Sunday, April 22, 2012

Stheph Russell Mallory Grave Site

The author at the Mallory grave site.

On a recent trip to Pensacola, Florida I found the grave site of Confederate Secretary of  the Navy  Stephen Russell Mallory at historic St. Michael's Catholic Cemetery. The Mallory monument is a magnificent stone with appropriate inscription. The grave site is excellently maintained and in a beautiful setting. There is also an archival plaque giving some of his history as well as a third national Confederate flag proudly lying over the site.

Stephen R. Mallory was born in 1811 (or 12 or 13, depending on the source) at Port of Spain on the island of Trinidad, British West Indies. Mallory's mother was Irish and his father was a construction engineer from Connecticut. When he was about a year old, the family moved from Trinidad and eventually settled in Key West, Florida. The young Mallory was educated in a country  school near Blakely, Alabama and when he was nine-years-old was sent to a Moravian School in Nazareth, Pennsylvania. His father died and he  helped his mother run a boarding house in Key  West to make their living. Mallory was made a customs inspector in Key  West and then studied law under Judge William Marvin from 1830 to  1834. He was admitted to the Florida bar shortly after completing his studies. Mallory  received some naval experience when he commanded a small  vessel during the  Seminole Wars in the Everglades (1836-1838). The young man married Angela Moreno, a Spanish women from Pensacola, in 1838, He served as a county judge in Monroe County, Florida and again became the customs inspector  in Key west in 1845.

Mallory was elected to the Florida state senate in 1850 and appointed chairman of the Naval Affairs 1853. Although opposed to  secession, he resigned from the Senate January 21,  1861 after Florida left the Union. He used his influence with President Buchanan to prevent U.S. warships from coming to Pensacola and to prevent reinforcements from being  sent to the fort there. Confederate President Jefferson Davis appointed Mallory Secretary of the Navy on February 25, 1861, He and Postmaster General John H. Reagan were the only two Confederate cabinet members who stayed in their posts for the entirety of the Confederate government. One of his great accomplishments was organizing the training men for the Confederate Navy, and basing promotions on gallant or meritorious service. He also let numerous contracts for building gunboats, cruisers and ironclad ships. Mallory believed building ironclad ships were of the highest priority.

Stephen Russell Mallory
(Library of Congress)
Cotton bonds were used to raise money to build the Confederate warships, and set a precedent for other Confederate departments in acquisitions of the materials of war. A keen judge of men, he put such men as Raphael Semmes and John F. Maffitt in command of commerce raiders which ravaged the Union merchant fleet. Mallory also set  up naval workshops to build the navy's necessary equipment and supplies, including machinery and casting cannons. He established new shipyards for building ironclads in Selma, Mobile, Oven Bluff and Montgomery, Alabama; Columbus, Georgia; Shreveport, Louisiana; Yazoo City, Mississippi, and  Whitehall and  Edward's Ferry, North  Carolina. Because of Mallory's leadership, the Confederate Navy never had a shortage of modern armaments for its warships.

Mallory also encouraged the development of underwater mines, then called torpedoes, which caused havoc for the Union Navy. The C.S.S. Hunley, the first submarine in history to sink an enemy warship, became a reality during Mallory's tenure. Throughout the war Mallory and his wife were an active and popular part of the social life of Confederate Richmond. At the end of the war he accompanied President Davis in the evacuation of the city and he resigned from the cabinet on May 3, 1865 in Washington, Georgia. He met his family in LaGrange, Georgia where he was arrested by Federal authorities May 20, 1865. Incarcerated at Fort LaFayette in New York Harbor, he was finally  released March 10, 1866. Mallory reunited with his family  in Bridgeport, Connecticut and the family  returned to Pensacola in July of  that  year. He resumed the practice of law and opposed Radical Reconstruction. Stephen R. Mallory died in his home in Pensacola on November 9, 1873.

Mallory  monument at St. Michael's Cemetery, Pensacola.
(Photo by author)

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