Tuesday, January 31, 2017

January 31, 1862: Effectiveness of Union Blockade Depends Upon Whom You Ask-- Part 2.

The two questions posed to various European maritime powers:  Was the sinking of the Stone Fleet in Charleston Harbor an outrage and is the blockade effective?

FRANCE:    "Pronounces the destruction of the harbor ... 'vindictive vandalism' .. the blockade to be  'ineffective and illegal'

"PRUSSIA winds up by declaring the sinking of the stone fleet to be a crime and an outrage against civilization....

"SARDINIA agrees with France, but ... in even stronger terms ...

"AUSTRIA declares 'the blockade altogether illegal' ....

"SPAIN declares blockade ... 'altogether ineffective' ...."

On the other hand, Secretary of the Navy Welles strongly maintained that the effectiveness of the blockade did "destroy any pretext on the part of the foreign governments to aid the Confederacy."

--Old B-R'er

January 31, 1862: Europe Looks At the Union Blockade At This Stage-- Part 1

JANUARY 31ST, 1862:  A British memorandum reaching the Confederacy, regarding the effectiveness of the Union blockade and sinking of the "Stone Fleet" in Charleston harbor, presented the views of various European nations:  "About ten days ago the English foreign office submitted the two following questions to the maritime powers of Europe:

"First.  Is the sinking of the stone fleet ... an outrage on civilization?  second.  Is the blockade effective ...  Is it now binding?"

Their Answers Next.  --Old B-Runner

155 Years Ago, January 26-29, 1862-- Part 2: Action at Fort Pulaski

Though the exchange of fire was sharp, three of Tattnall's steamers made good their passage to the fort, the other two being unable to get through.

In his report of the reconnaissance operation, Captain Davis noted:  "As a demonstration the appearance of the naval and military forces in Wilmington and Wassaw Sound has had complete success.  Savannah was thrown into a state of great alarm, and all the energies of the place have been exerted to the utmost to increase its military defenses, for which purpose troops have been withdrawn from other places."

On the Confederate side, General Robert E. Lee commented:  "If the enemy succeeds in removing the obstacles [in Wall's Cut and Wilmington Narrows] there is nothing to prevent their reaching the Savannah River, and we have nothing afloat that contend with them."

--Old B-R'er

155 Years Ago, January 26-29, 1862-- Part 1: Action at Fort Pulaski

JANUARY 26-29, 1862:  A Union squadron commanded by Captain Davis, consisting of the USS Ottawa, Seneca and other vessels, with 2400 troops under Brigadier General Horatio G. Wright conducted a  strategic reconnaissance of Wassaw Sound, Georgia.

Telegraph lines between Fort Pulaski and Savannah were severed.

Five Confederate gunboats under Commodore Tattnall were engaged while attempting to carry stores to Fort Pulaski

--Old B-Runner

Monday, January 30, 2017

January 30, 1862: USS Monitor Launched

JANAUARY 30TH, 1862:  The USS Monitor, the United State's first sea-going ironclad vessel, was launched at Greenpoint, New York.

Assistant Secretary of the Navy Fox wired  John Ericsson, referring to the Monitor's launching:  "I congratulate you and trust she will be a success.  Hurry her for sea, as the Merrimack is nearly ready at Norfolk, and we wish to wend her here."

Somewhat of a Success.  Naval Architecture Would Never Be the Same Again.  --Old B-Runner

Where's the Confederate Flag?

The January 13, 2017, Wilmington (NC) Star-News article "6 reasons to visit Fort Fisher this weekend" also had a big picture of Union and Confederate re-enactors lined up beside one another.  However, just a United States flag is shown.

I wondered about that, and then someone wrote into the January 21 Buzz column in the paper and said, "StarNews picture of Fort Fisher re-enactors!  Is this a PC picture?  Where is the battle flag for the South!"

I noticed its absence and wondered the same thing.

Oh Well.  --Old B-R'er

155 Years Ago, January 25-26, 1862: Second Stone Fleet Sunk at Charleston

JANUARY 25TH, 1862:  The USS Archer, Acting Lieutenant John W. Kittredge, captured schooner J.J. McNeil off Pass Cavallo, Texas.

JANUARY 26TH, 1862:  The second "Stone Fleet" sunk in Charleston Harbor at Maffitt's Channel.  The first "Stone Fleet" had been sunk in the Main Channel on December 20, 1861.

--Old B-Runner

155 Years Ago, January 25, 1862: Effective Blockading

JANUARY 25TH, 1862:   Secretary of Navy Welles wrote to Flag Officer Du Pont, commanding the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron:  "The importance of a rigorous blockade at every point under your command can not be too strongly impressed or felt.

"By cutting off all communication we not only distress and cripple the States in insurrection, but by effective blockade we destroy any excuse or pretext on the part of foreign governments to aid and relieve those who are waging war upon the Government.

No Kidding.  --Old B-R'er

Saturday, January 28, 2017

155 Years Ago, January 25, 1862: Need Oil for the Merrimack

JANUARY 25TH, 1862:  Flag Officer French Forrest, CSN, commanding the Navy Yard at Norfolk, wrote to Major General Huger:  "I have just learned that one of the enemy's vessels has been driven ashore with several hundred gallons of oil on board ...  We are without oil for the Merrimack and the importance of supplying this deficiency is to obvious for me to urge anything more in its support."

As was true throughout the economy of the blockaded Confederacy, lack of critical supplies delayed the construction of the ironclad ram.

--Old B-Runner

155 Years Ago, January 24, 1862: Anothe Runner Captured

JANUARY 24, 1862:  The USS Mercedita, Commander Stellwagen, and other ships of the Gulf Blockading Squadron, chased aground schooner Julia and an unidentified bark attempting to run the blockade at the mouth of the Mississippi River; both were laden with cotton and were burned to prevent capture.

--Old B-R'er

155 Yeas Ago, January 23-24: Union Captures a Ship and Loses a Lightboat

JANUARY 23RD, 1862:  Schooner Samuel Rotan, tender to USS Colorado, Captain Bailey,  captured steamer Calhoun in East Bay, Mississippi River, with cargo of powder, coffee and chemicals.

JANUARY 24TH, 1862:  A Union lightboat off Cape Henry went aground and was captured by Confederates.

--Old B-Runner

155 Years Ago, January 23, 1862: Difficulties Crossing the Bar in North Carolina

JANUARY 23RD, 1862:  Flag Officer Goldsborough wrote from Hatteras Inlet that the 17 naval vessels present (two others reported later) for the Roanoke Island expedition were over the bar inside Pamlico Sound.

Bad weather and shallow, tortuous channel, which Goldsborough termed "this perplexing gut," delayed entry of the Naval vessels into the Sound, and presented extreme difficulties when attempting to get the heavily-laden troops transports over the bar.

--Old B-Runner

Six Reasons to Visit Fort Fisher This Weekend-- Part 3: Big Guns, Experts and Descendants


In addition to the scores of Civil War-era rifles, artillery crews will fire several cannons including a recently refurbished replica of a rifled and banded 32-pounder.


Nationally respected author Rod Gragg ("Confederate Goliath:  the Battle of Fort Fisher") will deliver the keynote address at 11 a.m. followed by local historian and author Richard Triebe at 2:30 p.m..


If you can trace your family heritage back that far, Fort Fisher descendants are invited to gather for a reunion 8:30 a.m. to noon at the Courtyard Carolina Beach Oceanfront Marriott.  Noted Fort fisher expert Chris Fonvielle will speak.

--Sure Woulda liked To have Been there.  --Old B-Runner

Friday, January 27, 2017

155 Years Ago, January 22, 1862: The Water's Rising at Fort Henry

JANUARY 22ND, 1862:  The USS Lexington, Lt. Shirk, with Brigadier General Charles F. Smith on board, conducted one of the frequent gunboat reconnaissances up the Tennessee River, and fired a few long-range shots at Fort Henry.

The rising waters were making operations feasible as the new armored gunboats were becoming available.  Shirk reported, "The river is so full at present (and is still rising) that whenever there is water, there is a channel."

--Old B-Runner

155 Years Ago, January 22, 1862: Steady Progress on the USS Monitor

JANUARY 22ND, 1862:  Lieuetenant Worden reported  the steady progress toward the completion of the USS Monitor.  Awaiting the 11-inch guns which would make up the ironclad's battery, Worden noted that, "It will take four or five days to sight them after they arrive."

--Old B-Runner


155 Years Ago, January 21, 1862: Mortar Boats Could Be Effective at Donelson

JANUARY 21, 1862:  Lt. S.L. Phleps, on the basis of his own reconnaissance missions and intelligence reports reaching him, re-emphasized the advisability of using mortar boats at Fort Donelson, noting that "the position of Fort Donelson is favorable for the greatest effect of bombshells, both in and about it.

"Effective mortar boats must prove the most destructive adversaries earth forts can have to contend with."

However, Flag Officer Foote, urged into early action by the Army commanders, was unable to use mortar boats to "soften up" the Confederate works at Donelson.

**  The USS Ethan Allen, Acting Lt. William B. Eaton, captured schooner Olive Branch bound from Cedar Keys, Florida, to Nassau with cargo of turpentine.

--Old B-Runner

155 Years Ago, January 20, 1862: The Bormann Fuse

JANUARY 20TH, 1862:  Boarding party from the USS R.R. Cuyler, Lt. F. Winslow, assisted by the USS Huntsville and two cutters from the USS Potomac, captured blockade running schooner J.W. Wilder, grounded about 15 miles east of Mobile.

**  Flag Officer Goldsborough, having arrived at Hatteras Inlet on 13 January, ordered Commander Rowan to be certain that all officers in the squadron had been instructed in the use of the Bormann fuse in the 9-inch shrapnel shells, which were to be used in the attack on Roanoke Island.

Careful planning and training were essential elements of victory at Roanoke Island as elsewhere.

--Old B-Runner

Thursday, January 26, 2017

155 Years Ago, January 23, 1862: Foote Needs and Gets Sailors

JANUARY 23RD, 1862:  Flag Officer Foote sent another insistent plea for men to secretary of Navy Welles, this time cutting his needs to the bone:  "Can we have 600 men?  Army officers object to their men shipping.

"Boats, except the Benton, are in commission waiting for men."

Twelve days later, Assistant Secretary of Navy Fox wired Foote:  "The Secretary of War today gave direction to detail from several Massachusetts regiments those soldiers who have been seamen up to a number of 600.  These will be sent to you without arms or officers in detachments of 100, commencing next Monday.

--Old B-Runner

155 Years Ago, January 20, 1862: Gulf Blockading Squadron Divided

JANUARY 20TH, 1862:  Secretary of the Navy Welles ordered the Gulf Blockading Squadron divided into two squadrons upon the arrival of Farragut at Key West:  Eastern Gulf Blockading squadron under Flag Officer McKean, and Western Gulf Blockading Squadron under Flag Officer Farragut.

Farragut's area of responsibility began on the Florida coast at the mouth of the Choctawhatchee River and extended over the Gulf to the west; McKean's jurisdiction covered the Florida Gulf and east coasts as far as Cape Canaveral and also included Cuba and the Bahamas.

--Old B-Runner

Six Reasons To Visit Fort Fisher This Weekend-- Part 2: New Interpretive Signs and Civil War Photography


The event will also mark the debut of five new historical interpretive markers along the trail encircling the remaining mounds of the earthen structure.


Wilmington photographer Harry taylor will be on the site documenting the faces of visitors with period-appropriate wet plate technology similar to that of famed Civil War photographer Matthew Brady.

Look Like It, Feel Like It. Poise for the Picture.  --Old B-Runner

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Six Reasons to Visit Fort FisherThis Weekend-- Part 1: Col. Lamb's Cottage

From the January 13, 2017, Wilmington (NC) Star-News by Paul Stephen.

The 152nd anniversary of the Second Battle of Fort Fisher was commemorated the next day.  I was 50 miles away, but busy clearing everything out of Mom's condo at Topsail Beach to attend.  I sure would have rather been there.

"History is alive this weekend as an army of re-enactors pay tribute to the 152nd anniversary of the Battle of Fort Fisher Saturday.  If you haven't attended one of the yearly remembrances, let us give you a few reasons to change that.

1.  A NEW EXHIBIT:  Site officials will debut a recreation of Confederate garrison commander Col. William Lamb's cottage -- a permanent addition to the Fort Fisher visitors center -- during the festivities.

--Old B-R'er

155 Years Ago, January 20-21, 1862: Importance of Roanoke Island

JANUARY 20-21ST, 1862:  The CSS Sea Bird, Flag Officer Lynch, with the CSS Raleigh in company, reconnoitered Hatteras Inlet and "there saw a large fleet of steamers and transports."

Lynch pointed out in a letter to Confederate Secretary of Navy Mallory the importance of the area around  which Roanoke Island controlled:  "Here is the great thoroughfare from Albemarle Sound and its tributaries, and if the enemy obtain lodgments or succeed in passing here he will cut off a very rich country from Norfolk market."

--Old B-Runner

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

155 Years Ago, January 19, 1862: Blockade Runner Captured Off Florida

JANUARY 19, 1862:  The USS Itasca, Lt. Charles H.B. Caldwell, captured schooner Lizzie Weston off Florida en route to Jamaica with cargo of cotton.

--Old B-Runner

155 Years Ago, January 18, 1862: Engagement in Texas

JANUARY 18TH, 1862:  The USS Midnight, Lt. James Trathen, and USS Rachel Seaman, Acting Master Quincy A. Hooper, shelled Velasco, Texas.  Lt. Trathen reported that  "One object had been gained in this instance, making the enemy expend his ammunition."

Colonel Joseph Bates, commanding at Velasco, wrote:  "While the enemy remain on their vessels, with their long-range guns, &c., they can annoy and harass us, but when they come on land we will whip them certain..."

--Old B-Runner

155 Years Ago, January 17 and 18, 1862: The CSS Sumter Captures Two More Union Ships

JANUARY 17TH, 1862:  The USS Connecticut, Commander Woodhull, captured blockade running British schooner Emma off the Florida Keys.

JANUARY 18TH 1862:  The CSS Sumter, Commander Semmes, captured and burned the bark Neapolitan, with cargo of fruit and sulphur, in the Straits of Gibraltar, and captured and bonded the bark Investigator with cargo of iron.

The USS Kearsarge was ordered to Cadiz, Spain, in an effort to track the Sumter down.  This ship would later become a real big problem for Semmes.

--Old B-Runner

Monday, January 23, 2017

155 Years Ago, January 17, 1862: Blockade Running Into Florida

JANUARY 17TH, 1862:  General Robert E, Lee's orders to Brigadier General James H. Trapier, commanding in Florida, illustrated the growing impact of the Union blockade:  "Arrangements have been made for running into Mosquito Inlet, on the east coast of Florida, arms and ammunition, by means of small fast steamers.

"The department considers it necessary that at least two moderate sized guns be placed at New Smyrna, to protect the landing in the event of our steamers being chased by the enemy's gunboats ....  The cargoes of the steamers are so valuable and vitally important, that no precaution should be omitted."

Lee Knows.  he Always Knows..  --Old B-Runner

155 Years Ago, January 17, 1862-- Part 2: More Reconnoitering

Lieutenant Phelps reported the results of a 5 October reconnaissance:  "I examined the fort [Henry] carefully at a distance of from 2 to 2 1/2 miles....  The fortification is quite an extensive work and armed with heavy guns, mounted en barbette, and garrisoned by a considerable force.

"It is situated about 1 1/2 miles above the head of Panther Creek Island....  There is no channel upon one side of the island, and a narrow and somewhat crooked one upon the other, which continues so till within a mile of the fort, where the water becomes of a good depth from bank to bank, some 600 yards."

Detailed knowledge and careful preparations in large measure provided for the ultimate success of the February offensive operations against both Forts Henry and Donelson with the objective of driving the Confederates out of Kentucky where they held a line across the southern part of the state.

--Old B-R'er

155 Years Ago, January 17, 1862-- Part 1: Reconnoitering Fort Henry

JANUARY 17TH, 1862:  The USS Conestoga, Lt. S.L. Phelps, and USS Lexington, Lt. Shirk, reconnoitered the Tennessee River below Fort Henry, attempting to determine the location of a reported "masked battery" at the foot of Panther Creek Island.

Having become convinced that the battery had been removed, Phelps fired "a few shells" at the fort, but the range was too great for his guns to reach "...our batteries," reported General Albert S, Johnston, CSA, "though ready, did not reply."

As early as October 1861, the Navy had initiated a careful examination of the Confederate works in the area in preparation for the Army-Navy assault on Fort Henry.

--Old B-Runner

Sunday, January 22, 2017

155 Years Ago, January 16, 1862: Eads Gunboats Commissioned

JANUARY 16TH, 1862:  Flag officer Foote reported:  "The seven gunboats built by contract were put into commission today."

The Eads gunboats augmented Foote's wooden ships and would turn the tide in the Union's effort to split the Confederacy.

**  The USS Albatross, Comamnder Prentiss, destroyed the British blockade runner York near Bogue Inlet, North Carolina, where the York had run aground.

--Old B-R'er

Saturday, January 21, 2017

155 Years Ago, January 16, 1862: Union Attack on Cedar Keys, Florida

JANUARY 16TH, 1862:  Gunfire and boat crews, including Marines, from the USS Hatteras, Commander Emmons, destroyed a Confederate battery, seven small vessels loaded with cotton and turpentine ready to run the blockade, a railroad depot and wharf, and the telegraph office at Cedar Keys, Florida.

A small detachment of Confederate troops were taken prisoner.

Such unceasing attacks from the sea at any point of her long coast and inland waterways cost the South sorely in losses, economic disruption and dispersion of strength in defense.

--Old B-Runner

Friday, January 20, 2017

155 Years Ago, January 15, 1862: Outfitting the Rams at New Orleans-- Part 2

Secretary of War Benjamin wrote:  "Each Captain will ship his own crew, fit up his own vessel, and get ready within the shortest possible delay.  It is not proposed to rely on cannons, which these men are not skilled in using, nor on firearms.  The men will be armed with cutlasses.

"On each boat, however, there will be one heavy gun, to be used in case the stern of any of the [Union] gunboats should be exposed to fire, for they are entirely unprotected behind, and if attempting to escape by flight would be very vulnerable by shot from a pursuing vessel."

If Not the Ram, Then the Cannon.  --Old B-R'er

155 Years Ago, January 15, 1862: Outfitting the Rams at New Orleans-- Part 1

JANUARY 15TH, 1862:  Major General Mansfield Lovell, CSA, at the request of Confederate Secretary of War Benjamin, with the assistance of Lieutenant Thomas B. Huger, CSN, took over 14 steamers at New Orleans to be armed and used to bolster defenses in the area.

The plan which came from the War Department, was to outfit the steamships with iron rams to attack the Union river gunboats.

--Old B-Runner

155 Years Ago, January 15, 1862-- Part 2: Overcoming the Challenges on Western Waters

Foote was constantly beset with the problem of having too much to do with too little material, even to the point of being unable to train his crews in gunnery.

That he met these difficulties successfully, however, was demonstrated in the Union Navy's steady sweep down the western rivers.

--Old B-R'er

155 Years Ago, January 15, 1862-- Part 1: Wasting Ammunition at Columbus

JANUARY 15TH, 1861:  Flag officer Foote advised Lt. Paulding of the USS St. Louis, "I must enjoin you to save your ammunition.  No gun must be fired without your order....  You will be particular in noting the range of the first shot, its heighth and distance.

"I was surprised yesterday, at Columbus, to see three or four of your shells bursting at such an elevation.... I am aware of your difficulties in a new and undisciplined crew and officers, but make these criticisms as indicative of correcting things in the future.  Save your ammunition and let the first gun show you how to aim for the second."

In Other Words, Do Better!!  Quit Wasting Ammunition.  --Old B-Runner

155 Years Ago, January 13, 1862: Demonstrations on the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers

JANUARY 13, 1862:  Flag Officer Foote ordered three gunboats up the Cumberland and two up the Tennessee River on demonstrations.

--Old B-R'er

Thursday, January 19, 2017

155 Years Ago, January 13, 1862: Worden Ordered to Command USS Moitor

JANUARY 13TH, 1862:  Lieutenant Worden ordered to command the USS Monitor.

Three days later Worden wrote Secretary of Navy Welles from New York:  "...I have this day reported for duty for the command of the U.S. Steamer building by Captain Ericsson."

Within two months, the Monitor, Worden and Ericsson were to have their names written indelibly in the annals of naval warfare.

--Old B-Runer

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

155 Years Ago, January 10, 1862: Union Gunboats in S.C.

JANUARY 10TH, 1862:  Brigadier General John C. Pemberton, CSA, reported on the effectiveness of the Union gunboats at Port Royal Ferry, South Carolina, and on the Coosaw River (31 December-1 Jan.1862):  "Although the enemy did not land in force at Page's Point or Cunningham's Bluff, it was entirely practicable for him to have done so under cover of his gunboats ...

"At no time during his occupation of the river bank did he leave their [the gunboats'] protection, and, finally, when withdrawing to the island, did so under a fire from his vessels almost as heavy as that under which he had landed... by far the larger portion of the [Confederate] casualties being from the shells of the fleet."

Darn Union Gunboats.  --Old B-Runner

Thursday, January 12, 2017

155 Years Ago, January 12, 1862: USS Pensacola Runs the Potomac River Confederate Blockade

JANUARY 12TH, 1862:  The USS Pensacola, Captain Henry W. Morris, successfully ran down the Potomac past Confederate batteries at Cockpit and Shipping Points.  The Pensacola reached Hampton Roads on 13 January, demonstrating that the restriction of travel on the river, imposed by the Confederate batteries, was being steadily lessened.

The Confederates Blockading Washington, D.C..  --Old B-R'er

155 Years Ago, January 12, 1862: Roanoke Expedition Gets Underway

JANUARY 12TH, 1862:  The Union amphibious expedition to Roanoke Island, North Carolina, departed Fort Monroe under Flag Officer L.M. Goldsborough and General Burnside.  Seizure of Hatteras Inlet by the Navy the previous August allowed Federal control of Pamlico Sound, but heavily fortified Roanoke Island dominated the narrow connection between Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds, the latter of which Confederates used for active blockade running.

Capture of strategic Roanoke Island, which one Confederate general termed "that post which I regard as the very key of the rear defenses of Norfolk and the navy yard," would give the Union control of Albemarle Sound and the waters penetrating deeply into North Carolina, over which passed important railroad bridges south of Norfolk.

--Old B-Runner

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

2017 Friends of Fort Fisher Descendants Reunion and Annual Meeting This Sauturday

The 2017 Friends of Fort Fisher (to which I belong) Descendants Reunion and Annual Meeting will be held this Saturday, January 14, at the Courtyard by Marriott Hotel at Carolina Beach, North Carolina, as a prelude to the events I mentioned in the previous post at the Fort Fisher State Historic Site in nearby Kure Beach.

Dr. Chris E. Fonvielle, author of many Fort Fisher books, will speak at 8:45 a.m. at the hotel's Cape Fear Room.

Then, several Fort Fisher descendants will speak about their ancestor's military service.

Again, I sure wish I could be there.  And, this year i will be closer than ever before, about 50 miles away at Topsial Beach, N.C.. where my family will be moving items out of my mom's beach condo in preparation to sell it.

Well, Maybe Next Year.  --Old B-R'er

152nd Second Battle of Fort Fisher to Be Commemorated This Saturday

From the January 2, 2017, Port City Daily "Watch cannons fire and listen to historians during the 152nd anniversary of the Second Battle of Fort Fisher."

This to be held Saturday, January 14, 2017, at the Fort Fisher State Historic Site and will feature a lot of living.  The program is "Desperate Bravery and Brilliant Valor: the 152nd Commemoration of the Second Battle of Fort Fisher" and will be from 10 to 4 p.m.  Artillery units will conduct drills and periodic firing of the fort's 32-pdr and 12-pdr Napoleon and Parrott Rifle cannons.

There will be  guided tours, kids activities and period photography by Harry Taylor who will have his 1860s traveling wet plate photography studio on site.

In addition, noted Fort Fisher scholars and authors Rod Gragg, author of "Confederate Goliath: The Battle of Fort Fisher" will be the keynote speaker at 11 a.m..  Then, at 2:30 p.m., historian and author Richard Triebe will speak.  Both will sell and autograph their books afterwards.

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

155 Years Ago, January 11, 1862: Build Up of the Roanoke Expedition

JANUARY 11TH, 1862:  Having sent similar orders the previous day to the USS Henry Brinker, Flag Officer L.M. Goldsborough ordered the USS Delaware, Philadelphia, Hunchback, Morse, Southfield, Commodore Barney, Commodore Perry and schooner Howard to Hatteras Inlet as the build up of forces in the area for the assault on Roanoke Island continued.

--Old B-Runner

155 Years Ago, January 11, 1862: Problems, Problems on the Western Waters

JANUARY 11TH, 1862:  Responding to inquiries from the Navy Department on the mortar boats, Flag Officer Foote wrote:  "I am aware that an officer of great resources can overcome almost insuperable difficulties."

Foote had an enormous problem of being thrown into a region without naval bases or the usual resources of the seacoast.  In his own words, the western rivers area was "this wilderness of naval wants."

Foote's long report revealed some of these problems.  A large problem was outfitting and manning his ships.  However, these problems often accompany the transition from a peace to war economy.

--Old B-R'er

155 Years Ago, January 11, 1862: Engagement on the Mississippi River

JANUARY 11TH, 1861:  The USS Essex, Commander W.D. Porter, and USS St. Louis, Lt. Leonard Spalding, engaged Confederate gunboats in a running fight on the Mississippi River, near Lucas Bend, Missouri.

The Confederates withdrew under the protecting batteries of Columbus.

--Old B-Runner

155 Years Ago, January 10, 1862: Diversionary Moves At Fort Henry

JANUARY 10TH, 1862:  Flag Officer Foote's gunboats convoyed General Grant's troops as diversionary moves were begun a short distance down the Mississippi and later up the Tennessee to prevent a Confederate build-up of strength at Fort Henry.

--Old B-Runner

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

155 Years Ago, January 10, 1862-- Part 2: How to Save the USS Congress In Case the CSS Virginia Attacks It

Goldsborough ordered tugs Dragon and Zouave to remain constantly in company with USS Congress and Cumberland, "so as to tow them to advantageous position in case of an attack from the Merrimack or any other quarter."

However, at this date -- two months before the historic engagements at Hampton Roads -- Union naval commanders were seeking a defense against the powerful Confederate ironclad.

Commander William Smith, captain of the ill-fated Congress, had said earlier, "I have not yet devised any plan to defend us against the Merrimack, unless," he added, "it be with hard knocks."

--Old B-R'er

155 Years Ago, January 10, 1862-- Part 1: Fear of the Merrimack

JANUARY 10TH, 1862:  Concern continued to grow in the Union fleet as to what preparations should be taken to meet the unfinished ex-Merrimack.

As early as 12 October 1861, Flag Officer Goldsborough had written Secretary of Navy Welles:  "...I am now quite satisfied that ... she will, in all probability, prove to be exceedingly formidable..... Nothing, I think, but very close work can possibly be of service in accomplishing the destruction of the Merrimack, and even of that a great deal may be necessary."

--Old B-Runner

Monday, January 9, 2017

155 Years Ago, January 8, 1862: Strength of the Union Navy

JANUARY 8, 1862:  General Robert E. Lee, confounded by the strength and mobility of the Union Navy, observed:  "Wherever his fleet can be brought no opposition to his landing can be made except within range of our fixed batteries.  We have nothing to oppose to its heavy guns, which sweep over the low banks of this country with irresistable force.

"The farther he can be withdrawn from his floating batteries  the weaker he will become, and lines of defense, covering objects of attack, have been selected with this view."

Their Navy Is Too Strong.  --Old B-Runner

Sunday, January 8, 2017

155 Years Ago, January 9, 1862-- Part 2: New Orleans "Hermetically Sealed"

On 21 December 1861, in Washington, D.C., Farragut had written his wife:  "Keep your lips closed, and burn my letters; for perfect silence is to be observed -- the first injunction of the Secretary.  I am to have the flag in the Gulf and the rest depends upon myself.  Keep calm and silent.  I shall sail in three weeks."

Meanwhile, the tight blockade was causing grave concern in New Orleans.  The Commercial Appeal reported:  "The situation of this port makes it a matter of vast moment to the whole Confederate State that it should be opened to the commerce of the world within the least possible period ... We believe the blockading vessels of the enemy might be driven away and kept away months ago, if the requisite energy had been put forth ....  The blockade has remained and te great port of New Orleans has been hermetically sealed...."

--Old B-R'er

155 Years Ago, January 9, 1862-- Part 1: Farragut Appointed to Command WGBS

JANUARY 9, 1862:  Orders from the Navy Department appointed Flag Officer Farragut to command the Western Gulf Blockading Squadron, flagship USS Hartford, then at Philadelphia.  The bounds of the command extended from West Florida to the Rio Grande, but a far larger purpose than even the important function of the blockade lay in Farragut's appointment.

Late in 1861 the administration had made a decision that would have fateful results in the war.  The full list of senior officers in the Navy was reviewed for a commander for an enterprise of the first importance -- the capture of New Orleans, the South's "richest and most populous city," and the beginning of the drive of sea-based power up the Father of Waters (Mississippi River) to meet General Grant who would soon begin moving southward behind the spearhead of armored gunboats.

And, David Glasgow Farragut was that man.

--Old B-Runner

Saturday, January 7, 2017

155 Years Ago, January 7, 1862: Heading for Roanoke Island

JANUARY 7TH, 1862:  General McClellan's orders to Brigadier General Burnside illustrated the Army's reliance on strength afloat:  "...you will after uniting with Flag-Officer Goldsborough at Fort Monroe, proceed under his convoy to Hatteras Inlet ... [the] first point of attack will be Roanoke Island and its dependencies.

"It is presumed that the Navy can reduce the batteries ... and cover the landing of your troops ...."

McClellan  also detailed the Army's follow-up operations in conjunction with the gunboats at Fort Macon, New Bern and Beaufort.

--Old B-Runner

155 Years Ago, January 7, 1862: Intel on Forts Henry and Donelson-- Part 3

The difficult assault on Fort Donelson five weeks later gave truth to Phelps' careful observation.

Meanwhile, Flag Officer Foote reconnoitered down the Mississippi River with the USS Tyler, Lexington and Essex, the latter one of the first two ironclads ready.

Pushing a Confederate gunboat ahead of him, Foote proceeded within range of the batteries at Columbus and found "one of the submarine batteries."  But learning that the river was generally clear of these, he was able to report that "my object was fully attained."

--Old B-Runner

155 Years Ago, January 7, 1862: Intel on Forts Henry and Donelson-- Part 2

Continued from Jan. 5

"It is too late now to move against the works on either river, except with a well-appoinred and powerful naval force."

As early as mid-December 1861, Phelps had reconnoitered the Cumberland and warned of the immense difficulties involved in a naval assault on Fort Donelson, the strategically located Confederate stronghold.

"None of these works can be seen," he observed, "rill approached to within easy range."

--Old B-R'er

Friday, January 6, 2017

155 Years Ago, January 6, 1862: Taking Care of Your Army Trouble-Makers-- Send 'Em to the Navy

JANUARY 6TH, 1862:  One of Flag Officer Foote's primary problems was the manning of the new ironclad gunboats, which were becoming available behind contract date at St. Louis and Mound City.  The Navy Department sent a draft of 500 seamen; the rest had to be recruited or detailed from the Army.

That the Army was reluctant to give up its best men for service afloat was demonstrated by Grant's letter to Major General Halleck, in which he wrote that he had a number of offenders in the guardhouse and suggested,  "In view of the difficulties of getting men for the gunboat service, that these men be transferred to that service...."

Bad Soldiers, Of Course, Make For Good Sailors.  --Old Secesh

Thursday, January 5, 2017

155 Years Ago, January 7, 1862: Intel on Forts Henry and Donelson-- Part 1

JANUARY 7TH, 1862:  Lt. S.L. Phelps, USS Conestoga, on an expedition up the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers gained valuable intelligence about Confederate activity at Forts Henry and Donelson.

"The rebels," he reported to Flag Officer Foote, "are industriously perfecting their means of defense both at Dover and Fort Henry.  At Fort Donelson (near Dover) they have placed obstructions in the river, 1 1/2 miles below their battery, on the left bank and in the bend where the battery comes in sight ....

"The fire of the gunboats [at Fort Donelson] would be at a bad angle ... The forts are placed, especially on the Cumberland, where no great range can be had, and they can only be attacked on one narrow and fixed line ..."

--Old B-Runner

155 Years Ago, January 5, 1862: Goldsborough Wants Burnside to Hurry Up

JANUARY 5TH 1862:  Flag Officer L.M. Goldsborough, replying ro a telegram from Brigadier General Ambrose E. Burnside, the Army officer in command of the Roanoke Island expedition, wrote that:  "the sooner you start your first brigade [for Hatteras Inlet] the better, and so, too, with all vessels you have which are to be towed or which require choice weather in order to arrive safely."

President Lincoln was reported as "anxious to hear of the departure of the expedition."

Get a Move On.  --Old B-Runner

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

William L. Marcy, Namesake of Revenue Cutter William L. Marcy

From Wikipedia.

Continuing with my research into the Revenue Cutter Marcy capturing the Confederate privateer Neva in San Francisco.


American statesman, U.S. Senator, Governor of New York, U.S. Secretary of War and U.S. Secretary of State.

The U.S. Revenue Cutter Marcy was launched in 1853 and named in his honor.

--Old B-Runner

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

155 Years Ago, January 2, 1862: Steamer Ella Warley Gets Into Charleston

JANUARY 2ND, 1862:  Steamer Ella Warley evaded the USS Mohican, Commander Godon, in a heavy fog and ran the blockade into Charleston, S.C..

--Old B-Runner

155 Years Ago, January 2, 1862: Eads' Gunboats Behind Schedule

JANUARY 2ND, 1862:  Flag Officer Foote wrote secretary of Navy Welles:  "I hope to be able to send 60 men on board of each gunboat within the week.  We are waiting on 1,000 men to fill up our complement ...  The carpenters and engineers are behindhand in their work."

Eads completion of the gunboats had been much delayed beyond his contract time.  This placed a great strain upon the wooden gunboats, whose daily service in the rivers was demonstrated by General Grant's typical communication with Foote:  "Will you please direct a gunboat to drop down the river ... to protect a steamer I am sending down to bring up produce for some loyal citizens of Kentucky."

--Old B-R'er

Monday, January 2, 2017

155 Years Ago, January 2, 1862: Plans Coming Together for Attack on Roanoke Island

JANUARY 2ND, 1862:  Flag Officer L.M. Goldsborough ordered the USS Louisiana, Lockwood, I.N. Seymour, Shawsheen and Whithall (forced to return to Newport News because of engine trouble) to Hatteras Inlet, "using a sound discretion in time of departing."

Goldsborough wrote Secretary of Navy Welles the next day:  "When they arrive there, twelve of this squadron will have been assembled in that quarter.  With the rest we are driving on as fast as possible."

Since early December extensive preparations for the joint attack on Roanoke Island -- the key to Albemarle Sound -- had been underway in a move not only to seal off the North Carolina coast, but also to back up General McClellan's Peninsular Campaign by threatening Confederate communications.

--Old B-Runner

155 Years Ago, January 1, 1862: USS Lexington Joining USS Conestoga Cruising the Ohio River

JANUARY 1ST, 1862:  Flag Officer Foote reported to Secretary of Navy Welles that he was sending the USS Lexington, Lt. Shirk, to join the USS Conestoga, Lt. S,L, Phelps, who had been rendering valuable service cruising the rivers and protecting "Union people" on the borders of the Ohio River and tributaries; indeed, the control of the rivers advanced Union frontiers deep into territory sympathetic to the South.

Foote added:  "I am using all possible dispatch in getting all the gunboats ready for service.  there is a great demand for them in different places in the western rivers."

--Old B-Runner

155 Years Ago, January 1, 1862: Mason and Slidell Leave Boston for England

JANUARY 1ST, 1862:  Confederate Commissioners Mason and Slidell left Boston for England.'

They first went to Provincetown, Massachusetts where they boarded the HMS Rinaldo.

War With England Averted  --Old B-R'er

155 Years Ago, January 1, 1862: Action on the Potomac River

JANUARY 1, 1862:  The USS Yankee, Lt. Eastman, and USS Anacostia, Lt. Oscar C. Badger, exchanged fire with Confederate batteries at Cockpit Point, Potomac River; the Yankee was damaged slightly.

Attacks by ships of the Potomac Flotilla were instrumental in forcing the withdrawal of strong Confederate emplacements along the river.  Batteries at Cockpit and Shipping Point were abandoned by 9 March 1862.

--Old B-Runner

Sunday, January 1, 2017

155 Years Ago, Dec. 31, 1861-Jan. 2, 1862-- Part 2: Joint Army-Navy Expedition in S.C.

This action disrupted Confederate plans to erect batteries and build troop strength in the area intending to close the Coosaw River and isolate Federal troops on Port Royal Island.

General Stevens wrote:  "I would do a great injustice to my own feelings did I fail to express my satisfaction and delight with the recent cooperation of the command of Captain Rodgers in our celebration of New Year's Day.

"Whether regard be had to his beautiful working of the gunboats in the narrow channel of Port Royal, the thorough concert of action established through the signal officers, or the masterly handling of the guns against the enemy, nothing remained to be desired.

"such a cooperation ... augurs everything. propitious for the welfare of our cause in this quarter of the country."

High Praise Indeed.  --Old B-Runner

155 Years Ago, Dec. 31-Jan. 2, 1862-- Part 1: Attack of Confederates at Port Royal Ferry, S.C.

DECEMBER 31ST, 1861-JANUARY 2ND, 1862:  Naval squadron under Commander C.R.P. Rodgers, including gunboats Ottawa, Pembina and Seneca and four armed boats carrying howitzers, joined General Stevens' troops in successful amphibious attack on Confederate positions at Port Royal Ferry and on Coosaw River.

Gunboat fire covered the troop advance, and guns and naval gunners were landed as artillery support.  Army signal officers acted as gunfire observers and coordinators aboard the ships.

--Old B-Runner

155 Years Ago, December 31, 1861: The Problem With Mortar Boats

DECEMBER 31ST, 1861:  Flag Officer Foote wrote Assistant Secretary of Navy Fox about the delay in fitting out mortar boats:  "I did say and still consider the mortar boats very defective.  They are built of solid timber and when armed and manned will be awash with the deck ... all will leak more or less.

"Still I would have them fitted out, with all their defects."

Foote made excellent use of these defective boats at Island No. 10.

--Old B-R'er

155 Years Ago, December 31, 1861: Biloxi, Mississippi Captured By Union Forces

DECEMBER 31ST, 1861:  Biloxi, Mississippi, surrendered to a landing party of seamen and Marines supported by the USS Water Witch, New London, and Henry Lewis; a small Confederate battery was destroyed, two guns and a schooner Captain Spedden captured.

**  The USS Augusta, Commander Parrott, captured Confederate schooner Island Belle attempting to run the blockade near Bull's Bay, South Carolina.

--Old B-Runner

This Blog's 6th Year

With this post, Running the Blockade now enters its sixth year.

This post is the 2791st one since then.

This blog grew out of the Saw the Elephant Civil War Blog, which grew out of the my Cooter's History Thing blog.

I found that I was posting so much about the naval aspect of the war, especially Fort Fisher, that it was time to start this one.

Need to Find Something Worthwhile.  --Old B-Runner