Archive for the 'Civil War Navy Sesquicentennial' Category

Aug 24

The Union Navy’s Stubby Gun

Monday, August 24, 2015 9:00 AM

By Spencer C. Tucker

Adapted from “Armaments and Innovations,” Naval History, April 2014

 

Early in the Civil War, specially built boats mounting 13-inch mortars were active on the upper Mississippi. But numerous problems with the raft-like craft led their commander to report that their "services have not been near equal to their cost." (Battles and Leaders of the Civil War)

Early in the Civil War, specially built boats mounting 13-inch mortars were active on the upper Mississippi. But numerous problems with the raft-like craft led their commander to report that their “services have not been near equal to their cost.” (Battles and Leaders of the Civil War)

The 13-inch Civil War sea mortar was a formidable weapon. But the use of this type of gun was not new; since the 17th century, high-trajectory mortar fire from special vessels known as bombs or bomb ketches had been used for shore bombardment. Heavy ordnance was more easily moved about on ships than on land, and the large sea mortars were mounted on strong beds turned on vertical pivots. Their explosive shells, fired at high angle, easily cleared the walls of forts to strike the targets within.

The 13-inch weapon weighed 17,250 pounds and rested on a 4,500-pound bed, or carriage. With a 20-pound charge of powder and the mortar at a 41-degree elevation, it could hurl a 204-pound shell loaded with 7 pounds of powder more than 2¼ miles. At that distance the shell was in flight for 30 seconds. The range could be adjusted by altering the powder charge or changing the mortar’s elevation. Read the rest of this entry »

 
Jan 11

H.L. Hunley Fully Visible for the First Time

Wednesday, January 11, 2012 11:06 AM

HL Hunley in its conservation tank at the Warren Lasch Conservation Center, Charleston.

On February 17, 1864, Confederate-built H.L. Hunley became the world’s first successful combat submarine when it attacked and sank the 1240-short ton screw sloop USS Housatonic at the entrance to the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina. H.L. Hunley surfaced briefly to signal a successful mission to comrades on shore with a blue magnesium light, after which it was never seen again. All eight of its crewmen were presumed lost and despite multiple search efforts, the submarine could not be relocated. 

Over 136 years later, on 8 August, 2000, H.L. Hunley was raised from the sea floor using a specially-designed support frame, or truss. A multi-disciplinary team, under Project Director and Head of the NHHC Underwater Archaeology Branch, Dr. Robert Neyland, coordinated Hunley‘s recovery. 

Post recovery, the 40-foot, 17,000 pound truss continued to support the sub in a custom built, 90,000-gallon conservation tank at Warren Lasch Conservation Center in Charleston, SC while it underwent archaeological investigation. During the careful, year long excavation of its interior, H.L. Hunley remained in the same tilted position in which it was found to ensure minimal disturbance of its contents. Conservation of the recovered artifacts is being conducted by professionals from the Warren Lasch Conservation Center and Clemson University. In 2011, after the interior of the hull had been completely excavated, Hunley was re-positioned so that it now sits upright and no longer requires the support of the truss, which will be removed tomorrow morning on 12 January, 2012.

Throughout its treatment, the submarine has been on display to the public, however, when the truss is removed, visitors finally will be able to have a fully-unobstructed view of the vessel in its conservation tank.

A 3-D animation of the recovery and rotation of H.L. Hunley may be viewed here: Hunley Submarine Rotation

For more information on the H.L. Hunley project, please visit the Friends of the Hunley website: http://www.hunley.org/ 

HL Hunley in its truss at the Warren Lasch Conservation Center, Charleston.

 
Nov 3

Port Royal Week on the CWN 150 Blog

Thursday, November 3, 2011 3:11 PM

This week, the Civil War Navy Sesquicentennial is celebration the commemoration of the Port Royal Expedition. The expedition, which entered the sound on 3 November 1861, was the largest assemblage of ships (77) by the U.S. Navy at that point. The battle was an overwhelming victory for the Union, as well as a testament to combined Army/Navy operations that would subsist for the remainder of the war. 

CWN 150 bloggers are focusing their attention on the battle this week HERE.

The blog will show the most up to date information. There are now several posts about the history of the event, anecdotes and profiles of pivital figures involved, and special programs offered for the sesquicentennial anniversary in South Carolina. Port Royal blog posts will appear until 7 November. 

The following is the list of current Port Royal Blog posts at the Civil War Navy 150 blog (in order of most recent): 

Brother Against Brother at Port Royal

Storms off the South Carolina Coast

Navy Leadership at Port Royal

Port Royal Week for CWN 150 Bloggers

The Port Royal Expedition and the NY Times

The 1861 “Expedition Hurricane” and Port Royal

 
Aug 31

The “Expedition Hurricane” and Port Royal

Wednesday, August 31, 2011 9:31 AM
1861 Hurricane Season

 

The East Coast is stilling the effects of Hurricane Irene’s grasp. The CAT 1 storm cut a swath up the East Coast, causing widespread damage from North Carolina to Vermont. We sincerely hope everyone was safe during this past weekend’s storm. 

Looking through the records, it seems that a similar hurricane to Irene occurred 150 years ago. On the heels of the Port Royal Expedition, Hurricane Eight, better known as the “Expedition Hurricane,” severely impacted the timeline for the Union thrust into the vital Confederate stronghold. 

According to the National Hurricane Center, the three day storm was the last of the season. “Hurricane Eight” began on the southwestern tip of Florida and climbed up the east coast. Not unlike Irene, the storm made landfall along the Outer Banks of North Carolina as a CAT 1, slowly diminishing speed up the coast before downgrading to a tropical storm by nightfall on 2 November. At its height, the hurricane reached winds approaching 80 mph.

The storm caused many problems for the United States Navy preparing for the expedition to capture the Confederate center along the Port Royal Sound. Although the earliest storm warning occurred in late October while the fleet assembled, the most devastating impact came on the 2nd.

Most of the ships involved in the storm were spared, many having to unload precious cargo to stay afloat. One ship which did not fair well, the transport Governor, lost seven Marines during a fateful rescue by the USS Sabine‘s crew. Writing to Blockade commander Samuel F. Du Pont, Southern Division Marine Corps Commander JNO. George Reynolds communicated the harrowing wind, waves, and rescue:

“The sea was running so high, and we being tossed so violently, it was deemed prudent to slack up the hawser and let the Governor fall astern of the frigate with the faint hope of weathering the gale till morning. All our provisions and other stores, indeed every movable article, were thrown overboard, and the water casks started to lighten the vessel. From half past 3 until daybreak the Governor floated in comparative safety, notwithstanding the water was rapidly gaining on her. At daybreak preparations were made for sending boats to our relief although the sea was running high, and it being exceedingly dangerous for a boat to approach the guards of the steamer. In consequence the boats laid off and the men were obliged to jump into the sea, amid were then hauled into the boats. All hands were thus providentially rescued from the wreck with the exception, I am pained to say, of 1 corporal and 6 privates, who were drowned or killed by the crush or contact of the vessels. Those drowned were lost through their disobedience of orders in leaving the ranks, or abandoning their posts.”

 

Despite the loss of ship and life, the fleet of 77 ships went on to capture the sound at the Battle of Port Royal. Stay tuned in November to the Civil War Navy Sesquicentennial Blog for more information on that specific battle.

 
Jul 1

Civil War at Sea – Navy TV

Friday, July 1, 2011 5:48 AM

Home > Navy Memorial > Civil War at Sea
Civil War at Sea

The Navy Memorial hosted an all-day symposium on April 23, 2011 called the “Civil War at Sea.” Historians, curators, Civil War reenactors, archaeologists and authors convened to discuss the Confederate and Union navies’ contributions to the War. Fascinating presentations! If you missed them, watch them here on NavyTV

 
May 26

Navy TV – Civil War at Sea

Thursday, May 26, 2011 2:34 PM

The Navy Memorial hosted an all-day symposium on April 23: the “Civil War at Sea.” Historians, curators, Civil War reenactors, archaeologists and authors convened to discuss the Confederate and Union navies’ contributions to the War. Watch the keynote address by Craig Symonds, renowned Civil War navies’ historian and author here on NavyTV.

 
Feb 24

Black History Month Highlight: Medal of Honor Recipient John Lawson

Thursday, February 24, 2011 3:13 PM

Biography and images courtesy of the Naval History and Heritage Command.

John Lawson was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on 16 June 1837. In 1864, he was a member of USS Hartford‘s crew. During the Battle of Mobile Bay, 5 August 1864, while serving as a member of the ship’s berth deck ammunition party, he was seriously wounded but remained at his post and continued to supply Hartford‘s guns. For his heroism in this action, he was awarded the Medal of Honor. John Lawson died on 3 May 1919 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and is buried at Mount Peace Cemetery, Camden, New Jersey.

An August Morning with Farragut
William Heyshand Overend
1883

Medal of Honor citation of Landsman John Lawson (as printed in the official publication “Medal of Honor, 1861-1949, The Navy”, pages 34-35):

“On board the flagship U.S.S. Hartford during successful attacks against Fort Morgan, rebel gunboats and the ram Tennessee in Mobile Bay on 5 August 1864. Wounded in the leg and thrown violently against the side of the ship when an enemy shell killed or wounded the six-man crew at the shell whip on the berth deck, LAWSON, upon regaining his composure, promptly returned to his station and, although urged to go below for treatment, steadfastly continued his duties throughout the remainder of the action.”

 

For more information on the African American experience in the United States Navy, go to THIS LINK.

Or visit the official Civil War Navy Sesquicentennial Blog HERE.

 
Feb 17

Black History Month Spotlight: Civil War MOH Recipient Robert Blake

Thursday, February 17, 2011 9:01 AM
Contraband Robert Blake (Photo#: NH 103762)
 
Robert Blake was born into slavery in Virginia. After escaping, he enlisted in the US Navy from Port Royal, Virginia and served on USS Marblehead during the Civil War. While off Legareville, Stono River, South Carolina, on 25 December 1863, Blake bravely served the rifle gun as Marblehead engaged Confederates on John’s Island. The enemy eventually abandoned its position leaving munitions behind. For his bravery in this action, Blake was awarded the Medal of Honor.
USS Marblehead engages a Confederate Battery on John’s Island, Stono River, South Carolina, 25 December 1863 (Photo#: NH 79920)

 

LCDR Richard W. Meade, commanding the Marblehead, wrote in a report to Rear Admiral John Dahlgren off Legareville commending several individual sailors in the conflict. Among the four who would eventually win the Medal of Honor was Robert Blake. LCDR Meade had this to say in his report about Blake:

“Robert Blake, a contraband, excited my admiration by the cool and brave maner in which he served the rifle gun.” (Meade to Dahlgren, ORN, 15:190-191)

Richard W. Meade

He ends his report to Dahlgren by commending everybody, including Blake, onboard the Marblehead during the tense engagement:

“I have again to commend the good conduct of everyone on board. Their courage was so well displayed that the enemy, who had doubtless counted on disabling us, were forced to retire [. . .] in confusion and ignominy.” (Meade to Dahlgren, ORN, 15:191)
 
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