Fort Fisher

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

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Civil War Action at Alabama's Sand Island Lighthouse

Back on the 10th and 11th, I wrote about the recent rebirth of Sand Island off the coast of Mobile Bay, Alabama.

In the 1800s, the island had consisted of some 400 acres and that had washed away until last year the only left was the lighthouse and the base it sat upon.

By the 1850s, the 1830 lighthouse had been deemed as inadequate and even by that decade, the island had been losing land.

US Army Engineer Danville Leadbetter constructed a conical brick structure some 200 feet high in 1858, the tallest ever built along the Gulf Coast and a First Order Fresnel Lens was installed at the top.

It was in use just two years when Alabama seceded and it was occupied by Confederate soldiers who removed the 9-foot tall lens and placed it in storage before the US reoccupied the island.  The Federals did retake the island and on December 20, 1862, installed a Fourth Order Fresnel Lens in the tower and began using the lighthouse as a lookout tower to observe Confederate operations in Mobile Bay.

Irritated, Confederates under John W. Glenn rowed from nearby Fort Gaines and destroyed some structures on the island before being driven off by the USS Pembina.  They returned about a month later, Feb. 23, 1863, and this time put 70 pounds of gunpowder under the tower and blew it up.

Glenn wrote the report of the lighthouse's destruction to his superior officer, one Danville Leadbetter, the man who had built it.

Knock Down MY LIGHTHOUSE, Will You!!  --Old B-R'er

Naval Happenings 150 Years Ago: Jan 25-29, 1862


Sec. of Navy Welles writes Flag Officer Du Pont, commanding the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron about "the importance of a rigorous blockade" over all his charge.  It causes "distress and cripple the States in insurrection, plus denies foreign governments any effort "to aid and relieve" the Confederacy.


The second "Stone Fleet" sunk in Charleston Harbor at Maffitt's Channel. The first had already been sunk in the Main Channel back on Dec. 20th.


A Union fleet and 2,400 troops conduct a reconnaissance of Wassaw Sound, Georgia.  Savannah thrown into great alarm.


Flag Officer Foote and General Grant believe Fort Henry can be taken with four gunboats and troops.

Flag Officer Goldsborough reports that all vessels intended for the Roanoke Island attack are over the bar at Hatteras Inlet.  The troopships are over it as well.

There is still fear of the new Confederate ironclad being built on the hull of the old USS Merrimack.  Captain John Marston wants the USS Congress to remain on station in case of an attack by the new ironclad.  Lots of rumors circulating around Hampton Roads as to how ready the Confederate ship is.

Things Heating Up.  --Old B-Runner

Monday, January 30, 2012

Fire on the Water: USS Kearsarge vs. CSS Alabama

From the May 5, 2011 "Fire on the Water exhibit at Athenaeum observes the 150th anniversary of the Civil War."

The new exhibit is called "Fire on the Water:  Portsmouth's Kearsarge Sinks the Deadly Confederate Raider Alabama" opened May 6th.

There were thousands of onlookers watching the 90 -minute battle off Cherbourg, France.

The Kearsarge, named for a New Hampshire mountain,  was a Mohican-Class Sloop-of-War and was built at Portsmouth Naval Yard in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.  They are loaning the original construction plans of the three-masted, steam-powered Kearsarge and a sailor's hat.

The CSS Alabama had sunk 55 ships when Captain John H. Winslow docked at Flushing, Holland and learned that the Alabama was at Cherbourg undergoing a much-needed overhaul.  On June 14, 1864, Winslow anchored outside French territorial waters.

On June 20, the Alabama came out and the battle was on.  The Confederate raider lost 30 crew members killed or drowned and was sunk, while the Kearsarge had 3 wounded.

Roll, Alabama, Roll.  --Old B-R'er

Naval Happenings 150 Years Ago: Jan. 20 to 25th


Flag Officer Lynch in CSS Seabird and CSS Raleigh reconnoitered Hatteras Inlet, NC, and found a large fleet of steamers and transports.


LT. Phelps re-emphasizes the need for mortar boats at Fort Donelson.


USS Lexington makes another of frequent reconnaissances up the Tennessee River to Fort Henry.

Lt. Worden reports steady progress on the USS Monitor. Still waiting for 11-inch guns.


Flag Officer Goldsborough wrote from Hatteras Inlet that 19 Naval ships were over the bar and in Pamlico Sound, a very difficult operation with the bad weather.

Flag Officer Foote still needs sailors for his ships on the rivers.  Wants 600 men..  Secretary of War getting the men with sea experience from Massachusetts regiments.


A Union lightship off Cape Henry, Virginia, went aground and was captured by Confederates.

The Buildup Before Roanoke Attacked.  --Old B-Runner

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Mobile's Semmes Statue

From Wiki File.

The sculptor of the Rafael Semmes statue was Caspar Bubert (1834-1899).  Evidently one of the last projects he completed.  The statue is of a standing Semmes with a long coat extending to nearly his knees and sword at side.

There are three bronze plaques at the base, one showing the CSS Alabama at sea.

The statue was completed in 1899 and dedicated June 27, 1900 and rededicated in the 1980s.

The statue is made of bronze and stands on a granite base and is located now at the intersection of Government and Royal streets.

Some More Semmes.  --Old B-R'er

Naval Happenings 150 Years Ago Jan , 1862


US ships reconnoitering Fort Henry in preparation for a joint Naval/Army attack.

General Lee, in charge of Confederate coastal defense at this time, orders Confederate commander in Florida to mount at least two cannons at New Smyrna to protect blockade-runners attempting to run in there.  Small, fast steamers bringing in munitions extremely important to war effort.


CSS Sumter, under Commander Rafael Semmes, captures two Union ships bear Strait of Gibraltar.


Secretary of the Navy Welles orders the Gulf Blockading Squadron divided into two squadrons.  The Eastern Gulf Blockading Squadron to be under Flag Officer McKean to cover the Florida Gulf around to Cape Canaveral on the Atlantic.  Also included Cuba and the Bahamas.

The West Gulf Blockading Squadron to be under Flag Officer Farragut.

Flag Officer Goldsborough had been at Hatteras Inlet since the 13th and was preparing his ships for the attack on Roanoke Island.

Some Adminstrative Changes.  --Old B-Runner

Friday, January 27, 2012

Naval Happenings 150 Years Ago-- January 1862


Flag Officer Foote writes to Lt. Paulding of USS St. Louis admonishing him to be more careful with his ammunition and not waste so much of it.  Instead of firing all guns that bear on a target, just one to get the range.  Poor Foote always had too much to do with too little.  Starting a brown water navy from scratch was proving to be quite the challenge.

The Confederate Navy acquired 14 steamers in New Orleans to be armed to bolster the city's defense. The vessels were not to rely on cannons or firearms, but men to be armed with cutlasses for close quarter fighting.  Each boat to have one heavy piece of artillery, though, "in case the stern of any  of the [Union] gunboats should be exposed to fire, for they are entirely unprotected behind."


Gunfire and boat crews from USS Hatteras destroyed a Confederate battery and seven small vessels loaded with cotton and turpentine (running out), a railroad depot, wharf and telegraph office at Cedar Key, Florida.  Confederate prisoners were taken.

Throughout the war, small raids like this were made incessantly along the Confederate coastline.

Flag Officer Foote reported that the seven Eads gunboats were all commissioned today (including the one we saw at Vicksburg, the USS Cairo).  These ironclad gunboats were a major force on the rivers.

And, So it Goes.  --Old B-Runner

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Naval Happenings 150 Years Ago: Jan 12-, 1862


The Union amphibious expedition to Roanoke Island, NC, departs from Fort Monroe, Va., under command of Gen. Burnside and Flag Officer L.M. Goldsborough.  In August, Union forces had seized Hatteras Inlet and they now controlled Pamlico Sound.

However, the heavily fortified Roanole Island kept them put of Albemarle Sound.  Confederates considered this as a key to defending the Navy Yard at Norfolk from attack from the rear.

USS Pensacola successfully runs Confederate blockade of the Potomac, showing that their control was weakening.  (You don't usually think of a Union ship as running the blockade.)


Lt. Worden takes command of the USS Monitor .  Less than two months later, he has the battle with the CSS Virginia.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

150th Anniversary of Launch of USS Monitor

From the Jan. 24th Brooklyn Paper.

This weekend, Jan 28-30th, folks in New York City will be marking the 150th anniversary of the ship that changed Naval technology for the next 80 years, the USS Monitor.This Saturday, a march consisting of descendants of the ship's builders will lead a parade dressed in Civil War uniforms.

No cannons will be fired at the site in Greenpoint where the ship was launched because of nearby fuel tanks.

That Lil' Old Cheesebox on a Raft.  --Old B-R'er

Naval Happenings 150 Years Ago-- Jan 8-10, 1862


Flag Officer David Farragut appointed to command of West Gulf Blockading Squadron with flagship the USS Hartford, then at Philadelphia.  Boundaries of the command extended from West Florida to the Rio Grande.

A key part of his command was to be the capture of New Orleans, followed by a full-drive up the Mississippi River.


Fear as to the formidable new Confederate ironclad being built out of the old USS Merrimack continued to grow.  Plans for defense were being made.  Two tugs were kept at hand to tow the USS Congress and USS Cumberland into an advantageous line of fire if need be.

Union gunboats on the prowl at Port Royal and protecting the troops.


Flag Officer Foote taking grief from Navy Department in regards to mortar boats.  The western waters were not a great place to build naval ships.

Getting Ready for Roanoke.  --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Naval Happenings 150 Years Ago-- Jan. 8, 1862


General Robert E. Lee, not yet commander of the Army of Northern Virginia, but involved with coastal defense, realized that the Union Navy was just too strong for the Confederate defense.

The fleet could and on any place along the coast not directly in range of Confederate batteries.  And even those batteries were likely to fall as "We have nothing to oppose to its heavy guns, which sweep over the low banks of this country with irresistible force."

Essentially, Lee was not giving much hope to Confederate defenses versus the Union Navy.

However, get Union soldiers away from the protecting guns of the fleet and they become much weaker.  "The farther he can be withdrawn from his floating batteries the weaker he will become, and lines of defense, covering objects of attack, have been selected with this view."

Naval Happenings 150 Years Ago-- Jan. 5th to , 1862

From Civil War Naval Chronology


Flag Officer Goldsborough writes to his army counterpart General Burnside to hurry up and start his forces for Roanoke Island expedition because bad weather would have a negative impact.


Out west, Flag officer Foote is getting a lot of Eads' ironclad gunboats and finds that he is having problems manning them.  The Navy department sets a draft for 500 sailors.  the rest to be recruited or detailed from the Army.  The Army not eager to give up the men.


Lt. S. L. Phelps in USS Conestoga in an expedition to assess Confederate defenses at Forts Henry and Donelson on the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers.  Fort Donelson has obstructions in the river.  Union gunboats would be at a disadvantage in firing guns up at Confederate batteries.  It will take a major Union fleet to undertake an attack on either fort.

Foote went down the Mississippi River to near Columbus where he found a submarine battery.

Catching Up.  --Old B-R'er

Sometimes the Cannon's Go Boom, Sometimes They Don't

From Jan. 22nd Wilmington, NC WECT.

This past week, the 147th anniversary of the fall of Fort Fisher, NC, was marked on both days.  This year's commemoration was called "The Lights of the Great Armada" and it was one huge fleet the Union assembled for the operation.

I believe I remember hearing that it was the largest fleet assembled for an attack until World War II.

The Marine Corps Historical Company was there as well.  This was also the largest USMC operation during the war with Marines not only on the ships, but taking part in the doomed Naval assault on the fort.  Said Gunnery Sergeant Thomas Williams,"From our point of view what this battle and our involvement during the battle had had an impact on us, not only as Marines."

Cannons were loaded and fired several times, including the big 32-pounder sea coast one.  However, during the 2 PM firing,it didn't go off, causing the crew to have to flush it out with water.

Like, BOOM!!  --Old B-Runner

Monday, January 23, 2012

The USS Cairo

This was an ironclad gunboat built in a real hurry by Andrew Eads and designed by naval architect Pook.  There were about seven of the ships named after cities along the rivers, including two smaller ones where the vessels were built, the Carondolet and Mound City.

This is the only one left and wouldn't have been with us except that it was sunk by a Confederate torpedo (mine) in 1863.

Mr. Civil War, Edward Bearrs, was in on finding the ship.  This is one man I'd really love to see some time, especially since he is getting old.

The ship was raised and floated to Vicksburg Nationa Military Park where it resides today, under a tent-like structure to slow deterioration.  There will come the day when they need to completely enclose the ship.

More to Come.  --Old B-Runner

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Seeing the USS Cairo

I've been wanting to do this for a long time, but yesterday, we finally made it out to the Vicksburg National Military Park in Mississippi, a 75-mile detour from Jackson.

A definite highlight was seeing he USS Cairo, which has been partially reconstructed on original timbers and really gives a person a look into the inner workings of a Pook's Turtle.

Worth the trip all by itself.

By the way, the Cairo was commissioned on Jan. 16, 1862, according to a plaque at the Cairo Museum.  So we missed being there for its 150th anniversary of commissioning by just 4 days.

I Call That a Bit of History.  --Old B-Runner

Friday, January 20, 2012

The USS Monitor Gets a Commander

From the Civil War Daily Gazette Blog Jan. 16th.

Jan. 16, 1862

John Worden, 42, one of the Union's first prisoners at Fort Pickens and held by Confederates for 7 months, was appointed to command the highly experimental ironclad Monitor.

Construction on the ship had begun in October and the ship was floating by now.  On Jan. 11th, Worden was ordered to take command of the ship which he did on the 16th.  The Monitor's turret was in place, but empty.  The designer John Ericsson had wanted two 12-inch guns in it.  None were available and Worden arranged for two 11-inch Dahlgrens.

That Cheesebox on a Raft.  --Old B-Runner

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Raphael Semmes Statue, Mobile, Alabama

While in Mobile for the NIU Go-Daddy Bowl, I decided to go all Semmes and visit as much as I could of the city's favorite adopted son, Raphael Semmes.

After finding his grave, the next item was to find the famous statue of the Confederate Naval commander downtown,

It was very easy to find and I got some pictures of it while stopped for the light.

Later that night, while vainly looking for the bus to take us back to the motel after the Mardi Gras parade and fireworks, we waited about twenty minutes on the benches in front of the statue.  I got some good shots of it with a full moon over his shoulder, but won't show them until Liz shows me how to download the photos.

I have been unable to find much on the history of the statue.

Quite the Old "Beeswax."  --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Fort Walton Beach, Florida's Civil War Heritage

Information from the Exploring Southern History blog.

The biggest thing is that the town got its name from the Civil War, although technically, there never was a Fort Walton.  Actually, in 1861, the Walton Guards, from Walton County, founded what they called Camp Walton at some old Indian mounds.  They were there to protect an entrance to Choctowhatchee Bay.

They selected the mound to use it as the sides of a small earthwork and some Indian remains were uncovered during he construction.

An encounter with Union forces led General Braxton Bragg to sent an 18 pound carronade cannon for the camp's defense from Pensacola.

The camp was abandoned in 1862 and the cannon buried at the site.

It was dug up and now is on display at the Fort Walton Beach Heritage Park.

So, That's the Fort of It.  --Old B-Runner

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Fall of Fort Fisher 147 Years Ago Today

As I sit here in the sun looking at the Gulf of Mexico about fifty yards away.

One hundred and forty-seven years ago today, and about 3,000 to 4,000 miles away, coast wise, Confederate soldiers in the garrison were mighty brave to look out to sea where a huge Union armada was pounding away at them.  Some 2,000 Union sailors and Marines were approaching along the beach north of the fort along with probably 8,000 soldiers poised to attack the riverside defenses.

To say the least, it was not a good time to be in that fort.

Later that night, the fort surrendered.

Adios Confederate Gibraltar.  --Old B-Runner

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Some More on the H.L.Hunley

From Jan. 13th Reuters.

After a decade of "careful preservation," Thursday, the Confederate submarine Hunley was removed from its steel truss and, according to engineer John King, "No one alive has ever seen the Hunley complete.  We're going to see it today."

About 20 engineers and scientists applauded as the sub was fully revealed for the first glimpse of the 42-foot long narrow iron cylinder.  It was truly the Confederacy's "Stealth Weapon."

Raised in the summer of 2000, the vessel sat in a 90,000 gallon tank of fresh water ever since in order to leach out the corrosive salt water.

Hey, here's another Mobile connection, the Hunley was built there by its inventor and namesake, Horace Hunley.  Arriving in Charleston in 1863, it sank twice during sea trials, killing 13, including its inventor.  The graves of these unfortunate men have been found under the football field of the Citadel University in Charleston.

On February 17, 1864, it attacked the USS Housatonic, sinking that ship with its 135 pound torpedo.

Ten tons of sediment has been removed from he sub and it certainly serves as a perfect time capsule.

Looking Forward to Seeing It.  --Old B-Runner

Friday, January 13, 2012

H.L. Hunley Revealed

Yesterday, the steel truss that it has been sitting in since it was raised from the water was removed, giving folks the first clear view of the Confederate submarine since it sank in 1864.

Now, it is finally starting to look like its old self.

Can't wait to see it.

Of course, one thing I've always wondered was why it is officially referred to as the H.L. Hunley instead of the CSS H.L. Hunley.  Perhaps it was never commissioned in the Confederate Navy?

Go Hunley.  --Old B-Runner

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Alabama's Sand Island Lighthouse-- Part 2

You can definitely see the loss of the island in the two photos above.

The new island is about 14 acres and already covered with shells and hundreds of seabirds

The lighthouse, the current one built to replace the destroyed one from the Civil War, is in bad shape.  "The thin, flat bricks are pitted and weathered from a century of exposure, with deep recesses between bricks where he mortar has worn away."  The mortar was made with local sand and mixed with seawater which led to a very inferior mortar."

Engineering studies show the lighthouse is basically sound, but here is no access to the top or even the lower windows.  A lot of work has been done to stabilize the base.

The loss of the island was due to "the dredging of the Mobile Ship Channel which interrupted the natural sand delivery system that fed he island."  At one time the island was hundreds of acres and big enough that he light keeper had a herd of cows.

As it stands now, the island will remain for some time, but will eventually wash away without continual replacement.

Dauphin Island took ownership of the lighthouse from the Department of the Interior ten years ago and there was talk of moving it ashore to protect it.

A Look Back to the Civil War Lighthouse Next.  --Old B-Runner

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Alabama's Sand Island Lighthouse-- Part 1

From the Jan. 8, 2012, Mobile (Al) Press-Register "Sand Island Reborn" by Ben Raines.

Although the current lighthouse was constructed after the Civil War, this little-bitty stretch of land has a lot to do with the war along the coast.

"Sand Island, Alabama's newest land-mass, has the only beach in the state guaranteed to be free of tarballs.

Lost beneath the waves for generations, the island was reborn in November and December, thanks to a federal dredging project that pumped 1.4 million cubic yards of clean sand from the Gulf seafloor."

Evidently, pesky tarballs still float in because of the BP problem they had a couple years ago.

The new island is about a half-mile long and 700 feet wide at its widest,  It is already home to hundreds of birds and even has a left-over lighthouse from its last incarnation.  The poor 141-year old structure sat on a pile of rocks for decades.

And, hey, since we're on the subject of Raphael Semmes, it is possible that he might have gone out to the lighthouse during his days living in Mobile in the 1870s.  You know, sea legs for an old salt, such as he was.

More to Come.  --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Semmes Lived Here

Sunday, we took a drive over to  the home that the grateful citizens of Mobile gave to Confederate Admiral Raphael Semmes in 1870 and in which he lived until his death in 1877.  Although not a Mobile native, the city became the admiral's home.

The house, done in a Federal-style, was built in 1858 by Peter Horta.   In 1946, it was restored and given to the First Baptist Church next door by a family in honor of their son who had died in World War II.

It is located at 806 Government Street, US-90.  In 1970, it was listed on the NRHP.

I also found that there is an Admiral Semmes Hotel in downtown Mobile.  We  probably drove by, but didn't notice it.  It has 170 rooms and Oliver's Restaurant and a couple cocktail lounges are located in it.  I'm not sure if it was around when Semmes was alive, but think not.

A Man and His Town.  --Old B-Runner

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Semmes Like the Thing to Do

Yesterday, we managed to find the Catholic Cemetery in Mobile, Alabama.  Our objective was to find the grave of Confederate Admiral Raphael Semmes and also the graves of the Poet Priest of the Confederacy, Father Abram Joseph Ryan and baseball manager and player Eddie Stanky.

Part of the cemetery is very old and with fairly unreadable tombstones.  Unfortunately, there was no one around or office which would have helped locating the graves.  We drove around the whole place a couple times, and did not see Semmes' grave, which I had seen in pictures.

We were about to to give up and leave, when I noticed an Alabama state flag flyingby a grave, got out of the car and went over to investigate.  It was the grave of Father Ryan.  One down.

Still no Semmes, though, but I did notice another Alabama flag flying at another grave.  Hey, it just might be, so went over and there was Semmes' grave.  We had driven right by it a couple times. I got pictures at both graves.

A big thanks to the Semmes Camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans for putting up those flags!!

We never did find Eddie Stanky's grave, but do know how he came to be buried in Mobile.  He coached the University of South Alabama's baseball team near the end of his life.

Objectives Mostly Found.  --Old B-Runner

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Getting to Semmes' Grave Not Going to Be Easy

I found out that Raphael Semmes was buried in the Mobile Catholic Cemetery, off US-45 on Martin Luther King, Jr. Road.  From where we are, that is not going to be an easy drive.  Plus, one time we went to the southern terminus of US-45, here in Mobile and drove the road clear up into Illinois.

And one thing I remember, the part in Mobile did not go through the best of neighborhoods.

I also found out at the Poet of the Confederacy, Father Abram Joseph Ryan is buried there.  On a non-Civil War-related note, also, Major League Baseball player and manager, Eddie Stanky's remains are there as well.  He managed my all-time favorite White Sox team, the 1967 one that blew the American League pennant in the last five games of the season. 

How's this for a way to slide some baseball into an old war?  Just in case you're wondering why there are baseball puctures on a Civil War blog.

Still Thinking of Going to the Cemetery, Anyway.  --Old B-R'er

Welcome to Semmes, Alabama

Yesterday, while cruising into Mobile on US-98, we came across a town named Semmes, just west of Mobile.  I'd never heard of a Semmes, Alabama, but imagined with a name like that, it would have something to do with the Confederate naval hero.

I looked it up on Wikipedia and found out that it was formerly an unincorporated area that voted to become a city in 2010 and was incorporated just seven months ago, May 11, 2011.

And, it was named for Raphael Semmes, who served in the US Navy from 1820-1860  and the Confederate Navy from 1860 to 1865, best known for his command of the CSS Alabama, but he also commanded the CSS Sumter which also enjoyed a successful career attacking Union shipping.

It is hard to believe that in these tremendously anti-anything Confederate times, that a town would be allowed to name itself after a Confederate.

More Power to Them.  --Old B-Runner

Friday, January 6, 2012

Semmes Like the Thing to Do in Mobile

We're on our way down to Mobile, Alabama, for the Go-Daddy Bowl between the Arkansas State Red Wolves and our school, Northern Illinois Huskies. 

We've been to Mobile several times and have seen Forts Gaines and Morgan at the entrance to the bay, but have never seen the statue or grave of one of Mobile's most famous adopted sons, Confederate Admiral Raphael Semmes, he of the famous mustache and commander of the even more famous raider, the CSS Alabama.

This would seem a perfect time to do it as the game and festivities are all scheduled for night time on Saturday and Sunday.

Also, I understand that there now is a cannon raised from the wreck of the CSS Alabama at the Mobile Historical Museum.

A Real Naval Hero.  --Old B-Runner

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Looking Back to Wilmington, NC, in 1911

From the Jan. 3, 2012, Wilmington Star-News Looking Back Column.

Events from 1911.

The Civil War was still a big topic of conversation in the pages of the Wilmington papers.

During 1911:

** A statue of Confederate General Attorney and Wilmington resident George Davis put up on Third and Market streets.

**  Efforts  were being made to turn Fort Fisher into a state or national battlefield.  This was coming from both Union and Confederate veterans.

**  A huge reunion was held in Wilmington by both sides who fought at Fort Fisher.

These were some of the topics covered in the column from last year, when it went back to the stuff happening one hundred years ago.

Of interest, today's Wilmington Star-News dates back to the first issue of the Wilmington Evening Star on September 23, 1867.

Long Times Ago.  --Old B-Runner

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Naval Happenings 150 Years Ago: Jan 1 to 4th

JANUARY 1ST  USS Yankee and Anacostia engage Confederate batteries at Cockpit Point on the Potomac River, which is still partially blockaded on the south bank.  Attacks by the Potomac Flotilla eventually forced Confederate withdrawal.

Confederate commissioners Mason and Slidell left Boston headed for England.

JANUARY 2nd-  Five US ships ordered to Hatteras Inlet and efforts were being made to ready other ships for a joint attack on North Carolina's Roanoke Island, the key to Albemarle Sound.

Flag Officer Foote is trying to get crews aboard the Eads ironclads which have been delayed beyond his contract time.

JANUARY 5th--  Flag Officer Goldsborough writes General Burnside (these two were the joint commanders of the attack coming up on Roanoke Island) that the sooner he sends his first troops, the better.

Let's Giddy-Up and Go.  --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Fort Fisher Historian Visits Topsail Island

From the Dec. 14, 2011, Topsail (NC) Advertiser.

Chris Fonvielle, professor of history at UNC-Wilmington and author of several books on Wilmington's Civil War history, came out to the Historical Society of Topsail Island and gave a talk on his latest book "Fort Fisher 1865: The Complete Assemblage of T.H. O'Sullivan."  A short time after the fall of the fort in 1865, photographer O'Sullivan arrived at Fort Fisher to document it.

Dr. Fonvielle has gathered every known photo of the fort, including two of the Union fleet preparing to leave Hampton Roads on its way to attack.

O'Sullivan began his career as a photographer while still a teenager and worked for noted war photographer Matthew Brady.

I would sure like to get to see him at some time, but just live way too far away.

Missed Another One.  --Old B-R'er

Fort Fisher Anniversary Observed: The Lights of the Great Amada

This coming January 21-22, 2012, Fort Fisher, NC State Historic Site will host a commemoration of the 147th anniversary of the fall of the fort, Jan. 15, 1865.

Hours Saturday are 10-4 and Sunday 11 to 4 and there is free admission., but donations greatly appreciated.

There will be Civil War Naval and Marine LiNina History people on the premises as well as small arms and artillery demonstrations, a torpedo exhibit (mines during the Civil War) and a steam engine display.

Special guest will be author Dr. Robert M. Browning, Jr., Chief Historian of the USCG, who will give a talk on the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron.

State Deputy Chief Archaeologist Dr. Mark Wilde-Ramsing will discuss developments with the blockade-runner Modern Greece.

Larry Bopp and Steve Bockmiller of the USMC Historical Company will also have a special presentation.

Looks Like Another One I Will Be Missing.  Darn!  --Old B-Runner

Naval Happenings Dec. 27th-31st, 1861: More Money and Goodbye Biloxi

DECEMBER 30TH--  Flag Officer Foote wrote Secretary of Union Navy Welles what he was paying some of his men:  "In the case of Masters and Pilots, I have been obliged, in order to secure the services of efficient Men, to pay 1st Masters $150. per month, 2nd Masters $125. 3rd Masters $100. and 4th Masters $80. per month, while Pilots are paid $175. per month.  He went on to say that this was less than they would get during peace time.  I'm figuring they weren't Navy men, but hired for their knowledge of the rivers.  Pilots would be especially imporatnt in the narrow and shallow rivers.

DECEMBER 31ST--  Biloxi, Mississippi, surrendered to a landing party of sailors and Marines covered by the USS Water Witch, New London and Henry Lewis.  A small Confederate battery was destroyed, two guns and schooner Captain Spedden captured.

Two boats under Acting Masters A. Allen and H.L. Sturges from the USS Mount Vernon, destroyed the Confederate lightship off Wilmington which had been fitted out as a gun boat.

DECEMBER 31 TO JANUARY 2ND--  Naval squadron including USS Ottawa, Pembina and Seneca and four armed boats carry howitzers joined an amphibious attack on Confederate positions at Port Royal ferry and Coosaw River.  Disrupted Confederate attempts to isolate Union forces on Port Royal Island.

Could Have Used the Lightship.  --Old B-Runner

Monday, January 2, 2012

Naval Happenings Dec. 21st-26th, 1861: A Medal and a Confederate Victory

DECEMBER 21ST--  US Congress authorized the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest award.

DECEMBER 24TH--  Confederate Sec. of Navy Mallory writes General Polk commanding troops at Columbus, Kentucky, requesting furlough of troops to assist in the construction of ironclads at Memphis.  Getting materials for construction and skilled labor was a problem constantly facing Confederate ship construction.

DECEMBER 25TH--  USS Fernandina, Acting Lt. George W. Browne captured schooner William H. Northrup off Cape Fear, NC.

DECEMBER 26TH--  Confederate fleet (Savannah, Resolute, Sampson, Ida and Barton) under Commodore Tattnall attack Union blockading fleet off mouth of Savannah River and force them to temporarily move seaward.

A Rebel Victory of Sorts.  --Old B-R'er

Naval Happenings Dec. 10-20th, 1861: Lighthouse and Sunday Services

During the course of this Civil War Sesquicentennial, I will be reporting on some Naval actions as listed in the Civil War Naval Chronology.  I will always include anything taking place around Wilmington and the Cape Fear River in North Carolina, including blockade-runners being captured.

DECEMBER 15TH--  USS Jamestown, Cmdr. Green, captured Confederate sloop Havelock near Cape Fear River, NC.

DECEMBER 17TH--  Flag Officer Foote, commanding Naval forces in the Western Waters issued a General Order saying that he wished to have religious services on ships under his command on Sundays, "Discipline to be permanent must be based on moral grounds."

Also, seven of the "Stone Fleet" vessels sunk off the Savannah River.

DECEMBER 19TH--  Confederates demolish lighthouse on Morris Island, near Charleston, SC.

DECEMBER 20TH-- "Stone Fleet" sunk at Charleston by Captain C.H. Gordon.

Steamer Gordon ran the blockade off Wilmington.

Stone You, Stone Me.  --Old B-Runner

Sunday, January 1, 2012

The First Post

I have been anticipating this blog considerably as it will incorporate all aspects of the Naval Civil War, my primary interest in this period of US history.

I do not usually post on Sundays (I need a day off for crying out loud), but I want to start this one on the first day of the new year, and here we are.

This one is a direct outgrowth of my Civil War Blog, Saw the Elephant.  That one will continue, but will have little to do with anything Naval.  Such items as the Civil War Today, post Civil War happenings, interesting people and little-known battles will be found at that site.

The Saw the Elephant Blog grew out of my Down Da Road I Go Blog which was about what I was doing and anything I am interested in, like the Civil War, History, Music, boating and etc..

I will sign off with either Old B-Runner or Old B-R'er.

More Tomorrow.  --Old B-Runner