Saturday, February 29, 2020

Mariner's Museum in Virginia Boring the USS Monitor's Guns

From the February 26, 2020, Daily  Press (Va,)  "Mariner's Museum bores gun of USS Monitor, takes major step  toward displaying ironclad's weapons" by Josh Reyes.

Eric Farrell didn't mind the  black water pouring on him as he peered down the bore of an eight-ton Dahlgren cannon as he kept the drill steady that was eating into the cannon.

The gun had set in a chemical bath at the museum for several years and for 140 years before that, it sat on the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.  And, before that, it was in the rotating turret of the USS Monitor in its epic fight with the Confederate ironclad CSS Virginia.

Tuesday was the first time he and the others in his group were able to use that one-of--kind drill to clear out silt, coal and other debris that had accumulated over the years.  Next week they plan to start on the second cannon.

Once the two cannons are bored out scientists will see how much salt still remains in each barrel and then chemically extract it.

Boring into these mammoth guns is no easy job.  Each weighs nearly eight tons and are 11 feet long with an opening 11 inches across.

At one point in the boring, something hard was encountered and there was a momentary thought it might be the ship's cat which according to one story was placed in the gun as the ship sank.  It turned out to be apiece of a crab.

Oh, Well, No Cat But Crab.  --Old B-Runner

Friday, February 28, 2020

Conservators Clean Civil War Ironclad USS Monitor's Guns

From the February 25, 2020, 13 News Now by Christopher Collette.

Crews are busily working on the ship's Dahlgren cannons at the Mariner's Museum.  These guns fired at the CSS Virginia in one of the most famous naval battles in history in 1862, then they went to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean when the ship sank later that year off North Carolina's Cape Hatteras, taking 16 men with them.

The Monitor's wreck was discovered in the 1970s and recovery of parts, including the famed turret in which the two cannons were located, started in the 1990s.

On Tuesday, they started to clean  the 11-foot bores in each of the massive guns.  A good video accompanies the article.  They need to use a special-made tool to do this  to remove the marine growth inside the guns.According to them, the Monitor's guns are the largest ever to be bored.

All told, the project is expected to take another ten years.

--Old B-Runner

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Feb. 25, 1865: CSS Chickamauga Sunk As An Obstruction in Cape Fear River

FEBRUARY 25TH, 1865:  The CSS Chickamauga was burned and sunk by her own crew in the Cape Fear River just below Indian Wells, North Carolina.  The position selected by the Confederates was above Wilmington on the Northwest Fork of the river leading to Fayetteville.

The scuttling was intended to obstruct the river and prevent the Union from establishing water communication between Wilmington and General Sherman's army operating in the interior of the state.

The effort proved abortive as the current swept the hulk  around parallel to the bank and by 12 March the water link between Wilmington and Fayetteville had been opened.  Every river that could float a ship was an artery of strength from the sea for Sherman in his rapid march north.

--Old B-Runner

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Feb. 24, 1865: More Navy Reductions and the Impact on Lee's Army

FEBRUARY 24TH, 1865:  Secretary Welles similarly directed Rear Admiral Dahlgren to send north vessels under his command that were no longer required, especially the least efficient.  "The Department is of the opinion that the fall of Fort Fisher and Charleston will enable us to reduce the expenses of the maintenance of the Navy."

Even as the Union Navy was being cut back, the effect of Northern sea power was felt more and more by General Lee's army.  With its last access to the sea, Wilmington, now controlled by the North, the shortage of essential supplies -- including shoes, artillery, blankets. lead, medicines and even food for men and horses -- became increasingly desperate.

By now, much of Lee's famed cavalry, for want of horses, had become infantry.

--Old B-Runner

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

February 24, 1865: Welles Orders Downsizing of Navy As War Nears End

FEBRUARY 24TH, 1865:  The intention of the Navy Department to reduce the size of the operating force as the end of hostilities neared was indicated  in Secretary Welles' instructions to Rear Admiral Thatcher, commanding the West Gulf Blockading Squadron, to send "North such purchased vessels as appear by surveys to require very extensive repairs ... and all those no longer required.

"These will probably be sold or laid up.  You also will send home any stores that are not required.  Further requisition must be carefully examined before  approval, and the commanders of squadrons are expected to use every possible exertion and care to reduce the expenses of their squadron."

It's a Reduction in Force.  --Old B-R'er

February 22, 1865: The Confederacy's About Over By Now

FEBRUARY 22ND, 1865:  Not only was Rebel War Clerk J.B. Jones getting down in the dumps about his Confederacy's chances, but many across the South as well.

Material suffering  and the unwavering pressure of Union armies ashore and Federal ships afloat destroyed Southern hopes.  In the Union's strength at sea the Confederacy faced a double disadvantage.

Not only did the fleet provide the North with massed artillery, great mobility. easy concentration and surprise in attack, but also provided a safe fortress to which soldiers ashore could retreat -- as had been most recently  shown during General Butler's amphibious failure at Fort Fisher as 1864 ended.

And, the Navy certainly provided support as Union troops advanced up the banks of the Cape Fear River in their quest to capture Wilmington.

I always have to wonder that had I been a Confederate soldier at this time, whether I would have just given up and gone home.

--Old B-Runner

Wilmington's Famous "Dram Tree"-- Part 1: Pour One Out for the Old Dram Tree

From the February 23, 2020, Wilmington (NC) Star-News  "Pour One Out for the old Dram Tree" by Hunter Ingram.

The ancient bald cypress tree called the "Dram Tree" was once a much beloved landmark  of the Cape Fear River.  And, that was for centuries.

The 28-miles from the mouth of the Cape Fear River to Wilmington was always tricky and dangerous until modern dredging and efforts made it better.  But before that, you almost had to hold your breath.  And, of course, that would include those sleek blockade runners during the Civil War as well as the Union warships involved in the capture of the city after the fall of Fort Fisher.

Running aground on treacherous shoals was a definite possibility.

But in days of yore, the sight of the Old Dram Tree gave mariners a sign of relief for those coming up the river.  They had made it.

--Old B-Runner

Wilmington's Famous "Dram Tree"-- Part 2: "Like a Grim Sentinel"

The famed old tree stuck out of the west bank  of the Cape Fear River about two miles south of Wilmington.

The crooked, ancient bald cypress tree. covered with Spanish moss looked as though it had been the victim of nature's wrath over hundreds of years.  The top of it had no leaves.   It looked like something you might see in a horror movie.

But, to those old mariners, it was something you wanted to see.  It meant home and safety.  When they saw it, this meant that Wilmington was real close by.

Famed local historian James Sprunt once described it as:  "Like a grim sentinel, it stands to warn the outgoing mariner that his voyage had begun and to welcome the in-coming storm-tossed sailor into the quiet harbor beyond."

But, why is it called "The Dram Tree?"

Next.  --Old B-Runner

Monday, February 24, 2020

Feb. 23, 1865: Bleak Gets Even Bleaker in Richmond As Confederate Fortunes Wane-- Part 1

FEBRUARY 22, 1865:  In Richmond, Confederate  War Department clerk J.B. Jones wrote in his diary:  "To-day is the anniversary of the birth of Washington, and of the inauguration of Davis; but I hear of no holiday.  Not much is doing, however, in the departments; simply a waiting for calamities, which come with stunning rapidity.

"The next news, I suppose, will be the evacuation of Wilmington!  Then Raleigh may tremble.  Unless there is a speedy turn in the tide of affairs, confusion will reign  supreme and universally."

And this was way before this year's vote on Confederate statue removal in Virginia.  Things are pretty bleak on that front as well.

--Old B-Runner

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Feb. 21-22, 1865: The Fall of Wilmington, "The Anaconda Has, At Last, Wound His Fatal Folds Around Us"

FEBRUARY 21ST-22ND, 1865:  The gunboat fleet of Rear Admiral Porter closed in on Fort Strong and opened rapid fire "all along the enemy's line" to support the Army attack ashore as it had throughout the soldiers' steady march up both banks of the Cape Fear River.

The next day, 22 February, the defenders evacuated the fort and Porter's ships steamed up to Wilmington, which earlier in the day had been occupied by general terry's men after General Bragg had ordered the evacuation  of the now defenseless city.

That same day, the admiral wrote Secretary Welles:  "I have then honor to inform you that Wilmington has been evacuated and is in possession of our troops ....  I had the pleasure of placing the flag on Fort Strong, and at 12 o'clock noon today shall fire a salute of thirty-five guns this being the anniversary of Washington's birthday."

As Raphael  later wrote:  "...we had lost our last blockade-running port.  Our ports are now all hermetically sealed.  The anaconda has, at last, wound his fatal folds around us."

So Long Wilmington.  --Old B-Runner

Friday, February 21, 2020

Feb. 19-20, 1865: The "Old Bogey" Goes Back Into Action

FEBRUARY 19TH-20TH, 1865:  One of Porter's officers wrote that "Old Bogey", the make-shift monitor fashioned by the admiral to deceive Fort Anderson's defenders (since he only had one monitor, the USS Montauk)  (See Feb. 16-17), had taken part in the action against Fort Strong:  "Johnny Reb let off his torpedoes without effect on it, and the old thing sailed across the river and grounded in the flank and rear of the enemy's lines on the eastern bank, whereupon they fell back in the night.

"She now occupies the most advanced position of the line, and Battery Lee has been banging away at her, and probably wondering why she does not answer.  Last night after a half day's fighting, the rebs sent down about 50 torpedoes; but although 'Old Bogey' took no notice of them, they kept the rest of us pretty lively as long as the ebb tide ran."

That Old Bogey.  --Old B-Runner

Thursday, February 20, 2020

February 19-20, 1865: Fort Strong Engaged and Confederates Release the Torpedoes in the Cape Fear River, NC

FEBRUARY 19TH TO 20TH, 1865:  Following the evacuation of Fort Anderson, Rear Admiral Porter's gunboats steamed seven miles up the Cape Fear River to the Big Island shallows and the piling obstructions and engaged Fort Strong's five guns.  Ship's boats swept the river for torpedoes (mines) ahead of the fleet's advance.

On the night of the 20th, the Confederates released 200 floating torpedoes, which were avoided with great difficulty and kept the boat crews engaged in sweeping throughout the hours of darkness.

Although many of the gunboats safely swept with their nets, the USS Osceola, Commander J.M.B. Clitz, received hull damage and lost a paddle wheel box by an explosion.

Another torpedo destroyed a boat from the USS Shawmut, inflicting four casualties.

--Old B-Runner

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Feb. 18, 1865: Fort Anderson Falls and Sugar Loaf Evacuated in North Carolina

FEBRUARY 18TH, 1865:  The big guns of Rear Admiral Porter's fleet in the Cape Fear River silenced the Confederate batteries at Fort Anderson.  Under a relentless hail, of fire from the ships and with Union troops investing the fort from two sides, the Southerners evacuated their defensive positions and fell back to Town Creek.

Simultaneously, the Confederates dug in at Sugar Loaf Hill, on the east bank of the Cape Fear River, adjacent to Fort Anderson, withdrew to Fort Strong, a complex of fortifications comprising several batteries some three miles south of Wilmington.

The combined Army-Navy movement was now pushing irresistibly toward Wilmington, North Carolina.

--Old B-Runner

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Feb. 18, 1865: Charleston Sailors Find Way to Wilmington a Hard Road to Hoe

FEBRUARY 18TH, 1865:  Upon orders to evacuate Charleston, Commodore John R. Tucker scuttled the ironclads Palmetto State, Charleston and Chicora, took charge of the remaining sailors in the area, and set out by train for Wilmington to join the naval detachment that had previously proceeded there under Lieutenant Rochelle.

Tucker's detachment got as far as  Whiteville, about 50 miles west of Wilmington, where he learned that Union troops had cut the rail line between the two cities and that the evacuation of Wilmington was imminent.

After unsuccessfully trying to obtain rail transportation for his detachment, which he pointed out was "unused to marching,"  Tucker set out across country on a 125 mile march to Fayetteville, North Carolina.

--Old B-R'er

Feb. 16-17-- Part 2: "Old Bogey" Scares Confederates at Fort Anderson

Unable to acquire other monitors for the reduction of Fort Anderson, Porter resorted to subterfuge as he had on the Mississippi River in February 1863.  He improvised a bogus monitor from a scow, timber and canvas.

The "Old Bogey", as she was quickly nicknamed by the sailors, had been towed to the head of the Fort Anderson bombardment line, where she succeeded in drawing heavy fire from the defending Southerners.

--Old B-Runner

Monday, February 17, 2020

Wilmington in the Secession Crisis-- Part 2: "Great Popular Excitement and Enthusiasm"

After the war, the widowed wife of Confederate Colonel William Parsley, Eliza Hall Nutt Parsley, recalled:  "In 1861, when amid great popular excitement and enthusiasm, South Carolina seceded from the Union, the people of Wilmington were deeply stirred by conflicting emotions.

"Meetings were held and speakers for and against secession swayed the multitudes which attended them.  A prominent secessionist was attorney Oliver P. Meares.

Her husband, William M. Parsley, had been among the men who seized Fort Caswell during the Star of the West crisis in January 1861.  Then in April, was elected captain of the Cape Fear Riflemen.

Cape Fear historian James Sprunt wrote that Meares "was an ardent secessionist and a fiery speaker, and the younger element were carried away by his eloquence."  When North Carolina seceded, he was among those who occupied Fort Caswell.

Both men later served as officers in the Confederate Army.

--Old B-R'er

Wilmington (NC) in the Secession Crisis, 1861 Tonight at the History Center in Carolina Beach, NC-- Part 1

From the Federal Point Historic Preservation Society.

The society will be holding its monthly meeting tonight at the Federal Point History Center at 1121-A North Lake Park Boulevard, adjacent to the Carolina Beach Town Hall.  (That is right off US Highway 421.)

The meeting starts at 7:30 pm and this month the guest speaker is Bernhard Thuersam and the topic will be "The Secession Crisis in Wilmington, 1860-1861."

It will focus on local people, viewpoints and events leading up to North Carolina's reluctant removal from the United States. A fundamental point to be examined is prominent North Carolina Whig and Unionist Jonathan Worth's assertion that his state was "forced out of the Union."

Early news of the Star of the West relief expedition in early January 1861 of Fort Sumter by President James Buchanan startled Wilmingtonians who feared Forts Caswell and Johnston would be seized by federal forces.  This would be a repeat of the British occupying Smithville (Southport today)  and thus sealing the Cape Fear River off from commerce.

Prominent Wilmington citizens of Wilmington acted immediately and seized the forts, only to have to relinquish then as the state had not yet seceded.  Of interest, Fort Johnston was surrendered to the Wilmington citizens by U.S. Ordnance Sgt. James Reilly who later in the war, as a Confederate major, surrendered Fort Fisher after the woundings of Col. Lamb and General Whiting.

I'd Sure Like to be There.  --Old B-Runner

Sunday, February 16, 2020

February 16-17, 1865-- Part 1: The Attack on Fort Anderson Begins

FEBRUARY 16TH-17TH, 1865:  As the combined operation to capture Wilmington got underway, ships of Rear Admiral Porter helped to ferry troops of General Schofield's two divisions from Fort Fisher to Smithville (now Southport), on the west bank of the Cape Fear River.

Fort Anderson, the initial objective for the two commanders,lay on the west bank mid-way between the mouth of the river and Wilmington.

On the morning of the 17th,  Major general Jacob D. Cox led 8,000 troops north from Smithville.

In support of the advance, the monitor USS Montauk, Lieutenant Commander Edward E. Stone, and four gunboats heavily bombarded Fort Anderson and successfully silenced its twelve guns.

--Old B-Runner

Friday, February 14, 2020

155th Anniversary of the Battle of Fort Anderson This Weekend

From the February 13, 2020, Burlington (NC) Times News  ""Cape Fear Unearthed:  The Bombardment of Fort Anderson" by Hunter Ingram.

There will be a two-day living history event from 10 am to 3 pm, Saturday and Sunday, February 15-16.  It will be held at the site along the Cape Fear River on the west bank.

It will feature artillery firings,  and infantry demonstrations.  Lectures will be given by historians as well as  medical and embalming  interpretations as well as an expanded torpedo demonstration.

The fort's recently installed 32-pounder cannon will also be fired for the first time.

It is free for both daytime events.

On Saturday, the site will reopen for a nighttime  bombardment event called "Plunging Shot and Screaming Shells."   This will reenact the final hours of Fort Anderson with a heavy artillery duel, the first in North Carolina since 1865.

Tickets to the nighttime event are $10 or $15 at the door.

--Old B-R'er

The USS Vanderbilt and Abraham Lincoln

From the February 12, 2020, Portsmouth Press "As we remember the birthday of Abraham Lincoln, we'd like to share a story about...."

This is about Lincoln's collaborations with Cornelius Vanderbilt.

When the Civil War began in 1861, Vanderbilt attempted to donate his largest steamship, the Vanderbilt, to the Union Navy.  But, Secretary Gideon Welles refused it, thinking its operation and maintenance  too expensive for what he thought would be a short war.

Vanderbilt had little choice but to lease it to the War Department, at prices set by war brokers.

When the Confederate ironclad CSS Virginia wrought havoc on the Union Navy at Hampton Roads, Virginia, Secretary of War Edwin Stanton and Abraham Lincoln called on Vanderbilt for help.  This time, Vanderbilt  succeeded in donating his ship, the Vanderbilt, to the Union Navy.

He even had it equipped with a ram and had a carefully chosen group of officers on it.  It helped the situation in Virginia, and afterwards was converted into a cruiser and hunted for Confederate commerce raiders (it was one of the fastest ships of the time).

For donating his ship, Vanderbilt was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal.

Thanks Cornelius.  --Old B-Runner

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Feb. 13, 1865-- Part 2: Confederate Naval Detachment Evacuates Charleston for Wilmington's Defense

Since Charleston was to be evacuated and the naval squadron there scuttled, there was no need for the crews  anymore.  Commodore John R. Tucker detached 300 men and officers from the CSS Chicora, Palmettos State and Charleston, as well as men from the Navy Yard.

They were placed under the command of Lieutenant  James H. Rochelle, to assist in the final defense of Wilmington.

The naval detachment was assigned to Major General Robert F. Hoke's division which held the defensive line across the peninsula between Fort Fisher and Wilmington.

--Old B-R'er

February 13, 1865-- Part 1: The Bleak Gets Darker in South Carolina: Charleston To Be Evacuated

FEBRUARY 13TH, 1865:  The end of the Confederacy was fast approaching by now.  General Sherman's on-rushing army approached the Congaree River in South Carolina.  The soldiers would cross it on the 14th, heading for Columbia.

With the fall of Columbia assured and with the supply route to Augusta, Georgia, already cut, General Hardee sped up his preparations to evacuate Charleston and to take troops he took with him from Savannah to North Carolina where he planned to join Generals Joseph E. Johnston and Beauregard.

--Old B-Runner

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Feb. 12, 1865-- Part 2: Last Attempt Through Blockade at Charleston and Maffitt Later Runs Into Galveston

Only the Chicora, Master John Rains, Shipmaster, got through and became the last blockade runner to enter or leave Charleston prior to its evacuation during the night of 17-18 February.

Two and a half months later, the Owl, Commander Maffitt, slipped past 16 Federal cruisers and entered the harbor at Galveston.  After off-loading his cargo, Maffitt again evaded the blockaders and safely reached Havana on May 9, where, after coaling his ship, he continued to give Union ships the slip on his return voyage to Nassau and ultimately to Liverpool (which he reached July 14).

--Old B-R'er

February 12, 1865: Five Blockade Runners Plan to Run Into Charleston-- Part 1

FEBRUARY 12TH, 1865:  The blockade runners Carolina, Dream, Chicora, Chameleon and Owl, heavily laden with supplies desperately needed by General Lee's army, lay at anchor in Nassau harbor.    They had intended to run into Wilmington, but now knew that port was effectively closed.

During the day, the five captains, including Lieutenant John Wilkinson and Commander John Maffitt, held a conference and formulated plans for running the blockade in Charleston.  They figured that despite the long odds of success on this mission, that if all five attempted at about the same time, some might be able to get through.

After putting to sea that night,the five ships separated and stood on different courses for the South Carolina coast.

A Last Ditch Effort to Get Into the Confederacy.  --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

February 11, 1865: Attack On Half Moon Battery, NC

FEBRUARY 11TH, 1865:  The USS Keystone State, Aries, Montgomery, Howquah, Emma and Vicksburg engaged Half Moon battery, situated on the coastal flank of the Confederate defense line which crossed the Cape Fear Peninsula, six miles above Fort Fisher.

The bombardment contained General Hoke's division while General Schofield's troops moved up the beach and behind their rear.  Deteriorating weather, however, prevented the landing of pontoons, and Schofield withdrew his troops to the Fort Fisher lines.

Porter's gunboats also engaged the west bank batteries.

--Old B-Runner

Monday, February 10, 2020

February 10, 1865: Plans for Taking Fort Anderson-- Part 2

To the 16 gunboats operating in the Cape Fear River, Porter issued an operation plan for the attack on Fort Anderson that was to coincide with the naval bombardment of General Hoke's flanks and the launching of General Schofield's turning movement.

The gunboats were directed to make a bows-on approach to minimize the target presented to Southern gunners, while the Monitor USS Montauk, would lay down a covering fire from close in.  When the fort's fire slackened, the light hulled gunboats were to close in and drive the gunners from their positions with grapeshot and canister.

With the enemy's battery thus silenced, the fleet would shift to carefully aimed point fire to dismount the guns.  So swiftly had the build up of force been accomplished by sea that only two weeks after the meeting between Porter and General Grant aboard the USS Malvern, which shaped the Union strategy for taking Wilmington, an irresistible juggernaut was already being forged.

--Old B-R'er

February 10, 1865: Porter Sets Down Cape Fear River Operations for Push to Wilmington-- Part 1: Army-Navy Cooperation

FEBRUARY 10TH, 1865:  Rear Admiral Porter issued an operation plan for the move up the Cape Fear River toward Wilmington, North Carolina which revealed the high degree to which naval gunfire support doctrine had been developed during the Civil War:  "The object will be to get the gunboats in the rear of their intrenchments and cover the the advance of our troops.

"When our troops are coming up, the gunboats run close in and shell the enemy in front of them, so as to enable the troops to turn their flanks, if possible ....  As the army come up, your fire will have to be very rapid, taking care not to fire into our own men....  Put yourself in full communication with the general commanding on shore, and conform to all things to his wishes...."

--Old B-Runner

Saturday, February 8, 2020

February 8, 1865: Schofield's Corps Arriving at Fort Fisher

FEBRUARY 8TH, 1865:  The first troops of General Schofield's Twenty-Third Army Corps were landed at Fort Fisher.  By mid-month the entire Corps had moved by ocean-transport from Alexandria and Annapolis to North Carolina.  At the end of December, they had been in Tennessee.  Quite a remarkable logistical move.

The protection of the Federal Navy and mobility of water movement had allowed the redeployment of thousands of troops from Tennessee to the eastern theater for the final great struggles of the war.

Hard to Fight That.  --Old B-Runner

Friday, February 7, 2020

February 6, 1865: About a New Ironclad at Wilmington, N.C.

FEBRUARY 6TH, 1865:  Secretary Mallory wrote General Braxton Bragg at Wilmington, North Carolina that Chief Naval Constructor John L. Porter had advised him that a new Confederate vessel could be completed within 90 days.

Machinery for the ship was available at Columbus, Georgia, but Mallory sought assurance that Wilmington would be held long enough for the machinery to be transported and the ship built so that it could get into action.

On the 8th, Bragg replied:  "This place will be held so long as our means enable us.  There is no indication of any movement against it, and our means of defense are improving."

However, Rear Admiral Porter and General Grant had other plans; Wilmington would be evacuated exactly two weeks later.

That ship Mallory was talking about was most likely the CSS Wilmington, which was destroyed on the stocks with the fall of Wilmington.

--Old B-Runner

Thursday, February 6, 2020

February 5, 1865-- Part 2: Last Attempt Into Confederacy for the Chameleon "Was About to Perish at Last"

'As this was the last night during that moon, when the bar could be crossed during the dark hours, Wilkinson later wrote, "the course of the Chameleon was again, and for the last time, shaped for Nassau.

"As we turned away fro the land, our hearts sank within us, while the conviction  forced itself upon us, that the cause for which so much blood had been shed, so many miseries bravely endured, and so many sacrifices cheerfully made, was about to perish at last."

So Sad.  --Old B-R'er

February 5, 1865: The Chameleon Tries to Run the Blockade at Charleston, But Fails-- Part 1

FEBRUARY 5TH, 1865:  Blockade runner Chameleon (formerly CSS Tallahassee and CSS Olustee), Lieutenant Wilkinson, attempted to run through the blockade of Charleston (after its near capture running into the Cape Fear River in January) to deliver desperately needed by General Lee's troops, but was unsuccessful.

After his near capture at Wilmington on January 19, Wilkinson had returned to Nassau and had learned on January 30, that Charleston was still in Confederate hands.  He departed Nassau on February 1 and evaded the USS Vanderbilt after a lengthy chase.

But he found that Charleston's blockade had been augmented by so many ships from the Wilmington station that he could not get into the harbor while the tide was high.

--Old B-Runner

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

February 4-6, 1865: Cushing Leads Expedition to Little River, SC, and Shallotte Inlet, NC

FEBRUARY 4TH TO 6TH, 1865:  A boat expedition under Lieutenant Cushing, USS Monticello, proceeded up Little River, South Carolina, (on the SC-NC border) placing the small town of All Saints Parish under guard and capturing a number of Confederate soldiers.

On the 5th, Cushing destroyed some $15,000 worth of cotton.

The next day, he sent two boats under Acting Master Charles A. Pettit, to Shallotte Inlet, North Carolina, (oalso on the SC-NC border) where they surprised a small force of Confederates collecting provisions for the troops at Fort Anderson below Wilmington.

The Southerners reported that troops previously stationed at Shallotte Inlet had been ordered to Fort Anderson; there the Southerners hoped to stall the Army-Navy movement against Wilmington.

--Old B-R'er

Feb. 3, 1865-- Part 4: I Need Monitors More Than You Do

FEBRUARY 3RD, 1864:  In anticipation of the movement on Wilmington, Porter wrote Dahlgren requesting that the monitors he had dispatched to Charleston after the fall of Fort Fisher be returned for duty on the Cape Fear River.

Although each squadron commander wanted the sturdy ironclad warships to spearhead his own efforts, Dahlgren prevailed in his belief that his problem was the greater against the heavily fortified Charleston Harbor.

Thus Porter had to plan on the services of only the USS Montauk, the lone Monitor he had retained.  The other Monitors he had had with him for the attacks on Fort Fisher were the Canonicus, Mahopac, Saugus and Monadnock.  The ironclad USS New Ironsides was also there.

The Montauk arrived after the Second Battle of Fort Fisher.

--Old B-Runner

Monday, February 3, 2020

Feb. 3, 1865-- Part 3: Protecting Schofield's Troops on the Way to the Wilmington Attack

FEBRUARY 3RD, 1865:  From City Point, Virginia, General Grant requested the Navy to keep two or three vessels patrolling between Cape Henry and the Cape Fear River during the transit of General Schofield's XXIII Army Corps.

The Corps was embarking from Annapolis, Maryland, and Alexandria, Virginia, for North Carolina participate in the attack on Wilmington.

"It is barely possible,"  Grant wrote, "for one of the enemy;'s privateers to be met on that route and do us great injury."

Two steamers were stationed as requested to protect the troops transports.

--Old B-Runner

Feb. 3, 1865-- Part 2: Testing Confederate Fort Anderson Defending Wilmington

FEBRUARY 3RD, 1865:  This date, Porter, in the USS Shawmut, preparing for the campaign against Wilmington, engaged Fort Anderson up the Cape Fear River from Fort Fisher (and on the other side of it).

This was to test its defenses at the fort, located on the west bank of the river, guarding the approach to Wilmington, North Carolina.

--Old B-R'er

Feb. 3, 1865-- Part 1-- Plans to Take Wilmington

FEBRUARY 3, 1865:  To speed the collapse of the faltering Confederacy, another giant thrust gathered from the sea off Wilmington.  During the lull between the planned spring assault on Richmond when the road conditions improved, General Grant came down to confer with Rear Admiral Porter, his old Vicksburg partner.

Grant had spent several hours on board Porter's flagship Malvern on Janaury 28 where plans took shape for the push into North Carolina up the Cape Fear River as Sherman marched inland parallel to the coast.

When Grant returned to Virginia, he quickly dispatched General Schofield by sea with an army which, with the big guns of the fleet, would be large enough to push on to Wilmington.

--Old B-Runner

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Bruce Anderson, 142nd New York, Black Medal of Honor Recipient-- Part 2

From Wikipedia.

June 19, 1845-August 22, 1922

Black Army soldier who received a Medal of Honor for his action at the Second Battle of Fort Fisher.

He was born June 19, 1845, in Mexico City, but at the beginning of the Civil War was working as a farmer in the state of New York.  Enlisted for service in Schenectady, N.Y., on August 21, 1864, as a private in Company K, 142nd New York Volunteer Infantry.  

Anderson has the unusual, but not unique distinction of being a black man serving with a white regiment.

On January 15, 1865, he participated in the Union's second attack on Fort Fisher, North Carolina.  He and twelve other men answered the call for volunteers to advance ahead of the main attack and cut down the palisade which blocked their path.

--Old B-Runner

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Bruce Anderson, 142nd New York, Black Medal of Honor Recipient at Fort Fisher-- Part 1

Yesterday in my Saw the Elephant: Civil War blog, I was listing Blacks who were recipients of the Medal of Honor in the Civil War.  This grew out of the Richmond (Virginia) City Council looking into putting up a statue honoring 14 black Medal of Honor winners at the Battle of New Market Heights during the Petersburg Campaign.  I started this story in my Civil War II blog.

Richmond plans to put this monument up on that city's Monument Avenue which has statues of Confederates that they are trying to remove.

There is a monument in Wilmington, Delaware, honoring black Medal of Honor recipients and I was listing their names for the Army.  All of them, except Bruce Anderson,  were in United States Colored Troops (USCT) regiments.

It is not often that you find a black soldier serving with a white regiment such as the 142nd New  York Infantry.

And, of course, my main interest in the Civil War is anything dealing with Fort Fisher.

I will find out more information about him.

--Old B-Runner