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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
The remains of the blockade runner Ruby
Thu Feb 18 1864

SECSTATE writes SECNAV "I have the honor to communicate a copy of another telegram from Mr. Pruyn, dated at Kanagawa on the 19th ultimo, in which reference is made to the Alabama." The Enclosure from R H Pruyn, Minister to Japan reads "The American ship Mary Capen, just arrived from Shanghai, reports the Alabama in dock at Amoy, watched by the Wyoming, Captain McDougal, as I have already advised you, having heard that there was a prospect of the Alabama going there for repairs. On consultation with Captain Price it was thought best that the Jamestown should go there. She accordingly left here on the 26th December, and must be there by this time. I advised both Captain McDougal and Captain Price to destroy that vessel if found in any Chinese port, if necessary to prevent her escape."

William L Dayton, US Minister to France, writes CAPT Jonathan Winslow, USS Kearsarge, from Paris, "Two English vessels arrived on Sunday last with coal from London for the Rappahannock. They are now at Calais transshipping this coal (about 200 tons).
    A letter from London dated 17th instant informs me that Mr. Morse, our consul at that port, says there will be on the next day, the 18th (to-day), but six able seamen on board the Rappahannock; that all the others have left or deserted her; that Captain [W. P. A.] Campbell, of the Rappahannock, despairing of completing his crew in that port, will go around to Cherbourg or Brest and try to fill up in those ports, or one of them; that his vessel will be taken around by the aid of the stokers, or in any other way they can manage it. I doubt, however, if the French Government will admit her to come directly into another French port."

CAPT Winslow writes SECNAV from Brest, France "I regret to inform the Department of the escape of the Florida from this port on the 11th instant. The Florida took advantage of a thick, rainy night and left at 2 o'clock, proceeding through the southern passage.
    Mr. Kerros (the U. S. consular agent) is of the opinion that the Florida was ordered off, as such orders came from Paris, either from the French Government or other parties.
    It was expected that she would have been detained two weeks for repairs of machinery, but those repairs were refused by the admiral and the pieces of machinery returned the day before her departure.
    The opinion prevailed in Brest that the Kearsarge was off the main channel blockading, and hence her exit by the southern passage. The Florida, if she proceeded to the southward, must have passed the Kearsarge off Portugal, but if so she was never sighted. I learn she took out a poor crew of about 100 men, with no increased armament.
    The letters of Mr. Kerros to Cadiz, informing me of necessary repairs which would detain her, together with frequent communications from our different consuls that a combination on the part of rebel vessels for the capture of the Kearsarge had been determined upon, all led me to hope that some stand might be made, but this hope was dispelled on our arrival here yesterday."

Hiram Tuttle, US Consul, Montevideo, writes CAPT O S Glisson, USS Mohican "The revolutionary forces of General Flores having now withdrawn from the investment of the city without effecting any result, there is no longer a probability of any emergency arising at the present time, as anticipated in my communication of the 12th instant, wherein the presence of a man-of-war would be required for the better protection and security of American citizens and property at this port.
    Thanking you for the promptness with which you have responded to the request for your presence with the steamer under your command to afford protection in case of need,"

LT Edward Hooker, 1st Division Potomac Flotilla, writes CDR Foxhall A Parker, Potomac Flotilla, "I have information from a source which I deem trustworthy that a body of the enemy are encamped near the head of Urbana Creek, with boats to attack the blockading vessels with. They are about 12 or 15 miles above the reach of the gunboats. My informant had not seen them, but had collected his information by various reports, all of which coincided so nearly as to be considered correct. The number of boats he had not learned. The boats of the Satellite and Reliance are there. The number of men had been variously estimated from 800 to 1,000. He had not learned whether they had artillery. I hope to receive more information soon.
    So large a number of men would seem to indicate something else than an attack upon the gunboats. I have therefore informed General Marston of their presence.
    When last at Point Lookout there seemed to be a strong probability of disturbance there, and this may be something tending that way."

CDR Parker writes SECNAV "Owing to my being detained here by a leak in the boiler, I have been frozen in. I have detailed the Teaser to accompany the army iceboat, should the river become frozen below Hallowing Point."

CDR H K Davenport, SOPA Sounds of North Carolina, writes RADM Samuel P Lee, North Atlantic Blockading Squadron "I find there were several men at the hospital and on board the U. S. S. Seymour belonging to the late U. S. S. Underwriter at the time of her loss.
    The enclosed list comprises the names of those who were at the hospital.
    I will send the names of those on board the Seymour (two or three) as soon as I can get them."

William Wiggins Landsman Peter Gilligan*Ordinary seaman
Michael McGeeney Do James Meck Seaman
John Baines Do John Rankin* Do
James Todd Do John Warner Do
J L Schulte Do James Kelley First Class Fireman
John Sherry Do George D HubbardCoal Heaver
James Ryan* Do C Watford Do
Joseph Smith Ordinary SeamanH Hevener Captain[of gun crew?]
William Murray Do

CAPT S C Rowan, SOPA Charleston writes RADM Jonathan Dahlgren, South Atlantic Blockading Squadron " I dispatch the Paul Jones with information of the loss of the U. S. S. Housatonic, which was sunk by a "David" torpedo last night about 9:30 o'clock.
    As soon as the signal was made from the Canandaigua, "Assistance, in want of," Lieutenant-Commander Belknap went out in a tug.
    I enclose Captain Greens report."

RADM Theodorus Bailey, East Gulf Blockading Squadron writes SECNAV "Judging from the many circumstances that have come to my knowledge that the time is not far distant when an attack will be made upon Mobile, I would esteem it a great favor if the Department would direct Rear-Admiral Farragut to send for me, with such of my squadron as may be available and adapted to that service, in time to participate in the affair. With the San Jacinto, Tioga, Tahoma, and Sagamore I feel confident that good service could be rendered, and I could readily provide for the duties of this squadron during my absence. May I request to be informed of your decision in this matter."

CAPT J B Marchand, USS Lackawanna, writes RADM David Glasgow Farragut, West Gulf Blockading Squadron, from Mobile "Six Confederate deserters were sent on board this ship to-day from the vessels in Mississippi Sound, who came off to them in boats last night. Four of them deserted from the Twenty-first Alabama Regiment, one seaman from the Morgan, and one fireman from the Tuscaloosa.
    The two latter escaped from Mobile on Friday last, 12th instant in a skiff, and slowly found the way down. The soldiers came off in a boat from Cedar Point last night.
    William Ihlo, the seaman, is a Swede, and said that on Friday he had been at work getting camels under the ironclad ram Tennessee, then near Mobile; that she was sheathed with two thicknesses of iron, each 2½ inches in thickness, to the waters edge, below which was wood; that the deck from which the iron roofing commenced was a little over a foot or 18 inches above the waters edge; that the guns, four broadside and one forward and one aft, were on the deck and that they were mounted on ordinary carriages, with lower port sills a foot or 18 inches high. The shape above must, from his description of her appearance above the deck, be like the New Ironsides, with a foot walk on the deck outside of the roofing.
    Her draft was 14 feet, and was told she would make 7 or 8 miles an hour. The rudder was exposed like all propellers, the propeller being between the rudder and sternpost. She has no masts or flag- staff, but hoists her flag from an iron bar projecting from her single smokestack.
    He said that in the early part of January he was employed on a vessel and assisted in placing obstructions in the Main Ship Channel directly west from a point some yards north of Fort Morgan lighthouse across to the shoal water opposite. These obstructions were 24 strings of solid wooden buoys, moored with three or four pieces of railroad iron banded together at 25 feet apart, across the channel, leaving a passage for vessels only close to Fort Morgan. Each string had 8 hard-wood buoys 2 feet long and a foot square, 25 feet apart. Each string being moored by itself had the buoys secured between 3 tarred manila ropes of an inch each in diameter, between which ropes the buoys forming a string were seized. Hence each string of buoys is 200 feet long and trend with the tide. The object of the buoys is not only to break the paddles of side-wheel steamers and being entangled by the blocks catching in the wheels, but that propellers may also catch the ropes, by which all will be detained under the heaviest guns in the fort and a five-gun battery by the light-house, which is designed for using hot shot. Torpedoes have been used, generally made of sheet iron, but from being long in the water have rusted and sunk, or have been washed away. From Ihlo and the soldiers I learned that they have 20 torpedoes on the wharf, made of copper, but they do not intend to plant them until they see our vessels collected to make an attack; then it is thought they will be closely placed in the Main Ship Channel near the fort. The soldiers say that the little steamer Gunnison is prepared to plant the torpedoes.
    The Morgan, Gaines, and Selma are the only other man-of-war steamers that can be used in the lower bay.
    The Tuscaloosa and Huntsville, flat-bottom propellers, can not come down the bay, but lay up at Mobile as floating batteries, each having 4 guns mounted.
    It was said that the crew of the Boston (which was fitting out for a privateer, having a 6-pounder forward and a 12-pounder aft, her only armament) designed running out and selling her, and that Jeff Davis telegraphed to have her seized and her crew conscripted into the army, which was done, and she is lying at Mobile.
    The Morgan, Gaines, and Selma ordinarily have a crew of 75 persons, officers and all, five-sixths of the men being drafted from the army and that for many months they had only men enough to work three guns.
    Pat Murphy has again command of the Selma, but by desertion of three boats crews his vessel has not more than 15 men on board.
    Ihlo, the seaman, said that the Austin ran out ten or twelve days ago, and the Isabella about Christmas.
    The Denbigh is nearly ready to come out cotton laden.
    The other steamers in the bay are the Dick Keys, Magnolia, Natchez, and Virginia Pearl, which communicate between the forts and Mobile. The latter vessel is very old and worthless.
    One schooner is laden with cotton at Mobile ready to run out.
    Terence Conway, Charles Robinson, James McPhillips, and Michael McBurk, the four soldier deserters, were in Mobile on the 12th instant and say that on that and the few preceding days 20,000 rebel soldiers reached there from Dalton, [Ga.] , to protect Mobile from an attack of our army and navy. That a few days previously 5,000 soldiers had been sent to Meridian, 120 miles distant, to retard the advance of General Sherman, who was approaching with an army from Jackson, Miss. That Sherman had captured 7,000 rebels of the troops under Bishop [Leonidas] Polk. They also stated that breastworks extended all around Mobile, at some distance from the city, and that they saw only one part of those breastworks, which was on the Shell Road leading to the S. W., where a few guns were placed. The other portions of the breastworks they did not see, but were informed that they had very few if any guns, none being to spare to place on them.
    One regiment, the Twenty-first Alabama, was stationed from Fort Powell and Cedar Point to the westward along the coast in small detachments. Nine companies compose that regiment, two of which are in Fort Powell and two at Cedar Point. Two 24-pounders are placed in batteries on southwest side of Cedar Point, and from there to the south point of Cedar Point are breastworks for musketry and field- pieces. They think that Fort Powell has an armament of four guns, viz: One 32-pounder rifle, one Dahigren, and two 8-inch guns.
    Fort Morgan has a garrison of about 500 men and Fort Gaines an equal number. The former is provisioned for six months and the latter for three or four.
    The soldiers give a confused account of a hawser with buoys upon it stretched across the Main Ship Channel from Fort Morgan, but I think that Ihlos the seaman's statement of the obstructions is the true one, as he assisted in putting them down.
    I neglected to mention in the narration of Ihlo and the fireman that on their way down the bay they passed the Tennessee on Tuesday night (16th instant), at which time she was below Dog River Bar. Also that the Tennessee had an iron beak, steel-pointed, from her cutwater some distance below the water line. In reference to her size, they separately said she was not much more than half as long as the Lackawanna, and as to beam, not so great, for when the opposite broadside guns were run in they touched each other.
    Herewith I send diagrams of Forts Morgan and Gaines, with the position and caliber of the guns, also a deck plan of the position and contracted quarters at the guns on board the Tennessee. These diagrams were made from verbal descriptions. The caliber of the guns on board the Tennessee were unknown to my informants, but they said that they were smaller than the Lackawanna's 9-inch broadside guns, were cast rough, and some, if not all of them, were rifled."

LT Thomas B Gregory, USN, writes CAPT Robert Townsend, 1st District Mississippi Squadron, " As per my letter of yesterday, you will see that I am unfortunately detained.
    Commodore Palmer required me to report on hoard the flagship this morning at 9: 30 o'clock. He requires me to raise the Hope, which J think I can do; but he told me that he would check the damages against my pay, which, if he does, I will be obliged to ask, with all deference, a court of enquiry, feeling as I do that I would be able to defend myself against any imputation of want of attention on my part. The witnesses in the protest say she (the St. Clair) was apparently swinging round by the force of a strong wind. They unloaded the barge to-day, but they broke one of her beams. I have her here now and some of our lines under the Hope, and will try her as soon as possible."
He adds in postscript "19th.I will be ready by 12 o'clock m. to try my strength on the Hope."

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.

16 JUN 2018 Camp Laurel
Lebanon. CT
30 JUL 2018 Ayer's Farm

Mars Party
6 OCT 2018 Sprague Land Trust
Bolton Rd.
Deep Sky Observing
13 OCT 2018 Sprague Land Trust
Bolton Rd.
Deep Sky Observing
15 OCT 2018 Brown Park
Maritime History of Norwich
27 OCT 2018 Brown Park
Maritime History of Norwich

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