Fort Fisher

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

Monday, June 30, 2014

Action At Mobile: Grounding and Destruction of Blockade-Runner Ivanhoe

JUNE 30TH, 1864:  The USS Glasgow forced blockade running steamer Ivanhoe to run aground near Fort Morgan at Mobile Bay.  Because the steamer was under the fort's guns, Farragut tried to have it destroyed by long-range fire from the USS Metacomet and USS Monongahela.  This proved unsuccessful.

Farragut then authorized his Flag Lieutenant, J. Crittenden Watson to lead a boat expedition to burn the Ivanhoe.

Under the cover of darkness and guns of the fleet, Watson led four boats to the Ivanhoe and set fire to it shortly after midnight 6 July.

Farragut reported "The admiral commanding has much pleasure in announcing to the fleet, what was anxiously looked for last night by hundreds, the destruction of the blockade runner ashore under the rebel batteries by an expedition of boats....the entire conduct of the expedition was marked by a promptness and energy which shows what may be expected of such officers and men on similar occasions."

--Old B-R'er

Farragut Wants Monitors to Fight the CS Tennessee

JUNE 30TH, 1864: Immediately upon assuming command of the West Gulf Blockading Squadron, Rear Admiral Farragut began requesting monitors for his inevitable fight against the CSS Tennessee at Mobile Bay, Alabama. Earlier in June, Secretary Welles had written Porter of the matter: "It is of the greatest importance that some of the new ironclads building on the Mississippi should be sent without fail to Rear Admiral Farragut.  Are not some of them ready?  Id not, can you not hurry them forward?"

Porter responded that the light draft monitors USS Winnebago and Chickasaw were completed, and this date he had issued orders to report to Farragut at Mobile Bay.  Both played a big role in the August battle.

--Old B-Runner

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Fighting at Deep Bottom on the James River

JUNE 29-30, 1864:  Converted ferry boat USS Hunchback and single-turreted monitor USS Saugus bombard Confederate batteries at Deep Bottom on the James River and caused their eventual with drawal.

Rear Admiral Lee reported: "The importance of holding our position at deep Bottom is obvious.  Without doing so our communications are cut there, and our wooden vessels cannot remain above that point, and the monitors would be alone and exposed to the enemy's light torpedo craft from above and out of Four Mile Creek.

"The enemy would then plant torpedoes there to prevent the monitors passing by for supplies."

Evidently, Deep Bottom was behind the Union forward ships.

--Old B-R'er

150 Years Ago-- June 26th-27th, 1864

JUNE 26TH:  USS Norfolk Packet captured sloop Sarah Mary off Mosquito Inlet, Florida, with cargo of cotton.

JUNE 27TH:  USS Proteus seized British blockade running steamer Jupiter northwest of Man-of-War Cay, Bahamas.  Her cargo had been thrown overboard.

USS Nipsic captured sloop Julia off Sapelo Sound,Georgia, with cargo of salt.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Cushing's At It Again-- Part 3: Porter Congratulates Him

Rear Admiral Porter, still commanding out on western waters, was impressed with William Cushing's expedition and later wrote: "There was not a more daring adventure than this in the whole course of the war.  There were ninety-nine chances in a hundred that Cushing and his party would be killed or captured, but throughout all his daring scheme there seemed to be a method, and, though criticized as rash and ill-judged, Cushing returned unscathed from his frequent expeditions, with much important information.

"In this instance it was a great source of satisfaction to the blockading vessels to learn that the 'Raleigh' was destroyed, and that the other iron-clad was not considered fit to cross the bar."

In other words, the Wilmington ironclads were no longer considered a threat.  Porter would later command William Cushing in his attacks on Fort Fisher.

--Old B-Runner

Follow Up on the CSS Alabama: Honors for Winslow

For Union Captain John Winslow of the USS Kearsarge, the victory was well deserved and rewarding.  Throughout the North, news of the Alabama's end was greeted with jubilation and relief.

  Secretary Welles wrote Winslow: "I congratulate you for your good fortune in meeting tehAlabama, which had so long avoided the fastest ships of the service...for the ability displayed in the contest you have the thanks of the Department....The battle was so brief, the victory so decisive, and the comparative results so striking that the country will be reminded of the brilliant actions of our infant Navy, which have been repeated and illustrated in this engagement.....

"Our countrymen have reason to be satisfied that in this, as in every naval action of this unhappy war, neither the ships, the guns, nor the crews have deteriorated, but they maintain the ability and continue the renown which have ever adorned our naval annals."

Winslow received a vote of thanks from Congress, and was promoted to Commodore with his commission dated 19 July 1864, his victory day.

Great for Winslow.  --Old B-R'er

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Geographical Term: Reach

From Wikipedia.

Generally a reach is any length of a stream between two points which can be selected for any reason: gauging stations, river miles, natural features or topography.

A reach can also be an expanse of river or widening of its channel.

It can also be a straight portion of a river.

--Old B-Runner

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

So, What Is Trent's Reach on the James River

I've come across this name many times, but am unable to find out what it actually was or where it actually was.  I suppose it is somewhere near Drewry's Bluff and that a reach is some sort of a river term.  Perhaps it is a turn ij the river or a long stretch of straight-flowing water.

The CSS Nansemond was by it on several occasions.

When I look it up, I always end up with just all the Civil War fighting.

What and where is it?

--Old B-Runner

CSS Nansemond: Some More Information-- Part 2

From Wikipedia:  The Nansemond River, for whom the ship is named, is a 19.8 mile long tributary of the James River in Tidewater Virginia.  There is also a county and town by the same name.

OFFICERS ON THE CSS NANSEMOND as of October 1, 1864:  From ORN.

Charles W. Hays, Lt., commanding
E.L. Dick, Asst. Engineer
A.V. Rowe
James Turner, pilot
C.B. Bohannon, Acting Master's Mate
W.B. Littlepage

--Old B-R'er

CSS Nansemond: Some More Information-- Part 1

Frpm history.navy.mil site.

The CSS Nansemond was a 166-ton, twin-screw gunboat built at Norfolk, Virginia.  It was commissioned shortly before Norfolk fell to the Union forces and was taken up the James River where it spent the rest of its career defending Richmond.  It mounted two cannons, one fore and one aft.

In June-October, 1864, it took part in engagements at Trent's Reach, Dutch Gap and Fort Harrison.

It was burned 3 April 1865, to prevent capture and block the James River.

A LEGO model of it has been built and there is a scale model at Hampton Roads Naval Museum.

--Old B-Runner

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Loss of the USS Queen City on the White River in Arkansas

JUNE 24TH, 1864:  The USS Queen City, Acting Master Michael hickey, lying at anchor off Clarendon, Arkansas, on the White River, was attacked and destroyed in the early morning hours by two regiments of Confederate cavalry supported by artillery.

The 210-ton wooden paddle-wheeler, taken by surprise, was disabled immediately, and Hickey surrendered her.

The USS Tyler, Lt. George Bache,  attempted to retake the ship, but when within a few miles of the Queen City heard two successive explosions which proved to be the ship blowing up.

Confederate General Shelby, upon hearing that Tyler was coming had blown her up.

Bache proceeded with the USS Fawn and Naumkeag to Clarendon and engaged the Confederate batteries hotly for 45 minutes.  The Naumkeag managed to recapture one howitzer and several crewmen from the Queen City as the Confederates fell back from the riverbank.

--Old B-R'er

Cushing's At It Again-- Part 2

Lt. William Cushing's report continued: "Nine steamers passed in all, three of them being fine, large blockade runners."  His group captured a fishing party and a courier, gaining valuable intelligence on river obstructions and fortifications.  The night of the 24th, he and his group returned to the Union fleet after being discovered and hotly pursued.

Only Cushing's ingenuity enabled the Union sailors to throw the Confederates off track and cross the bar to safety.  As late as the 28th, the Confederates were still searching for Cushing and his men.

Cushing received a letter of commendation for this action from Secretary Welles, but called special attention to his officers Acting Ensign J.E. Jones and Acting Master's Mate Howarth whom he selected "because of their uniform enterprise and bravery."  he also singled out David Warren, coxswain, William Wright, yeoman and John Sullivan, seaman, who were awarded Medals of Honor for their part in the expedition.

A Brave and Daring Cushing.  --Old B-Runner

Monday, June 23, 2014

Cushing's At It Again-- Part 1

JUNE 23-24TH, 1864:  Lieutenant William Cushing and 17 men from his ship, the USS Monticello, reconnoitered the Cape Fear River to within three miles of Wilmington, NC.

They rowed past the batteries guarding the western bar on the night of the 23rd, and despite three narrow escapes pulled safely ashore below Wilmington as day dawned on the 24th.

The expedition's goal was to obtain information about the CSS Raleigh, which Cushing was unaware had been wrecked after the engagement on 6 May.  He learned on this sortie that the ram had been "indeed, destroyed, and nothing now remains of her above the water."

He also collected a lot more information.  The CSS Yadkin, 300-ton flagship of Flag Offiver Lynch, "mounted only two guns, did not seem to have many men."  Ironclad sloop CSS North Carolina was at anchor off Wilmington; she "would not stand long against a monitor."

And, he Found Out More.  --Old B-Runner

CSS Nansemond

From wrecksite.com site

Saturday, I wrote about a ship named the CSS Nansemond taking part in the somewhat attack on Union ships in the James River.  I had never heard of a CSS Nansemond, but was aware of a USS Nansemond.  Had this one been captured by the Confederates?  Well, I had to do some more research.

The CSS Nansemond was a Maury-class 166 ton, wooden gunboat built by the Confederacy mounting two 8-inch pivot guns.

It was a part of the Confederate James River Fleet, consisting of the CSS Beaufort, Hampton, Roanoke, Shrapnel, Torpedo and ironclads Richmond, Fredericksburg and Virginia II which were deliberately sunk in the James River near Drewry's Bluff or Chaffin's Bluff to prevent capture and block the river.

Most were set on fire and blew up when the fire reached the magazines.

The Beaufort was later raised and pressed into Union service as the USS Beaufort.  The Torpedo was raised in 1865.

Then, There Was the Question of the Nansemond's Flag Which Led to a Medal of Honor.    --Old B-R'er

150 Years Ago-- June 22-23, 1864: Tecumseh Begins Last Operation

JUNE 22ND, 1864:  The USS Lexington withstood a surprise attack on White River Station, Arkansas, forcing the attacking Confederates to withdraw.

JUNE 23RD. 1864:  The monitor USS Tecumseh was ordered to proceed to sea "as soon as practicable" by  Rear Admiral Lee.  The monitor was to depart the James River, where she had been since April, and to deploy under secret orders that were not to be opened until "you discharge your pilot."  The Tecumseh had been ordered to join Farragut off Mobile Bay and would be sunk in August.

--Old B-Runner

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Confederate Ironclads Attack on James River...Sort Of

JUNE 21ST, 1864:  A joint Confederate Army-Navy long range bombardment opened on the Union squadron in the James River at Trent's and Varina Reaches.  Flag Officer Mitchell's fleet included his flagship, the CSS Virginia II and CSS Fredericksburg, both ironclads, and gunboats Hampton, Nansemond and Drewry, small steamer Roanoke and tug Beaufort.  The ironclad CSS Richmond suffered an incident  getting underway and had to be towed upriver

The Virginia II soon suffered engine failure which kept it out of action as well.

The Union monitors and gunboats concentrated their fire on the Confederate Army shore batteries during the exchange, neither fleet suffered serious damage.

Trying to Drive the Feds Off the James.  --Old B-Runner

Farragut Reflects On the Upcoming Mobile Operation

JUNE 21ST, 1864:  To Rear Admiral Farragut, his operation to take Mobile Bay, Alabama was both a tactical and strategic event and an encounter which was going to pit the new against the old in naval warfare.

Reflecting on the relative strengths of his and Confederate Admiral Buchanan's fleet, he wrote:  "The question has to be settled: iron versus wood; and there never was a better chance to settle the question of the sea-going qualities of iron-clad ships."

Come on, Admiral, the question of iron vs. wood had been pretty well settled at Hampton Roads back in 1862.

--Old B-R'er

150 Years Ago-- June 20-21, 1864

JUNE 20TH, 1864:  USS Morse and Cactus engaged and drove off Confederate batteries which had opened fire on Union Army supply wagons near White House, Virginia.  Rear Admiral Lee reported: "Deserters afterwards reported that a force estimated at 10,000 of Wade Hampton and Fitzhugh Lee's cavalry intended attacking our trains, but were deterred from the attempt by the fire of the gunboats.  The next day the USS Shokokon broke up an attack on Union Army transport Eliza Hancox at Cumberland Point, Virginia.

The Navy to the Rescue.  Must Be Nice to Have Control of the Rivers.

JUNE 20-24TH, 1864:  Iron screw steamer USS Calypso and wooden side wheeler Nansemond transported and aided Union Army expedition in the vicinity of New River, NC.  The object was to cut the Wilmington & Weldon railroad, but Confederates had learned of the attempt and compelled the troops to board the ships and leave.

This railroad's strategic importance made it the target of many Union attempts to destroy it.

--Old B-Runner

Friday, June 20, 2014

The Spectacular Career of the CSS Alabama and Raphael Semmes

The spectacular career of the Confederacy's most famous raider was closed yesterday, 150 years ago.

Before his last battle, Semmes reminded his men:  "You have destroyed, and driven for protection under neutral flags, one-half of the enemy's commerce, which, at the beginning of the war, covered every sea."

The Alabama had captured and burned at sea 55 Union merchantmen valued at over four and one half million dollars, and had bonded ten others to the value of 562 thousand dollars.

Another prize, the Conrad, was commissioned the CSS Tuscaloosa, and herself struck at Northern shipping.

Flag Officer Barron lamented: "It is true that we have lost our ship; the ubiquitous gallant Alabama is no more, but we have lost no honor."

--Old B-R'er

Confederate European Affairs

JUNE 20TH, 1864:  Secretary Mallory wrote Flag Officer Barron in Paris:  "I am surprised at the expression of your opinion that a battery for a certain vessel can not be purchased in England, because her laws permit the exportation of guns and ordnance stores daily, and no system of espionage, it would seem, could prevent the shipment for one port and their being landed at another, or placed at another on board the ship awaiting them.

"Could they not be shipped for any port in the United States, in the Mediterranean, China, Brazil, or Austria, and carried to a given rendezvous"  They will involve the carter of a steamer, or other vessel, and be thereby expensive; but such expense is not to be compared for a moment with the risks of her attempting, unarmed, to reach the Confederacy, watched as she is."

This procedure had been used before successfully in the case of the CSS Alabama.

Not sure which ship they were referring to in this case.

--Old B-Runner

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The End of the CSS Alabama-- Part 4: The End

Southern casualties were heavy and mounting as both ships fought valiantly.  Semmes wrote: "After the lapse of about an hour and ten minutes, our ship was ascertained to be in a sinking condition, the enemy's shells having exploded in our side, and between decks, opening large apertures through which the water rushed with great rapidity.

"For some few minutes I had hopes of being able to reach the French coast, for which purpose I gave the ship all steam, and set such of the fore and aft sails as were available.

"The ship filled so rapidly, however,that before we had made much progress, the fires were extinguished in the furnaces, and we were evidently at tne point of sinking.  I now hauled down my colors to prevent further destruction of life and dispatched a boat to inform the enemy of our condition."

The Alabama settled stern first and her bow raised high in the air.  Boats from the Kearsarge and French boats rescued the survivors.  The English yacht Deerhound, owned by John Lancaster, picked up Captain Semmes with 13 of his officers and 27 crew members and carried them to Southampton.

All Over Now.  --Old B-R'er

The End of the CSS Alabama-- Part 3: Unfortunate Shot

One shell from the Alabama lodged in the Kearsarge's stern post, but failed to explode.  John M. McKenzie, 16-years-old at the time of the battle, wrote:  "If it had exploded, the Kearsarge would have gone to the bottom instead of the Alabama.  Our ammunition was old and had lost its strength.

This shot from the Alabama which embedded in the Kearsarge's stern post but failed to explode was presented to president Lincoln and is now on display at the Naval History Display Center in Washington, D.C..  A wire mesh covers it and the stern post to support the old artifacts.

Things Could Have Been Very Different.  --Old B-Runner

The End of the CSS Alabama-- Part 2: Battle Engaged

The Alabama mounted 8 guns to te Kearsarge's 7, yet Captain Winslow of the Kearsarge enjoyed a heavier broadsode including two heavy XI-inch Dahlgren guns while Semmes' only heavy gun was an VIII-inch.  

Another big plus for the Union ship was its superior ammunition as the Alabama's had  deteriorated during its long cruise.  In addition, Winslow had protected the sides of his ship and vital machinery with heavy chains from topside to below the waterline.

The ships closed to one and a half miles where Semmes opened the action with a starboard broadside.  Within minutes the two ships were engaged in circling each other and firing their starboard batteries.  Lt. Sinclaor, CSN, wrote that Semmes should have tried to close in and board the Kearsarge and rely on his crew's superior physique to turn the day.

Shot and shell from the Kearsarge crashed into the Alabama's hull, while the Alabama's return fuire caused only minor damage thanks to the chain armor.

Battle Engaged.  --Old B-R'er

The End of the CSS Alabama-- Part 1: Coming Out

JUNE 19TH, 1864:

It was a beautiful day and a must-see thing.  People from all over France gathered at the heights above Cherbourg to see the anticipated battle between the famous CSS Alabama that had been spreading terror amongst Union commerce at sea and the USS Kearsarge, the ship which had "called the Alabama out."

Several French luggers (ships) were out as was an English steam yacht, the Deerhound.

The Alabama's commander, Captain Raphael Semmes wrote: "Everything being in readiness between nine and ten o'clock, we got underway, and proceeded to sea, through the western entrance to the harbor; the Couronne [French ironclad] following us.

"As we emerged from behind the mole, we discovered the Kearsarge at a distance between six and seven miles from land.  She had been appraised of our intention of coming out this morning, and was waiting for us.

Sail On Alabama.  --Old B-Runner

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

First Steps to Building Hunley Museum Taken

From the May 20, 2014, Charleston (SC) Post and Courier "Hunley Museum Authority formed, tasked with planning, financing" by Cynthia Roldan.

This is the first step towards building a permanent museum which will be built along the Cooper River inside the oldf Navy base where the submarine is now.

It is expected to cost at least $40 million.

The decision to build a museum was made in 2004, but not much was done because the Hunley was still undergoing major conservation which will last for another five to seven years.

--Old B-R'er

The End of the CSS Alabama Tomorrow

Captain Raphael Semmes definitely bit off more than he could chew when he sailed out of Cherbourg, France 150 years ago tomorrow and took on the USS Kearsarge.

--Old B-Runner

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Joint Expedition to NC's Pamlico River

JUNE 16TH, 1864:  A minor joint Army-Navy expedition left New Bern NC under Acting Lt.Graves of the USS Louisiana.  he had a detachment of sailors from his ship and a dozen soldiers.  They embarked on the Army transport Ella May and were accompanied by the small sidewheeler USS Ceres.

Near the mouth of the Pamlico River they captured the schooners Iowa, Mary Emma and Jenny Lind and destroyed two others.

The USS Valley City joined them and they spent five more days on the Pamlico River before returning to New Bern on June 23.

--Old B-R'er

150 Years Ago-- June 16-17th, 1864

JUNE 16-17TH, 1864:  USS Commodore Perry shelled Fort Clifton, Virginia, at the request of General Butler.  Bombardment of Confederate defenses along the James River were almost a daily thing.

JUNE 17TH, 1864:  The CSS Florida, Lt. Morris, captured and burned the brtig W.C. Clarke bound from Machias, Maine to Mantanzas with cargo of lumber.

--Old B-Runner

Torpedo Boat Saint Patrick

From the History.Navy.mil site.

Also called the St. Patrick.  Small semi-submersible torpedo boat, privately built in Mobile in 1864.  (Jones' report made it sound like it was built at Selma.)  Operated under Confederate Army control but had naval officer in command.

Attacked the USS Octorara in Mobile Bay 28 Jan 1965, but torpedo misfired and the Union ship wasn't damaged.

The Saint Patrick was able to escape return fire and return to Mobile.

--Old B-R'er

A New Confederate Weapon: Torpedo Boat Saint Patrick

JUNE 16TH, 1864:

Commander Catesby ap R. Jones, commandant of the Confederate Naval Gun Foundry and ordnance Works at Selma, Alabama, wrote General Dabney H. Maury at Mobile that the submersible torpedo boat Saint Patrick, built by John P. Halligan, would be launched "in a few days."  

He added:  "It combines a number of ingenious contrivances, which, if experiments show that they will answer the purposes expected, will render the boat very formidable.  It is propelled by steam (the engine is very compact), though under water by hand.

"There are also arrangements for raising or descending at will, for attaching  the torpedo to the bottom of vessels, etc.  Its first field of operation will be Mobile Bay, and I hope you may soon have evidence of its success."

Although the Confederacy hoped to take the Saint Patrick against the Union forces off Mobile as the submarine H.L. Hunley had operated earlier in the year off Charleston, but delay after delay made it not until January 1865 that the ship was operational.

Another Thing for Farragut to Worry About.  --Old B-Runner


Monday, June 16, 2014

Semmes Sees the USS Kearsarge

JUNE 16TH, 1864:  Captain Semmes of the CSS Alabama, wrote Flag Officer Barron in Paris:  "The position of the Alabama here has been somewhat changed since I wrote you.  The enemy's steamer, the Kearsarge, having appeared off this port, and being but very little heavier, if any in her armament than myself, I have deemed it my duty to go out and engage her.

"I have therefore withdrawn my application to go into dock, and am engaged in coaling ship."

Don't Do It Raphael!!  --Old B-Runner

Friday, June 13, 2014

Union Sailor Gets Grave Headstone-- Part 2

John Timlin Sr. returned from the Civil War and lived in Rosebank, attending St. Mary catholic Church and was a volunteer fireman.  He was very active in the Grand Army of the Republic's Robert Gould Shaw Post 112.

There was nothing in the article about why he had no marker on his grave.

JoAnne Nolemi's cousin Stephen Timlin, Sr. was the one actually responsible for locating Timlin's grave after beginning to research family history in  the 1970s.  In 1977, his father, Stephen L. Timlin, born in Rosebank in 1908, took him back for a visit which got him interested.

He did some research through church records as well as the cemetery register and found the grave.

--Old B-Runner

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Union Sailor Gets Grave Headstone-- Part 1

From the June 7, 2014, Staten Island Live site "Staten Island Civil War Veteran lies in unmarked grave no longer" by Virginia M. Sherry.

JoAnne Nolemi and her extended family were at St. Mary's Cemetery to commemorate her maternal great-great grandfather, John Timlin Sr. who lived in Rosebank in Staten Island.

He was buried in an unmarked grave for almost a century  beside his wife Ann Dayly, five infant children and his son John Timlin Jr..

Nolemi, a Rosebank resident drove past the cemetery many times without knowing that her family history was there.  John Timlin Sr. was born in Ireland in 1947 in County Menth and arrived in New Tork City with his parents in 1851.  The family settled in Rosebank.

During the Civil War, he served on the USS Union.  (Unfortunately, that is all the article had to say about his Civil War  service.)

--Old B-Runner

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Action on Western Rivers

JUNE 15TH, 1864:  Confederate artillery opened fire in the early morning on wooden-sidewheeler USS General Bragg (a Union ship with a Confederate general's name?) at Como landing, Louisiana.  The Bragg forced them to move to Ratliff's Landing where they opened fire on the small paddle-wheel steamer USS Naiad.

The USS Winnebago, a double-turreted river monitor, heard the gunfire and hove into sight and the combined firepower of the three ships temporarily silenced the field battery.  The next day, the Bragg was again taken under fire by Confederate guns and another spirited engagement ensued, during which a shot disabled the Bragg's engine.

--Old B-Runner

Monday, June 9, 2014

150 Years Ago-- June 11-14th, 1864: Kearsarge On Her Way

JUNE 11TH, 1864:  The USS Lavendar struck a shoal off North Carolina in a sever squall.  The 175-ton steamer was destroyed and nine crewmen lost before the survivors were rescued 15 June by Army steamer John Farron.

JUNE 13TH, 1864:  The USS Kearsarge, Captain Winslow, sailed from Dover, England, to blockade the CSS Alabama at Cherbourg.

JUNE 14TH, 1864:  The USS Kearsarge arrived off Cherbourg, France.  The ship's log recorded: "Found the rebel privateer Alabama lying at anchor in the roads."  The Kearsarge took up the blockade in international waters off the harbor entrance.

Captain Semmes stated: "...My intention is to fight the Kearsarge as soon as I can make the necessary arrangements.  I hope they will not detain me more than until tomorrow evening, or after the morrow morning at furthest.  I beg she will not depart before I am ready to go out."

The Kearsarge had no intention of departing.  The stage was set for the famous duel.

The USS Courier ran aground and was wrecked on Abaco Island, Bahamas.  The sailing ship's crew and supplies were saved.

--Old B-R'er

Nearing the End for the CSS Alabama

JUNE 11TH, 1864:  The CSS Alabama, Captain Semmes, badly in need of repairs, arrived at Cherbourg, France.  Lt. Sinclair, CSN, later wrote about entering this, her last port: "We have cruised from the day of commission. August 24, 1862, to June 11, 1864, and during this time have visited two-thirds of the globe, experiences all vicissitudes of climate and hardships attending constant cruising.

"We have had from first to last two hundred and thirteen officers and men on our pqyroll, and have lost not one by disease, and but one by accidental death."

The Confederate Commissioner in France, John Slidell, of the Slidell and Mason Affair, assured Semmes that he anticipated no difficulty in obtaining French permission for Alabama to use docking facilities.

William L. Dayton, U.S. Minister to France, immediately protested the use of a French port by a vessel with a character "so obnoxious and so notorious."    Intelligence of te condition and strength of the Alabama was relayed by the American Vice-Consul at Cherbourg to Captain Winslow of the USS Kearsarge at Flushing at Flushing, England.

The stage is set.

What Would Semmes Think of What Dayton Said About Him?  --Old B-Runner




Saturday, June 7, 2014

150 Years Ago-- June 9-12, 1864: Blockade-Runners Captured

JUNE 9, 1864:  USS Proteus captured British schooner R.S, Hood at sea north of Little Bahama Bank.

USS Rosalie captured steamer Emma at Marco Pass, Florida.

JUNE 10TH, 1864:  USS Elk captured sloop Yankee Doodle (interesting name for a blockade-runner) by entrance to Pearl River, Mississippi Sound.

USS Union took sloop Caroline at Jupiter Inlet, Florida.

JUNE 12TH, 1864:  USS Flag captured sloop Cyclops running out of Charleston Harbor, SC.

--Old B-R'er

Mitchell Wants to Attack, Advised Against It

JUNE 9TH, 1864:  Flag Officer Mitchell, commanding the Confederate James River squadron felt menaced by the advance of Major General Butler's Union troops and by the Union fleet at Trench's Reach and wanted to attack right away.

But on this date, the other officers of his squadron advised against such an operation "under existing circumstances" saying the Union squadron was "a force equal to, if not superior to our own", that it was better supported ashore, that Southern ships were not maneuverable enough for efficient use in the narrow confines of the Reach, and that obstructions would additionally hamper their movements.

They suggested instead, sending fire rafts and floating torpedoes downriver to wreck the Union ships.

--Old B-R'er

Two Viewpoints on Capture of the USS Water Witch

JUNE 9TH, 1864:  Illustrative of the vast difference in capabilities of the two navies were the reactions North and South during the aftermath of the capture of the USS Water Witch on June 6th.

The Union fleet was concerned that she might escape to sea and attack coastal positions.  "We must try to block the Water Witch," wrote Rear Admiral Dahlgren.

The South, however, hoping to conserve this unexpected gain in strength by her capture, had no intention of risking the gunboat in such an operation.  Instead, every effort was made to bring the ship to Savannah as additional defense for the city.

This date, Flag officer William W. Hunter, CSN, wrote the Water Witch's commander, Lt. William W. Carnes:  "Keep powder enough to blow her up-- say 100 pounds--in the event the enemy may be enabled to recapture her."

The North, with free access to the sea and an abundance of material and great facilities available, could remain on the offensive, the South, in desperate need of ships and supplies, was committed to the defensive.

--Old B-Runner

Friday, June 6, 2014

A Major World War II Turning Point, D-Day 70 Years Ago

I am writing about D-Day in all my blogs today and this is an article I wrote about in all of them.

D-Day was a surprise attack designed to push Hitler's forces out of France and give the Allies a foothold on the continent.  It cost more than 1400 American lives that day and thousands more would die during the push to Berlin.

In recent years, perhaps because of the dwindling numbers, people have approached these World War II veterans and thanked them.  On last year's D-Day anniversary, the White Sox honored Hank Rossetti, a lifelong Sox fan, as their "hero of the day."

--Old B-Runner

150 Years Ago-- June 8-9th, 1864

JUNE 8TH, 1864:  The USS Chillicothe, Neosho and Fort Hindman had an expedition up the Atchafalaya River, Louisiana to silence a Confederate battery above Simmesport.  After a short engagements, the Confederates were driven off and their cannons captured.

JUNE 9TH, 1864:  Secretary Welles decided "to retire Marine officers who are past the legal age, and to bring in Zeilin as Commander of the Corps."  retirement of over-age naval and marine officers was one of the difficult administrative problems of the war.

The USS New Berne, chased blockade-running steamer Pevensey aground near Beaufort, NC, with cargo including arms, lead, bacon and clothing. She blew up shortly thereafter.

--Old B-R'er

General Louis Hebert, CSA

I came across a site for a General Louis Hebert Camp 2032, Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV).  They are based in Lafayette, Louisiana, the heart of Cajun Country and with a name like Hebert, you'd have to expect strong Cajun leanings in his family.

The camp's commander is George Michael Broussard, 1st Lt. Cmdr. is Dale Timothy Hebert and color sergeant. is Frederick Hebert.  Was there a family connection?  definitely Cajun names for all of these men.

The camp chartered in 2003.

--Old Secesh

Thursday, June 5, 2014

General Louis Hebert's Grave-- Part 3

He was reburied October 26, 2002.

He had origianally been buried at the Hebert family cemetery (obviously on land owned by his family).  That land is now under different ownership and privately held.  The owner wanted to sell the land and picked up the cost of removing the remains.  (I did not read about if there were other remains at the site.)

A  SCV member built a cypress casket and the body was moved by a mule-drawn wagon about one mile from the grave to the church in Cecilia.  The remains had been removed from the grave and put in the casket the day before.

It had rained quite hard earlier in the day and a slight drizzle continued during the reburial service.

Participants in the service were heard to say "it wasn't very often you could bury a general."

--Old B-R'er

General Louis Hebert's Grave-- Part 2: The General Makes a Move

From the October 30, 2002, Teche News, St. Martinville, Louisiana.  From Acadians in Gray.

Members of the SCV General Franklin Gardner Camp gave a full military graveside honors to Confederate General Louis Hebert who was reinterred in St. Joseph Cemetery in Cecilia this past Saturday.

His remains were removed from a rural burial site along Bayou Teche to the church cemetery.

--Old B-Runner

General Louis Hebert's Grave-- Part 1

From Find-A-Grave.

I wrote about Louis Hebert last week.

Even though the general was in the army, he was stationed at Wilmington, NC, toward the end of the war, hence that is why I write about him in my Navy Blog.

According to the Find-A-Grave site, he is buried at the Hebert Family Cemetery at Cecilia, St. Martin Parish, Louisiana.

The accompanying photo of the general's grave shows a cemetery that has been sadly neglected for too long.

But, There's More.  --Old B-R'er

150 Years Ago-- June 6-7th, 1864

JUNE 6TH, 1864:  The USS Louisville covered the embarkation of 8,000 Union troops near Sunnyside, Arkansas,.  They had landed on June 4th and engaged Confederate units near Bayou Macon, Louisiana and chased them off.The ship's commander wrote that: "Unless Marmaduke's forces (Confederate general), with his artillery, are driven away or destroyed, they will very much annoy navigation between Cypress bend and Sunnyside."

The USS Metacomet captured blockade-running steamer Donegal off Mobile with a large cargo of munitions.

JUNE 7TH, 1864:  The Confederate transport steamer Etiwan grounded off Fort Johnson and was sunk by Union batteries on Morris Island, in Charleston Harbor.

Suspecting that Confederates were using cotton to erect breastworks on the Suwannee River in Florida, a boat expedition from the USS Clyde and Sagamore proceeded upriver and captured over 100 bales of cotton near Clay Landing.

--Old B-Runner

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

150 Years Ago-- June 4-5, 1864: Fishing and Runners

JUNE 4TH, 1864:  The success of the CSS Tacony against shipping off New England in the previous year (June 20-27, 1863) prompted a committee in Gloucester, Massachusetts, to write Welles:  "In behalf of the citizens and businesses of this town interested in the fishing business, to ask your attention to the protection for our fishing fleet for the coming season."  Welles ordered the USS Ticonderoga to this duty.

The USS Fort Jackson captured the blockade-running steamer Thistle at sea east of Charleston.  All her cargo except a cotton press was thrown overboard in the six-hour chase.

JUNE 5TH, 1864:   The USS Keystone State seized blockade-running British steamer Siren off Beaufort, NC, with cargo including hoop iron and liquor.

--Old B-R'er

What to Do About Confederate Attacks on Western Rivers

JUNE 3RD, 1864:  In response to the increasing number of Confederate hit-and-run attacks upon river shipping on western waters, Major General Canby wrote Rear Admiral Porter offering the cooperation of land forces:  "I have ordered reserves of troops and of water transportation to be held in readiness at different points on the Mississippi, for the purpose of operating against any rebel force that may attempt to interrupt the navigation of the river.

"If you will direct naval commanders to give early notice of any movements of this kind to the commanders of the military districts, a sufficient military force can be sent at once to cooperate with gunboats in destroying or driving off the rebels."

--Old B-Runner

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Confederate Operational Problems in Europe

JUNE 3RD, 1864:  Commander Bulloch wrote Secretary Mallory about some of the difficulties he experienced as Confederate Naval Agent abroad:  "At no time since the completion of the Alabama has there been anything like money enough in hand, or within my control to pay for the ships actually under contract, and if no political complications had to delay the completion of these ships and they had been ready for delivery at the dates specified in the contracts, I should not have been able to pay for them....,

"If these were ordinary times and the agent of your department could treat openly and in person with the European governments, we could doubtless obtain very good ships from several of the Continental navies, but acting through intermediaries who care for nothing beyond their commissions, we can not get anything but the cast-off vessels of other services, which either possess some radical defect of design rendering them unfit for cruisers or are so delapidated as to be worthless."

So, in other words, a lack of money was a problem as was the fact that he had to operate through others instead of directly was another.

--Old B-Runner

Capture of USS Water Witch, 150 Years Ago-- Part 2

The USS Water Witch was a 380-ton sidewheeler, and was taken into the Vernon River and moored above the obstructions.  For Union Lt.-Cmdr. Austin Pendergrast, this was the second time he lost his ship.  As the second-in-command of the USS Congress, he had to also surrender his ship.

Confederate Secretary of the Navy Mallory wrote: "The plan and gallant execution of the enterprise reflect great credit upon all who were associated with it, and upon the service which they adorn.  The fall of Lieutenant Pelot and his gallant associates in the moment of victory, and the suffering of his companions wounded, sadden the feelings of patriotic pleasure with which this brilliant achievement is everywhere received."

--Old B-R'er

Capture of the USS Water Witch, 150 Years Ago-- Part 1

JUNE 3, 1864:  A Confederate boat expedition of 130 officers and men under the command of Lt. Thomas P. Pelot, CSN, surprised and captured the USS Water Witch, Lt. Cmdr. Austin Pendergrast, in an early morning raid odd Ossabaw Island, Georgia.

In pitch darkness at 2 a.m., Pelot silently led his men to the ship and was within 50 yards when discovered.  Before the Union sailors could man their stations, the Confederates had boarded the ship and a wild hand-to-hand fight ensued.

Rear Admiral Dahlgren noted in his diary: "The fight was hard, but brief."

The Confederates won, but Lt. Pelot and five others were killed and 17 were wounded.  Lt. Joseph Price, CSN, assumed command and said of Pelot: "In his death the country has lost a brave and gallant officer, and society one of her highest ornaments."

--Old B-Runner

Monday, June 2, 2014

Confederates Harassing Union Ships on the Rivers

JUNE 2ND, 1864:  Union gunboats convoying transports on the western rivers continued to be harassed by Confederate field artillery along the banks.    The USS Louisville sustained severe damage in a exchange of fire at Columbia, Arkansas.

The next day, at Memphis, Lt. Cmdr. John G. Mitchell of the USS Carondelet, also observed: "Not a steamer arrives here from Cairo but what has been fired upon by  gangs numbering from 12 to 100 men..

The Union warships could control the waterways, but troops on land were needed to prevent the buildup of Confederate batteries and guerrilla activity.

--Old B-R'er


150 Years Ago-- June 1, 1864: Will the Rebels Come Out?-- Action in Arkansas

JUNE 1, 1864:  Rear Admiral Dahlgren wrote in his diary off Charleston: "of the seven monitors left, two are here out of order and the Passaic no better.  The Rebels have four; wonder if they'll come out and try their luck."

The USS Exchange, a 210-ton wooden paddle-wheeler got into a hot engagement with two Confederate batteries on the Mississippi River bear Columbia, Arkansas and received serious damage.

--Old B-Runner