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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
USS Hartford in 1865, Flagship for RADM Farragut
Mon Oct 20 1862

RADM Charles Wilkes, West India Squadron writes SECNAV that he still has not located the USS Dacotah and USS Santiago de Cuba. The Dacotah is probably heading north with 17 cases of yellow fever. The Cimarron has not been seen either. He intends to search through the various small cays along the edge of the Bahama Bank. He add in post script that it "is the intention of the Confederates to concentrate all the force they can at Mobile in order to liberate that port from the blockade, and that they have given notice to this effect from or through their agents to both the French and English merchants. The outfitting of so many with iron for ironclad vessels seems to warrant the belief that at Mobile they are endeavoring to construct this kind of vessels to cope with those on the blockade. We know they are purchasing a better class of vessels for war purposes, and that they fit them at some one of the cays- This, as I have informed you, I shall look to closely. Should they succeed in mustering a sufficient force to enable them to pass the blockading vessels, the port of Mobile would be considered as safe to resort to by both English and French vessels, and they would undoubtedly endeavor to protect them by both English and French men-of-war when on the high seas. There appears a belief here that the Confederate Government has a treaty or agreement with the French and English governments to forward their cotton from both Mobile and Charleston, and from which they have drawn considerable funds. It is thought some 200,000 bales have gone forward on this arrangement, but my information does not yet warrant me in speaking positively on this subject, or the extent to which it is intended to endeavor to carry it out."

RADM Wilkes writes to CAPT McInstry, USS Dactoah, that he is to go cruising to Sagua La Grande, Cardenas, and Matauzas and if he gets any word of the rebel privateers he is to take action to capture or destroy them. he will be relieved on the 10th or 12th of November and should go to Havana for further orders and coal.

CMDR Andrew A Harwood, Potomac Flotilla, writes SECNAV of the capture of a metallic lifeboat called the C F Ward. C F Ward has been arrested. "I beg leave to draw your attention to the fact that Ward is the second person recently arrested by the flotilla in the act of carrying correspondence between the loyal States and their enemies. The correspondence is full of treasonable sentiments, and although there does not appear to be any attempt to give military information, there is no reason to suppose that it may not be done, the usual precautions of concealment being observed. If it were generally understood that these traders and mail carriers would be, when caught, punished as spies, an immediate stop would be put to their operations, which are by no means harmless. If the Department agrees with me in this opinion, may I request that the notice of the War Department may be drawn to the subject, and that some warning may be given by proclamation, that ignorant men may not embark in a business which will put their lives in jeopardy."SECNAV endorses it saying that "It would be well for the officer of the flotilla to send evidence in each case of arrest; also to carefully discriminate, so as not to do injustice to innocent parties. Intercepted letters send to Department." In a separate letter he says "The following-named persons, representing themselves as refugees, were sent up from the lower Potomac by the flotilla: R. Cully, Isaac N. Neal, J. Campbell, whites; William Ashton, colored. The white men all had passes from the rebel military authorities from Richmond to Hanover, to obtain which they swore allegiance to the so-called Confederate States. These men have been delivered into the custody of the provost-marshal."

Master Wright, USS Arletta, writes CMDR Harwood, that on the 18th he went out on a dark night to search for a boat that was transferring goods and searching up the Neabsco Creek found two boats taking them and discovering a 10 ton boat and 60 cords of recently cut wood. As it was low tide he could not take the 10 ton boat so he holed it and cut the keel.

LCDR McCrea, 2nd Division, Potomac Flotilla writes CMDR Harwood that he captured F J Allston with some goods. "They were captured on shore, just pushing off at Floods Creek. I have the horse and wagon that brought the goods and men at Piney Point, subject to your order." He says the steamer Keyport which goes between Baltimore and Washington is aiding the rebels. "I would suggest a prohibition to all ports [boats] to trade on the Maryland shore on the Potomac River. I would state that great quantities of goods come via the Patuxent River, landed principally at Millstone Landing, no vessels being there, or ever have been (save this vessel last year). The river is open to all vessels from Baltimore.
A cavalry force would be of great service on the shores of the Potomac, or rather at the principal trading towns, Port Tobacco, Leonardtown, Chaptico, Great Mills, Millstone Landing, and generally patrolling the country. I have had no opportunity since the receipt of your enclosures to attend to the so-called robbery of the Mary Jane in the Leonardtown Bay, but will at the moment I can leave Breton's Bay."
He wants to convert the Wyandank to a hospital ship. On the 21st he adds that he has examined Keyport and has changed his mind; that she is not passing contraband. He wants to know if passengers need a pass or merely the number of passengers noted.

RADM S P Lee, North Atlantic Blockading Squadron writes Master Wright, USS Wyandotte, to let the John Francis pass to Yorktown as the cargo is for the use of the Army.

RADM Lee writes SECNAV that MGEN Dix has consented to take the extra contrabands and the USS Crusader will send them to Yorktown. He has sent for the San Jacinto at Wilmington to report to him for duty in the search for the 290 (CSS Alabama).

M M Jackson, US Consul Halifax, telegrams SECNAV "British screw steamer Stanley, 356 tons, arrived here to-day from Charleston, purporting to be from Nassau, New Providence; 650 bales cotton, bound Liverpool."

LCDR Upshar, USS Flambeau, writes CAPT Green, SOPA Charleston, SC "I have to report that at 2:40 this morning, while at our anchorage inside the Rattlesnake Shoal, I discovered that the schooner Blunt was firing guns and had already discharged a rocket, apparently toward Sullivan's island. We immediately beat to quarters, but for at least ten minutes nothing suspicious could be observed. Finally, at 9:52 a. in., discovered a strange vessel to the northward and eastward, stealthily gliding under shadow of the laud. We immediately slipped our chain, got underway, and backed our engine until we found ourselves in 16 feet of water. We then fired at the approaching vessel from our after gun twice in succession. Finding that the strange object was still moving onward, we wore ship and brought our forward and midship guns to bear. We then fired repeatedly and as rapidly as possible five additional shell from our 30-pounders and howitzer, at the same time giving chase to the northward and westward, within a very short distance of Breach inlet batteries. By this time the stranger had reached a point under cover of the said batteries and appeared for a few moments to have grounded there. We then gave her three more shell from our 30-pounders, but immediately afterwards discovered that the strange steamer was again underway and rapidly eluding us. It was now impossible to chase any farther, as we were already close under the shore. At this moment heard report of a gun from the harbor, and judging that the stranger had reached a point of safety, we dropped our remaining anchor under foot and waited until daylight, when, perceiving that we were within easy range of the batteries, we steamed out a short distance. By this time we were enabled to notice that the chase was lying close to Fort Moultrie and apparently in an injured condition, whether from our shot or from having run on the piles there implanted, we know not. Unable to act further in the matter, we then weighed anchor and steamed in search of the one which had been slipped."

J Berkemejer, Austria Consul, writes to CDR Renshaw, SOPA, Galveston, "Having learned that some runaway negroes found refuge on board of your fleet and that you have declined to return them to the owner, I beg leave to solicit your information if my negroes will be regarded contraband likewise in case they should claim your protection or if they will be restored to me."

RADM David D Porter, Mississippi Squadron, issues General Order #9 " Owing to the unusual number of sick in this squadron, it becomes imperative to adopt some sanitary measures to endeavor to bring about an improvement in the health of the crews.
Hereafter breakfast will be served to the men on their turning out in the morning and before washing decks.
The crews are to be examined at morning and evening quarters, to see if they are comfortably clad and have their under flannels on.
Boats are not allowed to leave the vessels in hot weather without awnings, and boat keepers are required to keep the awnings spread alongside.
In ironclads, where the sun can not get to the decks, drying stoves must be freely used.
Commanders will, when practicable, give the crews fresh meat and vegetables three times a week.
The men will not be permitted to sleep in the open air, or where night dews can affect them, but will be piped down at 8 p. m. in winter and at 9 in summer.
Every means must be adopted to keep the men healthy, and although it is very desirable to have clean ships commanding officers will do well not to wet the decks too often; the comfort and health of the men must be the first thing to be looked after."

LCDR Thomas Selfridge, USS Cairo, writes RADM Porter, "I have the honor to report that after a careful personal examination of all the shell on board the Cairo I find the fuzes of all of them but some 60 in a ruined condition from dampness.
They are all of the army pattern, with no protection from dampness.
If it is your intention to have the squadron supplied with the navy shell, I should prefer waiting for them, rather than to replace mine by a requisition upon the ordnance boat."

LCDR Selfridge orders LT Joshua Bishop, USS General Bragg, "You will please select eight of the contrabands on board of your vessel and have them ready with their accounts to be sent to Cairo.
You will have each one carefully examined by your surgeon, using the same precautions as in shipping men. Send with the contraband all the information you can obtain relating to them, in accordance with the order of the honorable Secretary of the Navy."

SECNAV writes RADM Porter saying that Congress will soon convene and discuss the establishment of a naval station at St. Louis.

CAPT Winslow, SOPA, Memphis, write RADM Porter, "The Catahoula, Helena mail boat, received a desultory fire from guerrillas at this point (some nine miles below Memphis) yesterday morning. I have dropped down to act, in conjunction with a small force dispatched by General Sherman, to break up the party.
There is no appearance of any guerrillas at present, and I feel convinced that the fire must have been by some stragglers from the bands which have been recently recruited around Marion and vicinity."
In another letter he says "I have to report that the expedition below Memphis resulted solely in the destruction of some property by the army on the plantations bordering the river. No guerrillas were seen I shall direct my attention to obtaining the 40 negroes required by you for coal passers, etc."

LCDR Shirk, USS Lexington, writes RADM Porter, "I have the honor to report that upon my arrival here I am informed that on Sunday morning about 7 o'clock a party of guerrillas, numbering from 200 to 300, entered the town of Commerce, and robbed several of the stores of articles of clothing, shoes, caps, etc., in all about $2,000 worth. They also took as prisoners about 30 young men who belonged to the Missouri State Militia, and about 15 or 20 stand of small arms. One man, named Kane, a scout of the Union forces, was wounded.
The guerrillas were under the command of Colonel Preston, Lieutenant-Colonel Parrott, and Major Sickles. Almost all the party are known to be residents of this and the adjoining counties. They remained in town about an hour.
Their camp is at a ferry, due west of Bertrand.
Nine companies of infantry, under the command of Captain Murphy, of the Twenty-ninth Regiment Missouri Volunteers, and a squadron of cavalry, have gone from Cape Girardeau in pursuit, with chances in favor of overtaking the guerrillas.
The goods that were stolen from the town have been on hand since last April.
None of the persons in the guerrilla band live on the river, or near enough to it for me to reach them."

SECWAR writes COL Ellet, Ram Fleet, that he is to retain command of the rams as it was turned over to the Navy.

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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