Fort Fisher

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

Saturday, March 31, 2012

William Barker Cushing, USN

From the January 29, 2011, African-American Soldiers and Sailors Blog.

From November 23-25, 1862, he steered the USS Ellis up New River to Jacksonville, North Carolina where he and the crew captured the Wilmington-bound mail, raised the U.S. flag over the courthouse, confiscated the local postmaster's shoes, seized two schooners and a number of stands of arms.

On his way back, Cushing came under fire of Confederate batteries and later grounded the Ellis on a sand bar and had to fight off Confederates for two days before finally being forced to scuttle his ship to avoid its capture.

He escaped in one of the two captured schooners.

He was best known for sinking the Confederate ironclad CSS Albemarle and also commanded a unit in the Navy-Marine attack on Fort Fisher.

Lincoln's Commando. --Old B-Runner

Friday, March 30, 2012

Lt. Thomas Postell Pelot

Since I'm on the subject and did a lot of research on this largely-unknown Confederate hero, I will continue with his life.

From Confederate Navy and Marine Corps Personnel by Terry Foenander.

** Born South Carolina about 1835. US Navy lieutenant resigned Jan. 7, 1861,. Was residing in Norfolk, Va., in 1860.

** 1st Lieutenant CSN Match 26, 1861.

** Savannah Station 1861-1864.

** Appointed command of side wheel-steamer CSS Oconee (originally CSS Savannah prior to April 1863) Savannah River, Georgia 1862-1863.

** Placed an ad in Savannah papers September 1862, offering a reward for two deserters.

** June 1863, command of the CSS Resolute.

** Also noted to be in command of ironclad floating battery CSS Georgia in June 1863.

** Appointed 1st Lt. Provisional Navy, to rank from Jan. 6, 1864.

** KIA June 2, 1864.

** Buried June 4, 1864 in Laurel Grove Cemetery in Savannah, Georgia.

Died in the Cause. --Old B-Runner

Thursday, March 29, 2012

James M. Pelot

I also came across this man in my Pelot research who may likely have been a brother of Thomas Pelot.

James M. Pelot was born in South Carolina in 1833 and served as an assistant surgeon on the privateer Lady Davis in South Carolina service.

he resided as a surgeon 1870-1880 in Saline County, Missouri.

From Confederate Naval and Marine Personnel.

Lt. Thomas Pelot, CSN

From the Pelot family genealogy.

Thomas Postell Pelot was born June 28 or 29, 1835. He is buried in Lot 778, Laurel Grove Cemetery.

He married Clara Therese Freeman of Beaufort, SC, who is buried at Magnolia Cemetery in Charleston, SC.

Pelot followed in the footsteps of his uncle John Francis Pelot and became a midshipman in the US Navy, entering in 1846. he also graduated from the US Naval Academy.

In 1862, he was ordered to take command of the CSS Savannah. There is a memorial for him at Magnolia Cemetery.

A Confederate Hero. --Old B-Runner

Naval Happenings 150 Years Ago: March 30th to April 1862

MARCH 30THFlag officer Foote orders USS Carondolet to float down Mississippi River past Island No.10 on the first foggy or rainy night to assist General Pope's army crossing the river to the Tennessee side. The ship did this five days later.


Combined Army-Navy expedition landed and spiked the guns of Fort No. 1 on the Tennessee shore above Island No.10


General McClellan arrives at Fort Monroe and intends to use of Navy in support of his Peninsular Campaign to take Richmond. Proposes to outflank Confederate positions by going up James and York rivers. Flag officer Goldsborough was to keep bulk of fleet in Hampton Roads should the CSS Virginia come out again. Union gunboats frequently bombarded Yorktown until it was evacuated May 3rd.

USS Mount Vernon, Commander Glisson, with USS Fernandina and Cambridge destroy the schooner Kate attempting to run the blockade near Wilmington.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Buried in Savannah

At Bonaventure Cemetery, Block L, Lot 603, JOHN ALBERT PETERSON, Served on the gunboat Savannah and member of Savannah Camp 738, UCV (United Confederate Veterans).

Reported as having been the last-living Confederate Naval veteran.

Born May 25, 1846. Died October 4, 1934.

I Wonder If he Was Actually the Last Confederate Naval Veteran? --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Naval Happenings 150 Years Ago: March 26-28, 1862


Flag Officer Foote was worried that some of his gunboats might get caught up the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers after the spring floods fall and told them to be careful. Also, if they deemed the water getting too low, they had to inform the local Union general of their withdrawal. Cooperation between the navy and army was becoming more and more paramount.

Also, he had reports that the Rebels had thirteen gunboats finished and ready to move up the Mississippi River. There were also 4 or 5 below New Madrid and the Manassas, ram, at Memphis.


Secretary of War Stanton instructed Engineer Charles Ellet, Jr. to go to Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and New Albany and provide steam rams to oppose enemy ironclads on western waters. Stanton described the Ellet rams as "powerful steamboats with their upper cabins removed, and bows filled in with heavy timber. It is not proposed to wait for putting on iron.

Flag Officer Du Pont reported that Confederate batteries at Skiddaway and Green Islands, Georgia, had been removed and placed closer to Savannah, giving the Union complete control over Wassaw and Ossabaw Sounds and the mouths of the Vernon and Wilmington Rivers, important approaches to the city.


A reconnaissance up the Mississippi River to Forts Jackson and St. Philip showed that at least two of the guns at Fort St. Philip could reach as far downriver as the stronger Fort Jackson. There were also obstructions consisting of a raft of logs and eight hulks moored abreast.

At Jacksonville, Florida, a Union expedition had gone up the St. John's River and raised the yacht America which had been sunk by Confederates and "it was generally believed she was bought by the rebels for the purpose of carrying Slidell and Mason to England.

And, It Continues. --Old B-Runner

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Some Illegal Trade in Wilmington-- Part 1

I was unaware of this, but Charles M. Robinson III brought this up in his book "Hurricane of Fire." He suggests that a third possible reason why the Union did not move to close Wilmington was that there was money to be made by illegal trade with the South by certain elements in the North.

He says that this situation has long been established (I never heard of it, but don't doubt it). One blockade-running captain even said that some of the ships were actually fitted out in New York City. There was also trade through neutral countries.

The American counsel in Nassau was aware that American goods there were destined for the Confederacy. The consul in Liverpool complained that beef from Cleveland and pork from Cincinnati were landed there for transshipment to Bermuda and into the South.

Stuff I Didn't Know. --Old B-Runner

Friday, March 23, 2012

Hurricane of Fire: The Union Assault on Fort Fisher-- Part 2

One thing I really like about this book is that it is based on the naval perspective of the battle. Robinson dwells on the navy's role in the battle from the bombardment to the assault by sailors and Marines. Evidently much space will be given to why the fort wasn't attacked earlier than near the end of the war, especially with all the success of the blockade-runners in bringing all the war materials into the Confederacy.

From his Author's Note,Robinson hopes to change the perception of Rear Admiral Samuel P. Lee's role (one that I'm not well-versed.

I was able to read the first two chapters on the plane ride. The first one primarily covered North Carolina's secession and the second Northern operations in the state from 1861 to the end of April 1862. The February to April 1862 operations ended up with most of North Carolina's coastal area coming under Federal control.

However, the author did have some confusion with Topsail Inlet being by Beaufort and Fort Macon. It is farther down the coast, nearer to Wilmington.

In 1861, Hatteras Inlet was captured, then in quick succession, starting in February 1862, Roanoke Island. Then, in March, New Bern fell and Fort Macon in April.

You'd have to think that the Union forces would just go ahead and finish off Wilmington with all this success and be done with it, but they didn't.

Of course, all of this is occurring during the sesquicentennial of the war, 150 years ago.

Looking Forward to Reading This Book. --Old B-Runner

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Hurricane of Fire: The Union Assault on Fort Fisher-- Part 1

Flew from Milwaukee to Raleigh this past Tuesday and bought this book at the Renaissance Books in the General Mitchell Airport terminal in Milwaukee. This is a first-class used bookstore with all sorts of books, but I am especially fond of their Civil War collection. They have two huge shelving units full of books, and, even better, two full shelves of books pertaining to the oft-overlooked Naval side of the war.

I had, at one time, been planning to write my own book on what I considered the extremely overlooked Battle of Fort Fisher. This is the battle that got me interested in history and the Civil War. But, starting in the 1990s, books were written so I did not feel it necessary to continue with my research.

This book is written by Charles M. Robinson III from Texas, but who spent his childhood summers with grandparents in Wilmington and first saw Fort Fisher in 1957, about the same time I did. He has also written"Shark of the Confederacy: The Story of the CSS Alabama."

I already have most of the books about the battle, but not this one, written in 1998.

More to Come. --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Naval Happenings 150 Years Ago: March 22- 25th ,1862


Confederate General Lowell wrote from New Orleans that the River Defense Fleet consisted of six steamers. There was some concern among citizens when the fleet sent North on the river, but Confederates considered attack from the North to be most serious threat, not Farragut's fleet below the two forts.


CSS Pamlico and CSS Oregon engaged USS New London at Pass Christian, Mississippi, in a two hour engagement. Neither side damaged. Transports with General Butler and troops arrived at Ship Island, Mississippi which had become the principal operations center west of Key West until Pensacola retaken. These troops to be used in the attack and occupation of New Orleans.

Flag Officer Tattnall ordered to take command of the CSS Virginia because Buchanan injured.

Noose Tightening at New Orleans. --Old B-R'er

Naval Happening 150 Years Ago: March 17-22nd ,1862


The CSS Nashville ran the blockade out of Beaufort, NC. This caused fears in Washington, DC, and some even regarded it as the Navy's Bull Run.


The British blockade-runner Emily St. Pierre captured Charleston. The master and steward were left on board and recaptured the ship and sailed to Liverpool, England. Bet that didn't happen to often.


Foote still attacking Island No. 10 and meeting big resistance.


Confederates are hurriedly building defenses along the James River, especially at Drewry's Bluff, about seven miles downriver. Obstructions also being placed in the river. During most of the war, Confederate Naval gun crews manned these fortifications.


The British steamer Oreto, cleared Liverpool. It is actually Confederate commerce raider CSS Florida, the first ship built for the Confederacy. It's four 7-inch rifled cannons sent to Nassau separately. Commander Bulloch, CSN, wrote that another ship would be ready in two months saying that two ships like this won't turn the tide of war but will "illustrate the spirit and energy of our people."

Commerce Raiders and Forts!! --Old B-Runner

Monday, March 19, 2012

Confederate Naval Personnel Also Buried in Savannah

From the site.

Also buried at Laurel Grove Cemetery in Savannah.


1st Assistant Engineer. Born Edgefield County, SC. Died 19 April 1889. Served on the CSS Sumter, CSS Alabama and CSS Stonewall. Served under Rafael Semmes.


Born in Virginia. Appointed from Missouri, Acting Midshipman July 6, 1862. Midshipman Provisional Navy June 2, 1864. Served on CSS Patrick Henry in 1863. On CSS Savannah, Savannah Squadron in 1864. Participated in the capture of the USS Water Witch June 3, 1864 and was wounded.

I would have to wonder why Minor never rose above midshipman?

I'll Have to Check These Graves Out Next Time in Savannah. --Old B-r'er

Some More on Lt. Thomas P. Pelot, CSN

He is one of the heroes of the war that you don't often hear about.

Pelot also commanded the General Clinch, a sidewheel steamer of 256 tons mounting two brass guns.

Lt. Pelot is buried in Savannah's Long Grove Cemtery. He was born in 1837.

The inscription on his tombstone reads:

Lieutenat/ Thomas Postell Pelot/ C.S. Navy/killed in the defense of Savannah/ He died victorious on the quarter/ deck of the U.S. Steamer Water Witch/ captured in Ossabow Sound by a/ Naval boat expedition under his/ command/ June 2, 1864.

Getting His Due. --Old B-Runner

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Lt. Thomas Pelot, CSN: Capturing the USS Water Witch

Pelor and his second in command, Lt. (jg) Joseph Price left the night of June 1st in seven rowboats with muffled oars, but their quarry slipped away before they could find it. They continued searching and found the USS Water Witch anchored at Ossabow Sound, about three miles from where they thought it was.

On June 2nd, they set out to capture it at night, and, despite some confusion and rain, found the vessel.

They sighted it about 2 AM, June 3rd. Union sentries spotted them and opened fire, but the Confederates were able to board the ship. Pelot was the first on board and was immediately shot through the heart and died instantly.

Five other Confederates were killed and eleven wounded, but they captured the Water Witch and its 80 man crew which suffered 2 dead, 12 wounded and the rest captured.

Quite a Nice Confederate Victory, Even with the Cost. --Old B-Runner

Friday, March 16, 2012

Lt. Thomas Pelot, CSN: Early Career

From Feb. 15, 2011, Charleston (SC) Post and Courier by Gary Nichols of the Citadel.

Thomas Pelot graduated from the US Naval Academy in 1853 at the age of 17. At the onset of the Civil War, he resigned his commission and became a lieutenant in the Confederate States Navy.

Assigned command of the iron rug Lady Davis in Charleston Harbor, he captured the USS A.B. Thompson and took her to Beaufort, South Carolina.

Promoted to first lieutenant, he was placed in command of the floating battery CSS Georgia as part of the Savannah Squadron commanded by Flag Officer William W. Hunter. Late in 1864, he was placed in command of an expedition to seize and capture an enemy vessel reportedly anchored at the mouth of the Little Ogeechee Eiver, south of Savannah.

His force consisted of 12 officers and 115 men selected from the crews of the Georgia, ironclad Savannah and gunboat Sampson.

A Daring Deed in the Planning. --Old B-Runner

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Confederate Marines Aboard the CSS Atlanta When Captured

Along with Lt. James North Thurston, these Confederate Marines were captured June 17, 1863:

Ordinary Sgt David Williams
Corporal Morris Welch
Corporal Edward Brennan
Corporal William Dunlop
Fifer John Brodrick

These men were all privates:

G.W. Andrews
John Carr
Francis Conway
Joseph Cosmane
Thomas Delaney
Thomas Donnigan
John Dumy
Anton Garcia
Patrick Jones
Luke Malloy
Patrick McCabe
Thomas Monagan
Michael Nagles
N.N. Poster
Daniel Riordan
John Rourke
Daniel Sheldon
T.S. Thrallkald
Thomas Voitch
Thomas Winn
John Yarborough

A Good-sized Marine Contingent on the Ship. --Old B-R'er

CSS Atlanta/USS Atlanta

Lt. James North Thurston, CSMC, was aboard the CSS Atlanta when it was captured June 17, 1863. It had previously been the blockade-runner Fingal before conversion into an ironclad. After capture, the Atlanta became a US warship until the end of the war. Decommissioned June 21, 1865, it was sold May 4, 1869 and then purchased by Haiti for $160,000 in gold. It sank December 1869 off Cape Hatteras on its way to that country.

And, That's the Story. --Old B-Runner

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Some More on James North Thurston, CSMC

Born October 25, 1840, in South Carolina and died April 13, 1904. Buried at Green Mount Cemetery in Baltimore, Maryland.

He was captured on the CSS Atlanta and imprisoned at Fort Warren from whence he escaped August 19, 1863, for a short time before being recaptured. Fort Warren was a better prison than most. Only a dozen deaths occurred there along with seven escapes, of which four were recaptured.

Thurston was paroled and exchanged at Cox's Wharf, Virginia, October 18, 1864.

Runaway, Runaway. --Old B-R'er

James North Thurston, CSMC

From the Yahoo Civil War Navy and Marine Forum.

Someone wrote in looking for more information on this man. He was the first Citadel graduate to serve in the CS Marine Corps after being a member of the famous Citadel Star of the West Battery which fired what some consider to be the first shots of the war on the Star of the West in Charleston Harbor.

Thurston was one of 22 officers selected to be the initial cadre of the Confederate Marines.

He was captured but made a daring escape from Union Fort Delaware and after the war was a business owner.

From the Biographical Sketches Commissioned Officers of the Confederate States Marine Corps.

The Confederate Marines!! --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Capture of St. Augustine and Fort Marion

From the Feb. 25th Historic City News "Retaking of Fort Marion-150th Anniversary"

March 10th there was a re-enactment staged by the National Park Service at Castillo de San Marcos (called Fort Marion during the war).

There were three performances with an artillery demonstration at 10:30 AM when the American flag will be lowered and replaced with a Confederate First National. Before 11 AM and again at 3 PM, a re-enactor playing the role of then-St. Augustine Mayor Bravo will go to the gun deck of the fort and raise a white flag of surrender.

Union naval re-enactors will then accept the surrender and raise the Stars and Stripes again.

The surrender of the town took place 150 years ago, March 11, 1862.

One More Nail in the Confederate Coffin. --Old B-Runner

Going Back to the Battle of the Ironclads: Catesby ap Roger Jones, CSN

Lt. Catesby ap Roger Jones had directed the conversion of the USS Merrimack into the CSS Virginia and was very disappointed when he was not given command of the Virginia instead of Franklin Buchanan.

I have often wondered what the "ap" in his name was all about. Turns out that is is Welsh for "son of." His mother was a cousin of Robert E. Lee.

After commanding the Virginia in her historic battle with the Monitor, he was sent to Drewry's Bluff, guarding the approach to Richmond on the James River. From there, he went on to command the CSS Chattahoochee during her construction at Saffold, Georgia.

His final Civil War posting was at the Selma, Alabama, in charge of the important Ordnance Works which manufactured guns for the Confederacy. The ironclad CSS Tennessee was also built in Selma so I'm sure he kept an eye on that.

After the war, he was shot and killed June 20, 1877, by another man as a result of a feud between their two sons. Jones is buried in Live Oak Cemetery in Selma, Alabama.

Quite a Life for Mr. ap. --Old B-R'er

Naval Happenings 150 Years Ago: March 13-17th,1862: Fall of New Bern

From Civil War Naval Chronology.


The mortar flotilla arrives at Ship Island off Mississippi. Five days later they cross the bar into the Mississippi River in preparation for bombardments of Forts Jackson and St. Philip.


Joint amphibious attack under Commander Rowan and General Burnside capture New Bern, North Carolina. There were thirteen warships and transports carrying 12,000 troops and Marines. Forts Dixie, Ellis, Thompson and Lane captured. Obstructions on the river, including torpedoes were passed.

Flag Officer Foote departed Cairo, Illinois, with seven gunboats and ten mortar boats to attack Island No. 10.


Foote commences bombardment of Island No. 10.


First elements of Union general McClellan's Army of the Potomac depart Alexandria, Virginia, to Fort Monroe to begin the Peninsular Campaign to capture Richmond. The troops were to be supported by the Navy on the flanks.

Chipping Away at the Confederacy. --Old B-Runner

Monday, March 12, 2012

Naval Happenings 150 Years Ago: March 9-13th ,1862


Naval force under Commander Godon, consisting of the USS Mohican, Pocahontas and Poromsca took possession of St. Simons and Jeckyl Islands and landed at Brunswick, Georgia. All locations had been previously been abandoned by Confederates in keeping with Lee's directive to abandon minor points along the coast.

Landing parties from two Union ships destroyed abandoned Confederate batteries at Cockpit Point and Evansport, Virginia, and found CSS Page blown up.


Flag Officer Farragut manages to get fleet across the bar to the Head of Passes at the Mississippi River's mouth. The expected 19-foot bar turned out to be 15 feet.


Landing party under Cmdr. Rodgers of the USS Wabash, occupied St. Augustine, Florida, which had been evacuated by Confederate forces.

Two Confederate gunboats under construction at Pensacola Bay, Florida, burned in expectation of a Union Naval attack.


Landing party from the USS Ottawa occupies Jacksonville, Florida without opposition.

USS Tyler and Lexington engage Confederate battery at Chickasaw, Alabama, on Tennessee River.


Confederate troops evacuate New Madrid, Missouri.

Loss After Loss for the Confederacy, Most Without Opposition. --Old B-Runner

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Fort Fisher Ferry Rates to Be Hiked

From the March 8th Wilmington(NC) Star-News.

Like every state, North Carolina is having financial problems. The governor has proposed raising fares on the state ferries, including the Fort Fisher-Southport one that takes you across the Cape Fear River near its mouth.

Right now, the fare is $5 a car and passengers each way, a really good deal. It is proposed to raise fares to $10 for car and driver and an additional $2 per passenger.

i still do not feel this is outrageous as it is a 30-40 minute trip and probably saves 40-50 miles if you have to drive north to Wilmington to cross the river. And, then, there is the horrific Wilmington traffic where it seems everyone drives all the time.

I am sure this will have an impact on visitors to Fort Fisher, unfortunately.

Still a Deal. --Old B-R'er

They Came and Went at Fort Fisher

From the March 6th WWAY 3 ABC "Students spent spring break sorting Civil War shipwreck artifacts" by Marissa Jasek.

They came from East Carolina and UNC-Wilmington universities this past week and spent three days, Monday-Wednesday, sorting through artifacts from the blockade-runner Modern Greece which was sunk 150 years ago in 1862. More than 1,1000 artifacts were removed from the wreck on the 100th anniversary of its sinking in 1962.

Many of them are just now being conserved, having spent the last 50 years in tanks of water.

They are not doing this for credit, either. It is strictly volunteer. As of March 6th, they had already catalogued a couple hundred items.

ECU grad student Nicole Wittig said, "No key West for us! We are all volunteering. This is the second year for us coming down during our spring break for a couple days."

I Sure Would Have Liked to Have Been there with Them. Where Do I Volunteer? --Old B-Runner

Friday, March 9, 2012

Crowds Expected for Ironclad Excitement

From the March 8th Newport News Daily Press "Ironclad excitement: Crowds expected for weekend marking the 150th anniversary of USS Monitor's famous battle" by Sam McDonald.

This battle affected naval architecture and technology for decades to come. Even some of today's warships still have turret guns. And ships are still built of steel. But, what occurred at Hampton Roads on March 9, 1862, is all over the news today.

It will be remembered this week at the center of all things Monitor, the Mariners' Museum at Hampton Roads, Virginia, just a few miles from where the fight took place.

The museum has over 1,100 Monitor artifacts from the wreck, including the steam engine, propeller and the famous turret. All this is housed in a $30 million, 65,000 square foot USS Monitor Center opened in 2007 and now featuring a full-size replica of the Monitor.

Lots of events are scheduled for their 10th Annual Battle of Hampton Roads Weekend. All weekend long there will be Civil War Living History featuring an encampment, recently conserved Monitor artifacts and era cooking. Also, a motor coach tour will be taken of Peninsula Civil War sites. I sure would like to attend the symposium on the event. Plus, there will be the Battle of Ironclad Chefs.

I Really Should Be There. Oh, Well. Tomorrow I Will Be in Milwaukee Celebrating Their St. Patrick's Day Parade and Festivities. Corned Beef and Cabbage and Green Beer Will Just Have to Do. --Old B-Runner

Monitor Vs. Virginia Facts

From the March 7th New American.

**When the CSS Virginia attacked the USS Congress, again, it became a brother versus brother war. Franklin Buchanan, commanding the Confederate ironclad was attacking a ship commanded by McKean Buchanan, his brother. (Elsewhere, I find that J. McKean Buchanan was the paymaster of the USS Congress, but did not get hurt in the action.)

**During the battle with the CSS Virginia, the Monitor fired shells with a 15-pound charge instead of the 30-pound that 11-inch Dahlgren guns could fire. Instead of bouncing off the sides of the Virginia, it is likely that the shells might have penetrated.

**The Union ended up building about 60 ironclads, nearly all variations of the Monitor.

**Sixteen sailors died when the Monitor sank Dec. 31, 1862. A plaque was dedicated to the Monitor;s crew March 7th at the US Navy Memorial Foundation at the Navy memorial in Washington, D.C..

** The reconstructed faces of the two Monitor crew members were carefully delivered by UPS in custom-made, shock-proof containers especially made in Chicago for the delivery.

Just In case You Didn't Know. --Old B-R'er

Nvaal Events 150 Years Ago: March 9, 1862: It's Ironclad Time!


USS Monitor arrives at Hampton Roads, Va. at night and takes up position between CSS Virginia and USS Minnesota. An extremely timely arrival.


Engagement lasting four hours between the USS Monitor, Lt. Worden and CSS Virginia, Lt. Jones. Neither side could claim a clear victory, but a new era of naval warfare ushered in as a result. The blockade remained intact, but the Virginia remained a huge threat to all Naval and Army operations in the area.

Serious damage done to USS Minnesota by the Virginia during an interlude in the fight with the Monitor.

Wrote Captain Levin M.Powell of the USS Potomac, "..the face of naval warfare looks the other way now--and the superb frigates and ships of the line...supposed capable a month ago, to destroy anything afloat in half an hour...are very much diminished in their proportions, and the confidence once reposed in them very much shaken in the presence of these astounding facts."

Captain Dahlgren phrased it: "Now comes the reign of iron--and cased sloops are to take the place of wooden ships."

So, much like what happened after Pearl Harbor some 80 years later, the face of naval warfare changed dramatically. Wood out. Iron in. At Pearl, it was battleship out, aircraft carrier in.

However, those warships in Pearl Harbor were clearly the descendants of the two iron vessels who battled it out at Hampton Roads this day, 150 years ago.

And, Iron We Go. --Old B-Runner

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Naval Events of 150 Years Ago, March 8, 1862: The CSS Virginia Attacks

The year 1862 had not been a good one to Confederate hopes so far. Forts Henry and Donelson has been taken, opening the center of the Confederate west. Nashville, Tennessee, and Columbus, Kentucky, had fallen as a result.

Union forces were getting ready to attack Island No. 10 on the Mississippi. Another Federal fleet was getting ready to attack New Orleans.

On the Atlantic, things were also bad. Roanoke Island had fallen, opening the way for Union incursions along the North Carolina Sounds deep inland.

Fort Clinch, Florida had fallen along with Amelia Island.

And, then, came today and a brief fling with glory.


The ironclad CSS Virginia under Captain Buchanan destroyed the Union ships USS Congress and Cumberland in Hampton Roads, Virginia. The Virginia had not had sea trials or training and headed straight for the Union fleet.

First, the Virginia attacked the Cumberland, ramming that ship which sank rapidly, firing its guns as it went down.

Then, the Virginia turned to attack the Congress, which had run aground and set her ablaze with hot shot and incendiary shell.

However, the Confederate ship's ram broke off in the Cumberland and Buchanan was wounded and had to turn over command to Lt. Catesby ap R. Jones.

The Virginia withdrew, planning on returning the next day to destroy the USS Minnesota and any other Union ships it could engage.

And, We Know What Happened Next. --Old B-Runner

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Faces of Two USS Monitor Crew Reconstructed-- Part 2

When the Monitor sank, some of those missing fell into the sea and died and others went down with the ship. These last two from the turret must have been just about to exit the ship when it went down.

Other items found in the turret when it was raised were uniform scraps, a pair of shoes, buttons and a silver spoon.

Some information on the two sailors has been determined. One was between 17 and 24 and the other in his 30s. Both were Caucasian and so not one of the three black sailors to die that night. The older one could be one of two matches and the younger one of four possible.

There is strong evidence that the older one might be Robert Williams who was listed at 5'8" and a quarter and 5'8" and a half in various records. The skeleton they think might be his has one leg shorter than the other so the height discrepancy may be due to which leg he was favoring when measured.

If this is his skeleton, a possible family relation in Wales will be sought as that was where he was from.

Another thing causing identification problems was the wide-spread use of aliases in the Union Navy during the war.

Facial reconstruction was done at the Louisiana Repository for Unidentified and Missing Persons Information Database at Louisiana State University.

That Would Be Something If the Two Men Were Identified. --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Faces of Two USS Monitor Crewmembers Reconstructed-- Part 1

From the March 3rd Delaware Online "Faces of 2 USS Monitor crewmembers reconstructed" by Steve Szkotak, AP.

When the turret of the USS Monitor was raised, the remains of two who did not make it off the ship that fateful day when it sank were found. A rubber comb was found near one and a ring on the other. Beyond that, it is not known for sure who they might be and that has been an effort ever since.

March 6th, the forensic reconstructed faces will be revealed in Washington at the US Navy Memorial where a plaque will be dedicated to the Monitor's crew. It is hoped that perhaps someone will be able to identify the two men. This was done by Louisiana State University using the skulls as the base for a face.

Should these reconstructed faces reveal the identities, there is hope they will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

As We Rapidly Approach That Famous Battle. --Old B-Runner

Marine Corps Officers Breveted for Action at Fort Fisher

From Officers in the Continental US Navy and Marine Corps 1775 to 1900.

E.P. MECKER-- 2nd Lt. Breveted to Captain Jan 14, 1865, for gallant and meritorious service at Fort Fisher Jan. 13, 14 and 15, 1865. Retired 1893.

L.L. DAWSON-- Breveted to major 14 Jan 1865. Resigned Dec. 1880.

F.H. CORRIS-- Brevet captain 14 Jan. 1865 at Fort Fisher. Retired 1885.

GEORGE BUTLER-- Brevet to major. Died 1884.

CHARLES F. WILLIAMS-- Brevet to captain. Died at Mare Island 1900.

WILLIAM WALLACE-- Brevet captain. Died 1883.

LOUIS E. FAGAN-- Brevet captain. Retired 1892.

W.H. PARKER-- Brevet to major. Retired 1872.

Some Bravery Here. --Old B-R'er

Yet Another Meade: Robert Leamy Meade, USMC

The Meade family had yet another Richard W. Meade II son fighting for the Union, this one in the Marine Corps. This also made him a nephew of Union General George Gordon Meade. Born December 25, 1842, and died Feb. 11, 1910.

Robert L. Meade was commissioned a 2nd Lt. in the Marines in 1862 and led a battalion of Marines in the suppression of the New York City Draft Riots in 1863, before taking part in the boat assault on Fort Sumter September 8, 1863.

During the Spanish-American War of 1898, he was the Fleet Marine officer in New York City and took part in the Battle of Santiago de Cuba. Later, he saw action in the Boxer Rebellion in China. He was promoted to colonel in 1899 and later breveted to brigadier general.

He is buried in Huntington Rural Cemetery in Huntington, New York.

Yet Another Fighting Meade. --Old Secesh

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Union Navy's First Ironclad Wasn't the Monitor-- Part 3: The USS Michigan/Wolverine

The USS Michigan continued in Naval service after the Civil War. In 1866, the ship captured and interned the army of the Fenian Brotherhood while they were returning from their invasion of Canada.

In 1905, its name was changed to the Wolverine so the Navy could build the battleship USS Michigan. In 1913, towed the brig USS Niagara around the Great Lakes in commemoration of the centennial of the War of 1812's Battle of Lake Erie in 1813.

It served as a training ship for the Pennsylvania State Militia from 1913 to 1923 when the engine broke and ended her active career. In 1927, the hulk was pushed onto a sand bank in Misery Bay on Presque Isle State Park Peninsula and loaned to the city of Erie, Pennsylvania, as a relic.

In 1948 it was sold to the Foundation for the Preservation of the Original USS Michigan, Inc., but they were unable to raise funds for its preservation and restoration and later that year, the hulk was cut up and sold for salvage. The following year, the prow was erected as a monument in Wolverine Park in Erie.

It was getting into bad shape when, in 1988, it was moved to the Erie Maritime Museum, preserved and it is still there.

The History of a Ship. --B-R'er

The Fighting Meade Family: Henry Meigs Meade

The brother of Richard Worsam Meade III was born Jan. 4, 1840, in New York and served as acting paymaster USN in 1862 and paymaster in 1863. His Civil War service was mostly on the USS New York from 1862 to 1864 and on the USS Mattabessett in the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron. (The ship-of-the-line USS New York was burned in 1861 at Norfolk. Another Civil War era New York was never launched.)

After the war he was on the USS Juanita in the South Atlantic Squadron in 1867 and the USS Kearsarge in the South Pacific Squadron 1868-1869.

He resigned in 1872 and died April 12, 1897 and is buried next to his brother at Arlington National Cemetery. Both died within a month of each other.

This Was All I Could Find on Him. --Old B-Runner

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Fort Clinch Fell Today, 150 Years Ago

I wrote about it earlier this week in the Naval Happenings 150 Years Ago entry. I also have a more in depth history of the fort on one of today's entries on my Saw the Elephant Blog.

Richard Worsam Meade III, USN

From Wikipedia.

Bon October 9, 1837, died in Washington DC, May 4, 1897, a month after his brother, Lt.Cmdr Henry Meigs Meade, USN. They are buried next to each other.

Graduated from US Naval Academy Annapolis in 1856 and served on the USS Merrimack, Cumberland and sloop of war Dale.

In 1862, he was executive officer on the steam sloop Dacotah. Later, he participated in the suppression of the New York Draft Riots of July 1863.

Commanded the USS Louisville on the Mississippi River in 1862, the USS Marblehead in South Carolina waters 1863-64 and the USS Chocura in the Gulf of Mexico from 1864-1865.

He married Rebecca Paulding, daughter of Rear Admiral Hiram Paulding.

Continued serving after the war and became prominent reformist and technological-minded officer, eventually rising to the rank of rear admiral.

Two ships have been named after him and his brother, Brig. General Robert Leamy Meade, USMC.

This is one fighting family.

Like Father, Like Son. --Old B-Runner

Richard Worsam Meade II, USN

Last year, I wrote about Richard Kidder Meade, who was a Union officer at Fort Sumter, but later resigned and became a Confederate officer. You can find those entries on my Saw the Elephant blog.

I had wondered if he might have been related to Union General George G. Meade, hero of Gettysburg. He wasn't, but I did come across one of the general's brothers in the Navy and a nephew, also in the Navy who were in the Civil War.

Richard Worsam Meade II, was born in Spain and was the brother of General Meade. He entered the Navy as a midshipman in 1826 and was made lieutenat in 1837. After that, he saw intermitant service util resigning in 1855.

With the onset of the Civil War, he returned to duty with the rank of commander and commanding the SS North Carolina, a former ship-of-the-line, now a receiving ship in New York Harbor.

He eventually became commander of the famous USS San Jacinto (of the Trent Affair) until that ship ran aground in the Bahamas January 1, 1865.

He retired in 1867 and died in Brooklyn, NY, on April 16, 1870.

He was the father of Richard Worsam Meade III who I will write about in my next blog.

It's a Meade Thing. --Old B-R'er

Naval Happenings 150 Years Ag0: March 4 to 6th, 1862:


Union Army rapidly going down the Mississippi River, covered by Flag Officer Foote's flotilla, occupy Columbus, Kentucky, formerly a lynch pin in Confederate defenses in the west. Confederates had already evacuated the city. Left quite a bit of armament including remnants of the vaunted chain that had been stretched across the river and torpedoes..

Brig. General Cullom wrote, "Columbus, the Gibraltar of the West, is ours and Kentucky is free."

Confederate Secretary of the Navy writes to President Davis that the Navy needs 64 ships as well as more sailors. Not that he was going to get them.


Foote reports that his ironclads could not immediately attack Island No. 10, downriver from Columbus because of damage received at Forts Henry and Donelson.

Farragut issued a general order calling for gun drill and drill to stop shot holes and extinguish fires as he expects Confederates to fire both cold and hot shots when moving against New Orleans.


Lt. Worden reports the USS Monitor had crossed the bar at New York harbor with the USS Currituck and Sachem. To speed up trip to Hampton Roads, Va., had been taken under tow of the tug Seth Low.

Now, just three days before the Battle of the Ironclads.

Feelin' a Storm Approachin'. --Old B-Runner

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Union Navy's First Iron Ship Wasn't the Monitor-- Part 2

Confederate Operations in te Great Lakes.

There was a large prison camp for Confederate officers on Johnson's Island in Sanduskey Bay on Ohio's western Lake Erie coast. Confederate officials developed a conspiracy to break them out and form a Confederate Army and attack Ohio's North Coast.

One plan caled for the sieizure of the passenger steamers Philo Parsons and Island Queen to take over the camp. The other, more difficult one, was to seize the USS Michigan, which would, in effect, give the Confederacy control of the whole of the Great Lakes.

From mounting a single 18-pdr. cannon before the war, the Michigan's armament had been increased to one 30-pdr. Parrott rifle, five 20-pdr Parrott rifles, six 24-pdr. smoothbores and two 12-pdr. boat howitzers.

One of the USS Michigan's major jobs during the war was to protect that prison camp.

The plans, however, were discovered in advance and foiled.

During the course of the war, some 10,000 Confederate prisoners were held at Johnson's Island and relatively few escaped. After the war, the buildings and supplies either were salvaged or sold off and the island reverted to private ownership.

Around the turn of last century, there was an attempt to turn the island into a pleasure resort to compete with pre-amusement park Cedar Point, but that failed. The only evidence of the camp are several historical signs and a well-maintained Confederate cemetery where 200 are buried.

The rest of the island is in private hands, but you can access the cemetery via a causeway for $2.

That Would Have Been Interesting Had the Confederates Succeeded in Seizing the Michigan. --Old B-R'er

The Union Navy's First Iron Ship Wasn't the Monitor-- Part 1

From the Lakewood Observer by Gary Rice.

With all the talk of the fast-approaching 150th anniversary of the Battle of the Ironclads, the USS Monitor vs. CSS Virginia, the US Navy's first iron ship is often overlooked. It was the USS Michigan, launched in 1843.

Powered both by side wheel paddles and wind, it was sleek and beautiful compared to the squat Monitor and Virginia. It was also one of the first modular vessels, with its parts being made in Pittsburgh then down the Ohio River and then north on the Ohio and Erie Canal to Cleveland and then to Erie, Pennsylvania for final assembly. Remember, this was in the days before the St. Lawrence Seaway and a ship could not go from the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes.


When the Michigan was launched, the ship got stuck part way down the ramp. No efforts would budge the ship. Everyone left for the night and were surprised the next day to find the ship floating in the bay. It had launched herself.

Then came the problem of cannons. The ship had been built to mount heavy cannons, but an existing agreement between Canada and the US limited guns that could be carried on the Great Lakes. The ship had to carry light armament until the Civil War.

Guarding the Confeds. --Old B-Runner

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Naval Happenings 150 Years Ago: March 1 ,1862


Union gunboats engage Confederates fortifying Shiloh (Pittsburg Landing) site of the upcoming Battle of Shiloh. Sailors put ashore to fight. Flag officer Foote tells ship commanders to no longer land men to fight ashore as there are just enough to man the guns on ships.Let the Army fight on land.

Foote also again requests funds to turn captured Confederate gunboat Eastport into a Union warship.

USS Mount Vernon, Cmdr. Glisson, captures blockade-runner British Queen off Wilmington with cargo including salt and coffee.


Flag Officer Du Pont, commanding a joint expedition to Fernandina, Florida (northeast corner of state) reports capturing all of Cumberland Island and sound, Fernandina and Amelia Island, and town of St. Mary's. Confederates were in the process of withdrawing heavy guns and offered little resistance. (following General Lee's directive).

Fort Clinch, on Amelia Island, taken by a boat crew from the USS Ottawa. Becomes the first former US fort to be retaken.

Another Chunk of the Confederacy, Gone. --Old B-Runner