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In commemoration of the 150 years since the Civil War - or more appropriately in the vernacular of the day - War of the Rebellion (Northern) - or War of Yankee Aggression (Southern) we are featuring a quote and picture of the day from the Naval Records


Period Picture
CAPT Henry Walke
Sat Oct 22 1864

CAPT Charles Steedman, USS Ticonderoga, writes SECNAV from Philadelphia Navy Yard "I have the honor to submit the following report of the late cruise of this ship:
    After leaving St. Thomas (from which place I wrote the Department) I proceeded south and touched at Martinique, where I communicated by boat with our consul. As he could give me no information of the movements of the Florida, I proceeded to Barbados, where I had been informed by our consul at St. Thomas that we had a depot of coal. Arriving there on August 8, and finding no coal, I had to purchase some 55 tons to fill up with. I remained at that place only long enough to take in the coal, and on the morning of August 10 I again proceeded on my way.
    On August 15, latitude 6° 44' N., longitude 46° 16' W., finding that the supply of coal was reduced one-half; and judging by the average daily consumption of fuel that it would be impossible for me to reach the point mentioned in my instructions, I considered it advisable to put into Maranham, Brazil, in order to obtain a supply, as by so doing it would only take me some 200 miles out of my way.
    I immediately stood for that port, and on the morning of August 19 made the land to the southward of the bar and ran down the coast until I was to the northward of Grand Crown [Coroa] Bank. The ship was then headed for the bar, and - as I had nothing but a general coast chart to guide me - the weather being quite hazy and the land barely discernible, I was so unfortunate as to ground on a small knoll outside and to the northward of the Grand Crown [Coroa] Bank. Fortunately the vessel was going slowly at the time, and the tide was rapidly rising. After striking with some force a half dozen times, I succeeded with all sail and steam in getting her off, and in one hour from the time of getting aground the vessel was again afloat and at anchor. I am happy to say that she has not received any injury so far as I have been able to find out, and the only loss sustained was that of the starboard bower anchor; this was caused by the breaking of the cable near the anchor, when heaving up for the purpose of changing my position.
    Soon after getting aground Ensign George W. Coffin was dispatched in one of the cutters to the town to obtain a pilot and the assistance of a steamer. On his arrival, late at night, in company with our consul he called upon the governor, who immediately upon learning the critical situation of the ship at once ordered a steamer to be got ready and the best pilots to be sent at early daylight. In the meantime one of the cutters, which had been sent in charge of Ensign A. S. Crowninshield to sound, was swept by the current some distance from the ship, and finding it impossible to return, had to make for the harbor, which, after much exposure and fatigue, he succeeded in reaching in time to communicate that the ship had been got off and only required the assistance of a pilot.
    On the afternoon of August 20 a pilot was obtained from shore, and on the evening of the same day the ship was anchored off the town of Maranham, having at the time but 100 tons of coal on board and only ten furnaces in use, the others having been rendered useless by the bursting of tubes, etc.
    I remained at Maranham just one week, the whole time being employed in repairing the engines and boilers and taking on board some 180 tons of coal, which was all that could be purchased at that place. The promptness with which my request for assistance was met by the governor and the evident disposition he exhibited to be of service to me I beg leave to bring to the particular notice of the Department. On leaving I deemed it proper to address him a letter, thanking him for his kindness.
    I sailed from Maranham on August 27, and from that time until [As] Rocas was sighted (September 5) I had to contend with a strong head wind, heavy head seas, and a westerly current of from 2½ to 3 knots per hour. Owing, also, to the bad working of the engines, caused by the indifferent quality of coal obtained at St. Thomas and Maranham and the bursting of tubes in the boilers, it took nine days to make a run of 600 miles, and required an expenditure of 235 tons of coal, which, under ordinary circumstances, could have been done in less than five days, and with an expenditure of 125 tons.
    At 1 o'clock p. m. on September 5 [As] Rocas was sighted, and I ran near enough to have a full view of the island, but saw nothing whatever of the Florida.
    At this time there were but 25 tons of coal on board, and three furnaces rendered useless by the bursting of tubes in the boilers. The fires were therefore put out and all sail made by the wind on the port tack. I was in hopes of being able to weather Cape San Roque and make Pernambuco, in tending to obtain coal and then return to cruise in the neighborhood of [As] Rocas for two or three weeks but it soon became evident that the ship would do nothing by the wind. She drifted dead to leeward, and for want of headsails carried her helm nearly hard up. I therefore bore up for the nearest port to leeward (out of the track of the prevailing hurricanes at this season of the year), and after a pleasant passage of seventeen days arrived at the island of Grenada.
    After anchoring in the harbor an officer was sent to call upon the lieutenant-governor with the usual compliments, and to request that I might be permitted to purchase a sufficient quantity of coal to take me to Curacao. He sent me word that he could not accede to my request, and a few hours later I received a communication from the colonial secretary refusing me permission to coal and requesting my departure from the port within twenty-four hours. A copy of this communication is enclosed.
    The next morning I waited upon the governor and stated my reasons for touching at Grenada, at the same time handing him a communication in reply to his of the previous day (copy enclosed).
    The interview was a very pleasant one, and I left him fully under the impression that I should be permitted to purchase some 20 tons of coal, which I had learned was all that could be obtained at that place.
    Soon after my return I was surprised to receive a communication (copy enclosed) acknowledging the receipt of my letter, and regretting that he was unable to comply with my wishes.
    I promptly obeyed the governors order for my departure within twenty-four hours, and sailed from Grenada on September 23, arriving at Curacao on the morning of September 27, with only 3 tons of coal in the bunkers.
    At Curacao I remained long enough to fill up with coal, paint ship outside, and make a few necessary repairs, on the completion of which I sailed for St. Thomas on the afternoon of the 7th instant.
    It will no doubt be gratifying to the Department to learn that my stay at Curacao was marked by the most friendly feeling on the part of the authorities and inhabitants.
    On the 13th instant, after a pleasant run of two and a half days, I reached the port of St. Thomas, and on the following day was joined by the sloop of war St. Louis, from Porto Grande.
    I awaited the arrival of the Havana steamer, but finding no orders or instructions from the Department, and there being nothing further to detain me at that place, I sailed on the evening of the 13th instant, leaving the St. Louis in port.
    Before closing this report I beg leave to call the notice of the Department to the enclosed copy of a report of Chief Engineer Jones, and also a copy of an abstract from the steamers log."

RADM David D Porter, North Atlantic Blockading Squadron, writes a general order "The following instructions are issued for the guidance of blockading vessels, and must be observed as nearly as possible, except in cases where there is a chance of losing a vessel by too close adherence to orders. While it is desirable to observe some system in blockading, still there are times when officers must deviate from their orders to insure success; and when success follows, or the officer shows the necessity of deviating from general orders, I will approve. A few vessels properly arranged will do more than a crowd of vessels with no system.
    To enable me the better to form a correct idea of the situation of things at the bars, senior officers blockading are directed to give me their views and experience on the subject, and for the future the following order will be carried out as nearly as possible:
    An equal division of vessels must be made at the Eastern and Western bars, and there must be established an inner and outside line. The slower vessels of the divisions are to be stationed near the bars ready to fire on the blockade runners as they attempt to pass in or out, and one or two fast vessels furnished with calcium lights are to be ready with steam up to chase. The slow vessels stationed at the bar are not to chase offshore, but the fast chasers are to pursue as long as there is any chance of catching the blockade runner. The moment a chase commences the chasers must, at night, carry a red light over the stern so that there will be no danger of our vessels firing into each other. These lights must be protected on the sides that they may not show abeam.
    Whichever vessel sights a blockade runner and chases her at night must indicate by signal the course the blockade runner is steering, according to the following table:
    Course signals.
   

1 rocket - Northward.2 rockets and white Coston - Southward.
2 rockets - Northeastward.2 rockets and red Coston - Southwestward
1 rocket and white CostonNortliwestward.2 rockets and green Coston Southeastward
1 rocket and green Coston Eastward.1 rocket and red Coston Westward.
And rockets will be thrown horizontally in the direction of the chase from time to time.
    Course signals by steam whistle.
   
1 short whistle - NorthWard.3 long whistles - Southward.
1 long whistle - Northeastward.1 long and 1 short whistle - Southeastward.
2 short whistles - Northwestward.2 long whistles - Eastward.
1 short and 1 long whistle - Southwestward.3 short whistles - Westward.

    The vessels blockading the bars must not go in until twilight, and must then lie in as close as they can. The picket boats will cruise inside of them over the bar. No lights will be shown by bar blockaders, nor will any noise be allowed on board.
    Each bar vessel will keep out a good, swift boat in fair weather, well armed, and provided with a bright red lantern, enclosed in a box, and the light is to be shown only toward the bar blockaders when anything is seen coming out. The picket steam launches will be provided in the same way.
    vessels lying at the bar will be careful to ascertain the position of each and every blockader, so that there will be no danger of collision or firing into each other.
    Those vessels that are not to chase will (when signal is made that a blockade runner has passed the bar) hold a red light over the side opposite the batteries; these lights always to be kept lit on deck. It is to be remembered that the inshore line is not to chase, but to fire on blockade runners as they go in or out.
    The moment a blockade runner is signaled the bar vessels will endeavor to get in between her and the bar and turn her off. If a vessel supposed to be a blockade runner does not show a red light at once, and attempts to run, she must be fired into immediately, and any vessel making doubtful movements must be brought to. If a vessel moves while being boarded, the boarding boat must be left to take care of itself and the vessel pursued and fired at. The chase must lie with her broadside bearing on the blockade runner and make her blow off her steam.
    The following are the signals to be made when a vessel is sighted, and every commander will study them and strictly observe them:
   
Day of month Vessel making signal first. Answer.
11 flash white3 flashes red.
22 flashes white1 flash red.
33 flashes white2 flashes red.
41 flash red3 flashes white.
52 flashes red1 flash white.
63 flashes red 2 flashes white.
71 flash white, red burning3 flashes red, white burning.
82 flashes white, red burning1 flash red, white burning.
93 flashes white, red burning2 flashes red, white burning.
101 flash red, white burning3 flashes white, red burning.
Day of monthIn fog, vessel making signal first.Answer.
11 short whistle4 long whistles.
22 short whistles1 long whistle.
33 short whistles2 long whistles.
44 short whistles3 long whistles.
51 short, 1 long4 long, 1 short.
62 short, 1 long1 long, I short.
73 short, 1 long2 long, 1 short.
84 short, 1 long3 long, 1 short.
91 long, 1 short1 short, 1 long.
102 long, 1 short1 short, 2 long.
Day of month.Vessel making signal first. Answer.
1Costons No. 1Costons No. 2.
223.
334.
445.
556.
667.
778.
889.
990.
10101.
This system to be recommenced at the end of every ten days of the month. It is not intended by it to particularize any vessel or ship, but to serve as a password to any vessel which may be moving within or about the blockading line or suddenly sighting a friendly vessel at night; the Coston signals to be the last resorted to. Should either of the vessels thus interchanging signals desire to communicate by hail or by boat, the vessel so desiring will "wave" a white light until it be answered by a similar movement from the other vessel. But should the vessel thus summoned be upon urgent duty admitting of no delay, she will, after answering, burn a Coston "A". The challenge for the 31st day of the month will be the same as on the 1st. To signalize to the blockading fleet the presence of a blockade runner, a gun will be fired by the vessel sighting her and signals made to show the direction she is going. Care should be taken, however, that the runner be not prematurely alarmed, and if coming out or going in the vessel seeing her should endeavor to get, if possible, between her and the bar before alarming her or the fleet. The signal for danger will be the firing of a gun and the burning of a blue light.
    One or two fast vessels will be kept 40 miles to the eastward and westward of the bar, and cruise alongshore in the daytime to see if any vessels are anchored ready to run in at night. The vessels to the east. ward and westward of the bar will sometimes, at night, burn false lights corresponding as nearly as possible to the lights shown by the lighthouses at the entrances to Cape Fear River. This may lead the runners astray. In doing this the same position must not always be taken.
    There will be a line of outside blockaders, who will observe the following general rules, deviating from them only when there is a chance of losing a blockade runner. These vessels must lie off Cape Fear at such a distance as would allow the outward-bound blockade runner to make 13 miles per hour from sundown until daylight, remain with low steam after 10 o'clock in the morning, to keep everything in working order, the lookouts aloft to dress in light-colored clothes. Before day- light full steam must be got up to chase the moment a blockade runner appears.
    The position for the senior officer to take will be about the latitude of 33° 15', longitude 75° 50'. A line of vessels will then stretch in a N. N. W. line for Cape Lookout, keeping in signal distance of each other if possible. Another line will stretch N. E. by E., keeping within signal distance. Vessels and diagrams will be sent to these stations as soon as possible.
    The blockade runners will likely try to cross the bar after dark or in the twilight. By allowing 13 knots an hour, they will make the positions assigned the outside line about daylight; they will also start from about that point at night to make the bar at daylight. If seen by the outside line, they must be chased until lost sight of; and commanders will keep on hand a supply of pine wood to enable them to run their steam up quickly.
    If nothing is in sight at daylight, the vessels on the N. E. by E. line will steer in, calculating to meet blockade runners that left as late as 12 o'clock of that night. After running in about 20 miles, and not meeting anything, they will return to their stations, looking out for inward-bound blockade runners. These will likely make their appearance from 2 o'clock p. m. until sunset, at such a distance from Cape Fear inlets as will enable them to cross the bar by or before daylight.
    Blockade runners will try to get head to wind and sea on account of draft and steady running. If two vessels are chasing them, try and keep them in the trough of the sea and not let them get before or off the wind to enable them to carry sail. Other directions will be issued as occasions offer and I become more familiar with the tricks of these blockade runners.
    Every officer will keep a small chart or diagram, including Cape Lookout and Cape Fear, and 40 miles each side of both those places. The position of vessels seen and the line on which they are chased will be marked down and sent to me at such times as may be most convenient. This will best enable me to lay down general rules for the capture of vessels.
    When blockade runners are run on shore at the bar, or beached, they must be destroyed at all hazards, unless they are in a position where they can certainly be got off.
    Every officer must keep a close account of the tides as the runners will often be governed in their movements by high water, especially at night; but the tides must not be relied on to govern their movements, as the class of vessels now employed in illicit trade do not draw much water and can run in and out at any time.
    When calcium lights are supplied they will be kept at night in readiness on the forecastle, and when chasing be kept turned to the runner. Certain vessels on the bar will be supplied with calcium lights, and they will turn them on the bar when a runner is trying to get out or in. As these lights require nice management, they will only be intrusted to competent persons.
    The pipes, hulls, and all parts of blockaders should be painted one uniform color. As the fog signals and course signals will be used at different times, the latter only in clear weather, the former only in fogs, there can be no confusion."

FO William Hunter, CSN, SOPA Savannah, telegrams MGEN W H C Whiting, CSA, Wilmington, NC "he services of Lieutenant Commanding W. Gwathmey, Provisional Navy C. S., are deemed very essential in his present command for the defense of Savannah."

RADM David Glasgow Farragut, West Gulf Blockading Squadron, writes CDR A N Smith, Bureau of Equipment and Recruiting, "I desire to call the attention of the Bureau to the necessity of stopping any further supplies of ordinary seamen, landsmen, firemen, and coal heavers to this squadron. I have now more than enough, and surrounded as we are with the yellow fever at New Orleans and Key West, it would be dangerous to the health of the whole fleet to further crowd our vessels in this climate and at this season. I am still, however, in want of seamen (100), for whom I could find places.
    I trust that the Bureau will look at this matter in the same light that I do and stop, for the present, any further shipment of men except the 100 seamen just mentioned."

CDR Robert Townsend, USS Essex, writes MAJ William H Morgan, USA, Chief of Staff, "I send an officer again to ask if you have any further information regarding the position or movements of the enemy. Captain Pennock tells me that he may leave in the morning, and he desires to have the latest news. I must say it is my own opinion that the rebels have not in any degree abandoned their intention to attack Memphis. Their last known positions place them on roads radiating hence like a fan, and much nearer Memphis than to Columbus, or any other seemingly threatened point. They desire to lull us into a fatal security by circulating rumors of intended movements into Western Kentucky. But I have no fear that they will deceive you into a disregard of all prudent preparations."

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.



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DatesUpcoming Civil War Events
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Hebron CT
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Important News
LCDR Ezra Seals is putting his reenacting schedule together for the 2012-2013 season. School teachers - see the Civil War pages for how you can add excitement to your classroom on this topic.
Want to know what the Navy was doing 150 years ago? Let us give you a briefing, much as would be given to the President or Congress, outlining what the 6 major squadrons and 1 flotilla were accomplishing.


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