Thursday, April 30, 2009

Unacceptable Behavior on Both Sides

In SARASOTA, FLORIDA, David Azeff, 18, and a friend were waving a Confederate flag from a pickup truck down main street. They parked and walked with it, shouting racial taunts, and a confrontation occurred with a black teenager who shot David.

There is a fear that there might be problems at Sarasota High School.

Waving the Confederate flag at blacks and especially racial taunting is never acceptable. It is actions like these that so solidify blacks against the flag. And, on that point, I agree with them. Flying the flag or having decals of it, or on a hat or tee shirt in reverance of the soldiers who fought for it is acceptable. People who don't like it should just look away or ignore it.

However, shooting the offender isn't acceptable either and takes the race issue to a whole new level.

Azeff and Friend's Actions Embarrass Me and Dishonor the Flag. --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Civil War on Roadtrip-- Cincinnati

While in Cincinnati to visit the American Sign Museum, we were too early, so Denny led the group across the river to Covington, Ky. where we had an excellent view of the city and the two new ballparks. The Reds had a game that day.

We were at a park by the impressive Roebling Bridge which was begun before the war began and whose completion was delayed. This was designed by John Roebling who later built the Brooklyn Bridge. This was the first bridge across the Ohio River at Cincinnati and it closely resembles the more famous Brooklyn Bridge.

There was a marker near the bridge about the September, 1862, feint of Confederate General Henry Heth against Cincinnati, then the sixth largest US city. The city's commander, Maj. General Lew Wallace hastily organized a defense consisting of 20,000 troops and 50,000 militia. The first black troops to serve, the Black Brigade was among the militia. An eight mile long defensive system of rifle pits and fortifications was constructed from Ludlow to Fort Thomas, Kentucky.

Heth decided the fortifications were too strong and withdrew.

A pontoon bridge was constructed and used by the Roebling Bridge's piers. Many returning Union veterans disembarked at Cincinnati on their way home.

A Road Cruise and Some History. --B-R

Monday, April 27, 2009

Civil War on Road Trip-- Indianapolis

This past weekend, I was on the road with the American Road Magazine Forum and saw the grave of President Benjamin Harrison in Indianapolis, Indiana's Crown Hill Cemetery.

Already, a successful lawyer, Harrison raised the 70th Indiana regiment for his friend,the governor of Indiana. He turned down its colonelcy claiming that he lacked military experience. Instead, he was commissioned a second lieutenant, but became colonel anyway.

He first saw the elephant at the Battle of Perryville, and was in the Atlanta Campaign, and the Battle of Nashville. He was promoted to brigadier general in March, 1865.

I was amazed at how small the monument was and his grave only has a simple marker.

I also saw the Indiana Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument in downtown Indianapolis. This 284 foot tall monument is some sort of impressive. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. The Colonel Eli Lilly Civil War Museum is located at the base. At one time, it was illegal for any building in the city to be taller than it.

A Hoosier Civil War Experience. --Old B-Runner

Thursday, April 23, 2009

USS Patapsco

The April 18th Old Salt Blog ran an article by WIS News about current diving going on at the wreck of the monitor USS Patapsco in Charleston Harbor. This is a continuing part of the efforts to map what they call the Civil War battlefield on the floor of the harbor.

This past Friday, the Charleston harbor battlefield Project continued dives between Fort Sumter and Morris island.

The Patapsco was sunk by a Confederate torpedo January 1865, and half the crew died. Twenty years later, the wreck was declared a navigation hazard and parts were salvaged and sailor remains were recovered and buried.

Diving around the wreck is seriously hampered by visibility which is just a few inches. Divers say the bow is the most intact part and is pointing toward Cummings Point on Morris Island. The stern points back into Charleston Harbor.

A sonogram found what appeared at first to be a ridge of sand through the wreck, but it turned out to be two sections of a dredge pipeline likely knocked loose during a storm. Divers will be back again in July.

South Carolina deputy underwater archaeologist James Spirak wants to record artifacts but not raise them.

Too bad the turret evidently is not there. It would be great is they could raise it like they did the Monitor.

Always Interested in Underwater Archaeology. --Old B-R

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

USS Calhoun

Another ship at the Battle of Butte La Rose with an interesting history. This ship saw service in both the Confederate and Union navies, but also the Union Army before a long career as the SS Calhoun after the war.

The Calhoun was built in New York City in 1851 as the Cuba. It became a Confederate privateer and blockade-runner and was captured by the 44 gun USS Colorado steam screw frigate off Southwest Pass, Louisiana 23 Jan 1862.

It joined the West Gulf Blockading Squadron 19 March 1862 and took part in the captures of 13 blockade-runners off the Passes of the Mississippi River. During its US naval career, it mounted two 32-pdrs and one 30 pdr. rifled gun. The USS Calhoun participated in the destruction of the first CSS Cotton and it is said a shell from the Calhoun turned the CSS Queen of the West into an inferno and ending its service. Less than a week later, it was at Butte La Rose.

It later took four more prizes off Ship Island, Mississippi and often shelled fortifications on shore.

The last two weeks in February, it flew the flag of Admiral David Farragut in Mobile Bay.

It was sold June 4, 1864 to the US Army and became the general Sedgwick for the remainder of the war, before becoming the SS Calhoun and leading a long career.

Is This The End? --Old B-Runner

Confederate Steamers J. A. Cotton

Evidently, there were two of these vessels, both made in Jeffersonville, Indiana. The first was launched a year after the second one.

The first J.A. Cotton was launched in 1861 and was clad at least partially in iron and mounted one 32-pdr sb and one 9-pdr rifle. It was destroyed by the USS Estrella January 14, 1863.

The second CSS J.A. Cotton was launched in 1860 for the New Orleans, Coast and La Fourche Transportation, Co. and named the Mary T (hence the name Marytie that I saw in one report). It was seized by the Confederate army in early 1963 and fitted with cotton bales for protection. Armament on board consisted of two 24-pdrs, two 12-pdrs, and one howitzer. It survived the engagement at Butte La Rose and surrendered at the end of the war.

The Battle to End All Battles. --Blockade-R

USS Estrella

One of the ships at the Battle of Butte La Rose, or Fort Burton or Butte a-la Rose, or whatever it's called, was the USS Estrella, a 438 ton steamer mounting one 30-pdr rifled gun, two 32-pdr guns, and two 24-pdr howitzers.

It was perfectly-suited for chasing blockade-runners or pounding shore installations. It was built in England and reportedly captured running the blockade. The Army used it before it was transferred to the Navy in late 1862. It participated in the engagement that ended with the first CSS J. A. Cotton being destroyed January 14, 1863. She engaged the second CSS J.A Cotton at Fort Burton in April 20, 1863.

It served as the flagship of the West Gulf Blockading Squadron for the first four months of 1865.

Will the Butte-a-la Rose Story Ever End?

Well, I came across even more Butte- a -la Rose information. I have gone from "Huh?" to probably America's foremost expert on the subject, or, "Have I?"

I came across two maps drawn by Union forces after the battle of what they called Fort Butte La Rose. They were done by J. G. Ohmann, sub-assistant to the US Coast Survey. One shows the fort itself, and the other showed vegetation, drainage, houses, fences, roads leading from the fort, positions of US steamers Clifton, Arizona, Calhoun, and Estrella, as well as those of the Confederate transport Anna and gunboat Marytie.

The fort appears to have mounted three cannons, was facing northeast to the Atchafalaya River and with a creek behind it. There was also a pond in the center of it. I read that 60 men and lots of supplies were captured when the fort surrendered.

I would think these maps, which appear to be quite precise should be enough of a source to help locate the remains of the fort.

I also found an 1863 Harper's Weekly sketch by H. Holtz showing the engagement at Butte La Rose in It shows the US steamers Estrella, Calhoun, Arizona, and Clifton engaging the CSS J.A. Cotton 20 April 1863.

This also has a nice view of the Confederate fort saying that it was captured later that day.

And the Story Goes On and On. And, I'm Not Finished Yet. --B-Runner

Running the Blockade: Delaware Grays-- Not Guilty-- Shot By Cops

Some new news about an old war.

1. DELAWARE GRAYS-- Delaware Online reports that the Delaware Grays SCV Camp 2068 in Seaford deserve a big congratulations. They are compiling information on 2,000 natives of Delaware who served in the Confederacy.

On Saturday, May 9th, there will be a "Delaware Confederate Heritage" ceremony at the Soldier's Monument on the grounds of the Marvel Museum in Georgetown. The monument recognizes the sacrifices of Delaware Confederates.

2. NOT GUILTY-- Confederate Civil War re-enactor Joshua Owen Silva has pleaded not guilty in the shooting of Union re-enactor Thomas Lord, Sr, who was shot in the right shoulder by a .45 calibre musket ball this past summer in Virginia.

3. SHOT BY COPS-- The April 17th Annapolis Capital reports that a Civil War re-enactor was shot April 17th by county police when he refused to put down his muzzle-loading rifle. He was 40 years old and name not released after being taken to the hospital. The police reported they felt their lives were in in danger.

What's With These Re-enactors? Shoot Shoot First and Ask Questions Later? --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

More on the Capture of Butte-a-la-Rose, Louisiana

Yesterday, I wrote about the April 20, 1863 capture of this town on the Atchafalaya River in naval history. I have never heard of it before, so did some research.

Two of the ships taking place in the action had interesting histories. The USS Clifton ran aground and was captured later that year on Sept. 8th at the Battle of Sabine Pass and became a Confederate gunboat. It later ran aground again and was burned to prevent capture.

The USS Arizona was a former merchant ship and later a blockade runner. On October 28, 1862, it was chased for six hours by the USS Montgomery while en route from Havana to Mobile. When boarded, the commander claimed he was heading for Matamoros, Mexico. The Montgomery's commander replied, tongue-in-cheek, "I do not take you for running the blockade, but for your damned poor navigation. Any man bound for Matamoros from Havana and coming within twelve miles of the Mobile light has no business to have a steamer.


Fort Burton was more of a battery than a fort and mounted two old siege guns. Four companies of troops attacked it. A Harold Schoeffler came across a 1914 map showing a former Confederate fort being a cemetery. Some metal detector fans believe they have found the fort. Others believe the river shifted and now covers it.

The Union victory here opened a passage for Union ships through Atchafalaya Bay to Atchafalaya River and connected the Gulf of Mexico with the Red and Mississippi rivers. It also led to the capture of Shreveport.

It seems surprising that this important of a place would have been defended so poorly. There sure isn't a lot of information on this engagement.

Stuff You Don't Know. --Old B-R

2009 Illinois Division SCV Convention-- Part 3

Illinnois Division Scholarship

Division commander Barr told us about the Illinois Division scholarship offered to graduating Illinois seniors. Information was sent out to all 960 public, private, and parochial high schools in the state.

Thirty-five applications were submitted and Ronnie Helkoner of Charleston, Illinois, won this year's scholarship, the third time it has been offered. This is a project that originated with Commander Barr, who also does the vast majority of the work on it.

A hat was passed and $205 raised from those assembled to be applied to next year's scholarship.

It was suggested that the winner of next year's scholarship should make an appearance at the division meeting next year.

Other News of the SCV

National is buying land behind the headquarters at Elm Springs, Tennessee. A new structure will be built on it to contain offices, but construction will wait until the economy improves. There is also the possibility that a chapel might be built. This new office building will free up space in the plantation house.

It was also reported that the Veterans Administration will no longer allowthe battle flag to be flown at national cemeteries.

The national organization has 29,000 members and is growing.

The Illinois Division has 162 members. In the past, the Division has funded three monuments to honor Confederate soldiers buried in the national cemeteries at Rock Island, Mound City, and, a few years ago at Camp Butler in Springfield.

More to Come.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Naval History-- This Date

April 20th. This date 1861, 1862, and 1863. From Civi;l War Interactive's "This Date in the War."

1861-- Saturday-- Gosport Navy Yard in Norfolk, Virginia abandoned. Ships burnt and sunk at moorings, including USS Merrimac. "She was to rise again, under different management and with a different name." Wonder what?

1862-- Sunday-- Forts Jackson and St. Phillip guarding the approaches to New Orleans. Operations against the obstructions at these forts by landing forces from the USS Itasca. Created a gap in the obstructions.

1863-- Monday-- Louisiana-- Navy squadron captures Butte-a-la-Rose on the Atchafalaya River and Confederate Fort Burton. A Union sailor wrote, "The fight was short, sharp and decisive. It was done after the style of 'Daddy Farragut."

1864-- Wednesday-- The CSS Albemarle had defeated two Union gunboats the day before. dooming the Union garrison at Plymouth, NC. Troops pf Gen. R. F. Hoke's troops capture 2800 prisoners and vast amounts of supplies.

A Day is a Day is a Day. --Old B-Runner

2008 Illinois Division SCV Convention-- Part 2

Next, the Charge of Lt. General Stephen D. Lee was read. This was given at the formation of the Sons of Confederate Veterans at the annual convention of the United Confederate Veterans in New Orleans, Louisiana, at their annual convention 26 April 1906. As their ranks were thinning with each passing year, it became necessary to pass the vindication along their heirs.

This is what the SCV is bound to uphold.

"To you, Sons of Confederate Veterans, we will commit the vindication of the Cause for which we fought. To your strength will be given the defense of the Confederate soldier's good name, the guardianship of his history, the emulation of his virtues, the perpetuation of those principles which he loved and which you love also, and those ideals which made him glorious and which you also cherish. Remember, it is your duty to see that the true history of the South is presented to future generations."

This was presented by Gayle F. Red in his usual fine style.

A labor charged and upheld by the Sons of Confederate Veterans even 103 years later.

More to Come. --B-R'er

Fort Anderson Gun Platform-- Part 2

Back on April 13th, I reported that an archaeological dig at Fort Anderson along the Cape Fear River south of Wilmington, NC, had revealed the remains of a long-lost gun platform. The April 9th Wilmington Star News had a follow-up article by Veronica Gonzalez.

It was found as part of a four-day dig at battery B of the fort and was conducted by students from UNC Wilmington and members of the Friends of Brunswick Town/Fort Anderson.

They discovered a section of blackened wood likely the result of a fire used in the late 1950s burn to clear the area of brush. The platform is a latticed structure with deep ruts, likely caused by the weight of the gun and carriage that was once on it.

The area was allowed to be overgrown after the war and until the Sprunt family gave the land to the state.

Always Great When Old History is Rediscovered. --Old B-R

Sunday, April 19, 2009

2009 Illinois Division SCV Convention-- Part 1

The Confederacy Comes to Lincoln's Hometown.

State Division Commander James Barr called the 16th Annual Sons of Confederate Veterans Illinois Convention at the Springfield, Illinois Hilton Hotel promptly at 10 AM, April 18th.

We were once again high up in the air, 23 floors above town with great views of the state capitol, downtown, and of the Lincoln Museum and Library a few blocks away. Something mighty satisfying about that.

Twenty-five SCV members were in attendance along with their guests, including two of our newest cadets, the sons of Division Chaplain, the Rev. Mark Woofington.

We were saddened in the absence of Adjutant/Treasurer Ed Briggs, who is very sick. This is about the first time we've not been honored with his presence.

After the invocation, Pledge of Allegiance and Salute to the Confederate Flag: "I salute the Confederate flag with affection, reverence, and the undying devotion to the cause for which it stands."

More to Come. Old B-R

Friday, April 17, 2009

Decatur Illinois' Civil War Generals-- Part 2


HERMANN LIEB-- born 1826 in Switzerland and was living in France by age 19. He came to the US in 1852 and settled in Decatur in 1856 and studied law.

In April 1861, he enlisted in Co. B, 8th Illinois and served three months. Upon re-enlistment he was chosen captain and in October 1862, promoted to major and to colonel in April 1863 where he commanded the US 5th heavy artillery (colored). He placed his life in great danger commanding black troops if captured.

He was at the Battle of Millikin's Bend, a Union supply depot near Vicksburg on June 7, 1863. He was breveted brigadier general March 1865.

GUSTAVUS SMITH-- born 1806 in Philadelphia. He learned carriage and wagon making and came to Decatur in 1837, then on to Springfield, back to Decatur and back to Springfield where he got married. He returned to Decatur and established a carriage manufacturing company at Main and Church streets which employed 20-30 workers. He did a lot of business with the south and lost money when he couldn't collect after the war broke out.

To Be Continued. --B-R

Decatur, Illinois' Civil War Generals

The March 22, 2008, Decatur (Il) Herald & Review had an article by Ron Ingram about the five Civil War generals hailing from the city. They were Isaac C. Push, Hermann Lieb, Gustavius Aldophus Smith (now there's two first name to go with the last), Jesse H. Moore, and Richard Oglesby.

Most people in town know of Oglesby who was also a three-time governor of Illinois and a close friend of Abraham Lincoln.

Local historian Dayle Irwin has spent years researching these men and she hopes to write a book.

Some of her research so far:

RICHARD OGLESBY-- volunteered within three hours of Governor Yates' call for troops. Appointed colonel of the 8th Illinois and held that post until April 1, 1862, when he was promoted to brigadier-general for his valiant service at Fort Donelson.

He received what was thought to be a mortal wound Oct. 3, 1862 near Corinth, Mississippi, but survived. Promoted to Major General Nov. 11, 1862.

ISAAC PUGH-- born in Kentucky in 1805 and came to Macon County in 1828. Fought in the Black Hawk War as a 2nd lieutenant. Discharged with a bullet hole in his hat brim and a captain's commission.

In the Mexican War, he was the captain of Co. C of the 4th Illinois Infantry. His company captured Mexican general and leader Santa Anna's carriage with cork leg and $25,000 in silver. The leg can now be seen at the Illinois State Military Museum in Springfield. At one time, it was displayed at county fairs for a dime a look.

Back in Decatur, he held various county government offices.

Enlisted for three months at the onset of the CivilWar as captain of Co. A, 8th Illinois. He returned to Decatur after the enlistment ended and raised the 41st regiment and became its colonel.

At Shiloh he got a bullet hole in the front and cape of his coat, but was not wounded. He fought at Corinth, Coldwater, and elsewhere in Mississippi and was promoted to brigadier general.

Pugh Elementary School was named for him. It was constructed in 1895 at 1255 N. Monroe, but was razed in 1970.

More Decatur Generals to Come. --Blockade-R

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Civil War in Bayport, Florida

An article from the March 27th St. Petersburg Times by Dan DeWitt.

From 1863 to 1865 there were at least five clashes between Union blockaders and blockade-runners in or near Bayport, Florida. Three blockade-runners were burned. A clash in April 1863 left one Confederate soldier killed and at least three wounded.

Not much was known about these actions until now.

Brooksville Mayor and former teacher John Tucker and the Hernando Post history group have been researching it and are planning to erect a marker for it.

As the war continued and more and more Confederate ports on the Gulf of Mexico were captured or effectively closed, Bayport's importance rose substantially.

A few weekends ago, the group hosted a Bayport Underwater Day where they informed the public about the town's role in the war.

More to Come. --B-Runner

Yellow Fever in Wilmington, NC-- Part 4

The July 26, 2007 Wilmington (NC) Star-News had an article about the Friends of Oakdale Cemetery in Wilmington holding a sculpture design contest to memorialize the victims of the 1862 yellow fever epidemic.

A plaque was erected in 2002 at the spot where 399 of the 654 victims were buried in what local legend says is mass graves because the people were dying so fast.

Oakdale's superintendent has surveyed that area and cemetery records to find their names. He found that three to four bodies were being buried here and at the height of the epidemic, as many as ten to fifteen. Even the cemetery's then-superintendent and his family died of it.

No one knows for sure where it came from, but the outbreak coincided with the arrival of the blockade-runner Kate from Nassau. The epidemic lasted from late September until the first frost in mid-October. There were 1,505 reported cases and 654 died, a 43% mortality rate.

Oakdale Cemetery was chartered Dec. 27, 1852 on 65 acres purchased for $1,100. There are now 165 acres.

With All Those Blockade-Runners Coming in From the Caribbean, Yellow Fever Was a Constant Threat. --B-R'er

Yellow Fever in Wilmington, NC-- Part 3

Noted historian J.C. Knowles has a column in the Topsail Advertiser that is always a good read. Awhile back, he had one on the yellow fever epidemic in Wilmington in 1962.

It his both Wilmington and Smithville, now called Southport.

In 1862, Robert Brown sailed to Nassau on board a blockade-runner, died of yellow fever and was buried. His clothing was returned to his father in Wilmington. Shortly after it arrived, several family members caught the disease and died. Locals thought it had come from the clothing as no one at the time thought it was transmitted from mosquitoes.

The November 3, 1862 Fayetteville (NC) Observer listed these people as dying at Wilmington in October:

12th-- John Stephens
18th-- William Cookman from Ireland, age 50
20th-- Agnes Houston, age 13
24th-- Thomas Cahoo, age 32
25th-- George Jaques, age 13
Joesph W. Clemmons

One Horrible Epidemic. And the Sad Thing Is That They Didn't Know What Was causing It. --Old B-Runner

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Library Book Returned 145 Years Later

Now here is a very interesting story. A book stolen from Washington College (now Washington and Lee University) in 1864 was returned to the school in February.

From the April 15th Blue Ridge Now and Washington Post.

Union soldier C. S. Gates evidently mistook Washington College's Leyburn Library for being a part of the Virginia Military Institute which the Army of West Virginia's General David Hunter had ordered to be pillaged and burned, and took the volume as a souvenir.

The book was the first volume of W.F.P. Napier's four-volume "History of the War in the Peninsula and in the South of France From the Year 1807 to the Year 1814." The library has volume two. But volumes three and four are still missing.

He inscribed the front with the following words: "This book was taken from the Military Institute at Lexington, Va. in June 1864 when General Hunter was on his Lynchburg Raid. The Institute was burned by order of Gen. Hunter. The remains of Gen. Stonewall Jackson rest in the cemetery at this place."

It was passed down through the Gates family for generations. Twenty years ago, it came into the possession of Mike Dau, of Lake Forest, Illinois, from the estate of Myron and Isabel Gates who had befriended them in college.

Dau said he'd been meaning to return it for years and was glad he finally got around to it. It is in good shape except for a loose binding. Dau is happy he didn't have to pay late fines on it.

Technical services director Laura Turner said, "We were astounded to get something back with the history that it has." Immediately after the war, a thousand stolen volumes were returned to Washington College (renamed Washington and Lee College, now University, after the death of Robert E. Lee who had became its president after the war.

As far as the missing two volumes, Turner said, "We'd love to have them back."

OK Folks, Start Checking Those Attics. Let's Reunite the Set. I Wonder What a Library Fine for 145 Years Would Be? Let's See, 5 cents a day, 365 days a year= $18.65, Times 145 = $2646.25. And Then There's Interest. Boy. --Old B-Runner

Charleston Harbor Civil War Artifacts Mapped

March 14th Charleston (SC) Post and Courier article by Brian Hicks.

A much overdue underwater survey of Civil War objects in and around Charleston Harbor took place back in April.

Off the batter, a magnetometer picked up a blip. What was it? a crab trap, long-lost anchor, or perhaps a frame torpedo, one of the major objectives of this search.

James Spirek, deputy state underwater archaeologist is the leader and is assisted by the South Carolina Institute for Archaeology and Anthropology are mapping the harbor with help from a $28,000 National Park Service grant.

Many of the sites have been known for years and have been excavated, plundered by treasure hunters and explored by divers. Much of the effort has been closely using an elaborate map of the harbor that Rear Admiral John A. Dahlgren, commander of the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron, had drawn up shortly after Charleston was captured in 1865.

March 14th, they were looking at the mouth of the Ashley River for frame torpedoes. It is known that frame torpedoes were located there, but no one knows what became of them. Perhaps, they are still there?

More to Come. --Old B-Runner

Yellow Fever in Wilmington, NC, 1862-- Part 2

The September 30, 1862 Richmond Daily Dispatch reported that there had been five deaths from Yellow fever on Friday in Wilmington, but no new cases had been reported up to noon Saturday.

Charleston had sent eight nurses to help and General Beuregard had sent Dr. Choppin, a physician on his staff to help as well.

There is also a 32-page pamphlet available "The Yellow Death: Wilmington and the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1862" by Jack F. Fryar.

With blockade-runners loading at Caribbean ports, it is not surprising that port cities were prime candidates for these outbreaks.

Yellow Fever Comes to Wilmington, NC, Fall 1862

Dennis Mitchell, a crewmember on the blockade-runner Kate died of Yellow fever August 17, 1862 while the vessel was in drydock for repairs at the foot of Market street. This set off an epidemic from which eventually 800 to 1000 died.

Some believed it stemmed from the Kate's crew drinking from a cistern.

The September 29th Wilmington paper asked if the fever had been purposefully introduced.

From term paper of Tammy L. Colson: "General Yellow Jack: Yellow fever in Wilmington, NC."

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Running the Blockade: Wragg's Life-- Water Witch Commissioned

Some New News About an Old War.

1. WRAGG'S LIFE-- There is a new book out "A Confederate Chronicle: The Life of a Civil War Survivor" by Pamela Chase Hain, University of Missouri Press.

It is about the life of Thomas L. Wragg who was in both the Confederate Army and Navy. Hain uses letters to paint his life. from a wealthy family, he left home at age 18 and joined the Army and was at the Battle of Bull Run. he joined the Navy in 1862 and trained on the CSS Georgia and later transferred to the CSS Atlanta and was on board when it was captured. he was sent to Fort Warren Prison in Boston Harbor.

Interesting story of a man who was in both branches of service and also was a prisoner of war.

2. WATER WITCH COMMISSIONED-- On April4th, the USS/CSS Water Witch II was christened at the National Civil War Naval Museum at Port Columbus, Georgia. More than 60 sea service re-enactors took part in the ceremony which was based on those from the 1860s.

Three years of construction have gone into the full-size replica, but it is not complete yet. The size of the ship along the road and uniqueness of it should draw lots of visitors. Job well done.

Now, You Know. --Old B-Runner

Fort Clifton, Virginia-- Protector of Richmond

The good folks at HMdb have done it again, and cataloged a marker at the remains of Fort Clifton outside of Petersburg, Virginia. It protected the Appomattox River approach to the beleaguered city.

On May 9, 1864, it was attacked by federal gunboats under the command of Major General Charles K. Graham (must have been army gunboats to be commanded by a general). Fire from the fort disabled the Samuel L. Brewster and the crew scuttled it. Between may and June 1864, it was attacked five times. The USS Commodore Perry bombarded the fort at the request of General Butler. The fort was evacuated April 2, 1865.

The marker is located in front of the Tussing Elementary School at the intersection of Conduit Road and Brockwell Lane.

The "Beast" Butler, Again. --Blockade-R

Monday, April 13, 2009

Gun Platform Found

Back on April 8th, I reported about the excavation at Fort Anderson, NC. I'm happy to tell you that archaeologists have discovered a 147 year old gun platform at Battery B, the excavation site. It was intended to support a 11, 350 pound Sea Coast 32 Pounder cannon.

This is the first major excavation to take place at the Brunswick Town/Fort Anderson site on the Cape Fear River south of Wilmington, NC, in 40 years. It was conducted under the direction of John J. Mintz of the NC Office of Archaeology. Many volunteers helped as well.

This is all part of an effort to recreate a gun emplacement at the fort for the upcoming 2001 sesquicentennial of the Civil War.

I read several accounts and have not been able to determine if the whole gun platform was found or just parts of it.

Good News from North Carolina. --B-R'er

Fort Fisher Hermit

For 17 years, Robert Harrill lived on the contributions from thousands of visitors and his death is till a mystery.

Common Sense Films of Wilmington, NC, has made a documentary film about his life called, "The Fort Fisher Hermit: The Life and Death of Robert Harrill" and has been nominated for a historical documentary.

Harrill first came to Fort Fisher in 1955, and by the late 60s, was North Carolina's second most popular tourist attraction.

One hundred thousand people visited him and were introduced to his School of Common Sense. He lived in an abandoned World War II Army ammunition bunker.

The documentary is narrated by Barry Corbin and premiered last year on UNC-TV and the NC PBS network.

The North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher has developed a program called "The Fort Fisher hermit's School of Common Sense" environmental education program. Those attending will watch the film, then given fishing gear to try their hand at living like a hermit,

There is a walking tour including a stop at the Hermit Bunker where two large information markers have recently been erected detailing Harrill's life.

I was fortunate to have met the Fort Fisher Hermit several times as a kid.

Perhaps the Hermit Was Right. --Old B-Runner

Friday, April 10, 2009

Want a Civil War Cannon?

Well, not a real one, but an identical fiberglass copy and, a WHOLE lot LIGHTER.

Great Guns Historical Cannons in Peoria, Illinois, will be happy to make one for you for a cost of between $3500 to $4000. It will be the tube only, which means the cannon barrel. You'll have to take care of the carriage yourself.

They have a website at

I went through it looking at Naval and seacoast cannons and found these among the ones they were offering. The price and length of the tube follow:

8 inch Columbiad, $3,697, 124"
32-pounder sea coast gun, $3,597
10-inch Rodman, $3,877, 137"
6.4-inch Parrot, $3,877
6.4-inch Brooke, $3,877, 142"

The Brooke originally weighed in at10,600 lbs, but the fiberglass reproduction at 160 pounds.

Worth a Look. --B-R'er

CSS Neuse Getting Lincoln's Gun

The CSS Nuese II in Kinston, NC, is getting a fiberglass 6.4 inch Brooke Rifle from a place in Peoria in Lincoln's home state of Illinois.

Master boat builder Alton Stapleford will be building a rotating gun carriage for it. The Neuse used rotating gun carriages to fire from several ports on the original vessel.

It will cost between $20,000 and $30,000 to get the gun and carriage.

Members of the CSS Neuse Foundation will be picking it up from Great Guns Historical Cannons in Peoria to save $300 of the shipping cost for the 160-pound replica which originally weighed 10,600 pounds.

That replica of the Neuse in downtown Kinston, close to where the original was sunk is quite impressive and gives people a good idea what a Confederate Civil War ironclad looked like.

A Yankee Gun in a Rebel Boat? Now I've Seen Everything. --Old B-Runner

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Trace Adkins' "Til the Last Shot's Fired"

Recorded the CMA show Sunday. As usual, a great show, but for me, the main moment came when Trace Adkins sang "Til the Last Shot's Fired." That just got me, big time. I had to watch it about five times. Just one of those songs that send shivers up your back.

A good part of the song is where he is a Confederate soldier who dies at the Battle of Nashville. At the show, he was introduced by USMC Lt. Andrew Kiner who lost both legs overseas with the words, "It is not about the war, it's about the warrior." He received several standing ovations.

Then, there stood Trace alone in front of the West Point Glee Club, with pictures flashing behind him. It was enough to bring a tear to your eye.

The words to part of the song:

"I was there in the winter of '64
When we camped in the eyes of Nashville's door
Three hundred miles our trail had led
We barely had time to bury our dead

When the Yankees charged and our colors fell,
Overton Hill was a living hell
When we called retreat it was almost dark
I died with a grape shot in my heart."

Then the glee club kicked in with the chorus.

"Say a prayer for peace for every fallen son,
Set my spirit free. let me lay down my gun,
Sweet Mother Mary, I'm so tired,
but I can't come home til the last shot's fired."

Then, he went on to sing about World War II, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq.

Trace Adkins wrote this song and it is on his album X (Ten). Well worth the purchase for this song alone.

I just wonder if some people will attack the song because of its reference to Confederate soldiers. Hopefully not.

That Was Quite a Moment. --Old B-Runner

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Fort Anderson, NC, Excavation

Amy Hotz in the March 29th Wilmington Star News reports that the first major excavations will be done at the Brunswick Town/Fort Anderson site on the west bank of the Cape Fear River from April 7th to 9th.

The public has been invited to watch and ask questions. In 1952, the Sprunt family (very famous in Cape Fear history) donated 114.5 acres of the site to the state and the Episcopal Church added another 4.5. State historian and archaeologist Stanley South did a lot of work at the site in the 50s and 60s. Foundations of colonial buildings and the earthworks remain.

The major emphasis will be on a gun emplacement in the Confederate fort where a 40 by 25 foot grid has been laid out. The Marine Corps has already done a sweep of the area and found no explosives or metal, always a good idea when digging around a battle site.

Three test holes dug back in September found brick and ballast stone probably from the colonial village that had been used by Confederates constructing the earthen fort. It is hoped that the system used for building Fort Anderson and the gun platform will be ascertained from the dig. There are big hopes that some remnants of the original gun platform will also be found.

This is also being done in preparation for the Civil War sesquicentennial (150th anniversary) which starts in 2011.

Hopin' They Find Something. --Blockade-R

Monday, April 6, 2009

Pretty Gory Stuff

From the March 21, 2008, Charleston (SC) Post and Courier.

"Civil War Letter details horrors of Bull Run" by Schuyler Kropf.

In a letter donated to the University of South Carolina, there was quite a description of the First Battle of Bull Run, called Manassas by the Confederates.

One passage mentions the wounded cries "to passersby to kill them torelieve their agony. If it pleases God, to stop this war, I will unfeignedly thank them."

It was critical of Confederate President Davis and military leaders. "Of the dead hideous in every form of ghastly death; heads off, arms off, abdomens protruding, every form of wound, sharp cries, convulsive agonies as the souls took flight."

This letter was part of 440 notes and Civil War documents that were part of legal proceedings between the owner and the state. The owner wants an auction while the state claims it still has ownership.

They were taken out of Columbia as Sherman's forces approached near the end of the war. They included three hand-written dispatches by General Lee.

Glad They Didn't Go Private. --Old B-Runner

General Louis Hebert, CSA

Came across a bit on this general from Louisiana who was at Fort Fisher.

Born 1820and died 1901. After Vicksburg, he commanded heavy artillery at Fort Fisher and was Chief Engineer of the Department of North Carolina. After the war, he was a newspaper editor and school teacher.

He was buried on private land, and, with the assistance of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, in October 2002, was disinterred and moved to St. Joseph's Cemetery in Cecilia, Louisiana.

There are nice photos of the reburial at

Interesting Burials at Baltimore's Green Mountain Cemetery

US Park Ranger John David Hoptak has a blog called the 48th Pennsylvania Infantry/Civil War Musings and recently took a trip to this cemetery and found many notable graves.

Among them, those of Confederate generals:

Joseph Eggleston Johnston
Isaac Ridgeway Trimble
George Hume "Maryland" Stewart
Arnold Elzey
Lewis Henry Little

Also in the cemetery, the grave of Samuel Arnold who did not participate in the conspiracy to kill Abraham Lincoln, but was in on the kidnapping plot. He was sentenced to life at Fort Jefferson in the Florida Keys along with Dr. Samuel Mudd and Edmond Spangler. Later, pardoned in 1869 and died in 1906. Someone has placed a Lincoln penny on his grave stone.

Things You Didn't Know. -- Old B-R

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Battery White to Be Preserved

The April 5th Georgetown (SC) Times reports good news that the remains of battery White will be protected and preserved from now on thanks to an agreement between the Belle Isle Yacht Club and South Carolina Preservation Trust signed this past Saturday during the 63rd annual plantation tour.

The fort/battery was built during the Civil War as protection of Winyah Bay and Georgetown.

The fort's features will be "retained and maintained in their current condition forever." Future development of the six-acre site will not be allowed. The local Daughters of the Confederacy and Sons of Confederate Veterans have been maintaining a park there.

A few years back, there was some worry about the yacht club's planned clubhouse, but it was built adjacent to the battery instead of in front of it which would have blocked a remarkable view of the bay and ocean.

You can learn more at

Of course, yacht club sounds a bit on the "private" side to me. Hopefully they will keep it open for us regular folk so we can see it.

Always Good to get This Kind of News.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Running the Blockade: Fort Fisher Cleanup-- Speakin' of Eatin'-- Confederate Naval Uniform Color-- Booth's Grave?

Some New News About an Old War.

1. FORT FISHER CLEANUP-- Volunteers, including the Boy Scouts will be out at the North Carolina fort today for the annual cleanup, sponsored by the Civil War Preservation trust (which I belong to) and the History Channel. Battlefields across the country will also be cleaned up.

Volunteers get a tee shirt, patch, lunch and drinks. Good cause.

2. SPEAKING OF EATIN'-- April 18th will not only be the annual convention of the Illinois Division Sons of Confederate Veterans, but also the 13th Annual Pleasure Island Chowder Cookoff in Carolina Beach, NC, (near Fort Fisher). A mere $5 gets you the right to vote and sample the offerings of eight local restaurants. Sounds like a bite to me.

3. CONFEDERATE NAVAL UNIFORM COLOR-- The Civil War Navy and Marine Forum has been having a discussion on what color Confederate sailors wore. The general consensus is that blue was the color even though regulations prescribed gray. Blue, gray, it's all the same to me. No, it isn't.

4. BOOTH'S GRAVE?-- John David Hoptak, park ranger at Antietam National Battlefield, in his 48th Pa. blog, went to Green Mount Cemetery in Baltimore, Maryland, and found the unmarked stone at the Junius Booth family plot that is believed to be the final resting place of John Wilkes Booth. Someone has placed three Lincoln pennies on it. Wonder why?

Now, You Know. --Old B-Runner

Guess I Ought Not to Admit to It

But, I will. Yesterday, while cruising down I-74 on our way home from 16 days and 3,700 miles in a lot of southern states (and southern parts of northern states: Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, and Ohio), we kept seeing signs for the Historic Sherman Hotel in Batesville, Indiana (near Cincinnati).

Due to a loss of electricity at the motel, we hadn't had breakfast, so decided to stop.

The place was built in 1852 and had many names, but at some point after the Civil War, its name became Sherman Hotel, named in honor of a certain Union general's exploits during the war (not exactly the place for an SCV member to eat). The restaurant was part of the original building and is done in German motiff.

Outstanding breakfast omelets and you've got to try the fried biscuits and apple butter.

We'll Be Back, Even With That Name!! --Old B-R'er

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Running the Blockade: Did My "Que" Thing-- Missed the Hunley, Again-- SC "Cue"

Some New News About an Old War.

1. DID MY "QUE" THING-- Yesterday, we stopped in that "Cradle of Que" called Lexington, North Carolina, and ate at the Barbecue Center, one of the best-known of the over twenty area bbq joints around Lexington, which bills itself as the "Barbecue Capital of the World."

Great stuff!! Pit-cooked pulled pork with a bit different flavor from my eastern Carolina stuff, but good nonetheless.

2. MISSED THE HUNLEY, AGAIN-- I see that this past weekend, the H. L. Hunley Mobile Exhibit was on view here around Charleston, WV, at the Putnam County Civil War Weekend. So, I didn't get to see the real thing OR the replica.

The flyer said it is a full-size replica of the Hunley built in 2004 by John Dangerfield and Holton Cutler and 15 volunteers.

3. SC "CUE"-- While in Charleston, we also had the opportunity to try some mustard-based South Carolina barbecue at Bessinger's. Great 'cue"as well, and in a unique place to eat it. Loved those onion rings as well.

Eatin' My Way Through History. --B-Runner

Didn't Do As Much Civil War Stuff As I Would Have Liked

I didn't get to see the H. L. Hunley or get out to Fort Sumter on the recent trip to Charleston, SC. But, I intend to get back.

We just didn't get going from Bluffton early enough Sunday to see the Hunley (which is only open on the weekends) and the weather wasn't cooperating on Monday or Tuesday. Miserable and rough weather isn't the best time to take a boat ride. I'd like to combine a Grayline Tour and Fort Sumter visit.

I guess you could say we took an inverse Sherman's March across South Carolina, starting in the northwest part of the state and proceeding to his destination of Columbia, south to Charleston (which he didn't attack) and then south to near Savannah.

Of course, OUR OBJECTS OF PILLAGE AND PLUNDER were NTN boxes, soft drinks, and alcoholic beverages. We had more fun.

Then, we spent a night at Folly Beach, SC, near Fort Wagner and the Swamp Angel.

Next Time. --B-R'er

A Day Too Late

The US House of Representatives and Senate have passed a law making it illegal to attack or slur the flags of the Confederacy. Said the Speaker of the House, "These flags represent the valor and sacrifice of Americans protecting their land and should not be viewed as symbols of long-gone institutions."

It, once signed by the president, will mean that groups or individuals will no longer be able to bring up the "S" word in connection to these flags.

Also, hate groups will no longer be able to use any visage of the flags without permission of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. The national commander of the organization says this will never happen. Groups or individuals flying flags in such a manner will be subject to arrest.

Well... April Fools' Day to You!! --Old B-R