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ORN Series 1, Vol. X: Telegram of Flag Officer Jonathan K. Mitchell to Secretary of the Navy Stephen R. Mallory, June 21, 1864

Confederate Secretary of the Navy Stephen R. Mallory received this telegram of the Action at Howlett’s Bluff on the evening of June 21, 1864.

[Engagement of Federal fleet with Confederate ironclads and shore batteries at Howlett’s, June 21, 1864.]


Flagship VirginiaJune 21, 18647 p. m.

At 12:15 today the Virginia and Fredericksburg took up position, the former below Cox’s Landing and the latter at the ferry, with the gunboats HamptonNansemondRoanokeBeaufortand Drewryand opened fire on the enemy’s wooden vessels in the lower part of Trent’s Reach and Varina Reach.

The Richmond parted her wheel rope, which fouled her propeller, and she remains disabled. She goes up near the obstructions to-night to have it cleared. I was about proceeding lower down the river, near Howlett’s, when the piston was discovered to be out of order. The cylinder was removed and a chisel found in the cylinder. The engine is now in working order again. This vessel, the Fredericksburg, and the gunboats have directed their fire to-day against the enemy’s wooden vessels in Trent’s Reach and Varina Reach.

Jno. [Jonathan] K. Mitchell,
Commanding James River Squadron.

Secretary of the Navy.1

Map of the June 21, 1864 Action at Howlett's Bluff

This map shows the June 21, 1864 Action at Howlett’s Bluff, covered in this telegram sent by Flag Officer Mitchell. 


  1. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Series 1, Volume 10, p. 186
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