Fort Fisher

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

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Union Forces Advance Nearer to Wilmington: Torpedoes and "Old Bogey"

FEBRUARY 19-20, 1865:  Following the evacuation of Fort Anderson, Rear Admiral Porter's gunboats steamed seven miles up the Cape Fear River to the Big Island shallows and piling obstructions and engaged Fort Strong's five guns.  Ships' boats swept the river for mines ahead of the fleet's advance.

On the night of the 20th, the Confederates released 200 floating torpedoes, which were avoided with great difficulty and kept the boat crews engaged in sweeping throughout the hours of darkness.

Although many of the gunboats safely swept up the torpedoes with their nets, the USS Osceola received hull damage and lost a paddle wheel box by an explosion.    Another torpedo destroyed a boat from the USS Shawmut, inflicting four casualties.

The next day. Feb. 21st, one of Porter's officers wrote that Porter's "Old Bogey" had taken part in the action saying: "Johnny Reb let off his torpedoes without effect on it, and the old thing sailed across the river and grounded in the flank and rear of the enemy's lines on the eastern bank, whereupon they fell back in the night.  She now occupies the most advanced position of the line, and a Battery Lee had been banging away at her, and probably wondering why she does not answer.

"Last night after a half days fighting, the rebs sent down about 50 torpedoes, but although 'Old Bogey' took no notice of them, they kept the rest of us pretty lively as long as the ebb tide ran."

--Old B-Runner

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