Tuesday, November 30, 2010

GAR Hall in Aurora, Illinois

From the November 15th Aurora (Il) Beacon-News.

The GAR Hall is usually closed, but it was open on Veterans Day. In the last decade, there has been a constant battle to raise funds to preserve it. The Aurora Public Art Commission has plans to turn it into a museum. I know I voted quite often for it a few years ago when American Express held a contest for money for Chicago-area sites that needed preservation.

The cornerstone was laid July 4, 1877 and GAR (Grand Army of the Republic) Post #20 dedicated it July 4, 1878 at a cost of $7,187.54. It also functioned as the Aurora Public Library until 1904.

It was later declared structurally unsound and restoration began in 2000. Recently,t was awarded a $25,000 Illinois Department of Natural Resources grant.

Glad the Building is Being Saved. --Old B-Runner

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Effort to Preserve Blue Mountain, Georgia

From Nov. 15th Chattanooga Times-Courier.

Whitfield County, Georgia, preservationists are making an attempt to save as much of Blue Mountain from development as they can. During the Civil War, Union General William Tecumseh Sherman went to the top of Blue Mountain and from there had a perfect view of Confederate fortifications of Dalton, Georgia.

He was planning his advance on Tunnel Hill, a major obstacle on his way to attacking Atlanta. Today, there are a few areas of residential development. A rock wall dating to the war still exists on it.

The group is raising money to buy a 15-acre site at the top. So far $50,000, but need another $35,000.

Always Good to Save Something. --Old B-Runner

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Brother Might Join SCV

While talking with my brother at the Thanksgiving table today, he mentioned that he might be ready to join the local Sons of Confederate Veterans camp, the Goldsboro Rifles. Now that he is retired, he has more time so he is considering it.

The Goldsboro Rifles was the name of the local unit from Goldsboro and Wayne County, North Carolina, during the war. The organization continued into World War I, where my great uncle was an officer in it.

I belong to the Camp Douglas SCV Camp in Illinois which is named for the infamous Union prison camp in Chicago where 6,000 Confederates died during the war.

Here's hoping that he joins.

SCV All the Way. --Old B-Runner

Friday, November 19, 2010

Living History at the CSS Neuse This Weekend

From the Nov. 18th Kinston (NC) Free Press.

Soldier/sailor re-enactors/living history people will be at the CSS Neuse State Historic Site in Kinston, North Carolina this Saturday and Sunday to give the public a good taste of what life as a sailor during the Civil War was like.

They will be demonstrating all aspects of naval life including navigational techniques and daily shipboard living.

There will be a special artillery firing at dark on Saturday.

Tours of the CSS Neuse will also be offered and I am sure the recreated CSS Neusee II will also be open, plus there is that great Carolina-style bbq at King's.

Unfortunately, I will not be in the area that until late Sunday so will not be able to be there. Otherwise, I would definitely be there.

A Real Slice of History. --B-R'er

One Civil War Marine's Story: James Burke

From the New York Genweb-- Civil War Profiles.

James Burke was a Marine who was born in Limerick, Ireland, July 4, 1836 and became a drillmaster in the English Army. He served in the Crimean War before immigrating to the United States.

When the Civil War started, he enlisted in the USMC and served under Col. John Reynolds, commander of the Marine Barracks, Brooklyn Navy Yard. One week later, he was appointed drillmaster of the battalion. During the course if the war, he participated in several engagements.

At the close of the war, he was master-at-arms for Admiral Farragut and went on a two-year cruise with the admiral aboard the frigate USS Franklin and met the kings and queens of most European countries.

he then served as Recorder of the Navy under Admiral Goldsborough at the Navy Headquarters in Washington, DC. later, he served 51 years as Chief Clerk inthe general Lighthouse Depot under Admirals Schley, Evans and Dewey.

He also founded the Col. Shaw GAR Post on Staten Island.

Burke died at age 92 in 1928.

Quite a Career and Life. --Old B-Runner

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Whatever Happened to Lincoln's Chair at Ford's Theatre?-- Part 2

In 1893, the chair was sent to a museum at 516 10th Street, the house where Lincoln died where it was shown for four years before being returned to the Smithsonian. In 1902, it finally received an accession number, 38912, meaning it was officially logged in, and catalogued.

A celebrated legal case developed with Lincoln's stovepipe hat. The descendants of Phineas Gurley, the minister who gave Lincoln's eulogy, claimed that Mary Todd Lincoln had given the hat to him. This was apparently true, but the Smithsonian won and retained possession.

In the meantime. the chair remained in storage.

In 1928, Blanche Ford, the widow of Harry Clay Ford wrote the Smithsonian and asked if they had the chair and if so, why it wasn't on display. She added that if it was not in use, she'd like to have it.

The Smithsonian's curator, Theodore Belote, said it was not their policy to show objects "directly connected with such a horrible and deplorable event.' Some say he was no fan of Lincoln's and as such more than happy to get rid of it.

So, in the spring of 1929, Blanche Ford got it and by December sold it at auction for $2,400 to Isaac Sack, a Boston antiques dealer who conveyed it to Henry Ford for his new museum.

A Well-Traveled Chair. --B-R'er

Whatever Happened to Lincoln's Chair at Ford's Theatre?-- Part 1

From the Nov. 14th Washington Post "To arrive in Michigan's Henry Ford Museum, Lincoln's fateful chair took a circuitous journey" by John Kelly.

You'd think this chair, the one Abraham Lincoln was sitting in at Ford's Theatre on April 14, 1865 while viewing "Our American Cousin" when John Wilkes Booth shot him, would be in the Smithsonian in DC or at least back in the theater, but it is now at the Henry Ford Museum in Michigan.

An interesting story as to how it got there.

Joe Simms, an employee of the theater, had moved his boss' plushly upholstered chair into what had become the presidential box a short time before the event. That owner was manager Harry Clay Ford.

The War Department seized the theater after the assassination. Guards were posted on 10th Street and outside the box.

On April 22nd, Assistant Secretary of War Charles Dana ordered the chair removed after finding out souvenir hunters had been taking pieces off it.

In 1867, the War Department sent it to the Department of the Interior along with the stovepipe hat Lincoln wore that night to be put on display at the Patent Office building where it remained for two years.

More to Come. --Old B-Runner

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Back to Missouri and Route 66 for the Civil War-- Part 2-- Grant in Missouri

About time I got this in the blog. It originally dates from August 24th.


Back then, I was writing about the marriage of Julia Dent and U.S. Grant.

Julia's father, Col. Frederick Dent, owned slaves and 925 acres along Gravois Creek, ten miles southwest of St. Louis at the time.

Grant had roomed with her brother at West Point and found himself assigned to the Jefferson Barracks in St. Louis, five miles from the Dent home which was called White Haven.

In 1844, he gave her his West Point ring to seal their engagement.

After the marriage, Col. Dent gave Grant an 80 acre farm on today's Rock Hill Road where Grant built his famous cabin.

The wedding home on 4th Street was demolished in 1943 and is now a parking lot near Busch Stadium. The cabin, featured at the 1904 World's Fair, is now at Grant's Farm, the Busch family estate. White Haven is a National Historic Site.

There is a monument at St. Paul Cemetery on South Rock Hill Road marks where Grant tried unsuccessfully to be a farmer.

Getting Your Civil War and Route 66 Too. --B-R'er

Running the Blockade: Money-- Lee/Grant-- 6.3 Million

Some New (well, Newer) News About an Old War.


1. MONEY-- The National Parks Traveler reports that three battlefields have received money from the Land and Water Conservation Fund:

Richmond, Kentucky-- $29,500 to buy the Moody tract.
Franklin, Tennessee-- $492,000 for land purchase
Bentonville, North Carolina-- $306,000 for the Nell Howell tract and $150,000 for the Joyce Britt-Halliwell tract.


2. LEE/GRANT-- The Joplin (Mo.) Globe reported that a special traveling exhibit of Lee and Grant was at the Powers Museum (on Route 66) in Carthage from September 1 to Oct. 20th.

Featured were two full-sized tent replicas with belongings of both men including Grant's binoculars and Lee's Bible and glasses as well as letters from both. The September Missouri Route 66 Motor Tour stopped by for a look.


6.3 MILLION-- The Bangor (Maine) Daily News reports that during the war, 6.3 million soldiers and sailors served on both sides.

Now, You Know. --Old B-Runner

Some More on Newly-Located Camp Lawton

From the August 19th Natchez (Ms) Democrat.

Among the artifacts found so far is a corroded bronze buckle used to fasten tourniquets during amputations.

Finding Camp Lawton comes primarily from the efforts of Georgia Southern graduate student Kevin Chapman as his thesis project in archaeology.

Camp Lawton's dimensions were a quarter mile on each side and covered 42 acres, twice the size of Andersonville which it replaced.

Confederate General John H. Winder had the prison established and expected it to hold 32,000 prisoners and be the largest in the world.


THE Georgia PBS News said the camp's discovery might help Jenkins County's economy with incoming jobs and money. A museum is planned for the site.

We Owe a Big Thanks to Mr. Chapman. --B-R'er

Newly-Located Confederate Camp Lawton, Georgia

From the August 19th Washington Post.

Camp Lawton was built to relieve crowding at Camp Sumter at Andersonville and only occupied 37 days from October to November 1864 when Sherman burned it on his March to the Sea.

It was evacuated November 26, 1864, and the prisoners sent to other camps. During the time it was occupied, some 700-1300 Union prisoners died. It is assumed that the remains were removed but there are indications at the newly-relocated site that some bodies are still on site.

It has always been known where the general location of the camp was, but the exact spot has not been known until now.

While searching for the stockade remains, archaeologists found many belongings of former inmates.

The site was part of Magnolia Springs State Park but was turned over to the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

The artifacts will be on display at Georgia Southern University starting on October 10th.


From Georgia PBS Radio-- There is high security at Camp Lawton. A brand new 8-foot high fence topped with barb wire surrounds the site.

One of the artifacts found is a modified white clay pipe with a bullet melted down for the bowl. Talk about your getting baccy and lead at the same time. How can that not be healthy?

Always Neat When Something is Rediscovered. --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Ohio's Kellys Island in the Civil War

From the Nov. 15th Ottawa County (Ohio) Beacon

The new book "Kellys Island 1862-1865: The Civil War, the Island Soldiers & the Island Queen" by Leslie Korenko was reviewed.

By 1864, 100 of the total 600 residents of Kellys Island had enlisted in Union ranks.

One of these, Jacob Rush of the 3rd Ohio Cavalry lied about his age and enlisted at age 15. For his efforts, he was wounded twice and just before the end of his enlistment, was captured, accused of being a spy and sent to Cahaba Prison. While there, he helped organize an unsuccessful escape and survived a flood.

When he was released,he was one of over 2000 returning Union prisoners on board the Sultana when an explosion sank the ship. Of 550 survivors, 150 more died within 24 hours. This was one of the worst maritime disasters in US history.


Leslie Konerko also delves into the Confederate attempt in September 1864 to free the prisoners held on Johnson's Island. The steamers Philo Parsons and Island Queen were seized in Put-In-Bay with plans to seize the USS Michigan and turn its gins on the prison.

On the Island Queen were 25 soldiers of the 130th Ohio Volunteer Militia who were just returning from 100 days service.

Looks like a great read about Ohio's North Coast during the war.

A Little-Known Aspect of the War. --Old B-Runner

Monday, November 15, 2010

Was It the First Cannonball Fired at Fort Sumter?

A very interesting entry in the Civil War Picket blog http://civil-war-picket.blogspot.com.

Perhaps, the cannonball sitting outside this Georgia courthouse was the first shot of the Civil War. Perhaps not.

At 4:30 am, April 12, 1861, 66 year-old Southern firebrand Edmund Ruffin fired the first shot of the Civil War. Captain G. B. Cuthbert of the Palmetto Guards wrote, "The first shell from Columbiad No. 1, fired by the venerable Ruffin burst directly upon the parapet of the southwest angle of the fort."

Sumter surrendered 34 hours later.

P.W. Alexander, a correspondent from Thomaston, Georgia was there and got out to the fort as soon as he could with intentions of finding Ruffin's shot. He found it, or what he thought may have been that first shot.

"The big ten-inch ball fell within Fort Sumter without doing any damage," reported the Thomaston Times. Alexander got it and sent it along to his friend B. B. White.

Today, about 800,000 a year visit Fort Sumter with far fewer going to the Upson County courthouse in Thomaston, Georgia, 300 miles from Charleston and 60 miles south of Atlanta.

I doubt that it was the first shell. Picking one specific shell from the many fired during the siege would be hard and plus Captain Cuthbert reported that it burst. The one in Georgia is in one piece.

Either way, it was at Fort Sumter during these early days of the war.

I have written about a Confederate cannon that is believed to have been at the Battle of Fort Sumter located in Galena, Illinois at Grant Park. Check out the Galena Blakely label.

Something to Check Out If I Ever get Down That Way. --Old B-Runner

New Fort Fisher Book-- Part 3

Continued from November 10th.

Conditions at Elmira were horrible. Of 12,000 Confederates incarcerated there, 2,000 died. Of the 1,100 from Fort Fisher, 518 died, many buried in the Woodlawn National Cemetery.

Triebe said he was inspired by reading a letter home from captured Private Benjamin Kinlaw that was reprinted in a January 1865 Wilmington Daily News. He wanted to know if Kinlaw made it home. Unfortunately, the Bladen County farmer of the 3rd NC Artillery did not, dying of chronic diarrhea on April 16, 1865, just days after Lee's surrender at Appomattox.

Many a Tarheel soldier died of this as well as pneumonia, smallpox (or variola as it was often called in the records), measles, "periocarditis" and "remittant fever."

The book was compiled mostly from diaries and letters.

Richard Triebe argues that Elmira was used as a "retaliatory camp" because of the horrible conditions at Confederate prisons. The death rates at Elmira were twice that of most other Union camps. Point Lookout, Maryland had a 6.8% death rate.

One excellent source that Triebe provides is his list of the Confederate prisoners at Elmira including their name, rank, age if known, hometown, occupation if known, unit and ultimate fate.

Some were exchanged and most took the Oath of Allegiance after the Confederate surrender.

The book can be ordered through Amazon or in local bookstores

Looks Like a Good One. --Old B-Runner

Friday, November 12, 2010

Not Much Found in the Moat

From theNovember 11th Hampton Roads (Va) Daily Press.

The US Army is preparing to turn over Fort Monroe by September 11, 2011, but before doing so, they have committed to spending between $60 million and $70 million to remove munitions, pollutants and other debris from the fort and surrounding area. That includes the moat that completely wraps around the largest stone fort ever built in the United States.

An extensive search is being carried on right now by people chest deep in the water primarily searching for unexploded ordnance. So far the only "historic" thing found is a discarded early model of a color TV set circa 1960s.

However, previously they had discovered a cannon from the 1860s sticking up vertically in the ground and a 10-inch cannon ball.

I wasn't able to determine if it was in the moat or on land.

Wonder If the TV Still Works. --B-R'er

The Iron Brigade Highway

The state of Wisconsin named US Highway 12 the Iron Brigade Memorial Highway in 1993 with the Wisconsin Act 442. This road is named from one of the more famous units in the Union Army, the Iron Brigade which was also called the Black Hat Brigade.

They fought with the Army of the Potomac and earned their name because of their strong discipline, tenacious fighting ability and high casualty rate.

This Iron brigade Highway stretches from the Walworth County line at the Illinois border to St. Croix by Minnesota.

It serves as a living memorial to the whole brigade, but more specifically the 2nd, 6th and 7th Wisconsin regiments. The 19th Indiana and later the 24th Michigan were also in the brigade.

One Powerful Fighting Unit. --Old B-Runner

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Unknown Soldier of the Confederate States of America Tomb

From Wikipedia.

This is about the one in Biloxi, Mississippi at Beauvoir, the home of Confederate President Jefferson Davis. There are two others with similar names in Kentucky at Horse Cave and Perryville.

The remains of a Confederate soldier were discovered in 1979, by Rick Forte, Chairman of the Combined Boards at Beauvoir, at one of the battlefields of the Vicksburg Campaign. The remains were reburied in a cypress casket at Beauvoir in 1980.

The tomb is inscribed "Known But to God" and was dedicated June 6, 1981.

The remains have been authenticated by artifacts by them, but his name, unit and place of origin are not known.

The Great Seal of the CSA is at the top of it and at the base is part of a poem by Father Abram Joseph Ryan, the poet-priest of the Confederacy.

Ah! fearless on many a day for us,
They stood in front of the fray for us,
And held the foeman at bay for us;
And tears should fall
Fore'er o'er all
Who fell while wearing the Gray for us.

Something to Think About On This Day dedicated to All Veterans Who have Defended Our Freedoms. --Old B-Runner

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Happy 235th Birthday to the USMC

This date in 1775, Captain Samuel Nichols formed two battalions of Continental marines in Philadelphia to serve as naval infantry.

Thus begins the saga.

Congratulations United States Marine Corps, and let's not forget their grayclad brethren, the Confederate States Marine Corps.

The CSMC was established by act of the Confederate Congress March 16, 1861 and initially authorized for 45 officers and 944 enlested men.

A Salute. --Old B-Runner

The Civil War in St. Augustine, Florida

Dale Cox in his Civil War Florida blog in 2008 did a series on Civil War sites around this oldest city in the United States. This is from his June 16th entry.

His first two entries were on the Confederate water battery at Castillo San Marcos, then called Fort Marion.

Before the war, the east moat was filled in and twenty cannons mounted en-barbette. The fort was seized by state forces on January 7, 1861, even though Florida did not formally secede until January 10th. I'd say someone jumped the gun.

When the Union Navy reoccupied St. Augustine in 1862, five cannons remained. The others had been removed.

Cox reports that the water battery is still in good condition and you can still see the remains of the gun mounts.

http://civilwarflorida.blogspot.com

Well worth a visit to this site if you want to learn more about the actions in this little known Civil War state.

Wonder Where They Took the Other Fifteen Cannons? --B-R'er

New Fort Fisher Book-- Part 2

What is really good about this book is that it follows the lives of Confederate soldiers captured at Fort Fisher. There are lots of accounts of the battles and now, even books. I can think of three involved with the fort since Gragg's work in the 1980s. At one time, I had thought about writing a book on it, but now I don't have to, which, because of my paltry writing abilities is a good thing.

Throughout the 1970s and early 1980s, I stockpiled information for the book project and have about ten notebooks of material, which I may put in this blog in the future.

But, here, is a book of a different sort.

And, if nothing else, with all the Confederate bashing leveled at Andersonville and other southern prisons, it is good to show that northern ones weren't any better and I have to believe they could have been as the north wasn't suffering from lack of supplies like the south.

And, there is always "Hellmira"'s western annex at Chicago's Camp Douglas, or "Eighty Acres of Hell" as it was called.

Remember, the Winners get to Write the History Books. --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The State of the US Navy, October 1860-- Part 3

Continued from Oct. 28th blog entry.

With war looming on the horizon, it was apparent the US government wasn't doing too much to prepare for the possibility when you look at this report on what was going on at the naval yards.


PORTSMOUTH-- $10,000 allocated. Corvette CUMBERLAND in commission and will leave for New York in a few days. SANTEE on the stocks. Sloops MACEDONIAN and MARION recently returned from sea and are in the river.


WASHINGTON-- $17,000 allocated. Working on the PENSACOLA's machinery is the main business. Also busy working on the removal of the Naval Monument.


PENSACOLA-- $10,000 allocated. Not much going on other than the FULTON being laid up.


SACKETT'S HARBOR (western New York on Lake Ontario) AND MARE ISLAND (San Francisco) Not much going on.

So, there it is, the state of the US Navy on the eve of war.

Not Too Impressive. --Old B-Runner

Unexploded Ordnance at Fort Anderson, North Carolina?

It's kind of hard to do posting when the weather is as nice as it has been the last two days. Who'd ever expect temperatures in the upper sixties at this last date. I have to enjoy it while I can and have certainly been enjoying the deck. Well, the breeze just picked up and it got cloudy so a bit too cool, so here I sit "jest a typin' away" with my two little fingers.

From the May 19, 2008, Wilmington Star-News.

A chunk of a 166 pound 11-inch Civil War Union shell was found by Marines from Camp Lejeune, NC, who have been doing a thorough search of the fort and surrounding area to be sure nothing explodes while digging for a new handicap-accessible trail around Brunswick Town/Fort Anderson State Historic Site.

Some interesting items were excavated, but nothing explosive. Some Civil War-era shells, what appears to be an old drill, a piece of a wood stove, nails and carriage bolts.

But wait a minute, I have gone across those grounds many times in my youth. You mean it wasn't really all that safe?

Can't Have Visitors Blowing Up. It's Bad for Business. --B-R'er

New Fort Fisher Book-- Part 1

From the November 9th Wilmington (NC) Star-News Bookmarks column by Ben Steelman.

Author Richard H. Triebe has a new book out dealing with Confederate prisoners captured at the Battle of Fort Fisher January 15, 1865 titles "Fort Fisher to Elmira: The Fateful Journey of 518 Confederate Soldiers" by Coastal Books, paperback available on Amazon and soon local bookstores for $24.99.

He is also author of the Civil War novel"On a Rising Tide" and the pirate fiction "Port Royal."

The new book is based on what happened to 1,100 Confederate soldiers who, after capture, were shipped to Elmira prison camp in Elmira, New York, a camp that earned the nickname "Hellmira" from the inmates for the horrible conditions and treatment they received.

The town of Elmira was mostly a pastoral community in the 1800s. Mark twain made his home there after the war and wrote many of his best works from the place. His beloved wife Olivia was from there.

Elmira was originally built for Union soldiers in transit and the barracks were inadequate and poorly built. The buildings provided little protection from the winter of '64-'65 which turned out to be one of the coldest on record.

The prison camp opened in the summer of 1864 and soon became severely overcrowded reaching a peak of 12,000. And the prisoners in the barracks had it much better off than the ones housed in tents. To make matters worse, on St. Patrick's Day 1865, the Chemnung River flooded, depositing two feet of water in the tents and barracks.

More to Come. --Old B-Runner

Monday, November 8, 2010

North Carolina Confederate Marine and Sailor Roster

From the August 15th News 14 Carolina "Historian to create Confederate Marine and sailor roster" by Andrea Pacetti.

Generally, very little is known about the Confederate Navy and Marines, but Sion Harrington, a historian with the North Carolina Department of Archives and History is making a complete roster of all North Carolinians who served in the two branches.

He figures around 2,500 out of the 135,000 to 140,000 were from the state.

One was Lt. Francis Hawkes Cameron of Hillsborough who later became North Carolina's Adjutant General.

The Archives and History department has what is considered to be the largest collection of enlisted Confederate Marine correspondence in the world written by two Washington County brothers.

One said he was going to be put in the Marines and he didn't even know what they were. He further even misspelled it "mariens." He considered serving in it a better deal as he got better clothes and food.

There were many transfers from the Army to the Navy because it was less strenuous. Some had been wounded and could no longer endure rigorous marching.

Even though the Confederate Navy and Marines were tremendously outsized by the Army and their Union counterparts, they still participated in many operations and battles.

If anyone has any information, they are urged to contact Harrington at 1-919-807-7310.

Making a Little-Known Aspect of the War More Known. --Old B-Runner

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Battle of Wassaw Sound-- Part 2

With the Atlanta grounded and unable to use its guns, the fight did not take long to be over.

The USS Weehawken advanced and held its fire until 300 yards. It hit the Atlanta five times with its 350 pound shot and punched a hole in the casemate. The pilot house and port shutter were crushed severely wounding the pilot and several helmsmen.

Webb was forced to surrender his ship after only a few minutes.

The monitor Nahant did not fire a shot. Casualties aboard the Confederate ironclad were 1 killed and 11 wounded. Eleven officers and 124 men surrendered and were put on the USS Cimarron and USS Oleander.

The Atlanta was condemned in prize court September 1863. The US Navy bought it, repaired the ship and commissioned it the USS Atlanta February 2, 1864.

It spent most of its US career stationed on the James River, Virginia. It was sold at auction in 1869.

The Weehawken's commander, John Rodgers, became a national hero and was promoted to commander. He later became a Rear Admiral.

The Weehawken sank while at anchor in a gale off Charleston, SC, December 6, 1863 with a loss of 4 officers and 27 men. The Nahant was sold in 1904.

The CSS Isondiga was burned to prevent capture in 1864. The CSS Resolute was captured and taken into US naval service.

I Didn't Know the Fight Was Called the Battle of Wassaw Sound. --B-R'er

Colonel William Lamb-- Commander of Fort Fisher-- Part 2

William Lamb was wounded and captured at the fall of Fort Fisher on January 15, 1865. His imprisonment was near home, at Fort Monroe, before being released May 1, 1865.

The wound kept him crippled for seven years.

After release, he returned to Norfolk and was involved in several businesses and politics, serving three terms as mayor. While in office, he established public schools in the city for both white and black children.

A loyal supporter of the College of William and Mary, he gave of his time and money throughout his life. He also gave $50,000 to an organization that helped Confederate veterans.

He also became a good friend of Union General Curtis who had led the capture of Fort Fisher and been badly wounded himself. Lamb referred to Curtis as
"My Friend, the Enemy."

Lamb also became known as "The Hero of Fort Fisher. He died March 23, 1909, and was buried in Norfolk, Virginia.

The Hero of Fort Fisher. --Old B-Runner

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Battle of Wassaw Sound-- Part 1

From Wikipedia.

The battle between the Confederate ironclad Atlanta and the two Union monitors Weehawken and Nahant.

Both monitors were of the Passaic-class.

On June 10, 1863, South Atlantic Blockading Squadron commander, Rear Admiral DuPont received word that the CSS Atlanta was getting ready to descend he Wilmington River to strike Union blockaders at Wassau Sound, Georgia.

Captain John Rodgers of the Weehawken was put in overall command of vessels at that place.

On June 15th, the Atlanta got underway, passing obstructions on the Wilmington River and coaling that night.

The Atlanta was accompanied by the CSS Isondiga and the CSS Resolute. They all got underway before daylight on the 17th. The Atlanta had also been fitted with a percussion torpedo at the end of a long spar to be used to explode under the Weehawken.

Unfortunately for the Atlanata, it ran aground and swayed to an angle that made it difficult to fire its guns.

More to Come. --Old B-Runner

Colonel William Lamb, Commander of Fort Fisher-- Part 1

From the Salem Street gazette http://salemstreetgazette.com.

William Lamb was born September 27, 1835 in Norfolk, Virginia. He went to several academies before entering William and Mary College in 1852 where he graduated at age 20 with a law degree, but was too young to practice.

His father purchased half interest in a local newspaper, the Southern Argus, which folded in 1861 when most of the staff went off and joined the Confederate Army.

Lamb became captain of Co. C, 6th Virginia and was appointed major and transferred to Wilmington, NC, as head of the Quartermaster Department. He later became commander of Fort St. Phillips, below Wilmington.

When the 36th North Carolina was formed in 1862, he was chosen as its colonel. The 36th became the garrison of Fort Fisher and Lamb was appointed the fort's commander July 4, 1862, a post he retained for the duration of the war.

Under his command, the fort became the largest man-made earthen fort in the United States.

More to Come. --Old B-Runner

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Running the Blockade: What We Should Do-- No End Boycott-- Union Officer Pictures

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


1. WHAT WE SHOULD DO-- The Nov. 3rd Augusta (Ga) Chronicle had a letter to the editor about the Oct. Klan/Nazi rally at Augusta State University and made a really good point. Of course, these hate groups usually fly the Confederate flag and that is a big reason certain groups equate all things Confederate with hate against them.

The writer urges the Sons of Confederate Veterans and United Daughters of the Confederacy to come out very publicly against the use of the flag in these circumstances. Good idea. It couldn't hurt but certainly wouldn't stop them.

But, these groups also fly the US flag. What to do about that?


2. NO END BOYCOTT-- Black South Carolina Senator Robert Ford has urged the NAACP to drop its 11-year boycott against state tourism, but the group refuses to do it.


3. UNION OFFICER PICTURES-- The Civil War Navy and Marine Forum Yahoo e-mail group has posted 58 era photographs of Union naval officers at its site. Check under photos.

So,e New News About an Old War. --B-R'er

USS Narcissus

I previously had two more entries on the USS Narcissus, but found spelling errors and was woking on them when I lost them.

Went to good old Wikipedia for this information.

The USS Narcissus was a screw steamer tug launched in July 1863 as the Mary Cook in East Albany, New York.

It was purchased by the US Navy and commissioned in February 1864 and joined the West Gulf Blockading Squadron at New Orleans. It was 82 feet long and mounted 1X20-pdr Parrott Rifle and 1Xheavy 12-pdr. I wonder if the guns are still on the wreck?

It was assigned patrol duty on the Mississippi Sound and captured one blockade-runner.

Then, it supported cleanup operations after the Battle of Mobile Bay. On December 7th, in a violent storm, it struck a Confederate mine and sank in just 15 minutes. The Narcissus was raised and repaired in Pensacola and then used as a dispatch boat.

On January 4, 1866, it struck a shoal off Egmont Key by Tampa, Florida. When the cold Gulf water hit the boiler, it exploded, killing all 19 or 23 men aboard.

There was a lighthouse on Egmont Key at he time, but the light had not yet been turned back on after the war. Had it been on, it is likely that the Narcissus would not have hot that shoal.

Interesting Story About a Little-Known Warship. --Old B-Runner

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

USS Narcissus Wreck Might Receive State Designation

From the October 29, 2010 Tampa (Fl) Tribune.

There is not too much left of the tugboat USS Narcissus, located two miles west of Fort DeSoto. A photo of divers at the ship's 6.5 foot propeller accompanies the article. It lies in about 18 feet of water. It hit a shoal in 1866 and exploded, killing all 29 aboard.

By the 1990s, you could only see the steam engine, but the busy 2005 hurricane season and nearby dredging have exposed much more of the ship.

Now, the entire engine, propeller and part of the boiler can be seen.

Divers from the Florida Aquarium have been investigating it with the hopes that it will become Florida's 12 Underwater Archaeological Preserve.

A Ship I've never Heard of Before. --B-R'er

Marking the Civil War Veteran Gravesites

From the May 5th Fresno (Ca) Bee (not sure what year, probably 2008)

Bill Melton of Porterville, California, has been identifying, gathering and collecting personal and family histories of Civil War veterans since 2003 when he saw a re-enactment in Fresno and got bitten by the bug.

He is part of the ongoing National Civil War Burial Survey.

When new markers are needed, the Veterans Administration pay for the marker and the local veterans organization pays to set up the stone. So far, Melton has identified 206 Civil War graves, 166 Union and 40 Confederate.

The grave site of Harrison White of New York is located in old Porterville Cemetery. He joined the Union Army in 1861 at the age of 23 as a private. He rose through the ranks to captain and commanded an all-black infantry unit in Mississippi. Only white men were able to be officers in black units.

Many of the black soldiers went on to become the famous Buffalo Soldiers.

He came to California in 1870.

From the March 27th Historic Happenings: A Visalia History blog.

Bill Melton had by then located 216 Confederate and Union veteran gravesites in Visalia, Three Rivers, Exeter, Farmersville, Porterville, Lindsay and Strathmore.

An Admirable Calling. --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Captain Armond LaMar deRosset

From the Feb. 1, 1910, Wilmington (NC) Star-News.

Captain deRosset died after a lengthy sickness.

He was born in Wilmington, NC, in 1842, attended Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, and returned to Wilmington at the outbreak of the war. He served at Fort Caswell and at Confederate Point (which later became Fort Fisher).

He rose through the ranks and became a lieutenant in the 3rd North Carolina, serving under his brother-in-law Col. Gaston Mears in Richmond-area battles.

DeRosset was badly wounded at Antietam and again at the Battle of Averasboro, NC.

Never Heard of Him. --Old B-Runner

St. Albans Raid

From the March 12th St. Albans (Vt) Messenger.

Preparations are underway to mark the 150th anniversary of the famed St. Albans Raid which took place October 19, 1864. It is considered the northern-most action of the war.

Warren Hamm, a retire US Navy Rear Admiral believes the city has "been remiss by not pushing this for the past 50 to 60 years.

On October 19, 1864, Bennett Young led 21 Confederate soldiers into St. Albans from Canada with intentions to kill and rob banks. They held hostages on the city green and robbed $208,000 from three banks before fleeing back into Canada where authorities determined Young's group were acting on military orders and refused to extradite them back to the US.

Canadian courts ruled that the Confederates were not criminals, but the $88,000 they had on them was not returned to St. Albans.

Wonder What Happened to the Other $120,000? --Old B-Runner

Monday, November 1, 2010

Rotating the H. L. Hunley

From the August 6 Charleston (SC) Post and Courier.

Plans call for rotating the hull of the Confederate submarine Hunley so that it will sit flat instead of the 45 degree angle where it has rested since 1864. When it was raised, it was kept at that angle.

Rotating the hull is a very tricky process as some parts of the vessel are a lot weaker than others. There is concretion (hardened sand, sediment and shell) from its 136 years under the sea which needs to be removed. The delicate process of removal involves the use of chemicals and electric current.

"It's like pouring concrete on and egg and then trying to remove it without breaking the egg," said Paul Mardikan, the senior conservator at the warren Lasch Conservation center in North Charleston, where the ship is now.

The starboard side, where the Hunley has been resting, until now has been largely unseen. You can't even see it in Conrad Wise Chapman's painting of the sub from the war.

It is hoped that clues to the submarine's demise might solve the question.

I Sure Would Like to See That Sub. --Old B-Runner

New Smyrna, Florida in the Civil War

New Smyrna was once at the end of the King's Highway which began at St. Mary's River and then went to St. Augustine before ending in New Smyrna. It was cleared starting in 1632 and followed old Indian trails and was one of the first roads in the New World.

Colonists later widened it to 30 feet.

In New Smyrna, founder Dr. Andrew Turnbull had a coquina stone wharf built around 1768. A lot of trade took place from this spot. You can still see the Old Wharf at low tide at the foot of Clinch Street.

During the Civil War, there were numerous salt works in the area as well as blockade-running. The area was watched by blockaders USS Penguin and the USS Henry Andrews. On March 24, 1862, six small boats were seen coming toward New Smyrna after they had destroyed some slat works. The 3rd Florida, under Captain Strain, attacked the boats. No Confederates were killed, but eight Union sailors were. The next day, the Confederates returned the bodies and personal effects of two officers to the Union ships.

In July 1863, two Union warships bombarded New Smyrna for two days. The Old Stone Wharf and James Sheldon's 40 room hotel were destroyed.

Today, there is a Coquina Wharf B&B in New Smyrna.

A Little-Known Part of History. --B-R'er

The Fort Fisher-Southport Ferry

From the February 6, 1960, Wilmington (NC)Star-News.

A Wilmington delegation urged the Highway Commission to support ferry service between Southport and Fort Fisher near the mouth of the Cape Fear River. It was reported that it was the only missing link in North Carolina's All Seashore Highway.

Before the ferry, which exists today, if you wanted to go from Pleasure Island (Carolina Beach and Kure Beach) and Fort Fisher to Southport, the town on the other side of the river, you had to drive twenty miles back to Wilmington, cross the river and back another 25 miles to Southport.

Today, you just get on the ferry, pay a nominal sum and enjoy a pleasurable ride across the river. It sure saves a lot of miles and Wilmington traffic is no great fun.

I was not able to find out anything else about North Carolina's All Seashore Highway.

Sure Glad They Brought in the Ferry. Old B-Runner