Friday, July 30, 2021

J.R.M. Mullany, USN-- Part 1: Gridley's Commander at the Battle of Mobile Bay

The commander of the USS Oneida, on which eight men received Medals of Honor and Charles Gridley received highest accolades at the Battle of Mobile Bay was this man.

I had never heard of him before so did some research.

From the USS Mullany site.

The USS Mullany (DD-528)was a Fletcher-class destroyer that served in the U.S. Navy from 1943 to 1971 when it was sold to Taiwan.  It was the second ship named  for  Rear Admiral  James Robert Madison Mullany.

James Robert Madison Mullany was a U.S. Navy officer born in New York City on 26 October  1818 and died  in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania on 17 September 1887.

He was the son of  Colonel James R. Mullany, Quarter Master general of the U.S. Army and entered the Navy as a midshipman from New Jersey, 7 January 1832.

He was promoted passed midshipman on 23 June 1838, and lieutenant 29 February 1844.

Mullany was actively engaged in the Mexican War and took part in the capture of  Tobasco in June 1847.

--Old B-Runner

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Some More on Charles V. Gridley-- Part 2: Service at the Battle of Mobile Bay

During the Battle of Mobile Bay, Gridley was placed  all of the way forward on the USS Oneida, where he could watch the channel for  mines and gave steering directions to   the ship's commander,  Cmdr.  J.R.M. Mullany.  During the action,  the Oneida had eight men killed and thirty wounded, including its commander.

Though a shell hit close to Gridley, he was unscathed.

The Oneida was lashed to the USS Galena and in the rear of the line of battle and came under fire of both Fort Morgan and the Confederate ram CSS Tennessee.  One shot in particular did heavy damage to the Oneida and wounded its commander in several places, causing the amputation of his left arm.

His commanding officer was highly pleased with his actions and wrote:  "The conduct of Acting Ensign  C.V. Gridley is beyond all praise.  He had charge of the  master's division and assisted  in conning the ship from the topgallant forecastle."

Following the war, Gridley was detailed to transport a group of Confederate  prisoners to Texas who had accepted the option of going into exile in Mexico.  On arriving, it was found that the former Confederates would have no way of continuing south, as the bridges across the Rio Grande had been destroyed.  In spite of their being former enemies, Gridley did not abandon his passengers.  he took it upon himself to transport them  across to Mexico.

I am writing about him in my Cooter's History Thing blog right now and continuing with his service in the U.S. Navy after the Civil War.

--Old B-R'er

Some More on Charles V. Gridley-- Part 1

Back in June, I was writing about Charles V. Gridley and his service in the United States Navy, including the Civil War.  He was probably most famous as being the recipient of George Dewey's command, "You may fire when you are ready, Gridley." at the Battle of Manila Bay which was a huge American victory during the Spanish-American War.

I have come across some more information on his Civil War service and will include it here.

From "The Spanish-American War Centennial Website, Capt. Charles V. "Steve" Gridley.

He was just 16 when appointed to the USNA and graduated in 1864 in the bottom half of his class, which also included future notables Robley Evans and  Charles Sigsbee (who was in command of the USS Maine when it blew up in Havana Harbor).  Both of these men were at the Battles of Fort Fisher.

His first assignment was on the USS Oneida in Farragut's fleet where he got his baptism of fire at the Battle of Mobile Bay.  He would not  experience such a large action again for thirty-four years, at Manila Bay.

--Old B-Runner

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Fort Jackson Mutiny-- Part 9

**  The men in the seven units  who did not want a parole (which meant if they took it and were exchanged they'd have to return to Confederate service) were offered  an opportunity  to sign an oath of future allegiance to the United States as an alternative to being sent to prison and many signed the oath.

**  Many of them eventually joined  the Union Army.

Again, there is not much information available as far as this mutiny is concerned.

--Old B-Runner

Monday, July 26, 2021

Fort Jackson Mutiny Facts-- Part 8: Parole or Not to Parole?

**  The Confederates troops drew up on Fort Jackson's grounds the night of the mutiny and demanded to surrender to nearby Union troops.

**  Those troops involved in the mutiny were largely foreign or northern-born and did not have a strong attachment to o love of the Know-Nothing Party or government of New Orleans.

**  They did not have a strong attachment to  to Confederate goals as did they native-born Southerners.

**  The experience of having been working class men in New Orleans and accustomed to organizing to go on strike when not being paid was also a factor.

**  Choosing to mutiny on the first night there were nearby Union troops suggests that they preferred the Union.

**  After the officers surrendered the forts on April 28, 1862,  all were offered a parole.

**  All the officers and enlisted men of the one non-New Orleans unit swore to not fight until am exchange could be arranged, and then  they would fight for the Confederacy again.

**  The other seven units had many men who did not want a parole, for that would eventually mean they would have to return to Confederate service.

--Old B-Runner

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Fort Jackson Mutiny Facts-- Part 7: Conditions at the Fort

Some other things presented by Michael Pierson for the mutiny:

**  Unpleasant conditions at the fort

**  A week of mortar fire

**  A night of heavy direct fire when the Union fleet ran past the forts

**  A alleged lack of food in the fort

**  A conviction that it was useless to continue fighting once the Union fleet reached New Orleans

**  Pierson has also found that the mutineers may have had Unionist goals

**  The mutiny was well organized

**  The mutineers were able to deceive officers until ready to act

--Old B-Runner

Friday, July 23, 2021

Fort Jackson Mutiny Facts-- Part 6: How Long Could Farragut Wait for the Troops Necessary to Occupy and Control New Orleans?

**  In order to actually occupy New Orleans, Farragut needed the Unions soldiers on the troop ships which had not run past the forts.  They could not run past the forts on their own.

**  Without the troops, the mayor of New Orleans and the "Mob" controlled the streets and left the mayor the ability to refuse the surrender of the city.

**  This left Farragut with the option of bombarding the city, awaiting the capture of the forts or withdrawing to south of the forts.

**  The forts still had six weeks worth of food.

**   Neither the mortar attacks or broadsides form Farragut's ships had significantly damaged Fort Jackson's defensive works.

**  If the forts held out for six weeks, Farragut may have had to retreat back down the river.

** It was the mutiny at Fort Jackson on the night of April 27 and the refusal to fight any longer of the rest of the fort's garrison the following morning (except one  unit raised in a plantation parish), along with lack of Fort St. Philip would fight that enabled Farragut to bring the troops upriver to New Orleans and land sufficient troops to control the city streets.

--Old B-Runner

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Fort Jackson Mutiny-- Part 5: The Facts According to Pierson

H-Net Review of Michael Pierson's book Mutiny at Fort Jackson: The Untold Story of the Fall of New Orleans" by Judith Gentry.

Again, I have not found any articles on the Confederate mutiny other than Pierson's book.

These are some points his book made:

**  Joblessness and poverty coerced poorer immigrants to volunteer their service in the Confederate military. This had nothing to do with their love of the Confederacy.

**  By September, the "Mob" of New Orleans had coerced military-age men to join local units of the state militia.

**  In the emergency of February and March 1862, when Farragut's ships entered the lower Mississippi River, several of the militia units were organized  into units of the Confederate army and placed on ships that carried them down the river to Forts Jackson and St. Philip.

**  Pierson argues that the importance of the mutiny at Fort Jackson has been underestimated.

**  Farragut's run past the forts and appearance at New Orleans on April 25 did not result in the occupation of New Orleans right away.

--Old B-Runner

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Fort Jackson Mutiny-- Part 4: An Immigrant Thing

The mutineers were soldiers primarily recruited from New Orleans'  large German and Irish immigrant populations.  Pierson shows that  the new nation (the Confederacy)  had done nothing to encourage poor white men to feel they had aa place of honor in the new  Southern Republic.

He  argues that the mutineers actively  sought to help the Union cause.  In a major reassessment of the Union administration of New Orleans that followed, Pierson  demonstrates that Union general Benjamin Butler enjoyed the support of  many white Unionists in the city.

Pierson adds  an urban working-class element to debates over the effects of  white Unionists in Confederate states.  With the personal stories o soldiers appearing throughout the book, "Mutiny at Fort Jackson" presents the Civil War from a different perspective, revealing the complexities of New Orleans society and the Confederate experience.

--Old B-Runner

Monday, July 19, 2021

Fort Jackson Mutiny-- Part 3: So, Why Was There a Mutiny?

I was unable to find an article in Wikipedia about the Confederate mutiny.

This is from a review of the book "Mutiny at Fort Jackson:  The Untold Story of the Fall of New Orleans" by Michael  D. Pierson from Good Reads.

New Orleans was the largest city -- and one of the richest -- in the Confederacy. protected in part by Fort Jackson. which was 65 miles down the Mississippi River from it.

On April 27, 1862, Confederate soldiers at Fort Jackson rose up against their commanding officers.  Farragut's fleet had already run past Fort Jackson and its sister fort, Fort St. Philip, so New Orleans was essentially now defenseless.  New Orleans fell soon afterwards.

Although the Fort Jackson mutiny marked a critical turning point in the Union's campaign to regain control of  this vital Confederate financial and industrial center, it has received surprisingly little attention from historians.  Michael Pierson examines newly uncovered archival sources to determine why the soldiers rebelled at  such a decisive moment.

(Well, my own idea is that defending Fort Jackson after the Union fleet had passed it was kind of like closing the barn door after the horses got out.  Pretty much a waste of time.)

--Old B-Runner

Saturday, July 17, 2021

The Mutiny at Fort Jackson in 1862-- Part 2

What causes troops or sailors to mutiny?  There is always a big story behind that event, but in the case of Fort Jackson, guarding the Mississippi River approach to New Orleans, there is very little written about it, which is surprising.  Until I read that a mutiny had occurred in the Wikipedia articles on Fort Jackson, i  was completely unaware of it.

Then, I learned that the following year, there was another mutiny staged, this time by Union troops.
Is it something about the location of the fort that caused not one, but two mutinies?

However, now there is a book on it "Mutiny at Fort Jackson" by Michael  Pierson.  It is UNC Press, 2009, hardcover, 246 pages and $30 cost.

--Old B-Runner

Thursday, July 15, 2021

There Was a Mutiny by Confederate Troops at Fort Jackson and a Later One by Union Troops-- Part 1

In an earlier post I wrote that Fort Jackson surrendered after Farragut's fleet had bombarded it and then run past  it.  But the eventual surrender of the fort (and sister Fort St. Philip across the river) did not happen because of Union siege or bombardment, but because a mutiny occurred among the Confederate defenders.

And, this was not the only mutiny that occurred at Fort Jackson during the Civil War

On December 9, 1863, a mutiny occurred with black troops from the  Fourth Regiment of  Corp d'Afrique.

So, what was it about Fort Jackson that caused mutinies?

--Old B-Runner

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Fort Jackson-- Part 3: The Problem With Hurricanes

In the 1960s,  Leander Perez (quite a character) threatened to turn Fort St. Philip into  a prison for advocates of  desegregation ("outside agitators") who entered the Plaquemines Parish.

Due to the location of Fort Jackson, it is vulnerable to strong winds, pelting rain, and decimating storm surges from storms ranging from rough weather to deadly hurricanes.  The fort was inundated with twenty feet of water  from both Hurricane Betsy, a category four hurricane, in September 1965, and Hurricane Camille, a category five storm,  in August of 1969.

The fort was again badly damaged by Hurricane Katrina's storm surge in 2005.  Between  Katrina and Hurricane Rita the following month, much of  the fort sat under water for up to six weeks.  Many of the historical exhibits in the fort were destroyed, and the fort itself suffered much structural damage.

Since the 1970s,  the grounds of Fort Jackson have been used for the Plaquemines Parish Fair and the Orange Festival.

The fort was used to treat oily birds in the early weeks of the Deepwater  Horizon oil spill.  The treatment facility was moved to Hammond, Louisiana,  on July 10, 2010, in order to make it less vulnerable to hurricanes.

--Old B-Runner

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Fort Jackson-- Part 2: A Mutiny, Prison and 'Infested With Snakes'

Not to be confused with the Old Fort Jackson at Savannah, Georgia.

After Farragut sailed past the forts and New Orleans fell, the forts continued to battle Union forces.  Then, there was a mutiny by the garrison of Fort Jackson against their officers and conditions which caused the surrender of the forts.

Later, Fort Jackson was used a s a Union prison.  It was here that the French champagne magnate  Charles Heidsieck was held  for seven months on charges of spying.  (After reading about this gentleman, I am going to have to write about him.)

On November 9, 1927, the State of Louisiana sold Fort Jackson as surplus government property to Mr. and Mrs. H.J. Harvey, who later donated the property to the Parish of Plaquemines in 1960 in hopes that the fort and 82 acres of land it sits on, would be restored.

That same year, the fort was declared a National Landmark and it was also listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1967.

The Plaquemines Parish began  renovations of the fort in 1961.

However, the National Park Service declared that "the Fort area had become a jungle with mud-filled tunnels infested with snakes and flooded with water."

--Old B-Runner

Sunday, July 11, 2021

Fort Fisher Hosts First Program Since the Virus Hit

From the July 10, 2021, WWAY (Wilmington, N.C.) 3 ABC by Celeste Smith.

Really good news to me.  Every summer Fort Fisher has all sorts of programs both outside and inside detailing the fort's history, including its popular "Beat the Heat" lectures.  Of course, that all came crashing to an end last year because of you-know-what.  Sure nice to have things back.

The Fort Fisher State Historic Site hosted its first program after an 18-month-long hiatus.

Today (Saturday, July 100, the annual Summer Artillery Program's "Most Terrible Storm of Iron and Lead" was held at the site from  10am to 4 pm.

The free event featured guided tours, an activity for kids called the "Toy Soldier Workshop," and cannon firings throughout the day.  The site's program manager, Becky Sawyer, said they are glad to offer programs to visitors again.

The site will host its next program which will focus on the events of World War II revolving around the fort and Wilmington area the Saturday of Labor Day weekend in September.

Sure Glad to see the Old Fort Back to Usual.  --Old B-Runner