On November 8, 1861, USS San Jacinto Captain Charles Wilkes set out towards the Bahama Channel near Havana to intercept Confederate commissioners James M. Mason and John Slidell. The man who led the controversial U.S. Exploring Expedition two decades previous found himself leaving scientific endeavors for the new prospect of war. Mason and Slidell were heading to Europe to arbitrate agreements with nations for their support in the Confederate war effort, stopping for transport in Havana. During his search for the elusive CSS Sumter, Wilkes heard of the breakout of Mason and Slidell from Charleston and decided to take action…. Read the rest of this entry »
Archive for the 'Commemorations' Category
This is a trailer for the 25 minute video “Wings for the Navy …the Birth of Naval Aviation” which is being prepared for next year’s Centennial of Naval Aviation.
Congratulations to the U.S. Naval Institute on reaching its 137th year! Read what Rear Admiral Bradley A. Fiske had to say about the Naval Institute in Proceedings, Vol. 45 No. 192, February 1919: Without some such stimulus as the Institute, the navy would be less like a profession and more like a trade; we would be less like artists, and more like artisans; we would become too practical and narrow; we would have no broad vision of the navy as a whole. Each one of us would regard his own special task as the only thing that concerned him, and… Read the rest of this entry »
The Confederate semi-submersible ship David did not have rocks and slings. Instead, its armament consisted of a single spar torpedo attached to its bow. As the cigar-shaped vessel was designed to operate in shallow water, its five foot draft allowed her to sneak up on enemies seemingly undetected.
On the night of 5 October 1863, David faced Goliath. It would not be the epic showdown of biblical times during the American Civil War, but one of explosions, iron, and rushing water under the moonlight of Charleston. USS New Ironsides, a casemate ironclad steamer boasting fourteen eleven-inch smoothbores, was at the time considered the most formidable warship in the world. It proved to be nearly impenetrable to the Charleston harbor defenses. The Union “Goliath” and its Captain, S.C. Rowan, waited for any answer the Confederates had to test the mighty ship. Little did they know its “Davidian” foe would… Read the rest of this entry »
Following the capture of Washington in late August 1814, British expeditionary forces under Vice Admiral Alexander Cochrane moved to attack Baltimore. As the third largest American city and home to privateering operations that had netted over 500 British merchantmen, the Maryland port offered a tempting target for a destructive, retaliatory blow. Fort McHenry, a star-shaped masonry fortification guarding the entrance to Baltimore harbor, held the key to the city’s defenses. U.S. naval forces not only helped garrison Fort McHenry but manned shore and floating batteries protecting the water and land approaches to the American bastion. On 12 September the British… Read the rest of this entry »