Fort Fisher

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

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Fort Fisher's Beat the Heat Summer Lecture Series ContinuesThe lectures are given at 2 p.m. at the Fort Fisher State Historic Site's E. Gehrig Spencer Theater.

These lectures are put on by the site and the Friends of Fort Fisher.

JULY 22

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.

JULY 29

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..

JULY 8 TOPIC

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.

JULY 15 TOPIC

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.

--Old-B-Runner

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

Monday, June 5, 2017

June 5, 1862: Action On the Mississippi River and Florida

JUNE 5TH, 1862:  The tug assigned to the USS Benton, Captain Davis, captured the steamer Sovereign near Island No. 37 in the Mississippi River.

**  The Confederate steamer Havana was set afire in Deadman's Bay, Florida, to prevent her capture by the USS Ezilda, tender to the USS Somerset, Lt. English.

--Old B-Runner

Friday, June 2, 2017

June 4, 1862: Fort Pillow Evacuated By Confederates

JUNE 4TH, 1862:  Confederates evacuated Fort Pillow, Tennessee, on the Mississippi River during the night of 4-5 June after sustaining a prolonged bombardment by Union gunboats and mortar ships.

On 5 June, the Union fleet under Captain Davis and transports moved down the river to within two miles of Memphis.

--Old B-Runner

June 3, 1862: USS Gem of the Sea and Montgomery Capture Blockade Runners

JUNE 3, 1862:  The USS Gem of the Sea, Lt. Baxter, captured blockade runner Mary Stewart at the entrance of the Santee River, South Carolina.

**  The USS Montgomery, Lt. C. Hunter, captured blockade running British schooner Will-O'-The-Wisp transferring powder and percussion caps to a lighter near the mouth of the Rio Grande River in Texas.

--Old B-Runner

June 2-3, 1862: Naval Support of James Island Landings

JUNE 2-3, 1862:  The USS Unadilla, Lt. Collins, USS Pembina, E.B. Hale, Ellen and Henry Andrew provided close gunfire support for Army landings and operations on James Island, South Carolina (by Charleston).

--Old B-Runner

June 2, 1862: Action in Florida and Captures in Louisiana

JUNE 2ND, 1862:  A boat from the USS New London, Lt. A. Read, captured yachts Comet and Algerine near New Basin, Louisiana.

**  Eleven men in two boats under Acting Master Samuel Curtis from the USS Kingfisher, while on an expedition up the Aucilla River, Florida, to obtain fresh water, were surprised by Confederate attackers; two were killed and nine were captured.

--Old B-Runner

Thursday, June 1, 2017

The United States Colored Troops at Fort Fisher-- Part 2: Siege of Petersburg

The regiment took part in the campaigning in Virginia from the Rapidan River to the James River in 1864.  then, they were at the Siege of Petersburg and the engagements at Weldon Railroad, Poplar Grove Church, Boynton Plank Road and Hatcher's Run.

In December, they were with General Butler at Bermuda 100.

At the Second Battle of Fort Fisher they had one killed and four wounded.

--Old B-Runner


Wednesday, May 31, 2017

May 31, 1862: Two More Runners Captured

MAY 31ST, 1862:  Commander Rowan, commanding the USS Philadelphia, reported the capture of schooner W.F. Harris in Core Sound, North Carolina.

**  The USS Keystone State, Commander LeRoy, captured blockade running British schooner Cora off Charleston.

--Old B-Runner

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

United States Colored Troops at Fort Fisher-- Part 1: 27th USCT

Honoring our military this Memorial Day 2017.

From North Carolina Historic Sites "Black Troops at Fort Fisher."

The 27th USCT regiment participated in the mop-up operations against Fort Fisher on the night of January 15, 1865 and were involved in the initial surrender negotiations.

The regiment was from Ohio and was just one day shy of having a year's service at Fort Fisher, having been organized at Camp Delaware on January 16, 1864.

They served initially in the IX Corps, Army of the Potomac before being transferred to the XXV Corps.

--Old B-Runner

Monday, May 29, 2017

Memorial Day 2017: William Graham Hood

This 2017 Memorial Day  I will post in all blogs about it today and tomorrow.

William Graham Hood, served in the U.S. Army in World War I.  He never went overseas, though.

He was my grandfather.

May 29, 1862: Four Blockade Runners Captured

MAY 29TH, 1862:  The USS Keystone State, Commander LeRoy, captured British blockade runner Elizabeth off Charleston.

**  The USS Bienville, Commander Mullany, captured blockade runners Providence, with cargo of salt and cigars, Rebecca, with cargo of salt and La Criolla, with cargo of provisions, off Charleston.

That made a total of four blockade runners captured off Charleston in one day.

In the case of the Bienville, this made five blockade runners captured since May 24.  Not a bad haul of prize money.

--Old B-Runner

Thursday, May 25, 2017

May 28, 1862: Blockade Runner Nassau Captured Near Fort Caswell, N.C.

MAY 28TH, 1862:  The USS State of Georgia, Commander Armstrong, and USS Victoia, Acting Master Joshua D. Warren, captured steamer Nassau near Fort Caswell, North Carolina, running into Old Inlet of the Cape Fear River.

--Old B-Runner

May 27, 1862: USS Bienville Seizes a Blockade Runner in South Carolina

MAY 27, 1862:  The USS Bienville, Commander Mullany, seized blockade running British steamer Patras off Bull's Island, South Carolina with cargo of powder and arms.

--Old B-Runner

CSS Arkansas-- Part 2: Lt. Brown Puts a Rush On Completion

Nevertheless, with great energy to overcome shortages and difficulties of every nature, Lt. Brown completed the Arkansas, reinforced her bulwarks with cotton bales, and mounted a formidable  armament of 10 guns.

Lt. George W. Gift, CSN, who served in the ship later recorded that "within five weeks from the day we arrived at Yazoo City, we had a man-of-war (such as she was) from almost nothing -- the credit for all that belongs to Isaac Newton Brown, the commander of the vessel."

A number of Army artillerists volunteered to cat as gunners on board the ram.

--Old B-R'er

May 26, 1862: Lt. Brown, CSN, Ordered to Take Command of CSS Arkansas-- Part 1

MAY 26TH, 1862:  Lt. Isaac N. Brown, CSN, ordered to take command of the CSS Arkansas and "finish the vessel without regard to expenditure of men or money."

Captain Lynch after inspecting the unfinished ram reported to Secretary of Navy Mallory that:  "the Arkansas is very inferior to the Merrimac[k] in every particular.  The iron with which she is covered is worn and indifferent, taken from a railroad track, and is poorly secured to the vessel; boiler iron on stern and counter; her smoke-stack is sheet iron."

--Old B-Runner

May 25, 1862: Action at Charleston

MAY 25TH, 1862:  A Confederate gunboat under command of Captain F.N. Bonneau, guarding the bridge between James and Dixon islands, Charleston Harbor, exchanged fire with Union gunboats.

Captain Bonneau claimed several hits on the Union gunboats.

I will not be posting for several days, so will go ahead on the chronology.

--Old B-Runner

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

May 24, 1862: USS Bienville Captures a Blockade Runner

MAY 24TH, 1862:  The USS Bienville, Commander Mullany, captured British blockade runner Stettin off Charleston, S.C..

--Old B-Runner

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

USS Heliotrope-- Part 2: Activity in Virgina

The complement of the Heliotrope is not known.  It was 134 feet long with a 24.6 foot beam and, important for operating in shallow rivers, just a 6.8 draught.

March 6-8, 1865, the Heliotrope participated in a joint expedition up the Rappahannock River to Fredericksburg where it destroyed railroad facilities, tracks and army supply depots.

After that the Heliotrope continued to patrol the Potomac River.  On March 16, with other gunboats, it sent small boats with about 60 men up Mattox Creek and captured three schooners and various types of supplies were taken or destroyed.

The ship continued its work until mid-April when it steamed top New York City and arrived April 20, 1865.   This is probably how black crewman Thomas Jefferson Davis ended up in the New York City area.

It was decommissioned on January 12, 1866, and was sold 17 June to the Department of the Treasury for use in the Lighthouse Service.

--Old B-Runner

Monday, May 22, 2017

May 22, 1862: The USS Whitehead Captures Another Ship

MAY 22ND, 1862:  The USS Whitehead, Acting master French, captured the sloop Ella D off Keel's Creek, N.C., with cargo of salt.

--Old B-Runner

Friday, May 19, 2017

May 21, 1862: Boat Expedition in North Carolina

MAY 21ST, 1862:  Boat expedition from the USS Hunchback, Acting Lt. Calhoun, and the USS Whitehead, Acting Master French, captured schooner Winter Shrub in Keel's Creek, North Carolina, with cargo of fish.

--Old B-Runner

May 20, 1862: Action on the Stono River, S.C.

MAY 20TH, 1862:  Union gunboats occupied the Stono River above Cole's Island, South Carolina, and shelled Confederate positions there.  Flag Officer Du Pont reported to Secretary of the Navy Welles:  "The Unadilla, Pembina, and Ottawa, under Commander Marchand ... succeeded in entering Stono and proceeded up the river above the old Fort opposite Legareville.

"On their approach the barracks were fired and deserted by the enemy....  This important base of operations, the Stono, has thus been secured for further operations by the army against Charleston...."

--Old B-Runner

USS Heliotrope-- Part 1

On May 2, I wrote about a house for sale on Long island, New York, that also had the grave of black Union sailor Thomas Jefferson Davis who had served during the war on the USS Heliotrope.  I'd never heard of it, so went to good old Wikipedia.

The USS Heliotrope was 239 tons, 134 feet long steamer armed with a 12-pdr. cannon which served as a tug.

It was originally the Maggie Baker before being bought in New York City and commissioned 24 April 1864.

It was assigned to the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron and proceeded to Hampton Roads, Virginia, where it served as a tug and ordnance ship.  It occasionally patrolled up the James River.

January 23, 1865, it was transferred to the Potomac Flotilla.

--Old B-Runner

Thursday, May 18, 2017

May 18, 1862: Union Demand for Surrender of Vicksburg Refused

MAY 18TH, 1862:  Commander S.P. Lee submitted a demand from Flag Officer Farragut and General Butler for the surrender of Vicksburg; Confederate authorities refused and a year-long land and water assault on the stronghold began.

As Flag Officer Du Pont observed:  "The object is to have Vicksburg and the entire possession of the river in all its length and shores."

--Old B-Runner

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

May 17, 1862: Expedition Up the Pamunkey River in Virginia

MAY 17TH, 1862:  A joint expedition including the USS Sebago, Lt. Murray and USS Currituck, Acting Master Shankland, with troops embarked on the transport Seth Low at the request of General McClellan ascended the Pamunkey River to twenty-five miles above White House, Virginia.

Confederates burned seventeen vessels, some loaded with coal and commissary stores.  The river was so narrow at this point that the Union gunboats were compelled to return stern foremost for several miles.

General McClellan reported that the "expedition was admirably managed, and all concerned deserve great credit."

--Old B-Runner

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

April 1862 Was a Particularly Bad Month for the Confederacy

As I was writing the posts for the naval aspects of the war last month, I came to believe this was a particularly bad from for the Southern States in secession from the United States.

There was a huge Union buildup on the Virginia Peninsula as McClellan was to lead an attack on Richmond.

The Battle of Shiloh was lost.

Island No. 10 on the Mississippi River was lost.

Fort Pulaski, guarding Savannah, Georgia, surrendered.

Farragut passed Forts Jackson and St. Philip, defending New Orleans and the city surrendered the next day.

Fort Macon in North Carolina surrendered.

Enough To Knock You Flat.  --Old B-R'er

May 16, 1862: Grand Gulf Shelled

MAY 16TH, 1862:  The Union naval squadron under Commander S.P. Lee in the USS Oneida, advancing up the Mississippi River toward Vicksburg, shelled Grand Gulf, Mississippi.

--Old B-Runner

Monday, May 15, 2017

Union Ships Attack Drewry's Bluff

In the battle, the USS Galena was heavily damaged.

But, unsupported, Union Commander John Rodgers and his ships had penetrated the James River to within eight miles of Richmond before falling back.

Rodgers stated at this time that troops were needed to take Drewry's Bluff in the rear.

Had this been done, Richmond might well have fallen.

--Old B-R'er

May 15, 1862: Union Ships Move Against Drewry's Bluff

MAY 15TH, 1862:  The Union James River Flotilla, including the USS Monitor, Galena, Aroostook, Port Royal and Naugatuck, under Commander J. Rodgers, encountered obstructions sunk across the river and at close range hotly engaged sharpshooters and strong Confederate batteries, manned in part by sailors and Marines, at Drewry's Bluff, Virginia.

For his part in this action, Corporal John B. Mackie, a member of the Galena's Marine Guard, was cited for gallantry in a letter to the Secretary of the Navy Welles; in Department of the Navy General Order 17, issued on 10 July 1863, Mackie was awarded the first Medal of Honor authorized to a member of the Marine Corps.

--Old B-Runner

Saturday, May 13, 2017

May 14, 1862: USS Calhoun Captures Schooner in Lake Pontchartrain

MAY 14TH, 1862:  The USS Calhoun, Lieutenant DeHaven, captured the schooner Venice in Lake Pontchartrain with cargo of cotton.

--Old B-R'er

Robert Smalls Seizes the Confederate Steamer Planter-- Part 2

"After getting beyond the range of the last guns she quickly hauled down the rebel flags and hoisted a white one.... The steamer is quite a valuable acquisition to the squadron...."

Du Pont added in a letter to senator Grimes:  "You should have heard his [Smalls'] modest reply when i asked him what was said of the carry away of general Ripley's barge  sometime ago.  He said they made a great fuss but perhaps they would make more 'to do' when they heard of the steamer having been brought out."

--Old B-Runner

May 13, 1862: Confederate Steamer Planter Seized at Charleston by Robert Smalls-- Part 1

MAY 13TH, 1862:  The Confederate steamer Planter, with her captain ashore, was taken out of Charleston Harbor by an entirely black crew under Robert Smalls and turned over to the USS Onward, Acting Lt. Nickels, of the blockading Union squadron.

"At 4 in the morning," Flag Officer Du Pont reported, "...she left her wharf close to the Government office and headquarters, with palmetto and Confederate flag flying, passed the successive forts, saluting as usual by blowing her steam whistle."

Quite a Brave Accomplishment.  --Old B-R'er

May 12, 1862: CSS Virginia's Crew to Establish Battery at Drewry's Bluff

MAY 12TH, 1862:  Officers and crew of the CSS Virginia were ordered to report to Commander Farrand to establish a battery below Drewry's Bluff on the left bank of the James River to prevent the ascent of Union gunboats.

The battery was to be organized and commanded by Lt. Catesby ap R. Jones.

--Old B-Runner

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Fort Fisher Artillery Program This Saturday, May 13

From the May 2017 News release of the friends of Fort Fisher.

The program is called "Deadly Showers of Cast Iron" and will be given Saturday, May 13.

The newly refurbished 32-pounder rifled and banded heavy seacoast cannon will be fired throughout the day from Shepherd's Battery and, there will even be a nighttime firing demonstration.  The cannon was refurbished this past fall by funds from the Friends of Fort Fisher and a grant from the Society of the Order of the Southern Cross.

Firings of the cannon will be free and at 10 a.m., noon, 2, 4:40 and 4:45.  The night time firing will be at 8 p.m. and will cost $5.  Afterwards a replica of the Fort Fisher garrison flag flown over Shepherd's Battery will be raffled.  Winner must be present.

Sure Wish I Could be There.  --Old B-Runner

Dedication At Fort Fisher Recreation Area

From the May 6, 2017, WECT CBS News, Wilmington, N.C., "Dedication event set for Fort Fisher recreation area project."

It will take place May 12, at 2 p.m. and will provide improvements to restrooms at the site, located by Fort Fisher State Historic Site.  Also, picnic facilities will be improved.

This is part of the Connect North Carolina bond referendum which was approved last year.

--Old B-R'er

May 11, 1862: CSS Virginia Blown Up

MAY 11TH, 1862:  The CSS Virginia was blown up by her crew off Craney Island to avoid capture.  The fall of Norfolk to Union forces denied the Virginia her base, and when it was discovered that she drew too much water to be brought up the James River, Flag Officer Tattnall ordered the celebrated ironclad's destruction.

"This perished the Virginia," Tattnall wrote, "and with her many highflown hopes of naval supremacy and success."

For the Union, the end of the Virginia not only removed the formidable threat to the large base at Fort Monroe, but gave Flag Officer Goldsborough's fleet free passage up the James River as far as Drewry's Bluff, a factor which was to save the Peninsular Campaign from probable disaster.

I think it is too bad that the Virginia did not attack the Union fleet or fortifications, maybe make a dash up the Potomac to Washington, D.C., in one last hurrah.  Better to go down fighting than just meekly blowing it up.. Had Franklin Buchanan still been in command, I think he would have taken this action.

--Pld B-Runner

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Over 3000 Posts for This Blog Now.

This post marks  the 3036th I've made since beginning this blog.

Running the Blockade evolved out of my Saw the Elephant Civil War blog, which had come out of my Cooter's History Thing blog and that had come out of my Down Da Road I Go Blog.

My primary interest in the Civil War is its naval aspect and especially anything dealing with Fort Fisher.

I've got to find better ways to spend my time.

Oh Well.  --Old B-R'er

May 10, 1862: Norfolk and Norfolk Navy Yard Captured

MAY 10TH, 1862:  The Norfolk Navy Yard was set afire before being evacuated by Confederate forces in a general withdrawal up the peninsula to defend Richmond.

Union troops under Major General Wool crossed Hampton Roads from Fort Monroe, landed at Ocean View, and captured Norfolk.

A Blow to the South.  --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

May 9, 1862: Lincoln Still Directing Activity in Virginia

MAY 9TH, 1862:  President Lincoln himself, after talking to pilots and studying charts, reconnoitered to the eastward of Sewell's Point and found a suitably unfortified landing site near Willoughby Point.  The troops embarked in transports at night.

The next morning they landed near the site selected by the President.  The president, still aboard his command ship, the Miami, ordered the USS Monitor to reconnoiter Sewell's Point to learn if the batteries were still manned.

When he found the works abandoned, President Lincoln ordered Major General Wool's troops to march on Norfolk, where they arrived late on the afternoon of the 10th.

--Old B-R'er

May 8, 1862: Baton Rouge, La. Seized

MAY 8TH, 1862:  Landing party from the USS Iroquois, Commander James S. Palmer, seized the arsenal and took possession of Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

--Old B-Runner

Lincoln Instructs Goldsborough Further: Send the USS Galena

MAY 8TH, 1862:  President Lincoln, still acting as Commander-In-Chief in the field, also directed Flag Officer Goldsborough:  "If you have tolerable confidence that you can successfully contend with te Merrimack without the help of the Galena and two accompanying gunboats, send the Galena and two gunboats up the James River at once" to support General McClellan.

This wise use of power afloat by the  President silenced two shore batteries and forced the gunboats CSS Jamestown and Patrick Henry to return up the James River.

--Old B-R'er

Lincoln Writes to Flag Officer L.M. Goldsborough

MAY 8TH, 1862:  Two days later, President Lincoln wrote Flag Officer Goldsborough:  "I send you this copy of your report of yesterday for the purpose of saying to you in writing that you are quite right in supposing the movement made by you and therein reported was made in accordance with my wishes verbally expressed to you in advance.

"I avail myself of the occasion to thank you for your courtesy and all your conduct, so far as known to me, during my brief visit here."

Lincoln was acting in his role as commander-in-chief in this instance and took personal command.

--Old B-Runner

Monday, May 8, 2017

Sewell's Point, Va., Shelled-- Part 2: A Plan to Attack the CSS Virginia

Whatever rumors President Lincoln had received about the Confederates abandoning Norfolk were now confirmed; a tug deserted from Norfolk and brought news that the evacuation was well underway and that the CSS Virginia and her accompanying small gunboats planned to proceed up the James River or York River.

It was planned that when the Virginia came out, as she had on the 7th, the Union fleet would retire with the USS Monitor in the rear hoping to draw the powerful but under-engined warship into deep water where she might be rammed by high speed steamers.

The bombardment showed that the defenses at Sewell's Point were reduced, but still powerful.

The Virginia came out, but not far enough to be rammed.

--More to Come.  --Old B-Runner

May 8, 1862: USS Monitor Shells Sewell's Point, Va.-- Part 1

MAY 8TH, 1862:  The USS Monitor, Dacotah, Naugatuck, Seminole and Susquehanna-- "by direction of the President"-- shelled Confederate batteries at Sewell's Point, Virginia, as Flag Officer L. M. Goldsborough reported, "mainly with the view of ascertaining the practicability of landing a body of troops thereabouts" to move on Norfolk.

--Old B-Runner


Saturday, May 6, 2017

May 6-7, 1862: Action on the York and Pamunkey Rivers, Va.

MAY 6-7TH, 1862:  The USS Wachusett, Commander W. Smith, USS Chocura and Sebago escorted Army transports up the York River, supported the landing at West Point, Virginia, and countered a Confederate attack with accurate gunfire.

The USS Currituck, Acting master William F. Shankland, sent on a reconnaissance of the Pamunkey River by Smith on the 6th, captured the American Coaster and Planter the next day.

Shankland reported that some twenty schooners had been sunk and two gunboats burned by the Confederates above West Point.

--Old B-Runner

May 6, 1862: Blockade Runners Captured

MAY 6TH, 1862:  The USS Calhoun, Lt. DeHaven, captured steamer Whiteman on Lake Pontchartrain, Louisiana.

**  The USS Ottawa, Lt. J. Blakely Creighton, captured schooner General C. C. Pinckney off Charleston.

--Old B-Runner

Friday, May 5, 2017

May 5, 1862: Lincoln Goes to Hampton Roads to Personally Direct the Stalled Peninsular Campaign

MAY 5TH, 1862:  President Lincoln, with secretaries Stanton and Chase on board, proceeded to Hampton Roads on steamer Miami to personally direct the stalled Peninsular Campaign.

The following day, Lincoln informed Flag Officer L. M. Goldsborough:  "I shall be found either at General Wool's [Fort Monroe] or on board the Miami."

The President directed gunboat operations in the James River and the bombardment of Sewell's Point by the blockading squadron in the five days he acted as Commander-In-Chief in the field.

--Old-B-Runner

Thursday, May 4, 2017

USS Maria J. Carlton-- Part 3: Was It Salvaged?

Continued from April 20, 2017.

There was a post in Civil War Talk by Mike d.

He said that a rifled shot from Fort Jackson struck the Carlton's quarterdeck a broke a beam, passing through the magazine and out the ship's starboard quarter.  The crew immediately set signals that the ship was disabled.

He found no mention of the 13-inch mortar or shells being removed after the ship sank.;

From 1982 to 1987, Ray Saltus used a mag drag in the area, but made no positive hits.

Mike d wants to know if anyone knows whether or not the Maria J. Carlton was salvaged or if the mortar was ever recovered.

Later, he added that the Carlton's commander when it sank, Master C.E. Jack, also commanded another mortar ship named the Sidney C. Jones, which he had to burn on 15 July 1862, below Vicksburg.

Right Up There With Selfridge Sinking Ships.  --Old B-Runner

May 4, 1862: Gloucester Point and Fort Pike Captured

MAY 4TH, 1862:  Boat crew from the USS Wachusett, Commander W. Smith, raised the United States flag at Gloucester Point, Virginia, after General McClellan's troops occupied Yorktown; two Confederate schooners were captured.

**  The USS Calhoun, Lt. Joseph E. DeHaven, captured sloop Charles Henry off St. Joseph, Louisiana, and raised the United States flag over Fort Pike, which had been evacuated.

--Old B-Runner

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

May 3, 1862:USS R. R. Cuyler Captures a Blockade-Runner

MAY 3RD, 1862:  The USS R. R. Cuyler, Lt. F. Winslow, captured the schooner Jane off Tampa Bay, Florida, with cargo including lead.

--Old B-Runner

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Two-House Property For Sale, Includes Black Civil War Sailor's Grave

From the March 24, 2017, Newsday (Long island, NY)  by Danny Schrafel.

Two houses on a lot are listed at $2.2 million on 3.2 acres.  This also includes the grave of Thomas Jefferson Davis at the rear of the property.

He enlisted in the Union Navy on April 15, 1865 and served on the USS Heliotrope, a wooden steamboat that was part of the Potomac Flotilla.

The VFW comes out every Memorial Day and puts a new flag on his grave.  I was unable to find out any more information on him, but it would be interesting to find out how he came to be buried there.

--Old B-R'er

May 2, 1862: USS Restless Captures a Blockade-Runner

MAY 2ND, 1862:  The USS Restless, Acting Lt.  Conroy, captured British blockade runner Flash off the coast of South Carolina.

--Old B-Runner

Monday, May 1, 2017

Fort Livingston, Louisiana-- Part 2: Built On a Pirate Hideout

In the early 19th century, Grand Terre Island was the home to pirates under Lafitte.

The fort was begun in 1834, but work soon stopped.  It resumed in 1841 under the direction of Major P.G.T. Beauregard, U.S. Army.  A lighthouse was added in 1856.  Construction was stooped by the Civil War and never resumed after that.

It was occupied temporarily by Confederates and used to protect blockade runners using the Barataria Pass..  At one time, the fort had four companies, comprising 300 men along with 15 cannons.  It was abandoned after the fall of New Orleans to Farragut.

Most of the fort was destroyed by a hurricane in 1872 and most of its guns removed in 1889.  One whole side is gone and it is only accessible by boat.

--Old B-R'er

Fort Livingston, Louisiana-- Part 1: Named for Edward Livingston

On April 27, 2017, I posted about the surrender of this fort in Louisiana on April 27, 1862. .  I had never heard of it before.  I was familiar with Forts Jackson and St. Philip, but not this one.

From Wikipedia.

Fort Livingston is a 19th century coastal defense fort located at Grand Terre Island in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana.  It was named for Edward Livingston, one-time mayor of New York City, U.S. senator from Louisiana and U.S. Secretary of State under President Andrew Jackson.

It was listed on the NRHP in 1974.

Today, part of the fort still stands but is mostly in ruins.

--Old B-Runner

May 1, 1862: Capturing Blockade Runners

MAY 1ST, 1862:  The USS Hatteras, Commander Emmons, captured schooner Magnolia near Berwick Bay, Louisiana, with cargo of cotton.

**  The USS Jamestown, Commander Green, captured British blockade runner Intended off the coast of North Carolina with a cargo of salt, coffee and medicines.

**   The USS Huron, Lt. Downes, captured schooner Albert off Charleston.

--Old B-Runner

Friday, April 28, 2017

Fort Fisher to Observe Confederate Memorial Day Saturday, April 29

From the April 20, 2017, North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural resources.

The public is invited to attend the ceremony on Saturday, April 29, 2017, at 10 a.m. at the Confederate statue at Battle Acre at Fort Fisher.

The event is hosted by the Fort Fisher State Historical Site and the Fort Fisher Chapter 2325 United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC).

A new historical marker will be dedicated by UDC North Carolina Division President Peggy W. Johnson.

John M. Mosely, Assistant Site Manager at the fort will be the featured speaker and will address the attributes of the character of Confederate soldiers, sailors and Marines serving at Fort Fisher.

A color guard of the Columbus Volunteers Camp 794, Sons of Confederate Veterans will present the colors.  There will also be a canteen ceremony and local historical organizations will place wreaths at the base of the Confederate monument.

I am sure my Friends of Fort Fisher and Federal Point Historical Society will also be there.

--Old B-Runner

April 30, 1862: USS Santiago de Cuba Captures a Blockade Runner

APRIL 30TH, 1862:  The USS Santiago de Cuba, Commander Ridgley, captured schooner Maria of Port Royal, South Carolina.

--Old B-Runner

April 29, 1862: Action on the Dawho River, S.C.

APRIL 29TH, 1862:  Expedition under Lt. Alexander C. Rhind in the USS E. B. Hale landed and destroyed a Confederate battery at Grimball's, Dawho River, South Carolina, and exchanged fire with field pieces near Slann's Bluff.

--Old B-R'er

April 28, 1862: Forts Jackson and St. Philip Surrender

APRIL 28TH, 1862:  Forts Jackson and St. Philip, isolated since being  passed by Flag Officer Farragut's  fleet and the fall of New Orleans, surrendered to the Navy; the terms of capitulation were signed on board the USS Harriet Lane, Commander David Dixon Porter's flagship.

The CSS Louisiana, Defiance and McRae were destroyed to prevent their capture.

--Old B-Runner

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Ryder Lewis Park, Carolina Beach, N.C.

The federal Point Historical Preservation Society put out a bulletin last week alerting members that the proposed Ryder Lewis Park, across US-421 from it and the Carolina Beach Municipal building, was on the agenda for the town council's meeting at 6 p.m. on April 25, 2017.

A park is proposed for the site which also contains part of the Confederate Sugar Loaf defensive line which came into play after the fall of Fort Fisher.

Here's hoping this park comes to be.  Right now, the land is fairly unusable.

--Old B-R'er

April 27, 1862: Fort Livingston in Louisiana Surrenders

APRIL 27TH, 1862:  Fort Livingston, Bastian Bay, Louisiana, surrendered to the Navy.  Boat crew from the USS Kittatinny raised the United States flag over the fort.

--Old B-Runner

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

April 26,1862: Farragut Gives Thanks

APRIL 26TH, 1862:  Flag Officer Farragut, from his flagship USS Hartford, issued a general order after his victory at New Orleans:  "Eleven o'clock this morning is the hour appointed for all the officers and crews of the fleet to return thanks to Almighty God for His great goodness and mercy in permitting to us to pass through the events of the last two days with so little loss of life and blood,

"At that hour the church pennant will be hoisted on every vessel of the fleet, and their crews assembled in humiliation and prayer, make their acknowledgements therefor to the great dispenser of all human events."

--Old B-Runner

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

New Orleans Surrenders-- Part 2: A Major Blow to the Confederacy

With the rapid capitulation of Forts Jackson and St. Philip, the delta of the Mississippi was open to the water-borne movement of Union forces which were free to steam upriver to join those coming south in the great pincer which would sever the Confederacy/

"Thus," reported Union Secretary of Navy Welles, "the great southern depot of the trade of the immense central valley of the Union was once more opened to commercial intercourse and the emporium of that wealthy region was restored to national authority; the mouth of the Mississippi was under our control and an outlet for the great West to the ocean was secured."

The only problem, however, was that the Confederacy still held vital points along the river, and until they were captured, the Union didn't control the whole river, but this was a big step.

And, the North now had quite the Naval Hero in Farragut.

--Old B-Runner

April 25, 1862: New Orleans Surrenders-- Part 1

APRIL 25, 1862:  Flag Officer Farragut's fleet, having silenced Confederate batteries at Chalmette en route, anchored before New Orleans.  High water in the river allowed the ships' guns to dominate the city over the levee top.

Captain Bailey went ashore to demand the surrender.  The Common Council of New Orleans resolved that:  "...having been advised by the military authorities that the city is indefensible, [we] declare that no resistance will be made to the forces of the United States."

The loss of New Orleans, the largest and wealthiest seaport in the South, was a critical blow to the Confederacy.

And, now, They Take Down their Confederate Monuments.  --Old B-Runner

Monday, April 24, 2017

Farragut Runs Past Forts Jackson and St. Philip-- Part 2

APRIL 24TH, 1864:  The USS Varuna was rammed by two Confederate ships and sunk.  In the ensuing melee, the CSS Warrior, Stonewall Jackson, General Lovell, and Breckinridge, tender Phoenix, steamers Star and Belle Algerine and Louisiana gunboat General Quitman were destroyed.

The armored ram CSS Manassas was driven ashore by the USS Mississippi and sunk.  Steam tenders CSS Landis and W. Burton surrendered; Resolute and Governor Moore were destroyed to prevent capture.

"The destruction of the Navy at New Orleans," wrote Confederate Secretary of Navy Mallory, "was a sad, sad blow...."

When the Union Navy passed the forts and disposed of the Confederate forces afloat, the fate of New Orleans was decided.  Farragut had achieved a brilliant victory, one which gave true meaning to Farragut's own words:  "The great man in our country must not only plan but execute."

He Sure Did.  Now, On the Anniversary of This, the Confederate monuments in New Orleans Begin to Come Down.  A Double Sad Day in New Orleans History.  --Old B-R'er

April 24, 1862: Farragut Runs Past Forts Jackson and St. Philip-- Part 1

APRIL 24TH, 1862:  Flag Officer Farragut's fleet ran past Forts Jackson and St. Philip and engaged the defending Confederate flotilla.  At 2:00 a.m., the USS Hartford had shown Farragut's signal for the fleet to get underway in three divisions to steam through the breach in the obstructions which had been opened earlier by the USS Pinola and Itasca.

A withering fire from the forts was answered by roaring broadsides from the forts.  The Hartford grounded in the swift current by Fort St. Philip, was set afire by a Confederate firecraft.  Farragut's leadership and the disciplined training of the crew saved the flagship.

A Sad Day for the Confederacy.  April Was Not a Nice Month.  --Old B-Runner

Friday, April 21, 2017

April 23, 1862: News From Fort Jackson Under Bombardment

APRIL 23RD, 1862:  Brigadier General Duncan, the commander of Fort Jackson, wrote General Lowell in New Orleans:  "Heavy and continued bombardment all night, and still progressing.  No further casualties, except two men slightly wounded.

"God is certainly protecting us.  We are still cheerful, and have an abiding faith in our ultimate success.  We are making repairs as best we can.  Our barbette guns are still in working order.  Most of them have been disabled at times.

"The health of the troops continues good.  twenty-five thousand [actually about five thousand] XIII-inch shells have been fired by the enemy, thousands of which fell in the fort.  They must soon exhaust themselves; if not, we can stand it as long as they can."

Getting near the End, Though.  --Old B-R'er

April 22, 1862: Action At Aransas Pass, Texas

APRIL 22ND, 1862:  Two boats from the USS Arthur, Acting Lt. Kittredge, captured a schooner and two sloops at Aransas Pass, Texas, but were forced to abandon the prizes and their own boats when attacked by Confederate vessels and troops.

Always Seems It Should Be Arkansas Pass To Me.  --Old B-Runner

Clearing the New Orleans Obstructions-- Part 2

Farragut continued:  "They let the chain go, but the man sent to explode the petard did not succeed; his wires broke.  Bell would have burned the hulks, but the illumination would have given the enemy a chance to destroy his gunboat, which had got aground.

"However, the chain was divided and it gives us space enough to go through."

Preparing to Attack.  --Old B-R'er

April 21, 1862: Farragut Writes About His Delay In Attacking New Orleans-- Part 1

APRIL 21ST, 1862:  Flag Officer Farragut explained the delay in the attack on New Orleans:  "We have been bombarding the forts for three or four days, but the current is running so strong that we cannot stem it sufficiently to do anything with our ships, so that I am now waiting a change of wind, which brings a slacker tide, and we shall be enabled to run up....

"Captain Bell went last night to cut the chain across the river.  I never felt such anxiety in my life as I did until his return.  One of his vessels got on shore, and I was fearful she would be captured.  They kept up a tremendous fire on him; but Porter diverted their fire with a heavy cannonade."

--Old B-Runner

Thursday, April 20, 2017

USS Maria J. Carlton-- Part 2: Sunk Near Fort Jackson on the Mississippi River

The Maria J. carlton was assigned to the mortar flotilla at New Orleans and got underway for that spot in mid-February.  It ran into a heavy gale off Cape Hatteras which carried away the ship's mainmast, rigging and sails.  It arrived at station 18 March 1862.


It operated in the 2nd Division of Porter's Mortar Flotilla.

On the second day of the mortar bombardment, April 19, 1862, a Confederate shell struck her magazine and tore a large hole in the ship's bottom and it quickly sank.

Two crew members were wounded.

--Old B-R'er

April 20, 1862: Union Ships Breach Fort Jackson Obstructions

APRIL 20TH, 1862:  The USS Itasca, Lt. Caldwell, and USS Pinola, Lt. Crosby, under the direction of Commander Bell, breached the obstructions below Forts Jackson and St. Philip under heavy fire, opening the way for Flag Officer Farragut's fleet.

Brigadier General Johnson K. Duncan, CSA, commanding the forts, complained that the River Defense Fleet had sent no fire rafts down "to light up the river or distract the attention of the enemy at night" and had stationed no ship below top warn of the approach of the Itasca and Pinola.

This lack of coordination proved most costly to the Confederacy.

--Old B-Runner

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

USS Maria J. Carlton-- Part 1: Mortar Boat

From Wikipedia.

I had never heard of this ship before.  In the last post I wrote that this ship was sunk while engaged with Fort Jackson guarding New Orleans.

The Maria J. Carlton was a schooner acquired by the U.S. Navy and used as a mortar boat, fitted with a 13-inch mortar and two 12-pdr. rifled howitzers.  It was 178 tons, 98 feet long and 27-foot beam.

Mortars could fire up and above a target instead of directly at it..

It was purchased at Middletown, Ct. on 15 October 1861 and converted at New York Navy Yard.  Commissioned 29 January 1862 with Acting master Charles E. jack commanding.

--Old B-R'er

April 19, 1862: Union Mortar Boat Maria J. Carlton Sunk

APRIL 19TH, 1862:  Mortar schooner USS Maria J. Carlton, Acting Master Charles E. Jack, bombarding Fort Jackson, was sunk by Confederate fire.

Commander Bell observed that the Confederate guns were being worked "beautifully and with effect."

--Old B-Runner

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Major William C. Clemens At Fort Fisher-- Part 4: With Lincoln in Richmond

Major Clemens was one of four men guarding President Lincoln when he visited Richmond, Virginia, shortly after the fall of the Confederate capital.

In a letter written after Lincoln's assassination, Clemens wrote:  "Here it is!  Here it is!  I can hardly realize the fact that the president is dead, as it has only been a few days since I had the pleasure of entering Richmond with him and passing as he did safely through the city without any protection whatever."

After the war, he was a bookkeeper for the Lehigh Valley Coal Company.  He died June 2, 1894 in Pottsville, Pennsylvania and is buried in the Church of Brethern Cemetery in Germantown, Philadelphia County.

--Old B-R'er

April 18, 1862: Mortar Boats Open Fire on Fort Jackson

APRIL 18TH, 1862:  Union mortar boats under Commander D.D, Porter, began a five-day bombardment of Fort Jackson.  Moored some 3,000 yards from the fort, they concentrated their heavy shells, some weighing up to 285 pounds, for six days and nights at the nearest fort from which they were hidden by intervening woods.

The garrison heroically endured the fire and stuck to their guns.

--Old B-Runner

Monday, April 17, 2017

Major William C. Clemens at Fort Fisher-- Part 3: "We Have Possession"

Continuing with Major Clemens' letter from Fort Fisher.

"...At daylight we, that is the navy, commenced shelling the Fort and after a vigorous shelling until about two o'clock the troops as well as a force of sailors and marines made an assault upon the works..

"The advance was badly cut up whilst the sailors and canals were driven back with heavy loss but the soldiers kept steadily forward gaining traverse after traverse of the Fort until finally at eleven p.m. the signal was made to me 'Cease firing on the fort as we have possession.'

"The fighting has been severe and hard and many a poor fellow has gone to his last home but we have possession of Fort Fisher but I can not say anything about the balance of the works beyond although it is natural to suppose that it is all a victory."

Word From the Front.  --Old B-Runner

Friday, April 14, 2017

Farragut Prepares to Attack the Forts Guarding New Orleans

Most of the other ships in Mitchell's squadron were small, makeshift gunboats.  There was also a number of fire rafts readied to be set afire and set adrift to flow with the current into the midst of the wooden Union fleet.

Against these combined defenses, Farragut, flying his flag on the USS Hartford, brought seventeen ships carrying 154 guns and a squadron of 20 mortar boats under Commander D.D. Porter.

--Old B-Runer

April 16, 1862: Farragut Moves His Fleet In for Attack on Forts Jackson and St. Philip-- Part 1


APRIL 16TH, 1862:  Flag Officer Farragut, after careful planning and extensive preparations, moved his fleet up the Mississippi to a position below Forts Jackson and St. Philip, guarding the approaches to New Orleans and mounting over 100 guns.

High water in the river had flooded the forts.  Confederate garrisons worked night and day to control the water and strengthen the forts against the impending attack.  A chain obstruction supported by ship hulks spanned the river.

Above the forts a Confederate flotilla under Flag Officer John K. Mitchell, included the potentially powerful but uncompleted ironclad Louisiana.

--Old B-Runner

April 15, 1862: Blockade Runner Captured Odd S.C.


APRIL 15TH, 1862:  The USS Keystone State, Commander LeRoy, captured blockade runner Success off Georgetown, South Carolina.

The Success Wasn't So Successful.  --Old B-R'er

April 14, 1862: Union Mortar Boats Commence Bombardment on Fort Pillow

APRIL 14TH, 1862:  Union mortar boats of Flag Officer Foote's force commenced regular bombardment of Fort Pillow, Tennessee -- the next Army-Navy objective on the Union's drive down the Mississippi River.

--Old B-Runner

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Major William Clemens-- Part 2: At Fort Fisher

In December 1864 and January 1865, Major Clemens served as chief signal officer to Admiral David D. Porter in the two attacks on Fort Fisher.  He was also one of the soldiers who escorted President Lincoln when he visited Richmond in April 1865, shortly after the Confederate capital was evacuated.

During the attacks on Fort Fisher, he was aboard the admiral's flagship, the USS Malvern.  It was his job to coordinate signals between the Army force ashore and the naval units.

Around midnight, January 16, 1865. he wrote his father:  "I am in the midst of excitement and am so completely worn out and tired that it would be impossible for me to write much.  We have been fighting all day (January 15) and fighting hard and I have been kept busy from daylight until now and even now I may be called at any moment to receive messages."

--Old B-R'er

April 13, 1862: Recon of Mississippi River Below the Forts

APRIL 13TH, 1862:  Coast Survey party under Ferdinand H. Gerdes, begins surveying the Mississippi River below Forts Jackson and St. Philip.  Harassed by fire from the forts and riflemen on the river banks, Gerdes' party worked for five days to provide Flag Officer Farragut with a reliable map of the river, forts, water batteries and obstructions across the river.

In Preparation for the Attack.  --Old B-Runner

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Major William Clemens, Signal Officer, Assisted the Navy at Fort Fisher-- Part 1

From the December 8, 2016, Harrisburg (Pa.) Herald "Civil War soldier's letters donated to Schuykill County Historical Society" by Stephen J. Pytak.

Major William W. Clemens, of Pottsville, Pennsylvania, wrote numerous letters home.  On Friday, October 7, 2017, Mary Jean Pelham, 82, of Ellington, Connecticut, dropped off 172 letters, some as long as 3-4-5 pages.

He was born in Pottsville on November 21, 1838, and Clemens graduated from West Chester Academy in April 1861.  He joined the Washington Artillerists as a private and marched with the Pennsylvania First defenders to defend Washington, D.C..  They arrived at Harrisburg on April 18, 1861.

--Old B-R'er

Well, There Were Weeki Wachee Mermaids at Fort Fisher Last Month

Still looking for information on this Fort Fisher Mermaid, but, while searching, I did come across mention that the world-famous Weeki Wachee Mermaids were at the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher back on March 3-5 and March10-12, 2017.

I really don't think these were the mermaids in question from yesterday's post.

Smells Fishy to Me.  --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The Fort Fisher Mermaid?

I came across mention of this Fort Fisher Mermaid as being located at the North Carolina Museum of the Bizarre in Wilmington.

I was unable to find our anything at all about it other than one source saying the mermaid is a Cape Fear local legend.

The museum is located at 201 S. Water Street, next to the Cape Fear Serpentarium.

Next Time There, I Will Have to Check This Mermaid Out.  --Old B-Maid

April 11, 1862: Fort Pulaski Surrenders

APRIL 11TH, 1862:  Fort Pulaski, Georgia, guarding Savannah, surrendered after enduring an intensive two-day bombardment by Union artillery.  Commander C.R.P. Rodgers and a detachment of sailors from the USS Wabash manned Battery Sigel on the second day of the engagement and "kept up[ a steady and well-directed fire until the fort hauled down its flag, at 2 p.m.."

The Navy's gunners' participation in the action was at the invitation of Major General David Hunter, commander of the Army forces, and demonstrated once again the closeness of cooperation achieved by the two services.

But, this was primarily an Army operation.

--Old B-Runner


Monday, April 10, 2017

Fayetteville Civil War Museum To Have Wilmington Ties

From the September 16, 2016, Wilmington (N.C.) Star-News by Ben Steelman.

The new North Carolina Civil War History Center in Fayetteville, N.C., is slated to open in 2020.  Fundraising for the $65 million has already begun.  And, it will have ties to Wilmington, N.C..

David Winslow is senior consultant for it and has worked at fundraising for Thalian Hall, the Bellamy Mansion, USS North Carolina and Elderhaus (not sure what this is).  All of these, except perhaps the Elderhaus, are in Wilmington.

The new museum is built on the ruins of the former Confederate Fayetteville Arsenal which was burned to the ground by Union General Sherman in 1865 during his March Through the Carolinas.

$6.2 million has been raised so far, including $1 million from the state.  It already has been determined that an admission fee will be charged.

--Old B-R'er

April 10, 1862: Capturing Blockade-Runners

APRIL 10TH, 1862:  Gunboat USS Kanawha, Lt. John C. Febiger, captured blockade-running schooners Southern Independence, Victoria, Charlotte and Cuba off Mobile.

**  USS Whitehead, Acting Master Charles A. French, captured schooners Comet, J.J. Crittenden and sloop America in Newbegun Creek, North Carolina.  The sloop America was evidently not the yacht America of America's Cup fame.

**  USS Keystone State, Commander LeRoy, chased blockade-runner Liverpool, which ran aground outside North Inlet, S.C., and was destroyed by her crew.

--Old B-Runner

Friday, April 7, 2017

April 9, 1862: Flag Officer Hollins, CSN, Wants His Ships Moved to defense of New Orleans

APRIL 9TH, 1862:  Fllag Officer Hollins telegraphed Confederate Secretary of the Navy Mallory from Fort Pillow for authority to bring his force to the support of New Orleans.

Mallory, convinced that the serious threat to New Orleans would come from Flag Officer Foote's force in the upper Mississippi River rather than from Farragut's fleet below, denied Hollins' request.

--Old B-Runner

April 8, 1862: Lee Believes McClellan's Army Shifting Operations to the York River

APRIL 8TH, 1862:  General Robert E. Lee wrote Confederate Secretary of Navy Mallory:  "...it is my opinion that they [General McClellan's army] are endeavoring to change their base of operations from the James River to the York River.

"This change has no doubt been occasioned by their fear of the effect of the Virginia upon their shipping in the James.  General Magruder informs me that their gunboats and transports have appeared off Shipping Point, on the Poquosin, near the mouth of the York, where they intend, apparently, to establish a landing for stores, preparatory to moving against our lines at Yorktown."

That Scary Old CSS Virginia.  --Old B-Runner

April 7, 1862: Surrender of Island No. 10

APRIL 7TH, 1862:  Island No. 10, described by Brigadier General William W. Mackall, CSA, commanding the island, as "the key of the Mississippi," surrendered to the naval forces of Flag Officer Foote.  besides the heavy cannon and munitions captured, four steamers were taken and the gunboat CSS Grampus was sunk before the surrender.

Capture of Island No. 10 opened the Mississippi River to Union gunboats and transports as far south as Fort Pillow.

Congress tendered Flag Officer Foote a vote of thanks "for his eminent services and gallantry at Fort Henry, Fort Donelson, and Island No. 10, while in command of the naval forces of the United States."

Mobile naval strength had sealed the fate of the Confederacy on the upper Mississippi River, and was knifing into the heart of the South.

These Are Three Major Union Victories, Dooming the Confederacy North of Tennessee.  --Old B-R'er

April 7, 1862: The USS Pittsburg Runs Past Island No. 10

APRIL 7TH, 1862:  The USS Pittsburg, Lt. Egbert Thompson, ran past the batteries at Island No. 10 and joined the USS Carondelet below it in covering the crossing of Major General Pope's army to the Tennessee side of the Mississippi River to move against Island No. 10.

The General's words to Flag officer Foote attested to the importance he attached to naval support:  "...the lives of thousands of men and the success of our operations hang upon your decision.  With the two boats all is safe...."

--Old B-Runner

Thursday, April 6, 2017

April 6, 1862: USS Carondelet Makes Recon Down Mississippo

APRIL 6TH, 1862:  The USS Carondelet, Commander Walke, made a reconnaissance down the Mississippi River from New Madrid to Tiptonville, exchanging shots with shore batteries and landing to spike Confederate guns in preparation for covering the river crossing by Major General Pope's troops.

Once Pope's troops were across the river, it was just a matter of time before the Confederates on Island No. 10 would be forced to surrender.  Now, with the Carndelet south of the island, that crossing could take place.

--Old B-Runner

The Navy At the Battle of Shiloh-- Part 2: The Great Service of the U.S. Navy Gunboats

Fire from the two wooden gunboats helped maintain Union positions until reinforcements arrived, and the next day contributed to forcing the Confederate retreat.  "In this repulse," wrote Grant, "much is due to the presence of the gunboats."

General Beauregard, CSA, attributed the Confederate loss the following day in large part to the presence of the gunboats.  "During the night [of the 6th] the rain fell in torrents, adding to the discomforts and harassed condition of the men.

"The enemy, moreover, had broken their rest by a discharge at measured intervals of heavy shells thrown from the gunboats; therefore, on the following morning, the troops under my command were not in condition to cope with an equal force of fresh troops, armed and equipped like our adversary, in the immediate possession of his depots and sheltered by such an auxiliary as the enemy's gunboats."

One of the Army divisions at Shiloh was commanded by Major General Nelson, a former naval officer assigned to the Army, "who," Lt. Gwin observed, "greatly distinguished himself."  Gwin went on to report of the battle,  "I think this has been a crushing blow to the rebellion."

--Old B-R'er

April 6-7, 1862: Navy at the Battle of Shiloh-- Part 1

APRIL 6TH, 1862:  The USS Tyler, Lt. Gwin, and USS Lexington, Lt. Shirk, protected the advanced river flank of General Grant's army at the Battle of Shiloh (Pittsburg Landing) and slowed the initially successful attack of the Confederates.

Major General Polk, CSA, reported that the Confederate forces "were within from 150 to 400 yards of the enemy's position, and nothing seemed wanting to complete the most brilliant victory of the war but to press forward and make a vigorous assault on the demoralized remnant of his forces.

"At this juncture his gunboats dropped down the river, near the landing where his troops were collected, and opened a tremendous cannonade of shot and shell over the bank, in the direction from where our forces were approaching."

--Old B-Runner

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

A Walking Tour of Wilmington Features the Civil War Past-- Part 2

CASSIDEY SHIPYARD on Church Street by the Cape Fear River.  This is where the Confederate ironclad CSS Raleigh was constructed.  In April 1864 it scattered the Union blockading fleet off Fort fisher, but ran aground returning from the action and had to be destroyed.

The ironclad CSS Wilmington was under construction at the shipyard when the Union forces captured the city and was destroyed by Confederates while still on the stocks as they evacuated.

ROSE GREENHOW, famed Confederate spy, drowned off Fort Fisher when the blockade-runner she was on, the Condor, ran aground and her boat capsized while heading for the shore.  Her funeral was held at St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church on Dock Street between Second and Third streets.  She is buried at Oakdale Cemetery.

--Old B-R'er

April 5, 1862: Farragut Does a Recon

APRIL 5TH, 1862:  Flag Officer Farragut, on board the USS Iroquois, made a personal reconnaissance in the area of Forts Jackson and St. Philip.  The forts opened fire, but Farragut, observing from a mast, remained as "calm and placid as an onlooker at a mimic battle."

Hardly Even Noticed.  --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

A Walking Tour to Learn of Wilmington's Civil War Past-- Part 1

From the January 27, 2017, WECT, NBC TV  "First at Four: Take a walking tour and learn about Wilmington's past."

The director of the Cape Fear Institute, Bernard Thuersam gives guided tours of downtown Wilmington that highlights Civil War history.

Some of the sites:

GABRIEL BONEY, JR. monument to the SOLDIERS OF THE CONFEDERACY.  He was an 18-year-old private from Duplin County and served on Bald Head Island (Fort Holmes), Fort Anderson and was at the Battle of Bentonville.

After the war, he donated money for the monument honoring New Hanover County's Confederate soldiers.  It is located at the intersection of 3rd and Dock streets.

One has to wonder when those certain "offended" people will protest and demand this monument to be removed.

--Old B-Runner

April 4, 1862: USS Carondelet Runs Past Island No. 10

APRIL 4TH, 1862:  The USS Carondelet, Commander Walke, shrouded by a heavy storm at night, successfully ran past Island No. 10, Mississippi River, and reached Major General John Pope's army at New Madrid.  For his heroic dash past flaming Confederate batteries, Walke strengthened the Carondelet with cord-wood piled around the boilers, extra deck planking and anchor chain for added armor protection.

"The passage of the Carondelet," wrote A. T. mahan, "was not only one of the most daring and dramatic events of the war; it was also the death blow to Confederate defense of this position."

With the support of the gunboats, Union troops could now safely plan to cross the river and take the Confederate defenses from the rear.

--Old B-Runner

Monday, April 3, 2017

Coquina Rocks at Fort Fisher

From the May 2016, Our State Magazine (North Carolina).

If you walk in front of the seawall between Kure Beach and Fort Fisher at low tide, you'll come upon the only coquina outcrop on the North Carolina coast.

It is located a short distance from the Fort Fisher State Recreation Area, these mounds of clumped shells have been hardened over the years from surface exposure.

They form a small platform extending beneath Kure and Carolina beaches as well as Masonboro Island.

To view them, you'll need to check tide tables as they are only fully exposed at this spot at the lowest tides.

It was the removal of these rocks off the coast of Federal Point for the construction of the US-421 roadbed, that led to the dramatic incursion of the ocean on the remains of Fort Fisher.

--Old B-Runner

April 3, 1862: Apalachicola, Florida, Captured

APRIL 3RD, 1862:  Armed boats from the USS Mercedita, Commander Stellwagen, and USS Sagamore, Lt. Andrew J. Drake, captured Apalachicola, Florida, without resistance and took pilot boats Cygnet and Mary Olivia, schooners New Island, Floyd and Rose and sloop Octavia.

--Old B-Runner

Saturday, April 1, 2017

No Surprises: Fort Fisher Popular With the Tourists

From the March 6, 2017, Wilmington (NC) Star-News "No surprises -- Fort Fisher popular with North Carolina visitors" by Tim Buckland.

According to the annual list compiled by the Carolina Publishing and Associates. for the year 2016, Fort Fisher State Historic Site ranked #2 in the state with 830,136 visitors.  The #1 site was the North Carolina Museum of Natural Science with 937,341.

Other high-ranking Wilmington area sites were the N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher with 472,471 (which charges admission and the highest of the state's other two aquariums) and the Battleship North Carolina at #21 (also charges admission).

The other Civil War site was Fort Macon State Historic Park at #3 with 802,706.

Of Course, It Is My Belief That Many of Fort Fisher's Visitors Are There Because of the State Recreation Area at Fort Fisher.  --Old BRunner


April 2, 1862: McClellan Wants Navy Cooperation in His Peninsular Campaign

APRIL 2ND, 1862:  General McClellan and his staff arrived at Fort Monroe on board the steamer Commodore.  In the Peninsular Campaign to capture Richmond, McClellan intended to take full advantage of Union sea power for logistic support and offensive operations.

He wrote:  "Effective naval cooperation will shorten this operation by weeks."

He proposed to outflank Confederate defenders by water movements up the James and York rivers supported by the Navy.

The ominous presence of the CSS Virginia at the mouth of the James River dictated that Flag Officer L.M. Goldsborough keep his main naval strength at Hampton Roads alerted against future attacks by the Confederate ironclad.

Union gunboats frequently bombarded Yorktown, under siege by McClellan's army, until the city was evacuated on 3 May.

--Pld B-R'er

April 1, 1862: Union Force Spike Guns of Fort No. 1

APRIL 1ST, 1862:  A combined Army-Navy boat expedition under Master John V. Johnston, USN, of the  gunboat USS St. Louis and Colonel George W. Roberts landed and spiked the guns of Fort No. 1 on the Tennessee shore above Island No. 10, Mississippi River (night of 1-2 April).

Colonel Roberts reported:  "To the naval officers in command of the boats great praise is due for the admirable manner in which our approach was conducted.

--Old B-Runner

Friday, March 31, 2017

Looking For a Few Good Volunteers in North Carolina-- Part 2

Continuing with Park Day 2017 in North Carolina.

The N.C. MARITIME MUSEUM in Southport--  Volunteers will be involved in ground clearing, planting flowers around the entry, planting vegetables and herbs in the interpretive garden.

Participants will receive t-shirts and a hot dog lunch.

BENNETT PLACE in Durham.  Trail maintenance, clearing the Bennett Family Cemetery and fixing the fence around the historic kitchen garden.  Participants will receive tee shirts and light snacks and drinks.

BENTONVILLE BATTLEFIELD--  Four Oaks.  Clearing a new trail and installing interpretive signs.  Bring small hand or garden tools.  T-shirts and lunch.

--Old B-R'er

Thursday, March 30, 2017

March 30, 1862: USS Carondolet Ordered to Run Past Island No. 10

MARCH 20TH, 1862:   Flag Officer Foote ordered Commander Henry Walke, USS Carondolet:  "You will avail yourself of the first fog or rainy night and drift your steamer down past the batteries, on the Tennessee shore, and Island No. 10 ... for the purpose of covering General Pope's army while he crosses that point to the opposite, or to the Tennessee side of the river...

"...that he may move his army up to Island No. 10 and attack the rebels in the rear while we attack them in the front."

Five days later, Walke made his heroic dash past Island No. 10 to join the Army at New Madrid.

--Old B-Runner

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Looking For a Few Good Volunteers at Fort Fisher-- Part 1

From the March 10, 2017, WWAY Wilmington, N.C. "Civil War Park Day Needs Volunteers In The Cape Fear."

On Saturday, April 1, volunteers will be needed at four historic sites in the state, including, in the Cape Fear area,  Fort Fisher and the North Carolina Maritime Museum at Southport.

These sites are looking for history enthusiasts, Boy and Girl Scout Troops, youth groups among others.  Park Day is sponsored in part by the Civil War Trust, a major preservation group.

At Fort Fisher, volunteers will work in debris removal, leaf raking, light painting and scraping.  Basic tools will be provided.  Participants will receive a Park Day t-shirt and lunch put on by the Friends of Fort Fisher.

Work will be between 8:30 and noon.

Sure Wish I Could Be There.  --Old B-Runner