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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
CMDR Thomas Craven, CSN
Sun Jun 19 1864

CAPT Jonathan A Winslow, USS Kearsarge, writes SECNAV "I have the honor to inform the Department that the day subsequent to the arrival of the Kearsarge off this port, on the 14th instant, I received a note from Captain Semmes, begging that the Kearsarge would not depart, as he intended to fight her and would not delay her but a day or two.
    According to this notice, the Alabama left the port of Cherbourg this morning at about 9:30 o'clock.
    At 10:20 a. m. we discovered her steering toward us. Fearing the question of jurisdiction might arise, we steamed to sea until a distance of 6 or 7 miles was attained from the Cherbourg breakwater, when we rounded to and commenced steaming for the Alabama. As we approached her within about 1,200 yards she opened fire, we receiving two or three broadsides before a shot was returned. The action continued, the respective steamers making a circle round and round at a distance of about 900 yards from each other. At the expiration of an hour the Alabama struck, going down in about twenty minutes afterwards, and carrying many persons with her.
    It affords me great gratification to announce to the Department that every officer and man did his duty, exhibiting a degree of coolness and fortitude which gave promise at the outset of certain victory."

Surgeon John M Browne, USS Kearsarge writes CAPT Winslow, "I report the following casualties resulting from the engagement this morning with the steamer Alabama:
    John W. Dempsey, quarter gunner, compound comminuted fracture of right arm, lower third, and forearm; arm amputated.
    William Gowin, ordinary seaman, compound fracture of left thigh and leg; seriously wounded.
    James Macbeth, ordinary seaman, compound fracture of left leg; severely wounded."

""

The crew of the CSS Alabama writes "We the seamen and others lately belonging to the steamer Alabama, and captured in the action between that vessel and the U. S. S. Kearsarge off this port on the 19th day of June, 1864, now prisoners of war, do hereby solemnly pledge our sacred word of honor not to engage in arms against or otherwise employ ourselves against the interest of the Government of the United States of America until we shall be regularly exchanged.
    [Signatures.]William Clarke, seaman; William McKenzie, coxswain; Jas. Broderick, coxswain; William. Fonestall, quartermaster; Jonathan Emery, ordinary seaman; William Wilson, coxswain; Edward Rawes, master at arms; Henry Tucker, officers cook; David Leggett, seaman; Jonathan Russell, seaman; Frank Cunian, first-class fireman; Henry Godson, ordinary seaman; Samuel Henry, seaman; Jonathan Horrigan, first-class fireman; Edgar Tripp, ordinary seaman; David Williams, ordinary seaman; Richard Parkinson, officers steward; William Barnes, quarter gunner; George Freemantle, quartermaster; Thos. Brandon, ordinary seaman; Henry Hestake, ordinary seaman; Thomas Watson, ordinary seaman; Jonathan Johnson, ordinary seaman; John Smith, seaman; Henry McCoy, seaman; Thomas Parker, boy; James Ochure, seaman; Edward Burrell, seaman; James Higgs, seaman; Patrick. Bradley, fireman; Match Madick, ordinary seaman; William Miller, ordinary seaman; Jonathan Benson, coal heaver; Joseph Puison, coal heaver; James Maguire, coal heaver; Jonathan Casen, seaman; Henry Higgin, seaman; Frank Hammas, seaman; Nicholas Adams, landsman; Michael Shields, seaman; Peter Laperty, second-class fireman; George Conroy, ordinary seaman; David Thurston, seaman; Richard Evans, ordinary seaman; Thomas Potter, second-class fireman; John Wilson, boy; James Clemens, yeoman; George Peasey, seaman; John Riley, fireman; Henry Yates, seaman; James Wilson, boy.
    In presence of J. Adams Smith, paymaster, U. S. Navy; Jonathan. M. Browne, surgeon, U. S. Navy."

The crew of the CSS Alabama write a letter "We, the wounded prisoners of war, late seamen and others on board the Alabama, captured in the action off Cherbourg by the U. S. S. Kearsarge on the 19th of June, 1864, do solemnly affirm upon our sacred word of honor that we will not bear arms against or otherwise operate against the interest of the Government of the United States in any manner whatsoever until we shall have been regularly exchanged
    Names. - Thomas (his x mark) Winter, second-class fireman; Jacob (his x mark) Verbor, seaman; Jonathan (his x mark) Neat, seaman; Robert (his x mark) Wright, captain maintop; William (his x mark) McGinley, coxswain; William (his x mark) Maguire, captain foretop; Martin (his x mark) King, first-class fireman; Samuel (his x mark) Williams, first-class fireman; Peter (his x mark) Hughes, boatswains mate; Robert (his x mark) Devine, ordinary seaman.
    Witnesses. - J. Adams Smith, paymaster; Jonathan M. Browne, surgeon."

John Slidell, CS Commissioner to France writes A Bonfils, "I have your esteemed favor of yesterday, and hasten to reply, because I wish to anticipate the knowledge of the result of the sailing of the Alabama from Cherbourg, whatever that result may be, and that what I say may not hereafter be suspected of having been dictated or modified by such knowledge.
    I can not give to Captain Semmes the advice which you recommend. I have the most entire confidence in his judgment, his skill, and his cool courage. I believe that he would not proceed to the encounter of the Kearsarge unless he thought that he had a reasonable chance of capturing her. He knows that his opponent is vastly superior to him in size, weight of metal, and number of crew, but he relies upon the superior morale of his officers and crew to counterbalance his material inferiority. It has not been the habit of our people during this war to scan too closely the number and position of their adversaries. The officers and men of the Alabama in this respect are animated by the same instincts and impulses as have led our soldiers to victory on many a field against enormous odds. So it will be in the case of the Alabama. She may succumb in the contest, but the honor of her flag will be maintained.
    And now I come to the main object of this letter: It is to make a timely protest against the ungenerous and partial policy of this Government, which has forced Captain Semmes to take the course he has.
    You tell me that permission would have been given to the Alabama to enter the military port and repair. How can you know whether the permission would have been given at all; and if at all, when ? I have recently had occasion, in the case of the Rappahannock, detained without cause since the 17th February, to know how long an unfriendly minister may delay the decision of the plainest case. But, supposing that the permission would have been granted, we want no favors reluctantly bestowed, and reject a hospitality extorted by patient expectation. Captain Semmes, acting on the advice given by me to his superior officer, would have proceeded to Bordeaux to make, in a mercantile shipyard, the required repairs of the Alabama, and would have thus avoided incurring obligations which would have been gratefully acknowledged had they been cheerfully conferred, but which would have weighed painfully on all of us knowing that they were not the free offerings of good will.
    I beg you to understand that I make no allusions to the admiral prefect. I am sure that could he have consulted his own judgment and inclination the Alabama would have been in dock before the appearance of the Kearsarge. As it is, the responsibility of whatever may occur must rest with the minister of marine or minister of foreign affairs, or with both of them."
He adds in post script "I have written in great haste, as I go to the country at 11 o'clock."

SECNAV telegrams CMDR C K Stribling, Naval Station, Philadelphia, "Send James Adger to report to Rear-Admiral Dahlgren off Charleston, S. C., as soon as ready."

RADM Theodorus Bailey, East Gulf Blockading Squadron writes LCDR E Y McCauley, USS Tioga, "In consequence of the yellow fever, which has broken out in your vessel, you will proceed north forthwith to the navy yard at Portsmouth, N. H., reporting to the commandant of the yard on your arrival at that port."

RADM Bailey writes LT W C Rogers, USS Iuka, "You will proceed forthwith to Tampa Bay and there coal ship and make the necessary repairs to your machinery. When ready for sea you will proceed to cruise to the southward and eastward of Mobile from 50 to 100 miles offshore; when in want of coal, return to Tampa."

RADM David Glasgow Farragut, West Gulf Blockading Squadron, writes CDR A Gibson, USS Potomac, "As it is important that the crew of the Glasgow should be trusty persons, you will permit Acting Master Dyer to exchange one seaman and one ordinary seaman now on board of his vessel, and allow him to retain those men that he borrowed from the Potomac, you replacing them from those for general service, and do not give him any men who are in debt. Bring the Bloomer to the navy yard for repairs."

LCDR James A Greer, 5th District, Mississippi Squadron writes LT James Laning, USS Rattler, "You can release the Robert Emmet, as I am sure we will not be able to make a case against her with the evidence we now possess. I am told she is going to Memphis."

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.

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15 OCT 2018 Brown Park
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Maritime History of Norwich
27 OCT 2018 Brown Park
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Maritime History of Norwich




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