cguy.gif 01110008.jpg uguy.gif
January 2000
R.Danny Witt, President            John M.Coski, editor
5500 Ashton Park Way                1201 E.Clay St.
Glen Allen, VA 23059                Richmond, VA 23219


Acting Ensign John W. Grattan, USN
and the Experience of Naval Combat in the Civil War

8:00 p.m., Tuesday, January 11, 2000
Boulevard United Methodist Church
321 N. Boulevard (corner of Boulevard and Stuart Ave.)
Enter basement door from Boulevard side.

In comparison with the mountain of literature on  Civil  War
land campaigns, little is published about the naval history.
To be sure, books abound on commerce raiders, ironclads  and
a  familiar  litany of battles: New Orleans, Forts Henry and
Donelson, Vicksburg,  Mobile  Bay,  and  Fort  Fisher.   But
little  has been done on the lives of the common sailors and
lower grade officers.  Dennis Ringle's new  book,  Lift  iii
Mr.  Lincoln's Navy (Naval Institute Press, 1998), has begun
to  redress  the  imbalance,  but   there   are   no   naval
counterparts   to   the   works  by  Reid  Mitchell,  Gerald
Linderman, Earl  Hess,  and  other  scholars  on  Civil  War

Our first speaker of the new millennium will share the first
fruits of his extensive research into the life of the common
sailor.   Robert  J.   Schneller  began  work in 1996 on the
combat experiences of Civil  War  sailors.   As  lie  sailed
through  manuscripts  at the Library of Congress, he found a
memoir written by John W.  Grattan, who served as clerk  and
aide  to  the  commander  of  the  South Atlantic Blockading
Squadron,  1863-1865.   Grattan's  memoir  called  out   for
publication,  and  Schneller  -  and  John  Wiley  &  Sons -
obliged.   Under  the  Blue  Pennant   appeared   in   1999.
Schneller's  talk  to the Richmond Round Table is drawn from
Grattan's memoir.

Robert J.  Schneller received his Ph.D.  in military history
from  Duke  University  in  199  1.  Since then, he has been
employed as a historian in the Contemporary  History  Branch
at  the  Naval Historical Center in Washington, D.C.  He has
co-authored a history of the U.S.  Navy in the Persian  Gulf
War  and  written  A  Quest  for  Glory  on the life of John

by R. Danny Witt

U.S.  Naval Academy and later to be buried there.  Cushing's
life  and  civil  war  exploits  were  the  topics for Chris
Fonvielle's November program.

Appointed to the U.S.  Naval Academy in 1857 at the  age  of
14,  Cushilig's  frivolous  attitude  put  him  at odds with
faculty members.   Although  intelligent,  Cushing  acquired
numerous  demerits  for larking and visiting with classmates
instead of studying, and,  by  1861,  the  Academy  had  had
enough.   Just  as  he decided that the navy was for him, he
was asked to resign.  As fate would  have  it,  Cushing  was
able  to  pull some strings and within a week of leaving the
Academy he was appointed an  acting  master's  mate  in  the
expanded wartime U.S.  Navy.

Cushing  entered  the  war  with the determination to either
make a name for himself or die trying.  Fonvielle noted that
the word "commando" was not in use during the Civil War, but
Rear  Admiral  David  Dixon  Porter  insightfullv  described
Cushing  as a "freelance." Most of what Cushing is known for
occurred in the months that  he  served  with  the  blockade
fleet off of Wilmington, N.C.  and Fort Fisher.

After  a  reconnaissance  mission  Cushing  hoped to lead an
invasion to capture Bald Head Island,  but  was  denied  the
opportunity  by  his  commander.   Cushing  vowed  to have a
Confederate officer attend breakfast with him in a few days.
Slipping  into  Smithfield  under  the cover of darkness, he
attempted to capture Brig.  Gen.  Louis  Hebert,  but  found
him  away at Wilmington.  He instead came away with Hebert's
chief engineer, Capt.  Patrick Kelly, leaving a note on  the
genet-al's  bed  that  said  "Sorry you were not home when I

Cushing is best known for his attack of October -18, 1864 on
the CSS.41bettiarle at Plymouth, North Carolina, when he and
fourteen volunteers successfully detonated  a  spar  torpedo
beneath  the  Confederate  ironclad.  Cushing alone survived
the attack and escaped capture.

Often called the "bravest of the brave" or the  "darling  of
the  navy,"  he did not always succeed with his mission, but
he always returned.  He earned the thanks from the navy five
times  and  the  U.S.   Congress  once during the Civil War.
After the war Cushing seemed lost as he was  posted  in  the
Pacific,  Boston and finally Washington D.C., where his life
ended prematurely.   At  age  31  he  was  confined  in  the
Government  Hospital for the Insane where he died.  Thirteen
years after leaving, the U.S.  Naval  Academy,  Cushing  was
buried on a prominent hill with full military honors.

by R. Danny Witt

The  annual  Christmas   dinner   offered   the   RCWRT   an
appropriately   prestigious   final  speaker  of  its  first
millennium: William C.(Jack) Davis spoke to a group of about
seventy  people on the subject of his latest book, Lincoln's
Men: How President Lincoln Became a Father to an Army and  a

Among  President  Abraham Lincoln's primary boyhood readings
was The Life of' Washington, a book  that  presented  George
Washington  as  a  father  figure  to  his troops during the
Revolutionary   War.    Lincoln   understood   that,    like
Washington,  he had to win the personal loyalty of the Union
soldier.  His first attempt came early in the  war  when  he
greeted  the  soldiers  who  arrived  by ships and trains in
Washington D.C.  He was often accompanied by  his  wife  and
children  and he would do such a simple thing as share a cup
or gourd of water with them.

Throughout the war, Lincoln reviewed the army and opened the
White  House  a  few times a week to meet the public and the
soldiers.  Often the visitor would come away thinking, "That
the  most  powerful  man  on  the  face  of  the  earth  was
interested in me and what I had to say.  Often Lincoln would
sit next to the person with a hand on his knee and listen to
what he had to  say."  Our  speaker  compared  this  to  the
biblical  laying  on  of hands.  After all, this was "Father

Further revealing Lincoln's kindness to his citizen soldiers
was his intervention in the courts martial that were brought
before  him.   He  often  spared  the  lives  of   condemned
soldiers.   Lincoln's  motto  was "fair play is a jewel." He
believed in the aphorism that shooting a man never made  him
a better man.

Some  of  the  crises that Lincoln faced during the war were
the loss at First Bull Run, the  Emancipation  Proclamation,
the  raising of black troops, and conscription act.  Through
all of these Lincoln always made the soldier  feel  like  he
was  on  his side.  After an inter-view In 1 864 one soldier
wrote home "I think lie belongs to the common man."

"Father Abraham" took care of those that took  care  of  the
government  by  initiating  veteran  hospitals, programs for
care of the disabled, pensions, and orphan  homes.   By  the
end  of  the war, Lincoln had truly become one of the men in
blue by inspiring them to come forward and save the Union.

H.E.F.  "Hef" FERGUSON, 1942-1999

One of our most loyal members died suddenly on November  15.
Recognizable  by  his  white  mustache,  impeccable bow tie,
trusty cane, and unflagging good humor, Hef  was  a  fixture
among  the  front row rowdies.  A proud graduate of Hargrave
Military Academy, a captain in the U.S.  Air  Force,  and  a
career banker with Crestar Bank, Hef was also active in many
civic, patriotic,  and  historical  organizations.   He  was
commander  of the James Longstreet Camp, SCV.  The front row
will not be the same without him.

RCWRT Officers for 2000

President: R. Danny Witt
1st Vice President: William S. "Sam" Craghead
2nd Vice President: Clarke Lewis
Secretary: Sandy Parker
Treasurer: Gus Faeder
Newsletter Editor: John Coski
Past Presidents on Executive Committee: Jack Ackerly, Scott Mauger,
					Jerry Netherland

IMPORTANT REMINDER: Dues must be paid by January 31, 2000.

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©R.C.W.R.T. 2000