Civil War Naval History
2 Rear Admiral Farragut wrote Secretary Welles from New Orleans: ''I have recently seen persons from Mobile, and they all concur in the statement that provisions are very high, and very scarce even at those high figures. Flour, $100 per barrel; bacon and meat of every kind, $1 per pound; meal, $20 per sack." Farragut, chafing under the relative inactivity of "doing nothing but blockading," also advised the Secretary of his planned operations, writing that he would attack Galveston as soon as there were sufficient troops. "At present,'' he added, ''I am all ready to make an attack on or run the batteries at Port Hudson, so as to form a junction with the army and navy above Vicksburg. . . . The army of General Banks will attack by land or make a reconnaissance in force at the same time that we run the batteries. . . My first object will be destroy the boats and cut off the supplies from the Red River. We expect to move in less than a week. I shall take the four ships, Hartford, Mississippi, Richmond, and Monongahela, and three gunboats and the Brooklyn, if she arrives in time."
Amidst the ever-present difficulties of command on the western waters, Rear Admiral Porter found time to be concerned with the well being of private citizens. He instructed Lieutenant Commander Selfridge, U.S.S. Conestoga: "Mrs. Twiddy, at Wilson and Mitchell's Landing, Bolivar, has 130 bales of cotton which she is desirous of sending to Cairo. This cotton must be seized the same as all other cotton and turned over to the civil authorities at Cairo, and, after has been sold, Mrs. Twiddy can, by proving her loyalty to the Government, receive the value for it. She has also permission to go up to Cairo herself and take all her effects. If it is necessary, a gunboat will protect her self and property. When she is ready to go she will hoist a white flag, but you had better run down there occasionally and see how she is getting on. You will make a full report to me of all the particulars of this case. . ." Three weeks later, U.S.S. Bragg took Mrs. Twiddy, her cotton, and her personal effects to Cairo.
C.S.S. Alabama, Captain Semmes, captured and burned at sea ship John A. Parks, after transferring on board Alabama provisions and stores. Semmes remarked that this capture threw Alabama's carpenter into ''ecstasies" since the cargo included white pine lumber; ". . . if I had not put some restraint on my zealous officer of the adze and chisel, I believe he would have converted the Alabama into a lumberman."
Surgeon Ninian Pinkney, USN, informed Porter that he had succeeded, "after a most fatiguing time," in obtaining the Commercial Hotel in Memphis for use by the Navy as a hospital. "It is, he reported, ''admirably located and well adapted for hospital purposes.'' Such facilities together with hospital ship Red Rover, greatly increased the Navy's capability to care for the sick and injured in the fleet.
3 Ironclads U.S.S. Passaic, Nahant, and Patapsco, with three mortar boats and gunboats U.S.S. Seneca, Dawn, and Wissahickon, under Captain Drayton, again engaged Fort McAllister at Savannah for 6 hours, Rear Admiral Du Pont held that the series of engagements was vital ''before enter-ing upon more important operations -the assault on Charleston, Du Pont wanted to subject the ironclads to the stresses and strains of battle, as well as give the crews additional gunnery practice.
Lieutenant Commander W. Smith's Yazoo Pass expedition moved down the Coldwater River. ''We are advancing hut slowly,'' he reported. ''This stream is not so much wider or clearer than the pass as to make much difference in either speed or the amount of damage inflicted on these vessels, Our hull has suffered as much to-day as on any day yet. We can only advance with the current; faster than that brings us foul. Our speed is not more than 1 1/2 miles per hour, if that. Wheels and stacks have escaped through care, but with over 200 feet above water, and less than 3 in it, without steerageway, light winds play with us, bringing the sides and trees in rough contact. I imagine that the character of this navigation is different from what was ex-pected. We will get through in fighting condition, but so much delayed that all the advantages of a surprise to the rebels will have been lost.''
Commenting on the loss of Indianola the preceding month, Assistant Secretary Fox wrote Du Pont: ''These disasters must come, they are sure to follow a long course of uninterrupted success and we will look at them at the Department with a determination that they shall not lead us to doubt either ultimate victory or the brave officers and men who will surely win it."
Rear Admiral Porter wrote Fox from above Vicksburg: "There is delightful concert here between the Army and Navy. Grant and Sherman are on board almost every day. . . . we agree in everything, and they are disposed to do everything for us they can, they are both able men, and I hope sincerely for the sake of the Union that nothing may occur to make a change here."
Boat crew under Acting Master's Mate George Drain from U.S.S. Matthew Vassar destroyed a large boat at Little River Inlet, North Carolina. Proceeding up the western branch of the river to destroy salt works, the boat grounded and the crew was captured by Confederate troops.
4 U.S.S. James S. Chambers, Acting Master Luther Nickerson, seized blockade running Spanish sloop Relampago and schooner Ida. The schooner, beached at Sanibel Island, Florida, when she could not escape, was destroyed by the crew of James S. Chambers.
5 The Yazoo Pass expedition neared the junction of the Coldwater and Tallahatchie Rivers. Lieu-tenant Commander W. Smith reported: ''The river is clearer, and we make better speed. If we reach the Tallahatchie this evening, which our advance may do, our total distance from Delta will be but 50 miles, not 6 miles per day. . . . I hope to make better speed from this time through." The next evening found Smith's forces some 12 miles down the Tallahatchie, where he was compelled to leave U.S.S. Petrel because of damage to her wheel; Petrel was reported once again ''in line'' on the 10th after rapid repairs.
Captain Sands, U.S.S. Dacotah, reported the appearance at New Inlet, on the Cape Fear River of a Confederate ironclad. ''I would feel somewhat more at ease," he wrote Rear Admiral S. P. Lee, "if we had an ironclad at each of these main inlets to Cape Fear River, to fend off an attack upon the wooden vessels by this Confederate ram, although, without such aid, we will do our best to prevent its success. But without some such assistance the blockade may be at any time broken by even this single yet formidable (because ironclad) ram." Sands later reported that the ram had had to return inside the Cape Fear River ''because she could not stand the sea.''
U.S.S. Lockwood returned to New Bern, North Carolina, from an expedition up the Pungo River where a bridge was destroyed, ''which the enemy had built to facilitate the removal of the prod-ucts from that section into the interior," and some arms, stores, and a small schooner were captured.
U.S.S. Aroostook, Lieutenant Commander Samuel R. Franklin, chased blockade running sloop Josephine, forced her aground near Fort Morgan, Mobile Bay, and, with U.S.S. Pocahontas, Lieu-tenant Commander Gamble, destroyed her by gunfire.
6 Major General Hunter wrote Rear Admiral Du Pont, requesting naval support for "an important mission in the southerly part of this department [the Union Army's Department of the South]. . ." On the 10th, U.S.S. Norwich and Uncas convoyed the troop transports up the St. John's River where the soldiers were landed and again occupied Jacksonville, Florida. Commander James M. Duncan reported: "In the afternoon of that day some skirmishing took place outside of the town, upon which I threw several shell in the supposed direction of the enemy, which very soon dispersed them. During the next day," he added cryptically, "another skirmish took place with the like result.''
C.S.S. Florida, Lieutenant Maffitt, captured and fired ship Star of Peace bound from Calcutta to Boston with cargo of saltpeter and hides.
7 The capture of blockade runners caused Rear Admiral S. P. Lee, commanding the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron, a shortage of officers. "Owing to the increase of blockade runners off the coast of North Carolina, and frequent captures made of them, I would request that six officers capable of taking charge of prizes may be ordered to this squadron. The vessels blockading off Cape Fear are greatly in want of them, owing to the number they have heretofore sent away in prizes, which leaves our vessels very deficient in officers.''
8 U.S.S. Sagamore, Lieutenant Commander English, captured sloop Enterprise bound from Mosquito Inlet, Florida, to Nassau with cargo of cotton.
9 Commander Pennock, Fleet Captain of the Mississippi Squadron, informed Lieutenant Commander Fitch, U.S.S. Lexington, of reports of proposed Confederate action along the Tennessee: "You will have to keep a good watch soon on the Tennessee River. The enemy's plan is to fall back on Tennessee with all the forces they can raise, and deal Rosecrans a crushing blow. Now we must keep all the vessels you can spare up the Tennessee as high as they can go. The chance is the enemy will cross over somewhere as high up as Decatur [Alabama]. At all events get all the information you can, and be ready to meet them. . . . I do not think the rebels will attempt to cross into Tennessee if we have two boats at Decatur, another at Waterloo. Both these points command important railroads. . . The time has come when we must begin to drive the rebels off the banks of the Tennessee."
Though the low water in the river did not allow the gunboats to go up the Tennessee as far as Decatur, by the 14th Rear Admiral Porter informed Secretary Welles: ''The entire Mississippi banks have been alive with guerrillas, and we have successfully guarded every point and driven them [back]; and my object is to keep them away. As fast as the vessels are bought and fitted they are now sent to the Cumberland and Tennessee. We are doing all we can for General Rosecrans, and will, as heretofore done, keep him supplied. The only trouble is want of men. We can get the vessels faster than we can get crews."
U.S.S. Bienville, Commander J. R. Madison Mullany, captured schooner Lightning south of Port Royal with cargo of coffee and salt. continued to engage the fort some 3 more hours before withdrawing. Lieutenant Colonel James H. Wilson, USA, remarked: "The rebel position is a strong one by virtue of the difficulties of approach . . ." The gunboats were unable to bring their full fire power to bear on the works, and the Army was unable to render effective assistance. Thus, though the fort was damaged by the attack, the follow up operations could not be pressed to force withdrawal.
Rear Admiral Du Pont wrote Professor Alexander D. Bache of the Coast Survey with reference to the projected Charleston attack and the ironclads: "We are steadily preparing for the great experiment, to see whether 20 guns, counting one broadside of the Ironsides, can silence or overcome some hundreds. I am not without hope, but would have more, were it not for obstructions unfortunately the Army can give us no assistance. I did a very wise thing, though I think not many persons in my place would have done it-in trying the ironclads, four of them at least, against a live target in the shape of Fort McAllister. The experience has been invaluable, for they were wholly unfit to go into action-some things arc not encouraging as they might be, but it is a great thing to know your tools, forewarned, etc. Then Dahlgren writes the life of his fifteen inch [gun] is 300 [firings]! This is about the worst thing yet-for I look for such pounding as done to the Montauk, today, by the torpedo-it is bad and hard to mend-but we can, we think, close the leak from the inside for the present. Our papers instructed the rebels at what spot to aim at and they did exactly but I have sent for more iron-all this, entre nous-I thought you would like a few words on the subject. One word more-nothing is more difficult for me to explain than the indisposition on the part of the inventors, who are often men of genius to wish to exclude from all knowledge or participation, the very people who are to use and give effect to their instruments and inventions. I saw an amendment to a Senate bill to exclude the submitting of some plans for iron ships to Navy officers! Now if Mr. [John] Ericsson could have had such men as Drayton and John Rodgers at his elbow from the beginning, these vessels would have been much better to handle. . ."
C.S.S. Florida, Lieutenant Maffitt, captured and burned ship Aldebaran, from New York, near 290 N., 510 W., with cargo of provisions and clocks.
U.S.S. Huntsville, Acting Lieutenant William C. Rogers, seized blockade running British schooner Surprise off Charlotte Harbor, Florida, bound for Havana with cargo of cotton.
U.S.S. Octorara, Commander Collins, seized blockade running British schooner Florence Nightingale with cargo of cotton in the North East Providence Channel, Bahama Islands.
13-14 Confederate troops launched a surprise night attack against Fort Anderson on the Neuse River, North Carolina. Union gunboats U.S.S. Hunchback, Hetzel, Ceres, and Shawsheen, supported by a revenue cutter and an armed schooner, forced the Confederates to break off their heavy assault and withdraw. Colonel Jonathan S. Belknap, USA, wrote Commander Henry K. Davenport: "Your well-directed fire drove the enemy from the field; covered the landing of the Eighty-fifth New York, sent to the relief of the garrison, and the repulse of the rebel army was complete. Allow me, commodore, in the name of the officers and men of my command, to express my admiration of the promptitude and skill displayed by your command on that occasion The Army is proud of the Navy."
14 Rear Admiral Farragut with his squadron of seven ships attacked the strong Confederate works at Port Hudson, attempting to effect passage. With typical thoroughness, the Admiral had inspected his squadron the day before" to see that all arrangements had been made for battle," and consulted with Major General Banks. His general order for the passage had previously been written and dis-tributed to each commanding officer. Just before the attack, Farragut held a conference with the commanders on board the flagship and then received word from General Banks that he was in position and ready to begin an attack ashore in support of the passage. The mortars had begun to fire. Shortly after 10 p.m., the fleet was underway, the heavier hips, Hartford, Richmond, and Monongahela to the inboard or fort side of the smaller Albatross, Genesee, and Kineo. Mississippi brought up the rear.
Moving up the river ''in good style," Hartford, with Albatross lashed alongside, weathered the hail of shot from the batteries. Major General Franklin Gardner, commanding at Port Hudson, noted: She returned our fire boldly.'' Passing the lower batteries, the current nearly swung the flagship around and grounded her, "but," Farragut reported, "backing the Albatross, and going ahead strong on this ship, we at length headed her up the river." Though able to bring only two guns to bear on the upper batteries, Farragut successfully passed those works.
Following the flagship closely, Richmond took a hit in her steam plant, disabling her. "The turning point [in the river] was gained," Commander Alden reported, "but I soon found, even with the aid of the Genesee, which vessel was lashed alongside, that we could make no headway against the strong current of the river, and suffering much from a galling cross fire of the enemy's batteries, I was compelled though most reluctantly, to turn back, and by the aid of the Genesee soon anchored our of the range of their guns." Next in line, Monongahela ran hard aground under Port Hudson's lower batteries where she remained for nearly half an hour, taking severe punishment. At least eight shots passed entirely through the ship. The bridge was shot from underneath Captain James P. McKinstry, injuring him and killing three others. With Kineo's aid, Monongahela was floated and attempted to resume her course upriver. "We were nearly by the principal battery,'' Lieutenant Nathaniel W. Thomas, the executive officer wrote, ''when the crank pin of the forward engine was reported heated, and the engine stopped, the chief engineer reporting that he was unable to go ahead." The ship became unmanageable and drifted downstream, where she anchored out of range of the Confederate guns.
Meanwhile, on board U.S.S. Mississippi, Captain Melancton Smith saw Richmond coming downstream but, because of the heavy smoke of the pitched battle, was unable to sight Monongahela. Thinking she had steamed ahead to close the gap caused by Richmond's leaving the line ahead formation, he ordered his ship "go ahead fast" to close the supposed gap In doing so, Mississippi ran aground and despite every effort could not be brought off. After being fired in four places, she was abandoned. At 3 a.m., Mississippi was seen floating in flames slowly down river; 22 hours later, she blew up, ''producing an awful concussion which was felt for miles around." Lieutenant George Dewey, destined to become hero of Manila Bay in 1898, was First Lieutenant of Mississippi. Thus ended one of the war's fiercest engagements; only Hartford and Albatross had run the gannet.
Rear Admiral Porter, ''having made arrangements with General Grant by which the army could cooperate with us'' as the Yazoo Pass expedition faltered, launched the difficult and hazardous Steele's Bayou, Mississippi, expedition aimed at gaining entrance to the Yazoo River for the purpose of taking Vicksburg from the rear. The expedition comprising U.S.S. Louisville, Cincinnati, Carondelet, Pittsburg, Mound City, four mortars and four tugs-made its way to Black Bayou, "a place about 4 miles long leading into Deer Creek." At that point further progress was impeded by the dense forest. Porter set his men to clearing the way by pulling up the trees or pushing them over with the ironclads. ''It was terrible work,'' he reported to Welles, "but in twenty-four hours we succeeded in getting through these 4 miles and found ourselves in Deer Creek, where we were told there would be no more difficulties.''
Boat crews under Acting Master Andrews, commanding U.S.S. Crusader, on an expedition to Milford Haven, Virginia, destroyed a blockade running schooner without cargo.
15 Armed boats from U.S.S. Cyane, Lieutenant Commander Paul Shirley, boarded and seized schooner J. M. Chapman, preparing to get underway from San Francisco. J. M. Chapman was suspected of having been outfitted as a Confederate commerce raider. She was found to have a crew of 4, and below decks 17 more men were concealed together with a cargo of guns, ammunition, and other military stores. Shirley reported that he discharged the cargo and confined the prisoners on Alcatraz.
C.S.S. Alabama, Captain Semmes, captured and released on bond ship Punjaub, from Calcutta for London, northeast of Brazil.
16 U.S.S. Chillicothe, Lieutenant Commander J. P. Foster, resumed the attack on Fort Pemberton, Mississippi In a brief engagement, the gunboat was struck eight time which rendered her guns unworkable and forced her to retire. Foster reported, 'The Chillicothe's loss on the 11th, 13th, and today is 22 killed, wounded, and drowned." Next day, the Yazoo Pass expedition fell back, and no further major effort was mounted against the Confederate position. The Army was unable to land because the country was flooded. Brigadier General Isaac F. Quinby shortly ordered the troops withdrawn and on 10 April the Confederate defenders could report "Yazoo Pass expedition abandoned."
Rear Admiral Porter later analyzed the results of the undertaking: Although some cotton was taken, ''the result was a failure in the main object. The enemy burned two large steamers [Parallel and Magnolia] loaded with cotton. . . . built two formidable forts, Pemberton and Greenwood on the Tallahatchie and Yallabusha [sic], and blocked the way effectually. General Pemberton showed a great deal of ability in his defense of Vicksburg, all through, and won the respect of his opponents by his zeal and fidelity to his cause, to say nothing of his spirit of endurance. But in nothing did he show more energy than in watching the Federal tactics, and guarding against all attempts made to turn his flanks, especially by way of the streams which would have commanded the approaches to Vicksburg if held by the enemy. Pemberton took care that these passes should never be left unguarded in the future.''
Reporting to Secretary Welles on the passage of Port Hudson, Rear Admiral Farragut wrote: Concerning the Hartford, I cannot speak too highly of her captain, officers, and crew. All did their duty as far as came under my observation, and more courage and zeal I have never seen displayed. The officers set a good example to their men, and their greatest difficulty was to make them understand why they could not fire when the smoke was so dense that the pilot could not navigate. . . . To the good firing of the ships we owe most of our safety, for, according to my theory, the best way to save yourself is to injure your adversary. . . Welles replied: ''The Department congratulates you and the officers and men of the Hartford upon the gallant passage of the Port Hudson batteries. . . . Although the remainder of your fleet were not successful in following their leader, the Department can find no fault with them. All appear to have behaved gallantly, and to have done everything in their power to secure success. Their failure can only be charged to the difficulties in the navigation of the rapid current of the Mississippi, and matters over which they had no control."
General Grant ordered troops under Major General W. T. Sherman to cooperate with Porter's gunboats as the expedition attempted to force its way from Steele's Bayou into the Yazoo River. "The ironclads," Sherman noted, "push their way along unharmed, but the trees and overhanging limbs tear the wooden boats all to pieces.'' The troops rendered great assistance to the ships in helping to clear Black Bayou and entangled obstructions.
U.S.S. Octorara, Commander Collins, seized sloop Rosalie and schooner Five Brothers with cargo of cotton at sea east of Florida.
18 U.S.S. Wissahickon, Lieutenant Commander John L. Davis, seized and destroyed steamer Georgiana attempting to run the blockade into Charleston with a valuable cargo including rifled guns.
Georgiana was said to be pierced for 14 guns and earlier consular reports indicated that "she is an armed vessel intended for a cruise against our merchantmen.'' Described as a swift vessel, she was termed ''another confederate to the pirate Alabama.'' Upon hearing of her fate, Secretary Welles wrote Rear Admiral Du Pont: "I am exceedingly gratified with the confirmation of the destruction of the Georgiana. It would have been better would she have been captured but the fact that she is disposed of is a relief. We had serious apprehensions in regard to her. In disposing of both her and the Nashville you have rendered great service to our commerce, for had they got abroad they would have made sad havoc with our shipping. We shall have an account to settle with John Bull one of these days for this war which is being carried on against us by British capital and by Englishmen under the Confederate flag."
19 Rear Admiral Farragut in U.S.S. Hartford, with U.SS. Albatross in company, engaged Confederate batteries at Grand Gulf as the ships steamed up the Mississippi toward Vicksburg. After suc-cessfully passing the heavy Confederate works at Port Hudson, Farragut bad proceeded to the mouth of the Red River on the 16th. Next day, he steamed up to Natchez, tearing down a portion of the telegraph lines to Port Hudson. He anchored for the night of the 18th below Grand Gulf and ran the batteries early the next morning, suffering eight casualties in the engagement. He came to anchor just below Warrenton, Mississippi, where, on the 20th, he communicated with Grant and Porter and sought replenishment of his coal supply.
Rear Admiral Porter reported that the Steele's Bayou expedition had reached within l 1/2 miles of Rolling Fork, Mississippi. "Had the way been as good as represented to me, I should have been in Yazoo City by this time; but we have been delayed by obstructions which I did not mind much, and the little willows, which grow so thick that we stuck fast hundreds of times.'' In a later summary report to Secretary Welles, Porter noted: ''We had succeeded in getting well into the heart of the country before we were discovered. No one would believe that anything in the shape of a vessel could get through Black Bayou, or anywhere on the route." As the gunboats continued to struggle against unfriendly natural hazards, Confederates felled trees to further obstruct the channel and sharpshooters took the ships under fire. To prevent additional obstruc-tions being placed at Rolling Fork, Porter sent ashore 2 boat howitzers and 300 men under Lieutenant John M. Murphy, commanding U.S.S. Carondelet. However, with Confederate troop strength in the area growing and receiving reports of obstructions being placed ahead and trees being felled in his rear, Porter was shortly compelled to break off the attempt to reach the Yazoo in order to avoid complete entrapment.
Rear Admiral Du Pont wrote Assistant Secretary Fox: "We are hard at work on the ironclads. They require so much, and the injury of the Montauk is very great. I crawled on 'all fours' to see for myself. . . . The Patapsco's pumps are not yet in order. I had dispatched the Weehauken to Edisto this morning to establish our base of operations, but an equinoctial gale sent her back. I may send her to Savannah River in lieu. . . I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of the Keo-kuk. Her less draft than the others is very important I think these monitors [Keokuk was a citadel ironclad, not a monitor] are wonderful conceptions, but, oh, the errors of details, which would have been corrected if these men of genius could be induced to pay attention to the people who are to use their tools and inventions."
U.S.S. Octorara, Commander Collins, seized blockade running British schooner John Williams near the Bahamas.
20 From below Warren ton, Rear Admiral Farragut sent the following message to General Grant and a similar one to Rear Admiral Porter: ''Having learned that the enemy had the Red River trade open to Vicksburg and Port Hudson and that two of the gunboats of the upper fleet [Queen of the West and Indianola] had been captured, I determined to pass up and, if possible, recapture the boats and stop the Red River trade, and this I can do most effectively if I can obtain from Rear Admiral Porter or yourself coal for my vessels. . . . I shall be most happy to avail myself of the earliest moment to have a consultation with yourself and Rear Admiral Porter as to the assistance I can render you at this place; and, if none, then I will return to the mouth of the Red River and carry out my original designs.'' Porter replied: ''I would not attempt to run the batteries at Vicks-burg if I were you; it won't pay, and you can be of no service up here at this moment. Your services at Red River will be a godsend; it is worth to us the loss of the [U.SS. ] Mississippi at this moment and it is the severest blow that could be struck at the South. They obtain all their supplies and ammunition in that way." Grant floated a coal barge down the river to Farragut, who steamed above Warrenton to meet the vital cargo.
U.S.S. Ethan Allen, Acting Master Pennell, seized blockade running British schooner Gypsy off St. Joseph's Bay, Florida, with cargo including merchants' tools.
U.S.S. Victoria, Acting Lieutenant Hooker, and U.S. schooner William Bacon, captured blockade running British steamer Nicolai I in ''thick and rainy'' weather off Cape Fear. The steamer was carrying a cargo of dry goods, arms, and ammunition, and had been turned back 2 days earlier in an attempt to run into Charleston.
Though troops sent by General W. T. Sherman had reached the gunboats of the Steele's Bayou expedition at Rolling Fork the day before, it was Rear Admiral Porter's decision that their num-bers were not sufficient to insure success. The soldiers had met the gunboats without provisions of their own and without any field artillery. ''Under the circumstances," Porter wrote, I could not afford to risk a single vessel, and therefore abandoned the expedition.'' Unable to turn around in the narrow waters, the gunboats unshipped their rudders and drifted backwards. Coming to a bend in the river, "where the enemy supposed they had blockaded us completely, having cut a number of trees all together. . . the gunboats and Union troops fought their way through as the withdrawal continued. Sherman arrived with additional troops, but Porter noted: "We might now have retraced our steps, but we were all worn-out. The officers and men had for six days and night. been constantly at work, or sleeping at the guns. We had lost our coal barge, and the provision vessel could not get through, being too high for such purposes. Taking everything into consideration, I thought it best to undertake nothing further without being better prepared, and we finally, on the 24th, arrived at Hill's plantation, the place we started from on the 16th."
Thus ended what Porter accurately described as ''a most novel expedition. Never did those people expect to see ironclads floating where the keel of a flat boat never passed.'' Though it did not achieve its primary goal, the daring expedition was not a failure. By destroying all bridges encountered, it had ''cut off for the present all the means of transporting provisions to Vicksburg." In addition, a vast quantity of corn was destroyed and many horses, mules, and cattle were taken. An estimated 20,000 bales of cotton were destroyed and enough was taken "to pay for the building of a good gunboat.'' Porter recognized, too, the ''moral effect of penetrating into a country deemed inaccessible. There will be no more planting in these regions for a long time to come. The able-bodied negroes left with our army, carrying with them all the stores left by their masters. . . . Despite these positive results, the Admiral succinctly summed up a deeper meaning of the abandonment of the Steele's Bayou expedition: "With the end of this expedition ends all my hopes of getting Vicksburg in this direction. Had we been success-ful we could have made a sure thing of it. . . By land and water, the long siege and the bitter fighting for Vicksburg would now continue.
Rear Admiral Farragut advised General Grant that the Confederates were building ''a very for-midable casemated work'' at Warrenton. ''I fired at it yesterday, but I think did it little or no injury. I see they are at work on it again and shall interrupt them to-day with an occasional shot or shell to prevent their annoying me on my way down, but if you think proper to make a little expedition over that way to destroy it, my two vessels will be at your service as long as I am here." Grant replied: "As you kindly' offered me the cooperation of your vessels and the use of them to transport troops to Warrenton, should I want them to send an expedition to destroy their batteries, I have determined to take advantage of the offer. . . I send no special instruc-tion for this expedition further than to destroy effectually the batteries at Warren ton and to return to their camp here. They will be glad to receive any suggestions or directions from you. "Farragut, writing Captain Henry Walke, expressed the view that the blockade of the Red River could be better effected with the aid of one of the Ellet rams, which were above Vicksburg. To Grant he noted that a ram would be more suitable for landing the troops at Warrenton than either U.S.S. Hartford or Albatross.
U.S.S. Tioga, Commander Clary, captured blockade running British steamer Granite City at sea off Eleuthera island and British schooner Brothers off Abaco. Both carried assorted cargoes including medicines and liquor.
23 Concerned with the fate of his ships that had failed to pass the Port Hudson batteries, Rear Admiral Farragut wrote his wife from U.S.S. Hartford below Vicksburg: ''I passed the batteries of Port Hudson with my chicken (U.S.S. Albatross) under my wing. We came through in safety. . . Would to God I only knew that our friends on the other ships were as well as we are! We are all in the same hands, and He disposes of us as He thinks best. . . . You know my creed: I never send others in advance when there is a doubt; and, being one on whom the country has bestowed its greatest honors, I thought I ought to take the risks which belong to them. So I took the lead. . ."
Lieutenant Webb, CSN, issued instructions to Lieutenant William G. Dozier regarding the defense of Charleston harbor in the event of an attack by the Union ironclads. Should the ironclads steam past the batteries in the harbor, elaborate plans were made to sink them by torpedoes.
C.S.S. Alabama, Captain Semmes, captured ship Morning Star and burned whaling schooner Kingfisher off the Brazilian coast near the equator.
U.S.S. Arizona, Acting Lieutenant Daniel P. Upton, took blockade running sloop Aurelia off Mosquito Inlet, Florida, with cargo of cotton.
24 Brigadier General Alfred 'V. Ellet informed Captain Walke that he intended to send rams Lan-caster and Switzerland past the Vicksburg batteries to support Farragut at Warrenton and in block-ading the Red River. "You will not," the General informed Colonel C. R. Ellet, commanding the ram fleet, ''in the event that either boat is disabled, attempt, under fire of the batteries, to help her off with the other boat, but will run on down, it being of primary importance that one boat at least should get safely by.''
U.S.S. Mount Vernon, Acting Lieutenant Trathen, seized British schooner Mary Jane attempting to run the blockade near New Inlet, North Carolina, with cargo of soap, salt, flour, and coffee.
25 Before daybreak, rams Switzerland and Lancaster got underway to run past Vicksburg to join Rear Admiral Farragut below with U.S.S. Hartford and Albatross. Colonel C. R. Ellet reported: 'The wind was extremely unfavorable, and notwithstanding the caution with which the boats put Out into the middle of the stream, the puff of their escape pipes could be heard with fatal distinctness below. The flashing of the enemy's signal lights from battery to battery as we neared the city showed me that concealment was useless.'' Under full steam, the rams rounded the bend into a concentrated fire from the Confederate works. On board Switzerland, Colonel Ellet noted: ''Shot after shot struck my boat, tearing everything to pieces before them." La,'-caster, under Lieutenant Colonel John A. Ellet, followed, steaming steadily down river, "but," the senior Ellet reported, "I could see the splinters fly from her at every discharge.'' Directly in front of the main Vicksburg batteries, a shell plunged into Switzerland's boiler, stopping the engines. The pilots, who "stood their posts like men," kept the ram in the river and she floated down, still under a hail of shot, to safety. The Lancaster, meanwhile, received a fatal shot which pierced her steam drum '' and enveloped the entire vessel in a terrible cloud of steam About this time,'' reported her commanding officer, ''a heavy plunging shot struck her in the frailest part of her stern, passing longitudinally through her and piercing the hull in the center near the bow, causing an enormous leak in the vessel." She sank almost immediately. The planned joint attack on Warrenton was called off because of the extensive repairs required by the Switzerland.
Farragut wrote Rear Admiral Porter about the difficulties of maintaining the blockade of the Red River with so few ships: ''My isolated position requires that I should be more careful of my ships than I would be if I had my fleet with me. I can not get to a machine shop, or obtain the most ordinary repairs without fighting my way to them." Coal and provisions were set adrift on barges above Vicksburg and floated to Farragut below.
C.S.S. Alabama, Captain Semmes, captured ships Charles Hill and Nora near the equator off the coast of Brazil. Semmes described the capture: 'It was time now for the Alabama to move. Her main yard was swung to the full, sailors might have been seen running up aloft, like so many squirrels, who thought they saw 'nuts' ahead, and pretty soon, upon a given signal the top--gallant sails and royals might have been seen fluttering in the breeze, for a moment, and then extending themselves to their respective yard-arms. A whistle or two from the boatswain and his mates, and the trysail sheets are drawn aft and the Alabama has on those seven-league hoots . . . . A stride or two, and the thing is done. First, the Charles Hill, of Boston, shortens sail, and runs up the 'old flag,' and then the Nora, of the same pious city, follows her example. They were both laden with salt, and both from Liverpool."
U.S.S. Kanawha, Lieutenant Commander William K. Mayo, took schooner Clara attempting to run the blockade at Mobile.
U.S.S. State of Georgia, Commander Armstrong, and U.S.S. Mount Vernon, Acting Lieutenant Trathen, captured blockade running schooner Rising Dawn off New Inlet, North Carolina, with large cargo of salt.
U.S.S. Fort Henry, Acting Lieutenant Edward Y. McCauley, captured blockade running sloop Ranger, from Havana, off Cedar Keys, Florida.
U.S.S. Wachusett, Lieutenant Commander Charles E. Fleming, seized British blockade runner Dolphin between Puerto Rico and St. Thomas Island.
26 Assistant Secretary Fox notified Rear Admiral Du Pont: "We have sent you down the semi-submarine boat 'Alligator' that may be useful in making reconnaissances.'' Alligator, designed by the French inventor Brutus de Villeroy and built for the government in Philadelphia, was 46 feet long, 4 1/2 feet in breadth, and carried a crew of 17 men. She was designed to be propelled by folding oars, but these were replaced at the Washington Navy Yard by a hand operated screw propellor.
27 U.S.S. Hartford engaged and passed below the Confederate batteries being erected at Warrenton. Two days later U.S.S. Albatross joined Rear Admiral Farragut, having waited above the batteries to obtain further coal and provisions which had been floated down on barges from the fleet above Vicksburg.
U.S.S. Pawnee, Commander Balch, supported an Army landing on Cole's Island, South Carolina; Balch joined the Army command ashore for a reconnaissance of the island.
U.S.S Hendrick Hudson, Lieutenant Cate, seized British schooner Pacifique at St. Mark's, Florida.
28 U.S.S. Diana, Acting Master Thomas L. Peterson, reconnoitering the Atchafalaya River, Louisi-ana, with troops embarked, was attacked by Confederate sharpshooters and fieldpieces. In action that lasted almost 3 hours, casualties were heavy, Diana's ''tiller ropes were shot away, the engines disabled, and she finally drifted ashore when it was impossible to fight or defend her longer, and she ultimately surrendered to the enemy."
C.S.S. Florida, Lieutenant Maffitt, captured bark Lapwing, bound from Boston to Batavia with cargo of coal. Maffitt transferred a howitzer and ammunition to the captured bark and renamed her Oreto for use as a tender under Lieutenant S. N. Averett.
U.S.S. Stettin, Acting Master Edward F. Devens, seized blockade running British steamer Aries off Bull's Bay with cargo of liquor.
29 General Grant wrote Rear Admiral Porter requesting gunboat assistance in an anticipated move below Vicksburg. "It looks to me, admiral," Grant wrote, as a matter of vast importance that one or two vessels should be put below Vicksburg, both to cut off the enemy's intercourse with the west bank of the river entirely and to insure a landing on the east bank for our forces if wanted. . . Without the aid of gunboats it will hardly be worthwhile to send troops to New Carthage or to open the passage from here there; preparatory surveys for doing this are now being made." Porter replied the same day: "I am ready to cooperate with you in the matter of landing troops on the other side. . . . If it is your intention to occupy Grand Gulf in force it will be necessary to have vessels there to protect the troops or quiet the fortifications now there. If I do send ves-sels below it will be the best vessels I have, and there will be nothing left to attack Haynes' Bluff, in ease it should be deemed necessary to try it. . . . Before making a gunboat move I should like to get the vessels back from the Yazoo Pass Expedition.''
Commander Duncan, U.S.S. Norwich, reported to Rear Admiral Du Pont the evacuation of Jacksonville, Florida, by Union troops after destroying the greater part of the city.
U.S.S. South Carolina, Commander John J. Almy, captured schooner Nellie off Port Royal.
30 C.S.S. Florida, Lieutenant Maffitt, seized bark M. J. Concord, loaded with provisions, from New York and bound for Cape Town, South Africa. The provisions were taken on board Florida, the crew was put on board Danish brig Christian, and the prize was destroyed. Maffitt wrote: "Living like lords on Yankee plunder."
U.S.S. Monticello, Lieutenant Commander Braine, captured blockade running British schooner Sue off Little River, North Carolina.
31 Confederate troops opened a sustained attack and siege of the Union position at Washington, North Carolina. The assaulting forces erected numerous batteries along the Pamlico River in an effort to check the Union Navy. Nonetheless, the senior naval officer, Commander Daven-port, moved quickly to aid the beleaguered Union soldiers. He dispatched all but two gunboats guarding New Bern to Washington and left only one at Plymouth, before the attack was broken up on 16 April, the warships' heavy gunfire support swung the balance in stopping the Con-federates. In addition, small boats transported desperately needed ammunition to the troops and ultimately it was the waterborne supplies reaching the garrison that induced the Confederates to withdraw. "We were compelled to give up the siege of Washington," Major General A. P. Hill wrote, "as the Yankee supply boats ran the blockade. Two more days would have starved the garrison out." Once again the flexibility of Union naval units had preserved a vital position for the North.
Ram Switzerland, Colonel C. R. Ellet, repairs completed, steamed below Warrenton and joined U.S.S. Hartford and Albatross under Rear Admiral Farragut. The three ships ran past the batteries at Grand Gulf that night, anchored, and next day continued downriver to the mouth of the Red River, destroying Confederate supply skiffs and flatboats en route,
Commander John Guest wrote Rear Admiral S.P. Lee regarding a method for the removal of the ever-dangerous Confederate torpedoes by ''raft and grapnel . . .'' He believed: ''It is perfectly feasible and is decidedly the best means wherever there is a tideaway. A hulk could do as well [to which Admiral Lee objected, 'No! they can be sunk, but rafts can't.'] in some cases with four or five grapnels hung over the side & spars rigged out forward & aft to give a greater spread to the grapnels. . . . After clearing the channel of torpedoes the hulk might be allowed to drift so as to point Out obstructions, or with powder in her and a wire might be used to blow out obstructions.''
U.S.S. Memphis, Lieutenant Commander Watmough, captured British schooner Antelope attempting to run the blockade into Charleston with cargo of salt.
U.S.S. Two Sisters, Acting Master Arthur, took schooner Agnes off Tortugas with cargo of cotton.
31-1 April Lieutenant Commander Gillis, in U.S.S. Commodore Morris, with soldiers embarked pro-ceeded up the Ware River, Virginia, to investigate reports of a large quantity of grain being stored in the area. Thousands of bushels were found at Patterson Smith's plantation. While engaged in seizing the grain the next day, 1 April, the landing party of soldiers and sailors were attacked by Confederate cavalry. Gillis reported: ''The men were immediately formed and a few well directed shots caused a wavering in their ranks, and a cheer and a charge on the part of both sailors and soldiers turned an attack into a retreat. . . Gillis deemed it necessary to destroy the remainder of the grain, "making altogether some 22,000 bushels of grain that the rebels have thus been deprived of.'' The constant loss of essential food stuffs sorely hurt the South.