Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Blockade comes to Florida

I think historians of the Civil War Navies have established that blockade duty was boring, drudgery, tedious, taxing, (fill in your favorite adjective here ___________), and demanding on the ships and sailors who implemented it.

It was also a vital part of the Union war effort. In an earlier post I commented on one of the numerous and myriad “small victories” that the blockade accomplished (12 Oct 2011) by the destruction of the blockade runner Watson off Charleston, SC. Here’s another one.

In the early part of December 1861, Flag Officer DuPont of the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron ordered Commander Charles Steedman of the sidewheel steam gunboat USS Bienville to take up station off St. Simon’s Sound, Georgia. As part of this patrol, Steedman also cruised south to the mouth of the St. Johns River, Florida. On 11 December, the Bienville sighted two blockade runners under sail off the mouth of the river. Her crew captured the pilot schooner Sarah and Caroline, and the other runner was driven ashore. The captured runner carried 60 barrels of turpentine and was evidently bound for Nassau, Bahamas.

The blockade was now officially imposed off the coast of Florida.

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