Friday, September 29, 2017

Events in North Carolina September 1862: Zebulon Vance Becomes Governor

SEPTEMBER  2--  Skirmish at Plymouth.

SEPTEMBER 6--  Confederate attack on Washington, N.C. including naval operations.

SEPTEMBER  7-9--   Expedition of the USS Hunchback up Chowan River.

SEPTEMBER  8--  Zebulon B. Vance becomes  governor of North Carolina.  Conservative party, former U.S. Congressman (1858-1861) and former colonel of the 26th N.C. Regiment.

SEPTEMBER 17-19--  Operations around Shiloh

SEPTEMBER 25--  Attack on blockade runner Kate.

SEPTEMBER 26--  Schooner chased ashore and destroyed near Fort Fisher by USS Mystic and USS State of Georgia.

SEPTEMBER 28--  Capture of blockade runner Sunbeam at New Inlet.  (Captured by USS State of Georgia and USS Mystic,

--Old B-Runner

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Events in North Carolina August 1862: Blockade Runners

From the North Carolina Civil War Sesquicentennial Timeline.

AUGUST   Carolina and schooner evade blockade

AUGUST  3-23  Naval operations on Chowan River.

AUGUST 14-15   Reconnaissance from Newport to Swansborough.

AUGUST 24--  Sinking of the USS Isaac N. Seymour in the Neuse River near New Bern.

AUGUST  27--Escape of blockade runner Kate at Wilmington.

AUGUST 30--  Skirmish near Plymouth.

--Old B-Runner

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

A Knife Found In USS Monitor's Turret-- Part 2: The Top of the Turret Constructed of Railroad Tracks

The roof of the USS Monitor's turret is constructed of railroad tracks which means there are many nooks and crevasses of concretion that has to be taken off.  Lots of places for small items to have fallen while the Monitor was sinking.

Hundreds of items spilled into the turret as the Monitor as it sank.  Two of the missing 16 crew members were found in the turret.

The finds of so many pieces of cutlery in the turret, some of sterling silver, brings forth the question as to why there would be so many.  Perhaps some sailors were trying to steal them or maybe they just tumbled from a drawer below deck.

Most of the knife's blade and all of its wooden handle survive on the knife.  It will be treated and will make a "fantastic addition" to the vessel's collection.

--Old B-Runner

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

September 26, 1862: Unknown Blockade Runner Chased Ashore at New Inlet

 SEPTEMBER 26TH, 1862:  USS State of Georgia, Commander Armstrong, and the USS Mystic, Lt. Commander Arnold, chased a blockade running schooner (name unknown) ashore at New Inlet, North Carolina (guarded by the beginnings of Fort Fisher), and destroyed her.

--Old B-Runner

Monday, September 25, 2017

A Knife Found in USS Monitor's Turret-- Part 1

From the September 10, 2017, Civil War Picket Blog.

Pieces of cutlery have been found as conservators continue to cut away sediments from the roof of the turret, which is turned upside down.

Last month they found a small knife wedged into one of the rails that forms the turret's ceiling.

So far, they have gathered a collection of over twenty pieces of silverware from various locations in the turret.

The turret is upside down, so sits on its roof in the lab.  Part of the conservators' work consists of removing ocean salts in the iron of the turret.  Then they clear away mud and concretion.  They also know of a fork in an area they can't get at right now.

--Old B-Runner

Saturday, September 23, 2017

U.S. Navy Rear Admirals: Navy Grade and Pay Regulations 1862-- Part 2

Level of Navy officers and number allowed

1st  Rear Admiral  (9)
2nd  Commodore  (18)
3rd  Captain   (36)

4th  Commanders   (72)
5th  Lieutenant-Commanders  (144)
6th  Lieutenants  (144)

7th  Masters  (144)
8th  Ensigns  (144)
9th Midshipmen (144)

Vessels in the Navy to be divided into four classes with the best ships as First Rates.  This determined ranks to command these ships.

FIRST RATE--  Commodores
2ND RATE--  Captains
3RD RATE--  Commanders
4TH RATE--  Lt. Comanders

--Old B-R'er

Irma Batters Civil War Sites Along East Coast

From the September 13 and 21 Civil War Picket Blog.

**  Hurricane Irma's flooding swamps Fort Sumter, Fort Pulaski and Fort McAllister.

**  Tropical Storm Irma battered Fort Pulaski which is mopping up and aiming at reopening by next weekend, September 29.  The park closed September 6 when there was a distinct possibility of a direct hit from Irma.  The big problem at the fort was from the flooding, not high winds.

The storm surge at Cockspur Island, where the fort is located, was 12.24 feet.

This is the third natural disaster at Fort Pulaski in less than a year, starting with Hurricane Matthew last September and a tornado in May.

Trying to Reason With Hurricane Season.  --Old B-Runner

Friday, September 22, 2017

Civil War Naval Innovations

Tomorrow, the McHenry County Civil War Round Table discussion group meets at Panera Bread in Crystal lake, Illinois, to talk about Civil War innovations.

Me being a Navy guy, I went with Naval innovations.

1.  Gun turret

2.  ironclads

3.  Monitors

4.  mines, both land and water

5.  submarines

6.  coal torpedoes

7.  Disease warfare--  yellow fever

8.  commerce raiders

9.  Whitworth cannons and rifles

10.  Armstrong guns

11.  Large and small-scale Army-Navy cooperation.

Well, and John Ericsson was an innovation all by himself.

--Old B-Runner

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Medical Cadets in the Civil War-- Part 2: Charles Rivers Ellet

Mounting war casualties overwhelmed Army surgeons and often found themselves taking on even greater responsibility.

On August 3, 1861, Congress approved the creation of the Medical Cadets, to consist of up to 50 medical school men ages 18-23 who had a liberal education and at least two years of medical school.

Charles Rivers Ellet was one of them and he wrote in June 1861, even before becoming a medical cadet, that he routinely followed physicians around while they were making their rounds in the Washington, D.C. Army Hospitals to see how they questioned and prescribed to their patients.

So, that Charles R. Ellet.  --Old B-R'er

Medical Cadets of the Civil War-- Part 1: To Dress Wounds

On September 19th, I wrote about an engagement between the Ram Queen of the West and Confederate batteries and infantry near Bolivar, Mississippi.  The Queen of the West was commanded by Medical Cadet Charles R. Ellet.

I have to admit that I had never heard of any medical cadets, so had to do some further research.  There was nothing in Wikipedia, where I looked first, other than a Pre-WWII group called Medical Cadet Corps which I will write about in my World War II blog.

The Civil War's Medical Cadets:  Medical Students Serving the Union from the Journal of American College of Surgeons.

This unit consisted of young medical students created to dress wounds and to act as ambulance attendants.

I would say they were more involved with the Union Army, but since Charles Rivers Ellet, was in command of the ram Queen of the West at the action at Bolicar, Mississippi, I will include them in the Naval blog.  Plus, the general Civil War blog, Saw the Elephant is so involved with this Second Civil War.

--Old B-Cadet

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

U.S. Navy Rear Admirals: Navy Grade and Pay Regulation Act of 1862-- Part 1

On September 12, I wrote about Du Pont thanking Iowa Senator James Grimes for his work in support of the Navy and the creation of of the new Navy rank of rear admiral (I'm sure in part because he would be in line to be one).

JULY 16, 1862   Congress established the rank of rear admiral with David D. Farragut named to be America's first rear admiral.

The act was called:


An Act to establish and equalize the Grade of Line Officers of the United States Navy.

Approved by President Abraham Lincoln July 16, 1862.  This act established the U.S. navy ranks of rear admiral, commodore, lieutenant-commander and ensign.

--Old B-R'er

About the USS Nebraska-- Part 3: The USS Colossus, a Throwback

The ships of the Kalamazoo-class were still being built when the Civil War ended, so their service was not needed.  Construction on all was suspended on 17 November 1865 and they remained in the stocks for the rest of their career.

The Kalamazoo was renamed Colossus 15 June 1869 and Vice Admiral David D. Porter ordered it to be rebuilt to carry ten large broadside guns and fitted with iron masts with ship rig, but this never came to pass.  Kind of a step backward as it was.

The unseasoned wood used in the hull construction soon began to rot after 1874.  The Passaconaway was condemned by Act of Congress 5 August 1882 before finally being broken up in 1884.


USS Nebraska  BB-14  1904-1923
USS Nebraska SSBN-739  1992-today

--Old B-Runner

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

September 19, 1862: Engagement at Bolivar, Mississippi

SEPTEMBER 19, 1862:  The Ram Queen of the West, Medical Cadet Charles R. Ellet, escorting two troop transports, had a sharp engagement with Confederate infantry and artillery above Bolivar, Mississippi.

Medical Cadet is sort of a strange rank for someone commanding a ship.  I'll have to look into this.

--Old B-Runner

Monday, September 18, 2017

About the USS Nebraska-- Part 2: The Four Kalamazoo-Class Monitors

There were fours hips in the class.  Names, Where built, when laid down, renamed and scrapped.  All were suspended November 17, 1865.

KALAMAZOO--   Brooklyn Navy Yard--  1863--  Renamed Colossus 1869--  1884

PASSACONAWAY--  Portsmouth Navy Yard (Kittery, Me.)-- 18 Nov. 1863--  Thunderer and Massachusetts in 1869--  1884

QUINSIGAMUND--  Boston Navy Yard--  15 April 1864--  Hercules and Oregon in 1869--  1884

SHACKAMAXON--  Philadelphia Navy Yard--  Late 1863--  Hecia and Nebraska 1869--  January 1874

--Old B-R'er

About the Transport Nebraska at Eunice, Arkansas-- Part 1: USS Nebraska (Monitor)

I found this ship, the Nebraska listed as a Union gunboat in Wikipedia and a transport in the Civil War Chronology.  I tried to look it up, but couldn't find anything under army transport Nebraska.  I looked up USS Nebraska as well.  I had never heard of a USS Nebraska before.

There was a USS Nebraska, though.  It was the never-commissioned Kalamazoo-class monitor Shakamaxon given that name in 1869.  The Kalamazoo-class  were ocean-going monitors and consisted of four ships.

Construction on the ships began in 1863 through April 1964.

They were 345 feet long, 56.8 foot beam and were the largest of all monitors with two turrets mounting muzzle-loading 15-inch Dahlgren guns.

--Old B-Runner

Friday, September 15, 2017

Senator James W. Grimes of Iowa: Friend of the Navy

On September 12, 2017, I wrote about Iowa Senator James W, Grimes who was thanked by Naval officer Du Pont for his work furthering the Union Navy.

From Wikipedia

James Wilson Grimes  October 20, 1816 to February 7, 1872  Third governor of Iowa and U.S. senator from Iowa.  Born in New Hampshire.  Governor of Iowa 1854-1858.  Elected U.S. senator 1859 as a Republican.  Reelected in 1865.

In 1861, he was a member of the Peace Commission in Washington, D.C. in an attempt to avoid the coming war.

In December 1861 he introduced the bill o create the Medal of Honor (initially only for the Navy and Marines).

He served on the Committee on Naval Affairs and the Joint Commission on Reconstruction and drafted the 14th Amendment.

--Old B-Runner

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Col. William Raynor-- Part 2: Commanded the 56th Ohio at Eunice

He was later wounded at the Red River Landing below Vicksburg where he was decorated for bravery.

At red River, he gave his men the order to disembark from their boats, but the men on the lower decks did not get the message.  Raynor did not realize that he didn't have his whole regiment until he got to the top of the hill.

He ordered his aide to go back and get the rest of them, but the aide was to afraid, so Raynor went himself and was shot in the leg.

After the war he became a brigadier general in the Grand Army of the Republic and very active in it.

He is buried at Woodlawn Cemetery in Toledo, Ohio.

--Old B-Runner

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Colonel William H. Raynor, Commanded Union Troops At Eunice, Arkansas-- Part 1

From the Historic Woodlawn Cemetery site.

Colonel William H. Raynor

At the outbreak of the Civil War, he joined the 1st Ohio Infantry Regiment and was captured at the 1st Battle of Bull Run and sent to Libby Prison in Richmond.  He escaped after 17 days and reached the safety of Union lines.

The story goes that while on his way, a Confederate spotted him and was going to shoot when he saw Raynor's Masonic pin and allowed him to pass by.

When he reached home, he organized the 56th Ohio and was elected its colonel.

--Old B-Runner

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

September 12, 1862: Senator Grimes of Iowa Pushes the Navy

SEPTEMBER 12TH, 1862:  Rear Admiral Du Pont wrote Senator Grimes of Iowa expressing his "warm appreciation of your tremendous labors in behalf of the Navy during the last session.  I believe this to be emphatically the opinion of the whole service."

Grimes had strongly backed the bill creating the rank of Rear Admiral in the Navy.

In reply, the Senator stated:  "I am in no wise deserving of the kind compliments you lavish upon me .... you know that up to my time [in Congress] it was supposed that all information  in relation to your branch of the public service was confined to a select 'guild' about the Atlantic cities, no one from the interior having presumed to know anything about it.

"If i have been of any real service it has been in breaking down and eradicating that idea. , in  assisting to nationalize the Navy -- in making frontiersmen as well as the longshoreman feel that he was interested in it and partook of its glory."

--Old B-Runner

The End of Eunice, Arkansas, Part 2: "Not a Single Vestige Remains"

Continued from September 2, 2017.

On June 14, 1863, Confederates at Eunice, Arkansas, fired artillery on the USS Marmora.  A fight ensued and the Marmora anchored off Eunice.  The next morning, the USS Nebraska was fired on as it approached Eunice.

Both ships bombarded the town and then sent a party ashore.  They set fire to stores, houses and the railroad depot, and completely destroyed the town,  The Marmora's captain remarked in his report. "not a single vestige of the town of Eunice remains."

I could not find anything about a USS Nebraska.

Of interest, no Confederates were found in the town.

Today, Yellow Bend Port, a modern industrial port is located where the town of Eunice once stood.  Nothing else of Eunice remains.

--Old B-R'er

New Theory For Death of Hunley's Crew-- Part 4: "Blast Lung"

The explosion of the torpedo at the end of the Hunley's spar set off a pressure wave inside the submarine that would have caused lethal blast trauma.  There would have also been immediate fatal lung trauma from the blast, known as "Blast Lung."  This would explain the lack of apparent injuries to the the skeletons of the the crew.

So, death would have been instantaneous and then the Hunley and its lifeless crew would have drifted with the current.

It would be interesting if they knew the currents in Charleston Harbor which might have caused the Hunley to end up in its final resting place after the crew was dead.  If they could prove this, this new theory would probably be the one that explains what happened.

However, Navy researchers have their doubts about her theory.

Rachel Lance says that two measurements are absolutely important:  the thickness of the Hunley's hull and the distance it was from the charge when it went off.

Always Interesting.  --Old B-Runner

Monday, September 11, 2017

Where Were You 9-11?

As for Liz and myself, I was already at John T. Magee Middle School in Round Lake, Illinois, teaching my seventh graders social studies.  Another teacher came down the hall between 1st and 2nd period and told me that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center in New York City.

After the second plane hit, she told me that information and I realized this was not just an accidental thing.  I couldn't get the TV to work so turned on my radio and we spent the rest of the day listening and talking about what was happening.  This was also the subject of the next week in class.

Liz was on a later start at Ellis Elementary School in Round Lake Beach and first heard about it at home.  When she got to school, it was decided that all the teachers would not talk about it at all.  She taught third grade.

All seven of my blogs today will be devoted to 9-11.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

New Theory About the Hunley's Demise-- Part 3: Killed By Their Own Weapon

Rachel Lance lacked access to the actual submarine (which I think is too bad as she also is searching for answers) so she used a scale model of the Hunley.   She first used compressed gas at first to simulate an explosion.  Then she used scaled down black powder.

She placed her scale model in a pond and measured the pressure inside and outside of it when the explosion took place.

Water transmits blasts well.  Sadly, the Hunley had a very thin hull, unlike today's submarines.

This proved fatal to the Hunley's crew according to her research.

--Old B-R'er

New Theory As to Deaths of Hunley's Crew-- Part 2: Underwater Explosions

Continued from September 4, 2017.

Rachel Lance wrote a paper on her research as part of her dissertation for her Ph.D last year.

Researchers of the Hunley's demise have been puzzled because none of the skeletons of the crew  had broken bones, the submarine was mostly intact and from the positions of the bones, there had been no attempt to escape.  All were still at their stations.  In the past it was believed they either drowned or suffocated.

Lance and her research team conducted a series of experiments.

She is a big history buff and was in the U.S. Navy and had been studying the effects of underwater explosions on unprotected swimmers and became intrigued by this application to the Hunley.

--Old B-Runner

Friday, September 8, 2017

Some More On the Army Gunboat Picket-- Part 2: Artifacts Recovered

The shipwreck has shifted over the years due to hurricanes and now points northward.  Many divers have brought up many artifacts.  Many artifacts were damaged or destroyed many years ago when the Tar River by Washington, N.C., was dredged.  Most of those items were plates and other breakable items.

Artifacts like muskets, bayonets, ship's compass, a brass megaphone type horn, cleats, bullets, etc. have been recovered.

When the ship exploded, the heat must have been extremely intense as the compass is partially melted in a couple of places.

The Picket was also at the Battle of Tranter's Creek in North Carolina on June 5, 1862.  Its captain Sylvester D. Nicholl also commanded there.

--Old B-Runner

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Some More On the U.S. Army Gunboat Picket-- Part 1: Wreck Can Be Seen At Really Low Tide

From the Roots Web Civil War.

Cornell University has the Making of America Project which has several pages on the gunboat Picket.

A person wrote to the person making the inquiry on this site with more information.

The Picket is in the Tar River on the western side of the Highway 17 Bridge crossing from Chocowinity, N.C., to Washington, N.C..  The bridge is the separation point between the Pamlico and Tar rivers.  On days when the tide is way out, you can see a portion of the wreck.

It is well-marked to keep boats from hitting it.

--Old B-R'er

U.S. Army Gunboat Picket: Blew Up Off Washington, N.C.

In yesterday's post, I wrote about the Battle of Washington, N.C., where Union forces came under a surprise attack by Confederates on September 6, 1862.  I have written about the ship before.  Just hit the label for Picket (t) US Army gunboat.

From the Encyclopedia North Carolina.


The ship fought in the sounds and rivers of North Carolina until it sank in the Tar River off the town of Washington on September 6, 1862.  It was originally a civilian ship purchased by the Union to assist in General Burnside's Expedition against Roanoke Island.

There was a larger side-wheel steamer named Picket which often gets confused for this one.

It was oine of seven vessels described as a motley fleet in the expedition.  Burnside's officers and men even had some concerns as to these ships' seaworthiness.  To show his confidence in then, Gen. Burnside used the Picket, which was the smallest ship, as his flagship.

The Picket proved a great choice because of its shallow draft and did a fine job covering troop landings at Roanoke, New Bern and Fort Macon.On 6 September 1862, the Picket and gunboat USS Louisiana were in the Tar River off Washington, N.C., when Confederates launched a surprise attack on the town.  Both ships went into action.

The Picket got off one shot before it exploded and sank in the river, killing its captain, Sylvester D. Nicholl, along with 18 crewmen and 6 wounded.

--Old B-Runner

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

September 6, 1862: Confederate Surprise Attack On Washington, N.C.

SEPTEMBER 6TH, 1862:  The USS Louisiana, Acting Lt. Richard Y. Renshaw, joined with Union troops in repelling a Confederate attack on Washington, North Carolina.

Lajor General John G. Foster reported that the Louisiana "rendered most efficient aid, throwing her shells with great precision, and clearing the streets, through which her guns had range."

U.S. Army gunboat Picket was destroyed by an accidental magazine explosion during the engagement.

The USS Louisiana later was the powder vessel that blew up off Fort Fisher before the first attack on the fort in 1864.

More Army-Navy Cooperation.  --Old B-Runner

Monday, September 4, 2017

New Theory on How H.L. Hunley Submariners Died-- Part 1

From the August 30, 2017, Duke University Chronicle "Duke alumnus discovers mysterious cause of death of Confederate soldiers aboard submarine" by Claire Xiau.

Pleasant news out of Duke after that desecration of the Civil War statue last month.

Eight Confederate soldiers on the Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley, the first submarine to sink an enemy ship in combat, were killed by their own weapon.

In February 1864, the Hunley sank the USS Housatonic in less than five minutes using 135 pounds of black powder.  The submarine never returned to its Charleston, S.C., base and was lost for a long time before being found in 1995.

Since then, researchers have been looking for the reason why they died.

Rachel Lance, a former Ph.D student in Duke's Department of Biomedical Engineering performed experiments using explosives on a scale model of the Hunley (using scaled down explosives) and found that the shockwave from the explosion killed the crew.

So Far, To Me, This Is the Best Explanation  --Old B-Runner

Saturday, September 2, 2017

The End of Eunice, Arkansas-- Part 1: A Railroad Town

From Wikipedia.

Eunice was also called Eunice Landing and Railroad Township.  It is a ghost town on the Mississippi River in Chicot County, Arkansas.

It was completely destroyed by the Union Army in the Civil War (well, the Navy, actually).

It was the eastern terminus of the Mississippi, Ouachita and Red River Railroad (MO&RR)  Construction on it began in 1852 and by the start of the war, they had seven miles of track completed west of Eunice.

The railroad was completed after the Civil War, but abandoned in 1875 after Mississippi River flooding.  Today Arkansas Highway 208 between Eunice and Halley is built on top of the abandoned railroad.

--Old B-Runner

Friday, September 1, 2017

Since We're On the Subject, the End of Eunice, Arkansas, in 1863

From the Civil War Naval Chronology.

JUNE 13-15, 1863.

Confederate guerrillas fired on the USS Marmora, Acting Lt. Robert Getty, near Eunice, Arkansas, and on the morning of the 14th, fired upon the transport Nebraska.

In retaliation, Getty sent a landing party ashore and destroyed the town, "including the railroad depot, with locomotive and car inside, also the large warehouse ...."

The next day, 15 June, landing parties from the Marmora and USS Prairie Bird, Acting Lt. Edward E. Brennand, destroyed the town of Gaines Landing in retaliation for a guerrilla attempt to burn the Union coal barge there and for firing on the Marmora.

Moral of This Story, Don't Shoot At the Union Ships, or Else.  --Old B-Runner

The Eunice (Arkansas) Expedition-- Part 4: Captured the Wharf Boat

At around noon on August 30, the small fleet reached Eunice, Arkansas.  The wharf boat was captured and prepared for towing to Helena.

(A wharf boat is a boat moored and used for a wharf at a bank of a river or in a like situation where the height of the water is so variable that a fixed wharf in impracticable.  One source here said that the one at Eunice was being used as a hotel.)

A man named Mason, who was suspected of being a guerrilla was arrested as was the river watchman, John McDonald.

Military supplies left by Confederates were gathered and the Union force returned to Helena, arriving September 3.

The Little-Big Engagement at Eurnice.  --Old B-R'er

The Eunice Expedition, Aug. 28-Sep. 3, 1863-- Part 3:

On August 29, 1862, the USS Pittsburg shelled the shoreline ans 175 soldiers disembarked and marched about 2 miles inland.  The Confederates had already evacuated most of the supplies and after a volley from the Union troops, fled  the area.

Another Union force of 50 soldiers under Captain Manning of Co. A, engaged a Confederate guerrilla force, killing one, wounding one and capturing another.

The Union troops reboarded their transports and disembarked again at Montgomery Point on the Arkansas side of the Mississippi River where they were expecting to find two Confederate cannons, but none were found.

Army-Navy Cooperation.  --Old B-Runner