< Civil War Naval History SEPTEMBER 1861

Civil War Naval History



1 Lincoln received news late at night from Secretary of the Navy Welles of Flag Officer Stringham's victory at Hatteras Inlet, in the initial Army- Navy expedition of the war. Coming shortly after the defeat at Bull Run, it electrified the North and greatly raised morale.

U.S.S. Dana, Acting Master's Mate Ely, captured blockade running schooner T.J. Evans off Clay Island, Maryland, with a cargo including blankets, surgical instruments, and ordnance supplies.

4 Captain Du Pont wrote: "The first fruits of the labors of [the Blockade Strategy Board] came out on the North Carolina coast [Hatteras lnlet] . . . we will secure the whole of those inland sounds and passages and hold all that coast by a flotilla the great morale effect and encouragement to the country are of incalculable service just now."

C.S.S. Yankee (also known as C.S.S. Jackson) and Confederate batteries at Hickman, Kentucky, fired on U.S.S.Tyler, Commander J Rodgers, and Lexington. Commander Stembel, while the gunboats were reconnoitering Mississippi River south from Cairo,

U.S.S. Jamestown Commander Green, captured Confederate schooner Colonel Long. removed her cargo, and scuttled her off the coast of Georgia.

5 Captain A.H. Foote reported at St. Louis, Missouri, to relieve Commander J. Rodgers in command of naval operations on the western rivers.

6 Gunboats U.S.S.Tyler, Commander J. Rodgers, and U.S.S. Lexington. Commander Stembel, spearheaded operations by which General Grant, in his first move after taking command at Cairo, seized strategic Paducah and Smithland, Kentucky, at the mouths of the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers. Captain Foote, newly designated naval commander in the west, participated in the operation. This initial use of strength afloat by Grant, aimed at countering a Confederate move into the State, helped preserve Kentucky for the Union, and foreshadowed the General's great reliance on naval mobility and support throughout the campaigns which divided the Confederacy and placed the entire Mississippi under Union control.

U.S. consul in London reported purchase by Confederates of steamers Bermuda, Adelaide, and Victoria.

9 U.S.S. Cambridge, Commander William A. Parker, captured schooner Louisa Agnes off Nova Scotia.

10 U.S.S. Conestoga, Lieutenant S. L. Phelps, and U.S.S. Lexington, Commander Stembel, covering a troop advance, silenced the guns of a Confederate battery and damaged gunboat C.S.S. Yankee at Lucas Bend, Missouri.

U.S.S. Pawnee, Commander Rowan, captured schooner Susan Jane in Hatteras Inlet. Other blockade runners, unaware that the Union Navy now controlled the inlet, were also taken as prizes.

U.S.S. Cambridge, Commander W. A. Parker, captured British blockade running schooner Revere off Beaufort, North Carolina, with cargo of salt and herring.

11 U.S.S. South Carolina, Commander Alden, captured Soledeid Cos with a cargo of coffee off Galveston.

13 U.S.S. Susquehanna, Captain John S. Chauncey, captured blockade running British schooner Argonaut. with cargo of fish, bound from Nova Scotia to Key West.

C.S.S. Patrick Henry. Commander John R. Tucker, exchanged fire with U.S.S. Savannah, Captain Hull, and U.S.S. Louisiana, Lieutenant Alexander Murray, off Newport News; shot on both sides fell short.

14 In the early morning darkness sailors and Marines from U.S.S. Colorado, rowing in to Pensacola Harbor, boarded and burned Confederate privateering schooner Judah. and spiked guns at Pensacola Navy Yard.

U.S.S. Albatross. Commander Prentiss, captured schooner Alabama near the mouth of the Potomac River.

16 Ironclad Board reported to Secretary of the Navy Welles: "For river and harbor service we consider iron-clad vessels of light draught, or floating batteries thus shielded, as very important . . . Armored ships or batteries may be employed advantageously to pass fortifications on land for ulterior objects of attack, to run a blockade, or to reduce temporary batteries on the shores of rivers and the approaches to our harbors.'' The Board recommended construction of three ironclads (Monitor. Galena, and New Ironsides). These ships, and those that followed, revolutionized naval warfare.

U.S.S. Conestoga, Lieutenant S. L. Phelps, captured Confederate steamers V.R. Stephenson and Gazelle on Cumberland River, Kentucky.

16-17 Landing party from U.S.S. Pawnee, Commander Rowan, destroyed guns and fortifications on Beacon Island, closing Ocracoke Inlet, North Carolina. Admiral D. D. Porter later wrote: "The closing of these inlets [Hatteras and Ocracoke] to the Sounds of North Carolina sent the blockade runners elsewhere to find entrance to Southern markets, but as channel after channel was closed the smugglers' chance diminished. . ."

17 Confederates evacuated Ship Island, Mississippi; landing party from U.S.S. Massachusetts took possession. Ship Island eventually became the staging area for General Butler's troops in the amphibious operations below New Orleans.

18 U.S.S. Rescue, Master Edward L. Haines, captured Confederate schooner Hartford with cargo of wheat and tobacco on the Potomac River.

Flag Officer Du Pont was appointed Commander South Atlantic Blockading Squadron. Du Pont wrote : "My appointment as a flag officer will be dated today . . . Things have taken an active turn, and this day is an epoch in naval history–seniority and rotation have seen their last day. Selection with as much regard to seniority as the good of the service will admit is now the order of the day.''

Secretary of the Navy Welles wrote Flag Officer Louis M. Goldsborough, appointed to command North Atlantic Blockading Squadron: "It is essentially necessary that the Navy should at this time put forth all its strength and demonstrate to the country and to foreign powers its usefulness and capability in protecting and supporting the Government and the Union. There must be no commercial intercourse with the ports that are in insurrection, and our Navy must, by its power, energy, and activity, enforce the views of the President and the Government on this subject. Privateers to depredate on our commerce and rob our countrymen pursuing their peaceful avocations must not be permitted..."

19 U.S.S. Gemsbok, Acting Master Edward Cavendy, captured blockade running schooner Harmony, en route Nova Scotia to Ocracoke, North Carolina.

21 Boat under Midshipman Edward A. Walker from U.S.S. Seminole, Commander Gillis, captured sloop Maryland on the Potomac River.

22 U.S.S. Gemsbok, Acting Master Cavendy, captured schooner Mary E. Pindar off Federal Point, North Carolina, attempting to run the blockade with cargo of lime.

Flag Officer McKean assumed command of the Gulf Blockading Squadron.

23 U.S.S. Lexington, Commander Stembel, proceeded to Owenshoro, Kentucky, "for the purpose of keeping the Ohio River open" and in order to protect Union interests in the area. Such expeditions deep into territory with Confederate sympathies were fundamental in containing Southern advances in the border states.

U.S S. Cambridge, Commander W.A. Parker, captured British schooner, Julia bound for Beaufort, North Carolina.

Flag Officer L.M. Goldsborough assumed command of North Atlantic Blockading Squadron including operations in the Chesapeake.

24 U.S.S. Dart, Acting Master William M. Wheeler, captured Confederate schooner Cecelia off Louisiana, thereafter fitted out as Union cruiser by U.S.S. Huntsville, Commander Cicero Price.

25 C.S.S. Sumter, Commander Semmes. captured American ship Joseph Park off northeast coast of South America; three days later burned her at sea.

U.S.S. Jacob Bell, Lieutenant Edward P. McCrea, and U.S.S. Seminole, Lieutenant Charles S. Norton, engaged Confederate battery at Freestone Point, Virginia.

Secretary of the Navy Welles instructed Flag Officer Du Pont, commanding South Atlantic Blockading Squadron: "The Department finds it necessary to adopt a regulation with respect to the large and increasing number of persons of color, commonly known as 'contrabands.' now subsisted at the navy yards and on board ships-of-war. These can neither be expelled from the service, to which they have resorted, nor can they be maintained unemployed, and it is not proper that they should be compelled to render necessary and regular services without compensation. You are therefore authorized, when their services can be made useful, to enlist them for the naval service, under the same forms and regulations as apply to other enlistments. They will be allowed, however, no higher rating than 'boys,' at a compensation of ten dollars per month and one ration per day."

28 U.S.S. Susquehanna, Captain Chauncey, captured Confederate schooner San Juan, bound for Elizabeth City, North Carolina, with cargo of salt, sugar, and gin.

29 U.S.S. Susquehanna, Captain Chauncey, captured schooner Baltimore off Hatteras Inlet.

30 U.S.S. Dart, Acting Master Wheeler, captured schooner Zavalla off Vermillion Bay, Louisiana.

U.S.S. Niagara, Captain John Pope, captured pilot boat Frolic at South West Pass of the Mississippi River.

Cecelia, prize and render to U.S.S. Huntsville, Commander Price, captured blockade running schooner Ranchero west of Vermillion Bay.