Civil War Naval History
1 The positions of the opposing forces on this date demonstrated vividly what superiority afloat had meant to the North in this giant struggle that decided the future of the nation. From his over-flowing advance bases on the James at City Point, only a few miles from General Lee's lines, General Grant was on the move for the final battle of the long saga in Virginia.
To the south in North Carolina backed by his seaport bases at New Bern and Wilmington, General Sherman's massive armies were joined to strike General Johnston at the capital city, Raleigh. In South Carolina and Georgia, Charleston and Savannah, key ports from colonial times, were Union bases fed from the sea.
Far down on the Gulf of Mexico General Canby, with 45,000 soldiers brought and supplied by transports, Jay at the gates of the crumbling defenses of Mobile manned by 10,000 Confederates under General Dabney Maury.
Although constantly under attack by guerrillas along the Mississippi and its eastern tribu-taries, Federal gunboats kept the river lifeline open to the occupying armies. Trans-Mississippi, still largely held from invasion by the Confederates, was tightly blockaded by the Union Navy. Without control of the water, to paraphrase John Paul Jones, alas! united America. Fortunate indeed was the nation to have men ashore like Lincoln and Grant who made wide use of the irreplaceable advantages to the total national power that strength at sea imparted.
C.S.S. Shenandoah, Lieutenant Waddell, put into Lea Harbor, Ascension Island, (Ponape Island, Eastern Carolines). A number of sail had been sighted from the cruiser's decks as she approached the island, and, Waddell reported,". . . we began to think if they were not whale ships it would be a very good April fool." The Confederates had sighted only one vessel between 20 February, shortly after departing Melbourne, and this date. They were not disappointed. Waddell found whalers Pearl, Hector, Harvest and Edward Carey in the harbor and seized them. The Confederates obtained vital charts from the four ships showing the location of the whaling grounds most fre-quented by American whalers. "With such charts in my possession," Waddell wrote, "I not only held a key to the navigation of all the Pacific Islands, the Okhotsk and Bering Seas, and the Arctic Ocean, but the most probable localities for finding the great Arctic whaling fleet of New England, without a tiresome search.'' In addition to obtaining this intelligence and the charts essential to future operations, Waddell stocked Shenandoah's depleted storerooms with provisions and supplies from the four prizes. The ships were then drawn upon a reef where the natives were permitted to strip them from truck halyards to copper sheathing on the keels. Of the 130 pris-oners, 8 were shipped on board Shenandoah; the remainder were set ashore to be picked up by a passing whaler. The four stripped vessels, totaling $116,000 in value, were then put to the torch.
Fighting gamely on all fronts, the South also inflicted maritime losses elsewhere. U.S.S. Rodolph, temporarily commanded by her executive officer, Acting Ensign James F. Thompson, struck a torpedo in the Blakely River, Alabama, and "rapidly sank in 12 feet of water." The tinclad was towing a barge containing apparatus for the raising of U.S.S. Milwaukee, a torpedo victim on 28 March. Acting Master N. Mayo Dyer, Rodolph's commanding officer, reported that "from the effects of the explosion that can be seen, I should judge there was a hole through the bow at least 10 feet in diameter. . . . " Four men were killed as a result of the sinking and eleven others were wounded. Rodolph, the third warship in five days to be lost in the same vicinity due to effective Confederate torpedo warfare, had played an important role in the continuing combined operations after the fall of Mobile Bay to Admiral Farragut on 5 August 1864. Arriving in the Bay, from New Orleans on 14 August, she had participated in forcing the surrender of Fort Morgan on 23 August. Acting Master's Mate Nathaniel B. Hinckley, serving on board Rodolph, told his son many years after the war that he had carried the Confederate flag from the captured fort and turned it over to a patrol boat. Rodolph had remained in the Bay and its tributaries as Union seapower projected General Canby's powerful army against the final defenses of the city of Mobile. Hinckley was stationed in the tinclad's forecastle when she struck the torpedo that sank her, but he escaped injury.
The development of torpedoes had been encouraged by Matthew Fontaine Maury, John Mercer Brooke and others early in the war. Had the Confederate government at this time perceived the all-embracing influence of the Union Navy in combined operations, it would have vigorously developed this strange new weapon. The early use of torpedoes could have greatly, perhaps decisively, delayed the devastating joint operations. Successive Confederate disasters at Hatteras Inlet and at Port Royal, in the sounds of North Carolina and in the Mississippi Valley, and at New Orleans, shocked Richmond into action. Losses eventually became severe for the Union Navy, but they were too late to affect the outcome.
A Federal naval officer writing soon after the war summarized this development: "With a vast extent of coast peculiarly open to attack from sea; with a great territory traversed in every part by navigable streams . . . the South had no navy to oppose to that of the Union-a condition which, from the very commencement of the struggle, stood in the way of their success, and neu-tralized their prodigious efforts on land. Their seaports were wrested from them, or blockaded, fleets of gunboats, mostly clad with iron, covered their bays and ascended their rivers, carrying dismay to their hearts, and success to the Union cause . . . Under such a pressure, the pressure of dire distress and great necessity, the rebels turned their attention to torpedoes as a means of defense against such terrible odds, hoping by their use to render such few harbors and streams as yet remained to them inaccessible, or in some degree dangerous to the victorious gunboats."
1-2 As spring blossomed in Virginia, General Grants powerful army, outnumbering Lee's several times, unleashed its final attack. On 1 April he outflanked Lee's thin lines southwest of Petersburg in the battle of Five Forks. He ordered an all-out assault on Petersburg along the entire front for the 2nd. Union batteries fired all night preparing for the attack and Fort Sedgwick's heavy fire again earned it the nickname ''Fort Hell.'' Porter's fleet made a feint attack. The Confederates fought fiercely in Petersburg throughout the 2nd, but one by one the strong points fell. That night Lee withdrew.
Mrs. Lincoln had returned to Washington on River Queen on 1 April. The President embarked in Malvern with Porter. His ''bunk was too short for his length, and he was compelled to fold his legs the first night,'' but Porter's carpenters remodeled the cabin on the sly, and the second morn-ing Lincoln appeared at breakfast with the story that he had shrunk ''six inches in length and about a foot sideways." During the evening of the 2nd the two sat on the upper deck of the ship listening to the artillery and musket fire ashore as General Grant's troops, having rendered Richmond untenable with a crushing victory in the day long battle at Petersburg, closed in on the Confederate capital. Lincoln asked the Admiral: ''Can't the Navy do something at this particu-lar moment to make history?" Porter's reply was a tribute to the officers and men throughout the Navy who all during the war made history through vital if often unheralded deeds: "The Navy is doing its best just now, holding the enemy's four [three heavy iron-clads in utter use-lessness. If those vessels could reach City Point they would commit great havoc. . . . Grant's position on the Petersburg Richmond front had long depended on holding City Point where water borne supplies could be brought. The Federal fleet maintained this vital base.
2 Supporting General Sherman in North Carolina, Commander Macomb reported to Porter: "In obedience to directions contained in your letter of the 28th ultimo, I started yesterday evening from Plymouth with the Shamrock, Wyoming, Hunchback, Valley City, and Whitehead and proceeded up this river as far as the Stumpy Reach (about 10 miles from the mouth), where we came to anchor for the night. We had proceeded this far without dragging for torpedoes, in order to make quicker time (the river being broad and not suitable for torpedoes), but on starting this morning we dragged the channel ahead of us, in which manner we advanced all day, and reached this place about 5 p.m. without having encountered any resistance or finding any torpedoes . . . I have brought up with me three large flats, with which I can ferry the regiment over. I left orders at New Berne for the Commodore Hull and Shokokon to join me as soon as possible.
"On Our way up the river this morning we were overtaken by three canal boats loaded with troops (which had come from Norfolk, I believe), which followed us up and are now lying along the western shore, the troops having debarked on that side." He concluded with a request for coal for the warships. Happily, two coal schooners from Philadelphia arrived at New Bern that same day and were soon enroute to him. Coal was a problem all during the war. Without bases for supply on the Confederate coast the Union Navy could not have carried out its ceaseless attacks and blockade.
2-4 Secretary of the Navy Mallory ordered the destruction of the Confederate James River Squadron and directed its officers and men to join General Lee's troops then in the process of evacuating Richmond and retreating westward toward Danville. As Mallory left Richmond with Davis and his cabinet late at night on the 2nd, the train passed over the James River. Later, as a prisoner of war at Fort Lafayette, the Secretary reflected on his thoughts at that time: ''The James River squadron, with its ironclads, which had lain like chained bulldogs under the command of Rear Admiral Raphael Semmes to prevent the ascent of the enemy's ships, would, in the classic flash of the times, 'go up' before morning . . . ; and the naval operations of the Confederacy east of the Mississippi would cease.''
Mallory's orders to destroy the squadron were carried out by Semmes. After outfitting his men with arms and field equipment, the admiral burned and scuttled the three formidable ironclads, C.S.S. Virginia No. 2, Fredericksburg, and Richmond near Drewry's Bluff. By 3 a.m. on 3 April the ironclads were well afire, and Semmes placed his 400 men on the wooden gunboats. Semmes later wrote: "My little squadron of wooden boats now moved off up the river [to Richmond], by the glare of the burning iron-clads. They had not proceeded far before an explosion, like the shock of an earthquake, took place, and the air was filled with missiles. It was the blowing up of the Virginia [No. 2], my late flag-ship The spectacle was grand beyond description Her shell-rooms had been full of loaded shells. The explosion of the magazine threw all these shells, with their fuses lighted, into the air. The fuses were of different lengths, and as the shells ex-ploded by twos and threes, and by the dozen, the pyrotechnic effect was very fine. The explosion shook the houses in Richmond, and must have waked the echoes of the night for forty miles around."
Semmes disembarked his men at Richmond, then put the torch to the gunboats and set them adrift. The naval detachment, seeking transportation westward out of the evacuated Confederate capital, was forced to provide its own. The sailors found and fired up a locomotive, assembled and attached a number of railroad cars, and proceeded to Danville, arriving on the 4th. Semmes was commissioned a Brigadier General and placed in command of the defenses that had been thrown up around Danville. These defenses were manned by sailors who had been organized into an artillery brigade and by two battalions of infantry This command was retained by Semmes until Lee's surrender at Appomattox.
3 Fifty of the sixty Midshipmen at the Confederate Naval Academy, under the command of Lieu-tenant William H. Parker, escorted the archives of the government and the specie and bullion of the treasury from Richmond to Danville. There, Midshipman Raphael Semmes, Junior, was detached from the escort corps and detailed to the staff of his father. The Midshipmen Corps continued to he entrusted with this select guard duty during subsequent moves of the archives and treasury to Charlotte, North Carolina; Washington, Georgia; Augusta, Georgia; and finally to Abbeville, South Carolina (see entries for 8-11,17-19, and 24-29 April). The ten Midshipmen who remained in Richmond under the command of Lieutenant James W. Billups, CSN, fired and scuttled C.S.S. Patrick Henry, schoolship of the Naval Academy.
3-4 As General Lee withdrew from the lines he had so long and brilliantly held, the Federal fleet sought to move on with the Army into Richmond; however, many hazards lay in the course. Rear Admiral Porter had ordered: "Remove all torpedoes carefully and such of the obstructions as may prevent the free navigation of the river, using our torpedoes for this purpose if necessary. Be careful and thorough in dragging the river for torpedoes and send men along the banks to cut the wires.''
Sweeping for the torpedoes (mines) was conducted by some 20 boats from 10 ships in the flotilla. Lieutenant Commander Ralph Chandler, directing the sweeping operations, gave detailed orders: ''Each boat's bow laps the port quarter of the boat just ahead and will lap within the 2 or 3 feet of her. Each vessel will send an officer to take charge of the two boats. Lieutenant Gillett of the Sangamon, and Lieutenant Reed, of the Lehigh, will have charge of shore parties to keep ahead of the boats and cut all torpedo wires. The wires should he cut in two places. Lieutenant Gillett will take the right bank going up and Lieutenant Reed the left. Twenty men from the Monadnock will be detailed for this service and will be armed as skirmishers with at least twenty rounds of ammunition. Two pairs of shears should be furnished the shore parties. The officer in charge will throw out the pickets, leaving two men to follow the beach to cut the wires. With the upper river cleared of torpedoes and obstructions, Union ships steamed up to Richmond.
3-6 General Lee, in his hardpressed and hurried evacuation of Richmond, neglected to apprise Commodore John R. Tucker, commanding the Confederate Naval Brigade at Drewry's Bluff on the James River, of the projected evacuation of the capital. Tucker maintained his station until the 3rd when he saw the smoke from the burning ironclads and learned that Confederate troops were streaming out of Richmond. Tucker then joined the Naval Brigade to Major General Custis Lee's division of Lieutenant General Richard S. Ewell's corps. The brigade participated in Ewell's rear guard stand at Sailor's Creek on 6 April which was intended to cover the westward retreat. The Naval Brigade was captured along with Ewell's entire corps but was the last unit in the corps to surrender. Tucker tendered his sword to Lieutenant General J. Warren Keifer. Some years after the war, when Keifer had become a prominent member of Congress, he returned the sword to the ex-Confederate naval officer.
4 Rear Admiral Porter accompanied President Lincoln up the James River to Richmond on board flagship Malvern. When obstructions blocked the flagship's way, the two embarked in Porter's barge, with three aides and boat crew of twelve. Thus, in a single small boat under oars, sig-nificantly by water, the President reached the Southern capital that for four years had been so near for conquest by the Union armies, yet had so long been held safe by the remarkable Lee and his hard fighting armies.
''It was a mild spring day. Birds were singing in the orchards on either side of the river, and the trees were in bloom. As the party pulled up the river they saw a wide curtain of smoke rise the horizon ahead. Richmond was on fire. On evacuating the city the Confederates had fired their magazines and warehouses of cotton and tobacco; and bursting projectiles had dropped over the town, setting fire to a wide swath of dwellings and buildings in the business district.
"The party landed about one block above Libby Prison. Porter formed ten of the sailors into a guard. They were armed with carbines. Six marched in front and four in rear, and in the middle with the President and the Admiral walked Captain Penrose, Lincoln's military aide, Captain Adams of the Navy, and Lieutenant Clemens of the Signal Corps. Lincoln with his tall hat towered more than a foot above the thick-set Admiral, whose flat seaman's cap emphasized his five feet seven inches. The President ''was received with the strongest demonstrations of joy.'' In his report to Secretary Welles, Porter wrote; ''We found that the rebel rams and gunboats had all been blown up, with the exception of an unfinished ram, the Texas, and a small tug gun-boat, the Beaufort, mounting one gun.
The ships destroyed included the 4 gun ironclads Virginia No. 2, Richmond, and Fredericksburg; wooden ships Nansemond, 2 guns; Hampton, 2 guns; Roanoke, 1 gun; Torpedo, Shrapnel, and school-ship Patrick Henry. "Some of them are in sight above water, and may be raised," Porter wrote. "They partly obstruct the channel where they are now, and will either have to be raised or blown up. He added: "Tredegar Works and the naval depot remain untouched." With its James River Squadron destroyed and its capital evacuated, the Confederacy was certain to fall soon. As Vice Admiral Farragut, who had preceded the President and Porter to Richmond, said: "Thank God, it is about over.
General Canby requested Rear Admiral Thatcher to provide assistance in the form of ''eight or ten boats . . . and fifty or sixty sailors to row them" for the purpose of moving troops to assault Batteries Tracy and Huger, part of Mobile's defenses. The Admiral agreed to supply the boats but noted: "To send sixty men in these boats to row them will be nearly a load for them, at least they will be nearly filled with their own crews, so that an assaulting party would find but little room in them, particularly as our vessels are all small and their boats proportionally so. I would therefore respectfully suggest that your assaulting party be drilled at the oars."
A naval battery of three 30-pounder Parrott rifles, seamen manned and commanded by Lieutenant Commander Gillis, the former captain of the torpedoed monitor Milwaukee, was landed on the banks of the Blakely River to join in the bombardment of Spanish Fort, the Confederate strong point in the defense of Mobile. General Canby reported that the ''battery behaved admirably.'' (See 8 April.)
5 Steamer Harriet DeFord was boarded and seized in Chesapeake Bay, 30 miles below Annapolis, Maryland, by a party of 27 Confederate guerrillas led by Captain T. Fitzhugh. A naval detachment under Lieutenant Commander Edward Hooker was sent in pursuit and found Harriet DeFord trapped in Dimer's Creek, Virginia, burned to the water's edge A captive reported that a pilot had taken the steamer into the creek and that she went aground several times. Some of the cargo was thrown overboard to lighten the ship and the remainder was unloaded with the help of local farmers before the torch was put to the steamer.
Commander Macomb steadily pushed up the narrowing Chowan River and its tributaries pre-paring for General Sherman's move north. This date he reported from ''Meherrin River, near Murfreesboro, N.C.'' near the Virginia border and fat inland: ''The steamer Shokokon arrived at Winton yesterday, and I have stationed her a short distance below here near an ugly bluff some 60 or 80 feet high, on which I thought the rebels might give us some trouble on our return. There were some rifle pits on the brow of this bluff, but I sent a party down there and had them filled up. There is also an old earthwork, made to mount six guns, a short distance below here, which I have had partially destroyed. The river is rather narrower than the Roanoke, but not quite so crooked. I got 50 men (soldiers) from Winton to hold the bluff till we have passed, the river being very crooked and narrow at this point, so much so that we are unable to steam by, but will have to warp the ship round."
6 Acting Lieutenant John Rogers, commanding both U.S.S. Carondelet and Eastport, Mississippi, station, wrote Brigadier General Edward Hatcher about joint operations in the area and expressed a desire to cooperate to the extent of his ability: ''. . . if you are in danger of being attacked by the Enemy . . . send timely notice to us, that everything connected with the Army and Navy may work harmoniously together." From the early moments of the war, such as the Battle of Belmont (see 7 November 1861), to the last days of conflict, the usual close coordination of the Army and Navy enabled the Union to strike quickly and effectively in the West– first against Confederate positions and later against Confederate threats.
Lieutenant Commander Ramsay indicated the extent of the Confederate underwater defences of the James River as he reported to Rear Admiral Porter on an expedition aimed at clearing out the torpedoes: ''All galvanic batteries were carried off or destroyed. At Chaffin's Bluff there was a torpedo containing 1,700 pounds of powder. At Battery Semmes there were two, containing 850 pounds each, and at Howlett's one containing 1,400 pounds. I cut the wires of them all close down, so that they are now perfectly harmless.''
7 Commander Macomb reported to Rear Admiral Porter on developments in North Carolina near the Virginia border: ''We arrived here [Winton] from Murfreesboro last night without accident. The army force has returned and we are going back to Suffolk. They found Weldon too strong for them, but succeeded in cutting the Seaboard Railroad near Seaboard for about a mile. I shall lie here some time longer in order to be ready for any more troops that may wish to cross."
8 Invested by General Canby's troops and bombarded heavily by the big guns of Rear Admiral Thatcher's ships, Spanish Fort and Fort Alexis, keys to Mobile, finally fell. In reporting the cap-ture to Secretary Welles, Thatcher noted the efficiency of the naval battery on shore under Lieutenant Commander Gillis. He added: "Eighteen large submerged torpedoes were taken by our boats from Apalachee or Blakely River last night in the immediate vicinity of our gunboats. These are the only enemies that we regard." The loss of half a dozen vessels near Mobile since Tecumseh was sunk in August 1864 during Admiral Farragut's celebrated battle, which gave the Union control of Mobile Bay, had taught Northern naval officers an unforgettable lesson about torpedo warfare. The Confederate defenders, who suffered heavy casualties during the siege of the forts, were supported by a squadron under Flag Officer Ebenezer Farrand, including C.S.S. Nashville, Morgan, Huntsville, Tuscaloosa, and Baltic (see 11-12 April).
8-11 Lieutenant W. H. Parker, commander of the Midshipmen who were escorting the Confederate archives and treasury, arrived in Charlotte, North Carolina, from Danville (see 3 April) and deposited the important cargo in the Confederate Mint located in that city. While awaiting further orders, Parker learned that a Union cavalry detachment was nearby and since the city was without military protection, the naval officer, on his own initiative, prepared to move the archives and treasury southward. He added the uniformed personnel of the local Navy Yard to his escort, bringing its numbers up to 150 and drew quantities of provisions from the naval warehouse. Parker offered the protection of his command to Mrs. Jefferson Davis, who had only recently arrived in Charlotte, and strongly urged that she accompany him southward. Mrs. Davis accepted Parker's offer, and on the 11th the Navy-escorted entourage bearing the archives, treasury, and first lady of the Confederacy set out from Charlotte (see 17-19 April).
9 General Lee met General Grant at Appomattox Court House and formally surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia. Rear Admiral Semmes and his naval brigade charged with the defense of Danville were included in the surrender. Lee's struggle to break free from Grant's overwhelm-ing armies, well fed and supplied from City Point, had failed. His effort to join Johnston, hope-fully far enough from the sea to limit Grant's logistic advantage, had come fatefully to the end. One of the greatest armies and leaders of history without an adequate Navy had succumbed to the united power of land and sea.
The contrast between the two Generals at the confrontation in the living room of the McLean House was most striking. Grant's mud splattered uniform was that of a private with only the shoulder straps of a Lieutenant General to designate his rank. His uniform was unbuttoned at the neck and was unadorned by either sword or spurs. Lee on the other hand had taken special pains for this last act of the drama as if dressing for execution. His uniform was immaculate, his jewel studded sword of the finest workmanship. His well-polished boots were ornamented with red stitching and set off by a handsome pair of spurs.
After conversing about their Mexican War experiences, Lee asked the terms upon which his surrender would be accepted. Grant replied: ''The terms I propose are those stated substantially in my letter of yesterday, that is, the officers and men surrendered to be paroled and disqualified from taking up arms again until properly exchanged, and all arms, ammunition and supplies to be delivered up as captured property." Lee agreed to the terms and Grant then wrote them out. He specifically provided that Confederate officers would be permitted to retain their side arms, horses and luggage. This exemption was further broadened, at Lee's suggestion, to permit the men in the ranks to retain their horses and mules. Lee observed that these exemptions "were very gratifying and will do much toward conciliating our people." The long, bitter war was ending ashore, although fiery drama still awaited in far off Northern seas.
Blockade runner Chameleon (formerly C.S.S. Tallahassee), Lieutenant Wilkinson, put into Liver-pool, England. With the fall of both Fort Fisher and Charleston in January and February respec-tively, Wilkinson had been unable to deliver his cargo of provisions destined for General Lee's destitute army defending Richmond (see 19 January and 5 February). Sealed off from the Con-federacy, Wilkinson off-loaded his cargo at Nassau, took on board extra coal and set a course for Liverpool with the intention of turning the ship over to Commander Bulloch. However, the news of the fall of Richmond reached England on the 15th, followed a week later by the news of General Lee's surrender at Appomattox. Thus, the ship was seized by the British government and her officers and men, reported Wilkinson, ''were turned adrift with the wide world before them where to choose." Wilkinson established his residence in Nova Scotia where he lived for a number of years before eventually returning to his native Virginia. The ex-Confederate ship was subsequently sold by the English government and was being prepared for service in the merchant marine under the name Amelia when the American government initiated court action to gain possession of the vessel. The court awarded the ship to the United States and she was turned over to the American consul at Liverpool on 26 April 1866.
10 Brigadier General Schimmelfennig, upon retiring from command of Charleston District, wrote Rear Admiral Dahlgren, commanding the South Atlantic Squadron, commending the Navy for its ''hearty and most efficient assistance. He added: ''When my troops advanced on to the enemy's ground, your gunboats and ironclads were up the rivers and creeks, covering my flanks, entirely regardless of the enemy's fire within most effective range. Under its cover I safely retreated, when necessary, over marshes and creeks without losing a man.''
11 President Lincoln issued a proclamation warning nations that the continued denial of privileges and immunities to American naval vessels in foreign ports would result in the United States taking like action against foreign warships. "In the view of the United States," wrote the President, no condition can he claimed to justify the denial to them [U.S. naval ships] by anyone of such nations of customary naval rights . . . ." This document disputing the validity of any view attributing belligerent status to American warships was to be the President's last proclamation dealing with the Navy.
U.S.S. Sea Bird, Acting Master Ezra L. Robbins, seized sloops Florida and Annie with cargoes of cotton off Crystal River, Florida. Both were subsequently destroyed.
11-12 Batteries Tracy and Huger, up the Blakely River from Spanish Fort, fell to the Union forces on the 11th and the Confederate troops retreated through Mobile to Meridian, Mississippi. U.S.S. Octorara, with Commodore Palmer embarked, and the ironclads proceeded up the Blakely River to its intersection with the Tensas River and steamed down the latter to Mobile where they took bombarding position in front of the city. The gunboats, meanwhile, were conveying 8,000 troops across the head of the bay for the final attack on Mobile. The city, having been evacuated by the retreating Confederates, was surrendered to the Federal forces by the Mayor. Secretary Welles extended the Navy Department's congratulations to Rear Admiral Thatcher and Major General Grange ''for this victory, which places in our possession, with but one exception, all the chief points on the Southern coast, and bids fair to be the closing naval contest of the rebellion.'' Before the evacuation of the city, ironclads C.S.S. Huntsville and Tuscaloosa were sunk in Spanish River. C.S.S. Nashville, Baltic, and Morgan sped up the Tombigbee River to avoid capture. With the Stars and Stripes raised over Mobile, the Union ironclads steamed upriver in pursuit of the Confederate ships (see 28-29 April).
12 Commander Bulloch, Confederate naval agent in England, wrote Secretary Mallory that wherever possible he had ordered all work on naval accounts stopped and that he intended to transfer the remainder of his outstanding balance to the account of the Confederate Treasury Department. Like the Confederate government itself, after a long and gallant effort the Southern Navy was going out of existence.
Having completed preparations for sailing from Lea Harbor, Lieutenant Waddell made his fare-well call on the local ''king" with whom he had become friendly. ''His majesty," Waddell recorded, asked, "what was to be done with our prisoners. He supposed they would all be put to death, as he considered it right to make such disposition of one's enemies. "I told him they would not be harmed, and that in civilized warfare men destroyed those in armed resistance and paroled the unarmed. "But," said his Majesty, "war cannot be considered civilized, and those who make war on an unoffending people are a bad people and do not deserve to live."
"I told the king I would sail the following day, the 13th of April, and should tell our President of the kind hospitality he had shown to the officers of the Shenandoah and the respect he had paid our flag. "He said, 'Tell Jeff Davis he is my brother and a big warrior; that (we ate) very poor, but that our tribes are friends. If he will send your steamer for me, I will visit him in his country. I send these two chickens to Jeff Davis (the chickens were dead) and some cocoanuts which he will find good.'"
13 After Appomattox, Confederate resistance elsewhere rapidly gave way. From the North Carolina Sounds, Commander Macomb reported: "The rebels have evacuated Weldon, burning the bridge, destroying the ram at Edwards Ferry, and throwing the guns at Rainbow Bluff into the river. Except for torpedoes the [Roanoke] river is therefore clear for navigation. The floating battery, as I informed you in my No. 144, has got adrift from Halifax and been blown up by one of their own torpedoes."
U.S.S. Ida, Acting Ensign Franklin Ellms, struck a torpedo on her starboard side and sank in Mobile Bay. Ida was the fifth vessel in less than five weeks to be sunk by a Confederate torpedo in the vicinity of Mobile.
14 President Lincoln was shot shortly after 10 p.m. while watching "Our American Cousin" at Ford's Theatre. He died at 7:22 a.m. the next morning. Rear Admiral Porter, who had departed Hampton Roads on the 14th, learned, when his flagship, U.S.S. Tristram Shandy put into Baltimore on the morning of the 15th, that the President had been shot. The Admiral immediately went to Washington, where he learned that the President had died. The reaction of the tough, battle hardened sea dog to the news expressed the grief of a nation: Porter, who had bid the President a merry farewell exactly one week before at City Point, bowed his head and wept.
In accordance with a previous directive of President Lincoln, Major General Anderson, command-er of the Union Army forces at Fort Sumter on 14 April 1861, raised above Sumter's ruins "the same United States flag which floated over the battlements of that fort during the rebel assault, and which was lowered and saluted by him and the small force of his command when the works were evacuated on the 14th of April, 1861." As U.S.S. Pawnee had witnessed that event four years before, naval forces of Rear Admiral Dahlgren participated in this ceremony.
U.S.S. Sciota, Acting Lieutenant James W. Magune, struck a torpedo and sank off Mobile. Magune reported: 'The explosion was terrible, breaking the beams of the spar deck, tearing open the waterways, ripping off starboard forechannels, and breaking fore-topmast." Dragging for and destroying torpedoes continued to be extremely hazardous duty. A launch from U.S.S. Cincinnati, Lieutenant Commander George Brown, was blown up and three men killed when a torpedo which was being removed accidentally swung against the boat's stern.
C.S.S. Shenandoah, Lieutenant James I. Waddell, departed Ascension Island, Eastern Carolines and set a northerly course for the Kurile Islands. Unaware that General Lee had surrendered at Ap-pomattox on the 9th, Shenandoah would inflict crippling damage to the American whaling fleet in the North Pacific. The havoc wrought on Union commerce by Confederate raiders dealt the whaling industry a blow from which it never recovered.
15 Secretary Welles announced the assassination of President Lincoln to the officers and men of the Navy and Marine Corps. Welles wrote: "To him our gratitude was justly due, for to him, under God, more than to any other person, we are indebted for the successful vindication of the integrity of the Union and the maintenance of the power of the Republic." The President had continually demonstrated a keen interest in the Navy and far-seeing appreciation of seapower. Late in the afternoon of the 14th he had taken what was to be his last trip to the Washington Navy Yard to view three ironclads there that had been damaged during the Fort Fisher engagement. In the summer of 1863 he had written: "Nor must Uncle Sam's web feet be forgotten. At all the watery margins they have been present. Not only on the deep sea, the broad bay, the rapid river, but also up the narrow, muddy bayou, and wherever the ground was a little damp, they have been and made their tracks."
Welles sent a telegram to Commodore John B. Montgomery, Commandant of the Washington Navy Yard: "If the military authorities arrest the murderer of the President and take him to the Yard, put him on a monitor and anchor her in the stream, with strong guard on vessel, wharf, and in yard. Call upon commandant Marine Corps for guard. Have vessel immediately prepared to receive him at any hour, day or night, with necessary instructions. He will be heavily ironed and so guarded as to prevent escape or injury to himself."
16 Secretary Welles directed: "To prevent the escape of the assassin who killed the President and attempted the life of Secretary of State, search every vessel that arrives down the bay. Permit no vessel to go to sea without such search, and arrest and send to Washington any suspicious persons." Response was immediate; ships took stations "on the coast of Maryland and Virginia."
The Navy Department directed that on 17 April a gun be fired in honor of the late President Lincoln each half hour, from sunrise to sunset, that all flags be kept at half-mast until after the funeral, and that officers wear mourning crepe for six months.
17 The Confederate ironclad Jackson (previously Muscogee) was destroyed at Columbus, Georgia, after Union Army forces overran Southern defenses at the city in an attack that began the pre-ceeding night. Major General George H. Thomas reported: "The rebel ram Jackson, nearly ready for sea, and carrying six 7-inch [rifled] guns, fell into our hands and was destroyed, as well as the navy yard, founderies, the arsenal and armory, sword and pistol factory . . . all of which were burned." Twelve miles below the city the Union troops found the burned hulk of C.S.S. Chattahoochee which the Confederates themselves h4 destroyed. The navy yard at Columbus had been a key facility in the building of the machinery for Southern ironclads.
Sunken obstructions placed in the channel of Blakely River, Mobile Bay, Alabama, were removed by blasting directed by Master Adrian C. Starrett, U.S.S. Maria A. Wood, thus clearing naviga-tional hazards from Mobile Bay.
Acting Master J. H. Eldridge, U.S.S. Delaware, reported that information had been received that the murderer of the President was in the vicinity of Point Lookout, Maryland. Secretary Welles promptly ordered the Commanding Officer of Naval Force, Hampton Roads, to send all available vessels to assist in the blockade of the eastern shore of Virginia and Maryland from Point Lookout to Baltimore.
17-19 Lieutenant W. H. Parker, commanding naval escort entrusted with the Confederate archives, treasury, and President Davis' wife, successfully evaded Federal patrols en route southward from Charlotte (see 8-11 April) and arrived at Washington, Georgia, on the 17th. Parker, still with-out orders as to the disposition of his precious trust and unable to learn of the whereabouts of President Davis and his party (including Secretary Mallory), decided to push on through to Augusta, Georgia, where he hoped to find ranking civilian and military officials. The escort commander recorded: "We left the ladies behind at the tavern in Washington for we expected now a fight at any time." The escort again, however, managed to elude Federal patrols and arrived without incident at Augusta where Parker placed his entrusted cargo in bank vaults and posted a guard around the building. Having learned upon arrival that armistice negotiations between Generals Sherman and Johnston were in progress, the escort commander decided to remain in the city and await the outcome of the conference.
17-25 Four of the five Lincoln assassination suspects arrested on the 17th were imprisoned on the monitors U.S.S. Montauk and Saugus which had been prepared for this purpose on the 15th and were anchored off the Washington Navy Yard in the Anacostia River. Mrs. Mary E. Surratt was taken into custody at the boarding house she operated after it was learned that her son was a close friend of John Wilkes Booth and that the actor was a frequent visitor at the boarding house. Mrs. Surratt was jailed in the Carroll Annex of Old Capitol Prison. Lewis Paine was also taken into custody when he came to Mrs. Surratt's house during her arrest. Edward Spangler, stagehand at the Ford Theater and Booth's aide, along with Michael O'Laughlin and Samuel B. Arnold, close associates of Booth during the months leading up to the assassination, were also caught up in the dragnet. O'Laughlin and Paine, after overnight imprisonment in the Old Capitol Prison, were transferred to the monitors at the Navy Yard. They were joined by Arnold on the 19th and Spangler on the 24th. George A. Atzerodt, the would-be assassin of Vice President Andrew Johnson, and Ernest Hartman Richter, at whose home Atzerodt was captured, were brought on board the ships on the 20th. Joao Celestino, Portuguese sea captain who had been heard to say on the 14th that Seward ought to be assassinated, was transferred from Old Capitol Prison to Montauk on the 25th The last of the eight conspiracy suspects to be incarcerated on board the monitors was David E. Herold. The prisoners were kept below decks under heavy guard and were manacled with both wrist and leg irons. In addition, their heads were covered with canvas hoods the interior of which were fitted with cotton pads that tightly covered the prisoners' eyes and ears. The hoods contained two small openings to permit breathing and the consumption of food. An added security measure was taken with Paine by attaching a ball and chain to each ankle.
18 Vice Admiral Farragut, in whom President Lincoln had placed great confidence, wrote to his wife: ''All the people in the city are going to see the President in state. I go tomorrow as one of the pall bearers." Meanwhile, the Navy was carrying out Secretary Welles instructions to search ''all vessels going out of the [Potomac] river for the assassins. Detain all suspicious persons. Guard against all crossing of the river and touching of vessels or boats on the Virginia shore.''
19 Secretary Welles recorded President Lincoln's funeral in his diary: ''The funeral on Wednes-day, the 19th, was imposing, sad, and sorrowful. All felt the solemnity, and sorrowed as if they had lost one of their own household. By voluntary action business was everywhere suspended, and the people crowded the streets . . . . The attendance was immense. The front of the procession reached the Capitol, it was said, before we started, and there as many, or more, who followed us. A brief prayer was made by Mr. [P.D.] Gurley in the rotunda, where we left the remains of the good and great man we loved so well."
U.S.S. Lexington, Acting Lieutenant William Flye, conveyed Colonel John T. Sprague, Chief of Staff to General John Pope, from Cairo and up the Red River to meet Confederate General Kirby Smith. At the ensuing conference, Smith was given the terms under which the surrender of his forces would be accepted.
Captain Benjamin F. Sands, commanding the ships of the West Gulf Blockading Squadron stationed off Galveston, reported that the blockade runner Denbigh had grounded on the Galveston bar attempting to put to sea under cover of night. "She succeeded in getting off by throwing over some 200 bales of cotton, about 140 of which were recovered by the Cornubia and Gertrude. . . ." Sands added that Denbigh was ''next seen under Fort Point and returned to the city.'' However, the well known blockade runner, which Admiral Farragut had been especially anxious to capture prior to the fall of Mobile when Denbigh shifted to Galveston, shortly succeeded in running through the Union cordon and put into Havana on 1 May.
21 Major General Gillmore wrote Rear Admiral Dahlgren that he had received dispatches from Major General Sherman that a convention had been entered into with General Johnston, CSA, on the 18th whereby all Confederate armies were to be disbanded and a general suspension of hostilities would prevail until terms of surrender were agreed upon in Washington.
U.S.S. Cornubia, Acting Lieutenant John A. Johnstone, captured blockade running British schooner Chaos off Galveston with cargo of cotton.
22 Secretary Welles warned the Potomac Flotilla that ''[John Wilkes] Booth was near Bryantown last Saturday [15 April], where Dr. Mudd set his ankle, which was broken by a fall from his horse [sic.]. The utmost vigilance is necessary in the Potomac and Patuxent to prevent his escape. All boats should be searched. . . ." The condition of alert remained in effect until word of the assassin's death on 26 April was received.
Thomas Kirkpatrick, U.S. Consul at Nassau, New Providence, reported to Rear Admiral Stribling of the East Gulf Blockading Squadron that schooner St. Mary's had arrived in Nassau. The Baltimore schooner had been seized in Chesapeake Bay during a daring raid on 31 March by ten Confederates led by Master John C. Braine, CSN. Kirkpatrick pressed British authorities to seize the vessel and apprehend her crew for piracy. St. Mary's was permitted to put to sea, how-ever, after being adjudged a legitimate prize.
23 In response to a telegram from Secretary Welles urging the utmost vigilance to prevent the escape of Jefferson Davis and his cabinet across the Mississippi, Rear Admiral S.P. Lee, commanding the Mississippi Squadron, directed: "The immediate engrossing and important duty is to capture Jeff. Davis and his Cabinet and plunder. To accomplish this, all available means and every effort must be made to the exclusion of all interfering calls."
As the Navy vigorously sought to apprehend the assassin of President Lincoln, Secretary Welles directed Rear Admiral Porter: 'Booth is endeavoring to escape by water. Send a gunboat or some tugs to examine the shore of Virginia and all vessels in that direction, and arrest and seize all suspicious parties. If you have any tugs to spare, send them into the Potomac."
23-24 C.S.S. Webb, Lieutenant Read, dashed from the Red River under forced draft and entered the Mississippi at 8:30 at night in a heroic last-ditch effort to escape to sea. Before departing Alex-andria, Louisiana, for his bold attempt, Read wrote Secretary Mallory: "I will have to stake everything upon speed and time." The sudden appearance of the white-painted Webb in the Mississippi caught the Union blockaders (a monitor and two ironclads) at the mouth of the Red River by surprise. She was initially identified as a Federal ship; this mistake in identification gave Read a lead in the dash downstream. A running battle ensued in which Webb shook off the three Union pursuers. As Read proceeded down the Mississippi, other blockading ships took up the chase but were outdistanced by the fast moving Webb, which some observers claimed was making 25 knots. While churning with the current toward New Orleans, Read paused at one point to cut the telegraph wires along the bank. This proved futile as word of his escape and approach passed southward where it generated considerable excitement and a flurry of messages between the Army and Navy commanders who alerted shore batteries and ships to intercept him. About 10 miles above New Orleans Read hoisted the United States flag at half mast in mourning for Lincoln's death and brought Webb's steam pressure up to maximum. He passed the city at about midnight, 24 April, going full speed. Federal gunboats opened on him, whereupon Read broke the Confederate flag. Three hits were scored, the spar torpedo rigged at the steamer's bow was damaged and had to be jettisoned, but the Webb continued on course toward the sea. Twenty-five miles below New Orleans Read's luck ran out, for here Webb encountered U.S.S. Richmond. Thus trapped between Richmond and pursuing gunboats, Read's audacious and well-executed plan came to an end. Webb was run aground and set on fire before her officers and men took to the swamps in an effort to escape. Read and his crew were apprehended within a few hours and taken under guard to New Orleans. They there suffered the indignity of being placed on public display but were subsequently paroled and ordered to their respective homes. Following the restoration of peace, Read became a pilot of the Southwest Pass, one of the mouths of the Mississippi River, and pursued that occupation until his death.
24-29 While in Augusta, Georgia, with the Confederate archives and treasury (see 17-19 April 1965), Lieutenant W. H. Parker learned that the Federal Government had rejected the convention of surrender drawn up by Generals Sherman and Johnston. Parker withdrew his valuable cargo from the bank vaults, reformed his naval escort (consisting of Naval Academy midshipmen and sailors from the Charlotte Navy Yard) and on the 24th set out for Abbeville, South Carolina, which he had previously concluded to be the most likely city through which the Davis party would pass enroute to a crossing of the Savannah River. Near Washington, Georgia, Parker met Mrs. Jefferson Davis, her daughter and Burton Harrison, the President's private secretary, proceed-ing independently to Florida with a small escort. Gaining no information on the President's whereabouts, Parker continued to press toward Abbeville, while Mrs. Davis' party resumed its journey Southward. On the 29th he arrived in Abbeville, where he stored his cargo in guarded rail ears and ordered a full head of steam be kept on the locomotive in case of emergency. Parker's calculations as to the probable movements of President Davis' entourage proved correct; the chief executive entered Abbeville three days after Parker's arrival.
25 The search for President Lincoln's assassin followed rumors in all directions, and warships in the large Union Navy were available to speed the investigation. The Navy Department ordered Commodore Radford at Hampton Roads: "Send a gunboat to the mouth of the Delaware for one week to examine and arrest all suspicious characters and vessels."
27 The body of John Wilkes Booth, Lincoln's assassin, and David E. Herold, who had accompanied Booth in the escape from Washington and was with the actor when he was shot, were delivered on board U.S.S. Montauk, anchored in the Anacostia River off the Washington Navy Yard. Booth had been slain and Herold captured at John M. Garrett's farm three miles outside Port Royal, Virginia, in the early morning hours of the previous day. While the body was on board the monitor, an autopsy was performed and an inquiry conducted to establish identity. Booth's corpse was then taken by boat to the Washington Arsenal (now Fort McNair) where it was buried in a gun box the following day. Herold was incarcerated in the hold of Montauk which, along with U.S.S. Saugus, was being utilized for the maximum security imprisonment of eight of the suspected assassination conspirators.
Secretary Welles informed Commander F. A. Parker of the Potomac Flotilla that the "special restrictions relative to retaining vessels are removed." He advised the Flotilla commander that "Booth was killed and captured with Herold yesterday, 3 miles southwest of Port Royal, Va." With the search for President Lincoln's assassin ended, further south the Navy focused its attention to another end. This date, Rear Admiral Dahlgren ordered nine ships of his South Atlantic Blockading Squadron to patrol along the Southern coast to prevent the escape of Jefferson Davis and his cabinet.
River steamer Sultana blew up in the Mississippi River above Memphis, Tennessee, killing 1,450 out of 2,000 passengers-all but 50 of whom were former prisoners of war. She was en route to Cairo when a violent explosion ripped her apart and turned her into a sheet of flame. The cause of the explosion was never determined, but one of the theories advanced was that a coal torpedo- such as the one that was suspected of having destroyed Army steamer Greyhound (see 27 November 1864) had been slipped into the steamer's coal bin.
Commodore William Radford, commanding the James River Flotilla, stationed U.S.S. Tristram Shandy, Acting Lieutenant Francis M. Green, at Cape Henry to watch for C.S.S. Stonewall. The next day Secretary Welles warned Radford that Stonewall had sailed from Teneriffe, Canary Islands, on 1 April and had steamed rapidly to the south. ". . . Every precaution should be taken to guard against surprise and to prevent her inflicting serious injury should she make her appearance anywhere within the limits of your command. . . . " Welles sent the same directive to Com-mander F. A. Parker of the Potomac Flotilla.
28 Secretary Welles directed Rear Admiral Thatcher of the West Gulf Blockading Squadron: "Lieutenant General Grant telegraphs to the War Department under date of the 26th instant, from Raleigh, N.C., that Jeff Davis, with his Cabinet, passed into South Carolina, with the intentions, no doubt, of getting out of the country, either via Cuba or across the Mississippi. All the vigilance and available means at your command should be brought to bear to prevent the escape of those leaders of the rebellion."
Rear Admiral Thatcher reported to Secretary Welles that U.S.S. Octorara, Sebago, and Winnebago were up the Tombigbee River, Alabama, blockading C.S.S. Nashville and Morgan. The Confed-erate ships had steamed upriver when Mobile fell. The Admiral concluded: 'They must soon fall into our hands or destroy themselves."
29 Secretary Welles congratulated Rear Admiral Thatcher and his men on their part in bringing about the fall of Mobile: "Although no bloody strife preceded the capture the result was none the less creditable. Much has been expended to render it invulnerable, and nothing but the well-conducted preparations for its capture, which pointed to success, could have induced the rebel commander to abandon it with its formidable defenses, mounting nearly 400 guns, many of them of the newest pattern and heaviest caliber, its abundant supply of ammunition and ordnance stores, and its torpedo-planted roads and waters, without serious conflict."
U.S.S. Donegal, Acting Lieutenant George D. Upham, was ordered to cruise from Bulls Bay, South Carolina, to the Savannah River in search of C.S.S. Stonewall.
Acting Master W. C. Coulson, commanding U.S.S. Moose on the Cumberland River, led a surprise attack on a Confederate raiding party, numbering about 200 troops from Brigadier General Abraham Buford's command. The raiders under the command of a Major Hopkins, were crossing the Cumberland River to sack and burn Eddyville, Kentucky. Coulson sank two troop laden boats with battery gunfire and then put a landing party ashore which engaged the remaining Con-federates. The landing force dispersed the detachment after killing or wounding 20 men, taking 6 captives, and capturing 22 horses.
30 The eight suspects in the Lincoln assassination plot who had been imprisoned on monitors U.S.S. Montauk and Saugus were transferred to the Arsenal Penitentiary, located in the compound of what is today Fort McNair. This was also the site of their trial by a military tribunal which returned its verdict on 30 June 1865. Three of the eight, along with Mrs. Mary E. Surratt, were hanged in the prison yard of the penitentiary on 7 July-Lewis Paine who made the unsuccessful assassination attempt on Secretary of State Seward; George A. Atzerodt who had been designated by Booth to murder Vice President Johnson; and David E. Herold who had accompanied Booth in his escape from the city. Michael O'Laughlin and Samuel B. Arnold, boyhood friends of Booth and conspirators in the actor's earlier plans to abduct President Lincoln and in his later plans to assassinate the government's top officials, were sentenced to life in prison. Another accomplice, Edward Spangler, stagehand at the Ford Theater was sentenced to six years in prison. The remaining two of the eight who had been incarcerated on the monitors-Ernest Hartman Richter, a cousin of Atzerodt, and Joao Celestino, a Portuguese sea captain were released without being brought to trial.