Civil War Naval History
1-4 Landing party under Commander George M. Colvocoresses, composed of 115 officers and men, raided a meeting of civilians forming a coastal guard at McIntosh Court House, Georgia. Col-vocoresses marched his men overland after coming ashore during the night of 2 August, destroyed a bridge to prevent being cut off by Confederate cavalry, and captured some 26 prisoners and 22 horses before making his way safely back to U.S.S. Saratoga. Rear Admiral Dahlgren, amused at the circumstances of the expedition and pleased with its results, reported to the men of his squadron: "Captain Colvocoresses having been favored with a sight of the notice in a Savannah paper, and feeling considerable interest in the object of the meeting, concluded that he would attend it also, which he did, with a number of United States citizens serving at the time on board the U.S.S. Saratoga as officers, seamen, and marines. . . . When the appointed time arrived, Mr. Miller [Boatswain Philip J. Miller] set fire to the bridge [outside the town] and at the signal the main body rushed out and joined the meeting. . . . Captain Colvocoresses then read to the meeting from the newspaper the order of Colonel Gaulden [CSA] for their assembling, and, regretting that the Colonel had failed to attend, he invited the meeting to accompany him, which they did, and arrived safely on board the Saratoga, where they meet daily under the United States flag." The Admiral later reported to Secretary Welles of the prisoners: ". . . . it is hoped that under the old flag the deliberations may be of a more beneficial tendency, as the parties are now relieved of their proposed responsibility as a coast guard."
Colonel Gaulden, not to be outdone, published an explanatory letter in the Savannah Re-publican adding a challenge to the observant naval Captain: "As the Captain seems to be a reader of your paper, I take this opportunity to make my compliments to him and to say that when he calls to see me again I shall be at home, and will try and give him a more respectful reception."
2 After months of attempting to ready C.S.S. Rappahannock and negotiating her clearance from French authorities in Calais, Flag Officer Barron reluctantly concluded that she could not be taken to sea under the Confederate flag. This date, he received a letter from Lieutenant Charles M. Fauntleroy, commanding Rappahannock, informing him that while the French would now permit her put to sea, her crew could not exceed 35 men. Barron at once replied: "I agree with you in the "absolute impossibility of navigating the ship" with so small a complement as thirty-five, including yourself and officers. You will therefore proceed to pay off and discharge your officers and crew, keeping sufficient officers and men to look after the public property, and lay up the ship until we determine upon what course we shall pursue in regard to her." Private agents acting for the Confederacy had purchased Rappahannock from the British in November, 1863, at Sheerness, where she was refitting. Concerned that the British, suspecting that she was to be used as a cruiser, would detain her, the Confederates ran Rappahannock out of port on 24 November. Her officers joined in the channel, and intended to rendezvous with C.S.S. Georgia off the French coast, where she would take on armament. However, in passing out of the Thames estuary her bearings burned out and she 'was taken across the channel to Calais for repairs. Though the South had entertained high hopes for her as a commerce raider, she was destined never to put to sea under the Stars and Bars". Fauntleroy, disillusioned with the command which cost the South so much in time and effort, termed her "The Confederate White Elephant."
3 Rear Admiral Farragut's Fleet Captain, Percival Drayton, wrote the senior officer at Pensacola, Captain Thornton A. Jenkins, urging that the monitor Tecumseh be hurried to Mobile for Farragut's attack. ''If you can get the Tecumseh out tomorrow, do so; otherwise I am pretty certain that the admiral won't wait for her. Indeed, I think a very little persuasion would have taken him in today, and less tomorrow. The army are to land at once, and the admiral does not want to be thought remiss." Farragut himself wrote Jenkins, adding in a tone indicative of his indomita-ble spirit: "I can lose no more days. I must go in day after tomorrow morning at daylight or a little after. It is a bad time, but when you do not take fortune at her offer you must take her as you can find her."
Lieutenant J. C. Watson and his boat crew made a final night expedition into the waters of Mobile Bay under the guns of Fort Morgan. Although they were constantly in danger of being discovered by the lights of the Fort, the bold sailors worked all night to deactivate and sink Confederate torpedoes in the channel preparatory to Farragut's dash into Mobile Bay.
U.S.S. Miami, Acting Lieutenant George W. Graves, engaged Confederate batteries at Wilcox's Landing, Virginia. Proceeding toward heavy firing, Graves had discovered batteries at Wilcox's Landing firing on Union transports. He immediately opened a brisk cannonade, and after an hour the Confederates withdrew. Next day, Miami, accompanied by U.S.S. Osceola, Commander Clitz, drove off batteries which were firing on another group of transports near Harrison's Landing, on the James River. Throughout the embattled South, Union gunboats kept communications and supply lines open despite the dogged determination of the Confederates to sever them.
5 Rear Admiral Farragut took his squadron of 18 ships, including four monitors, against the heavy Confederate defenses of Mobile Bay. Soon after 6 a.m., the Union ships crossed the bar and moved into the bay. The monitors Tecumseh, Manhattan, Winnebago, and Chickasaw formed a column to starboard of the wooden ships in order to take most of the fire from Fort Morgan, which they had to pass at close range. The seven smaller wooden ships were lashed to tile port side of the larger wooden screw steamers, as in the passage of Port Hudson, Mississippi River.
Shortly before 7 o'clock, Tecumseh, Commander T.A.M. Craven, opened fire on Fort Morgan. The action quickly became general. The Confederate squadron under Admiral Buchanan, including the heavy ram Tennessee (6 guns) and the smaller ships Gaines (6 guns), Selma (4 guns), and Morgan (6 guns), moved out to engage the attackers. Craven headed Tecumseh straight at Tennessee, bent on engaging her at once. Suddenly, a terrific explosion rocked the Union monitor. She careened violently and went down in seconds, the victim of one of the much-feared torpedoes laid by the Confederates for harbor defense. Amidst the confusion below decks as men struggled to escape the sinking ship, Craven and the pilot, John Collins, arrived at the foot of the ladder leading to the main deck. The captain stepped back. "After you, pilot," he said. Collins was saved, but there was no afterwards for the heroic Craven. He and some 90 officers and men of Tecumseh's crew of 114 went down with the ship. Captain Alden called them "intrepid pioneers of that death-strewed path."
Alden, in Brooklyn, was to Tecumseh's port when the disaster occurred; the heavy steamer stopped and began backing to clear "a row of suspecious-looking buoys" directly under Brooklyn's bow. The entire line of wooden vessels was drifting into confusion immediately under the guns of Fort Morgan. Farragut, lashed in the rigging to observe the action over the smoke billowing from the guns, acted promptly and resolutely, characteristic of a great leader who in war must constantly meet emergencies fraught with danger. The only course was the boldest through the torpedo field. "Damn the torpedoes," he ordered; "full speed ahead " (Flag Lieutenant John C. Watson later recalled that Farragut's exact words were: "Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead, Drayton! Hard astarboard; ring four bells! Eight bells! Sixteen bells!") His flagship Hartford s wept past Brooklyn into the rows of torpedoes; the fleet followed. The torpedoes were heard bumping against the hulls but none exploded. The Union force steamed into the bay.
Hardly past one hazard, Farragut was immediately faced with another: Buchanan attempted to ram Hartford with Tennessee. The Union ship slipped by her slower, clumsier antagonist, returning her fire but also being raked by the fire of gunboat C.S.S. Selma, Lieutenant Peter U. Murphey. Wooden double-ender U.S.S. Metacomet, Lieutenant Commander Jouett, engaged Selma and, though sustaining considerable damage, compelled her to strike her colors shortly after 9 a.m. Meanwhile, Tennessee also attempted in vain to ram Brooklyn. C.S.S. Gaines, Lieu-tenant John W. Bennett, advanced to engage the Union ships as they entered the bay, but she suffered a steering casualty early in the action. ". . . subjected to a very heavy concentrated fire from the Hartford, Richmond, and others at short range . . . , Bennett soon found his command in a sinking condition. He ran her aground near Fort Morgan and salvaged most of the ammuni-tion and small arms before she settled in two fathoms. C.S.S. Morgan, Commander George W. Harrison, briefly engaged Metacomet to assist Selma prior to her surrender, but as the action took place at high speed, Morgan could not maintain her position and faced the possibility of being cut off and captured by two Union ships. Harrison determined to take her under Fort Morgan's guns and later he saved her by boldly running the gauntlet of Federal ships to Mobile.
Meanwhile, 300-ton side-wheeler U.S.S. Philippi, Acting Master James T. Seaver, "wishing to be of assistance to the fleet in case any vessels were disabled," grounded near Fort Morgan attempting to get into the bay. The fort's heavy guns quickly found the range and riddled Philippi with shot and shell, forcing Seaver and his crew to abandon ship. A boat crew from C.S.S. Morgan completed her destruction by setting her afire. The Union fleet, having steamed up into the bay, anchored briefly. Buchanan heroically carried the fight to his powerful opponents alone. Farragut reported: "I was not long in comprehending his intention to be the destruction of the flagship. The monitors and such of the wooden vessels as I thought best adapted for the purpose were immediately ordered to attack the ram, not only with their guns, but bows on at full speed, and then began one of the fiercest naval combats on record."
For more than an hour the titanic battle raged. Steam sloop of war Monongahela struck Tennessee a heavy blow but succeeded only in damaging herself. Lackawanna rammed into the Confederate ship at full speed but, said Farragut, "the only perceptible effect on the ram was to give her a heavy list." A shot from Manhattan's 15-inch gun, however, made a greater impression on those on board Tennessee. Lieutenant Wharton, CSN, reported: "The Monongahela was hardly
clear of us when a hideous-looking monster came creeping up on our Port side, whose slowly revolving turret revealed the cavernous depths of a mammoth gun. 'Stand clear of the Port side!' I shouted. A moment after a thundrous report shook us all, while a blast of dense, sulpherous smoke covered our port-holes, and 440 pounds of iron, impelled by sixty pounds of powder, admitted daylight through our side, where, before it struck us, there had been over two feet of solid wood, covered with five inches of solid iron. This was the only 15-inch shot that hit us fair. It did not come through; the inside netting caught the splinters, and there were no casualties from it. I was glad to find myself alive after that shot."
Hartford struck a glancing blow and poured a broadside into Tennessee from a distance of ten feet Chickasaw pounded the ram with heavy shot; steam sloops Lackawanna and Hartford had collided, but had regained position and, with Ossipee and Monongahela, were preparing to run down Buchanan's ship. The intrepid Confederate Admiral had been seriously wounded and relinquished command to Commander James D. Johnston. The rain of shells knocked out the ironclad's steering. Unable to maneuver and taking on water, Tennessee struggled on against her overwhelmingly superior foes despite the terrible cannonade that pounded her mercilessly. Ultimately, Buchannan and Johnston concurred that Tennessee must surrender to prevent loss of life to no fruitful end. At 10 o'clock a white flag was hoisted. Farragut acknowledged the tenacity and ability with which the Confederate seamen had fought: "During this contest with the rebel gunboats and Tennessee . . . we lost many more men than from the fire of the batteries of Fort Morgan."
Secretary Welles warmly congratulated the Admiral on his stunning triumph: "In the success which has attended your operations you have illustrated the efficiency and irresistible power of a naval force led by a bold and vigorous mind, and insufficiency of any batteries to prevent the passage of a fleet thus led and commanded. You have, first on the Mississippi and recently in the bay of Mobile, demonstrated what had been previously doubted, the ability of naval vessels, properly manned and commanded, to set at defiance the best constructed and most heavily armed fortifications. In these successive victories you have encountered great risks, but the results have vindicated the wisdom of your policy and the daring valor of our officers and seamen."
Costly as the victory was to the Union and stubbornly as Mobile Bay was defended by the Confederates, the result of the struggle was the closing of the last major Gulf port to the South. With the bay itself controlled by Farragut's fleet, it was inevitable that the land fortifications which had been bypassed would be compelled to surrender. That afternoon, Chickasaw, Lieutenant Commander George H. Perkins, stood down and engaged Fort Powell at a distance of less than 400 yards. The Confederate work could not meet such an assault from its rear, and during the night it was evacuated and blown up. Forts Gaines and Morgan would fall soon as well, and henceforth Northern naval efforts could be concentrated in the East, though vigilance and "mop-ping up" operations would continue elsewhere until war's end. Of the stunning victory at Mobile, the distinguished naval historian Commodore Dudley W. Knox wrote: "Success there had been mainly due to the genius of Farragut, who had shown all the attributes of a great leader. He had been skillful and thorough in planning, cautious in awaiting adequate military and naval reinforcements, bold in attack, quick in perceptions and decisions during the greatest emergencies of battle, superbly courageous in setting an example, ever ready to take personal risks, as well as to assume those demanded by his heavy responsibility, and resolute beyond measure until the victory was won.
6 Powerful C.S.S. Albemarle, Captain J. W. Cooke, steamed from Plymouth, NC., to the mouth of the Roanoke River, causing great concern among the Union blockading ships before returning to Plymouth. Commander Harrell, U.S.S. Chicopee, reported: ". . . the ram made its appearance this morning at a few minutes before 4 a.m. It advanced as far as the mouth of the river and halted. . . . From the number of people in sight on the beach, no doubt it was expected that an engagement would ensue. . . . The ram is now lying in the river blowing off steam. I do not think, however that she will advance. Should she do so, however, I will endeavor to draw her down toward the fleet I shall now pay my respects to those gentlemen on the beach in the shape of a few shells."
C.S.S. Tallahassee, Commander Wood, ran out of Wilmington harbor, and after eluding several blockaders off the bar, embarked on one of the most destructive commerce raiding cruises of the war. This extemporaneous man-of-war," Jefferson Davis later wrote, ". . . soon lit up the New England coast with her captures. . . . " In the next two weeks Wood, whom Davis called an officer of extraordinary ability and enterprise," took or destroyed more than 30 ships.
7 Colonel Charles D. Anderson, CSA, commanding Fort Gaines at Mobile Bay, proposed the sur-render of his command to Rear Admiral Farragut. U.S.S. Chickasaw, Lieutenant Commander Perkins, had bombarded the fort the day before, and Anderson wrote: "Feeling my inability to maintain my present position longer than you may see fit to open upon me with your fleet, and feeling also the uselessness of entailing upon ourselves further destruction of life, I have the honor to propose the surrender of Fort Gaines, its garrison, stores, etc." Before 10 a.m., 8 August, the Stars and Stripes were flying over the works.
8 Sailors in the Civil War were often called upon to perform duties far removed from ordinary ship-board routine. This date, Rear Admiral Dahlgren wrote to the commanders of ships in the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron on the subject of naval infantry: "It has frequently happened that the peculiar nature of the duties in this command has required the service of bodies of men to be landed from vessels to act for a short time as infantry, assisted by light fieldpieces. In order to meet similar exigencies commanders of vessels will take pains to select from their crews such men as may seem to have a turn for this kind of duty and have them drilled with small arms until they have attained the necessary proficiency. . . . The light-infantry drill will be best adapted to this service, and to the habits of the seamen.
U.S.S. Violet, Acting Ensign Thomas Stothard, ran aground off the western bar at Cape Fear River, North Carolina, and was destroyed. Stothard and his men labored to keep Violet afloat for five hours, but seeing that the water was gaining, fired her magazine and abandoned the small wooden steamer.
Though the Union fleet under Rear Admiral Farragut controlled Mobile Bay and Forts Powell and Gaines were in Northern hands, Brigadier General Richard L. Page, formerly a U.S. naval officer and until recently a Commander in the Confederate Navy, gallantly refused to surrender Fort Morgan to the overwhelming forces opposing him. Federal naval forces took station in the Bay while troops began the land investment of Fort Morgan. After a brief bombardment, Farragut and Union Army commander Major General Gordon Granger advised page: "To prevent the unnecessary sacrifice of human life which must follow the opening of our batteries, we demand the unconditional surrender of Fort Morgan and its dependencies." Undaunted, the Confederate officer replied: "I am prepared to sacrifice life, and will only surrender when I have no means of defense." He was fighting his fort as he would have his ship.
Ram Tennessee, whose big guns had so valiantly sought to defend Confederate possession of Mobile Bay on 5 August, now in Union hands, bombarded Fort Morgan. Her log recorded: "At 10 a.m. having no steam up on this vessel, the U.S. gunboat Port Royal took us in tow down towards the Fort Morgan. Anchored between the Middle Ground and the fort and opened our battery upon the fort." At 10 p.m. Winnebago towed Tennessee back up to her anchorage.
Reflecting Union concern regarding the great strength of C.S.S. Albemarle, Rear Admiral Lee wrote to Commander Macomb, commanding off Albemarle Sound, of the measures to employ in the event of another engagement with her: "The Department is of the opinion that too light charges of powder were used in the engagement of May 5 with the Albemarle, and that the IX-inch with 13 pounds and the 100-pounder rifle with 10 pounds of powder can effect nothing, and that even using XI-inch guns the vessels should touch the ram while engaging her and the XI-inch guns be fired with 30 pounds of powder and solid shot."
Two resourceful members of the Confederate Torpedo Corps, John Maxwell and R. K. Dillard, planted a clockwork torpedo containing twelve pounds of powder on a Union transport at City Point, Virginia, causing a huge explosion which rocked the entire area. Maxwell and Dillard succeeded in getting through Union lines to the wharf area, where Maxwell convinced the trusting wharf sentry that he had been ordered by the captain of the ammunition barge to deliver a box on board. The box was accepted and the two Confederates hastily started back for Richmond. When the torpedo exploded an hour later, it set in motion a devastating chain reaction which spread the holocaust from the barges to storage buildings on shore and even to General Grant's headquarters. Grant hurried off a message to General Halleck in Washington: "Five minutes ago an ordnance boat exploded, carrying lumber, grape, canister, and all kinds of shot over this point. Every part of the yard used as my headquarters is filled with splinters and fragments of shell."
Lieutenant General Grant wrote to Rear Admiral Lee, in response to a question as to the useful-ness of the Union ironclads on the James River: . . . I think it would be imprudent to withdraw them. At least two such vessels, in my judgment, should be kept in the upper James. They stand a constant threat to the enemy and prevent him taking the offensive." From experience Grant well understood the vital part sea power played in the struggle between North and South, whether on the ocean, the Western rivers, or the restricted waters of the James. The General was a master at employing the unique advantages of strength based afloat in combined operations to overwhelm opposition.
Blockade running steamer Prince Albert went aground off Fort Moultrie at Charleston and was destroyed by U.S.S. Catskill, Commander Napoleon B. Harrison, and the Morris Island batteries.
10 Rear Admiral Farragut continued steady day and night bombardment, battering down the walls of Fort Morgan resolutely defended by his former shipmate, General Page.
Writing from Paris, Flag Officer Barron, reported to Secretary Mallory that all Confederate midshipmen except the Alabama's had been examined for promotion. Though its ships were few in numbers, the Confederacy continued an active and systematic training program for young naval officers. In his annual report to President Davis, Secretary Mallory stressed the value of training to the naval service: "Naval education and training lie at the foundation of naval success; and the power that neglects this essential element of strength will, when the battle is fought, find that its ships, however formidable, are but built for a more thoroughly trained and educated enemy. . . . While a liberal education at the ordinary institutions of learning prepares men for useful service not only in the Army, but in most branches of public affairs, special education and training, and such as these institutions cannot afford, are essential to form a naval officer." The Confederate Naval Academy, on board C.S.S. Patrick Henry in the James River, translated this active interest in proper naval training into concrete instruction, and provided trained officers to the Southern cause until her loss when Richmond fell in 1865.
Secretary Mallory wrote Commander Bulloch in Liverpool of the continuing importance of com-merce raiding to the Confederacy; "It seems certain that we can not obtain such ships as we specially want; but we must not therefore desist in our attempts and must do the best we can under the circumstances which surround us. The enemy's distant whaling grounds have not been visited by us. His commerce constitutes one of his reliable sources of national wealth no less than one of his best schools for seamen, and we must strike it, if possible" The Secretary's desires were to be carried out with even greater success than he had anticipated by C.S.S. Shenandoah.
One of the additional difficulties of naval operations in the lowlands surrounding the James River, Virginia, was the high incidence of sickness. This date, Flag Officer Mitchell, com-manding the Confederate James River Squadron, wired Major General George E. Pickett: "Our crews are so much reduced in number from sickness that we shall have to discontinue our picket guard at Osborne's on James River to enable us to man our batteries, in order that we may act against the enemy. About one-third of the men are sick." Later in the month, a board of sur-geons inspected the ships of the squadron with a view toward reducing the prevalence of malaria and other disabling diseases. The conclusions reached in the subsequent report illustrated the hazard of duty on board river gunboats: "We consider the causes of the great amount of sickness on board said vessels to be, first, and chiefly, that exposure to malaria, the necessary consequence of a residence upon the waters of James River; as secondary causes to this, but in our opinion highly conducive to the hurtful influence, we would enumerate the heated atmosphere of the ironclads, especially when at quarters for and during action, the want of proper exercise on shore, and of a deficient supply of vegetables and fruits for the ships' companies. Difficult living condi-tions and sickness were common, especially in the summer, for both navies in the James River as well as elsewhere throughout the tidewaters of the South.
10-11 Small steamers U.S.S. Romeo, Acting Master Thomas Baldwin, and U.S.S. Prairie Bird, Acting Master Thomas Burns, and transport steamer Empress engaged battery at Gaines Landing, Arkan-sas, on the Mississippi River which the Confederates had secretly wheeled into place. On 10 August, Empress had been attacked by the batteries, enduring a withering fire which disabled her and killed Captain John Molloy. Romeo closed, fired upon the Confederate guns, and towed Empress to safety. Next day, however, the Southerner's artillery again opened heavily on Prairie Bird which was passing the same point near Gaines Landing. Hearing the firing from upstream, Romeo came down and joined in the brisk engagement; the Confederates ultimately broke off the action and withdrew. All three ships were severely damaged in the two-day exchange, Empress alone taking some sixty-three hit.
Cruising within 80 miles of Sandy Hook, New Jersey, C.S.S. Tallahassee, Commander Wood, took seven prizes, including schooners Sarah A. Boyce and Carrol, brigs Richards and Carrie Estelle, cargo of logs, pilot boats James Funk (No. 22) and William Bell (No. 24), and bark Bay State, cargo of wood. All were scuttled or burned except Carrol, which was bonded for $10,000 and sent to New York with the passengers and crews of the other ships. Rear Admiral Hiram Paulding, Commandant of the New York Navy Yard, immediately wired Secretary Welles: "Pirate off Sandy Hook, capturing and burning." By evening, Paulding had three ships in pursuit of Tallahassee. Welles, hoping to head off the Southern raider and prevent another cruise similar to the June 1863 raid of Lieutenant Charles Read in C.S.S. Tacony, telegraphed naval commanders at Hampton Roads, Philadelphia, and Boston, ordering a large-scale search for Wood.
12 C.S.S. Tallahassee, Commander Wood, seized six more prizes while continuing her devastating cruise off the New York coast. Wood burned ships Atlantic, Adriatic, and Spokane, cargo of lum-ber; attempted to scuttle brig Billow, cargo of lumber, and released bark Suliote and schooner Robert E. Packer, cargo of lumber, on bond. Billow did not sink and was retaken by U.S.S. Grand Gulf, Commander Ransom, two days later.
Ram Tennessee got up steam for the first time since her capture by Rear Admiral Farragut on 5 August. She had been fitted with a new stack on the 11th and this date tried it out by steaming around the bay. On the 13th Tennessee steamed down and opened on Fort Morgan.
13 Reports of C.S.S. Tallahassee's destructive success created much alarm in northern seaports. This date, John D. Jones, president of the Board of Underwriters, wired Secretary Welles from New York: "Confederate steamer Tallahassee is reported cruising within 60 miles of this port. She has already captured six vessels. Will you please have the necessary measures taken, if not already done, to secure her capture?" Half an hour after receipt of this message, Welles replied: "Three vessels left New York Navy Yard yesterday afternoon; more leave to-day. Vessels left Hampton Roads last night; more leave today. Several vessels leave Boston today and tomorrow. Every vessel available has been ordered to search for pirate." In addition this date, Captain C. K. Stribling, Commandant of the Philadelphia Navy Yard, despatched three ships "in pursuit of the pirate." However, Tallahassee, Commander Wood, continued her "depreda-tions", burning schooner Lammot Du Pont, cargo of coal, and bark Glenavon.
U.S.S. Agawam, Commander Rhind, engaged three different Confederate batteries near Four Mile Creek on the James River. The 975-ton double-ender was fired upon early in the afternoon, countered immediately and maintained a heavy fire for over four hours when, "finding our am-munition running short, having expended 228 charges, we weighed anchor and dropped down." Next day Agawam again engaged the batteries, in support of Union troops advancing along the river.
Ships of the Confederate James River Squadron, including C.S.S. Virginia II, Fredericksburg, Commander Rootes, C.S.S. Hampton, Lieutenant John W. Murdaugh, C.S.S. Nansemond, Lieutenant Charles W. Hays, C.S.S. Drewry, Lieutenant William W. Hall, shelled Union Army positions near Dutch Gap, Virginia. At the request of the Confederate Army, Flag Officer Mitchell kept up the fire, intended to support Confederate troop movements in the area, for over 12 hours. The Union entrenchments, however, were largely beyond the range of his guns and hidden by hills. Union gunboats took position below the James River barricade; but their guns could not reach the ships of Mitchell's squadron. The Confederate fire was, however, returned briskly by Union shore emplacements. Mitchell ordered his ships to return to their anchorages at nightfall.
14 As all-out Union efforts to capture C.S.S. Tallahassee, Commander Wood, increased, the cruiser seized and scuttled ship James Littlefield with cargo of coal. Rear Admiral Paulding noted in New York: "Our vessels must fall in with her. They strip everybody of everything valuable."
15 Rumors concerning C.S.S Albemarle continued to reach Union naval forces in Albemarle Sound. Colonel David W. Wardrop, Union Army commander in the area, wrote to Commander Macomb: "I have received information from parties heretofore reliable that the enemy have been fitting up some of their boats with torpedoes, and are intending to attack the fleet in conjunction with the ram on Tuesday next. It is also confidently reported that a second ram will be done in a fortnight. They are very busy up the Roanoke River, but it is very difficult to learn what is being done. . . ."
Rear Admiral Farragut's fleet sustained its pounding of Fort Morgan with shot from its heavy guns. Typical of the action that took place in Mobile Bay from the time the ships dominated its waters on 5 August until General Page, the determined defender of Fort Morgan, finally capitulated was a log entry of U.S.S. Manhattan, Commander Nicholson: "At 7 [p.m.] opened fire on Fort Morgan. At 8 Fort Morgan opened fire on this ship and fired two shot. From 8 to mid-night: Continuing to fire on Fort Morgan; Morgan fired one shot at this ship. At 10:20 ceased firing having fired 7 XV-inch shell. Fort fired on our encampment on shore from 9 till end of watch."
C.S.S. Tallahassee, Commander Wood, captured and scuttled schooners Mary A. Howes, Howard, Floral Wreath, Restless, Etta Caroline, and bonded schooner Sarah B. Harris off New England.
U.S.S. Niagara, Commodore Thomas T. Craven, captured steamer Georgia off the coast of Portugal. Georgia was formerly C.S.S. Georgia, which had been sold to British merchants in June of 1864. American Ambassador to England Charles Francis Adams recommended that she be taken when she put to sea under private ownership because of her previously belligerent status. Georgia was later condemned by a prize court in Boston.
16 Ships of the James River Division, North Atlantic Blockading Squadron, transported and sup-ported Union troops in an advance from Dutch Gap, Virginia. Captain M. Smith described the supporting deployment: "The Mount Washington was detained to transport the troops from Dutch Gap to Aiken's [Landing], and to lie off that point and use her 32 pounder, holding herself ready to reembark troops if necessary. Just above her the Delaware, a little farther above the Mackinaw, and at the bend of Dutch Gap the Canonicus were stationed to cover the advance by shelling the enemy's line, the Canonicus also devoting attention to Signal Hill Battery." Through-out the long months of virtually stalemated operations in the James River area, naval forces operated intimately with the Army, facilitating the small advances that were made and checking reverses with the big guns that could swiftly be brought to bear on points of decision near the river.
C.S.S. Tallahassee, Commander Wood, captured and burned off New England bark P. C. Alexander, and schooners Leopard, Pearl, Sarah Louise, and Magnolia.
Boat expedition by Commander Colvocoresses, U.S.S. Saratoga, consisting of men from that ship and T. A. Ward, Acting Master Babcock, captured some 100 prisoners and a quantity of arms on a daring raid into Mcintosh County, Georgia. Commander Colvocoresses also destroyed a salt works and a strategic bridge across the South Newport River on the main road to Savannah.
17 General Robert E. Lee, attempting to consolidate his position on the James River below Rich-mond, turned to the ships of Flag Officer Mitchell's squadron for gunfire support. The enemy is on Signal Hill, fortifying," he telegraphed. "Please try and drive him off. Our picket line is reestablished with the exception of Signal Hill." Ironclads C.S.S. Virginia II, Lieutenant John-ston, and C.S.S. Richmond, Lieutenant J. S. Maury, promptly steamed to a position above Signal Hill where they took the Union position under fire. Shortly thereafter scouts reported that Union forces had fallen back and that Lee's troops now commanded the hill.
Running short of coal, Commander Wood headed C.S.S. Tallahassee for Halifax, Nova Scotia, where he hoped to refuel in order to continue his devastating attack on Federal commerce. En-route, Tallahassee destroyed schooners North America and Josiah Achom and released brig Neva on bond.
18 Attesting to the effectiveness of the patrol maintained on the Mississippi River by Union gun boats, Lieutenant General Richard Taylor, CSA, wrote General E. Kirby Smith, CSA, regarding the impossibility of crossing the river with large bodies of troops: "I have dispatched the War Department to the effect that I consider the crossing of any considerable body of troops impos-sible. Accurate observations have been made of the enemy's gunboats between Red River and Vicksburg, and from the strictness of the guard maintained no success can be anticipated." The original Northern strategy of splitting the Confederacy along the Mississippi River under the efforts of Rodgers, Foote, Farragut, and Porter continued in widening influence to war's end.
C.S.S. Tallahassee, Commander Wood, put into Halifax to replenish coal supply. U.S. Consul Mortimer M. Jackson wired Secretary Welles: "Tallahassee has just come into port. Will pro-test against her being coaled here." Welles, in turn, at once wired U.S.S. Pontoosuc, Lieutenant Commander George A. Stevens, which had put into Eastport, Maine, the preceding day, to steam to the Nova Scotia capital "without delay". Consul Jackson protested the sale of coal for the cruiser to Lieutenant Governor Richard G. MacDonnell, but was informed: ". . . his excellency does not consider it his duty to detain the Tallahassee, or any man-of-war of a belligerent state, on the chance of evidence being hereafter found of her having violated international law, and in the absence of proof to that effect he can not withhold from her commander the privilege of obtaining as much coal as may be necessary to carry him to a port of the Confederate States. MacDonnell, however, also asked Admiral Sir James Hope to advise him as to the amount of coal that would be required for Tallahassee to steam from Halifax to Wilmington. Next day, the Lieutenant Governor advised Wood, who had put into port with 40 tons of coal, that he could depart Halifax with no more than 100 tons of coal on board. However, the Confederate cruiser, which put to sea on the night of the 19th, sailed with somewhat more than that quantity. As Wood later reported: "I am under many obligations to our agent, Mr. Wier, for transacting our business, and through his management about 120 tons of coal were put aboard, instead of half this quantity."
20 U.S.S. Pontoosuc, Lieutenant Commander Stevens, entered Halifax. Stevens learned that Talla-hassee had sailed late the night before and that he had failed to intercept her by only seven hours. Pontoosuc departed immediately in pursuit. Based on information reported by Consul Jackson, Stevens steamed north into the Gulf of St. Lawrence, while Wood, feeling that he did not have sufficient fuel to actively pursue his raids, had set a course for Wilmington. This date, Talla-hassee captured brig Roan and burned her. She was the last prize taken on this brief but most effective cruise.
22-24 Boat expedition from U.S.S. Potomska, Acting Lieutenant Swann, captured prisoners and some small arms and destroyed over 2,000 barrels of rosin and turpentine on the Satilla and White Rivers, Georgia. Wherever water reached, Confederate supplies were fair game for alert Union sailors.
23 Having doggedly withstood naval bombardment for more than two weeks, and invested by Union soldiers ashore, Brigadier General Page surrendered Fort Morgan, the last Confederate bastion at Mobile Bay. "My guns and powder had all been destroyed, my means of defense gone, the citadel, nearly the entire quartermaster stores, and a portion of the commissariat burned by the enemy's shells," he reported. "It was evident the fort could hold out but a few hours longer under a renewed bombardment. The only question was: Hold it for this time, gain the eclat, and sustain the loss of life from the falling of the walls, or save life and capitulate?"
Acting Master's Mate Woodman made his second dangerous reconnaissance up the Roanoke River, North Carolina, to gather intelligence on C.S.S. Albemarle and the defenses of Plymouth. Woodman reported: "At 10 a.m. I arrived on the Roanoke River, opposite Plymouth. The ram Albemarle was lying alongside of the wharf at Plymouth, protected with timbers, extending com-pletely around her . . . ." Woodman, who would make yet another reconnaissance mission, gained much vital information upon which Lieutenant Cushing planned the expedition which ended Albemarle's career.
23-25 Boat expedition under Commander Colvocoresses, U.S.S. Saratoga, composed of men from Saratoga, U.S.S. T.A. Ward, Acting Master Babcock, and U.S.S. Braziliera, Acting Master Gil-lespie, engaged Confederate pickets along Turtle River, Georgia. The expedition aimed at the capture of an encampment at Bethel, Georgia, but the Confederates there were alerted by the firing downstream and escaped. On 15 September the daring and resourceful Colvocoresses was commended by Secretary Welles for his three successful forays into Southern territory.
24 U.S.S. Keystone State, Commander Crosby, and U.S.S. Gettysburg, Lieutenant R. H. Lamson, captured blockade running steamer Lilian, off Wilmington with cargo of cotton. Both Union ships fired on Lilian; when she finally hove to she was in a sinking condition. Crosby managed to repair the damage and sent her to Beaufort. She was subsequently purchased by the Navy and assigned to the squadron under the same name.
U.S.S. Narcissus, Acting Ensign William G. Jones, captured schooner Oregon in Biloxi Bay, Mis-sissippi Sound.
25 C.S.S. Tallahassee, Commander Wood, successfully ran the blockade into Wilmington, after being chased and fired at by several blockading vessels. Rear Admiral Lee issued orders urging "upmost vigilance" to prevent her re-entry onto the high seas. In his cruise, cut short by lack of coal, Wood took some 31 prizes, all but eight of which were destroyed.
Stirred by the heavy toll of Union shipping taken by C.S.S. Tallahassee, the Navy Department redoubled efforts to track down remaining raiders. Secretary Welles dispatched warships in search of Tallahassee and instructed: "Telegraph your arrival at each port you may enter to the Navy Department, but your departure therefrom need not be delayed in waiting for an answer, unless you consider an answer necessary. . . . Report the length of time under sail, under steam, and under both sail and steam, respectively; also all vessels spoken or boarded, and other incidents of interest or importance during the cruise.''
27 In failing health and with the assault on the city of Mobile delayed indefinitely awaiting adequate troops, Rear Admiral Farragut wrote Secretary Welles requesting to be relieved of his duties: "It is evident that the army has no men to spare for this place beyond those sufficient to keep up an alarm, and thereby make a diversion in favor of General Sherman. . . . Now, I dislike to make of show of attack unless I can do something more than make a menace, but so long as I am able I am willing to do the bidding of the Department to the best of my abilities. I fear, however, my health is giving way. I have now been down in this Gulf and the Caribbean Sea nearly five years out of six, with the exception of the short time at home last fall, and the last six months have been a severe drag on me, and I want rest, if it is to he had." Two months later the great leader set course to the North for a well earned leave.
U.S.S. Niphon, Acting Lieutenant Joseph B. Breck, and U.S.S. Monticello, Acting Master Henry A. Phelon, conducted an expedition up Masonboro Inlet, North Carolina, to silence a Confederate battery which was reported to have been erected in the vicinity. The two screw steamers shelled the shoreline and a number of buildings at Masonboro; landing parties went ashore and captured a quantity of rifles, ammunition, foodstuffs.
29 While removing Confederate obstructions from the channel leading into Mobile Bay, five sailors were killed and nine others injured when a torpedo exploded. Farragut regretted the unfortunate loss, but resolutely pressed on with the work: ''As it is absolutely necessary to free the channel of these torpedoes, I shall continue to remove them, but as every precaution will be used, I do not apprehend any further accident." Like the loss of Tecumseh, this event demonstrated that although some torpedoes had been made inactive by long immersion, many were very much alive when Farragut made the instant decision, "Damn the torpedoes .
30 Small stern-wheeler U.S.S. Fawn, Acting Master Grace, convoyed Union infantry and artillery embarked in transport Kate Hart, on an expedition up the White River from Devall's Bluff, Ar-kansas. The troops were to join with General West's cavalry, then searching for General Shelby's force of Confederate raiders. Fawn and the transport returned to Devall's Bluff on 2 September, and commenced a second foray with larger forces embarked in transports Nevada, Commercial, and Celeste that afternoon. Next day, above Peach Orchard Bluffs, Confederate batteries opened on the convoy, but were dislodged from their riverbank position by Fawn's gunfire. Unable to proceed water-borne because of the low level of the river, scouts and cavalry were sent ahead to communicate with General West, and returned, escorted by Fawn, to Devall's Bluff on 6 September. Shelby's forces continued to elude the Union troops and harass shipping on the White River.
31 Blockade running British steamer Mary Bowers ran aground between Rattlesnake Shoals and Long Island, South Carolina, and was a total loss. She was bound for Charleston where, it was reported, she was to load a cargo of cotton for Halifax.