Fort Fisher

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

Friday, September 30, 2016

155 Years Ago, September 24, 1861: Action Off Louisiana

SEPTEMBER 24TH, 1861:  The USS Dart, Acting Master William M. Wheeler, captured Confederate schooner Cecilia off Louisiana, thereafter fitted out as a Union cruiser by the USS Huntsville, Commander Cicero Price.

Could be an interesting story here.

--Old B-Runner

Thursday, September 29, 2016

155 Years Ago, September 23, 1861: Goldsborough Assumes Command of NABS

SEPTEMBER 23RD, 1861:  Flag Officer L.M. Goldsborough assumed command of the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron, including operations in the Chesapeake.

Organizing the blockade more effectively.

--Old B-Runner

Thursday, September 22, 2016

155 Years Ago, September 22, 1861: Action Off Federal Point, N.C.

SEPTEMBER 22, 1861:  USS Gemsbock, Acting Master Cavendy, captured schooner Mary E. Pindar off Federal Point, North Carolina, attempting to run the blockade with cargo of lime.

Federal Point was renamed Confederate Point by the Southerners and was where Fort Fisher would be built guarding New Inlet of the Cape Fear River and Wilmington.

**  Flag Officer William McKean assumed command of the Gulf Blockading Squadron.

--Old B-Runner

155 Years Ago, September 21, 1861: Another Capture on the Potomac River

SEPTEMBER 21, 1861:  Boat under Midshipman Edward A. Walker from USS Seminole, Commander Gillis, captured sloop Maryland on the Potomac River.

--Old B-Runner

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Formation of New Blockading Squadrons

Evidently, with Du Pont's appointment as well as Goldsborough's and McKean's, the Navy Department was dividing up the former Gulf Coast and Atlantic blockading squadrons because of war operations.

--Old B-Runner

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

155 Years Ago, September 18-19, 1861: More Confederate Ships Captured

SEPTEMBER 18TH, 1861:  The USS Rescue, Master Edward L. Haines, captured Confederate schooner Harford with cargo of wheat and tobacco on the Potomac River.

SEPTEMBER 19TH, 1861:  The USS Gemsbock, Acting Master Cavendy, captured blockade running schooner Harmony en route Nova Scotia to Ocracoke, N.C..

--Old B-Runer

155 Years Ago, September 17, 1861: Goldsborough to Command NABS

SEPTEMBER 17TH, 1861:  Secretary of Navy Welles wrote Flag officer Goldsborough, appointed to command the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron:  "It is essentially necessary that the Navy should at this point put forth all of its strength and demonstrate to the country and to foreign powers its usefulness and capability in protecting and supporting the Government and the Union.

"There must be no commercial intercourse with the ports that are in insurrection, and our Navy must, by its power, energy, and activity, enforce the views of the President and the Government on this subject.

"Privateers to depredate on our commerce and rob our countrymen pursuing their peaceful avocations must not be permitted...."

In other words, close those ports and get those privateers.

--Old B-Runner

Sunday, September 18, 2016

155 Years Ago, September 18, 1861: Du Pont Appointed Commander of South Atlantic Blockading Squadron

SEPTEMBER 18TH, 1861:  Flag Officer Du Pont was appointed Commander of the South Atlantic Blockading squadron.  Du Pont wrote:  "My appointment as a flag officer will be dated today....  Things have taken an active turn and this day is an epoch in naval history-- seniority and rotation have seen their last day.

"Selection with as much regard to seniority as the good of the service will admit, is now the order of the day."

Evidently promotion before the war was based strictly on seniority, not ability.

--Old B-Runner

155 Years Ago, September 17, 1861: Confederates Evacuate Ship Island, Mississippi

SEPTEMBER 17TH, 1861:  Confederates evacuate Ship Island, Mississippi; landing party from the USS Massachusetts took possession.  Ship Island eventually became the staging area for General Butler's troops in the amphibious operations below New Orleans.

--Old B-Runner

Saturday, September 17, 2016

155 Years Ago, September 29, 1861: Susquehanna Captures Another Runner

SEPTEMBER 29TH, 1861:  The USS Susquehanna, Captain Chauncey, captured the schooner Baltimore off Hatteras Inlet, North Carolina.

--Old B-Runner

155 Years Ago, September 16-17, 1861: Ocracoke Inlet Closed

SEPTEMBER 16-17TH, 1861:  Landing party from the USS Pawnee, Commander Rowan, destroyed guns and fortifications on Beacon Island, closing Ocracoke Inlet, North Carolina.

Admiral D.D. Porter later wrote: "The closing of these inlets [Hatteras and Ocracoke] to the Sounds of North Carolina sent the blockade runners elsewhere to find entrance to Southern markets, but as channel after channel was closed the smugglers' chance diminished...."

--Old B-Runner

Friday, September 16, 2016

155 Years Ago, September 23, 1861:

SEPTEMBER 23RD, 1861:  USS Cambridge, Commander W.A. Parker, captured British schooner Julia, bound for Beaufort, North Carolina.

**  Flag Officer I.M. Goldsborough assumed command of the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron, including operations in the Chesapeake.

--Old B-Runner

155 Years Ago, September 23, 1861: River Operations

SEPTEMBER 23RD, 1861:  The USS Lexington, Commander Stembel, proceeded to Owensboro, Kentucky, "for the purpose of keeping the Ohio River open" and in order to protect Union interests in the area.

Such expeditions deep into territory with Confederate sympathies were fundamental in containing Southern advance into the border states.

--Old B-Runner

155 Years Ago, September 16, 1861: Ironclad Board Recommends Construction of Three Ironclads

SEPTEMBER 16TH, 1861:  The Ironclad Board reported to Secretary of the Navy Welles:  "For river and harbor service we consider iron-clad vessels of light draught, of floating batteries thus shielded, as very important... Armored ships or batteries may be employed advantageously to pass fortifications on land for ulterior objects of attack, to run a blockade, or to reduce temporary batteries on the shores of the rivers and the approaches to our harbors."

The Board recommended construction of three ironclads (Monitor, Galena and New Ironsides).  These ships (especially the Monitor), and those that followed, revolutionized naval warfare.

So Came the Monitor--Old B-Runner

155 Years Ago, September 16, 1861: The Conestoga Captures Steamers on Cumberland River

SEPTEMBER 16TH, 1861:  The USS Conestoga, Lt. S.L. Phelps, captured Confederate steamers V.R. Stephenson and Gazelle on the Cumberland River, Kentucky.

Old B-R'er

Thursday, September 15, 2016

John S. Chauncey Was Isaac Chauncey's Son-- Part 2: Naval Career

Geni lists him as being the son of Isaac Chauncey.

CIVIL WAR HIGH COMMANDS has this to say about John S. Chauncey:

Born New York 8 March 1805.  Midshipman USN 1 January 1812.  (If these dates are correct this would mean that John S. Chauncey became a midshipman at age 7.  He might have served with his father.)

Lieutenant 13 January 1825.  Commander 8 September 1841.  Dropped 13 September 1855.  Captain USN 14 September 1855.  (It would be interesting to know what happened here at this point in his life.)

Commander of USS Susquehanna June 1861.  Promoted to commodore USN 12 March 1867.  became Commodore USN (Ret) 4 April 1869.

Died Lewisburg, Pennsylvania 10 April 1871.

--Old B-R'er

USS Penguin-- Part 5: To the West Gulf Blockading Squadron 1863-1865

The USS Penguin was involved with the occupation of Port Royal, South Carolina on 7 November 1861 and the capture of Fernandina, Florida, and Brunswick, St. Simon and Jeckyl Islands, Georgia 2-22 March 1862.

It was then in the West Gulf Blockading Squadron 1863-1865.

Ships the Penguin captured:  Louisa 11 August 1861, Albion 25 November 1861, steamer Matagorda 8 July 1864, steamer Granite City 21 January 1865.

After decommissioning, the Penguin became the merchant ship Florida before being converted into a schooner.  It was abandoned in 1803.

--Old B-Runner

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

USS Penguin-- Part 4: Some More Information

The USS Penguin definitely did not have a very warlike name.  The word penguin just doesn't strike fear into anybody.

From Civil War Navies 1855-1883.

The USS Penguin was built at Mystic, Connecticut, and launched 26 November 1859.  It weighed 389 tons and had one screw for propulsion and an Ericsson (designer of the USS Monitor) capable of ten knots.  The crew numbered 69.

It served in the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron in August 1861, when it sank the aforementioned blockade runner Louisa.  In October 1861, it was transferred to the Potomac Flotilla.

--Old B-R'er

155 Years Ago, September 14, 1861: Daring Attack at Pensacola

SEPTEMBER 14TH, 1861:  In the early morning darkness, sailors and Marines from the USS Colorado, towing into Pensacola Harbor, boarded and burned Confederate privateering schooner Judah and spiked guns at Pensacola Navy Yard.

**  The USS Albatross, Commander Prentis, captured schooner Alabama near mouth of the Potomac River.

--Old B-Runner

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Was the Captain John S. Chauncey Related to the War of 1812's Isaac Chauncey? Yes

In the previous post, I wrote that the USS Susquehanna, under Captain John C. Chauncey captured a blockade runner.

I also have a War of 1812 blog called Not So Forgotten, and have written a lot about American Naval commander Isaac Chauncey who led operations at Sackets Harbor New York in the struggle for Lake Ontario.

I got to wondering if the two were related, perhaps John was Isaac's son?

Genealogy says that Isaac Chauncey had a son named John St. Clair Chauncey born 1805, died April 10, 1871.

Most likely, John S. is Isaac's son.

--Old B-R'er

155 Years Ago, September 13, 1861: Action Off Newport News

SEPTEMBER 13TH, 1861: USS Susquehanna, Captain John C. Chauncey, captured blockade running British schooner Argonaut, with cargo of fish, bound from Nova Scotia to Key West.

**  CSS Patrick Henry, Commander John R. Tucker, exchanged fire with the USS Savannah, Captain Hull, and USS Louisiana, Lt. Alexander Murray, off Newport News;  shots on both sides fell short.

--Old B-Runner

155 Years Ago, September 13, 1861: Action Off Newport News

SEPTEMBER 13TH, 1861: USS Susquehanna, Captain John C. Chauncey, captured blockade running British schooner Argonaut, with cargo of fish, bound from Nova Scotia to Key West.

**  CSS Patrick Henry, Commander John R. Tucker, exchanged fire with the USS Savannah, Captain Hull, and USS Louisiana, Lt. Alexander Murray, off Newport News;  shots on both sides fell short.

--Old B-Runner

Monday, September 12, 2016

Some More on USS Penguin Chasing the Blockade-Runner Louisa Aground Off Cape Fear River

On August 11, 1861, the USS  Penguin, Commander John L. Livingston, chased the blockade-runner Louisa to where it struck a shoal near the Cape Fear River, North Carolina, where it sank.

U.S. Naval & Heritage Command.  August 11, 1861, the USS Penguin, Cmdr. John L. Livingston chased blockade-runner Louisa near Cape Fear River, N.C..  It hit a sand shoal and sank.


The Louisa, a Confederate schooner of 200 tons, carrying a cargo of coffee, ran into a reef and capsized on August 10, 1861, near the lighthouse, about three miles south of Fort fisher,  The surf quickly borke over the stricken vessel and it was declared a wreck.

--Old B-Runner

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Terror From the Sky

From the September 11, 2016, B.C. comic strip.

1.  Night time picture of a stand-alone cave.
2.  Someone in the cave says:  "I hate insomnia."
3.  One cave man says to others:  "Have you guys seen B.C.?"
4.  Another one says: "He took off around 3 a.m.."
5.  "...Said something about needing some alone time."
6.  The caveman who wanted to know where B.C. was is walking off:  "Great.  Wonder what the big goofball is up to now...."
7.  He comes across B.C. painting words on a big rock with two tall, slender volcanoes with smoke coming out of their tops in the background.  B.C. has written the words:

"Heroism is courage despite consequence."

Those words hit home.  It took a huge amount of courage to run into those burning buildings, knowing that you might die.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

155 Years Ago: USS South Carolina Captures Another Runner

SEPTEMBER 11TH, 1861:  The USS South Carolina, Commander Alden,  captured Soledad Cos with a cargo of coffee off Galveston.

Since July 1, 1861, just over two months, the USS South Carolina had captured 13 blockade-runners.

Rolling in the Prize Money, That Crew.  --Old B-Runner

155 Years Ago: Action in Missouri and North Carolina

SEPTEMBER 10, 1861:  USS Conestoga, Lt. S.L. Phelps, and USS Lexington, Commander Stembel, covering a troop advance, silenced the guns of a Confederate battery and damaged gunboat CSS Yankee at Lucas Bend, Missouri.

**  USS Pawnee, Commander Rowan, captured schooner Susan Jane in Hatteras Inlet.  Other blockade runners, unaware that the Union Navy now controlled the inlet, were also taken as prizes.

**  USS Cambridge, Commander W.A. Parker, captured British blockade running schooner Revere off Beaufort, North Carolina, with cargo of salt and herring.

CSS Yankee.  Quite a Name for a Confederate Ship, Like the CSS United States.  --Old B-Runner

Friday, September 9, 2016

USS Jacob Bell-- Part 1: One of the Oldest Gunboats Acquired By the Union Navy

On August 23, 1861, the USS Jacob Bell is mentioned in one source as engaging a Confederate battery at Potomac Creek on the Potomac River.

From Wikipedia.

USS Jacob Bell (1842).  Sidewheel steamer, 141 feet long, 21 foot beam, 8 foot hold, one 32-pdr, one 8-inch Dahlgren smoothbore.  Built 1842 by  Brown & Bell of New York City.  Purchased by the Navy 22 August 1861 and commissioned the same day under Lr. Edward P. McCrea.

this was definitely a rush job.  Being built in 1842, the ship was also one of the oldest purchased by the Navy.

It was immediately sent to the Potomac River where it joined the steamship USS Ice Boat in shelling the Confedeertae Battery at the mouth of Potomac Creek the next day.

I have to wonder about a ship named the Ice Boat being in the Union Navy, so will have to find out more information about it.

--Old B-R'er

155 Years Ago: Action Off Nova Scotia

SEPTEMBER 9TH, 1861:  The USS Cambridge, Commander William A. Parker, captured the schooner Louisa Agnes off Nova Scotia.

--Old B-Runner

Thursday, September 8, 2016

CSS General Rusk-- Part 3: It's Namesake, Thomas Jefferson Rusk

From Wikipedia.

Thomas Jefferson Rusk  December 5, 1802 to July 29, 1857.

Early politician and military leader of the Republic of Texas where he served as secretary of War.

He was a general at the battle of San Jacinto and then became a U.S. politician, serving as U.S. Senator form Texas from 1846 until he committed suicide.

--Old B-R'er

CSS General Rusk-- Part 2: Became a Blockade-Runner

It was transferred from the Texas Marine Department in 1861 and placed under the British flag to operate as a blockade-runner.  renamed as the SS Blanche, it ran aground near Mariano, Cuba, while attempting to escape from the USS Montgomery.

Then, it was destroyed by fire after attempts to refloat her failed.

--Old B-Runner

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

CSS General Rusk-- Part 1: Former SS General Rusk

On August 15, 2016, I wrote about the USS Santee sending boats into Galveston bay in an attempt to capture and burn the Confederate steamer General Rusk on 7 November 1861.  The attack failed, but I'd never heard of the CSS General Rusk, so here I go again.

From the Nav Source.

The CSS General Rusk was built as the SS General Rusk in 1857 in Wilmington, Delaware for the Southern Steamship Company.  It was seized by the State of Texas at Galveston in 1861.

It did duty as a reconnaissance and signal boat for the Texas Marine Department in Galveston Harbor after that.

It captured the SS Star of the West 17 April 1861 off Indianola, Texas.  This was the ship that had tried to reach Fort Sumter and was fired upon and withdrew.  Some people consider this the first shots of the Civil War.

--Old B-R'er

155 Years Ago: Foote Relieves Rodgers in Command of Western Waters

SEPTEMBER 5, 1861:   Captain A.H. Foote reported at St. Louis, Missouri, to relieve Commander J. Rodgers in command of naval operations on the western rivers.

--Old B-Runner

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

155 Years Ago: Confederates Buying Steamers in England

SEPTEMBER 6TH, 1861:  The U.S. consul in London reported the purchase by the Confederates of the steamers Bermuda, Adelaide and Victoria.

Wonder What They Were Going To Do With Them?  --Old B-R'er

155 Years Ago: Grant Makes A Move on the Rivers

SEPTEMBER 6TH, 1861:  Gunboats USS Tyler, Commander J. Rodgers, and USS Lexington, Commander Stembel, spearheaded operations by which General Grant, in his first move after taking command at Cairo, seized strategic Pudacah and Smithland, Kentucky, at the mouth of the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers.

Captain Foote, newly designated commander in the west, participated in the operation.

This initial use of strength afloat by Grant, aimed at countering a Confederate move into the state, helped preserve Kentucky for the Union, and foreshadowed the general's great reliance on naval mobility and support throughout the campaigns that divided the Confederacy and eventually placed the entire Mississippi under Union control.

--Old B-Runner

Monday, September 5, 2016

USS Penguin-- Part 3: Also in Potomac Flotilla, SABS and WGBS

In October, 1861, the Penguin joined the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron and in November participated in the capture of Fort Walker and Fort Beauregard at Hilton Head, South Carolina.  It also helped take Fernandina, Florida on 4 March 1862

On 22 March 1862, a boat crew from the ship was attacked while reconnoitering Mosquito Inlet.  In the ensuing engagement, Acting Lt. Budd and four others were killed.

Then the Penguin was sent to the West Gulf Blockading Squadron where it patrolled the Texas coast.  On 8 July 1864, it assisted in the destruction of the blockade-runner Matagordo near Galveston.  Then on 21 January 1865, it forced the blockade-runner Granite City ashore at Velasco, Texas.

After the war it returned to the east coast and was decommissioned at Boston 24 August 1865 and sold to Fogg and Co. 8 September.

--Old B-Runner

Sunday, September 4, 2016

155 Years Ago: Naval Action This Date

SEPTEMBER 4TH, 1861:  The CSS Yankee (also known as CSS Jackson) and Confederate batteries at Hickman, Kentucky, fired on the USS Tyler, Commander Stembel, while the gunboats were reconnoitering the Mississippi River south of Cairo, Illinois.

**  The USS Jamestown, Commander Green, captured Confederate schooner Colonel Long, removed her cargo and scuttled her off the coast of Georgia.

--Old B-R'er

155 Years Ago: More on the Hatteras Inlet Victory

SEPTEMBER 4TH, 1861:  Captain Du Pont wrote: "The first fruits of the labors of ... [the Blockade Strategy Board] came out on the North Carolina coast [Hatteras Inlet] ... we will secure the whole of those inland sounds and passages and hold all that coast by a flotilla ... the great morale effect and encouragement to the country are of incalculable service just now."

--Old B-Runner

Friday, September 2, 2016

USS Penguin-- Part 2: NABS, Potomac Flotilla and Louisa

From Wikipedia.

The USS Penguin was 155 feet long, had a 30.8 foot beam and mounted one 12-pdr. gun and four 32-pdrs.

It was purchased 23 May 1861 in New York City and commissioned 25 June 1861, under Acting Volunteer Lt. Thomas A. Budd.  It was decommissioned 24 August 1865.

It was assigned to the North Atlantic blockading Squadron and joined the Potomac Flotilla 19 August 1861.  Evidently, before joining it, the Penguin had chased the Louisa onto the shoals off Wilmington, N.C..

--Old B-R'er

USS Penguin-- Part 1: Sank First Blockade-Runner at Wilmington, N.C.

On August 11, 2016, I wrote about the USS Penguin chasing the blockade runner Louisa onto a shoal near Cape Fear River, North Carolina, on August 11, 1861, where the runner sank.

This was the first mention I'd come across of a blockade-runner being sunk in and around the Wilmington/Cape Fear River area during the war.

On July 14, 1861, the USS Daylight, under Commander Samuel Lockwood, had initiated the blockade at Wilmington.

I had never heard of any ship named the USS Penguin so had to look it up.

--Old B-Runner

USS Santee-- Part 5: Service at USNA

The Santee was refitted at the Boston Navy yard and recommissioned.  It was then sent to Newport, Rhode island, to serve as a school ship for the midshipmen at the United States Naval Academy (USNA).  The USNA had moved there from Annapolis, Maryland for safety during the war.

Midshipmen lived, studied and attended classes on the Santee and USS Constitution.

After the war, the USNA returned to Annapolis and the Santee with its midshipmen anchored near Fort Severn on 2 August 1865.

It continued use as a school ship.  In 1866, it became a gunnery ship for mastering of naval armaments.  After that, it also became a barracks ship for punishment and barracks for incoming fourth classmen.

Before dawn 2 April 1912, the Santee sank at its moorings in Annapolis.  Efforts to refloat it were unsuccessful.

It was sold to Joseph G. Hitner of Philadelphia on 2 August 1912.  It took six months to raise the Santee and 8 May 1913, it departed the Severn River under tow for Boston, Massachusetts where it was burned for the copper and brass in its hull.

--Old B-R'er

USS Santee-- Part 4: Service in the West Gulf

Continued from August 15, 2016.

On 30 December 1861, boats from the USS Santee chased the Confederate schooner Garonne for 5-6 miles and captured it.  The Santee's commander, Captain eagle turned this ship into a lighter.

In January 1862, the Gulf Blockading Squadron was divided into two parts, East and West Gulf blockading squadrons and the Santee was assigned to Farragut's West Gulf Blockading Squadron where it continued to blockade the Texas coast, primarily off Galveston, until summer.

Scurvy hit the Santee's crew and many of their enlistments were expiring the next month so the ship was sent north, arriving in Boston 22 August 1862 where it was decommissioned 4 September.

But the Ship's Service Wasn't Yet Over.  --Old B-Runner

Thursday, September 1, 2016

155 Years Ago: Hatteras Inlet Victory A Big Morale Boost for North

SEPTEMBER 1ST, 1861:  President Lincoln received the news of the Flag Officer Stringham's Hatteras Inlet victory late at night from Secretary of the Navy Welles.  It was the initial joint Army-Navy operation of the wart, the first of many.

Coming shortly after the defeat at Bull Run, it electrified the North and greatly raised morale.

**  USS Dana, Acting Master's Mate Ely, captured blockade running schooner T.J. Evans off Clay Island, Md., with a cargo including blankets, surgical instruments and ordnance supplies.

--Old B-Runner