Atlantic Blockading Squadron

Atlantic Blockading Squadron

Capture of the Forts at Cape Hatteras Inlet by Alfred R. Waud, artist, August 28, 1861.
Active 1861
Country  United States
Branch United States Navy
Type naval squadron

The Atlantic Blockading Squadron was a unit of the United States Navy created in the early days of the American Civil War to enforce a blockade of the ports of the Confederate States. It was formed in 1861 and split up the same year for the creation of the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron and the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron.


American Civil War

Following President Abraham Lincoln’s proclamation of a blockade of Southern ports on April 19, 1861 the Navy Department found it necessary to subdivide the territory assigned to the Home Squadron. This resulted in the creation of the Coast Blockading Squadron and the Gulf Blockading Squadron in early May 1861.[1]

Warships of the Atlantic Blockading Squadron bombarding Port Royal, South Carolina in November 1861.

In orders sent on May 1, 1861 Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles appointed Flag Officer Silas H. Stringham to command the Coast Blockading Squadron. Stringham received this order and took command on May 4, 1861. His new command was to be headquartered at Hampton Roads, Virginia and was given responsibility for the blockading of the coast from the capes of the Chesapeake to the southern extremity of Florida and Key West. On May 17, 1861 the Coast Blockading Squadron was re-designated the Atlantic Blockading Squadron.[2]

On September 16, 1861 Stringham tendered his resignation as commander of the squadron following his receipt of a letter from Acting Secretary of the Navy Gustavus V. Fox that he felt indicated disapproval of his measures to enforce the blockade. Stringham’s resignation was accepted on September 18, 1861 and the same day Flag Officer Louis M. Goldsborough was appointed as his replacement. The transfer of command took place on September 23, 1861 when Goldsborough arrived at Hampton Roads. In communicating to Goldsborough about his appointment Gideon Welles stated that “more vigorous and energetic action must be taken” to enforce the blockade.[3]

The frigate USS Roanoke.

During the summer of 1861 a four-person board, chaired by Captain Samuel F. Du Pont, was formed to study the implementation of the blockade and make recommendations to improve its efficiency. In the board’s report of July 16, 1861 it was recommended that the Atlantic region be divided into northern and southern sectors. On September 18, 1861 the Navy Department reached the decision to implement this division with the dividing line being the border between North Carolina and South Carolina. The implementation of this was delayed for a time and on October 12, 1861 the Navy Department informed Flag Officer Goldsborough that the division of his command would be effective as of the date Flag Officer Samuel F. Du Pont, who was appointed commander of the southern squadron, departed from Hampton Roads with the expedition to capture Port Royal, South Carolina. Du Pont departed on October 29, 1861 upon which date the squadron was divided to form the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron and the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron.[4]

The only major operation conducted by the Atlantic Blockading Squadron was the expedition that led to the capture of Hatteras Inlet, North Carolina August 26–29, 1861. This goal of the operation was to deny use of the inlet to Confederate shipping and this was accomplished with few casualties. The operation was also significant for giving the Union a badly needed victory following the Battle of Bull Run, being the first amphibious landing and the first large scale combined Army-Navy operation of the war.[5]

Ships of the Squadron

On May 17, 1861 there were only fourteen ships assigned to the squadron, along with the Flying Flotilla (later the Potomac Flotilla) which was being formed by Commander James H. Ward who had departed for the Chesapeake from the New York Navy Yard on May 16, 1861. In effect Ward's flotilla acted independently under the direct orders of the Navy Department, though there was some transfer of vessels between the commands. With the acquisition and arming of civilian vessels the Atlantic Blockading Squadron grew to about three times its original allocated strength.[6]

Ship Rate Type Notes
Minnesota 1st Screw Frigate Squadron Flagship
Roanoke 1st Screw Frigate
Wabash 1st Screw Frigate
Susquehanna 1st Sidewheel Frigate
Brandywine 2nd Sailing Frigate Storeship, Hampton Roads
Congress 2nd Sailing Frigate
Cumberland 2nd Sailing Frigate
St. Lawrence 2nd Sailing Frigate
Sabine 2nd Sailing Frigate
Savannah 2nd Sailing Frigate
Pawnee 2nd Screw Sloop
Iroquois 3rd Screw Sloop
Seminole 3rd Screw Sloop
Dale 4th Sailing Sloop
Jamestown 3rd Sailing Sloop
Vandalia 4th Sailing Sloop
Quaker City 2nd Sidewheel Gunboat
Cambridge 3rd Screw Gunboat
Flag 3rd Screw Gunboat
Harriet Lane 3rd Sidewheel Gunboat from United States Revenue Cutter Service
Albatross 4th Screw Gunboat
Dawn 4th Screw Gunboat
Daylight 4th Screw Gunboat
Louisiana 4th Screw Gunboat
Monticello 4th Screw Gunboat
Mount Vernon 4th Screw Gunboat
Penguin 4th Screw Gunboat
Pocahontas 4th Screw Gunboat
R. B. Forbes 4th Screw Gunboat
Stars and Stripes 4th Screw Gunboat
Valley City 4th Screw Gunboat
Ceres 4th Sidewheel Gunboat
John L. Lockwood 4th Sidewheel Gunboat
Thomas Freeborn 4th Sidewheel Gunboat
Underwriter 4th Sidewheel Gunboat
Union 4th Screw Auxiliary
Young Rover 4th Screw Auxiliary
Adelaide 4th Sidewheel Auxiliary Transport
Cohasset 4th Screw Tug
Reliance 4th Screw Tug
Rescue 4th Screw Tug
Resolute 4th Screw Tug
Young America 4th Screw Tug ex-Confederate captured by USS Cumberland 24 Apr 1861 in Hampton Roads
General Putnam 4th Sidewheel Tug Also known as USS William G. Putnam
Yankee 4th Sidewheel Tug
Ben Morgan 4th Sailing Ship Hospital Ship
Charles Phelps 4th Sailing Ship Coal Ship
Perry 4th Sailing Brig
Gemsbok 4th Sailing Bark
Release 4th Sailing Bark Storeship


Squadron Commander From To
Flag Officer Silas Horton Stringham 4 May 1861 23 Sep 1861
Flag Officer Louis Malesherbes Goldsborough 23 Sep 1861 29 Oct 1861


  1. ORN, Ser. I, Vol. 5 (1897), pp. 619-20.
  2. ORN, Ser. I, Vol. 5 (1897), pp. 619-20, 624, 635.
  3. ORN, Ser. I, Vol. 6 (1897), pp. 210-1, 216-7, 231-4.
  4. ORN, Ser. I, Vol. 6 (1897), pp. 313-4, 375. ORN, Ser. I, Vol. 12 (1901), pp. 198-201, 208.
  5. ORN, Ser. I, Vol. 6 (1897), pp. 119-145. Anderson (1989), pp. 48-52.
  6. ORN, Ser. I, Vol. 5 (1897), pp. xv-xvi, 753-4, 635. ORN, Ser. I, Vol. 6 (1897), pp. xvii-xviii, 5, 192, 282, 367.

This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 8/23/2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.