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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
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
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