Fort Fisher

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

Monday, October 31, 2016

What About the Fort Fisher Mermaid?

On this day of the strange and weird, I came across mention of a "Fort Fisher Mermaid."  I'd never heard of a Fort Fisher mermaid, nor have I been able to learn anything about it on the internet.

I do know that it is located in Wilmington, North Carolina, at the Museum of the Bizarre at 201 S. Water Street and it is adjacent to the Cape Fear Serpentarium, so if mermaids aren't your bag, maybe a creepy, crawly thing will do the trick.

I did find one source calling the Fort Fisher Mermaid a Cape Fear local legend.

--Old B-Runner

Friday, October 28, 2016

155 Years Ago, October 30, 1861: Privateer Sallie Captures Another American Ship

OCTOBER 30TH, 1861:  The Confederate privateer Sallie captured American brig B.K. Eaton.

**  Confederate forces sank stone-filled barges to obstruct the Cumberland River near Fort Donelson, Tennessee, against the advance of Union gunboats.

--Old B-Runner

155 Years Ago, October 29, 1861: Union Expedition Sails Against Port Royal, S.C.

OCTOBER 29TH, 1861:  A large Union expedition to attack Port Royal, South Carolina, sailed from Fort Monroe, under the command of Flag Officer Du Pont in the USS Wabash.  Comprising 77 vessels, it was the largest U.S. fleet ever assembled to that date.

Army forces numbering about 16,000 men, commanded by Brigadier general Thomas W. Sherman, accompanied them.

Port Royal Sound, about equi-distant from Savannah and Charleston, was of recognized importance, and one of the first locations fortified by the Confederates against the entrance of Union ships.

--Old B-R'er

155 Years Ago, October 27-18, 1861: Union Strike in Virginia

OCTOBER 27-28TH, 1861:  Boat expedition from the USS Louisiana, led by Lieutenant Alfred Hopkins surprised and burned three Confederate vessels at Chincoteague Inlet Virginia.

--Old B-Runner

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

155 Years Ago, October 26, 1861: CSS Sumter Destroys Another American Ship

OCTOBER 26TH, 1861:  The USS Conestoga, Lt. S.L. phelps, transported Union troops to Eddyville, Kentucky, for an attack on Confederate cavalry at Saratoga.

**  The CSS Sumter, Commander Semmes, captured and burned the American schooner Trowbridge in the Atlantic after removing a five months' supply of provisions.

--Old B-Runner

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

155 Years Ago, October 25, 1861: Work Begins on the USS Monitor

OCTOBER 25TH, 1861:  John Ericsson began construction of the single-turret, two-gun ironclad USS Monitor at Greenpoint, New York.

**  Flag Officer Du Pont wrote Assistant Secretary of Navy Fox of the continuing  importance of amphibious training:  "Landing a brigade today to exercise Ferry boats and Surf boats--  reaping  immense advantages from the experiment by seeing the defects.

**  The USS Rhode Island, Lt. Stephen D. Trenchard, captured schooner Aristides off Charlotte Harbor, Florida.

Practice Makes Perfect, Flag Officer Du Pont.  --Old B-Runner

Monday, October 24, 2016

7th Connecticut Infantry-- Part 2: Became "Boat Infantry"

Continued from Thursday.

October-November 1863, they were reclassified as "Boat Infantry" for the night assault on Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor.  They trained for it at Folly Island, which I am writing about in my Saw the Elephant blog in relation to the cannonballs found there after Hurricane Matthew.

However the project was eventually dropped as it was deemed impractical.

The regiment numbered 1000 men.  During the course of the war it lost 11 officers and 157 enlisted killed or mortally wounded.  Another 4 officers and 192 enlisted died of disease.

--Old B-Runner

Friday, October 21, 2016

155 Years Ago, October 23, 1861: Privateer Savannah's Crew Tried As Pirates

OCTOBER 23RD, 1861:  Officers and men of the Confederate privateer Savannah went on trial in New York charged with "Piracy."

--Old B-R'er

155 Years Ago, October 22, 1861: Potomac River Commanded By Confederate Batteries Below Alexandria

OCTOBER 22ND, 1861:  Captain T.T. Craven, commanding the Potomac Flotilla, reported the Potomac River was commanded by Confederate batteries at all important points below Alexandria.

--Old B-R'er


155 Years Ago, October 21, 1861: It Will Chase the Enemy Out of Our Waters-- Part 3

"I have written you on this subject in order to obtain an opportunity to draft out my invention, with which the means to command in Richmond can be done in a week...."

Although Levitt's scheme was not adopted, it was an interesting indication of early thinking about submarines in the South.

Ultimately the Confederacy built the H.L. Hunley, the first submarine to be used successfully in combat.

--Old B-Runner

155 Years Ago, October 21, 1861: Proposing a Confederate Submarine-- Part 2

"I propose to tow out my gun-boat to sea and when within range of the enemy;s guns it sinks below the water's surface so as to leave no trace on the surface of its approach, a self-acting apparatus keeping it at the depth required.  When within a few rods of the enemy it leaps to the surface and the two vessels come into contact before the enemy can fire a gun.

"Placed in the bow of the gun-boat is a small mortar containing a self-exploding shell.  As it strikes the engines are reversed, the gun-boat sinks below the surface and goes noiselessly on its way toward another ship.

"After a few ships are sunk the enemy can scarcely have the temerity to remain in our waters...."

It's a Submarine's Life For Me.  --Old B-R'er

155 Years Ago, October 21, 1861: Thinking About a Confederate Submarine-- Part 1

OCTOBER 21ST, 1861:  Charles p. Leavitt, 2nd Virginia Infantry, wrote the Confederate Secretary of War:  "I have invented an instrument of war which for a better name I have called a submarine gunboat...  My plan is simple.  A vessel built of boiler iron about fifty tons burden ... but made of an oval form with propeller behind.

"This is for the purpose of having as little draft of water as possible for the purpose of passing over sand-bars without being observed by the enemy.  The engines are of the latest and best style so as to use as little steam as possible in proportion to the power received.

"The boilers are so constructed as to generate steam without a supply of air.  The air for respiration is kept in a fit condition for breathing by the gradual addition of oxygen while the carbonic acid is absorbed by a shower of lime water...."

Things Are Better Underwater.  --Old B-Runner

Thursday, October 20, 2016

7th Connecticut Infantry-- Part 1: At the Second Battle of Fort Fisher

In my Not So Forgotten War of 1812 blog last week, I was writing about General Amos Hall of that war serving in the 7th Connecticut during the American Revolution.  While looking that unit up, I found that there was also a 7th Connecticut Infantry during the Civil War and that this unit had been at the Second Battle of Fort Fisher.

From Wikipedia.

The Civil war unit was organized at New Haven, Connecticut, on September 13, 1861.   They invaded Tybee Island, Georgia, captured Hilton Head, South Carolina and fought at the Battle of Olustee in Florida.

After 1864, they transferred to Virginia where they became a part of the Army of the Potomac and later the Army of the James and finished the war in North Carolina.

They were mustered out of service July 20, 1865, and discharged August 11, 1865, in New Haven, Connecticut.

A Coastal Regiment.  --Old B-Runner

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

155 Years Ago, October 19, 1861: CSS Florida Battles the USS Massachusetts

OCTOBER 19TH, 1861:  The USS Massachusetts, Commander M. Smith, engaged the CSS Florida, Lt. Charles W. Hays, in the Mississippi Sound.  Though the battle was inconclusive, Captain Levin M. Powell of the USS Potomac noted one result that could be bothersome to Union naval forces.

"The caliber and long range of the rifled cannon [of the Florida] ... established the ability of these fast steam gunboats to keep out of range of all broadside guns and enables them to disregard the armaments of magnitude of all ships thus armed, or indeed any number of them, when sheltered by shoal water."

This CSS Florida was renamed the CSS Selma when the famous cruiser CSS Florida came to be.

--Old B-R'er

155 Years Ago, October 18, 1861: A Blockade Runner Captured Off Wilmington

OCTOBER 18TH, 1861:  The USS Gemsbock, Acting Master Cavendy, captured brig Ariel off Wilmington, North Carolina, with a cargo of salt.

--Old B-Runner

Monday, October 17, 2016

Rare Confederate Naval Sword Donated to Goodwill-- Part 1

From the September 14, 2016, Roanoke Times "rare Confederate naval sword, donated to Goodwill, on the auction block" by Matt Chittum.

This sword could bring thousands of dollars for the organization.  Farmer Auctions in Salem expect it to go for between $8,000 to $12,000 at auction on Thursday.

As of Wednesday there was an online bid of $7,000.

The sword was found in a donation of goods and there are only twenty of these naval swords known to be in existence today.  Appraisers are convinced of its authenticity.

--Old B-Runner

155 Years Ago, October 17, 1861: Privateer Sallie Captures Another One

OCTOBER 17TH, 1861:  Confederate privateer Sallie, Master Henry S. Lebby, captured American brig Betsey Ames opposite the Bahama Banks with cargo including machinery.

--Old B-R'er

155 Years Ago, October 17, 1861: Du Pont Gets It Right

OCTOBER 17TH, 1861:  Flag officer Du Pont wrote:  "There is no question that Port Royal is the most important point to strike and the most desirable to have first and hold ...  Port Royal alone admits large ships-- and gives us such a naval position on the sea coast as our Army id holding across the Potomac."

Subsequently, the strategic importance of Port Royal to the Union Navy and the blockade substantiated this judgement.

--Old B-Runner

Friday, October 14, 2016

155 Years Ago, October 16, 1861: The USS South Carolina Captures Another One

OCTOBER 16TH, 1861:  The USS South Carolina, Commander Alden, captured schooner Edward Banard with cargo of turpentine on board at South West Pass, Mississippi River.

--Old B-Runner

155 Years Ago, October 15, 1861: Joint Effort to Destroy a Blockade Runner in South Carolina

OCTOBER 15TH, 1861:  The USS Roanoke, Flag, Monticello and Vandalia captured and burned blockade runner Thomas Watson on the Stono Reef, off Charleston, South Carolina.

--Old B-R'er

155 Years Ago, October 14, 1861: Chincoteague Island Secedes From the Confederacy

OCTOBER 14, 2016:  In the presence of Lt. A Murray of the USS Louisiana, citizens of Chincoteague Island, Virginia, took an oath of allegiance to the United States and presented a petition in which they stated their "abhorrence of the secession heresy."

--Old B-Runner

Thursday, October 13, 2016

155 Years Ago, October 13, 1861: Another Blockade Runner Capture

OCTOBER 13TH, 1861:  The USS Keystone State, Commander Gustavus H. Scott, captured Confederate steamer Salvor near the Totugas Islands with a cargo of coffee, cigars and munitions.

--Old B-Runner

155 Years Ago, October 12, 1861: Getting Coaling and Supply Stations

OCTOBER 12TH, 1861:   Secretary of the Navy Welles wrote Flag Officer Du Pont:  "In examining the various points upon the coast, it has been ascertained that Bull's Bay, St. Helena, Port Royal, and Fernandina, are each and all accessible and desirable points for the purposes indicated [Fleet coaling and supply stations], and the Government has decided top take possession of at least two of them."

Coaling and supply depots seized by the Navy on the Southern coast allowed blockaders to remain on station for longer periods without returning to Northern navy yards.

--Old B-Runner

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

155 Years Ago, October 12, 1861-- Part 2: Confederate Attack on Mississippi River

Acting Master Edward F. Devens of the USS Vincennes observed:  "From the appearance of the Richmond's side in the vicinity of the hole, I should say that the ram had claws or hooks attached to her... for the purpose of tearing out the plank from the ship's side..  It is the most destructive invention...  Manassas resembles in shape, a cigar cut lengthwise, and very low in the water.

"She must be covered with railroad iron as all shells which struck her glanced off, some directly at right angles.  You could hear the shot strike quite plainly.  They did not appear to trouble her much as she ran up the river at a very fast rate."

Go Manassas.  --Old B-R'er

155 Years Ago, October 12, 1861-- Part 1: Confederates Attack At Head iof Passes, Mississippi River

OCTOBER 12TH, 1861:  Confederate metal-sheathed ram Manassas, Commodore Hollins, CSN, in company with the armed steamer Ivy and James L. Day, attacked the USS Richmond, Vincennes, Water Witch, Nightingale and Preble near the Head of Passes on the Mississippi River.

In this offensive and spirited action by the small Confederate force, the Manassas rammed the Richmond and forced her and the Vincennes aground under heavy fire before withdrawing.

--Old B-Runner

Fort Fisher Hosts World War II Program-- Part 2: Wilmington, America's World War II City

During World War II, Wilmington, N.C. was the scene of much activity for the war effort.  Not only was Camp Davis a huge training base a short distance north of the city, but also the North Carolina Shipbuilding Company built several hundred vessels for the war, most of them the famous Liberty Ships.

Fort Fisher served as a training area for anti-aircraft gunners.  Unfortunately, several of the forts's traverses were leveled to maker the airstrip for the planes pulling the targets.  The targets were often pulled by women serving in the WASPs unit.

Wilbur Jones has done much to make Wilmington America's World War II city.

--Old B-Runner

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

World War II at Fort Fisher This Weekend-- Part 1: A Two-War Fort

From the October 9, 2016, Port City Daily (Wilmington, N.C.) "Fort Fisher highlights its World War II role in upcoming program."

I've written a whole lot about Fort Fisher's role in the Civil War in this blog, but it also was involved with World War II.

The Fort Fisher State Historic Site will host the program "Fort Fisher's World War II Experience from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. this Saturday, October 15, 2016.  During World War II it served as an anti-aircraft training base.

Many service men and women trained there.

On Saturday, military and civilian re-enactors will set up displays on the old Fort Fisher airstrip and will portray what life was like on the U.S. home front.

Featured speakers during the day will be Wilbur Jones (Mr. Wilmington World War II), Cliff Tyndall and Krystal Lee who will talk about North Carolina's role in the war, including Fort Fisher, Wilmington and Camp Davis.

Should Be Interesting.  Wish I Could Be There.  --Old B-R'er

155 Years Ago, October 11, 1861: Action on the Potomac River

OCTOBER 11TH, 1861:  Lt. Abram Harrell of the USS Union, with three boat crews, cut out and burned a Confederate schooner in Dumfries Creek on the Potomac River.

--Old B-Runner

Monday, October 10, 2016

155 Years Ago, October 12, 1861:Mason and Slidell Run the Blockade

OCTOBER 12TH, 1861:  The Confederate ship Theodora ran the blockade at Charleston with Mason and Slidell, Commissioners to England and France respectively, on board.

**  Confederate privateer Sallie captured American brig Granada in the Atlantic Ocean

**  USS Dale, Commander Edward M. Yard, captured schooner Specie east of Jacksonville, bound for Havana with a large cargo of rice.

**  Warning was given that Confederates had lined the James River with powerful submarine batteries (mines).

--Old B-R'er


Civil War Cannonballs Uncovered By Hurricane Matthew in S.C.

Yesterday, October 9, several rusted Civil War cannonballs were found on the shore at Folly Island, S.C. in the wake of Hurricane Matthew.

I am covering this story in my Saw the Elephant Civil War Blog both today and tomorrow.

--Old B-R'er

155 Years Ago, October 10, 1861: Action in Virginia and Florida

OCTOBER 10TH, 1861:  The USS Daylight, Commander Lockwood, silenced a Confederate battery attacking the American ship John Clark anchored at Lynnhaven Bay, Virginia.

**  Confederate troops at Tampa Bay captured American sloop William Batty.

--Old B-Runner

Friday, October 7, 2016

155 Years Ago, October 9, 1861: Css Ivy Engages Union Fleet at Head of Passes on Mississippi River

OCTOBER 9TH, 1861:  Confederate steamer Ivy, Lt. Joseph Fry, attacked U.S. blockading vessels at Head of Passes, Mississippi River; no damage caused but long range of the Ivy's guns alarmed Union naval officers.

--Old B'R'er

155 Years Ago, October 7, 1861: Action in Kentucky and Virginia

OCTOBER 7TH, 1861:  The USS Tyler, Commander Walke, and USS Lexington, Commander Stembl, exchanged fire with Confederate batteries at Iron Bluffs, near Columbus, Kentucky.

**  The USS Louisiana, Lt. A. Murray, captured schooner S.T. Garrison with cargo of wood, near Wallops Island, Virginia.

--Old B-Runner

Thursday, October 6, 2016

155 Years Ago, October 6, 1861: Blockade-Runner Captured

OCTOBER 6TH, 1861:  The USS Flag, Commander Louis Sartori, captured Confederate blockade running schooner Alert near Charleston.

--Old B-R'er

155 Years Ago, October 5, 1861: Fighting the Confederates

OCTOBER 5TH, 1861:  Two boats from the USS Louisiana, Lieutenant A. Murray, destroyed a Confederate schooner being fitted out as a privateer at Chincoteague Inlet, Virginia.  The Louisiana was later used as the powder ship blown up at Fort Fisher in 1864.

**  The USS Monticello, Lt. Daniel L. Braine, drove off Confederate troops and steamers attacking Union soldiers in the vicinity of Hatteras Inlet.

--Old B-Runner

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

155 Years Ago, October 4, 1861: USS South Carolina Captures Two More Runners

OCTOBER 4TH, 1861:  The USS South Carolina, Commander Alden, captured Confederate schooners Ezilda and Joseph H. Toone off the South West Pass of the Mississippi River with four to five thousand stand of arms.

More big prize money for the USS South Carolina.  By this point in the war this ship had certainly captured a lot of blockade runners, perhaps the most of any Union ship.  I wonder which Union ship captured the  most runners or the one that got the most prize money.

--Old B-R'er

155 Years Ago, October 3, 1861: Capture of the Reindeer

OCTOBER 3RD, 1861:  Captain Eagle, commanding the USS Santee, reported the return of the USS Sam Houston to Galveston with schooner Reindeer, captured off San Luis Pass, Texas.  The schooner was deemed worthless and was sunk.

--Old B-Runner

155 Years Ago, October 1, 1861: Welles Opposes Issuing Letters of Marque

OCTOBER 1ST, 1861:  Secretary Welles, in a letter to Secretary Seward, opposed issuing letters of marque because it would be "a recognition of the assumption of the insurgents that they are a distinct and independent nationality."

--Old B-R'er

155 Years Ago, October 1, 1861: Capture of the Union Ship Fanny in Pamlico Sound, N.C.

OCTOBER 1ST, 1861:  Confederate naval forces, including the CSS Curlew, Raleigh, and Junaluska, under Flag Officer William F. Lynch, CSN, capture the steamer Fanny (later CSS Fanny) in Pamlico Sound with Union troops on board.

Colonel Clairborne Snead, CSA reported:  "The victory was important in more respects than one.  It was our first naval success in north Carolina and the first capture made by our arms of an armed war-vessel of the enemy, and dispelled the gloom of recent disasters.  The property captured [two rifled guns and a large amount of army stores] was considerable, much needed, and highly esteemed ....."

--Old B-Runner

Monday, October 3, 2016

155 Years Ago, September 30, 1861: Capturing Blockade-Runners

SEPTEMBER 30TH, 1861:  The USS Dart, Acting Master Wheeler, captured schooner Zavalla off Vermillion Bay, Louisiana.

**  USS Niagara, Captain John Pope, captured pilot boat Frolic at South West Pass of the Mississippi River.

**  Cecilia, prize and tender to the USS Huntsville, Commander Price, captured blockade running schooner Ranchero west of Vermillion Bay.

--Old B-Runner

155 Years Ago, September 28, 1861: The USS Susquehanna Captures a Ship

SEPTEMBER 28TH, 1861:  The USS Susquehanna, Captain Chauncey, captured Confederate schooner San Juan, bound for Elizabeth City, N.C., with cargo of salt, sugar and gin.

--Old B-Runner

Sunday, October 2, 2016

155 Years Ago, September 25, 1861: Welles Decides On What to Do With the "Contrabands"

SEPTEMBER 25TH, 1861:  Secretary of Navy Welles instructed Flag Officer Du Pont, commanding the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron:  "The Department finds it necessary to adopt a regulation with respect to the large and increasing number of persons of color, commonly known as 'contrabands,' now subsisted at the navy yards on on board ships-of-war.

"These can neither be expelled from the service, to which they have resorted, nor can they be maintained unemployed, and it is not proper that they should be compelled to render necessary and regular service without compensation.

"You are therefore authorized, when their services can be made useful. to enlist them for the naval service, under the same forms and regulations as apply to other enlistments.

"They will be allowed, however, no higher rating than 'boys,' at a compensation of ten dollars per month and one ration per day."

Dealing With the Black Question.  --Old B-R'er

155 Years Ago, September 25, 1861: Semmes Still At It

SEPTEMBER 25TH, 1861:  The CSS Sumter, Commander Semmes,  captured the American ship Joseph Park off the northeast coast of South America; three days later burned her at sea.

**  The USS Jacob Bell, Lt. Edward M. McCrea, and USS Seminole, Lt. Charles S. Norton, engaged a Confederate battery at Freestone Point, Virginia.

--Old B-Runner