Fort Fisher

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

Friday, February 28, 2014

Progress on CSS Albemarle

FEBRUARY 28TH, 1864: Lt. Minor, CSN, reported to Mallory on CSS Albemarle progress: "....with the exception of some little connecting work to be completed [the ironclad] may be considered ready. Steam will probably be raised on Friday next. The iron is all on the hull.... the carpenters are now bolting the first layers of plate on the shield, and as long as iron is available, work will progress. //// The Rudder is in place. Shell room and magazine prepared. Officer quarters arranged and berth deck ready for either hammocks if allowed the ship or bunks if the canvas cannot be obtained..... //// The ship is now afloat and when ready for service will I think draw between 7 to 8 feet.... The guns, carriages, and equipment have not yet arrived, but are expected on the 4th of March...." The Albemarle was launched less than two months later, on April 17th. //// Again, many of the problems building these Confederate ironclads revolved around getting needed materials. //// --Old B-R'er

150 Years Ago-- February 26th to 27th, 1864: CSS Muscogee

FEBRUARY 26-27TH, 1864: Boat expedition from the USS Tahoma destroyed a large Confederate government salt works on Goose Creek near St. Marks, Florida. //// FEBRUARY 27TH, 1864: The USS Roebuck seized British blockade-running sloop Nina with cargo of liquors and coffee and schooner Rebel with cargo of salt, liquor and cotton at Indian Inlet, Florida. //// Lt. David Porter McCorkle, CSN, wrote Catesby ap R. Jones about the progress on the CSS Muscogee at the Columbus, Georgia, naval station: "The Muscogee draws too much water; she has to be altered. It will be a long time before the Muscogee will be ready...." On 16 March, the editor of the Columbus, Georgia, Enquirer bitterly invited the public to "take a stroll below the wharf to see how much money has been wasted on a slanting 'discular looking craft." The Muscogee looked like an ark, and "nothing short of a flood will float it." //// --Old B-Runner

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Dangerous Charleston Night Picket Duty

FEBRUARY 26TH, 1864: While on night picket duty at Charleston Harbor, a boat from the USS Nipsic was captured by a Confederate cutter from the CSS Palmetto State. The Union boat encountered her captors in a thick fog and was unable to get away rowing against the the flod tide to escape. The six men aboard were held captive initially aboard the CSS Charleston near Fort Sumter. ///// --Old B-R'er

150 Years Ago-- February 23rd to 25th, 1864: In Mexico

FEBRUARY 23RD, 1864: Rear Admiral C.H. Bell wrote Welles from the USS Lancaster at Acapulco, Mexico: "Such is the present state of affairs at Acapulco that it is believed by both native and foreign populations that the presence of man-of-war alone prevented an attempt to sack and destroy the town by Indians in the interior, encoraged by the governor, General Alvarez...." Even with a conflict of the magnitude of the Civil War underway, the U.S. Navy continued to protect American interests and preserve the peace overseas. //// FEBRUARY 24TH, 1864: USS Nita chased blockade-runner Nan-Nan ashore at the East Pass of the Suwanee River, Florida. //// fEBRUARY 25TH, 1864: The USS Roebuck seized blockade-running sloop Two Brothers in Indian River, Florida, with cargo including salt, liquor and nails. //// --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Flames Over Fort Fisher Last Week

From the Feb. 19, 2014, WECT "Fort Fisher to recreate historical appearance" by Kaitlin Stansell. //// Fort Fisher went up in flames Wednesday, Feb. 19th, but it was a planned event. Over the years, Youpon Holly shrubs have taken over the remaining mounds of the fort. They are a highly invasive plant as well and choke off native grasses that help prevent erosion. //// The Youpon were not on the original fort, whose sand was held in place by grasses. So this will help more closely recreate what the fort looked like back in 1864-1865. //// Site tours were temporarily suspended, but big crowds gathered to witness it which has been planned for more than two years. //// Lots of Smoke, Just Like During the Two Battles. --Old B-R'er

Union Raid on Rainbow Bluff, NC

FEBRUARY 22ND, 1864: Tinclad USS Whitehead was ordered by Lt-Cmdr. Flusser to go up the Roanoke River in NC. The ship destroyed a corn mill used by Confederate troops near Rainbow Bluff. //// Torpedoes were reported to be planted in the river upstream of the bluff. All those torpedoes made Flusser believe that the Confederates were more worried about a Union advance than one of their own. There had been rumors of a massive Confederate attack downriver. //// Will They or Won't They? --Old B-Runner

Use Those Cruisers-- Part 2

"It would be well, too, to give instructions looking to the occassional disguise and change of name of each vessel for the same purpose. Their advent upon the high seas will raise a howl throughout New England, and I trust it may be well founded. //// The destruction of a few shipss off New York and Boston , Bath and Portland would raise insurance upon their coasting trade a hundred per cent above its present rates." Mallory, of course was referring back to Lt. Charles W. Read's cruise in June 1863, which had a huge impact on New England commerce. //// --Old B-R'er

Use Those Cruisers-- Part 1

FEVRUARY 22ND, 1864: Confederate Secretary of Navy Mallory wrote Flag Officer Barron, CSN, in Paris: "If you could raise the blockade of Wilmington, an important service would thereby be rendered, a service which would enable neutrals to carry a great deal of cotton from that port.... //// A dash at the New England ports and commerce might be made very destructive and would be a heavy blow in the right direction. A few days' cruising on the banks might inflict severe injury on the fisheries. //// The interception of California steamers also offers good service.... Unless you determine to strike a blow which necessarily requires a combination of your force, it would be judicious to send the ships in opposite directions to distract the enemy in pursuit." //// Mallory wanted Barron to send his cruisers. //// More to Come. --Old B-Runner

Monday, February 24, 2014

Dahlgren Concerned About Housatonic Loss and Torpedo Boats

FEBRUARY 20TH, 1864: Rear Admiral Dahlgren, off Charleston, wrote in his diary: "The loss of the Housatonic troubles me very much.... Torpedoes have been laughed at; but this disaster ends that." //// The day before, he had written Welles urging that the Union develop and use torpedo boats to combat the Confederates. //// He was under the impression that the H.L. Hunley had been another Confederate "David" torpedo boat (which couldn't submerge) and he also suggested to Welles that "a large reward of prize money for the capture or destruction of a 'David'. I should say not less than $20,000 or $30,000 for each. They are worth much more than that to us." //// Fighting Fire With Fire. --Old B-R'er

Blockading Wilmington, NC

FEBRUARY 20TH, 1864: Rear Admiral Lee wrote Asst. Sec. of Navy Fox about the blockade off Wilmington: ""... the number of blockade runners captured or destroyed since July 12 [is] 26, and since the blockade was strengthened last fall the number is 23 steamers lost to the trade.... I don't believe that many prizes will be made hereafter; the runners now take to te beach too readily when they see a blockader by day or night.... I think the additions to the runners are less than the numbers destroyed, etc..... //// The blockade off Wilmington is the blockade of two widely separated entrances, each requiring as much force as Charleston if not more. Experience teaches that a mere inner line will not answer for blockading in this steam era. Now the blockaders are from 1 to 2 miles, and more, apart.... //// Wilmington and its entrances and adjacent inlets require more attention than all the rest of te coast. The depots at Bermuda and Nassau are tributary to it." //// He contuned to urge an joint Army-Navy attack on Wilmington as the best way to close the port. //// Blockade-running getting considerably more difficult at Wilmington. //// --Old B-Runner

Dahlgren Wants Torpedoes of His Own

FEBRUARY 16TH, 1864: Rear Admiral Dahlgren ordered 100 torpedoes from Benjamin Maillefert, an engineering specialist. Back in November, Maillefert had proposed using torpedoes to clear the obstructions in the channel between Fort Sumter and Charleston: "Each of these charges will be provided with a clockwork arrangement, which shall determine the exact time of firing; they are to contain 110 to 125 pounds of gunpowder each...." //// This date Dahlgren, satisfied with the tests during the intervening period, wrote: "Having witnessed the action of your time torpedoes, I think they may be servicable in operating against the rebels at Charleston and elsewhere. //// By the end of the war, both North and South were using torpedoes, forecasting the great roles that uunderwater ordnance would play in the 20th century. //// I imagine the idea with these clock timers would be to float them with the tide and estimate how long it would take to lodge against obstructions. //// Well, They Started It. --Old B-R'er

150 Years Ago-- February 18th-22nd, 1864

FEBRUARY 18TH, 1864: President Lincoln ended the blockade of Brownsville, Texas, and opened the port for trade. (I would think this meant that Confederate operations in the area were at an absolute end. //// FEBRUARY 21ST, 1864: It was reported that the water at the mouth of the Red River was too low for Confederate gunboats at Shreveport, Louisiana, to get over the falls. This did not bode well for the planned Union attack up that river. //// FEBRUARY 22ND, 1864: The USS Linden attempting to aid the transportAd Hines, hit a snag in the Arkansas River and sank. //// Old B-Runner

Bulloch Suggests C.S. Navy Take Control of Blockade Running

FEBRUARY 18TH, 1864: Commander James D. Bulloch, CSN, wrote Secretary Mallory from Liverpool of his disappointment over the Confederacy's inability to get ironclads from Europe and further suggested that the Confederate Navy take over the blockade-running business and added: "The beams and decks of these steamers could be made of sufficient strength to bear heavy deck loads without exciting suspicion, and then if registered in the name of private individuals and sailed purely as commercial ships they could trade without interruption or violation of neutrality between our coasts and the Bermudas, Bahamas, and West Indies. //// When three or more of these vessels happened to be in harbor at the same time a few hours would suffice to mount a couple heavy guns on each, and at early dawn a successful raid might be made upon the unsuspecting blockaders....After a raid or cruise the vessels could be divested of every appliance of war, and resuming their private ownership and commercial names, could bring off cargoes of cotton to pay the costs of the cruise." Hard times called for desperate measures. I doubt that these ships would have fooled Union blockaders by the Southern harbors on their rin in. However, Confederate control of the blockade-runners were ensure cargoes of more use to the military effort. European countries did use raiders disguised as merchant ships during the world wars. //// --Old B-R'er

The Hunley Sinks the Housatonic-- Part 3: Repercussuions

FEBRUARY 17TH, 1864: The loss of the Housatonic caused great consternation in the Union fleet blockading Charleston, SC. All wooden ships henceforth were ordered to keep up steam and move out to sea every night. The number of picket boats was doubled and number of sailors in each boat increased. //// Unfortunately, Lt. Dixon and his daring associates perished with the Hunley after the attack. The exact cause has never been determined, despite the fact the Hunley was found and is now undergoing conservation. //// Confederate engineer James H. Tomb later observed: "She was very slow in turning, but would sink at a moment's notice and at times without it." The submarine "was a veritable coffin to this brave officer and his men." //// The Age of the Submarine As An Effective Weapon Had Arrived, But Not Furthered Until World War I. --Old B-Runner

Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Hunley Sinks the Housatonic-- Part 2: Stuck in the Rigging

John K. Crosby, officer of the deck, wrote: "It had the appearance of a plank moving in the water." The Housatonic slipped its cable and began backing at full speed (must have had steam up) and all hands called to quarters. //// Within two minutes of initial sighting, the Hunley rammed her torpedo into the Housatonic and the ship was shattered by the explosion and "sank immediately." //// The february 29th Charleston Daily Courier remarked: "The explosion made no noise, and the affair was not known among the fleet untildaybreak, when the crew was discovered and released from their uneasy positions in the rigging. They had remained there all night. Two officers and three men were reported missing and were supposed to be drowned." //// --Old B-Runner

Friday, February 21, 2014

The Hunley Sinks the Housatonic-- Part 1

FEBRUARY 17TH, 1864: The Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley, Lt. George E. Davis, CSA, destroyed the USS Housatonic off Charleston, SC. It became the first submarine ever to sink an enemy ship in combat. //// The Hunley had sunk Oct. 15, 1863, for the second time. It was raised and a new volunteer crew trained. For months, under the cover of darkness, the submarine would move out into the harbor awaiting favorable conditions and a target. //// This night,the small craft with a spar torpedo attached to the bow found the sloop of war Housatonic anchored outside the bar. Just before 9 o'clock in the evening, Acting Master John K. Crosby, the Housatonic's officer of the deck spotted an object in the water about a hundred yards off and making directly for the ship. //// --Old B-R'er

Update on CSS Neuse Progress

FEBRUARY 16TH, 1864: Lt. Minor, CSN, reported on the condition of the CSS Neuse, then building in Kinston, NC: "...Lt. Cmdg. [William] Sharp has a force of about one hundred and seventy-two men employed on her.... As you are aware, the Steamer has two layers of iron on the forward end of her shield, but none on either broadside, or on the after part. ///// The carpenters are now calking the longitudinal pieces on the hull, and if the iron can be delivered more rapidly, or in small quantities with some degree of regularity, the work would progress in a much more saitisfactory manner. //// The boiler was today lowered into the vessel and when i8n place, the main deck will be laod in.... //// The river I am told is unprecedently low for this season of the year.... I am satisfied not more than five feet can now be carried down the channel.... //// And as the Steamer when ready for service will draw between six and seven feet, it is very apparent that to be useful, she must be equipped on time to take advantage of the first rise." As usual, lack of supplies, in this case iron, is causing delay as well as there being problems with river depth. --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Submarine Hunley Sinks USS Housatonic

FEBRUARY 17TH, 1864: Big event in naval warfare as yesterday, 150 years ago, the Confederate submarine Hunley attacked and sank a Union warship, the first time in history that had happened. It definitely had ramifications on World War I and World War II. //// I'll be writing about it more this week. //// --Old B-R'er

February 16th-23rd, 1864: Union Navu Opens Operations Against Mobile

FEBRUARY 16TH, 1864: Union ships open fire on Fort Powell as Farragut begins his six-month campaign against Mobile. //// FEBRUARY 16-23, 1864: USS Para escorted troops up the St. Mary's River, in Florida. //// FEBRUARY 17-19, 1864: Boat expedition from USS Tahoma destroyed salt works and supply of salt near St. Marks, Florida. //// --Old B-Runner

150 Years Ago-- February 15th to 16th, 1864: Commerce Cruiser Success

FEBRUARY 15TH, 1864: Flag Offiver Barron reported from Paris: "From all the information I can get there seems to be scarcely a single Yankee vessel engaged in regular trade between any two places. But should our efforts to keep cruisers afloat abate or prove less successful doubtless their enterprise will again be brought into lively activity to relieve their present more than half-starved commerce." //// The USS Montgomery captured the blockade-running steamer Pet of Lockwood's Folly Inlet, S.C.. //// The Cruisers Were Almost Too Successful as They Were Finding It Very Difficult to Find Union-Registered Ships. --Old B-Runner

Monday, February 17, 2014

John Taylor Wood's Been a Busy Man

FEBRUARY 15TH, 1864: The Confederate Congress tendered a thanks to Commander John Taylor Wood, his officers and men "for the daring and brilliantly executed plans which resulted in the capture of the United States transport schooner Elmore, on the Potomac River; of the sloop Allegeheny...and the United States transport schooners Golden Rod, Coquette and Two Brothers, on the Chesapeake; and more recently, in the capture from under the guns of the enemy's works of the United States gunboat Underwriter, on the Neuse River, near New Berne, North carolina, with the officers and crews of the several vessels brought off as prisoners." //// The South's Answer to Cushing. --Old B-R'er

150 Years Ago-- February 14th-15th, 1864

FEBRUARY 14TH, 1864: The USS Morse had a reconnaissance mission on York River and Potopotank Creek, Virgina. Found no torpedoes, but thinks they have some further upstream. //// FEBRUARY 15TH, 1864: USS Forest Rose drove off Confederates who were attacking Union land forces at Waterproof, Louisiana. //// //// Rear Admiral Bell of the Pacific Squadron ordered USS Saginaw to cruise off the coast of Mexico and look for those who might be swearching for a commerce raider. And above all else, be prepared at night as the Saginaw would make an excellent commerce raider. //// --Old B-Runner

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Farragut: Don't believe Those Reports of Blockade-Runners Coming and Going From Mobile

FEBRUARY 13TH: Rear Admiral Farragut reported to Asst. Secretary of the Navy Fox that information given him indicated "that those publications about vessels running into Mobile are false [and] that no vessel has gotten in during the last six weeks and then only one, that the Isabel has been in there 4 months...that there are but 3 steamers, the Denhigh, and Isabel and Austin; the two last are loaded ready to run out and the Denhigh was so disabled by the Fleet when she attempted to run out the other night that she had to be towed up to the City [Mobile]-- and her cotton is at the Fort." //// Running the Mobile Blockade Getting Really Risky. --Old B-R'er

150 Years Ago-- February 11th-12th, 1864: Cannon Cartridge Bags Needed

FEBRUARY 11TH: The USS Queen captured the schooner Louisa off the mouth of the Brazos River, Texas, with cargo of powder and Enfield rifles. //// FEBRUARY 12TH: Commander John M. Brooke (maker of the Brooke Rifled cannons), in charge of the Confederate Navy's Office of Ordnance and Hydrography wrote Flag Officer Barron in France for "material for cartridge bags, which is now much needed." Brooke asked Barron to purchase some 22,000 yards of material and to ship it to Nassau. He wanted blockade-runners to take it from there, but in no more than 1000 yard lots to avoid complete loss in case of capture or destruction. Getting supplies was becoming increasingly difficult for the Confederacy. //// Old B-Runner

Friday, February 14, 2014

USS Florida Forces Blockade-Runner Fanny and Jenny Aground Near Masonboro Inlet, NC: Robert E. Lee's Sword

The USS Florida was making quite a name for herself in destroying blockade-runners in the early part of February. After forcing the Fanny and Jenny aground, Commander Pierce Crosby sighted the blockade-runner Emily aground nearby. Unable to get either steamer afloat and under fire from a Confederate Whitworth battery (long range and very accurate), Crosby burned both. //// The Fanny and Jenny carried an asorted cargo, including a large quantity of coal. The Emily carried a cargo of salt. //// On the Fanny and Jenny was found a solid gold jewel-studded sword inscribed: "To General Robert E. Lee, from his British symphathizers." //// From crew members of the Fanny and Jenny, Crosby also learned that ten blockade runners had sailed from Nassau for Wilmington "....during the dark of the moon. Three have been destroyed, and one put back, broken down, leaving six others to be heard from." //// And, Crosby Was Just the Guy to Hear 'Em. --Old B-R'er

And Speaking of Confederate Commerce Raiders: CSS Florida Escapes

FEBRUARY 10TH, 1864: The CSS Florida, now under the command of Lt. Charles M. Morris, CSN, (it had been commanded by John Newland Maffitt) escaped to sea from Brest, France where it had been undergoing repairs since the previous August. //// The USS Kearsarge, under Captain Winslow (later to become famous for sinking the CSS Alabama) was offshore keeping a watch. Winslow wrote: "The Florida took advantage of a thick, rainy night and left at 2 o'clock, proceeding through the southern passage." Winslow found, like the British, that keeping Brest blockaded was very difficult. The Germans used Brest quite a bit during World War II as well. //// --Old B-Runner

The CSS Alabama's Indian Ocean Expedition 1863

Wikipedia. //// This was not the first time the Alabama had been in the Indian Ocean. Earlier in 1863, it had gone on a cruise looking for U.S. registered vessels from the end of September to the end of November. In February 1864, it was returning. //// In 1863, it steamed from the Cape of Good Hope to Dutch East Indies Indonesia and intercepted mostly British and Dutch ships until it had three captures in November: the Amanda on Nov. 6th, and the Winged Racer and Contest on Nov. 9th. All three were burned. //// Finding U.S. registered/flagged ships was getting much more difficult as so many were reregistering under foreign flags. //// --Old B-R'er

Johanna Island (Anjouan Island)-- Part 2

As we continue with my geography lesson, there are four larger towns on the several islands, with Mutsamunda as the capital. Its first inhabitants were explorers and immigrants from Indonesia and Polynesia. //// In 1500, it was part of the Sultanate of Ndzuwani and in 1816, it requested French protection from the threatening Sultanate of Zanzibar. The French provided protection officially in 1886. //// The currency is the Comorian franc, printed by the Bank of France and the main religion is Sunni Islam. A French connection. //// Now You Know Much More. So Do I. --Old B-Runner

Johanna Island (Anjouan Island)-- Part 1

From Wikipedia. //// The last post earlier today was about the crew of the CSS Alabama having a less than great time during their shore leave on Johanna Island. I'd never heard of it, but Captain Semmes described it as located between Africa and Madagascar in the Indian Ocean. I looked it up on Yahoo!. //// Anjouan is also known as Ndzuwani or Nzwani and historically as Johanna. Today it is a part of the Union of Comoros. //// No doubt the crew did not have a good time because the inhabitants are mostly Sunni Islam with very strict rules against alcohol and sex. A big reason for the Alabama stopping there is that the island was under French protection (who didn't cowtow to American pressure as much as Britain). //// So, That's Why. --Old B-R'er

CSS Alabama's Crew Gets a Lousy "Port Call"

FEBRUARY 9TH, 1864: The Alabama's crew was really looking forward to getting a rare port call to go ashore and let off some steam on this date when the ship put in at the island of Johanna between Africa and Madagascar for provisions. //// Captain Semmes later wrote: "I gave my sailors a run on shore, but this sort of 'liberty' was awful hard for Jack (his sailors). There was no such thing as a glass of grog to be found in the whole town, and as for a fiddle, and Sal (women) for a partner-- all of which would have been a matter of course in civilized countries-- there were no such luxuries to be thought of. //// They found it a difficult matter to get through with the day, and were all down at the beach long before sunset-- the hour appointed for their coming off-- waiting for the approach of the welcome boat. //// I told Kell (his lieutenant) to let them go on shore as often as they pleased, but no one made a second application." //// What, No Alcohol, Music and Women??!! Might As Well Stay On the Lousy Ship!!! --Old B-Runner

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Update on Confederate "Coal" Torpedoes-- Part 1

FEBRUARY 9TH, 1864: The USS Jacob Bell took on board six refugees off Blackstone Island, Virginia. One of them was Joseph Lenty, an Englishman, who had worked at Richmond for four years and had information about refiinement of Confederate torpedoes: '....they are now making a shell which looks exactly like a piece of coal, pieces of which were taken from a coal pile as patterns to imitate. I have made these shells myself. I believe these shells have power enough to burst any boiler. After they were thrown in a coal pile I could not tell the difference between them and coal myself." //// I am wondering whether this Joseph Lenty was black or white? //// --Old B-R'er

Union Army Gunboat Smith Briggs

In my Saw the Elephant Civil War Blog, I have been writing about the Battle of Smithfield, Virginia, in which the Army gunboat Smith Briggs was sunk. Most people do not know that the Union Army operated their own gunboats (I just learned myself) and that they also had transports. //// I have been writing about them this past week. //// --Old B-Runner

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

150 Years Ago-- February 7-8th: How to Fight a Monitor

FEBRUARY 7TH: Confederate steamer St. Mary's, trapped in McGirt's Creek, above Jacksonville, Florida, by the USS Norwich was sunk with cargo of cotton to prevent it falling into Union hands. //// FEBRAURY 8TH: Commander Catesby ap R. Jones, commanding the Confederate Naval Gun Factory at Selma, Alabama, wrote Adnmiral Franklin Buchanan in Mobile of the fighting qualities of the Union monitors: "The revolving turret enables the monitor class to bring their guns to bear without reference to the movements or turning of the vessel. You who fought the Virginia know well how to appreciate that great advantage. You doubtless recollect how often I reported to you that we could not bring one of her ten guns to bear. //// In fighting that class, it is very important to prevent the turret from revolving, which I think may be done either with the VII-inch or 6.4-inch rifles or 64 pounder, providing their projectiles strike the turret at or near its base where it joins the deck.... //// If the turret is prevented from revolving, the vessel is less than efficient than one with the same guns having the ordinary ports, as the monitor's ports are so small that the guns can not be trained except by the helm." Of course, besides revolving, the two cannons in the turret were extremely powerful. //// Buchanan commanded the CSS Virginia in its epic battle with the USS Monitor on the first day. Catesby ap R. Jones took command on the second day's fight after Buchanan was wounded. //// --Old B-Runner

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Britain Grows Stronger While U.S. Shipping Wanes Thanks to Commerce Raiders

FEBRUARY 6TH, 1864: Special Commissioner of the Confederate States A. Dudley Mann wrote Secretary of State Benjamin from London: "The iron hull is superceding the wooden hull just as steam is superceding canvas. //// The rich and exhaustless ore fields and coal mines of the 'Island Giant', her numerous workshops and shipyards, the abundance and constant augmentation of her seamen, will probably in less than a score of years produce for her a mercantile navy three times as large as that of all the world besides. //// The old American Union was her only rival in bottom carrying. That rival has disappeared." //// Mann was referring to the fact that U.S. merchant vessels were increasingly sailing under foreign registry because of Southern commerce raiders. //// --Old B-Runner

Thursday, February 6, 2014

150 Years Ago-- February 5-6, 1864: CSS Chicora Useless, Blockade-Runner Dee Destroyed

FEBRUARY 5TH, 1864: Captain John Tucker reported that the boiler of the CSS Chicora had given out and she could now only be used as a floating battery in the defense of Charleston Harbor. //// FEBRUARY 6TH, 1864: The USS Cambridge found the blockade-runner Dee aground and in flames near Masonboro Inlet, NC. She had grounded the previous night and been set on fire to prevent capture. The Cambrideg completed its destruction with its cargo of lead, bacon and spirits. //// --Old B-R'er

150 Years Ago-- February 2-22, 1864

FEBRUARY 2-22ND, 1864: Major General Quincy Gilmore informed Admiral Dahlgren of SABS that he intended to put troops ashore by the St. John's River in Florda and asked for Navy assistance. He sent five naval vessels, including the USS Water Witch, to cover the attack and took personal command of the naval contingent. // The soldiers landed at Jacksonville, moved inland, captured field pieces and took a large quantity of cotton. //// FEBRUARY 3RD, 1864: Four Navy ships engaged Confederate batteries at Liverpool, Mississippi, on the Yazoo River to keep them from harassing Gen. Sherman's expedition to Meridian, Ms.. In the next two weeks, the ships pushed as far as Greenwood, Mississippi, engaging enemy troops. //// FEBRUARY 4-5TH: The USS Sassacus chased steamer Nutfield aground off New River Inlet, NC. Unable to get her off, the ship was destroyed after her cargo of quinine and Enfield rifles was recovered. //// --Old B-Runner

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Other Ships Lost off North Carolina's Coast in February

From NC WreckDiving site. //// Feb. 2nd 1864: USS UNDERWRITER by New Bern //// Feb. 7th, 1862: CSS CURLEW off Roanoke Island //// February 10th, 1862: CSS SEA BIRD, CSS APPOMATTOX, CSS FANNY, CSS FORREST CSS BLACK WARRIOR by Elizabeth City, destroyed to prevent capture. //// Feb. 25, 1862: R.B. FORBES Federal steamer off Currituck Banks. //// --Old B-R'er

Early February 1864 a Particularly Bad Time for Blockade-Runners Near NC's Cape Fear River

From the NC WreckDiving site. //// Six blockade-runners were lost between Feb. 1-9, 1864, near Wilmington, NC, an extremely high number with February 9th especially bad with three lost. //// Feb. 1st: WILD DAYRELL at Stump Inlet //// Feb. 4th: NUTFIELD at New River Inlet //// Feb. 6th: DEE off Cape Fear River //// Feb. 9th: FANNY & JENNY by Wrightsville Beach //// Feb. 9th: EMILY OF LONDON by Wrightsville Beach //// Feb. 9th: SPUNKIE by the Cape Fear River. //// Hey, Those Are My Ships!! --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

150 Years Ago-- February 2-4, 1864

FEBRUARY 2-4, 1864: Blockade-runner Presto was discovered ashore under the batteries of Fort Moultrie in Charleston Harbor. Three monitors fired on it for three days until they were satisfied it was completely destroyed. //// --Old B-R'er

Daring Confederate Raid: USS Underwriter Captured and Destroyed-- Part 2

Unable to move the Underwriter because the steam wasn't up, Wood destroyed her under fire of nearby Union batteries (New Bern was an occupied town). //// He later wrote Col. Lloyd J. Beall, Commandant of the Confederate Marine Corps, commending the Marines who had taken part in the expedition: "Though their duties were more arduous than those of the others, they were always prompt and ready for the performance of all they were called upon to do. As a body they would be a credit to any organization, and I will be glad to be associated with them on duty at any time." //// Lt. George W. Gift, CSN, who took part in what Secretary Mallory termed "this brilliant exploit," remarked: "I am all admiration for Wood. he is modesty personified, conceives boldly and executes with skill and courage." //// Quite a Feat. --Old B-Runner

Monday, February 3, 2014

Daring Confederate Raid: USS Underwriter Captured and Destoyed-- Part 1

FEBRUARY 2, 1864: Early in the morning, a Confederate boat expedition planned and boldly led by Commander John Taylor Wood, CSN, captured and destroyed the 4-gun sidewheel steamer USS Underwriter, Acting Master Jacob Westervelt, anchored in the Neuse River near New Bern, North Carolina. //// The boats used by the Confederates had been shipped by rail from Petersburg, Va., to Kinston, NC, and from there started down the Neuse. Wood, grandson of President Taylor and nephew of Jefferson Davis, silently approached the Underwriter about 2:30 a.m. and was within 100 yards of the gunboat before being spotted. //// Underwriter's guns could not be brought to bear on Wood and his men quickly boarded and took her in hand-to-handcombat, during which, Westervelt was killed. //// More to Come. --Old B-Runner

Saturday, February 1, 2014

150 Years Ago-- February 1st-2nd, 1864: Capture of USS Underwriter

FEBRUARY 1ST, 1864: Army expedition assisted by Navy was driven off by Confederates near Smithfield, Virginia, with loss of Army gunboat Smith Briggs. //// USS Sassacus captured blockade-runner Wild Dayrell aground at Stump Inlet, NC. He was unable to float her, so burned it. //// FEBRUARY 2ND: U.S. Tug Geranium captured eight members of the Confederate Torpedo Corps off Fort Moultrie in Charleston Harbor while they were attempting to remove stores from a grounded blockade-runner. //// Also this date, in a daring morning attack, a Confederate boat expedition led by Cmdr. John Taylor Wood, CSN, captured the USS Underwriter anchored in the Neuse River near New Bern. I'll write about it Monday. //// --Old B-R'er

150 Years Ago-- January 31, 1864

JANUARY 31ST, 1864: The Union is planning the joint Army-Navy Red River Campaign. General Sherman wants General Banks to have a three-pronged attack: Little Rock to Shreveport; Opelousas to Alexandria and Red River and said Admiral Porter would have his gunboats ready by March 1st. //// An expedition of 40 sailors and 350 soldiers with a 12-pdr. howitzer under Lt. Cmdr. Flusser marched inland from Roanoke River and held the North Carolina town of Windsor for several hours and returned without a single shot being fired by the rebels. //// --Old B-Runner