ORN Series 1, Vol. X: Report of Commander John C. Beaumont, USS Mackinaw, June 17-18, 1864

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in Naval Volume X

Report of Commander Beaumont, U. S. Navy, commanding U. S. S. Mackinaw, regarding transport duty performed by that vessel.

U. S. S. Mackinaw,
Off Wilcox’s Wharf, James River, June 18, 1864.

NH 57251 A Double-Ender gunboat In the James River, Virginia, 1864-65.

The USS Mackinaw spent June 17-18, 1864 escorting Union transport vessels as well as overseeing Grant’s Crossing of the James River.

Sir: I respectfully report that I left my anchorage abreast the headquarters of the commanding general before sunset last evening to convoy the transports past a point on the river from which the enemy had fired into one, after which I returned to my old anchorage to cover the crossing of the rear guard of the army. By midnight the troops had all crossed to the right side of the river. At daylight I took up my present position to see the fleet of transports safely by. After the fleet has passed I shall proceed to City Point to ascertain where this vessel is most required, and await further orders. Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

J[ohn]. C. Beaumont,
Commander.

Acting Rear-Admiral S. P. Lee,
Comdg. North Atlantic Blockading Squadron, James River.1

Source:

  1. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Series 1, Volume X, p. 159

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Lisa Fulton February 11, 2021 at 1:47 pm

This seems related: On June 18th, 1864, Henry Jeffers (a captain in the 7th SCC) wrote to his sister:

“Thursday [16 June 1864] we marched about watching the enemy and camped about night, at this place. Yesterday (Friday) [17 June 1864] early in the morning Gary’s pickets reported the enemy gone & of course we started to find out where they had gone to. After going down to the Chickahominy about twenty-five miles we found that the enemy had cleared out and probably all crossed the James. Some Cavalry may still be on this side of the James. We returned to camp and I hope will rest a few days. So you see we commenced in his front as he moved down the River and closed our active campaign in his rear.”

Later in the same letter: “…We have seen a great portion of the Army as it passed us. Lee has crossed over above Drurys Bluff, and at this moment from the sound of Cannon we hear a hard fight is going on over on the South side, about Petersburg. By this time Lee’s Army is over and they have met again. I trust Lee will be able to weaken him so that he will have to retire and be quiet.”

But of course, under General Gary, the 7th didn’t get a lot of quiet time. Henry Jeffers’ next letter, written on June 20th, 1864, related to his father what happened next:

“I wrote to Sister Annie on Saturday [18 June 1864], stating that all of Grant’s Army had passed over the River about Harrisons Landing and that there was a terrific fight going on in our hearing. I was afraid that Grant had got a little ahead of Lee and might get too far the start. But Lee met him on Saturday and from what we can hear whipped him badly…….I wrote sister Annie, that I thought we would get to rest a few days, but Sunday morning [19 June 1864] we were ordered to mount, moving off in the direction of Harrisons Landing. I thought that the enemy had thrown a force back across the river to make a demonstration again on this side. But our business was to burn the extensive wharves built by the enemy at Harrisons and the different points on the River. This was done successfully and we returned to camp last night. I went over to see Genl Gary this morning, found him in fine spirits, just having recd his Commission as Brig Genl. He says we will be quiet now for a few days, he thinks.”

Brett, your great notes help a lot!
Lisa

Brett Schulte February 11, 2021 at 2:12 pm

Lisa,

As usual, you are correct. These are ABSOLUTELY related. I always appreciate your letters because they provide the Confederate perspective, which is really hard to get sometimes for events at the Siege of Petersburg. This reminds me, I need to get to your letter this weekend. I have been busy recently, but I’ll get to it soon.

Brett

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