Fort Fisher

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

Friday, October 9, 2015

CSS Georgia Still Yielding Surprises

From the Sept. 29, 2015, Business in Savannah by Mary Carr Mayle.

Phase 2 of the operation is over.  The article was mostly referring to the Sept. 15 raising of the unknown Dahlgren cannon which i have already written about.

Now it is on to Phase 3, the tedious 12-days of sifting through all the much from the bottom that was also recovered.

--Old B-R'er

Archaeologists Recover Three Cannons From the Pee Dee River-- Part 5: Going to the Florence VA

The underwater divers dredged the area around the cannons and put straps around each of the three cannons, located in between 8 and 10 feet of water.  Once out of the river, they were taken a short distance and placed on wooden blocks so mud and silt could be hosed off.

These three cannons constitute the CSS Pee Dee's entire armament.

Eventually they will be displayed at the VA service building which is next to the Florence National Cemetery and just a couple hundred yards from the Florence Stockade site, a Confederate POW camp active for several months before the end of the war.

A video accompanies the article.  the cannons look to be in remarkably good shape and are now 10-26 feet from the river bank.

--Old B-Runner

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Fort Fisher Closed Because of Flooding

I just read that Fort Fisher State Historic Site in North Carolina was closed on Monday because of all the rain and flooding.

--Old B-R'er

CSS Pee Dee Cannons Underwater Again?

I'm not sure if the cannons recovered recently from the CSS Pee Dee were still on the site by the side of the Pee Dee River in South Carolina, but if they were, they might once again be underwater due to all the rain and flooding in South Carolina in the last week.

----Old B-Runner

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Archaeologists Recover Three Cannons From the Pee Dee River-- Part 4: The Cannons

The three cannons on the CSS Pee Dee were each on a pivot and had a full 360 degree of fire.  The ship itself was built for speed and maneuverability to act as a commerce raider and not to duke it out with a Union ship.

The Brooke cannons were for long range and the Dahlgren for short range.  The Dahlgren fired a speical ball with a water resistant cap.  The Brooke's had cannister shot.  Those were also removed.  The guns had been loaded when they were thrown overboard.  These were removed while the cannons were still underwater.

--Old B-R'er

Archaeologists Recover Three Cannons from the Pee Dee River-- Part 3: Great Grandson in Attendance

By 1994 the CSS Pee Dee Research and Recovery Team had seven families supporting it.

The first two were located by diver Bob Butler.  The third cannon was located by property owners Glenn Duffon and Rufus Duffon., who took advantage of low water level one day to venture into the river with a metal detector.

A man named Catesby Jones from Selma, Alabama, was on hand for the cannon retrieval.  The Brooke cannons were cast in Selma and his great grandfather, Catesby ap R Jones, had been in command of the naval foundry there when the Brooke cannons were cast.  More famously, Catesby ap R Jones had commanded the ironclad CSS Virginia ion its famous battle with the USS Monitor in 1862

The Brooke rifle serial numbers were #46 and #53.  The captured Dahlgren gun was serial number #513.  The Dahlgren was forged in Pennsylvania and captured from the USS Smithfield after it was sunk by the CSS Albemarle.

--Old B-Runner

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Archaeologists Recover Three Cannons from the Pee Dee River-- Part 2

People began looking for the cannons back in the 1920s.  Other efforts made in the 1950s and 1980s.

In the 1990s, two were found, and the third one, the 6.4-inch Brooke rifle was found in 2012.  With the locations of all three known, a move to recover all three at once got underway.  The CSS Pee Dee Research and Recovery Team was organized to raise money and promote the effort.

Member Ted Gragg related: "In 1992 we were looking seriously for the site of the Pee Dee and whatever we could find, because really and truly it had been lost.

"My daughter was home from the university and I'd taken her and her boyfriend out on a hike and we'd decided to cut out way from the bridge looking for things.  We sat down to rest and uncovered the skiff from the warship.  Then we found the seven-inch ball and one thing led to another.  We contacted the state two months later and showed them the artifacts."

I'm wondering if Ted Gragg is related to the Rod Gragg who wrote the first book on Fort Fisher "Confederate Goliath; Fort Fisher."

--Old B-Runner

Monday, October 5, 2015

Archaeologists RecoverThree Cannons from the Pee Dee River-- Part 1

From the September 29, 2015, SC Now "Archaeologists recover 3 Civil War cannons from Great Pee Dee River."

More than 100 onlookers were present Tuesday morning when a track hoe was used to pull three cannons that had been on the CSS Pee Dee.

The CSS Pee Dee's active military career consisted of one cruise up the Great Pee Dee River to Cheraw, South Carolina, where it may or may not have fired on General Sherman's Union troops who were crossing the river there to invade North Carolina.  The ship returned to its base at Mars Bluff Navy Yard where everything of value was thrown overboard and burned and sank the ship.

The ship was scuttled just three months after it was launched.

Twenty years had passed since the discovery of the cannons and their recovery.

--Old B-R'er

The Three Recovered Cannons from the CSS Pee Dee

BROOKE RIFLE--  Cast at Selma, Alabama on April 29, 1863.  delivered to South Carolina on July 13, 1863.  Bore diameter--  6.4-inches, Bore length--  9.8 feet.  Weight 10,600 pounds.

BROOKE RIFLE--  Cast at Selma, Alabama on October 12, 1863.  Delivered to South Carolina on July 3, 1863 (probably 1864).  Bore diameter--  7-inches, Bore length--  11 feet, Weight--  15,000 pounds.

DAHLGREN CANNON--  Cast at Fort Pitt, Pennsylvania in mid-1862.  Bore diameter-- 9-inches, Bore length--  8.9-feet, Weight--  9,000 pounds.

--Old B-Runner

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Civil War Cannons Raised From the Pee Dee River-- Part 5: A Jones Connection

Unfortunately, the CSS Pee Dee had a very short-lived career.  On completion, it steamed upstream to fire on Sherman's troops crossing the river.  It may or may not have fired on enemy troops.  It then returned to Mars Bluff where it was burned and scuttled after the cannons and other items were thrown overboard.

The ship could also have been an ocean-going commerce raider.

To Catesby Jones, 90, of Selma, Alabama, and a World War II veteran, this was a very special day and he was in attendance when the cannons were brought to the surface.  His great-great grandfather was Catesby ap Jones, who was in command of the foundry and Navy yard in Selma, Alabama, when the two Brooke rifled cannons were made.

The cannons will now be taken to the Warren Lasch Conservation Center in North Charleston, S.C. where they will be preserved.  The Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley is there also.  After completion, the cannons will go on display at the new U.S. department of veterans Affairs building in Florence.

--Old B-R'er

Civil War Cannons Raised From the Pee Dee River-- Part 4: Finest Ship Ever Built in the South

The Pee Dee, or Mars Bluff, Navy Yard was built in 1863 to allow ships for the Confederacy to be built far enough from the coast to prevent Union attacks.  The CSS Pee Dee was the first and only warship built there.

It was a Macon-Class cruiser 150 feet long with a 25-foot beam and three gun carriages: bow, stern and amidship.  Power was provided by sails and a boiler which kept twin giant propellers turning.  Its masts could be lowered to fit under railroad trestles and bridges.

Confederate Secretary of Navy Stephen Mallory once referred to the Pee Dee as the finest ship ever built in the South.

--Old B-Runner

Friday, October 2, 2015

Civil War Cannons Raised From Pee Dee River-- Part 3: 360 Degree Arc of Fire

As I mentioned earlier, the cannons of the CSS Pee Dee could provide insight into the "beginning of modern naval warfare."  The three cannons were each mounted on the ship so as to be able to provide for a 360 degree arc of fire as they were on swivels.  Before, and during the war, ships most often relied on guns mounted along the sides of the warships.

So, a ship listed as carrying 38 cannons, would only be able to bring 19 of them to bear on an enemy ship during a battle at a single point.

Modern warships mounted cannons in an armored turret which swiveled.  The Pee Dee, however, had them mounted in the open.

Also of interest is that one of the cannons was originally on a Union ship.

--Old B-Runner

Civil War Cannons Raised From the Pee Dee River-- Part 2: Bob Butler

Amateur diver Bob Butler has spent 20 years searching the Pee Dee River for the cannons he knew had been thrown off the CSS Pee Dee in 1865 before the ship was scuttled to prevent capture near the end of the Civil War.

He found one cannon in 1995 near the US near the Florence-Marion County line.  And, he discovered another one in 2006.  He became a moving force in Pee Dee Research and Recovery Team which discovered the third cannon.

Tuesday, he was on hand as all three were raised.

--Old B-R'er

Civil War Cannons Raised From the Pee Dee River-- Part 1: Going to the VA in Florence

From the September 29, 2015, The State (Columbia, S.C.) by Jeff Wilkinson.

There have been a lot of articles on my Google Alerts about these three cannons being raised.  I look at them and write down information that I have not already mentioned in previous posts.

The rare cannons will be preserved and then displayed at the Veterans Administration building in Florence, S.C..

They represent the entire armament of the CSS Pee Dee.

University of South Carolina crews have spent six years, since 2009, working on their recovery.

The cannons can provide insight into "the beginning of modern naval warfare."

The cannons were raised Tuesday, September 29th.

--Old B-Runner

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Three Cannons From the CSS Pee Dee to Be Retrieved-- Part 2

Researchers from the University of South Carolina's Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology have been off-and-on at the site of the former Confederate Mars Bluff Navy Yard since 2009.  The cannons were thrown off the Pee Dee at this site.  Mars Bluff Navy yard was one of about a dozen shipyards established inland, up rivers and far enough away from the Union ships along the coast for safety.

The cannons range from 9,000 to 15,000 pounds each and are between 9 and 12 feet long.  One is a smoothbore Dahlgren the Confederates captured from the USS Smithfield which was sunk in North Carolina by the CSS Albemarle.  The other two are both Brooke rifled cannons forged at Selma, Alabama.

The CSS Pee Dee was finished too late to see much action and its is not clear whether it ever fired a shot in anger.

This is bringing to an end a years-long archaeological effort, funded in part with a $200,000 grant from the Drs. Bruce and Lee Foundation in Florence.

--Old B-Runner