Model 1860 US Navy Cutlass - Inventory Number: SWO 085
Guard is marked USS Shenandoah. Manufactured by Ames of Chicopee, Massachusetts, dated 1864. With original leather scabbard, scabbard is riveted and has a weak spot in the center. Marked "Ames MFG Co Chicope Mass." on one side of the blade, and "U.S.N. D. 1864" on the other. Brass guard very good with "USS Shenandoah on the outboard edge. Cup and pommel very good, with nice patina.
The first USS Shenandoah was a wooden screw sloop of the United States Navy. Shenandoah was built by the Philadelphia Navy Yard and launched on 8 December 1862. She was sponsored by Miss Selina Pascoe; and was commissioned on 20 June 1863, Captain Daniel B. Ridgeley in command.
Shenandoah departed Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on the 25th, keeping a sharp lookout for Confederate raider, CSS Tacony, as she made her trial run to Boston to fill out her complement. On 11 July, she sailed in search of Confederate raider, Florida, cruised off George's and Nantucket shoals, thence preceded toward Block Island and Cape Sable. She returned to Boston on 27 July and spent from 4 August to 8 September in the Philadelphia Navy Yard. On 12 September, she arrived off New Inlet, North Carolina, to join the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron.
Shenandoah spent the greater part of the next fifteen months patrolling off Wilmington, North Carolina and searching on the blockade runner routes between Nassau and Wilmington. This cruising took her as far as Key West, Florida, and to the Bahamas and Bermuda. During a four-hour chase on 30 July 1864, she fired heavily into Confederate blockade runner, Lilian, which escaped in the darkness to the safety of Cape Lookout shoals. At daylight of 7 August, blockade runner, Falcon, narrowly escaped Shenandoah and USS Santiago de Cuba by throwing cotton overboard to lighten load and then out sailing her pursuers in the direction of Cuba.
The Battle of Fort Fisher:
Shenandoah reached Green Bay in the Bahamas on 13 December 1864 to investigate reports that Confederate privateers were being fitted out there to prey on Union commerce. Finding no trace of such activity, she hurried north to join the great Federal Fleet poised on the coast of North Carolina for the attack on Fort Fisher which protected Wilmington, North Carolina. On Christmas Eve, she closed to within 1,500 yards of the shore to bombard the works of Fort Fisher with all guns that could be brought to bear. In little more than an hour, the Confederate fort had been silenced, two of its magazines had been blown up, and the fort set afire in several places. The bombardment was kept up with good effect until after nightfall.
One shot from the Confederates carried away Shenandoah's stern ladder. She renewed the action with other ships of the fleet on Christmas morning to cover the landing of about 3,000 Army troops. Her deliberate and well directed fire silenced a four-gun battery to the west of Fort Fisher. She then turned her attention to a two-gun casemated battery. One shell from this battery fell a few yards short, and another passed over Shenandoah which retaliated by exploding a 150-pounder rifle shell near the top of the mound.
Nevertheless, the amphibious assault failed to capture the fort and the Union troops re-embarked during the night, save for about 1,000 soldiers who found themselves stranded on the beach by heavy surf. These were safely returned to their transports during the following two days as Shenandoah patrolled off New Inlet.
The amphibious assault on Fort Fisher was renewed on 13 January 1865. Shenandoah's boats assisted in the landing of about 8,000 Army troops under cover of a severe bombardment. The next day, she joined the fleet in a quick fire on the face of the works which lasted from 1300 till well after dark. That day, 1,600 sailors and 400 marines were detached from various shins to join the Army troops in the assault. Fifty-four sailors and fourteen marines under Lieutenant Smith W. Nichols, armed with cutlasses and revolvers, were landed from Shenandoah. The furious bombardment support continued until 1500 on 15 January 1865. By this time, the sailors and marines were entrenched within 200 yards of the fort and ready for the final assault. The ships now shifted their fire to the upper batteries as troops and sailors dashed toward the top of the parapet.
The advancing sailors and marines were swept by concentrated Confederate gunfire; but Army troops, who had gained the highest parapet to the rear, opened with a volley of musketry to save them. Now the fighting progressed through seventeen immense bomb-proof traverses until the Confederates were finally forced to the end of Federal Point. Finding themselves hopelessly surrounded, the Confederate remnants surrendered, and Fort Fisher fell to the largest amphibious operation in American history prior to World War II.
Shenandoah's landing force returned with six wounded and five missing in action. Lt. Nichols reported: "Each and all deserve the highest commendation for their coolness and courage under the most trying circumstances, and fully sustained the hard-earned reputation of the American sailor..."
After Fort Fisher was captured, Shenandoah spent a few days carrying wounded men from transports to shore hospitals. She then joined in the final days of the Union siege of Charleston which fell on 17 February. She returned to the Philadelphia Navy Yard on 15 March and was decommissioned there on 15 April.
Officers of Shenandoah, Civil War :
Captain, Daniel B. Ridgely
Lieutenant, Smith W. Nichols
Surgeon, James McMaster
Acting Assistant Paymaster, C. M. Guild
Acting Master, John S. Watson
Acting Master, W. H. Brice
Acting Master, Joseph A. Bullar
Ensign, Yates Sterling
Ensign, J. H. Sands
Acting Master’s Mate, L. H. White
Acting Master’s Mate, Thomas H. Wheeler
Acting Master’s Mate, T. D. Wendell
Engineers: Acting Chief; Nelson Winans
Second Assistant, E. A. Magee
Acting Second Assistant, James S. Kelleper
Third Assistant, D. M. Fulmer
Third Assistant, F. W. Towner
Third Assistant, Wm. Bond
Boatswain, James H. Polly
Gunner, George Edmond
Inventory Number: SWO 085