Thursday, November 29, 2007

USS Wachusett and Commander Napoleon Collins

Let's file this under stuff I didn't know.

Remo, in his excellent Naval Warfare blog's Nov. 27th entry, wrote about the USS Wachusett and its commander Napoleon Collins who took her into a neutral harbor in order to cut out the Confederate raider Florida.

He had pictures and a lot more information, but, in a nutshell:

The steam screw USS Wachusett was commissioned March 3, 1862 and built by the Union Navy. It was 201 feet long and had a 34 foot beam with top speed of 11,5 knots. It carried 10 cannons from 2 11 inch rifles to a 12 pdr. It was named after Mount Wachusett in Massachusetts.

It joined the North Atlantic Blockade Squadron and gave support to the Union army during the Peninsular campaign and took park in the attack on Fort Darling, protecting the James River approach to Richmond.

In September, 1862, it became the flagship of the "Flying Squadron" whose job was to hunt down and destroy Confederate raiders.

On Oct. 4, 1864, it spotted the CSS Florida entering Bahia Harbor Brazil, and Commander Napoleon Collins took up station off shore. The Florida had already destroyed 33 Union merchant ships and Collins decided he would go into the harbor, despite Brazil's neutrality, and capture it.

This he did, ramming the Florida, towing it out, and coming under fire of a Brazilian fort. This action caused an international crisis. The US admitted Collins move had been illegal and agreed to return the Florida to Brazil. But, before, this could happen, the Florida was " mysteriously" rammed by a US Army transport and sank.

Collins was court-martialed for his role, but, with public opinion in his favor, Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles did not remove him from command and dismissed the findings. In 1874 , he was made Rear Admiral, but died the following year.

Now, This Has the Makings of a Great Movie. --Blockade-R

Auction News--Rare Guns and CSS Virginia's Flag?

It is always interesting to see what is available and the prices Civil war related items bring at the auction houses.

1. A big auction is coming up in Nashville, Tennessee this weekend, December 1st and 2nd.

It will feature a document signed by President Jefferson Davis appointing the US Navy's Naval Academy's former commander, Franklin P. Buchanon, to a captaincy in the CS Navy. His first command was the CSS Virginia and later he commanded the CSS Tennessee. He also was promoted to the rank of admiral.

Also to be auctioned is Bucahanon's battle-scarred Stars and Bars. There is no documentation, but its style dates from the early days of the war and it is probable that it flew over the CSS Virginia in those fateful battles. It covered his casket during Buchanon's funeral.

The flag is estimated to bring in between $65-85,000. The captaincy appointment is expected to go for $3-4,000.

I also recently came across a picture of the marker by "The Rest" in Talbot County, Md. This was the home of Admiral Franklin Buchanon.

2. An auction was recently held in Fairfield, Maine that brought in $11.2 million.

A Le Mat revolver, originally on the Confederate ironclad Atlanta, had a pre-sale estimate of between $50,000 to $100,000. It went for $166,750.

A Tarpley carbine, one of only 100 made, went for $80,000.

A Confederate Texas Dane revolver fetched $51,750.

A Walker Colt pistol, considered to be "The Holy Grail" for Colt collectors, that was used in the Mexican War, went for $483,000, a new world record.

Also, of interest, three of Annie Oakley's rifles were sold as well: Marlin for $253,000 which will be put on loan to the Cody Firearms Museum, another rifle for $184,000, a a lot of her stuff and another rifle for $207,000.

Some People Just Have Too Much Money. --B -Runner.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Lumbee Indians at Fort Fisher

In a Nov. 19th blog by Patrick Mead, I saw that Lumbee Indians were forced to help build Fort Fisher and worked under some extreme conditions.

He said that Lumbee Indians from Robeson County were seized and forced to work in labor camps building defenses for the Confederacy in North Carolina.

The Lumbees were classified as Native Americans. They intermixed with either English or Spanish colonists (and possibly even the people from the Lost Colony after they disappeared). They were considered to be even lower than slaves.

They were forced to work night and day at Federal Point.



The counterpart of the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) is the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil WarSUVCW), and outgrowth of the Grand Army of the Republic, the organization formed of Union veterans after the conclusion of the Civil War.

The SUVCW was created in 1881,

Currently, membership is 6,360 as compared to the SCV's 31,821.
We had the head of the local SUV camp attend our Lee-Jackson Dinner earlier this year.

I'm sure the SUV must be pleased that the GAR building in Aurora, Il., recently received $50,000 for preservation in the American Express Partners in Preservation contest. I know I voted for it.

Looks Like the South Finally Got the Numerical Superiority. --The Blockade-Runner

SCV News-- 31,824 members

Currently, the Sons of Confederate veterans consists of 31,824 members, of which 3,164 are Life Members, and 54 are Real Sons. A Real Son is one whose father was a member of Confederate forces during the war. A lot of these men were fathering children well into their 80s. And, with their pensions, more than a few young girls considered them a catch.


2008-- Concord, NC-- near Charlotte
2009-- Hot Springs, Arkansas
2010-- Anderson County, SC

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Abraham Lincoln Formalized Thanksgiving

Even though Abraham Lincoln is given credit for setting a formal date for Thanksgiving, actually, George Washington set a day of Thanksgiving back in 1789. However, it was not always celebrated on the same day and some years, not at all. Its observance was left up to each individual state.

On October 3, 1863, Lincoln formally adopted the date as being the last Thursday in November and that continued until 1942 when it was set as the fourth Thursday of November.

Of course, in 1863, the nation was deep in the middle of its worst trials and tribulations in its young history.

It is also that the idea of a presidential pardon for a turkey began with Abraham Lincoln when his son Tad pleaded that the bird's life be saved.

And, Now You Know the Rest of the Story. --The Blockade-Runner

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Some Good Civil War Websites/Blogs

Surfing the Internet, I found a two good sites.

One was the Civil War Message Board Portal which, since my main interest is the navies during the war, has a Civil War Navies Board. I'll have to check it out in more detail sometime.

Currently, on the Navies Board, they are looking for information on the civilian transport Mill Boy that, accompanied by the gunboat USS Cricket, carried four companies of Illinois infantry on a mission to burn Hopefield, Arkansas. There is also a thread started by the blogger on my second recommendation, concerning the private navy yard at Saffold, Georgia.

Another was the Civil War in Florida blog at This one is by author Dale Cox, whose new book, The Battle of Marianna, Fl, tops the Barnes & Noble top ten list for non-fiction Florida Civil War books. This September 27, 1864 marked the deepest penetration of Union forces into Florida during the war. I must admit, I'd never heard of it before.

You can find out more at He also has other interesting Florida Civil War information here.

Dale blogged about paying a visit to the site of the Saffold navy yard, in Saffold, Georgia, a few miles north of the Florida line. This is where the 141 foot, six gun Confederate ship Chattahoochee was built. It is privately owned now and fenced in, but the owners were nice enough to let him investigate the site.

Always Interested in This Stuff. --Blockade-Runner

Friday, November 16, 2007

Confederate Monument Vandalized

The massive Confederate monument on the grounds of Alabama's Sate Capitol in Montgomery was vandalized November 13th.

A person, or persons, climbed over a wrought iron fence and painted the faces and hands of the statues black.

At the base of the monument, the letters and numbers "N. T. 11 11 31" were painted. It is believed that this is in reference to Nat Turner who was executed on November 11, 1831, after leading a rebellion against the slave owners.

Associated Press "Alabama Capitol's Confederate monument defaced with black paint" by Desiree Hunter, Nov. 14th.

Even 142 Years After Its Conclusion, the War Goes On. --RoadDog

Thursday, November 15, 2007

SCV News

I belong to the Sons of Confederate Veterans, despite the fact that I live in Illinois (just a few miles from the Wisconsin border) quite a ways behind enemy lines so-to-speak. I belong to the Camp Douglas Memorial Camp which is named after the horrific prison camp located in Chicago, where over 6000 Confederate prisoners died during their incarceration. We felt this would be a way to honor their memory. To my knowledge, no other camp in the SCV is named after a prison.

The annual SCV Reunion will be in Charlotte, NC, July 16-19th of 2008. I hope to be attending since this is my home state. I can go from there and visit my family in Goldsboro. Maybe also catch some beach time down at Topsail Beach.

I'm also glad to see the SCV is going to reinstate the policy of giving compatriots a SCV logo sticker on renewal of membership.

Just Some SCV News. --BRunner

2008-- Bicentennial of Jefferson Davis' Birth

Next year will mark the bicentennial of the only president the Confederate States of America ever had, Jefferson Davis.

So far, two major events have been planned by the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

On June 3rd, Davis' postwar home, Beauvoir, in Biloxi, Ms, will have a grand reopening. It was heavily damaged by Hurricane Katrina, as it sits right on the beach.

On June 7th, a bicentennial celebration will be held at Davis' birth place in Kentucky.

This year, 2007, is the bicentennial of Robert E. Lee's birth.

In 2009 the nation will be observing the bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln's birth, and that will be a much larger one than for Lee or Davis.

And, don't forget, you Civil War buffs, the year 2011 will be the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the war.

I remember the centennial celebration as I was ten at the time. I was fairly-well hooked on the war by then, but this was the final blow, and I became a full-fledged fanatic.

Lots of Significant Anniversaries Comming Up These Days. --The Old Blockade-Runner

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Great Civil War Veterans Site

While looking to see what war the Battle of Sugar Loaf was in, it was in WWII at Okinawa and called the "Killing Ground," I came across a site from Hartford, Michigan. They have done extensive research on veterans from the town and county who have served in every war since the Revolution (they have two veterans from that war).

In some cases, there are pictures of the soldier, their grave, and all have some or all of their service record.

The Civil War section is divided into four areas alphabetically. And there are a lot of them.

You can find the site at: War Soldiers M-R htm

There was also a Sugar Loaf located several miles north of Fort Fisher where Confederate soldiers were held by General Bragg instead of coming to the aide of the fort. It is still there and has some of the best-preserved Confederate fortifications in the area.

I didn't think that url would work. You can search it at Hartford, Mi Civil War Soldiers

Monday, November 12, 2007

Lt. Peter M. Boehm, 15th NY Cavalry

From the yesterday's Peace and Freedom II blog:

John E. Carey, April 7, 2007

Carey took a 65 year-old Vietnamese woman who has only been in the US 6 months for a walk through Arlington National Cemetery. She was impressed by the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and JFK grave. He also showed her one of his favorites, the grave of Peter M. Boehm.

He enlisted in the 2nd US Cavalry in 1858 as a bugler. During the Civil War, he became 2nd Lt., Co. K, 15th NY Cavalry. Later, he became aide and bugler for General George Armstrong Custer.

He won the Medal of Honor at Dinwiddie Court House, Va., on March 31, 1865 for capturing Confederate colors.

He also served in the Indian Wars, but, fortunately for him, was not with Custer at the Little Big Horn. He died peacefully on June 4, 1914 and is buried in Section 2 beside his wife Ada Boehm.

An Interesting Life. --RoadDog

Got $80,000 to $120,000 Lying Around?

Here is a real bit of Civil War history up for auction. While Mary Chestnut was writing her famous diary, she also was amassing a photo book of cartes de visite of persons from that era.

This December 1st, this photo book will be auctioned off in Nashville, Tennessee. They are expecting from between $80,000 to $120,000 for it. A BIT out of my meager funding.

It contains 211 photos of Confederate generals, officers, and politicians, as well as Abraham Lincoln.

There is a story attached to the Lincoln carte de visite. I didn't find out if this happened during or after the war. She was showing it to a small boy, "who, upon seeing the photograph of Abraham Lincoln, took the album from her hand and 'placed the book on the floor and struck old Abe in the face with his fist.'"

There are signed photos of Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee as well as photos of Henry Clay, Edmund Ruffin (who fired the first shot), and three Confederate Naval officers: Capt. Francis J. Hartstene, Lt. John Randolph Hamilton, and Sidney S. Lee.

Too Expensive for Me. --B-Runner

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Some More on Lt. Benjamin H. Porter, USN

I continued researching and found out that his father, James Gurdon Porter, was a merchant, carriage-maker and a member of the original fire department in Skaneatelas, NY. He was born in 1808 and became quite prosperous before dying in 1855. Fortunately, he did not have to see his two sons die, but that had to have been hard on his mother.

There is a tablet on the church's east wall honoring both Benjamin and Stanley who were killed in the Civil War. Stanley was killed at the Second Battle of Bull Run or Second Manasses as it is called in the south. His body was never found.

Lt. Benjamin Porter was only 20 at the time of his death. Even with that, he was commander of the 12 gun USS Malvern, which served as Admiral David Dixon Porter's (no relation) flagship at the Battles of Fort Fisher. Lt. Porter volunteered to lead a detachment from the Malvern for the naval assault along the beach at the Fort Fisher salient.

He had just been released after being captured at Fort Sumter. He could have gone home to recover and rest, but volunteered to return to duty immediately.

A total of 35 Medals of Honor were awarded the sailors and marines in the attack on Fort Fisher.

More to Come. --Blockade-Runner

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Confederate States Marine Corps

While on the subject of the USMC, what about those Marines in gray?

I did a little research and found out that it was established by the Confederate Congress on March 16, 1861. A total of 46 officers and 944 enlisted men were authorized, but that total was never reached.

Commandant was Col. Lloyd J. Beall who was a former Army paymaster with no Marine experience.

Naturally, the CSMC was modeled after the USMC, but with a few exceptions. The uniforms were based on those of the British Royal Marines.

They were stationed at Mobile, Savannah, Charleston, and Wilmington among other places. They also manned batteries at Fort Fisher, Pensacola, Hilton Head, and Drewry's Bluff. Confederate Marines also participated in the captures of the USS Water Witch and USS Underwriter.

A fifty-man CSMC unit was at Fort Fisher and fought by bayonet from gun to gun until "all were killed or captured." They were with the CSN detachment at Battery Buchanan.

Oo-Rah!! Confederate States Marine Corps. --B-Runner

Happy 232nd Birthday USMC

On this date back in 1775, the Continental Congress authorized to establishment of the United States Marine Corps.

It was 85 years old at the outbreak of the Civil War with 1,768 officers and men. It reached its peak at 3,881 in February 1865.

Marines were at both battles of Fort Fisher, NC. They and a naval detachment also participated in the charge on the salient on January 15, 1865.

Oo-rah!! Fighting Leathernecks!! --Blockade-Runner

US Navy Lt. Benjamin H. Porter Killed at Fort Fisher

I came across a blog from St. James Episcopal Church in Skaneatelas, NY, which was about an 1888 plaque put up honoring the sons of the church who had given their lives during the Civil War. One of them was 20 year-old US Navy Lt. Benjamin H. Porter, 1845-1865, who was killed while leading sailors and marines at Fort Fisher on January 15, 1865.

He was the second son of James Gurdon Porter to be killed in the war. That had to be especially hard on the family.

There was also a Porter window in the church to honor the two sons who died. It was placed in storage in 1959 to make way for a doorway to the new parish hall. At some time after that, someone removed it and no one knows where it is today. If anyone knows its location they are supposed to contact the church.

I'll do some more research on Lt. Porter. Was he related to the naval leader of the Fort Fisher Expedition, Rear Admiral David Dixon Porter?

A Very Interesting Story. --Blockade-Runner

One Small Victory for the Flag

A student at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale saw a university employee with a Confederate flag on his shirt and found it to be offensive. He was a member of the student governing body and put forth a resolution asking that it be banned.

In his resolution, some of his whereasses:

Whereas: the Confederate flag is understood amongst most Americans to be a symbol for inequality, prejudice, and hate.

Whereas: the Confederate flag is used as a symbol for most white supremacist groups and organizations.

Whereas: Some view the Confederate flag as a symbol of terror and oppression.

The student body government put it to a vote this past Wednesday and it DID NOT PASS.

The Confederate flag has come under way too much attack of late. Quite often, it loses out and is removed. To me, it is the symbol of a country which wanted its independence from what it regarded as an oppressive country, just the same as thirteen former colonies did back in 1775.

I do agree that too many hate organizations do use the Confederate flag, but it is their right to do so.

The war has been over now for 142 years, but yet, it isn't.

Time to Stop the Attacks on the Flag. --Blockade-Runner

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Civil War Preservation Trust

I have been a member since 5-29-01 and need to reup my dues which were due in August. I shall do that.

There are over 70,000 members of the organization and it has succeeded in saving 23,500 acres of important Civil War sites that would otherwise be long gone to posterity. Through great effort, the Trust is usually able to turn every dollar donated into $2 to $6 through federal, state, local, and private matching funds. All of these are impressive numbers.

Since I was writing about events in Missouri earlier, the CWPT has saved a total of 304 acres in the state: Bryam's Ford- 40 acres, Fort Davidson/Pilot Knob- 41 acres, Newtonia- 11 acres, and Wilson's Creek-- 212 acres!!!

Great Organization Doing a Great Job. --BRunner

Missouri's Important Role in the Civil War

The Nov. 5th Voice of the Day, evidently out of Springfield, Mo. (a great Route 66 town, by the way), discussed Missouri's role in the Civil War. It was titled "Missouri was significant state during the Civil War" by Len Eagleburger, author of "The Fighting 10th" about the 10th Missouri Cavalry, US.

I didn't know that Missouri had the 3rd most engagements during the war, floowing Virginia and Tennessee. The state also sent more men to war in proportion to its size than any other state, 199,111, and they served on both sides.

The sesquicentennial of the Civil War is coming up in 2011. That'd be 150 years. The Missouri legislature has passed a bill to help sponsors on the Civil War Discovery Trail to put up interpretive panels in key spots throughout the state in order to draw attention to state's heritage in the war.

Currently. there is also a bill in both Federal houses called the Sesquicentennial Act. This will provide much-needed funding on the national level.

There are several Civil War groups in Springfield as well.

The Civil War Round Table of the Ozarks (I used to belong to the Chicago CW Round Table)
James H. McBride Camp of Sons of Confederate Veterans(I belong to the Camp Douglas Camp SCV)
Phelps Camp Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War
Mary Phelps Daughters of Union Veterans (I hadn't heard of this group before)
Wilson Creek National Battlefield Association

I'm a bit surprised there is no Daughters of the Confederacy there.

The SCV Camp is raising money to dedicate a memorial to General James H. McBride in his Texas County home.

The Civil War Preservation Trust, a national organization that I also belong to, well, as soon as I get my dues in), is having a regional conference in Springfield in early 2008.

Glad to Hear the Cause is Being Furthered in Springfield and Missouri. --B-Runner

Thursday, November 1, 2007

How I Got Bit by the Civil War Bug

I was born in North Carolina and still living there in 1958 when I was in second grade. We spent time every summer at Carolina Beach which is a short distance north of Fort Fisher.

At one time there were two big white columns near the Air Force Beach with the name Fort Fisher on them and a cannonball on top of each. I asked my dad what that was all about.

He explained that a war was fought a long time ago between the North and the South and this was a part of it.

I had studied the continents and knew about the states in school, so I told him that we must have been on the North's side because we lived in North Carolina and North America. He then had a really hard time explaining to me that we were on the South's side.

That got me to wanting to know more about it. One library book led to another, to another, to another, and so forth until I was totally hooked.

Probably a question I shouldn't have asked, but....

And Now You Know.... the Rest of the Story. --Blockade-Runner

More on Fort Fisher, NC

The National Park Service's American Battlefield Protection Program (ABPP) has placed the first Battle of Fort Fisher at Preservation Priority IV (Class C). I'm not really sure what that means, so will have to look it up somewhere. I would guess it is not a high priority, though.

It had a CWSAC Battle Summary showing that the December 1864 was a Confederate victory with a total of 320 casualties.

The 2008 Battlefield Project Grant can be presented to a non-profit or academic group and grants can range from $5000 to $75,000 with the average around $32,300. You have to file by January 8, 2008.

Save Those Battlefields. --Blockade-Runner

Another Fort Fisher

There was another Fort Fisher that I didn't know about. I came across it in another blog.

It was established at Waco Springs in Texas in 1837. It was near the present Waco Suspension Bridge in McLennan County by a former Indian village site.

It was questions about the Battle of Fort Fisher that got me interested in the Civil War was back when I was seven, back in 1958.

I'll have to see if I can find anything else about it.

Now, You Know Where this Addiction Began. --Blockade-Runner