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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
RADM William Radford
Fri Oct 03 1862

LCDR Phelps, US Coast Survey ship Corwin writes to SECNAV of the alleged depredations by his crew of Doctor Stewart's house that the building was abandoned by the family. He waited two days before seeing signs of life, when a rocket was shot off and he sent an armed boat in to discover what was was going on. "On the landing of the party they discovered two or three negroes, and as they approached the door, which was open, were met by a mulatto woman, who invited them in and informed the officers that the house was owned by Dr. Robert Stewart, and at the commencement of the war the family had moved with nearly all of their effects to the hall, situated about 1 mile inland, and that she was left in charge as housekeeper. After cautioning the party not to molest anything the officer proceeded to examine the rooms, finding only a few pieces of furniture and a few miscellaneous articles of little or no value. In the library he discovered a lot of blue lights and signal fires, an old spyglass, and a parcel of old ragged novels, reports, and periodicals scattered over the floor, and in the cellar, the door of which was open, about one dozen sacks of wheat ready for transportation, firearms, three kegs of nails, and a barrel of oil apparently, by its marks, recently received from Baltimore. In a short time the party returned to the boat, when the housekeeper appeared with a picture, which she claimed to have the right to dispose of, and asked $2.50 for it. The officer offered her that amount in United States currency, which she refused and accepted a $5 Confederate note which the officer had obtained as a curiosity at West Point, Va. Immediately after this transaction Mrs. Stewart rode up in an excited state, dismounted, seized the picture, reprimanded the woman for daring to sell the Yankees anything, and informed the purchaser that he should not have it at any price, and for several minutes refused to return the note. The officer next enquired if she would not sell him a few chickens and eggs, when she commenced a violent tirade against the United States and the Yankees, and stated that if she was overflowing with provisions and a Yankee ship was starving she would not sell them a dollars worth; that she and her husband were secessionists and she gloried in it, and Dr. Stewart was the most violent secessionist in the State and she thanked God for it, and if they sold the Yankees a cents worth they would consider themselves disloyal to the South. The boat shoved off and returned on board, when it was discovered that one of the party had brought off the spyglass and a few ragged novels. I immediately had an examination made and the articles returned to the place from whence they had been taken." No other depredations were made, no locks broken, no sheets or pillowcases, nothing. He has learned since then that the house is used as a regular headquarters for smugglers.

SECNAV writes to CAPT Hardwood, that the Army will supply men to the gunboats to help capture smugglers. The Treasury Department will require the oath of allegiance to all ship masters and owners. Also there will be attention placed on the shipping of goods from Baltimore to Chaptico for the purpose of smuggling. Also all contrabandists are to be detained.

Master Smith, USS Arletta, write to CMDR Harwood, that longboats are everyday loading and and the captain of them wanted a pass to Maryland. He has never given any pass out, and he will check to see if the customs house has.

MGEN Dix, USA, 7th Corps, writes RADM Samuel P Lee, North Atlantic Blockading Squadron "I very much regret that the last steamer sent with flag of truce to Aikens Landing should have passed you without reporting. It was sent off in great haste, on a direction from the Secretary of War, with an officer who had never before been on that service. I have taken such measures as I trust will effectually prevent any such failure to report hereafter."

SECNAV writes to RADM Lee that he is to remove all cargo from chartered ships and discharge them as soon as possible. "... that the Department may be relieved from the exorbitant rates now being incurred for charter money."

RADM Lee writes MGEN Dix, that he has ordered his ships to go up the Nansemond as far as the Western Branch to prevent the enemy from crossing and to intercept their mail and to assist General Peck.

CDR Steedman, SOPA, St John's, writes RADM Samuel Du Pont, South Atlantic Blockading Squadron that General Brannan has arrived with 400 troops and have been landed on the mainland. "On the afternoon of the day of the arrival of the transports, Commander Woodhull, with the Cimarron, Water Witch, and Uncas, proceeded up the river to feel the batteries at St. Johns Bluff, the enemy having been busily engaged several days on some work in and around the old battery. When he got within range he opened on the enemy, who promptly responded with their three heavy guns, with great accuracy as to the range. The fire from the gunboats was as rapid and well directed as could be desired." After making their reconnaissance, he ordered the recall signal. He need 100 pounder Parrot rifle shell and coal.

CDR Woodhull writes CDR Steedman of the attack on St John's Bluff "The result of my observations was such as led me to believe that there are four or five heavy guns mounted at that place, besides either one or two rifled pieces, and that since the last engagement with the flotilla under your command one (if not more) battery has been erected below the principal battery on the bluff. On my reaching abreast of Sisters Creek the batteries opened a heavy and well-directed fire, principally from the heaviest of their guns, the missiles striking all around the Cimarron, their fuzes being so accurately timed that the explosion of the shells threw the water on our decks. This vessel promptly responded to their fire, and the others, as their guns came within range. Owing to the adverse state of the tide and wind, combined with the bad steering qualities of this vessel, great difficulty was experienced in maneuvering her so as to bring all her batteries in full effect. While attempting this, when about 200 yards above the entrance of Sisters Creek, she got ashore, and, notwithstanding all our exertions, we lay for fifteen minutes exposed to a raking fire from the forts, and the Water Witch in coming up at the same time also unfortunately got aground. By a sudden flaw of wind, providentially, we paid off and got afloat, when I steamed down the river 100 yards or so to take a new start, when it was reported to me that a gun had been fired from the Paul Jones, which had a signal flying, and in obedience to which I steamed just out of range of the forts and dropped anchor, together with the Water Witch and Uncas, after being under fire for an hour and a half."

CAPT Godon, South Atlantic Blockading Squadron, writes SECNAV that the Potemska is in need of repairs, but is unseaworthy. He will keep her in the sounds where she can be useful in blockade duty until she is able to go to sea to get repaired at Pensacola. In a separate letter he says that CMDR Wilkes has requested to obtain coal from him and that a large supply of coal at Fernandina would enable shorter runs for fuel.

LCDR Roe, USS Katahdin RADM David G. Farragut, West Gulf Blockading Squadron that he burned to the ground Snarl's grocery just above Bonnet Carr. "Mr. Snarl himself is a notorious rebel. Mr. Burbank, the Union planter living above, was my principal informant. The building contained nothing but a counter, a card table, packs of old cards and counters, and some trappings for horsemen, and one bed. "

LT Thompson, USS Pittsburg, writes RADM Charles H Davis, Mississippi Squadron, that he went to Memphis for coal and then to Randolph to protect the Ohio Belle. He is off Fort Pillow "Three separate gangs of guerrillas, numbering about 250 each, are reported in this section about 25 miles back. The officer in command here has requested me to remain, in case the guerrillas should mass their forces and make an attack. I shall remain here until sufficient time has elapsed for it to get noised about the country a gunboat is stationed here."He has a large sicklist - 19 on the USHS Red Rover and 9 on board. He needs coal.

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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