Fort Fisher

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

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Raising the CSS Georgia

Yesterday, we found it MUCH EASIER leaving Tybee Island.  Absolutely no traffic jams like what kept us there Sunday night.

Drove back to Savannah and then to Old Fort Jackson, which I toured.  This little-known fort actually has more cannons than Fort Fisher, which now has only two coast defense cannons, one that fires.

I saw a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers boat tied up by the buoy that  marks the wreck of the Confederate ironclad CSS Georgia which was scuttled when Sherman captured  Savannah.  It is about fifty yards off Old Fort Jackson.  This was where the Georgia spend most of her career after it was found that her engines ncould not propel it against the strong Savannah current.

I was told they are currently bringing up small poieces, but this summer they intend to bring up cannons and pieces of the casemate.

--Old B-Runner

Monday, April 27, 2015

Going to Check Out the CSS Georgia

In a short time we leave Tybee Island and go to Old Fort Jackson by Savannah to check out progress on the raising of the remains of the CSS Georgia.

A Real Piece of History.  --Old B-Runner

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Where Confederate Ironclads Cruised: Savannah River

Sitting here typing away in the middle of a storm at the Holiday Inn Express in downtown Savannah overlooking the Savannah River.

Just thinking that a little over 150 years ago, ships and ironclads of the Savannah River Squadron would have been in the river.

Actually, three ironclads were built here during the war.

CSS Atlanta, a 204-foot ironclad built from the hull of the blockade-runner Fingal.  This ship was captured by Union monitors and became the USS Atlanta.

CSS Georgia, 1862, the "Ladies' Gunboat," built by contribitions of the women of Savannah.  This ship was underpowered and turned into a floating battery anchored by Fort Jackson.  It was destroyed to prevent capture when Sherman captured Savannah.  It is currently being raised for the widening and deepening of the river channel.

CSS Savannah, 1862.  Destroyed to prevent Shereman from capturing it.

--Old B-Runner


Friday, April 24, 2015

An Augusta Naval Connection

We're in Augusta, Georgia, right now after staying up way too late last night at the local Hooters watching the Bulls win and Blackhawks loss.  I hate 8:30 p.m., 9:30 here, starts to Hawks games.  Way too late.  At least this wasn't a triple overtime game like Tuesday night/Wednesday morning.

I may have to stop calling the Bulls' Rose as Wilted Rose, as use his real name if he keeps playing like he has.

Any way, Augusta (even after the Master's last week, has a bit of a naval tradition.  I read  this morning that it was established along the Savannah River where navigation ends,  There is also a canal in the town and during the Civil War, a large powder works.

After the fall of Savannah, several Confederate gunboats came upriver to escape Sherman, and the Confederate treasury and archives came here before rendezvousing with Davis at Abbeville, S.C...  These were escorted by midshipmen of the CSNA and Charlotte (N.C.)  Navy Yard workers.

--Old B-Runner

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Reduction of Potomac Flotilla and Army-Navy Cooperation

MAY 3RD, 1865:  Secretary Welles ordered the reduction of the Potomac Flotilla to half its strength; however, execution of this order would not begin until the whereabouts and disposal of the CSS Stonewall was known.

ALSO ON MAY 3RD:  As Commodore J.S. Palmer was detached from the West Gulf Blockading Squadron, major General Canby wrote him:  "The relations that have existed between the two services for the past year have been of the most intimate and cordial character and have resulted in successes of which the friends of both the Army and the Navy have reason to be proud."

--Old B-Runner

Monday, April 20, 2015

Mallory Resigns As Secretary of the Confederate Navy

MAY 2-3RD, 1865:  Secretary Mallory penned a brief letter of resignation while at Abbeville and handed it to the President on the 3rd at Washington, Georgia, where Mallory took leave of his chief.

"The misfortunes of our country have deprived me of the honor and opportunity longer to serve her, and the hour has approached when I can no longer be be useful to you personally.  Cheerfully would I follow you and share whatever fate may befall you, could I hope thereby in any degree to contribute to your safety or happiness.

"The dependent condition of a helpless family prevents my departure from the country, and under these circumstances it is proper that I should request you to accept my resignation as Secretary of the Navy."

Davis accepted the resignation with deep regret, and added:  "For the zeal, ability and integrity with which you have so long and so constantly labored, permit one who had the best opportunity to judge, to offer testimonial and in the name of our country and its sacred cause to return thanks."

Mallory then set out to LaGrange, Georgia, to join his family and "to await the action of the [United States] government."

--The CSN Loses Its Leader.  --Old B-runner

President Davis Leaves Abbeville-- Part 2

President Davis, still in Abbeville, on May 2nd, officially acknowledged the the dissolution of the Confederate government.   He then proceeded to Washington, Georgia,  where he replaced the cavalry train  with a ten man mounted escort.  However, instead of immediately setting out for the trans-Mississippi West, the President detoured and overtook his wife fleeing toward the Florida coast.

He traveled with his family until the 10th in an effort to see them safely through the threatening pursuit.  He was captured by a unit of Michigan cavalry while encamped near Irwinville, Georgia, on the eve of his intended departure for the west.

The End.  --Old B-Runner

President Davis Arrives At Abbeville, South Carolina--Part 1

MAY 2ND, 1865:  President Davis, accompanied by most of his cabinet and other ranking officials of the Confederacy, entered Abbeville, South Carolina, escorted by the remnants of four brigades of cavalry commanded by Brigadier General Basil Duke.

The President's cavalry train was met there by Lt. W.H. Parker, commanding the 150 man naval escort which had safely transported and guarded the Confederate archives and treasury during the thirty day journey from Richmond.  Parker transferred his cargo to Acting Secretary of the Treasury John Reagan and was instructed by him to deliver it to General Duke.

Upon completing the transfer, Parker disbanded his command; but with a lingering optimism for the Confederacy's future, he ordered each Midshipman:  "You are hereby detached from the naval school, and leave is granted you to visit your home.  You will report by letter to the Hon. Secretary of the Navy as soon as practicable."

Later in the day. Parker conferred with the President and advised him that his chances for escape would greatly be enhanced if he would abandon his large cavalry escort and leave "now with a few followers and cross the Mississippi, as you express a desire to do eventually, and there again raise the standard."

What's Left of the Confederate Government On the Run.  --Old B-R'er

Confederate Plans to Mine Galveston Harbor

MAY 2ND, 1865:  Commander Matthew F. Maury sailed from England carrying $40,000 worth of electric torpedo equipment which he was confident could be used to keep Galveston Harbor open for the Confederacy.  he had developed what today is known as a controlled mine system during the two and a half years he served in Europe with Commander Bulloch.

It was a harbor defense system consisting of a planted mine field with each mine in a charted position and capable of being separately detonated by closing an electrical  circuit from ashore when the target ship is within a mine's lethal range.

Maury, a pioneer in mine warfare as well as oceanography, had devised the system working in close conjunction with British naval engineers.  he prophetically appraised the  system as being "as effective for defense as ironclads and rifled guns are for the attack....I feel justified in the opinion that hereafter in all plans for coast, harbor, and river defense...the electrical torpedo is to play an important part."

Upon arriving at Havana, Maury learned of the collapse of the Confederacy and he stored the equipment in the city.

--Those Torps Again.  --Old B-Runner

Great Weather Turns Bad for CSS Shenandoah-- Part 2: The Big Blow

"After the vessel had reached the parallel of 43 degrees north the weather became cold and foggy and the winds were variable and unsteady, and that ever reliable friend of the sailor, the barometer, indicated atmospheric changes.

"The ship was prepared for the change of weather which was rapidly approaching.  Soon the ocean was boiling with agitation, and if the barometer had been silent, I would have called it only a furious tide but a dark, then a black cloud, was hurrying toward us from the N.E. and so close did it rest upon the surface of the water that it seemed determined to overwhelm the ship, and there came in it so terrible and violent of a wind that the Shenandoah was thrown upon her side...."

"Squall after squall struck her, flash after flash surrounded her, and the thunder rolled in her wake.  It was a typhoon.  The ocean was as white as the snow and foamed with rage.  A new close-reefed topsail was blown to shreds, and the voice of man was inaudible amid this awful convolution of nature."

Into Every man's Life, Storms Must Come.  --Old B-R'er


Great Weather Turns Bad for CSS Shenandoah-- Part 1: A Pleasant Cruise, Then...

MAY 1-15TH, 1865:  During this period, the CSS Shenandoah "made nothings" towards the Bering Sea whaling ground through pleasant seas that would soon change in the high latitudes.  After departing Lea harbor, Ponape, in the Caroline Islands on 13 April, the lone raider had experienced fine cruising--except for lack of prizes.

Waddell wrote: "Never in our various experience of sea life had any of us seen such or more charming weather than we now enjoyed.  The sun shone with a peculiar brilliancy and the moon shed that clear, soft light which is found in this locality, in which the heavens seem so distant and darkly blue, while the vast expanse of ocean was like a great reflecting mirror.

"The track for vessels bound from San Francisco and many of the ports on the west coast of America to Hong Kong lies between the parallels in north latitude of 17 degrees and 20 degrees  here the winds are better than are found in a more northerly route, while the track to San Francisco and other ports along the west coast of America lies between the parallels of 35 degrees and 45 degrees, because here west winds prevail..."

Real Pleasant Sailing.  --Old B-Runner

Lincoln Assassination Suspects Transferred to Arsenal Penetentiary

APRIL 30TH, 1865:  The eight suspects in the Lincoln assassination plot who had been imprisoned on the U.S. monitors Saugus and Montauk were transferred to the Arsenal Penitentiary, located on the compound of what is today Fort McNair.  This was also the site of their trial by a military tribunal which returned its guilty verdict on June 30th.

Three of the eight, along with Mary Surratt, were hanged in the prison yard of the penitentiary on 7 July--  Lewis Paine who made the unsuccessful assassination attempt on Secretary of State Seward; George A. Atzerodt who had been designated by Booth to murder Vice President Johnson; and David E. Herold who had accompanied Booth in his escape from the city.

Michael O'Laughlin and Samuel B. Arnold, boyhood friends of Booth and conspirators in the actor's earlier plans to assassinate top officials, were sentenced to life in prison.  Another accomplice, Edward Spangler, stagehand at Ford's Theatre, was sentenced to six years in prison.  The remaining two of the eight who had been incarcerated on the monitors-- Ernest Hartman Richter, a cousin of Atzerodt, and Joao Celestino, a Portuguese sea captain--were released without being brought to trial.

--Old B-R'er


Why I'm Going Ahead

I'm not sure when I will next be able to post on the blog, so decided to go ahead with entries as this is the 150th anniversary of the end of the war.

--Old B-Runner

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Action Along the Cumberland River

APRIL 29TH, 1865:  Acting Master W.C. Coulson, commanding the USS Moose on the Cumberland River, led a surprise attack on a Confederate raiding party, numbering about 200 troops from Brigadier general Abraham Buford's command.

The raiders, under the command of a Major Hopkins, were crossing the Cumberland River to sack and burn Eddyville, Kentucky.  Coulson sank two troop laden boats with battery gunfire and then put a landing party ashore which engaged the remaining Confederates.

This landing force dispersed the detachment after killing or wounding 20 men, taking 6 captives, and capturing 22 horses.

ALSO ON APRIL 29TH:  The USS Donegal was ordered to cruise from Bull's Bay, S.C., to the Savannah River in search of the CSS Stonewall.

--Old B-R'er

Welles Congratulates Thatcher on Fall of Mobile

APRIL 29TH, 1865:  Secretary Welles congratulated Rear Admiral Thatcher and his men for their part in bringing about the fall of Mobile:  "Although no bloody strife preceded the capture..., the result was none the less creditable.

"Much has been expended to render it invulnerable, and nothing but the well-conducted preparations for its capture, which pointed to success, could have induced the rebel commander to abandon it with is formidable defenses, mounting nearly 400 guns, many of them of the newest pattern and heaviest caliber, its abundant supply of ammunition and ordnance stores, and its torpedo-planted roads and waters, without serious conflict."

--Old B-Runner

Continued Operations at Mobile

APRIL 28TH, 1865:  Rear Admiral Thatcher reported to Secretary Welles that the USS Octorara, Sebago and Winnebago were up the Tombigbee River, Alabama, blockading the CSS Nashville and Morgan.  The Confederate ships had steamed upriver when Mobile fell.

The admiral concluded:  "They must soon fall into our hands or destroy themselves.

--Old B-Runner

Still Looking for Davis

APRIL 28TH, 1865:  Secretary Welles directed Rear Admiral Thatcher of the West Gulf Blockading Squadron:  "Lieutenant General Grant telegraphs to the War Department under the date 26th instant, from Raleigh, N.C., that Jeff Davis, with his Cabinet, passed into South Carolina, with the intentions, no doubt, of getting out of the country, either via Cuba or across the Mississippi.

"All the vigilance and available means at your command should be brought to bear to prevent the escape of those leaders of the rebellion."

--Old B-R'er

The Sultana Disaster

APRIL 27TH, 1865:  Just a few earlier, the steamer General Lyon had caught fire off Cape Hatteras with around 550 dead, now this.  The river steamer Sultana blew up in the Mississippi River above Memphis, Tennessee, killing some 1450 of its 2,000 passengers-- all but 50 of them former prisoners of war.  She was en route to Cairo, Illinois, when a violent explosion ripped her apart and turned her into a sheet of flame..

The cause of the explosion was never determined, but one of the theories advanced was that a coal torpedo-- such as the one suspected of having destroyed the Army steamer Greyhound on 27 November 1864, had been slipped into the steamer's coal bin.

--Old B-Runner

Watching for the CSS Stonewall

APRIL 27TH, 1865:  Commodore William Radford, commanding the James River Flotilla, stationed the USS Tristram Shandy at Cape Henry to watch for the CSS Stonewall.  The next day, Secretary Welles warned Radford that the Stonewall had sailed from Teneriffe, Canary Islands in 1 April and had steamed rapidly to the south.  "...Every precaution should be taken to guard against surprise and to prevent her inflicting serious injury should she make her appearance anywhere within the limits of your command...."

Welles sent the same directives to  Commander F.A. Parker of the Potomac Flotilla.

--Old B-R'er

Potomac Flotilla Stands Down in Booth Search, Search for Davis Continues

APRIL27TH, 1865:  Secretary Welles informed Commander F.A. Parker of the Potomac Flotilla that the "special restrictions relative to retaining vessels are removed."  He advised Parker that "Booth was killed and captured with Herold yesterday, 3 miles southwest of Port Royal, Va."

While the search for the President's assassin ended, further south, the Navy focused its attention to another end.  This date, Rear Admiral Dahlgren ordered nine of his ships to patrol along the coast to prevent the escape of Jefferson Davis and his cabinet.

--Old B-Runner

Booth Killed

APRIL 27TH, 1865: The body of John Wilkes Booth, Lincoln's assassin, and David E. Herold, who had accompanied Booth in the escape from Washington and was with the actor when he was shot, were delivered on board the monitor USS Montauk, anchored in the Anacostia River off the Washington Navy Yard.

Booth had been slain and Herold captured at John M. Garrett's farm three miles outside Port Royal, Virginia, in the early morning hours of the previous day.  While the body was on board the monitor, an autopsy was performed and an inquiry conducted to establish identity.

Booth's corpse was taken by boat to the Washington Arsenal (now Fort McNair) where it was buried in a gun box the following day.  Herold was incarcerated  in the hold of the Montauk which, along with the USS Saugus, was being utilized as a maximum security prison for eight of the suspected assassination conspirators.

--Old B-Runner

Search For Booth Continues

APRIL 25TH, 1865:  The search for President Lincoln's assassin followed rumors in all directions, and warships in the Union Navy were made available for use.  The Navy department ordered Commodore Radford at Hampton Roads:  "Send a gunboat to the mouth of the Delaware for one week to examine and arrest all suspicious characters and vessels.

--Old B-Runner

Confederate Archives and Treasury Taken to Abbeville, S.C.

APRIL 24-29TH, 1865:  While in Augusta, Georgia,  with the Confederate archives and treasury, Lt. W.H. Parker learned the federal Government had rejected the convention of surrender drawn up between Generals Sherman and Johnston.  Parker withdrew his valuable cargo from the bank vaults, reformed his naval escort (consisting of Naval Academy midshipmen and sailors from the the Charlotte Navy Yard) and on the 24th set out for Abbeville, South Carolina.

He had previously concluded this to be most likely where the Davis party would pass en route to crossing the Savannah River.  Near Washington, Georgia, Parker met Mrs. Jefferson Davis, her daughter and Burton Harrison, the President's private secretary, proceeding independently to Florida with a small escort.

Gaining no information on the President's whereabouts, Parker continued to Abbeville, while Mrs. Davis' party resumed its journey southward.  On the 29th, Parker arrived in Abbeville, where he stored his cargo in guarded rail cars and ordered a full head of steam be kept in the locomotives in case of emergency.

Parker's calculations as to the probably movements of President Davis's entourage proved correct; the chief executive entered Abbeville three days after Parker's arrival,

--Old B-R'er

CSS Webb Makes a Run For It-- Part 2

His cutting the telegraph wires was a lesson in futility as his run had generated a lot of activity along the Mississippi River.  Union ships and shore batteries had been alerted and everyone was ready to stop him.

About ten miles above New Orleans, Read hoisted a United States flag at half mast in mourning for Lincoln's death and brought the Webb's steam pressure up to maximum.  He passed the city at about midnight April 24th, going full speed.  Federal gunboats opened on him, whereupon Read broke out the Confederate flag.  Three hits were scored, the spar torpedo rigged at the steamer's bow was damaged and had to be jettisoned.

But, the Webb continued on its run to the sea..  Twenty-miles below New Orleans, Read's luck ran out, for here the Webb encountered the USS Richmond.  Thus trapped between the Richmond and pursuing gunboats, Read's audacious and well-executed plan came to an end.

The CSS Webb was run aground and set on fire before her officers and men took to the swamps in an effort to escape.  Read and his men were captured within a few hours and taken under guard to New Orleans where they were placed on public display but were subsequently paroled and ordered to their respective homes.

Following the restoration of peace, Read became a pilot of the Southwest Pass (Mississippi River) and pursued that occupation until his death.

One Valiant Confederate.  --Old B-Runner

CSS Webb Makes a Run For It-- Part 1

APRIL 23-24TH, 1865:  The CSS Webb, Lt. Read, dashed from the Red River under forced draft and entered the Mississippi River at 8:30 at night in a heroic last-ditch effort to escape to sea.

Before departing Alexandria, Louisiana, for the bold attempt, Read wrote Secretary Mallory:  "I will have to stake everything upon speed and time."

The sudden appearance of the white-painted Webb in the Mississippi caught the Union blockaders (a monitor and two ironclads by surprise.  She was initially identified as a Federal ship; this mistake in identification gave Read a lead on his dash downstream.

A running battle ensued in which the Webb shook off the three Union pursuers.  As Read proceeded down the Mississippi, other Union ships took up the chase, but were outrun by the fast-moving Webb, which some observers claimed was making 25 knots.  At one point, Read felt safe enough to stop and cut telegraph lines on shore.

This attempt to prevent word of his run from spreading downstream was futile.

--Old B-R'er

Also Looking for Jefferson Davis

APRIL 23RD, 1865:  In response to a telegram from Secretary Welles urging the utmost vigilance to prevent the escape of Jefferson Davis and his cabinet across the Mississippi River, Rear Admiral S.P. Lee, commanding the Mississippi Squadron, directed:  "The immediate engrossing and important duty is to capture Jeff. Davis and his Cabinet and plunder.

"To accomplish this, all available means and every effort must be made to the exclusion of all interfering calls."

Not quite sure what "plunder" and "interfering calls" was about?

--Old B-R'er

Arrival of St. Mary's in Nassau

APRIL 22ND, 1865:  Thpmas Kirkpatrick, U.S. Consul at Nassau, New Providence, reported to Rear Admiral Stribling of the East Coast Blockading Squadron that schooner St. Mary's had arrived at Nassau.  The Baltimore schooner had been seized in the Chesapeake Bay in a daring raid on 31 March by ten Confederates led by Master John C. Braine, CSN.

Kirkpatrick pressed British authorities to seize the vessel and apprehend her crew for piracy.  St. mary's was permitted to put to sea, however, after being judges a legitimate prize..

--Old B-Runner

Booth Reported Near Bryantown

APRIL 22ND, 1865:  Secretary Welles warned the Potomac Flotilla that "[John Wilkes] Booth was near Bryantown last Saturday [April 15], where Dr. Mudd set his ankle, which was broken by a fall from his horse. The utmost vigilance is necessary in the Potomac and Patuxent to prevent his escape.  All boats must be searched."

The condition of alert remained in effect until word of the assassin's death on 26 April was received.

--Old B-R'er

Johnston to Surrender All Confederate Armies?

APRIL 21ST, 1865:  Major General Gilmore wrote Rear Admiral Dahlgren that he had received dispatches from general Sherman that a convention had been entered into with General Johnston, CSA, on the 18th whereby all Confederate armies will be disbanded and a general suspension of hostilities would prevail until terms of surrender were agreed upon in Washington.

ALSO APRIL 21ST, 1865:  USS Cornubia captured blockade running British schooner Chaos off Galveston with cargo of cotton.

--Old B-Runner

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Welles Writes of Lincoln's Funeral

APRIL 19TH, 1865:  Secretary Welles recorded President Lincoln's funeral in his diary:  "The funeral ion Wednesday, the 19th, was imposing, sad, and sorrowful.  All felt the solemnity, and sorrowed as if they had lost one of their own household.  By voluntary action business was everywhere suspended, and the people crowded the streets....

"The attendance was immense.  The front of the procession reached the Capitol, it was said, before we started, and here were as many, or more, who followed us.  A brief prayer was made by Mr. [P.D.] Gurley in the rotunda, where we left the remains of the good and great man we loved so well."

--Old B-R'er

Confederate General Kirby Set to Surrender on the Red River

APRIL 19TH, 1865:  The USS Lexington conveyed Col. John T. Sprague, Chief of Staff of General John Pope, from Cairo, up the Red River to meet Confederate General Kirby Smith.

At the ensuing conference, Smith was given the terms under which the surrender of his forces would be accepted.

--Old B-Runner

Blockade Runner Denbigh Runs Aground at Galveston, But gets Off

APRIL 19TH, 1865:  Captain Benjamin F. Sands, commanding ships of the West Gulf Blockading squadron stationed off Galveston, Texas, reported that the blockade runner Denbigh had grounded on the Galveston bar attempting to put to sea under the cover of night.

"She succeeded in getting off by throwing over some 200 bales of cotton, about 140 which were recovered by the Cornubia and Gertrude...."  Sands added that Denbigh was "next seen under Fort Point and returned to the city."

However, the well-known blockade runner, which Admiral Farragut had been especially anxious to capture prior to the fall of Mobile when the Denbigh shifted operations to Galveston, shortly succeeded in running through the blockade and put into Havana May 1st.

--Old B-R'er

Farragut to Be a Lincoln Pallbearer

APRIL 18TH, 1865:  Vice Admiral Farragut, in whom President Lincoln had placed great confidence, wrote to his wife:  "All the people in the city are going to see the President in state.  I go tomorrow as one of the pall bearers."

Meanwhile, the Navy was carrying out Secretary Welles' instructions to search "all vessels going out of the [Potomac] river for the assassins.  detain all suspicious persons.  Guard against all crossings of the river and touching of vessels or boats on the Virginia shore."

--Old B-R'er

Lincoln Conspirators Held on USS Saugus and Montauk-- Part 2

O'Laughlin and Paine, after overnight imprisonment in Old Capitol Prison, were transferred to the monitors at the Navy Yard.  They were joined by Arnold on the 19th and Spangler on the 24th.

George A. Atzerodt, the would-be assassin of Vice President Johnson, and Ernest Hartman Richter, at whose home Atzerodt was captured, were brought on board the ships on the 20th.  Joao Celetino, Portuguese sea captain who had been heard to say on the 14th that Seward ought to be assassinated, was transferred from Old Capitol Prison to the Montauk on the 25th.

The last of the eight conspiracy suspects to be incarcerated on board the monitors was David E. harold.  The prisoners were kept below decks under heavy guard and were manacled with both wrist and leg irons.  In addition, their heads were covered with canvas hoods the interior of which were fitted with cotton pads that tightly covered the prisoners' eyes and ears.

The hoods contained two small openings to permit breathing and the consumption of food.  An added security measure was taken with Paine by attaching a ball and chain to each ankle.

Not Exactly the Lap of Luxury.  --Old B-Runnero

Lincoln Conspirators Imprisoned on Monitors Montauk and Saugus-- Part 1

APRIL 17-25, 1865:  Four of the five Lincoln assassination suspects arrested on the 17th were imprisoned on the monitors USS Montauk and Saugus which had been prepared for the purpose on the 15th and were anchored off the Washington Navy Yard in the Anacostia River.  These USS Saugus had been at both battles of Fort Fisher.

Mrs. Mary E. Surratt was taken into custody at the boarding house she operated after it was learned that her son was a close friend of John Wilkes Booth and that the actor was a frequent visitor at the boarding house.  Mrs. Surratt was jailed ta the Carroll Annex of Old Capitol Prison.

Lewis Paine was also taken into custody when he came to Mrs. Surratt's  house during her arrest.  Edward Spangler, stagehand at the Ford Theatre and Booth's aide, along with Michael O'Laughlin and Samuel B. Arnold, close associates of Booth during the months leading up to the assassination, were also caught up in the dragnet.

--Old B-R'er

Confederate Archives and Treasury Arrive at Augusta, Georgia

APRIL 17-19TH, 1865:  Lt. W,H. Parker, commanding the naval escort entrusted with the Confederate archives and treasury, and President Davis' wife, successfully evaded Federal patrols enroute southward from Charlotte and arrived at Washington, Georgia, on the 17th.

Parker, still without orders as to the disposition of his precious trust and unable to learn of the whereabouts of President Davis and his party (including Secretary Mallory), decided to push on through to Augusta, Georgia, where he hoped to find ranking civilian and military officials.

The escort commander recorded:  "We left the ladies behind at the tavern in Washington for we expected now a fight at any time."  the escort again, however, managed to elude Federal patrols and arrived without incident at Augusta where Parker placed his entrusted cargo in bank vaults and posted a guard on the building.

Having learned upon arrival that armistice negotiations between Generals Sherman and Johnston were in progress, Parker decided to remain in the city and await the outcome of the conference.

--Old B-Runner

Friday, April 17, 2015

Ironclad CSS Jackson and CSS Chattahoochee Destroyed at Columbus, Georgia

APRIL 17TH, 1865:  The Confederate ironclad Jackson (previously CSS Muscogee) was destroyed at Columbus, Georgia, after Union forces overran Southern defenses at the city in an attack that began the preceding night.

Major General George H. Thomas reported:  "The rebel ram Jackson, nearly ready for sea, and carrying six 7-inch [rifled] guns, fell into our hands and was destroyed, as well as the navy yard, founderies, the arsenal and armory, sword and pistol factory... all of which were burned."

Twelve miles below the city the Union troops found the burned hulk of CSS Chattahoochee, which the Confederates themselves had destroyed.  The navy yard at Columbus had been a key facility in the building of machinery for Southern ironclads.

--Old B-Runner

Obstructions Removed from Blakely River, Alabama

APRIL 17TH, 1865:  Sunken obstructions placed in the channel of the Blakely River, Mobile Bay, Alabama, were removed by blasting directed by Master Adrian C. Starrett, USS Maria A. Wood, this clearing navigational hazards in Mobile Bay.

The Union Navy sure lost a lot of ships to Confederate torpedoes in this area.

A lot easier to remove this way than by hand.  And much safer, too.

Swept Clean?  --Old B-R'er

Booth Reported in Vicinity of Point Lookout, Maryland

APRIL 17TH, 1865:  Acting Master J.H. Eldridge, USS Delaware, reported that information had been received that the murderer of the President was in the vicinity of Point Lookout, Maryland.

Secretary Welles promptly ordered the Commanding Officer of Naval Force, Hampton Roads, to send all available vessels to assist in the blockade of the eastern shore of Virginia and Maryland from Point Lookout to Baltimore.

--Old B-Runner

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Navy Mourns the President

APRIL 16TH, 1865:  The Navy department directed that on April 17th, a gun be fired in honor of the late President Lincoln each half hour, from sunrise to sunset, that all flags be kept at half-mast until after the funeral, and that officers wear mourning crepe for six months.

--Old B-R'er

Navy Searching for Lincoln's Killer

APRIL 16TH, 1865:  Secretary Welles directed:  "To prevent the escape of the assassin who killed the President and attempted the life of Secretary of State, search every vessel that arrives down the bay.  Permit no vessel to go to sea without such search, and arrest and send to Washington any suspicious persons."

Response was immediate; ships took stations "on the coast of Maryland and Virginia."

--Old B-Runner

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Put Lincoln's Murderer on a Monitor

APRIL 15, 1865:  Welles sent a telegram to Commodore John B. Montgomery, Commandant of the Washington Navy Yard:  "If the military authorities arrest the murderer of the President, take him to the Yard, put him on a monitor and anchor her in the stream, with a strong guard on vessel, wharf, and in the yard.

"Call upon commandant of the Marine Corps for guard.  Have vessel immediately prepared to receive him at any hour, day or night, with necessary instructions.  He will be heavily ironed and so guarded as to prevent escape or injury to himself."

--Old B-Runner

Welles Announces Lincoln's Assassination-- Part 2

In the summer of 1863, Lincoln had written:  "Nor must Uncle Sam's web feet be forgotten.  At all the watery margins they have been present.  Not only on the deep sea, the broad bay, the rapid river, but also the narrow, muddy bayou, and wherever the ground was a little damp, they have been and made their tracks."

High praise for the Navy.  Washington Navy Yard was visited often by Abraham Lincoln.

--Old B-R'er

Welles Announces President's Death to Navy and Marines-- Part 1

APRIL 15TH, 1865:  Secretary Welles announced the assassination of President Lincoln to the officers and men of the Navy and Marine Corps.  Welles wrote:  "To him our gratitude was justly due, for to him, under God, more than any other person, we are indebted for the successful vindication of the integrity of the Union and the maintenance of the power of the Republic."

The President had continually demonstrated a keen interest in the Navy and far-seeing appreciation of seapower.

Late on the afternoon of April 14th, Lincoln had taken what was to be his last trip to the Washington Navy Yard to view three ironclads there that had been damaged during the Fort Fisher engagement.

--Old B-Runner


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

President Lincoln Assassinated

APRIL 14TH, 1865:  President Lincoln was shot shortly after 10 p.m. while watching "Our American Cousin" at Ford's Theatre.  he died at 7:22 a.m. the next morning after never having gained consciousness.  Rear Admiral Porter, who had departed Hampton Roads on the 14th, learned, when his flagship, the USS Tristram Shandy put into Baltimore on the morning of the 15th that the President had been shot.

The Admiral immediately went to Washington, where he learned Lincoln had died.

The reaction of the hardened seadog to the news expressed the grief of the nation: Porter, who had bid the President a merry farewell exactly one week before at City Point, bowed his head and wept.

--Old B-R'er

U.S. Flag Raised Over Fort Sumter

APRIL 14TH, 1865: In accordance with a previous directive of President Lincoln, Major General Anderson, commander of the Union forces at Fort Sumter on 14 April 1861, raised above the Sumter ruins "the same United States flag which floated over the battlements of the fort during the rebel assault, and which was lowered and saluted by him and the small force of his command when the works were evacuated on the 14th of April, 1861."

The USS Pawnee had witnessed that event four years before, and was now with the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron and participated in the ceremony.

--Old B-Runner


USS Scioto Sunk by Torpedo in Mobile Bay

APRIL 14TH, 1865:  The USS Sciota, Acting Lt. James W, Magune, struck a torpedo and sank off Mobile.  Magune reported:  "The explosion was terrible, breaking the beams of the spar deck, tearing open the waterways, ripping off the starboard forechannels, and breaking fore-topmast..:

Dragging for and destroying torpedoes continued to be hazardous duty.  A launch from the USS Cincinnati was blown up and three men killed when a torpedo which was being removed accidentally swing against the boat's stern.

--Old B-R'er

The CSS Shenandoah Departs Ascension Island

APRIL 14TH, 1865: Unaware of Lee's Surrender, the CSS Shenandoah departs from Ascension Island, Eastern Carolines and set a northerly course for the Kurile Islands.  The Shenandoah would inflict crippling damage to the American whaling fleet in the North Pacific.

The damage wrought on the Union commerce by Confederate raiders dealt the American whaling industry a blow from which it never recovered.

--Old B-Runner

Monday, April 13, 2015

Confederate Ram at Edwards Ferry, N.C.

In one of the last entries, Commander Macomb reported that the Confederate ram at Edwards Ferry on the Roanoke River (where the CSS Albemarle had been built) had been destroyed.  I was unaware that anything more had been built here.

I didn't find out much other than and entry in the Confederate Navy Research Center, www.csnavy.org.

It said that a wooden gunboat, unfinished had been captured at Edwards Ferry.  It was presumed to be the Fisher.  On June 27, 1865, new and with good machinery arrived at Hampton Roads, Virginia.

--Old B-T'er

USS Ida Sunk By Torpedo in Mobile Bay

APRIL 13TH, 1865:  The USS Ida struck a torpedo on her starboard side and sank in Mobile Bay.  The Ida was the fifth U.S. vessel in less than five weeks to be sunk by a Confederate torpedo in the vicinity of Mobile.

Torpedoes Doing Their Job.  --Old B-Runner

Collapse of Confederate Resistance Elsewhere

APRIL 13TH, 1865:  After Appomattox, Confederate resistance elsewhere rapidly gave way.  From the North Carolina Sounds, Commander Macomb reported:  "The rebels have evacuated Weldon, burning the bridge, destroying the ram at Edwards Ferry, and throwing the guns at rainbow Bluff into the river.

"Except for torpedoes the [Roanoke] river is therefore clear for navigation.  The floating battery I informed you in my No. 144, has got adrift from Halifax and been blown up by one of their own torpedoes."

--Old B-R'er

CSS Shenandoah Sails Off On Its Mission: What's So Civilized About Warfare?

APRIL 12TH, 1865:  Having completed preparations for sailing from lea Harbor, Lt. Waddell made his farewell call on the local "king" with whom he had become friendly.  "His majesty asked what was to be done with our prisoners.  He supposed that they would just be put to death, as he considered it right to make such disposition of one's enemies.

"I told him they would not be harmed, and that in civilized warfare men destroyed armed resistance and paroled the unarmed.

"'But' said his Majesty, 'war cannot be considered civilized, and those who make war on an unoffending people are a bad people and do not deserve to live.'

"I told the king I would sail the following day, the 13th of April, and should tell our President of the kind hospitality he had shown to the officers of the Shenandoah and the respect he had shown our flag."

"He said, 'Tell Jeff Davis he is my brother and a big warrior; that (we are) very poor, but that our tribes are friends.  If he will send your steamer for me, i will visit him in his country.  I send these two chickens to Jeff Davis (the chickens were dead) and some cocoanuts which he will find good.'"

And, What Is So Civilized About Warfare?  I Agree With the King.  --Old B-Runner

Confederate Navy Going Out of Existence

APRIL 12TH, 1865:  Commander Bulloch, Confederate naval agent in England, wrote Secretary Mallory that wherever possible, he had ordered all work on naval accounts stopped and that he intended to transfer the remainder of his outstanding balance to the account of the Confederate Treasury Department.

Like the Confederate government itself, after a long and gallant effort, the Southern Navy was going out of existence.

--Old B-Runner

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Fall of Mobile, Alabama-- Part 2

Secretary Welles extended the Navy Department's congratulations to Rear Admiral Thatcher and major general Gtanger "for this victory, which places in our possession, with but one exception, all the chief points on the Southern coast, and bids fair to the closing of the naval contest of the rebellion."

Before the evacuation of  the city, ironclads CSS Huntsville and Tuscaloosa were sunk in Spanish River.  CSS Nashville, Baltic and Morgan sped up the Tombigbee River to avoid capture.

With the Stars and Stripes raised over Mobile, the Union ironclads steamed upriver in pursuit of the Confederate ships.

--Old B-Runner

Fall of Mobile, Alabama-- Part 1

APRIL 12-12TH, 1865:  Batteries Tracy and Huger, up the Blakely River from Spanish Fort, feel to U.S. forces on the 11th, and Confederate troops retreated through Mobile to Meridian, Mississippi.  USS Octorara, with Commodore Palmer embarked, and the ironclads proceeded up the Blakely River to its intersection with the Tensas River and steamed down the latter to Mobile where they took bombarding position in front of the city.

The gunboats, meanwhile were conveying 8,000 troops across the head of the bay for the final attack on Mobile.  The city already had been evacuated by the retreating Confederates, was surrendered by its mayor.

Treat Us Nice, Or You'll Get the Same

APRIL 11TH, 1865:  President Lincoln issued a proclamation warning nations that continued denial of privileges and immunities to American vessels in foreign ports would result in the United States taking like action against foreign warships.

"In the view of the United States," wrote the President, "no condition can be claimed to justify the denial of them [U.S. naval ships] by anyone of such nations of customary naval rights..."

This document disputing the validity of any view attributing belligerent status to American warships was to be the President's last proclamation dealing with the Navy.

ALSO THIS DATE:  The USS Sea Bird seized the sloops Florida and Annie with cargoes of cotton off Crystal River, Florida.  Both were subsequently destroyed.

--Old B-R'er

Thanks to Navy for Assistance at Charleston

APRIL 10TH, 1865:  Brigadier general Schimmelfennig, upon retiring from command of Charleston District, wrote Read Admiral Dahlgren, commanding the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron, commending the Navy for its "hearty and most efficient assistance."

He added:  "When my troops advanced on the enemy's ground, your gunboats and ironclads went up the rivers and creeks, covering my flanks, entirely regardless of the enemy's fire within most effective range.  Under its cover I safely retreated, when necessary, over marshes and creeks without losing a man."

Thanks A Lot, Navy.  --Old B-Runner

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Blockade Runner Chameleon Puts Into Liverpool

APRIL 9TH, 1865:  Blockade runner Chameleon (formerly CSS Tallahassee), Lt. Wilkinson, puts into Liverpool, England.

With the fall of both Fort Fisher and Charleston in January and February respectively, Wilkinson had been unable to deliver his cargo of provisions destined for General Lee's destitute army defending Richmond (see 19 Januaqry and 5 February).

Sealed off from the Confederacy, Wilkinson off-loaded his cargo in Nassau, took on board extra coal, and set a course for Liverpool with the intention of turning over his ship to Commander Bulloch.  However, the news of the fall of Richmond reached England on the 15th, followed a week later of General Lee's surrender at Appomattox.

Thus, the ship was was seized by the British government and her officers and men, reported Wilkinson, "were turned adrift with the wide world before them where to chose."  Wilkinson established his residence in Nova Scotia where he lived for a number of years before eventually returning to his native Virginia.

The ex-Confederate ship was subsequently sold by the English government and was being prepared for service in the merchant marine under the name Amelia when the American government initiated court action to gain possession of the vessel.  The court awarded the ship to the United States and she was turned over to the American consul in Liverpool on 26 April 1866.

--Old B-Runner

Thursday, April 9, 2015

The Surrender of Lee to Grant-- Part 3

After conversing about their Mexican War experiences, Lee asked for the terms upon which his surrender would be accepted.  Grant replied:  "The terms I propose are those stated substantially in my letter of yesterday, --that is, the officers and men surrendered to be paroled and disqualified from taking up arms again until properly exchanged, and all arms, ammunition and supplies to be delivered up as captured property."

Lee agreed to the terms and Grant then wrote them out.  He specifically provided that Confederate officers would be permitted to keep their side arms, horses and luggage.  This exemption was further broadened at Lee's suggestion, to permit the men in the ranks to retain their horses and mules.

Lee observed that these exemptions "were very gratifying and will do much toward conciliating our people."

The long and bitter war was ending ashore, although fiery drama still awaited in far off Northern seas (CSS Shenandoah).

--Old B-R'er

The Surrender of Lee to Grant-- Part 2

The contrast between the two Generals at the confrontation in the living room of the McLean Hose was most striking.  Grant's mud-splattered uniform was that of a private with only the shoulder straps of a Lieutenant General to designate his rank.  His uniform was unbuttoned at the neck and was unadorned by either sword or spurs.

Lee, on the other hand, had taken special pains for his last act of the drama a sif dressing for execution.  His uniform was immaculate, his jewel studded sword of the finest workmanship.  His well-polished boots were ornamented with red stitching and set off by a handsome pair of spurs.

--Old B-Runner


Surrender of Lee to Grant-- Part 1

APRIL 9, 1865:  General Lee met General Grant at Appomattox Court House and formally surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia.  Tear Admiral Semmes and his naval brigade, charged with the defense of Danville were included in the surrender.

Lee's struggle to break free from Grant's overwhelming army, well-fed and supplied from City Point, had failed.  His effort to join Johnston, hopefully far enough from the sea to limit Grant's logistical naval superiority, had come fatefully to an end.

One of the greatest armies and leaders of history without an adequate Navy had succumbed to the united power of land and sea.

--Old B-R'er

Confederate Archives and Treasury Arrive in Charlotte, N.C.

APRIL 8-11TH, 1865:  Lt. W,H.Parker, commander of the midshipmen who were escorting the Confederate archives and treasury, arrived in Charlotte, North Carolina, from Danville and deposited the important cargo in the Confederate Mint located in that city.

While waiting for more orders, Parker learned that a Union cavalry detachment was nearby and since the city was without military protection, he, on his own initiative, prepared to move the archives and treasury southward.  He added the personnel of the local Confederate Navy Yard to his escort, bringing his number up to 150 and drew quantities of provisions from the naval warehouse.

Parker offered the protection of his command to Mrs. Jefferson Davis, who had only recently arrived in Charlotte, and strongly urged that she accompany him southward.  Mrs. Davis accepted his offer, and on the 11th, the Navy-escorted entourage bearing the archives, treasury, and the first lady of the Confederacy set out from Charlotte.

--Old B-Runner


Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Spanish Fort Falls

APRIL 8TH, 1865:  Invested by General Canby's troops and bombarded heavily by the guns of Rear Admiral Thatcher's ships, Spanish Fort and Fort Alexis, keys to the defense of Mobile, finally fall.  In reporting the capture to Secretary Welles, Thatcher noted the efficiency of the naval battery on shore under Lt.Cmdr. Gillis (the one from the sunken USS Milwaukee).

He added:  "Eighteen large submerged torpedoes were taken by our boats from Apalachee or Blakely River last night in the immediate vicinity of our gunboats.  These are the only enemies that we regard."

The loss of a half dozen vessels to torpedoes near Mobile since the USS Tecumseh was sunk by one in August had taught Union naval officers an unforgettable lesson about torpedo warfare.

The onfederate defenders of Mobile Bay were supported by a squadron under Flag Officer Ebenezer Farrand, consisted of the CSS Nashville, Morgan, Huntsville, Tuscaloosa and Baltic.

--Old B-R'er

The Aftermath of the CSS Albemarle

From Wikipedia.

Confederate Captain Alexander F. Worley had been appointed the CSS Albemarle's commander one month before Union Lt. William Cushing sank it on October 27, 1864.  After sinking, the casemate of the vessel remained above the Roanoke River as it settled about six feet to the river bottom.  The Confederates then salvaged the two Brooke rifled cannons and they were used in the defense of Plymouth.

After the fall of Plymouth, the Union Navy raised the ship on March 20, 1865, and placed a temporary patch on the hull.  Near the end of the war, the USS Ceres towed the Albemarle to the Norfolk Navy yard where it arrived April 27, 1865.

Despite the war being over, on June 7th, orders were received to repair the hull and it entered dry dock where work was completed 14 August 1865.  A short two weeks later, it was condemned by the Washington, D.C. prize court and placed in ordinary in Norfolk where it remained until sold at auction 15 October 1867 to J.N. Leonard Company who probably scrapped it for salvage.

I imagine it was repaired to bring a greater price at auction.  There is a famous picture of the Albemarle with a woman standing on the deck.  It is too bad the ship wasn't just kept so that it could be turned into a museum at a later date.

--Old B-Runner

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Macomb Still Operating in North Carolina

APRIL 7TH, 1865:  Commander Macomb reported to Rear Admiral Porter on developments in North Carolina near the Virginia border:  "We arrived here [Winton] from Murfreesboro last night without accident.  The army force has returned and we are going back to Suffolk.

"They found Weldon too strong for them, but succeeded in cutting the Seaboard Railroad near Seaboard for about a mile.  I shall lie here some time longer in order to be ready for any more troops that may wish to cross."

--Old B-R'er

Hunley Museum Created in North Charleston, S.C.

From the April 3, 2015, Washington Times "Museum created at lab where historic submarine conserved" by Bruce Smith, AP.

North Charleston, South Carolina.  Artifacts that were formerly displayed hodge-podge where the Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley is being conserved are now arrayed in a manner that makes sense in a museum next to the lab.

The conservation work on the famous sub is expected to take another five years, but now, working with design Dimensions of Raleigh, N.C., a museum has been created.  It includes interactive exhibits, videos and displays.  there is also an exhibit that explains what was happening in Charleston during the war.  then visitors see information about the vessel and its crew, then they get to see the actual Hunley.

It is estimated that more than 500,000 have viewed the submarine over the years (and that is considering it is usually open only on the weekends which it was when I tried to see it awhile back during the week).

Once the ship is conserved, the Hunley will be on permanent display in a $40 million museum to be built nearby.

Good Old Friends of the Hunley Doing Some More Greay Work.  --Old B-Runner


Monday, April 6, 2015

Confederate Torpedoes on the James River

APRIL 6TH, 1865:  Lt.Cmdr. Ramsay indicated the extent of the Confederate underwater defenses of the James River as he reported to Rear Admiral Porter on an expedition aimed at clearing out the torpedoes"  "All galvanic batteries were carried off and destroyed.  At Chaffin's Bluff there was a torpedo containing 1,700 pounds of powder.

"At Battery Semmes there were two, containing 850 pounds each, and at Howlett's one containing 1,400 pounds.  I cut the wires of them all close down, so that they are now perfectly harmless."

Woe to the Ship Encountering Them When They Were Armed.  --Old B-Runner

Army-Navy Cooperation on the Mississippi River

APRIL 6TH, 1865:  Acting Lt. John Rogers, commanding both the USS Carondelet and Eastport, Mississippi, station, wrote Brigadier General Edward Hatcher about joint operations in the area and expressed a desire to cooperate to the extent of his ability:  "...if you are in danger of being attacked by the Enemy...send timely notice to us, that everything connected with the Army and Navy may work harmoniously together."

From the early moments of the war, such as the Battle of Belmont in 1861, to the last days of the conflict, the usual close coordination of the Army and Navy enabled the Union to strike quickly and effectively in the West--first against Confederate positions, and later against Confederate threats.

--Old B-R'er

Operations on the Chowan River, N.C.

APRIL 5TH, 1865:  Commander Macomb steadily pushed up the narrowing Chowan River and its tributaries preparing for General Sherman's move north.  This date he reported from "Meherrin River, near Murfreesboro, N.C. near the Virginia border and far inland:  "The steamer Shokokon arrived at Winton yesterday, and I have stationed her a short distance below here near an ugly bluff some 60 or 80 feet high, on which I thought the rebels might give us some trouble on our return.

"There were some rifle pits on the brow of this bluff, but I sent a party down there and had them filled up.  There is also an old earthwork, made to mount six guns a short distance below here which I have partially destroyed.

"The river is rather narrower than the Roanoke, but not quite so crooked.  I got 50 men (soldiers) from Winton to hold the bluff till we have passed, the river being very crooked and narrow at this point, so much so that we are unable to steam by, but will have to warp the ship round."

--Old B-R'er

Steamer Harriet DeFord Seized by Confederate Guerrillas

APRIL 5TH, 1865:  The steamer Harriet DeFord was boarded and seized in Chesapeake Bay, 30 miles below Annapolis, Maryland by a party of 27 Confederate guerrillas led by Captain T. Fitzhugh.  A naval detachment under Lt.Cmdr. Edward Hooker was sent in pursuit and found the vessel trapped in Dimer's Creek, Virginia, burned to the water's edge.

A captive reported that a pilot had taken the steamer into the creek and that she went aground several times.  Some of the cargo was thrown overboard to lighten the ship and the remainder unloaded with the help of local farmers before the torch was put to it.

--Old B-Runner
APRIL 4TH, 1865:  A naval battery of three 30-pounder Parrott rifles, seaman and commanded by Lt.Cmdr. Gillis, the former commander of the torpedoed monitor USS Milwaukee, was landed on the banks of the Blakely River to join in the bombardment of Spanish Fort, the Confederate stronghold point in the defense of Mobile.

General Canby reported that the "battery behaved admirably."

--Old B-R'er

Boats Not Big Enough at Mobile

APRIL 4TH, 1865:  General Canby requested Rear Admiral Thatcher to provide assistance in the form of "eight or ten boats...and fifty or sixty sailors to row them" for the purpose of moving troops to assault Batteries Tracy and Huger, part of Mobile's defenses.

The Admiral agreed to supply the boats but noted: "To send sixty men in these boats to row them will be nearly a load for them, at least they will be nearly filled with their own crews, so that an assaulting party would find but little room in them, particularly as our vessels are all small and their boats proportionately so.

"I would therefore respectively suggest that your assaulting party be drilled at the oars."

--Old B-Runner


Saturday, April 4, 2015

Lincoln Visits Richmond This Day in 1865-- Part 3

In his report to Secretary Welles, porter wrote:  "We found that the rebel arms and gunboats had all been blown up, with the exception of an unfinished ram, the texas, and a small tug gunboat, the Beaufort, mounting one gun."

The ships destroyed included the 4-gun ironclads Virginia No. 2, Richmond, and Fredericksnurg; wooden ships Nansemond, 2 guns; Hampton, 2 guns; Roanoke, 1 gun; Torpedo, Shrapnel, and schoolship Patrick Henry.

"Some of them are in sight above water, and may be raised," Porter wrote.

"They partly obstruct the channel where they are now, and will either have to be raised or blown up."  He added: "Tredegar Works and the naval depot remain untouched."

With the James River squadron destroyed and the capital evacuated, the Confederacy was certain to fall soon.  As Vice Admiral Farragut, who had preceded the President and Porter to Richmond said, "Thank God, it is about over."

--Old B-Runner

Lincoln Visits Richmond This Day in 1865-- Part 2

"It was a mild spring day.  Birds were singing in the orchards on either side of the river, and the trees were in bloom.  As the party pulled up the river they saw a wide curtain of smoke rise on the horizon ahead.  Richmond was on fire.

"On evacuating the city the Confederates had fired their magazines and warehouses of cotton and tobacco; and bursting projectiles had dropped over the town, setting fire to a wide swath of dwellings and buildings in the business district.

"The party landed one block from Libby Prison.  Porter formed ten of the sailors into a guard.  They were armed with carbines.  Six marched in front and four in the rear, and in the middle with the President and Admiral walked Captain Penrose, Lincoln's military aide, Captain Adams of the Navy, and Lieutenant Clemens of the Signal Corps.

"Lincoln with his tall hat towered more than a foot above the thick-set Admiral, whose flat seaman's cap emphasized his five feet seven inches."

The President "was received with the strongest demonstrations of joy."

--A Long hard Journey to Get There.  --Old B-R'er

Lincoln Visits Richmond This Day in 1865-- Part 1

APRIL 4, 1865:  Rear Admiral Porter accompanied President Lincoln up the James River to Richmond on board his flagship the Malvern.  When obstructions blocked the flagship's way, the two embarked in Porter's barge, with three aides and boat crew of twelve.

Thus in a single small boat under oars, significantly by water, the President reached the Southern capital that for four years had been so near for conquest by Union armies, yet had so long been held safe by the remarkable Lee and his hard fighting army.

Of course, here was the leader of the Union about to enter the capital of the Confederacy accompanied only by an escort of 12 men.  Just days earlier it had still been under Lee's control and, who knew what dangers might still be in the capital.

Of interest also, the USS Malvern had been the former blockade-runner Ella and Annie and had been Porter's flagship at both battles of Fort Fisher.

--Old B-Runner

Lee Forgets Naval Brigade at Drewry's Bluff

APRIL 3-6TH, 1865:  General Lee, in his hardpressed and hurried evacuation from Richmond, neglected to apprise Commodore John R. Tucker, commanding the Confederate Naval Brigade at Drewry's Bluff on the James River, of the projected evacuation of the capital.

Tucker maintained his station until the 3rd when he saw the smoke from the burning ironclads and learned that Confederate troops were streaming out of Richmond.

Tucker then joined the Naval Brigade to major general Custis Lee's division of Lt. general Richard S. Ewell's corps.  The brigade participated in Ewell's rear guard stand at Sailor's Creek on April 6 which was intended to cover the westward retreat.

The Naval brigade was captured along with Ewell's entire corps but was the last to surrender.  Tucket tendered his sword to Lt. General J. Warren Keifer.  Some years after the war, when Keifer had become a prominent member of Congress, he returned the sword to the ex-Confederate naval officer.

--Old B-R'er

Sweeping for Torpedoes in the James River-- Part 2

Sweeping for torpedoes (mines) was conducted by some 20 boats from 10 ships in the flotilla.  Lt.Cmdr. Ralph Chandler, directing the sweeping operations, gave details:  "Each boat's bow laps the port quarter of the boat just ahead and will lap within the 2 or 3 feet of her.  Each vessel will send an officer to take charge of the two boats.

"Lieutenant Gillett of the Sangamon, and Lieutenant Reed, of the Lehigh, will have charge of the shore parties to keep ahead of the boats and cut all torpedo wires.  The wires should be cut in two places.  Lieutenant Gillett will take the right bank going up and Lieutenant Reed the left.

"Twenty men from the Monadnock will be detailed for this service and will be armed as skirmishers with at least twenty rounds of ammunition.  Two pairs of shears should be furnished to the shore parties.  The officer in charge will throw out pickets, leaving two men to follow the beach to cut the wires."

With the upper river cleared of torpedoes and obstructions, Union ships steamed up to Richmond.

--Old B-Runner

Sweeping for Torpedoes in the James River-- Part 1

APRIL 3-4TH, 1865:  As General Lee withdrew from the lines he had so long and brilliantly held, the Federal fleet on the James River sought to move on with the Army to Richmond.  Even with the Confederate fleet and defenses gone, real risks still faced them.  Namely, the dreaded torpedoes were still there as were obstructions.

Rear Admiral porter had ordered: "Remove all torpedoes carefully and such of the obstructions as may prevent free navigation of the river, using our torpedoes for this purpose if necessary.  be careful and thorough in dragging the river for torpedoes and send men along the banks to cut the wires."

--Old B-R'er

Confederate Midshipmen at the Confederacy's End

APRIL 3, 1865:  Fifty of the sixty midshipmen at the Confederate Naval Academy, under the command of Lt. William H. Parker, escorted the archives of the government and the specie and bullion of the treasury from Richmond to Danville.

There, Midshipman Raphael Semmes, Junior, was detached from the escort corps and detailed to the staff of his father.

The Midshipmen Corps continued to be entrusted with the select guard duty during subsequent moves of the archives and treasury to Charlotte, N.C.; Washington, Ga.; Augusta, Ga.; and finally to Abbeville, S.C..

The ten midshipmen who remained in Richmond under the command of Lt. James W. Billups, CSN, fired and scuttled the CSS Patrick Henry, schoolship of the Naval Academy.

--Old B-Runner

Friday, April 3, 2015

The End of the Confederate James River Squadron-- Part 3: Semmes Appointed Brigadier General

Semmes disembarked his men at Richmond, then put the torch to the gunboats and set them adrift.  The naval detachment, seeking transportation westward out of the evacuated Confederate capital, was forced to provide its own.

The sailors found and fired up a locomotive, assembled and attached a number of railroad cars, and proceeded to Danville, arriving on the 4th.  Semmes was then commissioned a brigadier general and placed in command of the defenses that had been thrown up around Danville.

these defenses were manned by sailors who had been organized into an artillery brigade and by two battalions of infantry.  The command was retained by Semmes until Lee's surrender at Appomattoc five days later.

--Old B-R'er

The End of the Confederate James River Squadron-- Part 2: Destruction of the Ironclads

Mallory's orders to destroy the squadron were carried out by Semmes.  After outfitting his men with arms and field equipment, the admiral burned and scuttl;ed his three formidable ironclads, CSS Virginia No. 2, Fredericksburg and Richmond near Drewry's Bluff.  By 3 a.m. on 3 April the ironclads were well on fire, and Semmes placed his 400 men on wooden gunboats.

Semmes later wrote:  "My little squadron of wooden boats now moved off up the river [to Richmond], by the glare of the burning iron-clads.  They had proceeded far before an explosion, like the shock of an earthquake, took place, and the air was filled with missiles.

"It was the blowing up of the Virginia, my late flag-ship.  The spectacle was grand beyond description.  Her shell-rooms had been full of loaded shells.  The explosion of the magazine threw all of these shells, with fuses lighted, into the air.

"The fuses were of different lengths, and as the shells exploded by twos and threes, and by dozen, the pyrotechnic effect was very fine.  The explosion shook the houses in Richmond, and must have waked the echoes of the night for forty miles around."

I can't understand why the ships did not attempt to go down the James River and attack City Point and perhaps go on out to sea, regardless of obstructions and Union ships.

They Had Nothing to Lose.  --Old B-Runner

The End of the Confederate James River Squadron-- Part 1: Ordered to destroy the Squadron

APRIL 2-4TH, 1865:  Secretary of the Navy Mallory ordered the destruction of the Confederate James River squadron and directed its officers and men to join General Lee's troops then in the process of evacuating Richmond and retreating westward toward Danville.

As Mallory left Richmond with Davis and his cabinet late at night on the 2nd, the train passed over the James River.  Later, as a prisoner of war at Fort Lafayette, the Secretary reflected his thoughts at the time:  "The James River squadron, with its ironclads, which had lain like chained bulldogs under the command of Rear Admiral Raphael Semmes to prevent the ascent of the enemy's ships, would, in the classic flash of the times, 'go up' before morning...; and the naval operations of the Confederacy east of the Mississippi would cease."

--Old B-Runner

Supporting Sherman in North Carolina-- Part 2

"On our way up the river this morning we were overtaken by three canal boats loaded with troops (which had come from Norfolk, I believe), which followed us up and are now lying along the western shore, the troops having debarked on the side."

He concluded with a request for coal for his warships.  happily, two coal schooners from Philadelphia arrived at New Bern that same day and were soon enroute to him.

Coal was a problem all during the war.  Without bases for supply on the Confederate coast the Union Navy could not have carried out its ceaseless attacks and blockade.

--Old B-R'er

Supporting Sherman in North Carolina-- Part 1

APRIL 2, 1865:  Supporting General Sherman in North Carolina, Commander Macomb reported to Porter:  "In obedience to directions contained i9n your letter of the 28th ultimo, I started yesterday evening from Plymouth with the Shamrock, Wyoming, Hunchback, Valley City and Whitehead and proceeded up this river as far as the Stumpy Reach (about 10 miles from the mouth), where we came to anchor for the night.

"We had proceeded this far without dragging for torpedoes, in order to make quicker time (the river being broad and not suitable for torpedoes), but on starting this morning, we dragged the channel ahead of us, in which manner we advanced all day, and reached this place about 5 p.m. without having encountered any torpedoes....

"I have brought up three large flats, with which I ferry the regiment over.  I left orders at New Berne for the Commodore Hull and Shokokon to join me as soon as possible."

--Old B-Runner

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Lincoln Returns to Washington: Shrank Six Inches and About a Foot Sideways

APRIL 1-2ND, 1865:  Mrs. Lincoln had returned to Washington on the River Queen on 1 April.  The President embarked in the Malvern with Admiral Porter.  His "bunk was too short for his length, and he was compelled to fold his legs the first night" but Porter's carpenters remodeled the cabin on the sly, and the second morning Lincoln appeared at breakfast with the story that he had shrunk "six inches in length and about a foot sideways.

During the evening of the 2nd the tow sat on the upper deck of the ship listening to the artillery and musketry ashore as General Grant's troops, having rendered Richmond untenable with a crushing victory that day at Petersburg closed in on the Confederate capital.

Lincoln asked the Admiral:  "Can't the Navy do something at this particular moment to make history?"

Porter's reply was a tribute to the officers and men throughout the Navy who all during the war made history through vital if often unheralded deeds:  "The Navy is doing its best just now holding the enemy's four [three] heavy iron-clads in utter uselessness.  If those vessels could reach City Point they would commit great havoc...."

Grant's position on the Petersburg-Richmond front had long depended on holding City point where water borne supplies could be brought.  The federal fleet guarded and maintained this vital base.

--Old B-R'er

The Beginning of the End for Lee and the Confederacy

APRIL 1-2ND, 1865:  As spring blossomed in Virginia, General Grant's powerful Army, outnumbering Lee's several times, unleashed its final attack.  On 1 April he outflanked Lee's thin lines southwest of Petersburg at the Battle of Five Forks.

he ordered an all-out assault on Petersburg along the entire front for the 2nd.  Union batteries fired all night preparing for the attack.  Fort Sedgwick's heavy fire again earned it the nickname "Fort Hell."  Porter's fleet made a feint attack up the James River.

The Confederates fought fiercely in Petersburg  throughout the 2nd, but one by one their strong points fell.  That night, lee withdrew.

--Old B-Runner

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The Sinking of the SS General Lyon on March 31, 1865

I even wrote about this ship disaster in my Saw the Elephant Blog yesterday, but failed to mention that yesterday was the 150th anniversary of this largely forgotten tragedy.  It was even mentioned in the Civil War Naval Chronology, CWNC) which I have been using so much in this blog.

I know it was an army transport, but the fact it was at sea off Cape Hatteras North Carolina, and the large number of deaths (at least 520 and as high as 578) should have been listed in the CWNC.

I make amends for it today.

To the Memory of the Poor Souls Aboard the SS General Lyon 150 Years Ago.  --Old Secesh

The USS Rodolph's Mobile Bay Service

The USS Rodolph arrived in Mobile Bay from New orleans on 14 August 1864 and participated in forcing the surrender of Fort Morgan on 23 August.

Acting master's Mate Nathaniel B. Hinckley, serving on board the Rodolph, told his son man y years after the war that he had carried the Confederate flag from the captured fort and turned it over to a patrol boat.

 The Rodolph had remained in the Bay and its tributaries as Union forces under General Canby continued their relentless drive against the defenses of.Mobile.

Hinckley had been stationed in the tinclad's forecastle when she struck the torpedo that sank her but had escaped injury.

--Old B-Rer

Mobile Torpedoes Claim Another Victim, USS Rodolph

APRIL 1ST, 1865:  Despite all the losses, the Confederacy did have another piece of good news.  The USS Rodolph, temporarily commanded by her executive officer, Acting Ensign James F. Thompson, struck a torpedo in the Blakely River, Alabama, and rapidly sank in 12 feet of water."

The tinclad was towing a barge containing apparatus for raising the USS Milwaukee, a torpedo victim on 28 March.  Acting Master N. Mayo Dyer, Rodolph's commanding officer, reported that "from the effects of the explosion that can be seen, I should judge there was hole through the bow at least ten feet in diameter...."

Four men were killed and eleven others wounded.

The Rodolph was the third warship lost to torpedoes in five days in the same area.  Confederate torpedo warfare had played an important part in the continuing combined operations in Mobile Bay, ever sincethe passing of Farragut's fleet on August 5, 1864.

--Old B-Runner

CSS Shenandoah Puts Into Ascension Island-- Part 2: Mighy Valuable Charts

Waddell wrote:  "With such charts in my possession I not only held the key to the navigation of all the Pacific Islands, the Okhotsk and Bering Seas, and the Arctic Ocean, but the most probable locations for finding the great Arctic whaling fleet of New England, without a tiresome search."

In addition to obtaining the intelligence and the charts essential to future operations, Waddell stocked the Shenandoah's depleted storerooms with provisions and supplies.  The four captured ships were then drawn upon a reef where the natives were permitted to strip them from truck halyards to copper sheathing on their keels.

Of the 130 prisoners, 8 were shipped on board the Shenandoah, the remainder were set ashore to be picked up by a passing whaler.  The four vessels, totaling $116,000 in value, were then burned.

--Old B-R'er

CSS Shenandoah Puts Into Lea Harbor, Ascension Island-- Part 1: "It Would Be a Very Good April Fool"

APRIL 1ST, 1865:  The CSS Shenandoah, Lt. Waddell, put into Lea Harbor, Ascension Island, (Ponape, Island, Eastern Carolines).  A number of sail had been sighted from the cruiser's decks as she approached the island, and, Waddell reported "...we began to think if they were not whale ships it would be a very good April fool."

They had only sighted one ship between 20 February, shortly after departing Melbourne, and this date.  They were not disappointed or fooled.  Waddell found the whalers Pearl, Hector, Harvest and Edward Carey in the harbor and seized them.  They also obtained vital charts showing the locations of the whaling grounds most frequented by American whalers.

--Old B-Runner

Union Sea Power Being Felt This Date-- Part 2: Gulf and Inland Waters

Far down in the Gulf of Mexico, Major General Canby, with 45,000 soldiers brought and supplied by transports, lay at the gates of the crumbling defenses of Mobile which was manned by 10,000 Confederates under general Dabney Maury.

Although constantly under attack along the Mississippi and its tributaries, Federal gunboats kept the river lifeline open open to occupying armies.

The Trans-Mississippi (west of the river) still largely held by Confederates, was tightly blockaded by the Union Navy.

--Old B-R'er

Union Sea Power Being Felt on This Date-- Part 1: East Coast

APRIL 1st, 1865:  The positions of the opposing forces on this date demonstrated vividly what superiority afloat had meant to the North in this giant struggle that decided the future of the nation.  From his overflowing supply bases on the James River at City Point, only a few miles from General Lee's lines, General Grant was on the move for the final battle of the long saga in Virginia.  Lee surrendered just eight days later.

To the South, in North Carolina, backed by his seaport bases at New Bern and Wilmington, Sherman's massive armies were joined to strike Gen. Johnston at the capital city of Raleigh.

Charleston and Savannah were Union bases.

--Old B-Runner