Fort Fisher

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

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Agnes G. Fry at Bermuda October 24, 1864

Report from U.S. Consul at Bermuda.

In port October 24, 1864:  Several blockade-runners, including the Agnes Fry.  "The Agnes Fry and Stormy Petrel attempted to enter Wilmington, but failed and returned home."

--Old B-Runner

Agnes C. Fry Arrived in Nassau September 8, 1864

September 24, 1864, report of U.S. Consul Thomas Kirkpatrick to Sec. of State Seward.

Announced the arrival of many blockade-runners from August 24, 1864, to September 23rd.

One of them, on September 8 was the steamer Agnes C. Fry, formerly the Fox, from Bermuda.  (Actual name was the Agnes E. Fry.)

There was also the steamer General Whiting arriving on September 6 from Charleston.  The General Whiting left Nassau on September 17, for Charleston.

--Old B-R'er

155 Years Ago: Welles Orders Reinforcements to Norfolk

MARCH 31ST, 1861:  Secretary of the Navy Welles ordered 250 men transferred from New York to the Navy Yard at Norfolk, Virginia.

--Old B-Runner

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Captain Joseph Fry, Cmdr. of Agnes E. Fry-- Part 3: Loss of the Agnes E. Fry

Later, Joseph Fry became the commander of the new blockade-runner Agnes E. Fry, named after his wife.  He made three successful voyages through the blockade of Wilmington, North Carolina, and was then run ashore with complete loss of the ship.  Fry, however, was not steering the ship at the time as it was the pilot.  The wreck lies not far from the Virginius.  Fry and the crew escaped.

Fry's next command was of the CSS Morgan in Mobile Bay where he was highly complimented by General Dabney H. Maury for conspicuous bravery.

--Old B-Runner

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Captain Joseph Fry, Cmdr. of Agnes E. Fry-- Part 2: Saved the Eugenie

Joseph Fry then served the Confederacy.  He was severely wounded at the Battle of White River in Arkansas, also called the Battle of Saint Charles.  (I will write more about this battle I'd never heard of before in a later post.)

While recovering on sick leave he was ordered, at his own request, to command the Confederate blockade-runner Eugenie.  He once grounded off Fort Fisher while making a daylight run into the Cape Fear River.  His ship was loaded with gunpowder and blockaders were firing at him.  Commander of the Fort, Col. William Lamb ordered  him to abandon the ship.

Instead, captain Fry told anyone who wanted to leave to do so, but stayed aboard, but he would stay and try to save the ship's cargo.  Several boats left for Fort Fisher and a few remained with him who lightened the ship and with a swelling tide floated again and Fry brought the ship and badly needed cargo into Wilmington.

--Old B-Runner

Monday, March 28, 2016

Captain Joseph Fry, Cmdr. of the Blockade-Runner Agnes Fry-- Part 1

From "Derelicts: An Account of Ships Lost At sea in general Commercial Traffic and a Brief History of Blockade Runners Stranded Along the North Carolina Coast 1861-1865" by James Sprunt.

In 1841, Joseph Fry, determined to join the U.S. Navy and thwarted in his native Florida, went to Washington, D.C. and "demanded his right to speak to the President."  he was only eight and spoke with President John Tyler who signed his warrant to be a midshipman.

Joseph Fry served the U.S. navy well until the Civil War when he found he "could not fight against his home and loved ones, much as he honored the flag for which he had so long and faithfully cherished."

--Old B-R'er


New York Times Reports Blockade-Runners Dec. 25, 1864

"The blockade runners Old Dominion, Wild River, Little Hattie, Banshee and Agnes E. Fry had arrived from Wilmington; the Syren had arrived from Charleston; the Gem, Marmion and Kenilworth had returned in distress; and the Virginia, Hansa, Ella, Kate Gregg, Charlotte, Will o' the Wisp, Stormy, Petrel, Little Hattie, Syren and Star had sailed to run the blockade."

Even at this late date in the war, there was plenty of blockade-running underway.

And one of the runners was none other than the Agnes E. Fry, the one that was found at the end of last month off Wilmington, North Carolina.

--Old B-Runner

Friday, March 25, 2016

A New Photograph of the Union Navy's Bad Boy Commando-- Part 2: Who Is He?

Have you figured out who he was yet?

Only four years earlier he had been expelled from the U.S. Naval Academy during his senior year.  he was described by a superior as having "a talent for buffoonery."

But, with the coming of the war and desperate need for trained officers, he was readmitted.  Fortunate for the Union Navy because he soon showed a real talent for combat and daring.  He led many of a daring raid, especially in the Cape Fear River area.  And then, came the thing he is best remembered for.

In late October he led what was considered to be a suicide mission up the Roanoke River in North Carolina with a mission to sink the powerful Confederate ironclad CSS Albemarle.  To do it, he was in a small steam launch and had to worry about being spotted by the guard and sunk.  Bullets were whizzing around him as he stood in the bow of the ship and slammed the torpedo into the side of the Confederate ship.  Bullet holes were in his coat.

Yet, he lived and escaped and the threat sank.

William B. Cushing was now back with the fleet and preparing to attack Fort Fisher.  Rear Admiral Porter can be seen standing behind him.

Cushing had just turned 22.

In the photo, he looked every bit of his young age, with a certain air of cockiness and long hair.

I still think he is deserving of a Medal of Honor like his brother Alonzo Cushing recently received.

The Bane of the South.  Wish We'd Had Him On Our Side.  --Old B-R'er

A New Photograph of the Union Navy's Bad Boy Commando-- Part 1

From the April 2016 Smithsonian Magazine "A new addition to #MyDaguerreotypeBoyfriend Is the Civil War's Most daring naval Officer" by Jamie Malanowski.

There he stands, all cocky and sure of himself on the deck of Rear Admiral David D. Porter's flagship, and former blockade-runner USS Malvern, December 1864, as the fleet prepared for its assault on vaunted Fort Fisher, N.C.  The picture was taken by famous photographer Alexander Gardner.

This photo was recently donated to the United States Naval Academy Museum by collector Peter Tuite.

He had just returned from a much-deserved whirlwind leave and had been awarded the Thanks of Congress, promoted a full rank and honored and feted in New York, Philadelphia and tiny Fredonia, New York (his hometown).

Who Was He?  Next Post.  --Old B-Runner

Thursday, March 24, 2016

More About That Cannon Found in Downtown Wilmington

From the March 23, 2016, WECT 6 NBC News (Wilmington, N.C.) "Cannon found in downtown Wilmington likely dates back to the 1700s" by Brandon Wissbaum.

The Assistant Site Manager at Fort Fisher State Historic Site says that finding it is exciting, but not an entirely uncommon things thanks to the rich history of the Cape Fear region.

"That cannon which is just a rusty piece of iron right now could have an opportunity to talk about various different stories of our region,' Mosely said.

Chris Southerly, Assistant State Archaeologist based at Fort Fisher says the cannon most likely is from an English ship dating from 1700 to 1750.  It may have been used for backfill to build up Water Street.  Experts will clean and analyze the cannon, which is small, at Fort Fisher before determining whether or not to put it on display.  This is a process that could take several years as it is very encrusted.

The construction crew is digging much more carefully after the discovery.

Not Likely a Civil War Cannon.  --Old B-Runner


Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Construction Crews Unearth Old Cannon in Downtown Wilmington, N.C.

From the March 22, 2016, WNCN CBS News "Construction crews uncover apparent cannon in downtown Wilmington."

The cannon was found near the federal Courthouse on Walker Street.  Looking at the accompanying pictures, it is definitely a cannon.  It was found at about 4 p.m. as the crew was working at the Riverside Park renovation project.

They found it between 6-8 feet underground.  The bomb squad was called to make sure it wasn't loaded with a shell, but they will leave the final word to archaeologists from Fort Fisher.

Experts from the Cape Fear Museum and Fort Fisher will be on site from 8:30 a.m. March 23.  City officials say the site has been secured.

The Republic out of Columbus, Indiana, says the cannon may be centuries old and was found in front of the Alton Lennon Federal Building.  UNC-Wilmington professor Chris Fonvielle says it may be a Colonial or Revolutionary War cannon.

Wonder How It Got There?  --Old B-R'er

Sign Up for Cleaning Parks in Wilmington, N.C., Area

From the March 13, 2016, Port City Daily "Sign up for cleaning at three local historic sites on Civil War Park Day."

Five sites in North Carolina are participating in the annual Civil War Trust Park Day event on April 2..  In the Wilmington area it will take place at Fort Fisher (as mentioned in my Monday blog, Brunswick Town/Fort Anderson site and the North Carolina Maritime Museum at Southport.

This is a promotion of the Civil War Trust and has been done ever since 1996.

**  Brunswick Town/Fort Anderson:  Event goes from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and will focus on debris removal, ruin stabilization, leaf and weed removal, cleaning the wayside signs and park benches, and sanding and sealing the entrance sign.

**  Fort Fisher: Runs from 8:30 a.m. to noon.  debris removal, leaf raking, light painting and scraping.  Gloves and tools provided on site.  Lunch will be given by the Friends of Fort Fisher.

**  North Carolina Maritime Museum--Southport, N.C. (at site of Fort Johnston).  9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.  Grounds cleaning, landscaping at the museum entry and planting a popular history garden (a project of Girl Scout Clarissa Sommers for her Gold Award).

Getin' Down and Dirty for the History.  --Old B-Runner


Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Local Woodworking Company Selected to Build Fort Fisher Exhibit Cases

From the March 18, 2016, PR.com.

Anchor Wood Products has been selected by the Friends of Fort Fisher, Inc. to provide custom built exhibit cases for the Fort Fisher State Historic Site.  It is a local Wilmington-area company and will use local craftsmen to make them.

They will be providing five cases to house dioramas that were originally in the long-gone Blockade Runner Museum in Carolina Beach, North Carolina, which opened in the 1960s and closed in the 1980s.  When it closed, the entire collection was purchased by New Hanover County for the Cape Fear Museum on Market Street.

The diorama of the Wilmington waterfront during the war and Fort fisher were displayed, but there was not enough space for five other dioramas and they remained in storage until acquired recently by the Fort Fisher site in Kure Beach.

This Is Great News!  --Old B-Runner

Monday, March 21, 2016

Fort Fisher Seeking Volunteers for Park Day

From the March 17, 2016, WECT, NBC, Wilmington, N.C.  "Volunteers needed to help beautify Fort Fisher."

Volunteers are needed at the Fort Fisher State Historic Site on April 2, 2016, to work from 8:30 a.m. to noon as part of the Civil War Trust Park Day.  This event is part of the organization's efforts to provide workers for both Civil War and Revolutionary War battlefields across the nation.

Activities at Fort Fisher will include light sanding, painting and debris removal.

Registration must be made in advance and a free luncheon will be provided.

Will Work for Food.  --Old B-R'er

155 Years Ago: Fox Recommends Relieving Fort Sumter By Sea

MARCH 21ST, 1861:  Gustavus V. Fox, ex-naval officer now a civilian, reconnoitered Fort Sumter, Charleston Harbor, as directed by President Lincoln, to determine the best means of relieving the fort.  Based on his observations, Fox recommended relieving Fort Sumter by sea.

"I propose to put the troops on board of a large, comfortable sea steamer and hire two powerful light draft New York tug boats, having the necessary stores on board.  These to be conveyed by the USS Pawnee...and the revenue cutter Harriet Lane...

"Arriving off the bar, I propose to examine by day the naval preparations and obstructions.  If their vesels determine to oppose our entrance, and a feint of flag of truce would ascertain this, the armed ships must approach the bar and destroy them or drive them on shore.

"Major Anderson would do the same upon any vessel within the range of his guns and would also prevent any naval succor being sent down from the city."

Things Getting very tense at Fort Sumter.  The War began Just 22 Days Later.  --Old B-Runner

Friday, March 18, 2016

155 Years Ago: No Food to Fort Pickens and Mobile Seizure

MARCH 18, 1861--  Brigadier General Braxton Bragg, CSA, issued an order forbidding passage of supplies to Fort Pickens and the U.S. squadron off Pensacola.

MARCH 20, 1861--  The U.S. sloop Isabella, carrying supplies for the U.S. squadron at Pensacola, was seized in Mobile.

--Old B-Runner

Thursday, March 17, 2016

155 Years Ago: Confederate Navy to Build Gunboats in New Orleans

MARCH 17TH, 1861:  The Confederate Navy Department sent Commander Lawrence Rousseau, Commander Ebenezer Farrand, and Lt. Robert T. Chapman to New Orleans to negotiate for the construction of gunboats.

--Old B-Runner

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

March 13, 1861: Brannan Reports Key West "Is Quiet"

Letter from Capt. John Brannan to Army HQ in Washington, D.C.:

"Colonel, I have the honor to report that everything is quiet at Key West to this date, nor do I apprehend any attack on this fort (Taylor) until a perfectly-organized company is raised.  Flags of the Southern Confederacy have been raised upon the stores of various citizens.

"I doubt if any resident of Key West will be allowed to hold office under the federal government unless supported by the military and naval forces.  We are on terms of friendship with the best portion of the citizens, and all hope there will be no collision."

The Situation Improved Since January.  --Old B-R'er

Dec. 28, 1860: The Sad Shape of Forts Taylor and Jefferson in Florida

Continuing with Winfield Scott's letter to the Secretary of War.

Scott said that Forts Taylor and Jefferson were "of far greater value to even the distant points of the Atlantic coast and to the people on the upper waters of the Missouri, Mississippi, and Ohio Rivers than to the State of Florida.

"There is only a feeble company at Key West (Capt. John Brannon's) for the defense of Fort Taylor, and not a soldier at Fort Jefferson to resist a handful of filibusters or a rowboat of pirates; and the Gulf, soon after the beginning of secession or revolutionary troubles in the adjacent States, will swarm with such nuisances."

Things Looking Bleak in Florida.  --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Dec. 28, 1860: Fort Sumter Not to Be Evacuated and Should Be Reinforced

Continuing with Winfield Scott's message to the Secretary of War:

"1.  That orders may not be given for the evacuation of Fort Sumter;

2.  That one hundred and fifty recruits may instantly be sent from Governor's Island to re-enforce that garrison, with ample supplies of ammunition,  subsistence, including fresh vegetables, as potatoes, onions turnips; and

3.  That one or two armed vessels be sent to support said fort."

--Old B-R'er

Dec. 27 and 28, 1860: The Army Hasn't Heard From Anderson and Scott Is Ill

As South Carolina seceded, things were looking bleak for the Union's forts in that state as well as elsewhere.

Making matters worse, the head U.S. Army commander, Lt. Gen. Winfield Scott  was in ill health.

  Lt.Col. G.W. Lay, delivered a message to the President of the U.S. about 3:30 p.m. on December 27, 1860, saying that no orders had been sent to Major Anderson at Fort Moultrie, nor had they received any reports from him.

The next day Col. Lay delivered another message to the secretary of War saying:

"Lieutenant-General Scott, who has had a bad night, and can scarcely hold his head up this morning."

--Old B-Runner

Monday, March 14, 2016

Captain John M. Brannan-- Part 2: Civil War Service

After the Mexican War, John Brannan fought the Seminoles in various posts.

When the Civil War came, he was appointed brigadier general of volunteers and placed in command of the Department of Key West.  In October 1862 he fought at the Battle of Saint John's Bluff on the St. John's River for control of the Jacksonville, Florida.

In 1863, he led an infantry division during the Tullahoma Campaign.  He was with General George Thomas at Chickamauga, where his division lost 38% of its troops.

From October 1863 to June 1865, he was chief of artillery for the Department of Cumberland where he oversaw the defenses of Chattanooga.

He was at the Battle of Missionary Ridge and the Atlanta Campaign.

From July 10 to September 25, 1865, he commanded the Department of Savannah.

--Old B-Runner

Capt. John Milton Brannan, U.S. Army-- Part 1: USMA Class of 1841, Fought in Mexican War

From Wikipedia.

(July 1, 1816 to December 16, 1892)

Career military officer.  Fought in the Mexican War and became a general in the Civil War.  Commanded the department of Key West.  His first wife was the daughter of Colonel Ichabod Crane.  It is thought his was the name that Washington Irving gave to his "Legend of Sleepy Hollow.  Brannan's wife met a mysterious death in New York.

John Brannan was US Military Academy at West Point Class of 1841, where he graduated 23rd out of 52 cadets.  He was then assigned to the 1st U.S. Artillery.

During the Mexican War he was at the battles of Vera Cruz, Cerro Gordo, La Hoya, Contreras and Churubusco.  In the fight for Mexico City he was seriously wounded.

--Old B-Runner

Friday, March 11, 2016

USS Macedonian and Brooklyn Heading for Pensacola

As mentioned in the previous post, Capt. Brannan at Fort Zachary mentioned that on January 31, 1861, the USS Macedonian had just sailed by Key West on the 30th and that the USS Brooklyn had arrived this day and was planning on leaving the next day.

The Macedonian, a sailing ship, had left Portsmouth, New Hampshire, 12 January 1861, to join the USS Brooklyn, a steam sloop of war.  The Brooklyn arrived off Pensacola on Feb. 9, 1861, as that harbor had been seized by Confederates.

--Old B-Runner

John H. Brannan Holding the Fort in Key West in 1861

From the Official Records War of the Rebellion.

Captain John H. Brannan, First U.S. Artillery, commanding Fort Zachary Taylor, Key West, Florida.

JANUARY 14, 1861:  This was four days after the State of Florida seceded.  Capt. Brannan had placed his entire command at Fort Taylor with plans of defending it.  However, he had just 44 men.

JANUARY 26, 1861:  He reported that no effort had yet been made to take the fort, but he expected one any day.  "If my company was filled up with a hundred men, and a sloop of war stationed in this harbor, there would be no danger of any successful attack."

JANUARY 31, 1861:  At this time, Capt. Brannan reported that he had about sixty men, mechanics and laborers who would defend the fort which was still under construction.  The USS Macedonian passed by the previous night and the USS Brooklyn arrived this morning and was going to depart tomorrow night.

--Old B-Runner

155 Years Ago: Key West Still In Union Control

MARCH 13TH, 1861:  It was reported by Captain J.M. Brannan, US Army, commanding Fort Zachary Taylor that "everything is quiet at Key West to this date" -- a tribute to the firm policing of the area by Union naval vessels.

Throughout the early months of 1861 the "showing of the flag" by the Fleet maintained a peaceful equilibrium in a situation fraught with tension.  The much-feared attack, expected to accompany Florida's secession (January 10), did not materialize.

Of course, you could only get to Key West at that time by boat.

--Old B-Runner

Thursday, March 10, 2016

New York Times, Dec. 25, 1864, A Fictional Account of Sherman Approaching Savannah

From the December 25, 1864, New York Times "From Havana,; Movement of Blockade-Runners."

Even at this late date in the Civil War, there was still much blockade-running activity.  Mostly involving Wilmington, N.C., but at least one from Charleston, S.C..

"Steamer Corsica arrived from Havana, via Nassau- this morning.

"Nassau papers contain ridiculous accounts of SHERMAN's army being dreadfully cut up, dispirited and divided, and there being 50,000 troops in Savannah to meet him, and the probability of his escape was doubtful."

That was a good one.  Nothing near the truth as Sherman was nearing the city on his March to the Sea.

--Old B-R'er

Rhett Butler? Is That You?: Blockade-Runner Found Off North Carolina Coast

From March 7, 2016, Popular Science "Civil War 'Teaser': Blockade Runner Found Off North Carolina Coast: Rhett Butler?  Is That You?" by Beth Griggs.

According to John Morris, "The state of preservation on this wreck is among the best we've ever had.

At least 53 blockade-runners were lost in the Wilmington area during the Civil War.  In addition, there are pirate ships and ones from World War II's Battle of the Atlantic, victims of U-boat attacks.

The wrecks of 27 Confederate blockade-runners, Confederate ironclads and Union blockaders have been located.  According to Morris, "It's the single best assembly of Civil War shipwrecks anywhere in the world."

Students from East Carolina University's Maritime Studies Program will join in the examination of the ship, believed to be the Agnes E. Fry.

By the way, after some further research on the Agnes E. Fry's commander, he certainly had an interesting life (like the fictional Rhett Butler) and died in Cuba in front of a firing squad in 1873.

--Old B-Runner

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Blockade-Runner Remains Found in North Carolina

From the March 7, 2016, Guardian.

The shipwreck was discovered February 27th near Oak Island off the North Carolina coast near Wilmington.  It is in the Atlantic Ocean at the mouth of the Cape Fear River near Fort Caswell.  This was a favorite entrance and exit point of blockade-runners during the war.

It is believed to be the wreck of the Agnes E. Fry.  Two other runners are known to have sunk in the area, but both the Georgianna McCaw and Spunkie are shorter in length.

An expert said "It is the right shape," for the iron-hulled ship which was state-of-the-art for its time. Everything a good blockade-runner should be to better its chances of running the blockade.  The wreck rises six-eight feet above the surrounding sand and it is possible that some cargo remains.

--Old B-Runner

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Likely Remains of Blockade-Runner Found Off Wilmington, N.C.-- Part 2: Possibly the Agnes E. Fry

Blockade-Runners were designed to try to break Scott's Anaconda Plan, which was the blockade of the Confederate coast.

Three blockade-runners are known to have been sunk in the general area of this shipwreck: the Agnes E. Fry, Spunkie, and Georgianna McCaw.

The shipwreck's length, estimated at 225 feet suggests the ship might be the Agnes E. fry, a ship built in Scotland in 1864.

The ship's true identity will not be known until additional research is done.  the team plans to return to the area later this week to begin dive operations.

A Very Exciting Development.  --Old B-R'er

Likely Remains Blockade-Runner Found Off Wilmington, N.C.-- Part 1

From the March 7, 2016, HuffPost Science "Rare Civil War-Era Shipwreck Discovered Off North Carolina Coast" by David Freeman.

This is a big story in a whole lot of venues.

There is a very good sonar image of the shipwreck accompanying the article.

On February 27, 2016, marine archaeologists discovered the shipwreck and made the announcement March 7th.  John W. "Billy Ray" Morris, director of the North Carolina Underwater Archaeology Branch and leader of a team on the research vessel Atlantic Surveyor made the announcement.

This is the first Civil War-era vessel wreck found in the area in decades and, from the images appears to be that of a blockade-runner.  Blockade-runners were the "cigarette boats of their era" designed specifically to made the dangerous run through the Union blockade.

An Exciting Find.  --Old B-Runner

Monday, March 7, 2016

George Hamilton Perkins, USN, Captured the Mary Sorley (USRC Henry Dodge)

From the Naval Encyclopedia.

From New Hampshire.  Graduate of USNA in 1856.

On July 31, 1863, he was promoted to lieutenant commander and ordered to take command of the USS Sciota on blockade duty off the Texas coast.  On April 7, 1864, the ship captured the blockade-runner Mary Sorley with a load of cotton bound for Havana.

On April 20, 1864, he was released from command and ordered to head north, but stopped along the way and volunteered to command the monitor USS Chickasaw on July 28, 1864, and took part in the battle of Mobile Bay and helped capture the CSS Tennessee.

--Old B-R'er

155 Years Ago: The U.S. Navy Gets a New Secretary

MARCH 7TH, 1861:  Gideon Welles of Hartford, Connecticut, took office in Washington as Secretary of the Navy.

--Old B-Runner

Friday, March 4, 2016

USS Crusader-- John Maffitt's Prewar Ship

From Wikipedia.

The USS Crusader was a screw steamer, 169 feet long, 28-foot beam, 92 crew and mounting four 32-pdr. guns, eight 24-pdr. guns and one 12-pdr..  It was built by civilians and originally named Chowan and then Southern Star before being chartered by the U.S. navy in 1858 to become part of a fleet assembled to sail to Paraguay to settle some differences.

Afterwards, the Navy purchased the Southern Star outright and renamed her the Crusader.  It was commissioned 11 June 1859, with Lt. J.N. Maffitt in command.  It joined the Home squadron in suppression of the African slave trade and apprehended four slavers and one pirate ship.

From 16 March to 28 August 1861, it was stationed in the Gulf of Mexico and captured two vessels to prevent their being used as Confederate privateers.  This is when Lt. Maffitt returned to the North and turned his ship over to the U.S. Navy before resigning and going South to join the Confederate Navy.

The Crusader was then decommissioned and refitted before joining the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron and operating off the South Carolina coast where it participated in two engagements with land forces.  On 22 September 1862 it joined the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron and primarily operated in the Chesapeake Bay area, capturing 5 vessels.

It was decommissioned 22 September 1862 at Washington Navy Yard and sold the next month.

--Old B-Runner


John Newland Maffitt Did Not Turn His Ship Over to the Confederates

From "Traitors: The Secession Period" by Edward S. Cooper.

Whereas William F. Rogers turned his Revenue Cutter  Henry Dodge over to Confederate authorities in Galveston, John Newland Maffitt did not turn his command over.

Captain Maffitt, commanding the USS Crusader was in Mobile, Alabama, at the time of secession.  He considered himself a North Carolinian but refused to turn his ship over to Confederate authorities and even went so far as to say he'd shoot anyone who tried to board the Crusader.

Another account had him saying, "I may be overpowered but in that event what will be left of the Crusader will not be worth taking."

He sailed his ship back to New York Navy Yard, turned it over, resigned his commission and journeyed South where he joined the Confederate Navy.

Of course, Maffitt went on to provide great service to the Confederate Navy in a variety of roles.

--Old B-R'er

155 Years Ago: The State of the U.S. Navy

MARCH 4TH, 1861:  Forty-two vessels were in commission in the United States Navy this date.  Twelve of the ships were assigned duty with the Home Squadron, four of which were based in Northern ports.  beginning with the return of the Powhatan to New York and Pochaontas to Hampton Roads on 12 March and Cumberland to Hampton Roads on 23 March, the Department moved to recall all but three ships from foreign stations, where they were badly needed, in order to meet the greater needs of the Nation in this hour of crisis.

--Old B-Runner

Thursday, March 3, 2016

William F. Rogers Turns Over Revenue Cutter Henry Dodge to Confederates

From "Battle on the Bay: The Civil War Struggle for Galveston" by Edward T. Cotham, Jr.

As Texas prepared to secede, a Galveston Commission of Public Safety was formed.  This group received word that the Revenue Cutter Henry Dodge in Galveston, commanded by Lt. William F. Rogers had a crew of 12 who professed loyalty to the South.

During an interview with the commission, Lt. Rogers expressed his willingness to disobey his current orders to take his ship to New York and instead turn it over to Texas authorities.

The commission believed this was too good of a deal to pass up and agreed to accept Rogers' offer.

However, the crew was supposed to be paid $900 for two months' service on March 1.  Not having the money, the commission decided that the ship wasn't to be seized until March 2, hoping that the U.S. government would have paid off the crew by then.

However, the federal government didn't pay the crew.  Rogers was placed ion command and immediately sent a request to the commission for a much-needed $1,000 to $1,200 repair job.

So, the commission definitely got more than they were prepared to get.

--Old B-Runne


Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Revenue Cutter Henry Dodge "Defend Yourself to the Last Extremity"

From the U.S. Congressional Serial Set.  Jan. 22, 1861, letter from Secretary of Treasury John A. Dix to commander of the Henry Dodge.

The secretary understood that the Henry Dodge was in bad need of repairs at Galveston and ordered the commander (not sure if it was William F. Rogers or previous commander, Captain Morrison, to take the ship immediately to New York and to be aware that attempts might be made to take the ship and, if so "...you will defend yourself to the last extremity."  If unable to do so, the commander was to "run her ashore, and, if possible, blow her up."

Captain Morrison had been ordered to take command, but "his fidelity to the government was questioned, having been dismissed from the service."  Command of the Henry Dodge was turned over to William F. Rogers.

--Old B-Runner

Revenue Cutter Henry Dodge, 1855

From the U.S. Coast Guard site.

80 feet long, 23 foot beam, 93 tons, constructed 1856 by Page and Allen of Portsmouth, Virginia and assigned to Galveston, Texas.  Seized by State of Texas while under command of Revenue Captain W.F. Rogers, USRM, 2 March 1861 and turned over to the Confederate Navy.

The ship remained under Rogers' command and assisted in the defense of the Texas coast until December 1862 when it was turned over to the Confederate Army Quartermaster at Houston.

In 1864, it was sold to private interests and under the name Mary Sorley, operated as a blockade-runner.  Captured by the USS Sciota off Galveston 4 April 1864 en route to Havana with a cargo of cotton.

--Old B-R'er


155 Years Ago: Revenue Cutter Seized in Galveston

MARCH 2ND, 1861:  The Revenue Cutter Henry Dodge, First Lieutenant William F. Rogers, USRM, was seized at Galveston, as Texas joined the Confederacy.

--Old B-Runner

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

James H. Sands, USN, B. F. Sand's Son, Also at Fort Fisher

Son of Benjamin F. Sands, James Hoban Sands, (12 July 1845- 26 October 1911) also became a rear admiral in the U.S. Navy and eventually Superintendent of the U.S. naval Academy.  Admitted to USNA in 1859 and graduated in 1863 while the academy was based at Newport, Rhode island.

During the Civil War, he served on the USS Tuscarora, Juanita and Shenadoah.  After the war he was on the USS Hartford.

He was present at both battles of Fort Fisher where he was cited for gallantry in action twice and recommended for promotion.

He took his father's notes and compiled them into a book, "From Reefer to Rear Admiral."

--Old B-Runner

Benjamin F. Sands, USN-- Part 3: Became a Rear Admiral

Benjamin F. sands was appointed commodore in July 1866 and served in the Boston Navy Yard and later returned to Washington, D.C. as Superintendent of the Naval Observatory.

He was promoted to rear admiral on April 27, 1871, and retired in 1874.  He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

He had an uncle Lt.Col. James Harvey Hook (1791-1841) who was a War of 1812 veteran.

--Old B-Runner

Benjamin F. Sands, USN-- Part 2: Service During the Civil War, at Both Battles of Fort Fisher

Benjamin Sands was promoted to captain in 1862 and went to the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron where he commanded the USS Dacotah.  In February 1863, he was involved in an engagement off Fort Caswell, guarding the port of Wilmington, North Carolina.

For the next two years he was stationed off the Carolina coast.  While commanding the USS Fort Jackson, he participated in both battles of Fort Fisher.

In February 1865, he was transferred to the West Gulf Blockading Squadron and saw duty off the Texas coast.  On June 2, 1865, he took formal possession of Galveston, Texas.

--Old B-Runner