Sat Apr 23 1864|
SECNAV writes CAPT Jonathan A Winslow, USS Kearsarge "Your dispatch of the 7th instant, enclosing correspondence between yourself and Mr. Adams, has been received at this Department. I have also received from the Secretary of State copies of the correspondence transmitted to the Government by our minister at London, who also forwards a newspaper slip containing what purports to be a letter addressed by yourself to the Marquis of Cauricorde, under date of April 6. Mr. Adams feels that he is embarrassed in his official relations by the irregular communication referred to and by your course in overstaying the permitted time without leave properly obtained.
The papers have been submitted to the President, who, appreciating your zeal in the service, is nevertheless convinced that your proceedings tend to embarrass our minister in the conduct of his difficult and responsible position. I am therefore directed to communicate to you these views of the President, and to enjoin upon you to refrain from a renewal or recurrence of the proceedings.
The distinctions made by Mr. Adams in his correspondence with you are worthy of consideration, and it is always desirable that on foreign and difficult duty such as is intrusted to you, and when the relations of the Government are involved, you should in questions like those presented on the occasion of detaining the Kearsarge observe the usual courtesies, and make your application through the representative of the Government for such privileges as you may desire."
CDR George Henry Preble, USS St. Louis, writes SECNAV from Setabal, "I sail from here to-day, wind and weather permitting, for Cadiz, to clothe the marines and provision the ship preparatory to a cruise among the islands. Should the Department have any important communication to make me, I respectfully request it be sent to Cadiz instead of Lisbon, as Lisbon in the summer season is to windward of all our assigned cruising, Cadiz being also our port of supply, and having weekly mail communication with the Canary Islands. I have not been able to obtain a word of information with regard to the movements of the rebel cruisers since we left Teneriffe. A paragraph in an English paper reported a suspicious armed steamer, in and out of Agadeer, on the coast of Morocco, on the 2d and 3d of March, which was probably the Florida, and will account for her not appearing at Santa Cruz de Teneriffe until the 4th.
The St. Louis is the first American man-of-war that has ever visited this port, and has consequently excited a good deal of attention. The noble harbor and quiet waters of Setubal afford opportunities for boat exercise, target practice, and refitting that the strong current and crowded stream of the Tagus do not admit of. There is now railroad communication twice a day with Lisbon, and there is depth of water enough on the bar to render it accessible at all times of tide to steamers not drawing over 18 feet. Formerly Setubal (St. Ubes) enjoyed a large American trade, but since 1800 our flag has not been seen in its waters."
CAPT Jonathan A Winslow, USS Kearsarge writes William L Dayton, U S Minister to France, from off Calais, France "Your telegram was duly received at Ostende. I had been assured by detectives that the Rappahannock could not get away before Saturday (to-day), and I had taken advantage of the only short delay I could count upon to paint ship and overhaul. In the midst of it no less than five telegrams from different sources came that the Rappahannock had steam up, was released, all ready, and would sail at night. So amid this bustle I had to leave, arriving off this place to find reports all wrong. People seem to think there is no wear to this ship and she is ubiquitous.
I will be obliged to you to inform me of the true state of the circumstances in which the Rappahannock is placed, such as will enable me to govern my movements for future development.
Your telegram mentioned see letter, but I was obliged to leave before receipt, fearing that she would slip out by treachery.
My address is Dover for letters."
CAPT Winslow writes A H Morse, US Consul London, "The effect of the various reports of Wheeler and others is not without its consequence, which is to put me in a position to consume coal when I shall want all at a time when most important, and secondly, to allow me no place that I can be in communication where I can receive sure information.
I see plainly practiced now what I prophesied at first - that the agents, from apprehension [that] they might not be considered zealous, daily manufacture news of their own.
There is not the least truth in any of the reports sent to me. Vendroux was here to-day and informed me that the Rappahannock has had no steam on and not changed her position, etc. Moreover, he states that the French Government has published in official papers rules for the government of prefects of the departments for belligerents, Americans, Danes, and Germans, from which there will be no departure.
It is stated, however, that the Rappahannock, having been received as a merchant vessel and completely fitted, can not be permitted to leave Calais as a man-of-war against a nation in amity with France. It is conclusive she can only leave as a merchantman, and to cover things an extensive sale will no doubt be made. But the sale has not yet been effected.
I have felt a great anxiety about this vessel, and in order to get everything to work advantageously, adopted the best measures which, in my judgment, would lead to her capture. But agents won't allow it, for to disbelieve their reports if they prove true would be to take the responsibility. But to find they are untrue is a matter to them of praise, inasmuch as it is evidence of their vigilance.
I am now without Mr. Dayton's letter, which will give ample information, and owing to changes of position I don't know when I can get it. If I order it one place, I may have to issue, from circumstances, counter orders to some other, and thereby it must take the rounds.
In regard to the Annette, I informed you when in London that the information which I received from Mr. Dayton was that the Rappahannock was seized, and Mr. Dayton would inform me of her release; and he was so sure of its duration that he asked me whether, under the circumstances,it was not better to go after the Georgia. It was so conclusive that I believed I was not warranted in keeping the Annette, and hence I informed you I should give her up; and further, if circumstances arose which I thought would render her assistance valuable, I would again charter her or some other steamer.
Those circumstances were her release, etc.
I wrote officially to the Secretary of the Navy, giving him advice of these facts. It is therefore impossible for me to assume the charter power. I, however, told Wheeler that if you thought from the information received from your agents that she was so valuable you had better keep her, and in event of information being true and the Rappahannock sailing, I would then assume the charter. But my opinion of the agents has never been such as to give all credit to what was stated, and the difficulty was in the weeding.
As for the Annette, she has been of service in bringing letters, but for the Government interest I must say she has been of no use. It is true she might have been, but as it is, and until I am informed by Mr. Dayton of the release of the Rappahannock, I can not accept her for the Navy Department." In post script he adds "If you have eight or nine men, and you are sure no trouble will arise in getting them to this ship, I shall be glad to have them."
CDR John Guest, USS Galatea, writes RADM J L Lardner, West India Squadron "On my last convoy I found this vessel leaking considerably (from 12 to 18 inches per hour) and the leak constantly increasing.
On my return to this port an examination of the seams above the copper has proved them all open. I have had a sheet of copper removed and find the seams worse under the copper than above it. I therefore do not feel justified in taking this ship to sea without applying for a survey, as in case of heavy weather I fear by the working of the ship I shall take in too much water."
CDR Foxhall A Parker, Potomac Flotilla, writes LT Edward Hooker, 1st Division, Potomac Flotilla,"Enclosed I send you copy of a letter from Major-General Butler in relation to a proposed raid by guerrillas, between the Piankatank and Saluda, Middlesex County. I desire you to keep a sharp lookout and be very careful to guard against surprise.
I have ordered the Anacostia to cruise between Smith's Point and Point Lookout and the Jacob Bell off the Piankatank with the Freeborn."
RADM Samuel P Lee, North Atlantic Blockading Squadron writes SECNAV "I herewith communicate to the Department Lieutenant-Commander Flusser's dispatch of the 18th instant, received this evening.
It is probably the last dispatch penned by him, as it was written at half past 9 o'clock on the evening of the 18th, and at half past 3 o'clock the next morning he was killed on the deck of the Miami before Ply- mouth in a night action with a ram.
This brave officer was a native of Maryland and a citizen of Kentucky. His patriotic and distinguished services had won for him the respect and esteem of the Navy and the country. He was generous, good, and gallant, and his untimely death is a real and great loss to the public service."
Master I A Pennel, USS Ethan Allen writes CMDR S C Rowan, South Atlantic Blockading Squadron "I have the honor to submit the following report:
On learning from contrabands I have on board of an extensive salt works at a place called Cane Patch, 12 miles N. E. of this inlet, I got underway on the morning of the 21st instant, with a light breeze, and stood along the coast. When 8 miles from this inlet we discovered one man and two women by an old house on the beach, waving a white flag. I hove the ship to and sent in an armed boat in charge of Acting Ensign William Mero. He landed under the cover of our guns; the three came down to the boat, one of the women handing Mr. Mero a note, telling him that some of their party would like to come off that night. The man being a mulatto, contraband, improved the opportunity of making his escape and came off in the boat. After reading the note, which you will find enclosed, I filled away and stood along the coast. When about 2 miles farther on, I discovered two more negroes on the beach with a white flag; sent a boat and took them on board. I then proceeded on, arriving off the salt works about 2 p. m. I hove the ship to opposite the works and within easy range. My executive officer being unwell, I left him in charge of the ship. Taking Acting Ensign William Mero and 12 men with me, landed safely near the works. I deployed part of the men as pickets to prevent a surprise, Mr. Mero taking the remainder as a working party to destroy the works. On examination we found the works much more extensive than I expected, they being partly concealed from the ship by a high sand ridge. There were four separate works, each containing twelve large pans, the water being raised from the beach by horse power, leading into a cistern large enough to contain 100,000 gallons, built of timber planked and calked on the inside. There were twelves pans ready for setting, also timber and materials for extending the works to double its size. There were about thirty buildings, three of them large warehouses built of heavy logs, containing about 2,000 bushels of salt, a large quantity of rice, corn, and bacon. One of the warehouses was constructed as a blockhouse, with loopholes on all sides. The salt pans were 6 feet by 4, and from 6 to 18 inches deep, and of cast iron, which were easily broken. After breaking all the pans, making it impossible to repair them, and having no other way of destroying the salt, I had it mixed with sand as far as time would allow, then set fire to all the buildings, also to about 50 cords of pine wood. The buildings, being built of pine logs, were soon enveloped in flames. On landing we discovered two white men and one old negro behind a fence, who immediately gave themselves up. The rest, about 30 in number, took to the woods on our approaching the shore. While we were destroying the works four negroes came out of the woods and assisted us in the work of destruction. Two of them wishing to get their families before leaving, I allowed them to remain; also the old negro who had his cabin near by; his wife being a free woman, he did not wish to leave. Taking the two white men and the other two contrabands, we returned to the ship, arriving on board at 5 p. m., filled away and stood back for the inlet. The wind being light, we made but little headway during the night. At 9 o'clock the next morning we were off Withers Swash, and saw a man behind the house before alluded to, waving a white handkerchief. I sent the second cutter, in charge of Mr. Mero, and took him on board. His name is Allen Jones, of North Carolina. He reports himself to be a commissary sergeant of the rebel Army. He informed me that the house on the beach had a furnace in it, with boilers for making salt, and that a Mr. Chilson, the owner of the works, was in the edge of the woods and wished to communicate with me. I armed and manned two boats, putting them in charge of Acting Master W. H. Winslow, executive officer, and Acting Ensign James H. Bunting, with orders to destroy all the pans. They landed safely, destroyed the works, and returned to the ship at 11 a. m. We then filled away and arrived off the inlet at 4 p. m. Enclosed you will please find Mr. Winslow's report."
Master Charles T Chase, USS Fox writes SECNAV "I have the honor to report that on the 18th instant, at 12 in., latitude 28° 34' N., longitude 83° 10' W., saw a topsail schooner standing to the eastward. Made sail in chase, and when within about 2½ miles set our ensign and fired a gun. She set the English ensign, but did not come to.
I afterwards fired eight shot at her, but without effect. She crossed St. Martin's Reef and stood to the northward. Having run into as shoal water as I could, I sent the boat armed, Acting Ensign Jackson in charge, on the inside the reef while I went up outside.
At 5 p. m., finding she could not escape, the schooner was run ashore and abandoned near the mouth of the Homosassa River. Ensign Jackson boarded her, but as there were two armed rebel boats coming out
of the river and it was near night, did not think it prudent to try to save her, but set fire to her, fore and aft, and returned to this vessel.
The schooner was the Good Hope of about 150 tons burden and laden with salt and a few dry goods.
I laid by until she was entirely consumed."
RADM David D Porter, Mississippi Squadron,writes SECNAV "In my last communication I informed you of the sinking of the Eastport, [April 15], by a torpedo about 8 miles below Grand Ecore. The moment I heard of it I went down to Alexandria and sent a dispatch vessel for our two steam pump boats. One was coming over the falls as I passed down, and the other fortunately came in sight an hour afterwards. They were both sent up and set to work to raise the sunken vessel. She was so much shattered in the bottom that I almost despaired of effecting anything.
The same day that the boats arrived up, General Banks gave orders for the army to prepare to move on to Alexandria, and as Grand Ecore was only 4 miles from us by land, the chances were that the rebels would mount numerous artillery on the bluffs close at hand and prevent our working; nevertheless, we went to work and proceeded until the vessel was raised, the pumps working all the time, and we unable to get at the leak. Lieutenant-Commander Phelps worked with great perseverance, coolness, and patience under these unpleasant circumstances. The same day the army moved, we moved down with the Eastport with her own steam, and one steam pump alongside of her, barely keeping her free and the leak not discovered.
We started very fair and made in a few hours 20 miles down river, having sent convoy to bring down the transports, which were taken safely to Alexandria, but the Eastport got out of the channel, and it seems impossible to move her ahead. Everything that man can do has been done, and I shall persevere until attacked here, or until falling water endangers other vessels. There will be but one course for me to pursue, that is to perform the painful duty of destroying the Eastport to prevent her falling into the enemy's hands. I have no certainty of getting her down as far as Alexandria; the water has fallen too much to leave her here, with our army retreating to Alexandria, and with 25,000 rebels (if victorious) assailing us at every point. We can fight them to the last. At this time the rebels are following our army, and the artillery and musketry can be heard quite distinctly. We do not know the result. Had the army held Grand Ecore a fortnight, we would with certainty have saved the vessel, and will do so now if we can find water to get her down.
She has a great deal of water in her, which increases her draft and makes her very heavy. The pumps can not get it all out, nor can we find the place where she is injured.
The unfortunate issue of this expedition has thrown the gunboats into a bad predicament. When I came up here the water was rising, and all our vessels navigated the river to Grand Ecore with ease, and with some of them I reached Springfield Landing, the place designated by General Banks for the gunboats to meet the army. My part was successfully accomplished. The failure of the army to proceed, and the retreat back to Grand Ecore, left me almost at the mercy of the enemy. Fortunately we got through without any accident or serious disaster from the enemy's fire. I soon saw that the army would go to Alexandria again and we would be left above the bars in a helpless condition. I went to work immediately, to get the heavy boats below, which I succeeded in doing by great exertions on the part of the commanders. I kept the lighter draft vessels to cover the army, if they should need it, and to take the transports down safely, all of which was done. The vessels are mostly at Alexandria, above the falls, excepting this one, and two others I keep to protect the Eastport.
When the rebels heard we had arrived at Grand Ecore, they commenced turning the source of water supply off into the lakes, which would have been remedied had the army succeeded in getting to Shreveport. I can not blame myself for coming up at the only season when the water rises. All the rivers are full and rising, but the Red River is falling at the rate of 2 inches a day, a most unusual occurrence, this river always being full until the middle of June. Whether we will yet have a rise it would be impossible for any one to foresee. It seems like an impossibility that we could be caught in such a predicament in the time of rising water, but such may be the case.
If General Banks should determine to evacuate this country the gunboats will be cut off from all communication with the Mississippi. It can not be possible that the country would be willing to have eight ironclads, three or four other gunboats, and many transports sacrificed without an effort to save them. It would be the worst thing that has happened this war.
I beg leave most respectfully to call your earnest attention to this matter. I shall remonstrate with all the energy I am capable of against being left here and have to destroy my vessels, and I hope, sir, that you will see in the position wherein I am placed strong reason for holding this country and reinforcing the army with troops to do it with a certainty.
Two months are left yet in which to expect a rise, but many say that it will not come, the wish, perhaps, being father to the thought.
It would be hard, indeed, after cooperating with the army, and the navy performing successfully all that was required of it, to be left in a position where we would have to surrender or blow up. I will promise you the latter.
I have no hope of getting the Eastport down, though the commander is still very sanguine. If we could get her within 40 miles of Alexandria, we could save her, or if it rains there will be no trouble at all. If the enemy bring on their heavy artillery, the people on the steam pumps will not be able to work at all. With the gunboats alone and untrammeled I should not be afraid of any force the rebels could bring to bear upon us, being confident that we could beat them off if they came in strong force.
Whatever may happen I shall hope for the best, but consider it my duty to anticipate events and run no risks of losing this squadron."