The Civil War Connections Blog

Monthly Archives: April 2011

First Ship For The Virginia State Navy

She was so decrepit that she wasn’t even worth burning. The USF United States escaped significant damage in the burning of Gosport and, despite her age and state of disrepair, became the first vessel commissioned in the Virginia State Navy on April 29, 1861. She would eventually be renamed the Confederate States and would serve […]

Library of Congress has selected “Civil War Connections” as part of their American Civil War Sesquicentennial Web Archive!

We just received word yesterday that the United States Library of Congress has selected this website for inclusion in their historic collection of Internet materials related to the American Civil War Sesquicentennial! Their Web Archiving Team tells us that “Web Archives are important because they contribute to the historical record, capturing information that could otherwise […]

“we have a navy to build…”

On April 26, 1861, Secretary of the Confederate Navy, Stephen Mallory, wrote the following: In pursuance of the authority contained in the naval appropriation act approved March 16, 1861, I entered upon the duty of procuring vessels for the Navy of the Confederate States. Experienced and judicious naval officers and civilians have been actively engaged […]

“the belief was general…”

Thinking that the secession of Maryland from the Union was imminent, Captain Franklin Buchanan – the first Superintendant of the United States Naval Academy, Mexican war hero and current Commandant of the Washington Navy Yard – resigned his commission in the US Navy on April 22, 1861 and waited for Maryland to become Confederate. Turns […]

Gosport Burning!

Today kicks off the Civil War sesquicentennial for our own particular story here at The Mariners’ Museum. We begin with the USS Merrimack….. 150 years ago today, Union forces abandoned Gosport Navy Yard – (we know it better today as Norfolk Navy Yard) in Portsmouth, VA following the secession of Virginia from the Union a […]

“Whereas an insurrection…has broken out…”

150 years ago today, Abraham Lincoln issued the following proclamation: BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: A Proclamation. Whereas an insurrection against the Government of the United States has broken out in the States of South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas, and the laws of the United States for […]

Meanwhile in Gosport…..

On this day 150 years ago, Chief Engineer Benjamin Franklin Isherwood completed repairs to USS Merrimack at Gosport Navy Yard. Though Isherwood proclaimed the frigate ready for sea, Yard Commander McCauley denied approval for the Merrimack to leave Gosport. Given the tenuous state of affairs following the news of secession, and the timidity of McCauley, […]

Virginia secedes

As recently as April 4, 1861 – there was nearly a 2 to 1 preference against secession in the Virginia legislature. Sumter, and the subsequent call for 75,000 troops changed all that. Therefore, on April 17, 1861, the Commonwealth of Virginia issued the following ordinance: AN ORDINANCE to repeal the ratification of the Constitution of […]

…in case of invasion…

Flag Officer Garrett J. Pendergrast, commander of the USS Cumberland, is ordered to keep his ship in Gosport Navy Yard ‘and, in case of invasion, insurrection, or violence of any kind, to suppress it, repelling assault by force.’ At the same time, however, Secretary of the Union Navy, Gideon Welles, ordered McCauley to remove all […]


On this day 150 years ago, President Abraham Lincoln called for 75,000 volunteers from states ‘loyal to the Union.’ This request will prove to be the tipping point for many who are undecided about where their loyalties lay – with the Union, or with their homes.