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
- February - March - April -
May - June
1 USS Yankee,
Lieutenant Eastman, and USS Anacostia,
Lieutenant Oscar C. Badger, exchanged fire with Confederate batteries at Cockpit
Point, Potomac River; Yankee was
damaged slightly. Attacks by ships of the Potomac Flotilla were instrumental in
forcing the withdrawal of strong Confederate emplacements along the river.
Batteries at Cockpit and Shipping Point were abandoned by 9 March 1862.
Flag Officer Foote reported to Secretary of the Navy Welles that he was sending USS
Lexington, Lieutenant Shirk, to join USS
Conestoga, Lieutenant S. L. Phelps,
which had been rendering valuable service in her river cruising ground,
protecting "Union people" on the borders of the Ohio River and its
tributaries; indeed, the control of the rivers advanced Union frontiers deep
into territory sympathetic to the South. Foote added: "I am using all
possible dispatch in getting all the gunboats ready for service. There is great
demand for them in different places in the western rivers.''
Confederate Commissioners Mason and
, where they boarded H.M.S. Rinaldo.
2 Flag Officer L. M. Goldsborough ordered USS Louisiana,
Lockwood, I. N. Seymour, Shawsheen,
and Whitehall (forced to return to Newport News because of engine trouble) to
Hatteras Inlet, "using a sound discretion in time of departing."
Goldsborough wrote Secretary of the Navy Welles the next day: "When they
arrive there, twelve of this squadron will have been assembled in that quarter.
With the rest we are driving on as fast as possible." Since early December
extensive preparations for the joint attack on Roanoke Island- the key to
Albemarle Sound-had been underway in a move not only to seal off the North
Carolina coast, but also to back up General McClellan's Peninsular Campaign by
threatening Confederate communications.
Flag Officer Foote wrote Secretary of the Navy Welles: "I hope to be able
to send 60 men on board of each gunboat within the week. We are waiting for the
1,000 men to fill up our complement . . . The carpenters and engineers are
behindhand in their work." Eads' completion of the gunboats had been much
delayed beyond his contract time. This placed a great strain upon the wooden
gunboats, whose daily service in the rivers was demonstrated by General Grant's
typical communication with Foote: "Will you please direct a gunboat to drop
down the river . . . to protect a steamer I am sending down to bring up produce
for some loyal citizens of
Steamer Ella Warley evaded USS Mohican,
Commander Godon, in a heavy fog and ran the blockade into
5 Flag Officer L. M. Goldsborough, replying to a telegram from Brigadier General
Ambrose E. Burnside, the Army commander for the Roanoke Island expedition, wrote
that "the sooner you start your first brigade [for Hatteras Inlet] the
better, and so, too, with all vessels you have which are to be towed or which
require choice weather in order to arrive safely." President Lincoln was
reported as "anxious to hear of the departure of the expedition."
A letter sent to the Confederate
Army examiner of the defenses of
complains that “someone” had boarded and sunk in the
an operational submarine several days earlier. Submarine possibly built by
6 One of Flag Officer Foote's primary problems was the manning of the new
ironclad gunboats, which were becoming available behind contract date at
. The Navy Department sent a draft of 500 seamen; the rest had to be recruited
or detailed from the Army. That the Army was reluctant to give up its best men
for service afloat was demonstrated by Grant's letter to Major General Halleck,
in which he wrote that he had a number of offenders in the guardhouse and
suggested, "In view of the difficulties of getting men for the gunboat
service, that these men be transferred to that service. . ."
7 Lieutenant S. L. Phelps, USS Conestoga,
on an expedition up the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers gained valuable
intelligence about Confederate activity at Forts Henry and Donelson. ''The
rebels," he reported to Flag Officer Foote, "are industriously
perfecting their means of defense both at
. At Fort Donelson (near Dover) they have placed obstructions in the river, 12
miles below their battery, on the left bank and in the bend where the battery
comes in sight . . . The fire of gunboats here [at Fort Donelson] would be at a
bad angle . . . The forts are placed, especially on the Cumberland, where no
great range can be had, and they can only be attacked in one narrow and fixed
line . . . It is too late now to move against the works on either river, except
with a well- appointed and powerful naval force." As early as mid-December
1861, Phelps had reconnoitered the
and warned of the immense difficulties involved in a naval assault on
, the strategically located Confederate stronghold. "None of the works can
be seen," he observed, "till approached to within easy range."
The difficult assault on
five weeks later gave truth to Phelps' careful observation. Meanwhile, Flag
Officer Foote reconnoitered down the
, and Essex, the latter one of the
first two ironclads ready. Pursuing a Confederate gunboat, Foote proceeded
within range of the batteries at
and found "one of the submarine batteries." But learning that the
river was generally clear of these, he was able to report that "my object
was fully attained."
General McClellan's orders to Brigadier General Burnside illustrated the Army's
reliance on strength afloat: ". . . you will," he wrote, "after
uniting with Flag- Officer Goldsborough at Fort Monroe, proceed under his convoy
to Hatteras Inlet . . . [the] first point of attack will be Roanoke Island and
its dependencies. It is presumed that the Navy can reduce the batteries ... and
cover the landing of your troops . . . ' McClellan also detailed the Army's
follow-up operations in conjunction with the gunboats at
, and Beaufort.
8 General Robert E. Lee, confounded by
the strength and mobility of the Union Navy, observed. "Wherever his fleet
can be brought no opposition to his landing can be made except within range of
our fixed batteries. We have nothing to oppose to its heavy guns, which sweep
over the low banks of this country with irresistible force. The farther he can
be withdrawn from his floating batteries the weaker he will become, and lines of
defense, covering objects of attack, have been selected with this view.''
9 Orders from the Navy Department appointed Flag Officer Farragut to command
Western Gulf Blockading Squadron, flagship USS Hartford,
. The bounds of the command extended from West Florida to the
, but a far larger purpose than even the important function of blockade lay
behind Farragut's appointment. Late in 1861 the administration had made a
decision that would have fateful results on the war. The full list of senior
officers in the Navy was reviewed for a commander for an enterprise of first
importance---the capture of New Orleans, the South's "richest and most
populous city," and the beginning of the drive of sea-based power up the
Father of Waters to meet General Grant, who would soon move south behind the
spearhead of the armored gunboats. On 21 December 1861, in
, Farragut had written his wife; ''Keep your lips closed, and burn my letters;
for perfect silence is to be observed- the first injunction of the Secretary. I
am to have a flag in the Gulf and the rest depends upon myself. Keep calm and
silent. I shall sail in three weeks.'' Meanwhile, the tight blockade was causing
grave concern in
. The Commercial Bulletin reported: ''The situation of this port makes it a
matter of vast moment to the whole Confederate State that it should be opened to
the commerce of the world within the least possible period ... We believe the
blockading vessels of the enemy might have been driven away and kept away months
ago, if the requisite energy had been put forth . . . The blockade has remained
and the great port of New Orleans has been hermetically sealed. . ."
10 Concern continued to grow in the Union fleet as to what preparations should
be taken to meet the unfinished ex-Merrimack.
As early as 12 October 1861, Flag Officer L. M. Goldsborough had written
Secretary of the Navy Welles: " . . . I am now quite satisfied that. . .
she will, in all probability, prove to be exceedingly formidable . . . Nothing,
I think, but very close work can possibly be of service in accomplishing the
destruction of the Merrimack, and even
of that a great deal may be necessary." Goldsborough ordered tugs Dragon
and Zouave to remain constantly in company with USS
Congress and Cumberland, "so as to tow them into an advantageous position
in case of an attack from the Merrimack
or any other quarter.'' However, at this date two months before the historic
engagements in Hampton Roads-Union naval commanders were seeking a defense
against the powerful Confederate ironclad. Commander William Smith, captain of
the ill-fated Congress, had said earlier, ''I have not yet devised any plan to
defend us against the
, unless," he added, "it be with hard knocks."
Flag Officer Foote's gunboats convoyed General Grant's troops as diversionary
moves were begun a short distance down the
and later up the
to prevent a Confederate build-up of strength at
Brigadier General John C. Pemberton, CSA, reported on the effectiveness of the
Union gunboats at Port Royal Ferry and on the
(see last entry, 31 December-1 January 1861): Although the enemy did not land
in force at Page's Point or Cunningham's Bluff, it was entirely practicable for
him to have done so under cover of his gunboats. . . .At no time during his
occupation of the river bank did he leave their [the gunboats'] protection, and,
finally, when withdrawing to the island, did so under a fire from his vessels
almost as heavy as that under which he had landed . . . by far the larger
proportion of the [Confederate] casualties being from the shells of the fleet.''
11 USS Essex,
Commander W. D. Porter, and USS
St. Louis, Lieutenant Leonard
Paulding, engaged Confederate gunboats in a running fight in the
, near Lucas Bend, Missouri. The Confederates withdrew under the protecting
Responding to inquiries from the Navy Department on the mortar boats, Flag
Officer Foote wrote: ''I am aware that an officer of great resources can
overcome almost insuperable difficulties.'' Foote had the enormous problem of
being thrown into a region without naval bases or the usual resources of the
seacoast. In his own words, the western rivers area was '' this wilderness of
Having sent similar orders the previous day to USS
Henry Brinker, Flag Officer L. M. Goldsborough ordered USS
Hunchback, Morse, Southfield,
Commodore Barney, Commodore
Perry, and schooner Howard to
Hatteras Inlet as the build up of forces in the area for the assault on Roanoke
12 Union amphibious expedition to Roanoke Island, North Carolina, departed Fort
Monroe under Flag Officer L. M. Goldsborough and General Burnside. Seizure of
Hatteras Inlet by the Navy the previous August allowed Federal control of
Pamlico Sound, but heavily fortified
dominated the narrow connection between Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds, the
latter of which Confederates used for active blockade running. Capture of
strategic Roanoke Island, which one Confederate general termed ''that post which
I regard as the very key of the rear defenses of Norfolk and the navy
yard," would give the Union control of Albemarle Sound and the waters
penetrating deeply into North Carolina, over which passed important railroad
bridges south of Norfolk.
Captain Henry W. Morris, successfully ran down the
past the Confederate batteries at Cockpit and Shipping Points.
reached Hampton Roads on 13 January, demonstrating that the restriction of
travel on the river, imposed by the Confederate batteries, was being steadily
13 Lieutenant Worden ordered to command USS
Monitor. Three days later Worden wrote Secretary of the Navy Welles from
: ". . . I have this day reported for duty for the command of the U.S.
Steamer building by Captain Ericsson." Within two months, Monitor, Worden,
and Ericsson were to have their names written indelibly in the annals of naval
Flag Officer Foote ordered three gunboats up the
and two up the
15 Flag Officer Foote advised Lieutenant Paulding of USS
St. Louis, "I must enjoin you to
save your ammunition. No gun must be fired without your order . . . You will be
particular in noting the range of the first shot, its height and distance. I was
surprised yesterday, at Columbus, to see three or four of your shells bursting
at such an elevation . . . I am aware of your difficulties in a new and
undisciplined crew and officers, hut make these criticisms rather as indicative
of correcting things in the future. Save your ammunition and let the first gun
show you how to aim for the second." Foote was constantly beset with the
problem of having too much to do with too little material, even to the point of
being unable to train adequately his crews in gunnery. That he met these
difficulties successfully, however, was demonstrated in the'
's steady sweep down the western rivers.
Major General Mansfield Lovell, CSA, at the request of Confederate Secretary of
War Benjamin, with the assistance of Lieutenant Thomas B. Huger, CSN, took over
14 steamers at New Orleans to be armed and used to bolster defenses in the area.
The plan which came from the War Department was to outfit the steamships with
iron rams to attack the Union river gunboats. Secretary of War Benjamin wrote:
Each Captain will ship his own crew, fit up his own vessel, and get ready within
the shortest possible delay. It is not proposed to rely on cannons, which these
men are not skilled in using, nor on firearms. The men will be armed with
cutlasses. On each boat, however, there will be one heavy gun, to be used in
case the stern of any of the [
] gunboats should be exposed to lire, for they are entirely unprotected behind,
and if attempting to escape by flight would be very vulnerable by shot from a
16 Gunfire and boat crews, including Marine, from USS
Hatteras, Commander Emmons, destroyed
a Confederate battery, seven small vessels loaded with cotton and turpentine
ready to run the blockade, a railroad depot and wharf, and the telegraph office
at Cedar Keys,
. A small detachment of Confederate troops was taken prisoner. Such unceasing
attack from the sea on any point of her long coastline and inland waterways cost
the South sorely in losses, economic disruption, and dispersion of strength in
Flag Officer Foote reported: The seven gunboats built by contract were put in
commission today." The Eads gunboats augmented Foote's wooden force and
would turn the tide in the
's effort to split the Confederacy.
Commander Prentiss, destroyed British blockade runner York near
had been run aground.
17 USS Conestoga,
Lieutenant S. L. Phelps, and USS Lexington,
Lieutenant Shirk, reconnoitered the Tennessee River below Fort
Henry, attempting to determine the location of a reported "masked
battery" at the foot of Panther Creek Island. Having become convinced that
the battery had been removed, Phelps fired "a few shells" at the fort,
hot the range was too great for his guns to reach. ". . . our
batteries," reported General Albert S. Johnston, CSA, "though ready,
did not reply.'' As early as October 1861, the Navy had initiated a careful
examination of the Confederate works in the area in preparation for the
projected Army-Navy assault on
. Lieutenant Phelps reported the results of a 5 October reconnaissance: ''J
examined the fort [Henry] carefully at a distance of from 2 to 21/2 miles . . .
The fortification is quite an extensive work and armed with heavy guns, mounted
en barbette, and garrisoned by a considerable force. It is situated about 11/2
miles above the head of Panther Creek Island . . . There is no channel upon one
side of the island, and a narrow and somewhat crooked one upon the other, which
continues so till within a mile of the fort, where the water becomes of a good
depth from bank to bank, some 600 yards." Detailed knowledge and careful
preparations in large measure provided for the ultimate success of the February
offensive operations against both Forts Henry and Donelson with the objective of
driving the Confederates out of
where they held a line across the southern part of the state.
General Robert E. Lee's orders to Brigadier General James H. Trapier, commanding
, illustrated the growing impact of the Union blockade: "Arrangements have
been made for running into Mosquito Inlet, on the east coast of
, arms and ammunition, by mans of small fast steamers. The department considers
it necessary that at least two moderate sized guns he placed at New Smyrna, to
protect the landing in the event of our steamers being chased by the enemy's
gunboats. . . . The cargoes of the steamers are so valuable and vitally
important, that no precaution should be omitted."
Commander Woodhull, captured blockade running British schooner Emma
18 USS Midnight,
Lieutenant James Trathen, and USS Rachel
Seaman, Acting Master Quincy A. Hooper, shelled
. Lieutenant Trathen reported that "One object had been gained in this
instance, making the enemy expend his ammunition." Colonel Joseph Bates,
commanding at Velasco, wrote: ''While the enemy remain on their vessels, with
their long-range guns, &c., they can annoy and harass us, but when they come
on land we will whip them certain."
Commander Semmes, captured and burned bark Neapolitan, with cargo of
fruit and sulphur, in the Straits of Gibraltar and captured and bonded bark Investigator
with cargo of iron.
USS Kearsarge was ordered to
, in an effort to track her down.
19 USS Itasca,
Lieutenant Charles H. B. Caldwell, captured schooner Lizzie Weston off
with cargo of cotton.
20 Secretary of the Navy Welles ordered the Gulf Blockading Squadron divided
into two squadrons upon the arrival of Farragut at
: Eastern Gulf Blockading Squadron, Flag Officer McKean, and Western Gulf
Blockading Squadron, Flag Officer Farragut. Farragut's area of responsibility
began on the
coast at the mouth of the
and extended over the Gulf to the west; McKean's jurisdiction covered the
and east coasts as far as Cape Canaveral and also included
Boarding party from USS R. R. Cuyler, Lieutenant F. Winslow, assisted by USS
Huntsville and two cutters from USS Potomac,
captured blockade running schooner. J.W. Wilder, grounded about 15 miles
Flag Officer L. M. Goldsborough, having arrived at Hatteras Inlet on 13 January,
ordered Commander Rowan to he certain that all officers in the squadron had
been instructed in the use of the Bormann fuze in the 9-inch shrapnel shells,
which were to he used in the attack on Roanoke Island. Careful planning and
training were essential elements of victory at
Bird, Flag Officer Lynch, with CSS
Raleigh in company, reconnoitered Hatteras Inlet and "there saw a large
fleet of steamers and transports. Lynch pointed out in a letter to Confederate
Secretary of the Navy Mallory the importance of the area which Roanoke Island
controlled: ''Here is the great thoroughfare from Albemarle Sound and its
tributaries, and if the enemy obtain lodgments or succeed in passing here he
will cut off a very rich country from Norfolk market."
21 Lieutenant S. L. Phelps, on the basis of his own reconnaissance missions and
intelligence reports reaching him, re-emphasized the advisability of using
mortar boats at Fort Donelson, noting that "the position of Fort Donelson
is favorable for the greatest effect of bombshells, both in and about it.
Effective mortar boats must prove the most destructive adversaries earth forts
can have to contend with." However, Flag Officer Foote, urged into early
action by the Army commanders, was unable to use mortar boats to "soften
up" the Confederate works at Donelson.
Allen, Acting Lieutenant William B. Eaton, captured schooner Olive Branch
bound from Cedar Keys,
with cargo of turpentine.
, Lieutenant Shirk, with Brigadier General Charles F. Smith on board, conducted
one of the frequent gunboat reconnaissances up the Tennessee River, and fired a
few long-range shots at
. The rising waters were making operations feasible as the new armored gunboats
were becoming available. Shirk reported: "The river is so full at present
(and is still rising) that whenever there is water there is a channel."
Lieutenant Worden reported the steady progress toward completion of USS
Monitor. Awaiting the 11-inch guns
which would make up the ironclad's battery, Worden noted that "It will take
four or five days to sight them after they arrive."
23 Flag Officer L. M. Goldsborough wrote from Hatteras Inlet that the 17 naval
vessels present (two others reported later) for the Roanoke Island expedition
were over the bar inside
. Bad weather and the shallow, tortuous channel, which Goldsborough termed
"this perplexing gut,'' delayed entry of the naval vessels into the Sound,
and presented extreme difficulties when attempting to get the heavily-laden
troop transports over the bar.
Flag Officer Foote sent another insistent plea for men to Secretary of the Navy
Welles, this time cutting his needs to the bone: "Can we have 600 men? Army
officers object to their men shipping. Boats, except the
, are in commission waiting for men.'' Twelve days later, Assistant Secretary of
the Navy Fox wired Foote: 'The Secretary of War today gave directions to detail
regiments those soldiers who have been seamen up to the number of 600. These
will be sent to you without arms or officers in detachments of 100, commencing
Schooner Samuel Rotan, tender to USS
Colorado, Captain Bailey, captured
steamer Calhoun in
River, with cargo of powder, coffee, and chemicals.
24 USS. Mercedita,
Commander Stellwagen, and other ships of the Gulf Blockading Squadron chased
aground schooner Julia and an unidentified bark attempting to run the blockade
at the mouth of the
; both were laden with cotton and were burned to prevent capture. A Union
went aground and was captured by Confederates.
25 Flag Officer French Forrest, CSN, commanding the Navy Yard at Norfolk, wrote
Major General Huger: ''I have just learned that one of the enemy's vessels has
been driven ashore with several hundred gallons of oil on board . . . We are
without oil for the Merrimack, and the
importance of supplying this deficiency is too obvious for me to urge anything
more in its support. As was true throughout the economy of the blockaded
Confederacy, lack of critical supplies delayed the construction of the ironclad
Secretary of the Navy Welles wrote Flag Officer Du Pont, commanding the South
Atlantic Blockading Squadron: "The importance of a rigorous blockade at
every point under your command can not be too strongly impressed or felt. By
cutting off all communication we not only distress and cripple the States in
insurrection, but by an effective blockade we destroy any excuse or pretext on
the part of foreign governments to aid and relieve those who are waging war upon
Acting Lieutenant John W. Kittredge, captured schooner J. J. McNeil off
26 The second "stone fleet" sunk in
harbor at Maffitt's Channel. The first "stone fleet" had been sunk in
the Main Channel on 20 December 1861.
26-29 Union squadron commanded by Captain Davis, comprising USS
and other vessels, with 2400 troops under Brigadier General Horatio G. Wright
conducted a strategic reconnaissance of
. Telegraph lines between
were severed. Five Confederate gunboats under Commodore Tattnall were engaged
while attempting to carry stores to
. Though the exchange of fire was sharp, three of Tattnall's steamers made good
their passage to the fort, the other two being unable to get through. In his
report of the reconnaissance operation, Captain Davis noted: ''As a
demonstration the appearance of the naval and military forces in
and Wassaw Sound has had complete success. Savannah was thrown into a state of
great alarm, and all the energies of the place have been exerted to the utmost
to increase its military defenses for which purpose troops have been withdrawn
from other places.'' On the Confederate side, General Robert E. Lee commented:
''If the enemy succeeds in removing the obstacles [in Wall's Cut and Wilmington
Narrows] there is nothing to prevent their reaching the Savannah River, and we
have nothing afloat that can contend against them."
28 Flag Officer Foote wrote Major General Halleck: ''General Grant and myself
are of the opinion that Fort Henry, on
the Tennessee River, can be carried with four gunboats and troops and be
permanently occupied.'' Halleck replied the next day that he was waiting only
for a report on the condition of the road from Smithland to the fort, and would
then give the order for the attack. Seeking to push forward, Foote hurried an
answer the same day, noting: ''Lieutenant Phelps has been with me [at Cairo] for
a day or two, and in consultation with General Grant we have come to the
conclusion that, as the Tennessee will soon fall, the movement up that river is
desirable early next week (Monday), or, in fact, as soon as possible.'' Flag
Officer Foote and General Grant worked closely and cooperated fully with each
other throughout the planning and preparations for the attack. Though inclement
weather was to prevent Grant and his troops from taking part in the action at
Fort Henry, the understandings and mutual respect formed here were to serve the
Union cause brilliantly in other joint operations on the western waters as well
as in General Grant's later campaigns in the east.
"On the 28th..."Flag Officer L. M. Goldsborough reported to Secretary
of the Navy Welles, "all the vessels composing the naval branch of our
combined expedition, intended by my arrangements to participate in the
reduction of Roanoke Island and operate elsewhere in its vicinity, were over the
bulkhead at Hatteras Inlet and in readiness for service, but . . . it was not
until the 5th [of February].... that those composing the army branch of it were
similarly situated.'' Goldsborough, however, used the time lapse to good
advantage: "During our detention at the inlet,'' he wrote, ''we resorted to
every means in our power to get accurate information of the enemy's position and
Captain John Marston wrote Secretary of the Navy Welles that ''as long as the Merrimack
is held as a rod over us, I would by no means recommend that she [USS
Congress ] should leave this place.''
Marston wrote in reply to a letter from the Secretary four days earlier in which
he had suggested that Congress should go to
. Varying rumors as to the readiness of
blockading forces in Hampton Roads in a constant state of vigilance.
Boat crews under Acting Master William L. Martine from USS
De Soto boarded and captured blockade
runner Major Barbour at
, with cargo including gunpowder, niter, sulphur, percUSSion
caps, and lead.
29 U.S. Storeship Supply, Commander
George M. Colvocoresses, captured schooner Stephen Hart south of
, with cargo of arms and munitions.
30 USS Monitor, the Union's first
sea-going ironclad vessel, launched at
. Assistant Secretary of the Navy Fox wired John Ericsson, referring to
Monitor's launching: ''I congratulate you and trust she will be a success. Hurry
her for sea, as the
is nearly ready at
, and we wish to send her here.''
Major General Halleck ordered the combined operation up the Tennessee, warned
General Grant that the road were quagmires, and directed that the movement of
troops, munitions, and supplies be convoyed by gunboats.
Lieutenant S. L. Phelps, and USS Lexington,
Lieutenant Shirk, reconnoitered the Tennessee River, making final preparations
for the attack on
. Phelps, who performed yeoman service on the western waters, reported: ''In the
right channel, and near the foot of the island, are numerous buoys, evidently
marking the location of some kind of explosive machine or obstruction; these I
think we can rake out with our boats.''
Acting Lieutenant Joseph P. Couthouy, captured blockade runner Teresita,
Confederate Commissioners Mason and
31 Lieutenant Henry A. Wise wrote Flag Officer Foote regarding a conversation
with President Lincoln on the western operations. The Commander in Chief was
interested in the mortars because he wanted Foote to have enough gunpower
"to rain the rebels out." Wise stated: "He is an evidently
practical man, understands precisely what he wants, and is not turned aside by
anyone when he has his work before him. He knows and appreciates your past and
present arduous services, and is firmly resolved to afford you every aid in the
work in hand. The additional smooth howitzers you asked for were ordered two
days ago." Meanwhile, Foote telegraphed the Bureau of Ordnance, requesting
powder and primers. He added: "I am apprehensive that the Army will not
permit the men, as the colonels and captains do not readily give their assent. I
am shipping men by 'runners at
and elsewhere.' I can move with four armed [armored] and three other gunboats
at any moment, and am only waiting for men (with the exception of the
) to be ready with all the gunboats." The Army could not he blamed, as
Foote well understood, for reluctance to weaken its units. They, too, had been
given jobs to do and had to present trained, effective units in the hour of
A British memorandum reaching the Confederacy, regarding the effectiveness of
the Union blockade and sinking of the stone fleet in Charleston harbor,
presented the views of various European nations: "About 10 days ago the
English foreign office submitted the two following questions to the maritime
powers of Europe: First. Is the sinking of the stone fleet. . an outrage on
civilization? Second. Is the blockade effective . . . Is it now binding? France
. . . pronounces the destruction of the harbor . . . 'vindictive vandalism' . .
. the blockade to be 'ineffective and illegal' . . . PrUSSia
winds up by declaring the sinking of the stone fleet to be a crime and outrage
on civilization . . . Sardinia agrees with France, but . . . in even stronger
Austria declares 'blockade altogether illegal' . . . Spain declares blockade . .
. 'altogether ineffective . . . On the other hand, Secretary of the Navy Welles
strongly maintained that the effectiveness of the blockade did ''destroy any
pretext on the part of foreign governments to aid the Confederacy."
1 Flag Officer Foote telegraphed
: "I leave early to-morrow with four armored gunboats on an expedition
cooperating with the Army. Senior officer will telegraph you during my absence.
Nothing new about the mortars. Twenty-nine men shipped from regiments yesterday
and three to-day."
Commander Swartwout, captured blockade running steamer Labuan at the mouth of the
with cargo of cotton.
Lieutenant Jouett, captured schooner Isabel
Gulf of Mexico
, Flag Officer Farragut, departed Hampton Roads for
, where Farragut took command of the Western Gulf Blockading Squadron
preparatory to the assault on
In his battle plan and orders to gunboats, Flag Officer Foote emphasized the
need for coolness and precision of fire: ''Let it be also distinctly impressed
upon the mind of every man firing a gun that, while the first shot may be either
of too much elevation or too little, there is no excuse for a second wild fire,
as the first will indicate the inaccuracy of the aim of the gun, which must be
elevated or depressed, or trained, as circumstances require. Let it be
reiterated that random firing is not only a mere waste of ammunition, but, what
is far worse, it encourages the enemy when he sees shot and shell falling
harmlessly about and beyond him . . . The Commander in Chief has every
confidence in the spirit and valor of officers and men under his command, and
his only solicitude arises lest the firing should be too rapid for precision,
and that coolness and order, so essential to complete success, should not be
observed, and hence he has in this general order expressed his views, which must
be observed by all under his command." He directed Lieutenant S. L. Phelps,
upon the surrender of Fort Henry, to proceed with ''Conestoga,
Tyler, and Lexington up
the river to where the railroad bridge crosses, and, if the army shall not
already have got possession, he will destroy so much of the track as will
entirely prevent its use by the rebels. He will then proceed as far up the river
as the stage of water will admit and capture the enemy's gunboats and other
vessels which might prove available to the enemy."
3 Having left his headquarters at Cairo on 2 February en route Fort
Henry, Flag Officer Foote ordered USS Essex
and St. Louis to proceed from Paducah to Pine Bluff, 65 miles up the Tennessee,
''for the purpose of protecting the landing of the troops on their arrival at
that point." The. Army commanders had recognized for some time that the
mobility and fire power of the gunboats were viral in support of land forces
operating along the rivers. Brigadier General C. F. Smith had well expressed
this earlier: "The Conestoga,
gunboat, admirably commanded by Lieutenant Phelps of the Navy, is my only
security in this quarter. He is constantly moving his vessel up and down the
." The same day, Foote wrote Secretary of the Navy Welles that he would
have had more ships to take against the fort but for want of men. "The
volunteers from the Army to go in the gunboats exceed the number of men
required, but the derangement of companies and regiments'' had permitted few to
transfer afloat. Major General Halleck wired Foote from
: ''General Grant is authorized to furnish men for temporary gunboat duty by
detail. Men will be sent from here as soon as collected. Arrange with General
Grant for temporary crews, so that there may be no delay." The following
day, Commander Kilty, left in charge of naval matters at
by Foote, advised Halleck that permanent details were needed, not temporary
ones. Grant advised Halleck: ''Will be off up the
at 6 o'clock. Command, 23 regiments in all." Grant's troops embarked in
; Foote's gunboats took the lead. Behind this spearhead and battering ram, the
dismemberment of the South began.
, Lieutenant Robert B. Pegram, departed
. H.M.S. Shannon stood by to enforce
the Admiralty ruling that USS Tuscarora could not leave the port for twenty-four hours after the
4 Brigadier General Lloyd Tilghman, gallant defender of
, informed General John B. Floyd: "Gunboats and transports in
. Enemy landing in force 5 miles below
." After initiating the debarkation of troops below
, Flag Officer Foote, in USS Cincinnati with
General Grant on board, took the four ironclad gunboats that he had been able to
man up the
for reconnoitering, and exchanged shots with the Confederate gunners.
Torpedoes, planted in the river but torn loose by the flooding waters, floated
by. Foote had some fished out for inspection. He and Grant went aft to watch the
disassembling of one. According to a reminiscence, suddenly there was a strange
hiss. The deck was rapidly cleared. Grant beat Foote to the top of the ladder.
When Foote asked the General about his hurry, Grant replied that ''the Army did
not believe in letting the Navy get ahead of it.''
5 USS Keystone
State, Commander William E. Le Roy, captured British blockade runner Mars
with cargo of salt off
6 Naval forces under Flag Officer Foote, comprising the partially ironclad
gunboats USS Essex, Carondelet,
Cincinnati, St. Louis and wooden gunboats USS Tyler,
Conestoga, and Lexington,
captured strategic Fort Henry on the
Tennessee River. Originally planned as a joint expedition under Flag Officer
Foote and General Grant, heavy rains the two days before the attack delayed the
troop movements, and the gunboats attacked alone. Accurate fire from the
gunboats pounded the fort and forced Brigadier General Tilghman, CSA, with all
but four of his defending guns useless, to strike his flag and surrender to
Foote. USS Essex,
Commander W. D. Porter, was disabled during the engagement. In continuing
operations the three days following the capitulation of Fort
Henry, USS Tyler,
Conestoga, and Lexington,
under Lieutenant S. L. Phelps, swept and one he deeply mourned.'' The evacuation
three months later, caused in part by the loss of
, was a far greater loss. The abandonment of the great industrial navy yard and
the destruction of CSS
were serious reverses that had far-reaching effect upon the Confederacy's
ability to resist at sea.
8 A Confederate gunner captured at Fort
Henry made the following statement attesting to the extreme effectiveness of
gunfire during the attack: ' The center boat, or the boat with the red stripes
around the top of her smokestacks, was the boat which caused the greatest
execution. It was one of her guns which threw a ball against the muzzle of one
of our guns, disabling it for the remainder of the contest. The Carondelet
(as I subsequently found her name to be) at each shot committed more damage than
any other boat. She was the object of our hatred, and many a gun from the fort
was leveled at her alone. To her I give more credit than any other boat in
capturing one of our strongest places." The success of Flag Officer Foote's
armored gunboats spread panic and exaggerated their capabilities in
Confederate as well as
minds. General Johnston wrote in a letter to the Confederate War Department:
''The slight resistance at
indicates that the best open earthworks are not reliable to meet successfully a
vigorous attack of ironclad gunboats." He concluded that
would also fall. This would open the way to
. ''The occurrence of the misfortune of losing the fort will cut off the
communication of the force here under General Hardee from the south bank of the
. To avoid the disastrous consequences of such an event, I ordered General
Hardee yesterday to make, as promptly as it could be done, preparations to fall
and cross the river. The movements of the enemy on my right flank would have
made a retrograde in that direction to confront the enemy indispensable in a
short time. But the probability of having the ferriage of this army corps across
intercepted by the gunboats of the enemy admits of no delay in making the
movement. Generals Beauregard and Hardee are, equally with myself, impressed
with the necessity of withdrawing our force from this line at once.''
Captain Buchanan ordered CSS Patrick
Henry, Commander Tucker, and CSS Jamestown,
Lieutenant Joseph N. Barney, to be kept in a constant state of readiness '' to
cooperate with the Merrimack when that
ship is ready for service.
Lieutenant S. L. Phelps, seized steamers Sallie
Wood and Muscle at Chickasaw,
. The Confederates destroyed three other vessels to prevent their capture,
bringing the total losses resulting from the fall of
10 Following the capture of Roanoke Island, a naval flotilla, including embarked
Marines, under Commander Rowan in USS Delaware,
pursuing Flag Officer Lynch's retiring Confederate naval force up the
, engaged the gunboats and batteries at Elizabeth City, North Carolina. CSS
Ellis was captured and CSS Seabird
was sunk; CSS Black
Warrior, Fanny, and Forrest were
set on fire to avoid capture; the fort and batteries at Cobb's Point were
destroyed. Of Commander Rowan's success, Admiral Daniel Ammen later wrote:
''Nothing more brilliant in naval 'dash' occurred during the entire Civil War
than appears in this attack.'' One
example of "dash" was called to Flag Officer L. N. Goldsborough's
attention by Commander Rowan. ''I would respectfully call your attention to one
incident of the engagement which reflects much credit upon a quarter gunner of
the Valley City and for which Congress
has provided rewards in the shape of medals. A shot passed through her magazine
and exploded in a locker beyond containing fireworks. The commander, Lieutenant
Commander Chaplain, went there to aid in suppressing the fire, where he found
John Davis, quarter gunner, seated with commendable coolness on an open barrel
of powder as the only means to keep the fire out.'' For demonstrating such
courage, ''while at the same time passing powder to provide the division on the
upper deck while under fierce enemy fire,''
was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor by General Order 11, 3 April 1863.
Flag Officer Foote, amidst repairing battle damages and working feverishly to
get other gunboats ready, received repeated requests from Major General Halleck
to ''send gunboats up the Cumberland. Two will answer if he can send no more.
They must precede the transports. I am straining every nerve to send troops to
. Troops are on their way. All we want is gunboats to precede the transports.''
Secretary of the Navy Welles forwarded to
the names of 22 sailing vessels and 7 steamers which would comprise the Mortar
Flotilla. This potent force, to which would be added USS
Owasco," as soon as she can be
got ready," conducted an intensive bombardment of Forts Jackson and St.
Philip, preparatory to Flag Officer Farragut's drive past these heavy works to
General Robert E. Lee wrote Confederate Secretary of War Benjamin: 'From the
reports of General Mercer as to the inability of the batteries of Saint Simon's
and Jekyl Islands to withstand the attack of the enemy' s fleet, the isolated
condition of those islands, and the impossibility of reenforcing him with guns
or men, I have given him authority, should he retain that opinion upon a calm
review of the whole subject, to act according to his discretion; and, if deemed
advisable by him, to withdraw to the mainland and take there a defensible
position for the protection of the country
Captain Buchanan reported that Merrimack
had not yet received her crew, "not withstanding all my efforts to procure
them from the Army.'' Shortage of trained seamen restricted the Confederacy's
efforts to build naval strength.
11 Flag Officer Foote, foreseeing the realities of the situation into which he
was being pulled by the tide of events, wrote Secretary of the Navy Welles: ''I
leave [Cairo again to-night with the Louisville,
Pittsburg, and St. Louis for the
Cumberland River, to cooperate with the army in the attack on Fort Donelson.
I shall do all in my power to render the gunboats effective in the fight,
although they are not properly manned. If we could wait ten days, and I had men,
I would go with eight mortar boats and six armored boats and conquer.'' Despite
the serious difficulties they faced, Foote and his gunboat fleet made what
General Grant was to term admiringly ''a gallant attack.''
13-15 USS Pembina,
Lieutenant John P. Bankhead, discovered a battery of ''tin-can'' torpedoes
(mines) while engaged in sounding
above the mouth of Wright's River. The mines, only visible at low tide, were
connected by wires and moored individually to the bottom. The following day,
Bankhead returned and effected the removal of one of the '' infernal machines''
for purposes of examination. On the 15th Bankhead ''deemed it more prudent to
endeavor to sink the remaining ones than to attempt to remove them,'' and sank
the mines by rifle fire. Torpedoes were planted in large numbers in the
harbors and rivers of the Confederacy, constituting a major hazard which Union
commanders had to consider and reckon with in planning operations.
14 Gunboats USS St.
, Tyler, and Conestoga under Flag Officer Foote joined with General Grant in
. Donelson, on high ground, could subject the gunboats to a plunging fire and
was a more difficult objective than
. Foote did not consider the gunboats properly prepared for the assault on
Donelson so soon after the heavy action at
; nevertheless, at the ''urgent request'' of both Grant and General Halleck to
reduce the fortifications, Foote moved against the Confederate works. Bitter
fire at close range opened on both sides.
, the flagship, was hit fifty-nine times and lost steering control, as did
. Both disabled vessels drifted down stream; the gunboat attack was broken off.
Flag Officer Foote sustained injuries which forced him to give up command three
surrendered to Grant on 16 February. Major General Lewis Wallace, speaking of
the renewed gunboat support on 15 February, summed up the substantial role of
the gunboats in the victory: "I recollect yet the positive pleasure the
sounds [naval gunfire] gave me . . the obstinacy and courage of the Commodore
Was the attack ''of assistance to us''? ''I don't think there is room to
question it. It distracted the enemy S attention, and I fully believe it was the
gunboats . . . that operated to prevent a general movement of the rebels up the
river or across it, the night before the surrender.'' Coining quickly after the
, the capture of
by a combined operation had a heavy impact on both sides. News of the fall of Fort Donelson created great excitement in New
Orleans where the press placed much blame on Secretary of the Navy Mallory
because ''we are so wretchedly helpless on the water." With their
now untenable, the Confederates had to withdraw, assuring that state to the
. On the
, Confederate forces fell back on Island No. 10.
could not be held, and the Union armies were poised to sweep down into the
heart of the South.
Armed boat from USS Restless, Acting lieutenant Edward Conroy, captured and destroyed
sloop Edisto and schooners Wandoo,
Eliabeth, and Theodore Stony
off Bull's Bay, South Carolina; all ships carried heavy cargoes of rice for
Confederate ships sank obstructions in Cape Fear River near
, in an effort to block the channel.
experimental seagoing ironclad, launched at Mystic,
15 Four Confederate gunboats under Commodore Tattnall attacked Union batteries
at Venus Point, on
, but were forced back to
. Tattnall was attempting to effect the passage of steamer Ida
16 Gunboats of Flag Officer Foote's force destroyed the "Tennessee Iron
. General McClellan wired Flag Officer Foote from
.' "Sorry you are wounded. How seriously? Your conduct magnificent. With
what force do you return? I send nearly 600 sailors for you to-morrow.
17 Ironclad CSS
) commissioned, Captain Franklin Buchanan commanding.
Flag Officer Foote informed Secretary of the Navy Welles: ''I leave immediately
with a view of proceeding to Clarksville with eight mortar boats and two
ironclad boats, with the Conestoga,
wooden boat, as the river is rapidly falling. The other ironclad boats are badly
cut up and require extensive repairs. I have sent one of the boats already since
my return and ordered a second to follow me, which, with eight mortars, hope to
18 USS Ethan
Allen, Acting Lieutenant Eaton, entered
, and captured schooner Spitfire and
19 Confederates evacuated
. Colonel W. H. Allen, CSA, reported to General Floyd: ''Gunboats are coming;
they are just below point; can see steamer here. Will try and see how many
troops they have before I leave. Lieutenant Brady set bridge on fire, but it is
burning very slowly and will probably go out before it falls." Asking in a
postscript that any orders for him be sent "promptly," Allen noted
that "I will have to go in a hurry when I go." Union forces under Flag
Officer Foote occupied
and took possession of the town. Foote urged an immediate move on
and notified Army headquarters in
is in a good stage of water and General Grant and I believe we can take
Trial run of two-gun ironclad USS Monitor
harbor. Chief Engineer Alban C. Stimers, USN, reported on the various
difficulties that were presented during the trial run of Monitor and concluded
that her speed would be approximately 6 knots, "though Captain Ericsson
feels confident of 8."
Commander Rowan, and USS Commodore Perry, Lieutenant FlUSSer,
on a reconnaissance of the
, engaged Confederate troops at
. The following day Rowan's force covered the landing of Union troops who
entered the town, destroying military stores and Confederate troop quarters
Captain T. T. Craven, and USS South Carolina,
Lieutenant Hopkins, captured steamer Magnolia
in the Gulf of Mexico with large cargo of cotton.
General Robert E. Lee, harassed by the
Confederate inability to cope with the guns of the Union fleet, wrote Brigadier
General Trapier regarding the defenses of Florida: ''In looking at the whole
defense of Florida, it becomes important to ascertain what points can probably
be held and what points had better be relinquished. The force that the enemy can
bring against any position where he can concentrate his floating batteries
renders it prudent and proper to withdraw from the islands to the mainland and
be prepared to contest his advance into the interior. Where an island offers the
best point of defense, and is so connected with the main that its communications
cannot be cut off, it may be retained. Otherwise it should be abandoned."
20 Flag Officer Farragut arrived at
to begin what Secretary of the Navy Welles termed the "most important
operation of the war" the assault on
. In his instruction of 10 February to the Flag Officer, Welles observed:
"If successful, you open the way to the sea for the great West, never again
to be closed. The rebellion will be riven in the center, and the flag to which
you have been so faithful will recover its supremacy in every State." For
some weeks prior to Farragut's arrival, Union forces had been gathering at the
staging area. As early as 30 December, General Bragg, CSA, had written from
: "The enemy's vessels, some twenty, are below, landing supplies and large
bodies of troops on
." With an inadequate naval force, however, the Confederates were unable to
contest the steady build-up of Northern strength.
Major General John E. Wool at Fort Monroe, on hearing a report that Newport News
was to be attacked by Virginia, wrote Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton: ''We
want a larger naval force than we have at present. Meanwhile, the same day,
Secretary of the Navy Welles was writing Lieutenant Worden: "Proceed with
the USS Monitor, under your command, to Hampton Roads, Virginia.
Brigadier General George W. Cullum, General Halleck's Chief of Staff at Cairo,
relayed an urgent message from General McClellan regarding the gunboats to
Lieutenant S. L. Phelps: ''General McClellan gives most emphatic order to have
gun and mortar boats here ready by Monday morning. Must move on
with at least four serviceable gunboats and mortar boats. Only two gunboats at
all serviceable here, and but one mortar boat, three being ashore.''
Flag Officer L. M. Goldsborough wrote Assistant Secretary of the Navy Fox:
, and also at Newberne [
] the obstructions in the river are very formidable, and admirably placed. They
consist of a double row of piles thoroughly well driven by steam, and sunken
vessels. The rows are at right angles to the shore and parallel with each other.
One stretches all the way from the right bank nearly over to the left, and the
other all the way from the left bank nearly over to the right, and there is a
battery of considerable force on either bank between them; so that attacking
vessels must first go bows on to one, and then after passing it, be raked aft by
one and forward by the other at the same time.'' The Confederates sought to
reduce the Union Navy's effectiveness by well-placed obstructions, making
passage of shore batteries difficult and costly.
Armed boat expedition from USS New
London, Lieutenant A. Read, captured 12 small sloops and schooners at
, suspected of being used as pilot vessels by blockade runners.
Commander Swartwout, captured sloop Pioneer
, with cargo of tobacco.
21 Flag Officer Farragut formally relieved Flag Officer McKean as Commander,
Western Gulf Blockading Squadron. As his other ships arrived, he assembled
them at the
and sent those whose draft permitted over the bar to conduct the blockade ''in
the river.'' Secretary of the Navy Welles had sent Farragut supplementary
confidential instructions, spelling out what had been discUSSed
in conference: ''When the Hartford is
in all respects ready for sea, you will proceed to the Gulf of Mexico with all
possible dispatch . . . There will be attached to your squadron a fleet of
bomb-vessels and armed steamers, enough to manage them," under Commander D.
, preserved for the Union by the energy and foresight of naval commanders, would
play the key role it has played throughout the
' history as a naval base, rendezvous and training center for operations east,
west, and south. He instructed Farragut to ''proceed up the Mississippi River
and reduce the defenses which guard the approaches to New Orleans, when you will
appear off that city and take possession of it under the guns of your squadron,
and hoist the American flag therein, keeping possession until troops can be sent
to you. . . There are other operations of minor importance which will commend
themselves to your judgment and skill, but which must not be allowed to
interfere with the great object in view the certain capture of the city of New
22 Union naval vessels entered Savannah River through Wall's Cut, isolating
Flag Officer Farragut ordered Coast Survey team to sound the
passes and to mark out the safest channel.
23 Flag Officer Du Pont wrote Senator James W. Grimes from Iowa, a member of the
Committee on Naval Affairs of his departure for continued operations on the
South Atlantic Coast: "I am off tomorrow with a large division of my
squadron to complete my work on the lower coast, and if God is with us, in some
three weeks I hope to hold everything by and inside or outside blockade from
Cape Canaveral to Georgetown, S.C." The Confederacy would withdraw inland
as a result of Du Pont's efforts.
Flag Officer Foote, with Brigadier General Cullum, reconnoitered the Mississippi
River down to
, the anchor of the powerful Confederate defenses. He reported proceeding
"with four ironclad boats, two mortar boats and three transports containing
1,000 men." Lieutenant Gwin, in USS Tyler,
conducted a reconnaissance of the Tennessee River to
, Gwin seized 1,100 sacks and barrels of flour and some 6,000 bushels of wheat.
Charles Wilkinson drowns in
harbor when the submarine that he and Charlie Carroll sinks during diving
24 Captain Buchanan, CSN, ordered to command James River, Virginia, naval
defenses, and to fly his flag on board CSS
Virginia; the squadron consisted of CSS Virginia,
and the small gunboats CSS Patrick
Henry, Jamestown, Teaser,
Raleigh, and Beaufort. In
his orders to Buchanan Secretary of the Navy Mallory added: "The
is a novelty in naval construction, untried, and her powers unknown; and
hence the department will not give specific orders as to her attack upon the
enemy. Her powers as a ram are regarded as very formidable, and it is hoped you
will be able to test them. Like the bayonet charge of infantry, this mode of
attack, while the most destructive, will commend itself to you in the present
scarcity of ammunition. It is one also that may be rendered destructive at night
against the enemy at anchor. Even without guns the ship would, it is believed,
be formidable as a ram. Could you pass Old Point and make a dashing cruise in
the Potomac as far as
, its effect upon the public mind would be important to our cause. The condition
of our country, and the painful reverses we have just suffered, demand our
utmost exertions; and convinced as I am that the opportunity and the means for
striking a decisive blow for our navy are now, for the first time, presented, I
congratulate you upon it, and know that your judgment and gallantry will meet
all just expectations. Action, prompt and successful just now, would be of
serious importance to our cause.
, Lieutenant Jonathan M. Wainwright, captured schooner Joanna Ward off the coast
. Wainwright was the grandfather of the General of the same name who was
compelled to surrender
in World War II.
25 USS Monitor
, Lieutenant John L. Worden commanding. Captain Dahlgren described Monitor
as ''a mere speck, like a hat on the surface.''
Lieutenant Nathaniel Bryant, arrived at
, convoying seven steam transports with troops under Brigadier General William
Nelson, one of two ex-naval officers assigned to duty with the Army. Troops were
landed and occupied the
capital, an important base on the
, without opposition. Meanwhile, the demand for the gunboats mounted steadily.
From President Lincoln to widely separated field commanders, everyone recognized
their importance. General McClellan wired Major General Halleck: ''I learn from
telegraph of Commodore Foote to the Navy Department that you have ordered that
no gunboats go above
. I think it may greatly facilitate Buell's operations to send a couple at least
of the lighter ones to
. Captain Maynadier, Tenth Infantry, will be ordered to Commodore Foote, at
his request, as his ordnance officer for mortar boats." With the fall of
Forts Henry and Donelson the Confederates retreated precipitously, abandoning
strong positions, valuable ordnance, and supplies. Moreover, at
and elsewhere on the river they lost badly needed manufacturing facilities.
Flag Officer Foote quoted a
paper as stating: ''We had nothing to fear from a land attack, but the gunboats
are the devil."
Acting Lieutenant Couthouy, captured blockade runner Lion in the
Gulf of Mexico
after a three day chase.
Commander Godon, and USS Bienville, Commander Steedman, captured blockade running British
schooner Arrow off Fernandina,
USS R. B.
Forbes, Acting Lieutenant William Flye, grounded in a gale near Nag's Head,
, and was ordered destroyed by her commanding officer to prevent her falling to
the Confederates. She had been ordered to the mortar flotilla below
, Lieutenant Pegram, captured and burned schooner Robert
Gilfillan, bound from
with cargo of provisions.
Commander Steedman, captured schooner Alert
. New Orleans "Committee of Safety" reported to President Davis
regarding the "most deplorable condition" of the finances of the Navy
Department there, stating that it was preventing the enlistment of men and that
the "outstanding indebtedness can not be less than $600,000 or
$800,000" owing to foundries and machine shops, draymen, and other
suppliers, and that for months "a sign has been hanging over the
paymaster's office of that department, 'No funds.'
The Committee stated that ''unless the proper remedy is at once applied, workmen
can no longer be had."
27 Delayed one day by a lack of ammunition for her guns, USS
Monitor, Lieutenant Worden, departed
the New York Navy Yard for sea, but was compelled to turn back to the Yard
because of steering failure. The same day at
, Flag Officer Forrest, CSN, commanding the Navy Yard, reported that want of gun
powder, too, was delaying the readiness of
to begin operations against the Union blockading ships.
, Lieutenant Pegram, ran the blockade into
1 USS Tyler,
Lieutenant Gwin, and USS Lexington,
Lieutenant Shirk, engaged Confederate forces preparing to strongly fortify
Shiloh (Pittsburg Landing),
. Under cover of the gunboats' cannon, a landing party of sailors and Army
sharpshooters was put ashore from armed boats to determine Confederate strength
in the area. Flag Officer Foote commended Gwin for his successful
"amphibious" attack where several sailors met their death along with
their Army comrades. At the same time he
added: "But I must give a general order that no commander will land men to
make an attack on shore. Our gunboats are to be used as forts, and as they have
no more men than are necessary to man the guns, and as the Army must do the
shore work, and as the enemy want nothing better than to entice our men on shore
and overpower them with superior numbers, the commanders must not operate on
shore, but confine themselves to their vessels."
Flag Officer Foote again requested funds to keep the captured Eastport.
He telegraphed: "I have applied to the Secretary of the Navy to have the
rebel gunboat, Eastport, lately
captured in the
, fitted up as a gunboat, with her machinery in and lumber. She can be fitted
out for about $20,000, and in three weeks. We want such a fast and powerful
boat. Do telegraph about her, as we now have carpenters and cargo ahead on her
and she is just what we want. I should run about in her and save time and do
good service, Our other ironclad boats are too slow. The Eastport
was a steamer on the river, and she, being a good boat, would please the West.
No reply yet from the Secretary and time is precious." Had the Confederates
been able to complete this fine ship, over 100 feet longer than the armored
gunboats, before the rise of the rivers enabled the Federal forces to move with
such devastating effect, she could well have disrupted the whole series of Union
victories and postponed the collapse of Confederate defenses.
Vernon, Commander Glisson, captured blockade running British schooner British
with cargo including salt and coffee.
3 Flag Officer Du Pont, commanding joint amphibious expedition to
, reported to Secretary of the Navy Welles that he was "in full possession
and Sound, of Fernandina and
, and the river and town of
's." Confederate defenders were in the process of withdrawing heavy guns
inland from the area and offered only token resistance to Du Pont's force.
, occupied by an armed boat crew from USS Ottawa,
had been seized by Confederates at the beginning of the war and was the first
fort to be retaken by the
. Commander Drayton on board
took a moving train under fire near Fernandina, while launches under Commander
C. R. P. Rodgers captured steamer
with a cargo of military stores. Du Pont had only the highest praise for his
association with Brigadier General Wright, commanding the brigade of troops on
the expedition: "Our plans of action have been matured by mutual
consultation, and have been carried into execution by mutual help." The
Fernandina operation placed the entire
coast actually in the possession or under the control of the Union Navy. Du
Pont wrote Senator Grimes three days late? that: "The victory was
bloodless, but most complete in results." Du Pont also noted that: ''The
most curious feature of the operations was the chase of a train of cars by a
gunboat for one mile and a half-two soldiers were killed, the passengers rushed
out in the woods The expedition was a prime example of sea-land mobility and of
what General Robert E. Lee meant when he said: "Against ordinary numbers we
are pretty strong, but against the hosts our enemies seem able to bring
everywhere, there is no calculating."
4 Union forces covered by Flag Officer Foote's gunboat flotilla, now driving
, occupied strongly fortified
, which the Confederates had been compelled to evacuate. Foote reported that the
reconnaissance by USS Cincinnati and Louisville
two days earlier had hastened the evacuation, the rebels leaving quite a number
of guns and carriages, ammunition, and large quantity of shot and shell, a
considerable number of anchors, and the remnant of chain lately stretched
across the river, with a large number of torpedoes.'' The powerful fort, thought
by many to be impregnable, had fallen without a struggle. Brigadier General
Cullum wrote: "Columbus, the Gibraltar of the West, is ours and Kentucky is
free, thanks to the brilliant strategy of the campaign, by which the enemy's
center was pierced at Forts Henry and Donelson, his wings isolated from each
other and turned, compelling thus the evacuation of his strongholds at Bowling
Green first and now Columbus."
Confederate Secretary of the Navy Mallory summarized his Navy's needs to
President Davis: fifty light-draft and powerful steam propellers, plated with 5-
inch hard iron, armed and equipped for service in our own waters, four iron or
steel-clad single deck, ten gun frigates of about 2,000 tons, and ten clipper
propellers with superior marine engines, both classes of ships designed for
deep- sea cruising, 3,000 tons of first-class boiler-plate iron, and 1,000 tons
of rod, bolt, and bar iron are means which this Department could immediately
employ. We could use with equal advantage 3,000 instructed seamen, and 4,000
ordinary seamen and landsmen, and 2,000 first rate mechanics.''
Commander Daniel B. Ridgely, USS Santiago
de Cuba, reported the capture of sloop
O.K. off Cedar Keys,
, in February. Proceeding to
, O.K. foundered in heavy seas.
5 Flag Officer Foote observed that the gunboats could not immediately attack the
Confederate defenses at Island No. 10, down the river from
. "The gunboats have been so much cutup in the late engagements at Forts
Henry and Donelson in the pilot houses, hulls, and disabled machinery, that I
could not induce the pilots to go in them again in a fight until they are
repaired. I regret this, as we ought to move in the quickest possible time, but
I have declined doing it, being utterly unprepared, although General Halleck
says go, and not wait for repairs; but that can not be done without creating a
stampede amongst the pilots and most of the newly made officers, to say nothing
of the disasters which must follow if the rebels fight as they have done of
late." Two days later he added other information: "The Benton
is underway and barely stems the strong current of the Ohio, which is 5 knots
per hour in this rise of water, but hope, by putting her between two ironclad
steamers to-morrow, she will stem the current and work comparatively well . . .
I hope on Wednesday [12 March] to take down seven ironclad gunboats and ten
mortar boats to attack Island No. 10 and New Madrid. As the current in the
Mississippi is in some places 7 knots per hour, the ironclad boats can hardly
return here, therefore we must go well prepared, which detains us longer than
even you would imagine necessary from your navy-yard and smooth-water standpoint
. . . We are doing our best, but our difficulties and trials are legion."
Flag Officer Farragut issued a general order to the fleet in which he stressed
gunnery and damage control training. ''I expect every vessel's crew to be well
exercised at their guns . . . They must he equally well trained for stopping
shot holes and extinguishing fire. Hot and cold shot will no doubt be freely
dealt us, and there must be stout hearts and quick hands to extinguish the one
and stop the holes of the other."
Witch, Lieutenant Hughes, captured schooner William Mallory off St. Andrew's
6 Lieutenant Worden reported USS Monitor
had passed over the bar in
harbor with USS Currituck
and Sachem in company. "In order
to reach Hampton Roads as speedily as possible,'' Worden wrote Secretary of
the Navy Welles, ''whilst the fine weather lasts, I have been taken in tow by
the tug [Seth Low]."
Commander Semmes, CSS Sumter, wrote J. M. Mason, Confederate Commissioner in London, it is
quite manifest that there is a combination of all the neutral nations against us
in this war and that in consequence we shall be able to accomplish little or
nothing outside of our own waters. The fact is, we have got to fight this war
out by ourselves, unaided, and that, too, in our own terms . . . The foreign
intervention so much hoped for by the Confederacy was in large measure
forestalled by the impressive series of Union naval successes and the
effectiveness of the blockade.
Acting Lieutenant David Cate, captured schooner Anna Belle off
8 Ironclad CSS Virginia, Captain Buchanan, destroyed wooden blockading ships USS
Cumberland and USS
Congress in Hampton Roads.
, without trials or under way-training, headed directly for the Union squadron.
She opened the engagement when less than a mile distant from
and the firing became general from blockaders and shore batteries.
below the waterline and she sank rapidly, "gallantly fighting her
guns," Buchanan reported in tribute to a brave foe, "as long as they
were above water. Buchanan next turned
's fury on Congress, hard aground, and set her ablaze with hot shot and incendiary
shell. The day was
's but it was not without loss. Part
of her ram was wrenched off and left imbedded in the side of stricken
, and Buchanan received a wound in the thigh which necessitated his turning over
command to Lieutenant Catesby ap R. Jones. Secretary of the Navy Mallory wrote
to President Davis of the action: "The conduct of the Officers and men of
the squadron . . . reflects unfading honor upon themselves and upon the Navy.
The report will be read with deep interest, and its details will not fail to
rouse the ardor and nerve the arms of our gallant seamen. It will be remembered
that the Virginia was a novelty in
naval architecture, wholly unlike any ship that ever floated; that her heaviest
guns were equal novelties in ordnance; that her motive power and obedience to
her helm were untried, and her officers and crew strangers, comparatively, to
the ship and to each other; and yet, under all these disadvantages, the
dashing courage and consummate professional ability of Flag Officer Buchanan and
his associates achieved the most remarkable victory which naval annals record.''
USS Monitor, Lieutenant Worden,
arrived in Hampton Roads at night. The stage was set for the dramatic battle
the following day. ' Upon the untried endurances of the new Monitor
and her timely arrival,'' observed Captain Dahlgren, ''did depend the tide of
events. . . "
Flag Officer Foote's doctor reported on the busy commander's injury received at
Fort Donelson where, as always, he was in the forefront: ''Very little, if any,
improvement has taken place in consequence of neglect of the main [requirements]
of a cure, viz, absolute rest and horizontal position of the whole
Acting Master W. D. Gregory, captured schooner Henry Travers off
, mouth of the
9 Engagement lasting four hours took Place between USS
Monitor, Lieutenant Worden, and CSS
Virginia, Lieutenant Jones, mostly at
close range in Hampton Roads. Although neither side could claim clear victory,
this historic first combat between ironclads ushered in a new era of war at sea.
The blockade continued intact, but
remained as a powerful defender of the
area and a barrier to the use of the rivers for the movement of Union forces.
Severe damage inflicted on wooden-hulled USS Minnesota
during an interlude in the fight with Monitor underscored the plight of a
wooden ship confronted by an ironclad. The broad impact of the Monitor-Virginia battle on
naval thinking was summarized by Captain Levin M. Powell of USS
Potomac writing later from Vera Cruz:
''The news of the fight between the Monitor
and the Merrimack has created the most profound sensation amongst the
professional men in the allied fleet here. They recognize the fact, as much by
silence as words, that the face of naval warfare looks the other way now and the
superb frigates and ships of the line. . . supposed capable a month ago, to
destroy anything afloat in half an hour . . . are very much diminished in their
proportions, and the confidence once reposed in them fully shaken in the
presence of these astounding facts." And as Captain Dahlgren phrased it:
''Now comes the reign of iron and cased sloops are to take the place of wooden
Naval force under Commander Godon, consisting of USS
Mohican, Pocahontas, and Potomska,
took possession of St. Simon's and
and landed at
. All locations were found to be abandoned in keeping with the general
Confederate withdrawal from the seacoast and coastal islands.
Lieutenant Crosby, arrived at
, with prize schooner Cora, captured in the
Gulf of Mexico
Landing party from USS Anacostia and Yankee of
the Potomac Flotilla, Lieutenant Wyman, destroyed abandoned Confederate
batteries at Cockpit Point and
, and found CSS Page
10 Amidst the Herculean labors of lightening and dragging heavy ships through
the mud of the "19 ft. bar" that turned out to be 15 feet, and
organizing the squadron, Flag Officer Farragut reported: I am up to my eyes in
is on the bar, and I am getting her off. I have just had
up at the head of the passes. My blockading shall be done inside as much as possible.
I keep the gunboats up there all the time . . . Success is the only thing
listened to in his war, and I know that I must sink or swim by that rule. Two of
my best friends have done me a great injury by telling the Department that the
can be gotten over the bar into the river, and so I was compelled to try it,
and take precious time to do it. If I had been left to myself, I would have been
in before this."
Tug USS Whitehall,
Acting Master William J. Baulsir, was accidentally destroyed by fire off
11 Landing party from USS Wabash, Commander C. R. P. Rodgers, occupied
, which had been evacuated by Confederate troops in the face of the naval
Two Confederate gunboats under construction at the head of
were burned by Confederate military authorities to prevent their falling into
Northern hands in the event of the anticipated move against
by Union naval forces.
12 Landing party under Lieutenant Thomas H. Stevens of USS
, without opposition.
of the Sea, Lieutenant Baxter, captured British blockade runner Fair
Gunboats USS Tyler, Lieutenant Gwin, and USS Lexington,
Lieutenant Shirk, engaged a Confederate battery at Chickasaw, Alabama, while
reconnoitering the Tennessee River.
Baxter Watson and William
McClintock launch Pioneer I in
13 Major General John P. McCown, CSA, ordered the evacuation of Confederate
troops from New Madrid, Missouri, under cover of Flag Officer Hollins' gunboat
squadron consisting of CSS Livingston, Polk,
Flag Officer Foote advised Major General Halleck of the problems presented the
partly armored ironclads by an attack downstream, much different difficulties
than those encountered going up rivers in Tennessee: ''Your instructions to
attack Island No. 10 are received, and I shall move for that purpose tomorrow
morning. I have made the following telegram to the Navy Department, which you
will perceive will lead me to be cautious, and not bring the boats within short
range of the enemy's batteries. Generally, in all our attacks down the river, I
will bear in mind the effect on this place and the other rivers, which a serious
disaster to the gunboats would involve. General Strong is telegraphing
for transports, as there are none at
. The ironclad boats can not be held when anchored by stern in this current on
account of the recess between the fantails forming the stern yawing them about,
and as the sterns of the boats are not plated, and have but two 32-pounders
astern, you will see our difficulty of fighting downstream effectually. Neither
is there power enough in any of them to back upstream. We must, therefore, tie
up to shore the best way we can and help the mortar boats. I have long since
expressed to General Meigs my apprehensions about these boats' defects. Don't have my gunboats for rivers built with wheels amidships. The
driftwood would choke the wheel, even if it had a powerful engine. I felt it my
duty to state these difficulties, which could not be obviated, when I came here,
as the vessels were modeled and partly built.''
reported the arrival of the mortar flotilla at
, and five days later took them over the bar and into the
in preparation for the prolonged bombardment of Forts Jackson and St. Philip.
14 Joint amphibious attack under Commander Rowan and Brigadier General Burnside
captured Confederate batteries on the Neuse River and occupied New Bern, North
Carolina, described by Rowan as "an immense depot of army fixtures and
manufactures, of shot and shell Commander Rowan, with 13 war vessels and
transports carrying 12,000 troops, departed his anchorage at Hatteras Inlet on
12 March, arriving in sight of New Bern that evening. Landing the troops,
including Marines, the following day under the protecting guns of his vessels,
Rowan continued close support of the Army advance throughout the day. The
American flag was raised over Forts Dixie, Ellis, Thompson, and Lane on 14
Match, the formidable" obstructions in the river including torpedoes were
passed by the gunboats, and troops were transported across
to occupy the city. In addition to convoy, close gunfire support, and transport
operations, the Navy captured two steamers, stores, munitions, and cotton, and
supplied a howitzer battery ashore under Lieutenant Roderick S. McCook, USN.
Wherever water reached, combined operations struck heavy blows that were costly
to the Confederacy.
Flag Officer Foote departed
with seven gunboats USS Louisville was soon forced to return for repairs) and ten mortar
boats to undertake the bombardment of Island No. 10, which stood astride the
sweep of Union forces down the
. Foote wired Major General Halleck: " . . . I consider it unsafe to move
without troops to occupy No. 10 if we [naval forces] capture it . . . should we
pass No. 10 after its capture, the rebels on the
side would return and man their batteries and thus shut up the river in our
15 Flag Officer Foote's flotilla moved from
, down river to a position above Island No. 10. Foote reported, "The rain
and dense fog prevented our getting the vessels in position [to commence the
16 Union gunboats and mortar boats under Flag Officer Foote commenced
bombardment of strongly fortified and strategically located Island No. 10 in the
. After the loss of Forts Henry and Donelson, and as General Grant continued to
wisely use the mobile force afloat at his disposal, the Confederates fell back
on Island No. 10, concentrated artillery and troops, and prepared for an all-out
defense of this bastion which dominated the river. Meanwhile, Lieutenant Gwin
reported the operations of the wooden gunboats on the Tennessee River into
Mississippi and Alabama where they kept constantly active: ''I reported to
General Grant at Fort Foote on the 7th instant and remained at Danville Bridge,
25 miles above, awaiting the fleet of transports until Monday morning, by
direction of General Grant, when, General Smith arriving with a large portion of
his command, forty transports, I convoyed them to Savannah, arriving there
without molestation on the 11th. The same evening, with General Smith and staff
on board, made a reconnaissance of the river as high as
. The rebels had not renewed their attempts to fortify at that point, owing to
the vigilant watch that had been kept on them in my absence by Lieutenant
Lieutenant John Guest, captured schooners Eugenia and President in the
Gulf of Mexico
with cargoes of cotton.
17 First elements of the Army of the Potomac under General McClellan departed
, for movement by water to
and the Navy- supported Peninsular Campaign aimed at capturing
. His strategy was based on the mobility, flexibility, and massed gunfire
support afforded by the Union Navy's control of the
; indeed, he was to be saved from annihilation by heavy naval guns.
with Flag Officer Foote on board, was lashed between USS
to attack Island No. 10 and Confederate batteries on the
shore at a range of 2,000 yards. "The upper fort," Foote reported,
"was badly cut up by the
and the other boats with her. We dismounted one of their guns . . . In the
attack, Confederate gunners scored hits on
and damaged the engine of
. A rifled gun burst on board
and killed or wounded a number of officers and men.
, Lieutenant Pegram, ran the blockade out of
, through the gunfire of USS
Cambridge, Commander W. A. Parker, and
Lieutenant Cavendy. News of the escape of
caused concern to run high in
. Assistant Secretary of the Navy Fox wrote Flag Officer L. M. Goldsborough:
"It is a terrible blow to our naval prestige . . . you can have no idea of
the feeling here. It is a
of the Navy.''
, James Adger, Sumpter, Flambeau, and Onward captured British blockade runner Emily
St. Pierre off
. The master and steward, left on board, overpowered prize master Josiah Stone
, recaptured the vessel, and sailed to
19 Flag Officer Foote's forces attacking Island No. 10 continued to meet with
strong resistance from Confederate batteries. "This place, Island No. 10,''
Foote observed, ''is harder to conquer than
, as the island shores are lined with forts, each fort commanding the one above
it. We are gradually approaching . . . The mortar shells have done fine
Flag Officer Farragut described the noose of seapower: ''I sent over to
yesterday, and robbed the post-office of a few papers. They speak volumes of
discontent. It is no use -the cord is pulling tighter, and I hope I shall he
able to tie it. God alone decides the contest; but we must put our shoulders to
20 Confederate President Davis wrote- regarding the defense of the James River
: "The position of Drewry's Bluff, seven or eight miles below
was chosen to obstruct the river against such vessels as the Monitor. The work
is being rapidly completely. Either Fort Powhatan
or Kennon's Marsh, if found to be the proper positions, will be fortified and
obstructed as at Drewry's Bluff, to prevent the ascent of the river by ironclad
vessels. Blockading the channel where sufficiently narrow by strong lines of
obstructions, filling it with submersive batteries [torpedoes], and flanking
the obstructions by well protected batteries of the heaviest guns, seem to offer
the best and speediest chances of protection with the means at our disposal
against ironclad floating batteries.'' The Confederate Navy contributed in large
part to these successful defenses that for three years resisted penetration.
Naval crews proved especially effective in setting up and manning the big guns,
many of which had come from the captured Navy Yard at
21 Major General Halleck wrote Flag Officer Foote, commenting on the Navy's
operations against the Confederate batteries guarding Island No. 10: ''While I
am certain that you have done everything that could be done successfully to
reduce these works, I am very glad that you have not unnecessarily exposed your
gunboats. If they had been disabled, it would have been a most serious loss to
us in the future operations of the campaign . . . Nothing is lost by a little
delay there." Foote's gunboat and mortar boat flotilla continued to bombard
the works with telling effect.
, Acting Master John Low, sailing as British steamer Oreto,
. The first ship built in
for the Confederacy,
's four 7-inch rifled guns were sent separately to
in steamer Bahama. Commander Bulloch,
CSN, wrote Lieutenant John N. Maffitt, CSN: "Another ship will be ready in
about two months . . . Two small ships can do but little in the way of
materially turning the tide of war, but we can do something to illustrate the
spirit and energy of our people
General Lovell wrote Secretary of War Benjamin that he bad six steamers of the
River Defense Fleet to protect New Orleans. Lovell added: ''The people of New
Orleans thought it strange that all the vessels of the Navy should be sent up
the river and were disposed to find fault with sending in addition fourteen
steamers leaving this city without a single vessel for protection against the
enemy Confederate officials in Richmond were convinced than the greatest threat
to New Orleans would come from upriver rather than from Flag Officer Farragut's
force below Forts Jackson and St. Philip.
Boat crew from USS Penguin, Acting Lieutenant T. A. Budd, and USS
Henry Andrew, Acting Master Mather,
was attacked while reconnoitering
. Budd, Mather, and three others were killed.
24 Lieutenant Gwin, USS Tyler, reported the typically ceaseless activity of the gunboats:
''. since my last report, dated March 21, 1 have been actively employed cruising
up and down the river. The
arrived this morning. The 'Tyler,
accompanied by the Lexington,
proceeded up the river to a point 2 miles below Eastport, Mississippi, where we
discovered the rebels were planting a new battery at an elevation above water of
60 (degrees), consisting of two guns, one apparently in position. We threw
several shell into it, but failed to elicit a reply. The battery just below
Eastport, consisting of two guns, then opened upon us. Their shot fell short. I
stood up just outside of their range and threw three or four 20 [second] shell
at that battery, none of which exploded, owing to the very defective fuze
(army). The rebels did not respond. I have made no regular attack on their
lately constructed batteries, as they are of no importance to us, our base of
operations being so much below them. I have deemed it my duty, however, to annoy
them, where I could with little or no risk to our gunboats . . . The
, Lieutenant Commanding Shirk, will cruise down the river from this point. The
will cruise above."
towing a chartered schooner into which she had discharged guns and stores at
, arrived at the mouth of the
. She grounded and failed on four attempts to cross the bar even though water
conditions were favorable and small steamships were towing her through the mud
on one occasion parting a hawser that killed two men and injured others.
25 CSS Pamlico,
Lieutenant William G. Dozier, and CSS
, Acting Master Abraham L. Myers, engaged USS New
London, Lieutenant Read, at Pass Christian,
. The rifled gun on board Pamlico
jammed during the nearly two hour engagement, and the Confederate vessels
broke off the action, neither side having been damaged in the test of the
strength of Flag Officer Farragut's gathering forces. Transports with General
Butler and troops arrived at
was retaken, became the principal base for operations west of
. Flag Officer Farragut wrote: "I am now packed and ready for my
departure to the mouth of the
. . I spent last evening very pleasantly with General Butler. He does not
appear to have any very difficult plan of operations, but simply to follow in my
wake and hold what I can take. God grant that may be all that we attempt . . .
victory. If I die in the attempt, it will only be what every officer has to
expect. He who dies in doing his duty to his country, and at peace with his God,
has played out the drama of life to the best advantage."
Confederate Secretary of the Navy Mallory ordered Flag Officer Tattnall to
relieve the injured Flag Officer Buchanan and "take command of the naval
defenses on the waters of
and hoist your flag on board the
Reports of Confederate ironclads on the river disturbed Union commanders far and
wide. Major General Halleck wired Flag Officer Foote: ''It is stated by men just
arrived from New Orleans that the rebels are constructing one or more ironclad
river boats to send against your flotilla. Moreover, it is said that they are to
be cased with railroad iron like the
. If this is so I think a single boat might destroy your entire flotilla, pass
our batteries and sweep the Western rivers. Could any of your gunboats be clad
in the same way so as to resist the apprehended danger? If not, how long would
it require to build a new one for that purpose? I have telegraphed to the
Secretary of War for authority to have any suitable boat altered or prepared; or
if there be none suitable, to build a new one. As no time is to be lost, if any
one of the gunboats now in service will bear this change it should be taken in
preference to building a new one. I shall await your answer. Could not the
be so altered?" Flag Officer Foote sent Lieutenant Joseph P. Sanford, his
ordnance officer, to confer with the General on the subject and replied: ''There
is no vessel now in the flotilla that can be armored as you suggest. This [
] is the only one which could bear the additional weight of iron required and
she already is so deep and wanting in steam power that it would make her utterly
useless with the additional weight of iron. I suggest that a strong boat be
fitted up in St. Louis and armored in fact, two vessels-in the shortest possible
manner, with a view of protecting the river at Cairo, or Columbus would do
better, if it was fortified with heavy guns sweeping the river below. These
boats will require at least a month to be fitted up. As to the place, etc.,
Lieutenant Sanford will consult with you. Commander Porter of the Essex,
is also in
, who is fitting out the
, and who will remain there for the present. He will attend to the new boats and
get them ready in the shortest possible time.''
Gunboat USS Cairo, Lieutenant Bryant, seized guns and equipment abandoned by
Confederate troops evacuating Fort Zollicoffer, six miles below Nashville.
Gunboat USS Cayuga, Lieutenant Harrison, captured schooner Jessie J. Cox, en route
with cargo of cotton and turpentine.
26 Flag Officer Foote, off Island No. 10, dispatched a warning to Commander
Alexander M. Pennock, his fleet captain at Cairo: "You will inform the
commanders of the gunboats Cairo, Tyler,
and Lexington not to be caught up the
river with too little water to return to Cairo. They, of course, before leaving,
will consult the generals with whom they are cooperating. As it is reported on
the authority of different persons from New Orleans that the rebels have
thirteen gunboats finished and ready to move up the Mississippi, besides the
four or five below New Madrid, and the Manassas
or ram, at Memphis, the boats now up the rivers and at Columbus or Hickman,
should be ready to protect Cairo or Columbus in case disaster overtakes us in
our flotilla." Union commanders in the west and elsewhere recognized how
much the margin of Union superiority and the power to thrust deep into the
Confederacy depended upon the gunboats, and care was exercised not to lose the
effectiveness of this mobile force. Meanwhile, greatly concerned about threats
of Confederate naval ironclads, Secretary of War Stanton wired the President of
the Board of Trade at
: "This Department desires the immediate aid of your association in the
following particulars 1st. That you would appoint three of its active members
most familiar with steamboat and engine building who would act in concert with
this Department and under its direction, and from patriotic motives devote
some time and attention for thirty days in purchasing and preparing such means
of defense on the Western waters against ironclad boats as the engineers of this
Department may devise . . My object is to bring the energetic, patriotic spirit
and enlightened, practical judgment of your city to aid the Government in a
matter of great moment, where hours must count and dollars not be
Two armed boats from USS Delaware, Lieutenant Stephen P. Quackenbush, captured schooners Albemarle
and Lion at the head of
27 Secretary of War Stanton instructed Engineer Charles Ellet, Jr., '' You will
please proceed immediately to Pittsburg,
Cincinnati, and New Albany and take measures to provide steam rams for defense
against ironclad vessels on the "'Western waters.'' The next day he wired
: "General [James K.]
has gone to
to aid you and put you in communication with the committee there. The rebels
have a ram at
. Lose no time.'' Later
described the Ellet rams to General Halleck: ''They are the most powerful
steamboats, with upper cabins removed, and bows filled in with heavy timber. It
is not proposed to wait for putting on iron. This is the mode in which the
will be met. Can you not have something of the kind speedily prepared at
Armed boat expedition from USS Restless
Acting Lieutenant Conroy, captured schooner Julia
, with cargo of rice for
, and burned sloop Mart Louisa
and schooner George Washington.
Flag Officer Du Pont reported to Secretary of the Navy Welles that Confederate
batteries on Skiddaway and Green Islands, Georgia, had been withdrawn and placed
nearer Savannah, giving Union forces complete control of Wassaw and Ossabaw
Sounds and the mouths of the Vernon and Wilmington Rivers, important approaches
to the city.
28 Commander Henry H.
reported a reconnaissance in USS Kennebee of the Mississippi River and Forts Jackson and
Philip. He noted that the "two guns from St. Philip reached as far down
the river as any from Jackson" and called attention to the obstruction, "consisting of a raft of
logs and eight hulks moored abreast," across the river below St. Philip.
Scouting missions of this nature enabled Flag Officer Farragut to make the
careful and precise plans which ultimately led to the successful passage of the
forts and the capture of
Lieutenant Stevens reported his return to
with a launch and cutter from USS Wabash
and steamers USS Darlington and Ellen after
which had been found sunk by the Confederates earlier in the month far up
St. John's River
. Stevens reported that it was "generally believed she was bought by the
rebels for the purpose of carrying
and Mason to
29 USS R.
R. Cuyler, Lieutenant F. Winslow, captured blockade running schooner
Grace E. Baker off the coast of
Boat under command of Acting Master's Mate Henry Eason from USS
Restless, captured schooner
and Mary with large cargo of rice for
, and destroyed an unnamed schooner in
30 Flag Officer Foote ordered Commander Henry Walke, USS
Carondelet.' "You will avail
yourself of the first fog or rainy night and drift your steamer down past the
batteries, on the Tennessee shore, and Island No. 10 . . . for the purpose of
covering General Pope's army while he crosses that point to the opposite, or to
the Tennessee side of the river, that he may move his army up to Island No. 10
and attack the rebels in the rear while we attack them in front." Five days
later Walke made his heroic dash past Island No. 10 to join the Army at New
inventors are granted the first letter of marque for an underwater vessel by the
Patent Office grants a patent for a submarine to Reverend Franklin Smith of
. While the U.S. Patent Office granted only a single patent for a submarine in
the course of the war, this was one of four granted by the Southern office. One
will go to James Patton of
October, and the other two were issued to William Cheney.
1 Combined Army-Navy boat expedition under
Master John V. Johnston, USN, of gunboat USS St.
Louis and Colonel George W. Roberts landed and spiked the guns of Fort No. 1
on the Tennessee shore above Island No. 10, Mississippi River (night of 1-2
April). Colonel Roberts reported: "To the naval officers in command of the
boats great praise is due for the admirable manner in which our approach was
Commander Hunter, recaptured Confederate schooner Isabel off
. Isabel had been under tow of USS Cayuga,
Lieutenant Harrison, but was cast off in a heavy gale in the
Gulf of Mexico
2 General McClellan and his staff arrived at
on board steamer Commodore. In the Peninsular Campaign to capture
, the General intended to take full advantage of Union command of the seas for
logistic support and offensive operations. He wrote: "Effective naval
cooperation will shorten this operation by weeks." He proposed to outflank
Confederate defenders by water movements up the James and
supported by the Navy. The ominous presence of CSS
Virginia at the mouth of the
dictated that Flag Officer L. M. Goldsborough keep his main naval strength at
Hampton Roads alerted against future attacks by the Confederate ironclad. Union
gunboats frequently bombarded
, under siege by McClellan's army, until the city was evacuated on 3 May.
Vernon, Commander Glisson, with USS Fernandina
, destroyed schooner Kate attempting
to run the blockade near
3 Armed boats from USS Mercedita, Commander Stellwagen, and USS
Sagamore, Lieutenant Andrew J. Drake,
captured Apalachicola, Florida, without resistance and took pilot boats Cygnet
and Mary Olivia, schooners New
and Rose, and sloop Octavia.
Flag Officer Du Pont and Brigadier General Henry W. Benham planned to cut off
in joint operations along the
coast. Du Pont immediately ordered USS Mohican,
Commander Godon, to reconnoiter the
to determine the best means of obstructing it as part of the projected attack.
Captain Lardner, captured British blockade runner Coquette off
. Three armed boats from USS Isaac Smith,
Lieutenant J. W. A. Nicholson, captured British blockade runner British Empire
with cargo of provisions, dry goods, and medicines in
4 USS Carondelet,.
Commander Walke, shrouded by a heavy storm at night, successfully ran past
Island No. 10,
, and reached Major General John Pope's army at New Madrid. For his heroic dash
through flaming Confederate batteries, Walke strengthened Carondelet with cord-wood piled around the boilers, extra deck
planking, and anchor chain for added armor protection. "The passage of the Carondelet,"
wrote A. T. Mahan, "was not only one of the most daring and dramatic events
of the war; it was also the death blow to the Confederate defense of this
position." With the support of the gunboats, the Union troops could now
safely plan to cross the river and take the Confederate defenses from the rear.
Acting Lieutenant Cate, captured sloop
, with cargo of cotton.
Lieutenant Washington Gwathmey, with CSS Pamlico
, engaged gunboats USS
J. P. Jackson,
, and Hatteras, and troops on board
steamer Lewis, but could not prevent the landing of 1,200 men at Pass Christian,
, and the destruction of the Confederate camp there.
Jackson, Acting Lieutenant Selim E.
Woodworth, captured steamer P. C. Wallis
with cargo of turpentine, pitch, rosin, and oil.
5 Brigadier General Benham informed Flag Officer Du Pont of a reported
Confederate build-up of strength at
, "possibly for an effort to relieve or reinforce the garrison of
." The General added that he was "most earnestly wishing" for
further naval strength in the area. As reports of expected Confederate action at
continued to reach Du Pont, he made every effort to render maximum support to
Flag Officer Farragut on board USS Iroquois
made a personal reconnaissance in the area of Forts Jackson and St. Philip. The
forts opened fire, but Farragut, observing from a mast, remained as "calm
and placid as an onlooker at a mimic battle."
Launch from USS Montgomery, Lieutenant Charles Hunter, captured and destroyed
near San Luis Pass, Texas, loaded with cotton.
6 USS Tyler,
Lieutenant Gwin, and USS Lexington, Lieutenant Shirk, protected the advanced river flank of
General Grant's army at the Battle of Shiloh (Pittsburg Landing) and slowed the
initially successful attack of the Confederates, Major General Polk, CSA,
reported that the Confederate forces "were within from 150 to 400 yards of
the enemy's position, and nothing seemed wanting to complete the most brilliant
victory of the war but to press forward and make a vigorous assault on the
demoralized remnant of his forces, At this juncture his gunboats dropped down
the river, near the landing where his troops were collected, and opened a
tremendous cannonade of shot and shell over the bank, in the direction from
where our forces were approaching." Fire from the two wooden gunboats
helped maintain Union positions until reinforcements arrived, and the next day
contributed to forcing the Confederate retreat. ''In this repulse,'' wrote
Grant, "much is due to the presence of the gunboats." General
Beauregard, CSA, attributed the Confederate loss the following day in large part
to the presence of the gunboats. "During the night [of the 6th] the rain
fell in torrents, adding to the discomforts and harassed condition of the men.
The enemy, moreover, had broken their rest by a discharge at measured intervals
of heavy shells thrown from the gunboats; therefore, on the following morning
the troops under my command were not in condition to cope with an equal force of
fresh troops, armed and equipped like our adversary, in the immediate possession
of his depots and sheltered by such an auxiliary as the enemy's gunboats."
One of the Army divisions at
was commanded by Major General Nelson, a former naval officer assigned to the
Army, "who," Lieutenant Gwin observed, "greatly distinguished
himself." Gwin went on to report of
the battle, ''I think this has been a crushing blow to the rebellion."
Commander Walke, made a reconnaissance down the
from New Madrid to Tiptonville, exchanging shots with shore batteries and
landing to spike Confederate guns in preparation for covering the river
crossing by Major General Pope's troops.
Acting Lieutenant Cate, captured steamer
loading cotton at
, head of
7 USS Pittsburg,
Lieutenant Egbert Thompson, ran past the batteries at Island No. 10 and joined USS
Carondelet in covering the crossing of
Major General Pope's army to the Tennessee side of the Mississippi River to move
against Island No. 10. The General's words to Flag Officer Foote attested to the
importance he attached to naval support: ". . . the lives of thousands of
men and the success of our operations hang upon your decision. With the two
boats all is safe.
Island No. 10, described by Brigadier General William W. Mackall, CSA,
commanding the island, as "the key of the
," surrendered to the naval forces of Flag Officer Foote. Besides the heavy
cannon and munitions captured, four steamers were taken and gunboat CSS
Grampus was sunk before the surrender.
Capture of Island No. 10 opened the river to Union gunboats and transports south
. Congress tendered Flag Officer Foote a vote of thanks "for his eminent
services and gallantry at Fort Henry,
, and Island No. 10, while in command of the naval forces of the
." Mobile naval strength had sealed the fate of the Confederacy on the
, and was knifing into the heart of the South.
After surrender of Island No. 10, USS Mound
City, Commander Augustus H. Kiley, seized Confederate ship
Red Rover, which had been damaged by mortar fire. Temporarily repaired, Red
Rover was moved to
where she was converted to the Navy's first hospital ship. She joined the river
fleet under Commander Pennock, on 10 June and shortly received her first
Red Rover was officially transferred
to the Navy on 1 October 1862 and commissioned 26 December.
Sisters of the Holy Cross volunteered and served on board as nurses- pioneers of
the U.S. Navy Nurse Corps treating the sick and wounded. From Civil War Red
Rover to the present, fine medical facilities afloat have promoted the
efficiency and staying power of the combatant fleets.
Captain Morris, and USS Mississippi, Commander M. Smith, were successfully brought over the
bar at the Passes and into the
after several previous attempts to do so had met with failure. These were the
two heaviest vessels ever to enter the river and figured prominently in the
. "Now," Flag Officer Farragut wrote, "we are all right.''
Commander Semmes' log of CSS
recorded: "Received a telegram from Mr. Mason [J. M. Mason, Confederate
] ordering me to lay the
up and to permit the officers and such of the crew as prefer it to return to
the Confederate States." This action in large measure was caused by a
serious breakdown of
's boilers at
8 General Robert E. Lee wrote Confederate Secretary of the Navy Mallory: . . .
it is my opinion that they [General McClellan's army] are endeavoring to change
their base of operations from James to
. This change has no doubt been occasioned by their fear of the effect of the
upon their shipping in the James. General Magruder informs me that their
gunboats and transports have appeared off Shipping Point, on the Poquosin, near
the mouth of the
, where they intend, apparently, to establish a landing for stores, preparatory
to moving against our lines at
, Lieutenant Stevens, USS Pembina,
and Ellen escorted transports Cosmopolitan
and Belvedere out of
, as Union forces evacuated the area.
Flag Officer Hollins telegraphed Confederate Secretary of the Navy Mallory from
for authority to bring his force to the support of
. Mallory, convinced that the serious threat to
would come from Flag Officer Foote's force in the upper river rather than from
Farragut's fleet below, denied Hollin's request.
10 Gunboat USS Kanawha, Lieutenant John C. Febiger, captured blockade running
Acting Master Charles A. French, captured schooners Comet, J. J. Crittenden,
State, Commander LeRoy, chased blockade runner Liverpool, which ran aground
, and was destroyed by her crew.
11 CSS Virginia,
Flag Officer Tattnall, rounded Sewell's Point to make her second appearance In
Hampton Roads. Under
's protection, CSS
Jamestown, Lieutenant Barney, and CSS Raleigh,
Lieutenant Commander Joseph W. Alexander, captured three Union transports.
Because of major strategic considerations on both sides, no second Monitor-Virginia
duel ensued. Monitor's mission was to
in support of General McClellan's campaign on the Peninsula, and
safeguarded the important
area and the mouth of the
, surrendered after enduring an intensive two day bombardment by Union
artillery. Commander C.R.P. Rodgers and a detachment of sailors from USS
Wabash manned Battery Sigel the second
day of the engagement and ''kept up a steady and well-directed fire until the
fort hauled down its flag, at 2 p.m." The Navy gunners' participation in
the action was at the invitation of Major General David Hunter, commander of the
Army forces, and demonstrated once again the closeness of cooperation achieved
by the two services.
Flag Officer Farragut expressed his views on the outcome of the anticipated
: "God dispenses His will according to his judgment, and not according to
our wishes or expectations. The defeat of our army at
, which I saw in the rebel papers, will give us a much harder fight; men are
easily elated or depressed by victory. But as to being prepared for defeat, I
certainly am not. Any man who is prepared for defeat would be half defeated
before he commenced. I hope for success; shall do all in my power to secure it,
and trust to God for the rest. I trust in Him as a merciful being; but really in
war it seems as if we hardly ought to expect mercy, when men are destroying one
another upon questions of which He alone is the judge. Motive seems to
constitute right and wrong.
Commander T. A. Craven, USS Tuscarora,
reported that CSS Sumter,
Commander Semmes, had been abandoned at
. Tuscarora had closely blockaded
in port. The Confederate Congress expressed thanks "to Captain Raphael
Semmes and the officers and crew of the steamer Sumter,
under his command, for gallant and meritorious services rendered by them in
seriously injuring the enemy's commerce upon the high seas, thereby setting an
example reflecting honor upon our infant Navy which can not be too highly
appreciated by Congress and the people of the Confederate States.'' In her
spectacular though abbreviated career,
captured 18 vessels and dealt
shipping a heavy blow. "Well," Semmes remarked, "we have done
the country some service, having cost the
at least $1,000,000 in one way or another."
Secretary of the Navy Welles wrote
President Lincoln: ''It is of the greatest importance that the exportation of
anthracite coal from ports of the United States to any and all foreign ports
should be absolutely prohibited. The rebels obtain the coal for their steamers
from Nassau and Havana, and the fact that it burns without smoke enables them to
approach blockaded ports with greater security, as all other coals throw out so
much smoke as to render their presence visible a great distance at sea.
Tyler, Lieutenant Gwin, and USS
Lexington, Lieutenant Shirk, convoyed Army troops from Shiloh
(Pittsburg Landing) to Chickasaw, Alabama. The expedition destroyed a bridge at
, used by the
and Charleston Railroad.
Coast Survey party under Ferdinand H. Gerdes, began surveying the
below Forts Jackson and St. Philip. Harassed by fire from the forts and
riflemen on the river banks, Gerdes' party worked for five days to provide Flag
Officer Farragut with a reliable map of the river, forts, water batteries, and
the obstruction across the river.
Lieutenant Eaton of USS Beauregard demanded the surrender of the Confederate garrison at
. His demands were refused and Eaton shelled the fort before withdrawing.
14 Union mortar boats of Flag Officer Foote's force commenced regular
the next Army-Navy objective on the drive down the
Potomac Flotilla ascended the
and destroyed Confederate batteries and captured three vessels.
15 USS Keystone
State, Commander LeRoy, captured blockade runner Success off
16 Flag Officer Farragut, after careful planning and extensive preparations,
moved his fleet up the Mississippi to a position below Forts Jackson and St.
Philip, guarding the approaches to New Orleans and mounting over 100 guns. High
water in the river had flooded the forts. Confederate garrisons worked night and
day to control the water and strengthen the forts against the impending assault.
A chain obstruction supported by hulks spanned the river. Above the forts a
Confederate flotilla, Flag Officer John K. Mitchell, included the potentially
powerful but uncompleted ironclad
. Most of the others were small, makeshift gunboats. There were also a number of
fire rafts readied to be set adrift to flow with the current into the midst of
the Union fleet. Against these combined defenses Farragut, flying his flag in USSHartford,
brought seventeen ships carrying 154 guns and a squadron of 20 mortar boats
18 Confederate Congress, hoping to stem the constant sweeping of the seas and
inland waters by the Union fleets, passed an act authorizing contracts for the
purchase of not more than six ironclads to be paid for in cotton.
Union mortar boats,
, began a five day bombardment of
. Moored some 3,000 yards from
, they concentrated their heavy shells, up to 285 pounds, for six days and
nights on this nearest fort from which they were hidden by intervening woods.
The garrison heroically endured the fire and stuck to their guns.
19 Mortar schooner USS Maria J. Canton, Acting Master Charles E. Jack, bombarding
, was sunk by Confederate fire. Commander Bell observed that the Confederate
guns were being worked "beautifully and with effect."
Lieutenant John Downes, captured schooner Glide
loaded with cotton, rice, and flour off
20 USS Itasca,
Lieutenant Caldwell, and USS Pinola,
Lieutenant Crosby, under direction of Commander Bell, breached the obstructions
below Forts Jackson and St. Philip under heavy fire, opening the way for Flag
Officer Farragut's fleet. Brigadier General Johnson K. Duncan, CSA, commanding
the forts, complained that the River Defense Fleet had sent no fire rafts down
"to light up the river or distract the attention of the enemy at
night" and had stationed no ship below to warn of the approach of
and Pinola. This lack of coordination
proved most costly to the Confederacy.
Lieutenant Wyman, commanding Potomac Flotilla, reported the capture of
, Lookout, Sarah Ann, Sydney
Jones, Reindeer, Falcon,
Sea Flower, and Roundout
at the mouth of the
21 Flag Officer Farragut explained the delay in the attack on New Orleans:
"We have been bombarding the forts for three or four days, but the
current is running so strong that we cannot stem it sufficiently to do anything
with our ships, so that lam now waiting a change of wind, which brings a slacker
tide, and we shall be enabled to run up. . . . Captain Bell went last night to
cut the chain across the river. I never felt such anxiety in my life as I did
until his return. One of his vessels got on shore, and I was fearful she would
be captured. They kept up a tremendous fire on him; but Porter diverted their
fire with a heavy cannonade. They let the chain go, but the man sent to explode
the petard did not succeed; his wires broke.
would have burned the hulks, but the illumination would have given the enemy a
chance to destroy his gunboat, which got aground. However, the chain was
divided, and it gives us space enough to go through."
Lieutenant Gwin, captured steamer Alfred
Robb on the
22 Two boats from USS Arthur, Acting Lieutenant Kittredge, captured a schooner and two
, but were forced to abandon the prizes and their own boats when attacked by
Confederate vessels and troops.
23 Brigadier General Duncan, the commander of
, wrote General Lovell in
: "Heavy and continued bombardment all night, and still progressing. No
further casualties, except two men slightly wounded. God is certainly protecting
us. We are still cheerful, and have an abiding faith in our ultimate success. We
are making repairs as best we can. Our barbette guns are still in working order.
Most of them have been disabled at times. The health of the troops continues
good. Twenty-five thousand [actually about five thousand] XIII-inch shells have
been fired by the enemy, thousands of which fell in the fort. They must soon
exhaust themselves; if not, we can stand it as long as they can.
23-24 Expedition commanded by Lieutenant FlUSSer,
including USS Lockwood, Whitehead, and Putnam,
blocked the mouth of
, near Elizabeth City, North Carolina, sinking a schooner and other obstructions
inside the canal.
24 Flag Officer Farragut's fleet ran past Forts Jackson and St. Philip and
engaged the defending Confederate flotilla. At 2:00 a.m., USS
Hartford had shown Farragut's signal
for the fleet to get underway in three divisions to steam through the breach in
the obstructions which had been opened by USS Pinola
. A withering fire from the forts was answered by roaring broadsides from the
, grounded in the swift current near Fort St. Philip, was set afire by a
Confederate fireraft. Farragut's leadership and the disciplined training of the
crew saved the flagship. USS Varuna
was rammed by two Confederate ships and sunk In the ensuing melee, CSS
Jackson, General Lovell, and Breckinridge,
, steamers Star and Belle
gunboat General Quitman were
destroyed. The armored ram CSS
was driven ashore by USS Mississippi and sunk. Steam tenders CSS
surrendered; Resolute and Governor Moore were
destroyed to prevent capture. ''The
destruction of the Navy at New Orleans," wrote Confederate Secretary of the
Navy Mallory, "was a sad, sad blow . . . When the Union Navy passed the
forts and disposed of the Confederate forces afloat, the fate of New Orleans was
decided. Farragut had achieved a brilliant victory, one which gave true meaning
to the Flag Officer's own words: "The great man in our country must not
only plan but execute.
made a successful run into
with 60,000 stand of arms and 40 tons of powder.
25 Flag Officer Farragut's fleet, having silenced Confederate batteries at
Chalmette en route, anchored before
. High water in the river allowed the ships' guns to dominate the city over the
levee top. Captain Bailey went ashore to demand the surrender. The Common
Council of New Orleans resolved that: ". . . having been advised by the
military authorities that the city is indefensible, [we] declare that no
resistance will be made to the forces of the
." Loss of
, the largest and wealthiest seaport in the South, was a critical blow to the
Confederacy. With the rapid capitulation of Forts Jackson and St. Philip, the
delta of the Mississippi was open to the water-borne movement of Union forces
which were free to steam river to join those coming south in the great pincer
which would sever the Confederacy. "Thus, reported Secretary of the Navy
Welles, ''the great southern depot of the trade of the immense central valley of
the Union was once more opened to commercial intercourse and the emporium of
that wealthy region was restored to national authority; the mouth of the
Mississippi was under our control and an outlet for the great West to the ocean
, launched on 19 April and described by Confederate naval officers as "the
strongest . . . most formidable war vessel that had ever been built," was
destroyed by fire at
to prevent her capture by the Union fleet. Had the Tredegar Iron Works,
, completed her shaft on time,
might have been readied to throw her weight into the defense of
Commander Charles H. McBlair, CSN, notified the Confederate Navy Department that
as a result of the passage of the forts below
by Flag Officer Farragut's fleet that he intended to take the unfinished ram CSS
, building at
, up the
to be completed. McBlair also reported that arrangements had been made to
on the stocks to prevent her capture if
fell. In June Arkansas was moved down the
to Liverpool Landing where a raft across the river and shore batteries
protected the ram from the Federal gunboats while work went forward on her.
Commander George H. Scott, began shelling
, in support of General McClellan's Peninsular Campaign.
Lieutenant George Preble, captured schooner John
de Cuba, Commander Ridgely, captured blockade runner Ella Warley at sea 120
is scuttled in the
its inventors—Watson and McClintock, now joined by Horace Hunley—flee
when Farragut’s fleet moves in. The submarine is discovered, raised, and
examined by the U.S. Navy. Reports indicate that Pioneer
may have claimed the lives of two crew members while being tested on
26 Flag Officer Farragut, from flagship USS Hartford,
issued a general order after his victory at New Orleans: "Eleven o'clock
this morning is the hour appointed for all the officers and crews of the fleet
to return thanks to Almighty God for His great goodness and mercy in permitting
us to pass through the events of the last two days with so little loss of life
and blood. At that hour the church pennant will be hoisted on every vessel of
the fleet, and their crews assembled will, in humiliation and prayer, make their
acknowledgments therefore to the great dispenser of all human events.
, surrendered to combined land-sea forces under Commander Lockwood and Brigadier General John G. Parke. USS
, Chippewa, and Gemsbok heavily bombarded the fort; blockade runners
were captured after the fort's surrender.
Acting Lieutenant J. Frederick Nickels, forced schooner Chase aground on Raccoon Keys near
, and subsequently destroyed her.
Lieutenant John H. Upshur, captured blockade runner Active near
de Cuba, Commander Ridgely, captured schooner Mersey off
Acting Master Lemuel G. Crane, captured schooner Belle off
27 Fort Livingston,
, surrendered to the Navy Boat crew from USS Kittatinny
flag over the fort.
Commander Stellwagen, captured steamer Bermuda
northeast of Abaco with large cargo of arms shipped from
Lieutenant Alexander A. Semmes, and USS Potomska,
Acting Lieutenant Pendleton G. Watmough, exchanged fire with dismounted
Confederate cavalry concealed in woods on Woodville Island, Riceboro River,
28 Forts Jackson and St. Philip, isolated since being passed by Flag Officer
Farragut's fleet and the fall of New Orleans, surrendered to the Navy; the terms
of capitulation were signed on board USS Harriet
Lane, Commander D. D. Porter's flagship. CSS
, and McRae were destroyed to prevent
Steamer Oreto (CSS
) arrived at
British West Indies
29 Expedition under Lieutenant Alexander C. Rhind in USS
E. B. Hale landed and destroyed
Confederate battery at Grimball's,
, and exchanged fire with field pieces near Slann's Bluff.
Gunboat USS Kanawha, Lieutenant Febiger, captured blockade running British sloop
, bound for
with cargo of cotton.
Santiago de Cuba
, Commander Ridgely, captured schooner Maria
1 USS Hatteras,
Commander Emmons, captured schooner Magnolia
, with cargo of cotton.
Commander Green, captured British blockade runner Intended off the coast of
with cargo of salt, coffee, and medicines.
Lieutenant Downes, captured schooner Albert
Schooner Sarah ran aground at Bull's
, and was destroyed by her own crew to prevent capture by USS Onward, Acting Lieutenant Nickels.
Lieutenant Somerville Nicholson, shelled the Confederate positions at
2 USS Restless,
Acting Lieutenant Conroy, captured British blockade runner Flash off the coast of
Brutus de Villeroi’s
submarine is launched in
harbor. The vessel is 40’ long, 6’ high, and 4’6” wide.
3 USS R.
R. Cuyler, Lieutenant F. Winslow, captured schooner Jane off
, with cargo including pig lead.
4 USS Corwin,
Lieutenant Thomas S. Phelps, captured schooner Director and launch marked "U.S. brig Dolphin " in York River near Gloucester Point; guard boat
General Scott and sloop Champion, both loaded with Confederate Army stores, were
burned to prevent capture.
Boat crew from USS Wachusett, Commander W. Smith, raised
, after General McClellan's troops occupied
; two Confederate schooners were captured.
Lieutenant Joseph E. DeHaven, captured sloop Charles Henry off
, Louisiana, and raised the
flag over Fort Pike, which had been evacuated.
Lieutenant English, commanding USS Somerset,
reported the capture of steamer Circassian
Union forces at
burned schooner Beauregard, laden
with coal for CSS Virginia.
5 President Lincoln, with Secretaries Stanton and Chase on board, proceeded to
Hampton Roads on steamer Miami to
personally direct the stalled Peninsular Campaign. The following day,
informed Flag Officer L. M. Goldsborough: "I shall be found either at
General Wool's [
] or on board the
." The President directed gunboat operations in the
and the bombardment of Sewell's Point by the blockading squadron in the five
days he acted as Commander-in-Chief in the field.
Lieutenant DeHaven, captured schooner Rover
with cargo of brick in
Boat from USS Coru, Lieutenant T. S. Phelps, captured sloop Water Witch, abandoned the Previous day by Confederates above
and Hunley arrive in
and begin work on a new submarine, Pioneer
II. Realizing the limitations of a manually-powered submarine, they spend
many weeks experimenting with an electric motor and a steam engine to power the
vessel. Electric motors of sufficient power are known to be available in
cannot be smuggled through the lines. The team attempts to manufacture their own
motor, but cannot with their limited resources. The steam approach is similarly
discarded for unknown reasons.
6 USS Calhoun,
Lieutenant DeHaven, captured steamer Whiteman
Lieutenant J. Blakeley Creighton, captured schooner General C. C. Pinckney off
7 USS Wachusett,
Commander W. Smith, USS Chocura, and Sebago
escorted Army transports up the York River, supported the landing at West Point,
Virginia, and countered a Confederate attack with accurate gunfire. USS
Currituck, Acting Master William F.
Shankland, sent on a reconnaissance of the
by Smith on the 6th, captured American
Coaster and Planter the next day.
Shankland reported that some twenty schooners had been sunk and two gunboats
burned by the Confederates above
8 USS Monitor,
, Seminole, and Susquehanna by direction of the President"-shelled Confederate
batteries at Sewell's Point,
, as Flag Officer L. M. Goldsborough reported, ''mainly with the view of
ascertaining the practicability of landing a body of troops thereabouts" to
. Whatever rumors President Lincoln had received about Confederates abandoning
were now confirmed; a tug deserted from
and brought news that the evacuation was well underway and that CSS
, with her accompanying small gunboats, planned to proceed up the James or
. It was planned that when
came out, as she had on the 7th, the Union fleet would retire with USS
Monitor in the rear hoping to draw the
powerful but under-engined warship into deep water where she might be rammed by
high speed steamers. The bombardment uncovered reduced but considerable strength
at Sewell's Point.
came out but not far enough to be rammed. Two days later President Lincoln
wrote Flag Officer Goldsborough: "I send you this copy of your report of
yesterday for the purpose of saying to you in writing that you are quite right
in supposing the movement made by you and therein reported was made in
accordance with my wishes verbally expressed to you in advance. I avail myself
of the occasion to thank you for your courtesy and all your conduct, so far as
known to me, during my brief visit here.'' President Lincoln, acting as
Commander-in-Chief in the field at Hampton Roads, also directed Flag Officer
Goldsborough: "If you have tolerable confidence that you can successfully
contend with the Merrimack without the
help of the Galena and two
accompanying gunboats, send the Galena
and two gunboats up the James River at once'' to support General McClellan. This
wise use of power afloat by the President silenced two shore batteries and
forced gunboats CSS
Henry to return up the
Landing party from USS Iroquois, Commander James S. Palmer, seized arsenal and took
9 Captain Davis assumed temporary command of the Western Flotilla, relieving
Flag Officer Foote who was failing from the wound suffered at
. Foote had made a series of major contributions toward reopening the
"Father of Waters." In the words of Admiral Mahan: ''Over the birth
and early efforts of that little fleet he had presided; upon his shoulders had
fallen the burden of anxiety and unremitting labor which the early days of the
war, when all had to be created, everywhere entailed. He was repaid, for under
him its early glories were achieved and its reputation established."
President Lincoln himself, after talking to pilots and studying charts,
reconnoitered to the east-ward of Sewell's Point and found a suitably
unfortified landing site near Willoughby Point. The troops embarked in
transports that night. The next morning they landed near the site selected by
the President. The latter, still afloat, from his "command ship"
ordered USS Monitor to reconnoiter Sewell's Point to learn if the batteries were
still manned. When he found the works abandoned, President Lincoln ordered Major
General Wool's troops to march on
, where they arrived late on the afternoon of the 10th.
10 Norfolk Navy Yard set afire before being evacuated by Confederate forces in a
general withdrawal up the peninsula to defend Richmond. Union troops under Major
General Wool crossed Hampton Roads from
, landed at Ocean View, and captured
reoccupied by Union Army and Navy forces. Military installations in the area,
including the Navy Yard,
and McRee, CSS
, and an ironclad building on the
, were destroyed by the Confederates the preceding day before withdrawing.
reported to Secretary of the Navy Welles: "The rebels had done their work
completely. The yard is a ruin. Abandonment of the important
coastal area had been in preparation by the Confederates for months after Flag
Officer Foote's stunning successes on the upper
made redeployment of guns and troops necessary. Flag Officer Farragut's
momentous victory at
precipitated the final evacuation. Colonel Thomas M. Jones, CSA, commanding at
Pensacola, reported: "On receiving information that the enemy's gunboats
had succeeded in passing the forts below New Orleans with their powerful
batteries and splendid equipments, I came to the conclusion that, with my
limited means of defense, reduced, as I have been by the withdrawal of nearly
all my heavy guns and ammunition, I could not hold them in check or make even a
respectable show of resistance.''
Confederate River Defense Fleet CSS General
Bragg, General Sumter,
General Sterling Price,
General Earl Van
M. Jeff Thompson, General
Lovell, General Beauregard,
and Little Rebel--made a
spirited attack on Union gunboats and mortar flotilla at Plum Point Bend,
Tennessee. The Confederate fleet, Captain James E. Montgomery, attacked Mortar
Boat No. 16, stationed just above
and engaged in bombarding the works. USS Cincinnati,
Commander Stembel, coming to the mortar boat's defense, was rammed by Bragg
and sank on a bar in eleven feet of water. Van
Dorn rammed USS Mound
City, Commander Kilty, forcing her to run aground to avoid sinking. The
draft of the Confederate vessels would not permit them to press the attack into
the shoal water in which the Union squadron steamed, and, having sustained
various but minor injuries,
withdrew under the guns of
were quickly repaired and returned to service.
Lieutenant Collins, captured schooner Mary
Teresa attempting to run the blockade
Ironclad steamer USS New Ironsides launched at
blown up by her crew off
to avoid capture. The fall of
to Union forces denied
her base, and when it was discovered that she drew too much water to be brought
, Flag Officer Tattnall ordered the celebrated ironclad's destruction.
"Thus perished the
," Tattnall wrote, "and with her many high-flown hopes of naval
supremacy and success." For the Union, the end of
not only removed the formidable threat to the large base at
, but gave Flag Officer Goldsborough's fleet free passage up the
as far as Drewry's Bluff, a factor which was to save the Peninsular Campaign
from probable disaster.
USS Bainbridge, Commander Thomas
M. Brasher, captured schooner
at sea with cargo of turpentine and cotton.
Acting Master Charles W. Lamson, captured blockade running British schooner Julia
River, with cargo of cotton.
Commander Emmons, captured steamer Governor
A. Mouton off
12 U.S.S: Maratanza, Lieutenant
Stevens, and other gunboats made a reconnaissance of Pamunkey River in support
of an Army advance to the new supply base at White House, Virginia, within
twenty-two miles of Richmond.
Officers and crew of CSS
were ordered to report to Commander Farrand to establish a battery below
Drewry's Bluff on the left bank of the river to prevent the ascent of Union
gun-boats. The battery was to be organized and commanded by Lieutenant Catesby
ap R. Jones.
13 Confederate steamer Planter, with
her captain ashore in Charleston, was taken out of the harbor by an entirely
Negro crew under Robert Smalls and turned over to USS
Onward, Acting Lieu-tenant Nickels, of
the blockading Union squadron. "At 4 in the morning," Flag Officer Du
Pont reported,''. . . she left her wharf close to the Government office and
headquarters, with palmetto and Confederate flag flying, passed the successive
forts, saluting as usual by blowing her steam whistle. After getting beyond the
range of the last gun she quickly hauled down the rebel flags and hoisted a
white one . . . The steamer is quite a valuable acquisition to the squadron.
Du Pont added in a letter to Senator Grimes: "You should have heard his [Small's]
modest reply when I asked him what was said of the carry away of General
Ripley's barge sometime ago. He said they made a great fUSS
but perhaps they would make more 'to do' when they heard of the steamer having
been brought out.
Commander Palmer, and USS Oneida, Commander S. P. Lee, occupied
, as Flag Officer Farragut's fleet moved steadily toward
Acting Master W. D. Gregory, captured schooner Deer Island in
So with cargo of flour and rice.
Boat crew from USS Calhoun, Lieutenant DeHaven,
captured Confederate gunboat Cory moored in Bayou Bonfouca,
William Cheney takes delivery of
a submarine at the Tredegar Iron Works—possibly a larger version of the vessel
seen by Mrs. Baker. The craft has a “false bow”—perhaps an airlock for a
diver—several view ports, and may have used an electrically-detonated torpedo.
14 USS Calhoun, Lieutenant DeHaven, captured
with cargo of cotton.
15 James River Flotilla, including USS Monitor,
Galena, Aroostook, Port
Royal, and Naugatuck,
under Commander J - Rodgers encountered obstructions sunk across the river and
at close range hotly engaged sharpshooters and strong Confederate batteries,
manned in part by sailors and Marines, at Drewry's Bluff, Virginia. For his part
in the ensuing action, Corporal John B. Mackie, a member of Galena's Marine Guard, was cited for gallantry in a letter to
Secretary of the Navy Welles; in Department of the Navy General Order 17, issued
on 10 July 1863, Mackie was awarded the first Medal of Honor authorized a member
of the Marine Corps. In the bombardment,
was heavily damaged but, unsupported, Rodgers penetrated the James River to
within eight miles of
before falling back. Rodgers stated at this time that troops were needed to
take Drewry' s Bluff in the rear. Had this been done,
might well have fallen.
Foam, Acting Master Henry E. Williams, and USS
Matthew Vassar, Acting Master Hugh H. Savage, captured sloops Sarah
and New Eagle off Ship Island,
Mississippi, with cargo of cotton.
16 Union naval squadron under Commander S.P. Lee in USS
Oneida, advancing up the Mississippi
17 Joint expedition including USS Sebago,
Lieutenant Murray, and USS Currituck,
Acting Master Shankland, with troops embarked on transport Seth Low, at the
request of General McClellan ascended the Pamunkey River to twenty-five miles
above White House. Confederates burned seventeen vessels, some loaded with coal
and commissary stores. The river was so narrow at this point that the Union
gunboats were compelled to return stern foremost for several miles. General
McClellan reported that the ''expedition was admirably managed, and all
concerned deserve great credit.''
Commander Emmons, captured sloop Poody
18 Commander S.P. Lee submitted a demand from Flag Officer Farragut and General
Butler for the surrender of
; Confederate authorities refused and a year-long land and water assault on the
stronghold began. As Flag Officer Du Pont observed: "The object is to have
and the entire possession of the river in all its length and shores."
Acting Lieutenant Colhoun, and USS Shawsheen,
Acting Master Thomas J. Woodward, captured schooner G.
H. Smoot in Potecasi Creek, North Carolina.
20 Union gunboats occupied the
, and shelled Con-federate positions there. Flag Officer Du Pont reported to
Secretary of the Navy Welles: "The Unadilla,
, under Commander Marchand . . . succeeded in entering Stono and proceeded up
the river above the old Fort opposite Legareville. On their approach the
barracks were fired and deserted by the enemy . . . This important base of
operations, the Stono, has thus been secured for further operations by the army
Acting Master French, captured schooner Eugenia in Bennet's Creek,
21 Boat expedition from USS Hunchback,
Acting Lieutenant Colhoun, and USS Whitehead,
Acting Master French, captured schooner Winter
Shrub in Keel's Creek, North Carolina,
with cargo of fish.
, Commander Glisson, captured steamer Constitution
attempting to run the blockade at
Acting Master French, captured sloop Ella
D off Keel's Creek,
, with cargo of salt.
24 USS Bienville,
Commander Mullany, captured British blockade runner Stettin off
Acting Lieutenant Nathaniel Goodwin, and USS Bainbridge,
Commander Brasher, captured steamer Swan west of Tortugas with cargo of cotton
25 Confederate gunboat under command of Captain F. N. Bonneau, guarding the
bridge between James and
harbor, exchanged fire with Union gunboats. Captain Bonneau claimed several
hits on the gunboats.
26 Lieutenant Isaac N. Brown, CSN, ordered to take command of CSS
and "finish the vessel without regard to expenditure of men or money.
Captain Lynch after inspecting the unfinished ram reported to Secretary of the
Navy Mallory that: "the
is very inferior to the Merrimac[k]
in every particular. The iron with which she is covered is worn and indifferent,
taken from a railroad track, and is poorly secured to the vessel; boiler iron on
stern and counter; her smoke-stack is sheet iron." Nevertheless, with great
energy to overcome shortages and difficulties of every nature, Lieutenant Brown
, reinforced her bulwarks with cotton bales, and mounted a formidable armament
of 10 guns. Lieutenant George W. Gift, CSN, who served in the ship later
recorded that "within five weeks from the day we arrived at
, we had a man-of-war (such as she was) from almost nothing-the credit for all
of which belongs to Isaac Newton Brown, the commander of the vessel." A
number of Army artillerists volunteered to act as gunners on board the ram.
Captain T. T. Craven, and gunboats USS Kineo,
Lieutenant George M. Ransom, arid USS Katahdin,
Lieutenant Preble, shelled
Lieutenant Downes, captured British blockade runner Cambria off
USS Pursuit, Acting Lieutenant Cate, captured
schooner Andromeda near the coast of
with cargo of cotton.
27 USS Bienville,
Commander Mullany, seized blockade running British steamer Patras off Bull's Island, South Carolina, from Havana with cargo of
powder and arms.
de Cuba, Commander Ridgely, captured schooner Lucy C. Holmes off
with cargo of cotton.
28 USS State
of Georgia, Commander Armstrong, and USS Victoria,
Acting Master Joshua D. Warren, captured steamer Nassau
near Fort Caswell, North Carolina.
Assistant Secretary of the Navy Fox wrote
Senator Grimes: "I beg of you for the enduring good of the service, which
you have so much at heart, to add a proviso [to the naval bill] abolishing the
spirit ration and forbidding any distilled liquors being placed on board any
vessel belonging to, or chartered by the U. States, excepting of course, that in
the Medical Department. All insubordination, all misery, every deviltry on board
ships can be traced to rum. Give the sailor double the value or more, and he
will be content." Congressional Act approved 14 July 1862 abolished the
spirit ration in the Navy.
29 USS Keystone
State, Commander LeRoy, captured British blockade runner Elizabeth
Commander Mullany, captured blockade runners
, with cargo of salt and cigars, Rebecca,
with cargo of salt, and La Criola,
with cargo of provisions, off
30 An invoice is issued on this
date by the Tredegar Iron Works for “materials relating to the testing of an
underwater cannon.” Was Private Leavitt’s suggestion used on the Cheney
submarine or another vessel?
31 Commander Rowan, commanding USS Philadelphia,
reported the capture of schooner W. F.
State, Commander LeRoy, captured blockade running British schooner Cora
Samuel Eakins is appointed
“Superintendent” of de Villeroi’s submarine.
Boat from USS New London,
Lieutenant A. Read, captured yachts Comet
and Algerine near
men in two boats under Acting Master Samuel Curtis from USS Kingfisher,
while on an expedition up
, to obtain fresh water, were surprised by Confederate attackers; two were
killed and nine were captured.
USS Unadilla, Lieutenant Collins, USS Pembrine, E.B. Hale, Ellen, and Henry Andrew provided close gunfire
support for Army landings and operations on James Island, South Carolina.
USS Gem of the Sea, Lieutenant Baxter, captured blockade runner Mary
Stewart at the entrance to South
Santee River, South Carolina.
Montgomery, Lieutenant C. Hunter, captured a blockade running
British schooner Will-O’-the-Wisp
transferring powder and percussion caps to a lighter near the mouth of the
, on the
during the night of 4-5 June after sustaining prolonged bombardment by Union
gunboats and mortars. On 5 June the Union fleet under Captain Davis and
transports moved down the river to within two miles of
Tug assigned to USS Benton, Captain
Davis, captured steamer Sovereign near
Island No. 37 in the
set afire in Deadman’s Bay,
, to prevent her capture by USS Ezilda,
tender to USS Somerset, Lieutenant
USS Benton, Louisville, Carondelet,
St Louis, and Cairo
under Captain Davis, and rams Queen of the West and Monarch
under Colonel Charles Ellet, Jr., engaged Confederate River Defense Fleet, CSS Earl
Van Dorn, General Beauregard, General M.
Jeff Thompson, General Bragg, General
Sumter, General Sterling Price, and Little
Rebel under Captain Montgomery in the
Battle of Memphis. In the ensuing close action Queen of the West was rammed and Colonel Ellet mortally wounded. The
Confederate River Defense Fleet was destroyed; all ships, excepting Van
Dorn, were either captured, sunk, or
grounded on the river bank to avoid sinking.
surrendered to Captain Davis, and the pressure of relentless naval power had
placed another important segment of the
firmly under Union control
Pembina, Lieutenant Bankhead, seized schooner Rowena in
Lieutenant Wyman, commander of Potomac Flotilla, reported USS Anacostia
had captured sloop Monitor in
USS Wissahickon, Commander John DeCamp,
and USS Itasca, Lieutenant Caldwell,
shelled Confederate batteries at Grand Gulf, Mississippi; they were joined 10
June by gunboats USS Iroquois and Katahdin.
USS Penobscot, Lieutenant John M. B. Clitz, burned schooner Sereta,
grounded and deserted off
Secretary of the navy Welles wrote Senator John P. Hale, Chairman of the Senate
Naval Committee, and expressed his belief that the only security against any
foreign war was having a Navy second to none: “The fact that a radical change
has commenced in the construction and armament of ships, which change in effect
dispenses with the navies that have hitherto existed, is obvious, and it is a
question for Congress to decide whether the Government will promptly take the
initiatory step to place our country in the front rank of maritime powers . . .
Other nations, whose wooden ships-of-war far exceed our own in number, cannot
afford to lay them aside, but are compelled to plate them with iron at a very
heavy cost. They are not unaware of the disadvantage of this proceeding, but it
is a present necessity. It must be borne in mind, however, that those
governments which are striving for naval supremacy are sparing no expense to
strengthen themselves by building iron vessels, and already their dock-yards are
undergoing the necessary preparation for this change in naval architecture . .
a joint expedition up the Roanoke River to Hamilton, North Carolina, USS Commodore Perry, Lieutenant Flusser, accompanied by USS Shawsheen
and Ceres with troops embarked, came under small arms fire for two hours
from Confederates along the banks. Troops were landed at
without opposition where steamer Wilson was captured.
USS Susquehanna, Commander Robert B. Hitchcock, captured blockade runner
Princeton in the
Gulf of Mexico
Bainbridge, Commander Brasher, captured schooner Biagorry
with cargo of cotton in the
Gulf of Mexico
USS William G. Anderson, Acting Master N. D’Oyley, captured schooner
, moored in
tug Spitfire captured steamer Clara
USS Corwin, Lieutenant T. S. Phelps, captured schooner Starlight
Tahoma, Lieutenant John C. Howell, and USS Somerset, Lieutenant English, crossed the bar of St Marks River,
, and shelled the Confederate fort near the lighthouse for forty minutes. The
artillery company stationed there withdrew, and the sailors landed, destroyed
the battery, and burned the buildings used as barracks.
Officer Louis M. Goldsborough orders U.S.S. Satellite
to escort Fred Kopp as it tows the de Villeroi vessel south to the
. Although unofficial, the submarine has by now acquired a name—Alligator,
based probably on its coat of green paint and way that it moves through the
water, propelled by oars. Goldsborough steadfastly refuses to refer to it as
anything but “the submarine propeller.”
CSS Maurepas and steamers Eliza G.
and Mary Patterson were sunk in
, to obstruct the advance of Union gunboats.
Somerset, Lieutenant English, captured blockade running schooner Curlew
off Cedar Keys,
Joint expedition, made at the request of Major General Halleck to open Army
communications on the White River, under Commander Kilty in USS Mound
City, with USS St Louis,
, and Conestoga, and a regiment of
troops, engaged Confederate batteries at
took a direct hit at close range, exploding her steam drum and causing heavy
casualties. Covered by the gunboats, the troops landed and successfully stormed
the earthworks. This action gave control of the
to the Union fleet.
Blake, Superintendent of the U.S. Naval Academy, wrote Assistant Secretary of
the Navy Fox regarding the curriculum of the Academy: “To make the Academy a
school for engineers would require considerable changes in the Academic Course.
Descriptive geometry, which was struck out of it sometime since, should be
restored, for it is needed in the study and comprehension of machines. There
should also be an extension of the course of Analytical Geometry and Calculus,
by means of which many of the formulas relating to steam, and the steam engine,
are derived, and the course of drawing, which now embraces mechanical drawing to
some degree, should be extended. We should also have more chemistry.” Through
the years the
curriculum has been reviewed and revised to meet the demands of new technology
and new dimensions in sea power.
H. Davis appointed Flag Officer and Commander of U.S. Naval Forces on the
, relieving Flag Officer Foote.
had been in actual command since the departure of Foote on May 9. Secretary of
the Navy Welles congratulated Foote for the “series of successful actions
which have contributed so largely to the suppression of the rebellion throughout
, tender to USS Morning Light,
Acting Lieutenant Henry T. Moore, captured sloop
off Grant’s Pass,
, with cargo of rice and flour.
Buchanan, CSN, wrote to Lieutenant Catesby ap R. Jones about the destruction of
CSS Virginia: “I have great
confidence in my old friend Commodore Tatnall and cannot believe that he acted
without reflection, or was governed by any other motives than those in his
judgment told him was right . . . There is one thing very certain: The
destruction of Virginia saved
Richmond, for if you all had not been at the bluff [Drewry’s] Richmond would
have been shelled and perhaps taken.”
Maury, CSN, reported to Secretary of the Navy Mallory on his mining operations
near Chaffin’s Bluff in the
. Electric torpedoes (mines) made of boiler plate encased in watertight wooden
casks were planted with the assistance of CSS Teaser,
Lieutenant Davidson. Maury noted that one of the galvanic batteries had been
loaned for this service by the
by the Satellite, the Fred Kopp begins its tow of Alligator.
A note from Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles mentions a twenty-man crew and
the fact that the submarine carried two torpedoes
Commander Semmes wrote Secretary of the Navy Mallory: “It will doubtless be a
matter of delicacy and management to get
safely out of British waters without suspicion, as Mr. [Charles F.]
, the Northern envoy, and his numerous satellites are exceedingly vigilant in
their espionage. We can not, of course, think of arming her in a British port.
This must be done at some concerted rendezvous, to which her battery and most of
her crew must be sent in a merchant vessel . . . I think well of your suggestion
of the East Indies as a cruising ground, and hope to be in the track of the
enemy’s commerce in those seas as early as October or November next, when I
shall doubtless be able to make other rich ‘burnt offerings’ upon the altar
of our country’s liberties . . .”
Hunter Davidson, commanding CSS Teaser,
the first minelayer, ordered to relieve Commander Matthew F. Maury “in the
charge of devising, placing, and superintending submarine batteries in the
, and you will exercise your discretion as to the ways and means of placing
obstacles of this and any other character to oppose the enemy’s passage of the
Madgie, Acting master Frank B. Meriam, took 3,000 bushels of rice
from a vessel at Barrett’s Island, near
, and captured schooner Southern Belle above that city.
Beauregard, Acting Master David Stearns, seized blockade running
British schooner Lucy off Deadman’s
Keystone State, Commander
LeRoy, captured blockade running British schooner Sarah with cargo of cotton off
boats under command of Acting Master Theodore B. DuBois of USS Albatross
captured steam tug Treaty and schooner
Joint expedition under Lieutenant Rhind, USS Crusader,
with USS Planter in company, ascended
to Simmons Bluff,
. Lieutenant Rhind landed with troops and destroyed a Confederate encampment.
Bohio, Acting Master W. D. Gregory, captured sloop L.
Rebecca bound from
arrives in Hampton Roads.
24 The first
time in history that opposing naval forces had functioning submarines operating
in the same theater of war: Cheney’s submarine and Alligator, which is towed up the James on this date.
25 Alligator arrives at
, and is anchored near U.S.S.
Galena. The target of its first operation is the Petersburg Railroad bridge over
. An Army operation which will impact this mission also begin the following
day—The Seven Days’ Battles
26 General McClellan notified Flag Officer
L. M. Goldsborough that the urgency for safely bringing the provision transports
from the Pamunkey to the
was “a matter of vital importance and may involve the existence of the
Army.” A Confederate offensive had cut McClellan’s line of communications
with his main base at White House on the
Kensington, Acting Master Frederick Crocker, with mortar schooners Horace
Beals and Sarah Bruen,
proceeding towards Vicksburg, silenced a Confederate battery near Cole’s
Creek, Mississippi River.
Mount Vernon, Commander
Glisson, with USS Mystic and Victoria
chased a blockade runner Emily
standing in for
. Emily grounded and a boat crew commanded by Acting master W. N. Griswold from
boarded and destroyed he while under heavy fire from
USS Bohio, Acting Master W. D. Gregory, captured sloop Wave,
with cargo of flour.
Bienville, Commander Mullany, captured schooner Morning
Cambridge, Commander W. A. Parker, chased blockade runner Modern
Grace ashore off
, where she was subsequently destroyed with cargo of gunpowder, rifled cannon,
and other arms.
Flag Officer Farragut’s fleet, supported by mortar boats under
, successfully passed
while exchanging a heavy fire with Confederate batteries. Farragut was acting
under orders from President Lincoln to “clear the river.”
Officer Davis wrote Secretary of the Navy Welles: “Our recent experience in
the navigation of the White River has made it apparent that in order to acquire
control of the tributaries of the Mississippi, and to maintain that control
during the dry season, it will be necessary to fit up immediately some boats of
small draft for this special purpose. These boats will be sufficiently protected
about the machinery and pilot houses against musketry. They will be selected for
their light draft and their capacity to receive a suitable armament of
howitzers, field pieces, or other light guns, and to accommodate the requisite
number of men; and, finally, for their susceptibility of protection.”
Braziliera captured schooner Chance
with cargo of salt off
USS Marblehead, Lieutenant S.
Nicholson, and USS Chocura, Lieutenant
Thomas H. Patterson, in the Pamunkey River, supported Army withdrawal from White
House, Virginia, with gunfire and transport. Other Union gunboats escorted
transports and moved up the James and
in close support of General McClellan’s army.
USS Susquehanna, Commander Hitchcock, captured blockade running British
steamer Ana near
with cargo of arms and ammunition.
Rodgers sends Alligator back down the
James to Louis Goldsborough at Hampton Roads. Rodgers is very impressed with the
potential of the submarine (possibly as the result of spending time with Samuel
Eakins) but realizes immediately that the Appomattox River is far too shallow
for the Alligator to operate
in—shoal areas previously held by Union
fallen to the Confederates as General McClellan retreats, and Alligator would be easily seen and handily sunk or captured.
Although its mission cannot be fulfilled, Rodgers rightly understands the
potential for damage to the fleet were the vessel to be captured and turned
against the Navy.
Confederate troops fired on USS Lexington,
Lieutenant Shirk, on White River between
Major General McClellan, compelled to withdraw down the James and dependent upon
the Navy for gunfire support and transportation, reported: “I retreated from
Malvern to Haxall’s, and . . . went on board of Captain Roger’s gunboat USS
Galena to confer with him in reference to the condition of our supply vessels
and the state of things on the river. It was his opinion that it would be
necessary for the army to fall back to a position below City Point, as the
channel there would be so near the southern shore that it would not be possible
to bring up the transports should the enemy occupy it..
’s Landing was, in his opinion, the nearest suitable point.
. . . Concurring in his opinion, I selected
’s Bar as the new position of the army.” McClellan noted one of many
instances of invaluable naval support as the Confederates pressed to cut off the
Union movement to the river: “The rear of the supply trains and the reserve
artillery of the army reached Malvern Hill about 4p.m. At about this time the
enemy began to appear in General Fitz John Porter’s front, and at 5 o’clock
advanced in large force against his flank, posting artillery under cover of a
skirt of timber, with a view to engage our force on Malvern Hill. . . . The
gunboats rendered most efficient aid at this time, and helped drive back the
enemy.” Naval gunfire support was controlled through a system of liaison
in which “fall-of-shot” information was sent by Army signal personnel
ashore to Army signal personnel afloat in the gunboats by the Myer’s system of
Quaker City, Commander
Frailey, captured brig Model with
cargo of coal in the
Gulf of Mexico
Flag Officer DuPont
ordered USS South Carolina, Commander Almy, to join USS Wyandotte in blockading Mosquito Inlet near New Smyrna, Florida. The
inlet had become increasingly important to the Confederates as an unloading
point for blockade runners bringing arms from