Fort Fisher

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

Friday, January 18, 2019

Presentation on the Lumbee Indians At Fort Fisher

From the January 9, 2019, Wilmington (NC) Star-News  "Lumbees to be part of Fort Fisher anniversary observation" by Ben Steelman.

The role of Native Americans, the Lumbees, will be spotlighted at Fort Fisher on Saturday, January 12, at the ruins of the old fort when the 154th anniversary of its fall will be observed.

Malinda Maynor Lowery, associate professor of history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will present "The War Within the War:  Lumbee Indians at Fort Fisher."  She is  director of the Center  for the Study of the American South at the school and author of the book  "Lumbee Indians:  An American Struggle."

The Lumbees were mostly from North Carolina's Robeson County, and were not allowed to enlist in Confederate  regiments during the war.  Many, however, were conscripted as unpaid labor to work on the massive earthworks at Fort Fisher, guarding New Inlet channel to the Cape Fear River, a favorite entrance of blockade runners.

Many Lumbees resisted this conscription, , notably the outlaw Henry Berry Lowry.

Harvey Goodman, Jr., chairman  of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina, will introduce Lowery at 12:30 p.m. Saturday in the auditorium of the Fort Fisher Visitors Center.

--Old B-Runner

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Down She Goes, Sinking of USS Monitor--Part 5: Why Did It Sink?

After his initial recovery, John Bankhead filed his official report as did the commanding officers of the USS Rhode Island.  They stated that the officers and men of both ships did everything in their ability to keep the Monitor from sinking.  The Navy did not find it necessary to commission a board of inquiry to investigate it and no action was taken against Bankhead or his officers.

Sometime later, however, a controversy grew as to why the Monitor sank.  In the Army-Navy Journal, John Ericsson accused the crew of drunkenness during the storm, being consequently unable to prevent the ship from sinking.

Louis Stodder vigorously defended the crew and rebuked Ericsson's characterization of the crew and wrote that Ericsson "covers up defects by blaming those that are now dead."  He pointed out that there were a number of unavoidable events and circumstances that led to the ship's sinking.

Foremost was the overhang between the upper and lower hulls which came loose and partially separated during the storm from slamming into the violent waves.  Stodder's accounts were corroborated by other shipmates.

A Sad Loss.  --Old B-Runner

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

January 16, 1864: Blockade At Wilmington Getting Effective

These dates in history are from the Civil War Naval Chronology.

JANUARY 16TH, 1864:  The Richmond Enquirer reported that 26 shops on the blockading station off Wilmington, North Carolina, "guard all the avenues of approach with the most sleepless vigilance.  The consequences are that the chances of running the blockade (Hey, that's my title) have been greatly lessened,...

"...and it is apprehended by some that the day is not far distant when it will be an impossibility for a vessel to get into that port without incurring a hazard almost equivalent to positive loss.  Having secured nearly every seaport on our coast, the Yankees are enabled to keep a large force off Wilmington."

And one year later to this date, Fort Fisher had fallen and Wilmington, though still in Confederate hands, was closed for blockade running business.

Things Getting Tight at Wilmington.  --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

The Ultimate Sideburns, I Mean U-L-T-M-A-T-E John P. Bankhead

Seriously, find yourself a picture of the Monitor's last commander, John P. Bankhead and take a gander at his facial comment.

It's a Big Deal.

If you go to Civil War Talk site and find the thread on Cmdr. John P. Bankhead, USN, there is a photo of him and discussion about other famous sideburns, or do you call them burnsides?

Poor Burnside Had Nothing On This Guy.  --Old SecBurns

Monday, January 14, 2019

Down She Goes, the Sinking of the USS Monitor-- Part 4: Praise For Greene and Stodder

Officers Greene and Stodder were among the last men to evacuate the Monitor and remained with Bankhead who was the last surviving man to abandon the sinking Monitor.

In his official report to the Navy, Bankhead praised Greene and Stodder for their heroic efforts and wrote:  "I would beg leave to call the attention of the Admiral and Department of the particularly good conduct of Lieutenant Greene and Acting Master Louis N. Stodder, who remained with me to the last, and by their example did much toward inspiring confidence and obedience on the part of the others."

After a frantic rescue attempt, the Monitor finally foundered and sank approximately sixteen miles southeast of Cape Hatteras with the loss of sixteen men, including four officers, some of whom had remained in the turret and went down with the ship.

Forty-seven men were rescued by boats from the Rhode Island.  Bankhead, Greene and Stodder just barely got off the ship but suffered in the icy water.

--Old B-Runner

Friday, January 11, 2019

Down She Goes, the Sinking of USS Monitor-- Part 3: The Pumps Fail

Continued from January

The Monitor's commander, John P. Bankhead, then ordered the anchor dropped to stop the ship's rolling and  pitching, but this had little effect.  It was no easier for rescue boats to get close enough to get up close enough to do their job.

He then ordered the towline cut and called for volunteers to do it.  Acting Master Stodder along with sailors John Stocking and James Fenwick volunteered and climbed down the turret, but eyewitnesses said that as soon as they reached the deck Fenwick and Stocking were quickly swept overboard and drowned.

Stodder managed to hang on to the safety lines around the deck and got to the towline and cut the 13-inch diameter rope with a hatchet.

Ar 11:30 p.m., Bankhead ordered the engineers to stop the engines and divert all available steam to the large Adams centrifugal steam pump.  After all the steam pumps had failed, Bankhead ordered some of the crew to man the hand pumps and organized a bucket brigade, but to no avail.

--Old B-Runner

Thursday, January 10, 2019

January 10, 1864: Blockade Runner Captured Off Florida

JANUARY 10, 1864:  Boat crews from the USS Roebuck, Acting Master John Sherrill, captured blockade-running Confederate sloop Maria Louise with cargo of cotton off Jupiter Inlet, Florida.

Another B-R Done Gone.  --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Friends of Fort Fisher and Guests Invited to Sneak Preview of New Exhibit

The Friends of Fort Fisher (FoFF) has released this message to members.

On Wednesday, January 9 from 5:30 to 7 p.m., FoFF and guests will get a sneak preview of the new exhibit at the Fort Fisher Museum "Federal Point Lighthouses."

RSVP is needed if you're a member.

From 1817 to 1880 there were three lighthouses on Federal Point,  None of them remain standing today.  Two were destroyed by fire and one destroyed during the Civil War.

Becky Sawyer, the Fort Fisher State Historic Site collection manager will present  "When In Five Fathoms Water:  The Federal Point Lighthouses."

The exhibit showcases artifacts from a 1963 Stan South archaeological dig at the lighthouse keeper's cottage and a 2009 archaeological dig of the 1837 Federal Point Lighthouse.  These artifacts have never been displayed before.

Sawyer has a MA in public history from UNC-Wilmington.

--Old B-R'er

154th Anniversary Second Battle of Fort Fisher This Saturday-- Part 2: Speakers


During the course of the day, the Fort Fisher State Historic Site will have three speakers:

10:30 a.m.  Becky Sawyer, Fort Fisher interpreter, will discuss the forts new temporary exhibit about the lighthouses at Federal Point.  The peninsula Fort Fisher is on is called Federal Point (changed to Confederate Point during the war).

There have been three lighthouses on it, none of which still stand.

12:30 p.m.:  Dr. Malinda Maynor Lowrey will present "A War Within a War:  Lumbee Indians At Fort Fisher."

She is a professor at UNC-Chapel Hill.

2:30 p.m.:  Dr. Jamie Martinez, associate professor at UNC-Pembroke will have a discussion about insufficient labor in the Confederacy.

Wish I Could Be There.  --Old B-Runner

Monday, January 7, 2019

154th Anniversary 2nd Battle of Fort Fisher This Saturday-- Part 1

From the December  23, 2018, Wilmington (N.C.) Star-News  "Fort Fisher program includes speakers, cannon fire."

January 13-15 marks the 154th anniversary of the Second Battle of Fort Fisher which took place in 1865.  A commemoration will be held from 10 a.m.  to 4 p.m. January 12.  It is called  "...And How We Suffered:  the 154th Commemoration of the Second Battle of Fort Fisher."

Outside, re-enactors will show infantry tactics and demonstrations firing the 32-pounder cannon, 12-pounder Napoleon and 10 pounder Parrot rifle.

Beginning at 10 a.m., there will also be two Junior Reserve activities for children.  The N.C. Junior Reserves helped defend the fort with boys under the age of 18.

The OLD Fort!!  --Old B-Runner

Friday, January 4, 2019

Down She Goes, the Sinking of the USS Monitor-- Part 2

The Monitor's situation continued to deteriorate as the storm worsened.  Large waves were crashing over and covering the deck and pilot house.  The crew temporarily rigged the ship's wheel to the top of the turret which was manned by helmsman Francis Butts.

Water continued flooding into vents and ports and the ship began rolling uncontrollably in the high seas.    Sometimes she would drop into a wave with such force that the whole ship would tremble.  Leaks were beginning to appear everywhere.

Bankhead ordered the Worthington pumps to be started which temporarily stemmed the rising waters.  But, then the Monitor was hit by a squall and a series of violent waves and water continued to make its way into the Monitor.

Just as the Wothington pumps could no longer keep up the engine room reported that the water was gaining there as well.

Bankhead realized his ship was doomed and signaled the Rhode Island for help and hoiseted  the red lantern next to the Monitor's white running light atop the turret.

Serious Situation.  --Old B-Runner

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Down She Goes, the Sinking of the USS Monitor-- Part 1

From Wikipedia.

The crew celebrated Christmas  in fine style while berthed in Hampton Roads.  That day, though, the Monitor received orders to make ready for sea and the crew under strict orders not to discuss the voyage with anyone.  But bad weather delayed departure until 29 December.

The Monitor was well-designed for river combat but her low freeboard and heavy turret made her highly unseaworthy on the high seas and rough weather.  And that is just what she sailed into.  Under the command of John P. Bankhead,  the Monitor put to sea under tow of the USS Rhode Island on 29 December 1862.

A heavy storm developed off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.

The Monitor's situation continued to worsen.  Bankhead  wrote messages on a chalkboard to alert the Rhode Island of conditions aboard his ship.

--Old B-Runner

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Jan. 1, 1864-- Part 2: Great Blockade Running At Wilmington

On 2 January, Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles again proposed an attack on the fortifications protecting Wilmington, "the only port by which any supplies whatever  reach the rebels...."

He suggested to Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton that a joint expedition be taken against Fort Caswell:  "The result of such operation is to enable vessels to lie inside, as in the case with Charleston, thus closing the port effectually."

However, major general Henry W. Halleck advised Stanton that campaigns to which the Army was committed in Louisiana and Texas would not permit the men for the suggested assault to be spared.  Thus, although the Navy increasingly felt the need to close Wilmington, the port remained a haven for blockade runners for another year.

The First Battle o Fort Fisher took place almost a year later.

--Old B-Runner

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

January 1, 1864: Great Blockade Running At Wilmington, N.C.-- Part 1: 397 Ships

JANUARY 1, 1864

As the new year opened, the Union once again focused its attention on Wilmington, North Carolina.  Since 1862, the Navy had pressed for a combined assault on this major east coast port, ideally located for blockade running less than 600 miles from Nassau and only 675 from Bermuda.

Despite the efforts of the Union fleet, the runners had continued to ply their trade successfully.  In the fall of 1863, a British observer reported that thirteen steamers ran into Wilmington between 10 and 29 September and that fourteen ships put to sea between 2 and 19 September.

In fact, James Randall, an employee of a Wilmington shipping firm, reported that 397 ships visited Wilmington during the first two and a half years of the war.

Old B-Runner

Monday, December 31, 2018

The Sinking of the USS Monitor-- Part 2: Sank With Sixteen Crew Members

The Monitor's commander, J.P. Bankhead, signaled the USS Rhode Island, towing his ship, that he wished to abandon ship.  The wooden side-wheeler pulled as close as it could safely and two life boats were lowered to save the crew.  Many sailors were rescued, but others were too terrified to go out on the deck in the rough seas.

The ironclads pumps stopped and the ship sank with sixteen of its crew.

Thus ended the short but epic life of a truly remarkable little ship.

--Old B-Runner