The Battle of Fort Fisher, N.C.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Fort Delaware and Finns Point National Cemetery

The December 28, 2008, Shared Landscape Blog went out to this area which is not well-known to most.

Fort Delaware on Pea Patch Island, was a harsh Civil War Confederate prison sometimes referred to as the "Andersonville of the North." During the course of the war, some 40,000 were held there with between 2500 and 2900 dying.

Before serving as a prison, it was a masonry fort completed in 1859, then it served as a place to train new Union troops. After the war, it was essentially abandoned until the Spanish American War when three 16-inch cannons were installed at the south end of the island.

Following the war, it was abandoned until World War I and then left again until World War II. In 1943, the guns were removed and the fort officially abandoned in 1944. Today it is a state park.

Finn's Point was bought by the government in the Civil War to build a battery for the protection of Philadelphia. In 1863, it became a cemetery to bury Confederate prisoners who had died at Fort Delaware. In 1910, the federal government erected an 85 foot Confederate monument in honor of the 2,436 men buried there. A Union monument had been built in 1879 to honor the 135 soldiers who had died while on duty there.

With that many Union garrison soldiers dying, conditions must have been quite bad.

Not All Bad Prisons in the South. --Old B-Runner

Thursday, April 29, 2010

A Crime, A Sleuthing and A Catching-- Part 2

Pilfering documents has been around for a long time. It is easy money and libraries and repositories are not really equipped to stay on top of it.

One National Park service employee stole several hundred documents and photos, including pardons signed by James Madison, Abraham Lincoln and other presidents. He was caught and sentenced to 21 months, but 61 signed presidential pardons were not found.

Another Civil war historians tucked over 100 Civil War documents into his clothes and walked out of the National Archives including letters signed by Lee and Grant. He received two years, but the Archives never got back most of what he had stolen.

Dean Thomas contacted the Archives and was put in touch with Special Agent Kelly Maltagliati.

Rare books, maps and documents are not allowed to circulate, but they are also not locked away in vaults. They are there to be studied and inspected.

Thomas and Maltagliati immediately had a suspect as the name had accompanied the eBay. They phoned the Archive branch in Philadelphia, where the Frankford Arsenal documents had been moved in the 1980s. The eBay name, Denning McTague, was the same as a man who had just completed an unpaid, two-month internship at the branch.

Matague's business, Denning House Antiquarian Books and manuscripts, had been struggling, so he enrolled at a university to pursue a master's degree in information systems, hoping to get a job as a librarian.

Even with his business, the Philadelphia Archives branch hired him.

More to Come. --Old B-Runner

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A Crime, a Sleuthing, a Catching-- Part 1

From the April 2008 Smithsonian "To Catch a Thief" by Steve Twomey.

Dean Thomas of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, is not your average Civil War buff. He takes it to the next level and has self-published a 1,360 page, three-volume study called "Round Ball to Rimfire" which covers every type of cartridge, ball and bullet used during the war with another volume on Confederate munitions to come.

Needless to say, he has done extensive research and he was surprised to find letters from munition companies to the Frankford Arsenal in Philadelphia, which was a major supplier to the Union Army during the war.

His brother Jim was looking for a gift for Dean and bid on two of the letters on eBay. Dean got a look at them and asked Jim to bid on a third. But he puzzled over how they got to eBay. They won the bid for the three at $298.88.

But now the seller had an additional letter from an American diplomat concerning an Austrian ammunition called guncotton, to which Dean had devoted eight pages and had used the very same letter which he had photocopied in the National Archives 25 years earlier.

A crime had been commited. He searched his files and found a copy of one of the letters his brother had bought, then two others copies of others the seller was offering.

So, who would steal a letter on guncotton, hardly what you would call a really big artifact concerning the war unless you're a guy like Dean Thomas?

More to Come. --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Running the Blockade: McDonnell Again-- Great Lakes-- Matthew Maury

Some New News About an Old War.

1. McDONNELL AGAIN-- Roanaoke (Va) WDBJ reported April 20th that Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell went to Chancellorsville Battlefield to announce the creation of a permanent state fund to preserve Civil War sites. He ceremonially signed the Virginia Civil War Sites Preservation. It is now permanent, but had already saved 2,000 battlefields and action sites across Virginia.

2. GREAT LAKES-- The April 20th Port Clinton (Ohio) News Herald announced that May 3rd the Sanduskey Maritime Museum would have a talk by Frederick Stonehouse on the Civil War on the Great Lakes. The Great lakes contributed greatly to the Union's eventual victory and there were Confederate plots to attack the unprotected Great Lakes. Definitely a little-known aspect of the war.

3. MATTHEW MAURY-- The good folks at HMDB went to Virginia and spotlighted a marker to Confederate seaman and inventor Matthew Fontaine Maury "In this house Matthew Fontaine Maury L.L.D., USN, CSN invented the submarine electric torpedo 1861-1862." Placed by the Confederate Literary Society AD 1910.

Now You Know. --Old B-Runner

Monday, April 26, 2010

Two Union Veterans at Fort Fisher-- Part 3

I should mention that the USS Gettysburg was one of many captured blockade-runners which became Union blockaders of Southern coasts. What better way to capture a blockade-runner than to use a former one? It was the Margaret and Jessie which was captured off Wilmington, NC, Nov. 5, 1863.

Roswell Lamson was mustered into the Navy after the outbreak of war and before he graduated from the Academy, completing his studies at sea.

Lamson commanded the USS Wilderness which towed the powdership USS Louisiana, just before midnight of Christmas Eve, 1864, to within 300 yards of Fort Fisher before cutting her loose. Lt. Samuel Preston was aboard the Louisiana setting fuses. He graduated first in the Class of 1862, the reason Lamson was #2.

The next day, the two lieutenants had breakfast with Admiral Porter aboard the flagshup USS Malvern, another captured blockade-runner.

(I didn't find mention elsewhere of Preston being on the Louisiana, which was commanded by Cmdr. A. C. Rhind who set the fuses to blow up the 215 tons of gunpowder aboard the ship. No damage was done to the fort.)

The Battle Next. --Old B-Runner

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Two Union Veterans at Fort Fisher-- Part 2

Roswell Lamson was an outstanding midshipman at the Naval Academy, graduating second in his Class of 1862, and rose rapidly through the ranks of the wartime Navy to the command of the USS Mount Washington. In action in the James River in 1863, the ship's boiler was destroyed and the ship drifted aground where they had to repel boarders before being towed away, suffering 5 killed and 14 wounded,

Oregon newspapers extensively covered his exploits.

Lieutenant Lamson went on to command more ships and flotillas than anyone his age ever did before.

The USS Gettysburg was one of the fastest Union ships at 15 knots and was 950 tons, 221 feet long with a crew of 96 and mounting seven guns. It captured seven blockade-runners and received big prize money.

Poor Alaric Chapin earned $13 a month while the crew of a blockader could earn $500 to $1000 when adding additional money for prize money from captured blockade-runners. I have even heard stories of Union ships chasing blockade-runners farther away so other federal ships would be out of sight and couldn't claim the capture money. During the Civil War, $25 million in prize money was paid out by the government.

A Sailor's Life for Me. Give Me the Money. --Old B-Runner

Friday, April 23, 2010

Two Union Veterans at Fort Fisher-- Part 1

From the January 2009 Oregon Magazine, "Storming the Ramparts" by Randy Fletcher. A very interesting account of two men, their lives, and who were at the same battle, but on two different fronts of it.

Lt. Roswell Lamson, 26, USN, commander of the USS Gettysburg was preparing for a naval assault on Fort Fisher, NC's northeast salient. At the same time, 17-year-old Alaric Chapin was on land and was one of thirteen volunteers who had the job of moving against the fort first and cutting through the palisades.

Both of these men never met at the time, nor did they meet afterwards, but both are buried in Oregon, one as a native and the other having moved there.

Lamson was born in Iowa, and at age 9, his family had moved west on the Oregon Trail. His parents took a Donation Land Claim near present-day Willamina. he got his education at the Oregon institute in Salem. he fought in the Yakima Indian War and at a big battle where La Grande, Oregon is located today. In 1858, he became the first Oregonian appointed to the US Naval Academy at Annapolis.

More to Come. --Old B-Runner

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Union Veterans Finally Rejoin the Right Side

From the May 23, 2008, On Milwaukee "Fallen Civil War veteran finally rejoins Union side" by Andrew Wagner.

For over 100 years, the gravestones of William Ryan and Lewis Jolliot, buried in Calvary Cemetery both read they were in the Confederate Army. On May 24th, a ceremony was held to rededicate their markers as being members of the Union Army.

Jolliot was in Battery G, 2nd Missouri Light Artillery, US, died in 1885.
Ryan was in Co. C, 10th Tennessee, US, died in 1892.

Into the late 1800s, members of the Confederate military were allowed to be buried in federal cemeteries. Originally, both Union and Confederates got the same rounded-top headstones. In 1905, the Sons of Confederate Veterans lobbied the government for a separate designation on southern markers. According to legend, Confederate markers were ground to a point. Confederate veterans "didn't want no darn Yankees sitting on (their) headstones.

Paul Komlodi, a Registered Nurse at the Milwaukee VA Hospital began investigating Confederate soldiers buried in Milwaukee and discovered these two men were incorrectly identified because they were from border states.

A ceremony was organized by the Sons of Union Veterans in which two color guards will participate. A Confederate one will be at the grave sites first, but then will step back and be replaced by a Union one.

This will be at Calvary Cemetery, 5503 West Blue Mound Road in Milwaukee.

At Long Last. --Old B-Runner

Ten Notable Civil War Coincidences-- Part 2

From March 4th List Universe.

7. IRISH FIGHTING IRISH-- At the December 13, 1862, Battle of Fredericksburg, the Union Irish Brigade fought a nearly all-Irish Confederate regiment. The Union soldiers were cut down by the Confederates.

6. BAD MEDICINE-- President James Garfield survived his service in the Civil War unhurt, but in July 1881, he was shot by an assassin. Doctors probed for the bullet with unwashed hands. The president would have survived the wound, but died of a massive infection.

5. HOLE IN HAT SAVES LIFE-- This saved the life of Confederate General John Brown Gordon September 17, 1862, at the Battle of Antietam. He was shot in the face and fell face first into his hat which filled with blood, but a hole in the hat let the blood out, otherwise he would have drowned in it.

4. DIES CLOSE TO HOME-- Todd Carter of Franklin, Tennessee, was wounded almost in his front yard at the Battle of Franklin, November 30, 1864 as he called out, "Follow me boys, I'm almost home." He died two days later.

Some Interesting Stuff. Thanks List Universe. --Old B-Runner

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Ten Notable Civil War Coincidences-- Part 1

The March 4th List Universe had "Ten Notable Coincidences of the American Civil War.

I knew some of them, but not others.

10. PRESIDENTS-- Two future presidents of the United States, Rutherford Hayes and William McKinley served in the23rd Ohio Volunteers.

9. FAMOUS LAST WORDS-- The Union Army's 6th Corps commander, Major General John Sedgwick tried to rally his men who were ducking because of sniper fire at the opening of the Battle of Spotsylvania, May 8, 1864. he had just started to say, "They couldn't hit an elephant from this distance, when a bullet shot to the head killed him instantly.

8. THE FALLING SWORD-- General Jackson's sword was propped up against a tree when it fell over on its own. Some believed it was an ominous sign. Later that day, he was wounded by his own men and later died from it. This helped foster the story of the falling sword.

More Coincidences to Come. --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Llamas on the Beach at Fort Fisher

First, Yankees on the beach, now this. The April 17th Wilmington (NC) Star News ran an article on the 12 llamas that competed in the 5th annual Southern States Llama Association's Llama Beach Rendezvous this past Saturday.

They came from as far away as Georgia and Tennessee. After riding the ferry from Southport to Fort Fisher, they toured Fort Fisher before having a relay race, limbo and other games on the beach, much to the enjoyment of those enjoying it.

Afterwards, they crossed back over the ferry and had cart pulling in Southport.

Liz and I often detour a bit on our way up to Twin Lakes, Wisconsin so we can go by a farm that has a llama (actually three last year, but just one now). He just stares back at us chewing his cud. There is just something about llamas.

Definitely something you don't usually see at the beach or pretty much anywhere.

Here Llama, Here Llama. --Old B-R

Were Confederate Soldiers Terrorists?

According to CNN political analyst Roland S. Martin's blog, they were definitely domestic terrorists. He evidently received lots of comments concerning his denunciation of Virginia Governor McDonnell for leaving the word slavery out of his declaration of April as being Confederate Heritage Month.

Most of the people commenting against Martin used the excuse that Confederate soldiers were defending their homeland. Mr. Martin says that is exactly what Muslim extremists say in regards to their terrorist activities.

"Just as radical Muslims have a warped sense of religion, Confederate supporters have a delusional view of what is honorable." He further says he will never "cast Confederates as heroic figures who should be honored and revered. No, they were and forever will be domestic terrorists."

Mr. Martin, by the way, is a black man, which makes his remarks understandable. Very few blacks have much respect for Confederates and rightfully so. Part of the reason they were fighting was to preserve slavery. That can not be denied.

But, there had to be other reasons why the Confederate soldier fought. With just 25% of southerners holding slaves, and of that, only 5% in the "Gone With the Wind" category owning the huge plantations with hundreds of slaves, there just have to be other reasons.

My idea of a terrorist is someone who kills people with no warning to create terror. What Timothy McVeigh did 15 years ago to innocent people in Oklahoma City is an example of terrorism. The person who straps a bomb on themselves and goes out to a crowded area and blows himself up is an example of a terrorist.

I doubt that very many Confederate soldiers did that to slaves. However, I am sure atrocities were committed in instances where Confederates captured black Union soldiers like at Fort Pillow

I would appreciate it if Mr. Martin could come up with examples of terrorism committed by Confederates on slaves.

Lastly, if he is so offended by Confederate Heritage Month, he should do what I do when some governmental body proclaims a month for a group I don't like. Ignore it.

And, Of Course, We Have the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War Coming Up Soon. This Shouldn't Be All About Slavery Although definitely a Part of the Observation. --Old B-Runner

Monday, April 19, 2010

Back Then-- April 15, 1861

From the March 24th Savannah (Ga) Morning News which went back to 1861 for this story.

After the arrival of news of Fort Sumter's surrender "several vessels in our harbor raised their flags, the old Stars and Stripes-- under authority, we learn, of the Harbor Master.

The immense crowd which had gathered in front of our office, noticing the fact went immediately under the Bluff and ordered the flags down. The order was promptly obeyed."

The Blackfish then raised the Palmetto colors and the crowd gave three cheers. An English vessel had the British flag at masthead and this was respected by the crowd.

"There seems to have been some misunderstanding as to orders for raising the United States flag, the masters of the vessels declaring they intended no insult to the Confederate States."

Definitely a good move on their part considering the mood of the crowd.

A Little Slice of History You Don't Usually Hear About. --Old B-R'er

Second Saturdays at Fort Fisher This Summer

The program the Fort Fisher North Carolina Historical Site is running this summer is called Second Saturdays. This will bring together North Carolina arts, history and culture.

Planned events:

JUNE 12-- Exploring Our Historical Landscape-- featuring landscape artists, wet-plate photographers and landscape photographers.

JULY 10-- Life in Fort Fisher's Waterway-- artists, water crafts, net making, basket weaving, sea grass baskets, duck decoys, boat building and bird house design.

AUGUST 12-- Living Our Civil War History-- Civil War model building, toy soldier crafts, blacksmithing, tinsmithing, leather goods and pottery.

Definitely Sounds Like They Have Something for Most Anyone. --Old B-Runner

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Iowa SUVCW Tracking Down Iowa Civil War Monuments

MPC Newspapers of Iowa had an article back in December 2008 about the state's Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War camps tracking down and completing a list of all of the markers and statues of the war.

There is a 35 foot high monument in Brooklyn Memorial Cemetery in Powesiak County that was built in 1882. There is a Civil War cannon at Grinnell's Hazelwood Cemetery and a Civil War soldier statue at Chester Cemetery. In Montezuma, there is a GAR Hall, Civil War monument and a soldier at Sheridan Cemetery.

Tom Gaard, Iowa Monument Officer for the SUVCW Department of Iowa, says they are also locating the graves of Union veterans and even those who served with Confederate armies. Not only that, but they are also looking for monuments and memorials in need of cleaning or repairs.

You can view their list of markers at

The website also includes Iowa markers outside the state including one at Andersonville Prison in Georgia which was dedicated November 17, 1906. The state of Tennessee has 15 markers, including 13 at the Battle of Shiloh.

Always Great to See Civil War History Preserved. --Old B-Runner

There are still five original Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) Halls still standing: the one in Montezuma, Veterans Memorial Hall in Waterloo, Redfield GAR Hall, Hampton GAR Hall and Woodbury County GAR Hall in Correctionville. Only the Montezuma Hall is no longer used.

--Old Secesh

Confederate Soldier Honored-- Part 3

Lt. Colonel Benjamin Carter was wounded by a shell fragment in the face at Devil's Den July 2, 1863. I came across a write up in the Find-a-Grave site that had Carter dying at New Franklin and then taken to Chambersburg where he was buried, then reinterred at the church.

His wife and three daughters had died earlier in the war, so there was no one left to retrieve the body. The site also had photos of the April 10, 2010, ceremony.

At Gettysburg, the 4th Texas was in General Hood's Divison and were in Robertson's Brigade, also called the Texas Brigade. The 4th's Colonel John C. G. Key was wounded and Carter briefly took command before he too was wounded. The 5th Texas had its colonel wounded and captured and lt. col also wounded so they were in the thick of the fighting on the western slope of the Big Round Top.

The night before the July 2nd action, members of the regiment might have witnessed the historical meeting of Generals Lee, Longstreet, Hood and A. P. Hill as they planned out the battle as it took place nearby.

While waiting to go into battle on the 2nd, the Texas Brigade came under heavy Union artillery fire. One shell killed or wounded 15 men. Another one decapitated a man and another cut one in half, splattering all those around with blood.

Then, as the 4th advanced up the slope, they came under fire from the 2nd US Sharpshooters.

Definitely Not a Safe Place to Be with the Texans. --Old B-Runner

Friday, April 16, 2010

Confederate Soldier Honored in Pennsylvania-- Part 2

In 1896, the church sold the cemetery property and all the bodies were removed to Cedar Grove Cemetery on Franklin Street in Chambersburg. The headstones, however, were not removed. At this time, Colonel Benjamin Carter became forgotten.

About ten years ago, Patty Wilson heard about the Confederate soldier buried in Chambersburg and began looking for the burial site. Two years later, she met Larry Phelps who was also doing research on Carter. Together, they found out the story of the reburial and found his final resting spot.

This Saturday, a Sons of Confederate veterans color guard, an eulogy. three-gun musket salute and taps marked the rededication of Carter's grave marker. An exchange of burial soil took place where soil from Carter's wife and daughters' graves were placed on top of his grave and soil from his grave was taken to be spread on those of his relatives.

The United Daughters of the Confederacy and camps from Sons of Confederate Veterans in Maryland and Pennsylvania took part in the memorial.

Quite a Story. --Old B-Runner

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Confederate Soldier Honored in Pennsylvania

I came across quite an interesting story in the April 11th Chambersburg (PA) Public Opinion "Confederate soldier honored with tombstone dedication in Chambersburg cemetery" by Vicky Taylor.

This story involves honor and integrity on both sides, a dying man's last request, a lost grave and a search.

This past Saturday, the 10th, there was a dedication in Cedar Grove Cemetery of a marker to show the last resting place of Confederate Lt.-Colonel Benjamin F. Carter of the 4th Texas who was mortally wounded at the Battle of Gettysburg in July 1863.

Colonel Carter had been an attorney and mayor of Austin, Texas, before joining the Army. The 4th Texas had been at the battles of Antietam and Second Bull Run. At Bull Run, a Union artillery captain named Stern from Chambersburg had been fatally wounded. When he died, Col. Carter gave him his overcoat as a burial shroud.

He also probably wrote a letter to Stern's family in Chambersburg and returned his personal property. (Hardly what you would expect a terrorist to do for an enemy.)

At Gettysburg, Col. Carter's wounds were too serious for him to be taken back to Virginia and was taken to a home in New Franklin where he was captured and taken to a hospital in Chambersburg where he died.

As he lay dying, he asked the doctor and two people present for a decent Christian burial. Feelings were high against Confederates in the town at this time, but with what Carter had done for Stern, the doctor got Alexander McClure to arrange for a burial in the local Methodist cemetery.

The Story Doesn't End Here. --Old B-Runner

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Battle of Bentonville Re-Enactment

From the March 21st Charlotte Observer.

There were 1,100 Union and 2,500 Confederate re-enactors at the 145th anniversary of the battle.

Wes Jones, 58, of the 6th North Carolina Cavalry, "Nobody wants to be a Union soldier. Playing a Confederate is more fun."

Getting enough Union re-enactors is a quite often a problem at events. Sometimes Confederates don the Union blue to even out the sides. The Monday after the battle, I talked with one Confederate re-enactor at the Wayne County History Museum who served as a Union artilleryman.

Peter DellaVedova, 56, of the 104th Illinois, "We lost six of our guys on the way down here because a car broke down." This is partly accurate as many members of the original 104th died on their way to the real battle back in 1865.

Sure Would Have Liked to Have Seen the Battle. --Blockade-R

Running the Blockade: Joe Johnston-- Circle of Fire-- Missed It

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

1. JOE JOHNSTON, CSA-- General Sherman's opponent at part of the Atlanta Campaign, Bentonville, and who surrendered to him at Bennett Place in North Carolina, served as a pall-bearer at Sherman's funeral, caught pneumonia doing so and died a month later.

2. CIRCLE OF FIRE-- There is a new book out by Peter Barratt called Circle of Fire, about the USS Susquehanna. Lulu Marketplace is offering it for $22. The Susquehanna chased blockade-runners (hey, that's me), raiders, bombarded shore fortifications and endured the monotony of blockade duty and weather.

The book gives a good glimpse at the inner workings of the blockade. Appendices include crew roster, plans and specifications.

3. MISSED IT-- March 22nd was Medal of Honor Day. This honor was first bestowed during the Civil War. Congratulations to all recipients in all wars.

Definitely a Book the B-R Would Like to Read (To Find Out How the Other Side Lived). --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

USS Nipsic

On April 9th, I posted about William L. Churchill, executive officer on the USS Nipsic who headed an early search for the Hunley.

The USS Nipsic was built for the US Navy at Portsmouth Navy Yard in Kittery, Maine, near Portsmouth, New Hampshire. It was commissioned September 2, 1863.

Stats: 592 tons, 179.6 feet long, 30 foot beam, 11.6 foot draft, 11 knots.
Armament-- 1 X 150 pdr. rifle, 1 X 30 pdr. rifle, 2 X 9 inch Dahlgren smoothbores, 2 X 24 pdr. howitzers, 2 X 12 pdr guns.

Arrived South Atlantic Blockading Squadron at Charleston, SC on Nov. 5th. On June 27, 1864, captured the schooner Julia running the blockade.

After the war, it was stationed off Latin America. In 1870, the Nipsic, USS Gurad and USS Nyack began the Darien Expedition under the command of Commander Thomas O. Selfridge at Darien, Panama. This was to look into a possible canal across that area.

In 1873, the Nipsic was off Brazil. After that, it was decommissioned and broken up. It was rebuilt larger as an Adams-class gunboat. It was recommissioned in 1879 and served in the Mediterranean 1880-1873.

In 1889, it was in the Apia Hurricane and survived by grounding itself. In 1890, it was completely rebuilt again and served in the Pacific. From 1892 to 1913 it was the receiving ship at the Puget Sound Navy Yard before being sold in 1913.

The History of a Ship. --Old B-Runner

This Story's Not Going Away

I saw the "interview" between CNN Commentator Rowland Martin and Virginia Sons of Confederate Veterans Commander Brag Bowling moderated by Anderson Cooper. Like the Civil War, Bowling was clearly outnumbered and Martin constantly on the attack calling Confederate soldiers terrorists and Nazis.

Mr. Martin was clearly wearing his race on his sleeve. This seems to be the typical response of many of his race whenever the "C" word comes into play. The name of the game is attack and raise the "S" word.

I can understand why he is upset. Slavery was a sad aspect of our collective history and that includes the North, Europe and Africa as well. Africans sold other Africans into slavery to whites from Europe and North who then transported the poor souls across the Atlantic.

Sadly, slavery still exists in Africa and Haiti, even into the 21st century. And this slavery has nothing to do with the "C" word. Mr. Martin is obviously aware of the sorrows his ancestors endured. I think perhaps he should do a story on this current slavery.

Mr. Martin needs to direct some of his vehemence against the "C" word at other partners in the "S" word.

It is Sad That a Person's Heritage Has to be So Maligned.

Monday, April 12, 2010

McHenry County, Illinois, in the Civil War-- Part 2

The 95th Illinois Infantry was mostly from McHenry County. Its US and regimental flags are preserved in the Illinois National Guard Militia Historical Society Museum in Springfield.

They organized at Camp Fuller in Rockford, Illinois September 4, 1862. A total of 1,324 volunteers served in it during the course of the war and they traveled 9,960 miles.

Service Record:

VICKSBURG-- May 18 and 22, 1863
RED RIVER CAMPAIGN-- March 9 to April 22, 1864
SHERMAN'S Campaign Against Atlanta-- June 24 to September, 1864
NASHVILLE-- Dec. 15, 1864
SPANISH FORT-- April 8, 1865
BLAKELY FORT-- April 9, 1865

I found out that John Hatch is buried in Marengo Cemetery. He died January 30, 1924, and was in Co. E, 95th Illinois.

A Bit of Local History. --B-Runner

McHenry County in the Civil War-- Part 1

Back in November 2009, Liz and I attended the rededication of the Civil War Monument in Woodstock, Illinois, square. It was the 100th anniversary of it from when it was dedicated in 1909.

The monument, which had a role in the movie "Groundhog Day" as the scene of the snowball fight, is called "The Sentinel" because of its stance. An Woodstock paper was also called that name after the statue.

However, the years have taken a toll of the work. From a distance and casual look, it appears to be fine. But closer inspection shows that a flute of the anchor is off, some of the spikes are missing and there is a lot of rust on the remaining ones.

The soldier at the top is made of solid Vermont granite, but is not anchored to the top of the pillar. Only its weight keeps it there.

A Reminder of the War. --Old B-Runner

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Looking for the H. L. Hunley During the Civil War-- Part 2

A private collector donated this letter and 27 other documents to the Relic Room. They are part of the Letters to and from William L. Churchill, A. W. Johnson and John A. Dahlgren dated from the early days of the war to 1869.

By 1869, Churchill had his own submarine company.

In the first letter there is notification to Churchill of his appointment as Master's mate on the USS Susquehanna. Churchill witnessed the pivotal naval battle between the Monitor and Virginia. Later, he was transferred to the USS Nipsic, blockading Charleston Harbor.

He declared the wreck of the USS Housatonic as being worthless" owing to the large amount of damage done by the Hunley's 90-pound charge.

He then searched for the Hunley. He didn't find it, however and Robert Neyland, head of the Naval Historical Center's Underwater Archaeology Branch says that was fortunate. Had he discovered it, there would be nothing left of the submarine today.

When the Hunley was raised in 2000, grappling hooks were found on it. Perhaps they were Churchill's?

These letters are expected to be on a web site as some date soon.

An Interesting "New View" of the Navy in the Civil War. --Old B-Runner

Master Thomas L. Wragg, CSN

Today, a new marker will be dedicated at the Eastern Cemetery in Quincy, Florida, for Master Thomas L. Wragg. A member of the Civil War Navy and Marine Forum on Yahoo posted it.

I looked up his name on the internet, but couldn't find anything so asked the group about it.

A member said he served on the CSS Richmond and was captured on the CSS Atlanta. After release, he served on other Confederate ships. After the war, he moved around a lot until finally settling and practicing medicine in Quincy, Florida.

he was murdered (that has to be an interesting story as well) and buried in Eastern Cemetery.

Of interest, his great uncle Christopher Gadsden created the famous Gadsden Flag during the Revolutionary War. It was yellow with a coiled rattlesnake and the words "Don't Tread on Me." Christopher was a major leader of the patriots in South Carolina. I remember carrying one during our strike in 1994. Kind of sums up my feeling at the time.

A Tip of the Hat to the Florida SCV for Remembering History. --Blockade-R

Talk About Your "Big Stinks"

Virginia Governor Bill McDonnell's proclamation of April being Confederate History Month has sure raised a "Big Stink." It seems that the veritable "Confederate Flag" has been raised, causing one group of people to do what they always do, attack the colors. It's like the red flag in front of a bull.

I didn't read the proclamation all that closely and didn't even notice the omission of the slavery word. It should have been in it as it definitely had its role in the war. Its existence had driven the sections of the United States apart to the point that the war had to happen.

But, you have to wonder if the word being left out was done on purpose or was it an omission? I believe the governor's apology and inclusion should handle it. But these other groups are still not happy and looking for blood.

Then they say that blacks should not have to have a Confederate History Month. There is a Black History Month which is a good time to learn about the contributions of that race. It is a good idea.

Confederate History Month is about the sacrifices and trials of both the Confederate soldier and civilians during those tumultuous years. The role of slavery is a part of that and should be a part of it.

Many slaves left the plantations, but others stayed. How much did the loss of labor hurt the Confederacy? How did the Union and Confederacy deal with the slaves? These are all subjects worthy of study during such a month.

It's Too Bad That a Basic Respect for Some People's Heritage Can Not Be Shown By Some. --Old B-Runner

Friday, April 9, 2010

Looking for the H. L. Hunley During the Civil War-- Part 1

The search for the Hunley went on for over a hundred years after the war, but it actually began back in 1864 according to an article in the Nov. 3, 2009 Charleston (SC) Post and Courier "Letters illiminate first search for the Hunley" by Brian Hicks.

In the fall of 1864, Naval officer William L. Churchill, executive officer of the gunboat USS Nipsic and a diver himself, volunteered to survey the wreckage of the USS Housatonic, but he was looking more for the Hunley according to letters donated to the South Carolina Confederate Relics Room and Military Museum in Columbia, SC.

"He is desirous of exploring the ocean bottom in the vicinity of the ill-fated Housatonic, with the view of finding the Torpedo Boat, which, by mail and clippings taken from Rebel Journals, may have sunk very near her," USS Nipsic commander A. W. Johnson wrote Rear Admiral John A. Dahlgren.

More to Come. B-R'er

Running the Blockade: Jefferson Davis Presidential Library

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

1. JEFFERSON DAVIS PRESIDENTIAL LIBRARY AND MUSEUM-- From the Dec. 6, 2009, WXVT 15 News, Jackson, Mississippi.

It will cost $10.5 million to rebuild a new library and museum to replace the one destroyed by Hurricane Katrina at Biloxi. Groundbreaking was held Sunday on the 120th anniversary of Davis' death from pneumonia while in New Orleans.

2. HEADSTONE FOR GENERAL SEBRING-- From the Nov. 28, 2009, Gainesville (Fl) Sun. The SCV camp in Jacksonville, Florida, dedicated a headstone on the unmarked grave of Confederate General William H. Sebring who was mayor of Jacksonville from 1907 to 1909. He died at age 85 in 1925.

3. ALTON NATIONAL CEMETERY-- From the April 8th St. Louis Today Work is being done on the Alton National cemetery in Alton, Illinois. It was built by the War Department and Works Progress Administration and dedicated on Armistice Day, November 11, 1941.

More than 500 soldiers, some whose service dates back to the Mexican War, are buried there, including over 200 from the Civil War.

Now, You Know. --Old B-R

USS Ellis and Topsail Island, North Carolina

The November 25, 2009 Civil War Interactive Newswire took a look back at the events of Tuesday, Nov. 25, 1862.

The USS Ellis had, the previous week, visited New Topsail Island and destroyed a large Confederate salt works. Lieutenant Cushing said it was large enough to have supplied all of Wilmington's salt needs.

On the 23rd, a landing party from the Ellis captured arms, mail, and two schooners at Jacksonville, NC. On the 24th, while under attack by Confederate artillery, the Ellis grounded. After every effort was made to float the ship, Cushing ordered it set afire on Nov. 25th to avoid capture. Reported Cushing: "I fired the Ellis in five places and having seen that the battle flag was still flying, trained the gun on the enemy so that the vessel might fight herself after we had left her."

Very Gallant of Cushing. --Old B-Runner

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Some More on the CSS Appomattox

As we come up on the 145th anniversary of Lee's surrender at Appomattox Court House in Virginia, tomorrow, there was another Appomattox in the war, although mostly forgotten until recently and that would be the Confederate steamer CSS Appomattox, part of North carolina's Mosquito Fleet.

From the Feb. 7th Elizabeth City Daily Advance "History comes alive" by Reggie Ponder.

Jason Madre and a team of divers recently found the wreck of this ship at the bottom of the muddy Pasquotank River in August 2009 near South Mills. They immediately wanted the artifacts to be displayed somewhere and the Museum of the Albemarle now has "Diving the Dismal Swamp: The Search for the CSS Appomattox."

They didn't recover as many artifacts as they had hoed. Most likely because the crew knew the ship was to be set afire and either threw items overboard or carried them off. Then, the fire destroyed others.

They still were unsure of whether or not they had found the Appomattox until they came across a spoon with an engraving saying what appeared initially to be J. S. Kurrett, but later was found to be J. Skarett, belonging to James Skarett. He had been on the CSS Virginia, but had been transferred to the Appomattox at the time of its sinking.

At that time, they knew they had definitely found the ship.

Madre and the others: Eddie Congleton, Jason Forbes and his father Philip Madre, had found three other wrecks before the Appomattox.

Great to Find Something Lost to History. --Old B-Runner

Wood National Cemetery, Milwaukee, Wisconsin-- Part 2

I will go into some detail on the two Naval Medal of Honor winners buried here.


Ordinary Seaman born 1845 in Frankfort, Pa. Citation dated April 16, 1864.

Served on board the USS Fort Hindman, a steamer acquired by the US Navy and turned into a Tinclad. During an engagement near Harrisonburg, Louisiana, March 2, 1864, following a shellburst at one of the guns that started a fire on the cartridge tie, McCormick immediately seized the burning cartridge, took it from the gun and threw it overboard, despite the immediate danger to himself.

He carried out his duties throughout the engagement and served courageously while the Fort Hindman was severely battered by enemy fire.

The Fort Hindman had been operating on the Black and Quachita rivers during this period of time.


Boatswain's Mate born 1833 in Ireland. Citation dated December 31, 1864.

While proceeding up the Red River, the USS Signal was engaged by a large force of enemy including sharpshooters and batteries. The ship returned fire until it was disabled and forced to surrender.

McCormick was gun captain of one of the 8 cannons aboard and wounded early in the action but continued to carry out his duties.

I read elsewhere that the ship ran aground and the crew set fire to the ship and escaped to shore where they were captured.

Naval Medal of Honors. --Old B-Runner

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

145th Anniversary of the Battle of Bentonville

From the March 25th Kinstin (NC) Free Press.

John Baucom of Yadkin County, NC, was a re-enactor in Co. I of the 28th NC Regiment, nicknamed the Yadkin Boys.

"This was my third time participating in the Bentonville re-enactment. We are allowed to fight on the actual battlefield site during the time of the year when the original battle took place. It's not very often you get to do that."

This was one of the big things that attracted me to drive a thousand miles to see it, along with the large number of re-enactors. You can't have re-enactments at national parks.

Fighting in North Carolina. --Blockade-R

Connecting Today's Students With the Civil War

From the March Hamburg(Pa) Area Item.

Students at Hamburg Area High School from grades 9-12 are combining American history, drafting, metal shop and web design all in one project where they are building three signal lanterns like the one shone by the Confederate submarine H. L. Hunley in its famous attack on the USS Housatonic.

These are to match the one that is believed to have given the last signal from the historic vessel. A web site will be created to show their progress.

The best one will be taken to the Warren Lasch Conservation Center in North Charleston, SC, where the Hunley is being preserved at present time. Plans call for it to be used in a re-enactment of the Hunley's last moments.

From the November 8, 2009 Republican Herald. The students will be divided into three teams of five and each will build their own replica lantern which was made of tin with a single lens. Each of these will have a different fuel to see if it was possible to see the blue light that Union soldiers ashore reported seeing at a great distance.

Great to Get the Kids Involved. --B-R'er

Virginia's Governor Not Afraid to Be Politically Incorrect

Some really great news yesterday concerning Virginia's Governor Bob McDonnell who was not afraid to take a stand against those who stain the good name of Confederate soldiers and civilians who took a stand for what they believe in when he officially declared April Confederate History Month.

McDonnell is a Republican and his two Democratic predecessors refused to do recognize it so, for the last eight years, there was none. This story appeared in a lot of sources. The Washington Post ran an opinion poll and, last night the vote, out of 34,929 cast, was 32% agreeing with his decision and 68% against it.

I don't know anything else about the man, but you have to admire him standing up for his convictions despite the unpopularity of it these days. This is something I hope all southern governors seriously consider.

Hey, living here in Illinois and with our record of recent governorship, I'd sure be likely to vote for him should he move here.

Finally, a Man of Conviction. --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Wood National Cemetery, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

The Wood National Cemetery in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, covers 50.1 acres and has 38,010 burials and is located on the grounds of the former Soldiers Home. It is now closed to new interments.

from 1867 to 1871, soldiers were buried at several private cemeteries around Milwaukee, but in 1871, one opened to handle the military burials. In 1937, it was named in honor of General George Wood and it became a national Cemetery in 1973.

In 1903, a 60 foot tall granite obelisk was dedicated to the Civil War soldiers buried there.


JAMES K. DUNCAN-- Ordinary Seaman, US Navy
LEWIS A. ROUNDS-- Private, US Army
MICHAEL MCCORMICK-- Boatswain's Mate, US Navy

Honoring the Dead. --Old B-Runner

Some More on the Sultana Disaster-- Part 2

*** An East Tennessee Sultana Survivors Group met annually until 1928 when only four were left.

*** In 1982, an archaeological expedition uncovered what was believed to be the Sultana's wreckage.

*** Blackened deck planks and timbers were found 32 feet under a soybean field on the Arkansas side, about four miles from Memphis.

*** The Mississippi River has changed course several times since the Civil War. Today, the main channel lies about two miles of its 1865 position.

Something Most People Have Never Heard Of. --Old B-Runner

Monday, April 5, 2010

Civil War's Worst Generals

From the March 23rd

An effort was made to rank the worst Civil war generals. The following received Dishonorable mention:

UNION: William Franklin, Irwin McDowell, Don Carlos Buell, Franz Siegel and John C. Fremont.

CONFEDERATE: Bishop Polk, Earl van Dorn and John Hunt Morgan.

These are the "Bottom Five" of Worst generals. All of these also had reasoning, but I just listed them.

5. Ambrose Burnside (US)-- he of Fredericksburg oops.

4. Nathaniel Banks (US)

3. Braxton Bragg (CS)-- definitely agree here. Jeff Davis' pet and at Fort Fisher. "Goodbye Wilmington" as the Wilmington papers said when they learned he was taking over.

2. John Bell Hood (CS)-- hard to argue this one. It would have been interesting if Burnside had ever commanded an army against Hood.

1. Benjamin Butler (US)-- Fort Fisher proved his undoing.

Interesting list Whether You Agree or Not. --B-R'er

145th Battle of Bentonville, Good, But...-- Part 6

From the March 20th SCV Blog.

As we were leaving, I noticed a statue gleaming in the sunlight along with a lot of different Confederate flags hoisted on high. This area was fenced off from the state site, but there were a lot of people looking at it and standing around in the vicinity.

It turns out that this was a statue of Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston and the statue had just recently been put in place. The Smithfield Light Infantry SCV (Sons of Confederate Veterans) Camp had gotten an adjacent property owner to donate land and had raised $100,000 to pay for it. It had just been installed on the Tuesday, March 23rd.

Sculptor Carl Rigutti of Cary asked Craig Braswell to model for it. He goes around portraying Johnston and has a remarkable likeness to him.

The 400 pound bronze statue is on a slab of granite and it is believed that even those who do not share Southern heritage and might want to damage or tale the statue won't have much of a chance to do so.

The statue evidently was placed on private property because of problems with the state people at Bentonville. This way, the state has nothing to say about it.

A Big Tip of the hat to the Smithfield Light Infantry for Rising Above and Beyond in Their Effort to Honor a Confederate Hero. --Old B-Runner

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Some More on the Sultana Disaster-- Part 1

Back on May 19, 2009, I wrote about the horrible Sultana Disaster at the end of the war.

As we approach the 145th anniversary of it later this month, I have some more information about it, gleaned from Wikipedia.

*** The explosion took place on April 27, 1865. It was known that the boilers were in bad shape and needed replacement, but that would take three days, so they were just patched.

*** The soldiers were mostly from Ohio.

*** The explosion took place 7 to 9 miles north of Memphis.

*** The exact death toll is not known, but estimated at between 1300 and 1900. The official count is 1547. Between 700-800 survived.

*** In 1888, a death bed confession claimed that the explosion was caused by a coal torpedo.

More to Come. --Old B-Runner

Memorial Day's Civil War Connection

With this fast approaching, signalling the end of the school year, but more importantly, a way of saying thanks to all those who put their lives on the line to guarantee our freedoms, is actually, got its start after the Civil War.

memorial Day was officially proclaimed by General John Logan, commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, on May 5, 1868. It was first observed May 30, 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Confederate and Union soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.

New York became the first state to officially recognize it in 1873.

Honoring Not Just the Veterans of the Civil War, But All Wars.-- Blockade-R

Alonzo Cushing to Receive Medal of Honor

I first reported on this back on March 6th. This is from the March 16th Buffalo News.

Alonzo Cushing was born in Delafield, Wisconsin, but his family moved to Fredonia, New York, when he was six. he and his three brothers, all of whom served in the Union's military. It was the people of Wisconsin, however, who began lobbying for him to receive a Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions at the Battle of Gettysburg, July 3, 1863.

He will become the 33rd Civil War veteran to receive the honor posthumously and the 3448th altogether.

Alonzo's grandfather, Zattu Cushing, was the first to settle in what would become the Town of Pomfret, which today is called Fredonia.

In June 2006, a monument to Alonzo Cushing, containing a photo and his biography, was dedicated by students of Fredonia High School in the southwest corner of the Pioneer Cemetery. teachers and students continue to maintain it even today.

His brother William Cushing, perhaps better known for his naval exploits, including the sinking of the ironclad CSS Albemarle, was honored back in the 1860s with a monument next to the Fredonia (always makes me think of a Marx Brothers movie) Village Hall.

I Still Think William Should Be Next in Line for the MoH. --B-Runner

Some More on the CSS Pontchartrain

The Pontchartrain served in the Arkansas and White rivers. The 454 ton side wheel boat was built in New Albany, Indiana in 1859 and purchased by the Confederate Navy October 12, 1861. Even though it never saw actual combat,it was involved in a lot of activities in the area until its destruction in 1863.

It was 204 feet long, had a 36.6 foot beam, 10 foot draft (which hindered its movement considerably) and mounted seven guns.

It was at New Madrid, Missouri and Island No. 10. At one point, the Union Navy believed it was being clad in iron and it was very much on the minds of its commanders for fear of a sudden attack.

On February 6, 1863, Union Lt.-Cmdr. Thomas O. Selfridge (the sinker of ships, especially those beginning with the letter C), commander of the USS Conestoga, proposed a run up the Arkansas River to sink the Pontchartrain, but it never came to pass. The Conestoga was later sunk by an accidental collision with another Union ship.

When Union forces occupied Little Rock, Arkansas, on September 10, 1863, the Confederate burned the ship. With yesterday's entry, evidently the wreck site is known, but I never came across any mention of salvage, so perhaps the cannons are still aboard.

Again, before this article, I had never heard of the CSS Pontchartrain (and finally have figured out how to spell it without looking.

So Much for Its History. --B-R'er

Friday, April 2, 2010

Looking for the CSS Pontchartrain

From the February 24th THV of Little Rock, Arkansas.

William Stevens is leading an effort in the Arkansas River to locate and bring up items from the Confederate gunboat Pontchartrain. A bell and a jug have been found so far. Inside the jug, they found a pocket knife, marbles and bullets.

Before the war, it was a civilian boat called the Lizzie Simmons before it was acquired by the Confederacy.

When it was set on fire, it burned for 24 hours and there is only one known picture of the ship which appeared in a boat menu.

Never heard of It. --Old B-Runner

Making Fort Fisher a National Park...100 Years Ago

From the Back Then column in the Wilmington (NC) Star News. The reporter looks back at Wilmington papers 100 years ago and tells what was going on Back Then.

The February 4, 1910, paper reported that there were efforts going on to make Fort Fisher a national park. The Star ran a report from the Reverend J. A. Smith of Wilmington and H. C. McQueen, also of Wilmington, who had attended a hearing in Washington D.C. on the subject. Two veterans of the Union forces also attended the hearing.

All were members of the Fort Fisher Survivors Association.

Fort Fisher never became a national monument, but it did finally become a North Carolina State Historic Site.

Efforts Even Back Then. --Old B-Runner

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Original Fort Fisher Marker

Also from HMDB, the original "History on a Stick" located at Fort Fisher, North Carolina, by US-421.


Built by the Confederacy.
Its fall, Jan. 15, 1865
closed Wilmington, last
important Southern port
for blockade runners.

This sign, close to Battle Acre, always excited a little boy's historical inclinations as I was growing up, especially before there was much to see back in the 1950s.

I always liked the two gates with words Fort Fisher on them north of the fort. Both had cannonballs on top. The gates still stand, but the cannonballs are gone.

Memories from the Past. -- Old B-Runner

Last Stand in Wilmington, NC-- Part 2

Two brothers fought against each other at the Battle of Forks Road. Corporal Jacob Home of the Wilmington Horse Artillery and Corporal Jacob Home of the 2nd (US) North Carolina squared off after both, separately, stopped off to visit with their parents.

Both survived the battle and the war and lived their lives in New Hanover County.

In 2002, the Cameron family donated the site of the battle for the Cameron Art Museum with the stipulation that the fortifications and field be preserved.

Also on the site is a marker reading "Thank God we stand here today as friends." These words were spoken by Lt. Commander James Parker, USN, to Col. William Lamb at the 1903 reunion of veterans of the Battle of Fort Fisher and Wilmington Campaign.

These were submitted by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia, to HMDB.

I have never been to the Forks Road site or the Cameron Art Museum, but will have to visit the next time I'm in the Wilmington area.

Stuff I Didn't Know Much About. --Old B-Runner