The Battle of Fort Fisher, N.C.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

A New Blog Cometh

Changes to this blog start tomorrow as a new one is being spun off this one.

This one will continue to have items about the Civil War, but anything dealing with the Navies of that conflict will be on the new one.

I also expect the number of entries on this one to drop significantly.

The new one is at

Nothing is posted there yet, but hopefully tomorrow if I recover from New Year's Eve and Da Bears game.

Someone Talk me Out of It.  --Old B-Runner for the last time on this blog signoff.  Going to the new blog.

The US Army's Second United States Cavalry-- Part 2

On July 20, 1857, Lt. John Bell Hood and 25 men from Co. G fought Indians at devil's River and suffered seven casualties.  Lt. Hood suffered a painful wound when an arrow pinned his hand to his saddle.

After secession, the regiment was ordered out of Texas in late February, to the Carlisle, Pennsylvania, barracks under command of Major George H. Thomas.  At the US Cavalry reorganization in the fall of 1861, the 2nd became the Fifth US Cavalry.

The regiment consisted of ten companies where each member had horses selected by similar size and stature.

Van Dorn's company was called the "Mobile Grays."

Quite an Organization.  --Old B'R'er (Soon to be Old Secesh)

The US Army's Second United States Cavalry-- Part 1

From the Texas State Historical Association.

The famous 2nd cavalry was one of four new regiments approved by Congress on March 4, 1855, and organized specifically for service on the Texas frontier.

This was an elite organization, whose troops only rode the finest horses and were issued the latest equipment.  Officers were hand-picked by Secretary of War Jefferson Davis.  The regiment became known as "Jeff Davis' Own." Most officers were West Point graduates and Southern.

Although it existed for just six and a half years, sixteen officers went on to become generals, eleven Confederate.

Four of the eight full Confederate generals: Albert Sidney Johnston, Robert E. Lee, Kirby Smith and John Bell Hood, came from the unit.

At various times, it was commanded by Johnston, Lee, Earl Van Dorn and George H. Thomas.

More to Come.  --Old B-Runner (Soon to be Old Secesh)

Friday, December 30, 2011

The Cow Cavalry and Battle of Ft. Myers (Fla)-- Part 2: "I Respectfully Decline"

Three companies of the Cow Cavalry and one cannon set out and arrived at Fort Thomson (LaBelle, Fl.) February 19th and then marched down the river and encamped near Billy's Creek.  On Feb. 20th, they surprised some black soldiers on picket duty and shot them.  This alerted the Fort Myers, whereupon the Confederates fired their cannon and demanded it surrender.

The fort's commander, Captain James Doyle replied, "I respectfully decline."

He wheeled his two cannons out and the battle was on,continuing throughout the day.

On Feb. 21, 1865, the Cow cavalry returned to Fort Meade, having failed to capture the Union fort.  Of 300 Union troops involved, there was one dead and three wounded.  Of the 250 Confederates, one was wounded.

Nothing remains of the fort today, but it was located by the downtown Ft. Myers Historical District.  The original US-41 (Cleveland Avenue) goes by the former location.

Cow cavalry to the Rescue!  --Old B-Runner (Soon to be Old Secesh)

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Cow Cavalry and the Battle of Fort Myers (Fla.)-- Part 1

Continued from my Feb. 10, 2011 entry

It took place Feb. 25, 1865, and is regarded as the southernmost Civil War battle.  The fort was originally built during the Seminole War, but was abandoned after it ended.  Reoccupied by Union soldiers in 1863 who intended to use it as a base to attack cattle ranches along the Caloosahatchie River which were supplying beef to the Confederacy.  It is estimated that by 1865, some 4,000 head of cattle had been taken by them.

The fort was also a refugee center for escaped slaves and Union sympathizers with 400 in it at one point.

It was garrisoned by the and Florida Cavalry, a company of the 110th New York and a company of black soldiers from the 2nd USCT, both of these units came from Union Fort Zachary Taylor in Key West. 

The Confederates organized a special detachment to stop Federal incursions and became known as the Cattle Guard Battalion, or "Cow Cavalry."

The unit was posted at Fort Meade and in February 1865, ordered to attack Fort Myers.

Get Them Cows, You Cavalry.  --Old B-Runner (Soon to Be Old Secesh)

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Fort Fisher, Dec. 28, 1864: "A Gross and Culpable Failure"

**  Morning--  The steamer Banshee runs the blockade into New Inlet.

**  5:30 pm--  President Lincoln queries Grant:  "If there be no objection, please tell me what you now understand of the Wilmington expedition, present and prospective."

**  An angry Grant replies: "The Wilmington expedition has proven a gross and culpable failure.  Many of the troops are now back here [in Virginia].  Delays and free talk of the object of the expedition enabled the enemy to move troops to Wilmington to defeat it.

After the expedition sailed from Fort Monroe three days of fine weather were squandered, during which the enemy was without a force to protect himself.  Who is to blame I hope will be known."

Of course, who was to blame?  None other than Butler.

And End to the First Attack.  --Old B-Runner (Soon to Be Old Secesh)

Altered Lincoln Pardon

From the Jan. 31st Washington Post "Archivists won't display altered Lincoln Pardon."

A pardon signed by Lincoln, but whose date was altered to appear to have been one of his last acts before the assassination, has been taken out of circulation.

It was changed by historian Thomas Lowry who wrote a 5 in over the 4 in 1864 sometime in 1998 using a fountain pen.

Lincoln did pardon a mentally incompetent Army Private Patrick Murphy on April 14, 1864. The original has been replaced by a high resolution scan after determining that any attempt to delete the 5 would cause irreparable damage.

Not very Nice of Lowry. --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A New Naval Blog January 1st

January 1, 2012, I will be launching a new blog off of this one called "Running the Blockade."

This one will continue with items about North Carolina, Illinois, the Civil War Today and any other item I find of interest. I expect to have 10-15 posts a month.

The new blog will about Fort Fisher and all things Naval. I expect to have 20-25 entries a month in it.

See You Then. --Old B-Runner

Fort Fisher 147 Years Ago Today

** Instead of overwhelming Curtis' vulnerable troops, Bragg let them escape from the beach.

** Fort Fisher fires a defiant volley as the Union fleet sails away.

** During the night, the steamer Wild Rover runs the blockade at New Inlet.

** Lamb and Whiting are greatly dissatisfied at Bragg's inactivity and failure to crush the enemy forces ashore.

** Union general U.S. Grant and Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles are infuriated to learn the Fort Fisher expedition a failure.

Kind of interesting that a descendant of Bragg is now in charge of the battleship USS North Carolina in Wilmington.

Finally, Good News for the Confederacy, But Not for Long. --Old B-Runner

Monday, December 26, 2011

A Southern Response to Nast's Santa

Alright, now Northern children had a Santa Claus bringing them stuff. Would that Santa then ignore the children of the South in those war years?

A Dec. 1862 editorial in the Staunton, Virginia Spectator noted that "as Kris Kringle is a fat Dutchman with Yankee proclivities" and very likely "stingy in the distribution of his presents of candy, cakes, toys, etc., to the little ones.

It urged Staunton's children to hang up their stockings anyway and unless "if he be not wholly Yankeeized" would fill them as before.

I Don't Think They Much Liked Yankees. --Old B-Runner

Nast's Santa Claus Does Nothing for Union Morale 149 Years Ago

From the Dec. 23rd Staunton (Va) News-Leader "Nast's Civil War Santa Claus failed to boost Union morale" by Charles Culbertson.

It had been a long, hard and generally losing war effort for the Union in 1862 and the Christmas season found an essentially stalemate existing.

At this time, however, the North received dear old Santa Claus in his definitive and now-recognized form.

Thomas Nast, a Bavarian-born son of German immigrants had made a name for himself as a political cartoonist and illustrator for Harper's Weekly and Franl Leslie's Illustrated Magazine. He created a character for Santa based on a 4th Century bishop in Asia Minor named St. Nicholas who had become known to the western world as patron saint for children and a symbol of Christmas.

Until 1862, he had been "portrayed as tall and cadaverous," to the point of being frightening to children. Nast fattened him up and dressed him in a gaudy red suit with white trim, a flowing white beard and a bag of toys.

Even so, historians agree that dear old Santa didn't cheer up the Union troops.

How Sad. --Old B-R'er

Confederate Victory at Fort Fisher 147 Years Ago


Fort Fisher and its garrison remain intact.

Benjamin Butler and his army departs for Hampton Roads, Virginia.

Six hundred troops from Union General Curtis' First Brigade remain stranded on the beach north of the fort, as weather has deteriorated too much for a safe withdrawal. There are several hundred captured Confederates with them. general Bragg makes no attempt to take advantage of the situation.

Between noon and late afternoon, Bragg arrives at Sugar Loaf north of the fort. Major Gen. Hoke and Hagood's Brigade reach the place, followed by Kirkland's men later in the afternoon.

An Opportunity Missed. --Old B-Runner

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Fort Fisher Attacked 147 Years Ago

Every year, I write about the two battles fought at Fort Fisher at this time.

Today, 147 years ago, the experiment to blow up a US ship full of gunpowder in hopes of knocking down the fort's earthen parapets had happened at 1:40 am in the morning. the fort still stood.

At dawn, the 64-ship Union fleet moves into position to attack the fort., opening at 12:40 pm, in about an hour from now. The navy's five largest frigates ate on hand: Susquehannah, Wabash, Colorado, Powhattan and Minnesota. The Colorado alone mounted more guns than the whole fort.

Eventually, around 10,000 shells fired at Fisher. At dusk, the Union fleet withdraws to positions further out at sea.

The next day, the bombardment continued and troops were landed, but later taken off.

No entry tomorrow because of it being Sunday.

Merry Christmas. --Old B-R'er

Christmas in 1861: "The Young Ones Ransacked"

From AP's This Week in the Civil War for week of December 25th. A look back 150 years ago.

The Trent Affair is still a major issue and Lincoln holds a cabinet meeting about it on Christmas Day. That evening, he presided over a Christmas party at the White House attempting some holiday cheer in the absence of his nation's "Peace on Earth."

The New York Herald-Tribune reported that churches were filled to overflowing on Christmas with lots of people out ice skating on frozen ponds and making merry.

"The little ones ransacked the repositories of Chris Kringle, shouted the elve's house with delight over treasures which the jolly old fellow had dropped on them over-night...and that after that the winged hours of the long Winter evening passed imperceptibly away, with song and dance, and jest and laugh, lightening the heart, and making each participant more happy and content with his burden, brightening the future with new hope."

Sounds Like a Good Christmas. --Old B-Runner

Friday, December 23, 2011

This Week in the War 150 Years Ago: Washington DC Under Blockade

Also, at this time, the Confederacy had a blockade of the nation's capital along the Potomac River. Union vessels still were able to get by it, though according to AP reports Dec. 18th: "Some eight or ten schooners have run the blockade on the Potomac during the past forty-eight hours."

But, "The new batteries which the rebels have recently disclosed, show that it is their intention to make the blockade as effectual as they can."

Before these last several months, I was unaware that the Confederates had a blockade of their own along the Potomac, figuring that Union forces had immediately seized all ground on the south bank of the river.

You always hear of the Union blockade of the Southern coast, but here, the Confederates had their own little blockade going. And, the North had their own blockade-runners.

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

This Week in the War 150 Years Ago: The Trent Affair Grows

From AP. For the week beginning December 18th.

It is kind of neat to be looking at the events and realize they took place 150 years ago to these days. that is a real Civil War connection.

The diplomatic crisis with Britain called the Trent Affair just continued to get worse. Confederate envoys Slidell and Mason had been taken off the British ship Trent on Nov. 8th. The British government and people were outraged that such an offense to their neutrality took place.

The British government demanded an apology and immediate release of the Confederate commissioners. Lincoln and his cabinet knew that fighting another country would be a real bad thing right now.

The British Minister in Washington, DC, sent a message to the US Secretary of State Dec. 19th demanding a reply.

That reply came Dec. 27th and said the Confederates would be released and reparations paid.

Another War Averted. --Old B-R'er

Illinois, December 1861-- Part 2

On December 10th, Fuller reported to Governor Richard Yates the numbers and locations of Illinois regiments in service.

17,400 were still in camps in Illinois training
60,540 overall were in service, most of whom that were already in the field were stationed in Missouri.

He was not happy about an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 Illinois men who had enlisted in Missouri, Kansas and Iowa regiments, giving those states the numbers.

Yates wrote Dec. 12th, that during the past two weeks, the state had received 6,000 "new and superior arms and had distributed them to Illinois units "most exposed to the enemy."

The state had also taken delivery of a number of James rifled cannons. I imagine these were going to Illinois artillery units.

By the end of December, most every Illinois county had had one or more casualties in national service. The fourth-largest Illinois town, Springfield, had lost two in battle.

I was always of the opinion that the national government provided weapons to the state regiments.

The War Comes to Illinois. --Old B-Runner

Illinois, December 1861-- Part 1

From the Illinois Civil War 150 site.

On November 11, 1861, Judge Allen C. Fuller of Belvidere was appointed adjutant general, Illinois' chief military administrator.

Thousands of volunteers were ar camps in Chicago (Douglas) and Springfeld (Butler) and not doing anything, many awaiting regimental organization while men hoping to be appointed officers were out trying to find more recruits to bring the unit up to regimental size.

Fuller determined to immediately organize these groups into regiments, first going to Camp Douglas and then to Camp Butler where he took the fragments and just put them together until he had enough soldiers for a regiment.

No doubt, this angered some of those men hoping to be officers.

By December, however, both camps were completely devoid of men awaiting assignment.

A Man of Motion. --Old B-R'er

Get Your Illinois Sesquicentennial Information Here

The state of Illinois has opened a new website including a calendar of events, timeline of the Civil War and Illinois during the era.

Also, there are photos and documents and dozens of downloadable pdfs.

Worth checking out.

And You Thought Nothing Much Happened or Is Happening in Illinois for the Sesquicentennial. --Old B-Runner

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Union Flags at Alsace Lutheran Cemetery

From the Feb. 9, 2011, Reading (Pa) Eagle.

A year ago, 25 Betsy Ross flags were put on the graves of the 25 Revolutionary War veterans buried at the Alsace Lutheran Cemetery.

Recently Barry L. Kauffman, the superintendent of the cemetery and Neil Scheidt paid $4 each for 175 33-star variety ones flown at the time of Fort Sumter for the 154 Union soldiers buried there.

One was killed in action, five died of disease, one died in a train wreck after a battle and the rest lived to old age. It is believed that between eight and ten were wounded at the Battle of Gettysburg.

Most were members of the Reading First Defenders (became part of the 48th Pennsylvania Volunteers) and the Ringgold Light Artillery, both units were among the first to answer Lincoln's call for volunteers in April 1861. They signed up for three months and most reenlisted.

One Little Part of History. Not Forgotten. --Old B-R'er

Fort Mason, Texas

When Texas seceded in 1861, Robert E. Lee was stationed at Fort Mason in Texas in command of the Second US Cavalry. The fort is located northwest of Austin and San Antonio, built in 1851.

The post has a pre-Civil War connection to the conflict in that some twenty junior and field grade officers were stationed there who went on to become generals during the war including John Bell Hood, Lee, Albert Sidney Johnston, Earl van Dorn, Fitzhugh Lee, Kirby Smith and William J. Hardee on the Confederate side.

Twelve became Union generals including George H. Thomas.

The only remaining structure from Fort Mason is the officers quarters. Many of the homes surrounding the site were built of stone from the fort.

In 1862, the Confederates held 215 prisoners there under the suspicion of being Unionists.

During the course of the war, Indian attacks became more frequent.

Texas' Fort Mason. --Old B-Runner

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Texas in the Civil War

Fromthe State of Texas website.

** State cemetery in Austin with the ornate grave of General Albert Johnston

** Palmetto Ranch Battlefield, site of the last Civil War land battle.

** Comfort, Texas-- Treue der Union Monument-- oldest Texas Civil War monument. Burial site of Unionists killed at the Battle of the Nueces.

** Galveston-- Civil War monument commemorating the battle of Galveston and Juneteenth.

** Liendo Plantation in Hempstead was a wartime recruitment center and POW camp.

** Sabine Pass Battlefield state Historic Site, 15 miles south of Port Arthur.

** Sam Bell Maxey House in Paris. Home of the Confederate general, later US Senator.

And You didn't Think There Were Any Civil War Sites in Texas. --Old B-R'er

Ten Best Civil War Movies

Another list, expanded, from the Screen Junkies.

1. Cold Mountain
2. Gone With the Wind
3. The Red Badge of Courage
4. Gods and Generals
5. Gettysburg

6. Glory
7. Shenandoah
8. Andersonville
9. Ride With the Devil
10. Birth of a Nation

I Can See Some Argumwents. --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Five Best Civil War Movies

By the Screen Junkies.

1. Birth of a Nation
2. The General
3. Glory
4. Gettysburg
5. Gone With the Wind

Alright. --Old B-R'er

Woman Returning Revolver to Museum

From Jan. 18th CNN US News.

A Tennessee woman inherited a 36-calibre Spiller & Burr revolver that had belonged to George Washington Rains.

The woman inherited it from her late father.

David Taylor, a Civil War antique dealer in Sylvania, Ohio, was going to buy it from her and had agreed on a price, but the day before he was to drive to Knoxville to get it, he found a photo of it from the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond, Virginia. It was an exact match to the one stolen from the museum in 1975.

The woman is now returning it.

G.W. Rains and his older brother, Gabriel, are known as the "Bomb Brothers" for creating quite a few gunpowder weapons for the Confederacy. One was on the faculty of the USMA before the war.

The pistol is worth an estimated $50,000.

The 6-round revolver was not standard Confederate issue, one of about 1,450 made most likely in Macon, Georgia.

The brothers developed a modern process to prepare niter for gunpowder and oversaw the development of the Confederate Powder Works in Atlanta where contact fuses were developed by Gabriel. These were used in percussion mines.

The Right Thing to Do. --Old B-Runer

Monday, December 19, 2011

Naval Happenings 150 Years Ago...Dec. 1861: Stone Fleet Sunk, Medal of Honor

DECEMBER 17th-- Flag Officer Foote, commanding Navy on Western Waters, reminds officers that Sunday worship be observed and that officers more provide example "in morals, order and patriotism to secure these qualities in their men."

Seven ships in the "Stone Fleet" sunk at entrance to Savannah Harbor.

DECEMBER 19th-- Confederate forces demolished lighthouse on Morris Island.

DECEMBER 20th-- "Stone Fleet" sunk off Charleston Harbor by Captain C.H. Davis. I will write more about the "Stone Fleet" when I start the new blog Jan. 1st.

Steamer Gordon ran the blockade off Wilmington. I will always list any blockade activity off Wilmington, NC.

DECEMBER 21st-- US Congress authorized the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest award.

DECEMBER 24th-- Confederate Secretary of the Navy, Mallory wrote General Polk to request troops be furloughed to asist in the construction or ironclads at Memphis. Throughout the war, find men to work on Confederate ships was a problem.

So, That's Why They Were Putting Rocks on Those Ships. --Old B-R'er

Things Heating Up Back in January 1861-- Part 2

The clerk from the Engineer Corps in Savannah alerted US Army Captain W.H.C. Whiting, Corps of Engineers, in charge of both Fort Pulaski and Fort Clinch in Florida about a movement by Georgia state troops to occupy Fort Pulaski, even though the state had not yet seceded.

Whiting, who later resigned and became a Confederate general (who helped design and defend Fort Fisher), proceeded quickly to Savannah and made this report to his superiors in Washington, DC:

"...This morning I proceeded to Fort Pulaski, which I found occupied by Colonel John Lawton. I was received with great civility, and informed by him that he held possession of all the Government property for the present, by order of the governor of the State, and intended to preserve it from loss or damage.

He requested a return of the public property, both Ordnance and Engineer, which I have given as existing January 1..."

Col. Alexander Lawton, the commander of the 1st Georgia Militia, had led a force of 150 men from the Savannah Volunteer Guard, Oglethorpe Light Infantry and Chatham Artillery aboard the steamer Ida and taken possession when Whiting arrived.

Lawton later became a Confederate brigadier general in charge of the defense of Georgia's coast. He later commanded a brigade in Jackson's Shenandoah Valley Campaign, the Seven Days Battles, Second Bull Run and was seriously wounded at Antietam. After a lengthy recovery, he became the Confederacy's second Quartermaster General.

In 1880, he became US senator from Georgia.

January 8th-- Possible first shots of the war fired at Fort Barrancas on Pensacola Bay, Florida.

January 9th-- The steamer Star of the West, under the employ of the US government was fired upon while approaching the besieged Fort Sumter garrison under Major Robert Anderson.

Hot Time in the Old Fort Tonight. --Old B-Runner

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Things Heating Up Back in January 1861-- Part 1

South Carolina had seceded and other southern states were following.

Staes were seizing Federal property within their borders.

Jan. 3rd-- Fort Pulaski, Georgia, seized by Georgia troops.
Mount Vernon Arsenal, Alabama, seized

Jan. 4th-- Fort Marion (Castillo de San Marcos) seized in St. Augustine, Florida.

Jan. 5th-- Alabama troops seize Fort Morgan at entrance to Mobile Bay.

Jan. 6th-- Apalachicola Arsenal, Florida, seized.

Hot Time in the Old Fort or Arsenal Tonight. --Old B-R'er

U.S. Grant's Papers the South!

From the Jan. 9, 2011, Jackson (Ms) Clarion-Ledger.

The papers of general and President U.S. Grant had been at Southern Illinois University for 44 years, but back on Dec. 2008, two moving vans arrived and carted off 15,000 feet of papers, documents and the Grant family Bible. They were moved to Mississippi State University.

The Grant Association has just finished the 32nd and last volume of the Grant papers which is expected to be printed this fall.

As Grant was writing his memoirs, he would make a note to himself to go back and check something. These little notes will also be included in the new edition. he was writing the memoir as he was facing financial problems due to bad business dealings and dying of cancer.

Several days after finishing his book (that only went through to the Civil War), he died in 1885. It became a best-seller.

Good Old Sam Grant. --Old B-Runner

Friday, December 16, 2011

Opening Action of War: The Star of the West Fired Upon

From the Jan. 9th NJ Today.

The commander of the Star of the West, the vessel sent by Lincoln to relieve the beleaguered garrison at Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor in the months leading up to the war, Captain John McGowan, is buried at Evergreen Cemetery in Hillside, New Jersey. The state's Sesquicentennial Committee hopes to restore his tombstone.

Cadet troops from Charleston's Citadel manned the guns that fired on the Star of the West. They were under the command of Major P.F. Stevens who credited Cadet George Edward Haynesworth for firing the first shot.

Stevens (1830-1910) is buried at Charleston, South Carolina's Magnolia Cemetery. Cadet Haynesworth (1841-1887) went on to become a judge in Sumter, SC, and was killed by gunfire in his court room. He is buried at the Sumter Cemetery.

Other persons with Civil War connections buried at Evergreen Cemetery in Hillside, NJ, are Stephen Crane (1871-1900) who wrote the book "The Red Badge of Courage" and two Medal of Honor winners: Rufus King and James Drake.

King won his Medal of Honor for action at White Oak Swamp Bridge, Virginia in 1862. Drake got his for bravery at Bermuda Hundred, Va., in 1864.

New Jersey's Evergreen Cemetery at Hillside. --Old B-R'er

"No Help Coming!": Message Decoded-- Part 2

The code it was written in is called Vigenere cipher and is a century-old encryption. The letters of the alphabet are shifted a set number of places. In this case, an "a" became a "d".

This code was used often by Confederate forces. Too bad lee's orders at Antietam weren't in code.

It was Major General John W. Walker of the Texas Division. Captain William Smith was under his command.

The text:

Gen'l Pemperton

You can expect no help from this side of the river. Let Gen'l Johnston know, if possible, when you can attack the same point on the enemy's lines.

Inform me also and I will endeavor to make a diversion. I subjoin a despatch from General Johnston.

Obviously, Gen. Walker had no idea of the impending surrender when he sent it.

Too little, Too Late. --Old B-Runner

"No Help Coming!": Message Decoded-- Part 1

"Civil War message opened, decoded: No help coming" by Steve Szkotak, AP.

A glass vial stopped with a cork has been opened and decoded. It was sent to Confederate General John C. Pemperton 147 years ago and told the general that no reinforcements were coming to help his besieged army at Vicksburg.

The encrypted six-line message was dated July 4, 1863. reinforcements on their way would have been of no use to Pemperton at the time as he surrendered to Grant that day.

It was from the Confederate general on the west side of the Mississippi River. The two-inch high bottle it was in sat in the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond, Virginia, undisturbed since 1896. It was a gift from Confederate Captain William A. Smith of King in George County who had served in the Vicksburg Campaign.

This past year, Collections manager Catherine M. Wright decided to investigate the bottle.

She and others at the museum tried to crack the code but were unsuccessful. Finally, retired CIA code breaker David Gaddy was able to figure it out after several weeks.

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

Civil War Naval Book

"Strangling the Confederacy: Coastal Operations in the American Civil War" by Kevin Doughtry.

Book review from Jan. 3, 2011.

One of President Lincoln's first actions after Fort Sumter was fired upon, was to establish a blockade of the entire Confederate coast, no small feat considering the woefully unprepared US Navy at the time.

There were 3549 miles of coastline along with some 189 harbor and river openings.

Responsibility for accomplishing this task was up to secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles with able help from the Navy Board (also called the Blockade Board, Strategy Board and Committee in Conference).

Author Doughtry considers the Blockade to be one of the three campaigns that led to the Confederacy's demise along with the Vicksburg Campaign and Sherman's March to the Sea.

The author details joint Army-Navy operations, which would include Fort Fisher.

looks Like a Book Worth Getting. --Old B-Runner

Thursday, December 15, 2011

CSS Alabama Crew Member Buried in New Jersey-- Part 2

I did some more research on Miles J. Freeman.He is buried at Evergreen Cemetery in Morristown, New Jersey. Another former Confederate buried there is Gen. Henry Harrison Walker.

After his capture when the Alabama sank, Freeman was held at Fort Warren, Massachusetts and after his release, worked as an engineer for a steamship line out of New York until his death in 1885.

I found quite a few photos of him, including one of him with Raphael Semmes (the Alabama's commander) and other officers aboard the Confederate raider CSS Sumter on which Freeman also served as chief engineer.

Freeman was born in 1832.

In 2005, a Confederate ditty bag belonging to him came up for sale. It had his name stenciled on it, along with C.S.N. and a crossed cannon and anchor. I was unable to find out how much it sold for.

The information from the previous post came from the New Jersey Civil War site.

Stuff You Just Don't Know. --Old B-R'er

CSS Alabama Crew Member Buried in New Jersey-- Part 1

From the August 31, 2010, Civil War Interactive Blog.

Even though the ship never anchored in a southern port, one of its crew members, Miles J. Freeman, ended up being buried in Grave #114, Section 16 in Evergreen Cemetery.

He served as the Chief Engineer on the Alabama.

Freeman was born in Wales and educated in Scotland and had been a crewman on a British ship in New Orleans when he joined the Confederate Navy. After the CSS Alabama was sunk by the USS Kearsarge off France in 1864, he was captured and held prisoner until June 1865.

Roll, Alabama. --Old B-Runner

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Pensacola Erupted in Shot, Shell-- Part 2

Things really got hot in November. Fort Pickens began heavy shelling of Confederate Forts Barrancas and McRee along with warships USS Niagara and USS Richmond.

By Nov. 22nd, McRee had been silenced. By Nov. 23rd, the buildings at Warrenton, next to the Navy yard, were ablaze. Flames spread to the nearby village of Woolsey.

Bragg estimated the Federals fired 5,000 shots in the two day bombardment. His forces replied with 1,000.


Fort McRee exploded during a second artillery duel Jan. 1-2, 1862. After that, Bragg was ordered to evacuate Pensacola and left with his 10,000 troops. Before leaving, he spiked the guns, destroyed all machinery and broke up the railroads along with burning Forts McRee and Barrancas.

Goodbye Pensacola. And, Bragg Was There. --Old B-R'er

Pensacola Erupted in Shot, Shell-- Part 1

From the Nov. 11th Pensacola News Journal "Bowden: Pensacola erupted in shot, shell and despair."

Pensacola, Florida, Harbor had been in stalemate since the opening acts of the war for the most part, but things were about to heat up.

Forts Barrancas and Pickens exchanged shots.

General Braxton Bragg lost the Navy Yard dry dock when the tow-line broke and it floated into Union hands was burned September 2, 1861.

September 13-14, 100 Union raiders burned the Confederate schooner William H. Judah being outfitted as a privateer in the former US Navy Yard after a hand-to-hand 15-minute encounter.

In retaliation, Confederates launch a night landing east of Fort Pickens on Santa Rosa Island. Three US Marines were killed and 13 wounded. Three Confederates also died.

More to Come. --Old B-Runner

CSS Peedee Torched and Blown Up

From Dec. 21, 2010 CNN.

The CSS Peedee was unable to reach open water in the Atlantic because Union forces had occupied Georgetown, SC, on the coast.

The vessel was built at the Mars Bluff Confederate Navy Yard on the Pee Dee River. The Peedee did fire a couple shots at Union forces before it was torched and blown up March 15, 1865.

No contemporary photos are drawings exist, but the ship was believed to have been 150-170 feet long.

Before the ship was sunk, its cannons were thrown overboard into the Pee Dee River, about a mile from the wreckage. Mars Bluff Navy Yard has never been located itself, but is believed to be another mile above the wreckage.

The ship's propeller is at the Florence Museum in South Carolina. The Mars Bluff Navy Yard built two at least two other ships. One was a steam tender and the other a torpedo boat.

Where's the Yard? --Old B-R'er

DC's Congressional Cemetery Has Assassination Involvement

From the 2007 Washington Times "Mother Don't You Know Me?" by Steve Hammond. I also wrote about it 7-5-11, 7-9-11, 7-12-11 and 7-13-11.

Elizabeth Herold died in 1902 and is buried above her brother David Herold's casket. he was one of the Lincoln assassination conspirators who had been originally buried on the grounds of Fort McNair, where he was hanged. In 1869, his family had him exhumed and reinterred at the Congressional Cemetery in an unmarked grave for fear of vandalism.

Seven others at Ford's Theater that night when Lincoln was killed are also buried at the cemetery, including the doorkeeper, usher, two audience members, two orchestra members and one member of the box office staff.

Other people connected to the assassination include a man who was wounded defending Secretary of State Seward from Lewis Powell, the man who rented John Wilkes Booth a horse that night, the owner of the Star Saloon where Booth had a drink before killing Lincoln, a police officer who helped carry Lincoln to the Peterson House, two of the 16 doctors who tended Lincoln and there men involved in the president's embalming and undertaking.

Next Time in DC, That's Where I'm Going. --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Cannon Place in Troy, NY

From the Dec. 9th Times Union "Cannon Place in Le Grand Building" by Don Rittner.

The building is located on Monument Square in downtown Troy, New York. The building opened Jan. 1, 1831 on the site of the popular Bull's Head Tavern and housed eight stores and was four stories high.

Le Grand Cannon came to Troy from Connecticut and established the Conduit Company of Troy, supplying water. Later he was president of the Rensselaer Saratoga Railroad.

In 1846, he established the Le Grand Cannon & Co., a rolling mill that later became the Rensselaer Iron Works which made the rivets as well as other items for the USS Monitor.

His son, Leland Bouton Cannon was born in 1815 and was involved in various transportation companies as an adult.

In 1838, he was an aide to general John E. Wool of Troy and became a colonel at Fortress Monroe. During the Civil War, Cannon wrote a report on the escaped slaves flocking to the fort and carried out orders that led to the effective emancipation of former slaves some four months before the Emancipation Proclamation.

He was a witness to the monumental battle between the Monitor and the Virginia.

After the war, he purchased the old Fort St. Frederick on Lake Champlain and restored it. He died at age 91 in 1906.

In 1970, the Cannon Building was added to the NRHP.

A Real Monitor Thing. --Old B-R'er

The C&O Canal Really on the Border During the War

From the Dec, 6th Washington Post, by Carolyn Reader.

The Chesapeake & Ohio Canal followed the Potomac River along the Maryland shore, putting it right in the path of both armies during the conflict. During the war, Union forces were routinely camped along the canal to keep Confederates from disrupting it.

There was a big fear that the banks would be cut and water drained out or the canal boats sunk as obstructions. The canal stretched 184 miles from Cumberland, Maryland to Georgetown. Boats carrying coal to be used on Union warships was carried in the canal boats as well as grain for horses and bread.

During December 1861, Confederate forces under Stonewall Jackson tried several times to destroy it by bombardment and even wading into the cold water to hack at it.

From Wikipedia. The C&O operated from 1831 to 1924 and used 74 locks to enable boats to travel the 605-foot elevation change. In addition, 150 culverts were constructed for smaller streams and 11 aqueducts for rivers (10 remain).

Something You Don't Think Of. --Old B-Runner

Monday, December 12, 2011

Naval Happenings 150 Years Ago: "More Effectively Closed Than a Bottle with Wire Over the Cork"

From the Civil War Naval Chronology.

DECEMBER 2, 1861-- Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles' first annual report to Lincoln reports that 153 vessels captured, mostly running the blockade. With vessels now building and purchased, the Navy will have 264 ships, 2,557 guns and 218,016 tons. Seamen in service now not less than 22,000.

"The amount appropriated at the last regular session of Congress for the naval service for the current year was $13,168,675.86. To this was added at the special session in July last $30,446,875.91...The sum will not be sufficient...."

(So Welles reported big growth to the US Navy as well as success in the blockade, but even with more money, more was needed.)

DECEMBER 5, 1861-- Flag Officer DuPont reports a successful expedition to Wassaw Sound, Ga..

The "Stone Fleet" is off Savannah, but he regards "that city is more effectively closed than a bottle with a wire over the cork...." He was going to see if the fleet could be used at Charleston.

(The Stone Fleet were old whaling ships loaded with stones supposed to be sunk off a Confederate port to close it.)

DECEMBER 15, 1861-- USS Jamestown captured Confederate sloop Havelock near Cape Fear, NC.

There were more things happening, but these would be ones of interest to me.

(There were more captures, but I am just reporting on the ones by Wilmington, NC.)

A Sesquicentennial Thing. --Old B-Runner

Lack of Northern Civil War Knowledge-- Part 2

The two major groups of Civil War descendants, the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV)and Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW) are another example of northern disinterest. The SCV has 30,000 members, despite having quite a bit fewer Confederates they are descended from. The SUVCW has 6,000.

Southerners tend to know their Civil War ancestors, northerners don't.


Framingham, Massachusetts claims that the "Battle Hymn of the Republic" was first sung there. The town is planning a celebration of the event at Harmony Grove where many anti-slavery rallies were held and where William Lloyd Garrison burned a copy of the US Constitution calling it a "Pact with the Devil."

The town also plans to raise $1 million to restore a Civil War memorial building honoring Framingham soldiers killed in the war and to display a flag that had been carried at Antietam and Gettysburg. It was discovered in the 1990s after being forgotten in a case for 90 years.

The general mentioned in the first entry was Framingham's Goerge H. Gordon who raised the 2nd Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry.

So, That's the Guy. --Old B-R'er

Lack of Northern Civil War Knowledge-- Part 1

From April 17th AP "In North, Civil War sites, events long 'forgotten'" by Russell Contreras.

The grave site of a Union major general sits forgotten in a small cemetery along the Massachusetts turnpike.

A library in a Boston suburb has pieces of the coat Lincoln was wearing when he was shot that is rarely seen.

A monument to one of the first black units is at a busy intersection in front of the Massachusetts statehouse stands rarely noticed.

Southern states are doing a lot more for the Civil War's sesquicentennial. The effort is scant or non-existent in the North.

Massachusetts sent 150,000 troops to the war and was the home of the most radical abolitionists. And yet, the state is doing little to commemorate the war.

More to Come. --Old B-Runner

Friday, December 9, 2011

Dubuque, Iowa's Role in the War

From the April 15th Dubuque (Iowa) Telegraph Herald.

Dubuque was the home of two medal of Honor winners: Francis J. Herron who won his at the Battle of Pea Ridge and George W. Healey, who captured 7 Confederates July 29, 1864, at Newman, Georgia. He himself was later captured and imprisoned at Andersonville.

From the April 13th Dubuque Telegraph-Herald.

Dubuque had a training facility for local troops.

The first one was at Camp Union located on the bottomland adjacent to lake Peosta on the Mississippi River. It opened for instruction in August 1861. The 9th and 12th Iowa were recruited and trained there.

By September, there were some 600 soldiers there and ten barracks. It closed December 1861, but reopened again in July 1862 as Camp Franklin. The 21st, 27th, 32nd and 38th Iowa regiments trained there.

A total of 120 men in the 21st were from Dubuque.

Soldiers from Grant County later became part of the Iron Brigade and trained at Camp Randall in Madison, Wisconsin.

The Hawkeyes getting Into It. --Old B-R'er

Naval Happenings 150 Years Ago: Hot Time in Old Pensacola


WAY OUT WEST-- Nov. 14th-- US cutter Mary seized Confederate privateer Nova off San Francisco. I had no idea there was action out in California.

HOT TIME IN OLD PENSACOLA-- Nov. 22nd Two days of heavy bombardment began from USS Niagara and USS Richmond and Fort Pickens against Confederate Fort McRee, the Pensacola Navy Yard and the town of Warrenton. Confederate defenses damaged as well as USS Richmond.

Also on the 22nd, the USMC authorized to enlist an additional 500 privates and a proportionate number of officers.

TYBEE SEIZED-- Nov. 24th Landing parties from US ships take possession of Tybee Island, Georgia on the Savannah River. Wrote Flag officer DuPont, "This abandonment of Tybee Island is due to the terror inspired by the bombardment of Forts Walker and Beauregard and is a direct fruit of the victory of the 7th [capture of Port Royal Sound].

GETTING EXPENSIVE-- Nov. 26th Wrote DuPont "The flag is hoisted on the lighthouse and martello tower at Tybee...Shoes are $8 a pair in Charleston. Salt $7 a bushel, no coffee--women going to the interior--[Captain James I.] Lardner has closed the port so effectively that they can no longer get fish even." Well, that might be exaggerating just a bit.

It's a Navy Thing. You Wouldn't Understand. --Old B-Runner

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Macon, Georgia's Cannonball House-- Part 2

The mansion was owned by Judge Asa Holt and built in 1853 on the heights overlooking Macon on Mulberry Street. Eyewitnesses to the hit said the cannonball first hit a sand sidewalk, bounced up and through the column and into the home.

Traces can still be seen on the repainted column, the patched parlor plaster and a large dent in the floor.

Stoneman and his men were captured a few days later.

The Holt family left Macon after the incident and moved to their farm in Jefferson County, which put them right in the path of Sherman's March to the Sea. Sometimes you just can't stay out of the war.

When Sherman's Army came through, livestock at the farm were killed, barns burned, food and goods stolen and even the well bucket was destroyed to make it difficult to get water from it.

Sherman's troops were sure that there must be gold and treasure hidden somewhere on the property and hanged Judge Holt from a tree to force him to reveal the location. They repeated the hanging three times until the judge passed out, but servants were able to revive him.

His mansion in Macon is now owned by the Sidney Lanier Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy at 856 Mulberry Street.

There is also a cannon on the grounds made at the Macon Arsenal in 1864.

What Did the North Have Against the Judge? --Old B-R'er

Macon, Georgia's Cannonball House-- Part 1

A few months ago, I wrote about problems regarding the collection at the Cannonball House in Macon, Georgia. Here is some more information about it as provided by Dale Cox in his Explore Southern History Blog an excellent source for history. he also has several other blogs, including my favorite one about the Civil War in Florida, an oft-overlooked aspect of the war. He has also written several Civil War books.

A cannonball fired by Union batteries crashed into the house during the Battle of Dunlap Hill on July 30, 1862. It was fired from across the Ocmulgee River and struck the left middle column out front of the mansion before crashing into the house and landing on the hall floor.

This was part of the intentional firing on civilian targets by Union Brigadier General George Stoneman. His expedition was an attempt to rescue Union prisoners from Camp Oglethorpe and Camp Sumter at Andersonville.

More to Come. --Old B-Runner

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Pearl Harbor During the Civil War-- Part 2

During the 1820s and 1830s, many American warships stopped in Hawaii.

In 1843, a British ship commander took it upon himself to take the islands in the name of Britain in what became known as the Paulet Affair, but the British government disavowed it. Britain and France later recognized the independence of Hawaii, but the US did not.

In 1849, the French invaded. Hawaiian King Kamehamcha II, under American influence drew up a deal of cessation to the US which was dropped after the French withdrew.

After the conclusion of the Civil War and the acquisition of Alaska and a big increase in Pacific trade, control of Hawaii became more and more important to the US.

One warship was assigned to constantly patrol Hawaiian waters. For awhile, it was the USS Lackawanna, which had been at the Battle of Mobile Bay in August 1864 where it had rammed the Confederate ironclad CSS Tennessee.

It Is Also the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War and Tenth of 9-11. --Old B-R'er

Pearl Harbor During the Civil War-- Part 1

Today marks the 70th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor in the Hawaiian Islands, an event that plunged the United States into World War II.

It is amazing that the attack came as a surprise. It is too bad no one picked up on it before all those people had to die.

The Hawaiian Islands and Pearl Harbor had been of interest to the United States as far back as the 19t century. With increasing American trade in the Pacific and especially after the purchase of Alaska, the importance of having a military presence in Hawaii became more and more important.

From Wikipedia.

Pearl Harbor was known to Hawaiians as Pu'uloa and is a lagoon harbor. In the 19th century, large ships did not use it because of the shallowness of the entrance. But US interest grew in the area as whaling and trading in the Pacific grew.

By 1820, there was an "Agent of the U.S. for Commerce and Seamen" located in the nearby Port of Honolulu.

More to Come. --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Naval Happenings 150 Years Ago: Iron Plates and Flames

Along with "The Trent Affair" this was also going on back in late November 1861.

NOVEMBER 25TH-- The Confederate Navy department accepted a shipment of iron plates for the CSS Virginia under construction at Norfolk Navy Yard. A blockade-runner was captured near North Edisto, SC and the CSS Sumter captured a northern vessel.

In Boston, the San Jacinto's Captain Charles Wilkes was honored at a banquet for capturing Mason and Slidell.

NOVEMBER 27TH-- In the North, a day of Thanksgiving was observed.

Around Port Royal Sound, federal authorities ordered that all crops in the area were to be taken into Union possession. Furthermore, slaves were to be used for the purpose and also to work on military installations.

NOVEMBER 29TH-- Flames were visible all along the coast near Charleston as cotton was burned. The Charleston Mercury opined, "Let the torch be applied wherever the invader pollutes our soil."

That Long Ago. --Old B-Runner

Outrage on the British Flag-- Part 2

On November 30, 1861, a letter was sent to Great Britain's minister to the US, Lord Lyons, from the British Foreign Secretary, Lord John Russell, expressing extreme displeasure at the seizure of Mason and Slidell.

The Royal Navy was put on alert but under orders to avoid hostilities with the United States.

Lord Lyons was instructed to be ready to leave Washington, DC, soon if there was no redress of "The Trent Affair."

What was the Lincoln administration to do?

Things Are Heating Up. --Old B-R'er

Desecrating a Cemetery in the Civil War

From the October 16th Savannah Morning News "A walk through Savannah's Civil War Colonial Park Cemetery" by Richard Burkhart.

"Our cemetery is desecrated with their fortifications. The Yankees have broken open the doors of the vaults and, in one instance that I know of, the coffin of a lady was opened and a cross and chain stolen from her body. Surely such men are not human." Thus wrote one person from the city.

In December, 1864, some 60,000 Union troops and several thousand former slaves entered Savannah and had to find places to stay.

Colonial Park Cemetery became the temporary home for some of them. The cemetery had fallen into neglect some time before the occupation, but its high walls made it hard for Union officers to see and know what was going on inside the property.

December 1864 was a very cold one in Savannah and many vaults were opened for use as shelter.

Some of the Union soldiers spent idle time by altering dates and ages on the tombstones. One person became 421 years old.

Something You Don't Think About. --Old B-Runner

Monday, December 5, 2011

Outrage On the British Flag-- Part 1

From the Dec. 1st Rappahannock News "150 Years Ago This Week" 'Outrage on the British Flag' Nov. 1861"

Union forces landed on Tybee Island, Georgia, on the Savannah River, in Sunday, Nov. 24th. They now controlled the entrance to the harbor and they now had a foothold for an attack on Fort Pulaski.

The USS San Jacinto arrived in Boston carrying captured Confederate Commissioners James Mason and John Slidell forcibly taken from the British ship Trent. They were imprisoned in Fort Warren in Boston Harbor.

Lincoln and his cabinet met about what was becoming known as "The Trent Affair."

News of the capture of Slidell and Mason reached Great Britain on Wednesday, Nov. 27th and word spread rapidly setting off a wave if indignation and infuriation. Newspapers headlines screamed "Outrage to the British Flag!"

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

Christmas During the Civil War

From the Dec. 4th Newark (Ohio) Advocate "Christmas was different in the 1860s" by Dan Flemming.

Christmas back 150 years ago was much different from what it is today, but, it was beginning to take on the trappings.

An 1861 newspaper had an advertisement for John Koos's Confectionery in Newark:

"Santa Claus has arrived and left his budget of toys, and a finer display of goods and 'fancy fixin' never lit down in Newark before."

As will be seen by the life-size portrait in Koos's window the old man has a choice supply of wooden, tin and fancy toys for little folks, and since Koos has paid cash for them he intends to sell cheaper than can be bought anywhere in the city.

Attention is also called to the large stock of candy toys manufactured by Koos himself and sold CHEAPER THAN EVER BEFORE, either at wholesale or retail. So let lovers of good things show their good taste in buying their tasty fixins for the holiday at Koos's Confectionery, one door east of the post office."

I'll Discuss the Ad Tomorrow. --Old B-Runner

Saturday, December 3, 2011

It's a Holiday Open House at Fort Fisher

This Tuesday, December 6th from 10 to 5.

Seasonal refreshments and entertainment will be provided and the museum will be decorated.

The Leland Christian Academy elementary school band will perform at 11 am. At noon, songs and stories of blockade-runners (Hey, that's me!) by noted historian and singer John Golden (AKA Captain Roberts) will follow at noon.

Then actor/interpreter Joyce Grear (AKA Harriet "Moses" Tubman will tell stories of the black experience in the Cape Fear area associated with Christmas.

The Murray Middle School Jazz Band will perform holiday selections at 1:30.

Special discounts are available at the Fort Fisher Museum store. The event is sponsored jointly by the Friends of Fort Fisher (to which I belong) and the Fort Fisher Chapter No. 2325 of the United Daughters of the Confederacy.

I'd sure like to be there, but alas, live too far away. And, I really should not go near that museum store.

A Good Time at the Fort. --Old B-Runner

Knoxville's Fort Dickerson

From "Fort Dickerson offers living history weekend." Well, it already happened, but I don't know much about Civil War actions around Knoxville.

The Knoxville Civil War Round Table announced their annual Fort Dickerson Days at the Fort Dickerson Park in South Knoxville in honor of the 148th anniversary of the Siege of Knoxville.

At one time, sixteen earthen forts ringed the city.

Fort Dickerson was named for fallen Union Ar,y Captain Jonathan C. Dickerson who died in action near Cleveland, Tennessee.

The Siege of Knoxville was broken when Confederate General Longstreet's army was defeated at Fort Sanders Nov. 29, 1863. Only Dickerson and two other forts, Stanley and Higley still survive.

Save the Fort. --Old B-R'er

Detroit's GAR Building Gets New Life

From the Nov. 4th Detroit Free Press "Historic Grand Army of the Republic building Detroit to be given new life."

Brothers Tom and David Carleton and partner Sean Emery have bought the historic Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) Hall at Cass and Grand River streets from the City of Detroit for $220,000.

They plan on reopening the building in 2013 after a $2-3 million renovation. Part of it will be used for their multi media production firm, Mindfield, on the top two floors and want the ground floor to be let out to a retail or restaurant operation.

Some space will remain a Civil War memorial. The building was designed by architect Julius Hess in the castle-like Romanesque style that was popular in 1899. As a GAR Hall, it was used for meetings and had other uses later until the building closed some 30 years ago. There has been much damage since then.

The building's location, just 1000 feet from the MGM Grand Detroit Casino definitely helps as well.

The Carleton brothers had two ancestors who fought for the Union Army.

A photo accompanied the article of the brothers and partner crossing the street in front of the building in a Beatlesque Abbey Road style.

Always Good to Save Any Historic Building of Architectural Significance. --Old B-Runner

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Greatest Civil War Battle You've Never Heard Of

I came across a blog called Seduced By History by McKenna Darby. The battle he was referring to was none other than my battle, that would be Fort Fisher. Sad, but true, most people know little about it and it was a big and important one despite the fact the Confederacy was a pretty-much Gone With the Wind country by early 1865.

McKenna Darby first visited Fort Fisher thirty years ago and it has become the background for his manuscript Traitor to Love.

I took a look at the comments and many people had also never heard of Fort Fisher.

Hey Folks...Fort Fisher...BIG DEAL!! --Old B-R'er

Thursday, December 1, 2011

A New Blog Next Year

Right now I'm thinking about launching a new blog off this one at the start of next year.

It will be called "Running the Blockade" and will concentrate on the naval side of the war and Fort Fisher, of course. This would also include any forts built to engage enemy ships and the Wilmington Campaign.

This one will then become a catchall for other Civil War items I find of interest. I expect the new one to be the major one of the two. This one will probably have 10-15 entries each month. The other one around 30.

I was thinking about just changing this one's name to "Running the Blockade" and continue with all things Civil War, but I think a new one is a better idea.

Somebody Talk Me Out of IT!!

One More Bloomin' Time-Consumin' Thing. --Old B-Runner

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Civil War's "Kitty Hawk" Moment-- Part 2

Mike Boehme, director of the Virginia Aviation Museum said, "This was the first time that opposing air forces were facing each other."

Today, the Civil War Preservation Trust (CWPT), a nonprofit group devoted to saving battlefields, is seeking to save the ground where the Union balloons were launched. Little of the original Gaines Mill Battlefield has been preserved, but the 285-acre slice of it the group wants to save includes the ravine that shielded the balloons from Confederate fire.

Gaines Mill was one of the biggest and bloodiest battles where Confederate General Robert E. Lee recorded his first victory on June 27, 1862, which led to the Seven Days battles which turned away Union forces trying to capture Richmond.

The CWPT's Rob Shenk was attending a Civil War ballooning presentation when he realized that the launch site was part of the land the group was about to save.

Until the war, balloons were mostly a fair attraction. Come the war, New Englander Thaddeus Lowe became the Father of military aerial reconnaissance by dazzling President Lincoln with the balloon possibilities.

There Is No Place Like Home. --Old B-R'er

North Carolina's New Tool for Teaching the Civil War

From the Nov. 28th Goldsboro (NC) News-Argus.

State students will have a new way to link classroom lessons about the war to actual sites in the state.

The Division of State Historic Sites has launched The North Carolina Civil War Experience to that effect.

A website for teachers offers activities and lesson plans (hopefully with those worrisome state goals included) to twelve state sites like Bentonville Battlefield (about fifteen miles from where I sit) and my favorite, Fort Fisher. I'm sure Bennett House is also on the list.

It is designed for eighth graders, but the materials can be adapted for high school.

Too Bad I Don't Teach Anymore. Not Really. --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Nancy Bennett's Civil War-- Part 3:

War came to North Carolina and their fortunes change. One son, Lorenzo and his business partner join the Hillsborough Orange Guards> Daughter Eliza's husband, Robert Duke, joins the 46th North Carolina and they leave the family.

None of them return. Lorenzo and his business partner die of disease and are buried in Virginia. Robert Duke dies in a Virginia hospital. Son Alphonso also dies from sickness in the spring of 1863.
On a beautiful spring day, April 17, 1865, the remaining Bennetts (daughter Eliza had moved back in with her mother and father) hear hoofbeats coming up the road. A party of riders are approaching with a white flag of truce.

The war has taken her sons, her daughter's husband and wrecked the small degree of prosperity they had enjoyed, and now Union General Sherman and Confederate General Johnston want to use their home to draw up surrender terms.

General Johnston then surrenders the last major Confederate Army in the east to Sherman, and the war for all practical aspects,is over.

Today, their home is a NC State Historical Site.

The War's Effect On Regular Folk. --Old B-Runner

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Civil War's "Kitty Hawk" Moment-- Part 1

From the Nov. 27th Goldsboro News-Argus "Nonprofit aims to preserve Civil War's 'Kitty Hawk' moment" by AP.

It happened June 27, 1862, at the Civil War Battle of Gaines' Mill, part of the Seven Days Battles, when both Union and Confederate aeronauts took to the skies simultaneously for the first time.

Two Union balloons, the Washington and Intrepid were launched and their Confederate enemy balloon, the Gazelle, also took to the skies. All were up there to observe enemy movements from 1,000 feet high.

"You had the Confederate balloon up and the Union balloons up, all trying to exploit the advantages of being above and over the battlefield and providing tactical information to their respective generals," says Mike Boehne, director of the Virginia Aviation Museum.

Up, Up and Away in My Beautiful Balloon. --Old B-Runner

Friday, November 25, 2011

Nancy Bennett's Civil War-- Part 2: A Hard Life

She and her husband James struggled during their early years together. He worked as a sharecropper and then a tenant farmer until they scraped together enough money to buy a 325-acre farm on the Raleigh-Hillsborough Road in 1846 when he was 40. They were in debt, but sold half the land to pay it off.

Their farm was small, but the land fertile. They were what is called yeoman farmers. They grow potatoes, melons, corn and oats, raise chickens, hogs and have two milk cows. Being on the road, they take in travelers for one dollar which gets a bed, breakfast and supper.

They have two sons and a daughter.

When war comes, the two sons and a son-in-law join the Confederate army.

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

Nancy Bennett's Civil War-- Part 1: Nothing to Gain

From the December Our State Magazine "The Women's War" by Philip Gerard. Mr. Gerard has been writing a series of articles in the magazine to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the war. This was Volume 1, Part 8.

This is an interesting account of the hardships faced by those who were left at home and approached it both from the experience of females from the plantations and those from lesser means.

"With millions of young men lost in--or lost to--battle and economic calamity a relentless opponent, women are forced into new roles: farmers, mill workers, entrepreneurs, even rioters. Daily realities of survival, fear, danger and desperation are just some of a war's challenges that transcend class and social status."

"Nancy Leigh Pierson Bennett has absolutely nothing to gain from the war.

"She and her husband own no slaves. She has expressed no public political convictions. The federal government in Washington is virtually irrelevant to her Piedmont North Carolina life, which is defined by hard work and a close-knit family. The compass of her life is limited. She does not travel and has no financial holdings affected by the tariff wars or lofty debates about states' rights."

I copied the start verbatim as it pretty well sums up what befell a majority of southern women.

More to Come. --Old B-Runner

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Bennett Family in the Civil War

The December issue of the Our State Magazine of North Carolina had a lengthy article on the Bennett family's Civil War experience.  These were not rich people; no plantation, no slaves, no huge wealth.

Even so, they were better off than most.  The war had a huge negative impact on them.  I read along, not realizing the significance of their name and farmhouse toward the end of the war.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Wilmington's Bellamy Mansion

From Wikipedia.

Dr. John D. Bellamy (Sept. 18, 1817-Aug. 30, 1896)

Built and owned the Bellamy Mansion in Wilmington, NC, and was a medical doctor.

His son Marsden Bellamy enlisted in the Scotland Neck Cavalry before North Carolina seceded, but later enlisted in the Confederate Navy.

A younger son, William, joined the Wilmington Rifle Guards a few months later.

The Bellamy Mansion's architect, James F. Post, joined the Confederate artillery and helped design and build various structures at Fort Fisher and Fort Anderson.

The mansion's draftsman, Rufus Bunnel, had already returned north before Fort Sumter was fired on and joined a Connecticut regiment.

Enslaved plasterer, William B. Gould, who had worked on the house, escaped Wilmington on the night of Sept. 21, 1862, with eight other slaves by rowing a small boat down the Cape Fear River. They got to a Union ship where he and several others joined the US Navy.

He kept an extensive diary during the war and is thought to be one of the few former slaves to have kept one. After the war, he again took up the plasterer trade in Massachusetts.

During the war, the Bellamy family continued to live at the mansion on Market Street, until a yellow fever epidemic forced them to leave.

Very Involved in the War. --Old B-Runner

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The "Turtle" Goes to War-- Part 2

In the predawn hours of October 12th, Hollins led his small fleet downriver from New Orleans to engage the Union ships. Lt. Alexander Warley led the way in the Manassas with orders to ram the Union flagship USS Richmond.

In addition, tugs towed three fire rafts. As they approached the federal ships, the fleet stopped and they were tied together. Once the action started, they were to be set on fire, released and allowed to float toward the enemy with the current.

The Union fleet, under Captain John Pope, was caught completely bu surprise. The USS Preble was shocked into action as the Manassas passed by within twenty yards, cruising at maximum speed, 10 knots and headed for the Richmond. The Preble warned the Richmond and got off a couple shots before the Confederate ship slipped off into the darkness.

The Richmond opened fire as the Manassas glanced off a coal barge tied alongside the ship and then rammed it in the forward port side, cracking timbers below the waterline. The Manassas backed out, but one engine had been knocked loose and the two smokestacks had been destroyed.

The Richmond fired off rockets for the rest of the fleet to engage.

No longer maneuverable, the Manassas was run aground.

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

The "Turtle" Goes to War-- Part 1

As in the CSS Manassas.

From the October 27th News Star "Oct. 1861: 'The Turtle'" bu Dr. Terry L. Jones.

By October, 1861, five union vessels were in position at the Head of Passes where the Mississippi River splits into several different channels before reaching the Gulf of Mexico. Being here effectively blockades New Orleans, the largest port in the new Confederacy.

A small Confederate fleet under 62-year-old navy veteran George N. Hollins, referred to as "The Mosquito Fleet" set out to force these Union ships away.

The main warship was a rather odd looking one named the CSS Manassas after the earlier Confederate victory in Virginia. It had been a Massachusetts-made icebreaker which had been modified with heavy oak timbers and overlaid with 1.5 inch railroad iron. It carried just one cannon mounted near the bow, but its most formidable weapon was its ram, very capable of penetrating the hull of any Federal vessel. It's humped back appearance gained it its nickname of "The Turtle."

More to Come. --Old B-Runner

Friday, November 18, 2011

Naval Happenings 150 Years Ago: Fort Fisher Fired On

From the Civil War Naval Chronology 1861-1865.

NOVEMBER 11, 1861-- Thaddeus Lowe made a balloon observation of Confederate forces from the Balloon Boat G.W. Parke Curtis anchored in the Potomac River. The early aircraft carrier was purchased for $150 and readied fr service at the Washington Navy Yard. It was towed to the site by the steamer Couer de Lion.

NOVEMBER 12, 1861-- The Fingal (later CSS Atlanta) purchased in England, ran the Savannah blockade with military supplies, the first ship to run the blockade on solely Confederate government account.

NOVEMBER 15, 1861-- Confederate commissioners Mason and Slidell disembarked from the USS San Jacinto, Captain Wilkes,at Fort Monroe.

NOVEMBER 16, 1861-- Confederate Secretary of the Navy Mallory advertised for plans and bids for construction of four seagoing ironclads capable of carrying four guns each.

Today, 1861-- The USS Monticello, Lt. Braine, engaged Confederate battery near New Inlet, North Carolina. That would be Fort Fisher. This is tye first action of read of at Fort Fisher in the Civil War Naval Chronology.

NOVEMBER 22, 1861-- The USS Niagara, Flag officer McKean, USS Richmond, Capt. Ellison, and Fort Pickens began two day bombardment against Confederate defenses at Fort McRee, the Pensacola Navy Yard and the town of Warrington. Much damage done to Confederate positions and USS Richmond.

NOVEMBER 24, 1861-- A landing party from the USS Flag, Cmdr. J. Rodgers, USS Augusta, Pochahontas, Seneca and Savannah took possession of Tybee Island, Savannah. Admiral Du Pont attributed the Confederate abandonment of the island without a fight was "due to the terror inspired by the bombardment of Forts Walker and Beauregard...."

Skeered Away Again. --Old B-Runner

General Drayton's Fish Haul Plantation at Hilton Head Island

From Heritage Library Foundation Hilton Head Island.

It was also called Fish Hall and Drayton's House.

In 1861, Confederate General Drayton used it as his headquarters (along with the Pope House). In 1770, the plantation consisted of 700 acres, mostly growing Sea Island cotton.

Some sources call it Fish Haul Creek Plantation, named after Fish Haul Creek that ran through it.

In 1989, the Chicora Foundation did archaeological documentation of the slave quarters on the plantation. An 1862 census showed 52 slaves at the place along with 250 improved acres, 450 unimproved and worth $10,000. An absence of farm animals in the census would indicate it as a cotton plantation.

In 1863, it was sold to the US government for $3,000 in back taxes. A year earlier, 200 acres were used for the freedman's Mitchelville and part of the mansion used for a school. As late as 1867, there will still 120 blacks living at the place.

By 1920, the main house had disappeared. In 1965 the land was sold to the Hilton Head Company and they sold it to the Port Royal Plantation Group and lastly to Palmetto Dunes.

The Story of a Plantation. --Old B-R'er

The Pope House at Coggins Point, SC-- Part 2

The Confederates evacuated the house so fast after the battle that General Drayton's fine horse was captured.

After the war, the house was unclaimed and eventually reportedly dismantled and sold for scrap limber in Beaufort. The plantation land remained under military control until 1927.

During World War I, the barracks were rebuilt and big guns brought in along the shore. A submarine watch was kept there during World War II.

As of 1977, an exact replica of the Pope House was being built.

Next Time You're in Hilton Head. --Old B-Runner

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Pope House and Plantation at Coggins Point, Port Royal-- Part 1

I earlier mentioned that Confederate General Drayton had his headquarters at both the Pope House and his own Fish Haul Plantation on Hilton Head Island before the Union attack earlier this month, 150 years ago.

So, I looked up the Pope House.

From the Heritage Library Foundation Hilton Head Island.

The Pope House was on the northeast corner of Hilton Head Island. It was also known as the Coggins Point Plantation. It was owned by Squire William Pope (1778-1862). It was a two-story frame residence. Squire Pope was involved in the South Carolina legislature in the years before the war.

A wealthy man, he also owned the Skull Creek and Point Comfort plantations on Hilton Head and the Crescent Plantation in Bluffton. The 1860 census showed the Squire owning 200 slaves.

It was used as headquarters for the Union department of the South during the war. In 1864, a signal tower was built on its roof.

Both Fort Walker (Welles) and Fort Sherman were located on the Coggins Point Plantation.

A Rich man Then. Imagine How Rich His Heirs Would Be If They Still Owned This Land. --Old B-R'er

Port Royal's Fort Walker Receives a Dynamite Gun

Well, I had never heard of a dynamite gun, so, of course, had to do some research. I'll write a little bit of what I found here, but will go into more detail on my history blog since this was post-Civil War.

A site called battery Dynamite was nearby to the old Confederate fort and in service from 1897 to 1902. In 1897, Congress appropriated money to purchase four experimental compressed air dynamite guns to be emplaced at four coastal installations. One was at Hilton Head.

A concrete battery was built outside of Fort Walker and from 1901 to 1902, the gun was inspected and tested before the whole program was discontinued.

I was unable to find out if any part of the battery remains.

Hurling Dynamite. Now, That's Nasty. --Old B-Runner

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Port Royal's Confederate Fort Walker-- Part 3

On November 8, 1861, the name of the fort was changed by General Thomas W. Sherman's General Order #28 to Fort Welles, named for Union Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles.

Bu 1888, Fort Walker was abandoned, falling apart with parts washed away by the sea. The Federal government retained possession of the 902 acres of Coggins Point. It was reactivated during the Spanish-American War and World War I.

I was looking for the fort's armament when captured and having difficulty until I came across an article in the Nov. 30, 1861, Harper's Weekly which said the fort had thirteen 32-pdrs, two siege 12-inch guns, 2 rifled 8-inch Columbiads, one 10-inch Columbiad, two carronades and an 8-inch Columbiad. The article also reported that plenty of ammunition was found.

This would refute another source that said the Confederates withdrew with all but three guns out of service and ammunition about gone.

Now, I Know Something About the Fort. --Old B-Runner

Toys During the Civil War?-- Part 2

Kraus continued, saying there wasn't as much gift-giving during Christmas in the war. "They were away from home. They would decorate trees with bullets, whatever they had around. They would have a special meal." I just wrote about a member of the 4th New Hampshire who wanted his wife to eat a big piece of pie for him over Thanksgiving.

Items on display included a small, flat tin soldier, perhaps made for a child with a father at war, a hand-made wooden doll for a girl.

There was a deck of cards called "The Game of the Camp" with illustrated figures: Surgeon, Riding Master and farrier (a person specializing in horseshoes and care of hooves). Glad they had this information, otherwise, it was Wikipedia time for me.

Kraus pointed out that the Toys for Tots campaign was started by Marines (must have been an ex-Marine himself). It began in 1947 in Los Angeles when a group of Marine reservists decided to distribute toys to needy children.

The Marine Corps breakfast I attended last weekend raised almost $9,000 for Toys for Tots last year.

A Great Program. --Old B-R'er

Toys During the Civil War?-- Part 1

From the Nov. 14th Bulletin "Even during the Civil War, toys had their place" by Kevin Begos, AP.

Even with the horrendous carnage on the battlefields, Santa Claus still had a place in America during he war. (Actually, cartoonist Thomas Nast came up with the prototype of Santa about this time.)

A photo of a toy soldier on a wooden horse (early GI Joe?) is in a storage area at the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial in Pittsburgh accompanies the article.

Michael Kraus was dressed in his Civil War soldier garb at the Carnegie Mellon University display of 1860s toys for the start of the annual Toys for Tots campaign. He says he has been drawn to this era's toys ever since he was a boy.

According to Kraus, "the 1860s saw the popularization of the Santa Claus tradition in America. Harper's Weekly in January 1863 published one of the first drawings of the rotund holiday figure, addressing a camp of soldiers, some of whom carry a banner reading: "Welcome Santa Claus.' A copy of the issue is part of the display."

More to Come. --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Brooklyn Navy Yard Museum

From the Nov. 7th New York Post.

The 19th century Marine Commandant's home in the former 300 acre Brooklyn Navy Yard, has been restored and incorporated into a $27 million, 33,000 square foot museum and visitors center.

It opened Nov. 11th on Veterans Day.

The navy yard was established in 1801.

More than 80 US Navy ships were built or commissioned there, including the USS Monitor in 1862, the USS Arizona in 1915 and the USS North Carolina in 1940.

Something to Visit. --Old B-R'er

Port Royal's Confederate Fort Walker-- Part 2

Major Francis D. Lee (no relation to R.E. Lee) was in charge of planning and construction of the fort. A big problem was that there were not enough cannons and not enough of the calibre to sufficiently arm the fort.

Other fortifications in the area were begun at Braddock's Point, Seabrook Landing on Skull Creek as well as earthworks to the south of Fort Walker.

Work had just barely started by the attack November 7, 1961.

By October 17th, there were just 362 soldiers at the fort before reinforcements arrived bringing the total to 622.

General Drayton made his headquarters at the Pope House on Coggins Point and at his own local home at Fish Haul. "If anyone knew how to defend the island, he would. Thomas Drayton knew every road, every woodland trail; knew where the offshore waters were deep enough for a landing. But without the necessary guns to do it."

Defending the Fort. --Old B-Runner

Monday, November 14, 2011

Port Royal's Confederate Fort Walker-- Part 1

From the Heritage Library Foundation, Hilton Head Island.

As I said before, there is not a lot of information that I could find about the fort, which today apparently is on private property at Port Royal Plantation. We found a lot of Hilton Head to be private and way more expensive than us po' folk could afford. We visited once and it is not likely we'll be back.

This site had quite a bit of good information.

Fort Walker was ordered built by General P.G.T. Beauregard on Coggins Point Plantation. It was named after Confederate Secretary of War L.P. Walker and commanded by Col. William c. Hayward of the 11th South Carolina. Overall command of the Port Royal Sound defenses was Gen. Thomas F. Drayton, a famous family in the state.

Work on the fort began in July 1861 and island plantation owners furnished slave labor to bring in palmetto logs. Trenches, gun emplacements and a powder magazine were built.

More to Come. --Old B-Runner

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The 4th New Hampshire Infantry

This regiment was at both expeditions against Fort Fisher and participated in the final assault and capture of the big sand fort.

After that, they participated at the fight at Sugar Loaf Battery Feb. 11, 1865, Fort Anderson Feb. 18th, the capture of Wilmington Feb. 22nd.

Then it was the Advance on Goldsboro and Kinston March 6-21st. After that, they guarded the railroad between Little Washington and Goldsboro until August.

They were mustered out of service August 23, 1865.

So, not only were they at Fort Fisher and the Wilmington campaign, but were also by my hometown of Goldsboro, North Carolina.

I Was Unaware of This Unit Before. --Old B-R'er

At the Battle of Port Royal: The 4th New Hampshire Infantry-- Part 3

Well, here is a regiment that also fought at Fort Fisher. Besides being involved in what was supposed to have been an amphibious assault at Port Royal, now they would later fight at my battle, Fort Fisher. Definitely got my interest.

Now, for some excerpts from Leander Harris' letter to his wife:

"T were 8 men killed on our side." Probably referring to Union losses at the Battle of Port Royal.

Referring to the storm on Nov. 1, 1861:

"I have not seen Hall but our Quarter Master told me that they did not go on the Union [ship] but on the Ben De Ford and that is. The Union went ashore on the coast during the gale, also the Peerless."

"I believe that I did not mention that our steamer was on fire in the night of the storm, but we did not know it till the next day."

That is a disquieting thing to learn.

"Thanksgiving day you must eat a good piece of pie for me."

Sounds like an idea. I wonder what the men of the 4th NH got for Thanksgiving?

Stuff You Don't Read in the History Books. --Old B-Runner

Friday, November 11, 2011

At the Battle of Port Royal: The 4th New Hampshire Infantry-- Part 2

Continued from Nov. 8th.

The letter that was for sale was a partial two page one written by Leander Harris to his wife Emmy. Unfortunately, the letter sold to someone in 2007 and it didn't say how much was paid for it.

Apparently it was started on Nov. 1st, but not completed until some time later.
Harris states that there was a storm on the night of Nov. 1st and transports were lost.

Worth Point Price Guide did some research about these transports:

UNION-- a steamer carrying Army stores and no troops-- run ashore.
PEERLESS-- Army transport laden with stores-- went down, crew rescued.

BEN DE FORD-- Army transport "which was also used by General Banks in the Fort Fisher expedition"-- probably meant Butler used it.
BALTIC-- Army transport (later used in Fort Fisher expedition).

GOVERNOR-- "an old steamer never meant to go on the open ocean which carried 600 marines designed as a rapid strike force during the capture of the forts, this vessel foundered and sank during the storm and the marines and crew rescued by the USS Sabine."

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

It's the Other Day to Honor Those Who Have Served

Of course, the first Veterans Day observance in the US started after the Civil War and was called Decoration Day. The Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), a Union veterans organization, started it. The Confederates had their own observation.

Of course, Decoration Day became Memorial Day, a time to salute all US veterans (and, yes, that also includes Confederates who were also Americans despite what some may think.)

I plan on attending the Legion/VFW ceremony in Fox Lake as usual. Tomorrow, it's a salute to the 236th anniversary of the Marine Corps at the annual breakfast at the Fox Lake Legion Hall and that night, it's a trip back to the 30s and 40s at the annual Big Band/Swing Dance also at the Legion.

Some of those old World War II vets can still cut a mean rug.

Oh yes, and not only is it 11-11-11 for Veterans Day, but also 11-11-11 on the calendar.

Thank a Vet. --Old B-Runner

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Friends of Fort Fisher Annual Meeting This Saturday

I just joined this group this past summer. As a big Fort Fisher fan, how could I not join.

From the Wilmington Gives Back,Org.

This Saturday, Nov. 12th the Friends of Fort Fisher (FoFF) organization will hold their annual meeting.

Lunch will be served and accomplishments over this past year will be celebrated as well as plans for the future discussed. It is open to members (Hey, That's Me) and guests. The FoFF is a non-profit support group.

North Carolina Deputy State Archaeologist Mark Wild-Ramsing will give a speech about the upcoming 50th anniversary of the NC Underwater Archaeology department and the project that started it, the discovery of and recovery of thousands of objects from the blockade-runner Modern Greece in 1962.

A new Modern Greece exhibit is slated to open at the Fort Fisher Museum ay the Jan. 12th battle observance on the 147th anniversary of the Second Battle of Fort Fisher at which it was captured.

Wish I Was There. Maybe Next Year. --Old B-R'er

The Civil War a Training Ground for Presidents from Ohio

Five future US presidents participated in the Civil War, all on the Union side.

U.S. Grant
Rutherford B. Hays
James Garfield
Benjamin Harrison
William McKinley

That is quite a sizable number.

Must be Some Sorta Buckeye Thing in the Water. --Old B-Runner

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

This Date, 150 Years Ago: Battle of Port Royal

From the Civil War Naval Chronology.

October 9, 1861

Gunboats of Flag Officer Du Pont's force took possession of Beaufort, South Carolina, (or do you say Boo-fort?) and by blockading the mouth of the Broad River, cut off this communication link between Charleston and Savannah.

This was a follow up action resulting from the success of the Union forces at Port Royal Sound two days earlier.

At this time, Major General Robert E. Lee, who was not yet the commander of the Army of Northern Virginia, but in charge of Confederate operations along the South Carolina coast, wrote Secretary of War Judah Benjamin about the effects of the Union victory at Port Royal: "The enemy having complete possession of the water and inland navigation, commands all the islands on our coast and threatens both Savannah and Charleston, and can come in his boats, within four miles of this place (his headquarters at Coosawhatchie, SC).

"His sloops of war and large steamers can come up Broad River to Mackay's Point, the mouth of the Pocotaligo, and his gunboats can ascend some distance up the Coosawhatchie and Tulifinny. We have no guns that can resist their batteries, and have no resources but to prepare to meet them in the field."

A Very Correct Assessment of the Situation. --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

At Battle of Port Royal: 4th New Hampshire Infantry Regiment-- Part 1

From the Worth Point Price Guide concerning a letter sold in 2007 written by a soldier in the 4th New Hampshire, dated November 1, 1861.

He evidently started writing the letter November 1, 1861, but did nor finish it until days later.

The site offered lots of information on things mentioned in the letter as well as a short history of the unit.

The 4th NH was mustered into service 9/18/61 and participated in the Port Royal expedition, saw duty in Florida and operations against Charleston, SC, in 1863. Late was in the Battle of Cold Harbor, Siege of Petersburg, Va. and the Mine Explosion there.

Later, they participated in both attacks on Fort Fisher (hey, sparked my interest here). Later, they were in on the capture of Wilmington and the drive on Kinston and Goldsboro.

At the Mine Explosion,the regiment lost 6 killed, 35 wounded and 10 missing. During the whole war, they lost 4 officers and 93 enlisted killed.

Wikipedia reports the unit lost a total of 234 during the war: 3 officers and 82 men killed or mortally wounded and 5 officers and 194 men dying from disease.

It's colonel at one time was Louis Bell, who was killed at the Second Battle of Fort Fisher leading a brigade.

Got My Interest. --Old B-Runner

Port Royal's Fort Walker

Surprisingly, there is not a lot of information on one of the two Confederate forts to surrender to Union forces 150 years ago yesterday, Fort Walker.

The site of the fort is still there by Port Royal Sound at the end Hilton Head Island on the shore of Port Royal Sound. It is off Fort Walker Road near the Hilton Head Airport. Now, whether you can get to the actual site is questionable since so much of Hilton Head Island is privately owned by rich folks who don't want regular folks traipsing over their property.

After a four and a half hour bombardment, about out of ammunition and with all but three cannons our of service, General Thomas F. Drayton gave his men the order to withdraw. His brother, Percival Drayton was on the USS Pocahontas standing offshore and bombarding Fort Walker.

In addition, some 13,000 Union troops under the command of General Thomas W. Sherman had been landed and were approaching the fort, vastly outnumbering the fort's defenders.

After the battle, the fort was rebuilt and named Fort Welles, after Lincoln's Secretary of the Navy, Gideon Welles.


Fort Welles defending a large Union base used throughout the war. A civilian town, named Robbers Row (very likely by troops stationed there for its penchant to take their money) grew up to serve the needs of the garrison. At its peak, it had a hotel, theater, 2 newspapers mostly located along a street called Suttlers Row. I do not believe any part remains today, but there is a marker for it at the site.

From the Historical Data Markers organization.

Sure Wish There Was Some More on Fort Walker. --Old B-R'er

150th Anniversary of the Trent Incident

I've covered this event since Confederate commissioners Jim Mason and John Slidell slipping out of Charleston in October. Today marks the 150th anniversary of Captain Wilkes in the USS San Jacinto stopping the British mail steamer Trent in the Old Bahama Channel off Cuba and removing the two Confederates and sparking an international incident, straining British-US relations.

As a pro-Confederate, I'd have to say the capture of the two was illegal, coming as it did off a vessel belonging to a neutral country.

But, the North and Lincoln's administration saw it differently.

Who Was Right. --Old B-Runner

Monday, November 7, 2011

150th Anniversary of the Battle of Port Royal Today

From the Civil War Naval Chronology

I was aware of the Battle of Port Royal, but didn't know that much about it intil now.

NOVEMBER 7, 1861

Naval forces under Flag Officer Du Pont captured Port Royal Sound. While his fleet steamed boldly in, naval gunners poured a heavy fire into Confederate Forts Walker and Beauregard with extreme accuracy. Confederates abandoned the forts and the small Confederate fleet under Commodore Tattnall could offer very little resistance but did rescue troops by ferrying them to the mainland from Hilton Head.

Marines and sailors were landed to occupy the forts until the Army arrived under the command of General T.W, Sherman. Careful planning and skillful execution had given a great victory and an important base of operations.

Confederates were forced to withdraw defenses inland, out of range of Naval guns.

Du Pont wrote, "It is not my temper to rejoice over fallen foes, but this must be a gloomy night in Charleston."

A Big Blow Against the Confederacy. --Old B-Runner

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Naval Commanders at Port Royal

From the Civil War Navy Sesquicentennial Blog

CSN Captain Josiah Tattnal

Opposed secession, but resigned from US Navy and became senior naval officer of his home state's Georgia Navy. Later commissioned in the Confederate Navy and became commander of the entire Georgia and South Carolina coastline.

Commanded the Mosquito Fleet which mounted two cannons. (I was unable to find out the names of the ships or armaments.)

According to Savannah Now, Commodore Tattnal brought his small fleet from Savannah to help defend Port Royal and arrived just as the Federal fleet was sounding the channel (all navigation aids had previously been removed). They attacked the Union ships but were forced to retreat.

They retreated to Skull Creek to avoid destruction or capture. After the battle, they transported some of the stranded forts defenders and returned to Savannah.

USN Samuel Du Pont

He had just become commander of the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron (SABS) Sept. 18, 1861 after having served in the US Navy since 1815. He commanded the SABS until June 1863.

A Battle's A-Brewing. --Old B-Runner

Running the Blockade: Monitor's Turret-- Rick Perry-- Fortress Monroe

Running the Blockade-- Some new news about an old war.

1. MONITOR'S TURRET-- The Nov. 3rd Daily Press (Va.) reports that the turret of the USS Monitor has been placed in Virginia's Tip Ten Endangered Artifact List. This is not so much that it isn't receiving great preservation, but because it requires permanent care. The World War II USS Wisconsin, also in Norfolk, also is on the list.

2. RICK PERRY-- Texas governor of Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry has announced he will not support the SCV's attempt to get license plates in his state. In the past, he has defended Confederate symbols. Guess someone is looking for votes.

3. FORTRESS MONROE--The Virginia Pilot reported that President Obama was to sign a bill making the fort a National Park, the 396th one. He did so with powers granted him by the 1906 Antiquities Act.

Just Some Stuff. --Old B-R'er

The 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Port Royal, SC

Definitely one of the major naval battles of the war and one that gave the North a very important base of operations between Charleston and Savannah along the Atlantic seaboard. I imagine the attack would have come earlier than November 7th had it not been for the huge storm that hit on the 1st which dispersed the fleet.

The Civil War Naval Sesquicentennial blog is spending all week discussing the battle and implications considering "it perhaps THE most important naval event of the 1861."

From the Civil War Naval Chronology:

NOVEMBER 5th-- Today's date, The USS Ottawa, Pembina, Seneca and Pawnee engaged and dispersed Commodore Tattnall's small Confederate squadron at Port Royal Sound and fired on Forts Beauregard and Walker. The attack was to come two days later.

Big Event! --Old B-Runner

Friday, November 4, 2011

Happenings Week of November 6, 1861

From AP week of November 6, 1861.

There was a great storm off Hatteras Inlet, thoroughly drenching Union forces occupying the forts. A report from there said, "Five rebel steamers came near the inlet, but returned after firing a couple shots.

November 7, 1861, the Battle of Port Royal. Forts Walker and Beauregard taken and the US had a strategic base between Savannah and Charleston.

From the Civil War Naval Chronology.

NOV. 1st-- A violent storm struck the Port Royal expedition off the Carolina coast, scattering the ships of the fleet. Damage was less than what it could have been.

NOV. 2nd-- USS Sabine rescued battalion of Marines from US transport Governor which sank off Georgetown, SC.

NOV. 4th-- Coast Survet Ship Vixen entered Port Royal Sound to sound the channel. Escorted by USS Ottawa and USS Seneca. Confederate ships under Commodore Tattnall attacked the ships.

A Big Naval Fight in the Offing. --Old B-Runner

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Civil War Comes to Galena-- Part 3

The Celebration.

"Every bell in the city was soon set into motion...huge bonfires were built at the intersections of streets, the cannon was got out and reverberated from hill to hill...the excitement ran so high that no one could sleep nor was anyone inclined to."

Sadly, several days later on April 15th, the Gazette reported: "We announce with grief inexpressible the occurrence of events that fill all loyal hearts with deeper and more poignant sorrow that ever before weighed them down with great calamity--The Assassination of President Lincoln."

This news had been sent to Galena by telegraph and only a small group in the telegraph office and later the Gazette office.

The War Comes to a Small Illinois Town. --Old B-Runner

The Civil War Comes to Galena-- Part 2

The April 1862 Battle of Shiloh brought the horrors of war home to Galena, with papers full of casualty reports during that month.

In April 1863, Admiral David Dixon Porter ran his fleet past Vicksburg on the Mississippi River and opened the way for hometown hero U.S. Grant to eventually capture the Confederate stronghold, cutting the Confederacy in half.

In April 1864, Grant gave the order to move the Army of the Potomac across the Rapidan River for his final onslaught against Confederate General Lee.

Finally, April 10, 1865, the Galena Daily Gazette reported, "Glorious! The Surrender of Lee's Army." Continuing, "On Sunday, the 9th day of April 1865, ten days less that the four years after the first hostile gun was fired on Fort Sumter, General Lee and the Rebel forces of the Confederacy have surrendered."

Many people, "who had retired to rest for the night, rushed forth into the streets to vent their feelings to the utmost limit of the human voice."

The Celebration Was On. --Old B-R'er

The Civil War Comes to Galena, Illinois-- Part 1

From the Galena "A Day in April" by Steve Repp.

The Alfred W. Mueller Historical Collections Room at the Galena Public Library has actual bound volumes of Galena newspapers dating back to 1834 through to the 1990s.

The April 15, 1861, Galena Daily Advertiser had bold headlines "Fort Sumter Surrendered." It also reported that "in our columns today will be found news of the most startling character. It moves the American heart to its depth."

President Lincoln then called for 75,000 volunteers, forcing the southern border states to follow suit and secede.

Galenian citizen Ulysses Grant later recalled, "as soon as the news of the call for volunteers reached Galena, posters were stuck up calling for a meeting at the court ceased entirely, all was excitement."

With his military background, a West Point graduate, Grant helped train the volunteers and went with them to the state capital in Springfield in late April 1861.

I'll have to pay the library a visit the next time I'm there.

Galena Goes to War. --Old B-Runner

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Civil War in the Land of Lincoln

From the April 14th Chicago Sun-Times "Remembering the Civil War in the Land of Lincoln" by Lori Rackl.

For those of you who think there wasn't any things that happened in Illinois during the war. Sure, there were no major battles, but only New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio sent more soldiers to the Union than Illinois' 259,092. Also, the state gave Lincoln and Grant to the effort.

Here are some Illinois towns and their Civil War connection:

SPRINGFIELD-- The Abraham Lincoln Museum and Library. The old state capitol, Lincoln's home and tomb.

GALENA-- U.S. Grant's rental home and tomb.

JACKSONVILLE-- Col. Benjamin Grierson's home. Led the raid that allowed Grant to capture Vicksburg.

CAIRO-- Confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. Massive military camp at Fort defiance. Mound City National Cemetery.

ALTON-- The Lincoln and Civil War Legacy Walk. Lincoln-Douglas Debate. Confederate prison. Local resident Senator Lyman Trumbull authored the 13th Amendment prohibiting slavery.

ROCK ISLAND-- Confederate prison.

So, There Is a Civil War Connection in Illinois. --Old B-R'er

A Different Look at the Slavery Question

From the April 14th "Americans keep Confederates in the attic, slaves in the cellar" by David Horsey.

Mr. Horsey brought forth some bits of information that most Americans are unfamiliar with.

New England shippers dominated the trans-Atlantic slave trade.

When abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison attacked slavery, he himself was attacked by Massachusetts in his own hometown who resented his interference.

Slavery helped build New York City.

Slavery was still legal in some northern states well into the 19th century.

Many Union soldiers were not liberal and enlightened as to racial matters.

Many Confederate soldiers were not fighting for slavery but in defense of their homes.

At the end of the war, Southerners started putting forth the idea that they were not fighting to preserve slavery, but rather to protect their way of life.

Interesting Things to Think About. --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Was the First Shot of the War Fired at Fort Sumter?

From the April 13th Chicago Tribune.

A raid by Southern sympathizers on Fort Barrancas in today's Pensacola Naval Air Station in Florida was likely the result of an ill-planned, drunken misadventure that ended with a blank shot being fired on January 8, 1861.

Civil War historian Dale Cox considers this the first shot of the war, coming a few hours before the steamer Star of the West was fired on in Charleston Harbor. Fifty US soldiers under Lt. Adam J. Slemmer were stationed at Fort Barrancas, guarding Pensacola Bay.

With Confederate sentiment seething in the area, he had ordered the fort's drawbridge raised. Around midnight, a guard heard footsteps and challenged. One of the people lurking in the darkness fired a blank. Slemmer made no comment about shots being fired that night. In 1865, R.L. Sweetman, one of the unknowns that night, wrote that a blank shot was fired that night at the fort.

So, Was It? --Old B-R'er