The Battle of Fort Fisher, N.C.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

"Big Red" Found?

October 2nd Charleston (SC) Post and Courier.

The Citadel University in Charleston believes it has located the original "Big Red", its Civil War flag that flew over its cadets on Morris Island when they fired upon the Star of the West which many consider as the actual opening shots of the Civil War, not the April 12, 1861 firing on Fort Sumter.

It was found in an Iowa museum to which it was donated by Willard Baker, a Union veteran in 1919. It has been in a storage closet ever since. The State Historical Society of Iowa owns it and now discussion are under way for its return.

Baker said he had gotten it in Mobile, Alabama, at the end of the war, but never gave the actual story. He had been in a unit involved in the capture of Fort Blakely near Alabama.

Captain James Culpepper, an 1854 Citadel graduate, and his battery were at Blakely. He was a student of Major Peter F. Stevens, who had been the Citadel's superintendent during the Star of the West incident.

In 1861, Hugh Vincent's family had designed the 10 by 7 foot flag and presented it to Stevens between January 1st and 4th, 1861 to be used by the Citadel cadets. It is likely that Culpepper had it at Fort Blakely.

Its location became known when a woman posted information about it on the internet in 2004 and a Citadel alumnus saw it.

Hope They Get It Back. --B-R'er

Hotz and the Hermit

Amy Hotz's December 28th column in the Wilmington (NC) Star-News "A Hermit's Walk at Fort Fisher."

This last Sunday, Star-News reporter Amy Hotz decided to take a walk. She said she decided against Carolina Beach State Park because a police investigation was going on involving a death that took place there recently. So, she drove a bit farther to the Fort Fisher State Recreation Area where she is still upset that people now have to drive on the beach.

So, she walked the Basin Trail. After eight-tenths of a mile she reached the World War II bunker that used to house the Fort Fisher Hermit, Robert E. Harrill.

She looked into the bunker and remembered a story told by her dad. One winter day he had taken Harrill for a ride to the Hardee's and bought him a meal. They had a normal, polite conversation during the meal. However, her dad emphasized that he had to roll the windows down despite the cold because of the Hermit's bad smell.

I remember my Dad taking my brother and me to see the Hermit several times. That old guy really scared me, but his stories were interesting. Plus, he always had something sitting out to collect donations which he often checked.

Quite a Character, That Old Man. --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Staten Island Ferry Goes to Civil War

From Dec. 27th "Staten Island ferry goes to war: The Civil War-era tale of the USS Westfield" by Maura Yates.

A 10,000 pound Dahlgren cannon and other items have been salvaged from the bottom of a Galveston, Texas shipping channel that is going to be deepened. It originally was on the USS Westfield which was a ferry operating by New York City, but purchased by the US Navy in 1861. It participated at the 1862 Battle of New Orleans where it towed a Confederate fire raft away from the fleet.

After that, it served as the flagship of the Union fleet at Galveston. At the January 1, 1863, Battle of Galveston, it was attacked by two Confederate ships and appeared to be on the verge of being captured. The ship's captain, William Renshaw, ordered it blown up. But unfortunately for him, the fuse went off too soon, killing him and thirteen other sailors.

The cannon and five cannon balls were recovered. The Dahlgren will now go through 2-3 years of chemical and electrolyte treatment to preserve it.

Patricia Salmon, author of "The Staten Island Ferry: a History" said the ferries were well-suited for Naval needs along the rivers and waters of the Confederacy. Their shallow draft, sturdiness, and open decks were great for hauling heavy equipment and mounting guns. Plus the open floor plans were good for transporting supplies and caring for wounded soldiers.

After the Westfield joined the Union Navy, a second Westfield ferry was acquired and put into service in 1862. In 1871, a boiler exploded, killing 66 and injuring 200.

The Ship Gives Up a Final Treasure Before Destruction. --Old B-Runner

Monday, December 28, 2009

Confederate Sailor Aboard the CSS Chattahoochee

Dale Cox's Civil War in Florida blog had an entry about Confederate sailor Lorenzo Coonrod who served aboard the CSS Chattahoochee. The Chattahoochee was commissioned January 1, 1863 at the Confederate Naval Yard at Saffold, Georgia, after taking eighteen months to build. It was the most powerful Confederate vessel to operate in Florida waters

Lt. Catesby ap R. Jones was the commander. He and several officers and men had been aboard the CSS Virginia in its famous battle against the USS Monitor in 1862.

Lorenzo Coonrod had been drafted into the Confederate Army but transferred to the Navy. The Chattahoochee took its maiden voyage on the Apalachicola River in January 1863. Coonrod was aboard when the terrible boiler explosion occurred at Blountstown May 27, 1863, during a hurricane, but Lorenzo was uninjured. Eighteen others, however, died.

He was later assigned to the squadron at Savannah, but became ill and spent most of the last year off duty. After the war, he lived in Jackson County and was one of three known former Chattahoochee crew members buried there.

I recommend Mr. Cox's blog which has much information on a state that is usually overlooked.

Confederate Brown Water Navy.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Last Civil War Survivor Dies 50 Years Ago.

The December 26th Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News-Miner had an article about the last Civil War veteran, Walt Williams dying December 19, 1959. He was a Confederate and the last of 4 million Blue and Gray veterans, dying at age 117.

This is especially interesting as we are now down to the last two World War I survivors and there are still possibly some Confederate widows out there.

He was cited by the President, Army and Congress cited the old gentleman who had become the last survivor when "General" John Salling died March 16, 1959 at age 112.

Toward the end, Williams was blind and deaf and unconscious of what was happening around him. He approached his end with dignity. He had once commented on the death of another Civil War survivor, "That's one road we're all going to have to travel."

He was born November b14, 1842 in Mississippi, but had moved to Texas after the war.

The Last of the Gray. --Old B-Runner

Blockade-Runner Discovered in Florida-- Part 2

Continued from December 24th.

Finally, on September 19, 1863, the Union vessels were able to approach the port, they found the steamer and an onshore cotton warehouse ablaze, set by retreating Confederates. Better to destroy the vessel than turn it over to Union forces.

The steamer was described as being over 200 feet long and apparently English-made.

What the Union lost that day has turned into a major find for today's archaeologists.

Amateur diver and archaeologist Matt Mattson found the wreck in 1991, but was unable to determine if it was the steamer from 1863.

Nicole Tumbleson, outreach coordinator for the Florida Public Archaeological Network, returned to the site earlier this year to document and map Civil War-era artifacts in the Bayport area. Using a metal detector, a 70 foot long debris field was found.

Besides the pipe, "pieces of machinery, iron hull plates, charred wood, ceramic fragments of a sink and brass hinges that might have allowed the sink to be folded against the steamer's bulkhead when not in use."

Marine archaeologist Billy Morris says they are about 83% sure this is the vessel they were looking for. Unfortunately, the name of the ship is lost to history.

They are being vague about its location to prevent looting, but they were "so close to the pier that fishermen were practically looking over their shoulders" complete secrecy is impossible.

Another Piece of the Past Found. --Old B-Runner

Friday, December 25, 2009

A Civil War Christmas

According to Wikipedia, Christmas was celebrated both by the Confederate and Union states although it did not become an official holiday until five years after the war ended by order of President Grant who saw it as a means to reunite the two sections.

FIRST CHRISTMAS: December 25, 1861-- the Lincolns hosted an evening Christmas party after he had spend most of the day trying to legitimize the capture of Confederate agents Slidell and Mason in the Trent Affair to Great Britain and France.

SECOND CHRISTMAS: December 25, 1862-- Lincoln visited injured soldiers in various hospitals around Washington.

THIRD CHRISTMAS: December 25, 1863-- many injured soldiers received gifts "From Tad Lincoln" of clothes and books in Washington hospitals.


Of course, December 25, 1864, a huge bombardment was directed by 64 Union ships at Fort Fisher, North Carolina. Around 10,000 shells were fired at the earthern fort. Union troops were landed on a beach north of the fort, but withdrew after it was determined the fort was too strong to attack.

A Civil War Christmas. --Old Blockade-Runner

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Blockade-Runner Discovered in Florida-- Part 1

The November 21st had an article by Dan DeWitt "Florida archaeological divers believe they've found Civil War-era steamer off Bayport."

Divers found something old and metallic. Then another found a piece of steam pipe, meaning that this was a steel-hulled steamer, one that they had been looking for. That pipe was about nine inches in diameter, about what you'd find in a side-wheeler steamship.

As Union Naval forces successfully sealed off the major Confederate ports, blockade-running turned more and more to backwater harbors such as Bayport. Every so often these harbors would be raided like the fight that took place off Bayport in April 1863. Five months later, another attack was led on Bayport by Union Lt.-Commander A. A. Semmes, a cousin to Confederate Admiral Raphael Semmes.

They lingered off Bayport for a week, hoping for a tide high enough to allow a steamer they had seen to leave or for them to cross and attack.

To Be Continued. --Old B-Runner

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Butler's Folly at Fort Fisher

It was on this date, December 23, 1864, as a prelude to the first attack, that the powder ship USS Louisiana was towed by the USS Wilderness in close to shore at Fort Fisher, protecting Wilmington, NC, with the intention of blowing up with such force as to knock the fort's earthen walls down.

This was Union General Benjamin Butler, commander of the strike force, idea. Some 215 tons of gunpowder was placed aboard along with an elaborate system of fuses and detonation system.

The ship blew up at 1:40 AM Christmas Eve. The force of the explosion rattled the ships about 12 miles out to sea as well as the fort, but did no dame and came to be called "Butler's Folly."

The First Battle of Fort Fisher. --B-Runner

What's Beneath Fortress Monroe?

From the October 2nd Newport News (Va) Daily Press.

The military is turning Fortress Monroe over to civilians in 2011. Before doing so, the grounds have to be thoroughly checked for potentially hazardous materials. They expect to find everything from Civil War artillery shells to cans of Miller Lite.

The fort was built in the 1800s, but military structures predate it by 200 years, back to when Captain John Smith built Fort Algemoume in 1609 at the site to protect Jamestown. Earlier this past summer, a probe found about 3,000 unknown metal objects that needed to be investigated. The search will also cover areas outside the fort.

What's in an Old Fort. --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Civil War's Forgotten Fort

It was standing at the time, but no action took place there unless the Union garrison was partying at Sloppy Joe's on Duvall Street. Well, maybe Sloppy Joe's wasn't there at the time.

The fort in question was none other than Fort Zachary Taylor which has one of the best beaches in the Keys, even if locals won't tell you about it. Lots of recreational activities as well as a park.

In all the times I've been to Key West, and even the few I remember, I don't think I was ever there.

It was once nicknamed Fort Forgotten in keeping with the theme. Named for a president who spent very little time in office before dying, construction started in 1845 and it was still incomplete when the war started, but served as base of operations for the Union's blockade, the East Gulf Blockading Squadron if I remember correctly.

It was also occupied by troops during the Spanish-American War and both world wars. After 1945, it was abandoned and fell into disrepair until restoration efforts began in 1968. Currently, a Friends of Fort Zachary Taylor are involved in making the fort less forgotten.

Excavations have found one of the larger numbers of Civil War era cannons anywhere. In 1971, it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

From November 25th Keys Voices.

Fort Zachary Who? --Old B-Runner

Talking About the CSS Georgia

A recent entry on Craig Swann's To the Sound of Guns blog about Civil War battlefields and markers was about a cannon recovered from the CSS Georgia and the ship itself.

Mike Stroud of Bluffton, SC, went to Fort Jackson outside Savannah, Georgia to take pictures of the CSS Georgia's cannon. The ship was sunk by Confederates right off the fort when Sherman was about to occupy the city.

A 24-pounder Howitzer has been recovered from the Georgia. It likely was mounted over the forward spar deck and used for close quarter action. Mike got lots of close up shots of it.


That pretty well describes the history of the CSS Georgia. It was built with money raised by the Ladies Gunboat Association of Savannah and launched in May 1862. The ship was a part of the Savannah River Squadron.

It had the capability of carrying ten cannons: four on each broadside and one fore and one aft. The ship was severely underpowered and essentially served as a floating battery, moored by Fort Jackson. The cause was the use of railroad iron being used instead of rolled iron which caused the vessel to be too heavy.

It was scuttled December 10, 1864.

Also recovered from the ship is a 32-pounder rifled and banded Navy gun. Three other guns are still in the wreck: a 6-pounder cannon, VIII-inch Navy shell gun and another banded 32-pounder.

For some good pictures:

Looking Forward to These Being Recovered. Maybe put one in the CSS Neuse II in Kinston, NC. --Old B-Runner

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Blue and the Gray

The October 1st Nashville Tennessean reported that the son of a Union soldier who fought at Franklin and the son of a Confederate soldier who fought at Gettysburg will meet at the October 10th funeral of a Union soldier.

Harold Becker, 91, of Rockford, Michigan, whose father Charles Conrad Becker fought at Franklin with the 128th Indiana and Jim F. Brown, Sr., 97, of Knoxville, whose father was in the 8th Georgia, will be at the ceremony honoring the unknown Union soldier.

Part of a skeleton was found along with a bullet, brass buttons and a glass bead were accidentally unearthed by a construction crew at the site of the Battle of Franklin which was fought November 39, 1864.

The service will be at St. Paul's Episcopalian Church October 10th and the burial service at Rest Haven Cemetery in Franklin.

The Blue and the Gray Together. --Old B-Runner

Saturday, December 19, 2009

And, Speaking of the Battle of Galveston

A little while back I was wondering about the progress of work on the USS Westfield which was blown up at the Battle of Galveston during the Civil War.

I came across a report by TV News station KBTZ about the Dahlgren cannon which has been brought to the surface and is now being preserved.

There was also an interesting video along with the story at

Texas A & M's Riverside campus has one of the foremost facilities to pereserve objects brought up from the sea called the Conservation Research Center.

On December 10th, they showed off their latest project, the five ton Dahlgren cannon raised from the wreck of the USS Westfield, which was blown up January 1, 1863. Now, 146 years later, it is once again above water.

Some 1201 of these cannons were made during the war and the recovery of this one brings the number remaining to 50.

Technically, the cannon still belongs to the US Navy, so it will be up to them to determine the gun's final destination.

Always Great to recover Something from the Sea. --B-Runner

Battle of Galveston Observed

Especially of interest because of the work on the sunken USS Westfield and raising of the Dahlgren cannon in the last months.

The Galveston Historical Foundation will be offering tours both on land and sea to commemorate the upcoming anniversary of the Battle of Galveston which occurred January 1, 1863.

Galveston had been held by Union forces since October 1862, but a joint Confederate land and sea attack this date took it back and Galveston remained under Confederate control for the rest of the war.

A Confederate fleet, including ships protected by bales of cotton called cottonclads attacked the 8 ship Union fleet, driving it off with the loss of the Harriet Land and destruction of the Westfield. Union losses in the battle were 150 casualties. Confederates 26 killed and 117 wounded.

Tours will include walking, a cemetery, driving and harbor ones.

The tours will be held January 8th to 10th.

Probably Warmer Than Here in Illinois As Well. --Old B-Runner

Friday, December 18, 2009

Chicago's Lincoln Park Not Always a Park

In 2008, WBBM 2, CBS, reported on what Lincon Park was before it became a place to visit the history museum, go to the zoo, and rest and play.

In the 1850s, it was a 57 acre cemetery in which eventually 2000 cholera victims and 4000 Confederates and 30,000 others were buried. Today, only the Couch family tomb remains of the cemetery. The rest have been removed, but a lot weren't.

Six historical markers were installed in May 2008 to give the story.

It was called the Old City Cemetery. The Confederate soldiers died at Camp Douglas and were buried at Potters Field east of the deeded lots. This is where the poor and indigent were interred. Of the 57 acres, only bodies in 12 were exhumed.

So now, when you're walking around or playing on the grounds of the park, there is a good chance that human remains might be a short distance below your feet.

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

Delaware Confederates

The May 11, 2008, DelawareOnline.

William Bruce Martin, a native of New Castle, Delaware, was just 17 when he fought for the Confederacy. He was a descendant of Declaration of Independence signer George Reed. He was one of 257 cadets from the Virginia Military Academy who fought at the Battle of New Market in 1864.

he was recognized by the Delaware Grays, the state's camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans which has about 35 members across the state. It took a year to pin down his service record and his name is the 67th on the list the group is compiling of the estimated 2000 from the state who served in the Confederacy.

They're All Over the Place. --Old B-R'er

Monitors Sold Turn of the Century

That would be after 1900.

1900 USS Natuckett

1901 USS Catskill

1902 USS Mahopac March 25th At Fort Fisher. Hit eight times seconnd attack.
USS Manhattan March 24th

1903 USS Onondaga

1904 USS Montauk April 14th
USS Nahant April 16th
USS Sangamon April 16th
USS Lehigh April 14th

1908 USS Canonicus at Fort Fisher

Again, too bad no one had the foresight to preserve one of these revolutionary ships.

Come On Guys, Save Something!!! --Old B-Runner

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Other Monitors Sold in 1874

It appears that the US Navy was hell-bent to get rid of its ships nine years after the war was over.

Other monitors sold in 1874:

USS Agamenticus-- double turret
USS Chino-- Casco Class-- single turret, never saw action in war
USS Cohoes-- sold July 1874-- Casco Class-- single turret-- under construction when war ended.

USS Etlah-- sold September 12th-- never commissioned
USS Koka-- sold October 1874--Casco Class-- launched May 1865, broken up 1874 for use in the building of USS Amphitrite. Hull of this ship scrapped 1952.

USS Monadnock-- double turret monitor-- saw action both battles of Fort Fisher. Struck 5 times second battle. 1874 the wooden hull broken up in a program to rebuild Civil War era monitors into modern ones. Rebuilt completely, but still called the USS Monadnock. Served in Spanish-American War.

USS Tunxis-- Casco Class
USS Umpqua-- Casco Class

Again, Too Bad They Were Sold. At Least One Should Have Been Kept. --Old B-Runner

Interesting 18th North Carolina Story

While stationed in South Carolina, Corporal William H. McLaurin, standing corporal of the guard along a coastal stream, received word about Yankees assembling nearby.

They could not be seen, but their splashing could be heard as they came ashore.

Tension among the troops were increasing and preparation for battle under way until it was discovered that the noise came from porpoises splashing along the banks.

Something Mighty Fishy Here. --Old B-R

Way Back Then

If you're like me, you are interested in how people approached the Civil War in the years after it was fought.

The December 16th Chattanoogan reported that the reprint of Charles W. Norwood's 1895
Vade-Mecum Guide to the Battled of Chattanooga and Chickamauga is once again available.

Chickamauga was the very first US Civil War military park, established in 1890, so this was only five years later.

It was written by C, W, Norwood, 1st Sgt and Quartermaster of the Union Army who said he had spent much time checking on the book's accuracy.

Much effort was put into this reprint. Mary Helm bought the missing map fron the book at her own expense. Polly Stratton spend 200 hours checking every letter of every word to make sure of accuracy.

You can buy it for $12.95 from the library at 1001 Broad Street, Chattanooga, Tennessee, 37402.

From December 15th Civil War Interactice.

This Would Be of Interest, Especially as Compared to a New Guide. --Old B-Runner

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Civil War Era Wreck Found in Lake Ontario

The December 15th reported that two divers discovered the wreck of a Civil War-era schooner, the C. Reeve, this past summer. It is off the southern shore of Lake Ontario, west of Rochester.

The 119 foot long, twin masted schooner was built in 1853 and sits mostly upright on the lake's bottom with the main mast still erect.

At the time of the sinking, it was carrying 13,500 bushels of corn from Chicago to Oswego, when, on November 22, 1862, it collided with the schooner Exchange, a Lake Erie-bound schooner loaded with salt.

The C. Reeve sank rapidly, but the crew was saved.

There was no mention as to whether the Exchange sank or not.

It will be interesting to see what they bring up from the wreck.

Always Great to Find Something Lost. --B-Runner

Other Casualties in Hill's Division at Chancellorsville

Brig. Gen Henry Heth (wounded)
Brig. Gen Dorsey Pender (wounded)
Brig. Gen Samuel McGowan (wounded)

Two colonels mortally wounded and three others wounded

One lt. col killed and four wounded

Two majors killed

One captain killed, one mortally wounded

Hard Fighting for Hill's Division of Jackson's Corps. --Old B-R

Chancellorsville Rough on Lane's Brigade

The 18th North Carolina was in Brigadier General James Lane's Brigade at the Battle of Chancellorsville as a part of A. P. Hill's Light Division and Jackson's Second Army Corps.

The battle was quite hard on the brigade's officer corps.

7th NC
Col. Edward G. Haywood (wounded)
Lt. Col. Junius Hill (killed)
Major William L. Davidson (wounded)

18th NC
Col. Thomas J. Purdie (killed)
Lt. Col. Forney George (wounded)

33rd NC
Col. Clark M. Avery (wounded)

37th NC
Col. William M. Barbour (wounded)

Every colonel was put out of service.

War is Hell. --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Battle Flag of the 18th North Carolina-- Part 2

The battleflag has the names of the following engagements written in white:

Cedar Run, Mechanicksville, Hanover, Manassas, Cold Harbor, Frazier's Farm, Ox Hill, Harper's Ferry are on the front.

On the back: Manassas Junction, Sharpsburg, Shephedstown, Malvern Hill.

Of interest, in early 1863, the five North Carolina regiments of the Branch-Lane Brigade received new battle flags which had battle honors painted in white instead of the usual blue or black. They were also on both sides.

Forward the Flag!! --Blockade-R

Battle Flag of 18th North Carolina Infantry-- Part 1

On May 3, 1863, the day that Col. Purdie died, the flag of the 18th North Carolina was captured by the 7th New Jersey at the Battle of Chancellorsville. It is currently on display at the North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh.

At the Battle of Chancellorsville, the 18th lost 34 killed, 99 wounded and 21 missing.

The NC Museum of History had this press release June 18, 2008 which also included pictures of the front and back of the 18th's flag.

It was captured May 3, 1863, when the regiments color-bearer, Corporal Owen J. Eakins of New Hanover County was killed.

Its existence was not known until Dr. Tom Walsh, a New Jersey college professor wrote the museum a letter. He had gotten it in the 1970s and it is believed it had several owners before that.

He loaned it to the museum which conserved it and put it on display in 1993. He then offered to donate part of the value of it and the museum paid the remainder of it. It is currently on display in "A Call to Arms: North Carolina Military History Gallery."

Fly That Flag!! --Old B-Runner

Colonel Purdie's Burial

The commander of the 18th North Carolina, Colonel Purdie was shot dead the day after Jackson was wounded. By coincidence, he was buried the same day that Jackson died from pneumonia brought on by his accidental wounding back on May 3, 1863 at the Battle of Chancellorsville.

Mrs. Elizabeth Ellis Robeson wrote in her diary May 11, 1863, "I hear today that Col. Purdie was killed in battle last Sunday, 3rd of May. I spent the day with Mrs. Purdie, she is in great trouble. I deeply sympathize with her family. 9th-the Col's remains were brought up by the Hurt and were interred on Sunday the 10th- a large congregation attended...."

A Brave Leader. --B-R

Monday, December 14, 2009

General Jackson's Wounding

I have been writing about the 18th North Carolina, Colonel Purdie and John Decatur Barry lately, and a lot of that was tied up with the wounding of General Jackson, so I decided to go into some detail on the event.

According to Wikipedia, as Jackson and his staff were returning to camp on May 2, 1863, they passed in front of the 18th North Carolina, who mistook them for Union cavalry in the darkness. They challenged with, "Halt! Who goes there?". Before the reply could be evaluated, shots rang out.

The staff frantically tried to identify themselves when Major Barry replied, "It's a damned Yankee trick! Fire!" A second volley and Jackson received three wounds, two to his left arm and one to his right hand.

Several other staff members were killed as were some horses. Darkness and confusion prevented General Jackson from getting immediate care. Dr, Hunter McGuire amputated Jackson's left arm, and he was taken to a local plantation where he died on May 10th of complications from pneumonia.

A Sad Time for the South. --Old B-Runner

18th North Carolina Infantry-- Part 2

On Saturday's entry, I began telling about the 18th NC Infantry regiment.

The regiment was then sent to South Carolina on March 14, 1862, and returned to Wilmington, then Kinston, NC. At a reorganization, Robert Cowan was elected colonel and Thomas Purdie Lt.-Colonel.

It was Purdie that gave the order to fire at the Battle of Chancellorsville in 1863 that resulted in the wounding of General Jackson.

The following day, May 3rd, Colonel Purdie was shot in the head and died on the spot. After the battle, First Sergeant Evander Roberson escorted Purdie's remains to Wilmington and then up the Cape Fear River on the steamer A. P. Hurt to his home in Bladen County near Tarheel. He was buried in the family cemetery on the same day Jackson died, May 10, 1863.

The steamer A. P. Hurt was a steel hull, 118 foot long, 6 foot draft, sidewheel ship.

Don't Shoot. --B-Runner

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Selling Off the Monitors

Quite a few old US monitors were sold at an auction held in New Orleans, Louisiana on September 12, 1874.

USS Winnebago which later became the Maneo Capoc in the Peruvian Navy

USS Yuma-- sold to Theodore Allen of New Orleans

USS Chickasaw-- converted to a railroad ferry and later side wheel propulsion

USS Klamath-- never commissioned, sold to be broken up

USS Kickapoo

USS Yazoo-- sold September 5, 1875

Should Have Kept One. --Old B-Runner

8th and 18th North Carolina-- Part 1

The 8th North Carolina Regiment was formed at Camp Wyatt near Carolina Beach, north of what became Fort Fisher near Wilmington, North Carolina.

It consisted of men from Wilmington as well as Robeson, New Hanover, Bladen, Columbus and Richmond counties.

John Decatur's Company I was also called the Wilmington Rifle Guard.


The 8th NC was redesignated as the 18th North Carolina at Camp Wyatt and elected as officers Col. James D. Ratliff, Lt.Col. O. P. Mears and Major George Tate.

In early October, the regiment with the exception of Co. K, was moved to Confederate Point and helped construct Fort Fisher. In November, it was ordered to Port Royal.

Company K manned a battery at Zeke's Island off the southern point of Fort Fisher.

The History of a Regiment. --Blockade-R

One Really Big Fort-- Fort Rosecrans-- Part 3

Construction of the fort involved the use of many Negroes as well as a lot of blasting. Land and materials were often taken without permission. Wood was taken from homes which were pulled down indiscriminately.

One local person wrote of one homeowner complaining to a Federal officer about the destruction of his home and was told "he is a d-d 'secesh' and ought not to have a house. Not to mention taking his outhouse,"

Confederates did one time threaten the fort in October 1863, but decided not to attack because of its strength.

After the war, the fort remained basically the same until the town started to grow. Stones River national Battlefield was established in 1932 and a small portion of the fort was included in it. Of 14,000 feet of earthworks, only 3,00 remain.

Of the four interior forts, only Redoubt Brannon remains.

On October 31, 1994, Fortress Rosecrans was dedicated and opened to visitors.

Supply Base of Fort? --B-R'er

One Really Big Fort-- Fort Rosecrans, Tn.-- Part 2

Back on December 8th, I had an entry on Fort Rosecrans located in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. I was interested in the history of the fort and delved deeper into it. I found an article called "Building Fort Rosecrans was 'Un-Civil'" by Shirley Farris Jones.

The fort was built on the outskirts of the town and remained in Union control for the rest of the war. It was built because Union General Rosecrans intended to press the Confederates back to Chattanooga and his supply base at Louisville was too far away, so he determined to make one closer at what became Fort Rosecrans, which he named after himself.

Construction began in January 1863 and continued until June. The fort, actually more of a heavily protected base, had a perimeter of three and a half miles. It included part of the Nashville Turnpike, the railroad and Stones River since transportation was to be of utmost importance.

There were numerous gaps in the walls as it was more of a series of semi-independent earthworks rather than one continual walled fortress. Inside were hospitals, warehouses, saw mills and interior forts.

Old Rosy Fort. More to Come. --Old B-Runner

Friday, December 11, 2009

Cooperating on Civil War Site in South Carolina

In an article by Edward Fennell, it appears that the city of Charleston, South Carolina and town of James Island might be on the verge of putting aside differences because of the Civil War.

For the past 16 years, ever since the people of James Island voted to become their own municipality, Charleston has been appealing and winning in its efforts to prevent it.

James Island incorporated in 1993, only to have Charleston sue to have it overthrown and win in court. Again, this repeated in 2004, and in 2006, James Island incorporated gain. The case is still in the courts.

However, James Island is very much a part of the Civil War. The town of James Island is negotiating with Charleston to buy a triangular-shaped lot on Fort Johnson Road for an interpretive park with markers, maps and monuments pertaining to the Civil War.

The lot is located next to small, densely-wooded area containing the remains of Redoubt No. 3, an earthen wall and gorge built by Confederates and owned by the South Carolina Battlefield Trust.

The first shot of the Civil War was fired at Fort Sumter from a spot near here.

Here's Hoping James Island Gets It. --Old B-Runner.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

New Orleans' Forts Jackson and St. Philip in Bad Shape

The September 28th Advocate had an article "Historical forts threatened" by Sandy Davis.

The Union fleet bombarded these two forts for seven days and finally on April 24, 1862 ran past them and broke the chain barrier protecting New Orleans. Some historians refer to it as the night the war was lost. Within a few days, the Confederates surrendered the city to Admiral Farragut.

Today, these forts are being considered for national park status and that can't come to soon as both are in danger of deteriorating to the point of no return. There is a bill going nowhere in Congress right now.

These forts housed soldiers until after World War I. They have battled the elements continuously, especially rough have been the hurricanes and Katrina along with brush, vines and even snakes.

The 1820s Fort Jackson is crumbling and falling. Fort St. Philip is even older, built in 1741 by the French and is deteriorating even faster. Plus, it has been under private ownership since the 1920s when both were sold.

Fort Jackson was sold in 1929 to Mr. and Mrs. H. J. Harvey in 1927, but they donated it to Plaquemines Parish in 1962. Fort St. Philip was sold to John and Joseph Vela in 1929 and is owned by five people today. Efforts have been made to restore it but have failed.

Let's Hope Something gets Done Before Both Are Lost Forever. --Old B-Runner

The Sad Story of General John Barry of North Carolina-- Part 2

Major Barry was the one who ordered the regiment to continue firing on Jackson's group, convinced that it was federal cavalry in the front.

He was promoted to colonel May 27, 1863, to rank from May 3rd. The regiment fought in the Overland Campaign where he took over the brigade command when after Col. James H. Lane was wounded. Barry was promoted to the temporary rank of brigadier general, but was wounded a month later at Cold Harbor, but the rank was never confirmed by the Confederate Congress.

He returned to duty in February 1865.

After the war, he only lived a short time, but was the editor of a Wilmington, NC, newspaper.

He died March 24, 1867 at the age of 29. Friends and family hold that he died "from a broken heart" for his role in the wounding of Jackson.

He is buried in Wilmington's Oakdale Cemetery.

A Sad Story. --Old B-R'er

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Sad Story of General John Decatur Barry of North Carolina-- Part 1

I came across the name of John Decatur Barry, a native of North Carolina, was born June 21, 1839, in Wilmington, NC. He had just graduated from the University of North Carolina when the war broke out and he enlisted in the 8th NC Infantry as a private in Co. I, April 15, 1861, 3 days after Sumter was fired upon.

On November 14, 1861, the regiment was redesignated as the 18th NC. When it was reorganized in April 1862, Barry was elected captain. The regiment participated in the Seven Days Battles, 2nd Manassas, and Sharpsburg. Barry was promoted to Major in November.

At the Battle of Chancellorsville, it was the 18th NC that fired upon General Thomas Jackson. The regiment's commander, Col. Thomas J. Purdie was killed and the Lt. Col., Forney George was wounded and Barry took command.

More to Come. --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Remains of USS Westfield Being Explored

Divers and archaeologists have been working in the Texas City Ship Canal this past month in an attempt to recover items and especially a 10,000 pound cannon from the USS Westfield which was sunk in the Battle of Galveston in 1863.

Divers have been hindered by bad weather, strong currents and ship traffic.

However, it is now or never, because what remains of the wreck will be destroyed by the deepening of the channel by the US Army Corps of Engineers in a $71 million project that will deepen it to 40-45 feet to enable today's larger ships to use it.

As part of the project, $3 million has been set aside for preservation efforts.


It was a former Staten Island ferry bought from Cornelius Vanderbilt. It was armed with a 100-pdr. Parrott, 9-inch Dahlgren, and six 8-inch Dahlgren cannons. It served as the flagship of the Union fleet inder Cmdr. William B. Renshay.

On January 1, 1863, Confederates attacked Union troops and two Confederate cottonclad ships went after the fleet. The Westfield ran aground and was blown up to prevent capture.

However, the charge ignited too soon, killing Rensay and 13 sailors who were leaving the ship. Confederates removed all the cannons except the 9-inch Dahlgren.

Divers are attempting to remove it and ten other large items that have been located. These will be sent to the Conservation Research Lab at College Station, Texas.

Then a dredge will scoop the bottom and dump the contents into containers which will then be sifted and categorized.

Something from the Past Recovered. --Old B-R

Largest Civil War Earthen Fort in Tennessee

It was the largest built during the war, but was not intended for defense as much as it was a supply depot.

The Nov. 22nd Murfreesboro (Tn) Post had an article about Fort Rosecrans which was built shortly after the battle of Stones River, Tennessee. The supply base contained inside the walls covered 200 acres and was the scene of much activity throughout the war.

After the war. most of its land reverted to agricultural use, but the west wall and one redoubt survived and acquired by the city. It was transferred to the National Park Service in 1993 and became a part of the Stones River National Battlefield.
Back on November 28th, I wrote about the R. L. Hamilton Civil War Collection that I was fortunate to view in Goldsboro, NC. It will eventually be exhibited by the Old Waynesborough Historical Site in that town. But until then, it is housed in a highly secure facility.

Some of the items of interest.

A full set of original Photographic History of the Civil War.

An 1862 Fayetteville Armory Type II Rifle valued at $30,000.

1862 Richmond Rifle Musket Conversion from 1857 valued at $20,000.

An 1840 Musket Remington Maynard conversion.

1842 Harpers Ferry musket (1852 conversion).

1864 Richmond musket

A powder horn collection, 14 rifles and about the same number of swords, including one from the Medieval times.

Two display cases with items picked up from the Averasboro Battlefield including several rings and wedding bands. Another display case has old silverware including some with pearl handles.

It will be a great thing when these things are brought out for public viewing.

A Great Treat for Me. --Old B-Runner

Monday, December 7, 2009

Captain Joseph Fry, CSN

The Nov. 29th Confederate Soldier's, Sailor's Roster's and Unit History 1861-1865 Blog mentioned Captain Joseph Fry, CSN, born June 14, 1826 and died November 7, 1973 in the Virginius Affair trying to liberate Cuba. He was captured and executed by Spanish authorities.

He had been on the CSS Morgan at the Battle of Mobile Bay.

A 587 page book by Jeanie Mort Walker titled "Life of Captain Joseph Fry, the Cuban Martyr" was written. He also served in the lower Mississippi.

Never Heard of Him. --Old B-R'er

Pearl Harbor Day

I am a big Civil War Buff, but ever since junior high, I have also been interested in Pearl Harbor. That interest has now expanded to World War II in general, especially he naval and homefront aspects.

Today marks the 68th anniversary of Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941, a day that will remain in history. I do not see that the "Tora, Tora, Tora" or "Pearl Harbor" movies are being shown, however.

This is one of those "Defining Moments" in American History.

I have four blogs altogether, and one is dedicated to history,

It started off as history in general but probably 80% or more of the entries are on World War II, with a lot on Pearl Harbor. Hit the Pearl Harbor label for lots of stories.

The Day of Infamy. --Old B-Runner

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Some More on the USS Restless

I also came across mention of boats from the USS Flag and USS Restless capturing the British-built blockade runner Anglia at Bulls Bay, SC, on October 27, 1862. The Anglia was a 473 ton iron sidewheel steamer built in England in 1847.

The ship had twice sailed through the blockade, once on July 30, 1862, from Nassau and again from the same place September 21st. I would have to believe that it was getting ready to run the blockade again when it was taken.

It was taken as a prize and sold to private owners and renamed the Admiral DuPont in January 1863. It continued service until January 8, 1865, when it was sunk in a collision.

Mean Old Restless, Picking on My Boats Like That. --Old Blockade-Runner

USS Restless

I went to good old Wikipedia to find out more about this ship I had written about in the previous entry.

The Restless was a sailing barque acquired by the US Navy during the war. It was 265 tons, 108.8 feet long and had a 27.8 foot beam, carrying four 32-pdrs.

After commissioning, it joined the blockade off Charleston, SC, and soon acquired the reputation of quite a blockade-running hunter. On Feb. 13, 1862, boats from the Restless destroyed the sloop Edisto and schooners Wandoo, Elizabeth and Theodore Stormy, all carrying rice.

By the end of March, it had also captured 5 other blockade-runners. Two of the schooners were kept as prizes. One sloop and two other schooners were destroyed.

On May 2, 1862, it captured the schooner Flash.

In 1863, it was assigned to the Eastern Gulf Blockading Squadron and captured two more schooners. At the end of the war, the Restless was sold.

No Friend of My B-Rs. --Old B-Runner

Going After That Salt

The Civil War Interactive Blog runs a section called This Day in the Civil War. For December 2nd, they had an account on an attack on a Confederate saltworks on the Florida coast.

It took place on December 2, 1863, which was on a Wednesday.

Ships on the East Gulf Blockading Squadron were charged with being on the lookout for smugglers, blockade-runners and saltworks.

A regular industry started up along the coasts of the Southern states during the conflict to provide the much needed supplies of salt.

Seawater was scooped up into kettles where the water was boiled until it evaporated, leaving the salt behind. Other times, shallow pans were filled and sunlight evaporated the water.

The USS Restless, Acting Master William R. Browne, came upon a rather large saltworks at Lake Ocala, Florida, producing 130 bushels of salt a day. Browne ordered the boilers destroyed along with two flatboats and six ox carts. All the salt was returned to the sea and 17 prisoners taken.

Want Some Salt with that Steak? --Old B-Runner

Friday, December 4, 2009

CSS Appomattox Found-- Part 2

After the Battle of Elizabeth City, the Appomattox was trying to escape, but was too wide to get through the Dismal Swamp Canal, so it was set afire.

The ship was located a good distance from where they thought it would be. The wreck was actually discovered, but there was no definite identification.

A final dive was taken in November and a final report made.

This report will be sent to the Museum of Albemarle where it will be posted along side a display of the Appomattox.

Skeeters Bit Me. --B-Runner

CSS Appomattox Found-- Part 1

The Nov. 15th Daily Advance by Kristin Pitts.

"Long quest, a little luck led to the Appomattox's discovery." Phillip Marlowe had been looking for it a long time. He had even thought he had found it six times earlier. The ship was deep min the mud of the Pasquotank River. near South Mills.

The Appomattox was a steamboat with a single propeller, 85 feet long and 20.5 foot beam.

Friction primers, used to fire cannons during the Civil War were found so they knew it was a gunboat. The big discovery was a silver plated spoon which had what looked to be J. Kuritt inscribed upon it. A list of the crew members was on hand, but no one by that name was on it..

But, a J. Skerritt was.

More to Come. --Old B-R'er

A Semi-Victory for Us

The Dec. 3rd Chicago had an article about what the Florida SCV claims to be a major victory. A district court judge refused to throw out a lawsuit against the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles. This was filed last January after two years of inaction by the Florida legislature.

John Adams, Chairman of the Confederate Heritage Plate Committee said that they had followed all the rules for application to the tee. Other forces, read it as PC and NAACP have worked against it.

There was a picture of the license plate and I wouldn't mind having one.

Well, it is a victory now, but I wouldn't hold my breath. The NAACP is much more powerful than the SCV, Sons of Confederate Veterans.

Hoping for a License Plate, Even if Useless here in Illinois. --Old B-Runner

Thursday, December 3, 2009

How to Run a Blockade

The December 3rd Civil War Interactive Blog ran an entry about Union Admiral John Dahlgren describing how he ran a successful blockade off Charleston, SC, despite its maze of waterways, islands, canals and marshes.

Writing on December 3rd, 1863, he had at his disposal, four Monitor-class vessels assigned to his duty station.

On any night, two were operational. One operated far up the channel of the harbor and kept an eye on forts Sumter and Moultrie. The ship also kept an eye on shipping coming in or going out. They were charged to defend against Confederate torpedo boats, picket boats and floating mines.

The second monitor was posted farther out to keep an eye on the first ship and provide aid if necessary.

He added that one other important thing they had to do was "taking care at the same time not to get aground, and also to change the position when the weather appears to be unsafe."

Now You Know How They Did It. --Old B-R