Sam's travels with the navy saw him participating in the saving of over 1200 coloured folk heading towards slavery, capturing the ship that became famous in the Trent Affair, involved in the destruction of key forts in the Mississippi River area and, in the last blog we see him still in the stores supply business and feeding the ships the ammunition and other goods en-route to tackle Vicksburg.
The silencing of about 175 Confederate guns at Forts Jackson and St Philip were noted last week, as was the fall of New Orleans soon after. Then the march, or should I say in Sam's case... the sail towards Vicksburg continued.
But before getting the entire flotilla of Union vessels up that far, some had been left to tackle the Ellis' Cliffs. Located about 160 miles up the Mississippi River, and still another 80 to the ultimate target... Vicksburg. These cliffs rose some 250-300 ft. above sea level and on top stood powerful concealed Confederate batteries that posed a threat to vessel movement up the Mississippi River. But the Confederate guns soon proved to be of little concern to the flotilla of about a dozen 13 inch very dangerous mortar ships. While most vessels could not raise their cannons to deal with such a high target, it was a breeze for the mortarmen.
Then came the sail to Vicksburg and one of the famous battles of the Civil War! Much has been written in this space about that battle in the past. Many Canadians served on the dozens of warships and army units in that battle.
Use the search engine at this site to discover some of these. Look for stories about soldiers Frederick Rock and Thomas Higgins... a fellow that was so brave, THE ENEMY were the ones who nominated him for a medal. Also look for the blog on sailor Frank Bois. All three would bring Medals of Honor back to Canada for bravery at Vicksburg.
And so would Sam. But that would come, not for his deeds at Vicksburg, but after service on may more ships and many more years would pass. It would happen 6 years after the Civil War was over, and during the Korean Expedition of June/July 1871.
Sam would still be wearing the uniform of a US Sailor, still in the supply business, but now as a Chief Quartermaster. As such his name would be recorded in the history books forever.
This next chapter in his life could be said to have started in September of 1866... without him.
The Sheridan began first as a Confederate blockade runner named the CSS Princess Royal but about half way through the Civil War she was captured by the Union, refitted and sent off to her duties along the Mississippi River. Possibly even getting supplies with Sam's fingerprints on them at some point. By war's end, the renamed ship was sold off and turned into a merchant trading vessel for private concerns, but one still rather heavily armored and dangerous if you made her mad.
There are many versions of events in September of 1866. what happened and why, but regardless it ended badly for the General.
Her crew of 21 had taken on supplies from British merchants in Japan and gone to Korean on a supposed??? trading mission. Traveling along a river towards the capital city they were stopped and asked why they had come to an area where the world well knew was not interested in trading with outsiders. Goods were offered by the ship, but these were refused as was the order of the day. A few supplies were allowed to be taken on board but instructions were given not to go forth. In fact the General was ordered to either leave or sit to await further instructions from superiors at the Korean capital.
Disregarding the orders, the ship moved forward till almost at the capital. Several incidents between ship and shore took place and clearly the Koreans felt this was an act of war. Firing became heavier and ultimately the General was set afire by shore actions and launched burning rafts. Those not already dead on board dove into the water, were taken ashore then beaten and or tortured to death.
For several years US warships attempted to find out what really happened. Bad weather turned some back, others got close but no answers.
In 1871 five US warships were sent determined to sort the matter out.
Sam was on one of these, and that comes next Sunday!