USS Black Hawk (1848)
USS Black Hawk was a large steamer purchased by the Union Navy during the American Civil War. She was assigned by the Union Navy to gunboat duty in the waterways of the rebellious Confederate States of America. Black Hawk, a side-wheel river steamer, was built in 1848 as Uncle Sam at Indiana. During most of her service Black Hawk served as flagship for Rear Admiral David Dixon Porter, Captain Alexander Mosely Pennock and Rear Admiral Samuel Phillips Lee, successive commanders of the Mississippi Squadron, she participated in the following operations: Vicksburg, Mississippi capture of Fort Hindman, Arkansas attack on Haines Bluff, Mississippi siege of Vicksburg Red river Expedition Thereafter she patrolled in the Mississippi River and its tributaries. On April 22, 1865 she accidentally sank, three miles above Cairo, Illinois, her wreck was raised and sold at St. Louis, Missouri, in April 1867; this article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entry can be found here.
United States Navy Bibliography of the American Civil War Confederate States Navy*Bibliography of early American naval history Bibliography of the American Civil War List of ships captured in the 19th century Blockade runners of the American Civil War Glossary of nautical terms
The James River is a river in the U. S. state of Virginia that begins in the Appalachian Mountains and flows 348 miles to Chesapeake Bay. The river length extends to 444 miles if one includes the Jackson River, the longer of its two source tributaries, it is the longest river in Virginia and the 12th longest river in the United States that remains within a single state. Jamestown and Williamsburg, Virginia’s first colonial capitals, Richmond, Virginia's current capital, lie on the James River; the Native Americans who populated the area east of the Fall Line in the late 16th and early 17th centuries called the James River the Powhatan River, named for the chief of the Powhatan Confederacy which extended over most of the Tidewater region of Virginia. The English colonists named it "James" after King James I of England, as they constructed the first permanent English settlement in the Americas in 1607 at Jamestown along the banks of the James River about 35 miles upstream from the Chesapeake Bay.
The navigable portion of the river was the major highway of the Colony of Virginia during its first 15 years, facilitating supply ships delivering supplies and more people from England. However, for the first five years, despite many hopes of gold and riches, these ships sent little of monetary value back to the sponsors. In 1612, businessman John Rolfe cultivated a non-native strain of tobacco which proved popular in England. Soon, the river became the primary means of exporting the large hogsheads of this cash crop from an ever-growing number of plantations with wharfs along its banks; this development made the proprietary efforts of the Virginia Company of London successful financially, spurring more development and immigration. Below the falls at Richmond, many James River plantations had their own wharfs, additional ports and/or early railheads were located at Warwick, Bermuda Hundred, City Point, Claremont and Smithfield, during the 17th century, the capital of the Colony at Jamestown.
Navigation of the James River played an important role in early Virginia commerce and the settlement of the interior, although growth of the colony was in the Tidewater region during the first 75 years. The upper reaches of the river above the head of navigation at the fall line were explored by fur trading parties sent by Abraham Wood during the late 17th century. Although ocean-going ships were unable to navigate beyond present-day Richmond, portage of products and navigation with smaller craft to transport crops other than tobacco was feasible. Produce from the Piedmont and Great Valley regions traveled down the river to seaports at Richmond and Manchester through such port towns as Lynchburg, Scottsville and Buchanan; as the James River passed through the Confederate capital Richmond, it was the scene of much action in the Civil War, notably in the Peninsula Campaign, the Seven Days Battles and the Siege of Petersburg. The James River was considered a route for transport of produce from the Ohio Valley.
The James River and Kanawha Canal was built for this purpose, to provide a navigable portion of the Kanawha River, a tributary of the Ohio River. For the most mountainous section between the two points, the James River and Kanawha Turnpike was built to provide a portage link for wagons and stagecoaches. However, before the canal could be completed, in the mid-19th century, railroads emerged as a more practical technology and eclipsed canals for economical transportation; the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway was completed between Richmond and the Ohio River at the new city of Huntington, West Virginia by 1873, dooming the canal's economic prospects. In the 1880s, the Richmond and Alleghany Railroad was laid along the eastern portion of the canal's towpath, became part of the C&O within 10 years. In modern times, this rail line is used in transporting West Virginia coal to export coal piers at Newport News; the James River drains a catchment comprising 10,432 square miles. The watershed includes about an area with a population of 2.5 million people.
The James River forms near Iron Gate on the border between Alleghany and Botetourt counties, from the confluence of the Cowpasture and Jackson rivers in the Appalachian Mountains. It flows into the Chesapeake Bay at Hampton Roads. Tidal waters extend west to the capital of Virginia, at the river's fall line. Larger tributaries draining to the tidal portion include the Appomattox River, Chickahominy River, Warwick River, Pagan River, the Nansemond River. At its mouth near Newport News Point, the Elizabeth River and the Nansemond River join the James River to form the harbor area known as Hampton Roads. Between the tip of the Virginia Peninsula near Old Point Comfort and the Willoughby Spit area of Norfolk in South Hampton Roads, a channel leads from Hampton Roads into the southern portion of the Chesapeake Bay and out to the Atlantic Ocean a few miles further east. Many boats pass through this river to export Virginia products. During the 1960's and 70's, mishandling and dumping of the insecticide Kepone resulted in the contamination of large stretches or the James River Estuary downstream of the Allied Signal Company and LifeSciences Product Company plants in Hopewell, Virginia.
Due to the pollution risks, many businesses and restaurants along the river suffered economic losses. In 1975 Governor Mills Godwin Jr. shut down the James River to fishing for 100 miles, from Richmond to the Chesapeake Bay. This ban remained in effect for 13 years. A decade of accumulated silt, lying above the contaminated riverbed, helped to reduce levels of the chemical; the James River contains numerous park
PS Lelia was a steamship built during the American Civil War for use as a blockade runner for the Confederate States of America. She sank in Liverpool Bay in 1865 in an incident. Lelia was built by William C Miller & Company of Toxteth as one of a trio of blockade running sister ships ordered for the Anglo-Confederate concern, William G. Crenshaw & Company, she was a 252-foot paddle steamship of 640 BRT. Her hull was built of an unusual and expensive material for shipbuilding at the time; the engines and other machinery were rated at 300 nhp. She left the River Mersey, with a Liverpool-based crew, several prominent Confederate naval officers, on her maiden voyage on 14 January 1865 bound for Wilmington, North Carolina, via Bermuda, aiming to run the Union blockade. Lelia was laden, when she hit bad weather off the coast of North Wales, large waves knocked her anchors loose and through the deck, swamping her, she sank near the lightship Prince off the Great Orme. Two boats were able to leave the stricken ship, but one capsized and only twelve survivors reached the safety of the lightship.
The next day the Liverpool No 1 Lifeboat went to the scene, but was itself swamped by waves, with the loss of seven out of its 11 crew. List of United Kingdom disasters by death toll Naval battles of the American Civil War Ellen Southard Chris Michael - "Lelia" ISBN 1-901231-47-X Ivor Wynne Jones - America's Secret War in Welsh Waters "Cruisers and Confederates" John Hussey - details the story of Liverpool built ships for the Confederate navy. A host of characters and places within the city in that era - James Dunwoody Bulloch, C. K. Prioleau, many others. Countyvise 2009 ISBN 978-1-906823-32-0 "When Liverpool was Dixie" on "Lelia" The story of the tragedy of the Lelia and the wreck of the lifeboat, an adjunct of the disaster
CSS Palmetto State
CSS Palmetto State was an ironclad ram built in January 1862 by Cameron and Co. Charleston, South Carolina, under the supervision of Flag Officer D. N. Ingraham, CSN, she was readied for service in the American Civil War by September 1862 when Lieutenant Commander John Rutledge, CSN, was placed in command. Her casemate armor was 4 inches thick, backed by 22 inches of wood, while 2 inches of iron armor was used everywhere else, her pilothouse was positioned abaft of the smokestack. Before dawn on January 31, 1863, Palmetto State and her sister ram CSS Chicora crept through thick haze to surprise the Union blockading force off Charleston. Taking full advantage of her low silhouette in the darkness, the ironclad steamed in under the guns of USS Mercedita, ramming as well as firing heavy shot point-blank into her hull. Disabled, with cannons that could not be depressed low enough to fire at Palmetto State, the Union ship was forced to surrender; the ram turned her attention to USS Keystone State, firing several shells into the blockader.
Her steam chests punctured, Keystone State had to be towed to safety. A long-range cannon duel between the Confederate rams and other Union blockaders took place, but little damage was inflicted by either side before Palmetto State and Chicora withdrew to safety within Charleston Harbor; the attack by the Confederate rams caused the temporary withdrawal of the blockaders from their inshore positions and led to the claim by the Confederate government, unsuccessfully advanced, that the blockade of Charleston had been broken. Palmetto State joined in the defense of Charleston during Admiral Samuel Francis du Pont's unsuccessful April 1–7, 1863 attack on the harbor forts, her officers and men were cited for rendering valuable services on the night of September 6–7, 1863 during the removal troops from Fort Wagner and Battery Gregg. Palmetto State was set-fire by the Confederates to avoid capture upon the evacuation of Charleston on February 18, 1865. Bisbee, Saxon T.. Engines of Rebellion: Confederate Ironclads and Steam Engineering in the American Civil War.
Tuscaloosa, Alabama: University of Alabama Press. ISBN 978-0-81731-986-1. Silverstone, Paul H.. Civil War Navies 1855–1883; the U. S. Navy Warship Series. New York: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-97870-X. Still, William N. Jr.. Iron Afloat: The Story of the Confederate Armorclads. Columbia, South Carolina: University of South Carolina Press. ISBN 0-87249-454-3; this article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. Media related to CSS Palmetto State at Wikimedia Commons
USS San Jacinto (1850)
The first USS San Jacinto was an early screw frigate in the United States Navy during the mid-19th century. She was named for the San Jacinto River, site of the Battle of San Jacinto during the Texas Revolution, she is best known for her role in the Trent Affair of 1861. San Jacinto was laid down by the New York Navy Yard in August 1847, launched on 16 April 1850, she was sponsored by Executive Officer of the New York Navy Yard. No record of San Jacinto's commissioning ceremony has been found, but her first commanding officer, Captain Thomas Crabbe, reported aboard on 18 November 1851; the earliest page of the ship's log which has survived is dated 26 February 1852, but San Jacinto's service began earlier. Some evidence suggests that the frigate got under way for test runs late in 1851. Built as an experimental ship to test new propulsion concepts, the screw frigate was plagued by balky engines and unreliable machinery throughout her career. Yet, San Jacinto crowded her record with valuable service.
The steamer sailed from New York on New Year's Day, 1852, headed for Norfolk, Virginia on a trial voyage to test her seaworthiness and machinery before heading across the Atlantic for service in the Mediterranean. She encountered heavy weather during the passage to Hampton Roads, one of her engines was disabled. After repairs at the Norfolk Navy Yard, the frigate passed between the Virginia Capes on 3 March and headed for Cadiz, Spain. However, chronic engine problems hampered the ship during her operations in European waters, she was decommissioned there on the 13th for installation of new machinery. Four days after recommissioning on 5 August 1854, San Jacinto sailed eastward to try her new engines. Following repairs at Southampton, she resumed her cruise in European waters. In the spring of 1855, San Jacinto was attached to the Home Squadron and served in the West Indies Squadron as flagship for Commodore Charles S. McCauley to bolster American naval strength in the Caribbean after Spanish frigate, had fired upon United States mail steamer, El Dorado, off the coast of Cuba.
When no further cause of friction between the two countries developed, San Jacinto returned home and decommissioned at New York on 21 June 1855 for repairs. Recommissioned on 4 October 1855, the screw frigate, now commanded by Captain Henry H. Bell, departed New York on the 25th and headed for the Far East as flagship of Commodore James Armstrong. After proceeding via Madeira, the Cape of Good Hope and Ceylon, the ship arrived at Penang in the Straits of Malacca on 22 March 1856. There, Townsend Harris, the appointed Consul General to Japan, embarked on 2 April. After a four-day stop at Singapore, where Commodore Armstrong relieved Commodore Joel Abbot in command of the East India Squadron, the frigate reached the bar off the mouth of the Me Nam River on the 13th. A few days Harris ascended the Me Nam to Bangkok where he negotiated a treaty establishing diplomatic and commercial relations between the United States and Siam; the King of Siam at the time was Mongkut, the subject of the musical comedy, The King and I.
After succeeding in this delicate diplomatic mission, Harris returned on the morning of 1 June to San Jacinto, which awaited him at the mouth of the Me Nam. However, after only half an hour of steaming, engine trouble reappeared and plagued the ship throughout her painfully slow passage to Hong Kong, which she reached on the 13th. There, major repairs interrupted the voyage for two months. San Jacinto got underway again on 12 August. While proceeding by the Pescadores toward Formosa, she assisted several junks disabled by a violent typhoon which had devastated much of the coast of China; the ship at long last reached Shimoda, Japan, on 21 August and remained there while Harris was negotiating with Japanese officials concerning the establishment of his consulate—the first official foreign diplomatic office to be permitted on Japanese soil. During his subsequent service as Consul General, Harris persuaded the Japanese government to sign a commercial treaty which opened the country to American trade and hastened the westernization and industrial development of Japan.
On 4 September 1856, after a party from the ship had erected a flagpole in front of the new consulate and had helped Harris to raise the Stars and Stripes there for the first time, San Jacinto weighed anchor and headed for Shanghai. Early in October 1856, mounting hostility toward foreigners in China erupted into the Second Opium War; that month, word of the fighting between British and Chinese forces at Canton reached Commodore Armstrong at Shanghai, he proceeded in San Jacinto to the scene of the conflict. When he reached the Pearl River, he learned that Comdr. Andrew H. Foote, in response to a request for help from the United States consul at Canton, had landed a force of 150 men at Whampoa to protect American lives and property. Armstrong approved of Foote's action and reinforced the shore party with a detachment from San Jacinto. A few days after receiving assurances from Chinese officials, the Commodore decided to withdraw the American force. However, on 15 November, while Foote was passing the barrier forts in a small boat during preparations for reembarkation, Chinese guns fired upon him four or five times.
The next day, Portsmouth closed the nearest fort and opened fire, beginning a vigorous engagement which continued until the Chinese batteries were silenced some two hours later. Meanwhile, efforts were begun to settle the matter by diplomatic means
A spar torpedo is a weapon consisting of a bomb placed at the end of a long pole, or spar, attached to a boat. The weapon is used by running the end of the spar into the enemy ship. Spar torpedoes were equipped with a barbed spear at the end, so it would stick to wooden hulls. A fuse could be used to detonate it; the spar torpedo was invented during the American Civil War by E. C. Singer, a private engineer who worked on secret projects for the benefit of the Confederate States of America. Singer's torpedo was detonated by means of a trigger mechanism adapted from a rifle lock; the spring-loaded trigger was detonated by means of a long cord attached to the attacking vessel. The attacking vessel rammed its target, embedding the barbed torpedo in its hull backed off; when the attacker reached the limit of the trigger cord, the torpedo was detonated. The most famous use of a spar torpedo was on the Confederate submarine H. L. Hunley, which managed to sink the Union screw sloop USS Housatonic on February 17, 1864, although the Hunley was lost.
Spar torpedoes were used on the David-class of semi-submersible attack boats. At night on October 27–28, 1864, Lieutenant Cushing employed a spar torpedo to sink the Confederate ironclad ram CSS Albemarle; the sinking of the Albemarle was the Union navy's only successful sinking of a Confederate vessel by torpedo. Lieutenant Cushing employed a spar torpedo designed by John Lay; the innovative semi-submersible 1864 Union craft USS Spuyten Duyvil employed a spar torpedo, but not with a barbed attachment to the target. Owing to an innovative directable and extensible spar, this craft could release a buoyant mine underneath the target, which would be exploded by the means described above. Spar torpedoes were used on small wooden launches in the late 19th century, although they were not useful weapons; the locomotive torpedo replaced the spar torpedo as a weapon for submarines and small boats in the 1870s. Spar torpedoes were used by Romanian forces during the country's war of independence. On May 26, 1877, the craft Rândunica sank.
Though the more advanced automotive torpedo was looming in the end of the 19th century, French admiral Courbet made good use of the spar torpedo at the Battle of Foochow on August 23, 1884, where most of the Chinese Fujian Fleet under Admiral Ting was destroyed or sunk