Fort Fisher

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

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Care for Wounded Confederates on Wilmington & Weldon Railroad-- Part 2

"We are informed that the connection at Weldon (where the soldiers are transferred from the Virginia railroad) is so close, that little opportunity is given for bestowing upon the soldiers the attention they so much need.  We think, however, from what we have heard, that something in the arrangements might be considerably improved with a slight expenditure of additional attention.

"We know the people along the line--at least we think we do, and we believe they are as much devoted to the cause, and as willing to do all that can be done for the suffering soldiers as any people in the Confederacy.  If there be  any want unsupplied, any omission made, it is only necessary that it should be pointed out to them."

These soldiers would be among the many casualties from U.S. Grant's Overland Campaign in Virginia.

--Old B-Runner

Care for Wounded Confederates on Wilmington & Weldon Railroad-- Part 1

From the UNC Library Civil War Day By Day blog.  From an editorial in the Wilmington (N.C.) Daily Journal, June 11, 1864.

The Wilmington & Weldon railroad, besides being a major conduit of supplies from Wilmington (run through the blockade) and the state to Virginia, was also used for movement of troops and casualties.  This was about the care the wounded coming from Virginia might receive.

"The time at which a train from Weldon (by the Virginia border) to Wilmington passes the most important points on the Railroad, renders it almost impossible for the wounded soldiers to receive the attention which would not other wise be withheld from them.

"As, for instance, we understand that a train which reaches Wilmington at 9 or 9 1/2 a.m., passes Goldsboro about 2 a.m., Warsaw and Magnolia about 4 1/2 or 5 a.m., hours at which ladies could hardly venture out."

What to Do.  --Old B-R'er

USS Violet

Some more info on the ship sunk by the Cape Fear River in Wilmington, N.C..  From Civil War Shipwrecks.

The wreckage of the tug USS Violet was probably removed to 22-feet below mean sea level by the Army Corps of Engineers in 1893 as a navigation hazard.

Information on the sinking of it in ORN Vol. 10, pages 343-344, Series 2 1:233.

--Old B-Runner

Monday, September 22, 2014

Welles Orders Porter to North Atlantic Blockading Squadron for the Wilmington Expedition

On the same day Welles lauded Farragut, he wrote Rear Admiral Porter: "Rear Admiral Farragut was assigned to command the North Atlantic Squadron on the 5th instant, but the necessity of rest on the part of that distinguished officer renders it necessary that he should come immediately North.

"You will, therefore, on receipt of this order consider yourself detached from the command of the Mississippi Squadron...and relieve Acting Rear Admiral Lee in command of the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron."

Thus, because of Farragut's poor health, Porter was given the opportunity to prepare and lead the massive assault against the South's most important remaining seaport.

--Old B-R'er

Welles Lauds the Service of Farragut

SEPTEMBER 22, 1864:

Upon learning that Farragut's health prevented him from command of the forthcoming operations against Wilmington, Secretary Welles paid eloquent tribute to the Admiral and his accomplishments:  "In accordance with the view of the department and the universal wish of the country, the orders of the 5th instant (September 5, 1864) were given to you; but a life so precious must not be thrown away  by failing to heed the monitions which the greatest powers of physical endurance receive as a warning to rest.

"The country wi;; again call upon you, perhaps, to put the finishing blow to the rebellion."

The distinguished Admiral's service in the Civil War was over, but not before he had achieved a permanent place among the greatest naval heroes of all time.  From New Orleans to port Hudson to Mobile Bay, David Glasgow Farragut, first Admiral in the U.S. Navy, had shown the leadership, courage, intelligence, and devotion to duty which have ever since been shining examples for all who are privileged to serve the Nation at sea.

A Great One.  --Old B-Runner

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Blockade-Runner Beauregard-- Part 2

Continued from Wednesday's blog entry.

The ship is traditionally known as the General Beauregard or just Beauregard, named after the Confederate hero of Fort Sumter, Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard.

It is a well-known site as the shipwreck can be seen at low tide off the Southern Extension of Carolina Beach.  (My grandparents had a beach cottage right in front of it before Hurricane Hazel in 1954.  So, I know it well."

The wreck's steam machinery is intact with paddle-wheel shaft and hull remaining in place.  Cooling tanks, grated cargo hatches, water tanks, a large rectangular aft boiler, bollards and a davit exist at the site.

Both bow and aft sections are broken, but removed from the wreck and are mostly covered with sand.

Smaller artifacts have been recovered, but no major salvage attempts have been made.

--Old B-Runner.

Blockade-Runner Edith Became the CSS Chickamauga

The blockade-runner Edith became the Confederate raider CSS Chickamauga, which the Union was fearing in September 1864, would make a run along the North's Atlantic Coast and wreak havoc and destruction as the CSS Tallahassee had done earlier.

It was specially commissioned and built in London and purchased by the Confederate government in 1864.

The 585-ton cruiser was constructed as the blockade-runner Edith in London in 1863 and ran the blockade into Wilmington, N.C., where it was purchased and refitted as a warship and commissioned as the CSS Chickamauga under the command of Lt. John Wilkinson, CSN.

It operated as a raider in the Atlantic during October and November 1864, capturing several Union merchant ships before returning to Wilmington where it remained until it was burned to prevent capture 25 February 1865.

--Old B-R'er

Blockade-Runner Elsie

I have written about the capture of this ship several times already month.  Some more information from the Clyde Blockade-Runners Camp 2168, Sons of Confederate Veterans, England.

The Elsie was built by John Scott & Sons of Greenock, Scotland.

Other blockade-runners built by them:

Flora II

The Elsie is considered as one of the Clyde blockade-runners.

--Old B-Runner

Friday, September 19, 2014

Confederate Activity on Lake Erie-- Part 2

John Yates Beall and his 19 men came aboard the Philo Parsons as passengers, but soon seized the steamer and took her to Middle Bass Island, between Detroit and Sanduskey.  While there, Beall was approached by the unsuspecting steamer Island Queen, which he quickly captured and burned.

He then landed the passengers and cargoes of the two ships and proceeded with his improvised warship to Sanduskey.

Meanwhile, Commander J.C. carter of the USS Michigan discovered what Charles Cole was up to and had him and his assistant arrested.  As Beall and his men approached, the pre-arranged signals were not made.  Confronted with this development, Beall and his men reluctantly, but wisely abandoned their part in the plan and took the Philo Parsons to Sandwich, Canada, where they stripped the ship and burned it.  They then dispersed.

--Old B-R'er

Confederate Activity on Lake Erie-- Part 1

SEPTEMBER 19TH, 1864:  Confederates under Acting Master John Yates Beall captured and burned steamers Philo Parsons and Island Queen, on Lake Erie.  Captain Charles H. Cole, CSA, a Confederate secret agent in the Lake Erie region, conceived the plan and received assistance from Jacob Thompson, Southern agent in Canada, and the daring Beall.

The plan was for Cole to aid in the capture of the iron sidewheeler USS Michigan, which was then guarding the Confederate prisoners on Johnson's Island, near Sanduskey, Ohio, by befriending her officers and attempting to bribe them.

Beall was to approach with a captured steamer from the mouth of Sanduskey Bay and board the Michigan, after which the prisoners would be released and the whole force would embark on a guerrilla expedition along the lake.

--Old B-Runner

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Boat Expedition to Masonboro Inlet, N.C.

SEPTEMBER 19, 1864:  A boat expedition commanded by Acting Ensign Elamson Semon in the USS Niphon, landed at Masonboro Inlet, North Carolina, to gain intelligence on the defenses of Wilmington and the strength of its garrison.

In planning for the forthcoming attack on Wilmington, Semon also learned the raider Tallahassee was at Wilmington, along with several blockade-runners.

Getting Ready.  --Old B-R'er

Mallory to Maffitt: Destroy That Blockade-Runner If You Must

SEPTEMBER 19TH, 1864:  150 Years Ago.

Secretary of the Navy, in a telegram to Commander Maffitt in Wilmington, N.C., gave his orders regarding the new Confederate-owned blockade runners:  "It is of the first importance that our steamers should not fall into the enemy's hands.  Apart from the specific loss sustained by the country in the capture of the blockade runners, these vessels, lightly armed, now constitute the fleetest and most efficient part of his blockading force off Wilmington....

"As commanding officer of the Owl you will please devise and adopt thorough and efficient means for saving all hands and destroying the vessel and cargo whenever these measures may become necessary to prevent capture."

Indeed, as I continue making these 150-years-ago entries from "The Civil War Naval Chronology" and doing further research on captures, I keep coming across all sorts of former blockade-runners now serving in the Union navy.

The Best Way to Catch a Blockade-Runner Is to Use a Former Blockade-Runner.  --Old B-Runner

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Blockade-Runner Beauregard-- Part 1

From the Cape Fear Civil War Shipwrecks District, NRHP, Site."0001 CBB. Beauregard."

The blockade-runner Beauregard also was known by the names General Beauregard and originally was the blockade-runner Havelock.

It was built in Glasgow, Scotland in 1858 and saw use as a coastal ferry boat until it was converted into a blockade-runner in early 1863.

An iron sidewheel steamer, it was 223-feet long with a 26 1/2-foot beam and a draft was 7'6".

The Beauregard was running into New Inlet on its 17th trip when it was boxed off by the blockaders and deliberately run ashore and destroyed.  There are no reports of salvage.

--Old B-R'er

Shipwrecks in the Cape Fear Civil War Shipwrecks District

* denotes a blockade-runner


Modern Greece*
CSS Raleigh
Unknown vessel
USS Louisiana
USS Aster
Stormy Petrel*


USS Iron Age


(Not sure why the Beauregard isn't in this unit as it is off Carolina Beach's Southern Extension.)


Wold Dayrell*
USS Peterhoff

--Lots of Ships.  --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Confederates Buy the Sea King (Which Became the Famed Raider CSS Shenandoah)

SEPTEMBER 16TH, 1864:  Commander Bulloch wrote Secretary Mallory from Liverpool:  "The loss of the Alabama occurred just at a time when the financial condition of the Navy Department began to improve and ...I took immediate steps to look up a successor.

"I now have the satisfaction of informing you of the purchase of a fine composite ship ship, built for the Bombay trade, and just returned from her first voyage.  She is 1,160 tons builder's measurement, classed A-1...frames, beams, etc., of iron, but planked from keel to gunwhale with East Indian teak....

"My broker has had her carefully examined by one of Lloyd's inspectors, who pronounced her a capital ship in every respect.... The log of the ship shows her to be a fast sailor with canvas, for with screw up, she has made 330 miles in 24 hours by observation."

Bulloch was describing the steamer Sea King, a ship which would become renowned as the raider CSS Shenandoah.

He also informed Mallory that contracts had been let for the torpedo boats which the secretary had ordered two months before.

Things Looking Up in Europe.  --Old B-R'er