Decklogs of Union Gunboats

Drawing of naval expedition
Line engraving published in "Harper's Weekly", July-December 1861. Flag Officer DuPont's squadron en route to capture Port Royal, South Carolina. Ships, all U.S. Navy, as identified below the image bottom, are (from left): Wabash, Florida, Augusta, Alabama, Ottawa, Seneca.  "Portion of the Naval Expedition, as it appeared on the night of October 16, sailing to Hampton Roads. -- Sketched by an Officer on Board." Wabash, Ottawa, Seneca were later stationed on the St. Johns River.

U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph


There were two ways to access the St. Johns River - either by inland passage from Fernandina or by ocean entrance at the mouth of the river. Lighter vessels that maneuvered well on the inland waterways were often not sturdy enough for coastal ocean passages. Conversely, the deeper drafts of ocean-going steamers made crossing the shallow bar at the mouth of the St. Johns River problematic. Navigating the river's numerous shallows and shoals, frequent bends, and dramatic tidal changes presented special challenges to pilots. In addition to the challenges posed by the St. Johns River, the gunboat commanders also suffered from a shortage of vessels.

The decklogs of the gunboats illustrate these difficulties. Every four hours an accounting of activities took place and details from conditions, maintenance, supplies, refugees, shore parties, skirmishes, battles, fire power, and salvage.


This is an ongoing transcription project. Logs will be posted as completed.

Cimerone (Cimarron)



Paul Jones


EB Hale



Water Witch

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