Skip to main content
Go to accessibility notice

    Description

    [Civil War]. Richard H. Greene Naval Blockade Archive. Comprised of twenty-three letters, telegrams, and pay orders spanning the years 1863 through 1864 with over 100 additional documents dating before, during, and after the war. Richard H. Greene was a young medical student finishing up his studies at the New Hampshire Medical Institution during the latter half of 1863. Harboring dreams of joining the Federal Navy as a potential career path, he made application to the Secretary of the Navy for an appointment which was accepted. In a letter dated November 3, 1863, he wrote to his fiancée, Charlotte, regarding his future: "I graduated safely and during the past week I have been here [Boston] before the Navy Board...and have been appointed Ass. Surgeon U.S.N." He was ordered aboard the USS Ohio to await orders which he received on November 29: "I have been ordered here as surgeon of the U.S.S. State of Georgia...and shall sail in about a week."

    The Georgia was ordered south on blockade duty near Beaufort, North Carolina, and within two months there is an outbreak of smallpox: "We have not been able to communicate with shore for the small pox has been on board. The a [sic] large part of the crew are sick. We have been ordered home...I hope I have not taken the disease and that I may be spared to see you again." He manages to escape the disease, but life on blockade duty is anything but easy.

    Writing to "Lottie" on February 13, 1864, he says: "Since we have been here we have had several chases but have not succeeded in making any captures. A great many rebel ships get in and out here for on our side at least we have only three or four ships. The department probably think there are more, but as some are out cruising and others off coaling, only the above number are here on an average. Three or four ships guarding ten of fifteen miles of coast are not much on a dark night so they dash in and out without much difficulty. If we should even see them it is very hard to hit them with a shot as they are going at full speed and by time we get under way they are well out of our way...So we lie from day to day pitching upon the waves with only an occasional brush with the enemy to break our quiet."

    As ships would run low on coal, they must constantly rotate so as to keep fully fueled ships out at sea guarding the coast. While docked at Norfolk, Virginia, on one such reloading stop, he describes to Lottie the things he has seen: "I have had a good view of many places and scenes famous in history; Fort Monroe, Hampton Roads...the scene of the fight between the Monitor and Merrimack and various rebel batteries erected to hold our forces in check...we passed the wreck of the Merrimack. Also those of the ships of war that she sunk in her famous attack..." He goes on to describe an incident in which one of the captains, incensed by a rebel ship that got passed the blockade and reached the shore, got "...very drunk and without orders swore he would run in and destroy the vessel....We ran in and began at them and the fort and batteries for a mile along the beach...The shells flew over us and on all sides but we were not damaged...It was really wonderful that in the midst of such hail we were not struck." On May 21, the Georgia was back out at sea having "...exciting times on the blockade...the rams have been out and fired at the fleet and we peppered away at them...I cannot conceive what the gov. can be about in not sending iron vessels down here suited to cope with such powerful enemies. I can assure you the rebs are vigorous and brave and not so wanting in means as many would make out. The slaughter in the late battles is beyond your conception."

    Not all of Dr. Greene's news concerned naval activities as in a letter dated March 6, 1864, regarding the recent Confederate attack on New Bern, North Carolina, where he exclaims that "...nothing but an accident saved it...The whole expedition started from Wilmington under the command of Maj General Pickett; midway...the party was divided; one part...was to go northwest towards Newbern direct, the other...was to go to Newport and...capture the rail road...After tearing up the track, burning our stores, blockhouses, etc, Col Lamb was to join Pickett and thus make a combined attack on the place...Pickett...drove in our pickets...and got within a mile of the town and halted but could hear nothing from Lamb. Fearing he had been taken or driven back...he fell back. Col Lamb had not been driven back...He defeated our troops and captured all their cannons, fortifications, stores and sent word on to Pickett. To his dismay he leaned that he had fallen back in haste and ...nothing remained but for him to make good his retreat. Thus the whole thing failed from accident." A year later he writes again that "Active operations are going on and Grant is steadily gaining ground. Butler's movement in the rear of Richmond was very disastrous. Beauregard completely out maneuvered him, cut him all to pieces...Butler was sent to keep off Beauregard cut off all communications from the south...and in case Lee was defeated prevent him from retreating..." and later, "If Grant hold Lee and eventually defeat him Sherman will look out for the others. We may conquer by arms but their hatred towards us can hardly be expressed..."

    By September 1864, Greene is "...getting pretty well tired of naval life and if I do not get home this time, I shall in all probability retire...," but by October 26 he is heading back out on blockade duty. Again on December 6, he expresses his frustration: "There is nothing new that I know of, there is the same routine of naval life. I am getting heartily tired of it..."

    This is a fantastic archive loaded with information and the intimate details of life in the United States Navy during the turbulent years of the Civil War.


    Shipping, Taxes, Terms and Bidding
    Calculate Standard Domestic Shipping

    Sales Tax information  |  Terms and Conditions

    Bidding Guidelines and Bid Increments

    Glossary of Terms

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    April, 2013
    11th Thursday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 0
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 371

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    19.5% of the successful bid (minimum $14) per lot.

    Sold for: Sign-in or Join (free & quick)

    Heritage membership

    Join Now - It's Free

    VIEW BENEFITS
    1. Past Auction Values (prices, photos, full descriptions, etc.)
    2. Bid online
    3. Free Collector newsletter
    4. Want List with instant e-mail notifications
    5. Reduced auction commissions when you resell your
      winnings 
    Consign now
    • Cash Advances
    • More Bidders
    • Trusted Experts
    • Over 200,000 Satisfied Consignors Since 1976
    Consign to the 2019 April 28 Luxury Accessories Signature Auction - Dallas.

    Learn about consigning with us

    I don’t often do testimonials but in this case I felt truly obligated to thank Heritage Auctions for the extremely professional job your organization did for me.
    Charlie K.,
    Pittsburgh, PA
    View More Testimonials

    HA.com receives more traffic than any other auction house website. (Source: Similarweb.com)

    Video tutorial

    Getting the most out of search

    Recent auctions

    2018 November 10-11 The David and Janice Frent Collection of Presidential & Political Americana, Part IV - Dallas
    2018 November 10-11 The David and Janice Frent Collection of Presidential & Political Americana, Part IV - Dallas
    REALIZED SO FAR $656,222