Civil War Submarine / Naval Chronology

The following chronology is presented as a reference for the development of Alligator and other submarines.
The color scheme indicates the nature of each event, as follows:

Submarine RED
Army / General GRAY

1861 - 1862 - 1863 - 1864 - 1865 - 1866 - 1868


9 January
Star of the West, an unarmed merchant vessel secretly carrying federal troops and supplies to Fort Sumter, is fired upon by South Carolina artillery at the entrance to Charleston harbor.

9 January–1 February
Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas follow South Carolina’s lead and secede from the Union .

29 January
Kansas is admitted as a state with a constitution prohibiting slavery.

Delegates from six seceded states meet in Montgomery, Alabama, to form a government and elect Jefferson Davis President of the Confederate States of America .

4 March
Abraham Lincoln is inaugurated as the sixteenth President of the United States .

12 April
Fort Sumter fired on by Confederate batteries -- the conflict begins.

15 April
Lincoln declares a state of insurrection and calls for 75,000 volunteers to enlist for three months of service.

17 April–20 May
Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina secede from the Union.

19 April
President Lincoln issued proclamation declaring blockade of Southern ports from South Carolina to Texas .

20 April
Norfolk Navy Yard partially destroyed to prevent Yard facilities from falling into Confederate hands and abandoned by Union forces.

16 May
Brutus de Villeroi sails his submarine down the Delaware and is captured by the Philadelphia Harbor Police. The vessel is 33’ long and 4’ wide. De Villeroi claimed he was delivering the boat to the U.S. Navy, which disavowed any knowledge of such an appointment.

20 April
Colonel Robert E. Lee resigns his commission in the United States Army.

24 May
Commander S. C. Rowan, USS Pawnee, demanded the surrender of Alexandria, Virginia; an amphibious expedition departed Washington Navy Yard and occupied the town.

29 May
Richmond becomes the capital of the Confederacy.

30 May
Captain Samuel F. DuPont, Commandant Philadelphia Navy Yard, orders an examination of de Villeroi’s submarine.

10 June
Columbia Herald (Tennessee) published article by Reverend Franklin Smith seeking assistance from Southern citizens to build submarines. Smith is credited with at least one of the submarines built in Mobile during the war.

25 June
U.S. Navy receives reports of New Orleans submarine—possibly built by the same team that later designed CSS Manassas. Sub supposedly had a three-man crew, was 19’6” long and 6’ high. The vessel was scuttled, probably around the time of the city’s capture by Admiral Farragut on 25 April 1863.

7 July
DuPont’s report on de Villeroi’s submarine is favorable, and the vessel is recommended to the Navy.

21 July
Confederate forces win a victory at the First Battle of Manassas. Confederate General Thomas J. Jackson earns the nickname “Stonewall” for his tenacity in the battle.

3 August
John LaMountain made first ascent in a balloon from Union ship Fanny at Hampton Roads to observe Confederate batteries on Sewell's Point, Virginia .

29 August
Union forces under Flag Officer S. H. Stringham and General B. F. Butler received the unconditional surrender of Confederate-held Forts Hatteras and Clark , closing Pamlico Sound .

William Cheney’s three-man submarine nearing completion at the Tredegar Iron Works in Richmond , Virginia . A demonstration of the vessel is witnessed by Mrs. Baker, a Union spy, who reports its existence—and effectiveness—to Allan Pinkerton and the Navy. The vessel was reported to have a three-man crew, one of whom was a diver who exited the craft through an airlock in order to attach a timed bomb to the hull of the target ship. Air was supplied via a rubber hose suspended on the surface by a camouflaged sea green float.

1 October
Confederate naval forces, including CSS Curlew, Raleigh , and Junaluska, under Flag Officer W. F. Lynch, CSN, captured steamer Fanny (later CSS Fanny) in Pamlico Sound with Union troops on board.

9 October
First documented attempt to sink an enemy ship with a submarine in the Civil War. The target was the U.S.S. Minnesota in Hampton Roads. The submarine became fouled in grappling hanging from the jib boom (which its occupants thought was the anchor cable). The vessel escaped. A 12 October newspaper report based upon testimony from a Confederate deserter claims the submarine employed an India rubber suction plate to attach to its target and plant a timed bomb.

21 October
Private Charles P. Leavitt, a 19 year old in the 2nd Virginia Infantry, sends a letter to Confederate Secretary of War Judah Benjamin describing a “submarine battery” with a steam engine, CO2 scrubber using lime-impregnated water, and cannon (rather than a spar torpedo). By December of 1861, Private Leavitt is “on government work”—a common Confederate euphemism for secret submarine research.

William Cheney’s submarine—either the model reported on by Mrs. Baker or a larger version—is sunk in the James River while attempting to attack Union vessels. Navy pickets patrolling the river spotted the camouflaged float and sliced the rubber hose to the craft.

1 November
De Villeroi contracts with the shipyard of Neafle & Levy in Philadelphia for construction of “one iron submarine.” Total cost is to be under $14,000.

1 November
George B. McClellan, thirty-four, replaces the aging Winfield Scott as general-in-chief of the Union armies.

4 November
Fearing further attacks by Confederate “infernal machines,” Captain William Smith of the U.S.S. Congress, devises the first anti-submarine nets of chains suspended from spars lashed in a frame around his vessel.

7 November
Naval forces under Flag Officer S. F. Du Pont captured Port Royal Sound. Also, USS Tyler, Commander H. Walke, and USS Lexington, Commander R. Stembel, supported 3,000 Union troops under General Grant at the Battle of Belmont, Missouri. and engaged Confederate batteries along the Mississippi River

8 November
USS San Jacinto, Captain C. Wilkes, stopped British mail steamer Trent in Old Bahama Channel and removed Confederate Commissioners James Mason and John Slidell, inflaming tensions between the United States and Great Britain .

11 November
Thaddeus Lowe made balloon observation of Confederate forces from Balloon-Boat G. W. Parke Curtis anchored in Potomac River .

12 November
Fingal (later CSS Atlanta), purchased in England , entered Savannah laden with military supplies -- the first ship to run the blockade solely on Confederate government account.

Late Autumn
Keel of the Crescent City Project boat is laid in New Orleans ; the vessel is to be 34’ long with a three-man crew.

21 December
Congress enacted legislation providing for the Medal of Honor.

30 December
E. Biedermann posts a letter to Gideon Welles describing a submarine built by a Wilhelm Bauer six years previous and used in the Crimean War. His note includes detailed schematics of the vessel, “Diable Marin” (“Sea Devil”), which supposedly made 134 successful dives. Bauer was an experienced submariner, having built his first vessel “Brandtaucher” (“Incendiary Diver”) in 1850 and using it to force blockading Danish ships away from the German harbor of Kiel .


5 January
A letter sent to the Confederate Army examiner of the defenses of Mobile complains that “someone” had boarded and sunk in the Mobile River an operational submarine several days earlier. Submarine possibly built by Reverend Smith.

9 January
Flag Officer D. G. Farragut appointed to command the Western Gulf Blockading Squadron -- the beginning of the New Orleans campaign.

16 January
Seven armored river gunboats commissioned, thus providing the naval force for the overwhelming combined operations in the West.

6 February
Naval forces under Flag Officer A. H. Foote captured strategic Fort Henry on the Tennessee River . This breached the Confederate line and opened the floodgates for the flow of Union power deep into the South.

7-8 February
Joint amphibious expedition under Flag Officer L. M. Goldsborough and Brigadier General A. E. Burnside captured Roanoke Island -- the key to Albemarle Sound .

14 February
Gunboats under Flag Officer A. H. Foote attacked Fort Donelson on the Cumberland River ; in conjunction with troops under Brigadier General U. S. Grant. The fort capitulated on 16 February.

23 February
Charles Wilkinson drowns in Savannah harbor when the submarine that he and Charlie Carroll sinks during diving trials.

28 February / 1 March
Confederate artillery placed atop the bluffs overlooking the Tennessee River open fire on the gunboats Tyler and Lexington , beginning the First Battle of Pittsburg Landing. After dislodging the guns and seeing the single company of Confederates retreat, sailors and soldiers aboard the ships land after an hour’s bombardment to destroy what appears to be a fortified house. They are surprised by the rest of the Rebel regiment, the 18th Louisiana , and make a fighting withdrawal to the gunboats—after demolishing the house. Both sides claim victory; losses are light—but the Union Navy is now alert to the value of Pittsburg Landing and patrols it so that no further work can be done on the defenses. Sherman elects to land there two weeks later, setting the stage for the April 6/7 Battle of Shiloh .

3 March
Forces under Flag Officer S. F. Du Pont took Fernandina , Florida , and the surrounding area in joint operations against the South Atlantic coast.

8 March
Ironclad ram CSS Virginia, Captain F. Buchanan, destroyed wooden blockading ships USS Cumberland and Congress in Hampton Roads and leaves USS Minnesota aground. De Villeroi’s submarine was to have been ready to meet this attack, but construction delays and wrangling over the expense of the chemicals the inventor claimed were needed for the air scrubbing system delayed its launch.

9 March
USS Monitor, Lieutenant J. L. Worden, engaged CSS Virginia, Lieutenant C. ap R. Jones, in the historic first battle of ironclads.

12 March
Baxter Watson and William McClintock launch Pioneer I in New Orleans .

14 March
Joint amphibious assault under Commander S. C. Rowan and Brigadier General A. E. Burnside captured New Bern, North Carolina -- "an immense depot of army fixtures and manufactures, of shot and shell...''

17 March
CSS Nashville , Lieutenant R. B. Pegram, ran the blockade out of Beaufort , North Carolina -- a " Bull Run of the Navy.''

31 March
Pioneer’s inventors are granted the first letter of marque for an underwater vessel by the Confederate government.

“Early 1862”
The Confederate Patent Office grants a patent for a submarine to Reverend Franklin Smith of Tennessee . While the U.S. Patent Office granted only a single patent for a submarine in the course of the war, this was one of four granted by the Southern office. One will go to James Patton of Virginia in October, and the other two were issued to William Cheney.

4 April
USS Carondelet, Commander H. Walke, dashed past Confederate batteries on Island No. 10 to support Major General J. Pope's assault on the island.

4 April
On the peninsula southeast of Richmond , McClellan leads the Army of the Potomac toward Yorktown, Virginia, beginning the Peninsular Campaign.

6 April
The timberclads USS Lexington and USS Tyler under Lieutenants Shirk and Gwin (resp.) drive back the final Confederate assault at Pittsburg Landing, Tennessee , saving Ulysses S. Grant’s army to finish the battle the following day. After-action reports from both sides, as well as later testimony from interviewers, credit the Navy with saving the Union Army from utter destruction.

7 April
Island No. 10, vital to the Confederate defense of the upper Mississippi , surrendered to the naval forces of Flag Officer A. H. Foote.

16 April
Conscription is adopted in the Confederacy.

24 April
Flag Officer D. G. Farragut's fleet ran past Forts Jackson and St. Philip, destroyed the defending Confederate flotilla below New Orleans , and, next day, compelled the surrender of the South's largest and wealthiest city.

25 April
Pioneer is scuttled in the Mississippi as its inventors—Watson and McClintock, now joined by Horace Hunley—flee New Orleans when Farragut’s fleet moves in. The submarine is discovered, raised, and examined by the U.S. Navy. Reports indicate that Pioneer may have claimed the lives of two crew members while being tested on Lake Ponchartrain .

2 May
Brutus de Villeroi’s submarine is launched in Philadelphia harbor. The vessel is 40’ long, 6’ high, and 4’6” wide.

May (early)
Watson, McClintock, and Hunley arrive in Mobile, Alabama and begin work on a new submarine, Pioneer II. Realizing the limitations of a manually-powered submarine, they spend many weeks experimenting with an electric motor and a steam engine to power the vessel. Electric motors of sufficient power are known to be available in New York City, but cannot be smuggled through the lines. The team attempts to manufacture their own motor, but cannot with their limited resources. The steam approach is similarly discarded for unknown reasons.

8 May
Stonewall Jackson’s Shenandoah Valley campaign begins successfully with a victory at the Battle of McDowell in Virginia .

10 May
Confederates destroyed the Norfolk and Pensacola Navy Yards in actions caused by the forced Southern withdrawal from her coasts.

11 May
CSS Virginia scuttled by her crew off Craney Island to prevent her capture by advancing Union forces.

13 May
William Cheney takes delivery of a submarine at the Tredegar Iron Works—possibly a larger version of the vessel seen by Mrs. Baker. The craft has a “false bow”—perhaps an airlock for a diver—several view ports, and may have used an electrically-detonated torpedo.

15 May
The James River Flotilla under Commander J. Rodgers advanced unsupported to within eight miles of Richmond before being turned back at Drewry's Bluff by batteries manned in part by Confederate Navy and Marine personnel.

30 May
An invoice is issued on this date by the Tredegar Iron Works for “materials relating to the testing of an underwater cannon.” Was Private Leavitt’s suggestion used on the Cheney submarine or another vessel?

1 June
Samuel Eakins is appointed “Superintendent” of de Villeroi’s submarine.

6 June
Gunboats under Captain C. H. Davis and rams under Colonel C. R. Ellet Jr., destroyed the upper Mississippi portion of the Confederate River Defense Fleet. They were under Captain J. E. Montgomery at the Battle of Memphis.

15 June
Flag Officer Louis M. Goldsborough orders U.S.S. Satellite to Philadelphia to escort Fred Kopp as it tows the de Villeroi vessel south to the James River . Although unofficial, the submarine has by now acquired a name—Alligator, based probably on its coat of green paint. Goldsborough steadfastly refuses to refer to it as anything but “the submarine propeller.”

19 June
Escorted by the Satellite, the Fred Kopp begins its tow of Alligator. A note from Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles mentions a twenty-man crew and the fact that the submarine carried two torpedoes.

23 June
Alligator arrives in Hampton Roads.

24 June
The first time in history that opposing naval forces had functioning submarines operating in the same theater of war: Cheney’s submarine and Alligator, which is towed up the James on this date.

25 June
Alligator arrives at City Point , Virginia , and is anchored near U.S.S. Galena. The target of its first operation is the Petersburg Railroad bridge over the Appomattox River . An Army operation which will impact this mission also begin on this date—The Seven Days’ Battles

28 June
Flag Officer D. G. Farragut's fleet successfully passed the heavy Vicksburg batteries. Three days later, 1 July, they were joined by those of Flag Officer C. H. Davis: the fresh and salt-water fleets met for the first time.

29 June
Commander Rodgers sends Alligator back down the James to Louis Goldsborough at Hampton Roads. Rodgers is very impressed with the potential of the submarine (possibly as the result of spending time with Samuel Eakins) but realizes immediately that the Appomattox River is far too shallow for the Alligator to operate in—shoal areas previously held by Union forces have fallen to the Confederates as General McClellan retreats, and Alligator would be easily seen and handily sunk or captured. Although its mission cannot be fulfilled, Rodgers rightly understands the potential for damage to the fleet were the vessel to be captured and turned against the Navy.

1 July
The gunboats Galena , Jacob Bell, Mahaska, and Aroostook save General George McClellan’s Army of the Potomac from destruction at the hands of Confederate General Robert E. Lee at Malvern Hill , Virginia . This is possibly the first instance of indirect naval fire in history, as the gunboats were directed by Army spotters through Signal Corps men stationed on board.

1-2 July
Flag Officer L. M. Goldsborough's fleet covered the withdrawal of Major General G. B. McClellan's army after the battle of Malvern Hill.

4 July
The tug Fred Kopp leaves the James River and returns Alligator to Philadelphia Navy Yard. On this same day, C.S.S. Teaser is captured by U.S.S. Maratanza on the James River ; the Confederate ship carries detailed schematics of the new ironclad, Virginia II, which is nearing completion. Alligator is hastily recalled, but the civilian crew declines the mission.

Alligator, now at the Washington Navy Yard, is placed under the reluctant command of Lieutenant Thomas O. Selfridge, hero of the battle between the Virginia and the Cumberland . Selfridge travels to the New York Navy Yard to recruit volunteers from the receiving ship North Carolina . Expecting no response, he is surprised when so many men volunteer that he must choose from among them.

15 July
CSS Arkansas , Lieutenant I. N. Brown, engaged and ran through the Union fleet above Vicksburg , partially disabling USS Carondelet and Tyler .

16 July
David Glasgow Farragut promoted to Rear Admiral, the first officer to hold that rank in the history of the U.S. Navy.

6 August
Selfridge and his crew take Alligator for their first voyage. The results of this and later trials are included in Selfridge’s unflattering report—which ends his association with the vessel. Selfridge is given command of U.S.S. Cairo of the Mississippi River Squadron; his fourteen hand-picked crewmen accompany him. The biggest problem cited by the reluctant submariner was the oar propulsion system used to move Alligator. De Villeroi’s adoption of oars was odd, since the original submarine he sailed down the Delaware used a screw propeller.

14 October
The Confederate Patent Office grants its second submarine patent to James Patton of Petersburg , Virginia , for a steam-powered “submarine battery;” it is unknown whether the boat was ever built.

20 August
Horace Greeley of the New York Tribune publishes The Prayer of Twenty Millions, a plea for Lincoln to liberate slaves in the Union .

24 August
Commander R. Semmes assumed command of celebrated raider CSS Alabama .

26 August
Franklin Buchanan promoted to Admiral, ranking officer in the Confederate Navy.

29-30 August
Second Battle of Manassas .

Late Summer
William Cheney deserts the Confederacy. After the war he claims to have approached President Lincoln with “secret information” regarding Southern efforts at undersea warfare, but received no response.

17 September
Battle of Antietam , Maryland

22 September
President Lincoln issues the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation.

25 September
USS Kensington and Rachel Seaman and mortar schooner Henry James bombarded Sabine City , Texas , and forced Confederate troops to withdraw from the city.

1 October
The Western Gunboat Fleet transferred from the War Department to the Navy.

31 October
During October the Confederate Torpedo Bureau was established under Lieutenant H. Davidson, continuing work pioneered by Commander M. F. Maury.

First mention of Confederate Colonel E.H. Angamar’s experiments with a “rocket-powered torpedo;” Angamar was also working on a rocket-propelled ship.

3 November
CSS Cotton and shore batteries engaged Union squadron at Berwick Bay , Louisiana. The squadron suffered considerable damage before the gallant Confederate gunboat expended all its ammunition and was compelled to withdraw.

7 November
General McClellan receives Lincoln ’s order relieving him of command of the Army of the Potomac .

Inventor Pascal Plant demonstrates a true torpedo to interested naval officers along the banks of the Potomac River . “Torpedo” in the Civil War described what we would call “mines,” and it was not until the 1880s that the British would develop the “automobile torpedo.” On two occasions, Plant fired his rocket-powered missiles at a target vessel. On the first demonstration, the torpedo missed the target—but successfully sank the schooner Diana anchored some distance away. A second torpedo on the same day missed the target and buried itself in the far bank. Later, Plant launched another torpedo which ran underwater for a distance and then porpoised above the surface and flew for over 100 yards before exploding on the opposite shore. Although Plant was decades ahead of his time and his device suffered only from guidance problems, the inspecting Navy officers failed to see the potential of the “self-propelled torpedo” and declined further interest in the weapon.

12 December
USS Cairo, Lieutenant Commander T. O. Selfridge, was sunk in the Yazoo River , the first ship destroyed by a Confederate torpedo.

13 December
Battle of Fredericksburg , Virginia.

31 December
USS Monitor, Commander J. P. Bankhead, foundered and was lost at sea off Cape Hatteras .



1 January
Lincoln issues the Emancipation Proclamation, declaring that slaves in the seceded states are now free.

1 January
CSS Bayou City and Neptune engaged the Union fleet at Galveston , forcing the North's withdrawal from that foothold on the Texas coast. USS Harriet Lane was captured and USS Westfield was destroyed.

“Early” January
McClintock, Watson, and Hunley decide that the steam engine they had hoped to use to power their new submarine is inadequate; they return to a manually-turned screw propeller for Pioneer II.

9-11 January
Gunboats under Rear Admiral D. D. Porter , with troops embarked, compelled the surrender of Fort Hindman (Arkansas Post) on the Arkansas River .

11 January
CSS Alabama, Captain R. Semmes, engaged and sank USS Hatteras, Lieutenant Commander H. C. Blake, off Galveston .

14 January
Joint Army-Navy forces attacked Confederate positions at Bayou Teche, Louisiana , compelling a Southern withdrawal and the subsequent destruction of gunboat CSS Cotton.

17 January
CSS Josiah Bell and Uncle Ben captured USS Morning Light and Velocity, temporarily lifting the blockade of Sabine Pass , Texas .

“Late” January
Pioneer II is launched in Mobile Bay with a five-man crew.

30 January
USS Commodore Perry and Army troops severed Confederate supply lines to Richmond via the Perquimans River, North Carolina.

31 January
CSS Palmetto State and Chicora attacked the blockading fleet off Charleston; USS Mercedita and Keystone State heavily damaged and struck their flags.

7 February
Pioneer II is lost in Mobile Bay during trials.

11 February
In the North, the Permanent Commission is founded to evaluate all plans and inventions submitted to the Navy Department

14 February
Failed attack upon the Union blockading squadron off Mobile Bay by “one of 3-4 submarines constructed for the purpose.” Also, USS Queen of the West grounded in the Black River and abandoned under heavy fire.

24 February
CSS William H. Webb and Queen of the West engaged and sank ram USS Indianola below Warrenton , Mississippi .

28 February
USS Montauk, Wissahickon, Seneca, and Dawn shelled and destroyed blockade runner Rattlesnake (formerly CSS Nashville ) under the guns of Fort McAllister , Georgia . For more than a month, Union ironclads had been bombarding the fort guarding the approaches to Savannah .

3 March
President Lincoln signs a federal draft act.

11 March
Ships of the Yazoo Pass Expedition, begun in February with the objective of cutting off Vicksburg in the rear, engaged Fort Pemberton , Mississippi . The expedition ultimately had to retire without achieving its purpose.

14 March
Rear Admiral D. G. Farragut passed the heavy batteries at Port Hudson with USS Hartford and Albatross to establish an effective blockade of the vital Red River supply lines.

15 March
The Singer Submarine Corps (a.k.a. the Secret Service Corps) is founded in the South. McClintock, Baxter, and Hunley join the organization three weeks later.

31 March
Alligator leaves Hampton Roads for Charleston , South Carolina , towed by U.S.S. Sumpter. Acting Master Samuel Eakins is in command of the submarine. Its intended use is to remove obstacles and mines blocking the channel into Charleston Harbor . Also, Confederate troops opened a sustained attack on Union forces at Washington , North Carolina, but Northern warships, moving swiftly to the support of the soldiers, halted the assault.

The keel of the Intelligent Whale is laid in Newark , New Jersey.

2 April
Alligator is lost at sea in a storm of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.

5 April
Realizing that Alligator has been lost, Admiral DuPont orders an ironclad attack on Fort Sumter . Leery of the mines and obstructions, the attacking vessels stall and the effort is a failure.

7 April
Rear Admiral S. F. Du Pont's ironclad squadron engaged strong Confederate forts in Charleston harbor in an attempt to penetrate the defenses and capture the city. The ironclads were heavily damaged and the attack was broken off; USS Keokuk sank the next day.

16-17 April
Gunboats under Rear Admiral D. D. Porter escorting Army transports successfully passed the Vicksburg batteries preparatory to attacking Grand Gulf .

1-4 May
Battle of Chancellorsville .

3 May
Rear Admiral Porter's force and troops under Major General U. S. Grant forced the evacuation of Grand Gulf . Porter reported: ''The Navy holds the door to Vicksburg .''

U.S. Navy experimenting with a submarine off Long Island .

“Late Spring”
The Triton Company is founded in Richmond . Its charter: to build submarines.

4 June
Colonel Angamar’s rocket-propelled ship supposedly ready for sea.

Permanent Commission examining schematics of Professor Horstford’s submarine Soligo. The vessel may owe much to de Villeroi’s Alligator.

9 June
Confederate cavalry under JEB Stuart clash with the Union mounts of Alfred Pleasonton in an all day battle at Brandy Station, Virginia. Some 18,000 troopers—approximately nine thousand on either side—take part, making this the largest cavalry battle on American soil. In the end, Stuart will hold the field. Yet this battle signals the rise and future domination of Union cavalry in the eastern theater.

17 June
CSS Atlanta , with two wooden steamers in company, engaged USS Weehawken and Nahant in Wassaw Sound , Georgia . The heavy Confederate warship grounded and compelled to surrender.

Hunley is launched at Mobile , Alabama .

1 July
Angamar makes an attack upon the blockading squadron off Mobile . There is no record of this from the Union side.

1-3 July
Battle of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania .

4 July
Vicksburg surrendered after a lengthy bombardment and siege by Union naval and land forces. President Lincoln wrote: ''The Father of Waters again goes unvexed to the sea.''

9 July
Port Hudson, Louisiana, surrendered after prolonged attack by Northern sea and land forces. The Union had won the war in the West.

10 July
Rear Admiral J. A. Dahlgren's ironclads renewed the bombardment of Charleston defenses, opening on Fort Wagner , Morris Island .

13 July
Yazoo City, Mississippi , was captured by a joint Army-Navy expedition.

13-15 July
Violent riots erupt in New York City in protest of the draft.

27 July
Permanent Commission endorses construction of Soligo.

1 August
Rear Admiral D. D. Porter relieved Rear Admiral D. G. Farragut of command of the lower half of the Mississippi and assumed command of the River from New Orleans to the headwaters.

5 August
USS Commodore Barney severely damaged by Confederate electric torpedo in the James River above Dutch Gap, Virginia.

7 August
Hunley is transported from Mobile to Charleston , S.C.

11 August
Hunley arrives in Charleston and, by the middle of the month, is actively searching for targets. In the North, the Permanent Commission examines plans submitted by Ensign Andrew Hartshorn for a one-man submarine. At least one such vessel was built, as records refer to tests being made with the boat.

29 August
Confederate submarine H. L. Hunley, Lieutenant J. A. Payne, CSN, sank for the first time in Charleston harbor after making practice dives preparatory to attacking the blockading fleet.

6 September
Morris Island, Charleston harbor, evacuated by Confederate forces after nearly two months of intensive bombardment from afloat and ashore.

8 September
CSS Uncle Ben and shore batteries turned back a Union expedition to take Sabine Pass, Texas. USS Clifton and Sachem were disabled and surrendered.

19-20 September
Confederates under General Braxton Bragg win a great tactical victory at Chickamauga, Georgia. Union General George H. Thomas wins the nickname "Rock of Chickamauga" for his stubborn defense of his position.

30 September
Major E.B. Hunt of the Engineers dies while testing the Navy’s Long Island submarine. He is the first (and only)  Union submarine casualty of the war.

The U.S. Navy Long Island project develops a one-man submarine.

Admiral Dahlgren off Charleston possibly accepts delivery of at least two small submarines.

4 October
Confederate observers spot a small submarine being towed over the bar in Charleston Harbor, but no mention is made of them in Union records.

5 October
Confederate David attack on U.S.S. New Ironsides. Although the damage was initially thought to be insignificant, later inspection resulted in the warship being removed from service for the remainder of the conflict. Davids were semi-submerged boats that used a spar torpedo to attack. Also, CSS David, Lieutenant W. T. Glassell, exploded a spar torpedo against USS New Ironsides in an attempt to destroy the heavy blockader off Charleston . New Ironsides was damaged but not destroyed. Later inspection of what was at first thought to be minor damage indicated the need for extensive repairs; the vessel was out of action for the remainder of the war.

8 October
Report by Confederates at Charleston cites three USN submarines.

15 October
Submarine H. L. Hunley sank for the second time in Charleston harbor. The part owner for whom she was named and a crew of seven perished in the accident, but she was again recovered and a third crew volunteered to man her.

31 October
During October, instruction began for 52 midshipmen at the Confederate States Naval Academy on board CSS Patrick Henry in the James River .

2-4 November
Naval forces convoyed and supported Army troops at Brazos Santiago, Texas, where the Union secured a valuable position on the Mexican border. As a result of this operation, Brownsville , Texas , was evacuated.

19 November
Lincoln delivers his Gettysburg Address, in which he reiterates the nation’s fundamental principle that all men are created equal.

23-25 November
After three days of battle, the Union victory at Chattanooga , Tennessee , opens the way for Union advancement into the heart of the Confederacy.

End November
A Union foraging party along the Mississippi captures detailed plans of a Triton Company submarine. Confederate General Gilmer’s evaluation of the boat six weeks earlier suggests the company had built other submarines as well.

Possible submarine construction in Wilmington , North Carolina .

7 December
Steamer Chesapeake en route Portland, Maine, was seized off Cape Cod by Confederates disguised as passengers and carried to Nova Scotia .



30 January
Harper’s Weekly reprints an article from the French Le Monde Illustré which describes a Confederate submarine designed by Anstilt that is 69’ long.

2 February
Confederate boat expedition led by Commander J. T. Wood captured and destroyed USS Underwriter in the Neuse River, North Carolina.

17 February
Confederate submarine H. L. Hunley sank Union blockader Housatonic off Charleston -- the first submarine to sink a ship in combat. Hunley is itself lost at sea following the attack.

10 March
Newly commissioned to the rank of lieutenant general, Ulysses S. Grant is given official authority to command all of the armies of the United States .

12 March
Ships of Rear Admiral D. D. Porter 's Mississippi Squadron moved up the Red River to commence the unsuccessful Army-Navy campaign to gain a foothold in the Texas interior.

23 March
John P. Halligan sets up shop in Selma , Alabama to build a submarine for use in Mobile Bay .

The Permanent Commission is swamped with ideas for submarines.

12 April
Union General Hurlbut in Memphis , Tennessee receives information from an informant that a Rebel submarine in Mobile is to be operational by May 10.

19 April
CSS Albemarle, Commander J. W. Cooke, sank USS Southfield and forced the remainder of the Union squadron at Plymouth , North Carolina , to withdraw. Having gained control of the waterways in the area, the Confederates were able to capture Plymouth on 20 April.

5 May
USS Sassacus, Wyalusing, and Mattabesett engaged CSS Albemarle off the mouth of the Roanoke River as the Union sought in vain to regain control near Plymouth .

5-6 May
Battle of the Wilderness in Virginia.

6 May
Confederate torpedo destroyed USS Commodore Jones in the James River , Virginia, one of several losses the Union suffered from torpedoes during the year.

10-12 May
Battles at Spotsylvania Court House and Yellow Tavern impede Grant’s drive for Richmond. Confederate cavalry commander JEB Stuart is killed at Yellow Tavern, May 11.

13 May
The last of Rear Admiral Porter's squadron, after being trapped by low water, dashed through the hurriedly constructed Red River dams to safety below the Alexandria rapids.

1-3 June
Battle of Cold Harbor results in heavy Union casualties. Grant prepares for a siege of Petersburg .

9 June
Lodner Phillips and his partner Peck submit plans for a submarine that is steam-powered, carries enough compressed air for a crew of five for 24 hours, employs a saw for cutting underwater obstructions, and could fire a cannon both at the surface and from underwater. Phillips was the most respected expert in submarine technology in North America, but had withheld any input until now perhaps because of the rejection by the USN of a submarine developed and used by himself (and Peck) on the Great Lakes from 1851-55. The vessel also used an underwater cannon in salvage operations and was commercially successful.

14 June
Julius Kroehl submits a set of plans for his second submarine, Explorer, which are accepted for review by the U.S. Navy. Explorer is unique in that the bottom of the boat could be opened while submerged (compressed air keeping the seawater out) while divers exited and entered the boat. Explorer is completed later in the summer but declined for service by the U.S. Navy. The boat is taken to Panama where it was used successfully by the Pacific Pearl Mining Company for many years.

19 June
USS Kearsarge, Commander J. A. Winslow, sank CSS Alabama, Captain R. Semmes, off Cherbourg, France, ending the career of the South's most famous commerce raider.

28 June
Lincoln signs a bill repealing the fugitive slave laws.

11-12 July
Confederate forces under Jubal Early probe and fire upon the northern defenses of Washington , D.C. , throwing the Capital into a state of high alert.

5 August
Union Admiral David G. Farragut wins the Battle of Mobile Bay.

5 August
Rear Admiral D. G. Farragut's fleet steamed by Forts Morgan and Gaines, through the deadly torpedo field blocking the channel, and into Mobile Bay . In the fierce engagement with the forts and Admiral F. Buchanan's small squadron, Farragut won a victory worthy of his great name.

5 August
U.S. Navy makes final decision to reject Hortsford’s Soligo; no reason given. On this same date, Admiral Farragut fights the Battle of Mobile Bay. Seeing U.S.S. Tecumseh sunk in seconds (supposedly by a torpedo), Farragut admonishes his men to “Damn the torpedoes—full speed ahead!” But, as no other mine in the harbor worked on that day, the possibility exits that Tecumseh was sunk by the Confederate submarine C.S.S. Captain Pierce, which was active in the harbor that day and lost when its boiler exploded—very near the Tecumseh. The lone surviving Confederate sailor claimed the crew had targeted a different ship; if so, the Tecumseh was simply incredibly unlucky to find the single mine that was not waterlogged.

6 August
CSS Tallahassee , Commander J. T. Wood, put to sea from Wilmington , launching a brief but highly successful cruise against Northern shipping.

23 August
Fort Morgan , the last of the three forts at Mobile Bay to remain in Confederate hands, capitulated.

2 September
After forcing the Confederate army of John Bell Hood out of Atlanta , Georgia , General William T. Sherman captures the city, a major munitions center for the South.

7 October
USS Wachusett, Lieutenant N. Collins, captured CSS Florida, Lieutenant C. M. Morris, at Bahia, Brazil. Thus, in the same year were the cruises of the dread raiders Alabama and Florida ended.

10 October
Baxter Watson, one of the inventors of the Hunley, writes to Jefferson Davis and makes the case for buying a $5000 “electro-magnetic engine” in New York City of Washington City. Watson maintains that this is the best way to power a submarine. Watson had worked on scratch-building such a motor for Pioneer II.

Halligan’s submarine, St. Patrick, is ready for sea trials. A description of the boat closely matches a submarine designed by Lodner Phillips before the war.

19 October
CSS Shenandoah, Lieutenant J. I. Waddell, commissioned off the Madeira Islands .

19 October
A Union victory at Cedar Creek ends the Confederate threat in the Shenandoah Valley .

27 October
Torpedo launch commanded by Lieutenant W. B. Cushing destroyed ram CSS Albemarle in the Roanoke River , assuring the North of renewed control of the waters around Plymouth , North Carolina .

4 November
Confederate raiders captured small gunboats USS Key West, Tawah, and Elfin near Johnsonville on the Tennessee River .

8 November
Lincoln is reelected President, with Andrew Johnson as Vice President.

16 November
Sherman leaves Atlanta and begins his “march to the sea,” in an attempt to demoralize the South and hasten surrender.

13 December
Rear Admiral Farragut arrived in New York City , for a period of rest after his arduous duty in the Gulf of Mexico and was acclaimed as a conquering hero. Ten days later he was promoted to the newly established rank of Vice Admiral.

15-16 December
General George Henry Thomas wins the Battle of Nashville, decimating John Bell Hood's Confederate Army of Tennessee.

21 December
Savannah falls to Sherman’s army without resistance. Sherman gives the city to Lincoln as a Christmas present.

21 December
Flag Officer W. W. Hunter destroyed the last of the Confederate Savannah Squadron to prevent its capture by the advancing forces of General W. T. Sherman.

24-25 December
A joint Army-Navy operation under Rear Admiral Porter and Major General B. F. Butler unsuccessfully attempted to take the Confederate stronghold of Fort Fisher, Wilmington, by amphibious assault.



13-15 January
The joint amphibious assault under Rear Admiral David D. Porter and Major General Alfred H. Terry took Fort Fisher , the key in the defense of Wilmington , North Carolina . This was the last port by which supplies from Europe could reach General Lee's troops at Richmond .

23-24 January
The Confederate fleet under Flag Officer John K. Mitchell attempted to dash down the James River to attack General Grant's headquarters at City Point , Virginia . The bold attack was thwarted when the heaviest of the ironclads ran aground.

27 January
Lieutenant John Walker, CSN, in C.S.S. St. Patrick, attacks the U.S.S. Octorora in Mobile Bay. The spar torpedo fails to detonate.

31 January
Congress passes the Thirteenth Amendment, which abolishes slavery throughout the United States .

“Early” February
Lieutenant Walker takes the St. Patrick out again—not for an attack, but to cause a diversion and create a gap among the Union blockading vessels in Mobile Bay so that the blockade runner Red Gauntlet can escape. The gap was opened (no details), but authorities decided it was too risky for the runner to attempt to escape.

17 February
Columbia , South Carolina, is almost completely destroyed by fire, most likely set by Sherman’s troops.

17-18 February
Charleston , confronted by General William T. Sherman's soldiers approaching from the rear and a Navy-supported amphibious assault from Bull's Bay, was evacuated.

18 February
CSS Shenandoah, Lieutenant James I. Waddell, departed Melbourne to resume her commerce raiding career in the Pacific.

22 February
, North Carolina , evacuated as Rear Admiral Porter's ships steamed up the Cape Fear River and General Terry's soldiers marched on the city.

4 March
Lincoln is inaugurated as President for a second term.

13 March
Major A. M. Jackson (10th U.S. Colored Heavy Artillery) passes on a spy’s report on a Confederate submarine at Houston, Texas and four other such vessels at Shreveport, Louisiana. The description of the boats is almost identical to Hunley, and the ships were probably built by members of the Singer Submarine Corps who had been ordered to the West the year before.

24 March
CSS Stonewall, Captain Thomas J. Page, put to sea from Ferrol , Spain, en route to Havana. The ironclad was intended to raise the blockade of one or more southern ports.

28 March
Rear Admiral Porter joined Generals Grant and Sherman for a conference with President Lincoln on board steamer River Queen at City Point, Virginia. They discussed the strategy to be followed in the closing days of the war and how the South would be treated at the close of the conflict.

29 March
The Appomattox campaign begins, with Grant’s move against Lee’s defenses at Petersburg , Virginia .

The St. Patrick is used to ferry supplies to the outlying garrison of Spanish Fort (one of two earthwork fortifications keeping the Navy out of Mobile ).

2 April
Petersburg falls, and the Confederate government evacuates its capital, Richmond . Confederate corps commander Ambrose Powell Hill is killed in action while attempting to rally his men.

2-4 April
CSA Secretary of the Navy Stephen R. Mallory ordered the destruction of the Confederate James River Squadron. He directed its officers and men to join General Lee's troops then in the process of evacuating Richmond and retreating westward toward Danville .

3 April
Midshipmen at the Confederate Naval Academy , under the command of Lieutenant William H. Parker, escorted the archives of the government and the specie and bullion of the treasury from Richmond to Danville and southward.

3 April
Union troops occupy Richmond.

4 April
Rear Admiral Porter accompanied President Lincoln up the James River to Richmond on board flagship Malvern. Vice Admiral David G. Farragut had already arrived in the Confederate capital.

9 April
General Lee met General Grant at Appomattox Courthouse and formally surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia.

11-12 April
Batteries Tracy and Huger, up the Blakely River from Spanish Fort, fell to Union forces and Confederate troops evacuated Mobile, which was surrendered by the mayor.

14 April
President Lincoln was shot shortly after 10 p.m. while watching "Our American Cousin'' at Ford's Theatre, Washington. Secretary of State William H. Seward is stabbed and wounded in an assassination attempt inside his Washington home.

14 April
Major General Anderson, Commander of the Union Army garrison at Fort Sumter on 14 April 1861 , raised above Sumter 's ruins "the same United States flag which floated over the battlements of that fort during the rebel assault...."

15 April
Lincoln dies at 7:22 a.m. , and Andrew Johnson is inaugurated as President.

23-24 April
CSS Webb, Lieutenant Read, dashed from the Red River and entered the Mississippi in a heroic last-ditch effort to escape to sea. Trapped below New Orleans, Webb was grounded and fired to avoid capture.

26 April
Joseph E. Johnston surrenders to William T. Sherman in North Carolina ; John Wilkes Booth is shot in a barn in Virginia and dies.

27 April
The body of John Wilkes Booth, President Lincoln's assassin, was delivered on board USS Montauk, anchored in the Anacostia River off the Washington Navy Yard.

3 May
CSA Secretary of the Navy Mallory submitted his resignation to President Davis at Washington , Georgia .

10 May
President Jefferson Davis was captured by Union troops near Irwinville , Georgia.

19 May
CSS Stonewall, Captain T. J. Page, was turned over to Cuban officials at Havana.

26 May
In New Orleans, terms of surrender are offered to General E. Kirby Smith, commander of the Trans-Mississippi Department. His acceptance on June 2 formally ends Confederate resistance.

2 June
Terms of surrender of Galveston were signed on board USS Fort Jackson by Major General E. Kirby Smith on behalf of the Confederacy.

The last official act of the Civil War sees a Navy expedition head up the Red River north of Shreveport to take possession of C.S.S. Missouri and a small naval flotilla which included a number of submarines. Warned of underwater activity in the area, the wary sailors arrive to find the Missouriand her crew waiting for capture, and the submarines all scuttled and their crews escaped.

22 June
Secretary Welles announced to the naval forces that France and Great Britain had "withdrawn from the insurgents the character of belligerents,” and that the blockade of the coast of the United States would soon be lifted.

28 June
This date marked the most successful single day CSS Shenandoah, Lieutenant Waddell, enjoyed as a commerce raider during her long cruise that spanned 13 months and covered 58,000 miles. On this field day Waddell captured eleven American whalers near the narrows of the Bering Strait .

30 June
All eight conspirators are convicted for the assassination of President Lincoln; four are sentenced to death

18 July
Rear Admiral Louis M. Goldsborough arrived at Flushing , in the Netherlands , where he hoisted his flag on USS Colorado and assumed command of the reinstated European Squadron. The East India Squadron was reactivated on 31 July.

2 August
Lieutenant Waddell, CSS Shenandoah, spoke the English bark Barracouta and for the first time learned positively that the war was over. He determined to make a nonstop voyage to Liverpool, England, via Cape Horn .

12 August
Brazil Squadron reactivated under Rear Admiral Gordon in flagship Susquehanna.

11 September
Emperor Maximilian approved the "Regulations and Instructions'' prepared by Matthew Fontaine Maury to encourage emigration of Southerners to Mexico. The Emperor also appointed Maury director of the proposed National Observatory.

3 November
Secretary Welles ordered all naval vessels to resume rendering honors when entering British ports and to begin again exchanging official courtesies with English men-of-war.

6 November
CSS Shenandoah, Lieutenant Waddell, arrived at Liverpool , England , 123 days and 23,000 miles from the Aleutians. Waddell lowered the last official Confederate flag, and his ship was ultimately turned over to American authorities.

4 December
Secretary Welles announced that the West India Squadron was to be re-established under Commodore James S. Palmer, in that area ''where we have so large a trade, owing to the proximity of the islands to our shores, it is essential that we cultivate friendly relations."

31 December
In his annual report to the President, Secretary Welles wrote: ''It is still wise -- the wisest -- economy to cherish the Navy, to husband its resources, to invite new supplies of youthful courage and skill to its service, to be amply supplied with all needful facilities and preparations for efficiency, and thus to hold within prompt and easy reach its vast and salutary power for the national defense and self- vindication.


The Intelligent Whale is launched in Newark , New Jersey , three years after construction began. The ship was an utter disaster, killing upwards of thirty men in her trials. The unfortunate result of these trials ended the development of submarines in America for the next thirty years.


15 February
is sold at auction as scrap for $43.


Navy chronology extracted from Civil War Naval Chronology, 1861-1865, published in 1971 by the Naval Historical Center. Submarine information comes from Mark Ragan’s “Submarine Warfare in the Civil War.” General and army events are from the Smithsonian’s website at

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