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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 Santee, Constitution, and Macedonia
Tue Mar 24 1863

Master William T Street, USS Primrose, writes LCDR Samuel Magaw, 1st Division, Potomac Flotilla, "In obedience to your orders of the 21st instant, I this morning proceeded to Popes Creek, Virginia, in company with the U. S. S. Teaser, and landed at the mouth of the creek, but finding there was not water enough to admit the passage of my boats, I walked up the shore a distance of 2 miles. I found nothing but a small seine boat and seine. I then left the creek and went to the residence of Mr. John Critcher. I found no one there but colored persons, from one of whom I gained information that there were a number of boats below at a place known as the Great Meadows. I immediately returned to my vessel, got underway and steamed down the river, accompanied by the U. S. S. Teaser, to the above-named place, where, upon landing, I found a boat that had been used to run the blockade. I sent Captain [Philip] Sheridan and crew up a ravine, in which, about 200 yards, they found a large canoe concealed in the bushes that had evidently been used for the same purpose. Further search was made, but found no other boats. Had it not been storming I think it very probable we would have during the night arrested the parties engaged in running the blockade, as I was informed they lived only a short distance from the landing. Both the boats I brought away, and will deliver them to you."

LCDR Magaw, writes CMDR Andrew A Harwood, Potomac Flotilla, I have the honor to report the position of the vessels of the First Division during the past week and at present:
Station A.Mortar schooner A. Hugel
Station B.Mortar schooner Daniel Smith and steamer Resolute.
Station 0.Steamers Yankee and Freeborn.
Station D.Mortar schooner Sophronia and steamers Primrose and Teaser.
The Dragon is employed as a dispatch vessel and remains at Aquia Creek when I am absent.
Nothing worthy of note has occurred. The Primrose and Teaser are examining the creeks on the Virginia side on Station D, and have destroyed some boats on suspicion of their having been used in crossing the river.
    The Freeborn brought up from the lower or Second Division some refugees. I suspected some of them of carrying mails and turned them over to the provost-marshal at this place. We will send them to Washington after due examination."

CMDR Harwood writes SECNAV "On Friday, the 20th instant, the schooner E. Waterman was seized and sent up to this yard by Acting Master W. P. Dockray, of the U. S. S. Reliance. She was found at St. Mary's River without custom-house papers of any kind.
    The papers in possession of her master at the time of her seizure show that she had been employed by the Army for the purpose of carrying freight.
    Among them are two orders, one of them in lead pencil from Captain and Assistant Quartermaster J. G. Johnson, both expressed in the following terms:

Aquia Creek, Va., March -- 1863.
SIR: You will at once proceed to Baltimore and upon your arrival report to W.

The Department will observe that the Waterman was picked up, not on her way to Baltimore, but in St. Mary's River, the proper locality for taking on board contraband goods to the opposite shore at Wicomico.
    The schooner had no cargo on board, and judging from antecedent decisions, no intentional violation of law will be found against her; but I must protest against vessels employed by the land forces having so much license to move within the region of blockade by the authority only of an order from an assistant quartermaster.
    The E. Waterman must formerly have had a clearance from the custom house at Baltimore, as she had a Potomac pass in December last to bring up a cargo of oats, which she could not have obtained without the clearance.
    I would enquire whether it is regular for freight vessels employed by the Quartermasters Department to sail without the usual license from the custom-house; if so, I am of opinion it will lead to great abuse."

RADM Samuel P Lee, North Atlantic Blockading Squadron writes SECNAV "In my No. 306 I spoke of the attack on Fort Anderson as being a slight one, as I inferred from the tenor of Commander Murray's report of the 14th and 15th instant (a copy of which is enclosed, marked A)
The public papers represent that Fort Anderson, opposite New Berne, was an unfinished earthwork, without any cannon mounted, and held by a regiment of volunteers, whose casualties on this occasion were one killed and two wounded; that the rebel attack was by bombardment and that no assault was made, although one was threatened.
A subsequent report of Commander Murray, dated March 17 received 23d, accompanied by a list of ammunition expended (copies of both of which are herewith enclosed, marked B), states that the fire of the Hetzel, Commander Davenport, was very accurate, and that after three discharges from her IX-inch gun the enemy's battery was silenced, and that one of the Hetzels shells dismounted and broke a rifled Parrott gun and killed and wounded a number of the enemy. (Commander Murray thinks that one of the IX-inch shells from the Hetzel was probably one of the most destructive projectiles thrown during this war from either side.) From these last reports (B) it appears that the firing of the Hetzel, Hunchback, Shawsheen, and Ceres (particularly that of the Hetzel) was considerable and effective, protecting Fort Anderson and repulsing the enemy. But for the gunboats under Commander Murray, no doubt a serious assault would have been made on that fort.
Two hundred and fifty-seven projectiles were expended, of which fifty-four were IX-inch shells fired from the Hetzel and one hundred and twelve IX-inch shells from the Hunchback."

RADM Lee writes SECNAV "The U. S. S. Florida proceeded to the blockade off Wilmington this morning.
    I have to-day sent the U. S. S. Commodore Morris to relieve the Mahaska at Yorktown, and directed the latter, preparatory to joining the Western Gulf Blockading Squadron, to proceed to Baltimore to have her guards raised, under the Departments telegraphic order of yesterday."

CAPT Charles S Boggs, SOPA Wilmington, writes RADM Lee, "I respectfully request instructions as to what disposition shall be made of persons taken out of vessels seized as a prize for violating the blockade. To send them North in the vessel would require a much larger prize crew than the exigency of the fleet will permit. They are generally a daring set of men, and the compensation to them would be the strongest inducement to attempt a recapture.
    I also request instructions as to what disposition shall be made of the contrabands that may escape to the fleet. Some have come off and many more may be expected, both women and children. Are we obliged by any law or regulation to receive all contrabands that may ask asylum? I am aware that a law imposes a penalty on any officer who shall return or give up any contrabands."

LT James Trathen, USS Mount Vernon, writes SECNAV "I have the honor to report that at 7:10 this morning I discovered a schooner within 100 yards of the beach, standing directly for New Inlet under all sail. We immediately stood in chase under a full head of steam. The schooner persisting in standing for New Inlet, had by this time got within gunshot of Fort Fisher, which fired seven shots, all falling in close proximity to the schooner. At 7:30, having run to within 100 yards of the schooner, stopped the engine and sent two boats well armed under command of Acting Master William T. Buck and Acting Ensign F. A. Paine, who boarded and took possession of her. We then backed up and took her in tow, towing her off, into deeper water, the U. S. S. State of Georgia acting in concert.
    On boarding, she was discovered to be the English schooner Mary Jane, of Halifax, Frazer, master, from Nassau, New Providence, and purporting to [be] bound to Halifax, with a cargo of salt, soap, flour, etc. Besides these articles he has on board a quantity of coffee and a keg of whisky, not on his manifest.
    In view of these circumstances I have, with the advice and consent of the senior officer, sent the schooner Mary Jane, together with Captain Frazer and his mate, to the port of New York for adjudication, in charge of Acting Masters Mate George C. Kellogg."

RADM Samuel Du Pont, South Atlantic Blockading Squadron writes CMDR T Turner, SOPA Charleston, "I have your several communications in reference to the interception, running on shore, and ultimate destruction of the steamer Georgiana while attempting to run the blockade.
    The course pursued in destroying her was the best under the circumstances, and I approve of it. I was aware of the character of this vessel, and consider her capture of the utmost importance.
    In your communication of the 21st you inform me of your intention of sending home by the Massachusetts the sergeant and eight men who were picked up in a boat and who had come out of Charleston Harbor. If you have done so, which I hope still you may not, I have to express my regrets, no one having authority to dispose of prisoners but myself. It would have been of great interest to have had these men here to undergo the systematic examination we are in the habit of giving such, and, besides, we are not sending prisoners north now, having some of our own people in Savannah for whom they could have been exchanged.
    If I had any Charleston pilots I would send them up with pleasure, but since the blockade was established, now nearly two years, we have never had any; occasionally a coast pilot has been on board some of the vessels, but, as a general rule, the commanders of light vessels, by their superior knowledge of charts, soon become quite proficient on the outside work. I had a buoy put on the Rattlesnake to help them, and I can do no more."

SECSTATE writes SECNAV "I have the honor to enclose herewith the copy of a note of yesterday from Lord Lyons, asking whether permits will be granted to British subjects to load ships with cotton in the Savannah River below the Confederate obstructions, and I will thank you to enable me to satisfy the enquiry."

Ira Harris writes SECNAV "I have just received the enclosed letter which I deem of sufficient importance to place it in your hands. it discloses a state of things which few would be prepared to believe. Did I not know the writer so well I should at once say the statement was exaggerated; but coming as it does from Judge Bosworth, now the chief justice of the superior court of New York, I am forced to believe every word of it. Whether anything more can be done than is already being done to break up this regular and frequent communication, by which the rebels are evidently receiving much aid and comfort, is a question for you to consider."

RADM Du Pont writes CDR Jonathan Downes, USS Nahant, You will please proceed with the ironclad. Nahant under your command to North Edisto, where Captain John Rodgers will be the senior officer.
    A steamer has been provided to tow you up."

RADM Du Pont writes CDR Reed Werden, USS Conemaugh, " You will please proceed with the Conemaugh under your command to Georgetown, S. C., and resume the charge of that blockading station, relieving the Sebago, Commander Beaumont, whose orders I enclose.
   You will perceive that I direct him to take on board the colony from North Island. From all I can learn this had best be done, but should any reason present itself on further investigation that would induce you to desire some modification of the order, you are authorized to use your sound discretion in the matter.
   You will please take the mails, with bundles of navy registers, etc., for the vessels off Charleston and for the Sebago.
   Should the ironclads move in the morning, you will tow the Nahant to North Edisto. If, however, they do not move, you will proceed without her."

RADM Du Pont writes CDR J C Beaumont, USS Sebago, "On being relieved by the Conemaugh, Commander Werden, in charge of the blockade of Georgetown, you will return to Port Royal with the Sebago under your command.
    After diligent enquiry I am induced to believe that it will be to the advantage of that Station and of benefit to the people who are there that the colony on North Island should be removed; I have therefore to direct that you will take them on board and bring them to Port Royal.
    Had I a transport of any kind to send up I would relieve you from this duty, but your passage will be brief and you must make the best arrangements you can. Commander Werden is informed of my views on this matter."

Master Pennell, USS Allen, writes SECNAV "I have the honor to report the capture of the British schooner Gypsy, of Nassau, New Providence, formerly the Grace B. Baker, of Key West, by this vessel, under my command, on the 20th instant, 35 miles west of this bay. The following are the particulars: On the 19th instant, at 3:30 p. m., the lookout at the masthead reported a sail standing in for the bay. At 4 p. m. she opened out past the woodland on the point, bringing her in full view of this vessel from on deck, and about 3 miles distant. She immediately altered her course to the westward. I got underway and gave chase. The wind being light and the ships bottom very foul, I did not come up with her until next morning, when I made her out close inshore. I stood in as near as was prudent and sent boats to board her. Soon after our boats left the ship I saw a boat plying between the schooner and the shore, and a man on the beach; shortly after our boats boarded her, her boat returned on board. The officer in charge of our boats took charge of the schooner, ran her down to the ship, and sent the captain on board with his papers. On looking at the papers I saw that the manifest did not agree with the captains statement of cargo on board. I placed Acting Masters Mate John E. Stickney, with a crew from this vessel, in charge, and ordered him to proceed to this bay. The wind being light from the eastward, I did not get back until yesterday. The schooner came in this afternoon. I have been on board and examined the cargo as far as possible without breaking bulk. The manifest calls for 300 sacks salt, 12 reams paper, 2 boxes containing plated forks and spoons, and 3 of knives and forks. I find but 3 boxes and 2 bales of paper on board; one of the boxes is partly burst open and contains files and wrenches and other implements for mechanics use. One of the boxes is 12 feet long and 1 foot square, and by the appearance does not contain knives and forks.
    The schooner is leaking considerably. I shall send her to Key West as soon as I make some necessary repairs. The schooner cleared from Havana for New Orleans on the 9th of March. The captain says he was bound for New Orleans, and must have drifted to the eastward of his course."

CAPT A M Pennock, Fleet Captain, Mississippi Squadron, telegrams SECNAV "Just received communication from Lieutenant-Commander Breese, dated Black Hawk, March 20.
    The Hartford is below Warrenton. Admiral Farragut's secretary came on board this morning, en route to Admiral Porter. It will take him a week at least to communicate and get back. He says that the Hartford passed the fort. The others were repulsed, and one they saw in flames. It is believed that the Mississippi was the ship destroyed."

BGEN Alfred W Ellet, Mississippi Marine Brigade, writes CAPT Walke, USS Lafayette, "I have received a written communication from Admiral Farragut in which he informs me that he had requested from Admiral Porter an ironclad gunboat and two rams, to enable him to hold the river between Vicksburg and Port Hudson. In consequence of the failure to get the fleet above that point, he is entirely too weak to accomplish this great object unaided. It is my purpose to send past the batteries to-night, in compliance with this request, the Switzerland and Lancaster, and shall be glad, if you conclude to send a gunboat, to be informed, that we may act in concert." Walke responds "I regret that I can not, under present circumstances, send or accompany the Switzerland and Lancaster to-night with an ironclad, as you propose; but with a hearty good will and sincere prayer for their success..."

BGEN Ellet writes COL Charles Rivers Ellet, Ram Fleet, "You will proceed in command of the rams Switzerland and Lancaster to pass the batteries above Vicksburg to-night and report to Admiral Farragut below.
    Take every precaution to prevent lights being seen on your boats during the passage down. Take only men enough to run the boats. Have the yawls on the starboard guards for instant use in case of necessity, and hang knotted ropes from either side to the waters edge, to which men could hang to avoid steam.
    You will not, in the event that either boat is disabled, attempt, under fire of the batteries, to help her off with the other boat, but will run on down, it being of primary importance that one boat at least should get safely by.
    The purpose for which you are sent below is to assist in keeping possession of the river between Vicksburg and Port Hudson, and cutting off the enemy's communication with and supplies from Red River and its tributaries, and to aid in repelling the rebel rams and cotton clad steamers if they should attack Admiral Farragut's vessels. You will afford all the aid in your power to the military force which will attack Warrenton to-morrow. Report to me by every convenient opportunity."

CPT W D Crandall, USA Assist Adj General writes MGEN Grant "I am directed by General Ellet to inform you that he has arranged with Admiral Farragut to send two rams down to his assistance to-night. These vessels when safely below will, with the Albatross, according to an arrangement already made with the officer commanding the troops opposite Warrenton, convey the troops across to attack the batteries, while the flagship Hartford silences their guns; no small boats will, therefore, be needed for the purpose contemplated to-day."

MGEN Grant writes BGEN Ellet, "I am just informed that to insure success of the enterprise against Warrenton, ten or twelve small boats will be required. May I request you to furnish that number? If it is intended to send a ram past Vicksburg tonight, they could be sent by her; if not, by sending them down the canal to-night to the lower canal, Colonel [Charles R.] Woods, who will command the expedition, and who is now here, will get them. I will see that these boats are returned."

CAPT Pennock telegrams SECNAV "Just received communication from Lieutenant-Commander K. R. Breese, dated Black Hawk, March 19. The admiral has got through Steele's and Black bayous with five ironclads and the Price, and into Deer Creek, making all haste for Yazoo. Doubtless he is there now. General Sherman and troops are following up."

CAPT Pennock telegrams L Weldon, US District Attorney, Springfield, IL, "Will you authorize D. L. Phillips, United States marshal southern district of Illinois, by telegraph, to receive prize steamer Evansville? Answer immediately. I have had her ready to turn over to him for some days."

LCDR Thomas O Selfridge, USS Conestoga, writes RADM Porter, "In the past two days 582 bales of cotton have passed up on the steamers Tigress and Continental.
    Of this amount, 345 bales belonged to Government, consigned to Captain Eddy, quartermaster at Memphis, and Major Allen, quartermaster at St. Louis; 238 bales to W. C. Wagley, whose permit and contract I enclose; 9 bales to Mrs. S. A. Johnson, who accompanies it, with the permission of General McPherson.
    All is quiet. The Bragg is engaged taking off Mrs. Twiddy's cotton and effects.
    The levee at Bolivar is cut in two places."

CDR Jonathan K Mitch, CSN, Office of Orders and Details, writes LT Francis L Hoge, CSN "You are hereby detached temporarily from Drewry's Bluff and will report to Flag-Officer Samuel Barron, in this city, as a member of a board for the examination of midshipmen, etc., and when this duty shall have been accomplished you will return and resume your present duty at the bluff."

LT J Taylor Wood, CSN writes LT Catesby AP R Jones, "I regret exceedingly not meeting you on the road. I missed you by a day or two at Mobile. I had a very interesting and instructive trip. Our iron gunboats are increasing quite rapidly in number, but all want power. Three or four knots will not do; as rams some of them are harmless. I prefer as a battery two 7-inch and two IX-inch to any other, and a 5-inch armor to 4. Brooke is about making round X and XI inch smoothbore and banding them; will use very heavy charges. This may answer for very short ranges, but I hardly see its other advantages. There is quite a ferment just now in naval circles. You doubtless heard most of the changes before this. Forrest relieves Barron on James River. The latter is president of a perambulating board for the examination of midshipmen. Mitchell takes Forrest's place in the Bureau. Brooke relieves Minor, who goes to Selma. Fairfax is inspector-general of ordnance. These are changes for the better; others are in contemplation. I do not think there is any chance of the bills before Congress for the Navy passing. I am in favor of a provisional navy for the war. I see no other way of getting rid of the old, infirm, drones, etc. Please let me hear your views. We want at Charleston, Savannah, and other points young men. With almost as many iron vessels in commission as the enemy, we must be doing something. If they concentrate on Charleston, let us dash at Port Royal. If necessary, the vessels from Wilmington, Charleston, and Savannah might concentrate. Fort Sumter is the weak spot of Charleston, and, what is worse, nearly all the heavy guns have been placed on its parapet instead of being distributed around the harbor. I hope your orders are only temporary to Charlotte, that soon you may be employed on active service on the coast or abroad. The admiral has applied for Minor as his flag. Davidson is about starting on an expedition to the Chesapeake. Morris and myself often talk of you."

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.

14 APR 2017 TLGV HQ
Danielson CT
21 APR 2017 Sprague Land Trust
Bolton Rd.
Jupiter and Deep Sky Observing
19 MAY 2017 TLGV HQ
Danielson CT
Light Pollution 101
11 JUN 2017 Camp Laurel
Clubhouse Rd
Acorn Adventures Letterboxing
16 JUN 2017 Sprague Land Trust
Bolton Rd.
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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