Archive for the 'Civil War' Category

Feb 22

‘A Broadside from Battleship Burns’

Monday, February 22, 2016 12:01 AM

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On occasion what we do at the U.S. Naval Institute, in this case, Naval History magazine, has caught the attention of the mainstream press. One such instance was in 1999, after we conducted an interview with award-winning documentary filmmaker Ken Burns at his Florentine Films headquarters in Walpole, New Hampshire. Back in the Institute’s Beach Hall, Public Relations Director Kevin Clarke asked whether Burns had said anything controversial during the course of our conversation. Well, apparently he had, because we heard from Ann Gerhart, writer at the time for the Washington Post’s popular “Reliable Source” column. Her story went like… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Feb 16

Charleston’s Confederate Ironclad Attack

Tuesday, February 16, 2016 12:01 AM

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The CSS PALMETTO STATE slams into the Union blockader MERCEDITA  off Charleston Harbor. (The Civil War at Charleston)

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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The gravestone of Thomas Mandigo, Sandy Hill A. M. E. Cemetery, Chester County, PA. Author's photo.

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 »

 
Jan 11

The Soda-Bottle Shaped Shell Guns

Monday, January 11, 2016 12:01 AM

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While IX-inch Dahlgren shell guns mainly were used in broadside, XI-inchers, such as this one on board the Union sloop KEARSARGE, were generally pivot mounted. (U.S. Naval Institute Photo Archive)

At 0400 on 17 June 1863, the powerful Confederate ironclad ATLANTA steamed from the Wilmington River into Georgia’s Wassaw Sound to attack ships of the Union South Atlantic Blockading Squadron. Barring her way were two U.S. Navy PASSAIC-class monitors, the WEEHAWKEN and NAHANT, each armed with one XV-inch and one XI-inch Dahlgren shell gun and under the overall command of Captain John Rodgers Jr. The casemated ATLANTA, captained by Commander John Webb, mounted four Brooke rifled guns: two 6.4-inchers in broadsides and two 7-inchers in pivot mounts capable of firing to either side. She also had a bow-mounted percussion spar torpedo.

 
Oct 27

Battle Report: Ramming Speed

Tuesday, October 27, 2015 10:22 AM

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In the foreground the Union ram Monarch crashes into the General Beauregard during the confusing, lopsided Battle of Memphis.

  During the Civil War, the idea of Army and Navy forces operating jointly under a single commander was virtually unheard of. But an operation’s lack of “jointness” did not always spell defeat. In fact, the result could be spectacular victory. Such was the case on 6 June 1862 when Union Army and Navy forces afloat operated independently of each other at the only pure naval battle on the Mississippi. What follows is the Battle of Memphis report of Colonel Charles Ellet Jr., commander of the Army’s Ram Fleet, to Secretary of War Edwin Stanton.1   I left the shore… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Apr 29

CSS Alabama Britten Shell and Box

Monday, April 29, 2013 3:09 PM

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CSS Alabama, a screw sloop-of-war, was commissioned by the Confederate States of America during the Civil War. It was built in Liverpool, England and launched on 24 August 1862. Alabama served the Confederate Navy as a commerce raider and captured more than 60 vessels during her two year storied career. On 19 June 1864, Alabama left port in Cherbourg, France to engage the USS Kearsarge. Approximately an hour after the first shot of the battle had been fired Alabama began to sink. The commander of Alabama, Raphael Semmes, then surrendered and the ship’s survivors were rescued by Kearsarge and the… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Mar 25

The Conservation of Enfield Rifle Barrels from USS Tulip

Monday, March 25, 2013 9:32 AM

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The Naval History and Heritage Command’s (NHHC) Underwater Archaeology Branch (UAB) manages the Archaeology & Conservation Laboratory which is primarily tasked with the documentation, treatment, preservation, and curation of artifacts from US Navy sunken military craft. Artifact conservation is an integral part of any archaeological investigation and allows for the long-term study, interpretation, and preservation of irreplaceable submerged cultural resources. Recently, the Archaeology & Conservation Lab has been treating a group of Enfield rifle barrels from the wreck site of USS Tulip. Purchased by the Union Navy during the Civil War, Tulip, a steam-screw gunboat, joined the Potomac River Flotilla… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Jan 11

H.L. Hunley Fully Visible for the First Time

Wednesday, January 11, 2012 11:06 AM

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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,… Read the rest of this entry »

 
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