planned to wreck 50 miles of track between Edisto and Augusta and then to cross toward Columbia. However, bad weather and floods threatened to turn Sherman’s route towards Charleston. Union Brigadier-General John Porter Hatch’s division was moved up the Edisto River to Jacksonboro and Willstown, and was ordered to land troops at Bull’s Bay to secure his communications. The river transports with the army would be unloaded and ordered to return to Savannah while pickets on the Savannah River would be withdrawn as soon as the transports had passed the lower landing.
Texas. A Union boat expedition under Acting Ensign George H French from USS Bienville, assisted by a cutter from USS Princess Royal, silently entered Galveston harbour at night intending to board and destroy the blockade-runner Wren. The strong current and wind and the approach of daylight prevented the attempt on Wren, but they boarded and took the schooners Pet and Annie Sophia instead, both laden with cotton.
8 February 1865
North Carolina. The first elements of Union Major-General John McAllister Schofield’s XXIII Corps landed at Fort Fisher. By mid-February, the entire Corps had been moved by sea from Alexandria, Virginia, and Annapolis, Maryland, to reinforce operations in North Carolina.
9 February 1865
South Carolina. USS Pawnee, Commander George B Balch, USS Sonoma, Lieutenant-Commander Thomas S Fillebrown, and USS Daffodil, Acting Master William H Mallard, engaged Confederate batteries on Togodo Creek, near the North Edisto River. USS Pawnee was hit ten times and the other ships twice each but the naval guns silenced the Confederate batteries.
10 February 1865
CSA. Raphael Semmes was appointed Rear Admiral in the Provisional Navy of the Confederate States of America Semmes was soon appointed to command the James River Fleet, superseding Commodore John K Mitchell.
North Carolina. USS Shawmut, Lieutenant-Commander J.G. Walker, engaged Confederate batteries on the east bank of the Cape Fear River while USS Huron, Lieutenant-Commander Thomas O Selfridge, bombarded Fort Anderson. Fleet attacks were building up preliminary to full naval support of General Schofield’s advance on Wilmington. Union Major-General John McAllister Schofield was planning to outflank the Confederate defences by marching from Fort Fisher up the outer bank and, with the aid of pontoons to be landed by the Navy on the coast side, cross Myrtle Sound onto the mainland of the peninsula behind the Confederate lines. Rear Admiral David Dixon Porter issued his plan for the move up the fleet up the Cape Fear River. The sixteen gunboats in the Cape Fear River would attack Fort Anderson to coincide with Schofield’s turning movement. The gunboats would attack the rear of the Confederate entrenchments and cover the advance of troops on shore, running in close at the moment of attack to shell the enemy ahead of the advancing soldiers. The gunboats were directed to make a bows-on approach, while the ironclad USS Montauk laid down covering fire from close in. When the fort’s fire slackened, the lighter gunboats would drive the gunners from their positions and then the fleet would attempt to dismount the guns by precision fire.
Texas. A Union boat expedition from USS Princess Royal and USS Antona led by Lieutenant Charles E McKay boarded and destroyed the blockade-runner Will-O’-The Wisp, aground off Galveston.
Virginia. The Confederate Navy began its last attempt to gain control of the James River and force the withdrawal of the Union armies by cutting their communications at the City Point depot. An expedition of 100 officers and men set out under Lieutenant Charles W Read. He loaded four torpedo boats on wagons and started overland from Drewry’s Bluff, planning to march below City Point. The party would launch the boats in the James River, capture any passing tugs or steamers, and fit them with spar torpedoes. The expedition would then ascend the river and attack and sink the Union ironclads, leaving the less armoured Union gunboats to be defeated by the Confederate ironclads.
10 February 1865
South Carolina. USS Lehigh, Lieutenant-Commander Alexander A Semmes, USS Commodore McDonough, USS Wissahickon, USS C P Williams, USS Dan Smith, and USS Geranium, supported Brigadier General Alexander Schimmelfennig’s troop movements in the Stono River and Folly River, in four days of operations preparatory to the final advance to Charleston.
11 February 1865
Gulf of Mexico. USS Penobscot, Lieutenant-Commander A.E.K. Benham, captured the blockade-running British schooner Matilda with a cargo of rope, bagging, and liquors.
Spain. USS Niagara, Commodore Thomas T Craven, reached La Coruna, after being delayed by heavy weather. He was within nine miles of Ferrol, where he intended to blockade the ironclad CSS Stonewall. He requested assistance from USS Sacramento but found that she was under repair at Lisbon and would not be ready for sea for ten days.
CSA. Raphael Semmes was appointed Rear Admiral in the Provisional Navy of the Confederate States of America Semmes was soon appointed to command the James River Fleet, superseding Commodore John K Mitchell.
North Carolina. USS Keystone State, USS Aries, USS Montgomery, USS Howquah, USS Emma, and USS Vicksburg engaged the Confederate Half Moon Battery, situated on the coastal flank of the Confederate defence line across the Cape Fear Peninsula six miles above Fort Fisher. This bombardment contained Confederate Major-General Robert Frederick Hoke’s division while Union Major-General John McAllister Schofield moved his troops up the beachfrom Myrtle Sound and behind their rear. Deteriorating weather prevented the landing of the pontoons and Schofield withdrew his troops back to the Fort Fisher lines. Virginia. The Confederate overland expedition of Naval Lieutenant Charles W Read endured bitter cold as they attempted to move four torpedo boats overland to attack City Point from downstream on the James River.
12 February 1865
Bermuda. The blockade-runners Carolina, Dream, Chicora, Chameleon, and Owl, heavily laden with desperately needed supplies lay at anchor in Nassau harbour. During the day the five captains, including Lieutenant John Wilkinson and Commander John Maffitt, held a conference and formulated plans for running the blockade into Charleston. After putting to sea that night, the five ships separated and followed different courses for Charleston. North Carolina. Union Lieutenant-Commander Cushing and a patrol party in small boats passed the piling obstructions in the Cape Fear River and reconnoitred as far as Wilmington.
Virginia. The Confederate overland expedition of Naval Lieutenant Charles W Read continued to move four torpedo boats overland to attack City Point from downstream on the James River. Severe weather halted the expedition a few miles short of the Blackwater River where they would make rendezvous with Navy Lieutenant John Lewis, who had been reconnoitring ahead of the main body of sailors. The raiders sought refuge from the storm in a deserted farmhouse where they were informed that the plan had been betrayed and that Lewis was at the ford but accompanied by a regiment of Union troops lying in ambush. Read directed the expedition to retrace its steps for about a mile and went alone to confirm the report.
13 February 1865
South Carolina. Union Major-General William Tecumseh Sherman’s army approached the Congaree River.
Virginia. The Confederate overland expedition of Naval Lieutenant Charles W Read was attempting to move four torpedo boats overland to attack City Point from downstream on the James River. Severe weather had halted the expedition a few miles short of the Blackwater River. Late in the afternoon, Read rejoined his men after a lone reconnaissance and confirmed that the plan had been betrayed and they were walking into an ambush. The Confederates abandoned the raid and returned to Richmond. Of 101 men in the group, 75 were sent to the naval hospital in Richmond, suffering from the effects of their winter march.
14 February 1865
South Carolina. Union Major-General William Tecumseh Sherman’s army crossed the Congaree River, heading for Columbia. With the fall of Columbia assured and with the supply route to Augusta, Georgia, already cut, Confederate Lieutenant-General William Joseph Hardee speeded up his preparations to evacuate Charleston and to take the troops to North Carolina. The abandonment of Charleston would require the Confederate naval squadron to be scuttled, so Commodore John R Tucker detached 300 men from CSS Chicora, CSS Palmetto State, and the Navy Yard, and sent them under the command of Lieutenant James H Rochelle, to assist the defence of Wilmington. This naval detachment was assigned to Major-General Robert Frederick Hoke’s division holding the defensive line across the peninsula between Fort Fisher and Wilmington.
South Carolina. The blockade-runner Celt ran aground while attempting to run the blockade from Charleston harbour.
15 February 1865
Spain. USS Niagara, Commodore Thomas T Craven, reached Ferrol from La Coruna to blockade the ironclad CSS Stonewall.
Florida. USS Merrimac, Acting Master William Earle, was abandoned and sank off the eastern coast. The tiller had broken in a gale, the pumps could not keep the ship free of water, and two boilers had given out. The mail steamer Morning Star, which had been standing by the disabled gunboat for several hours, rescued the crew.
Virginia. The steamer Knickerbocker, which had run aground near Smith’s Point, was boarded by the Confederates and destroyed. USS Mercury, Acting Ensign Thomas Nelson, had prevented a previous attempt to destroy the steamer.
16 February 1865
North Carolina. Ships of Union Rear Admiral David Dixon Porter’s fleet helped to ferry Major-General John McAllister Schofield’s two divisions from Fort Fisher to Smithville on the west bank of the Cape Fear River. The objective was Fort Anderson on the west bank mid-way between the mouth of the river and Wilmington.
South Carolina. USS Pawnee, USS Sonoma, USS Ottawa, USS Winona, USS Potomska, USS Wando, USS J S Chambers, and their boats and launches supported troops landing at Bull’s Bay. This diversionary movement was intended to draw Confederate strength to defend Charleston and away from Major-General William Tecumseh Sherman’s armies heading for Columbia. A naval landing party from the fleet joined the troops of Brigadier General Edward Elmer Potter to drive the Confederates out their positions and pushed on toward Andersonville and Mount Pleasant.
Texas. USS Penobscot, Lieutenant-Commander A.E.K. Benham, forced the blockade-running schooners Mary Agnes and Louisa ashore at Aransas Pass.
17 February 1865
Florida. USS Mahaska, Lieutenant-Commander William Gibson, seized the schooner Delia off Bayport, with a cargo of pig lead and sabres.
North Carolina. During the morning, Union Major-General Jacob Dolson Cox led 8,000 troops north from their landing point at Smithville on the Cape Fear River. USS Montauk, Lieutenant Commander Edward E Stone, and four gunboats bombarded Fort Anderson in support of the army’s advance and silenced its twelve guns. The Union fleet improvised a bogus ironclad from a scow, timber, and canvas. Nicknamed Old Bogey” the fake warship was towed to the head of the bombardment line, where it drew #heavy fire from the defending batteries.
17 February 1865
South Carolina. Charleston was evacuated overnight by Confederate troops after withstanding 567 days of blockade and attacks by land and sea. During Fort Moultrie, Fort Sumter, Fort Johnson, Fort Beauregard, and Castle Pinckney were abandoned as the Confederate garrison marched northward to join the army concentrating in North Carolina. The new ironclad CSS Columbia had run aground while coming out of her dock near Fort Moultrie and when all efforts to re-float her failed, she was abandoned. Commodore John R Tucker scuttled and destroyed the ironclads CSS Palmetto State, CSS Chicora, and CSS Charleston were set on fire and blown up prior to the withdrawal. Tucker took their crews by train to join the naval detachment defending Wilmington. Tucker’s detachment reached Whiteville, about 50 miles west of Wilmington, where he learned that Union troops had cut the rail line between the two cities and that the evacuation of Wilmington was imminent. After unsuccessfully trying to obtain rail transportation, Tucker began a 125 mile march to Fayetteville.
North Carolina. The Union fleet in the Cape Fear River silenced the Confederate batteries at Fort Anderson. AS Union troops were also attacking the fort from two sides, the Confederates evacuated their defences and retreated to Town Creek. At the same time, the Confederates who were defending Sugar Loaf Hill on the eastern bank of the river adjacent to Fort Anderson, withdrew to Fort Strong which comprised several batteries three miles south of Wilmington.South Carolina. The blockade runner Chicora under Master John Rains, Shipmaster became the last blockade-runner to enter Charleston and left prior to its evacuation during the night.
18 February 1865
Australia. CSS Shenandoah, Lieutenant Waddell, completed its repairs at Melbourne and left Port Philip Bay before daybreak to resume its commerce raiding mission. The delay for repairs had given time for the American whaling fleet in the Pacific Ocean to be warned. Many vessels suspended fishing or took shelter in neighbouring ports. The presence of the CSS Shenandoah dispersed the whaling fleet and no captures were made by the raider.
Mississippi. USS Forest Rose, Acting Lieutenant Abraham N Gould, dispersed a group of Confederates who had fired on the ship Mittie Stephens attempting to load cotton at Cole’s Creek.
South Carolina. The city of Charleston surrendered to the approaching troops of Union Brigadier-General Alexander Schimmelfenning and the city was occupied. The new ironclad CSS Columbia was found abandoned and was recovered by the occupying Union forces. The occupation forces also captured several “David”-type torpedo boats. The steamers Lady Davis, Mab, and Transport were also taken. USS Catskill, Lieutenant-Commander Edward Barrett, seized the blockade-runner Celt, which had run aground trying to get out of Charleston on the night of 14 February. USS Catskill also boarded and seized the British blockade-runner Deer, which had been decoyed into Charleston by the ruse of keeping the Confederate signal lights in operation. USS Gladiolus, Acting Ensign Napoleon Boughton, captured the blockade-runner Syren in the Ashley River where she had successfully run in through the blockade the night before.
Texas. The blockade-running schooners Mary Agnes and Louisa which had been run ashore at Aransas Pass were destroyed by a boat crew from USS Penobscot.
Texas. A Union boat expedition under Acting Ensign James W Brown from USS Pinola boarded and burned the armed schooner Anna Dale in Pass Cavallo. The prize had been fitted out as a cruiser by the Confederates.
19 February 1865
Texas. USS Gertrude, Acting Lieutenant Benjamin C Dean, captured the Mexican brig Eco off Galveston. Eco was attempting to run the blockade with a cargo of coffee, rice, sugar, and jute baling cord.
Virginia. The Confederate steamer A H Schultz, which was used as a flag-of-truce vessel to carry exchange prisoners between Richmond and Varina on the James River and as a transport ship, was destroyed by a torpedo near Chaffin’s Bluff. The torpedo had drifted from its original position. Schultz was returning to Richmond after delivering more than 400 Union prisoners but an administrative error meant that there were no Confederate prisoners ready to be taken back from Varina. The potential loss of life was therefore greatly reduced.
19 February 1865
North Carolina. Following the evacuation of Fort Anderson, Rear Admiral David Dixon Porter’s gunboats steamed seven miles up the Cape Fear River to the piling obstructions near the Big Island shallows and engaged Fort Strong’s five guns. Boats swept the river for torpedoes ahead of the fleet’s advance.
20 February 1865
North Carolina. The Confederates released 200 floating torpedoes during the night into the Cape Fear River. These were avoided with great difficulty by the Union fleet and their boat crews were forced to sweep the river throughout the night. Many torpedoes were safely swept up with nets but USS Osceola, Commander M B Clitz, was damaged in the hull and lost a paddle-wheel box in an explosion. Another torpedo destroyed a boat from USS Shawmut, inflicting four casualties.
21 February 1865
North Carolina. The fake ironclad “Old Bogey”, fabricated to deceive the defenders of the Cape Fear River, detonated a number of Confederate torpedoes without effect and grounded on the eastern bank in the flank and rear of the Confederates lines. The Confederates fell back in the darkness but Battery continued to fire at the decoy.
The gunboat fleet of Rear Admiral David Dixon Porter closed in on Fort Strong and opened a rapid fire along the Confederate lines to support an Army attack ashore.
22 February 1865
North Carolina. The Confederates abandoned Fort Strong on the Cape Fear River. Meanwhile, Confederate General Braxton Bragg ordered the evacuation overnight of the now-defenceless port of Wilmington. Union Rear Admiral David Dixon Porter’s warships steamed up to Wilmington, which had been occupied earlier in the day by Major-General Alfred Howe Terry’s men. This was the last blockade-running port available to the Confederacy.
23 February 1865
South Carolina. Union Rear Admiral John Adolphus Dahlgren sent a squadron from Charleston, commanded by Captain Henry S Stellwagen in USS Pawnee, to capture and occupy Georgetown. The movement would establish a new line of communications with Major-General William Tecumseh Sherman’s army advancing from Columbia to Fayetteville, North Carolina. Fort White, guarding the entrance to Winyah Bay leading to Georgetown, was evacuated as the gunboats approached and was occupied by a detachment of US Marines.
24 February 1865
USA. The US Navy Department took steps to reduce the size of its operating forces as the end of hostilities drew near. Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles sent instructions to return any vessels in need of very extensive repairs, and those no longer required, to Northern ports to be sold or laid up. Surplus supplies would also be sent back and requisitions reduced to the essentials.
South Carolina. Union Captain Henry S Stellwagen sent Ensign Allen K Noyes with the USS Catalpa and USS Mingoe up the Pee Dee River to accept the surrender of the evacuated city of Georgetown. Noyes led a small party ashore and received the surrender of the city from civil authorities while a group of his seamen climbed to the city hall dome and hoist the US flag. This action was challenged by a group of Confederate cavalry. More sailors were landed to drive off the guerrillas. The city was garrisoned by five companies of Marines who were relieved by soldiers on 1 March.
25 February 1865
Florida. USS Marigold, Acting Master Courtland P Williams, captured the blockade-running British schooner Salvadora with an assorted a cargo in the Straits of Florida between Havana and Key West.
North Carolina. CSS Chickamauga was burned and sunk by her own crew in the Cape Fear River just below Indian Wells. The location chosen by the Confederates was above Wilmington on the Northwest Fork of the river leading to Fayetteville and was intended to obstruct the river and prevent the Union fleet from establishing communications between the troops occupying Wilmington and Major-General William Tecumseh Sherman’s army further inland.
South Carolina. A boat expedition from USS Chenango, Lieutenant-Commander George U Morris, captured the blockade-running sloop Elvira at Bullyard Sound, with a cargo of cotton and tobacco.
Virginia. US Primrose, Acting Ensign Owen, captured its third blockade-runner in a single week in the Potomac River.
27 February 1865
Florida. USS Proteus, Commander R W Shufeldt, seized the steamer Ruby. Its papers purported that its route was from Havana to Belize in Honduras, but passengers revealed that it was actually bound for St Marks. Part of the blockade-runner’s cargo had been thrown overboard during the chase and the remainder consisted of lead and other supplies.
North Carolina. Commodore John R Tucker and his 350 Confederate sailors from Charleston arrived in Fayetteville and joined the earlier contingent of Lieutenant James H Rochelle. The combined force was ordered to proceed to Richmond with the entire Naval Brigade, to man the fortifications at Drewry’s Bluff on the James River. Tucker took command of the naval forces ashore while Rear Admiral Raphael Semmes commanded the James River Squadron.
28 February 1865
Florida. Armed boats under Acting Ensign Charles N Hall from USS Honeysuckle forced the blockade-running British schooner Sort aground on a reef near the mouth of Crystal River, where she was abandoned. Sort had previously been captured in December 1864 by USS O H Lee.
Louisiana. USS Arina, Lieutenant-Commander George Brown, was destroyed by an accidental fire in the Mississippi River below New Orleans.
South Carolina. Union Captain Stellwagen, USS Pawnee, was ordered to maintain waterborne communications with Major-General William Tecumseh Sherman’s armies from his base at Georgetown. On arrival, USS Chenango and USS Sonoma would be stationed to assist the forces ashore, one near the fort and the other at the light-house. Three tugs, Sweet Brier, Catalpa and Clover, and a dispatch boat were provided to provide support.
1 March 1865
South Carolina. Union Rear Admiral John Adolphus Dahlgren inspected the new base at Georgetown. As his flagship USS Harvest Moon was steaming down Georgetown Bay en route for Charleston, it struck a torpedo and sank within five minutes, with the loss of one man.
2 March 1865
Florida. The crew of the blockade-runner Rob Roy from Belize ran her ashore and burned her in Deadman’s Bay to avoid capture by an armed boat from USS Fox. The cargo removed from the wreck consisted of cavalry sabres, and farming and mechanical tools.
Georgia. The steamer Amazon, recently in use as a Confederate transport, surrendered to USS Pontiac, Lieutenant-Commander Luce, on the Savannah River. Amazon was carrying a cargo of cotton.
Tennessee. A Confederate torpedo boat and its nine-man crew were captured by a group of local armed civilians near Kingston. The crew and their equipment had travelled by rail from Richmond, Virginia, to Bristol in early January; they obtained a boat and launched it in the Holston River. Its mission was to destroy Union commerce and key bridges on the Tennessee River.
3 March 1865
Florida. USS Honeysuckle, Acting Master James J Russell, sighted the sloop Phantom attempting to enter the Suwannee River. An armed boat from the ship overhauled and captured the blockade-runner with a cargo of bar iron and liquor.
Florida. A Union naval squadron of twelve steamers and four schooners commanded by Commander R W Shufeldt joined Brigadier-General John Newton’s troops in an expedition to St Marks Fort below Tallahassee. The expedition crossed the bar to blockade the harbour and the mouth of the St Marks River, but could not traverse the shallow waters to attack the Confederate fort.
Louisiana. USS Glide, Acting Master L S Fickett, captured the schooner Malta in Vermilion Bayou, with a cargo of cotton.
North Carolina. Major-General William Tecumseh Sherman’s armies, marching parallel to the coast from Columbia, approached Fayetteville. The Navy continued to clear the Cape Fear River of torpedoes and obstructions in order to provide a base of supply at Wilmington. As the river was cleared, gunboats moved upriver to open communications. Lieutenant-Commander Ralph Chandler, USS Lenapee, reported from the junction of the Cape Fear River with the Black River that he was informed by freed slaves that Union forces were at Robeson, twenty miles from Fayetteville.
4 March 1865
Alabama. Union Major-General Edward Richard Sprigg Canby requested a fleet of mortar boats for the impending operations against Mobile.
Alabama. Union Lieutenant Moreau Forrest, in his flagship USS General Burnside and accompanied by USS General Thomas, Master Gilbert Morton, began an expedition up the Tennessee River across northern Alabama. The gunboats attacked and dispersed the encampment of Confederate Brigadier-General Philip Dale Roddey at Mussel Shoals. The expedition proceeded onwards to Lamb’s Ferry to destroy Confederate communications and transportation, and destroyed numerous barges, boats and scows along the course of the river. Finally, Forrest followed the Elk River into Tennessee to encourage the loyalist population.
North Carolina. The US transport Thorn struck a torpedo below Fort Anderson in the Cape Fear River. The vessel sank in two minutes but the crew escaped.
North Carolina. Union Acting Master H Walton Grinnell and a detachment of four sailors set out from Wilmington with important dispatches from Major-General John McAllister Schofield for Major-General William Tecumseh, believed to be advancing towards Fayetteville. Grinnell and his men began their voyage in a dugout and passed Confederate pickets undetected twelve miles up the Cape Fear River. They left the boat and began a long march towards Fayetteville. Near Whiteville, Grinnell’s men took horses and dashed through the Confederate lines.
Virginia. Spring floods in the James River made it possible for the Confederate ironclads to attack City Point, as they had previously attempted without success in January. Union commanders were equally alert to the opportunity and the ironclad USS Montauk was ordered to steam to City Point. More ironclads were to be sent to the James River from Charleston to strengthen the defences.
5 March 1865
Maryland. A landing party from USS Don under Acting Ensign McConnell destroyed a large boat in Passpatansy Creek, after a brief skirmish with Confederate raiders. The boat was capable of holding fifty men and was prepared carefully for silent movement.
Virginia. USS Aries sailed for the James River at daylight, and the ironclads USS Montauk and USS Monadnock were reported en route from the Cape Fear River. USS Sangamon arrived in Hampton Roads during the afternoon and ascended immediately up the James River to deter any Confederate naval attack. In the coming days, three additional ironclads joined the squadron in the James River.
6 March 1865
South Carolina. USS Jonquil, Acting Ensign Charles H Hanson, was damaged by a torpedo while clearing the Ashley River near Charleston, of obstructions and torpedoes. Jonquil had already secured three torpedoes when the torpedo exploded amidships and knocked nine men overboard. The vessel was completely flooded. USS Jonquil’s hull was not seriously damaged and was salvaged to resume dragging operations the following day.
7 March 1865
Virginia. Union Lieutenant-Commander Hooker, commanding USS Commodore Read, USS Yankee, USS Delaware, and USS Heliotrope, joined soldiers in a raid at Hamilton’s Crossing on the Rappahannock River six miles below Fredericksburg. The expedition destroyed the railroad bridge, the depot, and a length of railroad track. The telegraph line was cut and the telegraphic apparatus removed, along with valuable mail. A train of twenty-eight cars, eighteen of them loaded with tobacco, an army wagon train, mules and thirty prisoners were also captured.
South Carolina. USS Chenango, Lieutenant Morris, conducted a two-day reconnaissance up the Black River from Georgetown, for a distance of 45 miles. The gunboat exchanged fire with Confederate cavalry behind a levee at Brown’s Ferry.
10 March 1865
North Carolina. Union Lieutenant-Commander Young reported progress in clearing the Cape Fear River of obstacles. Small ships or steam launches could proceed upriver and three or four vessels abreast could pass the main line of obstructions. The obstructions comprised logs fastened around two sunken steamers, and with four torpedoes lodged among the logs. The river was difficult to navigate, narrow and tortuous with a strong current. The ironclad CSS Chickamauga was sunk across the stream at Indian Wells, with a chain below. The two dismounted guns were placed on a bluff on the western bank of the river.
North Carolina. A small naval force got underway up the Neuse River from New Bern to cut a pontoon bridge the Confederates were reported to be building below Kinston.
11 March 1865
Bahamas. The steamer Ajax put into Nassau. The ship’s commander, Confederate Lieutenant Low, transferred her registry on 25 March. The ship was suspected to be a tender for the ironclad vessel CSS Stonewall, currently blockaded by two Union warships at Ferrol, Spain.
North Carolina. Union Lieutenant-Commander George W Young led USS Eolus and boat crews from USS Maratanza, USS Lenapee, and USS Nyack up the Cape Fear River. The movement was undertaken at the request of Major-General Alfred Howe Terry who wished to connect the converging Union forces in North Carolina The expedition halted for the night at Devil’s Bend because of the difficult navigation of the river.
North Carolina. A Confederate deserter came aboard the Army steamer Ella May stating that General Braxton Bragg’s Confederate army had evacuated Kinston and was moving toward Goldsboro, and that the railroad bridge at Kinston was destroyed.
12 March 1865
Gulf of Mexico. USS Quaker City, Commander William F Spicer, captured the blockade-running British schooner R H Vermilyea with a cargo of coffee, clothes, rum, tobacco, and shoes.
Alabama. USS Althea, Acting Ensign Frederic A G Bacon, was sunk by a torpedo in the Blakely River. The tug was returning from an unsuccessful attempt to drag the river’s channel when she struck the torpedo, sinking immediately with two crewmen killed and three injured. Althea was the first of seven vessels to be sunk by torpedoes near Mobile in a five-week period.
North Carolina. The hulk of the CSS Chickamauga scuttled in the Cape Fear River just below Indian Wells was swept parallel to the bank by the current and a water link between Union forces in Wilmington and Fayetteville was opened.
North Carolina. USS Eolus, Lieutenant-Commander George W Young, and boat crews from USS Maratanza, USS Lenapee, and USS Nyack continued up the Cape Fear River from Devil’s Bend. They made a successful rendezvous with the army of Major-General William Tecumseh Sherman at Fayetteville during the evening. Acting Master H Walton Grinnell and a detachment of four sailors succeeded in delivering important dispatches from Major-General John McAllister Schofield to Sherman after a nine-day overland journey from Wilmington.
North Carolina. North Carolina. The Union naval expedition up the Neuse River returned during the evening.
13 March 1865
Virginia. Union Lieutenant-Commander Hooker led USS Commodore Read, USS Morse, USS Delaware, and the Army gunboat Mosswood up the Rappahannock River to assist in operations on the peninsula between the Rappahannock and Potomac Rivers. At Rappahannock, a landing party from USS Delaware, Acting Master Joshua H Eldridge, destroyed eight boats including a large flatboat used as a ferry. The bridge connecting Rappahannock with the abandoned Fort Lowry was destroyed by gunfire from USS Delaware and USS Morse, Acting Master George N V Hyde. During these operations, the gunboats exchanged fire for two hours with two rifled guns concealed in a wooded area and also opened fire on Confederate cavalry.
14 March 1865
Maryland. USS Wyandank, Acting Lieutenant Sylvanus Nickerson, seized the schooner Champanero off Inigoes Creek in the Chesapeake Bay. The Federal Customs Office at Port of St Mary’s had cleared the schooner and endorsed the accuracy of its manifest. When Nickerson examined the cargo, he found more than one half of it not listed, including a large quantity of powder. He also discovered that the customs official who had signed the clearance had disregarded $4,000 worth of liquor and other merchandise aboard.
North Carolina. Union forces occupied Kinston.
Virginia. Union Lieutenant-General Ulysses Simpson Grant had sent a large number of troops to White House and requested additional gunboats to be sent into the York and Pamunkey Rivers to ensure free navigation between White House and the mouth of the York River. USS Shawmut, Commodore Morris, was sent immediately for the purpose.
15 March 1865
Georgia. USS Lodona, Acting Lieutenant Robert P Swann, destroyed an extensive salt works on Broro Neck.
16 March 1865
Gulf of Mexico. USS Quaker City, Commander Spicer, captured the blockade-running sloop Telemico with a cargo of cotton and peanuts.
Alabama. Union Major-General Edward Richard Sprigg Canby requested naval gunfire and transport for the landing and movement of Union troops against Mobile. Six light-draft vessels were made ready for the operation.
Florida. USS Pursuit, Acting Lieutenant William R Browne, captured the British schooner Mary attempting to run the blockade into Indian River, with a cargo of shoes, percussion caps, and rum.
16 March 1865
Virginia. A three-day naval expedition led by Lieutenant-Commander Thomas H Eastman and consisting of USS Don, USS Stepping Stones, USS Heliotrope and USS Resolute, proceeded up the Rappahannock River and its tributary, Mattox Creek to Montrose. They destroyed a supply base used by Confederate guerrillas on the peninsula between the Rappahannock and Potomac Rivers. Eastman led a landing force of 70 Marines and sailors up the right fork of Mattox Creek where he found and destroyed four boats. A second landing party, led by Acting Ensign William H Summers, cleared the left fork. As they destroyed three schooners they came under fire from about 50 Confederate cavalry, whose attack was repelled.
17 March 1865
North Carolina. USS Wyalusing, Lieutenant-Commander Earl English, engaged in clearing and opening the tributaries of Albemarle Sound, removed 60 nets and captured a Confederate schooner in Scuppernong and Alligator Rivers.
South Carolina. The US Coast Survey steamer Bibb, Charles O Boutelle, struck a submerged torpedo in Charleston harbour, The explosion occurred to one side but the ship required considerable repairs because of the impact.
Texas. USS Quaker City, Commander Spicer, captured the blockade-running schooner George Burkhart with a cargo of cotton, bound from Lavaca for Matamoras.
19 March 1865
South Carolina. USS Massachusetts, Acting Lieutenant William H West, struck a torpedo in Charleston harbour within 50 yards of the wreck of USS Patapsco, but it failed to explode.
20 March 1865
North Carolina. Union Commander William H Macomb, USS Shamrock, reported the successful raising of the Confederate ram CSS Albemarle.
21 March 1865
Spain. CSS Stonewall, Captain T J Page, having been detained in Ferrol for several days because of foul weather, attempted to put to sea. However, the seas outside were still too heavy and the ironclad put back into port.
Alabama. Union gunboats supported the landing of troops of Major-General Edward Richard Sprigg Canby’s command at Dannelly’s Mills on the Fish River. This was a diversionary operation intended to prevent Confederate reinforcements from moving to Mobile prior to the opening of the Union attack against that city.
23 March 1865
Spain. CSS Stonewall, Captain T J Page, made a second attempt to put to sea but was forced by heavy seas to put back into port. Page off-loaded 40 tons of coal to make her more seaworthy.
North Carolina. Union Major-General William Tecumseh Sherman’s army was attacked at Bentonville, midway between his two river contacts with the sea at Fayetteville and Goldsboro. Sherman was joined by Major-General John McAllister Schofield’s army at Goldsboro, which was marching inland from Wilmington. Sherman left for a few days aboard the steamer Russia and travelled to City Point, Virginia, for a meeting with President Abraham Lincoln, Lieutenant-General Ulysses Simpson Grant, and Rear Admiral David Dixon Porter. The President travelled from Washington aboard the River Queen, escorted by USS Bat.
24 March 1865
Spain. The Confederate ironclad CSS Stonewall, Captain T J Page, put to sea from Ferrol after two previous attempts had been frustrated by foul weather. Page cleared the harbour at mid-morning and attempted to engage the wooden frigate, USS Niagara, Commodore T T Craven, and the sloop USS Sacramento, Captain Henry Walke. Craven kept his ships at anchor in La Coruna and declined the challenge of the powerful ironclad. Craven was subsequently court-martialled and found remiss in his duties for failing to engage CSS Stonewall. The court sentenced Craven to two years suspension on leave pay but Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles refused to approve a “paid vacation” and instead restored Craven to duty.
North Carolina. USS Republic, Acting Ensign John W Bennett, proceeded up the Cape Fear River from Wilmington to check reports that Confederate cavalry was operating in the area. About six miles up the river a cavalry squad was driven away with gunfire. Bennett then landed a reconnoitring party and learned that the mounted Confederates were plundering the country in small groups. The reconnaissance party also made contact with a rearguard detachment of Major-General William Tecumseh Sherman’s army en route to Fayetteville.
Virginia. US President Abraham Lincoln arrived at City Point at 9pm to visit Lieutenant-General Ulysses Simpson Grant. The President travelled aboard River Queen escorted up the James River by USS Bat, Lieutenant-Commander John S Barnes.
Texas. USS Quaker City, Commander Spicer, captured the blockade-runner Cora with a cargo of lumber off Brazos Santiago.
25 March 1865
Virginia. In response to a Confederate attack, Union Rear Admiral David Dixon Porter placed gunboats on the Appomattox to protect the Army’s pontoon bridge.
Virginia. USS Wilderness, Acting Master Henry Arey, was ordered up the Chickahominy River to make contact with Major-General Philip Henry Sheridan, to exchange intelligence about Confederate activity along the river, and to carry dispatches.
26 March 1865
Louisianan. A detachment of sailors led by Acting Ensign Peyton H Randolph of USS Benton joined troops for an expedition to Trinity, where they captured a small number of Confederate soldiers as well as horses, arms and stores.
27 March 1865
Portugal. CSS Stonewall, Captain T J Page, planned to leave Lisbon for Tenerife and then onwards a Confederate port. During the evening, USS Niagara and USS Sacramento, which had followed CSS Stonewall from La Coruna in Spain, entered Lisbon harbour.
Alabama. 7 March 1865
-28 March 1865
Alabama. Union operations aimed at capturing Mobile commenced. The first objective was Spanish Fort, located near the mouth of the Blakely River and the key to the city’s defences. The Navy’s ironclads and gunboats steamed up the Blakely River to cut the fort’s communications with Mobile while the army began to move against the fort’s outer works. The river was densely obstructed by with torpedoes which required laborious sweeping operations ahead of the advancing ironclads. These efforts were directed by Commander Peirce Crosby of USS Metacomet and extracted 150 torpedoes. Nevertheless, many torpedoes eluded the Union search.
Maryland. USS: Wyoming, Commander John P Bankhead, was ordered to sail from Baltimore in search of CSS Shenandoah. USS Wyoming was ordered to cruise from Melbourne, Australia, to China, but CSS Shenandoah had already departed Australia and was nearing Ascension Island. USS Wyoming would join USS Wachusett and USS Iroquois in independent efforts to track down the elusive commerce raider.
South Carolina. A Union four-day expedition which was led by Captain Stellwagen for fifty miles up the Waccamaw River to Conwayboro returned to Georgetown. USS Mingoe, Lieutenant-Commander G U Morris and Lieutenant-Commander William H Dana towed ten armed boats to Buck’s Mills and then had the option to proceed onward by boats or land. The arrival of a steam launch and two large rowing launches from the Santee River, and the steam tug Catalpa allowed the ships to ascend as high as the water level permitted. USS Mingoe was found ashore near Buckj’s Mills and was recovered to deeper water. The shore expedition had continued on foot and was joined by the launches at Conwayboro by nightfall. No Confederate troops were encountered but local people reported that they had fled at the sight of the Catalpa, four large launches, and ten boats carrying about 300 men and 7 howitzers.
28 March 1865
Portugal. CSS Stonewall, Captain T J Page, departed Lisbon for Tenerife and then onwards to Nassau and then to whichever Confederate port was appropriate. USS Niagara and USS Sacramento, which had followed CSS Stonewall to Lisbon were held in Lisbon harbour for a further 24 hours to comply with international law. USS Niagara, Commodore T T Craven, began moving farther upriver at 3.15pm, to be nearer the usual landing stage when it was fired upon three times by Portuguese guns in Castle Belem. Portugal later apologised for the misunderstanding.
Alabama. USS Milwaukee, Lieutenant-Commander James H Gillis, was dropping downstream after shelling a Southern transport attempting to supply Spanish Fort when it struck a torpedo in the Blakely River. The torpedo exploded on the port side of the vessel and the stern went underwater within three minutes. The forward compartments did not fill for almost an hour, enabling the sailors to escape without loss of life.
Virginia. Union Rear Admiral David Dixon Porter visited US President Abraham Lincoln, Lieutenant-Generals Ulysses Simpson Grant and Major-General William Tecumseh Sherman aboard the steamer River Queen at City Point. The four men discussed the final stages of the prosecution of the war and Lincoln stressed his desire to end the war as quickly and with as little bloodshed as possible. After the conference, Sherman returned to New Bern in North Carolina, aboard USS Bat, Lieutenant-Commander Barnes. Following the Presidential conference, Porter ordered Commander William H Macomb, commanding in the North Carolina Sounds, to provide seaborne supply to Sherman’s armies by way of Kinston and to ensure clear navigation of the Chowan River and Neuse River.
29 March 1865
Alabama. USS Osage, Lieutenant-Commander William M Gamble, got underway inside the bar at the Blakely River. Gamble was manoeuvring to avoid USS Winnebago which was drifting alongside, when a torpedo exploded under the ironclad’s bow. The ship immediately began to sink. USS Osage lost four men killed and eight wounded in the explosion.
Virginia. To provide immediate support for the Union army’s advance southwest of Petersburg, gunboats were moved to the Appomattox River, near the pontoon bridge, to the James River near the mouth of Bailey’s Creek, and to the mouth of the first stream below City Point.
30 March 1865
Louisiana. Confederate Lieutenant Charles W Read took command of the ram CSS William H Webb in the Red River. Read found the ship unarmed, under-crewed, without fuel, and without small arms. He obtained a 30-pounder Parrott rifle and prepared the gunboat for a dash down the Red River and into the Mississippi, and then past New Orleans, for an escape out to sea.
31 March 1865
Florida. USS Iuka. Lieutenant William C Rogers, captured the blockade-running British schooner Comus off the coast with a cargo of cotton.
Maryland. The schooner St Mary’s was boarded and captured off the Patuxent River in Chesapeake Bay by a Confederate raiding party led by Master John C Braine. The disguised Confederates came alongside the schooner in a yawl under the pretext that their craft was sinking. Braine took St Mary’s to sea and captured the New York bound schooner J B Spafford. The prize was released after the raiders had placed St Mary’s crew aboard. The Confederates indicated to their captives that their intention was to take St Mary’s to St Marks, Florida, but they headed instead for Nassau.
1 April 1865
Ascension Island. CSS Shenandoah, Lieutenant Waddell, put into Lea Harbour. The raider had sighted only one vessel since 20 February when it departed from Melbourne. Waddell found the whalers Pearl, Hector, Harvest, and Edward Carey anchored in the harbour and seized them, obtaining valuable charts showing the location of the whaling grounds most frequented by American whalers. In addition to obtaining this intelligence, Waddell stocked CSS Shenandoah’s storerooms with provisions and supplies from the four prizes. The ships were then drawn upon a reef where the local inhabitants were permitted to strip them before the wrecks were burned. Of the 130 prisoners, 8 were shipped aboard CSS Shenandoah and the remainder were set ashore to be picked up by a passing whaler.
Alabama. USS Rodolph, temporarily commanded by Acting Ensign James F Thompson, struck a torpedo in the Blakely River and sank rapidly. The gunboat was towing a barge carrying apparatus to raise USS Milwaukee, a recent torpedo victim. Four men were killed and eleven others wounded.
North Carolina. Union Commander William H Macomb set out in the evening from Plymouth with the USS Shamrock, USS Wyoming, USS Hunchback, USS Valley City, and USS Whitehead up the Roanoke River as far as the Stumpy Reach, where they anchored for the night.
Virginia. The steamboat River Queen returned to Washington, DC, and President Abraham Lincoln embarked on USS Malvern.
2 April 1865
North Carolina. Union Commander William H Macomb with USS Shamrock, USS Wyoming, USS Hunchback, USS Valley City, and USS Whitehead began dragging for torpedoes as they proceeded up the Roanoke River. He sent for the USS Commodore Hull and USS Shokokon to join the expedition from New Bern. On the way upriver the expedition was joined by three canal boats loaded with troops from Norfolk.
2 April 1865
Virginia. Confederate Secretary of the Navy Stephen Russell Mallory ordered the destruction of the Confederate James River Squadron and directed its officers and men to join General Robert Edward Lee’s troops retreating westward from Richmond toward Danville. Mallory’s orders were carried out by Rear Admiral Raphael Semmes who burned and scuttled the ironclads CSS Virginia II, CSS Fredericksburg, and CSS Richmond near Drewry’s Bluff. CSS Virginia II was destroyed by the explosion of its magazine at 3.15 am the next morning.
3 April 1865
Virginia. After destroying his three ironclads at Drewry’s Bluff, Confederate Rear Admiral Raphael Semmes set off up the James River with the former 400 crewmen on wooden gunboats. Semmes disembarked at Richmond and then destroyed his remaining gunboats. The naval detachment found a locomotive, attached railroad cars, and proceeded to Danville, where they arrived on 4 April 1865.
Virginia. Fifty Midshipmen of the Confederate Naval Academy, under the command of Lieutenant William H Parker, escorted the archives of the government and the specie and bullion of the treasury from Richmond to Danville. The Midshipmen Corps was entrusted with guard duty during the subsequent moves of the archives and treasury to Charlotte, North Carolina, then to Washington and Augusta in Georgia, and finally, to Abbeville, South Carolina. Ten Midshipmen remained in Richmond under the command of Lieutenant James W Billups where they burned and scuttled CSS Patrick Henry, the former school ship of the Naval Academy.
3 April 1865
Virginia. Union Rear Admiral David Dixon Porter’s fleet to remove torpedoes and obstructions from the James River. Sweeping for torpedoes was conducted by 20 boats assigned from 10 ships in the flotilla. Lieutenant-Commander Ralph Chandler directed the sweeping operations, while shore parties from USS Monadnock kept ahead of the boats to cut torpedo wires. Once the upper river was cleared of torpedoes and obstructions, Union ships could steam as far as Richmond.
Virginia. Confederate Commodore John R Tucker, commanding the Naval Brigade at Drewry’s Bluff on the James River, was not advised about the evacuation of Richmond. Tucker remained in position until he saw the smoke from the burning ironclads and learned that Confederate troops were leaving Richmond. Tucker attached the Naval Brigade to Major-General George Washington Custis Lee’s division.
4 April 1865
Alabama. Union Major-General Edward Richard Sprigg Canby requested eight or ten boats to move troops for an assault on Battery Tracy and Battery Huger, in the defences of Mobile.
Alabama. A naval battery of three 30-pounder Parrott rifles commanded by Lieutenant-Commander Gillis, former captain of the torpedoed ironclad USS Milwaukee, was landed on the banks of the Blakely River to join the bombardment of Spanish Fort in the defences of Mobile.
North Carolina. USS Shokokon arrived at Winton and was stationed near a high bluff where they destroyed an abandoned fortification. Fifty soldiers were sent from Winton to hold the bluff until Commander William H Macomb’s naval expedition passed.
Virginia. Confederate Rear Admiral Raphael Semmes arrived at Danville by train from Richmond with his naval detachment. Semmes was presently commissioned Brigadier-General and placed in command of the defences around Danville. These defences were manned by sailors who had been organised into an artillery brigade, and by two battalions of infantry.
Virginia. Union Rear Admiral David Dixon Porter accompanied President Abraham Lincoln up the James River to Richmond aboard USS Malvern. When obstructions blocked the flagship’s way, the two men embarked in a barge with three aides and a boat crew of twelve. The President reached the Confederate capital in a single small boat under oars. Much of Richmond was on fire. The party landed about one block above Libby Prison where Porter formed ten sailors into a guard detachment armed with carbines. Six marched in front and four in rear, and in the middle with the President and the Admiral walked Captain Penrose, Lincoln’s military aide, Captain Adams of the Navy, and Lieutenant Clemens of the Signal Corps.
Virginia. The Union occupying troops in Richmond found that the Confederates’ ironclads and gunboats had been blown up, with the exception of the unfinished ram CSS Texas and the tugboat CSS Beaufort. The ships destroyed included the ironclads CSS Virginia II, CSS Richmond, and CSS Fredericksburg; the wooden warships CSS Nansemond, CSS Hampton, CSS Roanoke, CSS Torpedo, CSS Shrapnel, and the school-ship CSS Patrick Henry. The wrecks partly obstructed the channel and needed to be raised or further destroyed.
5 April 1865
Maryland. The steamer Harriet De Ford was boarded and seized in Chesapeake Bay thirty miles below Annapolis, by a party of 27 Confederate guerrillas led by Captain T Fitzhugh. A Union naval detachment under Lieutenant-Commander Edward Hooker was sent in pursuit and found Harriet De Ford trapped and burned in Dimer’s Creek, Virginia. A prisoner reported that a pilot had taken the steamer into the creek but after going aground several times, the cargo was thrown overboard to lighten the ship and the remainder was unloaded before the steamer was destroyed.
North Carolina. Commander William H Macomb continued up the narrowing Chowan River and its tributaries in preparation for Major-General William Tecumseh Sherman’s northward march. He reported that he had reached the Meherrin River near Murfreesboro.
6 April 1865
Virginia. Confederate Commodore John R Tucker’s Naval Brigade at surrendered with Major-General George Washington Custis Lee’s division after a rearguard action at Sayler’s Creek.
Virginia. Union Lieutenant-Commander Ramsay reported that all detectable Confederate underwater defences in the James River had been removed or destroyed.
7 April 1865
North Carolina. Union Commander William H Macomb reported that his expedition had reached Winton from Murfreesboro during the night. The accompanying army detachment had returned after finding Weldon too strongly garrisoned but had succeeded in cutting the railroad near Seaboard for about a mile. The gunboats prepared to turn back for Suffolk, Virginia.
8 April 1865
Alabama. After a heavy bombardment by the guns of the Union fleet, Spanish Fort and Fort Alexis surrendered to the besieging troops of Major-General Edward Richard Sprigg Canby. The Confederate garrison, included a Naval detachment under Flag Officer Ebenezer Farrand, drawn from CSS Nashville, CSS Morgan, CSS Huntsville, CSS Tuscaloosa, and CSS Baltic.
North Carolina. Confederate Lieutenant W H Parker, commander of the Midshipmen escorting the Confederate archives and treasury, arrived in Charlotte, North Carolina, from Danville and deposited the important cargo in the Confederate Mint. Parker learned that a Union cavalry detachment was nearby and since the city was without military protection, the officer prepared to move the archives and treasury further south. He added the uniformed personnel of the local Navy Yard to his escort, bringing its numbers up to 150 men. The wife of the Confederate President, who had only recently arrived in Charlotte, joined the force when it departed.
9 April 1865
Great Britain. The blockade-runner Chameleon (formerly the raider CSS Tallahassee), Lieutenant Wilkinson, put into Liverpool. Wilkinson had been unable to reach any Confederate port and off-loaded his cargo at Nassau. He then set a course for Liverpool with the intention of turning the ship over to Confederate agents. The ship was seized by the British government and her officers and men discharged. The ship was subsequently sold under the name Amelia later turned over to the American consul at Liverpool on 26 April 1866.
Virginia. Confederate Rear Admiral Raphael Semmes and his naval brigade defending Danville were included in the formal surrender of Confederate forces agreed at Appomattox Court House.
11 April 1865
USA. US President Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation warning foreign nations that the continued denial of privileges and immunities to American naval vessels in foreign ports would result in similar action against foreign warships in the USA. This was the President’s last proclamation dealing with the Navy.
Alabama. Battery Tracy and Battery Huger, up the Blakely River from Spanish Fort, fell to Union forces and the Confederate troops retreated through Mobile to Meridian, Mississippi.
Alabama. Before the evacuation of Mobile, the ironclads CSS Huntsville and CSS Tuscaloosa were sunk in Spanish River. CSS Nashville, CSS Baltic, and CSS Morgan fled up the Tombigbee River to avoid capture.
Florida. USS Sea Bird, Acting Master Ezra L Robbins, seized and destroyed the sloops Florida and Annie with cargoes of cotton off Crystal River.
11 April 1865
Alabama. Union Commodore Palmer aboard USS Octorara, led his ironclad fleets up the Blakely River to its intersection with the Tensas River and then turned down to Mobile where they took up bombarding positions in front of the city. Meanwhile, the lighter gunboats of the fleet were convoying 8,000 Union troops under Major-General Gordon Granger across the head of the bay for the final attack on Mobile. The city was evacuated by Confederate troops and the Mayor surrendered to the surrounding Union forces.
13 April 1865
Alabama. USS Ida, Acting Ensign Franklin Ellms, struck a torpedo on her starboard side and sank in Mobile Bay. Ida was the fifth vessel in less than five weeks to be sunk by a Confederate torpedo in the vicinity of Mobile.
North Carolina. Union Commander William H Macomb reported that the Confederates had evacuated Weldon, burning the bridge, destroying the ram at Edwards Ferry, and throwing the guns at Rainbow Bluff into the river. Except for torpedoes, the Roanoke River was reported clear for navigation.
14 April 1865
Ascension Island. CSS Shenandoah, Lieutenant James I Waddell, departed on a northerly course for the Kurile Islands. The raider aimed to inflict damage to the American whaling fleet in the North Pacific.
District of Columbia. US President Abraham Lincoln was shot shortly after 10 pm at Ford’s Theatre.
Alabama. USS Sciota, Acting Lieutenant James W Magune, struck a torpedo which caused severe damage and then sank off Mobile.
Alabama. A launch from USS Cincinnati, Lieutenant-Commander George Brown, was blown up and three men killed while removing a torpedo which accidentally struck the boat’s stern.
15 April 1865
District of Columbia. US President Abraham Lincoln died at 7:22 am.
District of Columbia. Union Commodore John B Montgomery, Commandant of the Washington Navy Yard was ordered to prepare an ironclad monitor to incarcerate the assassin of the President when apprehended. The US Marine Corps would provide the guard.
South Carolina. In accordance with a directive of US President Abraham Lincoln, Brigadier-General Robert Anderson, commander of the Union garrison at Fort Sumter at the outbreak of war, raised above the ruins the same United States flag which had waved during the original attack and was lowered and saluted when the fort was evacuated on 14 April, 1861.
17 April 1865
USA. The US Navy Department directed that a gun be fired in honour of the late President Abraham Lincoln each half-hour, from sunrise to sunset, that all flags be kept at half-mast until after the funeral, and that officers wear mourning crepe for six months.
Alabama. Sunken obstructions placed in the channel of Blakely River were removed by blasting directed by Master Adrian C Starrett of USS Maria A Wood. This was a new method adopted to clear navigational hazards from Mobile Bay.
Georgia. The Confederate ironclad CSS Jackson (previously CSS Muskogee) was destroyed at Columbus after Union Army forces overran the Confederate defence of the city. The navy yard, foundries, arsenal and armoury, and weapons factory were also destroyed.
Georgia. Union troops found the burned hulk of CSS Chattahoochee twelve miles below Columbus.
Maryland. Acting Master J H Eldridge, USS Delaware, reported that information was received that the assassin of the President was near Point Lookout. All available naval vessels were ordered to assist in the blockade of the eastern shore of Virginia and Maryland from Point Lookout to Baltimore.
17 April 1865
Georgia. Confederate Lieutenant W H Parker, commanding a naval detachment escorting the Confederate archives, treasury, and President Jefferson Finis Davis’ wife, arrived at Washington. The group had evaded Union patrols on their journey from Charlotte.
17 April 1865
District of Columbia. Two of the suspects arrested for the assassination of the President (Lewis Paine and Michael O’Laughlin) were transferred from overnight imprisonment in the Old Capitol Prison to USS Montauk and USS Saugus, anchored off the Washington Navy Yard in the Anacostia River. Mrs Mary E Surrat was jailed in the Carroll Annex of Old Capitol Prison. Samuel B Arnold joined the prisoners aboard the ironclads on 19 April and Edward Spangler arrived on 24 April. George A Atzerodt, the intended assassin of Vice President Andrew Johnson and Ernest Hartman Richter were brought aboard the ships on the 20 April. Joao Celestino was transferred from Old Capitol Prison to USS Montauk on 25 April. The last of the eight conspiracy suspects to be incarcerated aboard the ironclads was David E Herold. The prisoners were kept below decks under heavy guard and were manacled with both wrist and leg irons. Their heads were covered with canvas hoods with cotton pads that tightly muffled the prisoners’ eyes and ears. The hoods contained two openings for breathing and eating.
19 April 1865
District of Columbia. Funeral of President Abraham Lincoln.
Georgia. Having left the female members of his group at Washington, Confederate Lieutenant W H Parker and the naval detachment escorting the Confederate archives and treasury reached Augusta, where Parker hoped to find civilian and military officials who could take possession of his charge. Parker placed the cargo in bank vaults and posted a guard around the building.
Louisiana. USS Lexington, Acting Lieutenant William Flye, took Union Colonel John T Sprague, Chief of Staff to Major-General John Pope, from Cairo, Illinois, up the Red River to meet Confederate General Edmund Kirby Smith. During the ensuing conference at Shreveport, Smith was given the terms of surrender of Confederate forces west of the Mississippi.
Texas. Union The blockade-runner Denbigh grounded on the Galveston bar attempting to put to sea under cover of night. The crew threw overboard 200 bales of cotton, of which 140 were recovered by USS Cornubia and USS Gertrude. The Denbigh escaped the shoal and returned to Galveston. The Denbigh eventually succeeded in running through the Union blockade and put into Havana on 1 May 1865.
21 April 1865
Texas. USS Cornubia, Acting Lieutenant John A Johnstone, captured the blockade-running British schooner Chaos off Galveston with a cargo of cotton.
22 April 1865
Bermuda. The schooner St Mary’s arrived in Nassau. The schooner had been seized in the Chesapeake Bay by ten Confederate raiders on 31 March led by Master John C Braine. The British authorities were pressed to seize the vessel and apprehend the crew for piracy. However, St Mary’s was permitted to put to sea after being adjudged as a legitimate prize.
23 April 1865
Louisiana. The steamer CSS Webb, Lieutenant Read, began a dash from Alexandria down the Red River and entered the Mississippi River at 8:30 pm. The sudden appearance of CSS Webb caught the Union blockaders at the mouth of the Red River by surprise and she was initially identified as a Union vessel. The mistake gave Read a lead as he headed downstream towards the Gulf of Mexico. A running battle began but CSS Webb shook off the three pursuers. As Read proceeded down the Mississippi, other blockading ships joined the chase but all were left behind by the fast steamer. On his approach towards New Orleans, Read halted to cut the telegraph wires along the bank but shore batteries and ships were already alerted to intercept him. About ten miles above New Orleans, Read hoisted the United States flag at half-mast in mourning for Lincoln’s death as a subterfuge and brought CSS Webb’s steam up to maximum pressure. He passed the city at about midnight, travelling full speed. When Union gunboats opened fire, Read hoisted the Confederate flag. Three hits were scored and the spar torpedo rigged at the steamer’s bow was damaged and had to be jettisoned, but the Webb continued on course toward the sea.
24 April 1865
Louisiana. The steamer CSS Webb, Lieutenant Read, continued down the Mississippi River from New Orleans towards the sea. Twenty-five miles below New Orleans, CSS Webb encountered USS Richmond. Caught between USS Richmond and gunboats pursuing from behind, Read was forced to run CSS Webb aground. The crew set the steamer on fire and then headed into the swamps in an effort to escape. Read and his crew were apprehended within a few hours and taken under guard to New Orleans.
Georgia. Confederate Lieutenant W H Parker and the naval detachment guarding the Confederate archives and treasury at Augusta withdrew the cargo from the bank vaults and set out for Abbeville, South Carolina. Near Washington, Parker met the Confederate President’s wife and others proceeding independently to Florida with a small escort. Gaining no information on the President’s whereabouts, Parker continued towards Abbeville, while Mrs Davis’ party resumed its journey Southward.
26 April 1865
South Carolina. The ironclad ram CSS Columbia was re-floated by a Union naval crew after. The ship was found abandoned near Fort Moultrie when Charleston was occupied on 17 February. The powerful warship had a casemate 65 feet long, pierced for six guns, one on each side and one at each of the four corners that could pivot ahead or astern or to the side. With two high-pressure engines, and 6 inches of iron armour, it was rated as the best ironclad built by the Confederates but it never entered active service.
27 April 1865
District of Columbia. The bodies of the President’s assassin, John Wilkes Booth, and his co-conspirator David E Herold were brought aboard USS Montauk, anchored in the Anacostia River off the Washington Navy Yard. After an autopsy, Booth’s corpse was taken by boat to the Washington Arsenal where it was buried in a gun box the following day. Herold was incarcerated in the hold of USS Montauk which, along with USS Saugus, was being used for the secure imprisonment of eight suspected conspirators.
Tennessee. The river steamer Sultana blew up in the Mississippi River above Memphis, killing 1,450 out of 2,000 passengers, all but 50 of whom were Union prisoners of war who had been released. Sultana was en route to Cairo, Illinois, when a violent explosion ripped the ship apart and turned it into an inferno of flame.
Virginia. USS Tristram Shandy, Acting Lieutenant Francis M Green, was stationed at Cape Henry to watch for CSS Stonewall.
28 April 1865
Alabama. USS Octorara, USS Sebago, and USS Winnebago steamed up the Tombigbee River, to blockade CSS Nashville and CSS Morgan which had steamed upriver when Mobile fell.
29 April 1865
Georgia. Confederate Lieutenant W H Parker and the naval detachment guarding the Confederate archives and treasury arrived in Abbeville. The cargo was stored in guarded rail ears and a full head of steam was kept on the locomotive in case of emergency. Confederate President Jefferson Finis Davis and his entourage entered Abbeville on 2 May 1865
Kentucky. USS Moose, Acting Master W C Coulson, led a surprise attack on a Confederate raiding party of about 200 men from Confederate Brigadier-General Abraham Buford’s command as the raiders were crossing the Cumberland River. The raiders were on their way to sack and burn Eddyville. USS Moose sank two boats laden with troops with gunfire and then put a landing party ashore which engaged the remaining Confederates. The landing force dispersed the detachment after killing or wounding twenty men and taking six prisoners.
South Carolina. USS Donegal, Acting Lieutenant George D Upham, was ordered to cruise from Bulls Bay to the Savannah River in search of the ironclad CSS Stonewall.
30 April 1865
District of Columbia. The eight suspects in the Lincoln assassination plot who had been imprisoned on USS Montauk and USS Saugus were transferred to the Arsenal Penitentiary, the site of their trial by military tribunal.
19 May 1965
Cuba. The blockade-runner Owl, Commander Maffitt, reached Havana after successfully evading sixteen Union cruisers to enter and leave the harbour at Galveston, Texas, with military supplies. He resupplied his ship and returned to Liverpool via Nassau.
Note: The Naval Chronology is incomplete from 1st May 1865. Some Naval events may be found in the Day-by-Day Chronology.