Each year is divided into two halves (January through June and July through December)
|1861 January - June||1861 July - December|
|1862 January - June||1862 July - December|
|1863 January - June||1863 July - December|
|1864 January - June||1864 July - December|
|1865 January - April|
(718kb Zipped Word document)
War Naval Chronology 1861-1865
Published 1966 by Naval History Division
in blue are information concerning submarine warfare derived from Mark Ragan's
January - February - March - April - May - June
McClintock, Watson, and Hunley decide that the steam engine they had hoped to use to power their new submarine is inadequate; they return to a manually-turned screw propeller for Pioneer II.
1 Confederate warships under Major Leon Smith, CSA, defeated Union blockading
In the meantime,
The extensive use of Confederate torpedoes in the western waters required similar ingenuity on the part of Union forces to cope with them. Colonel Charles R. Ellet proposed a plan to clear the
3 USS Currituck, Acting Master Thomas J. Linnekin, captured sloop Potter between the mouths of the
Confederate commerce raiding schooner Retribution, Master Thomas B. Power, chased merchant ships Gilmore Meredith and Westward back into the harbor at
4 A joint Army-Navy expedition under Rear Admiral David D. Porter and Major General W. T. Sherman got underway up the White River,
Rear Admiral Samuel F. Du Pont wrote Charles Henry Davis regarding the Confederate defenses of Charleston : ''The work on the defenses of Charleston has never ceased since the fall of Sumter, some 20 long months under successive generals; and the man who commenced it [General Beauregard] is now giving the closing touches and I believe he has exhausted his science and applied every conceivable means. He is fully confident that he can successfully defend the harbor, and the British officers who go in, and the blockade runners whom we catch smile at the idea of its being taken, representing it stronger than Sebastopol. A deserter from
Referring to the proposed Union attack on Charleston, Du Pont said "I have always been of the opinion that it should be a joint operation, carefully devised-and I trust that I am not insensible to the honor of a naval capture-Though I am infinitely more alive to the absolute necessity of success than any special glory to our arm of service, or of personal distinction to myself. We cannot afford a failure in this crisis, political as well as military through which we are now passing-the more so, that desirable as the taking of Charleston is, the contest will still go on, until the rebel armies are broken and dispersed."
Major General Ulysses S. Grant wired Commander Alexander M. Pennock at
This date, Pennock received word from Army headquarters at
USS Quaker City, Commander James M. Frailey, captured sloop Mercury off
5 Boat crews from USS Sagamore, Lieutenant Commander Earl English, seized blockade running British sloop Avenger in
6 Confederate troops captured and burned steamboat Jacob MUSSelman near
Assistant Adjutant General John A. Rawlins, writing from
USS Pocahontas , Lieutenant Commander William M. Gamble, captured blockade runner Antona off
7 Confederate Secretary of the Navy Stephen R. Mallory wrote Commander James D. Bulloch in Liverpool regarding urgently needed ships to be built in
7-9 Joint Army-Navy expedition up the Pamunkey River destroyed boats, barges and stores at West Point and White House, Virginia. USS Mahaska and Commodore Morris, under Commander Foxhall A. Parker, supported the Army movement and convoyed transport May Queen. Rear Admiral Samuel P. Lee reported: "A more extensive enterprise was projected, but want of water at the obstructions prevented its full success; as a reconnaissance it is valuable.'' Major General Erasmus D. Keyes felt that ''the success of the land part of the expedition was largely indebted to Captain Parker's admirable management of his vessels. On this and many other occasions I have noticed the zeal and good judgment of that naval officer."
8 General Grant wired Commander Pennock in
USS Sagamore, Lieutenant Commander English, seized blockade running British sloop Julia off Jupiter Inlet with cargo of salt.
USS Tahoma, Lieutenant Commander Alexander A. Semmes, captured blockade runner Silas Henry, aground in
9 Boat crews from USS Ethan Allen, Acting Master Isaac A. Pennell, destroyed "a very large salt manufactory" south of
9-11 USS Baron De Kalb,
Porter's gunboats renewed the engagement the next morning, 11 January, when the Army launched its assault, and "after a well directed fire of about two and one-half hours every gun in the fort was dismounted or disabled and the fort knocked all to pieces. . ." Ram Monarch and USS Rattler and Glide, under Lieutenant Commander W. Smith, knifed upriver to cut off any attempted escape. Brigadier General Thomas J. Churchill, CSA, surrendered the fort--including some 36 defending Confederate naval officers and men after a gallant resistance to the fearful pounding from the gunboats. Porter wrote Secretary of the Navy Welles : "No fort ever received a worse battering, and the highest compliment I can pay those engaged is to repeat what the rebels said: 'You can't expect men to stand up against the fire of those gunboats.' "
After the loss of
10 Under orders from Farragut to ''reestablish the blockade as soon as you can" at
USS Octorara, Commander Napoleon Collins, captured blockade running British schooner Rising Dawn in North West Providence Channel with large cargo of salt.
CSS Retribution, Master Power, captured brig J. P. Ellicott, bound from
Confederate troops captured steamboat Grampus No. 2 near
USS Matthew Vassar, Acting Master Hugh H. Savage, captured schooner
13 Joint Army-Navy expedition from
USS Currituck, Acting Master Linnekin, captured schooner
14 Joint Army-Navy forces, including USS Kinsman, Estrella, Calhoun, and Diana, under Lieutenant Commander Thomas McK. Buchanan , attacked Confederate defenses in Bayou Teche, below
Joint expedition under Lieutenant Commander John G. Walker and Brigadier General Willis A. Gorman, including gunboats USS Baron De Kalb and
USS Columbia, Lieutenant Joseph P. Couthouy, ran aground on the coast of North Carolina High winds and heavy seas aborted initial attempts to get her off, and by the 17th, when the weather moderated,
15 President Lincoln conferred with Captain John A. Dahlgren at the Washington Navy Yard regarding gunpowder development in one of his frequent trips to the yard to observe tests and weapon progress.
USS Octorara, Commander Collins, seized blockade running British sloop Brave in North West Providence Channel,
Captain Semmes, with a keen interest in the advancement of scientific knowledge, recorded the following observation from on board CSS Alabama.' . . . the old theory of Dr. Franklin and others, was, that the Gulf Stream, which flows out of the Gulf of Mexico, between the north coast of Cuba, and the Florida Reefs and Keys, flows into the Gulf, through the channel between the west end of Cuba, and the coast of Yucatan, in which the Alabama now was. But the effectual disproof of this theory is, that we know positively, from the strength of the current, and its volume, or cross section, in the two passages, that more than twice the quantity of water flows out of the
USS Baron De Kalb, Lieutenant Commander J. G. Walker, arrived at Devall's Bluff,
17 USS Baron
18 Following the operations on the White River, Rear Admiral Porter once more turned his attentions to the Southern citadel at
Porter wrote Secretary Welles concerning the unsuccessful
USS Wachusett, Rear Admiral Charles Wilkes, and USS Sonoma, Commander Thomas H. Stevens, seized steamer Virginia off
USS Zouave, Pilot John A. Phillips, captured sloop J. C. McCabe in the
Confederate steamer Tropic accidentally caught fire and burned attempting to run the blockade at
Secretary Welles wired Commander Pennock in
This was one of several plans to get the Army transports downstream past
An intercepted letter from
21 CSS Josiah Bell and Uncle Ben, under Major Oscar M. Watkins, CSA, attacked and captured the small blockaders USS Morning Light, Acting Master John Dillingham, and Velocity, Acting Master Nathan W. Hammond, at
The ceaseless, if not always dramatic, operations of the Potomac Flotilla, Commodore Andrew A. Harwood, were continually evidenced by the maintenance of the blockade in the Potomac and Rappahannock Rivers area, where Confederates repeatedly attempted to smuggle goods from shore to shore. Union barges J.C. Davis and Liberty broke loose from their anchorage at Cornfield Harbor, Maryland, and drifted to Coan River, Virginia, where they were boarded this date and captured. Upon hearing of the incident, Acting Master Benjamin C. Dean, USS Dan Smith, ordered a cutter into Coan River ''to rescue the crews and recapture or destroy the boats." This was accomplished under Acting Ensign Francis L. Harris--an unnoticed act that typified the constant pressure that kept the South always on the defensive.
USS Ottawa, Lieutenant Commander William D. Whiting, captured schooner Etiwan off Charles-ton with cargo of cotton.
USS Chocura, Lieutenant Commander William T. Truxtun, seized blockade running British schooner Pride at sea east of Cape Romain, South Carolina, with cargo of salt.
USS Daylight, Acting Master Joshua D. Warren, forced a blockade running schooner (name unknown) aground off New Topsail Inlet, North Carolina, and destroyed her.
22 USS Commodore Morris, Lieutenant Commander James H. Gillis, keeping a constant vigil for contraband goods being carried on the river, seized oyster sloop John C. Calhoun, schooner Harriet, and sloop Music near Chuckatuck Creek, Virginia.
The chronic shortage of iron, as well as other critical materials, plagued the Confederacy throughout the conflict. The Secretary of War appointed a committee to determine what rail-road tracks could best be "dispensed with" in order to provide iron "for the completion of public vessels.''
CSS Florida, Lieutenant Maffitt, captured and burned brigs Windward and Corris Ann near Cuba.
23 USS Cambridge, Commander William A. Parker, captured schooner Time off Cape Fear, North Carolina, with cargo of salt, matches, and shoes.
24 Rear Admiral Porter reported his arrival at the mouth of the Yazoo River to Secretary Welles and noted the progress at Vicksburg: "The army is landing on the neck of land opposite Vicksburg. What they expect to do I don't know, but presume it is a temporary arrangement. I am covering their landing and guarding the Yazoo River. The front of Vicksburg is heavily fortified, and unless we can get troops in the rear of the city I see no chance of taking it at present, though we cut off all their supplies from Texas and Louisiana." Observing that his gunboats had trapped 11 Confederate steamers up the Yazoo obtaining provisions for Port Hudson, Porter wrote: "This will render the reduction of that place [Port Hudson] an easier task than it otherwise would have been, as there are no steamers on the river except two that will he kept at Vicksburg.''
With reference to the projected attack on Charleston, Rear Admiral Du Pont wrote Welles: "The Department is aware that I have never shrunk from assuming any responsibilities which circum-stances called for nor desired to place any failure of mine on others. But the interests involved in the success or failure of this undertaking strikes me as so momentous to the nation at home and abroad at this particular period that I am confident it will require no urging from me to induce the Department to put at my disposal every means in its power to insure success especially by sending additional ironclads, if possible, to those mentioned in your dispatch."
Secretary Mallory wrote President Davis rejecting a request that an Army officer be named to command Harriet Lane, captured at Galveston on 1 January, "over the heads of nine-tenths of the naval officers . . . even could it be done legally, which it cannot.
25 USS Currituck, Acting Master Linnekin, captured sloop Queen of the Fleet at Tapp's Creek, Virginia. On 30 January Commodore Harwood, commanding the Potomac Flotilla, advised Secretary Wells of the recent activity of Currituck. ''I enclose for the information of the Department," he reported, "a certificate of capture of a sloop and nine canoes, with thirteen prisoners and a quan-tity of contraband goods, by the Currituck. I have this day placed them in the hands of the civil authorities. All the captures have been made between the mouths of the Potomac and the Piankatank rivers. . . . These canoes were full of freight, which has been brought to the [Washington Navy] yard."
26 CSS Alabama, Captain Semmes, captured and burned bark Golden Rule off Haiti in the Caribbean Sea. Semmes noted in his log: "This vessel had on board masts, spars, and a complete set of rigging for the U.S. brig Bainbridge, lately obliged to cut away her masts in a gale at Aspinwall [Panama]." He later added: "I had tied up for a while longer, one of the enemy's gun-brigs, for want of an outfit. It must have been some months before the Bainbridge put to sea."
27 ironclad USS Montauk, Commander John L. Worden, and USS Seneca, Wissahickon, Dawn, and mortar schooner C. P. Williams engaged Confederate batteries at Fort McAllister, Georgia, on the Ogeechee River. Worden was acting under orders from Rear Admiral Du Pont to test the new ironclads; though McAllister was an important objective itself, Du Pont was primarily readying his forces for the spring assault on Charleston-for the success of which the Department relied greatly on the monitor class vessels. Worden, unable to proceed within close range of the fort because of formidable sunken obstructions which "from appearances" were "protected by torpedoes," engaged for four hours before withdrawing. Worden reported that the Confederate fire was "very fine, striking us quite a number of times, doing us no damage."
Du Pont wrote to Benjamin Gerhard: "The monitor was struck some thirteen or fourteen times, which would have sunk a gunboat easily, but did no injury whatever to the Montauk-speaking well for the impenetrability of those vessels though the distance was greater than what could constitute a fair test. But the slow firing, the inaccuracy of aim, for you can't see to aim properly from the turret . . . give no corresponding powers of aggression. . . . I asked myself this morning while quietly dressing, if one ironclad cannot take eight guns– how are five to take 147 guns in Charleston harbor."
CSS Alabama, Captain Semmes, captured and burned brig Chastelaine off Alta Vela in the Caribbean Sea. Chastelaine was en route to Cienfuegos, Cuba, to take on sugar and rum for delivery in Boston.
USS Hope, Master John E. Rockwell, seized blockade running British schooner Emma Tuttle off Charleston.
28 Secretary Welles noted that the official report of the 1 January Confederate attack at Galveston had not yet come in, but added: "Farragut has prompt, energetic, excellent qualities, but no fondness for written details or self-laudation; does but one thing at a time, but does that strong and well; is better fitted to lead an expedition through danger and difficulty than to command an extensive blockade; is a good officer in a great emergency, will more willingly take great risks in order to obtain great results than any officer in high position in either Navy or Army, and unlike most of them, prefers that others should tell the story of his well-doing rather than relate it himself."
USS Sagamore, Lieutenant Commander English, captured and destroyed blockade running British sloop Elizabeth at the mouth of Jupiter inlet, Florida.
29 USS Lexington, Lieutenant Commander Samuel L. Phelps, and other gunboats on the Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers continued to convoy Army transports and maintain supply lines. During one expedition between Cairo and Nashville, Phelps reported: "Meeting with a transport that had been fired upon by artillery 20 miles above Clarksville, I at once went to that point and, landing, burned a storehouse used by the rebels as a resort and cover. On leaving there to descend to Clarksville, where I had passed a fleet of thirty-one steamers with numerous barges in tow, convoyed by three light-draft gunboats under Lieutenant Commander [LeRoy] Fitch, Lexington was fired upon by the enemy, who had two Parrott guns, and struck three times, but the rebels were quickly dislodged and dispersed. I then returned to Clarksville and, agreeable to the arrangement already made by Lieutenant Commander Fitch, left that place at midnight with the whole fleet of boats, and reached Nashville the following night [30 January] without so much as a musket shot having been fired upon a single vessel of the fleet. Doubtless the lesson of the previous day had effected this result."
Rear Admiral Du Pont continued to experiment with the ironclads in hopes of improving their efficiency. The smokestack of USS New Ironsides, Captain Thomas Turner, was cut to within 4 feet of the deck to leave the line of sight ahead entirely clear, rather than partially obstructed. The problems created were greater than those solved. Turner reported that". . . the alteration can not be made without seriously impairing the efficiency of this ship in action . . .I am inclined to believe that under any circumstances, enduring for several hours with the smokestack down the whole ship would be so filled with gas as to create much suffering and partially to disable the crew, and that it might hazard the chances of a successful expedition." Du Pont ordered the smokestack restored. "So," he wrote, "we will have to go it blind . . . If we don't run ashore going in, it will be because God is with us.
USS Brooklyn, Commodore H. H. Bell, with gunboats USS Sciota, Owasco, and Katahdin, tested Confederate batteries under construction at Galveston. He learned that two of the fort's guns were capable of firing past the squadron-more than 2 1/2 miles.
USS Unadilla, Lieutenant Commander Stephen P. Quackenbush, seized British blockade runner Princess Royal attempting to run into Charleston with cargo of arms, ammunition, and two steam engines for ironclads. ''The P[rincess] R[oyal]," Du Pont wrote, ''we have had on our list, traced her through consular reports from the Thames to Halifax, etc. She has a valuable cargo.
30 USS Isaac Smith, Acting Lieutenant Francis S. Conover, conducted an expedition up the Stono River, South Carolina. Above Legareville, on her return, she was caught in a heavy cross fire, forced aground, and captured by the Confederates. USS Commodore McDonough, Lieutenant Commander George Bacon, attempted without success to prevent the capture.
USS Commodore Perry, Lieutenant Commander Charles W. FlUSSer, on a joint expedition with Army troops, landed at Hertford, North Carolina, and destroyed two bridges over the Perquimans River. As a result of the successful mission, FlUSSer reported: ''There are now no bridges remaining on the Perquimans, so that the goods sent from Norfolk to the enemy on the south side of the Chowan (by whom they are conveyed to Richmond) have to be passed over a ford, and the roads leading from that ford can be guarded by the troops at Winfield." Three days later (2 February), Commodore Perry anchored at the mouth of the Yeopim River; two boats were sent into the river and succeeded in capturing three Confederate small boats. Two of the captures contained cargoes including salt. The constant harassment and interruption of supply lines through the Union Navy's control of the waterways hurt the Confederacy sorely.
Grant informed Porter of a plan to cut a canal through Lake Providence, Louisiana, to effect the passage of troops to the rear of Vicksburg. "By enquiry," he wrote, "I learn that Lake Providence, which connects with Red River through Tensas Bayou, Washita [Ouachita] and Black rivers, is a wide and navigable way through. As some advantage may be gained by opening this, I have ordered a brigade of troops to be detailed for the purpose, and to he embarked as soon as possible. I would respectfully request that one of your light-draft gunboats accompany this expedition." Porter immediately ordered USS Linden, Acting Master Thomas E. Smith, to cooperate with General Grant. The Admiral later noted of this operation: "Several transports were taken in, but there were miles of forest to work through and trees to be cut down. The swift current drove the steamers against the trees and injured them so much that this plan had to be abandoned."
31 Under Flag Officer Duncan N. Ingraham, rams CSS Chicora, Commander John R. Tucker, and CSS Palmetto State, Lieutenant John Rutledge, attacked the Union blockading fleet off Charleston early in the morning in a fog. Palmetto State rammed USS Mercedita, Captain Stellwagen, and fired into her, forcing the gunboat to strike her colors in a "sinking and perfectly defenseless condition." Chicora engaged USS Keystone State, Commander William E. LeRoy, severely crippling her before USS Memphis, Captain Pendleton G. Watmough, took her in tow "in a sinking condition." Commander LeRoy reported: "Our steam chimneys being destroyed, our motive power was lost and our situation became critical. There were 2 feet of water in the ship and leaking badly, water rising rapidly, the forehold on fire. . . . I regret to report our casualties as very large, some 20 killed and 20 wounded." USS Quaker City was damaged by a shell "which,'' Commander Frailey reported, ''entered this vessel amidships about 7 feet above the water line, cutting away a portion of the guard beam and a guard brace, and thence on its course through the ship's side, exploding in the engine room, carrying away there the starboard entablature brace, air-pump dome, and air-pump guide rod, and making sad havoc with the bulk-heads." USS Augusta, Commander Enoch G. Parrort, took a shot "in the port side, passing a little above our boiler.'' USS Housatonic, Captain William R. Taylor, engaged the two rams before they withdrew toward Charleston harbor. General P. G. T. Beauregard, who claimed in vain that the blockade had been broken, wrote Flag Officer Ingraham: "Permit me to congratulate you and the gallant officers and men under your command for your brilliant achievement of last night, which will be classed hereafter with those of the Merrimack and Arkansas."
Major General Horatio G. Wright wrote Commander Pennock in Cairo and noted "the importance to the army service of keeping the line of the Cumberland River between its mouth and Nashville constantly open to the use of our steam transports, and requested that he ''assign to that portion of the river an ironclad gunboat, plated with sufficiently heavy iron to resist field artillery, to assist in the above object." Recognizing the Army's dependence on the gunboats, Pennock and the gunboat commanders had complied with the request before it was made. Lexington had been added to the naval forces in the River, and, the same date that Wright was making his request of Pennock, Lieutenant Commander Fitch was advising from Smithland, Kentucky, that: "The Robb joined me yesterday at this place. Nothing very serious up Tennessee River. Have sent the Robb and St. Clair to Paducah to bring up our coal barge. . . Have another large convoy to take to Nashville and one to bring down. No danger of either being blockaded by the rebels."
CSS Retribution, Master Power, captured schooner Hanover, in West Indian waters.
Pioneer II is launched in
1 Ironclad USS Montauk, Commander Worden, with USS Seneca, Wissahickon, Dawn, and mortar schooner C. P. Williams, again tested the defenses of Fort McAllister described by Rear Admiral Du Pont as "rather a thorn in my flesh." On the 28th of January, Worden had learned, through "a contraband," the position of the obstructions and torpedoes which bad effectively blocked his way in the assault of 27 January. "This information," Worden reported," with the aid of the contraband, whom I took on board, enabled me to take up a position nearer the fort in the next attack. . . "
Ammunition supplies replenished, Montauk moved to within 600 yards of McAllister in the early morning; the gunboats took a position one and three-quarters miles below the fort. Worden opened fire at 7:45 a.m., and reported at ''7:53 a.m. our turret was hit for the first time during this action at which time the enemy were working their guns with rapidity and precision. The Confederate fire was concentrated on the ironclad, which took some 48 hits in the 4-hour engagement.
Colonel Robert H. Anderson, commanding Fort McAllister, paid tribute to the accuracy of the naval gunfire: ''The enemy fired steadily and with remarkable precision. Their fire was terrible. Their mortar fire was unusually fine, a large number of their shells bursting directly over the battery. The ironclad's fire was principally directed at the VIII- inch columbiad, and the parapet in front of this gun was so badly breached as to leave the gun entirely exposed."
General Beauregard added: ''For hours the most formidable vessel of her class hurled missiles of the heaviest caliber ever used in modern warfare at the weak parapet of the battery, which was almost demolished; but, standing at their guns, as became men fighting for homes, for honor, and for independence'. the garrison replied with such effect as to cripple and beat back their adversary, clad though in impenetrable armor and armed with XV and XI inch guns, supported by mortar boats whose practice was of uncommon precision.
Rear Admiral Porter wrote Secretary Welles : "I have the honor to report that, hearing that there was a lot of cotton at Point Chicot, on the Mississippi, belonging to the so-called Confederate Government, and that the agents were moving it back into the country or about to burn it, I sent up the ram Monarch, Colonel Ellet, and the Juliet, Acting Lieutenant [Edward] Shaw, and seized 250 bales, which I now have and am using to protect the boilers of those vessels that are vulnerable. There are now altogether 300 bales in the squadron, which I recommend should be sold when no longer needed and the proceeds placed in the Treasury. All cotton on the river
belongs to the rebel Government, and on that they depended to carry on the war. I recommend that it be all seized and sold for the benefit of the Government. There is authority enough on record to justify me in taking cotton under certain circumstances, but not enough to take it in all cases. Eight thousand bales will pay the expenses of the squadron per year, and I think there will be no difficulty in obtaining that amount when Colonel Ellet gets his brigade ready and we can penetrate some 6 or 8 miles into the interior, where it is all stowed away.''
Captain Percival Drayton reconnoitered the Wilmington River, Georgia, with USS Passaic and Marblehead. He reported to Du Pont: ". . . I went within sight of Wassaw or Thunder-bolt, and two and a quarter miles distant when I was stopped by shallow water. . . . The Batteries were very extensive, and large bodies of troops drawn up on the shore. I was not fired on although quite within range; a battery which is about a mile nearer than ones I saw, was covered by the wood and I was not high enough to open it. I saw two small steamers but nothing that looked like the Fingal.'' Du Pont's ships were constantly active, enabling the Union forces to prevent the Confederates from launching a decisive counteroffensive along the South Atlantic coast.
USS Two Sisters, Acting Master William A. Arthur, seized sloop Richards from Havana off Boca Grande, Mexico.
USS Tahoma, Lieutenant Commander A. A. Semmes, and USS Hendrick Hudson, Lieutenant David Cate, captured blockade running British schooner Margaret off St. Petersburg.
2 Ram USS Queen of the West, Colonel C. R. Ellet, attacked Confederate steamer City of Vicksburg, which lay under the batteries of that citadel. Ellet had hoped to get underway to make the attack before daybreak, but the necessity of readjusting the wheel put the engagement off until it was fully light and "any advantage which would have resulted from the darkness was lost to us." The Confederates opened a heavy fire on Queen of the West as she approached the city, but succeeded in hitting her only three times before she reached the steamer. Ellet reported: ''Her position was such that if we had run obliquely into her as we came down the bow of the Queen would inevitably have glanced. We were compelled to partially round to in order to strike. The consequence was that at the very moment of collision the current, very strong and rapid at this point, caught the stern of my boat, and, acting on her bow as a pivot, swung her around so rapidly that nearly all her momentum was lost."
Having anticipated this eventuality, Ellet had ordered the starboard gun shotted with incendiary shell, which now set City of Vicksburg aflame, though this was rapidly extinguished by the Confederates. City of Vicksburg fired into Queen of the West, which had bulwarks of cotton built up around her sides and one shell set the ram afire near the starboard wheel; meanwhile, the discharge of her own gun set Queen in flames in the bow. "The flames spread rapidly and the dense smoke rolling into the engine room suffocated the engineers. I saw that if I attempted to run into the City of Vicksburg again that my boat would certainly be burned. . . . After much exertion, we finally put the fire out by cutting the burning bales loose." Queen of the West then steamed downstream under orders to destroy all Confederate vessels encountered.
Unable to ascend the Big Black River because of the narrowness of the stream, Ellet continued down the Mississippi. On 3 February, below the mouth of the Red River, he met Confederate steamer A. W. Baker coming up river. Baker, "not liking the Queen's looks," ran ashore but was captured. She had just delivered her cargo to Port Hudson and was returning for another. Ellet had placed a guard on board when another steamer, Moro, was seen coming down stream. "A shot across her bows," Ellet reported, "brought her to laden with 110,000 pounds of pork, nearly 500 hogs, and a large quantity of salt, destined for the rebel army at Port Hudson."
Running short of coal, Ellet turned back upriver, destroying 25,000 pounds of meal awaiting transportation to Port Hudson. Stopping at the mouth of the Red River to release the civilians captured on Baker and Moro, he also seized steamer Berwick Bay. She, too, carried a large cargo for Port Hudson: 200 barrels of molasses, 10 hogsheads of sugar, 30,000 pounds of flour, and 40 bales of cotton. Ellet ordered his prizes destroyed and returned to his position below Vicksburg. Some $200,000 worth of property had been destroyed by Queen of the West.
Of the intrepid Ellet, Porter remarked: "I can not speak too highly of this gallant and daring officer. The only trouble I have is to hold him in and keep him out of danger. He will under-take anything I wish him to without asking questions, and these are the kind of men I like to command." This was one of a series of important operations that seriously disrupted Confederate supply channels and built up to the eventual fall of Vicksburg in mid-summer.
CSS Alabama experienced a fire on board which was rapidly extinguished but which prompted Captain Semmes to write: ''The fire-bell in the night is sufficiently alarming to the landsman, but the cry of fire at sea imports a matter of life and death--especially in a ship of war, whose boats are always insufficient to carry off her crew, and whose magazine and shell-rooms are filled with powder, and the loaded missiles of death."
USS Mount Vernon , Lieutenant James Trathen, drove blockade running schooner Industry aground off New Topsail Inlet, North Carolina, and burned her.
3 The long, tortuous Army-Navy operation against Fort Pemberton at Greenwood, Mississippi, was begun with the opening of the levee at Yazoo Pass to gain access to the Yazoo River above Haynes' Bluff and reach Vicksburg from the rear. The next day Acting Master G. W. Brown, of USS Forest Rose, which was standing by to enter the opening, reported that "the water is gushing through at a terrible rate. . . . After cutting two ditches through and ready for the water, we placed a can of powder (so pounds) under the dam, which I touched off by means of three mortar fuzes joined together. It blew up immense quantities of earth, opening a passage for the water, and loosened the bottom so that the water washed it out very fast. We then sunk three more shafts, one in the entrance of the other ditch, and the other two on each side of the mound between the two ditches, and set them off simultaneously, completely shattering the mound and opening a passage through the ditch. . . . [creating] a channel 70 or 75 yards wide. It is thought that it will be at least four or five days before we can enter.'' The plan of attack called for gunboats and Army transports to go through the Pass into Moon Lake, down the Coldwater and Tallahatchie Rivers to the Yazoo, take Pemberton, effect the capture of Yazoo City, and proceed down to assault Vicksburg on its less strongly defended rear flanks.
USS Lexington, Fairplay, St. Clair, Brilliant, Robb, and Silver Lake, under Lieutenant Commander Fitch, supported Army troops at Fort Donelson and repulsed a Confederate attack at that point. Proceeding up the Cumberland River on convoy duty from Smithfield, Kentucky, Fitch's squadron met steamer Wild Cat coming down river some 24 miles below Dover, Tennessee, bearing a message from Colonel Abner C. Harding, commanding at Donelson, which reported that he was being assaulted in force by Confederate troops. Fitch pushed his squadron "on up with all possible speed" and arrived in the evening to find the defending troops "out of ammunition and entirely surrounded by the rebels in overwhelming numbers, but still holding them in check." Not expecting the presence of the gunboats, the Confederates had taken a position which enabled the mobile force afloat to rake them effectively with a telling fire from the guns. "The rebels were so much taken by surprise," Fitch reported, "that they did not even fire a shot, but immediately commenced retreating. So well directed was our fire on them that they could not even carry off a caisson that they had captured from our forces, but were compelled to abandon it, after two fruitless attempts to destroy it by fire.'' Fitch then stationed his vessels to prevent the return of the Southern forces.
CSS Alabama, Captain Semmes, captured and burned at sea schooner Palmetto, bound from New York to San Juan, Puerto Rico, with cargo of provisions. Of the chase of Palmetto, Semmes said: "It was beautiful to see how the Alabama performed her task, working up into the wind's eye, and overhauling her enemy, with the ease of a trained courser coming up with a saddle-nag."
USS Sinoma, Commander Stevens, captured blockade running British bark Springbok off the Bahamas.
3-8 USS Tyler, Lieutenant Commander James M. Prichett, patrolled the Yazoo River and confiscated 113 bales of cotton. This was in keeping with Porter's plan to seize all Confederate cotton for the dual purpose of preventing its being shipped out through the blockade and to protect the vessels of his Mississippi Squadron. Porter advised Secretary Welles: ''Three hundred more bales are in my possession, captured from rebel parties, but I am using it at present for protecting the boilers of the different boats. When no longer needed, I will forward it to Cairo."
4 Rear Admiral Du Pont wrote Major General David Hunter: ''Among the defects in matters of detail on the ironclads is the absence of all means of making the navy signals. . . . It has been suggested to me, however, that the army code, which we have on various occasions found so useful, might be employed at times on these vessels from the side not engaged or exposed at the moment. In order to effect this, I propose, if agreeable to you, that several of the young officers of the squadron should be instructed in the code, and will be greatly obliged if you will issue the necessary orders, with such restrictions as may be required." Du Pont added, ''I learn the code now forms part of the instruction at the Naval Academy." Hunter replied in the usual spirit of cooperation: "It will afford me sincere pleasure to comply with your request in regard to the army signal code, orders having been already issued to the chief signal officer of this Department to furnish all requisite facilities and instruction to such of your officers as you may assign to this service."
USS New Era, temporarily under Acting Ensign William C. Hanford, captured steamer W. A. Knapp with cargo of cloth at Island No. 10.
6 Rear Admiral Porter ordered Lieutenant Commander W. Smith to command the expedition through Yazoo Pass aimed at the capture of Yazoo City as part of the planned move on Vicksburg: "You will proceed with the Rattler and Romeo to Delta, near Helena, where you will find the Forest Rose engaged in trying to enter the Yazoo Pass. You will order the Signal, now at White River, to accompany you; and if the Cricket comes down while you are at Delta, detain her also, or the Linden. . . . Do not engage batteries with the light vessels. The Chillicothe will do the fighting." To this force was later added USS Baron De Kalb and Marmora and towboat S. Bayard in lieu of Cricket and Linden. "If this duty is performed as I expect it to be," Porter wrote, ''we will strike a terrible blow at the enemy, who do not anticipate an attack from such a quarter.
Lieutenant Commander Thomas O. Selfridge, USS Conestoga, reported intelligence gathered from a reconnaissance mission one of many which the Navy conducted to facilitate precise planning and preparation for future operations. From the information gathered by Lieutenant [Cyrenius] Dominy, of the Signal, I should judge the rebels have no heavy guns in the river up to Little Rock. A passenger told him that after the capture of the post [Arkansas Post] the gunboats were daily expected, but the idea was now generally given up. The [Confederate] ram Pontchartrain has not had steam up for some time. Some men are still at work upon her. She requires a good deal of pumping to keep her free. She has as yet no guns. She has no officers of consequence. . . She is represented as being casemated with 20 inches of wood and railroad iron to abaft her wheels. [Thomas C.] Hindman is represented with 16,000 troops at Little Rock, [James] McCullough with 6,000 at Pine Bluff fortifying, [John S.] Marmaduke with 3,000 cavalry at Dardanelle. These numbers are greatly overestimated as effective troops, as Little Rock is represented as full of sick soldiers.'' Selfridge also proposed an immediate attack on Little Rock and the destruction of the ram. Though his plan was not followed, both his aims were achieved during the year; Little Rock was occupied on 10 September and Pontchartrain was de-stroyed by the Confederates to prevent her capture. The Union's ability to move on the river highways in Arkansas, as elsewhere, pinned down Confederate strength and caused constant loss.
7 Rear Admiral Porter reported to Secretary Welles: " Vicksburg was by nature the strongest place on the river, but art has made it impregnable against floating batteries-not that the number of guns is formidable, but the rebels have placed them out of our reach, and can shift them from place to place in case we should happen to annoy them (the most we can do) in their earthworks. . . . The people in Vicksburg are the only ones who have as yet hit upon the method of defending themselves against our gunboats, viz, not erecting water batteries, and placing the guns some distance back from the water, where they can throw a plunging shot, which none of our ironclads could stand. I mention these facts to show the Department that there is no possible hope of any success against Vicksburg by a gunboat attack or without an investment in the rear of the city by a large army. We can, perhaps, destroy the city and public buildings, but that would bring us no nearer the desired point (the opening of the Mississippi) than we are now. . . . The fall of Vicksburg came only after a long combined land and water siege and attack as Porter indicated.
USS Forest Rose, Acting Master G. 'V. Brown, succeeded in entering Yazoo Pass and proceeded into Moon Lake as far as the mouth of the Old Pass. Brown learned that Confederates were obstructing Coldwater River by felling trees across it. He reported another difficulty to Porter: ''We cannot enter the pass with this boat until the trees are trimmed and some of the overhanging trees cut down." The density of the woods would slow the vessels greatly and damage the smokestacks and upper works severely.
In a letter to Secretary Mallory , a daring plan for a raiding expedition on the Great Lakes was proposed by Lieutenant William H. Murdaugh, CSN. Four naval officers would make their way to Canada and purchase a small steamer, man her with Canadians, and reveal the object of the cruise only when underway'. The crew was to be armed with revolvers and cutlasses. The steamer was to carry torpedoes, explosives, and incendiary materials.
At Erie, Pennsylvania, Murdaugh planned to carry USS Michigan by boarding, and then advance on Lake Ontario through the Welland Canal to destroy locks and shipping. The scheme was to pass through Lake Huron into Lake Michigan, "and make for the great city of Chicago. At Chicago burn the shipping and destroy the locks of the Illinois and Michigan Canal, connecting Lake Michigan and the Mississippi River. Then turn northward, and, touching at Milwaukee and other places, Pass again into Lake Huron, go through the Sault St. Marie, and destroy the lock of the Canal of that name. Then the vessel could be run into Georgian Bay, at the bottom of which is a railway connecting with the main Canadian lines, and be run ashore and destroyed." The bold venture was approved by the Navy Department, but, as Lieutenant Murdaugh wrote, President Davis believed that ''it would raise such a storm about the violation of the neutrality laws that England would be forced to stop the building of some ironclads and take rigid action against us everywhere. So the thing fell through and with it my great chance."
Commander Ebenezer Farrand, CSN, reported to Governor John G. Shorter of Alabama the successful launching of ironclads CSS Tuscaloosa and Huntsville at Selma, ''amid enthusiastic cheering.'' Both warships were taken to Mobile .
USS Glide, Acting Ensign Charles B. Dahlgren , was destroyed accidentally by fire at Cairo, Illinois.
8 USS Commodore McDonough, Lieutenant Commander Bacon, and an Army transport reconnoitered the Stono and Folly Rivers, South Carolina, at the request of Major General John G. Foster and "discovered that the enemy had not taken advantage of our absence to erect any new batteries."
9 Illustrative of the continuing, vital importance of the inland rivers was the report of Lieutenant Commander Fitch, commanding USS Fairplay, from Smithfield, Kentucky: "I have the honor to report my return from Nashville, having landed in safety at that place with some 45 steamers. This makes 73 steamers and 16 barges we have convoyed safely to Nashville since the river has been navigable for our boats."
Rear Admiral Du Pont wrote Secretary Welles of the difficulties in obtaining logistical support for his blockading squadron a major problem for all naval commanders: "Our requisitions for general stores, I have reason to believe, are immediately attended to by the bureaus in the Department but there seem to be unaccountable obstacles to our receiving them. . . We have been out of oil for machinery. Coal is not more essential . . . We were purchasing from transports or wherever it could be found, two or three barrels at a time. Finally the Union came with some, but it was stored under her cargo and the captain wished to defer its delivery until his return from the Gulf, which, however, I would not allow. The vessel was to have brought important parts of the ration, such as sugar, coffee, flour, butter, beans and dried fruit with clothing but she did not. The articles named are exhausted on the store ships of this squadron. My commanding officers complain that their wants are not supplied, and I have been so tried by the increasing demands for articles which I could not supply that I can defer no longer addressing the Department on the subject."
USS Couer de Lion, Acting Master Charles H. Brown, captured blockade running schooner Emily Murray off Machodoc Creek, Virginia, with cargo of lumber, sugar, and whiskey.
10 Confederate troops disabled ram Dick Fulton at Cypress Bend, Arkansas, by gunfire.
11 Rear Admiral Porter was continually concerned with supply problems. He wrote Commander Pennock at Cairo: ''As circumstances occur I have to change the quantity of coal required here and find it impossible to hit upon any particular quantity. It is likely that we shall want a large amount, and I want a stack of 160,000 bushels sent to the Yazoo River, besides the monthly allowance already required, viz, 70,000 bushels here, 40,000 at White River and 20,000 at Memphis." Stressing the need to have logistic support rapidly available for his mobile forces, Porter added: "You will also have the Abraham filled up with three months' provisions and stores for the squadron, or as much as she can carry, and keep her ready at all times with her machinery in order and in condition to move at a moment's notice to such point as I may designate. Circumstances may occur when it will be necessary to move the wharf boat, and you will arrange for the most expeditious plan to do so. . . . You will see from what I have written the importance of carrying out my order to the letter, for much depends on my being in such a position with the squadron that I can not be hampered, and can be in a condition to move where I please."
In the North,
the Permanent Commission is founded to evaluate all plans and inventions
submitted to the Navy Department
12 As on the East Coast and on the western waters at and above Vicksburg, great demands were placed on Farragut's fleet in the lower Mississippi and along the Gulf coast. Farragut observed: ''Everyone is calling on me to send them vessels, which reminds me of the remark of the musician, 'It is very easy to say blow! blow! but where the devil is the wind to come from?'
Starting to visit his blockading units at Ship Island, Mobile, and Pensacola, Farragut was called back to New Orleans by conditions at Vicksburg. He wrote Secretary Welles:'' . . . I have the same appeal made to me from all quarters, viz, for more force. The ships are all out of coal, and the enemy threatens to attack us. The Susquehanna has kept on the blockade, to my astonishment. I had hoped that the Colorado would have been here to relieve her before this. My force in this river is reduced to the fixed force of the Pensacola and Portsmouth and the Hartford, Richmond, Essex, and three gunboats, viz, Kineo, Albatross, and Winona. This is a very small force to give protection to the river commerce and be ready to pass or attack the batteries on the river. Commodore H. H. Bell does not think it prudent to leave Galveston without a ship, and Commodore [Robert B.] Hitchcock does not think it proper to leave Mobile without a ship, as the enemy have doubtless a much stronger force inside than we have outside. Still, they would not come out except on a very calm day. The moment that I can withdraw a ship from the river I will do so, as the gunboats will be all-sufficient when Port Hudson and Vicksburg are taken and the other high points on the river occupied to prevent the enemy from fortifying them."
USS Queen of the West, Colonel C. R. Ellet, steamed up Red River and ascended Atchafalaya River where a landing party destroyed twelve Confederate Army wagons. That night, Queen of the West was fired on near Simmesport, Louisiana, Next day, Ellet returned to the scene of the attack and destroyed all the buildings on three adjoining plantations in reprisal. The vessel had previously run below Vicksburg to disrupt Confederate trade in the Red River area.
Lincoln conferred with Assistant Secretary Fox on the projected naval assault on Charleston . Two days later, the President discUSSed ammunition for the ironclads to be used against that port with Captain Dahlgren. Lincoln was reported to be "restless about Charleston."
CSS Florida, Lieutenant Maffitt, captured ship Jacob Bell in West Indian waters, bound from Foo-Chow, China, to New York with cargo of tea, firecrackers, matting, and camphor valued at more than $2,000,000. Jacob Bell was burned on the following day.
USS Conestoga, Lieutenant Commander Selfridge, seized steamers Rose Hambleton and Evansville off White River, Arkansas.
13 USS Indianola, Lieutenant Commander George Brown, ran past the batteries at Vicksburg to join USS Queen of the West in blockading the Red River. Rear Admiral Porter's instructions to Brown added: "Go to Jeff Davis' plantation load up with all the cotton you can find and the best single male Negroes." Towing two barges filled with coal, Indianola steamed slowly past the upper batteries undetected. Abreast the point, Indianola was sighted and a heavy fire opened upon her without effect.
Lieutenant Commander W. Smith, commanding the light draft expedition into Yazoo Pass, arrived at 'Helena, Arkansas. Porter ordered USS Baron De Kalb Lieutenant Commander J. G. Walker, to join the forces. Unable to enter the pass with his vessels, Smith observed: "A heavy army force is clearing this, which in places at turns, may not admit of our vessels getting through. Our force takes the trees from the stream while the rebels on the other end cut them from both sides to fall across. The army is expected to be through with this pass in one week."
Commander A. Ludlow Case, USS Iroquois, reported the steady strengthening of Confederate positions in the Wilmington area. Noting that they were "working like beavers," Case wrote: "From their apparent great energy I am induced to believe that in the event of our capture of Charleston this is to be the point for the blockade runners. . . . They now have four casemated batteries west of Fort Fisher completed and a fifth nearly so, each mounting two or three guns, built of heavy framework, and covered deeply with sand and sodded. . . . The defenses are much more formidable and much more judiciously arranged, on account of detached batteries, than those at the South Bar, Fort Caswell, etc. . . . If a vessel now gets inside of the blockaders she can soon run under cover of the batteries and anchor until the tide serves for crossing the bar. A few months ago this would have been impossible, the defenses at that time being such as to make an immediate crossing of the bar absolutely necessary.'' Wilmington did, in fact, become the primary port for blockade runners in the last half of the Civil War for precisely this reason.
Commander James H. North, CSN, wrote from Glasgow to Secretary Mallory: "I can see no prospect of recognition from this country [Great Britain]. . . If they will let us get our ships out when they are ready, we shall feel ourselves most fortunate. It is now almost impossible to make the slightest move or do the smallest thing, that the Lincoln spies do not know of it.'
USS New Era, Acting Ensign Hanford, captured steamer White Cloud, carrying Confederate mail, and steamer Rowena, carrying drugs, on the Mississippi River near Island No. 10.
14 USS Queen of the West, Colonel C. R. Ellet, patrolling the Red River, seized steamer Era No. 3 with a cargo of corn some 15 miles above the mouth of Black River. Ellet continued up river to investigate reports of the presence of three Confederate vessels at Gordon's Landing. Queen of the West was taken under heavy fire by shore batteries. Attempting to back down river, the pilot ran her aground, directly under the Confederate guns. "The position," Ellet wrote, "at once became a very hot one; 60 yards below we would have been in no danger. As it was, the enemy's shot struck us nearly every time.'' Queen of the West's chief engineer reported that the escape pipe had been shot away; the steam pipe was severed. Ellet ordered the ship abandoned. A formidable vessel was now in Confederate hands.
Though efforts steadily increased to maintain the tight blockade of the Southern coast, daring Confederates stirred by patriotism and the lure of profit continued to elude the Union warships. Captain Sands, USS Dacotah, off Cape Fear River, North Carolina, reported a typical example: ''I had a picket boat from this vessel inside the bar, and one from the Monticello was anchored on the bar in 13-feet of water. The latter saw nothing of the blockade runner [Giraffe], but my picket boat, in charge of Acting Master W[illiam] Earle, saw her pass between him and the shore, and came near being run over by her soon after discovering her. The boat was anchored in 12-feet of water on the western side of the channel, with the fort [Fort Fisher] bearing N.N.E., and the steamer passed between her and the beach, evidently having tracked the beach along, where, under cover of the dark land, she could not be seen a quarter of a mile off in the obscurity of the hour before daylight. . . . The Chocura was stationed at the Western Bar, the Monticello farther west, near the shore, and the Dacotah guarding the approaches to the bar. Yet neither vessel, with all their accustomed watchfulness, saw anything of the blockade runner, and it is with much chagrin that I am obliged thus to report a rebel success.
USS Forest Rose, Acting Master G. W. Brown, captured stern-wheel steamer Chippewa Valley with cargo of cotton at Island No. 63.
Commander Clary, USS Tioga, reported the capture of blockade running British schooner Avon with cargo including liquor near the Bahamas.
15 Rear Admiral Porter ordered Acting Lieutenant Robert Getty, USS Marmora: ''Proceed to Delta, the old Yazoo Pass, and report to Lieutenant Commander Watson Smith as part of his expedition. . . . If you meet any vessel taking in cotton below White River, seize vessel, cotton, and all, and leave her at White River. . . By this time, as Brigadier General Gorman remarked, secrecy was "out of the question," and it had become necessary to prepare for a more extended expedition than had been originally anticipated.
USS Sonoma, Commander Stevens, captured brig Atlantic, bound from Havana to Matamoras.
16 President Lincoln, greatly interested in the naval assault on Charleston, reviewed plans for the attack with Assistant Secretary of the Navy Fox.
17 Rear Admiral Porter wrote Secretary Welles: "I have reason to believe that the enemy's troops at Port Hudson are in a strait for want of provisions, and if pushed by General [Nathan P.] Banks' troops that fort will fall into our hands. It is situated in a swampy, muddy region 60 miles from any railroad, and the rains, which have exceeded anything I ever saw in my life, have rendered hauling by wagon impossible. Our vessels above them cut off all hope of supply or aid of any kind from Red River and they must, in a short time, make a retreat. . ." Porter's estimate was overly optimistic. Loss of Queen of the West and other events to follow would re-open the Red River supply line so that Port Hudson sustained its position into the summer of 1863.
Confederate troops captured and burned U.S. tug Hercules opposite Memphis. The Confederates attempted to seize seven coal barges at the same place, but were unable to "run them off,'' according to Captain McGehee, commanding the Southern force, "owing to the terrific fire from the gunboats which were lying at the Memphis wharf."
18 USS Victoria, Acting Lieutenant Edward Hooker, captured brig Minna near Shallotte Inlet, North Carolina, with cargo of salt and drugs.
Cutter from USS Somerset, Lieutenant Commander Alexander F. Crosman, captured blockade runner Hortense, bound from Havana to Mobile.
19 The Confederate Navy Department made a decision to mount an expedition to attempt to destroy the Union monitors at Charleston. Secretary Mallory sent the following orders to Lieutenant William A. Webb, CSN, for a strike against the Northern forces: ''Should it be deemed advisable to attack the enemy's fleet by boarding, the following suggestions are recommended for your consideration: . . . First-Row-boats and barges, of which Charleston can furnish a large number. Second-Small steamers, two or three to attack each vessel. Third-the hull of a single-decked vessel without spars, divided into several watertight compartments by cross bulk-heads, and with decks and hatches tight, may have a deckload of compressed cotton so placed on either side, and forward and aft, so as to leave a space fore and aft in the centre. A light scaffold to extend from the upper tier of cotton ten or fifteen feet over the side, and leading to the enemy's turret when alongside the ironclad, and over which it can be boarded, at the same time that boarding would be done from forward and aft. This could be made permanent or to lower at will. The boarding force to be divided into parties of tens and twenties, each under a leader. One of these parties to be prepared with iron wedges, to wedge between the turret and the deck; a second party to cover the pilot house with wet blankets; a third party of twenty to throw powder down the smoke-stack or to cover it; another party of twenty provided with turpentine or camphine in glass vessels to smash over the turret, and with an inextinguishable liquid fire to follow it; another party of twenty to watch every opening in the turret or deck, provided with sulphuretted cartridges, etc., to smoke the enemy out. Light ladders, weighing a few pounds only, could be provided to reach the top of the turret."
Rear Admiral Du Pont wrote of the blockade: ''No vessel has ever attempted to tun the blockade except by stealth at night which fully established internationally the effectiveness of the blockade-but it is not sufficient for our purpose, to keep out arms and keep in cotton-unfortunately our people have considered a total exclusion possible and the government at one time seemed to think so. A cordon of ships covering the are from Bulls Bay to Stono, some twenty-one miles moored together head and stern-would do it easy but that we have not the means to accomplish. I have forty ships of all classes, sometimes more never reaching fifty-a considerable number are incapable of keeping at sea or at outside anchorage-the wear and tear and ceaseless breaking of American machinery compared with English or even French now, keep a portion of the above always in here [Port Royal] repairing. If I had not induced the Department to establish a floating machine shop, which I had seen the French have in China, the blockade would have been a total failure. . . . Steam however is the new element in the history of blockades, which no one at first understands, as both sides have it-but it is all in favor of the runner-he chooses his time, makes his bound and rushes through, his only danger a chance shot-while the watcher has banked fires, has chains to slip, has guns to point and requires certainly fifteen minutes to get full way on his ship. It is wonderful how many we catch, how many are wrecked, there is another on the beach now with the sea breaking over her. . . "
CSS Retribution. Acting Master Power, captured brig Emily Fisher in West Indian waters.
20 USS Crusader, Acting Master Thomas I. Andrews, captured schooner General Taylor in Mobjack Bay, Virginia.
21 Lieutenant Commander W. Smith reported the readiness of his expedition to enter Yazoo Pass: ''Our party, consisting of the Chillicothe, Baron De Kalb, Marmora, Romeo, Forest Rose, S. Bayard (side-wheel towboat), and three barges of coal, containing 12,000, 10,000 and 5,000 bushels, are all snug at the entrance of Yazoo Pass, ready to go through the moment the stream is clear and the working boats get out of the way. A small army transport is to go through with us, with the excess of men over the 500, which the light-drafts will carry. . . . I expect the Signal from Memphis tonight. I am to receive the troops tomorrow. The difficulty in removing both Confederate placed and natural obstructions had slowed the proposed movement to a crawl.
CSS Alabama, Captain Semmes, captured and burned at sea ship Golden Eagle and bark Olive Jane. Of the former, Semmes wrote: "I had overhauled her near the termination of a long voyage. She had sailed from San Francisco, in ballast, for Howland's Island, in the Pacific; a guano island of which some adventurous Yankees had taken possession. There she had taken in a cargo of guano, for Cork. . . . This ship [Golden Eagle had buffeted the gales of the frozen latitudes of Cape Horn, threaded her pathway among its ice-bergs, been parched with the heats of the tropic, and drenched with the rains of the equator, to fall into the hands of her enemy, only a few hundred miles from her port. But such is the fortune of war. It seemed a pity, too, to destroy so large a cargo of a fertilizer that would else have made fields stagger under a wealth of grain. But those fields would have been the fields of the enemy, or if it did not fertilize his fields, its sale would pour a stream of gold into his coffers; and it was my business upon the high seas, to cut off, or dry up this stream of gold. . . . how fond the Yankees had become of the qualifying adjective, 'golden,' as a prefix to the names of their ships. I had burned the Golden Rocket, the Golden Rule, and the Golden Eagle."
USS Thomas Freeborn, Lieutenant Commander Samuel Magaw, and USS Dragon, Acting Master George E. Hill, engaged a Confederate battery below Fort Lowry, Virginia, while reconnoitering the Rappahannock River. Freeborn was struck and one Confederate gun was silenced.
23 Boat crews from Coast Survey schooners Caswell, William H. Dennis, and Arago, William S. Edwards, hoarded and seized blockade running schooner Glide, aground near Little Tybee Island, Georgia, with cargo of cotton. Possession of the prize was relinquished to USS Marblehead, Lieutenant Commander Robert V. Scott, upon her arrival at the scene.
USS Dacotah, Captain Sands, and USS Monticello, Lieutenant Commander Daniel Braine, closed Fort Caswell, North Carolina, to engage a large steamer attempting to run the blockade. The fort opened on the Union ships and an exchange of fire ensued; the steamer was out of range of the Union warships.
USS Potomska, Acting Lieutenant William Budd, captured blockade running British schooner Belle in Sapelo Sound, Georgia, with cargo of coffee and salt.
USS Kinsman, Acting Lieutenant Wiggen, transporting a detachment of troops, struck a snag and sank in Berwick Bay, Louisiana. Six men were reported missing.
24 CSS William H. Webb and Queen of the West, with CSS Beatty in company, engaged USS Indianola, Lieutenant Commander G. Brown, below Wartenton, Mississippi. The Confederate squadron, under Major Joseph L. Brent, CSA, had reached Grand Gulf just 4 hours behind the Northern vessel which was returning upstream to communicate with Rear Admiral Porter above Vicksburg. Knowing his speed was considerably greater than that of Indianola, Brent determined to attempt overtaking the ironclad and attacking her that night Shortly before 10 pm. the Con-federate vessels were seen from Indianola and Brown "immediately cleared for action. . . Queen of the West opened the action, attempting to ram the Indianola; she knifed into the coal barge lashed to the ship's port side and cut it in two but did little damage to Indianola. Webb dashed up and rammed Indianola at full speed. The impact swung Indianola around; Queen of the West again struck only a glancing blow. Queen of the West maneuvered into a position to ram, this time astern, and succeeded in shattering the framework of the starboard wheelhouse and loosening iron plating. At this time Webb completed circling upstream in order to gain momentum and rammed Indianola, crushing the starboard wheel, disabling the starboard rudder, and starting a number of leaks.
Being in what Brown termed "an almost powerless condition," Indianola was allowed to fill with water to assure her sinking, run on to the west bank of the river and surrendered to Lieutenant Colonel Frederick B. Brand of CSS Beatty, which had been "hovering round to enter the fight when an opportunity offered." Loss of Indianola was keenly felt. Secretary Welles wrote Porter: ''The disastrous loss of the Indianola may, if she has not been disabled, involve the most serious results to the fleet below.'' Porter expressed the view: "The importance of this move to our army here can not be estimated. We had already broken the communications of the enemy in Texas with Vicksburg and Port Hudson. We had cut off all supplies and means of transportation, having destroyed some of their best boats. In a week more the water would have surrounded Port Hudson, and there being no means of getting away, they would have been obliged to evacuate in time. We hoped in a short time to force this thing by getting one or two more gunboats below, and troops enough to land close to Port Hudson. That place evacuated, General Banks could have ascended the river. . . . There is no use to conceal the fact, but this has in my opinion, been the most humiliating affair that has occurred during this rebellion. My only hope is that she has blown up." This ended Porter's move to blockade the Red River by detached vessels while he kept the body of the fleet above Vicksburg. The South also held Queen of the West and had bright prospects for raising Indianola and placing her in a serviceable condition.
A deserter from Confederate receiving ship Selma gave the following information about submarine experiments and operations being conducted by Horace L. Hunley, James R. McClintock, B. A. Whitney, and others, at Mobile, where the work was transferred following the fall of New Orleans to Rear Admiral Farragut: ''On or about the 14th an infernal machine, consisting of a submarine boat propelled by a screw which is turned by hind, capable of holding five persons. and having a torpedo which was to be attached to the bottom of the vessel, left Fort Morgan at 8 p.m. in charge of a Frenchman who invented it. The invention was to come up at Sand Island, get the bearing and distance of the neatest vessel.'' He added that this failed but that other attempts would be made. This submarine went down in rough weather off Fort Morgan, but no lives were lost. Hunley and his colleagues built another in the machine shop of Park and Lyons, Mobile; this was to be the celebrated H. P. Hunley, the first submarine to sink an enemy vessel in combat.
Cutters from USS Mahaska, Lieutenant Elliot C. V. Blake, captured and destroyed sloop Mary Jane and barge Ben Bolt in Back Creek, York River, Virginia.
USS State of Georgia, Commander James F. Armstrong, seized blockade running British schooner Annie at sea off Cape Romain, South Carolina, with cargo of salt and drugs.
Rear Admiral Theodorus Bailey, commanding the East Gulf Blockading Squadron, reported the capture of schooner Stonewall by USS Tahoma, Lieutenant Commander A. A. Semmes, near Key West.
24-25 USS Conemaugh, Lieutenant Commander Thomas H. Eastman, chased blockade running British steamer Queen of the Wave aground neat the mouth of the North Santee River, South Carolina. Unable to get Queen of the Wave off the bar, he destroyed her on 7 March.
25 The light draft gunboat expedition entered Yazoo Pass after a lengthy delay while Army troops cleared away obstructions in the river. Reporting to Rear Admiral Porter the next day, Lieu-tenant Commander W. Smith briefly noted some of the difficulties encountered: "If we get through this with our casemates still up and wheels serviceable, it will be as much as can reasonably be expected. There is about room for one of your tugs handled skillfully. Our speed is necessarily less than the current, as backing is our only and constant resort against dangers and to pass the numerous turns. This gives every vagrant log a chance to foul our wheels, and as many do foul them; delays are frequent. Our damages so far, though not serious, are felt.''
Confederates worked feverishly to raise ex-USS Indianola. CSS Queen of the West was sent up river to Vicksburg to obtain a pump and other materials, but soon was seen returning below Warrenton. She brought news of a large Union "gunboat" passing the Vicksburg batteries and approaching the small Confederate squadron. According to Colonel Wirt Adams, CSA, "All the vessels at once got underway in a panic, and proceeded down the river, abandoning without a word the working party and fieldpieces on the wreck." He continued: "The Federal vessel did not approach nearer than 2,'2 miles, and appeared very apprehensive of attack."
After making further fruitless efforts to free Indianola of water, the next evening the working patty fired the heavy XI-inch Dahlgren guns into each other and burned her to the water line. The Union ruse had worked. The "gunboat" was a barge, camouflaged to give the appearance of a formidable vessel of war that Rear Admiral Porter had floated down river. A Confederate paper reported bitterly: "The Yankee barge sent down the river last week was reported to be an ironclad gunboat. The authorities, thinking that this monster would retake the Indianola, immediately issued an order to blow her up. . . . It would really seem we had no use for gunboats on the Mississippi, as a coal barge is magnified into a monster, and our authorities immediately order a boat that would have been worth a small army to us to be blown up.
USS Vanderbilt, Acting Lieutenant Charles H. Baldwin, seized blockade running British steamer Peterhoff off St. Thomas. An international dispute arose as to the disposition of the mails carried on board the steamer, and eventually Lincoln ruled that they should be returned to the British. Though Peterhoff was initially condemned as a lawful prize, some four years later this decision was reversed.
27 CSS Alabama, Captain Semmes, captured and released on bond ship Washington in the mid-Atlantic. Semmes noted: "She was obstinate, and compelled me to wet the people on her poop, by the spray of a shot, before she would acknowledge that she was beaten."
28 USS Montauk, Commander Worden, supported by USS Wissahickon, Seneca, and Dawn, shelled and destroyed blockade runner Rattlesnake, formerly CSS Nashville, lying under the guns of Fort McAllister in the Ogeechee River. For some 8 months Rattlesnake had been lying at the fort, awaiting an opportunity to run the blockade. The day before (27 February), Worden had noticed Rattlesnake's renewed movements above McAllister; subsequent reconnaissance indicated that the vessel had grounded. "Believing that I could, by approaching close to he battery," Worden reported, "reach and destroy her with my battery, I moved up at daylight this morning. . . The Union squadron found Rattlesnake still aground, and, under heavy fire from the fort, began bombarding her. The gunboats contributed enfilading fire from long range. Within 20 minutes Rattlesnake was aflame. Montauk dropped down river about 8:30 and struck a torpedo. The explosion-described by her Second Assistant Engineer, Thomas A. Stephans, as "violent, sudden" – fractured the iron hull and caused sufficient damage to warrant running Montauk onto a mud bottom to effect repairs. About 9:30, Rattlesnake's magazine ignited and the vessel blew up "with terrific violence, shattering her smoking ruins." Thus occurred the "final disposition," as Worden wrote, "of a vessel which has so long been in the minds of the public as a troublesome pest.
The Navy portion of the expedition through Yazoo Pass reached the Coldwater River and spent the next 2 days (through 2 March) waiting for the Army transports to join up. The time was utilized in making repairs on damaged smokestacks and wheels, in readying the rams Fulton and Lioness which, along with gunboat USS Petrel, had joined on the 28th, and in collecting bales of cotton for protecting the bulwarks of the vessels.
USS Wyandank, Acting Master Andrew J. Frank, captured schooners Vista and A.W. Thompson at Piney Point, Virginia.
USS New Era, Acting Ensign Hanford, seized steamer Curlew, at Island No. 10 in the Mississippi River.
Rear Admiral Farragut wrote Secretary Welles
New Orleans: “I have recently seen person from Mobile
, and they all concur in their statement that
provisions are very high, and very scarce even at those high figures. Flour,
$100 per barrel; bacon and meat of every kind, $1 per pound; meal, $20 per
sack.” Farragut, chaffing under the relative inactivity of “doing nothing
but blockading,” also advised the Secretary of his planned operations, writing
that he would attack Galveston as soon as there were sufficient troops. “At
present,” he added, “I am all ready to make an attack on or run the
batteries at Port Hudson, so as to form a junction with the army and navy above
Vicksburg. . . . The army of General Banks will attack by land or make a
reconnaissance in force at the same time that we run the batteries. . . . My
first objective will be destroy the boats and cut off the supplies from the Red
River. We expect to move in less than a week. I shall take the four ships,
Hartford, Mississippi, Richmond, and Monongahela, and the three gunboats and the
, if she arrives in time.”
the ever-present difficulties of command on the western rivers, Rear Admiral
Porter found time to be concerned with the well being of private citizens. He
instructed Lieutenant Commander Selfridge, USS Conestoga: “Mrs Twiddy,
at Wilson and Mitchell’s Landing, Bolivar, has 130 bales of cotton which she
is desirous of sending to Cairo. This cotton must be seized that same as all
other cotton and turned over to the civil authorities at Cairo, and, after it
has been sold, Mrs Twiddy can, by proving her loyalty to the Government, receive
the value for it. She also has permission to go up to Cairo herself and take all
her effects. If it is necessary, a gunboat will protect her self and property.
When she is ready to go she will hoist a white flag, but you had better run down
there occasionally and she how she is getting on. You will make a full report to
me of all the particulars of this case. . . .” Three weeks later, USS Bragg
took Mrs Twiddy, her cotton, and her personal effects to Cairo.
Alabama, Captain Semmes, captured and burned at sea ship John A. Parks,
after transferring on board Alabama provisions and stores. Semmes remarked that
this capture threw Alabama’s carpenter into “ecstacies” since the cargo
included white pine lumber; “. . . if I had not put out some restraint on my
zealous officer of the adze and chisel, I believe he would have converted the Alabama
into a lumberman.”
Ninian Parker, USN, informed Porter that he had succeeded, “After a most
fatiguing time,” in obtaining the Commercial Hotel in New Orleans for use by
the Navy as a hospital. “It is,” he reported, “admirably located and well
adapted for hospital purposes.” Such facilities, together with the hospital
ship Red Rover, greatly increased
the Navy’s capability to care for the sick and injured in the fleet.
Ironclads USS Passaic, Nahant, and Patapsco, with three
mortar boats and gunboats USS Seneca, Dawn, and Wissahickon,
under Captain Drayton, again engaged Fort McAllister at Savannah for six hours.
Rear Admiral DuPont held that the series of engagements was vital “before
entering upon more important operations.”—the assault on Charleston
. DuPont wanted to subject the ironclads to the
stresses and strains of battle, as well as give the crews additional gunnery
Commander W. Smith’s Yazoo Pass expedition moved down the Coldwater River.
“We are advancing but slowly,” he reported/ “This stream is not so much
wider or clearer than the pass as to make much difference in either speed or the
amount of damage inflicted on these vessels. Our hull has suffered as much today
as on any day yet. We can only advance with the current; faster than that brings
us foul. Our speed is not more than 1½ miles per hour, if that. Wheels and
stacks have escaped through care, but with over 200 feet above water, and less
than three in it, without steerageway, light winds play with us, bringing the
sides and trees in rough contact. I imagine that the character of this
navigation is different from what was expected. We will get through in fighting
condition, but so much delayed that all the advantages of a surprise to the
rebels will have been lost.”
on the loss of Indianola the preceding month, Assistant Secretary Fox wrote
DuPont: “These disasters must come, they are sure to follow a long course of
uninterrupted success and we will look at them at the Department with a
determination that they shall not lead us to doubt either ultimate victory or
the brave officers and men who will surely win it.”
Admiral Porter wrote Fox from above Vicksburg: “here is delightful concert
here between the Army and Navy. Grant and Sherman are on board almost every day.
. . . we agree in everything, and they are disposed to do everything for us they
can, they are both able men, and I hope sincerely for the sake of the Union that
nothing may occur to make a change here.”
crew under Acting Master’s Mate George Drain from USS Matthew Vassar
destroyed a large boat at Little River Inlet, North Carolina. Proceeding up the
western branch of the river to destroy salt works, the boat grounded and the
crew was captured by Confederate troops.
USS James S. Chambers, Acting Master Luther Nickerson, seized blockade
running Spanish sloop Relampago and schooner Ida. The schooner,
beached at Sanibel Island, Florida, when she could not escape, was destroyed by
the crew of James S. Chambers.
5 The Yazoo Pass expedition
neared the junction of the Coldwater and Tallahatchie Rivers. Lieutenant
Commander Smith reported: “The river is clearer, and we make better speed. If
we reach the Tallahatchie this evening, which our advance may do, our total
distance from Delta will be but 50 miles, not 6 miles per day. . . I hope to
make better speed from this time through.” The next evening found Smith’s
forces some 12 miles down the Tallahatchie, where he was compelled to leave USS
Petrel because of damages to her wheel; Petrel was reported once again “in
line” on the 10th after rapid repairs.
Captain Sands, USS Dacotah,
reported the appearance at New Inlet, on the Cape Fear River, of a Confederate
ironclad. “I would feel somewhat more at ease,” he wrote Rear Admiral S. P.
Lee, “if we had an ironclad at each of these main inlets to Cape Fear River,
to fend off an attack upon the wooden vessels by this Confederate ram, although,
without such aid, we will do our best to prevent its success. But without some
such assistance the blockade may be at any time broken by even this single yet
formidable (because ironclad) ram.” Sands later reported that the ram had had
to return inside the Cape Fear River “because she could not stand the sea.”
USS Lockwood returned
to New Bern, North Carolina, from an expedition up the Pungo River where a
bridge was destroyed, “which the enemy had built to facilitate the removal of
the products from that section into the interior,” and some arms, stores, and
a small schooner were captured.
Lieutenant Commander Samuel R. Franklin, chased blockade running sloop Josephine,
forced her aground near Fort Morgan, Mobile
and, with USS Pocahontas
, Lieutenant Commander Gamble, destroyed her by
6 Major General Hunter wrote
Rear Admiral DuPont, requesting naval support for “an important mission in the
southerly part of this department [the Union Army’s Department of the
South].” On the 10th, USS Norwich and Uncas convoyed
the troop transports up the St. John’s River where the soldiers were landed
and again occupied Jacksonville, Florida. Commander
James M. Duncan reported: “In the afternoon of that day some skirmishing took
place outside of the town, upon which I threw several shell in the supposed
direction of the enemy, which very soon dispersed them. During the next day,”
he added cryptically, “another skirmish took place with the like result.”
Lieutenant Maffitt, captured and fired ship Star of Peace bound from
Calcutta to Boston with cargo of saltpeter and hides.
7 The capture of blockade
runners caused Rear Admiral S. P. Lee, commanding the North Atlantic Blockading
Squadron, a shortage of officers. “Owing to the increase of blockade runners
off the coasts of North Carolina, and frequent captures made of them, I would
request that six officers capable of taking charge of prizes may be ordered to
this squadron. The vessels blockading off Cape Fear are greatly in want of them,
owing to the number that have heretofore sent away in prizes, which leaves our
vessels very deficient in officers.”
8 USS Sagamore,
Lieutenant Commander English, captured sloop Enterprise bound from
Mosquito Inlet, Flrida, to Nassau with cargo of cotton.
9 Commander Pennock, Fleet Captain of the Mississippi Squadron, informed Lieutenant Commander Fitch, USS Lexington, of reports of proposed Confederate action along the Tennessee: “You will have to keep a good watch soon on the Tennessee River. The enemy’s plan is to fall back upon Tennessee with all the forces they can raise, and deal Rosecrans a crushing blow. Now we must keep all the vessels you can spare up the Tennessee as high as they can go. The chance is the enemy will cross over somewhere as high up as Decatur [Alabama]. At all events get all the information you can, and be ready to meet then . . . I do not think the rebels will attempt to cross into Tennessee if we have two boats at Decatur, another at Waterloo. Both these points command important railroads. . . The time has come when we must begin to drive the rebels off the banks of the Tennessee.” Though the low water in the river did not allow the gunboats to go up the Tennessee as far as Decatur, by the 14th Rear Admiral Porter informed Secretary Welles : “The entire Mississippi banks have been alive with guerillas, and we have successfully guarded every point and driven them; and my object is to keep them away. As fast as the vessels are bought and fitted they are now sent to the Cumberland and Tennessee. We are doing all we can for General Rosecrans, and will, as heretofore done, keep him supplied. The only trouble is want of men. We can get the vessels faster than we can get crews.
Commander J. R. Madison Mullany, captured schooner Lightning south of
Port Royal with cargo of coffee and salt.
USS Quaker City,
Commander Frailey, seized British blockade runner Douro bound from
Nassau with cargo of cotton, turpentine, and tobacco.
10 USS Chillicothe,
Lieutenant Commander James P. Forten, destroyed a large bridge, a sawmill, and a
flat-bottomed boat on the Tallahatchie River above Fort Pemberton, Mississippi.
Earlier that afternoon Confederate steamer Thirty-fifth Parallel
was destroyed to prevent her capture by the Union forces. According to Commander
I. N. Brown, CSN, former commander of CSS Arkansas who had been on board
the steamer Thirty-fifth Parallel, “from the extreme narrowness
of the stream, ran into the woods and disabled herself, so that, to save falling
into the hands of the enemy, I ordered her burned, which was done as the enemy
came in sight.”
USS Gem of the Sea,
Acting Lieutenant Irving B. Baxter, captured and destroyed sloop Petee
attempting to run the blockade at Indian River Inlet, Florida, with cargo of
11 The Yazoo Pass
expedition’s first attack on Fort Pemberton, Mississippi, on the Tallahatchie
River, commenced. Pemberton was a cotton and earthwork mounting a heavy
Whitworth rifle, four other cannon, and several field pieces. USS Chillicothe,
Lieutenant Commander J. P. Foster, was damaged by two shots from the fort, which
was engaged at a range of 800 yards. Late in the afternoon, Chillicothe renewed
the engagement, followed by USS Baron de Kalb, Lieutenant
Commander J. G. Walker. Under heavy fire, the vessels were compelled to withdraw
once again. Chillicothe had one gun crew “rendered perfectly useless,
three men being killed outright, one mortally wounded, and ten others seriously
wounded, while five of the gun’s crew had their eyes filled with powder. This
occurred in this way: One of the enemy’s largest shell penetrated the port
slide (three inches thick) and struck the tulip of the Chillicothe’s
port gun, and, exploding, ignited her shell just after it was in the muzzle of
her port gun, and it not being home exploded at or about the muzzle, carrying
away the two forward port slides, weighing 3,200 pounds, and a portion of the
turret’s backing, and tearing the bolts out of a large space of the armor,
besides setting the cotton on fire that had been placed forward of the turret
after the reconnaissance of the morning.” Finding it difficult to bring more
than one vessel’s guns to bear on the fort, in front of which CSS St. Philip
(formerly steamer Star of the West
) had been sunk as an obstruction, Lieutenant
Commander W. Smith had a 30 pound Parrot gun moved on shore from USS Rattler
annoy the rebel’s best gun at about 600 yards.” The following day was spent
in repairing Chillicothe and readying an additional Parrot gun ashore.
Assistant Secretary Fox
wrote Rear Admiral Du Pont, stressing the importance of the impending attack on
: “The French Minister told the Chairman of
Foreign Relations in the Senate that he was officially advised by his Consul at
Charleston that thirty steamers had entered that port since January 1st
and that trade was greater between Charleston and foreign ports than it had ever
been before since the city was in existence.”
12 Rear Admiral Farragut, in
his flagship USS Hartford, arrived at Baton Rouge to make the final
preparations for the passage of Port Hudson. Three days earlier he had ordered
USS Richmond, Captain James Alden, to proceed to Baton Rouge and await
him. He stationed USS Essex, Genesee, and Albatross, as
well as the mortar boats, at the head of Profit Island and issued instructions
warning against possible boarding by Confederates.
Acting Master Charles W. Lamson, captured D. Sargent bound from Galveston
to Honduras with cargo of cotton.
13 USS Chillicothe,
Lieutenant Commander J. P. Foster, and USS Baron de Kalb,
Lieutenant Commander J. G. Walker, and a mortar schooner, reengaged the
Confederate works at Fort Pemberton as the Yazoo Pass expedition attempted to
move down the Tallahatchie River to Greenwood, Mississippi. In action described
by Walker as “sever,” Chillicothe sustained 38 hits in an exchange of
fire lasting about an hour and a half. Her ammunition exhausted, Chillicothe
retired; de Kalb continued to engage the fort for some three more
hours before withdrawing. Lieutenant Colonel James H. Wilson, USA, remarked:
“The rebel position is a strong one by virtue of the difficulties of
approach.” The gunboats were unable to bring their full firepower to bear on
the works, and the Army was unable to render effective assistance. Thus, though
the fort was damaged by the attack, the follow-up operations could not be
pressed to force withdrawal.
Rear Admiral Du Pont wrote
Professor Alexander D. Bache of the Coast Survey with reference to the projected
and the ironclads: “We are steadily preparing for the great experiment, to see
whether 20 guns, counting one broadside of the Ironsides, can silence or
overcome some hundreds. I am not without hope, but would have more, were it not
for the obstructions—unfortunately the Army can give us no assistance. I did a
very wise thing, though I think not many persons in my place would have done
it—in trying the ironclads, four of them at least, against a live target in
the shape of Fort McAllister. The experience has been invaluable, for they were
wholly unfit to go into action—some things are not encouraging as they might
be, but it is a great thing to know your tools, forewarned, etc. Then Dahlgren
the life of his fifteen inch [gun] is 300 [firings]! This is about the worst
thing yet—for I look for such pounding as done to the Montauk, today, by the torpedo—it is bad and hard to mend—but we
can, we think, close the leak from the inside for the present. Our papers
instructed the rebels at what spot to aim at and they did exactly but I have sent for more iron—all this, entre nous—I
thought you would like a few words on the subject. One word more—nothing is
more difficult for me to explain than the indisposition on the part of the
inventors, who are often men of genius to wish to exclude from all knowledge or
participation, the very people who are to use and give effect to their
instruments and inventions. I saw an amendment today to a Senate bill to exclude
the submitting of some plans for iron ships to Navy officers! Now if Mr.
Ericcson could have had such men as Drayton and John Rodgers at his elbow from
the beginning, these vessels would have been much better to handle.”
CSS Florida, Lieutenant Maffit, captured and burned ship Aldebran,
from New York, near 29°N, 51°W, with cargo of provisions and clocks.
Acting Lieutenant William C. Rodgers, seized blockade running British schooner Surprise
off Charlotte Harbor, Florida, bound for Havana with cargo of cotton.
Commander Collins, seized blockade running British schooner Florence Nightingale
cargo of cotton in North East Passage Channel, Nahama Islands.
13-14 Confederate troops
launched a surprise night attack against Fort Anderson on the Neuse River, North
Carolina. Union gunboats USS Hunchback, Hetzel, Ceres, and Shawsheen,
supported by a revenue cutter and an armed schooner, forced the Confederates to
break off their heavy assault and withdraw. Colonel Jonathan
S. Belknap, USA, wrote Commander Henry K. Davenport: “Your
well-directed fire drove the enemy from the field; covered the landing of the
Eighty-fifth New York, sent to the relief of the garrison, and the repulse of
the rebel army was complete. Allow me, commodore, in the name of the officers
and men of my command, to express my admiration of the promptitude and skill
displayed by your command on that occasion. The Army is proud of the Navy.”
14 Rear Admiral Farragut
with his squadron of seven ships attacked the strong Confederate works at Port
Hudson, attempting to effect passage. With typical thoroughness, the Admiral had
inspected his squadron the day before “to see that all arrangements had been
made for battle,” and consulted with Major General Banks. His general order
for the passage had previously been written and distributed to each commanding
officer. Just before the attack, Farragut held a conference with the commanders
on board the flagship and then received word from General Banks that he was in
position and ready to begin an attack ashore in support of the passage. The
mortars had begun to fire. Shortly after 10pm, the fleet was underway, the
heavier ships, Hartford, Richmond, and Monongahela to the
inboard or fort side of the smaller Albatross, Genesee, and Kineo.
Mississippi brought up the rear. Moving up the river “in good style,”
Hartford, with Albatross lashed alongside, weathered the hail of
shot from the batteries. Major General Franklin Gardner, commanding at Fort
Hudson, noted: “She returned our fire boldly.” Passing the lower batteries,
the current nearly swung the flagship around and grounded her, “but,”
Farragut reported, “backing the Albatross, and going ahead strong on
this ship, we at length headed her up the river.” Though able to bring only
two guns to bear on the upper batteries, Farragut successfully passed those
works. Following the flagship closely, Richmond took a hit in her steam
plant, disabling her. “The turning point [in the river] was gained,”
Commander Alden reported, “but I soon found, even with the aid of the Genesee,
which vessel was lashed alongside, that we could make no headway against the
strong current of the river, and suffering much from a galling crossfire of the
enemy’s batteries, I was compelled though most reluctantly, to turn back, and
by the aid of the Genesee soon anchored out of range of their guns.”
Next in line, Monongahela ran hard aground under Port Hudson’s lower
batteries where she remained for nearly half an hour, taking severe punishment.
At least eight shots passed entirely through the ship. The bridge was shot from
underneath Captain James P. McKinstry, injuring him and killing three others.
With Kineo’s aid, Monongahela was floated and attempted
to resume her course upriver. “We were nearly by the principal battery,”
Lieutenant Nathaniel W. Thomas, executive officer, wrote, “when the crank pin
of the forward engine was reported heated, and the engine stopped, the chief
engineer reporting that he was unable to go ahead.” The ship became
unmanageable and drifted downstream, where she anchored out of range of the
Confederate guns. Meanwhile, on board USS Mississippi, Captain Melancthon
Smith saw Richmond coming downstream but, because of the heavy smoke of the
pitched battle, was unable to sight Monongahela. Thinking she had steamed
ahead to close the gap caused by Richmond’s leaving the line ahead
formation, he ordered his ship “go ahead fast” to close the supposed gap. In
doing so, Mississippi ran aground and despite every effort could not be
brought off. After being fired in four places, she was abandoned. At 3am, Mississippi
was seen floating in flames slowly down river; 2½ hours later, she blew up,
“producing an awful concussion which was felt for miles around.” Lieutenant
George Dewey, destined to become hero of Manila Bay in 1898, was First
Lieutenant of Mississippi. Thus ended one of the war’s fiercest
engagements; only Hartford and Albatross had run the gauntlet.
Rear Admiral Porter,
“having made arrangements with General Grant by which the army could cooperate
with us” as the Yazoo Pass expedition faltered, launched the difficult and
hazardous Steel’s Bayou, Mississippi, expedition aimed at gaining entrance to
the Yazoo River for the purpose of taking Vicksburg from the rear. The
expedition—comprising USS Louisville, Cincinnati, Carondelet,
Pittsburg, Mound City, four mortars and four tugs—made
its way to Black Bayou, “a place about four miles long leading into Deer
Creek.” At that point further progress was impeded by the dense forest. Porter
set his men to clearing the way by pulling up the trees or pushing them over
with the ironclads. “It was terrible work,” he reported to Welles
, “but in twenty-four hours we succeeded in
getting through these four miles and found ourselves in Deer Creek, where we
were told there would be no difficulties.”
Boat crews under Acting
Master Andrews, commanding USS Crusader, on an expedition to Milford
Haven, Virginia, destroyed a blockade running schooner without cargo.
15 Armed boats from USS Cyane,
Lieutenant Commander Paul Shirley, boarded and seized schooner J.P. Chapman,
preparing to get underway from San Francisco. J.P. Chapman was suspected
of having been outfitted as a Confederate commerce raider. She was found to have
a crew of four, and below decks 17 more men were concealed together with a cargo
of guns, ammunition, and other military stores. Shirley reported that he
discharged the cargo and confined the prisoners on Alcatraz.
CSS Alabama, Captain
Semmes, captured and released on bond ship Punjab, from Calcutta for
London, northeast of Brazil.
Submarine Corps (a.k.a. the Secret Service Corps) is founded in the South.
McClintock, Baxter, and Hunley join the organization three weeks later.
16 USS Chillicothe,
Lieutenant Commander J. P. Foster, resumed the attack on Fort Pemberton,
Mississippi. In a brief engagement, the gunboat was struck eight times which
rendered her guns unworkable and forced her to retire. Foster reported: “The Chillicothe’s
loss on the 11th, 13th, and today is 22 killed, wounded
and drowned.” Next day, the Yazoo Pass expedition fell back, and no further
major effort was mounted against the Confederate position. The Army was unable
to land because the country was flooded. Brigadier General Isaac F. Quimby
shortly ordered the troops withdrawn and on 10 April the Confederate defenders
could report “Yazoo Pass expedition abandoned.” Rear Admiral Porter analyzed
the results of the undertaking: Although some cotton was taken, “the result
was a failure in the main object. The enemy burned two large steamers (Parallel
and Magnolia) loaded with cotton . . .
built two formidable forts, Pemberton and Greenwood on the Tallahatchie and
Yallabusha [sic], and blocked the way effectually. General Pemberton showed a
great deal of ability in his defense of Vicksburg, all through, and won the
respect of his opponents by his zeal and fidelity to his cause, to say nothing
of his spirit of endurance. But in nothing did he show more energy than in
watching the Federal tactics, and guarding against all attempts made to turn his
flanks, especially by way of the streams which would have commanded the
approaches to Vicksburg if held by the enemy. Pemberton took care that these
passes should never be left unguarded in the future.”
Reporting to Secretary
the passage of Port Hudson, Rear Admiral Farragut wrote: “Concerning the Hartford,
I cannot speak too highly of her captain, officers, and crew. All did their duty
as far as came under my observation, and more courage and zeal I have never seen
displayed. The officers set a good example to their men, and their greatest
difficulty was to make them understand why they could not fire when the smoke
was so dense that the pilot could not navigate. . . To the good firing of the
ships we owe most of our safety, for, according to my theory, the best way to
save yourself is to injure your adversary.” Welles replied: “The Department
congratulates you and the officers of the Hartford
upon the gallant passage of the Port Hudson batteries. . . Although the
remainder of your fleet were not successful in following their leader, the
Department can find no fault with them. All appear to have behaved gallantly,
and to have done everything in their power to secure success. Their failure can
only be charged to the difficulties in the navigation of the rapid current of
the Mississippi, and matters over which they had no control.”
General Grant ordered troops
under Major General W. T. Sherman to cooperate with Porter’s gunboats as the
expedition attempted to force its way from Steele’s Bayou into the Yazoo
River. “The ironclads,” Sherman noted, “push their way along unharmed, but
the trees and overhanging limbs tear the wooden boats all to pieces.” The
troops rendered great assistance to the ships in helping to clear Black Bayou
and entangled obstructions.
USS Octorara, Commander Collins, seized sloop Rosalie and schooner Five Brothers
with cargo of cotton at sea east of Florida.
18 USS Wissahickon, Lieutenant Commander John L. Davis, seized and
destroyed steamer Georgiana attempting
to run the blockade into Charleston
a valuable cargo including rifled guns. Georgiana
was said to be pierced for 14 guns and earlier consular reports indicated that
“she is an armed vessel intended for a cruise against our merchantmen.”
Described as a swift vessel, she was termed “another confederate to the pirate
Alabama.” Upon hearing of her fate,
Rear Admiral Du Pont: “ I am exceedingly gratified with the confirmation of
the destruction of the Georgiana. It would have been better would she have been
captured but the fact that she is disposed of is a relief. We had serious
apprehensions in regard to her. In disposing of both her and the Nashville you
have rendered great service t our commerce, for had they got aboard they would
have made sad havoc with our shipping. We shall have an account to settle with
John Bull one of these days for this war which is being carried on against us by
British capital and by Englishmen under the Confederate flag.”
19 Rear Admiral Farragut in
USS Hartford, with USS Albatross
in company, engaged Confederate batteries at Grand Gulf as the ships steamed up
the Mississippi toward Vicksburg. After successfully passing the heavy
Confederate works at Port Hudson, Farragut had proceeded to the mouth of the Red
River on the 16th. Next day, he steamed up to Natchez, tearing down a
portion of the telegraph lines to Port Hudson. He anchored for the night of the
18th below Grand Gulf and ran the batteries early the next morning,
suffering eight casualties in the engagement. He came to anchor just below
Warrenton, Mississippi, where, on the 20th, he communicated with
Grant and Porter and sought replenishment of his coal supply.
Rear Admiral Porter reported
that the Steele’s Bayou expedition had reached with 1½ miles of Rolling Fork,
Mississippi. “Had the way been as good as represented to me, I should have
been in Yazoo City by this time; but we have been delayed by obstructions which
I did not mind much, and the little willows, which grow so thick that we stuck
fast hundreds of times.” In a later summary report to Secretary Welles
, Porter noted: “We had succeeded in getting
well into the heart of the country before we were discovered. No one would
believe that anything in the shape of a vessel could get through Black Bayou, or
anywhere on the route.” As the gunboats continued to struggle against
unfriendly natural hazards, Confederates felled trees to further obstruct the
channel and sharpshooters took the ships under fire. To prevent additional
obstructions being placed at Rolling Fork, Porter sent ashore two boat howitzers
and 300 men under Lieutenant Commander John M. Murphy, USS Carondelet. However, with Confederate troop strength in the area
growing and receiving reports of obstructions being placed ahead and trees being
felled in his rear, Porter was shortly compelled to break off the attempt to
reach the Yazoo in order to avoid
Rear Admiral Du Pont wrote
Assistant Secretary Fox: “We are hard at work on the ironclads. They require
so much, and the injury of the Montauk
is very great. I crawled on ‘all fours’ to see for myself. . . The Patapsco’s
pumps are not yet in order. I had dispatched the Weehawken
to Edisto this morning to establish our base of operations, but an equinoctial
gale sent her back. I may send her to Savannah River in lieu. . . I am anxiously
awaiting the arrival of the Keokuk.
Her less draft than the others is very important. I think these monitors [Keokuk
was a citadel ironclad, not a monitor] are wonderful contraptions, but, oh, the
errors of detail, which would have been corrected if these men of genius could
be induced to pay attention to the people who are to use their tools and
USS Octorara, Commander Collins, seized blockade running British steamer
John Williams near the Bahamas.
20 From below Warrenton,
Rear Admiral Farragut sent the following message to General Grant and a similar
one to rear Admiral; Porter: “Having learned that the enemy had the Red River
trade open to Vicksburg and Port Hudson and that two of the gunboats of the
upper fleet (Queen of the West and Indianola)
had been captured, I determined to pass up and, if possible, recapture the boats
and stop the Red River trade, and this I can do most effectively if I can obtain
from Rear Admiral Porter or yourself coal for my vessels. . . I shall be most
happy to avail myself of the earliest moment to have a consultation with
yourself and Rear Admiral porter as to the
assistance I can render at this place; and, if none, then I will return to the
mouth of the Red River and carry out my original designs.” Porter replied:
“I would not attempt to run the batteries at Vicksburg if I were you; it
won’t pay, and you can be of no service up here at this moment. Your services
at Red River will be a godsend; it is worth to us the loss of the USS Mississippi at this moment and it is the severest blow that could be
struck at the South. They obtain all their supplies and ammunition in that
way.” Grant floated a coal barge down the river to Farragut, who steamed above
Warrenton to meet the vital cargo.
USS Ethan Allen, Acting Master
Pennell, seized blockade running British schooner Gypsy off St. Joseph’s Bank, Florida, with cargo including
21 USS Victoria, Acting Lieutenant Hooker, and US schooner William
Bacon, captured blockade running British schooner Nicolai
I in “thick and rainy” weather off Cape Fear. The steamer was carrying a
cargo of dry goods, arms, and ammunition, and had been turned back two days
earlier in an attempt to run into Charleston
22 Though troops sent by
General W. T. Sherman had reached the gunboats of the Steele’s Bayou
expedition at Rolling Fork the day before, it was Rear Admiral Porter’s
decision that their numbers were not sufficient to ensure success. The soldiers
had met the gunboats without provisions of their own and without any field
artillery. “Under the circumstances,” Porter wrote, “I could not afford to
risk a single vessel, and therefore abandoned the expedition.” Unable to turn
around in the narrow waters, the gunboats unshipped their rudders and drifted
backwards. Coming to a bend in the river, “where the enemy supposed they had
blockaded us completely, having cut a number of trees all together,” the
gunboats and Union troops fought their way through as the withdrawal continued.
Sherman arrived with additional troops, but Porter noted: “We might now have
retraced our steps, but we were all worn-out. The officers and men had for six
days and nights been constantly at work, or sleeping at the guns. We had lost
our coal barge, and the provision vessel could not get through, being too high
for such purposes. Taking everything into consideration, I thought it best to
undertake nothing further without being better prepared, and we finally, on the
24th, arrived at Hill’s plantation, the place we started from on
the 16th.” Thus ended what Porter accurately described as “a most
novel expedition. Never did those people expect to see ironclads floating where
the keel of a flatboat never passed.” Though it did not achieve its primary
goal, the daring expedition was not a failure. By destroying all bridge
encountered, it had “cut off for the present all means of transporting
provisions to Vicksburg.” In addition, a vast quantity of corn was destroyed
and many horses, mules, and cattle were taken. An estimated 20,000 bales of
cotton were destroyed and enough was taken “to pay for the building of a good
gunboat.” Porter recognized, too, the “moral effect of penetrating into a
country deemed inaccessible. There will be no more planting in these regions for
a long time to come. The able-bodied Negroes left with our army, carrying with
them all the stores left by their masters . . .“ Despite these positive
results, the Admiral succinctly summed up a deeper meaning of the abandonment of
the Steele’s Bayou expedition: “With the end of this expedition ends all my
hopes of getting Vicksburg in this direction. Had we been successful we could
have made a sure thing of it.” By land and water, the long siege and the
bitter fighting for Vicksburg would now continue.
Rear Admiral Farragut advised General Grant that the Confederates were building “a very formidable casemated work” at Warrenton. “I fired at it yesterday, but I think did it little or no injury. I see they are at work on it again and shall interrupt them today with an occasional shot or shell to prevent their annoying me on my way down, but if you think it proper to make a little expedition over that way to destroy it, my two vessels will be at your service as long as I am here.” Grant replied: “As you kindly offer me the cooperation of your vessels and the use of them to transport troops to Warrenton, should I want them to send an expedition to destroy their batteries, I have determined to take advantage of the offer. . . I send no special instructions for this expedition further than to destroy effectually the batteries at Warrenton and to return to their camp here. They will be glad to receive any suggestion or directions from you.” Farragut, writing Captain Henry Walke, expressed the view that the blockade of the Red River could be better effected with the aid of one of the Ellet rams, which were above Vicksburg. To Grant he noted that a ram would be more suitable for landing the troops at Warrenton than either USS Hartford or Albatross.
USS Tioga, Commander Clary, captured blockade running British steamer Granite
City at sea off Eleuthera Island and British schooner Brothers
off Abaco. Both carried assorted cargoes including medicines and liquor.
23 Concerned with the fate
of his ships that had failed to pass the Port Hudson batteries, Rear Admiral
Farragut wrote his wife from USS Hartford
below Vicksburg: “I passed the batteries of Port Hudson with my chicken (USS Albatross)
under my wing. We came through in safety. . . . Would to God I only knew that
our friends on the other ships were as well as we are! We are all in the same
hands, and He disposes of us as He sees best. . . . You know my creed: I never
send others in advance when there is a doubt; and, being one on whom the country
has bestowed its greatest honors, I thought I ought to take the risks which
belong to them. So I took the lead . . .”
Lieutenant Webb, CSN, issued
instructions to Lieutenant William G. Dozier regarding the defense of Charleston
in the event of an attack by the Union ironclads. Should the ironclads steam
past the batteries in the harbor, elaborate plans were made to sink them by
CSS Alabama, Captain Semmes, captured ship Morning Star and burned whaling schooner Kingfisher off the
Brazilian coast near the equator.
USS Arizona, Acting Lieutenant Daniel P. Upton, took blockade running
sloop Aurelia off Mosquito Inlet,
Florida, with cargo of cotton.
24 Brigadier General Alfred
W. Ellet informed Captain Walke that he intended to send rams Lancaster
and Switzerland past the Vicksburg batteries to support Farragut at
Warrenton and in blockading the Red River. “You will not,” the General
informed Colonel C. R. Ellet, commanding the ram fleet, “in the event that
either boat is disabled, attempt, under fire of the batteries, to help her off
with the other boat, but will run on down, it being of primary importance that
one boat at least should safely get by.”
USS Mount Vernon
, Acting Lieutenant Trathen, seized British
schooner Mary Jane
attempting to run the blockade near New Inlet, North Carolina, with cargo of
soap, salt, flour, and coffee.
25 Before daybreak, rams Switzerland
and Lancaster got underway to run past Vicksburg to join Rear Admiral
Farragut below with USS Hartford and Albatross.
Colonel C.R. Ellet reported: “The wind was extremely unfavorable, and
notwithstanding the caution with which the boats put out into the middle of the
stream, the puff of our escape pipes could be heard with fatal distinctiveness
below. The flashing of the enemy’s signal lights from battery to battery as we
neared the city showed me that concealment was useless.” Under full steam, the
rams rounded the bend into a concentrated fire from the Confederate works. On
board Switzerland, Colonel Ellet noted: “Shot after shot struck my boat,
tearing everything to pieces before them.” Lancaster,
under Colonel John A. Ellet, followed, steaming steadily down the river,
“but,” the senior Ellet reported, “I could see the splinters fly from her
at every discharge.” Directly in front of the main Vicksburg batteries, a
shell plunged into Switzerland’s
boiler, stopping the engines. The pilots, who “stood to their posts like
men,” kept the ram in the river and she floated down, still under a hail of
shot, to safety. The Lancaster,
meanwhile, received a fatal shot which pierced her steam drum “and enveloped
the entire vessel in a terrible cloud of steam . . . About this time,”
reported her commanding officer, “a heavy plunging shot struck her in the
frailest part of her stern, passing longitudinally through her and piercing the
hull in the center near the bow, causing an enormous leak in the vessel.” She
sank almost immediately. The planned joint attack on Warrenton was called off
because of the extensive repairs required by the Switzerland.
Farragut wrote Rear Admiral
Porter about the difficulties of maintaining the blockade of the Red River with
so few ships: “My isolated position requires that I should be more careful of
my ships than I would be if I had my fleet with me. I can not get to a machine
shop, or obtain the most ordinary repairs without fighting my way to them.”
Coal and provisions were set adrift on barges above Vicksburg and floated to
CSS Alabama, Captain Semmes, captured ships Charles Hill and Nora near
the equator off the coast of Brazil. Semmes described the capture: “It was
time now for the Alabama to move. Her
main yard was swung to the full, sailors might have been seen running up aloft,
like so many squirrels who thought they saw nuts ahead, and pretty soon, upon a
given signal the top-gallant sails and royals might have been seen fluttering in
the breeze, for a moment, and then extending themselves to their respective
yard-arms. A whistle or two from the boatswain and his mates, and the trysail
sheets are drawn aft and the Alabama
has on those seven-league boots . . . A stride or two, and the thing is done.
First, the Charles Hill,
of Boston, shortens sail, and runs up the ‘old flag,’ and then the Nora,
of the same pious city, follows her example. They were both laden with salt, and
both from Liverpool.”
, Lieutenant Commander William K. Mayo, took
schooner Clara attempting to run the
blockade at Mobile
USS State of Georgia,
Commander Armstrong, and USS Mount Vernon
, Acting Lieutenant Trathen, captured blockade
running schooner Rising Dawn off New Inlet, North Carolina, with large cargo of salt.
USS Fort Henry, Acting
Lieutenant Edward Y. McCauley, captured blockade running sloop Ranger,
from Havana, off Cedar Keys, Florida.
USS Wachusett, Lieutenant Commander Charles E. Fleming, seized British
blockade runner Dophin between Puerto
Rico and St. Thomas Island.
26 Assistant Secretary Fox
notified Rear Admiral Du Pont: “We have sent you down the semi-submarine boat Alligator
that may be useful in making reconnaissances.” Alligator,
designed by the French inventor Brutus de Villeroi and built for the government
in Philadelphia, was 46 feet long, 4½ feet in breadth, and carried a crew of 17
men. She was designed to be propelled by folding oars, but these were replaced
at the Washington Navy yard by a hand operated screw propeller.
27 USS Hartford engaged and passed below the Confederate batteries being
erected at Warrenton. Two days later USS Albatross
joined Rear Admiral Farragut, having waited above the batteries to obtain
further coal and provisions which had been floated down on barges from the fleet
, Commander Balch, supported an Army landing on
Cole’s Island, South Carolina. Balch joined the Army command ashore for a
reconnaissance of the island.
USS Hendrick Hudson,
Lieutenant Cates, seized British schooner Pacifique
at St. Mark’s, Florida.
28 USS Diana, Acting Master Thomas L. Peterson, reconnoitering the
Atchafalaya River, Louisiana, with troops embarked, was attacked by Confederate
sharpshooters and field pieces. In action that lasted almost three hours,
casualties were heavy, Diana’s
“tiller ropes were shot away, the engines disabled, and she finally drifted
ashore when it was impossible to fight or defend her longer, and she ultimately
surrendered to the enemy.”
CSS Florida, Lieutenant Maffitt, captured bark Lapwing, bound from Boston to Batavia with cargo of coal. Maffitt
transferred a howitzer and ammunition to the captured bark and renamed her Oreto
for use as a tender under Lieutenant S.N. Avery.
USS Stettin, Acting Master Edward F. Devens, seized blockade running
British steamer Aries off Bull’s Bay
with cargo of liquor.
29 General Grant wrote Rear
Admiral Porter requesting gunboat assistance in an anticipated move below
Vicksburg. “It looks to me, admiral,” Grant wrote, “as a matter of vast
importance that one or two vessels should be put below Vicksburg, both to cut
off the enemy’s intercourse with the west bank of the river entirely and to
insure a landing on the east bank for our forces if wanted . . . Without the aid
of the gunboats it will hardly be worthwhile to send troops to New Carthage or
to open the passage from here to there; preparatory surveys for doing this are
now being made.” Porter replied the same day: “I am ready to cooperate with
you in the matter of landing troops on the other side. . . If it is your
intention to occupy Grand Gulf in force it will be necessary to have vessels
there to protect the troops or quiet the fortifications now there. If I do send
vessels below it will be the best vessels I have, and there will be nothing left
to attack Haynes’ Bluff, in case it should be deemed necessary to try it. . .
Before making a gunboat move I should like to get the vessels back from the
Yazoo Pass Expedition.”
Commodore Duncan, USS Norwich,
reported to Rear Admiral Du Pont the evacuation of Jacksonville, Florida, by
Union troops after destroying the greater part of the city.
USS South Carolina, Commander
John J. Almy, captured schooner Nellie
off Port Royal.
30 CSS Florida, Lieutenant Maffitt, seized bark M.J. Colcord, loaded with provisions, from New York and bound for
Cape Town, South Africa. The provisions were taken on board Florida,
the crew was put on board Danish brig Christian,
and the prize was destroyed. Maffitt wrote: “Living like lords on Yankee
USS Monticello, Lieutenant Commander Braine, captured blockade running
British schooner Sue off Little River,
31 Confederate troops opened
a sustained attack and siege of the Union position at Washington, North
Carolina. The assaulting forces erected numerous batteries along the Pamlico
River in an effort to check the Union Navy. Nonetheless, the senior naval
officer, Commander Davenport, moved quickly to aid the beleaguered Union
soldiers. He dispatched all but two gunboats guarding New Bern to Washington and
left only one at Plymouth. Before the attack was broken up on 16 April, the
warships’ heavy gunfire support swung the balance in stopping the
Confederates. In addition, small boats transported desperately needed ammunition
to the troops and ultimately it was the waterborne supplies reaching the
garrison that induced the Confederates to withdraw. “We were compelled to give
up the siege of Washington,” Major General A.P. Hill wrote, “as the Yankee
supply boats ran the blockade. Two more days would have starved the garrison
out.” Once again the flexibility of Union naval units had preserved a vital
position for the North.
Ram Switzerland, Colonel C.R. Ellet, repairs completed, steamed below
Warrenton and joined USS Hartford and Albatross
under Rear Admiral Farragut. The three ships ran past the batteries at Grand
Gulf that night, anchored, and next day continued downriver to the mouth of the
Red River, destroying Confederate supply skiffs and flatboats en route.
Commander John Guest wrote
Rear Admiral S.P. Lee regarding a method for the removal of the ever-dangerous
Confederate torpedoes by “raft and grapnel.” He believed: “It is perfectly
feasible and is decidedly the best means wherever there is a tideway. A hulk
could do as well in some cases with four or five grapnels hung over the side and
spars rigged out forward and aft to give a greater spread to the grapnels. . .
After clearing the channel of torpedoes the hulk might be allowed to drift so as
to point out obstructions, or with powder in her and a wire might be used to
blow out obstructions.”
USS Memphis, Lieutenant Commander Watmough, captured British schooner Antelope
attempting to run the blockade into Charleston
cargo of salt.
USS Two Sisters, Acting Master Arthur, took schooner Agnes off Tortugas with cargo of cotton.
leaves Hampton Roads for
31-1 April Lieutenant
Commander Gillis, in USS Commodore Morris,
with soldiers embarked proceeded up the Ware River, Virginia, to investigate
reports of a large quantity of grain being stored in the area. Thousands of
bushels were found at Patterson Smith’s plantation. While engaged in seizing
the grain the next day, 1 April, the landing party of soldiers and sailors were
attacked by Confederate cavalry. Gillis reported: “The men were immediately
formed . . . and a few well directed shots caused a wavering in their ranks, and
a cheer and a charge on the part of both sailors and soldiers turned an attack
into a retreat.” Gillis deemed it necessary to destroy the remainder of the
grain, “making altogether some 22,000 bushels of grain that the rebels have
thus been deprived of.” The constant loss of essential foodstuffs sorely hurt
The keel of the Intelligent Whale is laid in
1 Preparations for the naval assault on Charleston
into their final week. Rear Admiral Du Pont sent ironclads USS
Passaic, Montauk, Patapsco, and Keokuk
to the North Edisto River and gunboat Sebago
to Calibogue Sound. To Commander John C. Beaumont, commanding Sebago,
the Admiral wrote that his objective was "to cover the approaches to the
west end of Hilton Head Island and prevent any descent upon it from boats with
troops, etc., and to give notice by signal to the picket stations on shore, you
will use your own discretion as to your position.'' Du Pont assigned Captain
Charles Steedman to protect the Army at Hilton Head Island while he himself led
the offensive against Charleston. Next day, 2 April, Du Pont left Port Royal for
the North Edisto, flying his pennant in USS James
USS Tuscumbia, with Rear Admiral Porter and Generals Grant and W. T. Sherman on board, reconnoitered the Yazoo River to determine the practicability of landing a force at Haynes' Bluff. Grant believed that an attack "would be attended with immense sacrifice of life, if not with defeat." This closed the last hope of turning Vicksburg's fortifications by the right, and gave added weight to the Grand Gulf operation below Vicksburg about which Grant and Porter had just exchanged letters. On 2 April, Secretary Welles wrote Porter a letter strongly urging the occupation of the Mississippi between Vicksburg and Port Hudson, which would be "the severest blow that can be struck upon the enemy, [and] is worth all the risk encountered by Rear-Admiral Farragut."
2 Assistant Secretary Fox wrote Rear Admiral Farragut that President Lincoln, with characteristic understanding of how to use naval strength, was "rather disgusted with the flanking expeditions [at Yazoo Pass and Steele's Bayou], and predicted their failure from the first. . . . he always observed that cutting the Rebels in two by our force in the river was of greater importance. . . Grant . . . has kept our Navy trailing through swamps to protect his soldiers when a force between Vicksburg and Port Hudson, the same length of time, would have been of greater injury to the enemy.
Lincoln informed Secretary Welles that Farragut had to be strengthened. Welles accordingly wrote Rear Admiral Du Pont to send all but two of his ironclads to New Orleans after the Charleston attack.
is lost at sea in a storm of
2-9 An armed boat expedition of sailors and Marines under Acting Lieutenant McCauley, USS Fort Henry, reconnoitered the Bayport, Florida, area. The boats stood in for Bayport on the evening of the 2nd, arriving off the city the next morning. The first launch, exhibiting the "slug-gish" qualities that were to be trying throughout the reconnaissance, slowed the expedition's progress through the intricate channel. "This waste of time," McCauley reported, "gave the rebels leisure to make all preparations for our reception." Two Confederate sloops and two small schooners ran into a bayou and grounded seeking to avoid destruction. Sloop Helen, carrying corn, was captured south of the harbor and destroyed. The Union boat crews engaged and forced the evacuation of a defending battery, and the Confederates burned a schooner with cargo of cotton. McCauley reported: "Having gained my object in her destruction and the clearing of the battery, the disabling of two of my guns, the unwieldiness of the first launch, which made it difficult to bring her gun to bear; the uncertainty of aim in the sea that was running, and conse-quent waste of ammunition, and the warnings of Mr. Ashley, the pilot, that if the ebb tide found us there we should be left aground, made me give up my design of trying to set the vessels in the bayou on fire by shelling." The boats withdrew out of range of a rifled gun which the Confed-erates brought up. In the next week the expedition examined the Chassahowitzka, Crystal, Homosassa, Withlacoochee, Waccassassa, and Suwannee Rivers, as small boats carried the mes-sage of seapower where deeper draft vessels could not pass.
3 Expedition under Lieutenant Commander Fitch, including USS Lexington, Brilliant, Robb, Silver Lake, and Springfield, destroyed Palmyra, Tennessee, in retaliation for Confederate guerrillas firing on a Union convoy (2 April), crippling USS St. Clair and damaging Army transports Eclipse and Luminary.
USS New London, Lieutenant Commander Abner Read, and USS Cayuga, Lieutenant Commander David A. McDermut, captured blockade running British schooner Tampico off Sabine Pass with cargo of cotton.
4 Rear Admiral Du Pont issued his order of battle and plan of attack on Charleston: ". . . The Squadron will pass up the main ship channel without returning the fire of the batteries on Morris Island, unless signal should be made to commence action. The ships will open fire on Fort Sumter when within easy range, and will take up a position to the northward and westward of that fortification, engaging its left or northeast face at a distance of from 600 to 800 yards firing low and aiming at the center embrasure. The commanding officers will instruct their officers and men to carefully avoid wasting shot and will enjoin upon them the necessity of precision rather than rapidity of fire. Each ship will be prepared to render every assistance possible to vessels that may require it. The special code of signals prepared for the ironclad vessels will be used in action. After the reduction of Fort Sumter it is probable that the next point of attack will be the batteries on Morris Island. The order of battle will be the line ahead. . . A squadron of reserve, of which Captain J. F. Green will be the senior officer, will be formed outside the bar and near the entrance buoy, consisting of the following vessels, Canandaigua, Housatonic, Huron, Unadilla, Wissahickon, and will be held in readiness to support the ironclads when they attack the batteries on Morris Island.''
President Lincoln wrote regarding harbor defense: "I have a single idea of my own about harbor defences. It is a steam-ram, built so as to sacrifice nearly all capacity for carrying to those of speed and strength. . . . her business would be to guard a particular harbour, as a bull-dog guards his master's door."
CSS Alabama, Captain Semmes, captured ship Louisa Hatch off the coast of Brazil with large cargo of coal. Semmes took the prize with him so that he would still have a means of obtaining a supply of coal if he failed to rendezvous as planned with the bark Agrippina at Fernando de Noronha Island. Semmes' foresight again paid off, for the bark did not arrive at the island. After coaling and provisioning from Louisa Hatch, Semmes burned her on 17 April.
5 With ironclads and enough steamers to take them in tow if knocked out of action, Rear Admiral Du Pont departed North Edisto for Charleston, arriving off the Confederate stronghold that afternoon. As a last step before the assault, preparations were made to buoy the Stono bar to fix a safe channel. USS Patapsco, Commander Ammen, and USS Catskill, Commander George Rodgers, remained inside the bar to protect the buoys.
6 Commander Balch, USS Pawnee , reported that the Stono Bar had been buoyed, preparatory to the assault on Charleston. Rear Admiral Du Pont crossed the bar, his flag in USS New Ironsides, Captain Turner. Intending to attack Charleston that day, the Admiral took the other ironclads in with him: USS Passaic, Captain Drayton; Weehawken, Captain J. Rodgers; Montauk, Captain Worden; Patapsco, Commander Ammen; Catskill, Commander G. Rodgers; Nantucket, Commander Donald McD. Fairfax; Nahant, Commander John Downes; and Keokuk, Commander Alexander C. Rhind. After reaching an anchorage inside the bar, Du Pont reported,". . . the weather became so hazy, preventing our seeing the ranges, that the pilots declined to go farther."
Captain William F. Lynch, CSN, wrote Senator George Davis of North Carolina from Wilmington regarding the status of ships building in the waters of that state: "One ironclad, the North Carolina, building here, is very nearly ready for her crew... The other, the Raleigh, is now ready for her iron shield, and can in eight weeks be prepared for service, as far as the material is concerned. At Whitehall, upon the Neuse, we have a gunboat [Neuse] in nearly the same state of forwardness as the Raleigh; at Tarboro we have one with the frame up, the keel of one [Albemarle] is laid near Scotland Neck. . . ."
Assistant Secretary Fox wrote Commodore Rowan about a method of countering Confederate torpedoes at Mobile : "It strikes me that a small grapnel might be thrown several hundred yards ahead and hauled in so as to break the connections of their torpedoes. A small charge of powder, a wooden sabot, a grapnel and chain fast to a line, fired from a XV-inch gun, are all the elements. I advise you to prepare these arrangements, for you certainly will find torpedoes near Fort Morgan."
USS Huntsville, Acting Lieutenant W. C. Rogers, captured sloop Minnie off Charlotte Harbor, Florida, with cargo of cotton.
7 Rear Admiral Du Pont, with nine ironclads, engaged the strong Confederate forts in Charleston harbor. The Richmond Whig, unaware of the outcome of the battle, editorialized on 8 April: ''At last the hour of trial has come for Charleston.''
Du Pont made signal to get underway at noon, "this," the Admiral reported, "being the earliest hour at which, owing to the state of the tide, the pilots would consent to move." USS Weehawken, in the van pushing a raft to clear torpedoes from the path of the line ahead column, fouled the torpedo grapnels attached to the raft, delaying the movement for an hour, and continued to impede the column's progress throughout so that it was nearly 3 o'clock before the ships came within range of Forts Moultrie and Sumter in the harbor.
Weehawken opened on Fort Sumter shortly after 3, followed by the other monitors. The Confederates had not only heavily obstructed the channels to Charleston, but they had also marked them with range indicators for their gunners in the forts, "which,'' Ammen later observed, "greatly increased the accuracy of the fire from the forts as the vessels passed.''
As Weehawken became hotly engaged, a torpedo exploded near her; "it lifted the vessel a little," the indomitable Captain John Rodgers reported, "but I am unable to perceive that it has done us any damage." Of greater concern to the commander of the lead ship were the obstructions extending from Fort Moultrie to Fort Sumter. "The appearance was so formidable," Rodgers wrote, "that, upon deliberate judgment, I thought it not right to entangle the vessel in obstructions which I did not think we could have passed through, and in which we should have been caught." He swung his ship's bow to seaward to prevent being swept against the obstructions by the strong flood tide which made the ironclads virtually unmanageable at times during the engagement. Weehawken steamed a few hundred feet southward to give the ships in the rear opportunity to turn in her wake. Engaged for 40 minutes, the lead ironclad was hit 53 times and was taking water through a shot hole which had been made in the deck.
Next in line, Passaic had her XI-inch gun disabled for several hours and the turret was temporarily unable to turn. All the plates forming the upper edge of the turret were broken and the pilot house badly dented while she was receiving some 35 hits from the forts. Montauk, maneuvering with difficulty was struck some 14 times with little effect as she, like Passaic, turned in Weehawken's wake away from the obstructions. Patapsco, endeavoring to turn short of Montauk's wake, lost headway and failed to obey the helm. She became a sitting target for the guns of Forts Sumter and Moultrie and took 47 hits. Backing, she was brought under control and turned seaward. The flagship, New Ironsides, had become unmanageable in the heavy current, and Catskill passed her, approaching to within some 600 yards of Sumter where the pointblank fire of her guns blasted a barbette gun from its mount. Caught in the forts' crossfire like the others, Catskill received 20 shots, one of which broke the deck plates and deck planking forward, causing her to take water. Meanwhile, New Ironsides narrowly escaped destruction as she lay directly over a Confederate electric torpedo containing 2,000 pounds of powder near Fort Wagner. Every effort to fire the torpedo failed, and it was later discovered that a connecting wire had been cut by a wagon passing over it.
Nantucket followed Catskill past the flagship and was badly battered by 51 hits, one jamming her turret. Nahant took 36 hits: 3 disabled the turret; the impact of another broke off a segment of interior iron weighing nearly 80 pounds which wreaked havoc with the steering gear. Nuts from iron bolts sheered off, fatally wounding the helmsman and injuring the pilot.
Keokuk was compelled to run ahead of the crippled Nahant to avoid getting foul of her in the narrow channel and strong tide. This brought the last ironclad less than 600 yards from Fort Sumter, where she remained for half an hour. Colonel Alfred Rhett, CSA, wrote: "She received our undivided attention. . . Keokuk was riddled by 90 hits, one-fifth of which pierced her at or below the waterline. She was withdrawn from the action and anchored overnight outside of range of the forts, where the crew was able to keep her afloat only because of the calm seas. Next day, 8 April, a breeze came up, Keokuk took on more water, and, rapidly filling, sank.
With darkness approaching and his ironclads severely battered, Du Pont broke off the action. He reported to Secretary Welles: "When I withdrew the ironclad vessels from action on the evening of the 7th, I did so because I deemed it too late in the day to attempt to force a passage through the obstructions which we had encountered, and I fully intended to resume offensive operations the next day; but when I received the reports of the commanders of the ironclads as to the injuries those vessels had sustained and their performance in action I was fully convinced that a renewal of the attack could not result in the capture of Charleston, but would, in all probability, end in the destruction of a portion of the ironclad fleet and might leave several of them sunk within reach of the enemy (which opinion I afterwards learned was fully shared in by all their commanders). I therefore determined not to renew the attack."
The Confederates bad beaten back a serious threat and gained a stunning victory; Du Pont was thankful that the result was "a failure instead of a disaster." He wrote General Hunter: "I am now satisfied that that place cannot he taken by a purely naval attack, and I am admonished by the condition of these vessels that a persistence in our efforts would end in disaster and might cause us to leave some of our ironclads in the hands of the enemy, which would render it difficult for us to hold those parts of the coast which are now in our possession." Hunter replied: "No country can ever fail that has men capable of facing what your ironclads had yesterday to endure." Admiral Porter later wrote: "It was certainly the hardest task undertaken by the Navy during the war."
Rear Admiral Porter informed Welles that Army troops had been sent up " to take possession of the country through which we lately took the gunboats. When that is secured we can reach the Yazoo as we please, provided the water keeps up. I am preparing to pass the batteries of Vicks-burg with most of the fleet. General Grant is Marching his army below, and we are going to endeavor to turn Vicksburg and get to Jackson by a very practicable route. . . . The enemy, owing to our late raids on them, have much reduced their force at Vicksburg. They are cut off from all supplies from below; so is Port Hudson." The long joint operation against the Southern stronghold was moving into its final stages.
USS Barataria, Acting Ensign James F. Perkins, on a reconnaissance mission with troops embarked, struck a snag in Lake Maurepas, Louisiana, and was destroyed by her crew to prevent capture.
8 Mr. Edward C. Gabaudan, secretary to Farragut, arrived on board USS Richmond with a dis-patch from the river above after safely floating in a small boat past the Port Hudson batteries. Loyall Farragut, the Admiral's son, vividly described Gabaudan's memorable exploit: "A small dug-out was covered with twigs, ingeniously arranged to resemble the floating trees which were a common sight on the Mississippi. At nightfall Mr. Gabaudan lay down in the bottom of his little craft under the brush, with his revolver and a small paddle by his side, and silently drifted out into the current, followed by the prayers of his shipmates. He reached the Richmond in safety, with but one adventure, which came near being his last. His frail bark was swept in so close to the shore that he could distinctly hear the sentinels talking. The size of his craft attracted attention, and a boat put out to make an examination. Gabaudan felt that his time had come; but with a finger on the trigger of his revolver, he determined to fight for his liberty, and quietly awaited discovery. Fortunately for him, the rebels were not in a pulling humor that night, and seemed satisfied with a cursory glance. His mind was greatly relieved when they pronounced him to be 'only a log,' and returned to the shore. About ten o'clock pm. a rocket was seen to dart up into the air some miles below, a signal of the success of the perilous under-taking."
USS Gem of the Sea, Acting Lieutenant Baxter, seized blockade running British schooner Maggie Fulton off Indian River Inlet, Florida. "I am confident," Baxter reported to Rear Admiral Bailey, that no vessels have run in or out of either Jupiter or Indian River inlets since the 6th of March, 1863, as our boats are in the river whenever the bar will permit them to cross.
9 John A. Quinterro, Confederate Commissioner in Monterrey, Mexico, wrote Secretary of War Benjamin: "Narciso Monturio [of Barcelona, Spain] has invented a vessel for submarine navigation. She is called Ictineos (fish-like vessel). As a man-of-war she can prevent not only the bombardment of the ports, but also the landing of the enemy. If . . . the necessary number of vessels [are] built, no Federal squadron would dare to approach our coasts. . . . The Ictineos have guns which fire under water and also rams and torpedoes. They can navigate in a depth of about twenty-five fathoms. . . . The inventor creates an artificial atmosphere . . . and carries with him the elements of existence." The Confederates were continuously alert for any development that might contest the stranglehold of the North's overwhelming naval superiority.
10 President Jefferson Davis said: "We began this struggle without a single gun afloat, while the resources of our enemy enabled them to gather fleets which, according to their official list published in August last, consisted of 427 vessels, measuring 340,036 tons, and carrying 3,268 guns. Yet we have captured, sunk, or destroyed a number of these vessels, including two large frigates and one sloop of war, while four of their captured steam boats are now in our possession, adding to the strength of our little Navy, which is rapidly gaining in numbers and efficiency."
An expedition led by Lieutenant Commander Selfridge of USS Conestoga cut across Beulah Bend, Mississippi, and destroyed guerrilla stations that had harassed Union shipping on the river.
Boat crew under Lieutenant Benjamin F. Day from USS New London, while reconnoitering Confederate strength in the Sabine City area, captured a small sloop and four prisoners, including Captain Charles Fowler, who had commanded CSS Josiah Bell when USS Morning Light and Velocity were captured in January 1863.
Landing party under Acting Master John C. Dutch, USS Kingfisher, captured Confederate pickets on Edisto Island, South Carolina.
11 General Beauregard, believing that a renewal of the naval attack on Charleston was imminent, wrote Lieutenant Webb, CSN, regarding an offensive measure to remove this threat: "Upon further reflection, after the discussion of yesterday with Captain Tucker and yourself, I think it would be preferable to attack each of the enemy's seven iron-dads (six monitors and one Ironsides), now inside the bar, with at least two of your spar-torpedo row-boats, instead of the number (six in all) already agreed upon. I believe it will be as easy to surprise at the same time the whole of those iron-dads as a part of them. . . . about dark on the first calm night (the sooner the better) I would rendezvous all my boats at the mouth of the creek in the rear of Cummings Point, Morris Island. There I would await the proper hour of the night, which should not be too late, in order to take advantage of the present condition of the moon. . . . Having arrived at the point of the beach designated [opposite the fleet] I would form line of attack, putting my torpedoes in position, and would give orders that my boats should attack by twos any monitor or Ironsides they should encounter on their way out, answering to the enemy's hail 'Boats on secret expedition' or merely 'Contrabands'. . . . I feel convinced that with nerve and proper precaution on the part of your boats' crews, and with the protection of a kind Providence, not one of the enemy's monsters so much boasted of by them, would live to see the next morning's sun." The next day, however, the Union ironclads withdrew outside the bar, foiling the proposed torpedo attack.
Threatened by a "large force" of Confederates, Army commanders at Suffolk, Virginia, requested gunboat support from Rear Admiral S. P. Lee, who speedily replied that there were already three small naval vessels "up the Nansemond or at its mouth." Next day, 12 April, he sent USS Commodore Barney, Lieutenant William B. Cushing , "to assist in repelling the enemy, who are surrounding Suffolk."
Meanwhile, Southerners threatened Union positions on the York River as well, and York-town was felt to be in danger. Another appeal for naval support was sent to Lee, who ordered USS Commodore Morris to aid USS Crusader in that area. Whether in the North Carolina Sounds or the Virginia rivers, the demand for the services of the gunboats of the North Atlantic Squadron was great. As Admiral Porter later wrote: ''After all, most of these gun-boats were merely improvised for the occasion, and the Army transports, armed with field pieces, would have answered the same purpose. But the soldiers were not used to managing steamers up the narrow streams or handling guns behind the frail bulwarks of wooden gunboats. Only sailors could do that kind of work, and the Army were only too glad to have them do it."
Secretary Welles instructed Rear Admiral Du Pont to ''retain a strong force off Charleston, even should you find it impossible to carry the place." Though the large-scale attack 4 days before had failed, it was believed that the presence of the fleet at Charleston would keep the Confederates "in apprehension of a renewed attack, in order that they may be occupied and not come North or go West to the aid of the rebels with whom our forces will soon be in conflict. . . " The Union's ability to strike with vigor at a variety of points under seapower's flexibility continued to keep Confederate strength dispersed.
12 Rear Admiral Porter advised Secretary Welles of developments in the proposed move below Vicksburg: "I have been endeavoring since I came here to get the batteries of these vessels changed, and have succeeded at last in getting three 11-inch guns placed in the bow of each one. This makes them much more effective. . . . [Major General Grant] proposes to embark his army at Carthage, seize Grand Gulf under fire of the gunboats, and make it the base of his operations. . . . The squadron will pass the [Vicksburg] batteries and engage them while the transports go by in the smoke, passing down, of course, at night. . . . In this operation I act in obedience to the orders of the Department to cooperate with the army, and shall do my best to make them successful." Though preoccupied with the plans to get below Vicksburg, Porter did not neglect other areas of need on the western waters. He ordered eight gunboats to the mouths of the Arkansas and White Rivers to meet any contingency at that point, and reported, "Every point on the Mississippi is guarded or patrolled where there is likelihood of a guerilla. The river from Cairo to Vicksburg is as quiet as in time of peace." Porter also sent a sizable force into the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers. "There are now (or soon will be) 23 vessels in the Tennessee River (including the Marine Brigade), 14 of which carry in all 97 guns, many of them of heavy caliber. The Cumberland River will he reinforced in like manner, as I can spare the light-drafts from below."
Porter wrote Welles about the shortage of men in his Mississippi Squadron: "I have been filling up deficiencies from the army. General Grant has supplied me with 800 soldiers, who are now very efficient. About 600 contrabands are employed in the place of discharged men, and we man the guns with them, the men sent from the North are light built (mostly boys). We are much in need of more experienced men for petty officers. .
Blockade running steamer Stonewall Jackson, attempting to get into Charleston, dashed past USS Flag and Huron. The blockaders poured a hail of shell after her, several of which holed her hull. Her commander finding escape impossible, Stonewall Jackson was run aground and destroyed with her cargo, including Army artillery and some 40,000 Army shoes.
The crew of a launch under Acting Master George C. Andrews, CSN, which had left Mobile on 6 April, captured steamboat Fox in the coal yard at a'Pass l'Outre, Mississippi. Andrews succeeded in running Fox into Mobile through the blockaders' fire on 15 April.
13 USS Annie, Acting Ensign James S. Williams, captured schooner Mattie off the Florida Gulf coast.
14 As two days of heavy fighting near Suffolk, Virginia, closed, Lieutenant Cushing informed Rear Admiral S.P. Lee that USS Mount Washington had been temporarily disabled and grounded under heavy fire but had been brought off by USS Stepping Stones. Cushing's own ship, USS Commodore Barney, had been raked heavily by a Confederate shore battery, but he wrote: "I can assure you that the Barney and her crew are still in good fighting trim, and we will beat the enemy or sink at our post." The gunboats repeatedly drove Confederate gunners from their rifle pits, only to see them return when the ships' fire slackened. The gunboats were a decisive factor in the Confederates' inability to move across the river to surround the Union 'troops.
USS Estrella, Lieutenant Commander Augustus P. Cooke; USS Arizona, Acting Lieutenant Upton; and USS Calhoun, Acting Master Meltiah Jordan, supporting operations ashore by General Banks' troops, engaged and destroyed ram C.S.S Queen of the West, Lieutenant E. W. Fuller, in Grand Lake, Louisiana. CSS Diana and Hart were destroyed on 18 April to prevent their capture. General Banks reported: ''Great credit is due to the energy and efficiency shown by the officers of the Navy in this operation."
USS Sonoma, Commander Stevens, captured schooner Clyde in the Gulf of Mexico with cargo of cotton and rosin.
USS Huntsville, Acting Lieutenant W. C. Rogers, took blockade running British schooner Ascension off the Florida Gulf coast.
Commander Charles F. M. Spotswood wrote Commander Mitchell concerning service on ironclad CSS Georgia on the Savannah station: ". . . anything that floats at sea will suit me. . . . for being shut up in an Iron Box (for she is not a vessel) is horrible, and with no steam power to move her, in fact she is made fast here to a pile pier. . . . She is not a fit command for a Sergeant of Marines. . .
CSS Missouri was launched at Shreveport, Louisiana. Though the steamer mounted six guns, she never saw action and remained above the obstructions in the Red River until war's end.
15 CSS Alabama, Captain Semmes, captured whalers Kate Cory and Lafayette off the island of Fernando de Noronha, Brazil. Semmes burned Lafayette this date and Kate Cory two days later.
USS Monticello, Lieutenant Commander Braine, captured schooner Odd Fellow near Little River, North Carolina, with cargo of turpentine and rosin.
USS William G. Anderson, Acting Lieutenant Frederic S. Hill, took schooner Royal Yacht in the Gulf of Mexico with cargo of cotton.
16 USS Hendrick Hudson, Acting Lieutenant Cate, captured blockade running British schooner Teresa off the coast of Florida.
USS Vanderbilt, Lieutenant Baldwin, seized British blockade runner Gertrude off the Bahama Islands.
16-17 Gunboats under Rear Admiral Porter engaged and ran past the Confederate batteries at Vicks-burg shepherding Army transports to New Carthage below the Southern citadel. The force included USS Benton, Lafayette, Louisville, Pittsburg, Mound City, Carondelet, and Tuscumbia; USS General Sterling Price was lashed to the starboard side of Lafayette for the passage, as was tug Ivy to Benton. Each hip, except Benton, also towed a coal barge containing 10,000 bushels of coal. Lafayette, Captain Walke, hampered by the ship lashed to her side, received nine ''effective'' shots through her casemate and had her coal barge sunk. Transport Henry Clay was sunk, with no loss of life, during the passage and another, Forest Queen, was temporarily disabled but was successfully aided by Tuscumbia, Lieutenant Commander James W. Shirk. Under fire for 2 1/2 hours, beginning shortly after 11 p.m. on the 16th, the squadron suffered what Porter termed only "very light'' loss. He reported that all ships were ready for service within half an hour after the passage. ''Altogether," he remarked, ''we were very fortunate; the vessels had some narrow escapes, but were saved in most instances by the precautions taken to protect them. They were covered with heavy logs and bales of wet hay, which were found to be an excellent defense." A memorandum in the Secretary of the Navy's office recorded: "The passage of the fleet by Vicks-burg was a damper to the spirits of all rebel sympathizers along the Mississippi for everyone was so impressed with the absurdity of our gunboats getting safely past their batteries without being knocked to pieces that they would not admit to themselves that it would be undertaken until they saw the gunboats moving down the river all safe and sound. Vicksburg was despaired of from that moment.'' The successful steaming of the squadron past the heavy batteries contributed to the early seizure of Grand Gulf, the eventual fall of Vicksburg itself, and ultimately the total control of the entire Mississippi.
17 USS Wanderer, Acting Master Eleazer S. Turner, took schooner Annie B southwest of Egmont Key, Florida, bound for Havana with cargo of cotton.
CSS Florida, Lieutenant Maffitt, captured and destroyed ship Commonwealth off the coast of Brazil, bound from New York to San Francisco.
18 Boat expedition to reconnoiter Sabine City under command of Lieutenant Commander Read, USS New London, and Lieutenant Commander McDermut, USS Cayuga, was surprised at the lighthouse and driven off by Confederate troops.
USS Susquehanna, Commodore Hitchcock, captured schooner Alabama off the Florida Gulf coast with cargo including wine, coffee, nails, and dry goods.
USS Stettin, Acting Master James R. Beers, seized steamer St. Johns off Cape Romain, South Carolina.
USS Gem of the Sea, Acting Lieutenant Baxter, captured and destroyed blockade running British schooner Inez off Indian River Inlet, Florida.
19 USS Housatonic, Captain William Taylor, took sloop Neptune, attempting to run the blockade out of Charleston with cargo of cotton and turpentine.
USS Powhatan , Captain Steedman, captured schooner Major F. Willis near Charleston with cargo of cotton.
20 A joint Army-Navy attack succeeded in capturing a strong Confederate position at Hill's Point on the Nansemond River, Virginia, taking 5 howitzers and some 160 prisoners, as well as denying the South the use of an effective position from which to shell the flotilla guarding the Union Army position near Suffolk. Brigadier General George W. Getty wrote Rear Admiral S. P. Lee: "I beg to express my most sincere thanks to Captain Lamson, USN, his officers and crews for the gallantry, energy and ability displayed by them in the operations . . . resulting in the capture of one of the enemy's batteries on the west side of the Nansemond, and a number of prisoners." Later that night, 20 April, the Confederates evacuated their battery at Reed's Ferry, and Lieu-tenant Cushing reported: ''All is now clear at this point [the western branch of the Nansemond], and if the army fortify, we can hold the position against any force, the gunboats protecting both flanks.'' Though there were intermittent skirmishes for almost 2 weeks following this action, the back of the planned Confederate offensive was broken. As Cushing wrote on 21 April: "I think that active work is nearly over in this quarter." Both Cushing and Lamson were cited by Secretary Welles for their gallantry and meritorious services.
USS General Sterling Price, Commander Selim E. Woodworth, and USS Tuscumbia, Lieutenant Commander Shirk, reconnoitered down the Mississippi River from New Carthage to the Confederate stronghold at Grand Gulf in preparation for the Union assault. Rear Admiral Porter reported to Major General Grant: "The rebels are at work fortifying. Three guns mounted on a bluff 100 feet high, pointing upriver. Two deep excavations are made in the side of the hill (fresh earth); it can not be seen whether guns are mounted on them or not." Porter urged Grant to move as quickly as possible: "My opinion is that they will move heaven and earth to stop us if we don't go ahead. I could go down and settle the batteries, but if disabled would not be in condition to cover the landing when it takes place, and I think it should be done together. If the troops just leave all their tents behind and take only provisions, we can be in Grand Gulf in four days. I don't want to make a failure, and am sure that a combined attack will succeed beautifully."
USS Estrella, Lieutenant Commander Cooke, with USS Clifton, Arina, and Calhoun, engaged and received the surrender of Fort Burton, Butte a' la Rose, Louisiana. Third Assistant Engineer George W. Baird noted in his diary: "The fight was short, sharp and decisive. It was done after the style of Daddy Farragut: we rush in. . . . We rushed right up to it and the four black vessels all firing made a savage appearance."
Porter reported the results of an examination of the hulk of USS Indianola, captured by the Confederates and subsequently sunk below Vicksburg: "Her hull and machinery seem to be uninjured; the woodwork on deck has all been burned. The casemate for the 11-inch guns has been blown to pieces; the iron plates lying around the deck I have had it taken to strengthen the gunboats now here. The 11-inch gun carriages are still in the wreck, much shattered. The 9-inch gun carriages were burned when the rebels heard a gunboat (the imitation monitor) was coming down. One 11-inch and one 9-inch gun were removed and a few shells." Recommending that an attempt be made to raise Indianola, Porter added: "It would be a great comfort to have the Indianola afloat once more and still on the Navy list."
USS Octorara, Commander Collins, captured British blockade runner W. Y. Leitch east of Florida with cargo of salt.
USS Lodona, Commander Edmund R. Colhoun, seized British schooner Minnie attempting to run the blockade at Bull's Bay, South Carolina, with cargo of salt.
A landing party under Lieutenant Commander George U. Morris, USS Port Royal, captured cotton awaiting transportation at Apalachicola, Florida. Three prisoners and a quantity of canister, shot, and chain were also taken.
CSS Oreto, Lieutenant Samuel W. Averett, captured at sea and bonded ship Kate Dyer bound for Antwerp, Belgium.
21 Secretary Mallory wrote Commander Bullock: "The recent repulse of the enemy before Charleston will show the world that we have not been idle with regard to ordnance and that the enemy's ironclads suffered severely. At a recent experimental trial of the triple-banded Brooke navy gun, a wrought iron bolt was driven through 8 inches of iron and 18 inches of wood. The distance was 260 yards, 16 pounds of powder, with a bolt of 140 pounds."
Rear Admiral Dahlgren noted in his private journal: "I had a conversation with the Secretary about Charleston. He is not satisfied and thinks Du Pont gave up too soon: I reminded him that Du Pont was a judicious and brave officer, and that the Captains of the iron-dads who were chosen officers concurred with Du Pont."
Rear Admiral Porter, in USS Lafayette, personally reconnoitered the Confederate works at Grand Gulf. He found a "strung fort" under construction and shelled the workers out. Con-federate steamer Charm attempted to land supplies for the fort but was driven back up the Big Black River. By the 24th, Porter had stationed his gunboats so that they commanded the upper battery at Grand Gulf and closed off the mouth of the Big Black, "through which ammunition and supplies are brought down, and by which the rebels have hitherto obtained supplies from Red River.'' Porter continued to call for quick action. ''Dispatch,'' he urged Major General McClernand, "is all important at this moment."
Confederate guns at Vicksburg opened fire on Union Army steamers attempting a night passage of the batteries. Tigress was sunk and Empire City was totally disabled; Moderator was badly damaged, but J. W. Cheeseman, Anglo Saxon, and Horizon passed safely.
Farragut on board USS Hartford wrote to Rear Admiral Bailey about his passage of Port Hudson: "My disaster in passing Port Hudson was a misfortune incidental to battle, but the damage, with the exception of the loss of the Mississippi was nothing: the smoke was so thick that the pilots could not see. I worked through by the compass as I did by Jackson and had my pilot in the mizzentop. . . . I have now been absent from my command six weeks and know nothing of what is going on below. . . . they say no news is good news, and I hear of no disasters, and therefore hope for the best."
USS Octorara, Commander Collins, seized blockade running British schooner Handy east of Florida with cargo of salt.
USS Rachel Seaman, Acting Lieutenant Quincy A. Hooper, captured schooner Nymph attempting to run the blockade off Pass Cavallo, Texas, with cargo including coffee, rice, shoes, and medicine.
22 USS Mount Vernon , Acting Lieutenant Trathen, captured schooner St. George off New Inlet, North Carolina, with cargo including salt and rum.
Rear Admiral Farragut gave his thoughts on changes in the Navy uniform in a letter to Assistant Secretary Fox: "Pray do not let those officers at Washington be changing our uniform every week or two. . . . I wish that uniform [for Rear Admiral] had been simply a broad stripe of lace on the cuff say an inch and a quarter wide with a narrow stripe of a quarter of an inch above it, and a little rosette with a silver star in the centre. The star is the designation of the Admiral and therefore should be visible . . . but this adding stripes until they reach a man's elbow, appears to me to be a great error . . you must count the stripes to ascertain the officer's rank, which at any distance is almost impossible. . . The practical uniform, Farragut believed, should be ''well suited to the necessities of the service--easy to procure not expensive--easily preserved-- and the grades distinctly marked." It is essentially the one in use today.
23 Steamers Merrimac, Charleston, and Margaret and Jessie successfully ran the blockade into Wilmington. Brigadier General William H. C. Whiting, CSA, reported: "The Merrimac brings me three splendid Blakely guns, 8-inch rifled 13-pounders."
CSS Florida, Lieutenant Maffitt, captured and burned at sea bark Henrietta bound for Rio de Janeiro with cargo including flour.
USS Tioga, Commander Clary, seized blockade running British sloop Justina bound from Indian River, Florida, to Nassau with cargo of cotton.
USS Pembina, Lieutenant Commander Jonathan Young, captured sloop Elias Beck with near Mobile.
24 The extent to which the South was forced to dispersion of troops and weapons was graphically illustrated in an exchange of messages between General Beauregard at Charleston and Secretary of War J. A. Seddon. This date, Beauregard wrote requesting Whitworth guns, "one to place on Morris Island, to cover at long range the bar and enable us to get guns off the Keokuk, also to keep the enemy from replacing buoys and surveying [the] bar; the other to place on Sullivan's Island to cover vessels running the blockade [which] frequently run ashore." Next day, Seddon replied: ''I regret to be unable to spare the guns even for the object mentioned. The claims of Wilmington and the Mississippi are now paramount.
USS De Soto, Captain William M. Walker, captured blockade running schooners General Prim and Rapid, bound from Mobile to Havana, and sloops Jane Adelie and Bright with cargoes of cotton in the Gulf of Mexico.
CSS Alabama, Captain Semmes, captured and burned whaler Nye off the coast of Brazil with cargo of sperm and whale oil. Semmes later wrote: "The fates seemed to have a grudge against these New England fishermen, and would persist in throwing them in my way, although I was not on a whaling-ground. This was the sixteenth I had captured--a greater number than had been captured from the English by Commodore David Porter, in his famous cruise in the Pacific, in the frigate Essex, during the war of 1812."
CSS Florida, Lieutenant Maffitt, captured and destroyed ship Oneida, bound from Shanghai to New York with cargo of tea.
USS Western World, Acting Master Samuel B. Gregory, and USS Samuel Rotan took schooners Martha Ann and A. Carson off Horn Harbor, Virginia.
USS Pembina, Lieutenant Commander Young, captured schooner Joe Flanner, bound from Havana to Mobile.
25 CSS Georgia, Lieutenant W. L. Maury, captured ship Dictator with cargo of coal off the Cape Verde Islands. Maury burned the prize the next day.
26 USS Lexington, Lieutenant Commander Fitch, joined the ram fleet under Brigadier General Alfred W. Ellet to engage and disperse Confederate cavalry concentrated at the mouth of Duck River, Tennessee.
CSS Alabama, Captain Semmes, captured and burned ship Dorcas Prince at sea, east of Natal, Brazil, with cargo of coal.
USS De Soto, Captain W. M. Walker, seized British schooner Clarita in the Gulf of Mexico, bound from Havana to Matamoras.
USS Sagamore, Lieutenant Commander English, captured schooner New Year of Tortugas, Florida, with cargo of turpentine and cotton.
27 Rear Admiral Porter issued a general order concerning the attack on Grand Gulf: "It is reported that there are four positions where guns are placed, in which case it is desirable that all four places should be engaged at the same time. The Louisville, Carondelet, Mound City, and Pittsburg will proceed in advance, going down slowly, firing their bow guns at the guns in the first battery on the bluff, passing 100 yards from it, and 150 yards apart from each. As they pass the battery on the bluff they will fire grape, canister, and shrapnel, cut at one-half second, and percUSSion shell from rifled guns." Porter gave specific orders for the subsequent actions of the gunboats, and instructed: "The Lafayette will drop down . . . stern foremost, until within 600 yards, firing her rifled guns with percUSSion shells at the upper battery. The Tuscumbia will round to outside the Benton, not firing over her while so doing; after rounding to, she will keep astern and inside of the Benton, using her bow guns while the Benton fires her broadside guns. The Tuscumbia and Benton will also fire their stern guns at the forts below them whenever they will hear, using shell together."
Under Acting Master Louis A. Brown, boat crews from USS Monticello and Matthew Vassar boarded and destroyed British blockade runner Golden Liner in Murrell's Inlet, South Carolina. The ship contained a cargo of flour, brandy, sugar, and coffee.
USS Preble, Acting Master William F. Shankland, was accidentally destroyed by fire while at anchor off Pensacola.
28 U.S. tug Lily, Acting Master R. H. Timmonds, attempting to cross the bow of USS Choctaw, Lieutenant Commander Francis M. Ramsay, at anchor in the Yazoo River, was swept by the current into Choctaw's ram and sunk.
29 Gunboats under Rear Admiral Porter engaged the heavy Confederate works at Grand Gulf, "which," the Admiral acknowledged, "were very formidable." In the 5 1/2-hour battle, the gun-boats silenced the lower batteries but could succeed in stopping the fire from the upper forts only 'for a short time.'' Army transports passed safely below the batteries at night. Grand Gulf had been strongly fortified since Rear Admiral Farragut passed the batteries the preceding summer, to prevent his coming up again," and four batteries were placed a quarter of a mile apart, completely commanding the Mississippi River.
Though USS Benton, Tuscumbia, and Pittsburg were "pretty much cut up" in the engagement, the expedition was successful and the net result was summed up by Porter: "We are now in a position to make a landing where the general [Grant] pleases."
A Confederate soldier wrote on 30 April from Grand Gulf remarking on the state of affairs after the gunboat attack: "We came here two weeks ago and have had hot times ever since. Enemy from their gunboats have shelled us every day. Yesterday our batteries gave them a fight. The firing beat Oak Hill, Elkhorn, Corinth, Hutchin's Bridge, or anything I ever heard. I believe, too, they gave us rather the worst of it. We did not sink a single boat, while they silenced one of our batteries, dismounted 4 pieces, killed Colonel [William] Wade, commanding artillery, and one of his staff, and some 5 or 6 men.
29 April-1 May Union Army and Navy expedition feigned an attack on Confederate batteries at Haynes' Bluff on the Yazoo River. The force consisted of USS Tyler, Choctaw, DeKalb, Signal, Romeo, Linden, Petrel, Black Hawk, and three mortar boats under Lieutenant Commander Breese and 10 large transports carrying troops under command of Major General W. T. Sherman. The feint was made to prevent Confederates from reinforcing Grand Gulf. On the 29th the expedition proceeded as far as Chickasaw Bayou. As the force departed on the morning of the 30th, Petrel, remained at Old River on station; the remaining vessels moved up the Yazoo with Choctaw and DeKalb opening fire on the main works at Drumgould's Bluff and Tyler and Black Hawk opening on the fieldworks and batteries. Though instructed not to conduct an actual assault, the feint was so vigorously prosecuted that Choctaw, Lieutenant Commander Ramsay, was struck 53 times by Confederate guns. The soldiers were landed and "Marched up toward Haynes' Bluff on the only roadway, the levee, making quite a display, and threatening one also." Naval gunfire supported the soldiers throughout the demonstration, which lasted through 1 May. The evening of the 1st, the expedition returned to the mouth of the Yazoo. Porter reported to Secretary Welles: ''The plan succeeded admirably, though the vessels were more exposed than the occasion called for; still as they met with no casualties, with the exception of the hulls, it mattered but little."
USS Juniata, Commander John M. B. Clitz, captured schooner Harvest at sea north of the Bahamas with cargo of cotton,
30 April-1 May Major General Grant ferried his troops across the Mississippi River at Bruinsburg to commence the work of isolating Vicksburg from reinforcements.
U.S. Navy experimenting with a submarine off
1 As requested by Secretary Mallory, the Confederate Congress enacted legislation "To create a
Provisional Navy of the Confederate States." The object of the act, as
explained by Captain Semmes, was . . . without interfering with the rank of the
officers in the Regular Navy, to cull out from the navy list, younger and more
active men, and put them in the Provisional Navy, with increased rank. The
Regular Navy became, thus, a kind of retired list, and the Secretary of the Navy
was enabled to accomplish his object of bringing forward younger officers for
active service, without wounding the feelings of the older officers, by
promoting their juniors over their heads, on the same list.'' At this time the
Confederate Congress also provided that: ''. . . all persons serving in the land
forces of the Confederate States who shall desire to be transferred to the naval
service, and whose transfer as seamen or ordinary seamen shall be applied for by
the Secretary of the Navy, shall be transferred from the land to the naval
service. . . . The Confederate Navy suffered from an acute shortage of seamen.
Mallory complained that the law was not complied with, and that hundreds of men
had applied for naval duty but were not transferred.
Boat expedition from USS Western World, Acting Master S. B. Gregory, and USS Crusader, Acting Master Andrews, destroyed two Confederate schooners aground at Milford Haven, Virginia.
USS Kanawha, Lieutenant Commander Mayo, captured schooner Dart, bound from Havana to Mobile .
2 Captain John Rodgers wrote Secretary Welles relative to the April attack on Charleston : "The punishment which the monitors are able to stand is wonderful but it cannot be denied that their gun gear is more liable to accident than was foreseen. Battles are won by two qualities, ability to endure, and ability to injure. The first we possess in an unrivalled degree the latter one more sparingly. No vessels have ever been under such a fire as that of Charleston before, since the guns are new inventions only perfected since the Crimean War. When a man is in a tight place, he is to do the best he can-that best is often not a pleasant choice. Still if it is the best he can do, it is a great want of wisdom not to do the best he can. Experiment before the most formidable modern artillery has demonstrated that the monitors are more liable to lose their power of shooting than was foreseen but it does not appear that these deficiencies are irremediable even in the present monitors. . . . the vessels were fast getting hors de combat. No one can say what would have been the result of a renewal of the fight but if after a renewal we had been driven out, and left a single monitor to fall into the enemy's hands then the whole character of the war would have changed the wooden blockade would have been at an end as far at least as Charleston is concerned, as far indeed as she could get along the coast. Seeing the damage we received and not knowing the in jury we were doing, the Admiral did not choose to risk the chances of a combat a' l'outrance which if it went against us would entail such momentous consequences. It was not fair game. In losing a couple of monitors to them we should receive far more injury than the taking of Charleston would advance our cause.
Two boat crews from USS Roebuck, Acting Master John Sherrill, seized blockade running British schooner Emma Amelia off St. Joseph's Bay, Florida, with cargo including flour and wine.
USS Perry, Acting Master William D. Urann, captured blockade running schooner Alma, bound from Bermuda to Beaufort, South Carolina, with cargo of salt and liquor.
USS Sacramento, Captain Charles S. Boggs, seized blockade running British schooner Wanderer off Murrell's Inlet, North Carolina, with cargo of salt and herring.
2-9 Union gunboats under Lieutenant Commander Selfridge, protecting steamers from guerrilla activity in the Greenville, Mississippi, vicinity, responded quickly when such action required it. On 2 May steamer Era was fired upon 3 miles above Greenville. USS Cricket, Acting Lieutenant Amos R. Langthorne, engaged the Confederate battery and then convoyed steamer Champion downstream the following day. In Cricket's absence, steamer Minnesota was destroyed by Southern guerrilla troops. USS Conestoga drove the force away and remained in the area until the evening of the 7th, when, after coaling USS Cricket and Rattler , she returned to the mouth of the White River. Next day, Selfridge ordered USS General Bragg to “destroy the property in the vicinity of the recent firing upon the gunboat Cricket and transport Minnesota." On the 9th this order was carried out and ''houses etc. . . . affording a protection to the enemy'' were destroyed, after which the Union ships returned to their normal stations.
3 Having paved the way for a final assault on Grand Gulf with the attack of 29 April, Rear Admiral Porter once again moved his gunboats against the strong Confederate batteries. The Southerners, however, finding their position totally untenable, Grant having taken his army into the country back of Grand Gulf, had evacuated. The great land-sea pincer could now close on Vicksburg. As Porter remarked to Secretary Welles: '' . . it is with great pleasure that I report that the Navy holds the door to Vicksburg." In a general order the Admiral praised those under his command: ''I take this occasion to thank the officers and men engaged in the attack on the forts at Grand Gulf for the unflinching gallantry displayed in that affair. Never has there been so long and steady a fight against forts so well placed and ably commanded: "I take this occasion to thank the officers and men engaged in the attack on the forts at Grand Gulf for the unflinching gallantry displayed in that affair. Never has there been so long and steady a fight against forts so well placed and ably commanded. . . . We have met losses which we can not but deplore; still, we should not regret the death of those who died so nobly at their guns. Officers and men, let us always be ready to make the sacrifice when duty requires it."
Porter departed Grand Gulf with his gunboat squadron and rendezvoused that evening with the Farragut fleet at the mouth of the Red River. After obtaining supplies, he proceeded up the River the next day with USS Benton, Lafayette, Pittsburg, Sterling Price, ram Switzerland, and tug Ivy. USS Estrella and Arina joined en route. The evening of 5 May, the ships arrived at Fort De Russy, Louisiana, ''a powerful casemated work'' which the Confederates had recently evacuated in the face of the naval threat. Porter pushed past a heavy obstruction in the river and proceeded to Alexandria, Louisiana, which he took possession of formally on the morning of the 7th, ''without encountering any resistance.'' Subsequently turning the town over to Army troops, and unable to continue upriver because of the low water, Porter's force returned to Fort De Russy and partially destroyed it. Porter also sent USS Sterling Price, Pittsburg, Arina, and ram Switzerland up the Black River on a reconnaissance. At Harrisonburg these ships encountered heavy batteries, which they engaged with little effect because of the position of the guns ''on high hills.'' Leaving the larger portion of his force at the Red River, Porter returned to Grand Gulf on the 13th.
Confederate troops under Captain Edward F. Hobby, CSA, captured a launch and drove off two other boats from USS William G. Anderson, Acting Lieutenant Hill, at St. Joseph's Island, Texas. The Union boats were salvaging cotton from a sloop which had been run ashore on 30 April.
3 CSS Alabama, Captain Semmes, captured and burned bark Union Jack and ship Sea Lark off Brazil.
4 A part of Rear Admiral Porter's squadron having arrived off the Red River the previous evening, Rear Admiral Farragut sent a dispatch to Secretary Welles: "Feeling now that my instructions of October 2, 1862, have been carried out by my maintenance of the blockade of Red River until the arrival of Admiral Porter . . . I shall return to New Orleans as soon as practicable, leaving the Hartford and Albatross at the mouth of Red River to await the result of the combined attack upon Alexandria, but with order to Commodore Palmer to avail himself of the first good oppor-tunity to run down past Port Hudson." As the Admiral left Hartford, the crew manned the rigging and filled the air with cheers in tribute to him.
USS Albatross, Lieutenant Commander John E. Hart, on a reconnaissance up the Red River, engaged armed iron steamers Grand Duke and Mary T and Confederate cavalry near Fort De Russy. The Union gunboat sustained considerable damage and was compelled to withdraw.
USS Chocura, Lieutenant Commander Truxtun, with USS Maratanza in company, seized sloop Express off Charleston with cargo of salt.
USS Kennebec, Lieutenant Commander John H. RUSSell, captured schooner Juniper, bound from Havana to Mobile.
5 Major General John A. Dix wrote Rear Admiral S.P. Lee, requesting naval assistance and sup-port during an expedition on the York River: "I need two gunboats to cover the landing of the troops. Lee assigned USS Commodore Morris, Morse, and Mystic to this duty and directed Lieutenant Commander Gillis to ". . . give the army all the assistance in your power." Two days later the Union vessels convoyed the Army transports as far as West Point and supported the landing. Guarding the troops until the soldiers' line of entrenchments was secure, Gillis de-tailed Morse and Mystic to remain on station to ''repel any attack that may be made, as their guns command the peninsula completely."
USS Tahoma, Lieutenant Commander A. A. Semmes, captured schooner Crazy Jane in the Gulf of Mexico northwest of Charlotte Harbor, Florida, with cargo of cotton and turpentine.
6 Commander North, CSN, wrote Secretary Mallory from Scotland regarding ships being built in England: ''For the first time I begin to fear that our vessels stand in much danger of being seized by this Government. I have written to our minister in France to know if this ship can be put under the French flag; this will involve some expense, but shall not consider a few thousand pounds . . . if we can only succeed in getting out . . . aiding to raise the blockade and making captures of some of their vessels, which may prove valuable additions to our little navy.
Rear Admiral Dahlgren noted in his private journal: "Captain Drayton came in about supper-time from New York, where he had brought the Passaic from Port Royal. He says it would be madness to go into Charleston again, and all the Captains who were in the action so agree fully. He thinks Dupont intended to renew the attack, but when the Captains of the iron-dads assembled in his ship, and made their reports, he gave it up.
CSS Florida, Lieutenant Maffitt, captured brig Clarence off the coast of Brazil. Clarence was converted into a Confederate cruiser under Lieutenant Charles Read who wrote: ''I propose to take the brig which we have just captured, and with a crew of twenty men to proceed to Hampton Roads and cut out a gunboat or steamer of the enemy.'' Maffitt concurred with the daring plan and ordered Clarence to raid Union shipping at either Hampton Roads or Baltimore.
USS R. R. Cuyler , Lieutenant Commander James E. Jouett, captured steamer Eugenie bound from Havana to Mobile.
USS Dragon, Acting Master G. F. Hill, seized schooner Samuel First attempting to run the blockade above Potomac Creek, Virginia.
7 The Charleston Mercury reported: ''The guns of this famous ironclad [USS Keokuk] now lie on the South Commercial wharf. They consist of two long XI-inch columbiads, and will be mounted for our defense, valuable acquisitions, no less than handsome trophies of the battle of Charleston Harbor. . . . The turret had to be unbolted, or unscrewed, and taken off before the guns could be slung for removal. This was an unpleasant job of some difficulty, the labor being performed under water, when the sea was smooth, and in the night time only. Those engaged in the under-taking, going in the small boat of the fort, were sometimes protected from the enemy by the presence of our gunboats; at other times not. One gun was raised last week, being removed by the old lightboat. General Ripley himself, night before last, went down to superintend the removal of the second gun. Enterprise, even with scant means, can accomplish much.''
8 Secretary Welles received Rear Admiral Porter's dispatch regarding the fall of Grand Gulf and informed President Lincoln. ''The news,'' wrote Welles, ''was highly gratifying to the President, who had not heard of it until I met him at the Cabinet-meeting.
Union Mortar Flotilla under Commander Charles H. B. Caldwell, supported by USS Richmond, Captain Alden, opened the bombardment of the Confederate works at Port Hudson, Louisiana.
USS Canandaigua, Captain Joseph F. Green, seized blockade running steamer Cherokee off Charleston with cargo of cotton.
USS Flag, Commander James H. Strong, captured schooner Amelia attempting to run the blockade out of Charleston late at night with cargo of cotton. While under tow, Amelia developed a serious leak in a storm on the 15th and had to be abandoned.
USS Primrose, Master William T. Street, captured schooner Sarah Lavinia at Corrotoman Creek, Virginia.
9 Captain Case, commanding USS Iroquois, reported that the Confederates were mounting guns on the northern faces of Fort Fisher at Wilmington . ''They appear, he wrote Rear Admiral S. P. Lee, ''to be large caliber.'' This defensive strengthening of the Southern position was in keeping with the view voiced by Lieutenant John Taylor Wood, CSN, in a 14 February 1863, letter to President Davis concerning the defenses of Wilmington: ''The batteries covering the water approaches, as far as I am able to judge, are well placed and admirably constructed. But the great want, the absolute necessity of the place if it is to be held against naval attack, is heavy guns, larger caliber.'' So well did the Confederates do their job that Fort Fisher successfully dominated Cape Fear until the massive amphibious operation in January 1865.
USS Aroostook, Lieutenant Commander Franklin, seized schooner Sea Lion bound from Mobile to Havana with cargo of cotton.
10 USS Mound City, Lieutenant Commander Bryon Wilson, reconnoitering near Warrenton, Mis-sissippi took a recently constructed battery under fire and "in a short time it was all in a blaze.' Rear Admiral Porter observed: "Thus ended a fort in the space of an hour which had taken the rebels five months to build, working mostly day and night.'' This form of constant hammering by the gunboats at every point along the western waters sapped Confederate strength and resources. Boat crews from USS Owasco, Lieutenant Commander John Madigan, Jr., and USS Katahdin, Lieutenant Commander Philip C. Johnson, burned blockade runner Hanover off Galveston.
12 Writing of the significance of Farragut's operations in the Mississippi below Vicksburg, Commodore H. H. Bell said: “I am one of those who attaches more importance to the admiral's brilliant move up the river than to anything that has been done by navy or army since capture of New Orleans. It was the finishing stroke to that great blow, and I am glad the admiral did it single handed, unassisted from other quarters. The want of provisions soon became sensibly felt from Vicksburg to Richmond. . . . It was better than any battle, for it is of wider influence and more generally felt than any battle. Man cannot hold together without food. . . . It was gallantly done, and I think the admiral has fairly wedded his name to the Mississippi through all ages to come.''
Having begun an expedition up the Tennessee River on 5 May to destroy "every kind of boat that could serve the rebels to cross the river,'' gunboats under Lieutenant Commander S. L. Phelps supported an Army assault on Confederate troops at Linden, Tennessee. ''Along the river,'' Phelps reported, ''I heard of detachments of rebel cavalry at various Points At Linden . . . there was a rebel force of this kind posted. I arranged with Colonel [William] K. M.; Breckenridge to cross his small force and cover different Points with the gunboats, places to which he could retreat if need be, while he should attempt to surprise Linden.'' Taking the Union cavalry on board the gunboats Phelps transported them across the river ''with little noise,'' thereby enabling the surprise attack to be completely successful. In many effective ways mobile naval support of Army movements extended the effective use of seapower deep into the arteries of the Confederacy.
USS Conemaugh, Commander Reed Werden, and USS Monticello, Lieutenant Commander Braine, stood in close to shore at Murrell's Inlet, South Carolina, and bombarded five schooners aground there. Werden reported: ''It affords me pleasure to state that so accurate was our firing that in less than an hour we had fired about 100 bales of cotton on the beach near the schooners, set one schooner on fire, and more or less injured all the others in spars and hull.''
13 The persistent Army-Navy siege and assault on Vicksburg compelled Confederate strategists to withdraw much needed troops from the eastern front in an effort to bring relief to their beleaguered forces in the west. General Beauregard and others warned repeatedly of the possible disasters such loss of strength in the Charleston area and elsewhere might bring. This date, Confederate Secretary of War James A. Seddon wrote to those objecting to the transfer of troops from Charles-ton to Vicksburg: I beg you to reflect on the vital importance of the Mississippi to our cause, to South Carolina, and to Charleston itself. Scarce any point in the Confederacy can be deemed more essential, for the 'cause of each is the cause of all,' and the sundering of the Confederacy [along the line of the Mississippi] would be felt as almost a mortal blow to the most remote parts.''
General Banks wrote Rear Admiral Farragot that the withdrawal of USS Hartford and other ships down river from above Port Hudson "would lose to us all that has been gained in the cam-paigns for the passage of the fleet to this day, as it would reopen to Port Hudson the now closed avenue of supplies." Farragut responded on 15 May and directed that Commodore James S. Palmer remain above "so long as he can contribute to the fall of Port Hudson."
Float expedition from USS Kingfisher, Acting Master John C. Dutch, departed St. Helena Sound for Edisto, South Carolina, where previous reconnaissance missions had revealed a large quantity of corn was stored. The expedition returned five days later with 800 bushels. "My object," Dutch reported, ''in doing this was, first, to prevent its falling into rebel hands, and, second, to supply the people in this vicinity."
USS Huntsville, Acting Lieutenant W. C. Rogers, captured schooner A. J. Hodge at sea off the east Florida coast.
USS Daffodil, Acting Master E. M. Baldwin, seized blockade running British schooner Wonder off Port Royal.
CSS Florida, Lieutenant Maffitt, captured ship Crown Point off the coast of Brazil. After removing stores, Maffitt burned the prize.
USS De Soto, Captain Walker, seized schooner Sea Bird from Havana, off Pensacola Bay.
14 Boat crew from USS Currituck, Acting Master Linnekin, captured schooner Ladies' Delight near Urbanna, Virginia.
15 Writing Benjamin F. Isherwood, Chief of the Bureau of Steam Engineering, regarding the U.S. naval floating machine shop at Port Royal, Rear Admiral Du Pont said: "This establishment is a most essential and important accession to the efficiency of this squadron, turning out an amount of work highly creditable to all concerned with it and particularly to Chief Engineer McCleery whose attention is ceaseless to the wants of the steamers now by long service so frequently requiring repairs. In this connection I would call the attention of the Bureau to the necessity of sending out a small store vessel in which the materials required for work at the machine shop, now constantly increasing since the arrival of the ironclads, could be stored, and that some person be carefully selected to take charge thereof. The machine shop, as the Bureau is aware is in two old hulks, one of which is taken up entirely as a workshop and for quarters; and the other is in too decayed a condition to be suitable for the purpose of stowage."
U.S. S. Canandaigua, Captain J. F. Green, captured blockade running sloop Secesh off Charleston with cargo of cotton.
USS Kanawha, Lieutenant Commander Mayo, seized blockade running British brig Comet 20 miles east of Fort Morgan, Mobile Bay.
Some 35 Confederates seized mail steamers Arrow and Emily at Currituck bridge and forced the crews to pilot them to Franklin, Virginia.
16 Commander Bulloch wrote Secretary Mallory from London: ". . . I had understood, and Mr. Slidell was under the impression, that French builders, being anxious to establish business con-nections with the South and to compete with England for the custom of the Confederate States after the war, would be willing to deal with us largely upon credit . . . I found that French builders, like the English, wanted money, and were not willing to lay down the ships unless I could give security in the shape of cotton certificates. . . Chronic currency shortage constantly blocked Confederate ambitions abroad.
USS Two Sisters, Acting Master's Mate John Boyle, captured schooner Oliver S. Breese off the Anclote Keys, Florida, hound from Havana to Bayport, Florida.
Store ship USS Courier, Acting Master Walter K. Cressy, captured blockade running sloops Angelina and Emeline off the South Carolina coast, bound from Charleston to Nassau with cargoes of cotton.
USS Powhatan , Captain Steedman, captured sloop C. Routereau off Charleston with small cargo of cotton and turpentine.
17 Confederate blockade runner Cuba was burned by her crew in the Gulf of Mexico to prevent capture by USS De Soto, Captain W. M. Walker. Rear Admiral Bailey reported: "Her cargo cost 5400,000 in specie at Havana, and was worth at Mobile a million and a quarter.
USS Courier, Acting Master Cressy, captured schooner Maria Bishop at sea off Cape Romain, South Carolina, with cargo of cotton.
Flag Officer Silas H. Stringham, in USS Minnesota, reported the capture of schooner Almira Ann near the Chickahominy River, Virginia, with cargo of timber.
USS Kanawha, Lieutenant Commander Mayo, captured schooner Hunter bound from Mobile to Havana with cargo of cotton.
18 Gunboats under Rear Admiral Porter joined with troops under Generals Grant and W. T. Sherman in assaulting Confederate works to the rear of Vicksburg. Porter had departed for the operation on the Yazoo River on the 15th. He reported to Secretary Welles: ''Leaving two of the ironclads at Red River, one at Grand Gulf, one at Carthage, three at Warrenton, and two in the Yazoo, left me a small force to cooperate with; still, I disposed of them to the best advantage." Observing that Grant's troops had cut off Confederates at Snyder's Bluff, Porter ordered USS Baron De Kalb, Choctaw, Linden, Romeo, Petrel, and Forest Rose up the Yazoo to assist the Army. Upon the Union occupation of Snyder's Bluff, Porter quickly sent up provisions for the troops, and USS De KaIb, Lieutenant Commander J. G. Walker, pushed on to Haynes' Bluff which the Southerners were evacuating. Porter noted that "guns, forts, tents, and equipage of all kinds fell into our hands." Quickly taking advantage of the opportunities presented by the fall of the heavy works, the Admiral moved the gunboats into position and began to shell the hill batteries at Vicksburg. On. the 19th six mortars began to fire "night and day as rapidly as they could."
USS Linden, Acting Lieutenant T. E. Smith, escorted five Army transports down the Mississippi. The lead transport, Crescent City, was fired into by a Confederate masked battery at Island No. 82, wounding some soldiers. Linden immediately opened fire, and drove the artillerists from their battery. Under the ships' guns, troops were landed and the buildings in the area were destroyed in retaliation
USS Kanawha, Lieutenant Commander Mayo, took schooner Ripple bound from Mobile to Havana with cargo of cotton.
USS Shepherd Knapp, Acting Lieutenant Henry Eytinge, ran aground on a reef at Cape Haitien, West Indies, could not get off, and was stripped of all usable stores, provisions, and instruments before being abandoned.
Boat crew under Acting Master's Mate N. Mayo Dyer from USSR. R. Cuyler boarded, captured, and burned schooner Isabel near Fort Morgan, Mobile Bay.
USS Octorara, Commander Collins, captured British blockade runner Eagle near the Bahamas. Collins reported that the chase had failed "to heave to till we had disabled her machinery.
18-21 Confederate troops planted torpedoes in Skull Creek, South Carolina, "with a view of destroying the enemy's vessels, which are constantly passing through this thoroughfare.''
19 As Union Army troops advanced on Vicksburg, Generals Grant and Sherman sought continuous naval support for their movements. Grant wrote Rear Admiral Porter: ''If you can run down and throw shell in just back of the city it will aid us and demoralize an already badly beaten enemy.' Sherman requested similar assistance: "My right [flank] is on the Mississippi. We have possession of the bluff down a mile or more below the mouth of the Bayou. Can't you send immediately a couple of gunboats down? They can easily see and distinguish our men, and can silence a water battery that is the extremity of their flank on the river and enfilade the left flank of their works.'' USS Benton, Lieutenant Commander James A.- Greer, was ordered into action at once by Porter: "The moment you see the forts on the hills opening on our troops advancing toward the town, move up and open at long range with shell on such forts as may be firing. The object is to disconcert the enemy, and by firing shell at your longest range, you can do so. Do not come in range of the guns above the city, as there arc no forts there that can trouble our army. Fire on the forts on the hill, and try and drop your shell in them.''
Lieutenant Commander Reigart B. Lowry wrote Secretary Welles urging that naval officers and seamen not employed at sea be used to man forts and seacoast defenses: ''The most successful defenses made against us - - - at various points of the Mississippi and the seacoast have been made by ex-naval officers and seamen; in the last defense of Port Hudson the guns were worked by seamen and naval men, so at Vicksburg, at Galveston, and Charleston. The defenses of Sebastopol were entirely defended by Russian seamen for many months, while from the fort guarding that port they beat back the combined fleets of England and France."
USS Huntsville, Acting Lieutenant W. C. Rogers, seized blockade running Spanish steamer Union in the Gulf of Mexico west of St. Petersburg.
Mortar schooner USS Sophronia, Acting Ensign William R. Rude, seized schooner Mignonette at Piney Point, Virginia, attempting to smuggle whiskey.
USS De Soto, Captain W. M. Walker, captured schooner Mississippian in the Gulf of Mexico, bound from Mobile to Havana with cargo of cotton and turpentine.
20 Rear Admiral Farragut reported to Secretary Welles: ''We are again about to attack Port Hudson. General Banks supported by the Hartford, Albatross and some of the small gunboats, will attack from above, landing probably at Bayou Sara, while General Augur will march up from Baton Rouge and will attack the place from below. . . . my vessels are pretty well used up, but they must work as long as they can."
Writing of the reports he had made to the Navy Department after the Charleston attack, Rear Admiral Du Pont noted: ''I did not call a failure, a reconnaissance. I told them, to renew the attack would be to convert failure into disaster. I told them moreover that Charleston could not be taken by a purely naval attack-nor can it be in the ordinary professional acceptation of the term not that there is not power enough in the country to do it- but there is nothing to justify its application or to reward its success commensurate with the sacrifice etc. When Admiral Sir Charles Napier informed the Admiralty that to attack Cronstadt would be the destruction of the British fleet-or when the combined fleets withdrew from the attack of the forts at Sebastopol, it was not intended to convey, there was not wealth and life enough in Britain and France to accomplish it. Blood and treasure may do almost anything in war. Suvorov bridged marshes with human bodies, by forcing his advance guard into them, until the remainder of his army found a foot-hold on their fallen comrades."
Boat crew under Acting Master's Mate Charles W. Fisher of USS Louisiana captured schooner R. T. Renshaw in the Tar River, above Washington, North Carolina.
21 General Grant wrote Rear Admiral Porter, informing him of an anticipated Army attack on Vicksburg and requesting the assistance of the gunboats: ''I expect to assault the city at 10 a.m. tomorrow. I would request, and earnestly request it, that you send up the gunboats below the city and shell the rebel entrenchments until that hour and for thirty minutes after. 1f the mortars could all be sent down to near this point on the Louisiana shore, and throw shells during the night, it would materially aid me. I would like at least to have the enemy kept annoyed during the night." Porter responded and "kept six mortars playing rapidly on the works and town all night; sent the Benton, Mound City, and Carondelet up to shell the water batteries, and other places where troops might be resting during the night." Early the morning of 22 May, Mound City, Lieutenant Commander Wilson, engaged the hill batteries. An hour later she was joined by USS Benton, Tuscumbia, and Carondelet. The combined fire temporarily silenced the Confederate work. Leaving Tuscumbia to prevent further action by the hill batteries, Porter proceeded with the other three gunboats against the water batteries. These guns opened on the Union ships "furiously," but Porter forced his way to within a quarter of a mile of them. By this time the gunboats had been engaged for an hour longer than Grant had requested, and, with no Army assault apparently forthcoming, the Admiral directed his ships to drop back out of range. The gunboats were hit ''a number of times'' but suffered little severe damage; they were, however, nearly out of ammunition when the attack was broken off. The Admiral later learned that the troops ashore had attacked Vicksburg, an unsuccessful assault that had been obscured from the squadron's view by the smoke and noise of its own guns and the Confederate batteries. Praising Grant's effort, Porter remarked: ''The army had terrible work before them, and are fighting as well as soldiers ever fought before, but the works are stronger than any of us dreamed of." Brigadier General John McArthur in turn praised the work of the gunboats. He wrote Porter: "I received your communication regarding the silencing of the two batteries below Vicksburg, and in reply would say that I witnessed with intense satisfaction the firing on that day, being the finest I have yet seen.
Under Lieutenant Commander J. G. Walker, USS Baron De Kalb, Choctaw, Forest Rose, Linden, and Petrel pushed up the Yazoo River from Haynes' Bluff to Yazoo City, Mississippi. As the gun-boats approached the city, Commander Isaac N. Brown, CSN, who had commanded the heroic ram CSS Arkansas the preceding summer, was forced to destroy three ''powerful steamers, rams and a "fine navy yard, with machine shops of all kinds, sawmills, blacksmith shops, etc. . . to prevent their capture. Porter noted that ''what he had begun our forces finished," as the city was evacuated by the Southerners. The Confederate steamers destroyed were Mobile, Republic, and ''a monster, 310 feet long and 70 feet beam.'' Had the latter been completed, ''she would have given us much trouble.'' Porter's prediction to Secretary Welles at the end of the expedition, though overly optimistic in terms of the time that would be required, was nonetheless a clear summary of the effect of the gunboats' sweep up the Yazoo: ''It is a mere question of a few hours, and then, with the exception of Port Hudson (which will follow Vicksburg), the Mississippi will be open its entire length.''
Rear Admiral Farragut wrote Captain John R. Goldsborough, commanding the blockading force off Mobile: "I am much gratified to find that you are adding to the successes of the day by the number of captures recently made. . . . I know' that your service is one of great anxiety, and irksome, with but little compensation save the pleasure of knowing that you are doing your duty toward your country. I know your officers would be glad to be with me in the river, and gladly would I bring them here to my assistance were it not indispensable to have them on the blockade. I feel as if I was about to make the last blow at them [the Confederates] I shall for some time to come. The fall of Port Hudson will place Admiral Porter in command of the river, and I shall join my fleet outside, and trust I shall call on my officers outside for their exertions in the reduc-tions of the last two places Mobile and Galveston."
USS Union, Acting Lieutenant Edward Conroy, seized blockade running British schooner Linnet in the Gulf of Mexico, west of Charlotte Harbor, Florida.
USS Currituck, Acting Master Linnekin, USS Anacostia, Acting Master Nelson Provost, and USS Satellite, Acting Master John F. D. Robinson, captured schooner Emily at the mouth of the Rappahannock River.
22 Small boats from USS Fort Henry, Lieutenant Commander McCauley, captured sloop Isabella in Waccassassa Bay, Florida.
Union Army steamer Allison destroyed schooner Sea Bird after seizing her cargo of coal near New Bern, North Carolina.
24 Confederates fired on the commissary and quartermaster boat of the Marine Brigade under Brigadier General A. Ellet above Austin, Mississippi, on the evening of 23 May. Before dawn, this date, Ellet's forces went ashore, engaged Confederate cavalry some 8 miles outside of Austin, and, after a 2-hour engagement, compelled the Southerners to withdraw. Finding evidence of smuggling and in reprisal for the firing of the previous evening, Ellet ordered the town burned. ''As the fire progressed,'' Ellet reported, ''the discharge of firearms was rapid and frequent in the burning buildings, showing that fire is more penetrating in its search [for hidden weapons] than my men had been, two heavy explosions of powder also occurred during the conflagration.
A boat expedition under Acting Master Edgar Van Slyck from USS Port Royal, Lieutenant Commander Morris, captured sloop Fashion above Apalachicola, Florida, with cargo of cotton. Van Slyck also burned the facility at Devil's Elbow where the sloop had been previously repaired and destroyed a barge near Fashion.
24-30 Lieutenant Commander J. G. Walker ascended the Yazoo River with USS Baron De KaIb, Forest Rose, Linden, Signal, and Petrel to capture transports and to break up Confederate movements. Fifteen miles below Fort Pemberton, Walker found and burned four steamers which were sunk on a bar blocking the river. Fire was exchanged with Confederate sharp shooters as the Union gunboats returned downriver. A landing party destroyed a large sawmill, and at Yazoo City "brought away a large quantity of bar, round, and flat iron from the navy yard." Walker next penetrated the Sunflower River for about 150 miles, destroying shipping and grain before return-ing to the mouth of the Yazoo River. Admiral Porter reported to Secretary Welles: ''Steamers to the amount of $700,000 were destroyed by the late expedition, nine in all.''
25 CSS Alabama, Captain Semmes, captured and burned ship Gildersleeve and bonded Justina off Bahia, Brazil.
26 General Banks wrote Rear Admiral Farragut of the status of the assault on Port Hudson, adding: ''Please let the mortars destroy the enemy's rest at night." The Admiral answered: ''I shall con-tinue to harass the enemy occasionally day and night. He was pretty well exercised last night both by the Hartford and the mortars. . . . We have several mortar boats up half a mile nearer, and the ships will be ready to open the moment you give us notice. . . . We will aid you all we can.
Commander Davenport reported the assistance rendered the Army in the occupation of Wilkinson's Point, North. Carolina. USS Ceres, Shawsheen, and Brinker reconnoitered the area along the Neuse River, capturing and destroying a number of small schooners and boats. The gunboats then covered the landing of the troops and remained on station until the Army was solidly entrenched in its position.
27 USS Cincinnati, Lieutenant Bache, ". . . in accordance with Generals Grant's and Sherman's urgent request," moved to enfilade some rifle pits which had barred the Army's progress before Vicksburg. Though Porter took great precautions for the ship's safety by packing her with logs and hay, a shot entered Cincinnati's magazine, "and she commenced filling rapidly." Bache reported: ''Before and after this time the enemy fired with great accuracy, hitting us almost every time. We were especially annoyed by plunging shots from the hills, an 8-inch rifle and a 10-inch smoothbore doing us much damage. The shot went entirely through our protection-hay, wood, and iron." Cincinnati, suffering 25 killed or wounded and 15 probable drownings, went down with her colors nailed to the mast. General Sherman wrote: "The style in which the Cincinnati engaged the battery elicited universal praise.'' And Secretary Welles expressed the Department's appreciation of your brave conduct."
Confederate defenders turned back a major assault on Port Hudson, inflicting severe losses on the Union Army. General Banks' troops fell back into siege position and appealed to Rear Admiral Farragut to continue the mortar and ship bombardment night and day, and requested naval officers and Marines to man a heavy naval battery ashore. A week later, Farragut reported the situation to Welles: "General Banks still has Port Hudson closely invested and is now putting up a battery of four IX-inch guns and four 24 pounders. The first will be superintended by Lieutenant [Commander] Terry, of the Richmond, and worked by four of her gun crews and to be used as a breaching battery. We continue to shell the enemy every night from three to five hours, and at times during the day when they open fire on our troops. . . . I have the Hartford and two or three gunboats above Port Hudson; the Richmond, Genesee, Essex, and this vessel [Monongahela], together with the mortar boats below, ready to aid the army in any way in our power.
CSS Chattahoochee, Lieutenant John J. Guthrie, was accidentally sunk with what one Southern newspaper termed ''terrible loss of life" by an explosion in her boilers. Occurring while the gunboat was at anchor in the Chattahoochee River, Georgia, the accident cost the lives of some 18 men and injured others. She was later raised but never put to sea and was ultimately destroyed at war's end by the Confederates.
From Grand Gulf Lieutenant Commander Elias K. Owen, USS Louisville, reported to Rear Admiral Porter that, in accord with his order of the 23rd, the destruction of the abandoned Rock Hill Point Battery had begun. He also informed the Admiral that at "the earnest request of Colonel [William] Hall, late commanding this post, I went up Big Black some three miles and destroyed a raft the enemy had placed across the river, chained at both ends.
USS Coeur de Lion, Acting Master William G. Morris, burned schooners Charity, Gazelle, and Flight in the Yeoeomico River, Virginia.
USS Brooklyn , Commodore H. H. Bell, captured sloop Blazer with cargo of cotton at Pass Cavallo, Texas.
28 Rear Admiral Porter instructed his gunboat squadron that "it will be the duty of the commander of every vessel to fire on people working on the enemy's batteries, to have officers on shore examining the heights, and not to have it said that the enemy put up batteries in sight of them and they did nothing to prevent it." The heavy firepower of the Union vessels- massed, mobile artillery-seriously hindered Confederate defenses and was a decisive factor in battle.
USS Brooklyn, Commodore H. H. Bell, captured sloop Kate at Point Isabel, Texas, with cargo of cotton.
29 Major General Grant sent two communiqués to Rear Admiral Porter, requesting naval assistance for Army operations near Vicksburg. In the first he informed the Admiral that a force under Major General Frank P. Blair, Jr., was attempting "to clear out the enemy between the [Big Black and Yazoo rivers, and, if possible, destroy the Mississippi Central Railroad Bridge" over the former. Grant pointed out that there was ''great danger'' of the Confederates cutting this expedition off in the rear and asked that Porter send "one or two gunboats to navigate the Yazoo as high up as Yazoo City,'' so that Blair would be assured an escape route if necessary.
In the second letter, Grant asked Porter: ''Will you have the goodness to order the Marine Brigade to Haynes' Bluff, with directions to disembark and remain in occupation until I can relieve them by other troops?. I have also to request that you put at the disposal of Major S. C. Lyford, chief of ordnance, two siege guns, ammunition, and implements complete, to be placed to the rear of Vicksburg. After they are in battery, and ready for use, I should be pleased to have them manned by crews from your fleet." Porter immediately replied that the brigade would leave early the next morning but that he had only one suitable large gun for use ashore and that one he was fitting on a mortar boat for close support ''to throw shell into the [rifle] pits in front of Sherman." There were, however, six 8-inch guns on board USS Manitou, he told Grant, and he would have them landed as soon as that ship returned from Yazoo City.
Also on this date, Lieutenant Commander Greer, USS Benton, reported firing on Confederates building rifle pits on the crest and side of a hill near the battery that commanded the canal. He drove them away after firing for an hour. This action was renewed during the next 2 days for brief intervals and Greer, on 31 May, reported to Porter: ''They return to their work as soon as the boats drop down."
CSS Alabama, Captain Semmes, captured and burned Jabez Snow in the South Atlantic, bound from Cardiff to Montevideo, Uruguay, with cargo of coal.
USS Cimarron, Commander Andrew J. Drake, took blockade runner Evening Star off Wassaw Sound, Georgia, with cargo of cotton.
30 USS Forest Rose, Acting Lieutenant G. W. Brown, and USS Linden, Acting Lieutenant T. E. Smith, reconnoitered Quiver River, Mississippi. A boat expedition from the two ships captured and burned Dew Drop and Emma Bett.
USS Rhode Island, Commander Stephen D. Trenchard, gave chase to blockade runner Margaret and Jessie off Eleuthera Island. Taking a shot in the boiler, the fleeing steamer was run ashore to keep from sinking with a large cargo of cotton.
Boat expedition under Lieutenant Commander Chester Hatfield captured schooner Star and sloop Victoria at Brazos Santiago, Texas; the latter was burned as she grounded in the attempt to bring her out into the Gulf.
Blockade runner A. D. Vance sailed from Great Britain to Wilmington; this was the first of eleven successful runs through the blockade for the vessel.
31 USS Carondelet, Lieutenant Murphy, patrolling the Mississippi River below Vicksburg, pro-ceeded to Perkins Landing, Louisiana, where Army troops were found cut off from the Union headquarters. Murphy "shelled the woods and thus prevented the enemy from advancing and throwing an enfilading fire on the troops ashore," while awaiting the arrival of a transport which could rescue the soldiers. As Forest Queen arrived and the Union troops began to board her, a large force of Confederates pressed an attack. Carondelet's guns laid down a heavy fire, saving the troops and forcing the Southerners eventually to break off the assault. Carondelet remained at Perkins' Landing after Forest Queen departed, saved those stores and material which it was possible to take on board, and destroyed the rest to prevent its capture by Confederates.
Rear Admiral Porter, accompanied by some of the fleet officers, went ashore, mounted horses and rude to Major General 'V. T. Sherman's headquarters before Vicksburg. Sherman reported that the Admiral, referring to the loss of USS Cincinnati on 27 May, was "willing to lose all the boats if he could do any good." Porter also volunteered to place a battery ashore. To that end, Lieutenant Commander Selfridge visited Sherman on the first of June and reported that he was prepared to land two 8-inch howitzers and to man and work them if the Army would haul the guns in to position and build a parapet for them. On 5 June Selfridge told Porter that one gun was in position and "I shall have the other gun mounted tonight. . . Frequent joint efforts of this nature hastened the end of Vicksburg.
USS Pawnee , Commander Balch, and USS E.B. Hale, Acting Lieutenant Edgar Brodhead, supported an Army reconnaissance to James Island, South Carolina, and covered the troop landing. Balch reported: ''The landing was successfully accomplished and the reconnaissance made, or forces meeting with no opposition, and they were embarked at 9 a.m. and returned to their camps without a casualty of any kind." Colonel Charles H. Simonton, CSA, commanding at James Island, warned: ''This expedition of the enemy removes all [their] fear of our supposed batteries on the Stono, and no doubt we will have visits from them often."
USS Sunflower, Acting Master Edward Van Sice, seized schooner Echo off the Marquesas Keys with cargo of cotton.
The Triton Company is founded in
Permanent Commission examining schematics of Professor Horstford’s submarine Soligo. The vessel may owe much to de Villeroi’s Alliga
1 U.S. Consul Seth C. Hawley at Nassau wrote Assistant Secretary of State
Frederick W. Seward, commenting on the continued attempts to run the blockade
despite the danger of capture or destruction. Naming 28 ships that had run or
attempted to run the blockade since 10 March, Hawley observed that 13 had not
been successful. "This proportion of loss seems too large to allow the
business to be profitable, but this view is deceptive. The number of successful
and unsuccessful voyages must be compared to make a sound conclusion. . . . To
arrive at the probable profit of the business, I made an estimate in the case of
the Ella and Annie. She came into the business in April, has made two successful
voyages and is now absent on the third venture.
"One voyage outward cargo, say $100,000
"One voyage expense, etc. $ 15,000
She returns with 1,300 bales of cotton, weighing an average of 400 pounds pet bale, equal to 45 cents per pound, or $234,000
From which deduct the cost $115,000
Leaves profit $119,000
"Assume that she makes the average four voyages and is lost on the fifth with her cargo, the account would stand thus: Four voyages, profit at $119,000 each, is $476,000; deduct cost of steamer, $100,000, and cargo, $100,000, equal $200,000, leaves as profit on four voyages, $276,000. This estimate of profits is far less; it is not half as great as the figures made by those engaged in the business." Thus patriotism and the great profit realized from a successful run through the blockade combined to induce adventurous Southerners to risk the perils posed by the Union fleet.
In seeking to stop the activities of Confederate blockade runners, vigorous naval officers were not always confined to the water. On hearing that four men engaged in blockade running were ashore near Lawson's Bay on the Rappahannock River, Acting Master Street of USS Primrose took a landing party 4 miles inland and surrounded the house the men had been reported to be in. "On searching the house," Street wrote, " we found four men secreted under the bedding. .
We also obtained $10,635 in notes and bonds belonging to the prisoners.
The Confederate Navy Department assumed complete control of the Selma, Alabama, Iron Works. Under the command of Commander Catesby ap R. Jones, the iron works became a naval ordnance works where naval guns were cast. Between June 1863 and April 1864, nearly 200 guns were cast there, most of them 6.4-inch and 7-inch Brooke rifles.
2 CSS Alabama, Captain Semmes, after a chase of 8 hours in the South Atlantic, captured and burned bark Amazonian, bound from New York to Montevideo with cargo including commercial mail.
USS Anacostia, Acting Master Provost, and USS Primrose, Acting Master Street, took sloop Flying Cloud at Tapp's Creek, Virginia.
3 Rear Admiral Porter, writing from his flagship, USS Black Hawk, informed General Grant that he had sent six 8-inch guns up the Yazoo River, "to be placed where required," and two 9-inch guns to Warrenton as well. The Admiral also wrote to Lieutenant Commander Greer, USS Benton, urging a continual fire from the gunboats into the Vicksburg positions. "The town," he noted, "will soon fall now, and we can affort to expend a little more ammunition.
USS Stars and Stripes, Acting Master Charles L. Willcomb, captured sloop Florida at St. Marks Bay, Florida, with cargo of cotton and tar.
3-4 Ram USS Switzerland, Lieutenant Colonel J. Ellet, reconnoitered the Atchafalaya River as far as Simmesport, Louisiana, upon hearing reports that Confederate General Kirby Smith might be advancing to engage the Union position above Port Hudson. Half a mile above Simmesport, heavy rifle fire was opened on the ram. "Strongly posted behind the levee and heavy earthworks, within 100 yards of the channel of the river," Ellet reported, "they poured a perfect storm of Minie balls upon us as we passed in front of the town. The fire of the artillery was also very severe. After a vigorous exchange in which Switzerland sustained seven hits, the ram withdrew. Next day, USS Lafayette and Pittsburg "proceeded to Simmesport and shelled the rebels away from their breastworks, fired their camp and the houses which had been occupied as their quarters. The gunboats then returned to their positions at the mouth of the Red River.
4 USS Commodore McDonough, Lieutenant Commander Bacon, with steamer Island City, transport Cossack, and Army gunboat Mayflower in company, transported and supported an Army action at Bluffton, South Carolina. The troops disembarked without incident under 'the protection of the gunboat, and proceeded to Bluffton where they met strong Confederate resistance. With naval gunfire support, the town was destroyed and the troops were enabled to reembark with the mission successfully completed.
Angamar’s rocket-propelled ship supposedly ready for sea.
4-5 Joint Army-Navy expedition including USS Commodore Morris, Lieutenant Commander Gillis; USS Commodore Jones, Lieutenant Commander John G. Mitchell; Army gunboat Smith Briggs, and transport Winnissimet with 400 troops embarked, ascended the Mattapony River for the purpose of destroying a foundry above Walkerton, Virginia, where Confederate ordnance was being manufactured. The troops were landed at Walkerton and Marched to the Ayletts area where the machinery, a flour mill, and a large quantity of grain were destroyed. Reembarking the troops and captured livestock, the force fell down river as the gunboats "dropped shells into many deserted houses and completely scoured the banks, and sweeping all the points on the river.
Rear Admiral S. P. Lee reported that: "The vigilant dispositions of Lieutenant Commander Gillis kept the river below clear, and the rebels, attempting demonstrations at several points on the banks, were dispersed by the gunboats." Brigadier General Henry A. Wise, CSA, called the joint expedition a ''daring and destructive raid.'' Constant destruction along the coasts and up the rivers seriously hampered the already industrially deficient South.
5 CSS Alabama, Captain Semmes, captured ship Talisman in the mid-Atlantic en route Shanghai. Semmes wrote in his log: "Received on board from this ship during the day some beef and pork and bread, etc., and a couple of brass 12-pounders, mounted on ship carriages. There were four of these pieces on board, and a quantity of powder and shot, two steam boilers, etc., for fitting up a steam gunboat. . . . at nightfall set fire to the ship, a beautiful craft of 1,100 tons."
USS Wissahickon, Lieutenant Commander Davis, attacked and sank a steamer (name unknown) attempting to run the blockade out of Charleston .
6 Rear Admiral Lee reported to Secretary Welles regarding the urgent need of additional vessels on the blockade: "The two entrances to Cape Fear River make the blockade of Wilmington very difficult. The vessels on one side cannot support those on the other, and each side, particularly the New Inlet side, requires a large blockading force. Two vessels like the New Ironsides are required to protect this blockade against the enemy's ironclads. . . . swift and suitably armed schooners are needed to capture the blockade runners. The fact that these last now go together adds to the difficulty of capturing them, and requires additional strength for this purpose. The blockade requires more and better vessels and must eventually fail without them.'' The North's industrial strength and free access to the world's markets, assured by control of the seas, made the necessary naval buildup possible. The exact opposite was true of the Confederacy. Secretary Mallory , writing Commander Bulloch in Liverpool on 8 June, lamented: "We need ironclads, ironclads, ironclads.
CSS Clarence (prize of CSS Florida), Lieutenant Read, launched a brief but highly successful cruise against Union commerce by capturing and burning bark Whistling Wind with cargo of coal in the Atlantic east of Cape Romain, South Carolina. Read reported: "She was insured by the U.S. Government for the sum of $14,000."
CSS Florida, Lieutenant Maffitt, captured and burned ship Southern Cross, bound from Mexico to New York with cargo of wood.
USS Tahoma, Lieutenant Commander A. A. Semmes, seized schooner Statesman, aground at Gadsen's Point, Florida, with cargo of cotton.
Steamer Lady Walton surrendered to USS Tyler, Lieutenant Commander Prichett, at the mouth of White River, Arkansas.
7 USS Choctaw, Lieutenant Commander Ramsay, and USS Lexington, Lieutenant Commander Bache, defended Union troops at Milliken's Bend, Mississippi, from the assault by a superior number of Confederate soldiers. The Union troops withdrew to the river bank where the guns of the ships could be brought into action. "There," Rear Admiral Porter noted, "the gunboats opened on the rebels with shell, grape, and canister. . . . and compelled the Confederates to fall back. Confederate Major General John G. Walker wrote: . . . it must be remembered that the enemy behind a Mississippi levee, protected on the flanks by gunboats, is as securely posted as it is possible to be outside a regular fortification.''
CSS Clarence, Lieutenant Read, seized schooner Alfred H. Partridge hound from New York to Matamoras with cargo of arms and clothing. "I took the captain's bond for the sum of $5,000 for the delivery of the cargo to loyal citizens of the Confederate states, Read wrote.
8 Crew from a Confederate launch commanded by Master James Duke, CSN, boarded and captured steam tug Boston at Pass a l'Outre, Mississippi River, and put to sea, then capturing and burning Union barks Lenox and Texana. Duke carried Boston safely into Mobile on 11 June. This bold action caused Rear Admiral Farragut considerable concern. Recalling a similar event on 12 April, he wrote the blockade commander off Mobile: "She is the second vessel that has been captured off the mouth of the Mississippi and carried through our blockading squadron into Mobile. I cannot understand how the blockade is run with such ease when you have so strong a numerical force."
CSS Georgia, Lieutenant W.L. Maury, captured ship George Griswold with cargo of coal off Rio de Janeiro. Maury released the prize on bond.
9 Union mortar boats continued to bombard Vicksburg. From dawn until nearly noon, they poured 175 shells into the city as the Confederate position, cut off from supplies and relief, grew steadily more desperate. Heavy rains curtailed the mortar activity the next day, only some 75 shells being fired, but on the 11th the attack was stepped up once again and Ordnance Gunner Eugene Mack reported that 193 mortar shells fell on the river stronghold. Rear Admiral Porter wrote Secretary Welles: "The mortars keep constantly playing on the city and works, and the gunboats throw in their shell whenever they see any work going on at the batteries, or new bat-teries being put up. Not a soul is to be seen moving in the city, the soldiers lying in their trenches or pits, and the inhabitants being stowed in caves or holes dug out in the cliffs. If the city is not relieved by a much superior force from the outside, Vicksburg must fall without anything more being done to it. I only wonder it has held out so long. . ."
CSS Clarence, Lieutenant Read, captured and burned brig Mary Alvina, bound from Boston to New Orleans with cargo of commissary stores. Read, upon interrogating prisoners, concluded that it would not be possible to carry out his intention to harass Union shipping in Hampton Roads. "No vessels," he wrote, were allowed to go into Hampton Roads unless they had supplies for the U.S. Government, and then they were closely watched. . . . I determined to cruise along the coast and try to intercept a transport for Fortress Monroe and with her endeavor to carry out the orders of Commander Maffitt [see 6 May 1863], and in the meantime do all possible injury to the enemy's commerce."
10 Major General Banks, besieging Port Hudson, signaled Rear Admiral Farragut: "Please send to Springfield Landing 500 blank cartridges, 50 schrapnel, 500 shell, and 50 solid shot for the IX-inch navy guns. Please let me know when they will be there." The return signal read: "The ammunition that you asked for will be at Springfield Landing at 5 p.m.
Rear Admiral Du Pont ordered USS Weehawken, Captain J. Rodgers, and USS Nahant, Commander Downes, to Wassaw Sound, Georgia, where it was reported that the powerful ram CSS Atlanta, Commander Webb, was preparing to attack the wooden blockader USS Cimarron. A week later Du Pont's wise foresight would save the day for the Union blockade there.
Confederate officer prisoners of war being transported to Fort Delaware on board steamer Maple Leaf overpowered the guard, took possession of the steamer, and landed below Cape Henry, Virginia.
11 Rear Admiral Farragut wrote Major General Banks regarding the continuous bombardment of Port Hudson: "You must remember that we have been bombarding this place five weeks, and we are now upon our last 500 shells, so that it will not be in my power to bombard more than three or four hours each night, at intervals of five minutes. . . . I was under the impression that our shelling only served two purposes to break their rest and silence their guns, when they opened in our sight; the last he has ceased to do, and they have now become indifferent to the former. After the people have been harassed to a certain extent they become indifferent to danger, I think, but we will do all in our power to aid you."
Steamer Havelock ran past USS Memphis, Stettin, and Ottawa at Charleston but was so severely battered by the blockaders' fire that she was found at daybreak aground on Folly Island and ablaze. Captain Turner, USS New Ironsides, reported that she was ''a total wreck."
USS Florida, Commander Bankhead, captured blockade running steamer Calypso attempting to dash into Wilmington with cargo including drugs, provisions, and plating for ironclads.
Boat crew from USS Coeur de Lion, Acting Master W. G. Morris, seized and burned schooners Odd Fellow and Sarah Margaret in Coan River, Virginia.
12 CSS Clarence, Lieutenant Read, captured bark Tacony of Cape Hatteras and shortly thereafter took schooner M. A. Shindler from Port Royal to Philadelphia in ballast. Read determined to transfer his command to Tacony, she ''being a better sailor than the Clarence," and was in the process of transferring the howitzer when another schooner, Kate Stewart, from Key West to Philadelphia, was sighted. "Passing near the Clarence," Read reported, "a wooden gun was pointed at her and she was commanded to heave to, which she did immediately. . . . As we were now rather short of provisions and had over fifty prisoners, I determined to bond the schooner Kate Stewart and make a cartel of her." Read then destroyed both Clarence and M. A. Shindler and stood in chase of another brig, Arabella, which he soon overhauled. She had a neutral cargo, and Read "bonded her for $30,000, payable thirty days after peace." Thus the career of CSS Clarence was at an end. In a week's time she had made six prizes, three of which had been destroyed, two bonded, and her successor, CSS Tacony, sailed against Union shipping under the same daring skipper and his crew.
13 CSS Georgia, Lieutenant W. L. Maury, captured bark Good Hope bound from Boston to Cape of Good Hope; the prize was burned at sea on 14 June after provisions and stores were removed.
USS Juniata, Commander Clitz, captured blockade running schooner Fashion off the coast of Cuba with cargo of salt and soda.
USS Sunflower, Acting Master Van Sice, captured schooner Pushmataha off Tortugas.
13-15 Confederate guerrillas fired into USS Marmora, Acting Lieutenant Getty, near Eunice, Arkansas, and on the morning of the 14th, took transport Nebraska under fire. In retaliation, Getty sent a landing party ashore and destroyed the town, "including the railroad depot, with locomotive and car inside, also the large warehouse . . . The next day, 15 June, landing parties from Marmora and USS Prairie Bird, Acting Lieutenant Edward E. Brennand, destroyed the town of Gaines Landing in retaliation for a guerrilla attempt to burn the Union coal barge there and for firing on Marmora.
14 President Lincoln authorized the Secretary of the Treasury to "cooperate by the revenue cutters under your direction with the Navy in arresting rebel depredations on American commerce and transportation and in capturing rebels engaged therein." The directive was largely the result of Lieutenant Read's continued raid on Union commerce near Northern shores.
Rear Admiral Porter wired Secretary Welles: "The situation of affairs here has altered very little. We are still closing on the enemy. General Grant's position is a safe one, though he should have all the troops that can possibly be sent to him. We have mounted six heavy navy guns in the rear of Vicksburg and can give the army as many as they want. I think the town can't hold out longer than the 22d of June. The gunboats and mortars keep up a continual fire." The intrepid defenders of Vicksburg held out against the crushing water and land siege for 2 weeks beyond Admiral Porter's estimate.
CSS Florida, Lieutenant Maffitt, captured ship Red Gauntlet in West Indian waters.
CSS Georgia, Lieutenant W. L. Maury, captured at sea and bonded bark J.W. Seaver with cargo of machinery for Russia.
USS Lackawanna, Captain John B. Marchand, captured blockade running steamer Neptune, bound from Havana to Mobile.
15 CSS Atlanta, Commander Webb, got underway in the early evening and passed over the lower obstructions in the Wilmington River, preparatory to an anticipated attack on the Union forces in Wassaw Sound, Georgia. Webb dropped anchor at 8 p.m. and spent the remainder of the night coaling. The next evening, "about dark," the daring Confederate later reported, "I proceeded down the river to a point of land which would place me in 5 or 6 miles of the monitors, at the same time concealing the ship from their view, ready to move on them at early dawn the next morning."
CSS Tacony, Lieutenant Read, captured and burned brig Umpire with cargo of sugar and molasses off the Virginia coast. Read's exploits created much concern and a large force was sent to search for him. Secretary Welles noted in his diary: ''None of our vessels have succeeded in capturing the Rebel pirate Tacony which has committed great ravages along the coast.
USS Juliet, Acting Lieutenant Shaw, seized steamer Fred Nolte on the White River, Arkansas.
USS Lackawanna, Captain Marchand, captured steamer Planter with cargo of cotton in the Gulf of Mexico.
16 Acting Master John C. Bunner, USS New Era, obtained a report that Confederate troops "medi-tated an attack on either Columbus, Hickman, Island 10, or New Madrid. . . " Bunner at once proceeded above Island No. 10, found and destroyed nine boats and flats. He reported: "I do not think the enemy can procure transportation enough to attack the island with any hope of success, but am careful that none at all shall remain at his service in this vicinity.''
USS Circassian, Acting Lieutenant William B. Eaton, captured blockade running sloop John Wesley off St. Marks, Florida, bound for Havana with cargo of cotton.
CSS Florida, Commander Maffitt, captured ship B. F. Hoxie in West Indian waters. After removing silver bars valued at $105,000, Maffitt burned the prize.
17 CSS Atlanta, Commander Webb, with wooden steamers Isondiga and Resolute, engaged USS Weehawken, Captain J. Rodgers, and USS Nahant, Commander Downes, in Wassaw Sound. A percUSSion torpedo was fitted to the ram's bow, "which," Webb wrote, "I knew would do its work to my entire satisfaction, should I but be able to touch the Weehauken. . . Atlanta grounded coming into the channel, was gotten off, but repeatedly failed to obey her helm. Weehawken poured five shots from her heavy guns into the Confederate ram, and Nahant moved into attacking Position. With two of his gun crews out of action, with two of three Pilots severely injured, and with his ship helpless and hard aground, Webb was compelled to surrender. His two wooden escorts had returned upriver without engaging.
Captain Rodgers reported: "The Atlanta was found to have mounted two 6-inch and two 7-inch rifles, the 6-inch broadside, the 7-inch working on a Pivot either as broadside or bow and stern guns. There is a large supply of ammunition for these guns and other stores, said to be of great value by some of the officers of the vessel. There were on board at the time of capture, as per muster roll, 21 officers and 124 men, including 28 marines."
In a message of congratulations to Captain Rodgers, Secretary Welles wrote: ''Every contest in which the ironclads have been engaged against ironclads has been instructive, and affords food for reflection. The lessons to be drawn are momentous. . . . Your early connection with the Mississippi Flotilla and your participation in the projection and construction of the first ironclads on the Western waters, your heroic conduct in the attack on Drewry's Bluff, the high moral courage that led you to put to sea in the Weehawken upon the approach of a violent storm in order to test the seagoing qualities of these new craft at a time when a safe anchorage was close under your lee, the brave and daring manner in which you, with your associates, pressed the ironclads under the concentrated fire of the batteries in Charleston harbor and there tested and proved the endurance and resisting power of these vessels, and your crowning successful achievement in the capture of the Fingal, alias Atlanta, are all proofs of a skill and courage and devotion to the country and the cause of the Union, regardless of self, that can not he permitted to pass unrewarded. . . . For these heroic and serviceable acts I have presented your name to the President, requesting him to recommend that Congress give you a vote of thanks in order that you may he advanced to the grade of commodore in the American Navy."
Boat expedition under Acting Master Sylvanus Nickerson from USS Itasca captured blockade runner Miriam at Brazos Santiago, Texas, with cargo of cotton.
18 Rear Admiral Farragut in USS Monongahela steamed down river from Port Hudson to Plaque-mine, Louisiana, where a raid by a company of Confederate cavalry had burned two Army trans-ports. It was feared that the Confederate intent was to capture Donaldsonville, Louisiana, cutting off the flow of supplies between New Orleans and General Banks before Port Hudson. USS Winona, Lieutenant Commander Aaron 'V. Weaver, shelled the Confederate cavalrymen from the town. The Admiral reported: "The moral effect of our force gathering about them so quickly was very good both against the enemy and in favor of the soldiers and ourselves" Farragut concentrated three or four gunboats at Donaldsonville, and General Banks wrote several days later: 'The result at Donaldsonville was very gratifying, and I feel greatly indebted to the officers of the Navy for the assistance they gave, and the distinguished part they played in this most creditable affair."
U.S.S General Sterling Price, Commander Woodworth, and USS Mound City, Lieutenant Wilson, returned to their positions below Vicksburg after a 3-day reconnaisance down the Mississippi River as far as Cole's Creek. During the expedition, some 60 to 70 barges, skiffs, and boats were destroyed which could have been used to transport Confederate troops. Meanwhile, USS Benton, Lieutenant Commander Greer, supplied Major General Francis J. Herron with two 32-pounders, complete with ammunition and equipment and a crew to man them. Of this battery, General Herron later wrote: 'The battery, under the command of Acting Master j. Frank Reed, of the Benton, did excellent service, and I can not speak too highly of the bravery and energy of this young officer. Indeed, during the whole of my operations, I received valuable assistance and a hearty cooperation from the Navy."
USS Tahoma, Lieutenant Commander A. A. Semmes, captured British blockade runner Harriet near Anclote Keys, Florida; Tahoma chased British blockade runner Mary Jane ashore and destroyed her at Clearwater.
USS James S. Chambers, Acting Master L. Nickerson, captured schooner Rebekah off Tampa Bay.
19 Secretary Mallory wrote to Commander Bulloch in Liverpool: "I have heretofore requested you to purchase upon the best terms you can make a very fast steamer suitable for blockade running between Nassau, Bermuda, Charleston, and Wilmington. A capacity for stowing from 600 to 1,000 hales of cotton upon not over 10 feet draft would be desirable. With such a vessel I can place exchange for our use in England every month."
A naval battery mounted to fire across the river at Cerro Gordo, Tennessee, manned by crew from USS Robb, Acting Ensign Hanford, was hotly engaged by Confederate troops. Hanford reported: "They [the Confederates] charged four abreast (dismounted) and came to within 20 yards of the cannon's mouth, while canister was being fired into them like rain."
Mortar schooner USS Para, Acting Master Edward G. Furber, captured blockade running schooner Emma off Mosquito Inlet, Florida.
20 A heavy combined Army-Navy bombardment of Vicksburg, lasting 6 hours, hammered Con-federate positions. Supporting the Army, Porter pressed mortars, gunboats, and scows into action from 4 a.m. until 10. The naval force met with no opposition, and the Admiral noted: "The only demonstration made by the rebels from the water front was a brisk fire of heavy guns from the upper batteries on two 12-pounder rifled howitzers that were planted n the Louisiana side by General Ellet's Marine Brigade, which has [sic] much annoyed the enemy for two or three days, and prevented them from getting water." After this extensive bombardment, reports reached Porter that the Southerners were readying boats with which to make a riverborne evacua-tion of the city. Emphasizing the need for continued vigilance, the Admiral informed his gunboat commanders: "If the rebels start down in their skiffs, the current will drift them to about abreast of the houses where the mortars are laid up, and they will land there. In that case the vessels must push up amidst them, run over them, fire grape and canister and destroy all they can, looking out that they are not boarded."
CSS Alabama, Captain Semmes, captured bark Conrad from Buenos Aires for New York with cargo of wool. Semmes commissioned her as a cruiser under the name CSS Tuscaloosa and wrote: "Never perhaps was a ship of war fitted out so promptly before. The Conrad was a commissioned ship, with armament, crew, and provisions on board, flying her pennant, and with sailing orders signed, sealed, and delivered, before sunset on the day of her capture.''
CSS Tacony, Lieutenant Read, captured ship Isaac Webb, bound from Liverpool to New York. The prize had some 759 passengers on board and, being unable "to dispose of the passengers, I bonded her for $40,000." The same day, Tacony captured and burned fishing schooner Micawber at sea off the New England coast.
USS Primrose, Acting Master Street, captured sloop Richard Vaux off Blakistone Island, Potomac River.
21 CSS Tacony, Lieutenant Read, captured and burned ship Byzantium, with cargo of coal, and bark Goodspeed, in ballast, off the coast of New England.
USS Owasco, Lieutenant Commander Madigan, and USS Cayuga, Lieutenant Commander William H. Dana, took sloop Active attempting to run blockade out of Sabine Pass, Texas, with cargo of cotton.
USS Santiago de Cuba, Commander Robert H. Wyman, seized blockade running British steamer Victory off Palmetto Point, Eleuthera Island, after a long chase; Victory was from Wilmington and carried a cargo of cotton, tobacco, and turpentine.
USS Florida, Commander Bankhead, captured schooner Hattie off Frying Pan Shoals, North Carolina, with cargo of cotton and naval stores.
22 CSS Tacony, Lieutenant Read, captured fishing schooners Florence, Marengo, E. Ann, R. Choate, and Ripple off the New England coast. Read reported: "The Florence being an old vessel I bonded her and placed seventy-five prisoners on her. The other schooners were burned."
USS Shawsheen, Acting Master Henry A. Phelon, while on a reconnaissance in Bay River, North Carolina, captured schooner Henry Clay up Spring Creek. An armed boat went up Dimbargon Creek and captured a small schooner carrying turpentine before Shawsheen returned to New Bern.
USS Itasca, Lieutenant Commander Robert F. R. Lewis, seized British blockade runner Sea Drift near Matagorda Island, Texas, with cargo including gunpowder, lead, and drugs.
23 CSS Tacony, Lieutenant Read, captured and burned fishing schooners Ada and Wanderer off the New England coast.
U.S. S. Pursuit, Lieutenant William P. Randall, took sloop Kate in Indian River, Florida.
USS Flambeau, Lieutenant Commander John H. Upshur, seized British schooner Bettie Cratzer, off Murrell's Inlet, South Carolina, bound from New York to Havana and suspected of being a blockade runner.
23-30 Under Commander Pierce Crosby, gunboats Commodore Barney, Commodore Morris, Western World, and Morse, with Army gunboats Smith Briggs and Jesup, escorted and covered an Army landing at White House on the Pamunkey River, Virginia. Arriving on the 26th, Crosby reported that he ''found all quiet on the river,'' but stationed the gunboats at White House and Jesup at West Point, with instructions for two of his ships to ''run [daily] from White House to West Point to protect the army transports and examine the banks of the river to discover signs of the enemy should they be near A naval landing party at White House destroyed rails and a turn-table inside an earthwork on which the Confederates intended to place a railroad car mounting a heavy gun.
24 Rear Admiral Dahlgren was detached from duty at the Washington Navy Yard and as Chief of the Bureau of Ordnance and ordered to relieve Rear Admiral Du Pont at Port Royal in command of the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron. Originally, the Navy Department ordered Rear Admiral Foote to the Blockading Squadron, but the hero of the western waters suffered a relapse from his long illness occasioned by the wound sustained at Fort Donelson and was unable to accept the command.
Brigadier General A. W. Ellet, commanding the Marine Brigade, reported to Rear Admiral Porter on his observations of the continued naval bombardment of Vicksburg: "Your mortars are doing good work this morning. Every shell is thrown into the city, or bursts immediately over it."
CSS Tacony, Lieutenant Read, captured ship Shatemuc, from Liverpool to Boston with a large number of emigrants on board. Read bonded her for $150,000. Tacony later captured fishing schooner Archer. "As there were now a number of the enemy's gunboats in search of the Tacony," Read wrote, "and our howitzer ammunition being all expended, I concluded to destroy the Tacony, and with the schooner Archer to proceed along the coast with the view of burning the shipping in some exposed harbor, or of cutting out a steamer. Therefore, the next morning Read applied the torch to the Tacony and stood in for the New England coast with Archer.
USS Sumpter, Acting Lieutenant Peter Hays, collided with transport steamer General Meigs in heavy mist near Hampton Roads and sank.
25 Rear Admiral Du Pont, unaware that Dahlgren had been ordered to relieve him in command of the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron, wrote in these terms of Rear Admiral Foote: "I infer he is very ill, and could hardly be fit to come for some time to this situation even if he recovers. I trust God he will, for I think he can ill be spared. I always thought he represented the best traits of the New England character with its best shade of Puritanism a sort of Northern Stonewall Jackson, without quite his intellect and judgment, but equal pluck and devotion."
CSS Georgia, Lieutenant W. L. Maury, captured ship Constitution bound from Philadelphia to Shanghai with cargo of coal.
Boats from USS Crusader, Acting Master Roland F. Coffin, on a reconnaissance of Pepper Creek, near New Point Comfort, Virginia, to determine if an armed boat was being outfitted for " preying on the commerce of Chesapeake Bay'' was fired on by a Confederate party. In retaliation Master Coffin burned several houses in the area, one belonging to "a noted rebel and blockade runner named Kerwan."
Lieutenant Commander English, USS Sagamore. reported the capture of blockade running British schooner Frolic off Crystal River, Florida, with cargo of cotton and turpentine, bound for Havana.
USS Santiago de Cuba, Commander Wyman, took steamer Britannia off Palmetto Point, Eleuthera Island, with cargo of cotton.
26 Rear Admiral Andrew Hull Foote died in New York City of the wound received while brilliantly leading the naval forces on the Western rivers. The next day the Navy Department announced: 'A gallant and distinguished naval officer is lost to the country. The hero of Fort Henry and Fort Donelson, the daring and inimitable spirit that created and led to successive victories the Mississippi Flotilla, the heroic Christian sailor, who in the China Seas and on the coast of Africa, as well as the great interior rivers of our country, sustained with unfaltering fidelity and devotion the honor of our flag and the causes of the Union. Rear-Admiral Andrew Hull Foote is no more. . . . Appreciating his virtues and his services, a grateful country had rendered him while living its willing honors, and will mourn his death."
Ships, rifled cannon, mortar boats, and Army guns laid down a heavy bombardment barrage which was answered bravely by the Confederate gunners at Port Hudson. Captain Alden in USS Richmond reported to Rear Admiral Farragut: ''The Genesee's firing was as fine as usual. The Essex stood up manfully and did her work handsomely. She was the only vessel hit, and, strange to say, although the enemy's fire was for the most part of the engagement which lasted some four hours-concentrated upon her, was struck only three times, but one of those was near proving fatal to her. The shot passed through her starboard smokepipe, down through the deck, through the coal bunker, grazing the starboard boiler, down through the machinery and steam pipes, over the galley, and through the wheelhouse into the water. . . . They all seem to be very much pleased with the operation of the naval battery on shore. . . . It had done, as you know, splendid service under the command of our gallant executive officer, Lieutenant Commander [Edward] Terry, before you were called away, and is still, I am happy to say, earning new laurels."
Rear Admiral Porter wrote Secretary Welles of the operations at Vicksburg: ''I was in hopes ere this to have announced the fall of Vicksburg, but the rebels hold out persistently, and will no doubt do so while there is a thing left to eat. In the meantime, they are hoping for relief from General Johnston a vain hope, for even if he succeeded in getting the better of General Sherman . . . his forces would be so cut up that he could take no advantage of any victory that he might gain. General Sherman has only to fall back to our entrenchments at Vicksburg, and he could defy twice his own force. The rebels have been making every effort to bring relief to Vicksburg through Louisiana, but without avail. With the few men we have at Young's Point and the gunboats, we keep them in check. They have lined the river bank and are annoying the transports a little, but the gunboats are so vigilant and give them so little rest that they have done no damage worth mentioning. I have lined the river from Cairo to Vicksburg with a good force. . . . I am having the Cincinnati's guns removed, and Colonel Woods, of the army, is erecting a battery on shore with them. I have now ten heavy naval guns landed from the gunboats, in the rear of Vicksburg, some of them manned by sailors. They have kept up a heavy fire for some days, doing great execution.
26-27 CSS Archer, Lieutenant Read, made the Portland, Maine, light. Read picked up two fishermen, "who," he reported, "taking us for a pleasure party, willingly consented to pilot us into Portland." From the fishermen Read learned that revenue cutter Caleb Cushing and a passenger steamer, Chesapeake, a staunch, swift propeller,'' were at Portland and would remain there over night. Steamer Forest City was so in Portland and two gunboats were building there. At once Read made a daring plan: he would enter the harbor and at night quietly seize the cutter and steamer. At sunset he boldly sailed in, anchoring in full view of the shipping." Read discussed the plan with his crew and admitted there were difficulties in the scheme. Engineer Eugene H. Brown was doubtful that he could get the engines of the steamer started without the assistance of another engineer, and Read pointed Out that as the nights were very short it was evident that if we failed to get the steamer underway, after waiting to get up steam, we could not get clear of the forts before we were discovered." Read decided to concentrate on capturing the revenue cutter. At 1:30 in the morning, 27 June, Read's crew boarded and took Caleb Cushing, without noise or resistance.' Luck and time were running out on Read's courageous band, however, for, with a light breeze and the tide running in, the cutter was still under the fort's guns at daybreak. By midmorning, when Caleb Cushing was but 20 miles off the harbor, Read saw 'two large steamers and three tugs . . . coming out of Portland." He cleared for action and fired on the leading steamer, Forest City, as soon as she was in range. After firing five shells from the pivot gun, Read "was mortified to find that all the projectiles for that gun were expended." About to be caught in a crossfire from the steamers and in a defenseless position, Read ordered the cutter destroyed and the men into the lifeboats. ''At 11:30 I surrendered myself and crew to the steamer Forest City [First Lieutenant James H Merryman, USRS].'' Read had yet another moment of success at noon Caleb Cushing blew up. So ended an exploit of gallant dash and daring by Read and his small crew. From the date of their first capture to the destruction of the revenue cutter off Portland, the doughty Confederate seamen had taken 22 prizes.
27 CSS Florida, Lieutenant Maffitt, seized and bonded whaling schooner V. H. Hill en route to Bermuda.
Commander A. G. Clary, USS Tioga, reported the capture of blockade running British schooner Julia off the Bahamas with cargo of cotton.
28 Rear Admiral Dahlgren noted in his private journal: "The French Admiral called yesterday. He said he thought there were torpedoes near Sumter, and that fifteen monitors might take it if they fired faster. He said we fired once in eleven or twelve minutes for each turret."
CSS Georgia, Lieutenant W. L. Maury, captured ship City of Bath off Brazil.
Armed boats from USS Fort Henry, Lieutenant Commander McCauley, captured schooner Anna Maria in Steinhatchee River, Florida, with cargo of cotton.
28-30 As the advance of General Robert E. Lee's armies into Maryland (culminating in the Battle of Gettysburg) threatened Washington, Baltimore, and Annapolis, the U.S. Navy Department ordered Rear Admiral S.P. Lee to send ships immediately for the defense of the Capital and other cities. This was a move reminiscent of the opening days of the war when naval protection was vital to the holding of the area surrounding the seat of government.
29 Lieutenant Commander Shirk reported the interception of a letter from Confederate General Martin L. Smith at Vicksburg to his wife. "He says," Shirk wrote, "everything looks like taking a trip North. All seem to think that Saturday or Sunday will tell the fall of Vicksburg. The Confederates were being realistic rather than pessimistic, for, though they had long and bravely resisted against tremendous odds with supply lines severed, the fall of the fortress on the Mississippi was at hand.
30 Captain Semmes of CSS Alabama rote in his journal: "It is two years today since we ran the blockade of the Mississippi in the Sumter. . . . Two years of almost constant excitement and anxiety, the usual excitement of battling with the sea and the weather and avoiding dangerous shoals and coasts, added to the excitement of the chase, the capture, the escape from the enemy, and the battle. And then there has been the government of my officers and crew, not always a pleasant task, for I have had some senseless and unruly spirits to deal with; and last, though not least, the bother and vexation of being hurried out of port when I have gone into one by scrupulous and timid officials, to say nothing of offensive espionage. All these things have produced a constant tension of the nervous system, and the wear and tear of body in these two years would, no doubt, be quite obvious to my friends at home, could they see me on this 30th day of June, 1863."
Captain Josiah Tattnall wrote Commander William W. Hunter: 'The ironclad steamer Savannah being completed in all respects and ready for service with the exception of her officers in which she is deficient, I have the pleasure to transfer her to your command.''
USS Ossipee, Captain Gillis, captured schooner Helena off Mobile.
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