At the start of the Civil War, Lieutenant John A.
B. Dahlgren was commanding the Washington Navy Yard,
where for more than a decade he had been developing
guns for the U.S. Navys ordnance department.
Dahlgren is best remembered for designing a heavy,
smoothbore, muzzle-loading gun called the Dahlgren
gun. The nine-inch version became the most popular
gun to be mounted on vessels of war. Promoted to
captain in 1862, Dahlgren requested duty at sea
the next year. In July 1863, following his promotion
to rear admiral, he took command of the navys
South Atlantic Blockading Squadron and assumed responsibility
for the blockade of Charleston Harbor. Dahlgrens
forces succeeded in silencing Confederate batteries
on Morris Island and at Sumter and in securing a
safe anchorage for the monitors inside the bar.
This action put a halt to blockade running at the
Photographed aboard the USS Pawnee in
Charleston Harbor, Dahlgren leans against one
of the cast iron guns of his own design which
bears his name.