Fort Fisher

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

Monday, December 30, 2013

Letter From Wilmington 18 October 1863-- Part 1

From the Oct. 18, 2013, Civil War Day By Day, UNC Library.

Continuing with another letter written by Lt. Benjamin Lewis Blackford describing the state of affairs at Wilmington, North Carolina, his current posting.

"My dear Father

"I have had the pleasure to receive in the last two days a long and interesting letters from you and another. Though a bad correspondent, I was always fond enough of receiving letters, but they were never so welcome as now, when I feel myself more cut off from home than ever before.

"I have but little more to tell you of events down here since I last wrote. My last was written just as I was starting a trip down the river (Cape Fear River) in company with the Chief Engineer & several staff officers.

"My immediate object was to establish part of my Corps on 'Bald Head' or Smith's Island one point which forms Cape Fear and having done this I spent two or three days examining the various defences of the Cape Fear River.

"These consist of Forts Fisher, Caswell, Campbell, Pender, St. Philip, and a number of outlying and flanking smaller batteries, besides a number of batteries up near the two whose names i cannot recall."

More to Come. --Old B-R'er

150 Years Ago-- December 30-31, 1863: Things Going Better

DECEMBER 30TH, 1863:   Boats from the USS Pursuit destroy two salt works at the head of St. Joseph's Bay, Florida.

DECEMBER 31ST: USS Sciota and USS Granite City made reconnaissance of Port Cavallo, Texas, and landed troops on Gulf shore of Matagorda Peninsula. Shelled Confederate positions. Confederate gunboat John F. Carr engaged them, but was driven ashore by a severe gale and burned.

**  Secretary Welles ordered Rear Admiral C.H. Bell of the Paific Squadron to keep at least one ship continuously on duty in San Francisco in order to "give greater security to that important city...." and promised to send two more steamers to his squadron.

**  Welles noted in his dairy: "The year closes more satisfactorily than it commenced.... The War has been waged with success, although there have have been in some instances errors and misfortunes. But the heart of the nation is sounder and its hopes better."

--Old B-Runner

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Wilmington's W.H.C. Whiting-- Part 2: A Temperamental Man

Always a temperamental man, Whiting was constantly embroiled in feuds with his superiors, especially after joining the Confederate service. And, that would include Jefferson Davis, Stonewall Jackson and especially Braxton Bragg.  Had Whiting survived the war there probably would have been a duel between Whiting and Bragg.

President Davis wanted him fired after Whiting deliberately ignored his orders to organize Confederate troops by state. Fortunately, Robert E. Lee was a friend and had Whiting sent to Wilmington and away from Davis.

General Whiting is credited for using his engineering skills in designing Confederate defenses of the Cape Fear River, especially Fort Fisher.

He went to the fort to help with its defense in both attacks and, in the Second Battle of Fort Fisher, when called upon to surrender by the attackers, reportedly yelled out, "Go to hell you Yankee bastards!"

He was wounded and captured and taken to prison in New York. He died three months larter and was buried in Brooklyn. Years later, his widow had the general's remains moved to Wilmington's Oakdale Cemetery.

Old B-R'er

Wilmington's General W.H.C. Whiting-- Part 1: Best Academic Record at West Point Until MacArthur

From the Nov. 19, 2013, WWAY (Wilmington, NC) 3 ABC "Marking History: W.H.C. Whiting" by Tim Buckley.

It is always great to get the Civil War out there in the news and this article included the video of the report. Worth checking out.

Whiting was born in Biloxi, Mississippi, in 1824 and was a West Point graduate in Engineering in 1845, with the best academic record until Douglas MacArthur 60 years later.

While at various postings, he married a girl from Southport, NC, (then Smithville) at the mouth of the Cape Fear River which connects Wilmington to the Atlantic Ocean.

More to Come. --Old B-Runner

Friday, December 27, 2013

150 Years Ago-- December 26-31

DECEMBER 26-31: The USS Reindeer and Army steamer Silver Lake No. 2 reconnoitered the Cumberland River at the request of General Grant, moving from Nashville to Carthage, chasing Confederates from their batteries. The expedition went as far as Creelsboro, Kentucky, before returning because the river was falling. //// DECEMBER 29TH: Five Union ships departed from Morris Island for Murrell's Inlet to attack a blockade-runner fitting out for sea but heavy weather caused the attack to be called off. But, on January 1, 1864, the USS Nipsic returned and succeeded in destroying it. --Old B-Runner

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Beginning To Look Like No Help From Europe

DECEMBER 26, 1863: As the year drew to a close, it was becoming evident that the much hoped for European intervention for the Confederates wasn't going to happen. //// Henry Hotze, Confederate Commercial Agent in London wrote Secretary Benjamin" is absolutely hopeless to expect to receive any really servicable vessels of war from the ports of either England or France, and, .... our expenditure should therefore be confined to more practicable objects and our naval staff be employed in eluding, since we can not break the blockade." --Old B-R'er

"...Now That It Is All Over, I Feel Quite Relieved:" Captured By the Alabama

DECEMBER 26TH, 1863: The CSS Alabama captured and burned the ships Sonora and Highlander at the western entrance to the Strait of Malacca. One of the masters told Semmes: "Well, Captain Semmes, I have been expecting every day for the last three years to fall in with you, and here I am at last.... The fact is, I have had constant visions of the Alabama, by night and by day, she has been chasing me in my sleep, and riding me like a night-mare, and now that it is all over, I feel quite relieved."

150 Years Ago: December 24-25, 1863: Jone's Throws Hat In, CSS Alabama

DECEMBER 24TH Commander Catesby C. ap R. Jones replied to Admiral Buchanan that the guns for the CSS Tennessee would be sent from Selma Gun Foundry "as soon as they are ready." He exclaimed that there had been an accidental explosion which destroyed several cannon molds. //// He continued that work at his factory there was dangerous and tossed in his hat to command the Tennessee. //// The CSS Alabama captured and burned the Texan Star in the Strait of Malacca. //// DECEMBER 25, 1863: Confederate batteries on John's Island attack USS Marblehead near Legareville, SC, in the Stono River. The USS Pawnee and mortar schooner C.P. Williams assisted and forced the enemy to withdraw. //// USS Daylight and Howquah transported troops from Beaufort, NC, to Bear Inlet where they destroyed four extensive salt works. //// --Old B-Runner

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

149th Anniversary of the First Battle of Fort Fisher

Today marks the end of the first Union attack on Fort Fisher 149 years ago. This attack did not succeed. --Old B-Runner

Dahlgren Is Upset About Those Pesky rebels

DECEMBER 23RD, 1863: Rear Admiral Dahlgren ordered retaliatory steps taken against Confederates operating in the Murrell's Inlet area (north of Charleston) where two Union boat crews had recently been captured. "I desire....," he wrote the captain of the USS Canandaigua, "to administer some corrective to the small parties of rebels who infest that vicinity, and shall detail for that purpose the steamers Nipsic, Sanford, Geranium and Daffodil, also the sailing bark Allen and schooner Mangham, 100 marines for landing, and four howitzers, two for the boats, two on field carriages, with such boats as may be needed." The force left on December 29th. //// Watch Out You Rebels, Daghlgren's Got It In for You. -- Old B-R'er

Admiral Farragut Eager to Return to Duty, But....

DECEMBER 23RD, 1863: Rear Admiral Farragut wrote Sec. Welles from the New York Navy Yard that his flagship, the USS Hartford, which had accompanied him from the Gulf of Mexico was again ready for service after overhaul, but that he did not have enough sailors to do so. //// Farragut was anxious to return to action and wondered if the men might be obtained in Boston and other ports in the northeast. ////

Saturday, December 21, 2013

100 Years Ago: December 21-22, 1863: CSS Tennessee and Alabama

DECEMBER 21ST: Confederate Admiral Buchanan wrote Commander C. ap R. Jones at the Confederate Naval Gun Foundry and Ordnance Works at Selma, Alabama, regarding progress on the ironclad CSS Tennessee: "Have you received any orders from Brooke about the guns for the Tennessee? She is all ready for officers, men, and guns, and has been so reported to the Department many weeks since, but none have I received." //// The Admiral's Getting Anxious for His Flagship at Mobile. //// DECEMBER 22ND: Captain Semmes of the CSS Alabama noted the effect of Confederate commerce raiding on Northern commerce in the Far East: "The enemy's East India and China trade is nearly broken up. Their ships find it impossible to get freights, there being in this port [Singapore] some nineteen sail, almost all of which have been laid up for want of employment." //// At Least Getting Some Naval Success. --Old B-R'er

Confederate Obstructions at Charleston Harbor: Intelligence

DECEMBER 21ST: Dahlgren wrote to Welles that after 10 days of "wretched" weather at Charleston, a quantity of obstructions had been washed down from the upper harbor by the "wind, rain, and a heavy sea." //// He added: "The quantity was very considerable, and besides those made of rope, which were well known to us, there were others of heavy timber, banded together and connected by railroad iron, with very stout links at each end.... //// This is another instance of the secerecy with which the rebels create defenses; for although some of the deserters have occupied positions more or less confidential, not one of them has even hinted of obstructions of this kind, while, on the other hand, the correspondents of our own papers keep the rebels pretty well posted on our affairs." //// Those Sneaky Rebels and Lousy Newspaper Guys. --Old B-Runner

Friday, December 20, 2013

150 Years Ago-- December 20, 1863: B-R Losses Off Frying Pan Shoals

DECEMBER 20TH: Steamer Antonica ran aground on Frying Pan Shoals, NC, (by Wilmington) while attempting to run the blockade. Boat crews from the USS Governor Buckingham captured her crew and attempted to get her off, but failed. It was a total loss. The Antonica had run the blockade many times and was under British registry and name Herald. It was carrying 1,000 to 1,200 bales of cotton at the time. //// USS Connecticut seized British blockade-running schooner Sallie with a cargo of salt off Frying Pan Shoals, NC. //// Old B-Runner

Thursday, December 19, 2013

150 Years Ago-- December 19, 1863: Action At St. Andrew's Bay, Fla.

DECEMBER 19TH: Expedition from USS Restless, Bloomer and Caroline proceeded up St. Andrew's Bay, Florida (current day Panama City), to continue destroying salt works. Destroyed works not already destroyed by Confederates when they heard they were about to be attacked. Reported they had "cleared the three arms of the extensive bay of salt works....Within the past ten days 250 salt works, 35 covered wagons, 12 flatboats, 2 sloops (5 tons each), 6 ox carts, 4,000 bushels of salt, 268 buildings at the salt works, 529 iron kettles averaging 150 gallons each, 105 iron boilers for boiling brine, and it is belived that the enemy destroyed as many more to prevent us from doing so." That is quite a huge salt making business going on there and, a lot of Union destruction.

"Most Desolate Point" Bald Head Island-- Part 2: Blockade-Running

Benjamin Lewis Blackford continued with his Oct. 11, 1863, letter: //// "Every thing is bustle hear now. Gen. Whiting having reason to apprehend an immediate attack. Three steamers ran in yesterday. I saw the Advance came in the broad twi-lights; she made from 18-20 knots and came through a perfect hail of shell without being touched. This point aberages an arrival and departure Every 24 hours. //// I am getting on famously now, living on sweet potatoes, hog fish and oysters. I dated my last letter from Wrightsville and don't know if I gave my address. There is no p.o. at Wrightsville, and my address is 'Engineer Office, Wilmington.' //// The steamer is waiting for me and I must close, your affectionate son, B. Lewis Blackford." //// Pretty Busy Desolate Place. --Old B-R'er

Lt. Benjamin Lewis Blackford, CSA Engineers

From the July 12, 2012, Civil War Day By Day, UNC Library. //// Since I have been printing of lot og this man's letters, I found some information on Confederate Lt. Benjamin Lewis Blackford. //// He was born 5 Aug 1835 and called "Benny" as a child, but at some point he began to be called Lewis. He attended school at Mt. Airy and later the University of Virginia. After graduation, he worked as a civil enhineer before enlisting as a private in Samuel Garland's 11th Virginia Regiment. //// Later, he served as a lieutenant of engineers and was stationed in both Virginia and Wilmington. After the war, he went into the insurance business in Washington, DC. In 1869, he married Nannie Steenberger (d. 1883). They had four daughters: Elizabeth Padelford "lily," Mary Berkeley "Daisy," Alice Beime and Lucy Landon Carter. //// Lewis died in 1908. //// Sure Wasn't Impressed With Wilmington and North Carolina. Must Have Been a Virginia Thing. --Old B-Runner

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

"Posted to the Most Desolate Point...On the Atlantic Coast"-- Part 1

From the Oct. 11, 2013, Civil War Day by Day, UNC Library. //// Follow up letter from Benjamin Lewis Blackford to his father 11 October 1863: Cape Fear or Bald Head 30 miles south of this is the most desolate point I suppose on the Atlantic Coast." //// Benjamin Lewis began his Civil War service as a private in Samuel Garland's regiment and later became a lieutenant of engineers stationed at Wilmington. //// On October 11th, he was going with part of his "Corps to Cape Fear this morning to make a reconnaissance. I intend to start this work and return in a day or two to my old camp at Wrightsville. Cape Fear or 'Bald Head' (referring to Bald Head Island at the mouth of the Cape Fear River) 30 miles south of this is the most desolate point I suppose on the Atlantic Coast, but of great importance in the defence of this town." ////

Wilmington, NC in October 1863-- Part 17: Mary Doesn't Write and a "Small Speculation"

Last entry for the letter. //// "Among the things I sent for from Europe was a splendid field officer's sword for Eugene; I don't know certainly if it came, but I presume it did. Don't say anything to him about it till I find out certainly. I made $500 the other day by a small speculation, which came in very well. //// Please write when you feel well enough and make Mary write; I am, I know, shamefully negligent in letter writing, but I believe Mary is worse. Tell her that I'll give her an elegant pair of English boots for every eight page letter she writes me. Tell Pa not to trouble himself any more about the (Plane?) table, which I hope to do at Xmas we can have some talk about it."

Wilmington, NC in October 1863-- Part 16: Union Buildup and $120 Pants

Just about finished with this really long, but informative letter written Oct. 5, 1863, from Benjamin Lewis Blackford to his parents in Virginia about his new posting at Wilmington. //// "I will try to come to Virginia for a day or two at the end of the month. I had to leave my beautiful horse in Richmond, and I want to bring her here. I had to pay $120 for a pair of common gray pantaloons nearly a month's pay. //// There seems to be Every indication of an attack here soon. There are 20 ships off the bar now, instead of 6 the usual number, and I am afraid the steamers inside at this time (about a dozen) won't get out so easily. I cant form any accurate idea how long I may be detained here, but I do hope and trust to be through by Christmas at all events.: ////

Monday, December 16, 2013

150 Years Ago-- December 16-17, 1863: Farragut Congratulated and Affairs at Havana

DECEMBER 16TH: Rear Admiral Farragut was still in New York City and receiving all sorts of congratulations for his capture of New Orleans and success on the Mississippi River. He wrote: "That we did our duty to the best of our ability, I believe; that a kind Providence smiled upon us and enabled us to overcome obstacles before which the stoutest of our hearts would have otherwise quailed, I am certain." //// Thomas Savage, U.S.Consul-General in Havana reported to Commodore Bell regarding blockade-runners in that port. He said the Roebuck, a schooner of 41 tons had arrived from Mobile yesterday with cotton. It had left Mobile on the 8th, the first ship from Mobile "for a very long time.... The famous steamer Alice, which ran the blockade at Mobile successfully so many times, is now in dry dock here fitting out for another adventure." //// DECEMBER 17TH: The USS Moose sent landing parties ashore at Seven Mile Island and Palmyra, Tennessee, where they destroyed distilleries used by Confederate guerrilla troops. I wonder if there was an ulterior motive? //// The USS Roebuck captured the British blockade-running schooner Ringdove off Indian River, Florida inbound from Havana with cargo of salt, coffee, tea and whiskey. ////--Old B-R'er

Difficulties for Confederates in Europe

DECEMBER 15TH, 1863: Captain Barron, CSN, wrote Sec. of Navy Mallory from Paris on the great difficulty encountered purchasing or repairing Confederate ships in Europe. The "difficulties and expense and some delay," he said, were due to the spies of U.S. Ambassador Charles Francis Adams in London. //// Barron reported that they "are to be found following the footsteps of any Confederate agent in spite of all the precautions we can adopt...." Ambassador Adams continually frustrated Confederate efforts in Eirope. //// Old B-Runner

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Progress on the CSS Tennessee and Acquiring Confederate Sailors

DECEMBER 15TH: Admiral Buchanan wrote Commander Catesby ap. R. Jones about the CSS Tennessee: "The tennessee willl carry a battery of two 7-inch Brooke guns and four broadside, 6.4 or 9 inch.... There is a great scarcity of officers and I know not where I'll get them. I have sent the names of 400 men who wish to be transferred from the Army to the Navy, and have received only about twenty." Jones replied, "Strange that the Army disregard the law requiring the transfer of men. --Old B-R'er

150 Years Ago-- December 14-15, 1863: Hunley to Attack, Alabama Shifts Operations

DECEMBER 14TH: General Beauregard ordered Lt. Dixon, CSA, to proceed to the mouth of Charleston Harbor and "sink and destroy any vessel of the enemy with which he can come to conflict." DECEMBER 15TH: Captain Semmes of the CSS Alabama decides to leave Far Eastern waters as not enough Union merchant ships are coming back from the area and some eluding him in the Indian Ocean. Decides to go to the Cape of Good Hope. He said that the Alabama was in bad need of having its copper covering on the hull replaced and boilers overhauled because of the near-constant cruising. His cruise entered its final six months. //// Olf B-Runner

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Wilmington, NC-- October 1863-- Part 15: Mosquitoes and getting Stuff Through the Blockade

Continuing with a lengthy letter written by Benjamin Lewis Blackford who was stationed very unhappily in Wilmington, NC, back in October 1863. Continued from November. //// "Charles & Lancelot were both in Wilmington but I got here five minutes too late to see them. Have you heard from them? What of Eugene? What of William? //// I was very much obliged to Pa for his letter, it came when I was camped in the mosquito wilderness, and was especially welcome for I was miserable enough. //// Tell Mary isabella with my love, not to make herself uneasy on the subject of shoes & gloves any more. I have received enough from England to last you and her for the rest of this war if it should last for 20 years. //// The boxes are safe in Richmond, but I don't exactly [know] yet what they contain. I will receive the invoice to-morrow. The things are of the very best make and quality. //// Still Not Happy in Mosquito Infested NC. I'm Sure They Had No Mosquitoes in Virginia. --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

150 Years Ago-- December 10-11, 1863

DECEMBER 10, 1863: Confederate troops burned schooner Josephine Truxillo, barge Stephany on Bayou Lacomb, Louisiana. The next day they burned the schooner Sarah Bladen and barge Helana on Bayouu Bonfouca. //// DECEMBER 11TH: Confederate troops fired on the USS Indianola in the Mississippi in an attempt to destroy her, but were driven off by counterfire from the USS Carondolet. The Union Navy was making great efforts to get the Indianola off the bar on which she had been stuck since February. //// Maj. Gen. D. H. Maury, CSA, wrote from Mobile that he had heard that the Union was planning an attack on Mobile at any time now and predicted they would be able to run past the outer forts (which happened in August the following year). //// Old B-Runner

Monday, December 9, 2013

150 Years Ago-- December 7-9, 1863

DECEMBER 7TH: Asst, Sec. of Navy Fox sent a list of ships running the blockade to Rear Admiral Lee saying: "While captures are numerous, it is not the less evident that there are as many that escape capture." //// DECEMBER 8TH: The USS Brazileria found the blockade-runner Antoinette run aground at Cumberland Island, Georgia, and a total wreck. // The disabled merchant ship Henry Van Phul shelled by a Confederate battery near Morganza, Louisiana, but were driven off by two Union warships. Merchant ships operating along the rivers were ok as long as escorted by Navy ships. //// DECEMBER 9TH: In his annual message to Congress, President Lincoln noted that the blockade was increasing in efficiency, but "illicit trade is not entirely suppressed." //// Old B-Runner

150 Years Ago-- December 7, 1863: Confederates Seize Steamer Chesapeake Off Cape Cod

DECEMBER 7TH: The steamer Chesapeake, en route from New York to Portland, Maine, was seized by a group of 17 Confederate "passengers" led by John C. Braine. //// The undertaking had been plannned in St. John, New Brunswick. Braine and his men went to New York where they purchased side arms and boarded the ship as passengers. //// A brief shooting match while at sea resulted in the death of one crew member. They intended to make a run for Wilmington after coaling in Nova Scotia. //// The planner of the attack, Captain John Parker (but whose name might have been Vernon G. Locke, former commander of the Confederate privateer Retribution) came on board in the Bay of Fundy and took command. //// News of the capture quickly spread and navy ships from Philadelphia northward were ordered to pursue the Chesapeake. On December 17, the USS Ella and Annie (former blockade runner Ella and Annie) recaptured the Chesapeake in Sambro Harbor, Nova Scotia and it was taken to Halifax where it was restored to its former owners. //// Most of the Confederates escaped and John Braine would live to cause more problems for the Union later in the war. //// A Bold Confederate Move. --Old B-Runner

U.S. Navy Report for 1863-- Part 2

DECEMBER 7, 1863:Welles also reported that the Navy had 34,000 seamen and 588 ships displacing 467,967 tons mounting 4,443 guns. More than 1,000 ships had been captured by the blockaders. //// The Navy had helped sever the Confederacy along the Mississippi River, pirced ever deeper into its interior and capable of launching amphibious assaults pretty much anywhere it wanted. The increased pressure of the blockade continue to raise pressure on the Confederate economy and millitarr effort. //// Old B-R'er

USS United States/CSS United States-- Part 2: Civil War Service

From 1849 to the Civil War, the United States lay in ordinary at Norfolk, rotting away. On April 20, 1861, Confederates seized the Navy Yard at Norfolk and the ship was not burned before sinking under the belief it was just a worthless hulk. However, Confederates were desperate for any kind of a ship and had it pumped out and raised by April 29th.

It was commissioned the CSS United States, but often referred to as the CSS Confederate States. In June, it was fitted out as a receiving ship with a 19-gun deck battery for harbor defense.

It was sunk in the Elizabeth River as an obstruction when the Confederates abandoned the Navy Yard in May 1862. The ship's timbers were still strong as evidenced by the loss of a whole box of axes in the attempt to scuttle. Eventually, holes had to be bored in the hull to accomplish it.

The Union raised the ship and towed it to Norfolk where it remained until March 1864 when the Bureau of Construction and Repair decided to break her up and sell the wood.

Quite the Ship. --Old B-Runner

USS United States/CSS United States-- Part 1

In the last post I mentioned that William Lewis Maury served aboard the CSS United States at Wilmington, NC. I'd never heard of a CSS United States (or would it be CSS U.S,?) at Wilmington. More research was required so good old Wikipedia.

It turns out that the ship had quite the history and had not been at the Confederate Wilmington, NC..

The USS United States was one of the 6 original 1797 U.S. Navy frigates (including the USS Constitution). It was launched 10 May 1797, weighed 1576 tons, 175 feet long and mounted 32 long 24-pdrs and 24 42-pdr carronades.

It fought in the Quasi War with France and in the War of 1812 was under the command of naval hero Stephen Decatur and became famous for its victory over the HMS Macedonian. It also saw service in the 2nd barbary War and Mexican War. Famed author Hermann Melville (Moby Dick) enlisted on the ship in 1843.

Quite a History Even before the Civil War. --Old B-R'er

William Lewis Maury: CSN-- Part 2: Was He Related?

Continued from Oct. 30, 2013. William L. Maury served in the U.S. Naval Observatory under his cousin, Matthew Fontaine Maury and charted seas. worked with cartography and recorded astronomical observations.

The book Recollections of a Rebel reefer, written in 1917, was about him aned and the cruise of his ship, the commerce raider CSS Georgia.

From Find-a-Grave.

He was named after his uncle, William Lewis Herndon (the first U.S. Navy officer to explore the entire Amazon River and who went down with his ship, the steamer SS Central America, on September 12, 1857, in a three-day hurricane off Cape Hatteras).

William Maury married his cousin Ann Fontaine Maury, the daughter of Matthew Fontaine Maury, in 1856. He resigned from the U.S. Navy on June 10, 1861 and commanded a naval battery at Sewell'l Point, Virginia, and was later stationed at Wilmington, NC, serving on the CSS United States. (Bet there is an interesting story here with a ship's name like that.)

In 1862, he was stationed at Charleston in the torpedo service. Promoted to commander on Feb. 17, 1863, and went on "vacation" to Dumbarton, Scotland, where he oversaw the refitting of the merchant ship Clyde which had been secretly been purchased by the Confederacy. He sailed it to Brest, France, where the ship was commissioned the CSS Georgia which, during its cruise, destroyed Union ships worth $406,000 in value.

He is buried at Lakewood Cemetery at Bowling Green, Virginia.

I Thought He Might Be Related. --Old B-Runner

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Remembering Pearl Harbor

It was 72 years ago and one of those generational moments. I was not even born until ten years later, but always observe it. I am listing the name of one American who died that day in every blog. These were all men from Michigan's Upper Peninsula: FRANCIS A. CYCHOSZ of Bessemer, Michigan. On the USS Arizona. His brother Raymond was later severely wounded while serving in the famed 10th Mountain Division in Italy. //// The Greatest Generation. --Old B-R'er

U.S. Navy Report for 1863-- Part 1

DECEMBER 7, 1863: In his third annual report to President Lincoln, Gideon Welles wrote: "A blockade commencing at Alexandria, in Virginia, and terminating at the Rio Grande, has been effectively maintained. //// The extent of this blockade...covers a distance of three thousand five hundred and forty-nine statute miles, with one hundred and eighty-nine harbor or pier openings or indentations, and much of the coast presents a double shore to be guarded...a naval force of more than one hundred vessels has been employed in patrolling the rivers, cutting off rebel supplies, and co-operating with the armies.... //// The distance thus traversed and patrolled by the gunboats on the Mississippi and its tributaries is 3,615 miles, and the sounds, bayous, rivers and inlets of the States upon the Atlantic and the Gulf, covering an extent of about 2,000 miles, have also been ... watched with unceasing vigilance. //// Like I Said, A Blockaders Work Is never Done. --Old B-Runner

150 Years Ago-- Dec. 5-6, 1863: USS Weehawken Sinks

DECEMBER 5TH: Boat crew from the USS Perry is captured while reconnoitering Murrell's Inlet, SC, to determine if there was ship outfitting there to run the blockade. Another boat crew from the USS T.A. Ward had also been captured in the area a couple months earlier. //// Dahlgren isn't happy about this, but added: "These blunders are very annoying, and yet I do not like to discourage enterprise and dash on the part of out officers and men. Better to suffer from the excess than the deficiencies of these qualities." //// DECEMBER 6TH: The monitor USS Weehawken sank while tied up to a buoy inside the bar at Charleston Harbor. The ship had recently taken on an extra load of heavy ammunition which reduced the freeboard forward considerably. The pumps were unable to handle the rush of water and the ship sank quickly, drowning some two dozen officers and sailors. //// USS Violet and Aries sighted blockade-running steamer Ceres aground and burning at the mouth of the Cape Fear River, NC. During the night the Ceres floated free, the flames being extinguished, and was seized by the Violet. //// Oh Boy, Prize Money. --Old B-R'er

Watch Out for Those Sneaky Confederate Torpedo Boats

DECEMBER 3, 1863: Rear Adniral Dahlgren issued orders for vigorous enforcement of the blockade and extreme vigilance against Confederate torpedo boats: "Picket duty is to be performed by four monitors, two for each night, one of which is to be well advanced up the harbor, in a position suitable for preventing the entrance or departure of any vessel attempting to pass in or out of Charleston Harbor, and for observing Sumter and Moultrie, or movements in and about them, taking care at the same time not to get aground, and also to change position when the weather appears to render it unsafe. //// The second monitor is to keep within proper supporting distance of the first, so as to render aid if needed." //// He added: "The general object of the monitors, tugs, and boats on picket is to enforce the blockade rigorously, and to watch and check the movements of the enemy by water whenever it can be done, particularly to detect and destroy the torpedo boats and the picket boats of the rebels." //// A Blockaders Work Is Never Done. --Old B-Runner

Friday, December 6, 2013

Cavallo Pass, Texas

From the Texas State Historical Association. //// Yesterday, I wrote about a gun crew from the USS Monongahela assisting the Army at Pass Cavallo, Texas. Not being very familiar with the Texas coast, I had to investigate further. //// Also referred to as Pass Cavallo, it connects Matagordo Bay with the Gulf of Mexico between Matagordo Island and Matagordo Peninsula in southeast Calhoun County. //// In the 19th century it was a major port of entry to the interior of Texas. Cotton, cattle, molasses, lumber, potatoes and corn were shipped from it. A reported 10,000 to 12,000 bales of cotton were shipped from Lavaca and Indianola in 1852 alone. //// A lighthouse was built on Matagordo Island in 1852. //// Federal forces captured Cavallo Pass and Matagordo Island in 1863 (the entry) Most of the troops were later withdrawn in March 1864 to join General Banks' Red River Campaign. //// Some confusion as to Matagordo or Matagordo as the correct spelling. --Old B-R'er

150 Years Ago-- December 2-3, 1863

DECEMBER 2ND: Boat expedition from the USS Restless reconnoitered Lake Ocala, Florida. They found salt works in the area and destroyed them with the report: "They were in the practice of turning out 130 bushels of salt daily." Besides this, they destroyed the boilers and threw a large quantity of salt into the lake. Two large flatboats and 6 ox carts were demolished and 17 prisoners taken. These destructive raids took place continuously along the Southern coast and had a lasting negative effect on the Confederate war effort. //// DECEMBER 3RD: The USS New London captured the blockade runner schooner del Nile near Padre Pass Island, Texas, with cargo of coffee, sugar and percussion caps. //// Old B-Runner

Thursday, December 5, 2013

More on Confederate Activity At Mobile Bay

DECEMBER 2ND, 1863: Furthermore, in Mobile Bay, the Confederates had two floating batteries mounting three guns each and ten transport steamers. Bell's report also noted: "At Selma there is a large vessel building, to be launched in January. There are three large rams building on the Tombigbee River, to be launched during the winter." //// Rear Admiral Farragut would face just four of these ships (Tennessee, Selma, Gaines and Morgan) in his attack on Mobile in August 1864. Lack of machinery, iron and skilled worers prevented the others from being in the battle. //// --Old B-Runner

150 Years Ago-- December 2, 1863: Confederate Operations at Mobile Bay

DECEMBER 2ND: Rear Admiral Porter reports that his gunboats have achieved great success operating along the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers. His ships had covered Sherman's corps' crossing of the river that led to the great success at Chattanooga. The Mississippi Squadron continues to patrol the rivers and restricting Confederate movements who continue to attempt to build batteries along the banks. //// Commodore H.H. Bell, acting commander of the West Gulf Blockading Squadron reports on Confederate naval activity in Mobile Bay. The CSS Gaines and Morgan mounted ten guns, the CSS Selma four as did the nearly completed ironclad CSS Nashville. All were sidewheelers. //// Ironclad rams CSS Baltic, Huntsville and Tennessee all mounted four guns. The Tennessee was Admiral Buchanan's flagship and was "strong and fast." The CSS Gunnison was fitted as a torpedo boat with 150 pounds of powder and another screw steamer was repoted as fitting out, though a fire had destroyed its upper works. //// Busy Confeds. --Old B-R'er

State of Confederate Naval Affairs November 1863

NOVEMBER 30TH: Mallory noted that there were presently 693 officers and 2,250 enlisted men in the Confederate Navy. Union victories at Little Rock, Arkansas, and the Yazoo River had ended department efforts at constructing ships there, but, construction was "making good progress at Richmond, Wilmington, Charleston, Savannah, Mobile, on the Roanoke, Peedee, Chattahoochee and Alabama Rivers...." //// Two major problems Mallory faced the whole war was acquiring the skilled labor necessary to build the ships as well as adequate iron to clad them. This was not a factor in the industrial North. //// Confederate naval forces not only manned ships, but also shore batteries. On this date, Mallory praised the naval command at Drewry's Bluff guarding the James River approach to Richmond. He wrote that the battery: "composed of seamen and marines, is in a high state of efficiency, and the river obstructions are believed to be sufficient, in connection with the shore and submarine batteries, to prevent passage of the enemy's ships. An active force is employed on submarine batteries and torpedoes." Not Only Did Richmond Have to Be Guarded On Land, But By Water As Well. --Old B-Runner

150 Years Ago-- November 29-30, 1863: Training Confederate Officers

NOVEMBER 29TH: At the request of General Banks, a gun crew from the USS Monongahela went ashore to man howitzers in support of an Army attack on Pass Cavallo, Texas. //// NOVEMBER 30TH: Confederate Secretary of Navy Mallory emphasized the importance of proper training for naval officers. He wrote: "The naval powers of the earth are bestowing peculiar care upon the education of their officers, now more than ever demanded by the changes in all the elements of naval warfare. Appointed from civil life and possessing generally but little knowledge of the duties of an officer and rarely even the vocabulary of their profession they have heretofore been sent to vessels or batteries where it is impossible for them to obtain a knowledge of its most important branches, which can be best, if not only, acquired by methodical study." ////

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The CSS Georgia Makes a Reappearance

From the Nov. 14, 2013, Atlanta Journal Constitution "Civil War ironclad surfaces in Savannah" by Marcus K. Garner. //// A section of the top the CSS Georgia was recovered by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Navy divers. The whole ship needs to either be removed or destroyed in the near future because of plans to expand the navigation channel of the Savannah River. //// A 64 square foot section of the CSS Georgia's casemate, the part that you see above a Confederate ironclad's waterline, is recovered as a test and will be taken to Texas A&M University where it will be assessed to determine its condition to decide on whether the rest of the wreck is to be recovered. //// The ship was sunk at its moorings by Savannah's Fort Jackson to prevent capture by Gen. Sherman's advancing army near the end of the war. An 1869 dredging of the area struck part of the ship. Over the years, the ships has deteriorated. In the 1980s a recovery effort was made on some of the ship's cannons and cannonballs. //// At low tide the ship is as much as 42 feet deep in the river. Diving and recovery is especially dangerous because of the near-zero visibility. //// Here's Hoping the Whole Thing Can Be Recovered. --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Fort Sumter Goes From 44 Guns to 3

From the To the Sound of Guns blog. Guns were transferred from Fort Sumter following the big ironclad attacks on the fort. At the time of the attacks, the fort mounted 44 guns. At one time, it had shrunk to just one gun in late summer. //// By November, it had increased to three guns: two 10-inch Columbiads and a 42-pdr. rifle. These guns were in what was called the "three gun battery" on the east face of the fort. This was the only part of Sumter that still looked like a fort after the terrific pounding it experienced. This allowed a crossfire across the main channel with Fort Moultrie. Mr. Swain included a picture of the three gun battery. I knew there were more batteries by Fort Moultrie, but nothing at all about the removal of the guns from Fort Sumter. --Old B-R'er

Confederate Defenses on Sullivan's Island in November 1863, Charleston, SC

From the November 23, 2013 To the Sound of Guns Blog by Craig Swain. Mr. Swain made a great map showing all the Confederate positions on the island and said these batteries benefited from the relocation of guns from Fort Sumter during the summer. //// Of interest, I found that BATTERY BEE had five 10-inch Columbiads and one 8-inch Columbiad in March 1863. By November, one of the 10-inch Columbiads was replaced by an XI-inch gun taken from the monitor USS Keokuk which had sunk. //// FORT MOULTRIE's armament by November had increased to four 10-inch Columbiads, two 8-inch seacoast howitzers, two 8-inch rifle and banded Columbiads, three 32-pdr. rifles, four 24-pdr smoothbores, and two 10-inch seacoast mortars. Two other 32-pdr smoothbores were at the fort, but not mounted. //// Other batteries on Sullivan's Island were, Marion, Brooke, Rutledge, Beauregard, Marshall. Mr. Swain tells the armament of all of these batteries. --Old B-Runner

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

150 Years Ago-- November 24-29, 1863: Ordnance and Another B-R Gets captured

NOVEMBER 24TH: The USS Pawnee and Marblehead protected Union troops sinking piles of obstructions in teh Stono River above Legareville, SC. //// NOVEMBER 25TH: The Confederate Navy faced all sorts of problems during the war and one was getting ordnance. Secretary Mallory wrote this day that ordnance workshops had been established at Charlotte, Richmond, Atlanta and Selma, Alabama. //// NOVEMBER 26TH: The USS James Adger seized the British blockade-runner Ella off Masonboro Inlet, NC, with a cargo of salt. //// NOVEMBER 28th: The USS Chipewa escorted two army transports on a recon mission up Skull Creek, SC. //// NOVEMBER 29TH: USS Kanawha captured schooner Albert attempting to run out of Mobile with cargo of cotton, rosin, turpentine and tobacco. Major General Banks got a gun crew from the USS Monongahela ashore to man howitzers to support his attack on Pass Cavallo, Texas. //// Old B-Runner

Making Plans to Capture Wilmington-- Part 2

Although lee did not mention capturing Fort Fisher, Commander W.A. Parker wanted that Army-Navy expedition to capture it. He wrote: "I am of the opinion that 25,000 men and two or three ironclads should be sent to capture this place, if so large a force can be conveniently furnished for the purpose.... The ironclads...should be employed to divert the attention of te garrison of Fort Fisher during the landing of our troops at Masonboro Inlet, and to prevent the force there from being used to oppose the debarkation.... //// Fort Fisher would probably fall after a short resistance, as I have been informed that the heavy guns all point seaward, and there is but slight provision made to resist an attack from the interior." //// Of course, the Confederates either already had or were quickly building a line of fortifications across the peninsula to the Cape Fear River. //// At the time, however, Union efforts along the Atlantic coast were primarily directed at capturing Charleston and the attack on Wilmington was postponed and the city continued a haven for blockade-runners until the fall of Fort Fisher in early 1865. //// Old B-R'er

Making Plans to Capture Wilmington-- Part 1

NOVEMBER 24TH, 1863. //// Rear Admiral Lee wrote Secretary Welles regarding a conversation he had with General Benjamin F. Butler while reconnoitering the Sounds of North Carolina: I gave him my views respecting the best method of attacking Wilmington, viz, either march from New Berne and seize the best and nearest fortified inlet on the north of Fort Fisher, thence to cross and blockade the Cape Fear River, or to land below Fort Caswell (the key to the position) and blockade the river from the right bank between Smithville and Brunswick. //// Four days later, Commander W.A. Parker supported the admiral's views after making his own observations. He recommended a joint Army-Navy assault to capture Fort Fisher. //// More to Come --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Blockade Runner Banshee

From Wikipedia. //// Built in Liverpool, England, and launched in 1862, built specifically for the blockade-running trade, 210 feet long with a speed of 11.5 knots and 1200 tons. Steel-hulled and its maiden voyage across the Atlantic was a "first" for a steel-hulled ship. //// In the next seven months, it made seven round trip runs through the blockade from either Bermuda or the Bahamas to Wilmington, NC. Future New York shipping magnate F.W.J. Hurst was second in command on all of those voyages. //// Captured en route to Wilmington on November 21, 1863 by the USS Grand Gulf and Army transport Fulton. //// The Navy bought the ship and converted it into a gunboat mounting one 100-pdr gun and two 30-pdr. guns. Commissioned June 1864 and assigned to the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron. Took part in the first attack on Fort Fisher in december 1864 and later assigned to the Potomac Flotilla in mid-January. Decommissioned and sold November 1865. //// Began commercial service and renamed the T.L. Smallwoord (or J.L. Smallwoood). Sold to British interests in 1868, renamed and continued service into the 1890s. --Old B-Runner

Salter Path, NC

In the earlier post of today, I wrote about the USS Granite City and Army transport Fulton capturing the blockade-runner Banshee on November 21, 1863 by Salter Path, NC. I have never heardof Salter Path, but it being in NC, figured it must have something to do with Wilmington. //// Salter Path is an unincorporated community in Carteret County, part of NC's Crystal Coast. It is located on Bogue Banks and is part of Indian Beach. //// History has it as a frequent refuge of the pirate Blackbeard. //// --Old B-R'er

150 Years Ago-- November 21-23, 1863: Capture of Banshee, Those Darn Torpedoes

NOVEMBER 21ST //// The USS Grand Gulf and Army transport Fulton capture the blockade-running British steamer Banshee south of Salter Path, NC. //// NOVEMBER 22ND: USS Jacob Bell transported troops to St. George's Island, Maryland, and captured some 30 Confederates, some of them blockade runners. //// NOVEMBER 23RD: The threat of Confederate torpedoes in rivers and coastal areas became an increasing threat as the war continued. The necessary precautions slowed Northern operations and tied up ships for picket duty that might otherwise have been better utilized. This date, Secretary Welles wrote Captain Gansevoort on the USS Roanoke, at Newport News: "Since the discovery of the torpedo on James River, near Newport News, the Department has felt some uneasiness with regard to the position of your vessel, as it evidently is the design of the rebels to drift such machines of destruction upon her.... Vigilance is demanded." //// Gansevoort replied two days later saying not to worry, that his ship was in deepest water and that "until very lately...a picket boat had been kept underway during all night just above this anchorage to prevent such missiles from approaching the ship." Also, the ship Poppy was assigned to that duty as well as a gunboat anchored above the Roanoke. //// Those Dadburn Confed. Torps. --Old B-Runner

Farragut Anxious to Get Back to Duty

NOVEMBER 20, 1963: Rear Admiral Farragut is eager to get back to sea duty in the Gulf after his well-deserved rest. This date he wrote Welles from New York that the USS Brooklyn and Hartford "will not be ready for sea in less than three weeks.... I particularly regret it, because I see that General Banks is in the field and my services may be required." He had also received a letter from Commodore Bell, commanding in the Gulf in Farragut's absence, saying that he didn't have enough ships to serve on the Texas coast and maintain the blockade elsewhere as well. //// He also knew of ironclads building at St. Louis that just drew six feet of water and that they would be perfect for use on the Texas coast and would like them to be sent to the Guld. Welles wrote Porter, commanding on the Mississippi, who said he'd send them. //// Ironclads to Texas. --Old B-Runner

150 Years Ago-- November 18, 1863: The Mississippi Still Not Safe

NOVEMBER 18TH //// Captain Thomas A. Faries, CSA, commanding a battery near Hog Point, Louisiana, on the Mississippi River, to disrupt Union shipping on the river, wrote of a battle with three Union warships. He wrote that the USS Choctow "left her position above, and, passing down, delivered a very heavy fire from her bow, side, and stern guns, enfilading for a short time the four rifle guns in the redoubt." --Old B-R'er

150 Years Ago: Today, Nov. 19, 1863: That Little Old Speech Out At Gettysburg

Of course, 150 years ago, it was time for one Abraham Lincoln, president of one United States (not so united at the time) to deliver one short, but impactful and insightful speech at the dedication of a National Cemetery at Gettysburg where so many had died some four months earlier. //// That man surely had a way with words and phrasing. Who'd have thought of calling 87 years ago like that? //// Anyway, I will have an interesting retraction by a Pennsylvania newspaper on their review of the speech in my Saw the Elephant Blog later today. -- Old B-Runner

Monday, November 18, 2013

150 Years Ago Today-- November 18, 1863

NOVEMBER 18TH: Merchant schooner Joseph L. Garrity. 2 days out of Matamoras and bound for New York, is seized by five southern sympathizers under Thomas E. Hogg, later Master in the CSN. They had boarded as passengers. Sailed the ship to British Honduras where he entered her as the blockade runner Eureka and sold its cargo of cotton. //// Three of the crew were eventually captured in Liverpool and charged as pirates, but by June 1, 1864, had been acquitted. The Garrity was turned over to the U.S. commercial agent in Belize and later returned to her owners. That's one way to get yourself a blockade-runner and make some dough. --Old B-Runner.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

150 Years Ago-- November 16-17, 1863: Confederate Losses in the West Hurt Eastern Naval Operations

NOVEMBER 16TH: Union successes in the West were hurting Confederate naval operations in the east. Cmdr. John K. Mitchell, CSN, wrote Mallory that there was a serious shortage of fuels needed for manufacturing. "The occupation of Chattanooga in August has effectually cut off the supply from mines in that region, upon which the public works in Georgia and South Carolina and naval vessels in the waters of those states are dependent." //// NOVEMBER 16-17: USS Monongahela escorted Army transports and covered the landing of 1,000 troops on Mustang Island, Aransas Pass, Texas. //// NOVEMBER 17TH: Asst. Secretary Fox wrote Rear Admiral S.P. Lee praising the effectiveness of his squadron: "I congratulate you upon the captures off Wilmington. Nine steamers have been lost to the rebels in a short time, all due to the 'fine spirit' of our people engaged in the blockade. It is severe duty and well maintained and Jeff Davis pays us a higher compliment than our own people when he declares that there is but one port in 3500 miles through which they can get supplies." //// Blockade Getting Serious. --Old B-R'er

150 Years Ago-- November 15-16,1863: USS Lehigh Has Close Call

NOVEMBER 15TH: The USS Ladona seizes blockade running British schooner Arctic southwest of Frying Pan Shoals, NC, with cargo of salt. //// NOVEMBER 15-16TH: Fort Moultrie opened a heavu bombardment on Union positions at Cumming's Point, Morris Island. Brig. General Gillmore asked for naval help to prevent an attack by boats. Dahlgren had his tugs on patrol duty keep "a good lookout." Monitor USS Lehigh grounded while covering Cumming's Point and the next morning came under heavy fire until pulled off by the USS Nahant. Five members of the Lehigh received Medals of Honor for heroism while carrying a line from the two ships. The USS Nahant even served during the Spanish-American War protecting New York City. //// --Old B-Runner

Friday, November 15, 2013

Wilmington, NC, in October 1863-- Part 14

"The Citizens attempt to hide their disaffection by bullying about the injustice done to their State, and sigh after the flesh pots of the Yankees. //// This is a pleasant camp of mine, and fish and crabs and oysters come to the very doors, and the great Sea lashes his crested waves, and peeps over the banks into the quiet Sound right before me, but I would give all I have to be back in Virginia (even in the wilderness around Chancellorsville), where hearts are true, and blood is pure, and men, women & children are resolved to be free or to die. //// And, I'm Sure the Good Folks of North Carolina Would be More Than Happy to See Such a Miserable Man Go Home. I'm Still Thinking He Struck Out With Mr. Kidder's Daughter. --Old B-Rer

Wilmington, NC, in October 1863-- Part 13: A Mighty Poor Opinion of North Carolineans

" one time, but because they are afraid, and are willing to acknowledge themselves whipped, and are anxious to make terms for themselves to save their property and their worthless necks. If a stranger who knew nothing about the merits of our Cause were to come to the Confederacy, he would soon decide who were in the right, for without an exception for the weak-kneed, and the whiners and grumblers as well as the openly treasonous are among the low and base & mean. I am outdone with such people, the soldiers are spiritless and cowed, ready to revolt at the hardships which our troops laugh at, and looking forward to the time when they can be taken prisoners." //// A Fairly Low Opinion of the Tarheels. --Old B-Runner

Thursday, November 14, 2013

150 Years Ago:-- November 14, 1863: Problems With Confederate Ships

NOVEMBER 14TH: USS Bermuda captures schoooner Mry Campbell which had been seized earlier today by Confederates under the command of Master Duke, CSN. Five months earlier he had seized a Union ship near New Orleans The capture took place off Pensacola. //// Paymaster John deBree, CSN, reported to Mallory: "Restricted as our main resources are by the blockade and by the limited number of producers in the country, it has...been the main object to feed and clothe the navy without a strict regard to those technicalities...." //// General Bearegard lamblasts the shortcomings of Confederate ships at Charleston saying: "Our gunboats are defective in six respects: First. They have no speed....Second. They are of too great draft to navigate the harbor.... Third. They are unseaworthy by their shape and construction.... Fourth. They are incapable of resisting the enemy's XV-inch shots at close quarters. Fifth. They are not fight at long range.... Sixth. They are very costly, warm, and unconfortable, and badly ventilated; consequently sickly." //// Old B-Runner

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Wilmington, NC, in October 1864-- Part 12

Continuing with this lengthy letter from Benjamin Blackford from October 5, 1863: "I think I have the luck of falling in love with pretty girls and only wonder I did not meet some at Fort Fisher. The more I see of N.C. & the N.Cians the less I see to admire, save indeed the young lady mentioned above, and her parents are full blooded Yankees. //// The people are unsound. They are contemptable, they howl, and whine and cry for peace on any terms & reconstruction not as a matter of original principle for they are perfect fire...." //// Poor Mr. Blackford Must Have Been Turned Down By the Young Lady? --Old B-R'er

Wilmington, NC, in October 1863-- Part 11

I did some research on the Kidder family on whose property Benjamin Blackford was staying and, evidently quite smitten with Mr. Kidder's daughter. I didn't find much as I didn't have his first name. //// But I did find that there is a Kidder Street in Wilmington and a mayor of Wrightsville Beach, NC, in 1928 named George Kidder. The Kidder cottage was (or is) located at the northeast corner of Ocean Avenue and Raleigh Street and it survived a huge fire in 1934 that destroyed many Ocean Avenue structures. I do not know if this 1900s cottage was the same one Blackford was staying at in 1863. --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Wilmington in October 1863-- Part 10

"My camp is in a beautiful grove on an almost grassy lawn, and right between the two pleasantest houses here. Indeed my office is in Mr. Kidder's yard and not six paces from the house. Now Mr. Kidder is the wealthiest citizen of W. and his daughter the prettiest girl & the sweetest I have seen out of Virginia. //// I wonder if she knew I was writing about her, for, lo, the door opened then and there entered the heaviest of silver waiters and the whitest of napkins, port wine of ancient date, and hot pound cake, fresh from the young lady's fair hands, for I have been an invalid for a day or two. //// True Love Grows? --Old B-Runner

Monday, November 11, 2013

150 Years Ago-- November 10-11, 1863

NOVEMBER 10TH: The intense two-week bombardment of Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor drew to a close. General Bauregard noted: "Bombardment of Sumter continues gradually to decrease.... Total number of shots [received] since 26th when attack commenced, is 9,306." //// USS Howquah captured blockade-running steamer Ella off Wilmington. //// CSS Alabama captured and burned clipper ship Winged Racer off Java. //// NOVEMBER 11TH CSS Alabama captured and destroyed the clipper ship Contest after a long chase off Gaspar with a cargo of Japanese goods bound for New York. --Old B-Runner

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Marines Celebrate Their 238th Birthday

Marines were involved on both sides during the Civil War. Marines were to provide covering fire for the naval land column assault on Fort Fisher on Jan. 15, 1865, abd CS Marines manned Battery Buchanan at the fort's southern end. //// Go, Marines. --Old B-Runner

Saturday, November 9, 2013

150 Years Ago-- November 9, 1863: Capture of the Ella and Annie


USS Niphon captured the blockade runner Ella and Annie off Masonboro Inlet, NC, with cargo of arms and provisions. In an effort to escape, the Ella and Annie rammed the Niphon. When the two ships swung broadside, the runner was taken by boarding.

A bad two days for Wilmington, NC, blockade-running with three of the most successful runners captured: Cornubia, Robert E. Lee and Ella and Annie. The Niphon and James Adger were involved in all captures, either singly or separately. All three blockade-runners went on to become Union warships. I'll be writing about all three of them.

Serious Money Was Made By These Two Blockaders.   --Old B-R'er

150 Years Ago Today-- November 9, 1863: We Need Maps and Charts

NOVEMBER 9TH: //// Rear Admiral Porter wrote Secretary Welles suggesting that the U.S. Coast Survey make maps of the areas adjacent to the Mississippi River "where navigation is made up of innumerable lakes and bayous not known to any but the most experienced pilots." These were not on modern charts of the time. //// Welles recommended to Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase that a survey similar to the one made of the North Carolina coast be made saying it would greatly facilitate operations there and pledged naval assistance. //// NOV. 9TH: Admiral Buchanan ordered Acting Midshipman Edward A. swain to Fort Morgan, Mobile Bay, and to take command of the CSS Gunnison and to destroy the USS Colorado or any other blockader they could find. The Gunnison was a torpedo boat. //// Maps and Torpedoes. --Old B-Runner

150 Years Ago Today: November 9, 1863-- The Confederate Navy at Savannah

NOVEMBER 9TH: //// Intelligence on Confederate ships in Georgia reached Union Army and Navy commanders. The CSS SAVANNAH, Cmdr. Robert F. Pinckney, had two 7-inch and two 6-inch Brooke rifled guns and a torpedo mounted on her bow as armament and two other torpedoes in her hold. Her sides were plated with 4 inches of rolled iron and her speed in smooth water was about seven knots. //// The CSS ISONDIGA was a wooden steamer reported to have old boilers and "unreliable" machinery. //// The frames of two other rams were on the stocks at Savannah, but no iron could be obtained to complete them. //// The CSS RESOLUTE was thought to be awaiting to run the blockade and had been converted to a tender. All cotton in Savannah being transferred to Wilmington to run the blockade. //// The CSS GEORGIA was a floating battery commanded by Lt. Washington Gwathmey, CSN, was anchored near Fort Jackson and reported to be a failure. //// Such intelligence enabled the Union to constantly update the blockade. Obviously, with perhaps the exception of the CSS Savannah, there was no threat at Savannah and the fact that cotton was being moved to Wilmington meant that the port had successfully been closed. //// --Old B-R'er

This Date 150 Years Ago: November 9, 1863-- The Robert E. Lee Captured.

Quite a bit of stuff happening 150 years ago today.


The USS James Adger along with the USS Niphon had captured the blockade-runner Cornubia the day before. But today, the ship captured a real plum, the famed blockade-runner Robert E. Lee off Cape Lookout Shoals, North Carolina. The steamer had left Bermuda two days earlier with a cargo including shoes, blankets, rifles, saltpeter and lead.

She had been one of the most famous and successful blockade-runners. Her former Captain, Lt. John Wilkinson, CSN, later wrote: "She had run the blockade twenty-one times while under my command, and had carried between six thousand and seven thousand bales of cotton, worth at that time about two millions of dollars in gold, and had carried into the Confederacy equally valuable cargoes."

One of the Best and Lots of Prize Money These Two Days for the James Adger. --Old B-Runner

Friday, November 8, 2013

The State of Affairs at Wilmington, NC, Oct. 1863-- Part 9: Wilmington Is "Insufferably Dull"

"After finishing my work on the point I came to Wilmington where I spent two or three days pleasantly enough awaiting Gen. Whiting's orders. And they being received I came down here. In Wilmington I met some old friends who were very polite to me Willy Scott of Fredericksburg, Archer, John Payne, Little &c but the town was insufferably dull and I was glad to get away. //// Now for Wrightsville Wrightsville is situated 9 miles East of Wilmington on Masonboro Sound, and is the summer resort of the nabobs of Wilmington. //// It consists of about 20 old fashioned roomy sea-side cottages occupying about a mile of beach, and buried in the splendid groves of Cypress, pines & live oaks; Our own quarters here have fallen in pleasant places; Gen Whiting was camped with his whole staff down here till about 3 weeks ago, and he kindly permitted me to have his spacious floored tents, dining room, kitchen, stables &c." Wrightsville Beach 150 Years Ago. --Old B-Runner--

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The State of Affairs At Wilmington, NC-- Part 8: Blockade-Running

"Every day while I was camped down on the point we had some little excitement. The Yankee fleet lay in full sight, and their unsuccessful efforts to prevent the ingress and egress of the long fast white steamers was amusing and gratifying. Sometimes they would treat us to a few shells, and we made quite a collection of the huge unexploded 200 lb monsters. //// They succeeded in running ashore a pretty little fast steamer right opposite of our camp and then they gathered round, like big boys stoning a frog, and fired at least a thousand shots through the poor little thing. I assure you there was not a peace on her hull as large as my hat without a shot hole." Sometimes You get Through, Sometimes Not. --Old B-Runner

The State of Affairs at Wilmington, NC in October 1863-- Part 7: Running the Blockade

Benjamin Blackford had dinner aboard the blockade-runner Advance under the command of his old friend Thomas M. Crossan and the ship was prepared to run the Cape Fear blockade as early as that night. He continues: "There were about 15 passengers on board, one or two foreign officers returning home, one or two government agents, and 3 or 4 gaudy Israelites, with substitutes in the army, and the gain of much villainy in their pocket; there was also an artist, an author, and a bearer of dispatches. //// It was like coming into a different world to slip from that desolate swamp, into the splendid cabin, and see once more a good dinner, well served, and you may depend I enjoyed it. //// Ah, For the Good Old Days. --Old B-R'er

150 Years Ago Today: November 6th to 8th, 1863


CSS Alabama captures and destroyed bark Amanda in the East Inies with cargo of hemp and sugar.


Merchant steamer Allen Coolier with cargo of cotton burned by Confederate guerrillas at Whitworth's Landing, Mississippi, after she left the protection of the USS Eastport. It was still not quite safe for Union shipping on the rivers without U.S. Navy protection.

Cutter from USS Sagamore captured schooner Paul off Bayport, Florida.


USS James Adger and USS Niphon captured steamer Cornibia north of New Inlet, North Carolina.

--Old B-Runner

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The State of Affairs at Wilmington, NC-- Part 6: Dining On the Advance

"Everything in Wilmington shows the effect of this. Confederate money is of less value there than in Richmond by 25 per cent. $12 to 14 a day is the fare at mean (crummy) hotels. //// There are such numbers of Englishmen, officers, and crew of the blockade running ships who fling their gold around everywhere, that our currency stands less chance than anywhere else in the confederacy. The blockade runners try of course to make friends of the officers about Wilmington, and are sure to keep them well supplied with brandy segars and oranges. //// I dined one Sunday on board the Advance, a splendid steamer owned by the State of N.C. and commanded by Capt.(Thomas M.) Crossan of the Navy and old friend of mine; she was lying off Fort Fisher some 25 miles from town, and was all ready to go out that night." Quite the Famous Blockade-Runner. --Old B-Runner

The State of Affairs at Wilmington, NC-- Part 5: Lots of Runners and Pilots

Still on the October 5, 1863, letter of Benjamin Lewis Blackford to his parents. //// ""...and inhabited exclusively by amphibious pilots; ignorant, stupid and disloyal. They had always earned an easy living by pilotage, and they are rebels against any Govt which interferes witn it. //// I never had any idea till I came to Wilmington of the number of steamers engaged in the blockade trade. Fifteen fine steamers came safely into the river, and two or there were run aground during the two weeks I was camped near Fort Fisher." --Old B-R'er

150 Years Ago Today: November 6, 1863-- Another Ericsson Invention

The Confederates had put up a very extensive and complicated field of obstructions to prevent passage of the channels into Charleston Harbor, something that the North greatly wanted to do. Celebrated USS Monitor inventor John Ericsson had come up with another innovation to do just this.

His anti-obstruction torpedo was placed at the bow of the monitor USS Patapsco on this date. The device was a cast iron shell some 23-feet long and 10-inches in diameter containing 600 pounds of powder and was suspended from a raft attached to the ironclad's bow and held in position by two long booms.

The demonstration went favorably and the shock was barely noticed aboard the Patapsco, though a "really fearful" column of water was thrown some 40 to 50 feet into the air. A problem, however, was that he raft really interfered with the Patapsco's maneuverability.

--Old B-Runner

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The State of Affairs At Wilmington, NC-- Part 4: Battling the Mosquitoes

"Awhile before dark we had to make a fire in the middle of the floor of rotten wood and old rags; after an hours dense fumigation we closed all the doors and windows, and as far as it was possible, in the fierce heat and suffocating atmosphere, we slept. Those mosquitoes could sting through a double blanket without the least trouble. //// The great ocean which stretched on before us, and the magnificent surf bathing were the only bright spots in the Camp. The 'Point' was not over four miles broad, entirely destitute of cultivated land ...." //// Dealing With the "Disloyal" Pilots. --Old B-R'er

The State of Affairs At Wilmington, NC-- Part 3

"The only redeeming point in the first two weeks operations in N.C. was that the officials both in Wilmington & at Fort Fisher, were as thoughtful as possible, and did with the greatest Energy and promptness Every thing, I asked of them. I was furnished with guards, horses and boats, and had it not been for musquitoes and starvation would have gotten on well enough. //// We were camped in a swamp 6 miles above Fort Fisher, and I believe the king of the mosquitoes had selected the same locality for his dinner court. I had never had the faintest idea of the meaning of the word before. To sleep with door or window open (I was camped in a small house) was impossible." //// A Real Skeeter Hater. --Old B-Runner

End of the Career of the Blockade Runner Margaret and Jessie

This date 150 years ago, the blockade runner margaret and Jessie was captured at sea east of Myrtle Beach, SC, after a prolonged chase by Army transport Fulton and USS Nansemnd, Lt. R.H. Lamson. //// The chase had started the previous evening by the USS Howquah near Wilmington, NC. The Howquah kept the steamer in sight all through the night. The USS Keystone State joined the chase in the morning and was on hand when the capture was made. The Margaret and Jessie had run the blockade 15 times, one of the more successful runners. The steamer was then bought by the Navy and renamed the USS Gettysburg. //// Old B-R'er

150 Years Ago: November 5, 1863

NOVEMBER 5, 1863: //// Ships of the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron continue bombarding Fort Sumter in concert with Army batteries ashore on Morris Island. Dahlgren reports "The only original feature left is the northeast face 9where Union guns can't reach), the rest is a pile of rubbish." //// The USS Virginia seized British bark Science and, with the USS Owasco, capture British brigs Volante and Dashing Wave at the mouth of the Rio Grande River. A big payday for the crews with all that prize money. //// Union General Banks has been asking for more Navu gunboats tp assist him in operations along rivers west of the Mississippi River. Rear Admiral Porter writes that more are preparing to go to him and that will give him 22 and even more will be on their way after the Confederates are cleared from the Tennessee River. //// USS Beauregard seized British blockade runner Volante off Cape Canaveral, Florida. //// --Old B-Runner

Monday, November 4, 2013

150 Years Ago: November 3-4, 1863-- Operation in Texas

NOVEMBER 3-4TH, 1863: Union naval force consisting of the USS Monongahela, Owasco and Virginia convoyed and supported troops of Gen. Banks at Brazos Santiago, Texas. The landing began on the 2nd and continued until the next day. On the 4th, Brownsville, Texas, was evacuated by Confederate rtroops and Union foothold on the Mexican border was secured. There had been quite a lot of blockade-running from there. //// NOVEMBER 3RD: Rear Adm. Dahlgren closely examined Fort Sumter from his flagship and reported it to be "a mass of ruin" but that it was still capable of harboring Confederates and would be a problem until "expelled by the bayonet." //// NOVEMBER 4TH: The USS Virginia seized British schooner Matamoras at the mouth of the Rio Grande River with cargo bound for the Confederate Army. This further shows the importance of the operation from Nov. 3 to 4. //// --Old B-Runner

Saturday, November 2, 2013

The State of Affairs At Wilmington, NC-- Part 2

"There was no use grumbling, so we started in 12 hours after the receipt of the orders, and after a doleful journey on troop trains and 24 hours detention in Weldon, we reached Wilmington safely. //// Wilmington is a town about the size of Lynchburg, surrounded by low pine & cypress swamps, but still a pretty place, and showing very many handsome public & private buildings. //// At Wilmington I received orders to prepare a careful map of the peninsula known as Confederate Point between the Cape Fear River and the ocean. We steamed down the river to Fort Fisher, and were landed on as desolate a sand bank as was ever seen." //// Not Happy About His Transfer. --Old B-R'er

The State of Affairs At Wilmington, NC in Oct. 1863-- Part 1

From the 10-5-13 Civil War Day-By-Day, UNC Libraries. //// From an October 5, 1863, letter from Benjamin Lewis Blackford about his transfer from Virginia to Wilmington and Wrightsville Beach, NC. //// "Camp at Wrightsville-- 9 miles East Wilmington //// Oct. 5 1863 //// My dearest Mother, //// This is the third time I have commenced a letter to you. Twice I came to N. Carolina, but each time I have been interrupted. Until the last two or three days (in which I have been sick) I have had no moment to spare; I have been worried and miserable ever since I came into this wretched State. //// But I will commence at the beginning, and give you a history. You recalled that I had received orders to begin surveys of the South Side of James R. commencing with Powhatan and Cumberland counties, and my Corps had already started, with a pleasant prospect for the winter, when telegraphic orders required me to 'proceed with all hands to Wilmington'" Evidently Not a Fan of the Old North State. --Old B-Runner

Friday, November 1, 2013

150 Years Ago: November 2-3, 1863-- Operations at Fort Sumter

NOVEMBER 2-3RD. //// Lt. Cmdr. Greenleaf Gilley of the USS Catskill reported on Conferate operations at Fort Sumter to meet any Union attempts to breech the obstructions between Forts Sumter and Moultrie as the furious Union bombardment of Fort Sumter continued. //// He reported: "Two boats under sail were seen moving from Sumter towards Sullivan's Island. About 11 p.m. a balloon with two lights attached arose from Sumter and floated toward Fort Johnson.... At midnight a steamer left Sumter and moved toward Fort Johnson. At sunrise...observed the three rams [CSS Charleson, Chicora and Palmetto State] and the sidewheel steamer anchored in line of battle ahead from Johnson toward Charleston, and each with its torpedo topped up forward of the bows." //// Being Vigilant, Very Vigilant. --Old B-Runnee

Thursday, October 31, 2013

150 Years Ago: October 31, 1863-- Classes Begin-- Part 2

In general, the curriculum was based on that of the United States Navy Academy. However, the training was extremely realistic as the midshipmen were often called upon for actual combat. By the time they left the Academy, they were seasoned veterans. //// Commander John M. Brooke, CSN, wrote to Secretary Mallory about the midshipmen: "Though but from 14 to 18 years of age, they eagerly seek every opportunity presented for engaging in hazardous enterprises, and those who are sent upon them uniformly exhibit good discipline, conduct, and courage." //// Mallory reported to President Davis: "The officers connected with the school are able and zealous, and the satisfactory progress already made by the several classes gives assurance that the Navy may look on this school for well-instructed and skilled officers." The Naval Academy continued to operate until the end of the war. //// I'm supposing it didn't take the midshipmen four years to graduate under the circumstances. --Old B-R'er

150 Years Ago: October 31, 1863: CSN Classes Begin-- Part 1

OCTOBER 31ST //// During October instruction began for 52 Confederate midshipmen on their "floating academy" located aboard the CSS Patrick Henry at Drewry's Bluff on the James River, near Richmond, Virginia. Lt. W.H. Parker, CSN, was superintendent. //// The initial move for a Naval Academy began in December 1861 when the Confederate Congress passed a bill calling for "some form of eduaction" for midshipmen. In the spring of 1862, more legislation called for the appointment of 106 acting midshipmen. In May 1862, the Patrick Henry was designated as the Academy ship and alterations made to ready her for this new role. //// --Old B-Runner

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

William Lewis Maury, CSN-- Part 1: Was He Related to the Confederacy's Matthew Fontaine Mayry?

From Wikipedia. //// Monday I wrote about the cruiser CSS Georgia's arrival in France to conclude its voyage to destroy Union commerce. It was commanded by Lt. William Lewis Maury. The last name got me to wondering. Could he be the son or related to the Confederacy's Matthew Fontaine Maury? //// William Lewis Maury was born in 1813 and died Nov. 27, 1878. He was an American explorer and naval officer in both the United States (a 20-year career) and Confederate navies. //// He assisted in the Charles Wilkes Expedition to explore the Pacific Ocean and Matthew C. Perry's 1856 naval expedition to Japan. Maury Island in Puget Sound in Washington state and the ice-filled Maury Bay east of Cape Lewis in Antarctica are named after him. //// Well, Was He Related? Next Post. --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

150 Years Ago: October 29-30, 1863: Ships Operating on the Tennessee River

OCTOBER 29TH //// Rear Admiral Porter orders the officers of his Mississippi Squadron "to give all the aid and assistance in their power" to Major General William T. Sherman in his operations along the Tennessee River. //// Ships detached for duty there were the USS Lexington, Hastings, Key West, Cricket, Robb and Romeo. Plus the USS Paw Paw, Tawah, Tyler and two other vessels would soon be there as well. //// OCTOBER 30TH: ////The USS Vanderbilt captured the bark Saxon, suspected of having rendezvoused and taken cargo from the CSS Tiscaloosa at Angra Pequena, Africa. //// The USS Annie seized blockade running British schooner Meteor off Bayport, Florida. //// --Old B-Runner

Monday, October 28, 2013

150 Years Ago: October 28, 1863: CSS Georgia's Cruising Days Over

OCTOBER 28, 1863: //// The CSS Georgia, under Lt. W.L. Maury, anchored at Cherbourg, France, concluding a 7-month cruise against Union commerce. During the cruise, the Georgia destroyed a number of prizes and bonded the remainder for a total of $200,000. //// A short time later, Flag Officer Samuel Barron, CSN, advised Secretary of Navy Mallory that the ship had been laid up "...almost broken down; she has lost her speed, not now going under a full head of steam over 6 knots, and is good for nothing as a cruiser under sail." And, until I started this blog, I had never heard of this ship before. //// Great Career, Though. --Old B-Runner

Saturday, October 26, 2013

150 Years Ago: October 27, 1863: Expedition to Capture Brazos Santiago Departs

OCTOBER 27, 1863 //// Col. L. Smith, CSA, commanding Marine Department of Texas (surprising it wouldn't have been a naval officer in command) reported on status of gunboats in his area. CSS Clifton, Sachem (captured Union warships) and Jacob. A. Bell at Sabine Pass. CSS Bayou City, Diana and Harriet Lane (another captured Union warship) at Galveston Bay. CSS Mary Hill at Velasco and CSS John F. Carr at Saluria. The Bayou City and Harriet Lane were without guns and the rest mounted a total of 15 guns. Not too impressive. //// Union expedition to capture Brazos Santiago and the mouth of the Rio Grande River departed New Orleans. Ships USS Monongahela, Owasco and Virginia accompanied the group. This was the beginning of another Union attempt to wrest Texas from the Confederacy and also to preclude the possibility of movement into Texas by French troops in Mexico. //// --Old B-Runner

Thursday, October 24, 2013

USS Nansemond-- Part 3

On May 6, 1864, the Nansemnd on USS Britannia were attacked by the ironclad CSS Raleigh while a blockade-runner escaped. The next morning, the Nansemond, Howquah and Kansas engaged the Raleigh. While withdrawing over the Cape Fear River Bar, the ironclad ran aground, suffering major damage and was destroyed by its commander, Flag Officer William F. Lynch. //// On June 20th, the Nansemond and Calypso embarked troops for an expedition to New River, NC, to cut the Wilmington and Weldon Railroad but were forced to withdraw. //// The Nansemond was involved with both attacks on Fort Fisher and then supported Union troops on their final drive on Richmond. //// It was decommissioned at Washington Navy Yard and transferred to the U.S. Treasury Department on 22 August 1865 and served in the Revenue Cutter Service as the W.H. Crawford along the Atlantic Coast from Baltimore to key West. She was sold at Baltimore 24 April 1897. //// Quite a Career. --Old B-R'er

150 Years Ago: October 24th to 26th, 1863-- Fort Sumter Under Attack Again

OCTOBER 24TH //// USS Hastings and Key West arrived in Eastport, Mississippi, to support Army operations along the Tennessee River. General Sherman was happy to have the help, despite problems with low water level. Operations continued until mid-December as efforts to solidify Union control along the river continued. //// USS Calypso captured British schooner Herald off Frying Pan Shoals (NC) with a cargo of salt and soda (not soda pop). //// OCTOBER 26TH //// Union ironclads began an intensive two week bombardment of Fort Sumter. General Beauregard wrote of the "terrible bombardment" and said that the fort had been hammered by 1000 shot in just 12 hours. //// A week later, Commander Stevens of the monitor USS Patapsco, said the bombardment was "hardly describable, throwing bricks and mortar, gun carriages and timber in every direction and high into the air." But, Rear Admiral Dahlgren noted: "There is an immense endurance in such a mass of masonry, and ruins may serve as shelter to many men." In other words, you can destroy it only so much before it gets stronger. The embattled defenders held on, though. --Old B-Runner

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

USS Nansemond-- Part 2

Just ten days after destroying the Douro, this time for good, the Nansemond forced the blockade-runner Venus ashore after hitting it with four shots on October 21, 1863, . It was found that she couldn't be floated and the ship was burned. Of course, the problem with destroying a blockade-runner is that you don't get the prize money. OK, the ship did its duty, but that extra money is real nice. And, that's two runners in ten days that brought no prize money. I imagine their was a lot of grumbling among the crew. //// On November 4, 1863, the USS Howquah, on Wilmington station, sighted the blockade-runner Margaret and Jessie and pursued it through the night. It was joined by the Nansemond and Army transport Fulton and the notorious blockade-runner was captured at sea just east of Mrytle Beach, SC. The Margaret and Jessie had run the blockade 15 times. //// Old B-Runner

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

USS Nansemond-- Part 1

From Wikipedia. //// Yesterday, i wrote about this Union ship chasing the blockade-runner Venus ashore and later burning it. So, I looked it up to find out more about the ship. //// The Nansemond was a sidewheel steamer built in 1862 in Williamsburg, New York as the James F. Freeborn, but purchased by the U.S. Navy on 18 August 1863 and commissioned in Baltimore 19 August under Lt. Roswell H. Lamson. //// It was a fast ship, able to go 15 knots, 146 feet long with a 63-man crew and mounting one 30-pdr. Parrot rifle and two 24-pdr. guns. //// It joined the North Atlantic Blockading Fleet 24 August 1863 and chased the Douro ashore near New Inlet 11 October and destroyed the blockade-runner with a cargo of cotton, turpentine, tobacco and rosin. The Douro, as I previously mentioned earlier this month, had been captured earlier by the USS Quaker City and had been condemned and sold and found itself back in the business. //// Two Times Not the Charm. --Old B-Runner

Some Confusion With Today's Ship Island Incident

In the earlier post, I wrote about the Union steamer Mist being captured by Confederate guerrillas at Ship Island, Mississippi. I know their is a brarier island of the Mississippi coast by that name with Fort Massachusetts on it. But, considering the small size of the island, a Union fort and naval base there, I kind of doubt that there were any Confederate guerrilla operations on it. //// Now, what would have made more sense was a Ship island somewhere along the Mississippi River, or perhaps another state of Mississippi river being attacked by guerrillas. But, I was unable to come up with another Ship Island during my search. Perhaps this was a msitake in the CWNC. --Old B-R'er

The Mississippi Still Not Completely Safe: Union Steamer Mist Captured

OCTOBER 22ND, 1863 //// The Union steamer Mist was boarded andburned at Ship Island, Mississippi, by Confederate guerrillas when she attempted to take on a cargo of cotton without the protection of a Union gunboat. //// A week later, Rear Admiral Porter wrote to Maj. Gen. W.T. Sherman, "Steamers should not be allowed to land anywhere but at a military port, or a place guarded by a gunboat...." So, even with the Mississippi River under Union control, it still wan't completely safe. //// OCTOBER 23RD: The USS Norfolk Packet captured schooner Ocean Bird off St. Augustine Inlet, Florida. //// There's Confeds In Those Woods. --Old B-Runner

Monday, October 21, 2013

Blockader Nansemond Runs Runner Venus Ashore This Date

OCTOBER 21ST, 1863 //// The USS Nansemond, Lt. R.H. Lamson, chased blockade running steamer venus ashore near the Cape Fear River, NC. Four shots from the blockader caused the steamer to take on water. Lamson attempted to get the Venus off in the morning but found "it impossible to move her, [and] I ordered her to be set on fire." //// A notebook found aboard recorded that 75 ships had been engaged in blockade running thus far in 1863, of which 32 had been captured or destroyed. Got Another One. --Old B-Runner

Saturday, October 19, 2013

150 Years Ago Today: October 20, 1863-- They're Watching

OCTOBER 20TH: Commander Bulloch advised Mallory from Liverpool that the ironclads known as 294 and 295, being built in England, had been seized by the British government. He felt that the reason for the seizure was the arrival of a large number of Confederate naval officers in Britain over the previous months. //// The CSS Florida had come off the Irish coast six weeks earlier and gone to Brest, France, where it discharged its crew, many of whom were sent to Liverpool. "These circumstances were eagerly seized upon by the United States representatives here, and they have so worked upon Lord Russell as to make him belive that the presence of these officers and men has direct reference to the destination of the rams." //// In other words, we've got to be sneakier. //// The Old Cloak and Dagger Game, Indeed. --Old B-Runner

Recovering the Hunley

OCTOBER 18, 1863: The sunken submarine H.L. Hunley was found in nine fathoms of water by a diver in Charleston Harbor. Efforts were begun at once to recover the it, deemed vital to the defenses of Charleston. //// Old B-R'er

"Neither Known Nor Appreciated By the Public": Naval Operations Off Charleston

OCTOBER 18, 1863: Rear Admiral Dahlgren, writing Secretary Welles that the role of the Navy in the capture of Morris Island was "neither known nor appreciated by the public at large." He noted that in the two-month bombardment of the city that the ironclads of his squadron had fired more than 8,000 shot and shells and had received nearly 900 hits. //// "By the presence and action of the vessels the right flank of our army and its supplies were entirely covered; provisions, arms, cannon, ammunition....were landed as freely as if the enemy was not in sight, while by the same means the enemy was restricted to the least space and action. //// Indeed, it was only by night, and in the line from Sumter (whose guns covered the operations), that food, powder, or relief could be introduced, and that very sparingly. The works of the enemy were also flanked by our guns so that he was confined to his works and his fire quelled whenever it became too serious." //// Quite the boasting from the admiral, but what if the Confederates had had a fleet to match his at Charleston? Plus, look at what happened every time his ironclads seriously engaged Confederate fortifications. --Old B-Runner

Friday, October 18, 2013

150 Years Ago: October 17-18, 1863

OCTOBER 17TH Boat crews from the USS T.A. Ward destroyed schooner Rover at Murrell's Inlet, SC, loaded with cotton. Three days later, a landing party from the Ward went ashore to reconnoiter and look for water. They were surprised by Confederate cavalry and ten were captured. Sometimes you win, sometimes not. //// The USS Seneca repoted that the blockade-runner staemer Herald had run the blockade drom Darien, Georgia. The ship's commander reported also that one gunboat in a sound could not guard all the estuaries and creeks flowing into it especially since Confederates were looking for other ways to get supplies in and out after Charleston was effectually sealed. //// --Old B-R'er

After the Hunley Sank for the Second Time

The Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley sank on October 15, 1863, it was later raised and the bodies removed. It was the second time the submarine had sunk. It took little time to find a third crew to volunteer. It would now be under the command of Lt. George Dixon of the Confederate Army (you'd have thought it would be a naval officer). //// Under Dixon and Lt. William A. Alexander, the Hunley was reconditioned, but, as a safety precaution, General Beauregard ordered that the sub not dive again. The ship was also fitted with a spar torpedo. //// Over the next four months, the Hunley ventured out into Charleston Harbor at night from her base on Sullivan's Island, but, until mid-February 1864, her attempts to sink a blockader came to no success. //// Problems encountered were that blockaders frequently remained at station some 6-7 miles away; the condition of the tide, wind and sea and physical exhaustion of the crew. //// But, All It Took Was One Shot, And That Did Come. --Old B-Runner

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Confederate Privateers on the West Coast?

OCTOBER 16, 1863 //// Mr. Jules David wrote from Victoria, Vancouver Island, " as president of a Southern asociation existing in this and the adjoining colony of British Columbia" to Confederate Secretary of State Benjamin wanting him to assist him and his organization in getting "a letter of marque to be used on the Pacific." He said much damage could be done to the Union on the Pacific coast. He mentioned that his group had "a first-class steamer of 400 tons, strongly built, and of an average of 14 miles." //// This, along with attacks by Confederate commerce raiders greatly worried Lincoln's government. But, nothing ever came of the plan as far as I know. //// It Could Have Been a Great Plan. --Old B-R'er

150 Years Ago: October 16th-17th, 1863: Attack on Tampa and the Blockade-Runners

OCTOBER 16TH-17TH //// It was learned that blockade-runners Scottish Chief and Kate Dale were loaded with cotton and nearly ready to sail from Hillsboro River in Florida (by Tampa), Rear Admiral Bailey sent Lt. Cmdr. A.A. Semmes commanding the USS Tahoma and the USS Adela to seize them. Alexander Alderman Semmes was the cousin of CSS Alabama commander Raphael Semmes. //// According to Bailey, "It was planned between me and Captain Semmes that he should divert attention from the real object of the expeditionby shelling the fort and town [Tampa], and that under cover of the night men should be landed at a point in Old Tampa Bay, distant from the fort to proceed overland to the point of Hillsboro River where the blockade runners lay, and destroy them." //// One hundred men from the two ships marched 14 miles overland and succeeded in the plan. //// Alarm was given and a running battle took place back to the boats. Five were killed, ten wounded and five taken prisoner. //// --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

H.L. Hunley and His Crew Drown Today, 150 Years Ago

OCTOBER 15TH, 1863. //// The Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley, evidently never accepted into Confederate Navy service since I don't usually see CSS in front of it, under the command of inventor and part-owner H.L. Hunley, sank in Charleston Harbor while making practice dives under the Confederate receiving ship Indian Chief. //// A report of "the unfortunate incident" stated: "The boat left the wharf at 9:25 a.m. and disappeared at 9:35. As soon as she sunk, air bubbles were seen to rise up to the surface of the water, and from this fact it is supposed that the hole in the top of the boat by which the men entered was not properly closed. It was impossible at the time to make any effort to rescue the unfortunate men, as the water was some 9 fathoms deep." //// Thus, H.L. Hunley and his gallant seven-man crew perished. The submarine had claimed the lives of its second crew. //// The submarine was raised for a second time and, for a second time, the crew was buried. //// Practice Makes Perfect, But At What Cost? --Old B-R'er

Talking About That Recruiting Poster-- Part 2

Continued from Sepember 26th. //// What was the Navy offering? So far, it was safer, food and shelter guaranteed, and less time to be served. Then, the recruiting poster went on to list what the sailor could earn. Ordinary Seamen pay was comparable to the Army at $14 a month, but an experienced seaman could earn $4 more and landsmen (no sea experience) $2 less. And, as a bonus, sailors gor an extra $1.50 a month for Grog!!! I imagine if you didn't partake, you could sock that money away. //// And now for the best thing, there was PRIZE MONEY to be had. The poster mentioned $50,000,000 in prize money given out to warships capturing blockade-runners so far in the war. //// Sign Me Up. --Old B-Runner

Monday, October 14, 2013

150 Years Ago: October 13-15, 1863

OCTOBER 13TH-14TH: USS Queen City, with troops, , departed Helena, Arkansas, for Friar's Point, Mississippi, where the soldiers landed, searched warehouse and took 200 bales of cotton and made several suspects prisoners. //// OCTOBER 15TH: USS Commodore and Corypheus destroyed a Confederate tannery at Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, burned the building and destroyed a large amount of hides. //// Union control of the water enabled them to incessantly attack and raid wherever they wanted. //// --Old B-Runner

Saturday, October 12, 2013

150 Years Ago: October 12-13th, 1863-- Don't Forget About Those Forts

OCTOBER 2TH //// USS Kanawha and USS Eugenie attempted to destroy a steamer aground under the guns of Fort Morgan by Mobile Bay and were fired upon. The Kanawha was damaged during the engagement. Besides defending the Confederate ports from fleet attack, these forts were also to help blockade-runners. //// OCTOBER 13TH //// USS Victoria seized a sloop west of Little River, NC with cargo od salt and soap. (Inbound). //// Guard boat from USS Braziliera, captured a schooner near St. Simons' Ga.. Along with Union warships, blockqade-runners had to watch out for small launches that were out and about looking for them. //// --Old B-Runner

Friday, October 11, 2013

The Sinking of the USS Madgie This Date in 1863

OCTOBER 11, 1863: //// The USS Madgie, in tow of the USS Fahkee sank in rough seas off Frying Pan Shoals, NC. That is what the CWNC had to say. Never heard of the USS Madgie, so looked it up in Wikipedia. //// It was a wooden screw steam gunboat launched in 1851, acquired by the Navy Oct. 15, 1861, and sent to the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron where it was fitted out at Port Royal, SC. //// It was 220 tons, 122 feet long and mounted two cannons (one 8-inch and one 20-pdr.) On 20 June 1862, it sank a vessel off Barrett's Island and captured the schooner Southern Belle. In July, it joined the blockade of St. Simon's and reconnoitered the Ogeechee River and engaged Fort McAllister. //// Repaired in March 1863, it then served off St. Catherine's Sound. It sank off Frying Pan Shoals in North Carolina while under tow on this date, October 11, 1863. //// Again, Not a Lot of Information on the Ship. --Old B-Runner

Some More on the Douro

I wasn't able to find out too much about the ship, but did find that she ship was captured by the USS Quaker City on March 9, 1863, on a run out of Wilmington, NC, carrying a cargo of cotton, turpentine and rosin, much like she had when destroyed seven months later. //// Also, there was a ship named the Douro that was built in 1853 and operated by the Bibby Line in England then was sold for use as a blockade-runner in 1862. //// A second ship named the Douro was built in 1864, but not the ship in question. //// It would be interesting to find out what happened to the Douri during the seven months between its capture, sale and destruction. Obviously, it must have run into Wilmington before its destruction. I wonder who bought it? --Stuff I'd Like to Know. --Old B-R'er

Blockade-Runner Duoro: Captured Once, Then Destroyed the Second Time

OCTOBER 11TH //// The USS Nansemond, Lt. Roswell Lawson, chased ashore and destroyed the steamer Douro near New Inlet, NC. It had a cargo of cotton, tobacco, turpentine and rosin. (Outbound) The Douro had been previously captured running the blockade on 9 March 1863 by the USS Quaker City, but after being condemned and sold by the prize court, its new owners made her a blockade-runner again. //// Noting this, Commander Almy, senior officer off New Inlet, wrote, "She now lies a complete wreck...and past ever being bought and sold again." Rear Admiral S.P. Lee wrote Fox: "The Nansemond has done well off Wilmington. She discovered, followed & destroyed the Douro at night, the first instance of the kind, I believe." I'm not sure if here Lee is referring to the ship's second time as a blockade-runner or the fact that it was destroyed at night. //// How Did This Happen? Have to Be Careful Who You Sell It To. --Old B-Runner

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Confederate Privateer Jeff Davis-- Part 1

In the last post, I mentioned the William G. Anderson capturing a blockade-runner in the Gulf of Mexico named the Reindeer which used to be the Confederate privateer Jeff Davis. It looks like that may have been wrong as I have now come across information that it sank while trying to enter St. Augistine, Florida, in mid-August 1861. I'll do some research. --Old B-R'er

The USS William G. Anderson-- Part 2

Next, the Anderson went back to Farragut's West Coast Blockade Squadron. On June 14th, 1862, boar frews from the ship crossed the Mississippi Sound and went 15 miles up the Jordan River and seized the 60-ton Confederate schooner Montebello, then it went to the Galveston blockade and in August, captured the Lilly with 350 kegs of gunpowder. //// After that, two other schooners were captured, including one, the Reindeer, which had once been the privateer Jeff Davis. Several more captures followed, so the crew was enjoying its prize money cut. //// -- Old B-Runner

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The USS William G. Anderson-- Part 1

From Wikipedia. //// Back to the story of the USS Beauregard. This is the ship that captured the then Confederate privateer Beauregard. //// The USS William G. Anderson was a 149-foot bark built in 1859 at Boston, Mass. and acquired by the Navy 23 August 1861 and commissioned October 2, 1861. It mounted six 32-pounders and one 24-pdr. howitzer. //// Joined the West Gulf Blockading Squadron and searched for Confederate privateers. On 7 November, it captured the Beauregard, seven days out of Charleston. It then cruised off Puerto Rico, Cuba, Bermuda and the Windward Islands. During that time, it sighted 210 vessels, boarded 66, but not many were privateers. It returned to Boston April 16, 1862. //// Not Finished Yet. --Old B-R'er

150 Years Ago: October 9th-10th, 1863

OCTOBER 9TH-- Sectretary Welles commended Raer Admiral Dahlgren for the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron's operations against Charleston, SC. It was the first step toward taking the port which so many in the North wanted done as soon as possible because that is where the war began. But, Welles cautioned "...the public impatience must not be permitted to hasten your own movements into immature and inconsiderate action...." //// The CS Georgia (cruiser) captured and burned the ship Bold Hunter off French West Africa. //// OCTOBER 10TH-- Secretary Welles wrote Rear Admiral Porter to help General Sherman in his operations along the Tennessee River. Porter reported that shallowness currently prevented him from doing so, but gunboats would go just as soon a sthe water rose. //// Old B-Runner

Monday, October 7, 2013

150 Years Ago: October 7, 1863

OCTOBER 7TH //// An expedition from the USS Osage captured and burned steamers Robert Fulton and Argus in the Red River. Union forces traveled overland with difficulty through undergrowth from the Mississippi to the Red River. //// Boat crew from USS Cayuga boarded and destroyed blockade-runner Pushmataha which it had chased ashore off Calcasieu River, Louisiana. Carried gunpowder and one keg set afire, but Ordinary Seaman Thomas Morton threw it overboard. //// Old B-R'er

Blockade-Runners Captured by the USS Beauregard

From Wikipedia. //// Prizes and Adjutications //// Date, Name of Ship Captured, Prize Money to Beauregard: //// 6-20-62 LUCY, 8-26-63 PHOEBE, 10-6-63 LAST TRIAL (I wrote about this capture this past Saturday in 150 Years Ago. At this point, the chart starts listing prize money. //// 11-5-63 VOLANTE, $1,210.91; 1-15-64 MINNIE $3,065.40; 1-28-64 RACER $5,609.25; 3-11,64 Hannah $216.59; 3-11-64 LINDA $1,066.15; 4-7-64 sPUNKY $4,912.79; 4-18-64 ORAMONETA $606.24 and 5-12-64 RESOLUTE $440.79. //// All prizes except Spunky and Oramoneta adjudicated in Key West. //// That brings total prize money divvied up to $17,128.12, a great sum of money back then. Like the recruiting poster I wrote about last month, join the Navy and have a shot at some prize money. //// We're In the Money. --Old B-Runner

USS Beauregard-- Part 2

Ithe privateer Beauregard was taken to Key West for adjudication and condemned for $2,147.47 with $1,854.92 for distribution among the Anderson's crew. //// The U.S. Navy purchased the Beauregard for $1,810 on 24 Feb 1862 and replaced the 24-pdr rifle (which had been spiked by its Confederate crew when captured) with one 30-pdr. rifle and two 12-pdr. howitzers, commissioned 28 March 1862 and sent to the East Gulf Blockading Squadron. //// On 2 April 1863, the USS Beauregard supported an attack on Tampa, Florida and 28 July 1863 saw action at New Smyrna, Florida. //// From July 1862 to May 12, 1864, the ship captured eleven blockade-runners, all but one as the only vessel entitled to share prize money. Those crew members made a good deal of extra money this way. //// The USS Beauregard was sold at Key West June 28, 1865. //// The Story of a Ship Serving Two Countries. Much More Successful as a Blockader. --Old B-R'er

USS Beauregard-- Part 1

From Wikipedia. //// Saturday, I wrote about two strangely-named United States warships capturing blockade-runners 150 years ago this month. One was the USS Beauregard. Why would the Union Navy have a warship named after a Confederate general. Or was it? //// The Bearegard was launched in 1850 as the schooner Priscilla C. Ferguson, but became a Confederate privateer mounting a 24-pdr. rifle and a crew of 40, commissioned into service in Charleston, SC 14 October 1861 and renamed for the hero of Fort Sumter and Manassas, Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard. //// It ran the blockade out of Charleston on November 5th. Just seven days later, on Nov. 12th, it was spotted by the USS William G. Anderson in the Bahama Channel near Cuba and captured after a two-hour chase. The Beauregard, as a privateer, never captured any ships. --Not Too Successful As a Privateer. --Old B-Runner

Saturday, October 5, 2013

150 Years Ago: October 6, 1863: Strangely-Named Ships Capture Blockade-Runners

OCTOBER 6TH /// The USS Beauregard (kind of a strange name for a Union ship) captured sloop Last Trial at Key West with cargo of salt. (Inbound) //// USS Virginia (another strange name for a Union ship) seized British blockade-runner Jenny off the coast of Texas with a cargo of cotton (outbound). //// Wasn't Beauregard and Confederate officer and Virginia a state in the Confederacy? //// Old B-R'er

David Took On Goliath 150 Years Ago Today-- Part 3

This account from the Civil War Naval Chronology. //// Confederate Secretary of the Navy Mallory wrote, "The annals of naval warfare record few enterprises which exhibit more strikenly than this of Lieutenant Glassell the highest qualities of a sea officer." I have to wonder at this point why Glassell would have been honored this way when he jumped off his ship? //// The near success of the David prompted Dahlgren to emphasize the need for developing defensive measures against ship-borne torpedoes. He said that the Union ships should be protected by outriggers and the Union should employ similar craft. He also wanted his own torpedoes to use against the Confederates especially since, "We can make them faster than they can." Old B-Runner

David Took On Goliath 150 Years Ago Today-- Part 2

Lt. Glassell and a crewman thought the David was doomed and jumped overboard, but Engineer Turner succeeded in relighting the David's fires and with the help of pilot Walker Cannon, who could not swim, took the David back to Charleston. Lt. Glassell and the crew member were later picked up by the blockading fleet. //// Although the David did not succeed in sinking the New Ironsides, the ship had to leave Charleston for repairs. //// Rear Admiral Dahlgren wrote, "It seems to me that nothing could have been more successful as a first effort, and it will place the torpedo among certain offensive means." And the Hunley hadn't even sunk the Housatonic with a torpedo yet. And, of course, we know how effective torpedoes were in the two world wars. --Old B-R'er

David Takes on Goliath 150 Years Ago Today-- Part 1

OCTOBER 5TH, 1863 //// Today, the little CSS David, commanded by Lt. Glassell, CSN, exploded a torpedo against the side of the USS New Ironsides, under Captain Rowan, in Charleston Harbor, SC. Mounting a toprpedo with 60 pounds of powder on a ten-foot spar fixed to the bow, the fifty-foot David stood out from the pier early in the evening. //// Being low in the water and hard to see, the David was close to the New Ironsides before it was spotted and hailed. //// The federals opened with small arms fire, but the David came on, exploding the torpedo ahainst the Union ship's starboard quarter and "shaking the vessel and throwing up an immense column of water. //// As that water came down, it unfortunately for the David put out the boiler fire and nearly swamped her., causing the Confederate ship to swing alongside the New Ironsides. //// Not Over Yet. --Old B-Runner

Friday, October 4, 2013

Tracking Down Charles Morfit, CSN, and His Letter-- Part 1

From I wrote about this man last week in this blog. This person sure did a lot of research on a person not well-known when it comes to the Civil War Navy. It also gives a good account of problems facing the Confederate Postal Service. //// They were preparing a close look at the movements of both the letter and Mr. Morfit. //// In early Feb. 1862, a letter was posted at Macon, Georgia, for Charles M. Morfit, CS Navy, CSS Steamer Ivy, at New Orleans, Louisiana. However, when the letter arrived, Morfit was no longer there as the Ivy had been sent upriver and the letter was forwarded to Columbus, Kentucky. //// However, Fort Donelson fell on February 16th and Columbus was evacuated Feb. 20th so the letter was sent downstream to the Confederate stronghold at New Madrid, Missouri. //// Forget Where's Waldo. Where's Charles? --Old B-Runner