Fort Fisher

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

Monday, November 23, 2015

150 Years Ago: Welles Reestablishes the West India Squadron

DECEMBER 4, 1865:  Secretary Welles announced that the West India Squadron was to be reestablished in that area "where we have so large a trade, and where, owing to the proximity of the islands to our shores, it is essential that we cultivate friendly relations."

Commodore James S. Palmer was designated to command this squadron with the USS Rhode Island serving as his flagship.  The eight additional vessels comprising the squadron were: USS  De Soto, Swatara, Monongahela, Florida, Augusta, Shamrock, Ashuelot,  and Monocacy.

--Old B-R'er

The End of the CSS Shenandoah-- Part 2

The CSS Shenandoah was put up for auction and purchased by the Sultan of Omar and Zanzibar and renamed Majidi.  Following repairs she went to Zanzibar and was home ported at Stone Harbour. and was originally used as the Sultan's personal yacht for a number of years sailing between ports in Zanzibar and Oman.  Eventually she also began carrying coal, clover and gum as a merchant ship.

In early April 1972, while at anchor in Stone Harbour, a tremendous storm struck the coast of Zanzibar.  More than a hundred ships were blown ashore and the Majidi was one of them.  The ship was refloated, but had heavy damage to her hull and decking.  Pumped dry, it was towed to Bombay by the British Salvage Company.

The ship returned to service in July 1872, she sailed with a German captain and native crew; but after departing Stone Harbour on her first voyage, she vanished.  It was several weeks before the HMS Briton was reported to have recovered several survivors adrift from the ship in the Mozambique Channel.  The captain of the Briton said some of the survivors accused the German captain of deliberately running the Majidi aground and was ordered to allow a German shipbuilding company to offer a replacement vessel.

The wreck of the former cruiser CSS Shenandoah is still out there, on a reef somewhere in the Mozambique Channel.

Maybe Mr. Ballard should start looking for it.

--Old B-Runner

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Liverpool's Herculaneum Dock

From Wikipedia.

In the previus post, I maentioned that the CSS Shenandoah was taken to the Herculaneum Dock.

The Herculaneum Dock is at the southern end of the Liverpool dock system on the River Mersey.  It was named after the Herculaneum Pottery Company which occupied the site from 1794-1841.

The dock was built starting in 1864, designed by George Fosbery Lyster and opened in 1866.

During World War II it served as a terminus for the North Atlantic Convoys.

It is no longer a dock.

They were classified as graving docks (and had three of them).  A graving dock is another name for a drydock.

--Old B-R'er

The End of the CSS Shenandoah-- Part 1: Visited by Waddell

From the November/December Confederate Veteran Magazine "The CSS Shenandoah" by Ian Dewar, President of 290 Foundation (BVI), Inc.  I have written about the organization earlier.

The article covered the ship's whole career and had a map of the world showing the Shenandoah's circumnavigation of it.  I will pick up the story of what happened to the ship after its surrender.

The Shenandoah was then towed to the newly completed dock called Herculaneum to await possession by the U.S. government.  The U.S. consul in Liverpool was ordered to find a crew and captain to sail her back to the U.S.  Captain Freeman from the New York area was hired and he found a crew of 55.

The winter of 1865-1866 was particularly bad with storms and after a month at sea, Freeman was forced to return to Liverpool.  He reported the Shenandoah badly needed repairs and managed to find other things to do rather than attempt another voyage.

The Shenandoah remained in Liverpool until the end of 1866 and was often visited by former commander James Waddell, who had elected to remain in Liverpool (with the fear of being executed in the U.S. for piracy).

--Old B-Runner

Saturday, November 21, 2015

150 Years Ago: Maury Updates Confederate Colonization of Mexico

NOVEMBER 27TH, 1865:  By this date Matthew F. Maury could report that "about 40 of our people" had already arrived at New Virginia, the name he proposed for his colony.  He described it as "a garden spot" between Mexico City and Vera Cruz.

Maury didn't leave for England this month as he had originally planned.  It took longer than he anticipated for him to establish the administrative organization for the emigration program and to get it running smoothly.

He did go to England later and events conspired that he would never return to mexico.

--Old B-Runner

150 Years Ago: Former CSS Stonewall Arrives at Washington Naval Yard

NOVEMBER 23RD, 1865:  Since I won't have the Civil War Naval Chronology book with me the next several weeks, I am going ahead with 150 years ago.

The former Confederate ram Stonewall arrived at the Washington Navy Yard under her own power, escorted by the USS Rhode Island and Hornet.  Commander Alexander Murray, commanding the Rhode Island, had taken possession of the ship in Havana after reimbursing Spanish authorities for all expenses incurred during her detention.

The reimbursement totaled $18,000 which included $16,000 which the Governor General of Cuba had given to Captain T,J. Page, CSN, to pay off his officers and crew, and an additional $2,000 for tug services, dock fees and preservation expenses.

The Stonewall was subsequently sold to Japan and used in her naval service.

--Old B-R'er

Irvine Srephens Bulloch-- Part 2: First and Last to Show Colors in English Waters

He was born in Roswell, Georgia and joined the Confederate States Navy as a midshipman and served on the CSS Nashville in 1861 when it went to England then returned to the Confederacy at Beaufort, N.C.and became the blockade-runner Thomas L. Wragg..

As the Nashville, she was the first to show the Confederate flag in English waters (and later Irvine Bulloch was on the last Confederate ship to show the colors in English waters).  She also was the first commerce raider to destroy a Union merchant ship.  (And the Shenandoah was the last to do so.)

Later the ship became the privateer Rattlesnake until she was destroyed  the monitor USS Montauk by Fort McAllister, Georgia in 1863.

However, Bullock left the ship when it got to Beaufort and was later posted to England for foreign service.  He served with distinction on the CSS Alabama and, according to his nephew, Theodore Roosevelt, fired the last two shots from the doomed cruiser in its battle with the USS Kearsarge.

--Old B-Runner

Friday, November 20, 2015

Irvine Stephens Bulloch-- Part 1: Brother of James Bulloch and Teddy Roosevelt's Uncle

From Wikipedia.

Yesterday I posted about Irvine Bulloch being the officer who boarded the British ship Barracouta who retrieved the newspapers that confirmed that the Confederacy was no more.  I'd never heard of him before, but the last name Bulloch was the same as the Confederate purchasing agent in Liverpool, England, who had bought the Alabama and Shenandoah, James Bulloch.  Could they be related?

June 25, 1842-July 14, 1898

Officer in the Confederate States Navy and the youngest officer on the CSS Alabama.  Fired the last shot from the Alabama before the ship sank.

He was the half brother of James Dunwoody Bulloch, so they were.

Also of interest was that Irvine Bulloch was the full brother of socialite Martha Stewart "Mittie" Bulloch, the mother of future U.S. President Theodore "T.R." Roosevelt and paternal grandmother of First Lady Anna Eleanor Roosevelt.

--Old B-R'er

The Final Confederate Surrender-- Part 2: A Ship Without a Country

The CSS Shenandoah was now a ship without a country.  It returned to Liverpool and surrendered, hauling down the Confederate flag for the last time on November 6, 1865.

The ship had been purchased for use as a Confederate raider in that city in October 1864.  It was originally named the Sea King and sailed the tea lanes to Bombay.  It was taken to madeira and converted to a commerce raider under the command of Lt. James Iredel Waddell.

The ship was forced to dock in Australia for repairs on a balky propeller for there weeks before embarking on a devastating attack on the North's whaling fleet in the Pacific and Arctic oceans.  On June 10, 1865, it captured 10 whalers.

Five days before that, it had captured the Susan Abigail and found newspapers aboard reporting the fall of Richmond and Lee's surrender.  Things looked bad for their country, but they also saw an article about President Davis imploring for Southerners to carry on with the fight.  So they did.

During their cruise, they captured or sank 38 vessels, captured more than 1,000 men and caused $1.6 million in damage.

Once they found the end of the Confederacy was confirmed, they began their 130-day journey back to Liverpool where they surrendered.

The ship was turned over to the United States by the British government and eventually sold to the Sultan of Zanzibar and renaned the El Majidi before it sank in the Indian Ocean in October 1872.

--Old B-Runner

Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Final Confederate Surrender-- Part 1: "Star By Star the Galaxy of Our Flag Had Faded"

From the Nov. 6, 2015, History by Christopher Klein.

On August 2, 1865, the CSS Shenandoah came across a British ship, the bark Barracouta.  Irvine Bulloch, CSN, boarded it and returned with devastating news.  The Confederacy had surrendered, and not recently, but several months earlier.  This was confirmed by newspapers the ship had aboard.

The Shenandoah had been cut off from the outside world as it pillaged the New England whaling fleet in the north Pacific and Arctic oceans.  Some of them had mentioned that the war was over, but that might have just been them trying not to have their ship destroyed.

Now, with it in print, surrender became all too real.

Cornelius Hunt, on the Shenandoah,  sadly wrote:  "Our gallant generals, one after another, had been forced to surrender the armies they had so often led to victory.  State after state had been overrun and occupied by the countless myriads of our enemies.  Star by star the galaxy of our flag had faded, and the Southern Confederacy had ceased to exist."

--Old B-Runner

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Gustavus H. Scott-- Part 4: Fleet Exercise and Retirement

During the Virginius Affair crisis, the United States had ordered that not only the North Atlantic Squadron sail to Key West, Florida, but also the South Atlantic and European squadrons.  All had arrived by 4 February 1874, but by then the crisis was over.

With all those ships gathered in one point, it was decided to hold the first multi-ship, open-ocean tactical exercise in U.S. Navy history.  To avoid problems with who ranked who, Scott was ordered to take his flagship, the USS Worchester on a special cruise to Cuba and the Winward Islands to assess and report on the conditions after the Virginius Affair.

Scott turned over command of the North Atlantic Squadron to Rear Admiral J.R.M. Mullany on 13 June 1874 and retired the same day, having reached mandatory retirement age of 62.

The admiral lived in Washngton, D.C., after that and died 23 March 1882.  He was first buried at Washington's  Oak Hill Cemetery, but in 1896, his remains were exhumed and reburied at Arlington National Cemetery.

--Old B-R'er

Gustavus H. Scott-- Part 3: Postwar Command

Member of the examining board for the admission of volunteer officers to the regular Navy in 1868.  Promoted to commodore 10 February 1869.  Lighthouse inspector 1869-1871.  Promoted to rear admiral 14 February 1873 and given command of the North Atlantic Squadron in May of that year.

He was in command of the North Atlantic Squadron when the Virginius Affair took place in Cuba in November 1873.  The A Spanish warship captured the American sidewheeler SS Virginius which had been hired by Cuban insurrectionists against Spanish rule to bring men and war material to Cuba during the Ten Years' War.

The ship and crew were brought to Santiago de Cuba where they were found guilty of piracy and sentenced to death by firing squad.  Fifty-three were executed before British and American warships arrived and threatened to bombard unless the executions ceased.  They did.

--Old B-Runner

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Gustavus H. Scott-- Part 2: Civil War Service

When the Civil War began, although born in Virginia, he refused to resign his commission and commanded the USS Keystone State. and searched for the Confederate raider CSSSumter.  This was his first command.  Later he joined the West Indies Squadron searching for blockade-runners.

Then he commanded the new gunboat, USS Maratanza and took part in McClellan's Peninsula Campaign.  He captured the CSS Teaser 4 July 1862.

From there he joined the blockade off Wilmington, N.C. 25 September 1862 and at one point fired on Fort Caswell.

Promoted to captain, he took command of the USS DeSoto in the East Gulf Blockading Squadron.  From there,he received command of the USS Canandaigua (the ship that rescued the 150-man crew of the SS Housatonic after it was sunk by the submarine Hunley on Feb. 17, 1864).

He served with the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron until the end of the war and then commanded the USS Saranac of the Pacific Squadron inits search for the Shenandoah.

--Old B-R'er

USS Saranac's Commander, Gustavus H. Scott-- Part 1: Second Seminole War

From Wikipedia.

I read that Gustavus H. Scott commanded the USS Saranac during its search for the CSS Shenandoah.  It turns out he led a long career in the Navy.


US Navy.  Served in the Second Seminole War and the Civil War, eventually rising to the rank of rear admiral and was once the commander of the North Atlantic squadron.

Born in Virginia 13 June 1812.  Midshipman in 1828 and served on the USS Guerriere in the Pacific Squadron.  he was off Charleston, S.C. during the Nullification Crisis of 1832.  On the USS Vandalia 1835-1836.during the Second Seminole War.

First lieutenant on USS St. Lawrence of the Pacific Squadron 1852-1853.  On the USS Michigan in the Great Lakes 1855-1857 and Lighthouse Inspector 1858-1860.

--Old B-Runner

Monday, November 16, 2015

USS Suwanee-- Part 2

The Suwanee was launched at the Philadelphia Navy Yard and commissioned 23 January 1865>  It cost $171,000.

Ordered to the Pacific on 17 February 1865 and went to New York City and then cruised the Atlantic coast looking for Confederate commerce raiders.

It passed around South America and steamed up its Pacific coast and arrived at Acapulco where it joined the Pacific Squadron.  It was promptly ordered to look for the Shenandoah.

On 9 July 1868, it was wrecked in Shadwell Passage, Queen Charlotte Sound, British Columbia.

--Old B-R'er