Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Civil War Navy Daybook Now Online

The staff of the Hampton Roads Naval Museum published a Civil War Navy 150 Special Edition for The Daybook, its quarterly publication of local naval history.  This issue serves a primer for the events and facts concerning the war between the U.S. Navy and the C.S. Navy.  A PDF version of the issue can be downloaded here.  Print copies are still available. Requests for print copies can be made to The Daybook editor at gordon.b.calhoun@navy.mil

Friday, November 26, 2010

Raphael Semmes Wins Week 5 Poll; Poll 6 Posted

Last month, the CWN 150 announced that it will begin a poll to decide who was the greatest naval officer of the Civil War. The polls will stretch over a few months, ultimately with a showdown between Union and Confederate officers. This past week, we highlighted our first poll with Confederate naval officers: Raphael Semmes, Josiah Tattnal, French Forrest, and Duncan Ingraham. After a week of voting, Raphael Semmes won decisively with 12 votes.We will be posting the second round of Confederate naval officers today: James Bullock, Sidney S. Lee, George Dixon, and Thomas Lockwood. Please vote, and encourage others to! Reproduced is Raphael Semmes' brief biography from the Naval History and Heritage Command:

Raphael Semmes was born in Charles County, Maryland, on 27 September 1809. Entering the Navy as a Midshipman in 1826, he subsequently studied law and was admitted to the bar while remaining in the service. During the Mexican War, he commanded the brig USS Somers in the Gulf of Mexico. She was lost in a storm off Vera Cruz in December 1846, but Semmes was commended for his actions in that incident. While on extended leave after the war, he practiced law in Mobile, Alabama. Promoted to the rank of Commander in 1855, Semmes was assigned to Lighthouse duties until 1861, when Alabama's secession from the Union prompted him to resign from the U.S. Navy and adhere to the Confederacy.

Appointed a Commander in the Confederate Navy in April 1861, Raphael Semmes was sent to New Orleans to convert a steamer into the cruiser CSS Sumter. He ran her through the Federal blockade in June 1861 and began a career of commerce raiding that is without equal in American naval history. During Sumter's six months' operations in the West Indies and the Atlantic, he captured eighteen merchant vessels and skillfully eluded pursuing Union warships. With his ship badly in need of overhaul, he brought her to Gibraltar in January 1862 and laid her up when the arrival of Federal cruisers made a return to sea impossible.

After taking himself and many of his officers to England, Semmes was promoted to the rank of Captain and given command of the newly-built cruiser CSS Alabama. From August 1862 until June 1864, Semmes took his ship through the Atlantic, into the Gulf of Mexico, around the Cape of Good Hope and into the East Indies, capturing some sixty merchantmen and sinking one Federal warship, USS Hatteras. At the end of her long cruise, Alabama was blockaded at Cherbourg, France, while seeking repairs. On 19 June 1864, Semmes took her to sea to fight the Union cruiser USS Kearsarge and was wounded when she was sunk in action. Rescued by the British yacht Dearhound, he went to England, recovered and made his way back to the Confederacy.

Semmes was promoted to Rear Admiral in February 1865 and commanded the James River Squadron during the last months of the Civil War. When the fall of Richmond, Virginia, forced the destruction of his ships, he was made a Brigadier General and led his sailors as an infantry force. Briefly imprisoned after the conflict, he worked as a teacher and newspaper editor until returning to Mobile, where he pursued a legal career. Raphael Semmes died on 30 August 1877.

Monday, November 22, 2010


The History Department at North Carolina State University invites
proposals for a symposium on the public history of the American Civil


The Public History of the American Civil War, a Sesquicentennial

March 26, 2011

The approaching 150th anniversary of the American Civil War provides a
unique opportunity to explore the many ways that public and academic
historians can work together to engage general audiences at
battlefields, historic sites, and museums across the country. On
Saturday, March 26, 2011, the History Department at North Carolina State
University will host a symposium to facilitate discussions among Civil
War interpreters, museum curators, and scholars about how to convey
integrated narratives of military, social, and political history. We
invite panels, roundtables, and workshops to consider issues related to
the public interpretation of the Civil War, including but not limited

- Challenging popular narratives of the war
- Attracting diverse audiences
- Exploring interpretive practices at war-related sites
- Preserving Civil War battlefields
- Integrating scholarship and research into the public interpretation
of the war
- Finding a usable past in Civil War history

We anticipate that the symposium will engage the Civil War broadly,
including the causes of the war, civilians and soldiers on the
battlefields and homefronts, irregular and regular war, and emancipation
and Reconstruction.

Interested public historians, curators, site directors, scholars, etc.
should submit 1-2 page proposals for panels, roundtables, and workshops
and CVs for all participants to Susanna Lee (susanna_lee@ncsu.edu) and
David Zonderman (david_zonderman@ncsu.edu) by December 15, 2010.
Decisions on accepted proposals will be made by January 15, 2011.
Invited participants will receive travel and accommodations.

Susanna Lee: 919-513-2215
David Zonderman: 919-513-2222
History Department
North Carolina State University
Fax: 919-515-3886

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Black Civil War Military Archives to Hampton University

Historian and author Bennie J. McRae, Jr. has recently donated his archives of materials documenting the experience of African-American men and women during the Civil War to Hampton University, according to the Associated Press.

The archival documents Mr. McRae is donating includes recollections of African-American sailors. McRae is researcher and site manager of Lest We Forget, a website preserving the history, culture, and heritage of important individuals in Black history and American history.

Hopefully Mr. McRae's contribution will spark more historians to open up their documents and historical records during the sesquicentennial years.

For more information, please go to the Virginian-Pilot article here.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Thanksgiving Tours of USS Water Witch

From The National Civil War Naval Museum, Port Columbus, GA:

Blood and thunder stories of the capture of the USS Water Witch in a midnight attack by the Confederate Navy will be recreated on Friday and Saturday, November 26-27 for the second annual Cool History program at Port Columbus. “This story is the main reason we picked this ship to reproduce,” said museum director Bruce Smith, “everything about it is dramatic and mostly unknown.” Three tours are set for each day and will feature many of the museum’s living history volunteers protraying characters actually on the ship during the fight. There is no special event fee for the Cool History program, just regular museum admission will be charged.

For more information, please go to the website here.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Andrew H. Foote wins week 4 poll! Poll five is up

Last month, the CWN 150 announced that it will begin a poll to decide who was the greatest naval officer of the Civil War. The polls will stretch over a few months, ultimately with a showdown between Union and Confederate officers. This past week, we highlighted our third poll with four Union officers: Andrew H. Foote, Silas Stringham, Winfield Scott (U.S. Army), and Richard W. Meade. After a week of voting, Andrew H. Foote won with 9 votes.We will be posting the third round of the poll today. Please vote, and encourage others to! We will be posting the fifth week of the poll today, finally introducing our first four Confederate naval officers. Reproduced again is Andrew H. Foote's brief biography from the Naval History and Heritage Command:

Andrew H. Foote

Andrew Hull Foote, born 12 September 1806 at New Haven, Conn., entered the Navy 4 December 1822 as a midshipman. Commanding Portsmouth in the East India Squadron on 20 and 21 November 1856, Foote led a landing party which seized the barrier forts at Canton, China, in reprisal for attacks on American ships. From 30 August 1861 to 9 May 1862, Foote commanded the Naval Forces on Western Rivers with distinction, organizing and leading the gunboat flotilla in the capture of Forts Henry and Donelson and Island No. 10. Wounded in action at Fort Donelson, Foote was commissioned Rear Admiral 16 July 1862, and was on his way to take command of the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron when he died at New York 26 June 1863.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Civil War Naval Living History at CSS Neuse State Historic Site, 20 and 21 November 2010

Members of several North Carolina reenactment/living history organizations will be demonstrating all aspects of naval life including navigational techniques, daily shipboard living, and other nautical skills. This year’s program will feature Civil War Navy and Marines, as well as the addition to civilian interpretations. There will be other sutlers/craftsmen at the program with items for sale to the general public.

This year’s program will once more offer visitors a RARE OPPORTUNITY - a special artillery firing after dark Saturday. Gates will reopen at 5:45 p.m. and the demonstration will take place at 6:15 p.m. Visitors should bring a flashlight to help them find their way to the demonstration area. This is a SPECTACULAR demonstration on the banks of the Neuse!

CSS Neuse State Historic Site and Governor Caswell Memorial
2612 W. Vernon Ave.
Kinston, NC 28504

POC: Holly Weaver (252)522-2091

Click here to visit the CSS Neuse website.

Click here for Google Map Directions. Additional information can be found on the Civil War Navy 150 Calendar.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Crewing a Ship's Boat

Photo courtesy USS Ft. Henry web site.

One of the things I like most about Civil War Navy living history is getting the opportunity to try doing some of the things “the old salts” did back then. The first weekend of October 2010, I participated in a small re-enactment event in the Tampa area. Dubbed “The Battle of Ballast Point”, the event recalls a Union Navy cutting out expedition conducted in the fall of 1863 to destroy two Confederate blockade runners – the Kate Dale and the Scottish Chief hiding up the Hillsborough River, a major tributary of Tampa Bay. A party of seamen and marines from the gunboats USS Tahoma and USS Adela set out in ships’ boats to find and burn the two runners, which they succeeded in doing. The landing party was subsequently attacked by a small force of Confederate home guard and cavalry and had to fight their way back to the Navy ships. The re-enactment is held at a small county park bordering the Tampa Bypass Canal (the original Ballast Point site is now part of downtown Tampa, FL), and the feature event is a landing by a ship’s boat, crewed by Union seamen and carrying US Marines. The “ship’s boat” is owned by the park and is actually an old lifeboat which somewhat resembles the ships’ boats of the Civil War period. It takes six sailors to row (three oars on each side), plus the coxswain, officer in charge of the landing party, and up to six marines.

I learned that crewing a boat is very much an acquired skill – it takes some practice to master the art of rowing and maneuvering. You have to be in sync with the other oars and pull together. The main thing is to avoid looking outboard at the oars in the water (not an easy thing to do, as you tend to want to do this instinctively). Keep your eyes inboard and on the back of the man in front of you, and synchronize your movements to his; when he leans forward on the forward stroke of the oar, you do the same, and as he leans back to pull, you lean back and pull. The first day of the event was a bit of a scene as we all struggled to figure this out (half the guys had done this before, the other half, yours truly included, were tadpoles). The second day went much better, as we were all much more in sync. After not more than 10 minutes of rowing, many of us were ready to quit, which makes it all the more amazing that the old fellas in the War would do this for hours on end when they were on landing party raids.

For information on the actual historical event (“The Battle of Ballast Point”), visit the USS Fort Henry web site at: http://mysite.verizon.net/lewzerfas/forthenry.htm.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

From the November 9 1861 Edition of Harpers Weekly



WE illustrate on this page the Presentation of a Stand of Colors to each of the Regiments of General Viele's Brigade of New York Troops, which took place on 18th October at Annapolis, prior to their departure on the great Southern Expedition. A letter in the Herald thus described the scene:

A grand ceremony took place here yesterday in the presentation of a regimental standard to each of the five regiments comprising General Egbert L. Viele's brigade. The banners, which were national regimental standards, were the united gifts of Mrs. Brigadier-General Viele and the Union Defense Committee of the city of New York. They are made of the heaviest Canton silk, on staffs superbly mounted and inscribed. The entire brigade, consisting of the Third New Hampshire Volunteers, Eighth Maine, Forty-sixth, Forty-seventh, and Forty-eighth New York
regiments, each drawn up in columns by division, closed en masse on the College green, comprising sixty or seventy acres of ground. The weather was beautiful. The sun shone forth with full effulgence. The citizens of Annapolis, their wives and daughters, old and young, grave end gay, all appeared near the scene of the ceremonies, gayly dressed in holiday attire. There could not have been less than fifteen hundred spectators present.


Monday, November 8, 2010

Captain Charles Wilkes Reports on the Trent Affair, 8 November 1861

On November 8, 1861, USS San Jacinto Captain Charles Wilkes set out towards the Bahama Channel near Havana to intercept Confederate commissioners James M. Mason and John Slidell. The man who led the controversial U.S. Exploring Expedition two decades previous found himself leaving scientific endeavors for the new prospect of war. Mason and Slidell were heading to Europe to arbitrate agreements with nations for their support in the Confederate war effort, stopping for transport in Havana. During his search for the elusive CSS Sumter, Wilkes heard of the breakout of Mason and Slidell from Charleston and decided to take action. The USS San Jacinto intercepted the two on board the British mail steamer Trent under threat of cannon fire, taking Mason, Slidell, and their secretaries back to Boston. Although heroic, Captain Wilkes’ seizure of diplomats aboard a neutral ship almost fanned the flames of war between the United States and Great Britain, as they claimed that Wilkes clearly violated international law. After a swift apology for the event by Secretary of State William H. Seward, Mason and Slidell were released in January 1862, nearly two months after their capture.

Reproduced below is Captain Charles Wilkes' report to Union Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles seven days after the event unfolded. You can read more about Captain Wilkes and the Trent Affair at the Library of Congress website here or find out more about Charles Wilkes here from the Naval History and Heritage Command.

Report of Captain Wilkes, U. S. Navy, of capture of Messrs. Mason and Slidell, Confederate commissioners on board the British mail steamer Trent, with enclosures.

U. S. S. SAN JACINTO, November 15, 1861.

SIR: I have written to you relative to the movements of this ship from Cienfuegos, on the south coast of Cuba.

There I learned that Messrs. Slidell and Mason had landed on Cuba, and had reached the Havana from Charleston. I took in some 60 tons of coal and left with all dispatch on the 26th October to intercept the return of the Theodora, but on my arrival at The Havannah on the 31st I found she had departed on her return, and that Messrs. Slidell and Mason, with their secretaries and families, were there and would depart on the 7th of the month in the English steamer Trent for St. Thomas, on their way to England.

I made up my mind to fill up with coal and leave the port as soon as possible, to await at a suitable position on the route of the steamer to St. Thomas to intercept her and take them out.

On the afternoon of the 2d I left The Havannah, in continuation of my cruise after the Sumter on the north side of Cuba. The next day, when about to board a French brig, she ran into us on the starboard side at the main chains and carried away her bowsprit and foretopmast, and suffered other damages. I inclose you herewith the reports of the officers who witnessed the accident. I do not feel that any blame is due to the officer in charge of this ship at the time the ship was run into, and the brig was so close when it was seen probable she would do so that even with the power of steam, lying motionless as we were, we could not avoid it; it seemed as if designed.

I at once took her in tow, and put an officer on board with a party to repair her damages. This was effected before night, but I kept her in tow till we were up with The Havannah and ran within about 8 miles of the light, the wind blowing directly fair for her to reach port.

I then went over to Key West in hopes of finding the Powhatan or some other steamer to accompany me to the Bahama Channel, to make it impossible for the steamer in which Messrs. Slidell and Mason were to embark to escape either in the night or day. The Powhatan had left but the day before, and I was therefore disappointed and obliged to rely upon the vigilance of the officers and crew of this ship, and proceeded the next morning to the north side of the island of Cuba, communicated with Sagua la Grande on the 4th, hoping to receive a telegraphic communication from Mr. Shufeldt, our consul-general, giving me the time of the departure of the steamer.

In this, also, I was disappointed, and ran to the eastward some 90 miles, where the old Bahama Channel contracts to the width of 15 miles, some 240 miles from The Havannah, and in sight of the Paredon Grande light-house. There we cruised until the morning of the 8th, awaiting the steamer, believing that if she left at the usual time she must pass us about noon of the 8th, and we could not possibly miss her. At 11:40 a.m., on the 8th, her smoke was first seen; at 12 m. our position was to the westward of the entrance into the narrowest part of the channel and about 9 miles northeast from the light-house of Paredon Grande, the nearest point of Cuba to us.

We were all prepared for her, beat to quarters, and orders were given to Lieutenant D. M. Fairfax to have two boats manned and armed to board her and make Messrs. Slidell, Mason, Eustis, and Macfarland prisoners, and send them immediately on board. (A copy of this order to him is herewith enclosed.)

The steamer approached and hoisted English colors. Our ensign was hoisted, and a shot was fired across her bow; she maintained her speed and showed no disposition to heave to; then a shell was fired across her bow, which brought her to. I hailed that I intended to send a boat on board, and Lieutenant Fairfax with the second cutter of this ship was dispatched. He met with some difficulty, and remaining on board the steamer with a part of the boat's crew, sent her back to request more assistance. The captain of the steamer having declined to show his papers and passenger list, a force became necessary to search her. Lieutenant James A. Greer was at once dispatched in the third cutter, also manned and armed.

Messrs. Slidell, Mason, Eustis, and Macfarland were recognized and told they were required to go on board this ship; this they objected to, until an overpowering force compelled them. Much persuasion was used and a little force, and at about 2 o'clock they were brought on board this ship and received by me. Two other boats were then sent to expedite the removal of their baggage and some stores, when the steamer, which proved to be the Trent, was suffered to proceed on her route to the eastward, and at 3:30 p.m. we bore away to the northward and westward. The whole time employed was two hours thirteen minutes. I enclose you the statements of such officers who boarded the Trent relative to the facts, and also an extract from the log book of this ship.

It was my determination to have taken possession of the Trent and sent her to Key West as a prize, for resisting the search and carrying these passengers, whose character and objects were well known to the captain, but the reduced number of my officers and crew, and the large number of passengers on board bound to Europe who would be put to great inconvenience, decided me to allow them to proceed.

Finding the families of Messrs. Slidell and Eustis on board, I tendered them the offer of my cabin for their accommodation to accompany their husbands; this they declined, however, and proceeded in the Trent.

Before closing this dispatch I would bring to your notice the notorious action of her Britannic Majesty's subjects, the consul-general of Cuba and those on board the Trent, in doing everything to aid and abet the escape of these four persons and endeavoring, to conceal their persons on board. No passports or papers or any description were in possession of them from the Federal Government, and for this and other reasons which will readily occur to you I made them my prisoners, and shall retain them on board here until I hear from you what disposition is to be made of them.

I can not close this report without bearing testimony to the admirable manner in which all the officers and men of this ship 'performed their duties, and the cordial manner in which they carried out my orders. To Lieutenant Fairfax I beg leave to call your particular attention for the praiseworthy manner in which he executed the delicate duties with which he was intrusted; it met and has received my warmest thanks.

After leaving the north side of Cuba I ran through the Santaren Passage and up the coast from off St. Augustine to Charleston, and regretted being too late to take a part in the expedition to Port Royal.

I enclose herewith a communication I received from Messrs. Slidell, Mason, Eustis, and Mcfarland, with my answer.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Secretary of the Navy.

AN AMERICAN ANSWER: In this "Harper's Weekly" cartoon after the United States had released Mason and Slidell to British custody, Uncle Sam is telling John Bull that he can have the two prisoners and that there are plenty more like them at Sing Sing prison, if he is interested. [Image: freerepublic.com]

"I say, with my hand on my heart, that Miss SLIDELL, in her agony, did Strike Mr. FAIRFAX Three Times in the Face. I wish that her Knuckles had Struck me in the Face." [Image: Harpers Weekly, January 18, 1862]

Week 4 Poll is now up!

Last week, we unveiled the beginning of a contest to decide (by you the reader) who was the greatest naval officer, North and South. In the final week, we will square the Union and Confederate winner face to face to see who wins. Last week's winner was Admiral David D. Porter, who beat out Admiral David G. Farragut by a slim margin. For week four, we have several important Union officers to choose from. Although Winfield Scott's served in the United States Army, his "Anaconda Plan" was the guiding force for the Union Navy throughout the war. You can vote on the left panel of this blog. We have provided the following information about each officer courtesy of the Naval History and Heritage Command:

Andrew H. Foote

Andrew Hull Foote, born 12 September 1806 at New Haven, Conn., entered the Navy 4 December 1822 as a midshipman. Commanding Portsmouth in the East India Squadron on 20 and 21 November 1856, Foote led a landing party which seized the barrier forts at Canton, China, in reprisal for attacks on American ships. From 30 August 1861 to 9 May 1862, Foote commanded the Naval Forces on Western Rivers with distinction, organizing and leading the gunboat flotilla in the capture of Forts Henry and Donelson and Island No. 10. Wounded in action at Fort Donelson, Foote was commissioned Rear Admiral 16 July 1862, and was on his way to take command of the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron when he died at New York 26 June 1863.

Silas Stringham

Silas Horton Stringham, born in Middletown, N.Y., on 7 November 1798, served in the United States Navy from the War of 1812 through the Civil War. During the War of 1812, he served in the frigate President and took part in the engagements with the British ships Little Belt and Belyidere. He subsequently served in Spark in the campaign against Algerian corsairs and later, while attached to Hornet with the West India Squadron, participated in the capture of the slaver Moscow. During the Mexican War, he commanded the ship-of-the-line Ohio and took part in the attack on Vera Cruz. Commissioned Rear Admiral in July 1862, his Civil War service included command of the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron. Rear Admiral Stringham died in Brooklyn, N.Y., on 7 February 1876.

Winfield Scott

Born June 13, 1786, Petersburg, Va., U.S. — died May 29, 1866, West Point, N.Y.) U.S. army officer. Creator of the "Anaconda Plan." He fought in the War of 1812 at the battles of Chippewa and Lundy's Lane (1814). Promoted to major general, he traveled to Europe to study military tactics. He advocated a well-trained and disciplined army, earning the nickname "Old Fuss and Feathers" for his emphasis on military formalities. In 1841 he became commanding general of the U.S. Army. He directed operations during the Mexican War and led the U.S. invasion at Veracruz and the victory at the Battle of Cerro Gordo. He was the Whig Party's nominee in the 1852 presidential election but lost to Franklin Pierce. In 1855 he was promoted to lieutenant general, becoming the first man since George Washington to hold that rank. Scott was still commander in chief of the U.S. Army when the American Civil War broke out in April 1861, but his proposed strategy of splitting the Confederacy — the plan eventually adopted — was ridiculed. Age forced his retirement the following November.

Richard W. Meade

Richard Worsam Meade III (also called Richard Worsam Meade, Jr., by many sources) was born in New York City on 9 October 1837. He was the son of Passed Midshipman Richard Worsam Meade II, USN, and followed his father into a Navy career when he entered the U.S. Naval Academy in 1850. Graduating in 1856, he served in the steam frigate Merrimack in 1856-1857 and off Africa in 1857-1859 on board the corvette Cumberland and the sloop of war Dale. Promoted to Lieutenant in 1858, Meade was an officer of the steamer Saranac and sailing sloop of war Cyane, both units of the Pacific Squadron, during 1859-1861.

After returning to the East Coast from the Pacific in mid-1862, Lieutenant Meade was hospitalized for a few months for a tropical illness, then provided gunnery instruction to volunteer officers as the Navy expanded to meet the challenges of the Civil War. In January 1862 he became Executive Officer of the steam sloop Dacotah and later held the same position on the new gunboat Conemaugh. Lieutenant Commander Meade's subsequent Civil War service was distinguished, including participation in the supression of the July 1863 New York draft riots, plus active combat and blockade enforcement work while commanding the Mississippi River ironclad Louisville in the latter part of 1862 and the gunboats Marblehead in South Carolina waters in 1863-1864 and Chocura in the Gulf of Mexico during 1864-1865.

William Cushing Wins Week 3 Contest

A few weeks ago, the CWN 150 announced that it will begin a poll to decide who was the greatest naval officer of the Civil War. The polls will stretch over a few months, ultimately with a showdown between Union and Confederate officers. This past week, we highlighted our third poll with four Union officers: Samuel P. Lee, William Cushing. After a week of voting, William Cushing won with 9 votes.We will be posting the third round of the poll today. Please vote, and encourage others to! Reproduced again is Willaim Cushing's brief biography from the Naval History and Heritage Command:

William Barker Cushing was born in Delafield, Wisconsin, on 4 November 1842, but spent most of his childhood in Fredonia, New York. He attended the U.S. Naval Academy from 1857 until March 1861, when his high-spirited behavior led to his resignation. The outbreak of the Civil War brought him back into the service, and he soon distinguished himself as an officer of extraordinary initiative and courage. Promoted to the rank of Lieutenant in mid-1862, Cushing served as Executive Officer of the gunboat Commodore Perry, then was given command of the tug Ellis, which was lost under heroic circumstances on 25 November 1862. He subsequently commanded the gunboats Commodore Barney, Shokokon and Monticello. During this time, he led several daring reconnaissance and raiding excursions into Confederate territories.On the night of 27-28 October 1864, Cushing and a small crew took the Navy steam launch Picket Boat Number One upriver to Plymouth, NC, where they attacked and sank the Confederate ironclad ram CSS Albemarle with a spar torpedo. This action made him a national celebrity, and he was quickly promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Commander. In January 1865, Cushing helped lead the Navy landing force in the conquest of Fort Fisher, NC, again distinguishing himself.Following the Civil War, LCdr. Cushing was executive officer of USS Lancaster and commanding officer of USS Maumee. Promoted to Commander in 1872, he was captain of USS Wyoming in 1873-74. In November 1873, he boldly confronted Spanish authorities in Cuba to save the lives of many passengers and crew of the steamer Virginius, which had been captured bringing men and supplies to Cuban revolutionaries. While serving as Executive Officer of the Washington Navy Yard, DC, Commander Cushing's always delicate health gave way and he died on 17 December 1874.