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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
An unidentified Monitor
Thu Feb 23 1865

SECNAV writes CDR John J Almy, USS Juniata at Port Royal, SC "Fill up the Juniata with stores and proceed with her, with all practicable dispatch, to the coast of Brazil, which is to be her station until further orders.
    Your cruising grounds will embrace the whole coast of Brazil, Fernando de Noronha, and other islands adjacent thereto, and will extend as far south as Buenos Ayres. It is not desired that you should go beyond these limits unless in pursuit of piratical vessels that may be in reach, or for some extraordinary emergency.
    Your object will be the protection of the interests of American citizens and of your country generally within the limits of your cruising grounds, and especially the guarding of American merchant vessels against depredations of piratical or rebel cruisers. Be careful at all times, while maintaining the rights of your own country, to scrupulously regard the rights of other countries and guard against violating international law or infringing upon the territorial jurisdiction of any power.
    The recent affair at Bahia between one of our cruisers and the rebel steamer Florida renders it important that you should exert yourself without compromising the dignity of the flag under which you are serving, to cultivate the friendship of Brazil and eradicate any unpleasant recollection which the people of that country may have in connection with that circumstance.
    While the authority of any of our representatives abroad to order a vessel of war is not admitted, and seldom ventured, due respect to such high functionaries and the official position they occupy requires that the commanders of such vessels should listen to their suggestions and cooperate with them in all proper measures tending to the welfare and advancement of our country.
    I transmit to you by mail copies of general orders and circulars issued by the Department, and call your particular attention to the circular letter of August 18, 1862, for the guidance of the commanders of United States cruisers in certain matters.
    Keep the Department advised of your movements and proceedings.
    Mails for the Juniata will be sent to Bahia unless on reaching your station you should find it better for them to be sent to some other port and so advise the Department."

Master D H Sumner, formerly of the USS Kearsarge, writes POTUS, "For nearly a year the Kearsarge alone watched three rebel cruisers in the [English] Channel, and notwithstanding the enemies of the country gave them every support, such was the watch kept that not one of them could inflict any piracies. She relieved three or four hundred American vessels, who took shelter for fear of the pirates, and although taunted everywhere by remarks that the Alabama would soon use her up, yet quietly awaited. The Alabama at length came, and she was sunk by her. The effect in Europe was astounding, and the country rose in the estimation and fear of every enemy. The rebel Government, however, rewarded their officers and men - promoted their captain to admiral, promoted the second officer to commander, with advancement to others and double pay to the men. Well, what has our Government done for the victors ? Advanced the captain a few numbers, calling him commodore; advanced the second officer a few numbers, with nothing given to the other men and officers; and now the amount due them as prize money, according to the law of the land ever since we had a navy, is not appropriated. Had the crew been on blockade duty and filled their pockets, as those have done with no fighting, some excuse might be alleged; but they have never had a cent. Sailors have no friends; politicians get for relatives for doing nothing all the rewards, but those who serve the country faithfully go to the wall. Truly this may be called for the Government a small-potato business."

Horatio J Perry, Chargê d' Affairs, Paris, writes CMDR Thomas T Craven, USS Niagra, "The press of business in this legation has prevented me from addressing you in writing till to-day. You will have received various telegrams, however, and I have to acknowledge the receipt of several from you.
    It is proper to-day for me to give you some information of what has been done in the matter of the steam ram Stonewall, now under your supervision at Ferrol, and as there is certainly a moment of quiet, if not a definitive legal detention of that ship, I hasten to trace briefly the history of the case and its present condition.
    I was informed on the evening of the 3d instant of the arrival of the rebel ship at Coruña.
    Before daylight on the 4th, telegrams were sent to London, Paris, Ferrol, Coruña, Lisbon, Cadiz, and Gibraltar, one of which I suppose was the means of your getting notice, and another sent off the Sacramento from Cadiz.
    On the 4th I saw the Spanish ministers and claimed that no repairs should be allowed to the corsair; a formal note was also addressed to the Spanish Government to the same effect. The consuls, had been ordered to protest before the local authorities at Coruña and Ferrol, and this delayed the repairs till the resolution of the Government should be taken.
    After this first action you will find the history of the case in press copy of my dispatch No. 164, of February 8, addressed to Mr. Seward at Washington.
    That situation continued until the evening of the 9th February, when the Spanish Government, under the influence of the counsel they had taken from the representatives of France and England, and in fear of the very powerful opposition of the O'Donnellite party in the chambers which party had published the royal decree of June, 1861, and made a precedent under it in the ease of the Sumter at Cadiz in January, 1862 fell back from their verbal arrangement with me not to allow any repairs, and ordered such repairs to be allowed as were indispensable for the security of the crew of the Stonewall at sea, and that ship to be then ordered to immediately leave the port.
    My dispatches Nos. 165 and 166 to Mr. Seward would give you the details of all this, but the only unregistered copies I have are now in the hands of Mr. Bigelow, at Paris, for his information.
    I enclose, however, a copy of my protest delivered to the Spanish Government on the evening of the 9th instant, which again had the effect to bring them up and limited the repairs which they had decided to permit to so insignificant an account, in point of fact, compared with what the ram really needed to be done, that I trust what was done will prove to be useless.
    I send also copy of the official letter I wrote on the 8th instant to Mr. Bigelow at Paris in order to strengthen his hands with Mr. Drouyn de Lhuys and see if that Government would not aid us to stop the Stonewall.
    Meantime all this had had the effect to gain time, and the Stonewall was not able to commence her limited repairs till after your welcome arrival at Coruña.
    I had been greatly chagrined and disappointed at the failure of the Sacramento to appear where she was needed, but your own most opportune arrival secured, in fact, the practical success of this little diplomatic campaign, and effectually stopped the career of the most formidable pirate the rebels have been able to hoist their flag over outside their own military lines.
    It will be interesting for you to know the course of events here and in Paris.
    The enclosed letter from Mr. Bigelow of even date with mine to him will show how little dependence can be placed in that Government to do anything in our favor until they are obliged to.
    My dispatch (No. 168) of 20th instant will tell you the rest of the story, and show you the precise situation of the Stonewall at present in a legal and diplomatic point of view.
    You will know her condition in point of material impediments to her departure much better than I, and I beg you to let me have your opinion as to her capability of going to sea in her present condition, and whether the means at your command are sufficient to control her.
    You will, of course, know what to [do] about the twenty-four-hour rule without any advice from me. I have only to say that if that rule should be infringed I will undertake to fight out the diplomatic battle which would ensue in such a way that the service of the United States shall not be prejudiced.
    You will notice in my No. 164 to Mr. Seward that I have been officially informed by the Spanish Government that Spain has not power enough at Ferrol to detain the ironclad if she chooses to go. What right has Spain, then, to pretend to detain you for twenty-four hours after the departure of the Stonewall if she has not, according to her own confession, power enough to detain the Stonewall for twenty-four hours after the departure of your wooden ships?
    If she can not give you the security that your poor little wooden ships will not be followed and devoured by this iron monster as soon as you leave port, how can she pretend that the monster shall not be followed by you in case you should take a fancy to bite his heels, even at the risk of your own total destruction? This is a point loose in the network of their diplomacy which I do not propose to mention till it is needed, but which you have a right to know for your own use in the way which may seem most proper to yourself.
    I have to say also that the Government at Washington must have received my telegram, copy of which goes enclosed, on or before the 15th instant. I have advice from our consul at Queenstown that it arrived in time to be put aboard the Asia the same day, and that he had ordered it to be telegraphed on from Halifax by the consul at that port. It is very probable, therefore, that you may see your squadron promptly reenforced by ships sent out from America.
    Pray do me the favor to return the press copies of documents which accompany this, after perusal."

CMDR William Radford, James River Flotilla, writes RADM David D Porter, North Atlantic Blockading Squadron, "In obedience to your orders I have sent the Hunchback to the sounds, directing the commanding officer to fill up at Norfolk with solid shot as required. I also caused to be placed on board of her before leaving three torpedoes, suitable for the uses to which they will probably be subjected.
    In obedience to an order from the honorable Secretary of the Navy, I sent the Ironsides to Norfolk for repairs nearly a week since, and have been using the Dumbarton from that time, she being the most suitable and convenient vessel for that purpose.
    In an interview I had with General Grant yesterday he informed me that he had received information from Richmond which indicated that the rebels propose making a grand attack on his intrenchments; at the same time the rebel navy (consisting of three vessels of the Atlanta class ready for action, and one of the monitor class that will be ready in a few days) will attack us, and if successful will get possession of the rivers, etc. I am in readiness, and have no fears of their success against us."

RADM S K Stribling, East Gulf Blockading Squadron, writes SECNAV "I have the honor to inform you that an expedition from the bark Midnight left the vessel on the 1st instant to destroy salt work on West Bay, and returned to the vessel on the 4th instant, having destroyed salt works of 13,615 gallons of boiling power, besides 70 bushels of salt and 125 pounds of Epsom salt."

MGEN H W Halleck, USA, Chief Of Staff, Washingron, telegrams MGEN E R AS Canby, USA, "General Grant has information which induces him to believe that the French rebel rams are to be directed against Mobile Harbor, and that orders have been sent from Richmond to Mobile to hold that place in anticipation of the arrival of these vessels. Notice should be given to the admiral, and measures taken accordingly."

RADM Samuel P Lee, Mississippi Squadron, writes LT William G Saltonstall, USS Black Hawk, "You are hereby detached from the command of the U. S. flagship Black Hawk and will proceed without delay to Cincinnati, Ohio, and assume command of the U. S. S. Tempest, proceeding with her to this place upon her completion and acceptance.
    Enclosed are articles from my instructions of January 4, 1865, to Lieutenant-Commander James A. Greer.
    On your arrival at Cincinnati ascertain and report to me when each of the vessels now there probably will be ready for service, and urge the contractors to hurry their completion.
    You will take charge whilst there of the duty assigned Acting Ensign Litherbury and send down each vessel as soon as it is inspected and reported by the fleet engineer and acting naval constructor as completed according to contract.
    Do not receive any of these vessels until this is done, and officers ordered to them must not occupy them until then."

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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