McClellan’s “lockjaw” boats

Posted on December 29, 2012 by

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With an absence of posts for about two weeks, I’m hoping readers had a pleasant Christmas. I know I did, and, though posts weren’t anywhere to be found, work continued behind the scenes (as always).

In addition to working a little, here and there, on my book, I’ve been honored with a request to write a chapter about Southern Unionism in a Valley county. Details about this will be coming in due time.

Otherwise, I’ve also had a little bout of “canal fever”… it having been a while since I last wrote anything about the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal. Ultimately, that drive within led me to this post… which would have been particularly well-suited if it actually fell around the Sesqui date, but that just didn’t happen.

I guess it is that drive that continues to obsess me, and started about 20 years ago… that drive to know more about my third great grandfather who happened to be running the canal (running the gauntlet, some might say, considering the the activity in that particular geographical area) during the war. In tapping into a few records that I didn’t check before, I realized that Cyrus S. Moore started on the canal a few years before I had originally thought. Yes, he worked as the lead lock tender, at Four Locks, Maryland, from 1858-1859, AND he opened a mortgage for the canal boat G.P. Lloyd, in 1860. Of course, I’ve touched on all of that before, in posts from a few years ago. Other records recently revealed that he actually began running the canal, at least as a boat captain (which means he may have been working the canal earlier, as a laborer on a canal boat), as early as April 13, 1853, when he registered the James A. Magruder to navigate the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal. The Magruder was a class C boat, that measured 91 feet, with a breadth of 14 feet, 5 inches, and had a draught (draft) of 12 inches empty, and 60 inches loaded. While the boat “hailed” from Four Locks, Cyrus’ residence was listed, at the time, as Washington, D.C.

Gen. George B. McClellan

Gen. George B. McClellan

I have absolutely no idea what happened to the Magruder after that, and before he took on the role of lead lock tender. Still, something else caught my eyes in this particular resource (Registers Issued to Boats to Navigate the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, 1851-1861), which is available through the C&O Canal Association website. Specifically, several boats were listed as having been seized by the US Government, in February 1862. Now, by percentage against all those boats registered in those ten years, there really weren’t that many seized, but when a person sees that boats were SEIZED… it’s enough to take note. From what I’ve found, at least seventeen canal boats were commandeered for use by the Union army… thanks to a plan developed by Gen. George B. McClellan.

I had heard of this plan before, and I always wondered if Cyrus Moore’s G.P. Lloyd was among McClellan’s “lockjaw boats”, but it appears it was not… at least according to this one source.

I’d love to talk about the story in more detail, but there’s an excellent piece on it in A Case of Lockjaw, also available through the C&O Canal Association. I’ve heard it suggested that McClellan did this on purpose, so that he could, perhaps, give greater credibility to his plans for the Peninsula Campaign. I don’t think so… but there it is.

So, getting back to the lockjaw boats… here’s a list of the seventeen that I discovered, all seized between February 13 and February 22, 1862. Pay particular notice of the length and breadth of these boats when considering how they were supposed to be used under McClellan’s plan (again, see the story above… “A Case of Lockjaw”).

A.J. Benton - registered 10/20/52; hailing from Cumberland, Md. Class C boat; Length: 90 feet, 6 inches; Breadth: 14 feet, 4 inches; Draught: 10 inches empty, 66 inches loaded. Owned by the Cumberland Coal and Iron Co. Seized 2/20/62.

Emily Hoffman - registered 10/20/52; hailing from New York [...and yes, there were a number of boats, in the overall listing, that hailed from New York, which makes me wonder... were some transported from the Erie Canal in the 1850s?]. Class C; Length: 92 feet; Breadth: 14 feet, 5 inches; Draught: 8 inches empty, 66 inches loaded. Owned by the Cumberland Coal and Iron Co. Seized 2/22/62.

Liberty - registered 10/25/52; hailing from Knoxville, Md. Class D; Length: 76 feet, 6 in.; Breadth: 13 feet, 3 inches; Draught: 10 inches empty; 48 inches loaded. Owned by Barton Garrett, of Knoxville, Md. Seized 2/22/1862.

Three Brothers - registered 3/31/53; hailing from Cumberland, Md. Class C; Length: 91 feet; Breadth: 14 feet, 6 inches; Draught: 11 inches empty, 66 inches loaded. Owned by R.S. McKaig, of Cumberland, Md. Seized 2/18/62.

A.C. Blackman - registered 6/7/54; hailing from Hancock, Md. Class A; Length: 88 feet; Breadth: 14 feet; Draught: 10 inches empty, 54 inches loaded. Owned by Jacob Snively, of Hancock, Md. Seized 2/22/1862.

Scow Wild Kate [I gotta say... what an awesome name for a canal boat] – registered 7/11/54; hailing from Cumberland, Md. Class E; Length: 89 feet; Breadth: 14 feet; Draught: 10 1/2 inches empty, 60 inches loaded. Owned by Cumberland Coal and Iron Co. Seized 2/22/62.

Stephen Castleman – registered 5/7/56; hailing from Cumberland, Md. Class B; Length: 90 feet; Breadth: 14 feet, 4 inches; Draught: 10 inches empty, 60 inches loaded. Owned by Gregory Read, from Cumberland. Seized 2/13/62.

Lauratton [Lauretta] – registered 5/13/57; hailing from Cumberland, Md. Class C; Length: 90 feet; Breadth: 14 feet, 6 inches; Draught: 10 inches empty, 54 inches loaded. Owned by John Byroads, Washington Co., Md. Seized 2/21/62.

Kate McCormick – registered 5/13/57; hailing from Cumberland, Md. Class C; Length: 90 feet; Breadth: 14 feet, 6 inches; Draught: 10 inches empty, 54 inches loaded. Owned by John McCormick, Washington Co., Md. Seized 2/17/62.

James Buchanan –  registered 9/12/57; hailing from Georgetown, D.C. Class C; Length: 91 feet; Breadth: 14 feet; Draught: 9 inches empty, 54 inches loaded. Owned by Carlisle & Garrett, of Frederick Co., Md. Seized 2/18/62.

Col. Dunlop –  registered 6/13/58; hailing from Georgetown, D.C. Class C; Length: 90 feet, 11 inch; Breadth: 14 feet, 11 inches; Draught: 9 inches empty, 54 inches loaded. Owned by C.F. Werner, Frederick Co., Md. Seized 2/17/62.

Mount Savage –  registered 7/30/58; hailing from Cumberland, Md. Class C; Length: 90 feet; Breadth: 14 feet, 4 inch; Draught: 9 inches empty, 54 inches loaded. Owned by Richard O’Neil, Alleghany Co., Md. Seized 2/18/62.

Dr. J.R. Robertson – registered 7/30/58; hailing from Cumberland, Md. Class C; Length: 91 feet; Breadth: 14 feet, 6 inches; Draught: 9 inches empty, 54 inches loaded. Owned by John D. Kelley, Oldtown, Alleghany Co., Md. Seized 2/18/62.

Richard [R.] Gregory - registered 7/30/58; hailing from Cumberland, Md. Class C; Length: 90 feet, 4 inches; Breadth: 14 feet, 6 inch; Draught: 9 inches empty, 54 inches loaded. Owned by William E. Taylor, Cumberland, Md. Seized 2/16/62.

Capt. Wm. T. Aud - registered 9/22/58; hailing from Edward’s Ferry, Md. Class A; Length: 91 feet; Breadth: 14 feet, 7 inches; Draught: 9 inches empty, 54 inches loaded. Owned by Andy Trundle, Montgomery Co., Md. Seized 2/16/62.

Mary E[lizabeth] McCoy - registered 11/6/58; hailing from Cumberland, Md. Class C; Length: 90’; Breadth: 14 feet, 2 inches; Draught: 9 inches empty, 54 inches loaded. Owned by Joseph McCoy, Washington Co., Md. Seized 2/17/62.

Molly – registered 3/25/61; hailing from Hancock, Md. Class C; Length: 90 feet, 6 inches; Breadth: 14 feet, 6 inches; Draught: 12 inches empty, 54 inches loaded. Owned by P. Broderick, Hancock, Md. Seized 2/16/62.

A couple of things strike me about this…

Why these boats in particular?

Was it because of where they were at, at a particular time?

Could it have been that the owners (some, or a few) were in sympathy with the Confederacy?

Was it something else?

I also wonder if they were able to go back into the care of the original owners… and undamaged, or… if the owners were compensated… or if the boats were truly, in the harshest sense… seized.

I can’t say for sure, but he certainly has me wondering. Perhaps there will be some answers in my inbound copy of Trembling in the Balance: The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal During the Civil War. I look forward to finding out more. For now it appears that Cyrus may not have been impacted (at least directly) by the incident.

Though this picture is from 63 years after the "lockjaw" incident, this C&O Canal boat provides a good example of those that were seized in February, 1862.

Though this picture is from 63 years after the “lockjaw” incident, this C&O Canal boat provides a good example of those that were seized in February, 1862.

*Classes of Boats (Courtesy of WHILBR):

Class A—length (minimum of 89 feet; maximum of 92 feet); width (minimum of 14 feet; maximum of 14 feet, 6 inches); draft when empty (minimum of 11 inches; maximum of 18 inches); draft when loaded (minimum of 4 feet, 6 inches; maximum of 4 feet, 9 inches).

Class B—length (minimum of 50 feet; maximum of 90 feet); width (minimum of 13 feet, 4 inches; maximum of 14 feet, 6 inches); draft when empty (minimum of 10 inches; maximum of 18 inches); draft when loaded (minimum of 2 feet, 6 inches; maximum of 4 feet, 9 inches).

Class C—length (minimum of 88 feet; maximum of 96 feet); width (minimum of 14 feet; maximum of 14 feet, 6 inches); draft when empty (minimum of 10 inches; maximum of 18 inches); draft when loaded (minimum of 4 feet, 6 inches; maximum of 4 feet, 9 inches).

Class D—length (minimum of 75 feet; maximum of 90 feet); width (minimum of 14 feet; maximum of 14 feet, 6 inches); draft when empty (minimum of 8 inches; maximum of 14 inches); draft when loaded (minimum of 3 feet; maximum of 4 feet, 6 inches).

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