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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
USS Onandaga
Sat Nov 19 1864

Thomas Savage, Vice Consul, Havana, writes SECNAV "The pilot on the Ticonderoga has just been to see me. He wishes me to advise you that Leon Smith, of the rebel Navy, who has been here some days, is going to Liverpool, from which port a steamer of about 800 tons is to sail, and place herself under his command. She will be armed in the British Channel with eight guns - six of them broadside 68-pounder rifles, and two pivots, English, 100-pounders, 7½-inch rifles. Leon Smith says he will do nothing until he is in the Pacific. The pilot will endeavor to find out further information and communicate it to me."

RADM David D Porter, North Atlantic Blockading Squadron, writes CDR D Lynch, USS St. Lawrence "The Chief of Bureau of Ordnance directs that the guns landed at the magazine from the Florida be sent to Washington by the first opportunity." In post script he adds "The guns are one pivot, one broadside, and one howitzer."

LCDR Pend. G Watmough, USS Kansas writes RADM Porter, off New Inlet, NC "I have to report the successful passage over this bar of one of the rebel privateers this morning. The night had been misty, and at daylight a fog had obscured the land. The two bar vessels were seen, and the report made that one appeared to be ashore, and the forts firing at her. This vessel was headed inshore and on nearing them discovered that both were afloat and engaged firing at a vessel that was indistinctly seen through the fog. At first I judged her to be a runner, and at anchor under Fort Fisher, but soon discovered that she was an armed vessel, firing from some three or four guns, the shore batteries also firing in our direction.
    The fog prevented any accurate firing on either part, as only occasionally could the vessel be seen. To this is to be attributed the escape of our vessels, as all were under the guns of the numerous batteries, who kept up a lively random fire. The fog lifting some, we retired a short distance, communicated with Captain Glisson, who had just arrived, and again returned, feeling our way through a dense fog and mist that had again spread over the water. Over the fog we discovered her two pipes and the fact that she had passed the bar and was steaming up the channel. Owing to the fog it is impossible to say if any of our shot took effect. The coast line being unguarded, she undoubtedly came down the shore, covered by the mist, and started in as soon as the weather enabled her to find the landmarks. The reports of the commanding officers of the Wilderness and Clematis may give more information as to her character.
    I will here add that to render the blockade effective several more vessels are required, so as to insure a relief for coaling purposes, accidents, etc. Enclosed I send you Acting Volunteer Lieutenant Dennison's (commanding the Cherokee) report in reference to his nonappearance here the day designated."

LT William E Dennison, USS Cherokee, writes RADM Porter"I have the honor to submit the following report, viz:
    At 6:30 this morning, being on my station S. E. from the Mound and [in] 5 fathoms of water, the weather very hazy, the Clematis bearing N.E., the Wilderness N. E. by N., and the Kansas E. N. E., I saw the Clematis apparently blowing off steam. Thinking she was disabled, I stood for her with my hawsers ready to tow her off clear of the forts. After heading for her a few minutes the haze lifted and I saw a steamer apparently on shore near Fort Fisher. I steamed toward her into 4¾ fathoms water. The Clematis commenced firing, which was returned by steamer inshore, who at that time ran up the rebel flag. I then opened fire, as did the Wilderness, I using my two 20-pounder Parrotts. The effect of my shots I could not ascertain, as the light mist which surrounded the vessel prevented me from seeing them. In a short time after, the Kansas commenced firing, and then Fort Fisher, the Mound, and Flag Pond Battery opened, most of their shots going over us. Wishing to speak the Kansas, I stood toward her, but seeing she was standing out toward a steamer coming in from the northward and eastward and [which] afterwards proved to be the Santiago de Cuba, I stopped and turned inshore. A heavy fog setting in, all firing ceased. At 8 a. m. the Kansas came up, and, the fog lifting, the firing was again resumed on both sides, the enemy's shell exploding all around the ship. In the meantime the rebel steamer had worked off and steamed in by Fort Fisher. At 8:30 a. m. stopped firing, as the enemy was then in the river.
    The above-mentioned steamer was a screw boat, schooner-rigged, two smokestacks, painted a light lead color, and had a very large number of men on board. From the sound of the shots as they passed over our deck I judged her armament to consist of two Whitworths and a heavy rifle amidships. Her men were dressed in dark blue."

LT E D Bruner, USS Clematis writes RADM Porter " I have the honor to report that while upon my station in 6 fathoms water, the Mound bearing W., at 6:15 this morning (November 19), I discovered a strange steamer aground close to Fort Fisher. I steamed for her and when in 4 fathoms water, at 6:25, opened fire upon her with 30-pounder Parrott and 12-pounder howitzer. As soon as the first gun was fired by us the steamer returned the fire; the forts on shore also opened fire upon us. At 7:20 hauled off and at 7:40 rounded to and again opened fire. The steamer succeeded in getting afloat, and steamed for the channel, into which she was successful in getting.
    She had two masts, was schooner-rigged, had two smokestacks, one forward of the other,and was painted a light lead color. From the crowd of people upon her decks I should think she had 250 men on board. The guns fired from her were 100-pounder rifle and Whitworth. I, in conclusion, would say that the morning was foggy."

FO William Hunter, CSN, SOPA Savannah, writes CDR T W Brent, CSN, CSS Savannah "Be pleased to proceed with the Savannah under your command to a safe anchorage near the obstructions off Fort Jackson, with your battery commanding said obstructions. Be vigilant and in readiness to get underway at the shortest notice and to proceed to any point most eligible to support the forts below."

SECNAV writes RADM S K Stribling, East Gulf Blockading Squadron, "I have received your No. 29 in relation to the want of more vessels in the Eastern Gulf Blockading Squadron.
    Contemplated operations within the limits of the North Atlantic Squadron have required an extraordinary force in that quarter and interfered with the reinforcement of other squadrons. Early attention shall be given to your application."

RADM Samuel P Lee, Mississippi Squadron, writes CAPT A M Pennock, Fleet Captain, Mississippi Squadron"My order of the 17th instant, assigning to the commandant of the naval station at Mound City the command of that part of the Ninth District included between Columbus, on the Mississippi, and Mound city, Illinois, is hereby revoked."

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




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