Fort Fisher

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

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

A Visit to Fort Fisher-- Part 1

If there is any other event more responsible fir me getting into the Civil War and history in general, it was the time my dad took me to Fort Fisher, North Carolina back when I was seven.  It is the reason for this blog and my others.

He said this was a fort from the Civil War when the North fought the South.  Living in North Carolina and North America as I knew we did, I told him that we were for the North.  He had to explain that North Carolina was a Southern state and that we were for the South.

That sparked an interest in the war and history that obviously is still with me.

I remember when the Fort Fisher Museum consisted of a single small structure located by the monument on Battle Acre and back in the early 1960s when the Confederate torpedo washed up on the shore.  Back then you could walk across the remaining mounds.

My family used to rent cottages in Carolina Beach and as such I got to visit Fort Fisher quite often, but now we have a place on Topsail Island and when we're here, it is a 50 mile drive to the fort and then there is that horrible Wilmington and beach traffic so we rarely get there.

Now that I live in Illinois, I very rarely get a chance to visit it.

But, this past Saturday, Mom and I took a drive to Fort Fisher, stopping along the way at Britt's Donuts in Carolina Beach for our sugar fix and then on to the fort for a talk about controversial Confederate General Braxton Bragg.  The speaker actually defended the general, something that is quite different from the usual negativity he gets.

That's the Reason.  --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Something Else to Do in Wilmington Next Month

From the July 23, 2015, Wilmington (NC) Star-News "Friends of Oakdale Cemetery."

The Friends of Oakdale Cemetery will hold a flashlight tour of Oakdale Cemetery 7:30-9:30 p.m. August 15 at 520 N. 15th Street.

The tour will be led by Chris E. Fonvielle Jr., Ed Gibson and superintendent Eric Kozen.  They will speak about the history of Oakdale, Civil War veterans, funerary art and prominent people buried there.

Gen. W.H.C. Whiting, Captain John Newland Maffitt, Rose O'Neal Greenhow and Major James O'Reilly are among the Confederates buried there.

The cost is $15 a person and you must bring a flashlight.

The summer walking tour series continues 10 a.m.-noon September 19 at the cemetery.  The cost for this one is $10 for non-members and free for members.

The tours are canceled in the event of inclement weather.

I'll Be Missing These, However.  --Old B-R'er

Second Saturdays at Fort Fisher

From the 2015 Brunswick Islands & Cape Fear Coast magazine.

Well, there is one of these left for the summer presentations.

JUNE--  June 13.  A program focusing on Artillery at Fort Fisher.

JULY--    July  11.  A focus on the U.S. Navy's blockading fleet and the blockade-runners who attempted to bring needed supplies into the Confederacy.

AUGUST--  August 8.  This program focuses on The Soldier's Gardens at Fort Fisher.  I imagine this would be small gardens planted by soldiers garrisoned there.

Always Something Going On at Fort Fisher.  --Old B-Runner

Monday, July 27, 2015

Big Stage, Big Risk With Fort Fisher Hermit-- Part 2

The play is written by David Anthony Wright "The Hermit of Fort Fisher" explores his story.

Robert Harrill, at the age of 62 in 1955, estranged from his wife and children, moved from Shelby into an old concrete ammunition bunker south of Kure Beach in Fort Fisher.  He continued to live there for years with no amenities and subsisting on what food he could catch, gather or was given.

His mysterious death in 1972 is still believed by many to be an unsolved murder.

The bunker he lived in was left over from World War II when Fort Fisher was once again used by the military, this time for anti-aircraft training.  The bunker can still be seen at the Fort Fisher Aquarium.

--Old Hermit-Runner

Friday, July 24, 2015

Big Stage, Big Risk With the Fort Fisher Hermit-- Part 1

From the July 23, 2015, Wilmington (NC) Star-News by John Staton.

Backers and producers of "The Hermit of Fort Fisher" stage play are taking a huge risk turning it into an outdoor production which is playing from Wednesday to August 2nd at Greenfield Lake Amphitheater.  It has already run inside at Southport and Wilmington and sold well enough to take the risk of the move outside.

Of course, this is about a local character-turned legend named Robert Harrill, the famed "Hermit of Fort Fisher."

His story has inspired books, documentaries and many magazine and newspaper articles.

And the Civil War Navy connection is that he spent his "hermit" years living in an abandoned World War II bunker at Fort Fisher.

--Old B-Runner

Thursday, July 23, 2015

First Cannon Recovered From CSS Georgia

From the July 22, 2015, Guns.com.

U.S, Navy divers working in the muddy waters of the Savannah River pulled up the first os several cannons from the Confederate ironclad CSS Georgia's shipwreck.

Known as the "Lady's ironclad" as it was paid for largely by women's groups donations was under-powered and a primitive warship which never fired a shot in battle before being burned and sunk as Sherman's troops entered Savannah in Dec. 1864.

So far, divers from the Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit 2 and Explosive ordnance Disposal Technicians have cleared  nearly 100 pieces of unexploded ordnance from the site.

The first barnacle-encrusted cannon was raised from the Georgia last week and turned over to the Naval History and Heritage Command for preservation.

There is a picture of the cannon with the article as well as video of it being raised.  Very heavily coated with marine secretion.

No mention what kind of cannon it is, though.  Likely a Brooke Rifle.

--Old B-Runner

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Confederacy Under Attack

I have been covering this on my other Civil War blog, Saw the Elephant.

A man in Minnesota cause quite the stir when he drove a fire truck with a Confederate flag in a parade in Albert Lea.

South Carolina has a teachable moment with the flag.

Florida Veterans Hall m ceremony draws a Confederate protest at exclusion of Confederate veterans.

Confederate Flag Kills Ten in Chicago...Oh Wait.  This was the headline of an article on the 4th of July killings in Chicago.

Iowa State professors and students support the removal of the Confederate flag in S.C..

Norfolk Naval Shipyard removed Confederate flag.  Flew alongside with American, British and Virginian flags.  All removed and taken to a museum.

North Carolina House of Representatives gave tentative approval to a controversial bill to protect historical monuments and memorials.  Opponents say it will protect those of the Confederacy.

This was actually supposed to be in my Saw the Elephant Blog where I am covering this attack in greater detail.  This will probably be the last time I write about it in this blog as I prefer to do the history from the war.

--Old Secesh


Braxton Bragg to Be Topic at Fort Fisher This Saturday

From the Friends of Fort Fisher Summer Powder Magazine bulletin.

It is the next presentation to be given at Fort Fisher State Historic Site at Spencer Theater as part of its Beat the Heat series.It will be given by the rev. Dennis Levin at 2 p.m. and will be "General Braxton Bragg: A Reappriasement.  Rev. Levin, a retired U.S. Army Lt.Col., will discuss his research into the man, the controversy and his military decisions which made him so controversial.

And, best of all, there is a good possibility that I will be able to be at this presentation.

And, then Britt's Donuts at Carolina Beach afterwards.

--Old B-Runner

Monday, July 20, 2015

More Power to Fort Fisher and Fort Macon

With the U.S. government and many states removing items associated with the Confederacy from the shelves of gift shops at historical Civil War sites, it is nice to note that at least two such places are retaining these items.

Hats off to the Fort fisher and Fort Macon State Historic Sites for not going along with the rest of the tide.

I'll buy my Confederate flags to put on the graves of Confederate Naval officer John Newland Maffitt and Confederate General W.H.C. Whiting at Wilmington's Oakdale Cemetery at Fort Fisher.

Finally.  --Old B-Runner

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Sunday, July 19, 2015

Disbanding the Potomac Flotilla

JULY 31ST, 1865:  In a General order to the officers and men of the Potomac Flotilla, Commander F.A. Parker, announced the disbanding of the flotilla:  "The war for the preservation of American liberty being at an end, the Potomac Flotilla, which took its rise with it and grew  with its growth until it had become a fleet rather than a flotilla, this day happily ceases to exist."

This squadron had made significant contributions to the Union victory by safeguarding the water approaches to Washington, by denying the use of the Potomac River to the Confederacy, by maintaining control of the Rappahannock River which rendered secure General Grant's supply base at Fredericksburg, and by conducting numerous amphibious operations which secured Virginia's Northern Neck for the Union.

Parker concluded:  "To those of you who are about to return to civil life I would say, render the same cheerful obedience to the civil that you have rendered to the naval law.  Cast your votes as good citizens, regularly and quietly at the polls; so keeping in your hearts 'with malice toward none, with charity for all,' that after each Presidential election, whether it be with you or against you, you may be able to respond heartily to our old navy toast: "The President of the United States: God Bless Him!'"

Thanks a Lot, Guys.  --Old B-Runner

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Bell Appointed to Command East India Squadron-- Part 2

Secretary Welles directed the new squadron commander "to guard with jealous care the honor and interests of your flag and country, defend the citizens of the United States, and protect and facilitate the commerce thereof within the limits of your command."

This squadron was the forerunner of today's Seventh Fleet, which alertly guards the long troubled shoreline of Asia from Siberia to Singapore.

--Old B-R'er

Commodore Bell Appointed to Command U.S. East India Squadron-- Part 1

JULY 31ST, 1865:  Commodore Henry H. bell was appointed by secretary Welles to command the East India Squadron, consisting of Admiral Farragut's former flagship USS Hartford as well as the USS Wachusett, Wyoming, and storeship Relief.

The command extended from the Strait of Sunda to the shores of Japan.

The Wachusett and Wyoming were already in the Pacific at the time having been ordered there by Secretary Welles to search for the Shenandoah.

Thus the East India Squadron was reactivated after being discontinued after the outbreak of the Civil War.

The Squadron had been initially established in 1835 when Commodore Edmond P. Kennedy commanded the sloop USS Peacock and the schooner Boxer on a cruise to Far Eastern waters.

--Old B-Runner

Lee Writes to Maury's Son: Share the Fate of Your State

JULY 30, 1865:  General Lee wrote to Maury's son, Colonel Richard L Maury:  "I received by last packet from Richmond your letter of the 22nd enclosing an extract from a letter of your Father dated June 27 and a project of a decree of the Emperor of Mexico to encourage emigration of the planters of the South to that country.

"I was very glad to learn of the well being of your Father and of his safe arrival in Mexico and had felt assured wherever he might be that he deeply sympathized in the suffering of the people of the South and was ready to do all in his power to relieve them.

"I do not know not know how far their emigration to another land will conduce to their eventual prosperity although their prospects may not now be cheering.  I have entertained the opinion that it would be better for them and the country to remain at their homes and share the fate of their respective States.

"I hope however the efforts of your father will facilitate the wishes and promote the welfare of all who find it necessary or convenient to expatriate themselves but should sincerely regret that either he or his should be embraced by that number."

Lee says to stay with your State and take whatever comes her way.

--Old B-R'er

Southerners Try to Talk Maury Out of Emigtrating to Mexico-- Part 2

"All who love her for what sh has done ought to love her enough to suffer with her and for her sake. If the best people who have made Virginia what she is desert her at this critical moment, it would be like children leaving their mother in distress.  There is no virtue without sacrifice, and if Virginians possess the virtue of patriotism, they ought to bring her now the sacrifice of pride.  Don't emigrate!

"Stand by your country with stern courage; learn the patience to bear without shame and with all the dignity of self-command...I don't think you can now return to Virginia; but in three or four years great changes will take place in opinions, and you and your family won't find a country which would be able to give you anything like her sympathy, or to take Virginia out of your hearts and souls.

"You ought to go back to your dear state as soon as you can do so safely; and if you had followed my advice you would never have left England."

The words of these last two posts ring as true today what with everything having to do with the Confederacy under the amount of attack as we are seeing.

--Old B-Runner

Friday, July 17, 2015

Southerners Try to Talk Maury Out of Emigrating to Mexico-- Part 1

JULY 22, 1865:  Maury's family and many of his friends opposed his colonization plan for Mexico.  Although his family did not want him to return to Virginia to be "hanged or manacled," they also opposed his staying in Mexico because of the instability of Maximilian's rule.

Overseas friends offered stronger, and perhaps seeing clearer from the distance, truer advice.  One wrote: "The people of Virginia have shown themselves to be as brave as any people have ever been; but courage is coupled, in patriotism, with perseverance in suffering until better times come for Virginia.  All who love her for what she has done ought to love her enough to suffer with her and take the risk."

More to Come.  --Old B-R'er