St. Louis Civil War Roundtable
1. What two notable roles did the river steamer J. C. Swon play in Missouri Civil War history?
The Swon delivered the crates of “Tamaroa Marble” to the Missouri Volunteer Militia at Camp Jackson from the Baton Rouge Arsenal and it carried Lyon and his Federals, along with the steamer Iatan, into the state to seize control of Jefferson City and on to The Battle of Lexington.
2. What was the largest ironclad warship built by the Confederacy?
CSS Mississippi for the defense of New Orleans was burned on 25 April 1862 to avoid capture. She was to mount 18 guns and be powered by three engines by two boilers. Three feet of armor at the bow and two on the sides would be her protection for the 260 ft length.
3. What was the only warship in the Civil War captured by land forces?
The USS Isaac Smith was captured on the Stono River near Charleston on 30 January 1863. She was caught in a cross fire by masked batteries losing 8 dead and 17 wounded and Captain C. H Davis surrendered the ship. She served the Confederacy until June 1863 when she wrecked attempting to run the blockade near Ft. Moultrie with a load of cotton. The is another Union ship the USS Columbine, a side-wheel tug that was captured by Confederate cavalry after the small Battle of Horse Landing Florida on 22 May 1864. Acting Ensign Frank Sanborn surrendered the tug but it was burned by the Confederates to prevent recapture.
4. On 9 January 1861 what ship was fired upon by the Citadel Cadets on MorrisIsland as it entered CharlestonHarbor in a vain attempt to re-supply Ft.Sumter?
The unarmed steamship Star of the West. In April 1861 she was captured by Gen Earl Van Dorn near Galveston. Her name was changed to CSS St Philip and she served as a hospital ship and naval station until Farragut captured New Orleans. She sailed up river transporting bullion and currency to Vicksburg. She was used as a blocking battery near ft Pemberton on the Yazoo River and was sunk. Her owners collected $175,000 in damages from the US after the war.
5. Captain Raphael Semmes was reported as saying that in the CSS Alabama he feared being overtaken by only two Union ships? What were they?
USS Vanderbilt and the USS Niagra. Niagra had the speed of a clipper ship and the armament of a frigate. Vanderbilt was built to be fast as a transatlantic passenger and mail steamer and was donated to the US Navy by Cornelius Vanderbuilt. He served as her captain.
6. What was the first iron-hulled US warship and where was her area of operation?
USS Michigan and she sailed the Great Lakes out of Erie,Pennsylvania. Launched in December 1843 she was an objective of a Confederate plot to launch attacks on the US from Canada led by Lt. Willam Henry Murdaugh, CSN in 1863.
7. The USRC Harriet Lane was transferred to the US Navy with a glorious history and was eventually captured by the Confederates at Galveston, TX. For who was the ship named?
The niece of Senator, later President James Buchanan, who served as his First Lady since he was a bachelor. The ship is credited with firing the first naval cannon shot of the Civil War on 11 April 1861 off Charleston and was captured by Confederates off Galveston on 1 January 1863.
8. What was the name of the US Navy steam frigate that captured Mssrs. Mason and Slidell, Confederate emissaries to England aboard the Trent on 8 November 1861?
The USS San Jacinto, named for the San Jacinto River, site of the famous Texas Revolution battle.
9. What US warships were sunk by the CSS Virginia at Hampton Roads?
The USS Cumberland and the USS Congress. The USS Minnesota was damaged and run aground.
10. What was the name of the ironclad warship built by James Eads that became the flagship on the Mississippi River Squadron throughout the Civil War, sometimes known as the Western Gunboat Flotilla?
USS Benton was not so much built as converted from being a snagboat into a warship. By the end of the war it was one of the heaviest armed vessels on the Mississippi River. The Benton remained the squadron flag ship because of its size and firepower throughout the Civil War. Six commanders relied on her as their flag ship:John Rodgers, Andrew Foote, Charles H Davis, David D. Porter, Alexander H. Pennock and Samuel E Lee. The squadron was discontinued 14 August 1865.
Copyright© 2014 John A. Nischwitz