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Andrew H. Foote, 1806-1863
Andrew Foote was a career naval officer who had been in the navy for nearly forty years at the outbreak of the American Civil War. Born and raised in Connecticut, Foote attended West Point between June and December 1822. On 4 December 1822 he gained an appointment as an acting midshipman in the United States Navy. His early career included cruises in the Pacific, the West Indies and an around the world cruise. In the early 1840s, when serving as a first lieutenant on the U.S.S. Cumberland in the Mediterranean, he managed to turn that ship dry. Over the next twenty years he campaigned for the abolition of the spirit ration, living long enough to see the success of his campaign in 1862.
Between 1849 and 1851 he commanded the U.S.S. Perry, on the African squadron. Here he had two conflicting duties – first to protect American vessels against British searches, designed to stop the slave trade, and second to stop the slave trade. He was an active opponent of the African slave trade, publishing a book on the subject in 1854 (Africa and the American Flag). Between 1851 and 1856 he was based ashore, taking advantage of that time to campaign against slavery.
Between 1856 and 1858 he was back at see, in command of the U.S.S. Portsmouth, in the Far East. This was the period of the Opium Wars, and although Britain was the main western power involved in fighting in China at the time, the United States was also involved. In November 1856 Foote led an attack on the four barrier forts that defended Canton. With a force of 287 sailors, he defeated the 5,000 strong garrison of the forts, and demolished them.
At the outbreak of the Civil War, Foote was back in the United States, in command of the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Foote was appointed to command naval operations on the upper Mississippi. His area of command also included the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers. He had a difficult command. His first duty was to oversee the creation of a fleet where none had been needed before the war. Once he had a fleet, it came under army command.
Foote arrived at Cairo, on the Mississippi, on 12 September 1861. Work in the river fleet was already underway. James B. Eads had been given a contract to produce seven ironclad rivers boats in August 1861, and the first of them, the St. Louis and Carondolet launched on 12 October.
Their first test would come early in 1862. The army commander at Cairo was now U.S. Grant, and he was keen to test the Confederate defences of the Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers. Foote and Grant came up with a plan to attack Fort Henry on the Tennessee River, and then Fort Donelson on the Cumberland. In January 1862 General Halleck, then overall Union commander in the west, gave his approval for the plan.
The attack on Fort Henry was to be a combined operation. Grant’s troops would be landed several miles downstream of Fort Henry, and attack the fort from the rear, while Foote’s gunboats bombarded the fort from the river. In the event, Grant’s troops made slower progress than expected. On 6 February Foote ran his ironclads into a position from where they could bombard the fort. The commander of the Fort Henry, recognising the hopelessness of his position, evacuated most his men, only leaving the artillery to delay Foote. After a two hour artillery duel, Fort Henry surrendered to Foote.
The attack on Fort Donelson, on the Cumberland River, did not go as well for Foote and his ironclads. Fort Donelson was better located than Fort Henry, high above the river, so its guns would be able to direct a plunging fire onto the more vulnerable decks of the ironclads. This time, Grant and the army arrived first, on 12 February. An attack the next day failed.
On 14 February Foote arrived with the ironclads. At three in the afternoon he took them close to the fort, in preparation to bombard the forts. However, this time he got too close. Effective Confederate gunnery damaged two of the four ironclads (the Louisville and St. Louis) and Foote had to withdraw. The conclusion of the siege was thus left to Grant and the army, who captured it on 16 February. Foote himself suffered minor injuries when the St. Louis was hit.
Foote’s last action came at Island No. 10 on the Mississippi. This strong Confederate position effectively blocked the river to Union troops, Aware that his gunboats were essential for the defence of the upper Mississippi, Foote was more cautious. He engaged in a long range bombardment of the Confederate positions between 17 March and 4 April. This long range bombardment was not very effective, and the army commander facing Island No. 10, General Pope, repeatedly requested that Foote attempted to run an ironclad past the guns. Pope had captured New Madrid on 13 March. This placed his army downstream of Island No. 10, but on the opposite bank of the river. Without naval support he could not risk a crossing of the river.
Foote was opposed to the idea, but the captain of the Carondelet, Henry Walke, was sure that his boat could get past the Confederate guns. At a council of war at the end of March, he convinced Foote to let him try. On the night of 4 April, Walke succeeded in running past the guns of Island No. 10. Three days later, on 7 April, a second gunboat also ran the guns. On the same day Pope was able to cross the river, and force the defenders of Island No. 10 to surrender.
This was Foote’s last battle. His health was poor, and he had not yet fully recovered from the wounds he had suffered at Fort Donelson. Foote requested that he be relieved, and on 9 May 1862 he was replaced by Charles Henry Davis.
On 16 July Foote was promoted to Rear Admiral. He spent the winter of 1862-3 as chief of the bureau of equipment and recruiting. In the summer of 1863 he felt he was fit to return to active service, and was appointed to replaced Admiral Du Pont in command of the fleet outside Charleston. However, on 26 June 1863, while travelling south to take up his new command he died, of Bright’s disease. Foote’s great attribute as a commander was his determination. He was described as fascinating company by his contemporaries and appears to have been popular with his colleagues.
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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC05675 Author/Creator: Foote, Andrew H. (Andrew Hull) (1806-1863) Place Written: New York, New York Type: Book Date: 1854 Pagination: 1 v. : 408 p. : ill. 20.8 x 13 cm.
Signed by Rear Admiral Semmes on the inner front cover. 390 pages of text followed by 18 pages of advertisements. Includes lithographs as illustration. Published by D. Appleton & Co. Discusses Western European and American interests in the African coast.
Foote, an abolitionist, served as an admiral in the United States Navy during the Civil War. Before the war, he commanded the USS Perry, and was active in suppressing the slave trade off of the American Coast.
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Andrew Foote, original name Andrew Hull Foot, (born Sept. 12, 1806, New Haven, Conn., U.S.—died June 26, 1863, New York, N.Y.), American naval officer especially noted for his service during the American Civil War.
The son of a U.S. senator and governor of Connecticut, Foote was appointed a midshipman in the U.S. Navy in 1822. He rose through the ranks, eventually commanding the Perry off the African coast. While in that command he was particularly zealous in apprehending slavers his book, Africa and the American Flag (1854), is considered to have influenced public opinion away from traffic in slaves. In 1856–58 Foote commanded the Portsmouth. Sailing the Asian seas in that capacity, Foote became embroiled in hostilities between England and China and, after being fired upon, led a party of seamen in the destruction of four Cantonese barrier forts.
In August 1861, at the outset of the Civil War, Foote was put in charge of naval defense on the upper Mississippi River. He oversaw the outfitting of a flotilla that included three wooden paddleboats converted into gunboats and 7 newly commissioned ironclad gunboats, as well as a number of smaller and partially armoured gunboats. The following February, he and his command sailed on the Tennessee River to Fort Henry, which he captured easily on February 6, and then (February 12–16) down the Cumberland River to Fort Donelson. There the flotilla was heavily damaged, and Foote sustained injuries. He went on to help capture Island Number Ten (about 55 miles [88 km] below Cairo, Ill.), in the Mississippi, but his injuries and additional ailments soon forced him to relinquish all but nominal command. He was promoted to rear admiral on July 16. In June of the following year he was once again appointed to the command of a squadron of ships, this time near Charleston, but he died before he could take up the position.
This article was most recently revised and updated by Amy Tikkanen, Corrections Manager.
Andrew Hull Foote (The Gunboat Commodore)
Commanded a flotilla of Ironclads. Helped Grant take Forts Henry and Donelson. Young Andrew Foote was eager for the military life. After attending West Point for a short time, he joined the navy as a Midshipman in 1822 at the age of 16. While in the navy, Foote traveled the world including China, Africa, and the South Pacific. He saw action in each location including an anti-slavery patrol that had trouble with restrictive laws (American slavers intercepted by foreign ships had to be released. This required the US Navy to work closely with the British Navy.) When the American Civil War began he was in New York, on more mundane duty in charge of the Brooklyn Navy Yard. In August 1861, at the outset of the Civil War, Foote was put in charge of naval defense on the upper Mississippi River. Quickly Foote was in action.
In August 1861, he was stationed on the upper Mississippi River. Foote was charged with naval defense which included the building and manning of ships, and leading them into action. Even though the fleet was improvised from whatever ships could be converted or built in a hurry, Foote was brilliantly effective in command. His first major operation was the February 1862 attack on Forts Henry and Donelson with U. S. Grant. The plan called for a coordinated attack with both the army and navy, but when Foote arrived at Fort Henry he found the Confederate defenses lacking and he decided to act. With the river in flood, Foote sailed straight into the fort and the Confederates surrendered. Grant moved forward to attack Fort Donelson, but he opened the attack too soon. Foote arrived late and when he finally arrived he went straight into action. During the battle he was wounded in the foot from splinters. While the Confederates repulsed Foote's attack, Fort Donelson eventually fell and Foote received much of the credit. His next action was the attack on Island Number 10 which held a commanding position in the middle of the Mississippi River. During the battle his old wound forced him to move to a shore position. In June 1862, Foote moved to Washington, promoted from commodore to rear admiral and given the Thanks of Congress. His new charge was chief of the Bureau of Equipment and Recruiting. A year later he wangled himself a sea-going appointment: the command the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron. He died in June 1863 before he could take his position in the blockade off Charleston.
DEATH OF REAR-ADMIRRL FOOTE.
The public will not be unprepared to learn of the demise of Rear Admiral ANDREW H. FOOTE. The painful disease under which be has suffered (albuminuria) left no hope of his recovery, and for days his friends have waited, with what resignation they could, for the hour of his departure. He died last night, at half-past 10 oɼlock, at the Astor House, and is now beyond all mortal anguish.
Admiral FOOTE (the final[. ] was added from caprice) was born at Cheshire, New-Haven County, Conn., on the 12th of September, 1806. He was a son of the late Gov. SAMUEL A. FOOT, of Connecticut, who, when a Senator of the United States, introduced the famous Foot resolution from which resulted the memorable debate between DANIEL WEBSTER and ROBERT Y. HAYNE. Young FOOTE entered the navy as a Midshipman in 1[. ]22, and his first cruise was in the schooner Grampus, under Commodore GREGORY, after pirates in the East Indies, six months of his time being passed in open boats as the search for the outlaws was prosecuted. In 1827 he received his appointment as Passed Midshipman, and in 1830 was commissioned a Lieutenant. In 1833 he was Flag Lieutenant of the Mediterranean squadron, and in 1838 he circumnavigated the globe with Com. REED, as First Lieutenant of the sloop-of-war John Adams, participating in an attack on the pirates of Sumatra, and rendering assistance to the American missionaries in Honolulu, who had been persecuted by the French naval commander on that station. He steadily rose in his profession, and was made a commander on the 12th of December, 1852, under which commission he saw about two years and three months' sea service, part of the time on the coast of Africa. In 1856 he commanded the corvette Portsmouth on the China station, and exerted himself in the protection of American property during the hostilities between England and China. Stationed at Canton, he landed a marine force to protect the French and American factories. On returning to his vessel, the Chinese opened fire on him from the Barrier Forts, when he displayed the American flag, but the firing did not cease. Commodore FOOTE at once had an interview with Commodore ARMSTRONG, of the flag-ship San Francisco. (ARMSTRONG was the officer who, in the Spring of 1861, surrendered the Pensacola Navy-yard.) FOOTE wished to "open" on the Chinese forts ARMSTRONG thought he had better negotiate. FOOTE said lead and iron were the best peacemakers. ARMSTRONG finally consented, and FOOTE got under weigh the Portsmouth and Levant, [. ] the latter grounded. FOOTE brought his ship within seven hundred yards of the forts, and opened fire, continuing it until the forts ceased to return his fire. Then he landed forces at two or three points, and went at the forts again. When they surrendered, FOOTE started on a run to get first inside, but Lieut. WATMOUGH, of Philadelphia, being lighter, beat FOOTE, and was ahead of him in entering, but FOOTE was only second in the race.
At the breaking out of the present troubles he was Executive-Officer of the Brooklyn Navy-yard, and soon after the commencement of hostilities was commissioned a Captain in the navy. He was appointed Flag-Officer of the Western flotilla, succeeding Commodore RODGERS, Feb. 4, 1862, and sailed from Cairo with a fleet of seven gunboats, of which four were Iron-clad, to attack Fort Henry, on the Tennessee River. The story of its surrender, and that of Fort Donelson, a week afterward, is fresh in the memory of our readers. At Fort Donelson he was wounded in the ankle by the fragment of a 64-pound shot. Though obliged to move on crutches, he proceeded to besiege Island No. 10, on the capture of which, he applied for and received leave of absence, and left for his home in New-Haven. When restored to health he was appointed Chief of the Bureau of Equipment and recruiting, at Washington, which he held till last July, when he was appointed one of the nine Rear Admirals on the active list.
On Admiral DUPONT's being relieved from his command of the South Atlantic blockading squadron Admiral FOOTE was appointed to succeed him, and came to this city for the purpose of embarking, when he was seized with the severe and painful illness, which has terminated his life.
Admiral FOOTE was distinguished for his devotion to his principles as a consistent Christian and total abstainer from intoxicating drinks, being the first to introduce total abstinence in the navy. Just before leaving for the seat of war on the Western waters he took an active part in religious movements. His noble efforts for his country in the hour of danger, under a destructive fire, and in the face of the enemy, show him to have been as brave as he was good.
He has displayed considerable literary ability in a series of papers on Japan, which country he was among the first to visit. On the vital issue of the country, his patriotic sentiments were well known as strongly opposed to Slavery. Several valuable essays from his pen have appeared against the slave trade, at home and abroad, the result of his faithful services of the coas[. ] of Africa.
Admiral FOOTE was twice married. His first wife was Miss FLAGG, of Cheshire, by whom he had a daughter, now married. His second wife was a Miss AUGUSTA STREET, of New-Haven, by whom he had three sons, two of whom have died within a year. He leaves a widow, a son and daughter.
Andrew H. Foote, 1806-1863 - History
Perhaps because he only served eight months as flag officer of western naval forces in the Civil War before dying in June 1863, Andrew Foote's naval career has been little remarked on, despite his collaboration with Brig. Gen.Ulysses S. Grant in capturing Fort Henry, Fort Donelson, and Island No.10.
But those battle triumphs were only part of the career of a seminal figure in the development of the mid-19th century U.S. Navy.
Sometimes called the Union'ss Stonewall Jackson for his resolute and religious nature, Foote zealously opposed alcohol and flogging, assisted in reforming the Navy’s crippling seniority system and was the foremost opponent of the international slave trade, which he attacked in his 1854 work Africa and the American Flag.
His combat career included patrolling the African station (1849-51), attacking the Chinese barrier forts at Canton in 1856 by personally leading landing parties, and the support of Grant in Kentucky and Tennessee.
The Civil War erupted just as Foote seemed close to being appointed superintendent of the U.S. Naval Academy. His Chinese experience in coastal and river operations may have contributed to the decision by his friend, Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles, to put him in command of Union naval forces on the upper Mississippi.
Riverine warfare was generally not what naval officers dreamed of, but Foote came to regard it as his greatest achievement. Without resources and subject to Army control, in a Navy whose priority was coastal warfare, he created a flotilla of broad, shallow-draft ironclads and mortar boats.
His work with Grant was the model of Army-Navy cooperation. But the strains of the work, coupled with foot and arm wounds caused by shrapnel at Fort Donelson, fatally wore him down.
A few anecdotes from Spencer C. Tucker'ss meticulously researched and highly readable biography, Andrew Foote: Civil War Admiral on Western Waters, (Naval Institute Press, Annapolis MD, 2000) illustrate the type of man Andrew Foote was.
Foote'ss brother, John, recalled their father once telling him,
“I think I have been able to control my family pretty well, all except Andrew - I have never tried to do more than guide him.“
John remembered his brother as
“very genial and good - natured. There was never any cant about him and he seemed to enjoy life and get much out of it.“
Foote longed for a naval career, but the War of 1812 had supplied the U.S. with too many sailors and not enough work. So Foote accepted an appointment to West Point Academy at the age of 16.
Six months later, however, his application to become a midshipman was approved He immediately reported to the schooner Grampus which was headed for the West Indies. His starting salary was $19/month.
At the age of 21, as a midshipman on the Natchez in the Caribbean, Foote experienced a life changing event. Although raised a staunch Congregationalist with forebears who were ministers of the church in Cheshire, Foote had followed his father&rsquos more secular approach to life.
In any case, navy life was not conducive to religious development. Yet, in 1827, Foote experienced an epiphany.
He was standing night watch while the ship was at anchor when a lieutenant, evidently a strong Christian, approached him. Previously the lieutenant had tried to discuss religion with Foote, but Foote&rsquos response to him was that he intended to be honest and honorable in all things and that was all the religion he needed.
On this second occasion, however, he two fell into an extended conversation on a beautiful, clear, moon-lit night.
As soon as his watch was over and he could be alone, Foote fell to his knees in prayer. Over the next several weeks, he spent most of his free time reading his Bible.
One day, as he was climbing the ladder to the deck, he experienced a sense of feeling and purpose that caused him to resolve that in the future, "henceforth, in all circumstances, I will act for God."
Foote wrote his mother to tell her the news, probably because her deep Christian faith had prevented her from approving a naval career for her son. He began the letter,
“Dear Mother, you may discharge your mind from anxiety about your wayward son.“
John related a discussion between Andrew and their father after this cruise, during which Andrew tried to reconcile service to the Almighty with a career dedicated to using force to achieve national goals.
Samuel asked Andrew if he thought a navy was necessary. Andrew replied, Certainly, the seas must be policed. Samuel then asked, Should the navy be in charge of good or bad men?Of good men, Andrew replied, and also declared that his doubts were gone.
During a circumnavigation of the globe, his squadron stayed for three months at Macao. It was there that Foote learned his wife, Caroline, had died unexpectedly more than six months earlier, on Nov. 4, 1838. He was a widow at the age of 32. Andrew gave serious consideration to leaving the navy and entering foreign missionary work.
However, he resolved to continue God's work within the U.S. Navy.In 1841, with his appointment as executive officer of the Naval Asylum, Foote began his lifelong crusade for temperance, which had not particularly concerned him previously.
He told John: Foote agreed with the majority of naval officers that the threat of corporal punishment was necessary to maintain discipline. He ordered the lash used 28 times aboard the Perry before receiving word of its termination.
Yet, this was about half the average number of floggings per ship for the navy in that period. Although initially skeptical, he resolved to give what he referred to as “the experiment“ a fair trial.
Foote continued to believe that liquor was the cause of most of the discipline problems necessitating flogging.
During his African service, a possible slave ship the Martha,was spotted off of Amber. The Martha's captain, believing Andrew's ship to be a Royal Navy vessel, hoisted the American flag. But when the captain recognized the U.S. Naval uniform, he promptly lowered the American flag and raised a Brazilian one. Something was thrown overboard and, upon retrieval, found to be the captain'ss writing desk containing the ship's log and papers identifying the owner of the Martha as an American living in Rio de Janeiro.
Although no slaves were aboard, all the equipment for the dreaded “middle passage“ was in place, including a fully laid slave deck, 176 water casks holding 100 gallons each, 150 barrels of farina, and 400 spoons to keep the human cargo alive during the passage.
Martha'ss captain protested that his ship could not be searched while under the Brazilian flag. Foote replied that he would then seize the ship as a pirate vessel for sailing without papers.Then Martha'ss captain confessed that it was, indeed, a slaver and had expected that same night to take onboard 1,800 slaves and would have been at sea before daybreak.
When praised for the efficiency and hard work of his crew, Foote attributed his success to his methods of discipline and especially to a grog free environment.
Footess crew intercepted another vessel, the Chatsworth, which he was convinced was a slaver. But because insufficient evidence could be found, his superior ordered him to release it.
About a week later, Foote planned a ruse in hopes of catching the Chatsworth in the act of slaving. Once outside of Ambriz, he turned the ship around and headed back.
Again he caught the Chatsworth, and again he could find no evidence of slave running. But, before sailing north, he left behind some men to keep the Chatsworth under surveillance.
When Foote returned to Ambriz two weeks later, his men reported that 4,000 slaves were at the port awaiting shipment. Determined to prevent this, Foote had the Chatsworth seized and, to ensure that charges would stick, secured statements from legitimate traders in the area that the ship had earlier been engaged in slaving activities and that its owner had admitted ordering the ship on another slaving voyage.
After a prolonged trial, the Chatsworth was indeed condemned as a slaver. Foote believed it to be a greater loss to the African slave trade than the loss of the Martha. British naval commissioner Jackson noted that Foote&rsquos captures " at once changed the face of things . from the date of those very opportune captures, not a vessel illicitly assuming American colors was seen."
Added to the the premature loss of his first child, Josephine, and first wife, Caroline Flag, Foote lost all of his three youngest children in 1862 the two daughters, Emily and Maria, died within ten days of each other. His wife did not want him to take another command after his service in the Mississippi Squadron.
She met privately with Secretary Welles to ask that he not be separated from his family. Foote was not pleased when he discovered his wife&rsquos interference. As Welles put it, “he considered it a duty to obey orders of any kind -to go wherever the Department directed or thought he could be most useful.“
In June 1863, Foote wrote Welles that he must postpone taking command of the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron due to poor health. This alarmed Welles, who noted, “It must be real, for he promptly obeys orders.“
Foote planned to leave New York for Port Royal on June 15th, but through mis communication or early departure, the ship left without him. That night, at the Astor House Hotel, he fell ill with Bright&rsquos disease, a painful condition that affected his kidneys and liver.
The doctor who attended him was reluctant to tell Foote that his disease was fatal, because Foote was determined to take Charleston. But Foote took the news calmly and told Dr. Bache he was prepared for death and that he had “had enough with guns and war.“
Foote lingered for several days in the company of his family, dying on the night of June 26th. New Haven gave him an impressive public funeral on June 30th, attended by the governor. Footess wife barely survived him, dying in August. They are buried at Grove Street Cemetery in New Haven.
James Eads designed and constructed the gunboat flotilla Andrew Hull Foote commanded. While on a train to meet with Foote, he found himself sitting behind Judge John Foote, Andrews&rsquos brother. Judge Foote shared with Eads an anecdote of a daughter who was learning to read.
After the capture of Fort Henry the squadron was brought back to Cairo for repairs, and, on the Sunday following, the crews, with their gallant Flag Officer, attended one of the churches in Cairo. Admiral Foote was a thorough Christian gentleman and excellent impromptu speaker.
After the congregation had assembled, some one whispered to him that the minister was ill and would be unable to officiate whereupon the Admiral went up into the pulpit himself, and after the usual prayer and hymn, he selected as the text John xiv.I, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.“
Upon this text he delivered what was declared to be an excellent sermon, [an account of which] was widely published in the papers at the time, and came into the hands of [his] niece.
After she had read it, she exclaimed to her father: “Uncle Foote did not say that right.“ “Say what right?“ asked the father. “Why, when he preached.“ “What did he say?“ “He said, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in the gunboats.&rsquo “
Upon reaching the Benton, where Foote was supervising target practice, Eats tells of this experience: “One of his officers approached and handed him a dozen or more letters. While still conversing with me, his eye glanced over them . and he selected one which he proceeded to open. Before reading probably four lines, he turned to me with great calmness and composure, and said, “Mr. Eats, I must ask you to excuse me for a few minutes while I go down to my cabin.“
This letter brings me the news of the death of my son, about thirteen years old, who I had hoped would live to be the stay and support of his mother.
“Without further remark, and without giving the slightest evidence of his feelings to any one, he left me and went to his cabin. . . . When he returned, after an absence of not more than fifteen minutes, still perfectly composed, I endeavored to divert his mind from his affliction by referring to . . . my interview with his brother. I told him the anecdote of his little niece . . . and this served to clothe his face with a temporary smile.“
Eats summed up his impression of Foote thus: “He was one of the most fascinating men . I have ever met, being full of anecdote, and having a graceful, easy flow of language. He was likewise, ordinarily, one of the most amiable looking of men but when angered, as I once saw him, his face impressed me as being most savage and demoniacal, and I can imagine that . in an attack he would have been invincible. . Aside from his martial character, no officer ever surpassed him in those evidences of genuine refinement and delicacy which mark the true gentleman.“
Foote's gun-boats ascending to attack Fort Henry
Dates / Origin Date Issued: 1862 Library locations The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Picture Collection Shelf locator: PC AME-1862 Topics Tennessee River Foote, Andrew H. (Andrew Hull), 1806-1863 United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 United States -- 1862 Fort Henry, Battle of, Tenn., 1862 Gunboats -- American -- Tennessee -- 1862 Genres Bird's-eye views Notes Source note: Harper''s pictorial history of the Civil War. (Chicago : Star Publishing Co. 1866) Guernsey, Alfred H. (Alfred Hudson) (1824-1902), Author. Alden, Henry Mills , Author. Physical Description Wood engravings Extent: 1 print : b 22 x 32 cm. (8 1/2 x 12 1/2 in.) Type of Resource Still image Identifiers NYPL catalog ID (B-number): b17168678 Barcode: 33333159321914 Universal Unique Identifier (UUID): 3b0c0d60-c532-012f-02dc-58d385a7bc34 Rights Statement The copyright and related rights status of this item has been reviewed by The New York Public Library, but we were unable to make a conclusive determination as to the copyright status of the item. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use.
Admiral Andrew Hull Foote: Cheshire Resident, Civil War Admiral
John White as Admiral Andrew Hull Foote, Cheshire Historical Society.
Cheshire resident John White gave this talk about Admiral Andrew Hull Foote at the Cheshire Historical Society in January, 2017.
THE LIFE OF ADMIRAL ANDREW HULL FOOTE
In speaking to you about my life history, it seems proper to begin reciting it by presenting some genealogical information, especially because some of my ancestors were notable figures in our town and state.
The gambrel-roofed house where I resided, at the corner of Main Street and Cornwall Avenue, was built in 1767 by the Rev. John Foot when he married Abigail Hall. Abigail was the daughter of Rev. Samuel Hall, the first pastor of the Congregational Church in the New Cheshire Parish. The church was then located on what is now Lanyon Drive. Rev. Foot came to Cheshire in the 1760s to serve as colleague to Parson Hall, and immediately fell in love with the parson’s daughter. The home he built for her was a stately one—in fact, the most stately on Main Street. Rev. Foot lived there until his death in 1813, and thus the house was known as the Foot House.
Parson Foot’s descendants included his son Samuel Augustus Foot, who would become my father. But I shall speak of him objectively at this point and tell you that Samuel Foot was graduated from Yale when not quite 17. He then studied law with Judge Tapping Reeve of Litchfield. You have heard of Litchfield Law School founded by Judge Reeve, I’m sure. Poor health forced Samuel to give up the idea of law as a career, and he entered into business with the man who was to become his father-in-law, Andrew Hull, Jr. who was engaged in the West Indies trade in New Haven. Samuel had moved to New Haven and set up an office on Long Wharf, and in 1803 married my mother, Eudocia. They remained there until the War of 1812, when they returned to Cheshire in 1813 due to the declining health of Samuel’s father, my grandfather John Foot. Thus, I was born in New Haven in 1806 and lived there for seven years. But I am getting ahead of myself.
I was telling you about my father, Samuel Augustus Foot. Shortly after returning to Cheshire, he was elected State Representative and remained in that capacity for many years. For two of those years he was chosen Speaker of the House. He also was elected to Congress several times, first as a Representative and then as a Senator. In 1834 he resigned to become Governor of Connecticut, serving for two years. His house was thereafter referred to as the Governor Foot House. I inherited it when he died in 1846. He was buried in Hillside Cemetery nearby. No doubt you all know where it is.
Now I shall shift the focus of this talk to myself and my 40-year career in the Navy. I’ll begin by describing my early life.
MY EARLY LIFE
Although I was born in New Haven, I spent most of my boyhood here in Cheshire. But I recall the waterfront activity of Long Wharf, where I often played as a youth near my father’s office. So seafaring, with its colorful tales of far-off lands, became an element of my psyche early on.
My mother’s influence upon me was equally strong. She had great concern for the moral and religious welfare of her children. Likewise, my father was the son of the pastor of the Congregational Church here in Cheshire. So I was steeped in the Puritan tradition, and throughout my life strove to be a devout Christian. On ships in later life, I instituted religious worship and delivered sermons on Sundays. I also led the temperance movement to abolish what was called “flogging and grogging” in the U.S. Navy. I will speak more about that later.
My school days began at the common school here in Cheshire, but I was transferred by my father to the Episcopal Academy, now known as Cheshire Academy. One of my classmates there was Gideon Welles, who later became Secretary of the Navy in President Lincoln’s cabinet. We were lifelong friends, but I never sought to use that influence in a self-serving way when Gideon became Secretary of the Navy. My promotions were earned and well deserved.
In 1822, at age 16 I entered West Point Military Academy, but stayed only a few months. Seafaring was much more preferable to me, so I transferred to the Navy later that year.
My first assignment was to a schooner, the Grampus, assigned to root our pirates in the West Indies. A year later I was assigned to another ship, the Peacock, and promoted to the rank of midshipman. That three-year cruise took me to various ports on the east coast of South America.
After four years at sea, I returned to Cheshire. In June 1828 I married Caroline Flagg, the daughter of Bethuel Flagg, also a Cheshire resident. Caroline and I had two children, but one lived only four years. And Caroline died after only ten years of marriage to me.
After Caroline’s death, I went to sea again in 1833 aboard the Delaware. This time we went to the Mediterranean. During that cruise I was promoted to lieutenant. My ship visited many European and African ports. We also visited the Nile, Egypt and the Holy Land. And on our return, we visited Italy, France and England.
In 1837 I was assigned to the East India Squadron as executive officer on the sloop-of-war John Adams. This cruise brought me around the Cape of Good Hope to Bombay, Canton, Manila and the Sandwich and Society Islands. By then I had seen large portions of the world.
In 1841 I was assigned to the Philadelphia Navy Yard and to the task of educating midshipmen. The Navy Yard contained an educational institution called the Philadelphia Asylum. It was the predecessor of the Naval Academy at Annapolis, which was established in 1845.
An incidental comment about the Naval Academy seems in order here. During the Civil War, Maryland’s commitment to the Union was tenuous and doubtful to many Unionists. In a move to prevent the Academy from falling into Confederate hands, it was relocated to Newport, Rhode Island. The cadets were transferred from the Severn River to Newport Harbor aboard a noble man-of-war named the Constitution. After the war, the Academy returned to Annapolis.
In January 1842, I married my second cousin, Caroline Augusta Street. She was the oldest daughter of a wealthy man, Augustus Russell Street, the founder of Yale’s art school. My second Caroline and I had five children, but only two survived into adulthood.
MY MIDDLE LIFE
Now I shall recollect my mid-life.
From 1843 to 1846 I was aboard the flagship Cumberland as executive officer. My religious perspective and my concern for military discipline had led me to become, shall I say, a temperance crusader. Taking a stance in favor of abolishing grog from U.S. naval ships, I was able to make the Cumberland the first ship in the American navy to go “dry.” The daily ration of liquor for sailors ceased. My view won support among my fellow officers and my temperance campaign spread until, in 1862, it was made permanent policy throughout the fleet. It was an accomplishment for which I felt humbly proud. Flogging was abolished a few years before that, in 1859.
Next I was made executive officer of the Boston Navy Yard. I was judged to be a skillful administrator and manager by this time. Although I was still a lieutenant, in 1849 I became commander of the brig Perry and spent two years in the southern Atlantic apprehending slave traffickers. I came to hate slavery with a deep passion. Thus I took particular pride in capturing the Martha, a slaver, and placing her crew of 25 in irons. I took the Martha back to New York, where it was confiscated. She had tried to avoid capture by raising a Brazilian flag, but I sent my boarding party aboard her anyway. That night the Martha was to have boarded 1800 slaves.
In 1851, after my ship returned, I was promoted to Commander and allowed time to visit my family. Thereafter, for the next four years, I had a variety of shore assignments. During this time I wrote a book about patrolling against the slave trade. I titled it America and the Africa Problem. It was published in 1854.
Then in 1856 I commanded the Portsmouth, a sloop-of-war and one of the finest American naval vessels. Our ports of call included Hong Kong and Canton, where I was assigned to protect the lives and property of American residents amid the war raging between England and China. I stayed there for two years, visiting ports such as Shanghai and several in Japan.
In October of 1858 I was appointed Commander of the Brooklyn Navy Yard and remained there until the Civil War began. And now I shall speak about my Civil War exploits.
MY CIVIL WAR EXPLOITS
In August 1861, at the outset of the Civil War, I was promoted to Captain and put in charge of naval operations on Western Waters. More specifically, I was put in charge of naval defense on the upper Mississippi River. I was stationed at St. Louis. My job was to create an inland navy for operation against Confederate strongholds on the western rivers. I quickly went in action, building and manning ships, and leading them into combat. The fleet was improvised from whatever ships could be converted or built in a hurry. The result was the first ironclad flotilla of gunboats in American history. I soon became known as the Gunboat Commodore. Although my rank was Captain, the title Commodore meant one who is in command of a flotilla.
I am regarded by historians as brilliantly effective in command. My first major operation was the February 1862 attack on Forts Henry and Donelson with Ulysses S. Grant, who was a Brigadier General at the time. Fort Henry was on the Tennessee River Fort Donelson was on the Cumberland River. They controlled traffic on the rivers if our Union forces could capture them, the way would open to take the Mississippi and give the Union control of the waterways all the way to New Orleans.
The plan called for a coordinated attack with both the army and navy, but when I arrived at Fort Henry I found the Confederate defenses lacking and so I decided to act. With the river in flood, I sailed straight into the fort and the Confederates surrendered. Grant moved forward to attack Fort Donelson, but he opened the attack too soon. I arrived late but when I finally arrived I went straight into action. During the battle I was wounded in the right foot by a piece of iron shrapnel from an exploding cannonball and by wooden splinters. While the Confederates repulsed my attack, Fort Donelson eventually fell and I received much of the credit.
The capture of Fort Henry is chiefly memorable as the first engagement in history in which ironclad gunboats were subjected to a practical and severe test—a test which demonstrated that ironclads could work well. The battle between the Monitor and the Merrimac did not take place until almost a month later.
My next action was the attack on Island Number 10, which held a commanding position in the middle of the Mississippi River. During the battle I was on crutches from my foot wound. It forced me to move to a shore position. We nevertheless succeeded in taking the island.
After the battle, my health continued to deteriorate so far that I had to step down from command. In June 1862, I moved to Washington, where I was promoted to rear admiral and given the Thanks of Congress. My new duty was chief of the Bureau of Equipment and Recruiting.
A year later I got a seagoing appointment: command of the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron. But before I could take my position in the blockade off Charleston, I died. That was a year after my wounding.
Here I will tell you about the manner in which I died.
The wound I received at Fort Henry eventually killed me. It caused me such agony that I was temporarily detached in May 1862 and my squadron transferred to another admiral. I did not return to Western waters. I became chief of the Bureau of Equipment and Recruiting, a less onerous duty ashore.
But I was determined to do my utmost for my country, whatever the sacrifice. My life, I said to others, was not my own and should be freely surrendered at my country’s call, which to me was service to God. I sought active sea service and was given command of the South Atlantic Squadron. I left New Haven in June 1863, intending to depart from New York to assume command of the squadron. However, my disabilities overcame me in New York. I took to bed in the Astor House hotel, where I lingered for ten days in great suffering and then died there on June 26, 1863. I was 56 years old.
My life’s work was the navy, and for that I received the Thanks of Congress twice and a letter of thanks from President Lincoln. I had thought I was destined to die in battle at sea, but it was not to be. More important, however, was my attitude toward what actually befell me. Where I should die, and how, was to me a question of little importance. With my family and friends gathered around me, and assured by medical doctors that I must die, I waited calmly for the end. My last intelligible words recorded were, “I thank God for His goodnesses to me—for all His loving-kindness to me He has been good to me I thank him for all His benefits.”
My body lay in state in the rotunda of the State House on the upper green in New Haven, which was then the co-capital of Connecticut. The Episcopal funeral was held on June 30 in New Haven at the Center Church. Flags were draped everywhere, businesses were closed, public business was suspended. Four admirals were my pall bearers. My faithful black servant, Brooks, walked behind my hearse, carrying my sword.
I was buried in the Grove Street Cemetery of New Haven, where my grave, located near the main entrance, is marked by a large monument. Artillery fired and bells rang as the funeral made its way to the cemetery.
Upon my death, I was eulogized by many. I was described as gallant in combat, an excellent leader of men, and what was most satisfying to me, I was regarded as a good Christian gentleman by those who knew me.
My old schoolmate, Secretary of the Navy Gideon Wells, paid tribute to me in a general order to the officers and men of all ships. This was his statement:
“A gallant and distinguished officer is lost to the country. The hero of Fort Henry and Fort Donelson, the daring and indomitable spirit that created and led to successive victories, the Mississippi Flotilla the heroic Christian sailor, who in the China seas, and on the coast of Africa, as well as on the great interior rivers of our country, sustained with unfaltering dignity and devotion, the honor of our flag, and the cause of the Union Rear Admiral Foote is no more.”
Since I died, three ships of the United States Navy have been named USS Foote in my honor. The first Foote (TB-3) was the lead ship of her class of torpedo boat, launched in 1896 and sold in 1920. The second Foote (DD-169) was a Wickes-class destroyer, launched in 1918 and scrapped in 1952. The third Foote (DD-511) was a Fletcher-class destroyer, launched in 1942, decommissioned in 1946 and sold for scrap in 1972. Another form of honor to me was naming the New Haven post of the Grand Army of the Republic the Admiral Foote Post, which functioned for many years.
The New Haven Colony Historical Society has a fine portrait of me and other mementos.
A Brief History of Fort Foote
During the Civil War 68 forts were built around Washington, D.C. Only two were built to defend against a naval attack - Fort Foote and Battery Rodgers . At 16 miles, Fort Washington was considered to far away for adequate support. Construction on Fort Foote began in 1861, and was 500 feet long when completed in 1865. It boasted six 30-pounder Parrott rifles, four 8-inch 200-pounder Parrott rifles, and two 15-inch Rodman Columbiads. Battery Rodgers, a six-gun work built in 1863, was once located at the end of Jefferson St. in Alexandria, VA. It was named after Fleet Captain G.W. Rodgers who was killed in 1863 in Charleston Harbor, SC. It remained in service until 1869.
Fort Foote was named after Rear Admiral Andrew H. Foote who was killed during battle in 1863. He was notable for his campaign against Confederate fortifications along the Mississippi River. The fort's garrison lived in frame buildings outside the fort. Travel to and from the fort was almost always done by ferry, as there were no roads leading to the fort's location.
In 1868 and 1869 the fort was used as a military prison. Major W.R. King began experimenting with a recoil, or counterpoise, carriage with a 15-inch Rodman. But because of the limited use of the Potomac River, he moved his operation to New York in 1871. His invention, the King Carriage , became the prototype for the disappearing carriages that were widely used during the Endicott period. The fort was abandoned in 1878.
From 1902 to 1917 the fort was used as a practice area for engineer students. During World War I it was used for gas service tests. The Officer Candidates School at Fort Washington used Fort Foote as a training ground during World War II. After the war Fort Foote was transferred to the Department of the Interior and eventually became a part of the National Park System.
Foote, Andrew H. (1806-1863). Rear Admiral, USN. DS, 1p, 8.5 x 11 in. on blue lined paper, Portsmouth, NH. June 14, 1858. &ldquoApproved, A. H. Foote, Commanding US Ship &lsquoPortsmouth.&rsquo&rdquo
Foote here approves the transfer of an afflicted sailor to the Naval hospital at Portsmouth, NH. The sailor, Henry C. Gorman, a transfer case from the frigate USS Minnesota, suffered from &ldquoMania.&rdquo
A series of endorsements from Navy surgeons makes his condition progressively clear as Surgeon M.G. Delany first certifies that Gorman is &ldquoafflicted with Mania.&rdquo Then Dr. M.G. DeGanory (?) further explains that Gorman &ldquohas a derangement of the Liver with tumescence [a swelling] & constipation.&rdquo In a postscript he then adds that &ldquoGorman is addicted to &lsquoMasturbation'&rdquo and that that activity is thus &ldquothe cause of mania.&rdquo A &ldquoswelling&rdquo that will not go down!
The document serves as Gorman&rsquos travel pass, and is docketed &ldquoSick Ticket / Henry C. Gorman / Served on the US Ship Portsmouth / 14 June, 1858.&rdquo
A fresh document with usual horizontal folds the clean, dark ink easily readable throughout, with no loss from chipping.