Fort Fisher

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

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Raising the CSS Georgia-- Part 4: "A Splendid Failure"

The divers must wear 150 pounds of gear to dive on the Georgia.  They have 60-90 minute windows to get their work done.  They often slip straps around objects which will be raised by crane.  One such item took three dives, 6 divers and almost as many hours to retrieve.

The Savannah Ladies Gunboat Association were responsible for raising funds to build the ship.  They advertised in Georgia newspapers and held concerts and other performances to raise $115 Confederate dollars according to Michael Jordan who is an expert on the ship's history.

Serving on the Georgia was a miserable experience.  An officer wrote: "Horrible being shut up here in these swamps, in an iron box."

One woman wrote in 1862" "Our floating battery is a splendid failure.  During a long storm last week, she leaked also from the roof so there was not a dry spot for the men or anything close in the vessel.  Even their beds were wet."

But, the ship had its supporters.  Another wrote iy was "worth all the cost as a floating battery in the defense of the city."

Wonder What the Gators Think About All This.  --Old B-Runner

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Raising the CSS Georgia-- Part 3: Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit

Diving on the wreck of the CSS Georgia is made even more difficult because of the near zero visibility.  Divers wear heavy suits of canvas, boots, gloves and big yellow helmets.  Each has cables, one red and one green.  This supplies air and guidance from the surface.  There is always the risk of entangling those cables which brings about a very serious situation.

This is an extraordinary project for the Navy divers from the Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit, based at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek in Virginia Beach.  This group consists of some of the world's premier divers.

Over the last three decades the group has salvaged commercial airliner crashes, the space shuttles Challenger and Columbia and the engines, guns and turret of the USS Monitor.  They made immediate repairs on the USS Cole in Yemen and responded to the 2007 interstate bridge collapse in Minnesota.  They also saw duty after Hurricane Katrina (ten years ago) and the 2010 Haiti earthquake.

Service with the group can also be deadly.  In February 2013, two divers drowned in a practice pool in Maryland.

An Elite Band.  --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Raising the CSS Georgia-- Part 2: Getting Off the Ship

The experience was so miserable that some decided to desert.  "Some deserted, only to be tracked down and returned to the ship, where they were slapped in leg irons (some found on the wreck), maybe flogged and forced into the gunboat's suffocating innards shoveling coal.

"Someone had to keep the boiler going day and night, otherwise the Georgia would surely sink."  Not only could the ship not move, she was extremely leaky because of the green wood used in her construction.

Then came one William T. Sherman and his army after its March Across Georgia.  He arrived by Savannah in late December 1864, less than two and a half years after the ship was built.  The ship's captain gave orders to spike the guns, scuttle the ship and retreat to prevent its capture.

The next day, the CSS Georgia was at the bottom of the Savannah River where it remained for the next 150 years.

--Old B-Runner

Monday, August 24, 2015

Raising the CSS Georgia-- Part 1: Serving On Her a Miserable Experience

From the August 12, 2015, Virginian-Pilot/Military.com by Dianna Cahn.

Not the best possible assignment.  that had to have been the thought of the poor sailors stationed aboard the Confederate ironclad ram CSS Georgia on the Savannah River in Georgia.  If they had any ideas for glory, it wasn't going to happen on this ship.  What they were on was "a leaky, broiling iron box with engines too weak to maneuver the powerful currents of the Savannah River.

So the ship sat immobile on the river opposite Fort Jackson, her guns pointed downriver toward the Atlantic and her men were just miserable.  At least she served as an obstacle to keep the Union fleet from sailing up the river to take Savannah.

--Old B-Runner

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Henry S. Stellwagen-- Part 4: The Gerry E. Studds-Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary

While looking up Henry Stellwagen on Yahoo! I kept coming across mention of a bank and I thought it was referring to a financial institution and ignored the sites.  I eventually arrived at the conclusion that this was a bank in the water, so checked it out.

From the site.

Fishermen had called the Middle Ground for years, but it took Henry S. Stellwagen, a lieutenant-commander in the USN on loan to the U.S. Coast Survey working from the U.S. Coast Survey steamer Bibb to map the entire length and breadth of the bank from 1854-1856.

The bank is located between Cape Cod and Cape Ann in Massachusetts.

--Old B-Runner

Friday, August 21, 2015

Alexander Thomas Doig of the USS Mercedita-- Part 2: Damage From the CSS Palmetto State Attack

Alexander Doig joined the U.S. Navy 25 November 1861 as an acting first engineer and served for 36 months.  he served on the USS Mercedita in the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron.

His report after the battle damage suffered by his ship in its fight with the Confederate ironclad ram CSS Palmetto State on January 31, 1863:

"USS Mercedita, Port Royal harbor, January 31, 1863

Sir: I respectfully beg leave to report the damage done to the boilers and machinery during the action this morning and the present condition of same.

"The enemy's shell penetrated the engine room bulkhead on the starboard side about 5 feet abaft the stern chimney, striking the port one and carrying away at least four feet of the outer shell.

"The steam immediately escaped from the boilers and filled the engine and fire rooms, thereby leaving the machinery in useless condition."

After an examination of it, he found that he could raise some steam and the ship could move under its own power which was when it was decided to take it to Port Royal for temporary repairs.

Doig resigned from the Navy on 6 June 1863.

--Old B-R'er

Alexander Thomas Doig of the USS Mercedita-- Part 1: From Scotland

From the Descendants of Robert Doig of Scotland site.

He was engineer on the USS Mercedita in its battle with the CSS Palmetto State in 1863 which I wrote about recently.  The ship was commanded by Henry Stellwagen.

ALEXANDER THOMAS DOIG was born 4 December 1821 in Of Dundee, Angus, Scotland.  Died 16 April 1869 at 406 Hicks Street in Brooklyn, New York and buried at Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn.

In 1841, he was an engineer living on Milton Street in West Derby.  In 1844, he was living in Montreal and then emigrated to New York state about 1846.

The June 29, 861, issue of "Scientific American" mentions an A. Doig, an engineer, who developed a new refrigerated journal (bearing) box for steamship application..  The signature on the patent confirms it was Alexander Doig.

--Old B-Runner

Thursday, August 20, 2015

What Matthew F. Maury Had to Say-- Part 2

Introduction of chinchona (as mentioned in the last post) was a long cherished idea.  Before leaving England Maury had discussed it with a distinguished geographer who had developed plantations in India.  In mexico, Maury had early applied himself to the study of the country's geography, one pupose being to determine the best location for hinchona cultivation.

"Bark of the tree, variously called Calisava, Jesuit's or Peruvian Bark, was a source of quinine vitally needed in the treatment of malaria."

Mauryleft a continuing heritage of good in his wake through life.

I was wondering what chinchona was.  Now I know.

--Old B-R'er

What Matthew F. Maury Had to Say-- Part 1

Maury's reply to his family was characteristic of the stout integrity and dedication of so many naval officers on both sides during the Civil War.  He did not want to be a court drone, but to earn a living--and help make a better world.

"I have come here to provide a home for such of the conquered people as like to emigrate," he wrote.  "Suppose they do not thank me--well, there is still useful and honourable occupation for me here.  There are many things here with which I may identify myself and do good, such as organizing the census, a land survey for the Empire, a system of internal improvements; and though last, not least, the introduction of chinchona cultivation."

--Old B-Runner

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Maury's Family Urge Against It As Well

The members of Matthew Fontaine Maury's family again urged him to abandon his plan of Mexican colonization and go to Russia, accepting the invitation of the Grand Duke Constantine, or go to France where Napoleon III had invited him to live.

Many nations sought the great mind of Maury, leading naval scientist of his time.  Before the Civil War he was the most honored and possibly most noted living American among other nations of the world.

--Old B-R'er

Friends Tell Maury to Forget About Colonizing Mexico

AUGUST 19TH, 1865:  Matthew Fontaine Maury's friend, Captain Martin Jansen of the Netherlands Navy, writing from Delft, Holland, gave another reason for Maury not to proceed with his plans to colonize Mexico with ex-Confederates.  he would probably lose his head with the Emperor if he remained.

"As long as Maximilian tries to make what is called a civilized government his position is unstable and I should not like you to stay there, however sweet and pleasant it may be in the shade of an Emperor's crown....  You may run the chance as his Prime Minister to be a Prince of Empire or to be hung or shot or something worse."

--Old B-Runner

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

CSS Georgia Presentation Packs Museum

From the August 14, 2015, Savannah Morning-News.

More than 1600 objects have now been recovered from the wreck of the Confederate ironclad Georgia in the Savannah River, Georgia.

Thursday, more than 70 people were at the Richmond Hill Museum to hear CSS Georgia expert Michael Jordan talk about the ship.

He wrote his master's thesis on the CSS Georgia and created a documentary and is now creating the official documentary on the project.

The CSS Georgia was built with money raised by the women of Georgia.

--Old B-Runner

Monday, August 17, 2015

Henry S. Stellwagen-- Part 3: "Seat of Ease"

His full name was Henry Schreiner Stellwagen.

His widow, Mary applied for a pension after his death in 1866 and received $30 per annum, possibly per month.  I wasn't able to read the document clearly.

The USS Constellation is still afloat and currently is a museum ship in Baltimore, Maryland.

From the April 30, 2002 Baltimore Sun describing the cabin of Captain Henry Stellwagen on board the USS Constellation.

.The captain slept in a bunk as opposed to the hammocks his men slept in.  Plus, he had a small tub where he could bathe, instead of using deck hoses like his men had to.  The sailors used a plank suspended over the bowsprit to relieve themselves while Stellwagen had his very own "seat of ease."

And, of course, there was his spacious cabin he had to himself.

Sometimes It is Good to be Captain.  --Old B-R'er

Henry S. Stellwagen, USN-- Part 2: Served in the Mediterranean Also

On April 27, 1862, the Mercedita, under Henry Stellwagen's command, captured the blockade-runner Bermuda.

On Jan. 31, 1863, Stellwagen was in command of the USS Merceidta when it was attacked by the Confederate ironclad CSS Palmetto State.  He surrendered the ship, but then took it out of action to a Union base.

After that he commanded the old sailing frigate/sloop USS Constellation on duty in the Mediterranean Sea on May 31, 1864, it was detached from the Mediterranean Station and ordered to report to the West Gulf Blockading Squadron under Admiral Farragut.

During his duty there, he received a sword from Britain for his service on the USS Constellation for its actions saving the British brig Mersey.

From February 23-25, he commanded a squadron from Charleston in his USS Pawnee which was sent out to capture and occupy Georgetown, S.C..

--Old B-Runner

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Henry S. Stellwagen, USN-- Part 1: Surrendered to CSS Palmetto State

I recently wrote about the USS Mercedita which was dispatched to the Dominican Republic at the end of the war to protect American lives and interests.  This ship was originally commanded by Henry S. Stellwagen, a name I have come across on occasion.

However, there is no entry for him on Wikipedia, so I did some of my own research.  I did not find a lot.

Henry Stellwagen died shortly after the end of the war, on July 5, 1866 and is buried at Forest Hill Memorial Park in Huntington Valley, Pennsylvania.  After the Mercedita, he commanded the USS Constellation (as of Jan. 1, 1864)and USS Pawnee.

He was in command of the USS Mercedita when the CSS Palmetto State attacked it in 1863 in Charleston harbor.  Although he surrendered, the Confederate ship did not place a prize crew on board and Stellwagen had the ship leave and go to a Union base for repairs.

On September 24, he married Mary Anne Cook of Philadelphia in Philadelphia.at some point, but i couldn't find the date.

--Old B-R'er