Sam began his service in a stock control sort of occupation, and whilst in that capacity on-board the USS San Jacinta, was involved with the capture of two slave trading vessels loaded with more than 1,200 colored men, women and children destined to US auctions during 1860. The following year he would find himself in the midst of the famous Trent Affair where his vessel captured two former US Senators, then on the Confederate side, and heading off to Britain and France to perform duties for the Southern cause.
In recent blogs I mentioned Sam's duties as storesman and ultimately a Captain of The Hold whilst his vessel was supplying the schooners and Mortar flotilla sent to capture or silence the 177 powerful guns of Fort Jackson and St Philips at the mouth of the Mississippi River in Louisiana.
One of the forts saw her troops mutiny and ultimately surrender and the 2nd soon fell to the union's mortar flotilla. Thus, the water route up to New Orleans lay open for attack.
While the city was the largest in the Confederacy, it's defenses by water lay with the 2 defeated forts. Most other defenses were based on the assumption than the attacks would come from land routes. So when the forts were taken it had a massive problem.
It lay some 75 miles north of these forts and would soon meet the warships. A later historian would write that this was not a happy meeting. In is words the Confederates "made a sorry showing. Self destruction, lack of co-operation, cowardice of untrained officers and the murderous fire of the federal gunboats reduced the Confederate ships on site to demolished shambles."
Worse yet, because of the location of the city, and its levees, compounded with the high tides, nature was also its enemy. Ships riding higher than usual only had to place themselves right to be able to fire down into the city streets. Had they chosen to blow the levees, they could have simply flooded it. But they chose to take it... not destroy it. By the beginning of May the 3,000 troops were taken by Union land forces about 5,000 strong under General Butler. The largest Confederate city was no more in Confederate hands.
When the army entered the city, it soon gave in without any serious resistance.
Sam's vessel was soon dispatched to the area of Mobile Bay but upon arrival is was sent back to the Mississippi River to help with the fleet supplies as it moved north past New Orleans with a new target.
It was a burg like so many in the US. A burg being a small town or place. And this one was named after a minister who established a mission there in the early 1800's. His name was Newitt. Newitt VICKS and the area would soon be called Vicksburg.
That target lay some 220 miles up river from New Orleans. But before the Union could get there it has to deal with powerful hidden gun emplacements in a battery about 250 and 300 ft. above sea level at the bluffs known as Ellis' Cliffs.
Probably guessed it, but they were named after Ellis. Richard Ellis, again a large land owner from the 1780's.
Again Sam's men would be responsible for handling all the stores supplies, ammunition, weaponry etc to feed the 19 mortar boats and dozens of other vessels heading for Vicksburg.
Next week will conclude this little min-series on Sam.
But in the mean time please pay close attention to the national news on Thursday evening, Friday and Saturday. Watch for the coverage regarding the new marker unveiling at Washington DC at 11 a.m. on Friday.
This included considerable pomp and ceremony, the presenting of flags, the unveiling, activity with re-enactors, speechs and the attendance of many dignitaries from both the Canadian and US governments, and the military. And of most importance, several descendants of Nova Scotia born sailor, and Medal of Honor recipient Joseph Noil, who on Friday will finally get the honors he has deserved for well over 134 years.
My personal thanks to all who have helped to make that day, the success that I know it will be. My only regret is in not being able to be at the very foot, once again, of this hero's grave and participate in person with the events of the day.
Please do me a favor and send me info on any news coverage you see or hear regarding this service.
Cheers till next Sunday,