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Admiral John Dahlgren Coordinates with Army Commander
Item Details
Description
Dahlgren John

Admiral John Dahlgren Coordinates with Army Commander at Mouth of Charleston Harbor

John A. Dahlgren, autograph letter signed, to William W. H. Davis, February 2, 1864. 2 pp., 5" x 8". Affixed to thick paper backing with photograph of Vice Admiral Stephen C. Rowan (1808-1890) on verso. Expected folds; very good.

In this fascinating letter, Admiral John A. Dahlgren of the Union Navy confers with Colonel William W. H. Davis, in command of troops on Morris Island. Dahlgren hoped to work with Davis to stop the Confederates from reinforcing and resupplying their troops at Fort Sumter, on an island in the middle of the harbor. A deserter had reported that the resupply would occur on the night of February 2, and Dahlgren provided Lieutenant Commander Francis M. Bunce (1836-1901) with a detachment of 100 men, including 25 marines, in boats, to join a detachment from Colonel Davis at Cumming's Point, near the north end of Morris Island, just over a mile from Fort Sumter. Dahlgren ordered Bunce “not to risk the detachment against a superior force, nor to incur the chances of grounding by the falling tide, so as to be under fire of any of the enemy's batteries.” The results of Bunce's mission are unknown.

During the night of February 1-2, the blockade-runner Presto from Nassau in the Bahamas had slipped past the Union blockade and was heading toward Charleston. When Dahlgren wrote this letter, the Presto was under the protection of Confederate artillery at Fort Moultrie on Sullivan's Island on the north side of the entrance to the harbor. There, she had struck the wreck of the blockade-runner Minho, which had run aground in the fall of 1862. When the captain discovered the collision had torn a hole in the hull, he steered the Presto toward the beach.

At dawn on February 2, both Union and Confederate forces saw the stranded steamer, and Admiral Dahlgren ordered his four monitors to shell the Presto. Union forts on Morris Island also fired on the blockade-runner. Confederates in Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie returned fire. The firing continued through the night to prevent the Confederates from unloading the Presto's cargo and continued all day on February 3 and into the morning of February 4, before all agreed there was nothing left to salvage from the blasted ship. Federal land batteries fired a total of 769 projectiles at the Presto, and the Confederate counter-fire included 400 shells. The intense firing and counter-firing killed one soldier on each side. These totals do not include projectiles fired by the Union navy's monitors.

Months later, Davis reported that deserters mentioned that the Confederates had recovered liquor from the Presto and “had a ‘grand drunk,' and it is alleged that 300 men at that time could have taken the island, but unfortunately it was not known until the opportunity had passed.”

Complete Transcript

"February 2d 1864
Col. Davis
Comr Morris I.

Dear Sir


Your note reached me this morning, upon my return from the Monitors, which I had been engaged in disposing so to care for the Steamer which got past the outer line last night and was under Moultrie.

I found then that the Launches had been unable last night through the inner passage so as to join your boats. Capt. Bunce has gone to see you on the subject.

As the wind is very fresh from SW, I am inclined to suspect that the Rebels will transport in their Steamer to-night and not in boats.


Very Respectfully / Your obed Ser


J A Dahlgren / R. Admiral

I am very much obliged for the copy of information from a deserter".

John A. Dahlgren (1809-1870) was born in Philadelphia to the Swedish consul in the city and joined the U.S. Navy as a midshipman in 1826. After working on the coastal survey from 1834, he was promoted to ordnance officer in 1847 and stationed at the Washington Navy Yard. He founded the U.S. Navy's ordnance department and made major advances in gunnery. During the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln promoted Dahlgren to captain and made him chief of the Bureau of Ordnance. Promoted to Rear Admiral in February 1863, Dahlgren took command of the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron, where he worked with General Quincy A. Gillmore on the siege of Charleston and with General William T. Sherman on the capture of Savannah in December 1864. After the war, he commanded the South Pacific Squadron from 1867 to 1869, before returning to the Washington Navy Yard.

William W. H. Davis (1820-1910) was born in Pennsylvania and graduated from Norwich University in Vermont in 1842. He served as a professor at a military academy in Virginia and studied law. He served in the Mexican War and returned to Doylestown, Pennsylvania, where he practiced law for five years. From 1853 to 1857, he held several government offices in the Territory of New Mexico and published the Santa Fe Gazette in Spanish and English for two and a half years. After returning to Pennsylvania, he purchased the Doylestown Democrat newspaper. When the Civil War began, he recruited and served as the colonel of the 104th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. In February 1864, he commanded the garrison on the northern end of Morris Island, south of the entrance to Charleston harbor. For service there, he was breveted brigadier general, and he mustered out in September 1864. After the war, he returned to managing and editing his newspaper and speaking and writing on historical subjects.

This item comes with a Certificate from John Reznikoff, a premier authenticator for both major 3rd party authentication services, PSA and JSA (James Spence Authentications), as well as numerous auction houses.

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Admiral John Dahlgren Coordinates with Army Commander

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Dec 04, 2019
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0066: Admiral John Dahlgren Coordinates with Army Commander

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Lot 0066 Details

Description
...
Dahlgren John

Admiral John Dahlgren Coordinates with Army Commander at Mouth of Charleston Harbor

John A. Dahlgren, autograph letter signed, to William W. H. Davis, February 2, 1864. 2 pp., 5" x 8". Affixed to thick paper backing with photograph of Vice Admiral Stephen C. Rowan (1808-1890) on verso. Expected folds; very good.

In this fascinating letter, Admiral John A. Dahlgren of the Union Navy confers with Colonel William W. H. Davis, in command of troops on Morris Island. Dahlgren hoped to work with Davis to stop the Confederates from reinforcing and resupplying their troops at Fort Sumter, on an island in the middle of the harbor. A deserter had reported that the resupply would occur on the night of February 2, and Dahlgren provided Lieutenant Commander Francis M. Bunce (1836-1901) with a detachment of 100 men, including 25 marines, in boats, to join a detachment from Colonel Davis at Cumming's Point, near the north end of Morris Island, just over a mile from Fort Sumter. Dahlgren ordered Bunce “not to risk the detachment against a superior force, nor to incur the chances of grounding by the falling tide, so as to be under fire of any of the enemy's batteries.” The results of Bunce's mission are unknown.

During the night of February 1-2, the blockade-runner Presto from Nassau in the Bahamas had slipped past the Union blockade and was heading toward Charleston. When Dahlgren wrote this letter, the Presto was under the protection of Confederate artillery at Fort Moultrie on Sullivan's Island on the north side of the entrance to the harbor. There, she had struck the wreck of the blockade-runner Minho, which had run aground in the fall of 1862. When the captain discovered the collision had torn a hole in the hull, he steered the Presto toward the beach.

At dawn on February 2, both Union and Confederate forces saw the stranded steamer, and Admiral Dahlgren ordered his four monitors to shell the Presto. Union forts on Morris Island also fired on the blockade-runner. Confederates in Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie returned fire. The firing continued through the night to prevent the Confederates from unloading the Presto's cargo and continued all day on February 3 and into the morning of February 4, before all agreed there was nothing left to salvage from the blasted ship. Federal land batteries fired a total of 769 projectiles at the Presto, and the Confederate counter-fire included 400 shells. The intense firing and counter-firing killed one soldier on each side. These totals do not include projectiles fired by the Union navy's monitors.

Months later, Davis reported that deserters mentioned that the Confederates had recovered liquor from the Presto and “had a ‘grand drunk,' and it is alleged that 300 men at that time could have taken the island, but unfortunately it was not known until the opportunity had passed.”

Complete Transcript

"February 2d 1864
Col. Davis
Comr Morris I.

Dear Sir


Your note reached me this morning, upon my return from the Monitors, which I had been engaged in disposing so to care for the Steamer which got past the outer line last night and was under Moultrie.

I found then that the Launches had been unable last night through the inner passage so as to join your boats. Capt. Bunce has gone to see you on the subject.

As the wind is very fresh from SW, I am inclined to suspect that the Rebels will transport in their Steamer to-night and not in boats.


Very Respectfully / Your obed Ser


J A Dahlgren / R. Admiral

I am very much obliged for the copy of information from a deserter".

John A. Dahlgren (1809-1870) was born in Philadelphia to the Swedish consul in the city and joined the U.S. Navy as a midshipman in 1826. After working on the coastal survey from 1834, he was promoted to ordnance officer in 1847 and stationed at the Washington Navy Yard. He founded the U.S. Navy's ordnance department and made major advances in gunnery. During the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln promoted Dahlgren to captain and made him chief of the Bureau of Ordnance. Promoted to Rear Admiral in February 1863, Dahlgren took command of the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron, where he worked with General Quincy A. Gillmore on the siege of Charleston and with General William T. Sherman on the capture of Savannah in December 1864. After the war, he commanded the South Pacific Squadron from 1867 to 1869, before returning to the Washington Navy Yard.

William W. H. Davis (1820-1910) was born in Pennsylvania and graduated from Norwich University in Vermont in 1842. He served as a professor at a military academy in Virginia and studied law. He served in the Mexican War and returned to Doylestown, Pennsylvania, where he practiced law for five years. From 1853 to 1857, he held several government offices in the Territory of New Mexico and published the Santa Fe Gazette in Spanish and English for two and a half years. After returning to Pennsylvania, he purchased the Doylestown Democrat newspaper. When the Civil War began, he recruited and served as the colonel of the 104th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. In February 1864, he commanded the garrison on the northern end of Morris Island, south of the entrance to Charleston harbor. For service there, he was breveted brigadier general, and he mustered out in September 1864. After the war, he returned to managing and editing his newspaper and speaking and writing on historical subjects.

This item comes with a Certificate from John Reznikoff, a premier authenticator for both major 3rd party authentication services, PSA and JSA (James Spence Authentications), as well as numerous auction houses.

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