The Civil War Connections Blog

Monitor Log: 16 May 1862

The crew of the Monitor expanded by one, when, during the night of May 16, 1862, a young black man rowed to the Monitor from the north shore of the James River. Thinking him to be a Confederate boarder, the men standing watch fired a warning shot and sounded the alarm that a boarding party had been sighted.  Paymaster William Keeler recalled that “The first night after getting here I was upon the point of turning in when ‘boat ahoy,’ followed by a musket shot led me to conclude that something had turned up – the shout of ‘boarders’ from our worthy captain & valorous first Lieut. was followed by a stampede from all the State rooms for the deck.  I…found the vast array of ‘Monitors’ armed to the teeth drawn up confronting the enemy – a poor trembling contraband…”

Twenty-four year old Siah Carter, an escaped slave from Shirley Plantation, had reason to tremble. His master, Hill Carter of Shirley Plantation, had “called all his slaves together & told them that if any of them went on board of the yankee ships, the yankees would carry them out to sea, tie a piece of iron about their necks & throw them overboard,” William Keeler recalls Siah telling them. Yet Siah knew that the Monitor could be a route to a new life for him. So he called out to the crew that he was a black man, and no threat. Because of his knowledge of the area, he was taken aboard as a crew member—contraband of war—and rated as a cabin boy.

Remarks Friday May 16th 1862


Midnight to 4 AM

Wind S.E. & rainy     

                                                                                                            William Flye



4 to 8 A.M

Wind & weather same.  at 5.30 Galena made signal to get under weigh. 

Started at 6 A.M & anchored off City Point at 7.45 AM.  found the Gun boats

Aroostook & Port Royal & Naugatuck at anchor.  Several of our crew sick this

morning owing to river water & foul air in the ship                                                                                                                                                                           E. V. Gager



8 toMeridian

Wind N.E. & misty, lying off City Point                              

Louis Stodder



Meridian to 4 PM

Wind light from S.E. with light showers of rain                   

Geo. Frederickson



4 to 6 P.M

Light wind from S.E. & pleasant weather.  at 6: PM the Aroostook,  Port Royal & Naugatuck got  underweigh and went down the river                                                                                                                                                             William Flye



6 to 8 PM

Wind & weather same, armed the watch.  lights seen moving along shore

at City Point                                                                                                               

E. V. Gager



8 to Midnight

Cloudy & light wind from S.W. at 11. P.M saw a boat, hailing received no answer fired at and came along side and proved to contain contraband                                             

Louis Stodder