Fort Fisher

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

Friday, April 29, 2016

Confederate Memorial Day Observance at Fort Fisher Set for April 30th

The Fort Fisher Chapter 2325, United Daughters of the Confederacy, and the Fort Fisher State Historic Site will host a Confederate Memorial Day Service on Saturday, April 30, 2016, at 10:00 a.m. at the United Daughters of the Confederacy Monument at Fort Fisher's Battle Acre.

Guest speaker will be Brigadier general (Ret) James Carper whose address will be "Why Our Confederate Heritage Is So Important."

Colors will be presented by the Columbus Volunteers Camp 794, Sons of Confederate Veterans.

A memorial wreath will be placed at the base of the monument following the address.

The Friends of Fort Fisher and general public are invited to this service of fellowship and remembrance.

I'm Glad They Are Having It In These Hate All Things Confederate Days.  --Old B-Runner

Thursday, April 28, 2016

155 Years Ago: USS Commerce Gets Another One

APRIL 29, 1861:  Flag Officer Pendergrast issued notice of blockade of Virginia and North Carolina.

APRIL 30, 1861:  USS Commerce, Lieutenant Peirce Crosby, seized steam tug Lioness off the mouth of Patapsco River, Maryland.

And I Sure Can't Find Out Anything About This Ship, the USS Commerce  --Old B-Runner


Wednesday, April 27, 2016

155 Years Ago: Blockade Extended to Virginia and North Carolina

APRIL 27TH, 1861:  President Lincoln extended the blockade to ports of Virginia and North Carolina.

**  Secretary of Navy Welles issued order for Union ships to seize Confederate privateers upon the high seas.

**  Steamer Helmick, loaded with powder and munitions of war for the Confederacy, was seized at Cairo, Illinois.

The War Thickens.  Old B-Runner

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

155 Years Ago: Mallory Wants Commerce Cruisers

APRIL 26TH, 1861:  Confederate Secretary of the Navy Mallory reported:  "I propose to adopt a class of vessels hitherto unknown to naval services.  The perfection of a warship would doubtless be a combination of the greatest known ocean speed with the greatest known floating battery and power of resistance ... agents of the department have thus far purchased but two [steam vessels], which combine the requisite qualities.

"  These, the Sumter and McRae, are being fitted  as cruisers... Vessels of this character and capacity cannot be found in this country, and must be constructed or purchased abroad."

Mallory discussed naval ordnance:  "Rifled cannon... having obtained a range and accuracy beyond any other form of ordnance ...  I propose to introduce them into the Navy ...  Small propeller ships, with great speed, lightly armed with these guns, must soon become as the light artillery and rifles of the deep, a most destructive element of naval warfare."

And, Mallory had great success with his commerce cruisers as we all know.

--Old B-Runner

Monday, April 25, 2016

USS Cumberland

From Wikipedia.

On April 24, 1861, the USS Cumberland captured a ship in Hampton Roads.  This ship went on to gain more fame for its part in the Battle of Hampton Roads less than a year later.

Of interest, during the Mexican War, two officers serving aboard the ship were Raphael Semmes and John Winslow, who would engage each other in the CSS Alabama and USS Kearsarge off Cherbourg, France in 1864.

The Cumberland was a 175-foot-long, 50 gun sailing frigate when launched in 1842.  It served several tours of duty in the Mediterranean.  In 1852-1854, it was completely razed into a sloop of war, mounting fewer, but heavier guns.

--Old B-Runner


Sunday, April 24, 2016

155 Years Ago: The USS Commerce On Blockade Duty

APRIL 26TH, 1861:  The USS Commerce, Lt. Peirce Crosby, captured steamer Lancaster at Havre de Grace, Maryland.  He also pursued a steam tug "in obedience to the written orders that I had received from you [Commander Charles Steedman] to seize all tugs south of Havre de Grace," but could not catch her."

I have done some research, but can't find any mention of a USS Commerce Union ship.

--Old B-Runner


Saturday, April 23, 2016

155 Years Ago: Union Troops Relieving Washington

APRIL 22ND, 1861:  Steamer Boston arrived at Annapolis with New York 7th Regiment on board, found the Maryland aground after towing the USS Constitution into Chesapeake Bay, and got her off, troops from both ships disembarking.  The timely arrival by water transport, recommended by Captain Du Pont at Philadelphia, was instrumental in defending Washington against possible Confederate seizure, and significant in keeping Maryland in the Union.

In the following days Butler's troops repaired the railroad and opened communications with Washington, which had been severed since the 19 April Baltimore riots.

Commander James H. Ward of USS North Carolina proposed to Welles the organization of a "flying flotilla" of ships for service in Chesapeake Bay and tributaries.  The proposal was approved, ships purchased and fitted out in New York, and on 20 May 1861, USS Freeborn, with two small craft in tow, Commander Ward in command, arrived at Washington Navy Yard.

**  Secretary of Navy Welles ordered Commander William W. Hunter to move Receiving Ship Allegheny at Baltimore to Fort McHenry because of strong secessionist activity in the city.

--Old B-Runner

Thursday, April 21, 2016

155 Years Ago: Aquia Creek's Importance, Slave Ship Captured

APRIL 21ST, 1861:  Colonel Charles F. Smith, USA, reported to Secretary of Navy Welles he had seized and placed under guard steamers Baltimore, Mount Vernon, Philadelphia and Powhatan near Washington, D.C..

Steamers plied between Aquia Creek and Washington; these were ordered to be outfitted at Washington Navy Yard for defense of the Capital.  Aquia Creek was a terminal point of railroad connection with Richmond, was the first location on the Potomac where Confederate naval officers erected  batteries.

**  USS Saratoga, Commander Alfred Taylor, captured slave ship Nightingale with 961 slaves on board.

**  Secretary of Navy Welles instructed Captain Du Pont, Commandant Philadelphia Navy Yard, to "procure five staunch steamers from ten to twelve feet draught, having particular reference to strength and speed and capable of carrying a nine-inch pivot gun...for coast service."  Similar orders were sent to Commandants of Navy yards in New York and Boston.

--Old B-Runner

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Blockade-Runners, the Cigarette Boats of Their Day: Agnes E. Fry

From the April 13, 2016, R&D "Archaeologists Aim to 3D Map Civil War Ship Wreckage" by Greg Watry.

Billy Ray Morris, North Carolina deputy state archaeologist:  "Blockade runners were the cigarette boats of their era, moving fast with an unarmed captain and crew using their talents to avoid Union ships and get their goods to land."

--Old B-Runner

155 Years Ago: Union Girding for War, USS Constitution Saved

APRIL 20TH, 1861:  The USS Constitution, Lt. George Rodgers, moored in the Severn River off Annapolis, was towed into the Chesapeake Bay by steamer Maryland with general Butler's troops on board.  This action, preceded that the resolute measures by the Naval Academy staff and midshipmen, prevented Confederates from sizing the already historic "Old Ironsides."

**  USS Anacostia, Lt. Thomas S. Fillebrown, was ordered to patrol off Kettle Bottom Shoals, Virginia, to prevent the obstruction of the channel at that point; the crew was augmented by 20 Marines from the Washington Navy Yard.

**  Cornelius Vanderbilt offered the government the fast steamer Vanderbilt.  Eventually the Navy acquired many private ships by charter or purchase to strengthen the blockade.

**  U.S. coast survey schooner Twilight, Andrew C. Mitchell, was seized in Aransas, Texas.

--Old B-Runner


Tuesday, April 19, 2016

North Carolina Shipwreck Could Be a Clyde-Built Ship-- Part 2: The Iona I

The Agnes E. Fry was an iron-hulled paddle steamer with two oscillating engines and was lost 27 December 1864, while under the command of Joseph Fry.  It was originally named the Fox, but was renamed by Fry for his wife when he took command after launching.

Also, work is being pursued now to better protect another Clyde-built blockade-runner, this one in Scottish waters.

The Iona I operated on a Glasgow to the Highlands passenger route before being purchased by Confederate agents for use as a blockade-runner.

It never reached the Confederacy as it was sunk in the Clyde River following a collision with another ship in 1862.  The wreck has been described as being in very good condition.

Earlier this year, the Scottish government proposed designating the site of the ship as a Marine Protected Area for its preservation.

--Old B-R'er

North Carolina Shipwreck Could Be a Clyde-Built Ship-- Part 1: Agnes E. Fry

From the April 15, 2016, BBC News.  Hundreds of fast Clyde-built steamers were in the service of the Confederacy during the Civil War.  It is believed that one of them, the Agnes E. Fry, has been found off Oak island, near Wilmington.  A sonar scan earlier this year revealed the wreck to fit the shape, size and location of the ship.

The deputy state archaeologist, Billy Ray Morris, said they were bringing in 3-D imaging which will be used on the Fry next week and then they will have a detailed computer model.

The Agnes E. Fry was built by Caird & Co. in Greenock, Scotland and launched 26 March 1864.

--Old B-Runner

Monday, April 18, 2016

155 Years Ago: US Navy Academy Moves from Annapolis to Newport, Rhode Island for Duration

APRIL 23RD, 1861:  USS Pawnee reached Washington where Commodore Paulding reported to the Navy Department on the loss of the Norfolk Navy Yard.  Pawnee's arrival strengthened the Capital's defenses at a very critical juncture.

APRIL 24TH, 1861:  USS Cumberland, Flag Officer Garrett Pendergrast, captured Confederate tug Young America and schooner George M. Smith with cargo of arms and ammunition at Hampton Roads.

**  USS Constitution, Lt. G.W. Rodgers, departed with midshipmen on board for New York and Newport, Rhode Island, under tow of USS R.R. Cuyler with Harriet Lane in company, to transfer the U.S. naval Academy.  It remained at Newport for the duration of the war for safety.

--Old B-R'er

155 Years Ago: Buchanan Resigns, Dahlgren Takes Over

APRIL 22ND, 1861:  Captain Franklin Buchanan, Commandant of Washington Navy Yard, submitted his resignation and was relieved by Commander John A. Dahlgren; Buchanan joined the Confederate Navy and was promoted to Admiral, CSN, on 26 August 1862.

Dahlgren spurred the buildup of Union ordnance and operation of ships for the defense of Washington and the Potomac River.  Of the ships (primarily chartered commercial steamers) assigned to Dahlgren's command at the Navy Yard, Welles reported:  "For several months...the Navy, without aid, succeeded, more effectively than could have been expected, in keeping open for commercial purposes, and restricting, to a great extent, communications between the opposite shores [Potomac]."

--Old B-R'er

155 Years Ago: Norfolk Navy Yard Abandoned and Ships Mostly Destroyed

APRIL 20TH, 1861:  Norfolk Navy Yard partially destroyed ti prevent facilities from falling into Confederate hands.  USS Pennsylvania, Germantown, Raritan, Columbia and Dolphin burned to water's edge.

The USS Delaware, Columbus, Plymouth and Merrimack (later CSS Virginia) were burned and sunk.  Old frigate United States was abandoned.

The USS Pawnee, and tugboat Yankee, towing the USS Cumberland, escaped; Pawnee went to Washington to augment the small defenses at the Capital.

This major Yard was of prime importance to the South.  The Confederacy had limited industrial capacity, and possession of the Norfolk Yard provided her with guns and other ordnance materiel, and, equally as important, gave her a drydock and an industrial plant in which to manufacture critically needed items.

In large measure, guns for batteries and fortifications erected by the Confederates on the Atlantic coast and rivers during 1861 came from Norfolk.

--Old B-R'er


155 Years Ago: Washington, D.C. Cut Off, Farragut Decides to Remain With Union

APRIL 19TH, 1861:  Washington having been cut off by rail from the North, Captain Du Pont and others embarked troops at Philadelphia and headed to the Chesapeake Bay to proceed to the relief of the Capital.

Steamer Boston departed Philadelphia with New York 7th Regiment on board, and ferry boat Maryland embarked General Benjamin F. Butler's Massachusetts Eighth Regiment at Perryville for Annapolis.

**  U.S. steamer Star of the West was seized by Confederates at Indianola,  Texas.

**  Captain David Glasgow Farragut, though born in the South and with a southern wife, chose to remain loyal to the Union and left his home in Norfolk, Virginia, to take up residence in New York City.

--Old B-R'er

155 Years Ago: Blockade Declared

APRIL 19TH, 1861:  President Lincoln issued proclamation of Southern ports from South Carolina to Texas.

Of the blockade, Admiral David Dixon Porter was to later wrote:  "So efficiently was the blockade maintained and so greatly was it strengthened from time to time, that foreign statesmen, who at the beginning of the war, did not hesitate to pronounce the blockade of nearly three thousand miles of coast a moral impossibility, twelve months after its establishment were forced to admit that the proofs of its efficiency were so comprehensive and conclusive that no objections to it could be made."

The coasts of Virginia and North Carolina were not included at this time because the two states had not yet seceded.  When they did, it was extended.

--Old B-Runner

Friday, April 15, 2016

155 Years Ago: USS Merrimack Ready to Go, Captain Paulding Ordered to Norfolk

APRIL 18TH, 1861:  USS Merrimack was reported ready for sea at Norfolk by Chief Engineer Isherwood.

**  Secretary of Navy Welles wrote Captain Hiram Paulding:  "You are directed to proceed forthwith to Norfolk and take command of all naval forces there afloat...On no account should the arms and munitions be permitted to fall into the hands of the insurrectionists, or those who would wrest them from the custody of the government; and should it finally become necessary, you will in order to prevent that result, destroy the property."

**  U.S. schooner Buchanan (lighthouse tender), Master Thomas Cullen, was seized and taken to Richmond, Virginia.

--Old B-Runner

155 Years Ago: Davis Wants Privateers and Obstacles Placed at Norfolk

APRIL 17TH, 1861:  Jefferson Davis' proclamation invited all interested in "service in private armed vessels on the high seas" to apply for Letters of Marque and Reprisal.  In other words, privateers.

**  Confederates placed obstacles in the channel at Norfolk, attempting to prevent the sailing of U.S. Naval vessels.  The subsequent passage of the obstructions by the Pawnee and Cumberland proved the effort ineffective.

--Old B-Runner

155 Years Ago: Fort Pickens Reinforced and Saved

APRIL 17TH, 1861:  USS Powhatan, Lt. D.D. Porter, arrived at Pensacola.  Under her protecting guns, 600 troops on board the steamer Atlantic were landed at Fort Pickens to complete its reinforcement.  President Lincoln had stated "I want that fort saved at all hazards."

The Presidents wish was fulfilled, and use of the best harbor in the Gulf was denied the Confederacy for the entire war, while serving  the Union indispensably in the blockade and the series of devastating assaults from the sea that divided and destroyed the South.

--Old B-R'er

155 Years Ago: Seventeen Ships Seized By U.S. in New York, USS Cumberland Detained at Norfolk

APRIL 15TH, 1861:  Seventeen vessels from Southern ports without U.S. clearance were seized in New York.

APRIL 16TH, 1861:  Secretary of Navy Welles wrote Flag Officer Garrett J. Pendergrast, commanding USS Cumberland at Norfolk:  "Until further orders for departure of the Cumberland to will be deferred.  In the meantime you will lend your assistance, and that of your command, towards putting the vessels now in the Yard in condition to be moved, placing the ordnance and ordnance stores on board for moving, and, in case of invasion, insurrection, or violence of any kind, to suppress it, repelling assault by force, if necessary."

--Old B-Runner

Thursday, April 14, 2016

A Baby Named P.G.T. Walker?

With the surrender of Fort Sumter, Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard became quite the hero in the South.  I am sure that more than a few boys born in the months following were given parts of the general's name.

I remember seeing such a one either at Wilmington, North Carolina's Oakdale Cemetery or Goldsboro, North Carolina's Willowdale Cemetery named P.G.T. Walker.

Well, maybe the last name is not correct.

Others received the name Beauregard.

--Old B-Runner

Lt. Thomas B. Huger, CSA, Wants to Drive Off Union Fleet

April 14th, 1861:  Lt. Thomas B. Huger to Gen. Beauregard.  "These vessels of the enemy, which are causing us some anxiety, and, at any rate, treating us with great disrespect, I would like to have the pleasure of driving them off from our port; and if we cannot succeed in that, at least make them keep a respectable distance.

"I volunteer for the service.  If you will allow me to put the rifled cannon on board the Lady Davis, under my command, I can go out, and, at long range, try the effect of the shot on them.

Go get 'Em, Lieutenant.  --Old B-R'er

Beauregard Reports to Walker April 14, 1861

April 14th, 1861:  "I have possession of Sumter.  Anderson and garrison on Isabel going in the morning.  None killed; two wounded.  Quarters in ruins.  Interior of fort damaged.

"Armament still effective against entrance to channel."

There was still fear of a Union attack.

Later this date, Beauregard also reported:  "Fleet still outside.  Can spare no guns yet, but hope to do so soon."

I imagine the War department wanted some of Fort Sumter's cannons sent elsewhere.

--Old B-Runner

Confederate War Department Orders a 15 Gun Salute To Celebrate Viciory at Fort Sumter

Adjutant and Inspector General Samuel Cooper in General orders No. 3, April 13, 1861, from Montgomery Alabama:  In honor of the occasion, officially announced, that the United States colors have been hauled down at Fort Sumter and replaced by the white flag, a salute of fifteen guns will be fired in front of the Department this day at two o'clock.

"By Command of the Secretary of War."

The invention and use of the telegraph gave places far apart near instant news.

Samuel Cooper had also been the Adjutant and Inspector General of the U.S. Army before secession.

--Old B-R'er

155 Years Ago: Captain Du Pont Writes That War Will Unite the North

APRIL 14TH, 1861:  Captain Du Pont wrote:  "I hope those Southern gentlemen will declare war, for that will stop the shilly shallying, unite the North if it be not so already, and the line will be drawn by the strategic points involved, which for the defense of the Capital includes Maryland."

Stop That Shilly Shallying, Now!  --Old B-Runner

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Confederates Report the Battle

APRIL 13, 1861:  Beauregard to L.P. Walker, Confederate Secretary of War:  "Officers' quarters in Sumter burning.  Part of the roof supposed to have fallen in.  Sumter firing at long intervals.  Ours regular and effective.  Six vessels outside in signals with Sumter (referring to Fox's fleet)."

Later, a telegraph to Walker: from Rhett.

"Anderson has hauled down the United States flag on Sumter and run up a white flag.  Fort has been burning for several hours from effect of shells.  two explosions have been produced by shells.  he has ceased firing some time, and fire of all the batteries has been continuous until now-- 3 o'clock.  Aides have been sent by Beauregard to Sumter.

R.B. Rhett, Jr.

--Old B-R'er

155 Years Ago: Fort Sumter Surrenders

APRIL 13TH, 1861:  Fort Sumter surrendered by Major Robert Anderson.  Trrops were evacuated the next day by Fox's expedition.  (How handy they were on the scene.)

**  USS Sabine, Captain Adams, blockade Pensacola harbor.

**  Lieutenant Worden was seized near Mobile, Alabama, and placed in prison, but his Pensacola mission had been accomplished.

The War Is On!  --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The War Is On!-- Part 2: Battle Continues

APRIL 12TH, 1861:  Telegram from Beauregard to CSA Sec. of War L.P. Walker.  "Heavy firing all day.  Several guns dismounted in Sumter.  Our batteries all safe.  Nobody hurt.  Four steamers off the bar.  The sea pretty rough."

--Old B-Runner

155 Years Ago: Union Ships Arrive Off Charleston, Fort Pickens Reinforced

APRIL 12TH, 1861:  U.S. steamship Baltic, under Gustavus Fox, USS Pawnee, Commander Rowan and Harriet Lane, Captain Faunce, USRM, arrived off Charleston to reinforce Fort Sumter.  But, as Fox observed, "war had commenced" and he was unable to carry out his mission.

**  Under secret orders from Secretary of Navy Welles carried by Lieutenant Worden, Fort Pickens was reinforced by landing troops from a squadron composed of USS Sabine, Brooklyn, St. Louis and Wyandotte.

--Old B-R'er

Beauregard's April 11th Ultimatum to Anderson About Fort Sumter's Evacuation

I was able to find the letter written from Beauregard to Anderson regarding the fort's immediate evacuation.

APRIL 11TH, 1861:  Gen. Beauregard wrote to Major Anderson that his government had been patiently awaiting word from the U.S. government that the fort would be evacuated, but it hadn't come:  "But the Confederate States can no longer delay assuming actual possession of a fortification commanding the entrance to one of our harbors, and necessary to its defense and security.

"I am ordered by the Government of the Confederate States to demand the evacuation of Fort Sumter."

Beauregard was sending his aides Col. James Chesnut and Capt. Stephen D. Lee to formally make the demand.  They will assist in the removal of yourself and command with arms and property and all private property to any post in the U.S. you want.  Furthermore, Anderson would be allowed to salute the flag when taking it down.

The Refusal of This Demand Was the Final Straw, Especially With the Arrival of the Harriet Lane Later That Day.  The Expected Reinforcements Were Arriving.  --Old B-Runner

155 Years Ago: The War Is On!!-- Part 1

All of these are coming from "The War of the Rebellion: Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series 1, Vol. 1."

APRIL 12TH, 1861:

CSA Secretary of War L.P. Walker to Beauregard:  "What was Major Anderson's reply to the proposition contained in my dispatch of last night?"

Gen. Beauregard, Charleston, S.C. to L.P. Walker:  "He would not consent.  I write to-day."

HEADQUARTERS PROVISIONAL FORCES,  Charleston, S.C., April 12, 1861.

Hon. L.P. Walker, Secretary of War:

"SIR:  I have the honor to transmit the inclosed copy of a correspondence with Major Anderson, in consequence of which our fire was opened upon Fort Sumter at 4:30 o'clock this morning, as already communicated to you by telegraph.

"The pilots reported to me last evening that a steamer, supposed to be the Harriet Lane, had appeared off the harbor."

G.T. BEAUREGARD, Brigadier-General Commanding.

So, It's War, Then.  --Old B-R'er


Revenue Cutter Harriet Lane Off Charleston

From D.F. Jamison, CSA to Gen. Beauregard.

APRIL 11TH, 1861:  "...Captain Davenport, of the pilot-boat Palmetto, reports that he saw the Harriet Lane this afternoon, making towards this city with speed, until within about fifteen miles of the bar, when she 'hove to.'

"That then he was about two miles from her, when he distinctly recognized her.  He says he has no doubt about her identity, as he knows her well."

So, the Reinforcement Was Underway.  --Old B-Runner

Monday, April 11, 2016

155 Years Ago: Anderson's Reply to Beauregard's Demand for Surrender

G.T. Beauregard to Confederate Secretary of War L.P.  Walker, April 11, 1861.

"Major Anderson replies" 'I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your communication demanding the evacuation of this fort, and to say in reply thereto that it is a demand with which I regret that my sense of honor and of my obligations to my Government prevent my compliance.'

"He says verbally"  'I will await the first shot, and if you do not batter us to pieces we will be starved out in a few days.'

"Answer."

In Other Words, "NUTS!!"  But In an Oh So Polite Way.  --Old B-Runner

Walker replied to him not to "needlessly... bombard Fort Sumter" if Anderson says he will have to leave because of being starved out.


155 Years Ago: Beauregard Tells Confederate Commissioners in Washington, D.C. That He Will demand Evacuation of Fort Sumter and, if Not...

From Gen. Beauregard at Charleston to Confederate Commissioners at Washington D.C, April 11, 1861:  "Evacuation of Fort Sumter will be demanded today.  If refused, hostilities will commence to-night."

--Old B-R'er

"Diplomacy Has Failed. The Sword Must Now Preserve Out Independence"

From Martin J. Crawford in Washington, D.C. to General Beauregard in Charleston, April 9, 1861.

"The messenger speaks doubtless by authority.  He gives the promised notice to Governor Pickens.  Diplomacy has failed.  The sword must now preserve out independence.  Our gallant countrymen will do their duty."

From L.P. Walker, Secretary of War, Montgomery, Alabama, to Gen. Beauregard, Charleston, S.C. April 10. 1861:  "If you have no doubt of the authorized character of the agent who communicated to you the intention of the Washington Government to supply Fort Sumter by force you will at once demand its evacuation, and if this is refused proceed, in such manner as you may determine to reduce it.  Answer."

Beauregard replied that day:  "The demand will be made to-morrow at 12 0'clock."

Walker replied asking if Beauregard could do it earlier unless there was a special reason.  Beauregard replied there was.

--Old B-R'er

155 Years Ago: Union Major Robert Anderson Refuses to Evacuate Fort Sumter

APRIL 11TH, 1861:  General Beauregard's demand for the evacuation of Fort Sumter is refused by Major Robert Anderson.  The die is cast.

**  Commander James Alden was ordered to report to Captain McCauley to take command of the Merrimack.  The following day Chief Engineer Benjamin Isherwood was sent to Norfolk to put the ship's engines in working order as soon as possible.

**  U.S. steamship Coatzacoalcos arrived in New York, returning Union troops from Texas.

--Old B-Runner


Friday, April 8, 2016

155 Years Ago: Confederates Strengthening Fortifications Around Sumter

APRIL 10TH, 1861:  Robert Anderson to Col. L. Thomas, Adjutant General, U.S. Army.

Reported about the cessation of mail and that their last mail bag had been returned from Fort Johnson.

The South Carolinians had been hard at work strengthening fortifications and "that the parapets and traverses have been both heightened and strengthened.

"Last the night the guard-boats, of which we saw eight on duty, were very diligent guarding all the channels, and we see signal vessels very far out beyond the bar. The garrisons of Castle Pinckney and Fort Johnson, and the batteries on Morris Island, have been strengthened yesterday and this morning."

A fourth gun has been mounted in a new battery on Sullivan's Island which can stop any boat landing on the left side of the fort and can drive the Sumter garrison from the guns en barbette.  "All we can do after that will be to use the guns of the lower tier."

Anderson and his men are doing all they can to prepare for an attack.

--Old B-R'er

155 Years Ago: Beauregard Cuts Off Mail To and From Fort Sumter

APRIL 8TH, 1861:  G.T. Beauregard to Major Robert Anderson:

"Sir, I have the honor to inform you that from and after this day no mails will be allowed to go to or come from Fort Sumter until further instructions from the Confederate Government at Montgomery."

APRIL 9TH, 1861:  Robert Anderson to G.T. Beauregard:

"He had received the notice of the 8th about the cessation of mail to and from Fort Sumter.  he "respectively request that you would be pleased to have the mail or mails which were forwarded prior to the receipt of your notification returned to this post.

"Confidently hoping that you will comply with the request."

--Old B-Runner

155 Years Ago: USS Pawnee Sails for Sumter, Beauregard Instructed to Demand Evacuation of Sumetr

APRIL 10TH, 1861:  The USS Pawnee, Commander Stephen C. Rowan, departed Hampton Roads for relief of Fort Sumter.

General P.G.T. Beauregard, CSA, commanding at Charleston, was instructed to demand evacuation of Fort Sumter and, if refused, to "proceed, in such matter as you may determine, to reduce it."

Secretary of Navy Welles alerted Captain Charles S. McCauley, Commandant Norfolk Navy Yard, to condition the USS Merrimack for a move to a Northern yard should it become necessary.  At the same time Welles cautioned McCauley that, "There should be no steps taken to give needless alarm."

--Old B-R'er

155 Years Ago: Sailing for Sumter's Relief

APRIL 8TH, 1861:  Revenue Cutter Harriet Lane, Captain John Faunce, USRM, departed New York for relief of Fort Sumter.

APRIL 9TH, 1861:  Gustavus V. Fox sailed from New York in chartered steamer Baltic for the relief of Fort Sumter.

--Old B-Runner

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Beauregard Notifies That There Will Be No Further Communications for Supply of Fort Sumter

APRIL 7TH, 1861:  G.T. Beauregard, Brigadier-General, Commanding, wrote Major Robert Anderson:  "In compliance with orders from the Confederate Government in Montgomery, I have the honor to inform you that, in consequence of the delays and apparent vacillations of the United States Government at Washington relative to the evacuation of Fort Sumter, no further communications for the purposes of supply with this city from the fort and with the fort from this city will be permitted from and after this day.

"The mails, however, will continue to be transmitted as heretofore, until further instructions from the Confederate Government."

I'm taking this to mean Fort Sumter will receive no further supply from Charleston, but mails will continue.

--Old B-R'er

Major Anderson Reports the Firing on the U.S.Schooner Rhoda H. Shannon on April 3, 1861

APRIL 4TH, 1861:  Report to Col. L. Thomas, Adj. Gen. U.S. Army.

Reporting "circumstances attending a firing, yesterday afternoon by the batteries on Morris Island at a schooner bearing our flag, bound from Boston to Savannah, which erroneously mistaking the light-house off this harbor for that of Tybee, and having failed to get a pilot, was entering the harbor"

"When the firing commenced some of my heaviest guns were concealed from their view by planking, and by the time the battery was ready the firing had ceased."

He decided not to fire back at the Confederate batteries "to resent this insult thus offered to the flag of my beloved country."

Major Anderson further wants all U.S. merchant vessels to be made aware of the situtaion in Charleston harbor.  Further, he believed the Confederate authorities were "certainly blamable for not having constantly vessels off to communicate instructions to those seeking entrance to this harbor."

--Old B-Runner

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Gustavus V. Fox Ordered to Take Command of Fort Sumter Relief Expedition

Orders from Simon Cameron, War Department, to Gustavus V. Fox, April 4, 1861.

It had been decided to "succor Fort Sumter" and he was selected to do it.  He was to take the transports from New York and guide them with their troops and supplies "to the entrance of Charleston Harbor, and endeavor, in the first instance, to deliver the subsistence."

If the Confederate oppose the move, he was to contact the senior naval officer who "will be instructed by the Secretary of the Navy to use his entire force to open a passage..."

The Die Is cast at Fort Sumter.  --Old B-R'er


155 Years Ago: USS Powhatan Ordered to Fort Pickens, Pensacola

APRIL 6TH, 1861:  Lieutenant David Dixon Porter, ordered to take command of the USS Powhatan by President Lincoln and to reinforce Fort Pickens, Pensacola, Florida, instead of Fort Sumter, departed New York.

The following day, Lieutenant John L. Worden, USN, departed Washington, D.C., by rail with orders to Captain Henry A. Adams, commanding the USS Sabine and senior officer present in Pensacola area, to reinforce Fort Pickens.

It sounds like Lincoln had given up on Fort Sumter.

--Old B-Runner

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

The Secretary of War Tells Major Anderson An Attempt to Provision and Reinforce Fort Sumter Will Be Made

From the War Department, April 4, 1861.

"SIR:  Your letter of the 1st instant occasions some anxiety to the President.

"On the information of Captain Fox he had supposed you could hold out till the 15th instant without any great inconvenience; and had prepared an expedition to relieve you before that period.

"Hoping still that you will be able to sustain yourself till the 11th or 12th instant, the expedition will go forward; and, finding your flag flying, will attempt to provision you, and, in case the  effort is resisted, will endeavor also to re-enforce you.

"You will therefore hold out, if possible, till the arrival of the expedition."

Secretary of War Simon Cameron went on to say that the President expected Anderson to do his duty to the best of his ability, but, "in your judgement, to save yourself and command, a capitulation becomes a necessity, you are authorized to make it."

Getting tense Out There in Charleston Harbor.  --  Old B-R'er

In the Meantime, Major Anderson Is Preparing Fort Sumter for an Attack

From the Official records, Series 1, Vol. 1.

APRIL 1, 1861:  Two 42-pdrs mounted, the terre-plein of two10-inch Columbiads elevated and two 32-pdrs. moved.  The loop hole openings on the first level were covered with large stones.  Two large splinter-proof traverses, one in front of the hospital and the other by the ordnance room, were built.

--Old B-R'er

155 Years Ago: Navy Ships Ordered to Provision Fort Sumter

APRIL 5TH, 1861:  The USS Powhatan, Pawnee, Pocahontas and Revenue Cutter Harriet Lane were ordered by Secretary of the Navy Welles to provision Fort Sumter; squadron commander was given to Captain Samuel Mercer in the Powhatan.

--Old B-Runner

Monday, April 4, 2016

Friday, April 1, 2016

Blockade-Runner Virgin at Mobile-- Part 1: News from Havana

From the August 5, 1864, New York Times.

In the last post, I mentioned Capt. Joseph Fry taking command of the Virginius which was involved in running the Spanish blockade of Cuba in 1873.  The Virginius had been a Civil War blockade-runner  as well named Virgin at the time.

This article from the New York Times mentions the ship's destruction.

"FROM HAVANA.;  ARRIVAL OF STEAMER LIBERTY:  BLOCKADE RUNNERS FROM MOBILE AT HAVANA, CAPTURE AND DESTRUCTION OF BLOCKADE RUNNERS.

"The United States mail steamer Liberty, [???] our days from Havana arrived at this port yesterday, with dates to the 30th of July.  She brings the following intelligence.

"Havana, Saturday, July 30.

"Nothing of interest has transpired since the sailing of the Roanoke.  The rebel steamer Denbigh arrived here this morning from Mobile the 26th last, with 470 bales of cotton."

--Old B-Runner

Captain Joseph Fry, Cmdr. of B-R Agnes E, Fry-- Part 4: In 1873 Assumes Command of the Virginius

After the Civil War, Joseph Fry was involved in several business adventures, some meeting with success and others were failures.  In 1873, he was offered command of the Virginius by General Quesada, an agent of the Cuban Revolution going on against Spain.

The Virginius was originally named the Virgin, built in Scotland in 1864 as a blockade-runner.  It made several successful trips between Havana and Mobile before being shut up in Mobile Harbor by the Union fleet after it ran past Fort Morgan.  The Confederates used her as a dispatch and transport ship for the remainder of the war.

After the surrender, it became a Revenue Service cutter, but proved unsatisfactory because of its great consumption of coal so it was sold at auction.

--Old B-R'er

155 Years Ago: Lincoln Visits Washington Navy Yard and US Ship Fired on at Charleston Harbor

APRIL 2ND, 1861:  President Lincoln visited Washington Navy Yard.  The President returned frequently to confer with Commander Dahlgren on the defense of the Capital and the far reaching strategy of sea power in general.

APRIL 3RD, 1861:  A Confederate battery at Morris Island, Charleston, fired on American schooner Rhoda H. Shannon.

--Old B-Runner