Monday, January 31, 2011

USS Monitor Engine, It's the Real Deal-- Part 2

The work on the concretion is slow and tedious at best with every effort being made to avoid damaging the engine in any way. So far, they have stripped more than two tons of the stuff off in the first week's work.

The Monitor sank on Dec. 31, 1862, in a storm off North Carolina's Cape Hatteras.

"This is a technological marvel. It was cutting edge for its day. But what's really neat is revealing all the wheels, oil cups, valves and other parts that the Monitor's crew used to operate the engine," said conservation project manager Dave Krop.

The Monitor's vibrating side-lever engine was much smaller and more compact than engines on steamers of the era.

You can go to the USS Monitor Center to keep updated. Make sure you check out the blog.

Glad Some Parts of the Ship Will Be Saved. --Old B-R'er

USS Monitor Engine Returns to Civil War Appearance-- Part 1

From the December 10, 2010, Daily Press.

The last time anyone set eyes on the engine the way it looks today was back on Christmas Eve 1862, a total of nearly 148 years ago.

Back in 2001, the engine, turret and other parts of the Monitor were brought up from the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. The years had produced a thick layer of marine concretion. Sand, mud and corrosion had combined with minerals to cover every feature of Swedish-born John Ericsson's ingenuous 30-ton machine.

For the past nine years, the engine sat in a tank receiving a desalination treatment.

Earlier in the week, conservators at the Mariners Museum and USS Monitor Center drained the 35,000 gallon tank and began the intensive removal of the 2-3-inch concretion with hammers, chisels and other hand tools.

Remove That Crud!! --Old B-Runner

Friday, January 28, 2011

SCV Radio Commercial for Fort Fisher

This story covers three of my favorite things: Beach Music, SCV and Fort Fisher.

This morning while listening Todd Bell on North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina's WNMB AM station, I heard a commercial sponsored by the North Carolina Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) urging people to visit historic Fort Fisher to get in touch with their Southern heritage.

As a proud member of the Camp Douglas camp of the SCV, it is good to hear the organization in the news like that.

And, Fort Fisher is what got me interested in the Civil War back when I was seven. I was even going to write a book about it at one time until several excellent ones came out.

Plus, I am a huge fan of East Coast Carolina Beach Music. I used to listen to Bell on the Surf 94.9 FM, but that station went off the air suddenly a couple weeks ago. I was glad to see he landed at WNMB and is continuing to play all that great music.

Good Things on the Radio. --Old Blockade-Runner

The Peace in Union Painting by Thomas Nast-- Part 2

When Herman Kohlsaat met Thomas Nast in London in 1894, he offered the painter $10,000 for the portrait and Nast began it at his New Jersey home. He put the final touches on it in Chicago on April 9, 1895, the 30th anniversary of Lee's surrender.

It was taken to Galena on a special train and unveiled at Turner Hall. Then, it was moved to the Galena Public Library, located on the second floor of the downtown post office where it remained until 1938.

When the Galena Historical Society Museum opened that year, it was moved to that building.

This was not achieved easily and had to be done by hand and carried physically up the side of a hill behind the museum. The frame was partially removed and corners of the painting rolled down slightly to fit through a large window.

You can see it today in the museum's Civil War room.

Definitely on My Agenda Next Trip. --Old B-Runner

The Peace in Union Painting by Thomas Nast-- Part 1

I first wrote about this in yesterday's blog entry. I'd never heard of this painting being in Galena, Illinois, but was well aware of it. It has probably appeared in thousands of school textbooks and shows the events taking place April 9, 1865, at Appomattox when General Lee surrendered his army to US Grant, effectively ending the Civil War (even though there would be more actions).

This information is from the Galena Historical Museum site.

The picture is a 9' by 12' oil painting, one of only a few to be painted of the event. I don't think there were even photos taken.

Thomas Nast was the nation's premier political cartoonists of the 19th century and is also famous for portraying the Republican Party as an elephant and Democratic Party as a donkey. Of course, the fat jovial Santa Claus we now have was also a Nast creation.

The Peace in Union painting came about as a result of a chance meeting between Nast and Herman Kohnsaat in London in 1894. Kohlsaat had grown up in Galena and was a big US Grant fan. As a teen germ he moved to Chicago and made a fortune in the catering, wholesale bakery and budget lunchroom business. He then got involved in the newspaper publishing business.

He always wanted to give something back to his boyhood home of Galena, and in 1891 commissioned a bronze statue of Grant that he wanted to be placed in a prominent place. This led to the creation of Grant Park.

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

Mass Reading of Lincoln Speech

From the Jan. 24, 2011 Herald News (Il) "Lockport plans mass reading of Lincoln speech."

This will be done Feb. 11th in honor of Lincoln's birthday on the 12th and , the 150th anniversary of his leaving Springfield, Illinois, for Washington, DC, and the sesquicentennial of the Civil War.

At 11 am, those assembled will read Lincoln's Farewell Speech that he gave at Springfield's train depot Feb. 11, 1861, as he went on his was to DC to become president.

This is part of a larger effort to set a new world's record in Guinness to break the old mark at 223,363 that took place at 909 sites. The article listed one other place that it will be done at, Springfield's Western Depot, but I'm sure to get those numbers it will have to be done at many other locations.

Hope They Break the Record. --Old B-Runner

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Have Breakfast on a Confederate Ironclad

I sure wish I was in North Carolina right now as I sure know where I'd be this coming Saturday.

From the Jan. 26, 2011 ENC Today "Breakfast to be served on the CSS Neuse II Saturday."

If you come to Kinston, North Carolina, this Saturday, you will have the opportunity to eat aboard a full-size replica of a Confederate ironclad, the CSS Neuse, only you'll definitely be eating better than what the average Confederate sailor could expect.

This is a fund-raiser for the vessel and part of it will also be the kick-off of the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War, what they're calling a sesquicentennial, in Lenoir County. You'll also get to witness the second part of the secession debate which will start tomorrow.

It will cost you $7 for the Southern-style breakfast which will include eggs, bacon, sausage, grits, coffee and juice which will be cooked on the gunboat grounds and shuttled inside.

Confederate sailors would have probably had salt pork and hard tack, maybe coffee if they were lucky and fish if they caught them.

In addition to the breakfast, the Carteret Greys, a five-piece band will be playing Civil War-era music and there will be a re-enactment by Riley's Battery on land. Visitors can also view the new 6.4-inch, 12 foot long Brooke rifle. Tours will be given of the Kinston battlefields as well.

Sounds like a full-day of events.

Eat Mo' Eggs. --Old B-R'er

Civil War Battles: 0, Civil War Treasures: Countless-- Galena, Illinois

From the start of the war to the end of it.

There are no Civil War battlefields in Galena, yet the town's connection to the Civil War can not be denied. Nine Union generals, including one who went on to become president hailed from Galena. Plus, in Grant Park, there is a Blakely Rifle (cannon) which was part of a Confederate battery that fired on Fort Sumter to start the war. I have written extensively about this gun. Click on the Galena Blakely label below.

Plus, the Galena History Museum has the famous painting of Lee's surrender to Grant titled "Peace in Union." This picture has appeared in many sources over the years. Not to mention that US Grant was given a home in town in grateful thanks by its citizenry for his role in the war. he lived there before becoming president.

The Galena History Museum & Gift Shop is at 211 S. Bench Street and is also Galena's Civil War Sesquicentennial Headquarters. Adult admission is $7.

I didn't know about the painting, but will check it out the next time I'm in town.

Galena, Not Just Antiques and Curio Shoppes. --Old B-Runner

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

How Blue is My Indigo?

Alright, I had to look up indigo seen I brought up the subject in the last post. I was right, it was a dye, so would have guessed that on Jeopardy, NTN or Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. Although, I wouldn't have bet money on it.

I knew that there were indigo plantations in the South as well as rice. Most people only think of tobacco or cotton plantations.

However, it appears that by the 1800s, indigo and rice production was falling off considerably.

Indigo is a blue dye extracted from plants originally, but now mostly all of it is synthetic. It puts the blue in blue jeans.

Its value in the past was that blue dye is very rare in nature and a variety of plants provided it, mostly from the genus Indigofera, which is native to the tropics. It does especially well in India where much of it was grown.

I saw it called "The Devil's Blue Dye" probably in reference to it being grown on plantations. Plantations in the West Indies and America produced a high quality indigo. Those in Georgia and South Carolina, mostly located near the coastal areas, had two cuttings. Those in Florida had more.

So There's Your Indigo. --Old B-R'er

The Grand Strand's Ties to the Civil War-- Part 4

Most of this information is coming from an excellent source, Ben Burroughs on his website as well as articles in the Myrtle Beach Sun-News.

Now that we have determined what a swash was, time to continue. These are definitely places I'll check out in between the ocean, pool, bars and Beach Music the next time we're at the Grand Strand.

Present day Myrtle Beach, South Carolina was largely an indigo plantation owned by the Wither family, hence the name Withers Swash as mentioned yesterday.

Surfside Beach was largely another indigo plantation owned by the Tillman family.

I guess the next question should be what exactly was indigo? I'm guessing some sort of a dye as I have come across the word before.

From the Aug. 16, 2007 Sun-News.

There were three major Confederate defensive works along the what is today called the Grand Strand. To the north was Fort Randall at the Little River Inlet, in the middle was a blockhouse at Singleton Swash, and at the southern end another fortification at Murrells Inlet.

The fort at Singleton Swash is generally overlooked and is described as a fort similar to Fort Randall. Protection of the area was a concern to Singleton Swash owner Peter Vaught, Sr., who had written the governor of South Carolina requesting additional troops to defend the area. The saltworks as his place were definitely turning out a lot of salt.

It doesn't appear that many additional troops were sent.

Still Not Finished. --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

What is a Swash, Anyway?

I couldn't help but wonder what a swash exactly was after mentioning the Withers and Singleton swashes in the previous entry.

Knowing it had something to do with saltworks, they would have to be near the ocean, the source of the salt. Other than swashbuckler, I've never really heard the term before.

So, I did some investigating. One source called it a creek coming in from the ocean, but the author wasn't sure.

Wikipedia referred to a swash as water that washes up on shore from an incoming wave.

It would probably be ocean water trapped on the beach after the wave recedes. I have seen small ones along beaches and they make a great place to enjoy the ocean without getting knocked around by waves. Plus, there are often small fish in them and quite fun to chase around in the pool.

Swashing Away At the Beach. --Old B-R'er

The Grand Strand's Ties to the Civil War-- Part 3

Again, the Grand Strand (Myrtle Beach and surrounding coastal area) in South Carolina is not all Beach Music, motels, miniature golf (oh yes, regular golf) and beaches. It did have a role of sorts in the Civil War.

I found this article in the Jan. 16, 2011, Myrtle Beach Sun News of great interest.


A series of skirmishes between Union and Confederate forces broke out along the southern Grand Strand in late 1863. The USS Perry fired on a blockade-runner that was fitting out at Murrell's Inlet. When shells didn't succeed, two boats were sent ashore at what is now Litchfield Beach to attempt to set fire to it.

The 21st Georgia cavalry attacked those who landed, capturing three officers and 12 men.

Not to be denied, Union forces returned on December 30, 1863 with six ships and 100 marines. They destroyed the blockade-runner on New Years Day 1864.


All along the Confederate coast, saltworks were built during the war to supply that important commodity.

In April 1864, attacks were made at salt works in the Myrtle Beach area. The one at Singleton swash was hit first, followed by one at Withers swash a day later. A Federal officer described the saltworks at Singleton swash as being sizable, containing "about thirty buildings, three of them large warehouses built of heavy logs, containing about two thousand bushels of salt and large quantities of rice, corn and bacon."

The tidewater lagoon on the 11th fairway of the Dunes Club, near Singleton swash, may have been the site of a large saltwater holding tank for the saltworks.

The South Carolina Civil War Museum at Myrtle Beach has two large salt kettles from the works at Dunes Cove along with ladies clothing, uniforms, swords and exhibits and artifacts from the CSS Peedee and Mars Bluff Naval Yard.

Looks Like a Place I Have to Check Out the Next Time I'm on the Grand Strand. One of These Days I Hope to Get There for an SOS Party. --Old B-Runner

Monday, January 24, 2011

Cushing at Fort Randall

I had a few questions about Union Lt. William Cushing at Fort Randall as written about on today's earlier entry, so looked up some more information.

From the Historical Markers Data base and especially Fort Randall, Little River Neck, Horry County, Sc, by Ben Burroughs.

The fort originally mounted two 6-pdr. cannons and was named after Captain Thomas Randall, a large landowner in the area.

When Cushing made his attack, he was on a captured schooner named the Home which was disguised as a blockade-runner and was looking for Wilmington pilots when he stumbled upon Fort Randall. He has heard of a pilot station at Little River.

In a report dated Jan. 8, 1863, Cushing said he disembarked from the Home and crossed the bar at the mouth of Little River on three cutters with 25 men. A mile from the mouth, he was fired upon from a bluff and immediately beached the boats and formed his men 200 yards from his attackers.

Advancing, they saw the fort when they cleared the trees and "knowing that the rebels were ignorant of our numbers, I charged with bayonet and captured their works, going over one side as they escaped over the other." (Of course, Lt. Cushing also had no idea how large the enemy force was either.) They found no guns mounted and destroyed all that they could not carry off.

They continued a short distance and had another skirmish, but not finding any schooners or pilots and running out of ammunition, they returned to their boats.

Union casualties in the action were one man wounded in the leg. There was no mention of Confederate casualties.

Mr. Burroughs mentioned that as of 2008, the earthwork Fort Randall still stood, but parts have started to erode. The site still offers great views of the Little River Inlet where it meets the Atlantic Ocean.

Quite a Character, That Cushing. --Old B-R'er

The Grand Strand's Ties to the Civil War-- Part 2

Continued from Jan. 17, 2011.

FORT RANDALL-- Built to protect blockade-runners and to protect the village of Little River. It was built sometime before March, 1861, before Fort Sumter was fired upon. It is located on what today is known as Tilghman Point.

The inlet was a haven for smaller blockade-runners during the early part of the war.

Confederate Major A.B. Magruder at Wilmington, NC, wrote: "Run into the mouth of Little River, a small stream...near the boundary line of North and South Carolina. ...It is not down on the charts nor on the coast survey, and it's existence even- certainly its harbor and anchorage ground- is certainly its harbor and anchorage ground- is hardly known to any Yankee. Communications from a little village or post-office called Little River, about 4 or 6 miles from the mouth, are readily had with the interior."

The fort was captured in January 1863 by Union navy Lt. William Cushing (who later sank the Confederate ironclad Albemarle and continually led operations along the coast) who held it briefly before running out of ammunition. There is a marker for the fort located at the intersection of North Myrtle Pointe Boulevard and US-17.

Still More to Come. Heading South to Murrell's Inlet. --Old B-Runner

Friday, January 21, 2011

Harper House Reopens at Bentonville Battlefield

One of the main structures still standing on the Battle of Bentonville field was closed back on October 6, 2010, for much-needed repairs. I reopened for tours on Jan. 6th.

The home dates back to 1855 and its brick foundation is built on sand and has settled over the years causing numerous cracks in the interior plaster walls.

During the battle, it served as a field hospital where 600 Confederate and Union soldiers were treated. During that time, the eleven Harper family members were forced to move upstairs.

The house was inhabited until 1957 when the State of North Carolina purchased it.

Save That Old House. --Old B-Runner

Four Cannon Balls Found in Texas Channel

From the Jan. 19, 2011, Baytown (Tx) Sun.

Four cannon balls believed to be Civil War era have been recovered during dredging of the Texas City Ship Channel and might be from the wreck of the USS Westfield, a Union gunboat sunk during the 1863 Battle of Galveston.

Back in November 2009, a cannon and five cannon balls were found near where these were located.

The FBI examined them and found them to be inert and they were then turned over to the Navy for further preservation.

The Westfield mounted six cannons: 1X100 pdr. Parrot rifle, 1X9-inch Dahlgren smoothbore and 4X8-inch Dahlgren smoothores.

Watch Where You Step in Southern Waters. --Old B-R'er

Blue If Successful: Hunley Light Replicas

From the Dec. 8, 2010, Pa. Republican & Herald.

This is the kind of Civil War story I really like to read as it involves young people getting a taste of the Civil War and hopefully turning them into our future buffs.

The National Civil War Museum in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, has accepted a replica of a lantern that may have been used on the Confederate submarine Hunley when it sank the USS Housatonic in 1864. It is one of four made by 12 Hamburg Area High School, Pa., students. It will be placed in the Navy section.

The museum is also receiving signal flags from the CSS Virginia II and artifacts from the CSS Albemarle.

The Hunley sank Feb. 17, 1864, while returning from the attack. A Confederate soldier on shore reported seeing an agreed upon blue light signal likely from the submarine.

Students also recreated two working lanterns in their six month project accomplished with much research and after school hours. These two showed blue lights that could be seen 1,100 feet.

All of the remaining lanterns are being taken to the Warren Lasch Conservation Center in North Chicago which is preserving the remains of the Hunley. One will be put on permanent display and the two working ones will be tested in the spring of 2012.

The Student's' Teacher is to Be Commended. --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Fort Fisher's 146th Anniversary

From Jan. 16, 2011, News 14 Carolina TV.

This past Saturday a commemoration was held on the grounds of Fort Fisher State Historic Site in Kure Beach, NC.

I sure would like to attend one of these sometime, but that is well over a thousand miles away and too close to my wife's birthday, but perhaps I can be there for the 150th in 2015.

And, these people got to walk on the mounds, something I haven't been able to do in a long time. Back in the 60s and 70s I spent a lot of time walking them, but they are now off limits all of the time.

David Vinson was there with his two kids and said that his great-great grandfather and other family members fought at Fort Fisher.

Tour guide Ray Flowers said an estimated 20,000 cannon balls were fired at the fort in the two attacks and "it was virtually raining iron."

Another visitor, Cathy Schnegelberger added, "It's really surreal, it makes me feel really close to my family, and to come here and see some of the sacrifice that my grandfather gave and all that he went through is really special.

Someone was holding a Civil War era picture of a relative who fought at the fort.

Maybe Sometime. --Old B-Runner

Monday, January 17, 2011

Fort Clifton, Virginia

The fort is located in the City of Colonial Heights, Virginia and was an important link in the Confederate Richmond-Petersburg defense line in 1864-1865. It is located on a cliff by where Swift Creek flows into the Appomattox River.

The siz-gun battery still stands and it was never taken by Union forces until the evacuation of those cities.

It was constructed during the winter months of 1863-1864 by soldiers and slaves under the supervision of engineers Charles H. Dimmold and Henry de Feuuve and was primarily a three-side fortification that later included a powder magazine and a two-story guard house.

Garrisoned by 500 men, it mounted some heavy caliber guns and field pieces.

On May 9, 1864, the Battle of Swift Creek took place here when soldiers under Gen. Bushrod Johnson defeated 18,000 Federals of the X and XVIII Corps.

A Fort I was Not familiar With. --Old B-Runner

Well, after checking out the label for Fort Clifton, evidently I have heard of it.

The Grand Strand's Ties to the Civil War-- Part 1

From the Jan. 16, 2011 Myrtle Beach (SC) News Sun "Grand Strand has several ties to Civil War."

When most people think South Carolina in the Civil War, thoughts turn to Charleston, and rightfully so. When most think of Myrtle Beach or the Grand Strand, they think golf, beaches, or in my case, Beach Music.

However, there are some Civil War places along the Grand Strand.

BATTERY WHITE was built by Confederates around 1862 to protect Winyah Bay. It is now inside the Belle Island Yacht Club and on the National Register of Historic Places. According to Confederate Brig. Gen. J.H. Tipler, it was "almost, if not absolutely, impregnable."

But, throughout its wartime history, it suffered from lack of armament and manpower. The few soldiers who were there eventually deserted and told Union forces about it.

When the Union Navy came upon it in Feb. 1865, Admiral Dahlgren was impressed by it and reported: "The principal battery looks directly on the water, well planned and executed carefully, not only with reference to the cannonade by ships, but also to an assault from the water. ...If the work had been sufficiently manned, it would have required good troops to take the work."

Hit the Battery White label below for more information.

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

Second Attack on Fort Fisher

The hand-to-hand and ground fighting started at 3:25 pm until 9:30 when the fort surrendered.


1 am-- Bragg notifies Lee that Fisher has fallen.

Dawn-- First light reveals the carnage. The fort's main magazine explodes, killing about 200 men on both sides.

Afternoon-- Sec. of War Stanton, en route to Washington, DC, makes a surprise stop at Fisher and is presented the garrison flag.

Union forces then began a movement up the peninsula and Cape Fear River until the port of Wilmington was captured five weeks later.

The Confederacy did not last long after the fall of Fort Fisher.

The Beginning of the End. --Old B-Runner

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Second Attack on Fort Fisher: January 15, 1865

Today marks the 146th anniversary of the Union capture of Confederate Fort Fisher guarding the last open Southern port, Wilmington, North Carolina.

MORNING-- The bombardment commences again and continues along the land front up until the ground assault. Some reinforcements from Hoke's division arrive from battery Buchanan. Union troops from Adelbert Ames' division, about 4,200 men, are in position about 500 yards away from Fisher. Arranged in three attack waves were the brigades of Newton Curtis, Galusha Pennypacker and Louis Bell.

Admiral Porter's attack force, 2,261 sailors and marines, come ashore.

2 PM-- Union troops 300 yards from the fort.

2:30 PM-- The last of 350 soldiers from Hoke arrive at the fort. The garrison now numbers 1,900. Only two cannons on land face still operational.

3:25 PM-- The fleet stops bombardment along the land face but continues along the sea face. All Union warships sound an ear-splitting blast from their steam whistles, signaling the commencement of the ground attack.

"Such a hell of a noise I never expected to hear again."-- Lt. Cmdr. William B. Cushing.

It's In the Fire Now. --Old B-Runner

Second Attack on Fort Fisher-- January 14th, 1865

I am doing a day-to-day account of the Second battle of Fort Fisher. Thanks to the North Carolina Historic Sites website for this chronology.


Bombardment continued. By nightfall, most guns along land face of fort are out of action.

Union General Terry's forces busy digging a strong line of entrenchments between them and Sugar Loaf. Confederate General Hoke probes this line and determines it too strong to attack. Generals Whiting and Bragg continue telegraphing each other. Whiting's tone is almost insubordinate.

Late Afternoon-- Terry determines conditions favorable for an assault. Union Admiral Porter agrees and pledge sailors and marines will land and also attack.

The Last Full Day in Confederate Hands. --Old B-Runner

Friday, January 14, 2011

Five Myths About Why the South Seceded

From the Jan. 9, 2011 Washington Post by James W. Loewen.

Mr. Loewen wrote a good article summarizing what he considers to be five reasons for Southern secession that are often given, but actually not completely true.

I just gave the title of each one (except one). You can check out his article if you'd like to read about the particulars.

1. The South seceded over states' rights.

2. Secession was about tariffs and taxes.

3. Most white Southerners didn't own slaves, so they wouldn't secede for slavery. I found this one of interest. Mr. Loewen says it is true that most didn't own slaves. But Americans tend to look at the upper classes and expect to join it some day.

In addition, there was also the belief in white supremacy which was used as the rationale for slavery.

This seems to be a plausible explanation for why so many Southerners went along with secession even when they didn't own slaves, something I've always wondered about. Why would the middle or lower classes support the rich folks who stand in their way of rising?

4. Abraham Lincoln went to war to end slavery. Actually, he went to war to save the Union and would have been more than happy to do it without freeing any slaves if he could.

5. The South couldn't have lived long as a slave society even if they had won. Slavery was definitely not on its last legs in 1860 when Southern exports accounted for 75% of US exports.

An Interesting Look at Misconceptions. --Old B-R'er

Rare Price's Creek Lighthouse Postcard Acquired

From the October 2, 2010, Southport (NC) Times.

The Southport Times has been collecting postcards of Southport since 2004, and recently they saw one become available, only the second time they had seen one. The first time that one went for just under $200.00.

The Price's Creek Lighthouse was completed in 1849 and consisted of two different structures, a front and rear range light. Vessels coming into the Cape Fear River would line up the lights to ensure that they were safely in the middle of the channel.

The rear range light and lighthouse keeper's home is pictured on this postcard. The light was on top of the house. It is no longer there with speculation that its structure was used in local building projects.

The front range light can still be seen from the Southport-Fort Fisher Ferry when approaching the Southport dock. It is on private property.

The lights were used during the Civil War.

You can see the postcard and all the rest of the collection at

They also have an equally rare old postcard from 1939 with a 1 cent Franklin stamp of the front range light.

The rear range light and house was published in 1908 by E.C. Kropp of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and postmarked July 22, 1908. A 1 cent Benjamin Franklin stamp is also on it as well.

A Bit of Lost History. --Old B-Runner

Thursday, January 13, 2011

That Problem in Charleston Harbor-- Part 3

President James Buchanan's response to the growing crisis was to send the Star of the West, a civilian ship with troops and supplies to relieve Fort Sumter. The decision not to send a US Navy ship was probably to diffuse the situation.

When the ship arrived, Citadel cadets fired on it Jan. 9, 1861, and the ship turned back. Some people still call this the first shots of the war.

That same day, Mississippi seceded and was soon followed by Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Texas. On Feb. 4th, delegates from these states met in Montgomery, Alabama, and formed the Confederate States of America.

The day before President Lincoln was inaugurated, March 3rd, newly commissioned Brig. gen. P.G.T. Beauregard assumed command of all troops around Charleston.

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

Second Battle of Fort Fisher 146th Anniversary

JANUARY 13, 1865

1 am-- Hoke's division en route from Wilmington to Sugar Loaf (north of Fort Fisher)

7:20 am-- Union gunboats begin shelling a n area four miles north of Fisher which will be used as a landing zone.

At the same time, another massive bombardment of Fisher begins.

8 am-- hundreds of launches and boats begin loading troops at transports for landing.

Col. Lamb receives 700 men as reinforcement. Garrison now 1,550 men.

Gen. Whiting arrives at Battery Buchanan and joins Lamb at Fisher.

5 pm-- Union troops begin moving southward from landing zone.

8 pm-- Whiting wires Bragg asking why the enemy on the beach haven't been attacked.

The Beginning of the End. --Old B-Runner

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

That Problem in Charleston Harbor-- Part 2

Major Anderson recognized the importance of Fort Sumter and wrote the War Department saying that South Carolina occupation of Fort Sumter would cause a problem for the Navy and would compel him to abandon Moultrie. The enemy would have "perfect command of this harbor."

Two days later, Dec. 11, 1860, Major Don Carlos Buell delivered a message from Sec. of War John B. Floyd that any attempt to take any fortification would be considered an act of hostility and Anderson had the choice of occupying any one of them as he deemed best.

After South Carolina's secession and with the threat of hostile action, Anderson transferred his garrison to Fort Sumter on the night of December 26, 1860.

The next day, South Carolina's governor Francis Pickens demanded Anderson return to Fort Moultrie which was refused so the governor ordered state militia to occupy Fort Moultrie and Castle Pinckney. Work on defensive positions around the harbor were also begun. On James Island, the long-abandoned Fort Johnson was reoccupied and guns mounted.

Meanwhile at Sumter, Anderson's command began mounting cannons and improving the fort's defenses.

Things Gettin' Mighty Tense. --Old B-Runner

18th NC's Flag Returned Home

From the July 4, 2004 Pilot.

The North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh acquired the battle flag of the 18th North Carolina regiment, the ones responsible for shooting Stonewall Jackson May 2, 1863 at the Battle of Chancellorsville.

The following day, the flag was captured by Federal soldiers when the regiment's color-bearer, Corporal Owen J. Eakins on New Hanover County was killed.

Its existence was unknown until 1992 when the current owner sent a letter to the museum. The flag's post-war history is largely unknown, but apparently there was a succession of owners until Dr. Tom Walsh got it in the early 1970s.

In 1993, it was loaned to the museum where it was conserved and put on exhibit. Dr. Walsh later offered to donate part of the value and the museum found funds to buy the rest.

Good to have It Home. --Old B-R'er

Second Battle of Fort Fisher Anniversary-- Jan. 12, 1865

Thanks to the North Carolina Historic Sites Fort Fisher site for the chronology I'll be using the next several days.

The troops had already left Hampton Roads on Jan. 6th and no doubt weren't exactly having a great time in the cramped ships bobbing around in the Atlantic.

But, this morning, Admiral Porter's fleet of 58 warships departed from Beaufort, North Carolina, heading for Fort Fisher.

By evening, Fort Fisher's commander, Col. William Lamb, observed the fleet's arrival: "I saw from the ramparts of the fort the lights of the great armada, as one after another appeared above the horizon."

Things Are Heating Up. --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

That Problem in Charleston Harbor-- Part 1

From the Winter 2010 Hallowed Ground Magazine of the Civil War Preservation Trust.

With all the news about the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, this magazine had a really good article by Richard W. Hatcher about that problem in Charleston Harbor, otherwise known as Fort Sumter.

It was built in the center of the harbor between 1829 and 1845 when around 109,000 tons of rock and stone were used to create a 2.5 acre artificial island. On it was built a five-sided fort mounting 135 guns on three tiers and garrisoned by 650 officers and men.

It was 90 per cent finished at the outbreak of the war. No construction took place after that, but plenty of destruction did.

In November 1860, Major Robert Anderson took command at Fort Moultrie in Charleston Harbor. He had a total of 84 officers and men under his command. Fort Moultrie was one of three active fortifications in Charleston. Fort Moultrie had been neglected for years and was in bad shape. Castle Pinckney was in good shape, but had only one ordnance sergeant as a garrison. Fort Sumter was unfinished, but was by far the strongest of the three.

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

Disposition of the US Fleet January 1861

From the Civil War Navy Sesquicentennial blog.

On the eve of the war, the US fleet was surprisingly spread out all over the world.

BRAZIL SQUADRON: Congress, Seminole, Pulaski

AFRICA SQUADRON: Constellation, Saratoga, Portsmouth, Mohican, Mystic, Sumter, San Jacinto, Relief

MEDITERRANEAN SQUADRON: Richmond, Susquehanna, Iroquois

EAST INDIES SQUADRON: John Adams, Hartford, Saginaw, Dacotah, Vandalia



WEST INDIES: Crusader, Wyandotte
NEW YORK: Supply
PENSACOLA: Sabine, St. Louis
MEXICO: Cumberland, Macedonian, Pochahontas, Powhatan

I would presume these were ships on active duty and not ones laid up.

A Little Here, A Little There. --Old B-Runner

Monday, January 10, 2011

Second Battle of Fort Fisher Anniversary


General Grant chooses Maj. Gen. Alfred Terry, commander of the XXIV Corps, Army of the James, to lead the second expedition against Fort Fisher.

JANUARY 6, 1865

In the morning, Army transports carrying nearly 10,000 troops depart from Hampton Roads, Virginia.

Today, no Federal activity off Fort Fisher other than the regular blockading squadron's activity. The main fleet did not leave Beaufort, NC, until the 12th.

Repairs from the first attack on the fort continue. Gen. Braxton Bragg in overall command of the Wilmington area.

And, So This Begins As Well. --Old B-R'er.

Firing on Star of the West Re-enacted

From the Jan. 8, 2011, Washington Post.

Gray-clad cadets from South Carolina's Citadel University re-enacted what their counterparts did 150 years ago, when the US government attempted to resupply the defenders of Fort Sumter, fired on the unarmed vessel.

Back then, fire from the cadets manning a battery on James Island struck the ship and it turned around and steamed off.

Some twenty cadets and their advisors spent the chilly weekend in tents on a barren, windswept island that is no longer occupied. Back in 1861, there were buildings in which the cadets took shelter.

A tour boat was chartered by school alumni to play the part of the Star of the West. When it approached, the cadets fired seven times both Saturday and Sunday, the 9th which was the actual anniversary of the event. Of course, the shots were not real.

As of yet, I have not read about any NAACP protests over the event.

And, So It Begins. --Old B-Runner

Friday, January 7, 2011

Civil War Relics and Their History-- Part 3

I always enjoy seeing any historical relics, but also like to know their histories along with how they came to be in the museum. This article was of particular interest and it DIDN'T take me three months to follow up on part 2 like the last time. Items in the Clayton-Blair History Museum in North Carolina.

PRIVATE CRAWFORD'S HANDMADE DRINKING CUP FROM PRISON-- Made from a powder horn with his name and regiment carved into it: "William Crawford, Co. G 25th SCV, Elmira, NY 1865."

Private Crawford made it while a POW at the Union Elmira Prison after his capture at Fort Fisher Jan. 15, 1865. He arrived at "Hellmira" Jan. 30th and died of pneumonia March 7. He is buried at the prison's cemetery.

Elmira was not opened until may 1864, but had the highest death rate of any Union prison, 25%.


DOG TAGS from a 2nd Michigan and a 12th New Hampshire volunteer, one of whom became a deserter.

PALMETTO REGIMENT SILVER MEDAL of a Mexican War veteran who also served in the 6th SC Cavalry.

FEDERAL CARBINE CARTRIDGE BOX with penciled soldier's name, Jacob Rey, that appears to be from a southern unit. Probably captured at some point.

CSA BRASS BELT BUCKLE with the name Bill or Billie scratched on the back.

Of Definite Interest. --Old B-R'er

Civil War Relics and Their History-- Part 2

Part 1 was all the way back to Sept. 28, 2010. I was writing about relics and their histories at the Historical Crafts and Farm Skills Festival in Aberdeen, NC, on Sept. 24, 2010 from the Southern Pines (NC) Pilot. Hit the labels below to see the first entry.

EVANS' GOLD MEDALS-- One of only two or three known bronze copies of the gold medal given to South Carolina Brigadier General Nathan G. "Shanks" Evans by the state legislature for his gallantry at the Battle of Ball's Bluff near Leesburg, Virginia, Oct. 21, 1861. The original is in the Confederate Museum in Richmond.

LEATHER SWORD BELT-- belonged to slain Confederate militia officer 1st Lt. James T. Weir (23rd SC Volunteers) captured in 1862 at the battle of Kinston, North Carolina. Taken by Gary Voorhees, 9th NJ Volunteers. It has a string tag attached to it marked, "Taken from the body of a dead C.S.A. captain." Voorhees mistook the double-bar shoulder strap worn by officers in both Confederate and Union armies. Confederate commander at Kinston was Nathan Evans.

MODEL 1861 COLT NAVY PISTOL-- engraved G.E. Manigault on butt strap. Gabriel Manigault was from the noted and wealthy Manigault family from Charles, SC, and a member of the Charleston Dragoons. He was captured at the Battle of Trevilian Station, Va., in June 1864. he survived the war and was a professor at the College of Charleston until his death in 1899.

More to Come (And I Promise Not Another Three Months). --Old B-Runner

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Looking for Sherman's March Across South Carolina

From the September 7, 2010, University of South Carolina Gamecock "USC archaeologist to research Sherman's march across SC" by Sara Hartley.

Steven Smith, an archaeologist at the USC College of Arts and Sciences will begin an in depth study of the path Union General Sherman took when he left Savannah, Ga., and marched across South Carolina.

The two-year project will include checking out sites associated with the march and is funded by a $64,200 grant from the American battlefield Protection Program, a part of the National Parks Service who gave out 25 grants.

Mr. Smith will be identifying and providing status reports on battle and camp sites along Sherman's route.

He will be documenting sixty sites but will do no excavating. The goal is to identify and lay the groundwork for preserving these places. In addition, two Union POW camps within the city limits of Columbia will be researched. Their exact locations are not now known.

For the last 30 years, Mr. Smith has been doing archaeological work and the last 18 has specialized in military sites in South Carolina and the southeast.

Uncovering the Past. --Old B-Runner

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

CSS Peedee Found-- Part 4

From the Dec. 28, 2010, Columbia (SC) Free Times "Gunboat Discovery Came After Years of Sightings, Botched Efforts" by Craig Brandhorst.

The recent discovery of the Peedee (or is it the Pee Dee) has caused lots of press coverage (but none here in Chicago).

The Peedee's wreck was discovered near the South Carolina town of Marion back in November. The ship was one of 22 similar Confederate gunboats constructed at inland naval yards across the south. They were built there for safety reasons from Union attack.

Two of the ship's three cannons were discovered 18 months earlier. They will be raised next summer and after conservation, will be housed in the Florence County Museum. A third cannon is also being sought.


It can be described as humble at best. The 150-foot-long ship never went to open sea as Georgetown, at the mouth of the Peedee River, was already in Union hands. Launched in January 1865, it only fired its guns at the enemy in one minor skirmish.

Continuing. --Old B-R'er

Ole Miss Shelves Mascot

From the Sept. 19, 2010, NY Times "Ole Miss Shelves Mascot Fraught With Baggage" by Robbie Burns.

The old mascot was a caricature of an antebellum Southern plantation owner and essentially a cross between Mark Twain and Col. Sanders. (Of course, plantation=slavery=slaves.)

Now, 12% of Old Miss' students are black and the symbol was viewed as having racial insensitivity.

The university dropped him as symbol back in 2003, but he continued everywhere on t-shirts, flags and even corkscrews. Also, Confederate flags are discouraged and "Dixie" is no longer the unofficial fight song.

This past summer, the school announced an official ban of the sell of anything with the image. The students had a vote to choose a new mascot in an attempt to recast the university whose image was tarnished in the 1960s racial strife.

However, the Colonel is not going off into the sunset without a fight. You see many tee-shirts inscribed "Colonel Reb--Loved by Many, hated by Few." A group of fans have formed the Colonel Reb Foundation and have gathered 2,000 signatures on a petition against a new mascot.

Right now, possible replacement mascots include a bear, lion, horse, land shark (the name of the football team's defensive line), and Toddy (derived from the school cheer).

I think the best new possibility is the pop-eyed fishy Admiral Ackbar, the leader of the rebellion's fleet in the attack on the second Death Star in "Star Wars." If you're going to be stupid, why not go all the way.

Big surprise, another attack on our heritage.

Stupid Is As Stupid Does. --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

CSS Peedee Found-- Part 4

Meanwhile, Amer's colleague, Dr. Jon Leader, a South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology (SCIAA) research associate professor is searching for the Mars Bluff Navy Yard where the Peedee was built. The SCIAA is part of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of South Carolina.

The land portion of the yard remains elusive.

Leader's initial research back in 2009 used ground-penetrating radar and remote-sensing technologies and students from the University of South Carolina and East Carolina University.

The site they searched turned up evidence of early Indians, but nothing that would indicate a navy yard was located there.

The entire SCIAA project is funded in part by a $200,000 grant from the Doctor Bruce and Lee Foundation in Florence, South Carolina.

Once the cannons are raised, they will be taken to the conservatory laboratory at Francis Marion University under Leader's supervision.

Always Good When We Find Someting That Was Lost. --B-R'er

Stamping Out the Civil War

From the Jan. 4, 2011 Natinal Parks Traveler by Bob Janiskee.

I had posted earlier about the Fort Sumter stamp coming out this new year in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the start of it.

there will be two stamps coming out this year. One will be for Fort Sumter, the opening action of the war. But, coming out the same day, April 12th, will also be a stamp for the First Battle Of Bull Run (or First Battle of Manassas as Southerners call it).

The Fort Sumter stamp is the famous Currier & Ives lithograph. First Bull Run is the 1964 painting by Sidney E. King's "The Capture of Rickett's Battery.

I'm not exactly sure what a stamp panel is, but it will have comments by Lincoln, Frederick Douglas, Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson along with some of the lines from the song "Johnny Has Gone for a Soldier. The pane background is of an 1861 Union regiment nears Falls Church, Virginia.

Looking forward to these two stamps. There will be two new ones a year for the duration of the sesquicentennial.

Wish there Would Be More. --Old B-Runner

Monday, January 3, 2011

CSS Peedee Found-- Part 3

The Peedee was further damaged early in the 1900s when the US Army Corps of Engineers were clearing the Peedee River channel.

In 1925, the propellers were salvaged, and, in 1954, the two engines, a boiler, propeller shafts and a 30-foot section of the stern were reclaimed from the river.

Amer will ask local loggers this spring to move the logs holding down the brooks gun in preparation for raising it and the other one. He hopes that perhaps the logs are also hiding the third cannon they are looking for.

The logs are a remnant of the Mars Bluff Shipyard, one of seven inland Confederate navy yards, where the Peedee was built.

Here's Hoping for the Third Gun. --Old B-Runner

Seven Confederate Brothers-- Part 2

The brothers.

MILLS W. ROBERTS (1832-1893)-- Orderly Sergeant-- wounded at Petersburg June 22, 1864. Present at Appomattox surrender.

FRANCIS COLUMBUS ROBERTS (1840-1903)-- Private-- wounded Battle of Wilderness May 6, 1864. Present at Appomattox.

JOHN WALTER ROBERTS (1835-1901)-- 2ns Sergeant-- Wounded at Malvern Hill and again at Spotsylvania and lost right arm.

NATHANIEL CORNELIUS ROBERTS (1843-1873)-- Private-- discharged physical disability May 1, 1863.

SYLVESTER JAMES ROBERTS (1837-1915)-- 1st Corporal-- wounded and captured at Germana Ford May 1, 1863. Present at Appommatox.

BENJAMIN CLAUDIUS ROBERTS (1839-1926)-- wounded May 12, 1862 at Spotsylvania Courthouse.

STEPHEN W. ROBERTS--First Lt., the seventh son, who had already enlisted in the 11th NC. Wounded three times during the war.

Committed to the Confederacy. --B'R'er

Seven Confederate Brothers-- Part 1

From HMDB.Six sons of Benjamin and Mary Ann Roberts enlisted in Co. D (Isle of Wight Rifle Grays) 16th Virginia Infantry Infantry. A seventh son had enlisted earlier in a North Carolina regiment. Now, this is support for the cause.

Stephen Wyatt Roberts was the first to join. Then came brothers Mills W., John W. Sylvester J., Benjamin C., Francis C. and Nathaniel C..

All seven brothers were wounded while in service and three surrendered with Lee at Appomattox.

Miraculously, all survived and returned to the Windsor area in Isle of Wight County.

A Roberts Breakdown Next. --Old B-Runner

Saturday, January 1, 2011

CSS Peedee Found-- Part 2

Michael Hartley, a North Carolina archaeologist was only 12 when he remembered seeing and attempted recovery of the Peedee back in 1954. The water was especially low that year and the wreck was clearly visible. he made a map of it which was used for the relocation. Chris Amer said he was able to go right to the wreck's location.

He took magnetic readings which proved positive for Hartley's location.

In November, Amer used sonar to search for it an found evidence of the wreck: ripples on the sand where sediment had built up over the debris, magnetic "hits" in straight lines depicting the iron bolts along bedding timber.

It's in pieces and buried and no one is sure exactly how deep.

The Confederates set fire to the 170-foot boat and it blew up so it wouldn't fall into Union hands as Sherman's army approached.

More to Come. --Old B-Runner

Fort Sumter Stamp Due This Year

From the Dec. 29, 2010, Myrtle Beach (SC) Sun News.

The post office has announced stamps they'll be issuing this upcoming year.

Of particular interest to us Civil War nuts is the firing on Fort Sumter April 12-13th, 1861 The Fort Sumter National Monument will also be holding events to commemorate it from April 9-17th.

Other stamps coming out:

RONALD REAGAN-- 100th anniversary of his birth in February.
INDY 500-- 100th anniversary
KANSAS-- 150th anniversary of statehood
MANNED SPACE FLIGHT-- 50th anniversary of Alan Shepard's flight, first American in space.
DISNEY-PIXAR FILMS-- Toy Story, Cars, Ratatouille, Up and WALL-E.

All new 1-ounce first class stamps will be marked FOREVER which means you will always be able to use just this stamp to mail a letter even if the price, currently 44 cents, goes up.

That's Nice. --B-R'er

And, a Happy 1-1-11 to You

Today is January 1, 2011, which is 1-1-11. Sounds one-y to me. How often can you say that?

This starts the fifth year of this blog which started November 10, 2007. There weren't a lot of entries that yearm, just 55. I've always been a Civil War fan, but had really lapsed until I started this blog which really got me back into it.

My objective this year is 365 entries, one for each day.

This blog grew out of my Down da Road I Go blog. As I put more and more entries about the Civil War, I realized I needed to start a new one.

My other blogs:

MUSIC and ME--
HISTORY (primarily WWII)--

Happy NYD. --Old B-Runner