Fort Fisher

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

Thursday, April 24, 2014

CSS Neuse Gets Underway and Aground

APRIL 22ND, 1864: More problems for the Union Navy, well sort of, in North Carolina sounds. The ironclad CSS Neuse, Lt. Benjamin P. Loyall, got underway from Kinston and began steaming downriver to operate on the state's inland waters. //// She grounded in the Neuse River just below Kinston and could not be gotten off. //// General Montgomery D. Corse reported: "I fear she will be materially injured if not floated soon. The water has fallen 7 feet in the last four days and is still falling." //// The Confederates could not float the Neuse and nearly a year later, was burned to prevent capture.

More On the CSS Albemarle

APRIL 21ST, 1864: Lt.Cmdr. William T. Truxton of the USS Tacony wrote Davenport: "The ironclad, from all accounts, is very much like the first Merrimack (CSS Virginia), with a very long and very sharp submerged prow.... The loss of so good a vessel as the Southfield and so valiant a life as that of the brave Flusser should show the impossibility of contending successfully with a heavy and powerful ironclad with nothing but one or two very vulnerable wooden vessels." In other words, definitely contradicting Lee in the previous post. //// --Old B-Runner

The CSS Albemarle Must Be Destroyed

APRIL 21ST, 1864:Rear Admiral Lee emphasized the urgent need to destroy the CSS Albemarle. If not by gunfire, then by torpedo. He wrote Cmdr. Henry K. Davenport, senior officer in the NC sounds: "I propose that two of our vessels should attack the ram, one on each side at close quarters, and drive her roof in. //// The railroad iron will not stand the concussion of our heavy guns... Our vesels must maneuver to avoid being rammed, and once close alongside, there will be no danger of firing into each other.... I think the ram must be weak, and must fail if attacked on the side." //// Definitely a Lot Easier Said Than Done. --Old B-R'er

150 Years Ago-- April 21st, 1864: Capture of USS Petrel

APRIL 21ST, 1864: Union ships attack Yazoo City and came under fire. The USS Petrel was disabled and captured. Confederate Gen. Wirt Adams wrote: I removed her fine armament of eight 24-pounder guns and the most valuable stores and had her burned to the water's edge. //// Boat crews from the USS Ethan Allan landed near Murrell's Inlet, SC and destroyed a large salt work. The Union sailors mixed the 2,000 bushels of salt into the sand and then burned the four salt workds and 30 other buildings. //// Boats from USS Cimmaron destroyed a rice mill and 5,000 bushels of rice stored at Winyah Bay, SC. //// Boat expedition from the USS Sagamore took over 100 bales of cotton and destroyed an additional 300 near Clay Landing, on the Suwannee River, Florida. //// --Old B-Runner

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Attack On Confederate Saltworks at Masonboro Sound, NC

APRIL 21ST, 1864: Boat crews from the USS Howquah, Fort Jackson and Niphon, commanded by Lt. Joseph B. Breck, destroyed Confederate salt works at Masonboro Sound, North Carolina. //// The sailors landed under cover of darkness at 9 PM without being detected. and rapidly demolished the works while taking some 160 prisoners. //// Breck then returned to the ships which were standing by to provide gunfire if necessary. //// Major General W.H.C. Whiting, CSA, noted that the incident demonstrated the necessity of maintaining a guard to protect "these points", and thenceforth there were no salt works constructed at Masonboro Inlet. //// The Union Navy conducted a regular campaign against Southern salt works as the need for salt was critical to the Confederacy and getting in much less supply. //// --Old B-Runner

150 Years Ago-- April 19th, 1864: Another David Attack at Charleston

APRIL 19TH, 1864: A "David" torpedo boat attempted to sink the steam frigate USS Wabash off Charleston, SC. It was the same one which had attacked the USS Memphis on 6 March. It was sighted while still 150 yards off and the Wabash slopped its cable and rapidly got underway, pouring a hail of musket shot at the Confederate ship. When only 40 yards away, the David turned back because of heavy swells that threatened to swamp the low-lying boat. //// APRIL 19TH, 1864: The USS Virginia captured the Mexican blockade-running schooner Alma off the coast of Texas. //// --Old B-R'er

CSS Albemarle at Plymouth, NC-- Part 3,

The sinking of the USS Southfield almost pulled the CSS Albemarle down with it. The ram was eventually able to free itself from the hole it had caused and opened fire on the retreating USS Miami. //// The small steamer USS Ceres and 105-tin tinclad Whitehead moved quickly down the river as well. The shots of the Union ships and shore batteries had been completely ineffective against the Albemarle's iron sides. //// The brave Lt.Cmdr. Flusser had been killed early in the fight. He was highly regarded by all who knew him. //// The CSS Albemarle now controlled the waters around Plymouth and a rare time of Confederate superiority. On April 20th, Plymouth surrendered. ////

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

CSS Albemarle at Plymouth, NC-- Part 2: Sinking the USS Southfield

APRIL 19TH, 1864: Cooke immediately weighed anchor and stood down the river to engage.. Anticipating an attack at Plymouth, Union Lt.Cmdr. Flusser lashed the wooden double-enders USS Miami and Southfield together for mutual protection and to concentrate firepower. //// When the Albemarle arrived, the two Union ships attacked the ram. The Albemarle rammed the Southfield a devastating blow. It was reported that there was a gaping hole clear through to the boiler. Cooke reported his ship had driven ten feet into the side of the Union ship. //// Cooke immediately put his engine into reverse as the Southfield sank, but not soon enough to reply to the cannon fire from the Miami. //// It's Not Over Yet--Old B-Runner

Monday, April 21, 2014

CSS Albemarle at Plymouth, NC-- Part 1

APRIL 19TH, 1864: The ironclad ram CSS Albemarle, Commander Cooke, attacked Union warships at Plymouth, NC, at 3:30 in the morning. It had departed Hamilton on the evening of the 17th. //// While en route "a portion of the machinery broke down" and "the rudderhead broke off," but repairs were promptly made; and despite the navigational hazards of the crooked Roanoke River, Cooke proceeded and anchored above Plymouth at 10 PM on the 18th. //// A planned rendezvous with Confederate troops did not take place, so Cooke sent a small boat to learn the locations of Union vessels and batteries. Shortly before midnight the boat returned and informed him they would be able to pass over enemy onstructions due to the high water in the river. ////

Saturday, April 19, 2014

This Date, 150 Years Ago, The CSS Albemarle Takes On the USS Miami and Southfield

From Wikipedia. //// The much anticipated and feared Confederate ironclad ram CSS Albemarle made its appearance off Plymouth, North Carolina, on this date. And, it definitely was rushed into action, having been launched and commissioned just two days earlier on the 17th. As a matter of fact, work was still ongoing on the ship as it steamed downriver to engage Union vessels. It was part of a joint Army-Navy attack on Union-held Plymouth. The Albemarle was 158 feet long, had a 35.4 foot beam and drew nine feet of water, manned by a crew of 150 and mounted two 6.4 Brooke double-banded rifles for armament. Under the command of Captain James W. Cooke, it sailed down the Roanoke River, anchoring 3 miles above Plymouth and sending pilot John Lock and two seamen in a small boat to take soundings. They found that the river was running high and there was ten feet of water over obstructions the Union forces had sunk at Thoroughfare Gap in preparation for the Albemarle's arrival. The ship crossed the obstructions with a foot to spare and then its armor fended off cannonballs from Federal forts at Warren;s Neck and Boyle's Mill. The Albemarle then engaged two Union ships, the USS Miami and USS Southfield. It sank the Southfield by ramming it and the Miami was able to escape. Union forces surrendered the town and the Confederates had an increasingly rare victory. Yeah! Albemarle. --Old B-Runner

Friday, April 18, 2014

Confederates Attack Plymouth, NC

APRIL 17TH-18TH, 1863: Confederate troops launched a sustained attack obn Plymouth, North Carolina. Union gunboats coming to their aide came under fire from Confederate batteries. //// On the 18th, the fighting intensified as the Confederates pressed home their attack. The Union Army steamer Bombshell was sunk. //// The attacks stopped at 9 PM. Lt.Cmdr. Flusser reported: "The Southfield and Miami took part and the general says our firing was admirable." he added that: "The ram [Albemarle] will be down to-night or to-morrow." The Confederates needed naval support to be successful at Plymouth. //// --Old B-R'er

Secretary Mallory Orders Torpedo Stuff

APRIL 16TH, 1864: Mallory wrote Commander Bulloch in England to have 12 small marine engines and boilers built for torpedo boats (40-50 feet in length, 5 to 6 feet beam, and drawing three feet of water). He also wanted 25 miles of good insulated wire and the best gun cotton to be used for torpedoes. //// Unable to produce essentials for pursuing the torpedo warfare that had been so successful, the South looked to Europe for the materials. //// --Old B-Runner

150 Years Ago-- April 15th-18th, 1864: Action in Texas, Florida and Virginia

APRIL 15TH, 1864: The USS Virginia destroyed the sloop Rosina at San Luis Pass, Texas. //// APRIL 17TH, 1864: The USS Owasco seized blockade-running British schooner Lilly at Velasco, Texas. //// APRIL 18TH, 1864: Boats from the USS Beauregard seized blockade-running schooner Oromoneto at Mantanzas Inlet, Florida (near St. Augustine). // Landing party from USS Commodore Read destroyed a Confederate base at Circus Point on the Rappahannock River, Virginia. // USS Fox captured and burned the schooner Good Hope at the mouth of the Homosassa River, Florida. //// Always Something Going On. --Old B-R'er

USS Eastport Strikes Confederate Torpedo

APRIL 15TH, 1864: The USS Eastport struck a Confederate torpedo in the Red River eight miles below Grand Ecore. The shock of the explosion almost threw the leadsmen forward overboard and Lt. Cmdr. Phelps reported "a particular trembling sensation." //// He immediately ran the Eastport into shoal water. For six days, he and other gunboats attempted to float the ship and finally got it underway. The next five days, the ship ran aground many times and traversed just 60 miles. //// The last time, they were unable to refloat her and Porter ordered Phelps to transfer his men to the USS Fort Hindman and destroy the Eastport. //// Phelps was the last man to leave the ship and detonated 3,000 pounds of gunpowder that shattered the gunboat. The ironclad was completely destroyed. //// The Eastport had been captured from the Confederates while under construction in the Tennessee River following the capture of Fort Henry two years earlier. //// I'll Bet Selfridge Was Glad It Wan't His Ship. --Old B-Runner

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Porter's Situation on Red River Getting Worse

APRIL 14TH, 1864: With water level still not rising, Porter's situation on the Red River was continuing to worsen. He wrote Welles: "I found the fleet at Grand Ecore somewhat in an unpleasant situation, two of them being above the bar, and not likely to get away again this season unless there is a rise of a foot.... //// If nature does not change her laws, there will no doubt be a rise of water, but there was one year--1846-- when there was no rise in the Red River, and it may happen again. The rebels are cutting off the supply [of water] by diverting different sources of water into other channels, all of which would have been stopped had our Army arrived as far as Shreveport." //// He also praised the efforts of his pilots. //// --Old B-Runner