Dead Confederates, A Civil War Era Blog

Memorial for U.S.S. Hatteras Crew Members

Posted in Education, Memory by Andy Hall on September 11, 2012

September 10, 2012. Fr. Stephen Duncan of Galveston, Texas conducts a memorial service for U.S.S. Hatteras Fireman John G. Cleary and Coal Heaver William Healy, who died in the battle with C.S.S. Alabama, January 11, 1863. This service, conducted over the wreck of Hatteras, is believed to be the first to honor these men, both of whom were Irish immigrants. The service marked the beginning of an intensive survey of the wreck conducted by a team of archaeologists and technicians assembled by NOAA, that will create a three-dimensional sonar map to document the storm-exposed remains of the USS Hatteras. The wreck itself will not be disturbed, and no artifacts will be recovered. The wreck is a protected site, and because the remains of the two crewmen were never recovered, the site is considered to be a war grave.


A memorial wreath and red and white rose petals scattered on the Gulf of Mexico at the site. I’ll have more to write about this project soon. In the meantime, here’s a NOAA press release providing the basic details. More Fr. Duncan here.


13 Responses

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  1. Jim Schmidt said, on September 11, 2012 at 8:58 am

    Thanks for sharing, Andy. Fr. Steve has quickly become a great and kind friend and correspondent. Wished I had this in time to put in the book!

    • Andy Hall said, on September 11, 2012 at 9:17 am

      The plans for this evolved out of a discussion at the first big project meeting at the end of July, so it came together only just recently. But Fr. Steve did a great job.

  2. Damian Shiels said, on September 11, 2012 at 9:35 am

    Great to see

    • Andy Hall said, on September 11, 2012 at 9:37 am

      Unfortunately, the preliminary genealogy work hasn’t found any evidence that these two men left families or descendants in the United States.

  3. David Tatum Jr said, on September 11, 2012 at 5:22 pm
    I know this dosent apply to the post, I just wanted to make sure ya got it !

    • Andy Hall said, on September 11, 2012 at 5:56 pm

      Interesting question. When I see that particular flag, I don’t think of it as a “Union” flag, but a United States flag — my national flag. Clearly you don’t see it that way, but whatever.

      What do I think about this? I won’t give you a song-and-dance about this at all. I think the Flaggers should sue. Take ’em to court. Pass the hat, er, kepi, and hire the best trial attorney in the Commonwealth. Put your money where your principles are. Take out a second mortgage if you have to, call the kids home from college if you have to, but get serious about this and hire a high-dollar gunslinger. Squeeze ’em in the courtroom until they cry Uncle [Billy]. Take this one all the way to the Supreme Court, if you have to, no matter how much it costs. If the Flaggers really believe this pole and flag are a violation of the law — I mean really believe it — they’ll pursue it aggressively in court. Otherwise, it’s just posturing.

      Now, this thread isn’t about the VMFA or the Flaggers. You wanted an answer, there it is. I won’t approve any more comments about those subjects in this thread, which is about the Hatteras Project. I mean it — no more in this thread.

  4. Pat Young said, on September 11, 2012 at 7:50 pm

    Very nice article. Like a lot of Irish Americans, I was raised with a vision of a life after death that allows for the souls of the dead to experience the prayers that follow them. These two poor men may have died tortured deaths, but I hope the intercessions of the living speed their way to final rest.

    • Andy Hall said, on September 11, 2012 at 8:13 pm

      Thanks. The memorial service was suggested at the first big project meeting in late July, and immediately adopted as part of the plan. It just seemed the right thing to do.

  5. David Tatum Jr said, on September 11, 2012 at 10:12 pm

    Good post on the C S S Alabama !

  6. Patrick Young said, on February 23, 2013 at 10:20 pm

    Andy, could I use the picture of Fr. Stephen Duncan for an article I’m writing for The Immigrants’ Civil War?

    • Andy Hall said, on February 23, 2013 at 10:33 pm

      Of course. I’ll get you high-res versions directly. Fr. Duncan will be pleased. It was a good thing to do for those men.

  7. Patrick Young said, on March 2, 2013 at 9:20 am

    Hi Andy, here is the article I wrote around your picture of the memorial ceremony. I used a long quote from you as the caption to the picture. Hope that was ok.

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