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Goldsborough, John Rodgers (1808-1877) to Mrs. J. R. Goldsborough

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC04216 Author/Creator: Goldsborough, John Rodgers (1808-1877) Place Written: South Carolina Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 15 December 1861-30 December 1861 Pagination: 57 p. : envelope ; 18.2 x 12. 2 cm.

Commander Goldsborough writes to his wife from the U.S. Steamer Florida, on blockading duty near Charleston, South Carolina. Notes the arrival of the stone fleet, comprised by ships filled with stone, sand, and other heavy materials sent to blockade Charleston Harbor (page 13). Mentions other captains and steamers. Comments on the arrival of the Confederate ship Lady Davis (20 December), which remained beyond Union fire to observe events taking place in the harbor (page 27). Dreads their first Christmas apart. Reports sailing to Port Royal, South Carolina, 28 December 1861. Includes gossip regarding fellow shipmen and mutual acquaintances. On 29 December, writes, "I pity poor Sherman he certainly has laboured like a horse to make these fellows toe the mark, he sacrifices all comforts lives in his tent- sleeps upon the ground and fares no better than his men and all to no purpose- perhaps Sherman expects too much from them and would it not be better for volunteers to be commanded by volunteers, and then dragooned in by the Regulars- On one occasion I remember when on shore at Hilton Head I passed the post of a sentry the fellow was as Naked as when he was born washing himself in a stream of water..." (pages 59-60). Goldsborough wrote four pages per day. He was brother of Admiral Louis Goldsborough.

Excerpts:
18 December:"...all of a sudden some ten or fifteen vessels hove in sight coming from the So & Wo - I could not be mistaken - I was lying down at the time...when the Orderly came down to inform me - I ran upon deck and there they were sure enough - the whole Ocean appeared covered with strange Vessels - Oh What joy I felt in my own bosom - It was the Stone Fleet to block up the harbour of Charleston..."
"...we have been employed… placing vessels in their proper position and preparing them for sinking...by this time tomorrow night [18] the whole concern will be down to the bottom...At daybreak...we discovered that the rebels had...blown or pulled down the Light House - It was standing at Sun Down and at day light not a trace...it has not been lighted since the state seceeded...we can do very well without it...these people are a great set of Cowards and they are fearful we are coming in upon them to burn sink and destroy their lives their property and the sacred honor of their females..."

20 December:"…the Rebel man of war steamer Lady Davis came a short distance below Fort Sumpter to take a look at what was going on - She took could care not to come within range of any of our guns...Commerce must now turn to the magnificent harbour of Port Royal...ten times better than ever Charleston or Savannah...nature intended that Port Royal should be the great Southern Mart...these vessels are all loaded with stone, and fitted with valves - so that...all you have to do is out valve and down she goes..."

25 December: "A Merry and a Happy Christmas to you all...the Mohican- Barque Roebuck and Florida have been lying quietly at anchor...across the harbour of Charleston...imagineing that we can almost hear the church bells ringing - Fort Sumpter has been firing some [struck: of] heavy guns for what purpose is best known to themselves..."

28 December: "...I have yet to hear of any vessel either entering or leaving the port of Charleston during the twenty five days I was off that port - DuPont informed me that two men from Tatnall's flotilla who had deserted...were on board of his vessel the day Tatnall came down in Savannah River to attack us...his Flag Captain...Maffit was so beastly drunk that Tatnall sent him out of his ship, also that Tatnall himself was very little better..."

30 December: "Wirt and Doct,, Robinson both rabid secessionists and the former Surgeon Genl of the Rebel Army at Manassas - writing to Louis imploring him to resign with the offer of their influence to procure him the command of the Confederate Navy...did you ever hear of such...impudence?..."

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