Fort Fisher

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

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Wilmington, N.C.-- Part 3: Our Experts

The Civil War Monitor enlisted two "experts" on the area to get the ideas.

They were Christine Divorky and Bill Jayne.


Executive director of Friends of Fort Fisher who has lived in the Wilmington area for 23 years.  Fort Fisher is fortunate to have one of the best Friends groups in the nation doing all sorts of things for the fort.

And, I am not saying this just because I am a member.  This fort had a huge impact on my life, a big reason I am a history nut and taught for 33 years (social studies of course).


President of the Cape Fear Civil War Round Table.  A devoted student of the Civil War since 1970s, he has lived in the Wilmington area for a dozen years.

Well, Let's Find Out.  --Old B-Runner

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Wilmington, N.C.--Part 2: The Best Of

Wilmington is one of my favorite towns anywhere, other than the traffic, which is a headache and for gosh sake, watch out for all those photo-enforced stoplights.  I hate photo-enforced stoplights.  But, Wilmington has all that history, the river front and, of course, my all-time favorite ship, the battleship USS North Carolina.

Anyway, the Civil War Monitor magazine asked two Wilmington experts to point out great places to go while in Wilmington and around it in such areas as

Can't Miss
Best Kept Secret
Best Family Activity

Best Civil War Spot
Best Eats
Best Sleep
Best Book

--We'll Find Out Soon.  --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

August 20, 1864: Close, But No Tallahassee

AUGUST 20TH, 1864:  The USS Pontoosuc, Lieutenant Commander Stevens, entered Halifax.  Stevens learned that the Tallahassee had sailed late the night before and that he had failed to intercept her by only seven hours.

The Pontoosuc departed immediately in pursuit.  based on information reported by by Consul Jackson, Stevens steamed north into the Gulf of St. Lawrence, while Wood (the Tallahassee's commander) feeling that he did not have sufficient fuel to actively pursue his raids, had set course for Wilmington.

This date, the Tallahassee captured the brig Roan and burned her.  She was the last prize taken on this brief but most effective cruise.

--Old B-Runner

Monday, August 19, 2019

Wilmington, N.C.--Part 1: Original Painting Sold for $75,000

From the Summer 2019 Civil War Monitor magazine.

I originally started this on July 22, 2019, so it has been a long while since I got around to continuing with it.

The magazine also featured a two-page spread of a painting on the 2nd Battle of Fort Fisher by Thomas.F. Laycock.

I can't find out a lot about him other than he also had a painting of the USS Maine which sank in Havana Harbor and was one of the reasons for the Spanish-American War.  He lived from 1840 to 1898.

I did find that the original painting of the Fort Fisher battle sold at auction by Christie's in New York in 2017 for $75,000.

--Old B-R'er

Fort Fisher's Beat the Heat Lecture Series 2019-- Part 2

As I said in the previous post, sadly, this series is over for the year, but looking forward to it being resumed next year.  And, don't forget, either January 11 or 18, will be the 155th anniversary of the Second Battle of Fort Fisher, which is always a big one.  They have an anniversary re-enactment every year, but every fifth year it is a  big one.

Anyway, recapping this past year's lectures:

JULY 13--  Running the Blockade:  The Technology and the Men of the Lifeline by Chris Fonvielle

JULY 20--  The Federal Point Lighthouses by Becky Sawyer

JULY 27--  Tending to the Soldiers:  Wilmington's Civil War Hospitals by Wade Sokoloski.

AUGUST 3--  Timothy O'Sullivan and the Photographing of Fort Fisher by Harry Taylor

AUGUST 10--  Attempting to Stop Sherman: The Battle of River's Bridge by Jim Steele.

So, How Long Until June 2019?  --Old Secesh

Friday, August 16, 2019

Fort Fisher's Beat the Heat Lecture Series Now Over, But Hopefully Will Be Back Next Year

It can get mighty hot during the summer on Pleasure Island (Federal Point) but you can beat that heat by going inside at the fort, sitting in air conditioned comfort and learning something in the fort's summer "Beat the Heat" series.  Most of the lectures are about the Civil War and especially local history, but they can be about anything historical.

These were the the topics and speakers for this last year:

JUNE 15--  The 1781 Wilmington Campaign--  Rick Morrison

JUNE 22--  Feeding Lee's Army Through the Port  of Wilmington--  Michael C. Hardy

JUNE 29--  Imprisonment, Trial and Execution of the Lincoln Conspirators--  Mark Grim

JULY 6--  Silent Sentinels--  John Winecoff

--Old B-Runner

Thursday, August 15, 2019

N.C. Events, August 1864: Loss of USS Violet and the End of Two Blockade Runners155

AUGUST 7--  Loss of the USS Violet

AUGUST  23--  Blockade Runner chased ashore near Fort Caswell by USS Vicksburg

AUGUST 24--  Capture of blockade runner Lillian

--Old B-Runner

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

August 13, 1864: CSS Tallahassee's Successful Cruise

AUGUST 13TH, 1864:  Reports of the CSS Tallhassee's destructive success created much alarm in northern seaports.

This date, John D. Jones, president of the Board of Underwriters (insurance), wired Secretary Welles from New York:  "Confederate steamer Tallahassee is reported cruising within sixty miles of this port.  She has already captured six vessels.  Will you please have the necessary measures taken, if not already done, to secure her capture?"

Half and hour after the receipt of this message, Welles replied:  "Three vessels left New York Navy Yard yesterday afternoon; more leave to-day.  Several vessels have leave Boston to-day and tomorrow.  Every vessel available has been ordered to search for pirate."

In addition this date, Captain C.K. Stribling, Commandant of the Philadelphia Navy Yard, dispatched three ships "in pursuit of the pirate."

However, the Tallahassee's Commander Wood, continued her "depredations," burning the schooner Lammot Fu Pont, cargo of coal, and the bark Glenavon.

The Tallahassee Having a Great Cruise.  --Old B-Runner

Monday, August 12, 2019

Charleston Lab Repairs CSS Pee Dee Cannons-- Part 3:

Dates and Sizes of the Pee Dee cannons:  10-12 foot cannons weighing between 12,000 to 16,000 pounds.  The Brooke cannons were so sophisticated for their time, much like today's cannons.

Each cannon underwent a four-year restoration process where they soaked for two years in a solution to remove corrosive salts then they had to be prepared for outside exhibition..

They will be mounted on replica carriages.

The restoration was paid for by a $200,000 grant from the Drs. Bruse and Lee Foundation in Florence.

The conservation team for the cannons consisted of Johanna Rivera,  Anna Funke, Gyllian Porteous, Virginia Terniscien and Flavia Pouti.

--Old B-Runner

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Charleston Lab Restores CSS Pee Dee Cannons-- Part 2

The cannons were ready to be fired and while trying to make sure the shells did not pose a threat to explode, when they turned the key on a brass fuse it fizzled like soda.  A nine pound ball was loaded into the Dahlgren gun and the two Brooke cannons were loaded with forged grapeshot the size of billiard balls.  The grapeshot were restored and preserved.

The CSS Pee Dee was 150 feet long and had a crew of 90 and carried three cannons.  These cannons weighed nearly 20 tons altogether and were mounted on carriages along the length of the hull so they could be swung either way.

The Pee Dee had been built at the Confederate Navy Yard at Mars Bluff on the Pee Dee River.  This is also where the ship was scuttled.  The guns had been thrown overboard before the Pee Dee was scuttled.  They were recovered from the river at the site.

The Brooke cannons were of Confederate manufacture and were rifled.  The Dahlgren cannon was a smoothbore and was at one time in the Union Navy, but probably seized from a northern ship.

--Old B-Runner

Friday, August 9, 2019

Charleston Lab Restores CSS Pee Dee Cannons-- Part 1

From the May 28, 2018, Charleston (SC) Post and Courier  "Charleston lab restores Civil War cannons pulled from the Pee Dee River in SC" Bo Peterson.

A punderwater arhoto accompanies the article showing Nate Fulmer, an underwater archaeologist with the South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology, who helped recover the three cannons in 2015.  Also in the photo, Stephanie Crette, executive director of the Warren Lasch Conservation Center  in North Charleston.  They reveal the findings and all three cannons are restored and preserved for the future.

The CSS Pee Dee was ready to fight before being scuttled in 1865 in its namesake river near Florence as Union troops closed in.  Before being scuttled, the ship's three cannons were tossed overboard.  Those cannons will now be put on display outside the Veterans Affairs Office next to the Florence National Cemetery.

They were recovered in 2015 and since then there has been a four year effort by the Lasch Center to restore and preserve them.

The ship never saw action, but they found that her guns were all primed and powdered and ready to be fired.

--Old B-Runner

Thursday, August 8, 2019

What's Happening At the Fort: Fort Fisher's Final Beat the Heat-- The Battle of River's Bridge, S.C.

Fort Fisher is presenting its final 2019 Kids Activity this Friday, August 9 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m..  This week's topic is Civil War Communications using the Wig-Wag System with flags.

Fort Fisher will be presenting its final Beat the Heat lecture of the season on Saturday, August 10 at 2 p.m. in the Spencer Theater at the fort.  This week's topic is "Attempting to Stop Sherman:  The Battle of River's Bridge, South Carolina."  This was an attempt to stop his march to Columbia, S.C..  Site manager Jim Steele will lead the discussion.

Fort Fisher is located at

1610 Fort Fisher Boulevard, South
Kure Beach, N.C.
Telephone  910-251-7340

Come On In, Get Out of the Heat.  --Old B-Runner

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

August 6, 1864, a Good Day for the Confederate Navy (Especially After August 5)

August 6, 1864 turned  out to be a very good day for the Confederate Navy what with the CSS Tallahassee slipping out of Wilmington, N.C. and starting a two cruise off the Union's coast and destroying much shipping.

Also, the long-awaited appearance of the ram CSS Albemarle took place at the mouth of the the Roanoke River in North Carolina which threw Union forces into fear.

This, of course, taking place one day after the Confederate loss at the Battle of Mobile Bay and the loss of the ironclad CSS Tennessee and the other ships of the fleet.

From Bad to Good.   --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

N.C. Events, August 1864: CSS Tallahassee and CSS Albemarle

From the North Carolina Civil War Sesquicentennial Timeline.

  WEST means it took place in the western part of the state, otherwise in the eastern.

AUGUST  1-3   Pursuit of Confederate forces from Athens, Tennessee, into North Carolina (WEST).

AUGUST 2--   Skirmish at Murphy  (WEST).

AUGUST 6--  The CSS Tallahassee runs out of Cape Fear River and begins a successful two week commerce raid on Union shipping all the way to New England.

AUGUST 6-7--  Appearance of CSS Albemarle at mouth of the Roanoke River.

Two Confederate Warships Make Appearances.

So August 6 Was A Good Day For The Confederacy And A Very Good Day For the Confederate Navy.  --Old B-R'er

August 6, 1864: CSS Tallahassee Runs Out of Wilmington

AUGUST 6TH, 1864:  The CSS Tallahassee, Commander Wood, ran out of the Wilmington's Cape Fear River, and after eluding several blockaders off the bar, embarked on one of the most destructive commerce raiding cruises of the war.

"This extemporaneous man-of-war," Jefferson Davis later wrote, "soon lit up the New England coast with her captures...."

In the next two weeks Wood, whom Davis called "an officer of extraordinary ability and enterprise," took or destroyed more than 30 ships.

A Little Known Yet Successful Commerce Raider.  --Old B-Runner