The Civil War Connections Blog

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, Flag Officer Hiram Paulding was ordered to take command of Gosport Navy Yard. Paulding left the Washington Navy Yard with 100 marines on Board the 8-gun steamer USS Pawnee.

Meanwhile, Virginia Governor John Letcher ordered Major General William Booth Taliaferro of the Virginia Militia to Norfolk to occupy Gosport Navy Yard. Citizens in Norfolk and Portsmouth created their own ‘Vigilant Committee’ and began placing disruptions to navigation (sunken ships and boats) off Sewell’s Point to hinder Union access into and out of Gosport Navy Yard.