Fort Fisher

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

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Action On James River

SEPTEMBER 29- OCTOBER 1:  Ships of the Confederate James River Squadron, Flag Officer Mitchell, supported Southern troops in attacks against Fort Harrison, Chaffin's Farm, James River, Virginia.  Though Confederates were unable to retake Fort Harrison, with the aid of heavy fire from Mitchell's ships, they did prevent Union soldiers from capturing Chaffin's Bluff.

--Old B-R'er

Blockade-Runner Night Hawk Destroyed Off Fort Fisher

DECEMBER 29-30, 1864:  The USS Niphon forced blockade-running British steamer aground off Fort Fisher and burned her.  Late on 29 September, Niphon fired upon Night Hawk as she attempted to run into New Inlet, and observed her go aground.

A boat crew led by Acting Ensign Semon boarded the steamer, and, under fire from Fort Fisher, set her ablaze and brought off her crew as prisoners.  Ensign Semon's conduct on the occasion became the subject of a diplomatic note from the British Ambassador, the latter charging cruel treatment of the officers of the Night Hawk and a premature burning of the ship.


Semon was subsequently cleared of all implications of misconduct by a court of inquiry.

--Old B-Runner

Monday, September 29, 2014

Steamer Roanoke Seized by Confederates

SEPTEMBER 29, 1864:  The steamer Roanoke, bound for New York from Havana, was captured by Confederates under Acting Master John C. Braine, CSN, just off the Cuban coast.  Braine's actions caused the Richmond government concern and embarrassment, since the expedition was organized and carried out from the neutral port of Havana. (This was the second Union ship seized by Braine in like manner.)

The resourceful and audacious Braine had outlined his plan to Secretary Mallory earlier in the year, and the secretary had given his approval, with the stipulation that neutral rights were to be strictly observed.  With that understanding, Braine was commissioned a temporary acting master.

Instead of boarding the vessel as a passenger in New York, however, he chose to capture her in Havana.  With a small group of Confederates, he was able to overcome the ship's officers and take over the ship, steering her for Bermuda.

After attempting to smuggle supplies and coal from  Bermuda, unsuccessfully, he determined that the fine steamer could not be taken through the blockade to the Confederacy and the Roanoke was burned off Bermuda.

Braine was held by the British but subsequently released, and was to be heard from again.

Wait and See.  --Old B-Runner

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Porter's Parting Words to the Mississippi Squadron

SEPTEMBER 28, 1864:  Rear Admiral Porter, on his detachment from command of the Mississippi Squadron, wrote a farewell to his officers and men, in which he reflected on the far-reaching accomplishments of naval power on the western waters:

"When I first assumed command of this squadron the Mississippi was in possession of the rebels from Memphis to New Orleans, a distance of 800 miles, and over 1,000 miles of tributaries were closed against us, embracing a territory larger than some of the kingdoms of Europe.

"Our commerce is now successfully, if not quietly, transported on the broad Mississippi from one end to the other, and the same may almost be said with regard to its tributaries."

Porter, who was to be relieved by Rear Admiral S.P. Lee, soon proceeded to Hampton Roads where he assumed command of the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron, and turned his attentions to the capture of Wilmington.

--Old B-Runner

CSS Florida, Again

SEPTEMBER 26TH, 1864:  The CSS Florida, Lt. Morris, captured the bark Mondamin off the northeastern coast of South America.

SEPTEMBER 27TH, 1864:  The USS Arkansas captured the schooner Watchful in the Gulf of Mexico south of Barataria Bay, Louisiana.  The Watchful carried a cargo of lumber and arms.

--Old B-R'er

Another Recon of Masonboro Inlet, NC

Acting Ensign Elamson Semon made his second reconnaissance expedition to Masonboro Inlet and Wilmington, North Carolina, gathering more important information concerning blockade-runners, the defensive dispositions of forces in the area, and made arrangements to procure pilots for the upcoming operation against Wilmington.

He learned for the first time that the CSS North Carolina, one of the ironclads built for the defense of Wilmington, had sunk at her pier at Smithville (Southport today).  her bottom was eaten out by worms.  The North Carolina drew too much water to pass over the bars at the mouth of the Cape Fear River, and had spent most all of her short career at Smithville.

I am wondering about how Semon would obtain pilots if they were Southerners?

Getting Ready for the Attack.  --Old B-Runner

Friday, September 26, 2014

Whiting Wants Tallahassee and Chickamauga Retained at Wilmington

SEPTEMBER 26TH, 1864:  Major General Whiting, CSA, Confederate commander at Wilmington, wrote North Carolina Governor Vance that the CSS Tallahassee and Chickamauga be retained at Wilmington for the defense of that port:  "The Confederate steamers Tallahassee and Chickamauga are now nearly ready for sea, and will leave this port for the purpose of operating against the enemy's commerce.

"Should they leave on this service the few vessels they might destroy would be of little advantage to our cause, while it will incite the enemy to increase the number of the blockading squadron to such an extent as to render it almost impossible for vessels running the blockade to escape them."

Notwithstanding these objections, this one and the one two days earlier from Lee, the raiders went out to sea.

Trying to Get All the Support They Can.  --Old B-Runner

The Union Canal on the James River

SEPTEMBER 26TH, 1864:  As Union forces continued to work on their canal at Dutch Gap in the James River to bypass obstructions at Trent's Reach, senior Confederate officers were becoming increasingly concerned.

Major General George Pickett wrote from Chesterfield: "If they wish to complete the canal, they will be compelled to occupy this bank of the river; any attempt to do this ought to be prevented by the gunboats."

Robert E. Lee, concurred, adding: "The navy can readily prevent the enemy from crossing the river at the point indicated by General Pickett, if an understanding be come to by which they shall move promptly to the spot upon being notified of the existence of danger."

Flag Officer Mitchell, commander of the Confederate James River Squadron of whom the generals were speaking, commented four days later:  "I have offered repeatedly to the commanding generals on both sides of the James River to cooperate with them, and shall always be happy to answer any call for this purpose, and feel thankful for any information which will enable the squadron to move promptly when its service can be useful."

Obviously, the Confederate generals do not think the Navy is doing its job.

--Old B-Runner

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Destruction of Blockade-Runner Lynx Off Wilmington 150 Years Ago Today

SEPTEMBER 25TH, 1864:  The USS Howquah, Niphon and Governor Buckingham chased ashore and destroyed the steamer Lynx off Wilmington with cargo of cotton  The three Union steamers were fired upon by the Lynx and Confederate shore batteries.  (I didn't know blockade-runners had cannons.)

Acting Lt. John W. Balch reported: "...one 30-pounder percussion shell struck the main rail on the starboard bow, cutting it through, also striking the forward end of the 30-pounder pivot carriage, cutting the breech in two and disabling the carriage, glancing over, striking the main rail on the port side, and falling on the deck (I have the shot now on board.

"Fortunately, this shell did not explode."

The Lynx sustained several close-range broadsides and was run ashore in flames, where she continued to burn throughout the night until consumed.

--Old B-Runner

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Tallahassee Cruise Made Wilmington More of a Target

SEPTEMBER 24TH, 1864:  General Robert E. Lee wrote secretary of War Seddon of another dilemma posed by the South's weakness at sea:  "Since the fitting out of the privateer Tallahassee and her cruise from the port of Wilmington, the enemy's fleet of blockaders off that coast has been very much increased, and the dangers of running the blockade rendered much greater.

"The question arises whether it is of more importance to us to obtain supplies through that port or to prey upon the enemy's commerce by privateers sent from thence.... It might be well, therefore, if practicable, to divert the enemy's attention from Wilmington Harbor and keep it open as long as possible as a port of entry.

"While it is open the energies...should be exerted...to get in two or three years' supplies so as to remove all apprehension on this score."

Lee Is Worrying About Wilmington.  --Old B-R'er

Operation in Virginia

SEPTEMBER 24, 1864:  The wooden steamer USS Fuchsia and sidewheelers Thomas Freeborn and Mercury proceeded to Milford Haven, Virginia, near where Confederates were believed to be preparing a number of boats to attack the blockading force at the mouth of the Piankatank River.

Reaching Stutt's Creek they went 3 miles upstream and landed a force of 40 sailors who destroyed four Confederate boats, captured five and demolished a fishery.

--Old B-Runner

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Care for Wounded Confederates on Wilmington & Weldon Railroad-- Part 2

"We are informed that the connection at Weldon (where the soldiers are transferred from the Virginia railroad) is so close, that little opportunity is given for bestowing upon the soldiers the attention they so much need.  We think, however, from what we have heard, that something in the arrangements might be considerably improved with a slight expenditure of additional attention.

"We know the people along the line--at least we think we do, and we believe they are as much devoted to the cause, and as willing to do all that can be done for the suffering soldiers as any people in the Confederacy.  If there be  any want unsupplied, any omission made, it is only necessary that it should be pointed out to them."

These soldiers would be among the many casualties from U.S. Grant's Overland Campaign in Virginia.

--Old B-Runner

Care for Wounded Confederates on Wilmington & Weldon Railroad-- Part 1

From the UNC Library Civil War Day By Day blog.  From an editorial in the Wilmington (N.C.) Daily Journal, June 11, 1864.

The Wilmington & Weldon railroad, besides being a major conduit of supplies from Wilmington (run through the blockade) and the state to Virginia, was also used for movement of troops and casualties.  This was about the care the wounded coming from Virginia might receive.

"The time at which a train from Weldon (by the Virginia border) to Wilmington passes the most important points on the Railroad, renders it almost impossible for the wounded soldiers to receive the attention which would not other wise be withheld from them.

"As, for instance, we understand that a train which reaches Wilmington at 9 or 9 1/2 a.m., passes Goldsboro about 2 a.m., Warsaw and Magnolia about 4 1/2 or 5 a.m., hours at which ladies could hardly venture out."

What to Do.  --Old B-R'er

USS Violet

Some more info on the ship sunk by the Cape Fear River in Wilmington, N.C..  From Civil War Shipwrecks.

The wreckage of the tug USS Violet was probably removed to 22-feet below mean sea level by the Army Corps of Engineers in 1893 as a navigation hazard.

Information on the sinking of it in ORN Vol. 10, pages 343-344, Series 2 1:233.

--Old B-Runner

Monday, September 22, 2014

Welles Orders Porter to North Atlantic Blockading Squadron for the Wilmington Expedition

On the same day Welles lauded Farragut, he wrote Rear Admiral Porter: "Rear Admiral Farragut was assigned to command the North Atlantic Squadron on the 5th instant, but the necessity of rest on the part of that distinguished officer renders it necessary that he should come immediately North.

"You will, therefore, on receipt of this order consider yourself detached from the command of the Mississippi Squadron...and relieve Acting Rear Admiral Lee in command of the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron."

Thus, because of Farragut's poor health, Porter was given the opportunity to prepare and lead the massive assault against the South's most important remaining seaport.

--Old B-R'er


Welles Lauds the Service of Farragut

SEPTEMBER 22, 1864:

Upon learning that Farragut's health prevented him from command of the forthcoming operations against Wilmington, Secretary Welles paid eloquent tribute to the Admiral and his accomplishments:  "In accordance with the view of the department and the universal wish of the country, the orders of the 5th instant (September 5, 1864) were given to you; but a life so precious must not be thrown away  by failing to heed the monitions which the greatest powers of physical endurance receive as a warning to rest.

"The country wi;; again call upon you, perhaps, to put the finishing blow to the rebellion."

The distinguished Admiral's service in the Civil War was over, but not before he had achieved a permanent place among the greatest naval heroes of all time.  From New Orleans to port Hudson to Mobile Bay, David Glasgow Farragut, first Admiral in the U.S. Navy, had shown the leadership, courage, intelligence, and devotion to duty which have ever since been shining examples for all who are privileged to serve the Nation at sea.

A Great One.  --Old B-Runner

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Blockade-Runner Beauregard-- Part 2

Continued from Wednesday's blog entry.

The ship is traditionally known as the General Beauregard or just Beauregard, named after the Confederate hero of Fort Sumter, Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard.

It is a well-known site as the shipwreck can be seen at low tide off the Southern Extension of Carolina Beach.  (My grandparents had a beach cottage right in front of it before Hurricane Hazel in 1954.  So, I know it well."

The wreck's steam machinery is intact with paddle-wheel shaft and hull remaining in place.  Cooling tanks, grated cargo hatches, water tanks, a large rectangular aft boiler, bollards and a davit exist at the site.

Both bow and aft sections are broken, but removed from the wreck and are mostly covered with sand.

Smaller artifacts have been recovered, but no major salvage attempts have been made.

--Old B-Runner.

Blockade-Runner Edith Became the CSS Chickamauga

The blockade-runner Edith became the Confederate raider CSS Chickamauga, which the Union was fearing in September 1864, would make a run along the North's Atlantic Coast and wreak havoc and destruction as the CSS Tallahassee had done earlier.

It was specially commissioned and built in London and purchased by the Confederate government in 1864.

The 585-ton cruiser was constructed as the blockade-runner Edith in London in 1863 and ran the blockade into Wilmington, N.C., where it was purchased and refitted as a warship and commissioned as the CSS Chickamauga under the command of Lt. John Wilkinson, CSN.

It operated as a raider in the Atlantic during October and November 1864, capturing several Union merchant ships before returning to Wilmington where it remained until it was burned to prevent capture 25 February 1865.

--Old B-R'er

Blockade-Runner Elsie

I have written about the capture of this ship several times already month.  Some more information from the Clyde Blockade-Runners Camp 2168, Sons of Confederate Veterans, England.

The Elsie was built by John Scott & Sons of Greenock, Scotland.

Other blockade-runners built by them:

Constance
Flora II
Ivanhoe
Kenilworth
Marmion
Redgauntlet
Talisma

The Elsie is considered as one of the Clyde blockade-runners.

--Old B-Runner


Friday, September 19, 2014

Confederate Activity on Lake Erie-- Part 2

John Yates Beall and his 19 men came aboard the Philo Parsons as passengers, but soon seized the steamer and took her to Middle Bass Island, between Detroit and Sanduskey.  While there, Beall was approached by the unsuspecting steamer Island Queen, which he quickly captured and burned.

He then landed the passengers and cargoes of the two ships and proceeded with his improvised warship to Sanduskey.

Meanwhile, Commander J.C. carter of the USS Michigan discovered what Charles Cole was up to and had him and his assistant arrested.  As Beall and his men approached, the pre-arranged signals were not made.  Confronted with this development, Beall and his men reluctantly, but wisely abandoned their part in the plan and took the Philo Parsons to Sandwich, Canada, where they stripped the ship and burned it.  They then dispersed.

--Old B-R'er


Confederate Activity on Lake Erie-- Part 1

SEPTEMBER 19TH, 1864:  Confederates under Acting Master John Yates Beall captured and burned steamers Philo Parsons and Island Queen, on Lake Erie.  Captain Charles H. Cole, CSA, a Confederate secret agent in the Lake Erie region, conceived the plan and received assistance from Jacob Thompson, Southern agent in Canada, and the daring Beall.

The plan was for Cole to aid in the capture of the iron sidewheeler USS Michigan, which was then guarding the Confederate prisoners on Johnson's Island, near Sanduskey, Ohio, by befriending her officers and attempting to bribe them.

Beall was to approach with a captured steamer from the mouth of Sanduskey Bay and board the Michigan, after which the prisoners would be released and the whole force would embark on a guerrilla expedition along the lake.

--Old B-Runner

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Boat Expedition to Masonboro Inlet, N.C.

SEPTEMBER 19, 1864:  A boat expedition commanded by Acting Ensign Elamson Semon in the USS Niphon, landed at Masonboro Inlet, North Carolina, to gain intelligence on the defenses of Wilmington and the strength of its garrison.

In planning for the forthcoming attack on Wilmington, Semon also learned the raider Tallahassee was at Wilmington, along with several blockade-runners.

Getting Ready.  --Old B-R'er

Mallory to Maffitt: Destroy That Blockade-Runner If You Must

SEPTEMBER 19TH, 1864:  150 Years Ago.

Secretary of the Navy, in a telegram to Commander Maffitt in Wilmington, N.C., gave his orders regarding the new Confederate-owned blockade runners:  "It is of the first importance that our steamers should not fall into the enemy's hands.  Apart from the specific loss sustained by the country in the capture of the blockade runners, these vessels, lightly armed, now constitute the fleetest and most efficient part of his blockading force off Wilmington....

"As commanding officer of the Owl you will please devise and adopt thorough and efficient means for saving all hands and destroying the vessel and cargo whenever these measures may become necessary to prevent capture."

Indeed, as I continue making these 150-years-ago entries from "The Civil War Naval Chronology" and doing further research on captures, I keep coming across all sorts of former blockade-runners now serving in the Union navy.

The Best Way to Catch a Blockade-Runner Is to Use a Former Blockade-Runner.  --Old B-Runner

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Blockade-Runner Beauregard-- Part 1

From the Cape Fear Civil War Shipwrecks District, NRHP, Site."0001 CBB. Beauregard."

The blockade-runner Beauregard also was known by the names General Beauregard and originally was the blockade-runner Havelock.

It was built in Glasgow, Scotland in 1858 and saw use as a coastal ferry boat until it was converted into a blockade-runner in early 1863.

An iron sidewheel steamer, it was 223-feet long with a 26 1/2-foot beam and a draft was 7'6".

The Beauregard was running into New Inlet on its 17th trip when it was boxed off by the blockaders and deliberately run ashore and destroyed.  There are no reports of salvage.

--Old B-R'er


Shipwrecks in the Cape Fear Civil War Shipwrecks District

* denotes a blockade-runner

NEW INLET UNIT

Modern Greece*
CSS Raleigh
Condor*
Unknown vessel
USS Louisiana
Arabian*
USS Aster
Stormy Petrel*

LOCKWOOD'S FOLLY INLET UNIT

Elizabeth*
Bendigo*
USS Iron Age

CAROLINA BEACH UNIT

Venus*
Lynx*
Hebe*
Duro*
(Not sure why the Beauregard isn't in this unit as it is off Carolina Beach's Southern Extension.)

INDIVIDUAL WRECKS

Phantom*
Wold Dayrell*
Sophia*
Beauregard*
USS Peterhoff
Ella*
Ranger*

--Lots of Ships.  --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Confederates Buy the Sea King (Which Became the Famed Raider CSS Shenandoah)

SEPTEMBER 16TH, 1864:  Commander Bulloch wrote Secretary Mallory from Liverpool:  "The loss of the Alabama occurred just at a time when the financial condition of the Navy Department began to improve and ...I took immediate steps to look up a successor.

"I now have the satisfaction of informing you of the purchase of a fine composite ship ship, built for the Bombay trade, and just returned from her first voyage.  She is 1,160 tons builder's measurement, classed A-1...frames, beams, etc., of iron, but planked from keel to gunwhale with East Indian teak....

"My broker has had her carefully examined by one of Lloyd's inspectors, who pronounced her a capital ship in every respect.... The log of the ship shows her to be a fast sailor with canvas, for with screw up, she has made 330 miles in 24 hours by observation."

Bulloch was describing the steamer Sea King, a ship which would become renowned as the raider CSS Shenandoah.

He also informed Mallory that contracts had been let for the torpedo boats which the secretary had ordered two months before.

Things Looking Up in Europe.  --Old B-R'er

Still Confederate Warships in Mobile Bay

SEPTEMBER 15TH, 1864:  Though the Union Navy dominated Mobile Bay by now, the Confederacy still possessed several warships at Mobile itself.  Farragut informed Welles that the CSS Nashville, an ironclad which, he said, had been waiting for her plating for at least 12 months was now ready for service.

He said that it mounted "six of their heaviest rifles and has heavier backing and greater speed than the Tennessee."

Referring to the Battle of Mobile Bay the month before, Farragut added: "If she had gotten out fully equipped, the rebels would have made a stronger fight on that 5th day of August...."

The Mobile defenses also counted on the ironclads CSS Tuscaloosa and CSS Huntsville, "covered with 4 inches of iron, but I understand, very unmanageable", and three gunboats.  "I have them guarded by the two ironclads, the Winnebago and Chickasaw, and four of our gunboats."

Not Over at Mobile.  --Old B-Runner

A New Look at the Sultana Disaster-- Part 4: Last and Found

From Wikipedia.

There was an East Tennessee Sultana Survivors Association which met every April 27th until 1928, when just four remained.  The last survivor, Samuel H. Randebaugh, of Co. K, 65th Ohio, died March 4, 1931 at age 83.

The remains of the Sultana (most likely the ship) were found in 1982, 32-feet under a soybean field on the Arkansas side of the Mississippi River, about four miles from Memphis. The reason for it being found here is the constant shifting of the river.

--Old B-R'er

A New Look at the Sultana Disaster-- Part 3: Ozias Hatch and A. Lincoln's Involvemnet

Ozias Hatch was Mr. republican in the state of Illinois and a close friend of Abraham Lincoln.  He was also Reuben Hatch's brother and looked out for him.  He intervened in an earlier court martial of Reuben for being AWOL.  Ozias Hatch went to Abraham Lincoln and had the charges dropped.  Reuben then was made a quartermaster in the Union Army and later promoted to lieutenant colonel, then full colonel.

After the Sultana disaster, had Lincoln not already have been assassinated, his role in keeping Reuben Hatch might have come under scrutiny.

Of course, a major reason the Sultana was overlooked was the nation being in mourning for the fallen president.

The last Sultana survivor died in 1937.  Reuben Hatch died in 1871 at the age of 57 and refused to testify during the investigation after the tragedy.

--Old B-Runner


Monday, September 15, 2014

A New Look at the Sultana Disaster-- Part 2: Reuben Hatch's Connection and Coal Torpedoes

Reuben Hatch had a long history of fraud and underhanded dealings in his position as a quartermaster  in the Union Army.  In the Sultana's case, he is the one responsible for the serious overloading as he received $5 per enlisted man and $10 an officer for his cut with boats to send just-released prisoners home.

The Mississippi River was running high due to flooding and more steam was needed to move the Sultana upriver.  In addition, with all those extra soldiers, it was quite top heavy.  There is evidence that the Sultana's boiler was not in the best condition to begin with and the extra stress would easily have caused an explosion.

Thomas Courtney invented the coal torpedo, of which there are just four still in existence.  As the name implied, coal torpedoes looked like a lump of coal and would be hidden in a ship's coal bunkers.  Strokers would just shovel it into the boilers and then there would be an explosion.

There is no evidence that this was caused by a coal torpedo.

--Old B-R'er


A New Look at the Sultana Disaster-- Part 1: Worse Loss of Life Than the Titanic

From the PBS History Detectives Show.

There is a Sultana Descendants  Association was founded in 1987 to ensure the tragedy is not forgotten.  Most Americans know nothing about the ship which blew up and sank April 27, 1865, causing the deaths of an estimated 1,800 or more just-released Union prisoners, many from Andersonville and the majority heading home to Ohio.  The loss of life was worse than that of the Titanic.  But yet, few know about it.

What caused the explosion?  No one knows for sure.  Possibly a boiler explosion or even torpedo sabotage.

One thing known for sure, it was seriously overcrowded.  It was rated for 376 and carrying 2400 when it went down.

Then, there was this man named Reuben Hatch who was quite involved and had quite a story.

--Old B-Runner

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Farragut Still Clearing Torpedoes in Mobile Bay

SEPTEMBER 13, 1864:  Rear Admiral Farragut's sailors continued to clear the main ship channel at Mobile Bay of torpedoes such as the one that had sunk the USS Tecumseh on 5 August.  He reported to Secretary Welles that 22 torpedoes had been raised.

He added: "This part of the channel is now believed to be clear, for, though beyond doubt many more were originally anchored here, report says they have sunk over one hundred to the bottom."

Despite his efforts, Union ships would be destroyed in the vicinity of Mobile Bay by torpedoes in the months to come.

--Old B-R'er

The Interesting Story of Black Union Sailor Samuel H. Dalton-- Part 3

Samuel H. Dalton's home stands less than 200 feet from John A. Logan's birth place and still stands behind the Logan Museum.  However, his grave was unmarked in the Tower Grove Cemetery for 75 years.

This changed after the discovery of records of Murphrysboro's GAR Post 728 (colored).  The 1993-1994 Murphysboro Middle School 6th grade researched the members of the post and found Dalton's death certificate.

They published a short biography of him and ordered a memorial headstone to be placed at Murphysboro's City Cemetery.  Michael Tow chose Dalton as the subject of his Master's Thesis.

Samuel H. Dalton was one of 186,097 blacks who served in the Union military.

Quite a Life.  --Old B-Runner

The Interesting Story of Black Union Sailor Samuel H. Dalton-- Part 2

In April 1864, a Confederate battery opened fire on the Juliet, killing 15 men and the ship was badly damaged and temporarily out of action..  Samuel H. Dalton was later transferred to the USS Hastings where he served until his discharge at Cairo in December 1864.

After the war, in 1887, Dalton bought property in Murphysboro from Mary Logan, executor of her husband's estate.  John A Logan was a racist at one point and had even fathered Illinois' severe Black Codes which prohibited blacks from living in the state.  Evidently he had changed his mind for his widow to have sold property to Dalton as she would never have gone against her late husband's wishes.

--Old B-R'er

The Interesting Story of Black Union Sailor Samuel H. Dalton-- Part 1

From the Jan. 12, 2014, Murphysboro, Ill. Southern "Civil War Time Line: Dalton was a forgotten veteran" compiled by P. Michael Jones, director of the General John A. Logan Museum in Murphrysboro.

Early 20th century obituaries were not as common as they are today, but there was one for Samuel H. Dalton, who died June 7, 1920 in Murphysboro.  This man led a very interesting life.  Dalton, a black man living in a segregated world, served in the Union Navy.

He was born a slave near Richmond, Virginia, about 1839.  At the beginning of the war, he was a field hand in Bolivar County, Mississippi and technically became a free man on January 1, 1863, when Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation took place.

Actually, it was nine more months before Dalton achieved his freedom when he ran away and joined the Union Navy at White Station, Mississippi.  Afterwards, he served on the USS Juliet for seven months patrolling the Yazoo River as an escort for other ships.

--Old B-Runner

Friday, September 12, 2014

The New York Times' Opinion of the Blockade-Running Business-- Part 2: Wilmington Must Be Closed

"It is true, Admiral LEE, is good enough to telegraph an appendix to this report from Beaufort, in which he says that "the blockade is close and vigilant," but it is impossible, he avows, on dark nights to prevent its violation 'by vessels built for the purpose.'

"This would be unanswerable, but for the fact that we have had as good an opportunity to build 'vessels for the purpose' of catching these contraband merchantmen, as those who have devoted themselves to the precarious business of violating the blockade.

"If the fleet at Admiral LEE's disposal is insufficient in numbers, equipment, or in class of vessel employed, he ought to have been supplemented before this.

"The place (Wilmington) must be shut up--and shut up at once--no matter what the cost.  If it takes half the fleet or more to do the work, we repeat it must be done.  Every rebel official document shows that the conspirators depend upon keeping up their trade with Europe, as much as they depend on either of their great armies."

What the Times didn't know was that plans for capturing Wilmington were already underway in earnest and Welles had offered its command to none other than Rear Admiral Farragut.  And, as far as special ships designed to capture blockade-runners, the Union navy was availing itself of the use of captured blockade-runners converted into Union gunboats to do just this.  The Advance later became one such Union warship.

--Old B-Runner

The New York Times Opinion of the Blockade-Running Business: Some Success But Many Failures-- Part 1

From the September 13, 1864, New York Times "The Blockade-Running Business."

"The satisfaction with which we read that two noted blockade-runners, the Elsie and the Lord Clyde (Advance or A.D. Vance), have been captured within the past week, is sadly marred by the news that the Tallahassee is to leave Wilmington on Tuesday (to-night,) that another blockade-runner, the Edith, converted into a privateer (the CSS Chickamauga) is almost ready to follow the Tallahassee on the same errand, and that a dozen or more blockade-runners are in Halifax harbor, some of them bound for British ports with valuable cargoes of cotton."

The North Still Smarting from the Tallahassee's Cruise.  --Old B-R'er

The New York Times Reports the Capture of the Blockade-Runner A.D. Vance

From the September 13, 1864, New York Times "Capture of Notorious Blockade-Runners."

Washington, Monday, Sept. 12.

"Captain GLISSON, of the U.S. steamer Santiago de Cuba, under date of Sept. 11, informs the Navy department that on Saturday, when on his way to Hampton Roads for coal, he discovered, chased and captured a blockade-runner.

"She proved to be the English steamer A.D. Vance, late Lord Clyde, from Wilmington, N.C.  She is an iron, side-wheel steamer, two years old, very fast, and has on board some 410 bales of cotton and some turpentine.

"Her full cargo cannot be known until she is broken out in Boston, for which port she will be dispatched, in charge of Acting Ensign E.C. BOWER.

"This vessel had been one of the most successful of the blockade-runners, and those on board say she was caught only in consequence of the bad coal she used."

A Really Big Capture for the Federal Navy.  --Old B-Runner


Thursday, September 11, 2014

9-11 Remembered: A Nation Reflects

I will be writing about this in all seven of my blogs.

From the Sept. 7, 2014, Parade Magazine.

New York City's tribute in Light, two beams of bright light shining into the sky to represent the fallen twin towers, will be just one of many memorial events held on September 11 and throughout this month across the country.

In an hour, I will be going to Johnsburg, Illinois,  for the placing of the annual "Circle of Flags" ceremony and plan to return later at 7 p.m. for their retrieval.

Go to parade.com/memorial to find an observance in your area.


9-11, 150 Years Ago: Operations Around Mobile Bay and Capture of Blockade-Runners

SEPTEMBER 10TH, 1864:  The USS Magnolia seized the steamer Matagorda at sea off Cape San Antonio, Cuba, with cargo of cotton.

SEPTEMBER 11TH, 1864:  Acting Lt. Wiggin led an expedition including the tinclad USS Rodolph and wooden side-wheeler USS Stockdale, up the Fish River at Mobile Bay to seize an engine used by Confederates in a sawmill and to assist Union troops in obtaining lumber.

They convoyed the Army transport Planter to Smith's Mill, where they took the engine, 60,000 feet of limber and some livestock.  Loading the lumber on board a barge for the Planter to tow took almost until nightfall, and in the dusk of the downstream return, Confederate riflemen opened fire on the ships and felled trees ahead of them.

The ships returned the fire and the Rodolph broke through the obstructions, enabling the remaining ships to pass downriver.

Wiggins had also been destroying large salt works near Mobile Bay on the 8th.

Also, on the 11th:  USS Augusta Dinsmore captured schooner John off Velasco, texas, with cargo of cotton.

--Old B-Runner

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Capture of Famed Blockade-Runner A.D. Vance

SEPTEMBER 10TH, 1864:  The USS Santiago de Cuba, Captain Glisson, seized the blockade-running steamer A.D. Vance at sea northeast of Wilmington with cargo of cotton.

The Advance (as it was also called) was one of the most successful blockade-runners and was mentioned in the New York papers along with the capture of the Elsie, which had a much more brief career.

--Old B-R'er

Attack on Elizabeth City, N.C.

SEPTEMBER 10TH, 1864:  An expedition from the USS Wyalusing landed at Elizabeth City on the Pasquotank River, North Carolina, and seized several of its leading citizens for interrogation regarding the burning of the mail steamer Fawn on the Albemarle and Chesapeake Canal the night before.

The naval landing party encountered little resistance in Elizabeth City, and succeeded in capturing 29 prisoners.  They learned that the Fawn expedition had been led by members of the CSS Albemarle's crew.

Sure, Blame It on the Albemarle.  --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The New York Times Reports Blockade-Running-- Part 2: September 1864

From Halifax, Nova Scotia, September 12th, 1864.

***  They report that the pirate Tallahassee was to leave on a piratical plundering cruise on Tuesday night.  They also report that two more blockade-runners were to leave the same night.

***  The famous Alexandra, now called the Mary, arrived here on Saturday, it is said, for repairs.

***  The following blockade-runners are also in port: steamers Little Hattie and Heath, repairing; Constance, Flamingo, Lady Shirley and Condor.  Beside the above, is the steamer Asia, tender to the rebel fleet.

Lots Going on in Halifax.  --Old B-R'er

The New York Times Reports Blockade-Running-- Part 1: September 1864

From the September 13, 1864, New York Times.

Along with information about the capture of the blockade-runner Elsie, the paper also had these tidbits:

***  The prize steamer Georgia arrived at Beaufort, N.C., on the 9th, and would proceed to Boston.

***  It was reported at Beaufort that the Confederate steamer Edith was about to leave Wilmington, heavily armed.

From Halifax, N.S., Monday, Sept. 12.

***  The blockade-runners Old Dominion arrived here on Saturday night and the City of Petersburgh on Sunday morning.  They have about eighteen hundred bales of cotton on board, destined for England, said to be payment of the interest for the rebel loan.  They left Wilmington last Monday night.

The Georgia was on its way to prize court.  It was feared that the Confederates would send another raider, the Edith,  out to plunder the coast of the U.S. as the Tallahassee had recently done.  Evidently, the Confederate government could get loans from England (govt. or private?) as long as they paid interest in cotton.

Lots of Activity.  --Old B-R'er

Rear Admiral Lee Reports Capture of the Blockade-Runner Elsie

I wrote about the capture of this ship on Sept. 5th  and 6th.

From the September 13, 1864, New York Times.

"Rear-Admiral LEE, in a dispatch dated Beaufort, Sept. 7, says: 'The Elsie ran out of Wilmington on the 4th inst., and was captured the next day by the Keystone State [???] Quaker City.  The Elsie was seen and fired upon when she ran out by the Niphon and Britannia, and was chased off by the Santiago de Cuba until lost in the darkness.

'At 10:30 the next day she was seen and captured, without papers or flag.  A shell from the Quaker City exploded in the foothold of the Elsie, and destroyed about 150 bales of cotton.  Part of the cargo was thrown overboard in the chase and there are now about 250 bales on board.

'The prize will be sent to Boston.  The Elsie is a new steamer of light draft and fair speed, of the Rothesay Castle class, and this is her first trip.

'She will be made a useful vessel on blockade duty.  The blockade is close and vigilant, but it is impossible to prevent its violation on dark nights by steamers built for the purpose.'"

What better ship to catch a blockade-runner than another blockade-runner.

I was unable to find out if the Elsie did become a Union ship.

--Old B-Runner


More Reliance of Confederate Manned and Financed Blockade-Runners

SEPTEMBER 9TH, 1864:  As the war entered its final stage, Southern authorities turned increasingly to blockade-runners manned and financed by the Confederate Navy.  This allowed employment of its excellent officers at sea and insured cargoes brought in would be direct benefit to the government (no luxury goods).  And, i understand Rafael Semmes might be looking for a new job.

This date, Commander Maffitt, one of the Confederacy's most successful and experienced captains, was detached from command of the CSS Albemarle and ordered to command the new blockade-runner Owl.

----Old B-R'er

Blockade of Brownsville, Texas, Reinstituted

SEPTEMBER 9TH, 1864:  Rear Admiral Farragut ordered the USS Kanawha to reinstitute the blockade of Brownsville, Texas.  It had been lifted in mid-February by Presidential proclamation, but on 15 August, Secretary of State Seward had informed Secretary Welles once more because of withdrawal of Union forces in the area.  Three days later, Welles directed Farragut to resume it.

On September 3rd, Farragut reported to Welles that he was "increasing the blockading force off the coast of Texas, the recent operations here (Battle of Mobile Bay) enabling me to spare vessels for that purpose."

The Kanawha blockaded the Brazos Santiago, one of the approaches to Brownsville.  The USS Aroostook was sent to blockade the Rio grande River.

--Old B-Runner

Monday, September 8, 2014

Operations Near Mobile Bay to Destroy Salt Works

SEPTEMBER 8TH, 1864:  The USS Tritonia, Rodolph, Stockdale and an Army transport commenced a two-day operation to destroy a large salt works at Salt House Point near Mobile Bay.  Only the Rodoph and Stockdale crossed the bar and entered Bob Secours River.

Arriving at the Point in mid-morning, two boats were sent ashore and immediately began destroying the salt works.  They were so extensive that it took until the next day to complete their destruction.

Acting Lt. George Wiggin reported: "I found some of the works well built and very strong, particularly one known as Memphis Works, said to have cost $60,000....  Another work, which was very strong and well built, said to have cost $50,000."

Rear Admiral Farragut had ordered the attack and reported: "There were 55 furnaces, in which were manufactured nearly 2,000 bushels of salt per day, and their destruction must necessarily inconvenience the rebels."

No More Salt for Your Steak in Mobile.  --Old B-Runner


Saturday, September 6, 2014

New York Times Announces Arrival of Captured Blockade-Runner Elsie in New York

From the September 13, 1864: IMPORTANT NAVAL NEWS.; The Prize steamer Georgia at Beaufort, N.C..  Another Pirate Ready to Leave Wilmington.  A Fleet at Halifax.

I wrote about its capture in yesterday's post.

"The prize steamer Elsie, (British flag) in charge of Richard Wilkinson, Prize master, from Beaufort, N.C., on the 9th inst., arrived yesterday.  She is bound to Boston, and after obtaining a Hell Gate pilot, proceeded.

"She was captured by the gunboats Quaker City and Keystone State on the 5th inst., in lat. 33 degrees 10' lon. 77 degrees 02' from Wilmington N.C. for Nassau, with cargo of 320 bales of cotton."

This gives a good description of what happened to blockade-runners after they were captured.  The Elsie was captured on Sept. 5th, sent to Beaufort, leaving there on the 9th under a prize master and crew.  Arrived in New York City on the 12th and was eventually going to Boston for prize court.

I'm not sure whether or not the Elsie was taken into Union service or sold to a private party.

--Old B-Runner

Friday, September 5, 2014

Welles Requests Farragut to Lead the Wilmington Expedition

With Mobile now closed and Savannah and Charleston effectively shut off from blockade-running, that left just Wilmington, North Carolina, as the last major Confederate port.  The letter from Farragut that had been sent the week before announcing that the admiral, in failing health as he was, had asked to be relieved of all duty.

This date, Secretary Welles asked Farragut to lead the anticipated expedition against Wilmington.  He was to take command of the North Atlantic Blockading squadron and make plans for the attack.

Welles regarded its capture as "more important, practically than the capture of Richmond."

It was only natural that Welles turn to his most successful and indomitable officer for the accomplishment of this last vital task.

"You are selected," wrote Welles, "to command the naval force, and you will endeavor to be at Port Royal by the latter part of September, where further orders will await you."

It was not until mid-month that the Secretary received Farragut's letter of 27 August requesting to be relieved of command.

--Old B-Runner

Second Time No Charm for the Blockade-Runner Elsie at Wilmington

SEPTEMBER 5TH, 1864:  The USS Keystone State and USS Quaker City captured the British blockade-runner Elsie off Wilmington with a cargo of cotton.  The Elsie had been chased the previous night by blockaders after standing out from Wilmington, but had escaped in the darkness.

This date, however, the two Union ships spotted her and opened fire.  The Elsie came close to escaping, but a shell exploding in her forward hold forced her to surrender.

--Old B-Runner

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Shipwrecks in the Cape Fear River: After the War

From the same source as the two earlier posts from today.

After the war, wreckers removed or leveled sunken vessels in and around the Cape Fear River that posed threats to navigation.

At the mouth of the Cape Fear River, a federal gunboat, most likely the USS Violet,  and the blockade-runner Georgiana McCaw were partially destroyed in this process as was the wreck of the ironclad CSS Raleigh at New Inlet.

Several Confederate transports that were scuttled in the river to block the channel below Wilmington after the fall of Fort Fisher in 1865 were reported to have been removed immediately after the war.

--Old B-Runner

Bar Tender USS Violet-- Part 2

"When blockade-runners were spotted slipping out of an inlet, bar tenders capable of sudden bursts of speed, gave immediate chase while also sending up flares to alert companion blockaders.

In many cases these small steamers could overhaul and cut off the fast, but heavily loaded blockade-runners from escape.  The bar tenders with their smaller coal storage capability relied on large steamers to refill their bunkers."

Being posted that close in to the bar, was the reason the Violet ended up as a wreck.

--Old B-R'er

Bar Tender USS Violet-- Part 1

From the National Register of Historic Places Nomination for the Cape Fear Civil War Shipwreck District by Mark Wilde-Ramsing and Wilson Angley.

"The [use] of light, speedy vessels was inaugurated with the tug Violet at the Western Bar of the Cape Fear River.  These blockaders, known as bar tenders, proved the most effective in preventing breeches in the blockade.

Usually sea-going tugs, outfitted with light armaments, bar tenders had shallow drafts enabling them to post up at night very near   the inlet mouths.

"They often used the same ploys as their counterparts, such as removing masts and spars and employing light gray hull paint to reduce their profile."

--Old B-Runner

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

150 Years Ago: Lincoln Orders 100-Gun Salute

SEPTEMBER 3RD, 1864:  President Lincoln ordered a 100-gun salute at the Washington Navy Yard at noon on Monday, the 5th of September, and, upon receipt of the order, at each arsenal and navy yard in the United States.

This was for "the recent brilliant achievements of the fleet and land forces of the United States in the harbor of Mobile and in the reduction of Fort Powell,  Fort Gaines, and Morgan...."

The president also proclaimed that on the following Sunday thanksgiving should be given for Rear Admiral Farragut's victory at Mobile and the capture of Atlanta by General Sherman.

These events, said Lincoln, "call for devout acknowledgement to the Supreme Being in whose hands are the destinies of nations."

--Old B-Runner

USS Violet-- Part 3

In early 1864, the Violet was repairing at Norfolk Navy Yard and in April was assigned to the ironclad Roanoke and ordered to maintain a vigilant night and foul weather watch and to tow the warship to safety or run down any Confederate attack on the ship.  It did this until July 20th.  

It was then fitted with a torpedo device and reassigned to the Cape Fear River.

On the night of August 7th, it ran aground while proceeding to an inshore station close to the shoal off Western Bar.  (Inshore Station would be the closest blockader to shore to keep watch for runners.)

Despite efforts by the crew and other vessels, the Violet could not be refloated and tides forced the ship even further aground.  The magazine was fired to prevent capture and the ship blew up the morning of August 8, 1864.

--Old B-Runner

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

USS Naiad

From Wikipedia.

The USS Naiad Tinclad #53, was launched in 1863 and bought by the Navy at Cinconnati,  3 March 1863 and commissioned 3 April 1863.  It was 158 feet long, had a 30.4 foot beam, stern steam wheel, mounting eight 24-pdrs.

The Naiad operated along the Mississippi River and its tributaries and often engaged Confederate shore batteries which were prone to popping up at various points to disrupt Union communications and supplies.

On June 15-16, 1864, the Naiad and other Union vessels engaged Confederate batteries at Ratliff's Landing, Louisiana, and today, 150 years ago, a battery at Rowe's Landing, Louisiana.

Constant patrolling by the Naiad and her sister tinclads and other small Union ships did a lot toward keeping Union supply and communication lines open.

The Naiad was decommissioned and sold into civilian service as the princess at Cairo, Illinois, on 30 June 1865.  It his a snag and sank in 1868 near Napoleon, Missouri.

Old B-Runner

--


USS Violet-- Part 2

The Vilet was sent to Newport news, Virginia, and assigned to the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron as a tug boat.  On March 27, 1863, the Violet was ordered to join the blockading squadron off Wilmington, N.C., but a storm off Cape Hatteras forced it to return to Hampton Roads in a sinking condition on March 28th.

It was repaired and went to Wilmington again.  At Wilmington, it did double duty as a blockader and tug.  On April 11, 1863, the Violet and USS Aries chased an unknown blockader-runner and on December 6th, found the runner Ceres aground and burning.  The Ceres floated free during the night and the Violet seized her and put out the fires.

On December 20th, while attempting to refloat the runner Antonica, the Violet ran aground herself and remained there for two nights and a day.  Only after throwing its guns overboard did the Violet float free.

Busy Ship.  --Old B-R'er

150 Years Ago-- September 2, 1864: Fighting on the Mississippi River

SEPTEMBER 2ND, 1864:  The small, 8-gun paddle-wheeler USS Naiad, engaged a Confederate battery near Rowe's Landing, Louisiana, and, after a brisk exchange, silenced it.

--Old B-Runner

Monday, September 1, 2014

USS Violet: Ran Aground and Wrecked

Last month, I wrote about this ship running aground on the night of August 7, 1864 on the shoal off Western Bar of the Cape Fear River by Wilmington, N.C., and ending up a wreck.  I had never heard of his ship before (and consider myself somewhat knowledgeable about the Wilmington area during the war) so had to do some research.

From Wikipedia.

The USS Violet was a 166-ton steamer acquired by the Navy and used as a gunboat, tugboat and torpedo boat.  It was bought 30 December 1862 at New York City and commissioned 29 January 1863 at the New York Navy Yard.

It was 85-feet long, had a 19.9-foot beam and powered by a screw propeller.  Its shallow draft made it an excellent choice for up close work to shore.  It was launched in 1862.
It mounted one 12-pdr., one 12-pdr. rifle and one torpedo.

More to Come.  --Old B-R'er

Back Then-- 1964: Outdoor Drama Planned for Fort Fisher

From the August 2, 2014, Wilmington (NC) Star-News "Back Then."

JULY 17, 1964:  The N.C. Department of Archives and History endorsed a plan by the Southeastern N.C. Beach Association to launch an outdoor drama at Fort Fisher to tell the story of the Civil War fort.

I don't think anything ever came of it as I am sure I'd remember it had they had the drama.

--Old B-Runner