Saturday, September 27, 2008

Name That Ship

Hurricane Ike uncovered the wreck of a ship that has caused a lot of controversy among folks as to just what its identity is. Originally, many believed it to be the wreck of the Civil War blockade-runner Monticello as its dimensions and location was similar. It was run aground June 26, 1862 by the USS Kanawha. However, woven steel cables and what appears to be asbestos tiles have been found on it and no Civil War vessel would have these.

Plus, the Monticello was a sailing vessel and this one appears to have been powered by an engine.

Then, it was thought to be the 134 foot Rachel, lost in 1933.

However, now there is the belief that it might be the rum runner Aurora which was captured at sea by the US Coast Guard carrying 1400 cases of premium liquor. It was being towed to Mobile, when it became separated, caught fire and grounded near Fort Morgan March 12, 1933. This ship was registered in British Honduras, now Belize.

Thanks Chris Eger for the update.

Mighty Dry Time Somewhere Thanks to the Coast Guard, --Old B-Runner

Monday, September 22, 2008

A Quick Look at the Alerts

I have quite a few Yahoo and Google Civil War Alerts.

A quick look at them from the road:

A New Zealand newspaper picked up the story about the mystery ship uncovered by Ike near Fort Morgan. I see they are still thinking it could be thw Confederate blockade runner Monticello and a few are still referring to it as a Confederate battleship. Sure would have been nice if the Confederacy had had battleships. A ship like the USS North Carolina would have made short work of the Union blockading fleets.

Another blog was about the USS Gettysburg which was a former blockade runner (or is that a battleship) that captured blockade runners off Wilmington and took part in both attacks on Fort Fisher. The blog entry was very short, but someone else made a long comment which provides you with all you could ever want to know about that ship as well as its service after the war.

Down Da Old Civil War Road. --Old B-Runner

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Fort Fisher Hermit Society

If you want to join this group which honors the Fort Fisher Hermit, you can for a small donation. This goes to a $5000 fund dedicated to the apprehension of Harriman's killers. They have a publication called "A Hermit's Guide to Health and Happiness." Since the organization was set up in 1993, over 600 members have joined.

Write to:
The Hermit Society
201 Harbour City Parkway
Indian Harbour Beach, Florida 32937

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Artifacts to Be Presented to Fort Fisher

The September 18th Wilmington (NC) Star-News reported that this morning, a ceremony was held at the fort in which personal effects of Major James Reilly were presented. Reilly surrendered the Fort Fisher to Union Captain E. Lewis Moore.

Dr. James Reilly Lee, a descendant of the major presented a sash, shako plume, and shoulder epaulets owned by his ancestor. If I recall, Reillys sword, with which he surrendered the fort is already on display. The sash and plume probably date back to Reilly's prewar service as an ordnance sergeant and surrendered Fort Johnston in Southport to Confederate forces near the before the war began. The epaulets appear to have been altered during his Confederate service.


Captain Moore's sword and a sword and spyglass belonging to Confederate Captain John Ramsay were also presented. The story has it that Ramsay loaned the spyglass to Robert E. Lee at the Battle of Antietam and Lee used it to watch the arrival of A.P. Hill.

Representatives of the Reilly and Moore families were present for questions.

Also, Jack Travis, author of "Men of God, Angels of Death: History of the Rowan Artillery" gave a talk and signed copies of his book. James Reilly commanded the Rowan Artillery as a captain until promoted to major September 7, 1863 and being transferred to Wilmington. Ramsay was then promoted to captain and command of the unit.

Reilly was captured at Fort Fisher and imprisoned at Fort Delaware. He returned to Wilmington and died at age 71, Nov. 7, 1894 and was buried at Oakdale Cemetery. While looking for Whiting's grave, I came across Reilly's grave.

Travis will also be giving a talk at the Rowan, NC Public Library this week, sponsored by the Robert F. Hoke Chapter 78 UDC. Reilly was an Irish catholic and veteran of the Seminole and Mexican wars.

Some More God Stuff at the Museum. Definitely Would Have Liked to Have Been There. --Old B-Runner

Ike Unearths Mystery Ship Near Fort Morgan, Alabama

It might be the blockade-runner (Hey, that's my Name) Monticello, but, maybe it isn't. The last time this much of the vessel was seen was after Hurricane Camille in 1969. Since then, at times parts have been visible off and on.

Author Jack Friend says that there have been many shipwrecks in this area in the past 500 years, so it might be the Monticello, but again, maybe not.

The schooner Monticello (I've also seen it called a sloop and the USA Today called it a battleship) was driven aground near the site on June 26, 1862, and burned by the Union Navy. There is charred wood near the beach level.

The location and description match. This ship is 150 feet long and 36 feet wide.

Sidney Schell says the Monticello left Havana on its way to Mobile when it was intercepted.

I also saw that it could be a ship called the Ivanhoe which has an iron hull, but this wreck is inside the Fort Morgan Historic Park.

Who Knows, Who Knows Quoth the Raven. --Old Blockade-Runner

Friday, September 19, 2008

McHenry County, Illinois, Preparing for Lincoln's 200th Birthday

Festivities are planned throughout 2009 in my home county. Scott Summers is writing a regular column "Thinking of Lincoln" at the county's website. See

The McHenry County Board is planning a special dinner at the Dole Mansion in Crystal Lake on Feb. 21st with authentic cuisine.


Well, actually he never visited here, but his political rival, Stephen A. Douglas, did. He gave a speech while campaigning for his first term in Congress at a tavern in McHenry while standing on a whiskey crate.

Accounts say he rode into town on a really big horse and looked ridiculous as "his legs were so short."

Also, James Wallace Coquillette enlisted in the 8th Illinois in 1864 and searched for John Wilkes Booth after the assassination.

Dr. Samuel R. Ward of Richmond, Illinois, witnessed the Gettysburg Address and was in Ford Theater that fateful night.

Lincoln DID NOT Sleep Here. --B-R'er

Thursday, September 18, 2008

ORN Report on Fort Fisher Naval Column Assault

M E Wolf sent me two reports from the Official Records Navy covering the naval column's assault on Fort Fisher. Private Thompson's name was mentioned in both.

Both were from Lt.-Cmdy Parker of the USS Minnesota, who commanded that ship's naval detachment in the attack.

The Minnesota contingent consisted of 190 naval personnel and 51 Marines (under command of Captain George Butler. Parker reported that "nearly all of our sailors were there (at the palisages) and some of our marines." The rest of the column had taken cover nearly a quarter mile away under the crest of the beach.

Parker continues that while reconnoituring through the palisades, he saw many Confederates on the parapets without weapons and waving their hats as if to surrender. Whereupon, he gave the order to advance and some did. Part way to the fort, he turned to see most "retreating on the run." With only about 60 remaining, they took cover by the palisades and waited until dark.

He asked for the promotions of two ensigns and an Acting Master's Mate and reported, "Corporal John Rannahan and Privates John Shivers and Henry Thompson all behaved bravely. They were the only marines I noticed at the front. Thompson got nearer to the fort than anyone from our ship by a few yards. They all remained there when the panic carried the mass away."

The Minnesota's losses were 5 seamen and 2 marines killed and 27 seamen and 6 marines wounded.

I have my questions about whether the Confederates were desirous of surrender.

Lots of Bravery in That Attack. --Old B-Runner

Private Thompson's Long Overdue Ceremony

I came across a blog where the author was at the ceremony and had an account of it and lots of pictures.

You can view it at Go to September 14th "A Day Fulfilled."

A ceremony was held where, 119 years after his death, Private Henry A. Thompson (AKA Rodderick P. Connelly), finally received his due for service and winning the Medal of Honor. The event was sponsored by the Marine Corps League and the headstone donated by Kennedy Roth Funeral Home with the names of Thompson and his family (who are also interred with him) inscribed.

A 21-gun salute was fired, placement of a wreath and renditions of the national Anthem, "God Bless America," and "The Marine Corps Hymn" sung.

The tombstone reads:

Henry A. Thompson
(AKA Roderick P. Connelly)
United States Marine Corps
Ships Company USS Minnesota
Medal of Honor
22 June 1865
For His Actions During
The Assault on Fort Fisher
South Carolina
15 January 1865

Marcella 1879
Catherine 1886
Mary A 1896

Donated by
The Kennedy Roth Funeral Home
A Dignity Memorial provider

Impressive, but Fort Fisher was in North Carolina.

At Long Last, Private Thompson Gets His Due. --B-R'er

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Civil War Graves in Washington No Longer Forgotten

KOMO News of Seattle and the Seattle Times reported on September 15th that a large number of forgotten Civil War veteran graves in Everett, Washington's Evergreen Cemetery had ceremonies honoring them.

Seven years ago, new general manager Jim Shipman took over and, while investigating an overgrown and forgotten northeast corner of the cemetery, realized that some of the markers were of Civil War vets and started counting. At first, he thought there were 25 to 30. That count now stands at 150 and he thinks he will find another 25.

In 2005, a 9-foot obelisk was dedicated and Saturday there was a 4th annual "Echoes of Blue and Gray" ceremony.

The Seattle Times said that there were speeches by the SUVCW, SCV, and UDC. The Boy Scouts now see to grave maintenance.

There are over 50,000 persons buried at Evergreen Cemetery which encompasses more than 100 acres.

In the late 19th century, a local GAR chapter set out to build a monument, but ran out of money after buying a small section of the cemetery on September 10, 1899 for burial of indigent veterans.

Glad to See Those Who Are Gone Are Not Forgotten. --B-R

Middle School Students Experience the Civil War

The September 13th Waukegan (Il) News Sun reported that students at Palambi Middle Schol in Lake Villa, Illinois, got some first-hand experience with the 1860s on the 12th, when their school had a Civil War Living History Day in conjunction with the 6th annual Lake Villa Civil War Days.

Re-enactors put on surgery displays and became Harriet Tubman, spy Pauline Cushman. Even President Abraham Lincoln and wife Mary were there as well.

Fifty students from the Prince of Peace School and 30 home-schoolers attended.

Friday night, they had a Civil War Ball at school, attended by 50 costumed 7th and 8th graders.

Seventh graders at the school study US History and have an optional trip to Washington, DC which includes colonial and Civil War sidetrips.

This is a great way to get young folk interested in history. Give this to them at school, and for those interested, there is the major show at the Lehman Mansion for the next two days. Too bad we had all that rain.

Hopefully, This Will Happen Again Next year. --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Private Henry A. Thompson, Medal of Honor Winner

I asked about him on the Civil War Talk forum and had two replies.

Border Ruffian said that there was a IIRCC Connelly who deserted from the US Army and then enlisted in the USMC and won a Medal of Honor. His family later petitioned the HQMC for a name change.

M E Wolf had the accounts of the attack from the ORN and both definitely put our man at the palisades during the January 15th Naval Column attack on Fort Fisher.

I'll have to look into the IIRCC Connolly story and thanks E M Wolf.

Interesting Story. --Old B-R'er

Monday, September 15, 2008

Private Henry A. Thompson (aka Roderick P. Connelly)

An update on the Medal of Honor winner at Fort Fisher.

The September 15th New York Post reported that his grave is at Cavalry Cemetery in Queens, New York. It said that Private Henry A. Thompson was an immigrant who later changed his name to Roderick P. Connelly. A solemn ceremony was held at which he got a new granite tombstone and a 21-gun salute.

That helps explain the Connelly-Thompson question.

A Fort Fisher Hero Honored. --B-R'er

It Was a Real Mud March

Tenting Tonight on the Old Quagmire.

Saturday, I went over to the annual Lake Villa, Illinois, Civil War encampment at the Lehman Mansion to man the Sons of Confederate Veterans table. I figured there would be problems as it rained all day Friday and was continuing. We set records for rainfall in the Chicagoland this past weekend.

Upon arrival at the grounds, I saw a sign saying "Closed to the Public" and a cop also told me it was closed, but he let me proceed when I told him I was with the SCV. After parking in a gravel area (believe me, you wouldn't want to in the grass, you'd never get out) I walked along the paved driveway through the treed area back to the mansion.

The first thing I saw was a group of Confederates breaking camp and putting some dripping rolled up rugs into a van. Then, I saw Custer trying to extricate his boots from a wet area. Next, a group of Union soldiers were pushing a cannon through "the mud and the blood and the beer." Even Abe was heading off the grounds in a Ford Explorer (you'd think he'd at least be driving a Lincoln).

I never was able to find the SCV tent even though I walked, excuse me, slogged, over a lot of the area. The patch by the sutlers was particularly wet. Not much was sold that day. I saw one food vendor eating an ear of corn and remarked to him that he was eating his profits. he said it was the last one and shrugged.

I'm not sure about Sunday, but it was probably canceled as well since it continued to rain the whole time.

Certainly Not a Good Day for man Nor Beast. --B-R

Another Medal of Honor Winner's Grave Marked

I came across a blog entry by Elektratig from New York who had seen an article in the September 13th New York Post about a ceremony to be held Sunday at the previously unmarked grave of Roderick Connelly in a Queens cemetery.

He was born in England in 1841 and signed up with the Marines in 1863 and won his Medal of Honor on January 15, 1865, at the battle of Fort Fisher, North Carolina.

After the war, he lived at 332 E. 22nd street and worked as a varnisher before dying in 1889.

A researcher from the Midwest came across this oversight and notified the New York Department of the Marine Corps League who were instrumental in marking the grave.

A personmade a comment to the Post article saying that they couldn't find his name listed among the Marine Medal of Honor winners in the Civil War, but did find a Henry A. Thompson (aka Roderick Connelly).

Way Overdue, But At Last. --Old B-Runner

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Some More on Oscar Slagle's Medal of Honor

As reported yesterday, Oscar Slagle finally got his deserved recognition for his heroic deed last month.

However, I was not able to find much of the particular action at Elk Creek, Tennessee, so more research was necessary.

Besides Mr. Slagle, seven other members of the 104th Illinois received Medals of Honor that day: Richard Gage, Douglas Hapeman, Lemuel F. Holland, George L. Houghton, Sergeant George Marsh, John Shapland, and Ruben S. Smalley. Perhaps they all received the medal in 1895, as did Slagle.


I am a big Route 66 enthusiast and while looking at this list, came across burials of Medal of Honor winners in Illinois. Mr. Slagle's grave is near Route 66.

Others along the Mother Road, not just the Civil War:

Chenoa-- Edward Pike
Chicago-- 17 men
Collinsville-- Ninevah McKeen
Darien-- 3 men
Dwight-- Henry Fox
Elwwood-- Henry Fox
Springfield-- 3 men
And It Goes On. --Old B-Runner

Friday, September 12, 2008

Civil War Medal of Honor Winner Recognized in Illinois

The August 23rd Bloomington-Normal Pantagraph had an article about Oscar Slagle getting recognition at his grave of the fact that he was a recipient of the nation's highest honor.

Doris Lowe knew her grandfather fought in the Civil War, but not much beyond that. When her mother died in 1985, she received a trunk and it it found two letters and a Congressional Medal of Honor for her grandfather.

Oscar Slagle was born in Ohio and joined the Union Army's 104th Illinois, Co. D at Manlius in 1862. He received the Medal of Honor in 1897 for an event taking place July 2, 1863. While the Battle of Gettysburg was raging to the east, Union forces found a Confederate fort built along Elk River, Tennessee. The commander asked for volunteers to attack it and 11 members of the 104th quickly stepped forward for what seemed to be a suicide assault across a field. They accomplished their task and seven received Medals of Honor. The other 4 didn't because they couldn't be identified.

A ceremony was held August 23rd at the cemetery and a plaque placed at the grave. Members of the 104th Illinois Re-enactors took part.

Broughton Township Cemetery is located along Livingston County Road 2400 North, two miles east of 3300 East Road.

Glad to See Slagle Get His Due. --Old B-Runner

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Stuffed Horse

While doing research on the Zero Mile Marker in Washington, DC, I came across this interesting bit on information.

It's Rienzi, Union General Phil Sheridan's magnificent steed who made a 12 mile gallop back to Winchester to save that battle for the North back in 1864. His tremendous strength and endurance made it possible. During the war, Rienzi was in atotal of 19 battles.

After his death, he was stuffedand put on display at the US First Army Museum in New York City. After it burned in 1922, Rienzi was saved and moved to the Smithsonian in DC under full military escort.

Now, That's a Horse of a Different Color, Indeed. --Blockade-R

Union Soldier gets Correct Gravestone

Imagine being a Union soldier, but being incorrectly identified as a Confederate for 145 years. Thus was the plight of Private Jacob Pfeiffer of New York. Not only that, but he was misidentified as Confederate Private George Piper.

The August 10th Raleigh News & Observer reports that this situation has been cleared up as a new marker was put at Pfeiffer's grave.

Private Pfeiffer grew up on a farm in Manhattan (farm on Manhattan?) and was killed at the Battle of Gettysburg and believed to be a Confederate soldier for all these years until Civil War historian Charles Purser of Raleigh discovered his true identity. Purser has written a book about the cemetery's Confederate dead called "A Story behind Every Stone."

A New York historian helped with the identification and Purser says he couldn't have accomplished this without a lot of help from the internet.

You can see the names Piper and Pfeiffer might have been confused in the not-too-specific efforts to determine bodies back in the Civil War.

Perhaps Purser is the Unknown Midnight Creeper Who Decorates the Grave of Raleigh's Last Confederate Defender Every Year. --B-R'er

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Really Long Hunley Law Suit Dismissed

Senior US District Judge Sol Blatt has formally dismissed the lawsuit between Lee Spence and Clive Cussler as to whom the credit for "discovering" the Confederate submarine goes to. That means that Cussler gets it. This ends one of the area's longest-running lawsuits.

A key point in the case was that the Hunley was under five feet of accumulated debris and a study by Coastal Carolina University concluded that it had been sovered since the end of the 19th century..

The Hunley was brought to the surface in 2000 and is currently undergoing restoration at the Warren Lasch Conservation Center in North Charleston, SC.

Let's Get On With It. --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Running the Blockade: -- Beavoir Hurricane Report-- Gettysburg Witness Tree Damaged-- Stealing Cannons

Running the Blockade: Some New News About an Old War.

1. BEAVOIR HURRICANE REPORT-- Gustav was not as bad as Katrina. Reports say that six trees are down and the storm surge was up to US-90 in front of it. A security guard is outside and extra help is hired at night. It had just reopened back in June.

2. GETTYSBURG WITNESS TREE DAMAGED-- and perhaps is beyond saving. This honey locust stood just 150 feet from where Lincoln gave his Gettysburg Address and is one of the few remaining witness trees in the park. Between 70 and 80% of the top is broken off and it is doubtful that it can be saved.

3. STEALING CANNONS-- someone stole a miniature reproduction Civil War cannon from a park near Fort Huger in northern Isle of Wight County, Virginia. These culprits also stole a historical sign. It was located on three pedestals behind a low brick wall and owned by the Lawnes Point development company that sells large-acreage lots in the area.

Gimme Back My Cannon. --Old B-Runner

Monday, September 8, 2008

Running the Blockade: Better Warn Your Contactor-- SCV Paying for Black Cemetery Marker

Running the Blockade. Some New News About an Old War.

1. WARN YOUR CONTRACTOR-- According to Bluefield, West Virginia's September 8th WHSV, construction workers at a home in Charles Town were more than a little surprised to find a live 10 pound Civil War shell in the wall.

The American Public University System recently bought the home and crews found the shell while repairing the siding and insulation.

It is believed that the shell was fired October 18, 1863 by Confederate General John Imboden's artillery when they shelled the Jefferson County Courthouse.

It was given to the Jefferson County Museum who will disarm it.

Sure Hope They're Careful.

2. SCV PAYING FOR BLACK CEMETERY MARKER-- As reported in the September 8th yankee Philip blog, the Stonewall Brigade Camp #1296 of the Sons of Confederate veterans has been raising money to eract a marker for the old Lexington, Virginia, free black cemetery. So far they have raised $760 and are still $590 they need to pay for the $1350 marker.

This new marker is for the cemetery of lexington's free blacks. The majority of burials were unmarked and no records were kept. The cemetery closed in 1880, and supposedly the remains were removed. In 1946, the site was subdivided and homes built.

You's Think Certain Organizations Might Put More of Their Effort Here Than in Attacking the Flag That So Many Died and Suffered For.

Civil War Re-enactment in Lake Villa

This weekend, I will be attending the Civil War Re-enactment out in Lake Villa, Illinois, and will be helping to man the Camp Douglas Sons of Comfederate veterans Camp booth.

This is one of the bigger ones in Illinois and will feature a skirmish out by the Illinois Highway 83 bridge. You just have to wonder what the people driving over that busy bridge think when the cannons go off, especially when they are unaware of what is going on.

Hope to See Y'all. --Old B-Runner

No 4th of July Here-- Battlefield Casualties

From the Civil War Daily Calendar. Big thanks to my sister-in-law for getting this for me. Reckon I'll have to buy one for myself next year.


After 1863, well 1862 probably, this southern town did not officially celebrate the nation's birthday until near the end of WW II in 1944. That would be Vicksburg, Mississippi, and the reason being that it fell to Union forces on July 4, 1863, the day after the end of the Battle of Gettysburg.

It ignored the holiday for the next 81 years!! Hey, get over it.


Second to disease as a cause of death were battlefield injuries which amounted to around 200,000. Even just removing the wounded from the battlefields was a problem. As late as 1862, there was no ambulance corps on either side. In August of that year, Union General George McClellan authorized the creation of an ambulance corps for the Army of the Potomac, and soon armies on both sides had them.

Dealing with the Masses of Wounded was Something the Armies had to Learn to Cope With. --B-R

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Confederate Boat Found-- Maybe

The May 19th Tampa tribune reports that at low tide in the Hillsborough River near Lowry Park, wooden beams are evident in what at first looks like an old dock, but it is the remains of an 80-100 foot ship.

Archaeologists are taking measurements and checking records. It fits what is expected to be a 19th century sloop.

During the Civil War, Union troops attacked and burned three blockade-runners in the Tampa area.

In 2007, divers from the Florida Aquarium discovered the wreck of the USS Narcissus which sank off Egmont Key after a boiler explosion June 3, 1866. It was an 82 foot Union tugboat that fought during the Civil War and was on her way to decommissioning. Twenty-nine crew members dies and were never found. It took part in the Battle of Mobile Bay.

The Hillsborough River ship might be recreated in diagrams or rebuilt as a full-scale replica. There are no plans to excavate or raise it, however.

Interesting Story. --B-R

Saturday, September 6, 2008

It's Nice to Be President

AP/Yahoo News reports that yesterday, President Bush visited Gettysburg Battlefield and got the grand tour as well as the chance to get a sneak preview of the new Museum and Visitors Center which has its grand opening on September 26th.

Regular folk like me have to shell out $55 to get a personal tour by an expert, but the presidnt got his for free from Gabor Boritt, a Lincoln scholar and director of the Civil War Institute at Gettysburg College.

Wonder If President Bush Also Visited Eisenhower's Home on the Outskirts of the Battlefield? --B-Runner

Friday, September 5, 2008

Just How many Confederate Widows Are Left?

The August 3rd Belleville (Il) News-Democrat had a column by Roger Schueter where a JW of Collinsville said that a friend had told him that there were still Confederate widows alive. Hedidn't believeit and there was a bet for a Cardinalsgame involved.

Schueter replied that ther was a handful left, perhaps more.

This is of special interest because of the death of Maudie Celia Hopkins a few weeks ago. Martha Boltz, public relations chairman of the United daughters of the Confederacy says ther are more remaining. When the media made a big deal about the death of supposed-last-Confederate widow, Albert Martin onMay 31, 2004, Maudie Hopkins came forward to say she had been married to a veteran.

Boltz says she knows of two more widows in Tennessee and one more, but they don't want to be "found" because of the huge age difference when they married.


Gertrude Janeway died January 17, 2003 in Blaine, tennessee at age 93 and is presumed to be the very last Union widow, but, again, there may be others.

She was 18 when she married 81 year-old John Janeway who died ten years later. She continued to live in their three roomlog cabin for 65 more years, collecting her husband's monthly $70 pension from the VA until she died.

Mighty Hard Times Make Young Girls Do Desperate Things. --Old B-Runner

General Alfred H. Terry

The War and Games Blog recently featured an entry on Union General Alfred H. Terry. the commander in charge of the capture of Fort Fisher.

After the Civil War, he was one of the very few volunteer generals to stay with the army and commanded the Department of the Dakota during the 1876 Sioux War and was criticized for Custer's defeat at the Little Big Horn,

He was born in Hartford, Connecticut and had a law background while serving as an officer in the local militia. Led a regiment at First Bull Run then recruited the 7th Connecticut regiment. Participated in the capture and occupation of Port Royal, SC, in November 1861 and distinguished self in the capture of Fort Pulaski, Georgia and was appointed garrison commander and promoted to the rank of volunteer brigadier general.

Later, he was involved in the operations against Charleston before transferring to Butler's Army of the James where he took part in the action at Drewry's Bluff. With all the sea coast experience, he was a natural selection for commander of the second assault on Fort Fisher, NC, after Butler's failure in the first one.

He received the thanks of Congress for Fort Fisher's capture and was promoted to brigadier general regular US Army.

After Wilmington was occupied, he operated with general John Schofield's Army of the Ohio in the march inland to link up with Sherman's Army at Goldsboro, NC.

Quite an Officer. --Old B-Runner

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Grand Traverse Cannon from the USS Sabine

Continuing with the last story, the SUV camp did not know much about the cannon until member Bill Stillman did some research and found out it was from the frigate USS Sabine, one of the last sailing vessels commissioned by the US Navy. It carried 49 cannons and a crew of 375.

It saw service during the Civil War until it became a training ship in 1864. It was decommissioned and scrapped in 1880.

In 1910, Michigan Senator William Alden Smith donated it to the county.


From wikipedia. The vessel was started in 1822, but not completed in the New York Navy Yard until 1855 and commissioned in 1858. It cruised to South America after the USS Water Witch was fired on by Paraguay. During the Civil War, it cruised along the east coast after participating in the relief of Fort Pickens, Florida.

The Water Witch was captured by Confederates during the war and has recently been located in Georgia. A full-size waterlevel replica of it is being built at the Civil War Naval Museum in Columbus, Georgia.

Keep Tracing That History. B-Runner

Cannon and Statue Plaque Dedicated in Grand Traverse, Michigan

The Grand Traverse Herald in Michigan reports that a Civil War naval cannon forged at West Point Foundry on August 23, 1858 and a statue of a Union soldier will have a plaque dedicated telling of their history by the Robert Finch Camp 14 Sons of Union veterans of the Civil War. They will also talk about the 1917 dedication of the cannon by the Grand Army of the Republic.

The Sons of Union veterans have 200 camps nationwide and the Robert Finch Camp was established in 1914, making it the oldest in the state.

The statue was dedicated on Decoration Day 1870 to honor the 171 volunteers from Grand Traverse, of whom 32 died.

Let's Keep Preserving Our Past. --Old B-Runner

Running the Blockade: 18th NC Battle Flag-- Tampa Flag Stays Up-- Kempshall Turning 100

Some New News About an Old War.

1. 18th NORTH CAROLINA BATTLE FLAG-- The June 18th Raleigh News & Observer reports that the North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh has bought the battle flag of the 18th NC Regiment, which has the notoriety of being the soldiers who shot Stonewall Jackson.

In 1992, a New Jersey College Professor sent a letter to the museum concerning it. The flag was captured the following day at the Battle of Chancellorsville.

2. TAMPA FLAG STAYS UP-- Tempers are getting short in the Tampa area as the huge Confederate battle flag has been flying every day for the past two weeks. It was raised August 24th to commemorate the death of an outspoken flag advocate. Plans are now to continue flying it.

Before this, it was only up for short periods of time.

3. KEMPSHALL TURNING 100-- Wayne Kempshall, the grandson of John Kempshall for whom the Sons of Confederate Veterans Camp 1534 is named, is turning 100 this September 12th. He is a charter member of the camp. Congratulations Mr. Kempshall.

Raising That Flag Sure Burns Some Folks. --Old B-Runner

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

SUVCW Honors Union Soldier

The May 24th Fremont (Ne) Tribune said that the local group of Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War had a service honoring a Union soldier.

The state department commander said that Memorial Day was started by the Grand Army of the Republic, the organization to which former Union servicemen belonged. Membership was restricted to those members who had sreved in the Army, Navy, Marines, or Revenue Cutter services during the war. This limited the existence of the group which ceased to exist in 1956.


In 1881, the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War was formed to carry on. Membership to this organization is open to any man who can prove direct ancestry. In recent years, associate members have been allowed.

There are five allied orders honoring the former Union soldiers: SUVCW, Ladfies of the Grand Army of the Republic. Women's Relief Corps, Auxilliary to the SUVCW, and Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War.

Membership qualifications are minimum age 14, and relative had to have served between April 12, 1961 and April 9, 1865 and had to have died in service or been honorably discharged.


The state had about 2000 veterans and artound 19,000 Union vetserans are buried in the state according to the National SUVCW Graves Registration Project. Members have walked 250 of nebraska's 950 cemeteries and put sites on GPS. They also determine the condition of the graves.

More than half of the 60 Nebraska SUVCW members are re-enactors as well, which makes ceremonies easier.

Keeping the Memory Alive. --B-R'er

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Yet Some More Turtle Info

The City Class ironclads cost $100,000 each and were flat-bottomed and very importantly, only drew six feet of water; very desirable for river cruising.

Each was 175 feet long and 51.5 feet wide and mounted 13 heavy guns and were seriously under-powered, but effective. Speed wasn't all that important on the rivers.

Of interest, of the 512 tons each weighed, 122 of it was from the 2.5 inches on iron covering the sides. I found no mention as to whether the top of the case mate was covered as well.

So, Now You Know. --B-Runner

They Were Called Pook's Turtles!!

I did a Yahoo search and found three sites that referred to them as Pook's Turtles. They did resemble turtles. So, I wasn't just dreaming it.

Some further information from the Vicksburg National Park visitors center. The "Turtles" looked so similar, they used color bands on the smokestacks to tell them apart.

Disposition of the vessels:

BARON DE KALB-- sunk after striking a Confederate torpedo (as mines were called) one mile below Yazoo City on July 13, 1863.

CAIRO-- sunk after striking Confederate torpedo in Yazoo River December 12, 1862. Raised December 12, 1964 ( on the anniversary of sinking).

CINCINNATI-- decommissioned and sold. Hull became wharfboat at Gallipolis, Ohio. Engines used in tug QUAKER.

LOUISVILLE-- decommissioned and sold

PITTSBURG-- Sold and abandoned in 1870

MOUND CITY-- decommissioned and broken up 1866

One of the heavier losses in the naval war occurred on board the Mound City when a shell pierced and exploded in the steam drum June 1862 and killed or injured 150 crewmembers.

A Pook in a Turtle or Is That a Turtle in a Pook. --Old B-Runner

Samuel Pook, Naval Architect

While doing some research on the role Cornelius Scranton Bushnell had with the USS Monitor, I came across the name of Samuel Pook who worked at Bushnell's shipyard in New Haven, Connecticut. That name was familiar so further looking found that he was the designer of the City Class on ironclads on the rivers in the western theatre.

These vessels were built by James Eads in Carondolet, Missouri, and Mound City, Illinois.

They were wooden-hulled with 2.5 inches of iron on the sides and built between August 1861 and January 1862.

They were the
St. Louis (later renamed Baron De Kalb)
Mound City Cincinnati

Sometimes referred to as Pook's Poodles, but I couldn't find any information on a name I seem to remember, Pook's Turtles.

Two of them , the Cairo and Baron De Kalb were sunk by torpedoes.

Funny-Looking, But Effective Ships. --B-Runner

Battle of White Hall, NC

The June 12th Mount Olive Tribune reported on the 8th annual reenactment of the 1862 Battle of White Hall which was hampered by temperatures in the 100s. That made it especially hard for the reenactors in their wool uniforms.

Perhaps, they would have been better off having it the actual date of the engagement, a few days before Christmas.


By John Cate, staff writer

The actual battle was little more than a skirmish when compared to the bigger battles. But,it was part of a Union effort to disrupt Lee's major supply line, the Wilmington and Weldon Railroad which had a major impact on operations of the eastern theatre of the war.

The city of Goldsborough,(as it was spelled back then, now Goldsboro), NC, was a major supply depot along the railroad and it was to this place that Union forces turned their attention.

On December 12, 1862, a Union force of 4,500 under command of Brigadier General John H. Foster left Union-held New Bern heading for Goldsborough.

On December 14th, they easily defeated a smaller Confederate force under Brigadier General Nathan Evans near Kinston causing them to fall back to the Neuse River.


Two days later, the forces encountered again at White Hall where Foster used part of his force to tie down Evans and marched with the rest to attack the railroad bridge at Goldsborough.

By Confederate accounts, the Battle of White Hall was a victory with 125 Union dead as opposed to Confederate losses of ten dead and 42 wounded out of 1,500 engaged.


Meanwhile, on the 17th, Foster attacked the bridge and defeatred the Confederates under brigadier General Thomas Clingman and captured it. They destroyed it as well as track, but Foster did not believe he was strong enough to capture Goldsborough so fell back to New Bern.

The railroad tracks and bridge were soon repaired and supplies again reaching Lee's army. Several other attempts were made at Goldsborough, but it remained in Confederate hands until March 23, 1865, when it surrenderedto Sherman's army on its march from South Carolina.

Mighty Hot in Them Wool Uniforms. --Old B-R'er

Monday, September 1, 2008

Finders Keepers-- Scouts at Cold Harbor in the 1950s

Bill Young had an interesting article about an experience he had back in the 1950s as a Boy Scout.

His troop went to a camp out on private land near the Cold Harbor Battlefield and were told that once the campsite was up and running, they could go looking for any relics they could find--and they would get to keep whatever they found.

The excited boys took off right away. One scout found a rusty Union canteen-- bull's eye type with seven rings on the side. The letters US could still be seen stamped on its neck.

The patrols found the remains of trenches and a piece of grapeshot just sitting there. The scoutmaster told them that they were loaded into cannons and fired liked a shotgun.

Another patrol found horseshoes near a marker saying that Union cavalry charged near the spot during the battle and were driven back with heavy loss. The four horseshoes were found by each other so the scouts believed it must have been from the same horse. They also found an iron stirrup near the same area.

Yet another scout had found a flat lump of lead with teeth marks. It was decided that someone bit down on it while their arm or leg was sawed off, hence the term "Bite the Bullet."

Now, Talk About a Better Way to Get Youth Interested in History. I'd have to Believe That All of Those Boys Developed a Keen Interest in History After That Trip. --Old B-R'er

Jefferson Davis Monument-- Some Interesting Facts

The July-August Confederate Veteran Magazine had an article about the Jefferson Davis Monument in Fairview, Kentucky.


It is regardedas the world's tallest unreinforced concrete structure and obelisk.
It is the world's third tallest obelisk behind the San Jacinto Monument outside of Houston, Texas and the Washington Monument. It is the fifth tallest monument in the US, behind the Arch in St. Louis and the Perry's Victory and International Peace Monument in Ohio.


GeneralSimon Bolivar suggested it at a reunion of Kentucky's Orphan Brigade in 1907. Construction began in 1917 and halted in 1918 due to rationing of building supplies during WW I. It resumed in 1922 and was completed in 1924 with a cost overrun of $125,000 from the original $75,000.

This past June, a two-day celebration was held at the site to mark Davis' 200th birthday. His great grandson Bertram Hayes-Davis gave a presentation.

Article by Cassie A. Barrow.

Now, That's One Tall Object. --Old B-Runner

Fort Fisher in the News

Two recent items concerning Fort Fisher, North Carolina.

1. Yesterday, a man drowned by the beach at Fort Fisher after he and a friend were caught in rip tides. The friend was saved.

2. BIKE PATH-- Plans are undreway for a possible bike/pedestrian path from the Snow's Cut bridge north of Carolina Beach, past the fort and on to the ferry and Rocks. Definitely something that is needed for Pleasure Island.

If You Plan to Do Some Swimming While Visiting the Fort, Be Very Careful. --Old B-R