Each year is divided into two halves (January through June
and July through December)
War Naval Chronology 1861-1865
Published 1966 by Naval History Division
, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations
, Navy Department
in blue are information concerning submarine warfare derived from Mark Ragan's
- August - September - October
- November - December
1 The Western Flotilla of Flag Officer
joined the fleet of Flag Officer Farragut above Vicks-burg. Farragut wrote:
"The ironclads are curious looking things to us salt-water gentlemen; but
no doubt they are better calculated for this river than our ships. . . . They
look like great turtles.
came on board . . . . We have made the circuit (since we met at Port Royal)
around half the United States and met on the
." The meeting of the fresh-water and salt-water squadrons had considerable
psychological value throughout the North, but it did not imply control over the
river so long as the Gibraltar-like fortress of Vicksburg remained unsubdued. In
a military sense this temporary joining of the squadrons pointed up the
necessity for the arduous, year-long amphibious campaign which was necessary to
President Lincoln recommended to the Congress that Flag Officer Foote be given a
vote of thanks for his efforts on the western waters. The President knew well
the import of the defeats dealt the Confederacy by the gunboats on the upper
. He recognized that Foote's forces had cleared the
, and had succeeded in splitting the Confederacy as far as
on the Father of Waters.
Soto, Captain W. M. Walker, captured British schooner William attempting to run the blockade at
1-2 Flag Officer L. M. Goldsborough's fleet covered the withdrawal of General
McClellan's army after a furious battle with Confederate forces under General
Robert E. Lee at Malvern Hill.
Dependent on the Navy for his movement to Harrison's Landing, chosen by
McClellan at Commodore J. Rodgers recommendation because it was so situated that
gunboats could protect both flanks of his army, the General acknowledged the
decisive role played by the Navy in enabling his troops to withdraw with a
minimum loss: "Commodore Rodgers placed his gunboats so as to protect our
flanks and to command the approaches from Richmond . . . During the whole battle
Commodore Rodgers added greatly to the discomfiture of the enemy by throwing
shell among his reserve and advancing columns.'' The Washington National
Intelligencer of 7 July described the gunboats' part in the action at Malvern Hill: "About five o'clock in the after-noon the
, Aroostook, and Jacob Bell opened from Turkey Island Bend, in the
, with shot and shell from their immense guns. The previous roar of field
artillery seemed as faint as the rattle of musketry in comparison with these
monsters of ordnance that literally shook the water and strained the air. . . .
They fired about three times a minute, frequently a broadside at a time, and the
immense hull of the
careened as she delivered her complement of iron and flame. The fire went on .
. . making music to the ears of our tired men. . . . Confederate] ranks seemed
slow to close up when the naval thunder had torn them apart. . . During the
engagement at White Oak Swamp, too, the Intelligencer reported, the gunboats
"are entitled to the most unbounded credit. They came into action just at
the right time, and did first rate service.'' The Navy continued to safeguard
the supply line until the Army of the Potomac was evacuated to northern
in August, bringing to a close the unsuccessful Peninsular Campaign.
2 USS Western
World, Acting Master Samuel B. Gregory, captured blockade running British
schooner Volante in
, with cargo of salt and fish.
3 USS Quaker
City, Commander Frailey, captured blockade running British brig Lilla
Commander Emmons, captured schooner Sarah
, with cargo of sugar and molasses.
4 USS Maratanza,
Lieutenant Stevens, engaged CSS Teaser,
Lieutenant Davidson, at Haxall's on the
. Teaser was abandoned and captured after a shell from Maratanza
exploded her boiler. In addition to placing mines in the river, Davidson had
gone down the river with a balloon on board for the purpose of making an aerial
reconnaissance of General McClellan's positions at City Point and
's Landing. By this time both
and Confederate forces were utilizing the balloon for gathering intelligence; Teaser
had been the Southern counterpart of USS G. W.
Parke Custis, from whose deck aerial observations had been made the preceding
year. The balloon, as well as a quantity of insulated wire and mine equipment,
were found on board Teaser. Six shells
with ''peculiar fuzes'' were also taken and sent to Captain Dahlgren at the
Washington Navy Yard for examination.
Commander J. Rodgers reported to Flag Officer L. M. Goldsborough on the
stationing of the gunboats supporting the Army's position at
's Landing: "It is now too late, I hope, for the enemy to attack the army
here with any chance of success. The troops are in good spirits and everyone
seems confident." Major General McClellan advised President Lincoln that
"Captain Rodgers is doing all in his power in the kindest and most
efficient manner." General Robert E. Lee came to the same conclusion in a
letter to Confederate President Davis: ''The enemy is strongly posted in the
neck formed by Herring creek and
. . . The enemy's batteries occupy the ridge along which the Charles City road
runs, north to the creek, and his gunboats lying below the mouth of the creek
sweep the ground in front of his batteries Above his encamp-ments which lie on
the river, his gunboats also extend; where the ground is more favorable to be
searched by their cannon. As far as I can now see there is no way to attack him
to advantage; nor do I wish to expose the men to the destructive missiles of his
gunboats . . . I fear he is too secure under cover of his boats to be driven
from his position.
Island, Commander Trenchard, captured blockade running British schooner R.
O. Bryan off the coast of
The tug Fred
Kopp leaves the
and returns Alligator to Philadelphia
Navy Yard. On this same day, C.S.S. Teaser
captured by U.S.S. Maratanza on the
; the Confederate ship carries detailed schematics of the new ironclad, Virginia
II, which is nearing completion. Alligator is hastily recalled, but the civilian crew declines the
5 Act to reorganize the
Navy Department increased the number of Bureaus to eight: Yards and Docks,
Equipment and Recruiting, Navigation, Ordnance, Construction and Repair, Steam
Engineering, Provisions and Clothing, Medicine and Surgery. This act, and other
far-reaching measures were guided through Congress by Senator Grimes of
, who had an outstanding appreciation of sea power.
Commander Emmons, captured sloop
6 Commodore Wilkes ordered to command James River Flotilla as a division of the
North Atlantic Blockading Squadron, Flag Officer L. M. Goldsborough. Secretary
of the Navy Welles' instructions to Wilkes stated: "You will immediately
place yourself in communication with Major General McClellan, Commanding the
Army of the Potomac, near Harrison's Landing . . . It will be your special duty
to keep open the navigation of James River and afford protection to all vessels
trans-porting troops or supplies, and generally to cooperate with the army in
all military movements.
7 Commander J. Rodgers reported to Flag Officer L. M. Goldsborough on the
convoying of Army transports on James River: There is to be a convoy of gunboats
each day from
's Bar to near the mouth of the Chickahominy, going and returning each day. As
there was no better reason for the time than the arrival and departure of the
mail from Old Point, it was agreed that at 9 a.m. all the transportation down
should sail, convoyed by gunboats-I had selected four for it. And at 3 p.m. all
the army transportation to this point should come up, convoyed by the same
force." Convoy and cover of supply ships by the gunboats were indispensable
to General McClellan's army.
Lieutenant John C. Howell, captured schooner Uncle Mose off Yucatan
, with cargo of cotton.
City, Commander Frailey, in company with USS
Huntsville, captured blockade running
British steamer Adela off the
Boats from USS Flag, Commander James H. Strong, and USS
Restless, Acting Lieutenant Conroy,
captured British blockade runner Emilie
in Bull's Bay, South Carolina.
President Lincoln and military party departed Washington on board USS
Arid to visit General McClellan with
the Army of the Potomac at Harrison's Landing, Virginia.
9 General Robert E. Lee wrote President Davis, advising him of the Confederate
troops' inability to move against the Union forces on the James River because of
the presence of the Navy gunboats: "After a thorough reconnaissance of the
position taken up by the enemy on
, I found him strongly posted and effectually flanked by his Gunboats. . . . I
caused field batteries to play on his forces, and on his transports, from points
on the river below. But they were too light to accomplish much, and were always
attacked with superior force by the Gunboats. .
Pen, Lieutenant FlUSSer,
Acting Master Woodward, and USS Ceres,
Acting Master John MacDiarmid, embarked on an expedition up Roanoke River and
landed a field piece and force of soldiers and sailors at
, where steamer Wilson was captured.
Acting Lieutenant Kittredge, captured schooner Reindeer with cargo of cotton near
10 Flag Officer Du Pont, learning of the action at Malvern Hill, wrote: "The
, [Army] transport passed us this morning. We boarded her and got papers to the
5th. The captain of the transport told the boarding officer that McClellan's
army would have been annihilated but for the gunboats." Continual
Confederate concern about the gunboats was noted by a British Army observer,
Colonel Garnet J. Wolseley, who wrote that he "noted with some interest the
superstitious dread of gunboats which possessed the Southern soldiers. These
vessels of war, even when they have been comparatively harmless had several
times been the means of saving northern armies.
Acting Lieutenant Kittredge, captured sloop Belle
, and schooner Monte Christo was burned
by Confederates at
, to prevent her falling into Union hands.
11 President Lincoln, demonstrating his appreciation of the role sea power had
played thus far in the Civil War, recommended to the Congress that votes of
thanks be given to Captains Lardner, Davis, and Stringham, and to Commanders
Dahlgren, D.D. Porter, and Rowan.
Congress passed an act for the relief of relatives of the officers and men who
died on board USS Cumberland and Congress
destroyed those vessels and threatened to break the blockade of
four months before.
12 USS Mercedita,
Commander Stellwagen, captured blockade running schooners Victoria and Ida off
Hole-in-the-Wall, Abaco, Bahamas, the former laden with cotton, the latter with
general cargo, including cloth, shoes, needles and salt.
13 Commodore Wilkes reported operations of the James River Flotilla to Secretary
of the Navy Welles: "The Army transports are daily convoyed up and down by
the gunboats, besides having others stationed off the principal salient points
where the rebels have come down to fire at our vessels passing. They almost
daily make some attempts to annoy these unarmed boats, but seldom venture to do
anything. I believe it is in my power to keep the river open effectually. . .
I found . . . a necessity of active and prompt measures to bring the flotilla
into operation, as the duties on the river require, and the effective protection
of the two flanks of the army. . . I would ask the Assistant Secretary's
attention to the subject of torpedoes, and also barbed rockets that will enter
wood and be the means of firing any bridges or other works of wood. If we had
some Congreve rockets, they would prove effective in driving the sharpshooters
out of the woods."
14 Congress passed an act stating that:
" . . . the spirit ration in the Navy of the United States shall forever
cease, and . . . no distilled spiritous liquors shall be admitted on board
vessels of war, except as medical stores . . . there shall be allowed and paid
to each person in the Navy now entitled to the ration, five cents per day in
commutation and lieu thereof, which shall be in addition to their present
pay." Assistant Secretary of the Navy Fox and officers generally held that
it was in the Navy's best interest to abolish the spirit ration.
15 USS Carondelet,
Commander Walke, USS Tyler, Lieutenant Gwin, and ram Queen
of the West, carrying Army sharp shooters on reconnaissance of the Yazoo
River, engaged Confederate ironclad ram Arkansas,
Lieutenant Isaac N. Brown. In a severe fight as Union ships withdrew,
partially disabled Carondelet and Tyler.
ran through fire from the Union fleet to refuge under the
batteries in a heavily damaged condition and with many casualties. Farragut's
, but, as the Flag Officer reported, "it was so dark by the time we reached
the town that nothing could be seen except the flashes of the guns." In the
heavy cannonade as Farragut's ships continued down river below Vicks-burg, USS Winona, Lieutenant
Edward T. Nichols, and USS Sumter,
Lieutenant Henry Erben, were substantially damaged. The daring sortie of
emphatically underscored the need to reduce
. Major General Earl Van Dorn, CSA, said that Lieutenant Brown had
''immortalized his single vessel, himself, and the heroes under his command, by
an achievement, the most brilliant ever recorded in naval annals.'' Secretary
Mallory added: "Naval history records few deeds of greater heroism or
higher professional ability than this achievement of the
." Lieutenant Brown was promoted to Commander, and the Confederate Congress
later expressed thanks to Brown and his men "for their signal exhibition of
skill and gallantry. . . in the brilliant and successful engagement of the sloop
with the enemy's fleet."
now at the Washington Navy Yard
, is placed under the reluctant
command of Lieutenant Thomas O. Selfridge, hero of the battle between the
. Selfridge travels to the New York
Navy Yard to
recruit volunteers from the receiving ship
. Expecting no response, he is surprised when so many men volunteer that he must
choose from among them.
16 David Glasgow Farragut, in recognition of his victory at New Orleans,
promoted to Rear Admiral, the first officer to hold that rank in the history of
the U.S. Navy.
The measure passed by Congress which
created the rank of Rear Admiral also revamped the existing rank structure to
include Commodore and Lieutenant Commander and established the number of Rear
Admirals at 9; Commodores, 18; Captains, 36; Commanders, 72; and the remainder
through Ensign at 144 each. The act provided that ''The three senior rear
admirals [Farragut, L. M. Goldsborough, and Du Pont] shall wear a square blue
flag at the mainmast head; the next three at the foremast head, and all others
at the mizzen.'' Rear Admirals were to rank with Major Generals in the Army.
Congress approved a bill transferring
"the western gunboat fleet constructed by the War Department for operations
on the western waters'' to the Navy Department. Actual enactment of the measure
took place on 1 October 1862.
Commander Woodhull, USS Cimarron, reported from
's Landing: "I have placed my vessel, as directed, on the extreme right
flank of the army; so also the other gunboats under my charge, as will give us
full command of the open country beyond the line."
Acting Lieutenant William C. Rogers, seized blockade running British schooner
Agnes off Abaco with cargo of cotton and rosin.
17 Congress passed an act which established that "every officer, seaman, or
marine, disabled in the line of duty, shall be intitled to receive for life, or
during his disability, a pension from the
, according to the nature and degree of his disability, not exceeding in any
case his monthly pay."
17-18 Twenty Marines from USS Potomac
participated in an expedition up Pascagoula Rivet,
. Under First Lieutenant George W. Collier, the Marines, whose force was
augmented by an equal number of sailors, acted with USS
New London and Grey Cloud to capture or
destroy a steamer and two schooners rumored to be loading with cotton, and to
destroy telegraphic communications between
. The expedition succeeded in disrupting communications, but, pursuing the
Confederate vessels upstream, it was engaged by cavalry and infantry troops and
forced to turn back to care for the wounded.
18 Secretary of the Navy Welles notified
Flag Officers commanding squadrons of a bill authorizing the President to
appoint annually three midshipmen to the Naval Academy from the enlisted boys of
the Navy. "They must be of good moral character, able to read and write
well, writing from dictation and spelling with correctness, and to perform with
accuracy the various operations of the primary rules of arithmetic, viz,
numeration, and the addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division of whole
numbers." Each Flag Officer was requested to nominate one candidate from
his command "not over 18 years of age."
19 Naval court martial meeting in
acquitted Flag Officer Tattnall with honor for ordering the destruction of CSS
on 11 May after the evacuation of
. The court found that "the only alternative was to abandon and burn the
ship then and there, which in the judgment of the court, was deliberately and
21 U.S. steamers Clara Dolsen
and Rob Roy and tug Restless
under Commander Alexander M. Pennock, with troops embarked, arrived from Cairo
to protect Evansville, InDiana, at the
request of Governor Morton. Troops were landed and retook
, from Confederate guerrillas, several boats were burned, and the
was patrolled against attack from the
side of the river. Major General John Love wrote to Commander Pennock
expressing the "gratitude with which the citizens of
and of this locality will regard the prompt cooperation of yourself and your
officers in this emergency, which threatened their security." The mobility
which naval control of the river gave to Union forces neutralized repeated
Confederate attempts to re-establish positions in the
Confederate artillery at Argyle Landing,
, destroyed naval transport USS Sallie
Acting Lieutenant W. C. Rogers, captured steamer Reliance in Bahama Channel.
22 USS Essex,
Commander W. D. Porter, and ram Queen of
the West, Lieutenant Colonel Ellet, attacked CSS
, Commander I. N. Brown, at anchor with a disabled engine at
Although many of his officers and crew were ashore sick and wounded after the
action of 15 July, Commander Brown fought his ship gallantly. After attempting
to ram, the Essex became closely
engaged in cannon fire with
. Breaking off the engagement, Essex
steamed through a bail of shell Past the shore batteries and joined Rear Admiral
Farragut's fleet which had remained below
after passing the city on 15 July. Queen
of the West rammed
but with little effect. She rejoined Flag Officer Davis' fleet in a shattered
condition. The day after repelling the attack by Essex
and Queen of the West, Commander Brown
up and down the river under the
batteries. A member of
's crew, Dabney M. Scales, described the action in a vivid letter to his father:
"At 4 o'clock on the morning of the 22nd, I was awakened by the call to
quarters. Hurrying to our stations, with not even a full complement of men for 3
guns; our soldiers having left just the night before; we discovered the enemy
coming right down upon us. . . . We did not have men enough to heave the anchor
up and get underway, before the enemy got to us, even if we had had steam ready.
So we had to lay in to the bank, and couldn't meet him on anything like equal
terms. . . . The
came first, firing on us with her three bow guns. We replied with our two bow
guns as long as they could be brought to bear, which was not a very long time,
as our vessel being stationary, the enemy soon came too much on our broadside
for these guns, and their crews Lad to be shifted to the broadside guns. In the
ranged up alongside us, and at the distance of 20 feet poured in a broadside
which crashed against our sides like nothing that I ever heard be-fore. . . . We
were so close that our men were burnt by the powder of the enemy's guns. . . All
this time the Ram [Queen of the West]
was not idle, but came close down on the heels of his consort. . . . We welcomed
him as warmly as we could with our scanty crew. Just before he got to us, we
managed by the helm and with the aid of the starboard propeller, to turn our bow
out-stream a little, which prevented him from getting a fair lick at us. As it
was, he glanced round our side and ran aground just astern of us."
Meanwhile, the Confederate Secretary of War in a general order praised
's feats of the week before:
"Lieutenant Brown, and the officers and crew of the Confederate steamer
, by their heroic attack upon the Federal fleet before
equaled the highest recorded examples of courage and skill. They proved that
the Navy, when it regains its proper element, will be one of the chief bulwarks
of national defense and that it is entitled to a high place in the confidence
and affection of the country.
President Davis telegraphed Governor John J. Pettus of
: "Captain Brown of the
, requires boatmen, and reports himself doomed to inactivity by the inability to
get them. We have a large class of river boatmen and some ordinary seamen on our
who must now be unemployed. Can you help Captain Brown to get an adequate
23 Assistant Secretary of the Navy Fox wrote Major General John G. Barnard:
''Part of the mortar fleet are ordered to
and should be there by the 1st proximo. There is no army to cooperate at
where we have been lying two months, and the keeping open
up to McClellan's position is the first duty of the Navy, so we ordered twelve
of the vessels there. If a fort is erected below you on the right bank of the
James (and I see no obstacle) or if offensive or defensive operations are
undertaken I think the mortar will not come amiss. . . . The iron boats are
progressing . . . We have forty underweight, and are putting others in hand as
fast as contracts for engines shall be made. The machinery for manufacturing
marine engines is limited." The Union Navy's rapid transformation from wood
to iron doomed the Confederacy's effort with ironclads and rams to break the
noose of Federal seapower.
24 Rear Admiral Farragut's fleet departed its station below Vicksburg, as the
falling water level of the river and sickness among his ships' crews
necessitated withdrawal to Baton Rouge and New Orleans. Farragut's return to the
made abundantly clear the strategic significance of
for, although the Navy held the vast majority of the river, Confederate control
enabled the South to continue to get some supplies for her armies in the East
. To prevent as much of this as possible, Rear Admiral Davis and Major General
Samuel R. Curtis provided for combined Army-Navy expeditions along the banks of
. Though supplies continued to move across the river, this action prevented the
Confederates from maintaining and reinforcing batteries at strategic points, an
important factor in the following year's operations.
City, Commander Frailey, captured blockade runner Orion at Campeche Bank, south of
, captured British blockade runner Tubal
Cain east of
ran the blockade into
26 Confederates hoarded and burned schooner Louisa
Reed in the
27 USS Yankee,
Lieutenant Commander William Gibson, and USS Satellite,
Acting Master Amos Foster, captured schooner J.
W. Sturges in Chippoak Creek, Virginia.
28 USS Hatteras,
Commander Emmons, captured Confederate brig Josephine
off Ship Shoal,
, en route to
with cargo of cotton.
Bark Agrippina, Captain Alexander
McQueen, was ordered to rendezvous in the Azores with steamer Enrica
) which was to depart Liverpool pursuant to arrangements made by Commander
, for the purpose of transferring guns, ammunition, coal, and other cargo to
. Under the command of Captain Raphael Semmes, the re-nowned Confederate cruiser
ravaged the seas, dealing serious damage to Union commerce.
29 USS Mount
, Commander Glisson, and USS Mystic,
Lieutenant Commander Arnold, captured blockade running British brig Napier
reverses in the East, which he ascribed to the deception of Northern commanders
by false reports of the size of Confederate armies, Rear Admiral Farragut
stated: "The officers say I don't believe anything. I certainly believe
very little that comes in the shape of reports I mean to be whipped or to whip
my enemy, and not be scared to death."
31 USS Magnolia,
Acting Lieutenant W. Budd, captured British steamer
with large cargo of cotton and rosin. She had run the blockade out of
on 26 July.
31-1 Confederate batteries at Coggins' Point took Union forces under fire on the
James River between Harrison's Landing and
, sinking two Army transports. USS Cimarron,
Commander Woodhull, immediately opened counter fire on the battery. Praising
Gunner's Mate John Merrert who, although extremely ill and awaiting transfer to
a hospital, bravely manned his station in the main magazine, Commander Woodhull
wrote: "Merrett is an old man-of-warsman; his discipline, courage, and
patriotism would not brook inaction when his ship was in actual battle. His
conduct, I humbly think, was a great example to all lovers of the country and
its cause . . . it is the act of a fine specimen of the old Navy tar." This
mutual respect between the naval officer and the long service enlisted man
enabled the Navy to maintain its tone through-out the Civil War despite
1 USS Thomas
Freeborn, Acting Master James L. Plunkett, captured schooner Mail
, with cargo including salt.
Lieutenant Clitz, captured sloop Lizzie
, with cargo including salt.
2 William H. Aspinwall, a Union merchant
and long time booster of ironclads, wrote Assistant Secretary of the Navy Fox
suggesting an innovation in weaponry to which can be traced the modern torpedo:
"I have been thinking for some time about the probability that a properly
shaped cylindrical shot fired 6 or 8 feet under water will be the next
improvement on iron clad vessels. At short range great effect could be attained
below the iron plating. . . . I have the plan for firing a gun projecting 6 or 8
or 10 feet below the water line of a vessel, which I think would work well, if
it is found that shot can be relied on to do the intended injury under water.
, Lieutenant Maffitt, about to take to sea from
, was released by the
after having been seized by H.M.S. Greyhound.
Santiago de Cuba
, Commander Ridgely, seized blockade runner
north of Abaco with cargo of arms.
4 USS Unadilla,
Lieutenant Collins, captured British steamer Lodona attempting to run the blockade at
Lieutenant Downes, seized schooner Aquilla
with cargo of turpentine.
5 Assistant Secretary of the Navy Fox
observed that: ''The Richmond Engineer [Enquirer] said that the first federal
[army] officer meeting a navy officer at James River after McClellan's
'strategic move' [withdrawing from Malvern
Hill to Harrison's Landing] threw his arms around his neck and said 'Oh my dear
Sir, we ought to have a gunboat in every family!'
, Lieutenant Henry Stevens temporarily in command, having become unmanageable
due to engine failure while advancing to support a Confederate attack on
, was engaged by USS Essex,
Commander W. D. Porter. Lieutenant Stevens recognized his helpless condition,
shotted his guns, and ordered
destroyed to prevent her capture. He reported: "It was beautiful to see
her, when abandoned by Commander and crew, and dedicated to sacrifice, fighting
the battle on her own hook." Without naval support and under fire from USS
Kineo, and Katahdin, the
Confederate thrust was repelled. When the wounded and ill Commander Brown had
on a brief leave, he had realized that critical repairs were necessary and that
his ship was not ready for combat. He ordered Stevens not to move her until his
return. Nevertheless, General Van Dorn, to ensure the success of his expedition,
into the fatal
been fit for battle, the Confederates might have taken
and reopened the important
supply line then under Union blockade.
Selfridge and his crew take Alligator
for their first voyage. The results of this and later trials are included in
Selfridge’s unflattering report—which ends his association with the vessel.
Selfridge is given command of U.S.S. Cairo
of the Mississippi
Squadron; his fourteen hand-picked crewmen accompany him. The biggest problem
cited by the reluctant submariner was the oar propulsion system used to move Alligator.
De Villeroi’s adoption of oars was odd, since the original submarine he sailed
used a screw propeller.
7 President Lincoln, with Secretaries Seward and Stanton, visited Captain
Dahlgren at the Washington Navy Yard for a two hour demonstration of the
"Rafael" repeating cannon. Later Dahlgren took the party on board a
steamer to cool off and rest.
and began her renowned career under Lieutenant Maffitt.
8 Confederate Secretary of the Navy Mallory wrote Commander Bulloch in
: "I am pleased to learn that the credit of my department stands well in
, and sensible of the great importance of maintaining it. I am endeavoring to
place funds to your credit, which the scarcity and very high rate of exchange
render difficult. We have just paid 200 and 210 per cent for 80,072.3.9, which
amount is now in the hands of John Fraser & Co. of
, with orders to place the same to your credit in
." The tightening blockade constantly constricted the Southern economy.
10 Rear Admiral Farragut reported to Secretary of the Navy Welles that he had
partially destroyed Donaldsonville, Louisiana, in reprisal for the firing by
guerrilla forces on steamers ''passing up and down the river.'' Farragut wrote
that he had ''sent a message to the inhabitants that if they did not discontinue
this practice, I would destroy their town. The last time I passed up to
to the support of the army, I. . . heard them firing upon the vessels coming
up, first upon the Sallie Robinson and next
. In the latter case they made a mistake, and it was so quickly returned that
they ran away. The next night they fired again upon the
. I therefore ordered them to send their women and children out of the town, as
I certainly intended to destroy it on my way down the river, and I fulfilled my
promise to a certain extent. I burned down the hotels and wharf buildings, also
the dwelling houses and other buildings of a Mr. Phillippe Landry, who is said
to be a captain of guerrillas." Though Farragut had no taste for
devastating private property, he felt justified in doing so if private citizens
endangered the lives of his men.
Acting Master James C. Tole, captured schooner S.S. Jones near the
11 Rear Admiral Farragut, having received his promotion, "hoisted my flag
at the main." His general order to the fleet on this date ascribed the
promotion to ''the gallantry of the officers and men of the fleet . . . [and]
your Admiral feels assured that you will never disappoint these high
expectations. A new field is now opening before you. To your ordinary duties is
added the contest with the elements. Let it he your pride to show the world that
danger has no greater terror for you in one form than in another; that you are
as ready to meet the enemy in the one shape as in the other, and that you, with
your wooden vessels, have never been alarmed by fire rafts, torpedoes, chain
booms, ironclad rams, ironclad gunboats, or forts. The same Great Power
preserves you in the presence of all."
12 USS Arthur,
Acting Lieutenant Kittredge, captured armed schooner Breaker at
. Confederate schooner Elma and sloop Hannah were burned at
to prevent their capture by Arthur.
13 Rear Admiral Du Pont wrote Assistant Secretary of the Navy Fox on the subject
of Confederate rams and ironclads at
one, not at all the Fingal, is more
of a floating battery, doubtless with 10 inch guns (8 of them) but she has a
list, leaks, and has not power to go against stream. She may be used to cover
vessels running the blockade by putting herself between them and the Forts if
. . . . The
vessels are not yet ready and I hope are progressing slowly, one is simply an
ironclad, size of Pembina---the other
more of a ram." Because of the power which CSS
Virginia had promised and demonstrated, the Confederacy made every effort to
ready other ironclads to strike against the blockading forces. However, lack of
critical material and industrial facilities prevented the South from mounting a
truly serious threat. On the Savannah River, ironclad rams
were launched, but both were too slow and drew too much water to he fully
showed herself to Du Pont's squadron on 31 July, when she steamed down the
and returned to
. Some six months later, Master H. Beverly Littlepage, CSN, wrote Lieutenant
Catesby ap R. Jones of her: "We are still at anchor in the river between
and the first obstructions, only a few hundred yards from the
. I understand it is the intention of the commodore [Tattnall] that the Atlanta
shall he moored as near the stern of the Georgia as she can get so that by
springing her either of her broadsides may be made to bear on the obstructions
in the event of the anticipated attack. I think I can safely affirm that the
will never go outside of the obstructions again or, at least for some time. . .
. There is no ventilation below at all, and I think it will be impossible for us
to live on her in the summer. . . .I would venture to say that if a person were
blindfolded and carried below and then turned loose he would imagine himself in
a swamp, for the water is trickling in all the time and everything is so
, for want of adequate engines, was used as a floating battery. The ironclads
concerning Du Pont at
, a ram, and gunboat CSS Chicora.
's keel had been laid in January under Flag Officer Duncan N. Ingraham. Two
months later Chicora's keel was
laid-in the rear of the
post office-under the direction of James M. Eason, who built two additional
(whose keel was laid in December 1862) and CSS
, which was not completed before the fall of
. Lieutenant James H. Rochelle, who commanded
late in the war, described the vessels: ''The ironclads were . . . slow vessels
with imperfect engines, which required frequent repairing. . . . Their armor was
four inches thick, and they were all of the type of the
. . . . Each of the ironclads carried a torpedo fitted to the end of a spar some
15 or 20 feet long, projecting from the bow on a line with the keel, and so
arranged that it could be carried either triced up clear of the water or
submerged five or six feet below the surface.
Every night one or more of the ironclads anchored in the channel near Sumter for
the purpose of resisting a night attack on Sumter or a dash into the harbor by
the Federal vessels.'' Of
Rochelle wrote: ''She had a thickness of six inches of iron on her casemate,
and was otherwise superior to the other iron- clads. Unfortunately, the
was bilged in consequence of the ignorance, carelessness or treachery of her
pilot, and rendered no service whatever." For all their defects, the
Charleston vessels, particularly Palmetto
State and Chicora, did in a
measure, as naval constructor John L. Porter forecast in a 20 June 1862 letter
to Eason, ''afford great protection to the harbor of Charleston when
Acting Master Crocker, seized schooner
, with cargo of cotton.
14 USS Pocahontas,
Lieutenant George B. Balch, and steam tug Treaty, Acting Lieutenant Baxter, on
an expedition up the Black River from Georgetown, South Carolina, exchanged fire
with Confederate troops at close range along both banks of the river for a
distance of 20 miles in an unsuccessful attempt to capture steamer Nina.
The Confederate Patent Office
grants its second submarine patent to James Patton of
, for a steam-powered “submarine battery;” it is
unknown whether the boat was ever built.
15 Commodore Wilkes, commanding James River Flotilla, ordered USS
Galena, Commander J. Rodgers, USS
Port Royal, and USS
Satellite to cover the withdrawal of
the left wing of General McClellan's army from Harrison's Landing over the
Chickahominy. Rodgers was directed to "communicate with General Pleasonton
and inform him that you are to cover his cavalry force until such time as the
services of the gunboats may no longer be useful to him.''
Confederate steamer A. B. (or A.
Bee), aground at the entrance of the Nueces River near Corpus Christi, was
burned to avoid capture by USS Arthur,
Acting Lieutenant Kittredge.
16 Naval forces under Lieutenant Commander S. L. Phelps, including USS
Mound City, Benton,
and General Bragg, and rams Monarch,
Samson, Lioness, and Switzerland,
under Colonel Ellet, convoyed and covered Army troops under Colonel Charles R.
Woods in a joint expedition up the Mississippi from Helena as far as the Yazoo
River. The force was landed at various points en route, capturing steamer Fairplay above
, with large cargo of arms, and dispersing Confederate troop encampments. The
joint expedition also destroyed a newly erected Confederate battery about 20
miles up the
Confederate Secretary of the Navy Mallory wrote of the desperate need of iron
for the South's ships: "The want of iron is severely felt throughout the
Confederacy, and the means of increasing its production demand, in my judgment,
the prompt consideration of Congress. The Government has outstanding contracts
amounting to millions of dollars, but the iron is not forthcoming to meet the
increasing public wants. Scrap iron of all classes is being industriously
collected by agents of the Government, and we are now rolling railroad iron into
plates for covering ships . . . "Chronic lack of iron drastically
restricted Confederate ship construction, and eventually weighed heavily in the
final decision. As Commander Maury had written: ''Our necessities cry out for a
Navy in war; and when peace comes, it will profit us but little to be affluent
and free, if we are continually liable to be pillaged by all . . . the breadth
of our plantations and the value of our staples will be of small advantage if
the others may have the mastery in our own waters.'' Weak-ness in naval power
made the Confederate supply problems insurmountable.
16-18 Union naval force, comprising USS Sachem,
Reindeer, Belle Italia,
and yacht Corypheus, under command of
Acting Lieutenant Kittredge, bombarded
. On 18 August a landing party of sailors from Belle
Italia, supported by ships' gunfire, attempted to seize a Confederate
battery but was driven back by a cavalry force. Lieutenant Kittredge was
captured while ashore on 14 September. Confederate General H. P. Bee
characterized Kittredge as ''an honorable enemy and a "bold and energetic
leader." Lacking troop strength to occupy and hold
, Rear Admiral Farragut's ships nonetheless effectively controlled the
coast and pinned down Confederate forces which were vitally needed elsewhere.
17 Joint landing party from USS Ellis,
Master Benjamin H. Porter, and Army boats destroyed Confederate salt works,
battery, and barracks near
. This constant attack from the sea destroyed the South's resources and drained
18 Secretary of the Navy Welles wrote Commodore Wilkes: ''Our naval operations
in James River have, from the time you were placed in command of the flotilla,
depended almost entirely on army movements; and notwithstanding the army has
left your vicinity, your future action and the orders you may receive will, for
a time at least, and in a great degree, be controlled by develop-ments
Secretary of the Navy Welles, regarding the right of search, instructed squadron
and cruiser commanders: ''Some recent occurrences in the capture of vessels, and
matters pertaining to the blockade, render it necessary that there should be a
recapitulation of the instructions hereto-fore . . . given . . . It is
essential, in the remarkable contest now waging, that we should exercise great
forbearance, with great firmness, and manifest to the world that it is the
intention of our Government, while asserting and maintaining our own rights, to
respect and scrupulously regard the right of others . . . You are specially
informed that the fact that a suspicious vessel has been indicated to you . . .
does not in any way authorize you to depart from the practice of the rules of
visitation, search, and capture prescribed by the law of nations."
19 Captain John A. Winslow of USS St.
Louis reported the burning by Confederates of Union steamer Swallow,
21 Rear Admiral Farragut commented on the
intervention of foreign powers in the Civil War: "I don't believe it, and,
if it does come, you will find the
not so easy a nut to crack as they imagine. We have no dread of 'rams' or
'he-goats,' and, if our Editors had less, the country would be better off. Now
they scare everybody to death."
Commander Mullany, captured British blockade runner Eliza, bound from
22 Secretary of the Navy Welles ordered Rear Admiral L. M. Goldsborough,
commanding North Atlantic Blockading Squadron, to "assist the army, as far
as you may be able, in embarking the troops at Fortress Monroe and Newport News,
as desired by Major General Halleck." The withdrawal northward of the Army
by water transport brought to a close the Peninsular Campaign.
Rear Admiral Farragut instructed Lieutenant Commander Philip C. Johnson,
commanding USS Tennessee, that "you will stop at
] and bring Lieutenant McClain Tilton and the Marine guard, together with all
the stores you can [to the Pensacola Navy Yard]." Earlier in the year the
Marines had garrisoned the town.
State, Commander Le Roy, captured British schooner Fanny with cargo of salt,
near St. Simon's Sound,
, Captain Guert Gansevoort, ran on a reef outside Man of War Cay, Little
Bahamas, and was abandoned after efforts to save her failed.
Commander Mullany, seized British blockade runner Louisa off
S. Chambers, Acting Master D. Frank Mosman, seized schooner Corelia
off the coast of
23-24 Boat crew from USS Essex, Captain W. D. Porter, was fired upon by Confederate
guerrillas at Bayou Sara,
shelled the town.
24 Raphael Semmes took command of CSS
at sea off the
, Semmes said, "She was indeed a beautiful thing to look upon." As
Semmes finished reading his orders promoting him to Captain and appointing him
to command Alabama, the Con-federate ensign replaced the English colors at the
mast head, a gun was fired, and 'The air was rent by a deafening cheer from
officers and men. The band, at the same time, playing
." Thus, the celebrated raider was christened to begin her storied two year
N. Seymour, Acting Master Francis S. Wells, ran aground and sank in
Andrew, Lieutenant Arthur S. Gardner, wrecked after grounding during a heavy
gale 15 miles south of
and Stripes, Lieutenant McCook, captured British ship Mary Elizabeth, attempting to run the blockade into
with cargo of salt and fruit.
yacht Corypheus, tender to USS
Arthur, Acting Lieutenant Kittredge, captured schooner Water
25 Typical log entry (this of USS Benton)
describing the relentless naval operations on the western waters: "At 7
[a.m.] sent a boat ashore, which destroyed seven skiffs and one bateaux. At
11:40 came to at Bolivar Landing [
]. At 11:45 General Woods landing troops; opened fire upon the enemy. We opened
fire with our bow and starboard guns in protecting the landing of the troops . .
. fired a number of shots in direction of the rebel force.''
26 Captain Franklin Buchanan promoted to Admiral in the Confederate Navy
"for gallant and meritorious conduct in attacking the enemy's fleet in
Hampton Roads and destroying the frigate Congress, sloop of war Cumberland . . .
whilst in command of the squadron in the waters of Virginia on the 8th of March,
Confederate steamer Yorktown, running
the blockade from
, sprung a leak and foundered at sea off
with cargo of cotton.
, Commander John J. Almy, destroyed abandoned schooner Patriot,
de Cuba, Commander Ridgely, captured blockade runner Lavinia north of Abaco with cargo of turpentine.
, Lieutenant Thompson, escorted steamers White
Cloud and Iatan with Army troops embarked to
. The gunboat shelled and dispersed Confederate forces from a camp above
's Landing on the
shore. Landing the troops under cover of
's guns for reconnaissance missions en route, Lieutenant Thompson at Eunice
seized a large wharf boat, fitted out as a floating hotel. This type of
persistent patrolling of the
and tributaries by the Union Navy in support of Army operations was
instrumental in preventing the Confederates from establishing firm positions.
The James River Flotilla having carried out its mission in support of General
McClellan's army, the Navy Department ordered Commodore Wilkes to turn the ships
over to Rear Admiral L. M. Goldsborough and to proceed to
to assume command of the Potomac Flotilla.
. A newspaper reporter observed: "A fleet of monsters has been created,
volcanoes in a nutshell, breathing under water, fighting under shelter, steered
with mirrors, driven by vapor, running anywhere, retreating from nothing. These
floating carriages bear immense ordnance, perfected by new processes, and easily
worked by new and simple devices.
USS R. R.
Cuyler, Acting Master Simeon N. Freeman, captured schooner
Anne Sophia at sea east of
transport W. B. Terry, Master Leonard G. Klinck, carrying cargo of coal for Union
gunboats, ran aground at Duck River Shoals,
, and was captured by Confederate troops.
G. Anderson, Acting Master D'Oyley, seized schooner Lily off
with cargo of gun powder.
deserts the Confederacy. After the war he claims to have approached President
“secret information” regarding Southern efforts at undersea warfare, but
received no response.
, Lieutenant Maffitt, put into
after suffering a yellow fever epidemic on board which was fatal to several
Rear Admiral S.P. Lee relieved Rear Admiral L.M. Goldsborough as Commander,
North Atlantic Blockading Squadron.
2 USS Restless,
Acting Lieutenant Conroy, captured sloop John
with cargo of turpentine.
3 USS Essex,
Commodore W. D. Porter, in pursuit of CSS Webb,
had a landing party fired on at
, from which Union forces had withdrawn on 25 July.
bombarded the town for an hour, after which the mayor "unconditionally
surrendered" the city to Porter.
4 First session of the Naval Investigating Committee of the Confederate Congress
was held in
to examine Secretary Mallory's administration of naval affairs and the causes
of the Southern disaster at
. The final report of the committee was favorable to Mallory.
, Lieutenant Maffitt, ran the blockade into
. Many of the crew were suffering from yellow fever and Maffitt determined to
make the bold dash into
. Running past the broadside of USS Oneida,
also evaded USS Winona
and Rachel Seaman before coming to
anchor under the guns of
in a much damaged condition. This
incident brought forth orders for stricter enforcement of the blockade.
G. Anderson, Acting Master D'Oyley, captured schooner Theresa in the
Gulf of Mexico
with cargo including salt.
Knapp, Acting Lieutenant Henry S.
Eytinge, captured bark Fannie Laurie
South Edisto River
5 Rear Admiral Du Pont wrote Secretary of the Navy Welles, again expressing
concern about reports of Confederate ironclads building at Charleston: "The
ironclads or rams built at Charleston have been described to me, by intelligent
persons who have seen them, as well protected by their armor, but as not
formidable for offensive operations against our vessels, in consequence of their
deficiency in steam power, it having been intended to place in them engines
taken from old steamers belonging to South Carolina. If it be true that English
steam engines have been provided for them, as reported to me by the Department,
it becomes my duty to urge upon it the necessity of sending some ironclad
vessels of our own, to render our position off Charleston tenable. Vessels even
imperfectly covered with armor emerging from the protection of forts, and always
provided with a place of refuge, would be comparatively secure, while they might
do great harm to wooden ships, especially of the light class which forms the
chief material of this squadron. If by any possibility the blockading force off
could be destroyed, or compelled to retire, it would produce a moral impression
to our disadvantage even more disastrous than the actual loss itself. If it be
possible to send the Ironsides to take
up a position off that [
] harbor, the efforts of the enemy would be completely frustrated."
, Captain Semmes, seized and burned ship Ocmulgee near the
, the first of many Union whalers and merchant vessels to fall prey to the
feared commerce raider.
, Acting Lieutenant Richard T. Renshaw, joined with Union troops in repelling
the Confederate attack on
. Major General John G. Foster reported that
rendered most efficient aid, throwing her shells with great precision, and
clearing the streets, through which her guns had range." U.S. Army gunboat
Picket was destroyed by an accidental magazine explosion during engagement.
, Captain Semmes, captured and burned schooner Starlight
Commodore W.D. Porter, steamed down the
past Confederate batteries at Port Hudson, Louisiana.
was struck with heavy shot 14 times. Porter noted that the Port Hudson
batteries would seriously interrupt the free navigation of the
8 Commodore Wilkes ordered to command a "Flying Squadron" -including USS
Cimarron, Sonoma, Tioga,
Octorara, and Santiago de Cuba.
The squadron was originated specifically to seek out and capture commerce
. Though the squadron seized several vessels engaged in blockade running, the
two noted raiders eluded Wilkes' force.
A landing party from USS Kingfisher destroyed salt works at St. Joseph's Bay, Florida, that
could produce some 200 bushels a day. Three days later, similar works at St.
Andrew's Bay were destroyed by a landing party from USS
, Captain Semmes, captured and burned whaling ship Ocean
Rover near the
, Captain Semmes, captured and burned whaling ships Alert
and Weather Gauge near the
11 USS Patroon,
Acting Master William D. Urann, and USS Uncas,
Acting Master Crane, engaged Confederate batteries at St. John's Bluff, Florida.
Uncas suffered damage, but temporarily forced the abandonment of the
12 Rear Admiral Du Pont wrote Senator Grimes of
expressing his "warm appreciation of your tremendous labors in behalf of
the Navy during the last session. I believe this to be emphatically the opinion
of the whole service.'' Grimes had strongly backed the bill creating the rank of
Rear Admiral in the Navy. In reply the Senator stated: "I am in no wise
deserving of the kind compliments you lavish upon me. . . . you know that up to
my time [in Congress] it was supposed that all information in relation to your
branch of the public service was confined to a select
'guild' about the Atlantic cities, no one from the interior having presumed to
know anything about it. If I have been of any real service it has been in
breaking down and eradicating that idea, in assisting to nationalize the Navy–
in making the frontiersman as well as the longshoreman feel that he was
interested in it and partook of its glory."
, Captain Semmes, seized and burned whaling ship Altamaha
, Captain Semmes, seized and burned whaling ship Benjamin
Tucker near the
15 Lieutenant Commander Samuel Magaw, commander of USS
Thomas Freeborn, reported the seizure
and burning of schooner Arctic in
Great Wicomico River
16 Confederate Congress passed a resolution expressing thanks to Commander
Ebenezer Farrand, CSN, senior officer in command of the combined naval and
military forces at Drewry's Bluff on 15 May, "for the great and signal
victory achieved over the naval forces of the United States in the engagement .
. . at Drewry's Bluff;" Farrand was praised for his "gallantry,
courage, and endurance in that protracted fight. . . ." which Confederate
statesmen knew could have been so disastrous to their cause.
, Captain Semmes, captured and burned whaling ship Courser
17 Rear Admiral S.P. Lee, concerned by frequent reports as to the building by
the Confederates of "Merrimack II,"
again wrote Assistant Secretary of the Navy Fox asking that an ironclad be sent
to support his forces there. "I feel the necessity," he wrote,
"of having a fast steamer convenient as to size & draft, with bow &
stern strengthened, and iron plated suitable for ramming, carrying effective
guns in broadside, & fitted so as to work two heavy rifled guns at each
end-bow & stern-capable of throwing such projectiles as will most readily
penetrate iron plating." On 22 September Fox, sympathetic to Lee's needs,
answered: "The Ironsides will
probably be with you on Wednesday [24 September]. . . . With the Ironsides you will feel no anxiety. She is fast, and has a terrible
battery, and is a match for the whole Southern navy. If the Merrimac[k]
#2 comes down I trust they will follow her up and destroy her."
USS W. G.
Anderson, Acting Master D'Oyley, seized schooner Reindeer in the
Gulf of Mexico
(27N, 93W) with cargo of cotton.
, Captain Semmes, captured and burned whaling ship
, Captain Semmes, captured and burned whaling ship Elisha
Dunbar near the
. ''The whaling season at the
being at an end," Semmes later wrote, ''. . . I resolved to change my
cruising-ground, and stretch over to the Banks of New Foundland
19 Ram Queen of the West, Medical
Cadet Charles R. Ellet, escorting two troop transports, had a sharp engagement
with Confederate infantry and artillery above Bolivar, Mississippi.
20 Answering a letter in which Assistant Secretary of the Navy Fox had written,
"We must have Charleston Rear Admiral Du Pont replied: "Do not go it
half cocked about Charleston– it is a bigger job than Port Royal . . . failure
now at Charleston is ten times the failure elsewhere. . ." The same day, Du
Pont wrote Senator Grimes in Iowa: "The thorn in my flesh is Charleston,
they have been allowed seventeen months to prepare its defenses– and in no
part of the wretched Confederacy has there been more industry, energy, and
intelligent zeal, and science displayed- It is a cul de sac and resembles more a
porcupine's hide turned outside in than anything else, with no outlet- you go
into a bag no running the forts as at New Orleans. We have to do what never has
been done, take regular forts by gunboats this must be done, but it is no
ordinary work . . . One thing only oppresses us, that just in proportion to the
extent of the honor and glory of the success, and the prestige gained at home
and abroad so will be the deep mortification and moral injury if we fail at this
wicked seat of the rebellion- hence we want quiet calm preparation of plans.''
Du Pont's estimate of the stubbornness of the Con-federate defenses at
, as well as his appreciation of the probable effect on the North of a Union
failure in his particular quarter proved correct. Throughout the fall of 1862
the ironclads were being built which Du Pont would command against the symbol of
21 USS Albatross,
Commander Henry French, captured schooner Two
Sisters off the
22 Writing during a storm ("I suppose the true equinoctial gale''), Rear
Admiral Farragut noted that "these are the times that try the commander of
a squadron. I could not sleep last night, thinking of the blockaders. It is
rough work lying off a port month in and month out . . . I have 6 vessels off
Mobile, so that one can always come in for coal. They are all the time breaking
down and coming in for repairs."
Acting Master John McGowan, Jr., captured schooner Southerner on
, Lieutenant Commander William T. Truxtun, captured blockade running British
schooner Nelly off
, with cargo including drugs and salt.
25 USS Kensington,
Acting Master Crocker, USS Rachel
Seaman, Acting Master Hooper, and mortar schooner Henry
James, Acting Master Lewis Pennington,
bombarded Confederate batteries at
. The action was broken off when the defending troops evacuated the fort, having
spiked the guns. Though
surrendered to Acting Master Crocker the next day and a force under Acting
Master Hooper severed communications between
's Bayou by burning the railroad bridge and seized the mails on 27 September,
the expedition sent by Rear Admiral Farragut could not occupy the area because
there were no troops available for that purpose. As Rear Admiral Farragut noted
some three months later, "It takes too much force to hold the places for me
to take any more, or my outside fleet will be too much reduced to keep up the
blockade and keep the river open" - the two primary missions of the
Nevertheless, the attacks were a constant drain on the Confederates and imposed
widespread dispersion of strength to protect against them anytime ships hove
over the horizon.
Lieutenant Commander Robert W. Scott, captured British schooner Agnes,
attempting to run the blockade at St. Andrew's Sound,
26 USS State
of Georgia, Commander Armstrong, and USS
Mystic, Lieutenant Commander Arnold,
chased a blockade running schooner (name unknown) ashore at
, and destroyed her.
Rear Admiral Du Pont sought to extend his policy of "mobile support"
logistics by requesting an afloat fuel storage in the form of a coal hulk
capable of holding a thousand tons and fitted out with hoisting equipment. Coal
schooners from the North unloaded into this hulk and men-of-war coaled from it
as needed while on station. This practice antedated the modern use of fleet
oilers in furthering the fleet's efficiency and effectiveness. Storeships,
receiving ships, and machinery repair hulks were already being employed at this
27 USS Kittatinny,
Acting Master Lamson, captured schooner Emma
off the coast of
with cargo of cotton.
28 USS State
of Georgia, Commander Armstrong, and USS Mystic,
Lieutenant Commander Arnold, captured blockade running British steamer Sunbeam
near New Inlet, North Carolina.
30 Assistant Secretary of the Navy Fox wrote Commodore Blake, Superintendent of
, regarding training at the Academy: "The seamanship is of the utmost
importance, in my opinion, notwithstanding steam, and ironclads. I share the old
Jack Tar feeling that a sailor can do anything, and that a man is not good for
much, who is not a thorough seaman. D. D. Porter was particularly struck at
seeing your boys scrubbing copper: he was always afraid they were getting too
scientific, too conceited, but his experience at
seems to have un-deceived him."
1 The Western Gunboat Fleet, brought into being by Commander J. Rodgers and Flag
Officer Foote, under jurisdiction of the War Department for operations on the
western waters, was transferred to the Navy Department and renamed the
Mississippi Squadron. David Dixon Porter was appointed Acting Rear Admiral and
ordered to relieve Rear Admiral Davis, who had commanded naval forces on the
western waters since 17 June. Noting that the naming of Porter, then a
Commander, would be open to criticism, Secretary of the Navy Welles observed:
''His selection will be unsatisfactory to many, but his field of operations is
peculiar, and a young and active officer is required for the duty to which he is
assigned." However, Rear Admiral Foote, 55 years old when he took command,
bold and indefatigable, had achieved miracles. No fleet commanders in the west
achieved as much as he and Farragut, who was even five years older. Audacity and
drive are born of the soul, and do not die ever in some great leaders.
2 Commodore Harwood reported the capture of sloop Thomas Reilly by USS Thomas
Freeborn, Lieutenant Commander Magaw.
3 Responding to a request for assistance in an anticipated assault on gathering
Confederate forces at
, a naval expedition under Lieutenant Commander Flusser,
comprising USS Commodore
Perry, Hunchback, and Whitehead,
engaged Confederate troops on the
for six hours. The river having been obstructed, the gunboats could not reach
and returned down stream as Confederate troops were felling trees in the river
behind the gunboats in an attempt to "blockade the river in our rear."
Enclosing the reports of the gunboat captains, Commander Davenport, Senior
Officer in the Sounds of North Carolina, wrote Rear Admiral S. P. Lee:
"While I can not praise too highly the gallantry and heroism displayed by
officers and men on the occasion, I think it extremely hazardous for our
gunboats unprotected as the men are by bulwarks or any other defenses, to go on
expeditions up these narrow and tortuous channels."
A joint expedition under Commander Steedman and Brigadier General John M.
Brannon engaged and captured a Confederate battery at
Bluff and occupied
, which had been almost entirely evacuated by Southern troops. The Union forces
had arrived at the mouth of the river on 1 October and, in operations through 12
October, the gunboats convoyed and supported the Army troops, forcing a general
withdrawal by the Confederates. Calling Steedman's action ''most hearty and
energetic,'' General Brannon reported: "The entire naval force under his
command exhibited a zeal and perseverance in every instance, whether in aiding
my forces to effect a landing, the ascent of St. John's River (230 miles), or
the assistance to one of my transports unfortunately injured in crossing the
bar, that is deserving of all praise.'' Captain Godon, temporarily commanding
the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron, noted at operation's end: ''We retain
as far as
.'' Amphibious assaults continued to force Confederate defenses away from the
Captain Semmes, captured ship Brilliant,
bound from New York to Liverpool, near 400 N, 500 W. Semmes later commented that
". . . her destruction must have disappointed a good many holders of bills
of exchange drawn against her cargo . . . for the ship alone and the
freight-moneys which they lost by her destruction [came] to the amount of
$93,000. The cargo was probably even more valuable than the ship."
Naval forces under Commander William B. Renshaw in USS
, and mortar schooner Henry James,
bombarded and captured the defenses of the harbor and city of
. Six days later,
formally surrendered to Commander Renshaw. Rear Admiral Farragut reported to
Secretary of the Navy Welles: I am happy to in-form you that
and the adjacent waters are now in our possession. . . . All we want, as I have
told the Department in my last dispatches, is a few soldiers to hold the places,
and we will soon have the whole coast.'' The failure to have a sizeable
effective Marine Corps to send ashore in conjunction with fleet operations
reduced considerably the effectiveness of the Navy and may have lengthened the
Somerset, Lieutenant Commander
English, attacked Confederate salt works at Depot Key,
. The landing party from
was augmented by a strong force from USS Tahoma, Commander John C.
Howell, and the salt works were destroyed. Salt at this time was among the most
critical ''strategic materials'' in the Confederacy. This action at Depot Key
was one of innumerable such landing and raiding operations all along the
far-flung Confederate coastline which, often lacking dramatic appeal,
nonetheless exacted ceaseless activity and untiring effort, and were
instrumental in bringing the Confederacy to defeat.
Raiding party from USS Thomas Freeborn, Lieutenant Commander Magaw, entered
, and destroyed the telegraph office and wires of the line from Occoquan to
6 USS Rachel
Seaman, Acting Master Crocker, captured British schooner Dart
attempting to run the blockade at
7 William Gladstone, British Chancellor of the Exchequer, remarked at a banquet
in Newcastle, England, that "there is no doubt that Jefferson Davis and
other leaders of the South have made an army; they are making it appears a navy;
and they have made, what is more than either they have made a nation." Upon
's statement, Assistant Secretary of the Navy Fox observed: "It is a most
interesting piece of history".
, Captain Semmes, captured and burned bark Wave Crest and brig
Lieutenant Commander Edward P. Williams in Army transport Darlington, with sailors and troops embarked, captured steamer Governor
St. John's River
. In continuing Union operations in the river, Williams had seized the vessel-
termed by Commander Steedman "one of their best boats' '- which had been
used in transporting guns and munitions to
8 Steamer Blanche, anchored off
, was set afire to prevent seizure by USS Montgomery, Commander C. Hunter.
CSS Alabama, Captain Semmes, captured and
released on bond packet
, Lieutenant Commander Braine, captured blockade running British schooner
off Frying Pan Shoals,
, Captain Semmes, captured and burned
," Semmes wrote, "brought us a batch of late
papers. . . . I learned from them where all the enemy's gun boats were, and
what they were doing. . . . Perhaps this was the only war in which the
newspapers ever explained, before-hand, all the movements of armies and fleets,
to the enemy.
Commander Scott, was damaged by Confederate battery at
Cape Fear River
, and was forced to retire seaward.
12 Commander Matthew Fontaine Maury, on board blockade runner Herald,
to attempt to purchase vessels for the Confederacy. Midshipman James M. Morgan,
who accompanied Maury, recorded an interesting incident that demonstrated that
the "Path-finder of the Seas" had lost none of his famed abilities.
The captain of Herald, according to
Morgan, was new to deep water sail, lost his way, and "told Commander Maury
that something terrible must have happened, as he had sailed his ship directly
over the spot where the
ought to be." Maury advised him to slow down till evening when he could
shoot the stars. At that time, having obtained a fix, Maury gave the captain a
course and speed that would raise the light at Port Hamilton about 2 o'clock in
the morning. Maury and his son turned in; the rest anxiously stayed up to watch:
"four bells struck and no light was in sight. Five minutes more passed and
still not a sign of it; then grumbling commenced and the passengers generally
agreed with the man who expressed the opinion that there was too much D . . . d
science on board . . . at 10 minutes past 2 the masthead lookout called 'Light
Ho!' " Lacking funds and under close scrutiny by Union officials who
immediately protested through diplomatic channels any attempts to outfit vessels
for the Confederacy, Maury, like other Confederate agents, met with only limited
success. Nonetheless, he did purchase and arrange for the outfitting of CSS
the following spring. Maury was adamant
in his opinion that the South had to pursue a policy that would bring about the
existence of an effective Navy. Earlier he had written under the pseudonym of
Ben Bow: "We cannot, either with cotton or with all the agricultural
staples of the Confederacy put together, adopt any course which will make cotton
and trade stand us as a nation in the stead of a navy.
Acting Lieutenant Conroy, captured blockade running schooner
Elmira Cornelius off the
, Acting Master Jonathan Baker, seized schooner David
Crockett attempting to run the blockade out of
with cargo of turpentine and rosin.
, Acting Lieutenant Watmough, captured blockade running British steamer Ouachita at sea off
, Captain Semmes, captured and burned bark Lamplighter
Boat crew under command of Master's Mate Edwin Janvrin of USS
Rachel Seaman, and boat crew under
command of Second Assistant Engineer Timothy W. O'Connor of USS
Kensington, destroyed Confederate railroad bridge by fire at
Taylor's Bayou, Texas, preventing the transportation of heavy artillery to
Sabine Pass, and burned schooners Stonewall
and Lone Star and barracks. The
constant drain on the South of these unceasing attacks along her sea perimeter
and up the rivers is portrayed almost daily in similar accounts. Some were quite
unusual even for versatile sailors. In a river expedition during the month
Lieutenant Commander Ransom "captured 1,500 head of cattle en route for the
enemy, and succeeded by great perseverance in getting them down to
Boat crews from USS Fort Henry, Acting Lieutenant Edward Y. McCauley, reconnoitering
, captured sloop G.L. Brockenborough
with cargo of cotton.
20 Steamer Minho ran aground after
running the blockade out of
. Rear Admiral Du Pont reported that". . . it appears that she will perhaps
become a wreck, as there is much water in the hold, and part of the cargo [is]
floating about in the vessel. So much of the cargo, it is stated ["by the
papers''], as may be destroyed by water will be nearly a total loss."
21 USS Louisville,
Lieutenant Commander Meade, escorted steamer Meteor, whose embarked Army troops
were landed at Bledsoe's Landing and Hamblin's Landing, Arkansas. The towns were
burned in reprisal for attacks by Confederate guerrillas on mail steamer
Gladiator early in the morning, 19 October. "The people along the river
bank," Meade reported to
, "were duly informed that every outrage by the guerrillas upon packets
would be similarly dealt with.''
22 A naval battery consisting of three 12
pounder boat howitzers from USS
Wabash took part in and furnished
artillery support for Union infantry troops at the battle of
. One of the gun crew, who was seriously injured, was ordinary seaman Oscar W.
Farenholt, the first enlisted man in the Navy to reach flag rank. The battery
from Wabash took part as artillery in amphibious operations all along the
Commander Clitz, captured blockade running British brig Robert Bruce off
Lieutenant William B. Cushing reported that USS
Ellis captured and destroyed blockade
New Topsail Inlet
, with cargo of turpentine, cotton, and tobacco.
, Captain Semmes, captured and burned American bark
24 Sailors on horseback-a landing party
from USS Baron De KaIb, Captain
Winslow, debarked at
, to engage a small Confederate scouting party. Mounting horses which were
procured, as Captain Winslow reported, "by impressement," the Baron
De Kalb sailors engaged in a 9 mile running fight which ended with the
capture of the Confederate party.
25 Rear Admiral Du Pont again wrote Secretary of the Navy Welles of the reported
building of ironclads by the Confederacy in its attempt to break the blockade.
Du Pont remarked: "The idea seemed to be to open the Savannah river, then
come to Port Royal, and thence off
, and raise the blockade. . . . I submit that the Ironsides
should be dispatched at an early day."
, Captain Semmes, captured and burned schooner Crenshaw
27 Boat crews from USS Flag, Lieutenant Commander Charles C. Carpenter, captured British
steamer Anglia at Bull's Bay,
Rear Admiral S. P. Lee wrote Assistant Secretary of the Navy Fox regarding the
difficulty of blockading the coast of North Carolina: "Our supremacy in the
Sounds of N[orth] C[arolina] can . . . only be maintained by ironclads adapted
to the navigation there. . . . The defense of the Sounds is a very important
28 Party led by Lieutenant John Taylor Wood, CSN, boarded, captured, and fired
ship Alleghanian at anchor in
Chesapeake Bay off the mouth of the
with cargo of guano from
, Captain Semmes, captured and burned bark Lauraetta south of
Commander C. Hunter, captured blockade running steamer Caroline near
Lieutenant Commander George A. Bigelow, captured blockade running British
Indian River Inlet
29 Landing party from USS Ellis, Lieutenant Cushing, destroyed large Confederate Salt works at
New Topsail Inlet
. Cushing reported that'' it could have furnished all
exchanged fire with Confederate troops near
; Dan shelled the town and on 30 October a party was landed under
protection of the ship's guns to burn a mill and several buildings.
Captain Semmes, seized brigantine Baron de
Castine south of Nova Scotia, "The vessel being old and of little
value," Semmes reported, "I released her on a ransom bond and
converted her into a cartel, sending some forty-five prisoners on board of
her– the crews of the three last ships burned."
30 Assistant Secretary of the Navy Fox wrote Edward G. Flynn regarding that
man's expressed desire to attempt capture or destruction of commerce raider 290
"The [Navy] Department has published that it will give $500,000 for the
capture and delivery to it of that vessel, or $300,000 if she is destroyed; the
latter however is to be contingent upon the approval of Congress." The
's highly successful commerce raiding was attested to when Fox wrote Rear
Admiral Farragut: The raid of '290' [
] has forced us to send out a dozen vessels in pursuit."
Lieutenant Commander Milton Haxtun, captured blockade running British schooner Hermosa
off the mouth of the
Acting Master Warren, captured schooner Racer
between Stump Inlet and
New Topsail Inlet
, with cargo of salt.
Rear Admiral Du Pont issued a general order which provided that, on capture of
foreign vessels attempting to run the blockade, "the flag of the country to
which they belong must be worn until their cases are adjudicated. The American
flag will be carried at the fore to indicate that they are, for the time, under
31 During October the Confederate Congress formalized a Torpedo Bureau in
under Brigadier General Gabriel J. Rains and a Naval Submarine Battery Service
under Lieutenant Hunter Davidson. The purpose was to organize and improve
methods of torpedo (mine) warfare, in which Commander Matthew Fontaine Maury had
pioneered. The Confederacy, of necessity, developed a variety of underwater
torpedoes, for it had a long coastline with many navigable rivers to protect and
slight naval strength with which to oppose the formidable Union fleet, That the
efforts, while failing to lift the ceaseless pressure of the Northern naval
forces, were nonetheless a serious threat was attested to at war's end by
Secretary of the Navy Welles, who observed that the torpedoes were "always
formidable in harbors and internal waters, and. . . . have been more destructive
to our naval vessels than all other means combined."
Acting Master Andrew J. Frank, captured sloop Pointer at
. Although cleared through the Alexandria Custom House as being without cargo,
Pointer was found to be carrying groceries, dry goods, and whiskey.
Acting Lieutenant Conroy, captured sloop Susan
McPherson off the coast of
Landing party from USS Mahaska, Commander Foxhall A. Parker, destroyed Confederate gun
positions on Wormley's Creek and at
. The attack was continued on 1 November.
31 October– 7
Naval expedition under Commander Davenport, comprising USS
Hetzel, Commodore Perry, Hunchback,
Valley City, and Army gunboat Vidette,
opened fire on an encampment at Plymouth, North Carolina, forcing the
Confederate troops there to withdraw.
was subsequently ordered to meet General John G. Foster at Williamston on 3
November to support an Army assault on
. "It was agreed upon," Commander Davenport reported, that we would
begin our advance on
that night. At 11 a.m. [4 November], having failed as yet in receiving any
signal from the army, I made general signal 'to get underway' and proceeded up
the river. The force also included USS Seymour,
which had arrived that morning.
was evacuated by the Confederates and Union troops took possession of the town.
's gunboats "proceeded a few miles farther up the river to divert the
attention of the enemy, while the army continued its march to Tarboro";
was sent down river the next day (5 November) to destroy the works at Rainbow
Bluff. On 7 November the Union troops, failing to reach Tarboro, returned to
, and 300 sick and wounded soldiers were placed on board the gunboats to be
transported to Williamston.
First mention of Confederate
Colonel E.H. Angamar’s experiments with a “rocket-powered torpedo;”
Angamar was also working on a rocket-propelled ship.
, Lieutenant Commander Meade, captured steamer
above Island No. 36.
Freeborn, Lieutenant Commander Magaw, captured three unnamed boats at
Maryland Point, on the Potomac River; the boats were attempting to run goods
wrote Assistant Secretary of the Navy Fox seeking authority over the Ellet
rams: "I am extremely anxious to get possession of Ellet's Rams; they are
the class of vessels I particularly want at this moment. The old 'Pook Turtles'
are fit only for fighting- they cannot get along against the current without a
tow. . . . Do settle the Ram business, and let me know by telegraph. The
Commander will have to be instructed, or he will not give them up. I have
notified him that I will not permit any naval organization on this River besides
Squadron. . . . Fox agreed with Porter and pressed the matter with the
President. On 7 November the Assistant Secretary convinced President Lincoln
that the Ellet rams belonged under control of the Navy. In a White House
conference with Secretary of the Navy Welles, Secretary of War Stanton, and
transferred all war vessels on the
to the Navy. The action provided for greater efficiency of operations on the
, Captain Semmes, captured and burned whaling shipLevi Starbuck near
3 CSS Cotton,
Lieutenant Edward W. Fuller, and shore batteries engaged USS
Estrella, and Diana in
. In this close and spirited action against heavy odds, Captain Fuller caused
considerable damage to the Union squadron until exhaustion of cartridges forced
Cotton to retire. Captain Fuller reported that the legs of the men's pants were
cut off for use as improvised cartridge bags to fire parting shots as he
Commander Henry K. Thatcher wrote Assistant Secretary of the Navy Fox about the
Mediterranean cruise of historic USS Constellation
and his request for additional ships on this station: "I feel a
considerable degree of national pride in wishing our force here to be increased
. . . for the prevailing opinion here, evidently is, that our country is not
sufficiently strong to admit of withdrawing another vessel from the blockade.
But the paramount object is that of the efficient protection of our commerce and
citizens who are engaged in commercial pursuits and to be pre-pared, should any
rebel cruisers venture into the
Commander Clitz, destroyed blockade running British ship Pathfinder after forcing her aground off
4 The blockade continued to clench the Confederacy in an ever-tightening grip.
Rear Admiral S.P. Lee, commanding the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron,
advised Assistant Secretary of the Navy Fox: "There is no doubt that a
large trade was carried on with Wilmington through Shallotte Inlet 25 miles
below, & New Topsail Inlet 15 miles above Wilmington. I have shut both
Bell, Acting Ensign George E. McConnell, captured and burned schooner Robert
Wilbur in Nomini Creek, off the
Captain Alfred T. Snell, captured pilot boat Wave and an unnamed schooner in
Acting Master Warren, and USS Mount
Vernon, Acting Lieutenant Trathen, forced blockade running British bark Sophia
aground and destroyed her near
de Lion, Acting Master Charles H, Brown, with USS
Teaser and schooner S.H.
Poole, evacuated Union families and their property from Gwynn's Island,
, Acting Lieutenant R.T. Renshaw, captured schooner Alice L. Webb at Rose Bay, North Carolina.
6 USS Teaser,
Ensign Sheridan, captured sloop Grapeshot
7 USS Potomska,
Acting Lieutenant W. Budd, escorted Army transport Darlington up
. Potomska being unable to proceed far up river because of her draft,
Budd trans-ferred to the Army vessel, which was engaged by Confederates at
, undamaged, continued up the Sapelo to Fairhope, where a landing party
destroyed salt works "and other things that might be of use to the
enemy." Taken under attack once again upon returning past Spaulding's,
put forces ashore and destroyed public property and captured arms. 'We were
greatly aided here by the Potomska,"
reported Lieutenant Colonel Oliver T. Beard, "which, from a bend below,
shelled the woods. Under the guns of the Potomska
we landed . . . I am greatly indebted to Lieutenant Budd for the success of this
Acting Master George Wiggin, and steamer Seger
burned steamers Osprey and J.P.
Smith in Bayou Cheval,
, Captain Semmes, captured and burned ship T.B.
Wales southeast of
Acting Master Tole, captured sloop Capitola
. Capitola was carrying cargo and passengers across to
in violation of the blockade.
, surrendered to joint Army-Navy landing force under Second Assistant Engineer
J. L. Lay of USS Louisiana.
10 Commander Maury, enroute to Liverpool, England, wrote his wife from Halifax,
Nova Scotia, that he had arrived after a "boisterous passage of 5 days from
Bermuda" in which he and his 12-year old son suffered from sea sickness.
"The steamer in which we came was quite equal in dirt and all
uncomfortableness to that between
. . . . This is a place of 25 or 30,000 inhabitants. They are strongly 'secesh'
here. The Confederate flag has been flying from the top of the hotel all day, in
honor, I am told 'of our arrival'." Hand organs ground out Dixie all day
under the window; Maury, world famous as "Pathfinder of the Seas,"
having run the blockade, was proceeding to
on a mission for the Confederacy.
11 USS Kensington,
Acting Master Crocker, captured schooner Corse
12 USS Kensington,
Acting Master Crocker, captured British blockade runner Maria off the
14 Rear Admiral Farragut had sailed from the Mississippi River in August to base
at Pensacola where his crews recuperated and repaired the ships preparatory to
attacking Mobile. However, reports of growing Confederate fortifications on the
river and other developments drew him back to the scene of his fame. On this
date from on board USS Hartford
at New Orleans he wrote Secretary of the Navy Welles: ''I am once more in the
Mississippi River. I deemed that my presence here would be well, as the French
admiral is here with two vessels at the city and a frigate at the bar; there is
also an English corvette off the city, and we sailors understand each other
better in many cases than landsmen. General Butler also informed me that he was
operating very largely for his forces on the
, which was an additional reason for my entering the river. I enclose herewith
Lieutenant-Commander Buchanan's report. He is commanding the naval forces
cooperating with the army in
, and has already had two fights with the enemy's steamers and land forces.
These little vessels require a sheet of boiler iron around them as a protection
against musketry, when they would be able to run up the whole length of the
river and catch all the boats in the branches. I called on General Butler for
the purpose of ascertaining when he could give me a small force to attack Fort
Gaines, and to notify him that when the Department wished it I would attack the
forts and go through Mobile Bay without his assistance, but it would embarrass
me very much not to have my communication open with the outside, and that with
1,000 men to menace Gaines in the rear I felt certain they would soon abandon
both forts, once we got inside. He promised to assist in the operation as soon
as General Weitzel returned from
, although he urges me to attack Port Hudson first, as he wishes to break up the
rendezvous before we go outside. It will take at least 5,000 men to take Port
Hudson. I am ready for anything, but desire troops to hold what we get. The
general has really not half troops enough; he requires at least 20,000 more men
to hold the places and do good service in this river and occupy
, whither he proposes to send a regiment.
15 President Lincoln, with Secretaries
Seward and Chase, drove to the
Navy Yard to view the trial of the Hyde rocket. Captain Dahlgren joined the
group for the experiment. Though a defective rocket accidentally exploded, the
President escaped injury.
16 USS T.
A. Ward, Acting Master William L. Babcock, captured sloop G.
W. Green and an unnamed seine boat at St. Jerome's Creek, Maryland,
attempting to cross to the Virginia shore with contraband.
17 USS Kanawha,
Lieutenant Commander Febiger, and USS Kennebec,
Lieutenant Commander John H. RUSSell, chased a
schooner ashore near Mobile where she was set afire and destroyed by her crew.
Union ships prevented Confederate coast guard from boarding the vessel to
extinguish the flames. Of the effectiveness of the blockade in the Gulf, Rear
Admiral Farragut noted: "Blockading is hard service, and difficult to carry
on with perfect success . . . I don't know how many [blockade runners escape,
but we certainly make a good many prizes.
Commander W. A. Parker, forced blockade running British schooner F.
W. Pindar aground at
, and sent boat crew to destroy the vessel. The boat swamped and the crew was
captured after firing the schooner.
Assistant Secretary of the Navy Fox wrote Major General Butler at New Orleans:
"I think [General] MeClernand will be down your way near the last of
December and if you and Farragut can open the Mississippi as far as Red River
and block that leaky place, we shall be able with our Mississippi squadron to
keep that big river open to commerce and New Orleans will rise from its
, Captain Semmes, arrived at
and was blockaded by USS San
Jacinto Commander William Ronckendorff. In foul weather the evening of 19
Lieutenant Commander Braine, chased blockade running British schooners Ariel
and Ann Maria ashore and
destroyed them near Shallotte Inlet with cargoes of salt, flour, sugar, and
19 USS Wissahickon,
Lieutenant Commander John L. Davis, and USS Dawn,
Acting Lieutenant John S. Barnes, engaged
. Wissahickon was hit and temporarily disabled in the exchange of
fire. Persistent and vigilant actions of this nature by the Union Navy pinned
down Confederate manpower that could have been used in land actions else-where. Wissahickon
and Dawn at this time had the mission of blockading CSS
, and preventing her from becoming another commerce raider like CSS
20 USS Seneca,
Lieutenant Commander Gibson, captured schooner Annie Dees running the blockade out of
with cargo of turpentine and rosin.
Commander C. Hunter, captured sloop William
E. Chester near
, captured boat crew from
mortar schooner Henry Janes, Acting Master Pennington. The men were ashore to
procure fresh beef for the mortar schooner.
22-24 Joint Army–Navy expedition to vicinity of
, under Lieutenant Farquhar and Acting Master's Mate Nathan W. Black of USS
Mahaska destroyed numerous salt works
together with hundreds of bushels of salt, burned three schooners and numerous
small boats, and captured 24 large canoes.
23 Landing party from USS Ellis, Lieutenant Cushing, captured arms, mail, and two schooners at
. While under attack from Confederate artillery, Ellis
grounded on 24 November. After very effort to float the ship failed, Lieutenant
Cushing ordered her set afire on 25 November to avoid capture. Cushing reported:
"I fired the Ellis in five places
and having seen that the battle flag was still flying, trained the gun on the
enemy so that the vessel might fight herself after we had left her."
24 Boat from USS Reliance, Acting Master William P. Dockray, captured longboat New
Moon, suspected of running the blockade on the Potomac River, off
Lieutenant Commander Braine, destroyed two Confederate salt works near Little
River Inlet, North Carolina.
Lieutenant Commander English, captured two British blockade runners, schooner Agnes
and sloop Ellen, in
25 USS Kittatinny,
Acting Master Lamson, captured British blockade runner Matilda, bound from
26 USS Kittatinny,
Acting Master Lamson, captured schooner Diana,
27 Rear Admiral Farragut wrote from his flagship at
: "I am still doing nothing, but waiting for the tide of events and doing
all I can to hold what I have, & blockade
. So soon as the river rises, we will have Porter down from above, who now
commands the upper squadron, and then I shall probably go outside . . . We shall
spoil unless we have a fight occasionally."
29 In late November Captain H. A. Adams
was ordered to special duty at
as coordinator of coal supply. All coal used in the U.S. Navy at that time was
anthracite and came from the eastern district of Pennsylvania, being forwarded
to Philadelphia either by rail or barge down the Schuylkill River. There it was
loaded into coal schooners and sent to the various blockading squadrons. Before
Captain Adams was ordered to this duty, squadron commanders had consider-able
difficulty in keeping their ships supplied with coal and often had to borrow
from the Army. To illustrate the amount of coal required by the squadrons, Rear
Admiral Du Pont notified the Navy Department in mid-December that the
consumption of coal in his
Blockading Squadron alone was approximately 950 tons a week.
Vernon, Acting Lieutenant Trathen, captured blockade runner Levi
, with cargo of rice.
, Captain Semmes, captured and burned bark Parker
Cook off the
Inventor Pascal Plant
demonstrates a true torpedo to interested naval officers along the banks of the
. “Torpedo” in the Civil War described what we would call “mines,” and
it was not until the 1880s that the British would develop the “automobile
torpedo.” On two occasions, Plant fired his rocket-powered missiles at a
target vessel. On the first demonstration, the torpedo missed the target—but
successfully sank the schooner Diana anchored some distance away. A
second torpedo on the same day missed the target and buried itself in the far
bank. Later, Plant launched another torpedo which ran underwater for a distance
and then porpoised above the surface and flew for over 100 yards before
exploding on the opposite shore. Although Plant was decades ahead of his time
and his device suffered only from guidance problems, the inspecting Navy
officers failed to see the potential of the “self-propelled torpedo” and
declined further interest in the weapon.
1 In his second annual report, Secretary of the Navy Welles informed President
Lincoln: "We have at this time afloat or progressing to rapid completion a
naval force consisting of 427 vessels . . armed in the aggregate with 1,577
guns, and of the capacity of 240,028 tons . . . The number of persons employed
on board our naval vessels, including receiving ships and recruits, is about
28,000; and there are not less than 12,000 mechanics and laborers employed at
the different navy yards and naval stations."
Lieutenant Maffitt, commanding CSS Florida,
wrote: "As the Alabama and Florida are the only two cruisers we have just
now, it would be a perfect absurdity to tilt against their more than three
hundred, for the Federals would gladly sacrifice fifty armed ships to extinguish
the two Confederates.''
Rear Admiral Du Pont again remarked on the Charleston defenses and his growing
forces with which to attack them in a letter to Senator Grimes: ''The rebel
defenses of Charleston are still progressing– The English officers who have
been in and the blockade runners whom we capture, smile at the idea of its being
taken, and say it is stronger than Sebastabol but they said the same of New
Orleans. . . lam very glad to learn that John Rodgers and Worden [commander of USS
Monitor during the engagement with CSS
Virginia] were with Drayton on his last trial of the Passaic,
for the more we learn of the new tools we have to use the better two rams are
completed at Charleston to add to the harbor defenses but for the strong force I
have off here [Port Royal], I think they would have attempted to raid across the
Lieutenant Commander English, captured blockade running British schooner By
, with cargo including coffee and salt.
Commander Clary, captured schooner Nonsuch
at Bahama Banks.
2 Confederate steamer Queen of the
Bay, Captain H. Willke, CSA, sounding
pass, was chased by boats under Acting Ensign Alfred H. Reynolds and Master's
Mate George C. Dolliver from USS Sachem.
Captain Willke ran Queen of the Bay
, deployed his men, and took Union boats under fire. Reynolds, seriously
wounded, was compelled to land on nearby Mustang Island and abandon his boats to
the Confederates before retreating overland 30 miles to rejoin Sachem
at Aransas Bay, Texas.
, Commander W. A. Parker, captured schooner J.
C. Roker off the coast of
with cargo of salt.
Acting Master Warren, captured British blockade runner Brilliant attempting to run cargo of salt into
Commander W. A. Parker, captured schooner Emma
4 USS Anacostia,
Coeur de Lion, Currituck, and Jacob Bell,
under Acting Master Shankland, engaged by Confederate batteries at Port Royal,
Virginia. In the exchange of fire which lasted over an hour, Jacob
Bell was damaged.
Rear Admiral Farragut stated: "My people are carrying on the war in various
parts of the coast, & it takes all my energies to keep them supplied with
provisions and coal. I have a great many irons in the fire and have to look
sharp to keep some of them from burning . . . We have either taken or destroyed
all the steamers that run from Havanna & Nassau to this coast, except the Cuba
and Alice . . . I have all the coast
except Mobile Bay, and am ready to take that the moment I can get troops.
5 Boats from USS Mahaska, Commander F. A. Parker, and USS
General Putnam, under Lieutenant
Elliot C. V. Blake of Mahaska,
captured and destroyed "several fine boats," a schooner and two sloops
in branches of Severn River, Maryland, and brought back schooners Seven Brothers
and Galena. Although the captain of
claimed to be a Union man, Commander Parker reported his belief that the
captain was endeavoring "to carry water on both shoulders."
, Captain Semmes, captured and released on bond schooner Union
Lieutenant Commander John G. Walker, USS Baron
De KaIb, reported capture of steamer Lottie
30 miles above
6 USS Diana,
Acting Master Ezra Goodwin, captured steamers Southern Methodist and Naniope
laden with molasses and sugar.
, Captain Semmes, captured
steamer Ariel off the coast of
with 700 passengers on board, including 150 Marines and Commander Louis C.
8 President Lincoln sent a recommendation of thanks to the Congress on behalf of
Commander Worden for his part as commanding officer of USS
Monitor during her Hampton Roads
engagement with CSS Virginia.
Acting Master Warren, seized sloop Coquette
New Topsail Inlet
, with cargo of whiskey, potatoes, apples, and onions.
9 Rear Admiral Bailey, on assuming command of the Eastern Gulf Blockading
Squadron, stated: "The outward pressure of our Navy, in barring the enemy's
ports, crippling the power, and exhausting the resources of the States in
rebellion; in depriving them of a market for their peculiar productions, and of
the facilities for importing many vital requisites for the use of their Army and
peoples, is slowly, surely, and unostentatiously reducing the rebellion to such
straits as must result in their unconditional submission, even though our
gallant Army does not achieve another victory."
10 USS Currituck,
Acting Master Thomas J. Linnekin, engaged Confederate battery on
Lieutenant Commander English, captured British schooner Alicia attempting to run the blockade out of
, with cargo of cotton.
Charles F. W. Behm, was disabled by a shot through the steam chest off
, while rendering close fire support to troops under attack by Confederate
11 Assistant Secretary of the Navy Fox wrote
of the readying of ironclads for the fleet and observed: "We shall soon be
ready to try the Iron Clads against the few southern Forts yet in the hands of
12 USS Cairo,
Lieutenant Commander Thomas O. Selfridge, on an expedition up the Yazoo River to
destroy torpedoes, was sunk by one of the infernal machines" and Selfridge
reported: "The Cairo sunk in
about twelve minutes after the explosion, going totally out of sight, except the
top of her chimneys, in 6 fathoms of water."
was the first of some 40 Union vessels to be torpedoed during the war. The
torpedo which destroyed
was a large demijohn fired with a friction primer by a trigger line from
torpedo pits on the river bank.
later observed: "It was an accident liable to occur to any gallant officer
whose zeal carries him to the post of danger and who is loath to let others do
what he thinks he ought to do himself." Despite the loss of Cairo,
Porter wrote: "I gave Captain Walke orders to hold Yazoo River at all
hazards . . . We may lose three or four vessels, but will succeed in carrying
out the plan for the capture of Vicksburg."
12-16 Naval force under Commander Murray including USS
Delaware, Shawsheen, Lockwood, and Seymour
with armed transports in the Neuse River supported an Army expedition to destroy
railroad bridges and track near Goldsboro, North Carolina; low water prevented
the gunboats from advancing more than about 15 miles up the river.
15 Assistant Secretary of the Navy Fox wrote Rear Admiral S. P. Lee, proposing
an assault on Wilmington: "Though the popular clamor centers upon
Charleston I consider Wilmington a more important point in a military and
political point of view and I do not conceal from myself that it is more
difficult of access on account of the shallowness of the bars, and more easily
defended inside by obstructions, yet it must be attacked and we have more force
than we shall possess again since the ironclads must, go South so soon as four
are ready." Nonetheless,
, guarded by the guns of
, remained a bastion of Confederate strength and one of the few havens for
blockade runners until nearly the end of the war.
16 General Banks arrived at
with additional troops to supersede General Butler and prepare for increased
operations on the river.
18 Assistant Secretary of the Navy Fox wrote: "I believe there is no work
shop in the country capable of making steam machinery or iron plates and hulls
that is not in full blast with Naval orders. Before another year we shall be
prepared to defend ourselves with reasonable hopes of success against a foreign
enemy, and in two years we can take the offensive with vessels that will be
superior to any
is now building." Because of this extensive building program, by war's end
the U.S. Navy was the most powerful force afloat in the world.
19 Rear Admiral Farragut advised Secretary of the Navy Welles that he had
recommended "the occupation of Baton Rouge" to General Banks on his
arrival. "He ordered his transports to proceed directly to that city.''
Commander James Alden in
with 2 gunboats covered the landing. "
is only 12–15 miles from Port Hudson. I am ready to attack the latter place
and support General Banks the moment he desires to move against it.'' The
powerful combined operations that were destroying the Confederacy at its heart
gathered strength for the crushing attacks of 1863.
in his flagship USS Black Hawk joined General William T. Sherman at
, and prepared for the joint assault on
. The fleet under Admiral Porter's command for the
campaign was the largest ever placed under one officer up to that time, equal
in number to all the vessels composing the U.S. Navy at the outbreak of war.
, Acting Lieutenant W. C. Rogers, seized schooner Courier off Tortugas with cargo including salt, coffee, sugar, and
Captain Dahlgren, confidant of and advisor to the President, went to the White
House at the request of President Lincoln to observe the testing of a new type
24 USS New
Era, Acting Master Frank W. Flanner, arrived off Columbus, Kentucky, to
support the Army, which was threatened with imminent attack by a large
Confederate force. New Era had been
at the urgent request of General J. M. Tuttle, and brought a much-needed Army
howitzer, ammunition, and a Master's Mate to take charge of one of the
batteries. Confederate occupation of
would have seriously disrupted the flow of sup-plies to the fleet and Army
poised below for the
Acting Master Bruner, captured steamer Bloomer
27 Rear Admiral D. D. Porter received a request from Brigadier General Willis A.
Gorman for assistance in the forthcoming campaign in
. Though his fleet was fully employed," Porter nevertheless ordered USS
Conestoga to begin the requested
patrolling action ''between the White and
rivers as occasion may require. But,'' he added in his instructions to
Lieutenant Commander Selfridge, "
is the main point to look after. We will occupy it soon with troops."
Meanwhile, that day Porter's squadron was involved in a heated engage-ment with
Confederate batteries on the
. USS Benton,
Lieutenant Commander Gwin, continuing to carry on the removal of torpedoes after
's destruction a fortnight before, with USS Cincinnati,
, Marmora, and ram Queen of the West in company, returned the fire of the battery's
eight heavy guns at Drumgould's Bluff. As Porter "served, "The old war
, has been much cut up, and the gallant, noble Gwin, I fear, mortally wounded.''
Nonetheless, Porter was able to report that the
was cleared of torpedoes to within one-half mile of the battery and to remark
"we gave the enemy enough to occupy them to-day, and drew off a large
portion of their force." Cooperating fully with the Army during the
preparations for renewed engagements along the
, the Navy constantly harassed Confederate forces at Drumgould's Bluff, as well
as those at Haynes' Bluff and elsewhere, as the squadron's mobile fire power
kept Confederate troops off balance and dispersed.
Acting Master Charles Potter, captured British schooner Carmita northwest of Marquesas Keys,
, attempting to run the blockade.
Master John Sherrill, captured British schooner Kate attempting to run into St. Mark's River,
, with cargo of salt, coffee, copper, and liquor.
28 USS Anacostia,
Acting Master Nelson Provost, seized schooner Exchange in the
's gunboats supported General Sherman's attempt to capture Con-federate- held Chickasaw
Bluffs, a vantage point upstream from
. "Throughout these operations," Porter wrote, "the Navy did
everything that could be done to ensure the success of General Sherman's
movement." Though the Navy supplied shore bombardment from the squadron and
created diversionary movements, the Union troops, hindered by heavy rains and
faced by the timely arrival of Confederate reinforcements, were forced to
29 USS Magnolia,
Acting Master Potter, seized blockade running British sloop Flying
Fish off Tortugas.
31 USS Monitor,
Commander Bankhead, foundered and was lost off Cape Hatteras en route from
Hampton Roads to Beaufort, North Carolina. During the short career of the first
Union sea-going ironclad, she had fought CSS
in the historic engagement that ushered in a new era in warfare, had supported
General McClellan's Peninsular Campaign, and had effected for all time momentous
changes in naval tactics and ship construction.
The Confederate embargo, the capture of
, and the Union Navy's blockade combined to curtail greatly the export of the
South's major product, cotton. Meanwhile, the North's control of the seas,
threatened only by a few Confederate commerce raiders granted the Union access
to the world markets for the importation of war materials and exportation of
produce such as wheat, which was a major factor in deterring European powers
from recognizing the Confederacy.