Thursday Dec. 5 1861
STONE SHIPS SINK SAVANNAH
Even with the severe shortage of vessels for the use of the U.S.
Navy, which required the purchase of private ferryboats and the like
for troop and supply transports, there were still some old wooden
ships that were just plain useless for any sort of warfare. They
were being put to use, however, as part of the “Stone Fleet”. They
were loaded with rocks until they would barely float, then taken up
into the inlets of Southern rivers as far as practicable and then
sunk as impediments to blockade-runners. Flag Officer Samuel duPont
had more of these than he knew what to do with at Savannah, Ga.
“With Wassaw that city is more effectively closed than a bottle with
wire over the cork. One good thing they did, I have not a doubt they
were taken for men-of-war and led to giving up the Wassaw defenses.”
DuPont decided to ship them to Capt. James Lardner at Charleston, to
see if they might do the same there.
Friday Dec. 5 1862
SEVERN SITE OF SCHOONER SCUFFLES
The United States Naval Academy was no longer located “where the
Severn meets the Sea”, having been moved North at the outbreak of
the war. That the Severn River was heavily infested with Confederate
ships was proven today by Comdr. E. A. Parker of the USS Mahaska and
Lt. Blake of the USS General Putman. They sailed their little fleet
up this waterway almost to Annapolis, Md., and along with their
ship's boats did some damage. “Several fine boats” were taken and
sunk, they reported. The small boats then ventured up even smaller
branches of the river and bagged a schooner and two sloops, also
destroyed. Finally they succeeded in capturing the schooners Seven
Brothers and Galena, and these were now undergoing a change of
management and flags.
Saturday Dec. 5 1863
SEVERAL SKIRMISHES SHAKE SOLDIERS
It was a day of considerable activity for this late in the year, but
each individual action was small and more or less incidental to
armies being on the move. In Tennessee it was the corps of James
Longstreet marching away from Knoxville and toward planned winter
quarters in Greenville, Tenn. This led to skirmishes around the
Clinch River, particularly at Walker's Ford. Other unpleasantness
occurred at Raccoon Ford, Va., and Crab Gap, Tenn. Far to the east,
another misfortune befell the U.S. Navy at Murrell’s Inlet, S.C. A
party sent ashore in a small boat from the USS Perry was set upon
and captured. An almost identical incident had befallen a party from
the USS T. A. Ward a few days earlier.
Monday Dec. 5 1864
SHERMAN SETS SORRY STYLE SCENE
Gen. William T. Sherman had had episodes of nervous instability
before in his life. A term as administrator of the huge Department
of the Ohio had been so frustrating that he asked to be relieved,
then suffered a nervous breakdown. He was now engaged in the
campaign of his life, that history would call the March to the Sea.
He was not, however, sleeping very well. One of his officers, Maj.
Henry Hitchcock, wrote in his diary that he often saw Sherman come
out of his tent late into the night, perhaps to walk around or just
to sit by the fire. He was clad in a style perhaps best concealed by
the dark of night: “Bare feet in slippers, red flannel drawers,”
Hitchcock recorded, “..woolen shirt, old dressing gown with blue
cloth (half-cloak) cape.” He had eccentricities of dress even in
daytime: while riding on march he never wore boots, preferring
low-cut shoes. He wore only one spur, never two.
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