51st Congress, Senate. Ex. Doc.
1st Session. No. 22.
History From Organization, 1799
to Present Date.
Henry B. Hibben, A.M.
Chaplain, US Navy
Government Printing Office.
[Table of Contents]
[List of Appendices]
[Map - 1800]
[Map - 1890]
THE SECRETARY OF THE NAVY,
In response to Senate resolution of December 12, 1889, Chaplain Hibben's
History of the Washington Navy Yard.
DECEMBER 16, 1889.--Laid on the table.
JANUARY 7, 1890.--Referred to the Committee on Naval Affairs and ordered to be printed.
Washington, December 13, 1889.
SIR: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of an attested copy of the resolution adopted by the Senate of the United States on the 12th instant, requesting the Secretary of the Navy "to transmit to the Senate the history of the Washington Navy-Yard, prepared recently by Chaplain H. B. Hibben, U.S. Navy, by order of the commandant of that yard, Capt. R. W. Meade, with the approval of the Navy Department," and, in compliance therewith, to transmit the report desired.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
B. F. TRACY,
Secretary of the Navy.
The Hon. LEVI P. MORTON,
Vice President of the United States and
President of the Senate.
NAVY-YARD, WASHINGTON, D.C.,
October 15, 1889.
SIR: By order of the commandant of Washington Navy-Yard, and with the approval of the Navy Department, I have prepared a history of the said navy-yard from its origin to the present time, and have turned it over for supervision, etc., to the commanding officer of the yard, Captain Meade, preparatory to its publication by the Navy Department.
I desire respectfully to state to the Secretary of the Navy in regard to said history:
First. It has been prepared entirely from the official manuscripts, books, and documents of the Navy Department, and is therefore reliable history.
Second. It contains interesting historical matter connected with the war of 1812, and also with our late civil war, never before published, as well as important corrections of verdicts pronounced by standard histories, on a partial knowledge of the facts in the case, condemning a former Secretary of the Navy and Captain Tingey, a distinguished naval officer.
I have endeavored to avoid dry detail so far as possible, and I believe the history will prove to be of general interest as well as a useful addition to our naval literature.
The preparation of the book has required much time, labor, and patience in searching through hundreds of manuscript volumes, many with imperfect indices, for the subject-matter. I hope it will prove to be deserving of all the labor that it has cost.
I am, respectfully, your obedient servant,
HENRY B. HIBBEN,
Chaplain, U.S. Navy.
Hon. SECRETARY OF THE NAVY,
Navy Department, Washington, D.C.
Navy-Yard, Washington, D.C.
Forwarded October 24,1889.
R. W. MEADE,
HISTORY OF WASHINGTON NAVY-YARD.
HENRY B. HIBBEN, A. M.,
To the honorable Secretary of the Navy, BENJAMIN F. TRACY, and his predecessors in office living, and to the memory of those who have departed this life, this history is respectfully inscribed.
WASHINGTON, D.C., October 15, 1889.
SIR: In obedience to your order dated March 3, 1888, I have prepared a history of the Washington Navy-Yard from its organization in 1800 to the present time, which I herewith respectfully inclose.
The material has been entirely supplied from official sources, and in the selection of subject-matter I have striven to make the book in some degree a history of the personages, life, and events of the yard, as well as of what it has accomplished and has cost as a great ship-building establishment.
I am, respectfully, your obedient servant,
HENRY B. HIBBEN,
Chaplain, U.S. Navy.
Capt. RICHARD W. MEADE, U.S.N,
Deed and original map of navy-yard.
List of commandants.
Organization of six navy-yards by Secretary Stoddert, in view of a permanent navy--One navy-yard located at Washington--Architect Latrobe's specification of original plan of the yard--First residence built, occupied by Captain Cassin, second officer.
Capt. Thomas Tingey ordered to the command of the Washington yard--"Peace establishment" act of Congress reducing the Navy--Bad results--Supplementary amendment act--Activity of the yard--Improvements--Regulations--Jefferson's gun-boats--The old navy.
Increase of the force of the yard--Improvements--Incidents--School for midshipmen--Refitting the Chesapeake--Its officers not pleased with the rigging gear--Torpedo invention of Robert Fulton--House for commandant commenced--Expenses of the navy-yard--Perquisites of naval officers.
State of gun-boats, building at the yard--The arrangements for the armament of the frigate President--Complaint of Captain Bainbridge of an imperfect cable furnished by the yard and its results--Introduction of circular ship-lights--Complaint of Captain Decatur of the rigging of his ship, etc. --Pistols manufactured at the yard--Relics--Summary of work done at the yard in 1811-'12--Minor incidents and events--Scarcity of naval officers at Washington--The British threatening invasion--The commandant unable to secure force sufficient to place the navy-yard in a defensible condition.
The capture of Washington and destruction of the navy-yard--Captain Tingey's vivid account of the same--Concluding remarks upon the criticism of historians in regard to this disaster.
Robert Fulton again at the yard with his torpedo invention--Condition of navy-yard after the fire--Work of rebuilding the yard commenced--Its activities resumed--Washington Navy-Yard classed "first"--Death of Captain Tingey; succeeded by Captain Hull--Minor incidents and events.
Report of Navy Commission on Washington Navy-Yard--Statement of improvements--Captain Hull as navy agent--Official report of vessels built at Washington Navy-Yard up to 1832--Captain Hull retires from the command of the yard--Minor incidents and events--Capt. Daniel T. Patterson assumes command--Report of Naval Commission--Death of Captain Patterson--Capt. Thomas Holdup Stevens succeeds to the command--Death of Captain Stevens--Capt. Beverly Kennon appointed to the command of the yard--Midshipmen ordered to the yard for instruction--Fatal accident in the armory--Trial of Lieut. W. D. Porter by court-martial, etc. --Second explosion in the yard; Gunner Barry killed--Captain Kennon detached and ordered to the Bureau of Construction, etc.
History of the work of the yard from published official sources--Note of minor events during the command of Captain Aulick--Work in the various departments of the yard, and cost of the same, each successive year from 1847 to 1859.
Lieut. John A. Dahlgren ordered to command of ordnance department of the yard--A résumé of events and work of the yard under Commandants McCauley, Ballard, Paulding, Forrest, Lavallette, Rudd, and Buchanan, as found in letter-books.
Commander John A. Dahlgren, by special act of Congress is made eligible, and then authoritatively assigned to the command of Washington yard at the outbreak of the civil war--"The Potomac flotilla;" its connection with the navy-yard--Activity of the yard in equipping ships for war service and providing armament--Reconnaissance down the Potomac--Commandant's report of the insufficient and unsatisfactory defensive force in the yard--Seventy-first New York Volunteers ordered to the yard for its protection--Death of its commander, Colonel Vosburgh, at the yard--Detail of daily routine of the yard--Commandant's report of the occupation of Alexandria, and the murder of Colonel Ellsworth--Capt. Stephen C. Rowan, in command of the Pawnee, co-operating with the land forces--Dahlgren's remarkable comment upon a fatal accident occurring in the laboratory of the ordnance--General hearty and harmonious co-operation of the Army with the Navy in the joint operation on the Potomac--Oath of allegiance as first administered to the employés of the yard--Prisoners confined in the yard released on taking this oath--Regarded by them as the condonement of all previous offense--Letter of the Commandant to the Secretary of the Navy urging the importance of the occupancy of the Potomac shore, and the erection of batteries--Followed immediately by the announcement of the death of Commander Ward in an engagement with the enemy at Matthias Point--Gallantry displayed by seaman J. Williams, of the Pawnee, on this occasion--Letter from the Commandant complaining of the short-sighted policy of the Ordnance Bureau--Officers and men sent from the yard to assist in the defense of Fort Ellsworth--Another fatal accident in the laboratory of the yard--Kindly nature of the Commandant--Recommends the permanent creation of a class of naval gunners--Re-enforcements sent again from the yard to Fort Ellsworth--Civilians and other prisoners sent from the flotilla to the navy-yard--Oath of allegiance in improved form; recommends colored refugees to be utilized as firemen--Reply of the Department--Extracts from official sources.
Workmen in the yard apply for increased wages--Hours of labor--Commandant asks for an appropriation of $200,000 to increase the resources of the Ordnance Department; also for $1,000 to celebrate, by illumination at the yard, the naval victory at Fort Henry--Captured flags received at the yard--Panic excited by the Merrimac--Preparations made to prevent the entrance of this dangerous enemy into the Potomac--Commandant recommends to the Department that instant provision be made for the fabrication of heavy iron plating; also that a large ram be constructed for harbor defense--Testing the resisting force of iron armor against heavy artillery at the yard--Seamen of the yard and of the gun-boat Satellite, under charge of a son of the Commandant, sent with munitions of war to Harper's Ferry--A "non-combatant" employee dismissed from the yard--Commander Dahlgren promoted to be Chief of the Bureau of Ordnance and succeeded by Commander Andrew A. Harwood--Patriotic demonstration of the employés of the yard--Report of vessels repaired at the yard--Complimentary notice of Dahlgren by the Secretary of the Navy--Commodore Harwood asks for more vessels to arrest the increasing contraband trade--He receives his promotion as commodore and is appointed in command of the "Potomac flotilla"--He hoists his flag and visits the gun-boats belonging to the "flotilla"--Returns and reports the gun-boats to be in good condition, and the officers generally on the alert--Capture of gun-boats Satellite and Reliance by the rebels.
Fruitless attempts to recapture the gun-boats--Action of Navy Department--Memorial of workmen to Congress--Great pressure of work at the yard--Resolutions and demands of workmen of the yard--Response of the Secretary of the Navy--Revenue officers charged with interfering with Navy regulations and discipline, etc. --Contrabandist prisoners--Joint operation of Army and Navy against blockade runners--Services of the yard offered to the Russian squadron lying at Alexandria--Commodore Harwood ordered to transfer his command to Commodore John B. Montgomery--United States Naval Hospital--Report of Secretary of the Navy concerning Washington Navy-Yard.
Commodore Montgomery authorized to hoist his broad pendant at the yard--Routine work--Material and labor furnished the Army--Employees of iron foundry demand increase of pay--General orders--Robbery of the watch-box of the yard--Commandant and master machinist ordered to appear before Senate Naval Committee--Vessels repaired--General Jubal Early threatening an assault upon Washington--Patriotic action of navy employés--Admiral Goldsborough ordered to make experiments at the yard with samples of wire rope--The French corvette Ampheon supplied with materials and aid--Request of Commandant in regard to employés--Recruiting at the navy-yard--Instructions in regard to officers while their ships are under repair at the yard--Office of inspector of bills--General order on the subject of "disloyalty"--Schedule of pay.
Celebrating Federal victories at the yard--Fall of the Confederacy--Orders for flags for decoration of Navy Department--Assassination of President Lincoln--New and interesting history concerning the assassin and his assistants in crime--Correspondence between the Commandant and Secretary of the Navy--Prisoners delivered to General Hancock--Reduction of expenses at the yard--Instructions in regard to the employment of workmen, etc. --Commodore Montgomery retired, and Commodore William Radford appointed to succeed him.
Court of inquiry called on complaint of B. F. Isherwood, chief of Bureau--Decision of the court--Detail of minor events--Office of inspector of bills discontinued--Unjust complaint made against the officers of the Swatara and Shamokin--Ordnance department re-attached to the navy-yard--Recommendation of Secretary Welles for the extension of the yard by the purchase of adjacent property--His utterances in regard to the bearing of the Southern people under defeat--Arrival of John S. Surratt at the yard as prisoner--Detailed summary of the work of the yard for the year 1867--Correspondence between the Commandant and chairman of Senate Naval Committee--The most skilled workmen to be employed in the yard without regard to Army or Navy service--Commodore Radford promoted to be rear-admiral and appointed to the command of the European squadron--Commodore Charles H. Poor ordered to the command of the yard--Letters and general orders from Secretary Borie--Heads of departments in the yard not allowed to select their clerks--Other instructions to commandants--Question of authority between the Commandant and Surgeon-General--Details of work, etc., in the yard--General circular to navy-yards from Admiral Porter--Orders--Report of work--Correspondence in regard to the employés of the yard--Rear-Admiral Poor ordered to command of North Atlantic squadron--Rear-Admiral J. A. Dahlgren assumes command of the navy-yard.
Work at the yard--Deepening of the Eastern Branch recommended--Orders and reports--The Periwinkle fitted out for the Arctic Expedition--Repairs at Naval Hospital made without the approval of the Commandant--Death of Commandant--Succeeded by Rear-Admiral Melanethou Smith--Detail of events and work at the yard--Inspector and weigher appointed--Theft of revolvers from the ordnance department--The Kansas fitted out for surveying purposes under the command of Captain Shufeldt--Rear-Admiral Smith succeeded by Rear-Admiral L. M. Goldsborough--Brief notes of information concerning work of the yard under Goldsborough--Admiral Goldsborough ordered to the command of the Asiatic squadron; asks to be excused and is refused and detached--Commodore Thomas H. Patterson succeeds to the command--Vessels at the yard--Disciplinary orders from the inspector of ordnance--The Commandant successfully protests against the abolishment of the marine post at the navy-yard--Commodore Febiger succeeds to the command of the yard--Orders, reports, and brief notes of events of the yard--Great mortality of rear-admirals, etc.
Hours of labor for employés--Amount of copper used in rolling-mill daily, etc. --Creditors complain to the Secretary of the Navy that employés of the navy-yard will not pay their debts--Report of ship-ventilating apparatus--Commodore Febiger relieved by Commodore Thomas Pattison, June 1, 1880--Hours of labor shortened on Saturdays--Ships fast in the mud of the Eastern Branch--Vinnie Ream preparing the statue of Farragut--Order of the Department on the unveiling of the statue--Brief note of general events--Explosion in ordnance department--Number of officers on duty--Unsatisfactory condition of telephonic communication at the yard--Orders from the Department--Resolution of Congress allowing per diem workmen full pay for Decoration Day--Order from the Department in regard to boats landing at Mount Vernon--Report of the Commandant of officers of the yard, with the duties which they respectively discharge--Other reports of the Commandant--Harboring dogs at the yard--Commodore Pattison detached, and succeeded by Commodore A. A. Semmes.
The District Commissioners wish to borrow a launch; none available at the yard--Unsuccessful appeal of the Commandant for an increase of the marine guard--The Navy Bureaus and their dependencies--Change of hours of labor--History and list of captured guns at the navy-yard--Guns sold to the Grand Army of the Republic--Sinking of the Mayflower, and other events--U.S.S. Dale made the receiving-ship for the yard--Silver coin received at the yard and conveyed to the United States Treasury--Death of Commodore Semmes; succeeded by Rear-Admiral Queen; succeeded by Capt. R. R. Wallace--Order of Secretary Whitney concerning ships and buildings at the yard Capt. R. R. Wallace succeeded as Commandant by Capt. R. W. Meade--Important improvements pushed forward to completion--Estimated value of the Washington yard, including United States Naval Hospital--Enlargement and equipment of main ordnance building--Concluding remarks.
HISTORY OF THE WASHINGTON NAVY-YARD.
COPY OF DEED.
This indenture, made the seventeenth day of March, in the year one thousand eight hundred, between Gustavus Scott and William Thornton, two of the Commissioners appointed by virtue of the act of Congress entitled "An act for establishing the temporary and permanent seat of the Government of the United States," of the one part, and the said United States of the other part, witnesseth that the said Gustavus Scott and William Thornton, Commissioners as aforesaid, for and in consideration of the sum of four thousand dollars, to them in hand paid by the Secretary of the Navy of said States before the ensealing and delivery of these presents the receipt whereof they do hereby acknowledge, have granted, bargained, sold, aliened, released, and confirmed, and by these presents do grant, bargain, sell, alien, release, and confirm unto the said United States forever, all those squares, pieces or parcels of ground in the city of Washington, District of Columbia, known and distinguished on the plan of said city by the numbers "eight hundred and eighty-three" and "eight hundred and eighty-four, " together with all and singular the rights, privileges, benefits, and advantages to the same belonging or in any wise appertaining--
To have and to hold the said two squares, pieces, or parcels of ground and premises, with the appurtenances, unto the said United States forever, to the sole use and behoof of the said United States forever.
In witness whereof the said Gustavus Scott and William Thornton, Commissioners aforesaid, have hereunto set their hands and affixed their seals the day and year within written.
Signed, sealed, and delivered in the presence of--
Received 17th day of March, 1800, of the United States, by the hands of the Secretary of the Navy of said States, four thousand dollars, being the consideration money within mentioned.
THE STATE OF MARYLAND,
Prince George's County, ss:
On the seventeenth day of March, in the year one thousand eight hundred, before us, the subscribers, two of the justices of the peace in and for Prince George's County aforesaid, duly commissioned and qualified, personally appeared Gastavus Scott and William Thornton, the grantors within named, and acknowledged the within instrument of writing to be their act and deed, and the ground and premises therein mentioned to be the right and estate of the United States forever.
Received, to be recorded, this nineteenth day of March, 1800, and the same day was recorded in Liber E, No. 5, folio 149, one of the land record books for that part of the Territory of Columbia which lies in Maryland, and examined by
JOHN W. GANTT,
Map of Washington Navy Yard in 1800.
COMMANDANTS OF THE NAVY-YARD, WASHINGTON, D.C., SINCE ITS
ORGANIZATION IN 1799.
||Name and rank.
||Capt. Thomas Tingey *
||Jan. 22, 1800
||Feb. 23, 1829
||Capt. Isaac Hull
||Mar. 31, 1829
||Oct. 1, 1835
||Capt. John Gallagher **
||Oct. 1, 1835
||Mar. 1, 1836
||Capt. Daniel T. Patterson *
||Mar. 1, 1836
||Aug. 25, 1839
||Capt. Thomas Holdup Stevens *
||Feb. 26, 1840
||Jan. 21, 1841
||Capt. Beverly Kennon
||Apr. 27, 1841
||Mar. 7, 1843
||Capt. John H. Aulick
||Mar. 7, 1843
||Feb. 21, 1846
||Capt. W. B. Shubrick
||Feb. 24, 1846
||July 9, 1846
||Capt. Charles S. McCauley
||Sept. 1, 1846
||Oct. 1, 1849
||Capt. Henry E. Ballard
||Oct. 15, 1852
||Capt. Charles W. Morgan*
||Oct. 15, 1852
||Jan. 5, 1853
||Capt. Hiram Paulding
||Jan. 21, 1853
||Jun. 30, 1855
||Capt. French Forrest
||June 30, 1855
||Aug. 15, 1856
||Capt. Elie A. F. Lavallette
||Aug. 15, 1856
||May 14, 1858
||Capt. John Rudd
||May 15, 1858
||Apr. 30, 1859
||Capt. Franklin Buchanan «
||May 26, 1859
||Apr. 22, 1861
||Commander John A. Dahlgren
||Apr. 22, 1861
||July 22, 1862
||Commodore Andrew A. Harwood
||July 22, 1862
||Dec. 31, 1863
||Commodore John B. Montgomery
||Dec. 31, 1863
||Oct. 13, 1865
||Commodore William Radford
||Oct. 13, 1865
||Jan. 20, 1869
||Commodore Charles H. Poor
||Jan. 20, 1869
||Aug. 10, 1869
||Rear-Admiral John A. Dahlgren*
||Aug. 10, 1869
||July 12, 1870
||Rear-Admiral Melancthon Smith
||July 19, 1870
||Oct 14, 1870
||Rear-Admiral L. M. Goldsborough
||Oct 14, 1870
||Oct. 1, 1873
||Commodore Thomas H. Patterson
||Oct. 1, 1873
||Oct. 10, 1876
||Commodore John C. Febiger
||Oct. 10, 1876
||June 1, 1880
||Commodore Thomas Pattison
||July 10, 1880
||May 30, 1883
||Commodore Alexander A. Semmes*
||June 30, 1883
||Sept. 22, 1885
||Rear-Admiral Walter W. Queen
||Oct. 5, 1885
||Oct. 6, 1886
||Capt. Rush R. Wallace §
||Mar. 28, 1887
||Sept. 15, 1887
||Capt. Richard W. Meade
||Sept. 15, 1887
* Died in office.
« Resigned commission, civil war impending, and was dismissed from the service by President Lincoln.
§ Captain of the yard on the retirement of Rear Admiral Queen and succeeded to the duties until the close of his official term.
Organization of six navy-yards by Secretary Stoddert, in view of a permanent navy--One navy-yard located at Washington--Architect Latrobe's specification of original plan of the yard First residence built occupied by Captain Cassin, second officer.
Shortly before the close of the administration of John Adams, second President of the United States, a great national exigency arising from French aggression upon our commerce, assisted by an eloquent appeal of Benjamin Stoddert, Secretary of the Navy, to the House of Representatives, induced Congress on the 25th of February, 1799, to make an appropriation of $1,000,000 for the building of six of the largest ships of war. That the object of this appropriation should be more speedily and economically accomplished, together with the design of creating a permanent navy, the Navy Department, in the latter part of the year 1799, proceeded to apply a portion of this appropriation to the purchase and improvement of selected grounds for six navy-yards, located as follows: One at New York, one at Philadelphia, one at Boston, one at Portsmouth, one at Norfolk, and one at Washington.
We propose to write a history of the yard located at the Capital of the Nation and known as the Washington Navy-Yard. The grounds were originally purchased for $4,000. They consist of 40 acres of rolling land lying on the "Eastern Branch " of the Potomac River.
This yard was designed originally, to use the language of Secretary Stoddert, "for capacious building and dock yard," and for many years was regarded as one of the most important and defensible and the one most useful, convenient, and necessary to the Government and Navy Department, and as early as October 1, 1801, the Government had expended $54,683 in improvements at this yard, a sum largely in excess of that appropriated to any one of the other navy-yards up to this date, and on January 20, the following year, timber for the 74-gun ship, stores, and other materials for building had been purchased to the amount of $158,683.
AREA PLAN OF WASHINGTON NAVY-YARD.
The following is a detailed description or specification of the original plan of Washington Navy-Yard, prepared by B. H. Latrobe, architect and surveyor of the public buildings of the United States at
Washington, and approved by the Secretary of the Navy, Robert Smith, in the year 1804-'05:
The design of the main gate of entrance to the navy-yard has been made with a view to the greatest economy compatible with permanence and appearance worthy of the situation. This gate will fall exactly into the range of the Georgia avenue as well as of the Eighth street east of the Capitol, one of the principal streets of this part of the city. I propose that it be built of that species of durable freestone which is only half of the price of that used in the Capitol, and which, though not of so fine a grain, is quite as strong and capable of resisting the weather.
The ground plan shows that the quantity of freestone proposed to be used is small, little exceeding that which would be required by a common set of solid gate-pieces.
The guard-rooms, within the yard, I pray to erect in brick. The columns being rendered perfectly steady by the weight of the entablature, and having the hinges laid through the joints, are by far the best means of securing the whole gate in its proper place, whether it be an open iron gate or a solid wooden one.
On account of the small water-front, an immense quantity of land must be made in order to get at the channel along the front of the wharf. The most essential part of the navy-yard is the wharf front. The wooden wharves of our cities, however excellent be their construction, have taught us this lesson, that they must gradually, yet inevitably, be protruded into the river. The wharf at this city has indeed failed, and has prematurely burst forward, on account of its faulty construction; but had it been ever so well built, the gradual decay of the upper logs and the pressure of the made ground behind the whole front would, in time, have acted to the same effect as at Philadelphia.
I therefore strongly recommend that the wharf front be erected on piles and built of solid masonry and that the floor of the wharf be vaulted. This work will be expensive, but will secure durability for centuries, a solid foundation for stores and buildings of all kinds required close to the wharf front, and a certainty of deep water along the front.
It is not necessary that the whole extent of wharves should be erected at once.
The first should be built a little above the present wharf, adjacent to the channel, but so as to have the use of the present front during its erection.
One hundred and fifty feet front will be enough to accommodate two frigates. When this is finished and rendered useful, the second length should be erected in front of the present wharf and extended to the corner of the building slips. Afterward 150 feet per annum may be added until the work is completed.
Twenty feet from the wharves is the best situation for the store-houses of the ships laid up. *
FIRST USE OF THE DERRICK CRANE.
The crane erected in front of each store will take out and put in the masts of a 74-gun ship and do all the business for which shears have been employed. The crane is now used for this purpose at the East India and West India docks below London, and it is unnecessary to dwell on their immense utility.
The building slips are proposed to occupy the situation already appropriated to them westward of the wharves. Three of them converge towards the channel. I have already given verbal information as to the best manner of constructing these slips.
* Laid up in dry-dock.
To the north of the building slips I propose to construct, or rather to leave, a spacious canal to enter the center of the lower part of the yard. This canal, if found liable to fill up, must be kept open by dredging. Its great utility is to get at the stores containing heavy articles and at the anchor smiths' shop by water. On this canal, close to the mouth, the boat-builder may be most properly placed. East of the boat-builder the mast-maker will receive and launch his spars with great facility by means of the canal. On the south side of the canal, close to the ships, I have placed the carpenter's shop, in which the carver may also have his workshop.
TIMBER-SHEDS, PUMP, BLOCK MAKER, ETC.
Opposite the slips and nearly in place of the present shed I have placed the deposit of the timber, for which I have allowed ample space. Opposite to the head of the land is the forge; near the forge are the pump and block maker and plumber, and on the north of the canal the riggers and artificers, who must have frequent communication with each other, and whose articles are heavy and can most advantageously be carried to and from the ships by water. Behind the ship stores I have allotted a large open space as a useful deposit of a variety of things not requiring to be housed or can not immediately be put under cover. North of this space, and very convenient to the ship stores, is the cooper's shop. An open square is formed by the cooper's shop, the ordnance stores, and the buildings to the north opposite to the forge, in the center of which is the office of the clerk of the yard.
It is evident, on inspection of the plan, that no situation is more commanding than this or so easy of access from all the different shops and stores.
The present buildings along the east wall I propose to convert into provision stores. For as they are less accessible from the water side than the rest, they ought not to contain bulky articles, but such only as can be easily moved on a dray. Contiguous to these stores I have located the place for the bake-house, slaughter-house, and salting-house buildings, which are nuisances and which will probably not be required for many years if provisions are to be procured at the best market, which is to the northward.
The sail lofts are placed contiguously to the riggers. The naval stores, composed in a great part of very combustible material, are deposited along a canal leading to the north. This is at present a large bay, the western part of which may be retained as a timber dock, though I am convinced that in a few years no timber for ship-building will be suffered to remain in the water after its arrival longer than it can be stored on shore. For it will be found that though timber remains hard and apparently sound while immersed in water, it will commence rapid decay as soon as taken out.
In the center of the upper part of the yard I propose that the first officer of the yard shall reside, as does the commissioner of the King's yard in England and the intendant formerly in France. From this situation the whole yard is under his eye. The second officer I propose shall inhabit that now occupied by Captain Cassin.
If there be a third officer, a house similar to Captain Cassin's may be erected west of the principal gate. The eastern portion of the yard will then be under the complete inspection of these officers.
In front of these buildings is an open space, on the south side of which, and opposite to the lands that separate the stores, comfortable dwelling-houses for all the master artificers should be erected. They will be thus placed immediately in view of the Captain Commandant of the yard and at the same time have a perfect inspection of all the shops and stores from their south fronts.
This plan received the approval of the Secretary of the Navy and was gradually carried into execution, but with frequent interruptions, and with such modifications and exceptions as will be indicated in the course of this history.
The house above mentioned as occupied by Captain Cassin was one of the pioneer buildings of the yard.
It was built under the supervision of Captain Tingey by the firm Levering and Dyer, in the fall of 1801. The order for the contract was issued by the Secretary of the Navy on 10th of October, 1801.
Capt. Thomas Tingey ordered to the command of the Washington yard--"Peace establishment" act of Congress reducing the Navy--Bad results--Supplementary amendment act--Activity of the yard--Improvements--Regulations--Jefferson's gun-boats--The old navy.
On the 23d of May, in the year 1799, Secretary Stoddert appointed Mr. William Marbury, of Annapolis, Md., naval agent for the District of Columbia. The Secretary in his instructions informs Mr. Marbury that it had been determined to build one of the 74-gun ships, before named, at Washington.
Your duty will be to contract for all materials wanted for this ship and for the Navy Department generally in the District, and you will be allowed 2 per cent, commission upon all moneys expended by you.
On the 2d of October of the same year the purchase of the grounds for the site of the Washington Navy-Yard having been completed, Naval Constructor Josiah Humphreys, then residing at Philadelphia, was ordered to Washington to select the proper spot for the wharf, and assist Mr. Marbury with his advice in the construction of the same.
On the 22d of January, 1800, Capt. Thomas Tingey, of Kingston, N. J., was appointed as superintendent of the yard. The following letter to Marbury from Secretary Stoddert, indicating the duties of the superintendent, we find in general letter-book:
NAVY DEPARTMENT, January 22, 1800.
WM. MARBURY, Georgetown:
SIR: Capt. Thomas Tingey, of the Navy, an officer of great merit in our service, has been ordered to Washington with a view to superintend the building of the 74-gun ship, and to aid in the arrangement of the navy-yard, the improvements of which he will also superintend. The money, as heretofore, will pass through your hands. Captain Tingey being a man of understanding and having seen the navy-yards of England, will be able to direct the layings of that in Washington to greatest advantage.
Mr. Marbury continued to act as navy agent to July 9, 1801. Upon the election of Mr. Jefferson to the Presidency, Mr. Stoddert retired and Mr. Robert Smith, of Maryland, succeeded him as Secretary of the Navy. The new Secretary immediately abolished the office of navy agent for the yard and included its duties in those of the superintendent, Captain Tingey, thus very much increasing his authority and responsibility. Under the new order, Captain Tingey was required to superintend all the public buildings and improvements, to receive all public
property of all kinds deposited in his custody and to be responsible for their safe-keeping and expenditure thereof. All the officers and others on board of the ships in ordinary at Washington were to consider Captain Tingey as the agent of this Department and to respect his authority accordingly. As a compensation for such services he was to be entitled to receive the full pay, without the rations, of a captain commanding a ship of 32 guns and upwards. The pay of a captain in such command was $100 per month and eight rations per day.
Unfortunately, the policy inaugurated under the administration of President Adams of creating and maintaining a navy was violently opposed by the Republican party upon one ground or another.
Consequently, on the succession of Mr. Jefferson to the Presidency, March 4, 1801, Congress immediately proceeded to manifest its opposition by the enactment of a law looking rather in the direction of a gradual and permanent abolition of the navy than its permanent establishment and increase.
Fortunately, a remnant of the navy survived; and when Mr. Jefferson retired from the Presidency, leaving the legacy of a war with Great Britain to his successor, even what was left us of a navy saved the country at least from entire and absolute humiliation, and probably from political destruction.
This act of Congress above mentioned was entitled "An act providing for a peace establishment."
One of the numerous theories of Mr. Jefferson involved the idea that war is unnecessary, and upon the assumption that a powerful navy is a continual challenge to war, Congress proceeded to emasculate it by the enactment of the peace establishment act.
Among other provisions it directed the President to discharge all the naval officers of the United States except 9 captains, 36 lieutenants, and 150 midshipmen.
The number of captains on the active list at this time was 28, Captain Tingey being twelfth on the list. This law would therefore seem necessarily to cut off Captain Tingey from the list. The United States Naval Chronicle, however, on page 389, gives the name of Thomas Tingey as still retained among the list of captains. But, in order to do this, it makes the list of captains 13, instead of 9 in number as retained in the Navy after the passage of the peace establishment law, without any explanation.
But if the peace law of 1801 took away from him his office as captain in the Navy, as it probably did, we find that he retained his office of superintendent of the navy-yard up to 1803, when his nominal relationship to the yard was changed to that of financial agent, but only for a short period; and that in 1804, by a direct act of Congress, his suspended or doubtful relation to the Navy was removed and his name was added to the list of captains and he was regularly appointed as Commandant of the yard with all its appurtenances.
The peace establishment act of 1801 authorized the sale of all the ships and vessels belonging to the Navy except thirteen frigates. Of the frigates six only should be kept in commission, and the remaining seven should be dismantled, and laid up in ordinary with the following crew permanently attached to each ship:
One sailing master, also to act as purser and to superintend the ship; 1 boatswain, 1 gunner, 1 carpenter, 1 cook, a sergeant and 8 marines, and 12 seamen.
Under the provision of this law there were lying in ordinary at the Washington Navy-Yard in the year 1802 the following-named frigates, and warrant officers to the same, with a full complement of seamen and marines attached to each ship:
List of warrant officers, etc., on. board the ships in ordinary in the Eastern Branch,
November 20, 1802.
|Frigate United States, 44 guns:
||Ralph Izard (midshipman), acting as master.
Thomas Decordy, acting gunner.
William Hunter, acting boatswain.
Matthew Welch, acting carpenter.
|President, 44 guns:
||William Knight, sailing-master, warrant.
John H. Swoope, acting gunner.
James Fry, acting carpenter.
|Congress, 36 guns:
||David Phipps, sailing-master, on liberty.
James P. Mix, acting gunner.
Conrad Buskin, acting boatswain.
Robert Smith, acting carpenter.
In view of future events in our history "the peace act" as a whole proved to be an unwise and unfortunate enactment, and even the section of the law which ordered that the greater portion of our ships be laid up in ordinary at the Washington Navy-Yard, with an idle crew permanently attached to each idle and decaying vessel, proved to be equally unwise and practically defective in many respects, and in January, 1804, Capt. John Cassin, in command of the ordinary, presented substantially the following array of objections to the present arrangement to the Secretary of the Navy, Robert Smith:
First. A squadron of men being on board each ship, there must necessarily be a fire for heating and cooking purposes, and in proportion to the number of fires is the danger from suffering from them. Under present system we consume annually about one hundred and thirty cords of wood and one thousand bushels of coal.
Second. The officers have little or no employment, and on experience has demonstrated that even good officers will degenerate if not actively employed.
Time is lost in collecting the men scattered among the various ships when their general presence is required. Much time of the men is unavoidably employed in cleaning up their own dirt, and dirt is a powerful auxiliary in rotting ship. While
at sea, the warrant and petty officers have important duties to discharge, but the ships in ordinary having been dismantled in the absence of rigging, sails, cables, spars, guns, etc., none of these officers have a single article under their charge except the master, who under my superintendence has the general charge of the ships.
Lastly, experience has evinced the inexpediency of requiring masters to perform the duties of pursers.
Captain Cassin then, in a letter of great length, suggests a plan to remedy the defective workings of the existing system. This plan in brief is: (1) To discontinue, the service of certain officers and men found to be superfluous. (2) Instead of attaching a certain crew permanently to each ship, as "the peace law" directs, to enter the men for the general service of the yard and to assign them to one ship for quarters. (3) To retire the officers discontinued upon half-pay.
On the following month the Secretary of the Navy addressed Congress upon the subject, and inclosed the letter and plans recommended by Captain Cassin, with his own approval. The result was that on March 27, 1804, a law was passed entitled, "An act supplementary to the peace establishment act. " One section of this supplementary act authorized the President to appoint a captain of the Navy in command of the yard and to perform the duties of naval agent; also to attach to the yard 1 second officer, 1 surgeon and 1 surgeon's mate, 1 sailing master, 1 head carpenter, 1 purser, 1 clerk of the yard, and 1 to keep account of stores; 2 boatswains, 2 gunners, 1 sail-maker and crew, 1 block-maker and crew, 100 seamen, and 3 marines.
It discontinued and dismissed from the service in the yard 9 boatswains, 9 gunners, 11 carpenters, 30 seamen, and 8 marines.
Upon the passage of this law the Secretary of the Navy appointed Captain Tingey to the command of the navy-yard, and Captain Cassin, who at this period held the rank of Master Commandant, as second in command.
In the mean while, although as early as January, 1802, the Secretary of the Navy had officially announced that the President had determined that all vessels belonging to the United States, laid up in ordinary at other points, shall be brought to this navy-yard, and all vessels now in service shall return to this place and be fitted up here, yet for lack of appropriation by Congress, with the exception of two ware-houses which were built by order of the Secretary under the supervision of Captain Tingey, all work upon buildings, docks, wharfs, etc., was suspended during the years 1802 and 1803. In the summer of 1803 the small-pox appeared in virulent form among the crew of the Constellation, and by order of the Secretary of the Navy the frigate General Greene was fitted up for hospital and hauled out in the river and placed under the charge of Dr. Bullus, the surgeon attached to the navy-yard.
The records also inform us that in November of this year, by order of President Jefferson, we suppose as a practical exemplification of his method of securing peace, one hundred gun-carriages of the largest size
were shipped on the schooner Citizen, chartered for the purpose, to "his serene Highness" the Emperor of Morocco. In the new era of peace and fraternity about to be inaugurated war ships would be useless, therefore these gun-carriages were taken from our frigates lying in ordinary and rotting in the Eastern Branch.
Early in the year 1805, shortly after assuming the command of the yard under the provision of Congress, Captain Tingey addressed the Secretary of the Navy, inclosing the views of Captain Cassin and of himself in regard to the government of the yard and the respective duties of the Commandant and those of the subordinate officers.
The following rules for the internal government of the navy-yard were finally approved by the Secretary of the Navy and adopted:
- The Commandant shall be the only channel of communication between the head of the Navy Department and the officers of the yard, or of the ships in ordinary, or of the detail of any matter pertaining to the operations of either.
- No officer of the yard or ships shall be permitted to engage or employ any extra seaman, mechanic, or laborer without first representing the necessity thereof, and stating the wages and terms on which such person is to be engaged, to the commandant for his approbation; nor shall any officer purchase any material whatever for the use of the yard without his approval.
- It shall be the duty of the second officer in command to give regular information to the commandant of the completion of any work assigned to the different departments in the yard, advise him of what appears to be most necessary for their next operation, respectively, and receive his orders in writing and see them carried out.
- In like manner it shall be the duty of the naval constructor, when any particular work under his immediate superintendence is completed, to notify the commandant and advise him, and take his directions in regard to further work in writing.
- The officers and heads of the different mechanics, tradesmen, etc., attached to the yard shall make weekly reports of the number of hands respectively employed under them and of the work done within the week, to the officer second in command, who shall examine the same, and if he find the work done inadequate to the expense he shall report the same to the commandant, in order to a reduction of the force employed or to a total suspension thereof if deemed necessary.
- All officers and persons attached to the yard who shall require leave of absence exceeding one whole day, shall make application for the same to the commandant and receive his assent.
A communication to the House of Representatives from the Secretary of the Navy informs us that at the close of the year 1803 the Marine Barracks were included in the command of the Washington Navy-yard.
There were at this period 1 lieutenant-colonel commandant, 1 captain, 8 first lieutenants, 3 second lieutenants, 15 sergeants, 11 corporals, 16 musicians, and 146 privates on duty there. Agreeably to the law of 3d of March, 1801, the Marine Barracks supplied guards for the ships in ordinary as well as for the navy-yard.
The ships lying in ordinary at the close of the year 1804 were as follows: 44-gun ships (frigates), United States, Constitution, President, Chesapeake. 36-gun ships, Congress, Constellation, New York. 32-gun ship, Essex. 24-gun-ships, Boston, Adams.
From the year 1804, when by provision of Congress he was appointed commandant of the navy-yard, Captain Tingey was in continual communication with the Navy Department, and scarcely a week elapsed that he did not address the Department once or more, giving information concerning the navy-yard to the minutest detail, sending in requisitions for material and supplies needed, and lists of supplies, etc., sent to ships or navy agents abroad.
This correspondence at no time was delegated to Captain Cassin or to clerks. It is all in his own writing and style. To-day he sends a piece of port-fire to Commander Rodgers, finishes a cable for a frigate, settles a strike on the part of ship carpenters, smiths, riggers, and joiners of the yard; makes requisition for plank needed for the repair of a ship. Tomorrow he sends by a schooner munitions of war to Commodore Preble, at Boston, or to the gun-boats at New Orleans. The work of the various departments of the yard is at the same time under his management and supervision. In short, these letters, with now and then a hiatus, constitute a very fair diary of the transactions and events of the yard. They are, moreover, in the absence of the records and other sources of information that were burned at the capture of Washington, nearly all that are left us of reliable material for a history of the Washington navy-yard. Therefore, though searching for relevant matter through hundreds of books of manuscript without reliable indices involved much patient labor, we trust that the results will prove to have been compensatory.
Early in the year 1805 we find the architect, Mr. Latrobe, actively engaged at the yard in directing the work of the principal gate and the large timber shed according to the plan given in previous chapter.
All the material for building purposes for ships, all stores, etc., were furnished upon requisition of the commandant and the approval of the Secretary of the Navy. They were collected from any quarter; sometimes furnished by the Navy agents at Baltimore and Philadelphia, and frequently by individual contract or by direct purchase from citizens of Washington.
Supplies were frequently sent from this yard to the Mediterranean Squadron, then consisting of a few ships, which we were compelled at this period, to maintain in that sea for the protection of our commerce against the freebooters and pirates of the Barbary States.
The records inform us that on May 11, 1805, the ship Huntress took on board from the navy-yard a large quantity of powder designed for the Mediterranean Squadron. The President on this day was on a visit to the yard to witness the trial work of a new engine purchased for the use of the yard. He went on board the Huntress and advised that the ship should not touch at Gibraltar as it was in a state of blockade, but proceed directly to Malta.
We are informed also that the President expressed a strong desire that the brig Wasp, then building at the yard, be pushed to completion
with the greatest possible dispatch. The ship Huntress sailed on the 15th of May, but was destined never to reach the port for which she set sail. She was captured by a Spanish privateer when only three days out from Alexandria.
The navy-yard at this time, as we have said, began largely to supply ammunition and armament as needed by our ships in commission. On July 22, 1805, we learn that the schooner Harriet sailed from the yard with sixteen 9-pounders, and other materials calculated for that caliber, designed to arm and equip the Hornet, then lying at Norfolk. Captain Chauncey, who was in command of the Hornet, strongly objected to these guns as of insufficient caliber, and made complaint to this effect to the Secretary of the Navy. The Secretary having referred the complaint to the commandant of the navy-yard, he replied as follows:
I have strong confidence that said guns will be found adequate for the purposes of the intended cruise of the Hornet.
This does not seem to be a reply that would likely satisfy the commander of the Hornet, but as there was not at this time any regulation, or court of appeal, to settle such points of difference, it is probable that Captain Chauncey was compelled to accept the armament provided for the ship by the authorities of the navy-yard.
The frigate Adams was ordered to be repaired and fully equipped for service 29th of June, 1805. In response to this order, the commandant assured the Secretary of the Navy that, to accomplish this work, "every exertion of the yard shall be instantly made. " The commandant seemed eager to get at work once more, in the effort to repair our decaying ships. On the 6th of August he reported to the Secretary that the frigate had been completely and staunchly refitted, and had cleared the Eastern Branch for Alexandria, where she will receive the quarter-deck guns. "Every department of the yard," adds the commandant, "has used extreme exertion in accomplishing this work, and I am particularly obliged by the unremitting vigilance of Captain Cassin, second officer, and Mr. Lovell, master of the yard. The Adams, however, is in a bad state for want of officers. She has not yet one officer fit to trust her with, even at anchor in the river. " Captain Murray, appointed to the command of the Adams, also wrote from Alexandria to the Department in the same strain. "Can I not," he inquired, "get quit of a dozen or more of the midshipmen, of whom we have eighteen on board, but one of whom has ever been to sea!" In the early part of the fall of this year the commandant applied for a short respite from his official labors. The following, as a specimen of old-time style, we think will be of interest to our readers:
NAVY YARD, Washington, 12th August 1805
SIR: The business of the Frigate Adams having been fully accomplished here, I have to request your assent to my absence on my private business in Jersey, which has suffered something for want of personal attention. I conceive that my presence
at this yard may be as well dispensed with, at this juncture as at any time for the remainder of this year, and the time for my business will very little exceed three weeks, certainly within four.
I have the honor to be Very respectfully sir Your obed't. servt.
Hon'ble. Rt. SMITH
On his return from leave, during the greater part of December the commandant was disabled by sickness to a degree that he was compelled to transfer his duties to Captain Cassin, excepting his official correspondence, to which, sick or well, he tenaciously clung to the last.
In December, 1805, upon the recommendation of Mr. Jefferson, Congress appropriated $250,000 to build gun-boats, not exceeding fifty, "for better protection of harbors, coast, and commerce of the United States. " Mr. Jefferson's "pet idea," as it was critically termed by his opponents, and which Congress adopted, was, that in place of a Navy there should be a system of gun-boat defense for harbors and coasts. The gun-boats were to be kept housed up in sheds or "dry-docks" in time of peace, and in war were to be manned and officered by the seamen or militia who were ready to volunteer for the purpose belonging to the town or locality attacked. No fortifications were required for harbors, as these were also to be protected by a sort of flying artillery carried about from place to place as needed.
In a message of President Jefferson to the House of Representatives, dated February 18, 1806, we find that at this date three gun-boats had been built at Washington Navy-Yard, Nos. 1, 4, and 10, at a cost from $10,000 to $15,000 each.
But the old Navy still continued to have some fast friends in Congress, and in the latter part of the year 1805 Congress appropriated a sum of money not to exceed $660,000 to build six line-of-battle ships.
The wages paid at Washington Navy-Yard in June, 1806, were as follows:
|Ship-carpenters (first rate)
|Ship-carpenters (second rate)
|Ship and house joiners
* Number not given.
Increase of the force of the yard--Improvements--Incidents--School for midshipmen--Refitting the Chesapeake--Officers not pleased with the rigging-gear--Torpedo invention of Robert Fulton--House for commandant commenced--Expenses of the navy-yard--Perquisites of naval officers.
An official report from Captain Cassin gives an increase of the force in the navy-yard during the year 1805-6 of 108. It states that "this increase was in consequence of the great increase of work and to meet the common emergencies of the navy-yard."
January 13, 1806, there were in ordinary at the Washington yard the frigates United States, President, Chesapeake, New York, Constellation, John Adams, Adams, Congress, and Boston, also the brig Hornet.
Of these the frigates United States, Chesapeake, Constellation, President, and New York were ordered to be repaired and equipped for sea, and during this year the brig Wasp was nearly finished and prepared for equipment.
The greater portion of the work required to fit up the Chesapeake for service was done this year. So that early in the year 1807 the Wasp and the Chesapeake were both ready for sea.
The Wasp, commanded by Captain Jones, it will be remembered, captured the Frolic, a vessel of equal armament, in the war of 1812.
In the early part of May, 1806, the Chesapeake was fully prepared and equipped for sea, but did not go into immediate service for reasons hereafter given.
Much material was purchased for the other ships that had been selected to be fitted up for service. The work was continued also this year upon the gate of the yard. Guns, ammunition, and supplies of various kind were continually being shipped from this yard north and south. The yard at this time, and for several successive years, seemed to be used as the central depot of supply, and responded heartily and cheerily to every requisition for men, material, and supplies, whether it came from a frigate at Boston or at Norfolk, or a gun-boat at New Orleans.
Mr. Josiah Fox was attached to the yard as naval constructor at this date.
We learn from an official report from the commandant of the yard that the expenditure of money for timber, spars, etc., for the repairs of the ships from January 1, 1805, to February 28, 1806, amounted to $46,788.931/2.
This material was purchased from about fifty individuals whose names are given with the amount purchased. Of these Littleton D. Teacle supplied material to the amount of $21,061.41.
Most of this lumber was offered in response to a bill of advertisement from the commandant at fixed prices; frequently, however, individuals, without notice from the yard, brought various material which was purchased, if wanted, and was reported by the naval constructor to be of good quality.
During the summer of 1806, under instructions from the Secretary of the Navy, material was purchased and put in preparation for extensive repairs of the frigates President and New York to be made the ensuing year to the amount of $27,469.24.
In August, 1806, a large amount of gunpowder was brought home by ships returning from the Mediterranean. The magazine of the War Department at Anacostia Point being full, with the approval of the mayor of the city, 100 barrels of this powder were lodged at Alexandria, the city to charge 25 cents per barrel for first month and 6 cents per barrel for each successive month.
In the latter part of 1806, the frigate Essex and the brigs Syren and Nixen were ordered to be repaired. A large quantity of salt, provisions, bread, and other stores landed from the brigs were condemned by survey and sold. The new shed was completed during the summer of this year.
The commandant of the navy-yard, although ever ready to use his influence to secure to the officers of his command favor or privilege, was not disposed to brook the slightest interference with his authority or the least neglect of regulation observance on the part of his subordinates. The naval constructor, Mr. Josiah Fox, in the fall of 1806, applied directly to the Secretary of the Navy for a furlough of eight days. The Secretary returned the letter to Captain Tingey, the commandant of the yard, approving of the request of Mr. Fox, providing, "in the opinion of the commandant, there will be no inconvenience to the public interests resulting therefrom."
The frigate United States was then lying at the yard, and it had been determined upon recommendation of her commander, Captain James Barron, that the foremast of said ship should be moved aft 5 feet, but the Secretary, had given no special instructions as to the time of commencing the work. Captain Tingey, apparently in view of this contemplated work to be done, addressed the Secretary upon the subject of Mr. Fox's application for leave as follows:
Although I consider that, in obedience to the regulations, the application of Mr. Fox for leave should have been through me, I shall have no objection. I conceive it, however, desirable that we have your instructions relative to moving the place of the foremast of the frigate United States before the furlough of Mr. Fox shall commence.
It does not appear when this detaining business was completed and when Mr. Fox got his leave, but shortly afterward we find him actively engaged in the yard in the preparation of a new scheme for the regulation
of apprentices in the yard, including their number and rate of pay, which was approved and adopted.
In the year 1807 a number of midshipmen were attached to the yard and to the ships in ordinary. Rev. Robert Thompson, a chaplain in the Navy, was ordered to the navy-yard on the special duty of instructing the young gentlemen of the Navy in mathematics and the theory of navigation. Chaplain Thompson having complained to the Secretary of the Navy that he had been removed from the accommodation provided for him on board the U.S.S. Congress, the Secretary immediately addressed the commandant, stating the complaint and asking, "whence has this arisen?" Captain Tingey, in his reply informed the Secretary that the matter occurred during his absence on leave. He had therefore directed Captain Cassin, who was in command during his absence, to inform him of the particulars of the case, and had received Captain Cassin's reply, which he respectfully inclosed.
[Reply of Captain Cassin. ]
NAVY-YARD, Washington, March 10, 1807.
SIR: I had the honor of your letter of this morning, the contents of which shall be duly attended to. Lieutenant Tarbell while living on board the Congress was applied to by Chaplain Thompson to board with him, which was consented to, without any order to that effect. Afterwards Lieutenant Haraden joined the ordinary by express orders, and presuming my authority of sufficient magnitude, I directed him to live on board the Congress, the cabin of which would be for his accommodation, at the same time expressed my wish for Mr. Thompson to be accommodated. But without any other cause assigned whatever, he left the ship, swearing he would have the Congress and no other ship for his purpose.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Capt. THOMAS TINGEY,
It is perhaps proper for us to explain, for the information of any civilian who may read this letter, that it is not at all probable that Chaplain Thompson uttered any profanity on this trying occasion, or that Captain Cassin meant to insinuate that he did. Among old sailors in those days any positive or strong avowal was termed "swearing." Captain Cassin, like many other of our best officers in olden times, was much more at home in handling a ship than in writing elegant or even lucid English.
But for once at least, and for a wonder, the chaplain seems to have found a stout defender of his claim in the Secretary, who, after receiving the above statement, thus writes to the commandant:
I cannot consent that the object for which Mr. Thompson was stationed here shall be thus defeated. Adequate and comfortable accommodations must be provided for him on board one of the ships in ordinary immediately, and I charge you with the execution of the order.
In the previous chapter it has been mentioned that the Chesapeake was preparing for sea early in May, 1806. Towards the latter part of this month, by order of the Department, the equipment was discontinued and the ship again dismantled. But on the 24th of January, 1807,
orders were again received to prepare the ship for sea. A month later, when the ship was nearly completed for service, the commandant of the yard learned to his surprise that the principal officers attached to the Chesapeake had objected to her lower rigging, and directed that alterations be made in her spars, etc. Thereupon the commandant officially requested that permanent regulations be established determining how far the navy-yard is to proceed in fitting or refitting the materials of any ship in future ordered to the yard for equipment prior to the personal presence of the officers ordered to her. "For," continues he, "if we are to be subjected to alterations of finished work when a ship is nearly ready for sea, our labor becomes nugatory and our most strenuous efforts for system will be entirely paralyzed."
The records do not show that the Department at this time adopted any regulations upon this subject, but it is evident in this case, and also in others of similar nature, as will appear hereafter, that authoritative regulations upon this subject were needed.
The following is mentioned in the records as a portion of the work of the yard during the year 1807:
The frigate Essex taken from ordinary and work of repair commenced. Lower masts making for four of the largest class frigates. Building a rigging loft and shelter for boats. Two cables for the Chesapeake. Brigs Argus, Syren, and Nixen repaired.
Thirty thousand pounds of junk were issued to a number of poor persons in the city to be picked to supply the expenditure of oakum.
Work upon the Wasp was also being prosecuted to completion this year, and the frigate United States received some repairs.
The canvas at the navy-yard being represented as deficient in strength, the commandant ordered a board of officers to inspect it. The board, with most commendable frankness and brevity, report as follows:
The American canvas is unfit for navy purposes!
Captain Cassin in the summer of this year having been ordered to plant buoys in the Eastern Branch, to designate the channel, reported that he had planted thirteen and that there were twenty feet of water on the shoal of the bar.
In December of this year, Robert Fulton, of steam-boat fame, appeared at the yard with authority from the Secretary of the Navy to test by experiment the value of a submarine torpedo invention, by which Mr. Fulton proposed to defend our harbors, etc. In the absence of any appropriation this distinguished inventor failed to receive that encouragement and support that was necessary. If Mr. Fulton had been properly encouraged and supported at this time, a system of torpedo attack and defense would probably have been discovered and created that would have produced wondrous results, and might have even changed the events of future history.
As will be seen hereafter, Mr. Fulton, notwithstanding the lack of encouragement which he received at this time, appeared again, after the capture of Washington by the British, at the navy-yard to urge the adoption of these new and powerful weapons of warfare.
Up to 1807 the house for the commandant included in the original plan of the architect, Latrobe, had not been built. But early in the year the commandant addressed the Secretary of the Navy upon the subject as follows:
As we now have as many material buildings as are at present applicable to our purpose, I respectfully suggest the propriety of building a house within the yard for the commandant. If Mr. Latrobe be directed to furnish the plan of this house immediately, it may be commenced in time to complete it in the course of the ensuing summer.
The records do not indicate the exact period when this building was completed and occupied by the commandant, but the work was doubtless commenced this year on the grounds adjacent to the gate, according to the original plan of the architect, Latrobe.
Early in the year 1808, by order of the Secretary of the Navy, a reduction in wages of the employés of the yard was made to the amount of 121/2 per cent., which was supposed would save $1,540.24 per month.
The roll of officers and men of the United States frigates in ordinary, reported by the commanding officer, Captain Cassin, on the 25th of April, 1808, was as follows:
John Cassin, captain commanding; Nathan Haradan, lieutenant; James P. Potts, George Hodges, boatswains; Samuel Keeleg, Salvador Catalano, gunners; James Ord, carpenter; David Cretmyer, master-at-arms; Thos. Johnson, steward; 14 seamen, 24 ordinary seamen; total, 57.
Workmen under direction of Josiah Fox, Naval Constructor, from official report dated
April 25, 1808.
|Foreman, assistant, and four quarter-men
|Boys to turn grindstones, etc.
|Calkers, one foreman and twelve others
|Oakum boys, reamers, etc.
|Gun-carriage makers, including foreman
|Gun-carriage makers' apprentices
|Gun-carriage makers' sawyers
|Gun-carriage makers' laborers
|Gun-carriage makers' inspector
|Gun-carriage makers' apprentice
|Borers, bolt drivers, and carpenter laborers
|Employed on the six gun-boats, building at the yard, 2 quartermen, 25 carpenters, 4 sawyers, 9 laborers, 9 apprentices, boy to turn grindstone, 1 clerk
The expense per day, of the Naval Constructor's Department is reported as follows:
|Shipwrights, calkers, reamers, gun-carriage makers
|Mast makers' department
|Block makers' department
|Boat builders' department
|Joiners', sawyers', etc., department
|Total daily expense of
Naval Construction Department,
Mr. Fox, in a letter accompanying this financial report, expresses himself as strongly opposed to the discharge of any one of the present employés, unless it be the carver, whom he thinks he can spare, to lessen expenses!
He calls attention to the fact that our costliest and finest frigates lying in ordinary are slowly perishing for want of repair and are daily getting worse. He thinks it bad policy and false economy to reduce the number of workmen at this time, unless it be a necessity for lack of appropriation, etc.
On the 27th of March, 1808, Congress enacted a law in relation to the emoluments to which officers attached to navy-yards and other stations were entitled.
This law seemed in some respects to be lacking in clearness. Among other points it left in doubt whether light and fuel were included in the perquisites allowed to officers attached to Washington navy-yard. Captain Cassin, having given a practical interpretation of this law by actually appropriating the articles above named to his own private use, charges were preferred against him for using Government fuel and candles.
But we are glad to learn that a court of inquiry decided that by a fair interpretation of the act aforesaid officers were entitled to these perquisites.
The commandant of the yard, however, was less successful in his effort to secure to himself and the other officers of the yard the emolument of private servants at the expense of the Government.
In a letter to the Secretary of the Navy he "asks the indulgence of keeping on the pay-roll certain persons, servants to different officers of this yard. " Informs the Secretary that it has been a customary "indulgence" common to every officer in the military and marine service and generally in number according to rank, and adds that "he and all the officers attached to the yard hope that the Secretary will be pleased to take the matter into consideration and sanction to them the 'indulgence' common to all their brother officers and also designate the rank of the officers here to be allowed servants and the quantum to each."
To this request the Secretary of the Navy responds:
The commandant of the navy-yard is in error as to its being an established custom for Navy officers on shore to place their private servants upon the pay-rolls, retain them in their respective families, and draw for these servants the same pay and rations as are allowed to the men working in the public service in ordinary. It has been the custom for officers appointed to ships to carry on board with them their servants, who are placed on the roll, the officers drawing their pay and rations, but a servant on board ship is at all times liable to be called into action, and the commanding officer can at any time assign to such servants such duties as in his opinion the public good require. On shore they can not at all times be called into service. The commanding officer can not assign them on any emergency to the performance of any especial duty. Thus the cases do not appear parallel, and the custom on board ship can not apply on shore. There is, therefore, no custom but one of recent origin in the navy-yard here.
The question here arises, ought such a custom now to he established? No. Because it can not be a useful one. To the Army a commissioned officer is entitled to draw one ration per day only, this without pay for a servant belonging to him. In the Marine Corps, the same.
If in the Army and the Marine Corps an officer takes a servant from the line, the servant, not the officer, draws his pay and rations.
Thus, then, the "indulgence," for there is no other name by which it can be called, is sanctioned neither by the usage of the Army, Navy, nor Marine Corps.
An officer in the Army or Marine Corps can draw no pay for servant belonging to him. The officers of the yard here ask pay for their servants--a servant to an officer in the Army or Marine Corps if taken from the line draws his own pay and rations. If not taken from the line the master draws the ration only. Thus were the rule admitted it would become a source of emolument to the Navy officer, whereas the Army officer never can draw any emoluments from the same source.
This decision of the Secretary of the Navy was evidently a surprise and disappointment to Captain Tingey, but there was nothing left him but the inalienable and inestimable privilege of the sailor on land or sea, viz, of "growling," in constrained tone. This the commandant does, in his letter of reply, in this obscure, old-fashioned style. After informing the Secretary that in obedience to instructions he had discharged the servants, to the number of eleven, employed in the yard, "I can not dissemble," he continues, "that I experience some unpleasant feelings at having asked an indulgence that can not be granted, especially as the officers of the yard would be well satisfied to be only on an equality, or even nearly approximating thereto, with those around us not immediately attached to the yard. "
State of gun-boats building at the yard--The arrangements for the armament of the frigate President--Complaint of Captain Bainbridge of an imperfect cable furnished by the yard and its results--Introduction of circular ship-lights--Complaint of Captain Decatur of the rigging of his ship, etc. --Pistols manufactured at the yard--Relics--Summary of work done at the yard in 1811-'12--Minor incidents and events--Scarcity of naval officers at Washington--The British threatening invasion--The commandant unable to secure force sufficient to place the navy-yard in a defensible condition.
On August 6, 1808, in reply to a request of President Jefferson for information as to the state of the gun-boats, ten in number, then building at Washington navy-yard, the naval constructor reported that Nos. 28, 70, 71, 74, 75, and 76 can be launched in twelve days; Nos. 72, 77, and 78 in fifteen days, and No. 73 would require six weeks in which to finish.
These gun-boats were built, it is said, upon a model recommended by Commodore Preble.
Great results were anticipated from these gun-boats as effective weapons of offensive and defensive warfare. These anticipations were never realized. Notwithstanding the ardent and personal patronage of Mr. Jefferson, they proved to be in the end a costly failure. The cost of the simple material used in the ten gun-boats built at Washington, together with the material shipped from the yard for the boats building at Wilmington and New Orleans, was reported to be $8,323.
In the summer of 1808, for the purpose of better governing the temporary absence of officers and employés from the yard during the day, the following leave-of-absence regulations were adopted:
- No officer, mechanic, or laborer attached to the yard shall leave it during the hours of work without permission obtained from the executive officer of the yard, and in case the time of absence shall require more than one hour, he shall apply through the executive to the commandant, in writing, stating the quantum of time wanted and the general nature of the business to be transacted.
- Every application shall be kept on file in the office of the commandant, and if found in his opinion too frequent on the part of any applicant, he shall forthwith report the same to the Department, whose sanction must be secured whenever leave of absence shall require more than one whole day.
The following descriptive detail of the arrangement for the armament of the frigate President, fitted out at Washington navy-yard in the years 1808 and 1809 upon the recommendation of Commodore Rodgers and Captains Bainbridge, Chauncey, and Tingey, who constituted a
board appointed by the Secretary of the Navy for this purpose, will be interesting to naval officers:
The top of the plank shear and sills of the ports to be on a line 7 inches from the deck and 3 feet 6 inches high in the clear. To have nine ports of each side on the quarter-deck and four of a side in the forecastle. To be so placed that the guns may not be obstructed by the rigging. The taffrail rail to be cut down to a corresponding height with the quarter rail and to have the same sweep as the deck abaft. The bowsprit to be lowered 15 inches in the bed, and to have 5 feet less steeve than before. The stern-ports to be the same size as the quarter-deck ports. The knight heads and bulwarks forward to be cut down in a line with the bulwarks abaft, and the rail to be extended so as to admit stowing the hammocks across the bows.
The office of commandant of a navy-yard at all times is a very responsible and trying one, demanding knowledge, patience, and vigilance, as well as executive ability.
The records show many instances in which these qualities were signally displayed by Captain Tingey during his command of the yard. Though slow to acknowledge a mistake or error on his own part, and quick to defend himself against the slightest implication to this effect, he never shrank from any responsibility imposed by his office or attempted to escape therefrom by throwing it upon the shoulders of others.
For example, the records inform us that in the latter part of the year 1809 Captain Bainbridge, then in command of the frigate President, sent an official complaint to the Secretary of the Navy, in which he states that on account of "the extreme insufficiency" of a new cable furnished by the navy-yard his ship had been endangered. Upon receipt of this information Captain Tingey ordered a strict survey of some pieces of the defective cable that had been forwarded from the frigate President. The officers on the survey reported that said cable had been manufactured of weak yarn made of bad hemp, badly cleaned, and generally devoid of strength, etc.
This cable had been furnished, or was supposed to have been furnished, by Richard Parrot, a rope-maker of Georgetown.
Therefore upon the report of the survey Captain Tingey addressed said Parrot, demanding--
First. That he should immediately furnish proof to the Navy Department that the yarns of which said cable was composed was made of good sound hemp, hackled and cleaned, in the usual and regular way.
Second. That these yarns received no damage after spinning to the time of being laid up into the cable aforesaid.
Third. That there were the usual number of yarns to the strand for a rope of that magnitude, properly tarred.
Fourth. That in laying said cable the usual weight of drag was used, and was laid by a competent workman in the usual and proper manner.
This letter is indorsed by Paul Hamilton, Secretary of the Navy, as follows:
"Satisfactory information is deemed indispensable. "
Without going into further detail, it is enough to inform our readers that Mr. Parrot came off with flying colors, first, by giving satisfactory proof that the defective rope was not of his manufacture; second, by finding the rope which he had manufactured for the President still new, unused, and perfect, on board the store-ship General Greene.
The commandant of the yard, as it appears to us, on this trying occasion, might have avoided responsibility by throwing it from his own shoulders upon those of his subordinate officers, or upon Captain Bainbridge himself. For the executive officer, Lieutenant Haraden, reported that the defective cable "was inspected in the yard, looked fair, and was received by Captain Bainbridge after a personal examination. " But without the least attempt to shirk responsibility Captain Tingey replies to a letter of complaint upon the subject from C. W. Goldsborough, Acting Secretary of the Navy, as follows:
Such has been the hasty and extreme importunity we have experienced from the officers lately fitting out at this yard, from their laudable zeal for every possible and practicable dispatch, that it will not be surprising to me if many more extraordinary mistakes or errors shall appear besides the one alluded to in your letter.
In the summer of 1809 a few specimen circular skylights of solid glass, manufactured at Boston, were introduced at the navy-yard for the first time. All that were on hand, to the number of six, were immediately appropriated by Captain Decatur for his ship, the United States, to the great disappointment of the officers in command of the other ships in commission. The Secretary of the Navy however approved the invention, and ordered that all our ships should be supplied with these new lights.
But though successful in securing the new skylights, Captain Decatur was not satisfied with his ship in all respects, and we find in the records an official document addressed to the Secretary of the Navy, in which Captain Decatur finds fault with the lower rigging of his ship. This complaint being referred to the commandant of the navy-yard, Captain Tingey, in his reply, expresses his sorrow "that the Secretary should be troubled by such unpleasant representations, but that he could suggest no remedy until a systematic scale is adopted for all the spars, rigging, and equipment of the ships, according to rate and size, from which no officer shall deviate. Officers are now guided each by his own opinion, and my opinion is that the lower rigging of the United States is made sufficiently large, though I have no desire that my judgment shall be binding on other officers against their own. " With this letter he inclosed to the Secretary a letter from Commodore Rodgers on the same subject, in which Commodore Rodgers writes as follows:
I shall never think that there is even a probability of the Navy becoming respectable until there is an attempt made to reduce to system our dock-yards and everything connected with the equipment of our ships. At present every three ships costs the Government as much as four could do if the proper system was once established, obliging the commander of every ship to abide by it without deviation.
There are scarcely two of us at present who entertains the same opinion as to the masting or sparring of a ship, the quantity of stores she ought to have, the kind of armament most suited to her rate, nor in fact of anything else from truck to a cap from jolly-boat to the ship herself. This, however, is not owing to our ignorance in such matters, but the natural result of being left too much to our own wills.
In January, 1809, in the absence of the Secretary of the Navy, Hon. S. R. Bradley, chairman of the Senate Naval Committee, addressed Captain Tingey, inquiring as to the condition of the frigates in ordinary at the navy-yard, and the expense and time that would be required to prepare them for active service.
Captain Tingey, in his letter of reply, states that--
The United States, the Essex, and John Adams are in as good order in their hulls as on the day they were launched, and can be rigged in a few weeks.
The frigates Congress and Adams might also proceed to a station at the mouth of any of our bays and harbors, but their hulls are not in condition to bear the sea in heavy weather.The frigates Constitution and New York are unfit to proceed from this yard until they have had thorough repairs.
The President is now progressing under a thorough repair and may be ready for sea in May next, if our force is not reduced.
Upon the receipt of this report, Congress ordered that this last named ship, together with the John Adams and Essex, be immediately equipped for sea and that this work should be done with all possible dispatch. The commandant of the yard was authorized to employ an additional force of 28 carpenters, 20 joiners, 16 sail-makers, 12 riggers, 8 coopers, 4 painters, 4 boat builders, 4 blacksmiths, and 1 tinman.
These ships, in addition to the usual armament, upon the recommendation of Captain Tingey and other naval officers, were supplied each with a small number of rifles, purchased from Baltimore. The pistols with which these frigates were supplied were manufactured at the navy-yard. Indeed, at different periods in the history of this navy-yard up to its disastrous destruction by fire in 1814, there were, experimental efforts made to manufacture within the yard, not only armament, but every piece of nautical mechanism required by a man of war.
Wm. Small is mentioned as a manufacturer of mathematical instruments, but seems not to have been successful in his work, as the records mention his dismissal in September, 1809. The naval constructor, Josiah Fox, also retired from duty at the yard this year; this man seems to have been a conscientious and competent officer, but was dismissed upon the recommendation of the commandant on the 4th of May, 1809, after a service of five years, on the ground that there was no longer any occasion for his services as naval constructor. He and the commandant seem not at all times, or, indeed, at any time, to have been in hearty accord with each other.
In reply to a letter of inquiry from the Secretary of the Navy, dated October 13, 1809, as to the history of two pieces of brass cannon found at the navy-yard, upon one of which was engraved the word "Garzon. "
and upon the other "Generoso," we find the following response from the commandant, Captain Tingey:
WASHINGTON NAVY-YARD, 13th October, 1809.
SIR: Since receipt of your letter of 10th instant, expressing a desire to ascertain from what source two brass 6-pounder cannon came into our possession, I have endeavored to obtain positive information thereon from the officers of the yard, but without such effect as to leave the fact entirely clear of doubt.
The cannon are of Spanish royal manufacture, bearing the arms, etc., of Charles IV, and it is believed were brought to the yard by the brig Franklin when she arrived first from the Mediterranean, hence it is highly probable that they are the two pieces taken at Derne.
CHARLES W. GOLDSBOROUGH, Esq.
(For the Secretary of the Navy.)
The Tripolitan city of Derne was captured early in the year 1805 by a few hundred men led by an adventurous American ex-consul or agent named William Eaton, assisted by our Navy under the command of Captain Hull.
The records for the year 1810 show no diminution of activity in the various departments of the yard. Fewer ships were under repair but there was considerable internal improvement.
A new saw-mill and a block mill, with very expensive machinery, were erected and a manufactory of barrels established. The sail loft was new roofed; a new steam-engine built and put in effective working order, and considerable repair and improvement made in the buildings of the yard. There was also the usual exportation of supplies from the yard to Norfolk, New Orleans, and other points. One shipment to the squadron at New Orleans is thus mentioned:
Shipped from this navy-yard to the squadron on station at New Orleans, stores, comprising master's, carpenter's, boatswain's, sail-maker's and gunners' stores for one year. Shipped March 18, 1810, on the good ship William Yeaton, Richard Hepburn, master for the present voyage. Estimated value, $17,000.
The following is a condensed summary of the work accomplished in Washington navy-yard in the years 1811 and 1812, taken from official manuscript documents in the Bureau of Yards and Docks:
SUMMARY OF THE WORK IN WASHINGTON NAVY-YARD IN THE YEARS 1811 AND 1812.
Brig Vixen. The brig Vixen having been hauled up in wharf in the fall of the preceding year on the 4th of January, 1811, her bottom was completely coppered from the keel up, and on the 5th she was launched. Then, several new knees were fitted to her gun-deck beams. Her upperworks were made entirely new, and her gun-deck and all the store rooms, cabin, ward-room, etc., completed. The whole of her rigging was refitted, being replaced by a new set. Her spars and sails were repaired and some of each made new. She was furnished with new cables and painted throughout. Being completely fitted for sea, with her equipment of ammunition and stores, she sailed from the yard on the 30th of May.
Brig Hornet. The brig Hornet was hauled up on the 10th of January, 1811. Her upperworks, futtocks, beams, breasthooks, and main transom and most of her floor timbers being rotten, she was completely rebuilt, with new compartments within and
joiners' work throughout. She was also new coppered and launched on the 11th of May, same year.
A ship, not named in official report, was rigged with an entire new set of masts, spars, rigging, and cable. Her sails, cabin furniture, and nearly her whole equipment of ammunition, stores, etc., were supplied from the yard. She was ready for sea on the 20th of September, virtually and to all appearance a new ship.
Schooner Enterprise. This schooner arrived at the yard for repairs on the 24th of February, 1811. After being unrigged and relieved of her armament and stores, new rigging and sails were refitted, her masts taken out, alterations made of her interior, her bends and upperworks repaired and calked. She was careened and her copper cleaned and repaired, was painted throughout, and furnished with new armament and ammunition and a general supply of provisions and stores. She sailed from the yard April 25th.
Ship Wasp. This ship arrived at the yard May 21, 1811. After being dismantled, her armament removed, and emptied of her stores and ballast, she was careened, keel cut on both sides, her bottom cleaned and copper repaired, rigging and sails repaired, painted throughout, equipped completely, and was ready for sea on the last week of July. We find the following addenda to the official report from which these notes are taken:
[NOTE. The Wasp was built at this yard by the workmen on daily pay at the very same time that the Hornet was built by contract at Baltimore, and by the same draught. It has been authoritatively stated that the Hornet is so rotten as to necessitate complete rebuilding. On thorough examination of the Wasp previous to careening, only one unsound timber was found in her. ]
Frigate Adams. In August, 1811, the Adams was fitted for a receiving-ship, her decks calked, quartered and deck-sheathed, and fitted up comfortably for her officers and men.
Schooner Enterprise. October, 1811, this schooner arrived again at this yard. She was hauled up, cut down and stripped to her floor timbers, entirely rebuilt, coppered, launched, and rigged as a brig. Her hull was much improved and she was furnished with new sets of masts, spars, sails and rigging, and supply of stores. Her armament was changed from long light guns to carronades and two heavy Chase guns with new carriages and other apparatus thereto pertaining. She was equipped and sailed from the yard a complete, staunch vessel, in all respects as good as new.
Frigate Congress. This ship in the preceding year was thoroughly repaired in the carpenters' work of her hull to an extent nearly equal to rebuilding. During the year 1811 the interior arrangements in joiners' work were entirely newly refitted. In October and November of this year the carpenters made alterations in her decks. She was masted and sparred, furnished with new sails and rigging, cable boats, water casks, gun carriages, etc. After being supplied with stores she left the yard a better ship than when first launched.
Frigate Constellation. In February, 1812, this ship was brought up to wharf, stripped down to her lower futtocks, which, with her floor timber, were replaced with new and built up entirely new; she was much improved by an extension of 14 inches more beam at the main breadth; her hull was finished; she was masted and careened, new copper bolts driven through her bottom and riveted, three new metal rudder braces fixed to her stern-post, and a new rudder made; she was new coppered, her joiners' work fitted new and complete; was furnished with new water casks, gun-carriages, masts, spars, rigging, cables, sails, boats, and stores, and in the fall of the year left the yard a better ship than when first fresh from the stocks.
Gun-boat No. 59, remodeled and renamed. In March, 1812, this old gun-boat was hauled up and cut down to her floor timbers and rebuilt with much improvement; was coppered, launched, and rigged anew; was supplied with new sails and boats, new armaments, etc., and thus fitted out she was named Scorpion.
Frigate Constitution. This ship reached the yard April, 1812; her armaments, etc.,
being removed, she was careened and newly coppered; received new foremast and bowsprit; many of her spars were altered; she was rigged, refitted, and her sails repaired or replaced by new; she was equipped for sea and sailed again in fine order.
Frigate Adams. This frigate in June, 1812, was hauled up on the ways; was cut asunder at deadflat and lengthened 15 feet, and from thence was entirely rebuilt and new coppered; her masts were made anew; spars, sails, gun-carriages, etc., made and ready to go on board and nearly finished at the close of the year.
Gun-boats. Nine gun-boats which had been sometime in the stocks and in part built in the summer of 1812 wore finished aud launched; they were equipped with new masts, sails, etc., and armed each with one 18-pounder long gun mounted on pivot carriages, and two 32 pound carronades, and with bed and slide carriages, etc.
Brig Nautilus. This brig came to the yard during this year, received some slight repairs, supplies, stores, etc., and sailed again.
Miscellaneous mention. Besides these repairs to shipping in the years 1811-12, there was also much internal improvement made in the yard: in the steam-engine and sawmill departments, and in building additional stores to two of the warehouses; the masting sheers were repaired and erected again; a large scow fitted up for anchor hoy, to aid in transporting the shipping, weighing anchors, etc., and the usual exportation to other ports of provisions, armaments, etc.
MINOR INCIDENTS AND EVENTS IN THE HISTORY OF THE YARD IN THE YEARS 1811, 1812, AND 1813.
The records of the years above-named are full of minor incidents and events connected with the life of the yard, a few of which we will hastily relate:
In the year 1811 Lieut. J. Blakely was in command of the schooner Enterprise, which was then undergoing repair at the yard. The ship being ready for service her commander sent in a requisition for cabin furniture, upon which we find the following indorsement by the commandant of the yard:
This vessel was fitted out from this yard in 1808. She was at that lime furnished with silver tablespoons, teaspoons, and other usual plate, with chairs, tables, etc., including all the customary articles for the cabin, not one single material of which has been returned with her. I also consider it my duty to inform the Secretary that all the vessels equipped from this yard have been furnished with boatswains' calls of silver, very few of which have been returned.
A DISTINGUISHED EMPLOYÉ OF THE YARD.
In the month of January, 1812, a Frenchman named Louis Rose appeared at the yard bearing a letter from Mr. Latrobe, in which said Rose was strongly recommended to be employed as overseer and director of the block mill. From a letter addressed to Captain Cassin, whom Rose had previously met in France, we learn that he (Rose) was a native of L'Orient; that he had constructed a block manufactory for "the late king," Louis XVI, probably; also one at Brest on a much larger scale impelled by water. These machines, so the letter said, had given great satisfaction to lovers of mechanical art--French and foreign. The letter further stated that Mr. Rose had made frequent applications for permission to quit France, but without success until Bonaparte returned to France after being crowned King of Italy, when, with
reluctance, he was permitted to leave the country. The letter, in short, enumerated a long list of accomplishments, of which, if the bearer possessed one-half, he must have been found to be a great acquisition to the navy-yard.
Captain Cassin, who had long faithfully served as second officer, was detached from the yard in the year 1812 and ordered to the command of the navy-yard at Norfolk.
PRICE OF "GOOD" WHISKY IN 1812.
The records inform us that on August 6, of this year, Mr. John Eliason, of Georgetown, sold to the yard for Navy use, 120 barrels of " good whisky " at 52 cents per gallon.
The naval department of the yard, therefore, seems to have been well supplied at home, but we learn that in the absence of any other provision, a practice had grown among the civilian mechanics and laborers of the yard to send out, daily, men or boys to bring in liquor for their use.
The commandant objected to this practice on the grounds that such errands necessitated the frequent breaking off from work on the part of those engaged, for an hour or more, thus resulting in the loss of time and labor owed to the Government. Thereupon the blacksmiths of the yard sent in a formal complaint to the Secretary of the Navy, "that they are not allowed refreshments while engaged at heavy work."
But the commandant, with characteristic finesse, managed to hold firmly to his purpose and at the same time allow the desired "refreshment," as will appear in the following additional order or permit which he issued:
If such an indulgence is necessary, the liquor may be brought into the yard at bell-ringing.
The practice of duelling, which the modern time spirit has overthrown, at least in Great Britain and in our own country, still prevailed everywhere at the time of which we write. Among the records of this date, we find a letter to the Secretary of the Navy, indorsed by the commandant, from Midshipman G. Lynch, who was slowly recovering from a severe wound received in a duel. The letter is a request that full pay may be allowed him during his disability, and that he may be placed in such service as in his present state he may be able to perform. Neither the name of his opponent nor the cause of the quarrel are to be found in the records, but the commandant, in his letter of indorsement, says:
I do not think that Midshipman Lynch was to blame in the affair.
On November 13, 1813, Richard Parrot, esq., was appointed Navy agent for the Washington navy-yard, and it was ordered by the Secretary of the Navy "that all requisitions of money or supplies for navy-
yard and vessels building or equipping or in ordinary will be made on him. All condemned articles and all surplus from vessels will be under his charge and will be disposed of by him under the direction of the Department."
This is at least the second official appointment of a civilian to the naval agency of the yard, and it would seem, in view of the laborious duties belonging to the office of commandant, that this responsible and vexatious additional duty would not at any time be imposed upon him, but for want of sufficient salary, or for other reasons not given in the records, it appears that Mr. Parrot soon resigned the naval agency and this additional laborious office again reverted to the commandant of the yard and continued to be imposed upon him until the close of his career.
THE UNLUCKY OFFICER.
On May 20, 1813, the Secretary of the Navy ordered a court of inquiry to be held at the Washington navy-yard in regard to the circumstances attending the surrender of the United States brig of war Viper, while under the command of Lieut. John D. Henley, to the British ship Narcissus.
Neither the merits of the case nor the decision of the court appear in the records.
SCARCITY OF NAVAL OFFICERS AT WASHINGTON.
In May, 1813, the commandant, having been instructed to order a court-martial to try a midshipman for some alleged offense, reports to the Secretary of the Navy that there are not enough officers in Washington to form a court, and inquires whether the Secretary will order officers from Baltimore for the purpose or whether said midshipman shall be sent down to the frigate Adams, then lying at Norfolk, for trial. As we were at this time at war with Great Britain, Congress having formally declared war June 18, 1812, it is not surprising that we learn of the scarcity of naval officers at the capital. The capital, unfortunately for us, was not supposed to be in any danger of attack by the enemy, who were already off our coast in overwhelming force, and hence the few officers at this time constituting the Navy were on duty at other posts. Baltimore was supposed to be the point that would be first selected by the enemy for attack.
By order of the Secretary 9 and 12-pounder guns were furnished from the Washington yard to individuals and volunteer companies at Baltimore.
Commodore Joshua Barney was at this time in command of a defensive flotilla in the Chesapeake Bay, and this officer had carte blanche from the Secretary to the commandant of Washington navy-yard, for cannon, ammunition, or any other articles that he required for the use of his flotilla. In addition, all the flotilla force attached to the vessels at the navy-yard was ordered to be sent with the galleys to
except ten men attached to the brig Asp, to join Commodore Barney and assist in his effort to watch and harass the enemy, who were in controlling force, moving to and fro in the Chesapeake threatening different points, and occasionally landing on either shore, to pillage and burn. Those who had the temerity to offer resistance were shot or carried off as prisoners of war to the squadron.
The commandant, in July, 1813, with the aid of the mechanics that were left in the yard, attempted to place the navy-yard in some kind of defensive condition, but he found himself without force sufficient. In a letter to the Secretary he informed him that he had endeavored to retain the few artificers attached to the yard in order to aid in mounting some heavy guns on the Wind Mill Point, but "I am prevented by the militia officers sending in files of men and taking out their absentees to attend muster. It is my belief," continues the commandant, "that they will be much more effectively employed for the defense of the city and the navy-yard by working here under my command. " At this time we had been at war with Britain for more than a year. Her fleets had already appeared at the Potomac and Patuxeut Rivers, and yet, for reasons that are not apparent to us, unless it were a sense of security from attack, very little if any effort on the part of the Navy Department was directed to fortify the navy-yard against the assault of an invading enemy.
But it appears evident that, even without Congressional legislation, the navy-yard might have been so fortified during the years 1812 and 1813 and our ships at the yard so armed and arranged, that it would have afforded a tolerably secure refuge to General Winder and his retreating army of raw militia after the defeat at Bladensburgh in the following year. Looking from our stand-point it would appear that no great expenditure of labor or money would have been required to have rendered it, at least, impregnable against the assault of General Ross with his small army and no artillery.
The capture of Washington and destruction of navy-yard--Captain Tingey's vivid account of the same--Concluding remarks upon the criticism of historians in regard to this disaster.
There are to-day statesmen who sit in the councils of the nation and oppose by plausible and eloquent argument, and by vote, all efforts to put our principal harbors in defensive condition, and to keep our Army and Navy abreast of those of other civilized countries. One gives as the reason of his opposition the great cost of modern defenses and armaments, and their experimental, transitional condition in view of the advancing strides of victorious science. Another that they are needless, since, in their minds, we have entered upon a new era of "Peace" impossible to be interrupted for a hundred years to come.
There were statesmen in Congress nearly a hundred years ago precisely of the same mind and mold. At the time to which we refer we were at war with Great Britain, and her men-of-war, crowded with trained sailors and soldiers, were hovering about Chesapeake Bay and along our coasts, pillaging, burning, and destroying life and property.
But notwithstanding all this, these hopeful optimists were confident that there was no danger of an invasion of the District of Columbia by the enemy, and therefore no need to spend money in providing against a contingency so improbable, and they voted down the Congressional resolution to place the city and its approaches by land or water beyond the possibility of successful assault, on the ground, that no such measures were necessary, and thus, unconsciously, practically preordained the sad and disgraceful event which otherwise would not, and could not have happened, viz, the capture of the capital of the nation and the destruction of millions of property.
"Why should not the enemy be content with the complete control of Chesapeake Bay? Why should they leave the rich tobacco fields, the hen roosts, melon patches, etc., lying so near at hand on either shore and venture so far inland merely to take possession of the capital and play 'Hun and havoc' for a few hours?"
Thus spoke the prophets of peace and champions of economy in the Congress of 1813-14. Those who held these opinions were largely in the majority, and as is usual, according to Matthew Arnold, were wrong. The enemy came. The unexpected, and unprepared for, happened. On the 19th of August, 1814, a portion of the Army and
Navy of the British, numbering a few thousand men, under the commands of General Ross and Rear-Admiral Sir George Cockburn, debarked from their ships on Patuxent River and commenced a forward threatening movement towards Washington. Commodore Barney was compelled to burn and abandon what was called by the sounding name of "American Flotilla," under his command, lying at the head of the Patuxent. It consisted of a small fleet of gun-boats or galleys manned by a body of seamen and marines. Advancing by the way of Bladensburg the enemy moved slowly forward. They had no cavalry and but little and very light artillery, yet they met with no serious or systematic resistance. The British general even to the last moment so maneuvered that we were left in doubt whether he would enter Washington via Bladensburg or Navy-Yard bridge. Our extemporized army of raw militia, under the command of General Winder, divided into squads stationed along the line of approach, were easily beaten in detail, and the only serious resistance the enemy encountered was that made by Commodore Barney with the sailors and marines under his command. Taking a favorable position he used his guns effectively and for a time held the enemy in check, but his position was soon flanked, and he was taken prisoner. Commodore Barney is reported to have been severely wounded in this engagement, but as on the 25th of September following he is officially reported to have carried a flag of truce to the British Admiral Cochrane on the Chesapeake, his wounds do not appear to have disabled him but for a short time.
The enemy reached Washington on the evening of the 24th of August and held possession of the city until about the same hour of the evening of the following day, when they very quietly, but leisurely, retired, without the slightest molestation, in slow marches, to their ships, which they reached on the evening of the 29th of August, and re-embarked on the following day. It is not in our province nor our purpose to detail the incidents and events that attended the occupancy of the city by the British Army only so far as they are connected with the navy-yard. The main object of the expedition, as officially declared by the British general, was the destruction of the public buildings, especially of the navy-yard and shipping.
This latter task, as will presently appear, was anticipated and partly accomplished by Captain Tingey by order of the Secretary of the Navy, as soon as he was officially informed that our Army was in full retreat and could no longer protect him, the enemy having gained possession of the city. The matches were applied by our own hands to the buildings and shipping almost simultaneously with those applied to the other public buildings of the city by the hands of the enemy, and Captain Tingey, as he informs us, sailed in his boat from the blazing yard towards Alexandria in the light of the burning Capitol.
General Ross, in his official report, includes the navy-yard and shipping, with the other public property, destroyed by his own orders. He
no doubt issued such order, and probably was not aware of our sacrificial agency in the affair. Possibly he may have supposed that the detachment of his troops that occupied the yard during the night of the 24th and burned the detail- issuing- store building, that had escaped the flames, early on the morning of the 25th, was wholly instrumental in the work of destruction. In any event he was, doubtless, assured that the Washington navy-yard and shipping were destroyed.
As the most interesting and most reliable information connected with the history of the yard at this period we now introduce the official statements of the commandant to the Secretary of the Navy in which he graphically details his own movements during the trying ordeal, and gives a clear detailed account of the property destroyed in the navy-yard, and the condition of the yard upon the evacuation of the enemy.
DESTRUCTION OF WASHINGTON NAVY-YARD.
[Report of the Commandant. ]
NAVY-YARD, Washington, August 27, 1814.
After receiving your orders of 24th instant, directing the public shipping, stores, etc., at this establishment to be destroyed in case of the success of the enemy over our Army, no time was lost in making the necessary arrangements for firing the whole and preparing boats for departing from the yard, as yon had suggested.
About 4 p.m. I received a message by an officer from the Secretary of War, with information that he could protect me no longer. Soon after this I was informed that the conflagration of the Eastern Branch Bridge had commenced, and in a few moments the explosion announced the blowing up of that part near the draw, as had been arranged in the morning. The intended fate of the yard had been promulgated as much as in my power among the inhabitants of the vicinity, in order that they might take every possible precaution for the safety of themselves and their property. Immediately after the announcement of my purpose, several individuals came in succession endeavoring to persuade me to deviate from my instructions. I invariably informed them that their efforts were unavailing unless they could bring me your written instructions countermanding those previously given. A deputation of the most respectable women came also on the same errand. I was painfully necessitated to inform them that any further importunities would cause the matches to be instantly applied to the trains. I, however, at the same time gave them the assurance that if left at peace I would delay the execution of my orders as long as possible. Captain Creighton's arrival at the yard, with the men who had been with him at the bridge, about 5 o'clock, would have justified me in instant operation, but he also was strenuous in the desire to obviate the intended destruction, and volunteered to ride out and gain positive information as to the position of the enemy, under the hope that our Army might have rallied and repulsed them. I was myself indeed very desirous of delay, for the reason that the wind was then blowing fresh from the southwest, and immediate action probably would have caused the destruction of all the neighboring private property north and east of the yard. I was of the opinion that the close of the evening would bring with it a calm, in which, happily, we were not disappointed. Other gentlemen, well mounted, volunteered, as Captain Creighton had done, to go out and bring in positive intelligence of the situation and movements of the enemy.
The evening came, and with much anxiety I awaited the return of Captain Creighton. Rumors continually reached me that the enemy was at the Marine Barracks at the Capitol Hill, and that an advancing army had reached Georgetown. I therefore determined to wait only until half past 8 o'clock to execute my orders, becoming apprehensive
that from his long delay Captain Creighton had fallen into the hands of the enemy.
During this delay I ordered a few marines and other persons who were then near me to go off in one of the small galleys. Colonel Wharton, in command of marines, furnished with a small boat, left the yard between 7 and 8 o'clock. Twenty minutes past 8 Captain Creighton returned. He was still extremely adverse to the destruction of the property, but having informed him that my orders were imperative, the proper disposition of the boats being made, the matches were applied, and in a few minutes the whole was in a state of irretrievable conflagration. When about leaving the wharf I observed the fire had commenced at the works at Greenleaf's Point, and in the way out of the Branch we observed the Capitol on fire. It was my intention to remain with my boat in the vicinity of the yard during the night, but having Captain Creighton and other gentlemen with me, the boat was too much overladen and encumbered to render this determination proper. We therefore proceeded to Alexandria, in the vicinity of which I rested until the morning of the 25th, when, about half past 7 o'clock, with my gig and crew, I returned to the yard, where I landed unmolested about 9 o'clock.
The schooner Lynx was lying alongside the burning wharf, still unhurt. Hoping to save her we hauled her to the quarter of the hulk of the New York, which had also escaped the ravage of the flames. The detail-issuing store of the navy store-keeper had also remained safe from the fire during the night. But the enemy being in force in the yard during the night, set fire to this building about 8 o'clock in the morning, and it was speedily consumed. It appeared that they had left the yard very shortly before our arrival. I found my dwelling-house and that of Lieutenant Haraden untouched by fire, but some of the people of the neighborhood had commenced plundering them. Hastily collecting a few persons known to me, I got some of my most valuable materials moved to neighbors' houses, out of the yard, who tendered me their offers to receive them--the officers of the enemy having declared private property sacred.
Could I have remained another hour I would have, probably, saved all my furniture and stores, but being advised by some friends that I was not safe, they believing that the Admiral was by that time informed, or would very speedily be informed, of my being in the yard, he having expressed an anxious desire to make me captive, but had said that the officers' dwellings in the yard should not be destroyed, I therefore again embarked in the gig, taking along with me out of the branch one of the new launches, which lay safe, though alongside of a floating stage enveloped in flames.
I had no sooner gone than such a scene of devastation and plunder by the people of the neighborhood took place in the houses as is disgraceful to relate. Not a movable article, from the cellars to the garrets, has been left us, and even some of the fixtures and the locks of the doors have been shamefully pillaged. From the number and movements of the enemy it would have been rash temerity to have attempted returning to the yard that day, though I felt strongly inclined to do so. Therefore, at a convenient distance, I observed, as well as I could from my gig, the movements of the enemy until evening, when I again returned to Alexandria. On the morning of the 26th, from the anxious and contradictory reports prevailing at Alexandria it was impossible to form any probable conjecture of the condition or movements either of our own forces or those of the enemy. I determined, therefore, to have a positive knowledge, to some extent at least, from ocular demonstration. Accordingly embarking in the gig I proceeded with due caution to the yard, where I learned with chagrin the pillage before mentioned. I found to my great surprise that the old gun-boat, which had been loaded with provisions and had grounded in endeavoring to get out of the Branch on the evening of the 24th, was nearly discharged of her cargo by a number of persons acting independently of one another. Having landed in the yard I learned that the enemy had left the city, excepting only a sergeant's guard for the
security of the sick and wounded. I accordingly ordered Lieutenant Haraden to return from Alexandria, with the men from the ships in ordinary and the few marines there, and at evening we again took full possession of the yard.
I am now collecting the scattered purloined provisions, presuming that they will now become very scarce indeed. I will as soon as possible report to you the quantity saved. The Lynx is safe, except that her foremast was carried away in the storm of the 25th instant. We have also another of the gun-boats, with about 100 barrels of powder, one of the large yard cutters nearly full, with the filled cylinders for our different guns previously mounted.
I would most willingly have an interview with you, but deem it improper to leave my station without some justifiable cause or in pursuance of your instructions, under which I am ready to proceed wherever my services may be thought useful.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, sir, your obedient servant,
Hon. WILLIAM JONES,
Secretary of the Navy.
[Second report of the commandant. ]
OCTOBER 18, 1814.
Sir: On a review of the consequences which emanated from the retreat of our Army, and the entrance of that of the enemy into this city, on the 24th of August last, so far as relates to this establishment, I respectfully submit the following general statement:
After receiving repeated contradictory statements relative to the strength and position of the enemy during the afternoon and evening of that day, at twenty minutes past 8 I received incontestible proof (by Captain Creighton and Mr. M. Booth, my clerk, both of whom had been voluntarily active to obtain me positive information) that the enemy was in complete possession of the city, having themselves been within range of and exposed to the fire of his musketry.
The boats for our conveyance from the yard, being stationed according to order, we immediately repaired down the yard, applying fire to the trains leading to the store-houses, the principal of which were almost instantly in irresistible flame.
Advancing towards the boats, those to the new frigate Essex and to the sloop-of-war Argus were touched, and they were also immediately enveloped in a sheet of inextinguishable fire.
From a momentary impulse and faint hope of recovering the new schooner Lynx, I directed her not to be fired, and have the satisfaction to say that, by an almost miraculous escape, she is still "ours."
The frigate Essex's hull, in the shipwrights' department, was very near complete, her bottom ready for coppering, and she could have been launched in ten days; her masts and spars were nearly finished, with timber sufficient on the wharf to complete them; all her blocks, dead-eyes, and the major part of her gun-carriages ready.
Two suits of her heavy sails, and nearly the same quantity of her stores, were finished in the sail-loft ready for bending, her standing rigging, etc., fitted in the rigging-loft, and sufficient running rigging in store for her complete equipment, her largest boats nearly ready for launching, all her water-casks and every material of cooper work ready to go on board.
The sloop-of-war Argus lay at the wharf with all her armament and equipment on board except her sails, which were in the sail-loft, and her provisions in the stores, and therein consumed, and except her powder, which had not been shipped.
A large quantity of timber, plank, knees, etc., were in different parts of the, yard, and the seventy-four gun ship timber, stored in the appropriate sheds, all fell a prey
to the devouring element; also one large and one smaller row-galley both armed, rigged, and prepared for service, and three heavy-armed scows, with their guns, etc., on board also ready.
The buildings destroyed by the fire from the frigates were the mast-shed and timber-shed, the joiners and boat-builders' shops and mold-loft, all the offices, the medical store, the plumbers' and smiths' shops and block-makers' shop; the saw-mill and the block-mill, with their whole apparatus, tools, and machinery, the building for the steam-engine, and all the combustible parts of its machinery and materials; the rigging-loft, the apartments for the master and the boatswain of the yard, with all their furniture.
The gun-carriage makers' and painters' shops, with all the materials and tools therein at the time; also the hulls of the old frigates Boston, New York, and General Greene.
The store-houses first fired were the provision stores, gunners' and ordnance store, cordage store, and sail-loft.
The navy store-keeper's detail-issuing store, containing in its different apartments a large quantity of new canvas, twine, lines, bunting, and colors, together with all our stock of mathematical instruments and nautical apparatus appertaining to navigation, ship-chandlery, tools, nails, oils, paints, etc., had escaped through the night the effect of the fire; but it was fired by the enemy on the succeeding morning, the 25th, and entirely consumed with all its contents, as were also the coopers' shops, two small frame timber-sheds, and that in which our tar, pitch, rosin, etc., were deposited.
The general loss of our papers prevents the possibility of forming a just estimate of the loss in the mechanical departments heretofore enumerated; of that relative to the stores on hand, in the navy store-keeper's peculiar charge, it is presumed a tolerably accurate estimate may be formed, and will be the subject of a future communication, which shall be transmitted as soon as it is possible to effect.
In my return to the yard on the 26th, I had the mortification to observe that the provisions which had been loaded on board the old gun-boat No. 140, (and with which she had grounded, in endeavoring to get out of the Branch on the 24th), had become a prey to numerous unauthorized persons, some of whom, however, instantly offered to deliver up all in their possession, which was subsequently done, but several barrels are yet to be accounted for.
A subject of still greater regret is the loss of upwards of 200 barrels of powder, which were instantly and unauthorizedly taken out of the magazine, and chiefly thrown into the water, the cause of which, however, being under investigation by a court-martial on the corporal of the marine guard then there, I forbear to enlarge on the subject as my feelings would dictate.
Hon. WILLIAM JONES,
[Third report of the commandant. ]
NAVY-YARD, Washington, November 9, 1814.
Sir: I have the honor to transmit to you herewith a general statement of the movable articles at this establishment on the 24th of August last, previous to the entrance of the enemy into this city, together with the cost or estimated value of those recovered since the fire at the yard, and a statement of the real loss resulting therefrom.
This business has been much delayed from the want of data to ascertain all the particulars lost, and from the daily difference by accumulation in collecting the incombustible
articles from the ruins of the warehouses, etc., from whence more is expected to be obtained yet, which will be instantly reported when ascertained, together with any omissions which it in probable have been made, though it is believed, if any, only to an inconsiderable amount.
I am not yet in possession of the calculations of the artist who was referred to for the value of the wood and interior work of the several buildings destroyed, and therefore defer any report on the damage of the brick or stone work, and all other immovable matter until I have that most material information as it respects the buildings.
Hon. WILLIAM JONES,
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF LOSS.
No. 1. Store-keeper's detail-issuing store.--A three-story brick building, 60 feet long by 40 feet, with cellar under the whole. This with masons' work and material glaziers', carpenters', etc., work and materials all destroyed, except 63 perch of stone in the foundation, which remains undamaged.
No. 2. Cordage store and sail-loft.--A three-story brick building, 102 feet by 40, with cellar under this, with the masons' work and material, carpenters', etc., work and materials, all destroyed; 78 perch of stone in the foundation remaining uninjured.
No. 3. Ordnance store and depot for ship's stores.--Brick building, two stories, 240 feet by 60, and cellars under. Masons' work and materials, carpenters', etc., work and materials all destroyed; 205 perch of stone in the foundation remaining uninjured.
No. 4. Timber-shed, mold-loft, offices, etc.--Brick and stone masons' work and materials, carpenters', etc., work and materials, 150 perch of foundation uninjured, and the brick only partially injured.
No. 5. Rigging-loft, gun-carriage-maker's and painter's shop.--Brick and stone masons' work and materials, carpenters' work and materials. Foundation uninjured; walls partially injured.
No. 6. Blacksmith's and plumber's shop, and medical store.--Brick and stone masons' work and materials, carpenters', etc., work and materials destroyed; walls and foundation fit for use.
No. 7. Saw-mill, block-mill and engine-house.--Brick and stone masons' work and materials, carpenters', etc., work and materials, destroyed; walls and foundation fit for use.
No. 8. Block-maker's shop.--Brick and stone masons' work and materials, carpenters', etc., work and materials destroyed; walls and foundation fit for use.
No. 9. Cooper's shop.--A frame building, mast and spar shed, very old, saw-shed and pitch-house, two old spar-sheds, all consumed.
The estimated value of the movable articles at the Washington navy-yard previous to the fire was $678,210.71.
|One large row gallery
|Two smaller row galleys
|One armed scow
|Gun-boats, row-boats, etc.
|Blacksmiths' and plumbers' shop
|Gun-carriage makers' shop
|Ordnance stores, etc.
|Naval stores, cordage, etc.
|Copper, iron, lead, etc.
|Navy store-keepers' stores
|Ordnance, small arms, etc.
|Provisions and contingencies
|Timber, plank, knees, etc.
The capture of Washington and consequent destruction of public property deeply humiliated and exasperated the public mind, and, as usual in such circumstances, the blame of our misfortune was sought everywhere except where it belonged, viz, in the neglect of Congress to provide against the possibility even of an attempt on the part of the enemy to invade the District of Columbia. In a history of the invasion of Washington, published by Maj. John S. Williams, an officer of the Columbian brigade in the war of 1812, the author, though charging our misfortune originally, as we do, to the neglect of Congress, finds faults also in other directions, especially with the Secretary of the Navy, for ordering the destruction of the yard, and with Captain Tingey for the unyielding disposition which he displayed in the execution of the order. The author, in common with later historians who have written upon this subject, is strongly imbued with the idea that if we had not so hastily helped the enemy by anticipating their intentions and doing their work for them, that in their haste to leave the city, or by some fortunate accident, they might have neglected or failed to burn the navy-yard with its property and shipping. He therefore strongly condemns the Secretary of the Navy for ordering the destruction of the yard in the event of our defeat, and thinks that the reason given by the Secretary for the order will appear ridiculous to any one not under the influence of panic. That this condemnation is both unreasonable
and unjust appears, first, in the fact that the Secretary could not know certainly that the enemy would remain in the city but twenty-four hours; secondly, in the fact that the assumption or hope that General Ross, in his haste to get away from the city, might have overlooked or forgotten the navy-yard is utterly baseless. If not the only object of the invasion of Washington, that it included at least the destruction of the navy-yard and shipping, is not left in doubt but is plainly declared by the British general in his official report in these words:
Judging it of consequence to complete the destruction of the public buildings with the least possible delay, so that the army might retire without loss of time, the following buildings were set fire to and consumed: the Capitol, the arsenal, the dock-yard (navy-yard), Treasury, War Office, President's palace, rope-walk (this was private property) and the great bridge across the Potomac. In the dock-yard a new frigate (the Columbia) and a sloop-of-war (the Argus) were consumed. The two bridges leading to Washington over the Eastern Branch had been destroyed by the enemy, who apprehended an attack from that quarter. The object of the expedition being accomplished, I determined before any greater force of the enemy could be assembled to withdraw the troops, etc.
This letter shows clearly that the navy-yard was doomed to destruction by the enemy and that General Ross was under the impression that the whole work of demolition had been accomplished by his own soldiers. But in any event the responsibility for the order given to burn the yard can not be thrown singly upon the shoulders of the Secretary of the Navy, but must be shared alike by the President and entire Cabinet, as is shown by the official records.
In reply to a letter of Joseph Anderson, chairman of the Congressional Naval Committee, inquiring "by whose orders and under what authority the navy-yard was set on fire," Secretary Jones officially states that the order was the result of a consultation of the entire Cabinet, held on the morning of the 24th of August, in which it was unanimously resolved to destroy the shipping and stores to prevent them falling into the hands of the enemy. But Captain Tingey is also severely criticised, with much display of irony, by Major Williams in the history above mentioned for his rigid persistence in obeying the orders of the Secretary of the Navy. The author quotes from that portion of Captain Tingey's official report in which he exultingly announces the wonderful escape of the schooner Lynx from the conflagration, and then writes as follows: Not only the Lynx, but the entire yard might possibly have escaped if "lynx-eyed domestic incendiaries had not so industriously vied with those of the enemy in the work of conflagration."
This is a wretched pun which the author here perpetrates, but in the face of the above official report it is a more wretched conclusion. Indeed, in recapitulating the sad scenes which attended the investment of Washington this historian appears to have reverted to the condition of panic which so generally prevailed at that time, and in this abnormal condition, in his criticisms, he abandons both the cannons of good taste and good sense.
Robert Fulton again at the Navy-Yard with his torpedo invention--Condition of navy-yard after the fire--Work of rebuilding the yard commenced--Its activities resumed--Washington navy-yard classed "first"--Death of Captain Tingey--Succeeded by Captain Hull--Minor incidents and events.
Immediately following the invasion of the District of Columbia by the British, early in the month of September, 1814, Robert Fulton, already distinguished as the author of a new and successful discovery in the application of steam as a motor, appeared for the second time at Washington with an ingenious invention, corresponding in many respects to the modern torpedo-boat, with which he proposed to attack the vessels of the enemy below the surface of the water. We find in the records an official letter from the Secretary of the Navy, ordering the commandant of the navy-yard "to do all in his power to facilitate the torpedo inventions of Robert Fulton." But notwithstanding this indorsement of the Secretary of the Navy, Fulton, it appears did not, in the end, receive sufficient practical encouragement and support to enable him to continue and perfect his design.
The invention was strongly opposed by Commodore Rodgers as impracticable and the use of such destructive and unchivalrous weapons was probably regarded as in violation of the laws of civilized war. Nevertheless, to us who live in a more practical, matter of fact age, it is a source of regret as we read of the fruitless efforts of the brave and gallant Porter to sink or capture the British fleet, that a dozen or more of these torpedo-boats were not at hand to send with the carpenters in response to the following earnest appeal to the commandant of the yard, addressed, September 5, 1814, by Capt. David Porter from his post below Mount Vernon on the Potomac, where the British fleet was then lying, waiting for a fair wind, with twenty-one prizes, laden with the spoils taken from Alexandria:
DEAR SIR: Send me down, if possible, with all speed, thirty or forty carpenters. If you do this there can be no doubt we shall secure the enemy in the river. Let the carpenters bring their tools with them.
As it unfortunately happened, however, there were neither carpenters nor torpedo-boats at the yard, and the enemy, favored by a fair wind, succeeded in getting away with their plunder, but not without receiving punishment.
CAPTAIN TINGEY'S OFFICIAL DETAIL OF THE BUILDINGS AND PROPERTY SAVED, OFFICERS, ETC., ATTACHED, AND GENERAL STATE OF THE YARD AFTER THE FIRE.
The accommodations now, October 10, 1814, in the yard are the guard-house at the gate, occupied by the marine sentinels stationed to protect the property in the yard, the house near the gate for the residence of the commandant, occupied according to the original intention, the house blended with the last wall comprising the residence of the second officer and the pay-office of the purser.
We have also an (internally) unfinished building intended for the accommodation of the officers of the public vessels while equipping or repairing at this wharf, including lodging and mess rooms for the crew of the Navy in ordinary, and occasionally for small detachments of men belonging to the service while passing to and from distant stations. The sailing-master and the men in the ordinary now lodge in this building, and it is at present also occupied by the Navy store-keeper for his office and store.
The timber remaining on hand is not inconsiderable. It consists principally of pine, oak, poplar, and ash logs, but as it lies in an intermixed state in the dock, it will require time to ascertain the exact quantity and its condition and quality. The value of the whole will probably amount to twenty or twenty-five thousand dollars.
The vessels now attached to this station are the schooner Lynx, now gone with a flag of truce, under the charge of Commodore Joshua Barney, to the British Admiral Cochrane, lying in the Chesapeake, the gun-boats Nos. 70 and 71, built at this wharf, each equipped for mounting one long 18-pounder and two 24-pounder carronades, both in hull and armament fit for service, and the old gun-boat 140, without armament and only capable of being used for the transportation of materials to and from the yard.
We have only a few mechanics, engaged for a short time, to complete the traveling gun-carriages and equipment which were lately ordered, and the work is nearly finished. We have also a number of laborers who are employed with the men in ordinary in recovering and collecting the valuable materials saved from the ruins of the store-houses and in raising the guns and iron from the bottom of the late sloop of war Argus and scattered about in the bottom of the river adjacent to the yard.
OFFICERS, ETC., ATTACHED TO THE YARD, RANK, PAY, ETC.
The officers attached to the yard are as follows:
Thomas Tingey, commandant, general superintendent, and navy-agent; rank of a captain in the Navy on separate service, with the pay and sustenance established thereto, viz: $2,657.60 per annum.
Nathaniel Haraden, second officer, in charge in detail of all the various work of the yard; ranks as a lieutenant in the Navy, with pay and subsistence of a captain commanding a 20-gun ship, $1,445.10 per annum.
Lewis Deblois, purser to the Navy in ordinary and pay-master to the yard, with the rank and pay, etc., thereto established, $660.10.
Edward Barry, master of the yard, a sailing-master in the Navy, with rank and pay, etc., of $660.10.
Salvadore Catalano, master gunner, a sailing-master in the Navy; rank, pay, etc., $660.10.
George Hodge, boatswain of the yard, a boatswain in the Navy; pay $420.10.
Butler Cocke, Navy store-keeper, having charge and responsibility of all receipts and expenditures of the public stores; salary, etc., $1,700 per annum.
Benjamin More, clerk of the yard, musters the men, keeps the roll and time of service of mechanics, laborers, etc.; salary $920 per annum.
Mordecai Booth, clerk to the commandant, executing all the official duties thereto pertaining; salary $800.
John Walker, purser's steward; pay $218 per annum.
In ordinary--One seaman at $12 per month; seventeen ordinary seamen at $10 per month; one ordinary seaman at $9 per month; three boys, ordinary seamen, at $7 per month; four boys, at $6 per month.
Amount of cost per annum, $13,009.10.
Among the last of the official acts of Secretary Jones on record are two orders to the commandant of the navy-yard, dated September 15, 1814.
First, that a wall should be immediately built on the east side of the navy-yard for safety of public property therein.
Second, that on account of general scarcity of salt all the salt stored in the navy-yard (quantity not named) be sold at public auction in the interests of the general public.
In the latter part of the year 1814 President Madison appointed Benjamin N. Crowninshield, of Massachusetts, Secretary of the Navy, to succeed William Jones, and in the following year, Congress having made an appropriation for the purpose, the work of rebuilding the navy-yard was actively begun, and in a short time the yard began to résumé its old life and activity.
On March 17, 1815, one hundred swords and forty pairs of pistols were furnished the United States Brig Epirvier and five hundred stand of grape for 32-pounders made up for transportation to Boston.
The carpenters that had been suspended from duty were recalled at their former rate of pay. Material was contracted for, the roof to the steam-engine house was renewed, and the saw-mill and block-house rebuilt, the wharf repaired, a mold-loft erected, and a timber shed contracted for at a cost of $9,250. The average monthly expenditure of the yard in 1816, as officially reported by Commodore John Rodgers, president of Board of Commissions, amounted to $6,524.18.
In the spring of 1817, a warehouse was built under contract by Isaac S. Middleton, which cost, including materials, $3,210.
On November 11 of same year a large barge was built and delivered to the officers stationed at Fort Washington. The Naval constructor, William Doughty, was busily engaged in pushing forward the buildings, supported by a large corps of master workmen and employés in the different mechanical branches. In May, 1817, Master Commandant Haraden retired from the yard, and died January 20 of the following year. He was succeeded by Captain Stephen Cassin. This officer, it appears from the following official letter, had already achieved honorable distinction in the service:
Washington, June 3, 1817.
Capt, STEPHEN CASSIN,
Navy-Yard, Washington, D.C.:
Sir: Be pleased to transmit, as soon as may be convenient, to George Harrison, United States navy agent at Philadelphia, your likeness in profile, in order to be put in the hands of the artist who is engaged to engrave the die for the medal that has been awarded you by Congress for the gallant part which you sustained in the decisive and splendid victory gained on Lake Champlain the memorable 11th of September, 1814, over a British squadron of superior force.
By order of the Secretary of the Navy.
On February 2, 1818, the Secretary reported to Congress upon the Washington navy-yard as follows:
One line-of-battle ship is now building from promiscuous timber collected at this navy-yard. There is also promiscuous live-oak collected at this yard for framing a frigate. The Commissioners have also established an anchor shop, where all the anchors required will be made. They are also now making iron cables at this yard.
The ship ordered to be laid down at Washington has been put on the stocks and is now progressing.
On December 24 of this same year Commander John Rodgers, president of the Board of Navy Commissioners, reported to Hon. John C. Calhoun, Acting Secretary of the Navy:
One ship of the line, the Columbus, on the stocks at Washington yard, and will be ready to launch the ensuing spring. All the tarred rope required for this ship has been contracted for. An anchor shop has been established at this yard where all the anchors for the ships authorized by the act for the gradual increase of the Navy will be made. They have attached to the steam-engine at this yard the machinery for making blocks, which will enable them to supply the demand at a much cheaper rate than by purchase, and also secure uniformity in the construction of blocks, which is essential. A factory of chain cables is also established at this yard. These cables are more secure, more durable, and much less expensive than hempen cables. A chain cable will be made at this factory for each of the ships authorized by the act for the gradual increase of the Navy.
President Board of Commissioners,
Hon. JOHN C. CALHOUN.
The engines complete for the frigate Columbus were manufactured by Robert McQueen & Co. at a cost of $43,000. The copper for the boilers was purchased by contract at 10 cents per pound. The Columbus was commissioned September 7, 1819, Capt. J. H. Elton being in command.
At the close of the first term of President Monroe's administration, in the year 1819, Secretary Crowninshield retired and Smith Thompson succeeded him. During this and the following year there was a large force of workmen engaged in the various departments of the yard.
From official records we find that during the month of October, 1820, there were employed at the Washington navy-yard:
|Chain cable and caboose smiths
||Assistants in Navy store
From the same source we learn that during the years 1820 and 1821 the following were attached to the navy-yard:
|Captain, Thomas Tingey
|Second officer, Stephen Cassin
||William P. Piercy
|John A. Cook
||W. L. Washington
||T. B. Worthington
||James B. Wetherell
|Richard G. Edwards
||Boatswain, James Menzles
||Gunner, Thomas Barry
||Steward, William Spedder
||Clerk to captain, Mordecai Booth
||Clerk of navy store, Richard Barry
||Clerk of yard, Thomas Howard
|Surgeon, Edward Cutbush
||Naval constructor, William Doughty
|Surgeon's mate, John Harrison
||Naval store-keeper, Edward W. Duval
|Purser, Timothy Winn
|Chaplain, Andrew Hunter
||Nineteen ordinary seamen
|Stiffington S. Jamison
|John C. Jones
The following is an official record of a portion of the work accomplished in the yard during the years above mentioned:
Lawson Pearson contracted to build the walls of a laboratory in the navy-yard, at cost of $9 per thousand for the brick-work, 30 cents per yard for plastering, and $14 per square of 10 feet for slate roofing.
The building was finished in one month from date of contract.
The schooner Shark was completed and safely launched May 17, 1821; the schooner Grampus, the Gun-boat 67, and the frigate Brandywine were building.
In 1821 and 1822 the following improvements were completed: An inclined plane with a house over it; a large warehouse, sail loft and rigging loft. The Peacock was repaired at the yard in 1822, and Stephen Cassin was detached from the yard and ordered to the command of this vessel.
In 1823 President Monroe in a message to Congress recommended the completion of a dock and wharves on each side in addition to the inclined plane, and the Secretary of the Navy at the same time, under the head of a general view of the improvements of navy-yards," reported as follows:
At Washington: A brick wall around the land sides; a complete dwelling house for the commandant; a house for the second officer; large and convenient smith, anchor, chain, cable, and caboose shops; two large and convenient store-houses; quarters for marine officers and guards; block-making and saw-mill worked by steam; plumber's and brass founder's shop; armorer's shop and laboratory; quarters for laboratory officer, mast shed, and joiner's shop; timber sheds, rigging, and sail lofts; inclined plane with house over it; building slips, mast sheers, and an extensive timber dock in progress.
At the first session of Congress, 1824, a bill was passed arranging the navy-yards into classes, and the navy-yard at Washington was named in class first. In this year the practice was inaugurated of requiring that monthly returns should be transmitted to the Department of the commissioned and warrant officers attached to the respective navy-yards, also the names of those attached to the civil establishment of the yard and to the ships in ordinary. Also that the receipts and expenditures on account of U.S. Navy should be reported monthly.
The captain's letters in the books of record show that these reports were regularly reported to the Department every month, but they are not attached to the letters as they should have been, and probably have been lost or destroyed.
The following estimate of cost of improvements and repairs at Washington navy-yard, in the year 1825, we copy from Naval Affairs, Vol. 2, page 122:
|Repairing of buildings, etc
The following interesting miscellaneous information is also given in an official statement of the progress made under the law for the gradual increase of the Navy:
The ship of the line Columbus was commenced May, 1816, was launched March, 1819, and cost $426,931.11.
The only explanation that is given to account for this extraordinary expense is that the frame of the Columbus was made up of parcels of timber not molded for such a ship, and therefore requiring much additional labor to shape it to the purpose.
The frigate Potomac was commenced August, 1819, launched in 1822, repaired and refitted in 1826; original cost, $178,320.09.
Frigate Brandywine was commenced September, 1821, launched June, 1825; cost, $261,876.26.
In the estimate of improvements and repairs of navy-yards for the year 1827 Secretary Southard reported--
At Washington: For warrant officers' houses, turning ship's house, and repair of wharves, $16,561.04.
He also reports that the frigate Congress, which had arrived at the yard December 20, 1824, in bad condition, had been thoroughly repaired, and on the following year that the sloop St. Louis, on the stocks, was nearly finished.
DEATH OF CAPT. THOMAS TINGEY
This remarkable man and excellent officer served as Commandant of the Washington Navy-Yard under the administrations of John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, John Quincy Adams, and Andrew Jackson. A remarkable circumstance connected with his long service as Commandant is, that from first to last, almost without exception, his official letters are in his own handwriting and are never
delegated to clerk or scribe. Up to the last days of his life his strong native intellect apparently remained bright and cloudless, but as we examine the books that preserve his letters, in those written during the latter months of his life, the unmistakable quiver of weakening age is plainly revealed in the manuscript. Yet he continued to conduct his official correspondence up to the last month of his life. On February 2, 1829, but a few days before his death, he made a request, his last one, of the Secretary of the Navy, in these words:
Knowing that you have not been unmindful of the duties of my situation, being the only officer in the service charged with the twofold duties of commanding an important station and that of the Navy agency also, I have hoped to have a release from the additional duty of the agency, but have remained silent on the subject, and probably would have continued to do so rather than trouble Congress, being ever-willing to encounter any duties enjoined upon me that my strength and abilities may admit of; but justice to myself in my present infirm state, and approximating the close of my seventy-eighth year, I am incapable of the lively energy of a youthful seaman and require some relaxation, at least from the multiplicity of cares these double duties require. I am therefore constrained to solicit your further endeavors to have me released from the duties of the agency altogether. * * *
In compliance with this request he was relieved from the agency on the 7th of February. On the 12th he signed, with trembling hand, the monthly returns of the yard. He died February 23, 1829, and his death was immediately announced by the Navy Department and the usual observances of mourning officially ordered.
Upon the death of Captain Tingey, Commodore Isaac Hull, upon his own application, was ordered to the command of the Washington Navy-Yard. As a matter of general interest we give below the entire letter of this renowned naval officer:
NEW HAVEN, CONN., March 17, 1829.
SIR: In consequence of the death of Commodore Tingey the command of the navy-yard at Washington having become vacated, I respectfully solicit of you that situation.
Since my return from a long cruise in the Pacific I have had leave of absence, and am now desirous of active employment, and should like the situation at Washington, if it meets your approbation.
With great respect and consideration, I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,
Hon. SAM'L SOUTHARD,
Secretary of the Navy.
Commodore Hull was appointed to the yard on the 31st of March as "Commandant and naval agent," but did not assume command until the 11th of April following.
MINOR EVENTS AND INCIDENTS FROM 1829 TO 1829.
Salvadore Catalano was a native of Palermo, Sicily, came to the yard on one of our return ships from the Mediterranean, to which he was attached as seaman, was promoted sailing-master, and for many years served in various capacities in the navy-yard. He served as pilot of
the ketch Intrepid when Decatur entered the harbor of Tripoli and recaptured and burned the frigate Philadelphia, lying under the protection of the fort and guns of the enemy. He died at the navy-yard March 4, 1846.
Rev. Andrew Hunter was chaplain to the Navy-Yard from 1812 to his decease, which occurred February 24, 1822.
The commandant of the yard, by personal application to the Secretary of the Navy, secured the appointment of his grandson, Thomas Tingey Craven, as midshipman to the frigate United States, July 11, 1823, and on April 23, 1828, he addressed the Secretary of the Navy in behalf of this youthful officer, who, in the meanwhile, had served as midshipman in the Pacific and in a cruise to the Eastern Isles, requesting that "he may be permitted to appear before the board of examiners for promotion to a lieutenancy, although he had not yet completed his twentieth year of age."
In a letter dated February 14,1824, in reply to an inquiry of Secretary Southard whether the services of certain midshipmen "are absolutely necessary at the Washington Navy-Yard," Captain Tingey wrote in this severe style:
I beg leave to state that I have never considered the service of a midshipman indispensable to the duties of this station.
He then kindly adds: "It is, however, convenient occasionally to have the services of one!"
On February 7, 1825, the Commandant reported to the Secretary of the Navy that the surgeon of the yard, Dr. Edward Cutbush, in consequence of overwalking himself in the discharge of his public duties, was attacked with violent inflammation in his feet, which confined him to his house; that his mate, Dr. John Harrison, had been for some time sick in the hospital and unfitted for duty, and he therefore requested the privilege of employing a citizen physician in the neighborhood. We are glad to learn from the records that Dr. Cutbush was disabled but a few days, and was soon again industriously employed in his professional duties.
Dr. Cutbush is mentioned in Navy chronicles as "one of the ablest surgeons and physicians in our service."
On May 27, 1826, there being at that time a general prevalence of small-pox in the country, the crews of all the vessels of the United States were ordered to be vaccinated.
On September 7, 1826, Captain Tingey, in a letter to the Secretary of the Navy, thus referred to the launching of the frigate Potomac, after being thoroughly repaired:
At half past 10 o'clock this morning the frigate Potomac was again completely embraced by the element destined for her future services to our country. She went off the ways with probably more ease, but certainly less strain, than any ship of her magnitude ever did before.
Report of Naval Commission on Washington Navy-Yard--Statement of improvements --Captain Hull as navy agent--Official report of vessels built at Washington Navy-Yard up to 1832--Captain Hull retires from the command of the yard--Minor incidents and events--Capt. Daniel T. Patterson assumes command--Report of Naval Commission--Death of Captain Patterson--Capt. Thomas Holdup Stevens succeeds to the command--Death of Captain Stevens--Capt. Beverly Kennon appointed to the command of the yard--Midshipmen ordered to the yard for instruction--Fatal accident in the armory--Trial of Lieut. W. D. Porter by court-martial, etc. --Second explosion in the yard; Gunner Barry killed--Captain Kennon detached and ordered to the Bureau of Construction, etc.
It has been made plain that Washington Navy-Yard in its inception was designed to be first in importance, and was so regarded and designated for more than a quarter of a century of its history. But the increasing shallowness of the Eastern Branch, which, like all American rivers, has a tendency to fill up its bed, and other changes resulting from the wonderful growth and increasing wealth and importance of our sea-coast cities, turned the attention of Congress and our naval authorities to the navy-yards lying adjacent to these cities, and to the necessity of making them equal to the demands that their surroundings, their deep and capacious harbors, and their proximity to the ocean necessarily created.
Gradually the Washington Navy-Yard ceased to be a resort of our ships needing repair, and the yards at New York and Norfolk almost entirely supplanted it in this work, and also to a considerable degree in building new ships.
As early as October 29, 1829, in reply to the inquiries of Hon. John Branch, Secretary of the Navy, in regard to Washington Navy-Yard, the Commissioners of the Navy, through their presiding officer, Commodore John Rodgers, thus report:
The yard at Washington has been established at great expense. It possesses factories of chain-cables, anchors, cambooses, blocks, castings, and laboratory stores generally; and great advantages attach to these valuable factories, being conducted under the eye of the Government. Although, like Philadelphia, it does not afford sufficient depth of water to admit the passage of ships of heavy draught with their guns and stores on board, yet still, considering its connection with Chesapeake Bay and the facility with which the hulls of ships of the largest class may be towed to Hampton Roads or Norfolk by common steam-boats, it will be seen that it is not destitute of advantages, even as a building yard, if viewed in the light of an auxiliary to a large and more important establishment in the lower waters of the Chesapeake.
That the places of general rendezvous in peace and war should be the Chesapeake Bay and the waters at or near Newport; that the yard at Washington should be retained as an auxiliary to the one, and that at Boston as an auxiliary to the other, and that economy and efficiency would be greatly promoted by such arrangement.
It will be seen from this report that, in the opinion of the Commissioners, the Washington Navy-Yard could no longer occupy a first class, but that, in view of the shallowness of the Eastern Branch, it must give place to a larger, more accessible and more important establishment located nearer to the ocean. Yet, in view of its valuable and extensive plant, its proximity to the Capital, and its connection with the Chesapeake, it should be retained as a useful and important auxiliary building-yard. That the yard still preserved its usual condition of activity is shown from two official reports from Secretary Branch, in reply to inquiries made by the Congress of 1831,
First, a statement of the pay and other allowances of officers and others attached to Washington Navy-Yard, as follows:
Second, the following statement of the improvements made at Washington Navy-Yard during the year 1831:
|Building for making cambooses
|Gutters and paved walks
|Additional story to saw-mill
|Repairs to commandant's house and other buildings
It will be remembered that the navy agency, of which Captain Tingey had been relieved a short time before his death, was imposed upon Commodore Hull when he took command of the navy-yard. In June, 1831, a claim was presented to Commodore Hull, as navy agent, by P. H. Green, contractor for live-oak timber, to the amount of $604.84. The ground of this claim was that the contract price which he had received did not compensate him for a portion of timber he had delivered for the use of the navy-yard. The Commissioners of the Navy having approved the claim, Commodore Hull paid it, but the Fourth Auditor of the Treasury disallowed the claim, upon the grounds that the Commissioners transcended their authority in allowing a higher price to a contractor than that which had been stipulated in the contract, and checked the amount against the accounts of the commandant of the yard. Commodore Hull was compelled to memorialize Congress upon the subject, and to wait a long time before he recovered the amount aforesaid disbursed by him as navy agent. We find this remarkable statement in Commodore Hull's memorial:
The amount disbursed by me as navy agent, an office entirely disconnected with my professional avocation, and fully accounted for with the Treasury, exceeds the sum of $680,000.
This experience of Commodore Hull so disgusted him with the office of agent that he asked to be relieved from this additional duty. The request was granted, and on July 17, 1832, the President, with the advice and consent of the Senate, appointed Elias Kane "navy agent for the navy-yard in Washington City and to the Navy Department for four years."
In this year, in reply to a letter of inquiry from the Secretary of the Navy as to the possibility of reducing the force and expenses of the navy-yard, Commodore Hull informed the Secretary that the expenses of the yard this year under the contingent head were much less than they had been for several years past; and that in looking over the list of officers, both naval and civil, now attached to the yard and included in the estimates for the present year, he did not discover any but such as the exigencies of the service required to be kept.
The schooner Experiment was repaired and equipped for sea on July 16 of this year and sailed the following Wednesday. The President, Andrew Jackson, visited the ship, and was received and entertained with due honors.
The wharf was enlarged this year and the south side of the yard filled up; the north and south sides of the yard were also improved, and the west end timber dock was piled. The camboose shops were finished, and improvements made in steam-engine building, block and anchor factory. The engine-house was repaired and the mud machine, and portions of the yard graded, at an expense of about $40,000.
On November 1 of the year 1832 the amount on hand at Washington Navy-Yard of articles belonging to the several appropriations was officially reported to be valued at $527,803.03.
The following official report from naval affairs shows the live-oak vessels built at Washington Navy-Yard up to 1832 and their condition in 1832:
||In ordinary; 74-gun ship.
||In commission; 44-gun ship.
||Burned in 1814
||On the stocks; 44-gun ship.
|St. Louis (sloop)
||Lost in the war of 1812
||In commission.; 44-gun ship
||Lost at sea
In the year 1833 there were the following improvements made in the yard:
|Filling in yard north side of timber dock
|Repairs of officers' quarters and workshops
In 1834 the frigates Brandywine and Potomac were newly equipped and employed. Five thousand dollars were appropriated this year towards the completion of the wharf and same amount for repairs of all kinds. For 1835 in second volume of naval affairs we find the following item extracted from "the estimate of the several works and their probable cost."
|At Washington: Timber dock and wharves
The estimate of proposed improvements and repairs to be made in navy-yard at Washington in 1836 was as follows:
|A timber shed
|Repairs of ship-house
|Repairs of building fences and gutters
|Foundation for building ships
In the fall of 1835, the declining health of his wife induced Captain Hull to request to be relieved from the command of the navy-yard and granted leave of absence with permission to travel abroad. The Secretary of the Navy immediately complied with the request and also gave letters of instruction to officers in command of ships belonging to our Mediterranean squadron to give passage and other accommodations to Captain Hull and family to and from ports during their stay in the Mediterranean.
On September 30, 1835, Captain Hull, on retiring from the command of the yard, addressed the following official communication to Hon. Mahlon Dickerson, Secretary of the Navy:
In retiring from the command of this yard I have a duty to perform which is to me a source of heartfelt gratification. It would perhaps be sufficient to say that during my command, a period of nearly seven years, I have not had cause to suspend from duty, for any cause, any officer placed under my command; but it may be necessary for me to say something more definite in relation to those now attached to the yard, and it is with pleasure I state to the Department that the officers now attached to the yard here met my fullest approbation, and I doubt not that whoever may succeed me in the command will find them all that officers and gentlemen should be.
This letter indicates the nature of this distinguished officer. He was an optimist who met selfishness with generous kindliness, suspicion, with undoubting trust, and deceit by open-faced truth. His eyes were open to see the good traits of men and he always found them.
MINOR ITEMS AND INCIDENTS OF THE NAVY-YARD DURING THE COMMAND OF COMMODORE HULL.
On December 1, 1830, the Department inaugurated the practice of requiring the Commandant of the yard "to have indorsed upon every check given by him in judgment of claims against the Government a duplicate receipt for the moneys showing the specific object for which the same may have become due."
May 13, 1830, Sailing-Master Edward Barry, long attached to the
yard in various lines of duty, departed this life. Commodore Hull, in reporting the decease of Barry, pronounces him to have been "an officer who gained the esteem of all associated with him."
May 9, 1831, Commodore Hull appealed to the Secretary of the Navy in behalf of Jacob Carpenter, seaman, late of the Constitution, under Captain Bainbridge.
He has seen fifteen years' service; was in two actions during the war; was wounded and taken prisoner and kept so until peace. Something ought to be done for this man.
In response to this kindly appeal Jacob Carpenter was appointed gunner.
June 3, 1831, the schooners Shark, commanded by Lieut. William Piercy, the Fourth of July, commanded by Lieut. Thompson D. Shaw, and the Sylph, commanded by Lieut. H. E. V. Robinson, were reported by Commodore Hull as repaired and ready for sea. Pilot John Peak carried these schooners to Hampton Roads. As an illustration of how completely a man may devote himself to one branch of knowledge to the exclusion of others, we find that this skilled pilot, who is said to have known the channel of the Potomac from its source to its mouth, did not know how to write his own name. The cross and "his mark" subscribed to his bill for pilotage is an unmistakable record of the fact.
July 18, 1831, the Secretary of the Navy requested Commodore Hull to assist him in person in the settlement of certain accounts, and allowed claims, at the Navy Department, and the paying of the same to a large amount. Commodore Hull is willing to spare Mr. Etheridge, his clerk, to visit the Department daily and assist in paying the claims referred to, but adds, "in view of the duties of the yard and those of navy agent, it will not be in my power to attend to the payment of accounts at the Navy Department."
December 10, 1831, Commodore Hull addressed a letter to Levi Woodbury, Secretary of the Navy, in which he acknowledges, with warmest thanks, the receipt of an appointment as midshipman of the nephew of Mrs. John Quincy Adams, for which the commodore had made an especial request,
Edward N. Clark was appointed clerk of the yard December 8, 1832. In their estimate for the following year, the Navy Commissioners reduced the allowance of the clerk to the Commandant, Mordecai Booth, from $1,000 to $750. Commodore Hull appealed to the Secretary of the Navy, protesting against the reduction of the pay of a faithful officer who had been serving nearly fourteen years, and the old pay of $1,000 was restored to Booth.
On July 18, 1833, the brig Channing, under charter for the Mediterranean, was supplied at Washington Navy-Yard, and on the following month provisions and stores were shipped from the yard for the use of the United States Navy at Rio Janeiro.
On the detachment of Captain Hull, by request of the Secretary of the Navy, Master Commandant John Gallagher, who had been promoted to
the rank of captain, for a short time assumed the duties of the Commandant of the yard.
On the 9th of March, 1836, while Captain Gallagher was still acting Commandant, the frigate Columbia, which had been so long upon the stocks, was finally safely launched. The Army and Navy Chronicles, then published at Washington, in its issue of March 10, 1836, thus refers to this event:
The United States frigate Columbia was launched yesterday about 12 o'clock from the navy-yard in this city, in beautiful style. She is pierced for sixty-four guns.
On the 24th of March, 1836, by order of the Secretary of the Navy, Capt. Daniel T. Patterson assumed the command of the navy-yard.
This officer held the command up to his death, which occurred at his residence in the yard on Sunday morning between 8 and 9 o'clock on the 26th of August, 1839. Commander J. H. Aulick was at this time the second officer of the yard. In his letter to the Secretary of the Navy announcing the death of Captain Patterson, Commander Aulick pronounced the late Commandant to have been one of the most valuable officers of the Navy. We find but little of general interest in the captain's books from the pen of Captain Patterson during his command of the yard.
In 1837 there were attached to the yard one captain, one commander, and one lieutenant; two masters, one in charge of ordnance; one surgeon and an assistant surgeon, one apothecary or steward, one chaplain, one purser, with a steward, one boatswain, one carpenter, one gunner as laboratory officer.
The aggregate pay of the above officers amounted to $16,483.75.
Attached to the ordinary were one boatswain's mate, one carpenter, six seamen, and fourteen ordinary seamen, with aggregate pay amounting to $3,000.
The civil list of the yard was one assistant master builder, one inspector, one clerk of the yard, one clerk to Commandant, one to storekeeper and master builder each, one camboose and one chain-cable and anchor maker, one keeper of magazine, and one porter, with aggregate pay amounting to $10,880.
The Board of Naval Commission in 1837 report that "complete live-oak frames have been delivered at Washington Navy-Yard for one frigate and one sloop, and other contracts made for live-oak timber, of which only a small quantity has been delivered."
The estimate of the Board of Commission for 1837 is as follows:
|Completing foundation of building-slip
|Rebuilding part of wharf
|Building for officers
|Building shops for making water-tanks
|Improvement of Commandant's house
|Machinery and improvements in anchor-shop
|Repairing wharf at the magazine
|Repairs of all other kinds
"Only those objects," the Board report, "have been selected which were most desirable, and which could be most advantageously commenced during the year."
Secretary Dickerson, in his report of December 2, 1837, called the attention of Congress to the importance of establishing "a national foundry" at Washington Navy-Yard, for the purpose of casting cannon shot and shell, as well for the Army as Navy; but we have no information that Congress at this time took any action upon the subject.
The following is the estimate recommended by the Board of Commission for proposed improvements and repairs to be made in Washington Navy-Yard in the years 1838 and 1839:
||Building for officers
||Repair and improvements to machinery
||For other repairs
||Extending anchor and smiths' shops, and for machinery for the same
The amounts embraced in the above estimates were decided upon by the Board after careful examination of the recommendations of the Commandant of the Navy-Yard, and the objects selected were those that, in the opinion of the Board, were deemed indispensable. The last official report of Commander Aulick as acting Commandant of Washington Navy-Yard is dated February 29, 1840. On March 5, 1840, by order of the Secretary of the Navy, Capt. T. Holdup Stevens assumed the command of the yard. At this period steam navigation and steam engines and enginery were receiving much attention from the Navy Department, and among the first official letters of Captain Stevens was a request to the Department that three midshipmen should be ordered to the station, who, in addition to regular duties, "might attend to improving themselves in the knowledge of steam engineering, for which this navy-yard presents requisite means beyond those of our other naval establishments. " But in less than a year after assuming command Captain Stevens was taken suddenly ill and died at his residence in the yard on January 22, 1841.
For improvements at the Washington Navy-Yard for the year 1840 $20,000 were appropriated, as follows:
|Steam engine and machinery for tank and camboose shops
|Repairs of wharfs, buildings, etc
The cost of labor in the Washington Navy-Yard for this year was $63,268.81; expenditures for materials, stores, etc., amounted to $271,974.
From the death of Captain Stevens up to May 27, 1841, the second officer of the yard, Commander C. K. Stribling, acted as commanding officer; Capt. Beverly Kennon was then appointed commandant, and assumed command April 4, 1841. Commander Stribling was detached from duty at the navy-yard and on October 28, 1841, was ordered to take the command of the Cyane and proceed to the Pacific to join the Pacific Squadron. As we have already learned, in 1832 the Commandant of the Washington Navy-Yard was finally relieved from the burden of acting as navy agent and a special agent appointed, upon whom the financial responsibilities should rest, at a salary of $3,600. Upon the appointment of Captain Kennon to the command of the yard, Secretary Paulding issued a circular distinguishing more definitely the respective functions and responsibilities of the commandant and navy agent. In this circular the commandant was advised that it is his province and duty to withhold his approval from all bills which, in his opinion, are overcharged, and apprise the department in all cases where the agent does not satisfactorily account for the excess and cause the error or excess to be corrected. But when navy agents employ subagents to purchase for them, the agent himself shall be held strictly accountable for any unjustifiable excess of price.
Among the first official letters which we find from Captain Kennon, after taking command, is one asking that the number of midshipmen attached to the navy-yard should be increased. Like his predecessor he thought that the navy-yard would afford excellent opportunity for the study of steam navigation and enginery, and that the public property would be much better guarded if there were officers enough in the yard to keep a regular watch both day and night and to see that the watchmen do their duty.
In response to this appeal an additional lieutenant (Wm. D. Porter) and several midshipmen were ordered to duty at the yard.
On September, 7, 1841, a painful accident occurred in the armorer's shop of the navy-yard, by which Jacob Bright, one of the workmen employed in the gunner's department lost his life. The accident resulted from a premature explosion of a shell invented by Lieutenant Porter, caused by an attempt to screw in the plug after the explosive matter had been put in it. The shell was a large one and fully charged, and the explosion not only destroyed life but also did much injury to the armory. It appears that the experiments resulting in this accident were conducted by Lieutenant Porter without due authority or permission. The executive officer, in reporting the matter to the Commandant, strongly condemned Lieutenant Porter and represented his action in the matter as insubordinate and evincing a criminal carelessness in the handling of dangerous explosives. The commandant, however, did
not see proper at this time to take any action upon this report and upon the appointment of Commander Stribling to the Cyane, Lieutenant Porter by his rank became the acting executive officer of the yard. Soon after this an article appeared in the National Intelligencer, under the signature of Lieutenant Porter, severely criticising the person or persons having charge of the Greenough statue of Washington, then lying in the navy-yard awaiting its removal to the Capitol Square. The letter assumed that the statue was liable to injury from its exposure to the weather and from the wear of the water dripping from its iron fastenings.
This letter greatly excited the indignation of the commandant of the yard, which was not at all appeased by Lieutenant Porter's plea that the letter was not designed to be made public. Lieutenant Porter was suspended from duty and ordered to trial by court-martial.
He was found guilty, first, of neglect of duty; second, of contempt of superior officer, etc., and was sentenced to be publicly reprimanded by the Department. The sentence was approved and executed by Secretary Upshur as follows:
In executing this sentence I hope that it will not fail of its proper effect upon yourself. A reprimand from the Department should be regarded as a reproof from the country, and this must always be painfully felt by an officer who loves her service and sets a due value on her approbation. You are relieved from arrest and will regard yourself awaiting orders.
It is possible that Lieutenant Porter at this period of his history may have needed and deserved this punishment and humiliation. But we remember that he was the scion of a sturdy stock, distinguished, before and since, for gallant service in the Navy, and under the softening influence of the lapse of a half century we are disposed to attribute his indiscretion to an ardent temperament rather than willful disobedience and wrong-doing. Lieutenant Porter lived to reach the rank of commodore, and took an active part in the civil war.
Shortly after the casualty above mentioned, caused by the explosion at the armory, Captain Kennon addressed the Secretary of the Navy, recommending the removal of the laboratory and magazine from the navy-yard, and inclosing a copy of the following report of a board of survey upon the subject:
The laboratory building, of which the magazine is a part, stands on the west line of the yard, near the quarters of the surgeon, master, and lieutenant, and adjacent to the casting foundry and public stables.
The armorer's shop, in which there are two forges, is only 25 feet from the magazine. There are several private buildings on the outside of the yard very near the magazine. As now situated we consider it extremely unsafe, not only to the lives of those who reside near it, but also to the whole public property in the yard. The magazine generally contains about three barrels of powder, and the rocket-house and laboratory contain about five barrels worked up into fire-works and fixed ammunition.
G. J. PENDERGRAST. Commander,
M. DOVE, Master.
THOS. BARRY, Gunner.
The final result of this recommendation was the separation of the magazine from the laboratory and the erection of a new laboratory building in another part of the navy-yard. But no immediate action was taken until a still greater disaster awoke the Department to the immediate necessity of changing the localities of both the magazine and laboratory, and of separating one from the other.
During General Jackson's administration, in the division of the "spoils to the victors," it happened that Thomas Barry, a gunner disabled from wounds received in the service, had been turned out of the office of keeper of the magazine which he was holding, and a civilian appointed in his place.
Gunner Barry had seen service in two wars. He was gunner of the United States when she captured the Macedonian. He was gunner of the Guerriere when she took the Algerine admiral's ship in 1815, and also served in the Tripolitan war. For these services he had been promoted to the rank of master in the Navy, but being disabled by wounds received in the service and therefore unfit for regular duty, he had been appointed keeper of the magazine at the Washington Navy-Yard, which he had held until displaced as above stated. In the fall of 1841 Gunner Barry, in a letter to Captain Kennon, made a statement of his grievance in being supplanted as keeper of the magazine "by one who had never seen an hour's service in his life," and asked to be re-instated in the old office. The commandant inclosed the letter to the Secretary of the Navy with the following indorsement:
Mr. Webbe, the present keeper, is quite a respectable old man with a family, which I presume is dependent on his little office of keeper of the magazine; but this reason would be as applicable to hundreds of others, and if the decision is to depend on their respective claims for services rendered the country, Mr. Barry's claim is indubitably the best. Besides, it seems reasonable that an old gunner is better qualified to be the keeper of a magazine than any other person, especially as it is a naval magazine.
With such an indorsement Mr. Barry would doubtless have been restored to the charge of the magazine if he had lived.
But, as has been previously stated, he was killed by the explosion of a shell while engaged at the laboratory of the navy-yard, June 27, 1842.
The particulars of this sad accident are thus related by Captain Kennon in an official report to the Secretary of the Navy:
The recent accident which occurred in this yard on Monday last about 5 o'clock p.m. was caused by an explosion in the laboratory of two shells, as it is supposed, in quick succession. I hastened to the spot and found the laboratory on fire in the immediate vicinity of the powder magazine, and in several places the floor immediately above it was in a blaze, and the flame had already been communicated to the wood work attached to the very wall of the magazine itself, and doubtless, penetrating the cracked wall, would have resulted in a general explosion if the powder had not been in the copper canisters lately ordered for all our magazines by the Navy commissioners, and which were so constructed as to be proof against sparks of fire.
When the magazine was forced it was filled with smoke, the wall was so shaken that it ceased to be a protection against the penetrating heat and flame, and the vast importance and value of the copper fixtures is therefore clearly demonstrated.
After the fire was extinguished the bodies of Mr. Barry, the gunner, and his assistant, David Davis, were found torn and horribly mangled. Several other persons were injured severely by the explosion.
From the information given by the men employed in the laboratory, I have every reason to believe that Gunner Barry and Davis, in defiance of your orders and mine, were and had been for several days secretly employed in filling shells invented by Gunner Barry, and jointly owned by himself and Lieutenant Porter, of the Navy. Gunner Barry, in an official letter which I forwarded to the Department some time ago, expressed the decided opinion that it was not safe to prepare the composition or load the shells inside the navy-yard, and yet, contrary to his expressed convictions and to my most positive orders, he had the foolhardiness to make the experiment, in a room too touching the powder magazine. That Lieut. N. D. Porter knew that Mr. Barry was filling these shells and manufacturing the composition within the navy-yard, I can not doubt. The copy of your orders that work upon these shells should not be done in navy-yard or at magazine was sent by me to Lieutenant Porter with a letter from myself repeating the prohibition. Yet I am credibly informed that he has reported that you had granted him leave to have this work done in the yard, and that they would be ready by a given time, the very day in which the explosion took place, thus clearly showing that he knew what was going on. I have felt it my duty to report these facts to you, although by the death of Gunner Barry all positive proof is cut off. Under the first impulse of the moment, after extinguishing the fire, with all the consequences before my eyes and the great jeopardy from which so many persons and so much property had escaped, I ordered the sergeant of the yard at the gate not to allow Lieut. N. D. Porter to enter the yard. I have since countermanded that order, but feel it my duty to request that Lieutenant Porter may be ordered by the Department not to enter this navy-yard.
Such an extraordinary order, however, was of course never issued, and Lieutenant Porter continued to exercise the privilege of entering the yard at his pleasure.
In taking leave of Captain Kennon we present the following letter, copied from the records, addressed to the Secretary of the Navy in the winter of 1841. We think it is worthy of preservation, in the fact that it seems to be indicative of one possessing a high and delicate sense of honor as well as the most generous affections.
Captain Kennon had been appointed a member of a court-martial to convene at Philadelphia for the trial of a captain in the Navy. He replied to the letter of appointment as follows:
It has not been my practice to shirk any duty or responsibility imposed upon me by the Department, but I have to request, that this order be countermanded. The captain to be tried by court-martial is my friend. We were midshipmen and lieutenants together, and have always been intimate friends. It will be painful in the extremist degree for me to sit as a member of a court on his trial. Besides, I have conversed with him in regard to the case and thus have become possessed of circumstances that have so fixedly biased my mind that possibly it might not be in the power of testimony to alter.
We are glad to learn from the records that the order was countermanded and that the commandant was relieved from this painful duty. The last official act of Captain Kennon as commandant of the Washington
Navy-Yard was the transmission of the monthly returns dated March 1, 1843. On the following day he was detached from this command and appointed Chief of the Bureau of Construction, Equipment, and Repair. On February 28, 1844, he was killed by the explosion of a gun on board the U.S.S. Princeton.
Captain J. H. Aulick, upon his own application, was assigned to the command of the yard on the 8th of March, 1843.
History of the work of the yard from published official sources--Note of minor events during the command of Captain Aulick--Work in the various departments of the yard, and cost of the same, each successive year from 1847 to 1859.
Hitherto, in this history of the Washington Navy-Yard we have depended, and for the most part necessarily depended, for information upon the manuscript books found in the records of the Bureau of Yards and Docks. The source was meager and imperfect, yet being testimony from the living actors themselves of the daily work of the yard and life within it, it is for the most part life-like and interesting, and brings us near to the actors. We now have reached a period in our history when the establishment of regular bureaus and the publication of carefully prepared reports emanating from them annually, afford a full account of the routine work of the various departments of all the navy-yards, in building and repairing ships, manufacturing ships' equipments and armament, and in general improvements. These reports, however, consist for the most part of dry detail, expressed according to prescribed formula, of dull sameness, and in making extracts from them we necessarily make dry reading. But we are compelled, in the course of the history, at times to depend upon them principally, because we find that the letters of the commandants of the navy-yard to the Department, in regard to the work of the yard and the daily events, and even their replies to important and interesting inquiries of the Department, are not always preserved in the records. But we shall endeavor, in the remainder of this volume, to make our extracts from these official sources as concise as possible, giving only the work done in the various departments of the yard, the cost of the same annually, the improvements, etc.
The Secretary of the Navy, in his report to Congress dated December 30, 1842, thus writes:
At Washington Navy-Yard in chain cables an invaluable improvement has been made. None but the very best iron is now applied to that use, and an apparatus is now in progress and nearly completed for subjecting the cables when finished to thermo-tension, or stretching by heat. By a long series of careful and accurate experiments we have ascertained that this process adds 17 per cent to its strength. By this means the weight, and consequently the cost of a cable of given strength is greatly diminished, and so also is the labor of handling it on board ship. For this great improvement we are indebted to the scientific information and industrious researches of Prof. Noller R. Johnson, of Philadelphia, and its value to the whole civilized world it is impossible to calculate. The fate of the largest ship and the lives of her crew have
often depended upon the strength of her cables. I have therefore considered it of the utmost importance to improve by every practicable means the quality of the chain-cable iron. It is believed that even at the present day we are not surpassed in this respect by any other nation, and if the advance of science and improvement in our country shall continue to the same degree in the future we may in a short time challenge the competition of the world.
Also, Capt. S. Warrington, Chief of Bureau of Yards and Docks, in his report for the year 1843, thus represents the navy-yard at Washington:
For the Washington yard it is proposed to erect an iron foundry in which may be embodied all the conveniences for castings and the making of steam-engines, water-tanks, chain cables, etc.
This building, therefore, is of considerable importance in point of economy and dispatch.
The present one is a mere temporary affair, by no means sufficient to the increased work, and is also most inconveniently situated. It was built and converted to its present use at a time when the demand for its services was by no means equal to the present exigencies.
That the wonderful victorious march that science has been making in this country for a number of years had already commenced as early as 1841, we learn from the following extract from a letter of Captain Kennon, addressed to the Secretary of the Navy in reply to an order which he had received instructing him to select specimens of every description of iron furnished by the contractors and "apply the most severe and accurate tests to ascertain the relative excellence of the various sorts of iron:"
The statement of tests of chain cable herewith inclosed show how wonderful have been the improvements within the past few years in the manufacture of this article.
The revolution that the application of steam as a motor to ships was destined to accomplish also began in some degree to be anticipated. A steamer called the Union was building as early as 1841, and Secretary Upshur in his annual report dated December, 1842, informed Congress that, in view of the evident fact that steam-ships will hereafter form a party of our Navy, in order to ascertain what kind of fuel can be most advantageously used, he had caused an analysis to be made of the several coals of our country and those of England.
In the year 1843 there were reported at the Washington Navy-Yard, on the stocks, the St. Mary's, a first-class sloop; one iron steamer, the Water Witch; and the steamer Union, launched, supplied with her engines and almost completed.
The Bureau of Construction reported the cost of labor from July 1, 1842, to June 30, 1843, to have been $93,179.121/2.
On November 24, 1843, Commodore Warrington, Chief of Bureau of Yards and Docks, reported to Secretary Henshaw in regard to the work to be undertaken the following year at the Washington Navy-Yard, as follows:
Some of the wharves to be raised and repaired; the engineer's branch of business to be supplied with additional machinery; improvement in anchor shops, with an additional supply of forge hammers, forges, and blowers; a new laboratory building;
a house for galvanizing apparatus; a small addition to the houses of three of the officers of the yard. Other important buildings are necessary to this yard to enable it to prepare with care, dispatch, and economy the various metallic articles of equipment so much wanted by our vessels.
The estimate for the above proposed improvements and repairs was $40,230, and the estimated expense of the naval, ordinary, and civil establishments at the Washington yard for the year 1845 was $35,210. The Chief of Bureau of Yards and Docks also reported November 11, 1814, that the sloop of war St. Mary's had been launched and that the work was still progressing upon the small iron steamer built after a plan and under the immediate direction of Lieut. N. W. Hunter. At the close of the year 1845 the Chief of Bureau of Yards and Docks reported to George Bancroft, Secretary of the Navy, in regard to the Washington Navy-Yard, as follows:
In the yard in this city all the works for which an appropriation was granted have been completed, or nearly so.
The new laboratory is finished and occupied for the purpose of its erection. It was built under contract, but at the time the estimate was made for this building it was understood that it should occupy a site on high ground on the north side of the yard, but the vicinity of this site to other buildings induced a reconsideration of the matter, and the site finally selected as most safe was in a part of the yard which was too soft to sustain so great a weight without filling. Recourse was had to this mode of securing the foundation, and the expense has thereby been proportionately increased.
Though this excess of cost will require an additional small appropriation, the contractors who performed the work are justly entitled to it as it was "extra work" and to be paid for as such. It is now proposed to call for an amount of $55,094 for further improvements in this yard for the year ending June 30, 1846, by which its ability to provide all articles of iron and metal, particularly chain cables, anchors, water-tanks, galleys, and castings, will be much increased. As such work for a long time has been carried on and well executed here it is desirable that there should be means provided for its extension and on a much larger scale than hitherto, and that the improvements should be mainly directed to that object.
Throughout the years 1845 and 1846, the new laboratory department of the yard was actively employed in preparing fuses and other fire works ordered by the Bureau of Ordnance, and other departments of the yard were engaged in making and repairing machines and tools for the laboratory and in supplying orders from various points, viz, making a model engine and a battery to mount guns for the Naval Academy at Annapolis, making a bending machine for the Pensacola Navy-Yard, etc.
Among the events of the yard during Captain Aulick's term as commandant, mentioned in the letter books, we learn that in the summer of 1844 the U.S.S. Colonel Harney arrived, having on board statues from the Old World for the rotunda of the Capitol, and that certain alterations and repairs which this steamer required were made at the yard.
That during this summer Mr. Samuel Colt, of pistol fame, furnished
with such facilities as could at the time be offered by the commandant was engaged on the river at the yard in making experiments with a submarine invention. He succeeded in blowing the bottom out of an old ship's hull, which, sinking in the bed of the river, obstructed the channel and caused the formation of an extensive sand bar, which was not removed until 1859.
On the 13th of April of the year 1844, the statue of Washington was removed from the navy-yard and set up in its present place in the Capitol Square.
On the evening of the 11th of October of this year a threatening fire broke out in the engine-house of the yard, but owing to the very prompt and spirited action of the "Anacostia fire company," composed of the mechanics of the yard and the marines from the garrison, the flames were arrested before they reached the adjoining workshops and before doing much damage.
Commandant Aulick also reported the launching of the sloop St. Mary's this year, on November 24, at 5 p.m., without accident, and that she was towed to Norfolk by the steamer Osceola for the completion of her equipment and rigging.
We find in the records a letter from Captain Aulick, written shortly after the departure of the St. Mary's, in which he complains to the Secretary of a newspaper attack upon him, charging him with ignorance and neglect in his supervision of the construction of the sloop above named and representing that the commandant was in danger of court-martial. The Secretary, in his reply, assured Captain Aulick that no charges had been made, and so far as the Department knew none were contemplated to be made, by any one, against him.
On April 9, 1845, the iron steamer Water Witch made her first run to Norfolk. Her average speed was only 83/4 knots. This little steamer, however, was afterwards furnished with better machinery and engine, and in 1853, under command of Lieutenant Page, made a highly successful exploration of South American rivers before unknown and unnavigated.
A noted event in the navy-yard on August 2, 1845, was a formal visit to the yard by President Polk with his entire cabinet, who were received with due honors.
On February 21, 1846, Captain Aulick was detached from Washington Navy-Yard and ordered to the command of the Potomac, then lying at Norfolk prepared for sea.
On the previous December, Secretary Bancroft had addressed Capt. W. Bradford Shubrick, of the Navy, in most complimentary terms, as "an officer whose career had won for him a name without reproach," and had tendered to him the command of the Washington Navy-Yard, as successor to Captain Aulick, whose term as commandant had nearly expired.
Captain Shubrick assumed command on the February 25, 1846. On
the May 14 following he addressed the Secretary of the Navy as follows:
President Polk having, by his proclamation, declared that a state of war exists between the United States and the Republic of Mexico, there must necessarily be a call for a full exertion of the force of the Army and Navy. I hasten, therefore, to say that it is my wish to be employed in any way in which it may be deemed by the Department that I can render the best service to my country in this emergency.
On July 7, 1846, in response to this patriotic appeal, he was promoted to the rank of commodore and ordered to the command of the Pacific Squadron. On the 9th of July he retired from the yard to join his squadron, transferring the temporary command of the yard to the second officer, Commander Thomas A. Dornin. On the 1st of the following September (1846), Capt. Charles S. McCauley was regularly ordered to the command of the Washington Navy-Yard.
The following official statements of improvement and cost of labor at Washington Navy-Yard are from the published reports of the Secretary of the Navy, and extend up to the year 1854.
The cost of labor at the Washington yard for the year ending July 1, 1847, for building, repairing, or equipping vessels of the Navy and in receiving or securing stores for that purpose, was officially reported to be $109,528.81.
The cost of labor for the same time chargeable to the Bureau of Ordnance was $27,811.46, and for the following year, $28,603, and for 1849, $33,029.18. The Bureau of Yards and Docks, from October 1, 1846, to September 30, 1847, expended $18,785.94 for the following improvements: One new boiler in camboose-house; twelve new forges for chain cable shops.
In the place of small forges, five large anchor forges were erected. Pipes and blowers were constructed and arranged for blowing fires in the chain cable shops. A large new trip-hammer and a new boiler to engine No. 2. No. 11 timber-shed was converted into an iron foundry. Many other repairs of various kinds were commenced, the completion of which was considered important in view of the increased facilities which would resultantly be afforded in the manufacture of anchors, chain cables, and other heavy articles. The erection of the chain cable forges and bringing all the work into one shop greatly facilitated operations in that branch of work.
For the year ending July 1, 1848, the cost of labor at the yard for building, repairing, equipping vessels, etc., was $90,451.73, as reported by C. W. Skinner, Chief of Bureau of Construction. In the civil establishment at this time, the pay of an engineer and machinist was $1,800 per year. That of a master tank and camboose maker, $1,250; master chain and anchor maker, $1,250; pyrotechnist, $1,500. In the hospital of the ordinary a nurse and washer were employed at $120 each.
The following extract is from the estimate of ordnance and ordnance
stores and small arms required for the general service of the Navy for the year 1849:
For making ordnance stores, and machinery for working up the same, including a boring mill and a large turning and planing lathe, battle and magazine lantern, cannon locks, cannon primes, percussion caps, and other articles of ordnance stores, for a gun and musket pendulum at navy-yard, Washington, $70,000.
In 1850 the wooden wharves at the yard had become generally rotten. The portion used for landing materials of supply, etc., was so dilapidated as to be rendered unsafe and almost useless. The Chief of the Bureau of Yards and Docks, in his estimate for this year, strongly recommended the replacement of the rotten wood with a permanent stone wall, and for this purpose, together with the other proposed improvements, asked for an appropriation of $44,530. The following year he reported, among many other improvements completed or in course of completion that most of the stone and other material for building the wharf had been procured and about one-fourth of the wall completed.
The Secretary of the Navy, in his official report of November 30, 1850, represented the Washington Navy-Yard as follows:
This navy-yard carries on a highly important manufactory of ordnance and ordnance stores, of anchors, chain cables, steam engines, and other fabrics of iron, and a building is now in progress in which to erect machinery for rolling copper, an establishment long wanted, as well on the score of economy as to furnish a better quality of rolled copper for sheathing vessels than can be obtained in market.
C. W. Skinner, Chief of the Bureau of Construction, reported the cost of labor for the year 1850 in his department to be $88,570.30.
From his report we learn that during this and the previous year all the old anchors, supplanted by the new invention of chain cables, had been collected and remanufactured into chains or in a form adapted to such use, and that the new anchors, chain cables, and tanks, so far as completed, were done in a manner highly creditable to the artisans employed in their manufacture.
Commodore Warrington reported the cost of labor chargeable to the Ordnance Department at Washington Navy-Yard for the year 1850 to amount to $40,760.33, which shows that this department of the yard, directed by the genius of Lieutenant Dahlgren, had grown greatly in activity and importance.
The Bureau of Yards and Docks reported that during this year there had been expended for improvements and repairs of several buildings in the yard the sum of $24,948.49. During the years 1851, 1852, and1853, from the reports of the different bureaus, it is evident that the Washington Navy-Yard was actively employed and gaining in importance as a manufacturing establishment. In the department of construction steam engines of a smaller class had already been built, and in 1853 they were rapidly preparing or were prepared to manufacture steam-engines of the largest size. The stone wharf had been completed, the building for the copper rolling-mill erected, and material for the machinery procured. In the ordnance department improved brass
howitzers to be used as boat or field guns had been made and successfully proved, and also shells, fuses, primes, gun-sights, etc. Under the direction of Lieutenant Dahlgren experiments were made to ascertain the ranges of the different classes of guns then used in the Navy and to obtain all possible information concerning guns and the extent and accuracy of the range of heavy ordnance. Secretary Dobbin, in his official report of December 5, 1853, referred to the head of the Ordnance Department in these words:
The indefatigable efforts of Lieutenant Dahlgren to give accuracy and greater effectiveness to gunnery and to improve the ordnance of the Navy has succeeded well, and none can doubt the advantage the service will receive therefrom.
The amount of the appropriation for this year was $167,433. Of this sum $95,163.66 were expended upon the following objects: Ordnance building, filling up timber-dock, completing saw-mill, completing railway and copper rolling-mill, stone wharf on south side of the yard, completing slide lathes in machine shop, and repairs of all kinds.
The amount expended in the year 1854 was $117,166.03. At the close of this year the Bureau of Yards and Docks reported the following work to have been accomplished:
Most of the machinery authorized for the machine shop has been completed and put in operation. About one-third of the work of filling up timber pond completed. Successful dredging for the purpose of deepening the water along the ships and wharves, and filling the pond with the earth raised. About three-fourths of the foundation piles for the gun-carriage shop and saw-mill have been driven, all the window and door frames are made, and the machinery ready for setting up. The exterior of the ordnance building and the engine-room and foundation for the driving-engine have been completed. The interior division walls are up, the columns of support of floor and gearing of machinery are made, and the upper floor is laid. Arrangements are making for warming the building with steam. A coffer-dam has been constructed to exclude the water from the space selected as the site of the marine railway. The water has been pumped out, and the foundation piles for the support of the rails have been driven. Part of the stone for the ways in the ship-house have been delivered, and about one-half of the castings for the train-plates and all the truck-wheels are made. Repairs have been made as have been necessary for the protection and preservation of existing improvements.
Secretary Dobbins, in his reports of 1855 and 1856, writes in very complimentary terms of the activity of the different departments of the navy-yard at Washington.
In the report of 1855 he refers to the Ordnance Bureau as follows:
The experimental establishment at the Washington yard has been for many years an admirable adjunct to the Bureau. Having at its head an officer of high order of intellect and indefatigable energy, aided by a small corps of assistants, the Department has found it a shield of protection against the introduction of the novelties of visionary inventors. No innovation has been recommended until subjected to the severest tests, yet progress and an eagerness to be in the foreground of improvement been manifest.
In the report of the following year he writes:
I take pleasure in stating that the boiler and entire machinery for the Minnesota were built at the Washington Navy-Yard, and have thus far reflected credit upon the projectors and builders.
The Secretary also in this report highly praised "the building and repairing machinery at the Washington yard," and he strongly recommended the establishment of similar buildings and machinery at other navy-yards.
The reports of the Bureau of Yards and Docks for 1855 and 1856 give a long array of works completed and works in progress not yet completed, but as these are mostly recapitulated in the full official reports of the Chief of the Bureau of Docks of the Washington Navy-Yard from 1857 to 1861, which we have inserted in the appendix, we have omitted the detail at this place.
Lieut. John A. Dahlgren ordered to command of ordnance department of the yard--A résumé of events and work of the yard under Commandants McCauley, Ballard, Paulding, Forrest, Lavallette, Rudd, and Buchanan, as found in letter-books.
Resuming the history as given in the letter-books, we learn that in January, 1846, the Secretary of the Navy, in a general circular, ordered that the Commandants of navy-yards should submit a monthly estimate of the contingent expenses of their respective yards for the approval of the Department, these expenses to be provided for by special appropriation. Commandants of navy-yards at this time were also required to communicate monthly to the Department the number and general contents of the official letters received by them from the Department during the current month.
Among the first of the official communications that we have found from Captain McCauley to the Department concerning the work of the yard is the announcement of the launching of the steamer Union at 10. 30 o'clock, December 5, 1846, without accident. The records also inform us that Commander Levin M. Powell was acting as inspector of ordnance in 1846, and served as executive officer of the yard under Captain Paulding in 1853, and went with him as fleet captain in 1855, when he was promoted and ordered to the command of the home squadron.
In the year 1847 John A. Dahlgren, then a lieutenant in the Navy, was ordered to ordnance and equipment duty at this yard, for which he soon evinced great natural aptitude, and in a few years, in this department of military science, became an authority in our own service, and in inventive power, and in his knowledge of the laws of force and motion, and all that concerns ordnance, the peer, perhaps, of any naval officer of any nationality.
As we have learned in the course of this history, civilians as well as officers of the Army and Navy were often applying at the yard for assistance in trying inventions of various kinds. On the 16th of October, 1847, under the direction and patronage of the Department, Mr. Uriah Brown was at the yard to prove the practical utility of two inventions to be used for coast and harbor defense. One was termed "a liquid fire;" the other was "a shot-proof steam-ship." A board of examiners, composed of three naval officers, reported decisively against "the liquid fire" weapon, on account of the practical difficulties in the way of its application, but strange to say there is not a word in the report concerning the possibility and practicability of a shot-proof steam-ship.
Again, June 21, 1849, we find an order from the Department directing Lieutenant Dahlgren, the officer in charge of ordnance, to superintend and afford the necessary facilities to Mr. John Prentis, who proposed to prove that his invention of elongated shot and shell could be made to take the rifle motion from smooth-bored cannon and to keep the front end in its forward position until the explosive force of the powder is burnt. The Department enjoined that the principle of the invention of Mr. Prentis should be kept secret. Lieutenant Dahlgren was instructed to report the result of the trial to the Secretary of the Navy, which he doubtless did, but we have been unable to find it in its place in the records.
We are also informed that on October 2, 1849, under authority of the Navy Department, Lieut. C. G. Page was constructing at the navy-yard machinery by which he proposed to produce rapid locomotion by "electric magnetic motor power. " He failed, for some cause, may be for want of pecuniary support, to perfect his machinery, and probably he "was laughed at for his pains;" but one of the attributes of genius is prophetic power, and we may hope that this pioneer discoverer looked along the line of the march of victorious science to its present reign of supremacy and was thus compensated for his defeat.
The only additional reference to the work of the yard by Captain McCauley that we find in the manuscript records is the completion of a new engine for the steamer Water Witch in the fall of 1849.
On the 1st of October, 1849, Captain McCauley was detached from this yard and Capt. Henry E. Ballard was appointed to succeed him.
The official letters of Captain Ballard and of the officers who succeeded him up to 1861 for the most part are not preserved in the records. The letters of the Secretaries of the Navy continue as before, but it is evident that in the absence of any replies from the yard the letters of the Secretaries alone become of little value to us in making up any reliable history of the yard.
One letter we find from Captain Ballard of interest because of the subject. It is a request to Secretary Kennedy to raise the salary of "Mr. John Davis, of Able," master plumber at the navy-yard, from $1,250 to $1,500. We presume the request was not granted, for in the Secretary's book we find the following letter from Secretary Graham, the successor of J. P. Kennedy, dated November 14, 1851, addressed to Captain Ballard:
The Department has received yours of the 12th inst. forwarding the resignation of "Mr. John Davis, of Able," as master plumber of the Washington Navy-Yard. The Department highly appreciates his long and faithful service and high character, and as evidence of its consideration will authorize his continuance in the yard at a per diem pay of one dollar and a half in superintending such work in the plumber's department as may be agreeable to him.
We have given this space to this master workman because we find him in the records on duty at the yard from Captain Tingey's time to
the present period of the history. He is always mentioned with respect as "John Davis, of Able. " He must have been an excellent man and a most exceptional plumber.
Commander Warrington, Chief of Bureau, died on the 12th of October, 1851. The records inform us that his funeral took place at 2 o'clock on Tuesday, the 15th of October. Appropriate religious services were conducted at St. John's Church, and a very long procession of citizens and officers of the Army and Navy followed his remains to the Congressional Cemetery, where his body was interred.
During Captain Ballard's command this order was received by him from the Department:
Being in the vicinity of the navy-yard, and being, as we are informed, an effective organization, the Anacostia Fire-engine Company of Washington will be allowed to have their engine repaired at the yard.
Captain Ballard was detached from the navy-yard October 15, 1852, and ordered to the naval station at Baltimore, and Capt. Charles W. Morgan was appointed to succeed him. But the latter died January 5, 1853, a few weeks only after assuming command.
On the 31st of January of the same year (1853), upon his own request, Capt. Hiram Paulding was appointed to the command. Among the few official letters to the Department from Captain Paulding, while in command of the navy-yard, we have found none upon subjects of general interest. We find one letter from Jefferson Davis, Acting Secretary of the Navy, dated October 7, 1853, addressed to Captain Paulding, in which the Commandant is informed that--
Brevet Major Laidly, of the Ordnance Corps of the U.S. Army, proposed to submit to the Army and Navy for examination an invention which he thinks he has perfected for the purpose of making shells burst at the moment of striking. You will be pleased to instruct Lieutenant Dahlgren, in connection with the army officer who may be designated by the War Department, to test practically the percussion shells that may be furnished by Major Laidly, and report to this Department.
The report of Captain Paulding is not found in the captain's books for this year.
Mr. Jefferson Davis, as Acting Secretary of the Navy, addressed another letter to the Commandant on October 11, directing him to receive Captain Percorenko, of the Russian imperial navy, a representative of the Russian Government, whose mission was to examine all that related to the progress of naval construction in the Navy and merchant service, and afford him every facility for inspecting all parts of the navy-yard and its improvements.
This Russian representative doubtless heartily availed himself of this carte-blanche so generously extended him. Indeed it appears that he carried away designs of the improved cannon invented by Dahlgren. At least we are authoritatively, informed in Dahlgren's memoirs, that of his improved designs for guns and carriages were used on Russian frigates without any compensation to the inventor and without his permission.
At the close of the year 1853 the Secretary of the Navy, in his official report, referred to the navy-yard at Washington as follows:
The public property is generally in excellent condition under the careful supervision of those in command, and the business of the various departments conducted with discipline and system. The ordnance department is thus especially mentioned.
The indefatigable efforts of Lieutenant Dahlgren to give accuracy and greater effectiveness to gunnery and to improve the ordnance of the Navy have succeeded well, and none can doubt the advantage the service will experience therefrom.
On April 5, 1854, Captain Paulding addressed a long letter to the Secretary of the Navy in which he expressed the desire for more active service, and asked to be appointed to the command of a squadron. In his reply, the Secretary assured Captain Paulding that the Department highly appreciated his high character as an officer, and his long and faithful service rendered the Government, and expressed the hope that an early opportunity would offer to gratify the expressed wishes of Captain Paulding. These wishes were soon gratified, for two years later we find him in command on the Central American coast, sent by the Department to watch the movements of the notorious filibuster, William Walker, whose unlawful expedition he arrested and sent the adventurous leader home to New Orleans, a prisoner.
He was relieved from the command of the yard on June 30, 1855, and Capt. French Forrest was appointed as his successor. The first two official communications that we find on record from Captain Forrest to the Department are requests somewhat of a personal nature and both are promptly refused.
The first was an application that the Commandant's house in the yard should be supplied with new carpets and a cooking stove, which was disapproved on the ground that there was no appropriation for the purchase of furniture for officers' houses, and the law forbade the purchase without it.
The second was a request that the Commandant might be authorized to employ an assistant writer to take the place of his principal clerk, who was sick. The Secretary in his reply, after referring to the fact that the chief clerk had been sick for a long time, declared it to be the opinion of the Department that the chief clerk should provide his own substitute.
Due allowance will be made for temporary sickness, but when the sickness is so protracted as to make it necessary to employ assistance, it should be at the expense of the clerk and not that of the Department.
The pattern by which the propellers of the Minnesota, the Roanoke, and Colorado were made was cast at Washington Navy-Yard during the command of Captain Forrest. The engines for the two last ships were made at Richmond, Va. The Minnesota was finished and equipped for sea and sailed from the navy-yard for Alexandria July 29, 1856. Her draught was 19 feet forward and the same aft. The cost of her pilotage to Alexandria was $500.
On the death of Commodore Morris, Chief of Bureau, January 28, 1856, in accordance with request of deceased, all usual military ceremonies
were omitted at his funeral, except that while his body was being deposited in the vault the number of guns appropriate to his rank was fired from the navy-yard.
The following troublesome financial episode occurred shortly before Captain Forrest closed his career at the yard:
One stormy Sunday night in the month of June, 1856, the flag-staff at head-quarters of the Commandant of U.S. Marine Corps was shattered by lighting. It was ordered to be repaired at the navy-yard, the Commandant furnishing the spars and executing the work. The work being completed, Captain Forrest informed the Navy Department and indorsed the bill. The bill was promptly returned to him, and to his astonishment he was informed that he was by no means at the end of the work delegated to him by the Department, and he was advised as follows:
You must send this account for payment to the quartermaster of Marines, made out in favor of the purser of the navy-yard. When the money is received by the purser you will direct him to deposit the amount in the Treasury to the credit of the Treasurer, and charge himself with it in his accounts and to forward the certificates of deposit to the Fourth Auditor with a statement of the appropriation to be credited with it.
On August 15, 1856, Capt. French Forrest was detached from duty at the navy-yard and ordered to the command of the U.S. naval forces on the coast of Brazil, and Capt. E. A. F. Lavallette succeeded him as Commandant of the yard.
As with several of his predecessors, there are but few letters of Captain Lavallette in regard to the detailed work of the yard which have been preserved in the records. Captain Lavallette was particularly distinguished as a signal officer, that is, he had made the subject of signals an especial study and was the author of a new system which he had prepared both for the Navy and mercantile service. In 1858 he was appointed on the board of officers that met at Washington Navy-Yard to prepare a system for the use of the Navy, and much of his system, we believe, to-day constitutes the present code of signals used in our Navy service. Among the events occurring during the command of Captain Lavallette the records furnish the following:
October 20, 1856, the U.S. steamer Engineer was supplied with ordnance stores from the navy-yard.
February 25, 1857, by order of the Department, the navy-yard supplied the District Democratic committee with a howitzer and a hundred rounds of condemned powder to pay appropriate honors to Mr. James Buchanan, the President-elect.
On March 3, 1857, President Pierce addressed the Commandant of the navy-yard an official letter instructing him to furnish proper accommodations on board the U.S.S. Water Witch for his retiring Secretary, Hon. J. C. Dobbins and family, and give them passage to Norfolk or such other place as the Secretary may designate.
Mr. Samuel M. Pook, naval constructor, was detached from duty at
Washington Navy-Yard December 12, 1857, and sent to New York to superintend the construction of a steam sloop of war.
On December 17, 1857, the steamer Water Witch, under command of Lieutenant Page, left the navy-yard bound for Brazil and other South American States for the purpose of exploring their rivers, hitherto unknown except in name.
From the Secretary's books we learn that by order of the Department, in the month of September, 1857, extensive repairs were made at the headquarters of marine barracks, under the authority and direction of Captain Lavallette, the materials and work being furnished by the navy-yard, and that on the previous month, under the authority of the Commandant, an old gun-boat had been repaired at the yard to be employed in conveying across the Eastern Branch the workmen engaged in building an addition to the U.S. Asylum. We give these details of minor work in the yard because they are not mentioned in the official reports of the Bureaus in their detail of the general work of the yard.
In December, 1855, the Secretary of the Navy, in his official report, expressed the design at an early day to assign Commander Dahlgren, lately promoted to this rank, to the command of a vessel to be "devoted exclusively to gunnery practice, with a view to training both officers and men in a duty which constitutes the real effectiveness of a man-of-war."
In October, 1856, in the accomplishment of this design, the Department ordered that the U.S. ship Plymouth be repaired and prepared for sea, under the supervision of Commander Dahlgren, for experimental gunnery practice and ordnance service.
On the 23d of June, 1857, the ship being armed and equipped under the immediate direction of Commander Dahlgren, she was towed down the river by the steamer Fulton, and made a successful cruise of several months, during which the heavy 9 and 11 inch Dahlgren guns that constituted her armament were proven to be as manageable and availably effective in rough seas as ordnance of less weight.
Captain Lavallette was detached, and Capt. John Rudd was appointed to succeed him as Commandant on May 5, 1858.
On May 22, 1858, Secretary Toucey determined to dispatch the Water Witch to the coast of Cuba, in view of commercial difficulties arising in that quarter, and Commander John Rodgers was ordered to report at the navy-yard for the command of this vessel. Captain Rudd, the Commandant of the yard, on this occasion received the following instructions from the Department:
You will direct Commander John Rodgers to consult with Captain Dahlgren as to the armament of the Water Witch, but in case of difference of opinion upon the subject between the two officers, leave the decision to Commander Rodgers.
The Secretary doubtless desired that in the armament of the Water Witch its commander should have the advice and assistance of Commander Dahlgren, but it is perceived that he took the wise precaution to make the former the umpire in the matter.
The steamer Arctic was substituted for the Water Witch, during its absence, as the navy-yard vessel, and the first order to the Arctic from the Commandant of the yard is to proceed to Norfolk for the purpose of towing the steamer Fulton back to Washington. The Fulton, after successfully towing the Plymouth to Norfolk, had become disabled. This steam vessel was built at New York, and was apparently of weak and imperfect construction.
On April 30, 1859, Captain Rudd was detached from duty at the yard and ordered to the U.S. ship Lancaster, of the Home Squadron, and Capt. Franklin Buchanan was ordered as Commandant on the 26th of May, 1859, and assumed the command of the yard on the 31st of May, 1859.
His letter to Secretary Toucey in acknowledgment of the receipt of his orders to take command of the navy-yard, is headed and dated thus: "'The Rest,' near Easton, Maryland, May 28, 1859."
It thus appears that at this period Captain Buchanan possessed a country residence, which from its quiet surroundings and comforts he had named "The Rest."
From his assumption of the command of the navy-yard up to 1861 we find in the records but little of interest concerning the work of the yard or its events.
We find a report to the Department from his hand, dated December 28, 1859, in which a short account is given of a trial trip made by himself and other officers of the yard in the steam-sloop Narragansett, up Chesapeake Bay and out to sea, in obedience to an order from the Department.
The steam powers of the said sloop were reported to be weak and incapable of making headway against strong current or in heavy sea.
In October of the following year we are informed that the Secretary of War, who at this period seemed to be unusually exercised upon the subject of ordnance, had sent to the navy-yard some new model guns to be examined and tried by the officer in charge of ordnance, and Captain Buchanan was ordered to give all necessary aid in experimenting with these and other heavy ordnance and projectiles, also sent to the yard by the War Secretary.
In January, 1861, rumors began to be circulated to the effect that a mob would attempt to take possession of the yard for the purpose of securing arms and ammunition to be used in preventing the inauguration of Abraham Lincoln, the President-elect. Whereupon, Commander Dahlgren was ordered to prepare, for the defense of the yard, all the howitzers available in the ordnance department, with as much secrecy as possible. Captain Buchanan, in giving his orders, uses these emphatic words:
This yard shall not be surrendered to any person or persons except by an order of the honorable Secretary of the Navy, and in the event of an attack I shall require all the officers and others under my command to defend it to the last extremity; and if we be overpowered by numbers, the armory and magazine must be blown up.
Commander Dahlgren, in furtherance of his instructions, reported progress as follows:
I have caused the removal of the contents of the yard magazine to the attic of the main building together with the best arms in the armory, so that they can not be reached by force until the defense of the building is overpowered. The operation has been conducted secretly by two trusty men, at dinner hours, while the men engaged in the yard were absent, and I believe the knowledge is limited to these two men and a few clerks. Whatever small amount of ammunition may accumulate from the laboratory can easily be wetted at short notice, which is better and safer than firing it. I will require only about one hundred good men (seamen preferred) to hold this building, but they should have some drill. Whenever you direct me to lay communications for blowing up the main magazine I shall begin to do so, though the distance from the yard will render the success very doubtful.
On February 1, 1861, Commandant Buchanan issued the following general order:
In the event of an attack upon this navy-yard by a mob the following order will be observed by the officers and employés connected with it:
The main entrance to the yard will be defended by Lieut. H. H. Lewis, in charge of a 12-pounder howitzer and the marine guard. The east entrance will be defended by Lieutenant Simms, in charge of a 12-pounder howitzer. The west entrance will be defended by Lieutenant Russell, in charge of a 12-pounder howitzer.
The howitzers under command of Lieutenants Wainwright and Nelson and Gunner Clapham will defend the ordnance buildings and west side of the yard, all under command of Commander Dahlgren.
Lieutenant Commander Fillebrown, with the howitzers of the Anacostia, assisted by Carpenter Rainbow and Boatswain Willmuth, each in charge of a howitzer, will defend the lower part of the yard. The marines and howitzers will be concentrated at any point where their services may be required. Commander McBlair will see this order executed, and superintend generally under my directions the defense of this yard.
Captain Buchanan at this period evinced a laudable and firm determination to defend the navy-yard under his charge against mob assault, but, as the result proved, he was not disposed to engage actively upon the side of the Government in the civil war that was plainly soon to ensue. On the 21st of April, 1861, the Commandant received an order from the new Secretary, Gideon Welles, to have the steamers Baltimore, Mount Vernon, Philadelphia, and Powhatan, which had been seized by order of the Secretary of War and turned over to the Navy Department, equipped for war service forthwith.
Upon the receipt of this order the worst misfortune that can befall a man, especially if he be a man of piety and principle, happened to Captain Buchanan. His conscience took the wrong side. He resigned his commission, forsook his beautiful country "rest" in Maryland, and cast in his fortunes with the revolting States in their vain efforts to establish a Southern Confederacy.
The following is the roll of the officers who were attached to the yard at this period: Commandant, Capt. Franklin Buchanan; executive commander, William McBlair; lieutenants, Lewis and Simms; surgeon, A. F. McClennon; paymaster, R. T. Alison; chaplain, Mason Noble; carpenter, John Rainbow.
The ordnance department of the yard was under the command of Commander John A. Dahlgren, assisted by three lieutenants--Richard Wainwright, William Nelson, and John H. Russell.
It has been historically declared that every officer of Southern birth attached to the yard at this time forsook his post and followed Captain Buchanan's example. This statement is very near to the truth and yet not entirely true. The records show that there was one exception, in the case of John Rainbow, the carpenter. Though of old Virginia blood and birth, Rainbow remained at his post, and we trust that the shining presence of his name had some illuming and cheering influence upon the existing gloomy surroundings.
With the following condensed statement of the work of the yard during the years 1859 and 1860 we will close this chapter:
In the years 1859 and 1860 Congress made no appropriations for improvements in navy-yards. And yet up to this period, for want of building shops and tools, there was no yard except the Washington yard prepared to complete a marine engine.
But notwithstanding the lack of appropriation, the following improvements were completed in 1859 at Washington yard, viz: "Boiler shop extended, shears removed, reservoir for water completed, gas pipes and fixtures and timber shed," at the aggregate expense of $5,831.74.
During the year 1860 the only works completed in the yard were extension of navy-store, anchor-shop, and coal-houses, at an aggregate cost of $16,963.64.
To conclude upon this subject, to show in what direction the activities of the yard were concentrating, we find that in 1859 and 1860, while the number of days of labor and the cost for the same in the other departments of Washington yard were much less than those of the smallest of the other navy-yards of our country, in the ordnance department of the Washington yard the number of days of labor and the cost thereof were both, more than that of all the other yards, great and small, combined.
It will thus be seen that the indications of the natural course of events a quarter of a century ago presaged the general order (No. 354) of Hon. Secretary Whitney, issued April 14, 1886, by which the Washington Navy-Yard was changed virtually to an ordnance yard. It will therefore be further seen that this order was no mere display of arbitrary power or speculative experiment on the part of its author, but simply the adoption of a policy which had been recommended by his predecessors, and which the logic of events had naturally worked out.
Commander John A. Dahlgren, by special act of Congress, is made eligible, and then authoritatively assigned to the command of Washington yard at the outbreak of the civil war--"The Potomac flotilla;" its connection with the navy-yard--Activity of the yard in equipping ships for war service and providing armament-- Reconnaissance down the Potomac--Commandant's report of the insufficient and unsatisfactory defensive force in the yard--Seventy-first New York Volunteers ordered to the yard for its protection--Death of its commander, Colonel Vosburgh, at the yard--Detail of daily routine of the yard--Commandant's report of the occupation of Alexandria and the murder of Colonel Ellsworth--Capt. Stephen C. Rowan, in command of the Pawnee, cooperating with the land forces--Dahlgren's remarkable comment upon a fatal accident occurring in the laboratory of the ordnance--General hearty and harmonious cooperation of the Army with the Navy in the joint operation on the Potomac--Oath of allegiance as first administered to the employés of the yard--Prisoners confined in the yard released on taking this oath--Regarded by them as the condonement of all previous offense--Letter of the Commandant to the Secretary of the Navy urging the importance of the occupancy of the Potomac shore and the erection of batteries--Followed immediately by the announcement of the death of Commander Ward in an engagement with the enemy at Matthias Point--Gallantry displayed by Seaman J. Williams, of the Pawnee, on this occasion--Letter from the Commandant complaining of the short-sighted policy of the Ordnance Bureau--Officers and men sent from the yard to assist in the defense of Fort Ellsworth--Another fatal accident in the laboratory of the yard--Kindly nature of the Commandant--Recommends the permanent creation of a class of naval gunners--Reinforcements sent again from the yard to Fort Ellsworth--Civilians and other prisoners sent from the flotilla to the navy-yard--Oath of allegiance in improved form; recommends colored refugees to be utilized as firemen--Reply of the Department--Extracts from official sources.
NAVY-YARD DURING CIVIL WAR.
On the 22d of April, 1861, Commander Dahlgren received orders from the Secretary of the Navy, Gideon Welles, to assume temporarily the command of the Washington Navy-Yard. It was a very dreary, discouraging, and most memorable period in our history, and especially in the history of this navy-yard. The guns turned upon Sumter and the American flag, by Americans on American soil, had kindled a tremendous storm of indignation throughout the free States, and inaugurated a civil war that was for years to assume proportions unparalleled in history. The Capital of the nation shut in by Maryland and Virginia on either side, States both in sympathy with the rebellion, was under the domination of the enemies of the Federal Government, and the President and his Cabinet were virtual prisoners. Sympathy with the South and its aims, and hatred of the President-elect, and the sentiment of Union
which he represented, infected every Department of the General Government at Washington, including the navy-yard, to an extent that scarcely a clerk remained loyal to his trust. In times of peace the responsibilities attached to the command of this navy-yard were considered so great that all officers below the rank of captain were made ineligible to the office of Commandant by direct act of Congress. But now, when civil war had come upon us, and it became necessary to hold the navy-yard with bayonets and cannon, and maintain an armed blockade of the Potomac, involving new duties and responsibilities of the most complicated and embarrassing nature, necessity required prompt action, and John A. Dahlgren, although ranking as only commander, was appointed to the temporary command of the yard. He promptly accepted the responsibility and immediately entered upon the duties of the office with a zeal and an ability that soon won the entire confidence, not only of the Secretary of the Navy, but also of President Lincoln and of Congress, and which was evinced by the latter by a special enactment dated August 2, 1861, legalizing the temporary appointment of the Secretary of the Navy and making Commander Dahlgren eligible to the office of Commandant of the yard. We consider this enactment one of the greatest honors ever conferred by Congress upon a naval officer.
Upon the outbreak of the war it became necessary to place a flotilla on the Potomac. A variety of causes, which will appear in the progress of this history of the operations of the Navy on this river and its tributaries, combined to make the duties pertaining to this office most embarrassing and difficult. Yet for several months the Navy, without the aid of the Army, succeeded more effectually than could have been expected in keeping the river open, which was a vital point, in restricting to a great extent communication between the opposite shores and capturing blockade runners, and indeed every rebel vessel that showed itself on the Potomac.
It was here, in this difficult and dangerous duty, that our present honored Vice-Admiral Rowan won his first laurels and Commander Ward fell at his post. Paulding, Stringham, Craven, Gillis, Fillebrown, Parker, and many other officers, few of whom are now living, here served the country in its hour of need as sleepless sentinels, and exhibited examples of heroic daring in facing danger, and in repelling attack from ambush and from masked batteries, and in succoring the Army when in difficulty, which will forever reflect honor on their names and on the service. The navy-yard was necessarily an important and essential adjunct in this great work. Telegraphic orders from the Department to the various commanders of vessels on the blockade were transmitted through the Commandant of the yard, and indeed the records show that the Commandant of Washington Navy-Yard was, for the most part, the "Adjutant-General" of the Navy Department, and the medium of communication between the Navy Department and the Army and Navy operating upon the Potomac and its shores. Commodore
Harwood, the successor of Dahlgren, actually served simultaneously as Commandant of the navy-yard, and commander of Potomac flotilla. Hence the history of the navy-yard in the first years of the war necessarily includes the operations of the Navy on the Potomac during this period, as the two are inseparably connected. We therefore now proceed to detail this history, or at least selected portions from the official records, as literally as possible, during the commands of John A. Dahlgren and his successor, Andrew A. Harwood.
On the same day that he assumed command of the navy-yard Commander Dahlgren reported in regard to the steamer Mt. Vernon, one of the four vessels previously ordered to be equipped for war service, as follows:
I have placed a 32-pounder with appliances, a breech-loading rifle for each hand on board, a pilot and six seamen to operate the gun. I have also directed Boatswain Willmuth to be ready to take the command of the vessel in case the Department has made no other arrangements. There is still wanted an assistant pilot, a guard of marines, or of United States troops for guard duty and defense. One great difficulty at this time is to procure pilots. Several to whom I have applied have declined. Therefore compensation is necessary, and I have offered the pilot of the Mt. Vernon $85 per month, which is better than he can get from any other party, and contents him perfectly. There are provisions for ten days for fifty men, and water. The deficiencies of the yard in many respects are so great that I shall be obliged to supply them as quickly as possible. I shall lose no time in putting the yard in the best state of defense that the time and means permit. I will be glad to receive your full directions for the steamer Mt. Vernon, which is now fitted for service, and will proceed to get ready the other three.
Having received, by telegram, immediate orders from the Department, the Commandant sent the Mt. Vernon down the Potomac on a reconnaissance. There being no commissioned officer to spare, Boatswain Willmuth was intrusted with the command, and Gunner Ellis volunteered and went with the expedition. Besides the pilot, engineer, and firemen, there were four marines and ten men from the ordnance department sent. These men could be illy spared at this time from the defense of the yard, but as the captain of the volunteer company of Washington infantry declined to detail any of his men for this service, and some of the men refused to volunteer for any duty outside of the District, and others said that they were willing to fight for the flag on land, but not in unsafe steam-boats with guns liable to burst, etc., there was no alternative. We give below the report of this expedition from the log-book of the Mt. Vernon:
Left the wharf at navy-yard April 22, 1861, at 11.30 p.m. and proceeded down the river. At 1.30 a.m. of the 23d made fast at the wharf at Fort Washington. At 6.30 a.m. left the wharf and steamed down the river; at 9 a.m. fell in with the fleet, consisting of the Pawnee, Captain Rowan; Keystone State, Captain Pendergrast; and Anacostia, Captain Fillebrown, under the command of Commodore Paulding; reported to the flag-ship Keystone State; returned on board, steamed down the river and came to anchor at 12.30 p.m., Lower Cedar Point light-ship bearing northeast by east, distance --- miles. Shortly after coming to saw smoke direction of light-ship, and shortly after saw a boat with twenty men leave the light-ship. Immediately after the boat left discovered light-ship on fire. Fired ten rounds from muskets to bring
the boat to; boat took no notice of the musketry. Fired a shell across his bow, but they proceeded and effected a landing. Meantime perceived a steamer, James Guy, maneuvering in a suspicious manner and communicating with the shore. Steamed alongside and hailed her; having lady passengers on board, allowed her to proceed. (This steamer was afterwards seized by the Government.) We then returned to light-ship, lowered a boat and went alongside, but finding her a perfect wreck, returned to steamer and proceeded to Fort Washington. The commander of the fort expecting an attack, I concluded to remain with him over night. At 7.30 a.m. of the 24th, steamer Anacostia hove in sight. At 8:20 boarded the Anacostia and received orders from Captain Fillebrown to proceed down the river. Followed instructions, scrutinizing the shore on both sides; saw no sign of batteries; passed the wreck of Lower Cedar Point light-ship; ascertained that the buoys had not been removed. At 12:30 turned steamer up river; at 2:30 mustered crew for drill and small-arm and target practice; beat retreat at 3 p.m., and at 5 p.m. made fast to wharf at Fort Washington. At 11:30 boarded a suspicious looking schooner, but found her to be coal loaded and 25 passengers on board, bound for Philadelphia; allowed her to proceed. At 7 a.m., 25th, cast off from wharf and steamed up the river; at 7.30 passed the steamer Pocahontas, Captain Gillis; at 8.30 a.m. made fast alongside Powhatan at navy-yard.
From this report we learn that the enemy was already engaged in attempts to interrupt commerce on the Potomac, and at this early period there was great fear of an armed attempt on the part of the rebels, who were reported to be in considerable force at Alexandria and other points, to take possession of the Navy-Yard.
The Commandant reported at this time for the defense of the yard the following force:
|Company A, Captain Towers
|Company A, German Turner Rifles
|Union Volunteers, Captain Miller
It is evident from the following comment, addressed to the Secretary of the Navy, that the Commandant did not place much reliance upon the District volunteer portion of his command:
You will perceive that when troops are at liberty to discuss the orders and even refuse obedience on any grounds whatever, they are no longer to be considered as effective. One of these companies left the yard this morning without permission, and all of them are fed outside of the limits of the yard. I therefore request that the companies now on duty for the yard may be relieved by others who are prepared and disposed to meet the responsibilities of the times. This yard is of importance not only as a navy-yard and supply depot, but also is an important position in the general defense of the city. Near it is a bridge easily reached and passed whenever an attack may be conducted, by crossing from Alexandria, then over the low heights opposite the yard. I sent one howitzer with ten men and another with corporal's guard of marines to guard this bridge. I found there four dragoons. The companies I distributed along the borders of the yard, which were also patrolled by a strong body of marines. Cannon were also planted looking down the river, as well as several howitzers. In short, I have kept the whole force on the alert for any contingency.
Upon the receipt of this letter, upon a requisition of Secretary Welles upon the Secretary of War, a battalion of reliable troops, Seventy-first
Regiment of New York Volunteers, Colonel Vosburgh, was ordered to the navy-yard for its protection.
The following report of official letters and their respective subjects received by the Commandant from the Navy Department during the month of May, 1861, will afford a conception of a portion of the daily routine of the work of the navy-yard and the responsible duties of the commanding officer at this period:
Letter of May 1. Directing the Commandant to allow river pilots a fixed salary of $60 per month.
May 2. Directing that Lieutenant Fillebrown, in the Anacostia, be ordered to proceed down the river on a special reconnaissance.
May 4. Directing that the Government Printing Office be furnished with certain materials.
May 6. Relative to an appointment for John Kershaw.
May 7. Directing the steamers Anacostia and Mt. Vernon to be placed at the disposal of the Secretary of the Treasury for a few days.
May 8. Directing repairs to be made to the propeller Artisan.
Directing the United States vessels of the Potomac to protect the coal vessels up and down the river.
Directing that the steamer Star of the South be taken on the railway at the yard for repair.
May 9. Ordering supplies to be sent to northern ports by the steamer Philadelphia.
Directing that two men, Parkerson and Owings, employés of the yard, be dismissed for disloyalty.
May 10. Transmitting Potomac tide-tables for the use of government vessels; also tide-tables of points on Chesapeake Bay.
May 11. Authorizing 100 ring-bolts to be furnished the Engineer Department of the Army.
May 13. Directing a midshipman from navy-yard to be detailed for the Pawnee.
May 14. Directing a full supply of coal to be sent down the river to the Pocahontas.
May 15. Instructions in regard to the pay of George Farron, engineer of Anacostia.
May 23. Authorizing leave of absence to Acting Midshipman Mullen.
May 24. Directing the retention of the prisoners taken at Alexandria.
May 25. Inclosing instructions in relation to the administering the oath of allegiance.
May 29. Directing that the steamer Yankee be calked, and directing her armament to be altered as recommended by the Commandant.
May 30. Directing a board to be ordered for the examination of J. Ferguson as gunner in the Navy. Directing repairs on steamer Keystone State.
May 31. Informing the Commandant that the Secretary of the Treasury had instructed collectors of customs at Alexandria, Va., to permit vessels from northern ports to enter at that point, and to grant clearances to those destined for northern ports.
All arrivals at the yard and all the operations of the flotilla and general war news were communicated daily to the Department by telegram or letter through the Commandant of the yard.
On May 21, 1861, the Commandant announces the death of the commander of the New York regiment stationed in the yard, as follows:
It is with deep regret that I have to announce to you the sudden death of Colonel Vosburgh, commanding the Seventy-first New York Regiment, stationed in this yard, under my command. He died after a brief illness of but a day or two. He was a gallant gentleman, and untiring in his efforts to fulfill the duties imposed by his responsible position. I shall extend every mark of respect to his memory and to the fine regiment which he commanded.
On May 22 the arrival at the yard of the Pocahontas, Captain Gillis, is announced, with a captured steam-boat, the James Guy, before mentioned by Willmuth as maneuvering suspiciously about Lower Point light-house, and suspected of being an ally of the rebels. The vessel was turned over for Government use by order of the Secretary of the Navy.
On May 24 the Commandant reported the following account of the capture of Alexandria and the sad and memorable assassination of Colonel Ellsworth:
Conformably with the request of General Mansfield, the steamers, lighters, and boats at this yard were sent to assist in the operations of last night against Alexandria. Between 2 and 4 a.m. the regiment of zouaves commanded by Colonel Ellsworth were embarked from Giesboro' Point in the steamers and moved to Alexandria, where they landed and occupied position about daylight. The steamers Baltimore, Mt. Vernon, and Guy were commanded respectively by Lieutenant West, Master Morris, and Acting Master Wood. The creditable performance of the duty intrusted to them in this case entitle them to my thanks.
The tragic death of the brave and youthfully-zealous Ellsworth, is mentioned in these words:
After the occupancy of the city, I regret to say that Colonel Ellsworth was deliberately murdered by one of the inhabitants, who was, in return, himself instantly killed by a private soldier, who stood near the colonel at the time. My short acquaintance with this officer fully impressed me with the correctness of the common opinion of his excellent qualities as a citizen and soldier. I conveyed his body to this place, where, with every mark of respect, it has been landed under the escort of zouaves, Seventy-first Regiment, and marines, and deposited in a suitable place.
During this movement upon the city of Alexandria by the land force, the Pawnee, Captain Rowan, lay off the city, prepared to co-operate with the Army if there had been any resistance on the part of the enemy, but the statement of Lossing, in his history of the civil war, that before the military forces reached Alexandria "the commander of the Pawnee had already been in negotiation with the insurgents or civil authorities for the evacuation of Alexandria by the rebel forces and the surrender of the city," is authoritatively denied by Vice-Admiral Rowan himself.
On May 29 the commandant reported another accident in the laboratory of ordnance department, by which John Davis lost his life and Joseph Whitey was severely wounded. His comment upon this accident is as follows:
In this case, as is generally so when fulminate is used, no reason can be given for the explosion.
Though the Army and Navy in their joint operations on the Potomac and around Washington always acted, for the most part, in harmonious union, vieing with each other in acts of bravery and patriotic devotion, occasionally, at the first, there appears to have been some individual clashing between officers representing these two branches of the service, arising, however, in every case from a want of knowledge on the part of the Army officer of the usages of war and strict regulations and requirements to which a naval officer is subjected.
In one case an Army officer is offended because a naval officer declines to relieve his command of the care and support of a lot of refugees and contrabandist prisoners, by carrying them over to the Virginia shore and setting them adrift to shift for themselves.
In another case General Mansfield, in the command of the Army about Washington, having sent a dispatch to a young Lieutenant Green, who was at the time on duty as officer of the day at a post on Long Bridge, asking for certain information, the lieutenant found it necessary before replying to the general, to find out what steamer had gone down the river the previous day. He therefore sent a dispatch to the navy-yard which appears in the records as follows:
LONG BRIDGER, May 29, 1861.
What steamer went down the river yesterday?
Dahlgren's reply is as follows:
Not being informed of the official position which authorizes your inquiry of me as to the steamer that went down the river yesterday, I decline to answer. All departures and arrivals are reported to the Navy Department.
Lieutenant Green replies to this by a telegram in which he gives his official position and duty, but does this evidently only for the purpose of using language both unofficer-like and ungentlemanly in the concluding sentence:
Commander JOHN A. DAHLGREN,
Lieutenant Green asked no question of the commandant of the navy-yard. He asked the operator of the navy-yard for information which would assist him in replying to a dispatch from General Mansfield.
Lieutenant Green considers that if his dispatch had been intended for Commander Dahlgren this would not excuse his impertinent reply.
O. D. GREEN,
First Lieutenant Second Artillery, Officer of the Day, Long Bridge.
Commander Dahlgren, very indignant at this studied and deliberate insult, at once inclosed the copies of the several telegrams to the Secretary of the Navy demanding the arrest and trial of Lieutenant Green and requesting the Department to sustain the charge before the War Department. The complaint was sent to the Secretary of War, but with no results that are mentioned in the records.
On June 4, by order of the Department, the commandant, through William Clark, a civil magistrate, administered the following oath of allegiance to the employés of the navy-yard:
I do solemnly swear that I will bear true allegiance to the United States of America, and that I will serve them honestly and faithfully without any mental reservation against all their enemies or opposers whatsoever; that I will observe and obey the orders of the President of the United States and of the officers appointed over me, according to the rules and articles for the government of the Navy of the United States.
This oath seems to have been prepared with studied effort to avoid the use of the word "government" except as applied to the Navy. Whether we had a Government at all at this time seemed, indeed, to be in great doubt, and the question was then being submitted to the arbitrament of the sword. We are informed that four hundred and five men held up their hands and took the above oath and thirty-seven employés from the various departments of the yard refused and were dismissed from the yard.
Prisoners confined in the yard at this period could secure their release by taking the oath of allegiance and many availed themselves of this privilege. In fact, Confederate prisoners generally seemed to have no realization of the great criminality of their armed resistance to the Government, and no fear whatever of incurring any punishment. And when they had taken the oath of allegiance they seemed to consider, not only that their offense was condoned, but also that the Government was under great obligation to them. Among other prisoners taken under arms and confined on board the U.S.S. Powhatan was Capt. M. Delancy Ball, commanding "Fairfax Cavalry," with a squad of men.
This captain addressed the following letter to the commandant of the yard:
U.S.S. POWHATAN, June 6, 1861.
DEAR SIR: We have determined, as you will see by the inclosed paper (a copy of the oath of allegiance), to give up our profession and retire to private life. Some of us, myself among the number, would like to be taken to Alexandria. I truly hope you will find it convenient to attend to us this morning early, as my anxiety about my family increases daily. I can hear nothing from them and the Federal troops are now around them and perhaps causes them much, though unnecessary, fear.
I am truly, etc.,
M. D. BALL.
In the early part of June, 1861, and indeed, several times during the month, the troops in the yard, under direction of commandant, made incursions both into Virginia and Maryland to seize stores or arms reported to be collected at various points for Confederate use. There were also continued reconnaissances of the river for the purpose of discovering and destroying batteries erected by the enemy.
The following letter of commandant upon the defense of the navy-yard, was addressed to the Secretary of the Navy June, 20, 1861:
I beg leave to submit the following:
There are only two points where an attempt on this place by the Potomac can be made successfully. The lowest of these is Matthias Point, about 50 miles from Washington. The channel is so narrow here that vessels can not keep farther than 1,400 yards from the Point at one place; which is dangerously nigh in daylight.
The distance of the opposite shore (4,000 yards) is so great as to preclude the possibility of silencing batteries on Matthias Point.
At night this passage could possibly be made with safety, but the best plan is to seize and hold this point at once, which at present would not require a large force to accomplish. White House Bluff is the other position that may be used to hinder the communication by the river. This, too, would best be guarantied by occupation, but
this would require more force, and as the ground is unfavorable and near to the secessionist forces, would require a larger body of men than we can spare to hold securely. Resort must be had, therefore, to a counter battery on opposite shore about 1,700 yards distant and also some heavy pieces afloat the enfilade, the principal front. But even with these it would be impossible to free the bluff entirely from batteries, so that the cover of night would have to be used in passing. A railroad acting below this point would obviate the difficulty that might be made available in time required. Other modes of communication might be substituted for transportation, which I will not enlarge upon here. I would strongly advise, however, that some measures be immediately taken towards the occupation of Matthias Point and the erection of counter battery to the White House Bluff.
J. H. DAHLGREN.
On June 28, following close upon the letter above given in regard to the occupancy of Matthias Point, the commandant announced to the Department that the senior officer of the Potomac flotilla, Commander J. H. Ward, had been killed on the previous day while attempting to cover a landing on Matthias Point. He was struck by a musket ball as he was sighting a 32-pounder on board the Freeborn. Surgeon. F. M. Gunnel thus officially reports the case:
Commander J. H. Ward, commanding flotilla, gunshot wound of abdomen; almost immediately fatal.
Commander Rowan, of the Pawnee, brought the body to the navy-yard, with accompanying papers relating to the engagement in which Commander Ward lost his life and which were forwarded to the Department, but these papers have been taken or lost from the records. A boat ensign that was held by I. Williams, a seaman from the Pawnee, on the retreat of the boat's company from the shore where they had attempted to land, was sent to the Department by order of the Secretary of the Navy. This brave fellow, although badly wounded, seized the fallen ensign on the retreat to the ship and earned it safely back under a heavy fire of musketry from the shore.
On July 24, 1861, having received some especial directions from Captain Harwood, chief of the Bureau of Ordnance, in reference to the proper protection of the magazine, the commandant replies:
To carry out these instructions will require an addition of twenty marines to those needed for the yard. The custody of this magazine should also be in the hands of an active intelligent man and not an infirm old woman.
We find in the records frequent letters to the Department from Commander Dahlgren in regard to the Ordnance Department of the yard. He states that--
At this period the number of light cannon that this department can supply is about two rifled bronze guns per week, which is by no means what it should be or what can be attained. But this includes the two carriages (for field and boat) which requires even more work than the gun and the full supply of ammunition, equal together to five guns per week. Other establishments when they furnish guns do not include these inseparable necessaries. As soon as the work on the Pensacola is completed [this ship was then being supplied with new boilers and steam apparatus at this yard] I shall be able to apply the machinery of the engineer department to ordnance, and see no reason then why the product should not be one gun per day or three hundred per year. I acknowledge the short-comings of this department, but, in justice to myself, must
say that they are not attributable to myself but to the miserable short-sighted policy that has been permitted to control the Navy ordnance for more than ten years, and has overridden me in all the suggestions I have submitted.
Some of these have been absolutely ignored or rejected, such as experiments on armor for ships in 1852; rifled cannon in 1856. Others have been curtailed or crippled so that their usefulness has been but partially developed. This was signally the case with the system of armament that I proposed for our heavy frigates which was mutilated in the most injudicious manner, essentially reducing the power of the batteries. So with the expenditure of $100,000 for small-arms.
In this department as soon as my back was turned my arrangements were often entirely reversed. Thus when I went to sea in the Plymouth, the chief of the Bureau countermanded the making of a large gun lathe upon which the finish of certain ordnance depended. So that even in this matter of detail I was powerless, save what was derived from the Bureau. I am naturally discouraged by this constant difficulty, which has only taken different forms under different chiefs without losing force or direction.
And yet with all these drawbacks I now venture to assert that there is no establishment in the country, private or public, where the product has been so much increased as in this. But I feel bound to state to the Department that without some change of system the ordnance of the Navy can never fulfill the wants of the service.
On July 27, 1861, in compliance with orders from Secretary of Navy, a detachment of officers and men was sent from the yard to assist in the defense of Fort Ellsworth against anticipated attack. Having some pieces of heavy and light ordnance at hand which the commandant thought would be Army useful, and to which the seamen were better accustomed than to army ordnance, he informs the Secretary of the Navy that he had sent them also. The Secretary acknowledged the letter and approved his action.
He also informed the Secretary of the Navy that the guns for the defense of the yard had been placed in the position designated by the proper military authority, and that when on previous evening a general beat to quarters occurred the naval battery, consisting of three 9-inch guns and five howitzers, was manned and ready to take part in defending the lines--
The total force is one hundred and ten seamen and forty marines. Lieutenant Parker, to whom I have assigned this charge, has asked of me, some re-inforcement of seamen and marines, which I am unable to give without lessening the force in the yard too much. I would like to do it if the Department will allow me re-inforcement of about one hundred seamen for the yard. It is due to our men to say that they have laid the platforms and done all the work necessary to the operation of the guns.
On July 27 another accident is reported as occurring in the detached building of the laboratory. Two men were killed and several slightly injured. The loss of material was reported to be considerable, and the roof of the building much damaged.
The following items of interest, indicating the routine of duties and the general work of the yard for the month of August, 1861, we select from the manuscript records:
On August 3, 1861, the following list of vessels, captured by the flotilla, are reported as lying at the yard: Schooner Buena Vista, sloop Leon, schooner John Hambleton, schooner Sally Means, sloop Alena, sloop Jane Wright, one canoe, long-boats Richard Lacey and Morning Star.
On August 12 the commandant recommended an increase of the pay of pilots on account of the difficulty of securing their steady service; also that some newly instructed seamen should be appointed gunners at $40 per month, which was done.
On August 14 the Resolute of the Potomac flotilla, arrived at the yard with a lot of slaves on board, consisting of twelve males, three females, and two children. At this early period no settled policy had been adopted for the disposition of these refugees, and it was the custom of officers of the Navy and of the Army to allow masters, if professing Union sentiments, to reclaim and recover their slaves, and when returned to their masters they were taken by the Confederate authorities whenever needed, to dig trenches, build fortifications, etc. The commandant inquired of the Secretary of the Navy, "What shall I do with these people?" The answer was, "Let them go."
On August 15, 1801, President Lincoln and Secretary Seward came to the yard late in the evening, and gave verbal order to the commandant to take the charge of a party of mutineers from the Seventy-ninth New York Regiment. These men arrived about midnight in custody of a detachment of cavalry, and were transferred to the Powhatan lying off shore. The commandant had but thirty marines to guard these prisoners.
On the succeeding day twenty-seven mutineers from the Thirteenth New York Regiment were sent to the yard for safe-keeping, and on the 17th sixty-six were reported from Second Maine Regiment, disarmed, and turned over to the charge of the commandant of the yard.
On August 20 the commandant reports the arrival of steam-boat Baltimore, with eleven captured boats, four of which were sent to the flotilla before midnight, armed and equipped, and manned by fifty-three seamen undercharge of Master Mate White. The steamer which towed them down was guarded by a detachment of marines.
August 20, the commandant announces the arrival of a side-wheel steamer, Jacob Bell, purchased by the Government for the use of the flotilla, which was at this time under the command of Commander T. T. Craven. The steamer was fitted for an armament of 8-inch of 55 cwt. forward, and a 32-pounder of 32 cwt aft; ammunition, coal, and provisions put on board, a gunner, named Roe, detailed from the U.S.S. Pensacola. A pilot, engineer, and assistant were rated for the vessel, and six refugees (slaves) sent as firemen. The commandant adds:
The mechanics worked with their usual good will, and thus enacted me to dispatch the Bell from the yard after twenty-four hours of unremitting labor at 8 o'clock p.m. of this evening.
August 20, the Department is informed that twenty more mutineers from one of the regiments were brought to the yard for safe custody, and then in a post-script it is added:
Another lot has arrived, which I could only receive on condition that the escort with them be allowed to remain, which was assented to.
August 21, by order of the Secretary, the steamer Underwriter was prepared, manned, and equipped with a rifled 8-pounder on her forward deck, and an 8-inch gun of 63 cwt. aft, for service in the flotilla. She was put under temporary command of Lieutenant Pritchett, her crew consisting of master's mate, midshipman, engineer, and pilot, with ten seamen.
The records of this date mention an incident characteristic of the kindly nature of Commandant Dahlgren.
On the recommendation of the master blacksmith of the yard the Commandant approved of the discharge from his situation in the blacksmith shop of a negro belonging to a person reported to be "an anti-union man." But when the servant informed the commandant that he had an agreement with his master by which he was allowed a portion of his pay, with which to purchase his freedom, the Commandant immediately asked for his re-instatement, which was granted.
The records at this time also mention that the Commandant, at his request, had received permission from the Department to distribute to the poor the rough chips and broken lumber, not available for public service.
August 25, by verbal order of the Secretary of the Navy, four steamers were sent from the yard in command of Captain Wainwright to secure all boats along the Potomac shores. Twenty-eight boats were captured. The river Tiber was also searched for hidden boats.
August 26 the commandant asked and received permission to pass Mr. Russell, of the London Times, down the river on a steamer. On the same day, having asked instructions in regard to delivering slaves to persons claiming ownership in cases in which the negro denies the claim, the commandant asked for authority from the Department to decide upon all such cases. The Secretary answered that "if a loyal citizen, from a loyal State, claimed a negro as his property, the subject must be turned over to the civil legal tribunals, as we have no authority to adjudicate in the matter."
August 28, the commandant reported to the Secretary that the steamer Philadelphia, in command of Capt. Foxhall A. Parker, on a trip to Fortress Monroe and return, had been closely watched by the enemy, and the movements of the steamer were signaled from the Maryland to the Virginia shore throughout the whole extent of her progress on the river.
On August 30, twelve young men are reported as having arrived at the yard from New York to be instructed in the rules and practice of naval gunnery, etc., with the rank of master's mate.
Upon their arrival the commandant recommended to the Department the permanent creation of a competent class of naval gunners, and reported that the order he had received from the Department to perfect the organization of the system that had been adopted for drilling seamen
in gunnery was in progress of execution, and that he had classified them according to their ability to perform gunnery duties. This letter is indorsed by Chief of Bureau Harwood as follows:
The education in gunnery of a special class of seamen has always been a want in the Navy, and in my opinion all proper encouragement should be given the best men to qualify themselves for this service.
The following is the list of master's mates at navy-yard in the school of gunnery, with the acting masters in charge, established by Commander Dahlgren September, 1861.
Acting masters in charge: J. Salstonstall, John Fuller, William Mitchell, and B. F. North.
Master's mates: James C. Staples, G. H. Avery, George H. Lounsberry, Thomas H. Goodwin, John H. Wiley, W. H. Engell, Frank G. Adams, Joseph Lewis, Charles Austin, Alexander Hamilton, Paul Bruner, Lewis G. Cook, F. Augustus Miller, W. U. Wells, George Betts, and Charles Harris.
On September 3 in anticipation of a second threatened assault upon Fort Ellsworth the commandant sent a detachment of seamen, numbering three hundred and ninety-seven men, under the command of Commander Wainwright, assisted by Lieutenants Roe and Pritchett and a master's mate, to occupy the fort. To complete the efficiency of the garrison the commandant recommended the addition of a guard of at least fifty marines and one experienced medical officer.
These were ordered from the headquarters of the Marine Corps, of which Colonel Harris was in command. The Secretary of the Navy approved of all the military arrangements concerning the occupancy of Fort Ellsworth, which were made by Commandant Dahlgren, including the appointment of the officers to temporary duty at the fort.
We learn from a report, dated September 11, that an epidemic, having some of the appearances of small pox, at this time prevailed at the yard, creating some panic, which, however, soon abated upon the publication of the diagnosis of the surgeon in charge, who pronounced the disease to be simply "measles."
September 15, by order of the Assistant Secretary of Navy, Mr. Fox, Captain Craven, commanding Potomac flotilla, sent up to the navy-yard a batch of civilian and other prisoners, consisting of men, women, and children, the officers of the Forbes, who were under arrest for loss of this vessel, Captain Dove, Paymaster Gallaher, and others, who were under restraint for disloyalty or other charges.
Whereupon, Commandant Dahlgren reported to the Department that the number and diversity of the prisoners entrusted to his charge were becoming very embarrassing for want of proper accommodations for them. "It is very difficult," writes the commandant, "to make any use of the large steamer they are in. " Citizen prisoners were generally released from restraint upon taking the oath of allegiance, and the commandant, as we may readily suppose, always seemed to be heartily glad to get rid of them. The form of oath at that time required,
is an improvement upon the one formerly administered to which we have referred. It was as follows:
I do solemnly swear that I will support, protect, and defend the Constitution and Government of the United States against all enemies, domestic or foreign, and that I will bear true faith, allegiance, and loyalty to the same, any ordinance, resolution, or law of any State convention or legislature to the contrary notwithstanding, and further, that I will faithfully perform all the duties which may be required of me by law. So help me God.
On September 17, the Commandant again writes to the Secretary in regard to the colored refugees or slaves, for whom he always manifested friendship and sympathy, as follows:
The contrabands are of use as firemen in the small steamers. They have their ration as usual in the Navy, but they have no clothes. I respectfully suggest that the commanding officer may be authorized to allow them to draw sufficient for the purpose.
This is the first use of the word "contraband," as applied to slaves, that we find, in the Navy records, but General Butler, it is said, was the first thus to employ this term.
On the 25th of September, in response to the letter above given, of the 17th of September, the Commandant received the following order in regard to the colored refugees from Secretary Welles:
The Department finds it necessary to adopt a regulation with respect to the large and increasing number of persons of color now subsisted at the navy-yard and on board ships of war. They can neither be expelled from the service to which they have resorted nor can they be maintained unemployed; and it is not proper that they should be compelled to render necessary and regular service without a stated compensation. You are therefore authorized, when their services can be made useful, to enlist them for the naval service under the same form and regulations as apply to other enlistments. They will be allowed, however, no higher rating than "boys," at a compensation of $3 per mouth and one ration.
At this time the Government needed men with which to recruit both Navy and Army, and at a later period paid large bounties to volunteers, yet the above apologetic document plainly shows that it was not yet free enough from the old bonds that the slavocracy had bound and riveted upon it, to accept and welcome heartily and intelligently if this new source of recruitment, providentially, that is, naturally, opened, and sufficient in itself, if encouraged and fostered, to sap the life and strength of the rebellion. When the Government in its extremity was led to adopt the Butler application of the word "contraband," and enforce it in the Army and Navy, the overthrow of the Southern Confederacy was practically foreordained.
We will close the history of the yard for this memorable year by presenting a few extracts from the published official records. Andrew A. Harwood, Chief of Bureau of Ordnance, etc., in his report of November 18, 1861, after eloquently referring to the peculiarly trying circumstances in which the Bureau was placed in entering upon the duties of an almost deserted office where scarcely a clerk remained loyal to
his trust, and the measures adopted to meet the exigencies of the times, thus mentions the Commandant of Washington Navy-Yard:
The genius of Commander Dahlgren designed new models for rifled cannon, which have been in hand and used, with every possible appliances of foundries and machine shops that are found available throughout the country, as well in public works as in private establishments. There is every reason to believe that under any probable contingency which may arise the demand for ordnance will be promptly supplied with cannon fully equal, if not superior, to any known to exist at home or abroad.
The Secretary of the Navy, in his report dated December 2, 1861, thus represents the Washington Navy-Yard:
The works of improvement which have been completed at this yard during the past fiscal year are steam-engine machinery for ordnance building, pavements, drains, and gutters, grading and filling, machinery and tools, and repairs of officers' quarters.
Upon these objects there has been expended for labor, $15,733.34; for material, $4,283.92; making an aggregate of $20,017.26.
The other improvements upon which expenditures have been made are dredging of channels, general repairing of all kinds, upon which have been expended for labor, $9,412.25; for materials, $2,218.36; making an aggregate of $11,630.61.
Under the head of contingent there has been expended during the fiscal year the sum of $77,675.63.
The report then takes up the subject of the gas consumption of the yard:
In view of the great increase of this source of expense, amounting to $1,200 per month, it is thought that a great saving may be effected by the erection of gas works at the yard. Besides the navy-yard being the lowest point at which gas is consumed, the pressure is necessarily weak, and as the main passes over Capitol Hill, it is doubtful whether a sufficient supply from the present source can be obtained for the large number of burners in the yard when the consumption of gas at the Capitol shall have commenced, as the gas for supplying that building will be taken from the highest point of the main.
The Secretary considered this object of much importance and strongly urged an appropriation for its accomplishment. Later experience, however, demonstrated the fact that the Government can purchase gas supply for its public buildings and property much cheaper than it can furnish it from its own manufactories, and hence the Washington Navy-Yard, in common with all the other navy-yards, we believe, has continued to be supplied by independent gas companies.
For repairs of magazine, store-house, keepers' houses, wharf, fence, and foundation for experimental battery, for the year 1861, $4,797.17. Entire cost of labor for the year ending June 30, 1861, $179,266.77.
In closing his report of December 2, 1861, the Secretary writes:
At the Washington yard it is recommended by the Commandant that $100,000 be appropriated for buildings, machinery, and dependencies of every kind of the naval ordnance department of this station. The importance and amount of the labor done at the New York and Washington yards can scarcely be overestimated. The increase and improvements in ordnance at the Washington yard are without a parallel in the country.
Workmen in the yard apply for increased wages--Hours of labor--Commandant asks for an appropriation of $200,000 to increase the resources of the Ordnance Department; also for $1,000 to celebrate, by illumination at the yard, the naval victory at Fort Henry--Captured flags received at the yard--Panic excited by the Merrimac--Preparations made to prevent the entrance of this dangerous enemy into the Potomac--Commandant recommends to the Department that instant provision be made for the fabrication of heavy iron plating; also that a large ram be constructed for harbor defense--Testing the resisting force of iron armor against heavy artillery at the yard--Seamen of the yard and of the gun-boat Satellite, under charge of a son of the commandant, sent with munitions of war to Harper's Ferry--A "non-combatant" employe" dismissed from the yard--Commander Dahlgren promoted to be Chief of the Bureau of Ordnance and succeeded by Commander Andrew A. Harwood--Patriotic demonstration of the employés of the yard--Report of vessels repaired at the yard--Complimentary notice of Dahlgren by the Secretary of the Navy--Commodore Harwood asks for more vessels to arrest the increasing contraband trade--He receives his promotion as commodore and is appointed in command of the "Potomac flotilla"--He hoists his flag and visits the gun-boats belonging to the "flotilla"--Returns and reports the gun-boats to be in good condition, and the officers generally on the alert--Capture of gun-boats Satellite and Reliance by the rebels.
NAVY-YARD DURING CIVIL WAR--Continued.
The first important item for the year 1862, presented in the records, is an official application through the commandant to the Secretary of the Navy, from the workmen of the navy-yard, for an increase of salary, or at least to be allowed extra compensation for what they termed "overtime work."
Since last June we have given our services cheerfully to the Department from four to six nights and parts of nights of the week, as well as the Sabbath, doing everything in our power to advance the best interests of the Government during its current trials, etc.
There is reason to suppose that the commandant was in sympathy with this movement for increase of pay on the part of the workmen, but it met with no favor from the Bureau of Yards and Docks, to which it was referred by the Secretary of the Navy. The reply is as follows:
The Bureau is surprised by this communication. These officers by their importunities were made salaried officers by the late Secretary of the Navy against the judgment of this Bureau of the expediency or necessity of such a regulation. Having been made salaried officers, they should be paid like other officers, on salary for their whole services, both mental and physical, by night or by day, without extra compensation over and above the salary fixed upon.
By an act of Congress approved January 14, 1862, the legal hours of labor in the navy-yards of the United States were established to be the same as in the private ship-yards at or nearest to the place where such navy-yard is established. The hours of the private ship-yards of Baltimore being the nearest to Washington yard, were therefore adopted by the commandant, as follows:
Rules for ringing the bell which shall regulate the working hours in this ship-yard. --The bell shall be rung the following hours every day, except Sunday: At 7 o'clock a.m., 12 o'clock noon, 1 o'clock p.m., 6 o'clock p.m. When the sun rises later than forty-five minutes after 6 o'clock, the bell mast be rung fifteen minutes after sunrise, and when the sun sets before 6 o'clock it must be rung at sunset. The standard clock in the yard will be regulated by the time of the National Observatory.
JOHN A. DAHLGREN.
The question of pay still remained in an unsatisfactory, unsettled state, and was moreover complicated by a report of a board appointed to give information as to wages in private ship-yards. The board represented the superiority of the Washington yard, in the fact that "at no private ship-yard in the United States are all of the several kinds of manufacture carried on, which are in working order in the Washington yard."
The commandant finding it impossible, in justice to the workmen of the Washington yard, to regulate their wages, satisfactorily, by other yards, for the above reason, and in consequence of the greater expense of living in Washington, submitted the matter, through the Department, to Congress, and it was referred to Naval Committee, but without further immediate action thereon.
On the 28th of January, 1862, the commandant addressed the Chief of the Bureau of Ordnance, representing that the resources of the ordnance foundry were altogether insufficient for present demands and that every part was blocked up with unfinished work, which was daily increasing. He therefore asked that an appropriation to increase the resources of this department be made of $50,000.
On February 4 he wrote a supplementary letter upon the same subject, in which he represented to the Department that although he had asked for but $50,000 for the instant wants of the ordnance foundry, that for general purposes of defense it was very desirable to have the capacity of this foundry carried to a much greater extent so as to produce a large number of very heavy cannon:
The experience and ample resources to be found in the yard will enable me with a large appropriation, say $200,000, to supply a considerable number of the heaviest ordnance in the least possible time.
Heavy ordnance, such as would be effective against iron-clad vessels, was at this time in great demand, and the Secretary of the Navy earnestly recommended that the desired appropriation be made. On February 18 a national salute was fired from navy-yard in celebration of the brilliant naval victory, capture of Fort Henry, on Tennessee River, and on the following day the commandant sent an official request to
the Department to sanction the expenditure of $1,000 for the illumination of the yard on the approaching 22d of February.
The reply of Secretary Welles was, that the Department would not feel justified in authorizing an expenditure of more than $100 or $200. Whether or not the commandant gave a one hundred dollar illumination instead of a thousand, on this occasion, we are not informed.
On February 19, 1862, the following flags were received at the yard from the Navy Department:
First American flag raised at Hilton Head,
One Palmetto taken at Hilton Head.
One Confederate taken at Hilton Head.
One large flag taken at Fort Henry.
One large flag taken at Hatteras.
One silk flag taken at Hatteras.
All these flags marked.
G. V. FOX,
Assistant Secretary Navy.
On February 19, the commandant reported the completion of the repairs to the steamer Powell, one of the flotilla steam-boats; also, that the alterations to the Harriet Lane were nearly completed, consisting of the arrangement of the following batteries: One James 100-pound gun forward and two 32-pounders aft.
From a long letter, dated March 7, 1862, from the commandant, addressed to the Assistant Secretary Navy, G. V. Fox, upon the propriety of building a ship large enough to carry twenty 11-inch guns on gun-deck, and two of same caliber on the spar-deck, we extract the following:
We may safely rely on one thing, that the power of a ship of war will always be in proportion to her capacity. That is, that the largest ship can always be made the most powerful in offense as well as defense. The smaller ship can never be made more effective that the larger, unless the means of the latter are misused.
At this time the old United States frigate Merrimac, which the rebels had rescued from the wreck of destruction at Gosport Navy-Yard, renamed her Virginia, and so armored her as to make her invulnerable against any batteries of our Navy then afloat, was exciting a panic of fear along our entire Atlantic coast. The commandant of Washington Navy-Yard, on March 9, 1862, thus reports to the Department the preparations he is making for the defense of the Potomac against this formidable adversary:
Eight canal-boats loaded with stone are about to leave, and eight more will leave during the night. I have sent instructions to the flotilla as to their disposition and use at the three places where the channel has the least depth of water. The only 11-inch gun and 50-pounder which I have will be landed at Giesboro Point before midnight. The platforms will be laid and the guns in position to-morrow morning. The mortars will also be placed; shot are being cast for all of them and a full supply will be ready to-morrow. The Secretary of War has visited the defensive point, and given me authority to take for temporary use the private steamer plying on the river.
If there shall be any use at all for a battery on Giesboro Point, there ought to be twenty of the heaviest guns. Cannon shot of 170 pounds at 50 or 100 yards will be apt to do something.
On March 11, 1862, the commandant addressed the Department as follows:
The paramount importance of heavy iron plating in naval construction is not only decided by recent events (referring to the exploits of the Merrimac), but the urgency of making instant provision for their fabrication is especially plain. I therefore recommend that there be inserted in the naval appropriation bill now pending, an authorization to extend the present means of this yard so as to have the fabrication of iron plates proceed with the least possible delay. In addition to the above I also recommend the construction of a large "ram" for the defense of our principal harbors. Such a harbor as New York, in my opinion, is only defensible by such means. Blocking the channel is out of the question. A ram without masts, with large massive hull, iron-cased, and possessed of great speed, will be effective.
On March 17, 1862, the commandant reports to the Department that a fire had occurred in the temporary roof of the foundry, which was speedily extinguished with no material damage, and expresses the hope that Congress will speedily pass the bill, which includes a small amount for a permanent extension of this work, and which will prevent such accidents in the future.
The exploits of the rebel ram Merrimac and other naval engagements at this early period of our civil war had awakened a desire on the part of the Government to devise the means of testing thoroughly the resistance of iron casings to the impact of shot. Accordingly upon the recommendation of the commandant of the navy-yard, on April 28, 1862, a circular was addressed to establishments throughout the country engaged in the manufacture of iron, as follows:
The Government is prepared to test at the Washington Navy-Yard, D.C., with heavy artillery, the resisting power of iron armor plates. You are therefore invited to send a specimen of your manufacture of such plates for trial.
Then follows instructions as to the required size and thickness of the trial plates and directions to forward the specimens to the Commandant of the Washington Navy-Yard, with a written statement of the mode of manufacture, the locality of the ore, or other information concerning it deemed of value.
On May 9, 1862, the Commandant reported that it was impossible to obtain plating suitable for targets. The manufacturers to whom the above circulars had been sent it appears at that time were too busily engaged in making such plating for the vessels then building under the direction of Ericsson, to respond to the Government's call. The commandant thereupon appeals again to the Department to press the passage of the appropriation then pending for the supply of facilities to manufacture the iron plates at the Washington Navy-Yard.
From official telegrams and letters we are informed that during the month of May, 1862, the yard was constantly engaged in repairing and supplying vessels of the Potomac flotilla and also in sending munitions of war to various points.
On May 26, 1862, the seamen of the yard and those of the steamer Satellite, numbering in all thirty-two men, under charge of Acting-Master Daniels and Mr. Ulrich Dahlgren, son of the commandant, were
sent with the following munitions: four smooth-bore and two rifled howitzers, with 150 rounds for each, and rations for twenty-four hours, also, the ordnance men with the 9-inch-gun carriages and ammunition, to report to the commanding general at Harper's Ferry.
The employés of the yard generally, by this time heartily responded to calls of this character, actively to serve the Government in a general way, on expeditions outside of the navy-yard. But still occasionally a man was found, who, while willing to discharge the duties pertaining to his place at the regular work of the yard, was unwilling to go outside on any active duty whatever. On the occasion of the above expedition the records mention that one of the employés of the yard, Daniel Brooks, was dismissed because he refused to go with the expedition to Harper's Ferry, and said that he was not willing to fight on either side. Whether his objection was to fighting per se or his difficulty arose from his inability to decide upon which side to fight, we are not informed.
On May 30, 1862, Mr. Charles B. Dahlgren, son of the commandant, then acting as assistant engineer on the Octorara, was ordered to report for duty at the Washington Yard.
During the mouth of June, 1862, the steamers Baltimore and Satellite were refitted at the yard, and the steamer Paul Jones was fitted out with the following armament: one 11-inch gun, two 9-inch guns, two 24-pounder howitzers, one rifled 100-pounder, and two rifled 50-pounders.
On July 23, 1862, while still a commander, Dahlgren was appointed Chief of the Bureau of Ordnance. But about twelve days afterwards (August 5) he was promoted to be captain and his commission antedated, so that it may be said that he was virtually of the rank of captain when he entered upon the duties of the Bureau. By order of the Navy Department Captain Andrew A. Harwood then assumed the command of the yard, and also that of the Potomac flotilla, so far as directing their movements.
Immediately on assuming command, the Department called the attention of Commandant Harwood to a law passed at the last session of Congress abolishing all salaries in navy-yards except those provided for by law, as designated in the estimates.
"Such master-workmen as are not estimated for are not therefore to be considered salaried officers, and are to be put on the per diem pay prevailing prior to the circular orders of 2d April and 12th July, 1860, viz: The master-carpenter at $4 per day, the master-laborer at $3, and all others at $3.50 per day. "
The following abstract of communications from the Department received by the commandant during the mouth of July, 1862, we select and present as giving the nature of the activities of the yard and of he routine of duties at this period:
July 1. Directing the accounts of seamen to be sent in the steamer Paul Jones, conveying munitions and stores to Port Royal, S. C.
July 8. Directing the discharge of certain men on the submarine propeller.
July 10. Directing the recruiting of men at the station for one, two, and three years.
July 12. Inclosing a copy of an oath to be taken by every person elected or appointed to office under the Government of the United States.
July 15. Directing the time of each enlisted man to be written in full on shipping articles.
July 25. Announcing the decease of ex-President Martin Van Buren and inclosing an order of the President for the observance of funeral honors.
July 28. Directing that Mrs. Silas Reynolds be given passage on a vessel leaving navy-yard for the North Carolina Sounds to join her husband on board the Philadelphia.
July 30. Directing the examination of certain acting navy officers. Also directing medical stores to be sent to Fortress Monroe.
July 31. Directing that certain instructions in relation to vessels found crossing the Potomac be forwarded to Lieutenant-Commander Samuel Magaw, commanding first division of Potomac flotilla. Also directing that steamer Mt. Washington be equipped and sent to James River to relieve the King Philip.
On August 6, 1862, Governor Hicks, of Maryland, addressed a letter to the Secretary of the Navy, in which he represented that communication was carried on by vessels between the Maryland and Virginia shores at various points on the Potomac, and supplies to a large extent were thus transmitted to the enemy.
This letter was inclosed by Secretary Welles to the commandant, who was instructed to keep the officers of the Flotilla informed in regard to these movements of contrabandists and provide every means in his power to stop effectually the transmission of supplies.
During the month of August the cradle of the railway, which was found to be defective in construction, was corrected and put in order, and the Teaser, Chippewa, Eureka, and Wyandank were repaired, and the last supplied with additional armament. A set of gas retorts was made for the Naval Academy and 90 feet of chain furnished for the Long Bridge.
The records for the month of September, 1862, commence with an account of a patriotic demonstration on the part of the employés of the yard in the form of the following document, addressed to Commandant Harwood:
SIR: We, the master-workmen and heads of departments, have called upon every man in our respective departments, and with but few exceptions all are willing to serve in any capacity whatever, under your particular guidance. We would esteem it a great favor, should this letter meet your approbation, if you will forward the same to the honorable Secretary of the Navy.
The Secretary of Navy replied to this letter, commending most cordially the spirit and promptitude evinced by the same, and expressed the hope and belief that under the guidance of the commandant, they, the workmen of the navy-yard, may prove themselves an effective corps should there be any urgency requiring their service.
The steamer Stepping Stones, the steam-tug Pacific, and the Port Royal were repaired during this month. A lot of crutches were also made at the yard for the use of Army and Navy hospitals. During the month of October, and for the remainder of the year 1862, there was an extraordinary demand upon the yard for shop work and repairs of shipping;
also work for Army. The commandant reported the following vessels and extent of repairs required:
First, the quarters of the little Monitor, so plucky in her encounter with the Merrimac, was found to be almost as inaccessible to air as her sides proved impenetrable to shot, and she was at this time at the yard to have this vital defect remedied, and the wits of the workmen were exercised in trying to devise some means for better ventilation.
Second. State of Georgia. Her boilers to be put in order, requiring eight weeks' labor, working day and night; Sophronia, three weeks' labor, "if she can get on the ways;" Rescue, four days, not including time to get on the ways; Coeur de Leon, eight days; King Philip, extensive repairs; Reliance, two weeks; Yankee, waiting for extensive repairs; Wyandank, four days; Currituck, machinery overhauled; Resolute, machinery overhauled; Martin Vasser, extensive repairs. There were also three new boilers at this time making in the boiler department.
Early in 1862, during the command of Dahlgren, the office of navy-yard inspector was established. All articles furnished the yard and the prices of the same were under his inspection. Commandant Harwood, in a letter to the Department at this time, pronounces the present inspector, Mr. Thayer, strict and conscientious in the performance of his duties; but adds, "nevertheless I am obliged to report that the prices are too high."
The reports from the Potomac flotilla for this month, and indeed for successive months, indicate that the contrabandists, consisting of ardent rebel sympathizers, mercenary Jews, and conscienceless Christians, supported by armed soldiery, were extremely bold and active, and frequently successful in running the blockade. October 14, 1862, the commandant, as commodore of the blockading fleet, reports:
As fast as one channel of contraband trade is closed another is opened. The other day six car loads came from Baltimore with goods directed to planters. The quantity was extraordinary, an entire car load, for instance, to a single individual. It is evident that a large amount of goods is taken in this way to points where it can be run at favorable times into Virginia.
Among the suspected and detected blockade-runners captured about this time was a schooner named Express, belonging to Gonzaga College, at Washington. Thereupon the president of said college, Rev. J. B. O'Hagan, applied officially for its release, upon the ground that if she had been used as a blockade-runner, it was without the knowledge or consent of the college.
The matter being referred to Commodore Harwood, he reported the facts as follows:
This vessel has been plying regularly between Port Tobacco, Md., and Upper Machodoc Creek, taking passengers and recruits.
The name painted on the captured boat is Chapell Point, the name of the vessel claimed by the college is the Express.
I understand that the reverend gentleman who claims the vessel does not deny that she has been employed as a blockade runner. Indeed, she appears to have made herself notorious as such, but that she had never been so used with their consent.
This plea is not good, for the injury to the Government is just as great if she be employed against it, whether the owner is implicated or not.
I recommend, if this vessel be restored at all, it be as a pure act of grace on the part of the Department, and that bonds double her value be required that she shall be kept where she may not be used for contraband purposes.
This letter is indorsed by the Department as follows:
Left to the discretion of Commodore Harwood.
The records for November and December of this year show undiminished activity in the yard. Several steamers were supplied with new boilers and the work of this department was so increased, that, by order of the Secretary of the Navy the wages of its skilled workmen were advanced.
The Secretary of the Navy, in his report of December 1, 1862, refers to the Ordnance Department of Washington Navy-Yard substantially as follows:
The improvements in ordnance at this yard under the skillful officer who has given it his especial attention, and whose abilities in that capacity caused him to be detached from active duty afloat, and whose great service led him to be placed at the head of the Bureau of Ordnance, have elevated the standard of ordnance in the Navy. Our ordnance is greatly improved and improving.
The year 1863 opens with continuous reports of the capture of contraband vessels while attempting to carry supplies to the enemy. On January 19 the schooner Hampton, laden with contraband goods, was captured by the Currituck and brought to the yard, and the captain of the Currituck, reported that he had broken up an extensive establishment for supplying salt for Richmond, at the mouth of Cone River, Virginia. On January 27 the Jacob Bell is reported as arriving at the yard with twenty-three prisoners and a large amount of contraband goods taken from them, consisting of merchandise, coffee, whisky, shot, and $1,304 in bank bills. Commodore Harwood thus reports this capture:
One of these prisoners, W. T. Littlepage, was captured last November and was consigned to the military authorities. Being released he has returned to his business of blockade running. There seems to be no court to try the offense, and the consequent gathering of prisoners here has become very embarrassing to me. Most of these professional runners get off with short confinement and no notice is given me of their release. Two of the men of the present lot of prisoners are notorious sympathizers and contrabandists, and ought not to be let off without giving bonds for future good behavior.
The commodore closes his letter thus:
I am sorry to say that the contraband trade is increasing and I require more vessels.
Captures of greater or less value are also reported at Indian Creek, Barnes Creek, Tubb's Creek, Posey's Bluff, Bagged Point, and Flood Creek, all of Potomac River.
Desertion from the Union Army was at this time frequent, and a vessel was sent to a point on the Potomac, between Quantico and Chopomansic Creeks, where the deserters were in the habit of crossing.
On the 17th of February, 1863, Secretary Welles issued an order requiring
commanding officers of all vessels repairing at the navy-yard to make weekly reports of work required, progress, etc.
Whereupon Captain Harwood addressed a letter to the Secretary inquiring whether this order applied to the small vessels of the flotilla, which were constantly arriving at the yard for every variety of repairs, and adding that in his opinion commanders of such vessels generally were hardly able to make proper reports. The Secretary of the Navy answered that the order included every vessel, large or small. There were at this date six vessels undergoing repairs at the yard, three of them belonging to Acting Rear-Admiral Lee's squadron.
On March 14 the Department ordered that copper plates for the use of Coast Survey be rolled at the navy-yard, the copper to be furnished by the Coast Survey Office. Also that a boat belonging to the Superintendent of Public Printing be altered and repaired, he paying the cost.
On March 28, 1863, Captain Harwood was promoted commodore, or at least he received his commission at this date, which he briefly acknowledges in a letter, as follows:
I have this day the honor to acknowledge the receipt of a commission as commodore in the Navy of the United States.
His squadron consisted of the Potomac flotilla.
The following were the instructions to commanding and other officers of the Potomac flotilla, approved and published by the Department in 1863:
Requisitions.--Commanders of vessels coming to Washington Navy-Yard for repairs, etc., will have their requisitions forwarded to the commandant's office immediately.
That there be no unnecessary delay in getting vessels ready for service is to be kept steadily and permanently in view by the commandant.
Repairs.--Commanding officers of vessels fitting out or repairing at the yard will make a weekly report, giving full particulars of progress making in getting their vessels and engines ready, and present suggestions deemed necessary to facilitate the same.
Expenses.--No commanding officer of any vessel in the flotilla is authorized to incur expenditure of any description in repairs, etc.
Log and Signal Books.--These must be furnished to all the vessels of the flotilla.
Absence.--No commanding officer shall absent himself from his vessel or give leave of absence to any officer under his command, without the permission of the commodore commanding, while at the navy-yard.
When at their stations commanding officers will use their discretion in giving permission to go ashore during the day, but at night all officers will remain on board their respective vessels when not on duty.
Pilots.--Pilots for Potomac flotilla are not to be considered permanent appointments. They are to be engaged when required by the authority of the commodore commanding, and not by the commanding officer of any vessel of the flotilla, and discharged when their services are no longer required.
Pilots serving in the flotilla are entitled to pay of $65 per month and one ration. No allowance for mess bill will be made. Pilots are amenable to all the rules and regulations of the Navy while on board.
Passengers.--No person not connected with the naval service of the United States is to be permitted to take passage in any vessel belonging to the flotilla or to remain on board of them over night.
Change of officers.--Commanding officers are directed to notify the paymaster of the flotilla of all changes that occur in officers and men on board of vessels of the flotilla.
Blockade.--No vessel is to be allowed to import or export merchandise at any part of the country blockaded.
Alexandria is the only port in Virginia open for general traffic within the limits of the command, which includes the Potomac, Rappahannock, and Piankatank rivers. No regard is to be paid to "permits" from any officer except Secretaries Treasury, War, or Navy, authorizing the ingress or egress of vessels. No officer of the Army or Navy is authorized to grant a permit, and no favoritism or license given to any one or more of our countrymen to import and export merchandise.
Passes.--All passes on the Potomac are for one trip only, and all naval passes of any description are to be canceled and returned to the commandant of Washington Navy-Yard. Commanding officers of the guard-vessel at Alexandria and Piney Point will attend to the collection of old passes when masters of vessels call to renew them.
Stations.--No officer of the flotilla will change his appointed station without good cause, which must be immediately reported to the commanding officer of the flotilla.
The Wyandank is the store-ship of the flotilla and must not be employed as a cruiser or dispatch vessel except in case of necessity. Her station will be Wicomico River, unless otherwise ordered by the commanding officer of the flotilla.
Boarding vessels.--In boarding vessels great care must be taken to ascertain that the cargo agrees with the manifest.
Prizes and prize goods.--All officers capturing vessels on the Potomac are required to see that all articles of merchandise or cargo are placed securely under lock and seal, and small articles of value collected together and secured.
All papers of whatever description are to be carefully collected and sealed by the officer making the capture in person, in order that all those articles may be ready for immediate delivery on the arrival of each prize at the navy-yard. The personal baggage and persons of individuals arrested in the act of violating the blockade are to be thoroughly searched for papers. This duty is to be performed in the presence of the commanding officer, who will see that the examination is conducted with propriety.
Small sums of money, wearing-apparel, and mere personal property are to be delivered to the owners and not to be recorded in the certificate of capture. Arms of every kind will be labeled distinctly with the owner's name and delivered at the office of the commandant Washington Navy-Yard. Receipts must be taken in every transfer of either property or prisoners.
No person in the Navy shall take out of a prize, or vessel seized as a prize, any money, plate, goods, or any part of her equipments unless for the better preservation thereof, or necessary for the use of the vessels or armed forces of the United States, before the same shall have been adjudged lawful prize by a competent court, and no person in the Navy shall strip off the clothes, or pillage, or in any manner maltreat persons taken on board a prize, in pain of such punishment as court-martial may adjudge. All officers put in charge of captured vessels or goods sent to the District for adjudication will report themselves at the office of the commandant of navy-yard, with the vessel's papers, certificates of capture, and money or other articles specially committed to their charge. Having received their instructions from the commandant, prize-masters will proceed directly to the District court and make affidavit before the District commissioners. After the vessel's papers have been submitted to the court the prize-master will deliver her up to the marshal only, or some one duly authorized by the court to take charge of her. Meanwhile he will be held strictly responsible for the safe-keeping of both vessel and cargo. A recent case has occurred in which a master's mate in charge of a sutler's vessel seized for having contraband goods on board gave her up upon the representation of the collector of customs at Georgetown. There must be no recurrence of a blunder like this.
Precautions against surprise.--Commanding officers will br on their guard against surprise by the enemy at all times, but especially at night.
The great guns, except rifled guns, howitzers, and small-arms, will be kept loaded, the boarding nettings triced up, and on dark or stormy nights the look-outs will be doubled. Commanding officers will be held responsible for the training and vigilance of their inferior officers and crews.
Fugitive negroes.--Commanding officers of vessels belonging to the flotilla will turn over all colored fugitives, called "contrabands," who may fall into their hands to the officer commanding the nearest military post, and will not send them to the navy-yard unless the Army authorities decline to receive them.
Army officers.--Army officers or soldiers may be taken as passengers on board of the vessels of the flotilla for the purpose of furthering in any way military or naval operations; but no officer or man belonging to the Army is to be taken between Washington and the points occupied by the Army without permission from the Navy Department.
Medical officers of the Potomac flotilla.--Tickets for the admission to the naval hospital of sick or wounded men belonging to the Potomac flotilla are to be addressed to the surgeon who has charge of the hospital, and not to the surgeon of the navy-yard, who is not surgeon of the fleet.
The tickets, like all other official communications, will be sent under cover to the commandant of the navy-yard.
Paymasters of Potomac flotilla.--As far as practicable, in view of the vicissitudes of the service, a regular quarterly payment is to be made to the crews of all vessels in the flotilla of the amounts due them for undrawn rations, and of a small additional sum, not exceeding $10, to those who are out of debt.
The greater portion of the manuscript records of the navy-yard for this year (1863) consists of reports of Commodore Harwood, often repeated, of arrests of blockade-runners, and the capture and seizure, of their boats and contents. Among a lot of arrested men, who were about to land on the Virginia shore, the name of the Rev. J. P. B. Wilmer, formerly a chaplain in the U.S. Navy, is given, who was released, as he claimed that he had been on an errand of mercy to obtain medicine and religious books.
Men were often arrested in small boats endeavoring to run whisky across the Potomac into Alexandria, and turned over to the provost marshal. And even our own legally authorized transports were not very conscientious in strict observance of the law in regard to contraband goods, and, indeed, owners often took great risks of losing their vessel and entire cargo by secretly taking on board and storing away in vessel's hold, forbidden articles not mentioned in their manifest. The following example of many such cases is reported by Commodore Harwood to the Department:
On examination of the sutler schooner Mail by the acting Master Van Boskirk, commanding the guard-vessel at Alexandria, after she had been duly cleared and the cargo inspected by the custom-house, it was discovered that she had on board four hundred and twenty-eight dozen cans of egg-nog, entered in. the manifest as milk, and the cans were labeled "milk-drink." By the terms of the manifest, signed by the, deputy collector at Georgetown, the vessel and all her cargo were to be forfeited to the United States if any other goods were found aboard besides those specified in the manifest. The vessel was therefore seized and turned over to the district court.
On July 20, 1863, one of the transport steamers, running upon the Potomac, got aground on Upper Cedar Point, and while in this condition, was attacked by a company of flying artillery from the Virginia shore. The gun-boats Jacob Bell and the Resolute came to her assistance and dispersed the attacking party, composed of regular Confederate artillery, commanded by Captain Clayton, who had forty mounted riflemen under his command. Forty-one of our seamen were then landed under the command of Acting Master Shultz, who, after chasing away the guard, succeeded in burning a barn containing a large quantity of Confederate corn.
The Department at this period having instructed Commodore Harwood to receive the refugees with great caution, as many reporting themselves as such were really spies, the commodore replies that there is no doubt of the truth of this view, and he sees no remedy for the difficulty except the establishment of a military post to which all refugees may be sent and their true character critically examined before being permitted to go through our lines.
While our troops were in this region all such persons were turned over to them, but in the absence of the army we are compelled to dispose of them in some other way. They are continually crossing the Potomac from Virginia in canoes, sometimes trying to avoid our vessels, oftener coming directly to them with the hope of securing a speedier passage to Washington. They raise flags of truce and when approached beg to be taken off'. The rebel leaders at this time are reported as imposing a general draft, which no doubt increases the number of refugees.
Commodore Harwood inclosed with the above letter a printed slip from a Baltimore paper, July, 1863, as follows:
Refugees from the South at an early hour this morning appeared at the Gilmore House, consisting of seventy-two women and children. They state that they are refugees from the South. Their appearance indicates not only want but absolute destitution. Some of their statements of their sufferings are calculated to touch the hardest heart, and we are glad to say that they have enlisted much sympathy and are being cared for.
In August, 1863, the vessels of the flotilla guarding the mouth of the Rappahannock were the Satellite, Currituck, and Reliance. Two were generally present at a time, in supporting distance, with strict orders to vigilance, and the third on its way to take coal. Lieutenant Commander Magaw, commanding one of the divisions of the flotilla at this time, reported to Commodore Harwood that the enemy had a regiment of cavalry on the northern peninsula, between the Potomac and Rappahannock rivers, numbering four hundred men, divided into companies. Commodore Harwood, in forwarding this report to the Department, writes:
I have reliable information that there are organized bands of contrabandists whose chain of communication extends from the Pawtuxent to the Rappahannock, and this cavalry party no doubt is used to escort them. There is also a company of Hebrews near Lower Cedar Point who have wagons for the conveying of their goods. The wagons are concealed in the woods until a favorable opportunity occurs of running them across the Potomac.
Magaw recommends that in order to capture these goods we must intercept them on the Rappahannock when we miss them on the Potomac, and he requests that his
orders may be so modified as to allow our vessels to ascend the Rappahannock as far as Fort Lowry. He volunteers to accompany any expedition that may go up the river and prudently carry out any instruction received from the Department. I do not feel authorized to sanction any change and therefore refer the matter to the Department.
The Secretary of the Navy, on the receipt of this letter, authorized Commodore Harwood to order up an expedition under Magaw as proposed.
On August 7, 1863, Commodore Harwood informed the Department that he hoped to be able the succeeding week to visit the Potomac flotilla and inspect its condition, and he requested that while embarked he might have authority to hoist the distinctive pennant of commodore. The Department answered favorably.
On August 19 he reported his return, having examined both stations and vessels as far as the mouth of the Piankatank River. He reported the officers to be generally "on the alert," the condition of the vessels and the discipline as good as the nature of the service and the material could lead him to expect.
The commodore in this report refers to a telegraphic warning which he had received from the Department of an anticipated attempt of rebel cavalry and artillery to make a raid at some point to interrupt navigation, and assured the Department that he had taken measures to secure the safe passage of vessels at the points most exposed to attack, and adds the information that he had sent an expedition ashore to learn the strength and position of the enemy. He also informed the Department that he had learned that there was a small force of cavalry at Hempstead, between Acquia Creek and Mathias Point, two miles inland, and that Lieutenant Commander Magaw had sent a volunteer spy to visit this point, who had not returned when he (the commodore) had left Indian Head.
I have instructed the guard-ships to warn all transports going or coming to keep the Maryland shore on board as much as possible.
Unfortunately, although the records show that an attack or offensive movement on the part of the enemy was at this time anticipated, the commodore evidently, and probably the Navy Department also, under-estimated the boldness of the enemy and the nature of their contemplated offensive movement. It was not, as heretofore, to be directed against unarmed transports by hidden batteries from the shore. It was a very brave and, as it eventually proved to be, a very successful attempt, led by an ex-Navy officer, John Taylor Wood,* to capture by boarding and assault, the two gunboats Satellite and Reliance, of the flotilla lying at the mouth of the Rappahannock. As the war records will probably contain an exhaustive history of this bold achievement on the part of the Confederates we will only present here the official statement
*Lieut. Wood was a nephew of Jefferson Davis.
of Acting Ensign Rudolph Sommers, which was forwarded to the Department by Commodore Harwood, September 8, 1863.
On the 23d of August, 1863, between 12 and 1 o'clock a.m., while lying near the mouth of the Rappahannock River, our vessel the Satellite was boarded by two armed boats numbering thirty-five men. Before reaching the vessel they were hailed by the officer of the deck, Acting Master's Mate Foulk, when he received answer, "Commodore Morris. " Mr. Foulk then came forward and calling me, he said we were being boarded. I directed him to call all hands to repel boarders, which he did. Immediately I seized my cutlass and pistol and stepped on deck. My attention was attracted to the noise aft, still thinking the noise was made by our own men. Before I could reach the quarter-deck I received a shot in my neck. The boarders, observing that I was armed, attacked me with their cutlasses, and being closely pressed I freely used my pistol as a slung shot [sic], during which time I received three cuts over my arm, when being overpowered I was placed in my room with a sentry over me. Just previous to this I heard the captain surrender the vessel. We were then taken up the river under guard, arriving at Urbana about 7 o'clock same, morning. Remaining in Urbana three days, I was then paroled and took passage on board U.S.S. Currituck.
Acting Ensign Sommers does not tell how many of our men were on deck at the time of the attack or how, if at all, armed, what the orders for the night were, or any other desirable particular. It is a very unsatisfactory account of the matter. Lieutenant-Commander Magaw, in reporting the affair to Commodore Harwood, writes thus:
There is some mystery attached to the capture of these vessels or else the most disgraceful neglect of duty I have ever heard of.
The following is the list of officers belonging to the Satellite and Reliance, and on board at time of the capture:
|Officers of the Satellite
||Officers of the Reliance
|Acting Master John F. D. Robinson, commander
||Henry Walters, acting ensign, commander
|Acting Ensign Rudolph Sommers, executive
||James McAuley, acting second assistant engineer
|Isaac Johnson, C. McCormic, and John Mill, engineers (acting).
||Alexander Renshaw, acting third assistant engineer
|Wm. H. Foulk, acting master's mate
||Thomas Brown, acting master's mate
|R. H. Stavely, pay steward
||Samuel Lomax, pilot. *
|Jno. F. Henry, surgeon's steward
||Henry L. Magaw, pay steward
These two gun-boats seemed to have been surprised and captured with little resistance on the part of officers or crew, but the records mention one distinguished exception on the part of Jack Frye, boatswain's mate on board the Satellite. Frye stood at his post at the time of the attack and was shot and mortally wounded while attempting to ring the bell to go ahead. Commodore Harwood reported to the Department the death of this seaman in these words:
He was buried at Point Lookout, with the respect due to his long and faithful service and to his reputation as a true and able seaman. Though beyond the reach of censure or praise, I here thought it right to do justice to his memory, and to express my belief that if there had been a few more men of his tried worth on board the Satellite she would not have been captured. Frye was considered the best petty officer in the flotilla.
*Present pilot of navy-yard, but not on board at time of capture; absent on leave.
Fruitless attempts to recapture the gun-boats--Action of Navy Department--Memorial of workmen to Congress--Great pressure of work at the yard--Resolutions and demands of workmen of the yard--Response of the Secretary of the Navy--Revenue officers charged with interfering with Navy regulations and discipline, etc. --Contrabandist prisoners--Joint operation of Army and Navy against blockade runners--Services of the yard offered to the Russian squadron lying at Alexandria--Commodore Harwood ordered to transfer his command to Commodore John B. Montgomery--United States Naval Hospital--Report of Secretary of the Navy concerning Washington navy-yard.
NAVY-YARD DURING CIVIL WAR--Continued.
The following is an official account, in brief, of a fruitless attempt on the part of Commodore Harwood, in co-operation with a land force, to recapture or destroy the gun-boats Satellite and Reliance, which had been taken up the Rappahannock by their captors:
On Sunday, the 30th August, 1863, left the yard in the Ella, and proceeded directly to Wind Mill Point, at the mouth of the Rappahannock. There I found the Sangamon (iron-clad), the U. S. ships Commodore Jones and Commodore Morris, of Acting Rear-Admiral Lee's squadron, and the Currituck, J. Bell, Dragon, and Tulip, of the Potomac flotilla. Got under way in the Sangamon at 6.15 pm (31st August), and steamed up the Rappahannock, accompanied by the following vessels: Dragon, alongside, followed by the Morris and Jacob Bell. At 1.30 a.m. (1st September) passed Fort Lowry, found the battery deserted both of enemy and guns. At 2.15 anchored a short distance above the wharf at Tappahannock, the pilot being of opinion that we could go no higher. Sent the Dragon up to sound. The report being unfavorable to further progress, waited until high water, and sent Lieutenant-Commander Samuel Magaw in the Dragon to sound again. He reported 11½ feet of water. Lightened ship by putting on board the two ferry-boats nearly all the 11 and 15 inch shot. Got under way at 5.30 a.m., and after proceeding about 500 yards got aground. Being unable to get the vessel off before the tide had fallen, brought the Commodore Jones and Commodore Morris alongside and took out 50 tons of coal. At 1.40 p.m. got the Sangamon off. At 3 p.m. steamed down the river and anchored at 7 p.m. at Bowler's Rocks. On Wednesday, September 2, got under way at 5 a.m. Left the Sangamon off Musquito Point, sent her in tow of Commodore Morris to Newport News. At 10 a.m. went on board the Currituck, and gave instructions to Lieutenant-Commander Magaw in reference to the blockade of the river, and also to look out in case our cavalry designed to co-operate with this expedition should come down the peninsula, and to afford them any needed assistance. Returned to the Ella at 2.30, arrived at Point Lookout, and on Thursday, September 3, arrived at the navy-yard.
These gun-boats were never recovered from the enemy. The engines of the Reliance, it is reported, were removed from her and transported to
Richmond and used in a rebel gun-boat. The Navy Department, under the excitement of this disaster, ordered a court of inquiry and issued a general order, en which, among other things, is expressed the determination to hold commanders of squadrons responsible for the efficiency of every part of it.
On the receipt of this order Commodore Harwood addressed the Secretary of the Navy as follows:
Allow me to express the hope that the care exhibited by my general and specific orders, my frequent instructions to the officers of the flotilla both written and verbal, and my general attention to all the details relating to the discipline and efficiency of the flotilla may exonerate me from any neglect of duty as commander of the Potomac flotilla. Before the capture of the gun-boats took place I sent special warning and instruction to be on guard against assault. My instructions were not be obeyed. It is not to be supposed that men who will permit the watch to be below would pay much attention to other orders of detail.
During the month of September, 1863, and indeed throughout the following year, the records are full of appeals for higher wages from every branch of labor in the yard and from every grade. The increased cost of living, arising from the advance of gold, or, to be more accurate, arising from the natural decrease in the purchasing power of our depreciated paper, was severely felt by all salaried persons, as well as by daily laborers.
In view of this fact, we think the following sentence, which we copy from one of the memorials sent in to the Department by the employés of the navy-yard at this time, strikingly illustrates the inborn selfishness of human nature:
Your memorialists, relying on the justice of their cause and the humanity of the distinguished head of the Navy Department, most earnestly ask that the prayer of their memorial may be respected and their wages may be increased proportionate to the increased expense of living, which could not establish a precedent by which advantage could be taken by higher-salaried men.
And the natural tendency to exaggeration when deeply in earnest is clearly evinced in the closing sentence of this memorial, which is, in part, as follows:
Your memorialists, by the dint of necessity and the famished aspect of their once joyous household, as they are wont to return at the usual hours from labor to refreshment, etc.
The Bureau of Yards and Docks in special cases where skilled work was required, sometimes granted an increase of pay, but generally refused to comply with the request of the petitioners, on the grounds that the pay of the employés of the various departments of the yard was established by law, and, secondly, the supply of workmen at the present existing prices is greater than the demand.
Letters from the commandant to the Department indicate a great pressure of work at the yard during the month of October of this year, some of it required to be done in the face of difficulties and danger to life. For example, suitable white gravel required for roofing and other
purposes by the constructing engineer of the yard could not be purchased in market, and it was found necessary to send men for this material to the Virginia side of the Potomac below Alexandria under the protection of a gun-boat and armed guard.
On October 4 the commandant writes to the Department as follows:
"We can not undertake at present to make or repair boilers for any other Department than the Navy without serious injury to the service. The master boiler-maker reports to me that it will take from ten to twelve months to finish the work on hand and attend to incidental repairs. He reports the following work on hand: Two boilers for steamer Bibb, one for steamers Ella, Seymour, and Western World each, five in all, besides a large amount of repair work. "
The buoys and the appliances for the security of the navigation of the Potomac were all under the care of the navy-yard. Unfortunately, to increase the embarrassment, there was great dissatisfaction among the employés of the yard with the existing law fixing the hours and prices of labor.
We find on file an anonymous communication, dated November 25, 1863, addressed to the Department, reading as follows:
We, the workmen of the navy-yard, joiners, plumbers, blacksmiths, sail-makers, ship-carpenters, copper-rolling mill, painters, boiler-makers, machinists, etc., do pledge ourselves to sustain each other in endeavoring to obtain the old system of working hours, in from one hour after sunrise until sunset, and also an advance in wages of 25 per cent. After using all honorable means we will strike and not work until our grievances are redressed. An answer is required by Monday, the 30th instant, before sunset.
On the same evening several hundred of the men employed in the yard met pursuant to a call in the hall of the Anacostia engine-house, near the navy-yard. M. C. Elliott was called to the chair, and Richard Emmons was appointed secretary. After a short speech by William Ready, W. H. Harmon offered a series of resolutions expressive of the desires and demands of the workingmen of the navy-yard, which were adopted nem. con. A committee of ten, representing the various branches of labor, was appointed to lay the resolutions before the Secretary of the Navy and the commandant of the yard.
The following letter of response was addressed to the commandant of the yard, by Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy:
SIR: A committee in behalf of certain persons in the navy-yard has represented that they are suffering certain grievances in regard to the hours of labor and rate of wages established at the yard. As these are matters wholly regulated by law, your particular attention is invited to the act of July 16, 1862, which is in these words:
"The hours of labor and the rate of wages of employés of the navy-yards shall conform as nearly as is consistent with the public interest with those of private establishments in the immediate vicinity of the respective yards, to be determined by the commandants of the navy-yards, subject to the approval and revision of the Secretary of the Navy."
The obvious meaning and intent of this law is, that the laboring men in employ of Government shall be required to labor no more hours than those employed in private establishments in the vicinity, and it is also intended that they shall be paid the same wages. If the law in either of these cases is not complied with you will take care that it be faithfully executed. To exact of the employés more than is required
at private establishments or to pay them less wages would be unjust to them and in derogation of law.
On the other hand, if law-abiding citizens, they can not require or expect that the law will be set aside by you so that their hours of labor shall be less than in private establishments or that the rate of wages shall be higher than is paid to mechanics and laborers not in the employ of the Government. If, however, as it is stated, the Treasury and the War Departments have abbreviated the time of those who are laboring on the public buildings and at the arsenal, it would not be deemed improper to consider that fact in regulating your standard of time, for it is the obvious intention of the law that the time and rates in the navy-yard shall conform to other establishments.
On the 28th of November the commandant informed the Secretary of the Navy that he had ordered the hours of labor at the yard to be changed so as to agree with the reduction made by the War and Treasury Departments, but that at the same time he had instructed the workingmen in the yard that they must look to the justice and reasonableness of their claims, and not to the effect of contributions or threats, to effect their purpose. "They disclaimed any intention of organizing a ‘strike,' or any wish to do so."
A few weeks after the above change of hours, upon the recommendation of the commandant, the Bureau ordered that the wages also of the workmen at the Navy-Yard shall conform to those adopted by the War and Treasury Departments.
On September 15, 1863, Commodore Harwood, in reporting some of the movements of the Potomac flotilla to the Department, writes:
The Department will please observe that the intercourse of the flotilla and the Army of the Potomac has been harmonious.
There are, however, here and there indications in the records that this harmony did not at all times prevail between the Navy flotilla and revenue service of the Treasury Department.
The United States revenue-cutter Hercules, commanded by Captain Dungan, probably for good reason, threw shot at or over the town of Urbana,Va. Complaint was made of this act to the Secretary of the Navy as being the act of the Potomac flotilla.
Then again the revenue officers were charged with interfering with Navy regulations and discipline by transcending their authority in granting privileges to civilians in crossing the Potomac.
The following letter upon this subject, addressed to Commodore Harwood by Acting Vol. Lieut. Ed. Hooker, then in command of the second division of the Potomac flotilla at the mouth of the Rappahannock, was forwarded to Navy Department in the latter part of 1864:
SIR: I am informed from a source which I deem worthy of credence that Lieutenant Baker, commanding revenue steamer Hercules, is in the habit of granting passes to refugees in Maryland, permitting them to visit their friends in Virginia and return again to Maryland. Also permitting them to carry over tea, coffee, sugar, salt, clothing, etc., for the use of persons living in Virginia. I have not yet intercepted any one of these passes. When I do I will forward it to you, etc.
The Secretary of the Navy, upon the receipt of this letter, ordered that the officers of the flotilla be instructed to disregard such passes, and that a copy of Hooker's letter be sent to the Secretary of the Treasury. The Secretary of the Navy further ordered Commodore Harwood to instruct the officers of his command to capture all refugees or other persons attempting to violate the blockade.
This latter order was misrepresented by a Treasury official to the Secretary of the Treasury, who made complaint to the Secretary of the Navy, who thereupon addressed Commodore Harwood as follows:
The honorable Secretary of the Treasury has transmitted to the Department a copy of a letter addressed by the collector of customs at Baltimore to the officer commanding the revenue steamer Reliance, in which it is stated that the officers in command of the vessels of the Potomac flotilla have received orders from Commodore Harwood to seize and send to Washington all revenue steamers found by them in the waters of western Virginia.
Commodore Harwood of course immediately corrected the misapprehension, and the facts were forwarded to the Secretary of the Treasury, but similar complaints, without any foundation, continued from time to time to be made; indeed, the revenue department seemed to be continually falling into mistakes in regard to naval orders involving revenue interests and authority.
At this time captured blockade runners and refugees, black and white, were so crowding Washington and other military points adjacent to Potomac that the Government was embarrassed and military commanders appealed in vain to be relieved of the burden. General Marston, commanding the military post at Point Lookout, requested Lieutenant-Commander Magaw to take charge of certain prisoners captured by a squad of his soldiers, in the act of smuggling goods, and carry them back into Virginia, as they had become a burden to his command.
Magaw declined to comply with the request on the very excellent grounds that he had no authority to transport any person into Virginia without a pass from the Secretaries of the Navy, War, or Treasury.
Immediately following this correspondence, the revenue cutter Reliance came into Point Lookout, and at the request of General Marston, the officer in command of said vessel passed the aforesaid prisoners to the Virginia shore. This act of the revenue officer appears to have excited the ire of Magaw, and he thus addressed his commanding officer, Commodore Harwood, upon the subject:
I beg you will have the duties of the revenue cutters cruising in the limits of your command carefully defined. If they are to cruise for any other purpose than that of enforcing the revenue laws, they should be placed under your direction. I can not see that they have any business in the waters of Virginia, or at any other blockaded ports or coasts.
Commodore Harwood sent this letter to the Department, at the same time mildly expressing his judgment that it was very desirable to have a distinct understanding in order to prevent collision between branches of the service, which should all pull together. In the meanwhile, General
Marston, though temporarily relieved of one squad of prisoners, as we have seen, is soon again overrun by another. The following letter addressed by him to General Martindale, the military governor of Washington, and thence forwarded to Commodore Harwood, to be transmitted to the Navy Department, indicates a very excited state of mind:
On Saturday last fourteen blockade runners, Jews and scoundrels of one set or another, were sent here by your order, with direction for me to land them in Virginia and not allow them to return. How is it supposed I am to do it? The commanders of the gun-boats won't perform this service, for they say they have positive orders from Secretary of the Navy to land nobody in Virginia. I have no vessels at my command, and besides it would not be a very safe operation for an unarmed boat to approach "the sacred soil" in the vicinity of this point. I do wish you would get an order from Secretary Welles to have these fellows shipped off somewhere, for I want to get rid of the rascals.
The following incident appears in the records at this period of our history which will be of general interest.
A prize steamer named Neptune was refitted at the yard, supplied with armament and commissioned as one of the vessels of the Potomac flotilla under the new name of Clyde. One of the enlisted men on board this vessel was James Mulholand, an Englishman. One day in the latter part of August of this year, 1863, a woman came into the yard claiming to be the mother of said sailor, and urgently solicited permission to visit her son, stating among other things that she had lately lost her other only son, etc. She was permitted to go on board the Clyde and finally secured permission for her son to go ashore with her and to be absent from the yard during Sunday and a portion of Monday provided he could procure security for the amount of his indebtedness to the Government. Two of his shipmates generously went security to the amount of $40, and Mulholand and mother went ashore, and the former being supplied with money by his mother, immediately started for Canada, leaving his trusting friends to pay the amount of his indebtedness to the Government. This occurred nearly thirty years ago and this portion of the Queen's dominions in America still continues to be "a city of refuge" for unprincipled scoundrels from the United States fleeing justice. *
November 18, 1863, the commandant of the Navy-Yard, in his capacity as commander of the Potomac flotilla, telegraphed to the Department as follows:
Acting Volunteer Lieut. Ed. Hooker, commanding second division at the month of the Rappahannock, has intelligence of a sloop in Corrotoman Bay about 15 miles above the mouth of the river which is actively engaged in the contraband business, and Lieutenant Hooker wishes permission to go in search of her. The existing laws of the Department forbid the ascent of this river without special permission.
Lieutenant Hooker has also requested that the restriction with regard to the examination of places near the Rappahannock may be removed. He thinks that the restrictions
* Now corrected by treaty, 1889.
cripple the effectiveness of the blockade. Blockade runners take advantage of supposed inactivity of the flotilla to pass goods over Corrotoman Bay across the river. I have great confidence in the judgment and vigilance of Lieutenant Hooker, and recommend that he be permitted to act at his discretion provided he confines his operations to places below Urbana.
A special permission for an expedition up the Rappahannock for object above named was granted by the Department.
On December 1, Commodore Harwood reported to the Department the following joint movement of the Army and Navy upon a point on St. George Island at the mouth of the St. Mary's River:
Eighty-five soldiers, detailed from General Marston's forces, under the command of Adjutant Lawrence, were embarked in an Army tug and on the flotilla steamer Jacob Bell, of Lieutenant Hooker's command, and were landed upon the island.
The Jacob Bell guarded the south side of the island and a guard was also stationed on north side. Thirty rebel deserters and as many blockade runners were captured, taken to Point Lookout, and turned over to the military authorities.
At this period of our civil war our Government was especially desirous of securing and preserving the sympathy and good-will of foreign nations, and we are not surprised to learn that by the advice of Secretary Seward the Navy Department on December 4, 1864, instructed Commodore Harwood to send an officer to the Russian squadron, then lying at Alexandria, offering the conveniences of the Washington Navy-Yard for any repairs or assistance the vessels might require. The Russian admiral accepted of the courtesy, and a tug was accordingly dispatched to bring up some machinery needing repairs.
This kindly act was followed on December 7 by a visit of Secretary Seward, accompanied by the Russian minister at Washington, to the Russian fleet, and supplemented on the 9th of December by a large delegation of Congressmen, who were carried to the fleet by two steamers attached to the navy yard.
Secretary Seward, with characteristic policy, took care that these courtesies should be properly advertised, by securing the privilege of a free passage upon these steamers to all reporters of the press.
On December 3, 1863, Commodore Harwood received orders from the Secretary of the Navy to transfer the command of the navy-yard and station to Commodore J. B. Montgomery on the 20th instant, but on December 9 the above order was countermanded so far as not to take effect until the 31st instant.
On receiving the notice of detachment, in a very lengthy memorial to the Department, Commodore Harwood details and justifies his official acts and closes the document as follows:
Although my integrity has not been called in question either in the order which removes me from the command of this station or in a subsequent interview with yourself, when the motive of my removal was discussed, the censure indirectly implied by removal, and the inference that may be drawn from it that I had been at least neglectful of my duty, are quite sufficient to stimulate me to make this effort to show that neglect of duty and indifference to public interests form no part of my character.
And we are glad at this late date to state that the records prove the truth of this affirmation.
He was an honest, wise, patriotic man, perhaps not of first-class executive ability, but an excellent judge of character and a conscientious gentleman.
He was succeeded on December 31, 1863, by Commodore J. B. Montgomery, who on this day assumed the command of the navy-yard and station.
UNITED STATES NAVAL HOSPITAL.
This institution, located on Pennsylvania avenue, corner of Ninth street, southeast, was founded in 1863, and was assigned by the Navy Department as a portion of the command of the Washington Navy-Yard, April 6, 1869.
It consists of a plain brick building, which was finished, furnished, and completed to its present condition in the years 1865-'66. The grounds connected with the hospital are scanty and insufficient. An increase by purchase, although often recommended, has never been made.
Being a portion of the command of the Washington Navy-Yard, an order from the commandant of said yard will admit any officer or private belonging to the Navy to the hospital for treatment.
In case of death, if not otherwise provided for, the patient is buried at the expense of the Government, with proper religious ceremony, conducted by the chaplain attached to the navy-yard.
The following is the list of medical naval officers who have been in charge from its organization to the present time:
Medical officers on duty and in charge at the Naval Hospital, Washington, D.C., from January, 1863, to the present time.
|Frances M. Gunnell
||Jan. 12, 1863
||Oct. 16, 1865
||F. M. Gunnell
||May 1, 1879
|W. W. Godding
||Oct. 16, 1865
||July 12, 1866
||John Y. Taylor
||May 1, 1879
||June 20, 1883
|Chas. D. Maxwell
||July 12, 1866
||Feb 27, 1869
||J. H. Gaines
||June 20, 1883
||Dec 27 1883
|F. M. Gunnell
||Feb 27, 1869
||Feb. 29, 1872
||A. L. Gibon
||Dec. 27, 1883
||Oct. 1, 1886
||Feb. 29, 1872
||July 1, 1873
||Oct. 1, 1886
||April 14, 1888
|Thos. J. Turner
||July 1, 1873
||Oct. 16, 1873
||A. A. Hoehling
||April 14, 1888
||Oct. 16, 1873
We will close this chapter with the following extracts from the annual report of the Secretary of the Navy for the year 1863, referring to the Washington Navy-Yard:
The Potomac flotilla, under the command of Commodore Harwood, has kept close watch and guard, to intercept and prevent, as far as possible, communications with the rebels, and many captures have been made. But the punishment inflicted on those who attempt to deal with traitors and furnish them supplies has been so light that these petty contrabandists, as well as the more open blockade-runners, have carried on their employment with some degree of impunity.
NAVY-YARD AT WASHINGTON
No object of improvement has been completed at this yard during the past fiscal year. The works which have been in progress, but which have not yet been completed, are dredging channels, wall west side of the yard, machinery and tools, paving repairs, increase of ordnance machinery and shops, and repairs of all kinds. These works have progressed in a satisfactory manner, and the amount expended on them during the year is, for materials, $63,778.73, and for labor, $35,424.36, making an aggregate of $99,203.09. The amount appropriated for gas-works at this yard has not been expended, as the Bureau is awaiting the result of experiments now making with a new and improved apparatus for generating gas.
It is thought best to delay the work upon the derrick until the one at the New York yard is completed and tested.
Extension of copper rolling mill. --The present mill is entirely insufficient to execute the large number of orders upon it at this time. During the past two years it has been necessary to run the machinery almost constantly night and day, and yet the quantity of copper manufactured is not sufficient to meet the demand. It is proposed to extend the mill and erect additional rolls, and this improvement is considered of much importance.
Marine railway in west ship-house. --At this yard the only means of repairing the bottoms of vessels is the marine railway in the east ship-house. This railway has been in constant use, and yet vessels are often obliged to wait for repairs. This delay has caused much embarrassment and injury to the service during the past two years, and it is found imperatively necessary that additional facilities should be provided.
Store-house for provisions and clothing. --Since the breaking out of the rebellion there has been constantly a large number of vessels in the Potomac, and this being the depot for supplies, a large amount must necessarily be kept on hand. The present store-house is insufficient for the storage of all these articles, and many of value are necessarily exposed to the weather or put in insecure places.
Extension of yard.--Applications have been made on several occasions heretofore for the extension of this yard without success. The necessity for its extension is greatly increasing, and since the recent division of the yard into an ordnance and navy-yard proper, and the greatly extended operations in the Ordnance Department, great inconvenience is experienced from want of sufficient space to carry on the various works belonging to the two establishments. There should be room enough in the ordnance yard for all ordnance purposes and for quarters for the ordnance officers. Under existing circumstances, a large portion of the yard proper is cumbered with ordnance materials to such an extent that much valuable property belonging to the yard is exposed.
It is evident that the two yards and their accommodations should be as distinct as their respective jurisdictions are, in order to avoid all unnecessary collision, whether on account of accommodations for officers or points of duty. It is believed that the interests of the service will be greatly promoted by the extension of territory and a division of the two commands, so as to make them separate and distinct--one as a navy-yard for ordinary purposes and the other as an ordnance-yard exclusively devoted to the manufacture of, and preparation of articles coming under the cognizance of the Ordnance Department.
The following extracts are from the official report of Commander H. A. Wise, acting chief of Bureau of Ordnance, 1863:
The introduction of a few rifled guns of heavy caliber into the batteries of ships had already taken place in foreign navies prior to the date of our present, rebellion, and in our own service experiments were being conducted at the Washington Navy-Yard, under the direction of Rear-Admiral Dahlgren, for the purpose of devising a system
of rifled ordnance. Nothing decisive, however, has been accomplished, except with the rifled howitzers, and the experiments were rudely interrupted in the spring of 1861, owing to the difficulty of obtaining well-seasoned timber for gun-carriages. Initiatory steps have been taken to introduce iron gun-carriages in lieu of wood for the heavy gun batteries. For many years anterior to the war the Washington yard was the great depot from which the Navy derived all its supplies of laboratory stores, fuses, boat-howitzers, and shells. Since the rebellion, however, the public necessities compelled the fabrication of howitzers elsewhere. The preparation of military fireworks, fuses, percussion-caps, shrapnel, together with all howitzer ammunition, still remains exclusively with what is known as the "ordnance-yard," and the general character of the work there performed is too well known in all its manifold details to need more than a passing reference. In excellence of workmanship and promptness of execution it still maintains the high reputation acquired under Rear-Admiral Dahlgren, whose views have always been most ably seconded by the officer at present in charge, Lieut. Commander W. Mitchell. It is also worthy of mention that from the laboratory of this yard alone the navy has been supplied with fuses, percussion-caps, and military fire-works, as well as all the small-arm cartridges not purchased from the manufacturers of special arms. While the work of keeping up a constant supply of ordnance stores has been increasing, the experiments with numberless inventions have never been interrupted. So also with the practice from the several batteries at armor-plates and the proof of heavy guns and howitzers.
The number of men at present employed in the ordnance-yards in the various branches of mechanical work and in ordinary labor, is about six hundred.
The capacity of the powder-magazine at this yard is about 500 tons. Expense for past year, $6,000.
Expenditure at the Washington Navy-Yard for the year ending June 30, 1863, coming under the direction of the Ordnance Bureau, is $1,116,380; cost of labor for the same, $546,126.
The cost of labor for the Bureau of Construction for the year ending June 30, 1863, is $290,250.50.
Commodore Montgomery authorized to hoist his broad pennant at the yard--Routine work--Material and labor furnished the Army--Employés of iron-foundry demand increase of pay--General orders--Robbery of the watch-box of the yard--Commandant and master machinist ordered to appear before Senate Naval Committee--Vessels repaired--General Jubal Early threatening an assault upon Washington--Patriotic action of navy employés--Admiral Goldsborough ordered to make experiments at the yard with samples of wire rope--The French corvette Ampheon supplied with materials and aid--Request of commandant in regard to employés--Recruiting at the navy-yard--Instructions in regard to officers while their ships are under repair at the yard--Office of inspector of bills--General order on the subject of "disloyalty"--Schedule of pay.
NAVY-YARD IN 1864.
Commodore Montgomery, who, we have learned, on December 31, 1863, was ordered from the command of the Boston Navy-Yard to relieve Commodore Harwood, had served with distinction both in the war of 1812 and in the Mexican war.
Among his first official letters to the Department we find one making inquiry in regard to a distinguishing flag or pennant to be used at navy-yards under the command of commodores who, as flag-officers, have commanded squadrons on foreign stations, and also as to his authority to fly such a flag at the navy-yard. In reply, the Secretary of the Navy ordered as follows:
You are informed that commodores in command of a shore station who have, by order of the Department, commanded a squadron are authorized to wear a broad pennant, and to hoist it on board the receiving-ship or at some suitable place in the yard. You are therefore authorized to fly a pennant at the yard under your command.
On the 4th January, 1864, the commandant announced to the Department the capture of the schooner Ella, flying the English flag, by the U.S. steamer James Adger, and the arrival of the prize at the yard.
On the following day the executive officer of the yard, Lieut. Commander M. P. Jones, reported an acting master, who commanded the navy-yard tug Leslie, for drunkenness on duty. The commandant immediately suspended the acting master from duty, but in his report to the Department he expressed great regret that he was called upon to make complaint of said acting master, as he had especially distinguished himself by his activity and zeal in the performance of duty in all weathers,
the Leslie being the only tug at the yard and continually employed. The answer from the Department was:
Prefer charges against him, and hold him under close arrest in the yard.
In the meanwhile the executive, Lieutenant-Commander Jones, and Master C. S. Morris, also attached to the yard, made an official appeal to Commodore Montgomery in behalf of the accused officer, and recommended him to the clemency of the Department, on account of his having taken the following pledge, which it appears these two officers had solemnly administered to him in the presence of two seamen as witnesses.
The pledge is of the "old time," stereotyped form, as follows:
Do you solemnly pledge your honor, in presence of these witnesses, that you will neither make, buy, sell, nor use as a beverage any spirituous or malt liquors, wine, or cider?
This document, with the appeal of the officers in his behalf, caused the Secretary of the Navy to restore the accused to duty on probation.
On the 15th January, 1864, an anonymous letter was received at the Navy Department making charges against James Brown, a master smith of the yard, first, for discharging colored men without cause from the anchor shops and putting in their place green "Irishmen"; second, for making bad iron, and, third, for spoiling a gun. The Secretary of the Navy having ordered the commandant to make inquiry in regard to these charges, he reported that they were without foundation, and Lieutenant-Commander Jeffers, of the Ordnance Department, also pronounced the charges false. Nevertheless the Secretary of the Navy ordered that the commandant make more particular and additional inquiries in regard to the work in the forging-shops generally and report as to their character. No further disclosures, however, appear to have been made.
From report of commandant, dated January 27,1864, we are informed that during the year 1863 materials and labor were supplied by navy-yard for the support of the Army, as follows:
Which was paid from moneys left on hand belonging to various appropriations for the Navy.
In the spring of 1864, the commandant reports that every department of the yard is asking for increase of pay; that ninety-five of the helpers in the chain-shop had struck for higher wages. The hours at this time were as follows: "Commence work one hour after sunrise, quit at sundown, allowing one hour for dinner. "
The yard at this time was engaged in constructing the machinery for a new screw steamer, and it was claimed that extra hands were required at increased pay.
The following letter from the employés of the iron-foundry, addressed
to Commodore Montgomery, and forwarded to the Navy Department, is a very earnest one; but it is clear, as the Bureau of Yards and Docks claimed, that under the existing law the Bureau could not initiate an increase, and that therefore all such appeals should have been directed to Congress:
SIR: We, the undersigned, would respectfully call your attention to a subject of vital importance to us in these trying times, viz, an inadequate compensation for our services. With the most rigid economy our wages fail to meet our actual wants. It is claimed that the law requires us to be governed by the pay in shops in our immediate neighborhood. This would do if these shops were all of the same class. But there is not a foundry in or near Washington that is prepared to do the work we are required to do. They have not the facilities for doing it, and therefore have no need to keep in their employ first-rate mechanics.
Moreover, we do not see why private shops ought be the first movers in advancing the wages of workmen rather than Government, for certainly Government ought to be a pattern for all the people, etc.
Two general orders issued by the Department were received at the yard on February 26, 1864. The first forbade the giving or receiving presents or gratuities or votes of thanks from inferiors to superiors, or from the employés to the employers, without previous sanction of the Navy Department.
The second order related to the great damage sustained by the Government from the poor material and bad workmanship displayed in the manufacture of machinery, and urged greater precaution and vigilance on the part of inspectors to prevent the recurrence of the evil in the future.
On the 29th February, 1804, the Department issued a general order to commandants of navy-yards to dismiss from employment in navy-yard or station any employe who has claimed, or who shall hereafter claim, exemption from any draft of men that may be ordered by the President of the United States on the ground of alienage. Early in the following month all the writers of the yard, to the number of twelve, made an appeal to the Secretary of the Navy for an increase of pay. A small increase was allowed, but the request for increased pay for extra time employed, was refused. The messenger of the yard also was allowed an increase of pay equal to that received by Bureau messengers, which was at the time $984 per annum.
On March 12, 1864, the commandant reported to the Department that by the discovery of sundry papers and envelopes found in the water-closets in the marine quarters at the gate-way of the yard, he was assured that some person has been systematically robbing the watch-box of the yard of its contents since July of the previous year, but all efforts to discover the offenders proved fruitless.
During the month of April the regular commission required by law to be appointed bimonthly by the commandant to ascertain the wages
paid by manufacturers of this vicinity to their employés, in order to gauge those of the yard, were busily engaged, and reported as usual, to the dissatisfaction of the employés of the navy-yard; and the commandant reported to the Department that he encountered vexatious difficulties in establishing the monthly wages of the men according to the requirements of the law upon the subject, owing to the impossibility of establishing fair comparison with outside establishments.
The Department responded by ordering the commandant to appear before the Senate Naval Committee, and also to notify Mr. Wilson, master machinist, likewise to appear before said committee, to represent the wants and necessities of the workmen of the yard, and the injustice and unpopularity of the existing law as to wages.
By order of the Secretary of the Navy, on May 13, 1864, military honors were paid to Col. John Harris, deceased, late commander of the marine corps.
During the month of June the revenue steamer Wayanda and the following naval vessels were at the yard for repair: Western World, Wyandank, Ella, Baltimore, Queen, King Philip, all fourth-rate; The Don, prize vessel; Bibb, coast survey; Tiger, revenue cutter.
Stores at this time were forwarded to blockading squadrons and foreign stations by supply ships and chartered vessels, carefully surveyed and reported upon by a competent commission appointed for the purpose. We find in the records a recommendation to the Department from Commodore Montgomery, that when stores are thus forwarded by chartered vessels they be given in charge of a naval officer or reliable special agent, who shall be held accountable for their prompt and safe delivery to proper authority on arrival at their destination. Although we can find no official information of the fact, it is probable that the Navy Department adopted the course of action recommended in such cases.
Up to this period (1864) of our civil war the Confederates had been so much engaged in defending Richmond from assault, that there had been no aggressive movement upon their part, threatening Washington-, since 1861. But in July, 1864, General Grant was so closely investing Petersburgh and Richmond with his replenished armies, that General Lee, with the hope of compelling his antagonist to relax his strong and dangerous grip, determined to make an advance into Maryland, threatening the Capital. Accordingly, a formidable force of infantry, cavalry, and artillery, under the command of General Jubal Early, was ordered to invade Maryland. Moving with great rapidity, foraging upon the country, destroying railroads and other public and private property, he defeated General Lewis Wallace, who, with a greatly inferior force, bravely attempted to arrest his advance at Monocacy, and appeared on July 11 in front of Fort Stevens and other fortifications immediately outside the capital. This unexpected movement of the enemy created great alarm in the city, and the War and Navy Departments nerved themselves to resist the anticipated assault.
The official telegrams which are given below will show in the shortest way the part taken in this crisis by the navy-yard for its own defense, and also that of the city of Washington.
From Navy Department to commandant of Washington Navy-Yard, July 12, 1864: How many men can you spare from the yard to go to the trenches?
Reply of commandant:
If all the workmen return to the yard after dinner, I think I can muster about 800 men for the trenches.
July 12. From Department to commandant:
The men of the yard, who are to be placed under command of Rear-Admiral Goldsborough, are upon his arrival to be transported to the arsenal. You will have steamers and steam up ready for the service.
July 12. From commandant to Navy Department:
The militia of the District having been called out will take many valuable workmen from the navy-yard.
The services of some of these men are very important in some of the branches. I request that such be excused from service in the field.
July 12. From Navy Department to commandant:
All work except that essential to the preservation of vessels and materials of war will be suspended to enable the men to arm themselves for the defense of the yard and the manning of the trenches. All that can be spared will go to the trenches near Fort Lincoln, reserving only a small number to defend the yard from attack. Workmen fabricating arms or ammunition for present service and those repairing gun-boats must be retained at the yard. Rear-Admiral Goldsborough will command the men who go to the trenches, while the force for the defense of the yard will be under your command. Lieutenant Commander Jeffers, chief of ordnance yard, is ordered to report to you for this emergency, and the workmen of the ordnance department will stand upon the same footing as those in the yard.
From commandant to Department, 3.30 p.m., July 12:
Admiral Goldsborough has just left for the arsenal to arm his men. He will be delayed an hour or two. In the meanwhile Commander Parker volunteers to go to the fort with fifty men.
As is well known, the preparations made for the defense of Washington and the reinforcements sent from City Point caused General Early to abandon his design to attempt the capture of the city. But from the above telegrams it is evident that the workmen of the navy-yard who went out to Fort Lincoln under Admiral Goldsborough were ready to give the enemy a warm reception in case of an attack.
And there is also evidence that those reserved inside, under command of Commander Montgomery for the defense of the yard, were prepared to defend it against assault. Cannon were planted on platforms along the walls, and port-holes were cut in the latter, the scars of which still attract the curiosity of strangers and stand as a memorial of the zeal and patriotism of the employés of the navy-yard in times of trial and danger.
General Early, not thinking it best to fight for possession of the Capital,
retired from before the city and recrossed the Potomac, and on the next day, the 13th of July, Rear-Admiral Goldsborough led his volunteer regiment back to the yard to résumé their peaceful occupations.
As an illustration of the strict and exact requirements to which the commandants of navy-yards were then subjected, we present the following letter from Commodore Montgomery, dated July 14, to the Secretary of the Navy:
SIR: Will you instruct me as to whether the workmen of the yard who were sent to the trenches under your order of the 12th inst. shall be continued on the yard roll for pay during their absence from the yard?
When it is remembered that the absence of these men from their regular work was by order of the Secretary of the Navy, and that they laid aside their tools to take guns in their hands to face the enemy on the field of battle, it would seem that there could be but an affirmative reply to this question, and that therefore the commandant might have anticipated it and acted in the matter without instructions. But this distinguished officer had no doubt learned from long experience that it is not wise nor prudent to take official action on one's own responsibility, in anticipation of the approval of the Department, when it is possible before taking action to have in hand its full instructions in regard to the same.
On the 16th of July, 1864, the commandant of the yard was informed that the Department had directed samples of wire rope to be sent to him from the navy-yards at Philadelphia, New York, and Boston, and also samples of hemp rope from the latter place.
When they are received you will notify Admiral Goldsborough of the fact, who is appointed to institute certain experiments with regard to them, in the execution of which yon will afford every facility he may require.
On July 18 the commandant informs the Secretary that--
The commander of the French corvette Amphion, at anchor at this yard, requests the aid of materials and work for slight repairs, which may be afforded without inconvenience or interruption to the usual operations of the yards. I shall not hesitate to comply with his request unless otherwise ordered by the Department.
The reply of the Department was as follows:
The Secretary approves your action in furnishing labor and materials to the French corvette Amphion.
On the 20th instant the commandant requested permission to dispense with one hour's work of employ ‘s of the yard each day in order to devote this extra time to drill the men in military exercises, with the view of preparing them to meet any future emergency which might hereafter arise, to be of assistance in the defense of the Capital and of the yard.
But the Department, by this time, had recovered from the panic excited by the late threatened attack of General Early, and probably thinking that there was little probability that another such an emergency would arise, declined to grant the request.
There was considerable demand for enlistment at the yard by substitute brokers in August, 1864, under the draft then in force. Commander Overton Carr, executive of the yard, was also in command of the naval rendezvous for enlistment, and I. W. Newcomer was the examining surgeon.
Upon complaint of a citizen, named William C. Dodge, the recruiting clerk of the yard, named Farron, was dismissed from the yard, and an apprentice boy, Bute, employed in the office of Commander Carr, was sent to sea for exacting fees of those enlisting substitutes.
There was an order from the Department at this period that the skilled mechanics of the yard were not to be drafted.
On the 16th of August, 1864, the Secretary of the Navy issued instructions to the commandant of the yard that when vessels of the Potomac flotilla were undergoing repairs at the navy-yard "the commandant shall order such officers as deemed requisite, and such as, in his opinion, can be spared from their respective vessels, to such duty as may be required of them in the navy-yard."
On August 19 Commodore Montgomery was granted a leave of absence for three weeks, which period of recreation, he informed the Department, he intended to spend at Newport and Saratoga.
On September 12 the coopers employed at the yard, who had applied for increase of wages, by order of the Secretary were allowed the same pay given to third-class carpenters, which amounted to an increase of 50 cents per day.
Mr. A. P. Thayer was at this time navy agent at the yard. The commandant immediately before his departure on leave, had indorsed favorably an application of the Navy agent for an increase of pay in view of the great importance of his service as "inspector of bills."
On the 23d of September the Secretary of the Navy addressed the commandant, in reply to this application of Mr. Thayer, as follows:
A short time prior to your leave of absence from the yard a letter was forwarded by you from Mr. A. P. Thayer, "inspector of bills," asking that his compensation might be increased. Owing to your absence an answer was deferred. The Department knows no such office as "inspector of bills. " The approval or disapproval of bills is a part of the duty of the commandant of a navy-yard, but at the time when nearly all the contractors abandoned their contracts and supplies were mostly procured at open purchase, the labor of examining prices being necessarily very great, the Department authorized the commandants of the yards to select some one in whom they had confidence to assist them, without, however, relieving them of responsibility. It was not contemplated to create a new office, and it was presumed that some one attached to the commandant's office would be selected.
The chief of the Bureau of Yards and Docks is of the opinion that under existing orders to Navy agents to canvass the market for prices, the labor of supervising bills is not so great as formerly, and that the services of the person who has been detailed for that duty might be dispensed with.
In October of this year repairs were made at the yard to the revenue-cutter Tiger.
On November 3 the employés of the yard were given leave of absence
to go home to their respective States to vote by the following general order of the Secretary of the Navy, addressed to the commandants of navy-yards.
The great interest felt in the approaching election and its great national importance have led the respective States to take extraordinary measures to secure the votes of those citizens who are in the public service. It is not doubted that every mechanic and laboring man in the yard under your command who is entitled to the privilege of voting will desire to attend the polls and discharge his duty. No impediment, therefore, will be placed in the way of his doing so. The necessary absence of any person connected with the yard under your command for the purpose of attending the election will not be permitted to operate to his disadvantage. This, however, will not be construed as authorizing any payment for service when absent which is not prescribed by law.
During our civil war the great dread of having men either in civil or military office of the Government, who were not fully in sympathy with its policy and efforts to crush the rebellion, made the charge of disloyalty a very serious one. Hence, spiteful and malicious persons, it is likely, resorted and sometimes successfully, to this means of getting rid of a rival or punishing an enemy. Two quartermen, Lawrence Tuell and William Pritchett, employed at the yard in November, 1864, were reported to the Department by one Henry C. Keilse as "disloyal." The matter being promptly referred to the commandant of the yard, he replied that he had no personal knowledge of " the political proclivities, conduct, or character" of said men, but that he had made inquiries of the clerk of the yard and the master joiner in regard to them, and respectfully submitted to the Department their respective reports, which were as follows:
REPORT OF CHIEF CLERK SAMUEL CROSS.
I have known Tuell a long time. He has always been a Democrat, and during the administration of President Buchanan acted as secretary to the Jackson Democratic Club of the Sixth Ward, and was especially active in proscribing all those who differed with him politically. Although I have never heard him say anything against the policy of the present administration or against the war, I would pronounce him a copperhead, as all the "Democracy" (as they call themselves) in this section, with few exceptions, are copperheads. I know nothing about Pritchett.
REPORT OF MASTER JOINER J. M. DOWNING.
I pronounce the charges against the two quartermen in my department malicious falsehoods. Keilse has a mania on this subject, and is an habitual falsifier. He at one time went to the Department and preferred charges of disloyalty against the admiral, Joseph Smith. He and his pusillanimous associates would do or say anything to gratify their malice or prejudice. The charges against these men, I repeat, are without a shadow of foundation. I believe them to be without spot or blemish.
P. S. --It is needless for me to inform you of Keilse's misdemeanors while employed in the yard.
As there is no record of any further action in this matter by the Department, it is probable that the master joiner's ardent defense and indorsement, resulted in the retention of the two quartermen.
For the months of December, 1864, and January, 1865, the following schedule of pay, adapted to the various classes of employés in the navy-yard, was approved and adopted:
||31 copper rollers--
|| First class
| First class
|| Second class
| Second class
|| Third class
||13 engineers and firemen--
| First class
|| First class
| Second class
|| Second class
| Third class
|| Third class
| First class
|| First class
| Second class
|| Second class
|| Third class
| First class
|| Fourth class
| Second class
||84 iron founders--
|| First class
| First class
|| Second class
| Second class
|| Third class
| Third class
|| Fourth class
| First class
|| First class
| Second class
|| Second class
| Third class
|| Third class
|| Fourth class
| First class
| Second class
|| First class
|4 coopers, first class
|| Second class
|| Third class
| First class
|| Fourth class
| Second class
| Third class
|| First class
| Fourth class
|| Second class
|76 brass finishers and founders--
||130 yard laborers--
| First class
|| First class
| Second class
|| Second class
| Third class
|| Third class
| Fourth class
|25 camboose and tank--
|| First class
| First class
|| Second class
| Second class
|| Third class
| Third class
|| Fourth class
| Fourth class
|6 copper refiners--
|| First class
| First class
|| Second class
| Second class
|20 coppersmiths and tinsmiths--
||22 horses and carts--
| First class
| Second class
||18 civil engineers
|2 plumbers, first class
|| First class
|| Second class
||21 apprentices with apprentice pay--total
Celebrating Federal victories at the yard--Fall of the Confederacy--Orders for flags for decoration of Navy Department--Assassination of President Lincoln--New and interesting history concerning the assassin and his assistants in crime--Correspondence between the Commandant and Secretary of the Navy--Prisoners delivered to General Hancock--Reduction of expenses at the yard--Instructions in regard to the employment of workmen, etc. --Commodore Montgomery retired, and Commodore William Radford appointed to succeed him.
NAVY-YARD IN 1865.
With the opening of the year 1865 it became evident to friends and foes alike that the Confederate government was exhausted, its armies beaten, and the end of the rebellion at hand. On January 17, by telegraphic order from the Department, a national salute in honor of the glorious success of the Army and Navy at Fort Fisher was fired at the navy-yard. On the 4th of March the enthusiasm was great, and the city was crowded with loyal people who had come from near and afar to witness the re-inauguration of President Lincoln. In anticipation of this great gathering of the people, as a prudential measure the following order, received on the 3d of March from the Department, was strictly carried out by the commandant:
The navy-yard under your command will be closed to-morrow (March 4) and you will permit no visitors to the yard without special authority from yourself. You will detail extra guards for the protection of the magazine and other public property, in view of the great influx of strangers arriving at Washington, D.C.
On April 3, the Secretary of the Navy, by telegram issued an order to all the navy yards, that a national salute be fired "in honor of the capture of Richmond, this morning."
The following telegraphic orders for illuminating and decorating the public buildings were sent to the commandant of the navy-yard, April 13:
When are the carpenters going to be here? Have tins for the candles been prepared?
Send the Department immediately flags and articles on hand for dressing and illuminating the building--an ample gang of carpenters and sufficient light material for strips for one hundred windows.
As we read the telegrams from the Department we can almost in imagination see the public and private buildings and the streets of the joyous city brilliant with bon-fires and illuminations, and hear the rejoicing shouts of the loyal people. But the assassination of Mr. Lincoln, the President of the nation, the honest, democratic, patriotic hero,
on the following evening, put a new phase to the telegrams which we find on the next pages of the official records.
It is not our province to repeat the details of this sad and memorable tragedy.
Like an erratic flash of lightning leaping from a wandering cloud to kill an infant in its cradle, was the blind stroke of the assassin; cruel, objectless, and unaccountable, except as an individual display of the natural wickedness and malice that, from the beginning to the end, lay ever lurking at the heart of the great conspiracy to destroy the integrity of the Federal Union.
But as we are not writing a general history of these times we will upon this subject confine ourselves to certain events connected with the navy-yard at Washington. Indeed, the following official telegrams to and from the navy-yard, in regard to the conspirators, will suffice for our purpose and aim.
April, 15,1865. From the Navy Department to the commandant of Washington Navy-Yard.
If the military authorities arrest the murderer of the President and take him to the navy-yard, put him in a monitor and anchor her out in the stream, with strong guard on vessel, wharf, and in navy-yard. Call on commandant of Marine Corps for guard. Have vessel immediately prepared, ready to receive the criminal at any hour, day or night. He will be heavily ironed and so guarded as to prevent escape or injury to himself.
Telegram received. The order will be carried out.
April 17. From Navy Department to commandant navy-yard:
The War Department wishes special attention called this afternoon to order of Saturday, 15th instant. Keep a boat in constant readiness, and have a guard at the gate, that the prisoner can be safely got on board.
Telegram received. Orders will be obeyed.
April 18. From the commandant to the Navy Department:
Two prisoners, Mike O'Flaherty and Lewis Paine, during the past night have been delivered at this yard, and are confined on board the monitor Saugus, in double irons, with strong guard.
J. B. M.
April 19. From same to same:
A prisoner named Samuel Arnold was delivered at 2.30 a.m. this day and secured as directed.
J. B. M.
April 19. From Navy Department to commandant navy-yard:
Until otherwise ordered permit no persons to see or hold communication with the prisoners confined on gun-boat, without a pass signed jointly by the Secretary of War and Secretary of the Navy. Give this order to officers of vessels without delay.
[Reply of commandant. ]
Telegram in regard to prisoners received and order given to commanding officers guarding them.
J. B. M.
April 20. From commandant to Navy Department:
Have received general orders, dated 15th instant, announcing death of the President, and directing certain honors to be paid, and ordered accordingly.
From same to same, April 21:
Two prisoners, James Andrew Atzerott and Ernest Hartman Ritchie, were delivered by Colonel Ingraham at ten minutes past 11 o'clock last night.
From same to same, April 20.
The following telegraphic order, issued by the Department on the 16th instant, was executed at Washington Navy-Yard this day:
"On Monday, the 20th instant, fire a gun, in honor of the late President, each half-hour, from sunrise to sunset. Keep all flags at half-mast until after the funeral. Officers will wear crape. "
April 23. From Assistant Secretary G. V. Fox to commandant navy-yard:
The Secretary of War wishes Atzerott separated from his brother-in-law, Richter, by putting the former in another vessel unbeknown to the other prisoners; also that a ball and chain be put on each ankle of Payne.
Telegram in regard to Atzerott and Payne received, and order given.
J. M. B.
April 24. From G. V. Fox, Assistant Secretary, to commandant navy-yard:
The Secretary of War requests that the prisoners on board the iron-clads, belonging to his Department, for better security against conversation, shall have a canvas bag put over the head of each and tied around the neck, with a hole for proper breathing and eating, but not seeing, and that Payne be secured to prevent self-destruction.
[Reply of commandant to Assistant Secretary Fox. ]
The hoods were made and have been applied as directed. The prisoners are in all respects entirely secure.
April 24. From commandant to Navy Department:
Ned Spangler, prisoner, was brought from Old Capitol by Captain Petts, on order of Colonel Ingraham, and is confined as directed.
April 27. From commandant to Navy Department.
David C. Harrold, prisoner, and the remains of Wilkes Booth were delivered here at 1.45 this morning. The body of Booth is changing rapidly. What disposition shall be made of it? It is now on board iron-clad Montauk.
Of the same date as this telegram we find the following order, signed by the Secretary of the Navy and the Secretary of War, dated 10 o'clock a.m., April 27, 1865:
To the COMMANDANT Of WASHINGTON N-YARD:
You will permit Surgeon-General Barnes and his assistant, accompanied by Judge Advocate General Holt, Hon. John A. Bingham, Major Eckhert, William G. Moore, clerk of War Department, Col. L. C. Baker, Lieutenant Baker, Lieutenant-Colonel Conger, Charles Dawson, J. L. Smith, Mr. Gardner, photographer, and an assistant, to
go on board the Montauk and see the body of John Wilkes Booth. Immediately after the Surgeon-General has made his autopsy you will have the body placed in a strong box, and deliver it to the charge of Colonel Baker, the box being carefully sealed.
EDWIN M. STANTON,
At 2:45 same day, without the least intimation to the commandant, as will appear by the following letter to the Secretary of the Navy, the body of Booth was suddenly and secretly taken from the Montauk by Colonel Baker, who had brought it:
Commandant's Office, April 26, 1865.
SIR: By telegram yesterday p.m. I reported to the Department the removal of the body of the assassin Booth from the Montauk to the United States Arsenal in this district (as supposed).
I have to report that the removal was made entirely without my knowledge or any reference to me by the party of officers and others commissioned by the War and Navy Departments to visit the iron-clads, and the first intimation given me of the removal was from the executive officer, who accompanied me immediately to the wharf with the view of determining the fact. I called at once for explanation from the marine officer, who reported that the body was so suddenly and unexpectedly removed to the boat which conveyed it away that he had no opportunity of reporting before the work was accomplished.
This unusual transaction deprived me of opportunity of inclosing the body in a box prepared for it, as ordered by the Department. The box is now on board the Montauk and ready for delivery when called for.
J. B. M.
There was no reply to this complaint of the commandant from the Navy Department. Indeed, the records plainly show that the Secretary of War assumed and maintained supreme control of the prisoners even after their delivery to the keeping of Commodore Montgomery. Major-General Augur was ordered to station guard in the navy-yard, near the iron-clads, day and night, "to be stationed and relieved as General Augur may direct. " The Secretary of War seemed to be under a state of great fear that the prisoners would escape or be rescued from his hands. This fear extended even to the body of the dead assassin, and his apparently arbitrary restrictions in regard to it and the enjoinment of secrecy in regard to the disposition of it, were strained to a degree that amounted to disrespect to the commandant and disregard of the authority that had been imposed upon him as custodian of the body of Booth.
In view of the above joint order of the 27th April, given to the commandant by the Secretaries of War and Navy, to allow the Surgeon-General, accompanied by a dozen Army officers and civilians, with a photographer and assistant, to go on board the Montauk, to see the body of Booth, the following two telegrams, addressed to the commandant by the Secretary of the Navy on the same day, seem in spirit unnecessarily severe and even arbitrary. These telegrams are signed by
Gideon Welles, but they were evidently inspired by the Secretary of War.
The first is as follows:
APRIL 27, 1865.
I am informed by the Secretary of War that persons were permitted to visit the ironclads on board of which the prisoners are confined by his and my order. You will explain, if this has been done, and you will allow no persons to visit these vessels who have not the joint order of the Secretary of War and myself until the prisoners are removed from your custody.
The second letter seems to have been written under the influence of some fresh complaints from the War Department. It reads thus:
Send to the Department in the morning copies of all orders which you have received touching the matter of visiting or communicating with the prisoners confined on board the iron-clads; also copies of all orders you have given, and copies of any permits granted by yourself to visitors to go on board these vessels. Report the names of all visitors, male and female, to see the body of the assassin Booth; whether his hair was touched, and what authority parties had for doing these things.
The following is the reply in full of the commandant to the above telegrams:
NAVY-YARD, Washington, D.C., April, 28, 1865.
SIR: In reply to your telegrams, received at a late hour last night, I have to state that after the receipt of the joint written order of the Navy and War Departments at 11.20 a.m. yesterday no passes were given to any person to visit iron-clads having prisoners on board. No previous order had been received from the Department prohibiting the friends of officers on board, or other persons, from visiting them. Your telegram of the 19th instant directed that, until otherwise ordered, no person should be permitted to see or hold communication with the prisoners confined upon the gunboats without a pass signed conjointly by the Secretary of Navy and Secretary of War, which was promptly shown to the commanding officer of the guard and to the commander of the Saugus, the only vessel at that time used for prisoners, with directions strictly to execute the order, and which I am satisfied has been fully enforced. Prior to receipt of joint order of yesterday morning I granted permission by written pass to Storekeeper Lathrope, Master Carpenter Downing and his two quartermen, Master Laborer White, and Superintendent McMalley, of the copper rolling-mill in this yard, to visit the Montauk, and I have no recollection of granting any others. A number of yard employés were also, as required, working on the ports of the turret, the machinery, and boilers of the vessel. It is very possible that other persons, whose names I have not been enabled to obtain, may, by means unknown to me, have visited the Montauk before your written orders were received. Subsequently, I believe, not one was admitted on board of either of the iron-clads in the stream. I have made diligent inquiry in regard to the conduct of visitors on board the Montauk, and inclose the report of Lieut. Commander E. E. Stone, officer commanding the guard, for your information. As I did not visit the iron-clads or see the body of the assassin Booth, I had no opportunity of personally observing occurrences on board. Booth's remains were laid out upon the deck of the Montauk, and, as informed by the captain and officers of the guard, no instructions, other than to let him remain there, were given by the officer who brought the body on board.
Orders not to admit visitors to the yard and on board of the vessels where the prisoners are confined have been issued to the marine officer in charge of the entrance by the main gate, as also to the commanding and marine officers stationed on board of the iron-clads where prisoners are confined. I inclose herewith copies of the orders received and issued touching the matter of visiting and communicating with prisoners
confined on board of the iron-clads, together with the original telegrams, etc., which latter I will thank you to return to me. Also, the only pass given by me which I have been enabled to recover, the others having been destroyed. I would respectfully remark, sir, that in granting the few passes to the Montauk issued by me yesterday they were confined to some of the principal employés of the yard. I am not conscious of having violated any order of the Department issued prior to that received yesterday, all of which referred to the prisoners only, and not to the vessels in which, they are confined.
I have the honor to be, with great respect, your obedient servant,
J. B. MONTGOMERY.
There was no official reply to this letter of the commander from the Navy Department, but we find it placed on file with the following indorsement:
"This letter scarcely answers the telegram of the Department. To grant passes to visit the body was certainly a violation of military usage. "
The report of Lieutenant-Commander E. E. Stone, inclosed by the commandant with his own reply to the Navy Department, is a very sailor-like, clearly expressed epistle.
It is as follows:
NAVY-YARD, Washington, D.C., April 27, 1865.
SIR: It appears from the best information I can gather from the officers of the ship that on the 27th instant, at 1.30 a.m., a tug came alongside, on board of which was Colonel Baker, the detective, with a dead body, said to be that of J. W. Booth, the assassin. Said body was passed on board with the implied understanding that it had been put on board for safe-keeping.
No orders whatever were left with the officer of the guard or the commanding officer of the vessel concerning it, nor was any written authority for so disposing of it shown to any officer of the vessel. It was a most informal and unmilitary proceeding, which should have been nipped in the bud. The only restrictions to viewing the corpse were to strangers and workmen not employed on board of the vessel. Persons known to the officers of the Army and Navy were permitted to come on board. A lady accompanied by two naval officers came on board, to visit the ship, and not to gratify a morbid curiosity.
About 11 o'clock a.m. Surgeon-General Barnes came on board, and, without asking for the captain of the guard or commanding officer of the vessel, or showing any written authority or informing any officer who he was, or seeming to pay the slightest respect to the military etiquette due one officer from another, walks up to the corpse and commences to cut adrift the wrappings. He was stopped by Captain Munroe, with the inquiry as to his authority for so doing. He replied, "by order of the Secretaries of War and of Navy," and afterwards Major Ekert produced the written order. Hair was cut from the corpse by one of the assistants who accompanied Surgeon-General Barnes, and I am led to believe that it was a portion of that hair which some naval officer very foolishly boasted of possessing.
As soon as the order from you to permit no visiting except by passes from the Secretary was received, it was promptly obeyed. The proceeding of taking the body from the ship was of the same informal nature.
I am sorry to say that I was not present at either time, or I should have put a stop to it.
No persons except those duly authorized have been permitted even to see the prisoners now confined on board.
E. E. STONE,
To Commodore J. B. ,
On April 30 the commandant announced his relief from the troublesome charge that had been imposed upon him in the following telegram:
[From commandant to the Secretary of the Navy. ]
In obedience to telegram received at 9 o'clock last night the prisoners in my charge were delivered at 10.30 p.m. to General Hancock, and under military guard they left the yard at 11 o'clock.
Immediately following this announcement the Navy Department ordered the removal of the restrictions that had been established relative to admission to the yard during the occupancy of the prisoners. On May 4, 1865, the following order from the Navy Department was executed at Washington navy-yard:
Have guns fired every half hour from noon until sundown, closing with a national salute, in honor of the late President of the United States, whose funeral is now taking place at Springfield, Ill.
Having detailed from the official records the events of this sad and memorable portion of American history so far as it is connected with the navy-yard, we will now return to the ordinary events and work of the yard.
The civil war being virtually at an end the Navy Department immediately sought to reduce its expenses, and on May 4 Commodore Montgomery, the commandant of Washington navy-yard, received the following instructions from the Secretary of the Navy, Gideon Welles:
It is important that the expenses of the Navy should be reduced to the lowest possible limit, and to do this there must be rigid economy in all matters connected with the navy-yards and naval stations. All superfluous writers and employés of every description attached to the yard must be discharged, and you will put no repairs on vessels of the Navy, except those of Navy proper, without special authority from the Department.
On the 22d June the Navy Department issued the following general order in regard to employment and dismissals at navy-yards:
Representations have been made to the Department of irregular interference and action by the chiefs of departments in navy-yards with the masters in the employment and discharge of workmen. The complaints upon which these representations are founded have reached the Department not directly from the masters, who claim to be aggrieved, but from members of Congress and persons outside the service to whom the masters have gone with their complaints. This practice on the part of the masters is highly improper and reprehensible, and must be corrected. The regulations prescribe the course to be pursued in the employment and discharge of workmen. In carrying these requirements into effect it is important that there should be consultation and harmony between the masters, chiefs, and commandant of the yard. If there is at any time a disagreement, such as can not be reconciled, an appeal with a statement of the facts can be made to the Department for its decision. In no case shall differences of this character be carried to persons outside of the navy-yard for their interference or interposition when appeal can be made directly to the Department, which is responsible for the correct administration of the yards. Yet the Department is frequently embarrassed and annoyed by the presentation of disagreements among officials by persons wholly unconnected with the service. This evil must be discountenanced and discontinued.
In the employment of workmen, the Secretary of the Navy instructed as follows:
Persons who have served in the Army or Navy and been honorably discharged will be preferred. Such persons as relinquished their places in the yard to enter the naval or military service during the war will be permitted, if they wish, to résumé their former positions. You will have forwarded to the Department on the 1st of July a tabular statement of the number of men employed in the different branches, designating in a separate column the number who have served in the Army or Navy, and a similar statement every two months thereafter, with additional columns giving the number of men received or discharged during the two months, designating in each case the number who have been in the service of the country. You will also have kept at the yard a register of applicants for work by persons who have been in service, with a statement of their qualifications, and when additional hands are required in any of the different branches of labor and qualified persons are not selected from the list, you will require the reasons therefor, in writing, from the person making the selection, and if they are not satisfactory you will refuse your approval. When persons who have been in the service are proposed for discharge, the reasons why they are selected for dismissal instead of others must be stated with the recommendation of discharge.
From tabular statement forwarded to the Department in obedience to the above order, of the employés of the yard and of those who have served at different periods during the war, we learn that for the quarter ending September 1, 1865, there had been 1,238 men employed in the yard, and of these 468 had been in Army or Navy service.
On the 24th of July, 1865, in reply to a request from Commodore Montgomery for leave of absence, the Department informed him that leave was granted to him until 1st of September, and then proceeded to add as follows: "The Department informs you that you will be relieved from your present command on 15th of September next. " The date of relief, at the request of the commandant, was afterwards extended to the 30th of September, and then, by order of Department, was further extended to 13th October. On September 26, 1865, Commodore Montgomery addressed the Secretary of the Navy as follows:
I have received your order of 25th instant to transfer to Commodore William Radford, on the 13th of October next, the command of this yard, and regard myself on waiting orders.
On October 13, 1865, Commodore Radford announced his assumption of the command, as follows:
SIR: I have the honor to inform the Department that I have this day relieved Commodore Montgomery in command of this yard and station in obedience to orders of the 25th ultimo.
Court of inquiry called on complaint of B. F. Isherwood, chief of Bureau--Decision of the court--Detail of minor events--Office of inspector of bills discontinued--Unjust complaint made against the officers of the Swatara and Shamokin--Ordnance department reattached to the navy-yard--Recommendations of Secretary Welles for the extension of the yard by the purchase of adjacent property--His utterances in regard to the bearing of the Southern people under defeat--Arrival of John S. Surratt at the yard as prisoner--Detailed summary of the work of the yard for the year 1867--Correspondence between the commandant and chairman of Senate Naval Committee--The most skilled workmen to be employed in the yard, with out regard to Army or Navy service--Commodore Radford promoted to be rear-admiral and appointed to the command of the European squadron--Commodore Charles H. Poor ordered to the command of the yard--Letters and generals orders from Secretary Borie--Heads of departments in the yard not allowed to select their clerks--Other instructions to commandants--Question of authority between the commandant and Surgeon-General--Details of work, etc., in the yard--General circular to navy-yards from Admiral Porter--Orders--Report of work--Correspondence in regard to the employés of the yard--Rear-Admiral Poor ordered to command of North Atlantic Squadron--Rear-Admiral J. A. Dahlgren assumes command of the navy-yard.
Almost the first official act of Commodore Radford we find on record is the calling of a court of inquiry, upon the complaint of B. F. Isherwood, chief of Bureau of Steam Engineering.
It appears that in getting on board the machinery of the U.S.S. Swatara the engines fell, from the parting of the guy tackle. Thereupon Mr. Isherwood reported the accident to the commandant, represented it to be the result of the grossest incapacity and negligence on the part of those who had charge of the work, and recommended their dismissal from the service. Mr. Isherwood further represented that the engines were seriously injured, and although patched at considerable expense would never be as satisfactory as they would have been had the injury not taken place. The burden of this serious complaint fell upon Lieutenant-Commander George Brown, as the work on the occasion of getting in the machinery was under his charge.
The board of investigation, consisting of Commander George B. Balch, Chief Engineer Alexander Henderson, and an acting volunteer lieutenant, reported substantially as follows:
First. No blame to be attached to any person on account of the accident.
Second. The engines of the Swatara are not materially injured by the fall, and so far as strength is concerned the breaks have been securely repaired at a cost not exceeding $35.
Third. There was neither incapacity nor inattention on the part of Lieutenant Commander Brown in the performance of this duty.
Commander Radford continued in command of the Washington Navy Yard until January 20, 1809.
The following history of the work and events of the yard during this period is selected from the official records:
November 6, 1865, the commandant received orders from the Department that no requisitions be made for stores, furniture, or other perishable articles, for vessels under repair at the yard or in ordinary, but only for those ordered to be fitted out for sea.
On December 26, 1865, by order of the Department, the steamer De Soto was repaired and made ready for sea.
On December 29 the commandant, by order of the Department, received Raphael Semmes, "late of the rebel navy," from the commandant of Marine Corps, as a prisoner to be held in safe custody in the navy-yard. Early in the year 1866, in view of the depreciated condition of our currency, by order of the Department the commandant and the officers under his command were required to send in to the Department the cost of rent, light, and fuel, etc., with a view of arranging their pay to meet these extra expenses.
The commandant reported his coal bill during the first six months of his command to amount to $170, and his bill for gas for the same period, as rendered and paid, $68.88.
The following are some of the reports from the subordinate officers of the yard upon this subject.
From Acting Ensign John W. King:
The place in which I live, which is not worthy of the name of "a house," costs $15 per month, exclusive of light and fuel.
Paymaster James Fulton:
I would respectfully state that my salary has not justified me in renting a house. I occupy a very small room, without gas, in an ordinary boarding-house, for which I pay $55 per month. A small house can not be rented for less than $800.
Dr. W. H. Adams, assistant surgeon, reported that in view of his inadequate salary, upon being ordered to Washington navy-yard, he had prudentially left his wife at home with her mother, and was temporarily occupying a small room at the hospital.
On March 14, 1866, the steamer Saco, upon recommendation of Admiral Porter, was ordered to be refitted and arranged for the greater accommodation of officers; also the Marblehead and iron-clad Tonawanda were repaired and ordered to proceed to Annapolis for the use of the Naval Academy.
On April 27, 1866, the commandant of the yard acknowledged the receipt of an order of the Department to discontinue the services of inspector of bills after the 1st proximo, and announced that he had ordered accordingly.
The U.S.S. Swatara, Commander Wm. N. Jeffers commanding, arrived at Washington from the West Indies, May 9, 1866, and immediately
upon her arrival the officers, by order of Secretary of the Navy upon the request of the Secretary of the Treasury, were called to examination upon the charge of having contraband or custom duty goods on board. The author of the charge, or report, does not appear, but that this report was without foundation is evident from the following official reply of Commander Jeffers, addressed to the Secretary of the Navy:
No dutiable goods to my knowledge have been imported in this vessel in violation of the revenue laws. Before coming into port I called the attention of all persons to the regulations on the subject.
Two years or more later the U.S.S. Shamokin, Commander D. L. Braine commanding, on its arrival at the navy-yard from a cruise to the West Indies, was reported in like manner to the Secretary of the Treasury by one signing himself J. C. Ward and claiming to be a sailor attached to said ship. The Secretary of the Treasury inclosed the letter to the Secretary of the Navy, and he sent the letter to the commandant of the navy-yard with instructions to see that there should be no violation of the revenue laws by the officers or other persons on board. The commandant reported that in regard to the charge against the officers of the Shamokin, he could find no such person as Ward on board, and that the statement of the individual in question, that there was any intent on the part of the officers to defraud the revenue, was untrue.
On May 31, 1866, the commandant acknowledged the receipt of a communication from the Navy Department announcing the death of Lieutenant-General Winfield Scott, of the U.S. Army, and directing that military honors be paid to his memory at the navy-yard.
On June 13, by order of Secretary of the Navy, the usual civilities were extended to the late captain-general of Cuba and suite, visiting the yard, accompanied by the Spanish minister.
On June 28 the commandant received orders to withhold the detachments of all officers who have had the custody of public property and have not accounted for the same.
On June 29 the steamer Ascutney, attached to the navy-yard, left for Annapolis with boilers made at the yard for use at that station. The records show that at this period this vessel was actively employed in carrying freight from the navy-yard to Annapolis and other points.
On June 29, by order of Assistant Secretary Faxon, a picture representing the death bed of Lincoln was framed for the Navy Department; also 66 mail bags and three red cedar chests.
On July 2 the steamer Resaca received her machinery manufactured at the navy-yard, and sailed for Portsmouth to receive the spars there prepared for her.
On July 26, 1866, the Department addressed the commandant, desiring to be informed if, in his opinion, under the new distribution of duties lately inaugurated in the yard, it was desirable, to continue the
chief accountant and the existing system of keeping the books. Commodore Radford, in obedience to this official request, appointed Paymaster Boggs, Commander H. K. Davenport, and Civil Engineer Stratton to examine the books in the office of the chief accountant as soon as possible and to report, in writing, the advantages or disadvantages of the system and the necessity, if any, of its continuance.
Messrs. Boggs and Stratton reported that, in their opinion, there was a necessity for the employment of chief accountant or book-keeper in the commandant's office.
The report of Commander Davenport, on the contrary, was to the effect that the office of chief accountant was unnecessary, and could be abolished without detriment to the public service. Commodore Radford inclosed the two reports to the Department, with the statement that he fully concurred with the minority report of Commander Davenport. The minority report of Davenport was approved by the Secretary of the Navy, and the office was discontinued.
It will be remembered that, during Rear-Admiral Dahlgren's attachment to the navy-yard and Ordnance Bureau, the ordnance department of the yard was partially, and finally wholly, detached from the navy-yard proper, and was authorized to report directly to the Bureau of Ordnance. This independent relation continued to be maintained up to the 1st day of September, 1866, when the ordnance establishment was reattached to the navy-yard by the following order, issued by Secretary Welles on August 20, 1866:
On and after the 1st day of September next, the ordnance department of the yard will be attached to the navy-yard, and all orders relative thereto will be addressed to the commandant.
The ordnance department of the yard at this period was under the command of Commander George Brown, U.S. Navy. From an official report of the commandant, dated August 28, we learn that under instruction of Assistant Secretary Fox a wagon belonging to the Navy Department had been thoroughly repaired and painted, and a. new gate made for use of Navy Department. Also that certain furniture belonging to the Navy Department had been repaired and painted at the navy-yard.
On September 18, by order of the Department, the commandant extended the customary honors to the Danish minister, who was on this day visiting the navy-yard.
October 17 an indicator was fitted to the engines of the Hornet, then under repair at the yard.
In the report for this year (1866), Secretary Welles makes no especial reference to the Washington Navy-Yard, except to repeat a recommendation, several times previously made by himself and by former Secretaries, for the extension of the yard by the purchase of additional adjacent property. With our present knowledge of the rapid advancement that Washington has made in wealth and population since
the war, it is evident that if this purchase had been made, which, was so urgently and repeatedly recommended, and the grounds adjacent to the Naval Hospital also purchased as advised by the Bureau of Medicine, the investments would at least have proved highly profitable to the Government pecuniarily.
This earnest, able, and indefatigable Secretary of the Navy, Gideon Welles, at this date of our history, was approaching the close of his successful career as head of the Navy Department.
In taking leave of him, as evidence of his generous feeling toward the defeated South, and with the greatest respect to his memory, we here rewrite a sentence or two of his last official utterances, in which he thus generously refers to the bearing of the Southern people under defeat:
The people lately in insurrection have, peacefully submitted to the result of the war, accepted its legal consequences, acquiesced in the decision against secession, and acknowledged their allegiance to the Constitution and Government of the Union.
* * * Never, perhaps, in the annals of the world, have the inhabitants of such an extent of country, previously accustomed to self-government, so soon and so generally submitted to the results brought upon them of defeat.
* * * There has not been in any quarter resistance to the Federal authority, nor has there been any of the anticipated outbreaks such as in other countries have followed the disbanding of great armies, and which it was apprehended might require not only military but naval force to overcome.
February 18, 1867, Commodore Radford having reported to the Department the arrival of the U.S.S. Swatara at the yard, with John H. Surratt prisoner on board, charged with being an accomplice with other conspirators in the felonious intent to assassinate the President, Mr. Seward, and other members of the cabinet, the Secretary of the Navy ordered as follows:
You will direct the Swatara to anchor in the stream, off the yard, and you will permit no one to go aboard or hold communication with the vessel without a written permit from the Department. Put a sufficient guard on the wharf to enforce this order.
You will also direct the officers and men of the Swatara to give no information concerning the prisoner, his conduct, or conversation during the voyage, or upon any other matter pertaining to him.
The following day, February 19, 1867, by order of the Department, the restrictions imposed by the Secretary of the Navy in regard to communication with the ship was removed, and the commandant was instructed to deliver the prisoner, Surratt, to the United States marshal. From communication addressed by the commandant to the Department, we learn that the prisoner, Surratt, was delivered to D. S. Gooding, United States marshal, on the evening of February 19, 1867.
During the early portion of the year 1867, the following summary of the work of the yard we gather from list of dispatches received at the Department from the commandant:
The Swatara and the revenue steamer Northerner were repaired and the Tallapoosa put out of commission. Fifty letter-bags and new sets on halyards made for the use of the Navy Department.
The Stonewall was prepared for sea, and after her armament and stores were placed on board she was turned over to the State Department, under the command of Commander George Brown, as an appointed agent of the same. During the months of September and October, 1867, the Maumee was under repair at the yard. The Maumee was ordered to be prepared for a three years' cruise in the East Indies, and Lieutenant-Commander William H. Cushing was assigned to the command of the ship. The commandant of the yard reported to the Department the continued absence of Lieutenant-Commander Cushing, although his leave of absence had expired several days, and closed his report in these words:
He sent me telegram that he had been detained, but would be here this morning, but as yet has not reported.
This complaint is indorsed by the, Secretary of the Navy in substance as follows:
Call Cushing's attention to this when he comes back, and tell him not to let it occur again.
We are informed that the Maumee, under the command of Lieutenant Commander Cushing, sailed from the yard for the East India Squadron on November 1, 1867.
During the months of October and November of this year the Nipsic was put out of commission and laid up at the yard. The Penobscot was repaired and fitted out for one year's sea service. Repairs were made on the Saco and the coast steamer Bibb, and the Gettysburg was put in commission.
The Gettysburg, Penobscot, and Saco, fitted out and refurnished, sailed for Norfolk, December 21, 1867.
On December 12, of this year, the Secretary of the Navy ordered that all moneys arising from auction sales be paid over to the paymaster of the yard.
On the 15th the Hon. James W. Grimes, chairman of the United States Senate Committee on Naval Affairs, addressed a letter to Commander Radford informing him that by a resolution of the Senate committee he had been instructed to request information of the commandant upon the following points:
First. What changes have been made in the organization of the various civil departments of the yard under your command within the past year?
Second. Has the efficiency of the yard been promoted by such changes?
Third. Have the changes increased or diminished the expenses of the maintenance of the yard?
Fourth. What legislation, if any, in your opinion, is necessary to promote the efficiency of the system in force and secure a more judicious and economical expenditure of the public money in the navy-yards of the country?
A copy of this letter was inclosed to the Navy Department by the commandant, also the commandant's reply, which is as follows:
SIR: In reply to your letter, etc., I have the honor to state:
First. The changes made in the organization of the various civil departments of
the navy-yard within the past year commenced on the 1st of July, 1867, and consisted in giving to each bureau the immediate control of its own affairs, dividing these stores, which were all in charge of a naval store-keeper, into four stores, and apportioning the various work-shops to different bureaus instead of having all of them under the Bureau of Yards and Docks as formerly.
Second. It can not be stated positively whether the efficiency of the yard has been promoted by the change, as it has been of so short duration, but up to this time it seems to have worked very well.
Third. The expenses of the maintenance of the yard, so far, has not been materially increased. The clerical force heretofore used having been necessarily distributed among the various departments of the yard. A slight increase has been occasioned by the more elaborate manner of keeping accounts under the new system.
Fourth. I know of no legislation necessary to promote the efficiency of the system in force, except that the master workmen in charge of shops be made warrant officers, to hold their positions during good behavior.
This would tend, in my opinion, to ward off improper influences which might operate to control them in the selection of mechanics, who are no doubt often employed regardless of skill or ability.
The following general order was issued by the Navy Department January 22, 1868:
The force in the navy-yards being now largely reduced, there is greater necessity than heretofore for employing only the most skilled workmen, and accordingly so much of previous orders as requiring preferences to be given to those who have served in the Army and Navy is rescinded. Hereafter the reports will state the number employed in each branch at the commencement of the time for which the report is made, the number discharged, the number taken on, and the number remaining upon the rolls.
From official reports made under this order there were on the 1st of February, 1868, on the rolls at Washington Navy-Yard as employés--
|In Steam Engineering
|Provisions and Clothing
|Construction and Repair
|Yards and Docks
During the summer of this year considerable repairs were made upon the U.S.S. Mercury.
The following general order was issued by the Navy Department July 30, 1868:
Congress having directed that the duties of master laborer and master sail-maker shall not hereafter be discharged by naval officers, those attached to the yard under your command for these duties have this day been placed on waiting orders. A foreman of sail-makers only will hereafter be necessary. Laborers will be employed as wanted by and under the supervision of the Department needing them, with the necessary quartermen.
On November 12, 1868, the commandant of Washington Navy-Yard, who had previously been promoted to the rank of rear-admiral, received orders to prepare to take the command of the European squadron. His acknowledgment of the order of the Department is as follows:
SIR: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of orders to hold myself in readiness to command the European squadron, and to leave the United States in the U.S.S. Franklin between the middle of January and the 1st of February next.
Upon his own application Commodore C. H. Poor was ordered as the relief of Rear-Admiral Radford, and assumed command of the yard on the 20th January, 1869.
A few days before his resignation of the command of the yard Rear-Admiral Radford reported to the Department as follows:
Mr. S. J. Wailes has this day, December 14, tendered to me his resignation of the office of inspector and receiver of this yard, to take effect immediately.
Among the first of the official acts of Commodore Poor we find the detail of six seamen to act as pall-bearers at the funeral of Paymaster William B. Winslow. This most amiable, faithful, and efficient officer was the son of Rear-Admiral J. A. Winslow, who died four years later. Young Winslow, who died in the prime of life, was buried from the Church of the Epiphany on the 27th of February, 1869.
On the 11th March, 1869, Secretary A. E. Borie, the successor of Gideon Welles, issued the following general order in regard to government of navy-yards:
The executive officer of a yard ranks next to the commandant. All orders will be executed through him, and he will be held responsible for their execution, as well as for any order he may give not authorized by the commandant.
All persons attached to the navy-yard are directed to obey implicitly all the orders of the executive officer, who, under the direction of the commandant, will have immediate supervision of everything in the yard and all work going on. The control hitherto given to naval constructors over the hauling of ships and their care is hereby revoked. These duties devolve on the executive officer, who will exercise general supervision over the docking of ships. This order does not, however, relieve the constructor from the usual inspection he is required to make of ships laid up, or from the recommendations for their preservation, or from the superintendence he is to give in docking ships.
The following order was issued March 15, 1869:
Commandants of navy-yards will hereafter be allowed to take leave of absence not exceeding one week without applying to the Department.
On the 17th March the commandant acknowledged the receipt of a Department letter, dated March 13, directing that all orders from Vice-Admiral D. D. Porter be recognized as from the Secretary of the Navy.
This letter was followed on the 20th of March by a general order from
the Navy Department, signed by Vice-Admiral David D. Porter, directing the commandants of navy-yards--
To make proper inquiry and investigation and report what removals of employés were made at the yard under your command for political expression of opinion during the last administration--that is, for four years past.
Your report will embrace the names and positions of the employés, the dates of their removal, and any charges that were made against them.
In reply Rear-Admiral Poor informed the Department that after careful investigation he did not find that any removals had been made for the causes above assigned at Washington Navy-Yard.
The following general orders were also issued by the Navy Department:
Commandants of navy-yards will not sign any requisitions for engineers' tools, materials, etc., until said requisitions are approved by the Bureau.
Watchmen at navy-yards are required to wear a uniform at all times when on duty. Uniform to be navy cap, blue coat, and blue trousers.
Officers in charge of equipment, in addition to their regular duties will perform those of inspector of tools, materials, and supplies.
On March 24 the commandant was directed by the Department to appoint four line officers, to constitute a permanent board, to examine into such charges as may be brought against foremen and laborers of the yard.
On April 6, 1869, the commandant was informed by the Navy Department that hereafter the U.S.Naval Hospital will be considered as attached to the command of the Washington Navy-Yard.
On the 10th of April, 1869, the following general letter of instruction was addressed by the Secretary of the Navy to the commandants of navy-yards:
When the Secretary of the Navy communicates with the commander of a navy-yard or station, such communication is supposed to be strictly confidential. In issuing orders in conformity with any directions received from the Department by the commandant, it is not deemed essential that the name of the Secretary should be used in a public dispatch signed by the commandant for the furtherance of the order in question. It is deemed advisable that the commandant should conform to the spirit of the Secretary's order by issuing an order of his own without unnecessary publicity, or he should give subordinates the necessary verbal instructions by which the wishes of the Department could be carried out.
The clerks in the commandant's department should be persons in whom the strictest confidence can be reposed.
If confidential communications addressed by the Secretary of the Navy to commandants of yards should find their way into the public prints, I suggest that some effort should be made to find out the persons guilty of furnishing the information. If one of the clerks should be so imprudent he could not be considered a reliable person, and should therefore be removed.
These hints are thrown out merely to avoid anything of the kind in the future, and, thus prevent a repetition of the past. Whatever may be the opinions or wishes of the Secretary of the Navy, he can scarcely desire to have them published in the newspapers to be unfairly criticised by persons hostile to the administration. It is therefore
desirable that in issuing orders the commandant of a station should exercise great discretion in his manner of doing so, and however indifferent he may be in compromising himself, he should be very particular about compromising those above him in authority.
On April 24, 1809, the commandant acknowledged the receipt of the following general circular letter addressed by the Navy Department to the commandants of navy-yards and stations:
The commandants of yards and stations are instructed that hereafter no clerks or writers will be appointed within the limits of their command without their approval nor shall any be removed without the same.
Clerks who have served the Government faithfully and for a term of years will not he removed except for cause.
When complaint is brought against a clerk by any officer in any department the commandant will appoint a board, to consist of not less than three line officers, to investigate the case and report to the commandant.
The commandant will take such action in the case as may seem proper from the evidence taken, reporting such action, with all facts in the case, to the Department. It does not seem proper that a person who has passed his life-time in the service or who is serving it faithfully and bears an honest character, should be removed without cause by any officer in any department merely because of private reasons or a desire to put somebody else in his place.
The Government is never so well served as when persons holding these subordinate positions feel that they are identified with the service, and it would be very unfortunate for the Navy if the revolution which takes place at the change of every administration should extend to it. The Department desires, whenever it is possible to be done, that good men shall hold their positions so long as they perform their duty. It is not to be supposed that good men can be procured under any other system.
The Department therefore enjoins upon the commandants of yards and stations to prevent the displacement by their subordinate officers of all clerks, writers, and other persons without cause.
The paymaster may desire to employ a particular clerk for his own private reasons, and may say that he can not be responsible for his accounts unless he is allowed to employ the person whom he prefers. Of all this the commandant must be the judge. Before any clerk is appointed to a position he must undergo a rigid examination as to his moral, mental, and professional qualifications.
On April 15, 1869, a gig-boat, navy built, 24 feet in length, built at the yard by order of the Department, was furnished the commandant of Washington Arsenal.
On April 21, by direction of the Secretary of the Navy, the ordnance museum was ordered to be completed and the stores in ordnance removed.
April 20 the iron-clad Saugus was fitted out and announced to be ready for officers and crew. She was, however, ordered to Norfolk for further repairs.
On April 30 the commandant of Washington Navy-yard addressed the chief of Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, P. J. Harwitz, calling his attention to three communications which had been sent directly to the surgeon of the Naval Hospital from the Surgeon-General's office, and expressing the opinion that this act conflicted with the general order of the Department which requires the orders or directions given
by the different bureaus to be communicated to the commandants of the yards.
This letter of the commandant was referred by the Surgeon-General to the Secretary of the Navy, with the complaint that it was discourteous, and moreover uncalled for by any official action of his own. Thereupon the Secretary of the Navy addressed the commandant upon the subject as follows:
When there are deviations from the general order of the Department by the Bureaus, you should report the fact to the Department, but you are not authorized to address the chief of a bureau on the subject. The Surgeon-General claims that the communications to which you allude are not "orders" or "directions," but simply acknowledgments and letters of courtesy, and not such as conflict with general order. Courtesy is as essential in corresponding with the bureaus as with the Department itself.
A. E. BORIE.
The commandant made this handsome reply to this official rebuke:
I regret to find that my letter to the Bureau of Medicine, etc., was susceptible of the construction of being discourteous. Although may misinterpret the true meaning and intent of a regulation and there by may overestimate my authority, I am as anxious to be courteous in my communications to the chiefs of bureaus as I could possibly be desirous of their extending the same consideration in their communications to this office, and in this instance I beg to be allowed to disclaim any intentional discourtesy.
C. H. POOR.
The following general circular pertaining to the duties of medical officers at Washington was received at Washington Navy-Yard from the Navy Department, May 5, 1869:
The medical officer detailed by the Department to attend officers of the Navy and Marine Corps in Washington will be required to attend those off duty as well as those on duty.
All officers of the Navy pay a certain sum monthly towards a hospital fund, and are not only entitled to attendance but to medicines. Hereafter, where officers require medical assistance from the medical officers at any station, it will be promptly given. The, law does not recognize the family of an officer, and it is presumed by some that the medical officer may decline to attend them. In the opinion of the Department this is a mistake in the law, and there would be evidently an impropriety in any medical officer declining to give such assistance. It would show an absence of those courtesies and amenities which should exist between the several grades of the service. The Department feels quite certain that its wishes in regard to this matter need only to be expressed to be complied with.
A. E. BORIE,
On May 6, 1869, Mr. G. R. Wilson, superintendent of machinery in the navy-yard, by order of the Department inclosed to Chief Engineer Wm H. Shock a statement of the estimated cost of constructing nine broadside gun-carriages of composition and wrought iron, respectively. Mr. Wilson reported that with proper machinery and efficient labor the gun-carriages could be constructed for $200 each, and also called attention to the 11-inch pivot carriage constructed some two years previous, and at that time in the battery at the Navy-Yard, as capable of
being made with slight alterations the most efficient gun-carriage in the service.
Mr. Wilson expressed a desire to have these alterations made, arid also called attention to the numerous wooden, gun-carriages stored in the yard, which could prove of no use to Government on account of rot and shrinkage.
On May 7, by instruction of the Department, the commandant appointed a board of officers, consisting of Capt. P. H. Patterson, Chief Engineer W. H. Shock, Commander K. R. Breese, Assistant Engineer W. H. King, and Assistant Naval Constructor J. N. Easby, to examine the iron-clads Casco and Chimo, and report whether these vessels can be advantageously used, and if it is to the interest of the service to retain them. Also to report the price they should bring if sold at public auction.
The board reported that said vessels could not be advantageously used by the Government, and that it would not be to its interest to retain them. In view of a daily average expenditure of $8 for watchmen and labor, in addition to the cost of tallow, oil, and paint expended for their preservation, the board recommended that the vessels be sold for whatever they will bring as old metal.
On May 10, 1869, the commandant received orders from the Department to alter the Nina into a torpedo-boat, and to exclude strangers from the same during the work of repair and change.
The torpedo to be attached to the Nina was the invention of Mr. Asa Weeks. The work was all under the direction of Chief Engineer Shock.
On May 11 the commandant addressed the Navy Department in regard to a paper presented to him by a committee of three, consisting of J. L. Hayghe, joiner's department; Richard Emmons, ordnance department; James R. Street, machinist.
The paper was signed by three hundred and ten names of employés in the different departments of the yard, with the following printed caption.
The undersigned, workmen in the Washington Navy-Yard, respectfully protest against the reduction of pay to the standard of eight-tenths, as at present prescribed by the Secretary of the Navy for eight hours' labor, and accept it with the understanding that we shall hereafter demand the balance, two-tenths, due us at the hands of Congress or through the Court of Claims.
This claim of the workmen, although, perhaps, legally just, was never allowed. They employed Mr. Benjamin Butler as counsel, and spent much money in prosecuting the claim, but were finally non-suited by means of the "statute of limitation."
On May 21, 1869, the following general circular was issued to all the navy-yards. It was issued by Admiral Porter for the Secretary of the Navy:
Representations have been made to the Department that persons appointed foremen at the Portsmouth Navy-Yard, New Hampshire, during Mr. Johnson's administration
have been taking on men who are known to be hostile to the present administration. You are required by the Department to inquire into this matter and see that no such persons are employed. Preference in all cases should be given to those who have belonged to the Union party. Do not trust foremen. Let the executive officer keep a strict surveillance over this matter, and see if we can not have our yards filled with good and loyal men. You will please send a list of foremen, with statement of the character of each, and state whether they are competent, also whether they are good Union men and support the present administration.
In obedience to this circular Rear-Admiral Poor sent in a list of the foremen employed at Washington Navy-Yard, with a statement of their standing, and added:
Care will be taken not to allow men to be taken on the rolls who are known to be hostile to the administration.
May 25, 1869, the commandant received orders from the Department directing that all work ordered by Chief Engineer Isherwood be stopped until the Department is further informed what the work is. The commandant in reply informed the Department that the only work ordered by Chief Engineer Isherwood was the constructing of two steam-launch engines and boilers, and that the work had been suspended as ordered.
On June 2, 1869, a board, appointed at the navy yard to examine the Shamokin and give estimate of her value, reported her value to be $46,500.
On June 12 the commandant acknowledges the receipt of two circular letters from the Department. The first forbade the removal of any one, from the yard solely for political opinion; and the second ordered that no foreign officer nor civilian be allowed to examine inventions, guns, small-arms, etc., at the navy-yard.
July 1, 1869, the following report of Chief Engineer Loring of the work of the yard in the Steam Engineering Department, was transmitted to the Navy Department by the commandant:
Repair of machinery of the tugs Nina and Triana.
Screw propellers for steamers Nipsic and Cambridge.
Preparing the Nina for torpedo arrangement.
Repair of ship machinery.
New machinery for copper rolling-mill.
Testing Davidge's plan for supplying vessels with cool atmosphere.
Removing pilot-house from monitor, Montauk.
Repair of shears for cutting chain-links.
Enlarging the gun-ports of the monitor Castor.
No. 1 launch engine.
Repair of blower-engine in forge shop.
Removing machinery from the monitors, Hero and Orion.
Melting old iron, cutting rigging screws.
Destroying printing-plates of Treasury Department.
Preservation of machinery of vessels in ordinary.
Castings for a chain-cleaning machine.
Castings for No. 6 galleys
Columns for cases in ordnance museum.
Castings for yard-drains and water-pipes.
During the mouth of July the following orders were received by the commandant from the Department:
July 6. That a launch be prepared for receiving the engines and boilers now under construction.
July 12. An order directing the workmen of the yard to be employed extra hours to complete the shafts of the Colorado, and to repair the Tallapoosa and get her ready for sea.
July 21. An order directing the repair of the U.S.S. Phlox.
July 24. An order that the Nipsic be repaired with as little delay as possible.
July 27. An order for the manufacture of letter-bags for the Department.
Although, as we have seen, at this time the Navy Department had delegated to the commandant the authority to appoint employés in the yard, it always reserved the right, not only to recommend individual applicants, but also not infrequently to order their names to be put on the rolls. On July 8 the commandant received from Secretary Robeson the following order in regard to an applicant who claimed a place in the yard for her son on the grounds that she was the widow of a naval officer:
Admiral Poor will please have the case examined, and if her son's claims are stronger than others, and he is qualified, give him the first vacancy that occurs.
The commandant's reply is as follows:
I have the honor to state that this applicant has one son already employed in the yard, and that, I am informed, she has consoled herself for the loss of her late consort by marrying a second husband. It is also understood that she receives a pension of $20 per mouth from the Government. For these reasons her claims are not considered as strong as some other applicants.
On the 20th of July the mayor of the city of Washington addressed the Secretary of the Navy, reiterating the chronic complaint of the scarcity of Potomac water supply, and its excessive consumption at the navy-yard. The Department at once called the attention of the commandant to this matter, urging the necessity of exercising the greatest possible economy in the use of water, without detriment to the service.
The reply of the commandant was to the effect that the expenditure of water in the yard is confined to legitimate and necessary "governmental purposes," and in the private quarters of the officers was used in no greater proportion than in families outside the yard; that the statement of the mayor that a large stream of water was kept constantly flowing in connection with a condensing engine was not true.
Strict orders bad been given from time to time not to waste the Aqueduct water, and I believe have been as strictly obeyed as the interests of the Government will permit.
The commandant closes his letter by expressing the conviction that the mayor, in attributing the deficiency of water to "navy yard waste," was innocently guilty of the fallacy of what logicians call "non causa pro causa," and that the true cause of the deficiency of the water supply in the city was the small size of the water conductors.
On July 28 the Department issued the following order in regard to the government of navy-yards:
Navy-yards in their organization assimilate to ships of war. The senior line officer present is always in command, and the fact that an officer is on ordnance equipment or navigation duty at the yard does not prohibit him from taking command, if his rank entitles him to it, in the absence of the commandant.
On July 23, 1869, Rear-Admiral Poor was ordered by the Navy Department to hold himself in readiness to assume the command of the North Atlantic Squadron, and was at the same time informed that he would be detached from the command of the yard and relieved by Rear-Admiral Dahlgren on August 10 following.
Accordingly we find the following official document from Admiral Dahlgren, dated August 10, 1869:
To Hon. G. M. ROBESON,
Secretary of the Navy:
SIR: I beg leave to inform the Department that in compliance with its directions I took command of the navy-yard to-day.
J. H. DAHLGREN.
In view of his previous service as commandant of Washington Navy-Yard it may well be supposed that Admiral Dahlgren entered for the second time upon the duties of the office with knowledge of details and experience that especially qualified him for the work.
Work at the yard--Deepening of the Eastern Branch recommended--Orders and reports--The Periwinkle fitted out for the Arctic Expedition--Repairs at Naval Hospital made without the approval of the commandant--Death of commandant--Succeeded by Rear-Admiral Melancthon Smith--Detail of events and work at the yard--Inspector and weigher appointed--Theft of revolvers from the ordnance department--The Kansas fitted out for surveying purposes under the command of Captain Shufeldt--Rear-Admiral Smith succeeded by Rear-Admiral L. M. Goldsborough--Brief notes of information concerning work of the yard under Goldsborough--Admiral Goldsborough ordered to the command of the Asiatic squadron; asks to be excused, and is refused and detached--Commodore Thomas H. Patterson succeeds to the command--Vessels at the yard--Disciplinary orders from the inspector of ordnance--The commandant successfully protests against the abolishment of the marine post at the navy-yard--Commodore Febiger succeeds to the command of the yard--Orders, reports, and brief notes of events of the yard--Great mortality of rear-admirals, etc.
During the first three mouths that succeeded Admiral Dahlgren's assumption of the command of Washington Navy-Yard, there are the usual reports to the Department of the work of repairs of vessels, which was constantly in progress.
The Phlox, fully repaired, was launched on the 26th of August. We find, also, a report dated September, indicating great activity during this month in the engineering department.
On October 2 we find the acknowledgment of the receipt of an order from the Department directing that "hereafter blocks will be manufactured only at the New York and Boston yards."
On the 6th a letter from the commandant assuring the Department that means will be taken to fit the Kansas and Nipsic for sea as rapidly as possible.
On the 12th of October the commandant addressed a letter to the Department calling its attention to the condition of the channel leading to the yard from the Potomac, and proposing to straighten said channel and deepen it, both of which he thought could be done by engineering the current in a manner to make it perform the work itself. "Such an operation," he writes, "is not to be classed with the ordinary improvement of rivers and harbors, but is to be considered as an absolute necessity for a national purpose, and could be accomplished with a moderate appropriation. " But these earnest recommendations of the commandant shared the fate of many others made, before and since, of similar character to Congress by heads of bureaus and by the Secretary of the Navy. Congress failed to respond favorably with suitable appropriations,
and consequently the river continued more and more to fill up its tortuous and shallow channel, and, as we shall learn in the further progress of this history, to render navigation more and more difficult.
On November 30 the commandant was authorized by the Department to establish a gang of men to be known as the "Ordinary" to be under the immediate control of the executive department of the yard. An officer detailed from among the lieutenant commanders or lieutenants attached to the yard and living within it to have charge of the gang under the direction of the commandant.
The duties to be assigned the gang were:
Taking care of all vessels not in commission, moving and securing, masting and dismantling, stowing and discharging vessels when not in commission.
Also to be used as an auxiliary of the fire department and for such other duties as may be proper and for which men in the regular departments are not available.
Their pay was to be $20 per month and one ration or its equivalent in money.
On December 31, by order of the Department, the pay of ordinary men was advanced to $30 per month and one ration.
The following brief items of history we give in the order in which they appear in the commandant's reports:
On December 3 the Nipsic was reported ready for sea, and on the following day, in attempting to go out, went aground on the flats of the arsenal. After being lighted of her coal she was hauled off and anchored off Alexandria.
The Nina and steam tug Mercury were also repaired during this month.
On December 28 the commandant received an order from the Department appointing Arthur S. Nesmith a receiver at the yard, at a compensation of $4 per day.
On January 7, 1870, one of the steam cutter engines, built at the yard, was sent to Philadelphia to be placed in the cutter of the U. S. S. Congress.
On January 11 the Department ordered that--
Hereafter no articles sold at auction in the navy-yard will be permitted to pass out the gate without a written permit from the executive officer. And no property will be passed out of the yard at any time without the pass being carefully examined by the marine officer in charge of the public gate.
The commandant will designate what officers are to be authorized to sign a pass.
January 13, the commandant reported that thirty-nine apprentices were employed at the yard.
January 19, 1870, certain alterations were ordered by the Department to be made in the U.S.S. Tallapoosa and the work on steam-launches was to be continued at the yard, the expenditure not to exceed $2,800.
On March 17, reported the Triana as prepared for sea.
On May 5, commandant informed the Department that the Periwinkle which had been ordered early in the year to be fitted up for the Arctic expedition, was completed in every respect so far as the work authorized
to be done at the Washington yard was concerned, and on June 10, following, he announced that--
The Periwinkle, fourth rate, C. F. Hall, commanding, left the yard this day at 12.25 p.m. for the Arctic seas.
The Polaris, which was to have sailed early this morning, owing to unfavorable tide, is still here but will leave this p.m.
The men for this expedition were enlisted at the Washington yard.
On July 8, the commandant called the attention of the Department to the expenditure of $1,000 for repairs at the naval hospital, without requisition on the yard and without his approval of contract or of present bill.
On July 11, as if desiring to take a short leave of absence from duty, Admiral Dahlgren wrote to the Department as follows:
It has been the custom of this yard, and I believe of other yards, for the commandant to grant leave of absence not exceeding one week.
I beg leave to inquire if this is understood as extending to the commandant himself, when he may wish to leave the city for not more than one week?
Before an answer could be returned to this letter from the Department the commandant had received a final leave from the supreme arbiter, to whose authority we must all bow.
The death of this conscientious gentleman and distinguished naval officer is thus announced to the Department by Captain Patterson, the executive and commanding officer pro tem on July 12, 1870:
The painful duty devolves upon me of reporting the sudden death of Rear-Admiral John A. Dahlgren, who departed this life this morning about 8 ½ o'clock, it is supposed of disease of the heart.
I have directed the ensign and distinguishing flag to be half-masted.
Captain Patterson, the executive, by official order issued July 13, held temporary command of the yard until July 19, when by order of the Department Rear-Admiral Melancton Smith assumed the regular command.
The first official action of Rear-Admiral Smith that we find on record is an earnest but unsuccessful letter to the Department in behalf of C. E. Simmons, whom he wished to retain as captain of the watch. The commandant had received an order from the Secretary of the Navy "to appoint J. H. Logan captain of the watch, in place of Simmons discharged."
In reply the commandant wrote as follows:
No order has been received to discharge Mr. Simmons, unless your communication is to be considered as dismissing him. In that case I beg leave to express the hope that the order of discharge may be revoked, as he has performed his duties in this yard to the entire satisfaction of every officer in it. The police force under his direction is admirably organized, and his system of visiting posts at night is calculated to make all under him vigilant.
With this letter the commandant forwarded the service record of Simmons, a very creditable one, showing efficient and gallant service
during the civil war, also letters of recommendation from several rear-admirals and other officers.
But notwithstanding this earnest appeal the Department replied:
In relation to C. E. Simmons, late captain of the watch at the yard under your command, the language of the order should have been "hereby discharged. "
The efficiency of the force is quite likely referable to the other captain of the watch, who is an old soldier and an intelligent man.
On May 22, 1870, in reply to a recommendation of the commandant that "an officer be appointed under Equipment Bureau as weigher at the navy-yard, who shall give bonds, and who can not receive the 20 per cent, from the vender allowed under the law approved July 14, 1870," the Department authorized the commandant to appoint an officer of the Navy on duty at the yard to act as inspector and weigher of coal until a permanent appointment should be made, requiring him to give the bonds specified in act of July 11, 1870.
On the 26th of August, the commandant informed the Department that he had appointed Commander James H. Gillis, U.S. Navy, and inclosed the bonds required by law.
But on the 29th of August, the Secretary of the Navy informed the commandant that upon further consideration he is of the opinion that he is constrained by law to make the inspector of fuel a special appointment, and that it can not be held by an officer of the Navy, and that he had therefore "this day appointed Mr. Robert Abert to that position."
During this month some excitement was created in the yard by the loss of thirty-one Colt's revolvers, stolen from the ordnance department of the yard. A board appointed to investigate the matter reported that "there is no evidence to show when or by whom the revolvers were taken. " The revolvers were stored in the shell-house, which was not adequately secured by locks and fastenings.
On September 26, the commandant having reported the Kansas in commission and prepared for sea, he was ordered to send her on a trial-trip down the Potomac and into Chesapeake Bay, and make a report of the same to the Department, after which to transfer the vessel to Capt. R. N. Shufeldt, for duty on the expedition preparing under his command for the survey of Tehuantepec route.
On 14th of October, 1870, by order of the Department, Rear-Admiral Smith, being on the eve of retirement from active service, was detached from the Washington Navy-Yard, and Rear-Admiral Goldsborough on the same day succeeded to the command.
During the three years this officer held command of the yard the records within our reach give but a meager account.
The following brief notes of information, running through the three years of his command, we gather from official sources.
November 5, 1870, the Frolic being ordered by the Department to be repaired and put in commission, a board of survey reported the probable
cost of labor and material to put her in good condition for sea service to be $11,326, and the time required three mouths.
On November 12, the commandant received an order from the Department to fit out with dispatch the Nipsic, for service in the Darien expedition. This vessel is reported repaired and ready to leave the yard on the 17th of December.
The only item of interest we find recorded during the remainder of this year is the following circular from the Navy Department, which was received at the yard December 30:
Official correspondence between subordinate officers of a navy-yard or station is contrary alike to usage and propriety.
Instances have come to the knowledge of the Department in which subordinate officers in a navy-yard have made official reports in writing to other subordinates, and such reports have been forwarded to the commandant.
These irregular proceedings can only lead to divided responsibilities.
They are unmilitary and tending to confusion, and are therefore prohibited.
During the years of 1871 and 1872 the official records are as follows:
August 31, 1871, the commandant acknowledges an order from the Department that the foreman of the sailmakers' department be hereafter rated at $5 per day.
On December 7 the commandant reported the arrival of the steamer Phlox for repairs, and on May 2 of the following year that "she is finished and ready for sea."
On January 3, 1872, the commandant received an order from the Department to reduce the number of watchmen in the yard to fifteen; and on June 25 following to have fifty letter-bags made for the Department.
October 4, 1872, the commandant, by order of the Department, received at the yard Capt. Henry E. Alvord, special Indian commissioner, accompanied by a delegation of Indians. The commandant was instructed to escort them through the shops, exhibit the machinery, parade the marines, and take any other steps he might think proper to make the visit of these "sons of the woods" interesting and instructive.
On August 13, 1873, Rear-Admiral Goldsborough addressed the Department as follows:
I have the honor to acknowledge your communication of yesterday ordering me to hold myself in readiness for the command of the Asiatic Station, leaving San Francisco per steamer by the 1st of November next.
Special reasons of a personal nature, with which it is not necessary for me to trouble the Department, compel me to urgently request that these orders be revoked.
In a time of profound peace, an officer of my rank on the Navy list, and of my advanced time of life, who has already commanded squadrons, may, I trust, prefer such a request without any violation of propriety or being misunderstood, and under a confident hope that it will be promptly gratified.
To this letter the Secretary of the Navy replied:
I beg to say that with a settled policy of placing only rear-admirals in command abroad, and limited by law to the active list, the Department requires, in view of
the short tenure of many officers of that rank, the active services of all rear-admirals who remain on the list for any considerable time, in order to provide properly for the command and relief of the six stations.
As the Asiatic is considered by far the most independent and important of the stations, it is proper that it should be commanded by a rear-admiral of large naval experience and great personal intelligence.
You have therefore been selected for this responsible command in full view of and with direct reference to your rank, services, and experience, and the Department having now at command no proper officer of adequate rank and duration of services who with like claims for consideration has not been in command at sea more recently than yourself, is unable to relieve you from the duty designated on any grounds of public propriety or interest.
If the Department is to decide on any grounds personal to yourself it is obviously necessary that these should be stated that they may be considered.
There is no further correspondence upon this subject between Admiral Goldsborough and the Department on record, but we are officially informed, that on the 1st day of the following October, Admiral Goldsborough was detached from duty at the navy-yard, and on the 6th of the same month was retired from active service.
Commodore Thomas H. Patterson was appointed to succeed Admiral Goldsborough, and assumed command of the navy-yard on October 1, 1873. At this period there seems to be a renewal of activity in certain departments of the yard.
On October 10, the commandant reported the Fortune "on the ways" undergoing repair. She was fitted out and reported ready for sea December 6, following.
On 26th of October, by authority of the Department, shot-beds made at the yard were shipped to Philadelphia by the Triana for Government use.
November 25 the commandant was instructed by the Department that, in order the better to prepare the vessels undergoing repair at the yard with all dispatch, work must not be suspended on Thanksgiving day.
The reports of the commandant show, as might be expected, that the difficulties encountered by vessels in getting out of the "Eastern Branch" are continually increasing; ships are frequently reported as aground at different points, and requiring assistance to get afloat.
There is little of interest on record for the year of 1874. A large number of pages in the captain's books of this date are taken up in detailing a controversy between the commandant and a master joiner, Mr. Childs, in regard to the reduction of the force of employés, in view of an almost exhausted appropriation fund.
The Department, upon appeal, finally sustained the master joiner, who desired to retain a half dozen of selected skilled mechanics on the rolls on full time, leaving the others dependent upon such time as the allowance-money permitted.
The following is the official monthly report of vessels at the yard May 31, 1873:
||Rescue, ready for sea.
|Gettysburg, in commission.
||Piscataqua, in ordinary; can be made ready for sea in fifteen days.