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H.L. Hunley's Blue Lantern Myth

Discussion in 'Civil War History - The Naval War' started by Chris Rucker, Dec 23, 2011.

  1. Chris Rucker

    Chris Rucker Private

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    Despite a complete lack of historical evidence, the myth of the H.L. Hunley submarine's blue lantern refuses to die. There was no blue lantern in the Feb. 17, 1864 battle between the Hunley and the USS Housatonic. Fact: Confederate official correspondence two days after the battle stated that there were prearranged signals between the sub and the shore command, should she wish a light to be exposed to guide her back home. Fact: in 1866, an author stated that the prearranged signals were "two blue lights." Fact: a lookout clinging to the rigging of the sunken Housatonic saw "a blue light on the water" ahead of the USS Canandaigua as she rescued the Federal crewmen. These three facts are the only historical mentions of blue light signals during the battle. Modern authors have misrepresented the "blue light" as a blue lantern, because they failed to research the 1864 meaning of "blue light." I have contacted both Mark Ragan and Tom Chaffin, authors of books about the Hunley, and both cite these three facts as their evidence for the use of a blue lantern signal.

    In 1864, "blue light" was familiar to civilians and military men as a pyrotechnic (firework) composition used for signaling and illumination. It appears in period dictionaries (synonym: "Bengal Light"), military manuals (Ordnance Manual, etc), chemistry texts, popular fiction, etc. It had long been used by the US Navy, having been required as part of ships' inventories forty years before the Civil War. Blue light was one of the standard means of signaling in 1864, and its use is documented in the Federal South Atlantic Blockading Squadron. The final nail in the coffin for the blue lantern myth? The lantern found in the recovered H.L. Hunley has a clear glass lens, not a blue one.

    Had the modern reseachers seeking the sunken Hunley realized that the "blue light" mentioned in the historical record was not a blue colored oil lamp, visible over only a short distance, they would not have begun searching for her close to shore, and she might have been found years earlier. Blue light burns so brightly that it is visible over the four mile distance between the Housatonic's wreck and the shore. I've reproduced and tested blue light according to the 1863 recipes, and can attest to its usefulness as a nightime signal. Check out YouTube for two videos showing the blue light: "Making Civil War - Era Blue Light" and "Burning Blue Light."

    Does anyone have any historical evidence for the use of a blue lantern in the engagement between the Hunley and the Housatonic? My research is going to be published in the first issue of Civil War Navy magazine, and I'd be happy to include any evidence which counters my conclusion that it was pyrotechnic blue light, not a blue lantern, which is cited in the record.

    Regards,

    Chris Rucker
     

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  3. dvrmte

    dvrmte Major

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    I visited the Hunley this past summer, just after they had turned it upright. The water was cloudy so we couldn't see anything clearly.

    I think there will continue to be arguments about the multiple mysteries involved with the Hunley. I hope you find more on the blue light.
     
  4. M E Wolf

    M E Wolf Colonel Retired Moderator

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    O.R.-- SERIES I--VOLUME 1 [S# 1] CHAPTER I.
    OPERATIONS IN CHARLESTON HARBOR, S.C.
    No. 4. -- Reports of Lieut. Charles R. Woods, Ninth U. S. Infantry, of first expedition for relief of Fort Sumter.
    FORT COLUMBUS, N. Y. H.,
    January 13, 1861.
    COLONEL: Pursuant to instructions, dated Headquarters of the Army, January 5, 1861, I embarked on the evening of Saturday, 5th instant, from Governor's Island, at 6 o'clock p.m., on a steam-tug, which transferred us to the steamer Star of the West.

    My command consisted of two hundred men, recruits from the depot, fifty of whom were of the permanent party. My officers were First Lieut. W. A. Webb, Fifth Infantry; Second Lieut. C. W. Thomas, First Infantry, and Assist. Surg. P. G. S. Ten Broeck, Medical Department.

    On Tuesday afternoon, 8th instant, arms and ammunition were issued to all the men. About midnight same evening we arrived off Charleston Harbor, and remained groping in the dark until nearly day, when we discovered the light on Fort Sumter, which told us where we were. The other coast light marking the approaches to the harbor had been extinguished, and the outer buoy marking the channel across the bar gone.

    During the night we saw what we supposed to be the light of a steamer cruising off the harbor, but she did not discover us, as our lights were all out. Just before day we discovered a steamer lying off the main ship channel. As soon as they made us out they burned one blue light and two red lights, and, receiving no response from us, immediately steamed up the channel. As soon as we had light enough we crossed the bar, and steamed up the main ship channel. This was on the first of the ebb tide, the steamer ahead of us firing rockets and burning lights as she went up. We proceeded without interruption until we arrived within one and three-quarter miles of Forts Sumter and Moultrie--they being apparently equidistant--when we were opened on by a masked battery near the north end of Morris Island. This battery was about five-eighths of a mile distant from us, and we were keeping as near into it as we could, to avoid the fire of Fort Moultrie. Before we were fired upon we had discovered a red palmetto flag flying, but could see nothing to indicate that there was a battery there.

    We went into the harbor with the American ensign hoisted on the flagstaff, and as soon as the first shot was fired a full-sized garrison flag was displayed at our fore, but the one was no more respected than the other. We kept on, still under the fire of the battery, most of the balls passing over us, one just missing the machinery, another striking but a few feet from the rudder, while a ricochet shot struck us in the fore-chains, about two feet above the water line, and just below where the man was throwing the lead. The American flag Was flying at Fort Sumter, but we saw no flag at Fort Moultrie, and there were no guns fired from either of these fortifications.

    Finding it impossible to take my command to Fort Sumter, I was obliged most reluctantly to turn about, and try to make my way out of the harbor before my retreat should be cut off by vessels then in sight, supposed to be the cutter Aiken, coming down the channel in tow of a steamer, with the evident purpose of cutting us off. A brisk fire was kept up on us by the battery as long as we remained within range, but, fortunately, without damage to us, and we succeeded in recrossing the bar in safety, the steamer touching two or three times. Our course was now laid for New York Harbor, and we were followed for some hours by a steamer from Charleston for the purpose of watching us.

    During the whole trip downward the troops were kept out of sight whenever a vessel came near enough to us to distinguish them, and the morning we entered the harbor of Charleston they were sent down before daylight, and kept there until after we got out of the harbor again. From the preparations that had been made for us I have every reason to believe the Charlestonians were perfectly aware of our coming.

    We arrived in New York Harbor on the morning of the 12th instant, and disembarked at 8 o'clock this morning, the 13th, by orders from Headquarters of the Army.

    The conduct of the officers and men under my command during the whole trip, and particularly while under fire, was unexceptionable.

    Capt. John McGowan, commanding the steamer Star of the West, deserves the highest praise for the energy, perseverance, and ability displayed in trying to carry out his orders to put the troops in Fort Sumter. He was ably assisted by Mr. Walter Brewer, the New York pilot taken from this place.

    I am, colonel, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
    CHAS. R. WOODS,
    First Lieutenant, Ninth Infantry, Commanding.
    Col. L. THOMAS,
    Assistant Adjutant-General, U.S.A., Washington. D.C.
     
  5. M E Wolf

    M E Wolf Colonel Retired Moderator

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    O.R.-- SERIES I--VOLUME XIV [S# 20]
    JUNE 13, 1862.--Affair at White House, near Hilton Head, S.C.
    No. 2.--Report of Maj. Christopher Blanding, Third Rhode Island Artillery.

    NTRENCHMENTS, Hilton Head, S.C., June 19, 1862.
    GOVERNOR--DEAR SIR: I have the honor to inform you that a small affair occurred here a few days since which, though of itself not of much importance, yet in its results quite so. After the departure of the Charleston expedition our force within the intrenchments of all arms did not exceed 600 effective men. Colonel Brown, in command of the post, felt quite anxious for the safety of the garrison and the immense amount of stores here, and I, as commander of the Third here and all the intrenchments, felt no less so; therefore I have been required by the colonel commanding to visit all the outposts on this island once in two or three days. Last week on one of these reconnaissances I learned the enemy had been quite active on the main land at the White House, so called. The captain commanding the outpost furnished me a boat and 8 oarsmen for the purpose of visiting Pinckney Island, the nearest point to said house, where we had a small picket distant from the house about half a mile. On landing I discovered the enemy had increased their force there; had also collected a large number of boats, sufficient to cross 600 or 700 at one time; also established new pickets, all within two days; that they were constantly firing on our men and boats from the upper windows of the house, which, being three-story, gave them a decided advantage.

    On my return to camp I recommended the destruction of the boats and house by placing two 12-pounder howitzers on board of a steamer and shelling the place. But no steamer could be had, as the Charleston expedition had taken everything. I then proposed to the colonel to take a siege gun to the nearest point (which is Buckingham Ferry, distant 1 ½ miles) and shell them from there, under cover of which fire Lieutenant-Colonel Beaver, of the Forty-fifth Pennsylvania, who commands the outposts, could cross and destroy the boats. Colonel Beaver very heartily entered into the arrangement. So the next morning I took a 30-pounder Parrott gun, drawn by 14 horses, 2 wagons for ammunition, forage, and plank to cross poor bridges, and a detachment, consisting of 1 lieutenant, 1 sergeant, 2 corporals, and 22 privates, and marched from camp.

    I arrived at the scene of operations too early to commence, on account of the tide. I therefore masked my gun and wagons from the enemy until 5.30 p.m., when Colonel Beaver told me he was ready. I then opened fire. The third shell I put through the house (distant, as I said, about 2,500 yards), and the fourth and the fifth, having got the range exact, I shelled the woods and the road to Bluffton, and as the sun was about half an hour high Lieutenant-Colonel Beaver embarked in six boats from two different points with about 125 men. I continued shelling until they had nearly reached the opposite shore, when I ceased firing and awaited the result. The sun went down; there was no moon, and it shortly became very dark, as there is no twilight here. For one hour and a half I looked anxiously to the opposite shore, at the expiration of which time a glimmer of light was seen, then another, and another, and in a few minutes the White House and out-buildings were in a brilliant blaze. The sight was a beautiful one. The heavens were lit up with a lurid glare which could be seen far inland, and the enemy were admonished how they commenced their operations under our very nose. In a few moments boats were seen, and a blue light told me they were our friends, as I had told Colonel Beaver I should fire upon any boats approaching without that signal. Reverses were provided for, but none occurred. I told Colonel Beaver I should bring that gun back and did so. I waited until the buildings were consumed, then limbered up and marched back to camp, which I reached a little after midnight.

    I regret that I am unable to inclose Lieutenant-Colonel Beaver's report, as it has gone to headquarters. When, it returns I will forward a copy.

    The Parrott gun is a beautiful arm, but the projectile is faulty and not to be depended upon. About one shot in four would turn end over end. I endeavored to remedy it, and did in a measure by greasing them and packing the base with paper. The extreme range of the piece is about 4 miles, and very accurate when the projectile does not turn. I should have mentioned that after Colonel Beaver embarked I opened fire again and continued it until he had crossed.
    I have the honor to be, Governor, your obedient servant,
    C. BLANDING,
    Major, Comdg. Third R. I. Artillery, Hilton Head, S.C.
    His Excellency Gov. WILLIAM SPRAGUE,
    Providence, R. I.
     
  6. M E Wolf

    M E Wolf Colonel Retired Moderator

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    O.R.-- SERIES I--VOLUME XXVIII/1 [S# 46]
    Operations On The Coasts Of South Carolina And Georgia, And In Middle And East Florida.--June 12-December 31, 1863.
    No. 4.--Reports of General G. T. Beauregard, C. S Army, commanding Department of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, with thanks of Confederate Congress.(*)

    HDQRS. DEPT. SOUTH CAROLINA, GEORGIA, AND FLORIDA,
    Charleston, September 6, 1863--3.30 p.m.
    Brig. Gen. R. S. RIPLEY,
    Comdg. First Military District, Charleston, S.C.:
    The steamboats to take position near the south edge of channel, and about midway between Forts Johnson and Sumter. Small boats to ply between steamers and Cumming's Point. Should steamboats be driven from their position, must go to Fort Johnson. First trip of small boats to take off sick and wounded to the steamboats. First (and possibly the second) trip with troops to be landed at Sumter, the rest at steamers; if the steamboats are driven away by shot and shell, then at Johnson. The trips to be continued until all are off of Morris Island, notwithstanding shelling of the enemy. The troops landed at Sumter to be removed to steamers or Fort Johnson as soon as the transportation of the whole from Morris Island shall have been finished. A fast boat to be left behind for the dozen (about) officers who are to blow up magazines, burst guns, &c.

    Officers in Sumter must be notified of the intention to land troops at that work from Morris Island. All the batteries must be notified of this movement of small boats and steamers in the harbor to-night.

    When the officers left at Wagner and Gregg to explode magazines, &c., shall have gotten sufficiently far from Cumming's Point for our batteries to open on the site of those two works, those officers will set off from their boat three rockets, or make some other agreed signal, to notify the batteries that they can commence firing.

    A blue light at Gregg will indicate when the ten-minute fuses in Wagner are to be lighted. Those in Gregg are not to be lighted until the officers from Wagner shall have reported.

    Troops in Wagner and Gregg will march at proper times to Cumming's-Point beach by companies, each company being halted about 100 yards from position of boats. Their officers will then send them by squads equivalent to the capacity of each boat destined to receive them. All men must have their arms loaded on entering the boats, to defend themselves in case of necessity. The most complete silence and order must be maintained throughout the entire operation.
    G. T. BEAUREGARD,
    General, Commanding.
     
  7. M E Wolf

    M E Wolf Colonel Retired Moderator

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    O.R.-- SERIES I--VOLUME XXVIII/1 [S# 46]
    Operations On The Coasts Of South Carolina And Georgia, And In Middle And East Florida.--June 12-December 31, 1863.
    No. 5.--Extract from Journal(*) of Operations in Charleston Harbor, September 1-December 31, 1863.

    HARLESTON, S.C., September 1, 1863.
    Batteries Simkins, Cheves, and several of the enemy's Morris Island batteries have been in occasional action during the night; Battery Wagner firing steadily. Since 6 o'clock last night 213 shots were fired by our batteries and 129 by those of the enemy.
    7 a.m. Two vessels arrived from southward, laden.
    10.30. Enemy sent dispatch from Gregg's Hill to inlet:
    Landward began another 30-pounder battery to the left of 100-pounder.
    S --------, Colonel.
    Also
    When are you going to fire 200-pounder on city?
    (No signature.)
    [extensive excerpt]
    November 11, 1863.--The enemy's fleet inside the bar this morning have not materially changed, either in number or character of vessels, since yesterday.

    Last night a false alarm was created in Fort Sumter by the report of a blue light. The men got upon the ramparts with only a moderate amount of skulking.

    The usual firing was renewed against Fort Sumter to-day, both from the land batteries and monitors, and one shot carried away the flag-staff, which was promptly replaced by Sergeant [G. H.] Mayo, Company B, and Private Robert Autry, Company C, Twenty-eighth Georgia Volunteers. Twenty-three rifle shells were fired at Sumter, of which 13 missed: 196 mortar shells, 113 of which missed, and about 4 shots from the monitors.

    About 8 p.m. a calcium light was displayed at Gregg for the apparent purpose of illuminating the fort and preventing the location of obstructions at the slopes.

    At 9 p.m. rapid musketry firing was observed at Battery Gregg, while voices were heard to cry out Halt! It is supposed that two parties of the Yankees met on the beach, and, mistaking each other for enemies, commenced firing. The result of this affair has not been discovered. The firing continued for about ten minutes, during which time several hundred of small-arms were discharged.

    The only casualty in Sumter to-day was Sergeant [W. S.] Langford, Company G, First South Carolina Artillery, who was wounded in the head by a fragment of a shell.

    The enemy for the first time in many days opened fire this afternoon upon Fort Johnson and the adjacent batteries, and continued their practice for about two hours, but caused no damage to the work or its garrison. This fire was replied to by 16 shells from Simkins.

    The Orleans Guard Artillery ordered to Battery Bee
    [end of excerpt]
    ==========================================
    O.R.-- SERIES I--VOLUME XXVIII/1 [S# 46]
    AUGUST 17-DECEMBER 31, 1863.--Bombardment of Fort Sumter, S.C.
    No. 5.--Reports of Lieut. Col. Stephen Elliott, jr., C. S. Artillery, commanding Fort Sumter, of operations September 5-December 31.(+)
    [excerpt]

    September 7, 5 p.m.--From the repeated demands made for the surrender of this fort, I conclude that the enemy desires to possess it before it is demolished. In that event he will assault, probably, after a bombardment. I would suggest that our batteries be directed to have their guns manned at nights, and trained with the axis of their pieces perfectly horizontal, as this fire keeps the projectiles always near the surface of the water. Grape from our large gun would be effective at their present distance. In addition to the rockets, a blue light will be displayed on the threatened face. No opportunity for reducing the garrison has occurred since the receipt of the order. I object to its reduction. All the appliances for resisting assaults should be furnished me. Greek-fire, hand-grenades, and turpentine should be sent down. The west face of the wreck should be mined.

    [end of excerpt]
     
  8. M E Wolf

    M E Wolf Colonel Retired Moderator

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    O.R.-- SERIES I--VOLUME XXVIII/2 [S# 47]
    Correspondence, Orders, And Returns Relating To Operations On The Coasts Of South Carolina And Georgia, And In Middle And East Florida, From June 12 To December 31, 1863.
    CONFEDERATE CORRESPONDENCE, ETC.--#14

    CIRCULAR.] HEADQUARTERS FIRST MILITARY DISTRICT,
    Mount Pleasant, November 8, 1863.
    In view of the possibility of an attempt on the part of the enemy to effect a landing on Sullivan's Island or the Mount Pleasant shore, by a coup de main, the following general instructions are given, and will be carefully studied by commanders of positions, regiments, batteries, and companies. The whole shore of Sullivan's Island, from Breach Inlet to the westward of Fort Moultrie, will continue to be heavily picketed every night, at intervals not exceeding 100 yards. These intervals will be reduced to 50 on that part of the shore from in front of the ruins of the Pinckney House to Battery Rutledge. Three men will be kept on each post, and a reserve will be kept in hand at a distance of about 50 yards from the center of the line of pickets furnished by each command. The picket duty will be performed by each regiment of Brigadier-General Cling-man's and Colonel Hamilton's commands in the front of their respective positions, in order that in case of retiring each advanced party will rally on its own command without confusion. Brigadier-General Clingman's pickets will extend to the front of the covered way between Battery Rutledge and Fort Moultrie.

    The artillery on duty at the several batteries will keep a strict guard on their batteries, and their commanders will be in communication each night with the commanders of the pickets in their front. They will receive instructions from the commanding officers of the brigades or commands whence they come, to insure such communications. The whole remaining strength of the forces on Sullivan's Island will be held in readiness for instant service; and so soon as the instructions are given to that effect, each regiment and battalion will take up its position in line of battle, just after dark, and sleep upon its arms. The horses of the light artillery will be kept harnessed in readiness during the night, and when the infantry sleeps upon its arms, the guns will also be in position. The troops of Colonel Hamilton's command will occupy and support Battery Marshall, and cover the ground between that position and 200 yards to the west of the second battery in that direction. The troops of General Cling-man's command will occupy the ground on the west, and extend to Battery Rutledge, he giving particular attention to the full support of Battery Beauregard and the defense of the curlew ground between that battery and the sand-hills.

    When the troops sleep on their arms in line of battle, their position will be in advance, and between the fixed batteries and the position of light artillery, care being taken not to mask the direct fire of those batteries. Commanding officers must keep in communication with the artillery officers, to direct their fire, so as not to interfere with the operations of our own troops. Three hundred men or more from Col. L. M. Keitt's command at Mount Pleasant, will continue to report, and take position nightly for the support of the works west of and including Battery Rutledge. So soon as possible, a light battery and a regiment or battalion will be added to General Clingman's command, and the force from Colonel Keitt's west of Fort Moultrie will be increased upon an emergency, so far as means will permit. Meantime, should occasion require it, Brigadier-General Clingman is authorized to call on Colonel Hamilton for a section of Captain Jeter's battery.

    The commanding officers of batteries will be furnished with rockets for signals. Commanders of pickets will also be furnished with blue lights, and commanders of regiments or battalions with Roman candles; and the pickets of each regiment or battalion will also be supplied with tarred links or light balls; if possible, one to each 100 yards to be occupied. Each commander and officer will take with him matches, or means of quick ignition. The signal and light materials will be used only on an emergency, and each morning on the returning of the advanced parties these will be brought in and carefully protected from the weather, so as to be in readiness for immediate use.

    The above are the general dispositions to be made for guarding against and repelling an attack. This, it is believed, will be made at two or three points, at very nearly the same moment, should the attempt be made to carry the island by a coup de main. Should the attempt be made to carry the upper end at Battery Marshall, with the intention of operating by regular siege, the operations will, of course, be slow, and directions can be modified to suit the circumstances.

    With reference to the assault by boats, it is apprehended that an attack will be made at Battery Marshall, and one or two others, on the beach westward toward Batteries Beauregard and Rutledge. On the approach of boats at any part of the shore, however, they are to be attacked by the pickets, who will deliver their fire as accurately and as rapidly as possible. The commanding officer of the pickets will support them with the reserves, and will cause a signal to be made that he is attacked at that point, by burning a blue light, which immediately after ignition will be thrown, if possible, into a boat; at the same time he will cause the links and light balls, which should previously have been placed in a line near the shore, to be in readiness to be fired, and will send word of the state of things to the commander of his supporting force in rear. The latter will be in readiness to support or cover his pickets, as the case may require.

    Commanding officers of pickets on the right and left will cause their links and light balls to be in readiness for ignition; and if the attack extend in their direction, will act as just before described. Should the attack not be repulsed by the fire of the advance before retiring, the links and light balls will be fired, and the pickets will fall back quietly, and in as good order as possible, on the main body.

    Care must be taken to have the lights well ignited, as on that the prevention of the confusion, which is to be guarded against in night operations, will in a great measure depend. The main body of the troops opposite the point attacked will hold its position. Pickets in the immediate vicinity will also retire on their supports, being careful to light up the ground they leave.

    So soon as the front is cleared of the advance, the fixed light batteries, which will bear on the point of the enemy's landing, will be opened, with grape principally, to strike the beach within about 50 yards of the shore. The infantry will also pour in its fire heavily and steadily, endeavoring to cause its shots to ricochet, aiming low and carefully.

    [excerpt]
    The above are the general instructions which occur in preparing for repulsing a sudden attack with the present force. It is the wish of the brigadier-general commanding that they be studied and understood by all the officers of the command.
    R. S. RIPLEY,
    Brigadier-General, Commanding.
    -----
     
  9. M E Wolf

    M E Wolf Colonel Retired Moderator

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    There are reports of "blue light" as a signal for Confederate artillery to start.

    And....

    Navy O.R.-- Series II--Volume 1
    Statistical Data Of Ships.
    United States Vessels. "A"-"C"

    U. S. S. BLUE LIGHT.
    Acquisition.--Purchased.
    Description.--Powder tug.
    Disposition.--Sold, September 27, 1883, to M. H. Gregory, Great Neck, Long Island, for $1,011.
    Remarks.--Total cost of repairs while in naval service was $18,297.37.

    Navy O.R.-- Series I--Volume 1 [S# 1]
    Operations Of The Cruisers--Union.
    From January 19, 1861, To January 31, 1863. pp. 203-262

    T. THOMAS, December 3, 1861.
    SIR: On my arrival at St. Pierre, Martinique, I immediately took up my quarters on board the American topsail schooner Windward, Steele, master, where I was cordially received as soon as I made known my mission.

    I engaged Mr. Rice, mate of the late schooner Daniel Trowbridge (who has lately been released from captivity on board the Sumter), Mr. Partnage, mate of the schooner Windward, and Mr. Crocker, second mate of the same, for the purpose of keeping watch on the position of the steamer Sumter and the Iroquois, which were duly made known to me at each relief of watch.

    I obtained a powerful night glass, as without it I found it impossible to keep watch on the Sumter, in consequence of the almost impenetrable darkness under the high land of Martinique. Watch was strictly kept up to the night of the 23d ultimo. At 8 o'clock p.m. on the 23d of November the Sumter cast off her stern lines, slipped her port chain, and steamed out, heading S. W. at about 5 knots an hour. When I perceived her 2 miles distant from her moorings and about two-thirds of a mile from the southern point of the Bay of St. Pierre, I discharged one blue light and thirty seconds after discharged a second light.

    I immediately discovered the Iroquois standing in for the land, both vessels in sight, the Sumter inshore, where she could easily discern the position of the Iroquois. On the approach of the latter the Sumter ported her helm, stood back for the harbor, and stopped fifteen minutes under the stern of the French war steamer Acheron.

    The Iroquois continued to the southward until hidden from sight by the southern point of the harbor. As soon as the Sumter perceived the Iroquois standing into Fort Royal Bay she steamed up the land to the northward, about one-half cable length from shore. Thirty-five minutes after the departure of the Iroquois she came in sight again at full speed, standing into the harbor, as if to observe whether the Sumter had not returned to her moorings, and then continued to the northward.

    I should have signalized the return of the Sumter, but immediately after the second blue light was fired the captain's gig of the Acheron, with an officer of that vessel, was alongside the schooner, and I was not able to come off in consequence of all communication with the Iroquois being prohibited, and a special armed force being placed immediately over the vessel in which I kept watch.

    I am fully convinced that every facility was afforded the Sumter in her escape. She had an experienced pilot on board for the purpose of taking her through the reefs to the eastward of Martinique in case of pursuit by the Iroquois. I have been correctly informed that the Sumter took refuge under the northern point of the island and there lay for two hours and thirty minutes, when she discharged her pilot and proceeded to sea. One of the French war steamer's boats was in the vicinity of the spot where the Sumter took refuge. I, as all engaged in watching the Sumter, was fully convinced of the utter impossibility of her being discovered by the Iroquois in the offshore position which the authorities of Martinique compelled her to observe.

    As soon as possible after the departure of both vessels I took passage on board the U. S. S. Dacotah for St. Thomas, and in compliance with Captain McKinstry's orders piloted that vessel to Basse Terre and Pointe à Pitre, Guadeloupe, from thence to St. Eustatius and St. Bartholomew, and then to St. Thomas, where I arrived and reported myself at the consulate of the United States of America.
    I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,
    H. A. ANANDALE.
    Captain PALMER,
    U. S. S. Iroquois.
     
  10. M E Wolf

    M E Wolf Colonel Retired Moderator

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    Navy O.R.-- Series I--Volume 1 [S# 1]
    Operations Of The Cruisers--Union.
    From January 19, 1861, To January 31, 1863. pp. 552-609

    Report of Acting Master's Mate Keene, U. S. Navy, U. S. S. San Jacinto, relative to the escape of C. S. S. Alabama (290).
    SLOOP OF WAR SAN JACINTO,
    November 23, 1862.
    SIR: In obedience to your orders I herewith make a report of my boat expedition to watch the pirate Alabama, while she was being blockaded in the bay of Fort Royal, Martinique, by this ship. On the night of the 19th of this month I left; the ship's side I should judge at about half past 6 o'clock, and proceeded to the south Side of the bay, according to orders, with a blue light as a signal. I lost sight of the ship in ten minutes after leaving the side, as it was very dark and cloudy and she was shut in by the land; it was raining a little at the time.

    I arrived over to the south side of the bay to within about half a mile of the land, and got soundings in 15 fathoms water. At this time I saw three rockets fired from where I judged the Alabama to lay, and to the southward. I pulled up the lead and watched, and went up toward where she lay, but saw nothing of her. I then got in a position where the land was lowest, so that I could see her in case she went between me and the shore, and lay there for about an hour, and then went toward where I judged her to lie, but could not see anything of her. Previous to this and soon after the rockets were fired, I saw a light outside of where I lay, which I judged must have been one of her signals, as it went out of sight two or three times. I heard some voices on the water and thought it was her boat, but when she came close to, I found that it was a shore boat, although she might have been the one that gave the signals. I lay off and on until morning, but saw nothing.

    ust before daylight I started for the ship, as I did not want to stop and be seen by the Alabama in case she was there by daylight.
    I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
    HENRY T. KEENE,
    Acting Master's Mate, U. S. Navy.
    [Commander WM. RONCKENDORFF,
    U. S. Sloop San Jacinto.]
    -----
     
  11. M E Wolf

    M E Wolf Colonel Retired Moderator

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    Navy O.R.-- Series I--Volume 2 [S# 2]
    Operations Of The Cruisers--Confederate.
    From January 1, 1863, To March 31, 1864. pp. 714-808

    Letter from the governor of the Cape of Good Hope to the Duke of Newcastle, announcing the seizure, by his order, of the C. S. tender Tuscaloosa
    GOVERNMENT HOUSE,
    Cape Town, January 11, 1864.
    My LORD DUKE: I very much regret having to acquaint your Grace that the Confederate prize vessel the Tuscaloosa, has again entered Simon's Bay, and that the naval commander in chief and myself have come to the conclusion that, in obedience to the orders transmitted to his Excellency by the admiralty and to me by your Grace's dispatch of the 4th November last, it was our duty to take possession of the vessel and to hold her until properly claimed by her original owners.
    [extensive excerpt]
    Further examination of the case of the Conrad.
    From an examination of the correspondence in this case, brought on board after the shifts papers had been examined, it appeared that Mr. Armstrong, the English party shipping a part of the cargo, swears before his consul that he and one Dr. Frederico Elortondo are the owners of the property, and swears before the U.S. consul that he is the sole owner of the property, Both of these oaths can not be true. It further appears that while the property in the bill of lading is consigned to Simon de Visser, esq., in the letters to Messrs. Kirkland & Von Sachs it is spoken of as consigned to them. These letters make no mention, either, of any joint ownership with Armstrong, but treat the consignment as his sole property.

    [excerpt]
    Sunday, June 28.--Weather cloudy, with a long, heavy swell from the S. W.; wind moderate from the S.E. At 4:30 this morning we brought to a heavy ship with a blank cartridge, or rather she seemed to come to of her own accord, as she was evidently outsailing us and was, when we fired, at very long range. Soon after heaving to she burned a blue light, and while our boat with a light in it was pulling toward her she burned another. She afterwards said that she would not have hove to but that she thought we might be in distress. The boarding officer reported us as the U. S. S. Dacotah, and demanded to see the ship's papers, which was refused, the master telling him that he had no right to see his papers. The boarding officer having been informed of her name (the Vernon), and that she was from Melbourne for London, and being satisfied from observation that she was really an English ship, she being one of the frigate-built Melbournepackets so well known, returned on board, and the ship filled away, and she was already at considerable distance from us when I received the boarding officer's report. Under all these circumstances I did not chase him afresh to enforce my belligerent right of search. Cui bono, the vessel being really English? Although, indeed, the resistance to search by a neutral is good cause of capture, I could only capture to destroy, and I would not burn an English ship (being satisfied of her nationality) if the master persisted in not showing his papers. Nor did I feel that the Confederate States flag had any insult to revenge, as the insult, if any, was intended for the Yankee flag. Most probably, however, the ship being a packet ship;' and a mail packet, the master erred from ignorance.

    [end of excerpt]
    ==================================
    Navy O.R.-- Series I--Volume 3 [S# 3]
    Operations Of The Cruisers--Union.
    From April 1, 1864, To December 30, 1865. pp. 160-200

    U. S. S. BRITANNIA,
    Off New Inlet, N. C., August 26, 1864.
    SIR: On getting underway last evening I ran in on the southern part of No. 2 station, keeping the Mound light bearing from W. by S. to W. S. W. At 9:45 saw a rocket about N. E. thrown toward S. W., and shortly after several rockets were seen thrown in different directions, with considerable firing. Went to quarters. Saw one green or blue light and two Coston challenges burned to N. E. Saw no answer. At 10:15 exchanged signals with Niphon to southward. Backed ship slowly into 4½ fathoms, Mound light bearing W. S. W. ½ W. Much signaling from Fort Fisher, the Mound, and batteries to northward. At 10:30 ship in 4½ to 4¾ fathoms water, heading about S. E.; saw a stranger on our port quarter running alongshore toward Fort Fisher. Put the helm hard aport and went ahead fast, and fired as soon as the guns would bear. Continued firing and chasing until she was close under Fort Fisher, in white water, the breakers being between us and her. She fired one shrapnel at us, which burst close aboard, cutting our starboard paddle box a little. The Mound also fired at us, and the stranger being past Fort Fisher, we hauled off into 5½ fathoms. I feel confident that two shells took effect on her; one from 12-pounder rifled howitzer exploded directly over her, lighting up her decks and showing that she was a white propeller with two smokestacks and one mast. At about 1 o'clock a.m. saw several rockets and guns to N. E. Saw no vessel, though the middle and latter part of the night heard continued firing from direction of Fort Caswell.
    Very respectfully,
    SAMUEL HUSE,
    Acting Volunteer Lieutenant, Commanding.
    Acting Rear-Admiral S. P. LEE,
    Comdg. North Atlantic Blockading Squadron, Beaufort, N. C.
    -----Navy O.R.-- Series I--Volume 3 [S# 3]
    Operations Of The Cruisers--Union.
    From April 1, 1864, To December 30, 1865. pp. 250-300

    U.S. IRONCLAD ATLANTA,
    Off Newport News, Va., November 28, 1864.
    SIR: I respectfully submit to you a report of the sinking of the prize steamer Florida, which reported here on the 25th instant with orders to lie under the guns of this vessel. She was moored, as ordered above (within range of our guns), with the assistance of men from this vessel, lying with open hawse to northwest and 45 fathoms on each chain, in 9 fathoms water, she leaking very badly at the time. At 1 o'clock 28th instant the signal of distress which had been agreed upon (the burning of a blue light) was made on board the Florida. I immediately sent an armed boat's crew in charge of Acting Ensign [Henry] Wakefield up to her to ascertain the cause of trouble. Mr. Wakefield soon returned and reported the Florida in a sinking condition, fires out, and filling rapidly, and requiring assistance. I sent two boats' crews on board and went on board myself first giving orders to have steam ready and cables ready for slipping on board the Atlanta.

    When I got on board the Florida I found, as had been reported, the fires out and the water within 18 inches of the berth deck, and rising very rapidly. Captain Baker had been working the main hand pumps, which were the only ones that could be got to work with any effect. The men and officers were then getting their personal effects into the boats, and our men assisted until they were all in the boats alongside, when the pumps were again manned and bailing parties placed at the hatches aft to lend all assistance possible, but with all that it did not appear to have any effect, for the water rose very rapidly. The pumping and bailing was continued vigorously until the water came over the berth deck, when it was deemed useless to continue it longer, as there was no possible hope of keeping her afloat for any length of time, and, not knowing how soon she might go down, all the boats were ordered to drop off from the vessel and await orders. Captain Baker and myself remained on board until the water was within 3 feet of the spar deck, and, supposing she would soon go down, all the boats were ordered to go alongside the Atlanta and put everything on board there which had been taken from the Florida. It was then about 5 a.m. I soon after went on shore and telegraphed you that the Florida was sinking, and as I started off I saw the tug Columbus coming up from Fort Monroe. I pulled alongside and asked the captain if he would take the Florida in tow and try to get her into shoal water, provided the chains could be slipped in time. He said he would do so. I then boarded the Florida again with Captain Baker, and the tug came up alongside to give out the towrope, but found it was too late, as the water was then flowing over her spar deck and the ship had commenced sinking, at the same time listing to port. I ordered the tug to drop off and I also pulled away clear of her, and had but just time to get away when she went down stern foremost, and now lies with a list to port with tops just even with the water. As soon as she went down I went on shore and sent another telegram to you, informing you of the fact. She went down at 7 a.m. The officers and men which belonged to her are now on board this vessel, with the exception of Captain Baker, who went down to the fort to report to you in person. I could not ascertain the cause of the leak, but the supposition was that one of the pipes leading outboard had burst.

    Captain Baker will probably give you a more detailed account of the sad occurrence, but I deemed it my duty to also submit a report of what came under my observation concerning the affair. Considerable rigging and all the spars above the tops can be saved, but I have not taken anything off as yet, as I thought it proper to await orders from you before doing so.

    I will keep a light at night on the spars above water as a guide to passing steamers to avoid her.
    I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
    THOS. J. WOODWARD,
    Acting Volunteer Lieutenant, Commanding.
    Rear-Admiral D. D. PORTER,
    Commanding North Atlantic Squadron.
    -----
     
  12. M E Wolf

    M E Wolf Colonel Retired Moderator

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    Navy O.R.-- Series I--Volume 5 [S# 5]
    Atlantic Blockading Squadron.
    From April 4 To July 15, 1861. pp. 615-649
    Letter from Flag-Officer Pendergrast, U. S. Navy, commanding Home Squadron, to Flag-Officer Stringham, U. S. Navy, commanding Coast Blockading Squadron, informing him of the names of the vessels composing the blockading force.
    U. S. FLAGSHIP CUMBERLAND,
    Off Fortress Monroe, Va., May 13, 1861.
    SIR: I have the honor to inform you that the following vessels compose the blockading squadron in these waters: Cumberland, steamer Star [Monticello], Quaker City, steam tug Yankee, and steamer Harriet Lane, and steam tug Young America, used as a tender to this ship.

    I beg also to inform you that the commandant of Fortress Monroe and myself have agreed upon the following night signals: In case of an alarm, a blue light will be burned; in case of an attack, a rocket will be sent up.

    The fortress fires a gun in case of an attack.
    Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
    G. J. PENDERGRAST,
    Flag-Officer, Commanding Home Squadron.
    Flag-Officer SILAS H. STRINGHAM,
    Commanding U. S. Blockading Squadron, Hampton Roads.
    -----

    Many more Naval reports of the use of a Coston blue light and or blue light; seems red, white and green lights were also used.

    Let me know if you need 'more' on blue lights.

    M. E. Wolf
    Jan. 15, 2012 (7:58 p.m.)
     
  13. M E Wolf

    M E Wolf Colonel Retired Moderator

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    O.R.-- SERIES I--VOLUME XXVIII/1 [S# 46]
    Operations On The Coasts Of South Carolina And Georgia, And In Middle And East Florida.--June 12-December 31, 1863.
    No. 5.--Extract from Journal(*) of Operations in Charleston Harbor, September 1-December 31, 1863.

    CHARLESTON, S.C., September 1, 1863.
    Batteries Simkins, Cheves, and several of the enemy's Morris Island batteries have been in occasional action during the night; Battery Wagner firing steadily. Since 6 o'clock last night 213 shots were fired by our batteries and 129 by those of the enemy.
    7 a.m. Two vessels arrived from southward, laden.
    10.30. Enemy sent dispatch from Gregg's Hill to inlet:
    Landward began another 30-pounder battery to the left of 100-pounder.
    S --------, Colonel.
    Also
    When are you going to fire 200-pounder on city?
    (No signature.)
    [extensive excerpt]
    October 15, 1863.--Raining again this morning, and too hazy to get report of the fleet.
    To-day was exceedingly quiet, and the enemy did not fire a single shot, although Batteries Simkins and Cheves were in slow action, the former firing 33 rounds and the latter 10 rounds.

    The mortar platform No. 2 at Battery Haskell was completed today, and the work on the bomb-proof is being pushed forward.

    An unfortunate accident occurred this morning with the submarine boat, by which Capt. F. L. Hunley and 7 men lost their lives, in an attempt to run under the navy receiving ship. The boat left the wharf at 9.25 a.m. and disappeared at 9.35. As soon as she sunk, air bubbles were seen to rise to the surface of the water, and from this fact it is supposed the hole in the top of the boat by which the men entered was not properly closed. It was impossible at the time to make any effort to rescue the unfortunate men, as the water was some 9 fathoms deep.

    [end of excerpt]
    =============================================
    O.R.-- SERIES I--VOLUME XXVIII/2 [S# 47]
    Correspondence, Orders, And Returns Relating To Operations On The Coasts Of South Carolina And Georgia, And In Middle And East Florida, From June 12 To December 31, 1863.
    CONFEDERATE CORRESPONDENCE, ETC.--#17

    SPECIAL ORDERS, No. 271.
    HDQRS. DEPT. S.C., GA., AND FLA.,
    Charleston, S.C., December 14, 1863.
    * * * * * * * * * *
    VII. First Lieut. George E. Dixon, Twenty-first Regiment Alabama Volunteers, will take command and direction of the submarine torpedo-boat H. L. Hunley, and proceed to-night to the mouth of the harbor, or as far as capacity of the vessel will allow, and will sink and destroy any vessel of the enemy with which he can come in conflict.

    All officers of the Confederate army in this department are commanded, and all naval officers are requested, to give such assistance to Lieutenant Dixon in the discharge of his duties as may be practicable, should he apply therefor.
    By command of General Beauregard:
    JNO. M. OTEY,
    Assistant Adjutant-General.
    -----------------------------------------------
    O.R.-- SERIES I--VOLUME XXX/2 [S# 51]
    AUGUST 16-SEPTEMBER 22, 1863.--The Chickamauga Campaign.
    No. 235.--Organization of the Army of Tennessee, General Braxton Bragg, C. S. Army, commanding, September 19-20, 1863.(*)

    Clayton's Brigade.
    Brig. Gen. HENRY D. CLAYTON.
    18th Alabama:
    Col. J. T. Holtzclaw.
    Lieut. Col. R. F. Inge.
    Maj. P. F. Hunley. (Peter F. Hunley)
    36th Alabama, Col. Lewis T. Woodruff.
    38th Alabama, Lieut. Col. A. R. Lankford.
    ---------------------------------------------------------

    Navy O.R.-- Series II--Volume 1
    Index -- Confederate States Vessels.
    C. S. S. HUNLEY.
    Acquisition.--Built at Mobile, Ala., in 1863, in the shops of Park & Lyons, by her designer, Hunley, McClintock, and Watson.
    Description.--Submarine torpedo boat.
    Dimensions.--Internal, height 5'; breadth 4'.
    Speed.--In smooth water and light current, 4 miles an hour.
    Disposition.--Sunk with the U. S. S. Housatonic, which vessel she torpedoed, February 17, 1864, off Charleston, S.C.
    Remarks.--Motive power, a hand propeller, worked by eight men.
    -------------------------------------------------
    O.R.-- SERIES I--VOLUME XXXV/1 [S# 65]
    JANUARY 1-NOVEMBER 13, 1864.--Operations in Charleston Harbor and Vicinity, S.C.
    No. 28.--Reports of General G. T. Beauregard, C. S. Army, commanding Department of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, of operations January 14-April 19.

    CHARLESTON, S.C., February 21, 1864.
    GENERAL: A gun-boat sunken off Battery Marshall. Supposed to have been done by Mobile torpedo-boat, under Lieut. George E. Dixon, Company E, Twenty-first Alabama Volunteers, which went out for that purpose, and which, I regret to say, has not been heard of since.
    G. T. BEAUREGARD.
    -----
     
  14. M E Wolf

    M E Wolf Colonel Retired Moderator

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    Navy O.R.-- Series 1--Volume 15 [S# 15]
    South Atlantic Blockading Squadron,
    From October 1, 1863, To September 30, 1864. pp. 300-362

    Report of Lieutenant-Colonel Dantzler, C. S. Army.
    HEADQUARTERS BATTERY MARSHALL,
    Sullivan's Island, February 19, 1864.
    LIEUTENANT: I have the honor to report that the torpedo boat stationed at this post went out on the night of the 17th instant (Wednesday) and has not yet returned. The signals agreed upon to be given in case the boat wished a light to be exposed at this post as a guide for its return were observed and answered. An earlier report would have been made of this matter, but the officer of the day for yesterday was under the impression that the boat had returned, and so informed me. As soon as I became apprised of the fact I sent a telegram to Captain Nance, assistant adjutant-general, notifying him of it.
    Very respectfully,
    O. M. DANTZLER,
    Lieutenant-Colonel.
    Lieutenant JOHN A. WILSON,
    Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.
    ---
    Endorsement.]
    FEBRUARY 20, 1864.
    As soon as its fate shall have been ascertained, pay a proper tribute to the gallantry and patriotism of its crew and officers.
    G. T. BEAUREGARD,
    General, Commanding.
    -----
    [Telegram.]
    CHARLESTON, S. C., February 21, 1864.
    GENERAL: A gunboat sunken off Battery Marshall. Supposed to have been done by Mobile torpedo boat, under Lieutenant George E. Dixon, Company E, Twenty-first Alabama Volunteers, which went out for that purpose, and which I regret to say has not been heard of since.
    G. T. BEAUREGARD.
    -----
    [Telegram.]
    CHARLESTON, S. C., February 27, 1864.
    Prisoners report that it was the U. S. ship of war Housatonic, 12 guns, which was sunk on night 17th instant by the submarine torpedo boat, Lieutenant Dixon, of Alabama, commanding. There is little hope of safety of that brave man and his associates, however, as they were not captured.
    G. T. BEAUREGARD,
    General, Commanding.
    General S. COOPER,
    Adjutant and Inspector-General, U. S. Army, Richmond, Va.
    ---------------
    [Extract from Charleston Daily Courier, February 29, 1864.]
    On Friday night about half past 9 o'clock one of our naval picket boats, under command of Boatswain J. M. Smith, captured a Yankee picket boat off Fort Sumter containing 1 commissioned officer and 5 men. A large barge, which was in company with the captured boat, managed to escape. The officer taken prisoner is Midshipman William H. Kitching, acting master's mate of the United States blockading steamer Nipsic. The rest of the prisoners are landsmen.

    By the prisoners we learn that the blockader sunk by our torpedo boat on the night of the 16th instant was the United States steam sloop of war Housatonic, carrying 12 guns and a crew of 300 men. They state that the torpedo boat, cigar shape, was first seen approaching by the watch on board the Housatonic. The alarm was given, and immediately all hands beat to quarters. A rapid musketry fire was opened upon the boat, but without effect. Being unable to depress their guns, the order was given to slip the cable. In doing this, the Housatonic backed some distance and came in collision with the cigar boat. The torpedo exploded almost immediately, carrying away the whole stern of the vessel. The steamer sunk in three minutes' time, the officers and crew barely escaping to the rigging. Everything else on board--guns, stores, ammunition, etc., together with the small boats--went down with her. The explosion made no noise and the affair was not known among the fleet until daybreak, when the crew was discovered and released from their uneasy positions. They had remained there all night. Two officers and three men are reported missing and supposed to be drowned. The loss of the Housatonic caused great consternation in the fleet. All the wooden vessels are ordered to keep up steam and go out to sea every night, not being allowed to anchor inside. The picket boats have been doubled and the force in each boat, increased.

    This glorious success of our little torpedo boat, under the command of Lieutenant Dixon, of Mobile, has raised the hopes of our people, and the most sanguine expectations are now entertained of our being able to raise the siege in a way little dreamed of by the enemy. The capture of the picket boat reflects great credit on the gallant boatswain in charge of our barge, as well as on the unceasing vigilance and energy of Lieutenant J. H. Rochelle, commanding the naval picket detachment on board the Indian Chief. He has watched the operations of these picket intruders for some time past, and planned the movements for taking some of them in out of the wet.
    -----
    Letter from General Beauregard, C. S. Army, to Mr. Leary, announcing the probable loss of the torpedo boat H. L. Hunley and her commanding officer.
    HEADQUARTERS, ETC., March 10, 1864.
    SIR: I am directed by the commanding general to inform you that it was the torpedo boat H. L. Hunley that destroyed the Federal man-of-war Housatonic, and that Lieutenant Dixon commanded the expedition, but I regret to say that nothing since has been heard either of Lieutenant Dixon or the torpedo boat. It is therefore feared that that gallant officer and his brave companions have perished.
    Respectfully, your obedient servant,
    H. W. FELDEN,
    Captain and Assistant Adjutant-General.
    H. J. LEARY, Esq.,
    Marietta, Ga.
    -----
    Letter from Captain Gray, C. S. Army, to Major-General Maury, C. S. Army, regarding the loss of the H. L. Hunley and her crew.
    OFFICE SUBMARINE DEFENSES,
    Charleston, S. C., April 29, 1864.
    GENERAL: In answer to a communication of yours, received through headquarters, relative to Lieutenant Dixon and crew, I beg leave to state that I was not informed as to the service in which Lieutenant Dixon was engaged or under what orders he was acting. I am informed that he requested Commodore Tucker to furnish him some men, which he did. Their names are an follows, viz: Arnold Becker, C. Simkins, James A. Wicks, F. Collins, and ---- Ridgeway, all of the Navy, and Corporal C. F. Carlsen, of Captain Wagener's company of artillery.

    The United States sloop of war was attacked and destroyed on the night of the 17th of February. Since that time no information has been received of either the boat or crew. I am of the opinion that, the torpedoes being placed at the bow of the boat, she went into the hole made in the Housatonic by explosion of torpedoes and did not have sufficient power to back out, consequently sunk with her.
    I have the honor to be, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
    M. M. GRAY,
    Captain in Charge of Torpedoes.
    Major-General DABNEY H. MAURY,
    Mobile, Ala.
     
  15. Chris Rucker

    Chris Rucker Private

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    Excellent examples of the use of pyrotechnic blue light signals. Coston's Telegraphic Night Signals were another type of signal, and are discussed in Martha Coston's book, available online in a Google Book search (she was the widow who worked her husband's invention into a marketable product and sold it to the US government). Her patent is available on line, under a Google Patents search. Note that the original patent called for a patriotic red, white and blue color scheme, but that the blue was found to be poorly visible at any significant distance, so that green was substituted for the blue; red, white and green Coston's signals were the scheme used by the Federals during the Civil War. There was yet another system of pyrotechnic signals, which came on line between the long-used blue light and the recently introduced Coston's system: Navy Colored Lights, in blue, red and white, were used contemporaneously with the old blue light, and the new Coston's signals. What is important for the Hunley and Housatonic engagement is that any signal given was pyrotechnic, and not the blue lantern so often (mis)represented.

    Regards,

    Chris Rucker
     
  16. Arioch

    Arioch Sergeant

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    Sometimes it just takes complaining until your blue in the face to get anyone to listen to the truth....makes you want to curse a blue streak, now don't it?
     
  17. pamc153PA

    pamc153PA Captain Forum Host

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    Didn't Jackson's men call him, among other things, Old Blue Light, or something like that? I thought it was because his eyes were blue (were they??), but maybe his men meant something else. . .
     
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  18. Nathanb1

    Nathanb1 Brev. Brig. Gen'l Retired Moderator

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    He was special......:dance: I'll be here all week, folks.
     
  19. pamc153PA

    pamc153PA Captain Forum Host

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    Time for another week of school to begin.
     
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  20. Arioch

    Arioch Sergeant

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    yes, you are correct....the nickname came from his eccentricities and how his eyes seemed to 'light up' at the prospect of, and during battle.
     
  21. Chris Rucker

    Chris Rucker Private

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    No, that is not correct. He was called "Old Blue Light" because of his outward religiosity. "Blue Light" was a derisive term applied to the overtly religious officers in the British navy, because their religious zeal burned with the intensity of the pyrotechnic blue light signal so familiar to sailors in the 18th and 19th centuries. Jackson earned the scorn of his students at VMI because of his numerous peculiarities, and they labeled him "Old Blue Light" as well as "Tom Fool." Consult the Wikipedia entry for Jackson, where I have referenced an academic citation, as well as a poem entitled "Jackson's Way," both confirming the origin of the "Old Blue Light" nickname.

    Regards,
    Chris Rucker


     
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