Fort Fisher

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

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

OCTOBER 19TH, 1864:  The USS Mobile captured the schooner Emily off San Luis Pass, texas, with a cargo of 150 bales of cotton.

OCTOBER 19-20TH, 1864:  Boat expedition from the USS Stars and Stripes, ascends the Ocklockonee River in western Florida and destroyed an extensive Confederate fishery on Marsh's Island, capturing a detachment of soldiers assigned to guard the works.

In small and large operations, assault from the sea destroyed the South's resources.

OCTOBER 21ST, 1864:  The USS Fort Jackson, Captain Sands, captured blockade running British schooner Wando at sea east of Cape Romain, S.C., with cargo of cotton.

USS Sea Bird captured blockade running British schooner Lucy off Anclote Keys, Florida, with assorted cargo.

--Old B-R'er

Voting On Blockade Duty

OCTOBER 19TH, 1864:  Even in the midst of blockade duty afloat, Union sailors were able to vote in the presidential election.

Rear Admiral Dahlgren ordered Acting Master John K. Crosby, USS Harvest Moon to "proceed with the USS Harvest Moon under your command to the Savannah River, Wassaw, Ossabaw, Sapelo, and Doboy [Sounds], and communicate with the vessels there, in order to collect the 'sailors' votes already distributed for that purpose.  A number of ballots will be given to you, in order to enable the men to vote."

Lincoln or McClellan?  --Old B-Runner

Monday, October 20, 2014

CSS Shenandoah Ready to Raid

OCTOBER 19TH, 1864:  The Sea King, the sleek, fast ship Commander Bulloch had obtained for the Confederate cause in England, rendezvoused with tender Laurel north of the island of Las Desertas in the Madeiras.

The Sea King was sold to the Confederate States and renamed the CSS Shenandoah, after which guns, powder, supplies, and crew members from the Laurel were loaded.

Lt. James I. Waddell, CSN, who had sailed from England in the Laurel, assumed command of the cruiser and remarked:  "Each of us asked himself instinctively, what great adventures shall we meet in her?  What will be her ultimate fate?"

The Shenandoah, one of Bulloch's greatest successes, was destined to become one of the most effective commerce raiders of the war and the last warship to sail under the Confederate flag.

--Old B-Runner

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Union Gunboats Ordered to Watch for Hood's Crossing of the Tennessee River

OCTOBER 18TH, 1814:  Major General Thomas, commanding Union forces in Tennessee, wired Major General Sherman concerning his plans for opposing Confederate General Hood's thrust into his state:  "It have arranged with Lieutenat [Commander] Greet, commanding the gunboat fleet on lower Tennessee, to patrol the river as far up as Eastport [Mississippi].

"Lieutenant Glassford, commanding between Bridgeport and Decatur [Alabama] patrols that portion on the river daily, and cooperates with me very cordially."

As Hood approached Tuscumbia and his rendezvous with general Forrest's cavalry, Union commanders became increasingly concerned with measures to keep the Confederates from crossing the Tennessee River in Alabama, and relied heavily on the gunboats of the Mississippi Squadron for this duty as well as for intelligence.

During this climatic campaign between Thomas and Hood, the close cooperation and support of naval forces played a key role.

--Old B-Runner

Friday, October 17, 2014

Confederate Wilmington Defenses: Green's Millpond-- Part 2

The National Cemetery at 20th and Market streets was officially established in 1867, although U.S. military personnel were buried there shortly after Wilmington was captured in late February 1865.

A large Confederate encampment, called Camp Whiting, was located near Green's Millpond close to today's 18th and Market streets.  It was operational by November 1863 and named after Gen. W.H.C. Whiting, commander of the Department of the Cape Fear which included Wilmington.

Just prior to the Second Battle of Fort Fisher in January 1865, Confederate Robert F. Hoke's division from the Army of Northern Virginia was stationed there.

--Old B-R'er

Confederate Wilmington Defenses: Green's Millpond-- Part 1

From the March 1, 2010, Wilmington (N.C.) Star-News "My Reporter: What is the story behind a Confederate encampment by Burnt Mill Creek during the Civil War?"

Answer given by Wilmington during the Civil War expert, UNCW history professor Chris Fonvielle.

Today's Burnt Mill Creek was originally called Green's Millpond during the Civil War.  The real Burnt Mill Creek runs along the west and north borders of Oakdale Cemetery.

Confederate engineers built strong earthen defenses along the west bank of Green's Millpond to defend against a Union attack from the east by way of Market Street.

--Old B-Runner

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Two of the Union Fort Fisher Medals of Honor

From the Documents of the Assembly of the State of New York, Vol. 31.

DENNIS CONLON:  Seaman on the USS Agawam; one of the crew of the powder boat Louisiana which exploded December 23, 1864.  Volunteered for this duty.

WILLIAM C. CONNOR:  Boatswain's Mate on USS Howquah.  At the destruction of the blockade-runner Lynx, September 25, 1864 at night "performed his duty faithfully under the most trying circumstances, standing firmly at his post in the midst of a cross-fire from the Confederate shore batteries and our own vessels.

--Old B-Runner

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Woodman At It Again in North Carolina

OCTOBER 15TH, 1864:  Acting Master's Mate John Woodman completed his third daring and successful reconnaissance of the Confederate position at Plymouth, North Carolina, reporting that the CSS Albemarle moored at the wharf as before, and the apparent abandonment of efforts to raise the captured steamer USS Southfield.

This information enabled Lt. William Cushing to sink the Albemarle later in the month.

Another Brave Union Officer.  --Old B-R'er

Georgia Operation

OCTOBER 13-15TH, 1864:  A boat expedition from the USS Braziliera and USS Mary Sanford freed a number of slaves from a plantation on White Oak Creek, Georgia, and engaged a company of Confederate cavalry at Yellow Bluff.

The Union gunboats succeeded in driving off the Confederates..

This is the first time I remember seeing slaves being freed during a naval operation.

--Old B-Runner

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Farragut Advises His Son

OCTOBER 13TH, 1864:  Rear Admiral Farragut, a leader with a keen understanding of men as well as great skill and courage, wrote to his son, Loyall, from Mobile Bay regarding the young man's studies:  "...remember also that one of the requisite studies for an officer is man.  Where your analytical geometry will serve you once, a knowledge of men will serve you daily.

"As a commander, to get the right men in the right place is one of the questions of success or defeat."

Of interest, as great a naval hero as Farragut was, his son, Loyall (family name of Farragut's wife) was attending West Point at the time.

Like Father, Not Like Son.  --Old B-R'er

Cushing Doesn't Much Care for Torpedo Launch

As I already wrote about, Cushing lost one of the two steam picket boats he was going to use against the CSS Albemarle on his way from New York to North Carolina on October 8, 1864.

In a postwar journal he wrote about his dissatisfaction with the torpedoes he was to use:  "The torpedo was, O believe, the invention of Engineer Jay of the navy and was introduced by Chief Engineer  Wood.  It has many defects and  I would not again attempt its use."

--Old B-Runner

Monday, October 13, 2014

New Gulf Commander

OCTOBER 12TH, 1864:  Rear Admiral Cornelius K. Stribling relieved Captain Greene as commander of the East Gulf Blockading Squadron.  Captain Greene had assumed temporary command upon the departure of Rear Admiral Bailey in August 1864.

ALSO:  USS Chocura, Lt. Commander Richard W. Meade, Jr., captured blockade-running British schooner Louisa off Aransas Pass, Texas, wit cargo including iron and tools.

--Old B-Runner

Operation on the Tennessee River-- Part 2

Finding no evidence of Confederates, the Federal troops began to land.  Suddenly masked batteries on both sides of the river opened a severe crossfire, immediately disabling transports Aurora and Kenton and causing widespread confusion among the troops.

Key West and Undine, both steamers of about 200 tons, hotly engaged the batteries.  Seeing the two disabled transports drifting downstream out of control, the Undine followed them while the Key West stayed at Eastport to cover the City of Pekin as troops re-embarked and to escort her downstream in withdrawal.

--Old B-R'er

Operation on the Tennessee River in Mississippi-- Part 1

SEPTEMBER 10, 1864:  The USS Key West and Undine and transports City of Pekin, Kenton and Aurora, were surprised by Confederate shore batteries off Wastport, Mississippi, on the Tennessee River, and after a severe engagement, were forced to retire downriver.

The combined operation at Eastport was designed to secure the river at this point against the crossing of General Forrest's cavalry and provide an outpost against the threatened advance of Confederate General Hood from the east.

Departing Clifton, Tennessee, on 9 October with the gunboats in the van, the force steamed up the river and cautiously approached Eastport.

--Old B-Runner

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Porter Assumes Command of the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron

OCTOBER 12TH, 1864:  Rear Admiral David Dixon Porter assumed command of the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron, relieving Acting Rear Admiral Lee.

In one of his early general orders, Porter said: "It will be almost useless to enjoin on all officers the importance of their being vigilant at all times.  We have an active enemy to deal with, and every officer and man must be alert...."

Porter's efforts would soon turn to the most effective means of enforcing the blockade-- the capture of Wilmington, the main port of entry remaining for the Confederates.

--Old B-R'er