Fort Fisher

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

Monday, August 31, 2015

Key West Preserves Its Confederate Memorials

From the August 25, 2015, WLRN Miami/South Florida "Key West Preserves Memorials to Confederate and Union armies" by Nancy Klingener.

This is refreshing news what with all the effort to remove and ban Confederate memorials elsewhere these days.  Finally a city doing the right thing.

The nation's southern-most city is restoring its memorials to both sides.  One is a white pavilion in Bayview Park erected by the UDC in 1924.  There is also a monument about 140 yards away dedicated to soldiers from two New York regiments stationed in Key West and who died of diseases like yellow fever.

Another part of Bayview Park has a memorial to blacks who joined the Union Army in Key West.

Thanks to fast thinking by a Union officer who had his men occupy the still unfinished Fort Zachary Taylor when Florida seceded,  Key West remained in Union hands throughout the war.

Confederate Secretary of the Navy, Stephen Mallory, whose name is on the famed Mallory Square, was a Key West native.

Downtown near the harbor, the Key West Navy Club put up an obelisk in 1866 dedicated to Union soldiers and sailors who died in Key West during the war.  The low, cast-iron fence surrounding it bears the name of its builder, J.V. Harris, a Confederate veteran.

--Old B-Runner

Saturday, August 29, 2015

N.C. Senate's Plans for "The Rocks" Still Unknown

From the August 28, 2015, Coastal review Online by Kurt Ross.

The 140-year-old New Inlet Dam at Zeke's island on the Cape Fear River is being studied for a determination as to whether pert or all of it will be removed.  The cost will be included in the final state budget.

During the Civil War, New Inlet, guarded by Fort Fisher, was a favorite entrance and exit to the Cape Fear River and Wilmington, North Carolina.  After the war, it was decided that the inlet would be closed to prevent silting and a two-mile dam was built by the Army Corps of Engineers.  It was completed in 1871.  The dam prohibits what some now consider the natural flow of water between the Cape Fear River and the ocean.

Zeke Island was formed after the dam was built.  It is one of the three original islands in the National Estuarine Research Reserve components established by the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration and the North Carolina Division of Coastal Management in 1985.

I walked on "The Rocks" as they are called this past July and they are in bad shape.  The original covering over the rocks has broken down in many places making walking on it somewhat dangerous.  I am not sure whether I want it removed or not.  It has always been there and we have been on it often as well as fishing and crabbing from it.  But, it would be somewhat neat to have New Inlet back as it was during the Civil War.

--Old B-Runner

Friday, August 28, 2015

Porter Appointed to Command Naval Academy 150 Years Ago

AUGUST 28TH, 1865:  Rear Admiral David Dixon Porter, who had commanded the Mississippi Squadron in the early part of the war and the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron in the latter part of the conflict, was appointed Superintendent of the Naval Academy.

Under his supervision the school was returned to its pre-war location at Annapolis, Maryland.  At the outbreak of the war, the Academy had been moved to Newport, Rhode Island, where the resort hotel Atlantic House and the historic frigate USS Constitution were utilized for housing and classrooms.

Porter was also confronted with the task of refurbishing the buildings and grounds which, during the war, had been used as an Army post and field hospital.

Porter served as Superintendent for four years and while at the Academy was promoted to the rank of Vice Admiral.

--Old B-R'er

Raising the CSS Georgia-- Part 5: Six Cannons, All Recovered Now

Some accounts of the CSS Georgia's demise said that they heard an explosion.  But, it is clear that Confederate sailors opened the ship's stop-cocks, flooding it.

Four years later, dynamite was used to destroy the Georgia and other obstructions in the Savannah River.  After that, the ship all but disappeared to history until rediscovered 100 years later during dredging.  In 1986, divers pulled up two of the Georgia's 6 cannons, one still stuffed with live shells put in backwards to spike it.  Last month, the other four were retrieved from the river bottom.  At least one of the 1986 cannons is on display at Old Fort Jackson as I saw it back in April.

The Georgia's propeller is deep in the river much.  It and other large pieces were mapped out months ago by archaeological divers.

This article also contained a lot of information on the diving being done at the ship.

--Old B-Runner

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Raising the CSS Georgia-- Part 4: "A Splendid Failure"

The divers must wear 150 pounds of gear to dive on the Georgia.  They have 60-90 minute windows to get their work done.  They often slip straps around objects which will be raised by crane.  One such item took three dives, 6 divers and almost as many hours to retrieve.

The Savannah Ladies Gunboat Association were responsible for raising funds to build the ship.  They advertised in Georgia newspapers and held concerts and other performances to raise $115 Confederate dollars according to Michael Jordan who is an expert on the ship's history.

Serving on the Georgia was a miserable experience.  An officer wrote: "Horrible being shut up here in these swamps, in an iron box."

One woman wrote in 1862" "Our floating battery is a splendid failure.  During a long storm last week, she leaked also from the roof so there was not a dry spot for the men or anything close in the vessel.  Even their beds were wet."

But, the ship had its supporters.  Another wrote iy was "worth all the cost as a floating battery in the defense of the city."

Wonder What the Gators Think About All This.  --Old B-Runner

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Raising the CSS Georgia-- Part 3: Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit

Diving on the wreck of the CSS Georgia is made even more difficult because of the near zero visibility.  Divers wear heavy suits of canvas, boots, gloves and big yellow helmets.  Each has cables, one red and one green.  This supplies air and guidance from the surface.  There is always the risk of entangling those cables which brings about a very serious situation.

This is an extraordinary project for the Navy divers from the Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit, based at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek in Virginia Beach.  This group consists of some of the world's premier divers.

Over the last three decades the group has salvaged commercial airliner crashes, the space shuttles Challenger and Columbia and the engines, guns and turret of the USS Monitor.  They made immediate repairs on the USS Cole in Yemen and responded to the 2007 interstate bridge collapse in Minnesota.  They also saw duty after Hurricane Katrina (ten years ago) and the 2010 Haiti earthquake.

Service with the group can also be deadly.  In February 2013, two divers drowned in a practice pool in Maryland.

An Elite Band.  --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Raising the CSS Georgia-- Part 2: Getting Off the Ship

The experience was so miserable that some decided to desert.  "Some deserted, only to be tracked down and returned to the ship, where they were slapped in leg irons (some found on the wreck), maybe flogged and forced into the gunboat's suffocating innards shoveling coal.

"Someone had to keep the boiler going day and night, otherwise the Georgia would surely sink."  Not only could the ship not move, she was extremely leaky because of the green wood used in her construction.

Then came one William T. Sherman and his army after its March Across Georgia.  He arrived by Savannah in late December 1864, less than two and a half years after the ship was built.  The ship's captain gave orders to spike the guns, scuttle the ship and retreat to prevent its capture.

The next day, the CSS Georgia was at the bottom of the Savannah River where it remained for the next 150 years.

--Old B-Runner

Monday, August 24, 2015

Raising the CSS Georgia-- Part 1: Serving On Her a Miserable Experience

From the August 12, 2015, Virginian-Pilot/ by Dianna Cahn.

Not the best possible assignment.  that had to have been the thought of the poor sailors stationed aboard the Confederate ironclad ram CSS Georgia on the Savannah River in Georgia.  If they had any ideas for glory, it wasn't going to happen on this ship.  What they were on was "a leaky, broiling iron box with engines too weak to maneuver the powerful currents of the Savannah River.

So the ship sat immobile on the river opposite Fort Jackson, her guns pointed downriver toward the Atlantic and her men were just miserable.  At least she served as an obstacle to keep the Union fleet from sailing up the river to take Savannah.

--Old B-Runner

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Henry S. Stellwagen-- Part 4: The Gerry E. Studds-Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary

While looking up Henry Stellwagen on Yahoo! I kept coming across mention of a bank and I thought it was referring to a financial institution and ignored the sites.  I eventually arrived at the conclusion that this was a bank in the water, so checked it out.

From the site.

Fishermen had called the Middle Ground for years, but it took Henry S. Stellwagen, a lieutenant-commander in the USN on loan to the U.S. Coast Survey working from the U.S. Coast Survey steamer Bibb to map the entire length and breadth of the bank from 1854-1856.

The bank is located between Cape Cod and Cape Ann in Massachusetts.

--Old B-Runner

Friday, August 21, 2015

Alexander Thomas Doig of the USS Mercedita-- Part 2: Damage From the CSS Palmetto State Attack

Alexander Doig joined the U.S. Navy 25 November 1861 as an acting first engineer and served for 36 months.  he served on the USS Mercedita in the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron.

His report after the battle damage suffered by his ship in its fight with the Confederate ironclad ram CSS Palmetto State on January 31, 1863:

"USS Mercedita, Port Royal harbor, January 31, 1863

Sir: I respectfully beg leave to report the damage done to the boilers and machinery during the action this morning and the present condition of same.

"The enemy's shell penetrated the engine room bulkhead on the starboard side about 5 feet abaft the stern chimney, striking the port one and carrying away at least four feet of the outer shell.

"The steam immediately escaped from the boilers and filled the engine and fire rooms, thereby leaving the machinery in useless condition."

After an examination of it, he found that he could raise some steam and the ship could move under its own power which was when it was decided to take it to Port Royal for temporary repairs.

Doig resigned from the Navy on 6 June 1863.

--Old B-R'er

Alexander Thomas Doig of the USS Mercedita-- Part 1: From Scotland

From the Descendants of Robert Doig of Scotland site.

He was engineer on the USS Mercedita in its battle with the CSS Palmetto State in 1863 which I wrote about recently.  The ship was commanded by Henry Stellwagen.

ALEXANDER THOMAS DOIG was born 4 December 1821 in Of Dundee, Angus, Scotland.  Died 16 April 1869 at 406 Hicks Street in Brooklyn, New York and buried at Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn.

In 1841, he was an engineer living on Milton Street in West Derby.  In 1844, he was living in Montreal and then emigrated to New York state about 1846.

The June 29, 861, issue of "Scientific American" mentions an A. Doig, an engineer, who developed a new refrigerated journal (bearing) box for steamship application..  The signature on the patent confirms it was Alexander Doig.

--Old B-Runner

Thursday, August 20, 2015

What Matthew F. Maury Had to Say-- Part 2

Introduction of chinchona (as mentioned in the last post) was a long cherished idea.  Before leaving England Maury had discussed it with a distinguished geographer who had developed plantations in India.  In mexico, Maury had early applied himself to the study of the country's geography, one pupose being to determine the best location for hinchona cultivation.

"Bark of the tree, variously called Calisava, Jesuit's or Peruvian Bark, was a source of quinine vitally needed in the treatment of malaria."

Mauryleft a continuing heritage of good in his wake through life.

I was wondering what chinchona was.  Now I know.

--Old B-R'er

What Matthew F. Maury Had to Say-- Part 1

Maury's reply to his family was characteristic of the stout integrity and dedication of so many naval officers on both sides during the Civil War.  He did not want to be a court drone, but to earn a living--and help make a better world.

"I have come here to provide a home for such of the conquered people as like to emigrate," he wrote.  "Suppose they do not thank me--well, there is still useful and honourable occupation for me here.  There are many things here with which I may identify myself and do good, such as organizing the census, a land survey for the Empire, a system of internal improvements; and though last, not least, the introduction of chinchona cultivation."

--Old B-Runner

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Maury's Family Urge Against It As Well

The members of Matthew Fontaine Maury's family again urged him to abandon his plan of Mexican colonization and go to Russia, accepting the invitation of the Grand Duke Constantine, or go to France where Napoleon III had invited him to live.

Many nations sought the great mind of Maury, leading naval scientist of his time.  Before the Civil War he was the most honored and possibly most noted living American among other nations of the world.

--Old B-R'er

Friends Tell Maury to Forget About Colonizing Mexico

AUGUST 19TH, 1865:  Matthew Fontaine Maury's friend, Captain Martin Jansen of the Netherlands Navy, writing from Delft, Holland, gave another reason for Maury not to proceed with his plans to colonize Mexico with ex-Confederates.  he would probably lose his head with the Emperor if he remained.

"As long as Maximilian tries to make what is called a civilized government his position is unstable and I should not like you to stay there, however sweet and pleasant it may be in the shade of an Emperor's crown....  You may run the chance as his Prime Minister to be a Prince of Empire or to be hung or shot or something worse."

--Old B-Runner

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

CSS Georgia Presentation Packs Museum

From the August 14, 2015, Savannah Morning-News.

More than 1600 objects have now been recovered from the wreck of the Confederate ironclad Georgia in the Savannah River, Georgia.

Thursday, more than 70 people were at the Richmond Hill Museum to hear CSS Georgia expert Michael Jordan talk about the ship.

He wrote his master's thesis on the CSS Georgia and created a documentary and is now creating the official documentary on the project.

The CSS Georgia was built with money raised by the women of Georgia.

--Old B-Runner

Monday, August 17, 2015

Henry S. Stellwagen-- Part 3: "Seat of Ease"

His full name was Henry Schreiner Stellwagen.

His widow, Mary applied for a pension after his death in 1866 and received $30 per annum, possibly per month.  I wasn't able to read the document clearly.

The USS Constellation is still afloat and currently is a museum ship in Baltimore, Maryland.

From the April 30, 2002 Baltimore Sun describing the cabin of Captain Henry Stellwagen on board the USS Constellation.

.The captain slept in a bunk as opposed to the hammocks his men slept in.  Plus, he had a small tub where he could bathe, instead of using deck hoses like his men had to.  The sailors used a plank suspended over the bowsprit to relieve themselves while Stellwagen had his very own "seat of ease."

And, of course, there was his spacious cabin he had to himself.

Sometimes It is Good to be Captain.  --Old B-R'er

Henry S. Stellwagen, USN-- Part 2: Served in the Mediterranean Also

On April 27, 1862, the Mercedita, under Henry Stellwagen's command, captured the blockade-runner Bermuda.

On Jan. 31, 1863, Stellwagen was in command of the USS Merceidta when it was attacked by the Confederate ironclad CSS Palmetto State.  He surrendered the ship, but then took it out of action to a Union base.

After that he commanded the old sailing frigate/sloop USS Constellation on duty in the Mediterranean Sea on May 31, 1864, it was detached from the Mediterranean Station and ordered to report to the West Gulf Blockading Squadron under Admiral Farragut.

During his duty there, he received a sword from Britain for his service on the USS Constellation for its actions saving the British brig Mersey.

From February 23-25, he commanded a squadron from Charleston in his USS Pawnee which was sent out to capture and occupy Georgetown, S.C..

--Old B-Runner

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Henry S. Stellwagen, USN-- Part 1: Surrendered to CSS Palmetto State

I recently wrote about the USS Mercedita which was dispatched to the Dominican Republic at the end of the war to protect American lives and interests.  This ship was originally commanded by Henry S. Stellwagen, a name I have come across on occasion.

However, there is no entry for him on Wikipedia, so I did some of my own research.  I did not find a lot.

Henry Stellwagen died shortly after the end of the war, on July 5, 1866 and is buried at Forest Hill Memorial Park in Huntington Valley, Pennsylvania.  After the Mercedita, he commanded the USS Constellation (as of Jan. 1, 1864)and USS Pawnee.

He was in command of the USS Mercedita when the CSS Palmetto State attacked it in 1863 in Charleston harbor.  Although he surrendered, the Confederate ship did not place a prize crew on board and Stellwagen had the ship leave and go to a Union base for repairs.

On September 24, he married Mary Anne Cook of Philadelphia in some point, but i couldn't find the date.

--Old B-R'er

CSS Shenandoah on Way to England

AUGUST 15-31ST, 1965:  The CSS Shenandoah stood steadily for the empty South Atlantic.  Up to the time of deciding to steer for England, Lieutenant Waddell wrote, the successful raider "had made more than 40,000 miles without an accident.  I felt sure a search would be made for her in the North Pacific and that to run the ship south was important to all concerned.

"Some of the people expressed a desire that I should take the Shenandoah to Australia or New Zealand or any near port rather than attempt to reach Europe.

"There seemed however to me no other course to pursue but the one I had decided upon, and I considered it due to the integrity of all to reject anything and everything like flinching under the severe trial imposed upon us.

"It was my duty as a man and a commanding officer to be careful of the honor as well as the welfare of the one hundred and thirty-two men placed in my hands."

Going Home, Well, To England.  --Old B-Runner

Friday, August 14, 2015

The End of the Union's Mississippi Squadron-- Part 2

Finally, the squadron's operations on the tributaries of the Mississippi, including support of the Army, had projected Union striking power into the deepest reaches of the Confederacy.

The five remaining vessels of the former fleet, which had 80 vessels were placed under operational control of Commodore John W. Livingston, commanding the Mound City Naval Station in Illinois.  This was the only remaining station on the western rivers.

--Old B-R

The End of the Union's Mississippi Squadron-- Part 1

AUGUST 14TH, 1865:  Rear Admiral S.P. Lee hauled down his flag on the USS Tempest and the Mississippi Squadron ceased to exist.  The squadron had played a pivotal role in fashioning the Union's ultimate victory.

In the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers Campaign, naval actions had been decisive in rolling back the Confederacy's northern frontier from Kentucky to Mississippi and Alabama.

Its Mississippi operations at Vicksburg and elsewhere, combined with Admiral Farragut's victory at New Orleans, had severed the Confederacy and denied to its eastern portion the vital supplies of the provision-rich western half.

--Old B-Runner

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Maffitt's CSS Owl-- Part 2

On her last trip into Wilmington, the Owl was almost captured by a Federal cruiser and had to jettison valuable mail and sustained  12 casualties.  This was after Fort Fisher had fallen but Maffitt was unaware of that.

Maffitt then tried to run into Galveston, Texas, but grounded on Bird Island Shoals at the entrance and within range of 16 enemy cruisers.  A tug got her off barely in time and the Owl not only ran into port, but ran out safely as well.

There is some evidence that the last two attempts to run the Federal blockade were made under the name Foam.

--Old B-R'er

Maffitt's CSS Owl, Blockade-Runner-- Part 1

From the  Famous Blockade Runner site.

Back on July 14th, I wrote about Commander Maffitt surrendering his ship, the CSS Owl to British authorities in Liverpool.

The Owl was 230 feet long, had a 26 foot beam, 7.6 foot draft, 14-16 knot speed, long, low and painted a light red.  The perfect blockade-runner commanded by a man who knew how to use them.

The Owl succeeded in running into Wilmington some time in September 1864.  She escaped back to sea 3 October despite her masts being visible all the while she lay in port loading.  The blockade ships wounded her captain and several crew members, but nine shots failed to stop her.

She was in Bermuda with a load of cotton 14-29 October.  On 5 December, Secretary of the Navy Mallory instructed Captain John Newland Maffitt to pick up the Florida's men in Bermuda.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Rear Admiral Godon Takes Command of the Brazil Squadron: Return to Normalcy

AUGUST 12TH, 1865:  Rear Admiral Godon arrived in his flagship USS Susquehanna in te harbor of Bahia, Brazil, pursuant to orders from the Navy department appointing him to the command of the Brazil squadron.  This squadron, dating back to the early 1820s was reactivated after being temporarily discontinued during the Civil War.

Its station extended from the Amazon River to the Magellan Straits and its commander was directed to protect "our flag from insult and property of our citizens from unlawful seizure."

Godon's command consisted of the USS Monadnock, Chippewa, Canonicus, Monticello, Shawmut, Fahkee and Wasp.  (Several of these had been at Fort Fisher.)  The Monadnock and Canonicus were monitors.

Resuming Regular Duties.  --Old B-Runner

USS Mercedita-- Part 3: To the Dominican Republic

In April 1864, the Mercedita was attached to the West Indies Squadron to escort California steamers from New York to Aspinwall, Panama.  Later in the year it joined the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron and operated out of Beaufort, N.C..  It did not take part in the attacks on Fort Fisher.

It then joined the West Gulf Blockading Squadron in March 1865.  In May it joined the search for the Susquehanna.

With the war over, the U.S. Navy resumed its duties of protecting American lives and property,  The Mercedita was sent to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic on 11 August and found the country unsettled (as I wrote about last week)  But there was no sign of a Spanish warship in the vicinity as reported, so departed on 14 August.

It was decommissioned 14 October 1865 and sold at auction in New York 25 October and redocumented for merchant service on 9 November.

On 16 June 1879, it was converted in a brigantine.

--Old B-R'er

USS Mercedita-- Part 2: Attacked by the CSS Palmetto State

It captured three more blockade-runners during April and July.

In September 1862, it was transferred to the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron and arrived off Charleston, S.C., on the 19th and stayed there until the end of January 1863.

The night of January 31, 1863, the Mercedita was at her station off Charleston when the CSS Palmetto State and CSS Chicora, Confederate ironclads, attacked, hoping to recapture the blockade-runner Princess Royal which had been captured two days earlier. It had been carrying engines for new Confederate ironclads.

The Mercedita was attacked by the Palmetto State which rammed her, ripping a hole in the keel, piercing the boiler and putting the ship in sinking condition.  The Palmetto State challenged the Union ship saying, "Surrender or I'll sink you!"  Unable to move or bring its guns to bear, the Mercedita had no other option buy to surrender.

The Confederates, anxious to engage other Union ships in the surprise attack, accepted the paroles of the Mercedita's crew, and, without putting a prize crew aboard, sped off the engage the USS Keystone State and Quaker City.

The crew of the Mercedita made temporary repairs and, contrary to their surrender, limped away to the Union base at Port Royal where more repairs were made and from there to Philadelphia for a complete overhaul.

The Confederates were incensed about the incident.

Once You Surrender, No Take Backs.  --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

USS Mercedita-- Part 1: Captured Apalachicola

Last week, I mentioned that this ship was sent to the Dominican Republic back in August 1865, to preserve American lives and interests as the Navy returned to its prewar duty.

From Wikipedia.

It was launched and commissioned in 1861.  Screw steamer (gunboat) 183 feet in length, 30.3 feet beam, 1,000 tons and carried eight 12-pdr. guns.  Built in Brooklyn and purchased by the U.S. Navy with Commander Henry S. Stellwagen as first commander.

Assigned to the Gulf Blockading Squadron on 3 January 1862 and destroyed two blockade-runners.  In March it was sent to relieve the USS Marion at the West Pass of the Apalachicola River.  It destroyed Confederate batteries at St. Vincent island on 21 March and it and the USS Sagemore captured Apalachicola on April 3rd.

--Old B-R'er

Fort Anderson/ Brunswick Town in N.C. Now Fully Staffed

From the July 29, 2015, State Port Pilot" by Jason Tyler.

The two newest employees have given up more lucrative jobs elsewhere to be full time historians.  Site manager Jim McKeeammon announced that Nick Monroe, 31, and Jesse Bricker have been hired, bringing  the staff up to full strength.

Nick Monroe graduated from UNC-W and recently completed internships at the Cape Fear Museum and Fort Fisher.

One of their main Fort Anderson projects is the excavation of a gun emplacement.  A 32-pdr. cannon replica arrived earlier this year and will be placed on a platform at the emplacement.

--Old B-Runner

Monday, August 10, 2015

Crate of Blockade-Runner Rifles Found-- Part 3

The crate was originally curated by the South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of South Carolina which then donated the crate to Georgia.  In 2007, Delta Air Lines x-rayed the crate but didn't find anything because of the concretion that had formed around the rifles while under water.

Hand tools were used to separate the rifles which were secreted together since most of the wooden crate was gone., but the tin and lead lining remained.  One end of the crate was damaged, evidently from when the Stono sank.  They were placed in alternating butt to muzzle position.
A pattern 53 Enfield rifle in rough condition can go for a few hundred dollars and rarer ones for around $10,000.

It is likened to the cargo of the blockade-runner Modern Greece which ran aground off the Fort Fisher.

--Old B-Runner

Crate of Blockade-Runner Rifles Found-- Part 2

Also found were a bullet mold, tools and tampions.  At least one bears the name T. Turner, well-known English gunmaker Thomas Turner.

The CSS Stono was formerly the USS Isaac Smith which was captured by Confederate land forces on Jan. 30, 1863.  On June 5, 1863, while attempting to run the blockade of Charleston, it was run aground and some of its cargo salvaged. and iy was burned in 1865 to prevent capture.

The Confederacy imported more Enfield rifles than any other small arm.  Enfields were 53 inches long, weighed 9 pounds and fired a .577 calibre Minie Ball.  Am estimated 900,000 were imported.

--Old B-R'er

Crate of Blockade-Runner Rifles Found at Charleston-- Part 1

From the December 18, 2013, Civil War Picket Blog "rare crate of Civil War rifles yields picture of daring Civil War blockade runner" by Phil Gast.

A carefully-constructed box of British-made Enfield rifles which were sunk along with the CSS Stono (former USS Isaac P. Smith) in Charleston Harbor on June 5, 1863.  The time capsule consists of Pattern 1853 Enfield rifle muskets.

There are twenty of them (the Enfields were the second-most widely used rifles during the war, second only to the Springfields).  There are only three-known intact cases of the single-shot weapon known to exist.

The iron rifle bands, locks and bayonets are heavily deteriorated from the over 150-years submerging in salt water..  But the walnut stocks are in "tremendous shape."  Brass components like the butt plates, trigger guards and nose caps are in good shape.

--Old B-Runner

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Abandoned Well at Fort Fisher

From the July 29, 2015, Wilmington Star-News "Area abandoned wells pose no threat, officials say" by Tim Buckland.

Three long fingers of cement are buried around New Hanover County where oil was not found.  Three exploratory wells were drilled in the 1960s and when no oil was found, were filled with cement and capped.

One was near a housing development currently under construction behind Bison Court just east of US-17 in northeast New Hanover County.  A second is near Snow's Cut Park and a third is near a walkway at Fort Fisher Museum.

The Fort Fisher well is he deepest, at 1,558 feet and was drilled by the North Carolina Oil and Gas Company.  The others were drilled by another company.

Jim Steeley, director of the Fort Fisher Historic Site,  says he was completely unaware of its existence.

--Old B-R'er

USS Chancellorsville Leads Security Fleet

From the July 23, 2015, Star Exponent "Naval ship named for local Civil War battle leading security fleet" by Allison Brophy Shampion.

The USS Chancellorsville, a guided missile destroyer will join the maritime security fleet in the Indo-Asian-Pacific region.

However, this ship should be renamed because it was named after a Confederate victory and we all know they flew those horrible Confederate flags and it was a Confederate victory which meant the very horrible :"S" word.

--Old B-Runner

Friday, August 7, 2015

Navy Salvages Two Cannons From CSS Georgia-- Part 2

The first cannon was raised July 15 and the second one on July 21.  Once all are brought ashore (they have found four cannons) technicians will support field inerting (making them non explosive) of the unexploded shells.

The SUPSALF team will be on site (at Old Fort Jackson below Savannah, Georgia) through October.  This team is responsible for Navy ocean engineering, including salvage, in water ship repairs, towing, driving safety, equipment maintenance and procurement.

The letters stand for Supervisor of Salvage and Diving.

--Old B-Runner

Navy Salvages Two Cannons From CSS Georgia-- Part 1

From the July 23, 2015, Marine Log "Navy salvages cannon from wreck of Confederate ironclad."

Well, at least the Confederate ironclad was not flying that flag (although entirely correct since the main flag under attack is the Confederate naval jack) so it so far has not offended certain groups.

The U.S. Navy is providing salvage assistance to bringing up what is left of the CSS Georgia, and that includes bringing up its four cannons.

In 1866, most of the ship's railroad armor was salvaged using underwater charges which shattered the Georgia's wooden hull.

To date, Navy divers have located and recovered 128 pieces of unexploded ordnance.

Bringing them Up.  --Old B-Runner

Thursday, August 6, 2015

USS Monitor Turret Out of the Water-- Part 2

The turret is usually found submerged in a 50,000 gallon treatment tank.  While the tank is drained, it will be inspected.  Periodic sprinkles of hyperpurified, reverse osmosis water will be sprinkled on it to guard against rust.

However, unfortunately, the turret will again be immersed in the tank come August 7th.  That's tomorrow.  i wonder if i have time to catch a plane out to Newport News, Virginia.

Flanking te turret tank are two smaller ones containing two different-sized Dahlgren cannons, also undergoing preservation.

Other items preserved in plastic containers in the wet lab are a stanchion, coat, silver fork and a Navy-issue mustard bottle.

There is one item that no one, even John Quarstein, knows what it is.  However, Quarstein's very favorite artifact is a long thermometer which he knows was often looked at by the Monitor's crew as the ship was "hot, hotter and hottest" during the summer months.

They also have the red lantern which was the last part of the ship seen before it plunged beneath the waves.  It was also the first item discovered when the shipwreck was found.

The USS Monitor Foundation is currently attempting to raise $5 million in the next two years in order to continue its work with the ship.  John Quarstein offers private tours of everything for $100+.

--Old IronRunner

USS Monitor Turret Out of the Water-- Part 1

From the July 27, 2015, Virginia Pilot " USS Monitor gun turret from Civil War on display through next week" by Katherine Hafner.

The turret is a ruddied brown showing its 150+ years of existence.  On Monday, the tank it has been in for preservation was drained for the first time in three years allowing for a rare, close-up look at this revolutionary technology.

Sprinklers are being used to damped the 120-ton wrought iron turret beginning Tuesday to prevent rust from forming.

Historian John Quarstein describes it as being revolutionary and has written three books about Civil War ironclads.  It sank in December 1862 and was found in 1973.  Some 200 tons of artifacts, including the  turret have been removed from the wreck since then along with two human remains.

Would Have Sure Liked to Have Seen It.  --Old B-Runner

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

A Really Short History of the Dominican Republic-- Part 2

From the time of the Spanish withdrawal in 1865 to 1879, there were 21 changes in the country's government.  A very unstable climate for American business interests.

The Dominican Republic became independent again in 1865.

In 1869, its government worked out a treaty of annexation to the United States which was supported by U.S. Secretary of State William Seward, but in 1871 the treaty was defeated in the U.S. Senate, primarily through the efforts of abolitionist Senator Charles Summner.

--Old B-R'er

A Really Short History of the Dominican Republic-- Part 1

Back on Monday, August 3, I mentioned that the USS Mercedita was sent to the Dominican Republic to protect American lives and property during some turmoil taking place there.  This was a sure sign that the Civil War was over and the U.S. Navy was back to its pre-war mission.

From Wikipedia.

The Dominican Republic was a former Spanish colony from 1492 (Christopher Columbus) to 1795.  the french encroached on it from 1795 to 1809 and it became independent from 1844 to 1861 when it became a Spanish colony again. from 1861-1865.  This would go against the Monroe Doctrine, but the United States was very much involved in other things at the time.

A revolution took place and the Spanish withdrew.

This was the reason the USS Mercedita was sent to its waters.

--Old B-Runner

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Looking for the CSS Shenandoah

AUGUST 4, 1865:  Rear Admiral George F. Pearson of the Pacific squadron reported to Secretary Welles that the ind=formation gained from the whaler Milo on depredations of the CSS Shenandoah had been brought to him in San Francisco.  He also reported that he immediately dissolved a general court martial being conducted by squadron officers and sent every available ship to sea to search for the last of the Confederate raiders.

--Old B-Runner

Monday, August 3, 2015

A Visit to Fort Fisher-- Part 2

The speaker had lists of why Braxton Bragg got a bum rap and why he was not to blame for the fall of Fort Fisher.  He was very convincing and showed that Confederate General Whiting, although well-liked by his men and others was not such a good general.  I will write about the presentation later this week.

After the presentation, I took a walk around the museum and saw the Whitworth cannon that is there on loan.  This was one of the best guns at the fort and a four-piece flying battery that would go out at a gallop from the fort to safeguard stranded blockade-runners until two were sent off to other points and two were captured at the blockade-runner Hebe fight.

They also had several items belonging to Col. lamb, the fort's commander that had been presented to the fort by the Lamb family this past sesquicentennial commemoration at the fort to mark the fall of it on January 15, 1865.  This was quite an observation with over 20,000 visitors.

I sure would have liked to have been there for it.

--Old B-R'er

USS Mercedita to Dominican Republic to Protect Lives and Property

AUGUST 3, 1865:  At the request of the United States agent in Santo Domingo, rear Admiral Thatcher sent the USS Mercedita, Lt.Cmdr. Milton Haxtun, to the Dominican Republic with orders "to take all necessary steps to protect the lives and property of American citizens" in Santo Domingo.

Now that the war was over, the Navy resumed its peacetime duty of protecting American citizens and property throughout the world.

--Old B-Runer

Saturday, August 1, 2015

The Shenandoah Learns the War Is Really Over-- Part 2

Lieutenant Whittle, Shenandoah's executive officer, wrote in his journal:  "We were bereft of ground for hope or aspiration, bereft of a cause for which to struggle and suffer."

Having terminated the raider's commerce destroying mission, Waddell was next confronted with the problem of what to do with the ship-- a decision "which involved not only our personal honor, but the honor of the flag entrusted to us which had walked the waters fearlessly and in triumph."

In addition to avoiding capture as a matter of honor and pride, Waddell was intent on insuring that his crew should be accorded fair and unprejudiced treatment upon surrendering.  After much consideration, he decided that these various purposes could best be served by attempting a nonstop voyage to Liverpool, England, via Cape Horn.

And, So It Ends.  --Old B-R'er

The Shenandoah Learns the War Is Really Over-- Part 1

AUGUST 2, 1865:  The CSS Shenandoah, Lt. Waddell, having quit her Arctic hunting the previous month was on her way to attack San Francisco when it encountered the English bark Barracouta, 13 days out of San Francisco. For the first time, Waddell learned that the war he had been fighting was really over.  He immediately abandoned his daring attack on that city.

The log of the Shenandoah recorded:  "Having received by the Barracouta the sad intelligence of the overthrow of the Confederate Government, all attempts to destroy the shipping or property of the United States will cease from this date, in accordance with which the first lieutenant, William C. Whittle, Jr., received the order from the commander to strike below the battery and disarm the ship and crew."

Al;l Over Except the Crying--  Old B-Runner