First naval engagement of the Civil War?

major bill

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Newspaper's Today In History column says that on this day in 1861 the first naval engagement of the Civil War took place. Is this a fact? It would seem like it should have been earlier.
 

Mark F. Jenkins

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Newspaper's Today In History column says that on this day in 1861 the first naval engagement of the Civil War took place. Is this a fact? It would seem like it should have been earlier.

Depends how one defines one's terms... in the loosest sense, one could argue that the firing on the Star of the West in January 1861 was the first "naval" engagement. Which action are they referring to? There was some minor skirmishing on the upper rivers in September 1861, but I'm sure there was action along the blockade earlier than that.
 

major bill

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The naval engagement the newspaper claims to be the first is when the USS Colorado attacked and sank the private schooner Judah off Pensacola, Florida.
 

Mark F. Jenkins

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I can't understand what critera they are using to determine the "first" engagement. Federal ships started seizing Confederate vessels in April; the first capture of a Union vessel by a Confederate navy ship was in mid-May; the first amphibious landing was on May 24 at Alexandria VA; the privateer Savannah was captured by USS Perry in early June; the CSS Sumter was at sea and in operation by July; and Federal and Confederate navy vessels engaged each other with gunfire on July 7, 1861. I can't see how anything after that can be regarded as a "first"...
 

NFB22

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A mixed detachment of Marines and sailors rowed ashore at the Pensacola Naval Yard and cut out the Judah. If that constitutes a "naval engagement," then you'd have to include when Federal gunboats dueled with Confederate positions at Sewell's Point, located at the modern day Norfolk Naval Station, in mid-May 1861 or a similar action at Aquia Creek a little over a week later. Not to mention many other actions as @Mark F. Jenkins pointed out.
 

major bill

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I can't understand what critera they are using to determine the "first" engagement. Federal ships started seizing Confederate vessels in April; the first capture of a Union vessel by a Confederate navy ship was in mid-May; the first amphibious landing was on May 24 at Alexandria VA; the privateer Savannah was captured by USS Perry in early June; the CSS Sumter was at sea and in operation by July; and Federal and Confederate navy vessels engaged each other with gunfire on July 7, 1861. I can't see how anything after that can be regarded as a "first"...
I did think September was too far in to the war to be first.
 

georgew

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There was a pamphlet out some years ago with a title of "The Blockade of Washington DC" with accounts of ship/shore engagements on the Potomic. Off the top of my head I believe it was published by the Smithsonian, but it could have been LOC.
 
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