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.)

“A large propeller ran in and a side-wheel steamer ran out”: Inefficiencies of the Charleston blockade, October 1864

Rear-Admiral John Dahlgren urged his subordinates to maintain their vigilance on the blockade outside Charleston in the fall of 1864.  With one port after another closed by Federal advances, now Charleston and Wilmington, North Carolina remained on the eastern coast as major ports serving blockade runners.  To a hard pressed Confederacy, every blockade runner arrival or departure represented a boost of energy to the war machine – with valuable supplies coming in or cargo sold on European markets.

But the inefficiencies lamented in September continued into October.  In the morning of October 6, 1864, Commander T.H. Patterson of the USS Wamsutta reported finding a blockade runner, but not in the manner desired:

At daylight this morning, while laying at anchor on my station in 2½ fathoms water, the inner buoy on Rattlesnake Shoal bearing S. ½ W., distant about half a mile, I discovered a strange steamer sunk near the wrecks of the Georgiana and Mary Bowers.  She has two masts, two smokestacks, and side wheels.

The runner was the steamer Constance, which was making a run from Halifax into Charleston.  On the run in, she’d hit the wrecks.  Although the captain tried to back off, damage was too severe to save the ship.  The Constance sank about 250 yards from the Georgiana.  Patterson felt salvage crews might save the cargo, but the ship was already breaking up (later to be found by E. Lee Spence in the 20th century).

But the Constance was not the only runner to transit the waters that evening.  On October 8, Captain Joseph Green, commanding the blockade of Charleston, reported with embarrassment:

Night before last [night of October 6] we had two alarms of attempts to run the blockade. On the first a steamer outward bound was turned back by the inside blockade. On the second, from the best information I have at present obtained, a large propeller ran in and a side-wheel steamer ran out. Neither were seen by the outside blockading vessels….

Thus in the span of some thirty hours, four runners tested the blockade.  That is assuming the one turned back at the first alarm was not the same clearing on the second.  Regardless, that’s four chances.  One turned back.  One wrecked.  And two eluded the Federals.  The wreck, of course, was the Constance.  I suspect the blockader making port on the night of October 6-7 was the General Whiting, but can only offer circumstantial evidence.  The name of the runner clearing port that night eludes my identification, but was likely one of those making regular runs to Nassau.

Green had already re-assigned blockade stations in reaction to the failures.  He related those on October 7, and offered Dahlgren a detailed description:

I think the outside blockading vessels are now stationed to the best advantage, and herewith send you the position of each vessel:

Flambeau, south of Swash Channel about 1½ miles, in latitude 32° 43′ N., longitude 79° 48′ 25″ W.

Azalea, short distance north of North Channel, in about latitude 32° 44′ 20″ N., longitude 79° 48′ 50″ W.

Laburnum, 1½ miles or less (according to the darkness of the night) off Breach Inlet, in about latitude 32° 45′ N., longitude 79° 48′ 10″ W.

Pontiac, 1½ miles or less (according to the darkness of the night) southeast of Breach Inlet, in about latitude 32° 45′  35″ N., longitude 79° 47′ 12″ W.

Wamsutta, in about latitude 32° 46′ N., longitude 79° 46′ 10″ W.

Nipsic: Her former cruising ground was from west end of Rattlesnake Shoal to the southward and westward until Housatonic bore S. nearly 1 mile. Last night she was anchored in about latitude 32° 44′ N. 15″ N., longitude 79° 46′ 15″ W. To-night she will move nearer to Rattlesnake Shoal.

Pawnee, since she has been disabled, has remained at anchor near the Housatonic.

Mingoe keeps underway, and has cruised from a little to the northward of the Housatonic to the Flambeau, and thence skirting the shoal to the southward one-half mile and back.

James Adger keeps underway, and has cruised from the Housatonic toward the center of Rattlesnake Shoal and back, bringing the Housatonic to bear N.E. by N.

I inclose a rough tracing showing the position of vessels.

Well, unfortunately, the note provided in the Official Records indicates that tracing was not found at the time of compilation.  So, let me give you my “rough estimate” of what was on the “rough tracing.”

Blockade_Oct_7_64

Green referenced the wreck of the USS Housatonic in relations to these dispositions, as on the debris remained visible on the otherwise featureless surface.  You see it there at the lower right edge of the map.  I’ve also added the location of the monitors, as per Dahlgren’s orders in September.  Not depicted are the inner screen of tugs and picket boats.

This looks, on paper, as a very complete seal of the harbor approaches. One wonders how any runner c0uld even get within sight of Fort Sumter, much less past it into harbor.  Yet somehow those vessels eluded the Federals – coming and going.  Granted not in great numbers as at Wilmington.  No more than ten arrivals/departures are recorded for Charleston in October 1864.  But every load of cargo was fuel to keep the war machine running.

(Citations from ORN, Series I, Volume 16, pages 8-10.)

 

“I was forced to surrender”: Loss of a picket boat from the USS Nipsic

During the middle and late war years, the waters in front of Fort Sumter were the equivalent of a no-man’s-land, though without the firm ground for a picket to place a foot.  By day, monitors stood in the channel occasionally trading shots with the Confederate batteries.  At night, picket boats from both sides patrolled, scouted, and, not too infrequently, sparred.

BoatsSumter

One such engagement occurred 150 years ago last night (February 26-27) in 1864.  That evening, Lieutenant-Commander John Davis, of the USS Montauk, ordered out boats from the USS Nipsic and USS Flag as pickets:

The boats from the Nipsic and Flag were to patrol across the channel in advance of [the Montauk], not more than two or three ship’s lengths above, and to keep within sight; the flood tide was running, water smooth, atmosphere hazy.

Acting Master’s Mate William H. Kitching commanded the boat from the Nipsic.  These boats were part of a screen, set most every night unless prevented by heavy weather, to prevent any Confederate boats from reaching the monitors. The loss of the USS Housatonic just over a week earlier raised the importance of these pickets.

A boat from the USS Supply, led by Lieutenant Gilbert C. Wiltse, also set out on a reconnaissance near Fort Sumter.  So Wiltse’s boat moved far in advance of the picket boats.  Approaching to within 300 yards of Fort Sumter, Wiltse noticed a large boat against the northeast face.  Wiltse managed to avoid the Confederate boat by altering his course.  Then about a half hour later, he saw the boat again.  This time the Confederates were bearing down on one of the picket boats.  Wiltse heard “Patapsco, this is the Nipsic’s boat” and shortly after some musketry.  The Confederate boat had intercepted Kitching’s boat.

Submitted months later, Kitching reported:

I have the honor to report to you the capture of the USS Nipsic’s first cutter, with 5 men in my charge, while on picket duty in Charleston Harbor, on the night of February 26, 1864.  I left the Nipsic between the hours of 5 and 6 p.m., and was towed up to the advanced monitor by tugboat, and at 7 p.m. shoved off from the monitor, with instructions to proceed up the channel in the direction of Forts Sumter and Moultrie.  The night was thick and hazy and the tide was on the flood, running strong.  I pulled leisurely up until I had got abreast of Fort Sumter, when I changed the direction of the boat and pulled toward the fleet.  I had got about 150 yards from Fort Sumter when I caught sight of a dark object directly ahead, and almost immediately after was hailed, “Boat ahoy!” Under the supposition that the hail proceeded from one of our picket boats, I gave them in answer, “Nipsic’s first cutter,” as I did not wish the enemy to know the countersign.  They hailed me again;  I gave them the countersign “Patapsco.” they hailed the third time, and beginning to have suspicions that all was not right, I gave in return, “Catskill.”  My object in doing this was that the rebels should not know the true countersign.  I had scarcely returned the hail when I received a volley of musket balls, which passed over our heads, doing us no damage.  I immediately ordered my men to take to their oars and pull strong, in the hope of escaping, for I could see that the enemy’s boat was superior to my own.  I soon saw it was useless, so ordered my men to trail oars and give them a volley in return.  I kept it up, but as no assistance arrived, I was forced to surrender, which I did, after throwing the arms overboard.  None of my men was wounded; myself but slightly.  As near as I could find out, there were 19 men in the enemy’s boat.  We were taken on board their flagship, the Charleston, where we spent the night; the next morning were sent up to the city and placed under confinement. On the 17th of May I was sent to Macon, Ga., and my men to Andersonville.  That is the last I saw of them.  I have since learned they are dead.

There was somewhat a discrepancy in regards to Kitching’s orders.  According to Davis, the boat had drifted off it’s station and was therefore exposed and captured.  But Kitching, perhaps with the benefit of eight months to reflect, said he was to move up the channel towards Fort Sumter.

Kitching listed the names of his landsmen:

George P. Johnson, Martin L. Atkinson, Uriah B. Marshall, William O’Brien, and Lyman Holbrook.

As part of an effort to showcase information about the Andersonville prisoners, Fold3 has pages for George P. Johnson and  Uriah B. Marshall.

(Citations from ORN, Series I, Volume 15, pages 341-4.)

“The schooner and cargo… were entirely consumed”: New Year’s Day at Murrell’s Inlet

Following the “blundering affair” on December 5, 1863 at Murell’s Inlet, Rear-Admiral John Dahlgren ordered an expedition to destroy any blockade runners anchored there and to drive off any Confederates operating in the vicinity.  Captain Joseph F. Green left Charleston, South Carolina on December 29 in command of a detachment of warships that included the USS Mary Sanford, USS Nipsic, USS Daffodil, and USS Ethan Allen.  The Nipsic had several boats in tow, for use by the landing party. The schooner USS George Mangham joined the force when the detachment arrived off Murrell’s Inlet.

MurrellInlet

While Green’s force prepared to carry out the mission, early on  January 30 a storm blew in.  With his plans disrupted, Green ordered the Ethan Allen to return to Rattlesnake Shoal, off Charleston.  And the George Mangham returned to a blockade station off Murrell’s Inlet.  The remainder of the ships rode out the storm while laying off Georgetown.

Despite the storm, a boat with thirteen escaped slaves made it out to the George Mangham on December 30.  According to Acting Master John Collins, “They imparted considerable information respecting this locality and the salt works now in progress, which, if correct, must prove of value.”  More importantly, they related details of the schooner, “within the inlet loaded with a cargo of turpentine, awaiting an opportunity to evade the blockade and proceed to Nassau.”  Protecting these assets were four companies of cavalry which patrolled the beaches.  This information guided Green’s next move.

Not until late on December 31 did the storm clear sufficiently to allow operations to resume.   Green dispatched Commander James H. Spotts in the Nipsic to the inlet.  Spotts did not have sufficient force to carry out the whole of Dahlgren’s orders.  But he was able to at least achieve some of the desired results when he arrived on January 1, 1864:

I discovered the schooner designated by [Green] laying inside the inlet and opened fire upon her, but did not succeed in setting her on fire in consequence of a sand spit which concealed her hull.  I therefore fitted out an expedition under command of Acting Master Churchill, executive officer of this ship, consisting of two launches with howitzers and 40 men, and two cutters with 30 marines.  Landed one howitzer on the spit in charge of Acting Ensign Taylor, of the [USS] South Carolina, and marines under command of Lieutenant Fagan, of the marines; opened fire on the schooner at 300 yards with howitzer, and the fifth shell set her on fire.

The schooner and cargo, which consisted of turpentine, were entirely consumed.

At that point, Spotts withdrew his force and left the station.   The Nipsic returned to Charleston the next day.

So from Dahlgren’s original orders for this “corrective action” only one of the three explicit objectives was achieved – the destruction of the schooner.  Again, I’m drawn to compare this operation with that planned and executed almost concurrently from the Confederate side.  The Legareville Christmas Day ambush was foiled, in my view, a subordinate commander (Colonel P.R. Page) altered the original plan.  The Murrell’s Inlet raid, on the other hand, suffered because of Mother Nature sent a storm to kick the boats about.

Either way, the Confederacy was less one blockade runner and a cargo of turpentine at the end of the first day of 1864.

(Citations from ORN, Series I, Volume 15, pages 155-8.)

Dahlgren asks for better blockaders – “More vessels of the Nipsic class”

On this day (December 30) in 1863, Rear-Admiral Dahlgren sent a request to the Secretary of the Navy, with the objective to improve the blockade against southern ports:

Sir: A few more vessels of the Nipsic class would give great efficiency to the blockade here, in exchange for some other vessels which could be of service elsewhere.

Short and to the point.  Dahlgren liked the USS Nipsic.  But why?

At the start of the Civil War, the US Navy faced an awkward situation.  While in possession of some advanced steam frigates and sloops, these were designed to operate on the high seas.  These ships were in some respects the logical steam-powered descendants of the original “six frigates” navy.  But the Civil War required for ships able to operate in the shallow waterways along the coast, yet were fast and handy in the sea-lanes.  The quick response was the “90-day gunboats,” or officially the Unadilla-class.  And these gunboats served well.  By the time of Dahlgren’s inquiry, seven of those were in service with the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron:

  • USS Chippewa at Port Royal, South Carolina.
  • USS Huron patrolling Doby Sound, Georgia.
  • USS Marblehead working the Stono River, South Carolina.
  • USS Ottawa stationed at the mouth of St. John’s River, Florida.
  • USS Seneca at Port Royal, but soon departing for Georgetown, South Carolina.
  • USS Unadilla off Tybee Island, Georgia.
  • USS Wissahickson stationed in Wassaw Sound, Georgia.

These assignments reflect the type’s ability.  Instead of standing off Charleston harbor, these gunboats covered the shallower inlets along the coast (and as I’ve mentioned in other posts, these were not quiet assignments).

But the success of the Unadilla-class was not complete.  These vessels were a compromise in order to meet the rushed requirement.  By mid-war several shortcomings diminished the 90-gunboats’ value.  The landlubber version – the ships were too slow and rolled too much in moderate seas to handle the main guns.  Salty sea version?  I direct you to Volume one of Donald L. Canney’s The Old Steam Navy.  The Unadilla-class could make 9 knots, maybe 10, in good trim.  But by 1863, custom designed blockade runners could best that by two or three knots.

In response came the more refined, larger Kansas-class gunboats, of which the USS Nipsic was a member.  For comparison the Unadilla herself was 156 feet long and displaced 691 tons.  The Nipsic, on the other hand, was 180 feet long and displaced 836 tons.  The added length, along with about two feet of beam, ensured the Nipsic did not draw much more water.

And that added space was used for boilers and more efficient machinery.  The Unadilla’s steam engine was rated at 400 horsepower, while the Nipsic’s was at 670 horsepower.  That of course translated into greater speed.  The Nipsic reached 12 knots on trials and in service.

The other advantage to the longer, wider hull was the handling of weapons.  Recall the Marblehead fought on Christmas Day 1863 with one XI-inch Dahlgren, one 20-pdr Parrott, and a couple of 24-pounder boat howitzers.  By contrast, the Nipsic mounted two IX-inch Dahlgrens, one 6.4-inch Parrott, a 30-pdr Parrott rifle, and four boat howitzers.  The 30-pdr rifle sat on a forward pivot position on the foredeck.  As seen in the photo below, the big Parrott was on another pivot just forward of the main-mast.

The Dahlgren IX-inch were on the broadside.  The howitzers were mounted aft.

With more deck space, the handling of the guns was at least a little better than the Unadilla.

Earlier, when the Nipsic arrived at Charleston in November, Dahlgren expressed his positive assessment of the vessel, though with a couple of concerns:

After seeing her in motion, hearing the reports of her performance, and making an examination, I consider her class a valuable addition to the Navy.  She is very fast under steam (11 knots) and steers well.  Her armament is also powerful, the only defect being the contiguity of the mainmast and the two IX-inch guns, which might be avoided.

I would also advise a close adherence to the 10-foot draft, as a matter of great convenience in many of the inlets along the coast. The Nipsic draws 11
512 feet, though with two-thirds amount of coal will come to 10 feet.  The vessel pleased me much.

And, like any vessel, once the “new” wore off there were more decided criticisms.  In April 1864, Lieutenant-Commander A.W. Johnson commanded the Nipsic and filed this observation:

I have to report that on the 4th instant, off Cape Romain Shoals, the Nipsic encountered a heavy gale from the E.S.E. and S.E., this being the first trial of rough weather she has experienced.  Her behavior therein confirmed the opinion that her present armament should be reduced in weight…. The vessel labored so heavily that I was compelled to keep her up to the sea, as the wind changed its direction, which, fortunately, a sufficiency of sea room enabled me to do….  I do not regard her altogether a safe vessel in heavy weather with the battery now on board.

All that said, the Nipsic was still very useful in its wartime career, spent almost entirely in the South Atlantic squadron.  As Dahlgren felt, the Navy could have used several more vessels of the type.

But the Nipsic was almost a “one of a kind.”  Only two other vessels of the Kansas-class received the same machinery and boilers as the Nipsic.  And those two, the USS Shawmut and USS Nyack, were not commissioned until late in 1864.  The remainder of the class received machinery different machinery (in some cases unconventional and unique machinery) or boilers arrangements.  Most reached trial speeds of over 11 knots.  But only the three “as designed” ships offered the reliability and economy desired.

One more note on the Nipsic – this going into the post-war era.  After many years of service, the gunboat underwent “great repair” in 1873.  This was a late 19-th century way of getting around limited naval shipbuilding funds.  In 1879, the “repairs” were complete resulting in a ship 185 feet long displacing 1,375 tons.  It was that USS Nipsic which confronted German gunboats (and an observing British corvette HMS Calliope) in Apia harbor, in the Samoas in March 1889.  When a cyclone struck the harbor on March 15, the “repaired” Nipsic suffered worse than her predecessor.

That’s the Nipsic in the center.  A black-eye for U.S. interests to say the least. But an embarrassment which figured prominently in the public call for modernization of the US Navy.

(Citations from ORN, Series I, Volume 15, pages 101, 215, and 403.)

“I desire…to administer some corrective”: Dahlgren launches retalitory raid to Murrell’s Inlet

On this day (December 23) in 1863, Rear-Admiral John Dahlgren gave orders to Captain Joseph F. Green of the USS Canandaigua to lead an expedition back to Murrell’s Inlet.

I desire to send a suitable force for operation at Murrell’s Inlet under your command.

The Ward and Perry have each lost a boat’s crew there, owning somewhat to the want of proper plan on the part of the commanding officers, as well as to carelessness or inexperience of their subordinates.

I desire, then, to administer some corrective to the small parties of rebels who infest that vicinity, and shall detail for that purpose the steamers Nipsic, Sanford, Geranium, and Daffodil, also the sailing bark Allen and the schooner Mangham, 100 marines for landing, and four howitzers, two for the boats, two on field carriages, with such boats as may be needed.

Commander Ammen and Acting Master C.B. Dahlgren will act as aids.

It is desirable that nothing shall be done to attract the attention of the rebels previously to striking the blow, as it is to derive its efficacy from being sudden as well as sharply given.

Nothing must be seen, therefore, of your vessels from the land until the moment for action has come.

It will be a matter for decision at the time whether the attack shall be made early at night or only a little before dawn.

You are to capture as many of the cavalry, said to be there, and other armed rebels as can be reached, destroy the schooner inside the sand spit and such apparatus for making salt or oil as may be accessible.

Take possession of whatever arms and ammunition may be within reach, and afford every facility to the colored people for the enjoyment of the privileges held out by law and the proclamation of the President.

Give shelter to the inhabitants who may entertain Union sentiments.

Allow no injury to be done to defenseless women and children nor to their habitations and necessaries of life.

Let the men who land be kept together: straggling is forbidden. As there is reported to be 7 feet inside at low water, the two small steamers can easily enter with the boats, while the larger vessels will cover with their heavy guns.

I do not contemplate any permanent lodgement at the place, but it may be advisable to have axes, picks, and spades in the boats, and if there is a prospect for detention let the men throw up a slight breastwork of sand across the spit, and post a field piece behind it.  Pits for riflemen can also be made.

Let the boats have some common signal rockets to fire toward the cavalry and frighten their horses.

The horsemen are said to harbor in a house on the mainland near the water, and it may be that by entering rapidly at night and surrounding the house many of them will be secured.

The vessels are to be brought in at night whether you find it preferable to operate by day or night.

Let the howitzers use grape or canister mostly.

When you have accomplished as much of the purposes of the expedition as can be attained without undue risk, you will return to the vessels, unless it is advisable to retain temporarily an intrenched post on the sand spit.

I hope the vessels will be able to leave here on Thursday.

The commanders of the vessels, etc., who are to be under your command will be directed to report, and you will proceed when ready without further orders.

Dahlgren was sending an expedition north to Murrell’s Inlet almost concurrent to the Confederate mission to attack gunboats in the Stono River. Both operations were designed more to insult than achieve any strategic objectives.  Neither side was in the “festive” spirit that December.

Comparing Dahlgren’s orders to that of General P.G.T. Beauregard, both addressed the core elements of a mission order.  More or less.  But Dahlgren included more of what we might call “rules of engagement.”  Even after years of hard war, the naval commander was concerned with collateral damage his sailors and marines might inflict.  And he was just as motivated to extend the “privileges held out by law and the proclamation” made by his friend the President.

(Dahlgren’s order to Green is from ORN, Series I, Volume 15, pages 154-5.)