< Civil War Naval History August 1861

Civil War Naval History



August 1861

1 U.S.S. Minnesota, Flag Officer Stringham. captured schooner Sally Mears at Hampton Roads.

Confederate privateer Petrel evaded blockaders and put to sea from Charleston.

2 U.S.S. South Carolina, Commander James Alden, initiated blockade of Galveston.

3 C.S.S. Sumter, Commander Semmes, captured and burned American ship Golden Rocket near Isle of Pines, off the coast of Cuba.

4 U.S.S. South Carolina. Commander Alden, captured blockade running schooners Shark, Venus, Ann Ryan, McCanfield, Louisa. and Dart off Galveston.

5 U.S.S. South Carolina, Commander Alden, captured blockade running schooners Falcon and Coralia off Galveston.

U.S.S. Dana, Acting Master's Mate Robert B. Ely, captured sloop Teaser in Nanjemoy Creek, Maryland.

6 U.S.S. South Carolina, Commander Alden, captured blockade running schooner George G. Baker, off Galveston.

Confederate privateer Jefferson Davis captured American brig John Welsh and schooner Enchantress east of Cape Hatteras.

C.S.S. Sumter, Commander Semmes, arrived at Cienfuegos, Cuba, with seven U.S. vessels taken as prizes Cuba, Machias, Ben Dunning, Albert Adams, Naiad, West Wind, Lewis Kilham. Semmes appointed a Cuban agent for custody of the prizes, expressing to the Governor there that he had entered that port "with the expectation that Spain will extend to cruisers of the Confederate States the same friendly reception that in similar circumstances she would extend to the cruisers of the enemy.

7 U.S.S. South Carolina, Commander Alden, captured schooner Sam Houston off Galveston.

Confederate privateer Jefferson Davis captured American schooner S. J. Waring about 150 miles off Sandy Hook, New Jersey.

U.S.S. Pocahontas, Commander Benjamin M. Dove, fired on and damaged C.S.S. George Page in Aquia Creek, Virginia.

Two floating torpedoes (mines) in the Potomac River were picked up by U. S. S. Resolute, Acting Master W. Budd- the earliest known use of torpedoes by the Confederates. During the course of the war a variety of ingenious torpedoes destroyed or damaged some 40 Union ships, forecasting the vast growth to come in this aspect of underwater naval warfare.

9 U.S.S. South Carolina, Commander Alden, seized and destroyed schooner Tom Hicks with cargo of lumber off Galveston.

Confederate privateer Jefferson Davis captured American brig Mary E. Thompson of Bangor en route Antigua, and schooner Mary Goodell of New York en route Buenos Aires.

10 U.S.S. Minnesota, Flag Officer Stringham, captured Confederate brig Amy Warwick in Hampton Roads.

12 U.S.S. South Carolina, Commander Alden, captured Confederate schooner General T. J. Chambers off Galveston with cargo of lumber.

13 U.S.S. Massachusetts, Commander M. Smith, seized schooner Hiland near Ship Island, Mississippi.

14 U.S.S. Daylight, Commander Samuel Lockwood, initiated blockade of Wilmington, North Carolina.

15 Captain Du Pont wrote: "The Department are [sic] worried about the privateers increasing so. Lieutenant Semmes has sent . . . [vessels] into Cuba, but the Captain General ordered them to be immediately restored to their commanders." Du Pont also noted that the privateer Jefferson Davis, "which has ventured so far north," was also causing concern. Confederate privateers struck out boldly against Northern commerce and generated distress among shipping interests. However, as the naval blockade tightened and ports and coastal havens were seized by amphibious assault and other naval actions, operations of Confederate raiders became increasingly difficult and restricted.

16 Blockade Strategy Board reported to Secretary of the Navy Welles on the necessity of halting Confederate commerce: ". . . it is an important object in the present war that this trade, home and foreign, should be interrupted . . . The most obvious method of accomplishing this object is by putting down material obstructions; and the most convenient form of obstruction, for transportation and use, is that of old vessels laden with ballast . . . sunk in the appropriate places." This was the first suggestion for the "stone fleet". Elimination of water-borne trade by the Union Navy blockade (more effective than the "stone fleet" obstructions at harbor entrances), meant the economic ruination of the Confederacy.

U.S.S. St. Lawrence, Captain Hugh Y. Purviance, captured British blockade runner Herald, bound from Beaufort, North Carolina, to Liverpool.

William Tilghman, a Negro, overwhelmed Confederate prize crew on board schooner S.J. Waring and took possession of the vessel, carrying her into New York on 22 July.

18 Confederate schooner Favorite was captured by U.S.S. Yankee, Commander T. T. Craven, on Yeocomico River; Favorite was sunk later at Piney Point on the Potomac River.

Commander Ridgely, U.S. Receiving Ship Allegheny, reported his ship had received a battery of guns from the Washington Navy Yard and was standing by in the harbor for the protection of Annapolis.

Confederate Secretary of the Navy Mallory reported: "The frigate Merrimack [later C.S.S. Virginia] has been raised and docked at an expense of $6,000, and the necessary repairs to hull and machinery to place her in her former condition is estimated by experts at $450,000. The vessel would then be in the river, and by the blockade of the enemy's fleets and batteries rendered comparatively useless. It has therefore been determined to shield her completely with 3 inch iron [4-inch armor was used], placed at such angles as to render her ball-proof, to complete her at the earliest moment, to arm her with the heaviest ordnance, and to send her at once against the enemy's fleet. It is believed that thus prepared she will be able to contend successfully against the heaviest of the enemy's ships and to drive them from Hampton Roads and the ports of Virginia. The cost of this work is estimated by the constructor and engineer in charge at $172,523, and as time is of the first consequence in this enterprise I have not hesitated to commence the work and to ask Congress for the necessary appropriation."

19 Captain- General of Cuba released all vessels brought into Cuban ports as prizes by C.S.S. Sumter,

20 U.S.S. Mount Vernon, Commander Oliver S. Glisson, seized sloop Wild Pigeon on the Rappahannock River.

U.S.S. Albatross, Commander George A. Prentiss, recaptured Enchantress off Hatteras Inlet.

21 U.S.S. Albatross, Commander Prentiss, engaged C.S.S. Beaufort, Lieutenant R. C. Duvall, in Oregon Inlet, North Carolina. Albatross, heavier gunned, forced Beau fort to withdraw.

Confederate privateer Jefferson Davis captured American bark Alvarado in Atlantic (25o 04' N, 50o 00' W).

U.S. Marines commanded by Major Reynolds took part in the First Battle of Bull Run: 9 Marines killed, 19 wounded, 16 missing in action. Commander Dahlgren wrote of the loss of two naval howitzers in the battle. The Confederates also had a naval battery at Manassas.

24 Congress approved bill authorizing the appointment of an Assistant Secretary of the Navy.

Act "to provide for the temporary increase of the Navy" passed by Congress; gave President authority to take vessels into the Navy and appoint officers for them, to any extent deemed necessary; this confirmed action that had been taken by President Lincoln since April.

25 John LaMountain began balloon reconnaissance ascensions at Fort Monroe, Virginia.

C.S.S. Sumter, Commander Semmes, captured schooner Abby Bradford in the Caribbean Sea and, denied the right to enter Venezuela with Confederate prizes, dispatched her to a Southern port.

Confederate privateer Mariner, Captain W. B. Berry, captured American schooner Nathaniel Chase off Ocracoke Inlet, North Carolina.

Confederate privateer Gordon captured American brig William McGlivery off Cape Hatteras with cargo of molasses.

Confederate privateer Dixie captured American schooner Mary Alice off the cast coast of Florida.

U.S.S. Resolute, Acting Master W. Budd, brought two schooners and one sloop as prizes into Washington, D.C.

27 C.S.S. Sumter, Commander Semmes, captured American bark Joseph Maxwell off Venezuela.

28 U.S.S. Union, Commander J. R. Goldsborough, destroyed former American brig B. T. Martin north of Cape Hatteras, where she had been run aground by Confederates. B. T Martin had been captured previously by Confederate privateer York.

Confederate privateer Gordon captured American schooner Protector off Cape Hatteras.

U.S.S. St. Lawrence, Captain Purviance, sank Confederate privateer Petrel off Charleston.

29 U.S.S. Yankee, Commander T. T. Craven, and U.S.S. Reliance, Lieutenant Mygatt, engaged Confederate battery at Marlborough Point, Virginia.

Four U.S. steamers engaged Confederate battery at Aquia Creek, Virginia, for three hours.

31 Confederate privateer Dixie captured American bark Glenn and took her to Beaufort, North Carolina.