Fort Fisher

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

Friday, August 30, 2013

Steamer General Grant Arrives at Galena 150 Years Ago

From the August 21, 2013, Galena (Ill) Gazette. /// The Galena Gazette reported on August 29, 1863, that "The fine steamer General Grant arrived at our levee this afternoon. It is down from St. Paul and bound for St. Louis." /// According to Way's Packet Dictionary, the General G. was a sternwheeler built in Monongahela, Pennsylvania, in 1863. It would have gotten its name from the big western hero. /// It later made a trip to Vicksburg and brought back 250 bales of cotton to Louisville. It was the first steamboat arrival from Vicksburg since the war broke out. /// --Old B-Runner

Monday, August 26, 2013

Confederate Torpedo Boat Torch Attacks the USS New Ironsides-- Part 2

No doubt this attack in part came about because of the $100,000 bounty promised anyone sinking the ship by the blockade-running firm of John Fraser & Company. Being commanded by a pilot probably meant that the ship was not a Confederate Navy ship./// The Torch failed to respind to its helm correctly and the New Ironsides started to swing about her anchor slowly with the tide, resulting in the Torch cominh alongside the Union ship. Carlin could not start his engine and for some minutes carried on a conversation wit the Union officer of the deck, who finally became alarmed and opened fire. Let's see, an unidentified ship comes alongside your ship in the middle of the night and that does make you wonder? Seems to me to be grounds for a court martial./// However, the Union ship's guns could not be depressed enough and, fortunately for Carlin, the Torch's engine finally kicked on and he hurriedly left the scene and made his way back to Charleston. Two shots splashed into the water 20 feet from the Torch. And There Was Carlin Without His $100,000. --Old B-Runner

Confederate Torpedo Boat Torch Attacks the New Ironsides-- Part 1

AUGUST 21, 1863/// The Confederate torpedo boat Torch, a former blockade-runner, made a night attempt to sink the USS New Ironsides in a channel near Morris Island, SC. The small steamer, which was constructed from the hull of an unfinished gunboat, sailed low in the water, was painted gray and burned anthracite (smokeless) coal to avoid detection./// The Torch took on much water and her engines faulty during its approach to the New Ironsides. When but 40 yards away, the Torch's commander, pilot James Carlin pointed his ship at his target and cut his engines before the attack./// --Old B-R'er

150 Years Ago: August 19, 1863-- Attack On a Confederate Signal Station in Florida

AUGUST 19TH/// Boat expedition from the USS Norwich and USS E.B. Hale destroy a Confederate signal station near Jacksonville, Florida. The Norwich's commander wrote that he understood Confederates would be sending a lot of troops to protect the signal station in the future./// Having to defend so many points against Union attack, which could come anytime, anywhere with such complete control of the sea, tied down many troops that could have been used in land battles./// --Old B-Runner

Sunday, August 25, 2013

The CSS Oconee Founders in Heavy Seas

AUGUST 18TH/// The CSS Oconee foundered in heavy seas (same date as the Hebe being chased ashore during a gale in NC) near St. Catherine's Sound, Georgia after running the blockade out of Savannah the night before. She was carrying a cargo of cotton "on navy account." All hands were saved, but two days a later, a boat with 4 officers and 11 men was captured by the USS Madgie./// The Union commander of the Madgie stated that "it was probably her [Oconee's] intention to obtain iron on her return trip, in order to ironclad the new rams being built in Savannah."/// --Old B-Runner

Saturday, August 24, 2013

150 Years Ago: August 18, 1863-- Destruction of the Blockade-Runner Hebe


USS Niphon chased the steamer Hebe, carrying drugs, clothing, coffee and provisions, ashore north of Fort Fisher, guarding Wilmington, NC. The ship's crew abandoned it. The Niphon, because of a gale, decided to destroy it rather than attempt to get it off.

Three boat crews sent to board it, were captured by Confederates ashore when their boats were either stove in or capsized in the heavy seas.

The USS Shokokon, Lt. Cushing, assisted in the destruction of the Hebe. The ship was riddled with shot and, according to Rear Admiral Lee, "She was as thoroughly burned as the water in her would allow."

 --Old B-Runner

USS Crocus: Shortest Navy Career?

Wikipedia/// In the last post, I mentioned this ship sinking and had never heard of it before so you know what that means. I did not find out much about it for obvious reasons as it turned out. /// Commissioned 31 July 1863 and sank 17 August 1863, possibly one of the shortest U.S. Navy careers ever. A whole 17 days in the Union Navy. I'd sure never heard of it./// The ship cleared New York City August 14th and ran aground by Bodie Island (northern-most portion of the Outer Banks) on August 17th (as mentioned in the previous post) and was totally wrecked./// The ship was 79 feet long and mounted two cannons./// --Old B-R'er

150 Years Ago: August 17, 1863: Ironclad Attack on Charleston Renews

AUGUST 17TH///Seven ironclads and eight gunboats renew their attack on Charleston. The naval battery ashore on Morris Island contributed another 300 shells. Much fire was concentrated on Fort Sumter./// USS Crocus ran aground at night and was wrecked at Bodie's Island, North Carolina./// --Old B-Runner

C.P.Williams, Mortar Schooner

From Wikipedia./// In the last post, I mentioned the C.P. Williams intercepting some Confederate torpedoes on Aigust 17th intended for the USS Pawnee. /// The C.P. Williams was a 103 foot long mortar schooner manned by a crew of 35 and mounting one 13-inch mortar and two 32-pdrs. Acquired by the U.S. Navy in September 1861 and commissioned January 21, 1862, it was assigned to the Mississippi Mortar Flotilla and took part in the engagements at Forts Jackson and St. Philip below New Orleans and Vicksburg. It later blockaded Berwick Bay by the Atchafalaya River./// Then, it was transferred to the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron and took part in the bomnardments of Fort McAllister in Georgia and was at the torpedo attack on the USS Pawnee in the Stono River as reported in the last blog entry in August 1863./// It spent the rest of its time patrolling rivers and sounds, covering landing parties and engaging detachments of Confederate cavalry./// It was decommissioned June 27, 1865, and sold August 10th./// --Old B-R'er

150 Years Ago: August 16th, 1863:Pawnee Bounce, Porter Thinking Mobile

AUGUST 16TH:/// The USS Pawnee escaped undamaged when a floating Confederate torpedo (mine) exploded under her stern, destroying a launch, shortly after midnight at Stono Inlet, SC. Four hours later, another torpedo exploded within 30 yards of the ship. In all, four devices exploded close by and two others were picked up by the mortar schooner C.P. Williams. The Pawnee also captured a boat capable of holding ten torpedoes. I would guess the crew didn't get much sleep that night./// Rear Admiral Porter writes Asst. Secretary of Navy Fox, regarding an attack on Mobile. He said the only way to capture the city would be a "perfect combination of Army and Navy...." Farragut would end up leading the attack, however./// In my War of 1812 research, I came across Farragut being on the USS Essex under the command of his step father, David Porter, father of Civil War's David Dixon Porter, who wrote the letter to Fox./// ---Old B-Runner

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Hunley Arrives and a Bounty on Union Ships

AUGUST 15TH: The submarine Hunley arrives at Charleston after being transported over the rails from Mobile. The next day, General Jordan ordered that "every assistance be rendered in equipping the submarine with torpedoes noting that General Beauregard regarded the Hunley as the most formidable engine of war for the defense of Charleston at his disposition & accordingly is anxious to have it ready for service...."/// In addition, Jordan advised Mr. B.A. Whitney that a reward of $100,000 would be paid by John Fraser and Company (owners of blockade-runners) for the destruction of the USS New Ironsides and "a similar sum for the destruction of the wooden frigate Wabash, and the sum of fifty thousand for every Monitor sunk."/// Wonder Why John Fraser Would Want These Ships Destroyed? --Old B-R'er

CSS Tuscaloosa-- Part 2: Not So Successful and a Victim of Neutrality

On July 31. the Tuscaloosa captured its first and evidently only, American ship, the Santee and bonded it for $150,000. On August 8th, the ship was at Simons Bay, South Africa, before leaving on a 90-day cruise, putting into St. Catherine's, Brazil, on Nov. 19, 1863, for supplies, but was refused and told to leave.

The Tuscaloosa returned to Simons Bay on Dec. 26th and was seized the next day by the British government saying it had violated neutrality. It was ordered that the ship remain until its original owners claimed it.

Low and his men then left the ship which was not reclaimed until 1864. After the war it was turned over to the U.S. Navy.

They Can't All Be Alabamas or Floridas. --Old B-Runner

Timely Blockade Intelligence

AUGUST 14TH On this date Rear Admiral Bailey advised Lt. Cmdr McCauley of the USS Fort Henry "that the steamers Alabama and Nita sailed from Havana on the 12th, with a view of running the blockade, probably at Mobile, but possibly between Tampa Bay and St. Marks [Florida]; also that the steamers Montgomery (formerly Habanero), the Isabel, the Fannie, the Warrior, and the Little Lily were nearly ready to sail, with like intent....the Isabel, which sailed on the 7th, has undoubtedly gone either to Bayport, the Waccasassa, or the Suwanee River. You will therefore keep a sharp lookout for any of these vessels...."/// And that they did. Within a month, four of the seven were captured. Admiral Bailey was commander of the East Gulf Blockading Squadron at the time./// --Old B-R'er

150 Years Ago: August 13-14th, 1863-- Operation on the White River in Arkansas

AUGUST 13-14 Even though the Mississippi River was under Union control, there were still Confederates on the tributaries. A naval force under Lt. Bache (I wonder if he was related to the head of the Coast Survey A.D. Bache) consisting of the USS Lexington, Cricket and Marmora proceeded up the White River in Arkansas and at Des Arc destroyed a large warehouse and the telegraph line for a half mile./// They also captured two Confederate steamboats loaded with cotton and destroyed General Marmaduke's pontoon bridge./// It was not a huge operation, but one of many continual thrusts that kept the South always on the defense. It might not even have been reported in northern papers./// --Old B-Runner

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

CSS Tuscaloosa-- Part 1

From Wikipedia. Back on August 13th, I mentioned that the CSS Tuscaloosa had captured the Santee on July 31st, 1863. I'd never heard of this ship. The CSS Tuscaloosa was originally the bark Conrad and captured by the CSS Alabama on June 20, 1863 en route from Buenas Aires to New York with a cargo of wool and goat skins. Semmes found it fast and well-adapted for a cruiser and on June21, renamed the ship the Tuscaloosa. He placed two brass rifled 12-pounder cannons on board and Lt. J. Low and 15 men on it for a three-month cruise toward the Cape of Good Hope. More to Come. --Old B-R'er

150 Years Ago: August 12th, 1863-- Out West and the Flying Scud

AUGUST 12TH Rear Admiral Charles H. Bell, commanding the Pacific Squadron, ordered the USS Narrangansett to cruise regularly between San Francisco and Acapulco, Mexico, to protect Pacific mail steamers (fear of Confederate cruisers). If in a port with Southern sympathies, great vigil should be taken. USS Princess Royal seized the British schooner at Brazos, Texas. The Flying Scud was reported to have run the blockade and landed 65,000 pounds of powder, 7 tons of horseshoes, and thousands of dollars worth of medicine. Old B-Runner

Dahlgren Wants a Submarine and Describes What He's Up Against

AUGUST 11TH. Rear Admiral Dahlgren wrote that he'd like a submersible ship to sneak in and put explosives by Confederate water obstructions in Charleston Harbor. So, both opposing commanders wanted submarines. Later, he wrote Welles describibg Confederate defenses facing him. There was "a continuous line of works" extending from Fort Moultrie on the right to Fort Johnson on the left. Fort Ripley, supported by the CSS Chicora, Charleston and Palmetto State, and Castle Pinckney were to the right beyond Moultrie. A line of piles stretched between Forts Sumter and Moultrie, and anchored torpedoes were in the harbor as well. Old B-R'er

150 Years Ago: August 8-9th, 1863-- Good Day for the Sagamore, Farragut Feted

AUGUST 8TH USS Sagamore captured the British sloop Clara Louise off Indian River, Florida. Later the same day, it captured British schooners Southern Rights and Shot and Confederate schooner Ann off Gilbert's Bar. AUGUST 9TH: Rear Admiral Farragut arrived in New York and was treated as a hero. Two blockade-runners seized at the mouth of the Rio Grande River.

Naval Happenings 150 Years Ago: August 7th, 1863: Send Us the Hunley!!

AUGUST 7TH With Charleston under heavy Union attack, General Beauregard asked for "transportation of Whitney's submarine boat from Mobile here. It is much needed." He was referring to the H.L. Hunley. In the next six months, the ship and its valiant crews would usher in a new era of naval warfare. Secretary Mallory of the Confederate Navy sent Lt. Maffitt of the CSS Florida his appointment to the Confederate States Navy, effective April 29, 1863. Well, that was about time concerning all the success Maffitt and the commerce raider were having. The value of the commerce raiders was far greater than just the numbers of ships they captured. Their cruises kept large numbers of Union ships, money and manpower occupied in searching for them that otherwise could have been used along the coasts and rivers. Old B-Runner

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Naval Happenings 150 Years Ago: August 5-6th, 1863

AUGUST 5TH A detachment of Marines arrived to the Union fleet off Charleston. Admiral Dahlgren then cut the number of Marines on each ship to a minimum and organized a 500-man unit under Major Jacob Zeilin and placed them ashore on Morris Island with orders to be ready to move at a moment's notice./////// The CSS Alabama captures Sea Bride off Cape of Good Hope////// AUGUST 6TH CSS Florida captured and released on bond the Francis B. Cutting in the mid North Atlantic. --Old B-R'er

Porter Praises Work of Coast Survey

AUGUST 5, 1863, 150 years ago. REAR ADMIRAL PORTER priased the work of the U.S. Coast Survey men assigned to him in aletter to A.D. Bache, Superintendent of the Coast Survey. He especialy cited the quality of the charts made for him. Because of them "gunboats have steamed through where the keel of a canoe never passed, and have succeeded in reaching points in the enemy's country" where they never expected attack. The work of the Coast Survey during the war is another often overlooked aspect. Old B-Runner

Monday, August 19, 2013

Naval Happenings 150 Years Ago: August 5, 1863: A Different Kind of Naval Battle

AUGUST 5TH The CSS Juno captured a launch from the USS Wabash in Charleston Harbor, SC. The launch was part of a night patrol on guard duty. The launch had gone to investigate reports of a Confederate steamer coming out of the harbor. Acting Master Edward Haines reported: "Soon after getting underway I made out a steamer standing down the channel close to Morris Island." He opened fire on it with the launch's howitzer. The Juno was reconnoitering the harbor with a 65-pound torpedo attached to its bow in case it encountered a Union ship. Otherwise, it was unarmed as it had been trimmed down to be used as a blockade-runner, and her only other means of defense was to run the launch down. Engineer James H. Tomb reported: "We immediately headed for her, striking her about amidships, but not having much headway on the Juno, the launch swung around to port, just forward of the wheel...." The launch's men then tried to board the Juno, but were overwhelmed by superior numbers. Interesting items on the blockade. Launches from ships also doing blockade-running duty and patrols. Not Your Standard Battle. --Old B-Runner

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Naval Happenings 150 Years Ago: August 5, 1863: USS Commodore Barney and the Torpedo

AUGUST 5TH The USS Commodore Barney was severely damaged when a 1,000 pound Confederate electric torpedo exploded by it in the James River near Dutch Gap, Virginia. According to senior officer present Capt.Guert Ganesvoort, it produced a "lively concussion" and washed the decks with "the agitated water." He added that some twenty men were either swept overboard or jumped and two were still missing and presumed drowned. It was found out later that the Confederate on shore who triggered the mine had set it off a few seconds too soon. Had he waited until the Commodore Barnet was over the mine, it would have been destroyed. This took place during a joint Army-Navy reconnaissance on the James River and put a stop to further endeavor. The next day, Union ships, including the Barney, came under Confederate shore artillery fire and the Barney again disabled by a shot through the boiler.. Ther expedition returned downstream and came under fire again. The Barney received more than thirty hits. I'd Like a Transfer to a Safer Ship, Captain. --Old B-R'er

Naval Happenings 150 Years Ago: August 1st-4th, 1863: Operations at Charleston

Catching up. AUGUST 1ST Raer Admiral Farragut is preparing to leave New Orleans for the North and would turn control of the entire Mississippi River to Rear Admiral Porter. In Charleston, the Confederate steamer Chesterfield was landing troops and supplies at Cummings Point, Morris Island, when it was driven away by a Union gunboat. General Beauregard asked Flag Officer Tucker to provide an ironclad to cover future operations. AUGUST 2ND Porter writes Welles that trade and commerce in New Orleans was very low compared to what it was a year ago and he hopes it will pick up. AUGUST 3RD Boat crews from the CSS Chicora and Palmetto State and a Confederate Army detachment capture a Union picket station and unfinished battery at Vincent's Creek on Morris Island at night. This came about when Confederates learned that these sites were being used to signal General Gilmore's batteries to fire at the transports going to the relief of Fort Wagner. Old B-Runner

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Dahlgren Calls for a Calcium Light

From the July 31, 1863, Civil War Naval Chronology. Rear Admiral Dahlgren, at Charleston, SC, engaged in the capture of Fort Wagner on Morris Island, in a report to Navy secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles mentioned that one of the "many little things" which would assist him would be "the electric light which Professor Way exhibited here, and which Professor Henry (Smithsonian Institution) knows of; it would either illuminate at night, if needed, or would serve to signal...." As a man of science as well as an operational commander, the admiral was quick to seek the advantages offered by new developments (although as early as June 1861, General Butler had such a light tested near Fortress Monroe, Virginia). The calcium light was brought down and enormously assisted in the capture of Fort Wagner by slowing down and halting Confederate repairs to the fort which previously had been made during the cover of the night. Old B-R'er

Naval Happenings 150 Years Ago: July 30th to 31st: Operations at Charleston

JULY 30TH Dahlgren wrote from Charleston, SC, saying that the fighting on Morris Island hadn't changed in the last five days. The Army had advanced its batteries to within 600 yards of Fort Wagner and every day 2-3 ironclads join in on the attack. He says Wagner is the key to Fort Sumter and the Confederates will defend it at all costs. JULY 31ST The CSS Tuscaloosa captured the ship Santee with cargo of rice and released it on bond. Old B-Runner

Using the CWNC in This Blog

I didn't originally intend using this big book in the blog, but when I started reading it on a day-by-day basis, I realized it gave the general feel of the way things were going throughout the war in the naval arena. Even with Confederate ground forces scoring victories until July 1863, the same was not true of the situation along the coasts and rivers for the new country. Essdentially it was one loss and/or calamity after another. And now, the loss of the whole Mississippi River. I write about general naval matters, the big stories and anything relating to Wilmington, North Carolina. I do leave many things out, so if you want to read them all, search for Civil War Naval Chronology which you can find at several sites. Old B-R'er

I Did Mention the Calypso

I was wondering whether or not I had mentioned the capture of the blockade-runner Calypso on June 11, 1863, and found that I must have as it was mentioned in the Civil War Naval Chronology which I use for my Naval Happenings 150 Years Ago.

 For JUNE 11TH, the CWNC listed: "U.S.S. Florida, Commander Bankhead, captured blockade running steamer Calypso attempting to dash into Wilmington with cargo including drugs, provisions, and plating for ironclads."

-- Old B-Runner

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Capture of Blockade-Runner Calypso-- Part 4

Report of Acting Rear Admiral Lee, U.S. Navy, June 23, 1863.

 Of the officers and crew of the Calypso, First Mate Thomas H. Greaves and Second Mate R. Eldredge are reported as being citizens of New York. (So, helping the enemy?) John C. Bauman, born in Wilmington and a citizen of North Carolina is suspected of being an agent of the Confederate government.

Admiral Lee was also upset that the commanding officer of the USS Massachusetts did not report to him on his way north, "according to his general orders." (Somebody's in trouble.)

-- Old B-R'er

Capture of Blockade-Runner Calypso-- Part 3

Many private papers were found and sealed to be shipped to prize commissioners. Fifty people were still aboard, nine from Confederate states. They were assigned to messes on the Florida.

"Some of the cargo was thrown overboard; how much, it is impossible to state, as they had succeeded in destroying or concealing all papers or cargo lists which could throw any light upon the subject. Some iron plating for ironclads was thrown overboard, and no doubt, many smaller articles."

Acting Ensign S.P. Crafts and ten men were detailed as a prize crew to take the ship north with orders to return as soon as possible. The prisoners had all been transferred to the USS Massachusetts which will also tow the Calypso north.

Lee's Report Next. --Old B-R'er

Capture of Blockade-Runner Calypso-- Part 2

Two boats had already left with a number of people on board, including four females. The Florida sent men to board the ship and found that efforts had been made to scuttle it, but the leaks were plugged.

The crew had broken into the the ship's stores and pillaged. Clothing, bottles and bedding were strewn all over the ship. "Many were more or less intoxicated."

The ship "proved to be the Confederate steamer Calypso, four days out of Nassau, bound for Wilmington, N.C., by way of New Inlet. No ship's papers were discovered on board and but one flag (Confederate, or rebel) hidden away in a washboard.

The captain, without hesitation, acknowledged her to be a Confederate vessel and stated his cargo to consist of liquors, medicines, drugs and provisions, with probably some articles for the rebel Government."

More to Come. --Old B-Runner

Capture of Blockade-Runner Calypso-- Part 1

From the June 14, 2013, UNC Libraries Civil War Day By Day.

The report of Commander Bankwood of the USS Florida of the capture of the Confederate staemer Calypso, June 11, 1863. From the ORN. I'll be using my paraphrasing of the report.

The USS Florida was at its station, six miles off the Western Bar of the Cape Fear River at 3 P.M. on the 11th, when a strange sail was seen. Bankhead made General Signal 1116 and was answered and went off in pursuit.

The unidentified ship altered course immediately and much effort was made to catch the ship, including more canvas sails and burning "slush") in the furnaces. The Florida got within range of its rifled gun and on the third shot the ship appeared to stop

By 6 P.M. the Florida closed in and discovered people quickly abandoning ship.

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

Sorry About Not Publishing These Last Two Weeks

I've been busy working in the yard and, in general, enjoying summer here in the Midwest with all the festivals and entertainment. Plus, I am still trying to figure out a way to make entries and use paragraphs since currently I can just do that with html instead of compose. I do not know why this is happening to me. Old B-Runner