Monday, September 30, 2013

Morfit's Letter

While looking for more information on the CSS Oconee earlier this month, I came across this item of interest from the Schuyler Rumsey Philatelic Auctions site which was offering a letter addressed to Asst. Surgeon Chas. M. Morfit, CS Navy Portsmouth.

The auctioneers expected to get from between $300 and $400 for it.

Dr. Charles M. Morfit (1838-1925) received his medical degree from the University of Maryland. He became an assistant surgeon in the U.S. Navy in 1861, but resigned to join the Confederacy.

He served on the CSS Ivy, Arkansas, Stono, Albemarle, Oconee and Chicakamuga. He was captured and imprisoned at Old Capitol Prison and later Fort McHenry. I wonder if he was at Old Capitol when John Wilkes Booth was hanged?

--Old B-Runner

Saturday, September 28, 2013

150 Years Ago: September 29th-30th, 1863-- Navy to the Rescue, Looking for Raiders


The USS Lexington and Kenwood arrive at Morgana, Louisiana, on Bayou Fordoche to support Union troops. More than 400 Federals had been captured. The arrival of the ships probably "deterred [the Confederates] from attacking General Dana in his position at Morgana" despite outnumbering Union forces. The Navy to the rescue.

**  The USS St. Louis under Cmdr. George H. Preble, returned to Lisbon, Portugal, after an unsuccessful cruise of almost 100 days in search of Confederate commerce raiders. The ship's commander said they had repeatedly crossed sea routes between the United States and Europe and the Mediterranean Sea to Europe in the Atlantic and not only had not found any raiders, but had only met one American merchant vessel. "This fact, on a sea poetically supposed to be whitened by our commerce, illustrates the difficulties attendant upon a search after the two or three rebel cruisers afloat."

The Confederate cruisers were having an effect. In addition to few American ships on the seas, many ship owners were also changing their flag registration.


USS Rosalie seized British schooner Director attempting to run the blockade at Sanibel River, Florida, with a cargo of salt and rum. Florida, a state often overlooked in the war.

--Old B-R'er

150 Years Ago: September 28, 1863: England Backing Off?


Secretary Welles wrote in his diary that chances of European intervention on the Confederate side were dimming.

He wrote: "The last arrivals [newspapers] indicate a better tone and temper in England, and I think France also. From the articles in their papers ... I think our monitors and heavy ordnance have had a peaceful tendency, a tranquillizing effect. The guns of the Weehawken have knocked the breath out of the British statesmen as well as the crew of the Atlanta."

The monitor USS Weehawken had captured the CSS Atlanta June 17, 1863. However, the Weehawken itself sank in a freak accident just two and a half months later.

--Old B-Runner

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Pernicious and Congestive Fever?

In an earlier blog entry today, I wrote about Commodore Bell reporting to Secretary of Navy Welles from New Orleans that there had been a yellow fever breakout and, at the same time, one of pernicious and congestive fever.

I was not sure exactly what pernicious and congestive fevers were so had to look them up.

Both terms refer to malaria.

I often have problems with Civil War diseases as different names were used back then in many cases. While looking for these two fevers, I came across an excellent site which might be of use for others in connection to this. It is The Yesterday of..... Hamilton County, Illinois: Old Diseases Defined.

--Old B-Runner

150 Years Ago: September 25th-27th, 1863: Capturing Runners


The USS Tioga captured steamer Herald near Bahamas with cargo of cotton, turpentine and pitch. This would be an outbound blockade-runner with a cargo like this. The Union not only had ships off the Confederacy, but also plying the sea lanes between Southern ports and transhipment points.


USS Clyde seized schooner Amaranth off the Florida Keys with a cargo including cigars and sugar. An inboud blockade-runner with a cargo like that, probably out of Havana.

--Old B-Runner

150 Years Ago: September 25, 1863: Epidemic Sickness a Blockade Problem


Epidemic sickness was a persistent hazard of extended duty in warm climates.

To illustrate, this date, Commodore H.H. Bell in New Orleans reported to Welles, "I regret to inform the Department that a pernicious fever has appeared on board the United States steamers repairing at this port from which some deaths have ensued. Some of the cases have been well-defined yellow fever, and others are recognized here by the names of pernicious and congestive fever."

I am sure the recruiters didn't mention disease when getting new enlistees.

--Old B-Runner

Talking About That Recruiting Poster-- Part 1" Less Time and Safer

The posters serves as a great primary source as it gives a good account of service in the Union's Civil War Navy.

First off, joining the Navy was a good way to avoid getting drafted by the Conscription Bill (the Draft). Getting drafted meant going into the Army and generally, being on a ship is safer than fighting on land, especially considering the weakness of the Confederate Navy. Plus, you had a guaranteed place to sleep and food.

I'm not sure of the date of the poster, but the CWNC had it in the September 1863 section. They wanted 1,000 men to enlist for just 12 months. I think at the time, Army enlistees were joining either for 3 years or duration of the war. So, you wouldn't have to serve as long. But, I'm sure, recruiting officers would push for the longer enlistments.

--Old B-R'er

Jine the Navy, See the World, Make Money-- Part 3

CHANCES FOR WARRANTS, BOUNTIES AND MEDALS OF HONOR-- All those who distinguish themselves in battle or by extraordinary heroism, may be promoted to forward Warrant Officer or Acting Master's Mates-- and upon their promotion receive a guaranty of $100, with a medal of honor from their country.

All who wish may leave HALF PAY with their families, to commence from date of enlistment.

Minors must have a written consent, sworn to before a Justice of the Peace.

For further information apply to U.S. Navy Rendezvous, E.Y. BUTLER, U.S.N. Recruiting Officer, No. 14 FRONT STREET, SALEM, MASS.

And, Even Benefits Beyond the Grog Money. ---Old B-Runner

Jine the Navy, See the World, Make Money-- Part 2

Continuing with the recruiting poster, word-for-word.

$50,000,000 PRIZES!

Already captured, a large share of which is awarded to Ships Crews. The laws of distributing of Prize money carefully protects the rights of all the captors.

PETTY OFFICERS, PROMOTION-- Seamen have a chance for promotion to the officers of Master at Arms, Boatswain's Mates, Quarter Gunners, Captain of Tops, Forecastle, Holds, After-Guard, &c.

Landsmen may be advanced to Armorers, Armorer's Mates, Carpenter's Mates, Painters, Coopers,, &c. 

PAY OF PETTY OFFICERS,-- From $20.00 to $45.00 per month.

Then, There's That Prize Money and Advancement.  Sounds Like A Great Deal.  --Old B-R'er

Jine the Navy, See the World, Make Money-- Part 1

From a recruiting poster shown in the Civil War Naval Chronology.





Seamen's Pay,-------$18.00 per month
Ordinary Seamen's Pay,-------- 14.00 per month
Landsmen's Pay,------- 12.00 per month
$1.50 extra per month to all, Grog Money.

Sign Me Up. Where You Gonna Spend Your Money While On a Ship Out At Sea?  And Then, There Was Always the Prize Money.  --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Blockade-Runner Nassau (Gordon-Theodora) -- Part 2

On October 9, 1861, Mason and Slidell chartered the Gordon for $10,000 to take them to Havana. The name of the ship was changed to the Theodora to further confuse Union spies.

They boarded the ship on the 11th. John Slidell had his wife and four children with him along with his personal secretary and his entire family. The Theordora left at 1 AM and passed within a mile and a half of a Union ship. Captain Thomas J. Lockwood was in command.

From Famous Blockade-Runners at

The Theodora was 175 feet long, had a 7 foot draft and could speed along at 16 knots. It had originally been named Carolina, then became the Gordon and now was the Theodora. It later also became the Nassau.

It served as a blockade-runner sometimes and other times was in Confederate service as a transport and armed picket ship.

--Old B-R'er

Blockade-Runner Nassau (Gordon, Theodora)-- Part 1

I started this thread back on October 13, 2011, on my Civil War Blog, Saw the Elephant. It was in connection with the capture of Confederate commissioners Slidell and Mason, an event that nearly started a war between the United States and England which would have been extremely beneficial to the Confederacy.

Going back to October 12, 1861, James Mason and John Slidell were wanting to go to England from Charleston, SC. They considered chartering the Nashville which could have taken them directly to England, but word of their plans got to the Union blockade and they decided to go on a different ship.

They found the fast, 500-ton sidewheeler Gordon that had already run the blockade several times. However, it was not big enough to take them all the way to England so would have to go to Havana and then take a British ship to England. If a Union ship were then to capture them from a neutral ship (like England) then the Confederacy would automatically be recognized as a belligerant nation.

Being Belligerant. --Old B-Runner

Monday, September 23, 2013

CSS Oconee (Savannah)-- Part 3: From Gun Boat to Blockade Runner

Continued from September 15th.

From November 5-6th, 1861, Tattnall's "Mosquito Fleet" sailed to Port Royal, SC, to help oppose Flag Officer Du Pont's 51-ship fleet attacking there at Port Royal Sound, but didn't accomplish anything.

On November 26, 1861, , the Savannah fought Union ships at the mouth of the Savannah River and then ran supplies to Fort Pulaski in January 1862. After that, the Savannah served as a receiving ship at Savannah.

With the construction of the new ironclad to be named CSS Savannah, the wooden Savannah's became the CSS Oconee and was transformed into a blockade-runner. In June 1863 it was loaded with cotton and headed for England. After running the blockade, the Oconee ran into a big storm and sank August 18, 1863, before reaching its destination.

--Old B-Runner

Friday, September 20, 2013

150 Years Ago: September 20th- 22nd, 1863


Lt. Cmdr. J.P. Foster, heading operations on the Mississippi River from Donaldsonville, Louisiana, to the mouth of the Red River, reports to Porter that the Confederates have been quiet in that sector and haven't even shown themselves or made a boat attempt to break the blockade. He believes it is because of increased patrolling by his gunboats.

SEPTEMBER 22ND: Confederates captured Army tug Leviathan in a night attack at South West Passs on the Mississippi River, but were then captured later by the USS De Soto.

**  In Charleston, Flag Officer Tucker assigned Lt. William T. Glassell to command the CSS David and wants him to begin destroying enemy ships. Glassell had arrived from Wilmington on special assignment Sept. 8th. Two weeks later, he took the David up against the USS New Ironsides.

**  The USS Connecticut captured British steamer Juno off Wilmington with cargo of cotton and tobacco.

--Old B-Runner

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Horace Hunley Takes Command of His Submarine


This date, Horace L. Hunley wrote General Beauregard in Charleston requesting that command of his submarine be turned over to him. He wrote, "I propose if you will place the boat in my hands to furnish a crew from Mobile who are well acquainted with its management & make the attempt to destroy a vessel of the enemy as early as practicable."

Three days later, Beauregard's Chief of Staff, General Jordan, directed the submarine be turned over to Hunley. Hunley then brought a crew to Charleston from Mobile and set about readying the ship. A number of practice dives were made.

--Old B-R'er

150 Years Ago Today: Daring Confederates in the Chesapeake

SEPTEMBER 19TH, 1863  A Confederate Navy small boat expedition under Acting Masters John Y. Beall and Edward McGuire captures the schooner Alliance loaded with sutler stores in the Chesapeake Bay. Two days later they captured another schooner and the next night, the 22nd, captured another two schooners.

All but the Alliance were cast adrift at Wachapreague Inlet.

The Confederates next tried to run the blockade in the Alliance, but ran aground and was burned on the morning of 23 September after the USS Thomas Freeborn opened fire on her.

A combined Union Army-Navy effort failed to stop Beall and his men who later destroyed several lighthouses on Maryland's eastern shore before being captured 15 November 1863.

Sounds Like We Have Another Read. --Old B-Runner

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Shootings At the Washington Navy Yard

Sad that 12 are confirmed killed, but at least the shooter is also dead.

I have come across mention of the Washington Navy Yard many times in the Civil War Naval Chronology, especially in terms of Rear Admiral John Dahlgren who ran it until transferred to command of the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron. Abraham Lincoln visited the navy yard on several occasions to view experiments with new weapons.

I also came across the Washington Navy Yard in connection with several warships that were burned there when the British captured the city during the War of 1812.   See my War of 1812 blog.

--Old B-Runner

Sunday, September 15, 2013

CSS Oconee (Savannah)-- Part 2

The CSS Savannah (late CSS Oconee) was attached to Flag Officer Josiah Tattnall's fleet, whose ships were so small, it was dubbed the "Mosquito Fleet," one of two in Confederate service, the other being in the sounds of North Carolina around Roanoke Island.

The ships of this impromptu fleet, based out of Savannah, consisted of the Savannah and three converted tugs, the Resolute, Sampson and Lady Davis.

--Old B-Runner

Friday, September 13, 2013

CSS Oconee-- Part 1

From July 2013 to April 2014, I was unable to use paragraphs in any of my blogs.  I am now going back in 2018 and putting them in where they should be.  This is what my blogs looked like during the no paragraph period.

Last month, I wrote about the CSS Oconee sinking in a storm in the Atlantic Ocean. I'd never heard of it so some more research was in order. ////  From the New Georgia Encyclopedia. /// This was the second of three ships named CSS Savannah. The first one was a privateer that had a very short career. The second CSS Savannah was a wooden gunboat (the third was an ironclad). Later, this one was referred to as the Old Savannah. /// Originally it was a sidewheel steamer named Everglades built in 1856 in New York and purchased by the state of Georgia and converted into a 406-ton gunboat mounting one 32-pounder cannon. And, it was under the command of one Lt. John Newland Maffitt, whom I have been writing about a lot lately in connection with his command of the Confederate commerce raider CSS Florida. /// --Old B-Runner

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Gun That Fired at Fort Sumter Now in Galena

I wrote about this gun, a 20-pdr. Blakely rifle in my Civil War blog Saw the Elephant today. It was given to the Confederacy by a citizen of Charleston residing in Europe after that state's secession Dec. 1860 and had a plaque on it.

It is thought to have fired on Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor on April 12, 1861, and was involved in the defense of that city until it was evacuated. The Blakely was captured at Cheraw, SC, and now is in Grant Park in Galena, Illinois.

It has an interesting history. Go to the site and hit the Galena Blakely label.

From Charleston to Galena.  --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

That Confederate Ironclad at Tarboro, NC

I first wrote aboout this on April 5th of this year.

On Saturday night, in Mt. Airy (Mayberry), NC, I ran into a brother from another mother now living in Rocky Mount, but originally from Tarboro. He was also a big Civil War nut as well as World War II and we had a great time talking about those two subjects out in the gazebo of the Mayberry Motor Inn on the Andy Griffith Parkway, old US-52 bypass.

We talked about the 11th NC Infantry regiment of which he is a reenactor and Wilmington and one thing after another. His poor wife (they were there celebrating their 7th anniversary) had to have been really bored. He was surprised about my knowledge of the 11th NC and its colonel, Collett Leventhorpe, but I have wrtten a lot about them in my Saw the Elephant Civil War blog in the past week.

Talk turned to Tarboro and its role, then I remembered writing about a Confederate ironclad being destroyed on the stocks by a Union raid in July, 1863. He also knew of the ship and we got to talking about what the name of it might have been had it gotten nearer to completion. Neither of us felt it would be named the CSS Tar, for the river it was being built on, like the CSS Neuse.

We decided most likely it would have been the CSS Pamlico for the sound the Tar River empties into (like the CSS Albemarle)at the coast.

Hey, Pamlico Has a Better Ring Than Tar. --Old B-R'er

Charlotte Navy Yard-- Part 2: Varied Output

The government in Richmond purchased land in Charlotte and the navy yard quickly started taking place. In early May, the first equipment, including lathes, planers and a small steam hammer were moved to the city.

And this was no backwater facility. It manufactured nearly all of the propellers, shafts and anchors for the Confederate Navy. Although the complete power plants for ships (boilers and engines) weren't made there, many of the parts were.

The Charlotte Navy Yard was the only one capable of such heavy forging. They also produced ordnance for vessels, including gun carriages. In June 1863, Charlotte became responsible for casting all the shot and shell for the vessels in Charleston and Savannah.

In addition, special shot, able to penetrate Union ironclads, was produced.

The navy yard continued operation until the flight of the Confederate government in April 1865.

--Old B-Runner

Monday, September 9, 2013

Charlotte Navy Yard-- Part 1: To Replace the Norfolk Navy Yard

From the Encyclopedia of North Carolina.

A quick look at a map would confirm that this would be an unlikely place for the Confederacy to have a navy yard, but it was one of the biggest ones. But, it was part of Confederate policy to move navy yards far from coastal areas to be safe from Union attack because of their control of the sea.

The Charlotte Navy Yard was established in May 1862. This one was to replace the one lost at Norfolk, Virginia. Earlier in the year, when it became apparent that the Confederacy would eventually lose Norfolk, Secretary of the Navy Stephen Mallory instructed Norfolk's commander to quietly start transferring machine tools and equipment that were not being used on current projects.

Charlotte was selected because of its rail connections with coastal cities.

How Many Miles Was Charlotte From the Coast? --Old B-Runner

Friday, September 6, 2013

Confederates Building Warships On NC Rivers

SEPTEMBER 17TH, 1863-- Reports of Confederate vessels being built on North Carolina Rivers was a source of great concern for the Union Navy. Secretary Welles wrote Secretary of War Stanton suggesting Union troops attack reported sites.

He was especially concerned with an ironclad, the CSS Albemarle and a possible floating battery being built on the Roanoke River. Should they be completed and get down the river, Welles wrote, "Our possession of the sounds would be jeopardized."

--Old B-Runner

Thursday, September 5, 2013

150 Years Ago: September 10th to 13th, 1863

SEPTEMBER 10TH-- Little Rock, Arkansas, captured by Union Army. Union naval forces operating on the White River.

SEPTEMBER 12TH-- USS Eugenie captured b-r Alabama off Chadeleur Islands, Louisiana

**  Blockade Runner Fox destroyed by own crew to prevent capture by USS Genesee.

SEPTEMBER 13TH-- USS Cimarron captures British b-r Jupiter at Wassaw Sound, Georgia.

**  Some 20 crew members from the USS Rattler captured by Confederate cavalry while attending church services at Rodney, Mississippi.

**  USS De Soto, captured steamer Montgomery in the Gulf of Mexico.

That Will Teach You to Go to Church. --Old B-Runner

150 Years Ago: September 8-9, 1863-- Boat Attack on Fort Sumter Fails

SEPTEMBER 8TH-9TH-- Union forces mounted a boat attack on Fort Sumter late at night. It was led by Commander Stevens and consisted of more than 30 boats and some 400 sailors and Marines.

Unfortunately for them, the Confederates had learned about it in advance, thanks to a key to the Northern signal code they had recovered from the wreck of the USS Keokuk. They waited until the enemy was nearly ashore then opened up a heavy fire and used hand grenades.

The CSS Chicora aides with a sweeping, enfilading fire. Fort Moultrie also opened fire. The attack was repulsed and over 100 men captured. For the next several weeks, a period of relative quiet prevailed at Charleston.

--Old B-R'er

September 6-8, 1863: The Battle of Sabine Pass -- A Confederate Victory

SEPTEMBER 6TH-7TH-- The joint amphibious assault on Sabine Pass was intended to be a surprise, but delays enabled the Confederates time to prepare.

SEPTEMBER 8TH-- The joint attack on Sabine Pass commenced with the USS Clifton crossing the bar and unsuccessfully trying to draw fire from the fort and CSS Uncle Ben. Three more ships and army transports then crossed the bar.

There were two channels at the pass, one on the Texas side and one on the Louisiana side. Confederate guns had the ranges marked and the USS Clifton and USS Sachem were both hit and forced to surrender. After the loss of these two ships, the attack was called off and the Union forces returned to New Orleans.

Finally a Confederate Victory. --Old B-R'er

"Take It If You Can"-- Fort Sumter

SEPTEMBER 7TH-8TH-- After the evacuation of Morris Island, Rear Admiral Dahlgren demanded the surrender of Fort Sumter. "I replied, General Beauregard wrote, "to take it if he could."

Indeed, after all the bombardments it now had the appearance "from seaward...of a steep, sandy island more than that of a fort."

Dahlgren prepares to attack Fort Sumter again, but the monitor USS Weehawken runs aground and came under heavy fire from Fort Moultrie and batteries on Sullivan's and James Islands. The USS New Ironsides took up position between the Weehawken and Fort Moultrie, drawing fire and was forced to withdraw,  being hit 50 times after running out of ammunition.

The Weehawken was finally floated with the assistance of tugs.

--Old B-Runner

Morris Island Secretly Evacuated By Confederates

SEPTEMBER 6TH, 1863-- After having been under constant bombardment for sixty days, Confederate forces secretly abandoned Morris Island by boat at night. Fort Wagner's commander, Col. Lawrence M. Keitt reported that the continuous bombardment, especially from guns on the USS New Ironsides, had killed 100 of his 900 men on September 5th alone.

Charleston commander, General Beauregard agreed it was time to leave the island. Covered by the CSS Charleston and on barges manned by sailors, the garrisons of Gregg and Wagner were evacuated. Union forces did not become aware of the operation until the last group was taken off.

---Old B-Runner

Sneak Attack on Fort Gregg Called Off


Small boats manned by Union sailors transported troops for a surprise night time attack on Fort Gregg on Morris Island. But an exchange of shots at Vincent Creek alerted the fort's defenders and the attempt was called off.

Another attack the next night found the Southerners still ready and was also called off.

--Old B-R'er

150 Years Ago: September 2nd to 4th, 1863-- Operations in Florida, Texas and Charleston

SEPTEMBER 2ND-3RD-- Boat expedition from the USS Gem of the Sea reconnoitered Peace Creek, Florida, looking for Confederate guerrillas reported lurking in area. Destroyed buildings used as depot for blockade-runners and rendezvous for the guerrillas.

SEPTEMBER 4TH--- Commodore H.H. Bell, commanding the West Gulf Blockading Squadron notifies Welles of an intended attack on Sabine Pass, Texas. The Army will cooperate.

MAJOR GENERAL JEREMY F. GILMER writes Confederate Sec. of Navy Mallory requesting "as many sailors as you can possibly give us from Richmond, Wilmington, Savannah and other points---not less than 200---to be employed as oarsmen to convey troops and materiel to and from (Morris) island."

As Union batteries found the range of Cummings Point, where transports landed troops and supplies, it had become necessary to use rowboats crossing Vincent Creek.

--Old B-Runner

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

More Fighting at Charleston


 Rear Admiral Dahlgren, in the USS Weehawken renews attack on Fort Sumter with his ironclads. Moving to within 500 yards of the fort, they devastate the eastern parapet. Confederates hit his ironclads 70 times.

One shot hit the Weehawken's turret, wounding Captain Oscar Badger in the leg.

This was the third Flag Captain Dahlgren had lost in two months.

--Old B-Runner

150 Year Ago: September 1st, 1863: Regulations for Blockade-Runners


 Major General Whiting at Wilmington, issued regulations for blockade-runners. The specific instructions were intended to prevent Union spies in town from gaining information of use.

**  Commander Catesby ap R. Jones, commanding the the Confederate naval gun foundry and ordnance works at Selma, Alabama, ordered a small quantity of munitions to Admiral Franklin Buchanan for the defense of Mobile.

Munitions were becoming increasingly scarce with most on hand being shipped to Charleston.

--Old B-R'er

S.P. Lee's Instructions for Blockaders


Rear Admiral S.P. Lee issues instructions to Union blockade ships saying they must not waste fuel by unnecessarily moving around during daylight. They are not to be too close together and to have assigned ay and night anchorages and positions.

"Vessels should weigh anchor before sunset and be in their night positions by dark, as when the draft of vessels or stage of tide permits, escapes are made out at or near to evening twilight, without showing black smoke and inward in the morning at daylight.

The distance to be kept from the bar, the batteries, and the beach must be regulated by the state of the weather and atmosphere and the light. When vessels anchor at night, they must be underway one hour before dawn of day, so as not to expose their position, and to be ready to chase."

--Old B-R'er

150 Years Ago: August 29th to 31st, 1863: Confederates Accidentally Sink Their Own Ship

AUGUST 29TH: Secretary Mallory writes urging the rapid completion of Confederate ships being built in Europe.

AUGUST 30TH: CSS Georgia captured and bonded the ship John Watts in mid-South Atlantic.

**  Oops. Confederate transport steamer Sumter sunk by batteries on Sullivan's Island (by Charleston, SC) when they mistook her for a Union monitor in the fog and heavy weather.

AUGUST 31ST: USS Gem of the Sea captured sloop Richard in Peace Creek, Florida.

--Old B-Runner

The Hunley Sinks for First Time in Charleston Harbor

AUGUST 29TH: Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley, Lt. Payne, sank in Charleston Harbor for the first time. It had made several practice dives and was moored alongside the steamer Etiwan at the dock at Fort Johnson.

The steamer moved away from the dock unexpectedly and the Hunley was drawn into its side.

The submarine filled rapidly with water and sank. Lt. Payne and two others escaped but five drowned.

The Hunley was later raised and refitted and another crew found for it.

Not Volunteering For That Job.  --Old B-Runner

150 Years Ago: August 26th to 28th, 1863: CSS Alabama and CSS Tuscaloosa Rendezvous


Welles wants weekly reports and sketches of damages done to the monitors at Charleston.

Boat crew from the USS Beauregard, a former Confederate privateer, seized schooner Phoebe off Jupiter Inlet, Florida.


USS Preble destroyed by accidental fire at Pensacola, Florida. Wikipedia has the ship being burned on April 27, 1863.


CSS Alabama and CSS Tuscaloosa meet briefly off African coast.

**  Lt. George Gift, CSN, visited the ironclads CSS Tennessee and CSS Nashville building above Mobile and is quite impressed.

--Old B-R'er

Keep Those Whitworths Out of Wilmington

AUGUST 26TH, 1863:

Secretary Welles ordered the USS Fort Jackson to cruise the paths taken by blockade-runners between Bermuda and Wilmington.

Information had reached him that two large Whitworth guns, weighing 22 tons each, had been carried to Bermuda by the blockade-runner Gibraltar, formerly the CSS Sumter, and he was hoping to intercept them at sea before Col. Lamb found use for them at Fort Fisher.

And, He Sure Would. --Old B-Runner

150 Years Ago: August 21 to 25th,1863-- Two Daring Escapades

I am going to catch up to September so will keep items short and simple.

AUGUST 21-22ND: After four days of heavy bombardment on Fort Wagner, the Navy attacks heavily-damaged Fort Sumter.

AUGUST 22ND: Boat crew from USS Shokoken, Lt. Cushing, destroyed schooner Alexander Cooper in New Topsail Inlet, NC, then destroyed some salt works.

AUGUST 23RD: Confederate boat expedition under Lt. Wood, CSN, captured USS Reliance and USS Satellite off Windmill Point on the Rappahannock River, Virginia.

**  Operations against Charleston defenses continue.

AUGUST 24TH: It was found that there was not enough water under the USS New Ironsides for the submarine Hunley to pass under it. It was decided to use a spike and back out and pull it against the ship.

AUGUST 25TH: The CSS Satellite, captured two days later and now under command of Lt. Wood, captured schooners Golden Rod, Coquette and Two Brothers at the mouth of the Rappahannock River.

--Old B-R'er

Why It Takes So Long to Do This Blog

The last several posts of yesterday all had their origins in my War of 1812 blog. The USS John Adams was a "subscription" ship built to help the U.S. Navy in the Quasi War with France. Most of these these "subscription" ships were sold in 1801 and two were destroyed at Washington Navy Yard in 1814 during the burning of Washington, DC.

However, the John Adams (not to be confused with the USS Adams), went on to serve in all the wars to the end of the Civil War.

While doing research on the John Adams, I found out that one of its crew, Oliver O'Brien, had won a Medal of Honor for his service in capturing and destroying a blockade-runner. I had to do some research on him. I later found out that that ship was the Beatrice. I found mention of this ship, but no definite information on it or report of the incident in the ORN.

But, I did find out a whole lot more on blockade-runners in general from newspaper reports in the New York Times and Liverpool Journal from the time, and, had to write that down for future blog entries.

No Wonder It Takes So Long. --Old B-Runner

Monday, September 2, 2013

Oliver O'Brien, Medal of Honor Winner

In the last post, I mentioned this man from the USS John Adams (classified as a sloop at the time) as receiving a Congressional Medal of Honor for his role in the capture of a blockade-runner at Charleston, SC.

Further research in Wikipedia.

Oliver O'Brien (1839-Oct. 1, 1894)   Born in Boston and enlisted in the Navy from there. On November 28, 1864, while serving on the USS John Adams was involved in the capture of the blockade runner Beatrice off Sullivan's Island, Charleston, SC.

O'Brien commanded a launch which approached and boarded the ship despite heavy fire from nearby Fort Moultrie. He and his crew confiscated items and set fire to the ship and returned to the John Adams.

It didn't take long to receive his Medal of Honor, which was issued December 31, 1864. He is buried at Oak Hill Cemetery in Glouchester, Massachusetts.

---Old B-Runer

USS John Adams-- Part 2: Service In the Civil War

It arrived back in the United States January 1862, carrying letters for President Lincoln from the King of Siam along with a presentation sword and a pair of ivory tusks.

It was sent to Newport, Rhode Island, the wartime location of the US Naval Academy and served as a training ship for midshipmen. In the summer of 1863, it joined the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron and took station off Morris Island inside the Charleston Bar where it served as flagship of the inner blockade line.

The John Adams sailed into Charleston Harbor after the evacuation of the city by Confederate forces in February 1865.

One of the ship's crewmembers, Coxswain Oliver O'Brien, won the Medal of Honor in 1864 for his service capturing a blockade-runner. Another crewmember, Pierre d'Orleans, was a member of the French royal family.

--Old B-Runner

USS John Adams-- Part 1: Veteran of Six Wars

In my War of 1812 blog, I recently wrote about the USS John Adams which participated in that war and was still around and served during the Civil War.

From Wikipedia.

The John Adams was built by subscription by the people of Charleston, SC (as it turns out, they were probably not too happy about it later) in 1799 as a 30 gun frigate. In 1809, it was converted to a corvette and in 1830 back to a frigate.

It fought in the Quasi War with France both 1st and 2nd Barbary Wars, the War of 1812, Mexican War and finally the Civil War.

Quite a remarkable service record.

When the Civil War broke out, the USS John Adams was in Asia.

-- Old B-Runner