Fort Fisher

Fort Fisher
Fort Fisher, NE Bastion. Frank Vizetelly (National Geographic)

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

155 Years Ago, January 10, 1862: Union Gunboats in S.C.

JANUARY 10TH, 1862:  Brigadier General John C. Pemberton, CSA, reported on the effectiveness of the Union gunboats at Port Royal Ferry, South Carolina, and on the Coosaw River (31 December-1 Jan.1862):  "Although the enemy did not land in force at Page's Point or Cunningham's Bluff, it was entirely practicable for him to have done so under cover of his gunboats ...

"At no time during his occupation of the river bank did he leave their [the gunboats'] protection, and, finally, when withdrawing to the island, did so under a fire from his vessels almost as heavy as that under which he had landed... by far the larger portion of the [Confederate] casualties being from the shells of the fleet."

Darn Union Gunboats.  --Old B-Runner

Thursday, January 12, 2017

155 Years Ago, January 12, 1862: USS Pensacola Runs the Potomac River Confederate Blockade

JANUARY 12TH, 1862:  The USS Pensacola, Captain Henry W. Morris, successfully ran down the Potomac past Confederate batteries at Cockpit and Shipping Points.  The Pensacola reached Hampton Roads on 13 January, demonstrating that the restriction of travel on the river, imposed by the Confederate batteries, was being steadily lessened.

The Confederates Blockading Washington, D.C..  --Old B-R'er

155 Years Ago, January 12, 1862: Roanoke Expedition Gets Underway

JANUARY 12TH, 1862:  The Union amphibious expedition to Roanoke Island, North Carolina, departed Fort Monroe under Flag Officer L.M. Goldsborough and General Burnside.  Seizure of Hatteras Inlet by the Navy the previous August allowed Federal control of Pamlico Sound, but heavily fortified Roanoke Island dominated the narrow connection between Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds, the latter of which Confederates used for active blockade running.

Capture of strategic Roanoke Island, which one Confederate general termed "that post which I regard as the very key of the rear defenses of Norfolk and the navy yard," would give the Union control of Albemarle Sound and the waters penetrating deeply into North Carolina, over which passed important railroad bridges south of Norfolk.

--Old B-Runner

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

2017 Friends of Fort Fisher Descendants Reunion and Annual Meeting This Sauturday

The 2017 Friends of Fort Fisher (to which I belong) Descendants Reunion and Annual Meeting will be held this Saturday, January 14, at the Courtyard by Marriott Hotel at Carolina Beach, North Carolina, as a prelude to the events I mentioned in the previous post at the Fort Fisher State Historic Site in nearby Kure Beach.

Dr. Chris E. Fonvielle, author of many Fort Fisher books, will speak at 8:45 a.m. at the hotel's Cape Fear Room.

Then, several Fort Fisher descendants will speak about their ancestor's military service.

Again, I sure wish I could be there.  And, this year i will be closer than ever before, about 50 miles away at Topsial Beach, N.C.. where my family will be moving items out of my mom's beach condo in preparation to sell it.

Well, Maybe Next Year.  --Old B-R'er

152nd Second Battle of Fort Fisher to Be Commemorated This Saturday

From the January 2, 2017, Port City Daily "Watch cannons fire and listen to historians during the 152nd anniversary of the Second Battle of Fort Fisher."

This to be held Saturday, January 14, 2017, at the Fort Fisher State Historic Site and will feature a lot of living.  The program is "Desperate Bravery and Brilliant Valor: the 152nd Commemoration of the Second Battle of Fort Fisher" and will be from 10 to 4 p.m.  Artillery units will conduct drills and periodic firing of the fort's 32-pdr and 12-pdr Napoleon and Parrott Rifle cannons.

There will be  guided tours, kids activities and period photography by Harry Taylor who will have his 1860s traveling wet plate photography studio on site.

In addition, noted Fort Fisher scholars and authors Rod Gragg, author of "Confederate Goliath: The Battle of Fort Fisher" will be the keynote speaker at 11 a.m..  Then, at 2:30 p.m., historian and author Richard Triebe will speak.  Both will sell and autograph their books afterwards.

Sure Wish I Could Be There.  --Old B-Runner

155 Years Ago, January 11, 1862: Build Up of the Roanoke Expedition

JANUARY 11TH, 1862:  Having sent similar orders the previous day to the USS Henry Brinker, Flag Officer L.M. Goldsborough ordered the USS Delaware, Philadelphia, Hunchback, Morse, Southfield, Commodore Barney, Commodore Perry and schooner Howard to Hatteras Inlet as the build up of forces in the area for the assault on Roanoke Island continued.

--Old B-Runner

155 Years Ago, January 11, 1862: Problems, Problems on the Western Waters

JANUARY 11TH, 1862:  Responding to inquiries from the Navy Department on the mortar boats, Flag Officer Foote wrote:  "I am aware that an officer of great resources can overcome almost insuperable difficulties."

Foote had an enormous problem of being thrown into a region without naval bases or the usual resources of the seacoast.  In his own words, the western rivers area was "this wilderness of naval wants."

Foote's long report revealed some of these problems.  A large problem was outfitting and manning his ships.  However, these problems often accompany the transition from a peace to war economy.

--Old B-R'er

155 Years Ago, January 11, 1862: Engagement on the Mississippi River

JANUARY 11TH, 1861:  The USS Essex, Commander W.D. Porter, and USS St. Louis, Lt. Leonard Spalding, engaged Confederate gunboats in a running fight on the Mississippi River, near Lucas Bend, Missouri.

The Confederates withdrew under the protecting batteries of Columbus.

--Old B-Runner

155 Years Ago, January 10, 1862: Diversionary Moves At Fort Henry

JANUARY 10TH, 1862:  Flag Officer Foote's gunboats convoyed General Grant's troops as diversionary moves were begun a short distance down the Mississippi and later up the Tennessee to prevent a Confederate build-up of strength at Fort Henry.

--Old B-Runner

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

155 Years Ago, January 10, 1862-- Part 2: How to Save the USS Congress In Case the CSS Virginia Attacks It

Goldsborough ordered tugs Dragon and Zouave to remain constantly in company with USS Congress and Cumberland, "so as to tow them to advantageous position in case of an attack from the Merrimack or any other quarter."

However, at this date -- two months before the historic engagements at Hampton Roads -- Union naval commanders were seeking a defense against the powerful Confederate ironclad.

Commander William Smith, captain of the ill-fated Congress, had said earlier, "I have not yet devised any plan to defend us against the Merrimack, unless," he added, "it be with hard knocks."

--Old B-R'er

155 Years Ago, January 10, 1862-- Part 1: Fear of the Merrimack

JANUARY 10TH, 1862:  Concern continued to grow in the Union fleet as to what preparations should be taken to meet the unfinished ex-Merrimack.

As early as 12 October 1861, Flag Officer Goldsborough had written Secretary of Navy Welles:  "...I am now quite satisfied that ... she will, in all probability, prove to be exceedingly formidable..... Nothing, I think, but very close work can possibly be of service in accomplishing the destruction of the Merrimack, and even of that a great deal may be necessary."

--Old B-Runner

Monday, January 9, 2017

155 Years Ago, January 8, 1862: Strength of the Union Navy

JANUARY 8, 1862:  General Robert E. Lee, confounded by the strength and mobility of the Union Navy, observed:  "Wherever his fleet can be brought no opposition to his landing can be made except within range of our fixed batteries.  We have nothing to oppose to its heavy guns, which sweep over the low banks of this country with irresistable force.

"The farther he can be withdrawn from his floating batteries  the weaker he will become, and lines of defense, covering objects of attack, have been selected with this view."

Their Navy Is Too Strong.  --Old B-Runner

Sunday, January 8, 2017

155 Years Ago, January 9, 1862-- Part 2: New Orleans "Hermetically Sealed"

On 21 December 1861, in Washington, D.C., Farragut had written his wife:  "Keep your lips closed, and burn my letters; for perfect silence is to be observed -- the first injunction of the Secretary.  I am to have the flag in the Gulf and the rest depends upon myself.  Keep calm and silent.  I shall sail in three weeks."

Meanwhile, the tight blockade was causing grave concern in New Orleans.  The Commercial Appeal reported:  "The situation of this port makes it a matter of vast moment to the whole Confederate State that it should be opened to the commerce of the world within the least possible period ... We believe the blockading vessels of the enemy might be driven away and kept away months ago, if the requisite energy had been put forth ....  The blockade has remained and te great port of New Orleans has been hermetically sealed...."

--Old B-R'er

155 Years Ago, January 9, 1862-- Part 1: Farragut Appointed to Command WGBS

JANUARY 9, 1862:  Orders from the Navy Department appointed Flag Officer Farragut to command the Western Gulf Blockading Squadron, flagship USS Hartford, then at Philadelphia.  The bounds of the command extended from West Florida to the Rio Grande, but a far larger purpose than even the important function of the blockade lay in Farragut's appointment.

Late in 1861 the administration had made a decision that would have fateful results in the war.  The full list of senior officers in the Navy was reviewed for a commander for an enterprise of the first importance -- the capture of New Orleans, the South's "richest and most populous city," and the beginning of the drive of sea-based power up the Father of Waters (Mississippi River) to meet General Grant who would soon begin moving southward behind the spearhead of armored gunboats.

And, David Glasgow Farragut was that man.

--Old B-Runner

Saturday, January 7, 2017

155 Years Ago, January 7, 1862: Heading for Roanoke Island

JANUARY 7TH, 1862:  General McClellan's orders to Brigadier General Burnside illustrated the Army's reliance on strength afloat:  "...you will after uniting with Flag-Officer Goldsborough at Fort Monroe, proceed under his convoy to Hatteras Inlet ... [the] first point of attack will be Roanoke Island and its dependencies.

"It is presumed that the Navy can reduce the batteries ... and cover the landing of your troops ...."

McClellan  also detailed the Army's follow-up operations in conjunction with the gunboats at Fort Macon, New Bern and Beaufort.

--Old B-Runner