The Battle of Fort Fisher, N.C.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Looks Like I'll Be Missing An Interesting Talk

I came across an announcement for the Brunswick Civil War Round Table's (Southport, North Carolina) September 6th meeting and their featured speaker, Stephen R. Wise, who will be speaking about blockade-runners. This man is one of the foremost authorities on this activity, having written the book "Lifeline of the Confederacy: Blockade Running During the Civil War."

He is a professor at the University of South Carolina Beaufort Campus and will focus on the blockade off the North Carolina Coast, its impact on Southport (called Smithville during the war) and blockade-running into and out of Wilmington.

You'd better believe I'd really love to be at this talk. I could also get my copy of his book autographed.

Too far Away and Was Just in the Area. --Old B-Runner

Richard Kidder Meade; No Close Relative of General Meade-- Part 8

Continued from the Friends of Gettysburg web site.

R.K. Meade was a hero in the North after Sumter's surrender, but he resigned his commission when it became apparent Virginia would also secede. He became an engineer in the Confederate Army.

Confederate General J.R. Anderson wrote a letter to Secretary of War Judah Benjamin requesting that Meade be commissioned a Captain of Engineers. As such, he directed the fortifications that became Fort Fisher for a short time before serving on the staff of General Longstreet on the Virginia Peninsula. Promoted to major in the summer of 1862, he died of typhoid July 31, 1862 at Petersburg, Virginia.

He was buried at Blandford Cemetery in Petersburg, Virginia. His father, Richard Kidder Meade, Sr., is also buried there.

To What heights Might This Young Man have Risen Had It Not Been for His Early Death? --Old B-R'er

Richard Kidder Meade; No Close Relation to General Meade-- Part 7

From the Friends of Gettysburg Web Site.

A member saw a picture in the March 23, 1861 Harper's Weekly Magazine of the federal officers at Fort Sumter. The name of one being Meade sparked their interest.

Further research showed that Richard Kidder Meade was not a close relative of Gettysburg's General George Meade. R.K. Meade was a member of a prominent Virginia family who graduated the USMA and entered service as a Brevet 2nd. Lt. of Engineers in July, 1857. The Engineer Corps was reserved for the very top officers in the Army.

Lt. Meade was at Fort Sumter during the crisis. Even with his Southern leanings, he evidently performed his job at the fort, as another officer wrote, "Lieut. R,K. Meade, Engineers, placed on ordnance duty, found the supply of cartridges on hand to be too small, and took immediate measures to increase the supply by cutting up all the surplus blankets and extra clothing to make cartridge bags (for the artillery)."

Performing His Duty. --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Richard Kidder Meade-- Part 6

Earlier this month I was writing about this man and his short but interesting Civil War service. The last entry was August 3rd.

While at Fort Fisher a few days ago, I learned that part of the fort was named Batter Meade and had been designed by Richard Kidder Meade during the short time he was there. It no longer mounted guns by the time the fort was attacked and had been turned into a hospital to which Col. Lamb and Gen. Whiting were taken after they were wounded in action. They were later moved to Battery Buchanan where they and the garrison surrendered.

On December 27, 1860, Major Robert Anderson sent this telegram from Fort Sumter to Col. S. Cooper:

"This afternoon an armed steamer, one of two which have been watching these two forts, between which they have been passing to and fro or anchored for the last night, took possession by escalade of Castle Pinckney. Lieutenant Meade made no resistance. He is with us to-night.

They also took possession to-night of Fort Moultrie, from which I withfrew the remainder of my men this afternoon, leaving the fort in charge of the overseer of the men employed by the Engineer Department."

What kind of resistance to he expect Meade to put up when he only had one soldier with him? Or perhaps the fact that Meade was a Southerner made Anderson wonder where the man's loyalties truly were.

The Plot Thickens. --Old B-R'er

Irene's Damage to Cape Fear Coast; Not Much

The August 28th headlined "Few signs of Irene in beach towns near Wilmington."

They reported hundreds of people on the beaches of Carlina Beach and Kure Beach Sunday, enjoying sunny skies and gentle waves.

The reporter saw some piles of branches and palm fronds and some standing water in places.

At Carolina Beach, the beachfront road had already been plowed of the sand that had washed up on it.

Several life guard stands had been blown over and there were signs of beach erosion at Kure Beach.

At Fort Fisher, stairs leading to two dune walkovers were washed away, leaving a ten-foot drop to the beach. Several black pipes that carry rainwater to the beach were uncovered.

I'm wondering if they had any hurricanes by Fort Fisher during the Civil War?

But, It Could Have Been Much Worse. Like Jimmy Buffett says, "Trying to Reason with Hurricane Season." --Old B-Runner

Monday, August 29, 2011

Irene Messes with the Civil War

The recent arrival of Hurricane Irene along the North Carolina coast forced the cancellation of several war-related activities.

The Fort Fisher State Historic Site was closed Friday and Saturday.

The Flags Over Hatteras conference was also cancelled.

As was a living history program at Bentonville State Historic Site.

Better to Be Safe Than You-Know-What. --Old B-R'er

It's a Naval Thing

From This Day in Naval History.


1843-- The steam frigate USS Mississippi arrives in Gibraltar after completing the first trans-Atlantic crossing by a US steam-powered ship. Steamers played a big role in the war.


1839-- The brig USS Washington seizes the slaver Amistad near Montauk Point, New York. Quite a few US naval vessels were involved in stopping the illegal African slave trade before the war.

1861-- Union amphibious force lands near Hatteras Inlet, North Carolina. The first of many land-sea operations during the war, the largest of which was at Fort Fisher.

1865-- The Civil War ends with the following Naval strength: 58,500 men and 600 ships.


1861-- The US Navy captures the forts guarding Hatteras Inlet, NC.

Sure Helped Union Morale After the First Battle of Bull Run. --Old B-Runner

Saturday, August 27, 2011

ECU Students Working with Cargo of Blockade-Runner Modern Greece-- Part 2

Two pictures accompanied the article, one of a student holding a copper chain on an Enfield rifle from the ship and the other showing pieces of tableware.

The Modern Greece was one of the first runners lost to the blockade off Wilmington. It was an English cargo steamer and not-built for its new activity, especially because of its deep draft. It was carrying a load of consumer goods and weapons for the Confederacy.

It was chased aground June 27, 1862 and sunk by its crew to prevent the gunpowder kegs from exploding.

Students worked to record the type and condition of artifacts and photographed many to evaluate their future conservation.

Items included Enfield rifles, antler-handled knives, handcuffs, hoes, picks and other 1800s farm and household goods.

I Would Have Been Happy to Volunteer My Time. Let Me Know Next Time. --Old B-Runner

Friday, August 26, 2011

ECU Students Working with Cargo of Blockade-Runner Modern Greece-- Part 1

From the Fall 2011 East: the Magazine of East Carolina University.

The Modern Greece was rediscovered in 1962 about 300 yards off the shore of Fort Fisher after a storm uncovered it. Divers recovered around 11,500 artifacts from the wreck. Some of the best items were conserved and put on display at museums.

Its discovery led to the creation of the North Carolina State Underwater Archaeology Branch as a new part of the State Department of Cultural Resources.

However, most of the items were not examined in detail at the time and left in water tanks for preservation where they remained until this past spring when 11 ECU marine studies students went to the Fort Fisher site and did extensive examination, cataloguing and descriptions of said artifacts.

They were led by Susanne Grieve, ECU director of conservation for maritime studies and Nathan Henry, an assistant state archaeologist and they examined consumer goods like tableware along with guns, ammunition and cannons (I didn't know the Modern Greece was carrying cannons).

Without a doubt, I sure would have liked to have been there.

They Should Have Told Me. --Old B-R'er

Confederates Take Control of Ship Island-- Part 1

From the July 2nd Sun Herald (Biloxi-Gulfport, Ms.).

Ship Island, now East and West Ship Island since Hurricane Camille split the place in two in 1969, is located in the Gulf of Mexico off Gulfport, Mississippi. The construction of a fort on it had commenced in 1859, but by 1861, it wasn't nearly completed. It is considered an important defensive position for the Mississippi coast as well as New Orleans to the west and Mobile to the east.

By June 1861, the Gulf Blockading Squadron was getting more active and Confederate Brigadier General David Twiggs decided that a garrison was needed for Ship island because of its strategic significance.

The as of yet unnamed fort on it was incomplete and it was no vacation spot with few trees, high temperatures and humidity. All structures on the island had already been burned by command of Confederate Brigadier General William Hardee, so occupying troops would have to live in tents.

General Twiggs had the soldiers to occupy it, but not the heavy cannons to defend it. There were some guns of heavy calibre at the New Orleans Navy Yard and some were ordered to the island.

Ship Those Guns to the Island. --Old B-Runner

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Chris Fonvielle's New Fort Fisher Book

I bought noted Fort Fisher expert Chris E. Fonvielle, Jr.'s new book, Fort Fisher 1865: The Photographs of T.H. O'Sullivan, at the Fort Fisher Museum last Friday and sure enjoyed my first look through it.

Collecting this many of the photographs taken after the fort had fallen is an accomplishment in itself, but then Fonvielle writes about each photo and shows from which direction it was taken.

Then, from pages 3 to 26, he gives as good of a background of Wilmington, blockade-running, the construction of the fort and the two battles as you'll find anywhere.

It was amazing that serious work on the fort did not really start to occur until Col. William Lamb took command of it July 4, 1862.

Before that, a series of commanders had been in charge and the fort had grown piecemeal and in a disorganized manner. I was familiar with some of the former commanders and engineers such as Charles Pattison Bolles, William Lord DeRosset, W.H.C. Whiting (while a Confederate major) and John J. Hedrick.

However, I have only come to know two others just this past year and both by coincidence.

After attending the Daffodil Festival in Fremont, North Carolina, I wanted to find out a little about its history. It was named for the head of the Wilmington & Weldon Railroad, Seawell Fremont (it was a station on the railroad). Another source said he was in charge of all coastal defense from New River to the South Carolina line which would include what became Fort Fisher.

Then, this summer, I came across an auction of items owned by Richard Kidder Meade and short note that he had been at Fort Fisher at one point. There was one part of the fort called Battery Meade which he designed.

Mighty Good Book. --Old B-R'er

USS Granite City: Confederate/Union/Confederate

Back on August 17th, I was writing about the USS Penguin (kind of an unlikely name for a naval warship if you ask me) which had been responsible for destroying the first blockade-runner off the Cape Fear/Wilmington area in 1861.

Later in the war, it captured a Confederate blockade-runner called the Granite City off Texas. It seemed to me that I had heard of a USS Granite City, maybe even written about it, so it was to good old Wiki I went.

This blockade-runner had a very interesting career, and, I had been right, at one time it was the USS Granite City.

It had started out as a blockade-runner and had been captured. After condemnation in prize court, the US Navy bought it and turned it into a warship.

Later, the Confederates captured the ship and it was converted into a blockade-runner and then run ashore by the Penguin.

Not Your Usual Ship's History. --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Some Notes from the Fort Fisher Walk

I went to Fort Fisher August 19th and went out on the 2 pm tour. This is a great way for those not as familiar with the fort's history to better understand what they're looking at, especially since so much of the fort is gone and that it was built of sand and not masonry (now that I know how to spell the word).

I was very appreciative that the guide always stopped in the shade to make his talks.

I wasn't expecting to learn much, but did, which made the walk even better.

Since the battle, many live oaks have grown up on the grounds and north of the site. Live oaks get their name because they don't lose their leaves and stay green during the winter. Their wood is very dense and was used in the construction of the USS Constitution, which got the name Old Ironsides because cannonballs would bounce off its sides.

Along with the garrison, slaves from area plantations also toiled on the fort. However, the garrison slept in the fort and the slaves' camp was located outside the fort. No excavation has been made of the site. I wonder if they even know where it is.

During the second attack, the naval guns from each ship were targeted on specific sections of the fort which proved much more effective than the pattern during the first assault. Most all of the fort's guns were knocked out of action.

The gun chambers (as the positions between the traverses were called) were all connected by a tunnel which stretched from Shephard's Battery by the Cape Fear River, all the way to the Northeast Bastion.

Interesting Stuff. --Old B-R'er

Fort Fisher Confederate Veterans 1865-1935

The Fort Fisher Museum at Kure Beach, North Carolina, has a new exhibit by the entrance about the organizations of veterans who participated in the two battles for the fort.

I have written about them before.

In 1875, the fort's commander, Colonel William Lamb organized the first reunion in Wilmington. By the 1890s, the two sides had begun to reconcile enough, that former enemies participated in the reunions.

The 1907 reunion was the largest with more than 500 old warriors attending. At it, former Private Benjamin Seeley of the 117th New York met the wounded man he had captured 42 years earlier, James Smith, and the two men were photographed shaking hands.

A photo of the 1905 reunion was also on exhibit.

One of the purposes of the reunions and associations was to have Fort Fisher made into a national park, but that never came to pass.

Let the Old Bad Times Be Remembered. --Old B-Runner

Monday, August 22, 2011

Blockade-Running at Topsail Island

Today, we went to the Missiles and More Museum in Topsail Beach, North Carolina. Along with pirates, Camp Davis from World War II, and the Bumblebee missile testing, they had two iron ingots recovered from the blockade-runner Phantom.

A total of fourteen ingots were taken from the wreck of the ship which was on its third voyage on the Bermuda-Wilmington run when it was run aground.

The ingots are marked "Pomtifex & Wood, London."

The ship was sunk between Rich's and New Topsail Inlet. Mom's condo is about a mile from the New Topsail Inlet, at least where it is located today.

Could Be Right Offshore of Where I Sit Right Now. --Old B-Runner

Joined FOFF: Friends of Fort Fisher

Friday, I drove from Topsail Beach to Fort Fisher, around 45 miles.  I hadn't been to the fort for quite a few years since we've been going to Topsail Beach because that is where Mom has her townhouse.

Part of the distance is that we are seven miles down Topsail Island from Surf City.  And the Wilmington area has horrendous traffic.

I took a walk around the museum and looked at the store which has a lot of great books on Fort Fisher, blockade-running and the Wilmington area during the war.I had already intended to join the group before I even came down after reading about the things they do for Fort Fisher.

I took the guided walking tour of the fort with a very knowledgeable man, but found out that even though he volunteered his time for the tours, he was not a member of FOFF.

It cost $25 to join, and one immediate benefit was being able to buy items from the museum store for 25% off.  I bought the new Chris Fonveille book on the photographs of T.H. O'Sullivan of Fort Fisher taken after it fell.

As a Fort Fisher Fan, I Sure Had to Join This Great Organization.  --Old B-Runner

Saturday, August 20, 2011

River Runaways in the Wilmington Area-- Part 3

The commander of Fort Fisher, Col. William Lamb, lost one of his slaves which led to a big security breech at the fort.

In May 1864 Charles Wesley, one of Lamb's slaves, made a beach escape and was picked up by thee USS Niphong. Having helped to build the fort, he proceeded to explain the fort's layout, artillery, the fact that the garrison fluctuated, and that it consisted of a mixture of artillerymen, regular troops and junior and senior reserves.

This information was used several months later when Union forces attacked Fort Fisher.

In all, 180,000 black men fought in the war. Eighty-two from Wilmington joined the Union Army or Navy and a dozen of them were at the final Battle of Fort Fisher.

Nearly a third of the Army soldiers who stormed Fort Fisher belonged to United States Colored troops regiments, mostly made up of former slaves. They were held in reserve in the initial fighting, but very much involved in the final struggle.

One veteran of the 37th USCT, raised in Kinston, marched into Wilmington the next month and saw his mother among the cheering crowds of blacks. She remarked that he had left home as a slave, but now returned as a soldier and a free man.

An Interesting Story. --Old B-Runner

River Runaways in the Wilmington Area-- Part 2

William B. Gould's connection with the Civil War did not end there.

He enlisted in the Navy and served aboard the USS Cambridge and later on the Niagara and participated in chasing after blockade-runners.

Gould and his group were not the only slaves to escape their masters. When a yellow fever epidemic broke out in Wilmington, many owners left the city. Trusted slaves were left in charge of their homes and many took advantage to make their way to freedom.

Gould, aboard the Cambridge took aboard a boat with about a dozen contrabands aboard in October.

Hundreds of slaves were used to turn Fort Fisher into the imposing fortress that it became. With Union ships patrolling offshore, any slave would could swim or paddle out far enough to be picked up by picket boats could escape. On several occasions, Union sailors even came ashore and picked them up.

A Blow to the Fort Up Next. --Old B-R'er

River Runaways in the Wilmington Area-- Part 1

From the August Our State Magazine by Philip Gerard.

This was the story of a 24-year old master brick mason and plasterer by the name of William B. Gould, a slave from the Wilmington, North Carolina area. The son of a white Englishman and a slave woman, on September 21, 1862, he led a group of seven fellow slaves on an escape down the Cape Fear River to the Union blockading fleet offshore.

The trip down the Cape Fear from Wilmington took all night and great care had to be taken as they passed Confederate fortifications. It was daybreak before they got past Smith Island, where they finally hoisted the sail and were quickly spotted by lookouts on the USS Cambridge.

In the logbook, it was noted: "Saw a sail S.W.S. and signaled same to other vessels. Stood for strange sail and at 10:30 picked up a boat with eight contrabands from Wilmington, N.C.."

Union General Benjamin F. Butler, commander of the First Attack on Fort Fisher, had earlier in the war coined the term contraband for escaped slaves.

More to Come. --Old B-Runner

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Doing Some Civil War Coastal Stuff

Later today, I will be flying down to Wilmington, North Carolina, renting a car, and driving to Topsail Beach for a week at my mom's condo.

The coastal area around Wilmington had considerable saltwork operations during the war as well as blockade-running, both into the Cape Fear River by the bigger runners, but also into the numerous coves and inlets by smaller ones.

A trip to Fort Fisher is also planned, something I'm really looking forward to. Perhaps I'll join the Friends of Fort Fisher while there. I've been considering it for quite some time.

I am also considering a drive north to Newport News to see the turret of the USS Monitor at the Mariner's Museum, but we'll see. I sure would like to see it before it is immersed back in the water tank for another five or so years.

Getting My Civil War Up Close and Personal. --Old B-R'er

USS Penguin-- Part 2

The Penguin then joined the Potomac Flotilla August 14, 1861 before being ordered to the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron in October, 1861, where it participated in the capture of Port Royal, S.C..

In late November, it captured a blockade-runner.

March 4, 1862, the Penguin assisted in the capture of Fernandino, Florida. Eighteen days later, boat crews from the Penguin and the Henry Andrew were attacked in Mosquito Inlet, south of Daytona Beach, and Acting Lt. Thomas Budd was killed along with four others.

Later, the well-traveled Penguin was ordered to the Gulf Blockade, where, on July 8, 1864, it assisted in the destruction of the blockade-runner Matagorda. On January 21, 1865, it forced another runner, the Granite City, ashore at Velasco, Texas.

It was decommissioned in August, 1865 and sold where it entered commercial service as the Florida before being converted to a sailing schooner in 1884.

Prize money to be made from captures, not destruction of blockade-runners.

The Story of a Blockader. --Old B-Runner

Monday, August 15, 2011

USS Penguin

This past Thursday, I mentioned that that date, August 11, 1861, the USS Penguin, a Union blockader, chased the blockade-runner Louisa ashore near the Cape Fear River by Wilmington, where it sank. This was the first mention I have come across as far as blockade-runners sunk or captured at Wilmington, whose blockade had only just been initiated the previous month.

I could not find out anything about the Louisa and there is not a while lot on the Penguin, but I did find some stuff in Wikipedia and other sources.

The Penguin was acquired by the Navy on May 23, 1861 and commissioned just over a month later under the command of Acting Volunteer Lt. Thomas A. Budd. Usually, it takes a lot longer to commission a ship, but the US Navy was desperate for anything that could mount guns and float to enforce the declared blockade.

It was a steamship of 389 tons, 30 foot beam and 155 feet long, mounting 1 X 12 pdr gun and 4X32-pdrs.

It was assigned to the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron when it pursued the Louisa.

Other War Service. --Old B-Runner

Wings Over the Neuse II

From the August 12th

Darn, I missed out on it again as it was held this past Friday. Two of my favorite things came together, bbq wings and the Confederate Navy in Kinston, North Carolina. I've written about it before. Maybe next year.

This was a fundraiser put on by the CSS Neuse II Foundation, a group of volunteers responsible for the full-size replica of the original CSS Neuse, whose hull is nearby.

The wings were served from 10:30 am to 6 pm or until run out and for $5 you get 5 wings, celery, carrots and dipping sauce. The good stuff could be picked up or eaten on the CSS Neuse II grounds. They plan to cook 5,000 wings in a tomato-based, mild, sweet, but not spicy. What? No Carolina bbq sauce?

The first Wings Over the Neuse was in 2009 to raise money for a memorial to Ted Sampley who was the driving force for the full-sized replica of the original ship. He had died earlier that year.

The second was for Alton Stapleford, the man responsible for designing and building the ship. This last one was to raise money to finish the Stapleford memorial and improve the landscaping on the grounds. Stapleford's memorial will be dedicated October 8th at another even called Breakfast on the Boat.

Eatin' and Supportin'. --Old B-R'er

Confederate Camp Trousdale, Tennessee

I'm still doing research on the 3rd Tennessee Infantry.

Because of the sickness plaguing Camp Cheatham near Springfiele, Tennessee, the 3rd was transferred to Camp Trousdale east of Nashville in Portland, Sumner County. The camp was in operation from June 2nd to November when it was abandoned due to Union victories in middle Tennessee. It was three miles south of the intersection of Highway 109 and US-31 West.

It was previously a station on the Louisville & Nashville Railroad and close to Nashville offering a good site for the training of raw recruits. During its operation, it was also used as a staging area for Confederate operations along the Tennessee-Kentucky border.

Like Camp Cheatham, disease was a common problem. The 3rd Tennessee moved here to get away from disease July 16, 1861.

Later, a military hispotal was constructed at the fort.

Tennessee units that trained here: 7th, 11th, 18th, 20th, 24th, 32nd, 41st and 44th Infantry and the 1st and 2nd Cavalry Battalions.

Sickness wracked both Union and Confederate camps during the war, primarily since this was the first time most men had been far from home and they came into contact with diseases for which they had no built-up immunity.

The 3rd Tennessee. --Old B-Runner

Saturday, August 13, 2011

3rd Tennessee Deaths at Camp Douglas in Chicago

Conditions experienced at Chicago's Camp Douglas were horrible to say the least. During the seven months of incarceration there in 1862, seventeen died.

1. John M. Bass-- March 11
2. Blooming Birdwell-- Sept. 27
3. D. B. Boswell-- March 7
4. M.P. Branch
5. William P. Burton-- May 1
6. A.E. Cardwell-- Sept. 4
7. John W. Childers
8. Yancey Meredith Griggs-- March 26
9. Richard F. Harwell-- May 13
10. Hiram Helmick-- March 27
11. C.E. Hubble March 16
12. T.C. Hubble (perhaps these two were brothers or related?)
13. E.J. Pateet-- June
14. Levi W. Ross Be
15. J.D. Rutledge-- April 16
16. W.A. Scott-- June
17. James M. Waldrop-- March 26

In addition, William D. Suttle died at the Battle of Bentonville in North Carolina in 1865.

Things weren't all that great at Camp Cheatham either. In June 1861, eight died while there. And, it was a Confederate camp.

The Story of a Regiment. --Old B-Runner

Cape Hatteras Commemoration-- Part2

There will also be a Civil War Conference which is scheduled from Thursday August 25th through Saturday August 27th and features some big names in Civil War history: James M. McPherson, Ed Bearss and Craig L. Symonds.

Attendance to this is open to the public but registration is limited to 250 on a first-come basis. registration is $175 and includes the speakers, three dinners, a monument dedication and much more.

A living history program is scheduled for the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse grounds on Saturday.

For more information

I'd just about pay the $175 to see Ed Bearss. I understand he is quite an experience.

Since August 25th is my 38th wedding anniversary, I doubt that Liz would let me go, anyway.

It's a War Thing. --Old B-R'er

Cape Hatteras Commemoration-- Part 1

From the Summer Hallowed Ground Magazine of the CWPT.

The Friends of The Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum has formed a "Flags Over Hatteras" committee which has organized two events to commemorate the events at Hatteras Inlet 150 years ago.

The BLUE GRAY REUNION is by invitation only to descendants of military personnel who participated in the action at Hatteras Inlet August 28-29, the capture of the USS Fanny on October 1, 1861, (I wrote about this ship earlier this month) and the Chicamacomico Races of August-October 1861.

Activities will include sharing ancestor information, memoirs, journals, photos, relics and artifacts. Speakers and era music will be provided, but registration is required.

I think they should have this open to anyone.

Then, There's a Civil War Conference. --Old B-Runner

Friday, August 12, 2011

Confederate Camp Cheatham

I'd never heard of this camp before, but had driven through Springfield, Tennessee, on US-41 on my way to visit my nephew and his family in White House.

The site was located at 4452 Carter Road and it was a Confederate induction camp erected in April 1861. Named in honor of Confederate General Benjamin F. Cheatham and wasn't even used for a year as it was abandoned after the fall of Fort Donelson in February 1862.

Federal troops later dismantled it and used it to build their own garrison in Springfield. The camp was six miles outside of the city. had a post on it,saying that Camp Cheatham was located at the junction of Main Street and US-41 in Cedar Hill, Tennessee. Cheatham was the first camp commander. Units that trained there were the 3rd Tennessee, 11th Tennessee, 42nd Tennessee, 2nd Kentucky Cavalry which was organized elsewhere.

I also saw that there might have been another Camp Cheatham elsewhere as the 1st Tennessee trained at one in Adams, Tennessee Robertson County).

On July 31, 1861, the 3rd Tennessee was at Camp Cheatham with 885 men present armed with percussion muskets. It was also reported that the unit was suffering from much sickness, especially measles. Several deaths were recorded there.

The 3rd later moved to Camp Trousdale where it was accepted into Confederate service.

I'll Have to Check the Place Out the Next Time I'm There. --Old B-R'er

Naval Affairs 150 Years Ago: Eads Ironclads, More River Help and Confederate Raiders

From the Civil War Naval Chronology.

August 7, 1861-- The War department contracted with J.B. Eads of St. Louis for construction of seven shallow-draft inronclads. The Eads ships, named after river cities: Cairo, Carondolet, Cincinnati, Louisville, Mound City, Pittsburg and St. Louis, were the core of Union Naval forces operating in western waters.

Constructor Samuel M. Pook, USN, assisted in their construction and the ships were sometimes referred to as "Pook's Turtles."

AUGUST 12, 1861-- Gunboats USS Tyler, Lexington and Conestoga, procured and fitted out by Commander J. Rodgers, arrived at Cairo, Illinois, to protect the strategic position at the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers.

AUGUST 13, 1861-- Commander Bulloch, CSN, wrote from London to Confederate Secretary of the Navy Mallory that he had inspected available vessels in England and had not come up with any that would be of service to the new country. Very few wooden ships in the British service "...and their iron ships, though fast, well-built, and staunch enough for voyages of traffic, are too thin in the plates and light in the deck frames and stanchions to carry guns of much weight. I therefore made arrangements to contract with two eminent builders for a gun vessel each...."

One of these would be the CSS Alabama.

Lots Going on Back Then. --Old B-Runner

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Naval Affairs August 5th to August 13th: Today, First Blockade-Runner Destroyed at Wilmington

The blockade at Wilmington, NC, was initiated just a month earlier, July 14th, by the USS Daylight, under Commander Samuel Lockwood.

On today's date, August 11th, 150 years ago, the Blockade Runner Louisa, pursued by the USS Penguin, Commander John L. Livingston, struck a shoal near the Cape Fear River, NC, and sank.

Confedeerate privateers were still causing problems.

Aug. 5th-- Privateer Jefferson Davis captured Santa Clara off Puerto Rico.
Aug. 9th-- Privateer York captured schooner George G. Baker. The USS Union, Commander J.R. Goldsborough, recaptured it. The York was set on fire off Cape Hatteras to prevent her capture by the Union.

Soldiering During the War

The last several blog entries on the 3rd Tennessee gave several insights on being a soldier during the war.

Imagine soldiers today electing their officers?

Regiments generally had around a 1000 men with ten companies of 100 men each. Companies were commanded by a captain. Regiments were commanded by a colonel.

However, regiments and companies were generally not at full strength due to sickness and death. As the war continued, regimental strengths dropped accordingly.

In some cases, new recruits were used to fill the ranks, but often regiments were folded or consolidated with other regiments.

If you were captured, you might get lucky and get paroled at which time you returned to your side, but legally could not soldier again until you were exchanged. Things got rough on Confederate prisons in the last year of the war when the Union stopped exchanging prisoners, one reason Southern prisons gained such a bad reputation.

Off to be a Soldier. --Old B-Runner

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Mount Vernon During the War

From the August 7th Washington Times "Tour shows Mount Vernon's role in Civil War" by Meredith Somers.

Exactly whose side was George Washington's home Mount Vernon on during the conflict? Neither. It was neutral.

A new tour offered at the place relates the Civil War history of Mount Vernon. The crumbling estate at the time had thousands of soldiers visit during the war from both the North and South. The Mount Vernon Ladies Association kept the plantation as neutral as possible. After all, Washington was the Father of His Country for both sides.

A year before the start of the war, Pamela Cunningham, the woman who was aghast at how badly the old mansion and grounds had deteriorated and started the Ladies Association to preserve it, had returned to her home in South Carolina because of a death in the family.

She left her secretary, Sarah Tracey, of New York and a Northerner and Upton Herbert, the plantation's overseer and a Southerner, in charge of it.

They decided that since Mt. Vernon was between the two sides, it should be an "island of neutrality."

Visiting soldiers were asked to check their weapons and were offered blankets to cover their uniforms. The article didn't mention how successful this was.

Soldiers, many of whom had never been more than ten miles from home, looked at and touched everything.

The neutrality of the site saved it from the devastation brought upon the surrounding area.

Postscript, the Northerner Sarah Tracey eventually married Southerner Upton Herbert.

True Love and Saving a Historic Site. --Old B-R'er

3rd Tennessee Infantry-- Part 3

At the reorganization, Calvin Henry Walker was elected colonel. Company H, formerly Co. G, was commanded by Captain D.G. Alexander and had one J.B. McCanless as 1st lieutenant, evidently when he went from the enlisted to officer ranks. With recruits, the company stood at 101 rank and file.

The regiment was involved in the Vicksburg campaign, but was not in the city when it surrendered. After the fall of Atlanta, the regiment went with General Hood on his tennessee campaign, arriving too late, fortunately, for the disasterous Battle of Franklin.

They later were detached to Gen. Forrest's command at Murfreesboro and were not at the Battle of Nashville. Rear guard duty was their lot in the retreat to Alabama.

According to a December 21, 1864, report the 3rd and 18th Tennessee were consolidated with a total of 17 men present.

This remnant went with what was left of the Army of the Tennessee to North Carolina where they were again merged into the 4th Consolidated Tennessee Infantry on April 9, 1865 and they surrendered with General Johnston on April 26th. McCanless and the others were paroled iat Greensboro, NC on May 1, 1865.

The Decline and Fall of the Confederacy. --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

3rd Tennessee Infantry-- Part 2

Camp Cheatham was located near Springfield, Tennessee.

On February 8, 1862, the regiment, numbering 750 men, was at Fort Donelson, Tennessee and was captured with 13 killed and 56 wounded.

The officers were sent to Fort Warren, Massachusetts, and Camp Chase in Ohio. NCOs and enlisted were booked for a steamboat trip to Camp Douglas in Chicago, including Jerome McCanless and the rooster Jake.

This would mean he was not an officer when captured at Fort Donelson.

A few of the 3rd escaped the confines, but the rest suffered through a Chicago winter with insufficient food and clothing. At least twelve died at the camp while others died on the northward journey.

They were paroled September 23, 1862.

Sent to Vicksburg, Mississippi, they were no longer prisoners, but couldn't rejoin the Confederate Army until they were exchanged, which happened November 10th.

They reorganized in Jackson, Mississippi with 607 present.

Colonel John C. Brown, their former commander, was now a brigadier general and called away to Bragg's Army at Chattanooga.

Parole Me. Exchange Me. --Old B-R'er

The Schoolhouse Restaurant, Camp Dennison,Ohio-- Part 2

Due to a goof, you can find the rest of the story as some radio announcer used to say, on an entry from today at my RoadLog Blog at

I hate when that happens.

I Must Learn to Pay More Attention. --Old B-Runner

Monday, August 8, 2011

3rd Tennessee Infantry-- Part 1

Last week, I wrote about the rooster, Jake Donelson, who accompanied his company in this regiment and was captured at Fort Donelson, spent 7 months at Camp Douglas in Chicago as a "prisoner" before being "exchanged" and living out his days in Tennessee before dying in 1864 when he was given military honors.

I did some more research on this regiment, especially since at least some of its men were sent to Camp Douglas, the name of the Sons of Confederate Veterans Camp I belong to. From 3rd Tennessee

At least a dozen members died during their incarceration at this prison camp.

They were organized under a sugar maple tree at Lynnville Station in Giles County, Tennessee.

Company H was commanded by Captain George W. Jones from Culleoka in Maury County. John Calvin Brown of Pulaski was elected colonel of the regiment.

They received their training at Camp Cheatham near Springfield, Tennessee.

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

The Schoolhouse Restaurant, Camp Dennison, Ohio-- Part 1

Saturday, I wrote about this restaurant outside of Cincinnati which was built in 1863 and reportedly Abraham Lincoln visited. It is in a town called Camp Dennison which was a Union training facility during the war and later a hospital.

I do not know if the structure is located within what used to be the boundaries of Camp Dennison or outside it. If it was inside the camp, I doubt that it would have been built with the initial purpose of being a school.

Perhaps a hospital administrative building would have been a use, but then again, if the army wasn't planning on keeping the camp, I doubt they would have built it out of brick.

According to the Schoolhouse website, the building was constructed in 1863, the first school in the Midwest with a second story. Today is features family-style dining with lazy Susans, fried chicken, roast beef and meatloaf.

There have been three school buildings in the Camp Dennison area. The first one was a log structure which no longer exists.

The second one was a brick building that still stands as a private residence, but has had siding put on it and is hard to recognize as a former school. Area children used it until the Civil War.

Landowners in the area (then called Little Germany and Big Bottom) leased their land to the government for use as a training facility and most families moved away, which makes me wonder why they would have built a school in 1863.

More to Come. --Old B-Runner

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Camp Dennison, Ohio-- Part 2

During the course of the war, some 50,000 troops trained there and at its peak, 12,000 were at the camp.

During Jenkins' 1862 and Morgan's 1863 raids, men from the camp deployed to meet the threat.

Shortly after the Battle of Shiloh, a 200+ hospital was set up on the grounds and wooden barracks were converted to hospital wards.

Men died at the hospital, and temporarily 340 Union and 31 Confederate prisoners were buried at Waldschmidt Cemetery before being reinterred in the late 1860s at Spring Grove Cemetery and Camp Chase in Columbus.

The camp was deactivated in September 1865 and over time, the small town of Camp Dennison grew up around it. Many later barns and homes were built from lumber and materials from the camp.

In 1973, two remaining buildings from the fort/camp were entered into the National Register for Historic Places as the Waldschmidt-Camp Dennison Historic District.

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

Camp Dennison, Ohio-- Part 1

In my Roadlog Blog from today, I wrote about the Schoolhouse Restaurant in Camp Dennison (Cincinnati) which was built in 1863 and supposedly Abraham Lincoln visited it. This would be a definite Civil War tie-in. Plus, I seemed to remember a Camp Dennison being a training camp for Union troops in Ohio during the war. Since quite a few Union training camps were turned into Confederate prison camps, perhaps this one was too.

Friend Denny Gibson made a comment saying he had been to the restaurant and that it had been a training camp and also a hospital. He didn't know about it being a prison and that it had a small museum.

I had to do some research on it.

Thanks good old Wikipedia.

The camp was a military training and medical post near Cincinnati. It was named after that city's native and governor of Ohio at the beginning of the war, William Dennison.

The site was chosen by Captain (later general) William S. Rosecrans with much of the land being leased from local farmers who really made out like bandits, getting $12 to $20 an acre a month, a huge amount of money back then. It was laid out on April 24, 1861, just 12 days after the firing on Fort Sumter.

Mighty Rich Farmers. --Old B-R'er

The Rooster Who Went to War and Camp Douglas-- Part 2

OK, so Jake Donelson survived the Yankees up north in Chicago as well as hungry Confederate prisoners. Now he's back in the South, in Mississippi. His owner, Jerome McCanless had an itinerant artist paint his portrait. Jake returned to the McCanless household in Cornersville, his war days over. He died peacefully in 1864 and was given a military burial.

His owner continued to fight and took part in the actions at Vicksburg, Atlanta, Nashville and surrendered in North Carolina with Johnston's Army. He died in 1906 and reportedly often brought his portrait of Jake along with him to Confederate reunions.

The exact location of Jake Donelson's grave is not known, but his story will be on one of the four Civil War Trails plaques to be erected in Marshall County.

A Real Fighter, That Rooster. --Old B-Runner

Friday, August 5, 2011


This past Wednesday, I noted that the first balloon ascension from a self-propelled warship took place on August 3, 1861. In effect, making the USS Fanny, the first aircraft carrier. (Several times earlier, balloons were launched from a barge, but that had to be towed.)

I looked up the Fanny and found that it was classified as either a gunboat, a supply ship and that it was operated by the US Quartermaster Corps.

Balloonist John LaMountain made several ascensions from it.

Later in the war, the Fanny was captured by Confederates and became the CSS Fanny and part of the North Carolina Mosquito Fleet before it was burned to prevent capture February 10, 1862.

Not Exactly an Impressive Name for a Warship. --Old B-R'er

The Rooster Who Went to War and Camp Douglas-- Part 1

From the August 5th Marshall County (Tn) Tribune "Civil War rooster's portrait to be displayed" by Karen Hall.

George F. McCanless, the great-great nephew of the man who bought the rooster named Jake Donelson, will speak to the local historical society this Sunday about the bird and show a painting of it.

The account was first published in the April 1862 issue of the Civil War Times.

Company H, 3rd Tennessee regiment organized at Cornersville, Tennessee in the spring of 1861. One of its lieutenants, Jerome B. McCanless, while the group was training at Camp Cheatham, boght some chickens to eat from a local farmer. One was a young red rooster, who they noted was a really good fighter which saved him from being eaten.

They name him Jake and he fought rival companies' roosters with great success. The bird traveled with the company to its deployments and was captured along with the regiment by Union General U.S. Grant at Fort Donelson on February 16, 1862.

The Union soldiers didn't eat Jake, who became known as Jake Donelson, and he accompanied the prisoners to Camp Douglas in Chicago where he survived seven months incarceration, especially something considering the lack of food the Confederates received. That must have been some bird.

Jake and the soldiers were exchanged at Vicksburg, Mississippi.

More to Come. --Old B-Runner

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The USS Monitor Looking for Your Old Radiator

From the August 2nd Channel 13 WVEC News, in Newport News.

The Mariners Museum is asking for old sinks, bathtubs and especially radiators, essentially anything made of cast iron. they will use it to recreate the USS Monitor.

Right now, visitors to the museum get the unprecedented chance to see the turret in its tank with the water drained out as museum staff work in it. At the end of the month, the tank will be filled and it probably won't be for another five years that it will be viewed by the public out of the water.

In the meantime, visitors cab see a full-size replica of the Monitor at the museum.

I sure would like to get there to see it, but doubt that I will be able to do so.

Too Bad. --Old B-R'er

USS Monitor Turret Raised This Day in 2002

Old news, but I didn't have this blog back in 2002, so I'll go back to it.

From the August 5, 2002, Daily Press "Historic USS Monitor turret raised" by Mark St. John Erickson.

It was silt-packed and coral encrusted and an American flag hung from it, but this date, August 4th, 2002, the turret of this historic ship broke the surface for the first time in over 140 years to the applause and cheers of the boat crew.

It was at the end of a heavy cable attached to a crane sitting on a 300-foot work barge.

The date was Monday and they had expected to raise it a day earlier, but bad surface water and currents below delayed it. Divers had to descend to attach 100 pound shackles to a claw-like lifting device that had been bolted to the turret.

At one point, it was hoped to lift the whole vessel, but the hull had deteriorated too far to attempt it.

The turret was lifted five feet at first so that a steel lifting frame could be put in place under the 120-ton artifact. In addition, there were two 15,750 pound cannons in it.

Skeletal remains had been recovered from the wreck earlier. They were packed in ice and inside insulated containers to be sent to the US Central Identification Laboratory in Hawaii.

Looking Forward to Seeing That Turret. Talk About Your Civil War and US Navy Artifact. --Old B-Runner

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A Big Day in Naval History Today: Naval Aviation and Steel Navy

From the Civil War Naval Chronology for August 3, 1861, 150 years ago.

I've been getting this off the web, but it turns out I also have the book.

This date, 150 years ago:

** JOHN LaMOUNTAIN ascended from a balloon from the deck of the USS Fanny at Hampton Roads to observe Confederate batteries at Sewell's Point, Virginia. This would be the beginning of Naval Aviation.

** Also this date: Congress authorized Secretary of the Navy Welles to "appoint a board of three skillful naval officers to investigate the plans and specifications that may be submitted for the construction or completing of iron or steel-clad steamships or steam batteries...there is hereby appointed...the sum of one million five hundred thousand dollars."

Commodore Joseph Smith, Captain Hiram Pauling and Commander Charles H. Davis appointed to the Ironclad Board August 8th. The beginning of the steel navy.

Also this date:

** The USS Wabash, Captain Mercer, recaptured the American schooner Mary Alice, which had been taken by the Confederate privateer Dixie. It also captured the blockade-running brig Sarah Starr, off Charleston, SC.

** The USS South Carolina, Commander Alden, engaged Confederate batteries at Galveston, Texas.

Quite a Day for the US Navy. --Old B-R'er

Richard Kidder Meade-- Part 5

For a guy I had never heard of before, this is getting pretty deep.

The ex-US Congressman Meade died April 20, 1862. His son, the Confederate officer died July 31, 1862. So, they died just over three months apart.


** December 1860 armament: four 42-pdrs, fourteen 24-pdrs, four 8-inch seacoast howitzers, one 10-inch mortar, and four light artillery pieces.

** December 3, 1860, Lt. J.C. Davis (no relation to future Confederate President Davis) and twenty laborers placed in the fort.

** December 11, 1860, Lt. Meade relieves Lt. Davis of command. The garrison now at 4 mechanics, 30 laborers and an ordnance sergeant and his family.

** December 20, 1860, South Carolina secedes.

And It Continues. --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The History of Macomb's Civil War Cannon-- Part 2

Robert P. Parrott, a USMA graduate and later owner of the West Point Foundry in New York, established 1836. During the Civil War, his company became a major supplier of the Union war effort.

He provided artillery at cost, refusing to make a profit.

One innovative design his company came up with was a rifled cannon with a distinctive cast iron band at the breech to provide reinforcement.

The 4.2-inch 30 pound rifle that came to Macomb was capable of firing a 29 pound explosive shell nearly four miles with great accuracy and force.

Many different sizes of Parrott rifles were made, but this particular one was the most popular. But, at 4200 pounds, it was too heavy for field operations and most-often used for siege or defense operations.

The Chandler Park Parrott was cast in 1864, gun #367. Beyond that, none of its history is known, but there is a chance it might have been used at Petersburg, Savannah or in Washington DC's defenses.

Today, fewer than 200 of the cannons remain.

Parrtt Rifles. --Old B-Runner

The History of Macomb's Civil War Cannon-- Part 1

From the July 31st McDonough County (Il) Voice ""A look at the history of Macomb's Civil War Cannon" by Walter Burnett.

I'm always interested in the histories of various Civil War cannons you see by courthouses, parks and cemeteries. This was a very informative article.

The McDonough Post #103 Grand Army of the Republic back in the early 1900s wanted to place a field cannon capable of firing salutes at Chandler Park in Macomb, Illinois. The park had been donated to the city in 1893 by C.V. Chandler and the Soldiers' Monument was already there.

In 1906, the post contacted their Congressman James McKinney who forwarded it to the US Army Ordnance Department. In 1908, they replied that they had no field pieces from the war, but did have a surplus Parrott rifle available for the cost of shipping it ($100) from an arsenal in New York.

The post obtained city permission to place it in the park and public donations funded the shipping.

And, that is how the cannon came to be in the park.

What Is a Parrott Rifle? --Old B-R'er

Richard Kidder Meade-- Part 4

I'm spending quite a bit of time researching this young man whose life was cut way too short by typhoid. It would have been interesting to see what he would have accomplished in the Civil War.

I came across another Virginia Richard Kidder Meade on Wikipedia, born July 29, 1803, and died April 20, 1862, just three months before the Meade I've been researching. Perhaps his father? The dates would match up and both from the same state with the same name.

The other Meade was a US Representative from Virginia from 1843 to 1853, a good way to get a son into the military academy. Plus, he was appointed US Minister to Brazil from 1857 to 1861. He resigned from the position and returned to Virginia to help the Confederacy.

I now know that this Meade was the Meade who was a Confederate officer's father.

There was also another Richard Kidder Meade from Virginia whose grandfather had been the governor of North Carolina and had served with Washington during the American Revolution. He died in 1805, perhaps a grandfather?

It Just Keeps Getting Deeper. --Old B-Runner

Monday, August 1, 2011

Richard Kidder Meade's Personal Effects Lead Auction-- Part 3

I looked up this man who was at Fort Sumter on one side, then fought on the other side and found out some more information.

After Major Anderson moved to Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor, Lt. Meade was put in command of Castle Pinckney on December 7, 1860. His command consisted of Sgt. Skollen, Skollen's wife and 16-year-old daughter and about 30 workers.

Confederates were livid with Anderson's move to Sumter. Future Confederate General James Johnston Pettigrew and three militia units boarded a steamer and went to Castle Pinckney. Pettigrew ordered his men to fix bayonets and shoot anyone manning cannons and preparing to fire at them.

Meade saw the approaching vessel and ordered the workers to close the fort's gate. Pettigrew ordered a surrender, but Meade did not respond whereupon, the Confederates scaled the walls and captured the fort.

Down came the US flag and the ship's flag, a white star on a red field went up in its place. The date was December 27, 1860, and Csastle Pinckney became the first Federal military installation forcibly captured by Confederates.

Meade was sent to Fort Sumter and Sgt. Skollen and his family sent north.

The Fall of a Fort. --Old B-Runner