Fort Fisher

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

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

155 Years Ago: CSS Sumter Runs Blockade Off Mississippi River

JUNE 30TH, 1861:  The CSS Sumter, Commander Raphael Semmes, ran the blockade at the mouth of the Mississippi River and escaped to sea through Pass a l Outre, eluding the USS Brooklyn, whereupon the crew "gave three hearty cheers for the flag of the Confederate States, thus ... thrown to the breeze on the high seas by a ship of war."

This launched Semmes' famous career as a commerce raider.

**  USS Reliance, Lt. Mygatt, seized and destroyed the sloop Passenger in the Potomac River.

Semmes At Sea, Welles Worst Nightmare Come True.  --Old B-Runner

155 Years Ago: Northern Steamer St. Nicholas Seized in Undercover Operation

JUNE 28TH-29TH, 1861:  The side-wheel steamer St. Nicholas, making a scheduled run between Baltimore and Georgetown, D.C., was captured by Confederates who had boarded her posing as passengers at the steamer's various stopping points on the Potomac River.

The Confederates were led by Captain George H. Hollins, CSN, who took command of the St. Nicholas, and Colonel Richard Thomas, CSA, who boarded disguised as a woman.  The St. Nicholas then began a search for the USS Pawnee, but, not finding her, put into the Chesapeake Bay where she seized the schooners Margaret and May Pierce and the brig Monticello the following day, June 29..

A Bit of Undercover Work.  --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

155 Years Ago: Privateer Jefferson Davis Sails from Charleston, A Need for Coaling Stations

JUNE 28TH, 1861:  Confederate privateer Jefferson Davis, former slaver Echo, Captain Louis M. Coxetter, sailed from Charleston; later made numerous captures of Union ships along the coast, and caused much consternation.

**  Captain Du Pont, Chairman of the Blockade Strategy Board, wrote:  "The order we received ... set forth ... the selection of two ports, one in South Carolina, another in the confines of Georgia and Florida, for coal depots ... it seems impossible to supply the blockading fleet with coal without these depots."

--Old B-Runner

Monday, June 27, 2016

155 Years Ago: Action on the Potomac River

JUNE 27, 1861:  The USS Thomas Freeborn, Commander Ward,  USS Reliance, Acting Lt. Jared P.K. Mygatt, with two boats from the USS Pawnee, Commander Rowan, attacked Confederate forces at Mathias Point, Virginia.  Commander Ward was killed in the action.

Naval actions at Mathias Point, Aquia Creek, and elsewhere caused Admiral D.D. Porter to later observe of these early operations on the Potomac and Chesapeake:  "... the country was too busy watching the black clouds gathering in the South and West to note the ordinary events that were taking place on the Potomac, yet they formed the small links in the chain, which in the end, shackled the arms of the great rebellion."

**  The USS Resolute, Acting Master W. Budd, burned a Confederate supply depot on Virginia shore of the Potomac River.

--Old B-Runner

155 Years Ago: Blockade Strategy Board Meets

JUNE 27TH, 1861:  The Blockade Strategy Board met under the chairmanship of Captain Du Pont and included as members Commander Charles H. Davis, USN, Major John Bernard, U.S. Corps of Engineers and Professor Alexander D. Bache, Superintendent U.S. Coast Survey., to consider and report on the major problems of the blockade and to plan amphibious operations to seize vital bases on the Southern coast.

Recommendations made by the Blockade Strategy Board, an early example of "Joint Staff," had a profound effect on the course of the conflict and pointed the way to the successful naval actions at Hatteras Inlet, Port Royal and New Orleans.  The broad policies of the Board early set forth were essentially followed to the culmination at Appomattox.

--Old B-Runner

Friday, June 24, 2016

Civil War Program Set for Saturday at Fort Fisher State Historic Site

From the June 20. 2016, Wilmington (NC) Star-News by Ben Steelman.

The summer Civil War artillery program will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday.  It is called "Fire, Smoke, and Deadly showers of Cast Iron: Artillery at Fort Fisher.

Period pieces will be fired throughout the day, including a replica 12-pd Napoleon cannon.  Costumed interpreters will explain artillery drills and military equipment and tours will be given around the surviving earthworks.

Local historian Jeff Tyndall will speak about the Civil War home front in eastern North Carolina at 2 p.m. in the visitors center.

The program is free and open to the public and made possible by the Friends of Fort Fisher, to which I belong.

Ready, Aim, Fire!  --Old B-Runner

Kids Activities Every Friday at Fort Fisher

From the June 17, 2016, WWAY TV ABC.

There will be cannon demonstrations every Friday at the fort from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m..  This is geared for kids, but adults will also enjoy it.  It has been found that today's kids know very little of the fort's history.

Also, tomorrow, the 18th, the Fort will begin its summer "Beat the Heat" Summer lecture series will begin.  I was in the state Saturday, but otherwise busy.

--Old B-R'er

155 Years Ago: Confederates Building "Infernal Submarine Vessel" at New Orleans

JUNE 24TH, 1861:  USS Pawnee, Commander Rowan, and the USS Tomas Freeborn, Commander Ward, shelled Confederate batteries at Matthias Point, Virginia.

JUNE 25TH, 1861:  Secretary of Navy Welles received a report that "the rebels in New Orleans are constructing an infernal submarine vessel to destroy the USS Brooklyn, or any vessel blockading the mouth of the Mississippi ... a projectile with a sharp iron or steel pointed prow to perforate the bottom of the vessel and then to explode."

It was also reported that "a formidable  floating battery [is] being built at Mobile, to be mounted with large guns of immense size and range to drive away or capture the ships, by engaging them at long range."

JUNE 26TH, 1861:  The USS Minnesota, Flag Officer Stringham, captured bark Sally Magee off Hampton Roads.

--Old B-Runner

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Long-Lost Blockade-Runner Agnes E. Fry Found-- Part 4: Using 3-D Sonar

The Charlotte, N.C. Fire Department has volunteered its services to examine the shipwreck.  Very experienced special operations divers will bring their 3-D sonar which is ideal for use in poor water conditions.

The divers will go to the bottom, set up a tripod which will send out sound waves and use high-speed computers to convert the information.

The archaeologists wonder what kind of cargo was left on the ship when it ran aground.  They know that very little was taken off as the crew abandoned ship very quickly.  Plus, with the second and final attack on Fort Fisher just a few weeks ago, it is doubtful that the Confederates were able to salvage much and Union naval forces would be too busy preparing for the attack.  Plus, the war was nearly over at the time.

The fort's commander, Col. William Lamb wrote in a letter asking specifically about the whereabouts of the wreck of the Agnes E. Fry.  Today's archaeologists want to know why he was so interested.

Perhaps They Will Find Out.  --Old B-R'er

155 Years Ago:USS Merrimack Begins Reconstruction as Ironclad CSS Virginia

JUNE 23RD, 1861:  The Confederate Navy began reconstruction of the ex-USS Merrimack as the ironclad CSS Virginia in Norfolk, Virginia.

**  USS Massachusetts, Commander M. Smith, captured Mexican schooner Brilliant with cargo of flour, and Confederate schooners Trois Freres, Olive Branch, Fanny and Basile in the Gulf of Mexico.

A Busy Day for the USS Massachusetts.  Lots of Prize Money.  Old B-Runner

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Long-Lost Blockade-Runner Agnes E. Fry Found-- Part 3

Continued from June 10, 2016.

When the wreck was first found, divers went down but the water was actually black with tannins from trees upriver.  "Imagine sticking your face in a cup of black coffee and opening your eyes," said archaeologist Billy Ray Morris.

With this upcoming sonar scan which uses sector scan sonar, images will be 3-D.

Also, people are offering their services as word of the discovery gets out.  The great-great granddaughter of the Agnes E. Fry's chief engineer says she has a journal written by him describing the night the ship went aground.

--Old B-Runner

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

A Magazine to Check Out: Civil War Navy Magazine

I came across this in the Civil War Talk site.

Being a diet-in-the-wool Civil War Navy nut. this is definitely a magazine of interest for me.    They are on Volume 3 Issue 3 and printed four times a year.

This issue had stories about the CSS Georgia recovery, the USS Roanoke and Semmes of the Alabama.

Definitely one to look into.

--Old B-Runner

Monday, June 20, 2016

Carolina Beach Town Hall (NC) Gets Historic Fort Fisher Exhibits-- Part 2

Continued from June 10, 2016.

The Friends  of Fort Fisher were determined to get the exhibits back, but all of these dioramas were inserts, which means they had to be in cabinets.

The cost was between $8,000 and $10,000 and four cases were delivered to the town hall and one to the National Guard Training Facility.

The displays officially opens Tuesday night, June 14th, right before the town council meeting.

Some of the exhibits:

A blockade-runner running the blockade, building Fort Fisher,  Hebe incident when the blockade-runner Hebe ran aground and the Whitworth Flying Battery was used and, the capture of Fort Fisher.

--Old Secesh

Saturday, June 18, 2016

155 Years Ago: Confederate Ships Seized

JUNE 17TH,  1861:  The USS Massachusetts, Commander M. Smith, captured schooner Achilles, near Ship Island, Mississippi.

JUNE 18TH, 1861:  The USS Union, Commander J.R. Goldsborough, captured Confederate blockade runner Amelia at Charleston with cargo of contraband from Liverpool.

--Old B-Runner


155 Years Ago: USS Massachusetts Captures Blockade Runner

JUNE 19TH, 1861:  USS Massachusetts, Commander M. Smith, captured blockade running brig Nahum Stetson off Pass a L'Outre, Louisiana.

--Old B-Runner