Friday, June 22, 2012

James River Flotilla from Harpers Weekly, 21 June 1862

The following is an excerpt from the 21 June 1862 edition of Harpers Weekly.  In it, the author remarks on the flotilla lying below Richmond at City Point.  The last sentance is especially interesting, since the James River Squadron never again attempted to assault Richmond by water. 


City Point is, or rather has been, the "port of entry" to Petersburg. It is situated on the right bank of the James River, about fifty miles below Richmond. It can hardly be called a town, having at the best of times not more than two or three hundred inhabitants, and these mostly negroes; at present it is almost entirely deserted. Being the terminus of the Petersburg Railroad, the cars frequently arrive, and are met by the United States steamer Massachusetts, both under flag of truce, to effect the exchange of prisoners. It is daily expected that Colonel Corcoran will here be restored to his anxious friends. A letter from City Point says: While coming up the river the height of the tide indicated that the heavy rains had caused a freshet. This was considerably increased yesterday, and still continues. Immense quantities of driftwood, logs, pieces of wreck, etc., have been and are still being floated down the stream by the force of the current. So strong is the tide that it is with great difficulty a boat from one of the vessels lower down can reach another higher up the river. Yesterday a vessel's hatch, and soon after a cook's galley, with the stove, were drifted down, and the corpse of a man floated past, face downward, feet forward and legs extended. The corpse was clad in a white shirt and white trowsers or drawers. As the face was downward, we could not tell whether the body was that of a white or a black man. Last night, about ten o'clock, two large canal boats were driven past the squadron by the force of the current. These appearances seem to indicate that the obstructions placed across the river above Fort Darling by the rebels are being gradually washed away by the freshet; but it is exceedingly doubtful whether they will have been so far removed as to admit of the passage of our vessels, so effectually have the sunken vessels been secured between piles driven Into the river, and such large quantities of stones have been sunk between the interstices. The weather is threatening and the current in full force, with a rushing sound like that of a waterfall, and there is no indication of the freshet subsiding for some time. Commodore Goldsborough, with a squadron as powerful as that with which Farragut took New Orleans, is at City Point or thereabouts. The country will expect to hear from him.

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