Fort Fisher

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

Monday, December 17, 2018

USS Weehawken-- Part 6: Sinking December 6, 1863

The next two months were uneventful.

On the morning of 6 December, 1863, the Weehawken was  anchored off Morris Island during a moderate gale.  Suddenly it called for assistance and appeared to observers on shore to be sinking.

Attempts to beach it failed and she sank bow first five minutes later in thirty feet of water.

A court of inquiry found that the Weehawken had recently taken in a considerable amount of heavy ammunition in her forward compartments.  This excessively  reduced her forward seaboard, causing water to rush down an open hawsepipe during the storm.

As the bow sank and the stern rose, water could not flow aft to the pumps and the vessel foundered.

Four officers and 27 enlisted men  drowned in the Weehawken.

--Old B-Runner

Friday, December 14, 2018

USS Weehawken-- Part 6: Took A Pounding 7-8 September 1863

South Atlantic Blockading Squadron commander, Admiral Dahlgrem demanded Fort Sumter's surrender on 7 September and ordered the Weehawken to deploy in a narrow channel between the fort and Cummings Point on Morris Island.

There, the Weehawken grounded and took concentrated fire from Sumter, Fort Moultrie and Sullivan's Island and Morris Island.  It was refloated with the help of tugs on 8 September and received a "Well Done" from Dahlgren for defensive gunnery while grounded.

The Weehawken went to Port Royal for repairs until 4 October then returned to Charleston for  routine harbor patrol.

--Old B-Runner

Thursday, December 13, 2018

USS Weehawken-- Part 5: Reducing Forts Wagner and Sumter

The USS Weehawken resumed operations against the Charleston fortifications.  On July 10-11, 1863, Union ironclads Nahant, Montauk, Catskill and Weehawken shelled Fort Wagner on Morris Island to cover a Union Army amphibious landing under Brigadier General Quincy A. Gillmore.  Despite additional bombardments on July 18 and 24, they failed to silence the Confederate fort.

Gillmore's troops were pinned down on the beach.  Fort Wagner was finally reduced in a naval bombardment of it, Fort Gregg, Fort Moultrie and Fort Sumter on 17 August.

Next, the monitors Nahant, Weehawken, Montaul, Passaic and Patapsco took aim at Fort Sumter, pounding it to rubble on two separate bombardments on  23 August and 1-2 September.

--Old B-Runner

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

USS Weehawken-- Part 4: Hero and Commendations for John Rodgers

With only five shots, the Weehawken had blown the roof off the Atlanta's pilot house and pierced the grounded ironclad's casemate, putting two of the four gun crews out of action.  With no hope of withdrawing, there was nothing left for the Atlanta's commander, William A. Webb, to do but surrender.

Captain Rodgers became a national hero in the North for this. and received commendations from the Secretary of the Navy Welles, President Lincoln and Congress.  He was promoted to commodore and ordered north to command the new Union ironclad USS Dictator.  Both the Weehawken and Atlanta returned to Port Royal.

--Old B-Runner

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

December 11, 1863: Still Trying for the USS Indianola

DECEMBER 11TH, 1863:  Confederate troops fired on the USS Indianola in the Mississippi River in an attempt to destroy her, but effective counterfire of the USS Carondelet, Acting Master James C. Gipson, drove them off.

The Union Navy was exerting great effort to get the Indianola off the bar on which she had sunk in February, and on 23 November, Gipson had written to Rear Admiral Porter:  "I will do all that lies in my power to protect her from destruction."

--Old B-Runner

Monday, December 10, 2018

USS Weehawken-- Part 3: The Battle With the CSS Atlanta

On 7 April 1863, the Weehawken led the Union fleet in the first major assault on Confederate fortifications protecting Charleston, S.C..  The attack failed miserably and the fleet withdrew after just 40 minutes.  During that short action, the Weehawken took 59 hits and had a torpedo (mine) explode under her keel without suffering serious damage.

After repairs, she went to Wassaw Sound, Georgia, on 10 June to block the expected sortie of the Confederate ironclad CSS Atlanta.  The Confederate ram and two escort steamers appeared early on the morning of 17 June.

The Weehawken and monitor USS Nahant weighed anchor to meet the Atlanta.  But the Confederate ship ran hard aground only moments after entering the sound.  The Weehawken opened fire at 05:15 and fifteen minutes later the battle was over.  The Atlanta had surrendered.

--Old B-Runner

Saturday, December 8, 2018

USS Weehawken-- Part 2: Surviving That Gale

The Weehawken, towed by the steamer Mary A. Boardman and accompanied by the USS Iroquois, left New York in January 19, 1863, and encountered a heavy gale off the coast of New Jersey bound for Port Royal, S.C., and the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron.  This was on January 20.  The Boardman and Iroquois headed for sheltered waters, but the Weehawken proceeded in the heavy seas.

This would be surprising considering what had happened to the USS Monitor less  than a month earlier.  But the Passaic monitors differed from the original one in that  on having less deck overhang and a rounded lower hull.  This enabled the Weehawken to ride out heavy seas much easier.

John Rodgers reported that "the behavior of the vessel was easy, buoyant, and indicative of thorough safety."

The ship put into Norfolk for some minor repairs, leaving on February 1 in tow of screw steamer USS Lodona.  She arrived at Port Royal on February 5 and deployed to the Charleston blockade.

Seasick?  --Old B-R'er

Friday, December 7, 2018

Oldest Pearl Harbor Veteran Ray Chavez Dies At Age 106

November 22, 2018, NBC News "Oldest U.S.  military survivor of Pearl Harbor  dies at age 106."

Ray Chavez had been battling pneumonia and died in his sleep in the San Diego suburb of Poway.  As recently as last May he traveled to Washington, D.C.,  on memorial Day where he was honored by President Trump.

Hours before the attack he was aboard the minesweeper USS Condor as it patrolled the harbor's east entrance when he and others saw a Japanese periscope  They notified a nearby destroyer that sank it before the Japanese planes arrived.

This is why we have to honor them now.  It is only a matter of time before they are no longer with us.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

George H.W. Bush-- USN: Trained On USS Sable in Lake Michigan

There were no posts yesterday as I spent time watching the funeral ceremony of our 41st President, George H.W. Bush, in Washington, D.C.

During World War II, he served in the United States Navy.  

Six months after the declaration of war, George Bush enlisted in the Navy after his graduation from Phillips Academy on his 18th birthday.  He became a naval aviator  after taking aircraft training on the USS Sable in Lake Michigan.  This required eight successful takeoffs and landings.

After completing a ten-month training, he was commissioned an ensign in the U.S. Naval Reserve at the Corpus Christi NAS on June 9, 1943.  He was still a few days from his 19th birthday which made him one of the youngest naval aviators.

--Old B-Runner

USS Weehawken-- Part 1: An Improved Monitor, But Short Career

From Wikipedia.

A Passaic-class Monitor named for Weehawken, New Jersey.

Launched 5 November 1862 at Jersey City, New Jersey by Zeno Secor  & Company.  Commissioned  18 January 1863, with Captain John Rodgers in command.

200 feet long, beam 46 feet.  Complement: 75 officers and men.  Armament:  One 15-inch smoothbore gun and one 11-inch Dahlgren gun.

The Weehawken was an improved and enlarged Monitor.

Served 11 Months.  --Old B-R'er

December 6, 1863: Sinking of the USS Weehawken

DECEMBER 6TH, 1863:  The USS Weehawken, Commander Duncan, sank while tied up to a buoy inside the bar at Charleston harbor.  The Weehawken had recently taken on a load of heavy ammunition which seriously reduced the freeboard forward.

In a strong ebb tide, water washed down and open hawse pipe and a hatch.  The pumps were unable to handle the rush of water and the Weehawken foundered, drowning some  two dozen officers and men.

--Old B-Runner

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Illinois Medal of Honor Recipient Charles Asten-- Part 2

Charles Asten was all the more remarkable because in the action on May 5, he was on the sick list..  He was awarded the Medal of Honor on December 31, 1864.  George Butts and six other members of the USS Signal's crew also received Medals of Honor at the action.

So, there were a total of eight Medals of Honor awarded that day.  The Wikipedia article on the USS Signal states that six Medals of Honor were given that day.

His citation reads:  "Served on the USS Signal, Red River, 5 May 1864,.  Proceeding up the Red River, the USS Signal engaged a large force of enemy  field batteries and sharpshooters, returning their fire until the federal ship was totally disabled, at which time the white flag was raised.  Although on the sick list, Q.G. Asten courageously carried out his duties during the entire engagement."

He died on September 14, 1885, in Nova Scotia and was interred at Saint Francis Cemetery in Providence County, Rhode Island.

--Old B-Runner

Monday, December 3, 2018

200 Years As a State for Illinois; Medal of Honor Recipient Charles Asten-- Part 1

From Wikipedia.

(September 14, 1834  to September 14, 1885)

Was a quarter gunner born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada,  He entered the U.S. Navy in Chicago, Illinois.

In 1864, he was serving on board the USS Signal, a U.S. Navy tinclad on the Red River during that campaign.On May 4, 1864, the Signal was ordered to proceed up the Red River with dispatches from Major General Nathaniel Banks.

After going about twenty miles the ship encountered large numbers of Confederates along the banks of the river and a hot action ensued.  The Signal was also with the USS Covington and the Army transport  John Warner.  The action continued into the night.  On May 5, 1864, the Signal was disabled and the crew, including Asten reluctantly abandoned their ship.

They were captured on land.

--Old B-R'er

It's Been 200 Years As a State for Illinois: Navy Medal of Honor Recipients

From Illinois Civil War

"Illinois Civil War Medal of Honor Recipients"

Five Illinoisans received the Medal o Honor for their Naval service:

Charles Asten

Henry Dow

John Hyland

Michael McCormick

Hugh Malloy

--Old B-Runner

Saturday, December 1, 2018

USS Two Sisters-- Part 3: Was Tender to USS San jacinto

On 13 January 1864 while stationed off the mouth of the Suwanee River, the Two Sisters sent a boat crew and captured the schooner William with a cargo of salt, bagging and rope.    In May, she served as tender for the steam frigate USS San Jacinto.  Afterwards, the Two Sisters resumed its blockade duties.

On 3 December 1864, the Two Sisters participated in an early amphibious-type operation.   Her boats and men joined  others from the USS Nita, USS Stars and Stripes and USS Hendrix Hudson.  The expedition was commanded by Acting Lt. Robert B. Smith.  The objective was Tampa Bay where they destroyed a large Confederate salt work at Rocky Point.

She remained on blockade duty until the end of the war and was sold  at public auction to J. Jones on 28 June 1865.

A Very Busy Little Ship.  --Old B-Runner