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Chapter 13

This webpage reproduces a chapter of
Admiral Franklin Buchanan

by
Charles Lee Lewis


published by
The Norman, Remington Company
Baltimore
1929

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
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Chapter 15
This site is not affiliated with the US Naval Academy.

 p200 

Chapter XIV

Hope Deferred

Buchanan's wound incapacitated him for active service for several months, and he was succeeded to the command of the Virginia by his old friend, Commodore Tattnall, who however continually consulted with Buchanan as to the reconditioning of the ironclad and plans for its use against the Monitor. When the abandonment of Norfolk became necessary, Secretary Mallory wrote, May 3, 1862, to Captain S. S. Lee, commanding the Navy Yard, "You will afford every aid and facility to Flag Officer Buchanan and our sick and wounded men to reach Richmond". But on the advice of his physicians, Buchanan was removed to Greensboro, North Carolina, where it was thought the country air would more quickly restore his health and strength. From there he wrote, on May 13, "I am happy to say that I am daily improving, and hope soon to be sufficiently restored to report for duty. I commenced yesterday to walk a little with the assistance of crutches". On May 26, he wrote Commodore French Forrest, Chief of the Bureau of Orders and Details, that he would be able to command a squadron in ten days. He was accordingly ordered to take charge of the naval forces at Memphis, Tennessee; but on June 3 he was forced to reply that he had been too optimistic, as he still suffered  p201 great pain in his foot and leg and was not then able to perform any duty.

Buchanan wrote, on June 19, Lieutenant Catesby Jones, praising him and the remainder of the officers and crew of the Virginia for their extremely reliable service at Drewry's Bluff on the James River in assisting in the defense of Richmond. "You all certainly did good service there, and if I had recovered from my lameness as soon as I expected, I intended to have applied to command the officers and men of my late squadron. I should have been proud to have been associated with them all in the battle of Drewry's Bluff". He also gave a full account of the condition of his wound, as follows: "My lameness improves slowly, but surely. Not until I commenced walking did I find out the injury to my leg. Some of the veins and sinews leading to the foot were injured, which paralyzed my foot. As soon as the veins and sinews which were not injured accommodate themselves to perform the duties of those injured, I will walk as well as ever. Animation is gradually returning to my foot, and I feel a daily improvement, but it is slow. I walk with two sticks, and can walk about the house without any. It annoyed me not a little at the time to be obliged to decline the order to Memphis and to command the squadron on the Mississippi, but as it has turned out I should not have reached there in time to organize the squadron, or, in fact, do anything that could reflect credit upon the navy or country". The capture of Memphis took place on June 5, and Buchanan would have had barely time to arrive there by that date.

Not long afterwards, Buchanan went to Richmond to sit on a general court-martial which was convened on  p202 July 5 for the trial of Commodore Tattnall for the destruction of the Virginia after the abandonment of Norfolk by the Confederate army. Other members of the court were Captains Lawrence Rousseau and George N. Hollins, Commanders Robert G. Robb, Murray Mason, Eben. Farrand, A. B. Fairfax, M. F. Maury, and George Minor, and Lieutenants W. L. Maury and Robert B. Pegram. The findings of this court completely exonerated Tattnall from any blame and declared that it had been impracticable to attempt to take the ironclad up the James River and that "the only alternative, in the opinion of the court, was to abandon and burn the ship then and there (Near Norfolk on May 11), which, in the judgment of the court, was deliberately and wisely done by order of the accused".​1

At about the time Buchanan was promoted to the rank of Admiral, he was ordered, August 19, 1863, to Mobile to organize and command the naval defenses of that Southern port, the most important on the Gulf since the capture of New Orleans four months previous. There were then only three Confederate ships of war in those waters, the ram Baltic and the gunboats Morgan and Gaines. The latter he reported as having the iron plating over her boilers unfinished, and sent Commander C. H. McBlair immediately to Atlanta to hurry forward the iron. He also ordered him to stop at Selma, Alabama and see what progress was being made in building warships there. It was the impression at that time that Farragut's forces would soon make an attack on Mobile, and Buchanan rather pessimistically wrote, "Our little squadron will, I hope, do its duty, but against ironclad  p203 vessels not much can be expected from them. I keep all ready for service at a moment's warning".​2 Buchanan also inspected with General Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Forney the land defenses of the port, consisting particularly of Forts Morgan and Gaines, and was often in conference with him as to their improvement and strengthening.

Much of Buchanan's time in September, 1862 was taken up with the Confederate cruiser Florida, which had recently been finished in England and delivered to Confederate agents at Nassau, Bahamas. Here Lieutenant Commanding John N. Maffitt took command, and on account of a very serious epidemic of yellow fever on the vessel he made for Mobile. After engaging in a gallant fight with three Union blockaders, on September 4, off the entrance to Mobile Bay, he successfully made his way through to safety. Buchanan aided materially in taking care of the sick, fumigating and cleansing the ship, and repairing the damages suffered from the recent engagement with the Federal forces.

This exploit of the Florida worried the Federals greatly as they feared that Buchanan would dash out with his squadron and break the blockade in order to enable the cruiser to put to sea again. The blockading force was accordingly increased. The problem for them was complicated by the fear that Buchanan might slip out through Grant's Pass and attack either Ship Island or New Orleans. All that autumn and winter the correspondence of Farragut and his captains is filled with these fears, and as late as April 6, 1863, Assistant Secretary of the Navy Fox wrote to Captained. D. Porter, while Farragut was on the Mississippi river, "Buchanan  p204 will be out of Mobile and attack our fleet with his ironclads. I fear disaster there every day, and I hope you can arrange it so as to get him (Farragut) out safely and as early as possible".​3

The Florida was after a time gotten ready, fully equipped for sea service, and plans were made in consultation with Buchanan for a cruise. "Everybody but the Admiral", wrote Maffitt in his journal of de 1, 1862, "is impatient; he seems to fancy the retention of the Florida, considering her not badly employed in keeping a large fleet to watch her".​4 On account of the delay in sailing, Mallory detached Maffitt on the 30th of December, but Buchanan went in person to President Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Davis, who then happened to be at Mobile, and declared that the order was not only a grave error but also a gross act of injustice. The President accordingly telegraphed Mallory and Maffitt was restored to his command. Buchanan wrote Mallory about the matter on January 1, 1863, explaining fully why Maffitt had not sailed. This letter, which is an excellent example of Buchanan's loyalty to his officers and his readiness to make indignant protest when they were unjustly treated, is in part as follows:

". . . Captain Maffitt's whole course since he has been under my command has met my approbation, the zeal and energy displayed by him in equipping the Florida for sea, under peculiar circumstances and difficulties, his discretion, manliness, and skill, in rescuing that vessel from the British authorities at Nassau, and though pursued by a large number of the enemies' vessels after leaving that port, his success in getting on board her armament, avoiding interception  p205 by them, and with a crew enfeebled by disease, Yellow Fever, himself prostrated by the same disease, not pausing for a moment, but nobly and gallantly bringing her safely through the blockading squadron and delivering her to the Confederacy, worthy of all praise".

Finally, early in the morning of January 16, in a hard gale from the northeast, the Florida, painted lead color according to the advice of Buchanan, slipped through the eight vessels of the Federal blockade and went to sea. She then began a cruise which resulted in the capture or destruction of thirty-seven vessels before she was illegally destroyed by a Union warship in the neutral port of Bahia, Brazil, on October 7, 1864.

On January 26, Buchanan organized a considerable expedition, consisting of the steamers Crescent and Junior, under the charge of some of his best officers, Lieutenants Bennett, Eggleston, Cenas, Dornin, and Raney and Captain Meiere of the Marines (his son-in‑law). The object was the capture of one of the blockading vessels lying off the Swash Channel. Explicit directions were given by Buchanan. The men were to carry only cutlasses and revolvers and, as it was to be a night attack, they were to wear white covers on their caps and white shirts to distinguish their men from the enemy. The plan was to run alongside the vessel and carry her by boarding. "I feel assured," concluded the Admiral's instructions, "that success will attend you, the country will admire and thank you all for your gallantry, and the navy will prove to our country its willingness to destroy the enemy or die in the attempt". The attempt was frustrated, however, by the grounding of the small steamer Alice with 800 bales of cotton on board under the guns of Fort Morgan. This caused the  p206 Federals to place a second blockading vessel off the channel, and furthermore a gale came on which lasted for thirty hours and made boarding impossible. The undertaking, therefore, had to be postponed, and no later favorable opportunity presented itself for such an enterprise.

Buchanan also assisted in various ways certain small expeditions which were made against enemy commerce in neighboring waters. One of these daring enterprises was organized in Mobile by Captain G. Andrews for a raid on the shipping at the mouth of the Mississippi. Andrews with a party of fourteen men set out on the 6th of April in a small boat, armed only with revolvers, and on the 14th they returned with a prize, the steam tug Fox, and twenty-three prisoners. "I am informed", wrote Buchanan, "that the vessel will be fitted out to run Havana with cotton; the enterprise was very handsomely carried out and much credit is due those concerned for their bold act. In running through the Swash Channel she grounded, the enemy throwing shot and shell at her; by the assistance of the Gaines's boats she was gotten off, and her pilot brought her safely in".​5

Another successful expedition off the mouth of the Mississippi was carried out by Captain James Duke and eighteen other citizens of Mobile. Provided with a suitable boat by Buchanan, they set out in the last week of May, lying in wait a few miles above Pass l'Outre lighthouse, they succeeded on the evening of June 9 in taking the steam propeller tug Boston. The next day, in this vessel, Captain Duke easily captured the bark Lenox, from New York to New Orleans, which he burned  p207 together with her valuable cargo. Then, standing out to sea, he took soon afterwards another bark from New York, the Texana, which was disposed of in the same manner. In the Boston, he then ran the gauntlet of Federal blockaders safely into the Bay with his nineteen prisoners, after having destroyed ships and cargo valued at $200,000. In November, Captain Duke went out again and captured two more merchant vessels, one of which was a schooner, the Norman.

Acting Master David Nichols, to whom Buchanan issued orders for cruising between Mobile and the Mississippi, August 19, 1863, was not so successful; but was captured in October and reported to have been brutally treated while in prison in New Orleans. He, however, succeeded in escaping from prison the following month.

In April, 1864, Lieutenant James McC. Baker of the Huntsville and his brother Page M. Baker, master's mate of the Tuscaloosa, under orders from Buchanan, made a remarkably successful reconnaissance of Fort Pickens, defending the entrance to Pensacola, in one of the Morgan's cutters with only eight seamen. Plans were accordingly laid for the capture of Fort Pickens and then the Pensacola Navy Yard; but the Battle of Mobile Bay in August led to the abandonment of the undertaking.

During all of the year 1863, Buchanan devoted himself to the discouraging, heartbreaking work of completing war vessels and equipping them for active service. Several ironclads were under construction at Selma, on the Alabama River, some 150 miles north of Mobile, which was situated at this river's mouth. Commodore Ebenezer Farrand was in charge there, assisted by Naval Constructor Joseph Pierce, and Buchanan was  p208 in constant communication with him. As early as September 26, 1862, he promised Buchanan that one of the vessels would be ready in six weeks. As a matter of fact, the first launching did not take place until February 8, 1863. The ships were then floated down stream to Mobile while the river was at spring flood.​6 As they were built on a bluff some one hundred feet above the bed of the river, they could be launched only at high water. Captain James D. Johnston, who was sent by Buchanan to superintend the conveying of the Tennessee down to Mobile, thus described her launching: "Above midday, there was heard the sound of a gun, and immediately afterward the Tennessee was shot into the swift current like an arrow, and the water had risen to such a height that she struck in her course the corner of a brick warehouse, situated on an adjoining bluff and demolishing it. This was her first and only experience as a ram. The Federal cruisers with which she subsequently contended proved too fleet for her in more than one sense of the word".​7

At Mobile the two gunboats Huntsville and Tuscaloosa and the ram Tennessee were furnished their machinery, armor, and guns. A trial run was made with the Tuscaloosa near the first of April; and two weeks later with the Huntsville near the first of April; and two weeks later with the Huntsville. There was, however,  p209 great delay in putting the armor on all the vessels. There was trouble in getting the iron, which was furnished by the Shelby Iron Company, and still further delays in its preparation, — rolling, cutting, and drilling. The efforts made by Buchanan to hasten the work are seen in the following letter which he wrote to Mallory:​8

"The work on the Tennessee has progressed for some weeks past under Mr. Pierce, as fast as the means in his power would permit. There is much delay for want of plate and bolt iron; it was impossible to iron both sponsons at the same time, as the vessel had to be careened several feet to enable them to put the iron on; even then several of the workmen were waist deep in the water to accomplish it. To careen her, large beams twelve feet square had to be run out of the ports and secured, on which several tons of iron had to be placed; and during the progress of putting on the sponson iron the shield iron could not be put on. The work has been carried on night and day when it could be done advantageously. I visit the Nashville9 and Tennessee frequently, and to secure and control the services of the mechanics I have had them all conscripted and detailed to work under my orders. Previously they were very independent and stopped working when they pleased".

There was also delay in securing armament. Buchanan began requesting guns for the Selma boats from Mallory as early as September 26, 1862. In October, he made arrangements to secure from the army at Mobile six guns as a temporary battery: two 42's and two 32's, smooth-bore, and two 32's, rifled. On November  p210 24th, he received two English 7‑inch rifles and one 9‑inch smooth-bore. These seem to be the ones for which he sent an officer to Captain Ingraham at Charleston on October 27. The carriages for all these guns were made by Lieutenant McCorkle at Atlanta. Eventually, the Tennessee was armed with very fine guns cast at the Selma Gun Foundry by Captain Catesby ap Roger Jones.

As much annoyance was met with in securing men to man the ships. Some were gotten by hook or by crook from the army; some were from the refugees from New Orleans. Buchanan had a very poor opinion of these men; he wrote, "The crews of the vessels under my command are of all nations, and many of very bad character".​10 However, some 150 Tennessee troops, which were transferred to the Tennessee ram, appear to have been an exception, as they were in particular very highly spoken of by Lieutenant Johnston, the commanding officer of that ship. It was also difficult to secure coal, and there was never an adequate supply of it on hand for the entire squadron to maneuver properly. During the summer and autumn there was so much sickness, — malaria, dysentery, and so forth, among the men that they had to be put on shore in cotton warehouses. On September 8, 1863, Buchanan wrote to the bureau of Medicine and Surgery in Richmond that no quinine was to be secured in Mobile, and that "unless we are furnished more liberally with that drug the sickness here will never terminate".

At Mobile, there were being constructed during this time also two floating batteries by the navy and one by the army; while at Oven Bluff up the Tombigbee River,  p211 which also entered the Bay at Mobile, were being built two "light draft double-propeller ironclad steamers, to mount four guns each" and "another large size ironclad".​11 Though one of the Tombigbee vessels were launched July 13, 1862, none of them were ready to take part in the Battle of Mobile Bay, though Buchanan refers, as early as October 9, 1862, to their being under construction. Bad management on the part of the contractors Porter and Watson, and the unhealthiness of the vicinity were the probable causes of this failure.

Experiments were also in progress at Mobile with submarines. The following letter by Buchanan​12 to Mallory regarding James R. McClintock's pioneer work along this line is extremely interesting:

"Mr. McClintock has received from this state, from General Slaughter commanding here, and myself all the assistance and facilities he required to complete his boat, and within the last week or ten days we succeeded in getting a man from New Orleans who was to have made the 'Magnetic Engine' by which it was to have been propelled. I have witnessed the operations of the boat in the water when propelled by hand, the steam engine being a failure and had to be removed. On that occasion its speed was not more than two miles per hour. Since then other trials have been made, all proving failures. The last trial was about a week since when the boat was lost off this harbor and was sunk; the men came very near being lost. I never entertained but one opinion as to the result of this boat, that it would prove a failure; and such has been the case. The original intention of going under a vessel and attaching a torpedo to her was  p212 abandoned; the torpedo or explosive machine was to have been towed by a rope from the boat and when under the vessel was to have been exploded. I considered the whole affair as impracticable from the commencement".

In a letter of March 3 following he informed Mallory that a Mr. Braxton Watson was associated with McClintock, and that such a boat could not, in any case, have operated with any success in Mobile Bay because of the shoalness of those waters. But on August 1, he wrote​13 of another submarine with more confidence,

"I yesterday witnessed the destruction of a lighter or coal flat in Mobile River by a torpedo which was placed under it by a submarine iron boat, the invention of Messrs. Whitney and McClintock; Messrs. Watson and Whitney visit Charleston for the purpose of consulting General Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Beauregard and yourself to ascertain whether you will try it; they will explain all its advantages, and if it can operate in smooth water where the current is not strong, as was the case yesterday, I can recommend it to your favorable consideration. It can be propelled about four knots per hour,​a to judge from the experiment of yesterday. I am fully satisfied it can be used successfully in blowing up one or more of the enemy's ironclads in your harbor. Do me the favor to show this to General Beauregard with my regards".​14

 p213  During these many months of preparation, when Buchanan must have experienced fully that "hope deferred maketh the heart sick", he gave no evidence in his correspondence of any diminution of that courage and fearless manliness for which he had always been so famous. The theme of his letters constantly was that he would make the best possible use of the means at hand. He was the same strict disciplinarian, firm in opposition to drunkenness among his officers and men, and dishonesty and unreliability on the part of some of the contractors with whom he had dealings. Anything that was unjust to him or his men he would not allow to pass without his vigorous protest. The following letters are excellent examples of this characteristic of the man, and show at the same time the nature of other annoyances he had to endure besides those connected directly with the equipping of war vessels. To Senator A. G. Brown he wrote, in February, 1863,

"I beg leave to call your attention to a matter of some importance to the navy. Congress has omitted to appropriate prize money for the destruction of Yankee vessels in Hampton Roads in March last by the squadron under my command; previous to the engagement with the enemy on that occasion I addressed the crew, and as a strong incentive to 'stand to their guns', I held out to them the promise of prize money, provided they destroy the ships of the enemy, which would contribute much towards the comfort and happiness of their wives and children. The promise had its effect, and I felt justified in making it, as the law gave it to them. It has not, however, been fulfilled, and Congress not having made the appropriation places me in a very unpleasant position as they look to me for it. It is a delicate matter for me to urge  p214 this claim before Congress as I am to be benefited by it, but, sir, I am governed by higher principles in calling the attention of Congress to this matter than the mere compensation to be received. I hope before very long to appear again before the enemy, and I cannot again hold out to the crews of the various vessels under me the prospect of prize money as an incentive to extra duty and hard fighting. I therefore hope you will bring this matter before Congress at an early period".

The second letter, cited as an example, grew out of a personal matter, which is fully made clear in the communication itself, written to Commodore French Forrest, then Chief of the Bureau of Orders and Details, on February 3, 1863, as follows:

"When I received a copy of the new Navy Register from your office, I discovered the word 'Admiral' mentioned twice with three dotted lines between the first and my name. As I was aware that there was only, as yet, one 'Admiral' in the Navy, I was unable to explain them when asked their meaning by my brother officers. On the 22d ult. I addressed an inquiry to the Hon. the Secretary of the Navy, who has explained the matter by forwarding to me a copy of his letter to you of January 9th and your reply. As this little act, to call it by no harsher term, was yours, I am not astonished at it, as I have heard of your disappointment and chagrin at not being made an 'Admiral'; but why you should have experienced it none of your brother officers can tell, for certainly you have never given any evidence, by applying for orders where there was a prospect of danger, that you wished to serve your country, or display gallantry to secure your promotion. I am aware that you have permitted seven of your juniors to command squadrons where there was a prospect of  p215 danger without any dissatisfaction on your part, or application from you for such service. Your little act in the arrangement of the dotted lines cannot injure me or interfere with my position in the Navy nor can they make you an 'Admiral'."

It was not until February 16, 1864 that the colors were hoisted over the Tennessee and she was put in commission with Lieutenant James D. Johnston as her commanding officer. But she still had to be gotten into the Bay over the Dog River Bar, which had only nine feet of water at high tide; and as she drew, even without ammunition, supplies, and crew on board, much more than nine feet (thirteen feet when complete for service), it became necessary to float her over with wooden caissons, or "camels". Unfortunately, on April 3, three of these camels were burned, and it was only on May 17th that the ram was floated into the Bay. At 10 A.M. on May 22 Buchanan hoisted his flag on her, inspected and addressed the crew, and formally took command of his squadron.

This squadron then comprised only three other vessels; namely, the Gaines, Morgan, and Selma. The Nashville, not being finished, and the Huntsville and Tuscaloosa, not having their armor complete, were not taken into the Bay. The Baltic, which had been turned over to the Confederate States by the State of Georgia, had been unfavorably reported upon by Naval Constructor Porter, who recommended that the iron be taken off her and placed on one of the new Tombigbee boats. "Between you and me", wrote her commanding officer, Lieutenant Charles C. Simms,​15 "the Baltic is as rotten as punk, and is about as fit to go into action as a mud  p216 scow." Buchanan had reported​16 her magazines to be damp and some of the fuses in her shells in a deteriorated condition; and so she was not included by him in his active squadron and in June was laid up as unseaworthy.

The Morgan, Gaines, and Selma were side-wheel gunboats, unarmored except for light plating around the boilers. The first two had been hastily constructed of unseasoned wood early in the war at Mobile; while the Selma was merely a converted open-deck river steamer. The Morgan was the largest, being about two hundred feet long with two 7‑inch rifles and four 32‑pounders; and her commanding officer was Commander George W. Harrison. The Gaines, commanded by Lieutenant J. W. Bennett, carried one 8‑inch rifle and five 32‑pounders; while the Selma, commanded by Commander P. U. Murphy, was armed with one 6‑inch rifle and three 8‑inch shell guns.

The Tennessee was the only vessel of great power in Buchanan's squadron. She was 209 feet in length and 48 feet in beam, and carried her battery housed in a shield, or casemate 78 feet and 8 inches long and 8 feet high above the deck, which was only about eighteen inches above the surface of the water where not covered with the casemate. "Sponsons of heavy timber projected about five feet from the sides in a line with the deck, extending seven feet below it, the lower edge of the shield covering the outer angle or apex of the sponsons".​17 The sides of the shield were of yellow pine and white oak, about two  p217 feet thick, placed at an angle of 33 degrees with the deck. At Mobile, her armor plate was put on, as fast as it appeared from the mills. "It consisted of plates of exceedingly tough and malleable iron seven inches wide, two inches thick, and twenty‑one feet long. Three layers of the 2‑inch plates were bolted on the forward end of the shield as far as the after end of the pilot house (which extended about two feet above the top of the shield), and from that point to the termination of the shield two plates of 2‑inch and one of 1‑inch were used. "​18 This was all bolted to the wood through and through with one and one‑fourth inch bolts. The upper part of the shield was covered with wrought-iron grating of 2 by 6‑inch bars laid flat, the whole supported by wooden beams twelve inches square and five feet apart. The deck which was not covered with the shield was overlaid with wrought-iron plates two inches thick.

The ram was armed with six guns, two 7‑inch Brooke rifles on pivots at each end, where there were three slightly elongated ports so that the gun could be turned three different directions, and four 6.4‑inch Brooke rifles in broadside. This battery was cast at the Naval Gun Foundry at Selma by Captain Catesby ap Roger Jones, who had gained distinction as an ordnance officer in the United States Navy. The gun ports had wrought-iron sliding shutters five inches thick. These revolved "on pivots at the side by means of pulleys or tackles passing through the shield so that as soon as each gun was discharged the port cover was immediately drawn over the port and the gun reloaded".​19 The ram was also armed with a beak or prow, covered with wrought-iron  p218 plates, which projected about two feet; it was below the surface of the water and was formed by the continuation of the sponsoning, described above.

In spite of the long time spent in the construction of the Tennessee and her cost (estimated value after the battle $883,880.29), she had some very serious defects. In the first place, her engines were inadequate. They were not built for her, but were taken from the river steamboat Alonzo Child and hauled several hundred miles across country from the Yazoo River. With these engines the ram could develop no more than six nautical miles an hour. Another defect was in the arrangement of the gun port shutters which were very likely to become jammed in battle. Also there was a serious defect in the placing of the rudder chains so that they were partially exposed and liable to be shot away or damaged at any moment in an engagement. An effort was made to remedy the fault by covering the groove in the after deck, through which they ran, with one‑inch sheet iron.

Though the Tennessee was by no means perfectly constructed, when one considers the difficulties under which she was built and the fact that when her keel was laid some of her timbers were still growing trees near Selma and her armor was then ore in the mines, one realizes that the finishing of such a powerful man-of‑war even in the time consumed was a remarkable achievement, of which the Confederates had a right to feel proud. Within a few weeks after the completion of his second ironclad, Buchanan was to be given an opportunity to put her to a test such as no warship had ever before been subjected in the annals of naval warfare, — the Battle of Mobile Bay.


The Author's Notes:

1 Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Series I, Vol. VII, 798.

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2 To Commodore French Forrest, Chief of the Bureau of Orders and Details, September 12, 1862.

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3 Official Naval Records, Series I, Vol. XXIV, 533.

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4 Ibid., Vol. I, 769.

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5 To Mallory, April 16, 1863.

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6 The following interesting bit of news appeared in the Montgomery (Alabama) Daily Advertiser, Sunday morning, March 8, 1863: "The Claiborne (Ala.) Southerner says the steamer Southern Republic passed down the river on Sunday last, having something in tow. What could be seen of it very much resembled the back of a whale, and yet looked something like a 'tarrapin', only its legs and head were not visible. It may be very probable that it was a 'male sheep'." This was the ram Tennessee. The Tuscaloosa and the Huntsville came down the river about the middle of February, the former under her own steam, the latter possibly in tow.

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7 In an address delivered before the Georgia Historical Society, about the year 1889.

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8 September 20, 1863.

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9 This vessel, also constructed at Selma and floated down stream to Mobile, was not completed for lack of iron for her armor. She would have been as formidable as the Tennessee.

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10 To Secretary Mallory, February 12, 1863.

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11 Report of Chief Constructor John L. Porter, November 1, 1864.

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12 Of February 14, 1863.

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13 To Flag Officer John R. Tucker, commanding naval forces at Charleston.

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14 According to a letter written by McClintock after the war (about 1871) to Matthew Fontaine Maury, his first experiment with a submarine was made at New Orleans, but the evacuation of that city rendered it impossible to complete his experiments. The one built at Mobile in 1863, he wrote, was 36 feet long, 3 feet wide, and 4 feet high with twelve feet of each end tapering: 4 men operated the cranks which turned the propeller. In 1864, he built one somewhat larger at Mobile, which was taken to Charleston and afterwards sunk the Housatonic.

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15 To Catesby Jones, March 20, 1864.

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16 To Commander John K. Mitchell, Bureau of Orders and Details, October 3, 1863.

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17 "The Ram Tennessee at Mobile Bay," by Commander James D. Johnston in Battles and Leaders, V.401.

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18 Ibid.

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19 From an address delivered by James D. Johnston before the Georgia Historical Society.


Thayer's Note:

a Sic. See my note in chapter 5.


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