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last update Friday, 15-Nov-2019 11:03:12 PST


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
CSS General Bragg
Sun Jun 04 1865

ENS Charles H Hanson, USS Jonquil, writes RADM Jonathan Dahlgren, South Atlantic Squadron, "In obedience to your order of the 5th of March, I proceeded up Ashley River, accompanied by two boats from the U. S. S. Home, to drag the river for torpedoes and other obstructions that might retard the progress of vessels. On arriving off the mouth of the river, I commenced dragging and soon hooked on to something which the boats could not stir. I then put over the quarters of the Jonquil a heavy 3-inch hemp line, to which was attached a large 50-pound grapnel, and started up the river. I soon hooked on the obstructions, but was unable to stir it. I then took the lines forward and took it to the windlass and hove on it. It came slowly, but owing to the great weight it broke, and on portions of it being brought up proved to be a framework of pine logs, spiked together with heavy iron spikes. Its form, from what I saw of it, was square and about 20 to 30 feet square, having its center filled up with heavy planks and bolted to the logs. On each end of the frame was placed a torpedo, made of iron, and conical, having on their bottom four flanges for bolts and nuts, which were riveted to the logs. The torpedoes were capable of holding from 30 to 40 pounds of powder each, having a percussion fuze, to be ignited by sulphuric acid in a glass vial. This framework was sunk with stones, and at low water was about 2 feet below the surface and about 8 feet at high water. These obstructions were placed in the channel and were very dangerous, and should a vessel attempt to enter the river she must have been destroyed. I continued dragging for the rest of this work, and succeeded in pulling it to pieces. On the following day, the 6th, I proceeded up to the same place and commenced dragging again in the same manner. I had proceeded but a very short distance, when I hooked on to another frame. It was situated about 100 yards farther up the river and a little to the right of the last. I proceeded as before to heave them up, which I succeeded in doing in this manner: I secured three of the torpedoes in dragging; the logs became separated. I hooked on to the log which had the fourth one on, but the log came up with the end, not having the torpedo on. I hoisted it to the bows of the steamer and started for shore. On shoaling the water, the torpedo being down, struck the bottom and exploded directly under and about amidships of the steamer. Its force was so great as to raise the boilers 5 inches from their bed and knocked nine men overboard and completely flooded the vessel. One of the men was standing on the berth deck at the time of the explosion, and its force was so great as to throw him up against the deck and split his head open, and the engineer on watch had his back severely hurt by the concussion. At the time of the explosion, I was in about 10 feet of water, and had it been any shoaler the vessel would have been entirely destroyed. Every movable thing was thrown down, doors shattered, windows all broken, and all light work started. The howitzer forward was upset and three beams were badly sprung. The steam gauge and condenser were broken and nearly all the lighter machinery was disabled. The hull of the vessel, however, I found on examination, was not materially damaged.
    On the following day I started up the river again and commenced dragging again. I found another set similar to the others and situated directly opposite the other. I dragged until I had secured all the torpedoes and torn the logs asunder, thus effectually destroying that set of obstructions. From the positions they were placed the three frames formed a triangle; thus, had a vessel escaped the first set she would very likely have fouled one of the three others. Farther up the river I found a similar set, but found no torpedoes; I dragged it to pieces. I then dragged up the river and on both sides as far as Wappoo Cut, but found nothing of a serious nature. The number of torpedoes I took up on these obstructions was twelve, all iron and alike, fitted with vials of sulphuric acid."

RMGEN J J Reynolds, USA, Department of Kansas writes ADM Samuel P Lee, Mississippi Squadron, "The occupation of points in the southwestern portions of this department has rendered the carrying of troops and supplies by way of Red River important and necessary. I have the honor to request that you will issue such orders to commanding officers of gunboats on Red River as will secure the passage of boats plying under authority from these headquarters without interruption. The recent disbandment of rebel troops has compelled hasty action, and points have already been occupied by troops in this department. A copy of a letter (sent by steamer cleared by my order) to the commanding officer of the Third Division is furnished for your information. Anticipating the action of that officer, I respectfully request that you will approve."

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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