JUNE 9TH, 1864: Illustrative of the vast difference in capabilities of the two navies were the reactions North and South during the aftermath of the capture of the USS Water Witch on June 6th.
The Union fleet was concerned that she might escape to sea and attack coastal positions. "We must try to block the Water Witch," wrote Rear Admiral Dahlgren.
The South, however, hoping to conserve this unexpected gain in strength by her capture, had no intention of risking the gunboat in such an operation. Instead, every effort was made to bring the ship to Savannah as additional defense for the city.
This date, Flag officer William W. Hunter, CSN, wrote the Water Witch's commander, Lt. William W. Carnes: "Keep powder enough to blow her up-- say 100 pounds--in the event the enemy may be enabled to recapture her."
The North, with free access to the sea and an abundance of material and great facilities available, could remain on the offensive, the South, in desperate need of ships and supplies, was committed to the defensive.