Fort Fisher

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

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Naval Happenings 150 Years Ago: January 31, 1863-- Confederate Ironclads Attack at Charleston

JANUARY 31ST

Rams CSS Chicora and CSS Palmetto State at Charleston, SC, attack Union blockading fleet on a foggy morning.  The Palmetto State rammed the USS Mercedita and fired into her, causing the ship to surrender in a "sinking and perfectly defenseless condition." 

The Chicora engaged and crippled the USS Keystone State suffering 20 killed and 20 wounded  The USS Memphis took it under tow in a sinking condition.  The USS Quaker City was damaged by a shell exploded in the engine room.

The USS Housatonic engaged the two rams before they withdrew.

Confederate General Beauregard claimed that the blockade had been broken.


US Major General Wright wrote Commander Pennock at Cairo request that an ironclad be stationed on the Cumberland River to keep that waterway open between its mouth and Nashville.  The ironclad would be able to stand up against the field artillery that Confederates were forever putting along the banks.

A Confederate Success at Charleston.  --Old B-Runner

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

New Evidence to Hunley's Sinking-- Part 2

The Hunley was built in Mobile, but deployed in Charleston Harbor to break the blockade.  For years after the war, people searched for the wreck of the submarine which never returned after its attack on the the USS Housatonic before it was finally located in 1995.  Raised in 2000, it had been in a conservation lab in North Charleston ever since.

Conservator Paul Mardikiam had to remove material crusted onto one end of the spar.  Beneath it, he found evidence of a copper sleeve, which was shown on the plans of the Hunley.  "The sleeve is an indication the torpedo was attached to the end of the spar."  The rest of the 16-foot spar shows evidence that could be associated with its being bent during the torpedo's explosion.

At one time it was believed the Hunley placed the torpedo against the Housatonic then backed away and triggered it remotely.  This would indicate that the Hunley was within 16 feet of the explosion, which with all those pounds of gunpowder, 135, would have caused quite a shock to the submarine.

The crew was found at their seats with no evidence of any attempt to escape.  This quite possibly could mean that they were knocked unconscious by the explosion, drifted away, and died before they came to.

More to Come.  --Old B-R'er

USS Massachusetts-- Part 2

This was one really busy ship in 1861.  I came across the name again and again in my research.

You have to wonder if Fort Massachusetts on Ship Island, around which the ship constantly operated, was named for the ship.  How about a fort being named for a ship?

On July 13, 1861, it captured the Hiland and then on the 14th engaged Confederate steamers Arrow and Oregon off Chandeleur Island and forced them to withdraw.  On August 7th it captured the Charles Henry.  The crew had to be rolling in prize money by now.

In September, the Massachusetts put in for much-needed repairs.  After which, it fortified Chandeleur Island and set up a light for navigation.

On September 17th, a landing party from it took possession of Ship island which then became a major base of the blockading fleet and great shelter from storms.  Farragut used it as a base for his expedition to capture New Orleans the following year.

In early 1862, it was decommissioned in New York City and outfitted to be a troop and transport ship, but later reverted to gunboat status as part of the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron.  It captured the Parsis in Wassaw Sound March 12, 1863 and, along with the Commodore Perry, captured the blockade-runner Caledonia May 30, 1864 south of Cape Fear after a two-hour chase.

In August, along with the steamers Gettysburg and Keystone State, captured the blockade-runner Lilian.

 In March 1865, it struck a torpedo in Charleston Harbor, but fortunately, it didn't explode.

Decommissioned in New York City in September 1865, it was in the commerce trade until 1872.

Those Sailors Had to Love That Ship With All That Prize Money from the Runners.  --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

New Evidence in Hunley's Sinking-- Part 1

From the Jan. 28, 2013, Yahoo! News, AP "Experts find new evidence in submarine mystery" by Bruce Smith.

Ever since the civil War, people have wondered what sank the H.L. Hunley, killing its 8-man crew in the process.  A lot of theories have been set forth.  But now, scientists think they were killed by their proximity to the torpedo explosion. 

They were less than twenty feet away when it exploded.  That explosion may have knocked the crew members unconscious long enough so that they might have died before awakening.  This is based on work now being done on the spar, an iron pole, that held the torpedo on the front of the submarine.

For years, people have thought that the Hunley was much farther away when the explosion took place and ran out of air before returning to shore.

More to Come.  --Old B-Runner

USS Masachusetts-- Part 1

From Wikipedia.

Back in 2011, while I was doing blogs on the sesquicentennial of the opening year of the war, I came across the name of this ship many times in conjunction with Gulf of Mexico operations.  Delving a bit more into this ship's history.

It was launched in 1860 and acquired by the Navy 3 May 1861 and commissioned May 24th.  It was an iron screw steamer 210-feet long, 33.2 foot beam mounting one 22-pdr, one 42- cw pivot gun and four 82 cwt guns.

It was assigned to the Gulf Blockading Squadron and on June 9th captured the Perthshire, June 17th the Achilles and June 19th the Nahan.  Then on June 23rd, did very well, capturing the Brilliant, Trois Freres, Olive Branch, Fanny and Basile.  A lot of money for the crew.

The Massachusetts engaged Confederate batteries on Ship island until it ran out of ammunition.

More to Come.  --Old B-R'er

Working on the USS Monitor Back in 2011

From the July 19, 2011, Virginian Pilot "USS Monitor's tank drained for public display" by Teresa Annas.  The first two entries on this were made on September 3, 2011, in my Saw the Elephant Civil War blog, before I branched off with one just on the Navies in the war.

Projects are constantly underway to conserve various Monitor items.  This summer, the 120 ton turret can be examined by the public after it is drained.  This will be from  July to August on week days.

A seven member conservation team will be inside the upside down turret removing most of the final layers of sediment and concretion.  Their last-day in the turret will be August 31st. After that, the turret will be filled with water again.

In the months after it was raised, a few hundred objects were excavating, including a rubber comb, silverware and rubber boots.

On July 8th, during the current work, three items were dislodged.  What is called the whatz-it might be a knob.  Another worker found an officer's button with eagle and anchor.

It's a Monitor Thing.  --Old B-Runner

Monday, January 28, 2013

Naval Happenings 150 Years Ago: January 29th to 30th,1863-- Grant the Canal Builder

JANUARY 29TH

Union gunboats are regularly convoying Army transports oin the Cumberland and Tennessee rivers.

Admiral Du Pont, is continuing to experiment with his ironclads for the anticipated attack on Charleston, SC.  The smokestack of the USS New Ironsides had been cut down to within four feet of the deck.  This was done to alleviate partial observation lines.  But, it was found that the resulting gas and smoke enveloped the whole ship so its height was restored.

The USS Brooklyn and gunboats tested Confederate batteries under construction at Galveston.  Two of the enemy's guns could fire two and a half miles.


JANUARY 30th

The USS Isaac Smith conducted an expedition of the Stono River in South Carolina.  On her return, it was caught in a crossfire, ran aground and was captured by Confederates.

The USS Perry was on a joint expedition with Army troops up the Perquimans River and landed at Hertford, NC, and burned two bridges.

Grant informed Admiral Porter of his plan to cut a canal through Lake Providence, Louisiana so his troops could get in the rear of Vicksburg.

Old B-R'er

Naval Happenings 150 Years Ago: January 28th,1863-- Farragut's Alright With Welles:

JANUARY 28TH

Secretary of War Welles is still waiting for Farragut's report on the loss of Galveston and the Harriet Lane, but it is not forthcoming.  He added: "Farragut has prompt, energetic, excellent qualities, but no fondness for written details or self-laudation; does but one thing at a time, but does that strong and well; is better fitted to lead an expedition through danger and difficulty than to command an extensive blockade; is a good officer in a great emergency, will more than willingly take great risks in order to obtain great results than any other officer in either Navy or Army, and unlike most of them, prefers that others should tell the story of his well-doing rather than relate it himself."

Welles knew his man quite well, evidently as it sums up Farragut's qualities very well.  However, the Galveston fiasco was anything but a "great result."  Good thing Welles liked him.  Not submitting a report could be grounds for dismissal.

Old B-Runner

Saturday, January 26, 2013

The USS Bainbridge: The War in Real Time-- Part 2

The Bainbidge was a brig-rigged sailing ship launched in 1842 at the Boston Navy Yard.  It was 100-feet long, had a 25-foot beam, weighed 259 tons, had a crew of 100 and carried twelve 32-pdr. carronades.

Before the Civil War, it served in the Home, African and Brazil squadrons and had been decommissioned before returning to service in May 1861 and sent to the Gulf of Mexico where it captured three blockade-runners.  On August 3, 1862, it joined the East Gulf Blockading Squadron.

In September 1862, it was ordered to Aspinwall, Panama.  From November 22-24, it was hit by a really strong storm that caused all the spars, sails, gun carriages, howitzers, shot, powder, provisions and water to be jettisoned.

After that, the Golden Rule, sunk by the Alabama, was sent with replacements and didn't arrive, of course.  Evidently another ship was sent and this one got through.  After extensive repairs, the Bainbridge sailed to New York in May 1863 (after having been out of the business for quite a few additional months as Semmes had predicted,.

While proceeding to its new station with the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron, she capsized off Cape Hatteras August 21, 1863, with the loss of all but one of her crew.

The Story of a Ship.  --Old B-R'er

The USS Bainbridge: The War in Real Time-- Part 1

In the last post I mentioned the CSS  Alabama capturing the brig Golden Rule off Haiti on January 26, 1863, today, 150 years ago.  Semmes noted in his log: "This vessel had on board masts, spars, and a complete set of rigging for the U.S. brig Bainbridge, lately obliged to cut away her masts in a gale at Aspinwall [Panama]."  He later added: "I had tied up for awhile longer, one of the enemy's gun-brigs, for want of an outfit.  It must have been some months before the Bainbridge put to sea."  And, it was.

Well, I had never heard of this ship, so good old Wiki to the rescue.

It was named for William Bainbridge, a U.S. Naval officer in the Barbary War and the War of 1812 and who assumed command of the USS Constitution after Isaac Hull (who had defeated the HMS Guerriere.  He defeated the HMS Java in combat.

The first American destroyer, the USS Bainbridge (DD-1) was also named after him in 1902.

I'll have to write about him in my War of 1812 blog.

More to Come.  --Old B-Runner

Naval Happenings 150 Years Ago: January 26th to ,1863-- Two Commerce Raiders Out and About

JANUARY 26TH

CSS Alabama captured and burned bark Golden Rule off Haiti in the Caribbean.  Semmes noted that it had masts and sails intended for the USS Bainbridge which had been lost in a gale earlier.


JANUARY 27TH

Ironclad Montauk and other ships engage Fort McAllister, Georgia, on the Ogeechee River.  This was a test of the ironclads to see how they would stand up to heavy artillery fire in preparation for the attack on Charleston.  They had to fire from a distance because of obstructions and possible torpedoes in the river.

Commander John Worden observed that the confederates were quite accurate, striking his vessel "quite a number of times, doing us no damage."

Du Pont wrote: "The monitor was struck some thirteen or fourteen times, which would have sunk a gunboat easily, but it did no injury whatsoever to the Montauk-- speaking well of the impenetrability of those vessels--  though the distance was greater than what could constitute a fair test.

But the slow firing, the inaccuracy of aim, for you can't see to aim properly from the turret [were a problem].  I asked myself...if one ironclad cannot take eight guns-- how are five to take 147 guns in Charleston harbor."

CSS Alabama captured and burned brig Chastlaine in the Caribbean.

Finally Caught Up.  --Old B-R'er

Naval Happenings 150 Years Ago: January 22nd to 24th, 1863-- Preparations for Vicksburg and Charleston

JANUARY 22ND

USS Commodore Morris seizes oyster sloop John C. Calhoun, schooner Harriet, and sloop Music near Chuckatuck Creek, Virginia.  Lots of contraband moving on the Potomac River.

The chronic shortage of iron in the Confederacy a constant problem for ironclads.  This date, the Sec. of War appointed a committee to determine what railroad tracks could be "dispensed with" in order to provide iron for warships.  Railroad tracks were a major source of iron.

CSS Florida, under the aforementioned Maffitt captured and burned the brigs Windward and Corris Ann near Cuba.


JANUARY 23RD

 USS Cambridge captured schooner Time off Cape Fear, NC, with cargo of salt, matches and shoes.


JANUARY 24TH

Rear Admiral Porter writes of his arrival at the mouth of the Yazoo River and the advance on Vicksburg.  The Army is there as well  "The front of Vicksburg is heavily fortified, and unless we can get troops in the rear of the city I see no chance of taking it at present."  Twelve Confederate steamers that had been providing supplies and munitions to Port Hudson were trapped in the Yazoo and that would make it easier to capture that place.

Rear Admiral Du Pont writes that he will need more ironclads to take Charleston, SC.

Confederate Sec. of Navy Mallory wrote President Davis rejecting the suggestion of putting an Army officer in command of the recently captured Harriet Lane saying it wouldn't be legal to promote such an officer over nine-tenths of his naval officers.

Almost Getting Caught Up.  --Old B-Runner

Friday, January 25, 2013

Naval Happenings 150 Years Ago: January 20th to 21st, 1863-- Maffitt's Another Semmes

JANUARY 20TH

The CSS Florida entered Havana Harbor.  A New York correspondent noted that its commander John Newland Maffitt "is no ordinary character.  He is vigorous, energetic, bold, quick and dashing, and the sooner he is caught and hung the better it will be for the interest of our commercial community.  He is decidedly popular here, and you can scarcely imagine the anxiety evinced to get a glance at him... Nobody, unless informed, would have imagined the small, black-eyed, poetic -looking gentleman, with his romantic appearance, to be a second Semmes, probably in time to be a more celebrated and more dangerous pirate."

Quite an honor to be ranked in there with Semmes.  Wilmington's pride.


JANUARY 21ST

The CSS Josiah Bell and Uncle Ben attacked and captured the small blockader USS Morning Light, at Sabine Pass, Texas.  Two days later, the Confederates burned the ship after they couldn't get it over the bar.

USS Daylight forced a blockade-running schooner (name unknown) ashore off New Topsail Inlet, NC, and destroyed her.

Old B-Runner

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Naval Happenings 150 Years Ago: January 19, 1863-- The Effectiveness of the Blockade

JANUARY 19TH

The CSS Florida captured and burned the brig Estelle.

Pressure being put on Commander Pennock at Cairo to send ships to assist the Army in its western operations.

An intercepted letter from Nassau indicated the blockade's effectiveness: "There are men here who are making immense fortunes by shipping goods to Dixie....Salt, for example, is one of the most paying things to send in.  Here in Nassau it is only worth 60 cents a bushel, but in Charleston brings at auction from $80 to $100 in Confederate money, but as Confederate money is no good out of the Confederacy they send back cotton or turpentine, which, if it reaches here, is worth proportionally as much as salt is there....It is speculation by which one makes either 600 to 800 per cent or loses all."

A Great Activity If You Don't Get Caught.  --Old B-Runner

Naval Happenings 150 Years Ago: Jan. 17th to 18th, 1863-- Porter Praises Yazoo Operations

JANUARY 17TH

The USS Baron De Kalb proceeded up the White River to Des Arc, Arkansas, and found 39 rebel soldiers at a hospital and paroled them.  They also captured quite a bit of ammunition.

The day before, the ship had been at Devall's Bluff on the White River and captured public property and cannons.  He noted that both days, his ship had arrived ahead of supporting Union troops.  With Fort Hindman out of the way, the US was proceeding up the White River.


JANUARY 18TH

With the White River under Union control, Union Admiral Porter turned his attention again to Vicksburg.  and wrote Welles that he thought the December attempt to take the city  "was premature."  The Navy's operations "in the Yazoo are worthy to be ranked amongst the brightest events of the war.  The officers in charge of getting up the torpedoes and clearing eight miles of river distinguished themselves by their patient endurance and galling fire of musketry from well-protected and unseen riflemen."

Old B-R'er

Naval Happenings 150 Years Ago: January 15th to 16th ,1863-- CSS Florida Escapes Out of Mobile

Hopefully I will eventually get caught up with these items.

JANUARY 15TH

President Lincoln is back visiting Captain John A. Dahlgren at the Washington Navy Yard regarding gunpowder development.  One of his frequent trips there to observe developments in technology.


JANUARY 16TH

The CSS Florida, Lt. John N. Maffitt, ran blockade out of Mobile, Alabama, in the early morning.  The ship had been at Mobile four months having its equipment overhauled.  Confusion in the Union fleet helped thee scape. 

Arrived in Havana Jan. 20th and debarked prisoners from her first prize.  U.S. consul-general there described the ship as "a bark-rigged propeller, quite fast under steam and canvas; has two smoke-stacks fore and aft of each other, close together; has a battery of four 42's or 68's of a side, and two large pivot guns.  Her crew consists of 135 men...is a wooden vessel of about 1,500 tons."

This escape along with other setbacks in the Gulf, greatly bothered Admiral Farragut, who wrote: "This squadron, as Sam Barron used to say, 'is eating its dirt now'--Galveston skedaddled, the Hatteras sunk by the Alabama, and now the Oreto [Florida] out."

Who "Skedaddled?"  --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Not Actually the Civil War, But In Keeping With This Blog

From the Jan. 2, 2013, Wilmington (NC) Star-News.

Back Then on Dec. 13, 1962, the good folks at Wrightsville Beach, NC, were getting excited about the construction of the Blockade Runner Motel.  It was replacing the old Ocean terrace Hotel that had been destroyed by fire.

I've drive by the Blockade Runner Motel, but never stayed there.  One of these days I'll have to remedy that situation.

Hey, They named It After me, After All.  Or, At Least I Like to Think So.  --Old B-Runner

Naval Happenings This Date: January 13th to 14th, 1863: USS Columbia Runs Aground

JANUARY 13TH

A joint Army-Navy expedition from Memphis destroyed buildings in Mound City, Arkansas, in reprisal for Confederate attacks on river steamers.


JANUARY 14TH

Joint Army-Navy expedition attacked Confederate defenses at Bayou Teche, below Franklin, Louisiana.  CSS Cotton City set afire to prevent capture.  During the engagement, a torpedo blew up under the USS Kinsman, snapping the rudder.

Another joint expedition to St. Charles, Arkansas, to follow up on Fort Hindman victory.

USS Columbia ran aground off the coast of North Carolina near Wilmington.  High winds and heavy seas aborted initial attempts to get her off, and by Jan. 17th, when the weather abated, the ship was in Confederate hands.  Union ships opened fire on her and the ship was destroyed, but the ship's commander and ten other crew members were captured.

Old B-R'er

Naval Happenings This Date: January 9th to 11th, 1863-- Fall of Fort Hindman-- Alabama Sinks the Hatteras

JANUARY 9-11

Army-Navy expedition attacks and captures Confederate Fort Hindman at Arkansas Post.  There was a serious exchange of gunfire on the 10th and 11th in which every gun in the fort was dismounted, disabled or knocked to piece.  The fort surrendered.

Porter wrote Welles that the commander of the rebels said, "You can't expect men to stand up against the fire of those gunboats."

After the loss, Confederates abandoned other positions on the White and St. Charles rivers.


JANUARY 10TH

Under orders from Farragut to recapture Galveston, Texas, the port was bombarded, but eventually withdrew.


JANUARY 11TH

CSS Alabama, under Captain Raphael Semmes, sank the USS Hatteras about thirty miles off Galveston, Texas, in a 13-minute battle.  The Hatteras sank in nine and a half fathoms and its crew rescued by the Alabama.  Other Union blockaders gave chase, but to no avail.

Old B-Runner

Monday, January 21, 2013

Mariners Museum Honors Fallen Monitor Sailors

From the December 30, 2012, Virginian Pilot by Margaret Matray.

On December 29, 1862, while under tow from the USS Rhode Island, the hawser line snapped.  Caulking washed away and water rushed into the engine room and coal became too wet to keep up steam.

By 10:30 PM, Captain John Bankhead ordered a red distress signal to be hoisted.  At 11 PM, he called for the Rhode Island to send rescue boats.  Shortly after midnight, the Monitor's pumps stopped and that was that.  The Monitor was going to sink.

The captain said, "It is madness to remain here longer.  Let each man save himself.""

More to Come. --Old B-Runner

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Naval Happenings 150 Years Ago: January 7th to 9th,1863

JANUARY 7TH

Confederate Sec. of Navy Mallory wrote Commander Bulloch in Liverpool concerning the importance of the ships being built in England" :...Push these ships ahead as rapidly as possible.  Our difficulty lies in providing you with funds, but you may rely upon receiving cotton certificates sooner or later."


JANUARY 7-9TH

Joint Army-Navy expedition up the Pamunkey River destroyed boats, barges and stores at West Point and White House, Virginia.


JANUARY 8TH

General Grant wrote Commander Pennock in Cairo requesting urgently needed gunboats to protect transports carrying reinforcements to Vicksburg.


USS Tahoma, under Lt. Cmdr. Alexander A. Semmes, captured blockade-runner  Silas Henry aground at Tampa Bay with a cargo of cotton.  Is this Semmes related to the Alabama's Semmes?


JANUARY 9TH

Boat crews from the USS Ethan Allen destroyed a large salt manufactory south of St. Joseph's, Florida.

Old B-Runner

Friday, January 18, 2013

Naval Happenings 150 Years Ago: January 4th to 6th, 1863-- Charleston Getting Tougher to Crack

JANUARY 4TH

Admiral Du Pont wrote that Charleston Harbor's defenses had steadily strengthened since the fall of Sumter, 20 months ago.  Confederate General Beauregard "is now giving the closing touches and I believe he has exhausted his science and applied every conceivable means.  He is fully confident that he can successfully defend the harbor, and the British officers who go in, and the blockade runners whom we catch smile at the idea of its being taken, representing it stronger than Sebastapol."

Du Pont believes any Union attack on Charleston should be a joint operation.


Major General Grant requests gunboat support as Confederates are endeavoring to recapture portions of Tennessee.


USS Quaker State captured the sloop Mercury off Charleston with dispatches concerning Confederate ironclads being built in England.


JANUARY 6TH

Confederate troops captured and burned the steamboat Jacob Musselman near Memphis.  Attacks such as this emphasized the need for Union gunboat control of the rivers

Old B-Runner

Naval Happenings 150 Years Ago: Jan. 1 to 4th, 1863-- Those Infernal Machines

JANUARY 1ST

The Confederates used their torpedoes (today's mines) extensively in their western waters (and along the coasts).  Union leaders used similar ingenuity to overcome them. 

The noted Col. Charles R. Ellet proposed a plan to get rid of those pesky infernal machines in the Yazoo River (the ones that Cmdr. Selfridge didn't clear out) involving the swift and powerful steamboat Lioness.

Twin 65-foot spars were to be placed at the bow connected by a 35-foot crosspiece with hooks going into the river to cut the wires by which they are fired.  A similar method was used in World War II and the Korean War.

Unless, of course, you had Thomas O. Selfridge who removed the torpedoes by ramming them with his ship.


JANUARY 4TH

A joint Army-Navy expedition got underway up the White River, Arkansas, with the goal of capturing Fort Hindman at Arkansas Post.  Porter was lacking adequate coal and had his gunboats towed upriver by Army transports.  His flagship was the Black Hawk and his flotilla included ironclads USS Baron de Kalb, Louisville and Cincinnati.

Old B-R'er


Naval Happenings 150 Years Ago: Jan. 1,1813-- Finally, a Confederate Victory!

From the Civil War Naval Chronology.

Essentially, 1862 was an absolutley horrific year for the Confederate naval aspirations.  Ports and forts fell with regularity and the blockade was becoming more and more effective.

JANUARY 1ST

Confederate warships under Major Leon Smith defeated Union blockading forces at Galveston during a surprise attack combined with a troop advance on shore.  Smith's flotilla (an Army officer commanding naval ships?) included the improvised cotton-clads CSS Bayou City and Neptune with troops on board tenders John F. Carr and Lucy Gwin.

The Union squadron under Cmdr.  William Renshaw, consisted of the USS Harriet Lane, Owasco, Corypheus, Sachem, Clifton and Westfield, was caught by surprise.The Harriet Lane put up a fight and rammed the Bayou City and then she was rammed by the Neptune.  The Neptune was so damaged by the impact and a shot from the Harriet Lane, that it sank in 8 feet of water.

The Bayou City then rammed the Harriet Lane and the two ships got entangled.  Confederate troops boarded the Lane and after heavy hand-to-hand fighting, the Harriet Lane was forced to surrender after its commander was killed.

The USS Westfield, under Commander Renshaw, ran aground and was destroyed to prevent capture.  Renshaw and his boat crew were killed when the ship blew up prematurely.

The rest of the Union ships ran out to sea under heavy fire.

The recapture of Galveston was a huge blow to the Union effort in the West Gulf operations.

Old B-Runner

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Memorial for Monitor Sailors

From the Dec. 30, 2012, Outer Banks Voice "Memorial dedicated for sailors of ironclad Monitor."

The NOAA Monitor National Marine Sanctuary and US Navy dedicated a memorial Saturday at the Hampton National Cemetery in Hampton, Virginia, for the sixteen Union sailors who died when the ship sank off Cape Hatteras, NC,  on New Year's Eve 1862.

The USS Monitor was involved in the historic battle of the ironclads against the CSS Virginia on March 9. 1862.  This was the first time iron ships had battled each other.  A little over 9 months later, the Monitor met its doom.

Two skeletons were found in the Monitor's turret when it was removed from the wreck.  No trace of the other 14 has been found.

The National Marine Sanctuary Foundation paid for the memorial design and installation, which is near the site of the famous battle with the Virginia.

The Monitor's wreck is 240 feet deep about 16 miles south of Cape Hatteras.

Something Else to See.  --Old B-Runner

Monday, January 14, 2013

Fort Fisher Marks the 148th Anniversary of Its Capture-- Part 2

Fort Fisher was featured a lot in the new movie "Lincoln."  I'm sure most non-Civil War folks had never heard of it before.  Even some Civil War-types are somewhat unfamiliar with it.

The commemoration is free and begins at 10 AM running until 4 PM.  Infantry units will conduct drills and firing demonstrations.  Best of all, the 32-pdr. atop Sheppard's Battery will be fired.  That was something I really wanted to see and finally got the opportunity during an event this past summer.  If you think regular field artillery is loud, wait to you hear (and feel) this.

Historian ErnieKniffin will discuss the lives of Confederate sailors and Marines.  Richard Triebe will sign copies of his new book about what happened to North Carolina troops captured at Fort Fisher and sent to Elmira Prison Camp.

At 12:30, the North Carolina Underwater Archaeology Unit will dedicate a new highway marker for the blockade-runner Modern Greece.

Sure Would Like to Be There, But Not This Time.  --Old B-Runner

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Fort Fisher Marks the 148th Anniversary of Its Capture

From the January 10, 2013, Examiner "Free educational event at North Carolina's Fort Fisher" by Liza Weidle.

This coming January 18th, a living history event takes place at Fort Fisher, near Wilmington, North Carolina.  Re-enactors will show various aspects of Civil War camp life and volunteers will be there to talk about the lives of Confederate infantry and artillery.

January 15th marks the 148th anniversary of the fall of this huge fort which so ably guarded New Inlet to the Cape Fear River so that blockade-runners could come and go, carrying the supplies the Confederacy needed to wage the war.

This commemoration will focus on Sheppard's Battery at the far western end of the fort's land defenses and the action around the "Bloody Gate" which the battery protected.  This is where the Union Army first  made a lodgement in the fort.  Once that was secured, with the Union's overwhelming force, it was just a matter of time before the fort had to surrender.

I have to admit that I have never heard of the "Bloody Gate" but I'd have to say that the name is appropriate.

More to Come.  --Old B-Runner

Friday, January 11, 2013

Wilmington, NC, 150 Years Ago

These were headlines from Wilmington newspapers back in 1862, as reprinted in the Wilmington (NC) Star-News Looking Back columns over the last year.

Colonel William Lamb of the 36th North Carolina State Troops assumed command of Fort Fisher.  He stayed on as its commander and engineer until its fall in 1865.

Blockade Runner Kate docked at Wilmington, instigating a yellow fever epidemic in the city that killed hundreds.

Next to Charleston, SC, Wilmington was the most heavily fortified city on the Atlantic seaboard.  And continued getting stronger until Jan-Feb, 1865.

And one from 100 years ago, in 1912:

Some hope to save Civil War sites in Wilmington area.  That would especially mean Fort Fisher.

I wrote about these stories throughout 2012, the first year of this blog.

A Lot Going On.  --Old B-Runner

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The CSS Neuse Gets a New Home-- Part 2

Continued from Jan. 4th.

The CSS Neuse Foundation donated the property for the new museum.

One drawback of the move, however, may be that the ship is now 3/4 of a mile from US-70, and there is a fear that it might keep some beach-goers who regularly use the highway, from journeying that far out of their way to see it.

But the hope is that the museum, along with new places in downtown Kinston, North Carolina.  There is a new restaurant called the Chef and Farmer as well as Mother Earth Brewing.  Plus, the full-size replica of the CSS  Neuse.

The Confederate Navy Department authorized the construction of the Neuse in 1862 and it was built along the banks of the Neuse River in what is now Seven Springs (Whitehall back then).  The ship was 158-feet long and had a 34-foot beam, mounting two Brooke Rifles on swivel.  It never saw action and was burned and sunk to prevent capture in the waning days of the war.

It had shared a site with the Richard Caswell Museum, the state's first governor.  The hull sat in an open shed and was prone to flooding which happened twice with Hurricane Fran in 1996 and Hurricane Floyd in 1999. 

The state spent $2.8 million on the project, coming in about $400,000 under budget.  The Kinston Chamber of Commerce $100,000 and Neuse Foundation $750,000.

Saving the Neuse.  Thanks.  --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Some Coastal Action Along Florida's "Forgotten Coast"

We're on our way back from South Florida where we were at the Orange Bowl on New Year's Day.  Sadly, our school, NIU, was beaten by Florida State, but that is another story.

We spent Saturday and Sunday nights on St. George Island, Florida, near Apalachicola.  Before this trip, we'd never heard of the place, but now it definitely is on the short list of places to return to in the future.  It was the Florida before the high rises.

Anyway, the island's pride and joy is the 1852 lighthouse that has been moved to its current site and rebuilt by the locals.  During the war, Confederates removed the Fresnel lens and hid it inland.  The museum also has a Union cannonball that was dug up on the island, fired by a Union ship in the East Coast Blockading Squadron.

Not So Forgotten To Us, Now.  --Old B-Runner

Friday, January 4, 2013

The CSS Neuse Gets a New Home

From the Dec. 31, 2012, Raleigh (NC) News & Observer "Confederate Navy gunboat gets new home in Kinston" by Kelly Poe.

This past year, the hull of the CSS Neuse, a Confederate ironclad, was moved from an outdoor, flood-prone park near its namesake river to a new climate-controlled museum on Queen Street in Kinston.  It is hoped that this move (besides the ship's preservation) will help return Kinston's downtown to its former glory days as a shopping entertainment spot, back when Queen Street was dubbed "The Magic Mile."

Museum site manager Sarah Ristey-Davis says the interior and exhibits at the state-run museum are scheduled to be finished in the fall, but they plan to have some temporary exhibits open by February.  The hull of the ship rests under a pipe re-creation of what the ship looked like back during the Civil War.  Plus, nearby, there is a full-size replica of the warship, the only one of a Confederate ironclad in the country.  It is too bad the Navy didn't preserve one of the captured Confederate ironclads like the CSS Tennessee or CSS Albemarle after the war.  But, they didn't preserve any of the Union ships either.

More to Come.  --Old B-Runner

Thursday, January 3, 2013

CSS Neuse Gets New Home and 148th Fort Fisher Anniversary

Two stories I have been following in the last several days are out of North Carolina.

One is the Confederate ironclad CSS Neuse being in its new inside facilities in Kinston, which will help slow the deterioration that has occurred since it was pulled from the Neuse River in the 1960s.  Until this past summer, it had been displayed in an open-sided shed near the river and prone to flooding.

Plus, every year, there are activities around Fort Fisher, near Wilmington, commemorating the January 15, 1865, fall of the fort to Union forces.  There will be again for the 148th anniversary.

I definitely plan to be there for the 150th.

Old B-Runner