Civil War Naval History
1 U.S.S. Niphon, Acting Master Kemble, ran British blockade runner Condor aground off New Inlet, North Carolina. Niphon was prevented from destroying the steamer by intense fire from Fort Fisher. Among the passengers on board Condor was one of the most famous Confederate agents of the war, Mrs. Rose O'Neal Greenhow. Mrs. Greenhow, fearful of being captured on the grounded runner with her important dispatches, set out in a boat for shore, but the craft over-turned in the heavy surf. The crew managed to get ashore, but the woman, weighted down by $2,000 in British gold in a pouch around her neck, drowned.
Major General John G. Walker, CSA, reported to the Confederate States War Department that 10 sailors and marines under Captain W. F. Brown, CSMC, and Lieutenant Marcus J. Beebee, CSN, had disguised themselves as passengers on board steamer Ike Davis and had captured her off Brazos, Texas. After overpowering the crew and imprisoning them below, the Confederates took Ike Davis into Matagorda Bay, Texas.
3 Captain Semmes, commander of the famous raider C.S.S. Alabama, embarked from England in steamer Tasmanian for Havana, from where he hoped to return to the Confederacy and report to President Davis for further assignment. The gallant Captain later recalled: "I considered my career upon the high seas closed by the loss of my ship, and had so informed Commodore Barton, who was our Chief of Bureau in Paris." While his most celebrated deeds were behind him, Semmes was to play an able part in the final naval efforts of the Confederacy.
4 C.S.S. Florida, Lieutenant Morris, arrived in Bahia, Brazil, for provisions and coal. Within three days Florida's brilliant career as commerce raider would be closed.
Confederates destroyed the lighthouse at the entrance from Albemarle to Croatan Sound, North Carolina. Commander William H. Macomb, U.S.S. Shamrock, reported: "It was blownup and afterwards set on fire so as to make the destruction complete.''
5 U.S.S. Mobile, Acting Lieutenant Pierre Giraud, seized blockade running British schooner Annie Virdon south of Velasco, Texas, with cargo of cotton.
5-6 Boat expedition commanded by Acting Ensign Henry Eason, U.S.S. Restless, destroyed large salt works on St. Andrew's Bay, Florida, along with 150 buildings used to house the compound and its employees. Salt works, providing as they did both a foodstuff and an invaluable preserva-tive, were a constant target for fast-hitting Union boat expeditions aimed at drying up the source of intended supplies for Southern armies.
6 Acting Master Charles W. Lee, U.S.S. Wamsutta, reported that blockade running steamer Constance had run aground and sunk near Long lsland in Charleston harbor while trying to enter the port. Lee wrote: ". . . as she is completely submerged in about 3 fathoms water I could ascertain nothing about her except that she is a Clyde-built vessel, of the class of the Mary Bowers, and was evidently bound in."
7 U.S.S. Wachusett, Commander Napoleon Collins, captured C.S.S. Florida, Lieutenant Morris, in Bahia harbor, Brazil, and towed her out to sea. Collins, who had been scouring the sea lanes for the Confederate raider for many months, saw her enter Bahia on 4 October and anchored close by the next morning. Collins offered to meet Morris outside the harbor in a ship duel, but the Confederate captain wisely declined. The Brazilian authorities, recognizing the explo-siveness of the situation, exacted promises from both Lieutenant Morris and the U.S. Consul, Thomas Wilson, that no attacks would be made in Brazilian waters. Collins was not to allow elusive Florida to escape, however, and plans were laid to attack her shortly after midnight on the 7th. At 3 a.m. he slipped his cable, steamed past the Brazilian gunboat anchored between his ship and Florida, and rammed the famous raider on her starboard quarter. After a brief exchange of cannon fire, Lieutenant Porter, commanding Florida in Morris's absence, surrendered the ship. By this time the harbor was alive, and as Wachusett towed her long-sought prize to sea, the coastal fort opened fire on her.
Collins' actions, though cheered in the North where Florida was a household name because of her continued "depradations", were in violation of international law, and prompt disavowal of them was made by Secretary of State Seward. Florida was taken to Hampton Roads, arriving there on 12 November. She was ordered returned to the Brazilian Government, but before she could be made ready for sea she mysteriously sank. Commander Collins was courtmartialed and ordered to be dismissed from the naval service. At the trial, the dauntless captain admitted his actions had violated international law, offering in his defense only the following statement: "I respectfully request that it may be entered on the records of the court as my defense that the capture of the Florida was for the public good."
Secretary Welles concurred, especially in view of the vast damage done by C.S.S. Florida to Union commerce, and, restored Collins to his command. The furor over the capture, however, did not die down. At length, to further satisfy Brazil, a 21-gun salute as an "amende honorable" was fired by U.S.S. Nipsic in Bahia harbor, 23 July 1866.
U.S.S. Aster, Acting Master Samuel Hall, chased blockade runner Annie ashore at New Inlet, North Carolina, under the guns of Fort Fisher, but the 285-ton wooden steamer ran aground herself and was destroyed to prevent capture. U.S.S. Niphon, Acting Master Kemble, rescued Hall and his men and, under a hail of fire from Confederate batteries, towed out U.S.S. Berberry, which had become disabled trying to pull Aster off the shoal.
8 Steamer Sea King sailed from London under merchant captain G. H. Corbett to rendezvous with S.S. Laurel at Madeira. Sea King carried a number of Confederate officers including Lieutenant William C. Whittle; Laurel put to sea later the same day carrying Lieutenant James I. Waddell, who, when the rendezvous was effected, would take command of Sea King and commission her as C.S.S. Shenandoah. Laurel also carried the armaments and supplies that would sustain Shenan-doah on her long voyage as a Confederate raider. Commander Bulloch later reported Shenandoah's ''safe departure" and "that the entire expedition is far away at sea, beyond the reach of interference of any United States authority in Europe. . . ."
Steam Picket Boat No. 2, Acting Ensign Andrew Stockholm, was captured by Confederate troops in Wicomico Bay, Virginia. The boat was one of two purchased by Lieutenant Cushing in New York for the expedition against C.S.S. Albemarle, and was en route in company with Picket Boat No. 1 to Fortress Monroe. Mechanical troubles forced No. 2 ashore for repairs, and while these were in progress, No. I continuing ahead, Stockholm and his men were attacked by a body of guerrillas. He reported: "I immediately returned their fire, and fought them until I had ex-pended my last cartridge; previous to which I had slipped my cable, and in trying to get out of the enemy's reach, grounded on a sand bar." Stockholm succeeded in burning the boat and de-stroying his supplies before he and his men were captured. Lieutenant Cushing was highly in-dignant at what he considered the unnecessary loss of one of his boats, and later wrote of it: "This was a great misfortune and I have never understood how so stupid a thing could have happened. I forget the name of the volunteer ensign to whose care it was intrusted, but am pleased to know that he was taken prisoner. I trust that his bed was not of down or his food that of princes while in rebel hands."
Flag Officer Mitchell wrote Secretary Mallory regarding the enlistment of Union deserters for duty with the James River Squadron: "I beg that no more deserters from the enemy be sent to the squadron in future, for they are apt not only to desert themselves, but induce others to do so who might otherwise continue loyal. The fidelity of no man can be relied upon who has ever proved a traitor to any flag he has engaged to serve under. They form a dangerous element on board a ship." The difficulty of procuring qualified and competent officers and men to man the ships of the James River Squadron was to continue to the end of the war.
9 A Confederate battery near Freeman's wharf, Mobile Bay, opened fire on side-wheeler U.S.S. Sebago, Lieutenant Commander Fitzhugh, which was guarding the approaches to Mobile. "There was no evidence of earthworks when these guns were fired," Fitzhugh reported; "they were so masked as to make them difficult to be seen." Sebago returned the Confederate fire for an hour, sustaining five casualties.
10 U.S.S. Key West, Acting Lieutenant King, U.S.S. Undine, Acting Master Bryant, in company with transports City Of Pekin, Kenton, and Aurora, were surprised by Confederate shore batteries off Eastport, Mississippi, on the Tennessee River, and after a severe engagement, were forced to retire downriver. The combined operation to take Eastport was designed to secure the river at that point against the crossing of General Forrest's cavalry and provide an outpost against the threatened advance of Confederate General Hood from the East. Departing Clifton, Tennessee, on 9 October with the gunboats in the van, the force steamed up the river and cautiously approached Eastport. Finding no evidence of the Southerners, the Federal troops began to land. Suddenly, masked batteries on both sides of the river opened a severe crossfire, immediately disabling transports Aurora and Kenton and causing widespread confusion among the troops. Key West and Undine, both steamers of about 200 tons, engaged the batteries hotly. Seeing the two disabled transports drifting downstream out of control, Lieutenant King ordered Undine to follow them, while he stayed at Eastport to cover City o] Pekin as troops re-embarked and to escort her downstream in retreat.
U.S.S. Montgomery, Lieutenant Faucon, captured blockade running British steamer Bat near Wilmington with cargo of coal and machinery.
12 Rear Admiral David Dixon Porter assumed command of the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron, relieving Acting Rear Admiral Lee. In one of his early general orders, Porter said: ''It will be almost useless to enjoin on all officers the importance of their being vigilant at all times. We have an active enemy to deal with, and every officer and man must be on the alert . . . . Porter's efforts would soon turn to the most effective means of enforcing the blockade– the capture of Wilmington, the main port of entry.
Rear Admiral Cornelius K. Stribling relieved Captain Greene as commander of the East Gulf Blockading Squadron. Captain Greene had assumed temporary command upon the departure of Rear Admiral Bailey in August 1864.
U.S.S. Chocura, Lieutenant Commander Richard W. Meade, Jr., captured blockade running British schooner Louisa off Aransas Pass, Texas, with cargo including iron and tools.
13 Rear Admiral Farragut, a leader with keen understanding of men as well as great skill and courage, wrote to his son, Loyall, from Mobile Bay regarding the young man's studies: . . . remember also that one of the requisite studies for an officer is man. Where your analytical geometry will serve you once, a knowledge of men will serve you daily. As a commander, to get the right men in the right place is one of the questions of success or defeat."
13-15 Boat expedition from U.S.S. Braziliera, Acting Master Gillespie, and U.S.S. Mary Sanford, Acting Master Zaccheus Kempton, freed a number of slaves from a plantation on White Oak Creek, Georgia, and engaged a company of Confederate cavalry at Yellow Bluff. The Union gunboats succeeded in driving off the Southerners.
15 Acting Master's Mate Woodman completed his third daring and successful reconnaissance of the Confederate position at Plymouth, North Carolina, reporting C.S.S. Albemarle moored to the wharf as before, and the apparent abandonment of efforts to raise the captured steamer Southfield.
18 Major General Thomas, commanding Union forces in Tennessee, wired Major General Sherman concerning his plans for opposing General Hood's thrust into Tennessee: I have arranged with Lieutenant [Commander] Greer, commanding gunboat fleet on lower Tennessee, to patrol the river as far up as Eastport [Mississippi]. Lieutenant Glassford, commanding between Bridgeport and Decatur [Alabama] patrols that portion on the river daily, and cooperates with me very cordially." As Hood approached Tuscumbia and his rendezvous with General Forrest's cavalry, Union commanders became increasingly concerned with measures to keep the Confederates from crossing the Tennessee River in Alabama, and relied heavily on the gunboats of the Mississippi Squadron for this duty as well as for intelligence. During the climactic campaign between the forces of Thomas and those of Hood, the close cooperation and support of naval forces played a key role.
19 Sea King, the sleek, fast ship Commander Bulloch had obtained for the Confederate cause in England, rendezvoused with tender Laurel north of the island of Las Desertas in the Madeiras. Sea King was sold to the Confederate States and renamed C.S.S. Shenandoah, after which guns, powder, supplies, and crewmembers from Laurel were loaded. Lieutenant Waddell, who had sailed from England in Laurel, assumed command of the cruiser and remarked: "Each of us asked himself instinctively, what great adventures shall we meet in her? What will be her ultimate fate?'' Shenandoah, one of Bulloch's greatest successes, was destined to become one of the most effective commerce raiders of the war and the last warship to sail under the Confederate flag.
U.S.S. Mobile, Acting Lieutenant Giraud, captured schooner Emily off San Luis Pass, Texas, with cargo of 150 bales of cotton.
Even in the midst of blockade duty afloat, Union sailors were able to vote in the presidential election. Rear Admiral Dahlgren ordered Acting Master John K. Crosby, U.S.S. Harvest Moon to "proceed with the U.S.S. Harvest Moon under your command to Savannah River, Wassaw, Ossabaw, Sapelo, and Doboy [Sounds], and communicate with the vessels there, in order to collect the 'sailors' votes already distributed for that purpose. A number of ballots will be given you, in order to enable the men to vote.
19-20 Boat expedition under Acting Master George E. Hill, U.S.S. Stars and Stripes, ascended the Ocklockonee River in Western Florida and destroyed an extensive Confederate fishery on Marsh's Island, capturing a detachment of soldiers assigned to guard the works. In small and large operations, assault from the sea destroyed the South's resources.
21 U.S.S. Fort Jackson, Captain Sands, captured steamer Wando at sea east of Cape Romain, South Carolina, with cargo of cotton.
U.S.S. Sea Bird, Ensign E. L. Robbins, captured blockade running British schooner Lucy off Anclote Keys, Florida, with assorted cargo.
22 Rear Admiral Porter, in a confidential letter to Commander Macomb, commanding naval forces in Albemarle sound, set down instructions for engaging C.S.S. Albemarle, should the ram again come out to challenge Union control of the Sounds: "There is but one chance for wooden vessels in attacking an ironclad. You will, in case she comes out, make a dash at her with every vessel you have, and 'lay her on board', using canister to fire into her ports, while the ram strikes her steering apparatus and disables her. You will see that every vessel is provided with proper grapnels, to hold on by while going alongside, and a boarding party will be appointed to lash the vessels together. Even if half your vessels are sunk you must pursue this course. Porter added: "I have directed Lieutenant Cushing to go down in a steam launch, and if possible destroy this ram with torpedoes. I have no great confidence in his success, but you will afford him all the assistance in your power, and keep boats ready to pick him up in case of failure."
In answer to the objections of Major General Whiting and Governor Vance of North Carolina (see September 1864), Secretary Mallory wrote to President Davis defending the use of C.S.S. Tallahassee and Chickamauga as commerce cruisers rather than holding them for the defense of Wilmington: "Though the Tallahassee captured thirty-one vessels her service is not limited to the value of these ships and cargoes and the number of prisoners; but it must be estimated in connec-tion with other results the consequent insecurity of the United States coastwise commerce, the detention and delay of vessels in port, and the augmentation of the rates of marine insurance, by which millions were added to the expenses of commerce and navigation, the compulsory withdrawal of a portion of the blockading force from Wilmington in pursuit of her. A cruise by the Chickamauga and Tallahassee against northern coasts and commerce would at once withdraw ii fleet of fast steamers from the blockading force off Wilmington in pursuit of them, and this result alone would render such a cruise expedient."
Union shore batteries on the north bank of the James River at Signal Hill opened fire suddenly on Ships of the Confederate Squadron, anchored in the river at that point. Wooden gunboat C.S.S. Drewry, Lieutenant Wall, sustained moderate damage, and after engaging the batteries for about one hour, the Southern vessels retired under the protection of the guns of Fort Darling, on Chaffin's Bluff.
British blockade running steamer Flora, after being chased by U.S.S. Wamsutta, Geranium, and Mingoe off Charleston, was run ashore and destroyed next day by fire from monitors and the batter-ies on Morris Island.
U.S.S. Eolus, Acting Master William O. Lundt, captured Confederate blockade running steamer Hope near Wilmington with cargo of machinery.
22-24 Acting Ensign Sommers, U.S.S. Tacony, led a reconnaissance party up the Roanoke River, North Carolina. While returning, the party was fired on by Confederates and forced to seek cover in a swamp. After constructing a make-shift raft to support his wounded, Sommers suc-ceeded in reaching the mouth of the river, where he was picked up by Union forces. Four other members of his party, missing in the swamp for four days, were rescued by Union scouts on 29 October.
23 Blockade runner Flamingo, aground off Sullivan's Island, South Carolina, was destroyed by shell fire from Forts Strong and Putnam, Battery Chatfield, and ships of Rear Admiral Dahlgren's South Atlantic Blockading Squadron.
24 In light of the increased difficulty of manning his ships and mounting danger from Union torpedoes in the James River, Flag Officer Mitchell considered withdrawal of his squadron upriver closer to Richmond. In response to the Flag Officer's request for his views on the subject, General Robert E. Lee wrote: "If the enemy succeeds in throwing a force to the south bank [of the James River] in rear of General Pickett's lines, it will necessitate not only the withdrawal of General P. 's forces, but also the abandonment of Petersburg and its railroad connections, throwing the whole army back to the defenses of Richmond. . . . I fully appreciate the importance of preserving our fleet, and deprecate any unnecessary exposure of it. But you will perceive the magnitude of the service which it is thought you can render, and determine whether it is sufficient to justify the risk. . . . As I said before, I can forsee no state of circumstances in which the fleet can render more important aid in the defense of Richmond at present than by guarding the river below Chaffin's Bluff."
U.S.S. Nita, Acting Lieutenant Robert B. Smith, captured schooner Unknown off Clearwater Harbor, Florida, after her crew had escaped.
U.S.S. Rosalie, Acting Ensign Henry W. Wells, captured an unidentified blockade running sloop off Little Marco, Florida, with cargo of salt and shoes.
25 Expedition from U.S.S. Don Commander F. A. Parker, landed at Fleet's Point, in the Great Wicomico River, Virginia, and burned houses, barns, and outbuildings formerly used as shelter by the home guards of Northumberland County while firing on vessels of the Potomac Flotilla. Four boats were also burned and five others captured.
Rear Admiral George F. Pearson assumed command of the Pacific Squadron relieving Rear Admiral C.H. Bell.
26 U.S.S. Adolph Hugel, Acting Master Sylvanus Nickerson, captured schooner Coquette with cargo including tobacco and wheat at Wade's Bay on the Eastern shore of the Potomac River. Two days later sloop James Landry was also seized by Nickerson for violation of the blockade regula-tions. Nickerson took sloop Zion as a prize on 2 November, as the Potomac Flotilla alertly continued its ceaseless efforts to stifle even the smallest trickle of goods flowing from Southern sympathizers in Union dominated areas to the beleaguered Confederate forces in Virginia.
27 Boat expedition commanded by Lieutenant William Barker Cushing destroyed C.S.S. Albemarle at Plymouth, on the Roanoke River, North Carolina. Cushing reported to Rear Admiral Porter on 30 October: "I have the honor to report that the rebel ironclad Albemarle is at the bottom of the Roanoke River." In July the redoubtable Cushing, only 21 years old, bad been sent to Washington by Rear Admiral Lee to discuss with the Navy Department his plans for sinking the Confederate ram. He proposed at that time two plans, one involving a boarding party to travel overland and attack with india rubber boats, and the other calling for two steam launches to approach the ram's moorings on the river. Both plans envisaged the capture of the ram, since Cushing wanted to destroy her only if it became necessary. Secretary Welles assented to the plan, and gave the daring Lieutenant permission to proceed to New York to procure the necessary boats.
Cushing finally decided upon two thirty-foot steam picket launches, each fitted with a fourteen-foot spar and a torpedo, and mounting a twelve-pounder howitzer in the bow. Moving south by the inland water route, one of the picket boats was lost to the Confederates (see 8 October 1864), but the other arrived in the sounds of North Carolina on 24 October. As Cushing later reported: "Here I, for the first time, disclosed to my officers and men our object and told them that they were at liberty to go or not as they pleased. These, seven in number, all volunteered."
The imaginative attack seemed at first doomed to failure. Cushing departed the night of 26 October, but grounded at the mouth of Roanoke River, and spent most of the hours of darkness freeing his small craft. The attempt was postponed until 27 October.
That night was dark and foul. Cushing was accompanied by fourteen men, an additional seven having been recruited from the blockading squadron. Among them were his old com-panion, Acting Master's Mate William L. Howorth, and that veteran of Roanoke reconnaissance patrols, Acting Master's Mate John Woodman. Towed behind the torpedo boat was a cutter from U.S.S. Shamrock whose duty, as Cushing described it,". . . was to dash aboard the Southfield at the first hail and prevent any rocket from being ignited." Southfield had been captured by Con-federates in an earlier action with Albemarle (see 19 April 1864) and was sunk in the Roanoke a mile below the ironclad's berth. With the steam engine's throb muffled by a heavy tarpaulin, the expedition moved out to cover the eight miles between Albemarle Sound and Plymouth, keeping close to the bank and anticipating discovery at any moment. Cushing's renowned good fortune held, however, and he succeeded in passing within twenty feet of Southfield without being chal-lenged. The lieutenant still hoped to board Albemarle and ''take her alive'', but as he steamed up to the ram, an alert picket saw the dim form of the boat and challenged. Cushing instantly changed his plan: ". . . just as I was sheering in close to the wharf a hail came sharp and quick from the ironclad, in an instant repeated. I at once directed the cutter to cast off and go down to capture the guard left in our rear [on board Southfield], and ordering all steam, went at the dark mountain of iron in front of us. A heavy fire at once opened upon us, not only from the ship, but from the men stationed on the shore, but this did not disable us and we neared them rapidly." A large fire now blazed up on shore, and Cushing discovered a large boom of protective logs sur-rounding the Confederate ship. Amid the mounting fire, he cooly turned the boat around in order to run at the obstructions at full speed. "As I turned the whole back of my coat was torn out by buck shot and the sole of my shoe was carried away. The fire was very severe. In the lull of the firing the Captain hailed us, again demanding what boat it was. All my men gave comical answer and mine was a dose of canister which I sent amongst them from the howitzer, buzzing and singing against the iron ribs and into the mass of men standing fire-lit upon the shore." According to the recollections of Acting Ensign Thomas Gay, later captured, Cushing shouted: "Leave the ram, or I'll blow you to pieces!" No response was heard, and Cushing ran through the hail of fire at full speed, his boat lurching over the log barrier. "The torpedo boom was lowered and by a vigorous pull I succeeded in diving the torpedo under the overhang and exploding it at the same time that the Albemarle's gun was fired. A shot seemed to go chasing through my boat, and a dense mass of water rushed in from the torpedo, filling the launch and completely disabling her."
Albemarle, a gaping hole in her port quarter, began to sink rapidly. Lieutenant Warley, com-manding Albemarle reported: ''The water gained on us so fast that all exertions were fruitless, and the vessel went down in a few moments, merely leaving her shield and smokestack out." Cushing found his own boat sinking but, refusing to surrender in the midst of the enemy, ordered his men to save themselves and started to swim for shore. Although he had exploded the torpedo virtually staring down the muzzle of Albemarle's gun, he was miraculously unharmed. Making for shore, he tried to save the gallant John Woodman, who was unable to swim any longer, but Wood man sank. Cushing finally pulled himself half onto the bank and lay exhausted until morning. Find-ing himself near a Confederate picket station, he managed to seize a skiff and rowed the eight miles downstream to Albemarle Sound. There he was picked op by U.S.S. Valley City.
When news of the dashing young lieutenant's feat reached the squadron, rockets were set off, and all hands called to "cheer ship". Elated, Porter said that Lieutenant Cushing had "dis-played a heroic enterprise seldom equalled and never excelled. . . . He has shown an absolute disregard of death or danger, and will no doubt be suitably rewarded by the Government, which reward he well deserves." The Admiral's enthusiasm was well founded, for the destruction of Albemarle paved the way for the capture of Plymouth and firm control of the entire Roanoke River area. It also released ships that had been guarding against the ram for other blockade duties.
Congress commended Cushing for his bravery and enterprise, and promoted him to Lieutenant Commander. Edward J. Houghton, the only other man to escape death or capture, was awarded the medal of honor.
28 U.S.S. General Thomas, Acting Master Gilbert Morton, engaged Confederate batteries near Decatur, Alabama, on the Tennessee River. Paddle-wheeler General Thomas sustained damage but passed the batteries, rounded to and, with Army gunboat Stone River, poured such a withering crossfire into the emplacements that the Southerners abandoned them. Brigadier General Robert Granger, commanding Union troops in the area, described the action: "It was impossible for men to withstand this attack. They deserted their guns, a portion of them retreating to their main line, while many of them rushed down the bank and sought the protection of the trees at the waters edge. The guns of the boats, double-shotted with canister, were turned upon them at a distance of scarcely 300 yards, and poured in a terrible fire." As the Confederates under General Hood neared the Tennessee River in their campaign to divert Sherman by invading Tennessee, patroling Union gunboats, invaluable not only in guarding against river crossings, but also in collecting vital information about troop movements, were attacked by mobile field batteries with increasing frequency and intensity.
Captain Pennock, temporarily in command of the Mississippi Squadron, issued an order stressing: 'The enemy must not be allowed to cross the [Mississippi] river. Officers in command will develop their utmost vigilance and activity, and take every precaution to prevent such a move-ment. Vessels must be kept in motion night and day." The inability of major Confederate forces to cross the Mississippi from the West in the face of patroling Union gunboats illustrated the vast importance of Union naval control of the river, and was a major factor in the developing Tennessee campaign.
C.S.S. Chickamauga, Lieutenant, John Wilkinson, sortied from Wilmington harbor, eluded the block-ading vessels off the bar, and put to sea as a commerce raider.
U.S.S. Calypso, Acting Master Stuart, and U.S.S. Eolus, Acting Master Lundt, captured blockade running British steamer Lady Sterling at sea off Wilmington with cargo of cotton and tobacco.
29 C.S.S. Olustee, formerly C.S.S. Tallahassee, Lieutenant William H. Ward, eluded the blockaders off Wilmington. Ward returned to Wilmington on 7 November after a brief but successful cruise, having destroyed bark Empress Theresa, schooners A. J. Bird, F. F. Lewis, and Vapor, ship Arcole, and brig T. D. Wagner during the first three days of November.
29-1 November Capitalizing on Lieutenant Cushing's success in destroying C.S.S. Albemarle, Com-mander Macomb moved upon Plymouth, North Carolina, capturing the town and its defenses after a heated engagement. Immediately after Cushing's return, on 29 October, Macomb steamed up the Roanoke with six ships. U.S.S. Valley City, Acting Master John A. J. Brooks, proceeded via Middle River and entered the Roanoke above Plymouth to cut off the garrison's escape by water. Macomb's gunboats engaged the lower batteries protecting the to-n, but, seeing that two schooners had been sunk abreast the wreck of U.S.S. Southfield, obstructing the river, withdrew to Albemarle Sound. On the 30th, Macomb took his fleet through the Middle River to attack the city and its defenses from above, spending the entire day in navigating the treacherous channels and shelling the Confederate works at long range. On 31 October, Macomb formed his line of battle, with converted ferryboat U.S.S. Commodore Hull, Acting Master Francis Josselyn, in the van, followed by side-wheel double-enders U.S.S. Tacony, Lieutenant Commander Truxtun, U.S.S. Shamrock, Commander Macomb, U.S.S. Otsego, Lieutenant Commander Henry N. T. Arnold, and U.S.S. Wyalusing, Lieutenant Commander English. Tinclad U.S.S. Whitehead, Acting Master Barrett, was lashed to the port side of Tacony, with tugs Bazely and Belle lashed to Shamrock and Otsego. The fleet steamed boldly up and engaged the Plymouth batteries and rifle pits at close range. A violent battle ensued in which Commodore Hull sustained heavy damage. The Union cannonade detonated a large magazine ashore with a tremendous explosion shortly thereafter. The Southerners began to evacuate their fortifications Macomb reported: ''I then made signal to cease firing, and then to land and take possession of the batteries, which was done without resistance." A landing party from U.S.S. Wyalusing entered Fort Williams, captured prisoners and raised the Stars and Stripes again over Plymouth.
At Plymouth Macomb captured 37 prisoners, 22 cannon, a large quantity of stores, 200 stand of arms, and the sunken but still important C.S.S. Albemarle. For his dashing and timely action, Macomb was praised by Secretary Welles and advanced ten numbers in grade by Congress. Presi-dent Lincoln enthusiastically recommended the advancement, speaking of Commander Macomb's "distinguished conduct in the capture of the town of Plymouth, North Carolina. . . ." The Union again held this strategic town and thus commanded the Roanoke River, Albemarle Sound, and threatened the interior of North Carolina from the sea.
30 C.S.S. Shenandoah, Lieutenant Waddell, captured and scuttled bark Alina due south of the Azores and due west of Dakar. Alina, a new bark on her maiden voyage, was Shenandoah's first prize. She carried a cargo of railroad iron. Waddell wrote: ''It was fortunate my first capture could be scuttled, for the steamer's position was good and a bonfire would have given alarm to all Yankees within 30 miles, and then, too, a cruiser might have been in the neighborhood, which would have [been] attracted by the red glare of the sky and interfered with our fun . . . we were forced to destroy our prizes because we were not allowed to take them into a neutral port [for] adjudication."
Confederate batteries on the Tennessee River near Johnsonville, Tennessee, fired on and captured U.S.S. Undine, Acting Master Bryant, and transports Venus and Cheeseman, after a sharp engage-ment. Undine had convoyed transport Anna to a point below Sandy Island, and was returning upstream when the sound of artillery was heard further down the Tennessee. Bryant came about to investigate, and near Paris Landing was attacked by a battery of several guns and volleys of musketry. While Undine was fiercely engaging the Confederates, transport Venus steamed down the river, and notwithstanding Bryant's warning passed by the batteries and joined him in the engagement. About twenty minutes later, another transport, Cheeseman, also came down river, and was immediately disabled and captured. Undine continued to fire on the batteries for nearly three hours, when her ammunition was nearly exhausted and her engine disabled. Unable to resist further, Bryant hauled down his flag but, when this was not observed by the Confederates and firing continued, he unsuccessfully attempted to destroy his vessel. Undine was taken intact, as well as the two transports, which could be put to good service in ferrying troops across the Tennessee River. The attacking Southern troops, operating in territory long under Union control, were part of General Nathan B. Forrest's cavalry, who were attempting to cross the Tennessee River and join forces with General Hood for the large-scale Confederate assault on Tennessee. By this drive into Tennessee, Hood and Forrest hoped to sever General Sherman's supply lines, forcing him to abandon the march across Georgia.
31 C.S.S. Chickamauga, Lieutenant Wilkinson, captured and burned off the northeast coast of the United States the ship Emma L. Hall, with cargo of sugar and molasses, and ship Shooting Star, with cargo of coal. Wilkinson transferred the passengers of Shooting Star to a passing vessel, Albion Lincoln, which headed directly for New York to spread the alarm. Wilkinson later wrote of the transfer of prisoners: "In truth, I was relieved from an awkward dilemma by the opportune capture of the Albion Lincoln for there was absolutely no place for a female aboard the Chickamauga. I do not doubt, however, that the redoubtable Mrs. Drinkwater [wife of Shooting Star's Master] would have accommodated herself to the circumstances by turning me out of my own cabin. Heavens! what a tongue she wielded! The young officers of the Chickamauga relieved each other in boat duty to and fro and she routed every one of them ignominiously."
U.S.S. Katahdin, Lieutenant Commander John Irwin, captured British blockade runner Albert Edward off Galveston with cargo of cotton.
U.S.S. Wilderness, Acting Master Henry Arey, and U.S.S. Niphon, Acting Master Kemble, seized blockade running British steamer Annie off New Inlet, North Carolina, with cargo of tobacco, cotton, and turpentine. Concerned by reports that the two Captains had failed to signal other patroling ships in the vicinity during the chase of Annie in order to obtain a larger share of the prize money, Rear Admiral Porter wrote: This war is not being conducted for the benefit of officers or to enrich them by the capture of prizes, and every commander is deficient in the high moral character which has always been inherent in the Navy who for a moment consults his private interests in preference to the public good, hesitates to destroy what is the property of the enemy, or attempts to benefit himself at the expense of others . . . Honor and glory should be the watchword of the Navy, and not profit."