The Battle of Fort Fisher, N.C.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Fort Fisher's Mrs. Lamb-- Part 2-- Now God Will Take Care of My Papa

Late in December 1864, Col. Lamb sent Daisy and the children across the Cape Fear River to Orton Plantation for safety as the Union fleet massed off shore of Fort Fisher. On Christmas Eve, Daisy, with a pair of high-powered binoculars, watched the Federal bombardment of her husband's fort.

Afterwards she wrote, in the midst of the awful roaring and thundering that her son, Dick, approached her. "Mama," he said. "I want to pray to God and for my papa." The child knelt down and "said his little earnest prayer; and feeling the better for it exclaimed, "Oh sister, I'm so glad! I'm so glad! Now God will keep care of my papa!"

They returned to their cottage, which had fallen into enemy hands during the first attack, but had been abandoned on their withdrawal. A short three weeks later, the family was again forced to Orton. This time, their husband and father was not so lucky. He was wounded, captured and sent north as a prisoner.

A Courageous Woman. --Old B-Runner

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Fort Fisher's Mrs. Lamb-- Part 1

From the Fort Fisher State Historical Site Gallery page.

Any Fort Fisher person is familiar with Confederate Col. William Lamb, who commanded the fort and partially designed it, but his wife, Sarah Ann "Daisy" Chaffee Lamb, spent almost as much time there as her husband, only leaving during the two attacks.

She was from Providence, Rhode Island. I'm not sure how the two met with him being a southerner.

In 1863, she left Rhode Island and journeyed to Confederate Point (had been Federal Point) to join her husband at the fort. This, of course, would have meant going through enemy lines at some point, another interesting story if it were known.

The colonel had a small cottage built near Craig's Landing, north of the fort where Daisy and the couple's two oldest children lived.

The Attacks Next. --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Confederate Ram in a Kids' Playground

Friday, we went to Seven Springs, North Carolina, for breakfast and to take a drive around the historic little (pop. 85) town. The Civil War Battle of White Hall (or Whitehall) took place there in 1862 (part of Foster's Raid against the important Goldsborough Railroad Bridge (Wilmington and Weldon Railroad).

The Confederates were building the "Cornfield Ram," the CSS Neuse across the river from town and it was partially damaged by Union artillery fire, but later repaired.

We found it very interesting that they had a scale model of the CSS Neuse in the town's playground, something you would never expect to see.

For more information, see my travel blog at

There is also a full scale replica of the CSS Neuse in Kinston, where the ship was scuttled at the end of the war to prevent it falling into Union hands.

When You see a Ram Where You Wouldn't Expect to See One. --Old B-Runner

Monday, March 28, 2011

Confederate Defense North Carolina Coast August 1861

I came across this in a Google chronology page.

AUGUST 1961Construction on the batteries at New Inlet (which became Fort Fisher) slowed during the summer months as Confederates concentrated on the establishment of Camp Wyatt, a camp of muster and instruction one and a half miles north of Battery Bolles, near present-day Kure Beach. Recruits were sworn in and trained here and it was named after Henry Wyatt, the first Confederate soldier killed in action in the war.

During the same month, Seawell (or Sewall) L. Fremont, colonel of the 1st Corps of NC Volunteer Artillery and Engineers and a Wilmingtonian, was put in charge of coast defense from New River, NC south to the South Carolina line.

This would include the New Inlet defenses.

Never Heard of Him. --Old B-Runner

Saturday, March 26, 2011

While on the Subject of the SCV

Here in Goldsboro, North Carolina, the local Sons of Confederate Veterans camp is the Goldsboro Rifles 760.

They are named after Co. A of the 27th North Carolina Infantry which was called the Goldsboro Rifles who came from the Wayne County area.

A member will be giving a talk on the group later in May at the Wayne County Historical Museum.

The Rifles continued to exist until World War I as one of my great uncles was a lieutenant in it.

After the war, the Rifles were instrumental in having the Confederate monument erected in the city's Willowdale Cemetery.

More Heritage Defenders. --Old B-R'er

Have a Peanut: SCV Camp 1517 Fremont, NC

Today, my brother and I drove over to Fremont, NC, for the town's annual Daffodil Festival. Our main intention was to see the Embers, a famous beach music band who have been performing since the late 1950s.

I was happy to find a booth set up by the local Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) group, the Dr. B.T. Person Camp 1517. I introduced myself as being from the Camp Douglas SCV Camp from Chicago, Illinois, and had a nice talk.

Besides spreading the heritage, they were also selling North Carolina-grown bags of in-shell peanuts from Dublin as a fund raiser, so I bought one.

Benjamin Thomas Person and his brother John B. Person both served in the Confederate Army and rose from the rank of privates to lieutenant.

Benjamin Person enlisted in Co. F of the 18th NC and was mustered in as a private in Wilmington where he was described as being 6'1", age 27 and was a doctor in Fremont, NC. He became a 1st Lt. after the Battle of Gettysburg.

The camp has 40 members.

Compatriots in the Heritage Wars. --Old B-Runners

Friday, March 25, 2011

Now That's Some Civil War Sesquicentennial Stuff

The Wayne County Museum in Goldsboro, North Carolina definitely is putting on the commemoration show for the war.

Opening on the 150th anniversary of the firing on Fort Sumter, April 12th, is a new exhibit "Civil War: Troops and Hoops." It runs to August 1st. Maybe I'll get to see it this summer.

Then, May 22nd, there will be two Cemetery Walks of the Old Section at Willowdale. This is where numerous Confederate veterans are buried, a Confederate Mound where several hundred soldiers who died at the nearby Battle of Bentonville as well as the grave of the Confederate from Texas.

Then, there will be three speakers who will talk about various aspects of the Civil War.

MAY 3RD: John Peacock "James Longstreet: Scalawag or Scapegoat."

MAY 24TH: Stacy Jones "Goldsboro Rifles." This was the company of Confederates raised from the area.

MAY 31ST: Benny Pearce "Battle of Averasboro"

JUNE 7TH: Chris Fonvielle and John McAden "Lewis Froelich: Arms Maker to the Confederacy." I know Chris Fonvielle, having met him at the old Blockade-Runner Museum in Carolina Beach. He is now a professor of history at UNC-Wilmington and has written several books on Wilmington and the war.

Civil War and More. --Old B-Runner

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Running the Blockade: Kid Rock-- Hunley

Some New News About an Old War.

1. KID ROCK-- I've been following with some interest, the reaction of the NAACP in regards to their Detroit chapter's decision to honor entertainer Kid Rock at their annual Fight for Freedom Fundraiser this May 1st.

Other groups of the NAACP are threatening to boycott and are really against the Detroit group's decision.

And why is this? Because Kid Rock sometimes has a big Confederate flag onstage when he performs and we all know that is like the red flag in front of a bull. Because of the flag, Kid Rock is a Racist according to them. Of course, calling Rock a racist because of a flag is kind of racist as well. After all, Kid Rock is white. But, you'd never get them to admit to it.

Now, if anything, the NAACP should be upset with Rock because of his profuse usage of cuss words. But, wait a minute, rap music isn't excactly church-worthy either.

It is time for the NAACP to stop their campaign against that flag.

2. HUNLEY-- This summer, plans are in the works to move the Confederate submarine Hunley to an upright position, the first time it will be at that angle since it sank.

It was raised at the same angle, 45 degrees, that it was found.

It is hoped that the upright position will better help researchers find out why the vessel sank.

Just Some News. --Old B-Runner

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

New Bern, NC, Gets Sword Back

March 23rd WUNC Radio, 91.5 FM.

A sword that was carried at the Civil War Battle of New Bern in North Carolina, has been returned to the city (the article didn't say where. It belonged to a Union soldier, but not just any Union soldier. This one was female who evidently did not hide her sex as did some others. She served alongside her husband.

Her name was Kady Brownell who helped save her Rhode Island regiment from friendly fire by climbing to high ground where, using her unit's flag, she waved off other Union forces preparing to attack her group.

The sword was hers as photographs of her with it were taken as well as her name on the scabbard.

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

Monday, March 21, 2011

Southport Times Gets Fort Fisher Commemorative Medal

The Southport (NC) Times, near Wilmington, announced that they had added a Fort Fisher Commemorative Medal to their collection of local history artifacts.

My father bought me one back when they were issued as I was such a Civil War buff, particularly anything having to do with Fort Fisher. I still have it somewhere in the house, but am not sure exactly where at this time.

It was commissioned in 1965 by the Committee of the New Hanover County Confederate Centennial Commission and minted by Capitol Medals in High Point, North Carolina.

Proceeds of its sale were to help fund the Fort Fisher Visitors Center that opened the same year. Also, money raised went to future maintenance and restoration projects.

The medals were struck with.999 fine solver and weighed one ounce.

This one was acquired by the Times on February 1st. They didn't say how much it cost. Too bad, I would like to get an idea how much mine is worth, but I would never sell it, being a gift from my deceased father.

Congratulations to the Southport Times Acquisition and Their Continued Interest in Local History. --Old B-Runner

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Confederate Offspring Are "Last Link" to History-- Part 2

Isham Booth didn't talk much about the war. He was too busy working as a sharecropper. He married, and father children into the early decades of the 1900s. Times were tough in the rural south back then. Young women married old Confederates for their pensions. His mother, a widower, was 38 when H.V., the 12th and final child, was born while Isham was 72.

In 1927, Isham cleared up the desertion charge and began receiving a $25 a month Confederate pension. After he died, his wife Miranda received it until she died in 1968, by then it was up to $110.

When he died in 1934 at age 86, his son H.V. was 15.

Even to the end, his father would pick 100 pounds of cotton a day and didn't believe in schooling. "He believed in working. He said a poor man didn't need anything but a burial plot."

Isham Booth definitely was not one of those slave-owning aristocrats and probably more typical of Confederate soldiers.

Growing Up Poor in the South. --Old B-R'er

Confederate Offspring Are "Last Link" to History-- Part 1

From Dec. 13, 2010 Atlanta Journal-Constitution by Bill Torpy.

H.V. Booth turned 92 in December and tells people his father fought for the Confederacy. This always brings quizzical looks.

His father, Isham Johnson Booth was from north of Atlanta and served as a guard at Andersonville. Born in 1843, he joined the Army at age 16, mustering in near Elberton, Ga.. While there, "They'd say. 'We need 400 men to send to Virginia. We need 100 men in Alabama.'"

Isham was assigned to duty at Camp Sumter, better known as Andersonville where 13,000 Union soldiers died. Guards and livestock used the stream above where it entered the stockade.

Unions prisoners caught the fever as did Isham. He was put on a mule, and sent back home to recover, which he reached four days later.

After recovering, he was on his way back to duty when he heard the war was over. Isham simply turned around and went home. He didn't know that he was listed as a deserter until years later.

Young Confederates, Even Younger Wives. --Old B-Runner

Price's Creek Lighthouse

From the Southport (NC) Times article by Lisa Arnold.

This lighthouse was used during the Civil War, primarily for blockade-runners using the Cape Fear River.

Price's Creek Front Light, which still stands at the river's edge by the Fort Fisher-Southport Ferry, was 20 feet tall with three foot thick walls constructed entirely of bricks brought over from England.

The Rear Light was a wooden structure atop the lighthouse keeper's house farther away from the river. Line up the two lights and you didn't have to worry about running aground.

During the Civil War,  it was a signal station for communications between Fort Fisher and Fort Caswell and run by the Confederate States Signal Corps. It also served military and civilian blockade-runners.

The wooden tower atop the house had extensive damage during the war and eventually disintegrated over time. Bricks from the house were later used to construct other homes in the Southport area.

When the Confederates lost control of the Cape Fear River in 1865, they destroyed seven of eight lighthouse structures in hopes of impeding the Union naval advance up the river. Price's Creek Front Light was the only one to survive. but it had been heavily damaged and was never used again.

Today, the Price's Creek Light is on private property on land owned by Archer Daniels Midland Corporation. Preservation groups have tried to get them to restore it, but those efforts have been refused.

A Little-Known Lighthouse. --Old B-Runner

Friday, March 18, 2011

CSS Peedee Found-- Part 6

In 1954 most of what remained was destroyed after a group of local businessmen spotted the wreckage, brought in a bulldozer to make a road to the riverside and attempted to drag it ashore to display it as a roadside attraction to be called Confederateland.

The attempt broke the wreck into pieces, but the men grabbed what they could. A thirty foot section of the stern, the boiler, two engines and the propeller shafts were put on display and a 25 cent ticket was charged to see it.

No efforts at preservation were made and the ship disintegrated rapidly.

The boiler ended up on display at the I-95 attraction South of the Border, but eventually disappeared (probably sold for scrap).

But, a 12-year-old boy, Michael Hartley, saw the Peedee being recovered from the river in 1954 and became an archaeologist himself. He drew a sketch of the place in the river where the ship was and that was used to locate the remains.

Archaeologists are still looking for the location of the Mars Bluff Naval Yard which had at least 12 structures, a forge, slipways and a dry dock. An expedition in the summer of 2009 by East Carolina University students failed to locate it, but more efforts will be made.

The Story of a Lost Ship and Navy Yard. --Old B-R'er

CSS Peedee Found-- Part 5

Continued from Jan. 5, 2011. From the Dec. 28, 2010 Columbia (SC) Free Times.

The warship did not have an illustrious career, but is very indicative of Confederate attempts to offset Union Naval superiority during the war.

The ship was launched at one of the Confederacy's inland naval yards (so as to be out of reach of the Union Navy), Mars Bluff, in Jan. 1865. The 150 foot long CSS Peedee was in just one skirmish, about 40 miles upstream near Cheraw, SC, when it provided cover for General Hardee's troops, retreating in front of Sherman's army.

It returned to Mars Bluff and was torched and sunk by its crew to prevent it falling into enemy hands. It is possible that there was an explosion as well.

Over the course of the last 146 years, the level of Peedee River has risen and fallen many times. During low water, the wreck of the Peedee reappeared several times.

A US Navy ensign spotted the wreck shortly after the Civil War.

On 1906, the US Army Corps of Engineers pushed the wreckage onto a sandbar while dredging the river.

In the 1920s, the Sons of Confederate Veterans managed to recover the propellers and place them in the county museum.

More to Come. --Old B-Runner

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Fort Fisher Looking for Park Day Volunteers

From the March 9th Wilmington (NC) Star-News.

From 8:30 to 1 pm Saturday, April 2nd, volunteers are needed to help beautify and preserve Fort Fisher.

Park Day is in its 15th year and created by the Civil War Preservation Trust organization. Costs are funded by History (former History Channel) and endorsed by the Take Pride in America, a division of the US Department of the Interior. (Park Day also takes place at Civil War sites all over the country.)

Volunteers, age 10 and up participate and it is appropriate for scouts, service clubs and church groups.

At noon, volunteers will be treated to lunch provided by the Friends of Fort Fisher, a non-profit group.

Maybe they will get Britt's Donuts!!!

Let's Go Clean Up That Fort. --Old B-Runner

Union Balloons-- Part 2

The last two balloons were 60 feet tall and made of silk with a heavy linen cord casing covered with layers of shellac to keep gas from escaping.

No balloon was ever hit by Confederate fire because they were kept far behind lines, out of range.

At Budd's ferry in Maryland, balloons were launched from a barge in the middle of the river, hence, the first aircraft carrier.

Balloon pilots received $10 a day, the same as a colonel got.

However, in April 1863, the use of balloons stopped.

In 1891, Confederate General E.P. Alexander related, "I have never understood why the enemy abandoned the use of military balloons early in 1863, after using then extensively up to that time. Even if the observer never saw anything they would have been worth all they cost for the annoyance and delays they caused us in trying to keep our movements out of their sight."

Thaddeas Lowe made and lost several fortunes before dying penniless in 1913.

A Little-Known Aspect of the War. --Old B-R'er

Union Balloons-- Part 1

From the October 9, 2010, Saratogian (Saratoga, NY) "Fight or flight...or both: Balloon Corps gives Union upper hand during the Civil War" by Paul Post.

Thaddeus Lowe of New Hampshire was tracking Confederate movements from up to a half-mile in the sky. In May 1862, he saved the day for Union forces at Fair Oaks, Virginia.

Back on June 16, 1861, he had demonstrated balloon capability to Lincoln on the White House grounds when he rose to 600 feet where he could see for a 50 mile diameter.

The baskets of the balloons had a telegraph key for communicating with the ground. Lincoln was impressed and sent a letter to General Winfield Scott ordering five balloons: Union, Enterprise, Constitution, Intrepid and Washington.

More to Come. --Old B-Runner

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Confederate Treasury-- Part 2

In 1861, Christopher Memminger proposed a direct tax on mostly real estate and slaves as he wanted slave owners to bear the brunt of the war's costs. Both were to be taxed at one-half of a percent.

This proved to be a fiasco and sentiment against it ran high. Resistance was especially high by the states. After all, the Confederacy had been formed under the premise of state sovereignty and here was the central government asserting itself. The opposition was there even with the risk of losing the war.

Since the tax didn't work, and with the ever-more crippling Union blockade hindering sale of the Confederacy's "White Gold," cotton, the fledgling country began to rely more and more on printing money.

As the quantity of currency increased, its valued declined rapidly. "Its inevitable depreciation greatly undermined the Southern war effort."

Stuff I Didn't Know. --Old B-R'er

Nine, Count Them, Nine Union Generals from Galena

From the Fall/Winter 2010-11 Galenian.

And since the 1960s, a group called The Galena Generals have portrayed them. You can find them at various festivals, events and parades.

They are:

Bob Buman-- Gen. U.S. Grant
Jake Heller-- Gen. John O. Duer
Aaron Dean-- Gen. Jaspar Maltby

Wayne Fellenzer-- Gen. William Rowley
Gary Jobgen-- Gen. John A. Rawlins
Cory Ritterbusch-- Gen. John C. Smith
Kirk Foecking-- Gen. John E. Smith

The article didn't say who portrayed the other two Union generals: Augustus L. Chetlain and Ely S. Parker.

Too many generals in One Place. --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Confederate Treasury-- Part 1

A very interesting article from the March 14th New York Times Opinion page "Money for Nothing" by Ben Tarnoff.

This is a subject I knew little about other than so much Confederate money was printed during the war that it essentially became worthless. Mr. Tarnoff went into some detail on Southern finances.

On March 9, 1861, the Confederate Treasury was given authority to print $1 million in notes. From this small amount, huge increases were made. With the Civil War still a little over a month away, a Northern firm, the National Bank Note Company of New York, was contracted to print it. That is definitely an interesting arrangement.

President Jefferson Davis appointed Christopher Gustavus Memminger of South Carolina to run the treasury. He didn't have much to work with. Gold bullion had been obtained when the federal mints at New Orleans and Dahlonega, Georgia, were seized, but beyond that, there wasn't much to back up currency.

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

US Grant in Galena, Illinois

From the Fall/Winter 2010-11 Galenian.

The small town of Galena, Illinois, is a real step back into history, essentially looking the same as it did when US Grant walked its streets. It is truly a town that history forgot and set amid some of the prettiest terrain you'll ever see. I say that the drive on US-20 (the US Grant Memorial Highway in Illinois) from Elizabeth, through Galena and to Dubuque, Iowa, is one of the prettiest in the US.

Some people think Union General US Grant was born in Galena because Grant's Home is there and that he spent a lot of time in town. But this isn't true.

Grant was born in Ohio, just east of Cincinnati off US-52 and didn't move to Galena until 1860. He was married at the time to Julia and had four children. He got a job at a leather goods store which was owned by a relative.

They weren't in Galena long as war broke out and President Lincoln issued a call to suppress the the Confederacy and West Point graduate Grant offered his services and left. Wife Julia and family stayed in galena until November 1861 when they joined him at his headquarters in Cairo, Illinois.

When he left, the family stayed with her father in St. Louis, or his father in Covington, Kentucky.

After Grant's victory in the Civil war, the grateful citizens of Galena gave the Grants their own Italianate home on the east side of town. But, they didn't stay there long as his next home was in the White House.

Today, the home in Galena is a State Historic Site with that infamous statue of Julia Dent Grant or Mrs. Butterworth standing on the grounds.

So, that's the Grant of It. --Old B-Runner

Monday, March 14, 2011

Unexploded Shell Found at Fort McAllister-- Part 3

Just Some More Facts.

** November 1863, the Patapsco tested a large obstruction-clearing device designed by Monitor inventor John Ericsson. (Either to remove Confederate river and coastal obstructions or mines.)

** In January 1864, boat crews from the Patapsco took part in a reconnaissance of the Wilmington River in Georgia.

** Eight-inch Parrot rifled guns could fire a shell 3-5 miles.

** Parrot shells were made of cast iron and manufactured at West Point Foundry in Cold Springs, New York.

** The shell was called a 200-pounder, but actually weighed just 145 pounds because it is empty except powder. It was not a bolt or solid shot.

** This is the 4th unexploded shell found at Fort McAllister, but the first found in the last 30 years.

** Monitors were actually more designed for Naval battle than for firing at shore installations.

So That's the Facts. --Old B-Runner

Unexploded Shell Found at Fort McAllister-- Part 2

Just the Facts, Sir!!

** The USS Patapsco was a 1335-ton Passaic-class monitor built in Wilmington, Delaware, commissioned Jan. 1863, and assigned to the South Atlantic Blockading Fleet.

** 241-feet long, 46 feet wide, 6 knots, 105 officers and men, single turret, Armament: 1 X 15-inch smoothbore, 1 X 8-inch Parrott rifle (the found-shell would have been fired by this one).

** It bombarded Fort McAlister March 3, 1863.

** In April 1863, hit 47 times by Confederate shells in an attack on Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor.

** January 14, 1865, struck a Confederate mine in Charleston Harbor and sank in less than a minute with 62 deaths.

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

Unexploded Shell Found at Fort McAllister-- Part 1

From the January 20, 2011 Savannah (Ga) Morning News.

An unexploded Union Naval shell was recently found at Fort McAllister, Georgia. It was from the USS Patapsco, a monitor, lying 1,160 yards from the fort on the Ogeechee River in March 1863.

How and where the shell turned up is a bit of a mystery though, but that it was still "live" and capable of exploding is for sure.

A man using a metal detector claims that he found it a mile from the fort and decided to turn it in. You have to winder how a ship could miss its target by a mile. It is also possible that the guy was illegally metal detecting on fort property (which to me seems more likely). It was live because there were no holes in it and the fuse was intact.

The 200-pound Parrott (a cannon) rifled shot was deactivated by drilling two holes in it (I'm sure I wouldn't want to do that), flushing the powder out with water and removing the fuse.

If it was indeed found a mile from the fort, one historian thinks that maybe the Patapsco was just getting rid of excess ammunition (although I have to question whether ships did that). Also, the Parrot guns could be notoriously erratic when they fired (which seems more logical).

The shell will be restored and placed in the fort's collection for viewing.

A Piece of History. --Old B-Runner

Friday, March 11, 2011

Fort Caswell

The March 1, 2011, Wilmington (NC) Star-News ran a looking back column and went through local newspapers from 100 years ago.

One from Feb. 28, 1911, mentioned a group of Fort Caswell-bound soldiers arriving in Wilmington by train and awaiting a steamer to take them down the Cape Fear River to their base.

O was unaware that Fort Caswell was still in use after the Civil War when a large portion of it was blown up.

I did a little research and found out that it was completely abandoned from the end of the war until April 1896 when Americans began to fear from foreign attack and money was appropriated to repair the fort and update it.

By 1916, it was again a military outpost (which would explain the soldiers going to it). It was the headquarters of the Cape Fear Coastal defense and manned by three companies of Coast Artillery. Mortars, rapid and direct-fire guns and mine defense were used for defense.

So, That Explains It. --Old B-Runner

Add This to Your Civil War Naval Collection

I came across the Union Drummer Boy site on the internet. They specialize in authentic Civil War artifacts that they guarantee to be authentic, but they definitely aren't cheap.

One of their offerings was a picture of seven Union naval heroes and judging from the yellowing, very old. It featured seven officers, six surrounding Farragut who was in the center.

The others were Foote, Porter, Worden, Dahlgren, DuPont and Stringham.

The Union Drummer Boy wanted $85 for it.

I'm Not Buying It. Hey, Wrong Side (But I Wouldn't Pay That Much Even If It Was a Confederate Group. --Old B-R'er

Admiral David Dixon Porter Wins!

The last several months, the Civil War Navy Sesquicentennial Blog has been running a Who Was the Greatest Naval Officer During the Civil War contest with weekly voting.

Both Union and Confederate officers were included and this was done in a playoff style.

In order to win, Porter had to defeat the following officers in direct competition:

John Worden
David G. Farragut (a big surprise here)
William Goldsborough
John Dahlgren
William Cushing (in the Union championship_

And finally Confederate Raphael Semmes for the championship.

Hey, he was at Fort Fisher which always gets my vote, but I have to admit I vote for his last two opponents.

Congratulations David D.!! --Old B-Runner

Thursday, March 10, 2011

USS Tecumseh

The Tecumseh was a monitor, 2,100 tons, 225 feet long, 43 feet wide, had a crew of 100 officers and men and mounted 2 X 15-inch Dahlgren guns. It was commissioned April 19, 1864 and sank August 5, 1864.

Om the Battle of Mobile Bay, it was the lead monitor and was turning to meet the oncoming ironclad CSS Tennessee, when, at 7:40 am, it struck a Confederate torpedo (mine) and began to heel rapidly. Men scrambled to get off. Commander Tunis A.M. Craven arrived at the foot of the ladder leading to the main deck the same time as the pilot John Collins, stepped back and said "After you, pilot." Collins hurried up the ladder, but the act of courtesy cost Craven his life.

The Tecumseh sank in 25 seconds. As she rolled over, two shells from Fort Morgan struck her unarmored side.

Along with Commander Cravin, 92 others died.

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

That Problem in Charleston Harbor-- Part 4-- Major Robert Anderson

As March turned to April, rations in Fort Sumter began running low and Lincoln decided to resupply it. A message was sent to Anderson on April 4th and at the same time, Confederate authorities were informed of the intention.

On April 10th, Confederate Secretary of War Leroy P. Walker informed Beauregard that if there was an attempt to resupply Sumter by force, he was to demand its evacuation and if that was refused to proceed as he saw fit.


Was born in the slaveholding state of Kentucky on June 5, 1805 and graduated from the US Military Academy in 1825. During the Black Hawk War of 1832, he served as colonel of the Illinois militia and mustered one A. Lincoln into and out of military service.

He participated in the Second Seminole War and was badly wounded in the Mexican War

As tensions continued to mount and the Buchanan administration was inspecting situations at military installations, it was decided to send Anderson to Fort Moultrie to replace its elderly commander, Col. John L. Gardner.

Anderson was regarded as a very competent and discreet officer and since he was a Southerner it would be seen diplomatically as nonhostile. He was staunchly pro-Union, but had no quarrel with slavery.

And It Gets More Intense. --Old B-Runner

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

USS Farragut Honor Civil War Dead on the USS Tecumseh

From the March 4th Mobile (Al) Press-Register.

The event was greeted with rough weather, lots of wind and 6-8 foot seas, but US Naval re-enactors Paul Leonard and Judson Locke rode aboard a launch out to the guided missile destroyer USS Farragut in the Gulf of Mexico off Dixey Bar, to lay a wreath over the wreck of the monitor USS Tecumseh which hit a torpedo (mine) at the Battle of Mobile Bay August 5, 1864. It sank quickly, taking 93 men to their deaths. They still remain in the ship.

The USS Farragut, named for the Union Admiral David Glasgow Farragut, who commanded at the battle, was on its way to dock at Mobile for the Mardi Gras celebration (Mobile is where the first Mardi Gras in the US was held).

This is the fifth ship in the US Navy to carry the name Farragut. The first four were commissioned in 1898, 1920, 1944 and 1965.

The 1898 ship was a torpedo boat. All the others were destroyers. The newest USS Farragut was commissioned in 2006.

For the ceremony, the crew manned the starboard side facing Fort Morgan while the two re-enactors three the wreath in the water off the aft deck. The Farragut then sounded a long blast on the whistle and a lone cannon boomed out from the fort.

David G. Farragut was famous for his quote "Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead" at the Battle of Mobile Bay. The Union fleet slowed down when it came to the Confederate mine field and Farragut ordered it to steam ahead regardless. The USS Tecumseh then hit a torpedo (mine) and sank. The battle ended with a Union victory.

The new USS Farragut calls itself "Full Speed" and is 590 feet long, 55 feet wide and has a crew of 265.

An Honor Well-Deserved. --Old B-R'er

That Problem in Charleston Harbor-- Part 3

Part 2 was way back January 12th. Where does time fly?

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

The last we looked at the situation in Charleston Harbor, Major Anderson had decided Fort Sumter was easier to defend and transferred his garrison from Fort Moultrie out to it. South Carolina troops began building fortifications around the harbor and occupied Fort Moultrie and Castle Pinckney.

Some works were primarily vested with Fort Sumter and others to command the shipping channels. Fort Johnson, on James Island, was even occupied though it had long been abandoned.

President James Buchanan tried to resupply and reinforce Sumter by sending the civilian steamer Star of the West, but it was turned back from shots from a battery manned by Citadel Military Institute cadets.

That same day, Mississippi seceded and was soon followed by Florida, Alabama. Georgia, Louisiana and Texas. On Feb. 4, 1861, these states met in Montgomery, Alabama, and formed the Confederate States of America.

On March 3rd, the day before Lincoln was to be sworn in as president, Confederate Brigadier General P.G.T. Beauregard was placed in command at Charleston Harbor.

More to Come. --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

While On the Subject of Fort Sumter

Which will be getting more and more in the news as April 12th approaches, here is an interesting from Phil Gast's Civil War Picket Blog at

"First cannonball fired at Fort Sumter sits outside Georgia courthouse. Or does it?"

At 4:30 am, April 12, 1861, 66-year-old firebrand Edmund Ruffin of Virginia fired what is considered to be the first shot of the war at Fort Sumter.

Captain G.B. Cuthbert of the Palmetto Guards wrote, "The first shell from Columbiad No. 1, fired by the venerable Ruffin, burst directly upon the parapet of the southwest angle of the fort." Sumter surrendered 34 hours later.

P.W. Alexander, a correspondent from Thomaston, Georgia was there and went out to the fort right away with the intention of finding Ruffin's shot. He reported back to the Thomaston Times, "The big 10-inch ball fell within Fort Sumter without doing any damage." He recovered it and sent it to his friend B.B. White.

Around 800,000 visitors a year go out to Fort Sumter. Far fewer than that go to the Upson County Courthouse in Georgia in Thomaston, some 300 miles from Charleston and 60 miles south of Atlanta to see this supposed trophy of Sumter.

However, the captain reported that it exploded. If it did, and being the first shot, many were watching it, it would be hard to find the shell in tact. Regardless, however, the shot was fired in that opening battle of the war.

Very Interesting. --Old B-R'er

Fort Sumter to Go to Solar Power?

From the Nov. 10, 2010, Charleston (SC) Post and Courier "Fort Sumter may switch to solar, hydrogen fuel cell power supply" by Warren Wise.

1861: candles and oil lamps used for lighting.

1899: produced own power by an electric plant at he fort.

1960: South Carolina Electric and Gas Co. started providing power with underground power lines from James Island.

Now, the National Park Service wants the fort to be self-sufficient again with solar panels and a hydrogen fuel cell backing system.

It will cost $1.4 million and will be federal and state funded and is estimated that it will save the NPS about $10,000 a year.

Go Solar, Old Fort, Go Solar. --Old B-Runner

Monday, March 7, 2011

Crystal Lake's Union Soldier Project in the Home Stretch

From the Nov. 11, 2010, Northwest Herald.

Always great to get some Civil War stuff here in the northwest suburbs of Chicago, this time in McHenry County.

Five years have been spent restoring the Union soldier monument so it can return to Crystal Lake's Union Cemetery.

The Crystal Lake Historical Society has now raised enough money to complete the project and to dedicate it September 11, 2011, the date it was originally dedicated. A $9,000 donation was given by the Crystal Lake American Legion Post 171 and now the art conservator can be paid to complete the project.

Andrzej Dajnowski, of Forest Park, Illinois has been working on the soldier, made entirely of zinc in his studio. He has already completed the base which has the names of four Civil War battles and the names of 379 area veterans etched into it.

The eighteen foot monument was placed in Union Cemetery in 1889 and taken down five years ago for restoration. So far, $60,000 has been raised.

The cemetery is located at 8012 Ridgefield Road.

Local Civil War History. --Old B-R'er

Lincoln's Election Set Civil War in Motion

You can call it that straw that broke the camel's back or the final straw, but when Abraham Lincoln won the presidential election back on November 6, 1860, many of the Southern states felt they had no other recourse but to secede from the Union and start their own country.

Lincoln won primarily because the Democratic votes were split three ways, with John C. Breckinridge taking the South, John Bell the border states and Lincoln the northern states.


South Carolina Dec. 20, 1860
Mississippi Jan. 9, 1861
Florida Jan. 10, 1861
Alabama Jan. 11, 1861
Georgia Jan. 19, 1861
Louisiana Jan. 26, 1861
Texas Feb. 1, 1861
Virginia April 17, 1861
Arkansas May 6, 1861
North Carolina May 20, 1861
Tennessee June 8, 1861

And So It Started. --Old B-Runner

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Wilmington's George Davis Statue

From the March 1st Wilmington (NC) Star News Looking Back column.

From the Feb, 28, 1911 Wilmington Star newspaper.

The heavy granite pedestal of the George Davis monument, to be erected at the corner of Third and Market streets, arrived yesterday. It weighed 20,000 pounds and came in three parts.

The statue itself is expected to arrive in the next few days.

Davis was a Wilmington native and served as attorney general of the Confederacy. After Lee's surrender, Davis surrendered to Union forces in Florida and became a prisoner of war until released in 1866. He then returned to Wilmington and had a law practice until his death in 1896 at age 75.

He is buried in Wilmington's Oakdale Cemetery and his statue still stands at the corner of Market and Third streets.

Can't Object to That. --Old B-R'er

Looking Back: 1911

From the March 1st Wilmington (NC) Star News Looking back Column where newspapers from 100 and 50 years ago are examined for news.

Death of a Fort Fisher Veteran

Feb. 28, 1911.

Henry Vines of Newberlin (NC) in Columbus County died at age 68. He was 24 when the war broke out and left his young wife to enlist in Co. G 36th North Carolina Infantry.

he was captured at the Second Battle of Fort Fisher and sent to Elmira Prison in New York where he, along with other Fort Fisher defenders suffered terrible hardships. There, he had both legs amputated at the knees for frostbite.

His family had not heard from him in months at the war's closing and had given him up for dead when fellow Fort Fisher veteran Edward Wells spotted him in Wilmington and he was reunited with his family in Newberlin (which is in the Delco area).

The area is now called New Berlin and is a short distance northwest of Wilmington.

One More Fisher Vet. --Old B-Runner

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Civil War Right Here in Lake County-- Part 2

She continued that "it was mostly the North that had the industrial capacity to advance technology, so a lot of technological advances...really enabled the Union to defeat the south."

Examples on display will include the repeating rifle. Ironclad ships revolutionized the Navy and battle tactics. The turret of the USS Monitor, which served as the model for warships up until the end of World War II, will also be shown. Plus, there will be a life-sized replica of the Confederate submarine Hunley which will allow visitors to climb on board and experience it for themselves.

You can also create your own circuit to learn about the telegraph which revolutionized communications. Three other items are a set of binoculars, and 1861 Lake County map and a Navy uniform.

Sounds like an interesting thing to see.

It Was 150 years Ago. --Old B-Runner

The Civil War Right Here in Illinois-- Part 1

From the Feb. 3-9th Lake County (Il.) Journal.

And this is something close to me that I might just go to, gas prices willing.

The Lake County Discovery Museum in Wauconda, Illinois, has opened a new exhibit in honor of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.

It is called "Civil War High Tech" and as could be expected, it explores the technology and revolutionary ideas that developed and set the corner stone for today's society.

"In its day, the advances that came out of the Civil War were many, not just associated with weaponry and firearms...[like] photography, but a lot of things that we understand as just part of life today developed out of different weapons and types of communication used in the war," Katherine Hamilton-Smith, director of cultural resources said.

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

Be a Tourist in Your Own Hometown

This Sunday, March 6th, folks in Wilmington, NC, will have the opportunity to see their city and area as tourists do. A large number of venues are available for them, some free or at reduced price.

We all know there are a lot of Civil War sites, but some others that might be of interest are the FORT FISHER STATE RECREATION AREA which has a 4WD beach and 4 miles of undeveloped shoreline perfect for shelling.

A GHOST WALK (Hey, it's an old city and would have to have lots of ghosts.)

HANNAH BLOCK HISTORIC USO/COMMUNITY CENTER-- One of the few remaining USO building has been fully restored. It features an interesting World War II homefront museum. This Sunday, visitors can talk with World War II veterans as well as homefront workers.




Wilmington's Not Just the Civil War. --Old B-Runner

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


Yesterday, I was able to visit Jefferson Davis' final home at Beauvoir in Biloxi, Mississippi. Admission was $9 for the general public, unless you had AAA, were 65 or were a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans where you would save $1.50.

The Mississippi Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans deserves a big thanks for keeping this place going and especially after all the damage it sustained after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The place looks great.

The first time I saw the place was 1995, but I didn't go in. The second time was 2007 and it was still closed from Katrina.

You can read more about it in my travel blog at

A Place Every True Confederate Should Visit.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

In Biloxi. Mississippi This Morning

And to those of you with a Confederate persuasion, that means Beauvoir, and that means Home of Jefferson Davis, after the war.

The last time we were here, a little over a year after Hurricane Katrina had devastated the Mississippi Coast, the home was closed. The exterior looked to be in good shape, but interior still damaged.

It was closed when we got to town last night, but we drove by it and it is impressive with the white fence and strategically placed lights shining on it.

The home dates to 1852, and is administered by the Mississippi Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans who have done a great job on it.

Last Home of the President. --Old B-R'er

Last US World War I Veteran Dies

Sorry to have to report that the last surviving US veteran of World War I, Frank Buckles of West Virginia, died February 27th at age 110.

He is the last man standing of more than 4.7 million who joined US forces and as such had been active in recent years in trying to get a World War I memorial in Washington, DC.

Two other veterans of Britain from the war still survive, one living in Australia and one in England. I had a great uncle as well as both grandfathers who were in World War I.

It was back in the 1950s that the last Civil War veterans died although there are still a few wives of veterans and real sons and daughters still living.

I have been covering Mr. Buckles quite a bit in my history blog at Just check out the labels.

The Closing of a Great Generation. --Old B-Runner