“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Deltaville in Middlesex County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)

Confederate Boarding Cutter


Confederate Boarding Cutter Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Don Morfe, August 17, 2016
1. Confederate Boarding Cutter Marker
Inscription.  The vessel and wagon you see before you are a representation of an idea by one of the most illustrious military men to fight in Middlesex County during the Civil War, John Taylor Wood. The grandson of Zachery Taylor and the nephew of Jefferson Davis, Wood was an accomplished soldier and brilliant tactician. When it became evident that the South was sorely lacking in both supplies and vessels, Wood came up with a plan to rectify these shortcomings. At Rockett’s Shipyard in Richmond, he had four boarding cutters built that resembled whaleboats. Not only were the boats fast under oar power, they were light and fit easily on supply wagons. The idea was to use the wagons to carry the cutters to remote areas, launch them, and then sneak under cover of darkness on unsuspecting Union vessels, capturing the boats and their cargo.

In two such raids in 1862 Wood successfully captured several commercial vessels. In August 1863, Wood, with 82 men and four wagon-mounted boarding cutters, left Richmond under secret orders from Jefferson Davis. Wood was directed to the Piankatank River and ordered to target Union gunboats rather than commercial
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vessels. Unsuccessful at first, while camped at Wilton Creek, Wood was able to ambush the Union gunboat, U.S. General Putnam. The captain was killed and several crewman wounded but the gunboat escaped.

Several weeks later, on the Rappahannock River, Wood’s plan was vindicated. In a raging storm off Stingray Point, Wood and his men captured the gunboats U.S. Satellite and U.S. Reliance using the boarding cutters. Then, commandeering the Satellite, Wood seized three commercial vessels the next day. The Union, outraged by this thievery, sent three gunboats after Wood but he escaped with his prizes up the Rappahannock River.

Wood’s raids did not win the war for the South, but they certainly boosted the morale of the Confederacy during a year of catastrophic reversals. In one raid, on waters controlled by the enemy, Wood captured and destroyed two gunboats and three commercial vessels. The equipment he salvaged-the guns, engines, anchors and chains were worth tens of thousands of dollars. He captured ninety prisoners and lost not one man in the process-a truly remarkable statistic given the bloody nature of the Civil War.

John Taylor Wood continued his illustrious career elsewhere for the remainder of the War, but for one golden moment his tactical skills bathed Middlesex County in the light of a remarkable Confederate victory.
Erected by
Confederate Boarding Cutter Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Don Morfe, August 17, 2016
2. Confederate Boarding Cutter Marker
Deltaville Maritime Museum.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: War, US CivilWaterways & Vessels.
Location. 37° 33.112′ N, 76° 19.474′ W. Marker is in Deltaville, Virginia, in Middlesex County. Marker can be reached from Jackson Creek Road (Virginia Route 660) 0.1 miles south of Bucks View Lane (Virginia Route 683), on the left when traveling south. The Confederate Boarding Cutter is on the property of the Deltaville Maritime Museum. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 287 Jackson Creek Road, Deltaville VA 23043, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Oyster Tongs (a few steps from this marker); Boarding Cutter (within shouting distance of this marker); Marine Railway (within shouting distance of this marker); Pette Spansell Clark (1908-2000) (within shouting distance of this marker); Deltaville Dollies (within shouting distance of this marker); Flagpole and Flag Etiquette (within shouting distance of this marker); Explorer (within shouting distance of this marker); Compass Rose (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Deltaville.
Also see . . .  Deltaville Maritime Museum. (Submitted on August 26, 2016.)
Sculpture on the Museum grounds image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Don Morfe, August 17, 2016
3. Sculpture on the Museum grounds
Credits. This page was last revised on August 26, 2016. It was originally submitted on August 25, 2016, by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Maryland. This page has been viewed 358 times since then and 36 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on August 25, 2016, by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Maryland. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.

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Dec. 10, 2023