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Preface 3.1: the Federal Navy and the South

French E. Chadwick, Rear-Admiral, United States Navy

The southern flag floating over Sumter on April 16, 1861--South Carolina troops drilling on the parade, two days after forcing out Anderson and his federal garrison — the flag is mounted on the parapet to the right of the former flagstaff, which has been shattered in the course of the bombardment from Charleston


Beginning of the blockade, 1861-the stars and bars over Barrancas

Inside Fort Barrancas In these hitherto unpublished Confederate photographs appear the first guns trained upon the Federal fleet at the beginning of the blockade. The Fort lay about a mile west of the United States Navy Yard at Pensacola and commanded the inner channel to Pensacola Bay. When Florida seceded, January 10, 1861, about 550 Florida and Alabama State troops appeared before the barracks of Company G, 1st U. S. Artillery, 60 men. These retired into Fort Barrancas, after an attack upon that Fort about midnight had been repelled. This was the first fighting of the war. Meanwhile Lieut. A. J. Slemmer, commander at Fort Pickens across the inlet, was removing the Barrancas garrison and their families. He succeeded in getting all safely across in a vessel to Fort Pickens, and the guns of Fort Barrancas bearing upon the channel were spiked. The Florida and Alabama troops occupied the Fort on the 12th and began mounting twenty-five 32-pounders, which threatened Fort Pickens until the Confederates abandoned the works, May 9, 1862.


The spirit of resistance Here a Confederate camera has caught the spirit of the Southern soldiers at the outbreak of the war. These are Captain G. W. Dowson's Perote Guards manning the Perote Sand Batteries at Mobile, January, 1861. On the 11th of January, 1861, the ordinance of secession was passed by the Alabama convention at Montgomery. Its announcement was received with great excitement throughout the State. In Mobile the Cadets and the Independent Rifles marched to the public square and fired salvos of artillery. Alabama was early active in organizing volunteer militia and gave liberally of her sons to the Confederate cause throughout the war. On January 9th, at the request of the Governor of Florida, two days before Alabama seceded, two regiments of Alabama troops were sent to co-operate in the seizure of the navy yard and forts at Pensacola Bay


Who shall estimate the value to the United States of the services of its navy which thus isolated the Confederacy, cut it off from communication with the outside world, and at the same time compelled it to guard every point against a raid like that which had destroyed the Capitol of the United States in 1814? Had the Confederacy instead of the United States been able to exercise dominion over the sea; had it been able to keep open its means of communication with the countries of the Old World, to send its cotton abroad and to bring back the supplies of which it stood so much in need; had it been able to blockade Portland, Boston, Newport, New York, the mouth of the Delaware, and the entrance of Chesapeake Bay; had it possessed the sea power to prevent the United States from despatching by water into Virginia its armies and their supplies, it is not too much to say that such a reversal of conditions would have reversed the outcome of the Civil War.

Hilary A. Herbert, Colonel 8th Alabama Volunteers, C. S.A., ex-Secretary of the Navy, in an address, The sea and sea power as a factor in the history of the United States, delivered at the Naval War College, August 10, 1896.

Now that half a century has passed since the Civil War, we have come to a point where we can deal calmly with the philosophy of the great contest without too great disturbance of the feeling which came near to wrecking our nationality. The actualities of the struggle will be dealt with in the photographic history. Meanwhile it is not amiss in these pages to look into the causes of the South's failure to set up a nation and thus justify Gladstone's surety of Southern success in his Newcastle speech in 1862.

It has been, as a rule, taken for granted that the South was worsted in a fair fight in the field. This is so in a moderate [89]

A blockade runner, the swiftest craft of her day With the regularity of express trains, swift vessels like this one left Nassau and Bermuda and traveled direct for their destination, timed to arrive in the night. So great were the profits of blockade running that in some cases one successful voyage out and back would more than repay the owners for the loss of the vessel. Under these circumstances it can be easily seen that men were tempted to take risks that ordinarily they would avoid.

A Charleston volunteer company at drill under the walls of Castle Pinckney In pipe-clayed cross belts and white gloves, with all their accoutrements bright and shining, here we see a volunteer company of young Confederates standing at “Present arms” and posing before the camera. The four officers standing in front of the line are Captain C. E. Chichester, Lieutenant E. John White, Lieutenant B. M. Walpole and Lieutenant R. C. Gilchrist. Gilchrist is curving his Damascus scimitar — a blade so finely tempered that its point would bend back to form a complete loop.

[90] degree only; for the fight was not wholly a fair one. Difference of forces in the field may be set aside, as the fight being on the ground of the weaker, any disproportion in numbers was largely annulled. But the army of the North was lavishly equipped; there was no want of arms, food, raiment, ammunition, or medical care. Everything an army could have the Federal forces had to overflowing. On the other hand the Southern army was starved of all necessaries, not to speak of the luxuries which the abounding North poured forth for its men in the field. The South was in want of many of these necessaries even in the beginning of the war; toward the end it was in want of all. It was because of this want that it had to yield. General Joseph E. Johnston, writing General Beauregard in 1868, said truly: “We, without the means of purchasing supplies of any kind, or procuring or repairing arms, could continue this war only as robbers or guerillas.” The Southern army finally melted away and gave up the fight because it had arrived at the limit of human endurance through the suffering which came of the absolute want brought by the blockade.

Some few historians have recognized and made clear this fact, notably General Charles Francis Adams, himself a valiant soldier of the war. Another is Mr. John Christopher Schwab, professor of political economy in Yale University. The former, analyzing six reasons for the South's failure, given by a British sympathizer in Blackwood's Magazine for July, 1866, says: “We are . . . through elimination brought down to one factor, the blockade, as the controlling condition of Union success. In other words that success was made possible by the undisputed naval and maritime superiority of the North. Cut off from the outer world and all exterior sources of supply, reduced to a state of inanition by the blockade, the Confederacy was pounded to death.” 1 The “pounding” [91]

The first taste of Camp life This rare Confederate photograph preserves for us the amusements of the Alabama soldiers in Camp near Mobile on a spring day in 1861. To the left we see a youth bending eagerly over the shoulder of the man who holds the much-prized newspaper in his hands. To the right a group of youngsters are reading letters from home, while in the background still others are playing the banjo and the violin to relieve the tedium of this inactive waiting for the glorious battles anticipated in imagination when they enlisted. These men are clad in the rough costume of home life, and can boast none of the bright new uniforms with shining brass buttons that made the Federal camps resplendent. Here and there a cap indicates an officer. Yet even these humble accessories were much better than the same troops could show later on, when the ruddy glow on their faces had given place to the sallowness of disease.

On parade Here a Confederate photographer has caught the Orleans Cadets, Company A, parading before their encampment at Big Bayou, near Pensacola, Florida, April 21, 1861. This was the first volunteer company mustered into service from the State of Louisiana. The Cadets had enlisted on April 11, 1861. Although their uniforms are not such as to make a brilliant display, it was with pride and confidence for the future that their commander, Captain (afterwards Lieut. Colonel) Charles D. Dreux, watched their maneuvers on this spring day, little dreaming that in less than three months he would fall in battle, the first but one among army officers to offer up his life for the Southern cause. The hopes now beating high in the hearts of both officers and men were all to be realized in deeds of bravery but only at further cost of human life here seen at its flood tide.

[92] was mainly done by the army; the conditions which permitted it to be effectively done were mainly established by the navy.

“ The blockade,” says Mr. Schwab in his “Financial and Industrial History of the South during the Civil War,” “constituted the most powerful tool at the command of the Federal Government in its efforts to subdue the South. The relentless and almost uniformly successful operations of the navy have been minimized in importance by the at times more brilliant achievements of the army; but we lean to ascribing to the navy the larger share in undermining the power of resistance on the part of the South. It was the blockade rather than the ravages of the army that sapped the industrial strength of the Confederacy.”

The South was thus beaten by want; and not merely by force of arms. A nation of well on to 6,000,000 could never have been conquered on its own ground by even the great forces the North brought against it but for this failure of resources which made it impossible to bring its full fighting strength into the field.

We know that there was a total of 2,841,906 enlistments and reenlistments in the army and navy of the North, representing some 1,600,000 three-year enlistments; we shall, however, never know the actual forces of the South on account of the unfortunate destruction of the Southern records of enlistments and levies. That some 1,100,000 men were available is, of course, patent from the fact that the white population of the seceding states was 5,600,000, and to these were added 125,000 men, who, as sympathizers, joined the Southern army. The South fought as men have rarely fought. Its spirit was the equal of that of any race or time, and if the 325,000 Boers in South Africa could put 80,000 men into the field, the 5,600,000 of the South would have furnished an equal proportion had there been arms, clothing, food, and the rest of the many accessories which, besides men, go to make an army. The situation which prevented an accomplishment of such results as [93]

Recruiting and enlisting troops for the Confederacy.

This rare Confederate photograph preserves a lively scene that was typical of the war preparations in the South in the spring of 1861. The fresh recruits are but scantily supplied with arms and accouterments, for only the Federal arsenals in the South could supply munitions of war. The military population of Mississippi at the opening of the war has been estimated at seventy thousand, and that of Louisiana at eighty thousand. It is believed that nearly a hundred thousand from each State enlisted in the Southern armies. The two scenes on this page were duplicated in hundreds of towns throughout the Southland as the war opened.

Confederates enlisting at the Natchez Courthouse, early in 1861

Recruiting at Baton Rouge-1862

[94] those in South Africa, and it was impossible in the circumstances that they could be, was the result of the blockade of the Southern coast, a force the South was powerless to resist.

What has been said shows how clear was the role of the navy. The strategic situation was of the simplest; to deprive the South of its intercourse with Europe and in addition to cut the Confederacy in twain through the control of the Mississippi. The latter, gained largely by the battles of Farragut, Porter, Foote, and Davis, was but a part of the great scheme of blockade, as it cut off the supply of food from Texas and the shipments of material which entered that State by way of Matamoras. The question of the military control of Texas could be left aside so long as its communications were cut, for in any case the State would finally have to yield with the rest of the Confederacy. The many thousand troops which would have been an invaluable reenforcement to the Southern armies in the East were to remain west of the Mississippi and were to have no influence in the future events.

The determination to attempt by force to reinstate the Federal authority over a vast territory, eight hundred miles from north to south and seventeen hundred from east to west, defended by such forces as mentioned, was truly a gigantic proposition, to be measured somewhat by the effort put forth by Great Britain to subdue the comparatively very small forces of the South African republic. It was as far from Washington to Atlanta (which may be considered as the heart of the Confederacy) as from London to Vienna. The frontier of the Confederacy, along which operations were to begin, was fifteen hundred miles in length. Within the Confederacy were railways which connected Chattanooga with Lynchburg, in Virginia, on the east and with Memphis, on the Mississippi, on the west; two north and south lines ran, the one to New Orleans, the other to Mobile; Atlanta connected with Chattanooga; Mobile and Savannah were in touch with Richmond through the coast line which passed through Wilmington and Charleston. No [95]

Louisiana soldiers before Shiloh.

Some very youthful Louisiana soldiers waiting for their first taste of battle, a few weeks before Shiloh. These are members of the Washington Artillery of New Orleans. We see them at Camp Louisiana proudly wearing their new boots and their uniforms as yet unfaded by the sun. Louisiana gave liberally of her sons, who distinguished themselves in the fighting throughout the West. The Fifth Company of the Washington Artillery took part in the closely contested Battle of Shiloh. The Confederates defeated Sherman's troops in the early morning, and by night were in possession of all the Federal camps save one. The Washington Artillery served their guns handsomely and helped materially in forcing the Federals back to the bank of the river. The timely arrival of Buell's army the next day at Pittsburg Landing enabled Grant to recover from the reverses suffered on that bloody “first day” --Sunday, April 6, 1862.

Louisiana soldiers waiting for the smell of powder-confederates before Shiloh

Louisiana soldiers waiting for the smell of powder-confederates before Shiloh

[96] part of the South, east of the Mississippi, was very distant from railway transportation, which for a long period the South carried on excepting in that portion which ran from Lynchburg to Chattanooga through the eastern part of Tennessee, where the population was in the main sympathetic with the Union.

Thus the South had the great advantage, which it held for several years, of holding and operating on interior lines. Its communications were held intact, whereas those of the Federals, as in the case of Grant's advance by way of the Wilderness, were often in danger. It was not until Sherman made his great march to the sea across Georgia, a march which Colonel Henderson, the noted English writer on strategy, says “would have been impossible had not a Federal fleet been ready to receive him when he reached the Atlantic,” that the South felt its communications hopelessly involved.

To say that at the outset there was any broad and well-considered strategic plan at Washington for army action, would be an error. There was no such thing as a general staff, no central organization to do the planning of campaigns, such as now exists. The commanders of Eastern and Western armies often went their own gait without any effective coordination. It was not until Grant practically came to supreme military command that complete coordination was possible.

Four Unionist objectives, however, were clear. The greatly disaffected border states which had not joined the Confederacy must be secured and the loyal parts of Virginia and Tennessee defended; the southern ports blockaded; the great river which divided the Confederacy into an east and west brought under Federal control, and the army which defended Richmond overcome. At the end of two years all but the last of these objectives had been secured, but it was nearly two years more before the gallant Army of Northern Virginia succumbed through the general misery wrought in the Confederacy by the sealing of its ports and the consequent inability of [97]

Officers of Mississippi's “fighting ninth.” In this long-lost Confederate photograph we see vividly the simple accoutrements which characterized many of the Southern regiments during the war. These men of Company B of the Ninth Mississippi enlisted as the Home Guards of Marshall County, and were mustered into the State service at Holly Springs, February 16, 1861. Their checked trousers and workday shirts are typical of the simple equipment each man furnished for himself. The boots worn by Colonel Barry, at the right, were good enough for the average Confederate soldier to go through fire to obtain later on in the war. Lacking in the regalia of warfare, the Ninth Mississippi made a glorious record for itself in Chalmers' Brigade at Shiloh, where it lost its gallant Colonel, William A. Rankin. “Never,” said General Bragg, “were troops and commander more worthy of each other and their State.”

[98] the Southerners to hold their own against the ever increasing, well-fed and well-supplied forces of the North. To quote again the able Englishman just mentioned, “Judicious indeed was the policy which, at the very outset of the war, brought the tremendous pressure of the sea power to bear against the South, and had her statesmen possessed the knowledge of what that pressure meant, they must have realized that Abraham Lincoln was no ordinary foe. In forcing the Confederates to become the aggressors, and to fire on the national ensign, he had created a united North; in establishing a blockade of their coasts he brought into play a force which, like the mills of God, ‘grinds slowly, but grinds exceedingly small.’ ” It was the command of the sea which finally told and made certain the success of the army and the reuniting of the States.
[To the discussion presented above by Admiral Chadwick may be added the following expression of opinion by one of the foremost military students of modern Europe: “The cooperation of the United States navy with their army in producing a decisive effect upon the whole character of the military operations is akin to what happens with us in nearly every war in which we engage. An English general has almost always to make his calculations strictly in accordance with what the navy can do for him. The operations by which the Federal navy, in conjunction with the army, split the Confederacy in two and severed the East from the West, must always, therefore, have for him a profound interest and importance. The great strategical results obtained by this concentration of military and naval power, which were as remarkable as the circumstances under which the successes were gained, deserve our closest study.” --Field-Marshal, the Right Honorable Viscount Wolseley.--editors.]


Sumter becomes a Federal target The eastern barracks inside Fort Sumter during the Bombardment of Sept. 8, 1863.--The guns of the Federal blockading fleet had now been pounding the Fort for many weeks. This but recently re-discovered picture is the work of G. S. Cook, the Charleston photographer. The view is to the right of the exploding shell in the picture on page 100. The flag and guns shown in the earlier picture have been swept away. The upper casemate to the left has been demolished. The lower ones remained intact, however, and continued to be used and even armed to the end of the Confederate's defense. The guns here bore on the channel nearly opposite Fort Moultrie. The bake oven of the barracks — on the chimney of which are a couple of Confederate soldiers — was frequently used for heating solid shot. In one of the lower rooms of the barracks, seen to the right, the ruins later fell upon a detachment of sleeping soldiers.


The exploding shell A wonderful war photograph preserved by the Daughters of the Confederacy of Charleston, S. C. The picture is fully described in Major John Johnson's authoritative work, “The defense of Charleston Harbor,” where a drawing based on the photograph was published. It is believed that the photograph itself has never been reproduced before its appearance here. All during August, Sumter was subjected to a constant bombardment from the Federal batteries. On September 7th, Admiral Dahlgren sent to demand the surrender of Sumter. Major Stephen Elliott replied: “Inform Admiral Dahlgren that he may have Fort Sumter when he can take and hold it.” That night the Admiral sent a boat party. It was disastrously repulsed. The very same night, under cover of the darkness, George It was disastrously repulsed. The very same night, under cover of the darkness, George S. Cook, a Charleston photographer, was being rowed across to Fort Sumter and the next morning set up his camera. After securing what is probably the most daring photograph ever taken during the Civil War (see page 24), Cook proceeded to attempt some views of the interior of the Fort and luckily caught the one reproduced above. It is quite as successful a picture as could have been made by the instantaneous photographic apparatus of the present day. We see centrally in the parade the explosion of a shell, which has just been dropped over the gorge wall by the stranded monitor Weehawken. She, though dangerously exposed, took a vigorous part in the engagement.

Note.--The extraordinary conditions under which this photograph was taken made it desirable for the artist to, retouch slightly. The photograph is printed here as Cook left it, notwithstanding the rule that none of the illustrations in the Photographic history may be retouched in any way. The thousands of scenes reproduced are from photographs taken direct from nature. The retouching in this one exception has in no way marred the historical accuracy, as will be seen by comparison with the illustrations on the opposite page and page 99, which are nearer views of the left and right of this picture. They also were taken by George S. Cook, The series forms a faithful and unique presentation of Sumter in war-time.


The first breach Within the Walls of Sumter--September 8, 1863.--The parapet shows the terrific havoc wrought by the almost continuous bombardment by the Federal fleet and land batteries during August. It culminated on September 8th when photographer Cook secured this view, made under more favorable conditions than the one above and consequently much clearer. The breach is seen to the left in the opposite picture. It was probably first made by a shot from the battery on Morris Island, the fire from which passed centrally through the fort. According to an eye witness, “it indicated the focus of all the breaching guns as they were, from all positions on Morris Island, trained upon the mass of the fort.” This breach was steadily widened during the day--September 8th. Expecting another boat attack that night, Major Elliott stationed Captain Miles and his company to defend this formidable breach. The attack came an hour after midnight and was handsomely repelled. Sumter, though almost demolished, could not yet be had for the asking.

1 Charles Francis Adams, Proceedings, Massachusetts Historical Society, 1905, vol. XIX, 224.

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