Naval History of the Civil War November 1862

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Civil War Naval History


NOVEMBER 1862

1 U.S.S. Louisville, Lieutenant Commander Meade, captured steamer Evansville in the Mississippi River above Island No. 36.

U.S.S. Thomas Freeborn, Lieutenant Commander Magaw, captured three unnamed boats at Maryland Point, on the Potomac River; the boats were attempting to run goods across from Maryland to Virginia.

2 Rear Admiral D. D. Porter wrote Assistant Secretary of the Navy Fox seeking authority over the Ellet rams: "I am extremely anxious to get possession of Ellet's Rams; they are the class of vessels I particularly want at this moment. The old 'Pook Turtles' are fit only for fighting- they cannot get along against the current without a tow. . . . Do settle the Ram business, and let me know by telegraph. The Commander will have to be instructed, or he will not give them up. I have notified him that I will not permit any naval organization on this River besides the Mississippi Squadron. . . . Fox agreed with Porter and pressed the matter with the President. On 7 November the Assistant Secretary convinced President Lincoln that the Ellet rams belonged under control of the Navy. In a White House conference with Secretary of the Navy Welles, Secretary of War Stanton, and General Halleck, Lincoln transferred all war vessels on the Mississippi to the Navy. The action provided for greater efficiency of operations on the western waters.

C.S.S. Alabama, Captain Semmes, captured and burned whaling shipLevi Starbuck near Bermuda.

3 C.S.S. Cotton, Lieutenant Edward W. Fuller, and shore batteries engaged U.S.S. Calhoun, Kinsman, Estrella, and Diana in Berwick Bay, Louisiana. In this close and spirited action against heavy odds, Captain Fuller caused considerable damage to the Union squadron until exhaustion of cartridges forced Cotton to retire. Captain Fuller reported that the legs of the men's pants were cut off for use as improvised cartridge bags to fire parting shots as he withdrew.

Commander Henry K. Thatcher wrote Assistant Secretary of the Navy Fox about the Mediter-ranean cruise of historic U.S.S. Constellation and his request for additional ships on this station: "I feel a considerable degree of national pride in wishing our force here to be increased . . . for the prevailing opinion here, evidently is, that our country is not sufficiently strong to admit of withdrawing another vessel from the blockade. But the paramount object is that of the efficient protection of our commerce and citizens who are engaged in commercial pursuits and to be pre-pared, should any rebel cruisers venture into the Mediterranean."

U.S.S. Penobscot, Commander Clitz, destroyed blockade running British ship Pathfinder after forcing her aground off Shallotte Inlet, North Carolina.

4 The blockade continued to clench the Confederacy in an ever-tightening grip. Rear Admiral S.P. Lee, commanding the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron, advised Assistant Secretary of the Navy Fox: "There is no doubt that a large trade was carried on with Wilmington through Shallotte Inlet 25 miles below, & New Topsail Inlet 15 miles above Wilmington. I have shut both doors."

U.S.S. Jacob Bell, Acting Ensign George E. McConnell, captured and burned schooner Robert Wilbur in Nomini Creek, off the Potomac River.

U.S.S. Hale, Captain Alfred T. Snell, captured pilot boat Wave and an unnamed schooner in Nassau Sound, Florida.

U.S.S. Daylight, Acting Master Warren, and U.S.S. Mount Vernon, Acting Lieutenant Trathen, forced blockade running British bark Sophia aground and destroyed her near Masonboro Inlet, North Carolina.

U.S.S. Coeur de Lion, Acting Master Charles H, Brown, with U.S.S. Teaser and schooner S.H. Poole, evacuated Union families and their property from Gwynn's Island, Virginia.

5 U.S.S. Louisiana, Acting Lieutenant R.T. Renshaw, captured schooner Alice L. Webb at Rose Bay, North Carolina.

6 U.S.S. Teaser, Ensign Sheridan, captured sloop Grapeshot in Chesapeake Bay.

7 U.S.S. Potomska, Acting Lieutenant W. Budd, escorted Army transport Darlington up Sapelo River, Georgia. Potomska being unable to proceed far up river because of her draft, Budd trans-ferred to the Army vessel, which was engaged by Confederates at Spaulding's. Darlington, undamaged, continued up the Sapelo to Fairhope, where a landing party destroyed salt works "and other things that might be of use to the enemy." Taken under attack once again upon returning past Spaulding's, Darlington put forces ashore and destroyed public property and captured arms. 'We were greatly aided here by the Potomska," reported Lieutenant Colonel Oliver T. Beard, "which, from a bend below, shelled the woods. Under the guns of the Potomska we landed . . . I am greatly indebted to Lieutenant Budd for the success of this day."

U.S.S. Kinsman, Acting Master George Wiggin, and steamer Seger burned steamers Osprey and J.P. Smith in Bayou Cheval, Louisiana.

8 C.S.S. Alabama, Captain Semmes, captured and burned ship T.B. Wales southeast of Bermuda.

U.S.S. Resolute, Acting Master Tole, captured sloop Capitola at Glymont, Maryland. Capitola was carrying cargo and passengers across to Virginia in violation of the blockade.

9 Greenville, North Carolina, surrendered to joint Army-Navy landing force under Second Assistant Engineer J. L. Lay of U.S.S. Louisiana.

10 Commander Maury, enroute to Liverpool, England, wrote his wife from Halifax, Nova Scotia, that he had arrived after a "boisterous passage of 5 days from Bermuda" in which he and his 12-year old son suffered from sea sickness. "The steamer in which we came was quite equal in dirt and all uncomfortableness to that between Calais and Dover. . . . This is a place of 25 or 30,000 inhabitants. They are strongly 'secesh' here. The Confederate flag has been flying from the top of the hotel all day, in honor, I am told 'of our arrival'." Hand organs ground out Dixie all day under the window; Maury, world famous as "Pathfinder of the Seas," having run the blockade, was proceeding to England on a mission for the Confederacy.

11 U.S.S. Kensington, Acting Master Crocker, captured schooner Course off the Florida coast.

12 U.S.S. Kensington, Acting Master Crocker, captured British blockade runner Maria off the Florida coast.

14 Rear Admiral Farragut had sailed from the Mississippi River in August to base at Pensacola where his crews recuperated and repaired the ships preparatory to attacking Mobile. However, reports of growing Confederate fortifications on the river and other developments drew him back to the scene of his fame. On this date from on board U.S.S. Hartford at New Orleans he wrote Secretary of the Navy Welles: ''I am once more in the Mississippi River. I deemed that my presence here would be well, as the French admiral is here with two vessels at the city and a frigate at the bar; there is also an English corvette off the city, and we sailors understand each other better in many cases than landsmen. General Butler also informed me that he was operating very largely for his forces on the Opelousas, which was an additional reason for my entering the river. I enclose herewith Lieutenant-Commander Buchanan's report. He is commanding the naval forces cooperating with the army in Opelousas, and has already had two fights with the enemy's steamers and land forces. These little vessels require a sheet of boiler iron around them as a protection against musketry, when they would be able to run up the whole length of the river and catch all the boats in the branches. I called on General Butler for the purpose of ascertaining when he could give me a small force to attack Fort Gaines, and to notify him that when the Department wished it I would attack the forts and go through Mobile Bay without his assistance, but it would embarrass me very much not to have my communication open with the outside, and that with 1,000 men to menace Gaines in the rear I felt certain they would soon abandon both forts, once we got inside. He promised to assist in the operation as soon as General Weitzel returned from Opelousas, although he urges me to attack Port Hudson first, as he wishes to break up the rendezvous before we go outside. It will take at least 5,000 men to take Port Hudson. I am ready for anything, but desire troops to hold what we get. The general has really not half troops enough; he requires at least 20,000 more men to hold the places and do good service in this river and occupy Galveston, whither he proposes to send a regiment.

15 President Lincoln, with Secretaries Seward and Chase, drove to the Washington Navy Yard to view the trial of the Hyde rocket. Captain Dahlgren joined the group for the experiment. Though a defective rocket accidentally exploded, the President escaped injury.

16 U.S.S. T. A. Ward, Acting Master William L. Babcock, captured sloop G. W. Green and an unnamed seine boat at St. Jerome's Creek, Maryland, attempting to cross to the Virginia shore with con-traband.

17 U.S.S. Kanawha, Lieutenant Commander Febiger, and U.S.S. Kennebec, Lieutenant Commander John H. Russell, chased a schooner ashore near Mobile where she was set afire and destroyed by her crew. Union ships prevented Confederate coast guard from boarding the vessel to extinguish the flames. Of the effectiveness of the blockade in the Gulf, Rear Admiral Farragut noted: "Blockading is hard service, and difficult to carry on with perfect success . . . I don't know how many [blockade runners escape, but we certainly make a good many prizes.

U.S.S. Cambridge, Commander W. A. Parker, forced blockade running British schooner F. W. Pindar aground at Masonboro Inlet, North Carolina, and sent boat crew to destroy the vessel. The boat swamped and the crew was captured after firing the schooner.

Assistant Secretary of the Navy Fox wrote Major General Butler at New Orleans: "I think [General] MeClernand will be down your way near the last of December and if you and Farragut can open the Mississippi as far as Red River and block that leaky place, we shall be able with our Mississippi squadron to keep that big river open to commerce and New Orleans will rise from its lethargy."

18 C.S.S. Alabama, Captain Semmes, arrived at Martinique and was blockaded by U.S.S. San Jacinto Commander William Ronckendorff. In foul weather the evening of 19 November, Alabama evaded San Jacinto and escaped.

U.S.S. Monticello, Lieutenant Commander Braine, chased blockade running British schooners Ariel and Ann Maria ashore and destroyed them near Shallotte Inlet with cargoes of salt, flour, sugar, and lard.

19 U.S.S. Wissahickon, Lieutenant Commander John L. Davis, and U.S.S. Dawn, Acting Lieutenant John S. Barnes, engaged Fort McAllister on Ogeechee River, Georgia. Wissahickon was hit and temporarily disabled in the exchange of fire. Persistent and vigilant actions of this nature by the Union Navy pinned down Confederate manpower that could have been used in land actions else-where. Wissahickon and Dawn at this time had the mission of blockading C.S.S. Nashville in Ossabaw Sound, Georgia, and preventing her from becoming another commerce raider like C.S.S. Alabama.

20 U.S.S. Seneca, Lieutenant Commander Gibson, captured schooner Annie Dees running the blockade out of Charleston with cargo of turpentine and rosin.

U.S.S. Montgomery, Commander C. Hunter, captured sloop William E. Chester near Pensacola Bay.

Confederates at Matagorda Bay, Texas, captured boat crew from U.S. mortar schooner Henry Janes, Acting Master Pennington. The men were ashore to procure fresh beef for the mortar schooner.

22-24 Joint Army–Navy expedition to vicinity of Mathews Court House, Virginia, under Lieutenant Farquhar and Acting Master's Mate Nathan W. Black of U.S.S. Mahaska destroyed numerous salt works together with hundreds of bushels of salt, burned three schooners and numerous small boats, and captured 24 large canoes.

23 Landing party from U.S.S. Ellis, Lieutenant Cushing, captured arms, mail, and two schooners at Jacksonville North Carolina. While under attack from Confederate artillery, Ellis grounded on 24 November. After very effort to float the ship failed, Lieutenant Cushing ordered her set afire on 25 November to avoid capture. Cushing reported: "I fired the Ellis in five places and having seen that the battle flag was still flying, trained the gun on the enemy so that the vessel might fight herself after we had left her."

24 Boat from U.S.S. Reliance, Acting Master William P. Dockray, captured longboat New Moon, suspected of running the blockade on the Potomac River, off Alexandria.

U.S.S. Monticello, Lieutenant Commander Braine, destroyed two Confederate salt works near Little River Inlet, North Carolina.

U.S.S. Sagamore, Lieutenant Commander English, captured two British blockade runners, schooner Agnes and sloop Ellen, in Indian River, Florida.

25 U.S.S. Kittatinny, Acting Master Lamson, captured British blockade runner Matilda, bound from Havana to Matamoras.

26 U.S.S. Kittatinny, Acting Master Lamson, captured schooner Diana, bound from Campeche to Matamoras.

27 Rear Admiral Farragut wrote from his flagship at New Orleans: "I am still doing nothing, but waiting for the tide of events and doing all I can to hold what I have, & blockade Mobile. So soon as the river rises, we will have Porter down from above, who now commands the upper squadron, and then I shall probably go outside . . . We shall spoil unless we have a fight occasionally."

29 In late November Captain H. A. Adams was ordered to special duty at Philadelphia as coordinator of coal supply. All coal used in the U.S. Navy at that time was anthracite and came from the eastern district of Pennsylvania, being forwarded to Philadelphia either by rail or barge down the Schuylkill River. There it was loaded into coal schooners and sent to the various blockading squadrons. Before Captain Adams was ordered to this duty, squadron commanders had consider-able difficulty in keeping their ships supplied with coal and often had to borrow from the Army. To illustrate the amount of coal required by the squadrons, Rear Admiral Du Pont notified the Navy Department in mid-December that the consumption of coal in his South Atlantic Blockad-ing Squadron alone was approximately 950 tons a week.

U.S.S. Mount Vernon, Acting Lieutenant Trathen, captured blockade runner Levi Rowe off New Inlet, North Carolina, with cargo of rice.

30 C.S.S. Alabama, Captain Semmes, captured and burned bark Parker Cook off the Leeward Islands.