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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
The staff of RADM Samuel Du Pont, commander of the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron, until he refused to attack, futily, Charleston, without army support.
Sat Jul 23 1864

G W Blunt telegrams ASSIST SECNAV "From the Herald of to-day:
    Captain Charles Richards, of the bark Ocean Gem., reports July 17, Halifax, bearing N. W. about 22 miles, saw a steamer painted black, bark-rigged, with two smokestacks, painted white, supposed to be the pirate Florida. A bark and brig near by were on fire. There was also anther steamer close at hand, painted black."

George W Blunt writes SECNAV "Captain Richards's location I can not ascertain. The article telegraphed to the Department was taken from the Providence Journal. The opinion here among intelligent men is that the article is true, and that the captain of the Florida will try and land his goods in some of the British provinces, as I wrote to Mr. Fox this day."

William J [S?] Taylor & Co. telegrams SECNAV "The Florida is reported off Halifax on 17th instant. Another steamer with her, supposed to be the Electric Spark."

SECNAV telegrams CMDR C K Stribling, Philadelphia Navy Yard, "If the Juniata has not sailed retain her, and further orders will be given." CMDR Stribling replies "The Juniata had left Wilmington for Hampton Roads to await the orders of the Department before your order to detain her here was received."

CDR George Henry Preble, writes SECNAV "While at Madeira I shipped nine of the islanders, with consent of the governor, as landsmen and boys, to fill vacancies on board. The difficulty was to resist the importunity of applicants. I find the same here. Should the Department wish for any number of landsmen or boys they can be easily obtained at any of these islands, and without infringement of any laws of neutrality. From my past experience I know that the Madeirienses [Madeirans] become good seamen, and generally remain in and are attached to the service. A vessel coming on the station could fill up her complement of landsmen and boys at the Azores or Madeira without paying bounties and without taking any from home service."

SECNAV writes CDR N Collins, USS Wachusett, "From information which has been communicated to the Department it is thought that the pirate Florida, which has recently been depredating near our coast, will proceed toward the line or to the vicinity of the [As] Rocas. It would be well, therefore, for you to be on the alert.
    If you should meet with a sailing vessel suspected of being a tender to these pirates, hoist Marryat's signal No. 5 at the fore. If replied to by the same signal, search the vessel for extra crew or for any other objects that will authorize a seizure."

SECNAV writes CAPT Jonathan A Winslow, USS Kearsarge, "The Florida has committed some depredations on our coast and departed probably for Martinique, whence she will no doubt cruise to the southward and eastward in the track of our homeward-bound vessels via the Cape of Good Hope, as has been the case heretofore. On the receipt of this order you will fill up with coal, and, keeping your departure a secret from every person, you will proceed with all practicable dispatch to the ground indicated above, touching only for coal on the way. If nothing is heard of the Florida in cruising to the southward and westward, go to Fernando de Noronha, the [As] Rocas, Martinique, and St. Thomas, thence home.
    If you meet with a sailing vessel suspected of being a tender to these pirates, hoist Marryat's signal No. 5 at the fore. If replied to by the same signal, search the vessel for extra crew and for any other objects that will authorize a seizure.
    I trust that you may close your cruise by the same exhibition of skill which has already been so creditable to you."

MAJ S Cabot,, Fort Warren, Boston, telegrams SECNAV "Telegram received. Will send Drayton with an officer to New York, reporting him to Captain Steedman by p. m. train."

SECNAV telegrams CAPT Charles Steedman, USS Ticonderoga, "Receive on board the Ticonderoga Mr. Drayton, a gentleman from Boston. Confidential instructions to you by to-nights mail." SECNAV writes Steedman "Transmitted herewith are confidential instructions of this date, directing you to proceed in search of the Florida. If in the course of your cruising in pursuance of those instructions you should not, after a reasonable time, hear of the Florida, or should learn that she has entered a port of Europe, you will return home. Keep the Department advised of your movements" Enclosed is: "Mr. A. L. Drayton, a Southern planter, captured last year in the Tacony, has given reliable information concerning the Florida, and is willing and anxious to assist in her capture by indicating her future movements. He says she will be at the [As] IRocas, about latitude 3° 55' S., longitude 33° 43' W., on or about the 25th August; and, to conceal the movement and the object of his mission on board, I have given him the enclosed appointment, which you will present to him, and thus no one but yourself and Mr. Drayton will have any knowledge of the mission you are to embark upon. How far this gentleman's knowledge can be depended upon it is impossible to say, but you will use every exertion to be at the [As] Rocas before the 25th proximo, and then act upon your own judgment, after hearing all Mr. Drayton has to say.
    You will be following out the wishes of the Department by pursuing the Florida wherever she has gone, and no senior officer will interfere with this duty."

SECNAV writes Mr. A L Drayton, "You are hereby appointed a pilot in the U. S. Navy on temporary service, and you will report for duty to Captain Charles Steedman, U. S. Navy, commanding the U. S. S. Ticonderoga, at New York."

In a second telegram SECNAV sends to CAPT Steedman, "Do not sail under Departments orders until you have thoroughly sifted the report of the Florida being near Halifax. Report by telegraph."

SECNAV writes CAPT Henry Walke, USS Sacramento, "Your dispatches reporting your arrival on the European coast have been received. You will remain there for the protection of our commerce and interests until otherwise ordered."

RADM J L Lardner, West India Squadron writes SECNAV from Cape Haitien "I have the honor to report the Powhatan and Galatea at this port; all well.
    I shall sail to-morrow for a short cruise to the Windward Islands.
    The Galatea will continue the convoy of the California steamers."

CAPT Melancton Smith, SOPA James River, writes RADM Samuel P Lee, North Atlantic Blockading Squadron "I enclose herewith an accurate sketch of the position of the hulks at the barricade, obtained from measurement, which alters very materially the supposed security of the position.
    I would therefore recommend that three barges be sent, and one larger vessel for the channel, where there is a space of (15 feet, and 14 feet water."

BGEN Schimmelfennig, USA, Northern District Department of the South, writes RADM Jonathan Dahlgren, South Atlantic Blockading Squadron "I have the honor to inform you that I have now in my possession a deserter from the rebel ironclad Chicora, in Charleston Harbor. If you desire to examine him, I shall take pleasure in placing him at your disposal. With regard to the enemy's ironclads, he corroborates our own observations and former information, and states, furthermore, that they have no idea of coming out of the harbor, but are only to assist in preventing the entrance of our fleet. In running between Johnson and the city the ironclads usually take advantage of the tide, as they can hardly make headway against it. The Chicora is three or four hours making the distance from Johnson to the city against a heavy tide. With regard to the effect of our late operations on James Island, this deserter reports that Fort Pringle was very badly used up by the fire of the Navy; that the men called it a slaughter pen, and could not be made to stand to their guns, but took refuge in the bombproofs."

RADM Theodorus Bailey, East Gulf Blockading Squadron writes LT L N Stodder, USN "I am in receipt of your communications of the 15th instant. I shall rely on your utmost vigilance to thwart any designs the rebels may have upon your station, and trust that you may be prepared for cotton-barricaded boats, torpedoes, or any other invention of the enemy. I should not be surprised if an attempt of some kind were made upon the vessel at West Pass. I enclose a chart giving the Coston signals as they now are."

CDR T H Stevens, USS Oneida, writes RADM David Glasgow Farragut, West Gulf Blockading Squadron, "The time being propitious I landed a party of 10 men from this vessel nearly abreast of our picket station for the purpose of capturing the cavalry patrol of the enemy, which for several nights we had observed from the vessel passing up and down the beach.
    The party was in charge of Lieutenant C. S. Cotton, of this vessel, and Acting Ensign J. L. Hall. The instructions were to land and secrete themselves in the woods, sending the boat back to the Oneida.
    The expedition resulted in the capture of the entire picket cavalry camp of the enemy, who were established some 4 miles to the eastward of our position, with the exception of one man, who escaped. A lieutenant and 4 privates belonging to the Seventh Alabama Cavalry, with their arms, horses, and accouterments, were taken. Subsequently the horses were released. The prisoners I have to-day delivered, according to your instructions, to the provost-marshal of this place.
    In connection with the execution of this affair I desire to bring to your notice the good conduct of both men and officers. Lieutenant Cotton speaks in warm terms of the gallantry and judgment displayed by Acting Ensign Hall upon the occasion. Enclosed please receive report of Lieutenant Cotton."

LCDR E K Owen, 6th District, Mississippi Squadron writes RADM David D Porter, Mississippi Squadron, "A few guerrillas on both banks of the river still continue to annoy the steamers. The B. M. Runyan, with some 500 passengers - soldiers and citizens - ran on a snag and sunk at the foot of Island No. 84. The Prairie Bird happened to be near and succeeded in saving about 350. About 150 were drowned. I will send all Government stores to the quartermaster at Memphis or Vicksburg, and all private trunks, boxes, etc., to Captain Pennock. I did not permit the cotton trading and freight boat R. E. Hill, Mr. Lewis in charge, to land those supplies at Columbia. The smaller amounts are allowed to land, in obedience to your order. In my opinion such freighting boats should not be allowed. Their object is money, and they will do things that are wrong, notwithstanding their protestations and letters. I ordered the Hill to Goodrich or any military post and to dispose of her cargo, then I would permit her to hunt for cotton. One hundred men are absolutely required for this district. This month I lose 28 petty officers, all three-year men."

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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