Lewis Randolph Hamersly.

The records of living officers of the U. S. navy and Marine corps: with a history of naval operations during the rebellion of 1861-5, and a list of the ships and officers participating in the great battles online

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Online LibraryLewis Randolph HamerslyThe records of living officers of the U. S. navy and Marine corps: with a history of naval operations during the rebellion of 1861-5, and a list of the ships and officers participating in the great battles → online text (page 33 of 42)
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Admiral C. K. Stribling. During the year many armed incursions were made
into the interior of Florida, destroying a number of salt works, and in this
way inflicting serious injury upon the enemy.

Several successful expeditions against the enemy were dispatched by Acting
Rear Admiral Stribling, in the early part of the year 1865. In July, 1865,
Acting Rear Admiral Stribling hauled down his flag as Commander-in-Chief of
the Eastern Gulf Blockading Squadron, which had been merged into the Gulf

Rear Admiral Stribling received from the Department a letter, expressing its
appreciation of his services while in command of the East Gulf Squadron.


On the night of the 12th of April, 1861, Captain H. A. Adams, of the frigate
Sabine, and senior officer on the Pensaoola blockade, in pursuance of orders he
had previously received, landed a party of United States troops, under Captain
Vogdes, and the marines of the squadron, under Lieutenant Cash, for the pur-
pose of reinforcing Fort Pickens. The expedition was under the charge of Com-
mander Charles H. Poor, assisted by Lieutenant Smith, of the Brooklyn, Lieu-
tenant Newman, of the Sabine, and Lieutenant Belknap, of the St. Louis. The
service was performed without accident or disorder. The Brooklyn, Captain
Walker, and the Wyandotte, Lieutenant-Commanding Mullany, carried the
landing party to the designated spot with accuracy, notwithstanding the darkness
of the night..

On August 3d, 1861, one of the tenders of the U. S. steamer South Carolina,
then blockading off Galveston, while returning from a cruise to the southward,
was fired upon from two rebel batteries. The fire was returned in the most
gallant manner ; and after exchanging a few passing shots, the tender reported
the fact to Captain Alden, of the South Carolina, which vessel was lying only
three miles off. Captain Alden, knowing the defenceless condition of the
town, believed the whole affair was the result of misunderstanding or accident.
He therefore waited all day for some explanation on the part of the authorities,
but none came.

On the contrary, steam was gotten up on the General Rusk, a large ocean
steamer, which had been for some time preparing for sea; and other demonstrations
satisfied Captain Alden that, so far from their volunteering explanations, they
were ready, and indeed wanted a brush. He therefore, about 4 P. M., got
under way and stood down towards the batteries. This movement of the
South Carolina was the signal for the General Rusk to get under way, but the
South Carolina turning to give chase, she steamed back with all speed. A few
minutes later the Rusk attempted, the second time to run out, but this being
unsuccessful, she was content to return and watch the result out of harm's way.


The South Carolina now resumed her original course and stood direct for the
batteries, and was no sooner in range than they opened their fire upon her.
After exchanging some dozen or fifteen shots with them, Captain Alden with-
drew, satisfied that he was doing more injury to the city, or perhaps to unoffending
citizens, than to the batteries, or those who sought the collision. The firing of
the enemy was so extremely bad, that not a shot touched the South Carolina.
On the 5th of August, the Consuls of Foreign Powers saw fit to send a docu-
ment to Captain Alden, protesting against what they termed the bombardment
of Galveston without due notice to the non-combatanta.

Captain Alden, in reply, recited the facts given above, which he deemed a suf-
ficient answer, and in concluding very pertinently said : " I must respectfully
remark, that it is the first time that I ever heard that the women and children,
or unarmed citizens of one of our towns, were under the protection of foreign

On the night of September 13th, 1861, an expedition was fitted out from
the frigate Colorado, flag-ship, consisting of the first launch and first, second and
third cutters, under the command of Lieutenants Russell, Sprotson and Blake,
and Midshipman Steece, respectively, assisted by Captain Reynolds of the
Marine corps, Assistant Surgeon Kennedy, Assistant Engineer White, and
Midshipmen Forrest and Higginson. The whole force detailed was about one
hundred officers, sailors and marines. The object of the expedition was the
destruction of a schooner which lay ofl' the Pensacola Navy Yard, supposed to
be fitting out as a privateer, and the spiking of a gua in battery in the south-
east end of the yard.

The- attack was made on the morning of the 14th, at half-past three o'clock.
The schooner was moored to the wharf, armed with a pivot and two broad-
side guns, under the protection of a battery and field piece. The crew were
prepared to receive their assailants, pouring in a volley of musketry as the
boats neared the vessel. After a desperate resistance, they were driven from
the deck of the schooner on to the wharf, where they rallied and were joined by
the guard, a continual fire upon the attacking party being kept up. In the
meantime the vessel was set on fire in several places, and while burning was
freed from her moorings, and drifted down opposite Fort Barrancas, where she

Of the party assigned to attend to the spiking of the gun, only Lieutenant
Sprotson and Gunner Boreton were able to find it, the party becoming separated
in the darkness. Fortunately only one man was found in charge of the gun,
and he immediately leveled his piece at Lieutenant Sprotson, but was shot
down by Gunner Boreton before he could obtain correct aim, both pieces
exploding simultaneously. The gun, a X-inch columbiad, was immediately
spiked, and the officers returned to their boat.

The object of the expedition was accomplished in the short space of fifteen
minutes, and the whole force of the enemy being aroused, the assailants pulled
away, and when a short distance from the shore fired six charges of cannister
from their howitzers into the yard.

This brilliant affair was not unattended with loss of life. Boatswain's Mate
Charles H. Lamphere, and John R. Hemig, seaman and captain of howitzer,
were killed by shots from the cross-trees of the schooner ; and Marine John
Smith, the first man to board the schooner, and who behaved most gallantly,
having lost his distinguishing mark, was killed by one of the attacking party.
Captain Reynolds received a severe contusion on his shoulder, and Midshipman
Higginson had the end of his thumb shot off. Lieutenants Russell and Blake
were each grazed by one or more musket balls.


On tlie night of the 7th of November, 1861, aa expedition, eonf<isting of
the first and second launches, under command of Lieutenants James E. Jouett
and John J. Mitchell, accompanied by Mr. William Carter, gunner, and Acting
Master's Mate Charles W. Adams, left the frigate Santee, then blockading off
Galveston bar, Texas, for the purpose of surprising and burning the man-of-war-
steamer General Rusk, lying under Pelican Island Fort. The expedition entered
the harbor at 11.40 P. M., and succeeded in passing the armed schooner guard-
ing the channel, and the Bolivar and Point Forts, without discovery, but unfor-
tunately grounded on the Bolivar spit, and at this juncture was discovered.

Lieutenant Jouett, deeming it imprudent, after this discovery, to encounter a
vessel so large and so heavily armed and manned, determined to abandon that
portion of the expedition. In returning, he boarded, and after a sharp conflict
captured the armed schooner Jioyal Yacht. Several stands of arms, thirteen
prisoners, and the rebel colors were captured. As the pilot of the expedition
had been shot down, and the schooner had received a shell between wind and
water, Lieutenant Jouett did not deem it advisable to bring her out. He there-
fore burned her, after spiking the gun, a light 32-pounder. After this, the
party returned to the ship. Lieutenant Jouett and Mr. William Carter, gunner,
were seriously wounded, as were six men, one mortally, who afterward died.
Flag-officer MoKean, upon receiving intelligence of this affiiir, issued a general
order, to be read on the quarter-deck of every ship of the squadron, thanking
the officers and men who composed the expedition, and expressing his conviction
" that their names will be enrolled by a grateful country among those who in
former years have shed so bright a lustre upon the American navy."

On the afternoon of the 25th of March, 1862, two rebel steamers were dis-
covered at Pass Christian. The New London, Lieutenant-Commanding Abner
Reed, the blockading vessel, got under way immediately, and stood for that
place, approaching as near as practicable on account of shoal water. The
rebel boats approached within two thousand yards, when the engagement com-
menced, the New London beginning the action on finding the enemy not disposed
to come near her. The fight lasted one hour and fifty minutes, during which time
the New London fired over one hundred and sixty shots of all kinds. The
steamers of the enemy engaged were the Oregon and Pamlico ; they were struck
several times; the New London was not hit during the action. After the
engagement, the enemy left for the lakes. The New London remained on the
ground until they were out of sight, and then returned to Ship Island.

On the 3d of February, 1862, Captain D. G. Farragut sailed from Hampton
PkOads, in the steam-sloop Hartford, to assume the duties of Flag-officer of the
Western Gulf Blockading Squadron. In addition to the ordinary blockade duties,
he was especially charged with the reduction of the defences guarding the
approaches to New Orleans, and the taking possession of that ,city. In his con-
fidential instructions, he was informed that a fleet of bomb-vessels and armed
steamers enough to manage them all, under command of Commander David D.
Porter, would be directed to report to him. A large force of vessels, consisting
of many of the best frigates and sloops in the service, recently fitting out at
the various navy yards, had received orders to report to him at Key West.
Eighteen thousand troops, under the command of Major General Benjamin F.
Butler, were to co-operate with the West Gulf Blockading Squadron. Flag-
officer Farragut arrived at Ship Island on the 20th of February, having been
detained some time at Key West, and at once commenced active preparations
for the attack on the defences of New Orleans. Much difliculty was experi-
enced in getting the larger vessels over the bar, and in the case of the frigate
Colorado, it was found impossible. On the 16th of March, the mortar vessels com-


menced the bombardment of ^ort Jackson assisted occasionally by tbe gunboats.
On the 1st of April, Flag-officer Farragut detailed a force to cut and destroy the
chain and raft across the river, and this hazardous undertaking was successfully
carried through by Captain Bell, assisted by Lieutenant-Commanding Crosby, in
the Pinolii, and Lieutenant-Commanding Caldwell, ia the Itasca. On the 23d of
April, 1862, Flag-officer Farragut made his final preparations for the attack on
and passage of Forts Jackson and St. Philip. Every vessel was as well prepared
as the ingenuity of her commander and officers could suggest. Chief Engineer
Moore, of the Kiohmond, originated the idea of stopping the sheet-cables up
and down on the sides of the ships in the line of the engines, which was
immediately adopted by all the vessels. Each commander made his own ar-
rangements for protecting the boilers or machinery, by coal, bags of ashes and sand,
naval clothes bags, and in fact by every device imaginable. The bulwarks were
lined with hammocks by some, by splinter-nettings made with ropes, by others.
Some rubbed their vessels over with mud, to make them less visible. Lieutenant
Cummings, the esecutive officer of the Richmond, made the valuable suggestion
that white-washing the decks would give the men sufficient light in a night
attack, and obviate the necessity of using lanterns, which were targets for the
enemy to fire at.

At 2 o'clock, A. M., April 24th, signal was made to get under way, but
owing to the great difficulty in purchasing their anchors, the Pensacola and
some of the other vessels were not under way until half-past three. The ves-
sels then advanced in two columns, Captain Bailey leading the right and the
advance in the gunboat Cayuga, he having been assigned to the first division of
gunboats, which consisted of the Cayuga, Lieutenant-Commanding Harrison;
the Oaeida, Commander Lee; Varuna, Commander Boggs; Katahdin, Lieu-
tenant-Commanding Preble ; Kineo, Lieutenant-Commanding Ransom, and
Wissahiofcon, Lieutenant-Commanding Albert Smith, supported by the steam-
sloops Pensacola, Captain Blorris, and Blississippi, Commander M. Smith.
This division was to attack Fort St. Philip. The second division of the
column was led by the flag-ship Hartford, followed by the Brooklyn, Captain
Craven, the Richmond, Commander Aldea, and the second division of gunboats,
led by Fleet Captain Bell, in the Sciota, Lieutenant Commanding Donaldson,
followed by the Iroquois, Commander De Camp ; Kennebeck, Lieutenant-Com-
manding Russell; Pinola, Lieutenant-Commanding Crosby; Itasca, Lieutenant-
Commanding Caldwell, and Winona, Lieutenant-Commanding Nichols, in the
order named.

The enemy's lights, while they discovered the vessels to them, were at the
same time guides to the squadron, which soon passed the barrier chains, the
right taking Fort St. Philip, and the left Fort Jackson. As the fire became
general, the smoke grew so dense that it was very difficult to distinguish friends
from foes. Commander Porter had, by previous arrangement, moved up to
a certain point on the Fort Jackson side with his gunboats, while his mortar
vessels, assisted by the sloop of war Portsmouth, engaged the water batteries to
the south and eastward of Fort Jackson, and poured a terrific fire of shells into
it. A fire-raft was discovered coming down upon the Hartford, and in attempt-
ing to avoid it the ship was run on shore, where the rebel ram Manassas, which
had not previously been seen, pushed the raft down upon the flag-ship, which
was soon on fire half way up to her tops ; she was backed ofi', and through the
good organization of the fire department, and the great exertions of Captain
Wainwright and his first lieutenant, officers and crew, the fire was extinguished.

In the mean time the battery of the Hartford was pouring its missiles of
death into Fort St. Philip, which was soon silenced, with the exception of a gun


now and tten. By this time the enemy's gunboats, thirteen in number,
besides two iron-okds, the Manassas and Louisiana, had become visible ; they
were taken in hand, and in a short time eleven of them V7ere destroyed. The
fleet was now fairly past the forts, and the victory was won. Several gun-
boats were still making resistance. Two of them had attacked the Varuna, which
vessel, by her greater speed, was in advance of her consorts ; they ran into her
and caused her to sink, but not before she had destroyed her advers.aries j and
when the Hartford passed, the wrecks of the three vessels were lying side by side.
Just as the scene appeared to be closing, the ram Manassas was observed coming
up at full speed, to attack the Hartford. Flag-officer Farragut directed Captain
Smith, in the Mississippi, to turn and run her down. The order was instantly
obeyed by that vessel turning and going at her at full speed. But when
within fifty yards of each other, the ram put her helm hard aport and ran ashore ;
the Mississippi poured two broadsides into her, and sent lier drifting down the
river a total wreck. This closed the morning's fight.

Captain Bailey had preceded the flag-ship up to the quarantine station, and
had captured the Chalmette regiment. By order of Flag-officer Farragut, the
officers and men were paroled the same day. Owing to the slowness of some
of the vessels, and want of knowledge of the river, the fleet did not reach the
English turn until about 10 A. M. on the 25th. The fleet was now formed in
two columns as before. Captain Bailey was still far in advance, not having
noticed the signal for close order, which was to enable the slow vessels to come
up ; they opened on him a galling fire from the Chalmette batteries, but the
larger vessels soon came to his assistance, and ranged in one after another,
delivering their broadsides with such telling efiect that the batteries were
silenced and the rebel troops driven out.

The fleet then passed up to the city and anchored immediately in front of it.
Captain Bailey was sent on shore to demand the surrender of New Orleans from
the authorities. The Mayor replied that the city was under martial law.
General Lovell, who was present, said he would surrender nothing; but in order
to free the city from embarrassment, he would restore the authorities, and retire
with his troops, which he did. All the steamboats lying at the levee were
seized and sent down to quarantine for General Butler's forces. The levee of
New Orleans was one scene of desolation. Ships, steamers, cotton, coal, etc.,
were all in one common blaze, and the ingenuity of the squadron was much
taxed to avoid the conflagration.

Flag-officer Farragut then pushed on to Carrollton, eight miles above, where
there were two other forts which were found deserted.

On the 28th of April, Forts Jackson and St. Philip, after a bombardment of
one hundred and forty-four consecutive hours, by the mortar flotilla, surrendered
to Commander David D, Porter.

On the 29th, General Butler reached New Orleans, and made arrangements
for bringing up his troops, which were soon afterward in full possession of the
city. Flag-officer Farragut sent an officer on shore, who hoisted the American
flag on the custom-house, and hauled down the Louisiana State flag from the city
hall. A force of seven vessels, under command of Captain Craven, were sent
up the river to keep up the panic as far as possible. A detachment of the
smaller vessels, under Commander Lee, were sent as high as Vicksburg. Flag-
officer Farragut, in his official report, tendered his thanks to Captains Bailey and
Bell, the division commanders, for the gallant, cordial and efficient manner in
which they performed the part assigned them in the capture of New Orleans.
Secretary Welles addressed congratulatory letters to Flag-officer Farragut and


Commander David D. Porter, and these officers and their commands received
the thanks of Congress.

Commander Palmer arrived off Baton Eouge, with the Iroquois, IMay 7th, and
demanded its surrender; the conditions to be the same as at New Orleans.
The authorities declining to yield the city voluntarily, Commander Palmer pro-
ceeded abreast of the arsenal, landed a force and took possession of the same
tosether with other public property, and hoisted the national flag. Commander
S.'P. Lee, commanding the advance of the squadron, arrived near Vioksburg,
May 18th, and demanded the surrender of the place. The demand was defiantly
decUned, by both the civil and military authorities. Commaudor Lee ordered
the removal of the women and children beyond the reach of harm, so that
it might be at his option to fire or not fire, as he thought proper, upon the
defences of the town without causing the loss of innocent life. Uear Admiral
Farragut arrived a few days afterward, accompanied by a column of troops,
under General Williams. Subsequently an additional military and naval force,
including the mortar flotilla, was brought up, and preparations were made for
attacking and passing the batteries. These batteries were placed on the heights
of Vicksburg, scarcely within reach of the guns of the squadron, and were sup-
ported by a large army in the rear.

On the 28th of June, the mortar vessels commenced the bombaidment The
batteries were silenced by the combined fire of the squadron and flotilla at
times; but there being an insuf&cient land force to co-operate, the insurgents
returned to their guns.

On the 2d of July, Flag-officer Davis, the commander of the Mississippi
flotilla, with a force of gunboats and several mortar vessels, joined Rear Admi-
ral Farragut above Vicksburg. On the 15th of July, the rebel ram Arkansas
came out of the Yazoo river, and passed through the fleets of Farragut and
Davis, and took refuge under the batteries of Vicksburg. Flag-officer Farra-
gut, with his vessels, passed down the river, with the determination of destroy-
ing the ram if possible. But by delays in getting in position, it was so dark
when he reached the town, that nothing could be seen but the flashes of the
guns, so that the vessels were obliged to go down and anchor, to protect the
transports, etc.

Returning, Flag-officer Farragut reached New Orleans July 28th, and leaving
an adequate force at that place and Baton Rouge, sailed again on the 11th of
August, for Ship Island and Pensacola. The latter place having been evacu-
ated by the rebels, it had been made the depot of the West Gulf Squadron.

While the iron-clad Essex and the gunboats Kineo, Katahdin and Sumpter
were lying ofi' Baton Rouge, a vigorous attack was made by the insurgents,
August 5th, on the command of General Williams, occupying that place, and
its recapture attempted by a largely superior force, led by General Breckin-
ridge, late Vice President. The gunboats were immediately placed in position
to give assistance, if required. The relative positions of the forces were such
that the gunboats could not, with safety, be made available to the troops until
late in the day, when they poured a fire into the rebels' left wing, which caused
them to withdraw in haste, and fall back several miles. A simultaneous attack
by land and water appears to have been the design of the enemy. The rebel
ram Arkansas, which was to have taken part in it, removed a short distance
above Baton Rouge, and the next morning the Essex, Commander AVilliam
Porter, proceeded up the river and encountered her, and after a short engage-
ment the Arkansas was abandoned, and blown up.

About the middle of September, Acting Volunteer Lieutenant J. W. Kit-
tridge, of the bark Arthur, took possession of Corpus Christi. A little later,



Acting- iMaster Francis Crocker, commanding the steamer Kensington, captured
the defences of Sabine city, and took possession thereof.

On the 4th of October, Commander William B. Kenshaw, of the steamer
"Westfield, with that vessel, the Harriet Lane, Owasco and Clifton, captured the
defences of the harbor and city of Galveston, there having been only a feeble

The gunboats and transports passing up and down the Mississippi were
annoyed by frequent attacks from guerillas and concealed batteries. In many
instances tjiese attacks were made from villages, the parties engaged in them
presuming that the fire would not be returned, to endanger innocent life. To
check the practice, it became necessary, after giving due notice, to fire upon
and destroy to some extent the towns from which the attacks were made.

On New Year's day, 1863, the gunboats blockading Galveston, were attacked
by four rebel vessels. The Harriet Lane, after a desperate resistance, was car-
ried by boarding. Commander Wainwright was killed on the quarter-deck,
and hid executive officer, Lieutenant-Commander Lee, was mortally wounded.
The steamer Westfield, in going to the assistance of her consort, grounded, and
to prevent her falling into the hands of the enemy, Commander Renshaw blew
her up, that officer. Lieutenant Zimmerman, Chief Engineer Green, and nearly
a dozen men perishing with her.

On the 11th of January, the United States steamer Hatteras, a purchased
vessel, Lieutenant H. C. Blake commanding, was sunk by the piratical steamer
Alabama, oflf the Coast of Texas. The Hatteras was one of the blockading
vessels off Galveston, and had been ordered to chase the steamer, which after-
ward proved to be the Alabama.

In March, 1863, Rear Admiral Farragut, with a strong force of vessels,
moved up the Mississippi, intending to attempt the passage of the Port Hudson
batteries. Only his own vessel, the Hartford, and the steamer Albatross were suc-
cessful. With them he approached Vicksburg and opened communication
with Acting Rear Admiral Porter, of the Mississippi Squadron, and General
Grant, both of whom were operating against Vicksburg.

The navy now had control of the river between Vicksburg and Port Hudson,
and was enabled to establish a blockade of Red river, and thus intercept the

Online LibraryLewis Randolph HamerslyThe records of living officers of the U. S. navy and Marine corps: with a history of naval operations during the rebellion of 1861-5, and a list of the ships and officers participating in the great battles → online text (page 33 of 42)