Fort Fisher

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

Monday, May 22, 2017

May 22, 1862: The USS Whitehead Captures Another Ship

MAY 22ND, 1862:  The USS Whitehead, Acting master French, captured the sloop Ella D off Keel's Creek, N.C., with cargo of salt.

--Old B-Runner

Friday, May 19, 2017

May 21, 1862: Boat Expedition in North Carolina

MAY 21ST, 1862:  Boat expedition from the USS Hunchback, Acting Lt. Calhoun, and the USS Whitehead, Acting Master French, captured schooner Winter Shrub in Keel's Creek, North Carolina, with cargo of fish.

--Old B-Runner

May 20, 1862: Action on the Stono River, S.C.

MAY 20TH, 1862:  Union gunboats occupied the Stono River above Cole's Island, South Carolina, and shelled Confederate positions there.  Flag Officer Du Pont reported to Secretary of the Navy Welles:  "The Unadilla, Pembina, and Ottawa, under Commander Marchand ... succeeded in entering Stono and proceeded up the river above the old Fort opposite Legareville.

"On their approach the barracks were fired and deserted by the enemy....  This important base of operations, the Stono, has thus been secured for further operations by the army against Charleston...."

--Old B-Runner

USS Heliotrope-- Part 1

On May 2, I wrote about a house for sale on Long island, New York, that also had the grave of black Union sailor Thomas Jefferson Davis who had served during the war on the USS Heliotrope.  I'd never heard of it, so went to good old Wikipedia.

The USS Heliotrope was 239 tons, 134 feet long steamer armed with a 12-pdr. cannon which served as a tug.

It was originally the Maggie Baker before being bought in New York City and commissioned 24 April 1864.

It was assigned to the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron and proceeded to Hampton Roads, Virginia, where it served as a tug and ordnance ship.  It occasionally patrolled up the James River.

January 23, 1865, it was transferred to the Potomac Flotilla.

--Old B-Runner

Thursday, May 18, 2017

May 18, 1862: Union Demand for Surrender of Vicksburg Refused

MAY 18TH, 1862:  Commander S.P. Lee submitted a demand from Flag Officer Farragut and General Butler for the surrender of Vicksburg; Confederate authorities refused and a year-long land and water assault on the stronghold began.

As Flag Officer Du Pont observed:  "The object is to have Vicksburg and the entire possession of the river in all its length and shores."

--Old B-Runner

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

May 17, 1862: Expedition Up the Pamunkey River in Virginia

MAY 17TH, 1862:  A joint expedition including the USS Sebago, Lt. Murray and USS Currituck, Acting Master Shankland, with troops embarked on the transport Seth Low at the request of General McClellan ascended the Pamunkey River to twenty-five miles above White House, Virginia.

Confederates burned seventeen vessels, some loaded with coal and commissary stores.  The river was so narrow at this point that the Union gunboats were compelled to return stern foremost for several miles.

General McClellan reported that the "expedition was admirably managed, and all concerned deserve great credit."

--Old B-Runner

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

April 1862 Was a Particularly Bad Month for the Confederacy

As I was writing the posts for the naval aspects of the war last month, I came to believe this was a particularly bad from for the Southern States in secession from the United States.

There was a huge Union buildup on the Virginia Peninsula as McClellan was to lead an attack on Richmond.

The Battle of Shiloh was lost.

Island No. 10 on the Mississippi River was lost.

Fort Pulaski, guarding Savannah, Georgia, surrendered.

Farragut passed Forts Jackson and St. Philip, defending New Orleans and the city surrendered the next day.

Fort Macon in North Carolina surrendered.

Enough To Knock You Flat.  --Old B-R'er

May 16, 1862: Grand Gulf Shelled

MAY 16TH, 1862:  The Union naval squadron under Commander S.P. Lee in the USS Oneida, advancing up the Mississippi River toward Vicksburg, shelled Grand Gulf, Mississippi.

--Old B-Runner

Monday, May 15, 2017

Union Ships Attack Drewry's Bluff

In the battle, the USS Galena was heavily damaged.

But, unsupported, Union Commander John Rodgers and his ships had penetrated the James River to within eight miles of Richmond before falling back.

Rodgers stated at this time that troops were needed to take Drewry's Bluff in the rear.

Had this been done, Richmond might well have fallen.

--Old B-R'er

May 15, 1862: Union Ships Move Against Drewry's Bluff

MAY 15TH, 1862:  The Union James River Flotilla, including the USS Monitor, Galena, Aroostook, Port Royal and Naugatuck, under Commander J. Rodgers, encountered obstructions sunk across the river and at close range hotly engaged sharpshooters and strong Confederate batteries, manned in part by sailors and Marines, at Drewry's Bluff, Virginia.

For his part in this action, Corporal John B. Mackie, a member of the Galena's Marine Guard, was cited for gallantry in a letter to the Secretary of the Navy Welles; in Department of the Navy General Order 17, issued on 10 July 1863, Mackie was awarded the first Medal of Honor authorized to a member of the Marine Corps.

--Old B-Runner

Saturday, May 13, 2017

May 14, 1862: USS Calhoun Captures Schooner in Lake Pontchartrain

MAY 14TH, 1862:  The USS Calhoun, Lieutenant DeHaven, captured the schooner Venice in Lake Pontchartrain with cargo of cotton.

--Old B-R'er

Robert Smalls Seizes the Confederate Steamer Planter-- Part 2

"After getting beyond the range of the last guns she quickly hauled down the rebel flags and hoisted a white one.... The steamer is quite a valuable acquisition to the squadron...."

Du Pont added in a letter to senator Grimes:  "You should have heard his [Smalls'] modest reply when i asked him what was said of the carry away of general Ripley's barge  sometime ago.  He said they made a great fuss but perhaps they would make more 'to do' when they heard of the steamer having been brought out."

--Old B-Runner

May 13, 1862: Confederate Steamer Planter Seized at Charleston by Robert Smalls-- Part 1

MAY 13TH, 1862:  The Confederate steamer Planter, with her captain ashore, was taken out of Charleston Harbor by an entirely black crew under Robert Smalls and turned over to the USS Onward, Acting Lt. Nickels, of the blockading Union squadron.

"At 4 in the morning," Flag Officer Du Pont reported, "...she left her wharf close to the Government office and headquarters, with palmetto and Confederate flag flying, passed the successive forts, saluting as usual by blowing her steam whistle."

Quite a Brave Accomplishment.  --Old B-R'er

May 12, 1862: CSS Virginia's Crew to Establish Battery at Drewry's Bluff

MAY 12TH, 1862:  Officers and crew of the CSS Virginia were ordered to report to Commander Farrand to establish a battery below Drewry's Bluff on the left bank of the James River to prevent the ascent of Union gunboats.

The battery was to be organized and commanded by Lt. Catesby ap R. Jones.

--Old B-Runner

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Fort Fisher Artillery Program This Saturday, May 13

From the May 2017 News release of the friends of Fort Fisher.

The program is called "Deadly Showers of Cast Iron" and will be given Saturday, May 13.

The newly refurbished 32-pounder rifled and banded heavy seacoast cannon will be fired throughout the day from Shepherd's Battery and, there will even be a nighttime firing demonstration.  The cannon was refurbished this past fall by funds from the Friends of Fort Fisher and a grant from the Society of the Order of the Southern Cross.

Firings of the cannon will be free and at 10 a.m., noon, 2, 4:40 and 4:45.  The night time firing will be at 8 p.m. and will cost $5.  Afterwards a replica of the Fort Fisher garrison flag flown over Shepherd's Battery will be raffled.  Winner must be present.

Sure Wish I Could be There.  --Old B-Runner