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unknown, and of which we have no record, were undoubtedly afloat along the coast or in mid-ocean, or near the shores of countries where the American foreign trade was chiefly carried on. Many prizes, no doubt, were burnt or sunk, as in the case of some of those taken in the early part of the war by the Sumter; and it is doubtful if we shall ever hear of them. "We are satisfied," says the New York Herald of Aug. 10th, 1861, "that already $20,000,000 worth of property has been lost in various ways through the operations of these highwaymen of the seas, increasing daily in numbers, and becoming more and more daring from impunity. The worst effect, is not the loss of the vessels and their cargoes, but the destruction of our trade. Our commerce with the West Indies was immense before the pirates commenced their depredations. Now no Northern vessel will get a charter or can De insured for any reasonable premium. English bottoms are taking all our trade. When the Great Eastern was here, she could have been filled with cargo, if her draft of water were not so great. Thus our shipping interest is literally ruined."
THE secession of Virginia from the Union, following immediately after the assault upon Sumter, dispelled all hope at Washington that Virginia would not ally herself with the Confederate States. It was accepted, and possibly intended, as a virtual declaration that, in any collision between the Federal and Confederate forces, Virginia would arraign herself on the side of the latter. It was regarded at Washington as a hostile act, and the waters of the State as having been opened to invasion whenever the government should deem it proper to send a force to occupy the rivers, bays and harbors of the State. In the same light it was accepted at Richmond, and Gen. Lee, in reporting to Governor Letcher, June 15th, 1861, the state of military and naval preparations to that date, says:
"Arrangements were first made for the establishment of batteries to prevent the ascent of our rivers by hostile vessels. As soon as an examination was made for the selection of sites, their construction was began, and their armament and defence committed to the Virginia navy."
Among the very first of those arrangements, Gen. Lee dispatched Capt. Wm. F. Lynch of the State navy to examine the defensible points on the Potomac, and to take measures for the establishment of batteries to prevent the vessels of the enemy from navigating that river. In the discharge of that duty, sites for batteries along that river were immediately selected, and arrangements made for their speedy erection. But the entire command of the river being in the possession of the U. S. government, a larger force was required for the protection of the batteries than could be spared at that early day from the field of active operations.
Alexandria. Va., the practical head of navigation so far as Virginia was concerned, was occupied immediately by a small force of State troops under Lieut. Col. A. S. Taylor, but their exposed position was soon found to be untenable, and the city was evacuated on May 5th, 1861, Col. Taylor's force falling back eight miles to Springfield, on the Orange & Alexandria Railroad. That force consisted of only two companies of raw recruits, numbering 150 privates, armed with flint muskets of 1818, without cartridges; the Mt. Vernon Guard, 8G privates, armed with new muskets, 52 men without accoutrements, and 15 without arms, and all with very little ammunition.1 Such a force was useless for defence, and only provocative of attack. The retention of the command and navigation of the Potomac was even more indispensable to the Federal authorities for the maintenance of their capital than to the Confederates for defence, and, therefore, the Pawnee, Commander S. C. Rowan, carrying a battery of fifteen guns, was put in commission as soon as v irginia seceded, and under the protection of her guns the first Zouave regiment of New York Volunteers, under Col. Ellsworth, occupied Alexandria on May 24th. The removal of the flag from the staff on the Marshall House was avenged by Mr. Jackson, the owner, who sacrificed his life in taking that of Col. Ellsworth. Among all the acts of personal bravery during the war, not one exceeds in heroism that total indifference to personal safety which inspired the noble Jackson to brave in his single person a whole regiment of the enemy. The uselessness of the act may detract from its wisdom, but cannot lessen its heroism. The authorities at Washington had on April 23d the U. S. steamers Anacostia and Pocahontas, the latter a vessel of some 1,800 tons, at the navy-yard, to keep the navigation of the Potomac open.
On April 24th, Major Thos. H. Williamson of the Engineers, and Lieut. H. H. Lewis of the Virginia navy, by order of Gen. Ruggles, examined together the ground at Aquia Creek, and selected Split Rock Bluff as the best point for a battery, as the channel there could be commanded from that point by guns of sufficient calibre. Cream Point, on the other side of the creek, was not defensible with the small force then under Gen. Ruggles, and hence was not fortified.a The Aquia Creek landing and the protection of the steamer George Page, which had been seized, were regarded as of secondary importance, except in the moral influence upon the neighborhood. The position at Aquia was difficult to defend, since it was easily turned by way of Potomac Creek, and exposed to disaster from an attack in the rear. But it would serve the purpose of drawing the attention of the enemy from Freestone and Mathias Points, which would control the navigation of the river, and which, when occupied, would render the battery at Aquia Creek of little importance.3 To this end, Capt. Wm. F. Lynch, Commander Robert D. Thorburn and Lieuts. H. H. Lewis and John Wilkinson, of the State navy, erected at Aquia a battery of thirteen guns, about May 14th, to protect the terminus of the
railroad to Richmond. While serving to protect the railroad, that battery was also a threat to close the navigation of the Potomac, and was so considered at Washington. U. S. naval authorities immediately organized the Potomac flotilla.consisting of the Freeborn, carrying three guns, the Anacostia, of two guns, and the Resolute, of two guns; the whole commanded by Commander James H. Ward. The Aquia Creek battery was commanded by Capt. Wm. F. Lynch and other officers of the Virginia but afterwards of the Confederate navy.
On April 29th, Lieuts. Wm. L. Maury and Wm. Taylor Smith, of the State navy, having ascertained reliably the number of Federal troops in Washington City to be very largely in excess of that holding the Confederate lines on the Potomac, advised Gen. Ruggles against erecting a battery above Aquia Creek, and that the two eight-inch guns, ammunition, etc., then in Alexandria, be removed to some point of greater security; which was immediately done, and not too soon, as the enemy occupied Alexandria on May 24th. Capt. Lynch, on May 0th, diverted the guns, first intended for Mathias Point, to Aquia Creek, to protect the approaches to Fredericksburg from the Potomac, and the guns were placed in position by Commander Thorburn, and the necessary preparation of defence actively undertaken and completed within forty-eight hours. The difficulty of enrolling men for any naval service, even in shore batteries, by naval officers, was experienced at that early day, and for that reason Gen. Ruggles was compelled to man the batteries with companies of volunteers, as well as to detail infantry to work in erecting the batteries for the heavy guns.
On May 31st and June 1st, 1801, the first battle of the war between the navy of the United States and batteries of the Confederate States was fought. On the first day, the U. S. steamers opened their fire on the battery, and fired fourteen shot and shell, slightly wounding one man in the hand, but doing no other damage, and not by any means justifying the remark of Admiral Porter that, "the batteries were silenced altogether in two hours, and the secessionists driven to their earthworks on hills overlooking the landing." Nothing of that kind occurred. On June 1st, about 10 A. M., the U. S. Potomac flotilla renewed their attack upon the battery, and after throwing 39? shot and shell retired, having hurt no one in the battery and doing no injury to the works.1
The report of Capt. W. F. Lynch, then of the Virginia navy, dated June 2d, 1801, to Capt. Samuel Barron, Virginia navy, in charge of Naval Detail and Equipment, shows that
"On Friday, at 10:30 P. M., two out of three steamers abreast of the battery opened fire upon us, and continued the cannonade for three hours, when they withdrew. The largest steamer very much resembled the Crusader. As they kept at long shot, mostly beyond our range, I economized ammunition,and only fired fifty-six times. * One of the steamers had a rifled
1 Official Records, Report of Gen. Rugglea. lut Series, Vol. R pp. 55 and 57.