As it almost always happens, I find the most interesting things whilst looking for something else altogether. In any event, I have been sifting through the digitized editions of the Richmond Daily Dispatch that were placed on line by the University of Richmond via an IMLS grant (hie thee hence to our Port of Call blog to hear about the amazing things that IMLS has helped us do here at The Mariners’ Museum!).
In the April 27, 1861 edition of the paper, the burning of the Gosport Navy Yard the week previous was still the big news of the day. This little article caught my eye because it is in such contrast (naturally) to the northern accounts who laud these same “gallant heroes.”
List of the “gallant heroes” who destroyed
the Norfolk Yard.
Com. H. Paulding, New York; Capt. C. Wilkes, of the late Exploring Expedition, New York, (volunteer.)
Commanders.–W. Walker, D. C., volunteer; T. A. Jenkins, Va., volunteer; John Rodgers, Md., volunteer; B. F. Sands, Ky., ordered; J. Alden, Maine, volunteer.
Lieutenants.–E. Parrott, N. H., ordered; Max Woodhule, N. Y., volunteer; Henry A. Wise, nephew of Gov. H. A. Wise, volunteer; Wm. Gibson, Md., volunteer; J. H. Russel, Md., volunteer; C. P. McGarey, N. C., ordered; A. W. Johnson, D. C., ordered; C. N. Morris, N. Y., volunteer.
To take the ships out, was legitimate duty; but to set fire to the property, and run the risk of burning Norfolk and Portsmouth, was cowardly in the extreme. Give these ” heroes” all their honors!
Being handed the war material in Gosport, the Virginians made use of some of it in short order. In the April 29th edition of the Daily Dispatch I found the following warning – as though the author knew that pro-Union readers might react in horror:
Our harbor is now in a comparatively safe condition of defence. At this point we have in command of our Colonel, aided by Captain McIntosh and Lieutenant Sharp, of the Virginia Navy, a powerful battery, the guns of which are of the largest calibre, all taken from the Navy-Yard. They are now all in position. The breastwork is of earth, covered by cotton bales, and they covered with railroad T iron. Give us a show, and we can sink the entire Yankee fleet. At various other points batteries are in course of erection–one at Craney Island, nearly completed; one at Fort Norfolk, and several others down the river. The old ship frigate United States has also a battery placed upon her, and moored off the Hospital. The Ape of the Prairies may send in his ships now; we are prepared to give them a warm reception.
I can’t wait to see what else I find!