Fort Fisher

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

Friday, March 24, 2017

Fort Fisher Cannon Gets Face Lift-- Part 1

From the January 9, 2017, Wilmington Star-News (NC) "Fort Fisher cannon gets face lift in time for January 14 anniversary" by Ben Steelman.

The 32-pounder cannon on Shepherd's Battery has been restored in time for the 152 anniversary of the Second Battle of Fort Fisher.  The 30-year-old reproduction of a Civil War era coastal artillery piece is a big favorite of visitors to the fort and fired during re-enactments, the boom of it supposedly can be heard all the way in Wilmington.

However, exposure to salt air and the elements over the years necessitated the work.

The Friends of Fort Fisher, to which I belong, raised $25,000 for it and were aided by a $6,000 grant from the Society of the Order of the Southern Cross (a Confederate heritage, a non profit group working to restore all things Civil War).

--Old B-Runner


March 26,1862-- Part 1: Watch Out for Low Water and Confederate Gunboats

MARCH 26TH, 1862:  Flag Officer Foote, off Island No. 10, dispatched a warning to Commander Alexander M. Pennock, his fleet captain at Cairo:  "You will inform the commanders of the gunboats Cairo, Tyler, and Lexington not to be caught up the river with too little water to return to Cairo.  They, of course, before leaving, will consult the generals with whom they are cooperating.

"As it is reported on the authority of different persons from New Orleans that the rebels have thirteen gunboats finished and ready to move up the Mississippi, besides the four or five below New Madrid, and the Manassas, or ram, at Memphis, the boats now up the rivers and at Columbus or Hickman, should be ready to protect Cairo or Columbus in case disaster overtakes us in our flotilla."

Worried About Those Confederates

March 25, 1862: Flag Officer Tattnall to Relieve Buchanan on CSS Virginia

MARCH 25TH 1862:  Confederate Secretary of the Navy Mallory ordered Flag Officer Tattnall to relieve the injured Flag Officer Buchanan and "take command of the naval defenses of the waters of Virginia and hoist your flag on board the Virginia."

--Old B-Runner

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Operations on Western Waters-- Part 2: Defective Fuzes

"The battery just below Eastport, consisting of two guns, then opened upon us.  Their shot fell short.  I stood up just outside of their range and threw three or four 20 [second] shell at that battery, none of which exploded, owing to the very defective fuze (army).

"The rebels did not respond.  I have made no regular attack on their lately constructed batteries, as they are of no importance to us, our base of operations being so much below them.  I have deemed it my duty, however, to annoy them, where I could with little or no risk to our gunboats....

"The Lexington, Lieutenant Commanding Shirk, will cruise down the river from this point.  The Tyler will cruise above."

Were the defective fuzes from the Army?  And here I was thinking fuzes for projectiles were spelled fuses.

--Old B-R'er

March 24, 1862: Operations on the Western Rivers-- Part 1

MARCH 24RD, 1862:  Lieutenant Gwin, USS Tyler, reported the typical ceaseless activity of the gunboats:  "...since my last report, dated March 21, I have been actively employed cruising up and down the river.  The Lexington arrived this morning.

"The Tyler accompanied by the Lexington, proceeded up the river to a point two miles below Eastport, Mississippi, where we discovered the rebels planting a new battery at an elevation above the water of 60 (degrees), consisting of two guns, one apparently in position.

We threw several shells into it, but failed to elicit a reply."

The Tyler and the Lexington were two really busy gunboats.

--Old B-Runner

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

March 22, 1862: CSS Florida Clears Liverpool

MARCH 22ND, 1862:    The CSS Florida, Acting Master John Low, sailing as the British steamer Oreto, cleared Liverpool, England, for Nassau.  It is the first ship built in England for the Confederacy.  The ship's four 7-inch rifled guns were sent separately to Nassau on the steamer Bahama.

Commander Bulloch, CSN, wrote Lt. John N. Maffitt, CSN:  "Another ship will be ready in about two months....  Two small ships can do but little in the way of materially turning the tide of war, but we can do something to illustrate the spirit and energy of our people...."

--Old B-R'er

A Walk Along the Sugar Loaf Line of Defense-- Part 2

The embankments and earthworks were built by the Confederates to stop an expected Union advance on Wilmington, N.C., after the capture of Fort Fisher.  For over thirty days, these defenses and the ones across the Cape Fear River did keep the Northern troops at bay.

The walk will be over most of the length of the defenses and Chris Fonvielle will offer his extensive insights on it.

The tour will leave from the Federal Point Historical Center's parking lot, next to the Carolina Beach Town Hall.

--Old B-Runner

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Chris Fonvielle Leads Walk Along Sugar Loaf Line of Defense-- Part 1

Well, we missed it.  It was conducted on March 18th, but something I would really love to do some time despite the really long distance there from here.

This is put on by the Federal Point Historic Preservation Society and evidently given once a year in March (as I heard when I was there back in January because of fewer biting insects and snakes).  He gives a walk and talk of the Confederate Sugar Loaf Line of Defense that stretched from the Cape Fear River from a large sand dune known as Sugar Loaf to the Atlantic Ocean on the east.

There is a $10 donation.

More.  --Old B-Runner

March 21, 1862: Halleck Urges Caution at Island No. 10

MARCH 21ST, 1862:  Major General Halleck wrote Flag Officer Foote, commenting on the Navy's operation against the Confederate batteries on Island No. 10:  "While I am certain that you have done everything that could be done successfully to reduce these works, I am very glad that you have not unnecessarily exposed your gunboats.

"If you had been disabled, it would have been a most serious loss to us in the future operations of the campaign....  Nothing is lost by a little delay there."

Foote's gunboat and mortar flotilla continued to bombard the works with telling effect.

--Old B-Runner

Sandbags Remain By Fort Fisher-- Part 2

And, I am not talking about Civil War-era sandbags.

Long-left  sandbags are also a problem at North Topsail Beach, further up the North Carolina coast.  And, these are not the small, temporary sandbags we so often see when rivers flood, but rather huge ones.

The coquina by Fort fisher is part of the Fort Fisher Outcrop natural Area and is just north of the Riggings condo complex.  I mentioned in an earlier post that it was the removal of part of the coquina outcrop back in the 1930s to help build US Highway 421 which led ti the massive beach erosion that took so much of Fort Fisher.

The Army Corps of Engineers has a beach nourishment project which will end 1,500 feet north of the Riggings.  However, no part of the coquina outcrop will be buried.

--Old B-R'er

Monday, March 20, 2017

Presentation Tonight on Fort Fisher's Medals of Honor-- Part 2

A full 35% of Medals of Honor given out at Fort Fisher were given to foreign nationals.

Over the course of time, the Medal of Honor has been given to just 19 North Carolinians.

John Mosely, the presenter, is assistant site manager at Fort Fisher.  In the past he has done much research on North Carolina in the American Revolution as well as 18th century medical and dental practices.

He began working at Fort Fisher in 2011 and is currently in charge of the site's educational programs.

Since the summer of 2012 he has led the "Tasting History" walking tour of Carolina Beach, focusing on the history of Federal Point and sampling the fare in local restaurants.

He continues to work on the Fort Fisher Medals of Honor and the role the fort played during World War II.

--Old B-R'er

Presentation Tonight on Fort Fisher Medals of Honor-- Part 1

From the Federal Point Historical Preservation Society.

On Monday, March 20, 2017, today, there will be a presentation on the Medals of Honor Recipients of the Lower Cape Fear" given by John Mosely at the Federal Point History Center at 7:30 p.m..  The Center is located at 1121-A North Park Blvd., adjacent to the Carolina Beach, N.C., Town Hall.

The Medal of Honor was created as a top honor for bravery by the U.S. Congress in the summer of 1861.  During the course of the war, and after it, 1,523 of the medals were awarded to members of the Union Army and Navy.

Between June 1864 and the end of January 1865, 72 of these were given to sailors and Marines at Fort Fisher.  During the war, a total of 17 were awarded to Marines and 6 were given at Fort Fisher.  These all were earned on the beach attack by the Union sailors and Marines on January 15, 1865.

A Lot of MoHs.  --Old B-Runner

Sandbags Remain a Problem By Fort Fisher-- Part 1

From the February 8, 2017, Wilmington (NC) Star-News "Sandbags remain hard problem to solve along N.C. coast" by Adam Wagner.

The North Carolina Coastal resources Commission (CRC) regards The Riggings, a Kure Beach condo complex with 48 units as breaking the law.  State guidelines allow sandbags to remain in place just 2-5 years.  The Riggings have had their sandbags in place since 1985 when the complex was built between Fort Fisher and a coquina rock outcrop.

Sadly, the Riggings is built right on the area over which the Navy-Marine contingent charged across on January 15, 1865.

--Old B-R'er

March 20, 1862: Confederate Defenses on James River

MARCH 20TH, 1862:  Confederate President Davis wrote regarding the defense of the James River approach to Richmond:  "The position of Drewry's Bluff, seven or eight miles below Richmond ... was chosen to obstruct the river against vessels such as the Monitor.  The work is being rapidly completed.

"Either Fort Powhatan or Kennon's Marsh, if found to be the proper positions, will be fortified and obstructed as at Drewry's Bluff, to prevent the ascent of the river by ironclad vessels.

"Blockading the channel where sufficiently narrow by strong lines of obstructions, filling it with submersive batteries [torpedoes], and flanking the obstructions by well-protected batteries of the heaviest guns, seem to offer the best and speediest chances of protection with the means at our disposal against ironclad floating batteries."

The Confederate Navy contributed in large part to these successful defenses that for three years resisted penetration.  Naval crews proved especially effective in setting up and manning the big guns, many of which had come from the captured Navy Yard at Norfolk.

Fear of the Monitor.  --Old B-Runner

Saturday, March 18, 2017

March 19, 1862: Attack On Island No. 10 Continues

MARCH 19TH, 1862:  Flag Officer Foote's forces attacking Island No. 10 continued to meet with strong resistance from Confederate batteries.  "This place, Island No. 10,"  Foote observed, "is harder to conquer than Columbus, as the island shores are lined with forts, each fort commanding the one above it.

"We are gradually approaching....  The mortar shells have done fine execution...."

--Old B-Runner