Chapter 53: operations of the West Gulf Squadron in the latter part of 1864, and in 1865.--joint operations in Mobile Bay by Rear-Admiral Thatcher and General Canby.
- Gallant services of Commodore Palmer
-- blockade-runners on Texas coast.
-- demoralizing tenacity of Confederate government.
-- cutting out of the schooner Golden Belle.
-- capture of the Delphina, Annie Sophia, and pet, prize-laden schooners.
-- the steamer will-o‘--the-wisp boarded and set on fire.
-- exciting and hazardous adventures.
-- the Confederate privateer Anna Dale captured and burned.
-- conspicuous gallantry of the volunteer element of the navy.
-- Acting-rear-admiral Thatcher relieves Commodore Palmer.
-- shelling Confederate batteries near Mobile.
-- capture of Spanish Fort, forts Alexis, Huger and Tracy.
-- Mobile surrenders.
-- operations of the gun-boats in rivers of Alabama.
-- Confederate rams Huntsville and Tuscaloosa sunk.
-- Federal gun-boats sunk by torpedoes.
-- Confederate gun-boats and other property surrendered to the navy.
-- conditions of surrender.
-- instructions to Flag-Captain Simpson.
-- parole given by and list of officers and men surrendered.
-- entrance of gun-boats into blakely river.
-- complimentary letter relative to Commodore Palmer.
-- destruction of Confederate ram Webb.
-- Galveston surrenders.
-- list of vessels and officers of West Gulf Squadron, 1865.
Commodore James S. Palmer
commanded the West Gulf Blockading Squadron up to the time Rear-Admiral Thatcher
took command in the latter part of February or early part of March, 1865.
After being relieved, he continued to give Rear-Admiral Thatcher
that hearty and effective support that always distinguished him in his former commands under Admiral Farragut
on the Mississippi
and elsewhere, marking him as one of those cool and gallant men who perhaps in time of peace would not attract much attention, but whose services in time of war are strongly marked by judgment and gallantry combined.
These qualities always leave a strong impression on a ship's company that has the good fortune to possess such a commander.
Whatever duty Commodore Palmer
undertook he performed it bravely and intelligently, and this is seen in the records of the war, where the commanders under whom he served never parted with him without the warmest eulogiums in his praise, all of which were deserved.
While he had the temporary command of the West Gulf Blockading Squadron he kept the vessels of the fleet actively employed, which will be better appreciated and understood by a brief outline of the operations.
was one of those who encouraged intrepidity in young officers; and as there was not a large field for daring deeds, and as the duty of the vessels under his command was chiefly confined to the dull routine of blockading the Texas coast
, no opportunity was lost to obtain distinction, and at the same time inflict injury upon the enemy.
Since the closing of the Confederate
ports on the Atlantic coast
, the blockade-runners
made attempts to reach the coast of Texas
, though it would seem that it was scarcely profitable for them to carry on their illicit trade in the Gulf
, where they could be so easily cut off, and at the time when the war must have appeared to any one with an observant mind to be so rapidly approaching a close.
But as long as there was life there was hope, and the Confederate Government, to the very last moment of its existence, put on a bold front and acted as if in the heyday of its power.
The only way it could keep up its credit abroad was by now and then getting out a load of cotton on a steamer, or some of the schooners that had been left to them after the several raids that had been made on such coasting vessels
as they possessed.
Though the communications with Texas
and the northern portion of the Confederacy
had been almost entirely cut off by the vigilant watchfulness of the Navy on the coast and on the great river which divided the Confederacy
, yet the Texans
were as active as ever in carrying on operations, particularly in the introduction of arms of all kinds, provisions, clothing and military stores, apparently with a view to carrying on the war on their own account if Richmond
fell, or to offer a place of retreat to those dissatisfied spirits who could see nothing good in a union with the Northern States
The Federal invasions had, so far, been so unsuccessful, and were, as a rule, so badly conducted, that the Texan
soldiers — a very brave set of men — had never felt that they had been worsted in the least.
On the contrary, they had not only prevented the Federal
generals from making a permanent lodgment in their State, but had given a large quota of their troops to assist the Confederates
in every other quarter of the Southern
It would have been, indeed, a grievous infliction if the Texans
had succeeded in drawing to their State the remains of the Confederate armies who had not been driven to surrender, for they might have kept up the war two or three years longer, with great loss to the North
in expense and with no gain to themselves.
But the same demoralization of the Confederacy
which was so painfully apparent in Richmond
was also felt in Texas
Though they appeared to be imbued with the popular enthusiasm that had done so much to prolong the contest, and though they had given as many proofs of devotion to the cause and evidences of endurance and noble sacrifice, yet they were not carried away with the bitterness of feeling that seemed to animate the people further north.
could see plainly enough that official mismanagement on the part of the Confederate
authorities, together with the Union
victories and the popular resolution of the Northern
people to prosecute the war with renewed vigor, had made it probable
would become the great battleground, and that, whatever way the tide of war might turn, the State
would be impoverished.
So far, Texas
had borne no hardships that soldiers could not reasonably endure, for her plains were full of hogs and cattle, and her fields were well supplied with corn, and they had sufficient military ardor to uphold them to the last.
But there were large amounts of cotton on hand from which no revenue was derived, and attempts were now and then made to get the fabric to market in anything that would float, which, in many cases, succeeded when success was least expected.
Emboldened by their first attempts, the blockade-runners from the Texan
ports became more audacious, so much so that the Federal
naval officers were put upon their mettle, and hence resulted a number of small but gallant affairs which, in justice to the officers concerned in them, should not be omitted.
They are the small links that make up the chain of history, and were as important in the eves of the performers as more prominent affairs.
On the 26th of December, 1864, a large schooner, named the Golden Belle
, was lying in Galveston harbor, watching a chance to evade the blockaders outside, and make a run to Havana
Acting-Ensign N. A. Blume
, of the Virginia
, asked and received permission from his commanding officer, Acting-Volunteer-Lieutenant Charles H. Brown
, to go in and cut out the schooner.
Obtaining volunteers from the crew for the expedition, he left with the third cutter about 8:30 P. M. Having five miles to pull against a heavy head sea, Mr. Blume
did not reach Boliver Point and get in sight of the schooner until 1 A. M. of the 27th.
She was lying about a quarter of a mile from Fort Jackson
, about a mile from Fort Greene, and less than four hundred yards from the Confederate
When within five hundred yards of the schooner, a light was seen moving about her decks.
The boat passed her and came up astern, not being discovered till alongside.
She was then immediately boarded and carried, and the prisoners secured.
The captors immediately made sail, slipped the schooner cable and stood down the bay, the guardboat supposing that she had started out to run the blockade.
Coolness and clever management was manifested in piloting the Belle
out of Galveston harbor, which is an intricate one.
In going out. the prize had to pass almost within hail of Fort Point
on Galveston Island
, then find her way in the dark through the main channel and cross the bar at the right point; all of which was done without a mistake.
At daylight, the fleet was sighted bearing northwest, and that morning the owner of the Golden Belle
could see her from Galveston
carefully anchored under the guns of the Federals
As it resulted, there was no loss of life on this expedition, and the glamour which generally attends a bloody affair was missing; but it was none the less a dangerous one, and all engaged in it deserve as much credit as if some had been shot.
We have made it a rule to mention the names of the participants when good work was performed, and, this being a case in point, the following are entitled to a place: N. A. Blume
; William Stevenson
, Master-at-Arms; James Webster
's Mate; Thomas Wallace
, Coxswain; Jacob Bowman
, Captain Forecastle
; William Thompson
, Captain Forecastle
; Augustus Miller
, Captain After-guard; Peter Miller
, Seaman; Thomas K. Fenley
On January 24th, 1865, quite as clever an affair took place off Calcasieu River
, by a cutting-out expedition.
under Lieutenant-Commander Richard W. Meade
, which was a complete success without any casualties.
A three-masted schooner, loaded with cotton, was lying at the second bend of the Calcasieu River
, about two and a half miles from its mouth, ready to slip out at the first opportunity, and the object of the expedition was her capture.
As a large force of the enemy was encamped close at hand, it was deemed best to take a force sufficiently large to insure success.
accordingly fitted out the Chocura
's launch and first cutter, and took forty men of her crew under his personal command.
The night of the 22d of January was chosen for the attempt, and as it was cold and dark, with drizzling rain and a norther blowing, it was just such a night as a blockade-runner would select to evade the blockaders.
The party left the Chocura
at dark and pulled in silently for the river.
Just as they entered it, the schooner was discovered coming down under sail with a fresh breeze.
Had the boats been ten minutes later she would have reached open water and escaped.
She was at once boarded and carried; but, unfortunately, her captain saw the boats before they reached his vessel, and, putting his helm hard down and letting fly his sheets, ran the schooner hard and fast aground on the flats close to the beach and not far from the enemy's force.
Six prisoners were secured at once, and a boat that was towing astern was seen to push off and pull rapidly up the river, in which, doubtless, some of the crew escaped.
The prize proved to be the schooner Delphina
, with one hundred and eighty bales of cotton on board--one of those small ventures the Texans
the habit of making to raise money, which, though small in quantity, was none the less valuable to the captors when it could be secured.
This cargo would have been worth in England
over one hundred thousand dollars. Every effort was made to get the Delphina
The after-deck load was thrown overboard and her anchor carried out; but as the norther caused the water to fall rapidly, leaving in an hour only about a foot of water alongside, the efforts to float her were unavailing.
The launch grounded in the meantime, and it was deemed best not to expose the men to an attack from an overwhelming force.
The schooner was therefore set on fire and the expedition returned to the Chocura
. Acting-Ensigns Tracy
. The officers and men behaved as all men will when they are led by a judicious and gallant commander.
They were not altogether unfortunate in not receiving some prize-money.
Eighty bales of cotton were thrown overboard before they set fire to the schooner; this drifted out to sea, and thirty bales were picked up on the following morning, and very likely more were secured later.
This was hard on the shippers; but such are the fortunes of war, and it was the only way to cripple the resources of the Confederacy
, of Alabama
fame, railed at Union naval officers a great deal for what he called their greedy spirit in capturing cotton coming out and arms going in, which he called destroying the property of Southern people, and makes an excuse on this account for inflicting harm on Federal merchant-ships.
It was not to be supposed that Union officers would let a vessel put to sea with a hundred thousand dollars' worth of cotton on board without using every effort to capture it, when they knew that if it reached England
it would soon be converted into cash to buy arms with which to shoot Union people.
There was really no greedy intent which induced officers to follow up vessels in port loaded with cotton, but simply a desire on their part to put an end to the war. Half the time the vessels and cotton were burned when it might frequently have been saved, but it was not considered worth the while to risk the lives of officers and men. This was the case on this occasion, as there was a force of three hundred cavalry at the point where the Delphina
The Confederates were very watchful and alert in getting vessels ready for sea and loaded with cotton bales, but the blockaders were equally so; and, if we may judge by the results, much more active in the pursuit of the blockade-runners and in the capture of them than their owners were in getting their wares to market.
On February 8, 1865, an expedition was fitted out by Commander Mullany
, of the Bienville
, assisted by Commander Woolsey
, of the Princess Royal
, for the purpose of destroying the steamer Wren
, a blockade-runner lying in the harbor of Galveston
, and also of capturing two cotton-ladened schooners that were lying at anchor under the forts, ready to go to sea when the wind and weather permitted.
Two boats were sent on this expedition, viz.: The Bienville
's first cutter, with thirteen men, Acting-Ensign George H. French
, in charge, and the Princess Royal
's first cutter, with a crew of nine men, Acting-Ensign A. H. Reynolds
, in charge, assisted by Acting-Master
's Mate Lewis Johnson
, the whole under the command of Acting-Ensign French
, of the Bienville
The boats left the Bienville
about 8.20 P. M., and stood in for the harbor.
intended to pass inside the schooners and make his first attack on the Wren
, destroy her, and then capture the schooners; but he failed in this, owing to the tide, which carried him so far out of his course that he found himself close aboard the schooners.
Without hesitation, orders were given Mr. Reynolds
to board one, while Mr. French
carried the other.
Both were taken without resistance, though the crews aggregated twenty men, nearly equal to the crews of the two boats.
The Princess Royal
's cutter captured the Annie Sophia
and the Bienville
's, the Pet
, both supposed to be English
After getting the schooners underway and securing
their crews, one was placed in charge of Boatswain
's Mate, Thomas Gallyer
, of the Bienville
, and the other in charge of Acting-Master
's Mate Johnson
, with orders to proceed to the Bienville
, where they subsequently arrived in safety.
then proceeded in company with the other boat to perform the duty of destroying the Wren
; but, finding it impracticable (owing to the strong current and wind against him, with his reduced crews) to find the Wren
, or make good headway, and having parted company from the other boat in the darkness, he concluded that it would be injudicious to proceed further, as day was approaching, and returned to his ship.
On the whole, this might be called a good catch.
had two hundred and fifty-six bales of cotton, and the Annie Sophia
two hundred and twenty,--a handsome reward to the adventurous sailors who went on the expedition.
The dearth of blockade-running steamers made it more easy to capture this cotton, for the long, low runners generally laid well up the harbor under the protection of the forts, while the schooners had to move down to the lower bay to await a fair wind and get to sea when an opportunity offered.
Yet the steamers that did attempt to run the blockade often failed, as was the case with the Will-o‘--the-Wisp
(steamer), which was burned off Galveston
by an expedition under Lieutenant O. E. McKay
, of the Princess Royal
had been run on shore off the harbor of Galveston
, where she was caught in the act of landing some heavy guns, and was chased on shore.
On the night of the 9th of February, 1865, a boat expedition was fitted out by Commander M. B. Woolsey
, consisting of two boats' crews, one from the Princess Royal
, and the other from the gun-boat Antona
, the whole under command of Lieutenant McKay
, with orders to go in and destroy the steamer and prevent her landing the arms and stores she had on board.
The boats shoved off from the Princess Royal
between 2 and 3 A. M., while the ship and the Antona
moved in toward shore and took up a position about nine hundred yards from the Will-o‘--the-Wisp
The boats soon reached and boarded the stranded steamer, set her on fire in the wheel-houses, and then returned to the Princess Royal
She had previously been riddled by the fire of the two blockaders, and had been set on fire by their shells, so that she was almost a total wreck.
The Confederates had shown their usual energy in getting out the cargo, the decks being torn up to enable them to do so. Even the engines had been taken to pieces and carried away, so that, when the boats reached her, she was not worth wrecking.
Although there was no resistance offered by the enemy, the attempt made by the boats was worthy of all praise.
The Confederate cavalry had thrown up heavy breastworks, and it was expected that the landing party would meet with a stout resistance.
One gallant affair would inspire another, and these cutting-out expeditions became the order of the day. When they started out, no man knew what would be the result of an expedition until it was over, or what force was likely to be encountered.
The enemy, knowing the adventurous spirit of the officers of the squadron, might set a trap for them, and, instead of getting a load of cotton, they might get a load of grapeshot.
The Confederates had fitted out a privateer or vessel-of-war, or whatever name that class of vessel might be recognized under — an armed schooner, the Anna Dale
,--which, on February 18. 1865, was lying in Pass Cavallo, Texas
, waiting for part of her crew, when she intended to slip out to prey on Federal commerce.
This vessel had been observed for several days apparently watching an opportunity to get to sea when the wind favored her. Lieutenant-Commander Henry Erben, Jr.
, of the Panola
, had been watching her closely, and at night kept picket-boats close to the inlet to see that she did not slip out without due notice from the boats.
On the night of the 18th he sent in two armed boats, the gig and third cutter, to cut the schooner out, with Acting-Ensign James W. Brown
in charge, assisted by Acting-Master
's Mate John Rosling
The work was handsomely performed.
The boats crossed the bar, which was quite smooth at the time, and found the schooner made fast to a wharf with a battery on shore close aboard.
She had a pivotgun mounted, and everything indicated that she was an armed vessel with this battery to protect her. Lights were seen moving about the decks, and men heard talking, when Mr. Brown
made a dash for the schooner, boarded her, drove all the crew below that were on deck, and fastened down the hatches.
The fasts were then cut and the vessel drifted out into the stream.
Sail was made on the Anna Dale
, and everything done to take her out, but she grounded, and it was determined to destroy her. The prisoners, with their baggage, were put in one of the schooner's boats with some small arms and a 12-pounder howitzer, and the vessel was then set on fire.
The Anna Dale
proved to be a Confederate privateer, but had not yet attained the dignity of being called a cruiser.
She was of seventy tons burden, well armed, and commanded by Joseph L. Stephenson
, a Master in the Confederate Navy, who said
he expected twenty-five more men at sunset, and would have sailed soon after.
He expressed great surprise that.
the boats were not fired upon by the battery, which consisted of three guns and a hundred men stationed only a short distance off. The Anna Dale
was a fast schooner, and, had she escaped the vigilance of the blockaders and reached the northern coast, would no doubt have done much damage before she was captured.
This affair was certainly well executed and was without loss of life, which makes such events all the more acceptable.
was, no doubt, a gallant officer.
He speaks in the highest terms of the behavior of Mr. Rosling
and of Boatswain
's Mate James Brown
and Quarter-Master Benton Bunker
, and the boat's crew generally.
It will be observed that, in most of these affairs, the acting or volunteer officers bore very prominent parts.
In all this kind of duty the volunteer element of the Navy was always conspicuous, it being more congenial to them than parading the deck and following the routine of a regular man-of-war.
They were a tough, brave set of men, full of resources and worthy of every trust.
, of the Alabama
in his journal of that vessel's cruise, berates the volunteer officers of the Federal Navy
, and calls them a low-lived set of fellows; but it must be remembered that, in the fight between the Kearsarge
, nearly all the officers of the former were volunteers raised in the merchant service, then as fine a school of seamanship as any in the world; and under the training of their gallant and efficient first-lieutenant, Thornton
, made a practice in gunnery that put to shame the firing of the English
gunners that are said to have joined the Alabama
from the English
naval gunnery training-ship, the Excellent
In this, perhaps, can be found the reason why Captain Semmes
did not approve of them.
After the capture of Wilmington
, Commodore James S. Palmer
was relieved of the command of the West Gulf Squadron by Acting-Rear-Admiral H. K. Thatcher
, an officer of great merit, who had shown good judgment and gallantry at Fort Fisher
The moment Rear-Admiral Thatcher
arrived at the scene of his command, he placed himself in communication with that gallant and efficient military commander, General Canby
, and offered all the co-operation the Navy could give toward the capture of Mobile
, which still held out, notwithstanding all the forts in the bay had surrendered and the Confederate fleet had been captured.
There was not the slightest chance of arms, munitions-of-war, or provisions reaching the Confederate army through Mobile
, and the enemy continued to hold it simply from the same sentiment that governed every other part of the South
Though the demoralization in the Confederacy
was plainly apparent to those who had eyes to see, yet the majority could not be made to believe that the Confederates
could be subjugated.
They could not be made to understand that there was anything fatal, in a military point of view, in Sherman
's memorable march, though they received daily news of his successful marchings, his occupation of Atlanta
, and his advance to Goldsborough
, driving before him an army quite equal in numbers to his own, before he was joined by Generals Schofield
with some thirty thousand troops, and causing the ablest generals of the Confederacy
to fall back before his triumphant legions.
If the demoralization of the country could ever be brought to the surface, it was when General Joe Johnston
was brought to bay at Smithsville
, with Sherman
's hardy veterans (that had marched through the South
) confronting him, and the victorious troops of Schofield
, just from Wilmington
, hemming him in.
Some of the most intelligent men in the Confederacy
(though the most deluded) clung to the idea that it was a physical impossibility for the South
to be subjugated by the troops of the North
This impossibility was clearly stated by the Confederate Congress in an address to the Southern
people as late as the winter of 1861-5; that the passage of hostile armies through the Southern
country, though productive of cruel suffering to the people and great pecuniary loss, gave an enemy no permanent advantage or foothold.
To subjugate a country, its civil government must be suppressed by a continuing military force, or supplanted by another, to which the inhabitants would be obliged to yield obedience.
They insisted that the passage of troops through their country could not produce any such result.
Permanent garrisons would have to be stationed at a sufficient number of points to strangle all civil authority and overawe the people before it could be pretended by the Federal Government
that its authority could be extended over the Southern States
They claimed that to subdue the South
would require more soldiers than the United States
could raise to garrison all the different points.
In a geographical point of view, therefore, it was asserted that the conquest of the Confederate States
The geographical point of view was decisive to those who fomented the war in the first place, who adopted this as their creed with which to delude their suffering people; and when Sherman
was marching his irresistible army all through the South
, they could see nothing in it but a harbinger of good to their cause; though he had passed through the country, they asserted that he had not conquered it, and had not been able to leave a single garrison on his way since he left Dalton
They argued that, even if he passed out of the Carolinas, he would be defeated then, and all the country he had passed through would be re-opened to the Confederate armies.
All such sophistries might pass muster with the ignorant, and this appeal to the common herd, no doubt, had its effect; but it was most absurd and criminal, to say the least of it, for the promoters of this rebellion to try and delude those upon whom all the suffering fell, when they could see the handwriting on the wall as plainly as it was seen at the feast of Belshazzar.
All the deluded people should have known that, as Sherman
's army sped along, everything in the shape of a soldier left the side-points of defence and joined the fleeing mass in the front.
There was no use leaving garrisons in the rear, there was nothing to garrison.
Wild desolation and ruin are always left in the tracks of such armies, and no General living could prevent it any more than Lee
could prevent destruction on his march to and from Gettysburg
The fact is, the Confederacy
was in its last throes when Sherman
started from Columbia
, and the people of the South
everywhere (owing to what the promoters of the rebellion called “the decay of public spirit” ) were getting impatient with the hardships of the war, having no longer any confidence in the ultimate results.
Yet there were places, like Mobile
, that had for a time flourished, owing to the constant flow of blockade-runners to their ports, and who knew but little of the sufferings of the war, and had never, in fact, been subjected to any hardships, determined mined to hold on to the last, even after Charleston
Ever since Admiral Farragut
attempted and failed to reach the city of Mobile
, the channel to which would not admit the Union vessels, that city had settled down to fancied security, no doubt waiting till Richmond
should fall, and they could surrender with some show of determination to resist to the last.
They did no harm to the Union
, but their defiant attitude was offensive, and Canby
determined to reduce their pretensions.
On the Sth of March, 1865, Rear-Admiral Thatcher
received information from General Canby
that there were indications that the enemy's forces in Mobile
were about to evacuate their works, and had torn up some thirty miles of the Mobile
railroad, in the neighborhood of Pollard
, and were removing the material in the direction of Mongomery, and suggesting a reconnaissance in force.
This Admiral Thatcher
immediately undertook with the five Monitors he had at his disposal; and proceeding to reach a point in as close proximity to the city as the shallow water and the obstructions would permit, succeeded in drawing from the enemy a heavy fire, and demonstrated that the defences were intact and the Mobilians still determined on resistance.
It was therefore determined by the two Federal commanders to make a combined attack on the works and city without delay, and on March 21st the landing commenced from the transports under cover from the gun-boats on the right bank of Fish River
, at a point called Danley's Mills, about seventeen miles above its junction with Mobile Bay
The gun-boats kept shelling the woods from Point Clear
to Blakely River
bar, while the troops were landing, to clear the coast of the enemy's forces supposed to be lurking in that vicinity, and also to draw the fire of the enemy's batteries, should there be any erected between Point Clear
and Spanish Fort
Numerous streams had to be crossed, and many bridges built for
the passage of artillery.
The troops set to work, as soon as landed.
to construct the bridges and to make their advance, while the light-draft gun-boats kept open communications with the army along shore by boats or signals.
had the immediate command of the Army, and this accomplished officer lost no time in pressing forward his troops.
The first fruits of their labor was the fall of Spanish Fort
and Fort Alexis, which surrendered on the 8th of April, 1865, after a heavy bombardment of ten hours from the Army and Navy.
The Navy landed a battery of heavy guns under the command of Lieutenant-Commander G. H. Gillis
, late of the Milwaukee
. General Canby
commended the services of this battery highly in the attack on these forts, which the Confederates
regarded as the key to Mobile
Nearly two thousand prisoners and sixteen heavy guns, with ammunition in abundance, were taken in these works, while the enemy lost heavily in killed and wounded.
and Blakely Rivers
were at once dragged by the sailors in boats, and sixteen large submerged torpedoes were taken up. On the 10th instant the Octorara
, Lieutenant-Commander W. W. Low
, and the iron-clads were succesful, by the diligent exertions of Commander Pierce Crosby
, of the Metacomet
, in clearing the rivers of torpedoes, in moving up nearly abreast of Spanish Fort
From this position, Lieutenant-Commander Low
, with his rifled gun, shelled forts Huger and Tracy with such effect that both forts were evacuated on the 11th instant, and the naval forces took possession, capturing a few prisoners in the adjoining marshes.
The sailors held their position in these works till General Canby
could garrison them with troops.
On April 12th, Rear-Admiral Thatcher
moved with the gun-boats, convoying 8,000 men of General Granger
's force to the west side of Mobile Bay
, for the purpose of attacking Mobile
On their anchoring at the objective point, it was found that the Confederates
had evacuated all their defences and retreated with their gun-boats up the Alabama River
The city of Mobile
was thereupon summoned to an immediate and unconditional surrender by Rear-Admiral Thatcher
and General Granger
being at Blakely
), on the ground that it was entirely at the mercy of the Federal
forces, they being in possession of the outside forts.
The officers sent to make the formal demand for the surrender of the city were met by the Mayor
and other civil authorities at the City Hall, where the former addressed the following letter to the Federal
The flag of the United States
was then hoisted on the City Hall, and a portion of the troops immediately advanced to preserve order and prevent pillage.
A provost guard was established, and the works around the city, which were of immense strength and extent, were garrisoned.
Thus ended the contest with Mobile
, which from the beginning of the war had enjoyed great immunity from battle and strife.
It had been the medium through which millions of dollars worth of arms, provisions and clothing had reached the Confederate armies, and after defying the Federal
forces unnecessarily when the war was virtually over, it was evacuated in a panic before the Federal
gun-boats had fired a shot into the city.
While the Army was landing in front of Mobile
, the Octorara
and three river iron-clads worked their way up the Blakely River
, and thence down the Tensas
, and anchored in front of the city.
They were sent at once up the Tombigbee River
, where the Confederate iron-clad Nashville
and the gun-boat Morgan
The two powerful rams, Huntsville
, were sunk in the Spanish River
before the place was evacuated.
The naval forces were at once set to work clearing the main ship channel of torpedoes and obstructions, which proved to be a formidable task.
While picking up torpedoes, the tug-boat Ida
was blown up and destroyed, as well as a steam-launch belonging to the Cincinnati
The tug-boat Althea
was destroyed by a torpedo in Blakely River
, and the gun-boat Sciota
was blown up while underway, running across the bay, in twelve feet of water, making the fifth vessel (with the Milwaukee
) sunk by torpedoes since Admiral Thatcher
's operations began against the city.
On May 4. 1865, Rear-Admiral Thatcher
received written proposals from Commodore
, commanding the Confederate naval forces in Mobile
waters, to surrender his ships, officers, men and public property generally, and desiring a meeting with the Admiral
to arrange the terms.
The two commanders met at Citronelle
, a point about thirty-five miles above Mobile
, and the surrender was agreed upon and accepted on the same basis and terms as were granted by General Grant
to General Lee
, by General Sherman
to General Johnston
, and by General Canby
to General Taylor
, which last surrender was made at the same place and time.
The day previous to the receipt of the proposal for surrender, Rear-Admiral Thatcher
had made preparations for attacking the Confederate vessels in the Tombigbee
, and the attack would have undoubtedly been made had Commodore Farrand
delayed his surrender a day longer.
As a matter of record, and as an interesting episode sode of the war, the conditions of the surrender are herewith inserted, with accompanying papers, which will be found to be interesting reading.
It will be seen, on looking over the list of naval officers who surrendered, how many familiar names of those who once belonged to the United States Navy are found in that list — men who, after four years of hard work, found out how futile was the attempt to overturn a properly constituted and well-organized Government by a set of malcontents, who led away those whose true interests lay in supporting the Constitution
and the flag to which they had sworn allegiance.
They had no interest in supporting the political agitators who, for their own purposes and with no love of their Southern country, wanted to dissever themselves from the great union of States which alone made their country a great one.
No doubt, when those who laid down their arms on that occasion look back and remember the fallacious hopes with which they were beguiled, and how little was done to make the condition better than it was in the United States
, will, in their hearts, regret the day when they were tempted by State's-rights fallacies to desert a flag whose march from the time of our first Revolution has been an onward one of glory and honor.
Not a star of its galaxy had ever been dimmed until those whose duty it was to hold it aloft, beyond the reach of treason, undertook to trail it in the dust and trample it under their feet.
It shines brighter after all it has gone through than ever it did before, as gold is brightened by being purified by fire.
This was the last of the naval fighting of the war. The great fabric of the re. bellion, with all its supports knocked away, toppled to the ground; and all who were engaged in it, seeing the hopelessness of their cause, seemed anxious to deliver up their trusts into the hands of the rightful proprietors, and make amends, as far as possible, for the injuries attempted against the Federal Government
Everything in Mobile
and in the Confederate Navy Department was turned over in as good condition as might have been expected under existing circumstances.
Among other prizes were four hundred heavy guns mounted in and about Mobile
The Confederates evidently understood the importance of Mobile
as a military base, and it was their intention to hold it at all hazards; yet, at one time, General Banks
might have snatched this rich prize by weight of his superior numbers at New Orleans; but he preferred to go floundering around in the swamps and morasses of Texas
, where no object was to be gained, and when he could not hold his own even with the large force he carried into those States.
Complimentary Letter To Acting-Rear-Admiral Thatcher
And Major-General Granger
Conditions of surrender.
Instructions From Acting-Rear-Admiral H. K. Thatcher
To Fleet-Captain Edward Simpson
Instructions from Commodore Farrand
, C. S. N., to Lieutenant Commanding Julian Myers
, C. S. N.
Parole given by, and list of, officers and men surrendered
We, the undersigned, prisoners-of-war belonging to the Confederate naval forces serving under the command of Commodore Ebenezer Farrand, in the waters of the State of Alabama, this day surrendered by Commodore Ebenezer Farrand to Acting-Rear-Admiral Henry K. Thatcher, United States Navy, commanding the West Gulf Squadron, do hereby give our solemn parole of honor that we will not hereafter serve in the Navy of the Confederate States, or in any military capacity whatever, against the United States of America, or render aid to the enemies of the latter, until properly exchanged in such manner as shall be mutually approved by the respective authorities.
Done at Nanna Hubba Bluff, on the Tombigbee River, Alabama, this tenth day of May, eighteen hundred and sixty-five.
L. Rosseau, Captain; Ebenezer Farrand, Flag-officer; Charles W. Hays, Lieutenant; Julian Myers, Lieutenant; C. P. McGavy, Lieutenant; Charles E. Yeatman, Lieutenant; F. Watlington, Lieutenant; E. G. Booth, Assistant Surgeon; N. E. Edwards. Assistant Surgeon; Wm. W. J. Wells, Paymaster; Robert C. Powell, Assistant Surgeon; Wm. Fisk, Jr., Chief Engineer; Albert P. Hulse, Secretary; E. Lloyd Winder, Lieutenant; P. U. Murphy, Lieutenant; J. E. Armour, Paymaster; Lewis W. Munro, Surgeon; A. L. Myers, Master; D. R. Lindsay, Naval Storekeeper; Thos. G. Lang, Third-Assistant Engineer; D. B. Conrad, Fleet Surgeon; Geo. H. Oneal, Assistant Paymaster; J. M. Pearl, Assistant Paymaster; J. R. Jordan, First-Assistant Engineer; S. S. Herrick, Assistant Surgeon: F. B. Dorwin, Passed-Midshipman; J. S. Wooddell, Clerk; John H. Pippen, Clerk; John E. O'Connell, Second-Assistant Engineer; W. B. Patterson, Third-Assistant Engineer; Edward Cairy, Assistant Surgeon; Jos. Preble, Acting-Master; G. W. Turner, Acting-Master's Mate; W. A. Gardner, Third-Assistant Engineer; G. E. Courtin, Paymaster's Clerk; Edward P. Herssend,----; Jos. L. Wilson, Paymaster's Clerk; Jas. H. Marsh, Navy Yard Clerk; Benjamin G. Allen, Gunner; J. R. Shackett, Pilot; G. H. Lindenberger, Mechanic; W. D. Crawford,----; J. H. Hunt, A. M. M., Commanding steamer Baltic; Ira W. Porter, Acting-Gunner; B. H. Weaver, Acting-Assistant Engineer; J. W. Bennett, Lieutenant-Commander; G. A. Joiner, Passed-Midshipman; Wm. Carroll, Passed-Midshipman; G. H. Wellington, Third-Assistant Engineer; Z. A. Offutt, Gunner; Howard Quigley, First-Assistant Engineer; H. S. Smith, Gunner; C. H. Mallery, Gunner; J. M. Smith, Paymaster's Clerk; George Newton, Sailmaker; Thos. L. Harrison, Lieutenant; 0. S. Iglehart, Passed-Assistant Surgeon; D. G. Raney, Jr., First-Lieutenant, M. C.; W. G. Craig, Master P. N. C. S.; Jos. R. De Mahy, Master P. N. C. S.; M. M. Seay, Assistant Paymaster P. N. C. S.; N. M. Read, Assistant Surgeon; G. D. Lining, First-Assistant Engineer; J. R. Y. Fendall, First-Lieutenant C. S. M.; A. P. Beinre, Passed-Midshipman; R. J. Deas, Passed-Midshipman; E. Debois, Second-Assistant Engineer; M. M. Rogers, Third-Assistant Engineer; F. A. Lombard, Third-Assistant Engineer; Charles A. Joullian, Third-Assistant Engineer; J. Fulton, Third-Assistant Engineer; G. W. Nailor, Third-Assistant Engineer; Wm. Fink, Paymaster's Clerk; F. B. Green, Master's Mate; Avery S. Winston, Master's Mate P. N. C. S.; John Curney,----; Jos. M. Walker, Pilot; W. L. Cameron, Paymaster's Clerk; Louis Williams, Engineer; M. L. Shropshire, Acting-First-Assistant Engineer; J. V. Harris, Assistant Surgeon; Benj. Herring, First-Engineer; J. P. Redwood, Clerk; E. W. Johnson.
Master's Mate; James White, Master's Mate; Wm. C. Dogger, Engineer; Wm. P. A. Campbell, First Lieutenant; Julian M. Spencer, First-Lieutenant; Jason C. Baker, First-Lieutenant; W. F. Robinson, Second-Lieutenant; Robert F. Freeman, Passed-Assistant Surgeon; G. W. Claiborne, Assistant Surgeon; H. E. McDuffie, Assistant Paymaster; A. N. Bully, Master; W. Youngblood, Chief-Engineer; John L. Rapier, Second-Lieutenant; Wm. Fauntleroy, Second-Assistant Engineer; Geo. J. Weaver, Second-Assistant Engineer; J. Thomas Maybury, Gunner; S. H. McMaster, Paymaster's Clerk; H. L. Manning, Master's Mate: Joseph Fry, Lieutenant Commanding; Page M. Baker, Master's Mate; John G. Blackwood, First-Lieutenant; Wm. H. Haynes, Gunner; Hiram G. Goodrich, Third-Assistant-Engineer; John Applegate, Third-Assistant-Engineer; Jacob H. Turner, Acting-Master's Mate; Thomas A. Wakefield, Third-Assistant-Engineer; J. D. Johnson, Commander; W. W. Graves, Assistant Surgeon; W. T. J. Kunsh, Third-Assistant-Engineer; Henry D. Bassett, Acting-Constructor.
The next inclosure is the parole given by the seamen of the Confederate States Navy serving on different vessels, fifty-three in number, entered into in their behalf by Julian Myers, Acting-Fleet Captain.
The next, the parole given by one hundred and twenty men of the steamer Morgan, entered into in their behalf by Joseph Fry, Lieutenant Commanding the Morgan.
The next, .the parole given by one hundred and twelve men of the Nashville, entered into in their behalf by J. W. Bennett, Lieutenant Commanding the Nashville.
The next, the parole given by twenty-four marines entered into in their behalf by D. G. Raney, Jr., First Lieutenant, Confederate States Marine Corps, commanding marines.
Entrance of Gun-Boats Into Blakely River
--Complimentary Letter Relative To Commodore Palmer
There seems to have been an unusual loss of Federal vessels in these combined operations, from the effects of torpedoes, which might indicate a want of due care in approaching the rivers, where it was known that quantities of these infernal machines were planted; but, because these vessels were destroyed in their anxiety to get ahead, it detracts nothing from the character of Rear-Admiral Thatcher
and his officers for the apparent want of that prudence which every officer should exhibit in all military operations, who has the lives of officers and men at his disposal.
It is well known now that Mobile
was better supplied with torpedoes than any other point, with perhaps the exception of the James River
, and those at Mobile
having been put down at the last moment were more than usually dangerous.
, Lieutenant-Commander J. H. Gillis
, and the Osage
, Lieutenant-Commander W. M. Gamble
, were sunk at the entrance to Blakely River
, the former on the 28th of March and the latter on the 29th.
The tin-clad Rodolph
was sunk by a torpedo on the 1st of April, while towing a scow with implements to try and raise the Milwaukee
These, with the two steam-tugs, two launches, and the gun-boat Sciota
(blown up), made eight vessels in all destroyed on this occasion.
Fortunately the war was over and the Government
did not need the vessels, which were valuable ones.
The following is a list of the losses experienced by the sinking of the vessels named above:
, 3 killed, 8 wounded; Rodolph
, 4 killed, 11 wounded; Cincinnati
's launch, 3 killed; Althea
, 2 killed, 2 wounded; Sciota
, 4 killed, 6 wounded; Ida
, 2 killed, 3 wounded.
Though the war may be said to have virtually ended by the surrender of General Lee
, on April 9th, 1865, and of General Joe Johnston
, on April 27th, and naval and military operations against the Confederates
may be said to have ceased, yet up to the last moment the Texans
were apparently as active as ever in their domain, and for a short time it looked as if they were going “to fight it out on that line, if it took all summer.”
One of their last acts was an attempt to run the blockade with the ram Webb
, which had made herself so famous in sinking the Indianola
was remarkably fast and a good sea-going vessel.
She was loaded with cotton by private parties, who at the same time were prepared to fight, and had put on board a crew of forty-five men. Besides the cotton, part of her cargo was made up of rosin and turpentine.
No one was thinking of such an attempt, when the Webb
appeared above New Orleans on April 24th, 1865, running at full speed, and passed down the river.
She was flying the United States
flag, and had a torpedo on a pole projecting from the bow. Every one who saw the Webb
took her for an army transport, but, being finally recognized by some one, she received two shot in her hull, which, however, did no damage.
, Lieutenant-Commanander Bancroft Gherardi
; the Florida
, Acting-Volunteer-Lieutenant-Commander Wm. Budd
; the Quaker City
, Commander Wm. F. Spicer
, and the Ossipee
, Commander Wm. E. LeRoy
, got underway as soon as they could get up steam and went in pursuit of the Webb
, the Hollyhock
far in the lead.
When the Webb
was about twenty-five miles below New Orleans, she encountered the Richmond
, Captain Theodore P. Green
, coming up the river.
The chances for her escape being thus cut off, the Webb
was headed for the left bank of the river and run ashore, and was set on fire by her commander, Edward G. Reed
, formerly of the United States Navy.
Her cargo, being very inflammable, she was soon ablaze from stem to stern and blew up, the crew escaping to the shore.
Thus ended the career of this remarkable ram, that had caused, at times, a good deal of uneasiness along the river and had done considerable damage.
She followed in the footsteps of all the Confederate rams, and was the last one that we know of that was at that time owned by the Confederacy
The following officers of the Webb
gave themselves up, after having been pursued to the swamps by the Navy: Lieutenant Read
, her late commanding officer
; Lieutenant Wm. H. Wall
, Master S. P. LeBlanc
, Passed-Midshipman H. H. Scott
, Assistant Surgeon W. J. Addison
, and Pilot James West
It was not until the 25th of May that the Confederates
began to evacuate their fortified places in Texas
and return to their homes.
The first place evacuated was the works at Sabine Pass
, which had been a point both parties had contended for throughout the war.
About May 27th, the Confederate Army in Texas
generally disbanded, taking advantage of the terms of surrender entered into and executed at New Orleans between
the Confederate Commissioners
and General Canby
, of the U. S. Army, where all the Confederate
fortifications and property was given up.
No Confederate naval force was left in Texas
except the remains of the ram Missouri
, which was surrendered to the commander of the Mississippi Squadron.
was surrendered on the 7th of June, and the place taken possession of by the gun-boats under Captain
B F. Sands
, who took the proper steps to buoy out the channel and take charge of the Government
visited the civil authorities on shore, who seemed to be well satisfied with the turn affairs had taken, and again and again re iterated their desire that there should be no disturbance of the existing state of affairs, and requesting that a portion of the gun-boats should be kept at Galveston
for the protection of the city!
All the forts throughout the State
as far as Brownsville
were soon after garrisoned by United States troops, and thus ended the war in Texas
When peace was concluded, the Texans
were determined to observe the terms religiously.
These people had fought bravely and squarely, resorting to few, if any, of the tricks and offensive measures pursued by the home-guards along the Cumberland
and Tennessee Rivers
; and when they laid down their arms and returned to their homes, it was evidently with the intention of not taking them up again except to defend the flag against which they had been so lately fighting.
The gallant old officer, Acting-Rear-Admiral Thatcher
, was relieved a short time after from his command, which he had conducted with vigor and remarkable judgment.
He was made a full Rear-Admiral
for the services he had rendered during the war, and no officer in the Navy better deserved the honors he had won or the rewards he had reaped.