Fort Fisher

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

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

New Orleans Surrenders-- Part 2: A Major Blow to the Confederacy

With the rapid capitulation of Forts Jackson and St. Philip, the delta of the Mississippi was open to the water-borne movement of Union forces which were free to steam upriver to join those coming south in the great pincer which would sever the Confederacy/

"Thus," reported Union Secretary of Navy Welles, "the great southern depot of the trade of the immense central valley of the Union was once more opened to commercial intercourse and the emporium of that wealthy region was restored to national authority; the mouth of the Mississippi was under our control and an outlet for the great West to the ocean was secured."

The only problem, however, was that the Confederacy still held vital points along the river, and until they were captured, the Union didn't control the whole river, but this was a big step.

And, the North now had quite the Naval Hero in Farragut.

--Old B-Runner

April 25, 1862: New Orleans Surrenders-- Part 1

APRIL 25, 1862:  Flag Officer Farragut's fleet, having silenced Confederate batteries at Chalmette en route, anchored before New Orleans.  High water in the river allowed the ships' guns to dominate the city over the levee top.

Captain Bailey went ashore to demand the surrender.  The Common Council of New Orleans resolved that:  "...having been advised by the military authorities that the city is indefensible, [we] declare that no resistance will be made to the forces of the United States."

The loss of New Orleans, the largest and wealthiest seaport in the South, was a critical blow to the Confederacy.

And, now, They Take Down their Confederate Monuments.  --Old B-Runner

Monday, April 24, 2017

Farragut Runs Past Forts Jackson and St. Philip-- Part 2

APRIL 24TH, 1864:  The USS Varuna was rammed by two Confederate ships and sunk.  In the ensuing melee, the CSS Warrior, Stonewall Jackson, General Lovell, and Breckinridge, tender Phoenix, steamers Star and Belle Algerine and Louisiana gunboat General Quitman were destroyed.

The armored ram CSS Manassas was driven ashore by the USS Mississippi and sunk.  Steam tenders CSS Landis and W. Burton surrendered; Resolute and Governor Moore were destroyed to prevent capture.

"The destruction of the Navy at New Orleans," wrote Confederate Secretary of Navy Mallory, "was a sad, sad blow...."

When the Union Navy passed the forts and disposed of the Confederate forces afloat, the fate of New Orleans was decided.  Farragut had achieved a brilliant victory, one which gave true meaning to Farragut's own words:  "The great man in our country must not only plan but execute."

He Sure Did.  Now, On the Anniversary of This, the Confederate monuments in New Orleans Begin to Come Down.  A Double Sad Day in New Orleans History.  --Old B-R'er

April 24, 1862: Farragut Runs Past Forts Jackson and St. Philip-- Part 1

APRIL 24TH, 1862:  Flag Officer Farragut's fleet ran past Forts Jackson and St. Philip and engaged the defending Confederate flotilla.  At 2:00 a.m., the USS Hartford had shown Farragut's signal for the fleet to get underway in three divisions to steam through the breach in the obstructions which had been opened earlier by the USS Pinola and Itasca.

A withering fire from the forts was answered by roaring broadsides from the forts.  The Hartford grounded in the swift current by Fort St. Philip, was set afire by a Confederate firecraft.  Farragut's leadership and the disciplined training of the crew saved the flagship.

A Sad Day for the Confederacy.  April Was Not a Nice Month.  --Old B-Runner

Friday, April 21, 2017

April 23, 1862: News From Fort Jackson Under Bombardment

APRIL 23RD, 1862:  Brigadier General Duncan, the commander of Fort Jackson, wrote General Lowell in New Orleans:  "Heavy and continued bombardment all night, and still progressing.  No further casualties, except two men slightly wounded.

"God is certainly protecting us.  We are still cheerful, and have an abiding faith in our ultimate success.  We are making repairs as best we can.  Our barbette guns are still in working order.  Most of them have been disabled at times.

"The health of the troops continues good.  twenty-five thousand [actually about five thousand] XIII-inch shells have been fired by the enemy, thousands of which fell in the fort.  They must soon exhaust themselves; if not, we can stand it as long as they can."

Getting near the End, Though.  --Old B-R'er

April 22, 1862: Action At Aransas Pass, Texas

APRIL 22ND, 1862:  Two boats from the USS Arthur, Acting Lt. Kittredge, captured a schooner and two sloops at Aransas Pass, Texas, but were forced to abandon the prizes and their own boats when attacked by Confederate vessels and troops.

Always Seems It Should Be Arkansas Pass To Me.  --Old B-Runner

Clearing the New Orleans Obstructions-- Part 2

Farragut continued:  "They let the chain go, but the man sent to explode the petard did not succeed; his wires broke.  Bell would have burned the hulks, but the illumination would have given the enemy a chance to destroy his gunboat, which had got aground.

"However, the chain was divided and it gives us space enough to go through."

Preparing to Attack.  --Old B-R'er

April 21, 1862: Farragut Writes About His Delay In Attacking New Orleans-- Part 1

APRIL 21ST, 1862:  Flag Officer Farragut explained the delay in the attack on New Orleans:  "We have been bombarding the forts for three or four days, but the current is running so strong that we cannot stem it sufficiently to do anything with our ships, so that I am now waiting a change of wind, which brings a slacker tide, and we shall be enabled to run up....

"Captain Bell went last night to cut the chain across the river.  I never felt such anxiety in my life as I did until his return.  One of his vessels got on shore, and I was fearful she would be captured.  They kept up a tremendous fire on him; but Porter diverted their fire with a heavy cannonade."

--Old B-Runner

Thursday, April 20, 2017

USS Maria J. Carlton-- Part 2: Sunk Near Fort Jackson on the Mississippi River

The Maria J. carlton was assigned to the mortar flotilla at New Orleans and got underway for that spot in mid-February.  It ran into a heavy gale off Cape Hatteras which carried away the ship's mainmast, rigging and sails.  It arrived at station 18 March 1862.

It operated in the 2nd Division of Porter's Mortar Flotilla.

On the second day of the mortar bombardment, April 19, 1862, a Confederate shell struck her magazine and tore a large hole in the ship's bottom and it quickly sank.

Two crew members were wounded.

--Old B-R'er

April 20, 1862: Union Ships Breach Fort Jackson Obstructions

APRIL 20TH, 1862:  The USS Itasca, Lt. Caldwell, and USS Pinola, Lt. Crosby, under the direction of Commander Bell, breached the obstructions below Forts Jackson and St. Philip under heavy fire, opening the way for Flag Officer Farragut's fleet.

Brigadier General Johnson K. Duncan, CSA, commanding the forts, complained that the River Defense Fleet had sent no fire rafts down "to light up the river or distract the attention of the enemy at night" and had stationed no ship below top warn of the approach of the Itasca and Pinola.

This lack of coordination proved most costly to the Confederacy.

--Old B-Runner

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

USS Maria J. Carlton-- Part 1: Mortar Boat

From Wikipedia.

I had never heard of this ship before.  In the last post I wrote that this ship was sunk while engaged with Fort Jackson guarding New Orleans.

The Maria J. Carlton was a schooner acquired by the U.S. Navy and used as a mortar boat, fitted with a 13-inch mortar and two 12-pdr. rifled howitzers.  It was 178 tons, 98 feet long and 27-foot beam.

Mortars could fire up and above a target instead of directly at it..

It was purchased at Middletown, Ct. on 15 October 1861 and converted at New York Navy Yard.  Commissioned 29 January 1862 with Acting master Charles E. jack commanding.

--Old B-R'er

April 19, 1862: Union Mortar Boat Maria J. Carlton Sunk

APRIL 19TH, 1862:  Mortar schooner USS Maria J. Carlton, Acting Master Charles E. Jack, bombarding Fort Jackson, was sunk by Confederate fire.

Commander Bell observed that the Confederate guns were being worked "beautifully and with effect."

--Old B-Runner

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Major William C. Clemens At Fort Fisher-- Part 4: With Lincoln in Richmond

Major Clemens was one of four men guarding President Lincoln when he visited Richmond, Virginia, shortly after the fall of the Confederate capital.

In a letter written after Lincoln's assassination, Clemens wrote:  "Here it is!  Here it is!  I can hardly realize the fact that the president is dead, as it has only been a few days since I had the pleasure of entering Richmond with him and passing as he did safely through the city without any protection whatever."

After the war, he was a bookkeeper for the Lehigh Valley Coal Company.  He died June 2, 1894 in Pottsville, Pennsylvania and is buried in the Church of Brethern Cemetery in Germantown, Philadelphia County.

--Old B-R'er

April 18, 1862: Mortar Boats Open Fire on Fort Jackson

APRIL 18TH, 1862:  Union mortar boats under Commander D.D, Porter, began a five-day bombardment of Fort Jackson.  Moored some 3,000 yards from the fort, they concentrated their heavy shells, some weighing up to 285 pounds, for six days and nights at the nearest fort from which they were hidden by intervening woods.

The garrison heroically endured the fire and stuck to their guns.

--Old B-Runner

Monday, April 17, 2017

Major William C. Clemens at Fort Fisher-- Part 3: "We Have Possession"

Continuing with Major Clemens' letter from Fort Fisher.

"...At daylight we, that is the navy, commenced shelling the Fort and after a vigorous shelling until about two o'clock the troops as well as a force of sailors and marines made an assault upon the works..

"The advance was badly cut up whilst the sailors and canals were driven back with heavy loss but the soldiers kept steadily forward gaining traverse after traverse of the Fort until finally at eleven p.m. the signal was made to me 'Cease firing on the fort as we have possession.'

"The fighting has been severe and hard and many a poor fellow has gone to his last home but we have possession of Fort Fisher but I can not say anything about the balance of the works beyond although it is natural to suppose that it is all a victory."

Word From the Front.  --Old B-Runner