< Civil War Naval History February 1861

Civil War Naval History


February 1861

2 U.S. Revenue Schooner Henry Dodge, First Lieutenant William F. Rogers, USRM, was seized at Galveston, as Texas joined the Confederacy.

4 Forty-two vessels were in commission in the United States Navy. Twelve of these ships were assigned duty with the Home Squadron, four of which were based on Northern ports. Beginning with the
return of Powhatan to New York and Pocahontas to Hampton Roads on 12 March and Cumberland to Hampton Roads on 23 March, the Department moved to recall all but three ships from foreign stations, where they were badly needed, in order to meet the greater needs of the Nation in this hour of crisis.

7 Gideon Welles of Hartford, Connecticut, took office in Washington as Secretary of the Navy.

13 It was reported by Captain J. M. Brannon, USA, commanding Fort Taylor that "everything is quiet at Key West to this date"-a tribute to the firm policing of the area by Union naval vessels. Throughout the early months of 1861 the "showing of the flag" by the Fleet maintained a peaceful equilibrium in a situation fraught with tension. The much-feared attack, expected to accompany Florida's secession (10 January), did not materialize.

17 Confederate Navy Department sent Commander Lawrence Rousseau, Commander Ebenezer Farrand, and Lieutenant Robert T. Chapman to New Orleans to negotiate for the construction of gunboats.

18 Brigadier General Braxton Bragg, CSA, issued an order forbidding passage of supplies to Fort Pickens and the U.S. squadron off Pensacola.

20 U.S. sloop Isabella, carrying supplies for U.S. squadron at Pensacola, was seized at Mobile.

21 Gustavus V. Fox, ex-naval officer now a civilian, reconnoitered Fort Sumter, Charleston Harbor, as directed by President Lincoln, to determine the best means of relieving the Fort. Based on his observations, Fox recommended relieving Sumter by sea: "I propose to put the troops on board of a large, comfortable sea steamer and hire two powerful light draft New York tug boats, having the necessary stores on board. These to be convoyed by the U.S.S. Pawnee . . . and the revenue cutter Harriet Lane . . . Arriving off the bar, I propose to examine by day the naval preparations and obstructions. If their vessels determine to oppose our entrance, and a feint or flag of truce would ascertain this, the armed ships must approach the bar and destroy or drive them on shore. Major Anderson would do the same upon any vessels within the range of his guns and would also prevent any naval succor being sent down from the city."

31 Secretary of the Navy Welles ordered 250 men transferred from New York to the Navy Yard at Norfolk, Virginia.