Gunboat War At Vicksburg

A Union seaman’s nightmarish memories of shot, shell, and shoal waters in Grant’s Mississippi River campaign, 1862–63

When in April of 1861 he first learned that the Confederate States of America had forced Federal troops to evacuate Fort Sumter, seventeen-year-old Daniel F. Kemp of Buffalo, New York, immediately wanted to enlist; but not until late summer of the next year, sometime after his eighteenth birthday, did Kemp’s parents consent to his signing up for a one-year hitch in the United States Navy. That service at once sent him west to join the freshwater flotilla which in cooperation with the Army was working its way down the Mississippi River. Read more »

The Miracle That Saved The Union

The Union desperately needed an extraordinary warship to counter the ironclad the Confederates were building

It was obvious that something very special was needed to confront the ironclad that the Confederacy was furiously building if the Union was to be saved. Yet it took a personal visit of Abraham Lincoln to the somnolent offices of the Navy Department to force the issue, and by then it was so late that the Navy Department had to have a miracle. In short, the contractor would have to build, in a hundred days, a kind of ship that had never been built before, and build it in a desperate race against time. Read more »

The Relief Of Fort Pickens

WAR WAS DAYS AWAY, A UNION STRONGHOLD WAS THREATENED, AND THROUGH A FOG OF RUMOR, DOUBT, CONTRADICTORY ORDERS, AND OUTRIGHT LIES THE ARMY AND NAVY SET OUT TO HELP

A good place to start the story is the Republican convention in Chicago in May, 1860. By long odds the leading candidate, and on form and experience the best qualified, was of course Senator William H. Seward of New York. He was eminent in the legal profession. He had served with distinction as governor of his state before going to the Senate. He had been a leader of the antislavery Whigs and had brought them into the recently created Republican Party.Read more »

Last Of The Rebel Raiders

Long after the Civil War was over, the Shenandoah’s die-hard skipper was still sinking Yankee ships

On the night of October 8, 1864, a little group f m of men hurried through log-shrouded streets in Liverpool, England, to board the steamer Laurel , which lay waiting in the harbor. They posed as passengers and pretended to be strangers to one another, but in tact they were officers and men of the Confederate Navy. Some of them had reached Europe oil the blockade-runners that slipped in and out of southern ports.