PIECE OF THE CONFEDERATE WARSHIP “CSS PATRICK HENRY” COLLECTED BY A 40TH MASSACHUSETTS SOLDIER, JOSEPH NEWHALL

$550.00 SOLD

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Item Code: 846-524

This very interesting relic consists of a section of old stock measuring approx. 6.00 x 4.00 inches with a period ink inscription that reads “PIECE OF THE REBEL RAM PATRICK HENRY.”

Below the inscription is a 1.25 inch square piece of copper sewn to the tag and flanked by the name “JOSEPH NEWHALL.”

When Richmond fell the hulk of the “CSS PATRICK HENRY” was lying in the James River near Fort Darling. Newhall was with the 40th Mass who spent a few months camped in Richmond before being mustered out. It must have been at that time Newhall snatched this relic from the hulk of the ship.

The “CSS PATRICK HENRY” was built in New York City in 1859 by the renowned William H. Webb for the Old Dominion Steam Ship Line as the civilian steamer “YORKTOWN”, a brigantine-rigged side-wheel steamer. She carried passengers and freight between Richmond, Virginia and New York City. “YORKTOWN” was anchored in the James River when Virginia seceded from the Union on 17 April 1861 and was seized by the Virginia Navy and later turned over to the Confederate Navy on 8 June 1861.

Commander John Randolph Tucker, who commanded the ship, directed that “YORKTOWN” be converted into a gunboat and renamed “CSS PATRICK HENRY” in honor of Patrick Henry, the revolutionary patriot and Founding Father. She also served as the first flagship of the James River Squadron.

“CSS PATRICK HENRY” was assigned to a position near Mulberry Island in the James River to protect the right flank of the Confederate Army of the Peninsula.

On 13 September 1861 and again on 2 December, Commander Tucker took her down the river to a point just above Newport News, and opened fire on the Federal squadron at long range hoping to draw out some of the gunboats. The gambit was refused, but Tucker inflicted some minor damage.

During the Battle of Hampton Roads on 8 March 1862 in which “CSS VIRGINIA” destroyed the Federal warships “USS CUMBERLAND” and USS CONGRESS”, the “PATRICK HENRY” attempted to take the latter's surrender but was fired upon by shore batteries, and took a shell in her steam chest that killed four men. Towed out of action long enough to make repairs, she soon resumed her former position.

During the historic 9 March 1862 action between “CSS VIRGINIA” and “USS MONITOR”, the “PATRICK HENRY” fired long range at “MONITOR”. The Confederate Congress later accorded special thanks to all officers and men for their gallant conduct during the two-day battle.

 

After the surrender of Norfolk, Virginia on 10 May 1862, the James River Squadron retired up the river to Drewry's Bluff where pursuing Federal ships were repulsed on 15 May.

“CSS PATRICK HENRY” was designated an academy ship in May 1862 and underwent appropriate alterations. In October 1863, she housed the floating Confederate States Naval Academy at Drewry's Bluff, where instruction for 52 midshipmen began.

When Richmond was evacuated on 3 April 1865, the ship was burned to prevent capture.

Joseph Newhall was born in Saugus, Massachusetts on July 7, 1835. He enlisted as a private in Company A, 40th Massachusetts Infantry on August 5, 1862 and was later promoted to corporal. He was mustered out at Richmond, Virginia on June 16, 1865.

During his time with the 40th it was present for Siege of Suffolk, Fort Wagner, Olustee, Drewry’s Bluff, Cold Harbor, Petersburg and the fall of Richmond. The regiment lost 5 officers and 192 men killed, died of wounds and disease.

After the war Newhall returned to Saugus where he was active in Democratic politics and an active member of the GAR rising to Commander of the General E. W. Hincks Post #95 in Saugus.

Newhall died at age 99 on January 9, 1935.    [ad] [PH:L]

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