Thursday, August 13, 2020

When Smithville N.C. Became Southport N.C.-- Part 1

From the July 30m 2020, Jacksonville (N.C.) Daily News  "Cape Fear Unearthed:  How Smithville became Southport" by Hunter Ingram.

The latest episode of a podcast "Cape Fear Unearthed."

During the Civil War, the town of Southport was called Smithville, the name it had had since the 1700s.  It was originally  designated as Fort Johnston in the 1740s and was supposed to protect the growing and thriving  ports of Brunswick Town and Wilmington.

But, it never became a major fort and the town of Smithville grew up around the ruins of the fort after the American revolution and a favorite escape the heat spot for Wilmington residents.  Over time and through at least three major wars, Smithville flourished, even after becoming Southport in 1887.

That is why it is the Southport-Fort Fisher Ferry instead of the Smithville-Fort Fisher Ferry.

--Old B-Runner

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Well, the Southport-Fort Fisher Ferry Reopened Last Friday, But, This Little Old Hurricane Came By and...

From the August 5, 2010, WECT News (Wilmington, N.C.) "Southport ferry expects to resume services sometime Wednesday after Hurrican Isaias."

After being closed for several months, for repairs, the Southport-Fort Fisher Ferry across the Cape Fear River finally reopened last Friday, but closed again for Hurricane Isaias.

The city of Southport sustained some damage as the Category 1 hurricane came ashore nearby, but power has been restored at the ferry terminal again, but has not been operating today because of ramp problems.

Service is expected to begin at sometime on Wednesday.

--Old B-Runner

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Southport-Fort Fisher Ferry Route Resumed Service Friday, July 31

From the July 29, 2020, North Carolina Department of Transportation.

The popular Southport-Fort Fisher  ferry route will resume at 1 p.m. July 31 after completion of $3 million  project to replace the aging  cable-counterweight ramp system at both ends of the route.

Every day there will be 14 daily trips from Southport to Fort Fisher.

Face covers and social distancing is expected during the crossings.

The ferry crosses the Cape Fear River where every blockade runner that ran into and out of Wilmington during the Civil War went by the route the ship takes.  A beautiful crossing.  Plus it saves a real lot of time going between the east and west sides of the Cape Fear River.  Otherwise you have to go into Wilmington, NC to find a bridge to cross the river.

--Old B-Runner

Monday, August 3, 2020

Southport-Fort Fisher Ferry to Open By Week's End

From WWAY Cape Fear ABC News.

Scheduled to reopen after being shut down for seven months.  It shut down in January so $3 million work could be done on aging boat ramp system.  Work halted in March due to coronavirus.  This long term shutdown hurt Southport business.

Believe me, getting from Pleasure Island, the area that includes Carolina Beach, Kure Beach and Fort Fisher to Southport involves a several hour drive up to Wilmington (and all its traffic and photo-enforced cameras) and then back down the west side of the Cape Fear River to get to Southport.  This would be at least two or two-and-a-half hours instead of the 30 minutes to cross on the ferry.

WWAY says they will let the public know just as soon as the opening date is known.

Go, Ferry, Go.  Driving Through Wilmington Is a Nightmare.  --Old B-Runner

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Big Civil War Naval Cannon Destroyed in Michigan-- Part 2: At the First Battle of the Ironclads and Both Battles of Fort Fisher

This cannon was on board the Union steam frigate USS Minnesota and had been used to defend the wooden ship against the Confederate ironclad CSS Virginia in 1862 and the following day was used at the battle between the USS Monitor and CSS Virginia, the world's first battle between ironclads.  This battle spelled the end of wooden sailing navies.

According to a local newspaper, it also fired the last shot at the Virginia prior to the arrival of the USS Monitor.

Later in the war, the USS Minnesota performed blockade duties and was at both battles of Fort Fisher, North Carolina, which up until then and for many years afterwards, was the largest assemblage of warships and largest bombardment ever by the U.S. Navy up to that time.

So, this cannon had some history to it.

--Old B-Runner

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Big Civil War Naval Cannon Destroyed in Michigan-- Part 1

From the  July 22, 2020,  K102.5 FM, Kalamazoo, Michigan  "Civil War treasure  destroyed at Battle Creek....100 years ago" by Tim Collins.

And this was not destroyed by BLM rioters running amok.

It was a reminder of the past, revered each Decoration Day that it was around.  And it was destroyed by the city of Battle Creek, Michigan, and the federal government.  It was not a monument, but a huge cannon that was at the city's Oak Hill Cemetery from 1896 until the next big war when it became part of a scrap drive.

Frank J. Kellogg (no relation to  the Kellogg's of cereal fame), was a patent medicine inventor and salesman in Battle Creek and a Civil War veteran.  He was known as a rich man as well as a bit of a scalawag.  It was through his efforts that the cannon came to Battle Creek in 1896.

According to the Daily Journal of the city, on July 22, 1896, he received a letter from  the Inspector of Ordnance at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, saying the cannon had been shipped to Battle Creek's GAR Post.

And, it wasn't just ANY surplus cannon.  It had a a history including participation in the first-ever battle of ironclads and the largest bombardment ever up until the end of the Civil War.

It had been on the USS Minnesota.

--Old B-Runner

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Two Confederate Cannons Now At Fort Fisher-- Part 2

The Confederate monument on the North Carolina State Capitol grounds in Raleigh had been there since since May 20, 1895.  That day, it was unveiled by Julia Jackson Christian, the daughter of Confederate General Stonewall Jackson.

The cannons will now remain at Fort Fisher (hopefully emplaced on the fort's parapet).  Fort Fisher is currently undergoing a $23 million renovation to its visitors center and grounds as it is one of the state's most-visited historic places.

Michele Walker of the N.C.  Dept. of Natural and Cultural Resources says the cannons will remain there since they are of the same era as a cannon and artifacts at the site.

The removal of the Confederate monument in Raleigh is just one of many similar  actions being taken across the state and country as the nation grapples with its  history of honoring the Confederacy with monuments in public places.  There have been riots and much damage done to these monuments.

The arrival of the cannons at Fort Fisher is one of the first, if not the first, instances of recently removed Confederate monuments being relocated.

Here's hoping that sites like Fort Fisher will be recipients of many or most of the removed monuments.  I just hope some way can be found to keep certain groups from further damaging the artifacts.

--Old B-Runner

Friday, July 10, 2020

Two Confederate Cannons That Once Were At Raleigh Now At Fort Fisher-- Part 1

From June 30, 2020, WUNC 91.5 NPR  "Confederate cannons removed from Raleigh now at Fort Fisher"  by Mitch Northam and AP.

Two Civil War cannons that were at a Confederate monument in Raleigh are now at Fort Fisher.  They arrived Friday after being removed from the state Capitol grounds by the N.C. governor  The two 32-pounder naval cannons were stationed at the base of the monument had been "vandalized" along with the rest of the 75-foot tall monument accompanied by two statues of a Confederate infantryman and cavalryman.

These two statues were pulled down June 19 (and one was even LYNCHED).  The next day, the governor ordered all three monuments removed.

According to  the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources, a plaque on the cannons says  they were captured by Confederates when they took the U.S. Navy Yard at Norfolk, Virginia and were then used at Fort Caswell at the mouth of the Cape Fear River's Old Inlet.

They were dismounted when Confederates evacuated the fort and blew it up in 1865 after the fall of Fort Fisher.

Raleigh's Loss Is Fort Fisher's Gain.  At Least One Good Thing Happening in All This Sad Mess.   --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

July 7, 1865: Welles Ordered Reductions in Atlantic and Gulf Squadrons

JULY 7TH, 1865:  Secretary Welles ordered Rear Admiral Radford of the Atlantic Squadron to reduce his command to a total of ten vessels.

Welles also ordered the Gulf Squadron reduced to a total of 12 vessels.

Reducing the Navy After the War. ("War's Over, Man.  Wormer Dropped the Big One.") --Old B-Runner

Raphael Semmes Statue in Mobile-- Part 3: City Fined for Unlawful Removal of It

The statue was commissioned in the late 1890s by the Ann T. Hunter Chapter Auxiliary of the Raphael Semmes  Camp 11 of the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV).  According to the city, among the funds raised by the SCV for the erection of the monument were donations of dimes by the children of the city.

Also, according to  a 1991 Mobile Bay Monthly article, the SCV camp also oversaw fundraising for  renovation projects to it.

Mobile City Councilwoman Bess Rich said for the statue to return for public display in the city "was not achievable" but she wanted them to have a say in what happens to it next.

The mayor said the statue was removed to prevent it from being destroyed in a future demonstration, in other words, it was removed for "public safety."

The city was fined $25,000 by the state as the removal went against the Confederate Monument Protection Law.  The city has thirty days now to pay the fine.

The pedestal on which the statue stood was damaged by "vandalism" during a June 1st demonstration in Mobile.  Three days later, in the deep of the night, the statue was removed by the mayor's order.

--Old B-R'er

Raphael Semmes Statue in Mobile-- Part 2: Who Owns It?

Because of this article, Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson is sure the city owns the statue.    But, in the aftermath of the June 4th removal of the eight foot tall statue from Royal and Government streets where it has stood for almost 120 years, people claiming to be descendants of the original ownership group have come forward and want it returned to them.

Camp 11 Sons of Confederate Veterans says they are the rightful owners.  A meeting will be held June 23 between the Camp and the city.

The city claims it owns the statue, but are willing to turn it over to the camp if the statue is no longer needed.  They also need to know the current value of the statue.

According to the newspapers in 1900, the statue cost $6,000 which means it would be worth  an estimated $180,000 in 2020.

--Old B-Runner

Monday, July 6, 2020

Raphael Semmes Statue in Mobile-- Part 1: Dedicated in June 1900

From June 17, 2020,  "Mobile mayor, Confederate descendants battle over monument's fate" by John Sharp.

Electra Semmes Colston unveiled the statue of her late father during a 5 p.m. ceremony 120 years ago this June 27 and then the Excelsior band launched into the song "Dixie" and an artillery squad stationed at the foot of Government Street began firing an admiral's salute.

Moments later, then-Mayor J.C. Bush stepped onto the platform and accepted the statue of Confederate Navy Admiral Raphael Semmes on behalf of the city.

This was on the front page of the Mobile Daily Register

That acceptance of the statue has played out in recent days as ownership of that statue has come into question.

--Old B-Runner

Friday, July 3, 2020

July 1-3, 1865-- Part 2: CSS Shenandoah's Trials and Tribulations Out in the Cold

"When the Shenandoah reached the Island of St. Lawrence, there was a fine northwest wind.  Sail was made, and the propeller triced up.  While to the westward of that island, the ship was making six knots per hour. a dense fog came on...."

Trying to beat out of the ice the ship ran into a large floe and damaged her rudder when, with sails aback to avoid sudden collision with thick ice, "she gathered sternboard."  The crew placed heavy rope mats around the prow.

"Steam was gently applied and with a large block of ice resting against her cutwater she pushed it along to open a passage, and in this way we worked the Shenandoah for hours until she gained open water."

To avoid being trapped by Federal cruisers, if not the ice, Waddell decided to run for "more open seas."  On 3 July "a black fog closed upon us and shut out from our view the heavens and all things terrestrial."  It clung about them thick and ominous for the next two days as the raider steamed south depending on dead reckoning."

Want Some Ice With That Water?  --Old B-Runner

Thursday, July 2, 2020

July 1-3, 1865-- Part 1: CSS Shenandoah Digging Icebergs and Watching the Sun

JULY 1ST TO 3RD, 1865:  After destroying a large fleet of Arctic whalers on June 26 and 28,  the CSS Shenendoah, Lt. James Waddell,  stood south "amid snow and icebergs" looking for more victims.

There he wrote, in "the immensity of the ice and floes", threatened with "danger of being shut up in the Arctic Ocean for several months. I was obliged to turn her prow southward and reached East Cape just in time to slip by the Diomedes when a vast field of floe ice was closing the strait....

"The sun was in his highest northern declination, and it was perpetual daylight, when he sank below the northern horizon, a golden fringe marked his course until his pale and cheerless face came again, frosted from icebergs and snow."

Lt. James Waddell Waxing Poetic.  --Old BRunBerg

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

CSS/USS Diana-- Part 5: Retaken By Confederates and At the Battle of Fort Bisland, Louisiana

The Diana was then towed up the Teche, the Diana was repaired and taken into the Confederate  River Fleet on April 5, 1863, to support the troops at Camp Bisland in Louisiana.  On April 11, under Lieutenant  Nettles of the Velverde Battery (who showed great skill in commanding his gunboat), the Diana's guns helped drive Union troops back on Bayou Teche and away from the vulnerable Camp Bisland.

Nettles' command of the Diana, however, proved to be very short.  Taken suddenly ill with  fever, he was relieved  on 13 April 1863 by Captain Oliver Semmes (Hmmmn, Semmes, I wonder) of the Artillery Unit.

The day he took command, thousands of Union troops moved in with their own gunboat support and launched a violent attack on Bayou Teche and Camp Bisland (also called Fort Bisland).  This engagement lasted until sundown.

I'd never heard of this Semmes fellow or Fort/Camp Bisland.  Perhaps some more research will be necessary.

--Old B-Runner