Fort Fisher

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

Monday, September 1, 2014

USS Violet: Ran Aground and Wrecked

Last month, I wrote about this ship running aground on the night of August 7, 1864 on the shoal off Western Bar of the Cape Fear River by Wilmington, N.C., and ending up a wreck.  I had never heard of his ship before (and consider myself somewhat knowledgeable about the Wilmington area during the war) so had to do some research.

From Wikipedia.

The USS Violet was a 166-ton steamer acquired by the Navy and used as a gunboat, tugboat and torpedo boat.  It was bought 30 December 1862 at New York City and commissioned 29 January 1863 at the New York Navy Yard.

It was 85-feet long, had a 19.9-foot beam and powered by a screw propeller.  Its shallow draft made it an excellent choice for up close work to shore.  It was launched in 1862.
It mounted one 12-pdr., one 12-pdr. rifle and one torpedo.

More to Come.  --Old B-R'er

Back Then-- 1964: Outdoor Drama Planned for Fort Fisher

From the August 2, 2014, Wilmington (NC) Star-News "Back Then."

JULY 17, 1964:  The N.C. Department of Archives and History endorsed a plan by the Southeastern N.C. Beach Association to launch an outdoor drama at Fort Fisher to tell the story of the Civil War fort.

I don't think anything ever came of it as I am sure I'd remember it had they had the drama.

--Old B-Runner

Saturday, August 30, 2014

150 Years Ago-- August 31, 1864: Another Runner Out of Business

AUGUST 31, 1864:  The blockade-running British steamer Mary Bowers ran aground between Rattlesnake Shoals and Long Island, South Carolina and was a total loss.  She was bound for Charleston where, it was reported, she was to load a cargo of cotton bound for Halifax.

--Old B-R'er

More Action on the White River, Arkansas

AUGUST 30TH, 1864:  Even though the major rivers in the West were under Union control, Confederate batteries and troops would set up ambushes at various points and times.  The USS Fawn convoyed Union troops and artillery in the transport Kate Hart on an expedition up the White River from Devall's Bluff, Arkansas.  They were to join General West's  cavalry who were searching for General Shelby's force of Confederate raiders who were operating along the White River.

The Fawn and transport returned to Devall's Bluff on Sept. 2nd and commenced a second foray with a larger force in three more transports.  On Sept. 3rd, above Peach Orchard Bluffs, Confederate batteries opened on the convoy, but the Fawn drove them away.  However, the convoy was unable to proceed further because of low water and scouts and cavalry put ashore to communicate with General West, and returned.

The convoy then returned to Devall's Bluff on Sept. 6th.  Shelby's force continued to elude Union troops and harass shipping along the White River.

--Old B-Runner

Friday, August 29, 2014

Some More on Henry Marmaduke, CSN

Henry Marmaduke received a light wound in the fight with the USS Monitor on March 8, 1862.  His ship, the CSS Virginia, went into battle without its ensign showing Missouri on one of its stars.  (Marmaduke was from Missouri.)

His father, Meredith Miles Marmaduke remained a Unionist and his brother was Confederate General John Sappington Marmaduke.

A Split Family.  Old B-R'er

Henry H. Marmaduke, CSN-- Part 3

In 1865, Marmaduke commanded Confederate batteries on the James River in Virginia and commanded a company in the Navy Brigade after the fall of Richmond.  He was wounded and captured at the Battle of Saylor's Creek.  The end of the war found him as a prisoner on Johnson's Island in Lake Erie.  Two of his brothers were killed in action fighting for the Confederacy.

He spent most of his life after the Civil War in Washington, D.C., part of that time as Superintendent of the  Consular Bureau in South American Republics.  In 1902, the government asked Marmaduke to take command of the warship Bogote and chase rebel ships.  He was very successful and received the thanks of that government.

--Old B-Runner

Thursday, August 28, 2014

More Torpedo Problems at Mobile Bay

AUGUST 29TH, 1864:  While removing Confederate obstructions from the channel leading into Mobile Bay, five sailors were killed and nine others injured when a torpedo exploded.

Farragut regretted the loss, but resolutely pressed on with the work:  "As it is absolutely necessary to free the channel of these torpedoes, I shall continue to remove them, but as every precaution will be used, I do not apprehend any further accident."

Like the loss of the monitor USS Tecumseh, this event demonstrated although that some torpedoes had been made inactive by long immersion, many were very much alive when Farragut made his famous instant decision, "Damn the Torpedoes...."

Farragut Was a Very Lucky Soul That August 5th Day.  --Old B-Runner

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Expedition to North Carolina's Masonboro Inlet

AUGUST 27TH, 1864:  The USS Niphon and USS Monticello conducted an expedition up Masonboro Inlet, N.C., (near Wilmington) to silence a Confederate battery which was reported to have been erected in the vicinity.  The two steamers shelled the shoreline and a number of buildings in Masonboro.

Landing parties went ashore and captured a quantity of rifles, ammunition and foodstuffs.

--Old B-Runner

Farragut Asks to Be Relieved of Duty

AUGUST 27, 1864:  In failing health and with the assault on Mobile delayed indefinitely awaiting adequate troops, Rear Admiral Farragut wrote Secretary Welles requesting to be relieved of duty:  "It is evident that the army has no men to spare for this place beyond those sufficient to keep up an alarm, and thereby make a diversion in favor of General Sherman....

"Now, I dislike to make of show of attack unless I can do something more than make a menace, but so long as I am able I am willing to do the biding of the Department to the best of my abilities.  I fear, however, my health's giving way.

"I have now been down in this Gulf and the Caribbean Sea nearly five years out of six, with the exception of  the short time at home last fall, and the last six months have been a severe drag on me, and I want rest, if it is to be had."

Two months later the great leader set course to the North for a well-deserved leave.  This, however, was to be his last sea duty.

A Well-Deserved Rest.  --Old B-R'er


Henry H. Marmaduke, CSN-- Part 2

The name Marmaduke made me think that there was a Confederate general by that name and there was.  And, that general, John Sappington Marmaduke was one of Henry's brothers.  So, he came from quite an important family as far as notables.

I came across mention of John Marmaduke in the book "Crimsom Confederates: Harvard Men Who Fought for the South" by Helen Trimpi.  It said that John Marmaduke entered Yale in 1851, transferred to Harvard in 1852 and then transferred to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1853 and graduated from there in 1857.

Anyway, back to Henry Marmaduke.  Henry entered the U.S. Naval Academy at age 16.  In 1861, he became a midshipman in the Confederate States Navy and initially served at New Orleans.  In 1862, he was assigned to the new Confederate ironclad ram CSS Virginia where he directed a 14-man gun crew during the famous battle with the USS Monitor.  He was seriously wounded in the battle and was recognized by  the Virginia's commander Franklin Buchanan.

He was later assigned to the CSS Shenandoah and was on the CSS Albemarle when it was sunk by William Cushing in 1864.

--Old B-Runner.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Henry Hungerford Marmaduke, Captain, CSN: Last Survivor of Virginia-Monitor Battle-- Part 1

I have been going through the list of North Carolina Confederates buried at Arlington National Cemetery and came across this man, who, although not from  the state, had an interesting history and since he was in the Confederate Navy, I will write about him here.

Henry Hungerford Marmaduke is regarded as the last surviving participant in the famous battle between the CSS Virginia and USS Monitor.  He died in Washington, D.C., on November 14, 1924, at age 82.  He was interred in the Confederate Section of Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors.

He was born in Saline County, Missouri in 1844, the son of M.M. Marmaduke, the governor of Missouri.  His older brother, John S. Marmaduke was elected Missouri governor in 1884.

And, then, I was thinking that there was a Confederate General by the name Marmaduke.  Was Henry related to him?

--Old B-Runner

Monday, August 25, 2014

CSS Tallahasee Returns to Wilmington

AUGUST 25TH, 1864:  The CSS Tallahassee, Commander Wood, successfully ran the blockade into Wilmington, N.C., after being chased and fired at by several blockading vessels.  Rear Admiral Lee issued orders urging "utmost vigilance" to prevent her from going back out.

In her cruise, cut short by lack of coal, Wood took some 31 prizes, all but eight of which were destroyed.

Job Well Done.  --Old B-R'er

150 Years Ago: Blockade-Runner Lilian Captured Off Wilmington

AUGUST 24TH, 1864:  The USS Keystone State, Commander Peirce Crosby,  and USS Gettysburg, Lt. R.H. Lamson, captured the blockade-runner Lilian off Wilmington with cargo of cotton.  Both ships fired on the Lilian and when she finally hove to she was in sinking condition.

Crosby managed to repair the damage and sent her to Beaufort. She was later purchased by the Union Navy and assigned to the squadron under the same name.

--Old B-Runner

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Fort Morgan Surrenders

AUGUST 23RD, 1864:  Having doggedly withstood naval bombardment as well as a land siege for two weeks, Brigadier General Page surrendered Fort Morgan, the last Confederate bastion in lower Mobile Bay.

"My guns and powder had all been destroyed, my means of defense gone, the citadel, nearly all the quartermaster stores and a portion of the commissariat burned by the enemy's shells," he reported.

"It was evident the fort could hold out but a few hours longer under a renewed bombardment.  The only question was: Hold it for this time, gain the eclat, and sustain the loss of life from the falling of the walls, or save life and capitulate?"

And, sadly, one of the ships mercilessly pounding Fort Morgan was a former defender of it5, the CSS, now USS, Tennessee.

--A Valiant Fight.  --Old B-Runner

Another Union Reconnaissance Up the Roanoke River to Check on the Albemarle

AUGUST 23RD, 1864:  Acting Masters' Mate John Woodman made his second dangerous reconnaissance up the Roanoke River, N.C., to gather intelligence on the CSS Albemarle and the defenses of Plymouth.

Woodman reported:  "At 10 a.m. I arrived on the Roanoke River, opposite Plymouth.  The ram Albemarle was lying alongside of the wharf at Plymouth, protected by timbers, extending completely around her...."

Woodman, who would make yet another reconnaissance mission, gained much vital information upon which Lt. Cushing planned the expedition that ended the Albemarle's service to the Confederacy.

--Old B-R'er