Gary Joiner’s wonderful book “Mr. Lincoln’s Brown Water Navy” was the source of the following trivia questions. I was referring to the book at fill in on some of Shelby Foote’s narrative and just became excited about these interesting historical tidbits.
(Note: the numbers are my reference numbers for gatherings I am collecting for a second book which may never be published but forces me to stay organized)
1. Where did the first black nurses serve in the US armed forces?
Five African-American women were enlisted as first class boys (and paid accordingly) and served as nurses aboard the USS Red Rover. The best known is Ann Bradford Stokes, an escaped slave from Tennessee who was enlisted in January 1863 and served until late 1864.
2. What were the names of the two hospital ships were lost during the Civil War?
The USS Hospital Boat Woodford was lost on the Red River at the falls near Alexandria, Louisiana and the US Hospital Ship North America off Florida Coast 22 December 1864 with a loss of 194. No loss of life occurred on the Woodford.
3. Wellington W. Withenbury was an experienced riverboat pilot who may have been considered a double agent-aiding the Union fleet and also informing the rebel defenders. What was the interesting conflict of interest he had?
He owned several hundred bales of cotton and did not want the US Navy to steal it or have the Confederates burn it if it got close to capture. He was able to send General Banks on a round-about march route that saved his cotton. He changed the course of the campaign in a single night.
4. In what combat action was the first periscope used in battle?
On 12 April 1864 the monitor USS Osage aimed an 11-inch gun at a Confederate General Tom Green’s cavalry regiment at Blair’s Landing, Louisiana. From a range of 20 yards he broke up a shoreline ambush and killed Gen. Green by firing a point blank canister round.
5. During the Red River Campaign Admiral Porter lost his largest and most powerful ironclad warship. What was the name of the warship?
USS Eastport, a captured southern ironclad taken at Cerro Gordo, Tennessee on 7 February 1862 by the timberclad fleet
6. What tragic event occurred aboard the pump boat Champion #3 on 26 April 1864?
One hundred refugee slaves being transported to freedom were scalded to death below deck when the boiler was pierced by artillery fire and exploded. Interestingly, Admiral Porter gathered some of the refugees that had been rescued aboard the USS Cricket and trained them and formed a gun crew to suppress the rebel fire from the shore.
7. What was the final episode of the Civil War in the Mississippi Valley?
The surrender on 3 June 1865 of the final warship on inland waters at Shreveport-the greatly feared ironclad CSS Missouri under LT Jonathon Carter, CSN
8. How did the Confederate defenders of the Red River in 1864 create a dam to block the advancing US Fleet?
They took the huge river steamer New Falls City and wedged it across the channel at the mouth of the Scopini Cut-off (about 45 miles south of Shreveport) such that it extended 15 feet onto both shorelines. Then they filled it with sand and rock and broke its keel. When Admiral Porter saw the obstruction he decided to retreat back down the river.