Star of the West,
an unarmed merchant vessel secretly carrying federal troops and supplies to FortSumter, is fired upon by South Carolinaartillery at the entrance to Charlestonharbor.
9 January–1 February
Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texasfollow South Carolina’s lead and secede from the Union.
Kansasis admitted as a state with a constitution prohibiting slavery.
Delegates from six
seceded states meet in Montgomery, Alabama, to form a government and
elect Jefferson Davis President of the Confederate States of America.
Lincoln is inaugurated as the sixteenth President of the United States.
FortSumter fired on by Confederate batteries -- the conflict
Lincoln declares a state of insurrection and calls for 75,000 volunteers to enlist
for three months of service.
17 April–20 May
Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee, and North Carolinasecede from the Union.
issued proclamation declaring blockade of Southern ports from South Carolina to Texas.
Norfolk Navy Yard
partially destroyed to prevent Yard facilities from falling into Confederate
hands and abandoned by Union forces.
Brutus de Villeroi
sails his submarine down the Delaware and is captured by the Philadelphia Harbor Police. The
vessel is 33’ long and 4’ wide. De Villeroi claimed he was delivering the
boat to the U.S. Navy, which disavowed any knowledge of such an appointment.
Colonel Robert E. Lee resigns his commission in the United
Commander S. C.
Rowan, USS Pawnee, demanded the
surrender of Alexandria, Virginia; an amphibious expedition departed Washington Navy
Yard and occupied the town.
Richmond becomes the capital of the Confederacy.
Captain Samuel F.
DuPont, Commandant Philadelphia Navy Yard, orders an examination of de
Columbia Herald (Tennessee) published article by Reverend Franklin Smith seeking
assistance from Southern citizens to build submarines. Smith is credited with at
least one of the submarines built in Mobileduring the war.
U.S. Navy receives
reports of New Orleans submarine—possibly built by the same team that later
designed CSS Manassas. Sub supposedly had a three-man crew, was 19’6”
long and 6’ high. The vessel was scuttled, probably around the time of the
city’s capture by Admiral Farragut on 25 April 1863.
on de Villeroi’s submarine is favorable, and the vessel is recommended to the
forces win a victory at the First Battle of Manassas. Confederate General Thomas
J. Jackson earns the nickname “Stonewall” for his tenacity in the battle.
made first ascent in a balloon from Union ship Fanny
at Hampton Roads to observe Confederate batteries on Sewell's Point, Virginia.
Union forces under
Flag Officer S. H. Stringham and General B. F. Butler received the unconditional
surrender of Confederate-held FortsHatteras and Clark, closing Pamlico Sound.
three-man submarine nearing completion at the Tredegar Iron Works in Richmond, Virginia. A demonstration of the vessel is witnessed by Mrs.
Baker, a Union spy, who reports its existence—and effectiveness—to Allan
Pinkerton and the Navy. The vessel was reported to have a three-man crew, one of
whom was a diver who exited the craft through an airlock in order to attach a
timed bomb to the hull of the target ship. Air was supplied via a rubber hose
suspended on the surface by a camouflaged sea green float.
forces, including CSS Curlew, Raleigh, and Junaluska,
under Flag Officer W. F. Lynch, CSN, captured steamer Fanny (later CSS Fanny) in
Pamlico Sound with Union troops on board.
attempt to sink an enemy ship with a submarine in the Civil War. The target was
the U.S.S. Minnesota in Hampton Roads.
The submarine became fouled in grappling hanging from the jib boom (which its
occupants thought was the anchor cable). The vessel escaped. A 12 October
newspaper report based upon testimony from a Confederate deserter claims the
submarine employed an India rubber suction plate to attach to its target and
plant a timed bomb.
Private Charles P.
Leavitt, a 19 year old in the 2nd Virginia Infantry, sends a letter
to Confederate Secretary of War Judah Benjamin describing a “submarine
battery” with a steam engine, CO2 scrubber using lime-impregnated
water, and cannon (rather than a spar torpedo). By December of 1861, Private
Leavitt is “on government work”—a common Confederate euphemism for secret
submarine—either the model reported on by Mrs. Baker or a larger version—is
sunk in the James River while attempting to attack Union vessels. Navy pickets
patrolling the river spotted the camouflaged float and sliced the rubber hose to
contracts with the shipyard of Neafle & Levy in Philadelphia for construction of “one iron submarine.” Total
cost is to be under $14,000.
B. McClellan, thirty-four, replaces the aging Winfield Scott as general-in-chief
of the Union armies.
attacks by Confederate “infernal machines,” Captain William Smith of the
U.S.S. Congress, devises the first
anti-submarine nets of chains suspended from spars lashed in a frame around his
Naval forces under
Flag Officer S. F. Du Pont captured Port Royal Sound. Also, USS Tyler, Commander H. Walke, and USS Lexington, Commander R. Stembel,
supported 3,000 Union troops under General Grant at the Battle of Belmont,
Missouri. and engaged Confederate batteries along the Mississippi River
USS SanJacinto, Captain C.
Wilkes, stopped British mail steamer Trent
in Old Bahama Channel and removed Confederate Commissioners James Mason and John
Slidell, inflaming tensions between the United States and Great Britain.
Thaddeus Lowe made
balloon observation of Confederate forces from Balloon-Boat G. W. Parke Curtis anchored in Potomac River.
(later CSS Atlanta), purchased in England, entered Savannah laden with military supplies -- the first ship to run
the blockade solely on Confederate government account.
Keel of the
Crescent City Project boat is laid in New Orleans; the vessel is to be 34’ long with a three-man crew.
legislation providing for the Medal of Honor.
E. Biedermann posts
a letter to Gideon Welles describing a submarine built by a Wilhelm Bauer six
years previous and used in the Crimean War. His note includes detailed
schematics of the vessel, “Diable Marin”
(“Sea Devil”), which supposedly made 134 successful dives. Bauer was an
experienced submariner, having built his first vessel “Brandtaucher”
(“Incendiary Diver”) in 1850 and using it to force blockading Danish ships
away from the German harbor of Kiel.
A letter sent to
the Confederate Army examiner of the defenses of Mobile complains that “someone” had boarded and sunk in the MobileRiver an operational submarine several days earlier.
Submarine possibly built by Reverend Smith.
Flag Officer D. G.
Farragut appointed to command the Western Gulf Blockading Squadron -- the
beginning of the New Orleans campaign.
river gunboats commissioned, thus providing the naval force for the overwhelming
combined operations in the West.
Naval forces under
Flag Officer A. H. Foote captured strategic FortHenry on the Tennessee River. This breached the Confederate line and opened the
floodgates for the flow of Union power deep into the South.
expedition under Flag Officer L. M. Goldsborough and Brigadier General A. E.
Burnside captured Roanoke Island -- the key to Albemarle Sound.
Flag Officer A. H. Foote attacked FortDonelson on the Cumberland River; in conjunction with troops under Brigadier General U.
S. Grant. The fort capitulated on 16 February.
drowns in Savannah harbor when the submarine that he and Charlie Carroll
sinks during diving trials.
28 February / 1 March
artillery placed atop the bluffs overlooking the Tennessee River open fire on the gunboats Tyler and Lexington, beginning the First Battle of Pittsburg Landing.
After dislodging the guns and seeing the single company of Confederates retreat,
sailors and soldiers aboard the ships land after an hour’s bombardment to
destroy what appears to be a fortified house. They are surprised by the rest of
the Rebel regiment, the 18thLouisiana, and make a fighting withdrawal to the
gunboats—after demolishing the house. Both sides claim victory; losses are
light—but the Union Navy is now alert to the value of Pittsburg Landing and
patrols it so that no further work can be done on the defenses. Sherman elects to land there two weeks later, setting the
stage for the April 6/7 Battle of Shiloh.
Forces under Flag
Officer S. F. Du Pont took Fernandina, Florida, and the surrounding area in joint operations against
the South Atlantic coast.
Ironclad ram CSS Virginia,
Captain F. Buchanan, destroyed wooden blockading ships USS Cumberland
and Congress in Hampton Roads and
leaves USS Minnesota aground. De
Villeroi’s submarine was to have been ready to meet this attack, but
construction delays and wrangling over the expense of the chemicals the inventor
claimed were needed for the air scrubbing system delayed its launch.
USS Monitor, Lieutenant J. L. Worden, engaged CSS Virginia, Lieutenant C. ap R. Jones, in the historic first battle of
Baxter Watson and
William McClintock launch Pioneer I in
assault under Commander S. C. Rowan and Brigadier General A. E. Burnside
captured New Bern, North Carolina -- "an immense depot of army fixtures and
manufactures, of shot and shell...''
CSS Nashville, Lieutenant R. B. Pegram, ran the blockade out of Beaufort, North Carolina -- a "Bull Run of the Navy.''
inventors are granted the first letter of marque for an underwater vessel by the
Patent Office grants a patent for a submarine to Reverend Franklin Smith of Tennessee. While the U.S. Patent Office granted only a single
patent for a submarine in the course of the war, this was one of four granted by
the Southern office. One will go to James Patton of Virginia in October, and the other two were issued to William
USS Carondelet, Commander H. Walke, dashed past Confederate batteries on
Island No. 10 to support Major General J. Pope's assault on the island.
the peninsula southeast of Richmond, McClellan leads the Army of
the Potomac toward Yorktown, Virginia, beginning the Peninsular
USS Lexington and USS Tyler under Lieutenants Shirk and Gwin (resp.) drive back the final
Confederate assault at Pittsburg Landing, Tennessee, saving Ulysses S. Grant’s army to finish the battle
the following day. After-action reports from both sides, as well as later
testimony from interviewers, credit the Navy with saving the Union Army from
Island No. 10,
vital to the Confederate defense of the upper Mississippi, surrendered to the naval forces of Flag Officer A. H.
is adopted in the Confederacy.
Flag Officer D. G.
Farragut's fleet ran past Forts Jackson and St. Philip, destroyed the defending
Confederate flotilla below New Orleans, and, next day, compelled the surrender of the South's
largest and wealthiest city.
is scuttled in the Mississippi as its inventors—Watson and McClintock, now joined by
Horace Hunley—flee New Orleans when Farragut’s fleet moves in. The submarine is
discovered, raised, and examined by the U.S. Navy. Reports indicate that Pioneer
may have claimed the lives of two crew members while being tested on LakePonchartrain.
Villeroi’s submarine is launched in Philadelphia harbor. The vessel is 40’ long, 6’ high, and
and Hunley arrive in Mobile, Alabamaand begin work on a new submarine, Pioneer II. Realizing the limitations of a manually-powered
submarine, they spend many weeks experimenting with an electric motor and a
steam engine to power the vessel. Electric motors of sufficient power are known
to be available in New York City, but cannot be smuggled through the lines. The team
attempts to manufacture their own motor, but cannot with their limited
resources. The steam approach is similarly discarded for unknown reasons.
Stonewall Jackson’s Shenandoah Valley campaign begins successfully with a victory at the Battle of McDowell in Virginia.
destroyed the Norfolk and Pensacola Navy Yards in actions caused by the
forced Southern withdrawal from her coasts.
CSS Virginia scuttled by her crew off CraneyIsland to prevent her capture by advancing Union forces.
takes delivery of a submarine at the Tredegar Iron Works—possibly a larger
version of the vessel seen by Mrs. Baker. The craft has a “false
bow”—perhaps an airlock for a diver—several view ports, and may have used
an electrically-detonated torpedo.
The James River
Flotilla under Commander J. Rodgers advanced unsupported to within eight miles
of Richmond before being turned back at Drewry's Bluff by
batteries manned in part by Confederate Navy and Marine personnel.
An invoice is
issued on this date by the Tredegar Iron Works for “materials relating to the
testing of an underwater cannon.” Was Private Leavitt’s suggestion used on
the Cheney submarine or another vessel?
Samuel Eakins is
appointed “Superintendent” of de Villeroi’s submarine.
Captain C. H. Davis and rams under Colonel C. R. Ellet Jr., destroyed the upper Mississippi portion of the Confederate River Defense Fleet. They
were under Captain J. E. Montgomery at the Battle of Memphis.
Flag Officer Louis
M. Goldsborough orders U.S.S. Satellite
to Philadelphia to escort Fred
Kopp as it tows the de Villeroi vessel south to the James River. Although unofficial, the submarine has by now acquired
a name—Alligator, based probably on
its coat of green paint. Goldsborough steadfastly refuses to refer to it as
anything but “the submarine propeller.”
Escorted by the Satellite, the Fred Kopp
begins its tow of Alligator. A note
from Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles mentions a twenty-man crew and the fact
that the submarine carried two torpedoes.
arrives in Hampton Roads.
The first time in
history that opposing naval forces had functioning submarines operating in the
same theater of war: Cheney’s submarine and Alligator,
which is towed up the James on this date.
arrives at City Point, Virginia, and is anchored near U.S.S. Galena. The target of its
first operation is the Petersburg Railroad bridge over the Appomattox River. An Army operation which will impact this mission also
begin on this date—The Seven Days’ Battles
Flag Officer D. G.
Farragut's fleet successfully passed the heavy Vicksburg batteries. Three days later, 1 July, they were joined
by those of Flag Officer C. H. Davis: the fresh and salt-water fleets met for
the first time.
sends Alligator back down the James to
Louis Goldsborough at Hampton Roads. Rodgers is very impressed with the
potential of the submarine (possibly as the result of spending time with Samuel
Eakins) but realizes immediately that the Appomattox River is far too shallow
for the Alligator to operate
in—shoal areas previously held by Union forces have fallen to the Confederates
as General McClellan retreats, and Alligator
would be easily seen and handily sunk or captured. Although its mission cannot
be fulfilled, Rodgers rightly understands the potential for damage to the fleet
were the vessel to be captured and turned against the Navy.
The gunboats Galena, JacobBell,
Mahaska, and Aroostook save General George McClellan’s Army of the Potomac from destruction at the hands of Confederate General
Robert E. Lee at Malvern Hill, Virginia. This is possibly the first instance of indirect naval
fire in history, as the gunboats were directed by Army spotters through Signal
Corps men stationed on board.
Flag Officer L. M.
Goldsborough's fleet covered the withdrawal of Major General G. B. McClellan's
army after the battle of Malvern Hill.
The tug Fred Kopp leaves the James River and returns Alligator
to Philadelphia Navy Yard. On this same day, C.S.S. Teaser
is captured by U.S.S. Maratanza on the
James River; the Confederate ship carries detailed schematics of
the new ironclad, Virginia II, which
is nearing completion. Alligator is
recalled, but the civilian
crew declines the mission.
now at the Washington Navy Yard, is placed under the reluctant command of
Lieutenant Thomas O. Selfridge, hero of the battle between the Virginia and the Cumberland. Selfridge travels to the New York Navy Yard to recruit
volunteers from the receiving ship North Carolina. Expecting no response, he is surprised when so many
men volunteer that he must choose from among them.
CSS Arkansas, Lieutenant I. N. Brown, engaged and ran through the
Union fleet above Vicksburg, partially disabling USS Carondelet and Tyler.
Farragut promoted to Rear Admiral, the first officer to hold that rank in the
history of the U.S. Navy.
Selfridge and his
crew take Alligator for their first
voyage. The results of this and later trials are included in Selfridge’s
unflattering report—which ends his association with the vessel. Selfridge is
given command of U.S.S. Cairo of the
Mississippi River Squadron; his fourteen hand-picked crewmen accompany him. The
biggest problem cited by the reluctant submariner was the oar propulsion system
used to move Alligator. De
Villeroi’s adoption of oars was odd, since the original submarine he sailed
down the Delaware used a screw propeller.
Patent Office grants its second submarine patent to James Patton of Petersburg, Virginia, for a steam-powered “submarine battery;” it is
unknown whether the boat was ever built.
Horace Greeley of the New York Tribune publishes The Prayer of
Twenty Millions, a plea for Lincoln to liberate slaves in the Union.
Semmes assumed command of celebrated raider CSS Alabama.
promoted to Admiral, ranking officer in the Confederate Navy.
Battle of Manassas.
deserts the Confederacy. After the war he claims to have approached President
Lincoln with “secret information” regarding Southern efforts at undersea
warfare, but received no response.
Battle of Antietam, Maryland
Lincoln issues the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation.
USS Kensington and RachelSeaman
and mortar schooner HenryJames bombarded Sabine City, Texas, and forced Confederate troops to withdraw from the
Gunboat Fleet transferred from the War Department to the Navy.
During October the
Confederate Torpedo Bureau was established under Lieutenant H. Davidson,
continuing work pioneered by Commander M. F. Maury.
First mention of
Confederate Colonel E.H. Angamar’s experiments with a “rocket-powered
torpedo;” Angamar was also working on a rocket-propelled ship.
CSS Cotton and shore batteries engaged Union squadron at Berwick Bay, Louisiana. The squadron suffered considerable damage before the
gallant Confederate gunboat expended all its ammunition and was compelled to
McClellan receives Lincoln’s order relieving him of
command of the Army of the Potomac.
Plant demonstrates a true torpedo to interested naval officers along the banks
of the Potomac River. “Torpedo” in the Civil War described what we would
call “mines,” and it was not until the 1880s that the British would develop
the “automobile torpedo.” On two occasions, Plant fired his rocket-powered
missiles at a target vessel. On the first demonstration, the torpedo missed the
target—but successfully sank the schooner Diana anchored some distance away. A
second torpedo on the same day missed the target and buried itself in the far
bank. Later, Plant launched another torpedo which ran underwater for a distance
and then porpoised above the surface and flew for over 100 yards before
exploding on the opposite shore. Although Plant was decades ahead of his time
and his device suffered only from guidance problems, the inspecting Navy
officers failed to see the potential of the “self-propelled torpedo” and
declined further interest in the weapon.
USS Cairo, Lieutenant Commander T. O. Selfridge, was sunk in the YazooRiver, the first ship destroyed by a Confederate torpedo.
Battle of Fredericksburg, Virginia.
USS Monitor, Commander J. P. Bankhead, foundered and was lost at sea off
Lincoln issues the Emancipation Proclamation, declaring that slaves in the seceded
states are now free.
CSSBayouCity and Neptune engaged the Union fleet at Galveston, forcing the North's withdrawal from that foothold on
the Texas coast. USS HarrietLane was captured and USS Westfield
and Hunley decide that the steam engine they had hoped to use to power their new
submarine is inadequate; they return to a manually-turned screw propeller for Pioneer
Gunboats under Rear AdmiralD.D.Porter, with troops embarked, compelled the surrender of FortHindman (Arkansas Post) on the Arkansas River.
CSS Alabama, Captain R. Semmes, engaged and sank USS Hatteras,
Lieutenant Commander H. C. Blake, off Galveston.
forces attacked Confederate positions at Bayou Teche, Louisiana, compelling a Southern withdrawal and the subsequent
destruction of gunboat CSS Cotton.
CSS Josiah Bell and Uncle Ben
captured USS Morning Light and Velocity,
temporarily lifting the blockade of Sabine Pass, Texas.
Pioneer II is launched in MobileBay with a five-man crew.
USS CommodorePerry and Army
troops severed Confederate supply lines to Richmond via the Perquimans River, North Carolina.
CSSPalmettoState and Chicora
attacked the blockading fleet off Charleston; USS Mercedita
and KeystoneState heavily damaged and struck their flags.
II is lost in MobileBay during trials.
In the North, the
Permanent Commission is founded to evaluate all plans and inventions submitted
to the Navy Department
Failed attack upon
the Union blockading squadron off MobileBay by “one of 3-4 submarines constructed for the
purpose.” Also, USS Queenof the West grounded in the Black River and abandoned under heavy fire.
CSS William H. Webb and Queen of
the West engaged and sank ram USS Indianola
below Warrenton, Mississippi.
USS Montauk, Wissahickon, Seneca,
and Dawn shelled and destroyed blockade runner Rattlesnake (formerly CSS Nashville) under the guns of Fort McAllister, Georgia. For more than a month, Union ironclads had been
bombarding the fort guarding the approaches to Savannah.
President Lincoln signs a federal draft act.
Ships of the Yazoo
Pass Expedition, begun in February with the objective of cutting off Vicksburg in the rear, engaged Fort Pemberton, Mississippi. The expedition ultimately had to retire without
achieving its purpose.
Rear Admiral D. G.
Farragut passed the heavy batteries at Port Hudson with USS Hartford
and Albatross to establish an
effective blockade of the vital Red River supply lines.
Submarine Corps (a.k.a. the Secret Service Corps) is founded in the South.
McClintock, Baxter, and Hunley join the organization three weeks later.
leaves Hampton Roads for Charleston, South Carolina, towed by U.S.S. Sumpter.
Acting Master Samuel Eakins is in command of the submarine. Its intended use is
to remove obstacles and mines blocking the channel into CharlestonHarbor. Also, Confederate troops opened a sustained attack on
Union forces at Washington, North Carolina, but Northern warships, moving swiftly to the support
of the soldiers, halted the assault.
The keel of the Intelligent Whale is laid in Newark, New Jersey.
is lost at sea in a storm of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.
Realizing that Alligator has been lost, Admiral DuPont orders an ironclad attack on
FortSumter. Leery of the mines and obstructions, the attacking
vessels stall and the effort is a failure.
Rear Admiral S. F.
Du Pont's ironclad squadron engaged strong Confederate forts in Charleston harbor in an attempt to penetrate the defenses and
capture the city. The ironclads were heavily damaged and the attack was broken
off; USS Keokuk sank the next day.
Gunboats under Rear AdmiralD.D.Porter escorting Army transports successfully passed the Vicksburg batteries preparatory to attacking GrandGulf.
Battle of Chancellorsville.
Porter's force and troops under Major General U. S. Grant forced the evacuation
of GrandGulf. Porter reported: ''The Navy holds the door to Vicksburg.''
experimenting with a submarine off Long Island.
The Triton Company
is founded in Richmond. Its charter: to build submarines.
rocket-propelled ship supposedly ready for sea.
Commission examining schematics of Professor Horstford’s submarine Soligo. The vessel may owe much to de Villeroi’s Alligator.
cavalry under JEB Stuart clash with the Union mounts of Alfred Pleasonton in
an all day battle at Brandy Station, Virginia. Some 18,000
troopers—approximately nine thousand on either side—take part, making this
the largest cavalry battle on American soil. In the end, Stuart will hold the
field. Yet this battle signals the rise and future domination of Union cavalry
in the eastern theater.
CSS Atlanta, with two wooden steamers in company, engaged USS Weehawken
and Nahant in Wassaw Sound, Georgia. The heavy Confederate warship grounded and compelled
is launched at Mobile, Alabama.
Angamar makes an
attack upon the blockading squadron off Mobile. There is no record of this from the Union side.
Battleof Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
Vicksburg surrendered after a lengthy bombardment and siege by Union naval and land forces. President Lincoln wrote: ''The
Father of Waters again goes unvexed to the sea.''
Port Hudson, Louisiana, surrendered after prolonged attack by Northern sea
and land forces. The Union had won the war in the West.
Rear Admiral J. A.
Dahlgren's ironclads renewed the bombardment of Charleston defenses, opening on FortWagner, MorrisIsland.
Yazoo City, Mississippi, was captured by a joint Army-Navy expedition.
riots erupt in New York Cityin protest of the draft.
Commission endorses construction of Soligo.
Rear AdmiralD.D.Porter relieved Rear Admiral D. G. Farragut of command of the
lower half of the Mississippi and assumed command of the River from New Orleans to the headwaters.
USS CommodoreBarney severely
damaged by Confederate electric torpedo in the James River above Dutch Gap, Virginia.
is transported from Mobile to Charleston, S.C.
arrives in Charleston and, by the middle of the month, is actively searching
for targets. In the North, the Permanent Commission examines plans submitted by
Ensign Andrew Hartshorn for a one-man submarine. At least one such vessel was
built, as records refer to tests being made with the boat.
submarine H. L. Hunley, Lieutenant J.
A. Payne, CSN, sank for the first time in Charleston harbor after making practice dives preparatory to
attacking the blockading fleet.
MorrisIsland, Charleston harbor, evacuated by Confederate forces after nearly
two months of intensive bombardment from afloat and ashore.
CSS Uncle Ben and shore batteries turned back a Union expedition to take
Sabine Pass, Texas. USS Clifton
and Sachem were disabled and
under General Braxton Bragg win a great tactical victory at Chickamauga, Georgia. Union General George H.
Thomas wins the nickname "Rock of Chickamauga" for his stubborn
defense of his position.
Major E.B. Hunt of
the Engineers dies while testing the Navy’s Long Island submarine. He is the first (and only)Union submarine casualty of the war.
The U.S. Navy Long
Island project develops a one-man submarine.
off Charleston possibly accepts delivery of at least two small
observers spot a small submarine being towed over the bar in CharlestonHarbor, but no mention is made of them in Union records.
attack on U.S.S. NewIronsides.
Although the damage was initially thought to be insignificant, later inspection
resulted in the warship being removed from service for the remainder of the
conflict. Davids were semi-submerged boats that used a spar torpedo to attack.
Also, CSS David, Lieutenant W. T.
Glassell, exploded a spar torpedo against USS New Ironsides in an attempt to destroy the heavy blockader off Charleston. New Ironsides
was damaged but not destroyed. Later inspection of what was at first thought to
be minor damage indicated the need for extensive repairs; the vessel was out of
action for the remainder of the war.
Confederates at Charleston cites three USN submarines.
Submarine H. L. Hunley sank for the second time in Charleston harbor. The part owner for whom she was named and a
crew of seven perished in the accident, but she was again recovered and a third
crew volunteered to man her.
instruction began for 52 midshipmen at the ConfederateStatesNavalAcademy on board CSS Patrick
Henry in the James River.
convoyed and supported Army troops at Brazos Santiago, Texas, where the Union secured a valuable position on the Mexican border. As
a result of this operation, Brownsville, Texas, was evacuated.
Lincoln delivers his Gettysburg Address, in which he reiterates the nation’s
fundamental principle that all men are created equal.
three days of battle, the Union victory at Chattanooga, Tennessee, opens the way for Union
advancement into the heart of the Confederacy.
A Union foraging
party along the Mississippi captures detailed plans of a Triton Company submarine.
Confederate General Gilmer’s evaluation of the boat six weeks earlier suggests
the company had built other submarines as well.
construction in Wilmington, North Carolina.
Steamer Chesapeake en route Portland, Maine, was seized off Cape Cod by Confederates disguised as passengers and carried to
reprints an article from the French Le Monde Illustré which describes a
Confederate submarine designed by Anstilt that is 69’ long.
expedition led by Commander J. T. Wood captured and destroyed USS Underwriter in the Neuse River, North Carolina.
submarine H. L. Hunley sank Union
blockader Housatonic off Charleston -- the first submarine to sink a ship in combat. Hunley
is itself lost at sea following the attack.
commissioned to the rank of lieutenant general, Ulysses S. Grant is given
official authority to command all of the armies of the United States.
Ships of Rear AdmiralD.D.Porter's Mississippi Squadron moved up the Red River to commence the unsuccessful Army-Navy campaign to
gain a foothold in the Texas interior.
John P. Halligan
sets up shop in Selma, Alabama to build a submarine for use in MobileBay.
Commission is swamped with ideas for submarines.
Hurlbut in Memphis, Tennessee receives information from an informant that a Rebel
submarine in Mobile is to be operational by May 10.
CSS Albemarle, Commander J. W. Cooke, sank USS Southfield and forced the remainder of the Union squadron at Plymouth, North Carolina, to withdraw. Having gained control of the waterways
in the area, the Confederates were able to capture Plymouth on 20 April.
USS Sassacus, Wyalusing, and Mattabesett
engaged CSS Albemarle off the mouth of the Roanoke River as the Union sought in vain to regain control near Plymouth.
Battle of the Wilderness in Virginia.
destroyed USS Commodore Jones in the James River, Virginia, one of several losses the Union suffered from torpedoes during the year.
at Spotsylvania Court House and Yellow Tavern impede Grant’s drive for Richmond. Confederate cavalry commander
JEB Stuart is killed at Yellow Tavern, May 11.
The last of Rear
Admiral Porter's squadron, after being trapped by low water, dashed through the
hurriedly constructed Red River dams to safety below the Alexandria rapids.
of Cold Harbor results in heavy Union casualties. Grant prepares for a siege of Petersburg.
Lodner Phillips and
his partner Peck submit plans for a submarine that is steam-powered, carries
enough compressed air for a crew of five for 24 hours, employs a saw for cutting
underwater obstructions, and could fire a cannon both at the surface and from
underwater. Phillips was the most respected expert in submarine technology in
North America, but had withheld any input until now perhaps because of the
rejection by the USN of a submarine developed and used by himself (and Peck) on
the Great Lakes from 1851-55. The vessel also used an underwater cannon in
salvage operations and was commercially successful.
submits a set of plans for his second submarine, Explorer,
which are accepted for review by the U.S. Navy. Explorer is unique in that the bottom of the boat could be opened
while submerged (compressed air keeping the seawater out) while divers exited
and entered the boat. Explorer is
completed later in the summer but declined for service by the U.S. Navy. The
boat is taken to Panama where it was used successfully by the Pacific Pearl
Mining Company for many years.
USS Kearsarge, Commander J. A. Winslow, sank CSS Alabama, Captain R. Semmes, off Cherbourg, France, ending the career of the South's most famous commerce
Lincoln signs a bill repealing the
fugitive slave laws.
forces under Jubal Early probe and fire upon the northern defenses of Washington, D.C., throwing the Capital into a
state of high alert.
Union Admiral David G. Farragut wins the Battle of Mobile
Rear Admiral D. G.
Farragut's fleet steamed by Forts Morgan and Gaines, through the deadly torpedo
field blocking the channel, and into MobileBay. In the fierce engagement with the forts and Admiral
F. Buchanan's small squadron, Farragut won a victory worthy of his great name.
U.S. Navy makes
final decision to reject Hortsford’s Soligo;
no reason given. On this same date, Admiral Farragut fights the Battle of Mobile
Bay. Seeing U.S.S. Tecumseh sunk in
seconds (supposedly by a torpedo), Farragut admonishes his men to “Damn the
torpedoes—full speed ahead!” But, as no other mine in the harbor worked on
that day, the possibility exits that Tecumseh
was sunk by the Confederate submarine C.S.S. CaptainPierce, which was
active in the harbor that day and lost when its boiler exploded—very near the Tecumseh.
The lone surviving Confederate sailor claimed the crew had targeted a different
ship; if so, the Tecumseh was simply
incredibly unlucky to find the single mine that was not waterlogged.
CSS Tallahassee, Commander J. T. Wood, put to sea from Wilmington, launching a brief but highly successful cruise
against Northern shipping.
FortMorgan, the last of the three forts at MobileBay to remain in Confederate hands, capitulated.
forcing the Confederate army of John Bell Hood out of Atlanta, Georgia, General William T. Sherman
captures the city, a major munitions center for the South.
USS Wachusett, Lieutenant N. Collins, captured CSS Florida, Lieutenant C. M. Morris, at Bahia, Brazil. Thus, in the same year were the cruises of the dread
raiders Alabama and Florida ended.
Baxter Watson, one
of the inventors of the Hunley, writes
to Jefferson Davis and makes the case for buying a $5000 “electro-magnetic
engine” in New York City of Washington City. Watson maintains that this is the
best way to power a submarine. Watson had worked on scratch-building such a
motor for Pioneer II.
submarine, St. Patrick, is ready for
sea trials. A description of the boat closely matches a submarine designed by
Lodner Phillips before the war.
CSS Shenandoah, Lieutenant J. I. Waddell, commissioned off the Madeira Islands.
Union victory at Cedar Creek ends the Confederate threat in the Shenandoah Valley.
commanded by Lieutenant W. B. Cushing destroyed ram CSS Albemarle in the Roanoke River, assuring the North of renewed control of the waters
around Plymouth, North Carolina.
raiders captured small gunboats USS Key
West, Tawah, and Elfin near Johnsonville on the Tennessee River.
Lincoln is reelected President, with
Andrew Johnson as Vice President.
Sherman leaves Atlanta and begins his “march to the
sea,” in an attempt to demoralize the South and hasten surrender.
Farragut arrived in New York City, for a period of rest after his arduous duty in the Gulf of Mexico and was acclaimed as a conquering hero. Ten days later
he was promoted to the newly established rank of Vice Admiral.
George Henry Thomas wins the Battle of Nashville, decimating John Bell Hood's
Confederate Army of Tennessee.
Savannah falls to Sherman’s army without resistance. Sherman gives the city to Lincolnas a Christmas present.
Flag Officer W. W.
Hunter destroyed the last of the Confederate Savannah Squadron to prevent its
capture by the advancing forces of General W. T. Sherman.
A joint Army-Navy
operation under Rear Admiral Porter and Major General B. F. Butler
unsuccessfully attempted to take the Confederate stronghold of FortFisher, Wilmington, by amphibious assault.
amphibious assault under Rear Admiral David D. Porter and Major General Alfred
H. Terry took FortFisher, the key in the defense of Wilmington, North Carolina. This was the last port by which supplies from Europe could reach General Lee's troops at Richmond.
fleet under Flag Officer John K. Mitchell attempted to dash down the James River to attack General Grant's headquarters at City Point, Virginia. The bold attack was thwarted when the heaviest of the
ironclads ran aground.
Walker, CSN, in C.S.S. St. Patrick,
attacks the U.S.S. Octorora in MobileBay. The spar torpedo fails to detonate.
passes the Thirteenth Amendment, which abolishes slavery throughout the United States.
takes the St. Patrick out again—not
for an attack, but to cause a diversion and create a gap among the Union
blockading vessels in MobileBay so that the blockade runner RedGauntlet can escape.
The gap was opened (no details), but authorities decided it was too risky for
the runner to attempt to escape.
Columbia, South Carolina, is almost completely
destroyed by fire, most likely set by Sherman’s troops.
Charleston, confronted by General William T. Sherman's soldiers
approaching from the rear and a Navy-supported amphibious assault from Bull's
Bay, was evacuated.
CSS Shenandoah, Lieutenant James I. Waddell, departed Melbourneto resume her commerce raiding career in the Pacific.
Wilmington, North Carolina, evacuated as Rear Admiral Porter's ships steamed up
the Cape Fear River and General Terry's soldiers marched on the city.
Lincoln is inaugurated as President for a second term.
Major A. M.
Jackson (10th U.S. Colored Heavy Artillery) passes on a spy’s
report on a Confederate submarine at Houston, Texas and four other such vessels
at Shreveport, Louisiana. The description of the boats is almost identical to Hunley,
and the ships were probably built by members of the Singer Submarine Corps who
had been ordered to the West the year before.
CSS Stonewall, Captain Thomas J. Page, put to sea from Ferrol, Spain, en route to Havana. The ironclad was intended to raise the blockade of
one or more southern ports.
Porter joined Generals Grant and Sherman for a conference with President Lincoln
on board steamerRiver Queen
at City Point, Virginia. They discussed the strategy to be followed in the
closing days of the war and how the South would be treated at the close of the
The Appomattoxcampaign begins, with
Grant’s move against Lee’s defenses at Petersburg, Virginia.
The St. Patrick is used to ferry supplies to the outlying garrison of
Spanish Fort (one of two earthwork fortifications keeping the Navy out of Mobile).
Petersburg falls, and the Confederate
government evacuates its capital, Richmond. Confederate corps commander
Ambrose Powell Hill is killed in action while attempting to rally his men.
CSA Secretary of
the Navy Stephen R. Mallory ordered the destruction of the Confederate James
River Squadron. He directed its officers and men to join General Lee's troops
then in the process of evacuating Richmond and retreating westward toward Danville.
Midshipmen at the ConfederateNavalAcademy, under the command of Lieutenant William H. Parker,
escorted the archives of the government and the specie and bullion of the
treasury from Richmond to Danville and southward.
troops occupy Richmond.
Porter accompanied President Lincoln up the James River to Richmond on board flagship Malvern.
Vice Admiral David G. Farragut had already arrived in the Confederate capital.
General Lee met
General Grant at Appomattox Courthouse and formally surrendered the Army of
Batteries Tracyand Huger, up the BlakelyRiver from Spanish Fort, fell to Union forces and
Confederate troops evacuated Mobile, which was surrendered by the mayor.
was shot shortly after 10 p.m. while watching "Our American Cousin'' at
Ford's Theatre, Washington. Secretary
of State William H. Seward is stabbed and wounded in an assassination attempt
inside his Washington home.
Anderson, Commander of the Union Army garrison at FortSumter on 14 April 1861, raised above Sumter's ruins "the same United States flag which floated over the battlements of that fort
during the rebel assault...."
Lincoln dies at , and Andrew Johnson is
inaugurated as President.
CSS Webb, Lieutenant Read, dashed from the Red River and entered the Mississippi in a heroic last-ditch effort to escape to sea.
Trapped below New Orleans, Webb was
grounded and fired to avoid capture.
E. Johnston surrenders to William T. Sherman in North Carolina; John Wilkes Booth is shot in
a barn in Virginiaand dies.
The body of John
Wilkes Booth, President Lincoln's assassin, was delivered on board USS Montauk, anchored in the AnacostiaRiver off the Washington Navy Yard.
CSA Secretary of
the Navy Mallory submitted his resignation to President Davis at Washington, Georgia.
Jefferson Davis was captured by Union troops near Irwinville, Georgia.
CSS Stonewall, Captain T. J. Page, was turned over to Cuban officials at
New Orleans, terms of surrender are
offered to General E. Kirby Smith, commander of the Trans-Mississippi
Department. His acceptance on June 2 formally ends Confederate resistance.
Terms of surrender
of Galveston were signed on board USS FortJackson by Major
General E. Kirby Smith on behalf of the Confederacy.
The last official
act of the Civil War sees a Navy expedition head up the Red River north of Shreveport to take possession of C.S.S. Missouri and a small naval flotilla which included a number of
submarines. Warned of underwater activity in the area, the wary sailors arrive
to find the Missouriand her crew waiting for capture, and the submarines
all scuttled and their crews escaped.
announced to the naval forces that Franceand Great Britain had "withdrawn from the insurgents the character
of belligerents,” and that the blockade of the coast of the United States would soon be lifted.
This date marked
the most successful single day CSS Shenandoah,
Lieutenant Waddell, enjoyed as a commerce raider during her long cruise that
spanned 13 months and covered 58,000 miles. On this field day Waddell captured
eleven American whalers near the narrows of the Bering Strait.
eight conspirators are convicted for the assassination of President Lincoln;
four are sentenced to death
Rear Admiral Louis
M. Goldsborough arrived at Flushing, in the Netherlands, where he hoisted his flag on USS Colorado and assumed command of the reinstated European Squadron.
The East India Squadron was reactivated on 31 July.
Waddell, CSS Shenandoah, spoke the
English bark Barracouta and for the
first time learned positively that the war was over. He determined to make a
nonstop voyage to Liverpool, England, via Cape Horn.
reactivated under Rear Admiral Gordon in flagship Susquehanna.
approved the "Regulations and Instructions'' prepared by Matthew Fontaine
Maury to encourage emigration of Southerners to Mexico. The Emperor also appointed Maury director of the
proposed National Observatory.
ordered all naval vessels to resume rendering honors when entering British ports
and to begin again exchanging official courtesies with English men-of-war.
CSS Shenandoah, Lieutenant Waddell, arrived at Liverpool, England, 123 days and 23,000 miles from the Aleutians. Waddell lowered the last official Confederate flag,
and his ship was ultimately turned over to American authorities.
Secretary Welles announced that the West
India Squadron was to be re-established under Commodore James S. Palmer, in that
area ''where we have so large a trade, owing to the proximity of the islands to
our shores, it is essential that we cultivate friendly relations."
In his annual report to the President,
Secretary Welles wrote: ''It is still wise -- the wisest -- economy to cherish
the Navy, to husband its resources, to invite new supplies of youthful courage
and skill to its service, to be amply supplied with all needful facilities and
preparations for efficiency, and thus to hold within prompt and easy reach its
vast and salutary power for the national defense and self- vindication.
The IntelligentWhale is
launched in Newark, New Jersey, three years after construction began. The ship was an
utter disaster, killing upwards of thirty men in her trials. The unfortunate
result of these trials ended the development of submarines in America for the next thirty years.
chronology extracted from Civil War Naval Chronology, 1861-1865,
published in 1971 by the Naval Historical Center. Submarine information comes from Mark Ragan’s “Submarine Warfare in the
Civil War.” General and army events are from the Smithsonian’s website at http://www.civilwar.si.edu/timeline.html.