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Achievements of the Navy (on the Tennessee River, from the fall of Fort Henry) It is a struggle to come to grips with this topic, because “The Navy” was not technically part of the war effort on the inland waters until October 1862. So, up until that time (including the contribution made in support of Grant’s Army at Pittsburg Landing) the Timberclads and Ironclads (and from late April 1862, the Tinclads) were part of the Union Army, operated by competent officers and enlisted men of the U.S. Navy… except in the case of Ellet’s Rams, but that’s another story. Beginning with the initial raid up the Tennessee River, commenced immediately upon the fall of Fort Henry, the accomplishments of patrols and multi-vessel raids are many and varied: · Denied Rebel use of MC & L R.R. bridge at Danville · Capture of nearly complete ironclad, Eastport · Shock & awe of Confederate citizens along the Tennessee, as far as Florence, AL · Destroyed (or encouraged self-destruction) of almost every Rebel steamer on the Lower Tennessee River… except two, hidden until mid-April 1862 · Found important pockets of Union support (most notably at Savannah, Tennessee) · Intelligence collection · Second raid found M & C R.R. near Iuka too strongly defended · Strong Union support at Savannah confirmed · Confiscated massive amount of Rebel flour at Clifton, Tennessee · Moved controversial figure, Fielding Hurst, to safety at Cairo · Intelligence collection · Third raid recruited crew members at Savannah for Timberclad service · “Recruitment Picnic” broken up at Savannah (and leaders of that picnic – J.B. Kendrick of Captain Fitzgerald’s Company of Tennessee Volunteers and Clay Kendrick of Colonel Crew’s Regiment – taken into custody and removed to Cairo · Engagement at Pittsburg Landing on March 1st drives Rebels away from the bluff. Members of Company C and Company K of 32nd Illinois Infantry – acting in capacity of “sharp shooters” – participate as landing party. (The 32nd Illinois later takes part at Shiloh, attached to Hurlbut’s Fourth Division.) · As component of General C.F. Smith’s Expedition, the Lexington and Tyler provided support and protection to the transport fleet · Whenever discovered, ferry vessels were destroyed · Support to Sherman’s raids (attempted cut of M & C R.R.) · Reconnaissance and intelligence collection · In company with USS Cairo on April 1st, the gunboats conducted a reconnaissance of creeks as far upstream as Chickasaw Bluff (likely an attempt to uncover the hiding place of two Rebel steamers) · During the Battle of Shiloh, gunfire support (directed by General Hurlbut) commences just before 3 p.m. and intensifies until night halts the action of April 6th · Overnight, the Timberclads lob explosive shells into Rebel-held portions of Shiloh battlefield, every 15 minutes, until 5 a.m. Can you think of any other Naval contributions to add to the list? [Most information found in OR (Navy) vol.22 and Chicago Daily Tribune.]
When Lieutenant Phelps led three Union gunboats on his raid up the Tennessee River in February 1862, following the conquest of Fort Henry, he burned railroad bridges and Confederate steamers; and he took the Eastport and other Confederate steamers as prizes. And, he came into possession of papers, detailing plans for conversion of civilian steamers to Confederate Navy use, belonging to Lieutenant I. N. Brown [Note 1]. LT Isaac Newton Brown's last Federal assignment was as executive officer of the steam corvette, USS Niagara, engaged in a year-long voyage to Japan, and back. When that vessel returned to Boston Harbor in April 1861, LT Brown, whose home was in Mississippi, resigned, ending over twenty-five years of service with the U. S. Navy. But, at a time when emotions were high, due to events at Fort Sumter, the lieutenant was taken into custody, and threatened with imprisonment... It was due to the efforts of the Mayor of Boston that Isaac Brown gained his release: he promptly made his way to Canada [Note 2]. But, on May 3rd he was in Louisville, Kentucky. And two days later, he was in Memphis; where he soon found himself one of the two most important Confederate Naval Officers in the West (the other being Commander George N. Hollins, in command of a Flotilla of Rebel gunboats, and operating out of New Orleans, from July 1861.) [Note 3] At some point, during his assignment at Memphis, LT Brown became acquainted with Dr. A. L. Saunders -- whose interest lay in torpedo development. Meanwhile, on 22 August 1861, the Samuel Orr was seized by Rebel forces, and taken up the Tennessee River. Also, in late August, the Eastport was steamed away from her base at Paducah, and delivered to Confederate forces south of Fort Henry. [Note 4] LT Brown was called east to Richmond in July 1861. While there, he became acquainted with Professor Matthew F. Maury, late of the U. S. Navy, and soon-to-be Head of the Submarine Battery Service: Maury was one man who possessed an unshakeable faith in the application of torpedoes as a means of solving the South's waterborne-defense problems [Note 5]. Back in Memphis, Isaac Brown assumed oversight for the August 1861 contract, let for the construction of two new ironclad gunboats: CSS Tennessee and CSS Arkansas [Note 6]. And he resumed contact with MGen Leonidas Polk (whom he had assisted in acquiring coastal defense guns for his works at Fort Columbus); only now, Brown was acting as advocate for submarine batteries. He discovered that MGen Polk was completely accepting of the application of this new weapon of war. Early in December 1861, LT Brown went north to Columbus with a shipment of Dr. Saunder's torpedoes; he put them in place in proximity to the chain, blocking the Mississippi River. (While there, he probably trained Major Gilmer, and possibly LT Dixon, in the preparation, positioning and arming of submarine batteries, before returning south for other duties.) Unfortunately, the torpedoes put in place at Columbus, never had an opportunity to prove their worth; and the ones deployed at Fort Henry were anchored with insufficient weight, and torn loose by flood waters. Isaac Brown eventually enjoyed success with torpedoes in December 1862, when a team of his men blew up the USS Cairo in the Yazoo River. (On the face of it, the Yazoo River seems like an odd place for a gunboat to be... until it is realized that Yazoo City was established as a Confederate shipbuilding center, after the fall of New Orleans.) The Mary E. Keene and CSS Capitol operated out of Yazoo City; and the CSS Arkansas was converted into an ironclad gunboat there: her breakout from Yazoo City on July 12th, 1862, with LT I. N. Brown in command, is legendary in the Annals of Confederate History. (The ironclad reached Vicksburg, and the protection of that city's guns, three days later.) Following the destruction of CSS Arkansas, Isaac Brown was called east, and given command of CSS Charleston. After the war, I. N. Brown swore the oath of allegiance, and went home to Mississippi; and later, moved to Texas, where he farmed, until his death in 1889. A few years after his death, the United Daughters of the Confederacy awarded Isaac Newton Brown with the Southern Cross of Honor, for his service aboard CSS Arkansas. Ozzy References Note 1 Timberclads in the Civil War: Lexington, Conestoga and Tyler on the Western Waters, by Myron J. Smith, Jr.; Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co., Inc., 2008, pp 228-231. Note 2 mississippiconfederates.wordpress,com 'A Refusal to Serve Against Liberty' N 3 http://mississippiconfederates.wordpress.com/2014/07/06/a-refusal-to-serve-against-liberty-isaac-n-brown-quits-the-u-s-navy/ Note 4 Court case: Oakes vs United States, 22 May 1899. Note 5 OR(Navy) pp. 790-809. Note 6 OR(Navy) p. 811. Also: Leonidas Polk, Bishop and General; The Fight for the Yazoo, August 1862-July 1864, by Myron J. Smith, Jr., 2012; hazegray.org; www.history.navy.mil; rootsweb.ancestry.com; http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~tnhardin/Gunboat.html civilwartalk.com