Fort Fisher

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

Friday, December 28, 2012

War Along the South Carolina Coast

From the August 25, 2012, WIS TV 10 "Poor Fort Sumter: Museum curator describes destruction" by Renee Standera.

The head South Carolina State Museum Curator of History, JoAnn Zeise, described the destruction of Fort Sumter.  It was bombarded at the beginning of the war, then on a regular basis starting in 1863 until those tall brick walls were reduced to rubble.

The museum's newest exhibit "Naval War on the Coast" tells of the fort's woes and is one of six planned in the future.

Other items of interest:

**  At Port Royal in 1861, it was brother versus brother.  Captain Percival Drayron commanded the USS Pochahontas battling his brother Confederate General Thomas Drayton in the forts.  Port Royal then became a major Union base for the duration of the war.

**  Then, there were the blockade-runners, a very specifically designed ship (especially toward the end of the war).  Sleek, fast and hard to see to run through the Union blockade.

**  South Carolina ladies learned that their New Orleans counterparts had raised money to build ironclads.  They held balls and other things to raise money to help finance the four ironclads built at Charleston: Palmetto State, Chicora, Columbia and  Charleston.

Old B-Runner

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Naval Happenings 150 Years Ago: December 28 to 31st-- Loss of the Monitor


Porter's gunboats supported General Sherman's attempt to capture Confederate-held Chickasaw Bluffs, upstream from Vicksburg.  Union forces forced to withdraw.


The USS Monitor foundered and was lost off Cape Hatteras en route from Hampton Roads to Beaufort, NC.  This ship accomplished much in its short ten-month career.

The Confederate embargo, the capture of New Orleans and a blockade that continued to improve greatly curtailed the export of the South's major product, cotton.  Meanwhile, the Union's control of the seas ensured their goods reached foreign markets and paid for war materials.

Old B-R'er

The First Battle of Fort Fisher 148 Years Ago Today


Fort Fisher remains in Confederate hands.  General Butler and his troops departs for Hampton Roads.

FROM NOON TO LATE AFTERNOON Confederate General Bragg arrives at Sugar Loaf.  General Hoke with Hagood's Brigade and the rest of Kirkland's men arrive later in the afternoon.


Instead of overwhelming Curtis's vulnerable troops, Bragg lets them escape and they are rescued from the beach.

As the Union fleet departs, Lamb orders Fort Fisher to fire one last defiant parting shot.

NIGHT  The steamer Wild Rover runs the blockade at New Inlet.

Whiting and Lamb are irate with Bragg for doing nothing.  Grant and Welles are infuriated to learn of the expedition's failure.


MORNING  The steamer Banshee runs the blockade at New Inlet.

5:30 PM--  Lincoln asks Grant, "If there be no objection, please tell me what you now understand of the Wilmington expedition, present and prospective."

Grant replies: "The Wilmington expedition has proven a gross and culpable failure.  Many of the troops are now back here [in Virginia].  Delays and free talk of the object of the expedition enabled the enemy to move troops to Wilmington to defeat it.  After the expedition sailed from Fort Monroe three days of fine weather were squandered, during which the enemy was without a force to protect himself.  Who is to blame I hope will be known."

So, First Time Wasn't the Charm.  --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The First Battle of Fort Fisher 150 Years Ago Today

Day 2 of the battle.

December 25, 1864

MORNING  Union ships shell woods north of Fort Fisher to make it safer to land infantry.  Bombardment begins again.  Another 10,000 shells fired.

2 PM, Union infantry begins landing.  Brevet Brig. General Newton Martin Curtis is first Union soldier on beach.  Later Curtis strikes toward the fort with142nd and 112th New York regiments.

3 PM.  Curtis and Weitzel advance to within a mile and a half of Fort Fisher.  Later Curtis within 75 yards of Shepherd's Battery.

3:20 TO DUSK  Lt. William Walling of the 142nd NY picks up a garrison flag that had been knocked down by the bombardment.

Curtis believes the fort can be taken, but Butler calls a halt to the operation.

NIGHTFALL  Curtis advances a skirmish line toward the fort.

DARK  Confederates in fort open fire on Union soldiers.  Most of the Union troops have already gone back to the transports offshore.  By the time Curtis gets to the landing zone, the weather has gotten too bad to leave shore so Curtis and 600 men are left on shore.

Not Much To Do About Anything.  --Old B-Runner

Monday, December 24, 2012

The First Battle of Fort Fisher: 148 Years Ago Today

The brave lads defending the vaunted Fort Fisher were awakened at around 1:40 AM this morning by the explosion of the Union powder vessel USS Louisiana off the fort.  It was Gen. Butler's belief that the force of the concussion would knock down the sand walls of the fort.  It didn't.

At dawn in a thick fog, the Union fleet of 64 ships begins to take battle positions off the fort.

12:40 PM, the fleet opens fire.  The Union Navy's five largest frigates were on hand.  The USS Colorado alone, had 52 guns, more than the fort's 47.

Until DUSK, the fleet fires an unprecedented bombardment with around 10,000 rounds of solid shot and shells.  The fort's headquarters and barracks set afire.

At dusk, the fleet hauls off for the night.

Day One.  --Old B-R'er

Naval Happening 150 Years Ago: December 22nd to ,1862


Captain Dahlgren, confidant and advisor of Lincoln was called to the White House at the president's request to observe the testing of a new type of gunpowder.  Imagine them testing ordnance at the White House these days.  Lincoln, of course, was always interested in new technology.


The USS New Era was called to Columbus, Kentucky. to support the Army in imminent threat of Confederate attack.  Had the Confederates recaptured the city this would have seriously interrupted the flow of supplies down the Mississippi to Union operations against Vicksburg.


Adm. Porter received a request from the Army to assist the forthcoming Arkansas campaign.  Although his fleet was busy against Vicksburg, the USS Conestoga, under command of ship-sinker Selfridge,   sent to patrol "between the White and Arkansas rivers.

The same day, his fleet had engagement with Confederate batteries at Drumgould's Bluff by the Yazoo River.

Old B-Runner

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Sinking of the USS Monitor-- Part 2

In 1973, the Duke University Marine Laboratory launched a two-week mission to find the Monitor.  The night of August 27th, researchers saw a black squiggle on the ship's fathometer, a sonar instrument used to measure the depth under a ship.  They then used a side-scan sonar and determined there was something doen there at 230 feet.

Was it the Monitor?

The next year, a US Navy ship using high-resolution deep water imaging techniques determined it was indeed the Monitor.  It was sixteen nautical miles south and southeast of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.

Over the next thirty years there were many expeditions out to the wreck.  Unfortunately, the ship had decomposed to the point the whole thing could not be lifted.  But, the turret was good to go and raised in 2002.  Two Dahlgren guns and two skeletons were found in it.

John Broadwaker was first to enter the turret once on land and found the first skeleton immediately.  The second was found several weeks later.

The remains were sent to the U.S. Joint Prisoner of War/Missing In Action Accounting Command in Hawaii for analysis.  Who were they?

It is now believed most likely they were 21-year-old Jacob Nicklis of Buffalo, New York, and Robert Williams, a first class fireman in his early 30s.

Nothing Like Good Historical Research.  --Old B-R'er

The Sinking of the USS Monitor-- Part 1

From the Dec. 14, 2012, US News & World Report "Scientists Unlock Secrets of Civil War-Ear Shipwreck" by Kira Zalan.

Some of the sailors aboard the USS Monitor had been on the ship since the March 9, 1862 battle with the CSS Virginia and had become celebrities.  Even the president had visited the ship, but these 20-foot waves they were encountering off North Carolina in the last days of the year were something else.

Around 5 PM, December 30th, the crew had had their dinner, but come 11 PM, they hoisted a red lantern, signalling the ship was in distress.  Boats were sent from the USS Rhode Island to rescue the crew.  Some of the Monitor's sailors were swept off the deck and drowned.  Others climbed into the rescue boats, but 12 sailors and four officers died when the ship went down around 1 AM, December 31st.

The exact location of the shipwreck was unknown for more than a century.

Getting That Old Sinking Feeling (Must Be Bear Fans.)  --Old B-Runner

Friday, December 21, 2012

Isaac Newton Brown, CSN, Honored

From the July 13, 2012, Corsicana (Tx) Daily Sun "Saturday ceremony to honor Confederate officer."

Isaac Newton (wonder where they got that name) Brown is buried at Oakwood Cemetery in Corsicana, a good distance from any water that might a float ship.  After leading a career in the U.S. Navy, he became a Confederate naval officer.

On July 14th, the local SCV honored him with a ceremony.The Union Navy came close to capturing Vicksburd a year before Grant accomplished the feat, but thanks to brown, were unsuccessful.  In late August 1862, Farragut attacked the fortress city on the Mississippi River.

Lt. Brown had been given the unenviable job of completing the CSS Arkansas with nonexistent machinery, iron and inexperienced men.  He accomplished the near impossible and July 15th, with a crew having little or no experience on ships, much less an ironclad,, blasted his way through Union ships guarding the confluence of the Mississippi and Yazoo rivers.

He then fought off Farragut's ships and anchored under the guns of Vicksburg.

For his heroics, he was promoted to the rank of commander and later earned a Confederate Medal of Honor.

And Hardly Anyone Remembers Him Today.  --Old Secesh

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Greenpoint Monitor Museum Container Almost Launched by Hurricane Sandy

From the December 6, 2012, Greenpoint (NY) Gazette by Jeff Mason.

Well, actually the storage container since the museum is being held up by city politics.  The Greenpoint Monitor Museum's storage container almost sank during the recent Hurricane/Superstorm Sandy.  The 40-foot long container had been placed upon the museum's future site on Brunswick Inlet during last year's 150th anniversary celebration of the USS Monitor's launching.

The site was covered several feet deep by the storm surge caused by Sandy and when it receded, the container went with it and drifted to near the exact spot where the Monitor had actually been launched.

Part of it rested precariously on land with part of it in the East River, but fast action grounded it.

Imagine It drifting to Where the Ship Was Actually Launched?  --Old B-Runner

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Navy Pictures on Old Photos Blog

Back in May 2011, this blog ran a series of mostly Civil War photos during Navy Week.

MAY 21  Admiral J.A. Dahlgren
MAY 22  USS Hatteras
MAY 23  A World War II aircraft carrier with planes ready to takeoff and a 48-star flag whipping in the breeze.
MAY 24  Double-turreted monitor USS Onondaga in the James River in 1864
MAY 25  A Union monitor
MAY 26   USS Maine entering Havana Harbor before the explosion
MAY 27  Navy pilots on aircraft carrier in the Pacific in 1945 awaiting orders to take off.

Great Old Photos.  --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Dedication of USS Monitor Memorial

From the Dec. 11, 2012, Virginian Pilot.

The Monitor National Marine Sanctuary will dedicate a memorial to the USS Monitor and its crew at a 2 PM ceremony to be held at the Hampton National Cemetery.

This commemorates the 150th anniversary of the ship's sinking on the night of December 30-31st, 1862.

And, I imagine a fortunate group of successful bidders will spend some time in the turret where it is undergoing preservation.

Old B-Runner

Monday, December 17, 2012

Civil War Naval Songs

A 52-minute CD from 2011 with 13 songs with a 32-page booklet, featuring northern, southern and British songs.

1.  The Fight of the Hatteras and Alabama
2.  The Jamestown Homeward Bound
3.  Farragut's Ball
4.  The Florida's Cruise
5.  The Old Virginia Lowlands, Low

6.  The Blockade Runner
7.  The Bold Privateer
8.  A Yankee Man-of-War
9.  The Sailor's Grave
10.  The Brooklyn, Sloop-of-War

11.  The Alabama
12.  The Fate of the Pirate Alabama
13.  The Monitor & Merrimac

Old B-R'er

A Navy-- How to Get It-- And the Work Before It-- Part 2

SECOND--  THE BLOCKADE  Vessels should be dispatched to the North Carolina coast where much Confederate commerce takes place in the sounds.  They had read in a Norfolk paper where foreign supplies were reaching that town by way of the Dismal Swamp Canal. 

Also, "Quite an active foreign trade, too, is being carried on at Wilmington and Beaufort."

THIRD--  "Third, why not give the Cotton States...something to do at home?  there are scores of exposed and defenceless points along the Gulf coast where an army of liberation could be landed."

In New Orleans, "They know that a small force landed upon the lake approaches to the Crescent City could capture it in a few hours, and by cutting off the New Orleans, Jackson and Great Northern Railroad, and by throwing up intrenchments on that line, could hold it."

Alright, let's Tip Our Hand to the Rebels.  --Old B-Runner

Naval Happenings 150 Years Ago: December 18th-20th, 1862-- Watch Out, England


Asst. Sec. of Navy Fox wrote, "I believe there is no workshop in the country capable of making steam machinery or iron plates and hulls that is not in full blast with Naval orders.  Before another year we shall be prepared to defend ourselves with reasonable hopes of success against a foreign enemy, and in two years we can take the offensive with vessels that will be superior to any England is now building."  By war's end, the US Navy was the most powerful force afloat in the world.

In other words, watch out England.


Farragut wrote Welles that he had advised newly arrived General Banks to occupy Baton Rouge, which he did.  That city was just 12-15 miles from Confederate Port Hudson and, "I am ready to attack the latter place and support General Banks the moment he desires to move against it." 

Port Hudson is the only other place on the Mississippi River still occupied by Confederates other than Vicksburg.


Rear Admiral Porter, on his flagship USS Black Hawk, joined Gem William Sherman at Helena, Arkansas and prepared for a joint attack on Vicksburg.  Admiral Porter's fleet was the largest ever placed under one officer's command in US history.  He had the same number of ships as the entire US Navy at the outbreak of the war.

Further Preparations for the End of the Confederacy.  --Old B-Runner

Saturday, December 15, 2012

A Navy: How to Get It-- and the Work Before It

From the July 22, 1861, Philadelphia Inquirer.

According to the paper at this early date in the war, the country's Navy Department had had: "a commendable show of action.  Measures are under way for the construction or purchase, or both, of a fleet of vessels sufficient in number and force not only to make the blockade effectual and to capture the piratical privateers now infesting our shores, but to throw land forces upon the exposed parts of the Southern coast."

The paper made three observations to Washington:

FIRST-- regarding vessels--  every step to suppress Rebellion involving money expenditure has to be overseen because of the  "opportunity for speculation. This prostitution of a sacred trust to mere personal aggrandizement"  is not acceptable.  It is happening in the Army.

"To the same cause is to be attributed the purchase and charter, at enormous rates, of poor unseaworthy hulks like the Cataline, the suspicious conflagration of which has possibly averted a more serious disaster.

Not a vessel should be brought that is not swift, strong, new, and in every way specially adapted to the service in which she is to be engaged, and then only when she is offered at her fair market value."

So, They Had Those Guys Even Back Then.  More to Come.  --Old B-Runner

Friday, December 14, 2012

Hunley Replica Makes "Maiden Voyage" in Jacksonville Veterans Day Parade

From the Nov. 11, 2012 Florida Times-Union by Dan Scanlan.

It is a half-scale model.  The Sons of Confederate Veterans Kirby Smith Camp restored it.  It was originally built by Ron Parks in 2010.

I imagine they didn't have to do much restoration, but a fitting honor to the brave crews who lost their lives in the first successful submarine to sink an enemy ship.

I did not hear about any groups protesting it for what it stands for.

Old B-Runner

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Selfridge Sinks the Cairo

From the Dec, 12, 2012, Civil War Navy Sesquicentennial Blog "USS Cairo Strikes a Torpedo: December 12, 1862."

Yesterday, I wrote about the event and then today read this blog entry so will add to yesterday's information.

The wooden gunboats USS Marmora and Signal had gone on a reconnaissance of the Yazoo River earlier and reported they had found Confederate torpedoes in the river.  They could sweep and clear them if some larger warships provided cover fire from Confederates along the banks.  Captain Walke assigned the USS Cairo, Pittsburg (correctly spelled) and Queen of the West to do that, but with strict orders to stay out of the main river channel and stay behind the wooden ships.


Lt. Cmdr. Thomas Selfridge, late executive officer of the USS Cumberland (sunk by the CSS Virginia) reported that he thought the Marmora and Signal had come under Confederate fire and rushed from his position at the back of the squadron to assist.  He immediately stopped when he saw the two ships shooting at the torpedoes (mines), but too late, his ship blew up.

After the Cairo sank, the two remaining warships each fire about sixty shells at the woods and received no return fire.

The commander of the Queen of the West, US Army Captain Edwin Sutherland (an Army captain commanding a Naval ship?) reported that the Cairo came up beside him and inquired why he had stopped.  He said there were torpedoes ahead and then was shocked as the Cairo hurried on past him and entered the main channel, completely against orders.

He lost his ship, but no charges were ever filed, nor was there a court martial which seemed to have been in order under the circumstances.  Of course, Selfridge had the complete support of Admiral Porter which may help explain why there were no charges.

He went on to command another ship, and run it aground and was at Fort Fisher with Porter, of course. 

Porter's "Golden Boy?"  --Old B-R'er

Naval Happenings 150 Years Ago: December 12th to 16th,1862: Move Against Goldsboro, NC-- Wilmington Attack Planned?


The USS Delaware, Shawsbeen, Lockwood and Seymour with armed transports supported an Army expedition in the Neuse River to destroy the railroad bridges and tracks near Goldsboro, NC.  Low water in the river, however, prevented them from advancing more than 15 miles.


Asst. Secretary Fox wrote Admiral S.P. Lee, proposing an attack on Wilmington: "Though the popular clamor centers upon Charleston I consider Wilmington a more important point in a military and political point of view and I do not conceal from myself that it is more difficult of access on account of the shallowness of the bars, and more easily defended inside by obstructions, yet it must be attacked and we have more force than we shall possess again since the Iron Clads must go South so soon as four are ready."

Remarkably, Wilmington remained in Confederate hands until near the end of the war.


General Banks takes command in New Orleans, replacing General Butler.

Old B-Runner

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Naval Happenings 150 Years Ago: December 12th, 1862-- Selfridge Does It Again, Sinks the Cairo


The USS Cairo, under command of the sinker of ships especially if they began with the letter "C", Lt.-Cmdr. Thomas O. Selfridge, on an expedition up the Yazoo River to destroy torpedoes, was sunk by one of the "infernal machines" and Selfridge reported: "The Cairo was sunk in about twelve minutes after the explosion, going totally out of sight, except the top her her chimneys (shouldn't that have been smokestacks?), in six fathoms of water."

This was another part of the Union efforts to capture Vicksburg, Mississippi, the South's last bastion on the Mississippi River.

The Cairo was the first of some 40 Union vessels to be sunk by torpedoes during the war.  We would call these torpedoes mines today.

The one that destroyed the Cairo was a large demijohn of powder fired with a friction primer by a trigger line from torpedo pits on the river bank.  So, a Confederate by the river bank set it off.

Rear Admiral David Dixon Porter wrote to rake away blame from Selfridge, "It was an accident liable to occur to any gallant officer whose zeal carries him to the post of danger and who is loath to let others do what he thinks he ought to do himself."

Despite the loss, Porter ordered his fleet to hold the Yazoo River at all costs.  "We may lose three or four vessels (hey, just let Selfridge command them), but will succeed in carrying out the plan for the capture of Vicksburg."

Evidently, Selfridge was a favorite of Porter.

Losing the Cairo was fortunate for us today, as the ship was not sold or scrapped after the war as most were.  It was raised and its remains can now be seen at the Vicksburg Military Park.

Old B-Runner

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

"Fighting Bob" Evans At Fort Fisher-- Part 3

As he neared the broken wooden palisade fence,  a sharpshooter wounded him in the left leg, about three inches above the knee.  (Lamb had instructed his best shots to aim at the Union officers.)  Another officer helped Evans bandage the wound and he got up again and led his men to that palisade.  Approaching the base of the parapet, another shot struck him in the right knee, causing it to bleed profusely.

Unable to stand, he began bandaging himself again when another shot entered the soul of his shoe and took off the rip of one of his toes and wrenched his ankle.  This so enraged Evans that he rolled over to face his antagonist, standing just 35-yards away and shot him in the throat, causing him to fall down the parapet and land near the young ensign.

Many of Evans' men and officers lay dead and wounded around him.  A Marine from his ship, Private Wasmouth, rescued Evans and eventually dragged him to a place of safety.  Another sharpshooter's bullet hit the Marine and caused him to bleed to death at the feet of the man he had just saved.

The rest of the column turned and began running to safety.  The Confederates stood up and started cheering only to be appalled by U.S. flags flying on the western parapets.  With Confederate attention focused on the northeast bastion, the Army had entered the fort.  Much fighting continued, but this was the turning point of the battle and the fort fell.

So, "Fighting Bob"  was sure fighting earlier in his career.

One Brave Young Officer.  --Old B-Runner 

"Fighting Bob" Evans at Fort Fisher-- Part 2

Thirty-three year old Lt. Cmdr. Kidder Randolph Breese, Porter's Fleet Captain, was appointed to lead the Naval assault and to coordinate with the Army's attack.  The force moved to within 1200 yards of the fort and the fleet set off its whistles to signal the attack.

The fort's commander, Col. William Lamb, led his men to the defense of the northeast bastion while the fleet continued its heavy fire until the sailors and Marines were withing 600 yards.  Ensign Robley Evans was assigned to lead his ship's contingent.  At 500 yards, the Confederates opened fire on the column, causing the men at the front to drop on their stomachs in the sand.

Naval and Marine officers rose and called on their men to follow on.  At 300 yards, another volley was let upon them.  Eighteen-year old Evans led his men along the beach at the head of his men.  He pulled his hat down over his eyes so as not to see the flash of guns from the top of the parapet and then he was wounded in the chest, but shortly realized he could continue on as it was a flesh wound.

Getting Hot Out There.  --Old B-Runner

Monday, December 10, 2012

"Fighting Bob" Evans at Fort Fisher-- Part 1

From the January 15, 2011, Naval History Blog.

It is amazing how many future admirals and high-rank officers participated in the attacks on Fort Fisher and this is the start of one of them.

"Fighting Bob" Evans is best remembered as the admiral who commanded the Great White Fleet in 1907 that circumnavigated the globe.  He earned his nickname while commanding the gunboat USS Yorktown off Chilean waters while protecting American interests after the deaths of two American sailors in Valparaiso on October 16, 1891.

But that tendency to fight was already evident at Fort Fisher back during the Civil War.

There, Admiral David D. Porter called for volunteers to form a 2,000 man Naval Brigade to assist the Army in storming the fort.  Civil War sailors regularly trained for landing parties.  Porter received an overwhelming response from the fleet and had to turn away hundreds.

Shortly after noon on Jan. 15, 1865, 1600 sailors armed with revolvers and cutlasses along with 400 Marines landed a mile and a half north of Fort Fisher and formed three divisions to attack the northeast bastion (probably the strongest part of the fort).

A Charge for the Ages.  --Old B-Runner

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Naval Happenings 150 Years Ago: December 8th to 11th,1862-- Bailey One-Ups the Army


Lincoln sent a recommendation of thanks to Congress on behalf of Commander Worden of the Monitor for his part in the battle against the CSS Virginia.

USS Daylight captured the b-r sloop Coquette off New Topsail Inlet, NC, with cargo of whiskey, potatoes, apples and onions.  Hard by this cargo description to tell if it was inbound or outbound.


Rear Admiral Bailey assumed command of the Eastern Gulf Blockading Squadron reported that the pressure being exerted by the blockade on the Confederacy "is slowly, surely, and unostentatiously reducing the rebellion to such straits as must result in their unconditional submission, even though our gallant Army does not achieve another victory."

Sounds like a big "knock" on the Army to me.


USS Southfield disabled by a shot through the steam chest while rendering fire support to troops on shore at Plymouth, NC, under attack by Confederate forces.


Asst. Sec. of the Navy Fox wrote Rear Admiral Porter about the readying of ironclads and observed, "We shall soon be ready to try the Iron Clads against the few southern Forts yet in the hands of the Rebels."

Old B-Runner

Friday, December 7, 2012

Remembering a Naval Action in Another War: Pearl Harbor

Today marks the 71st anniversary of an event that shook the United States mightily, the attack on Pearl Harbor which brought the United States into World War II.

Even though this was ten years before my time, I will not ever forget to commemorate this date.

I have been making entries about it all week in my "Tattooed On Your Soul" World War II blog, including five entries today.  Just click on it on my blogs list.

Never To Forget.  --Old B-R'er

Parrott Rifles At Fort Fisher

From the Nov. 13, 2010, To the Sound of Guns Blog.

The USS Susquehanna  received two 8-inch Parrot guns mounted fore and aft.  Before Fort Fisher, it exchanged them for 6.4-inchers.  One burst in action.

The USS Colorado, Wabash and Minnesota, sister ships of the USS Merrimack (which became the CSS Virginia) all used 8-inch Parrotts during the war.  All three were at Fort Fisher (and any one of them mounted nearly as many guns as in the entire fort).

During the first attack, an 8-inch on the Colorado crashed after firing a Schenkel round.  Fortunately, the gunners had detected it early enough to prevent casualties, but this added even more to Admiral Porter's distrust of rifled guns.

The USS Pequoit fired 115 rounds from its 8-inch Parrot in the first battle.  The 6.4-inch gun on the USS Kansas burst during the first attack after firing 150 rounds.

Dixon wrote, "The bursting of the guns (six in all) disconcerted the crews of the vessels."  A total of 45 sailors were killed or wounded from this.  The admiral begged that the Navy not get anymore.

I Guess You'd Call This Friendly Fire of Sorts.  --Old B-Runner

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Plenty About Wilmington and Fort Fisher in the "Lincoln" Movie

Yesterday, I did get the chance to see this outstanding movie which should definitely garner some nominations for Academy Awards.

And, as I had heard, the Fort Fisher expedition and capture of Wilmington did play a large part in the background of the effort to get the 13 Amendment, forever abolishing slavery, passed. 

I had always known the importance of Wilmington and its primary defense at Fort Fisher, but people only since the 1990s are becoming aware of it.  Since then, we have had  several books printed on it.  Back in the 60s to 80s, I was even collecting information to write my own book about it if someone else didn't do so.

The capture of Wilmington was mentioned quite a few times, although at first, no mention of Fort Fisher.  At one point, in the War Department telegraph room, where Lincoln spent much time getting the most up-to-date information about the war, he did mention that General Whiting had been the engineer behind the construction of the fort and as such was going to be one rough nut to crack.

I did like Secretary of War Stanton charging out of the room when he thought Lincoln was going to tell another story.  They mentioned the huge bombardment and as such the fort just had to fall.  Then, there was great joy when the news did come through, quite late in the evening" that "the fort was ours."

It Really Was That Important.  --Old B-Runner

The Fate of Two Captured Guns

With the threat posed by the CSS Albemarle against the North Carolina town of Plymouth in 1864, the Union sent an 8-inch and a 6.4-inch Parrott rifles to that spot.

When the Confederates captured the town, they immediately took those guns away.

The 6.4-inch was shipped to Fort Fisher and the Confederate Navy received the 8-inch.

Old B_R'er

At Auction: Photos of Naval Leaders

Back in 2010, e-Bay had a pair of steel engravings from 1866 of Admirals David D. Porter and A.H. Foote.  They were done by Johnson Fry & Company of New York from a painting commissioned by Alonzo Chappal.

One was showing the officer on the deck of an ironclad (not a Monitor). 

Opening bid was $49.99.

Old B-Runner

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Off to See the "Lincoln" Movie

In a couple hours I will be driving to Round Lake Beach to see this movie about Abraham Lincoln and am really looking forward to seeing what is said about Fort Fisher.  I know that taking Wilmington was an important aspect of Union War plans from the earliest days of the war.

For some reason, the place was not attacked, especially when Fort Fisher was just getting built which should not have been too difficult of a place to overcome.  I was never sure why the attempt wasn't made.  I know part of it, like with Farragut at Mobile, was due to lack of troops to support an attack.

I'll write about what was said on tomorrow,

Old B-R'er

"The Largest Waste of Gunpowder" at Fort Fisher

Chris Fonvielle, Jr., wrote the Wilmington (NC) Star-News, that at least a third of the Union projectiles fired at Fort Fisher during both attacks went over the fort and into the river to its west.  He termed the bombardment as the largest waste of gunpowder in the annals of warfare.

He noted that Union ships concentrated their fire on the fort's flag, some to establish an effective range for their guns.  The main flagstaff was so damaged that the flag couldn't be raised.  The fort's commander, William Lamb, had others flags moved to the west end of the land defenses, hoping that the fleet would redirect its fire at that point.  It worked.

Ten years ago, illegal relic hunters pulled up about 100 projectiles from the river before state officials stepped in and stopped them.

I have also heard that during the first attack, Union ships fired at any part of the fort they wanted, but were much more effective in the second attack when each was assigned a specific Confederate battery on which to concentrate.  This effectively knocked most every gun out of action.
Watch Where You Swim in the River.  --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Fort Fisher Gets Mentioned in the New "Lincoln" Movie

From the Nov. 20, 2012, WECT News, Wilmington, NC.

The new movie by Stephen Spielberg about Abraham Lincoln mentions Fort Fisher on several occasions (I have not yet seen it).  Si Lawrence, media specialist at Fort Fisher, said, "This has definitely been a booster as far as getting Fort Fisher on the map and in the minds of people.  We believe the movie will do nothing but help garner the attention of what actually took place here."

"We have already garnered some interest in our site because of the movie and we feel it can only do wonderful things in terms of increasing visitation.  The Wilmington, NC, Chamber of Commerce will be adding Fort fisher's role in the movie in its advertising.

Anything To Get More Fort Fisher Publicity Is Good By Me.  --Old B-R'er

Naval Happenings 150 Years Ago: December 4th to 7th, 1862-- Alabama Cruising


Four Union ships engaged Confederate batteries at Port Royal, Virginia for an hour.

Rear Admiral Farragut wrote that keeping his ships supplied with coal and provisions "takes all my energies."  His fleet had captured or destroyed all the blockade-runners running from Havana or Nassau to his coast except the Cuba and Alice.  "I have all the coast except Mobile Bay, and am ready to take that the moment I get troops."


Boats from two Union ships capture and destroy several fine boats and brought back two from the Severn River in Maryland.  The captain of one claimed he was a Union man, but they thought he was endeavoring "to carry water on both shoulders."  Meaning he worked for both sides.

CSS Alabama captured and released on bond, the schooner Union off Haiti.


CSS Alabama captured the California steamer Ariel off coast of Cuba with 700 passengers on board, including 150 Marines.

Old B-Runner

Sunday, December 2, 2012

A Look Back at Wilmington Events in 1910

From the 2010 Wilmington (NC) Star-News.

From July 8, 1910:  It was learned that the proposed inland waterway project would go through Wrightsville Sound and not Wilmington.  It would then go through a cut to be made across the peninsula to the Cape Fear River near Orton Plantation.

When made, this was known as Snow's Cut, named after its engineer.  This essentially made Fort Fisher to be part of an island.

December 9, 1910:  Fires at Carolina Beach destroyed a hotel and pavilion owned by Captain John Harper (whose ships ferried vacationers to the growing town).  Also, bathhouses and the Smith Cottage, owned by Hans A. Kure (who developed Kure Beach, of which Fort Fisher is a part) were destroyed. The fires were believed to be arson.

Events With an Impact.  --Old B-R'er

Naval Happenings 150 Years Ago: December 1st to 3rd ,1862-- State of the Navy


In his second annual report, Seceretary of the Navy Gideon Welles informed President Lincoln: "We have at this time afloat are progressing to rapid completion a naval force consisting of 427 vessels...armed in aggregate with 1,577 guns, and of the capacity of 240,028 tons...The number of persons employed on board our naval vessels, including receiving ships and recruits, about 28,000, and there are not less than 12,000 mechanics and laborers employed at the different navy yards and naval stations."

This was an extremely fast build-up from the Navy at the onset of the war.

Wilmington, North Carolina's Lt. Maffitt, commanding the CSS Florida wrte that the Alabama and his ship were the only two cruisers in the Confederate Navy and that the Federals would gladly sacrifice fifty armed ships to eliminate them.

Rear Admiral Du Pont wrote that English officers captured on blockade-runners say Charleston, SC,  is stronger than Sebastobol (considered the strongest defensive fortifications ever built during the Crimean War).  But they had also said that about New Orleans.


USS Cambridge captured schooner J.C. Roker off the coast of North Carolina with a cargo of salt.  Later this day, it captured the schooner Emma Tuttle off the Cape Fear.

USS Daylight, captured the British b-r attempting to run a cargo of salt into Wilmington.

The Wilmingtom Blockade Is Improving.  --Old B-Runner

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Back Then

From the July 30, 2010, Wilmington (NC) Star-News.

August 5, 1960, the US Coast Guard announced that the Frying Pan Lightship was to be replaced with a steel tower.

There had been a lightship anchored by the treacherous shoals ever since 1855, including the Civil War, but I haven't been able to find out too much about it.

Old B-Runner