Fort Fisher

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

Monday, December 30, 2013

Letter From Wilmington 18 October 1863-- Part 1

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

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

"My dear Father

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

--Old B-Runner

Saturday, December 28, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

Old B-R'er

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

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

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

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

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

More to Come. --Old B-Runner

Friday, December 27, 2013

150 Years Ago-- December 26-31

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

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Beginning To Look Like No Help From Europe

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

149th Anniversary of the First Battle of Fort Fisher

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

Dahlgren Is Upset About Those Pesky rebels

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

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

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

Saturday, December 21, 2013

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

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

Confederate Obstructions at Charleston Harbor: Intelligence

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

Friday, December 20, 2013

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

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

Thursday, December 19, 2013

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

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

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

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

Lt. Benjamin Lewis Blackford, CSA Engineers

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

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 16, 2013

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

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

Difficulties for Confederates in Europe

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

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Progress on the CSS Tennessee and Acquiring Confederate Sailors

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

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

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

Thursday, December 12, 2013

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

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

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

150 Years Ago-- December 10-11, 1863

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

Monday, December 9, 2013

150 Years Ago-- December 7-9, 1863

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Quite the Ship. --Old B-Runner

USS United States/CSS United States-- Part 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From Find-a-Grave.

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Remembering Pearl Harbor

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

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

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

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

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

Watch Out for Those Sneaky Confederate Torpedo Boats

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

Friday, December 6, 2013

Cavallo Pass, Texas

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

150 Years Ago-- December 2-3, 1863

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

Thursday, December 5, 2013

More on Confederate Activity At Mobile Bay

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

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

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

State of Confederate Naval Affairs November 1863

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

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

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