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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.]

 

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