• Sunrise over the Fort George River in the Timucuan Preserve.

    Timucuan

    Ecological & Historic Preserve Florida

Commander Maxwell Woodhull's Letter Book

Photo of the Woodhull memorial flagstaff in Arlington National Cemetery

Woodhull memorial flagstaff in Arlington National Cemetery

Arlington National Cemetery

Commander Maxwell Woodhull, born in New York City in 1813, commanded the U.S.S. Cimerone (whose name was later officially changed to Cimarron), a side-wheel steam gunboat, bringing it to the St. Johns River in October 1862 to support army operations during the battle of St. Johns Bluff. Woodhull survived the war, but was accidentally killed during a ceremonial gun salute in Baltimore in 1863. One of the two flagstaffs in Arlington National Cemetery is dedicated to Woodhull and his son, Maxwell Van Zandt Woodhull.

Multiple spellings of "Cimerone" are used in the records. The spelling went through a formal name change. For more information and the letter book's citation, see the links at the bottom of the page.

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U.S.S. "Cimerone"
St. Johns River Fla
Oct. 3rd 1862

Sir

I have the honor to report that in obedience to your order, I ascended this river yesterday with this vessel accompanied by the "Water Witch" and "Uncas" for the purpose of making a reconnaissance of the forts at St John's Bluff.

The result of my observations were such as led me to believe that there are four or five heavy guns mounted at that place, besides either one or two rifled pieces, and that since the last engagement with the Flotilla under your Command, one (if not more) battery has been erected below the principal battery on the Bluff.

On my reaching abreast of Sisters Creek, the Batteries opened a heavy, and well directed, fire, principally from the heaviest of their guns, the missiles striking all around the "Cimerone," their …. being so accurately timed, that the explosion of the shells threw the water on our decks. This vessel promptly responded to their fire, and the others, as their guns came within range.

Owing to the adverse state of the tide and wind, combined with the bad steering qualities of this vessel, great difficulty was experienced in maneuvering her, so as to bring all her battery in full effect. While attempting this, when about two hundred yards above the entrance of "Sisters Creek" we got ashore, and notwithstanding all our exertions, we lay for fifteen minutes exposed to a raking fire from the forts, and the "Water Witch" in coming up at the same time also unfortunately got aground. By a sudden flow of wind, providentially, we payed off, and got afloat, when I steamed down the River one hundred yards or so, to take a new start, when it was reported to me that a gun had been fired from the "Paul Jones" which had a Signal flying, and in obedience to which I steamed just out of range of the Forts, and dropped anchor together with the "Water Witch" and "Uncas" after being under fire for an hour and a half.

I have to state that the conduct of the officers, and crew of this vessel elicited my warmest commendation, and their coolness while we were ashore, exposed to a raking fire of the enemy, the shells bursting on all sides of us (during which every evolution that the position required was performed in a satisfactory manner) called forth my surprise and admiration.

It is with pleasure that I have no casualities to notify you of, our escape without loss appearing miraculous -- the vessel in company supposing us to have been repeatedly struck, so well directed were the guns of the Enemy.

All of which I most respectfully submit for your consideration.

I am
Very Respectfully
Your Obt Servant
M Woodhull
Commander USN

Commander Charles Steedman
Commandg. U.S. Flotilla
St Johns River
Gunboat Paul Jones

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U.S.S. Cimerone
Jacksonville St Johns River
October 7th 1862

Sir

Agreeably to your orders, I proceeded on the afternoon of Saturday the 4th inst, to this place, where I arrived about nine o'clock p.m. I had great difficulty in geting (sic) the Cimerone up the River having to anchor five times, owing to her defective steering qualities, and had almost determined to discontinue the effort, but recollecting the importance of the duty assigned us. I determined to get my vessel up to this place even had it become necessary to resort to towing her up with her boats. We literally made the passage going stern foremost.

On Sunday morning, I embarked onboard the Gun Boat "Water Witch" and with the Steamer "Hale" in company proceeded up the River, stopping frequently on both banks and destroyed all the boats and hulls we could discover. I will state as regards this part of my instruction we could not have destroyed less than some two or three hundred boats of various descriptions large and small, which doubtless will be a great loss and inconvenience to the "Rebel" Cause."

We stopped at "Magnolia Springs" but could find but one family in that locality, as it was at certain times a public place of resort. I having some papers containing the President's late Proclamation relating to emancipation, caused one of them to be carefully posted for the information of those best concerned, also I may say I did the same thing at two other localities.

We anchored for the nights at Madisons Point opposite the plantation of Mr. "Cornelius Du Point (sic)," and about five miles below "Orange Mills," it not being deemed safe to pass the flat or bar 'till daylight. Next morning finding the "Water Witch" could not safely pass the flat, I left her, and proceeded up in the "Hale." At 10. o.clock, we arrived at "Palatka." As we approached the landing at this place, there were but two people in sight, everything seemed to be deserted, and the town abandoned to us to do with it whatever we chose. On anchoring I sent a boat on shore for the two persons above mentioned. They proved to be Ex. Gov. Moseley of this state, and a person named Blood (a Northern man.) The Governor represented things to be in a very gloomy state. The late reverses of the Confederates, and our unexpected and unpromised success has greatly alarmed the people living on this River. He being asked where all the men were (as it was a matter of remark with us, that in our passage from Jacksonville to this place (with the exception mentioned at Magnolia) we had not seen one white man, save the two now onboard the "Hale"), he said they had all fled to the bush, as a report had been circulated by the flying troops from St Johns Bluff, that it was the purpose of "us vandals" to sieze (sic) every white man and either execute him at once, or send him to a Northern Prison. I also learned that only about forty or fifty of the sitting cavalry" crossed at this point, with some twelve mules, the draft animals of their baggage train, which (some five waggons (sic) in all) had been abandoned at a place called "deep Creek." Mr. Blood informed me that his life was threatened, and was in fear momently of being seized and made to ornament a pine tree, for his well known Union views and attachments to the U.S. Gov.'m't. Under the circumstances I ordered a couple of armed boats sent on shore to bring his family and property on board the "Hale." I also sent Gov. Mosely on shore to see the people, and tell them to return to this town, and also to inform them that as usual they had been deceived by their own people, that it was not the purpose of the Government to molest unarmed men, and that the future existence of their town would depend upon their own peacefull (sic) conduct.

Our boats had been on shore not over fifteen minutes, when a good deal of confusion was observed among the blacks. On closer observation we found that a body of some forty or fifty armed horsemen were approaching the rear of the vicinity of Mr. Blood's house opposite to which at the landing were our boats. I immediately recalled the boats, hove up the anchor, and the Hale being perfectly under command I directed Lieut Comg. Snell to elevate his guns so as to fire over the town. We could see plainly from the mast-head, the Rebels making their approach. When the order was given to fire, it was extremely well executed, every shell exploding nearly over the heads of the enemy. They at first attempted to make a bold push for the cover of the houses, but our shells becoming more urgent in their demand, for the party to ….., and they having lost some three or four killed or wounded, they took the "back track," to the bush, and disappeared in the swamp. We then executed our purpose of removing the family of Mr. Blood. Presently some "Blacks" informed us that the families of our Black Pilots would be hanged as soon as we left. I considered the services of these faithfull (sic) men, commenced in doing all I could to prevent such a piece of "savagery" and accordingly I brought off all the family, wives, sons, daughters and even their grand-children to the number of about thirty persons.

The men having fled the place, I was requested to meet a deputation of women, who had assembled on the wharf headed by a Mrs. Boyd. She stated that the men had fled to the swamps, that a part of the disorganized Cavalry were in the neighborhood, that they were uncontrolable (sic), and she begged me, as they were unable to help themselves or prevent the violence of the men, not to shell the town. I told them that their pretense of having no influence with the men, just now, I did not believe, as it was a well known fact that this war had been mainly kept alive through the violence and the influence of women of the South, brought to bear on their Fathers, Husbands and Sons. The only promise I would give them, was, if the force back of the town was immediately removed, and the quiet citizens left undisturbed, I would not then shell the town, otherwise I should do so in two hours. Mrs. Boyd said she had already sent a message to the commdr of the "Guerrillas" (or Partizans as she called them) requesting him to leave that locality, and she was happy to inform me that they had already left. Wishing to be polite, I pretended to believe it was her influence that sent those Gentlemen to the right about, but at the same time did not change my belief in the compelling powers of our shells.

The people are generally in a destitute condition. The corn crop is only about an average one, but is believed about sufficient for the ordinary consumption of the state. The wheat crop of Georgia is almost a total failure. Their great want and the great want of the whole Confederate Army is the article of salt. The Cattle of Georgia, Alabama, North and South Carolina have all been consumed, Texas and the rich grazing country to the westward of the Mississipi (sic) being cut off. The whole dependence of the Confederate Govt to feed their army now rests on this state. I have it from reliable sources that its agents are now all over the state buying all the cattle obtainable paying any price so they can get the animals. The only dependence the people of Georgia and Florida have for their sugar is that raised along the banks of this River. A great blow at this war would be the entire destruction of the sugar crop and the small "salt-works" along the shore coast of this state. I understand though the quantity produced is not large, it is the main source from which at least three states draw their supplies. This is a very important matter and I respectfully suggest your consideration regarding it.

All the mills owned by union men have been destroyed. There are now but two mills remaining on the River, from its entrance to Palatka, one at "May Port" and the other at Orange Pt. The latter is owned by a most malignant Rebel, one Dr. Mays. He has been one of the most prominent movers in the Rebellion, and lately was very forward in raising the troops lately assembled at St John's Bluff. One of his sons living near the mills is captain of a company called the "Partizan Rangers" also his son-in-law "Gimkins is captain of another company of similar troops both of which were at St John's Bluff, and participated in the hasty flight. The old Doctor is the man who suggested the idea to Gov. Milton of ordering all persons taken from the Gun Boats prisoner to be immediately hung. I think if half of what is said of him and what he has been guilty of toward Union men be true, his punishment would be light in the total destruction of his property at Orange Mills. The Ferry Man at Jacksonville is a rabid secessionist and has been one of the most active and persistent rebels in these parts.

I am under obligation to Capt Pendergrast of the Water Witch and Lieut Comdg Snell of the "Hale" for their promptness, zeal, and effectiveness with which they assisted me in performing the duty you entrusted to me for execution, the result I beg leave to submit for your consideration.

I am
Very Respectfully
Your Obt Servant
MWoodhull
Commdr USN

Commdr. Chas. Steedman
Comndg US Flotilla
St. John's River Florida
US Gunboat Paul Jones

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U.S.S. Cimerone
Jacksonville. Fla
Oct. 11th 1862

Sir

I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of yours of the 10th inst. Your orders have been duly executed.

In regard to the difficulty on board the "Uncas," I can plainly see by the tenor of your communications that my hasty note did not clearly state the facts sufficiently, or you would certainly exhonorate me from blame in the whole matter.

Yesterday morning the Uncas was brought along side and secured. The Cimerone's crew then went to Breakfast. Capt Crane simply reported to me the fact that he had the coals, and shortly afterwards before the men had been turned to that his crew had refused work, giving no reason on the cause for this extraordinary conduct. The Executive Officer Mr. Taylor had arrainged (sic) to send men on board the "Uncas" as soon as our men had Breakfasted. Of course I was indignant and surprised (sic), I talked to the crew of the Uncas and told them they had committed a great breach of discipline, using the lightest term by which their conduct could be characterized. I asked them several times their reason for the course they were persuing (sic) but they simply gave the answer that they wee determined not to work. I then picked out the ringleaders who Capt Crane said were the men who commenced the disturbance and had them placed in "irons." Now this took some time to execute and not till after all I have related above had been done, was I told that the Uncas crew required help from my vessel to assist them in getting the coal out.

Was I right or wrong at that time in not making a compromise with a mutinous set of men, refusing to obey my orders or those of their own Captain and my crew looking on waiting and watching the result. Was it to be expected that this crew was to be permitted to have a triumph over me, in presence of my crew and officers? Was I doing wrong when I determined to compel the violated laws of the Navy to be obeyed, and to so send the offender where there was a force to compell that obedience and permit the offenders?

I respectfully think otherwise and believe sincerely had I had the time to have written you a full account of the matter I should have received your approval. I wrote the hasty note trusting to Capt Crane to fill up the gaps . These are the facts. I acted on my judgment having had in my Naval experience no such event before as an example for my guidance.

I think the whole difficulty has originated through the imprudence and indiscrete talk of the young officers on board of the "Uncas." If I may judge from the expression of one of her Masters Mates Newlind, who was talking loudly, to the effect that it was not right and a shame, to make that vessel a coal Drogger for the Squadron … from this I judge has grown the indiscipline of the crew.

I beg to assure you, I did what I did, believing it would meet with your hearty approval. I did it not knowing what better to do, to demonstrate to both the crew of my own vessel and that of the "Uncas" that there was authority and law sufficient to compel order and obedience. If I was wrong in my conclusions I regret it. I will say however I feel quite sure I neither desired nor intended disrespect to you.

All of which is most Respectfully submitted for your consideration.

Respectfully Your Obt Servant
M Woodhull
Commdr USA

Capt Charles Steedman
Com. St John's Flotilla Fla
USS Paul Jones

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U.S.S. Cimerone
Jacksonville Fla
Oct. 11th 1862

Sir

Proceed with all dispatch down the River to the locality of the Paul Jones, and deliver the accompanying dispatches, on your way make a close reconnaissance of "Yellow Bluff" using your discretion as to shelling it as you pass.

Please say to Capt. Steedman I shall retain the Uncas near me till you return or till further orders from him.

Your further acting must depend upon what further orders you may receive from the Commdr-in-chief of the Flotilla.

Respectfully
Your Obt. Servant
MWoodhull
Commdr USN

Lt Commdg
Austin Pendergrast
USS Water Witch

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U.S.S. Cimerone
Jacksonville Fla
October 11th 1862

Sir

I am informed by Capt Crane that last evening while at anchor below Yellow Bluff he saw a number of lights moving about that locality and is of the impression that the rebels are at work doing something to cause an interruption of the River in that place.

Should not a large force be landed there, and the breastworks (which I understand is made to be occupied with eight guns) be leveled, the houses burned and the neighboring woods cut down so we could see at all times if any thing is being done.

I understand also that Col Titus one of Walkers men crossed the River from the right bank to the left one some two miles below this, and has gone to Tallahasse (sic). He is an able soldier and may have gone to that place to get means to arm that point.

There is a little Steamer in a creek between this and Palatka, which can easily be captured, if the "Darling" or the "Milton" was up here to execute it with sufficient force. I have a contraband on board who offers to guide us to her hiding place. I presume she is the "Silver Spring" or some name like it.

I wish you would recollect that my vessel is getting so light what with her expenditure of fuel, provisions, and her mun9tions that she is almost unmanageable. If a battery should be placed at Yellow Bluff I will be in a precarious position from this very cause. I doubt much if I could get now safely down without having a tow from one of the small Steamers to keep her head in the right course. She requires at least one hundred tons of something or other to keep her in steering trim.

I understand there are some troops back on the St Augustine road. I have moved my vessel and the Water Witch more in the middle of the River, so as to command better both banks.

I think we ought to (if it is desirable to hold this place with Gun Boats) have more force. I believe something is going on. It was reported to me, that a person on shore told one of my crew (while there hunting up the Steam pumps) that General Finnegan had said he had plenty of guns left yet and would this time make a battery we could not take or drive him from. Whether this is true or otherwise, it is a warning not to be disregarded. I think Yellow Bluff could be speedily and pretty effectively armed, sufficiently so at all events to give us much trouble, and loss of life before we could make any impression upon it.

The Hale went up yesterday morning. She is expected back tonight. I send the Uncas down with orders to thoroughly shell Yellow Bluff, and then hasten to your anchorage - do send me word as soon as possible the condition of things below.

Respectfully Your
Obt Servant
WWoodhull
Commdr USN

Capt Chas. Steedman USN
Comm St John's Flotilla
USS Paul Jones

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U.S.S. Cimerone
St. John's River Fla
October 17th 18[62]

Sir

I have the honor to refer you to survey held on this vessel when last at Port Royal. You will perceive that the opinion was that the "Cimerone" was in a pretty bad condition, and required strengthening and other necessary repairs; since she has been in this locality she has very much increased her disability. The heavy firing and long continued use of her guns has materially shaken her, and now she shows her weakness much more than ever before. The Engine frame has considerably more spread and the same may be said of her hull. This fact is no longer a surmise but its "actuality" is evident by the loosening of all her caselines and ledges amidship. The Cimerone is badly fastened and what she has are insufficient in quantity. She requires a thorough overhauling and caulking, and her engine frame properly got in its place and secured before she can be again actively employed.

Believing it my duty to make this statement to you I beg leave to submit if for your consideration.

Very Respy etc
MWoodhull
Commdr USN

Capt
S. W. Godon USN
Senior Officer Commdg
S.A.B. Squadron

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U.S.S. Cimerone
St Johns River Florida
Oct 17th 1862

Sir

Enclosed is a full statement of the firing of "Great Guns" on board of this vessel, up to date.

Very Respy
MWoodhull
Commdr USN

Capt J. A. Dahlgren
Bureau Ordnance
Washing DC

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U.S.S. Cimerone
St. John's River Fla
Oct 21st 1862

Sir

I have the honor to inform you that I have had the "Prize Steamer Gov. Milton" armed with two twenty four Pdr. Howitzers and up to this time she has proved very …

Yesterday I fitted out an expedition composed of fifty men and all the marines of this vessel, which proceeded on board the Milton in charge of Lieut Commdg Bush-Taylor to "Cedar Point." The purpose of which was to destroy the Salt Works in that locality I am happy to inform you of the entire success of the undertaking. The works were found to be of larger proportions than generally believed, everything was totaly (sic) destroyed, consisting of six cast iron (eight feet in diameter) "boiling pans," and a large seventeen feet tubelar (sic) boiler, with furnaces all complete.

Since the departure of the Paul Jones, I have kept the Hale and the Milton constantly cruizing (sic) between this anchorage, and the point above "Yellow Bluff." So far everything appears to be quiet.

The coal vessel has been discharged ballusted, and will proceed to sea this morning, her "Bill of Lading" calls for two hundred and twenty five tons of coal, but all we can account for having received from her is something less than two hundred tons viz. Eighty tons to the Paul Jones, Eighty one to this vessel, and thirty three or four to the Hale. I do not think the difference is chargeable to the Capt of the Schooner, and very much doubt if the full quantity named was put on board at the shipping Port. I have endorsed on the bill of Lading the amount realy (sic) received.

The "Neptune" arrived this morning and part of my crew are being employed loading her with lumber and a number of valuable articles found at the "May Port Mills."

I realy (sic) think if it is desirable to hold this River throughout its whole extent we should have more force. This vessel and the Hale are not sufficient for the purpose. The Milton cannot be much relied upon and I fear to trust her beyond signal distance.

I shall use all the vigilance in my power and do all I can to prevent the Enemy from giving us further trouble. More than that I do not think the force I have can accomplish.

I am happy to report the general good health of the men and officers employed in the Blockade of this port.

Very Respectfully
I have the honor to be
Your Obt Servant
MWoodhull
Commdr USN

Capt S. W. Godon USN
Senior Officer Commdg
S.A. Blkdg Squadron
Port Royal S.C.

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U.S.S. Cimerone
St John's River Fla
Oct. 21st 1862

Sir

You will proceed without delay to Ossabau Island and on arrival there report to Senior Officer present, you will tow two of the largest scows laying at May Port Mills, to the same destination as they are very much required, and every effort must be made to accomplish it.

I shall furnish you with a twelve Pdr. Howitzer with a sufficient amount of ammunition. It is very easy to learn to use, and how to fire it. I think it will be quite sufficient for your defense en route.

Please on your arrival at the point directed above, transfer the said gun to the Senior Naval Officer present, or as he may further direct. I wish you a safe and speedy passage.

I am
Respectfully
Your Obt Servant
MWoodhull
Commdr USN

Capt Lathrop
Com Stmr Gov Milton

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U.S.S. Cimerone
St John's River Fla
Oct 22nd 1862

Sir

Yesterday morning the Gun Boat "Seneca" arrived off the bar. I immediately sent a boat to communicate with her. I did not get your dispatch till 8 P.M. I then immediately gave orders to have the Gov. Milton got ready to proceed without any unnecessary delay as you directed. There was something to be done to the engine, which would take, it is said a couple of hours. At the termination of that time, steam was got up, and I expected to see her "en route" a few moments after; but unfortunately something broke down, and in consequence the steam had to be let off, and work recommenced on her. I have had any Engineers and Mechanics at work, all night getting her in steaming order again and I am happy to inform you that she left for her destination this morning at 11 am.

I have put on board her the "Cimerones" twelve Pounder Howitzer, with sufficient ammunition to aid in her protection, should an effort be made to inte4cept her; also a week's provisions for all hands.

I gave orders regarding the scows, and it is not practical. The scows cannot be got through "Sisters Creek." The Capt. of the Gov. Milton was very desirous to accomplish it, but he assures me upon further inspection of the Creek that it is impossible to be done. I have further the opinion of my Executive Officer and Pilot, both concur in the same statement I consequently was obliged reluctantly to give it up. I think the scows are hardly worth moving that distance. The are old and leaky, water loged (sic) and float deeply.

I regret that I have been unable to execute all your orders, but the circumstances have controlled my wishes to do so.

The little Steamer is a great loss to us, as she could be made very usefull in various ways. Besides with the battery I had placed on board of her (two 24 Pounder) she could have aided me much in keeping possession of the River. There has been seen at various times in the last two days small groups of Guerrilla's wandering about in this neighborhood, on both banks, of the River. They have even approached the vicinity of the entrance of the Harbor. I have been unable to reach them as yet, as they too cautiously keep without the range of our guns, how large their force may be back of this, I am unable to ascertain. I think we ought to have an additional vessel, if it is desirable to keep the River open to the whole extent, without that addition it will I fear be an invitation to the enemy to put further difficulties in our way. [This will be dispatched by the Neptune.

Very Respy
MWoodhull
Commdr USN

Capt S. W. Gordon USN
Senior Officer Present
Port Royal, S. C.

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U.S.S. Cimerone
St John's River Fla
Nov. 8th 1862

Admiral

I have the honor to report that up to this time everything remains quiet, as far as it is possible for us to ascertain. I have maintained constant reconnaissance of the River, as far up as "Jacksonville." The inhabitants of that town seem to be regaining their confidence, and it is observable that a goodly number of absentees have returned.

The Guerrillas are still in numbers on each side of the River. I have "given it out" that should any of "these parties" give on any of our steamers or boats, I would retaliate and burn everything in the neighborhood of the locality.

We have the neucleus of a white colony at Pilot Town, consisting of five men, three women, and some half dozen children, and a number of blacks, fugitives escaping from the despotism of the Rebel Leader in these parts. The new conscript law of the Confederates is leaning very hard on the people along the boarder of the River. I think if we could promise protection, we would soon have an "exodus" of them, escaping the region.

It is also said that the reported intention of removing the Florida troops to another district and substituting Georgia or Alabama troops for them is very unpopular, and it is believed that a large desertion is likely to occur in consequence among the Floridians. I have acted on this matter through my own judgment. I should be pleased to know your views, and also your orders regarding the future of this little colony. They are destitute of almost everything and express the wish to go to one of the Western States to settle, after the Winter is over. They are all southern born, and consequently dread the winter of the North.

It is reported to me through several sources that there is now in operation at "Indian River" an extensive "Salt Works". It is represented that a large "working force" is now employed dayly in the manufacture of this necessary article. They have some one hundred pans and boilers. I send you this information as I deem it of importance that you should know it.

The engines of the Cimerone are dayly becoming less trustworthy, and the critical condition of the frame is more manifest. I realy think she should have the proper repairs made without further delay, also from the long continued firing of her heavy guns in her late operations against St John's Bluff have increased her inherent weakness of hull. She requires and ought to be strengthened thoroughly and her rudder enlarged or altered to make her an effective vessel.

I have only about twenty days provisions, and about ten days coals, with only a bout fifty rounds of ammunition for our heavy guns. Will you be pleased to give some order as regards our renewal of these necessities.

If we had a small Steamer in addition to the Hale and this vessel, we could could (sic) do a good many things we are now debared(sic) from the execution off (sic).

The officers and crews of the vessel upon this part of the Blockade are in good health.

I have the honor to be
Very Respectfully
Your Obt Servant
M Woodhull
Commdr USN

Rear Admiral
S. F. Dupont USN
Commdg S.A. Blkd. Sqdrn
Port Royal S.C.

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U.S.S. Cimerone
St John's River Fla
Nov. 9th 1862


Admiral,

I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your communication of the 8th inst. And also to inform you that I had arrainged to carry out the plan you proposed as it came to hand.

On the morning of the 4th, I dispatched the "Hale" to Nassau River, to Neptune and bring away the two vessels said to be in that locality. I now have the pleasure to inform you of the perfect success of the enterprise, one vessel the "Pilot Boat Wave" we found fully leaded and ready for sea, she was brought off easily, her cargo consists of cotton and turpentine. The Wave is an old acquaintance, she was formerly know as the "Friends" of Fernandina. This vessel was found in "Loftons(?) Creek," she had been fired but not damaged. Those having her in charge escaped too suddenly to make good their efforts towards her destruction.

At "Holmes Mills" was found a schooner of about "fifty tons," she was an old vessel, uncoppered, without lading, and appeared to have been out of service and laid up for some time. Under the circumstances she was burned. It is also reported to me that at "Holmes Mills" is accumulated an immense quantity of fine to nearly a million feet, ought it not to be removed, vessels loaded draining 11 ½ feet can pass the Bar of Nassau River. Five good low draught empty coal vessels could accomplish this, and the whole business (if a few extra hands were sent on board the vessels to aid the loading) could e accomplished without risk or loss of life in a couple or three days. These mills are upon a small island, easily defended. Most of this lumber is suitable for decks, just the material most wanted and most difficult to be obtained as our Navy Yards at the North.

I sent the Wave, subject to your orders, to Port Royal deeming her too small a vessel to risk at this season of the year a voyage to New York or Philadelphia. The schooner appears to be a stout little affair, and would make a capital dispatch boat.

Capt Snell informs me that twenty two "Contrabands" took advantage of the presence of the Hale, by accompanying her down the River, then in boats proceeded by the inland passages to Fernandina, he also says there were no signs of our enemy at any point of the River to be seen, or could he discover that the River had been used by the Blockade Runners for the past three or four months.

Enclosed I send you the crew list of the Hale containing the names of all connected with the capture of the "Rebel Schooner Wave."

All of which I have the honor to submit for your consideration.

Very Respectfully etc
M Woodhull
Commdg USN

Rear Admiral
S.F. Dupont
Comdg S A Blkdg Sqdrn
Port Royal
S.C.

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U.S.S. Cimerone
St. John's River
Nov 12th 1862

Sir

You will please proceed with the Uncas on a reconnaissance of the River, as far up as "Trout Creek" and even to "Jacksonville" if you feel inclined. Be particular in nearing "Jacksonville" to examine the high ground a few miles below it, as it is talked about by the Rebels as a very good place for a battery. On your "route" destroy all "boats" and "Water Conveyances" you discover, give refuge to all desiring protection, and obtain all the information as regards the movements of the "Enemy's forces" on either bank you possible can. Be cautious not to risk the lives of your men and officers unnecessarily. I have information that at "Trout Creek" near the entrance into the River, there has been a picket guard of the enemy at that point. I wish you to examine particulary (sic) this locality.

Respectfully etc. etc.
MWoodhull
Commdr USN

Capt Wm. Watson
Commdg U.S.S. "Uncas"
St Johns River

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U.S.S. Cimerone
St John's River Florida
Nov 14th 1862

Admiral

I have the honor to inform you that every thing remains as at the date of my last letter. I have had the River thoroughly examined three times since the sailing of the "Hale," as far up as "Jacksonville." The Guerrillas have apparently left both banks of the River, at least nothing has been seen of them for the past week.

The little Colony continues gradualy (sic) to increase. We have had within the last week additions of both Whites and Blacks. I think something ought to be done as to its future. If it is decided to remove it, a transport will have to be sent for the purpose, as none of the Gun-boats could give the accomidations (sic) necessary for so large a number of people.

We will soon have to be supplied with provisions, as we have only about ten days rations left. The partial feeding of so many mouths on shore, in addition to the crew of this vessel, will soon cause the expenditure of what is now on hand.

The health of the officers and crews on this part of the Blockade continues to be excellent.

Very Respy etc etc
MWoodhull
Commdr USN

Rear Admiral
S. F. Dupont
Commdg S.A. Blkg Sqdrn

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U.S.S. Cimerone
St John's River Fla
[n.d.]

Sir

There has been expended from this ship since your arrival and others at Pilot Town, some one hundred dollars in "small silver change," a sum deemed sufficient with the U.S. Treasury Notes to transact all the business of ….., permitted to be transacted on board the Gun Boats now in or visiting this River. Now I direct that in order that this little trade may not be interfered with, that this "small change" shall be kept in circulation. The further "hoarding of it," will compell (sic) me to forbid all further trade, as this is considered an advantageous arraingement (sic) for all concerned. I hope you will intimate to the persons on shore, the necessity of a full compliance with it, as trade cannot be conducted without it.

Very Respy etc
MWoodhull
Commdr USN

Mr. Krace ????????
Pilot Town
St John's River Fla

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U.S.S. Cimerone
St John's River Fla
Nov 24th 1862

Admiral

I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of yours of the 20th inst. I feel much gratified that my services in this locality meet with your approval.

Everything remains as at the date of my last letter. The "Guerrillas" occasionly (sic) show themselves in the neighborhood of Jacksonville, but not in number sufficient to occasion any anxiety, or interfere with the use of the River as we may desire.

The Colony at Pilot Town now contains nearly one hundred men, women, and children, white and Black, and the number is gradualy (sic) on the increase. Every fresh arrival brings the information that desertions are of daly (sic) occurrence among the "Florida Troops." Some go to Fernandina others to Augustine, and to this point. I am assured that if a permanent post were established at this place protected by half a company of Soldiers so as to give confidence to those people escaping (from unwilling service) of safety from recapture there would be a rapid melting away of the armed men composing the whole military strength of this part of Florida, which so far as I can ascertain does not average over "four hundred Men." The Georgia troops are all being recalled, and it is not likely they will soon be permitted to return. The people along the River bank are well disposed to us and I am satisfied from their conversation that they are very tired of the war, that discontent, and discouragement is very prevalent among the masses. The destitution in this region of the country is very great and the want of clothing of all kinds is their greatest need. Such is the existing state of affairs up to this time.

I have the men of the Pilot Town Colony arrainged (sic) as a guard, all the avenues of approach from Cedar Pt and "Trout Creek" perfectly blockaded with a heavy "Abatis" and if moderate vigilance is observed it will be difficult for the enemy to assail it. As you are aware there is no means of support for the people on the Island, save what is obtained from the vessels in the River. I am consequently compelled to furnish food to them. I presume under the circumstances this is all right. Still I should very much like to have your views for my future government and also as to the future of these people.

I shall be very nearly out of coals by the first of the month, as also the "Uncas." Can we have a small coal vessel dispatched to us. We could easily accomidate (sic) two hundred irons.

The "Cimerone" is realy (sic) in a very bad state, and should be repaired without further delay. She must be placed on a dock and "shored up" to bring her into shape again. She is evidently spreading and the safety of her Engine is critical.

I am very happy in being permanently attached to your command, and it will be my study to execute all your orders to the utmost of my ability.

The health of the officers and crews of the vessels composing this part of the Blockade I am pleased to inform you is excellent.

Very Respy etc etc
MWoodhull
Commdr and Senior Off.
St John's River

Rear Admiral
S. F. Dupont USN
Comm S. A. Blkdg Sqdr
Port Royal
S.C.

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U.S.S. Cimerone
St John's River Florida
Nov 24th 1862

Sir

It affords me much pleasure in testifying to your ability and zeal, and also to your coolness, and efficiency while under fire. Your qualification as a fine drill officer has been of much service on board this vessel, and your general adaptability for the Naval Service, and your Moral and Gentlemanly conduct cannot be questioned. I do therefore recommend you to the favorable consideration of the Department, hoping your good conduct in the three actions we have been engaged in, will with your other qualifications, be deemed sufficient inducement for the Set of the Navy to grant you the appointment as Ensign. It would be very gratifying to all on board this vessel, to hear that your application had received a favorable issue.

Very Respectfully
Your Obt Servant
MWoodhull
Commdg Senior Officer
St. Johns Blkd

Charles H. Poor Sr
Capts Clerk

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Nov 24th 1862
Lieut. Mr. Witters Resignation to the Navy Department
MWoodhull

Nov 24th 1862
Sent List of Crew of this vessel to Rear Admiral Dupont, as desired.
MWoodhull

Nov 24th 1862
Sent application of Mr. Markoe for Ensignship to Admiral to be forwarded
MWoodhull

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U.S.S. Cimerone
St. John's River. Fla
Nov. [n.d.] 1862

Admiral,

I have the honor to inform you that everything is quiet in this region. I never allow a day to pass without a thourough(sic) reconnaissance (sic) of all suspected points on the River, and so far as it is possible to judge, I think there is no reason to apprehend for some time, any serious movement that might disturb this satisfactory state of affairs.

The White Colony I wrote you about some time since, is gradually increasing; since my last, we have had the addition of five white men and one woman, besides several blacks. Pilot town has now a population of thirty five souls. I feel assured, from what I can gather from those who have gained this place of refuge, that these are numbers that will join us as soon as circumstances will permit them to escape. I realy believe that if a "certainty of protection" was proclaimed, we would soon have enough men to form a company, these people are generally destitute of almost everything, as they leave at night in small boats, and are compelled necessarily, to confine their belongings to the smallest amount, and the abandonment of their other property. I furnish them with a certain amount of food, to wit: to every six persons, I allow four rations of Salt, Beef, Pork, Rice, and Molasses, no bread or other parts of the rations. This with the corn some of them brought with them, and the fish they obtain, has been enough to keep these poor people in sufficient food. If these people are sent North we will have to clothe them. If the Colony is broken up, we then lose the advantage of this neucleus, for those to rally around who might otherwise be compelled to give their services to the Rebels. I should be greatly obliged to be informed, as to your ??? regarding the course to be pursued towards these unfortunate people.

I have information that in a certain locality, a few miles above "Jacksonville" there is a large amount of cotton stowed in bulk. It has been there concealed for the last eighteen months. I have refrained from going near the place, until I can have the aid of an additional small vessel to hold the bar and lower bar (??) of the River while we are engaged …..above the point necessary to be guarded. The enterprise will keep till you can conveniently give us the resources to make the capture sure.

There are numerous Salt Works in opperation (sic) along the Coast south of this. Georgia, a part of Alabama, and this state, depend principaly (sic) on these works for the supply of this article. I understand that salt is so scarce that it now brings in this state as high a price as forty dollars per sack, and by the slip I send you, cut from a fragment of the "Savannah Dayly Morning News of Oct 24," (found on shore at "Holmes Hills") you will see it was being sold at Atlanta at $140 per sack; nothing I can conceive would strike a heavier blow at the Confederate forces, than the total destruction of all salt works on the coast, and in its neighborhood. To accomplish this, the smallest, and lightest draught vessel must be used, as most of these "Salt Works" are on water courses, having shallow and difficult bars.

All of which is submitted
Very Respectfully etc.
MWoodhull
Commdr USN

Rear Admiral
S. F. Dupont USN
Commg S.A. Blkg Sqdrn
Port Royal SC.

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Cimerone
St Johns River Fla
Dec 2nd 1862

Sir

You are by the authority vested in me appointed "Bar Pilot" for the St Johns River Florida. You are to keep the "Buoys" in order and in their places; also, be in readiness at all times to bring in or carry out all vessels so ordered by the Senior Naval Officer Present.

Your pay will be Sixty(?) Dollars per month and found

Respectfully etc etc

MWoodhull
Comdr Senior Officer
St Johns

Mr. John Mullin
Pilot

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U.S.S. Cimerone
St Johns River Fla
Dec 11th 1862

Admiral

The Uncas is just down the River, I extended our reconnaissance to "Palatka" and the information we have obtained as to the disposition of the inhabitants along the River boarder, and at that place, is very satisfactory. There is a real Union feeling existing, and a decided wish for the termination of the war - very little now, would give us the moral influence of the return of another state to the "Union" all that is required is a show of force, to at once bring about this desirable end. There is most certainly a reaction taking place, as to the sentiments of the people.

I send the Uncas to Fernandina to convey Mr. Bryant an agent of the Government, who has visited this "region." He was up the River when the "Water Witch" left, and being very desirous to get North at the earliest moment, to communicate the result of his mission personaly(sic) to the President, I felt it a public necessity to advance him on his "route" without delay.

The Cimerone is in a bad condition, she leaks so badly. we can scarcely keep dry the clothing and beding (sic) of the crew, Her voyage to Fernandina has opened considerably her seams, and the "Engine …." works dangerously, she is spreading very considerably. and I fear the Water setting (?) under her lining(?) will cause a rapid decay of material. I feel it a duty on my part to make this statement, personaly(sic) I can submit to all the inconvenience and discomfort of the wet and damp incidental to a leaky ship, necessarily imposed upon all, but for the sake of the service and for the preservation of the ship I realy (sic), and truly believe she aught(sic) to be at once put in hands for repairs.

All is quiet in the river. I intend to make a voyage up to its farthest extent, or as far up as it will be safe for the "Cimerone" to venture. Mr. Bryant will see you, and can inform you more in "extenso" (?) as to everything in these parts. He is a man of clear observation, and has an extensive knowledge of the country, politicaly(sic) and socialy(sic).

The "Water Witch" furnished us very little help as to provisions. I have had to furnish the "Uncas" and feed about one hundred "refugees" at "Pilot Town." I shall not have sufficient provisions on hand for all the demands upon it, for a longer time, than fifteen or twenty days at the outside.

Very Respy etc
MWoodhull
Commdr Senior Officer
St Johns

Rear Admiral
S F Dupont USN
Commdr etc

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U.S.S. Cimerone
St Johns River Fla
Dec 11 1862

Sir

You will proceed to Fernandina with the "Uncas" with all despatch(sic). After landing Mr. Bryant, return to this anchorage without any delay.

If you can obtain from the "Quartermaster" 'some bread," you are authorized to buy it, if Capt Hughes of the Mowhawk cannot furnish it.

I shall expect you off the bar tomorrow morning. If there has been any late arrival from Port Royal please ascertain the news, and secure some late papers, our latest dates are the 25th of Nov.

I am Respy etc
MWoodhull
Commdr & Senior Officer
St Johns

Capt Wm. Watson
U.S.S. Uncas

U.S.S. Cimerone
St. Johns River
Dec 11th 1862

Sir

Enclosed are requisitions for provisions and other articles for the "Uncas," which are very much needed. Will you please order the "circassian" to bring them on her down trip.

Very Respectfully
MWoodhull
Comd Senior Off
St Johns

Commdr.
CRPRogers
Comd US Frigate Wabash
Port Royal SC

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US. Steamer Cimerone
St Johns River Fla
Decemr 15 1862

Sir

I have the honor to transmit to you herewith a list of the officers of this Ship in conformity with your instructions of the 1st inst per General Order No. 21.

I Am Sir
Very Respectfully
Your Obt Servt
M. Woodhull
Commander

To Rear Admiral
S.F. DuPont
etc etc etc

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??????????????????????

"Cimerone"
St. Johns River Fla
Decem. 18th 1862

Admiral

By the arrival of the dispatch (sic) boat "Hope" I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your communication of Dec. ??? Everything remains as usual up to this date. I wrote some days since fully giving you the state of feeling that now exists as to the "Secession Feelings" of the people, and their views as regards the continuance of the "War" - which in this hasty note unnecessary to repeat.

The "De Ford" came off the River yesterday. I communicated with her and sent the Bar Pilot to bring her in. She appears to have nothing for me, and all I obtained from her was a "Verbal" message from "Some one," no name being mentioned to send all the refugees to "Fernandina" in the "Uncas". By whose authority or by whom the message or order was sent, no intimation was given me. The "Uncas," as you are well aware is not capable of transporting so numerous a body of people with all their belongings, nor do I think it safe venturing so many lives in her, she being at best a poor "Sea Boat." The number now at "Pilot Town" over one hundred souls.

We have provisions for this ship and the "Uncas," for not exceeding fifteen days. How are we to be supplied. The Paymasters of both vessels have just made this startling announcement to me.

In haste Very Respy etc etc
MWoodhull
Comdr etc

Rear Admiral
S.F. DuPont USN
etc etc etc

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U.S.S. Cimerone
St Johns River Fla
Dec 25th 1862

Sir

I send you two men named Palmer and Ronca (seamen) to fill up your deficiencies. Enclosed you will find their accounts and descriptive lists.

Very Respectfully
Your Obt Servant
MWoodhull
Commdr Senior Officer
St Johns

Act Master
Wm. [Watada] ???????????????????????????????
Commdg U.S.S. Uncas


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U.S.S. Cimerone
At Sea 27th Decem 1862

Admiral

I have the honor to report that agreeably(sic) to your order, received on the 25th inst, I have transferred(sic) to Commander Duncan all matters connected with this part of the Blockade and made him acquainted with everything relating to the River and the System of Control it has been deemed prudent to adopt.

I am happy to state that up to the time of my sailing everything remained quiet and so far as it is possible by a vigilant supervision to judge, there need be no apprehension of any sudden or violent derangement on the part of the enemy of this satisfactory condition of affairs.

I was unable to effect the shipment of the Contrabands as you directed, most of those at the "Colony" are either old men, or disqualified by some imperfection, which the Surgeon of the "Cimerone" considered of such a nature as would not permit him to pass. The residue are women and small children, besides some thirty whites. Composed alike of men women and children - I would recommend the removal of these people as soon as practicable, as with all vigilance and care. There is still danger of a raid on them by parties of regulators from the main land. The transmission to some millitary(sic) post. Would also make these poor people more satisfied and confident , besides giving them a larger field for their industry than is at present afforded.

The arrival of Capt. Duncan was very opportune, as we and the Uncas had only about three days provisions left for all hands.

I am Sir Very Resp etc
MWoodhull
Commdg Senior Officer
St Johns

Rear Admiral
S F DuPont
Etc etc etc

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Cimerone
At Sea Dec 27th 1862

Admiral

It was necessary during the continuance of the Colony at Pilot Town, to guard them from a surprise by the Rebels, and in order to do this effectively, I had the country contiguous regularly scouted by armed parties from the "Cimerone." On one of my reconnaisances(sic), we had pushed our way over to Fort George Island, near to the "Inlet" we discovered quite an extensive plantation; on examining some of the outbuildings there was found a large quantity of "Cotton." Of course we did all we could to get it away, but after three days hard work, carrying it nearly ten miles through mud and water, we only succeded(sic) in bringing off some three thousand pounds but this is all "Sea Island" (and all there was of this kind). We left some "Upland" say two thousand pounds, which we undoubtedly would have in time secured, had not your order relieving me interrupted my labors. I informed Capt. Duncan, of all the particulars, which if he is enterprising he will take advantage of. I also found two new carts, which I brought off and have them and the "cotton" on board this Steamer. I am at a little loss as to what aught(sic) to be done with a capture made under the above circumstances.

Will you please instruct me as to the proper disposition of it.

I am Very Respec etc
MWoodhull
Commdr, U.S.N.

Rear Admiral
S.F. DuPont etc
etc etc etc

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"Cimerone"
At Sea. Dec 27th 1862

Admiral

Enclosed is the application of Third Assist. Engineer, G. J. Burnap (?) (of this vessel), he desires permission of the Department to be examined for promotion.

Respectfully etc
MWoodhull
Comdr USN

Rear Admiral
S F DuPont etc
Etc__ etc___ etc

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[letter scrap, mostly illegible]

Sir

D… since in St. James [Johns] River circumstances occurred that ….about the necessity of ferry a …. to "Pilot Town" if the ……….escaping from …. By the Rebles(sic).

As they ………………………………………………..and not deeming it safe to ……… to the protection of the gunboats, I made it …………………….. In one of my excursions, we …. on Fort George Island, ……………………mules for my ships a deserted ………… near the "Inlet"

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Letters sent by Capt. Maxwell Woodhull, commanding the Cimerone, serving in the James River Flotilla, later in the Blockade of the St. Johns River, Florida, July 1862 - January 1863, Record Group 45: Records Collection of the Office of Naval Records and Library, Letter Books of U.S. Naval Officers, March 1778 - July 1908, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.
Letter books of US Naval Officers, Mar. 1778-July 1908
RG 45, Volume 1 of 1, E-603 (66), I-18
October 3, 1862 - December 27, 1862

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