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last update Saturday, 17-Jul-2021 07:20:53 PDT


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 160 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
Pivot gun crew aboard the USS Mendota
Sat May 21 1864

CAPT Jonathan A Winslow, USS Kearsarge writes SECNAV "I have the honor to inform the Department that the Rappahannock has been reported ready for the last week for immediate departure. She has on board a crew of ninety or more men, a portion of them having been drafted from the Georgia.
    I learn that an application was made to the French Government for their release on the 17th instant, the application affirming that if they were not to be released the officers and men would leave the vessel and go to some other point, from which they could operate for the benefit of their country.
    The hope of an affirmative answer had been the reason of their making every preparation for sailing.
    Yesterday the rebels flaunted a large quantity of bunting in secession flags from their mastheads; whether it was owing to the report that the Florida had captured one or two of our gunboats or in honor of what is stated as "Lee's victories" I am unable to state."

Master William Tell Street, USS Fuchsia, writes CDR Foxhall A Parker, Potomac Flotilla, "Having received orders from Captain Hooker to proceed to St. Inigoes for stores, but having [fallen] in with Currituck off Carter's wharf, convoying the steamers Lizzie Baker and Keyport, with barge in tow, and she having stores on board for the Yankee, and verbal orders to convoy the above until she fell in with a steamer bound down, and for her to convoy to Fredericksburg, I therefore deemed it proper to return to Fredericksburg with them.
    I left the barricade this morning at 7 o'clock (6 miles below Fredericksburg), passed down the river 100 miles without molestation, but have every reason to believe that I shall meet with the enemy on my way up to-morrow, as they are now acquainted with our movements. I do not apprehend any trouble except from riflemen at present, but in a day or two they may have fieldpieces to dispute our passage. The enemy have their scouts on the right bank of the river to within 6 miles of Fredericksburg. I shall be out of coal in two days, but may get a supply from the transports. My engineer is very much in need of valves for his pumps. I am now lying off Fort Lowry; will start at daylight in the morning; expect to be at Fredericksburg by 6.
    Hoping that my movements may meet with your approbation..."

CDR Parker writes SECNAV "I have the honor to forward herewith a copy of a report of Lieutenant-Commander Eastman in relation to the construction of the torpedoes lately removed from the Rappahannock River and the manner of using them as demonstrated by the explosion of one of them in the St. Mary's River on the 18th instant by my order." In a second letter Parker writes "I have to report to the Department that on the night of the 19th instant 12 rebels, headed by a man named Goldsmith, landed in a small boat at Blakistone Island, and destroyed the lens and lamp and carried off 15 gallons of oil belonging to the light-house at that point, without doing further injury.
    I have requested Colonel Draper, commanding at Point Lookout, to station a guard at Blakistone Island, at Piney Point, and on board the light-ship off Smith's Point, during the time that the vessels of the Potomac Flotilla are required for the protection of the army transports at Aquia Creek, Belle Plain, and in the Rappahannock, and for the convoying of vessels carrying prisoners of war to Fort Delaware and Point Lookout. And I am of the opinion that while there are so many rebel sympathizers in Maryland and on the eastern shore of Virginia none of the light-houses there located are safe without a guard on shore to protect them."

LT Thomas J Woodward, USS Atlanta, writes RADM Samuel P Lee, North Atlantic Blockading Squadron "I have the honor to report that a squadron of rebel cavalry made an attack on the outer works and drove in the pickets in front of the intrenchments at this post at 11:45 a. m. to-day. As soon as I ascertained the nature of the attack, I immediately made signals for the U. S. S. Dawn to come up from the lower station and awaited the signal from on shore to open fire. Soon as the Dawn arrived up, I sent her to take a position above the fort to operate on the right flank, the Atlanta being already in a position to protect the left. The signal for assistance from the gunboats was made at 12:30 p. m., when I immediately communicated it to the Dawn, and both vessels opened fire, shelling on the right and left. The firing was very satisfactory. I fired two rounds from each of the pivot guns and two from one of the broadside guns. The Dawn fired about ten rounds, when the signal was made to cease firing, the enemy having disappeared, and up to the present time of writing (midnight) all has remained quiet. The commandant of the post reports 3 men missing. The Dawn is still above the fort, for fear an attack should be made during the night."

RADM Jonathan Dahlgren, South Atlantic Blockading Squadron writes ENS E J Dichman, USS Philadelphia, from Wassaw Sound "You will take quarters either on the Patapsco or Wissahickon for the purpose of experimenting with torpedoes at this place.
    When you have satisfied yourself in regard to their operation, you will join this vessel at your earliest convenience.
    Lieutenant-Commander Madigan will furnish you the necessary means to prosecute this work."

LT W Budd, USS Somerset writes RADM Theodorus Bailey, East Gulf Blockading Squadron "I send down by the U. S. S. Honduras, as prisoners, Thomas McLean, citizen of Apalachicola; Anthony Murray, citizen of Apalachicola; James Anderson, citizen of Apalachicola.
    These men were engaged in active cooperation with the enemy when captured. McLean enacted the role of a scout or spy. Mistaking our troops for those of the enemy, he gave them information respecting my force and position in front of the town on the morning of the 13th instant. Murray and Anderson were acting as scouts for Gift, keeping open his communications, and supplying him with provisions when he was absent from the main body of his command. When taken they were carrying soldiers from the islands back to the main.
    Heretofore all of them have enjoyed immunity from us as citizens. Their local knowledge makes them dangerous to us and very useful to the enemy. For the latter they act as scouts, spies, and pilots, and in this case they were caught in the act. They pretend to have been forced into Gifts service, but I know them well and earnestly request that they will not be permitted to return to Apalachicola.
    List of prisoners captured.
    Andrew McCormick, sergeant, Company F, Bonaud's battalion.
    Napoleon Terry, private, Company F, Bonaud's battalion.
    Louis Gay, private, Company F, Bonaud's battalion.
    Joseph Sire. captain afterguard, C. S. S. Chattahoochee.
    The last-named of the above evidently intended to desert, and lingered behind for us to capture him.
    The boats (having first appraised them) and medical stores I have turned over to the officer in command of the United States troops on St. Vincents, and have taken his receipt for the same. The balance of the captured articles have been put into the different departments of this ship for use and issue.
    I enclose diary of Passed Midshipman S. P. Blanc, C. S. Navy (who was second in command), and other papers. "

SECNAV writes RADM Bailey "Your No. 138, in reference to the want of vessels for coal hulks, has been received.
    There are no old vessels that can be sent to you for that purpose. You are authorized to purchase prize vessels that may be suitable at Key West, or, if you think it more economical and more to the interest of the Government, you can purchase at Havana for gold, as you suggest. If they can be obtained at Key West it is perhaps more advisable to do so, as the Department has refrained so far from resorting to a foreign port for the purchase of vessels of any description for the naval service."

RADM Bailey writes LCDR McDougal, USS Hendrick Hudson, "So soon as the Hendrick Hudson is ready for sea, you will proceed with that vessel under your command to the West Pass and East Pass, St. George's Sound, and inform yourself as to the truth or falsity of the report in the rebel papers of the capture of the Somerset. Should that vessel have been captured you will proceed to St. Mark's and communicate with the U. S. S. Tahoma, and with the Tahoma and Fort Henry you will endeavor to effect a recapture of the Somerset. The expedition will, in case of the cooperation of the Tahoma, be under the command of Lieutenant-Commander Harmony."

Master Charles Potter, USS Rachel Seaman, writes SECNAV from Brooklyn Navy Yard "I have the honor to report to the Department my arrival at this station, having performed the voyage agreeably to your orders of March 16, calling first at Brazos Santiago, April 8, then northward, stopping at all the passes and inlets on the coast, ending at Sabine Pass, and then to New Orleans, where I reported to Commodore Palmer on the 16th, and received orders on the 25th to proceed to Mobile and Pensacola; a copy of which I herewith enclose.
    Sailed from Pensacola April 29 and stopped into Key West to avoid a heavy gale from the northward. Reported to Acting Rear-Admiral Bailey, who gave me orders to receive on board the battery of the late U. S. bark Amanda and a quantity of cotton captured in the sloop Oscar, a copy of which orders I herewith enclose.
    I also enclose a list of the vessels supplied by this vessel, and a list of the officers now attached to this vessel.
    Hoping the voyage has been performed in a manner to meet the approval of the Department, I have the honor to be,..."

LCDR Watson Smith, USS Chillicothe, writes RADM David D Porter, Mississippi Squadron, " There was a dense fog and smoke over the river and its banks last night, and before it cleared in the morning General A. J. Smith had left with his troops. He must have gone at about 4.30 a. m., as the reveille was heard at 4 o'clock.
    I was quite surprised when the fog had cleared at the absence of the troops, as the general had promised to let me know of any change in the order of moving.
    As I passed Old River there were no transports in the place where General Smith said he would embark his troops, nor any in sight. The rear of his army was just turning down the shore of Old River. The pilots decided that there would be difficulty in passing out through Old River with the gunboats, and it being probable that the transports had gone out by the way we came in, I decided on taking the same direction.
    I have not seen or heard of the slightest attempt on the part of the enemy to arrest the departure of the troops or transports, though they were near as General Smith crossed the Atchafalaya."

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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