Item contributed by Massachusetts Historical Society
In the fall of 1861, the United States Navy, commanded by Admiral Samuel Francis Du Pont, won the Battle of Port Royal.1 This victory ultimately led to Beaufort, Hilton Head, and the surrounding areas to come under the control of the United States. According to the June 27, 1863 edition of the Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, Admiral Du Pont called for the creation of a “Naval Machine Shop in Station Creek, Near Hilton Head.” Here, mechanics repaired ships so that they could quickly return to battle.2 While it is unclear if the Machine Shop depicted in the photograph is the same shop, it may have played a similar role during the Civil War for the United States Navy.
This photograph of the Navy Machine Shop is included in Captain Luis Emilio’s collection of photographs related to the regiment, now at the Massachusetts Historical Society. The soldiers may have seen the shop while they were in South Carolina throughout the course of the war.
1. National Park Service, “Samuel Francis Du Pont,” last updated December 5, 2019, accessed May, 2022. https://www.nps.gov/people/samuel-francis-du-pont.htm.
2. “Admiral Dupont’s machine shop, Station Creek, S.C.,” Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, June 27, 1863, accession 12546.4, South Carolina and the Civil War Collection, University of South Carolina, South Caroliniana Library, https://digital.tcl.sc.edu/digital/collection/civilwar/id/6481/.
Photograph, circa 1863-1864, 7.4 cm x 7.6 cm.
From the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment photographs.