Friday, July 31, 2009

Running the Blockade:

Some New News About an Old War.

1. MATTHEW FONTAINE MAURY CAMP 1722, SCV-- I was surprised to see an SCV camp named after a navy guy. However, they are out of Fredericksburg, Virginia, where Maury was born, so that explains it. They had a picture of an iron cross dedication for Private William B. Newton, 30th Virginia at the Newton family cemetery in the May-June issue of the Confederate Veteran.

2. GEORGE DAVIS CAMP 5-- The same issue had a picture of members of this old camp presenting a $150 check to Jim McKee for the purchase of a Pattern 1840 32-pound gun to mounted at Gun Emplacement No. 3, Battery B. at Fort Anderson, near Wilmington, NC. Excavations recently went on at the fort, the first since the 1960s, and an original gun platform was found. In honor of the Civil War's 150th anniversary approaching, this gun will be placed in the fort.

3. DETROIT'S SOLDIERS AND SAILORS MONUMENT-- While looking at, I saw a picture of an old hotel in downtown Detroit, Michigan. By it was the Soldiers and Sailors Monument, honoring Union veterans of the Civil War. It was constructed in 1871, in Cadillac Square and moved 100 yards away in 2004 for street widening.

A person made a comment that a copper box was found when they moved it. Inside was a bronze medallion and lots of papers listing names of Union veterans, which unfortunately had been destroyed due to water seepage. Probably a time capsule.

Now, You Know. --Old B-Runner

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Craney Island, Virginia

Located near Portsmouth. The HMdb (Historical Marker database) are out doing their usual great job of cataloging the nation's "History on a Sticks."

This time, hey did one for Craney Island, a place I've never heard of before, but it is where a big victory was won over British troops in the War of 1812, and where the ironclad CSS Virginia was blown up in 1862 to prevent capture.

The marker said that during the War of 1812, on June 22, 1813, American defenders held out against a much-larger British force suffering no casualties while killing 200 British, capturing 13, and causing 40 to desert. This saved Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Gosport Naval Yard.

In May, 1862, when Confederates abandoned Norfolk, efforts were made to lighten the CSS Virginia to take her up the James River, but were unsuccessful, and the ship was blown up by Craney Island.

Didn't Know That. --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Sabine Pass Battlefield-- Part 2


It was a naval battle. Union forces under Acting Master Frederick Crocker, with two schooners and a steamship, attempted to enter Sabine Pass in order to get to Beaumont.

At Fort Sabine, they encountered 30 infantry and artillerists and 30 cavalry. The Confederate guns were unable to reach the Union ships and were abandoned. The city of Sabine Pass surrendered the next day.


The USS CLIFTON, commissioned 1862, built in 1861 as a ferry. Towed mortar boats up the Mississippi for the attack on New Orleans, also at Vicksburg. On October 1862, it took part in the capture of Galveston and helped seize Fort Burton, Louisiana in April, 1863. It was captured at Sabine Pass September 8, 1863 and entered Confederate service with the Texas Marine Department and converted into a gunboat. It ran aground off Sabine Pass March 21, 1864 while attempting to run the blockade and couldn't be refloated and was burned.

It Gets Deeper. --Old B-Runner

Monday, July 27, 2009

Fort Fisher Survivors Reunion

I have been following the remaining the remaining survivors of World War I, one of whom just died July 25th, leaving just three still alive.

The Utica (NY) paper reports that back in 1909, the Civil War had been over 44 years. Two years earlier, in 1907, the Fort Fisher Survivors of the Confederate Army had invited the 117th New York Volunteers Association to a reunion in Wilmington (the paper said it was Delaware, but I'm sure they meant North Carolina).

The 117th New York was recruited from Oneida County and had participated in the Battle of Fort Fisher.

Then, in 1909, the 117th returned the invitation and invited the Confederates to one of their reunions. The Confederates accepted.

So, even back then, veterans were getting together. Especially interesting was the fact these men had fought against each other. However, I should mention that after the war, the Confederate commander of the fort, Col. William Lamb became very good friends with General Newton Martin Curtis, who led Union forces at the battle.

Way Back Then. --Old B-Runner

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Sabine Pass Battlefield-- Part 1

The February 8th El Paso (Tx) Times reported that there is a new group formed to support the 58 acre Civil War battlefield on the Texas-Louisiana. The Sabine Pass Battleground State Historic Site has a statue of Confederate Lieutenant Dick Dowling and an interpretive center for the September 8, 1863 battle.

A fleet of Union gunboats carrying 5,000 troops were turned back by Dowling and 46 men of Co. F, 1st Texas Home Artillery. After 45 minutes of fire, the Union fleet retired. Two gunboats surrendered, 50 Union soldiers were killed and 350 captured. No Confederates were injured.

This is known as the Second Battle of Sabine Pass.

Dick Dowling (1838-1867) was born in Ireland, and came to the US in 1846 and established a saloon in Houston in 1857. His Jefferson Davis Guards were primarily Irish dockworkers. He intensely trained his company in artillery use on the Sabine River's two channels. He placed colored poles in the river marking distances and elevation, which accounts for his success.

More to Come. --Old B-Runner

Friday, July 24, 2009

Mobile Bay Battle Re-enactment

August 1-2, there will be a large re-enactment of the Battle of Mobile Bay.

Two ironclads from the National Naval Museum in Columbus, Georgia, will be on hand. Federal siege works will bombard Fort Morgan with artillery. Confederate mortar batteries will return fire. Many sandbags will be placed around the fort. like in the original battle.

If You're Into the Naval Aspect of the War, This Cold Be Right Up Your Alley. --Old B-R'er

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Wreck of the CSS Florida-- Part 2

The Florida set sail, and October 4, 1864, entered the port of Bahia, Brazil. Three days later, while Morris and half the crew were ashore, Commander Napoleon Collins of the USS Wachusett, boarded the Florida and took possession. They towed it out of the harbor and sailed it to the US. This was a clear violation of the laws of neutrality. Collins was court martialled in the US and found guilty, but Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles set the verdict aside as Collins was too much of a hero.

In Newport News, on November 28, 1864, the Florida was sunk under dubious circumstances after a collision with the USAT Alliance, a troop ferry. This was likely done under the orders of Admiral David D. Porter as the ship was about to be returned to Brazil.

Sounds Mighty Suspicious to Me. --Old B-Runner

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Wreck of the CSS Florida

Beack on March 7th and 9th of this year, I wrote about the USS Cumberland and mentioned the fact that the wreck of the CSS Florida was close to its final resting place.

The tale of the end of the Confederate commerce raider Florida is an interesting one as well. Built in England, commanded by the Wilmington, NC, captain Maffitt, runner of the Mobile blockade, captor of 37 ships, and captured by Collins under a questionable situation, and sank under mysterious circumstances.

The CSS Florida was built in Liverpool, England, under the name Oreto. Commissioned Aug. 17, 1862, and was 191 feet long, beam of 27.2 feet, crew of 146 officers and men. Armament consisted of: 66-inch rifled cannons, 2X7-inch rifled cannons, and 1X12 pounder cannon.

It was commanded by Captain John Newland Maffit and raced past the Union blockade into the port of Mobile. After that, it spent 6 months cruising off North and South America and the West Indies, calling in foreign ports and capturing prizes all the while.

It was in France from Aug 23, 1863 to February 12, 1864. Maffitt became ill and turned command over to Lieutenant Charles Morris.

The Illegal Capture of the Florida, Next. --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Summers-Koontz Monument Rededicated

The February 27th wrote that this monument was going to be rededicated . It is half way between Mount Jackson and New Market, Virginia on US-11.

It marks where two Confederate soldiers were executed by Union troops after the war was over. According to Robert H. Moore, II, Sgt Isaac Newton Koontz, 20, and Captain George Summers were summarily executed June 27, 1865 at Rude Hill.

They had fought Union cavalry in May, 1865, and made off with some horses and other items. When they returned home, their fathers demanded they return the stuff they took.

They did, and the Union colonel granted them a pardon for doing it. However, a new commander rescinded the pardon, captured them and told them they'd be executed that day. They were given an opportunity to write farewell letters before it, though.

Give the Guys a Break. --B-Runner

New Lincoln Marker in Indianapolis

The March 7th Indianapolis (In) Star reported that three days earlier, the Indiana History Bureau dedicated a new marker outside the Statehouse to commemorate where Lincoln's body rested in the rotunda of the old state capitol on its trip back to Springfield, Illinois.

Some Indiana Connection to the War.

Oliver P. Morton was the war governor of Indiana, and the first Republican one. When the call for volunteers went out in 1861, Indiana exceeded its quota three times. His home is still in Centerville on US-40.

Schuyler Colfax was the Speaker of the US House and a major Lincoln-backer. On April 14, 1865, he called on Lincoln at the White House and was invited to go to Ford's Theater, but declined. Later, he accompanied the funeral train to Indianapolis. His home in South Bend no longer exists.

"Indiana Wants Me, Lord I Can't Go Back There." --B-R'er

Civil War in Bayport, Florida-- Part 2

According to Wikipedia, Bayport has a population of 36 at the mouth of the Weekiwachee River, by Tampa. It started in the 1850s as a cotton and supply port. By 1863, the larger ports on Florida's Gulf coast had been closed and small rivers like the Weekiwachee became important trade routes and drew Union attention.

Eleven blockade runners were captured here between 1862 and 1865 and several skirmishes between Union and Confederate forces took place.

A Confederate battery can still be seen at the point north of Bayport's fishing pier at the mouth of the river.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Civil War in Bayport, Florida

Back on April 16th, I wrote about the Battle of Bayport, Florida, and am finally getting around to a follow-up.

Union Admiral Theodorus Bailey wrote from Key West on March 24, 1863, that blockade runners were all over the area by Bayport and ordered ships there. On April 3rd, they captured and burned the Helen with a load of corn. They went after another large schooner in port, but were stopped by a two gun battery and riflemen. The Union ships drove them off and the Confederates set the ship on fire and some smaller vessels got away.

In September, 1863, Lt-Cmdr A.A. Semmes a group to Bayport, causing Confederates to burn a British blockade runner and a cotton warehouse. Another British schooner was captured there in October that was bound for Havana with 26,000 pounds of cotton and $1,200 in gold and money. This provided a nice slice of prize money for the Union sailors.

Three other vessels also surrendered to the Union forces.

So, as you can see, Bayport was a hotbed of activity.

Never Heard of This Action. --Old B-Runner

Sunday, July 19, 2009

USS Weehawken-- Part 2

Again, the Weehawken only served in the Union Navy for less than a year.

On April 27, 1863, it led the fleet against Confederate defenses in Charleston Harbor and was hit 53 times and had a torpedo blow up under her, but suffered no real damage.

After repairs, the Weehawken was posted to Wassaw Sound, Georgia, and while there, June 17th, along with the monitor USS Nahant, forced the ironclad CSS Atlanta to surrender. In July, it participated in the attack on Fort Wagner on Morris Island. Then on September 7th, the Weehawken grounded near Fort Sumter and was seriously damaged by gunfire before getting off.

Repaired again, while moored on a moderate gale on December 6, 1863, the ship sank bow first in five minutes in thirty feet of water. Four officers and 27 men died. A Court of Inquiry was held. It was found that the Weehawken had recently taken on board an amount of heavy ammunition in its forward compartments. This reduced the forward free board, causing water to enter an open hawse pipe and hatch.

So, That's the Story. --B-Runner

Friday, July 17, 2009

USS Weehawken-- Part 1

While writing yesterday's Charleston Harbor search, I noticed the name of a Union monitor, the USS Weehawken, which sank off Charleston. I'd heard of it somewhere, but realized that not only did I not know it had sunk by Charleston, but I couldn't place it.

So, Wikipedia, here I come.

The USS Weehawken was a Passaic Class Monitor commissioned January 18, 1863 and served almost 11 months before meeting its fate, sinking while at anchor December 6, 1863. It weighed 1,173 tons, was 200 feet long and had a 46 foot beam. Its armament consisted of a 15-inch smooth bore and an 11-inch Dahlgren smooth bore.

It was one of the few Union ironclads to actually engage a Confederate ironclad in battle.

After commissioning, it joined the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron. On its way from the north, it encountered a major storm off the New Jersey coast, but rode it out easily thanks to improvements that had been made since the original Monitor. This is especially surprising considering its eventual fate.

More Coming. --Blockade-R

Fort Fisher-- One Hundred Years Ago-- Part 2

I am sure that Reverend Smith would be very pleased to see what has been done to preserve his fort in the last 100 years, and especially since the 1960s. All that undergrowth has been removed and even one of the batteries has been restored. There is an excellent museum and walking tour.

I was surprised that the sea face was already mostly gone by 1909. I'd always heard that some of it had been washed away, but that most of the loss came after US-421 was constructed in the 1930s. Material was removed from offshore that had more or less kept the beach from washing away. After that, there was rapid deterioration.

I think another interesting book could be written about the fort starting with the day after its capture.

I sure hope the Star News keeps doing these interesting Look Backs.

The Reverend Would Be So Proud. --B-R'er

Fort Fisher-- One Hundred Years Ago

The Wilmington Star News has been running columns taken from the newspaper dating back 100 years ago called "Back Then."

The July 15th one went back to 1909, 44 years after the fort fell to Union forces January 15, 1865.

There were still plenty of Civil War veterans around, and many who had valiantly defended the fort.

July 5, 1909, the Reverend J. A. Smith and Mr. William Mayo, 80, had spent a day at Fort Fisher trying to locate the boundaries of the battle.

Reverend Smith wrote:

"The sea face of the old fort is about gone but the land face is in a pretty good state of preservation, but this is not apparent to the visitor who is ignorant of the situation. This, owing to the fact that all of the old mounds and batteries on the land face are completely hidden from view by trees, grass, and undergrowth of all kinds....

Some of the best and bravest men of the Old North State fall at Fort Fisher and they are buried there today in the marshes forgotten and no slab to indicate hat they fell there....

We stood with our aged companion in front of Fisher's bloody gate, where my company lost 85 percent in killed and wounded....

We, the survivors of both sides, are fixed and determined to have a National Park down there.... In the present condition of the fort we would be ashamed to carry a visitor there and it would be almost an impossibility to give a stranger a clear concise idea of the position occupied by various troops that fought the battle."

An Interesting Look After the Battle. My Comments Next. --Old B-Runner

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Some More on Charleston Harbor Search-- Part 2

Torpedoes (mines) were scattered about the harbor. Frame torpedoes were ones that were put on wooden frames. The remains of these are a major thing that the divers are looking for.

A search was also made of the Fort Wagner battlefield which is largely if not all under water now. Washed out to sea or under rocks as a result of late 1800s jetties built in the area. Lots of magnetic material was found in the area, no doubt from the 54-day bombardment that took place in 1863, and it is the site of the 54th Massachusetts' charge as shown in the movie "Glory."

The study is to help preserve whatever is left, but also to protect new ships which are getting heavier and draw more water. It would be too bad if something from almost 150 years ago were to sink or damage something from today.

Always to Preserve. --B-Runner

Some More on Charleston Harbor Search-- Part 1

From the March 14th Charleston (SC) Post & Courier.

There are dozens of wrecks located in and around Charleston Harbor.

Marion, a blockade-runner, that his a mine and sank-- oops, that was one of ours.
USS Weehawken-- Monitor-class
USS Patapsco-- Passaic-class Monitor
Blockade-runners Raccoon, Georgiana, Minho, and Stono
USS Housatonic-- sunk by you-know who
Great Stone Fleet-- sunk by the Union Navy to block the harbor.

The USS Patapsco is between Fort Sumter and Sullivan's Island and buried in the sand.

More blockade-runners are expected to be found on, that's right, ON, Sullivan's Island. They originally sank offshore, but jetties caused the beach to fill in.

Not Finished Yet. --B-R'er

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

New Book on Fort Fisher

For many years there were no studies on what I regard as a one of the principal battles of the Civil War, Fort Fisher. I, at one time seriously considered being that author and was in the process of doing research. But, not so any more. There are quite a few around, and a new one coming out soon.

Chris Fonvielle, Jr, a professor at UNC-Wilmington, has just had "Louis Froeling-- Armsmaker of the Confederacy" published, written along with John W. McAden, Jr. And, he is currently working on "Fort Fisher Illustrated" which will be a collection of photographs, many taken shortly after the fort's capture by Timothy H. O'Sullivan.

It will be printed by NC Starburst Press, a subsidiary of SlapDash Publishing.

I met Chris was back in the 80s when he was still running things at the Blockade-Runner Museum in Carolina Beach, NC, and he had an unbelievable collection of pictures of the old fort at that time. All these years later, it should really be something else.

Give Me More Fort Fisher, Please. --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Fort Pike Reopens

The June 11th New Orleans Times-Picayune reported that Fort Pike was to reopen that day. It was built between 1818 and 1821 as a defense for the city.

In 1861, Confederates took it over and held it until Union troops took the city in 1862. During the rest of the Civil War it was used as a base for raids along the Gulf Coast and Lake Pontchartrain. It was abandoned in 1890, after never having fired a shot war. In 1972, it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

It is now connected by US Highway 90 near what is called the Rigolets It was decaying before Hurricane Katrina, whose storm surge completely submerged it. Reopened in 2008 and then Hurricane Gustav closed it again.

Lots of debris was removed and repairs made, and, on June 11th, Lt. Gov. Mitch Landview officially reopened it.

And I Had Never Heard of This Fort Before. --Old B-Runner

Monday, July 13, 2009

Running the Blockade: Mars Bluff-- Big Flag-- Confederate Ships at Savannah

Some New News About an Old War.

1. MARS BLUFF-- Christopher Amer, South Carolina's underwater archaeologist from the University of South Carolina says that the Mars Bluff site has been explored since the 1990s. From 1863 to 1965, naval ships were built there. The guns from the CSS Pee Dee have been found and divers have also found shells.

2. BIG FLAG-- June 8th, the SCV raised a 25 by 15 foot Confederate flag near Bristol, Tennessee, which can easily be seen from I-81. Two hundred attended the event. I wonder WHO is not going to like this very much?

3. CONFEDERATE SHIPS AT SAVANNAH-- On June 9th, the HMdb (Historical Marker Data Base) spotlighted a marker about ironclads and gunboat that protected the port during the war. It was called the Savannah River Squadron.

Some information: In November 1861, the British-built blockade-runner Fingal arrived in Savannah and was quickly converted into an ironclad. The CSS Georgia was called the "Ladies Gunboat" and was commissioned in November 1862. The CSS Savannah was completed in 1863 and blown up when the city was evacuated in December 1864. It would have looked like the CSS Chicora at Charleston as it was a Richmond Class Ironclad. Two other gunboats at Savannah were the CSS Isondiga and CSS Macon.

Thanks Guys. --Old B-Runner

Saturday, July 11, 2009

USS Tecumseh Memorial Planned-- Part 2

Randy Atkins hopes to have the memorial in place by the time of the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Mobile Bay, August 5, 2014. He was in Tecumseh, Oklahoma, last week drumming up support from the town and county as well as local Indian Nation.

The fact that just a single buoy marks the spot bothers him greatly.

After the Tecumseh sank August 5, 1864, it was largely forgotten until the US government sold salvage rights to a local firm for $50 which planned on using explosives to break it apart. However, relatives of the dead crew organized and it did not come to pass.

In 1974, there was thought of raising it. About 90% of the ship is covered with mud and as such, it is in excellent condition. However, it was estimated the project would cost $10 million so it was dropped. Today it would cost $80 million to raise.

An estimated 500,000 artifacts are aboard along with two 15-inch Dahlgren guns. In 1967, the Smithsonian Institution dove on the wreck and recovered the ship's anchor and dishes from the wreck.

Hats Off to Mr. Atkins!! --B-Runner

Heading Out to the Civil War

A few hours from now, I'll be on the road going out to the Wauconda, Illinois, Civil War Re-enactment, billed as the largest in northern Illinois.

We have rain in the forecast and it did rain last night. Hopefully we won't have a monsoon like we had last September in Lake Villa when all the soldiers just floated away.

This is, as I said before, the 20th anniversary of our Camp Douglas #1507 Camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans and we will again be out there spreading the word. This has been the largest SCV camp north of the Ohio River for many years until one close to the river surpassed us. Plus, we may or may not have been passed by a camp here in Illinois (also way down south), but there are many differing thoughts on the subject.

Yesterday, I went to Wauconda and helped the camp commander and his daughter put up our tent. As usual, we got the primo site near all the action and on the main walk, across from the sutlers.

After the event closes, the camp will have a bbq out at a compatriot's home in Marengo.

Getting My Civil War On. --B-R'er

Friday, July 10, 2009

USS Tecumseh Memorial Planned-- Part 1

From the Tecumseh Countywide News, July 9th, Tecumseh, Oklahoma. "Drive Begins to Recognize Lost Crew of USS Tecumseh."

The USS Tecumseh, a Civil War Monitor ironclad sits at the bottom of Mobile Bay near where it sank off Fort Morgan as Admiral Farragut was running past the fort. His order to proceed full-speed ahead, regardless of torpedoes (mines) was followed, and the Tecumseh hit one and rapidly sank, taking 93 of her crew down. Only 20 escaped.

With few exceptions, it has mostly been forgotten, until now.

Randy Atkins visited Fort Morgan in 1986 and was surprised that only a single buoy marks the final resting place of the gallant crew. He has been back several times and now has permission to build a memorial. What he needs is money, which is estimated to be at between $5,000 and $250,000 depending upon how elaborate it will be.

He has a website at

Best of Luck to You Mr. Atkins. --Old B-Runner

Thursday, July 9, 2009

New River Bridge Fortifications

The March 8th Bluffton (SC) Today had an article about two Confederate fortifications located on the Jasper County side of the New River at the SC-46 bridge. Two pentagon-shaped forts with 12-foot parapets were built there in 1862 as a northern defense of Savannah.

There are embrasures for cannons, but records show that only two 12-pdrs were placed. The forts were guarded by a company from the 47th Georgia.

They are on private property and can easily be seen from the road on both sides and are well-preserved. They are presently in danger of being destroyed.

A nice photo accompanied the article.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Frying Pan Light Tower

Frying Pan Shoals was a major reason the Union fleet had such difficulty blockading Wilmington during the Civil War. Its length and treacherous waters caused the fleet to have to cover a huge tract of water, and then there were the two entrances to the Cape Fear River.

For many years after the war, a lightship marked the shoals location, but then it was replaced by a light tower which was recently auctioned off, and then the deal fell through.

The tower consists of 5,000 square feet of living space and world-class fishing, but years of exposure have seriously rusted the structure and there is a problem with lead paint. Plus, it is 35 miles from land and difficult to visit. It will take many thousands of dollars to make habitable.

Two groups known as 'hunley" and "big gun" had a bidding war. It was speculated that "hunley" was the National Underwater Marine Agency group headed by Clive Cusler, the man given credit for finding the Confederate submarine Hunley. and that they might want it for a base for underwater wreck research.

Bidding started at $10,000 and got to $515,000 before being won by Lee Spence in March. But in April, the deal fell through.

Oh, Give Me a Home Where the Fishies Do Roam. --B-R'er

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Pender County, NC's Namesake

I just spent four days at Topsail Beach in Pender County and never realized the county is named for William Dorsey Pender, a Confederate general who's life was cut short by a mortal wound received by a Union shell fragment fired from Cemetery Hill on the second day of the Battle of Gettysburg.

Pender was born in 1834 and died July 18, 1863 and is considered one of the South's youngest and most promising generals. He was born at Pender's Crossroads, NC, and attended the US Military Academy at West Point, graduating in 1854. He is buried at Cavalry Church Cemetery in Tarboro, NC, Edgecombe County. Pender's Crossroads was also in Edgecombe County.

In 1875, a part of New Hanover County broke off and was named in his honor, thanks to the efforts of Dr. Elisha Porter, who had served under him in the war. The same day the county came into being, he and his wife welcomed a son into the world, whom they named Pender Porter.

During World War II, a Liberty Ship was also named in the general's honor, the SS Wiliam D. Pender. It was built at the North Carolina Shipbuilding Company yards in Wilmington and scrapped in 1960 at Baltimore. Its engines came from the General Machinery Corporation in Hamilton, Ohio.

On May 27, 1914, the United Daughters of the Confederacy dedicated a monument to Pender in Burgaw, the county seat. It first stood at the corner of Wright and Freeman streets and in 1951 was moved to the side of the square. It has since been moved a third time for better visibility.

From Wikipedia and WWAY Channel 3 ABC News.

Something I Didn't Know. --Old B-R

Civil War Days in Wauconda, Illinois-- Part 2

Wauconda is located about 45 miles northwest of Chicago. Cost is $8 a day for the two day event, or $12 for both days.

One new thing this year, one hour guided tours are offered of the campsites of both Union and Confederate troops. This is great for those who have questions about what they see, but, of course, you can always ask the re-enactors themselves who will be only too happy to explain.

There will be skirmish (small battle) on Saturday and then a big one on Sunday. Saturday, there will be a twilight firing of assembled cannons. If you have never seen or felt the power of these guns, it is quite an experience, especially in the dark.

The Lincolns, generals, and Sojourner Truth will also be on hand. Items can be bought at the various sutler (souvenir shops) and food and drinks will be available.

Hopefully, our counter parts, the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War will be on hand as well.

Our Camp Douglas Camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans represents the Chicagoland area of the Illinois Division. There are five other camps scattered around the state, which is part of the Arrmy of the Tennessee, SCV.

Taking a Trip Back. --Blockade-R

Monday, July 6, 2009

20th Anniversary of Camp Douglas, SCV

This Thursday will mark the 20th year of Confederates in Chicagoland area as Camp Douglas #1507 Camp of the Sons of Confederate veterans was chartered on July 9, 1989. This was mostly through the efforts of Andy Wilson. He certainly went above and beyond to accomplish this and we owe him a lot.

Two original members still belong, Illinois Division Commander James F. Barr and yours truly.

It was originally named the Andrew Jackson Eaton Camp. As plans for the camp moved forward, compatriots were asked to submit names. Most wanted Camp Douglas to honor the 6,000 plus Confederates who died at the infamous prison in Chicago. Names were put in a hat and one drawn, which happened to be Andrew Jackson Eaton. That was the name until that member left the camp, and then it was changed to Camp Douglas.

Our membership usually hovers around fifty, but meetings are difficult because we are spread out over a huge area.

Thanks Andy and Congratulations to Camp Douglas, SCV, on Twenty Great Years. --Old B-Runner

Saturday, July 4, 2009

NOT a Good Day for Us Confeds

Fourth of July and we had our parades, festivals, parties, and fireworks.

Happy 233rd birthday to the US.

However, July 4th was not a good day for us Confeds as you could say it was definitely the beginning of the end. Between Robert E. Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia beginning its retreat from Gettysburg and the surrender of Vicksburg, this double blow was something nthe new nation could not overcome.

The Good and the Not So Good. --B-Runner

Civil War Days in Wauconda, Illinois

It's the 18th annual Civil War Days in Wauconda at the Lakewood Forest Preserve at the intersection of Fairfield Road and Il. Highway 176, and I'll be there helping to man the Camp Douglas table of the Sons of Confederate Veterans on Saturday and perhaps Sunday July 11th and 12th.

This is a good way to get our name out before the public and to recruit new members as well. Plus, I get my Civil War "thing" on and get some fun immersion.

This is billed as the largest Civil War Re-enactment in Northern Illinois, annually drawing 600 participants from seven states and 5,000 visitors.

Get Me to the War on Time. --Old B-Runner

Friday, July 3, 2009

Peoria Embraces Civil War Connection

The July 1st Chicago Daily Herald had an article about Peoria, Illinois' Civil War connections.

Col. William Augustus Thrush is buried in Peoria's Springdale Cemetery. He was Peoria's first major officer killed in the war. While attending Oberlin College in Ohio, he joined the 7th Ohio and later became a battlefield correspondent for his native Peoria. He wrote of a clash with Confederate cavalry, but 6 months later, at age 24, he was wounded March 23, 1862 and died April 7th.

His body was returned to Peoria and placed in a vault until cemetery trustees made good on a promise to set up a burial plot for soldiers. Col. Thrush was either the first, or among the first to be buried in the section known as Soldiers Hill.

This year is the 100th anniversary of the GAR Hall, and, of course, Lincoln's 200th of his birth. Lincoln visited Peoria at least 17 times before the war. Springdale Cemetery was founded in 1854.

The Peoria Historical Society now has a trolley tour that focuses on the city's Civil War aspects. They have a focus on the 77th Illinois regiment formed by men from the city and surrounding area. They fought at Vicksburg and Mobile Bay.

Always Good When a Northern City Gets Involved With Its Civil War Heritage. We All Know That Southern Towns Do. --B-Runner

There Goes Gen. W.H.L. Wallace

The June 1st Ottawa (Il) Times had an article about the possible slide into a ravine that might be taken by home town hero of the Battle of Shiloh, W.H.L. Wallace, that will take place if action is not soon taken.

His troops held off successive Confederate attacks at the Hornet's Nest for hours giving US forces a chance to regroup and eventually win the battle. In the process, Wallace was mortally wounded. After he died, his body was returned to Ottawa and buried on the family plot on the north edge of the city. The 40 by 60 foot plot is in bad need of repair and is on the edge of a steep ravine with the possibility of the whole thing going over the edge.

His father-in-law, T. Lyle Dickey, also a Union officer, and horse Prince (ridden into battle by Wallace) are also buried on the site. Both men were acquaintances of Lincoln. In 1941, the state bought his home, The Oaks and land, and turned it into a museum which was later closed. The relics were eventually lost. The state turned the cemetery over to the Ottawa Avenue Cemetery Board for care. Now, that group says they can't afford the upkeep or expense of reinforcing the land to prevent the slide.

There has been consideration of removing the graves to the main cemetery, but nothing has been done yet.

This Wallace is not the General Lew Wallace who later wrote "Ben Hur." Union General Prentiss took credit for stopping the Confederates at the Hornet's Nest.

Let's Hope Something Gets Done Before the Slide. --Old B-R

Thursday, July 2, 2009

No Marching For You!!

Let's file this under things that really burn my butt.

The May 22nd Morehead (Ky) News reported that the Morehead Sons of Confederate Veterans Camp were not allowed to march in the Ironton, Ohio Memorial Day parade. No reason was given at the time for the refusal.

But, later, the coordinator of the event said that only the US flag should be flown and he had a problem with Confederate uniforms and memorabilia.

The SCV camp marched in the Morehead parade instead.

So Much for Sensitivity. --Old B-R

More on the CSS Pee Dee

The May 22nd WJBF TV had a video and report on the work at the Mars Bluff Confederate Naval Yard in South Carolina as well as the CSS Pee Dee.

In an area the size of a football field, archaeologists and students from three colleges are looking for footprints of up to 14 buildings from the naval yard. A $200,000 grant from the Drs. Bruce and Lee Foundation is funding the project.

The CSS Pee Dee was a 170-foot gunboat built at the yard in 1865 on the east side of the Pee Dee River. It went to Cherew, SC, later that year to cover Lt. Gen. William Hardee's crossing of the river. When it returned, it was scuttled to prevent capture and the three cannons thrown overboard.

Sure Looking Forward to Seeing Those Cannons. --B-Runner

Running the Blockade: Not the Civil War, But...-- Ozark Thing-- Oops-- Ouch

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

1. NOT THE CIVIL WAR, BUT...-- Ok, these two items don't really have to deal with the Civil War, but they're close to Fort Fisher, NC. Glad to see a Ferris wheel back at Carolina Beach and I think it is near the boardwalk area, and not out by US-421 like the old Jubilee Park.

Life guards are back at Fort Fisher Beach after almost being victims of the state budget crunch.

2. OZARK THING-- The Springfield (Mo) News Leader reports that the site has over 2,500 scanned Civil War era documents now available online. Written ones are also typewritten and they are divided into groups according to interest. It took two years of work.

I've been to the site. Great job, folks.

3. OOPS-- The June 26th NY Times reports that Thomas Lord, 74, a Civil War renactor who was shot in the back September 27th by Josh O. Silva, 29, has had his day in court. Silva pleaded guilty at the Isle of Wight Court on condition of a $1,200 restitution to Lord and that he attend a firearms safety class.

Watch where you're aiming!!

4. OUCH-- The Gettysburg Battlefield Museum, which was originally intended to be free, has announced a ticket hike to $10.50.

Who Says It's an Old War? --Old B-Runner

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Fort Massachusetts and USS Massachusetts

Fort Massachusetts is part of the National Park Service on West Ship Island, off the coast of Mississippi. It is a masonry fort and accessible only by boat or passenger ferry for $24.

The US Navy used it as a base for supplies and repairs, and Farragut's fleet used it as a staging area before the attack on Mobile. At one time, there were 40 buildings and as many as 18,000 troops at the fort and island.

The USS Massachusetts was built in 1860 and purchased by the US Navy in 1861 and sent to the Gulf of Mexico where it captured several blockade runners and helped recapture Ship Island.

After that, it carried supplies and personnel in the Atlantic and, on March 19, 1865, struck a mine in Charleston Harbor which failed to explode.

The article stated that there was not a name for the fort on Ship Island before the war and that it might have been named for the ship. I find it hard to believe the US government would go through the expense of building a stone fort and not have a name for it.

Which Came First, the Fort or the Ship. --Blockade-R