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Confederate military history; a library of Confederate States history (Volume 12) online

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academy was organized. The officers were: Capt.
William H. Parker, superintendent; Lieut. B. P. Loyall,
commandant of midshipmen; Lieut. W. B. Hall, pro
fessor of astronomy and navigation; Lieut. T. W.
Davies, assistant; Lieut. C. I. Graves, instructor of
seamanship; Lieut. J. W. Billups, assistant: Lieut.
W. V. Comstock, instructor in gunnery; Lieut. G. M
Peek, professor of mathematics; Lieut. George W.
Armistead, professor of physics; Lieut. Lewis Huck,
professor of English; Lieut. George A. Peple, professor
of French and German; Master Sauxey, professor of
infantry tactics and sword exercise.

The staff remained about the same to the conclusion of
the war. Capt. James H. Rochelle relieved Captain
Loyall in the fall, and Lieut. John P. McGuire reported
for duty as assistant professor of mathematics.

Until April 2, 1865, the school continued in operation,
the senior class of midshipmen graduating as past
midshipmen, and the new appointees being sent to the
schoolship. The exercises were occasionally interrupted
by the detachment of the senior class for pressing serv
ice, notably in the capture of the United States steamer
Underwriter, where Midshipman Saunders was killed;
iDUt upon the whole, satisfactory progress was made.
During the summer of 1864 constant drafts were made
upon the school, and the midshipmen served on board



the ironclads in the river, and in the trenches at Drew-
ry s Bluff. In the fall of that year they were again
assembled at the school, and exercises went on pretty
regularly during the winter.

When Richmond was evacuated, April 2, 1865, the
corps of midshipmen, numbering at the time some 60,
armed with rifles and well-drilled as infantry, was
selected by the authorities to take charge of the Confed
erate treasure. Suffice it to say, the duty was faithfully
performed. After traversing the State of South Caro
lina and reaching Augusta, Ga., the corps retraced its
steps to Abbeville, S. C., and on the 26. of May, 1865,
delivered the treasure intact to President Davis and his
cabinet at that place. It was the last act of the Confederate
States navy, and was marked by unparalleled devotion to
duty. It is recorded in another work by Capt. William H.
Parker, who commanded the corps: "Here I must pay a
tribute to the midshipmen who stood by me for so many
anxious days. Their training and discipline showed
itself conspicuously during that time. The best sentinels
in the world ; cool and decided in their replies ; prompt
in action, and brave in danger their conduct always
merited my approbation and excited my admiration.
During the march across South Carolina, footsore and
ragged, as they had become by that time, no murmur
escaped them, and they never faltered. On the izd of
May they were disbanded at Abbeville, S. C., far from
their homes. They were staunch to the last, and veri
fied the adage that blood will tell. Their officers [Cap
tain Rochelle, Lieutenants Peek, Armistead, McGuire,
Graves, Armstrong, Huck and Sauxey] I cannot say too
much for. From the time we left Richmond until we
disbanded, they set the example to the corps to obey
orders, with the watchword, Guard the treasure. I am
sure that Mr. Davis, and Mr. Mallory, if he were alive,
would testify to the fact that when they saw the corps in
Abbeville, wayworn and weary after its long march, it



presented the same undaunted front as when it left Rich
mond ; and that it handed over the treasure which had
been confided to it thirty days before, intact ; and that,
in my opinion, is what no other organization at that
time could have done.

The junior officers of the Confederate navy were an
exceptionally fine body of young men. The writer hav
ing been for two years the superintendent of the Con
federate naval academy, and previously an instructor
at the United States naval academy at Annapolis, is
capable of forming an opinion. The midshipmen of the
Confederate States navy representing the best blood of
the South showed extraordinary aptitude for the naval
service, and on every occasion distinguished themselves
in action. They were bold, daring and enterprising to a
degree. Many names could be cited ; but it is not neces
sary. Among the many midshipmen who were on board
the schoolship Patrick Henry in the two years the school
was in operation, the writer can hardly recall one who
had not the making of a good naval officer.

It would have been well for the Confederate navy if
the young lieutenants, passed midshipmen, and midship
men could have been elevated to more important com
mands. It is no derogation to the officers of the "old
navy" to assert this. Had the South been possessed of
a navy, so that the war could have been carried on on
the high sea against men-of-war, it would have been
different. Here professional education would have come
into play. This the young officers had not. But placed,
as they necessarily were, in command of river and canal
boats, the old officers recalling the well-constructed ships
they had served in, and the splendid body of trained
seamen they had commanded, were cramped in their
movements. This was logical. The young officers had
none of this feeling. They knew of nothing better, and
were ready to risk everything.



THE cruisers of the Confederate navy were the Sum-
ter, the Alabama, the Florida, the Shenandoah,
the Nashville, the Georgia, the Tallahassee, the
Chickamauga, the Clarence, the Tacony, the Stonewall
and the Olustee. These vessels were regular men-of-war
and must not be confounded with privateers. Professor
Soley says:

It is common to speak of the Alabama and the other
Confederate cruisers as privateers. It is hard to find a
suitable designation for them, but privateers they cer
tainly were not. The essence of a privateer lies in its
private ownership. Its officers are persons in private
employment ; and the authority under which it acts is a
letter-of-marque. To call the cruisers privateers is
merely to make use of invective. Most of them answered
all the legal requirements of ships-of-war. They were
owned by the government, and they were commanded
by naval officers acting under a genuine commission. . . .

A great deal of uncalled-for abuse has been heaped
upon the South for the work of the Confederate cruisers,
and their mode of warfare has been repeatedly denounced
as barbarous and piratical in official and unofficial publi
cations. But neither the privateers, like the Petrel and
the Savannah, nor the commissioned cruisers, like the
Alabama and the Florida, were guilty of any practices
which, as against their enemies, were contrary to the
rules of war.

The first man-of-war to get to sea under the Confeder
ate flag was the Sumter. She was a screw steamer of 500
tons, and had formerly been the Spanish steamer Mar
quis de Habana. She was strengthened, a berth deck
was put in, the spar deck cabins removed, and she was
armed with an 8-inch shell gun, pivoted amidships, and



four light 3 2 -pounders in broadside. On April 18, 1861,
Commander Raphael Semmes was ordered to the com
mand of her, with the following officers : Lieuts. John M.
Kell, Robert T. Chapman, John M. Stribling, and William
E. Evans ; Paymaster Henry Myers ; Surg. Francis L. Gait ;
Midshipmen William A. Hicks, Richard F. Armstrong,
Albert G. Hudgins, John F. Holden, and Joseph D. Wil
son ; Lieut, of Marines B. K. Howell ; Engineers Miles
J. Freeman, William P. Brooks, Matthew O Brien, and
Simeon W. Cummings; Boatswain Benjamin P. Mc-
Caskey; Gunner J. O. Cuddy; Sailmaker W. P. Beaufort,
Carpenter William Robinson, and Captain s Clerk W.
Breedlove Smith.

On the 3oth of June the Sumter sailed from the mouth
of the Mississippi, and although chased by the United
States steamer Brooklyn, got fairly to sea. Captain
Semmes cruised along the south side of the island of
Cuba, taking eight prizes, and thence went to Cienfuegos.
From there he cruised down the Spanish main, and on
the 1 3th of November anchored at St. Pierre, Martinique.
Here he was blockaded by the United States ship Iro-
quois for nine days, but on the night of the 23d he
adroitly made his escape, and crossed the Atlantic to
Cadiz, where he arrived January 4, 1862, taking several
prizes on the way. Not being permitted to coal, he
proceeded to Gibraltar, which port he reached on the
1 9th of January. Here he was blockaded by the United
States vessels Tuscarora, Kearsarge and Chippewa, and
it was decided to lay the ship up. The Sumter captured
1 7 vessels, of which 2 were ransomed, 7 were released in
Cuban ports, 2 were recaptured, and 6 were burned.

The second cruiser built in England for the Confeder
ates was the "290" or Alabama. The 290 was sent by
Capt. James D. Bulloch, the accomplished agent of the
Confederate government in England, to the Western isl
ands. The bark Agrippina took her armament and stores
there, and on August 24, 1862, she was commissioned by


Capt. Raphael Semmes, C. S. N. , with the following offi
cers: Lieuts. John M. Kell, Richard P. Armstrong,
Joseph D. Wilson, Arthur Sinclair, and John Low ; Surg.
Francis L. Gait; Asst. Surg. David H. Llewellyn; Pay
master Clarence R. Yonge; Lieut, of Marines B. K.
Howell; Engineers M. J. Freeman, William P. Brooks,
S. W. Cummings, Matthew O Brien, and John W. Pundt;
Midshipmen William H. Sinclair, Irvine S. Bulloch,
Eugene Maffitt, and Edwin M. Anderson; Master s Mates
George T. Fulham and James Evans; Boatswain B. P.
McCaskey ; Gunner J. O. Cuddy ; Carpenter William Rob
inson; Sailmaker Henry Alcott, and Captain s Clerk Will
iam B. Smith.

Captain Semmes first cruised off the Western islands
and the banks of Newfoundland, taking many prizes;
next off the coast of the United States, and on November
1 8th he anchored at Port of France, Martinique. From
Martinique he went to the Gulf of Mexico, capturing the
Pacific Mail company s steamer Ariel on the way. Arriv
ing off Galveston he decoyed the United States steamer
Hatteras from the fleet, engaged and sunk her in fifteen
minutes, and proceeded to Port Royal, Jamaica, with
his prisoners. Sailing from Port Royal, Semmes cruised
down the Brazilian coast, and on July 28, 1863, anchored
at Saldanha bay. For the remainder of the year he
cruised in the straits of Sunda, the China sea, and the
Bay of Bengal. From the time of leaving Port Royal to
April 27, 1864, the Alabama took some thirty prizes.

On the nth of June, 1864, she anchored at Cherbourg,
France, and on the igth she went out and engaged the
United States steamer Kearsarge, a vessel slightly her
superior. After an engagement of about one hour, the
Alabama was reduced to a sinking condition. Her loss
in killed, wounded and drowned was 40 ; the loss of the
Kearsarge was but i killed and 2 wounded. The surviv
ors of the Alabama were saved by her own boats and
those of the Kearsarge and the English yacht Deerhound.


Thus ended the career of this historic vessel. The
name of Semmes has become immortal. In two short
years he captured some seventy vessels, and swept the
seas of American commerce. Space precludes further
mention of the Alabama. The reader will find in Captain
Semmes "Service Afloat" a detailed and very valuable
account of his proceedings.

The Florida was the first of the commerce destroyers of
English origin. She was built at Liverpool in the fall
of 1 86 1. On the 226. of March, 1862, she cleared from
Liverpool under the name of the Oreto. She arrived at
Nassau April 28th, and was there delivered to Capt. John
N. Maffitt, C. S. N., who commissioned her under the
name of the Florida and fitted her out. Maffitt first went
to Cuba. Here the yellow fever broke out, and finding
himself without the necessary officers, men, and ord
nance stores, he determined to go to Mobile. He ran by
the blockading vessels under English colors, and anchor
ed under the guns of Fort Morgan, September 4, 1862.
t The Florida was here refitted, and on the night of Jan
uary 15, 1863, she successfully ran the blockade again,
and proceeded on a cruise. The following is a list of her
officers: Capt. John N. Maffitt; Lieuts. S. W. Averett,
J. L. Hoole, C. W. Read, and S. G. Stone; Midshipmen
R. S. Floyd, G. D. Bryan, J. H. Dyke, G. T. Sinclair, W. B.
Sinclair, and Robert Scott; Engineers John Spidell,
Charles W. Quinn, Thomas A. Jackson, and E. H.
Brown ; Surg. Frederick Garret son, and Paymaster Lynch.
Maffitt first cruised in the West Indies and then made
his way to the coast of Brazil, commissioning one of his
prizes, the brig Clarence, Lieut. C. W. Read, by the way.
On the 1 6th of July, Maffitt anchored at Bermuda, having
made 17 prizes, 14 of which he burned. From Bermuda
he went to Brest; and there, his health being broken,
relinquished the command to Lieut. Charles M. Morris,
C. S. N. Morris got to sea in January, 1864, and went
first to the West Indies and the coast of the United


States, capturing many prizes. In the summer of that
year he crossed the ocean to Teneriffe, and then to Bahia,
Brazil, where he anchored October 4th. He found here
the U. S. S. Wachusett; but confiding in the neutrality
of the port, he permitted his officers and men liberty to
visit the shore. On the night of October 6th the Florida
was treacherously captured by the Wachusett; and so
ended her cruise. She had made 37 prizes.

The Shenandoah was the last of the Confederate cruis
ers. She was bought by Captain Bulloch and sent to the
Desertas, an uninhabited island near Madeira. The offi
cers and stores were sent to the same place in the steamer
Laurel, and on October 20, 1864, the Shenandoah was com
missioned by Capt. James Iredell Waddell, with the fol
lowing officers : Lieuts. William C. Whittle, John Grim-
ball, S. Smith Lee, Francis T. Chew, and Dabney M.
Scales ; Acting Master I. S. Bulloch ; Engineers Matthew
O Brien, W. H. Codd, John Hutchinson, and Ernest
Mugguffeney; Surg. C. E. Lining; Paymaster Breedlove
Smith ; Passed Midshipmen O. A. Browne and John T.
Mason; Asst. Surg. F. J. McNulty; Master s Mates
C. E. Hunt, J. T. Minor, and Lodge Colton ; Boatswain
George Harwood; Carpenter J. O Shea; Gunner J. L.
Guy, and Sailmaker Henry Alcott.

Waddell first went to Australia, and there, in pursuance
of the plan projected by Com. John Mercer Brooke, C. S.
N. , proceeded to destroy the United States whaling fleet
in the North Pacific. On the 26. of August, 1865, Wad
dell learned of the collapse of the Confederacy, and
returned to England, where he delivered the ship to the
British naval authorities. The Shenandoah took 36

The Nashville was commissioned as a man-of-war in
the fall of 1 86 1 with Robert B. Pegram, C. S. N., as cap
tain ; Lieuts. Charles M. Fauntleroy, John W. Bennett,
and William C. Whittle; Master John H. Ingraham;
Surg. John L. Auchrim; Paymaster Richard Taylor;


Engineer James Hood, and Midshipmen Dalton, Sinclair,
Gary, Pegram, Hamilton, Thomas, and McClintoc. She
made a short voyage to England and back, in the course
of which she burned the ship Harvey Birch and the
schooner Robert Gilfillan. She was afterward engaged
as a blockade runner, and was eventually destroyed by the
United States monitor Montauk.

The Georgia was bought at Dumbarton, Scotland, for
the Confederate government. She was commissioned off
Ushant in April, 1863, by Com. William L. Maury, with
the following list of officers: Lieuts. R. T. Chapman,
Evans, Smith, and J. H. Ingraham; Passed Midshipman
Walker; Midshipman Morgan; Paymaster Curtis; Sur
geon Wheeden, and Chief Engineer Pearson. She cruised
in the Atlantic, ran over to the coast of Brazil, and
thence to the Cape of Good Hope. On the 28th of Octo
ber she anchored at Cherbourg, having taken 9 prizes.
Here Captain Maury turned over the command to Lieu
tenant Evans, but she made no other cruise.

The Tallahassee was the blockade runner Atlanta.
She was converted into a man-of-war, and on August 6,
1864, sailed from Wilmington, N. C., for a cruise off the
coast. Her officers were: Capt. John Taylor Wood;
Lieuts. W. H. Ward, M. M. Benton, and J. M. Gardner;
Master Alex Curtis; Engineers J. W. Tynan, C. H.
Leroy, E. G. Hall, J. F. Green, J. J. Lyell, H. H. Rob
erts, and R. M. Ross ; Paymaster C. L. Jones ; Asst. Surg.
W. L. Sheppardson ; Boatswain Cassidy ; Gunner Stewart ;
Master s Mate C. Russell, and Lieut, of Marines Crenshaw.
She cruised along the northern coast as far as Maine. On
the 1 8th of August, Wood anchored at Halifax, but
could only obtain coal enough to take the vessel back to
Wilmington. On the 25th she arrived at that pert, hav
ing in her short cruise burned 16 vessels, scuttled 10,
bonded 5, and released 2 a remarkable record.

The Chickamauga was the small blockade runner Edith,
She sailed for a cruise on the coast in the fall of 1864 un-


der Capt. John Wilkinson, C. S. N. She made a short
cruise, during which she captured 7 vessels.

The brig Clarence was captured by the Florida and
commissioned under Lieut. C. W. Read, C. S. N., on
May 6, 1863. Read proceeded to the coast of the United
States, and made his first prize off Cape Hatteras, the
bark Whistling Wind. He next took and burned the
Kate Stewart, Mary Alvina and Mary Schindler, and
bonded the Alfred H. Partridge. He then took the Tac-
ony and transferred his flag to her, burning the Clarence.
In the Tacony he sailed along the coast of New England,
capturing and burning 15 vessels. On June 25, 1863, he
transferred to the prize schooner Archer, burning the
Tacony. On the 2yth he entered the harbor of Portland,
Me., and cut out the revenue cutter Caleb Gushing. He
got out with his prize, but the enemy sent out an over
whelming force and recaptured her, making prisoners of
Read and his companions, who were sent to Fort Warren.
Read, whose name occurs so frequently in these pages,
was soon after exchanged. He was unquestionably one
of the greatest naval officers the country has ever pro

The Olustee was the steamer Chickamauga. She sailed
from Wilmington, October 29, 1864, under the command
of Lieut. William H. Ward, C. S. N. Ward made a short
cruise on the coast, capturing some seven prizes, and
returned to Wilmington about November yth.

The Stonewall was the ironclad ram Sphynx. She
was built in France, sold to Denmark, and transferred by
that country to Capt. Thomas Jefferson Page, C. S. N.
Page took her to the appointed rendezvous off Quiberon,
where she was met by the steamer City of Richmond
with stores. She was commissioned January 24, 1865,
with the following list of officers: Capt. T. J. Page;
Lieuts. Robert R. Carter, George S. Shryock, George A.
Borchert, E. G. Read, and Samuel Barron, Jr. ; Surg.
B. W. Green; Asst. Surg. J. W. Herty; Paymaster


R. W. Curtis; Engineers W. P. Brooks, W. H. Jack-
son, and J. C. Klosh; Master W. W. Wilkinson; Boat
swain J. M. Dukehart; Gunner J. B. King; Master s
Mate W. H. Savage, and Paymaster s Clerk William
Boynton. The Stonewall went to Corunna, and thence
to Ferrol, Spain, for repairs. She was blockaded by the
United States vessels Niagara and Sacramento. On the
24th of March Page steamed out of Ferrol, and defied the
two vessels to battle, which they ingloriously declined.
Page then crossed the ocean to Nassau and Havana. At
the latter port he learned of the end of the war, and deliv
ered his ship to the Spanish authorities.

This closes this short sketch of the Confederate cruisers.
As the Confederate government had no regular men-of-
war, its naval officers were restricted to commerce destroy
ing, a mode of carrying on hostilities neither chivalrous
nor romantic. As Professor Soley says : * Nor is it that
which a naval officer of the highest type would perhaps
most desire to engage in. " But the work was necessary;
and that it was well done, the pages of history will



IN this brief narrative it has been possible to give only a
general idea of the services of the Confederate navy.
We have seen that when the North made war upon the
Confederate States, the latter had actually no navy. Had
the same inequality existed on land, the war could not
have lasted a week! But incredible as it may appear, the
South in the four years war constructed a fleet of iron
clads equal to any in the world at that time. This fleet
comprised :

1. The Merrimac, of 10 guns two 7-inch Brooke
rifles, two 6.4-inch Brooke rifles, six 9-inch Dahlgren

2. The Louisiana, of 16 guns Brooke rifles of 7 and
6.4 inch caliber, and 8 and 9-inch Dahlgren smooth-bores.

3. The Manassas, a turtle-back ram one 68-pounder,

4. The Arkansas, of 10 guns two 8-inch columbiads,
four 6.4-inch rifles, two 9-inch Dahlgrens, and two 32-
pounders, smooth-bore.

5. The Palmetto State, of 4 guns one 8o-pounder
rifle, one 6o-pounder, and two 8-inch shell guns.

6. The Chicora, of 4 guns two 32 -pounders, rifled,
and two 9-inch shell guns.

7. The Richmond, of 4 guns one 7-inch Brooke rifle,
two 6.4-inch Brooke rifles, and one lo-inch smooth-bore.

8. The Virginia, of 4 guns one 7 -inch Brooke rifle,
two 6.4-inch Brooke rifles, and one lo-inch smooth-bore.

9. The Fredericksburg, of 4 guns two 6. 4-inch rifles,
one 1 1 -inch smooth-bore, and one 8-inch smooth-bore.

10. The Albemarle, of 2 guns two 7 -inch Brooke

11. The Atlanta, of 4 guns two 7-inch and two 6.4-
inch Brooke rifles.



12. The Tennessee, of 6 guns two 7 -inch and four
6.4-inch Brooke rifles.

13. The Savannah, of 4 guns probably two Brooke
rifles and two smooth-bores.

14. The Columbia, of 8 guns probably Brooke rifles
and smooth-bores.

15. The Charleston, of 6 guns four Brooke rifles
and two 9-inch Dahlgren shell guns.

1 6. The North Carolina, of 4 guns probably two
Brooke rifles and two smooth-bores.

17. The Raleigh, of 4 guns probably same as the
North Carolina.

1 8. The Georgia, of 7 guns smooth-bores and rifles.

19. The Milledgeville probably same as the Savan
nah. (Not completed when burned to prevent capture.)

20. The Neuse similar to the Albemarle, but burned
to prevent capture.

21. The Mississippi burned to prevent capture.
Pronounced by United States and Confederate States
naval officers the most powerful vessel in the world at
that time.

So much for the materiel. As for the personnel, Prof.
J. R. Soley testifies: "The personnel of the Confed
erate navy was distinguished by enterprise, originality
and resource, and to it were due some of the most gal
lant episodes of the war.

The wonderful feats of the Confederate army have so
overshadowed the Confederate navy that the present
generation may be surprised to read this tribute from the
pen of an enemy ; but if any reader is inclined to doubt
the audacity, the skill, the enterprise, or the ingenuity of
the Confederate naval officers, let him recall the follow
ing achievements:

i. Buchanan in the Merrimac, ramming the Cumber
land; and again in the Tennessee attacking, single-
handed, three monitors and a fleet of fourteen heavily-
armed men-of-war. 2. The small gunboats at the battle
of Hampton Roads. 3. Isaac N. Brown in the ram
Arkansas. 4. J. W. Cooke in the little Albemarle.
5. J. Taylor Wood s capture of the Satellite, the Reli-


ance, and the Underwriter. 6. Pelot s capture of the
Waterwitch. 7. Glassell s torpedo attack on the New Iron
sides. 8. Davidson s torpedo attack on the Minnesota.
9. Semnaes admirable management of the Alabama. 10.
Maffitt s dash at Mobile and his after exploits, n. Read
in the Tacony, and his dash in the Webb. 12. Capt.
John Wilkinson as a blockade-runner. 13. Brooke s de
sign for the Merrimac, and his rifle-gun. 14. Davidson s
torpedo bureau. 15. Catesby Jones cannon foundry.
1 6. Jackson s powder-mills. 17. Whittle s running the
Nashville from Beaufort to Georgetown, S. C. And let
it not be forgotten that the Southern naval officers devel
oped the two great offensive and defensive weapons, the
ram and the torpedo.






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