THOMAS W. BRENT
As Commandant of the Confederate Navy Station at Savannah (1862), he
instructs a lieutenant to transfer a marine private from a barracks in the city
to the CSS Savannah.
Autograph Letter signed: "Thos. W. Brent" as Station Commandant,
1 page, 8¼x10½. Savannah, Georgia, 1862 July 15. On letterhead of the
Commandant's Office, Confederate States Navy Station to Lt. J. Rutledge,
Commander of the Naval Battery, Savannah. In full: "You will send an
officer to Oglethorpe Barracks in this city with instructions to apply to the
officer commanding at that post for Wm. Meyer, a private marine left there by
Lieut. Quincy, C.S.N., for safe keeping. You will receive the said marine on
board the Savannah for subsistence." "P.S. Sent to the Savannah last evening by
the Garrison that the officer may apply [2 words illegible]." Thomas
William Brent (1808-1875) was appointed a US Navy Acting Midshipman in
1825. In 1857 Brent, by now a Commander, received his first command: the
USS Marion, a 16-gun sloop of war. In January 1861, he resigned his
USN commission, and in March 1861 - now a Commander in the Confederate Navy,
he took command of the Pensacola Navy Yard. One year later (March 8, 1862),
he obeyed an order to evacuate the base, torching the Navy Yard and defending
fortifications. He subsequently commanded the Savannah Station
(1862-1863), and was then promoted to Commander of Naval Forces West of
the Mississippi. In 1864, he received command of the ironclad CSS
Savannah, but the ship hit mines while attempting to escape from a Savannah
under assault by Sherman's army, and had to be scuttled on December 21.
Brent was reassigned to Charleston Station until war's end. After the war, Brent
returned to Pensacola, working in the fire/casualty insurance business until his
death. The CSS Savannah mentioned here is a steam gunboat used for harbor
defense and re-supply missions. Having run the Union blockade successfully,
it sank in a storm en route to England with cotton to pay for Confederate
munitions and other supplies, in August 1863. It should not be confused with
the Confederate ironclad ram Savannah, built in June 1863 and used in
defense of Savannah harbor. Thomas Brent was its last commander, as noted
above. The letter's recipient, John Rutledge (1820-1894), grandson of South
Carolina Governor and US Supreme Court Justice John Rutledge, Jr., commanded
several Confederate naval vessels, including later the ironclad ram Palmetto
State. Horizontal and vertical fold creases, affecting signature at "W".
Edges and corners creased, lightly chipped and stained. Minor ink transfer below
date. Lightly toned and creased. Otherwise, fine condition.
For more documents by these signers click the names below:
COMMANDER THOMAS WILLIAM BRENT
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