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Letters relating to the battle of Port Royal and occupation of the Confederate forts.

From Flag-officer Dupont, Commander Steedman, and Lieutenants-commanding C. R. P. Rodgers, Ammen, Stevens and Watmough--Major John G. Reynolds, U. S. M. C.--Commendatory letters of Secretary Welles--General orders, etc

Report of Flag-officer Dupont:

Flag-Ship Wabash, Off Hilton Head, Port Royal Harbor, Nov. 8, 1861.
Sir — I have the honor to inform you that yester day I attacked the enemy's batteries on Bay Point and Hilton Head (Forts Beauregard and Walker), and succeeded in silencing them after an engagement of four hours duration, and driving away the squadron of rebel steamers under Commodore Tatnall. The reconnoissance of yesterday made us acquainted with the superiority of Fort Walker, and to that I directed my especial efforts, engaging it at a distance of, first, eight, and afterwards six, hundred yards. But the plan of attack brought the squadron sufficiently near Fort Beauregard to receive its fire, and the ships were frequently fighting the batteries on both sides at the same time.

The action was begun on my part at twenty-six minutes after 9, and at half-past 2 the American ensign was hoisted on the flag-staff of Fort Walker, and this morning at sunrise on that of Fort Beauregard.

The defeat of the enemy terminated in utter rout and confusion. Their quarters and encampments were abandoned without an attempt to carry away either public or private property. The ground over which they fled was strewn with the arms of private soldiers, and officers retired in too much haste to submit to the encumbrance of their swords.

Landing my marines and a company of seamen, I took possession of the deserted ground, and held the forts on Hilton Head till the arrival of General Sherman, to whom I had the honor to transfer its occupation.

We have captured forty-three pieces of cannon, most of them of the heaviest calibre and of the most improved description.

The bearer of these dispatches will have the honor to carry with him the captured flags and two small brass field-pieces, lately belonging to the State of South Carolina, which are sent home as suitable trophies of the day. I enclose herewith a copy of the general order, which is to be read in the fleet to-morrow morning at muster. A detailed account of this battle will be submitted hereafter.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully,

Your most obedient servant,

S. F. Dupont, Flag-Officer, Commanding South Atlantic Blockading Squadron. Hon. Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy, Washington, D. C.
P. S.--Bearer of dispatches will also carry with him the first American ensign raised upon the soil of South Carolina since the rebellion broke out.

S. F. D.

General order no. 2.

Flag-Ship Wabash, Hilton Head, Port Royal Bay, Nov. 8, 1861.
It is the grateful duty of the Commander-in-chief to make a public acknowledgment of his entire commendation of the coolness, discipline, skill and gallantry displayed by the officers and men under his command in the capture of the batteries on Hilton Head and Bay Point, after an action of four hours duration. [392]

The flag-officer fully sympathizes with the officers and men of the squadron in the satisfaction they must feel at seeing the ensign of the Union flying once more in the State of South Carolina, which has been the chief promoter of the wicked and unprovoked rebellion they have been called upon to suppress.

S. F. Dupont, Flag-Officer, Commanding South Atlantic Blockading Squadron.

Report of Flag-officer Dupont.

United States Flag-Ship Wabash, Port Royal Harbor, S. C., Nov. 11, 1861.
Sir — I have the honor to submit the following detailed account of the action of the 7th of November:

From the reconnaissance of the 5th we were led to believe that the forts on Bay Point and Hilton Head were armed with more than twenty guns each, of the heaviest calibre and longest range, and were well constructed and well manned, but that the one on Hilton Head was the strongest. The distance between them is two and two-tenths nautical miles-too great to admit of their being advantageously engaged at the same time, except at long shot. I resolved, therefore, to undertake the reduction of Hilton Head (or, as I shall hereafter call it, Fort Walker) first, and afterwards to turn my attention to Fort Beauregard--the fort on Bay Point. The greater part of the guns of Fort Walker were presented upon two water-fronts, and the flanks were but slightly guarded, especially on the north, on which side the approach of an enemy had not been looked for.

A fleet of the enemy — consisting of seven steamers, armed, but to what extent I was not informed further than that they carried rifle-guns — occupied the northern portion of the harbor, and stretched along from the mouth of Beaufort River to Scull Creek.

It was high water on the 7th instant at 11h. 35m. A. M. by the tables of the Coast Survey.

These circumstances — the superiority of Fort Walker and its weakness on the northern flank, the presence of the rebel fleet, and the flood-tide of the morning — decided the plan of attack and the order of battle.

The order of battle comprised a main squadron ranged in line ahead, and a flanking squadron, which was to be thrown off on the northern section of the harbor, to engage the enemy's flotilla and prevent them taking the rear ships of the main line when it turned to the southward, or cutting off a disabled vessel.

The main squadron consisted of the frigate Wabash, Commander C. R. P. Rodgers, the leading ship; the frigate Susquehanna, Captain J. L. Lardner; the sloop Mohican, Commander S. W. Godon; the sloop Seminole, Commander J. P. Gillis; the sloop Pawnee, Lieutenant-Commander R. H. Wyman; the gun-boat Unadilla, Lieutenant-Commander N. Collins; the gun-boat Ottawa, Lieutenant-Commander T. H. Stevens; the gun-boat Pembina, Lieutenant-Commander J. P. Bankhead; and the sailing sloop Vandalia, Commander F. S. Haggerty, towed by the Isaac Smith, Lieutenant-Commander J. W. A. Nicholson.

The flanking squadron consisted of the gun-boat Bienville, Commander Charles Steedman, the leading ship; the gun-boat Seneca, Lieutenant-Commander Daniel Ammen; the gun-boat Curlew, Lieutenant Commanding P. G. Watmough; the gun-boat Penguin, Lieutenant Commanding T. A. Budd; and the gun-boat Augusta, Commander E. G. Parrott, the closing ship of that line.

The plan of attack was to pass up mid-way between Forts Walker and Beauregard (receiving and returning the fire of both) to a certain distance, about two and a half miles north of the latter. At that point the line was to turn to the south around by the west, and close in with Fort Walker, encountering it on its weakest flank, and at the same time enfilading, in nearly a direct line, its two waterfaces. While standing to the southward the vessels were head to tide, which kept them under command, whilst the rate of going was diminished.

When abreast of the fort, the engine was to be slowed and the movement reduced to only as much as would be just sufficient to overcome the tide, to preserve the order of battle by passing the batteries in slow succession, and to avoid becoming a fixed mark for the enemy's fire. On reaching the extremity of Hilton Head and the shoal ground making off from it, the line was to turn to the north by the east, and, passing to the northward, to engage Fort Walker with the port battery nearer than when first on the same course. These evolutions were to be repeated. The accompanying plan will explain the preceding description.

The captains of the ships had been called on board and instructed as to the general formation of the lines and their own respective places.

At 8 o'clock the signal was made to get under way. At 8h. 10m. the ship, riding to the flood, tripped her anchor; and at 8h. 30m. the ship turned, and was headed in for the forts. At 9 the signal was made for close order. At 9h. 26m. the action was commenced by a gun from Fort Walker, immediately followed by another from Fort Beauregard. This was answered at once from this ship, and immediately after from the Susquehanna. At 10 o'clock the leading ship of the line turned to the southward, and made signal to the Vandalia (which ship, in tow of the Isaac Smith, was dropping astern, and was exposed, without support, to the fire of Fort Beauregard) to join company. At 10h. 15m. the signal was made for closer action, the Wabash slowly passing Fort Walker at a distance, when abreast, of eight hundred yards. At 11 the signal was made to get into and preserve stations, and at 11h. 15m. to follow the motions of the Commander-in-chief.

Standing to the northward, nearly in the line shown in the diagram, the ship's head was again turned to the southward, and she passed the guns of Fort Walker at a distance less than six hundred yards (the sights were adjusted to five hundred and fifty yards). At 11h. 30m. the enemy's flag was shot away.

The second fire with the starboard guns of the Wabash, and Captain Lardner, in the Susquehanna, my second in command, who always kept so near as to give me the entire support of his formidable battery, seems at this short distance to have discomforted the enemy. Its effect was increased by the shells thrown from the smaller vessels at the enfilading point. It was evident that the enemy's fire was becoming much less frequent, and finally it was kept up at such long intervals and with so few guns as to be of little consequence.

After the Wabash and Susquehanna had passed to the northward, and given the fort the fire of their port battery the third time, the enemy had entirely ceased to reply and the battle was ended.

At 1h. 15m. the Ottawa signalled that the works at Hilton Head were abandoned. This information was, a few minutes later, repeated by the Pembina. As soon as the starboard guns of this ship and the Susquehanna had been brought to bear a third time on Fort Walker, I sent Commander John Rodgers on shore with a flag of truce. The hasty flight of the enemy was visible, and was reported from the tops. At twenty minutes after two Captain Rodgers hoisted the flag of the Union over the deserted post. At forty-five minutes after two I anchored and sent Commander C. R. P. Rodgers on shore with the marines and a party of [393] seamen to take possession and prevent, if necessary, the destruction of public property.

The transports now got underway, and came rapidly up, and by nightfall Brigadier-General Wright's brigade had landed and entered upon the occupation of the ground.

I have said, in the beginning of this report, that the plan of attack designed making the reduction of Fort Walker the business of the day. In passing to the northward, however, we had improved every opportunity of firing at long range on Fort Beauregard. As soon as the fate of Fort Walker was decided, I dispatched a small squadron to Fort Beauregard to reconnoitre and ascertain its condition, and to prevent the rebel steamers returning to carry away either persons or property.

Near sunset it was discovered that the flag upon this fort was hauled down, and that the fort was apparently abandoned.

At sunrise the next day the American ensign was hoisted on the flag-staff at Fort Beauregard by Lieutenant-Commander Ammen.

The Pocahontas, Commander Percival Drayton, had suffered from the gale of Friday night so badly as not to be able to enter Port Royal until the morning of the 7th. He reached the scene of action about 12 o'clock, and rendered gallant service by engaging the batteries on both sides in succession.

Lieutenant-Commander H. L. Newcomnb, of the R. B. Forbes, which vessel had been employed in towing in the Great Republic, arrived in time to take good part in the action.

And, finally, the tug Mercury, Acting-Master Martin commanding, employed his single Parrott gun with skill and effect.

After congratulating you upon the success thus far of our expedition, which had its origin in the counsels of the Department, and which the Department has fostered and labored to render efficient, the gratifying duty remains to be performed of according to each and all their due share of praise for good conduct in their encounter with the enemy. This duty, though most welcome, is still delicate.

I am well aware that each one did his part in his place, and when I discriminate it is in cases that necessarily fell under my own immediate observation. I have no doubt that all would have embraced and improved the same opportunities of distinction; and in noticing those who were made prominent by their stations, or who were near me during the action, I aim showing no invidious preference.

The General Order No. 2, already forwarded to the Department, expressed in general terms my commendation of the gallantry and skill of the officers and men.

The reports of the commanding officers of the several ships, herewith enclosed, do justice to those under them; while the results speak for the commanding officers themselves. The names of the latter are mentioned in the beginning of this dispatch. I refer with pleasure to them again. They (lid their duty to my satisfaction, and I am most happy to bear testimony to their zeal and ability.

The officers of this ship, to whom I am deeply indebted, will be mentioned by her commander, C. R. P. Rodgers, in his special report.

It affords me the highest gratification to speak of the manner in which this ship was handled during the engagement, owing, in a great measure, to the professional skill, the calm and rapid judgment and the excellent management of Commander C. R. P. Rodgers. His attention was divided between this duty and the effective service of the guns, which involved the estimation of distances, the regulation of fuses and the general supervision of the divisions. His conduct and judicious control of everything within the sphere of his duty, though no more than was to be expected from his established reputation, impressed me with a higher estimation than ever of his attainments and character.

I had also an opportunity to remark the admirable coolness and discrimination of the first-lieutenant, T. G. Corbin. The good order, discipline and efficiency, in every respect, of this ship are, to a great extent, the results of his labors as executive officer, and they were conspicuous on this occasion. Acting-Master Stiles, acting as pilot, was devoted and intelligent in the performance of his duties; and the third-assistant engineer, Missieveer, who attended the bell, was prompt and always correct.

Acting-Master S. W. Preston, acting as my flag-lieutenant, displayed throughout the day an undisturbed intelligence and a quick and general observation, which proved very useful. His duties as signal-officer were performed without mistake. This gentleman and the young officers--Mr. R. H. Lamson, Mr. J. P. Robertson and Mr. J. H. Rowland, who were also under my eye, in immediate command of the pivot-guns and spar-deck divisions — sustained the reputation and exhibited the benefits of the Naval Academy, the training of which only could make such valuable officers of such young men.

Commander John Rodgers, a passenger in this ship, going to take command of the steamer Flag, volunteered to act upon my staff. It would be difficult for me to enumerate the duties he performed, they were so numerous and varied, and he brought to them all an invincible energy and the highest order of professional knowledge and merit. I was glad to show my appreciation of his great services by allowing him the honor to hoist the first American flag on the rebellious soil of South Carolina.

My secretary, Mr. Alexander McKinley, was by my side throughout the engagement, making memoranda under my direction. He evinced the same cool bravery which he once before had an opportunity of showing under fire in a foreign land. It gives me pleasure to mention him here as a gentleman of intelligence, of great worth, and of heartfelt devotion to his country.

I have yet to speak of the chief of my staff and fleet-captain, Commander Charles H. Davis. In the organization of our large fleet before sailing, and in the preparation and systematic arrangement of the duties of our contemplated work — in short, in all the duties pertaining to the flag-officer--I have received his most valuable assistance. He possesses the rare quality of being a man of science and a practical officer, keeping the love of science subordinate to the regular duties of his profession. During the action he watched over the movements. of the fleet, kept the official minutes, and evinced that calmness in danger, which, to my knowledge, for thirty years has been a conspicuous trait in his character.

I have the honor to be, sir, respectfully,

Your most obedient servant,

S. F. Dupont, Flag-Officer, Commanding South Atlantic Blockading Squadron. Hon. Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy, Washington.

Report of Lieutenant-Commander C. R. P. Rodgers.

United States Steamer Wabash, Port Royal, Nov. 10, 1861.
Sir-Although I know that the conduct of the officers and crew of the Wabash are warmly commended by you in the action of the 7th instant, yet, in obedience to your demand for a special report, I respectfully submit the following:

The men did their duty, as became American [394] seamen, with calmness, precision and resolute earnestness. They fought their guns with energy, and pointed them with admirable coolness.

The three gun-deck divisions of 9--inch guns, under Lieutenants Luce, Upshur and Barnes, were commanded by those officers in a manner which illustrated the highest power of both men and guns, and exhibited the greatest effect of manhood and training. I beg leave to commend these officers in terms of the warmest praise, both for skill and conduct; and also Lieutenant Irwin, who, in command of the powder division, did everything that a brave and earnest man could do to make his ship efficient.

Acting-Masters Lamson, Rowland and Robertson, in command of the spar-deck guns, followed the example of their seniors on the gun-deck, and did honor to the Naval School, which had, at their early age, trained them to do such efficient service in battle.

Acting-Masters W. H. West, Rockwell, Gregory and Palmer, stationed at the various divisions, evinced patriotic zeal and courage.

Mr. Coghlan, the boatswain, not only did his duty in the sixth division, but also skillfully served the rifled boat-guns, with which he did good service.

The gunner, Mr. Stewart, in the magazine, and the carpenter, Mr. Boardman, with his shot-plugs, did their duty manfully.

The engine and steam, during the whole action, were managed with consummate skill, which did great credit to Chief Engineer King and his assistants. Third-Assistant Engineer Missieveer, who stood upon the bridge by my side during the action, impressed me very favorably by his cool intelligence and promptness.

All the other officers, in their various departments, did their whole duty faithfully.

Acting-Master Stiles rendered most valuable service by his careful attention to the steerage and soundings of the vessel, and by his skill and vigilance in keeping the ship clear of the shoals. I desire to commend him especially to your notice.

My clerk, Mr. Blydenburgh, acted as my aide, and did prompt and good service.

The two oldest seamen in the ship, John Dennis and Henry L. Coons, both quartermasters — the one at the wheel and the other at the signals — well represented the gallantry of their class and generation.

The marines were used as a reserve, and, whenever called upon, rendered prompt assistance at the guns, with the good conduct that has always characterized their corps.

It only remains for me to speak of the executive officer, Lieutenant Corbin, who has filled that post since the Wabash was commissioned. The admirable training of the crew may, in a high degree, be attributed to his professional merit; and his gallant bearing and conspicuous conduct throughout the whole action were good illustrations of the best type of a sea-officer.

At the close of the action the Wabash was engaged with Fort Walker at a distance of six hundred yards or less, and her officers and men may well feel satisfied with the precision of their aim and the overwhelming power of their rapid fire. Eight hundred and eighty shells were fired from her guns, chiefly with 5-second fuses Some grape was fired with good effect from the 10-inch gun, in the latter part of the action.

I have to thank that most brave and distinguished officer, Captain C. H. Davis, the captain of the fleet, for the aid he gave me when not engrossed by the important duties of his special station; and I desire to pay the same tribute to Commander John Rodgers, who, being a passenger on board, had volunteered to serve on your staff, and never failed to give me most valuable assistance. Nor must I fail to bear witness to the gallant bearing and striking coolness of your young flag-lieutenant, Mr. Preston. I thank you, sir, in the name of the officers and men of your flag-ship, for the example you gave us.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully,

Your obedient servant,

C. R. P. Rodgers, Lieutenant-Commander U. S. Steamer Wabash. Flag-Officer S. F. Dupont, Commanding South Atlantic Blockading Squadron.

Report of Commander Charles Steedman.

United States Steamer Bienville, Port Royal Harbor, Nov. 8, 1861.
Sir — I have the honor to report that in the action of yesterday with the forts this vessel was struck several times, one shot passing through and through her, another striking bulwarks, forward, unfortunately mortally wounding two men, Patrick McGuigan and Alexander Chambers (since dead), and slightly wounding three others, Peter Murphy, Alexander Finey and William Gilchrist, while gallantly fighting at their guns.

The other shots did but little damage. It affords me the utmost gratification to bring to your notice the excellent conduct of the officers and men. It would be impossible to particularize the bearing of any one officer or man, such was their gallant conduct.

During the engagement, we fired from this vessel eighty-four 32 solid shots, thirty-nine 32-pound shell, and sixty-two rifle-shell.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Charles Steedman, Commander. Flag-Officer S. F. Dupont, Commander-in-Chief of Naval Forces, etc., etc.

Report of Lieutenant-Commander Daniel Ammen.

United States Gun-Boat Seneca, Port Royal, S. C., Nov. 15, 1861.
Sir-In obedience to your order of this date, I nave the honor to make the following report:

On Monday, the 4th, this vessel entered Port Royal, and sounded the channel until within three miles of Bay Point, when we were signalled from the Ottawa to return and anchor, which we did at 4 P. M., near her, about a mile further out and a cable's length nearer the batteries. The fleet generally, at this time, was standing in and anchoring. An hour later, three rebel steamers approached us and opened fire with rifled guns, but at a distance which proved ineffective. The Ottawa, Pembina and this vessel got underway, and, standing in at an angle, allowing our heavy guns to bear, drove them before us. At sunset we returned, and anchored as before.

At daylight on Tuesday several rebel steamers again attacked us. We got underway, and, obeying signals from the Ottawa, accompanied her, with the Pembina, Curlew, Isaac Smith, and afterwards the Pawnee, drove them until we were within a cross-fire of the batteries of Hilton Head and Bay Point, both opening upon us. No material damage was sustained. A heavy shell — or shot, probably — struck the vessel on the port-side, but I have been unable to find it, and probably will not until we get in a sea-way. Our rigging was struck three times. The object being effected — that of ascertaining the strength of the rebel batteries — we returned and anchored, as before, about half-past 8.

Two or three hours after, the rebel steamers again approached us, and, finding that they were within range, I had the satisfaction of firing an 11-inch shell at the flag-ship, which was seen from aloft, as well as by several persons on deck, to strike just abaft the starboard wheel-house. The vessel put into Bay Point, and on returning, or rather showing [395] herself, in the afternoon, had a large white plank forward of the port wheel-house, probably where the shell went out. On the morning of the 7th, obeying signal, we took position assigned us in the line, and, passing up, delivered our fire at Bay Point, and on arriving out of fire of the batteries, made chase — as directed by instructions — to the rebel steamers. They, being river boats, soon left us, and I had the chagrin of having wasted several shells at them at ineffective distance.

Returning to the attack on Hilton Head, we passed so near to the shore as to be fired upon by riflemen, who kept quiet on being fired on by our Parrott 20-pounder. From an enfilading position we began with 10-second fuses, and, closing up, found ourselves within effective 5-second range. As to the latter part of the action, we were within howitzer range, and were using both howitzers effectively, as well as 11-inch gun and Parrott 20-pounder.

During the engagement we fired sixty-three 11-inch shells, 9 with 15-second fuses, 28 with 10-second fuses and 26 with 5-second fuses. Thirty-three projectiles from the Parrott-gun were also fired, and twelve 24-pounder shrapnel.

I am sorry to say that the Parrott shell appears defective; its flight was wild and range short. As I fired once myself, I know they were not to be depended on, and the captain of the gun was much disappointed at his results.

During the engagement an officer was kept at the mast-head, whose duty it was to report our firing, by which we were governed. I have, therefore, reason to believe that our fire was effective.

Few of our crew have served before in a vessel-of-war, and as we went into commission only three weeks before the engagement, Mr. Sproston, the first-lieutenant of the vessel, fired nearly all the 11-inch shells with his own hands. Of him, as well as of the officers and crew generally, I have to express my warmest commendations, and my surprise that amidst such a shower of shot and shells we received no damage.

I am, very respectfully,

Your obedient servant,

Daniel Ammen, Lieutenant-Commander Seneca. Flag-Officer Samuel F. Dupont, Conmmanding South Atlantic Blockading Squadron.

Report of Lieutenant-Commander T. H. Stevens.

United States Gun-Boat Ottawa, Off Hilton Head, Nov. 8, 1861.
Sir — I have the honor to report that, as soon as the Ottawa, under my command, could take up her position in the order of battle, I weighed anchor, following in the wake of our leading vessel. When abreast of Bay Point battery, finding that our 11-inch gun was doing good execution. I stopped the engine to engage it, and threw about a dozen shells in and about the fortifications. Discovering, however, that we were under a cross-fire, I steamed up to take distance, in the order assigned. About this time a 32-pound shot struck the Ottawa in the port-waist, just abaft the pivot-gun (11-inch), wounding severely Mr. Kerne, one of the acting-masters who subsequently lost his leg by amputation), one other man seriously, and four others slightly, and doing considerable damage to the deck of the vessel, the coamings of the forward coal-bunker hatch, and splitting two of the upperdeck beams.

Discovering, as we ranged up with the fort on Hilton Head, that we occupied an enfilading position, I continued to occupy it until the enemy deserted their batteries, when, being nearest to them, I signalized the same to the flag-ship and stopped firing, about 500 yards from the fort. While engaging at a distance of about 1,000 yards, and when within 300 yards of the beach of Hilton Head, some of the riflemen of the enemy commenced firing upon us, when we opened with the howitzers charged with shrapnels, and quickly dispersed them.

It only remains for me to notice the good conduct, coolness and gallantry of both officers and men upon the occasion, who behaved with the steadiness of veterans, and to commend them to your favorable notice, and the notice of the Department, as worthy supporters of the cause we have espoused.

Very respectfully,

T. H. Stevens, Lieutenant-Commander, U. S. N. Flag-Officer S. F. Dupont, Commanding South Atlantic Blockading Squadron.

Order for Unadilla and other ships to take possession of Beaufort, S. C.

Flag-Ship, Wabash, Port Royal Harbor, Nov. 10, 1861.
Sir-It has been reported to me by Lieutenant-Commander Ammen that, on taking possession of the town of Beaufort, under my orders of the 8th instant, he found that most of the white inhabitants had abandoned the town, and that the negroes were committing excesses and destroying private property.

You will proceed with the most convenient dispatch in the gun-boat Unadilla, under your command, to Beaufort, where you will find the gun-boat Pembina (Lieutenant-Commander Bankhead), and the gun-boat Curlew (Lieutenant-Commander Watmough), and assume command of the station.

You will employ your forces in suppressing any excesses on the part of the negroes; and you will take pains to assure the white inhabitants that there is no intention to disturb them in the exercise of their private rights, or in the enjoyment of their private property.

Acting on this principle of conduct, you will pursue any other measures that may tend to create confidence, to bring back the people to their houses and to re-establish order.

You will please send Lieutenant-Commanding Watmough to report to me to-morrow morning in person upon the actual state of things, and upon the steps you may have found it expedient to take.

Any information you may have it in your power to collect, concerning the state of the surrounding country, will be valuable.

S. F. Dupont, Flag-Officer, Commanding South Atlantic Blockading Squadron. Lieutenant Napoleon Collins, U. S. N., United States Gun-boat Unadilla, Port Royal harbor.

Letter commending the officers of the Curlew by Acting-Lieutenant-Commander Watmough.

United States Gunboat Curlew, Port Royal, S. C., Nov. 17, 1861.
Sir-It affords me great pleasure to speak with praise of the general gallantry, coolness, and cheerfulness of the officers and men under my command during the several actions with the rebel squadron and batteries on the 4th, 5th, and 7th instants. Master H. E. Mullan, acting executive officer, rendered efficient service by his readiness and zeal. Acting-Master C. A. Curtis, in charge of the battery of 32s, is deserving of all praise for the spirit he instilled the men with, and effectualness and accuracy [396] of the divisional firing. Acting-Master Spavin's steadiness at the wheel merits commendation. Acting-Master H. N. Parish, who had charge of the Parrott pivot-gun, disabled early in the action of the 7th by the enemy's shot, afterwards assisted with his crew at the broadside battery.

The paymaster, Wm. A. A. Kerr, acting as signal-officer, by his coolness and watchfulness was of material assistance; he also kept a careful record of the incidents of the several actions. Messrs. Emory, Swasey, McConnell and Lloyds, engineers of the vessel, with great difficulties to contend against, in the general unfitness of the engine, boilers and condensing apparatus for such rough service, managed to carry us through the action, for which I was thankful.

Fortunately, the readiness of our medical officer, Mr. Perucer, was not called upon. Master's Mate Duncan, acting as gunner, provided a bountiful supply of ammunition for the battery.

I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,

Pen. G. Watmough, Acting-Lieutenant-Commander. Flag-Officer S. F. Dupont, Commanding South Atlantic Squadron.
Respectfully forwarded,

S. F. Dupont, Flag-Officer.

Commendatory letter to Flag-officer Dupont.

Navy Department, November 16, 1861.
Sir-It is with no ordinary emotion that I tender to you and your command the heartfelt congratulations and thanks of the Government and the country for the brilliant success achieved at Port Royal. In the war now raging against the Government in this most causeless and unnatural rebellion that ever afflicted a country, high hopes have been indulged in the Navy, and great confidence reposed in its efforts.

The results of the skill and bravery of yourself and others have equalled and surpassed our highest expectations. To you and your associates, under the providence of God, we are indebted for this great achievement by the largest squadron ever fitted out under that flag, which you have so gallantly vindicated, and which you will bear onward to continued success. On the receipt of your dispatches announcing the victory at Port Royal, the Department issued the enclosed general order, which, with this letter, you will cause to be read to your command.

I am, respectfully, etc.,

Gideon Welles. Flag-Officer Samuel F. Dupont, Commanding South Atlantic Blockading Squadron.

General order.

Navy Department, November 13, 1861.
The Department announces to the Navy and to the country its high gratification at the brilliant success of the combined Navy and Army forces, respectively commanded by Flag-officer S. F. Du-Pont and Brigadier-General W. T. Sherman, in the capture of Forts Walker and Beauregard, commanding the entrance of Port Royal harbor, South Carolina.

To commemorate this signal victory, it is ordered that a national salute be fired from each Navy Yard at meridian on the day after the receipt of this order.

Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy.

Flag-officer Dupont's report concerning the Marine battalion, Nov. 15.

Flag-Ship Wabash, Port Royal Harbor, S. C., Nov. 15, 1861.
Sir — I avail myself of the first moment of leisure to transmit to you the report of Major John George Reynolds, commanding the battalion of marines attached to my squadron, in which he relates all the circumstances attending the loss of the chartered steamer Governor, and the rescue of himself and his command by the frigate Sabine, Captain Ringgold.

The Department will find this report exceedingly interesting, and will be gratified to learn that the conduct of the officers and of nearly all the men of the battalion was such as to command Major Reynolds' approval, as it will, I doubt not, receive the favorable notice of the Department. The established reputation and high standing of Major Reynolds might almost dispense with any observations of my own upon the bravery and high sense of honor which he displayed in disputing with Mr. Weidman (though not a seaman) the privilege of being the last to leave the wreck.

I have the honor to be, sir, respectfully, your obedient servant,

S. F. Dupont, Flag-Officer, Commanding South Atlantic Blockading Squadron. Hon. Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy, Washington.

Report of Major John Geo. Reynolds, U. S. M. C.

United States Ship Sabine, At Sea, November 8, 1861.
Sir — I have the honor to report that the marine battalion under my command left Hampton Roads on transport steamboat Governor, on the morning of Tuesday, the 29th of October, with the other vessels of the fleet, and continued with them, near the flag-ship Wabash, until Friday, the 1st of November.

On Friday morning, about 10 o'clock, the wind began to freshen, and by 12 or 1 blew so violently that we were obliged to keep her head directly to the wind, and thereby leave the squadron, which apparently stood its course. Throughout the afternoon the gale continued to increase, though the Governor stood it well till about 4 o'clock. About this time we were struck by two or three heavy seas, which broke the port hog-brace in two places, the brace tending inward. This was immediately followed by the breaking of the hog-brace on the starboard side. By great exertions on the part of the officers and men of the battalion, these braces were so well stayed and supported that no immediate danger was apprehended from them. Up to this time the engine worked well. Soon after, the brace-chains, which supported the smoke-stack, parted, and it went overboard. Some three feet of it above the hurricane-deck remained, which enabled us to keep up the fires. Soon after the loss of the smoke-stack, the steam-pipe burst. After this occurrence we were unable to make more than fourteen pounds of steam, which was reduced, as soon as the engine commenced working, from three to five pounds. The consequence was, we had to stop the engine frequently in order to increase the head of steam. At this period the steamer was making water freely, but was easily kept clear by the pump of the engine, whenever it could be worked. About 5 o'clock we discovered a steamer with a ship in tow, which we supposed to be the Ocean Queen. To attract attention, we sent up rockets, which signals she answered. When our rockets, six in all, were gone, we kept up a fire of musketry for a long time, but the sea running high and the wind being violent, she could render us no assistance. She continued on her course, in sight the [397] greater part of the night. About 3 o'clock Saturday morning the packing around the cylinder-head blew out, rendering the engine totally useless for some time. The engine was finally put in running order, although it went very slowly. The rudderchain was carried away during the night, the water gaining constantly on us, and the boat laboring violently. At every lurch we apprehended the hogbraces would be carried away, the effect of which would have been to tear out the whole starboard-side of the boat, collapse the boiler, and carry away the wheel-house. Early in the morning the rudderhead broke, the engine was of very little use — the water still gaining on us rapidly — and we entirely at the mercy of the wind. It was only by the untiring exertions of our men that we were kept afloat. Nearly one hundred of them were kept constantly pumping and bailing, and the rest were holding fast to the ropes which supported the hogbraces. Towards morning, the weather, which during the night had been dark and rainy, seemed to brighten and the wind to lull. At daybreak two vessels were seen on our starboard-bow, one of which proved to be the United States steamer “Isaac P. Smith,” commanded by Lieutenant J. W. A. Nicholson, of the Navy. She descried our signal of distress — which was ensign half-mast, union down — and stood for us. About 10 o'clock we were hailed by the Smith, and given to understand that, if possible, we would all be taken on board. A boat was lowered from her, and we were enabled to take a hawser. This. through the carelessness of Captain Litchfield, of the Governor, was soon cut off or unavoidably let go. The water was still gaining on us. The engine could be worked but little, and it appeared our only hope of safety was gone. The Smith now stood off, but soon returned, and by 1 o'clock we had another hawser from her, and were again in tow. A sail (the propeller-bark Young Rover , which had been discovered on our starboard-bow during the morning, was soon within hailing-distance. The captain proffered all the assistance he could give, though at the time he could do nothing, owing to the severity of the weather. The hawser from the Smith again parted, and we were once more adrift. The Young Rover now stood for us again, and the captain said he would stand by us to the last, for which he received a heartfelt cheer from the men. He also informed us a large frigate was ahead, standing for us. He then stood for the frigate, made signals of distress, and returned. The frigate soon came into view, and hope once more cheered the hearts of all on board the transport. Between 2 and 3 o'clock the United States frigate Sabine (Captain Ringgold) was within hail, and the assurance given that all hands would be taken on board. After a little delay, the Sabine came to anchor. We followed her example, and a hawser was passed to us. It was now late in the day, and there were no signs of an abatement of the gale. It was evident that whatever was to be done for our safety must be done without delay. About 8 or 9 o'clock the Sabine had payed out enough chain to bring her stern close to our bow. Spars were rigged out over the stern of the frigate, and every arrangement made for whipping our men on board, and some thirty men were rescued by this means. Three or four hawsers and an iron stream-cable were parted by the plunging of the vessels. The Governor, at this time, had three feet of water, which was rapidly increasing. It was evidently intended by the commanding officer of the Sabine to get the Governor alongside, and let our men jump from the boat to the frigate. In our condition this appeared extremely hazardous. It seemed impossible for us to strike the frigate without instantly going to pieces. We were, however, brought alongside, and some forty men succeeded in getting on board the frigate; one was crushed to death between the frigate and the steamer in attempting to gain a foot-hold on the frigate.

Shortly after being brought alongside the frigate, the starboard quarter of the Sabine struck the port-bow of the Governor, and carried away about twenty feet of the hurricane-deck from the stein to the wheel-house. The sea was running so high, and we were 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 till daylight the Governor floated in comparative safety, notwithstanding the water was gaining rapidly 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 obliged to jump into the sea and then hauled into the boats. All hands were thus providentially rescued from the wreck, with the exception, I am pained to say, of one corporal and six 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. After the troops were safely re-embarked, every exertion was directed to securing the arms, accoutrements, ammunition and other property which might have been saved after lightening the wreck. I am gratified in being able to say nearly all the arms were saved and about half the accoutrements. The knapsacks, haversacks and canteens were nearly all lost. About ten thousand rounds of cartridges were, fortunately, saved, and nine thousand lost. Since being on board this ship every attention has been bestowed by Captain Ringgold and his officers towards recruiting the strength of our men, and restoring them to such condition as will enable us to take the field at the earliest possible moment. Too much praise cannot be bestowed upon the officers and men under my command — all did nobly. The firmness with which they performed their duty is beyond all praise. For forty-eight hours they stood at ropes and passed water to keep the ship afloat. Refreshments in both eating and drinking were passed to them at their posts by non-commissioned officers. It is impossible for troops to have conducted themselves better under such trying circumstances. The transport continued to float some hours after she was abandoned, carrying with her when she sunk, I am grieved to say, company books and staff returns. In order to complete the personnel of the battalion, I have requested Captain Ringgold to meet a requisition for seven privates, to which he readily assented. I considered this requisition in order, as I have been informed by Captain Ringgold it is his intention, or orders were given, for his ship to repair to a Northern post, in which event he can be easily supplied, and my command, by the accommodation, rendered complete, in meet any demand you may make for our services.

Under God, we owe our preservation to Captain Ringgold and the officers of the Sabine, to whom we tender our heartfelt thanks for their untiring labors while we were in danger, and their unceasing kindness since we have been on board the frigate.

This report is respectfully submitted.

I am, Commodore, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

John Geo. Reynolds, Commanding Battalion Marines, Southern Division. Flag-Officer Samuel F. Dupont, Commanding United States Naval Expedition, Southern Coast, U. S. N. America.


The capture of Tybee Island, Georgia.

Flag-Ship Wabash, Port Royal Harbor, Nov. 25, 1861.
Sir — I have the honor to inform the Department that the flag of the United States is flying over the territory of the State of Georgia.

As soon as the serious injury to the boilers of the Flag had been repaired, I dispatched Commander John Rodgers to Tybee entrance, the mouth of Savannah River, to report to Commander Missroon, the senior officer, for a preliminary examination of the bars, and for the determination of the most suitable place for sinking the proposed obstructions to the navigation of the river.

Captain Rodgers was instructed to push his reconnoissance so far as to “form. an approximate estimate of the force on Tybee Island, and of the possibility of gaining access to the inner bar;” and further, “if the information acquired by this reconnoissance should be important, to return and communicate it to me immediately.”

I was not surprised when he came back and reported that the defences on Tybee Island had probably been abandoned. Deeming it proper, however, to add the Seneca, Lieutenant Commanding Ammen, and Pocahontas, Lieutenant-Commander Balch, to his force, I directed him to renew his approaches with caution, and, if no opposition was met with, to occupy the channel.

I am happy now to have it in my power to inform the Department that the Flag, the Augusta, and the Pocahontas, are at anchor in the harbor abreast of Tybee beacon and light, and that the Savannah has been ordered to take the same position.

The abandonment of Tybee Island, on which there is a strong Martello tower, with a battery at its base, is due to the terror inspired by the bombardment of Forts Beauregard and Walker, and is a direct fruit of the victory of the 7th inst.

By the fall of Tybee Island, the reduction of Fort Pulaski, which is within easy mortar distance, becomes only a question of time.

The rebels have themselves placed sufficient obstructions in the river at Fort Pulaski, and thus by the co-operation of their own fears with our efforts, the harbor of Savannah is effectually closed.

I have the honor to be, sir, very respectfully, your most obedient servant,

S. F. Dupont, Flag-Officer, Commanding South Atlantic Blockading Squadron. Hon. Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy,

Note.-The reports of the other commanding officers do not contain any statements of historical interest, being general in their character, and are therefore omitted.

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