African American US Medal Of Honor Recipients During The Civil War – Part I: US Navy

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U.S. Navy poster featuring Medal of Honor recipient Aaron Anderson. Courtesy of the Naval History and Heritage Command # NH 103775.

The Medal of Honor was established in 1862 to honor soldiers and sailors who served beyond the call of duty. It is the United States’ highest military decoration. Battle flags were such significant fixtures on Civil War battlefields for both Union and Confederate armies, and many recipients were awarded their medals for defending or capturing a flag. Twenty-six  Medal of Honor awards were conferred upon African American service members during the Civil War. Eight were presented to naval personnel, the rest to soldiers. 

Landsman Aaron Anderson

Landsman Anderson served aboard the stores ship USS Wyandank with the Potomac Squadron. Anderson, who is also referred to as Sanderson, received his Medal of Honor for a small boat action on Mattox Creek, Virginia. Wyandank was a sidewheeler built in 1847 and was armed with one 20-pounder rifle and one 12-pounder smoothbore. While on blockading duty on the Potomac River on March 17, 1865, a cutter with one boat howitzer was launched from the USS Don. Ensign Summers commanded the boat, and Anderson was detailed to be among several men rowing the vessel. While clearing the creek’s left branch, the cutter came under heavy fire from about 400 Confederates. The launch continued to move forward to burn three schooners successfully.   Read more

USS Mississippi: Ship of the Manifest Destiny    

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Battle of Port Hudson, J.O. Davidson, artist. Facsimile print by L.. Prang & Co., 1887. Courtesy of Library of Congress.

When Matthew Calbraith Perry joined the U.S. Navy in 1809, he entered a service of sailing ships and smoothbore cannon. Yet, by the time of his death on March 4, 1858 — from rheumatism, complicated by gout and alcoholism — Perry was known as the “Father of the Steam Navy.”

Perry guided the US Navy’s transition from sail to steam and shot to shell. It was he who recognized how these new tools would ensure the Navy’s ability to project American trade and power throughout the world. His creations became a symbol of America’s industrialization and the Manifest Destiny.   Read more

Capture of New Orleans: Farragut’s Rise to Fame

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Map depicting the delta of the Mississippi River and approaches to New Orleans. Printed by Government printing office in 1904 as part of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies.

New Orleans was the largest city in the Confederacy with more than 120,000 inhabitants. This cosmopolitan community was a leading shipping, shipbuilding, and industrial center. The city controlled the commerce of the entire Mississippi Valley and its tributaries, like the Ohio, Missouri, and Red rivers. While it was ever so critical for the Confederacy to maintain control of this city, events elsewhere, especially in Tennessee, resulted in New Orleans having inadequate defenses and naval support. The city’s loss would have significant implications.

Confederate Naval Preparations

Much to the dismay of Major General Mansfield Lovell and Flag Officer George Hollins, New Orleans had been stripped of most of its soldiers, cannons, and warships. Many believed that the Federals would try to take New Orleans by way of Union forces coming down the Mississippi. Hollins argued, to a level of insubordination, that every effort possible be made to block the Union fleet access into the Mississippi River from the Gulf of Mexico. He advocated that as the Union ships were lightened to cross the bar into the Southwest passage, the Federals were very vulnerable to attack, and Hollins wished to do so. He created such an uproar that he was reassigned to Richmond, Virginia.   Read more

Way Back Wednesday

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1940 Hole in Great Hall-A

A couple of years ago I posted a similar picture showing this boat and hole from the outside.  You can see that here.  This is an interior shot showing our Portuguese fishing boat being moved into the building.  The boat is very large at over 50 feet long and 13 feet wide and so the only to get it into the building was to bust a hole in the wall.

This shot shoes men on the lake at Deer Park breaking ice, December 20, 1932   Read more

Way Back Wednesdays

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April 1937 Main entrance to museum

A new month means it’s time again for more #WayBackWednesdays photos, showing the exciting history of our museum.  This first picture (directly below) shows the front entrance of the museum (now the business entrance) in April of 1937.  A lot has changed since then as our museum has grown and further developed the area around the building.  I really like the old cars and buses visible in this shot as it makes you wonder if that was the only parking spot for museum visitors.  Probably so!

This next photo (below) shows children operating a bilge pump from USS Hartford that was placed at the museum.  The pump is ca 1865, so it’s great to see that it still worked for these kids.  Hartford was famous as the flagship of Rear Admiral Farragut during the Battle of Mobile Bay in 1964.  She was disposed of in Norfolk, Virginia in 1957, which is likely why we have the pump.  90+ years is an extremely long life for a ship, so she must’v been well built.   Read more