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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 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
USS Foster Howitzers and gun crews. Note the small rear iron wheel.
Mon Mar 30 1863

LT C H Baldwin, USS Vanderbilt, writes SECNAV from Key West "I have the honor to report the arrival of this ship at this port on the 22d instant from Havana, having been ordered here to coal by Rear-Admiral Wilkes and to return to Havana in ten days. We have now our coal, say 1,100 tons, nearly all in, and shall finish scaling and repairing boilers to-morrow, and in obedience to my orders I shall then return to Havana.
    I had last the honor of addressing the Department on the 7th instant from Barbados, duplicates of which I enclose. Since that date Rear Admiral Wilkes has had his flag on board this ship and has no doubt kept the Department informed of her movements. Until the admiral will permit, I can not, of course, carry out the orders I am under from the Department, but can only hope he will have no further service for this ship and will allow me to act in accordance with my instructions after my arrival at Havana.
    It will very shortly be necessary for this ship to go North for the new tubes I have heretofore reported as necessary and requested the Department to order made, and also to have replaced the water fronts in the forward boilers.
    If the tubes (say 1,200) are ready, the ship can go to New York, be put in condition for two years further service, be coaled, provisioned, and ready to sail again within three weeks after her arrival.
    Otherwise than what I have above referred to, the ship throughout is in excellent order, though when she goes North I should recommend that the steam chimneys, which now extend some 2 feet above the spar deck, be cut off by valves close above the boilers. At present I have them covered as well as possible by bags of coal on both main and spar decks. This, in my opinion, is a very important matter, as at present, in spite of protecting by coal bags, an unlucky shot might completely disable our movements, at any rate, for the time being, besides killing many of the crew by steam; at the same time the remedy is in our own hands, and the job would not be very long or expensive. I hope the Department will approve my suggestions.
    I regret to have to report the desertion, while in charge of a boat, of Acting Master's Mate George R. Griswold at Havana. I at once requested our consul to offer a reward for his apprehension and if arrested to have him kept in prison until the return of this ship. As yet I am not aware of his having been found.
    I send by the U. S. transport Fair Haven the 7 prisoners received from, the U. S. S. Alabama, who formerly belonged to the privateer Retribution. The papers relating to their case have already been sent home from St. Thomas by our consul there. Also I send the crew of the British steamer Peterhoff (24 in number), seized by me as a prize, and sent to this port for adjudication, but in the absence of the U. S. district judge ordered by Rear-Admiral Bailey to Boston for that purpose.
    As yet we are without further news of the Alabama or Florida. In a day or two I shall be in a condition to follow them a long distance."

LT Hy. St. C Eytinge, USS Shepherd Knapp writes RADM Charles Wilkes, West India Squadron, "In conformity with orders issued by yourself of date 26th February, I got underway at noon (Saturday) and proceeded to cruise, as commanded, between the appointed parallels.
    I have cruised nearly as far west as Abaco, nearly as far north as Bermuda, and for the last few days to windward of all the islands, hoping to find the rebel ships, but all the steamers we have seen were legitimate ships of foreign flags. I have covered the route of East India and South American traders between the parallels of 18° 30' N. latitude and 27° 30' N. latitude and the space between 60° W. longitude and Abaco.
    The traverse courses I have steered upon the above-described distance were agreeable to your orders, from which I have in no instance deviated. I have entered no port since my departure, and agreeably to your expressed order to return to St. Thomas in thirty days, I have the honor to report my ship with that punctuality which I trust will always characterize."

RADM Samuel P Lee, North Atlantic Blockading Squadron, writes SECNAV "I have received reports, dated the 21st instant, from the commanding officers of the U. S. S. Victoria and schooner William Bacon, detailing the circumstances of the capture of the English steamer Nicolci I, from Nassau, New Providence, on the morning of the 21st instant.
    The schooner was receiving water from the Victoria at Little River, N. C., the weather being thick and rainy, when a large steamer without masts was discovered under the land to the westward in shoal
    water. Both vessels at once got underway and gave chase. In about half an hour the Victoria got within range, and after half a dozen shots the stranger hoisted English colors, rounded to, and was at once boarded by a boats crew from the Victoria. The captain stated that he had thrown overboard all her papers except the register, which was found; he also stated that he attempted to enter Charleston on the night of the 19th, but was driven away. She is said to be loaded with dry goods, arms, ammunition, etc.
    I learn further from reports enclosed to me by Captain Boggs, commanding the Sacramento, under date of March 21, that Acting Master Alfred Everson, of the Victoria, on taking possession of the prize, found the crew excited by liquor and destroying the cargo, and on going below discovered one of the firemen of the Nicolai I in the act of throwing a keg of powder into the furnace. After having been twice ordered to halt Mr. Everson discharged his pistol at him, the shot taking effect in the mans thigh. He was sent to the hospital at Beaufort, and is reported by the surgeon as doing well and only likely to be confined for a short time.
    The Nicolai I left Beaufort, whither she had been sent for coal, on the 26th instant for New York.
    I informed the Department in my No. 340, of the 28th instant, that twenty-six of the original crew of the prize arrived here in the Massachusetts and were sent by me in her to Philadelphia with a letter of advice to the commandant. Two of these were detained here by me for examination. One, Henry Powell, alias Frederick Gardner, says he is from Wilmington and a citizen of New York. He is now held as prisoner on board time Brandywine, and I shall send him to Washington by first opportunity to be locked up. The other, Emanuel Roberts, a negro, who says he is from Nassau, I shall discharge here.
    Enclosed is the crew list of the schooner William Bacon present at time capture. It was enclosed in the report sent to me. I request the Department to give it the proper direction."
In a second letter he writes "The defenses of the inlets into Cape Fear River have been much strengthened since the ironclads were sent to Charleston, as appears from my subsequent reports to the Department. We have later intelligence that the enemy is fortifying below Smithville. This and other works will give a bombing fire on the decks of the ironclads when attacking Fort Caswell. This difficulty, with those arising from shoal water, obstructions, torpedoes, and Ogeechee-like defenses, suggest that Admiral Pu Pont should be instructed to send up for the attack on Wilmington all of the best of the monitor class of ironclads and in the best condition practicable.
    It is to be expected that the ironclads will come out of the Charleston fight in bad condition; that their XV-inch, if not their XI-inch, guns will have to be replaced. Where is this to be done? What time will it take, and what guns and mechanical means are provided for doing this? Engineer officers think that when the masonry of a fort is battered down formidable earthworks will be found inside.
    Captain Case apprehends that the rebel ironclads might make a raid upon Beaufort. It will be prudent, therefore, not to send ammunition to that place until the ironclads are there to protect it. If this ammunition is to be sent in seaworthy steamers they might accompany the ironclads.
    As a means of breaking torpedo wires a number of common log rafts or skeleton rafts might be sent up in advance of the monitors with the flood tide, dragging with light gunners grapnels.
    Advantage might be derived from the services of those acquainted with the method of projecting a line on board of a stranded vessel by means of a bomb and chain and provided with sufficient means for making this method available for each monitor. The monitors could only use this method by slow approach on the ebb tide and exposed meanwhile to a bombing fire."

RADM Lee writes Master J F Winchester, USS Sumpter, "Choose favorable weather and proceed on your way to Port Royal, agreeably to your orders from the Navy Department. You will take in tow the submarine boat Alligator and deliver her to Rear- Admiral Du Pont on your arrival. On your way down you will communicate with one of the blockading vessels off Wilmington an(l deliver the articles and dispatches intrusted to you for that portion of this squadron."

LCDR D L Braine, USS Monticello, writes CAPT Charles S Boggs, SOPA Wilmington, "I have to inform you that this morning we discovered a sail at 5:30 a. m. I immediately slipped and stood for her and at 6:20 brought her to. She proved to be the English schooner Sue, from Nassau, New Providence, claiming to be bound to Beaufort, N. C., Gilbert Erickson, master, and having on board goods contraband of war.
    I have her on my list of suspected vessels. She is an old offender, having run the blockade before. She has kept no reckoning of her run, having left Nassau the 21st instant. Erickson came on board of her just previous to her sailing and knows nothing of her cargo. Following is one of the lists of her cargo, as she cleared at Nassau on the 16th day of March:
    Twenty-five boxes pipes, 14 cases and 5 bales list goods, 4 bales and 1 package leather, 25 boxes soap, 10 boxes tin, 2 half chests tea, 800 sacks salt, 1 box tea, 2 boxes gin, 1 barrel ---.
 & nbsp;  Between the above and her bill of lading a discrepancy is shown of 550 sacks of salt, which I strongly suspect has been landed on the coast, as I learn from the captain that he landed to the southward and westward of us near Georgetown, [S. C.], and communicated with some darkies on shore, and I think it is the weather alone that prevented him from landing it all.
    I find a letter aboard of her to George W. Dill, of Beaufort, N. C., a party who has long been suspected of sympathy with the rebels, and once been imprisoned.
    I send her to the port of New York for adjudication in charge of Acting Master Richard Hustace, with a prize crew of eight men and the captain, mate, and cook of the schooner. At the time of the capture no other vessel was in sight.
    I beg leave to inform you that I have forwarded to the honorable Secretary of the Navy, to Acting Rear-Admiral Lee, and to the U. S. prize commissioner a report, of which this is a copy. The wind being ahead, and blowing ever fresh, it was impracticable to send her to you unless I left my station and towed her, so I directed her to proceed to New York with all dispatch."

CDR A Murray, SOPA Sounds of North Carolina, writes CDR H K Davenport, "I am directed by the acting rear-admiral commanding North Atlantic Blockading Squadron to retransfer the duties of senior officer in the sounds of North Carolina, which I have been performing temporarily and for a special purpose which has been accomplished, to you.
    I leave all the original letters and papers which have governed me for your guide, as well as my own letter book, from which you will become, if you are not already, acquainted with their disposition, condition, etc.
    You will find in the resumption of your duties no difficulty you are not fully able to grapple with. Of this I am assured; consequently I feel only that regret which is natural and proper in parting from those professional companions in arms with whom I have been associated so favorably, and oftentimes so perilously. Roanoke, Elizabeth, and New Berne are not easily forgotten by those who battled there.
& nbsp;   I would esteem it a favor, commodore, if you would permit me to express to you, and through you to the officers and crews of the gunboats within these waters, my warm attachment and lasting friendship"

William Renshaw, former mate of the captured Mercury, writes "This is to certify that I was mate of the yacht Mercury, commanded by Captain Arnold [G.] Harris and owned by Major Reid Sanders. Said yacht was captured by the Yankee blockading squadron on the morning of the 4th of January. The dispatch or mail bag, with heavy weight, was lowered into the water by myself and I saw it until it disappeared into 14 fathoms of water. Major Sanders and myself supposed that all the letters and dispatches were in the bag thus sunk, but to our amazement we afterwards found out that Captain Harris had abstracted from the bag a tin case containing some dispatches which he delivered to the captain of the Quaker City. Captain Harris maneuvered the yacht from the beginning in such a manner as to insure her capture. After the capture Captain Harris was separated from us and was sent north, as we supposed, with his reward. Captain Harris had not the power to take the entire bag or no doubt he would have done so. Major Sanders had not the slightest suspicion of his infidelity, hence his ability to abstract a part of the dispatches, which, besides, he must have done while we were all asleep in the night of the 3d of January. Except for the foul play of Captain Harris in the maneuvering of the yacht there is scarcely a doubt but that we would have successfully run the blockade."

RADM Samuel Du Pont, South Atlantic Blockading Squadron writes Master Devens, USN, "You are hereby detached from the U. S. S. Stettin and ordered to take command of the prize steamer Aries.
    You will proceed with the Aries to Boston and deliver her, the persons retained as witnesses, the cargo, and the papers (which are all that were found on board) to the U. S. prize commissioners, taking their receipt for the same.
    The Aries was captured by the Stettin under your command, and you will communicate the full particulars thereof to the prize commissioners.
    On your arrival at Boston you will report to the commandant of the yard, showing him these orders. You will also, without delay, after reporting to the U. S. prize commissioners, call upon the U. S. district attorney and deliver to him the accompanying communication.
    You will, on your arrival, report to the Department by letter."
Emclosed is the following undated letter
Sir: We, the undersigned, passengers in the ship and Spanish subjects, beg of you, with all attention, to allow us to be sent to Savannah or Charleston under flag of truce, so as to relieve the anxiety of our families and to be able to see them.
    As under word of honor we all can say that none of us has at present, neither had before, anything to do with regard to help in any way the South or North in this unfortunate war, and that under this true promise and conviction we take the liberty to beg of you the mentioned particular favor.
    If you are kind enough to accept our petition, we will take another liberty, as the allowance to take with us and with our baggage some cigars and other trifles that we carry in our rooms for our exclusive use and our families, which things are not in the manifest of the ship. If it is not in your power the allowance we beg to be sent under flag of truce, then we beg to be transshipped to the next mail boat to North, as here now is very uncomfortable to leave.
    Trusting that you will attend our just petitions, and assuring you that will ever find out anything contrary to our statement to regret, we send you anticipated thanks and obligations.
    We are, sir, your most obedient servants, etc.,.

CDR J M Duncan, SOPA St John's River, writes RADM Du Pont, "I have the honor to report that on Sunday, the 29th, the troops evacuated the city of Jacksonville. Before leaving they destroyed the greater part of the city, including two of the churches, the Catholic and Episcopal, also warehouses, etc. We arrived here on the evening of the same day, and the transports have been detained here on account of the weather, which has been such as to prevent them from going out; they will leave as soon as the weather will permit.
    The Paul Jones arrived on the 12th to allow me to go to Fernandina for coal, but as I learned that there was not sufficient there for me I took from the Paul Jones 30 tons of coal, of which I let the army transport John Adams have 8 tons.
    By order of Captain Steedman the John Adams went to Fernandina and got 38 tons of navy coal. On her return she let the Uncas have 12 tons, leaving a balance of 34 tons due the navy from the army. We have on board of this vessel about 25 tons of coal on hand. I shall keep both vessels at the mouth of the river for the future."

CMDR Thomas Turner, SOPA Charleston, writes CDR Thomas Patterson, USS James Adger, "You will be pleased to take in tow the schooner Nellie, proceed to Port Royal, and report yourself with immediate dispatch to Admiral Du Pont."

SECNAV writes RADM Du Pont, "The Department has the pleasure of transmitting herewith a copy of a letter from the Secretary of State, dated the 26th instant, covering a copy of a note, with its accompaniment, addressed to him by Lord Lyons, conveying the thanks of the captain of the British ship Ossian for the prompt assistance afforded by yourself and others to that vessel on a recent occasion."

CDR Fairfax, USS Nantucket, writes SECNAV "I herewith enclose a letter from Commodore W. D. Porter, which I request may be put on file with the proceedings of a court of enquiry held at New Orleans upon my conduct on the 6th of August last. Were I to accept such a letter, it might be viewed as a tacit acknowledgment that there was ground for Commodore Porters entertaining impressions prejudicial to me as the commanding officer of the Cayuga. He certainly seems to have seen things quite differently from the many who have testified before my court. He, however, regrets that I did not explain to him what he was pleased to interpret to my disadvantage, as it would have removed from his mind entirely everything inimical to me. I could not make explanations of a maneuver of my vessel while unconscious of any failure to perform my duty. Commodore Porter had ample time and opportunity to demand one of me at the time the affair was fresh on his mind. In the February number of Harper an article headed the Essex cruise in the Mississippi, reflects upon the Cayuga, then under my command. That I may the more readily contradict such statements, I would respectfully ask to be furnished with a copy of the decision of the Navy Department in the court of enquiry in my case."

MGEN Hurlbut, USA writes MGEN U S Grant, USA "I enclose last telegram from Dodge.....""

RADM David Glasgow Farragut, West Gulf Blockading Squadron, writes RADM Porter, "I have to acknowledge the arrival of a barge load of provisions, for which I am greatly obliged to you.
    They fired, according to the statement of the officers of the Albatross, some fifteen shot, but only touched her once, and then did her no damage, as the shot passed through one corner. I now have all my provisions on board, but the weather has been so cold and disagreeable, to say nothing of its blowing a gale of wind I have not cared to drop down.
    It appears that the old Vicksburg broke adrift from her moorings at the city, and she came down upon us at 1 o'clock in the morning. We thought that the enemy were upon us, but-soon discovered her to be a harmless hulk, as she went down a little below us, at which I was much gratified, as it enables me to show the officers and men of this ship the difference between the effects of ramming and the accounts of the same. We were told that the Queen of the West ran into and sank the Vicksburg; the fact is the boat was scarcely injured, and the ram barely broke the outer rim of her guard; nor do I believe that the Indianola was seriously injured, or else why would our people have cut the pipes to sink her? I shall, however, make it my business to carefully examine these points, as I find that it is by such stories as these that our people are demoralized. I may take the Vicksburg down with me, although I am afraid that she will prove an elephant and be a source of more trouble than profit to me, in which case, however, I can always burn her. She had nothing in her save some four or five muskets and the bedding of the guard; all the machinery and everything belonging to her has been removed.
    I most sincerely hope that you will succeed in your contemplated enterprise down the Macon. I shall watch for you with intense interest, but do not come out in the night, because it will be out of my power to distinguish friend from foe; in the daytime, however, your flag will suffice to designate your nationality. If your transports get through to Red River, it seems to me that by landing 20,000 men at Bayou Sara, and General Banks moving up from Baton Rouge upon Port Hudson, that place must fall.
    I am in hopes that the Switzerland will be down to-night, as I do not like to leave before I see her down, for fear that some additional accident may happen to her."

Master's Mate Henry Weston Jr., USS Diana writes LCDR A P Cooke, SOPA Berwick Bay, " With mortification I have to announce to you the capture of the Diana. The action lasted for two hours and three-quarters, when we got on shore; we were cut up terribly. Captain Peterson was killed in the early part of the action. Mr. Dolliver was killed, Mr. Hall wounded and, I fear, mortally. We all did our utmost to get off the bank, but were unable to do so. Finding that to be the case, and being under a very heavy fire without being able to return it, the surviving officers, Lieutenant Allen, R. W. Mars, chief engineer, and myself, deemed it the best and only thing to do was to surrender, which we accordingly did, to Lieutenant-Colonel Edward Waller, Texas volunteers.
    Our killed and those mortally wounded amounted to some 15 or 16."

CMDR H H Bell, SOPA Galveston, writes RADM Farragut, "In my letter of the 27th by the Honduras I informed you that the bark Arthur had run foul of a schooner and damaged herself materially and was on her way here for repairs. She arrived on the 28th, and after an examination of her I find it necessary to send her to Pensacola to undergo repairs. Her cutwater is torn off as low as the water line and below that for several feet shivered into splinters. There is but little wood left for the bobstay plates, and the bowsprit is very insecure in consequence; cathead broken off and the bolts for bowsprit shrouds and jib guys gone. She must have another galley before she comes to sea again.
    I should be glad to have the Anderson or Kittatinny in her place, as the ports to the southward are left open by this mishap. I am taking out her provisions, which will supply me for ten days, and shall send the Owasco to look out there for a few days, although the coal can be but illy spared for so long a run, there and back.
    I forwarded by the Honduras requisitions for provisions and coal for the Brooklyn and five gunboats. I trust they are on their way. A screw steamer, called Melville, belonging to General Goicouria, has arrived at the Rio Grande from New Orleans, having a stern-wheel steamer (drawing 3 feet water) in tow to run the Rio Grande. It is useless to say every steamer on that river will be taken by the Texans whenever they wish to use them and for whatever purpose."

RADM David D Porter, Mississippi Squadron, writes SECNAV "I have received urgent applications from Admiral Farragut to send him two ironclads for the purpose of blockading Red River when he leaves that place.
    The time was when two ironclads (or the two vessels I did send there) would have sufficed to blockade Red River effectually, but the fact of the Queen of the West being on the other side instead of on ours, makes it necessary to send a more effective force than the one asked for. I am anxious to consult the public interest, and could I have done so with safety, would have sent a force below long since. In my judgment, the Lancaster and Switzerland were not in a condition to go, and I was right in my opinion, for a single shot striking the hull of the Lancaster cut her right in two. She was not fit for a coal barge even, so old and rotten was she. The other got through more by good luck than good management. I have other vessels here, it is true, but when they go below they will not be able to get up again. There are three points on the Mississippi River between this and Red River which none of our Pook steamers can pass on account of current.
    I must keep something ready for important operations here, and, taking everything into consideration, my judgment tells me that the admiral should stay at Red River as long as his vessels will float. I have supplied him with provisions and coal, and can continue to do so. He could not be of such service anywhere as where he is now, and even if he goes himself he should not withdraw his vessels, which are the only means of starving out Port Hudson. I can not, of course, make these suggestions to Admiral Farragut, but if the Department thinks with me they might express such wishes; the admiral would be satisfied, I am sure, to carry out the programme.
    No one knows except those here the importance of stopping up Red River and commanding the west bank of the Mississippi. The loss of a few vessels on our side is nothing compared to the injury we inflict on the whole Southern Confederacy.
    General Grant will soon want gunboats on the other side of Vicksburg, if he thinks of occupying Grand Gulf which he talks of. In that case Admiral Farragut will be released, for I should find it necessary (to support General Grant) to run the whole fleet below, with eight months provisions and coal."

LCOL John A Ellet, US ram Switzerland. writes BGEN Alfred W Ellet, Mississippi Marine Brigade, "We got steam up late yesterday evening and moved the boat inside the crevasse. Everything worked like a charm. We are now busily engaged in putting on the cotton and getting the coal changed. The work will be fully completed by 8 o'clock this p. m., and we will then await the most favorable part of the night for a start.
    The empty barge leaked considerably when we came to put the coal into it; for that reason I did not have the men work after 12 o'clock, hoping that it would swell by morning; and besides we have plenty of time to get everything done before night.
    I send you two newspaper paragraphs; you will find them interesting and insulting. You can expect nothing from a hog but a grunt.
    Good-bye; don't forget to write to father."
He adds in post script "If any one comes down here from the fleet to-day send some matches, salt, pepper, postage stamps, and Washington medallion pens."

RADM Porter writes SECNAV "Your communication in relation to the fleet surgeon accompanying the flagship has been received and will be conformed to.
    Surgeon Pinkney owing to the shortness of assistant surgeons, has been temporarily employed on board the hospital ship, where he has been of great service in organizing his department. His presence has been absolutely necessary there, many cases occurring where his great experience as a surgeon enabled him to save life in more than one instance. The hospital ship always accompanies the flagship, and the fleet surgeon has always been within a moments call. If the Department feels any uneasiness about the little peculiarities of the fleet surgeon, they need do so no longer, for a more zealous, devoted officer to the profession, and to the country, does not exist anywhere."
In a second letter he writes "I have the honor to inform you that I have this day sent up to Cairo 179 bales of cotton, marked C. S. A., captured by the expedition up Deer Creek." In a third letter he writes " I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your communication of March 21 in relation to the New National, and shall carry out the orders but I beg leave to explain to the Department that the New National was indicted on two counts for violating the revenue law and for being employed in the Confederate service, and being a regular prize to the vessel belonging to the Navy.
    To have this vessel returned to them so easily would more than meet the most sanguine expectations of the claimants, and would also be a precedent for the delivery up of every vessel the Navy has captured during this war.
    I request that the Department will permit me to take further steps in this matter before delivering up the New National. She has been fitted up at great expense as a store vessel or gunboat, and is one of the best vessels on the river.
    The public interests would suffer by surrendering her so suddenly.
    If the Department will permit me to delay this matter for a short time I think the case will take a different turn."

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