The Battle of Fort Fisher, N.C.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Battlefield Hit by Two Hurricanes in Three Years

The 57 acre battle field of Sabine Pass, on the Louisiana-Texas border, was hit by Hurricane Rita back in 2005, and then last year by Hurricane Ike. Both were extremely damaging hits with toppled trees and broken markers.

After a lot of work and a $600,000 rebuilding program, the park is set to reopen by the end of summer.

Richard W. "Dick" Dowling, 25, a Houston saloon owner and 47 mostly Irish troops of Co. F Texas Artillery disabled two Union gunboats and forced others to withdraw in less than an hour's action with no loss. Sixty Union soldiers and sailors were killed or missing.

The Dowling statue was erected in 1936 to honor the 100th anniversary of Texas independence. It is estimated that a storm surge of ten feet or more swept over the battlefield during the hurricanes.

In Line of the Wind. --Old B-R'er

Friday, May 29, 2009

Obama Under Attack for Honoring Confederates

And, you'll never guess from what group! Well, the NAACP, big surprise there.

Over Memorial Day, Obama sent wreaths to both Civil War black soldiers and Confederates as well. Lonnie Randolph, president of SC's NAACP said honoring Confederate soldiers is like honoring Adolph Hitler.

South Carolina Sons of Confederate Veterans Commander Randy Burbage says Randolph is causing racial problems. "His words are full of venom, hate and historical inaccuracies."

You Just Can't Satisfy Some Folk. --B-Runner

No More Confederate Flag at Maurice's

this article is from April 2008.

Well, at least at Rock Hill, NC's bbq restaurant. Owner Maurice Bessinger says he is taking too much flak about it and will replace the Confederate flag in front of the restaurant. No flag will fly.

He sells Confederate memorabilia at his other stores in South Carolina, where he is considered an icon. Local civil rights activists have urged a boycott of his stores. He received heavy criticism in 2000 when he replaced a US flag with a Confederate one in front of his Columbia headquarters. Since then, a major grocery store chain has dropped his line of mustard-based bbq sauce. (Evidently, SC bbq is mustard-based, whereas NC bbq is vinegar-based.

Maurice's has been serving food for 55 years, mostly in the Columbia, SC, area.

Last fall, Liz and I were driving to Knoxville, Tn., for the NIU-UT game and stopped at a Maurice's outside of Columbia. The place has lots of Confederate posters and pictures on the walls and sells Confederate memorabilia, although, I did not see a Confederate flag flying outside or one inside.

Personally, if a business owner decides to feature something that some find repulsive, it is their call. If you don't agree with it, don't patronize them.

Rebel If You Want to Be. --B-Runner

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Charleston, SC, Artifacts

In April, a lot of investigations were carried out on Civil War remains in and around Charleston Harbor, SC.

The wreck of the USS Patapsco, a monitor, is located between Fort Sumter and Sullivan Island. They also expect to find blockade-runners buried in the sand on Sullivan's Island in May. These were initially sunk in the water off the island, but over the years, the construction of jetties has filled in the beach.

As already mentioned, the remains of frame torpedoes are being searched.

A search was conducted at the Fort Wagner battleground, made famous in the movie "Glory" where the 54th Massachusetts suffered so many casualties in their ill-fated attack. It has since been washed out to sea with much of the remains under the jetties constructed in the late 1800s.

Lots of magnetic contact has been made in the area, which underwent a 54-day bombardment.

The study is designed to help preserve what's left, but also to protect newer vessels which are getting bigger and drawing more water.

Always Interesting to research Old Stuff. --B-Runner

1st USCT

Denise Velez, on her blog, wrote about her great great uncle Dennis Weaver, a slave who ran off during the Civil War and, at age 19, joined Co. D, 1st USCT (United State Colored Troops) in honor of Memorial Day. She was named after him.

This unit saw a lot of action, including at Fort Fisher and the Wilmington Campaign.

The unit organized between May and June, 1863, and participated in general Butler's James River operations, then the assault on Petersburg June 15-18th, the siege of Petersburg, the mine explosion July 30, 1864, the battles of Chaffin's Farm, New Market Heights, and Fair Oaks Oct. 27-18, 1864.


Then, the 1st USCT were at the campaign and First Battle of Fort Fisher Dec. 7-27,1864. The Second Battle of Fort Fisher Jan. 7-15, 1865, capture of Fort Fisher Jan. 15th, and then the Wilmington Campaign:

Sugar Loaf Hill-- Jan 19th
Sugar Loaf Battery-- Feb. 11th
Fort Anderson-- Feb. 18-20th
Capture of Wilmington-- Feb. 22nd
Northeast ferry-- Feb. 22nd
Campaign of the Carolinas-- March 1st to April 29th
Advance on Goldsboro-- March 6th to 21st
Occupation of Goldsboro-- March 21st
Cox's Bridge-- March 23-24
Advance on Raleigh-- April 9-13
Occupation of Raleigh-- April 13th
Surrender of Gen. Johnston at Bennett House April 20th

This was a lot of fighting in a short span. The unit was mustered out September 29, 1865. During the war, they lost 4 officers and 67 enlisted men killed and mortally wounded and, an additional 1 officer and 113 enlisted to disease. Total: 185.

Too often, the efforts by these black soldiers are overlooked, but, they were an invaluable aspect of the Union war effort and proved beyond a doubt, their ability to fight for their freedom.

A Fitting memorial Day Salute. --Old B-R

Running the Blockade: Boat Launch-- No Life Guards-- Alligators

Well, not actually the war, but in the Fort Fisher/Wilmington, NC, area.

1. BOAT LAUNCH-- The boat launch ramp at the end of US-421 by the Rocks and Battery Buchanan has been needing repairs for a long time now. However, money has been obtained and the many governmental bodies involved have been brought together to do it.

The area is known as the Basin, a shallow water lagoon formed after the construction of the breakwater now known as The Rocks in the late 1800s. The area is controlled by the federal government because it is in the blast zone of Sunny Point ammunition depot across the Cape Fear River from it. Long overdue.

2. NO LIFE GUARDS-- The billion dollar deficit facing the state of NC has eliminated life guards at the popular Fort Fisher Beach by the old fort. So, be careful if you intend to go for a dip after touring the fort. Right?

3. ALLIGATORS-- There are alligators in the Cape Fear River. I've seen one being fed by the battleship USS North Carolina. This past week, a six-foot gator took to sunning by the Chandler's Wharf parking lot in downtown Wilmington. A few months ago, North Myrtle Beach disc jockey Billy Smith was having a show at Jimmagan's Hideaway on the Intercoastal Waterway in South Carolina and the show was disrupted when an alligator took an interest.

So, the next time you're in the area, remember to keep an eye out for hungry gators.

Dangerous Swimming and Boat Launching. --Old B-Runner

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Cannons at Fort Fisher

The May 27th Wilmington Star News reported that on Saturday, May 30th, "Cannoneers: Load, Ready, Fire" will be held at Fort Fisher. Staff members and volunteers in uniform will fire Fort Fisher's Napoleon cannon at 11:45 AM and 3 PM.

There will also be costumed interpretive tours of the fort at 11 and 3.

Kids aged 4-13 will be encouraged to join the Junior Reserves.

Plenty of good stuff at this site.

Good Old Fort Fisher, a Blockade-Runner's Best Friend. Old B-Runner

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Earliest Photos of US Flags/Advance

The April 14, 2008, Daily Flag blog's Deborah Hendrick has been looking for the earliest known photo of a US flag. On April 10, 2008, she came across a picture of the USS Cairo flying its flag. She has found that the greatest number of early photos of US flags were taken of US Navy ships, many of which are blurred because of the breeze.

She also came across a picture of the Confederate blockade-runner Advance flying the rebel flag. She did some research on this ship and found that it was built in Greenock, Scotland as the Lord Clyde in 1862 ans was to serve as a sidewheel steamer River Clyde packet of 902 tons.

It was bought by the State of North Carolina in 1863 and the name changed in honor of Governor Vance. It was ahighly successful blockade-runner, making 20 voyages before being captured by the USS Santiago de Cuba off Wilmington September 10, 1864.

The US Navy bought it and it became the USS Advance and took part in the attacks on Fort Fisher, NC.

In March, 1865, the name was changed to the USS Frolic and it was sent to Europe. From 1875 to 1877, it cruised the waters off South America, before being decommissioned. It then became the civilian ship Frolic.

Always the Blockade-Runner. --Old B-R

Friday, May 22, 2009

Search Begins at Confederate Navy Yard

The May 22nd SC Now reports that University of South Carolina archaeologists and students have begun exploring the site of the former Confederate Mars Bluff Navy Yard on the Marion County bank of the Great Pee Dee River.

Somewhere, in the deep water off the site, there are three cannons thrown overboard from the CSS PeeDee before it was scuttled to prevent capture.

At one time, there were 14 buildings and they are interested in finding out what life was like at the yard during the war. The land is privately owned by Rufus Perdue and Glenn Dutton. Highly sensitive scanning devices are being used to create a picture without digging. Information gathered will be used when actual digging starts.

A gate has been installed to prevent looting and the Sons of Confederate Veterans have been given guard duty.

Looking, No Digging Into History. --Blockade-Runner

Thursday, May 21, 2009

More on the USS Canonicus

The ship was named for the chief of the Narragansett Indians. In the first attack on Fort Fisher, it sustained two hits and put two guns at the fort out of commission. In the second attack, it was hit 36 times and twice had the flag shot away. No one was killed, but three wounded.

Quartermaster Daniel D. Stevens received a medal of Honor for replacing the flag under fire.

The Canonicus was decommissioned, but in 1872 was operational again and cruised the waters of the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico. After that. it was frequently out of commission.

Again, It is Too Bad That This Ship Could Not Have Been Saved. --Old B-Runner

Last Civil War Monitor

It seems a shame, but a Union monitor survived into the 20th century, 1908,when it was sold and scrapped. Too bad someone did not have the foresight to save it at the time.

That ship would be the USS Canonicus, 1864 to 1908. She was put on display at the 1907 Jamestown Exhibition and scrapped the next year. She was the name ship of her class of nine monitors weighing in at 2100 tons. Built in Boston,Massachusetts and commissioned in April 1864 and served in the James River and was at Fort Fisher.

From March 28, 2008, This had three good photos of the ship as well.

Too Bad, Too Late. --Da B-R


Yesterday, in Running the Blockade, I wrote about an Union organization called MOLLUS, Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States, which was formed by Union officers April 15, 1865, after Lincoln's death. Conspiracy rumors were all over the place. These were men sworn to be the Loyal Legion as it is often referred to.

At one time, nearly 12,000 Army, Navy, and Marine officers belonged to it, including Grant, Sherman, Sheridan, Custer, Schofield, McClellan, and Rutherford B. Hayes. In the Navy, David D. Porter, farragut, and dewey belonged.

The organization still exists and the past twoyears have had dedications at the Lincoln memorial in Washington, DC, and Lincoln Tomb in Springfield, Illinois. Today, membership is of direct descendants of Union officers (much like the Confederate Military Order of the Stars and Bars).

They are divided into Commanderies by state and have an interesting website at Copies of their Loyal legion Historical Journal and Commandery reports can be seen. There is also a search engine through their archives.

Well Worth Checking It Out. --B-Runner

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Running the Blockade: Civil War Bones Found-- MOLLUS-- George Dewey

1. CIVIL WAR BONES FOUND-- The May 14th Nashville (Tn) Tennessean reports that construction workers at the former Through the Green Golf Course near the intersection of Columbia Pike and Southwest Parkway in Franklin, Tn., have uncovered bones, teeth and copper buttons.

The copper buttons are with the Union eagle and the thought is that the unidentified Union soldier was killed in the retreat following the Battle of Franklin and hastily buried in a two-foot grave.

2. MOLLUS-- Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States, also called the Loyal Legion. Organized by officers April 15, 1865, after the Lincoln assassination.

3. GEORGE DEWEY-- famous for the Spanish-American War Battle of Manila Bay "You may fire when ready," was executive officer on the USS Colorado at Fort Fisher.

The Civil War, It's All Around Us. --Old B-R

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Pig War-- The Build-Up-- Part 4

Again, thanks Wikipedia.

There was the Mexican War and the Near Pig war where men from both north and south acted together and provided training for the war looming on the horizon.


Sixty-six American soldiers under the command of Captain George Pickett were ordered to the San Juan Island and the British responded with three warships. Tension escalated until by August 10, 1859, there were 461 Americans and 14 cannons. The British had five warships mounting 70 guns and 2,140 men.

The governor of Vancouver Island, James Douglas, ordered British rear Admiral Robert L. Baynes, to land and engage. He refused saying it would be foolish to get "two great nations in a war over a squabble about a pig." A sane man, indeed.

Officers on both sides were given orders to defend themselves, but under no conditions were they to fire the first shot. For several days, soldiers on both sides traded insults trying to provoke the other side to start a war, but it never happened.


General Winfield Scott was sent to negotiate a treaty with Governor Douglas. It was agreed that both sides would maintain a military presence on the island, but numbers would be cut down to less than 100. The British established a camp on the north end and Americans on the south.

And a good thing for the Americans with the Civil War less than two years away. I wonder what would have happened if the Pig War had become an all-out war? Would there have been a Civil War had we been fighting the British a third time?

For the next 12 years, before being withdrawn, the American and British troops got along very well together, trading visits to each other's camps.


The Pig War is commemorated each year by the San Juan Island national Historic Park at the site of each vamp. Even though it is American territory now, the British Union Jack is hoisted each day at the site of the British camp.

Well, At Least No One Died for a Pig. --Blockade-Porker

The Pig War-- "Oinkers Away"-- Part 2


One of the Americans, Lyman Cutlar, had a garden and one day found a pig/boar rooting around in it and eating his potatoes. There was a man by the fence finding it all amusing. Cutlar grabbed a gun and killed the offending pig. The man by the fence ran away. He was an Irishman Charles Griffin who worked for the Hudson Bay Company on the sheep ranch and raised pigs on the side and allowed them to roam free.

Once he knew the situation, Cutlar offered to pay Griffin $10 (a lot back then), but Griffin insisted on $100. At which the American decided not to pay since the pig was clearly trespassing. Story has it that Cutlar said, "It was eating my potatoes." To which Griffin replied "It is up to you to keep your potatoes out of my pig."

Charles Griffin reported the incident to British authorities on Vancouver Island and they threatened to arrest Cutlar. American citizens appealed to Washington for protection.

To Oink, Or Not to Oink. That is A Question. --The Pig-Runner

OK, What Was "The Pig War?"

I hear you ask. I believe I read about it somewhere a while back, but didn't remember much at all about it. So, I went to good old Wiki and looked it up. Talk about your instant facts. Yesterday, I wrote about Civil War persons involved in the incident.

THE PIG WAR (Or, "Don't Oink Me While I Root")

This incident, which came close to causing a war between the United States and Britain in 1859, was triggered by the shooting of a pig. Other names for the incident are The Pig Episode, The Pig and Potato War, The San Juan Border Dispute, or, the Northwestern Boundary Dispute.

And, it was essentially bloodless as the pig was the only "casualty."


The Oregon Treaty, January 15, 1846, divided the US and British North America along the 49th Parallel. However, there was some question about the location of San Juan Island in Puget Bay as existing maps were old and vague. Both sides claimed it.

The Hudson Bay Company had established a sheep ranch there and about 25-29 Americans had settled on the island by 1859 and both groups lived peacefully, until....

More to Oink. --The Oink-Runner

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Pig War: San Juan, Washington's Civil War Connection

From the April 10, 2008, San Juan (Wa) Journal.

All of these men were at San Juan Island in the military occupation during the British-American boundary dispute in 1859. Pickett commanded US troops and Alden commanded the USS Active. This near-conflict is sometimes called the "Pig War."

GEORGE PICKETT-- Confederate general. Pickett's Charge at Gettysburg

JAMES ALDEN-- direct descendant of Pilgrim John Alden. Commanded USS South Carolina and USS Brooklyn at Mobile Bay and both battles of Fort Fisher. (Hey, there's my fort!!!)

HENRY MARTYN ROBERT-- wrote Robert's Rules of Order. In Corps of Engineers and worked on defenses of Washington, DC, Philadelphia and several New England ports.

SILAS CASEY-- Union major general-- led a division versus Pickett at the Battle of Seven Pines. Wrote the three volume "System on Infantry Tactics."

JAMES W. FORSYTH-- Union brigadier general

ALFRED PLEASANTON-- Union cavalry commander

RUFUS INGALLS-- major general and quartermaster general of US Army. Warned Pickett that he was wanted for war crimes causing him to flee to Montreal.

A Precursor to the War. --Old B-R

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Fort Anderson, NC

Last year, the good folks at HMdb (Historical Marker Database, a great place to check out if you are of the historical bent. They focus on those "History on a Sticks", that most of us don't slow down to read). checked out a marker at Fort Anderson, North Carolina, on the banks of the Cape Fear River.

It was constructed between 1861 and 1863 under the direction of Col. William Lamb and Maj. John Hedrick, who also were involved with Fort Fisher. It was one of several Confederate strongholds built to protect Wilmington, a major blockade-running port (hey, my kind of place).

They enlarged the existing Fort St. Phillip (named for the ruins of the St. Phillip Anglican Church 9the site was also where the colonial town of Brunswick was located until it was abandoned in favor of Wilmington further up the river.

They modeled it after Crimean War fortifications. In July, Lamb assumed command of Fort Fisher. After the fall of Fisher, the Union Navy and Army moved up the Cape Fear River and attacked Fort Anderson, which also fell.

Submitted March 23, 2008, by J. J. Prats of Springfield, Va..

Archaeological work done a few months ago revealed the existence of a lost gun platform at Fort Anderson.

Like a Mini-Fort Fisher. --Old B-R

CSS Black Warrior-- Part 2

It was built in Plymouth, NC, and launched in 1859 as the M. C. Etheridge, a two masted schooner of 144 tons, 92 feet long and beam of 24 feet.

Acquired by the Confederate Navy in 1862, armed with 32-pounder cannons, and placed under the command of Lt. F. M. Harris for the defense of North Carolina sounds and Roanoke Island. It was part of what the nine vessel group that became known as the Mosquito Fleet.

On February 6, 1862, Union forces under Gen. Burnside effected a landing on the island, but the Black Warrior did not participate because it was not a steamer and too far away. The rest of the Mosquito fleet was unsuccessful and retreated to Elizabeth City, where the Black Warrior was towed.

On February 10, 1862, the Black Warrior was burned to prevent capture.

Not Much of a Record. --B-R'er

Friday, May 15, 2009

The CSS Black Warrior-- Part 1

The May 2nd Elizabeth City (NC) Daily Advance had an article about a history conference. It caught my eye about historic items being located in the Pasquotank River, including remnants of Civil War gunboats, commercial steamers, and even Indian dugout canoes.

It said the remains of the CSS Black Warrior, a 92-foot schooner had been located and a gun carriage recovered which will be on display at the Museum of the Albemarle once it is preserved by state preservationists.

I'd never heard of the ship, so went to good old Wikipedia. It said that the ship carried two 32-pdr. cannons and that the wreck site had been found in 2000 and in 2001, the gun carriage was recovered. That seems like a long time for it not being returned.

It was part of the Confederate Mosquito Fleet which was collected to defend Roanoke Island from Union attack.

More to come. --Old B-Runner

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Running the Blockade: Minnesota Flag Attack-- Florida Flag Controversy

Some New News About an Old War.

1. MINNESOTA FLAG ATTACK-- The May 6th Minnesota Sun had an article about teachers at Lakeville South High School requesting that the school board ban Confederate flags on student cars. A pupil parked in the student lot with a flag on his car. He was approached by the administration and since has not parked it there, saying he wasn't a racist. Seems to me the problem was solved, even though it shouldn't have been a problem.

2. FLORIDA FLAG CONTROVERSY-- The May 8th Southern Florida Times reports that an advisory board set up to address racial issues in Homestead and Florida City was dissolved by a 7-0 vote by the Homestead City Council. The Homestead/Florida City Human Relations Board claims the reason was for their opposition to Confederate Re-enactment groups taking part in the November, 2008, Veterans Day parade. This caused a lot of problems at the time when blacks were offended.

I Tell, You, Wave That Flag and Some People Are Going to Go Nuts. --Blockade-R

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Fort Huger Again

This time it is the Historical Marker database, and Bernard Fisher went to Fort Huger and photographed the plaques and took pictures of the grounds.

John Smith traveled along the James River many times from 1607 to 1609. The first English settlement in Isle of Wight County was also near the fort's site.

During the Civil War, the site became Fort Huger and it was used for a year by the Confederates. Construction began July, 1861, under the supervision of Virginia state engineer Col. Andrew Talcott and was there to stop Union ships from advancing up the James River to Richmond.

Union Naval forces attacked it on May, 8, 1862 and the USS Monitor shelled it on he 12th. Fort Huger was bombarded several more times before evacuation on May 19, 1862.

Today, the fort has been cleared of growth and turned into a park. It is well-preserved.

A Little Known Confederate Fort. --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Confederate Memorial Day in South Carolina

On May 11th, all South Carolina state agencies were closed, as were government in ten counties, and one school district. I bet that really burned some folk. May 10th as Confederate memorial Day was part of a South Carolina compromise that also made Martin Luther King's birthday a permanent holiday. This year, May 10th was on a Sunday, so it was observed Monday.

May 10th was chosen because it was the day of Stonewall Jackson's death and the capture of Confederate President Jefferson Davis.

One source of this information had the comments section disabled because of abusive comments. Imagine that. I wonder how the lines were drawn?

Knew This Would Get Some Controversy. --Old B-Runner

Monday, May 11, 2009

Confederate Fortifications at Gloucester Point, Yorktown, Virginia

The May 5th HMdb, Historical Marker database, had another photo and information gallery by Bernard Fisher, this time about a marker at Gloucester/Tyndall's Point, Virginia, by Yorktown. During the Peninsular Campaign of 1862, there was a star-shaped fort there to defend the York River from Union vessels.

It was first fortified in 1667 with Fort James which was rebuilt with brick in 1671. (I was unable to find out what happened to it, however.) The river between Gloucester Point and Yorktown is particularly narrow here so it was a very commanding position.

It was the extreme eastern terminus of Confederate General Magruder's Second Peninsular Defensive Line. The Army fortified it in June, 1861 with the 100 yard long and 75 foot wide star-shaped fort featuring a 7-and-a-half foot high parapet on the inside and 20 foot thick embrasures for 12 guns. A water battery was also constructed.

Robert E. Lee directed its construction, which came under fire before it was completed. Eight 9-inch Dahlgrens and four 32-pdrs were placed. The fort protected the water battery from land attack.

The Second Defensive Line was abandoned on the night of May 3rd and 4th.

Another Fort I Never heard Of. --Old B-R

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Fort Norfolk, Virginia

Fort Norfolk is a four acre fort on the Elizabeth River in Norfolk, Virginia. It is one of 19 coastal forts authorized by President Washington. Many of its 1800s structures still stand.

Troops from the fort helped defeat British troops in the War of 1812, and as such is one of the best-preserved sites from that conflict.

The Naval Museum, US Army Corps of Engineers, and Norfolk Historical Society have gotten together to rehabilitate some of the structures and to create an exhibit and lecture center and hope to have it finished by the War of 1812 bicentennial. It will be in a 6000 square foot magazine that was built by the Navy in 1850 to store explosive ammunition. It is a series of domed cells designed to implode in case of an explosion with walls nearly four feet thick.

The Secretary of the Navy has designated 6 ports for the bicentennial and Norfolk is one of them.

Fort Norfolk was abandoned in 1834 after the completion of Fortress Monroe.


During the conflict, ammunition from this magazine was used aboard the CSS Virginia. After recapture by the Union it was used as a prison for blockade-runners (but they didn't catch me). rare Civil War graffiti can still be seen on the walls of the officers quarters. There is one of a Union officer with a chamberpot on his head.

Never Heard of This Fort Before. --B-Runner

Friday, May 8, 2009

Frame Torpedoes

When I was writing about the explorations going on for Civil War artifacts in Charleston Harbor, SC, one of the objectives was to locate frame torpedoes.

I did some research on them and did not turn up a lot.

They were set on a wooden frame, often equipped with acid fuses. The simplest ones were artillery shells weighing up to 400 pounds with 30 pounds of powder. Twenty-seven Union vessels were sunk by Confederate torpedoes when they ran into them. How many were sunk by frame torpedoes was not mentioned.

There is a nice picture

The wooden frame was set up at an angle with five shells/torpedoes at the top.

Again, Not Much On Frame Torpedoes. --Old B-Runner

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Confederate Memorial Day Observance in SC

The May 6th Orangeburg (SC) Times and Democrat reports that the Olin M. Dantzler Camp 73 of the South Carolina Division SCV will be holding their annual Confederate Memorial Day Observance at 2 PM, Saturday, May 9th at Memorial Plaza in Orangeburg.

Camp Commander Jim Wyrosock said, "These men from Orangeburg sacrificed their lives for the ideals of defending their homeland. No matter what your persuasion about the war, it is indisputable that men died and we are admonished by our spirit and awareness, 'Greater love hath no man than this, that he would lay down his life for another.' The common South Carolina soldier fought for the same reason soldiers fight today-defense of home."

During the Civil War, Sherman's right wing was temporarily stopped where Edisto Gardens now stand. Sherman later established temporary headquarters in Orangeburg and burned the courthouse and other buildings.

The Edisto Memorial Gardens started in the 1920s when five acres of land was planted with azaleas. today, it honors veterans of America's wars and contains fifty beds of roses. During the Civil War, a force of fewer than 600 Confederates temporarily halted Sherman's force until outflanked by a larger Union force and withdrew.

An Honor to Honor. --Old B-R

Alton, Illinois, Confederate Prison-- Part 3

I did some research on the Confederate who died of the gunshot wound, R. E. Holly, but found no particulars. Had he been trying to escape or gotten too close to the "dead Line" if they had one? Had another prisoner shot him?

He had been captured September 27, 1864 at Pilot Knob, Missouri, and was a private in Company L of the First Monroe's Arkansas. A Pilot Knob Battle site said that there was a Monroe's 1st/6th Arkansas Cavalry at the battle.

Pilot Knob was also called the Battle of Fort Davidson and was the opening engagement of Price's Raid. Fought September 27, 1864 in Iron County, Missouri, Price's 12,000 Confederates lost 1500 compared to 184 Union losses.

I'd Still Like to Know the Story of How Private Holly Came to Be Killed by Gunshot Wound. --Blockade-R

Alton, Illinois, Confederate Prison-- Part 2

Continuing with the Alton Prison.

One resident of the Alton wrote during the smallpox epidemic that "A large trench was dug and bodies placed in separate wooden boxes, were hauled to the cemetery six at a time, and dumped into the trench. The wagon would then return and pick up more bodies."

There is a comprehensive list of Confederates who died at Alton Prison at

It also listed what they died of. I went through just the letter "H."

small pox-- 17
small pox, buried at small pox island (now underwater)-- 5
rubela-- 6
anemia- 2
chronic diarrhea-- 12
variola-- 7
?-- 14
consumption-- 2
typho pneumonia-- 1
erysihilas-- 3
dysentary-- 2
pneumonia-- 15
typhus fever-- 2
typhois malaria-- 3
dysenteria-- acuta-- 3
typho malaria-- 5
typhoid fever-- 7
inflamation of the brain-- 1
pithsis-- 1
gastritis-- 1
ersipelas-- 1
laryngitis-- 1 (I had no idea this could kill you)
enteritis-- 1
gun shot wound-- 1 (I wonder about this one)
memingitis-- 1
erysipelas-- 1
debilitas-- 1

Some of these diseases might have been misspellings or alternate names. It depended upon who recorded it.

So, Getting Captured Was Not Such a Great Thing. And, They Talk About Confederate Prisons. --B-R

Alton, Illinois, Confederate Prison

Back on May 1st, I mentioned in the Illinois Division SCV meeting that the convention was dedicated to the Confederate Cemetery and Memorial in Alton.

I did some further research on the prison, and found that it was the Alton Federal Prison built in 1831. It has since been torn down with the exception of one small section which is plaqued.

In 1860, the prisoners were transferred to the newly constructed Joliet ("Blues Brothers" movie) in Joliet. During the Civil War, it was reopened for Confederate prisoners because of overcrowding in two nearby prisons in St. Louis. The first prisoners arrived in February, 1862. Records show that 11,745 were housed during the three years it was open with an average of 1261 at any time.

Conditions were described as horrible with overcrowding and disease rampant. An 1862smallpox epidemic killed as many as 2,210 prisoners.


There is also a Confederate Memorial at the Lincoln-Shields Recreation Area in West Alton, Missouri, that was dedicated in April 2002, which contains the names of Confederates who died of smallpox.

The recreation area is named after the Lincoln duel with James Shields, who was offended by what Lincoln and his wife had written in their "Rebecca Letters." The duel was called off when Shields realized that Lincoln had a clear advantage.

More to Come. --Old B-Runner

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Councilman Dowdell Aplogizes-- Well, Sort Of

This is a follow-up to the May 3rd post.

The May 6th Opeleka Auburn (Al) News had a video showing Councilman Arthur L. Dowdell's Tuesday night's response to a resolution for him to apologize for taking the United Daughter of the Confederacy's Confederate flags at the cemetery last week.

He sort-of apologized but wanted those in attendance to know why he did it.

Originally, he went to the cemetery because some black students had said they were offended by the flags which had been placed for Confederate Memorial Day services. He said he checked with village officials who said they didn't know about the flags being there. This prompted his action.

Earlier, the Auburn council had passed a resolution that Dowdell make an apology and also said his actions were "inappropriate and beneath the office of a city councilman."

Dowdell opposed the resolution, saying that he had not had an opportunity to review it before the meeting.

The council listened to 25 citizens, most from outside Auburn, express their opinions. About half supported Dowdell.

Again, Won't It Be a Great Day When Southerners Can Fly the Flag and Not Be Hassled for It. --Old B-Runner

Confederate Memorial Day Observed in Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi

Most observances were actually held Sunday, April 26th, but state offices in Georgia, Mississippi, and Alabama were closed Monday, the 27th

It is no longer celebrated as much as it once was, however.

The University of Georgia observed it by putting out the original Confederate States Constitution in the Hargett Rare Books and Manuscripts section of the main library. This is the only existing copy of it.

In Alabama, the Sons of Confederate Veterans put on a memorial program at the state capital.

However, not all state offices were closed. Two Alabama state unemployment offices stayed open as Monday is a peak day for filing claims.

Protecting Their Homes and Families. --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Running the Blockade: Water Witch-- KA in Trouble with AKA-- Chatleston Harbor-- Monitor Sanctuary

Some New News About an Old War.

1. WATER WITCH-- The April 5th Columbus (Ga) Ledger-Examiner reports that people were touring the newest exhibit at the National Civil War Naval Museum in Columbus. The Water Witch is a full-scale waterline replica of the 160 foot side wheel Civil War steamer that saw service in both Union and Confederate navies. The replica is described as being in "meticulous detail."

It was captured by a Confederate raiding party, but later burned and sunk to prevent capture.

2. KA IN TROUBLE WITH AKA-- The April 29th Birmingham (Al) News reports that alumnae of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority (black) have asked the University of Alabama to shut down the Kappa Alpha Order Fraternity's (white) annual Confederate celebration where members dress in uniforms and carry the flag. Young women also participate in period attire.

Evidently, the parade passed by the AKA house. The AKA's said the KA's are celebrating a romanticized view of the Old South and meant no offense, but need to learn what it means to be black. They want the celebration permanently ended.

The Kappa Alpha Order was established in 1865 at the Washington and Lee University where Robert E. Lee had accepted the college presidency. (It was called Washington College at the time.)

As you can imagine, there were lots of comments.

3. CHARLESTON HARBOR-- The May 2nd Columbia (SC) the State reports that some new discoveries about Fort Sumter and Charleston Harbor will be revealed that weekend at a program at the Charleston Museum. I've seen no follow up on it.

4. MONITOR SANCTUARY-- On April 30th, the NOAA announced that there was going to be a public meeting concerning the Monitor National Marine Sanctuary. Again, no follow up on it.

Won't It Be a Wonderful Day When You Can Fly the Flag and Not Get Hassled for It. --Blockade-R

Monday, May 4, 2009

Illinois Division Formation

I was reading my journal from 1989, twenty years ago, and for May 3rd, I wrote: "Received a letter from Andrew Wilson from Ottawa, Illinois, in regards to the formation of a Sons of Confederate Veterans camp in Illinois. He had eleven positive responses from 22 letters he sent out. It would be nice to have a camp here. I am a member but essentially in name only. About the only positive thing is the magazine Confederate Veteran which I get every two months."

This was my first indication of what is now the Illinois Division and Camp Douglas. Last month, we had the 16th Annual Convention of the Division.

We sure owe a lot to Mr. Wilson. Thank you.

Confederately, Old Blockade-Runner

Decatur, Illinois' Generals-- Part 3

Back on April 17th, I was writing about an article by Ron Ingram in the Decatur Herald & Review based on the research of local historian Dayle Irwin.

Continuing with it.


He ran a carriage business in Decatur before the war and did much business with the South. When those states seceded, he lost a lot of money on unpaid bills.

He was elected colonel of the 35th Illinois in May, 1861. On March 7, 1862, the regiment was at the battle of Elkhorn Tavern in Pea Ridge where Smith's horse was shot out from under him. Also, his sword was reported shot out of his hand, wounded in the left shoulder, struck on the right side of his head by a cannon ball fragment that fractured his skull. A silver plate, the size of a dollar coin was put in his head, from which he got the name "Old Tin Top." The wounds never fully healed until 1868.

Obviously, he was no longer fit for duty, but he raised an independent brigade and was assigned to administrative duties. In September, 1862, he was promoted to brigadier general and was discharged a brevet brigadier-general in January, 1866.

"When the 7th Illinois Cavalry was in the area of Cortland and Decatur, Alabama, they found livery stables and many plantations had fine carriages marked on the rear axle 'Gustavus A. Smith, Decatur, Illinois." They decided the carriages were not paid for and liberated them."


Was a Methodist Episcopal minister who was known as "The Fighting Preacher." He was born in 1817 and president of Quincy College. In 1862, he was living in Decatur and commissioned colonel of the 115th Illinois, which consisted of men from eight central Illinois counties and better known as the 2nd Methodist regiment.

The regiment was with the Army of Kentucky at the Battle of Chickamauga and Moore repeatedly led attacks against Confederates on Snodgrass Hill where his horse was killed under him. When they ran out of bullets, Moore ordered a bayonet charge that dislodged the enemy.

He was promoted to brigadier general in April, 1865, after commanding the Iron Brigade (US-12 in Illinois is called the Iron Brigade Highway) at the Battle of Nashville. He served in Congress and was appointed US consul to Peru when he died July 11, 1883. His body was returned to Decatur where he was interred in Greenwood Cemetery.

Never Knew Decatur Had So Many generals. --Old B-Runner

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Can You Believe This City Councilman?

The headline says it all, "Councilman Removes Confederate Flags from Graves" in the April 23rd Opelika-Auburn (Al)News. Auburn city councilman Arthur L. Dowdell, a black man, removed Confederate flags from the Pine Hill Cemetery in Auburn.

he said several people told him they had problems with the flags and he drove to the cemetery and started pulling flags up. He said, "It's offensive to me and represents the Ku Klux Klan and racists." Furthermore, the flags will never go up again as long as he is a councilman.

The United Daughters of the Confederacy had placed the flags in preparation for Confederate Memorial Day. They have done this for the past fifty years.

He was accused of snapping one in half from a woman's ancestor's grave. I wasn't able to tell for sure, but it sounded like the woman was actually there when he did it. Said Dowdell, "I might have snapped it. If I did, so what? If I had my way, I would have broke them all up and stomped on them. That flag represents another country, another nation."

The paper had an online poll as to whether people thought Mr. Dowdell was right or not. Right 3%, 154 votes. Wrong, 97%, 5587 votes.

Let's Hope Everyone Remembers This Come Election Time. --Old B-Runner

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Headstones Dedicated in North Carolina

The April 20th Goldsboro (NC) News Argus had an article about the dedication of headstones of 13 Confederate soldiers who died in the Battle of White Hall while defending Wayne County back in 1862. The ceremony was held April 16th on the banks of the Neuse River. It was sponsored by the Sons of Confederate veterans and United Daughters of the Confederacy.

Flowers were placed in front of each inscribed headstone, a cannon and rifle salute was fired while Dixie was played slowly.

The Battle of White Hall took place December 16, 1862, the day before the Battle of Goldsbourough. Many of the soldiers at the battle were from the 11th NC, who, seven months later, would participate in the Battle of Gettysburg. Also, soldiers from the 31st NC, 4th NC Cavalry and Edenton Bell Battery.

The soldiers: 2nd Lt. William Means. 1st Sgt E.B. Bristol, and privates William Liles, John F. Dellenger, Walter Duckworth, James Gault, Benjamin Walker, Noah Roundtree, L.T. Gill, John Tarkenton, Riddick Arnold, Elias Dulin, and Benjamin Smith.

The graves are located in a small cemetery on River Street. White Hall is now called Seven Springs. Back in December, the SCV erected a monument honoring the 13 at the site north of the river on Lynch River.

Honoring the Ultimate Sacrifice in a Little Known Battle. --B-Runner

Friday, May 1, 2009

2009 Illinois Division SCV Convention-- Part 4

This past April 18th, the Illinois Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans had its 16th annual convention in Springfield, Illinois, at the Hilton Hotel.

This convention was dedicated to the Confederate Cemetery and Memorial on Rozier Street in Alton, Illinois.

According to the brochure, about 300 Confederate prisoners and Union guards who died of smallpox during the war, were buried on Sunflower Island, which is currently under water. This island was used as a quarantine.

Those who were not buried on the island were interred in a special plot in North Alton known today as Confederate Soldiers' Cemetery. In 1905, the Sam Davis Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy was organized and petitioned the Federal War Department for funds to erect a permanent marker.

Work on the 40 foot granite column was completed in 1909. A tablet at the base reads: "Erected by the United States to mark the burial place of 1,354 Confederate Soldiers who died here and at the Smallpox Hospital on the adjacent island while prisoners of war and whose graves cannot now be identified."

Gone, But Not Forgotten. --Old B-Runner

Gideon Welles' Descendants Fighting Over Artifacts

The April 26th Hartford (Ct) Courant had an article by David Altimari about an angry court battle going on between the descendants of President Lincoln's Secretary of the Navy, Gideon Welles. The Welles and Brainard branches of his family are locked in both probate and civil courts over what happened to some of interesting items such as an unused ticket to the Gettysburg Address (I didn't know you had to have a ticket to view it) and personal notes passed between Lincoln and Welles.

There are allegations that the Brainards sold a Spencer repeating carbine, the 16th one made (16th president), and one that Lincoln had fired and given to Welles as a gift.

Plus, quite a few documents were stolen from a Missouri motel parking lot in 2006 during a move.

Welles was one of Lincoln's closest confidants. At least 713 notes and letters between the two were found among the documents, many written on odd-shaped paper which was typical of Lincoln, who was likely to grab anything lying around when a thought came to him. Lincoln experts have found a four-year gap in the Lincoln-Welles correspondence and this could be the missing letters.

Also missing is a finely cut glass wine decanter believed to have been used in the White House by the Lincolns.

The value of the stolen items is estimated at between $25,000 to $50,000.

I sure hope the missing correspondence turns up. This definitely would be valuable information in the Union naval effort.

Give it Up, Guys!! --Old B-R