Pliny William Wise
was born on December 4, 1834 in East Greenwich, Rhode Island; but
his age in the birth records of his children reflect he was born in
1847. Wise was an African American Civil War veteran who on August
27, 1862 enlisted in the U.S. Navy at New Bedford, Massachusetts for
a period of one year; as an ordinary seaman and cook aboard the
U.S.S. “Ohio”. The “Ohio” was a receiving ship in Boston that
operated from 1850 until 1870 where new recruits were inducted into
the Naval service before being assigned to other ships. After a
period of time he transferred aboard the U.S.S. “Princeton”, the “Wissahickon”,
the “Vixon”, the “North Carolina”, the “Daylight”, the “Morse”, the
“Circassian” and finally the “Iroquois”; until August 27, 1863.
The “Ohio” was launched on May 30,
1820 and was used in the U.S. Navy during the Civil War as a
receiving ship; because she drew too much water to be used in
coastal operations. She continued in that duty throughout the war
and into 1875.
The Wissahickon was a screw gunboat
built in 1861, delivered to the Navy on November 12, 1861 and
commissioned on November 25th. It was assigned, with Wise
aboard, to the West Gulf Blockading Squadron and participated in her
first combat action on April 24, 1862. She participated in the
attack on Confederate works at Grand Gulf, Mississippi, dashed by
Southern batteries at Vicksburg, Mississippi, participated in the
blockade off the coast of Georgia, in the attack on Fort McAllister,
she helped destroy the blockade runner “Rattlesnake” on February 23,
1863, captured the steamer “Georgiania on March 19th and
the steamer “Havelock” on June 10, 1863, participated in the attack
on Fort Wagner at Charleston, South Carolina from July 18th
through September 8, 1863 and in the bombardment of Fort Sumter;
later patrolling off Port Royal, South Carolina.
The “Vixen” spent most of her duty
conducting survey work along the southern coast. She entered Port
Royal Sound to place buoys in the channel prior to Samuel F. Du
Pont's planned attack. It then conducted local surveys following the
Union capture of the sound and reconnoitered St. Helena Sound, South
Carolina. In early December, a second survey was taken
of St. Helena and the “Vixen” accompanied by the “Pawnee” and the
“Seneca” took possession of North and South Edisto Rivers in South
Carolina. After having repairs made at Port Royal, she received
orders to report to the blockade at Ossabow Sound, Georgia and
participated in the expedition against the Confederate works at
Pocotaligo, South Carolina. She returned to the New York Navy Yard
shortly after that and was decommissioned on November 8th.
“Daylight”was a 682-ton screw steam gunboat built in 1859-60 for
commercial use and chartered by the Navy and placed in commission in
June 1861 as the USS “Daylight”. She operated along the coasts of
Virginia and North Carolina, in blockading duties and helped capture
four blockade runners in 1861 and five in 1862. She also
participated in a bombardment of Fort Macon, North Carolina and was
decommissioned in May 1865.
was a wooden side-wheel ferryboat built at New York in 1861, known
as the “Marion”. She was purchased by the Navy and commissioned in
November 1861. She was part of the North Atlantic Blockading
Squadron off Newport News and part of the Roanoke Island expedition
and participated in the bombardment of Hampton Roads fortifications.
She was decommissioned and went to the Washington Navy Yard in May
William wise was granted an honourable discharge from the U.S. Navy
on August 27, 1863 at Baltimore, Maryland.
After the war Wise lived in New York,
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and New Bedford, Connecticut before he
relocated to New South Wales, Australia, where he worked as a cook
and a general laborer. Wise married Sarah Elizabeth Francis at
Sydney, New South Wales in 1874 after his arrival , but she died in
September 1877 at Sydney. After her death Wise married again almost
a year later, in August 1878, to Euphemia Abbot; also in Sydney. She
was the widow of a crew member of the whaling ship “Eric” out of
Dundee, Scotland, David Abbott, who had drowned in Baffin’s Bay,
Greenland in 1876. Wise and Euphemia made their home at Balmain,
Australia and raised five children; David Arkley born in 1879,
Elizabeth Hardy born in 1881, Helen Stewart born in 1884, Pliny
William born in 1887 and George born in 1889. In 1903 Wise applied
for a military pension, but unfortunately died before he could take
advantage of it. Pliny William Wise died on April 2, 1904 of
“phthisis”, before receiving his first pension check. His wife
however, received a widow’s pension until her death in February
1926. Pliny William Wise was buried in the Old Presbyterian Section,
Field of Mars Cemetery in Ryde, New South Wales.
The Morse, a wooden sidewheel ferryboat built at New
York in 1861and originally called the “Marion”. It was purchased by
the Navy at New York on November 7 , 1861 and commissioned on
November 9, 1861 with Acting Master Peter Hays in command.
The “Morse” arrived at Hampton Roads on November 20, 1861 to join
the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron. She lay off Newport News
until December 29th when she steamed across Hampton Roads
to attempt to capture CSS “Sea Bird”, but the “Morse”'s shelling
drove the steamer to the protection of three Confederate batteries
at Sewell's Point.
Heated action began for the “Morse” in January 1862 when she joined
the Roanoke Island expedition with 16 other shallow-draft gunboats.
The expedition departed Hampton Roads on January 11th and
began bombarding the fortifications on February 7th. The
campaign resulted in the Union capture of the island on February 8th,
threatening the Confederate communications and opening the rear
defences to Norfolk, Virginia.
On February 9th the “Morse” and Commodore Perry steamed
up Croatan Sound for Elizabeth City to destroy some Confederate
gunboats and break upthe canal communications. Crossing Dismal Swamp
Canal the gunboats spotted both Confederate ships and shore
batteries. Firing from the ships drove the southerners from their
guns and scattered the Confederate vessels. The Union squadron
captured or destroyed Confederate ships “Sea Bird”, “Fanny”, “Ellis
Forrest”, and “Black Warrior”, allowing the capture of the town on
The “Morse” and five additional gunboats departed from Hatteras
Inlet on February 23rd to reconnoiter Croatan Sound, when
a strong Confederate forces at Wiliton opened heavy fire on the “Dela~earc”,
the lead ship, with artillery and musketry. The ships returned the
attack, firing on the battery and landing the 9th New
York Zouaves; who entered Winton and destroyed military stores,
tents, arms, and gear.
Morse departed Hatteras Inlet with 12 other ships 12 March for Brant
Island, Neuse River to cover the dis. embarkation of troops in the
New Berne campaign. The joint Army-Navy expedition captured the town
14 March and the last of the batteries the 16th.
Morse spent the remainder of the spring and summer scouting and
patrolling the York River, protecting transports and aiding
operations of the Army on Pamunkey River in June. Joining the James
River Flotilla in July she captured supplies on Mattapony River the
following May, scouting the river to Frazier's Ferry and silencing
Confederate guns above West Point. Morse Joined seven others in
capturing Fort Powhatan, James River 14 July 1863.
In November, Morse joined the expedition to Mathews County, a
peninsula between MobJack Bay and Plankatank River and a base for
Confederate raiders. Information from captured guerrillas on plans
to capture a schooner and to destroy the lights on Chesapeake Bay
sent Morse up Last River to throttle these efforts.
After searching out torpedoes on Purtan Bay in February 1864, the
“Morse” joined General Wister's campaign on the Mattapony River,
attacking the Ring and Queen Courthouse. One thousand infantry went
ashore from the Union ships at Sheppard's Landing on March 13th
and after a feigned attack on West Point in May, the “Morse”
evacuated troops from that point. After performing scouting duty
throughout the spring and summer, the “Morse” joined the Potomac
Flotilla later in the winter.
The “Morse” relieved the “Deleware” on the Rappahannoek River in
March 1865, helping the Army in its efforts to take Fort Lowry. She
was then decommissioned and went to the Washington Navy Yard on May
Birth, Marriage and Death Records,
New South Wales
Field of Mars Cemetery Records
J. H. Blodgett, Letter, Jan.
21, 1865, 4 pages, describing the USS Morse and steamer USS Morse
Official Records of the Union and
Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion
U.S. Navy Department, Report of the
“Warships of the Union and
Confederate Navies”, Paul H. Silverstone