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McLean Research Associates is dedicated to presenting little known facts about the US Navy in the Civil War, presentations on a myriad of astronomical topics,STEM workshops, and letterboxing.

In commemoration of the 155 years since the Civil War - or more appropriately in the vernacular of the day - The War of the Slaveholders' Rebellion - we are featuring a quote and picture of the day from the Naval Records

Period Picture
5th LT John Lowe, CSN
Fri May 22 1863

CDR Collins, USS Octorara writes SECNAV from Key West "I have the honor to report that on the 18th instant, at 9 p. m., in latitude about 25° 19' N., longitude about 77° 20'W., we seized the English steamer Eagle, Peter Capper, master, from Nassau, New Providence, ostensibly bound to St. John, New Brunswick, with a cargo of assorted merchandise.
    She is an iron paddle-wheel, schooner-rigged steamer, 169 feet long, 16 feet wide, with a draft of 6 feet, and 147 17/100 tons burden. I brought her to this place for adjudication, on the grounds of her having no papers but a bill of health and register, of her declining to heave to till we had disabled her machinery, after repeated firing, by a shot from one of the guns of this vessel, and in consequence of her damaged condition. At the time of her capture there were no other vessels in sight, and the nearest land was about 12 miles distant.
    John Grossenbacher, engineer, of Liverpool; W. B. Berwick, mate, of Scotland; Alexander Pinkerton, engineer, of Scotland; George White, engineer, of Liverpool, are her officers and John Watson, of Abaco, is her Bahama pilot, and Edward Clifton of Wilmington, N. C her Charleston pilot."

CDR Stephen D Trenchard, USS Rhode Island, writes SECNAV from Cape Haitien, "Being the senior officer at this place, it becomes my duty to report the fact of the U. S. ship Shepherd Knapp's getting on shore on the reef at the entrance of this port early in the evening of the 18th instant.
    Upon learning the fact from her commander, the U. S. gunboat Chippewa was at once dispatched to her relief; and the Santiago de Cuba the following morning, the engine of this vessel at the time not being in working order. Every effort was made by these two vessels to haul the Shepherd Knapp off. Finding they were unable to start her, arrangements were made with the U. S. consul to procure lighters, which were promptly dispatched for the purpose of lightening her, as that seemed to be the only course to pursue.
    The Rhode Island, now being ready, was brought into service and as soon as the Shepherd Knapp had been lightened some 14 or 16 inches the steamers were all ready with their steam power to aid in getting her off, but, I regret to add, without success, notwithstanding the most strenuous efforts made by them during three days in lightening the vessel and getting out anchors to haul her off by. The vessels battery, ammunition, ordnance, and other stores, provisions, etc., have all been removed and placed on board the U.S. ship National Guard, and the officers and crew have beei transferred to the same vessel to await the orders of the admiral commanding the West India Squadron, with whom the Santiago de Cuba will probably communicate in a few days.
    The Shepherd Knapp's crew are now engaged in stripping the ship, and if the weather continues favorable for a day or two everything will be removed to her lower masts. The vessel appears to have embedded itself deeply in the coral reef her light draft being 18 feet and there being 11 feet of water around her at high tide.
    Especial credit is due our consul at this place, Mr. Folsom, for his promptness in dispatching the lighters, by means of which we were enabled to remove the vessels battery and stores with so little difficulty."

CDR Trenchard writes In a second letter he writes RADM Charles Wilkes, West India Squadron "In consequence of the U. S. ship Shepherd Knapp having got on shore, I have directed the U. S. S. Santiago de Cuba to receive on board and convey to you at St. Thomas the provisions directed by you to be conveyed by the Shepherd Knapp to that place. This matter has also detained this vessel here some days beyond the one fixed upon for sailing.
    I deem it best, in conformity with your orders of the 13th instant, to proceed with all dispatch to the neighborhood of Abaco to be on the lookout for the Oreto, as, from information derived from the U. S. consul at Nassau, she will revisit that place very shortly, and also intercept the blockade runners."

CDR George M Ransom, USS Mercedita, writes RADM Wilkes, from Cape Haitien "I have the honor to report the arrival of this vessel, under my command, at.this place, pursuant to instructions from the Department, of which copies are herewith enclosed."

Master Jonathan F D Robinson, USS Satellite, writes LCDR E P McCrea, 2nd Division Potomac Flotilla, "I have the honor to report the capture of the schooner Emily, of New York, heavily loaded, on the morning of the 21st at 7:30 a. m. At 4 a. m. Currituck, Anacostia, and Satellite got underway and proceeded up the river. I signalized to the senior officer to let me go ahead, and was ordered to do so. When I arrived abreast of Urbana I discovered a vessel ahead, distant 8 miles. I then signalized to the senior officer that I saw a vessel ahead. I ordered all steam on, and gave chase. Coming within 4 miles of the above-named schooner, I discovered that they had set her on fire and the crew were leaving for shore. I fired a solid shot at them, but [it] fell short, steamed up and was soon alongside of the burning vessel, and with buckets and force pump soon put out the fire. No papers found on board, save two charts bearing the name Captain John Sanford; also a memorandum book, containing a list of goods on board. I here name the vessels claiming a share of the prize - U. S. steamers Currituck, Anacostia, and Satellite."

Master W K Cressy, USS Courier, writes SECNAV from New York Navy Yard " I have the honor to report the arrival of the U. S. ship Courier at this station from Port Royal.
    Also that I left Port Royal on Friday, the 15th of May, at 7 a. m. On Saturday, 16th, at 5 a. m., fell in with and captured the sloop Angelina, of and from Charleston, S. C., bound to Nassau, New Providence, with a cargo consisting of 23 bales of cotton.
    Same day, at 7 p. m., captured the sloop Emeline, of and from Charleston, S. C., bound to Nassau, New Providence, with a cargo consisting of 43 bales of cotton.
    Next day, May 17, at 9 a. m., captured the schooner Maria Bishop, of and from Charleston, S. C., bound to Nassau, New Providence, with a cargo consisting of 17 bales of cotton.
    I removed all the prisoners to the Courier and sent the prizes to New York.
    All the above-named vessels ran the blockade at Charleston, S. C., on the night of Friday, May 15, 1863."

Master E Van Slyck, USS Port Royal, writes LCDR George Morris, USS Port Royal, "In obedience to your orders I left this vessel in the launch, accompanied by William A. Prescott, acting master's mate, and proceeded 6 miles up the Chattahoochee River, where I secreted myself in a small creek to watch transient boats.
    At 2 a. m. on the 19th I anchored. At 11 a. m. captured a small sloop containing Andrew Wing, whom I had been informed had been engaged in obstructing the river and erecting batteries thereon. At S p. m. captured a boat, 1 man, 5 stand of arms, 20 rounds of ammunition, and some papers and letters belonging to a Confederate cavalry company.
    At 9 p. m. captured a boat with A. W. Babcock and the Confederate mails. From another prisoner I learned A. W. Babcock was seen by him assisting a barge loaded with 50 bales of sea-island cotton through Gum Swamp, 48 miles up the river, with the intention of bringing her down to Devils Elbow, 38 miles up, in order to be transferred to a sloop lying there to run the blockade. At 8 a. m., on the 21st, sent prisoners in charge of Acting Masters Mate William A. Prescott to the ship. At 12 m. the gig, with Lieutenant Commanding George U. Morris, accompanied with the first cutter, Assistant Paymaster George A. Sawyer, who volunteered, came up the river. At 2 p. m. the captain returned to the vessel. The first cutter joining me by your orders, we proceeded up the river in quest of the cotton and sloop, but were unsuccessful, and returned to the ship on the evening of 22d."

LT William C Rogers, USS Huntsville, writes RADM Theodorus Bailey East Gulf Blockading Squadron "I have the honor to submit the following report of my cruise:
    Leaving Key West, I touched at Havana and there learned that one or two steamers were ready for sea with contraband cargoes, one of which was the Cuba.
    I therefore proceeded to my station with all dispatch, after obeying your orders as to running down the coast of Cuba.
    On the second day discovered a suspicious steamer standing northerly, to which we gave chase, but after following her 140 miles she escaped by superior speed.
    I have since learned she was the General Buckner, from Havana for Mobile.
    Off Lake Ocala found the Hendrick Hudson, with whom I communicated. This place can hardly be one of much use as a port of entry, being a mere inlet on the beach much exposed to the sea, with the surf con- stantly breaking, and apparently no depth of water.
    Leaving here, I steered to southeastward of Mobile and there cruised until want of coal obliged me to leave.
    On May 13, about 100 miles to southeast of Mobile, fell in with the Confederate schooner A. J. Hodge, of Mobile, from Nassau, for the former port with an assorted cargo. Made prize of him and sent him to Key West for adjudication in charge of a prize officer and crew.
    On May 16 again made a suspicious steamer and gave chase, overhauling her rapidly, when she threw overboard cargo, and night coming on she escaped after a chase of 90 miles. But I had driven her into the track of the De Soto, with whom I had communicated the early part of the day, and the following morning she fell in with and overhauled her so fast that they took to their boats, having previously set fire to the steamer, which burned to the waters edge. She was the notorious Cuba.
    At the request of Captain Walker, I have brought 16 of her crew to Key West, now subject to your orders.
    On my way here, in latitude 27° 46', longitude 85° 09', On the 19th instant, at 11 a. m., again made a suspicious steamer, to which gave chase, overhauled her rapidly, and at 2 p. m. boarded her.
    She proved to be the Spanish steamer Union,two days from Havana, with an assorted cargo for Matamoras, but as she was 250 miles to northward of her course and steering northerly, with irregular papers and packages marked Mobile, I deemed it my duty to make her a prize.
    Her machinery being disabled, I took her in tow.
    I have on board 32 prisoners, subject to your orders.
    We have boarded and spoken 13 vessels during the cruise."

LT Ed. Y McCauley, USS Fort Henry, writes SECNAV " On the morning of the 14th instant the boats of the Fort Henry captured a flat in Waccasassa Bay loaded with corn. The flat not being seaworthy has been sent ashore.
    This morning our boats captured the sloop Isabella in Waccasassa Bay, from Tampa, bound to No. 4 Key. No cargo. The crews of the flat and sloop escaped to the shore, with the exception of one old man belonging to the sloop, whose infirmity prevented his running.
    I forwarded to Key West in the sloop 2,900 pounds of corn, part of the cargo of the flat; also 25 pounds cotton."

SECNAV writes SECSTATE "I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your note of the 19th instant enclosing a copy of a dispatch from Mr. Adams of the 1st instant.
    There is no doubt that an organized plan has been formed in Great Britain to furnish the rebels with supplies by vessels cleared nominally for Matamoras, but with contingent destination for Brownsville, as indicated in the circular of Bennett and Wake, agents for the Matamoras line of steamers. Admiral Bailey, in one of his late dispatches, says there were over 200 vessels off the Rio Grande when in ordinary times there are but 6 or 8. Of course the traffic in which they are engaged is principally for the rebels through Texas.
    Whether anything can be done to defeat these machinations, and prevent this illicit trade, except as indicated in the closing paragraph of Mr. Adams's letter, the possession of the eastern bank of the river, is doubtful. An effective naval blockade of the Rio Grande, which is a neutral highway for Mexico and ourselves, is impracticable. It appears to me desirable on many accounts that there should be a military force in western Texas, and that we should have possession of Brownsville at as early a day as possible. The possession of the Mississippi River will be some check on smuggling operations, but until the blockade runners are stopped entirely on the Rio Grande, we shall experience difficulty in Texas and Arkansas."

LCDR James W Shirk, USS Tuscumbia, writes RADM David D Porter, Mississippi Squadron, "During two days action with the enemy's batteries at Vicksburg this ship was struck three times, once upon the hull, doing no damage, once through the woodwork, injuring the upper deck slightly, and once upon the iron plating of the fighting pilot house. This shot was broken into small fragments, but the effect upon the pilot house was to start every bolt, throw out of place every iron plate, and start every timber in the forward part of the pilot house.
    I again most respectfully call your attention to the outrageous manner in which this ship has been put together. The bolts that held the iron on the front of the pilot house were not more than five inches long; they could be drawn out after the house was struck by ones fingers.
    I enclose two drawings, one a fore-and-aft midship section of the turret and fighting pilot house.
    By this you will see that from x to y there is no protection to the wheel from a shot or shell entering the forward midship port, and also that z, the hatch way of the magazine passage, is very much exposed. During the engagement at Grand Gulf, sparks of fire did enter it.
    U-V is the iron armor intended to protect the upper part of the pilot house, laid on as in the drawing.
    0 is the lookout hole; there are two of these on the forward part of the house; the shot above mentioned struck the port one.
    The second drawing represents the present appearance of the upper part of the pilot house."

ENS O Donaldson, XO USS Carondelet, writes LCDR John McCleod Murphy, USS Carondelet, "In obedience to your order, I respectfully report the condition of this vessel after the engagement of to-day. She received in close quarters one shot on her starboard side, on the iron plating near the davit, doing but little damage. She also received a shot on her port bow, between the knuckle and water line, cutting out about 10 feet of plank within 1½ inches of the water line; this I have battened with a pine board to keep the vessel afloat.
    This damage, with the severe jams in the knuckle she received in the Deer Creek expedition, and the parting of a beam in the engine room, which causes the vessel to spread in the deck room, have placed the boat in such a leaky condition as to require the constant working of the pump. I respectfully recommend that these damages be repaired before receiving coal or ammunition on board. I do not think she could otherwise make a long run with safety.
    I also recommend that a couple of steam or syphon pumps be procured. I believe they can be had at the blacksmiths shop in the Yazoo River. The forecastle pump can not be worked when the vessel is in action."

Teachers and Educators - we have several Civil War presentations covering the US Navy throughout the Civil War which include our portable museum, Submarines, and key naval and land battles. Check out our Civil War section for more details. We also have several presentations on astronomy for all age groups

Join Rangers Kim and Geoff for some interesting presenations and outings for The Last Green Valley.

16 JUN 2018 Camp Laurel
Lebanon. CT
30 JUL 2018 Ayer's Farm

Mars Party
6 OCT 2018 Sprague Land Trust
Bolton Rd.
Deep Sky Observing
13 OCT 2018 Sprague Land Trust
Bolton Rd.
Deep Sky Observing
15 OCT 2018 Brown Park
Maritime History of Norwich
27 OCT 2018 Brown Park
Maritime History of Norwich

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