Monday, May 1, 2017

Another Civil War Gunboat on the Teche: The U.S.S. Glide, aka Federal Gunboat No. 43

It is well-known that during the Civil War several Union and Confederate gunboats were active on Bayou Teche. These gunboats were the USS Calhoun, USS Estrella, USS Kinsman, USS Clifton, USS Diana (later captured by Rebels and rechristened the CSS Diana), and CSS Cotton. Also present on the Teche was the CSS Stevens (formerly the Hart), which the Rebels scuttled on the bayou between New Iberia and Jeanerette before completion. (See the chapter titled "The Teche during Wartime" in my book Teche: A History of Louisiana's Most Famous Bayou [2016].)

Recently, however, R. C. Sealy of Lafayette sent me a typewritten transcript of a document apparently from the St. Mary Parish Courthouse indicating the presence of yet another gunboat on Bayou Teche — the USS Glide, referred to in the document by its more prosaic name, Federal Gunboat No. 43.


The U.S.S. Glide off Brashear City
(Morgan City), La.,January 1864.
Source: U.S. Naval Historical Center, photo NH 102732,
per Wikipedia.org (Click to enlarge)

The document in question, authorized by St. Mary Parish Justice of the Peace Barthelmy d'Aquesseau Delahoussaye and St. Mary Parish Clerk of Court Charles Kerr, contains the March 19, 1864, testimony of F. Beaullieu [pron. BOWL-LYOE], agent of George Sallinger of Jeanerette. Beaullieu described himself as “a Frenchman by birth, [who] is disinterested in the matter of the loss of said property.” 

Corroborated by local residents Jules Basille and Pierre Cerf, “both subjects of the French Empire,” Beaullieu recorded that: 
[O]n the night of the 17th of March instant [i.e., that very month] 1864, some person or persons concealed in or near the old warehouse of one Florenz Hamm, late of Jeanerette, . . . fired into the Federal Gun Boat No. 43 as she passed opposite Jeanerette; that said gunboat was on its way to New Iberia; and that when said gunboat returned from New Iberia on the 19th day of March 1864 she landed on the same bank of said bayou [that the gunfire came from], and the officers of the boat under protection of a company of soldiers from on board of said boat sat fire [sic] willingly and deliberately to the house of Mr. George Sallinger, which was consumed to ashes in a few hours, also [with] several other extensive buildings belonging to said Sallinger, to-wit: a large coopers shop eighty feet long by thirty feet wide with double brick chimney; a large warehouse where he kept his barrels, one hundred feet long by thirty wide; another warehouse 50 feet long by 25 feet wide where he kept his hoops and other materials for making barrels; a small house in yard 25 feet long by 15 or 16 feet wide, well finished and in good order; one small kitchen; chicken houses; hen coops; a large quantity of fencing pickets around his premises, 500 to 800 in number; a good mahogany bedstead; a large quantity of cooper's tools, enough to employ 15 to 18 workmen as he generally did; a very large quantity of hoop poles, staves, headings, etc., together with his fruit trees, etc., etc.
Beaullieu added that "he intervened to prevent the Federals from setting the property on fire, but that he was told that the [gun] firing had come from the house of said Sallinger, that they had orders to set it on fire, which they did, and the property was consumed. . . ."

The Washington, D.C., newspaper The Evening appears to refer to this event in a brief article of April 1, 1864, about two weeks after the above incident. Offering a slightly different version of events, The Evening observed, “Rebel guerrillas, at Provost['s] Landing, on the Teche river, fired into one of our gunboats, but fled after a well-directed discharge of grape [shot]. The crew landed and burnt the buildings in the place.” (Provost's Landing, named for the local landowning Provost [pron. PRO-VOE] family, sat on the bayou just upstream from Jeanerette's upper limit at the time.)


Source: Washington, D.C., Evening Star, 1 April 1864, p. 2.

Another newspaper, the New Albany Daily Ledger of Indiana, contained a few more details about the incident. It observed, "A few days ago a company of guerrillas fired into one of our gunboats on the Teche, mistaking the vessel for an unarmed transport steamer. . . . The rebels were concealed in some underbrush, into which a broadside of grape was discharged. The rebels fled on discovering the mistake they had made, taking the killed and wounded, if there were any, along with them. . . . A boat's crew was landed from the gunboat, and the building near the place burned." 


A more detailed account
in the New Albany (Indiana) Daily Ledger,
4 April 1864, p. 1.

(The Daily Ledger identified Provost's Landing as sitting "about twelve miles from Franklin" — which is indeed the approximate linear distance between Franklin and Jeanerette. I asked Mr. Sealy, however, if he knew exactly where along Bayou Teche in Jeanerette the torched structures stood. He matter-of-factly replied “On Cooper Street” — which would make sense.)


Location of the burned cooperage and dwelling
according to Mr. Sealy. Source: Google Maps
(Click to enlarge)

According to the online Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships, maintained by the U.S. Navy's Naval History and Heritage Command, the Glide

was a wooden sidewheeler built at Murraysville, Va., in 1863 and purchased 30 November 1863 at Pittsburgh, Pa., by Rear Admiral Porter. She was converted to Navy use and sent to New Orleans for duty with the Western Gulf Blockading Squadron, Acting Ens. L. S. Fickett in command. . . . From March 1864 to August 1865, Glide served as a blockading ship in Berwick Bay, La. During this period she made numerous short expeditions in the bayous surrounding the bay, suppressing guerrilla activity and capturing small blockade runners. 

Furthermore, the Glide is known to have carried two 32-pounder cannons and four 24-pounder howitzers. 

On August 1, 1865, she was sold in New Orleans at public auction to a buyer named J. W. Young, who used her as a merchant vessel. On January 1, 1869, an explosion destroyed the Glide near New Orleans. As the Louisiana Democrat newspaper reported at the time, “[A]bout forty-nine miles above the city [of New Orleans], she ran aground, and shortly afterwards, between 12 and 1 o'clock, exploded her laboard [port or left-side] boiler, destroying almost every part of the boat" and scalding many of the passengers and crew, some of whom died from their injuries. 


Source: The New Orleans Crescent,
14 January 1869, p. 1.
(Click to enlarge)

Notes

I thank Mr. R. C. Sealy for sharing the document with me that inspired this article. Mr. Sealy informed me that someone gave the document to his wife because she was a descendant of Beaullieu. 

I have corrected and standardized spelling and punctuation in all quoted primary-source material. 

The USS Glide should not be confused with another USS Glide built in 1862 in Shousetown, Pennsylvania, and which also served as a Civil War gunboat.

Addendum of 11 February 2018:

Nancy Lees found this article, which was reprinted in a New York Times issue of 20 July 1865 (shortly after the Civil War's conclusion). It documents the presence on Bayou Teche of yet another gunboat, the USS Carrabassett. The article reads:


FROM WEST LOUISIANA. 

From the [New Orleans] True Delta, July 11 [1865]. 

The gunboat Carrabassett, six guns, arrived at this port on Thursday evening, from a fifteen months' cruise in the waters of West Louisiana. During her eventful, and at times trying, voyage, she passed through nearly all the bayous, creeks and streams of that portion of our State, at times penetrating to points never before reached by a steamer. 

The report of her operations shows that the Carrabassett has rendered excellent service in the way of capturing arms, ammunition, horses, &c. [etc.]; but her principal service has been in preventing and breaking up the contraband trade which was carried on previous to the removal of trade restrictions, and in this service her efforts proved very successful. 

A month or so ago, information having been sent to the officers of the boat, she proceeded up the Teche Bayou to St. Martinsville, where a large quantity of machinery, belonging to the light-houses on the coast, was found and taken possession of. These light-houses were dismantled some time since by order of Gen. LOVELL, and the fixtures, which are of a very superior description, were taken to St. Martinsville and secreted. The recovery of them comes at a most opportune moment, and will be a saving to the government of about $30,000. The Carrabassett was the first Union gunboat that ever visited St. Martinsville, and was an object of great curiosity to the people. Hundreds of ladies and gentlemen visited the vessel during her stay, and many friendships sprang up between them and the officers. 

The last duty performed by the Carrabassett was convoying transports and carrying troops to Washington [the town in Louisiana] and other points on Bayou Courtableau and Teche. This gave her officers a fine opportunity to see the country and converse with the people, all of whom seemed anxious that the authorities should send a provost-guard at once. The well-known guerrilla, BAILEY VINCENT, has a gang of about a dozen men, who commit the most outrageous acts. The citizens of Franklin have joined with the Federal soldiers in several attempts to capture them, but have failed thus far. This band has several times entered the town of Franklin, robbed the stores, shot into houses, and committed other dastardly acts. When the Carrabassett left Brashear City [now Morgan City] on the morning of the 4th inst., a guard had not occupied Franklin; but, at the earnest solicitation of the citizens, a guard of the Third Rhode Island Cavalry was ordered to leave Brashear for that point on the same day. 

The wrecks of the gunboats Cotton, Diana, Hart and several others, destroyed some two years ago, are still in the Teche, and greatly impede the navigation of that stream. The bridges across this bayou are also destroyed, and the wrecks float about in the water. 

Many of the plantations are in excellent order, with crops in good condition and plenty of laborers. Others are deserted by both proprietors and hands, and are all in ruins. The gunboats in this section are invariably welcomed with demonstrations of joy, as bringing protection from the acts of lawless persons.

SOURCES 

"Another Steamboat Disaster," The Louisiana Democrat, 20 January 1869, p. 3. 

"Battle at Natchitoches, Louisiana — Another Success of the Red River Expedition," New Albany (Indiana) Daily Ledger, 4 April 1864, p. 1.

"From West Louisiana," New York Times, 20 July 1865, p. 2, http://www.nytimes.com/1865/07/20/archives/from-west-louisiana.html, accessed 11 February 2018.

"Glide II (StwStr)," Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships, 13 July 2015, https://www.history.navy.mil/research/histories/ship-histories/danfs/g/glide-ii.html, accessed 1 May 2017.

Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Series II, Volume 1: Statistical Data of Union and Confederate Ships; Muster Roles of Confederate Government Vessels (Washington, D.C. : U.S. Government Printing Office, 1921), p. 96. 

Routh Trowbridge Wilby, Clearing Bayou Teche after the Civil War: The Kingsbury Project, 1870–1871 (Lafayette: Center for Louisiana Studies, University of Southwestern Louisiana, 1991), 28, 30.

Testimony of F. Beaullieu, State of Louisiana, Parish of St. Mary, 19 March 1864, typewritten transcript, 2 pp., photocopy in possession of R. C. Sealy, Lafayette, La.

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