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ORN Series 1, Vol. X: Report of Acting Volunteer Lieutenant Amos P. Foster, USS Commodore Perry, June 16-17, 1864

Second report of Acting Volunteer Lieutenant Foster, U. S. Navy, regarding engagements with Fort Clifton.

U. S. S. Commodore Perry, June 23, 1864.


The USS Commodore Perry continued its attack near Fort Clifton on June 17, 1864.

Sir: In answer to your endorsement on my report of June 16, I would respectfully beg leave to report that Acting Ensign Arnold Harris, in command of army gunboat Chamberlin1,came on board this vessel at 6:30 a. m. of the 16th instant, and said that General Butler requested me to open fire as soon as possible on Fort Clifton.

At 7 o’clock a. m. I moved the steamer across the stream, and at 9 a. m. opened fire upon the fort.

At 5 p. m. I ceased firing, having expended 47 charges and 47 percussion shells, all of which did good execution.

At 7 p. m. Acting Ensign Arnold Harris and Lieutenant Bullard, of Brigadier-General Graham’s staff, came on board of this steamer.

Lieutenant Bullard had been ordered by General Butler to come on board and request me, early on the morning of the 17th instant, to open fire on the battery to the rear and left of Fort Clifton. This request I complied with.

I commenced firing on the 17th instant at 6 a. m. The first shot fired entered the battery; at the second shot the 100-pounder Parrott burst, killing John Wilson (seaman) instantly, and wounding Joseph Webb, Alfred N. Brown, Salvador Emanuel, Franklin W. Morgan (seamen), and Gilbert Young (ordinary seaman).

John Wilson was buried in the hospital burying ground at the Point of Rocks.

Four of the wounded men were transferred to the U. S. S. Osceola, and two were retained on board this vessel.

One of those transferred to the Osceola (Joseph Webb) has since died.

The two men remaining on board this vessel are improving rapidly. I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Amos P. Foster,
Acting Volunteer Lieutenant, Commanding.

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



Respectfully referred to the admiral commanding North Atlantic Blockading Squadron, James River, Virginia.

J. M. B. Clitz,
Commander, U. S. Navy.


Abstract log of the U. S. S. Commodore Perry.

June 16, 1864.—At 9 a. m. commenced to shell Fort Clifton with 100-pounder Parrott, firing at intervals of seven minutes during the watch. From 12 to 4 p. m.: Engaging the enemy all the watch, firing at intervals of seven minutes. At 5 ceased firing. Expended 49 rounds of 100-pounder shell and 4 rounds IX-inch shell. From 4 to 8 p. m.: Opened fire on Fort Clifton. At 7:40 cast off from wharf and dropped down stream.

June 17.—At 6 a. m. opened fire with 100-pounder rifle on Fort Clifton. At the second discharge the gun burst, killing 1 man and wounding 5, completely destroying cabin bulkhead and other woodwork on the starboard side of vessel. At 5:15 p. m. steamed up James River and came to, off Bermuda Hundred.2

  1. SOPO Editor’s Note: This is the army gunboat Charles Chamberlain, sometimes called Chamberlain or as in this case Chamberlin. She served with the Naval Brigade of the Army of the James at times.
  2. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Series 1, Volume X, p. 153
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