Fort Fisher

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

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Confederate Naval Officer Isaac Newton Brown

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

Isaac Newton Brown, a career U.S. Navy sailor and later a Confederate naval officer, is buried at Corsicana's Oakwood Cemetery.

On Saturday, July 14th, the Sons of Confederate veterans, Order of Confederate Grays and United Daughters of the Confederacy gathered to honor his memory and the and 150th anniversary of his victorious fight with the Union Navy at Vicksburg.

Union Admiral Farragut almost took Vicksburg a year before General Grant did.  Lieutenant Brown commanded the powerful ironclad CSS Arkansas.  Earlier, he had been od\rdered to finish the ship on the banks of the Yazoo River.

Still unfinished, on July 15, 1862, Lt. Brown took a makeshift crew and no trial run, to the Mississippi River and fought off 30 Union ships to get through to Vicksburg.  Farragut's inability to defeat the Arkansas caused him to withdraw July 24th.

As a result, Brown was promoted to commander and later received the Confederate Medal of Honor.  Later, he commanded the ironclad CSS Charleston.

After the war, Isaac Brown came to Corsicana when his stepson moved there.  He remained in town until his death September 1, 1889.

A Confederate Hero.  --Old B-Runner

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

USS Kingfisher Destroyed Salt Works at St. Joseph, FL.--Part 2

Continued from Feb. 22nd.  This is a follow up to the Feb. 20th entry on the salt works.

On September 8, 1862, the Kingfisher bombarded and boat crews landed to destroy the Confederate salt works at St. Joseph, Florida.

After that, scurvy became a problem on board and the ship was ordered to Boston for repairs and to get the crew better.  After that, it was stationed with the South Atlantic Blockading Fleet and a station off St. Helena Sound, South Carolina, where the ship was commended for its reconnaissance work and land operations.

It grounded on Combahee Bank in St. Helena Sound March 28, 1864.  All efforts to get it off failed and the ship was abandoned April 5th.

Quite the Busy Ship.  --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Fort Fisher UDC Celebrates 60th Anniversary

From the Feb. 13, 2013, Island Gazette.

Fort Fisher #2325 Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) recently celebrated their 60th anniversary with a tea and history presentation by 1st VP Garle Tabor.

Among other things the group does, they also decorate the Christmas tree at the Fort Fisher site and have a coffee and hot chocolate table at the annual re-enactment at the fort, something really needed sometimes as it can be cold at the beach in January.

Their February meeting luncheon was at Jack Mackeral's in Kure Beach.

Congratulations, Ladies!  --Old B-R'er

Landscaping at Fort Fisher

From the Feb. 20, 2013 WECT Wilmington, NC.

Si Lawrence, media specialist at Fort Fisher said that a grant from the Cape Fear Garden Club and volunteers from the U.S. Navy Riverines from Camp Lejeune purchased and planted new trees along the Walk of Honor by the museum where the public can buy pavers of different sizes to honor ancestors.

Sprucing Up the Old Fort.  --Old B-Runner

Monday, February 25, 2013

The Sneaky Capture of U.S. Norfolk Gosport Navy Yard

This was largely through the effort of Walter Gwynn (1802-1882)

West Point Class of 1822 and engineer (always where top graduates were placed).  From 1833 to the Civil War was involved in railroads and considered the founder of the southeast railroad network.

Retired from that in 1857 and moved to South Carolina.  Once the war came, he helped plan the attack on Fort Sumter and was charged with building various Confederate batteries around Sumter.

On April 10, 1861, he accepted command of the Virginia militia as a major general and directed to assume command of defenses around Norfolk and Portsmouth until mid-May.  He worked with William Mahone, president of the Norfolk and Petersburg Railroad.

With Gwynn's authority, Mahone bluffed the federals out of Gosport Navy Yard in Portsmouth.  he ran a single passenger train into Norfolk with great noise and whistle blowing.  He'd then more quietly send it back, then returned loudly again. creating the illusion of lots of soldiers arriving to attack the navy yard.

The Union forces quickly abandoned the Navy Yard. leaving much of the destruction incomplete.  Later in 1861, Gwynn oversaw the construction of fortifications at Sewell's Point.

Quite an Imaginative Guy.  --Old B-Runner

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Naval Happenings 150 Years Ago: February 24 to 27, 1863- USS Indianola Surrenders


 CSS Webb, Beatty and Queen of the West engaged USS Indianola, below Warrenton, Mississippi.  The Queen of the West opened action by ramming the coal barge tied up to the Indianola, sank it, but little damage to Indianola.  The Webb rammed the Indianola twice which then was sinking and surrendered.  This ended Porter's efforts to blockade the Red River with detached ships from his fleet above Vicksburg.

A Confederate deserter gave Union details on submarine experiments underway in Mobile.  One was designed by a Frenchman, but sank near Fort Morgan


The light draft gunboat expedition entered Yazoo Pass

Confederates were working hard to raise the Indianola.  Efforts failed and the ship was destroyed.  A huge Union gunboat was reported passing Vicksburg and they feared it would take the Indianola.  It was actually a barge made to look like an ironclad.

The USS Vanderbilt seized the blockade-runner Peterhoff off St. Thomascausing an international incident over royal mail being carried aboard it.  Lincoln returned it, but kept the ship which later became a Union blockader before sinking near Fort Fisher.


The CSS Alabama bonded the ship Washington in the mid-Atlantic.

Old B-Runner

Friday, February 22, 2013

Ya Think?

Ya think we could have broken the Union blockade with a ship like the one pictured above?  (The new Zumwalt destroyers)  Well, that and the USS North Carolina battleship now docked in Wilmington, NC?

A 16-incher would have certainly done n one of those pesky monitors.  Plus, rockets!!

Just Thinking.  --Old B-Runner

The USS Kingfisher Destroyed the Salt Works at Cape San Blas, Florida-- Part 1

Continuing with the Civil War connection of Cape San Blas on Florida's Forgotten Coast along the eastern panhandle.

The ship whose guns and crew destroyed the Confederate salt works was the USS Kingfisher.  Wiki here I come.

The ship was acquired by the Navy at Boston and commissioned Oct. 3, 1861 withActing Lt. Joseph P. Couthouy commanding.  Ordered to Key West, it joined the Gulf Blockading Squadron.  The 121-foot, 451 ton ship mounted four 8-inch Dahlgren smoothbore cannons and was manned by a crew of 97.

On Jan. 21, 1862, it captured a blockade-runner with the USS Ethan Allen.  A small boat expedition from the Kingfisher up Florida's Manatee River captured a ship and burned Confederate cavalry barracks.  Later, two other runners were captured.

On June 2, 1862, two boats went up the Aucilla River in Florida looking for freshwater was attacked by Confederates with the loss of two and nine captured.

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

The USS Hatteras in 3D

From the Jan. 21, 2013 Red Orbit "High -Resolution 3D Sonic Images Taken of US Navy Ship USS Hatteras" by Scott LeBloud.

The Hatteras was the only Union ship sunk in the Gulf of Mexico during the war after its unfortunate meeting with the CSS Alabama, the only warship that ship sank.  The new sonar images show a gaping hole in the hull.

The 210-foot, iron-hulled ship is located 20 miles off Galveston in 57 feet of water.  Hurricanes and storms over the last year have scoured sand off the wreck.

The ship is still property of the US Navy and listed on the NRHP.

I looked at the images and think I could make out the paddlewheels, but little more than that.

Finding and Looking at the Past.  --Old B-Runner

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Cape San Blas Lighthouse During the Civil War

From the Lighthouse Friends Site.

Like I said last night, I have been doing entries on Florida's Forgotten Coast along the eastern part of the state's panhandle.  Yesterday, I wrote about a Confederate saltworks destroyed by the USS Kingfisher.

There was also a lighthouse on the cape.  It was the third one on the site.  I'll be writing about the other three on my Roadlog Blog, as well as the Civil War one.

In 1857, Congress allotted $20,000 for a third brick lighthouse on Cape San Blas to replace the one destroyed by a hurricane in 1855.  It was first lit in 1858.  During the Civil War, the Confederate lighthouse supervisor had the lens removed before the Union forces were able to capture it.

It was always a distinct possibility that a Union gunboat would show up and capture it.  Later, the lighthouse keeper's house and wooden portion of the lighthouse were burned.  The light was out for the duration.  It returned to operation July 23, 1865 after repairs were made and a new lens installed.

By 1869, the beach in front of it had been washed away with water at the base which, in 1882,  the tower toppled into the sea.

They Did Not Leave the Light On.  --Old B-Runner

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The St. Joseph Confederate Saltworks

From HMDB.

In my RoadDog's Roadlog Blog, I have been writing about taking a trip along Florida's Forgotten Coast between Port St.Joe and Apalachicola.  There is a place where you can stay called the Salt Works Cabins.  It gets its name from the old Confederate saltworks once located there until they were destroyed.

There is a historical marker located close by as recorded by the Historical Marker Database.

"A major Confederate saltworks with daily capacity of 150 bushels, before completion, was located 200 feet north.  Brick foundations were salvaged from the old city of St. Joseph.  Salt produced by evaporation of seawater was one of Florida's two chief contributions to the Confederacy (the other I believe to be cattle).

These saltworks destroyed September8, 1862, by the USS Kingfisher by bombardment and landing party action.  Destruction of Confederate saltworks was a comparable blow "to the Southern cause as the fall of Charleston."

Erected 1964.

US Naval actions against saltworks along the coasts continued throughout the war.

Naval Happenings 150 Years Ago: February 21st to 23rd,1863


Lt. Cmdr. Smith reports on his expedition's readiness to enter Yazoo Pass and says he is ready to go.

The CSS Alabama captured and burned the Golden Eagle and Olive Jane at sea.


USS Dacotah and USS Monticello, chasing a blockade-runner near Fort Caswell exchanged fire with the fort.  The steamer got away.

Old B-R'er

The Civil War in Real Time, February 19, 1863-- Part 2: Odds Favor the Runners

Continuing with Admiral Du Pont's report on his blockade of the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron.

"If I had not induced the Department to establish a floating machine shop, which i had seen the French have in China, the blockade would have been a total failure....Steam however is the new element in the history of blockades, which no one at first understands, as both sides have it-- but it is all in the favor of the runner--  he chooses his time, makes his bound and rushes through, his only danger a chance shot--  while the watcher has banked fires, has chains to slip, as guns to point and requires certainly fifteen minutes to get under full way on his ship.

It is wonderful how many we catch, how many are wrecked, there is another on the beach now with the sea breaking over her...."

The admiral surely wasn't above taking credit, was he?

Old B-Runner

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Civil War in Real Time: February 19, 1863-- Part 1


Rear Admiral Du Pont wrote of the blockade:  "No vessel has ever attempted to run the blockade except by stealth of night-- which fully established internationally the effectiveness of the blockade--  but it is not sufficient for our purpose, to keep out arms and keep in cotton--  unfortunately our people have considered a total exclusion possible and the government at one time seemed to think so.

A cordon of ships covering the arc from Bulls Bay to Stono [River], some twenty-one miles moored together head to stern--  would do it easy-- but that we have not the means to accomplish.  I have forty ships of all classes, sometimes more-- never reaching fifty--  a considerable number are incapable of keeping at sea or at outside anchorage--  the wear and tear and ceaseless breaking of American machinery compared with English or even French now, keep a portion of the above always here [Port Royal] repairing."

More to Come.

Looks Like Du Pont is Making Excuses.  --Old B-Runner

Monday, February 18, 2013

Naval Happenings of 150 Years Ago: February 18th to 19th,1863


The USS Victoria, captured the brig Minna near Shallotte Inlet, NC, with cargo of salt and drugs.  One of the original drug runners?


The Confederate Navy Department decides to mount an expedition to destroy the Union monitors at Charleston.  Sec. Navy Mallory suggests to Lt. William A. Webb, CSN:

FIRST, row-boats and barges to board the monitors.

SECOND, small steamers, two or three to attack each ship

THIRD,  the hull of a single-decked ship to be protected by compressed cotton, to be used to board the monitors.

Old B-Runner

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Hopefield, Arkansas and the SS Sultana Disaster

From the Memphis Travel Site.

On April 26, 1865, the SS Sultana left Memphis with 2300, mostly recently released Union POWs (many from Andersonville) heading for points northward.  It took on a load of coal at Hopefield, left, and then had a boiler explosion, causing what is considered to be the worst maritime disaster in US history.

Old B-R'er

The Tug Hercules at Memphis and Burning of Hopefield, Arkansas

In my last Naval Happenings 150 Years Ago, I wrote that on February 17, 1863, Confederates captured the US tug Hercules near Memphis, Tennessee. 

I haven't been able to find out much about that boat, but, the Memphis Travel Site has a tour of Civil War sites and the followup to the capture was mentioned.  It said that on Feb. 17, 1863, a group of Confederate guerrillas attacked the USS Hercules.  When Union forces in Memphis heard about this, their commander ordered retaliation.

A detachment was sent to Hopefield, Arkansas and all townspeople were ordered to leave the town, whereupon it was burned to the ground.

Before the war, Hopefield had been a site for rail shops and then converted to a Confederate armory.

Major General Stephen Hurlburt ordered the town's burning which took place February 19, 1863.

The town was evidently rebuilt and completely washed away in the Flood of 1912.

Talk About Mean Tempered.  --Old B-Runner

Annapolis' Fort Madison

The last two days I have been writing about Fort Madison in Annapolis, Maryland in my War of 1812 Blog "Not So Forgotten."

This fort was built before the War of 1812 on the grounds of what became the US Naval Academy.  It existed at the time of the Civil War, but has since been completely leveled for a firing range.

The one Civil War connection I found was that the New York Times reported on May 1, 1861, that some members of the 6th New York Infantry had reported seeing some armed men around Fort Madison.  Two armed vessels were positioned in the Severn River by it and 200 men sent to the hills behind the fort.

This was during the period there was fear that the state of Maryland would join the Confederacy, thus cutting Washington, DC, off from the rest of the Union.

Old B-R'er

Some More on the H.L. Hunley

From the USA Today.

Remnants of the 2-foot-long torpedo housing were found on the Hunley's 16-foot spar.  The torpedo held 136 pounds of gunpowder.

The torpedo did not separate from the spar and was fired by command, not contact.

Getting to the Bottom of It All.  --Old B-Runner

Friday, February 15, 2013

New Evidence in the Hunley's Sinking-- Part 3

Continued from Jan. 30th.

And, I had always figured that the explosion had gone off with the Hunley very close by as I thought the torpedo would be triggered by strong contact.  I did not thing about the repercussion of such an explosion.

The final call as to what happened to the Hunley will be when the encrustation is removed from the outer hull, an effort that will begin later this year.

The spar to which the torpedo was attached has long been on display at the Clemson University Warren Lasch Conservation Lab where the Hunley is being conserved.  Work on it did not begin until last fall.  Scientist x-rayed it early on and found the denser material that proved to be the copper sleeve, but it was believed to be a device to release the torpedo itself, not to hold it in place.

Finding evidence of the attack torpedo is "not only extremely unexpected, it's extremely critical."  It is now known for sure that the torpedo exploded at the end of the spar, with the Hunley just 17 feet away.

Is This the Reason, Then?  --Old B-Runner

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Civil War in Real Time: A Blockade-Runner Gets Into Wilmington

From the Civil War Naval Chronology.

Efforts to maintain the blockade continually improved, but blockade-runners, stirred by patriotism and especially lured by profit, continued to elude Union warships.

Captain Sands of the USS Dacotah, off the Cape Fear River, North Carolina, reported a typical example:

"I had a picket boat from this vessel inside the bar, and one from the Monticello was anchored at the bar in 13-feet of water.  The latter saw nothing of the blockade runner [Giraffe], but my picket boat, in charge of Acting Master W[illiam] Earle, saw her pass between him and the shore, and came near being run over by her soon after discovering her.

The boat was anchored in 12-feet of water on the western side of the channel, with the fort [Fort Fisher] bearing N.N.E., and the steamer passed between her and the beach, evidently having tacked the beach along, where, under cover of the dark land, she could not be seen a quarter of a mile off in the obscurity of the hour before daylight....

The Chocura was stationed at the Western Bar, the Monticello farther west, near the shore, and the Dacotah guarding the approaches to the bar.  Yet neither vessel, with all their accustomed watchfulness, saw anything of the blockade runner, and it is with much chagrin that I am obliged thus to report a rebel success."

Sneaky B_Rs.  --Old B-Runner

Union Flag-Officer Garrett J. Pendergrast, USN-- Part 1

From Wikipedia.

Born Dec. 5, 1812, Died Nov. 7, 1862.  Became a midshipman in US Navy in 1812 (age ten) and fought in the War of 1812.  Uncle of Austin Pendergrast, who took command of the USS Congress after it sank in the battle with the CSS Virginia and later commanded the USS Water Witch when it was captured by the Confederates.  I wrote a lot about the Water Witch in my Saw the Elephant Civil War blog.

Garret Pendergrast commanded the USS Boston during the Mexican War and was commanding officer at the commissioning of the USS Merrimack Feb. 20, 1856.  The Merrimack later became the Confederate ironclad CSS Virginia.

At the onset of the war, Pendergrast commanded the USS Cumberland (later attacked by the Virginia in 1862.  Kind of an interconnected story.

Starting April 24, 1861, the Cumberland and a support ship began seizing Confederate ships and privateers of Fort Monroe in the Chesapeake Bay and in short time had captured 16 ships.

I Had Never Heard of Him.  --Old B-R'er

Naval Happening 150 Years Ago: February 13th to 17th,1863-- Capture of USS Queen of the West


Commander James H. North, CSN, wrote Mallory from Glasgow that he didn't believe Great Britain would ever recognize the Confederacy.  "If they will let us get our ships out when they are ready, we shall feel ourselves most fortunate. It is now almost impossible to make the slightest move or do the smallest thing, that the Lincoln spies do not know of it."

The USS Queen of the West, patrolling the Red River captured a steamer with corn, then came under fire of Confederate shore batteries and Col. C Ellet forced to abandon the ship, a valuable capture for the Confederates.


Lincoln is greatly interested in the naval assault on Charleston and reviewed plans of the attack with Asst. Sec. Navy Fox.


Porter wrote Welles that he believed Confederate forces at Port Hudson, the only other strong point the Confederates had on the Mississippi besides Vicksburg, that they are short in provisions and would quickly surrender if General Banks' Army pushed them.

Confederate troops captured U.S. tug Hercules opposite Memphis.  Then attempted to capture several coal barges but were driven off by gunfire from gunboats at the wharves.

Old B-Runner

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Civil War in Live Time: Wilmington's Getting Stronger

From the Civil War Naval Chronology.

Usually this would be in Naval Happenings 150 Years Ago, but since this was rather lengthy and about my big-time area of interest, I'm doing it here.

FEBRUARY 13, 1863

Commander A. Ludlow Case, USS Iroquois, reported the steady strengthening of Confederate positions in the Wilmington area.  Noting that they were "working lie beavers," Case wrote: "From their apparent great energy I am induced  to believe that in the event of our capture of Charleston this is to be the point for the blockade runners....  They now have four casemated batteries west of Fort Fisher completed and a fifth nearly so, each mounting two or three guns, built of heavy framework, and covered deeply with sand and sodded....

The defenses are much more formidable and much more judiciously arranged, on account of detached batteries, than those at the South Bar, Fort Caswell, etc....  If a vessel now gets inside of the blockaders she can soon run under cover of the batteries and anchor until the tide serves for crossing the bar.

A few months ago this would have been impossible, the defenses at the time being such as to make immediate crossing of the bar absolutely necessary."

Wilmington did become a major port for blockade-runners in the remaining two years of the war.

How Strong They Get If You Give Them Time.  --Old B-R'er

USS Mercedita-- Part 2

And, I bet you never heard of this ship.  I know a lot about the Civil War naval history, but hadn't heard of this ship.

Ot captured the blockade-runner Bermuda on April 27 and two schooners on July 12, 1862.

In September, the ship was transferred to the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron and stationed off Charleston.  On January 31, 1863, it was attacked by the Confederate ironclads Chicora and Palmetto State who were trying to recapture the blockade-runner Princess Royal which had two powerful and much-needed steam engines intended for Confederate ironclads.  (Lack of power was always a problem in these rams.)

The rams encountered the Mercedita and rammed the ship causing it to start sinking and the ship surrendered and paroles from the crew accepted.  At that, the two ironclads sped away to attack other Union ships.

Temporary repairs were made on the Mercedita and the ship went to Port Royal, South Carolina for temporary repairs and then to the Philadelphia Navy Yard to complete them.

I did not read whether the crew honored their paroles or went immediately back into Navy service.

The ship was then attached to the West Indies Squadron to escort California steamers and then , later in the spring, joined the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron and in March to the West Gulf Blockading Squadron.  It was decommissioned October 1865 and sold at auction and became a merchant ship.

Quite a Varied Service for This Ship.  --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

USS Mercedita-- Part 1

Good Ol' Wiki.

Back on Jan 31st, I wrote about the two Confederate ironclads, the Palmetto State and Chicora attacking the Union blockading fleet off Charleston, SC.  One f the ships I mentioned was the USS Mercidita.

The USS Mercidita was a wooden steamer built in Brooklyn, NY, in 1861, purchased by the US Navy July 1, 1861, and commissioned Dec.1861.

It was 1000 tons, 183.6 feet long and mounted eight 32-pdr. guns.

It was assigned to the Gulf Blockade Squadron on January 1862 and chased two blockade-runners ashore on Jan. 4th.  In March, it took up position off Apalachicola, Florida,  and destroyed Confederate batteries at St. Vincent Island which was four barrier islands.  Later, it captured St. George Island and Dog Island.  We stayed on St. George Island back in January.

More to Come.  --Old B-R'er

Naval Happenings 150 Years Ago: February 12th to 13th, 1863


Adm. Farragut still in the Lower Mississippi River.  He is continually called on to send his ships here and there in the west.

Lincoln conferring with Welles about attack on Charleston and discussed ammunition to be used by the ironclads against that port.

CSS Florida, Lt. Maffitt (see today's World War II Blog), seized ship Jacob Bell and burned it.

USS Conestoga , under Lt. Cmdr. Selfridge, seized steamers Rose Hambleton and Evansville off White River, Arkansas.  At least he didn't sink his ship.


The USS Indianola ran past the Vicksburg batteries to join the USS Queen of the West blockading the Red River.

There was a Wilmington report, but I will give that real-time tomorrow.

Old B-Runner

Monday, February 11, 2013

Operating Along the Coast in 1862-- Part 3: The Death of the Colonel

JUNE 18, 1862

Howard noted the death of his regiment's (the 48th New York) leader, Colonel James H. Perry, who died the next day after "The Party."

"Perhaps the events of yesterday has something to do with the death of our Col. James H. Perry who died suddenly in his quarters, 3 PM, of disease of the heart.  Sick only a few minutes."

Perry recruited the 48th and was a tee-totalling Methodist minister from Brooklyn and discouraged his men from drinking.  His unit became known as "Perry's Saints" or the "Methodist Regiment."

At the Battle of Fort Wagner the next year, the 48th had more casualties than the much-better known 54th Massachusetts (movie "Glory") with 54 killed, 76 missing, including William B. Howard.  For the war, the 48th ranked 17th in units as far as members killed in battle.

Howard had been captured and was later paroled, released and then discharged from the Union Army April 15, 1864, due to disability.

The Death of the Colonel.  --Old B-R'er

Operating Along the Coast in 1862-- Part 2: Drinking On the Job

From the diary of Corporal William B. Howard, Co. F, 48th NY Infantry.

JUNE 17, 1862

"A terrible storm raging.  The schooner lies on her side on the bar off Cockspur Island.  The crew is signalizenig from the wreck.  A boat put off in the storm and rescued them from a watery grave.

It proved to be a sutler's schooner loaded with stores.  Claret wine, Champagn and lager beer floated ashore in abundance.  Such a time cannot be described.  Guard house and dungeons full."

Well, after all, they did save their lives.  It was the least they could do to pay them back.  But I imagine the sutler was quite a bit beside himself. 

What a Fortuitous Turn of Events.  I Doubt There Was Much Left of the Alcoholic Part of the Sutler's Stores.  --Old B-Runner

Operating Along the Coast in 1862-- Part 1

From the April 4, 2012, Dvids "Civil War diary is the latest museum acquisition."

The 85-page diary of Cpl. William B. Howard, of Company F, 48th New York Volunteer Infantry has been donated to the New York State Military Museum in Sarasota Springs.

It was donated by Jim Livingston and Sherry Penny, who obtained it 30-40 years ago.  It begins the day after his enlistment, September 16, 1861, and ends July 6, 1863, twelve days before he was wounded and captured at the failed attack on Charleston's Fort Wagner.

The museum holds one of the largest Civil War collections in the United States about campaigns in North and South Carolina in 1861 and 1862.

Some Selections from the Diary Next.  --Old B-R'er

Foundry Helps Explore Mystery of H.L. Hunley

From the September 5, 2011, Clarksville (Tn) Leaf Chronicle.

Clarksville Foundry, dating back to the 1850s, is participating in the National Georgraphic Channel's project to explore the sinking of the Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley.

The foundry analyzed a piece of iron from the sub to determine its chemical elements, then created a mold and cast a reproduction of a portion of the cunning tower in the channel's 2-hour special "Secret Weapons of the Confederacy" which premiered September 15th.

The Clarksville Foundry is one of America's oldest and one of Tennessee's oldest manufacturing companies., organized in 1847 by H.P. Dorris, produced munitions for the Confederacy.  For the past 100 years it has been operated by the Foust family.

They have recently cast an 1847 six-pounder reproduction cannon from period drawings and presented it as a gift to the Fort Defiance Civil War Park in Clarksville.

An Old Company Working With the Past.  --Old B-Runner

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Not Much Info on the Ella Wharley and USS Dick Fulton


Thursday, I posted about the wreck of the ship Ella Wharley being found off the coast of New Jersey.  I looked it up and wasn't able to find out much other than it had been a blockade runner that was captured April 25, 1862, by the USS Santiago de Cuba, Comander Ridsley, 120 miles off Port Royal.  Evidently it was sold to a civilian interest.


Wikipedia.  Also called the Dick Fulton, a 123 ton stern wheel steamer used as an auxiliary ship in the U.S. Ram Fleet.  It later served in the Ram Fleet's successor, the Mississippi Marine Brigade, something I know nothing about so will have to research that.

It was acquired in 1862 and out of service in 1865 when it was sold to civilian interests.  Evidently, the ship did not surrender and was repaired.

Didn't Know That.  --Old B-R'er

Naval Happenings 150 Years Ago: February 9th to 11th,1863-- Getting Supplies a Blockade Problem


Admiral Du Pont wrote Welles about logistical problems on the blockade.  They have run out of oil for machinery and getting coal is always a problem.  The supply ship Union arrived and had supplies, but buried under other cargo and the captain wanted to give it to Du Pont on his return from the gulf, but Du Pont forced him to give him what he had.

Also, the Union was supposed to be carrying rations such as: sugar, coffee, flour, butter, beans, dried fruit and clothing, but didn't have any.


Confederate troops disabled the ram Dick Fulton at Cypress Bend, Arkansas, by gunfire.


Admiral Porter also concerned with supply problems.  Coal also is a problem.

Old B-Runner

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Sunken Treasure Off New Jersey Coast?

From the Jan. 22, 2013, Star-Ledger "Sunken treasure off N.J.'s coast?  Florida diver lays claim to shipwreck site" by Stephen Stirling.

A previously undiscovered Civil War-era shipwreck has been found off Asbury Park.

Allan Gardner, of Florida, is salvaging the Ella Wharley which sank 150 years ago, February 9, 1863 while steaming south.  It had just recently been a blockade-runner and was heading for New Orleans with thirty passengers and cargo.

It collided with the SS North Star and sank in just twenty minutes.  Its cargo was valued at $175,000 and there was at least $8,000 in gold coins in its safe.

So, Will Mr. Gardner Become a Rich Man?  --Old B-Runner

USS Monitor Monument Vandalized

From the Jan. 7, 2013, New York News & Features "Brooklyn Civil War Statue Drenched in Paint" by Joe Coscarelli.

The USS Monitor monument was vandalized just a few days before the ceremony to mark the 150th anniversary of the famous ship's sinking, which occurred December 1862..

The monument was built in 1938. and depicts a man working on the Monitor.  It was painted all over in white paint and had the initials J.J. at the base.  A lot of vandalism has been going on at the McGlolrick Park.

The monument is there because this is the area of Brooklyn where the Monitor was built.

Not Nice At All.  --Old B-R'er

Naval Happenings 150 Years Ago: February 7th, 1863


Rear Admiral Porter says that due to the plunging fire from Confederate batteries at Vicksburg, and Union warship inability to elevate high enough to hit them, it would be impossible to take the city without the Army being in the rear of the city.

A daring plan was proposed to Confederate Secretary of the Navy Mallory for a raid on the Great Lakes.  Lt. William H. Murdaugh, CSN, proposed leading four naval officers to Canada, purchasing a small steamer, man her with Canadians and arm it with torpedoes, explosives and incendiary materials.

At Erie, Pennsylvania, he planned to board and capture the USS Michigan (the only US Navy ship on the Great Lakes).  After that, he would use that ship to destroy shipping and attack Chicago, then Milwaukee and points north.

The plan was approved by the Navy Department, but shot down by Jefferson Davis because it would violate neutrality and England might stop building ironclads for the Confederacy and take other measures.

Commander Ebenezer Farrand, CSN, reported to Alabama governor John G. Shorter of the successful launching of ironclads CSS Tuscaloosa and Huntsville at Selma.  Both warships were taken to Mobile.

Old B-Runner

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Back to the Future: New US Destroyers Look Like Old Confederate Ironclads

From the December 27, 2012, San Diego Union-Times "Back to the future warships take shape" by Gary Robbins.

The 900-ton deck house of the first Zumwalt-class destroyer was delivered to Maine's Bath Iron Works by barge after being built in Mississippi.

The first ship of the class will be homeported in San Diego.

Looking at the deck house and what the ship will finally look like, one can not miss the resemblance to Confederate Civil War ironclads like the CSS Virginia which fought the USS Monitor in 1862.  Bath Iron Works are building three of the ships: the Zumwalt, Michael Monsoor and Lyndon B. Johnson.

The ships are 610-feet long, 105 feet longer than the current Burke-class destroyers.

When completed, the Zumwalt will be the largest destroyer ever built and the first to be powered by an entirely electric drive system.  Burke-class ships are gas-powered and the old Confederate ironclads were steam-powered.

Deck houses are made separately and then placed on the deck.  Crews onthe ships will be from 130 to 150, less than half of the Burke-class.

Did I Say They really, Really Look Like Confederate Ironclads.  --Old B-Runner

Artifacts from the Maple Leaf Coming to the Dunedin Historical Museum

From the August 31, 2012 Tampa Bay (Fl) Times by Terri Bryce Reaves.

In 1864, the US transport Maple Leaf was carrying Union troops and equipment in the St. John's River to Jacksonville when it encountered a dozen torpedoes--  wooden kegs filled with 70 pounds of black powder.  It hit one and there was an explosion that killed four and sank the ship with thousands of artifacts that were not recovered.

A traveling exhibit is opening in Dunedin, Florida which gives a hint as to how large-scale looting carried on by Union soldiers of civilian property actually was.  They had plenty of items not of government issue.

The Maple Leaf was built in 1851 and originally was a Canadian pleasure excursion ship.

It was partially salvaged in 1984, but only about 5% of items because of difficulty in getting at it.  The ship sits in 20 feet of water under seven feet of mud.

The exhibit also includes a full-size reproduction of a torpedo (what we'd call a mine today) developed by the Confederate Torpedo Service.

Well, I see that if you wanted to see it, you are too late.  The exhibit ran through January 15th.  But, I'm sure it will be somewhere else in Florida.

Let's See, What Shall i Take.  --Old B-R'er

Mariners' Museum Honors USS Monitor Sailors-- Part 2

Continued from January 21, 2013, blog entry

As the Monitor sank, William Keeler, assistant paymaster took off layers of clothing to make it easier to swim.  He found a rope and slid down the deck when "a huge wave passed over me, tearing me from my footing and bearing me along with it, rolling, tumbling and tossing like the merest speck."

The ship sank at 1:30 AM, December 31, 1862.

The Navy stopped looking for the ship in the 1950s and allowed private divers to take up the cause.  In 1973, the ship was discovered upside-down, resting on the turret which had come off.  Since then, the propeller, engine and turret along with smaller artifacts have been recovered.

The rest of the ship would not have been able to have been saved and has been left to slowly deteriorate.

Glad They Found It.  --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

How a Spy Spurred the USS Monitor

From the January 4, 2013 Washington Post Opinion.

Mary Touvestre was a freed slave who worked as the housekeeper for a Confederate engineer turning the frigate USS Merrimack into the ironclad ram CSS Virginia.  She overheard her employer talking about it and realized the new ship's significance.

She proceeded to steal a set of the ship's plans and delivered them to the Department of the Navy in Washington, DC.  This prompted the North to begin work on their own ironclads, one of which was the USS Monitor.

Old B-R'er

Savannah's Fort Jackson

From the Sept. 18, 2011, Savannah Morning News "A Walk Through Savannah's Civil War: Fort Jackson" by Richard Burkhart.

In January 1861, after Georgia seceded, state troops took control of the 1808 Fort James Jackson, located a few miles below the city and on one of the deepest points along the Savannah River.

It was in bad shape.  The Irish Volunteers were among the first to occupy it.  From July to August, they prepared the fort "to train troops and prepare for an invasion."

In November of 1861, Robert E. Lee was assigned command of South Carolina, Georgia and East Florida.  He made his headquarters at Coosawhatchie, SC, but he later moved to Savannah.  He had been stationed there after graduating from West Point.

One of his first directives was to build a series of batteries to support Fort Jackson.  After the fall of Fort Pulaski in April 1862, Fort Jackson became the key to Savannah's defense and the headquarters of Confederate river defenses.

On October 1862, the commander of the Department of South Carolina and Georgia, General P.G.T. Beauregard called the fort "a very weak work."  Even so, the fort was held until Union General Sherman's army arrived in December 1864.

The 29th Ohio and 28th Pennsylvania entered the fort and raised the national colors.  The last wartime occupants of Fort Jackson was the 55th Massachusetts, a black regiment.

The Story of a Fort.  --Old B-R'er

The USS Monitor's Turret

From the Sept. 1, 2011, WDBJ 7 News  "Conservation of the USS Monitor's turret opens windows on Civil War history" by Joe Dashiel.

There are eight significant dents in the turret.  It would be interesting if they could find out which ones come from what battle, especially the one against the CSS Virginia.

The turret has been sitting in a tank of water with wires in it that send low-level electric currents through the water to break down corrosion and remove salts.  Every so often the tank is drained and then refilled again.

If this wasn't done, the turret would fall apart in a matter of years.  They were hoping to refill it this week, but Hurricane Ivan caused a power outage.  It should be submerged again by next week.

Old B-Runner

Monday, February 4, 2013

Naval Happenings 150 Years Ago: February 4th to 6th, 1863-- Seizing the Cotton


The USS Tyler, patrolling the Yazoo River, seized 113 bale of cotton.  This was keeping with Porter's directive to seize all Confederate cotton for the dual-purpose of preventing it from being run through the blockade and to protect the vessels of his Mississippi Squadron.  They were placed around the boilers of the wooden ships.


Rear Admiral Porter wrote that one problem with his ironclads was the absence of all means to make signals (meaning masts I suppose).  He wanted to use Army code (hand-held) and proposed having some of his officers trained in how to use it.


Porter appointed Lt. Cmdr. W. Smith to command the Yazoo Pass expedition.

Lt. Cmdr. Thomas O. Selfridge of the USS Conestoga, reported that reconnaissance showed the Confederates had no heavy guns in the river up to Little Rock and since the capture of Arkansas Post, people in that city feared Union gunboats would show up anytime.

The Confederate ram Pontchartrain didn't have steam yet and no guns either.  He wants an immediate attack on Little Rock before the ram can be finished.  (And he hadn't sunk the Conestoga yet.)

Old B-Runner

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Fort Massachusetts

From Wikipedia.

Located on West Ship Island, Mississippi.   Built from 1859 to 1861 and in use until 1903.

Confederates occupied it at first, then the Union.  At one time, during the Civil War, as many as 18,000 Union troops were stationed at it.  More than 230 died there and are buried.  Many of those were reburied at Chalmette National Cemetery in New Orleans.

During the war, the Union Navy used the island as a base for supplies and repairs.

The 1st Louisiana Native Guard, one of the first black regiments formed was stationed at the fort for about three years.

The fort was unfinished at the start of the war, but after Union occupation, it resumed.

It was never officially named, but usually called Fort Massachusetts. probably after the ship that I recently posted about.

Bricks for the fort came from Louisiana before the war, but after the outbreak they came from New England, then from Louisiana again after 1865.  Today you will notice the distinct color differences of the different bricks.

A Little-Known Fort.  --Old B-R'er

Naval Happenings 150 Years Ago: February 2nd to 3rd,1863


The ram USS Queen of the West, under Col. C.R. Ellett (an army commander?), attacked the CSS City of Vicksburg which was under the guns of Vicksburg.  The ramming attempt failed, but, using incendiary shot, managed to set the Confederate ship afire, but it was quickly put out.

Then, the Queen of the West was damaged and had to break off the fight.  The Queen of the West then did a lot of damage below Vicksburg.

The CSS Alabama experienced a fire on board, but it was quickly extinguished.

USS Mount Vernon drove the blockade-runner Industry aground off New Topsail Inlet, NC, and burned her.


The Army-Navy operation against Fort Pemberton at Greenwood < Mississippi began with the opening of the levee at Yazoo Pass

Union ships repulsed a Confederate attack at Fort Donelson.

CSS Alabama captured and burned the schooner Palmetto.

Old B-Runner

Friday, February 1, 2013

Naval Happenings 150 Years Ago: February 1st, 1863-- Fort McAllister Again


USS Montauk and other ships again tested Fort McAllister in Georgia.  The ironclad moved to within 600 yards of the fort and took 48 hits in a four-hour period.  The Confederates noted the monitor's fire was quite accurate as well.  The Montauk had two of the largest guns ever used, a 15 and 11-inch caliber.

Rear Admiral Porter reports seizure of a lot of cotton at Point Chicot on the Mississippi River and suggests that product should be a major target of Union forces and sold for Union use.

The USS Paissac reconnoitered the Wilmington River.

Keeping Up the Pressure.  --Old B-Runner