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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, 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
Surgeon Landale and ENS Whiting, USN
Tue Nov 18 1862

US Consul, Liverpool, writes "The Julia Usher has not yet sailed. She took on yesterday 3 more large cases containing guns, 12 cases shells, and 4 other cases, contents unknown. She will sail from this port direct for Havana. The bark Intrinsic sailed yesterday, having cleared on the 14th instant."

Boston Marine Society writes SECNAV "The undersigned, a committee of the Boston Marine Society, have been instructed to call to your notice the defenseless condition of the harbor of Boston and to respectfully solicit that official action which shall place it secure against the attack of an enemy. Our citizens are deeply concerned on the subject and look to the Government, who re possessed with all the powers which are required to make such arrangements as will afford that protection which shall allay their fears and anxieties.
There are obvious reasons in the history and condition of the city of Boston which might tempt an audacious and ambitious foe to lay it under contribution, or to waste and destroy the property of its people. The navy yard, the marine and navy hospitals, and other public institutions are so situated that they almost invite the assault of a vigorous foe. The applause with which such an act would be hailed by the enemies of the Union in the Southern States would nerve the invader to run the risk, while the moral effect abroad, should it be unfortunately successful, might be disastrous to the cause in which our country is engaged.
A recent memorial to your Department from the Board of Trade of this city has so fully set forth the facts in the case that it precludes the necessity of a more elaborate detail. We heartily endorse the appeal for a larger and more efficient armament for the forts, as well as the suggestion that the Nahant may remain in this harbor, or, if that is not possible, that some other ironclad vessel may be permanently stationed in its waters.
We would also, in addition, respectfully suggest the expediency of having at the navy yard, fully armed and equipped. a vessel of war which should be ready at a moments notice to proceed to sea and meet the foe at the entrance of the harbor, should pilot or homeward-bound vessels give notice of their approach."

CMDR Andrew A Harwood, Potomac Flotilla, writes SECNAV, "Your letter of yesterday, transmitting information from Captain Case of the designs of the enemy to surprise some of our steamers in the waters of Virginia was immediately forwarded to the officers commanding divisions of the Potomac Flotilla, in order that no precaution may be neglected against such attempts.
Owing to the habits and imperfect military training of the majority of the subordinate volunteer officers, which renders them less vigilant after the fatigues of extra duty than if they had been brought up in the Navy, a successful attack on the smaller vessels of the flotilla might be expected, and has been anticipated by furnishing those stationed on the lower Potomac with boarding nettings, and putting commanding officers on their guard.
More masters mates of good habits are much wanted. Those who do conduct themselves with propriety are, in some of the vessels, overworked between the duty on board and that of rowing guard at night."

LCDR McCrea, 2nd Division, Potomac Flotilla writes CMDR Harwood, "I have the honor to report that one trunk partially filled with pipes and pins, and one partially filled with felt hats, also 1,000 pair of wool combs, were picked up floating off Herring Creek. I respectfully suggest, as they do not come under the prize law, not having been captured, that they may be sold at private auction for the benefit of the flotilla." In a separate letter he writes "I have the honor to report the capture last night by the guard boat from the Ceur de Lion of six white prisoners (male), crossing from Virginia to Maryland, having upon their persons about $21,000. I forward all this day.
Names given by prisoners: Louis A. McLean, E. V. Stuart, William T. Littlepage, Hugh Rice, J. Wilson Hodges, A. B. Jones, J. S. Wallace. Two colored men, boatmen."

CMDR Harwood writes James S Chambers, Navy Agent, Philadelphia "I have to request that you will cause to be shipped to the Potomac Flotilla, as early as practicable, another cargo of anthracite coal for steamers use, the vessel to report to the guardship near mouth of the river, as directed by the Bureau of Construction, etc., about the first of October, ultimo.
As there is some difficulty about leaving part of the cargo with the flotilla and bringing the remainder to this yard, I request that a whole load be sent to the flotilla."

ASSIST SECNAV writes CAPT Thomas Turner, SOPA Norfolk, "Referring to the order of the President, in relation to trade with Norfolk, transmitted to Acting Rear-Admiral Lee on the 13th instant, you are instructed to recognize the signature of Major-General Dix only, and not that of persons signing, or professing to sign, for him."

LCDR Braine, USS Monticello, writes RADM Samuel P Lee, North Atlantic Blockading Squadron, "I have the honor to inform you that this morning at early daylight we weighed anchor as usual, and, as soon as everything could be distinctly seen around, I stood to the westward along the coast. At 8 a. m. we discovered a schooner close inshore to the westward and gave chase. The parties on board of her ran her on shore. With a few shell we dispersed those unloading her. She proved to be the English schooner Ariet, of Halifax. We found no papers or colors on board. At this time another schooner was discovered to the westward down the coast. Leaving two boats endeavoring to get off the first schooner, I immediately started in pursuit of the second. She was also run on shore. I drove those employed in unloading her away from her with a few shell. On boarding she proved to be the English schooner Ann Maria, of Nassau, New Providence. I found no papers or colors. Getting as close to her as possible with the steamer, I got a hawser to her and hauled her off. She was, however, bilged and sunk in 4 fathoms of water. I immediately returned to the first schooner and, finding her bilged, fired, but the fire was extinguished by the sea.
The cargoes of these vessels were principally salt, a few kegs of lard,and a few barrels of flour and sugar. I destroyed everything I could lay my hands on. I obtained two compasses, some old charts, and a few other articles of slight value, such as brooms, etc., which I appropriated for ships use.
I enclose all the papers found on board. I think we must have destroyed upward of 2,000 bags of salt
The schooners were each about 80 tons, one English and one American built."

CDR Davenport, SOPA Sounds of North Carolina, writes James S Chambers, US Navy Agent, Philadelphia, "You will please find enclosed herewith a requisition for boiler iron, with note from Acting Rear-Admiral Lee appended.
The acting rear-admiral directs me to request that you send at once a coal vessel with this iron and as much coal as she can carry. Send a good vessel drawing not over 8 feet, to come through Hatteras Inlet, with a smart captain."

LCDR George Ransom, USS Kineo, writes RADM David G. Farragut, West Gulf Blockading Squadron "I have the honor to report that at 10:30 p. m. on the 15th instant I proceeded up the river from Donaldsonville, accompanied by the Sciota, Katahdin, and Itasca, passing Baton Rouge at 7 a. m. and arriving abreast of the head of Profit Island at 10:35 a.m. Here, on the east bank, we discovered a very heavy and extensive earthwork, which I estimated to be fully 80 feet in height above the water level, on which I could count, from the forecastle of this vessel, five guns, easily distinguishable with a glass. An officer in the crosstrees reported seven, and evidently of large caliber. I moved up slowly within a distance estimated at about one mile from this battery, until I could plainly distinguish with my glass the color of the clothes worn by men standing for a moment upon the parapets; they soon disappeared.
Here I remained stemming the current, sometimes approaching a little closer, one hour and thirty-five minutes, always keeping the vessel under easy command with the helm, and closely followed by the other vessels in line.
We had evidently taken all by surprise from Baton Rouge up to the time of doubling a point of Profit Island, where we hove in sight first of a party on the west bank having a flag for making telegraphic signals. They fled rapidly up behind the levee, but occasionally the man with the flag would appear upon the levee, making strenuous efforts to telegraph, and which I endeavored to prevent by the use of the Parrott rifle. He, however, succeeded probably in conveying some intelligence, for he made repeated attempts, though each time that he appeared a shot from the rifle quickly interrupted him. On arriving at the head of the island a body of 30 or 40 cavalry was seen, which had evidently been surprised, and were moving rapidly away toward the rear of the earthwork. The rifle was quickly shifted over and fired at them. Soon after this a squadron of cavalry was seen on the west bank, moving down toward us, and in a few minutes this party had the audacity to show their heads above the levee directly abreast of us. They disappeared instantly, after a well-directed shot from the rifle, which seemed indeed to strike right in the midst of them.
Some contrabands appearing soon after this, coming down to the water near the same place, I dispatched a boat and brought two of them on board; and for the information obtained from them, which I deemed somewhat important, I beg leave to refer you to two of the enclosed papers one marked A, the other B.
Immediately on coming aboard these contrabands informed me very particularly of a battery of seven large guns on a hill nearer to us than the one I have mentioned, but not so high, and hid from us by a point of woods. They suggested that if I would go up, just to pass that point, I would see the guns plainly. One of them had been employed four weeks ago in getting some of those guns into position.
The position of the first-mentioned very formidable battery is such that it can effectually command the narrow channel through which vessels would have to approach it from below. The channel is so narrow that the vessel thus approaching would be made necessarily to head almost directly for the battery, full twenty minutes under its tremendous fire, ere she would be in a position that she might reply with a single broadside gun; and by this time she would be receiving the cross fire of the lower seven-gun battery, hitherto concealed by the trees, and of other batteries higher up along the cliffs in the bend.
I observed unmistakable appearances of earthwork and of batteries at irregular intervals, extending away into the bend. At first, on arriving in sight of Port Hudson, I observed numerous tents scattered along between the first discovered earthwork and the bend, where the encampment seemed regular and very extensive; they were hurriedly struck as we approached. I could not bring the XI-inch gun to bear upon the battery at any time without maneuvering in the narrow channel in a manner to incur greater risk to the vessel than it seemed to me could be justified by the circumstances.
I am fully convinced, sir, by the information which I have obtained from various sources, and by my own careful observations, that the fortifications of Port Hudson are now made, by the peculiar advantages of situation, capable of resisting more effectually than Vicksburg the passage of any vessel or fleet.
Having accomplished the object of our reconnaissance, as nearly as possible in accordance with your instructions to me, and very satisfactorily, I believe, as regards the matter of soundings and the location of batteries, I made the signal to turn downstream, beginning with the rear vessel. This, in that narrow channel, we found a somewhat difficult maneuver and tedious, having to reverse engines, first to back, then to go ahead very slow. During the time occupied in turning nearly twenty minutes we were in constant expectation of being opened upon from the rebel battery, and on getting fairly pointed down the stream I felt somewhat grateful that our expectations in that respect had not been realized. Not a shot, not even a musket, was fired at us at any time during the reconnaissance.
On approaching near to the lower end of Profit Island on the passage up, I fixed unhesitatingly upon a place peculiarly suitable in all respects for the landing of an army. Here, about 5 miles distant from the rear of the nearest rebel battery, and where our troops might be well protected by gunboats against any opposition from the enemy to their landing, artillery or cavalry may be disembarked without difficulty or delay whatever.
I ascertained quite to my satisfaction, by examination of contrabands, that no troops have been crossed over from Port Hudson. No preparation has been made for a battery on the west side of the river.
I enclose herewith reports of Lieutenant-Commander Roe, Lieutenant-Commander Lewis, and of Lieutenant Rodgers, executive officer of this vessel. Accompanying these several reports of our observations, I have the pleasure to hand you also three very truthful sketches one from the Katahdin, by Third Assistant Engineer William I. Reid, and two by Acting Masters Mate Walter H. Davis, who was stationed upon the fore crosstrees of this vessel. "

RADM Farragut writes CMDR Bell, SOPA, Pensacola, "I have received nothing from you all by the Sykes as yet. I hear from Lieutenant-Commander Madigan that a vessel has arrived with provisions at Ship Island, and that he has very properly sent her to Pensacola, they from Philadelphia. I bought a stove for the hospital, which will go over in the Sykes. It is to stand in the center of the downstairs room, the pipe to go through the floor and a drum in the upstairs room. I also bought oil; tacks, both copper and iron.
The gunboats are now up the river on a reconnaissance of Port Hudson, and as soon as Weitzel returns I think we will attack it or Mobile. They are very much in want of provisions here, so I hope you have put those required by the commodore here on board the Tennessee and sent her back. I am so anxious to learn if the oil has arrived from any quarter to the relief of the blockaders. If the Kensington did not get any at Key West let me know, for I can get 1,300 gallons more at a very reasonable price $2. Please have the smokestack of the Tennessee made at the yard, as I sent the iron round in her."

CAPT Thornton Jenkins, SOPA Mobile writes CMDR Bell, SOPA Pensacola, "I transmit herewith a communication from Lieutenant-Commander Stillwell, commanding the gunboat Pinola, in relation to the suspicious movements of the sloop Edwards.
I am satisfied from all the circumstances (some of which are not stated in the report of Captain Stillwell) that this sloop was inside of Mobile Bay, and of course for no legitimate purpose.
I have instructed Lieutenant-Commander Stillwell (and shall instruct all commanding officers on this blockade) to capture and bring in this sloop Edwards when seen again. I am under the impression that the master admitted that he had been inside of the Pinola that night. The weather has been so bad that I have not been able to communicate with the Pinola, to ascertain if I understood correctly the verbal report. The Pinola slipped her cable to chase the Edwards, and in consequence of the weather and rough sea, it has not yet been recovered."

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



DatesUpcoming Civil War EventsTopic
12-14 MAY 2017 Ashbel Woodward Museum
North Franklin, CT
Living History
18-20 AUG 2017 Schulyer Flatts,
Colonie, NY
Living History

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

DatesPlaceTopic
14 APR 2017 TLGV HQ
Danielson CT
Pluto
21 APR 2017 Sprague Land Trust
Bolton Rd.
Franklin,CT
Jupiter and Deep Sky Observing
19 MAY 2017 TLGV HQ
Danielson CT
Light Pollution 101
11 JUN 2017 Camp Laurel
Clubhouse Rd
Lebanon,CT
Acorn Adventures Letterboxing
16 JUN 2017 Sprague Land Trust
Bolton Rd.
Franklin,CT
Deep Sky Observing
Important News
School teachers - see the Civil War and astronomy pages for how you can add excitement to your classroom on these topics.
Want to know what the Navy was doing 155 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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