Skip to content

1863 February 14: Charleston Harbor and Other Naval News

February 14, 2013

The following news items are from the February 14, 1863, issue of The Polk County Press.  The attack on Fort McAllister by the Union ironclad Montauk was probably the one which took place on February 1, 1863.  The Montauk had previously attacked the Fort on January 27, 1863.  The ironclad sustained no damage either day.

The News.

A letter from Key West states that the British neutral blockade runner Antonica, with a cargo of powder,  from England, was captured off Mobile, by the United States steamer Pocahontas.

A British vessel loaded with cannon, steam-engines for gunboats, rifles, powder, &c., was recently captured in attempting to run the blockade at Charleston.

The rebel Gen. Magruder has declared the port of Galveston open to all nations.  [John B. Magruder]

Com. Bell has met Magruders procmation [sic: Magruder’s proclamation] with one stating that that port is thoroughly blockaded.


NEW YORK, Feb. 3.—The “Herald” publishes the following dispatches:

CHARLESTON, Feb. 1.—Gen. Beauregard [P.G.T. Beauregard] and Com. Ingraham, as commanders of the land forces, have issued a joint proclamation, dated Jan. 21, declaring the blockade of Charleston raised, the entire hostile squadron having been sunk, burned or dispersed by the superior naval force of the confederates.

Yesterday P. M., Gen. Beauregard placed a steamer at the disposal of the foreign consuls, to see for themselves, that no blockade existed.  The French and Spanish consuls, accompanied by Gen. Ripley, accepted the invitation.  The British consul, with the commander of the British war steamer Petrel, had previously gone five miles beyond the usual anchorage of the blockaders and could see nothing of them with glasses.  Late in the evening, four blockaders reappeared, keeping far out.  This evening a large number of blockaders are in sight, but keep steam up constantly, ready to run.

Duncan N. Ingraham, from the Library of Congress (see footnote 1)

Duncan N. Ingraham, from the Library of Congress

OFFICIAL PROCLAMATION OF BEAUREGARD.—Headquarters Naval and Land Forces, Charleston, Jan. 21.—At about five o’clock this morning the Confederate naval force on this station attacked the U. S. blockading fleet off the harbor of the city of Charleston, and sunk, disabled, or drove off and out of sight, for the time, the entire hostile fleet.  Therefore we, the undersigned, commanders of the naval and land forces in this quarter, do hereby declare the blockade by the United States of the said city of Charleston, S. C., to be raised by the superior forces of the Confederate States, from and after this the 21st of January, 1863.

(Signed)     P. G. T. BEAUREGARD
Gen. Commanding.
(Official)   N. D. [sic] INGRAHAM,¹
Commander Naval Force.

The results of the naval engagement yesternay [sic] are two vessels sunk, four set on fire and the remainder driven away.

The foreign counsuls here had a meeting last night, and were unanimously of the opinion that the blockade had been raised.  Twenty blockaders are off the bar to day.


From intelligence received at the Navy Department it seems that the rebel reports are greatly exagerated [sic], and that the blockade has not been raised.

It is expected that within ten days there will be no further need of a blockade at Charleston harbor, as a large land and naval expedition is enroute to lay seige [sic] to Charleston and Savannah.

NEW YORK, Feb. 3.—The bark Restless from Port Royal reports that she passed on the 31st ult, off Cape Fear, a portion of Gen. Foster’s expedition from Beaufort for Port Royal, consisting of six steamers.  The Restless brings nine passengers who were aboard the rebel steamer Huntress, burned off Charleston.

NEW YORK, Feb. 4.—The Richmond “Dispatch” contains a telegram, dated Savannah, 1st, which states that the federal fleet consisting of 1-turret iron-clad, 4 gunboats and 1 mortar boat, attacked Fort McAllister that morning.  Firing continued till 2:30 P. M., when the enemy retired whipped.  The bombardment was more fruitless than before.  The only person killed, was Major John B. Grady, commander of the Fort.

A Charleston dispatch of the 31st, gives an account of the capture of the gunboat Smith.²  A force of artillery of 21 guns surrounded her in Stono river, eight miles from Charleston.  The engagement lasted one hour, when she surrendered unconditionally, with 180 men.  The Smith had 8 killed and 15 wounded.


Dispatches from rebel sources, stated that the turret of the Erricsson [sic] iron-clad, the Montauk, had been injured in an engagement with Fort McAllister, on the Georgia coast.  The following, which should have been received, sets the story at rest and shows that the Montauk fully answers the high expectations formed of her.

WASHINGTON, Feb. 2.—The Navy Department has received the following dispatch:

FORTRESS MONROE, Feb. 2.—A bearer of dispatches left Port Royal, Friday noon.  He says there is no truth in the report of the Montauk being disabled at Fort McAllister.  Commander Worden [John L. Worden] lay under the enemy’s fire for four hours, to try his vessel.  Balls had no more effect upon her than so many hail-stones.

Nothing had been heard of the capture of the Smith, in Stono river, when the dispatch-messenger left.

1.  Duncan Nathaniel Ingraham (1802-1891) was a career naval officer, serving in the United States Navy since the age of 10. In 1855 he received a Gold Medal from the U.S. Congress and in 1855 he was commissioned a captain. In February of 1861, before the Civil War broke out, he resigned from the U.S. Navy to join the Confederacy. He served as the commandant of the Charleston naval station from 1862 to 1865. The photograph is from the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.
2.  The USS Issac Smith was the only warship in the Civil War to be captured by enemy land forces. On January 30, 1863, she was caught in a cross fire from masked shore batteries. Disabled by accurate fire and with her deck covered with wounded men, her captain surrendered the ship rather than risk their lives. She then served the Confederate Navy in Charleston waters under the name Stono until June 5, 1863, when she will be wrecked near Fort Moultrie in the Charleston Harbor while attempting to run the blockade with a load of cotton.
3.  We last heard about John Ericsson and John L. Worden back in March 1862 at the Battle of Hampton Roads.

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: