Saturday, September 14, 2019

A True Old Salt - Admiral Stephen Platt Quackenbush

It always amazes me that the Quackenbush family is so deeply embedded in the beginnings of this great country. A Quackenbush has been in every conflict or war since the French and Indian War. Several were members of the "Liberty Boys" or "Sons of Liberty”. Many more have served in various branches of service with distinction. Such is the case of Stephen Platt Quackenbush.

His first cruise was around the world on the USS Boston (1825), a sloop of war. The fourth USS Boston, it was an 18-gun sloop of war, launched on 15 October 1825 by the Boston Navy Yard and commissioned the following year. Stephen served aboard the Boston from 1844 – 1846.

Stephen's second ship was the USS Albany (1846), also a sloop of war. 1846-1850, The Albany(1846), The first ship with this name, was laid down at the New York Navy Yard sometime in 1843; launched on 27 June 1846; and commissioned on 6 November 1846, Captain Samuel Livingston Breese in command. Stephen must have joined the ship's company at or shortly after its commissioning. He served aboard the Albany from 1846 - 1850.

Stephen's next ship was a Sail Frigate name USS Congress. He served on the Congress from 1855 - 1861. He was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant in 1855. On 19 June 1855, Congress sailed for the Mediterranean and there followed two years as flagship of Cmdre. Samuel Livingston Breese. Sailing from Spezia, Italy on 26 November 1857, she arrived at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on 13 January 1858, and was placed out of commission.

In 1859, Congress was reassigned as flagship of Cmdre. Joshua R. Sands and the Brazil Squadron,
remaining in that area until the Civil War precipitated her return to Boston, Massachusetts on 22 August 1861.

In 1861-1862 he was in charge of the navy-yard at Pensacola, Florida.

With the outbreak of the Civil War, Stephen was was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Commander and actively engaged in commanding the USS Delaware, USS Unadilla, USS Pequot, USS Mingo, and USS Patapsco.

USS Delaware (1861)

USS Delaware (1861) was a steamer acquired by the Union Navy for use during the American Civil War. It was the fourth ship to be named Delaware by the Navy. was to sink or capture Confederate ships, and to bombard forts and other military installations. Assigned to the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron, Delaware went up the James River on 26 December on patrol. In January 1862, she sailed for Hatteras Inlet, North Carolina as part of General Burnside's expedition against Confederate forces in the North Carolina sounds. Delaware took part in the capture of Roanoke Island in February, and she took part in the attack on Elizabeth City, North Carolina, where she shared in the capture or destruction of five Confederate gunboats and two schooners. Also in February, Delaware and seven other gunboats made a reconnaissance up the Chowan River. The mission was to destroy two railroad bridges above the town of Winton. During this mission she was nearly ambushed at the town wharf by a force of Confederate soldiers and artillery hiding among the brush near the dock.

The ambush was spotted in time to sheer off. The ships superstructure was severely shot up by rifle fire, but artillery overshot its mark. After sheering off from the dock Delaware returned fire and dispersed the Confederate militia. The next day, Delaware and the other gunboats returned to Winton and finding it deserted, the town was burned, In March, Delaware participated in the capture of New Bern, and captured four vessels.

His services in the sounds of North Carolina were recognized and appreciated by Flag Officer Goldsborough and General Burnside and also by Vice Admiral Rowan, whose flag he carried on board the Delaware, which Quackenbush, then Lieutenant Commander commanded in the battle of Roanoke Island, Elizabeth City and New Berne.

The USS Unadilla was a Unadilla-class gunboat built for service with the United States Navy during the American Civil War. She was the lead ship in her class and was used to patrol navigable waterways of the Confederacy to prevent the South from trading with other countries. The Unadilla joined the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron participated in the capture of Fort Walker and Fort Beauregard in Port Royal Sound, South Carolina. During the attack,the gunboat was struck six times but suffered no casualties and sustained only minor damage. Control of Port Royal Sound enabled the Union Navy to coordinate the blockade of the southern Atlantic seacoast more effectively for the duration of the war.

In January 1862, Unadilla joined Pembina on patrol in Wright's River, South Carolina. The gunboats fired on and drove back two Confederate steamers attempting to reach Ft. Pulaski, Georgia, and damaged three others.

USS Patapsco (1862)

The USS Patapsco was a Passaic-class ironclad monitor. She was named for the Patapsco River in Maryland. Assigned to the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron, she took part in a bombardment of Fort McAllister in March. In April, Patapsco joined eight other ironclads in a vigorous attack on Fort Sumter, and received 47 hits from Confederate gunfire during that day.

Beginning in mid-July, she began her participation in a lengthy bombardment campaign against Charleston's defending fortifications. This led to the capture of Fort Wagner in early September. Fort Sumter was reduced to a pile of rubble, but remained a formidable opponent.

On 14 January 1865, while participating in obstruction clearance operations in Charleston

Harbor, Patapsco struck a Confederate mine and sank in 20 seconds, with heavy loss of life. Out of a crew of 104, 61 men were lost and 7 officers out of 12.

USS Mingo (1862)

The USS Mingo, a stern-wheel steamer built at California, Pennsylvania, in 1859 and used to tow coal barges, was purchased at Pittsburgh by Lt. Col. Charles Ellet for the War Department early in April 1862. She was fitted out as a ram at Pittsburgh and headed down the Ohio River in April to join a fleet of rams which were organizing to counter the Confederate River Defense Fleet. In May the Confederate flotilla made a spirited attack on Union gunboats and mortar schooners at Plum Point Bend, Tennessee, sinking Cincinnati and forcing the Mound City aground. A short time later all but one of the rams had joined the Union flotilla above Fort Pillow ready for action. As the ram fleet and Western Flotilla prepared to attack, General Halleck's capture of Corinth, Mississippi, in May cut the railway lines which supported the Confederate positions at Forts Pillow and Randolph, forcing the South to abandon these river strongholds.

USS Pequot (1863)

The USS Pequot (1863) was a wooden screw gunboat of the Union Navy during the American Civil War. The ship was launched on 4 June 1863 by the Boston Navy Yard; and commissioned there on 15 January 1864, Lt. Comdr. Stephen P. Quackenbush in command. The ship was named for the Pequot Indian tribe resident in Southern Connecticut.

Personal Items Belonging To Stephen P. Quackenbush

The gunboat departed Boston in February 1865 and joined the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron. She captured British blockade runner Don off Beaufort, North Carolina, in March, and helped the Army beat back a Confederate attack on Wilson's Wharf, James River, Virginia, in May. He received a shot that took off his right leg. Blockade duty occupied her until she participated in the first and the second battles on Fort Fisher which protected Wilmington, North Carolina, in February 1864 and January 1865, closing that last major Confederate port. She followed this victory by helping capture Fort Anderson, North Carolina.

With the end of the Civil War military life returned to a more leisurely pace. Lieutenant Commander Stephen Quackenbush was promoted to Commander in 1866, Captain in 1871, Commodore in 1880, and finally Rear Admiral in July 1884. Admiral Stephen Platt Quackenbush was retired in 1885 after 45 years of service.. Admiral Quackenbush was a member of MOLLUS (Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States) installation in the District of Columbia Commandery (Insignia No. 3137) and was awarded Order of the Magellan by the U.S. Navy.

Admiral Stephen Pratt Quackenbush passed away February 3, 1890 at his home in Washington D.C. and was buried at Oak Hill Cemetary, Plot: Stewart, Lot 517 East.

Fair Winds and Following Seas Admiral. Thank you for your service and your sacrifice.


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