Friday, May 31, 2019

N.C. Events May 1864: That CSS Albemarle Problem

From the North Carolina Civil War Sesquicentennial site.

MAY 24--  Appearance of Confederate ironclad CSS Albemarle in Albemarle Sound.

MAY 25--  Expedition from USS Wyalusing for torpedo attack on CSS Albemarle.

MAY 26--  Torpedo explosion at Batchelder's Creek.

MAY 30--  Capture of British steamer Caledonia.

--Old B-Runner

Thursday, May 30, 2019

USS Atlanta-- Part 3: Sold to Haiti After the War

On 4 May 1869, the Atlanta was sold to Sam Ward for $25,000 and after that delivered to representatives of Haiti on 8 December  by Sydney Oaksmith, a lawyer who had received an advance of $50,000 on her purchase price of $260,000.  (A pretty good profit.)

The ship was briefly seized by U.S. Customs Service, possibly for violations of neutrality laws as she had recently loaded  four large guns and a number of recruits for the force of Sylvain Salnave, President of Haiti, who was embroiled in a civil war at the time.

The Atlanta was released and sailed for Haiti three days later.  She broke down  in Delaware Bay and had to put in at Chester, Pennsylvania, for repairs.

The ship was renamed either the Triumph or Triumfo, and departed on 18 December 1869 and vanished en route, apparently sinking with the loss of all hands, either off Cape Hatteras or the Delaware Capes.

It would be interesting if this ship is found someday.  And, imagine, a former Confederate ship fighting for Haiti.  That would have been interesting.

--Old B-Runner

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

May 29, 1864: Capture of a Blockade Runner Off Mississippi

MAY 29, 1864:  The USS Cowslip, Acting Ensign Richard Canfield, captured sloop Last Push off the coast of Mississippi with a cargo of corn.

--Old B-Runner

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Confederate Soldier and Sailors Are American Military

I was on the road as it were these past five days and not doing blog entries as I was at the largest Memorial Day commemoration, the one in Indianapolis involving a famous race.  This is why there were no posts the last five days.

I know there are many today who seek to besmear the good reputation of the Confederate soldier, but I am sure if you asked the rank and file what they were fighting for, the answer would be defending their homes and families and Southern Rights.  Very few of the rank and file owned slaves, probably no more than 85-90% as they were the poorer Southerners.  Officers were the ones most likely to have slaves as they were richer.

Those who say the war was fought only for the right to keep slaves by the South overlook Lincoln's promise to the South before the war that slavery would be allowed to continue where ever  it already existed.  Meaning that all they had to do to keep their slaves was to remain in the Union.  Surely, that would be easier than fighting a war with a much more populous and richer part of the country and risking invasion.

Yet, They Went Ahead and Seceded.  There Just Had To be Something More To It.  --Old B-Runner

Thursday, May 23, 2019

USS Atlanta-- Part 2: Service on the James River

The newly commissioned USS Atlanta was sent to the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron and spent most of her time stationed on the James River where she supported operations against  Richmond and defended against forays by the Confederate ironclads.

That would have been interesting had the USS Atlanta had come to battle one of the Confederate ironclads.

On May 21, 1864, the Atlanta and gunboat Dawn fired on and dispersed Confederate cavalry attacking Fort Powhatan, as I wrote about yesterday.

In February 1865, she was deployed further upriver after the Battle of Trent's Reach to better blockade  the Confederate ironclads at Richmond.

After the war ended, the Atlanta was decommissioned in Philadelphia June 21, 1865, and placed in reserve at League Island.

--Old B-Runner

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

USS Atlanta-- Part 1: The CSS Atlanta Surrenders to Union Navy

In yesterday's post, I wrote about the former CSS Atlanta (and before that the blockade  runner Fingal) which had been captured by the monitors Weehawken and Nahant 17 June 1863.

From Wikipedia.


The  CSS Atlanta ran aground during the battle and was being hammered by the two monitors and forced to surrender.  It was easily freed by the Union ships and sailed to Port Royal under her own power.    She was not  heavily damaged and repaired and bought by the Union Navy.

Prize money of $350,000 was shared by the crews of the Weehawken, Nahant and gunboat Cimarron who were the only ships within signalling distance.

The ship retained her name and was commissioned as a U.S. warship on 2 February 1864.  Her former armament of four Brooke rifled cannons was removed and replaced with a pair of 8-inch 150-pdrs.  Parrott rifles in the bow and stern and two 6.4-inch 100-pdrs. Parrotts amidships.

All four of the Confederate Brooke Rifles are still on display at Willard Park at the Washington Navy Yard.

--Old B-Runner

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

May 21, 1864: Ironclad USS Atlanta Opens Fire on Confederate Cavalry

MAY 21ST, 1864:  Gunfire from the ironclad steamer USS Atlanta, Acting Lieutenant Thomas J. Woodward, and the USS Dawn, Acting Lieutenant  John W. Simmons, dispersed Confederate cavalry attacking Fort Powhatan on the James River, Virginia.

Dawn, a wooden steamer, remained above the fort during the night to prevent another attack.

The USS Atlanta was the former CSS Atlanta captured by the Union Navy  17 June 1863 near Savannah.    Seeing such a clearly Confederate ironclad firing at them must have been quite disconcerting to the Confederate cavalry.

--Old B-Runner

Monday, May 20, 2019

Chris Fonvielle Presentation Tonight for the Federal Point Historic Preservation Society

From the Federal Point  Historic Preservation Society (FPHPS) Newsletter.

I belong to this fine organization and sure would like to be there, but something about a 1200 mile distance prevents it.

The May Meeting of the FPHPS will be held tonight, May 20 at 7:30 PM.  It will be held at the federal Point History Center, 1121-A North Lake Park Blvd., next to the Carolina Beach (NC) Town Hall.

This month the presentation will by noted Wilmington area Civil War expert Chris E. Fonvielle, Jr., who will be talking about "Sugar Loaf and the Battle for Wilmington, NC, 1865."  We will learn about the Confederate defenses at Sugar Loaf and Union efforts to overrun them after the capture of Fort Fisher and the capture Wilmington, N.C..

Like I Said, I Really Would Love To Be  There.  --Old B-Runner

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Chris Fonvielle's Doing Some Fort Fisher Talking

Now that he is retired from being a history professor at University of North Carolina-Wilmington, Dr. Fonvielle is sure doing a lot of talking.  And, when it comes to the Civil War history of the Wilmington area, I know of no one more knowledgeable or qualified.

Today, May 18, he will be giving a talk on "Fort Fisher 1865:  The Photography of Timothy O'Sullivan" at a Friends of Fort Fisher fundraiser at the fort.  He has written a book on these photographs.  I was impressed when he was with the Blockade Runner Museum back in the early 1980s and he had a complete set of the photographs of O'Sullivan.

Afterwards there will be a walking tour of the remaining sites Mr. O'Sullivan photographed back in 1965.  The talk begins at 10 a.m., EDST at the Fort Fisher State Historic Site at Kure Beach, N.C..

Then, Monday, May 20, he will make a presentation on the Battle of Sugar Loaf, January 19 and February 11, 1865, at the Federal Point Historic Preservation Society at Carolina Beach, N.C..  Sugar Loaf was a major battle in the attempt of the Union Army to capture Wilmington after the fall of Fort Fisher.

--Old B-Runner

Thursday, May 16, 2019

May 16, 1864: Action Near Ratliff's Landing, Mississippi

MAY 16TH, 1864:  Ships of the Mississippi Squadron were constantly occupied with safeguarding river transportation from Southern attack.  Side-wheeler USS General Price, Acting Lieutenant  Richardson, engaged a Confederate battery which had taken transport steamer Mississippi under fire near Ratliff's Landing, Mississippi.

The USS Lafayette, Acting Lieutenant Cyrenius Dominy, converged upon the battery and the three heavy steamers forced the Confederate gunners back from the river, enabling the transport to proceed.

--Old B-Runner

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Running Down the B-R Young Republic-- Part 2: 350 Bales of Cotton Thrown Overboard

On boarding, the Union sailors found that the crew of the Young Republic had thrown overboard  around 350 bales of cotton and had demolished all movable articles like  compasses, thermometers,  and furniture.  Some of the tossed articles were picked up by the Grand Gulf's boats.

They couldn't find out her complete cargo but gathered from the ship's crew that it had  from 500 to 700 bales of cotton and  sixty or 70 tons of tobacco when it left Wilmington.  The Grand Gulf picked up 320 bales of cotton that were thrown overboard.  There was a whole lot of prize money involved with those cotton bales, so every effort was made to save them.

"Her Captain's name is HARRIS, who was at the breaking out  of the rebellion, a master aboard of the United States steamer Richmond.  She is considered an important capture."

--Old B-Runner

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Running Down the Blockade Runner Young Republic on May 6, 1864-- Part 1

Two posts ago, I wrote about the capture of the blockade runner Young Republic on May 6, 1864.

From the Monday, May 14, 1864, New York Times.  "UNITED STATES STEAMSHIP GRAND GULF, OFF WILMINGTON, N.C."

Capture of blockade runner Young Republic, of Nassau, formerly the Conqueror of New York.

It ran out of Old Inlet on the 5th and almost got into the middle of the blockading fleet there, but managed to elude it.  She was spotted from the Grand Gulf's masthead by  Acting Ensign CHAS. H. CADIEN. Couldn't really make her out until  the fog burned off about 7 o'clock.

The fact that it was a steamer, and not one of the blockaders roused suspicions of the Grand Gulf's commander GEO. M. RANSOM.  Speed was got up immediately for the chase.

By 8 o'clock, several  miles had been gained on her  and suspicions were confirmed when they saw her throwing bales of cotton overboard.

At 9 o'clock, the Grand Republic opened fire with her 100-pdr cannon.  The stranger did not heed the shots and continued on her way.  By 11, some  thirty or forty shots had been fired, some of which struck and she was brought to.

--Old B-Runner

Monday, May 13, 2019

May 1864 N.C. Events: Capture of Three Blockade Runners

MAY 9--  Capture of steamer Minnie.

MAY 10--  Capture of British steamer Greyhound.

MAY 15--  Capture of blockade runner Tristram Shandy.  (Later became the USS Tritram Shandy.)

Bad Few Days for Blockade Runners.  --Old B-R'er

May 1864 Happenings in North Carolina-- Part 1: The Ironclads CSS Albemarle and CSS Raleigh Attack

From the North Carolina Civil War Sesquicentennial Timeline.All events in weastern part of the stae unless you see (WEST).

MAY  4--  Skirmish on Trent Road,

MAY 4-6--  Operations about New Bern, and in Albemarle Sound.

MAY 5--  Skirmish at Croatan.

MAY 5--  Engagement at  in Roanoke River with CSS Albemarle.   Casualties on both sides, roughly 88.

MAY 5--   Skirmish on south  side of the Trent River.

MAY  6--  Capture of British steamer Young Republic.

MAY 6-7--  Attack on Union blockaders off New Inlet by ironclad ram CSS Raleigh.

May 7--  Ironclad ram CSS Raleigh ran aground inside New Inlet and was destroyed by Confederates.

--Old B-Runner

Friday, May 10, 2019

Blockade Runners Sunk at Masoboro Inlet and Wreck of USS Columbia

From Wrightsville Beach (NC) Magazine  "Wrightsville Wreck of USS Columbia:  by Chris Fonvielle.

Three other wrecks of blockade runners believed to be the Dee, Fanny and Jenny and  the Emily were discovered between the inlet and Crystal Pier.  A recent dredging project by the U.S. Army Corps of Enhineers disturbed the Columbia shipwreck.

Adding to the evidence that that wreck is that of the Columbia,  three wooden sabots that cushioned 24-pdr. cannonballs washed ashore at Masonboro Island, just south of the inlet in 2010.  They were discovered by a Southport resident who turned them over to  the North Carolina Division of Archives and History Underwater  Archaeology Branch at Fort Fisher in Kure Beach for conservation.  The Columbia's armament included six 24 pdr. cannons.

--Old B-Runner

Thursday, May 9, 2019

USS Columbia-- Part 5: Aftermath

During the afternoon of January 16 and much of the following day, Confederates boarded the Columbia to salvage anything they could.  During that time the USS Cambridge and Penobscot remained on station and shelled them.  With a Confederate flag flying defiantly over the ship, they continued until everything of use was stripped off it.

They then burned what was left of the ship.

In May 1909, the Wilmington (N.C.) Dispatch reported that the wreck of the Columbia was still visible in the water a few hundred yards from the Lumina.  In the late 1970s, underwater archaeologists detected a large iron anomaly deep in the sand near the Masonboro Inlet jetty, which were  later identified as the shipwreck of the Columbia.

--Old B-Runner

USS Columbia-- Part 4: Surrender and Imprisonment

Rufus E. Lester claimed that his regiment, the  25th Georgia Infantry, participated in the battle over the USS Columbia.  The January 17, 1863, Wilmington Daily Journal reported that Col. Lamb at Fort Fisher had sent a Whitworth rifled cannon with a range of four miles along with a detachment of cavalry to assist.

As a result of this battle between the USS Cambridge and USS Penobscot and the Confederates,  the Columbia received considerable damage from the crossfire during the morning of January 16.  Between the firing and heavy seas, rescue operations for the Columbia's crew were halted.  Seeing the inevitable, Lt. Couthouy threw most of his cannons overboard.and then hoisted  a white flag of surrender.

Lifeboats began moving the remaining crew ashore around noon.  Twelve officers, including Couthouy and 28 sailors became prisoners of war.  After a brief stay in Wilmington, the officers were moved to a prison camp  in Salisbury, N.C., and the sailors to Richmond, Virginia.

--Old B-Runner

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

USS Columbia-- Part 3: The Battle Over the Columbia

Despite the crew's best efforts to free the iron-hulled ship, waves pushed her broadside to the shoreline and flooded her boilers.  Flares were fired into the night-time sky, hoping to alert nearby blockaders to come to her aide.

When that failed Lt. Couthouy sent a boat to alert the commander of the squadron, some  20 miles south.  The boat made little headway in the rough seas and it was late the next day when it reached the nearest ship, the USS Cambridge which got underway immediately.

When she arrived, the USS Penobscot was already there and rescue operations underway  They managed to get crew men off the wreck, but a gale on January 15 hampered efforts.

The next morning, Confederate troops arrived and tried to claim the ship.  Confederate sentinels on the beach had probably spotted the wreck on the 15th and alerted the Wilmington command  Soldiers and artillery arrived and took up positions behind the sand dunes at Masonboro Inlet.  They engaged the cannons of the Cambridge and Penobscot.

--Old B-Runner

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

May 7, 1864: Capture and Destruction of the USS Shawsheen

MAY 7TH, 1864:  The USS Shawsheen, Acting Ensign Charles Ringot, was disabled, captured and destroyed by Confederates on the James River, Virginia.  The Shawsheen, a 180-ton side-wheel steamer, had been ordered to drag the river for torpedoes above Chaffin's Bluff, and had anchored near the shore shortly before noon so that the crew could eat, when Confederate infantry and artillery surprised the boat.

Lieutenant Colonel W.M. Elliott, CSA, reported that the Shawsheen was completely disabled and "though reluctantly, she nevertheless hauled down her colors and displayed the white flag in token of surrender.

"A boat was dispatched to enforce the delivery of prisoners on board, the enemy's boats being made available to bring them off.  The officer was also instructed to fire the vessel, which was effectively done, the fire quickly reaching the magazine, exploding it, consigning all to the wind and waves."

--Old B-R'er

USS Columbia-- Part 3: A Short Union Service, Ran Aground At Masonboro Inlet

The U.S. government purchased the Columbia at the Key West Prize Court in November and armed her and assigned her to the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron after fitting her out at  as a blockader at Hampton Roads, Virginia.  She was armed with six 24-pdr smoothbore cannons and one 30-pdr. rifled cannon and had a crew of 100.

Lt. Joseph Pitty Couthouy was placed in command.

In late December 1962, the USS Columbia headed south and joined the Wilmington, N.C. squadron.  Its new duty was to cruise up and down the coast and intercept blockade runners.  Shortly after dark on January 14, 1863, Lieutenant Couthouy ordered his ship to anchor for the night near what is today Wrightsville Beach.  Unfortunately the leadsman miscalculated the depth until the ship was almost in among the breakers.

Couthouy ordered the engines reversed but it was too late.

The Columbia ran aground full and hard in eight feet of water at Masonboro Inlet.

--Old B-Runner

Monday, May 6, 2019

USS Columbia (1862)-- Part 2: Captured on Maiden Blockade Runner Voyage

From the Wrightsville Beach (NC) Magazine  "Wrightsville Wreck of the USS Columbia" by Dr. Chris E. Fonvielle.

Boats cruising through Masonboro Inlet in North Carolina may not know it, but they are passing over a piece of Wrightsville Beach history.  Buried under 15 feet of sand are the remains of the USS Columbia, a Union gunboat that accidentally ran aground in Mid-January 1863 and sank.

It is one of the more than 80 Civil War shipwrecks along the Cape Fear coast, the highest concentration of these shipwrecks anywhere. Most of them are blockade runners.  And, the Columbia was originally a blockade runner.

It was built by Archibald Denny in Dumbarton, Scotland in July 1862.  The ship was 168 feet long, 25 feet wide with a 14-foot draft.  Unfortunately for her, she was captured on her maiden voyage by the USS Santiago de Cuba off Florida on August 3, 1862.

A Real Short Career As a Blockade Runner.   No Money Made Here.  --Old B-Runner

Friday, May 3, 2019

USS Columbia (1862)-- Part 1: A Captured Blockade Runner

From Wikipedia.

The screw steamer Columbia was a 168-foot blockade runner captured by the USS Santiago de Cuba off the coast of Florida on 3 August 1862.  It was purchased by the U.S. Navy at the Key West Prize Court on 4 November 1862 and commissioned in December under command of Acting Volunteer Lieutenant Joseph Pitty Couthouy.

It had a complement of 100 and mounted six 24-pdr. smoothbore cannons and one 30-pdr. rifled gun.

While serving with the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron off Wilmington, North Carolina, it ran aground and was wrecked off Masonboro Inlet. on 14 January 1863.  Forty of her crew and her commanding officer were captured by Confederates.

A Short U.S. Navy Career.  --Old B-Runner

Thursday, May 2, 2019

USS Columbias in the Civil War-- Part 1: USS Columbia 1836

I have been writing about the USS Columbia in my Not So Forgotten:  War of 1812 blog.  It was a frigate under construction that was burned at the Washington Navy Yard in 1814 to prevent capture by the British. Butt there were three ships by the name of USS Columbia involved in the Civil War.

From Wikipedia.

The first USS Columbia of the three in the Civil War was a fifty gun wooden sailing frigate launched in 1836.  It was the flagship of the U.S. East Indies Squadron and one of the first American naval ships to circumnavigate the globe.  It was scuttled and burned at Norfolk Navy Yard in Virginia on 21 April 1861  to prevent capture by Confederate forces.

Following the end of the Civil War, it was raised and sold on 10 October 1867.

--Old B-R'er

USS Lexington-- Part 4: At Vicksburg and Red River Campaigns

After relieving the Union Fort Donelson garrison, the Lexington went back to the Mississippi River on June 2 and took part in the final operations against Vicksburg.  The Lexington joined the USS Choctaw in aiding outnumbered Union troops  at Milliken's Bend, Mississippi.

For the next month, she operated against Vicksburg until it fell.  In October it was back to the Tennessee River and then in February 1864 back to the Mississippi and operations on the Red River where the Lexington and fleet were saved by the construction of the dam which allowed water levels to rise enough for the fleet to pass through the rapids to safety on May 9, 1864.

On 15 June 1864, the  Lexington seized two steamers with cotton on board. then repulsed an attack on White River Station, Arkansas, on 22 June 1864.  For the rest of the war, the Lexington did convoy and patrol duty.

Decommissioned on 2 July 1865 and sold 17 August 1865.

The Union Sure Got Their Money's Worth Out of This Ship.  --Old B-Runner

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

USS Lexington-- Part 3: Further Operations on the White, Yazoo and Cumberland Rivers

The Lexington continued operations on the Tennessee River until returning to the Mississippi with the Conestoga, Mound City  and St. Louis and entered the White River and captured St. Charles, Arkansas.

The Lexington was afterwards transferred to the Union Navy and in October 1962, participated in a joint expedition up the Yazoo River to attack Vicksburg from the rear.  Providing cover for General Sherman's troops when they attacked on Chickasaw Bayou.

On January 4, 1863, the gunboats and army transports headed up the White River for an attack on Fort Hindman which was captured.  Then the Lexington was recalled to the Cumberland River in Tennessee and cleared it of Confederate efforts as well as arriving just in time to save the Union garrison at Fort Donelson.

--Old B-R'er

USS Lexington-- Part 2: Action At Belmont, Fort Henry and Shiloh

The USS Lexington saw action on September 10, 1861, when it and the USS Conestoga exchanged shots with a Confederate battery at Lucas Bend, Missouri, and damaged the Confederate ship Jackson.

In November, the Lexington covered Gen. Grant's Army at the Battle of Belmont and then steamed up the Tennessee River to attack Fort Henry.  The Union gunboats forced Fort Henry to surrender and afterwards swept the Tennessee River of Confederate transports and captured the unfinished steamer Eastport and destroyed a railroad bridge.

After repairs, the Lexington and  USS Tyler engaged Confederates fortifying Pittsburg Landing on March 1, 1862,  then went further upriver and engaged a Confederate battery at Chickasaw, Alabama, on the 12th.

Then came the Battle of Shiloh on April 6, when, with the Union Army  looking deep  in defeat, the two ships dropped downriver and opened fire on the Confederate right flank as it crashed down on the Federal troops along the river.  Their concentrated broadsides stopped the Confederate advance.

They continued their heavy fire throughout the night.

Thank You Navy.  --Old B-Runner