ORN XI: Report of Lieutenant Sumner, U. S. Navy, commanding U. S. S. Massasoit

   

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in Naval Volume XI

Report of Lieutenant Sumner, U. S. Navy, commanding U. S. S. Massasoit.1

U. S. S. Massasoit,
James River, Virginia, January 24, 1865.

Sir: I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken by this vessel in the action of to-day:

At 9:50 a.m. I received the order to get underway and proceed up the river, prepared for action. At 10:08 a.m. was underway, and, passing the U. S. S. Hunchback, took station astern of the U. S. S. Onondaga and proceeded up within range of the swamp and Howlett house batteries. At 10:12 beat to quarters and prepared the ship for action. At 10:35 opened fire upon the swamp and Howlett house batteries. At 11:55 a.m. ceased firing and dropped down below Dutch Gap Canal and went to dinner. At 12:16 p. m. came to anchor off Aiken’s Landing astern of the U. S. S. Onondaga. Being for the greater part of the time very nearly abreast of the Crow’s Nest battery, of which the enemy have very accurate range, we were struck several times by shot and shell, but sustained no serious injury. Too much credit can not be given to the officers and crew for the manner in which they conducted themselves during the action. It being the first action the crew ever participated in, they deserve special commendation, acting, as they did, like veterans. Our list of wounded amounts to five. For full particulars of wounded and injuries received I would most respectfully refer you to the enclosed reports of the surgeon, chief engineer, boatswain, and carpenter. Injuries in the sailmaker’s department are entirely unimportant. At the first start there was a slight difficulty with the engine, which detained us a few moments.

I am, sir. very respectfully, your obedient servant,

G. Watson Sumner,
Lieutenant, Commanding pro tem.

Commander Wm. A. Parker,
     Commanding Fifth Division, North Atlantic Blockading Squadron.

[Enclosures.]

U. S. S. Massasoit,
James River, January 24, 1865.

Sir: The following is a list of the wounded in the engagement of to-day:

William Mosher, seaman ; in head and back, serious.

Charles Fogarty, landsman; in shoulder, slight.

William G. Hudson, landsman; in right breast, serious.

James S. H. Black, landsman; contusion, slight.

Horace H. Randall, boy; contusion, slight.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Jno. R. Latson,
Acting Assistant Surgeon, U. S. Navy.

Lieutenant G. W. Sumner,
                                     Commanding.

—–

U. S. S. Massasoit,
James River, Virginia, January 24, 1865.

Sir: I have the honor to report that during the action of this day the following injuries have occurred to the machinery of this vessel:

One of the arms of the starboard wheel cut entirely in two, the shot afterwards striking the cast-iron bracket supporting the shaft, breaking out a piece about 10 inches in diameter, driving it into the timbers, and so bulging out the planking on the inside as to break off some of the connections of the distilling apparatus.

I am in hopes to be able to supply the ship with fresh water until an officer can be sent to Norfolk and obtain the required pipe to repair it.

The escape steam pipe was cut by a piece of shell, but that is already repaired.

The department is ready for action.

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Levi R. Green,
Senior Engineer.

G. Watson Sumner, U. S. Navy,
     Lieutenant and Executive Officer, U. S. S. Massasoit.

—–

U. S. S. Massasoit,
Aiken’s Landing, James River, January 24, 1865.

Sir: I have respectfully to report that during the engagement this morning the elevating screw of the forward 100-pounder Parrott rifle was broken.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Wm. B. Jarvis,
Acting Gunner.

Lieutenant G. W. Sumner,
Commanding Massasoit.

—–

U. S. S. Massasoit,
James River, Virginia, January 24, 1865.

Sir: I have the honor to report the following injuries received in the boatswain’s department during the action of the day : Starboard lower boom topping lift shot away, also three ratlines of starboard forward rigging, a portion of the port forward boarding netting, and the port forward sheer pole.

Respectfully submitted.

D. H. Thayer,
Chief Boatswain’s Mate.

Lieutenant G. W. Sumner,
                               Executive Officer.

—–

U. S. S. Massasoit.
James River, Virginia, January 24, 1865.

Sir: I have the honor to report the following injuries received in the carpenter’s department of this vessel during the action of today:

  1. Shot through bulwarks, forward of the port forward pivot gun’s ports.
  2. Shot passed through the launch, cutting in two six oars and two boat hooks, carrying away the boom stretcher and passing through the opposite hammock nettings.

Foremast slightly damaged by fragment of shell, 10 feet below top; starboard fore yardarm slightly damaged by shell.

One arm of starboard paddle wheel cut iu two, and a piece about 10 inches in diameter was cut out of the cast-iron support for shaft and driven into the ship’s side.

Respectfully submitted.

Geo. Swerdna,
Carpenter’s Mate.

Lieutenant G. W. Sumner,
                              Executive Officer.

—–

Abstract log of the U. S. S. Massasoit, Commander R. T. Renshaw, U. S. Navy.

January 24, 1865. — At 2:45 a. m. the Onondaga slipped her chain and went down below the pontoon bridge and came to anchor. At 3 slipped our chain and stood up and down the river. From 4 to 8 a.m.: Ship underway running up and down the river above the pontoon bridge. At 5:30 mail tug came down the river. Navy firing along the front. At 6:45 heard the sound of a Navy report up the river. Picket boat returned and reported a rebel ram below the obstructions. At 7:15 steamed up to our anchorage, got our chain, and banked fires. At 7:30 picket boat and ironclad torpedo boat Stromboli came down the river, reported one of the rebel steamers blown up. At 8:30 the Hunchback came up the river. Received a torpedo from the Stromboli. At 9:30 the Onondaga got underway and proceeded up the river. At 9:50 received orders to proceed up the river and prepare for action. At 10:08 got underway and stood up the river and took our station astern of the Onondaga, within range of Howlett’s house and swamp batteries. At 10:12 beat to quarters and prepared ship for action. At 10:35 opened fire upon the swamp and Howlett house batteries. While engaged with the batteries we were struck 8 times by the enemy’s shot and shell. Sustained no serious injury. One shell wounded 5 of our men. At 11:55 ceased firing and dropped out of range. At 12:15 p.m. came to anchor and beat the retreat. At 1:15 the Onondaga and torpedo boats came down the river and anchored.

Source:

  1. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XI, pages 647-649

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