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Bulloch History with Roger Allen: Navy's Ga. role in Civil War

Bulloch History with Roger Allen: Navy's Ga. role in Civil War

Bulloch History with Roger Allen: Navy's Ga. role in Civil War

Roger Allen


Part two of history of the Confederate Navy.

The first "Savannah" (or the Old Savannah) started out as the side-wheeled steamer "Everglade." Purchased by the State of Georgia, she was converted into the gunboat "Savannah."

This vessel served as the flagship of the senior Georgia Naval Officer, Commodore Josiah Tattnall. Tattnall is most famous for his spirited but unsuccessful defense of Port Royal against the Union Navy's South Atlantic Squadron.

Tattnall's Confederate naval force consisted of his flagship the "Savannah" and her tender the "Resolute"; the gunboats "Lady Davis" and "Sampson"; the steamers "Bartow", "Ida"; and a supply scow.

The "Resolute", the "Sampson," and the "Lady Davis" had all been tugboats in their previous lives before becoming part of the Confederate fleet.

The steamers "Bartow" and "Ida" were part of the first-ever ship-board exchange of some two thousand Federal prisoners for an equal number of Confederate prisoners.

This was the first of what would eventually amount to an exchange of between eight and ten thousand prisoners-of-war undertaken before the end of the war.
The prisoners were exchanged by vessels under flags of truce at a secluded spot on the river between the city of Savannah and Fort Pulaski

As the war drew to a close, Confederate Commodore William Wallace Hunter took his flagship, the "Savannah," along with the gunboats "Macon", "Resolute" and "Sampson" and a light transport up the Savannah River.

Their challenge: prevent Union General William Sherman's forces from crossing the Savannah River, by burning the Charleston and Savannah Railroad Bridge.

Hunter had a daring plan: convert several flat-boats and coal-barges into "fire-ships" filled with combustibles and then set them on fire.

They were sent crashing into the railroad bridge, doing their job quite well, burning the bridge down to the water level.

Unfortunately, the "Resolute" and "Sampson" collided while fleeing the scene. While the "Macon" and the "Sampson" sailed upriver to Augusta. The "Resolute," however, was abandoned.

The Savannah-based Confederate warship the "Firefly" is best known for its capture of the Union Blockade vessel the "Water Witch."

Seven small boats manned by three hundred sailors were towed by the "Firefly" under cover of darkness to where the "Water Witch" was said to be lurking."

On the third night of their ‘stake-out', the "Water Witch" was discovered nearby. The motley Confederate force quickly overcame the crew.

However, they then ran the "Water Witch" aground, and had to throw much of her cargo overboard in order to free her.

Another vessel, the "Isondiga," was a small wooden gunboat that had no masts. It served the port of Savannah, and accompanied the ‘ram' "Atlanta" in its battle against the "USS Weehawken."

Unlike the Atlanta, which was lost, the "Isondiga" escaped to fight yet another day.

There were other vessels based in Savannah as well: the "Talomico" was a side-wheel steamer that was accidentally sunk off of Savannah in 1863.

The "Jeff Davis" was a steamer that was stationed at Savannah. The screw-gunboat "Chattahoochee" was based in Savannah until she suffered an explosion and was sailed to Columbus for repairs.

The steamer "Robert Habersham" which served as a Confederate troop transport plying Georgia waters was lost when its boilers exploded at Screven's Ferry killing most of those unfortunate to have been onboard.

 

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