Wednesday, June 28, 2017

John A. Andrew to Gideon Welles, July 1, 1863

Commonwealth Of Massachusetts,
Executive Department, Boston, July 1, 1863.

Sir: I am receiving representations daily, both oral and written, from towns and cities along the Massachusetts coast, setting forth their defenseless condition, concerning which the recent exploits of the Tacony have caused additional apprehension.

A swift war steamer stationed at Provincetown would, in my opinion, be the most effectual means under existing circumstances to promote their security. Without such a guard for the coast, a rebel vessel, manned by as daring a crew as that of the Tacony, might burn half the towns along Cape Cod, and might even lay, for a few hours such ports as Salem, Marblehead, Beverly, Gloucester, Rockport, and Newburyport, under contribution, none of which are defended by a single gun. Such a steamer as the Alabama or the Florida could, I believe, do this without so great risk as such an enterprise ought to involve. The ignorance of the rebels as to our defenseless condition is our most effectual protection in the absence of action by the Navy Department. For the present moment the Navy has cruisers all along this coast, but they are only temporarily here, and were not sent until the Tacony had rioted along the Vineyard Sound for four days. The presence of a swift war steamer at Provincetown, or in its neighborhood, guarding from that position both the mouths of Massachusetts Bay and of the Vineyard Sound, would probably have prevented the Tacony from venturing here at all.

I have had the honor previously to address this same request to the Department. I beg you to believe that it is only my clear sense of its importance which induces me to urge it again upon your consideration.

I have the honor to remain, sir, obediently, yours,
John A. Andrew,
Governor of Massachusetts.
Hon. Gideon Welles,
Secretary of the Navy.

SOURCE: Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebelion, Series I, Volume 2, p. 340

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