The Civil War Journal of Dr. Joseph Warren Shively

I could not find an image of Shively but here is one of George Hopkins who served as an Assistant Surgeon aboard the USS Rover during the Civil War. (US Naval Historical Center)

This incredible journal was kept by Joseph Warren Shively (1833-1897) while serving as an Assistant Surgeon in the US Navy aboard the U.S. Steamer Mississippi early in the American Civil War.

Shively was born in Knox Township, Columbiana Co., on 24 September 1833. “His father—Jacob Shively (b. 1805)—was a farmer, whose ancestors had immigrated to America from Germany, and settled in Pennsylvania in 1730. His great-grandfather on his mother’s side was an Englishman, but took sides with the Patriots in the Revolution, and was killed at the battle of Germantown.

“The Doctor received a good education at the common schools, and afterward attended an academy at Salem, Ohio. Having acquired a fair proficiency in Latin and mathematics, he was engaged for several years in teaching school. He began the study of medicine in 1853, with Dr. Abraham Metz (1827-1876), of Massillon, and attended his first course of lectures in 1855 and 1856, at the University of Michigan. At the close of the session, he became partner with his preceptor, and continued in the practice of medicine for three years. He graduated at the Cleveland Medical College in the spring of 1860, and in the same year he entered the naval service as Assistant Surgeon.

“On the breaking out of the war, he was ordered to the Gulf Squadron, and served there for two years, participating in the capture of New Orleans by Admiral Farragut. He was subsequently promoted to Surgeon, and served on various vessels and stations till 1865, when he resigned his commission, and returned to civil practice at Massillon. He remained there but one year, when he removed to Kent, where he has since resided— engaged in the duties of his profession—with the exception of a brief period spent in Cleveland. He is a member of the American Medical Association, of the Ohio State Medical Society, and is an honorary member of the California State Medical Society. He attended the meeting of the American Medical Association in San Francisco, in 1871. After the adjournment of the convention, he visited various places of note in California, including the Yosemite Valley, the geysers, the big trees and some gold mines; also the city of Salt Lake en route home. He is united in marriage to Amelia L. Kent (1837-1912), and has two children living —Emily J. and Joseph K.” [Source: Address Before the rocky Mountain Medical Association, June 6, 1877]

As a supplement to Dr. Shively’s biographical sketch above, I include his application for a promotion to Surgeon which provides a good capsule summary of his service aboard the USS Mississippi and return home from the Gulf in the spring of 1863:

U. S. Naval Asylum
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
September 2nd 1863


I received my commission as assistant Surgeon in the United States Navy on the 4th of March 1861, and on the 28th day of April following I received orders to report for duty on board the late USS Mississippi, then fitting out at Boston. I reported on the 10th of May agreeably to the order. On the 27th of the same month, we sailed for the Gulf, being one of the first vessels to leave for the blockade. We arrived at our station on the 10th of June following. And from that period until the 1st of April of 1862, we successively blockaded off Pensacola, Mobile, Ship Island, and Pass a L’Outre. We succeeded in crossing the “bar” on the 10th of April and took part in the taking of Forts Jackson and St. Phillips. as well as New Orleans. During the summer of 1863, we did service in the river.

About the 1st of March 1863, I left the vessel in consequence of sickness and remained at New Orleans. On the 21st of the same month, I was ordered North in the Naval Transport “Fair Haven” in charge of the sick of the squadron, and as medical officer to the paroled crews of the “Harriet Lane” and “Queen of the West,” who were sent home in that vessel.

I arrived in New York on the 10th of April 1863 and was granted a leave of absence for six weeks, in which time I regained my health completely. On the 28th of May last, I reported for duty on board the U. S. S. Iron Clad Frigate Roanoke, and proceeded in her to Fortress Monroe. I was detached on the 22nd day of July and reported on the 24th for duty at the U S. Naval Asylum Hospital, Philadelphia, agreeably to orders.

Very Respectfully, your obedient servant, — J. W. Shively, Asst. Surgeon, U S. Navy

Shively’s journal, tightly bound, measuring 7 x 8 inches and containing some 80 pages.
Shively’s description of his journal.

On board U. S. S. Mississippi
Key West, Florida

June 18, 1861—By neglect I have taken nothing in shape of notes thus far though such was the intention when I left Boston.

We went into commission on the 18th day of May 1861 at Boston, & I commenced for the first time the new life of a Man-of-War. After much confusion & innumerable purchases for my future comfort, we at last set sail for the Gulf carrying the broad pennant of Commodore [William] Mervine, making thus a flagship of the old Mississippi. Our departure so full of promise was brought to a sudden stop for hardly was the fair city out of sight than the outside delivery pipe bursted compelling a return to Boston on the same day, May 23rd.

On the 27th we gain turned our bow towards the Gulf. After a long and tedious but otherwise agreeable voyage we anchored in the harbor of Key West. In this last port we have been siding at our anchors till now, with the exception of 24 hours absence when we were fast on a coral reef within sight of Key West. We were bound for Pensacola laden down with coal, &c. Our pilot—a most uncertain-looking fellow—did not understand his business or our purpose, run us on them. There was no possibility of being drowned as the depth of water was only 17 feet but there was great danger of losing our ship. As far as we now know, no serious damage has been done. A survey will be held tomorrow that will tell us the condition of our bottom.

So far I can say nothing favorable or unfavorable to a Man-of-War’s life. There is much very attracting & equally much quite otherwise. Pleasant companions, jolly talk, and very little labor are agreeable things [but] deprivation of many comforts, society, churches, & the civilizing influences of women are the disagreeable things.

Yesterday I visited the barracks & met Lieut. Gillam & his lady. They are very pleasant folks. This afternoon we hauled away from the wharf & now are at anchor abreast of Fort Taylor

June 18th—continued. This fortress is a magnificent work of defense. It is not yet finished. The side towards the land is unfinished. It is being completed as fast as possible. Key West is a coral reef or island some 5 or 6 miles long and from half to a mile wide. It is a lovely spot as far as vegetation is concerned. Broad-leaved cocoa palms with their fruit in all stages of development from the size of an apple to a child’s head. But the most striking thing is the full blooming Oleanders. Their blood red flowers look like roses in full bloom. There are also in great abundance the sweetest of Jessamines. The air is fragrant with their odor. Another interesting plant is the night blooming Cerus. This flower only blooms at night, closing never to open again as soon dawn. They grow wild.

The people of Key West live principally by wrecking and sponging. Sponging is worth a great deal of money to the islanders.

Today I wrote or rather sent a long letter to my dear friend A. Also one to Mr. Thomas W. Harvey of Massillon, Ohio. It is raining ever so hard. This is the beginning of the rainy season.

At Sea, June 19. Left Key West today at 11 o’clock not knowing our destination until out at sea when it was evident by our course that we were heading to Ft. Tortugas. This is the most lovely evening. The moon almost full and rising high in a sky, was exceeding lovely and most beautiful to behold. As I was sitting on the Hurricane Deck baring my head to the fresh & gentle breeze with just enough light to make visible the silver edged waves, thoughts of home, friends, and distant scenes stole over me as softly & pleasantly as the moonlight stole over the sea. This is the poetry of sea life. The soul drinks in the beauty & magnificence of such a night wit sensations far beyond expression. A moonlit sea, a calm soft, placid sea—how unspeakably lovely. If there is a pulse of romance, it must beat at the sight of such a scene. But such beauty cannot always last. Tempests must also have their sway.

June 20, 1861—At sea. “Upon a might so beautiful such awful morn could rise” was illustrious most especially. My first sweet slumber—it having been very hot all night—of the morning was suddenly brought to a close by great noise overhead, of taking in or losing sail, I could not tell. Soon, however, it became apparent that something quite unusual was going on—“a chase” in all probability. Soon the supposition became verified. We were chasing a large ship under full sail that was crossing our bow. The chase was most interesting. The ship had no idea of stopping. A blank shot was fired but no effect was produced. Soon an unload shell was fired—its shrill whistle could be distinctly told even by an inexperienced person. This brought her to and she proved to be an English ship, having been cleared by the Confederate States at New Orleans. She was allowed to proceed on her way after a short detention. The joke of the thing was the drum beat to quarters after the shots were fired, thus proving disastrous to any dreams or further sleep.

June 21—At sea. The weather has been extremely favorable since our departure. Our course is along the west coast of Florida. We are looking after the ports of Tampa and Appalachicola. The thermometer stood at 85 degrees—a most delicious sea breeze during all the day. Yesterday evening’s sunset was one of the most magnificent I have ever seen. Several of us looked with delight at the beautiful tints as they slowly sank into the shades of evening. The sea is lovely upon such an evening. There are plenty of spare times at sea to occupy one’s self reflections & retrospection. I have never taken so great a delight in reviewing the little particulars of my life as I have done since at sea.

We have no sickness on board amounting to anything. The ship’s company are not at all drilled in the service. They want discipline and practice. Today is the longest of the year.

June 22—At sea.Last night just after falling asleep, my slumbers were brought to a close by the drum beating to “General Quarters.” It is not the pleasantest things in the world to be aroused from a delicious sleep & go through all the maneuvers of actual warfare though feeling fully its farcical force. The hatches were not only closed but covered with tarpaulins excluding every breath of air. But such is the life of a Man-of-War. On this occasion the sight was rather ludicrous. Officers with slippers & dress totally unpresentable on Quarter Deck [___ailed] themselves of the darkness. Some of us fellows whose place is down deep below were only clad in robes of night. The day was fine & a delicious breeze was blowing all day. Our course today was changed from Appalachicola to Ft. Pickens. Our living is not good. We need bread—good bread, & fresh pure water.

June 23—At sea off Pensacola. Today at 11 o’clock we sighted the U. S. S. Niagara off Ft. Pickens. It was with a strange feeling that I viewed the land of secession. We are now in sight of the enemy’s land. We came to anchor close to the Niagara about noon. We found here the supply ship Water Witch & Thos. R. Swan who was just ready to leave for the North. We had no time to send letters aboard for our friends at home.

After we came to anchor, I took a good long survey of the enemy’s position. The secession flag—the first I have ever seen—was conspicuously floating from the Navy Yard. Ft. McRee is dimly seen at the distance. Ft. Pickens cannot be seen very well from where we are now lying. Only the good old flag is visible. Several secession crafts were sailing in the harbor beyond the narrow isthmus of Santa Rosa Island. I felt like putting a shell into them. We are all well. Thermometer at 87. Very hot.

Col. Billy Wilson’s Zouaves (6th New York Infantry) were among the first to offer their services to the government. Wilson recruited nearly 1200 men from the rowdy and criminal classes of New York City. Unlike most Zouave regiments, the regiment wore long trousers and relatively plain shirts.

June 24—Off Pensacola. Was greatly surprised this morning on getting up to find the steamer “Vanderbilt” along side with Col. [Billy] Wilson’s Zouaves. She brought 650 troops, together with stores and guns. This morning I amused myself a long while surveying the secession encampment. I do hate the odious flag. This afternoon we paid a visit to the Niagara. What a beautiful vessel. I was astonished at the order, cleanliness, and general arrangement on board. We afterwards went on board the Vanderbilt & made the acquaintance of Col. Wilson’s officers. We were well treated, had champaign and cigars. The Zouaves look like fighting men. Many of them are quite young. We were quite surprised to see a British Man-of-War come in this evening. The steam sloop Jason, 22 guns, Commander Von something or other. She is a beautiful ship. She fired a salute which was returned by our flagship.

June 25, 1861—Off Pensacola. This morning the Illinois from Portland came in. She is loaded with ammunition and 28 nine-inch guns. The Englist Man-of-War sailed for Cuba. The Salvor came from Key West loaded with cattle and lumber. The Release sailed for the upper end of Santa Rosa Island taking Dr. Dean to the Wyandotte. I feel sorry to lose so fine a gentleman & companion as the doctor. Col. [Harvey] Brown, commander of Pickens, visited our ship today. Col. Wilson also. The former was saluted. The “Vanderbilt” was engaged in disembarking her camp equipage and soldiers. Our boats were engaged in the work. The manner of doing things here is rather peculiar. We have a schooner loaded with ammunition under the guns of Ft. McRee. We unloaded the “Vanderbilt” within their range. The same is true of the Illinois. On the other hand, their crafts are constantly plying within our range. A certain schooner commanded by a former Lieut. Renshaw of the Navy, now styling himself a Commodore, is making herself very disagreeable by cruising on the opposite shore of the island quite near to shore.

This evening I watched the secessionists practicing their guns. They fired shot and shell. They skipped and burst not very far from us. The “South Carolina” came in this evening from the coast of Texas, for what purpose is not yet known to me. The weather today has been very pleasant. The Salvor brought a mail today for the rest of the vessels here save our ship. I am quite anxious to hear from home. The water is full of sharks. They can be seen at any time close by our ship. They are voracious & would make a meal of a man as easy as anything. We have ice water today. Oh delicious!

June 26, 1861—Off Pensacola. A very hot day it has been. The sea was perfectly calm and smooth. Nothing of any interest occurred today. Sharks continue to prowl around the ship being about the only things commanding particular attention from the men. The secession flag is hoisted every morning at 8 o’clock as if it had a perfect right to be. Their steamers are very active constantly plying between the Navy Yard and the City of Pensacola. The balance of the soldiers were disembarked today by our boats—also a large quantity of stores and half a dozen mules.

A view of the Rebel batteries opposite Fort Pickens. The Rebel Flag can be plainly seen.

The fort saluted our Commodore today. The secessionists could be distinctly seen mounting towers &c. to see what was going on. They were again busily engaged practicing their guns. By timing the flash and report, I found them distant three and one-quarter miles from our present mooring. The “Cahawba” loaded with horses and mules &c. arrived today from Key West. She also brought a mail bag for the squadron.

Those Zouaves are rich characters. They no sooner landed than they went pell mell into the water bathing although the water is full of sharks. One lieutenant went into the water with his sword on. They fight among themselves like dogs. I do not think much of their soldiership, being too much of the rowdy. Our officers are eager for a brush & I for one am eager to volunteer for a little fun.

June 27, 1861. This afternoon I was ordered to go on board the “Vanderbilt” to test the purity of the water that we were shipping from her. I found it a little brackish. A few drops of weak solution of Nit. Argt. would throw down a copious white precipitate. We held a Medical Survey upon two men of the USS South Carolina. The board consisted of Drs. Potter, Maccom, & myself. One had phthisis, the other one an acute attack of an inflammation situated in the brain. A man was also condemned to day on board our ship on survey. He has occlusion of the pupil with Leucoma. The affection to my mind is Glaucoma. The practice of medicine on board a ship is expectant to a great extent. The noise and confusion with the constant motions of the ship present in a great measure the exercise of the two great modes of determining diseased action—viz: percussion and auscultation.

The Illinois sailed for Ft. Tortugas today taking with her the guns and ammunition with which she was loaded, leaving only the mules. The rifled cannons on board the “Vanderbilt” are to be retained. The secession battery on shore was again in play this evening. The surf soars tonight making a dreamy and mystic music. It puts me in mind of a distant waterfall. The weather is hot.

June 28, 1861—Off Pensacola. This has been a dull dsay. Weather pleasant. Had a shower this afternoon. No arrivals or departures. The “Cowhaba” moved up within range of Ft. McRee to discharge her cargo of lumber and cattle. The secessionists fired from a new place this afternoon, the firing being nearer Pensacola, perhaps midway between the Navy Yard and it. Quite a number of our officers visited Pickens today. Their account of its appearance & comforts are by no means flattering. I commenced a long letter home today.

June 30, 1861. Nothing of importance occurred yesterday. Today was Sunday and a very fine cool day it has been. We had service on board this afternoon. The chaplain of the Niagara officiated. The steamer “State of Georgia” came in this afternoon bringing the remainder of the zouaves with a large mail for the squadron. Everybody received letters save myself. It is quite a luxury to receive letters from friends after so long an absence. We got papers up to the date of 21st inst. Somehow or other our troops do not behave as well as I could wish, or rather the success of our arms is not so great as it might be. I presume it is all right but really I think things might be more expeditiously carried on.

July 5, 1861—Off Pensacola. The “State of Georgia” left the day after her arrival for Tortugas taking two companies of the zouaves. She is to bring from thence two companies of regular artillery. On day before yesterday, the Massachusetts came in bringing the unwelcome intelligence of the escape of the Rebel Man-of-War “Sumpter.” She made her escape here on last Sunday, running by the USS Sloop-of-War Brooklyn. The latter at the time was giving chase to an English brig. The Niagara was sent in pursuit. The Fourth [of July] yesterday was very dull, being a rainy day. Fort Pickens fired a salute of 34 guns at noon. The “Mississippi” fired a national salute of 21 guns. Fort Barrancas fired a rebel salute of 7 or 13 guns, I forget which. This morning the “Cahauba” sailed for New York taking Capt. Barry’s company of light artillery. The horses were taken on board of her last night under cover of darkness.

July 6, 1861.

Had a very fine day. The sunset this evening was unsurpassingly lovely. Was greatly surprised last night to see a comet, It is quite large with a train of 20 or 30 degrees. It’s nucleus is large and bright. It’s position is in the constellation of the Great Bear. The “Water Witch” left last evening for the East Pass of Santa Rosa to relieve the Wyandotte. The latter vessel came in here this morning thus giving us all the great pleasure of seeing our old friend, Doctor Dean, again.

July 8—Off Pensacola. Yesterday I visited the Fort (Pickens) in company with Dr. & Lieut. S. The fort is old, of an irregular pentagonal form, with bastions. It is strongly protected by sand bags. The enclosure is full of large holes. The fort is very strong defensively considered, but is not so well adapted for offensive warfare. They have a few ten-inch Columbiads in barbette protected by sand bags. Also several rifled cannons. They built several batteries on either side of the fort. One of ten-inch Columbiads, one of ten-inch seacoast mortars and rifled cannons.

July 10—Off Pensacola. Yesterday our ship was thrown into quite an excitement by a secession schooner landing at the mouth of the Perdido River some six or eight miles distant from our anchorage. The order was given to send an armed boat to take her but was countermanded just as we were ready to start. In the evening a boat crew of volunteers including myself left on a “cutting-out expedition.” We were armed with navy revolvers and cutlasses. We numbered 24 men. The tide was very strong and against us, sea heavy, and after pulling incessantly for 4 hours, the men being fatigued, we anchored. The lights on our ship were but dimly visible. Those of Ft. Pickens & McRee only at intervals. The men took a nap with the intention of going on after being rested. A rocket as we supposed from the Mississippi but really from the State of Georgia, who was just coming in, induced us to return. The sail was very pleasant on our return. The wind and tide were both favorable. The little boat fairly flew. The water phosphorescing seemed liquid fire. We got onboard our ship at 2 o’clock A. M. weary & sleepy. This was my first experience in a boat “expedition.” I trust it may not be the last one.

Today the sea was heavy. Towards evening a perfect gale blew from the sea. We swing safely at our anchor but a coal brig lying near shore came very near going ashore. Just then a violent thunder squall came off the land. The sky was dark—the clouds low and threatening. Soon the wind struck the sea shuffling the already white-crested waves in a contrary direction. The wind was of short duration and was followed by a heavy rain which is continuing yet. It is quite a grand sight to see a storm at sea. It is alarming and frightful but I love its grandeur and sublimity. The air is very cool.

July 16, 1861—Off Pensacola. Yesterday morning to the great joy of all, the steam frigate “Colorado” arrived bringing a large quantity of letters & papers. I was the happy recipient of two letters. The “Colorado” came from Key West. She had quite a long passage from Boston. In the afternoon the Flag Officer transferred his blue flag of the Col. thus relieving us of the honor of being flag ship. Nothing of importance occurred save the burning of a building at the Pensacola Navy Yard. It was said by those who know that it was the ordnance building that was burned. We received orders this morning to go to sea. We are going to the South West Pass of the Mississippi River, taking letters and small stores to the “Powhatten.” We are then to go to Mobile.

July 17. We fell in with a store ship “Release” & took her in tow. Exchanged [messages] with the “Brooklyn” and saw several sail. Weather fair.

July 22—Off Mouth of Mississippi. We arrived at the mouth of the Mississippi on the night of the 17th. The lights of the steamer “Powhatten” came in sight about 10 o’clock. We came to anchor close by her side. The water has a muddy appearance. The line of union with the salt water is quite distinct. In fact, an inexperienced sailor might take the dark line of sea water for a low breach. We heaved up anchor at 1 o’clock and stood for the Pass a L’outre where the “Brooklyn” is stationed. We came along side about 10 o’clock, sent her letters on board, and left for Le Chandeleur Island. Came up with the sloop “St. Louis.” We came in sight of the “Massachusetts” the following morning. We came to anchor in the [ ] & remained there 24 hours, taking on board wood. In the morning of the 20th, we left & stood for Ship Island, now in possession of the enemy. We came in sight of the little village & sand batteries upon the island, took a good look, and turned our head to the east for Mobile at which place we came on the same evening. The “Huntsville” is stationed off the bay. We dropped our anchor about 5 miles from the light house & Fort Morgan. This station is very disagreeable. Very dull. Nothing to attract the eye or fancy. No chance for fighting. Nothing but dullness.

August 1, 1861—Off Mobile. We have now been lying here almost three weeks. It is a very dull place. We have seen no sail save small craft inside the bay since our arrival. The rebels carry on quite a brisk trade between Mobile and New Orleans, through the Mississippi Sound—the water being so shoal as to make it unfit for our ships. We can see them often but not reach them. We are about 5 miles from the point of land upon which the fort (Ft. Morgan) is situated. It has been extremely hot and dull. We have not received any news—either letters or papers—since the 29th June. Everybody is dying of impatience to hear what Congress is doing, &c.

October 4, 1861. We got underway last evening an hour or so before sunset & cruised about all night. We intended to make a reconnoissance of the neck of land eastward of Ft. Morgan upon which we discovered evidences of hostile works being in progress of erection. Being too late last evening, it was deferred until today. We started for the point after 10 o’clock A. M. & moved very slowly towards the shore, sounding our way. It was about 12 or 1 o’clock when we came near enough to the place to open fire. We were in 5 fathoms of water & about 1.5 or 2 miles eastward of the supposed battery. Several schooners lay on the other side of the land. We fired six shots—the first from our 10-inch gun. It fell short. The second went clean over the land and struck very near to the schooner. The broadside guns reached the beach and exploded. Quite a number of persons were seen on the shore, two carts seemingly engaged in hauling sand were distinctly seen. It is supposed that the rebels are throwing up batteries on this point about 1 mile from Ft. Morgan to guard against a future landing from our troops. We might have gone much nearer to the battery but for reasons not known to me, we did not.

October 8—Off Mobile. It is now a month since we have had news from home. We are naturally anxious to hear and know how things are going in and about the seat of war. We have now been here 11 weeks. Gone to sea three or four times during storms No sickness on board. The “Connecticut” was our last steamer. She left us on the 10 September.

October 10, 1861. This morning there is a strong fresh breeze from the East. Its invigorating breath fills every nook and corner of the system with renewed energy. I have been amusing myself for the last few days in reading a series of stories by Edgar A. Poe. I don’t know why I have not read them long ago as his poems have been my especial delight for a long time. What a peculiar character his undoubted genius exhibits. To some it may appear the gloomy & almost savage descantings of a self-degraded intellect. To others, a misanthropic possession of everything good for the sake of notoriety. And to others it seems only the national outpourings of a strongly organized mind that is wounded at every gross material—a fine poetical temperament whose sense of the beautiful is morbidly acute, and thinks itself unappreciated if not positively abused when everyone does not see as he does. It is a peculiar & unhappy temperament.

October 11—Off Mobile. Last night between 7 and 8 bells, we were called to “general quarters” caused by the light of a steamer approaching from the West. Owing to some reluctancy to come near us, we fired a broadside gun and a little afterwards a howitzer. When a boat came alongside we found the stranger to be the “McClellan”—an army transport. She informed us of the fact that the rebels had made a sally upon the zouaves at Santa Rosa & burned their camp equipage. She has been to the mouth of the Mississippi & Ship Island to order the return of the “Niagara” & “Colorado.” The former we sighted yesterday afternoon passing within 5 or 6 miles of us. The latter passed by us a few hours after the “McClellan” left. Of the particulars of the fight, we know nothing. We were told that we took 30 prisoners & among them 5 officers. The attack was made during the night. The frigate “Potomac” was at anchor off Ft. Pickens but too far out to be of any assistance to the zouaves. The zouaves were reinforced by regulars from the fort.

Harper’s Weekly, on November 9, 1861, relates the incident of the fight on October 9th on Santa Rosa Island, involving Wilson’s 6th New York Zouaves.  The Zouaves were encamped on Santa Rosa Island, about a mile from Fort Pickens, to guard entrance to the fort.  On a very dark night, about 1,500 rebels surprised the picket guard, who could not sound an alarm in time.  The camp was burned before Fort Pickens could send reinforcements to drive the rebels away.  The article reports that it was felt that Colonel Wilson had very little control over his volunteers and their inefficiency and lack of skill were the cause of the confusion and destruction of the camp. (Harper’s Weekly, p. 705)

October 15—Off Mobile. Yesterday morning a sail was reported to the eastward. We were in a great glee as it was in the right direction for news. She finally came alongside & proved to be the frigate “Potomac” bound to Ship Island. She brought a mail—the one the ship “Fear Not” brought out from Boston. Quite an amusing thing occurred as she came in. When quite a distance, she signaled to be ready to disembark any person or thing that might be telegraphed thereafter. The word “send” then appeared, then “any,” then “late”—-expectation stood on tip toe. The joke was too rich. The idea to ask us to send late papers on board after mostly 2 months without a mail.

October 23. Yesterday morning the ship’s company were all a-glee on the report of a sail from the eastward. We have been so long without news from the North that our impatience knows no bounds. We all though the long-expected steamer was now here beyond a doubt. But we were bitterly disappointed when it turned out to be a French gunboat—the Lavoiseir. The captain came on board & from him we learned that our mail steamers had not arrived at Havana, being 12 days behind time. The inference is that they were taken off to transport troops. He also told us that the Spanish fleet were to attack Vera Cruz in a month. The Commodore was not at Pensacola.

October 31—Off Mobile. The long expected steamer Rhode Island came at last to our great joy. She came on the 28th inst. The news was not what we expected. From what we had heard, we did not think it possible for the two armies to be long facing each other & no blow struck. But it seems they did so notwithstanding my own belief. The news she brought was considered good nevertheless. There’s more solidarity & real strength exhibited than was ever before. I also learned to my own private sorrow that the $300 I sent home had not arrived on the 2 October. I placed it into the hands of Eng. DeSanno of the Rhode Island. He it appears gave the receipt to Engineer Williams who lost it. How I will fare remains to be seen.

This morning the “Water Witch” arrived from South West Pass. She took away our 1st Lieutenant Mr. Hughes as her commander. She also informed us that the “Potomac” would relieve us as soon as she could get here from Ship Island. We are to go to the S. W. Pass. We were most shamefully driven off there some time since by the ironclad battering ram. Our officers—Capt. Handy [of the Vincennes] & [Capt.] Pope [of the Richmond]—showed themselves base cowards. The “Water Witch” distinguished herself & got all the laurels. [See Battle of the Head of Passes] I got several letters from home by the Rhode Island that pleased me much.

November 4, 1861—Ship Island. Last evening the frigate “Potomac” came from Ship Island to relieve us. We left Mobile this morning at 3:30 o’clock & arrived at this island at 12 o’clock. We were piloted in by a master from the “Massachusetts.” We draw 18.5 feet & the water was only 3.5 fathoms. Ship Island & its surroundings are very beautiful. The day was a most beautiful one & this evening the sky all around was a most lovely purple from refraction. This is the nicest nook of a place I have seen for a long time. We formed here. The USS Massachusetts, Cuyler, & USS National Guard. Our forces are taking possession of the place, building batteries, &c. We are coaling ship.

November 6. Today the SS Rhode Island came in. I sent home several letters. In the afternoon, I went ashore in company with several officers to view the place. Ship Island has been in the possession of the enemy. It was once the intention of the Government to build a fort upon it and the fortification was commenced and partly built up sufficient to mount one tier of guns. The fort is small and built with casemates. We took possession of it & have strengthened it by means of sand bags. We have in process of mounting four 9-inch guns. The island is a mere sand bank. The rebels burnt all their buildings & set fire to the light house before they left. We have a guard of about 70 men now on it & will have more. We found the Lieutenant in command drunk. Of course he was dismissed as he deserved. Lieut. F. of our ship was ordered to the command of the mariners. We could ship for two days—or are to.

November 7. We left Ship Island last night at 12 o’clock, overhauled the coal ship “Kuhn” & spoke the “Richmond” off Pass a L’outre. The “Vincent” was off S. East Pass. We arrived off S. W. Pass at sundown & found here the “Niagara,” to the inside of which we came to anchor. We are lying near the bar. The weather has been most delicious for several days.

November 8—Off South West Pass. The appearances of this place are dreary in the extreme. Yellow, dirty water that is thrown into numerous “tide rips” or counter currents, like some vast eddy or boiling caldron. The land is in little hummocks—like bogs in a swamp. Take it all in all, never was there a more unsociable looking spot. The Com. has ordered us to Pensacola to relieve the Colorado who will take this berth intended for us. Yesterday we all expected to remain here for months to come. The news for remaining at Pensacola was almost too good to believe. We leave for the latter place this afternoon. So goodbye old yellow water. This is the second time I have seen you.

November 9—Off Pensacola. Arrived at Fort Pickens this morning and anchored near to our old position. We found here the Colorado and Fear Not. Called on the medical officers of the Colorado. This place looks natural—no change appearing since we left it in July last. May we soon know the enemy as soldiers like I know them.

November 12, 1861—Off Fort Pickens. Yesterday morning after the Colorado started, Col. Brown sent a boat to our ship, having first made a signal to the Colorado who was too far at sea to distinguish it. The bats brought the intelligence that the night before four darkies had made their escape from the enemy and said the Rebels were preparing to make an attack upon Ft. Pickens. They said 4,000 men would be landed upon the island & the batteries opened at the same time. We put to sea to overtake the Colorado but failed to do so. Col. Brown had everything prepared for the attack. Our ship hauled close to the beach within half mile of it so as to command it. Everybody expected a fight but the night passed by without any signs of an attack. I am sorry it did not take place.

This morning on clearing away of the thick fog, we found the “King Fisher” close by. She sailed from Boston. No news.

November 13—Off Pensacola. Yesterday we went to the eastern end of Santa Rosa to see if the Rebels had effected any landing upon it. Nothing could be seen.

November 14. This morning the army transport “George Peabody” arrived from New York. She brings us news up to the 30th ult. Last night Lt. Baker, formerly of the U. S. Marines, deserted from the enemy. He was Assistant Quarter Master in the rebel forces. He says they are suffering greatly for proper food and clothing. He also says many of the officers are sick and tired of the rebel service & would gladly get away. They have between 5 or 6,000 men. No guns of any size. Today we went to Mobile to carry dispatches for the Commodore. Things looked natural. The “Water Witch” took an English coffee ship as a prize. Mr. Baker brings us news of our fleet having captured Savannah. That Columbus, Kentucky, is ours. Also Leesburg, Virginia. Good.

November 17—Off Pensacola. The “Niagara” arrived this morning. Also the “Hatteras” from Philadelphia. We are ordered to Pass á L’Outre to relieve the “Richmond” who is going away to repair the injury done by the Ram. We sail tonight at 2 o’clock. How provoked we are. In case of attack, we won’t be here to partake of the danger and glory. The Peabody sails tomorrow.

November 18. We arrived at Pass á L’Outre this evening at sunset. What a dreary looking spot! Yellow, dirty looking water. “Tide-sips” and low hummocks are our only scenery. The weather is lovely—a full moon and dreamy clouds. We are only to remain two weeks. We shall see how the Commodore’s bona fides is kept.

November 22. The weather for some days has been lovely in extreme. Last night we beat to quarters for a star. Quite a bore! This morning I sent on board the “Vincennes” some 5 or 6 miles distant. Returned late in the afternoon. A squall struck us on our return. Our boat had a narrow escape from being swamped. I was the only officer in it. I feel very thankful for my safety. Dr. [Philip Skinner] Wales and myself performed an operation for fistula ani on a sergeant of Marines.

November 28—Off Pass á L’Outre. Yesterday morning we discovered a bark ashore in Garden Bay near N. E. Pass or S. Pass. The night before, we saw lights and signals but did not understand them. We got under way about noon yesterday & boarded the bark. A boat from the Vincennes had done so early in the morning. We found her to be an English bark—the “Empress” from Hull—with a cargo of Rio coffee, 6100 bags. She evidently tried to run the blockade & will be a good prize.

December 1. This morning the English bark sailed for New York with a prize crew from the “Vincennes” on board of her. The ship “Midnight” also passed our station in the afternoon. She was boarded by the “King Fisher.” The “Connecticut” arrived from New York on Tuesday & yesterday she touched again on her way back.

December 10—Off Pass á L’Outre. On Sunday morning the ship “Pompeso” came in from Pensacola. She brings no news in particular. Today the USS Desoto came from Ship Island and Pensacola. The Constitution from Boston brought 2200 soldiers, being the advance guard of Gen. Butler’s Division. They are landed on Ship Isle. The Desoto brought us a rifled gun—a 20-pounder. She brought quite a number of rifled guns for different ships. A good thing. The news from the North are not striking or startling. I do feel discouraged that so little has been done for the cause of our country but it may be all has been done that could be done.

December 24. The steamer “Rhode Island” arrived this afternoon from New York bringing us news up to till the 5th inst. Of no importance. I received no news from Col. Webb or Dr. [Abraham] Metz. The money I sent home is still unaccounted for. Mr. DeSanno was detached from the Rhode Island just as she was sailing, under charges. I had no letter from him.

December 29. This evening I sent to my Agents—[John] Swift & Brown, Philadelphia—a power of attorney to institute legal proceedings against Wm. P. DeSanno, 1st Asst. Engineer, USN, & all the evidence in my possession. Wrote to Col. Webb requesting his statement to be sworn to & sent to Philadelphia to Mr. Metz requesting the Express Company’s letter be likewise sent them. I reported Mr. DeS. to the Secretary of the Navy on the 28th inst.


January 2, 1862 Yesterday there was quite an excitement on board our ship on account of a secession steamer inside the bar. They set fire to the lighthouse building—for what purpose is not known. We got under way after dusk with great noise and confusion. The “King Fisher” got under way & was towed out by us. This morning we again got under way. The weather is beautiful indeed.

January 5. Yesterday and today were strange days. A thick fog has enveloped everything since yesterday morning. Nothing is visible a few rods from the ship. We have been in a great fright since those vessels came down the river. We thought one to be the fearful Ram & would in all probability run into us. The fog enveloping us increased our fears. Yesterday evening the bell was ordered not be struck, no drum to be beaten, or the band to play. All lights shaded and none allowed on the deck, air ports closed and shaded with paper. To my astonishment this morning about 10 o’clock a gun was fired close by us & a steam whistle blown. We were too much frightened to answer immediately but ginally fired our guns & rang the bell [and] blowed our whistle. In the afternoon we sent a boat out but soon returned. Towards evening the fog lifted a little & the masts of the ship became visible & soon a boat came alongside. It proved to be the USS Desoto. She brought us papers to the 16th ult. News from Great Britain warlike. Very likely hostilities will take place. How very gloomy & fearful this fog is. All beyond a few feet is mystery—unexplored mystery.

January 5, 1862—Off Pass á L’Outre. The fog has at last left us and we can see the horizon once more. This afternoon the U. S. Gunboat “Mercedita” arrived from New York. She brought us letters & & papers up to the 18th ult. I received two letters from the North. No news of battles or advance of our army.

January 9, 1862—At Sea. Last night or rather this morning, the gunboat “Winona” came in from Boston. She brought nothing new. She relieved us and we are now on our way to Fort Pickens. Dr’s. [Robert Toland Maccoun & [Philip S.] Wales of the “Vincennes” & myself today held a Medical Survey on Commander [George] Henry French of the Sloop “Preble” & condemned him [Brain disease]. I am glad to leave Pass á L’Outre. Goodbye for awhile at least to all “Rams” and the fear of them.

January 10—Pensacola. We arrived off Ft. Pickens today at 2 o’clock & found here the U. S. Steamers “Cuyler” & “South Carolina” & the coal ship “Nightingale” all of which were anchored far out, perhaps three miles from shore. The “Cuyler” left this evening for Ship Island. We have rebel news up to the 7th January. We refuse to believe all of it.

January 15, 1862—Off Ft. Pickens. Today I went ashore for the first time since leaving Ship Island, We went ashore to bring off a mail brought this morning by the army transport “Philadelphia” bringing news till 30th ult. A part of the Navy mail was only brought off. The surf running high, we ran considerable risk in coming off. The army surf boat was driven back thrice while our boat got off the first time, not however without shipping much sea. This is my first surf experience. The Fort (Pickens) bears only slight evidences of the recent bombardment. I visited the hospital and made the acquaintance of [US Army] Surgeon [John] Campbell. They live comfortable and seem happy. The news of the day is rather impalatable. The Mason & Slidell [Trent] Affair is a bitter pill for us but I dare say our government did the best that could be done. The “Philadelphia” sailed this evening for New York. I sent a very important letter by her addressed to A. L. R. Cleveland.

January 21, 1862—Off Pensacola. The steamer “Brooklyn” arrived this morning from the North. Capt. [Tunis] Craven is appointed Flag Officer of all the Gulf Squadron west of Pensacola. She brought us papers of the 9th inst.

[January] 26. Last night the “Water Witch” came in from Havana & Key West. Capt. H. is the same old fellow as or yore. A light of a vessel was seen to the eastward after the Water Witch arrived. It was the Connecticut’s light, she having anchored and come in this morning. By her got letters. Better news was all anticipated.

January 31. We left Pensacola last night at 12 o’clock for the East Pass to see about some vessel that Col. Brown believed or suspected was about running the blockade. We came here about 10 o’clock having chased a bark (Nay) on the way. We found one of our schooners inside, an expedition consisting of the Launch and 1st Cutler & boat from the schooner about 60 men, two howitzers, and a squad of Marines. 1st Lieutenant & Acting Master Chase, Lt. of the Marines Fontani, Midshipman [John R.] Bartlett, Master’s mate Long, and myself. Was fitted out to take or destroy the schooner. We left & passed through the heavy surf but grounded on shoals. We finally got safely into the channel which is a narrow passage of water perhaps three-quarters or 1 mile long. The mainland shore is a steep precipitous bluff from 10 to 15 or 25 feet high lined with a thick chaparral. The Santa Rose side is low and sandy. The channel runs close to the bluff. After we got into it about a quarter mile, the schooner’s boat which was ahead was fired into from some concealed enemy on the bluff. We rounded to & fired our howitzer. The 1st Cutler did the same. The schooner’s men beached their boat on Santa Rosa. We returned the fire, but fearing our retreat would be cut off, we returned & got safely on board. The enemy fired some field piece & a perfect shower of balls. One [ ] struck the boats of the schooner, doing no injury. Nobody hurt.

February 8. Yesterday morning the Connecticut was in the briny at daylight. She sailed for the North in the morning. We learned by 4 deserters last night that a battle had been fought in Kentucky [Mill Springs] in which the Union army was completely victorious. Good. We long for particulars. A schooner with fruit arrived this evening from Havana, bring[ing] no news at all. Yesterday morning a tugboat from Ship Island arrived & was ordered immediately to Key West for army stores for the post at Ship Island. I sent a few lines to A. K. [Amelia Kent]. In the afternoon, I in company with several officers visited the fort & had a good time. Today the coal ship “Fear Not” arrived from Tortugas bringing papers up to the 28th ult.

February 18. This has been a day of gloom for this ship. We lost a man—the first in the cruise. Our mail being ashore, we sent a boat to get it. There being a very heavy surf, the boat was swamped & the crew—save Rudolph Block [a 22 year-old foreign-born “O. S.”, Ordinary Seaman from Massachusetts]—were picked up by a boat from shore which came to the rescue just in time to save the rest, they being nearly exhausted. Mr. Chase was only saved by the mailbag. The body has not been recovered. Poor fellow.

We have good news from Kentucky & Gen. Burnside. By a flag of truce, we obtained a rebel newspaper—the “Charleston Mercury“—of the 13th inst. It gave the particulars of the capture of Fort Henry & the battle & taking of Roanoke Island.

February 20—Off Ft. Pickens, Santa Rosa Island. Last night the wind shifted to the north and has been cold all day. The boat that rescued our men two days since was swamped itself & one man drowned in returning to shore. The army transport bark “Eagle” left today for Key West having on board Col. Harvey Brown & several other officers [from Fort Pickens] all going home. Col. Brown is about worn out—the long confinement and hard duty together with chronic disease have done their work. Maj. (now Brig Gen.) [Lewis G.] Arnold, succeeds him. This evening a Swedish brig came in in distress from Mexico to Liverpool. Her crew are all sick.

February 22—Off Pensacola. Today was the natal day of Washington—the great Washington. Could only his spirit return to earth & with its unbounded power & goodness quell this fearful fraternal strife. The ship displayed the American ensign from the fore and mizzen & peak. A long pennant at the main & the jack on bowsprit. All the other vessels in port displayed their bunting. In the morning the Rhode Island & Cuyler came in simultaneously—the former from Philadelphia, the latter from Ship Island. The news brought by the Rhode Island is up to the 5th inst. & of course is all anticipated. The Cuyler tells us of the arrival of Flag Officer Farragut in the Hartford. McKean is going home in the Niagara. The squadron is divided: west of St. Andrew’s Bay is under Farragut. Both coasts of the peninsula forms another squadron. I received but one letter & that informed me of the hopelessness of my recovering the $300. [William P.] DeSanno seems to be a rascal of the first noted.

This has been a beautiful day. For more than a week the weather has been exceedingly unsettled. Rough sea, damp decks, & other disagreeable affects of rain and stormy weather. I learn by the Rhode Island that Mr. DeSanno is not yet dismissed from the service as reported. He has not been tried yet by a court martial.

February 24, 1862—Off Pensacola. We sent a boat ashore this morning to bring off a mail left at Fort Pickens by the Rhode Island on the 22nd—the surf since then being too heavy for our boats. I had the good fortune to get a letter from my friend Miss R. The Swedish brig today went to sea for Key west. The ship “Fear Not” gave her 4 men to assist sailing her. The weather has been beautiful today. Would it only continue so for the rest of the month.

February 28. This morning the “Philadelphia” army transport arrived having sailed from New York on the 13th inst. She confirms the report of the battles of Fort Henry & Roanoke Island. She also brought a mail but unfortunately nothing came for me. I accompanied Capt. [Thomas Oliver] Selfridge on special invitation on shore paying our respects to Gen. [Lewis G.] Arnold. The weather is beautiful.

March 2, 1862—Off Pensacola. Yesterday afternoon the steamer Philadelphia sailed for New York. As she passed by our ship, our band struck up “Hail Columbia” to which the Philadelphia replied by cheering. Our boys then manned the rigging & returned the cheer. She took our mail and one letter for me to D. K. Yesterday a boat from the fort came off and gave us the delightful news of the capture of Fort Donelson with 13,000 prisoners and the evacuation of Bowling Green. The news was brought over by four “contrabands” who made their escape the night previous. I trust it may prove true. Today has been a fine one but in the afternoon a wind from the south set in and increased gradually till now making the sea unusually rough. We will doubtless have a “Norther” & from appearances a severe one. I was occupied in writing today. I wrote one letter to my folks, another to Miss K[ent], and read the service.

March 7—At Sea. Last night 8 bells the Rhode Island returned bringing news of the great battle at Fort Donelson. She brought us a paper of the 21st ult. She also brought a mail—one letter for me—and our orders to proceed to Pass á L’Outre at once. It appears that something will be done soon on the Mississippi. Our ship is to be lightened up so that she may pass over the bar. The “Vincennes” and “New London” are to relieve us at Pensacola. We left the latter place this morning at about 10 o’clock. We just now—8 P. M.—passed and spoke the ship “National Guard” bound for Ship Island. It was a beautiful sight to see her with all sails spread in the moonlight. It has been very cold indeed today & last night.

March 8. We arrived in sight of the shipping off Pass á L’Outre this morning & saluted the Commodore, &c. We found there the Hartford—Flag Ship, Brooklyn, Pensacola, Mercedita, and the Kennebec who arrived there from Boston at the same time we did. The Mercedita left for the other port of the Gulf. We were ordered to proceed to Ship Island to take out everything to bring her draught as low down as possible to ensure our going over the bar. The affair will not come off yet for some time.

March 9—Ship Island. We left Pass á L’Outre yesterday evening & arriving in the offing last night where we lay all day till 4 o’clock P. M. when we came where we now are just outside the bar at Ship Island. The gunboat “Kineo” spoke us today and informed us that Capt. Selfridge had been relieved by Capt. Smith. The Richmond is here. The gunboat “Pinola” arrived from the North today.

March 10. We passed over the bar this morning striking [bottom] several times. We got the ship “Fear Not” along side discharging coal into her. The “Harriet Lane” arrived today bringing Capt. [David Dixon] Porter. Plenty of visitors today.

March 11—Ship Island. I went ashore this afternoon to see the soldiers & camps. There have been great changes since I was ashore before in November last. The greater part of Porter’s bomb-fleet arrived today. The Pensacola also arrived from the passes.

March 12. It rained nearly all day and was cold. The steamer “Constitution” arrived from Fortress Monroe today bringing 2700 troops—Iowa, Wisconsin, and Indiana Regiments—& news up to the 5th inst.

March 14. Captain Selfridge left yesterday in the steamer Fulton for home. It has been a rainy, disagreeable day. This causing a violent gale set in & is now raging with great violence.

March 15. The storm was very severe all night and today it has been cold. Porter’s bomb fleet sailed this afternoon for the Mississippi River. The Constitution is to sail this evening. I sent a letter to K. by her. I visited the Pensacola, Richmond, and Colorado today.

March 19. The tug boats of Porter’s (supposed lost) arrived yesterday two days ago and left again. The “Flag” comes to yesterday.

March 23, 1862—Southwest Pass. We left Ship Island this morning at six o’clock and have just now 8 o’clock P M. dropped our anchor off south west pass. We shaved the Chandeleur [Islands] closely as well as the different passes being short of coal and head winds. It has been very cold & disagreeable all day.

March 25. Yesterday we tried to get over the bar but failed, being fast on shore for several hours. This morning we tried it again with the same success. We are now fast ashore midway (on the bar), our bow pointing too far to starboard. The Pensacola is aground on our port quarter. Wonder when we’ll be off?

March 26. We have been hard at work all day. We had the assistance of several tugs & gunboats. We parted all our housers [howitzers] but one. We finally got over the worst part of the bar but our ship took a steer to starboard where we are now high and dry aground. The sloop “Oneida” arrived today.

April 1. We are yet ashore but in such a position as to be almost certain of getting off. During the last day or two quite a number of vessels arrived here, among the number the Colorado, Oneida, Iroquois, Verona, &c. Today the Connecticut came in bringing us letters & fresh provisions. I received three letters. One of them contained the gratifying news that the $300 believed as lost has been recovered and in a fair way of being so. The other two were from Dr. Metz & Wille K.

April 6. Today I went ashore to visit Pilot town. We arrived at this deserted village yesterday morning, having passed the bar safely after about 10 days of great labor and trouble. Pilot town is a small village of 25 or 30 houses built on piles—a bayou running through its center. I also visited one of Porter’s bomb or mortar vessels. Was much pleased with it.

April 10—Pilot Town. This morning the steamer Connecticut returned from Texas & passed to the head of the passes to which place we followed here this afternoon. I sent three letters by the Connecticut—one to A. K[ent], Dr. M., and Swift & Brown.

April 11, 1862—Head of the Passes. This evening the steamer Connecticut left for New York. Several schooners laden with coal and stores arrived. There is a French Man-of-War lying near us—the “Milan.” Nothing has taken place yet of importance that looks like battle. The bomb fleet are all here. One of them tried its song this morning. The river is wide here, banks low and swampy.

April 15. Yesterday afternoon quite unexpectedly we received orders to proceed up the river & about 9 o’clock we came to anchor where we now are, 5 or 6 miles from the forts [Forts Jackson and St. Philip]. This morning the bomb fleet arrived. This afternoon the “Richmond” and also an English Man-of-War. The river is very deep, perhaps 150 or 200 feet. There was a trial made today of certain “infernal machines” [underwater torpedoes] upon a raft of logs. It was effectual.

April 16. Early this morning we got underway & followed the Oneida for about 1.5 or 2 miles. We then crossed the river and anchored under the lea of a wooded point on the right bank. The gunboat Kennebec opened fire & drew the enemy’s fire. We are in range now of their guns. Two of Porter’s boats arrived [and] we got into position on the opposite side of the river and opened fire. Several of their shells exploded nearby the fort (Jackson) & one went way beyond. The distance from here to the forts is between 2 and 3 miles.

April 17. This morning I was aroused from sleep by the confusion of loud talking and running on deck caused by the coming down of a fire raft. It looked rather formidable, blazing and snapping in the grey light of morn. As we lay directly in its course, we heaved up anchor & fired on it. In the afternoon there was a spirited skirmish between our gunboats & the enemy without injury to us. In the evening another fire raft was sent down. Our boats put it out & towed it away from the ships. Porter’s bombers have busied all day disguising themselves by tying green boughs to their mast heads to make them look like trees.

Sketch of mortar boats in foreground with trees attached to masts and ships, fire, and smoke in the background. “Civil War Photo. Admiral Farragut’s Fleet starting to attack Forts Jackson and St. Philips on Mississippi River below New Orleans. Shows mortar Boats commanded by Admiral D. D. Porter. The mortar Boats are disguised with branches of trees tied to the mast heads to deceive the Confederates.

April 18. This morning the “bombers” were towed into position—that is, they were ranged along the right bank of the river creeping along as far as possible close to the bank. Four of them took their position on the opposite side of the river. At about 8 o’clock the firing commenced from our bombs. It was returned by the forts & revel steamers. Our gunboats took an active part also. The beautiful sloop “Iroquois” was under fire all day & did good execution. Early in the engagement the enemy sent down a fire raft but our boats towed it ashore. Shortly after, another was set adrift but lodged of itself. In an hour the fire from the forts slackened & it was only occasionally returned during the day. Before sundown, a fire was bursting from the fort (Jackson) but whether it was our shells that caused the fire or their own maneuvers cannot be told from where we lay. At dark, the fire ceased. During the engagement the flag officer telegraphed that Norfolk was taken—the news having just come by Gen. Butler from Ship Island.

April 19—Below Ft. Jackson, Mississippi River. Today will ever be memorable, to myself at least. The firing reopened this morning. The enemy returning briskly. The four “bombers” ranged on the left bank were withdrawn as the enemy had guns bearing directly upon them. I understand all were struck. Yesterday one had a man killed. Yesterday a bomber was sunk by a shot through her magazine. There are two “bombers” disabled. The “Oneida” had one of her 11-inch guns dismounted. The firing from the forts is good & long-ranged. Ours is wild—the bombs not falling accurately. The bombardment was kept up all night slowly. It is a beautiful sight to see. Little shooting stars up, up, till they seem to come in collision with the true ones in the heavens, then fall like a meteor. The enemy did not return the fire during the night. From the great distance we are from the fort, we can see no injury, if any, has been done by our shells.

April 20—Below Fort Jackson. The bombardment was continued all last night & today. The gunboats also were actively engaged. No casualty as far as I know. A deserter from Ft. Jackson gave us intelligence respecting the strength & position of the rebels. It seems our bombs are doing good execution but not as good a I like to see. The weather was pleasant in the morning but turned into a disagreeable Norther in the evening. The wind may affect the range of our guns. An expedition is being fitted out to cut or destroy the chain that stretches across the river tonight. This was a strange Sabbath indeed.

A Currier & Ives print of the bombardment of Forts Jackson and St. Philips

April 21. Last night was a fearful one. Porter’s fleet were actively engaged, their fire was grand and sublime. Not a moment passed without being broken by the fearful report of a mortar & the meteor like trail arc of the shells—sometimes as many as 8 bombs at one time—were indeed beautiful to behold; not unlike bright shooting stars. The firing was greatest from 10 to 12 o’clock. It was kept up to cover the expedition spoken of yesterday. At 2 o’clock A. M. a fire raft came down and in the confusion the gunboat “Kineo” fouled the “Scioto” and the latter drifted across our bow dismasting her of her mainmast while the fire raft was afoul of her. She came near being fired as well as we. The confusion was dreadful. Today the wind still continues high. Our mortars are keeping up a steady slow fire. The enemy’s fire is occasionally rapid & hot, then it ceases. No casualties today as I know of. The expedition was successful.

April 22. The bombardment was continued all last night and today. How much execution those ponderous shells so, no one knows, but it must be fearful if they strike in the forts. Many of the gunboats took out their masts making them thus a smaller object to hit.

April 23. The bombardment continued all night with the same slow, steady fierceness. It was intended to have made the attack last night at 11 P. M. but our carpenters and those of “Brooklyn” were absent, having been carried to Pilot Town by the gunboat “Scioto.” Carpenters being quite important personages during a battle, it was postponed till tomorrow night.

April 24—Quarantine Station above the Forts. 10 o’clock A. M. The fight is over and victory ours. Oh what a fearful night that was (April 24th). I trust I may be spared the pain of witnessing another like this. My God, what thunder & crashing. We made the attack in 3 divisions. Our ship was the 3rd ship of the advancing divisions. The little gunboat “Cayuga” was first. The “Pensacola” next, the “Mississippi” next. We left our anchorage at 2 o’clock A. M. and by 8 we were at the Quarantine [Station] some 8 miles above. We took the “Ram” & sank her. The enemy lost 10 steamers sunk or burned. All our large vessels escaped safely save the Varuna & 6 gunboats besides. A considerable number of soldiers were taken prisoners at the Quarantine.

At 10 A. M. today we left for New Orleans, one company with the entire fleet. The Varuna was sunk just above the Quarantine. As we sailed up the beautiful river, the darkies cheered us in perfect ecstasies. We neared the “English turn” towards evening and anchored for the night, burying our killed which were only two corporals of the marines. Six others slightly wounded. We were struck about 20 times. One solid shot struck just above water line on the port side passing through the berth deck & bulk head and fell spent near the cylinder in the engine room where I had the pleasure of picking it up and carrying it out. One went through the Captain’s cabin, several through our sides and hammock netting. One went through the mizzen mast.

April 25. About 8 o’clock we were fired upon by two batteries on either side of the river in sight of the city at “Slaughter House Point” and after a brilliant and terrible cannonade, we drove the enemy flying like sheep. Our vessels never once stopped. As we neared the city, the shipping and cotton wharves were fired & [ ] down. The air was full with thick black smoke & a heavy rainstorm at the same time. It was a fearful morning. At about 12 midday, we anchored off the custom house, our broadsides grinning terribly over the city. The levee & shores, notwithstanding the rain, were lined with people. The earthworks at the point were very extensive but unfinished. Last evening we were ordered to return to the Quarantine Station to protect our gunboats there.

April 26. We anchored last night about 15 or 20 miles above the Quarantine [Station]. Early in the morning we got under way & beat to quarters as soon as we came in sight because a rebel steamer was just coming up with a flag of truce. It was the McRae who struck her flag on the night of the battle, but got away in the confusion & disgracefully hid herself. She asked permission to go to New Orleans to take up her wounded & sick. It was granted but she afterwards never reported.

April 27—Quarantine Station Mississippi River. Nothing new today. Gen. Butler’s troops were being landed from the Bay through the bayou in boats to the Quarantine. The 25th Massachusetts Regiment were landed. I was ashore & took a look at the place. The French Man-of-War “Milan” came by the forts this evening on her way to New Orleans. She anchored along side & her commander came on board & congratulated us on our victory.

April 28. Today the “Cayuga” returned from the city. Negotiations going on between the flag officer & the authorities of the city. Last night between 3 and 400 men deserted from both forts. We got under way and now anchored near them. These rebel steamers are along side as prizes. I am astonished that we ever succeeded in passing these forts. We certainly were favored by Providence. The forts are now being garrisoned by our men. How glad to see the Stars & Stripes once more over the places where they were intended forever to float. The rebel ram Louisiana was blown up before the forts surrendered.

April 29—Off New Orleans. This morning we again came to anchor off New Orleans. Since we left, we have had quite a cruise. we received orders while at the Quarantine to proceed to Pilot Town & fill up with coal & provisions. We did so & returned to the city on Wednesday. Yesterday we were ordered to follow the Brooklyn, Richmond, & Hartford up the river. We went up about 50 miles when the order was countermanded. The plantations are indeed fine along the river. At one place we were greeted by several ladies & gentlemen by waving of handkerchiefs & the American flag. We gave them three cheers. The Rhode Island sailed for the North yesterday. There are now here the Pensacola and Portsmouth besides several gunboats. The city is quiet and I intend going on shore & taking a look at the city today.


March 22, 1863—Ship Island on Board the Fair Haven. Day before yesterday I very unexpectedly received orders to return to the North in the steamer Fair Haven in charge of he sick of the squadron & the Harriet Lane‘s men. We left the wharf at New Orleans about 5 o’clock P. M. yesterday. The river banks and plantations looked green and decked wit flowers. I half regretted notwithstanding my long sojourn at New Orleans to leave. How strangely do we contract ties for persons and places. We came to anchor at Pass á L’Outre at 4 o’clock, having passed the forts at midnight. A crowd of thoughts pass through my brain at the sight of the old pass & mud lumps of Pass á L’Outre. For two long foggy months—January and February 1862—did we lay at anchor off this place. Today we encountered a heavy sea & most of the passengers & men paid the usual tribute. We cast anchor in the harbor about 4 o’clock P. M. I met my old friend [James] Stillwell, Commander of the gunboat Pinola. Ft. Massachusetts has grown up to new structure from the eap of ruins of the old.

March 23—US Transport Steamer Fair Haven off Ship Island. The weather being thick and threatening, it was deemed best to remain at anchor. We have been put to it to find comfort and amusement for ourselves. The vessel rolls like crazy. It has been raining and blowing all day—first from the east, then southwest, and now from the northward.

March 24, 1863—Pensacola Harbor. Left Ship Island one o’clock last night. Sea rather heavy—lightning, and thunder, and rain. Slept badly. Arrived off Mobile at 10 o’clock A. M. Found the Colorado, Lackawana, Cuyler, Aroostook, Kinnebeck, & two other gunboats name unknown. Heavy swell. Had a stiff breeze. Arrived at this anchorage at 4:30 o’clock P. M. Found here the Susquehanna, Bienville, Pocahontas. Called on Com. [Robert B.] Hitchcock on board the Susquehanna [and] Smith of the Navy Yard. The former was indeed a fine gentleman. We rolled fearfully as we came into the harbor. The Navy Yard is all in ruins. It must have been a fine place once.

March 25, 1863—At Sea. Today I put the sick ashore at the Naval Hospital at Pensacola Navy Yard. There were 8 in all—six from the USS Mississippi. It is shocking to behold the ruins of so beautiful a place as this Navy Yard once was. Everything was burned by the rebels before they left. The pillars and chimneys left standing are suggestive of the runs of some ancient city. We left the Nay Yard at 5 o’clock this evening and we are now going with a fair wind for Key West. It is moonlight & the sea is a little rough but lovely.

March 26—At Sea. The fair wind we started with soon left us. All day a head wind has prevailed diminishing our speed very greatly. Nothing of importance occurred today.

March 27—At Sea. Head wind stronger than ever. Sea rough & our frail little vessel rolls considerably. Speed very slow.

March 28. Head wind strong. Vessel tossing greatly. Speed very slow.

March 29—Key West, Florida. We arrived in the offing this morning at daylight. Went ashore at 11 o’clock. Weather very warm. Dined on board the frigate “Vanderbilt.” Key West has changed considerably, Has become more Americanized and more cleanly but has lost nothing of its tropical appearance. The oleanders & the jessamines and the cacti are blooming in all their glory & exuberance. How changed the surrounding, however, since I was here last. I am pained as I recall the past. I called on Missis G. and Ms. Fontene.

March 30. Today I have been busy assisting Mr. Moses in his requisitions. The paroled men refused to coal ship on conscientious scruples. Admiral Bailey come on board and talked to them. They agreed to work. I visited the Flag Ship St. Lawrence and the gunboat Octorara. I went on shore this afternoon and bought a couple of large sponges. It is very hot here indeed.

March 31—At Sea. We left Key West this afternoon about 4 o’clock. The weather looks threatening. Wind hauled to the west and northwest. The body of Lieut. Commander [Andrew Boyd] Cummings was taken on shore at Key West today and buried by the order of Admiral [Theodorus] Bailey. For several days it had been noticed that bad stench pervaded the lower deck where his body was and where the men slept. In fact, many complained of headache & nausea. This morning the smell was exceedingly offensive and I reported the fact to Mr. Moses & Admiral Bailey. I fumigated the deck, scrubbed it well and sprinkled chloride of lime over it. I met Doctor Loos [?] today and went with him on shore. We are making fast time now with a fair wind. Well the faster the better with me.

April 1—at Sea This day will long remain a memorial one. The fair wind I was speaking of last evening changed during the night & became a “Norther” directly ahead. The wind blowing against the Gulf stream, flowing in a contrary direction, produces a very ugly sea at all times. It has produced one now—truly fearful. Our frail little vessel of 500 tons tossed & pitched like a cork or feather. It seemed as if the seas would certainly swallow her at every minute. We saw two sail today—both brigs, one going north, the other south.

April 2—at Sea. This day has been a beautiful one. The sea sank to a comfortable swell during the night and the wind became less and less and finally died away. In the afternoon it veered to the westward and south and now it is breezing quite friskily at the rate of of about 9 or 10 knots an hour.

April 3—at Sea. Another fearful night was passed. It was quite equal to day before yesterday. The wind freshened after sundown and by 7 or 8 bells it blew strongly. During the night our little vessel fairly flew, but rolling heavily. I was up half a dozen times. Could not sleep. The wind howled and whistled and the sails flapped and the vessel cracked and groaned & other fearful noises were speaking in the loudest terms. It moderated after daylight & towards midday it died away into a gentle breeze. We sighted the “light ship” off Port Royal at one o’clock P. M. East anchor in the harbor at 4 or 5 o’clock P. M. We found here the frigate Wabash, several gunboats, & two French vessels. The ironclad fleet under Admiral DuPont left yesterday for Charleston, South Carolina. We lost one top mast by fouling with the line of battleship “Vermont” today. It is blowing a fearful “Norther” just now.

April 4—at Port Royal. The scenery of Port Royal Harbor is not very striking here—low, sandy points on either side, being about the only things visible here. There were quite a number of small craft in the harbor. I visited the Wabash today. What a magnificent ship she is. What a luxury to go to sea in her. I saw Dr. McS. We took on board sixteen sick men from the line of battleship “Vermont.” We sailed this afternoon about one o’clock for New York. At sundown we passed the steamer “Ericson” of Stono Inlet. The weather is beautiful but rather cold.

April 5—at Sea. We passed Charleston at 8 o’clock last evening. Today we have a fair wind and we made good time. Our carpenters were busy making a new foretop mast which we sent up this afternoon. We have the wind directly aft with square sails set. Making 9 or 10 knots an hour.

April 6. A beautiful day it has been indeed. A smooth sea & mild atmosphere. In the afternoon a small steamer passed us going south. A brig has given us a race all day. We have just doubled Cape Hatteras.

April 7—At Sea north of Hatteras. To my great surprise on awakening this morning, I found a “head wind” instead of the fair one blowing when I retired last evening. It blew a “Northeastern” all day long with a chilliness I have not felt for a long time. How sensitive I am to cold! Four sail were visible at once this morning, all but one standing to the north. This afternoon two were seen inside of us, likewise standing northward. At noon today we were 40 miles to the southward of Cape Henry.

April 8—at Sea. Last night the wind hauled to the northeast and blew briskly until morning. Up to noon it was exceedingly disagreeable. Towards evening it hauled to the westward again and we are now making tolerable good time with fore and aft sails set. At Meridian today we were 150 miles from New York. If luck favors is, we will be in port tomorrow.

April 9—Off New York Harbor & at anchor in harbor. It was doubtful last evening if we should make New York Harbor today but by the skin of our teeth we did make it. How glad I was when the Jersey Highlands came in sight. It looked like the enchanted realms of a fairy tale. The low point of Sandy Hook soon after rose above the water, A strong head wind, cold as blazes, was blowing all day. The narrows and Staten Island seemed a paradise. We cast our anchor at the Navy Yard, went ashore and reported to Admiral [Hiram] Paulding. He ordered me to rest on land content tonight. Tomorrow I will dispose of my sick people and ask for a leave to go to Washington after which I’m for the West to see my friends there. I am very impatient to see them. What will A. L K. [Amelia L. Kent] think of me? Will my hopes be realized or not? Shall I be happy or not? That’s the question—nous verrons [we will see].

The first page of Shively’s Journal will give readers an idea of the author’s handwriting.

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