Fort Fisher

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

Saturday, July 30, 2016

155 Years Ago: Privateer Dixie Captures American Ship

JULY 31ST, 1861:  Confederate privateer Dixie captured American bark Glenn and took her to Beaufort, North Carolina.

--Old B-Runner

Friday, July 29, 2016

155 Years Ago:Engaging the Confederates

JULY 29TH, 1861:  The USS Yankee, Commander T.T. Craven, and USS Reliance, Lt. Mygatt, engaged Confederate battery at Marlborough Point, Virginia.

**  Four U.S. steamers engaged Confederate battery at Aquia Creek, Virginia, for three hours.

--Old B-Runner

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Fort Fisher Summer Lecture Series


"North Carolina as the Last Confederate Capital"

The talk will be given by Michael Hardy,  In the waning days of the Confederacy, April 11 to April 26, North Carolina was the capital of the Confederacy.

Historian and author Michael Hardy will discuss it.

Books will be for sale and can be signed.

--Old B-Runner

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

155 Years Ago: CSS Sumter Captures Another Prize

JULY 27TH, 1861:  CSS Sumter, Commander Semmes, captured American bark Joseph Maxwell off Venezuela.

--Old B-Runner

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Fort Fisher's "Rocks"-- Part 2: Stone Barges Used to Create Jetty

In the late 1800s, however, dredging equipment big enough to handle this project did not exist.  Engineers decided to build a jetty of quarried large rocks to filter the shifting sand across New Inlet.  They began the project in 1865.

Engineers used rocks from a quarry north of Wilmington and manpower, horses, mules were used to load rocks on barges which were then floated down the Cape Fear River where they were sunk and in four years a manmade jetty was created.

I have always understood that this project occurred during the 1870s.

--Old B-Runner

Monday, July 25, 2016

155 Years Ago: Balloon Observation Begins at Fort Monroe

JULY 25TH, 1861:  John LaMountain began balloon reconnaissance ascensions for the Union at Fort Monroe, Virginia.

**  CSS Sumter, Commander Semmes, captured schooner Abby Bradford in the Caribbean Sea and, denied the right to enter Venezuela with Confederate prizes, dispatched her to a Southern port.

**  USS Resolute, Acting Master W. Budd, brought two schooners and one sloop into Washington, D.C..

--Old B-R'er

155 Years Ago: Privateers Running Amuck

JULY 25TH, 1861:  Confederate privateer Mariner, Captain W.B. Berry, captured  American schooner Nathaniel Chase off  Ocracoke Inlet, North Carolina.

**  Confederate privateer Gordon captured American brig William McGilvery off Cape Hatteras with cargo of molasses.

**  Confederate privateer Dixie captured American schooner Mary Alice off the east coast of Florida.

--Old B-Runner

Sunday, July 24, 2016

155 Years Ago: Assistant Sec. of Navy Position Authorized, Lincoln Given Authority to Increase Navy, But He Had Already Been Doing It

JULY 24TH, 1861:  The U.S. Congress approved a bill authorizing the appointment of an Assistant Secretary of the Navy.

**  An Act "to provide for the temporary increase of the Navy" passed by Congress; gave President Lincoln authority to take vessels into the Navy and appoint officers for them, to any extent deemed necessary.

Lincoln had already been doing this since April.

--Old B-Runner

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Fort Fisher's "Rocks"-- Part 1: A Need for Navigation Safety

From the July 14, 2016, Carolina Weekly News "The Rocks: A 19th Century Civil Engineering Landmark."

Thousands of North Carolinians travel annually past Wilmington, North Carolina, headed for vacation destinations like Carolina Beach, Kure Beach and the Fort Fisher area.  Unless they go beyond these as well as the North Carolina Fort Fisher Aquarium to the Fort Fisher-Southport Ferry, they won't know about the huge civil engineering job that has been built at the terminus of US-421 where they will find what is commonly referred to as "The Rocks."

This is essentially what amounts to as a dam built across and closing what was called New Inlet.

The port of Wilmington was extremely important during the Civil War because of the double entrances to its Cape Fear River which proved to be a haven for blockade runners, especially at what was called New Inlet.  This was the entrance/exit protected by Fort Fisher.

After the war, the American Society of Civil Engineers (the forerunner of the Army Corps of Engineers) recognized a need to keep the Cape fear River channel open and clear of uncharted sandbars and shoals decided to do something about these.

--Old B-Runner

Friday, July 22, 2016

Fort Fisher Summer Lecture Series: Fort Fisher's POWs


"After the Battle: The Experience of Fort Fisher's POWs"

Richard Triebe has written a book on it.  I have the book and plan to be there for his presentation and have it autographed.  He will discuss the plight of those captured at Fort Fisher in Northern prisons.  Many of them died in the few short months after the fall of the fort on January 15, 1865, and the end of the war in April.

Copies of his book will be for sale and autographed.

I hope to be there.

--Old B-Runner

Thursday, July 21, 2016

155 Years Ago: U.S. Marines at First Bull Run

JULY 21ST, 1861:  The USS Albatross, Commander Prentiss, engaged the CSS Beauort, Lt. R.C. Duvall, in Oregon Inlet, North Carolina.  The Albatross, with heavier guns, forced the Beaufort to withdraw.

**  Confederate privateer Jefferson Davis captured American bark Alvarado in the Atlantic Ocean.

**  U.S. Marines commanded by Major Reynolds took part in the First Battle of Bull Run:  9 marines killed, 19 wounded and 16 missing in action.  Two naval howitzers were lost in the battle.

The Confederates also had a naval battery at the battle.

--Old B-Runner

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

155 Years Ago: Cuba Releases CSS Sumter's Prizes

JULY 19TH, 1861:  The Captain-General of Cuba released all the vessels brought into Cuban ports by the CSS Sumter.  See the July 6th entry for names.  This set the precedent for no nation allowing Confederate raiders to bring in captures.

JULY 20TH, 1861:  The USS Mount Vernon, Commander Oliver O. Glisson, seized the sloop Wild Pigeon on the Rappahannock River in Virginia.

**  The USS Albatross, Commander George A. Prentiss, recaptured the Enchantress off Hatteras Inlet.  The Enchantress had been captured by the privateer Jefferson Davis on July 6.

--Old B-Runner

Monday, July 18, 2016

155 Years Ago: Privateers All Over the Place

JULY 28TH, 1861:  The USS Union, Commander J.R. Goldsborough, destroyed former American brig B.T. Martin north of Cape Hatteras, where she had been run aground by Confederates.  The B.T. Martin had previously been captured by the Confederate privateer York.

**  Confederate privateer Gordon captured American schooner Protector off Cape Hatteras.

**  USS St. Lawrence, Captain Purviance, sank Confederate privateer Petrel off Charleston.

Privateers All Over the Place.  --Old B-Runner

155 Years Ago: The Merrimack Is Raised-- Part 2

JULY 18TH, 1861:  "It is believed that thus prepared she will be able to contend successfully against the heaviest of the enemy's ships and to drive them from Hampton Roads and the ports of Virginia.

"The cost of the work is estimated by the constructor and engineer in charge at $172,523, and as time is of the first consequence in this enterprise I have not hesitated to commence work and to ask Congress for the necessary appropriation."

Mallory's Going Ahead With Work on the CSS Virginia.  --Old B-Runner

155 Years Ago: The Merrimack Is Raised-- Part 1

JULY 18TH, 1861:  Confederate Secretary of the Navy Mallory reported:  "The frigate Merrimack [later CSS Virginia] has been raised and docked at an expense of $6,000, and the necessary repairs to hull and machinery to place her in her former condition is estimated by experts at $450,000.

"The vessel would then be in the river, and by the blockade of the enemy's fleets and batteries rendered comparatively useless.  It has therefore been determined to shield her completely with 3-inch iron [four inches was used], placed at such angle as to render her ball-proof, to complete her at the earliest moment, to arm her with the heaviest ordnance, and to send her at once against the enemy's fleet."

--Old B-Runner

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Fort Fisher to Get a New Visitors Center

From the July 15, 2016, WECT 6 NBC News "New visitors center and Civil War museum to be built at Fort Fisher Historic Site" by Lauren Rautenkranz.

State funding has been approved thanks to the efforts of New Hanover County Representative Ted Davis who was able to get $400,000 set aside to get the project started.  This money will be used in the early stages leading to construction which is expected to cost several million dollars.

The Friends of Fort Fisher will raise a large portion of the money needed for completion.

Last year the site was visited by over 800,000 people, the state;s most-visited historic site.  The current center was built to accommodate about 40,000 a year.

It Does Get Quite Crowded, Especially During the Summer.  --Old B-Runner

155 Years Ago: Protecting Annapolis

JULY 18TH, 1861:  Confederate schooner Favorite was captured by the USS Yankee, Commander T.T. Craven, on Yeocomico River; Favorite was sunk later at Piney Point on the Potomac.

**  Commander Ridgely, U.S. Receiving Ship Allegheny, reported his ship had received a battery of guns from the Washington Navy Yard and was standing by in the harbor for the protection of Annapolis.

--Old B-Runner

155 Years Ago: Naval Actions

JULY 16TH, 1861:  The USS St. Lawrence, Captain Hugh Y. Purviance, captured British blockade runner Herald, bound from Beaufort, North Carolina, to Liverpool.

**  William Tilgham, a Negro, overwhelmed a Confederate prize crew on board schooner S.J. Waring (captured by the privateer Jefferson Davis on July 7) and took possession of the vessel, carrying her into New York on July 22.

--Old B-Runner

Friday, July 15, 2016

This Saturday Summer Lecture Series at Fort Fisher


"To Prepare for Sherman's Coming: The Battle of Wise's Forks" will be presented by Wade Sobolosky.  He has written the "definitive study" on this battle considered one of the Civil War's overlooked, but yet significant battles.  Copies of the book will be available for sale and can be signed by the author.

--Old B-R'er

John Pope, USN-- Part 2: "Pope's Run" and Relieved At Own Request

Captain John Pope was in the Battle of the Head of the Passes 12 October 1861 on the lower Mississippi River near its mouth.  This resulted in "Pope's Run."  The Confederate ships under Captain George N. Hollins drove the Union fleet away.

On October 14th, John Pope asked to be relieved of duty due to ill health and it was granted.  Later, on 16 July 1862, he was promoted to commodore at which time he retired from the service.

He died in Dorchester, Massachusetts in 1876.

Two ships in the U.S. Navy have been named after him.  The USS Pope (DD-225) commissioned in 1920 and sunk during World War II in 1942.  Also the USS Pope (DE-134, commissioned in 1943 and decommissioned in 1946.

--Old B-R'er

John Pope, USN-- Part 1: Served from 1816 to 1861

From Wikipedia.

Yesterday I mentioned that George N. Hollins had defeated Union Captain John Pope at the Battle of the Head of the Passes on October 12, 1861, which resulted in what is called "Pope's Run."  The only John Pope I knew was a Union general, so I did some more research on this Naval John Pope.

Born 17 December 1798.  Died 14 January 1876.  Born in Massachusetts and appointed a midshipman from  Maine 30 May 1816.  Served with the Mediterranean, West Indian, Brazil, Africa and East Indians squadrons

From 1 July to 24 October he was attached to the West Gulf Squadron and commanded the USS Richmond.  He participated in the search for the CSS Sumter in the West Indies and the blockade of the Passes near the mouth of the Mississippi River.

--Old B-Runner

155 Years Ago: Du Pont Writes About Confederate Privateers

JULY 15TH, 1861:  Captain Du Pont wrote:  "The Department are [sic] worried about privateers increasing so.  Lieutenant Semmes  has sent ... [vessels] into Cuba, but the Captain General ordered them to be immediately restored to their commanders."

Du Pont also noted that the privateer Jefferson Davis, "which has ventured so far north," was also causing concern.

Confederate privateers struck out boldly against Northern commerce and generated distress among shipping interests.  However, as the naval blockade tightened and ports and coastal havens were seized by amphibious assault and other naval actions, operations of Confederate raiders became increasingly difficult and restricted.

Money to ne Made.  --Old B-R'er

155 Years Ago: Blockade Strategy Board Recommends the "Stone Fleet"

JULY 16TH, 1861:  The Blockade Strategy Board reported to Secretary of the Navy Welles on the necessity of halting Confederate commerce:  " is an important object in the present war that this trade, home and foreign, should be interrupted....  The most obvious method of accomplishing this object is by putting down material obstructions, and the most convenient form of obstruction, for transportation and use, is that of old vessels laden with ballast... and sunk in appropriate places."

This was the first suggestion for the "stone fleet."  Elimination of water-borne trade by the Union blockade (more effective than the "stone fleet" obstructions at harbor entrances), meant the economic ruination of the Confederacy.

--Old B-R'er

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Major Fort Fisher Announcement Friday, Tomorrow

From the July 14, 2016, Friends of Fort Fisher.

Friday, July 15, there will be what is called a "major announcement at the Fort Fisher State Historic Site's visitors center.

The Friends of Fort Fisher Board of Directors, State Representative Ted Davis, Jr. (New Hanover County District 19) and the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources Secretary Susan Kluttz will be on hand for the announcement.

I am thinking it might be for a new visitors center, but am anticipating.


George N. Hollins, Sr., CSN-- Part 4: The Battle of the Head of the Passes and "Pope's Run"

From the Civil War Naval Encyclopedia.

In July 1861, George Hollins commanded the New Orleans Naval Station.  In October of that year, he seized the Manassas, a privately owned merchant ship undergoing conversion into a privateer ironclad ram.  He then ordered it and the other ships of his squadron to attack the Union squadron.

These blockading ships were under the command of Captain John Pope and located downriver from New Orleans at the Head of Passes.  Hollins and his ships drove them away on October 12 in what became known as "Pope's Run."

--Old B-Runner

George Nicholas Hollins, Sr., CSN: Some Question About His Middle Name

As I have done research, I see that some sources have his middle name being Nicholas and others Nichols.

So, which is it?

--Old B-R'er

The American Civil War Museum in Richmond Has Hollins' U.S.N. Sword

They have his sword, catalog number 0985 06 00050.

It is a Model 1852 U.S. Naval Officer's Sword, slightly curved, single-edge blade, with two fullers and edge with stand of arms, shield and anchor, floral sprays, twisted rope, fouled anchor, eagle standing on a cannon, and USN, oval stars and Ames Mfg. Co./ Chicopee / Mass.

A picture of it accompanies the information.

--Old B-Runner

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

George Nicholas Hollins, CSN-- Part 3: Civil War Service

After he captured the St. Nicholas:

1861-1862:  Commandant Naval Station New Orleans

1862-1863:  Commandant Richmond (Va.) Naval Station

1863:  Commanded the Charlotte (NC) Naval Yard

1864:  Richmond Station and then the Wilmington Station.

After the war, he returned to Baltimore and was appointed Crier at the City Court and held that position until his death in 1878.

He is buried at Westminister Burial Ground in Baltimore.

--Old B-Runner

George Nicholas Hollins, CSN-- Part 2: War of 1812 Service

From Find-a-Grave

Captain George Nicholas Hollis Sr.  Born Baltimore September 20, 1799.  Died January 18, 1878, in Baltimore.

During the War of 1812, he was on the USS Erie and the defenses of Washington, D.C.  He was also on the USS President and served under Commander Stephen Decatur and was captured by the British on January 15, 1815.  Then he was a POW in Bermuda until the war ended a month later.

Returning to Navy service, he served under Decatur during the Second Barbary War.  Commissioned lieutenant in 1825 and was a commander during the Mexican War.

He was also commandant of Sackets Harbor (NY) Navy Yard from 1854 to 1855 and then ordered to the Mediterranean Sea and commanded the USS Susquehanna.

--Old B-R'er

155 Years Ago: Blockade at Wilmington, N.C. Initiated

JULY 13TH, 1861:  The USS Massachusetts, Commander M. Smith,  seized the schooner Hiland near Ship Island, Mississippi.

JULY 14TH, 1861:  The USS Daylight, Commander Samuel Lockwood, initiated the blockade at Wilmington, North Carolina.

--Old B-Runner

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

George Nicholas Hollins, CSN-- Part 1

From the Capture of New Orleans by Chester G. Heam.

I have been writing about this man and his role in the capture  of the Union steamer St. Nicholas.

George Hollins was no spring chicken, having fought in the War of 1812 where he joined the U.S. Navy as a 15-year-old midshipman and fought with Stephen Decatur.

he earned a reputation as a fighter, and even at the age of 62, was ever-ready for a scrape.

When the war broke out, he commanded the USS Susquehanna on station at Naples, Italy.  he returned to the states and resigned his commission.  On June 20, he became a captain in the Confederate Navy.  Nine days later he promptly demonstrated his aggressiveness when he organized the attack on the St. Nicholas.  After all, a captain should command his own ship..

Heams described Hollins as "active and self-starting, had little patience for red tape."

--Old B-Runner

Monday, July 11, 2016

The Steamer St. Nicholas Became the CSS Rappahannock

From the Civil War North Carolina Site.

The last two weeks I have been writing about the Union steamer St. Nicholas, taken by Confederates boarding while posing as passengers and led by a former U.S. Navy officer named George Hollins back on June 29-30, 1861.

The Confederate sidewheel steamer CSS Rappahannock was a 1,200 tons, one gun warship, formerly the passenger steamer St. Nicholas captured on the Potomac River 28 June 1861.  It was condemned in prize court and purchased by the Confederate Navy and commanded by Lt. H.H. Lewis, CSN.

It operated on the Potomac and Rappahannock rivers until April 1862 when it was burned by the Confederates at Fredericksburg..

The Encyclopedia of Civil War Shipwrecks says it was burned April 19, 1862, at Fredericktown.

--Old B-R'er

Friends of Fort Fisher Kick off 2016 Summer "Beat the Heat" Lecture Series

From the June 16, 2016, Friends of Fort Fisher.

This is the first of nine different topics ranging from Fort Fisher, the Civil War, local N.C. and U.S. history.  many of the speakers have also authored books which will be for sale at the fort's museum store and happily signed.

On June 18, Site Interpreter Ray Flowers presented "Incidents, Accidents and Other Doleful Events: Hors de Combat on the Lower Cape Fear."    he will be sharing anecdotes concerning Civil War casualties in the area other than at the two battles of Fort Fisher.

The talks all beginning at 2 p.m. in the E, Gehrig Spencer Auditorium at the Fort Fisher State Historic Site Museum.  They are free and open to the public and held because of contributions from the Friends of Fort Fisher, New Hanover County and the towns of Carolina Beach and Kure Beach.

Sorry I missed That One.  --Old B-Runner


Fort Fisher Has Summer Activities for the Kids-- Part 3: Toy Soldiers and Water Balloons

AUGUST 5--  "TOY SOLDIER WORKSHOP"  Soldiers in most wars have specially designed uniforms.  During the Civil War both sides had the famous :Blue and Gray" uniforms, but also colors on the piping to indicate which branch of service they were in.

Learn about soldier uniforms, the colors they used and their equipment.

The best part is you get to paint your very own toy soldier and, even better, take it home.


Learn how Fort Fisher's artillerists had to use math and science to target Union ships out to sea.  then try your own hand at hitting the blockading ships with water balloons!

Take home your own quadrant to practice measuring launch angles for your own water balloon battles.

Watch Out Sister and Older Brother.  --Old B-R'er

Fort Fisher Has Summer Activities for the Kids-- Part 2: Secret Codes and Blockade-Runners

JULY 22:--  COMMUNICATIONS AND SECRET CODES"  Explores how Civil War units sent messages over long distances without texting and cell phones.  Also, how to keep messages from falling into enemy hands.

Kids will learn the "Wig-Wag" flag system and encrypt your own messages using cipher discs that you can take home.

JULY 29--  "THE BLOCKADE--RUNNERS"  Join the Fort Fisher Signal Corps and learn how blockade-runners supplied with needed munitions and goods under the protection of Fort Fisher's cannons.

Be you own blockade-runner captain and see if you can safely run the blockade to and from Wilmington.

--Old B-Runner

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Fort Fisher Has Summer Activities for the Kids-- Part 1: Attention Junior Reserves!!

Not only are there lectures for adults and tours of the fort, but al;so there are weekly activities geared toward the kids.

JULY 2:  "School of the Soldier"  Kids will learn the manual of arms, loading a musket in nine stages and life of the soldier doing garrison duty like at Fort Fisher.

JULY 9:  "The Whole garrison's Gone to Gardening"  Kids will learn how the garrison fed themselves and fought off diseases.  They will be able to take home their own potted plant.

JULY 16:  "Archaeology at Fort Fisher"  Kids will explore the for's history by the archaeological record on local land and waterway.  Maritime archaeologists from the North Carolina Underwater Archaeology Unit will be on hand to talk.

--Old B-Runner

Fort Fisher Summer Lecture Series: The Kure Beach U-boat Attack

Today, Saturday, July 9, Ev Smith gave a talk at the Fort Fisher State Historic Site on "The Kure Beach U-boat Attack."  A German U-boat supposedly surfaced and opened fire in July 1942 at the Dow Chemical plant by the ocean at Kure Beach, a couple miles north of Fort Fisher.

Did it happen or not?

Fort Fisher was again in use during World War II when it served as a center for anti-aircraft training..  This resulted in an airstrip being build which obliterated some of the fort's dunes.

--Old B-R'er

155 Years Ago: Privateer Jefferson Davis Captures Two Union Ships

MAY 9TH, 1861:  Confederate privateer Jefferson Davis captured American brig Mary E. Thompson of Bangor en route to Antigua, and schooner Mary Goodell, of New York en route to Buenos Aires.

MAY 10TH, 1861:  The USS Minnesota, Flag officer Stringham, captured Confederate brig Amy Warwick in Hampton Roads.

--Old B-Runner

Thursday, July 7, 2016

155 Years Ago: Two Floating Torpedoes Found in Potomac River

JULY 7, 1861:  Two floating torpedoes (mines) in the Potomac River were picked up by the USS Resolute, Acting Master W. Budd-- the earliest-known use of torpedoes by the Confederates.  During the course of the war a variety of ingenious torpedoes destroyed or damaged 40 Union ships, forecasting the war growth to come in this aspect of underwater warfare.

--Old B-R'er

Charles Carroll Simms, CSN-- Part 2: Mobile Bay

After the destruction of the CSS Virginia, he was on the CSS Nansemond on the James River and later on the CSS Selma at Mobile Bay in the last year of the war.  He then commanded the ironclads CSS Baltic and CSS Nashville.

He surrendered to Union forces in early May 1865 and was soon afterwards paroled.

Simms died in 1884 and is buried at Rock Creek Cemetery in Washington, D.C..  Assistant Navy Secretary of the Navy during the Civil War Gustavus Vasa Fox is also buried there.

Charles Simm's father, John Douglas Simms, was chief clerk of the U.S. Navy and Acting Secretary of the Navy in 1841.  His grandfather, Col. Charles Simms was an officer in the American Revolution and Mayor of Alexandria, Virginia.

--Old B-R'er

Charles Carroll Simms, CSN-- Part 1: Commanded CSS George Page and On CSS Virginia

From Wikipedia.


From Virginia.  Became a U.S. Navy midshipman in 1839 and made lieutenant in 1854.  Dismissed from service in April 1861 after Virginia seceded and was briefly an officer in the Virginia State Navy until commissioned a 1st Lieutenant in the Confederate States Navy in June 1861.

He first commanded the CSS George Page and then the CSS Rappahannock.  He then commanded the CSS Appomattox on the North Carolina coast until that ship was scuttled in February 1862.  Then he was an officer on the ironclad CSS Virginia in its operations March to may 1862 in the Hampton Roads area.

--Old B-Runner

CSS George Page

From Wikipedia.

I had never heard of the CSS George Page before so had to do some more research.  Good old Wikipedia.

The George Page was a 410-ton sidewheel steamer built as a transport vessel in Washington, D.C. in 1953.  It was attached to the Quartermaster's Department of the U.S. Army until captured by Confederates at Aquia Creek, Virginia in May 1861.  It then became a ship in the Virginia State Navy.

Later acquired by the Confederate States Navy and commanded by Lt. Charles Carroll Simms, the ship was fitted out for river defense.  It was later renamed the City of Richmond and at some point the upper works may have been removed. (The 292 Group says this new name was considered, but not given because the ship had previously been in the U.S. government employ.)

The CSS George Page operated in the Potomac River around Quantico Creek.  On July 7, 1861, it was damaged by cannon fire from the USS Pocahontas.  It was destroyed by its crew upon the abandonment of the Evansport batteries on March 9, 1862.

It mounted two guns.

Simms was assigned to the CSS Rappahannock after the destruction of his ship and went on to serve in various positions throughout the war.

--Old B-R'er

155 Years Ago: Privateer Jefferson Davis Captures Another Ship

All these 155 years ago, 155th anniversary are taken from the Civil War Naval Chronology.

JULY 7TH, 1861:  Confederate privateer Jefferson Davis captured American schooner S.J. Waring about 150 miles off Sandy Hook, New Jersey.

**  USS Pocahontas, Commander Benjamin M. Dove, fired on and damaged CSS George Page in Aquia Creek, Virginia.

--Old B-Runner

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

The Piratical Capture of the Steamer St. Nicholas-- Part 2: "A Brilliant Exploit"

"After the steamer left Point Lookout, Capt. HOLLINS threw off his disguise, and with the aid of the passengers, seized the boat, which was immediately put across Coney River, on the Virginia side.  Here the rest of the passengers, not a party to the plot, were landed, including the captain, who was placed under guard.

"The steamer then went on a piratical cruise toward the Rappahannock River, capturing three vessels on her way, laden with ice, coal and coffee, with all which HOLLINS made his way to Fredericksburgh.

"The rebel papers here published accounts of this transaction this evening, calling it "a brilliant exploit."  Some accounts say about two hundred rebel troops were placed on board the steamer at Coney."

That Pirate Hollins.  --Old B-R'er

155 Years Ago: Semmes Has Captured Seven Union Ships

JULY 6TH, 1861:  The CSS Sumter, Commander Semmes, arrived at Cienfuegos, Cuba, with seven U.S. vessels taken as prizes--  Cuba, Machias, Ben Dunning, Albert Adams, Naiad, West Wind and Lewis Kilham.

Semmes appointed a Cuban agent for custody of the prizes, expressing to the Governor there that he had entered that port "with the expectation that Spain will extend to cruisers of the Confederate States the same friendly reception that in similar circumstances she would extend to the cruisers of the enemy...."

--Old B-Runner

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

The Piratical Capture of the St. Nicholas-- Part 1: Disguised as a Woman

From the July 2, 1861, New York Times.

This past Tuesday, June 28, I wrote about the seizure of the Union steamer St. Nicholas.  Here is what the New York Times had to say about it back then.


"The seizure of the steamer St. Nicholas, from this post as mentioned in our Washington dispatches, proves to have been a bold piratical expedition.

"When the steamer left here on Friday evening, she had on board about 50 secession passengers, most of whom were disguised as mechanics, going to Points on the Maryland shore of the Potomac.

"Among the number was Capt. HOLLINS, late of the United States ship Susquehannah, who was disguised, some accounts say, as a woman, and retired to a state room immediately on going on board the steamer.

I Like How They Considered It a Piratical Act.    --Old B-R'er

155 Years Ago: Another Blockade Runner Capture and a Privateer Has a Good Day

JULY 5, 1861:  USS Dana, Acting master's Mate Robert B. Ely, captured sloop Teaser in Nanjemoy Creek, Maryland.

JULY 6, 1861:  Confederate privateer Jefferson Davis captured American brig John Welsh and schooner Enchantress east of Cape Hatteras.

--Old B-Runner

Monday, July 4, 2016

155 Years Ago: USS South Carolina Getting the Prize Money

JULY 4TH, 1861:  The USS South Carolina, Commander Alden, captured blockade running  schooners Shark, Venus, Ann Ryan, McCanfield, Louisa and Dart off Galveston.

JULY 5TH, 1861:  USS South Carolina captured blockade running schooners Falcon and Coralia off Galveston.

JULY 6TH, 1861:  USS South Carolina captured blockade running schooner George G. Baker off Galveston.

JULY 7TH, 1861:  The USS South Carolina captured schooner Sam Houston off Galveston.

JULY 9TH, 1861:  The USS South Carolina seized and destroyed the schooner Tom Hicks with cargo of lumber off Galveston.

JULY 12TH, 1861  The USS South Carolina captured Confederate schooner General T.J. Chambers off Galveston with cargo of lumber.

That is 12 blockade runners in eight days.  I wonder if any other Union ship seized that many in that short of a time.

Now, That Is a Lot of Prize Money for Somebody.  --Old B-Runner

Friday, July 1, 2016

Fort Fisher Summer Lecture Series July 2, Saturday: WASPs at Camp Davis

From the Summer Powder Keg newsletter of the Friends of Fort Fisher.

There will be a series of lectures every Saturday during the summer to be held at the Fort Fisher visitors center.

This Saturday, July, 2nd, the topic will be "The WASP at Camp Davis" presented by Krystal Lee.  During World War II, the Women's Airforce Service Pilots, WASP, were the first women trained to fly U.S. military aircraft.  They flew shuttles, transferred planes and often towed targets.  This freed up male pilots for fighting duties.

Camp Davis, near Wilmington, was primarily used for anti-aircraft training and Fort Fisher was a site for testing the skills.

--Old B-R'er

155 Years Ago: Blockade Initiated at Galveston, Semmes Sinks His First Ship

JULY 2ND, 1861:  The USS South Carolina, Commander James Alden, initiated blockade at Galveston.

JULY 3RD, 1861:  CSS Sumter, Commander Semmes, captured and burned the American ship Golden Rocket near Isle of Pines, off the coast of Cuba.

--Old B-Runner

155 Years Ago: Action Along the Atlantic

JULY 1ST, 1861:  The USS Minnesota, Flag Officer Stringham, captured schooner Sally Mears at Hampton Roads.

**  The Confederate privateer Petrel evaded blockaders and put to sea from Charleston.  The Petrel was the former U.S. Revenue Cutter Aiken and had a very short career, being destroyed later in the month.

--Old B-R'er

Fort Ward, Defender of Washington, D.C.

In an earlier post, I mentioned that James Ward had a fort defending Washington, D.C., named after him.

From Wikipedia.

Fort Ward is a former U.S. Army fortification located in Alexandria, Virginia.  It was the fifth-largest fort built to defend the nation's capital.  It is also one of the most-preserved D.C. forts with between 90-95% of its earthen walls intact to this day.

When Virginia seceded May 23, 1861, Union troops immediately crossed the Potomac River to occupy the strategic Alexandria.

When Union General George McClellan was appointed commander five days after the disaster at First Bull Run, he was appalled at the lack of defense for Washington and ordered an immediate expansion of defenses.  Fort Ward was one of these new forts and originally designed for 24 cannons, then raised to 36.

Union troops and liberated slaves built it.  Today the old fortification is part of the Alexandria Fort Ward Museum and Historic Site.

--Old B-Runner