Fort Fisher

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

Friday, January 31, 2014

Intelligence on Blockade-Running: Bribes?

JANUARY 29TH, 1864: //// Lt. Cmdr. James C. Chaplin of the USS Dai Ching reported intelligence from the master of the blockade-runner George Chisholm, captured in November: "...vessels running out of Nassau, freighted with contraband goods for Southern ports...always skirt along the soundings and take the open sea through the North East Providence Channel by Egg and Royal Islands, steering from thence about N.N.W. course toward Wilmington or ports adjacent on the Carolina coast, while those bound to Mobile run down the east side of Cuba through Crooked Island Passage, sweeping outside in a considerable circle to avoid United States cruisers in the vicinity. //// The vessels heading to the coast of the Carolinas take their point of departure from a newly erected light-house in the neighborhood of Man of War Cay. //// They are provided with the best of instruments and charts, and, if the master is ignorant of the channels and inlets of our coast, a good pilot. //// They are also in pOssession of the necessary funds (in specie) to bribe, if possible, captors for their release. Such an offer was made to myself...of some 800 (pounds). //// The master of a sailing vessel, before leaving port, receives $1,000 (in coin), and, if successful, $5,000 on his return; those commanding steamers $5,000 on leaving and $15,000 in a successful return to the same port." //// No Wonder It Is So Hard to Catch a Runner. --Old B-Runner

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

150 Years Ago-- January 29, 1864: Savannah Ripe for the Taking

JANUARY 29TH, 1864: The ironclad USS Patapsco reported to Dahlgren after an extended reconnaissance of the Wilmington River, Georgia. He only engaged sharpshooters. He concluded: "From waht I can see and learn, an original expedition against Savannah at this time by a combined movement of land and sea forces would probably be successful." //// Though the Navy kept the city under close blockade, troops were not available and it wasn't until the arrval of Sherman's Army after his March to the Sea that the city fell. //// --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The CSS Albemarle After Cushing Sank It

From Wikipedia. //// Still on yesterday's post about the CSS Albemarle's smokestack. //// The U.S. Navy raised and temporarily hull-patched the Albemarle after Plymouth, NC, was recaptured. After the war, the USS Ceres towed the ironclad to Norfolk Navy Yard where it arrived 27 April 1865. //// On June 7th, it entered drydock to be repaired and work was completed 14 August 1865. Kind of a waste of money because two weeks later, the Albemarle was condemned by the Washington Prize Court. It saw no other Navy service and was placed in ordinary where it remained until sold at public auction 15 October 1867 to J.N. Leonard & Co, No further records of the ship have been found and it is likely that it was scrapped for salvage. //// One of the 6.4-inch double-banded Brooke rifled cannons was on display at HQ of Cmdr.-in-Chief U.S. Atlantic Command at Norfolk Navy base. The smokestack is on display at the Museum of the Albemarle in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. The Albemarle's ship's bell is now at Port 'O Plymouth in Plymouth, North Carolina. //// Neat Old Smokestack. --Old B-R'er

U.S. Navy Still Had to Keep Up Appearances in the World

JANUARY 28TH, 1864: Captain Henry S. Stellwagen, commanding the USS Constellation, reported from Naples, Italy: "It is my pleasant duty to inform you of the continued [friendly] demonstration of ruling powers and people of the Kingdom of Italy toward our country and officers." The problem of blockading the hazardous Confederate coasts and running down commerce raiders meant that steam-powered ships were needed at these stations. Sailing ships took their places on foreign stations. The old USS Constellation was based in the Mediterranean, USS St. Louis west of Gibraltar on the trade routes and USS Jamestown in the East Indies. They were available to escort ships and act as a deterrent to the raiders. //// These Old Navy veterans did much for protecting American interests abroad and maintaini9ng national prestige. //// --Old B-Runner

Monday, January 27, 2014

The CSS Albemarle's Smokestack and Me

I came across this in the Jan. 18, 2014, Raleigh (NC) News & Observer "Enormous museum tells story of the 'Cradle of North Carolina'" by Gary McCollough. //// It is at the Museum of the Albemarle at Elizabeth City on the Pasquotank Rivers. The museum covers four centuries of history in the area. //// But, I was most interested in the part where he mentioned that the museum has the smokestack of the Confederate ironclad CSS Albemarle. That smokestack was one of the things that got me, for better or worse, hooked on the Civil War. Mom used to take me often to the NC History and Archives Museum when we lived in Raleigh and I would go through the Civil War stuff, but was always transfixed by that huge old piece of iron with what appeared to be shell holes in it. That was a real touch of history. //// I haven't been back to the museum in a long time and did not know the smokestack is now in Elizabeth City so will have to plan a trip to this museum on one of mty next trips back to North Carolina. //// That Was a Neat Old Stack. --Old B-R'er

USS Isaac Smith/ CSS Stono

Last week, I wrote about the crate of Enfield rifles that were recovered from the CSS Stono, a shipwreck in Charleston Harbor, SC. It had been the Union ship Isaac Smith before its capture and it was sunk as a Confederate blockade runner attempting to run into Charleston. //// As the Isaac Smith: In January 1862, it joined in an expedition to Savannah and then March to April operated off St. Augustine, Florida. From May to July, it was in the St. John's River by Jacksonville, Florida. In August it went to New York City for repairs and then to the Stono River, South Carolina, until January 30, 1863 when it was captured after being trapped in a crossfire between Confederate shore batteries. It was disabled and 8 killed and 17 wounded before surrendering. //// It served in the Confederate Navy in Charleston after that and was wrecked on the breakwater by Fort Moultrie while attempting to run the blockade into the port. The Confederates took what they could off her. The ship and rest of its cargo was burned during the evacuation of Charleston in 1865. //// --Old B-Runner

Saturday, January 25, 2014

150 Years Ago-- January 24-26, 1864: Do Something About These Rebel Cruisers in France

JANUARY 26TH, 1864: William L. Dayton, U.S. minister to France, noted in a siapatch to Sectretary of State Seward: "I must regret that, of the great number of our ships of war, enough could not have been spared to look after the small rebel cruisers now in French ports. It is a matter of great surprise in Europe, that, with our apparent naval force, we permit such miserable craft to chase our commerce from the ocean; it effects seriously our prestige." //// In Other Words, Get On Welles' Case to Do Something. --Old B-Runner

Friday, January 24, 2014

The Mother of Confederate Reunions-- Part 2

From the Center for Civil War Research website. //// "Almost immediately after the end of the Civil War, veterans sought out occasions to gather together, to relive their shared experiences, find solace in their battle forged bonds, to celebrate heroic deeds, and commemorate the sacrifices of their fallen comrades. //// These reunions...came eventually to serve as a symbol of a wider national reunion remaining purely separate former Union or Confederate affairs...attended by hundreds and thousands, reunions of all kinds evolved powerful sentiment and became fertile ground for the construction of Civil War Memory." //// --Old Secesh

The Mother of Confederate Reunions-- Part 1

From the Jan. 13, 2014, Douglasville (Ga.) Patch "Our History: The Mother of Confederate Reunions" posted by Lisa Cooper. //// A really great video accompanies the article showing the old soldiers from both sides at reunions. You can also see it at http://youtube/Gel.GasX8FHK from the dovumentary "Echoes of the Blue & Gray." Sure are a lot of goatees on those old veterans. Must have been the style back then. //// Lisa Cooper is a teacher and shows the reunion videos to her classes and "invariably one or two of my little sweethearts would wonder how in the world those old men could fight a war." //// Another thing those kids wouldn't know was how many of those "old men" were still fathering children into their 60s-80s. But, that is another story. //// --Old Secesh

USS Isaac Smith-- Part 1

From Wikipedia. //// The Isaac Smith was the only warship on either side captured by an enemy land force during the war. //// It was built by Lawrence & Foulks in 1861. Acquired by the Navy, it took part in the attack on Port Royal, South Carolina. An intense hurricane forced the ship to jettison its cannons and it aided in the rescue of the Marine Corps transport Governor which foundered off Cape Hatteras. //// On November 4-5, it repelled attacks from three Confederate steamers and silenced shore batteries at Hilton Head and Bay Point, S.C.. On Nov. 7, the busy ship towed the sloop Vandalia into position for landings that captured Port Royal and gave the Union Navy an important base for Georgia-South Carolina operations. //// --Old B-R'er

Keeping Confederates Tied Down at Charleston

JANUARY 23RD: Rear Admiral Dahlgren wrote President Lincoln: "The city of Charleston is converted into a camp, and 20,000 or 25,000 of their best troops are kept in abeyance in the vicinity, to guard against all possible contingencies, so that 2,000 of our men in the fortifications of Morris and Folly Islands, assisted by a few ironclads, are rendering invaluable service.... No man in the country will be more happy than myself to plant the flag of the Union where you most desire to see it." //// The Union's ability to attack anywhere it wanted along the Confederate coast tied down huge numbers of soldiers who otherwise could be serving in the armies. //// Even So, Charleston Was Proving a Rough Nut to Crack. --Old B-Runner

Thursday, January 23, 2014

CSS Stono (USS Isaac Smith)

From Wikipedia. //// The CSS Stono was originally the Union vessel USS Isaac Smith. built in 1861 for passenger service on the Hudson River and bought by the U.S. Navy in September 1861. //// It was powered by a propeller, weighed 453 tons, 171 feet liong, 56 crew and mounted one 30-pdr. Parrott rifle and eight 8-inch Dahlgren smoothbores. //// Assigned to the South Atlantic Blockading Fleet and served from 1861-1862 and captured by the Confederates in 1863 and renamed the CSS Stono. Its fate is unknown according to Wikipedia. //// More to Come. --Old B-Runner

CSS Stono Items on Display

From the Dec. 17, 2013, Columbus (Ind) Republic, AP. //// The Georgia Department of Natural resources reports that a collection of Civil War-era artifacts are on display at the Sweetwater Creek State Park. A crate of rifles recovered from the shipwreck of the CSS Stono are housed in an aquarium in the lobby of the visitors center at the park in Lithia Springs where they are draining salt and other contaminants from the guns which were in the water for over a hundred years. //// The rifles are traced to the CSS Stono which ran aground in 1863 and was burned later to prevent capture by Union forces. They were found in the 1980s. //// --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

150 Years Ago-- January 20-22, 1864

JANUARY 21ST: USS Sciota and Granite City joined several hundred troops on a reconnaisance of Texas coast. Covered troops at Smith's Landing, Texas, and foray down the Matagordo Peninsula.

JANUARY 22ND: Rear Admiral Dahlgren wrote Welles from Charleston: " not suppose that I am idle because no battles are fought, on the contrary, the blockade by four monitors of such a place as this, and the determined intention of the rebels to operate with torpedoes, keep all eyes open.

**  Three men from the USS Restless led by Acting Ensign James R. Russell captured the blockade runner William A. Kain in St. Andrew's Bay, Florida (present-day Panama City). They originally were only going to reconnoiter, but after discovering and capturing the captain and several crewmembers ashore in the woods near the vessel, Russell determined to take the ship. He compelled his prisoners to row him out to the Kain and then captured the ship. Then he managed to sail the ship from Watson's Bayou out to the bay and under the restless' guns.

Quite the Daring Feat. --Old B-R'er

The Confederate Secret Service Working On "Coal Torpedoes"

JANUARY 19TH, 1864: Thomas E. Courtenay, working with the Confederate secret service, informed Col. Henry E. Clark that the manufacture of "coal torpedoes" was nearing completion: "The castings have all been completed some time and the coal is so perfect that the most critical eye could not detect it." //// Coal torpedoes were actually powder filled cast bombs, shaped and painted to resemble pieces of coal. They were top be taken into federal naval coal depots from which they would eventually reach and explode boilers on ships. //// Rear Admiral Porter of the Mississippi Squadron was very worried about them and wrote Welles that he had "given orders to commanders of vessels not to be very particular about the treatment of any of the desperadoes if caught-- only summary punishment will be effective." In other words, execute on spot. //// Yet Another Sneaky rebel Thing for Freedom. --Old B-Runner

Saturday, January 18, 2014

150 Years Ago-- January 18-19, 1864: Looking for the Alabama

JANUARY 18TH: Secretary Welles directed Captain Henry Walke of the USS Sacramento to search for "the piratical vessels now afloat and preying upon our commerce. You will bear in mind that the principal object of your pursuit is the Alabama." To this date, the CSS Alabama had taken more than 60 prizes. The effect of it and the other Confederate commerce raiders was the drastic reduction of the U.S. flag on the high seas. // The USS Roebuck captured the sloop Caroline off Jupiter Inlet, Florida and the USS Stars and Stripes captured the blockade running steamer Laura off Ocklockonee River, Florida. //// JANUARY 19TH: Boats from the USS Roebuck seized British schooner Eliza and sloop Mary inside Jupiter Inlet, Florida. In ten days, the Roebuck, under Acting Master Sherrill had taken six prizes. //// --Old B-Runner

Friday, January 17, 2014

150 Years Ago-- January 17, 1864: Farragut Arrives Off Mobile and Wants Monitors

JANUARY 17TH: Rear Admiral Farragut is eager to attack Mobile but wanted ironclads to fight the CSS Tennessee. He wrote to Porter: "I am therefore anxious to know if your monitors, at least two of them, are not completed and ready for service; and if so, can you spare them to assist us? // If I had them, I should not hesitate to become the assailant instead of awaiting the attack. I must have ironclads enough to lie in the bay to hold the gunboats and rams in check in the shoal water." //// JANUARY 18TH: Farragut arrives off Mobile in his flagship, the USS Hartford, after being away for five months.. He officially resumed command of the West Gulf Blockading Squadron on Jan. 22nd in New Orleans. // He was concerned with the reported strength of the CSS Tennessee in Mobile Bay and was determined to destroy her, silence the forts at the entrance and close the port. To this end, he began to build up his fleet and make plans. //// Old B-Runner

The Confederate Government Should Take Over the Blockade-Running Business

JANUARY 16, 1864: Henry Hotze, commercial agent of the Confederate States, wrote from London to Secretary of State Judah P. Benjamin suggesting complete government opeartion of blockade running: "The experiments thus far made by the Ordnance, Niter, and other Bureaus, as also the Navy Department, demonstrates that the Government can run the blockade with equal if not greater chances than private enterprise. //// But the public loses the chief advantages of the system, first by the competition of private exportation; secondly, by the complicated and jarring machinery which only serves to grind out large profits in the shape of commissions, etc.; thirdly, by confounding the distinctive functions of different administrative departments. //// If blockade running was constituted an arm of the national defense, each would perform only to appropriate work, which therefore would be well done. //// The Treasury would procure without competition the raw material and regulate the disposition of the proceeds; the Navy, abandoning the hope of breaking the blockade and throwing all its available energies into eluding it, would purchase, build, and man the vessels for this purpose...." //// Plus, often the private blockade-runners carried supplies in that were not essential to the war effort and this business also caused much inflation. As the war, progressed, more and more Naval officers did command blockade-runners. //// --Old B-R'er

The Situation at Wilmington, NC

JANUARY 16, 1864: The Richmond Enquirer reported that 26 ships on blockading postation off Wilmington "guard all the avenues of approach with the most sleepless vigilance. The consequences are that the chances of running the blockade have been greatly lessened, and it is apprehended by some that the day is not far distant when it will be an impossibility for a vessel to get into that port without incurring a hazard almost equivalent to positve loss. Having secured nearly every seaport on out coast, the Yankees are enabled to keep a large force off Wilmington." //// Indeed, the numbers of blockade-runners captured or destroyed was increasing as the war progressed, but the runners continued into and out of Wilmington until the fall of Fort Fisher the next year. //// --Old B-Runner

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Mallory Urges Attack on Union Fleet in James River

JANUARY 16TH: Secretary Mallory wrote Captain John K. Mitchell of the Confederate James River squadron urging that action be taken against the Union vessels downriver at the earliest possible moment: "I think that there is a passage through the obstructions at Trent's Reach. I deem the opportunity a favorable one for striking a blow at the enemy if we are able to do so. //// In a short time many of his vessels will have returned to tne River from Wilmington and he will again perfect his obstructions. If we can block the River at or below City Point, Grant might be compelled to evacuate his position." //// Evidently, both sides had obstructions on the river, I had always believed just the Confederates had them. Of course, Grant was putting a lot of pressure on the Confederate Army at the time. //// --Old B-Runner

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Confederate Defenses on the Red River

JANUARY 15, 1864: Major Gen. Taylor, CSA, wrote Brig. Gen. William R. Boggs: "At all events, we should be prepared as far as possible, and I trust the remaining 9-inch and the carriages for the two 32-Dahlgrens will soon reach me. For the 9-inch and 32-pound rifle now in position at Fort De Russy, there were sent down only 50 rounds of shot and shell; more should be sent at once. The Missouri, I supppose, will come down on the first rise."

The CSS Albemarle Gets a Commander

JANUARY 15, 1864: Secretary Mallory ordered Commander James W. Cooke to command the ironclad CSS Albemarle in North Carolina and to finish her as quickly as possible. Under Cooke's command, she was rapidly completed and readied for service and played a major role in Albemarle Sound from April until she was sunk in October. //// Old B-Runner

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

150 Years Ago-- January 14, 1864: Alabama Sails Again, Loss of USS Iron Age

JANUARY 14, 1864: CSS Alabama captured and burned the ship Emma Jane off coast of Malabar, southwest India.

**  Small boats from the USS Roebuck chased blockade-runner Young Racer aground north of Jupiter Inlet, Florida and it was destroyed by its crew.

**  Having failed to pull the grounded USS Iron Age off Lockwood's Folly Inlet, it was burned and blew up. But Lt. Cmdr. Stone was quick to mention that the Iron Age's loss was offset by the capture or destruction of 22 blockade-runners by NABS in the past six months.

--Old B-Runner

Monday, January 13, 2014

Dahlgren Wants His Own "Davids"

JANUARY 13, 1864: Rear Admiral Dahlgren, commander of the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron, wrote Welles wanting to employ torpedo boats at Charleston similar to the Confederate "David." Writing: "Nothing better could be devised for the security of our own vessels or for the examination of the enemy's position. The length of these torpedo boats might be about 40 feet, and 5 to 6 feet in diameter, with a high pressure engine that will drive 5 knots. It is not necessary to expend much finish on them." //// Fighting Fire With Fire. --Old B-Runner

Fears At Mobile, Farragur Returns to Command

JANUARY 13, 1864: Captain Thomas A Jenkins, senior officer at Mobile Blockade, wrote Cmdr. Henry H. Bell, temporary comander of the West Gulf Blockading Squadron: "I must be permitted to say that, in my judgement, our present weakness at this point, and the incalculable benefits to accrue in the event of success, are a most tempting invitation for the enemy to attack us and endeavor to raise the blockade by capturing or destroying our vessels and to open the way to other successes." //// Rear Admiral Farragut had arrived at Key West, Florida on the 12th of January and was on his way to take command of the West Gulf Blockading Squadron. //// --Old B-R'er

Letter From Wilmington 18 October 1863-- Part 6: Still Has the Hots for MIss Kidder

"Tell Mother not to talk nonsense about buying any of my English goods. I intend to send her & Mary all that can be of use to them, and ordered them for that purpose. //// Tell her when she writes again not to fail to send some kind of message to Mrs. and Miss Sue Kidder & Willy Scott, who have been exceedingly & usefully kind to me. Miss Kidder is one of the finest girls I ever saw, handsome, wll bred, modest, and having withal a certain refined audacity, which is very attractive. //// The Little I referred to is our old U.V. acquaintance Little. now a Capt. of Ordnance. John Payne is now acting Chief of Ordnance here, and is esteemed a remarkably good officer. //// Tell Mother to hold on to my vest till I come home. Give my best love to all at home, including Laury & tell Sister Sue to be sure and let me know when she is coming South. Address as before. //// Your affectionate son //// B. Lewis Blackford //// A Lot of Information in This Letter. --Old B-Runner

Saturday, January 11, 2014

150 Years Ago-- January 12, 1864

JANUARY 12TH, 1864: Union gunboats covered the landing of troops between the Potomac and Rappahannock rivers in Virginia. Confederates and horses were taken. The ships also covered the forces ashore the next two days and covered their re-embarkation. //// Just another example of Union Army-Navy cooperation that hurt the Confederacy so much. //// --Old B-Runner

Action at Lockwood's Folly Inlet, SC

JANUARY 11TH, 1864: The USS Minnesota, Daylight, Aries, Keystone State and Governor Buckingham intercepted the Confederate blockade-runner Ranger, Lt. George W. Gift, CSN, and forced her ashore at the Western Bar of Lockwood's Ferry Inlet, N.C., near Wilmington.

Confederate sharpshooters ashore precluded salvage and since the ship was carry cargo on government account, it was destroyed.

**  The USS Aries also investigated a fire observed between Tubb's and Little River Inlets and found the "fine-looking double propeller blockade runner" Vesta beached and in flames. The Vesta had been sighted and chased the night before by the USS Keystone State, Quaker City and Tuscarora.

Two More Blockade-Runners Gone. --Old B-R'er

State of Confederate Cruisers in France

JANUARY 11TH, 1864: Flag Officer Samuel Barron, senior Confederate naval officer in France reported to Secretary of the Navy Stephen Mallory about the state of Confederate cruisers in that country. //// He had placed Lt. Charles M. Morris in command of the CSS Florida, relieving Commander Joseph N. Barney because of ill health. The Florida had completed her repairs and had made 13 knots under steam in a trial run. The CSS Rappahannock was "repairing slowly but surely;" and was to be armed by the battery of the CSS Georgia which was no longer fir for duty as a cruiser. //// He concluded by praising France as opposed to England: "You are doubtless, sir, aware that three Confederate 'men of war' are now enjoying the hospitality and natural courtesies of this Empire--a strange contrast with the determined hostility, I may almost say, of Earl Russell....Louis Napoleon is not Lord John Russell." //// And, You'd Think England Would Be Friendlier to the Confederacy. --Old B-Runner

Thursday, January 9, 2014

150 Years Ago-- January 9th-10th, 1864

JANUARY 9th, 1864: Amid growing Union concerns of Confederate torpedoes, President Lincoln granted an interview with a Captain Lavender, a New England mariner, to discuss a device for discovering and removing underwater obstructions. (Of course, in the Civil War, torpedoes were the equivalent of today's mines.) //// Though many ideas for rendering Confederate torpedoes ineffective were advanced, none solved the problem, and torpedoes sank an increasing number of Union ships. //// JANUARY 10TH, 1864: Boat crews from the USS Roebuck captured blockade-running Confederate sloop Maria Louise with cargo of cotton off Jupiter Inlet, Florida. //// --Old B-Runner

A Confederate Privateer in the Pacific?

JANUARY 9TH, 1864: Rear Admiral Charles H. Bell, commanding the Pacific Squadron, advised Secretary Welles of the report of a Confederate privateer fitting out at Victoria, Vancouver Island: "I would also respectfully suggest the expediency of having at all times a small steamer, under the direction of the [Mare Island] navy yard, ready to be despatched at a few hours' notice whenever a similar occasion arises. The want of a vessel so prepared may be of incalculable injury to the mercantile interests of our western coast." //// Always a Threat in the West. --Old B-R'er

Confederates Plan to Attack the USS Kearsarge?

JANUARY 9, 1864: James O. Putnam, U.S. Consul at L'Havre, France, notified Captain John Winslow of the USS Kearsarge: "that it was the purpose of the commanders (of the Confederate raiders) CSS Georgia, Florida and Rappahannock, to rendesvous at some convenient and opportune point, for the purpose of attacking the Kearsarge after she has left Brest." //// That attack never happened, but the Kearsarge did engage another raider six months later, the CSS Alabama. //// The Chasees Turn On Their Chasor. --Old B-Runner

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Letter From Wilmington 18 October 1863-- Part 5

"I am much gratified to hear of the complement to Eugine. Eugene, in my opinion made a fatal error when he failed to accept the colonelcy of his regiment long ago, if he had he would have been a Brigadier before now. //// We have been looking for several days for news from Gen Lee; I hear a rumor this morning that there had been another fight at Manassas in which we were victorious. I humbly hope it may be so. //// I wish I could have been at home while our Hanover friends were with us; I was never so home sick, I am going to have a 30 day furlough some time this winter at all hazards. //// Tell mother I thank her most affectionately for her long and interesting letter. I think she writes in better spirits than usual, and argue from it that her health was not so bad at the time, or at all events that she was suffering less pain. //// I beg, my dear Father that you will seriously take care of your health, you cannot safely expose yourself as you have done and your life is of much value to many people." //// Long Letter Again, But Full of Information. --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Fort Fisher Commemorates 149th Anniversary-- Part 2

A new exhibit will also be opened that day titled "An Eminent Work of Justice and Charity." It contains a Jewett Patent Leg, one of only three known to exist. Civil War surgeons performed huge numbers of amputations which left many soldiers with just one leg. These were of great help and a great improvement over prior ones. //// Civil War authors will also be on hand to talk about their books and sign autographs. In conjunction with the exhibit, Ansley Wegner, author of "Phantom Pain: North Carolina's Artificial Limb Program for Confederate Veterans," will also be there. Richard Triebe's new book concerns the fate of North Carolina troops captured at the battle and sent to the infamous Elmira prison in New York (often referred to as "Helmira" for its horrible conditions. His book is titled "From Fort Fisher to Elmira and Fort Fisher: A Roster 1864-1865." Author Michael Hardy, who writes extensively about North Carolina in the war will also be there. //// I was, however, surprised to see that Chris Fonvielle, noted Fort Fisher and Wilmington author and who just published a new book "Faces of Fort Fisher: 1861-1864" was not listed as attending. //// Old B-R'er

Fort Fisher Commemorates the 150th Anniversary

From the Jan. 2, 2014, Port City "Fort Fisher presents living history program to acommemorate the 149th anniversary of the Battle of Fort Fisher." //// The program will be held January 18th at the Fort Fisher State Historic Site from 10 AM to 4 PM. //// The fort has gained a lot of publicity from the big role it played in Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln" movie where the president was carefully following events transpiring there. //// "Always Near the Front, with Instruments & Tournequets: The Medical Service at Fort Fisher" living history program will be presented that day. //// In addition, artillery re-enactors will drill and fire the fort's banded 32-pounder and 12-pdr. napoleon. One re-enactor will portray a Civil War photographer. //// More to Come. --Old B-Runner

150 Years Ago-- January 7-8, 1864

JANUARY 7, 1864: The USS Montgomery and USS Aries chased the blockade-runner Dare ashore at North Inlet, SC. Unable to refloat it, they burned the ship. // The USS San Jacinto captured schooner Roebuck at sea, bound from Havana to Mobile. There was also a USS Roebuck operating in the Gulf of Mexico at the time and that would have been interesting if the USS Roebuck captured the blockade-runner Roebuck. //// JANUARY 8, 1864: Captain Semmes in the CSS Alabama noted in his journal that he identified himself as the USS Dacotah to an English bark and in search of the CSS Alabama. No doubt he enjoyed it when the bark's master replied: "It won't do; the Alabama is a bigger ship than you, and they say she is iron-plated besides." That sure would have helped him if he had been when the Alabama met the USS Kearsarge six months later. // USS Kennebec chased blockade-runner John Scott off Mobile for 8 hours and captured her, carrying a cargo of cotton and turpentine. Found on board was the ship's pilot, William Norval, well-known for his skills. He was arrested and sent to New Orleans and imprisoned. Take away the pilots and hurt the trade. //// --Old B-R'er

Gen. Butler Has a Wilmington Plan

JANUARY 7, 1864: Maj. Gen. Benjamin F. Butler's plan to send the Army steamer Brewster into Wilmington harbor under guise as a blockade-runner "for the purpose of making an attempt upon the shipping and blockade runners in the harbor" was dropped upon learning of Confederate counter-measures for such an attempt. //// Brig. General Charles K. Graham reported to Rear Admiral S.P. Lee that while they might succeed in running past Fort Caswell or Fort Fisher while doing so, it would be thwarted by the chain that stretched across the Cape Fear at Fort Lee. //// At this point, all blockade-runners were required to come to (stop) until permission to continue farther into Wilmington. //// Under these circumstances, Graham concluded, "It would be madness to make the attempt." //// That Sneaky Old "Beast." --Old B-Runner

Watch Out for Those Confederate Torpedo Boats and the Hunley

JANUARY 7, 1864: Rear Admiral Dahlgren, SABS, received information and ordered all his ships at Charleston Blockade to take careful precautions against attacks by Southern torpedo boats and noted: "There is also another kind, which is nearly submerged and can be entirely so. It is intended to go under the bottoms of vessels and there to operate." //// Regarding the Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley, he warned: "It is also advisable not to anchor in the deepest part of the channel, for by not leaving much space between the bottom of the vessel and the bottom of the channel it will be impossible for the diving torpedo to operate except on the sides, and there will be less difficulty in raising a vessel if sunk." Of course, at this time, the sinking of the USS Housatonic was just a month away. //// Watch Out for Subs. --Old B-Runner

Monday, January 6, 2014

New Book on Fort Fisher

From the December 21, 2013, Wilmington (NC) Star-News "Bookmarks: New look at Fort Fisher in 'Faces'" by Ben Steelman. //// The new book, "Faces of Fort Fisher: 1861-1864" by Chris E. Fonvielle Jr is printed by SlapDash Publishing of Carolina Beach, NC, and costs $39.99. It brings together period photographs and newspaper engravings and tells the stories of some of the key people of the fort. //// Sadly, no pictures are known to have been taken while the fort was in Confederate hands. All we have are the ones taken by photographer T.H. O'Sullivan who visited and took many a few weeks after the fort's capture January 15, 1865. //// There are also fanciful color engravings from an 1864 issue of the Illustrated London News. Also, soldiers in the fort had pictures of themselves taken. //// There are also segments on blockade-runner John Newland Maffitt and Confederate spy Rose O'Neal Greenhow as well as Daisy and William Lamb, the fort's commander. //// Another volume is planned. //// Of great interest to us Britt's Donut (in Carolina Beach, NC) fans, SlapDash is also coming out with an illustrated history of that venerable institution on the Carolina Beach Boardwalk. //// We Can Always Use Another Book On Fort Fisher and Wilmington During the War. (Not to mention BRITT'S!!!) --Old B-R'er

Letter From Wilmington 18 October 1863-- Part 4: Virginians Are Better

"I saw Sam Simpson Guggenheimer, & Mr. Davis from Lynchburg and found them rather disgusted with blockade prices and Wilmington Hotels. //// I entirely agree with you about the Virginians & Virginia; the people in this State are commencing, I believe, to look upon us as their natural enemies, and grumble furiously at the partiality, as they term it, shown us. but the Virginians seem to be utterly indifferent, and continue to monopolize the foremost places & the pretty girls of this command with quiet and aggravating assurance. //// I am truly sorry that Sister Sue is going to Georgia, I think it is more probable that Longstreet will come back to Virginia soon; if he can thrash Rosecranz again I have no doubt he will. You must be sure to write or telegraph me when she will pass through Wilmington and I will meet her at the cars. //// Are Virginians Better Than Tarheels? --Old B-Runner

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Letter From Wilmington 18 October 1863-- Part 3

"I saw along the west bank of the river the first rice plantations I have yet come across. They are dismal looking places on which the owners dare not spend a single night for about six months in the year. Rice in the straw is issued down here as forage for horses, and most excellent forage it is. //// The blockade-running still goes on, and there is not a night that does not witness an arrival or departure. A day or two ago the Douro was pursued beached and burned by the Blockaders, but when one meets a like fate 20 come through scat free. //// I was told that the aggregate of sales at the late sale of blockade cargoes amounted to about 5 millions of dollars, and the prices brought were beyond anything ever heard of before. //// ---Old B-Runner

Letter From Wilmington 18 October 1863-- Part 2: Impressed With Whiting's Forts, But Not Smithville

"The forts whose names I have mentioned are superb works. Gen. Whiting's great skill as an Engineer is shown at Every step. I have seen no forts anywhere in the Confederacy that would at all compare with them. They are as neat & trimly sodded as our old show forts around Norfolk and of two times the solidity. //// They are not only built solid enough to withstand an indefinite hammering from any ordnance now known, but some allowance has been made for 'growing.' //// Smithville, the site of one of these forts is one of the oldest towns in the State, and is the most foreign looking place I ever saw. The houses are old-fashioned, some of them quite handsome, and the streets are merely grass-grown lawns, dotted with many curious & beautiful trees, but every thing looks dead or asleep; the houses are tumbling to pieces, the Enclosures torn away, and the very garrison of the fort have a sort of mechanical and moss-grown appearance like old machines rusted by the saltwater and inaction." //// --Old B-R'er

150 Years Ago-- January 4-6, 1863: Expecting Attack

JANUARY 4TH: Lt. Gen. E. Kirby Smith, CSA, writes to Maj. Gen. Robert Taylor concening the situation in Texas: "I still think Red and Washota [Quachita] Rvers, especially the former, are the true lines of operation for an invading column, and that we muy expect an attempt to be made by the enemy in force before the rivers fall...." Within eight weeks, Rear Admiral Porter, USN, was doing exactly that. //// JANUARY 5TH: Commander George B. Balch reported to Dahlgren, commanding the SABS, that prices in blockaded Charleston continue to skyrocket with boots selling at $250 a pair. //// Wonder How Much Nikes Would Cost, or Air Jordan's? --Old B-Runner

Thursday, January 2, 2014

150 Years Ago-- January 1-3, 1864

JANUARY 1, 1864: The USS Huron sank blockade-running schooner Sylvanus in Doboy Sound, Georgia with cargo of salt, liquor and cordage. Now, that's what I call alcohol abuse. //// JANUARY 2ND, 1864: Major General Hurlburt, Army commander at Memphis, wired Secretary Welles: "The Tennessee at Mobile will be ready for sea in twenty days. She is a dangerous craft. Buchanan thinks more so than the Merrimack...." //// JANUARY 3RD, 1864: Union ships discovered steamer Bendigo aground at Lockwood's Folly Inlet, SC. Boat crews discovered it had been partially burned and had seven feet of water in the hold and was destroyed by gunfire. //// Old B-Runner

Wilmington Comes Under the Gun-- Part 2

JANUARY 2ND, 1864: On 2 January, Secretary of Navy Welles again proposed an attack on the defending fortifications of Wilmington: "the only port by which any supplies whatever reach the rebels...." He suggested to Secretary of War Stanton that a joint operation be conducted to seize Fort Caswell: "The result of such is to enable vessels to lie inside (the Cape Fear River), as is the case with Charleston, thus clsoing the port effectually." //// However, General Halleck said operations in Louisiana and Texas would not allow the needed soldiers to participate. As a result, Wilmington remained open for another year. //// Old B-R'er

Wilmington Comes Under the Gun-- Part 1

JANUARY 1, 1864: As the new year opened, the Union once more focused its attention on Wilmington, NC. Since 1862, the Navy had pressed for a combined attack with the Artmy to close this major blockade-running port, in an ideal position just 600 miles from Nassau and 675 from Bermuda. //// Despite its increasingly tighter blockade, runners continued to come in and out of the port. Some essentially almost ran regular schedule. //// In the fall of 1863, a British observer reported that 13 steamers ran into Wilmington between 10 and 29 September. (In my entries Benjamin Lewis Blackford reported many runs.) James Randall, a Wilmington shipping firm employee, reported that 397 ships visited Wilmington the first two and a half-three years of the war. //// --Old B-Runner

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Starting the Third Year of This Blog (889th Post)

This one started in 2012 after I found that so much of my Civil War blog, Saw the Elephant, was about the naval part of the war. Plus, we are in the sesquicentennial of that war right now, 150 years. It was Fort Fisher which got me hooked on the Civil War in the first place (back when I was 7) and this fort, guarding Wilmington, NC, had a whole lot to do with the naval part of the war. //// A lot of the blog is now taken from the Civil War Naval Chronology from which I am learning a whole lot. I try to do these entries on the day itt happened 150 years ago (or the next several days). //// Dadburn Fort Fisher, getting me All Interested. --Old B-Runner