02984 - Lcdr. Barrett - Lt. Schoonmaker; of USS Catskill; Charleston, SC 1865 [LC-DIG-cwpb-02984]
Today we tend to associate the Navy’s involvement in the Civil War in two areas - the USS Monitor vs. CSS Virginia (Merrimac) and coastal blockades. The Navy played many other significant roles during the war, including transportation of both artillery and troops. Additionally using river gunboats, the Navy was able to bring large caliber weapons into several battles. In other situations, landing parties would send sailors ashore to either fight as infantry or with smaller deck guns that could be moved onshore for support.
Pictured here are Lieutenant Commander Barrett and Lieutenant Schoonmaker. When this image was taken, they were the commanding officer and executive officer of the USS Catskill (a monitor class ship). Upon the death of the previous commanding officer in 1863, Barrett took command of the Catskill for the remainder of the war. Prior to be assigned to the Catskill, Barrett was a gunnery instructor at the Brooklyn Navy Yard and wrote the book “Gunnery Instruction – Simplified for the Volunteer Officers of the U.S. Navy”.
Lieutenant Schoonmaker had graduated from the Naval Academy in 1859. He served his first few years off the west coast of Africa. With the outbreak of the war, Schoonmaker was sent back the United States. Toward the end of 1861, he became executive officer on the first, of five different ships, during the course of the war. Following the war, he remained in the Navy and continued to serve in various positions both at sea and on shore. Rising to the rank of Captain, in 1886 he became Commanding Officer of the steam sloop Vandalia. The Vandalia was sent to Samoa on a mission to counter German activities in the area. She was wrecked during a hurricane that claimed the lives of 43 crew including Schoonmaker. The ship itself was a total loss and was donated to the Samoans for scrap after its armament was removed.