Each year is divided into two halves (January through June and July through December)
|1861 January - June||1861 July - December|
|1862 January - June||1862 July - December|
|1863 January - June||1863 July - December|
|1864 January - June||1864 July - December|
|1865 January - April|
(718kb Zipped Word document)
War Naval Chronology 1861-1865
Published 1966 by Naval History Division
in blue are information concerning submarine warfare derived from Mark Ragan's
January - February - March - April - May - June
1 United States Navy planned to convert seven sailing ships into steam ships of war at a cost of $3,064,000.
15 Lieutenant Thomas A. Craven, Commanding U.S. Naval Forces at Key West, notified Secretary of the Navy Isaac Toucey that due to "the present deplorable condition of affairs in the Southern States" he had moved to prevent the seizure "by any hands of lawless men" of Forts Taylor and Jefferson. Craven, in U.S.S. Mohawk, defended Fort Jefferson and Lieutenant Fabius Stanly, U.S.S. Wyandotte, held Fort Taylor. This far-sighted action on the part of Craven, who distinguished himself throughout the war, enabled the Union to retain the vital Key West posts, the importance of which, Craven noted can not be overestimated, commanding as they do the commerce of the Gulf of Mexico.
26 Following the secession of South Carolina
(20 December) Major Robert Anderson, USA, removed his loyal garrison from Fort
Moultrie to Fort Sumter, on an island in Charleston Harbor; this created special
need for sea-borne reinforcements of troops and supplies.
27 U.S. Revenue Cutter Aiken was surrendered to South Carolina authorities.
5 U.S. steamer Star of the West, Captain John McGowan, USRM, departed New York with an Army detachment for the relief of Fort Sumter, Charleston Harbor, South Carolina.
Secretary of the Navy Toucey ordered Fort Washington-on Maryland side of the Potomac– garrisoned "to protect public property." Forty Marines from Washington Navy Yard under Captain Algernon S. Taylor, USMC, were sent to the Fort-a vital link in the defense of the Nation's Capital by land or water.
Fort Morgan, at the entrance to Mobile Bay, Alabama, was seized and garrisoned by Alabama militia.
9 U.S. steamer Star of the West, Captain McGowan, was fired on by Confederate troops from Morris Island and Fort Moultrie as she attempted to enter Charleston Harbor. Cadets from the Citadel took part in this action. The relief of Fort Sumter was not effected. These were the first Confederate shots fired at a vessel flying the United States flag. Star of the West returned to New York.
Thirty Marines from Washington Navy Yard under First Lieutenant Andrew J. Hays, USMC, garrisoned Fort McHenry, Baltimore, until U.S. Army troops could relieve them.
10 Forts Jackson and St. Philip, Mississippi River, Louisiana, were seized by Louisiana State troops. 11 U.S. Marine Hospital two miles below New Orleans was occupied by Louisiana State troops.
12 Fort Barrancas and the Pensacola Navy Yard, Captain James Armstrong, USN, were seized by Florida and Alabama militia. Union troops escaped across the Bay to Fort Pickens on Santa Rosa Island, a position which remained in Union hands throughout the war.
14 South Carolina legislature declared any attempt to reinforce Fort Sumter would be an act of war.
16 Captain Taylor, USMC, commanding Fort Washington, wrote Colonel John Harris, Marine Corps Commandant, regarding the "defenseless and pregnable condition" of the Fort. Taylor requested reinforcements, commenting that he did "not wish to be placed in a position to detract from the high character of my corps."
18 Confederates seized U.S. lighthouse tender Alert at Mobile, Alabama.
20 Fort on Ship Island, Mississippi, seized by Confederates; Ship Island was a key base for operations in the Gulf of Mexico and at the mouth of the Mississippi River.
22 Guns and ammunition sold to and destined for Georgia were seized by New York authorities. This action was protested by Georgia Governor Joseph E. Brown in a letter to New York Governor Edwin Morgan. In retaliation Governor Brown seized northern ships at Savannah on 8 and 21 February 1861. Marine Guard at Brooklyn Navy Yard put under arms as a precaution against difficulty with Confederate sympathizers.
23 Commander John A. Dahlgren noted that as a precaution against an attack on the Washington Navy Yard, he had the cannon and the ammunition from the Yard magazine removed to the attic of the main building.
25 Captain Samuel F. Du Pont wrote Commander Andrew Hull Foote about the number of naval officers resigning their commissions to go to their home States in the South: "What made me most sick at heart, is the resignations from the Navy . . . I [have been] nurtured, fed and clothed by the general government for over forty years, paid whether employed or not, and for what- why to stand by the country, whether assailed by enemies from without or foes within- my oath declared 'allegiance to the United States' as well as to support the Constitution . . I stick by the flag and the national government as long as we have one, whether my state does or not and she knows it.
28 Stephen R. Mallory, later Confederate Secretary of the Navy, hearing that USS Brooklyn, Captain William S. Walker, was en route to reinforce Fort Pickens, wired John Slidell that, if attempted, "resistance and a bloody conflict seems inevitable."
29 Secretaries of the Navy and War ordered that the Marines and troops on board U.S.S Brooklyn, Captain Walker, en route Pensacola, not be landed to reinforce Fort Pickens unless that work was taken under attack by the Confederates.
Louisiana having passed the ordinance of secession on 26 January, Secretary of the Treasury John A. Dix wired Agent William H. Jones at New Orleans ordering him not to surrender the U.S. Revenue Cutter there and to defend the American flag with force if necessary. Robert McClelland surrendered by Captain John G. Breshwood, USRM, to Louisiana authorities despite contrary command by Agent Jones.
30 U.S. Revenue Schooner Lewis Cass, Captain John J. Morrison, USRM, was surrendered at Mobile to State authorities.
31 U.S. Revenue Schooner Washington, Captain Robert K. Hudgins, USRM, was seized by State authorities at New Orleans, while undergoing repairs.
9 USS Brooklyn, Captain Walker, arrived off
Pensacola. Troops were not landed at Fort Pickens in compliance with the order
of 29 January, based on an interim agreement with Florida officials in which the
status quo would be maintained, (i.e., Forts Barrancas and McRee and Navy Yard
remained in Confederate hands while the Union held Fort Pickens on Santa Rosa
Island). Brooklyn, Sabine, Macedonia, and St Louis
remained off the harbor, but reinforcements were not put ashore at Fort Pickens
until April 17.
11 Commander Dahlgren urged Congress to approve the
building of more gun sloops and an “iron-cased” ship.
14 Confederate Congress passed a resolution
authorizing “the Committee on Naval Affairs to procure the attendance at
Montgomery, of all such persons versed in naval affairs as they may deem it
advisable to consult with.”
15 Raphael Semmes, later captain of CSS Sumter
and Alabama, resigned his commission in the United States Navy.
18 In his inaugural address as President of the
Provisional Government of the Confederate States, Jefferson Davis said: “I . .
. suggest that for the protection of our harbors and commerce on the high seas a
Navy adapted to these objects will be required . . .”
20 Navy Department formally established by act of
21 Jefferson Davis appointed Stephen R. Mallory of
Florida Secretary of the Confederate States Navy.
27 U.S. Congress
authorized construction of seven steam sloops to augment existing naval
strength. Gideon Welles, soon to be Secretary of the navy, noted, “for steam,
as well as heavy ordnance, has become an indispensable element of the most
efficient naval power.”
2 U.S. Revenue Schooner Henry Dodge, First Lieutenant William F. Rogers, USRM, was seized at
Galveston, as Texas joined the Confederacy.
4 Forty-two vessels were in commission in the United States Navy. Twelve of these ships were assigned duty with the Home Squadron, four of which were based on Northern ports. Beginning with the return of Powhatan to New York and Pocahontas to Hampton Roads on 12 March and Cumberland to Hampton Roads on 23 March, the Department moved to recall all but three ships from foreign stations, where they were badly needed, in order to meet the greater needs of the Nation in this hour of crisis.
7 Gideon Welles of Hartford, Connecticut, took office in Washington as Secretary of the Navy.
13 It was reported by Captain J. M. Brannon, USA, commanding Fort Taylor that "everything is quiet at Key West to this date"-a tribute to the firm policing of the area by Union naval vessels. Throughout the early months of 1861 the "showing of the flag" by the Fleet maintained a peaceful equilibrium in a situation fraught with tension. The much-feared attack, expected to accompany Florida's secession (10 January), did not materialize.
17 Confederate Navy Department sent Commander Lawrence RoUSSeau, Commander Ebenezer Farrand, and Lieutenant Robert T. Chapman to New Orleans to negotiate for the construction of gunboats.
18 Brigadier General Braxton Bragg, CSA, issued an order forbidding passage of supplies to Fort Pickens and the U.S. squadron off Pensacola.
20 U.S. sloop Isabella, carrying supplies for U.S. squadron at Pensacola, was seized at Mobile.
21 Gustavus V. Fox, ex-naval officer now a civilian, reconnoitered Fort Sumter, Charleston Harbor, as directed by President Lincoln, to determine the best means of relieving the Fort. Based on his observations, Fox recommended relieving Sumter by sea: "I propose to put the troops on board of a large, comfortable sea steamer and hire two powerful light draft New York tug boats, having the necessary stores on board. These to be convoyed by the USS Pawnee . . . and the revenue cutter Harriet Lane . . . Arriving off the bar, I propose to examine by day the naval preparations and obstructions. If their vessels determine to oppose our entrance, and a feint or flag of truce would ascertain this, the armed ships must approach the bar and destroy or drive them on shore. Major Anderson would do the same upon any vessels within the range of his guns and would also prevent any naval succor being sent down from the city."
31 Secretary of the Navy Welles ordered 250 men transferred from New York to the Navy Yard at Norfolk, Virginia.
2 President Lincoln visited the Washington
Navy Yard. The President returned frequently to confer with Commander Dahlgren
on the defense of the Capital and the far reaching strategy of sea power in
3 Confederate battery at Morris Island, Charleston, fired on American schooner Rhoda H. Shannon.
4 President Lincoln gave final approval to
Gustavus Fox's plan to relieve Fort Sumter by sea.
5 USS Powhatan, Pawnee, Pocahontas, and Revenue Cutter Harriet Lane were ordered by Secretary of the Navy Welles to provision Fort Sumter; squadron commander was Captain Samuel Mercer in Powhatan.
6 Lieutenant David Dixon Porter, ordered to take command of USS Powhatan by President Lincoln and to reinforce Fort Pickens, Pensacola, instead of Fort Sumter, departed New York. The following day Lieutenant John L. Worden, USN, departed Washington, D.C., by rail with orders to Captain Henry A. Adams, commanding USS Sabine and senior officer present in the Pensacola area, to reinforce Fort Pickens.
8 Revenue Cutter Harriet Lane, Captain John Faunce, USRM, departed New York for relief of Fort Sumter.
9 Gustavus V. Fox sailed from New York in chartered steamer Baltic for the relief of Fort Sumter.
10 USS Pawnee, Commander Stephen C. Rowan, departed Hampton Roads for relief of Fort Sumter.
General P. G. T. Beauregard, CSA, commanding at Charleston, was instructed to demand evacuation of Fort Sumter and, if refused, to "proceed, in such manner as you may determine, to reduce it."
Secretary of the Navy Welles alerted Captain Charles S. McCauley, Commandant Norfolk Navy Yard, to condition USS Merrimack for a move to a Northern yard should it become necessary. At the same time Welles cautioned McCauley that, "There should be no steps taken to give needless alarm."
11 Commander James Alden was ordered to report to Captain McCauley to take command of Merrimack. The following day Chief Engineer Benjamin Isherwood was sent to Norfolk to put the ship's engines in working order as soon as possible.
General Beauregard's demand for evacuation of Fort Sumter refused by Major Anderson.
U.S. steamship Coatzacoalcos arrived in New York, returning Union troops from Texas.
12 Fort Sumter fired on by Confederate batteries-the conflict begins.
U.S. steamship Baltic, under Gustavus Fox, USS Pawnee, Commander Rowan, and Harriet Lane, Captain Faunce, USRM, arrived off Charleston to reinforce Fort Sumter. But, as Fox observed, "war had commenced" and he was unable to carry out his mission.
Under secret orders from Secretary of the Navy Welles carried by Lieutenant Worden, Fort Pickens was reinforced by landing of troops under Captain Israel Vogdes, 1st U.S. Artillery, and Marines under First Lieutenant John C. Cash, from the squadron composed of USS Sabine, Captain H. A. Adams, Senior Officer Present, USS Brooklyn, Captain W. S. Walker, USS St. Louis, Commander Charles H. Poor, and USS Wyandotte, Lieutenant J. R. Madison Mullany.
13 Fort Sumter surrendered by Major Anderson. Troops were evacuated the next day by Fox's expedition. USS Sabine, Captain Adams, blockaded Pensacola Harbor.
Lieutenant Worden was seized near Montgomery, Alabama, and placed in prison, but his Pensacola mission had been accomplished.
14 Captain Du Pont wrote: "I hope those Southern gentlemen will declare war, for that will stop the shilly shallying, unite the North if it be not so already, and the line will have to be drawn by the strategic points involved, which for the defense of the Capital includes Maryland."
15 Seventeen vessels from Southern ports without U.S. clearances were seized at New York.
16 Secretary of the Navy Welles wrote Flag Officer Garrett J. Pendergrast, commanding USS Cumberland at Norfolk: "Until further orders the departure of the Cumberland to Vera Cruz will be deferred. In the meantime you will lend your assistance, and that of your command, towards putting the vessels now in the Yard in condition to be moved, placing the ordnance and ordnance stores on board for moving, and, in case of invasion, insurrection, or violence of any kind, to suppress it, repelling assault by force, if necessary."
17 USS Powhatan, Lieutenant D. D. Porter, arrived off Pensacola. Under her protecting guns, 600 troops on board steamer Atlantic were landed at Fort Pickens to complete its reinforcement. President Lincoln had stated "I want that fort saved at all hazards." The President's wish was fulfilled, and use of the best harbor on the Gulf was denied the Confederacy for the entire war, while serving the Union indispensably in the blockade and the series of devastating assaults from the sea that divided and destroyed the South.
Jefferson Davis' proclamation invited all interested in "service in private armed vessels on the high seas" to apply for Letters of Marque and Reprisal.
Confederates placed obstacles in the channel at Norfolk, attempting to prevent the sailing of U.S. naval vessels. The subsequent passage of the obstructions by Pawnee and Cumberland proved the effort ineffective.
18 USS Merrimack was reported ready for sea at Norfolk by Chief Engineer Isherwood.
Secretary of the Navy Welles wrote Captain Hiram Paulding: "You are directed to proceed forthwith to Norfolk and take command of all the naval forces there afloat On no account should the arms and munitions be permitted to fall into the hands of insurrectionists, or those who would wrest them from the custody of the government; and should it finally become necessary, you will, in order to prevent that result, destroy the property."
U.S. schooner Buchanan (lighthouse tender), Master Thomas Cullen, was seized and taken to Richmond, Virginia.
19 President Lincoln issued proclamation declaring blockade of Southern ports from South Carolina to Texas Of the blockade Admiral David Dixon Potter was to later write: "So efficiently was the blockade maintained and so greatly was it strengthened from time to time, that foreign statesmen, who at the beginning of the war, did not hesitate to pronounce the blockade of nearly three thousand miles of coast a moral impossibility, twelve months after its establishment were forced to admit that the proofs of its efficiency were so comprehensive and conclusive that no objections to it could be made."
Washington having been cut off by rail from the North, Captain Du Pont and others embarked troops at Philadelphia and head of the Chesapeake Bay to proceed to the relief of the Capital. Steamer Boston departed Philadelphia with New York Seventh Regiment on board, and ferryboat Maryland embarked General Benjamin F. Butler's Massachusetts Eighth Regiment at Perryville for Annapolis.
U.S. steamer Star of the West was seized by Confederates at lndianola, Texas.
Captain David Glasgow Farragut, though born in the South and with a southern wife, chose to remain loyal to the Union and left his home in Norfolk, Virginia, to take up residence in New York City.
20 Norfolk Navy Yard partially destroyed to prevent Yard facilities from falling into Confederate hands and abandoned by Union forces. U.S. S. Pennsylvania, Germantown, Raritan. Columbia, and Dolphin were burned to water's edge. USS Delaware, Columbus, Plymouth, and Merrimack (later CSS Virginia) were burned and sunk. Old frigate USS United States was abandoned. USS Pawnee, Commodore Paulding, and tug Yankee. towing USS Cumberland, escaped; Pawnee returned to Washington to augment small defenses at the Capital. This major Yard was of prime importance to the South. The Confederacy had limited industrial capacity, and possession of the Norfolk Yard provided her with guns and other ordnance materiel, and, equally as important, gave her a drydock and an industrial plant in which to manufacture crucially needed items. In large measure, guns for the batteries and fortifications erected by the Confederates on the Atlantic coast and rivers during 1861 came from the Norfolk Yard.
USS Constitution, Lieutenant George Rodgers, moored in Severn River off Annapolis, was towed into Chesapeake Bay by steamer Maryland with General Butler's troops on board. This action, preceded by resolute measures by Naval Academy staff and midshipmen. prevented Confederates from seizing historic "Old Ironsides."
U.S. S. Anacostia, Lieutenant Thomas S. Fillebrown, was ordered to patrol off Kettle Bottom Shoals, Virginia, to prevent the obstruction 'of the channel at that point; the crew was augmented by 20 Marines from the Washington Navy Yard
Cornelius Vanderbilt offered the government the fast steamer Vanderbilt. Eventually the Navy acquired many private ships by charter or purchase to strengthen its blockade fleets.
U.S. coast survey schooner Twilight, Andrew C. Mitchell, was seized at Aransas, Texas.
21 Colonel Charles F. Smith. USA, reported to Secretary of the Navy Welles he had seized and placed under guard steamers Baltimore, Mount Vernon, Philadelphia. and Powhatan near Washington, D.C. Steamers plied between Aquia Creek and Washington; these were ordered to be outfitted at Washington Navy Yard for defense of the Capital. Aquia Creek, terminal point of railroad connection with Richmond, was the first location on the Potomac where Confederate naval officers erected batteries.
USS Saratoga, Commander Alfred Taylor, captured slave ship Nightingale with 961 slaves on board.
Secretary of the Navy Welles instructed Captain Du Pont, Commandant Philadelphia Navy Yard, to procure five staunch steamers from ten to twelve feet draught, having particular reference to strength and speed and capable of carrying a nine-inch pivot gun or coast service." Similar orders were sent to Commandants of the Navy Yards in New York and Boston.
22 Captain Franklin Buchanan, Commandant Washington Navy Yard, submitted his resignation and was relieved by Commander John A. Dahlgren; Buchanan joined the Confederate Navy and was promoted to Admiral, CSN, on 26 August 1862. Dahlgren spurred the buildup of Union ordnance and operation of ships for the defense of Washington and Potomac River. Of the ships (primarily chartered commercial steamers) assigned to Dahlgren's command at the Navy Yard, Secretary of the Navy Welles reported: "For several months the navy, without aid, succeeded, more effectually than could have been expected. in keeping open for commercial purposes, and restricting. to a great extent, communication between the opposite shores [Potomac]."
Steamer Boston arrived at Annapolis with New York 7th Regiment on board, found Maryland aground after towing USS Constitution into Chesapeake Bay, and got her off, troops from both ships disembarking. This timely arrival by water transport, recommended by Captain Du Pont at Philadelphia, was instrumental in defending Washington against possible Confederate seizure, and significant in keeping Maryland in the Union. In the following days Butler's troops repaired the railroad and opened communications with Washington, which had been severed since the 19 April Baltimore riots. Commander James H. Ward of USS North Carolina proposed to Secretary of the Navy Welles the organization of a "flying flotilla" of ships for service in Chesapeake Bay and tributaries. The proposal was approved, ships purchased and fitted out in New York, and on 20 May 1861, USS Freeborn, with two small craft in tow, Commander Ward in command, arrived at Washington Navy Yard.
Secretary of the Navy Welles ordered Commander William W. Hunter to move Receiving Ship Allegheny at Baltimore to Fort McHenry because of strong secessionist activity in the city.
23 USS Pawnee reached Washington where Commodore Paulding reported to the Navy Department on the loss of the Norfolk Navy Yard. Pawnee's arrival strengthened the Capital's defenses at a critical juncture.
24 USS Cumberland, Flag Officer Pendergrast, captured Confederate tug Young America and schooner George M. Smith with cargo of arms and ammunition in Hampton Roads.
USS Constitution, Lieutenant G. W. Rodgers, departed with midshipmen on board for New York and Newport, Rhode Island, under tow of USS R. R. Curler with Harriet Lane in company. to transfer U.S. Naval Academy.
26 USS Commerce. Lieutenant Peirce Crosby, captured steamer Lancaster at Havre de Grace, Maryland. He also pursued a steam tug "in obedience to the written orders that I had received from you [Commander Charles Steedman] to seize all tugs south of Havre de Grace," but could not catch her.
Confederate Secretary of the Navy Mallory reported: "I propose to adopt a class of vessels hitherto unknown to naval services. The perfection of a warship would doubtless be a combination of the greatest known ocean speed with the greatest known floating battery and power of resistance . . . agents of the department have thus far purchased but two [steam vessels], which combine the requisite qualities. These, the Sumter and MacRae, are being fitted as cruisers . . . Vessels of this character and capacity cannot be found in this country, and must be constructed or purchased abroad." Mallory discussed naval ordnance: "Rifled cannon having attained a range and accuracy beyond any other form of ordnance . . . I propose to introduce them into the Navy . . . Small propeller ships, with great speed, lightly armed with these guns. must soon become as the light artillery and rifles of the deep, a most destructive element of naval warfare."
27 President Lincoln extended the blockade to ports of Virginia and North Carolina.
Secretary of the Navy Welles issued order for Union ships to seize Confederate privateers upon the high seas.
Steamer Helmick, loaded with powder and munitions of war for the Confederacy, was seized at Cairo, Illinois.
29 USS United States ordered commisioned as the first ship in the Virginia navy by Major General Robert E. Lee, Commander in Chief Military Forces of Virginia.
30 Flag Officer Pendergrast issued notice of the blockade of Virginia and North Carolina.
1 USS Commerce, Lieutenant Crosby, seized steam
tug Lioness off mouth of Patapsco
2 General Winfield Scott wrote to President Lincoln suggesting a cordon capable of enveloping the seceded states and noted that "the transportation of men and all supplies by water is about a fifth of the land cost. besides the immense saving of time." On the next day Scott elaborated further to General George McClellan: "We rely greatly on the sure operation of a complete blockade of the Atlantic and Gulf ports soon to commence. In connection with such blockade, we propose a powerful movement down the Mississippi to the ocean, with a cordon of posts at proper points . . . the object being to clear out and keep open this great line of communication in connection with the strict blockade of the seaboard, so as to envelop the insurgent States and bring them to terms with less bloodshed than by any other plan." The heart of the celebrated Anaconda Plan which would strangle the Confederacy on all sides was control of the sea and inland waterways by the Union Navy; the strategy of victory was (a) strengthen the blockade, (b) split the Confederacy along the line of the Mississippi River, and (c) support land operations by amphibious assault, gunfire. and transport.
3 President Lincoln called for "the enlistment, for not less than one nor more than three years, of 18,000 seamen, in addition to the resent force, for the naval service of the United States."
President Lincoln's blockade proclamation published in London newspapers.
Captain Du Pont wrote: "I am anxious for the blockade to get established-that will squeeze the South more than anything."
Commander Dahlgren, Commandant Washington Navy Yard, noted: "Besides the Yard, I have to hold the bridge next above, so some howitzers and a guard are there. It is from this direction that the rebels of the eastern shore may come. This Yard is of great importance, not only because of its furnishing the Navy so largely with various stores, but also as a position in the general defenses of the city.''
4 USS Cumberland, Flag Officer Pendergrast, seized schooner Mary and Virginia with cargo of coal, and reported the capture of schooner Theresa C., running the blockade off Fort Monroe, Virginia, with cotton on board.
Steamship Star of the West commissioned as Receiving Ship of Confederate Navy at New Orleans.
5 USS Valley City, Acting Master John A. J. Brooks, captured schooner J. O'Neil near Pamlico River, North Carolina, after schooner was run aground by her crew.
6 Confederate Congress passed act recognizing state of war with the United States and authorized the issuing of Letters of Marque to private vessels. President Davis issued instructions to private armed vessels, in which he defined operational limits, directed "strictest regard to the rights of neutral powers." ordered privateers to proceed "With all ... justice and humanity" toward Union vessels and crews, out-lined procedure for bringing in a prize, directed that all property on board neutral ships be exempt from seizure "unless it be contraband," and defined contraband.
7 Union blockading force captured Confederate steamers Dick Keyes and Lewis near Mobile.
USS Yankee, Lieutenant Thomas O. Selfridge, fired on by Confederate batteries at Gloucester Point, Virginia.
8 Secretary of the Navy Welles informed Gustavus Fox: "You are appointed Chief Clerk of the Navy Department, and I shall be glad to have you enter upon the duties as soon as you conveniently can."
9 USS Constitution Lieutenant G. W. Rodgers, and U.S. steamer Baltic Lieutenant C.R.P. Rodgers, arrived at Newport, Rhode Island, with officers and midshipmen from the U.S. Naval Academy. The Naval Academy remained there for the duration of the war.
Confederate Secretary of the Navy Mallory, ordered Commander James D. Bulloch, CSN, to England to purchase ships, guns, and ammunition. In his instructions he said: ". . . provide as one of the conditions of payment for the delivery of the vessels under the British flag at one of our Southern ports, and, secondly, that the bonds of the Confederacy be taken in whole or in part payment. The class of vessel desired for immediate use is that which offers the greatest chances of success against the enemy's commerce . . . as side-wheel steamers can not be made general cruisers, and as from the enemy's force before our forts, our ships must be enabled to keep the sea, and to make extended cruises, propellers fast under both steam and canvas suggest themselves to us with special favor. Large ships are unnecessary for this service; our policy demands that they shall be no larger than may be sufficient to combine the requisite speed and power, a battery of one or two heavy pivot guns and two or more broadside guns, being sufficient against commerce. By getting small ships we can afford a greater number, an important consideration. The character of the coasts and harbors indicate attention to the draft of water of our vessels. Speed in a propeller and the protection of her machinery can not be obtained upon a, very light draft, but they should draw as little water as may be compatible with their efficiency otherwise."
10 Blockade of Charleston initiated by USS Niagara, Captain William W. McKean.
Confederate Secretary of the Navy Mallory farsightedly wrote the Committee on Naval Affairs of Congress regarding proposals for new warships: "I regard the possession of an iron-armored ship as a matter of the first necessity. Such a vessel at this time could traverse the entire coast of the United States, prevent all blockades, and encounter, with a fair prospect of success, their entire Navy. If to cope with them upon the sea we follow their example and build wooden ships, we shall have to construct several at one time; for one or two ships would fall an easy prey to their comparatively numerous steam frigates. But inequality of numbers may be compensated by invulnerability; and thus not only does economy but naval success dictate the wisdom and expediency of fighting with iron against wood, without regard to first cost. Naval engagements between wooden frigates, as they are now built and armed, will prove to be the forlorn hopes of the sea, simply contests in which the question, not of victory, but of who shall go to the bottom first, is to be solved."
Secret Act of Confederate Congress, signed by President Davis, authorized "the Navy Department to send an agent abroad to purchase six steam propellers, in addition to those heretofore authorized, together with rifled cannon, small arms, and other ordnance stores and munitions of war," and appropriated a million dollars for the purpose.
11 USS Pawnee, Commander Rowan, ordered by Commander Dahlgren to proceed from Washington Navy Yard to Alexandria, Virginia, to protect vessels in the vicinity from attack by Confederate forces.
12 USS Niagara, Captain McKean, captured blockade runner General Parkhill, en route Liverpool to Charleston.
13 Queen Victoria proclaimed British neutrality and forbade British subjects to endeavor to break a blockade "lawfully and effectually established."
14 USS Minnesota, Flag Officer Silas H. Stringham, captured schooners Mary Willis, Delaware Farmer, and Emily Ann at Hampton Roads laden with tobacco for Baltimore. Argo, bound for Bremen from Richmond, captured on same date.
15 Secretary of the Navy Welles appointed Lieutenant Thomas M. Brasher to command USS Bainbridge and ordered him to proceed to Aspinwall, New Granada (Panama), to protect California steamers against "vessels sailing under pretended letters of marque issued by the insurrectionary States." California steamers transported large quantities of gold from Aspinwall to New York. Confederate ships were constantly on the alert for these vessels as the blockade tightened and the need for specie became increasingly desperate.
16 Commander John Rodgers ordered to report to the War Department to establish naval forces on the western rivers under the command of General John C. Fremont. The importance of controlling the Mississippi and its tributaries which pierced the interior in every direction was recognized immediately by the U.S. Government. This control was not only militarily strategic but was a vital factor in keeping the northwestern states in the Union. Under Rodgers, three river steamers were purchased at Cincinnati. Rodgers, overcoming no little difficulty in obtaining and training crews, getting guns and other equipment, converted the steamers to gunboats Tyler, Lexington, and Conestoga. These three gunboats, as stated by Alfred Thayer Mahan, were of inestimable service in keeping alive the attachment to the Union where it existed."
Brutus de Villeroi sails his
submarine down the
17 USS Minnesota, Flag Officer Stringham, captured bark Star en route Richmond to Bremen.
18 Confederate schooner Savannah, Captain Thomas H. Baker, was commissioned by President Davis as "a private armed vessel in the service of the Confederate States on the high seas against the United States of America, their ships, vessels, goods, and effects, and those of their citizens during the pendency of the war now existing between the said Confederate States and the said United States."
Commander Dahlgren suggested a plan for the erection of batteries on commanding points along the Potomac, and "the placing of vessels of some force at two or three intervals from the kettle bottoms to the Yard [Washington] near suspected positions, with communications kept up by some fast and light steamers.
19 USS Monticello, Captain Henry Eagle, and USS Thomas Freeborn, Commander Ward, engaged Confederate battery at Sewell's Point, Virginia.
CSS Lady Davis. Lieutenant Thomas P. Pelot, captured American ship A. B. Thompson off Charleston.
20 USS Crusader, Lieutenant T. A. Craven. captured Neptune near Fort Taylor, Florida.
21 USS Constellation, the oldest United States' warship afloat, Captain John S. Nicholas, captured slave brig Triton at mouth of the Congo River, Africa.
USS Pocahontas, Commander John P. Gillis, seized steamboat James Guy off Machodoc Creek, Virginia.
The Confederate government guaranteed right of patent for any invention beneficial to the war effort, reserving for the government the right to use it, and provided that, in addition to bounties otherwise provided, the government "will pay to any private armed vessel commissioned under said act 20 per centum on the value of each and every vessel of war belonging to the enemy that may be sunk or destroyed."
John A. Stevenson of New Orleans discussed with Secretary of the Navy Mallory a "plan by which the enemy's blockading navy might be driven from our coasts," and wrote President Davis, "We have no time, place, or means, to build an effective navy. Our ports are, or soon will be, all blockaded. On land we do not fear Lincoln, but what shall we do to cripple him at sea? In this emergency, and seeing that he is arming many poorly adapted vessels, I have two months past been entirely engaged in perfecting plans by which I could so alter and adapt some of our heavy and powerful tow-boats on the Mississippi as to make them comparatively safe against the heaviest guns afloat, and by preparing their bow in a peculiar manner, as my plans and model will show, render them capable of sinking by collision the heaviest vessels ever built - .
23 USS Mississippi. Flag Officer William Mervine, was compelled to put back into Boston for repairs because of sabotage damage to her condensers.
24 Commander Rowan, commanding USS Pawnee, demanded surrender of Alexandria, Virginia; amphibious expedition departed Washington Navy Yard, after embarking secretly at night under Commander Dahlgren's supervision, and occupied Alexandria. Admiral D. D. Porter later noted of this event: "The first landing of Northern troops upon the Virginia shores was under cover of these improvised gunboats [USS Thomas Freeborn, Anacostia, and Resolute at Alexandria . . . Alexandria was evacuated by the Confederates upon demand of a naval officer-Commander S. C. Rowan . . . and . . the American flag was hoisted on the Custom House and other prominent places by the officer in charge of a landing party of sailors-Lieutenant R. B. Lowry. This . . . gave indication of the feelings of the Navy, and how ready was the service to put down secession on the first opportunity offered."
Confederate States Marshal at New Orleans seized all ships from Northern states which had arrived after 6 May 1861.
25 Commander Dahlgren, Commandant Washington Navy Yard, reported capture of streamer Thomas Colyer by USS Pawnee, Commander Rowan, at Alexandria.
USS Minnesota, Flag Officer Stringham, seized bark Winfred near Hampton Roads.
26 USS Brooklyn, Commander Charles H. Poor, set blockade of New Orleans and mouth of Mississippi River.
USS Powhatan, Lieutenant D. D. Porter, set blockade at Mobile.
2 USS Union. Commander John R. Goldsborough, initiated blockade of Savannah.
29 Confederate privateer J. C. Calhoun captured American brig Panama, which she took to New Orleans with two earlier prizes. American schooners Mermaid and John Adams.
USS Powhatan, Lieutenant D. D. Porter, captured schooner Mary Clinton attempting to run the blockade near Southwest Pass, Mississippi River.
29-1 June Potomac Flotilla, consisting of USS Thomas Freeborn, Commander Ward. USS Anacostia, Lieutenant Napoleon Collins, and USS Resolute, Acting Master William Budd, engaged Confederate batteries at Aquia Creek, Virginia. Flotilla joined by USS Pawnee, Commander Rowan, evening of 31 May.
30 USS Merrimack, scuttled and burned at Norfolk Navy Yard, raised by Confederates.
USS Quaker City, Acting Master S. W. Mather, seized schooner Lynchburg, on route Richmond with cargo of coffee.
Captain Samuel F. Du Pont,
Commandant Philadelphia Navy Yard, orders an examination of de Villeroi’s
31 USS Perry, Lieutenant Enoch G. Parrott, captured Confederate blockade runner Hannah M. Johnson.
1 USS Union, Commander J. R. Goldsborough.
captured Confederate schooner F. W. Johnson with cargo of railroad iron
off the coast of North Carolina.
Captain Du Pont wrote: "I do not like the tone of things in England Lord Derby and Granville, etc., talk of two thousand miles of coast to be blockaded! They seem to forget so far as their rights and international interests are concerned we have only to blockade the ports of entry- from the Chesapeake to Galveston- any venture into any other harbors or inlets of any kind is liable to capture as a smuggler. It is the intention of the Government, I presume, to connect the shore between blockaded ports by light draft cruisers to prevent the ingress of arms and contraband, and the egress of privateers- but that is our business as a war measure- an effective blockade means the covering of the ports of entry- and this will be easily done in my judgment.
3 Confederate privateer Savannah Captain Baker, captured American brig Joseph with cargo of sugar; Savannah was then captured by USS Perry, Lieutenant Parrott.
5 Revenue Cutter Harriett Lane, Captain Faunce, USRM, engaged Confederate battery at Pig Point, Hampton Roads.
USS. Niagara. Captain MeKean, captured schooner Aid at Mobile.
Flag Officer Pendergrast reported the capture of bark General Green by USS Quaker City, Commander Overton Carr, at the Capes of the Chesapeake.
8 USS Mississippi, Flag Officer Mervine, set blockade at Key West.
USS Resolute, Acting Master W. Budd, having captured schooner Somerset at Breton's Bay, towed her close to the Virginia shore and burned her.
9 USS Massachusetts, Commander Melancton Smith, captured British blockade runner Perthshire with cargo of cotton near Pensacola.
10 USS Union, Commander J.R. Goldsborough, captured brig Hallie Jackson off Savannah with cargo of molasses.
Lieutenant John Mercer Brooke, CSN. ordered to design ironclad CSS Virginia (ex-USS Merrimack).
13 USS Mississippi, Flag Officer Mervine, captured schooner Forest King, at Key West.
14 American schooner Christiana Ken, grounded and was burned by Confederates near Upper Machodoc Creek, Virginia.
Is Major General Robert F. Lee wrote Virginia Governor John Fletcher regarding preparations for the defense of the state: "The frigate United States has been prepared for a school ship, provided with a deck battery of nineteen guns, 32-pounders and 9-inch Columbiads, for harbor defense. The frigate Merrimack has been raised and is in for the dry dock, and arrangements are made for raising the Germantown and Plymouth.'' Lee, showing his understanding of the serious threat posed by Union naval operations on the rivers, reported that: "Six batteries have been erected on the Elizabeth River, to guard the approaches to Norfolk and the Navy Yard... prevent ascent of the Nansemond River and the occupation of the railroad from Norfolk to Richmond, three batteries have been constructed ... Sites for batteries on the Potomac have also been selected, and arrangements were in progress for their construction, but the entire command of that river being in the possession of the U.S. Government, a larger force is required for their security than could be devoted to that purpose. The batteries at Aquia Creek have only been prepared . . . On the Rappahannock River a 4-gun battery ... has been erected."
17 USS Massachusetts, Commander M. Smith, captured schooner Achilles near Ship Island, Mississippi.
18 USS Union, Commander J. R. Goldsborough, captured Confederate blockade runner Amelia at Charleston with cargo of contraband from Liverpool.
Major General Robert E. Lee wrote Lieutenant Robert Randolph Carter, CSN, commander of CSS Teaser: 'It is desired that the C.S. steam tender Teaser shall unite with the batteries at Jamestown Island in defense of James River, and be employed in obtaining intelligence of the movements of hostile vessels and the landing of troops either side of the river. It is suggested that you establish a system of signals as a means of communication with the troops, and take every precaution not to jeopardize the safety of your boat by proceeding too far beyond the protection of the guns of the batteries.
19 USS Massachusetts, Commander M. Smith, captured blockade running brig Nahum Stetson off Pass a l'Outre, Louisiana.
23 Confederate Navy began reconstruction of ex- USS Merrimack as ironclad CSS Virginia at Norfolk.
USS Massachusetts, Commander M. Smith, captured Mexican schooner Brilliant, with cargo of flour, and Confederate schooners Trois Freres, Olive Branch, Fanny, and Basile in the Gulf of Mexico.
24 USS Pawnee, Commander Rowan, and USS Thomas Freeborn, Commander Ward, shelled Confederate batteries at Mathias Point, Virginia.
25 Secretary of the Navy Welles received a report that "the rebels in New Orleans are constructing an infernal submarine vessel to destroy the Brooklyn, or any vessel blockading the mouth of the Mississippi... a projectile with a sharp iron or steel pointed prow to perforate the bottom of the vessel and then explode." It was also reported that "a formidable floating battery [is] being built at Mobile, to be mounted with large guns of immense size and range to drive away or capture the ships, by engaging them at long range.
U.S. Navy receives reports of
26 USS Minnesota, Flag Officer Stringham, captured bark Sally Magee off Hampton Roads.
27 Blockade Strategy Board met under the chairmanship of Captain Du Pont and included as members Commander Charles H. Davis, USN. Major John G. Barnard, USA Corps of Engineers, and Professor Alexander D. Bache, Superintendent U.S. Coast Survey, to consider and report on the major problems of the blockade and to plan amphibious operations to seize vital bases on the Southern coast. Recommendations made by the Blockade Strategy Board, an early example of a "Joint Staff," had a profound effect on the course of the conflict and pointed the way to the successful naval actions at Hatteras Inlet, Port Royal, and New Orleans. The broad policies the Board early set forth were essentially followed to their culmination at Appomattox.
USS Resolute, Acting Master W. Budd, burned a Confederate supply depot on Virginia shore of the Potomac River.
USS Thomas Freeborn, Commander Ward, USS Reliance. Acting Lieutenant Jared P. K. Mygatt, with two boats under Lieutenant James C. Chaplin, from USS Pawnee, Commander Rowan, attacked Confederate forces at Mathias Point, Virginia. Commander Ward was killed in the action. Naval actions at Mathias Point, Aquia Creek, and elsewhere caused Admiral D.D. Porter to observe of these early operations on the Potomac and Chesapeake: "... the country was too busy watching the black clouds gathering in the South and West to note the ordinary events that were taking place on the Potomac, yet they formed the small links in the chain, which in the end, shackled the arms of the great rebellion.''
28 Confederate privateer Jefferson Davis, formerly slaver Echo, Captain Louis M. Coxetter, sailed from Charleston, later made numerous captures of Union ships along the coast, and caused much consternation on the Eastern seaboard.
Captain Du Pont, Chairman of the Blockade Strategy Board, wrote: "The order we received . . . set forth . . . the selection of two ports, one in South Carolina, another in the confines of Georgia and Florida, for coal depots . . . it seems impossible to supply the blockading fleet with coal without these depots."
28-29 Side-wheel steamer St. Nicholas, making scheduled run between Baltimore and Georgetown, D.C., was captured by Confederates who had boarded her posing as passengers at the steamer's various stopping points on the Potomac River. Confederates were led by Captain George N. Hollins, CSN, who took command of St. Nicholas, and Colonel Richard Thomas, CSA, who boarded disguised as a woman. St. Nicholas then began search for USS Pawnee, but, not finding her, put out into the Chesapeake Bay, where she seized schooners Margaret and Mary Pierce and brig Monticello the following day, 29 June.
30 CSS Sumter, Commander Semmes, ran the blockade at the mouth of Mississippi River and escaped to sea through Pass a I'Outre, eluding USS Brooklyn, whereupon the crew "gave three hearty cheers for the flag of the Confederate States, thus ... thrown to the breeze on the high seas by a ship of war, launching Semmes' famous career as a commerce raider.
USS Reliance, Lieutenant Mygatt, seized and destroyed sloop Passenger in the Potomac River.
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