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Aquia Creek - May/June 1861

Action at Acquia Creek between United States Vessels and Rebel Batteries

Sketched by Lieutenant Cash during the Action

Harper's Weekly Journal of Civilization dated June 22, 1861

Confederate Commander

Colonel Daniel Ruggles

Aquia Creek

May 1861

Stafford County, Virginia


Union Commander

Commander James H. Ward

Forces Engaged: 700-1000

Killed: 0

Wounded: 1

Captured or Missing: 0

Total: 1

Blockade of the Chesapeake Bay (May-June 1861)

American Battlefield Protection Program

Forces Engaged: 315

Killed: 0

Wounded: 0

Captured or Missing: 0

Total: 0

Confederate Officers

Brig. Gen. R. Garnett

Col. Turner Ashby

Confederate Order of Battle

Confederate Official Records

Col. Daniel Ruggles

Commander, Department of Fredericksburg

Col. William Bate

Commander, Walker Legion

M. W. Cluskey

Union Officers




Union Order of Battle

Union Official Records

USS Pawnee


USS Anacostia


USS Thomas Freeman

          After the Union forces destroyed most of the ships at the Gosport Naval Yard, the Union Navy was only stronger on paper. With this in mind, Commander Ward “suggested the creation of a flying flotilla”. The flotilla consisted of three warships with some transports.

          On May 30th, two small steamers approached the battery and fired 14 shots. The Confederate battery returned fire with 12 shots.

          On June 1st, three warships under the command of Cdr. Ward approached the Aquia Creek batteries. The ships were the USS Pawnee (181 men), USS Anacostia (67 men) and the USS Thomas Freeman (approx. 70 men). During the barrage, Colonel Ruggles reported the Union ships fired 597 shots. The battery returned fire with 97 shots. However, these shots had some effect by knocking the colors off the enemy ships.

          As the firing ceased during the evening, the USS Pawnee retreated to the Maryland side of the river. The USS Anacostia proceeded up the river, presumably to resupply with ammunition. Colonel Ruggles reported there was only one Confederate soldier wounded with a wound from shrapnel.


John M. Coski. A Navy Department, Hitherto Unknown to Our State Organization. Virginia at War 1861. Eds William C. Davis

          and James I Robertson Jr. Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 2005. 78

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