150 Years Ago Today in the Civil War: First US Naval Officer Killed

150 Years Ago Today in the Civil War: First US Naval Officer Killed

June 28, 1861, the Pawnee arrived at the Washington, DC, Navy Yard carrying the body of Capt. James H. Ward, the first US Naval officer killed during the American Civil War The previous day, Ward, who was in command of a flotilla in the Chesapeake Bay, send a landing party...

June 28, 1861, the Pawnee arrived at the Washington, DC, Navy Yard carrying the body of Capt. James H. Ward, the first US Naval officer killed during the American Civil War

The previous day, Ward, who was in command of a flotilla in the Chesapeake Bay, send a landing party to meet Southern forces at Mathias Point in King George County, Va. They met resistance, and Ward was shot after he moved the ships in to cover for the landing party as it retreated.

At the beginning of the war, the US Navy had just 90 ships; it grew to 670 ships and 50,000 sailors by mid-1964. The Confederate Navy had 130 warships and 4,000 men at its largest.

Dramatic events such as battles and shore bombardments were the exception to the rule for sailors, according to the book Life in Civil War America:

“Sailors spent the majority of their time performing routine duties or combating the effects of tedium. Running a ship required constant if monotonous activity; unlike soldiers, seamen tended not to have much idle time on their hands. An exception to this was, of course, Union soldiers on board blockading ships, who often complained of boredom in journals and letters.”

You’ll use different resources to trace a Civil War sailor than you would if researching a soldier. Start with the resources in this free FamilyTreeMagazine.com article on tracing Union and Confederate sailors.

Related Products

2 Comments

Leave a Reply

ALL COMMENTS

  1. Hello I read your interesting article (Victory at Sea" and noted the reference to the following book "Hamersley, Lewis R. General Register of the United States Navy and Marine Corps, 1792" I have been unable to locate a copy of this book anywhere but in the National Archives and have not found for sale on various books stores. Is anyone aware of other copies held in the USA. Anne from OZ