Fort Fisher

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

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.


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:  " 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

March 29, 1863: Capturing Blockade-Runners

MARCH 29TH, 1862:  The USS R.R. Cuyler, Lt. F. Winslow, captured blockade-running schooner Grace E. Baker off the coast of Cuba.

**  A boat under the command of Acting Master's Mate Henry Eason from the USS Restless, captured schooner Lydia and Mary with a large cargo of rice for Charleston, and destroyed an unnamed schooner in the Santee River, South Carolina.

--Old B-Runner

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Fort Fisher Cannon Gets Face Lift-- Part 2

The work on the cannon was delayed in fall, partly due to Hurricane Matthew which caused the soil around the cannon, which sits at a high distance above ground level on the fort's sand parapet, was too moist for the heavy equipment needed to work on it to be brought in.  Work finally got underway in December.

The firm of T.K.F. Housemovers and Arc tech were hired to raise the gun.  Staff members and volunteers rthen moved in to clean, scrape, sand, caulk and paint the gun.

Standing proud.  --Old B-R'er

March 28, 1862: Reconnaissance of New Orleans Defenses

MARCH 28TH, 1862:  Commander Henry H. Bell reported a reconnaissance in the USS Kennebec of the Mississippi River and Forts Jackson and St. Philip.  He noted that the "two guns from St. Philip reached as far downriver as any from Jackson" and called attention to the obstruction, "consisting of a raft of logs and eight hulks moored abreast" across the river below St. Philip.

Scouting missions of this nature enabled Flag Officer Farragut to make careful and precise plans which ultimately led to successful passage of the forts and capture of New Orleans.

--Old B-Runner

Monday, March 27, 2017

March 27, 1862: The Ellet Rams (The Army Gets Into the Gunboat Ram Business

MARCH 27TH, 1862:  Secretary of War Stanton instructed Engineer Charles Ellet Jr.:  "You will proceed immediately to Pittsburg, Cincinnati, and New Albany and take measures to provide steam rams for defense against ironclad vessels on the Western waters."

The next day he wired Ellet at Pittsburgh:  "General [James K.] Moorhead has gone to Pittsburg to aid you and put you in communication with the committee there.  The rebels have a ram at Memphis.  Lose no time."

Later, Stanton described the Ellet rams to General Halleck:  "They are the most powerful steamboats, with upper cabins removed, and bows filled in with heavy timber.  It is not proposed to wait for putting on iron.  This is the mode in which the Merrimack will be met.  Can you not have something of the kind speedily prepared at St. Louis also?"

Army Ships.  --Old B-R'er

The Proper Care of Gunboats and Building New Ones-- Part 2

March 26, 1862:  Union commanders in the west and elsewhere recognized how much the margin of Union superiority and the power to thrust deep into the Confederacy depended upon the gunboats, and care was exercised not to lose the effectiveness of this mobile force.

Meanwhile, greatly concerned about the threats of Confederate naval ironclads, Secretary of War Stanton wired the President of the Board of Trade at Pittsburgh:  "This Department desires the immediate aid all of all of your association in the following particulars:  1st.  That you will appoint three of its active members most familiar with the steamboat and engine building who would act in concert with this Department and under its direction, and from patriotic motives devote some time and attention for thirty days in purchasing and preparing such means of defense on the Western waters against ironclad boats as the engineers of this Department may devise....

"My object is to bring the energetic, patriotic spirit and enlightened, practical judgement of your city to aid the Government in a matter of great moment, where hours must count and dollars not be squandered."

--Old B-Runner

Friday, March 24, 2017

Fort Fisher Cannon Gets Face Lift-- Part 1

From the January 9, 2017, Wilmington Star-News (NC) "Fort Fisher cannon gets face lift in time for January 14 anniversary" by Ben Steelman.

The 32-pounder cannon on Shepherd's Battery has been restored in time for the 152 anniversary of the Second Battle of Fort Fisher.  The 30-year-old reproduction of a Civil War era coastal artillery piece is a big favorite of visitors to the fort and fired during re-enactments, the boom of it supposedly can be heard all the way in Wilmington.

However, exposure to salt air and the elements over the years necessitated the work.

The Friends of Fort Fisher, to which I belong, raised $25,000 for it and were aided by a $6,000 grant from the Society of the Order of the Southern Cross (a Confederate heritage, a non profit group working to restore all things Civil War).

--Old B-Runner

March 26,1862-- Part 1: Watch Out for Low Water and Confederate Gunboats

MARCH 26TH, 1862:  Flag Officer Foote, off Island No. 10, dispatched a warning to Commander Alexander M. Pennock, his fleet captain at Cairo:  "You will inform the commanders of the gunboats Cairo, Tyler, and Lexington not to be caught up the river with too little water to return to Cairo.  They, of course, before leaving, will consult the generals with whom they are cooperating.

"As it is reported on the authority of different persons from New Orleans that the rebels have thirteen gunboats finished and ready to move up the Mississippi, besides the four or five below New Madrid, and the Manassas, or ram, at Memphis, the boats now up the rivers and at Columbus or Hickman, should be ready to protect Cairo or Columbus in case disaster overtakes us in our flotilla."

Worried About Those Confederates

March 25, 1862: Flag Officer Tattnall to Relieve Buchanan on CSS Virginia

MARCH 25TH 1862:  Confederate Secretary of the Navy Mallory ordered Flag Officer Tattnall to relieve the injured Flag Officer Buchanan and "take command of the naval defenses of the waters of Virginia and hoist your flag on board the Virginia."

--Old B-Runner

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Operations on Western Waters-- Part 2: Defective Fuzes

"The battery just below Eastport, consisting of two guns, then opened upon us.  Their shot fell short.  I stood up just outside of their range and threw three or four 20 [second] shell at that battery, none of which exploded, owing to the very defective fuze (army).

"The rebels did not respond.  I have made no regular attack on their lately constructed batteries, as they are of no importance to us, our base of operations being so much below them.  I have deemed it my duty, however, to annoy them, where I could with little or no risk to our gunboats....

"The Lexington, Lieutenant Commanding Shirk, will cruise down the river from this point.  The Tyler will cruise above."

Were the defective fuzes from the Army?  And here I was thinking fuzes for projectiles were spelled fuses.

--Old B-R'er

March 24, 1862: Operations on the Western Rivers-- Part 1

MARCH 24RD, 1862:  Lieutenant Gwin, USS Tyler, reported the typical ceaseless activity of the gunboats:  "...since my last report, dated March 21, I have been actively employed cruising up and down the river.  The Lexington arrived this morning.

"The Tyler accompanied by the Lexington, proceeded up the river to a point two miles below Eastport, Mississippi, where we discovered the rebels planting a new battery at an elevation above the water of 60 (degrees), consisting of two guns, one apparently in position.

We threw several shells into it, but failed to elicit a reply."

The Tyler and the Lexington were two really busy gunboats.

--Old B-Runner

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

March 22, 1862: CSS Florida Clears Liverpool

MARCH 22ND, 1862:    The CSS Florida, Acting Master John Low, sailing as the British steamer Oreto, cleared Liverpool, England, for Nassau.  It is the first ship built in England for the Confederacy.  The ship's four 7-inch rifled guns were sent separately to Nassau on the steamer Bahama.

Commander Bulloch, CSN, wrote Lt. John N. Maffitt, CSN:  "Another ship will be ready in about two months....  Two small ships can do but little in the way of materially turning the tide of war, but we can do something to illustrate the spirit and energy of our people...."

--Old B-R'er

A Walk Along the Sugar Loaf Line of Defense-- Part 2

The embankments and earthworks were built by the Confederates to stop an expected Union advance on Wilmington, N.C., after the capture of Fort Fisher.  For over thirty days, these defenses and the ones across the Cape Fear River did keep the Northern troops at bay.

The walk will be over most of the length of the defenses and Chris Fonvielle will offer his extensive insights on it.

The tour will leave from the Federal Point Historical Center's parking lot, next to the Carolina Beach Town Hall.

--Old B-Runner

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Chris Fonvielle Leads Walk Along Sugar Loaf Line of Defense-- Part 1

Well, we missed it.  It was conducted on March 18th, but something I would really love to do some time despite the really long distance there from here.

This is put on by the Federal Point Historic Preservation Society and evidently given once a year in March (as I heard when I was there back in January because of fewer biting insects and snakes).  He gives a walk and talk of the Confederate Sugar Loaf Line of Defense that stretched from the Cape Fear River from a large sand dune known as Sugar Loaf to the Atlantic Ocean on the east.

There is a $10 donation.

More.  --Old B-Runner

March 21, 1862: Halleck Urges Caution at Island No. 10

MARCH 21ST, 1862:  Major General Halleck wrote Flag Officer Foote, commenting on the Navy's operation against the Confederate batteries on Island No. 10:  "While I am certain that you have done everything that could be done successfully to reduce these works, I am very glad that you have not unnecessarily exposed your gunboats.

"If you had been disabled, it would have been a most serious loss to us in the future operations of the campaign....  Nothing is lost by a little delay there."

Foote's gunboat and mortar flotilla continued to bombard the works with telling effect.

--Old B-Runner

Sandbags Remain By Fort Fisher-- Part 2

And, I am not talking about Civil War-era sandbags.

Long-left  sandbags are also a problem at North Topsail Beach, further up the North Carolina coast.  And, these are not the small, temporary sandbags we so often see when rivers flood, but rather huge ones.

The coquina by Fort fisher is part of the Fort Fisher Outcrop natural Area and is just north of the Riggings condo complex.  I mentioned in an earlier post that it was the removal of part of the coquina outcrop back in the 1930s to help build US Highway 421 which led ti the massive beach erosion that took so much of Fort Fisher.

The Army Corps of Engineers has a beach nourishment project which will end 1,500 feet north of the Riggings.  However, no part of the coquina outcrop will be buried.

--Old B-R'er

Monday, March 20, 2017

Presentation Tonight on Fort Fisher's Medals of Honor-- Part 2

A full 35% of Medals of Honor given out at Fort Fisher were given to foreign nationals.

Over the course of time, the Medal of Honor has been given to just 19 North Carolinians.

John Mosely, the presenter, is assistant site manager at Fort Fisher.  In the past he has done much research on North Carolina in the American Revolution as well as 18th century medical and dental practices.

He began working at Fort Fisher in 2011 and is currently in charge of the site's educational programs.

Since the summer of 2012 he has led the "Tasting History" walking tour of Carolina Beach, focusing on the history of Federal Point and sampling the fare in local restaurants.

He continues to work on the Fort Fisher Medals of Honor and the role the fort played during World War II.

--Old B-R'er

Presentation Tonight on Fort Fisher Medals of Honor-- Part 1

From the Federal Point Historical Preservation Society.

On Monday, March 20, 2017, today, there will be a presentation on the Medals of Honor Recipients of the Lower Cape Fear" given by John Mosely at the Federal Point History Center at 7:30 p.m..  The Center is located at 1121-A North Park Blvd., adjacent to the Carolina Beach, N.C., Town Hall.

The Medal of Honor was created as a top honor for bravery by the U.S. Congress in the summer of 1861.  During the course of the war, and after it, 1,523 of the medals were awarded to members of the Union Army and Navy.

Between June 1864 and the end of January 1865, 72 of these were given to sailors and Marines at Fort Fisher.  During the war, a total of 17 were awarded to Marines and 6 were given at Fort Fisher.  These all were earned on the beach attack by the Union sailors and Marines on January 15, 1865.

A Lot of MoHs.  --Old B-Runner

Sandbags Remain a Problem By Fort Fisher-- Part 1

From the February 8, 2017, Wilmington (NC) Star-News "Sandbags remain hard problem to solve along N.C. coast" by Adam Wagner.

The North Carolina Coastal resources Commission (CRC) regards The Riggings, a Kure Beach condo complex with 48 units as breaking the law.  State guidelines allow sandbags to remain in place just 2-5 years.  The Riggings have had their sandbags in place since 1985 when the complex was built between Fort Fisher and a coquina rock outcrop.

Sadly, the Riggings is built right on the area over which the Navy-Marine contingent charged across on January 15, 1865.

--Old B-R'er

March 20, 1862: Confederate Defenses on James River

MARCH 20TH, 1862:  Confederate President Davis wrote regarding the defense of the James River approach to Richmond:  "The position of Drewry's Bluff, seven or eight miles below Richmond ... was chosen to obstruct the river against vessels such as the Monitor.  The work is being rapidly completed.

"Either Fort Powhatan or Kennon's Marsh, if found to be the proper positions, will be fortified and obstructed as at Drewry's Bluff, to prevent the ascent of the river by ironclad vessels.

"Blockading the channel where sufficiently narrow by strong lines of obstructions, filling it with submersive batteries [torpedoes], and flanking the obstructions by well-protected batteries of the heaviest guns, seem to offer the best and speediest chances of protection with the means at our disposal against ironclad floating batteries."

The Confederate Navy contributed in large part to these successful defenses that for three years resisted penetration.  Naval crews proved especially effective in setting up and manning the big guns, many of which had come from the captured Navy Yard at Norfolk.

Fear of the Monitor.  --Old B-Runner

Saturday, March 18, 2017

March 19, 1862: Attack On Island No. 10 Continues

MARCH 19TH, 1862:  Flag Officer Foote's forces attacking Island No. 10 continued to meet with strong resistance from Confederate batteries.  "This place, Island No. 10,"  Foote observed, "is harder to conquer than Columbus, as the island shores are lined with forts, each fort commanding the one above it.

"We are gradually approaching....  The mortar shells have done fine execution...."

--Old B-Runner

March 18, 1862: Capture a B-R, Lose a B-R

MARCH 18, 1862:  The USS Florida, James Adger, Sumpter, Flambeau and Onward captured the British blockade runner Emily St. Pierre off Charleston, S.C..  The master and steward, left on board, overpowered prize master Josiah Stone off Cape Hatteras, recaptured the vessel, and sailed for Liverpool, England.

--Old B-Runner

Friday, March 17, 2017

March 17, 1862: Action At Island No. 10 Continues

MARCH 17TH, 1862:  The USS Benton, with Flag officer Foote aboard, was lashed between the USS Cincinnati and St. Louis to attack Island No. 10 and Confederate batteries on the Tennessee shore at a range of 2,000 yards.

"The upper fort," Foote reported, "was badly cut up by the Benton and the other boats with her.  We dismounted one of their guns...."

In the attack, Confederate gunners scored hits on the Benton and damaged the engine of the Cincinnati.  A rifled gun burst on board the St. Louis and killed and wounded a number of officers and men.

--Old B-Runner

Union General Thomas West Sherman

From Wikipedia.

On the 15th, I mentioned this Union general's name in connection with Port Royal, S.C., and with the last name Sherman, I wanted to find out more about him.


Served in the Seminole Wars, Mexican War and Civil War.  Graduated from the USMA in 1836 and then immediately served in the Seminole War.

Appointed to command the ground forces of the Port Royal Expedition in 1861.  Later transferred to the Western Theater and at the Siege of Corinth.  Commanded defenses of New Orleans and badly wounded in the attack on Port Hudson May 27, 1863.

The wound necessitated the amputation of his right leg.  It was thought he would die from it, but recovered and was on administrative duty the rest of the war.

--Old B-Runner

Thursday, March 16, 2017

March 16, 1862: Operations on the Tennessee River

MARCH 16TH, 1862:  Lt. Gwin reported on the operations of the wooden gunboats on the Tennessee River into Mississippi and Alabama where they kept constantly active:  "I reported to General Grant at Fort Foote on the 7th instant and remained at Danville Bridge, 25 miles above, awaiting the fleet of transports until Monday morning, by direction of General Grant, when, General Smith arriving with a large portion of his command, forty transports, I convoyed them to Savannah, arriving there without molestation on the 11th.

"The same evening, with General Smith and staff on board, made a reconnaissance of the river as high as Pittsburg.  The rebels had not renewed their attempts to fortify at that point, owing to the vigilant watch that had been kept on them in my absence by Lieutenant Commanding Shirk."

--Old B-R'er

March 16, 1862: Bombardment of Island No. 10 Commences

MARCH 16TH, 1862:  Union gunboats and mortar boats under Flag Officer Foote commenced bombardment of strongly fortified and strategically located Island No. 10 in the Mississippi River.

After the loss of Forts Henry and Donelson, and, as General Grant continued to wisely use the mobile force afloat at his disposal, the Confederates fell back to Island No. 10, concentrated artillery and troops, and prepared for for an all-out defense of this bastion which dominated the Mississippi River.

--Old B-Runner

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

New York Times Reports Intelligence from Port Royal, S.C., Part 2

"Formal possession of Beaufort will be taken on Thursday, and the Charleston papers intimate that Gen. SHERMAN would have some difficulty in doing so.  They state that Gen. LEE was making extensive preparations to defend it, though the nature of the preparations is not made very clear.

"A battery had been erected at Port Royal Ferry, upon which were mounted guns taken out of the privateers Lady Davis and Huntress, and here, it is stated, a stand will be made.  The Charleston Mercury is disposed to condemn the preparations which have been made, as inadequate to the emergency."

The General Sherman referred to was Thomas West Sherman, not the W.T. Sherman who became so famous.  The General Lee was the famous Robert E. Lee who had not yet assumed command of the Army of Northern Virginia.

--Old B-Runner

March 15, 1862: Foote Takes Position to Attack Island No. 10

MARCH 15TH, 1862:  Flag Officer Foote's flotilla moved from Hickman, Kentucky, downriver to a position above Island No. 10.  Foote reported,  "The rain and dense fog prevented our getting the vessels in position [to commence the bombardment]...."

--Old B-Runner

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

March 14, 1862: New Bern, N.C. Occupied-- Part 2

The American flag was raised over Forts Dixie, Ellis, Thompson and Lane on 14 March, the "formidable" obstructions in the river -- including torpedoes -- were passed by the gunboats, and the troops were transported across the Trent River to occupy the city.

In addition to convoy, close gunfire support, and transport operations, the Navy captured two steamers, stores, munitions, cotton and supplied a howitzer battery ashore under Lt. Roderick S. McCook, USN.

Wherever water reached, combined operations struck heavy blows that were costly to the Confederacy.


March 14, 1862: New Bern, N.C. Occupied-- Part 1

MARCH 14TH, 1862:  A joint amphibious assault under Commander Rowan and Brigadier General Burnside captured Confederate batteries on the Neuse River and occupied New Bern, North Carolina, described by Rowan as "an immense depot of army fixtures and manufactures, of shot and shell...."

Commander Rowan, with 13 war vessels and transports carrying 12,000 troops, departed his anchorage at Hatteras Inlet on 12 March, arriving in sight of New Bern that evening.  Landing the troops, including Marines, the following day under the protecting guns of his vessels, Rowan continued close support of the Army advance throughout the day.

--Old B-Runner

Monday, March 13, 2017

The New York Times Reports Intelligence From Port Royal, November 16, 1861-- Part 1

This was after the Union capture of Port Royal Sound.

From the November 16, 1861, New York Times.

"We have late and important intelligence from Port Royal by an arrival at this port and from Charleston papers of the 12th inst., received in Baltimore by way of Old Point.  The transport steamer Coatzacoalcos arrived here yesterday morning, having left Port Royal the afternoon of Wednesday.

"Our troops at that time, had all landed, and their stores and ordnance were being rapidly discharged.  There was a rumor that our pickets near the Savannah Ferry had been attacked by the rebels, and reinforcements were sent on the day the Coatzacoalcos left."

--Old B-Runner

March 13, 1862: New Madrid, Missouri, Evacuated

MARCH 13TH, 1862:  Major General John P. McCown, CSA, ordered the evacuation of Confederate troops from Mew Madrid, under cover of Flag Officer Hollins' gunboat squadron consisting of the CSS Livingston, Polk and Pontchartrain.

--Old B-Runner

March 12, 1862: Jacksonville, Florida, Occupied

MARCH 12TH, 1862:  Landing party under Lt. Thomas H. Stevens of the USS Ottawa occupied Jacksonville, Florida, without opposition.  This was all part of the Confederacy giving up all points along the coast that they felt could not be defended against the Union Navy.

**  USS Gem of the Sea, Lt. Baxter, captured British blockade runner Fair Play off Georgetown, South Carolina.

**  Gunboats USS Tyler, Lt. Gwin, and USS Lexington, Lt. Shirk, engaged a Confederate battery at Chickasaw, Alabama, while reconnoitering the Tennessee River.

--Old B-Runner

Friday, March 10, 2017

March 11, 1862: St. Augustine, Florida, Is Captured

MARCH 11TH, 1862:  Landing party from the USS Wabash, Commander C.R.P. Rodgers, occupied St. Augustine, Florida, which had been evacuated by Confederate troops in the face of naval threat.

This was all part of Lee's instructions to Confederate forces in Florida to evacuate any places they didn't think they could defend.

**  Two Confederate gunboats under construction at the head of Pensacola Bay were burned by Confederate military authorities to prevent their falling into Northern hands in the event of an anticipated move against Pensacola by Union naval forces.

--Old B-Runner

March 10, 1862: Farragut Passes Over the Mississippi River Bar

MARCH 10TH, 1862:  Amidst the Herculean labors of lightening and dragging heavy ships through the mud of the "19 foot bar" that turned out to be 15 feet, and organizing the squadron, Flag Officer Farragut reported:  :"I am up to my eyes in business.  The Brooklyn is on the bar, and I am getting her off.  I have just had Bell up at the head of the passes.

"My blockading shall be done inside as much as possible.  I keep the gunboats up there all the time....  Success is the only thing listened to in this war, and I know that I must sink or swim by that rule.

"Two of my best friends have done me a great injury by telling the Department that the Colorado can be gotten over the bar into the river, and so I was compelled to try it, and take precious time to do it.  If I had been left to myself, I would have been in before this."

Wonder Who Those Two Friends Were?  --Old B-Runner

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Battle Between the Monitor and Virginia-- Part 2 "Now Comes the Reign of Iron"

The broad impact of the Monitor-Virginia battle on naval thinking was summarized by Captain Levin M. Powell, of the USS Potomac writing a letter from Vera Cruz:  "The news of the fight between the Monitor and Merrimac[k] has created the most profound sensation amongst the professional men in the allied fleet here.

"They recognize the fact, as much by silence as words, that the face of naval warfare looks the other way now -- and the superb frigates and ships of the line ... supposed capable a month ago, to destroy anything afloat in half an hour ... are very much diminished in their proportions, and the confidence once reposed in them fully shaken in the presence of these astounding facts."

And as Captain Dahlgren phrased it:  "Now comes the reign of iron -- and cased sloops are to take the place of wooden ships."

--Old B-R'er

March 9, 1862: The Battle Between the Monitor and Virginia-- Part 1

MARCH 9TH, 1862:  An engagement lasting four hours took place between the USS Monitor and the CSS Virginia, mostly at close range.  Although neither side could claim a clear victory, this historic first combat between ironclads ushered in a new era of war at sea.

The blockade remained intact, but the Virginia remained as a powerful defender of the Norfolk area and a barrier to the use of the rivers for the movement of Union forces.

Severe damage inflicted on the wooden-hulled USS Minnesota by the Virginia during an interlude in the fight with the Monitor underscored the plight of a wooden ship confronted by an ironclad.

--Old B-Runner