Maple Leaf (1851-1864)

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robfergusonjr

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MLship.jpg
The U.S.S. Maple Leaf was a 181-foot side wheel steamer that is now found as a partial shipwreck in Jacksonville, Florida.

In 1851, the ship was launched from the Marine Railway Yard in Kingston, Ontario.

Henry W. Dale commanded the side-wheel steamer since August of 1862.

On September 2, 1862, J.H.B. Lang and Charles Spear of Boston bought the Maple Leaf from Josiah P. Dewey of Cobourg, Ontario and George Schofield of Rochester, New York. The next day the ship was charted for the U.S. Army by Charles Spear to Assistant Quartermaster Captain William W. McKim.

In the summer of 1863, the Maple Leaf was captured by Confederate prisoners. The Daily Dispatch, a newspaper, wrote on June 25, 1863:

On the evening of June 2d the steamship Cahawba left New Orleans, having on board Billy Wilson’s Zouaves, who were returning to New York, their enlistment having expired, and about fifty Confederate officers. Prisoners of war. ON the 8th she anchored off Fortress Monroe, and the Confederates were then transferred to the steamer Utica. On board the Cahawba the treatment they received at the hands of the Federals could not have been bettered. They received the same accommodations as the Federal officers, and no restraint whatever was placed over them. When transferred to the Utica there was a change for the worse. The fare we received was bread, bacon, and coffee—all of the poorest quality. But little attention was paid to what we did or how we fared. On board this steamer, as also before leaving New Orleans, was discussed the practicability of capturing the steamer and escaping, and it was generally resolved that if opportunity offered we were to take possession of the vessel to which we might be transferred, and then try to make our way to the Confederate lines.

On the 9th, about 2 P. M., we were transferred to the steamer Maple Leaf, and immediately steamed up to Fort Norfolk, where we lay all night. On the morning of the 10th, forty-seven other C. S. officers were taken on board, and we then started for Fort Delaware. The guard consisted of a detachment of twelve men, under command of Lt. Dorsey; there was then on board the Maple Leaf 96 Confederate officers. We lay off Fort Warren a short time, while there Judge McGowan, of Arizona, made known to me that the hour was near when we would be free; the Judge also made the matter known to other C. S. officers, in all about 25, and the were all who knew what was going on. At about 1 P. M. we put out on our way to Fort Delaware, a gunboat following in our wake; some began to despair of success, but the gunboat was very slow, for we soon left her far behind. When off Cape Henry Judge McGowan collected a crowd of probably ten of our officers, and moved near the guard stationed in the cabin; hearing the row commence below the Judge very coolly seized these guns and handed them back to the other officers; on Yankee guard ran down stairs, and I think refused to surrender, whereupon the Judge gave him a blow over the head with a gun; not surrendering at this, a loaded gun was presented at him, upon which he surrendered.

Capt. Semmes then proceeded to demand the surrender of the Lieutenant of the guard. That gentleman, Lieut. Dorsey, was considerably surprised, and wished to reason about the matter; but Capt. S told him it was of no use to reason—the boat was ours. He then demanded to see the Captain of the boat, which was, of course, refused him. Guards were placed over the engineer and pilot, with orders to keep the boat on the course she was then running. After running about six miles below Cape Henry we stood in towards land. When within about four hundred yards of the shore the steamer lay to, and seventy-one Confederate officers landed in Princess Anne county, Va. Previous to landing the question as to what we should do with the boat was discussed and settled. We were landing on a shore of which we knew nothing. There were officers on board who could not walk; also, the wife of Capt. Dale, of the steamer. It was therefore concluded that Capt. Dale and Lieut. Dorsey should be placed under solemn oath to continue on their course to Fort Delaware and not to communicate any of the circumstances of our escape to any one until their arrival at that place. They violated their oaths, but to no purpose. The route we traveled it would be imprudent to disclose. Suffice it to say we received the best of treatment from the patriotic citizens of North Carolina throughout our whole route, and although completely surrounded by Yankees we were in no danger of being betrayed by the citizens. This was the kind of Union sentiment we found in North Carolina. The thanks and everlasting gratitude of the whole party are due to Capt. Saunders, of the Camden County Guerillas, and Lieut. Gordon, of Currituck, who, with their company, were untiring in their exertions in our behalf. Our escape was miraculous indeed—seventy one officers escaping through over seventy miles of country closely guarded by Federal pickets and scouting parties, consisting of 600 troops, who were constantly scouring the country in pursuit of us.​

The Maple Leaf was sunk by a Confederate mine in the St. John's River near Jacksonville, Florida on April 1, 1864. The Free South newspaper (Beaufort, S.C.) reported on April 9, 1864:

The Maple Leaf, Steam transport, Capt. H. W. Dale, left Palatka Florida, on the night of the 31st of March, at about 11 o'clock, and had gone to within 12 miles of Jacksonville, when at about 4 o'clock the following morning, she struck a torpedo, floating in the St. John's River, and was sunk by the effects of the explosion which immediately followed. Her hull and engines now lie in 24 feet or more of water. The hurricane deck alone was above the surface of the river, two minutes after the torpedo had burst under her port bow. The fore-mast was hurled out of the ship by the force of the blow, Four negroes asleep in the forward part of the boat, below, near the point of contact with the torpedo were killed. They were Eli Foster, and Simon Field, deck hands, and Chas. Simons and Benj. Wiggan, fireman.

No other casualities attended the disaster. Immediately upon awaking after the shock, the Captain assembled his ship's company, and the passengers upon the hurricane deck, launched the three row boats provided for emergencies, detailed the passengers and boat's crew for each boat, and saw all the survivors safely afloat before he would leave his ship. Among the passengers were the wife and child of Capt. Chadwick, of Gen. Hatch's staff. The lady escaped in her night dress. She exhibited heroic coolness and intepidity [sic], offering to steer or row in case of skilled boatmen proving to few for the occasion. Her husband and Capt. Langdon, also of the commanding General's staff were with the party. Fifty-eight souls in all escaped destruction, and arrived at Jacksonville, three or four hours after ihe [sic] accident.

Near Buckles Bluff, in the neighborhood, some rebel pickets witnessed the explosion. Deeming the party in the boats too numerous to capture, they did not attempt to harrass [sic] their retreat.

For want of room in his boats, Capt Dale left four rebel prisoners on the hurricane deck of the Maple Leaf, These remained unttl [sic] the evening of the 1st April, when the gunboat Norwich brought them off. In the interim boats from the shore had plundered the ship of all the trunks, and other portable property within reach. Whether from unwillingness to escape or refusal of the river-pirates to release them, the rebel prisoners remained on the vessel and are now in Jacksonville.

The above particulars were furnished for the Free South by Capt. Dale, late in charge of the Maple Leaf.​

(Source: https: // en.wikipedia. org/wiki/Maple_Leaf_(shipwreck); Daily Dispatch, Richmond, Va., June 25, 1863; http: // www. mapleleafshipwreck. com/index.htm; The Free South newspaper, Beaufort, S.C.,) April 9, 1864)

ROBERT BRUCE FERGUSON, 2017
 
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Story

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Video about the wreck, plus displays of artifacts
http://thenmusa.org/maple-leaf/index.html

Work on the Maple Leaf began in 1850 in Canada, its keel laid in December that year. She was built to move passengers, cattle and freight on Lake Ontario. Soon, because of financial hardships of the owner, she was sold to Boston, Massachusetts businessman who in 1862 leased her to the Union Army Quartermaster Corps as a troop and cargo transport. She carried troops to Virginia, Georgia and then to Florida.
http://www.mandarinmuseum.net/maple-leaf

Model build
http://usmrr.blogspot.com/2010/11/my-ship-has-come-in.html
 

kvholland

Private
Joined
Jan 17, 2015
Messages
68
Location
Jacksonville, Florida
The U.S.S. Maple Leaf was a 181-foot side wheel steamer that is now found as a partial shipwreck in Jacksonville, Florida.

In 1851, the ship was launched from the Marine Railway Yard in Kingston, Ontario.

Henry W. Dale commanded the side-wheel steamer since August of 1862.

On September 2, 1862, J.H.B. Lang and Charles Spear of Boston bought the Maple Leaf from Josiah P. Dewey of Cobourg, Ontario and George Schofield of Rochester, New York. The next day the ship was charted for the U.S. Army by Charles Spear to Assistant Quartermaster Captain William W. McKim.

In the summer of 1863, the Maple Leaf was captured by Confederate prisoners. The Daily Dispatch, a newspaper, wrote on June 25, 1863:

On the evening of June 2d the steamship Cahawba left New Orleans, having on board Billy Wilson’s Zouaves, who were returning to New York, their enlistment having expired, and about fifty Confederate officers. Prisoners of war. ON the 8th she anchored off Fortress Monroe, and the Confederates were then transferred to the steamer Utica. On board the Cahawba the treatment they received at the hands of the Federals could not have been bettered. They received the same accommodations as the Federal officers, and no restraint whatever was placed over them. When transferred to the Utica there was a change for the worse. The fare we received was bread, bacon, and coffee—all of the poorest quality. But little attention was paid to what we did or how we fared. On board this steamer, as also before leaving New Orleans, was discussed the practicability of capturing the steamer and escaping, and it was generally resolved that if opportunity offered we were to take possession of the vessel to which we might be transferred, and then try to make our way to the Confederate lines.

On the 9th, about 2 P. M., we were transferred to the steamer Maple Leaf, and immediately steamed up to Fort Norfolk, where we lay all night. On the morning of the 10th, forty-seven other C. S. officers were taken on board, and we then started for Fort Delaware. The guard consisted of a detachment of twelve men, under command of Lt. Dorsey; there was then on board the Maple Leaf 96 Confederate officers. We lay off Fort Warren a short time, while there Judge McGowan, of Arizona, made known to me that the hour was near when we would be free; the Judge also made the matter known to other C. S. officers, in all about 25, and the were all who knew what was going on. At about 1 P. M. we put out on our way to Fort Delaware, a gunboat following in our wake; some began to despair of success, but the gunboat was very slow, for we soon left her far behind. When off Cape Henry Judge McGowan collected a crowd of probably ten of our officers, and moved near the guard stationed in the cabin; hearing the row commence below the Judge very coolly seized these guns and handed them back to the other officers; on Yankee guard ran down stairs, and I think refused to surrender, whereupon the Judge gave him a blow over the head with a gun; not surrendering at this, a loaded gun was presented at him, upon which he surrendered.

Capt. Semmes then proceeded to demand the surrender of the Lieutenant of the guard. That gentleman, Lieut. Dorsey, was considerably surprised, and wished to reason about the matter; but Capt. S told him it was of no use to reason—the boat was ours. He then demanded to see the Captain of the boat, which was, of course, refused him. Guards were placed over the engineer and pilot, with orders to keep the boat on the course she was then running. After running about six miles below Cape Henry we stood in towards land. When within about four hundred yards of the shore the steamer lay to, and seventy-one Confederate officers landed in Princess Anne county, Va. Previous to landing the question as to what we should do with the boat was discussed and settled. We were landing on a shore of which we knew nothing. There were officers on board who could not walk; also, the wife of Capt. Dale, of the steamer. It was therefore concluded that Capt. Dale and Lieut. Dorsey should be placed under solemn oath to continue on their course to Fort Delaware and not to communicate any of the circumstances of our escape to any one until their arrival at that place. They violated their oaths, but to no purpose. The route we traveled it would be imprudent to disclose. Suffice it to say we received the best of treatment from the patriotic citizens of North Carolina throughout our whole route, and although completely surrounded by Yankees we were in no danger of being betrayed by the citizens. This was the kind of Union sentiment we found in North Carolina. The thanks and everlasting gratitude of the whole party are due to Capt. Saunders, of the Camden County Guerillas, and Lieut. Gordon, of Currituck, who, with their company, were untiring in their exertions in our behalf. Our escape was miraculous indeed—seventy one officers escaping through over seventy miles of country closely guarded by Federal pickets and scouting parties, consisting of 600 troops, who were constantly scouring the country in pursuit of us.​

The Maple Leaf was sunk by a Confederate mine in the St. John's River near Jacksonville, Florida on April 1, 1864. The Free South newspaper (Beaufort, S.C.) reported on April 9, 1864:

The Maple Leaf, Steam transport, Capt. H. W. Dale, left Palatka Florida, on the night of the 31st of March, at about 11 o'clock, and had gone to within 12 miles of Jacksonville, when at about 4 o'clock the following morning, she struck a torpedo, floating in the St. John's River, and was sunk by the effects of the explosion which immediately followed. Her hull and engines now lie in 24 feet or more of water. The hurricane deck alone was above the surface of the river, two minutes after the torpedo had burst under her port bow. The fore-mast was hurled out of the ship by the force of the blow, Four negroes asleep in the forward part of the boat, below, near the point of contact with the torpedo were killed. They were Eli Foster, and Simon Field, deck hands, and Chas. Simons and Benj. Wiggan, fireman.

No other casualities attended the disaster. Immediately upon awaking after the shock, the Captain assembled his ship's company, and the passengers upon the hurricane deck, launched the three row boats provided for emergencies, detailed the passengers and boat's crew for each boat, and saw all the survivors safely afloat before he would leave his ship. Among the passengers were the wife and child of Capt. Chadwick, of Gen. Hatch's staff. The lady escaped in her night dress. She exhibited heroic coolness and intepidity [sic], offering to steer or row in case of skilled boatmen proving to few for the occasion. Her husband and Capt. Langdon, also of the commanding General's staff were with the party. Fifty-eight souls in all escaped destruction, and arrived at Jacksonville, three or four hours after ihe [sic] accident.

Near Buckles Bluff, in the neighborhood, some rebel pickets witnessed the explosion. Deeming the party in the boats too numerous to capture, they did not attempt to harrass [sic] their retreat.

For want of room in his boats, Capt Dale left four rebel prisoners on the hurricane deck of the Maple Leaf, These remained unttl [sic] the evening of the 1st April, when the gunboat Norwich brought them off. In the interim boats from the shore had plundered the ship of all the trunks, and other portable property within reach. Whether from unwillingness to escape or refusal of the river-pirates to release them, the rebel prisoners remained on the vessel and are now in Jacksonville.

The above particulars were furnished for the Free South by Capt. Dale, late in charge of the Maple Leaf.​

(Source: https: // en.wikipedia. org/wiki/Maple_Leaf_(shipwreck); Daily Dispatch, Richmond, Va., June 25, 1863; http: // www. mapleleafshipwreck. com/index.htm; The Free South newspaper, Beaufort, S.C.,) April 9, 1864)

ROBERT BRUCE FERGUSON, 2017
Can you please give me the date that U.S.S. Maple Leaf was commissioned? Does your research document when she was de-commissioned when removed by the U.S.A corps in 1884?

My research shows she was never commissioned as a United States Ship. But, do please enlighten me.
 
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AndyHall

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Keith, please go easy on the original poster -- I'm sure he missed the existing Maple Leaf thread.

Assigning the prefix "USS" to a vessel incorrectly is a common and not terribly significant error. It's not a sin.

(Posted in my capacity as the Naval War forum host.)
 

kvholland

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Jacksonville, Florida
Keith, please go easy on the original poster -- I'm sure he missed the existing Maple Leaf thread.

Assigning the prefix "USS" to a vessel incorrectly is a common and not terribly significant error. It's not a sin.

(Posted in my capacity as the Naval War forum host.)
Agree.
 
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AndyHall

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It happens. If I went off on everyone who made a reference to "CSS" H. L. Hunley, I'd be in jail.

Be well.
 
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AndyHall

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Keith is correct — the prefix "USS" really only applies to vessels formally commissioned into the US Navy, which Maple Leaf was not. This happens all the time, and it's an easy thing that slips by a lot.

Rob, thanks for posting the very extensive information on the ship. There is an additional three had on that vessel here in the forum that you may want to look at as well.
 

robfergusonjr

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Central Mississippi
Thanks for correcting me. I'm ignorant on such "naval" matters. I'm in learning mode for a lot of ACW subjects. The one thing I feel confidant now is that I'm the only expert about Mississippi's 1st Choctaw Battalion.

@kvholland:

My research connection to the Maple Leaf is due to a white officer from the 1st Choctaw Battalion. A Lieutenant John M. Mobley was captured, along with some Indian privates, in Louisiana and was sent to New Orleans. Mobley was on several steamships before being transferred to the Maple Leaf. According to newspapers of the time, Mobley made the famous escape from the ship.

Some sources I use for my research include:
http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/
ancestry.com
newspapers.com
fold3.com

Those are the big four I use. Chronicling America is free. And found a wealth of information there.

I naturally use the WOR records and google, as well.

Your questions and my response:
  • "Can you please give me the date that U.S.S. Maple Leaf was commissioned?" I haven't been able to find a exact date. I imagine Canadian newspapers would be a good starting point.
  • "Does your research document when she was de-commissioned when removed by the U.S.A corps in 1884?" I'm not sure if there is one since the Maple Leaf was sunk during the ACW.
  • "My research shows she was never commissioned as a United States Ship. But, do please enlighten me." The Maple Leaf was from Canada (Thus the name?). I never considered this issue. Would a charter and a commission be the same thing? My hunch says no. A source stated: "ship was charted for the U.S. Army by Charles Spear." You got me on this issue. I'm clueless about the matter.
I'm going to do some digging and see if I can find any answer to your questions.
 

AndyHall

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Being placed in formal commission is the thing that designates a naval vessel from all others. It's a big deal in the Navy – I had the opportunity to attend a commissioning a few weeks ago, and it's one of the big points in the life of a ship along with the keel laying in her launching. The prefix "USS" indicates that the vessel is formally commissioned and part of the Navy.

A charter in this case meant then very much what it does now — that the ship was a civilian owned vessel, that was hired under a contract for a specific amount of time to do work for the government. Very often they retained their civilian crews, and were sometimes less than diligent in obeying the orders of the military personnel directing them.
 
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robfergusonjr

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Is there any way I can edit this article's title from Maple Leaf USS (1851-1864) to simply Maple Leaf (1851-1864). It's now clear to me its an Army ship rather than Naval.
 

kvholland

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Jacksonville, Florida
I know this can be done!
It should be done.
Every time someone searches for "Maple Leaf" in CWT "U.S.S. Maple Leaf" will pop up. God only knows how quickly CWT will send out digital podcasts, at the speed of light, to begin her new name as a Naval Ship. Does this forum condone that, now that the error has been brought to its attention? I don't think so ~ but it is wrong regardless.
Then the "digital robots" will direct all to CWT, and then how more will be learn of "U.S.S. Maple Leaf?

She is the fourth Shipwreck in our entire Unites States to be designated with Landmark status. Does not that obligate us to call her by her correct name?
Or should I follow Andy's suggestion and just get over it?
 
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