Monday, January 23, 2012

Steamer Constitution

Image available at: Sons of the South

     Transporting the 30th Massachusetts from Boston to the South for war should have been a fairly straightforward operation.  A number of other units that would ultimately be sent to the same area where the 30th would end up simply employed civilian forms of transportation such as steamships hired for use by the government.  An example of how the process should have worked out can be seen with the transportation of the 9th Connecticut Infantry on board the Steamship "Constitution" (depicted in the image above) on November 21, 1861.
The commander of the ship itself was Capt. Fuller, a veteran of the wave, and some 50 years of age. It was stated that the government was paying $2,000 per day for the use of the Constitution. (1)
      A description of the sailing accompanied the above image in the December 7, 1861 issue of Harper's Weekly.


WE publish on page 780 an illustration of the EMBARKATION OF THE TWENTY-SIXTH MASSACHUSETTS AND NINTH CONNECTICUT REGIMENTS ON BOARD THE STEAMER "CONSTITUTION," which is to sail shortly for a Southern point, to land an expedition to be commanded by General Butler. A correspondent of the Herald thus described the arrival of the Constitution at Boston :

The expected steamer Constitution arrived at half past ten this morning, and as she rounded up to the end of Long Wharf an immense concourse of people gazed in admiration at her perfect model and the beauty of her lines. She reached this port last night, but anchored off the lower light until morning.

She made the trip from New York in twenty-nine hours and ten minutes, and so thoroughly did she work that her engines were never stopped from the moment she started until she anchored at Boston. This, in a new ship, is almost unprecedented. She is the largest ship ever built on this continent, and the largest wooden steamer in the world; but she hardly rolled at all, although it blew a perfect gale during the whole of her passage.

It is stated that her capacities will be severely tested in carrying three thousand soldiers, but I am assured by Mr. Culver, who was the assistant superintendent in building her, that she can carry that number with ease and comfort. She is of 3500 tons burden. (2)
     The November 16th edition of The New York Times offers yet another description of the Constitution.
The new ocean steamship constitution, which has just been completed for the Pacific Mail Steamship Company, and intended for the passenger traffic between Panama and San Francisco, leaves to-day at noon, for Boston, from her anchorage opposite Canal-street. She has been chartered by Gen. BUTLER to convey a portion of his Division from Boston to some, as yet, unknown point on the Southern Coast. Her great capacity and, at the same time, her moderate draft of water when loaded, render her one of the most desirable steamers afloat for transport service. She will probably accommodate comfortably more passengers than any ship of equal tonnage which has ever been constructed in this country. By the use of her Sewell's condenser -- a patent arrangement -- over 30,000 gallons of fresh water daily can be made from salt water while lying in port. Besides her wheel condenser, site has a Normanby apparatus of large condensing capacity. Her tanks hold over 20,000 gallons. The ship is 350 feet in length, over all, 45 feet breadth of beam, not including paddle-boxes; 32 feet depth of hold and 40 feet deep from upper deck. Her engines were put in at the Novelty Works, under the supervision of Mr. EVERETT, and is a master-piece of work. The walking-beam weighs 30 tons. The cylinder is 105 inches in diameter, and stroke of piston 12 feet. Diameter of air-pump 4 feet 10 inches. Stroke, 6 feet. Diameter of circulating pump 4 feet 2 inches, stroke 4 feet 9 inches. She has 4 main boilers of 32 feet length and 13 feet 3 inches in diameter. There are also 4 single return boilers of 40 inches diameter, and one auxiliary boiler to drive the donkey-engine, giving her very great boiler capacity. The diameter of shaft is 23 inches, and diameter of paddle-wheels 40 feet out-side of buckets. She is in command of Capt. FLETCHER, one of the most experienced and popular of commanders, her engineer being Mr. VANDERBILT, long and favorably known in ocean steamship service. During the trial trip on Thursday the machinery worked with the greatest case, and gave entire satisfaction. She attained 14 revolutions with 20 pounds of steam. The Constitution was built by WM. H. WEBB. from models and plans by Capt. SKIDDY, who superintended her construction from the laying of the keel to her launching, assisted by Capt. ALLEN MCLANE. (3)

     For the 30th and units joining it on board the Constitution the situation should have been a straightforward passage just as the 9th had encountered.  At the time when the 30th prepared to leave Boston it was fairly large regiment, and its men did not yet know that they would be met by several delays...both before and after they actually left the city.

Jan. 2, it went on board "The Constitution" at Boston; sailed on the 13th, and arrived at Fortress Monroe on the 16th, with 926 men and 25 officers, under command of Acting Lieut.-Col. Jonas H. French. On the 20th, it disembarked, and went into camp. On the 2d of February, it re-embarked, sailed on the 6th, and arrived at Ship Island on the 12th of February. Hero it went into camp, and, on the 9th of March, was joined by Company K, Capt. Cook, with 96 men. (4)
      The delays that kept the Constitution and the 30th from sailing and later being held over at Fortress Monroe were caused largely by a disagreement between Gov. Andrew of Massachusetts and General Ben Butler who raised the Division to which the Eastern Bay State Regiment (later 30th Massachusetts) belonged.  The disagreement lay essentially in Gov. Andrew not believing that General Butler had the proper authority to raise regiments within his own state (more will be written on this topic in a future post).  Before this ship could depart from Boston the issue was beginning to make its way from a military issue to one being covered by the civilian press.  A post from the Boston Post (January 12, 1861) reprinted two days later in The New York Times gave some details on the surrounding events.
Published: January 14, 1862
From the Boston Post, Jan. 12.

Considerable public excitement was caused on Friday and Saturday by the unpleasant rumors, too freely circulated, relative to Gen. BUTLER's expedition, and by the shirting character of the programme announced. It was allowed that a temporary delay had occurred in Die sailing of the Constitution, and that measures had been taken to disembark the two regiments of infantry and one company of artillery that had been aboard of her for a week,but beyond these facts all was mystery. The probability that the Government had an idea of changing the destination of the troops from Ship Island to some more important point, and the decided folly of keeping 2,500 men cooped up aboard a steamship in our harbor at an expense of $2,500 per day, strengthened the belief that the delay was temporary only, and that, the "Butler Expedition" was by no means "to be broken up."

In accordance with the dispatch ordering the Maine Regiment to Camp Chase and the Eastern Bay State to Fort Independence, measures were taken to unload the great ship and disembark her troop, in order to give her up at the end of a month, allowing but about Six days' time. A portion of Col. FRENCH's regiment, comprising several companies, were accordingly sent down to the fort by a tugboat Saturday, with a load of camp equipage, provisions, &c., and another was all ready to go, when an order was received, late in the afternoon, countermanding the former, and ordering the departure of the troops immediately. The troops and munitions were brought back from the Fort, and those who had a furlough till Monday had it remanded, indicating that "a movement was to be expected" at once. The Sunday Herald said: "Meanwhile Gen. BUTLER was under stood to have started for Washington, Gov. ANDREW was booked for the same pilgrimage, while Col. SREPLKY had gone to Lowell to await' his regiment. Telegrams were cent the pilgrims to return," &c., &c. The steamer was to have sailed yesterday, but her departure was postponed until this morning on account of the storm. It is stated that Gen. BUTLER will first go to Washington, and then join the troops at Forties Monroe.

The following are the rosters of the regiments aboard the Constitution:

Lieutenant-Colonel, JONAS H. FRENCH, Boston; Adjutant. Charles A.R Drimon, Salem; Surgeon, Charles W. Moore, Boston; Assistant Surgeon, A.F Halt; Quartemaster, John M.G. Parker, Lowell; Sergeant-Major, Selden H. Loring, Marlborough; Commissary-Sergeant, H.W. Fay, Boston; Quarter-master-Sergeant, H.W. Howe, Lowell; Hospital Steward, Joseph Davis, West Medford.

Company A -- Captain, H.C. Welles, Cambridge; First Lieutenant, W. Greene Howe, Cambridge; Second Lieutenant. C.F. Whitcomb, Cambridge. Company B -- Captain. C. Blanchard, Lowell; First Lieutenant, James Parson, Lowell; Second Lieutenant, E.A. Fiske, Lowell. Company C -- Captain, S.D. Shipley, Lowell; First Lieutenant, Wm. F. Lovrien, Lowell; Second Lieutenant, R.A. Elliot, Lowell. Company D -- Captain, Marsh A. Ferirs. Boston; First Lieutenant, B.P. Fox, Boston; Second Lieutenant, N.R. Reed, Lowell. Company E -- Captain, Robert B. Brown, Boston; First Lieutenant, John Kinneor, Boston; Second Lieutenant, W.H. Gardner, Boston. Company F -- Captain, T.A. Crowley, Lowell; First Lieutenant, Burt Johnson, Lowell; Second lieutenant, A.H. Fuller, Boston. Company G -- Capt, D.S. Yeaton, Lawrence; First Lieutenant, F.H. Whiltier, Lawrence; Second Lieutenant, F.M, Norcross, Lowell, Company H -- Captain, John A. Nelson, Hartford, Conn.; First Lieutenant, Henry Finnegas, Boston; Second Lieutenant, Wm. B, Emerson. Company I (Fire Zouaves) -- Captain, Eugene Kelty, Boston; First Lieutenant, Geo. Barker, New-beryport; Second Lieutenant, Jas. W. Claiborne, Philadelphia, Penn.

Attached to this regiment by order from Head-Quarters:

First Division -- Captain, S. Tyler Reed; First Lieutenant, Jno. Cowen; Second Lieutenant, Benj. Pickman, Salem.

Second Division -- Captain, James M. Magee; First Lieutenan, A.G. Bowies; Second Lieutenant, P.D. Allen, Salem.

Captain, H.A. Dunvage; First Lieutenant, Solon A. Perkins; Second Lieutenant, E.E.H. Sturtivant.

Colonel, GEORGE F. SHEPLEY, Portland; Lieutenant-Colonel, William K. Kimball, Paris; Major, D.R. Hastings, Lovell; Quartermaster, H.N. Jose, Portland; Adjutant, Edwin Lesley, Limerick, Assistant Surgeon, J.H. Thompson, Orono; Chaplain, Joseph Colby, Gorham; Sergeant-Major, John W. Dana, Portland; Quartermaster-Sergeant, Charles D. Webb, Portland; Hospital Steward, Sargent P. Coe, Portland.

Co. A -- Captain, Gideon A. Hastings, Bethel; First Lieutenant, Elbridge G. Bolton, Portland; Second Lieutenant, E. Goddard, Rumford. Co. B -- Captain, Geo. H. Chadwell, Portland; First Lieutenant, Chas. F. Little, Portland; Second Lieutenant, S. Bolivar Wiggin, Portland. Co. C -- Captain, Chas, C.G. Thornton, Scarboro'; First Lieutenant, Wm. W. Deane, Portland; Second Lieutenant, Horatio Right, Scarboro'. Co. D -- Captain, Elisha Winter, Dixfield; First Lieutenant, Henry E. Waldron, Pern; Second Lieutenant, Christopher C, Richardson, Dixfield. Co. E -- Captain, Enoch Knight, Bridgton; First Lieutenant, Horace Eastman, Lovell; Second Lieutenant, H.S. Lowell, Windham. Co. F -- Captain, Seth C. Farrington, Fryeburg; First Lieutenant. Abbot Cram, Orono; Second Lieutenant, Edward H.B. Wilson, Orono. Co. G -- Captain, Moses M. Robinson, Portland; First Lieutenant, S.B. Packard, Auburn; Second Lieutenant, Wm. B. Skillin, Yarmouth. Co. H -- Captain, John F. Appleton, Bangor; First Lieutenant, D.M. Phillips, Gorham: second Lieutenant, George Webster, Bangor. Co. I -- Captain, M.R. Fessenden, Portland; First Lieutenant, S.F. Thompson, Bangor; Second Lieutenant, Coombs, Bangor. Co. K -- Captain, Geo. Washburn, Calais: First Lieutenant. James S. Cleaves, Calais; Second Lieutenant, Samuel M. Eaton, Gorham. (5)

(1) History of The Ninth Regiment C.V. (Chap. 3, p. 54).
(2) Harper's Weekly (Dec. 7 1861)
(3) The New York Times (November 16, 1861)
(4) Massachusetts in the rebellion: a record of the historical position of the commonwealth, and the services of the leading statesmen, the military, the colleges, and the people, in the civil war of 1861-65. (p335)
(5) The New York Times (January 14, 1861)

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