The Battle of Fort Fisher, N.C.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Confederate Sub Upright for First Time Since 1864

Scientists in North Charleston, SC, are hoping that the newly revealed "hidden side" of the Confederate submarine Hunley will give clues as to its sinking and deaths of its eight crew members.

So far, there have been no immediate things that stick out as to the answer, but there are "tantalizing clues" according to researchers. They already knew that there were large hull breaches on the starboard side that had remained out of view ever after the sub's raising.

Even stranger, the areas around the breaches was smooth where the sediments that had hardened all over the rest of the hull had been blasted away. Scientists are not sure if the breaches are man-made, caused by an explosion or caused by nature.

The sediment might have been scoured away by water and tides.

In any event, the newly upright Hunley now looks more like the stealth weapon that it was.

The next step will take place when the sub is lowered onto its keel blocks and in another month, the truss and slings will be removed, giving an even better view of the ship.

There are many good videos of the rotation process on YouTube.

Looking Forward to Seeing the Ship. --Old B-Runner

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Hunley on a Slow Roll-- Part 2

Two lab workers began ratcheting down each sling, one at a time. In the first hour, the submarine rotated about 2 degrees. By early afternoon, more than a dozen workers were stationed along the strap controls and the Hunley began moving about 4 milliliters at a time.

Shortly after 4:30 pm, worked came to a stop after the Hunley had moved some 200 milliliters and the sub now didn't look quite as wide as it had before and, it looked smaller.

There were several comments in the article, with several wondering how much this effort had cost taxpayers. One reply said that all money for the project had come from the Clemson University Restoration Institute, the South Carolina Hunley Commission and the Naval Historical Center.

Saving a Ship, One Millileter at a Time. --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Hunley on a Slow Roll-- Part 1

Sure is a lot of news about the rotating of the Confederate submarine Hunley to an upright position. From the Charleston (SC) Post and Courier by Brian Hicks.

Engineers and scientists at Warren Lasch Conservation Center in North Charleston are working at uprighting the Hunley, three milliliters at a time. The pace is plodding and progress barely visible, but they are avoiding hull stress by adjusting the 15 straps holding the vessel.

They are also keeping a laser sight running from stern to bow to detect any twisting of the hull.

One upright, conservators can begin removing the crusted sand and shells on this part of the hull they were formerly unable to approach.

Work began last Wednesday while the ship rested at a 45 degree angle (actually 49.3 degrees starboard).

More to Come. --Old B-Runner

Monday, June 27, 2011

Rotating the Hunley

From the June 23rd Houston Chronicle.

Rotating the Hunley, which began on the 22nd, is taking longer than expected. As of the publish date, the submarine had been rotated about 30 degrees and the job was expected to be finished by June 24th.

A laser monitoring system had to be readjusted on the 23rd when the vessel's bow began to dip, so workers had to level it out again.

Once completed and the sub is sitting upright, the entire hull will be visible for the first time and scientists hope the reason for the ship's sinking will become apparent.

Wednesday, the 22nd, the final progress was ten degrees.

Can't Be Too Careful with This Valuable Artifact. --Old B-Runner

Saturday, June 25, 2011

What Sank the Hunley?

From the June 22nd Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

There are three major theories as to why the Hunley sank on its way back from sinking the USS Housatonic.

1. It was hit by cannon fire from the Housatonic.

2. The crew was knocked out from the concussion of the blst of the torpedo that sank the Housatonic.

3. It was damaged by another Union vessel coming to the aid of the stricken Union ship.

Studies conducted since the ship was raised show that the crew died from lack of oxygen. They were all found at their stations when the ship was excavated. Death came quickly. There was no evidence of a rush to escape.

This Will Be Interesting. --Old B-R'er

Righting the Hunley

From the June 22nd Atlanta (Ga) Journal-Constitution.

On June 22nd, the Hunley was rotated by 10 degrees by mid-afternoon in a delicate effort expected to take two days. In all, the ship will be righted into an upright position a little over 45 degrees.

Experts are hoping that once the submarine is upright and the slings removed, that they will be able to find what sank the ship back in 1864. The exact reason has nor been found for the ten years the ship has been ashore.

Last week, the ship was raised three feet off the floor of the tank it rests in and 90,000 gallons of water drained. After that, half of the 15 slings were removed. The remaining ones now have sophisticated sensors to tell how much weight each is supporting.

Once upright, it will rest on keel blocks.

Several years of planning have gone into this effort.

Go, Guys!! --Old B-Runner

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Submarine Hunley Raised in Preparation for Rotation

From the June 15th Charleston ABC News 4 and Beaufort (SC) Gazette.

The Hunley was raised three in preparation for being set upright. When the submarine was found over ten years ago, it was resting at a 45 degree list to the starboard and that angle has been maintained in its research facility tank.

Crane operators hoisted the Hunley on the 15th, the first step in a two-week process to stand it upright. This is the first time the ship has been moved in nearly eleven years.

Cecil Douglas was handling the crane, the same person who put the Hunley in its tank August 8, 20000, just hours after it had been raised from the Atlantic Ocean.

Since then several pieces have been removed and the interior completely excavated, including the remains of the crew and over 2,000 artifacts.

It is hoped that the new perspective will show the cause for the sub's sinking, which is still not known for sure.

I'll be Keeping Updates on the Story. --Old B-R'er

Fifty Ways the Civil War Changed American Life-- Part 1

From theJune 2011 AARP Bulletin (Yea, I'm That Old.) by Betsy Towner.


No other conflict has so profoundly changed our society:

1. 13th Amendment: slavery banned

2. 14th Amendment: citizenship for all born in the US

3. 15th Amendment: Voting rights for all male citizens regardless of race

4. Women's rights gains momentum

5. 1862 Homestead Act passed

6.. Censorship of battlefield photos

7. Reconstruction laws passed

8. Ku Klux Klan organized

9. Jim Crow laws passed

10. Federal law trumps states' rights

Forty More to Come. gets You to Thinking. --Old B-Runner

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

New Hope for Charleston's Castle Pinckney-- Part 2

In 1964, the State Ports Authority gave the castle to the Shriners who returned it the following year. Then in 1969, it was given to the SCV Camp 1269, but they returned it in 1984.

The SPA has found that it is unable to use it for business purposes and spends money protecting the small island from erosion.

The fort is located at the end of a spit of land known as Shute's Folly. Most of the uninhabited island is owned by a family trust with a mailing address at South Battery in Charleston.

Castle Pinckney has been located on the eastern tip of the island since its completion in 1809 or 1810. It is one of three remaining round brick fortifications in the US; the other two being in New York City.

It was seized by the Confederacy without a fight and later served as a prison for Union soldiers. In the late 1800s, a lighthouse was built on it before being designated as a national monument in 1924. It was undesignated in the 1950s and sold to the SPA.

The SCV camp says, "Our ultimate aim is to preserve the facility in a respectful and dignified way, to provide a visible link to the past for future generations in the Charleston area."

I Hope to Visit the Site Some Day. --Old B-R'er

New Hope for Charleston's Castle Pinckney-- Part 1

From the June 22nd Charleston (SC) Post and Courier.

Back at the onset of secession and the war, the castle was one of the first fortifications in Charleston Harbor seized by Confederates. Now, Confederates have the fort again, only this time, it is their sons, as in Sons of Confederate Veterans who bought the historic fort last night for $10 from the South Carolina State Ports Authority (SPA).

The Fort Sumpter Camp #1269 of the Sons of Confederate Veterans is the new owner. Different people had been approaching tine SPA with ideas of potential uses and the SCV was afraid someone might turn it into a sports bar (although several people who commented on the bar idea thought that was a good one).

The camp has no immediate plans for Castle Pinckney, but have been exploring conservation options.

The SPA acquired the site in 1958 with thoughts of using it as a dump for dredging, but that didn't work out. Twice they attempted to give it away.

Save the Fort!! --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Wisconsin Regiments and the Iron Brigade

From the June 7th Wisconsin Newswire.

Many Wisconsin regiments were comprised primarily of a single ethnic group. Germans were the main group in the 9th, 26th and 45th regiments. Norwegians were in the 15th.

There were 115 volunteers from Beaver Dam, 26 from Juneau, 16 from Horicon and 57 from Waupon.

The 8th Wisconsin was called "The Eagle Regiment" because of its pet bald eagle named "Old Abe." When in battle, the bird would scream, spread his wings and then fly over the battlefield. Confederates called him the Yankee Buzzard and tried to kill or capture him, but never succeeded.


The Iron Brigade was one of the most famous units in the war. US-12, running from Michigan out to Washington state, is called the Iron Brigade Memorial Highway.

Organized in 1861, it consisted of the 2nd, 5th, 6th Wisconsin regiments and the 19th Indiana.

General John Gibbon trained the unit extensively and it earned its famous nickname at the Battle of South Mountain, Maryland. Federal troops were advancing along the National Road, forcing Confederate troops back into the gap. General McClellan asked Gen. Hooker, "What troops are those fighting in the pike?"

Hooker replied, "General Gibbon's brigade of western men."

McClellan stated, "They must be made of iron!"

The name stuck.

The unit fought at 2nd Bull Run, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, the Wilderness, Spottsylvania and were at Appomattox. The unit suffered the most casualties of any brigade in the war at Gettysburg with 61% (1,153 out of 1,885).

Must Be a Badger Thing. --Old B-R'er

Mr. Lincoln's Opera Glasses-- Part 3

I have not yet come across any articles about what Lee's letter, the CSS Alabama's flag or Lincoln's opera glasses sold for. I would also still like to know more about the Alabama flag.

In 1979, the opera glasses were sold by a collector who had bought them from McCamly's descendants. The late publisher Malcolm Forbes bought them for $20,000. In 2002, they were sold again, for a record amount. In 2005, an ad appeared in the New York Times saying the person had bought them from the Forbes collection and offered them for $2.5 million.

Evidently, they didn't sell at that price. The identity of the seller is secret, but a 2008 Chicago paper said it was William Kaper, Jr.

For Some Reason, I Don't Think I Can Afford Them. --Old B-Runner

Monday, June 20, 2011

Mr. Lincoln's Opera Glasses-- Part 2

Continued from June 11th.

McCamly "picked them (the opera glasses) up and put them in his pocket. he stayed with the body until it was taken to the White House at which time...he returned to his quarters and...discovered he had the glasses."

In 1968, McCamly's great grandson was told by the National Park Service that the glasses fit nicely into an opera glass case that had been "picked up in the Lincoln box" which still has the black leather, red-satin-lined case in the NPS's Ford's Theatre Collection.

The former curator of the theatre's Lincoln artifacts, Gloria Swift, thinks the box belonged to Mary Todd, whose opera glasses weer also found in the box.

Many are skeptical of the McCamly story as doctors examined Lincoln in the theatre and doubt that the glasses would have still been on his person. However, the glasses have been tested in the collectors' market and found to be authentic. Sotheby's claims it is as close to authentic as you can get.

More to Come. --Old B-Runner

Saturday, June 18, 2011

"Storms of Shot and Shell" at Fort Fisher

This past Saturday, June 11th, the monthly (during the summer) Second Saturday program was held at Fort Fisher (and other historic state sites across North Carolina). This is where history meets cultural aspects of the era.

This month's show at Fort Fisher was called "Storms of Shot and Shell."

For the event, a full-sized Civil War battery of six field pieces were drawn up along the airstrip behind the visitors center and lots of guns were fired for effect. The sound and force of cannons being fired needs to be experienced.

In addition, noted Cape Fear River and Fort Fisher expert Chris E, Fonvielle was on hand debuting his new book on Timothy O'Sullivan's photographs of the fort taken shorty after its capture. I'm looking forward to seeing the book. I remember Fonvielle showing me the photos back when he was curator at the old Blockade-Runner Museum in Carolina Beach many years ago.

A Loud Time Was Had By All. --Old B-R'er

Friends of Fort Fisher Thank Rep. Justice

From June 11th WECT, Wilmington, NC.

Cannon fire and applause greeted State Representative Carolyn Justice (R-New Hanover County) at Fort Fisher on June 11th. The Friends of Fort Fisher group thanked her efforts in stopping a proposed budget cut of 15% to the NC Department of Cultural Resources which oversees sites around the state, including Fort Fisher.

Had it gone through, eight sites would have closed and six others operations would have been seriously curtailed.

Justice said that it was important to keep history alive.

Thanks Rep. Justice. --Old B-Runner

Friday, June 17, 2011

Fort Fisher Medal of Honor Winner Gets Plaque

From the June 14th KDLT News, South Dakota.

Orderly Sergeant Isaac Fry, Medal of Honor winner, received a plaque in his honor at the Sioux Falls, SD, Veteran's Memorial Park. he received the Medal of Honor for his service aboard the USS Ticonderoga at the Second Battle of Fort Fisher.

After the war, he moved to South Dakota and lived in the Garreton area until his death in 1900.

The Garreton American Legion Honor Guard was on hand for the dedication.

A photo of Fry accompanied the article.

The report mistakenly listed him as being in the army and also referred to Fort Fisher as just gun emplacements. It was definitely more than that.

Congratulations to the Family of Isaac Fry. --Old B-Runner

Thursday, June 16, 2011

CSS Alabama Flag Up for Auction

From the June 16th Watertown (Wi) Daily Times.

June 17th, Sotheby's of New York City will be auctioning off several Civil War related items of note, including a rare Second National Confederate flag that family tradition says was the flag that was struck as the CSS Alabama was sinking after its June 18, 1864, battle with the USS Kearsarge.

I looked all over the net and could not find out any more about this flag, which with my being really interested in all things naval during the Civil War, is of particular interest. There is a photo of the flag.

I did see that Wikipedia mentions that there are four known Second national flags from the Alabama.

I'd especially like to know how it came into possession of the next owner along with its subsequent history.

I'll Keep Looking. --Old B-Runner

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

USS United States/CSS United States (Confederate States)-- Part 2

The old warship was slowly rotting away at Gosport and the Union sailors evacuating the place April 20, 1861, before the Confederates arrived didn't even bother to set fire to it as they scuttled the ship.

Confederates were desperate for anything that would float, and nine days later, April 29th, pumped it out and raised it and later commissioned it the CSS United States, although most called it the CSS Confederate States (after all, it wouldn't do to have a warship named after your enemy).

On June 15th, the date of Lee's letter, it began serving as a receiving ship for new Confederate sailors and had an additional role in harbor defense, mounting 19 cannons.

When Confederates abandoned the navy yard in May, 1862, the ship was sunk in the Elizabeth River as an obstruction to Union ships. Those trying to scuttle the vessel found the old timbers so strong that a whole box of axes were ruined. They finally had to settle on boring holes from the inside.

Shortly after the CSS Virginia was blown up May 11, 1862, and after Norfolk Navy Yard surrendered, the ship was raised and towed to the yard where it remained until March 1864 when the Bureau of Construction and Repair decided to have it broken up and the wood sold.

This was delayed until December 18th when work began.

An Interesting Ship Story. --Old B-Runner

USS United States/CSS United Staes (Confederate States)-- Part 1

General lee wrote about the former frigate USS United States (USS US) being turned into a school ship and set up for harbor defense. I didn't know a lot about the ship so did some research in good old Wiki.

The ship was launched in 1797, one of the famous original six US Navy frigates that served with so much distinction. The others: Constellation, Constitution, Congress, Chesapeake and President.

It usually mounted over 50 guns.

It served in many of America's wars: Quasi-War, War of 1812 (where it earned its most fame defeating the British frigate Macedonian), the Second Barbary War and the African Squadron (to intercept slavers). Herman Melville served aboard her for awhile.

From 1849 to 1861 it slowly rotted away at Gosport Navy Yard in Norfolk, Virginia.

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

Robert E. Lee Reporting on Gosport Navy Yard and Virginia River Defense

From the Civil War Naval Chronology.

This date back in 1861, Major General Robert E. Lee was in charge of Virginia's defense and wrote to Governor John Fletcher.

The frigate United States "has been prepared for a school ship, provided with a deck battery of nineteen guns, 32 pounders and 9-inch Columbiads, for harbor defense. The frigate Merrimack has been raised and is in for dry dock (in preparation for being converted into an ironclad, the CSS Virginia), and arrangements are being made for raising the Germantown and Plymouth."

He also well understood the dangers of Union Naval attack along Virginia's rivers. "Six batteries have been erected on the Elizabeth River" to guard the approaches to Norfolk and the navy yard. Three more batteries had been built on the Nansemond River to protect the Norfolk to Richmond railroad.

More sites had been selected along the Potomac River and batteries at Aquia Creek were operational and a 4-gun battery had been erected on the Rappahannock River.

Girding for Defense. --Old B-Runner

Monday, June 13, 2011

Time Line of the Civil War in the Cape Fear Region-- Part 1

From the April 12th Wilmington (NC) Star-News.

These dates are provided by Chris Fonvielle, assistant professor of history at UNC-Wilmington. He is probably the foremost authority on all things to do with Fort Fisher and the Cape Fear River.

1860-- The Federal census showed 9,552 residents in Wilmington, about 1/3 black.

1860, November-- Southern Nationalists in Wilmington form the Cape Fear Minutemen, a paramilitary group.

1860, Dec. 20th-- South Carolina secedes. secession zealots in Wilmington rejoice.

1861, Jan. 9-- The Cape Fear Minutemen, led by Capt.John J. Hedrick, seize Forts Johnston and Caswell from US Army caretakers. Governor John W. Ellis made them return the forts as the North Carolina was still in the Union.

Leading Up to War. --Old B-R'er

New Name for the New Market Battle

I got this information from the Civil War Interactive site.

The New Market battlefield State Historic Park in Virginia has a new name. From now on it is going to be called the Virginia Museum of the Civil War. Folks at the site think this will increase visitors as they will have a better idea what the site is about.

Unfortunately, most people today have no idea what happened at New Market and they probably think it is some sore of a farmers' market or something like that.

Personally, New Market will always mean the battle fought by the corps of cadets from the Virginia Military Institute.

Like with Comiskey Park and the Sears Tower in Chicago, it will remain New Market to me.

Thinkin' Market, Not Museum. --Old B-Runner

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Are There Still Civil War-era Munitions Under the Road That Splits Fort Fisher?-- Part 2

Chris Fonvielle, noted Fort Fisher scholar and professor at the nearby University of North Carolina-Wilmington, says, "There are undoubtedly many projectiles, both Union and Confederate, under the surface of the grounds, mounds and road, and occasionally a cannonball or cylindrical shell is dug up. My guess is there are still hundreds of projectiles in the fort, the river and the ocean, but, without knowing how many, it would be impossible to know their poundage."

Sawyer said there was also a powder magazine at Fort Fisher, east of the road, but it blew up a long time ago. The fire that sparked the explosion was started by a soldier's lantern right after the battle had ended. The unfortunate explosion killed 200 soldiers from both sides.

I have heard that alcohol may have been involved in the incident.

Fonvielle says that records now indicate that the number killed in the explosion was closer to 130.

So, Like I Said before, Watch Where You Walk. --Old B-R'er

Are There Still Civil War-era Munitions Under the Road That Splits Fort Fisher?-- Part 1

From the June 8th Wilmington (NC) Star News "My Reporter" column.

Reader Thomas Kemp wanted to know if there were still 65,000 to 70,000 pounds of Civil War-era munitions under the road in a tunnel.

Becky Sawyer, Fort Fisher State Historic Site interpreter says she never heard of that much under US-421, which cuts through several of the mounds. However, she is sure there are still buried munitions at the fort, but it would be impossible to say how much.

Of course, besides the huge Union Naval bombardments at both attacks on Fisher, there were Confederate shells at the fort. Plus, it was used during World War II, so there are likely munitions from that era on the fort grounds. Besides the mounds removed for the construction of US-421, other mounds were removed for an airfield where the visitors center and parking lot sit today.

Mr. Kemp was probably thinking of the huge Confederate ammunition bunker that was east of the road, and currently in the Atlantic Ocean.

Watch Where You Walk. --Old B-Runner

Mr. Lincoln's Opera Glasses?-- Part 1

From the June 8th Washington Post "Lincoln's Opera Glasses from Ford's Theatre to be auctioned."

They were found in the middle of Tenth Street after the president was carried from the theatre to the Peterson House and that fateful night. It was kept by the Union officer who found it and then his family kept it for generations until 1979 when it was sold at auction for $22,000, a record sale for a Lincoln object.

In 2002, it was sold again, this time for $424,000, another record. This time, the black and gold theater glasses Lincoln was believed to have with him when he was shot that night might go for $700,000 at the June 17th Sotheby's auction in New York City.

Also to be sold is a handwritten letter from Robert E. Lee discussing his resignation from the US Army and a flag from the CSS Alabama, so this is a real big-time sale.


The German-made glasses were found by Captain James M. McCamly of the 70th New York infantry regiment who was with the Washington city guard that night. He helped carry Lincoln across the street to the Peterson boarding house. According to the auction catalogue, "As Lincoln was being transported, the opera glasses--perhaps still in Lincoln's hands, perhaps tangled in his clothing-- fell to the street."

McCamly picked them up.

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

Seven Reasons Why We Still Love "Gone With the Wind"

From the June 7th Alaska Dispatch, from the Christian Science Monitor by Husna Haq.

Seventy-five years ago this month, an unknown young journalist from Atlanta submitted a package stuffed with dozens of manila folders to a publisher.

Margaret Mitchell's book, "Gone With the Wind" has since been translated into 36 languages, sold hundreds of millions of copies worldwide and won a Pulitzer Prize. Oh yes, then there was that movie that won eight Academy Awards.


Here are seven reasons why it continues to be a favorite:

7. Scarlett O'Hara is irresistible.
6. It provides such a compelling image of the Civil War-era (both before and after) South.
5. It teaches us about rebuilding a shattered economy.
4. It's the romance, stupid!!
3. It speaks to everyone.
2. It makes us talk about war.
1. It's just such a great story.

Besides seeing the movie many, many, many times. I even read the book and it is big and has a lot of words!!

Enough Said. --Old B-Runner

Friday, June 10, 2011

North Carolina Civil War Deaths Down-sized

From the June 9th WWAY Wilmington (NC) News 3 ABC.

Recent examination of the actual number of Confederate deaths from the state of North Carolina have revealed that no more than 35,000 died in the conflict. That is 5,000 fewer than what it was formerly believed. North Carolina has long claimed that it had the most deaths.

Josh Howard of the state Office of Archives and History did the work. As of June 8th, the number stood at 31,100 with another 3,000 missing, many presumed to have died.

An 1866 count put Confederate deaths from the state at 40,275. A recount is due from the state of Virginia which may cause them to have the most deaths.

Josh Howard is now beginning the state's first count of dead Union and black troops.

Not Sure That Having the Most Deaths Is All That Good of a Thing. --Old B-Runner

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Black Soldiers at Fort Fisher Honored

From the June 1st Wilmington (NC) Star-News.

Several regiments of the United States Colored Troops (USCT) fought with conspicuous gallantry at Fort Fisher. On June 2nd, a marker was dedicated to them at 10 am at the National Cemetery in Wilmington at the Market Street entrance.

The 1st, 4th, 5th, 10th, 27th, 30th, 37th and 39th regiments of the USCT were involved., led by white officers.

After the battle, some captured Confederate officers said that even though it was not official Confederate policy, any blacks who were captured and found to be free men would not be killed. However, if they were former slaves, they would be treated as house burners and robbers and would be killed as would their white officers.

The exact number isn't known, but it is believed that several hundred USCT are buried at the Wilmington National Cemetery which records 92 official black burials, including some who died in combat and those who died after their service. Of that number, 88 were enlisted men and 4 were white officers., making it the largest USCT burial ground in North Carolina.

A total of 3,300 USCT participated in the fighting in the Cape Fear area.

A deserved Honor. --Old B-R'er

Naval Chronology May to June 1861: Blockade and Privateers

Some things happening back these dates in 1861 that pertain to some of the things I've posted about recently.

MAY 26th-- The USS Brooklyn, Cmdr. Charles H. Poor, set the blockade at the mouth of the Mississippi River and New Orleans.

USS Union, Cmdr, John R. Goldsborough, set the blockade of Savannah.

USS Powhattan, Lt. D.D. Porter, set blockade of Mobile.

MAY 29th-- The Confederate privateer J.C. Calhoun captured the American brig Panama and took it to New Orleans along with two other prizes it had captured, the schooners Mermaid and John Adams.

MAY 31st-- The USS Perry, Lt. Parrott, captured the blockade-runner Hannah M. Johnson.

JUNE 3rd-- Confederate privateer Savannah, Capt. Baker, captured the American brig Joseph with a cargo of sugar. Then, the Savannah was captured by the USS Perry, Lt. Parrot.

Lots of Naval Stuff happening. --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Seven New US Sloops-of-War

From the June 7th Long Rewind Blog.

The June 7, 1861, Richmond Daily Dispatch reported on the seven new sloops-of-war authorized by the last Federal Congress as to their names and where they were to be built.

NEW HAMPSHIRE, KEARSARGE, OSSIPEE-- to be built at Portsmouth
HOUSATONIC, WACHUSETT-- to be built at Boston
ADIRONDACK-- to be built at New York
JUNIATA, TUSCARORA-- to be built at Philadelphia

Of course, the Kearsarge sank the Alabama and the Housatonic was sunk by the submarine Hunley.

The Build-Up begins. --Old B-Runner

The Problem with Privateers-- Part 2

Letter of Marque go way back before the Civil War. They were often used by young countries with no navy, which was exactly what the Confederacy was. The government would issue the letter to a private individual owners of armed ships which could then go to sea and raid enemy shipping.

They received no money from the government but were allowed to keep whatever they captured.

The US government used it in both the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. It was considered so important that it was even included in the US Constitution.

From Wikipedia:

A Letter of Marque and Reprisal authorized a private ship to attack and capture enemy vessels and bring them before admiralty courts for condemnation and sale. This was considered an honorable calling, combining patriotism and profit.

The use of privateers goes back to the Middle Ages, but was renounced by many nations at the Congress of Paris in 1856.

A Privateer By Any Other Name Would Be a _______. --Old B-R'er

The Problem with Privateers-- Part 1

From the June 3rd Washington Post "A House Divided" blog by Timothy R. Smith.

Commander Enoch Parrott of the USS Perry saw a suspicious schooner in the distance on June 3, 1861. It was closely trailing a brig about 60 miles off Charleston, SC. Might it be a Confederate privateer?

The Perry closed on it and it fled. A chase commenced and a shot fired across the privateer's bow which halted it. A flag was raised, but in the coming dark, the flag could not be determined. The Perry fired and the schooner returned it before surrendering twenty minutes later.

Fourteen men were arrested after the schooner was boarded and determined to be a privateer. They were taken to New York City to stand trial as pirates. The jury failed to reach a verdict.

However, in Philadelphia, the crew of another privateer was found to be pirates and sentenced to hang. When news of the verdict and sentence reached the South, the Confederate Congress authorized President Jefferson Davis to execute an equal number of Union prisoners.

Lincoln postponed the executions indefinitely, avoiding the confrontation. Eventually both crews were exchanged for Union POWs.

Fortunatelu, the issue never became one of trading executions., but it almost did.

Pirates Or Privateers. Thin Line. --Old B-Runner

Monday, June 6, 2011

Jackson "Prayer Tree" Bites the Dust

From the June 4th Virginia Pilot.

An ancient white oak tree at Wyers Cave, Virginia has been toppled by strong winds. General Stonewall Jackson and his troops reportedly gathered under it for prayers in June 1862.

The disease-weakened tree is known as "Jackson's Prayer Tree" fell June 3rd.

It was southeast of Harrisonburg between Wyers Cave and Grottoes.

After Jackson's successful Shenandoah Valley Campaign of 1862, Jackson and his 15,000 soldiers encamped between the Middle and South rivers. His mapmaker, Jedediah Hotchkiss, Jackson and the Rev. R.L. Dabney and others joined for prayers under the tree.

Goodbye Old Tree. --Old B-R'er

Anniversary re-Enactment of the Capture of the USS Water Witch-- Part 2

I have to admit, Water Witch is just not the name you'd expect to find on a warship.

At 9 pm Friday and Saturday, a re-enactment of the capture took place at the full-scale replica of the actual ship. People in attendance can watch from the newly-built dock which can seat 200. Onlookers were close to the action.

Lt. Austin Pendergrass was the second in command of the USS Congress when it was attacked by the Confederate ironclad Virginia. The Congress was burning and sinking when its commander told Pendergrass to surrender to save the remaining crew members.

He did and was "pilloried" by the Navy, becoming a "marked man." This is one reason he was commanding a ship like the Water Witch instead of an ironclad or bigger warship.

It happened again with the loss of the Water Witch. The officers fought, but enlisted men whose enlistments were up did not.

Pendergrass was wounded three or four times.

For his effort, he was suspended two years without pay and censured in a court martial. Despite this Pendergrass died in naval service. (I'll have to do some more research on him.)

All the while, another naval officer, Thomas O. Selfridge was sinking ships and walking away with no attacks of his ability to command.

Peter McIntosh, was the only black Water Witch sailor to survive. He jumped overboard, swam to safety and later served on the USS Philadelphia. At the end of his enlistment, he just disappeared from history.

Tickets for the show were $5 to $6.50.

I Sure Would Have Liked to Be There. Maybe for 2014. --Old B-Runner

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Anniversary Re-Enactment of Capture of the USS Water Witch-- Part 1

From the June 3rd Columbus (Ga) Ledger-Enquirer.

Last night, the National Civil War Naval Museum in Columbus, Georgia, held a program "Two Navies, One Ship, the USS/CSS Water Witch" from 6:30 to 9:30 pm. It will be held again tonight.

The reason for the date is the anniversary of the ship's capture near Savannah, June 3, 1864.

At 8:30, there was a Museum Theatre program featuring four performers representing four real-life people involved in the ship's capture:

JEREMIAH SILLS-- a free black US Navy sailor on the Water Witch.
LT. THOMAS PELOT, CSN-- officer in command of the attack who was killed.
LT. AUSTUN PENDERGRASS, USN-- commander of the Water Witch.
HARRIET DALLAS-- former slave and wife and widow of CSN pilot Moses Dallas

This last character is of interest. Moses Dallas was a black man serving in the Confederate Navy as a pilot, something you would not expect.

If I lived near Columbus, Georgia, I know where I'd be tonight. Tickets are $5 to $6.50, a small price to pay for a forgotten aspect of the war.

More to Come. -- Old B-Runner

Friday, June 3, 2011

Hit and Run in New York City

From the June 3, 1861, New York Times.

The war was going on, but daily life continued as well.

The paper reported that on June 1st, 4 and 1/2-year-old George Kedar was struck at 49th St. and 9th Avenue by a beer wagon drive by Nicholas Hamdia. The boy died of his injuries.

Hamdia attempted to escape in the wagon, but was pursued and captured.

I imagine he was arrested.

A Sad Incident. --Old B-Runner

The Blockade Thickens-- Part 2

The Long Recall Blog: The Civil War in Real Time, 150 Years Later. Website is I read this most every day. It is based on articles in the New York Times from the Civil War years, but also covers other newspapers from the era.

SUNDAY JUNE 2, 1861.

In the almost two months lapsing since the blockade was proclaimed, US Naval ships have been getting into position at Southern ports to enforce it.

During this week, the blockade had been proclaimed at Savannah, Georgia; Mobile, Alabama; Biloxi, Mississippi; Galveston, Texas and New Orleans.

Confederates intend to finance the war through the sale of cotton.

MONDAY, JUNE 3, 1861

A second skirmish took place at Aquia Creek, Virginia, between Union ships and Confederate batteries ashore. Both sides shelled each other for four hours. No major damage to the Union ships Thomas Freeborn (struck two times), Anacosta, Resolute and Pawnee (struck 8 or 9 times).

An estimated 10-12 Confederates were killed.

Naval Affairs Heating Up. --Old B-R'er

The Blockade Thickens-- Part 1

I have been reading an excellent blog called the Long Recall where the author is taking each day of the war and reliving it according to various newspapers from both sides.

In recent posts, the blockade was discussed.


An account of two schooners captured by the Union's Chesapeake Squadron.

Schooner CRENSHAW, Captain Winter from Richmond, arrive in New York City May 28th, under command of Lt. Hunter of the USS Minnesota. Carrying $75,000 worth of tobacco. Taken at Hampton Roads.

Also, schooner HAXALL, Capt. Morse, Richmond, bound for Baltimore with $75,000 tobacco, arrived New York City.

Of course, I would have to wonder why Captain Morse was bound for Baltimore, which was still in control of Union forces. Perhaps, he was lying about it, or perhaps, he was trading with the enemy.

Either way, there was prize money to be made from the sale of the ship and its cargo.

Hey, Those Are My Ships!! --Old B-Runner

Thursday, June 2, 2011

History Channel Civil War Week-- Part 2: Lee and Grant

Tuesday night, I watched the History Channel's two hour special on both Lee and Grant before and during the war.

One, from a wealthy family and the other from a more modest situation. Both attended the United States Military Academy at West Point and both were in the Mexican War, where they did meet once (Grant remembered it, Lee didn't) before that fateful one at Appomattox.

One stayed in the army until his state seceded, the other resigned his commission to try civilian life somewhat unsuccessfully until the war began.

This show was not so gory as the first one on Gettysburg.

The show traced both their careers throughout the war with all their success (and failures).

I had to do something else the last ten minutes of the two-hour show and it was only up to Gettysburg and Vicksburg, so I would imagine there is to be a part two. A whole lot happened to these two men after they became direct adversaries.

Great Job, History Channel. --Old B-Runner

Civil War Navy Word Scramble

The Civil War Navy Sesquicentennial site at site is the place to be for Navy Nuts like me.

They currently have a contest going on where they ask three questions each segment and leave it up to readers to answer. I managed to tie for first (8 of 10 points) in the first round, but forgot to send in my answers for the second quiz.

One part was a word scramble. I managed to get the first one on my own, but had my wife get the other four. She likes word scrambles. I don't. She could unscramble. Once she did get some of the word, she would tell me what she had and I was able to complete the word with my naval knowledge.

Give it a try yourself: (Answers below) All words have to do with the Civil War Navy.

A. table choked ___ ___________.

B. a canon and alp ________ ______

C. an ivy noun ______ ______

D. a fools prow _________ _______ _______

E. a blender uncork __________ ________

A. The Blockade

B. Anaconda Plan

C. Union Navy

D. Sloop of War

E. Blockade Runner

Thanks, Liz. --Old B-R'er

Missed My 1500th Post

I like to acknowledge my blogs whenever I hit 500 posts. This one is now at 1610, 1611 counting this one according to my blogger dashboard.

This one started out of my Down Da Road I Go Blog, which started as an outgrowth of my original blog, RoadDog's RoadLog Blog. I was unable to get logged in at one time back in 2007, and started the Down Da Road one.

That blog was to be about all my other interests: history, the Civil War, music and what I was doing. It soon became apparent that I was going to have to spin some blogs off it, and thus my Cooter's History Thing and this blog were born.

This blog has definitely gotten my interest in the Civil War invigorated again.

Blog Posts:

Roadlog-- 1,926
Cooetr's History Thing 1621
Down Da Road I Go 2064

Spending Way Too Much Time on These Confounded Blogs. --Old B-Runner

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

History Channel's Civil War Week:-- Part 1: A Gory Time Was Had Monday

In honor of Memorial Day and the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, the History Channel has been running a much-hyped week-long Civil War event with two-hour productions of the Battle of Gettysburg on Monday and Lee-Grant yesterday.

Tonight Pickers and Pawn Shop will be focused on Civil War artifacts, which should be greatly interesting as well. Thursday and Friday will be repeats of the first two productions.

The Battle of Gettysburg show was accurate, but extremely gory. My brother e-mailed that he thought it was too gory as well. He said Mom had started watching it, but turned it off because of the blood and guts.

I had heard of the story about the Union sergeant Hummiston who was identified because of the photo of his children several months after the battle. One of the war's truly sad stories.

Then, there was Union General Sickles, quite a character. I found the vignette on Gen. Barksdale of Mississippi interesting.

You have to wonder why commanders on both sides continued to use Napoleonic tactics even in the face of new technology that rendered them not only useless, but resulting in deaths and suffering beyond comprehension.

I imagine all the gore was an attempt to get kids to watch the shows, what with their gory computer games.

Bringing History to the People. --Old B-Runner

More McHenry County Deaths-- Part 2

These were men who died while in the service.

G. Blackman
C.M. Bronson
D.S. Broughton
J.B. Brown
M.S. Brown
S. Brown
T.J. Brown
W. Brown
A.S. Bunker
F.H. Burnside
D.K. Burr
J.E. Burr
L.E. Burr, Jr.
D.S. Butler
T. Calkins
C.W. Carpenter
C. Chilson
W.A. Churchhill
C.C. Clark
S.B. Clark
W. Clary
J.C. Clemens
J.J. Colgrove
L. Collins
J. Conroe
E.J. Cook
R. Cook

Five Browns, three Burrs and two Clarks.

Some Very Sad Families. --Old B-R'er

McHenry County Residents Who Died in the Civil War

In keepinng with this past Monday's Memorial Day, the local McHenry County newspaper, the Northwest Herald, ran a list of county residents who died in the service of their country in all wars since the Civil War.

The list was supplied by the McHenry County Historical Society.

The most soldiers died during the Civil War, almost as long as all the other wars combined.

G.S. Ainsworth
J.J. Alderman
C. Anderson
A. Ayers
S. Bacon
R.D. Bailey
N. Baldwin
S. Baldwin
A. Barnes
C.C. Barnes
E.H. Barnes
R. Barnes
W. Bassett
J. Betke
D. Beck
M.G. Bell
E. Bellows
G.C. Benson
E. Bent
J. Best
C. Bigsby
H. Bills

The war had to be particularly hard on the Baldwin and Barnes families. Four Barnes died while in service.

This takes care of a little over 2 lines of names out of 33!!

Heroes All. --Old B-Runner