Potter’s Raid, April 25, 1865: After 23 days and 300 miles, the raiders return to Georgetown

The Civil War might be winding down in the last week of April 1865, but Brigadier-General Edward E. Potter’s provisional division was still in the field, though marching back to the coast from a successful raid reaching the Sand Hills of South Carolina. On April 21, 1865, a flag of truce relayed the news of a truce, while General Joseph E. Johnston and Major-General William T. Sherman worked out the details of a Confederate surrender.  From that point, Potter’s raiders had a relatively uneventful march to the coast.

PotterRaidApr25

Potter directed the column towards the boat-depot at Wright’s Bluff on April 22.  There he transferred “wounded, sick, and about five hundred contrabands” to the boats to ease the march.  Potter himself departed by boat, heading back to Charleston in order to report and receive any new orders.  In his absence, Colonel Philip Brown, of the 157th New York and First Brigade commander, assumed command of the division.  In total, the Federals put twenty-three miles behind them.

For the march of April 23rd, Captain Luis Emilio of the 54th Massachusetts recorded:

At 5.30 a.m., on the 23d, the Second Brigade led out for the day’s march. Now that hostilities had ceased, the force was dependent upon such supplies as could be purchased. A very large number of contrabands were with the column, straggling, and obstructing the rapid progress it was desirable to make. The day was cool and pleasant; the route through a fine country mainly, but wooded and low in places. Intelligence of President Lincoln’s assassination was received, – sad tidings which could hardly be credited. There was much bitter feeling indulged in by the soldiery for a time.  The division accomplished twenty-three miles that day, bivouacking at Stagget’s Mill.

The next day the column continued the march towards Georgetown, through what Emilio described as “a wooded region where no supplies could be obtained.”  He added, “As a substitute for rations two ears of corn were issued t each man.”  The force marched twenty-three miles, for the third day in a row.

Our last bivouac in the field was broken on the morning of April 25th, when in good weather through a timbered country we completed the march.  …  The troops reached town at 5 p.m. after making twenty-two miles.

Thus ended Potter’s 1865 Raid into South Carolina. Potter offered a summary and results in his official report:

The results of the expedition may be summed up in the capture of 1 battle-flag, 3 guns, and 65 prisoners, 100 horses and 150 mules, and the destruction of 32 locomotives, 250 cars, large portions of the railroad, and all the railroad buildings between Camden and Sumterville, 100 cotton gins and presses, 5,000 bales of cotton, and large quantities of government stores.  Five thousand negroes joined the column and were brought within our lines. Our entire loss was 10 killed, 72 wounded, and 1 missing.

Those figures relate a remarkable level of destruction wrought by a small force, and at the very end of the war.   Though one might say such was hardly worth the effort.  Potter’s Raid could not do much more to hasten the end of the war than what had already been done elsewhere. Yet, the real impact of Potter’s Raid was well beyond the military needs expressed in its mission objectives.

In his summary, Emilio indicted higher numbers of contrabands and livestock than Potter had reported:

Potter’s Raid occupied twenty-one days, during which the troops marched some three hundred miles. About three thousand negroes came into Georgetown with the division, while the whole number released was estimated at six thousand.  Our train was very large, for besides innumerable vehicles, five hundred horses and mules were secured, of which number the Fifty-fourth turned in one hundred and sixty.

Whether the figure was 6,000 or 5,000 who were emancipated as result of Potter’s Raid, that statistic was, I would submit, the most important of those tallied.  Instead of being inland to await the resolution of the war and receiving emancipation, thousands had taken advantage of the opportunity to “self-emancipate” in those closing days of the war. And those thousands arrived at the coast, adding to the crisis facing Federal commanders.  Would there be more forty acre plots?  Or would Federal leaders encourage “fair labor contracts“?

(Citations from OR, Series I, Volume 47, Part I, Serial 98, page 1031;  Emilio, Luis F.,  History of the Fifty-fourth Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, 1863-1865, Boston: Boston Book, 1894, page 307-9.)

Potter’s Raid, April 5, 1865: Marching out of Georgetown into South Carolina

On this morning (April 5) 150 years ago, at 8 a.m., Brigadier-General Edward E. Potter led a division of troops out of Georgetown, South Carolina.  As mentioned in the earlier post, this was a two brigade force with detachments of engineers, artillery and cavalry.  In the Second Brigade marched the 54th Massachusetts Infantry and Captain Luis Emilio.

Emilio later recalled, in his History of the Fifty-Fourth Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, the day’s march:

April 5, at 8 a.m., Potter’s force moved from Georgetown, the First Brigade in advance, over the centre or Sampit road for three miles, when the column took another to the right leading to Kingstree.  Marching through a heavily timbered country and encountering no hostiles, the division compassed nineteen miles, camping at nightfall near Johnston’s Swamp.

Thus we have a simple map with a single blue arrow to depict the first day of Potter’s Raid.

PotterRaidApr5

Potter would describe the terrain as “poor and sandy” for the first two days of the march.  If you searched out back-roads approximating the march today, 150 years removed from the event, one would find dirt roads bordered by pine trees.

PotterMarchApril5

Save the power-line/telephone pole, not far removed from the scenes past by Potter’s force.

(Citations from OR, Series I, Volume 47, Part I, Serial 98, page 1028; Emilio, Luis F.,  History of the Fifty-fourth Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, 1863-1865. Boston: Boston Book, 1894, page 291.)

 

Potter’s Raid, April 1-4, 1865: The last offensive in South Carolina gets organized

At the same time as the Confederate withdrawal from Richmond and Petersburg, a small expedition was organizing on the coast of South Carolina.  This effort, aimed at knocking out the few remaining rail lines in the state, would become the last Federal offensive in South Carolina and among the last of the war.

Recall that in mid-March, while idle at Fayetteville, North Carolina, Major-General William T. Sherman directed Major-General Quincy Gillmore to send a force of around 2,500 men against the railroad lines between Sumterville and Florence.  Specifically, Sherman wanted locomotives and rolling stock, which had escaped his columns during their passage through South Carolina, destroyed.  Gillmore was to scrape up, from his garrison forces, a force to march inland to wreck a section of the Wilmington & Manchester Railroad and chase down some trains.  Gillmore assigned this task to Brigadier-General Edward Potter. Much like Major-General George Stoneman’s Raid, Potter was to tie up one of the smaller loose ends.

Potter’s start point was Georgetown, South Carolina.  To catch up a bit, shortly after the fall of Charleston, Rear-Admiral John Dahlgren directed a naval force to seize Georgetown and close the last seaport in the state.  Though able to secure the port with just a naval landing force, Dahlgren lost his flagship, the USS Harvest Moon, to a torpedo in Winyah Bay.  This setback did not stop the Federals from establishing a base at Georgetown.

Potter’s force would consist of two brigades.  The First Brigade, under Colonel Philip P. Brown, included the 25th Ohio, 107th Ohio, 157th New York, and a detachment from the 56th New York.  Colonel Edward Hallowell commanded the Second Brigade with the 54th Massachusetts, 32nd USCT,  five companies of the 102nd USCT.  A section of Battery F, 3rd New York Artillery, under Lieutenant Edmund C. Clark, brought along two 12-pdr Napoleon guns, but with only 360 rounds of ammunition.  Detachments from the 1st New York Engineers and 4th Massachusetts Cavalry rounded out the force.  All tallied, Potter reported 2,700 men for his expedition.

PotterRaidBases

In addition to the main column, Potter had the Army transports Hooker and Planter move up the Santee River, supported by a Navy detachment under Commander Fabius Stanly, to Murray’s Ferry.  The water-born column brought ammunition and rations, but no additional troops.

Potter did not leave Charleston until April 1.  Even then, he took an additional four days to get the expedition fully organized and the supplies staged for movement to Murray’s Ferry.  Not until April 5 did Potter leave Georgetown. Sherman had wanted the expedition sent out by the last days of March.  But delays outfitting the ad-hoc formation determined much of the delay.

I’ll pick up the “line of march” following Potter at the appropriate sesquicentennial mark.  For the moment, consider some of the units involved with this expedition.  Many were veterans of the fighting on Morris Island – in particular the 54th Massachusetts.  Also consider the Planter moved in support.  Rather fitting that the last offensive operation in South Carolina would include troops and vessels which had served with prominence around Charleston.

(Source: OR, Series I, Volume 47, Part I, Serial 98, pages 1027-8.)

Sherman’s March, February 27, 1865: “I cannot dry up the river…” as floods continue to delay the march

Most days, as I draw the maps showing the route of march, I’ll have long blue lines running from point to point.  Today, you see none of that.  On February 27, 1865, all of Major-General William T. Sherman’s columns slowed and waited for the flood waters to fall.

SCMarch_Feb27

For the day, Major-General Oliver O. Howard’s orders to the Right Wing were:

Owing to the freshet, the orders of march for to-day are so modified to make the first stage, to get everything across the Lynch as soon as it can be done, and then begin the march on Cheraw, for which three days will be designated.

The Fifteenth Corps built footbridges and laid some pontoons at their two separate crossing points.  Troops were across the river, but wagons could not cross.  So resupply was only accomplished by hand. The trouble faced at each crossing point was the river was not a single channel due to the flood.  In addition to the normal river width, the Federals faced overflows, often up to 1,000 yards, on each side. At Tiller’s Bridge, the 1st Missouri Engineers struggled against the overflows, and further worked to ease the concentration of forces at the crossing site:

The bridge of the first section over [Lynches River] was in good order, but the overflow on the west side was 700 feet wide and from three to four and a half feet deep; on the east side it was a half or three quarters of a mile wide.  We laid the ponton and built trestles on the west side fording the east side. The second section at 6:30 took out four boats and corduroyed the road across the creek in rear of the Third Division; then took up the bridge, went to [Lynches River] and worked the train until 10 p.m., when they were ordered to cross, which owing to the darkness, too until 4 a.m.

A long day for the engineers. At Kelly’s Bridge, Major-General William Hazen reported the positive news that, “The river at this point has fallen about three inches….”  Imagine, Sherman’s entire campaign was down to a measure of vertical inches of floodwater.

Seventeenth Corps likewise worked on bridging, and waited for the waters to fall.  Major-General Frank Blair described the area around Young’s Bridge:

… we found the road [and] bottom lands adjoining overflowed for a considerable distance on each side, the water being from two to six feet in depth for a distance of about 200 yards on west and 1,500 yards on east side.

By afternoon of the 27th, the Corps had some bridging done. “About 2,500 men were engaged upon the work, and comleted 850 feet of bridging and 7,000 feet of corduroyed road on stringers before 5 p.m….”  At the fore of the advance, Brigadier-General Manning Force reported some progress:

… my command in camp about three-quarters of a mile from the bridge.  I propose, it meeting your approbation, to cross all my train to-night and let the troops remain on this side until morning. In the event of heavy rain and the water rising will move at once.

The Right Wing would at least have passage over the river for the next day.

The Twentieth Corps made a movement of just a few miles on the 27th.  The main effort was to consolidate the trains on the east side of Hanging Rock Creek. Major-General John Geary reported the ford used had a “smooth, rocky bottom.”  Geary further observed, “The soil continues treacherous and full of quicksands….”

Major-General H. Judson Kilpatrick’s cavalry remained at Lancaster for the day, continuing the missions of guarding the left flank of the advance while putting up appearances of an advance on Charlotte.  In a note to Sherman, Kilpatrick proposed remaining on the flanks until the Fourteenth Corps was clear of the river crossings.  The cavalryman wanted to move from there through the headwaters of Lynches River instead of following the infantry.  As for his command and the Confederates he faced:

The country here is good; forage plenty. My command has been resting for two days, and is in better condition than at any time during the march. We have captured a large number of mules and some horses, and have mounted all my dismounted men, save 300. I think Hampton’s and Wheeler’s forces combined amount to about 6,000 fighting men. Notwithstanding this superiority of numbers, I shall attack if a favorable opportunity offers. The road upon which I shall march is the best in the country. I will keep you advised daily as to my operations and position.

Kilpatrick always seemed ready for a fight – one way or the other.  Sherman approved Kilpatrick’s plan of movement, though he reiterated the importance of maintaining communication.

It was at Rocky Mount Ferry where the anxious hours continued to burn away.  Major-General Jefferson C. Davis still had the Fourteenth Corps astride the Catawba River. Davis shook things up a bit to cure what he felt was an inefficiency with the pontoons.  Davis was fed up with the work of the engineers to that point.  Brigadier-General George Buell, Second Brigade, First Division, assumed overall control of the bridge-laying operations.  With the change made, Davis reported to Major-General Henry Slocum, adjusting his itinerary, hoping to cross that afternoon.  Davis added:

This is the best that can possibly be hoped for under the circumstances.  I am doing everything that man can do, but I cannot dry up the river that separates my command; it has fallen about eighteen inches and is still falling.  I do not know what the emergency is in the front, but presume it must be very great, judging by the general’s dispatches, and am working accordingly.

Slocum retraced the route back to the crossing that day to personally ensure no more time was lost.

Lieutenant-Colonel Joseph Moore, commanding the pontoons, then following Buell’s instructions, laid a 680 foot long bridge about a half mile downstream from the original point.  Moore observed, “Here the current was not so rapid, and by 11 p.m. we completed the bridge….”  The first troops crossed over at midnight.  However, there was some difference of opinion which lingered after the war – was it Buell, persistence of Moore, or falling waters that enabled the crossing?  Perhaps all of the above.

While the bridging operations were going on, a foraging party met Confederate cavalry near Rocky Mount Creek.  The 104th Illinois had lost nine men from a foraging detail the day before, and on the 27th, a better armed party met an equally reinforced Confederate cavalry force.  The skirmish served to underscore the vulnerability of the Fourteenth Corps, as it struggled to catch up with the rest of the column.

The extended dispositions, with several columns outside range of mutual support due to the flood waters, did not go unnoticed on the Confederate side.  Major-General Matthew C. Butler reported to Lieutenant-General William Hardee, then in Cheraw with the forces withdrawn from Charleston, about an opportunity he noticed to his front.  “I think that if our troops were concentrated now and thrown rapidly upon the Fifteenth Corps very serious damage may be inflicted.”  Indeed, the opportunity appeared clear on any map one might draw.  The problem was that Hardee’s force was even less mobile than the Federals.  If the flooded rivers had isolated some of the Federal commands, it had likewise pinned the Confederate forces in place.  Butler went on to add his observations of Sherman’s supplies:

Prisoners taken on the 23d report Sherman’s army to have only five days’ rations, and were moving toward Wilmington or Georgetown. He has been foraging very extensively along his line of march, no house within reach of his main column has been passed by, and all supplies have been taken from the inhabitants by foraging parties of infantry mounted on captured horses.

As designed, Sherman’s command was living off the land as it moved.  But at some point, just as Butler and other Confederate commanders speculated, Sherman had to turn towards the sea for military supplies.  Though Sherman did not know at the time, Federal efforts along the South Carolina coast anticipated a move to a port facility.  Somewhat contrary to orders sent from Lieutenant-General Ulysses S. Grant, Major-General Quincy Gillmore pushed out from Charleston to the Santee River railroad bridge.  And Rear-Admiral John Dahlgren occupied Georgetown, South Carolina on February 25th.   While none of this changed Sherman’s agenda, it did leave question marks in the minds of many Confederate leaders.

(Citations from OR, Series I, Volume 47, Part I, Serial 98, pages 380, 427, and 689; Part II, Serial 99, pages 597, 598, 599, 600, 603, and 1288; William A. Neal, An illustrated History of the Missouri Engineer and the 25th Infantry Regiments, Chicago: Donohue & Henneberry, 1889, page 170.)

Wilmington was not the last port open in the Confederacy: Charleston remained a blockade-runner haven until mid-February

I don’t want to be the contrarian, but that’s the role called for here.  Over the last few days, no doubt you have read a few articles which spotted the importance of the Second Battle of Fort Fisher along the lines of “Federal victory closed the last Confederate port.”  As if on January 15, 1865, suddenly a perfect seal isolated the Confederacy from the rest of the world. But, I am here to say that is not on whole a true statement.

In full perspective, Wilmington was indeed was among the last ports open to the Confederacy.  The nature of Cape Fear and its inlets made blockading duty very difficult.  That, and other factors (such as the capture of Morris Island), made Wilmington the most important Confederate port from the middle of the war on.  But it was not the only Confederate port at any time in the war.  Nor was it the last port open to blockade runners.

Andy Hall will be quick to remind us that Galveston was still open for business right up to the end of the war.  But, of course, Texas was a long way off from the Eastern Theater where the war’s last critical phases were playing out in January 1865.  And there were several minor ports in Florida open to small levels of commerce in January 1865.  Likewise, those were so far separated from Virginia and the Carolinas as to make their use supplying the Confederate war effort impractical.

But in South Carolina at least two ports of call remained options for blockade-runners willing to attempt passage – Georgetown and Charleston.  One blockade-runner, the Caroline, made passage in and out of Georgetown in January 1865.  But as that port lacked railroad connections, Georgetown was not to be a popular port of entry.  But Charleston, which had seen a resurgence of blockade-running activity through the summer and fall of 1864, still required constant Federal vigilance.  In Lifeline of the Confederacy, Stephen R. Wise lists the following blockade-runner activities (arrivals and departures) at Charleston for January and February 1865:

  • January 2 – Syren from Charleston to Nassau
  • January 2 – Fox from Charleston to Nassau
  • January ? – Little Hattie from Nassau to Charleston
  • January ? – Chicora from Charleston to Nassau
  • January 18 – Fox from Nassau to Charleston
  • January ? – Coquette from Nassau to Charleston
  • January 23 – Syren from Nassau to Charleston
  • January 26 – Syren from Charleston to Nassau
  • January 24 – G.T. Watson from Nassau to Charleston
  • February 2 – Fox from Charleston to Nassau
  • February ? – Coquette from Charleston to Nassau
  • February 4 – Druid from Charleston to Nassau
  • February 7 – Little Hattie from Charleston to Nassau
  • February 13 – Chicora from Charleston to Nassau
  • February 16 – Chicora from Nassau to Charleston
  • February 16 – Syren from Nassau to Charleston
  • February 18 – G.T. Watson from Charleston to Nassau

I chose to list only the successful runs here.  The runner Celt, for instance, was destroyed while trying to make her way out of harbor before the surrender of Charleston.  Sharp readers will also notice this list is far from complete.  We are missing at least one passage in for the blockade-runner Chicora (formerly the Let Her Be… oh, they should have kept that name).   So at least seventeen blockade runner transits (in and out) through Charleston from January 2 through February 18.

But this is not to say Charleston was an easy port of call for the runners.  With the fall of Fort Fisher, the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron received reinforcements.  So the blockade was a bit tighter in some respects.  But working against the blockade was the foul weather experienced through those months.  Even with that, blockade running was still a profession for those who would take on the high risk for hope of large reward.

In the middle weeks of January 1865, classifieds in the Charleston Courier advertized vessels for sale:

Blockade_Schooner_Emma

Blockade_Steamer_Scout

If you were an entrepreneur with the ability in January 1865, would you consider these investments?

January 7, 1865 -“I do not regard Charleston… of any military importance.”: No offensive against Charleston planned

During the first weeks of January 1865, Major-General William T. Sherman completed preparations for a campaign into South Carolina.  A question lingered in regard to objectives.  Should Sherman direct his columns against Charleston?

Sherman had already voiced his opinion to Lieutenant-General Ulysses S. Grant on the matter.  And on January 7, 1865, Grant indicated his concurrence in a message to Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, who was in route to visit Sherman in Savannah:

Please say to General Sherman I do not regard the capture of Charleston as of any military importance.  He can pass it by, unless in doing so he leaves a force in his rear which it will be dangerous to have there.  It will be left entirely to his own discretion whether Charleston should be taken now.

On the same date, Sherman passed a message to Rear-Admiral John Dahlgren, commanding the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron (indicating recent correspondence with Rear-Admiral David D. Porter, commanding the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron):

The letter you send me is from Admiral Porter, at Beaufort, N. C. I am not certain that there is a vessel in Port Royal from Admiral Porter or I would write him. If there be one to return to him I beg you to send this, with a request that I be advised as early as possible as to the condition of the railroad from Beaufort, N. C., back to New Berne, and so on toward Goldsborough; also all maps and information of the country above New Berne; how many cars and locomotives are available to us on that road; whether there is good navigation from Beaufort, N. C., via Pamlico Sound, up Neuse River, &c. I want Admiral Porter to know that I expect to be ready to move about the 15th; that I have one head of column across Savannah River at this point; will soon have another at Port Royal Ferry, and expect to make another crossing at Sister’s Ferry. I still adhere to my plan submitted to General Grant, and only await provisions and forage. The more I think of the affair at Wilmington the more I feel ashamed of the army there; but Butler is at fault, and he alone. Admiral Porter fulfilled his share to admiration. I think the admiral will feel more confidence in my troops, as he saw us carry points on the Mississippi where he had silenced the fire. All will turn out for the best yet.

Clearly Sherman was already looking far beyond South Carolina to formulate his options for movement into North Carolina.  Likewise, the dependencies to operations at Wilmington appeared in the message.  Recent failures were all on Butler – so Sherman said, to deflect any criticism from Porter, Dahlgren’s peer and Sherman’s friend.

But the meat of this message was in Sherman’s concept of operations.  He would first gain three footholds in South Carolina – Hardeeville, Port Royal Ferry, and Sister’s Ferry.  As he had already related to Dahlgren, in earlier meetings, is the desire to strike across the state to cut the railroads.

Dahlgren, in turn, passed Sherman’s message to Secretary of the Navy Gideon Wells (also on January 7), with his assessment of the planned operations:

I presume the first point where the two wings from Savannah and Port Royal Ferry will meet will be at Branchville, and the march thence to Florence and so on, following the railroad.

I have no expectations that an attack on Charleston is embraced in this plan, as General Sherman has not suggested any arrangements for a cooperation with the Navy.

Dahlgren went on to point out the Confederates would likely concentrate forces in Charleston to defend the city.  And, as Grant mentioned in his message to Stanton, the Confederates might operate that force against Sherman’s “flanks and rear as the opportunity may offer.”  Dahlgren went on to point out that terrain would impact Sherman’s options:

It will always be convenient for General Sherman to attack Charleston until he passes the Santee; after that the swampy land would interfere.

Charleston being left behind, there remains but a single occasion when the army may communicate with the squadron, that is by way of the Santee or Georgetown; and I shall hardly look for this except as an incident from the extension of the foragers on the right wing, as it would be very little further to communicate with the North Atlantic Squadron at Wilmington and convenient to forward march of the army.

File away the reference here to Georgetown and the Santee.  What Dahlgren suggested as a contingency plan would indeed play out as an operation, which would cost the admiral a ship, as events unfolded later in the winter.

Closing, Dahlgren lamented that the prize for which he had arrived in theater to obtain was still seeming to elude his grasp:

It is with great regret that the conclusion is forced on me that the work marked out here will not include Charleston.

We know, with hindsight, that Charleston would fall and Dahlgren would be there to play a part in that act.  But it would not be taken by the firestorm assault predicted by some.  Instead the city would fall almost as a domino in a chain.  But for the day on January 7, correspondence from Virginia to Georgia and back to Washington centered on the desire to by-pass Charleston.

(Citations from OR, Series I, Volume 47, Part II, Serial 99, pages 21-22; ORN, Series I, Volume 16, pages 161-2.)

Distribution of Vessels, South Atlantic Blockading Squadron, January 1, 1865

During the war the commanders of the Navy’s operating squadrons provided periodic reports on the assignments of vessels in their respective commands.  Rear-Admiral John Dahlgren did so twice a month (with some variance, but more or less on the 1st and 15th of each month).  As was the practice, he submitted a report on January 1, 1865.  The report was the first since the fall of Savannah.  So there were adjustments due to the changing situation and mission.  Obviously, with no need to blockade Savannah and no threat from rams from that port, Dahlgren could reallocate his forces.  Considering the operations that followed in the first months of 1865, it’s worth a look at the Navy’s dispositions on the first day of the year.

The first grouping to look at is the area from the South Carolina border to Charleston:

NavalStationsJan1_SC1

As of January 1, no vessel patrolled Murrell’s Inlet.  The furthest north assignment was the steamer USS Canadaigua covering Winyah Bay, approaches to Georgetown, and Cape Romain.  The sailing vessels USS George Mangham and USS James S. Chambers covered Bull’s Bay.  Of course, north of the state line was the jurisdiction of the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron.  There was a significant naval force operating off Cape Fear against the Confederate defenses there.  But that falls outside the scope of my post.

Laying outside the bar of Charleston, the blockade consisted of the steamers USS James Adger, USS Wamsutta, USS Nipsic, USS Mary Sanford, USS South Carolina, USS Flambeau, USS Memphis, and USS Potomska.  The tugs USS Laburnum, USS Azalea, and USS Sweet Brier also operated outside the bar.  These vessels formed the primary force to intercept blockade runners inbound to Charleston.

Inside the bar, with the mission to block either runners or rams from exiting the harbor, was the strongest elements of the squadron.  This force included seven monitors – USS Patapsco, USS Montauk, USS Nahant, USS Passaic, USS Nantucket, USS Lehigh, and USS Catskill (under repairs).   The tugs USS Gladiolus, USS Catalpa, USS Hydrangea, USS Jonquil, USS Geranium, and USS Oleander supported the monitors and patrolled the ship channels.  Other vessels inside the bar off Charleston were the sailing vessels USS John Adams, USS Orvetta, USS Sarah Bruen, and USS Sea Foam.  The tender USS Home was also in the waters off Morris Island.

Also off Morris Island, but operating in support of the Army, were the gunboats USS Wissahickon and USS Commodore McDonough, along with the mortar schooners (abbreviated M.S. for my map) USS T.A. Ward, USS Dan Smith, and USS C.P. Williams.:

NavalStationsJan1_SC2

South of Charleston, several vessels covered the waterways of South Carolina.  The sailing ship USS St. Louis covered the North Edisto.  The gunboat USS Stettin and schooner USS Norfolk Packet covered St. Helena Sound.

At Port Royal were the steamers USS Philadelphia and USS Pawnee; the tugs USS Arethusa, USS Carnation, USS Larkspur, and USS O.M. Pettit; and the sailing vessel USS Houghton.  In addition the steamers USS Mingoe and USS Pontiac, along with tugs USS Daffodil and USS Dandelion, were operating up the Broad River in direct support of Army operations there.  Other vessels listed at Port Royal were tenders and hulks, which included the old ship of the line USS New Hampshire and the old blockade runner USS Chatham.

Also at Port Royal, but not available due to servicing and repairs (and thus not tallied on my maps), were the monitor USS Sangamon; steamers USS Cimarron, USS Ottawa, and USS Winona; tugs USS Acacia, USS Amaranthus, USS Iris, USS Camelia, and USS Clover;  and the sailing ships USS Braziliera and USS George W. Rogers.

Covering the coast of Georgia, the squadron was now able to spread itself thin:

NavalStationsJan1_GA

Posted to the Savannah River was the steamer USS Sonoma and mortar schooner USS Racer.   The mortar schooner USS John Griffin was posted to Wassaw Sound.  The steamer USS Flag and mortar schooner USS Para policed the waters of Ossabow Sound.  The bark USS Fernandina covered St. Catherine’s Sound.  The steamer USS Lodona‘s assignment was Sapelo Sound.  The USS Saratoga was in Doboy Sound.   The bark USS Ethan Allen plyed the waters off St. Simon’s Island.  And the USS Dai Ching covered St. Andrew’s Sound.  The latter vessel, one of Dahlgren’s light draft steamers, was due to move north and cover South Carolina waters.

The brig USS Perry provided support to Army posts at Fernandina, Florida.  further south in Florida (and off my map), the steamers USS Norwich and USS E.B. Hale operated in the St. Johns River.

Add to these forces the various armed transports operated by the Army, for whom there is scant accounting in the official records.  All considered, a formidable force ranging from ironclads to armed tugs confronted the Confederate forces along the southern Atlantic coastline.

NOTE: Several of the sailing vessels had been rated as mortar schooners earlier in the war.  In some cases, with the mortars removed, those vessels served as blockaders.  I’ve tallied those former mortar schooners as sailing blockaders for this post.  So if you sense there is some mis-match of the ratings, keep that in mind.

(The Distribution of vessels of the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron, January 1, 1865, is recorded in ORN, Series I, Volume 16, pages 154-5.)