Fort Fisher

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

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

155 Years Ago: Action On the Sea

AUGUST 31ST, 1861:  CSS Teaser shelled Newport News.

**  USS George Peabody, Lt. Lowry, captured brig Henry C. Brooks in Hatteras Inlet.

**  USS Jamestown, Commander Green, captured British blockade running schooner Aigburth off Florida coast.

--Old B-Runner

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

155 Years Ago: Confederate Tug Harmony Attacks USS Savannah

AUGUST 30TH, 1861:  Confederate tug Harmony attacked USS Savannah, Captain Joseph B. Hull, at Newport News, inflicting damage before withdrawing.

--Old B-Runner

Monday, August 29, 2016

155 Years Ago: USS R.R. Cuyler Seizes and Burns Confederate Ship

AUGUST 29TH, 1861:  The USS R.R. Cuyler, Captain Francis B. Ellison, seized and burned Confederate ship Finland, which was prepared to receive cargo of cotton and run the blockade off Apalachicola, Florida.

--Old B-Runner

Sunday, August 28, 2016

155 Years Ago: Hatteras Inlet Secured By Stringham's Squadron

AUGUST 29TH, 1861:  Hatteras Inlet, N.C., secured as Forts Hatteras and Clark surrendered unconditionally to Flag Officer Stringham and General Butler.  The Union triumph sealed off commerce raiding and blockade running from Pamlico Sound.

Hatteras Inlet became a coal and supply depot for blockading ships.

Of this most successful joint operation Admiral David D. Porter later wrote: "This was our first naval victory of any kind, and should not be forgotten.  The Union cause was then in a depressed condition, owing to the recent reverses it had experienced (Battle of Bull Run).  The morale effect of this affair was very great, as it gave us a foothold on Southern soil and possession of the Sounds of North Carolina if we chose to occupy them.  It was a death-blow to blockade running in that vicinity, and ultimately proved one of the most important events of the war."

--Old B-Runner

Friday, August 26, 2016

See Civil War Photography At CSS Neuse This Saturday

From the August 25, 2016, Wilson (N.C.) Times "CSS Neuse featuring Civil War-era photography."

Photography was a fairly new art at the time of the Civil War.  Early photograph images will be featured at the "Hands on History" program at 10 a.m. Saturday at the CSS Neuse Interpretive Center in Kinston.

They say you will learn the differences between daguerreotypy, ambrotype and tintype photos.  This was the first major war in which photography played a role.

Formal portraits taken in the studio at the time often appear to be bathed in a brown or gray light-- that process will be explained.  Plus, you can have your very own tintype taken.

The CSS Neuse Center is located at 100 N. Queen Street in Kinston.  Admission to it is $5 for adults and $4 for seniors.  It is part of the Division of State Historic Sites in the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.

See the Boat, Get Your Picture Taken.  --Old B-Runner

155 Years Ago: Defending Fort Ellsworth

AUGUST 28TH, 1861:  Commander Dahlgren, Commandant of Washington Navy Yard, sent 400 seamen on steamboat Philadelphia to Alexandria, Virginia, to report to Brigadier General William B. Franklin for the defense of Fort Ellsworth.

The timely naval reinforcement strengthened the fort's defenses and consequently that of the nation's capital, Washington, D.C..

**  The USS Yankee, Commander T.T. Craven, captured schooner Remittance near Piney Point, Virginia.

--Old B-Runner

155 Years Ago: Bombardment of Forts Hatteras and Clark Begins

AUGUST 28TH, 1861:  Flag Officer Stringham's squadron commenced bombardment of Forts Hatteras and Clark; Marines and troops were landed from surf boats above the forts under cover of naval gunfire.  the ships' heavy cannonade forced the Confederates to evacuate Fort Clark.

Commodore Samuel Barron, CSN, with two small vessels joined the defenders of Fort Hatteras that evening.

--Old B-R'er

155 Years Ago: Stringham's Squadron Reaches Hatteras Inlet

AUGUST 27TH, 1861:  Flag Officer Stringham's squadron anchored off Hatteras Inlet and prepared to land the troops and take Forts Hatteras and Clark under attack.

--Old B-Runner

155 Years Ago: Foote Replaces Rodgers on Western Waters

AUGUST 26TH, 1861:  Captain A.H. Foote ordered to relieve Commander J. Rodgers in command of Army's gunboat flotilla on the western rivers.

**  US tug Fanny, Lt. Crosby, reported the capture of blockade running sloop Mary Emma at the headwaters of Manokin River, Maryland.

**  USS Daylight, Commander Lockwood, re-captured brig Monticello in the Rappahannock River, Virginia.

--Old B-R'er

155 Years Ago: Squadron Departs Hampton Roads to Attack Confederate Forts at Hatteras Inlet, N.C.

AUGUST 26TH, 1861:  Union squadron under Flag officer Stringham: USS Minnesota, Wabash, Monticello, Pawnee, revenue Cutter Harriet Lane, U.S. tug Fanny and two transports carrying about 900 troops under Major General Butler, departed Hampton Roads (later joined by the USS Susquehanna and Cumberland) for Hatteras Inlet, North Carolina, for the first combined action of the war.

Hatteras Inlet was the main channel into Pamlico Sound and the most convenient entrance for blockade runners bringing supplies to the Confederate Army in Virginia.

The Navy early recognized the strategic importance of the inlet and invited the Army to cooperate in its capture.  The operation was designed to check Confederate privateering and to begin the relentless assault from the sea that would divert a large portion of Confederate manpower from the main armies

--Old B-Runner

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

155 Years Ago: Davis Appoints Slidell and Mason As Commissioners to Europe

AUGUST 24TH, 1861:  President Jefferson Davis appointed James M. Mason as Special Commissioner to the United Kingdom, and John Slidell, Special Commissioner to France.

And, we all know what happened on their way to Europe.

--Old B-Runner

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

155 Years Ago: Engagement at Potomac Creek, Virginia

AUGUST 23, 1861:  The USS Release and USS Yankee engaged Confederate batteries at the mouth of Potomac Creek, Virginia.

Potomac Creek is a 16.7 mile long tidal tributary of the Potomac River and empties into it at Marlboro Point.

The U.S. Dept. of the Interior mentions that on August 22, 1861, the USS Jacob Bell and Release (ice boat) engaged batteries at Marlboro Point and Potomac Creek, Virginia, in its National Register of Historic Places.

--Old B-Runner

Monday, August 22, 2016

USS Pawtuxet-- Part 3: At Fort Fisher in First Battle

Continued from August 9th and 10th.

The original commander of the USS Pawtuxet, Commander J.H. Spotts was inspector of lighthouses for the 12th and 13th Districts in 1874.

During the First Battle of Fort Fisher, the USS Pawtuxet had a collision with the USS Ticonderoga.

Damage to the Pawtuxet was gun No. 2 starboard side unserviceable.

Two elevating screws for the 100-pdr. rifle broke and the gun was then unfit for further use.

--Old B-R'er

155 Years Ago: Operations in Western Waters

AUGUST 22, 1861:  Commander J. Rodgers reported that six hundred Confederate troops occupying Commerce, Missouri, withdrew at the approach of the Union gunboats.  This action prevented them from constructing batteries at a location there that would have effectively impeded river navigation.

**  The USS Lexington, Commander Stembel, seized the steamer W.B. Terry at Paducah, Kentucky, for trading with the Confederates.

**  The steamer Samuel Orr was seized by Confederates at Paducah, Kentucky, and taken up the Tennessee River.

Must Have Been a Lot of Action Around Paducah.  --Old B-Runner

Friday, August 19, 2016

155 Years Ago: Blockade Runner Captured Off Charleston, S.C.

AUGUST 21ST, 1861:  The USS Vandalia, Commander Samuel Phillips Lee, captured Confederate blockade runner Henry Middleton off Charleston with a cargo of spirits, turpentine and rosin.

--Old B-R'er

155 Years Ago: Marines to Scout Maryland Countryside for Confederate Depots

AUGUST 19-21, 1861:  Assistant Secretary of tye Navy Fox ordered 200 Marines to report to Commander Dahlgren at the Washington Navy Yard for duty on ships of the Potomac Flotilla for the purpose of scouting the Maryland countryside, especially around Port Tobacco, for locations suspected of being Confederate depots for provisions and arms to be used for invading Maryland.

--Old B-Runner

Thursday, August 18, 2016

155 Years Ago: Loss of Confederate Privateer Jefferson Davis

AUGUST 18TH, 1861:  The Confederate privateer Jefferson Davis, Captain Coxetter, wrecked on the bar trying to enter St. Augustine, Florida, ending a most successful cruise.

The Charleston (S.C.) Mercury on 26 August 1861) said:  "The name of the privateer Jefferson Davis has become a real word of terror to the Yankees.  The number of her prizes and the amount of merchandise which she captured have no parallel since the days of the Saucy Jack [War of 1812 privateer]."

I have written a lot about the Saucy Jack in my Not So Forgotten: War of 1812 blog.

--Old B-Runner

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

155 Years Ago: Work Continues on the "Stone Fleet"

AUGUST 17TH, 1861:  Lt. Reigart B. Lowry wrote Assistant Secretary of the Navy Fox regarding the progress for sinking a stone fleet to block the inlets to the North Carolina sounds:  "We have nineteen schooners properly loaded with stone, and all our preparations are complete to divide them into two divisions and place them in tow of this steamer [Adelaide] and of the Governor Peabody.

"I think all arrangements are complete, as far as being prepared to 'sink and obstruct' .../ the obstructing party could place their vessels in position, secure them as we propose, by binding chains, spars on end in teh sand to settle by action of the tide, anchors down, and finally sink them in such a way as to block the channel so effectually that there could be no navigation through them for several months to come, at least till by the aid of our new gunboats the outside blockade could be effectual."

--Old B-Runner

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

155 Years Ago: Lincoln Proclaims a State of Insurrection Exists

AUGUST 16TH, 1861:  President Lincoln declares the inhabitants of the Confederate States to be in a state of insurrection and forbade all commercial intercourse with them.

As usual, Being Careful of His Wording.  --Old B-R'er

The Final "Beat the Heat" Lecture at Fort Fisher: Chris Fonvielle on Action at at Sugarloaf Lines

Well, missed it, but of note.

On Saturday, August 13, Dr. Chris Fonvielle gave a talk on "After Fisher: Action At Sugarloaf Lines."

With the fall of Fort Fisher, Union attention was drawn to the capture of the port of Wilmington, N.C.

Defending the approach from Fort Fisher was a series of earthworks in and around Sugarloaf Hill on the Cape Fear River.  It bisected the peninsula and ran eastward until reaching Myrtle Grove Sound.

The talk was held at the Fort Fisher Museum.

I'd Have Like to Have Been There.  --Old B-R'er

Monday, August 15, 2016

USS Santee-- Part 3: Action at Galveston

Continued from August 9, 2016.

On 7 November 1861, boats from the Santee entered Galveston Bay with the idea of capturing and burning the Confederate steamer General Rusk, but in attempting to avoid detection, the boats ran aground and were detected.

The boats commander, Lt. James Edward Jouett, then decided to capture the Confederate lookout vessel Royal Yacht and captured it after a desperate hand-to-hand fight.  They set it afire and returned to the Santee with twelve prisoners.

Union losses were 1 killed and 8 wounded, one of these mortally.  One 15-year-old sailor named James Henry Carpenter was wounded in the thigh and received commendations for his role and was appointed the United States Naval Academy and served again on the USS Santee when it became an Academy schools school ship.

Another sailor, George H. Bell, received a Medal of Honor.

--Old B-R'er

155 Years Ago: Recon Missions on the Mississippi and in Virginia

AUGUST 15TH, 1861:  USS Tyler and Conestoga, Lt. S.L. Phelps, scouted the Mississippi for Confederate fortifications and movements as far south as New Madrid, Missouri, while the USS Lexington, Lt. Roger N. Stembel, operating with the Army, made a similar reconnaissance of the river north to Cape Girardeau, Missouri.

** USS resolute, Acting Master W. Budd, while on a reconnaissance mission, engaged Confederate troops at Mathias Point, Virginia.

--Old B-Runner

Friday, August 12, 2016

155 Years Ago: Bulloch Looking for Warships in England

AUGUST 13TH, 1861:  Commander Bulloch, CSN, writing from London to Confederate Secretary of the Navy Mallory, said, "After careful examination of the shipping lists of England, and inspecting many vessels, I failed to find a single wooden steamer fit for war purposes, except one paddle steamer, too large and costly and drawing too much water for our coast.

"Wood as a material for ships has almost entirely gone out of use in the British merchant service, and their iron ships, though fast, well built, and staunch enough for voyages of traffic, are too thin in the plates and light in the deck frames and stanchions to carry guns of much weight.

"I therefore made arrangements to contract with two eminent builders for a gun vessel each..."

These, of course, would be Confederate commerce raiders.

**  USS Powhatan, Lt. David D. Porter, recaptured schooner Abby Bradford off the mouth of the Mississippi River.

--Old B-R'er

155 Years Ago: U.S. Gunboats Arrive at Cairo, Illinois

AUGUST 12TH, 1861:  Gunboats USS Tyler, Lexington and Conestoga procured and fitted out by Commander J. Rodgers, arrived at Cairo, Illinois, to protect the strategic position at the junction of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, and to scout the rivers for Confederate batteries and troop movements.

--Old B-Runner

Thursday, August 11, 2016

155 Years Ago: Blockade-Runner Louisa Sunk At Cape Fear, N.C.

AUGUST 11, 2016:  The blockade-runner Louisa, pursued by the USS Penguin, Commander John L. Livingston, struck shoal near Cape Fear, North Carolina, and sank.

This is the first mention I've come across of any blockade-runner being destroyed or captured attempting to run into or out of the Cape Fear River.  If so, it was the first of many, not to mention the ones that were successful.

--Old B-R'er

The Wounded of the USS Pawtuxet at Fort Fisher

From ORN.  Report of Acting Assistant Surgeon Henry Johnson to Cmdr. Spotts regarding sailors from the Pawtuxet wounded in the Naval Column attack on Fort Fisher on January 15, 1865.


Walter Creswick, landsman.  musket ball in calf of right leg.  Slight wound.

Auguste Flint, seaman.  Wounded slightly in face.

--Old B-R'er

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

USS Pawtuxet-- Part 2: At Both Fort Fisher Battles

Continued from August 5.

After that, the Pawtuxet was ordered to join the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron and joined the Third Division in October.  It mostly patrolled between Cape Lookout and Cape Fear, North Carolina, looking for blockade runners.

It was at the First Battle of Fort Fisher in December 1864 as well as the Second Battle of Fort Fisher in January 1865.  At the Second Battle, it sent men for the Naval Column assault.

After the battle, it resumed blockade duties, eventually being transferred to the Virginia coast in April and was decommissioned in New York City 15 June 1865, and sold 15 October 1867.

--Old B-R'er

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

USS Santee-- Part 2: Action in the Gulf

The USS Santee was 190 feet long with a 45 foot beam, wooden-hulled, three masted sailing frigate crewed by 480 and mounting two 64-pdrs, ten 8-inch shell guns thirty-six 32-pdrs and two heavy 12 pdrs.  Quite a powerful armament.

It was sent to the Gulf of Mexico and on August 8, as mentioned in yesterday's post, captured the C.P. Knapp, 350 miles south of Pensacola and escorted its prize to that port.  Its second prize came 27 October 1861, when it captured the Delta off Galveston.

--Old B-R'er

155 Years Ago: Privateer Action Off Cape Hatteras

AUGUST 9TH, 1861:  The Confederate privateer York captured schooner George G. Baker.  The USS Union, Commander J.R. Goldsborough, recaptured the George G. Baker.

The York was set afire off Cape Hatteras by her crew to prevent capture by the Union.

--Old B-Runner

Monday, August 8, 2016

USS Santee-- Part 1: Construction Started 1820, But Not Launched Until 1855

From Wikipedia.

Since I had never heard of the USS Santee, I had to inquire further into its history.

It was a three-masted, wooden hulled sailing frigate. and one of the last sailing frigates in active service.  In the Civil War it was crewed by 480 and fitted out with an array of heavy guns.

It did blockade duty and later served as a training ship for the USNA.

It was rated for 44 guns and construction on the Santee began at Portsmouth Navy Yard in 1820, but lack of funds lef to it not being launched until 16 February 1855, but was not commissioned until 9 June 1861, with Captain Henry Eagle in command.

--Old B-R'er

155 Years Ago: USS Santee Captures a Blockade-Runner

AUGUST 8TH, 1861:  The USS Santee, Captain Eagle, captured schooner C.P. Knapp in the Gulf of Mexico.

--Old B-Runner

Friday, August 5, 2016

Fort Fisher's "Beat the Heat" Lectures: "Charles Towne on the Cape Fear"

SATURDAY AUGUST 6TH.  Jack E. Fryar, Jr. will present a talk on "Charles Towne on the Cape Fear" Saturday.

The first Charles Town in the Carolina colony was not in South Carolina, but centered around a central compound at Town Creek on the Cape Fear River (near present-day Wilmington.

Author and historian Jack Fryar will share the story of the rise and fall of Carolina's first Barbadian settlement.

--Old B-Runner

Fort Fisher's "Beat the Heat" Lecture Series: Michael Hardy

Well, we missed it.


Michael Hardy, historian and author, will present "North Carolina as the Last Confederate Capital."  In the waning days of the Confederacy, from April 11 to April 26, North Carolina was the capital of the fast-ending country.

He will have his books for sale and will sign them.

--Old B-R'er

USS Pawtuxet-- Part 1: Looking for the Tallahassee

From Wikipedia.

Earlier this past week, I wrote two blog entries I wrote about Sidney Stockbridge's letter about the Second Battle of Fort Fisher.  I must admit that I had never heard of his ship, the USS Pawtuxet.

The USS Pawtuxet was a sidewheel steamer launched at Portsmouth Navy Yard (New Hampshire) 19 March 1864, delivered to the Navy at New York City 18 May 1864 and commissioned 26 August 1864, under the command of Cmdr. J.H. Spotts.

It was 205 feet long and 35 foot beam and mounted two 100-pdr. Parrott Rifles, four 9-inch Dahlgren smoothbores, two 20-pdr. Parrott Rifles and two 24-pdr. howitzers.

It was immediately ordered to the Grand Banks off Newfoundland, Canada, to look for the Confederate raider CSS Tallahassee, but that vessel had already returned to its home port of Wilmington, N.C..

--Old B-Runner

155 Years Ago: J.B. Eads to Construct Seven Ironclad River Gunboats

AUGUST 7TH, 1861:  The War department contracted with J.B. Eads of St. Louis for construction of seven shallow-draft ironclad river gunboats.  The Eads gunboats, all named for river cities, were the Cairo, Carondelet, Cincinnati, Louisville, Mound City, Pittsburg and St. Louis.

They formed the core of Union naval forces on western waters.

Built with the aid of Naval Constructor Samuel M. Pook, USN, they became known as "Pook's Turtles and were the key to Grant's great series of campaigns beginning in February 1862, which ultimately split the Confederacy and had a decisive influence on the war.

--Old B-R'er

155 Years Ago: More Action

AUGUST 5TH, 1861:  The USS Jamestown, Commander Charles Green, burned the Confederate prize bark Alvarado near Fernandina, Florida.

**  Confederate privateer Jefferson Davis captured large American brig Santa Clara off Puerto Rico.

--Old B-Runner

Thursday, August 4, 2016

The Sidney Stockbridge Letters at Fort Fisher-- Part 2: Colonel Lamb's Dog

The letter was dated January 16-18, 1865 and had information about the torpedoes at Battery Buchanan, a sketch of the fort done from the USS Pawtuxet and another from inside the fort.  In addition, there was a gruesome post-battle description of the fort.

Apparently, Mr. Stockbridge had also been involved in the capture of Col. Lamb's dog.

No one on the Fort Fisher staff was aware that Lamb had had a dog.

With the assistance of Christian Edwards from the NCDNCR Archives and History Collection Branch in Raleigh an agreement was worked out to obtain the entire collection of approximately 30 letters. All of them will be scanned and transcribed on a one-year loan.

An exhibit at the museum is being planned.

--Old B-Runner

155 Years Ago: Two Confederate Ships Captured by USS Thomas Freeborn

AUGUST 4TH, 1861:  Cutter from the USS Thomas Freeborn, Lieutenant Eastman, captured schooner Pocahontas, loaded with wood, and sloop Mary Grey in Pohick Creek, Virginia.

--Old B-Runner

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

155 Years Ago: Other Naval Action

AUGUST 3RD, 1861:  The USS Wabash, Captain Mercer, recaptured the American schooner Mary Alice, which had been taken by the Confederate privateer Dixie, and captured the brig Sarah Starr, a blockade runner, off Charleston.

**  USS South Carolina, Commander Alden, engaged Confederate batteries at Galveston.

--Old B-Runner

155 Years Ago: Creation of the Union's Ironclad Board

AUGUST 3RD, 1861:  Congress authorized Secretary of the Navy Welles to "appoint a board of three skillful naval officers to investigate the plans and specifications that may be submitted for the construction or completing of iron or steel-clad steamships or steam batteries ... there is hereby appropriated ... the sum of one million five hundred thousand dollars."

Commodore Joseph Smith, Hiram Paulding and Commander Charles H. Davis appointed to the Ironclad Board on 8 August.

U.S. Navy Goes Iron.  --Old B-R'er

155 Years Ago: First Union Balloon Ascent

AUGUST 3RD, 1861:  John LaMountain made first ascent in a balloon from the Union ship Fanny at Hampton Roads to observe Confederate batteries at Sewell's Point, Virginia.

This was a small beginning for the future potent aircraft carriers in the tridimensional U.S. Navy of the Twentieth Century.

--Old B-Runner

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

The Sidney Stockbridge Letters at Fort Fisher-- Part 1

From the Summer 2016 The Powder Magazine by Becky Sawyer.

In April 2016, the Fort Fisher State Historic Site was contacted by Joe Stockbridge of Surry, Maine.  He had a set of letters written by his great-uncle, Sidney Stockbridge who was serving on the USS Pawtuxet during the Second Battle of Fort Fisher.

One of those letters contained an account of the battle, a sketch of the fort and a souvenir of Colonel Lamb's signature.

Joe Stockbridge sent the original letter.

--Old B-Runner

New Visitors Center at Fort Fisher-- Part 2

The Fort Fisher State Historic Site is visited by over 800,000 people a year.  The current center was built in the early 1960s and designed to handle roughly 40,000 a year comfortably.

However, it was a whole lot better than the original "museum" which was a roughly 20-by-20-foot structure on Battle Acre.

--Old B-Runner

Monday, August 1, 2016

New Visitors Center for Fort Fisher-- Part 1

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

The state funding has been approved.  New Hanover County Representative Ted Davis was the legislator largely responsible to get $400,000 in state funds directed at this.

The money will be used in the early stages leading to the new building which will cost several million dollars.  The friends of Fort Fisher will raise the largest amount of the money for construction of the building.

--Old B-R'er

155 Years Ago: Gustavus V. Fox Appointed Assistant Secretary of the Navy

AUGUST 1ST, 1861:  President Lincoln appointed Gustavus V. Fox Assistant Secretary of the Navy.  Fox, the energetic ex-naval officer who had led the unsuccessful Fort Sumter expedition in April, became Secretary Welles' right hand man in the Department.

His large acquaintance among naval officers and forthright "unofficial" style made him a useful troubleshooter.  By the informal correspondence which he elicited from the chief naval commanders, the Navy Department was able to keep in intimate touch with problems in several squadrons.

--Old B-Runner