Turpentine and rosin on the White Oak River: Another Federal raid on the Georgia Coast

In earlier posts I’ve mentioned the Federal naval forces making raids along the Georgia coast through the mid-summer days of 1864 (see – Back River, Ebenezer Church, and South Newport).  But the blockaders off the Georgia coast seemed to step this up in the last days of August.  On August 22, 1864 another party, led by Acting Lieutenant Robert P. Swann, from the USS Potomska, prepared to raid up the Satilla River, from St. Andrew’s Sound.  The location is a bit south, and off my map of the summer raids:


The next inlet below St. Simon’s Sound is St. Andrew’s, which leads to the Satilla River. The location is better seen here on this map snip:


In the afternoon of August 22, the USS Potomska entered the Satilla River and set anchor. There Swann proceeded to scout the area in search of Confederate pickets.  Two boats sent ashore at Penniman’s Mills chased off the Confederates and returned with some small arms, a chain, and spyglasses.  Late that evening, Swann took the Potomska further upriver to the mouth of White Oak Creek.  There the Federals picked up three refugees.  After midnight, the Federals sent out more landing parties:

August 23 – At 2 a.m. the first and third cutters and armed crews left the ship with a scow in tow, under charge of Mr. Curtis and Mr. Joslin.  At 9:30 third cutter returned, having captured a rebel prisoner named Joseph Quarterman, 4 shotguns and 1 horse pistol, taken from his house.  At 10:30 got underway and stood down the river a quarter of a mile and came to anchor.

The other part of the landing party’s objective was a turpentine still about three miles up White Oak Creek (red dot on the map above, approximately).  Arriving at the distillery, the party found a large quantity of turpentine and rosin, along with Sergeant Quarterman of the 3rd Georgia Cavalry (mentioned above), seventeen refugees and some small arms. Unable to bring most of the materials off, the landing party burned 1,500 barrels of raw turpentine and 1,000 barrels of rosin. At 3:45 p.m., the landing party returned to the Potomska with 61 barrels of rosin and the copper still.

On his way out of the Satilla, Swann grounded the Potomska, which was quite possibly overloaded with the rosin, around 4:15 p.m. Waiting out in a heavy rain, the Potomska came off at 10 p.m. that night.  But when getting underway, over half of the rosin barrels were washed overboard.  So Swann was only able to boast 31 barrels in the end.

The Potomska spent the following day at the mouth of the Satilla, with Swann sending out several patrols.  He even brought on board several local civilians.  Later all the refugees and civilians were put shore and the Potomska made way to St. Simon’s Sound to assist with operations there. … which is the subject of the next “Georgia Coast Raid” post.  Yes, there were more to come!

(Citations from ORN, Series I, Volume 15, pages 639-40.)





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