Thursday, January 31, 2019

Was the USS Weehawken Raised?

I was wondering if the ship was raised from its watery grave.  Some think so, others not so sure.

From the Forum of Axis History site.  "Civil War Ships Being Raised."

One person thinks it was raised but will look onto it.  Reportedly in only 30 feet of water so not a difficult job.  Engines salvaged by wreckers.  Turret and pilot house destroyed prior to 1870.    Remainder of wreck removed after 1870.

From the Historic Ships:  Extant U.S. Civil War Monitors

Weehawken, like the USS Patapsco,  sold for salvage around 1870.  Benjamin Mallifert hauled away  at least 130 tons of metal from the wreck.  Clive Cussler reported finding the wreck in 1981 and said the ship was badly broken up.

--Old B-Runner

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Sinking of Weehawken-- Part 6: Crew Later Scattered Throughout the Fleet

The Weehawken's yeoman was brought alive on board the flagship, and died in spasms a few moments afterward.  Various parties were picked up  and taken to the nearest vessel, where every provision was made for their comfort and restoration.

Those of the crew who were saved are now scattered in small squads throughout the fleet.  It is impossible to procure at present the names of those who were lost.

The Weehawken is lying in five fathoms of water, and it will soon be raised.  Until she is brought up, no one can tell  with certainty why she sank.

--Old B-Runner

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Sinking Of the USS Weehawken-- Part 5: The Tale Below Decks

There were invalids in the sick bay, and to their relief, the surgeon sent his steward, who never returned.  There were firemen at the furnaces, to who vain shrieks for a helping hand at the pumps were made.  A few if the confident were rushing to their quarters to save their effects, jostling the timid on their way to the deck to save themselves.

It was in the midst of scenes like this that the Weehawken went down.

I believe that none of the officers perished save the four assistant engineers, who were overtaken by the flood before they could make any effort to escape.

Commander had only taken command of the Weehawken on Saturday, having been detached from the Paul Jones to relieve Commander Calhoun.  The officer's clothing, the paymaster's funds and papers of the ship sank with her.

--Old B-Runner

Monday, January 28, 2019

January 28, 1864: Wooden Sailing Ships On Foreign Duty

JANUARY 28, 1964:  Captaim Henry S. Stellwagen, commanding the USS Constellation, reported from Naples:  "It is my pleasant duty to inform you of the continued [friendly] demonstrations of ruling powers and people of the Kingdom of Italy toward our country and officers."

When the problems of blockading the hazardous Atlantic and Gulf coasts and running down Confederate commerce raiders compelled the Navy Department to employ its steamers in these tasks, sailing warships were sent out to replace them on foreign stations.

These slow but relatively powerful vessels, the historic Constellation in the Mediterranean, St. Louis west of Gibraltar on the converging trade routes, Jamestown in the East Indies, became available to escort merchant ships and, more important, to deter the approach of raiders.

Though they received but few opportunities to carry out their military missions, these veterans of the Old Navy rendered most effective service protecting American interests and maintaining national prestige abroad.

--Old B-Runner

Friday, January 25, 2019

Sinking of USS Weehawken-- Part 4: Overconfidant To the Peril

As many others were rescued from the surging waves by the launches if the flagship, the South Carolina and the tugboats Dandelion and Iris.  Thirty perished.

All day the Weehawken had labored heavily  in the seas, which had kept her decks constantly submerged, and which frequently swept in huge volumes into her forward hatch.  Towards noon the crew commenced playing out chain, to ease her; but, as accustomed as they were, in every gale, to the shipping of such seas, it is believed that they had grown confident and careless of danger, and paid no hewed to the encroaching waters until it was too late to resist them.

They dreamed of no peril till the waves had fairly yawned to swallow them.  Then, when it was known for certainty that the vessel was to be lost, a panic if fright and fear benumbed them, and the terror-stricken crew below had little power to help themselves.

There were men in irons between  decks, and the sergeant at-arms rushed frantically away to release them.  Poor fellows, they all went down.

--Old B-Runner

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Sinking of the USS Weehawken-- Part 3: It Sank Suddenly

The Weehawken's Commander, Jesse A. Duncan, had scarcely left the admiral when the officer of the deck made out from the Weehawken a new signal, and immediately reported her to be sinking.

A moment later she settled quickly down by the head, careened slightly to starboard, and disappeared beneath the waves.

It is impossible to convey any idea of the appalling nature of this disaster.    It came with the suddenness of a thunderbolt.  When the first signal of distress was made no one divined how serious was the danger, and when, at length, the vessel went down,  it was difficult for those who saw her disappear to credit the evidence of their own senses.

The confusion on the flagship, arising mainly from the difficulty of launching her boats, and the desire of both officers and men to be first in them, was most intense and painful.  The wind was now blowing with great fury and the boats which hastened from all sides to the scene encountered great peril in picking up from the water the few who had succeeded in getting away.

--Old B-Runner

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Sinking of the Monitor USS Weehawken-- Part 2: A Bad Storm Arises

Continued from December 20, 2018.

Saturday had been a bright and beautiful day, with scarcely a breath of air astir, and with a calm, unruffled sea.  --During  the night a breeze sprang up, and the wind blowing freshly at daylight on Sunday, increased by noon to a violent storm.

The iron-clad fleet was lying meanwhile at its usual anchorage.  The frigate New Ironsides was stationed off Morris Island, at a distance of about one mile  due east from Fort Wagner --, or as it is now called Fort Strong.  North of the Ironsides lay the flagship Philadelphia, distant about 100 yards.  The Weehawken was next, anchored about  two or three hundred yards off to the northward of the flagship.

The first signal of distress was made from the Weehawken, at a few minutes before two o'clock.  The signal was seen and answered at once by the flagship, from which four boats were sent to her assistance, and by the South Carolina, which sent two of her boats to the Weehawken's aid.

The tugs Dandelion and Iris were also called up, and with them commander Duncan, of the Weehawken, who chanced to be on the flagship, and in conversation with the admiral, when the signal was made, proceeded immediately  with the hope of running his vessel to the beach.

--Old B-Runner

Monday, January 21, 2019

Hurricane Florence Recovery at UNC-Wilmington and Fort Fisher

From the December 20, 2018, Chronicle of Higher Education "How professors used hurricane-recovery grants to further their teaching"  by Cailin Crowe.

The University of North Carolina - Wilmington was badly hit by this past fall's Hurricane Florence.  School was closed for its 17,000 students for four weeks.

But, $21,000 in grants was shared by 42 professors.

The Earth and Ocean Department took students to Fort Fisher with its grant money.  While there, they assessed storm damage, coastal conservation and environmental preservation.

--Old B-Runner

Friday, January 18, 2019

Presentation on the Lumbee Indians At Fort Fisher

From the January 9, 2019, Wilmington (NC) Star-News  "Lumbees to be part of Fort Fisher anniversary observation" by Ben Steelman.

The role of Native Americans, the Lumbees, will be spotlighted at Fort Fisher on Saturday, January 12, at the ruins of the old fort when the 154th anniversary of its fall will be observed.

Malinda Maynor Lowery, associate professor of history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will present "The War Within the War:  Lumbee Indians at Fort Fisher."  She is  director of the Center  for the Study of the American South at the school and author of the book  "Lumbee Indians:  An American Struggle."

The Lumbees were mostly from North Carolina's Robeson County, and were not allowed to enlist in Confederate  regiments during the war.  Many, however, were conscripted as unpaid labor to work on the massive earthworks at Fort Fisher, guarding New Inlet channel to the Cape Fear River, a favorite entrance of blockade runners.

Many Lumbees resisted this conscription, , notably the outlaw Henry Berry Lowry.

Harvey Goodman, Jr., chairman  of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina, will introduce Lowery at 12:30 p.m. Saturday in the auditorium of the Fort Fisher Visitors Center.

--Old B-Runner

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Down She Goes, Sinking of USS Monitor--Part 5: Why Did It Sink?

After his initial recovery, John Bankhead filed his official report as did the commanding officers of the USS Rhode Island.  They stated that the officers and men of both ships did everything in their ability to keep the Monitor from sinking.  The Navy did not find it necessary to commission a board of inquiry to investigate it and no action was taken against Bankhead or his officers.

Sometime later, however, a controversy grew as to why the Monitor sank.  In the Army-Navy Journal, John Ericsson accused the crew of drunkenness during the storm, being consequently unable to prevent the ship from sinking.

Louis Stodder vigorously defended the crew and rebuked Ericsson's characterization of the crew and wrote that Ericsson "covers up defects by blaming those that are now dead."  He pointed out that there were a number of unavoidable events and circumstances that led to the ship's sinking.

Foremost was the overhang between the upper and lower hulls which came loose and partially separated during the storm from slamming into the violent waves.  Stodder's accounts were corroborated by other shipmates.

A Sad Loss.  --Old B-Runner

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

January 16, 1864: Blockade At Wilmington Getting Effective

These dates in history are from the Civil War Naval Chronology.

JANUARY 16TH, 1864:  The Richmond Enquirer reported that 26 shops on the blockading station off Wilmington, North Carolina, "guard all the avenues of approach with the most sleepless vigilance.  The consequences are that the chances of running the blockade (Hey, that's my title) have been greatly lessened,...

"...and it is apprehended by some that the day is not far distant when it will be an impossibility for a vessel to get into that port without incurring a hazard almost equivalent to positive loss.  Having secured nearly every seaport on our coast, the Yankees are enabled to keep a large force off Wilmington."

And one year later to this date, Fort Fisher had fallen and Wilmington, though still in Confederate hands, was closed for blockade running business.

Things Getting Tight at Wilmington.  --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

The Ultimate Sideburns, I Mean U-L-T-M-A-T-E John P. Bankhead

Seriously, find yourself a picture of the Monitor's last commander, John P. Bankhead and take a gander at his facial comment.

It's a Big Deal.

If you go to Civil War Talk site and find the thread on Cmdr. John P. Bankhead, USN, there is a photo of him and discussion about other famous sideburns, or do you call them burnsides?

Poor Burnside Had Nothing On This Guy.  --Old SecBurns

Monday, January 14, 2019

Down She Goes, the Sinking of the USS Monitor-- Part 4: Praise For Greene and Stodder

Officers Greene and Stodder were among the last men to evacuate the Monitor and remained with Bankhead who was the last surviving man to abandon the sinking Monitor.

In his official report to the Navy, Bankhead praised Greene and Stodder for their heroic efforts and wrote:  "I would beg leave to call the attention of the Admiral and Department of the particularly good conduct of Lieutenant Greene and Acting Master Louis N. Stodder, who remained with me to the last, and by their example did much toward inspiring confidence and obedience on the part of the others."

After a frantic rescue attempt, the Monitor finally foundered and sank approximately sixteen miles southeast of Cape Hatteras with the loss of sixteen men, including four officers, some of whom had remained in the turret and went down with the ship.

Forty-seven men were rescued by boats from the Rhode Island.  Bankhead, Greene and Stodder just barely got off the ship but suffered in the icy water.

--Old B-Runner

Friday, January 11, 2019

Down She Goes, the Sinking of USS Monitor-- Part 3: The Pumps Fail

Continued from January

The Monitor's commander, John P. Bankhead, then ordered the anchor dropped to stop the ship's rolling and  pitching, but this had little effect.  It was no easier for rescue boats to get close enough to get up close enough to do their job.

He then ordered the towline cut and called for volunteers to do it.  Acting Master Stodder along with sailors John Stocking and James Fenwick volunteered and climbed down the turret, but eyewitnesses said that as soon as they reached the deck Fenwick and Stocking were quickly swept overboard and drowned.

Stodder managed to hang on to the safety lines around the deck and got to the towline and cut the 13-inch diameter rope with a hatchet.

Ar 11:30 p.m., Bankhead ordered the engineers to stop the engines and divert all available steam to the large Adams centrifugal steam pump.  After all the steam pumps had failed, Bankhead ordered some of the crew to man the hand pumps and organized a bucket brigade, but to no avail.

--Old B-Runner

Thursday, January 10, 2019

January 10, 1864: Blockade Runner Captured Off Florida

JANUARY 10, 1864:  Boat crews from the USS Roebuck, Acting Master John Sherrill, captured blockade-running Confederate sloop Maria Louise with cargo of cotton off Jupiter Inlet, Florida.

Another B-R Done Gone.  --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Friends of Fort Fisher and Guests Invited to Sneak Preview of New Exhibit

The Friends of Fort Fisher (FoFF) has released this message to members.

On Wednesday, January 9 from 5:30 to 7 p.m., FoFF and guests will get a sneak preview of the new exhibit at the Fort Fisher Museum "Federal Point Lighthouses."

RSVP is needed if you're a member.

From 1817 to 1880 there were three lighthouses on Federal Point,  None of them remain standing today.  Two were destroyed by fire and one destroyed during the Civil War.

Becky Sawyer, the Fort Fisher State Historic Site collection manager will present  "When In Five Fathoms Water:  The Federal Point Lighthouses."

The exhibit showcases artifacts from a 1963 Stan South archaeological dig at the lighthouse keeper's cottage and a 2009 archaeological dig of the 1837 Federal Point Lighthouse.  These artifacts have never been displayed before.

Sawyer has a MA in public history from UNC-Wilmington.

--Old B-R'er

154th Anniversary Second Battle of Fort Fisher This Saturday-- Part 2: Speakers


During the course of the day, the Fort Fisher State Historic Site will have three speakers:

10:30 a.m.  Becky Sawyer, Fort Fisher interpreter, will discuss the forts new temporary exhibit about the lighthouses at Federal Point.  The peninsula Fort Fisher is on is called Federal Point (changed to Confederate Point during the war).

There have been three lighthouses on it, none of which still stand.

12:30 p.m.:  Dr. Malinda Maynor Lowrey will present "A War Within a War:  Lumbee Indians At Fort Fisher."

She is a professor at UNC-Chapel Hill.

2:30 p.m.:  Dr. Jamie Martinez, associate professor at UNC-Pembroke will have a discussion about insufficient labor in the Confederacy.

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

Monday, January 7, 2019

154th Anniversary 2nd Battle of Fort Fisher This Saturday-- Part 1

From the December  23, 2018, Wilmington (N.C.) Star-News  "Fort Fisher program includes speakers, cannon fire."

January 13-15 marks the 154th anniversary of the Second Battle of Fort Fisher which took place in 1865.  A commemoration will be held from 10 a.m.  to 4 p.m. January 12.  It is called  "...And How We Suffered:  the 154th Commemoration of the Second Battle of Fort Fisher."

Outside, re-enactors will show infantry tactics and demonstrations firing the 32-pounder cannon, 12-pounder Napoleon and 10 pounder Parrot rifle.

Beginning at 10 a.m., there will also be two Junior Reserve activities for children.  The N.C. Junior Reserves helped defend the fort with boys under the age of 18.

The OLD Fort!!  --Old B-Runner

Friday, January 4, 2019

Down She Goes, the Sinking of the USS Monitor-- Part 2

The Monitor's situation continued to deteriorate as the storm worsened.  Large waves were crashing over and covering the deck and pilot house.  The crew temporarily rigged the ship's wheel to the top of the turret which was manned by helmsman Francis Butts.

Water continued flooding into vents and ports and the ship began rolling uncontrollably in the high seas.    Sometimes she would drop into a wave with such force that the whole ship would tremble.  Leaks were beginning to appear everywhere.

Bankhead ordered the Worthington pumps to be started which temporarily stemmed the rising waters.  But, then the Monitor was hit by a squall and a series of violent waves and water continued to make its way into the Monitor.

Just as the Wothington pumps could no longer keep up the engine room reported that the water was gaining there as well.

Bankhead realized his ship was doomed and signaled the Rhode Island for help and hoiseted  the red lantern next to the Monitor's white running light atop the turret.

Serious Situation.  --Old B-Runner

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Down She Goes, the Sinking of the USS Monitor-- Part 1

From Wikipedia.

The crew celebrated Christmas  in fine style while berthed in Hampton Roads.  That day, though, the Monitor received orders to make ready for sea and the crew under strict orders not to discuss the voyage with anyone.  But bad weather delayed departure until 29 December.

The Monitor was well-designed for river combat but her low freeboard and heavy turret made her highly unseaworthy on the high seas and rough weather.  And that is just what she sailed into.  Under the command of John P. Bankhead,  the Monitor put to sea under tow of the USS Rhode Island on 29 December 1862.

A heavy storm developed off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.

The Monitor's situation continued to worsen.  Bankhead  wrote messages on a chalkboard to alert the Rhode Island of conditions aboard his ship.

--Old B-Runner

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Jan. 1, 1864-- Part 2: Great Blockade Running At Wilmington

On 2 January, Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles again proposed an attack on the fortifications protecting Wilmington, "the only port by which any supplies whatever  reach the rebels...."

He suggested to Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton that a joint expedition be taken against Fort Caswell:  "The result of such operation is to enable vessels to lie inside, as in the case with Charleston, thus closing the port effectually."

However, major general Henry W. Halleck advised Stanton that campaigns to which the Army was committed in Louisiana and Texas would not permit the men for the suggested assault to be spared.  Thus, although the Navy increasingly felt the need to close Wilmington, the port remained a haven for blockade runners for another year.

The First Battle o Fort Fisher took place almost a year later.

--Old B-Runner

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

January 1, 1864: Great Blockade Running At Wilmington, N.C.-- Part 1: 397 Ships

JANUARY 1, 1864

As the new year opened, the Union once again focused its attention on Wilmington, North Carolina.  Since 1862, the Navy had pressed for a combined assault on this major east coast port, ideally located for blockade running less than 600 miles from Nassau and only 675 from Bermuda.

Despite the efforts of the Union fleet, the runners had continued to ply their trade successfully.  In the fall of 1863, a British observer reported that thirteen steamers ran into Wilmington between 10 and 29 September and that fourteen ships put to sea between 2 and 19 September.

In fact, James Randall, an employee of a Wilmington shipping firm, reported that 397 ships visited Wilmington during the first two and a half years of the war.

Old B-Runner