Fort Fisher

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

Monday, September 25, 2017

A Knife Found in USS Monitor's Turret-- Part 1

From the September 10, 2017, Civil War Picket Blog.

Pieces of cutlery have been found as conservators continue to cut away sediments from the roof of the turret, which is turned upside down.

Last month they found a small knife wedged into one of the rails that forms the turret's ceiling.

So far, they have gathered a collection of over twenty pieces of silverware from various locations in the turret.

The turret is upside down, so sits on its roof in the lab.  Part of the conservators' work consists of removing ocean salts in the iron of the turret.  Then they clear away mud and concretion.  They also know of a fork in an area they can't get at right now.

--Old B-Runner

Saturday, September 23, 2017

U.S. Navy Rear Admirals: Navy Grade and Pay Regulations 1862-- Part 2

Level of Navy officers and number allowed

1st  Rear Admiral  (9)
2nd  Commodore  (18)
3rd  Captain   (36)

4th  Commanders   (72)
5th  Lieutenant-Commanders  (144)
6th  Lieutenants  (144)

7th  Masters  (144)
8th  Ensigns  (144)
9th Midshipmen (144)

Vessels in the Navy to be divided into four classes with the best ships as First Rates.  This determined ranks to command these ships.

FIRST RATE--  Commodores
2ND RATE--  Captains
3RD RATE--  Commanders
4TH RATE--  Lt. Comanders

--Old B-R'er

Irma Batters Civil War Sites Along East Coast

From the September 13 and 21 Civil War Picket Blog.

**  Hurricane Irma's flooding swamps Fort Sumter, Fort Pulaski and Fort McAllister.

**  Tropical Storm Irma battered Fort Pulaski which is mopping up and aiming at reopening by next weekend, September 29.  The park closed September 6 when there was a distinct possibility of a direct hit from Irma.  The big problem at the fort was from the flooding, not high winds.

The storm surge at Cockspur Island, where the fort is located, was 12.24 feet.

This is the third natural disaster at Fort Pulaski in less than a year, starting with Hurricane Matthew last September and a tornado in May.

Trying to Reason With Hurricane Season.  --Old B-Runner

Friday, September 22, 2017

Civil War Naval Innovations

Tomorrow, the McHenry County Civil War Round Table discussion group meets at Panera Bread in Crystal lake, Illinois, to talk about Civil War innovations.

Me being a Navy guy, I went with Naval innovations.

1.  Gun turret

2.  ironclads

3.  Monitors

4.  mines, both land and water

5.  submarines

6.  coal torpedoes

7.  Disease warfare--  yellow fever

8.  commerce raiders

9.  Whitworth cannons and rifles

10.  Armstrong guns

11.  Large and small-scale Army-Navy cooperation.

Well, and John Ericsson was an innovation all by himself.

--Old B-Runner

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Medical Cadets in the Civil War-- Part 2: Charles Rivers Ellet

Mounting war casualties overwhelmed Army surgeons and often found themselves taking on even greater responsibility.

On August 3, 1861, Congress approved the creation of the Medical Cadets, to consist of up to 50 medical school men ages 18-23 who had a liberal education and at least two years of medical school.

Charles Rivers Ellet was one of them and he wrote in June 1861, even before becoming a medical cadet, that he routinely followed physicians around while they were making their rounds in the Washington, D.C. Army Hospitals to see how they questioned and prescribed to their patients.

So, that Charles R. Ellet.  --Old B-R'er

Medical Cadets of the Civil War-- Part 1: To Dress Wounds

On September 19th, I wrote about an engagement between the Ram Queen of the West and Confederate batteries and infantry near Bolivar, Mississippi.  The Queen of the West was commanded by Medical Cadet Charles R. Ellet.

I have to admit that I had never heard of any medical cadets, so had to do some further research.  There was nothing in Wikipedia, where I looked first, other than a Pre-WWII group called Medical Cadet Corps which I will write about in my World War II blog.

The Civil War's Medical Cadets:  Medical Students Serving the Union from the Journal of American College of Surgeons.

This unit consisted of young medical students created to dress wounds and to act as ambulance attendants.

I would say they were more involved with the Union Army, but since Charles Rivers Ellet, was in command of the ram Queen of the West at the action at Bolicar, Mississippi, I will include them in the Naval blog.  Plus, the general Civil War blog, Saw the Elephant is so involved with this Second Civil War.

--Old B-Cadet

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

U.S. Navy Rear Admirals: Navy Grade and Pay Regulation Act of 1862-- Part 1

On September 12, I wrote about Du Pont thanking Iowa Senator James Grimes for his work in support of the Navy and the creation of of the new Navy rank of rear admiral (I'm sure in part because he would be in line to be one).

JULY 16, 1862   Congress established the rank of rear admiral with David D. Farragut named to be America's first rear admiral.

The act was called:


An Act to establish and equalize the Grade of Line Officers of the United States Navy.

Approved by President Abraham Lincoln July 16, 1862.  This act established the U.S. navy ranks of rear admiral, commodore, lieutenant-commander and ensign.

--Old B-R'er

About the USS Nebraska-- Part 3: The USS Colossus, a Throwback

The ships of the Kalamazoo-class were still being built when the Civil War ended, so their service was not needed.  Construction on all was suspended on 17 November 1865 and they remained in the stocks for the rest of their career.

The Kalamazoo was renamed Colossus 15 June 1869 and Vice Admiral David D. Porter ordered it to be rebuilt to carry ten large broadside guns and fitted with iron masts with ship rig, but this never came to pass.  Kind of a step backward as it was.

The unseasoned wood used in the hull construction soon began to rot after 1874.  The Passaconaway was condemned by Act of Congress 5 August 1882 before finally being broken up in 1884.


USS Nebraska  BB-14  1904-1923
USS Nebraska SSBN-739  1992-today

--Old B-Runner

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

September 19, 1862: Engagement at Bolivar, Mississippi

SEPTEMBER 19, 1862:  The Ram Queen of the West, Medical Cadet Charles R. Ellet, escorting two troop transports, had a sharp engagement with Confederate infantry and artillery above Bolivar, Mississippi.

Medical Cadet is sort of a strange rank for someone commanding a ship.  I'll have to look into this.

--Old B-Runner

Monday, September 18, 2017

About the USS Nebraska-- Part 2: The Four Kalamazoo-Class Monitors

There were fours hips in the class.  Names, Where built, when laid down, renamed and scrapped.  All were suspended November 17, 1865.

KALAMAZOO--   Brooklyn Navy Yard--  1863--  Renamed Colossus 1869--  1884

PASSACONAWAY--  Portsmouth Navy Yard (Kittery, Me.)-- 18 Nov. 1863--  Thunderer and Massachusetts in 1869--  1884

QUINSIGAMUND--  Boston Navy Yard--  15 April 1864--  Hercules and Oregon in 1869--  1884

SHACKAMAXON--  Philadelphia Navy Yard--  Late 1863--  Hecia and Nebraska 1869--  January 1874

--Old B-R'er

About the Transport Nebraska at Eunice, Arkansas-- Part 1: USS Nebraska (Monitor)

I found this ship, the Nebraska listed as a Union gunboat in Wikipedia and a transport in the Civil War Chronology.  I tried to look it up, but couldn't find anything under army transport Nebraska.  I looked up USS Nebraska as well.  I had never heard of a USS Nebraska before.

There was a USS Nebraska, though.  It was the never-commissioned Kalamazoo-class monitor Shakamaxon given that name in 1869.  The Kalamazoo-class  were ocean-going monitors and consisted of four ships.

Construction on the ships began in 1863 through April 1964.

They were 345 feet long, 56.8 foot beam and were the largest of all monitors with two turrets mounting muzzle-loading 15-inch Dahlgren guns.

--Old B-Runner

Friday, September 15, 2017

Senator James W. Grimes of Iowa: Friend of the Navy

On September 12, 2017, I wrote about Iowa Senator James W, Grimes who was thanked by Naval officer Du Pont for his work furthering the Union Navy.

From Wikipedia

James Wilson Grimes  October 20, 1816 to February 7, 1872  Third governor of Iowa and U.S. senator from Iowa.  Born in New Hampshire.  Governor of Iowa 1854-1858.  Elected U.S. senator 1859 as a Republican.  Reelected in 1865.

In 1861, he was a member of the Peace Commission in Washington, D.C. in an attempt to avoid the coming war.

In December 1861 he introduced the bill o create the Medal of Honor (initially only for the Navy and Marines).

He served on the Committee on Naval Affairs and the Joint Commission on Reconstruction and drafted the 14th Amendment.

--Old B-Runner

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Col. William Raynor-- Part 2: Commanded the 56th Ohio at Eunice

He was later wounded at the Red River Landing below Vicksburg where he was decorated for bravery.

At red River, he gave his men the order to disembark from their boats, but the men on the lower decks did not get the message.  Raynor did not realize that he didn't have his whole regiment until he got to the top of the hill.

He ordered his aide to go back and get the rest of them, but the aide was to afraid, so Raynor went himself and was shot in the leg.

After the war he became a brigadier general in the Grand Army of the Republic and very active in it.

He is buried at Woodlawn Cemetery in Toledo, Ohio.

--Old B-Runner

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Colonel William H. Raynor, Commanded Union Troops At Eunice, Arkansas-- Part 1

From the Historic Woodlawn Cemetery site.

Colonel William H. Raynor

At the outbreak of the Civil War, he joined the 1st Ohio Infantry Regiment and was captured at the 1st Battle of Bull Run and sent to Libby Prison in Richmond.  He escaped after 17 days and reached the safety of Union lines.

The story goes that while on his way, a Confederate spotted him and was going to shoot when he saw Raynor's Masonic pin and allowed him to pass by.

When he reached home, he organized the 56th Ohio and was elected its colonel.

--Old B-Runner

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

September 12, 1862: Senator Grimes of Iowa Pushes the Navy

SEPTEMBER 12TH, 1862:  Rear Admiral Du Pont wrote Senator Grimes of Iowa expressing his "warm appreciation of your tremendous labors in behalf of the Navy during the last session.  I believe this to be emphatically the opinion of the whole service."

Grimes had strongly backed the bill creating the rank of Rear Admiral in the Navy.

In reply, the Senator stated:  "I am in no wise deserving of the kind compliments you lavish upon me .... you know that up to my time [in Congress] it was supposed that all information  in relation to your branch of the public service was confined to a select 'guild' about the Atlantic cities, no one from the interior having presumed to know anything about it.

"If i have been of any real service it has been in breaking down and eradicating that idea. , in  assisting to nationalize the Navy -- in making frontiersmen as well as the longshoreman feel that he was interested in it and partook of its glory."

--Old B-Runner

The End of Eunice, Arkansas, Part 2: "Not a Single Vestige Remains"

Continued from September 2, 2017.

On June 14, 1863, Confederates at Eunice, Arkansas, fired artillery on the USS Marmora.  A fight ensued and the Marmora anchored off Eunice.  The next morning, the USS Nebraska was fired on as it approached Eunice.

Both ships bombarded the town and then sent a party ashore.  They set fire to stores, houses and the railroad depot, and completely destroyed the town,  The Marmora's captain remarked in his report. "not a single vestige of the town of Eunice remains."

I could not find anything about a USS Nebraska.

Of interest, no Confederates were found in the town.

Today, Yellow Bend Port, a modern industrial port is located where the town of Eunice once stood.  Nothing else of Eunice remains.

--Old B-R'er

New Theory For Death of Hunley's Crew-- Part 4: "Blast Lung"

The explosion of the torpedo at the end of the Hunley's spar set off a pressure wave inside the submarine that would have caused lethal blast trauma.  There would have also been immediate fatal lung trauma from the blast, known as "Blast Lung."  This would explain the lack of apparent injuries to the the skeletons of the the crew.

So, death would have been instantaneous and then the Hunley and its lifeless crew would have drifted with the current.

It would be interesting if they knew the currents in Charleston Harbor which might have caused the Hunley to end up in its final resting place after the crew was dead.  If they could prove this, this new theory would probably be the one that explains what happened.

However, Navy researchers have their doubts about her theory.

Rachel Lance says that two measurements are absolutely important:  the thickness of the Hunley's hull and the distance it was from the charge when it went off.

Always Interesting.  --Old B-Runner

Monday, September 11, 2017

Where Were You 9-11?

As for Liz and myself, I was already at John T. Magee Middle School in Round Lake, Illinois, teaching my seventh graders social studies.  Another teacher came down the hall between 1st and 2nd period and told me that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center in New York City.

After the second plane hit, she told me that information and I realized this was not just an accidental thing.  I couldn't get the TV to work so turned on my radio and we spent the rest of the day listening and talking about what was happening.  This was also the subject of the next week in class.

Liz was on a later start at Ellis Elementary School in Round Lake Beach and first heard about it at home.  When she got to school, it was decided that all the teachers would not talk about it at all.  She taught third grade.

All seven of my blogs today will be devoted to 9-11.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

New Theory About the Hunley's Demise-- Part 3: Killed By Their Own Weapon

Rachel Lance lacked access to the actual submarine (which I think is too bad as she also is searching for answers) so she used a scale model of the Hunley.   She first used compressed gas at first to simulate an explosion.  Then she used scaled down black powder.

She placed her scale model in a pond and measured the pressure inside and outside of it when the explosion took place.

Water transmits blasts well.  Sadly, the Hunley had a very thin hull, unlike today's submarines.

This proved fatal to the Hunley's crew according to her research.

--Old B-R'er

New Theory As to Deaths of Hunley's Crew-- Part 2: Underwater Explosions

Continued from September 4, 2017.

Rachel Lance wrote a paper on her research as part of her dissertation for her Ph.D last year.

Researchers of the Hunley's demise have been puzzled because none of the skeletons of the crew  had broken bones, the submarine was mostly intact and from the positions of the bones, there had been no attempt to escape.  All were still at their stations.  In the past it was believed they either drowned or suffocated.

Lance and her research team conducted a series of experiments.

She is a big history buff and was in the U.S. Navy and had been studying the effects of underwater explosions on unprotected swimmers and became intrigued by this application to the Hunley.

--Old B-Runner

Friday, September 8, 2017

Some More On the Army Gunboat Picket-- Part 2: Artifacts Recovered

The shipwreck has shifted over the years due to hurricanes and now points northward.  Many divers have brought up many artifacts.  Many artifacts were damaged or destroyed many years ago when the Tar River by Washington, N.C., was dredged.  Most of those items were plates and other breakable items.

Artifacts like muskets, bayonets, ship's compass, a brass megaphone type horn, cleats, bullets, etc. have been recovered.

When the ship exploded, the heat must have been extremely intense as the compass is partially melted in a couple of places.

The Picket was also at the Battle of Tranter's Creek in North Carolina on June 5, 1862.  Its captain Sylvester D. Nicholl also commanded there.

--Old B-Runner

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Some More On the U.S. Army Gunboat Picket-- Part 1: Wreck Can Be Seen At Really Low Tide

From the Roots Web Civil War.

Cornell University has the Making of America Project which has several pages on the gunboat Picket.

A person wrote to the person making the inquiry on this site with more information.

The Picket is in the Tar River on the western side of the Highway 17 Bridge crossing from Chocowinity, N.C., to Washington, N.C..  The bridge is the separation point between the Pamlico and Tar rivers.  On days when the tide is way out, you can see a portion of the wreck.

It is well-marked to keep boats from hitting it.

--Old B-R'er

U.S. Army Gunboat Picket: Blew Up Off Washington, N.C.

In yesterday's post, I wrote about the Battle of Washington, N.C., where Union forces came under a surprise attack by Confederates on September 6, 1862.  I have written about the ship before.  Just hit the label for Picket (t) US Army gunboat.

From the Encyclopedia North Carolina.


The ship fought in the sounds and rivers of North Carolina until it sank in the Tar River off the town of Washington on September 6, 1862.  It was originally a civilian ship purchased by the Union to assist in General Burnside's Expedition against Roanoke Island.

There was a larger side-wheel steamer named Picket which often gets confused for this one.

It was oine of seven vessels described as a motley fleet in the expedition.  Burnside's officers and men even had some concerns as to these ships' seaworthiness.  To show his confidence in then, Gen. Burnside used the Picket, which was the smallest ship, as his flagship.

The Picket proved a great choice because of its shallow draft and did a fine job covering troop landings at Roanoke, New Bern and Fort Macon.On 6 September 1862, the Picket and gunboat USS Louisiana were in the Tar River off Washington, N.C., when Confederates launched a surprise attack on the town.  Both ships went into action.

The Picket got off one shot before it exploded and sank in the river, killing its captain, Sylvester D. Nicholl, along with 18 crewmen and 6 wounded.

--Old B-Runner

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

September 6, 1862: Confederate Surprise Attack On Washington, N.C.

SEPTEMBER 6TH, 1862:  The USS Louisiana, Acting Lt. Richard Y. Renshaw, joined with Union troops in repelling a Confederate attack on Washington, North Carolina.

Lajor General John G. Foster reported that the Louisiana "rendered most efficient aid, throwing her shells with great precision, and clearing the streets, through which her guns had range."

U.S. Army gunboat Picket was destroyed by an accidental magazine explosion during the engagement.

The USS Louisiana later was the powder vessel that blew up off Fort Fisher before the first attack on the fort in 1864.

More Army-Navy Cooperation.  --Old B-Runner

Monday, September 4, 2017

New Theory on How H.L. Hunley Submariners Died-- Part 1

From the August 30, 2017, Duke University Chronicle "Duke alumnus discovers mysterious cause of death of Confederate soldiers aboard submarine" by Claire Xiau.

Pleasant news out of Duke after that desecration of the Civil War statue last month.

Eight Confederate soldiers on the Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley, the first submarine to sink an enemy ship in combat, were killed by their own weapon.

In February 1864, the Hunley sank the USS Housatonic in less than five minutes using 135 pounds of black powder.  The submarine never returned to its Charleston, S.C., base and was lost for a long time before being found in 1995.

Since then, researchers have been looking for the reason why they died.

Rachel Lance, a former Ph.D student in Duke's Department of Biomedical Engineering performed experiments using explosives on a scale model of the Hunley (using scaled down explosives) and found that the shockwave from the explosion killed the crew.

So Far, To Me, This Is the Best Explanation  --Old B-Runner

Saturday, September 2, 2017

The End of Eunice, Arkansas-- Part 1: A Railroad Town

From Wikipedia.

Eunice was also called Eunice Landing and Railroad Township.  It is a ghost town on the Mississippi River in Chicot County, Arkansas.

It was completely destroyed by the Union Army in the Civil War (well, the Navy, actually).

It was the eastern terminus of the Mississippi, Ouachita and Red River Railroad (MO&RR)  Construction on it began in 1852 and by the start of the war, they had seven miles of track completed west of Eunice.

The railroad was completed after the Civil War, but abandoned in 1875 after Mississippi River flooding.  Today Arkansas Highway 208 between Eunice and Halley is built on top of the abandoned railroad.

--Old B-Runner

Friday, September 1, 2017

Since We're On the Subject, the End of Eunice, Arkansas, in 1863

From the Civil War Naval Chronology.

JUNE 13-15, 1863.

Confederate guerrillas fired on the USS Marmora, Acting Lt. Robert Getty, near Eunice, Arkansas, and on the morning of the 14th, fired upon the transport Nebraska.

In retaliation, Getty sent a landing party ashore and destroyed the town, "including the railroad depot, with locomotive and car inside, also the large warehouse ...."

The next day, 15 June, landing parties from the Marmora and USS Prairie Bird, Acting Lt. Edward E. Brennand, destroyed the town of Gaines Landing in retaliation for a guerrilla attempt to burn the Union coal barge there and for firing on the Marmora.

Moral of This Story, Don't Shoot At the Union Ships, or Else.  --Old B-Runner

The Eunice (Arkansas) Expedition-- Part 4: Captured the Wharf Boat

At around noon on August 30, the small fleet reached Eunice, Arkansas.  The wharf boat was captured and prepared for towing to Helena.

(A wharf boat is a boat moored and used for a wharf at a bank of a river or in a like situation where the height of the water is so variable that a fixed wharf in impracticable.  One source here said that the one at Eunice was being used as a hotel.)

A man named Mason, who was suspected of being a guerrilla was arrested as was the river watchman, John McDonald.

Military supplies left by Confederates were gathered and the Union force returned to Helena, arriving September 3.

The Little-Big Engagement at Eurnice.  --Old B-R'er

The Eunice Expedition, Aug. 28-Sep. 3, 1863-- Part 3:

On August 29, 1862, the USS Pittsburg shelled the shoreline ans 175 soldiers disembarked and marched about 2 miles inland.  The Confederates had already evacuated most of the supplies and after a volley from the Union troops, fled  the area.

Another Union force of 50 soldiers under Captain Manning of Co. A, engaged a Confederate guerrilla force, killing one, wounding one and capturing another.

The Union troops reboarded their transports and disembarked again at Montgomery Point on the Arkansas side of the Mississippi River where they were expecting to find two Confederate cannons, but none were found.

Army-Navy Cooperation.  --Old B-Runner

Thursday, August 31, 2017

The Eunice (Arkansas) Expedition-- Part 2: To "Annoy" the Enemy

In August 1862, General Samuel Curtis, commander of the Army of the Southwest, dispatched a Navy-Army force from Helena to Eunice with the purpose of capturing a wharf boat, gather information on Confederates in the Eunice area and to "annoy" the enemy.

On August 28, 1862, 200 men of the 56th Ohio and two pieces of artillery from the 1st Iowa Battery boarded the steamers White Cloud and Iatan.  They were commanded by Colonel William H. Raynor.  The ironclad USS Pittsburg (correct spelling of this ship, so no "h") escorted the two steamships.  The destination was Eunice.

At Carson's Landing they received information from a contraband that there were 200-300 Confederates encamped nearby.  Because of night, no action was taken and the ships anchored.

--Old B-Runner

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Eunice Expedition, August 28-September 3-- Part 1: 56th Ohio and 1st Iowa Battery

From the Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture.

It was led by Lt. Col. William H. Raynor and Col. Starke and consisted of the 56th Regiment, Ohio Volunteers and the 1st Iowa Battery of Colonel Starke's brigade.

They fought an unidentified Confederate guerrilla band.

Casualties:  U.S.--  none
Confederate--  1 killed, 1 wounded, 1 captured.

Two steamboats, the White Cloud and Iatan, carried the troops and were escorted by the USS Pittsburg.

It was a Union victory.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

August 29, 1862: Expedition to Eunice, Arkansas

AUGUST 29TH, 1862:  The USS Pittsburg, Lt. Thompson, escorted steamers  White Cloud and Iatan with Army troops on board to Eunice, Arkansas.  The gunboat shelled and dispersed Confederate forces from a camp above Carson's Landing on the Mississippi shore.

Landing the troops under cover of the Pittsburg's guns for reconnaissance missions en route, Lt. Thompson at Eunice seized a large wharf boat, fitted out as a floating hotel.

This type of persistent patrolling of the Mississippi River and its tributaries by the Union Navy in support if Army operations was instrumental in preventing the Confederates from establishing firm positions.

--Old B-Runner

Monday, August 28, 2017

Ann Bradford Stokes-- Part 6: Where Is She Buried? She Needs At least a Marker

Belknap, Illinois and Johnson County, Illinois.

From Wikipedia.

Located in the southern tip of Illinois in an area known as "Little Egypt."

The county was named for Richard M. Johnson, who commanded a regiment during the War of 1812 at the battle of the Thames.  After this  battle he claimed to have killed the great Indian Chief Tecumseh in hand-to-hand combat.  He also was a U.S. senator and Vice President under Martin Van Buren.  I will write  about him in my War of 1812 Not So Forgotten Blog.

I went to Find-a-Grave and went through the cemeteries in Belknap where Ann Stokes might have been buried.  She was not listed in Beleau, Belknap Masonic, Berreau, Flynn (Wildcat), Goodman or Miller cemeteries which are in Belknap.

I would sure like to find out where she was buried as her grave should definitely be marked.  Perhaps a marker should be put up somewhere as well.

Again, Quite a Woman.  --Old B-Runner

Friday, August 25, 2017

Ann Bradford Stokes-- Part 5: A Remarkable Black Woman

The pension office asked the Navy to review her case and the Navy certified that Ann Stokes had actually served 18 months as a "boy" in their service on the Red Rover and that she had a pensionable disability.  In 1890, she was granted a pension of $12 a month, which was the amount usually awarded those who had served as nurses at the time.

She continued to live in Belknap, Illinois, with her husband, one child, two step children until her death in 1903.

Ann Stokes is a remarkable woman for several reasons.  She is one of the first women to ever be enlisted in the Navy at the time and is the only known one to have applied for a pension.  She received that pension based on her own service, not her husbands'.

Quite a Woman.  --Old B-Runner

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Ann Bradford Stokes-- Part 4: Two Marriages and Pension Applications

Shortly after leaving the Navy in 1864, Ann Stokes married Gilbert Stokes, a black man employed on the Red Rover.  They moved to Illinois where he died in 1866.  She remarried George Bowman in 1867 and lived on a farm in Illinois.

In the 1880s, she applied unsuccessfully for a pension based on her marriage to Stokes and Bowman.  The pension process was even more difficult because she could not read or write.

As her health grew worse, she reapplied again for a pension in 1890, stating that she had "piles and heart disease."    She had by then learned to read and write and put down her own arguments, emphasizing that she was basing her claim on her own military service, not a former husband.

--Old B-Runner

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Ann Bradford Stokes-- Part 3: Born a Slave, Served As Nurse in U.S. Navy


Ann Bradford was born a slave in Rutherford County, Tennessee, in 1830.  Few other details are known of her young life.  She was taken aboard a Union ship in January 1863 as "contraband" (an escaped slave).  She volunteered to serve as a nurse that month.

The United States Navy enlisted several young black women into their service and gave the rank of "first class boy" and paid them accordingly.  She stayed on active duty on the USS Red Rover until October 1864 when she became totally exhausted and resigned her position.

--Old B-R'er

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Ann Stokes, Black Navy Nurse on USS Red Rover-- Part 2: The First

Ann Stokes was taken aboard a Union Naval vessel as "contraband" in 1863.  She could not read or write as was common with slaves at the time.  She worked under the direction of the Holy Cross nuns on the hospital ship USS Red Rover, the first-ever U.S. Navy dedicated hospital ship.

She was also the first black woman to serve on a U.S. Navy vessel and among the first women to serve as nurses in the Navy.

The Red Rover was a converted Confederate paddle-wheel steamer and became the first U.S. Navy hospital ship.  During the war nearly 3,000 men were treated aboard the ship.

--Old B-Runner

Monday, August 21, 2017

August 21, 1862: Blockade Runner Captured Off Shallotte Inlet, NC

AUGUST 21ST, 1862:  The USS Bienville, Commander Mullany, captured British blockade runner Eliza, bound from Nassau to Shallotte Inlet, North Carolina.

I can't help but chuckle at the story some friends of my mom who lived in the town if Shallotte, NC,  told her about the time they ordered some furniture from a place in Raleigh, NC, and the truck didn't show y\up.  They waited and waited and finally found out that the truck had gone to Charlotte, NC.

Oh, Well.  --Old B-Runner

Friday, August 18, 2017

Ann Stokes, Black Navy Nurse On the Hospital Ship Red Rover-- Part 1

Back on August 8 of this year, I wrote about Ann Stokes, believed to be the first black woman to serve on a U.S. Navy ship.  She was a former slave who became a volunteer nurse on the U.S. Navy's hospital ship, the USS Red Rover, stationed at Mound City, Illinois.

From Binding Wounds Pushing Boundaries:  African Americans in Civil War Medicine, Nursing the Wounded.

They wrote about two black women:  Susie King Taylor and Ann Stokes, both former slaves who gained their freedom.  I will write about Susie King Taylor in my Saw the Elephant blog.

Both served as care givers Taylor treated the wounded on battlefields but received no pay or compensation.

Stokes served several years on a hospital ship and was paid regular wages.  She became the only black woman to draw a Navy pension based on her service during the war.

More to Come.  --Old B-R'er

Some More Maxwell Woodhull Family

From Find-A Grave.

Margaret Woodhull Cheseborough was the only daughter and eldest child of Richard Miller Woodhull.  She was the sister of Maxwell Woodhull (1774-1815)

She had a son named Maxwell Woodhull Chesebororough born Feb. 20, 1842, died July 6, 1863 and buried at Trinity Churchyard in Manhattan, New York along with his mother.  With that date of death and his age, I have to wonder if he was at the Battle of Gettysburg, but I haven'y been able to find out anything about him.

Another of her sons was given as William Henry Cheseborough born in 1838 and listed as a colonel.  Perhaps in the Union Army?  But again, I couldn't find anything else about him.

Maxwell Woodhull's son, Maxwell Van Zandt Woodhull, was born September 17, 1843 and died July 25, 1921.  He is buried at Oak Hill Cemetery in Washington, D.C..  Plot:  Rock Creek Lot 580.

--Old B-Runner

Thursday, August 17, 2017

George Washington University-- Part 2: Barracks and Hospital During the War

During the Civil War most of the students left the school to join the Confederacy.  The buildings were used as barracks and a hospital.  Walt Whitman was among the many volunteers to serve here.

In 1873, Columbia College became Columbia University and moved to the urban downtown location centered on 15th Street and H Street, Northwest

In 1904, the school moved to Foggy Bottom and in 1912 to its present location thanks to the efforts of Maxwell Van Zandt Woodhull.


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

George Washington University-- Part 1: Because George Washington Wanted a Centrally-Located University

From Wikipedia.

Since the Woodhull family is so connected with George Washington University, I will write about it here even though it does have a Civil War role.  Also, I am kind of involved in the Second Civil War right now on my Saw the Elephant Civil War blog.

Founded 1821 as Columbian College.  President George Washington advocated for a centrally located university in his new nation and that became Columbian College.  The name was changed to George Washington University in 1904 to honor the first president.

As of 2016, the school had 27,000 students.

It was considered so important that at the first commencement at the school in 1824, among the attendees were President Monroe, John C. Calhoun, Henry Clay and the Marquis de Lafayette.

--Old B-R'er

The Maxwell Woodhull House in Washington, D.C.: A Big Role in History of George Washington University

From Wikipedia.

It was constructed in 1855 for Maxwell Woodhull, U.S.N. at 2033 G. Street, Northwest Washington, D.C..

Along with Maxwell Woodhull, William Henry Seward lived there in 1855 and 1858 during his second term as a New York Senator.

It 1921, it was donated to George Washington University by Maxwell Woodhull's son, Maxwell Van Zandt Woodhull who served as a trustee of the institution and had an important role in the development of the university.

He was elected trustee in 1911 and influenced the University Board to move to 2023 G. Street.

Old B-Runner

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Permits for Pictures Required at Fort Fisher for Commercial Photographers

From the August 11, 2017, WECT (Wilmington, N.C.)  "Permits for pictures are required for some at Fort Fisher" by Alex Guarino.

Fort Fisher is a popular site for wedding photos.  Very popular.

But, professional photographers need permits to shoot there.  Non-professional picture-takers do not have to have these permits, though.

This requirement has been in effect since 1976 in North Carolina State Parks, which includes historic sites.  However, this is not posted anywhere.

Wedding photographer Marcus Anthony:  "I love Fort Fisher.  It's got the beach on one side.  It's got rocks.  It's got the sound on one side with the forest and trees.  It's got the state historic site.  It's got so much variety in such a small space, but I don't think I'll be getting a permit."

The rules say a permit is needed "for anyone taking photos for commercial use."  The permit costs $25 for a day or $100 for a year.

Stuff I Didn't Know.  --Old B-Tographer

Monday, August 14, 2017

New Fort Fisher Visitors Center Plans-- Part 2: Thanks to Ted Davis (R-New Hanover)

Susi Hamilton, Secretary of the N.C. Department of Natural Cultural Resources announced Friday at the event held at the old Fort Fisher Visitors Center that the firm of Clark Nexsen has been selected to design the 20,000 square foot new visitors center which will also have a 150-seat grand hall, a similar auditorium to the present one, indoor classroom,expanded gift shop and many other features.

She thanked state representative Ted Davis (R-New Hanover County) for securing the $5 million in funding after it was initially zeroed out of the N.C, state senate's budget.  However, support from private donors is still needed.

Clark Nexsen's Raleigh office says advance planning is finished and by late 2017, will be in the hands of the state construction office by early 2018.  If they approve the detailed design the blueprint process will begin.

Tank You, Mr. Davis.  --Old B-Runner

New Fort Fisher Visitors Center Plans-- Part 1: Overwhelmed for 150th Anniversary

From the August 4, 2017, Wilmington (NC) Star- news  "New Fort Fisher Visitors Center takes first step" by Adam Wagner.

Plans for the new 20,000 square foot center are underway.

Back in 2015, on the 150th anniversary of the fall of Fort Fisher commemoration, over 48 hours, some 23,000 people visited the current center, nearly as many as the it was supposed to host in a year's time.

Keith Hardison, N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources' director of N.C. Historic Sites said about the crowd:  "Talk about overwhelmed.  We felt a bit like the defenders of Fort Fisher, with the Union forces coming over, around and through," the fort.

--Old B-R'er

August 14, 1862: Engagement on Black River, S.C.

155 Years Ago

AUGUST 14TH, 1862:  The USS Pocahontas, Lt. George  B. Balch, and steam tug Treaty, Acting Lt. Baxter, on an expedition up the Black River from Georgetown, S.C., exchanged fire with Confederate troops at close range along both banks of the river for a distance of 20 miles in an unsuccessful attempt to capture steamer Nina.

--Old B-Runner

Friday, August 11, 2017

Some More On Maxwell Woodhull

**  His remains were first interred in the public vault at the Congressional Cemetery in Washington, D.C., on February 21, 1863.  His remains were later removed to Trinity Church in Manhattan, New York City.  This is where his father, Richard Woodhull, and mother are buried.

**  The Arlington National Cemetery site has this to say about the Woodhull Memorial Flagstaff:

It is 90 feet tall and on the south lawn of the Memorial Amphitheater, one of only two flagpoles at Arlington National Cemetery.  It was erected in 1924 and dedicated to Cmdr. Maxwell Woodhull, USN, 1813-1863.

**  The Civil War Navy Sesquicentennial site has a lot about Woodhull's reports of operations on the St. John's River in Florida.

--Old B-Runner

Death of Cmdr. Maxwell Woodhull-- Part 4: Cousin of Gen. Schenck

"His body was blown over the rampart to the distance of thirty feet.

"The unfortunate officer was about fifty years of age.  He has a son on Gen. SCHENCK's Staff.

"In consequence of this sad accident, the dinner, which was to have taken place at the Eutaw House, was postponed, out of respect to the deceased and Gen. SCHENCK, who was his cousin."

"New York Times  February 20, 1863.

Death of Cmdr. Maxwell Woodhull-- Part 3: Received the Whole Charge"

From the  Feb. 20, 1863, New York Times.

This afternoon, while General BUTLER, in company with the Committee of Reception and Gen. SCHENCK and Staff, were visiting forts around the city (Baltimore), a most melancholy accident took place, which cast quite a gloom over the party.

"They had visited Forts McHenry and Federal Hill, and had gone to Fort Marshall, at the eastern extremity of the city.  Here a salute was fired.  Just as the General and his party had passed along the ramparts, out of range of the gun, the gunner, supposing that the whole party had passed, fired a thirty-two pounder.

"But, most unfortunately, just as the gun was discharged, some of the party, who had loitered behind, came up, and one of them, Commander Maxwell Woodhull, U.S.N., received the whole charge, which blew the flesh from his lower limbs whole and caused his death in a few moments."

An Unfortunate Accident.  --Old B-Runner

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Dates for Commander Maxwell Woodhull, USN-- Part 2: When Was He Born?

Of course, Woodhull is a great name for a a sailor before the coming of iron and steel.

But, there is some confusion as to dates in his life other than his death.

Fond-A-Grave had his birth as unknown.  One source had him born in 1832 and his son Maxwell Van Zandt Woodhull in 1834.  Not likely.  I saw a picture of him and he was fairly old when it was taken (probably about the time  of the Civil War).

Fold 3 had him born April 2, 1813.  The marker on the Arlington National Cemetery flagpole says he was 1832-1863.  An account of his death that I read put his age at fifty.

I'd have to say he was born in 1813 and entered naval service in 1832.  Death was February 19, 1863.

Setting the Record Straight.  --Old B-R'er

Commander Maxwell Woodhull-- Part 1: Commander of USS Cimarron

Back on August 1st, I wrote about an engagement July 31-August 1, 1862, on the James River in Virginia between Confederate batteries and the USS Cimarron, commanded by Maxwell Woodhull.

On August 7, I wrote about the USS Cimarron.  I now have come across some interesting information on Commander Woodhull.

From Find-A-Grave.

Birth: Unknown  Death February 19, 1863.  (So, within seven months of the engagement, Maxwell Woodhull was dead.)  The Find-A-Grave site continues:  "Died the victim of an accidental gun discharge.

"There is a memorial flag staff honoring him at Arlington National Cemetery.  It reads:  "In Memory of Maxwell Woodhull, Commander USN 1832-1863 and His Son Maxwell Vanzandt Woodhull  Brevet Brig. Gen. USA 1834-1921."

Fold 3 has his birth as April 2, 1813, in New York City and death February 21, 1863 and that he is buried in the Congressional Cemetery in Washington, D.C..

--Old B-Runner

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Black Woman Stationed On a U.S. Navy Vessel

From the the July 27, 2017, Southern Illinoisan "Museum meeting features historic interpreter, who will portray African-American woman stationed on U.S. Navy vessel."

The Southern Illinois Association of Museums (SIAM) will meet August 5, 2017, at the Jefferson County Historical Village and Museum.

Marlene Rivero will portray Ann Stokes, believed to have been the first black woman to serve aboard a U.S. Navy ship.

Ann Stokes was a slave who became a volunteer nurse on the first Union Naval hospital ship, the USS Red Rover, stationed off Mound City, Illinois.

SIAM is a consortium of museums in the lower 28 Illinois counties.  The Jefferson County Historical Village and Museum is in Mt. Vernon, Illinois.

I definitely will do more research on this woman.

An Interesting Story. --Old B-R'er

August 8, 1862: Credit to Bulloch in England

AUGUST 8TH, 1862:  Confederate Secretary of Navy Mallory wrote Commander Bulloch in London:  "I am pleased to learn that the credit of my department stands well in England, and sensible of the great importance of maintaining it, I am endeavoring to place funds to your credit, which the scarcity and very high rate of exchange render difficult.

"We have just paid 200 and 210 per cent for $80, 072.2.9, which amount is now in the hands of John Fraser & Co. of Charleston, with orders to place the same to your credit in England."

The tightening blockade constantly constricted the Southern economy.

200 and 210 per cent?  Did anyone ever hear of usury laws?  How do I get in on this deal!  Wait, too late.

Of course, Bulloch was to use the money to buy commerce raiders.

--Old B-Runner

Monday, August 7, 2017

Writing About Fort Fisher in My RoadDog's RoadLog Blog

I have been writing about Fort Fisher in my RoadDog's RoadLog blog the last couple months.

Go to My Bloglist to the right of this entry to get to that blog.

You can find the accounts under N.C. Jan. 2017 headlines or just hit that label and see them all.

Fort Fisher is my most favorite Civil War site, or any historical site for that matter and a big reason why I became a teacher so I could teach history.

To say this place had a big impact on my life is a huge understatement.

--Old B-Runner

USS Cimarron-- Part 2: Operated S.C., Georgia and Florida

The USS Cimarron was 205-feet long, 35-foot beam and armed with one 100-pdr rifle and six 24-pdr. howitzers.  Its first commander was Commander Maxwell Woodhull.

It operated in the James River immediately after commissioning from 11 July to 4 September 1862 and saw action supporting Army operations.  It engaged Confederates at Harrison's Landing 28 July, Fort Powhatan 31 July and Swan Point Battery 4 August.  This is in disagreement with what I wrote about from the Civil War Naval Chronology back on August 1.

Then the Cimarron was transferred to the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron and operated in the coastal and inland waters of South Carolina, Georgia and Florida for the rest of the war.

It engaged Confederate batteries on the St. Johns River, Florida 17 September 1862 and in October was at the Battle of St. Johns Bluff.

During the course of its service, it captured three blockade runners and fired on Confederate troops ashore.

It was part of the attack on Fort Wagner on August 17, 20 and 21, 1863.

During January-February 1864 she operated in the Stono River in South Carolina.

--Old B-R'er

The USS Cimarron-- Part 1: Armed for River and Blockade Duties

On August 1, I wrote about an engagement July 31-August 1, at Coggins' Point on the James River, Virginia, between a Confederate batteries which sank two Union transports before being engaged with the USS Cimarron in a fierce fight.

I'd never heard of the USS Cimarron, so had to look it up.

From good old Wikipedia.

The original name of the ship was the Cimerone.  It was a double-ended steam gunboat, 860 tons, with a battery of six howitzers for river operations and a 100-pdr. rifle cannon for blockade duty.

It was commissioned 5 July 1862, and saw action very soon after that.  She was decommissioned  7 August 1865 and sold in November 1865.

--Old B-Runner

Saturday, August 5, 2017

North Carolina's Junior Reserves-- Part 5: Saw Action Late in the War

The Junior Reserves saw combat near the end of the war  They helped defeat the Union attack on Fort Fisher on December 25, 1864, and also saw combat at the Battle of Kinston (Wyse Fork).  March 18 to 21, they were at the Battle of Bentonville.

They sometimes performed with near unbelievable courage, but there were other times they weren't so stellar.

--Old B-Runner

North Carolina's Junior Reserves-- Part 4: Walter Clark

Walter Clark was a young University of North Carolina graduate and was just 17 (17-year-old college grad?) when he was elected major of the 6th Battalion N.C. Jr. Reserves in May 1864.  When it consolidated with another battalion to form the First Regiment N.C. Junior Reserves in June, he was elected major of that unit as well.

After the war he became a judge.  In 1901, he edited the series of books "Histories of Several Regiments and Battalions from North Carolina in the Great War 1861-'65."

While the young soldiers were in the military these young soldiers experienced the tedium of camp life, drills and guard duty, just like the older regiments  They had long marches, faced bad weather and many died from disease.

--Old B-R'er

Fort Fisher's Beat the Heat Series Continues: USO and Welcoming Sherman

The Fort Fisher 2017 "Beat the Heat" summer lecture series continues for three more weeks.

Lectures are given at the Fort fisher Visitors Center's E. Gehrig Spencer Theater at 2 p.m..


Topic:  "The USO: 75 Years of Helping Our Military."

Speaker:  John W. Falkenbury, President of the USO of North Carolina.  During World War II there were several USOs in Wilmington.


Topic:  "Welcoming Sherman:  Wilmington and the Cape Fear".

Speaker:  Wayne Sokolosky.  Historian and Author.


Topic:  "Redcoats on the River:  The Revolution in the Lower Cape Fear."

Speaker:  Bert Dunkerly, NPS Park Ranger, Historian and Author.

Again, sure wish I could be there for these.

Just Too Far Away.  --Old B-Runner

Thursday, August 3, 2017

North Carolina Junior Reserves-- Part 3: An Estimated 4,400 Served

The Junior reserves were originally organized into eight battalions of 3-4 companies each.  Over the next several months all but one battalion were consolidated into three regiments consisting of the standard ten companies each.

Gaps in the state records make it difficult to determine how many were in the Junior Reserves.  But surviving records indicate at least 4,000 youths and postwar records show another 400.

Older men often acted as the leadership of the Junior Reserves.

--Old B-R'er

North Carolina's Junior Reserves-- Part 2: Supposed to Serve Only In Their State

The 17-year-old boys went to the Junior Reserves and the 45-50 -year-old men went to the Senior Reserves.  Those not joining these reserves were drafted into regular combat units.  When a member of the Junior Reserves turned 18, he was expected to transfer to a combat unit.

The Junior and Senior Reserves guarded key military sites like bridges, railway depots and prisons in the states from which they were organized (apparently, other Confederate attacks had Junior and Senior reserves).  This released soldiers who were previously assigned these duties to combat duties.

The Reserves were not supposed to leave their home state, but that was suspended in the dire days as the war waned in late 1864.  The North Carolina Junior reserves briefly went to Virginia on two occasions.

--Old B-Runner

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

North Carolina's Junior Reserves-- Part 1: Confederate Conscription

From the NCpedia.

This past Friday I wrote about there being a N.C. Junior Reserves encampment at Fort Fisher over the weekend.  There were members of this unit of 17-year-olds at the First Battle of Fort Fisher.

In 1862, the Confederate Congress passed a conscription act to establish the draft for  all males ages 18-35.  Later that year, the age was raised to 45, but, as in the North, there were exemptions for a variety of reasons or the men would be assigned to work in industries deemed essential to the war effort.  A third conscription law passed in early 1864 brought many of the previously exempted men into combat units.

One provision of this third law was that it required 17-year-old boys and 45 to 50-year-old men to join up and serve in units of their own age group.

The boys became part of the Junior Reserves and the men became the Senior Reserves.

--Old B-Runner

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

July 31-August 1: Engagement on the James River and An Example of Heroism

JULY 31ST-AUGUST 1ST, 1862:  Confederate batteries at Coggins' Point, Virginia, took Union forces under fire on the James River between Harrison's Landing and Shirley, Virginia, sinking two Army transports.  The USS Cimarron, Commander Woodhull, immediately opened counter fire on the battery.

Praising Gunner's Mate John Merrett who, although extremely ill and awaiting transfer to a hospital, bravely manned his station in the main magazine, Commander Woodhull wrote:  "Merrett is an old man-of-warsman; his discipline, courage, and patriotism would not brook inaction when his ship was in actual battle.  His conduct, I humbly think, was a great example to all lovers of the country and its cause ... it is the act of a fine speciman of the old Navy tar."

This mutual respect between the naval officer and the long service enlisted man enabled the Navy to maintain its tone throughout the Civil War despite the rapid expansion.

Sword Belonging to Commander of Black Civil War Unit Found

From the July 23,2017, Washington Post by Mark Pratt, AP.

Robert  Gould Shaw, who like all officers in black units, was white.  After he was killed at Fort Wagner he was stripped of his clothing and belongings by Confederate soldiers.  His sword was recovered about two years later from a Confederate officer and returned to his parents.

(So, here, the sword was either recovered by a Confederate officer and returned to Shaw's parents or found in the possession of a Confederate officer, confiscated and returned to his parents.)

The sword's serial number matches the records of its maker, English swordsmith Henry Wilkinson.

It is tarnished and has some rust on the blade.  There is also some wear on the handle even though Shaw had acquired it only a month before his death and used in battle just twice.

The blemishes on the sword are likely the result of a Confederate officer using this highly valuable sword for the rest of the war.

It is a very superior sword.

--Old B-Runner

Monday, July 31, 2017

Someone Vandalized Boston's Famous Robert Gould Shaw Memorial

From the February 21, 2017, Mass Live.

His sword on the memorial was snapped off and found on the ground.  The friends of Public Garden have a "stockpile" of similar swords , though.

The memorial was created by Augustus Saint-Geaudens and unveiled in 1897 after almost 14 years of work.  A patented plaster version of the memorial is on display at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C..

And, the memorial has been vandalized before.  In 2015, a Charleston man ripped off the sword in a similar manner.  In 2012, a woman threw yellow paint at it according to the Boston Globe.

It Is a Sad Thing When Memorials and Statues Get Vandalized.  --Old B-Runner

Friday, July 28, 2017

Junior Reserves Rally at Fort Fisher This Weekend

From the July 24, 2017, Wilmington (N.C.) Star-News "'Jr. Reserves' to rally at Fort Fisher."

North Carolina needed more troops in the waning years of the Civil War and raised several companies of young boys, referred to as the Junior Reserves.  They were no more than age 17 and usually assigned to guard key military points.

The Fort Fisher State Historic Site will hold a Junior Reserves program and encampment this weekend, July 29-30 and will have plenty of family-friendly activities.  Admission is free.

There will be musket demonstrations, artillery firing, a "paint a toy soldier" workshop and a "School of the Soldier" to give young "recruits" a taste of drilling.  re-enactors will be on site dressed in period attire to tell the story of the Junior reserve units, several of which were stationed at Fort Fisher.

The times of this will be Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m..

This program is made possible through the support of the Friends of Fort Fisher, New Hanover County and the towns of Carolina Beach and Kure Beach.

--Old B-Ruunner

Michael Hardy to Speak at Fort Fisher's "Beat the Heat" Lecture Series This Saturday

Historian Michael C. Hardy, author of "North Carolina in the Civil War" and other Civil War books, will give a lecture at 2 p.m. Saturday July 29 at the Fort Fisher Museum's E. Gehrig Spencer Theatre.

His topic will be "North Carolina's Twisted History in the Civil War."

This program, like the concurrent one on North Carolina's Junior Reserves which occurs outside the whole weekend are sponsored by the Friends of Fort Fisher, New Hanover County, and the towns of Kure Beach and Carolina Beach.

--Old B-Runner

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Col. Shaw's Sword Found-- Part 3: Sword Given to His Sister

Two years later a Confederate officer recovered the sword and returned it to Shaw's parents in Boston.

Col. Shaw had no children and the sword ended up with his sister Susanna Minturn and there the sword's history ended.

She was believed to have given it it to a teenage grandson.

That was probably correct as it was found in the attic of one of Minturn's great-grandchildren late last year.

--Old B-Runner

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Col. Shaw's Sword Found-- Part 2: Commanded the First All-Black Union Regiment

From the July 17, 2017, Massachusetts Live "Sword of Robert Gould Shaw, Colonel of first all-black unit in the Civil War, found in home north of Boston."

After being lost for more than 150 years, his sword was given to the Massachusetts Historical Society on Tuesday.

Society President Dennis Fiorri called Shaw's sword "The Holy Grail of Civil War swords.  A Confederate soldier stripped the sword from the lifeless Shaw, along with the rest of his belongings following the battle.

--Old B-Runner

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Col. Shaw's Sword Found: Commanded the 54th Massachusetts

From the July 13, 2017, CBS News, Boston "Civil War Col. Robert Gould Shaw's long-lost sword found in attic."

He was commanding officer of the Union's first all-black regiment and his sword is now in the possession of the Massachusetts Historical Society.  It was given to them by the descendants of Robert Shaw.

There is a statue honoring Col. Shaw outside the Massachusetts State House.

Shaw led the 54th Massachusetts in the famous 1863 attack on Fort Wagner, guarding Charleston, South Carolina.  He was killed in the attack along with many of his men.  The 54th was made even more famous by the acclaimed film "Glory."  His sword was then stolen by a Confederate soldier.

The sword was recently discovered in a Boston North Shore family attic by Mary Minturn Wood and her brother, descendants of Shaw's sister, Susanna.

When they saw the initials "R.G.S.," they knew they had a historical artifact.  Instead of offering it at auction, they gifted it to the historical society where it will be on display Tuesday.

More Power to Them for Gifting It.  --Old B-Runner

Monday, July 24, 2017

July 24, 1862: The Growing Importance of Vicksburg

JULY 24TH, 1862:  Rear Admiral Farragut's fleet departed its station below Vicksburg, as the falling water level of the river and sickness among his ships' crews necessitated withdrawal to Baton Rouge and New Orleans.

Farragut's return to the lower Mississippi made abundantly clear the strategic importance of Vicksburg for, although the Navy held the vast majority of the river, Confederate control of Vicksburg enabled the South to continue to get supplies for her armies in the East from Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana.

To prevent as much of this as possible, Rear Admiral Davis and Major General Samuel R. Curtis provided for combined Army-Navy expeditions along the banks of the Mississippi River from Helena, Arkansas, to Vicksburg.

Though supplies continued to move across the river, this action prevented the Confederates from maintaining and reinforcing batteries at strategic points, an important factor in the following year's operations.

--Old B-Runner

Friday, July 21, 2017

Diving On the Condor- Part 2: Easy Self-Guided Tour... Underwater, Though.

In between the hull and stern there is outer hull plating,  intact I-beam frames, the water tank, "beehive" boilers, both engines, paddle wheel shafts, paddle wheel hubs, the keelson and too many other pieces to be listed here.

The engine room is clearly defined by the bottom of the bulkheads while having enough room to swim between the engines in full dive gear.

There is a diving travel line running down her middle and buoys on the surface locating the ends of the ship.  Dive slates have been made for the site, which will provide the diver the ability to take a self-guided tour around the complete wreck.

Of course, the diving saying "Take only pictures and leave only bubbles" applies here.

Hopefully, the blockade-runner Beauregard (General Beauregard/Havelock) will be the next one the become a state dive site.  This ship is located right in front of where my grandparents' beach cottage was on Carolina Beach before Hurricane Haze hit in 1954.

--Old B-Runner

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Diving On the Condor-- Part 1: More Than a Beginner's Rating

From the North Carolina State Archives.

A real nice sit with a map and cutaway views of the Condor's wreck.

The Condor is in relatively shallow, 24 foot of water on a rocky bed.  Parts of its machinery are only 13 feet below the waterline.  This would normally mark the site of a beginner's rating in diving.  However, the sometimes less-than-clear water and 150-year-old iron makes it higher rating than beginner.

The 218.6 foot iron hulled steamship is relatively intact.  The ship's bow is still attached along with the stern post and rudder.

--Old B-Runner

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Fort Fisher's Beat the Heat Summer Lectures Continue

The lectures take place at the Fort Fisher Museum's E. Gehrig Spencer Theater at 2 p.m. and are put on by the Fort Fisher State Historic Site and the Friends of Fort Fisher.


TOPIC:  Burrington, Dobbs and Tryon:  The Cape Fear's Royal Governors.  These men ruled North Carolina before the American Revolution.

Speaker will be Jack Fryer, historian, author and educator.


TOPIC:  "The Twisted History of North Carolina and the Civil War."

Speaker will be Michael Hardy, Civil War historian and author.

Again, Sure Wish I Could Be There.  Just Watch the Traffic on Saturdays During the Summer.  --Old B-Runner

The Blockade-Runner Condor-- Part 2: Rose O'Neal Greenhow Drowned

More famous than the ship herself was one of her passengers,famous Confederate spy and supporter Rose O'Neal Greenhow, who died in the surf when her small boat overturned while making her escape from the vessel.

Tradition maintains that she was weighed down with vital dispatches to Confederate President Jefferson Davis and $2,000 in gold.

There is a diorama of her death from the old Blockade Runner Museum at the Carolina Beach Town Hall on US-421.  She was buried in Wilmington's Oakdale Cemetery.

--Old B-R'er

The Blockade-Runner Condor-- Part 1: Made It Through Blockade, But Ran Aground

From Wide Open Space--  Famous Blockade Runners.

Earlier this summer, the state of North Carolina opened the Condor Dive Site.

The blockade-runner Condor was 270 feet long, with a 24-foot beam and crew of fifty.

It was chased on its maiden voyage by blockaders but arrived under the guns of Fort Fisher safely on 1 October 1864 at Swash Channel Bar at the New Inlet entrance to the Cape Fear River and Wilmington, its destination.

However, it ran aground, possibly while avoiding the wreck of the blockade-runner Night Hawk.

--Old B-Runner

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

July 18, 1862: USNA Open for Navy "Boys"

JULY 18TH, 1862:  Secretary of Navy Welles notified Flag Officers commanding squadrons of a bill authorizing the President to appoint annually three midshipmen to the Naval Academy from the enlisted boys of the Navy.

"They must be of good moral character, able to read and write well, writing from dictation and spelling with correctness, and to perform with accuracy the various operations of the primary rules of  arithmetic, viz, numeration, and the addition, subtraction, multiplication and division of whole numbers."

Each Flag Officers was requested to nominate one candidate from his command "not over 18 years of age."

We Need More Officers.  --Old B-Runner

Monday, July 17, 2017

PCU Minnesota Unveils New Logo and a Werden Connection

From the December 16, 2011, American Navy "PCU Minnesota Officially Unveils New Logo" by Lt.Cmdr. Jennifer Cragg.

To start with, PCU Minnesota is the Pre-Commission Unit and the Minnesota in question is the new nuclear submarine (SSN-783).

This was quite an interesting article to come across in light of what I have been writing about.

More than 100 high school and college students submitted logos to the Pre-Commissioning Unit Minnesota (SSN-783).

Jakob Bartels' design won and received a $1,500 college scholarship and an all-expense-paid trip to the submarine's commissioning in Norfolk in late 2013.

His family members have served in the U.S. military.  Including the great uncle of his great grandmother, Mary Werden Whiteside.  Her middle name, Werden, looks very familiar in the last several posts.  We are talking about U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Reed Werden, who, in another coincidence, once served on the steam frigate USS Minnesota and was at the first battle between ironclads, the USS Monitor and CSS Virginia.

I am not sure he was on the Minnesota at the Battle of Hampton Roads, however.

Very Interesting, Though.  --Old B-Runner

Friday, July 14, 2017

Reed Werden, USN-- Part 3: Blockaded the CSS Stonewall in Havana Harbor

He was Fleet Captain in the East Gulf Blockading Squadron from 1864-1865 and commanded the steamer USS Powhatan.  He blockaded the Confederate ram CSS Stonewall in the port of Havana until she was surrendered by Spanish authorities.

Commissioned captain 25 July 1866 and commodore 27 April 1871.  Promotion to rear admiral came 4 February 1875 and later became commander-in-chief of the South Pacific Station 1875-1876.

He was placed on the retired list at his own request.

--Old B-R'er

Reed Werden, USN-- Part 2: Served in NABS and SABS

Reed Werden was on the steam frigate USS Minnesota when the Civil War began and participated in the attacks of the forts at Hatteras Inlet and operations in the North Carolina Sounds in Stringham's fleet.  The USS Stars and Stripes, his former ship, was also there.

He commanded the steamers USS Yankee and USS Stars and Stripes in the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron 1861-1862.  While in command of the Stars and Stripes, he led the First Division in the capture of Roanoke Island, North Carolina.

He was commissioned to the rank of commander 16 July 1862, and commanded the USS Conemaugh in the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron 1862-1863.

--Old B-Runner

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Reed Werden, USN-- Part 1 Commanded the USS Stars and Stripes

From the Hall of North and South Americans.

He was the first commander of the USS Stars and Stripes which I have been writing about.Reed Werden was born in Delaware County, Pennsylvania 28 February 1818 and died at Newport, Rhode Island 13 July 1886.  He was appointed midshipman from Ohio 9 January 1834 and became passed midshipman 16 July 1840.  Commissioned lieutenant 27 February 1847.

Served on the sloop USS Germantown during the Mexican War 1847-1848  where he commanded a detachment from that ship during action againstTuspan and Tampico.

--Old B-Runner

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

McHenry County Civil War Round Table Meeting Tonight: Topic Is Show and Tell

It has been a busy three days for me as far as Civil War events are concerned.  And, that is considering that I am all the way up here in Illinois, by the Wisconsin line and about 30 miles west of Lake Michigan.

Sunday, I attended the Civil War Days re-enactment in Wauconda, Illinois, and saw some interesting presentations by people playing the roles of  Abraham Lincoln and Sojourner Truth.  And then I saw the second day of the Battle of Shiloh (which didn't go so well for our boys in gray, you know).

I sat at the Camp Douglas Sons of Confederate Veterans tent and had conversation with members of the 154th Tennessee Re-enactors.

Today I am going to Woodstock, Illinois, for the monthly meeting of the McHenry County Civil War Round Table at the Woodstock Library.  Tonight's topic will be  Show and Tell.  Members will bring items and talk about them, but we have been seriously fore-warned not to bring any weapons.

The meeting starts at 7 in the downstairs meeting room.

Before the meeting, a bunch of us will get together for dinner at Three Brothers Restuarant on Illinois Highway 47.

Getting Me Civil War On.  --Old B-R'er

July 11, 1862: A Congressional Act of Relief for the Cumberland and Congress Dead's Families

JULY 11TH, 1862:  Congress passed an act for the relief of relatives of officers and enlisted men who died on board the USS Congress and Cumberland when the CSS Virginia destroyed those vessels and threatened to break the blockade of Norfolk four months earlier.

--Old B-Runner

Monday, July 10, 2017

New 'Battle' of Charleston's Fort Bull Won

From the July 2, 2017, Charleston (SC) Post & Courier "Winning the 'battle' of Fort Bull:  Civil War site protected from West Ashley waterline path" by Bo Peterson.

Fort Bull consists of earthen berms back in the woods on private land and was in danger of partly being destroyed by the laying of water pipes.  It was dug by Confederate soldiers neat today's Bees Ferry Road and was part of the massive defensive defenses of Charleston, S.C., during the war.

It was designed by General Beauregard and even Robert E. lee had a part in its early design before he took command of the Army of Northern Virginia.  Over 200 defenses were constructed during the war in Charleston County.  Most like Fort Bull were vacant most of the time, but could be easily defended in case of Union attack.

Persons interested in preserving history caused the Charleston Water System, which was laying pipe in the area to swing around the fort's remains.

--Old B-R'er

Friends of Fort Fisher Attend Elmira Prison Dedication in New York

Most of the enlisted men captured at Fort Fisher on January 15, 1865, were sent here and a large number died during their several months of confinement.

Eight members of the Friends of Fort Fisher attended the dedication of one of the camp's restored original building.

I have an entry about it in my Saw the Elephant blog of today.

--Old B-Runner

Saturday, July 8, 2017

USS Stars and Stripes-- Part 5: Became the SS Metropolis (Famous Shipwreck)

In 1864, the Stars and Stripes Captured the blockade running steamer Laura off Ochlockonee on 18 January. and attacked an extensive Confederate fishery at Marsh Island 19 and 20 October.

On 3 December, she joined three other gunboats and destroyed saltworks at Rocky Point, in Tampa Bay.

At the end of the war, the Stars and Stripes was decommissioned at Philadelphia 30 June 1865 and sold at auction 10 August 1865, to Thomas Watson & Sons out of New York City.

On 18, 1865, the ship was renamed the Metropolis and was in the merchant service until 31 January 1878, when, while going from Philadelphia to Brazil, she was wrecked on the outer bar at Currituck Beach, North Carolina.  The ship and cargo were a total loss.

During the Civil War, the Stars and Stripes had operated a whole lot in that area of North Carolina.

There is a whole lot to this wreck, which I will go into next.

--Old B-Runner

Friday, July 7, 2017

Fort Fisher's Beat the Heat Series Continues: Elmira Prison Camp and the CSS Neuse

From the Powderkeg Magazine of the Friends of Fort Fisher.

A great way to get out of the heat and learn something at the same time.  These presentations are held at the E. Gehroig Spencer Theater at the Fort Fisher Visitors Center at the Fort Fisher State Historic Site in Kure Beach, North Carolina.

They begin on Saturdays at 2 p.m..


Elmira Prisoner of War Camp:  The North's Answer to Andersonville

The speaker will be Richard Triebe, historian and author who has written a book about the prison.

The majority of the enlisted Confederate captured at Fort Fisher were brought here and an alarming number of them died in a few months of imprisonment.


The Final Days of the CSS Neuse - and Beyond.  The speaker will be Andrew Duppstadt of the North Carolina State Historic Sites.

This was the sister ship of the CSS Albemarle.

Again, I Sure Wish I Could Be There For These, But 1200 Miles Is JUST Too Far.  --Old B-Runner

Changing Some of the Content of This Blog

In the last year or so I have been doing a lot of coverage on the chronology of the Naval Civil War which was getting a bit too much.

So what I will be doing now is writing about an event that took place 155 years ago and then going into greater detail on it.  Much of these last several weeks I have been writing about the happenings around the St. Marks River, Florida, during the war which is why I have been writing about the USS Stars and Stripes which operated off that place.

--Old B-R'er

USS Stars and Stripes-- Part 4: Transferred to the East Gulf Blockading Squadron

On August 24, the Stars and Stripes captured the British ship Mary Elizabeth attempting to run into Wilmington with a cargo of salt and fruit.

After that, the ship went to Philadelphia for repairs and was decommissioned September 14, though quickly repaired and back in service.  On September 29, the Stars and Stripes was assigned to the East Gulf Blockading Squadron where she remained for the rest of the war. This is when she had the encounters with the CSS Spray and the St. Marks area.

In 1863, she captured the sloop Florida in St. Marks Bay with a cargo of cotton and tar. on June 3.  Then, its boats along with those of the USS Somerset went to Marsh Island, Florida to destroy saltworks.  Later she destroyed the blockade runner schooner Caroline Gertrude aground at the mouth of the Ochlockonee River December 29.

--Old B-Runner

Thursday, July 6, 2017

USS Stars and Stripes-- Part 3: Still Operating in North Carolina Waters

On February 7, 1862, the Stars and Stripes took part in the attack on Roanoke Island, N.C.  On February 20, while transferring ammunition to Isaac N. Seymour, that ship struck the submerged anchor of the USS Louisiana and sank.  Most of the crew were saved by the Stars and Stripes.

The ship operated in North Carolina waters and helped capture New Bern in mid-March.

It returned to Norfolk on 4 June for badly needed repairs and six days later returned to blockade duty off North Carolina.

Shortly before dawn June 27, 1862, the Stars and Stripes helped the USS Cambridge destroy the blockade runner Modern Greece near the Cape Fear River off Fort Fisher.  (I wrote about this on June 27 only it did not mention the USS Stars and Stripes being involved, just the USS Cambridge.)

--Old B-Runner

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

USS Stars and Stripes-- Part 2: Service Off North Carolina

After commissioning, the USS Stars and Stripes was assigned to the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron and arrived at Hampton Roads 26 September 1861.  Two days later it towed schooners of the Great Stone Fleet to Hatteras Inlet.  It arrived October 1 and then operated in the that vicinity for the next several months.

During that time, Lt. Reed Werden was also in charge of the USS Ceres, General Putnam and Underwriter.  Because of the drafts of the Stats and Stripes and the Underwriter, Werden refused to allow these two ships to enter shallow Pamlico Sound.

On 2 November, the Stars and Stripes fought a Confederate gunboat, but neither ship was within each other's range so no damage done.

On November 5 and 6, 1861, the ships under Werden's command attempted to provide assistance to the French corvette Prony, which had run aground, but weather and Confederate activity prevented them from doing so and the ship was lost.

On 15 December, the Stars and Stripes captured the schooner Charity and sent it to New York City for adjudication.

--Old B-Runner

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

July 4, 1862: Loss of the Confederate "Aircraft Carrier" CSS Teaser

JULY 4TH, 1862:  The USS Maratanza, Lt. Stevens, engaged the CSS Teaser, Lt. Davidson, at Haxall's on the James River.  The Teaser was abandoned and captured after a shell from Maratanza exploded her boiler.  In addition to placing mines in the river, Davidson had gone down the river with a balloon on board for the purpose of making an aerial reconnaissance of Union General McClellan's positions at City Point and Harrison's Landing.

By this time both Union and Confederate forces were utilizing the balloon for gathering intelligence; the Teaser was the Southern counterpart, the USS G.W. Parke Custiss, from whose deck aerial observations had been made the preceding year.

Well, essentially they were early aircraft carriers.

The Teaser's balloon, as well as a quantity of insulated wire and mine equipment, were found on board the Teaser.  Six shells with "peculiar fuzes" were also taken and sent to Captain Dahlgren at the Washington Navy Yard for examination.

Mines and Balloons, Oh My.  --Old B-Runner

Monday, July 3, 2017

USS Stars and Stripes-- Part 1: With a Name Like That...Perfect for These Days

From Wikipedia.

Since the USS Stars and Stripes was such an adversary to the CSS Spray, I decided to do some more research on the ship.

The USS Stars and Stripes was built at Mystic, Connecticut, and purchased by the U.S. Navy 27 July 1861.  Commissioned in New York navy Yard and commanded first by Lt. Reed Werden.

It was decommissioned in Philadelphia 30 June 1865, sold on 10 August, 1865, and sank 31 January 1878.

It was 407 tons, 124.3 feet, 34.6 feet beam and had a crew of 94.

Armament consisted of four 8-in cwt cannons and one 20-pdr Parrott rifle.

Lt. Reed Werden was in command.

--Old B-Runner

Some More On the CSS Spray-- Part 9: USS Stars and Stripes Vs. CSS Spray

Prior to the chase of the CSS Spray, the USS Stars and Stripes had spotted a Confederate encampment at Long Bar and had fired on it.  The Spray had come down the St. Marks River to about Fourmile Point to return fire, but had withdrawn when the Union ship fired at her.

The Stars and Stripes also reported that it knew about the foundry/machine shop operating at Newport, but had made no attempt to destroy it.

On 12 September 1863, the Stars and Stripes made another attempt to capture or destroy the Spray as it lay at anchor in the St. Marks River, but the attempt failed.  Two Confederate sailors were captured.

--Old B-R'er

Some More on the CSS Spray-- Part 8: The Spray Makes An Escape

In January 1863, the sloop Florida beached at the mouth of the St. Marks River as it was preparing to run the blockade.  It was spotted at daylight and a Federal gunboat came in.  It shelled both the Florida and the lighthouse and then captured the sloop, but the crew escaped.

In February 1863, the British schooner Pacifique was captured at St. Marks River.

In April of that year, the USS Stars and Stripes gave chase for more than three hours to a "side-wheeled schooner-rigged steamer of unknown registry that sailed out of the St. Marks River.  Later, the Union vessel reported that they had been chasing the CSS Spray and that it was steaming at 14 knots and managed to get away.

--Old B-Runner

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Some More on the CSS Spray-- Part 7: Action on St. Marks and Aucilla Rivers

Sailors from the USS Tahoma and Somerset came ashore and burned what was left.  They also set fire to the interior of the lighthouse keeper's house.

A few months later, another Union gunboat fired at the saltworks at Goose Creek, but did little damage.

Just prior to that, two armed Federal ship's boats, on their way to get fresh water, were attacked and sunk by Confederate forces on the Aucilla River.  Two sailors were killed and the rest taken prisoner.

Two days after Christmas 1862, the British schooner Kate was captured by the USS Roebuck as it attempted to enter the channel at the mouth of the St. Marks River with a cargo of salt, coffee, copper and liquor.

--Old B-Runner

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Some More on CSS Spray-- Part 6: Fighting Around the Mouth of the St. Marks River

A few months later, the CSS Spray, now stationed at St, Marks, moved downriver to below Port Leon and shelled the bay.

In February 1862, the USS Mohawk positioned itself off Lighthouse Point and began shelling the saltworks near the lighthouse.  Captain Scott's cavalry, the Tallahassee Guards, moved up to prevent a landing and the Mohawk eventually retired out into the Gulf.

Four months later, the USS Tahoma and Somerset crossed the St. Marks River bar and bombarded Confederate Fort Williams and the saltworks near the lighthouse.The shelling destroyed the barracks and caused the artillerymen stationed there to withdraw.

This is the story that I wrote about back on June 15 which led to all of these stories about the St. Marks River, Fort Williams and the CSS Spray.

--Old B-Runner

June 30, 1862--Part 2: McClellan Withdrawing From Peninsula Campaign

McClellan noted one of the many instances of invaluable naval support as the Confederates pressed to cut off the Union movement to the river:  "The rear of the supply trains and the reserve artillery of the army reached Malvern Hill about 4 p.m.  At about the same time the enemy began to appear in General Fitz John Porter's front, and at 5 o'clock advanced in large force against his flank, posting artillery under cover of a skirt of timber, with a view to engage our force on Malvern Hill....

"The gunboats rendered most efficient aid at this time, and helped drive back the enemy."

Naval gunfire support was controlled through a system of liaison in which "fall-of-shot" information was sent by the Army signal personnel ashore to Army signal personnel afloat in the gunboats by the Myer's system of signalling.

--Old B-Runner

Friday, June 30, 2017

June 30, 1862-- Part 1: McClellan Withdrawing From the James River

JUNE 30TH, 1862:  Major General George B. McClellan, compelled to withdraw down the James River after his failer Peninsula Campaign to capture Richmond and dependent on the Navy for gunfire support and transportation, reported:  "I returned from Malvern to Haxall's, and ... went on board of Captain Rogers' gunboat USS Galena to confer with him in reference to the condition of our supply vessels and the state of things on the river.

"It was his opinion that it would be necessary for the army to fall back to a position below City Point, as the channel there was so near the southern shore that it would not be possible to bring up the transports should the enemy occupy it.

"Harrison's Landing was, in his opinion, the nearest suitable point.... Concurring in his opinion, I selected Harrison's Bar as the new position of the army."

--Old B-Runner

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Some More On the CSS Spray-- Part 5: Built in Indiana, Used in Gulf of Mexico

From the 290 Foundation.

In June, the CSS Spray captured a U.S. schooner somewhere east of the St. Marks River under the command of Lt. McGary, CSN.

The Spray was built at New Albany, Indiana, and purchased by Daniel Ladd of Newport, Florida, for $15,000 and used in Gulf of Mexico coastal waters before the war.  There wasn't a problem moving goods in the area shortly after the war began, but that changed when the USS Mohawk arrived off the St. Marks River.

Shortly before it arrived, the sloop CSS George B. Sloat had been captured in the St. Marks River.  The Mohawk's crew used two small boats to move the Sloat into the river channel and sank it as an obstruction.

--Old B-Runner

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Some More On the CSS Spray-- Part 4: In Constant Use

According to the Liitle Town Mast, the CSS Spray was captained by Lt. McGary, CSN.

The ship was described as a new ship with modern steam engines that was in constant use during the war transporting troops to Lighthouse Point on the St. Marks River.

It was eight tons and drew a 6.5 foot draft.

It was the only Confederate vessel to be used exclusively in Florida waters during the war.


Tuesday, June 27, 2017

June 27, 1862: Blockade Runner Modern Greece Chased Ashore in N.C.

JUNE 27TH, 1862:  The USS Bohio, Acting master W.D. Gregory, captured sloop Wave, bound from Mobile to Mississippi City with cargo of flour.

**  USS Bienville, Commander Mullany, captured schooner Morning Star off Wilmington, North Carolina.

**  USS Cambridge, Commander W.A. Parker, chased blockade runner Modern Greece ashore off Fort Fisher, guarding Wilmington, where she was subsequently destroyed with a cargo of gunpowder, rifled cannons and other arms.

The discovery of the wreck in the 1960s kicked off a new age in Underwater Archaeology.

--Old B-Runner

Monday, June 26, 2017

CSS Spray-- Part 3: It's Fate Unknown

In February 1864, Union troops in two naval expeditions of 14 ships landed at St. Marks to capture Fort Ward, Port Leon and burn the CSS Spary.  They failed.

On March 6, 1865, the Spray was involved in the Battle of Natural Bridge in Florida.

The fate of the CSS Spray is not known.  Reports have it being sunk by Confederates in the St. Marks River  According to the David Ladd family, who originally owned her, it survived into the 20th century.

Commanders of the ship:

Lt. Charles Hays, CSN
Lt. henry L. Lewis, CSN.  Born in Virginia.  had been a lieutenant in the U.S. navy before the war and also commanded the CSS Rappahannock 1862-1863

--Old B-Runner

Friday, June 23, 2017

Fort Fisher's 2017 Beat the Heat Lectures Continue-- Part 3: Of Bragg and WASPS

The next two lectures will be:

JUNE 24--  TOPIC--    Braxton Bragg: A Reassessment"  Bragg is probably one of the most hated of all Confederate commanders and received much criticism for the fall of Fort Fisher.

SPEAKER--  Dr. Dennis Levin, retired U.S. Army historian.  I've heard him speak before.  He gives another side of the story.  Make up your own mind after hearing this talk.

JULY 1--  TOPIC--  "The WASP Program of Camp Davis."  These women were often the pilots who towed targets for the anti-aircraft crews who trained at Fort Fisher during World War II.

SPEAKER--  Krystal Lee, Beaufort County educator.

Sure Wished I Lived Closer.  --Old B-R'er

Fort Fisher's 2017 Beat the Heat Lectures Continue-- Part 2: Of Photographs and Blockade Runners

The Beat the Heat Summer lecture Series presentations begin at 2 p.m. Saturdays at the E. Gehrig Spencer Theater at the Fort Fisher State Historic Site.

Lectures given so far:

JUNE 10--  TOPIC:   "Timothy O'Sullivan and Photographing Fort Fisher"  Shortly after the capture of Fort Fisher, one of Matthew Brady's photographers, Timothy O-Sullivan, came to Fort Fisher and took a lot of photos of the fort as it looked like then.  Sure glad he did.

SPEAKERS-- were photographer Harry Taylor and Dr. Chris Fonvielle, Jr., Associate Professor history at UNCW.  Author of many books on the Cape Fear Area during the war.

JUNE 17--  TOPIC:   "The Blockade Runners"  Wilmington and the Cape Fear were definitely hot spots for this undertaking.

SPEAKER: John Morris, Director of the North Carolina Underwater Archaeology Unit.  Two recent stories are about the locating of the blockade runner Agnes E, Fry and the recent dedication of the Condor Historic Dive Site off Fort Fisher.  Mr. Morris was very instrumental in both.

--Old B-Runner

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Fort Fisher's 2017 Beat the Heat! Summer Lecture Series-- Part 1

From the Summer Powder Magazine publication by the Friends of Fort Fisher.

This is a great way to beat the heat during those hot and really crowded days out on Pleasure Island, North Carolina, just south of Wilmington.

Due to its popularity, more dates have been added for 2017.

New speakers include:

Andrew Duppstadt of the N.C. Division of Historic Sites
Bert Dunkerly of the National Park Service
Dr. Dennis Levin, former U.S. Army historian
John Falkenberry director of the North Carolina United Services Organization.

Presentations run every Saturday from June 10 to August 19 and will be held at the E. Gehrig Spencer Theater at 2 p.m..

It is sponsored by the Friends of Fort Fisher.

--Old B-Runner

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

CSS Spray-- Part 2: Union Forces After It

Daniel Ladd, a Newport, Florida, cotton and general mercantile businessman purchased the Spray for $15,100.  The ship operated for him as far south as Cedar Key, Fl., up the Appalachicola River to Columbus, Ga., up the Suwannee River and west to New Orleans.  It transported cotton, naval stores, hides, tobacco and beeswax.

It operated in St. Marks area as a Confederate gunboat 1863-1864.  (But it was there in 1862 as well.)  The ship really had the federal forces after it.  On September 12, 1863, the captain of the USS Stars and Stripes reported an unsuccessful attack on her in the St, Marks River.

--Old B-Runner

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

CSS Spray-- Part 1: Steam-Powered, Sidewheel Tug

From Wikipedia.

In last week's post, I mentioned there was a picture of Fort Williams, the USS Mohawk, the lighthouse and the CSS Spray that appeared in Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper on February 11, 1862.

I'd never heard of the CSS Spray so did some more research in good ol' Wikipedia.

The CSS  Spray was a steam-powered side paddle wheel tugboat built in New Albany, Indiana and used as a gunboat for the Confederate States Navy in the St, Marks, Newport, Florida, area during the war.

It was built in 1850 and mounted two or three light cannons.

--Old B-Runner

Monday, June 19, 2017

So, the Question Remains About Fort Williams in Florida

We had the USS Somerset and Tahoma reporting that on June 15, 1862, they exchanged shots with the garrison of Fort Williams protecting the mouth of the St. Marks River in Florida, driving the Confederates away and then landing and destroying the works.

I have seen other sources saying that the fort had already been abandoned as I covered in the last several posts.

Which one is right?

I kind of have to believe that the fort had been abandoned, but a small group of soldiers left there to keep an eye on the Federal ships and this essentially was the engagement.

I'll have to see if I can find the official reports in the ORN.

--Old B-Runner

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Fort Williams, Florida-- Part 2: Defense Moved to San Marcos de Apaliche

The defense of the St, Marks River now lay with the old San Marcos de Apaliche, six miles upriver from the Gulf of Mexico.

The design of the old Spanish fort was altered and the remaining old  walls were used to back up heavy earthworks.  Fort Williams was then somewhat dismantled and what remained of it was later burned by the Union Navy. iin the attack by the USS Tahoma and Somerset June 15, 1862.  However, the reports of these two ships made it sound like there was an engaement, which, if this is to be believed, would not have happened if the fort had been abandoned already.

There is no trace remaining of Fort Williams today.  The lighthouse survived the war and still stands

--Old B-R'er

Fort Williams, Florida-- Part 1: Determined To Be Too Isolated

From the Civil War Florida site by Dale Cox.

A wartime sketch of the St, Marks lighthouse and Fort Williams appeared in the Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper on February 11, 1862.  It showed the USS Mohawk and the CSS gunboat Spray behind the fort.

The fort was named for Colonel J.J. Williams, a well-known planter from Leon County and was built to protect the mouth of the St. Marks River.  It was an earthen fortification backed by timber and several pieces of heavy artillery were placed in it.  It was sited on Lighthouse Point, just west of the lighthouse.

It was determined that the fort was isolated and could not easily be supported in an attack and the Confederates evacuated it in 1862.  The defense of the St, Marks River was moved to the Spanish Fort San Marcos de Apalache which was in ruins, but a Marine Hospital was already on the site and could be used as barracks.

--Old B-Runner

Friday, June 16, 2017

New Confederate Marker Unveiled At Fort Fisher

From the May 2, 2017 91.3 WHQR News by Vince Winkel.

Confederate  Memorial Day in a state holiday in North Carolina and observed on May 10.  Six other Southern states also observe it.  A new interpretive marker was dedicated by the Confederate Monument on Battle Acre.

During the Saturday ceremony the Christian hymn "How Firm a Foundation" was sung.  This was Robert E. Lee's favorite hymn and sung at his funeral.

Dozens off descendants of Confederate soldiers were at Battle Acre for the ceremony.

The Confederate monument was built by the United Daughters of the Confederacy and dedicated June 2, 1932.

Sadly, however, in these days of all this Confederate statue desecration, how long will it be before one of those folks will have their feelings offended and demand it be taken down?

--Old B-Runner

Thursday, June 15, 2017

The Confederate Fort At St. Marks Lighthouse

From the Civil War Florida website by Dale Cox.

I'd never heard of a fort by the lighthouse on the St, Marks River in Florida.  I wasn't even sure where the river was.  It flows into the Gulf of Mexico near the eastern edge of the Florida Panhandle.

The Confederate battery/fort that the Union ships destroyed in the last post was rectangular in shape named Fort Williams and so constructed as to defend the mouth of the St. Marks River.

It was already complete by June 1861 when the USS Mohawk arrived to enforce Lincoln's blockade.  Confederates occupied it until the summer of 1862 when it was abandoned in favor of a new fortification built upriver on the ruins of the old Spanish fort of San Marcos de Apaliche.

The fort was burned by Union sailors from the USS Tahoma and USS Somerset.

The listing in the Civil War Naval Chronology that I used for the last post made it sound like there was an actual battle that took place at Fort Williams, but this makes it seem like it was nothing more than the occupying of abandoned works.

--Old B-R'er

June 15, 1862: Action At St. Marks River, Florida

JUNE 15TH, 1862:    The USS Tahoma, Lt. John C. Howell, and USS Somerset, Lt. English, crossed the bar of St. Marks River, Florida, and shelled the Confederate fort near the lighthouse for forty minutes.

The Confederate artillery company stationed there withdrew and the sailors landed and destroyed the battery and the buildings used as barracks.

**  The USS Corwin, Lt. T.S. Phelps, captured schooner Starlight at Potopotank, Virginia.

--Old B-Runner

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Rose O'Neal Greenhow Diorama At Carolina Beach Town Hall

If you visit the Carolina Beach, North Carolina, Townhall on US-421 (right next to the Federal Point Historical Museum) you can see a diorama of the death of Rose O'Neal Greenhow, as her longboat from the blockade runner Condor overturned in heavy surf and she drowned.  There are several other Civil War Cape Fear dioramas as well.

The Greenhow diorama and the other ones were originally in the Blockade Runner Museum which closed in the 1980s and were stored until a few years ago at the Cape Fear Museum in Wilmington.

I used to spend a lot of time at the Blockade Runner Museum and it is good to see the dioramas again.  The Cape Fear Museum also has the diorama of Fort Fisher and the Wilmington riverfront during the war which are on display..

--Old B-Runner

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Fort Fisher Target Practice On the Wreck of the Blockade Runner Condor in 1864

Last night I was reading in the book "Hurricane of Fire" that in early December 1864 (the Condor ran aground October 1, 1864) that Fort Fisher's commander, Col. William Lamb,  had target practice on the wreck.  He fired his Big Gun, the 150-pounder Armstrong gun.

The first shot hit the Condor's forward funnel, second one its aft funnel and the third hit the hull.

Of course, the gun was fired in combat later that month during the 1st Battle of Fort Fisher.

Perhaps the Armstrong shells are still somewhere in the wreck?

Using the "Big Gun."  --Old B-R'er

Condor Heritage Dive Site Opening in Kure Beach-- Part 2

The blockade runner Condor was attempting to run into the Cape Fear River with her cargo and Confederate spy Rose O'Neal Greenhow when it ran aground off Fort Fisher and was wrecked on October 1, 1864.

The ship was 218 feet long and the wreck is 25 feet down about 700 yards off the beach in front of the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher.  It has been fully mapped and divers can find its full lower hull, engines, paddle wheels and boilers.

Buoys will mark the site along with mooring lines for boats and kayaks.  Divers will be able to dive the wreck from June to November.

Interested persons can learn the ship's history and see artifacts at the Fort Fisher Museum.  There is a replica of the Condor's engine room in one of the tanks at the Fort Fisher Aquarium.

I Don't Know.  Some Big Ol' Sharks Out There.  --Old B-Runner

Monday, June 12, 2017

Condor Heritage Dive Site Opening in Kure Beach-- Part 1

From the June 5, 2017, WECT NBC News,(Wilmington, N.C.)  "Heritage Dive Site opening in Kure Beach."

The dedication to take place Friday June 16.

The blockade runner Condor is one of the best preserved shipwrecks and it offers scuba divers and snorkelers a great experience to explore.

Said North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources Secretary Susi H. Hamilton:  "The project is the result of some amazing teamwork between the Underwater Archaeological Branch, historic site, maritime museum and aquarium staff, along with some truly outstanding community partners such as the North Carolina Sea Grant and the Friends of Fort Fisher."

--Old B-Runner

Saturday, June 10, 2017

June 11, 1862: Two Blockade Runner Captures in the Gulf of Mexico

JUNE 11TH, 1862:  The USS Susquehanna, Commander Robert B. Hitchcock, captured blockade runner Princeton in the Gulf of Mexico.

**  The USS Bainbridge, Commander Brasher, captured schooner Baigorry with cargo of cotton in the Gulf of mexico.

--Old B-R'er

June 9, 1862: Welles Pushing for a Navy Second-To-None

JUNE 9TH, 1862:  Secretary of the Navy Welles wrote Senator John P. Hale, Chairman of the Senate Naval Committee, and expressed his belief that the only security against any foreign war was having a Navy second to none:  "The fact that a radical change has commenced in the construction and armament of ships, which change in effect dispenses with the navies, that have hitherto existed, is obvious, and it is a question for Congress to decide whether the Government will promptly take the initiative step to place our country in the front rank of maritime powers...."

"Other nations, whose wooden ships-of-war far exceed our own in number, cannot afford to lay them aside, but are compelled to plate them with iron at very heavy cost.

"They are not aware of the disadvantage of this proceeding, but it is a present necessity.   It must be borne in mind, however, that those governments which are striving for naval supremacy are sparing no expense to strengthen themselves by building iron vessels, and already their dock-yards are undergoing the necessary preparation for this change in naval architecture."

In other words, other nations are stuck with a whole lot of wooden warships, which have been found to be inferior to the new ironclads.  We have a chance to become the most  powerful naval country in the world.  Let's go with it.

--Old B-Runner

Friday, June 9, 2017

Beat the Heat With "Picturing Fort Fisher" on June 10

From the Friends of Fort Fisher.

At 2 p.m., Saturday, June 10, 2017, Dr. Chris Fonvielle, Jr., will have a presentation "Picturing Fort Fisher: The 1865 Timothy O'Sullivan Photographs" at the Fort Fisher Museum's Spencer Auditorium in Kure Beach, North Carolina.

Dr. Fonvielle is a Cape Fear Civil War historian and author of several books on the war, including one on the O'Sullivan photographs.

He will also be available to sign copies of his books.

This is part of a summer-long series of talks during Fort Fisher's "Beat the Heat" lecture series.

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

See How Civil War Photographs Were Made at Fort Fisher June 10

In connection with the Beat the Heat lecture on the Fort Fisher photographs of Timothy O'Sullivan, taken shortly after the fort's capture, old-time photographer Harry Taylor will also be at the fort Saturday making wet plate images.

"Being a Civil War photographer was not for the weak or faint of heart."  They had to transport bulky and heavy equipment as well as extremely dangerous chemicals used in the developing process.

His presentation will be at 11 a.m..

Old B-Runner

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Official Dedication of Condor Heritage Dive Site June 16, 2017

From the Friends of Fort Fisher.

The North Carolina Secretary of Natural and Cultural Resources, Susi H. Hamilton, and the friends of Fort Fisher invite everyone to the dedication of North Carolina's first Heritage Dive Site.  It is of the sunken Civil War blockade runner Condor.

Along with Secretary Hamilton, North Carolina Underwater Archaeology Branch Director John W. Morris and Dr. Gordon P. Watts of the Institute for International Maritime Resarch will also be there.

The dedication will take place at Fort Fisher's Battle Acre at 10:30 a.m. on Friday, June 16, 2017.

--Old B-Runner

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

New Blockade Runner Dive Site in North Carolina

I came across an article about the new dive site on the wreck of the blockade runner Condor off Fort Fisher.  It lies about 700 yards off the N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher.

Famous Confederate spy Rose O'Neal Greenhow was on board this ship when it went aground and her escape boat overturned in the rough seas and she drowned.

Old B'Runner

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

June 6, 1862: Battle of Memphis

JUNE 6TH, 1862:  The USS Benton, Louisville, Carondolet, St. Louis and Cairo, under Captain Davis, and rams Queen of the West and Monarch under Col. Charles Ellett, Jr., engaged the Confederate River Defense Fleet: CSS Earl Van Dorn, General Beauregard, General M. F. Thompson, Colonel Lowell, General Bragg, General Sumter, General Sterling Price and Little Rebel under Captain Montgomery in the Battle of Memphis.

In the ensuing close action the Queen of the West was rammed and Colonel Ellett mortally wounded.  The Confederate River defense Fleet was destroyed; all ships, excepting the Van Dorn, were either captured, sunk or grounded on the river bank to avoid sinking.

Memphis surrendered to Captain Davis, and the pressure of relentless naval power had placed another important segment of the Mississippi River firmly under Union control.

Wasn't Much of a Battle.    --Old B-Runner