Archive for the 'Civil War' Category

Mar 24

The History of Hospital Ships

Tuesday, March 24, 2020 11:05 AM

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Did you know that the USNS Mercy (T-AH-19) arrived in Los Angeles, California earlier today? The Mercy and her sister ship, the USNS Comfort, are both hospital ships operated by the United States’ Military Sealift Command, and both have a long history of aiding combatant forces as well as civilians in need of disaster and humanitarian relief. Seeing the Mercy on the news, however, lit a question in my archival brain: just what is the history of hospital ships? While we do not have concrete evidence, there is a possibility that hospital ships have existed since ancient times. The Athenian… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Dec 13

Good Cheer Bag

Thursday, December 13, 2018 9:01 AM

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Lieutenant Commander Theodorus Bailey Myers Mason, best known as the founder of the Office of Naval Intelligence, no doubt led a fascinating life. He was born in 1848 to a prominent 5th Avenue family in New York City, where much of his childhood was spent riding a small white pony daily. He decided by the age of 16 he would join the Navy and impressed his father by saving the money for a commission himself. He called on the Secretary of the Navy at 16 to ask him personally to secure a commission. The plan worked, and he entered the U.S…. Read the rest of this entry »

 
Nov 8

This Day in History: The Trent Affair

Thursday, November 8, 2018 12:01 AM

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Trent affair engraving

November 8 marks the anniversary of the Trent Affair of 1861. During the opening months of the Civil War, the U.S. Navy stopped the British mail steamer RMS Trent and seized two Confederate diplomats bound for England in the hope of negotiating diplomatic recognition for the secessionist states. The Trent Affair itself threatened to achieve exactly that and brought the United States and Great Britain close to war. Author James D. Hill wrote extensively of the Trent Affair and one of its main players—Captain Chalres Wilkes, U.S. Navy—in the July 1931 issue of Proceedings. It is excerpted here.

 
Aug 1

The 7 Best Beards in U.S. Naval History

Wednesday, August 1, 2018 12:01 AM

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Recently male sailors in the U.S. Navy are speaking out for equality within the ranks. The push was fueled when the Navy authorized women to wear more relaxed hairstyles such as ponytails. Men are not asking to grow their hair long, rather they are pushing for more relaxed grooming standards with regards to facial hair. The Navy has a long history of great beards, but was sadly ended in 1984. In honor of this valiant fight for hair equality I compiled a list of the seven best beards in U.S. Navy history.   7. Samuel Francis Du Pont Rear Admiral… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Apr 27

Death on the River

Thursday, April 27, 2017 4:48 PM

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Today marks the 152nd anniversary of the explosion and sinking of the steamboat Sultana on the Mississippi River that claimed the lives of more than 1,800 recently-freed Union POWs packed on her decks for the voyage home — more than the number killed when the RMS Titanic sank in 1912. An excerpt from Noah Andre Trudeau’s 2009 Naval History article about the disaster is reprinted below. The full article may be viewed here.

 
Feb 16

Charleston’s Confederate Ironclad Attack

Tuesday, February 16, 2016 12:01 AM

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Most students of Civil War naval history are familiar with the unsuccessful 7 April 1863 attack by Union ironclads at Charleston, South Carolina. Less well known is the attempt by a pair of Confederate ironclads to lift the U.S. Navy blockade of the city in the early hours of 31 January 1863. The Richmond-class ironclad rams Palmetto State and Chicora badly damaged four wooden blockaders before the Rebel ships were chased back to Charleston Harbor. Lieutenant William H. Parker, executive officer of the CSS Palmetto State, left a vivid account of that attack in his memoir, Recollections of a Naval Officer. Parker… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Feb 4

Thomas Mandigo: From Slave to Seaman

Thursday, February 4, 2016 12:01 AM

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Tucked in the woods in the rolling foothills of Pennsylvania’s Welsh Mountains sits the tiny and largely forgotten Sandy Hill African Methodist Episcopal Cemetery. A visitor to the rural graveyard is likely to be greeted first by the sound of clopping horses pulling Amish buggies along the rural highway. Taking a closer look, one will see several American flags marking the graves of veterans buried there. From there, one may see the stone of a sailor propped against a tree. It reads, THOMAS MANDIGO AGED 70 YEARS OF U. S. WAR SHIP LADOWNA The story of how Mandigo came to… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Dec 18

Our Other Navy

Friday, December 18, 2015 12:01 AM

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The Confederacy has been much in the news—or at least its symbols have, with many Americans wishing to erase those symbols from sight and mind. Thus it may not be the best time to publish a book titled A Confederate Biography. Nevertheless, I was drawn to the subject as a great sea story, and through the course of my research, I discovered that it was much more than that: it is a real American tale, a significant slice of Civil War history, and a wonderful navy narrative—the Confederate navy, our other navy. The idea of biography was suggested by Admiral… Read the rest of this entry »

 
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