Arthur

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Arthur

Arthur

(Bark: t. 554; 1. 133'; b. 31'2"; dph. 7'3"; dr. 14'1"; s. 10 k.; 86; a. 6 32-pdr. sb.)

On 1 August 1861, Arthur-a bark built at Amesburg, Mass., in 1855-was purchased at New York City by the Union Navy. Fitted out at the New York Navy Yard, she was commissioned there on 11 December 1861, Acting Volunteer Lieutenant John W. Kittredge in command.

Arthur sailed south on Christmas Eve, 1861, joined the Gulf Blockading Squadron at Key West, Fla., and then proceeded to the coast of Texas to patrol the waters between Matagorda and Corpus Christi. This was familiar territory for Kittredge, who had spent several years trading along the Texas seaboard before the Civil War. Arthur reached station off Matagorda on the morning of 25 January.

Later that day, some 17 miles northeast of the bar at Pass Cavallo, she sighted a schooner sailing toward shore. Kittredge called the crew to quarters and sent two cutters in pursuit of the stranger which was attempting to run aground. A shot from the bark brought the quarry to. A boarding party from the cutters took possession of the schooner, which proved to be the Confederate blockade runner J. J. McNeil. The prize-which had left Veracruz, Mexico, with a cargo of coffee and tobacco-was sent to Ship Island, Miss., and on to New York for adjudication.

On 13 February, the brig exchanged fire with a cavalry troop on shore near Aransas, Tex. About noon on 21 April, Kittredge led an expedition of three boats into Cedar Bayou, Tex., where
they chased the schooner Burkhart which escaped because of her master's knowledge of nearby channels. The next day, they captured three small sloops, but were forced to abandon their
prizes-along with two of their own boats-to escape attacks by a numerically superior Confederate force. Kittredge and his party managed to escape without In jury.

During the spring of 1862, ag Officer David Glasgow Farragut, the squadron commander, reinforced Kittredge with the yacht Corypheus, purchased from the Key West prize court, and the screw gunboat Sachem. Besides these tenders, General Butler-a lugger about which little is known-was also at Kittredge's disposal for operations in the shallow inlets, bays, and bayous found in Arthurs sector.

On 9 July, Kittred ge entered Aransas Bay in Corypheus. Upon approaching Lamar, he sighted a ". . . schooner apparently lying on her beam ends . . . ." He then armed the second cutter and ran down through the reefs to her.

Upon seeing the approaching Union ship, the schooner's crew righted their vessel-which they had careened for caulking-and cast adrift a cotton-laden, flat-bottomed barge which had been moored to a nearby wharf while the schooner was being prepared for an attempt to ran the blockade. The schooner began leaking rapidly the moment she was again upright, and was soon swamped.

Kittredge returned to Corypheus, and got underway in pursuit of a schooner that had just passed to the southward .... He soon found his quarry, the schooner named Reindeer, at anchor, captured by General Butler.

On 10 July, Corypheus captured the 9-ton sloop Belle Italia. A few days later, she reentered the gulf where Kittredge returned to Arthur.

Arthur took the armed schooner Breaker at Aransas on 12 August and, on that same day at Corpus Christi, forced the Confederates to burn the armed schooner Elma and sloop Hannah to prevent their capture. On the 15th, she added to her list of victims the steamer A. B. (sometimes spelled A. Bee) which had run aground in the narrow and shallow channel that leads to Nueces Bay near Corpus Christi. After several unsuccessful efforts to refloat that prize, Kittredge put the torch to her.

Finally, shortly after dawn on 24 August, the yacht Corypheus-still working under the direction of Kittredge-captured Water Witch of Jamaica as that schooner attempted to enter Aransas Bay with a cargo including a large quantity of gunpowder.

Early in September, Farragut asked Kittredge to attempt to arrange the release of the family of Judge Edmund Jackson Davis, a prominent political leader in Texas who had remained loyal to the Union and had left his home to serve the Federal cause. On 12 September, Kittredgeproceeded under a flag of truce to Corpus Christi where the Confederate commanding officer there refused to allow Mrs. Davis to leave Texas, but promised to refer the matter to the Confederate commander in Texas. While waiting for this decision, Kittred ge proceeded with Corypheus and Breaker to Flour Bluffs where he found several small vessels.

When they tried to escape on the morning of the 13th, Kittredge fired on them, but they managed to slip into Laguna de la Madre where the deeper-draft Union ships could not follow. Kittredge landed with a small reconnaissance party and took three prisoners before returning to Corypheus. On the following morning he saw two armed men in a new, unfinished structure and, seven men went ashore with him to investigate. As Kittredge was entering the building, he and hi part was surprised and captured by a large group of Southern soldiers who had been hiding inside.

By this time Arthur's condition had deteriorated, a result of her service along the semitropical Texas coast. Farragut ordered her to Pensacola for Fe airs. These were completed in November, and Arthur carries provisions to other blockading en route to her station at Matagorda Bay.

In the early morning of New Year's Day, 1863, the Confederate gunboats Bayou City and Neptune attacked and defeated the Union flotilla at nearby Galveston, taking the steamer Harriet Lane as a prize and destroying the gunboat Westfield. The smaller Northern warship in Galveston Bay ran through heavy Confederate fire from shore and escaped to sea, leaving the South in undisputed possession of this important Texas port.

Under orders from Farragut to reestablish the blockade, Commodore Henry H. Bell, in Brooklyn, arrived off Galveston on 10 January and soon warned Arthur to beware of enemy raids, especially by the formidable Harriet Lane which had now been placed in commission by the Confederate Navy. Raphael Semmes' Confederate commerce raider Alabama had sunk the large Union side-wheeler Hatteras in a heated engagement off Galveston on the night of the llth, and also seemed to pose a threat to the Union warships.

Under these tense conditions, Arthur remained on station off Aransas Pass for some two months thereafter before joining the blockading squadron outside Galveston Bay in mid-March for
repairs and replenishment. Just as the bark was ready to return to her station off Aransas Pass, the Union Army steamer Honduras arrived at Galveston with word that Confederate troops from Texas had crossed the Rio Grande to Bagdad, Mexico, and there captured the exiled Judge Davis, who had been commissioned a Colonel in the Union army and had gone to Mexico seeking recruits among Unionists who had found refuge there. The Southern raiders had also taken some of Davis' men and were hunting others in the nearby hills. Instead of returnin to her blockading station n, Arthur headed for the mouth of the Rio Grande with Honduras to protect and evacuate these pro-Union fugitives.

Arthur collided with a merchant steamer during a storm off the Rio Grande and suffered considerable damage. She arrived off Galveston on 28 March for repairs, but found that her injuries were serious enough to require repairs at Pensacola.

The bark was scheduled to return to Texas, but apparently never did so. Her logs for 1863 are not extant, but other references indicate that the ship remained at Pensacola as a guardship through the end of the Civil War. Arthur sailed north on 8 August 1865, was decommissioned at the New York Navy Yard on 16 September, and was sold at public auction to G. D. Morgan on 27 September 1865.