The Battle of Fort Fisher, N.C.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Fort Defiance, Illinois

From Aug. 21st WSIL Channel 3 News.

Spring floods have left the site, at the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers in really bad shape. It is now overgrown.

During the Civil War, Fort Defiance, also called Camp Defiance, was very important strategically. U.S. Grant once commanded the place. In May 2011, the whole city of Cairo, Illinois, just to the north of the fort, was evacuated. Levees to the south of town were breached by the Army Corps of Engineers to save the place.

During the war, there were ironclads built 6 miles up the Mississippi at Mound City. These ironclads patrolled it.

A Forgotten Civil War Site? --Old B-R'er

40th North Carolina Regiment

The 40th Regiment NC State Troops, (3rd Artillery) was organized at Bald head on Smith's Island, North Carolina in November 1853, from heavy artillery companies formed in 1861 and 1862.

Its 1152 men came from Lenoir, Beaufort, Pamlico, Richmond, Robeson. Wayne, Wilson, Edgecombe, Green, New Hanover, Bladen, Anson and Chatham counties in North Carolina.

They were attached to the Confederate Department of North Carolina and Southern Virginia.

Detachments of the regiment served at Fort Holmes, Fort Caswell. Fort Campbell, Fort Anderson and Fort Fisher in the Wilmington/Cape Fear River area.

In 1865, after the fall of Wilmington, they were converted to infantry and fought at Bentonville ansd surrendered with the Army of the Tennessee April 26, 1865.

Commanders of the unit were Col. John Hedrick, Lt.Col. George Tait and Major William A. Holland.

A Real Cape Fear River Group. --Old B-Runner

Saturday, October 29, 2011

And, then There Were Those Privateers

From the Oct. 27th Choctaw Plaindealer.

While the Monitor was being built, a trial was going on in New York City as well involving 14 crew members of the Confederate Privateer Savannah who had been captured and were being charged with piracy and treason, both punishable by death.

The Savannah led a short career after receiving permission to privateer from Confederate President Jefferson Davis. It sailed out of Charleston Harbor and captured a ship the first day out. After returning with it, the Savannah made the mistake of attacking a Naval ship, the USS Perry and being captured.

President Davis contacted President Lincoln saying that if the Savannah's crew were executed, 14 Union prisoners would die in retaliation.

The trial began October 23, 1861, and lasted eight days. After a day and night deliberation, the jury's foreman reported they couldn't reach a decision. The jury was dismissed, but crew still held.

In November, 14 Union officers were chosen by lot by the Confederates to meet the same fate as whatever awaited the Savannah's crew.

The Lincoln administration backed down and in February 1862, the privateer's crew was transferred to a POW camp and later exchanged, saving the lives of the Union officers.

So, a Lot of Naval Stuff happening This Week 150 Years Ago. --Old B-R'er

The USS Monitor

From the Oct. 27th Choctaw Plaindealer "The Civil War--New Naval Era for North and South" by C.J. Johnson.

On Oct. 25, 1861, the keel of the Monitor was laid in Greenpoint, New York, after the US government heard rumors that the Confederacy was rushing to complete an ironclad of their own. The Ironclad Board, appointed by Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles gave their approval to start for Swedish-born John Ericsson to begin work in September.

The 987 ton Monitor's wooden keel was laid at the Continental Ironworks. Carpenters worked around the clock on the wooden inner structure while iron plating was being made.

The 172-foot long, 41-foot wide ship was remarkable in that its deck was only 18 inches above the water, and, of course, its twenty foot cylindrical revolving turret mounting two 11-inch Dahlgren guns. Furthermore, the ship was powered only by steam as there was no rigging. drawing 11 feet, the ship could operate in shallow waters as well.

The ship was completed very quickly, but still missed its original Jan. 12, 1862, launch date, not hitting the water until Jan. 30.

After some engine problems were solved, the Monitor was commissioned February 24th and just two weeks later, fought that Confederate ironclad, the CSS Virginia on March 6th.

This Turned Naval Architecture On Its Ear. --Old B-Runner

Friday, October 28, 2011

A Confederate Soldier Finally Comes Home

From the Nov. 14, 2010, Fayetteville (NC) Observer.

Private Edward Cashwell left his wife and five young children to serve his country and state, the Confederacy and North Carolina, and ended up dying May 13, 1863, at the Fort Fisher hospital and his remains were never returned to his family in Cumberland and Bladen counties. Instead, he was buried in a mass grave with six others.

This past Saturday, the Sons of Confederate Veterans buried a small casket full of dirt from that mass grave next to the grave of his wife at a small cemetery east of Stedman on NC Highway 24.

His great-great grandson, James Cashwell attended and said he knew nothing of Edward until the SCV told him.

Edward Cashwell died of typhoid fever, 15 months after enlisting at the age of 29. His wife, Elizabeth Riley Cashwell, died in 1914.

Officiating at the service, the reverend Herman White said, "He may not have died from an enemy's bullet, but he was just as much of a hero as if he did."

Good to have Him Home At Long Last. --Old B-Runner

95th Illinois Flag on Display-- Part 2

Some 250,000 Illinois soldiers served during the war, most in Illinois regiments. Each regiment had two flags: the National and regimental. It was considered a great honor to carry either flag. However, carrying one made you a major target of the enemy and casualties for doing so were very high.

The 95th served from 1862 to 1865 in Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri and Alabama. During that time, the unit traveled over 9,000 miles.

The flag on display is six-foot square with fringes on three sides and a swatch missing (probably taken as a souvenir). Most likely, it was made in Philadelphia owing to the elliptical pattern of stars which was a hallmark of flags made in that city.

I'll Have to See It Next Time I'm in Town. --Old B-R'er

95th Illinois Flag on Display-- Part 1

From the June 14th Springfield (Il) State Journal Register "Civil War battlefield flag goes on display at Old State Capital" by Chris Dettro.

The flag of the 95th Illinois Infantry Regiment has gone on display at Illinois' Old State Capitol Building in Springfield in honor of the 150th anniversary of the war. This flag is of special interest to me because the men in the regiment were recruited from the country where I live, McHenry and Boone County. It is on loan from the Illinois Military Museum at Camp Lincoln in Springfield.

The Boone County Historical Society and McHenry County Civil War Round Table raised $40,000 to pay for the flag's conservation.

You can see it above what was the adjutant's office during the Civil War, where one U.S. Grant, then a colonel, worked in 1861.

Proud to Have the Colors on View. --Old B-Runner

Thursday, October 27, 2011

A Museum's Odd and Rare Artifacts

Thanks to the Civil War Interactive Blog for alerting me to this story.

From the Oct. 21st Cecil Whig's "Army museum's oddities resettle in Silver Springs." AP.

The National Museum of Health and Medicine has the bullet that killed President Abraham Lincoln as well as some of his skull fragments along with a rather large collection of morbid objects.

In September, it moved from the former Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington, DC, to new quarters in Silver Springs, Maryland, where it is outside a military base where a security clearance is not required to enter.

They have over 25 million objects, including a hairball from the stomach of a 12-year-old girl, the amputated leg from a man with elephantiasis. Also, there is a section of President Garfield's (Civil War veteran) spine that was pierced by assassin Charles Guiteau's gun as well as Guiteau's brain and partial skeleton.

The new place will be closing in January and reopen in July with it's largest-ever exhibit in honor of the institution's 150th anniversary since its founding in 1862. It has been located in ten different places since then.


In 1862, US Surgeon general William Hammons directed medical doctors in the field to collect "specimens of morbid anatomy" for study along with projectiles and foreign bodies.

One Civil War photo in their collection shows a huge pile of amputated legs stacked like firewood.

They also have the shattered bones of US Army Major general Daniel Sickle's lower right leg beside a 12-pound cannonball like the one that shattered his leg at the Battle of Gettysburg. I think I've heard tell that he would go to the center to visit his leg after the war.

Also in the collection are 2,000 microscopes and hundreds of thousands of brain segments at off-site warehouses.

Something Else to See in the DC Area. --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Running the Blockade: Flag Flap-- Housing Market Crash Good for NPS

Running the Blockade: New News about an Old War.

1. FLAG FLAP-- And when is there not one. It seems that there are some people who won't bw happy until all vestiges of the Confederate flag are removed.

This time it is over flag tee shirts being worn by some students in Dowagiac, Michigan. The administration has banned them. I saw a photo of a tee shirt and found nothing offensive with it. It said "If you're offended by this you need to brush up on your history" or something to that effect.

2. HOUSING MARKET CRASH GOOD FOR NPS-- Jim Bievenour has two and a half acres of land across from the entrance to the Gettysburg Museum and Visitor Center and was trying to sell it. The housing crash caused him to drop his price from $400,000 to $300,000 when he sold it to a partner of the National Park Service.

Overall, the NPS has bought 112 acres since the 2008 crash.

Give the FLAG a BREAK!! --Old B-R'er

An Early Submarine Attack?

From the Civil War Naval Chronology.

October 9, 1861

According to the chronology, this date marked the first documented attempt to sink and enemy ship with a submarine in the Civil War. The target was the USS Minnesota, the location Hampton Roads, Virginia.

The attack failed when the submarine got caught up in some grappling hanging over the Minnesota's jib boom (which its occupants mistook for an anchor cable). The strange vessel escaped.

An October 12th newspaper reported that a Confederate deserter claimed the sub employed an India rubber suction plate to attach to its target and then was to plant a timed bomb on the hull.

I did some research, but never found any other mention of the attack. Of interest, the US Navy currently has a nuclear submarine under construction named the Minnesota.


October 10, 1861

The USS Daylight, Cmdr. Lockwood, silenced a Confederate battery attacking the American ship John Clark anchored at Lynnhaven Bay, Virginia. This was the ship that started the blockade of Wilmington.

OCTOBER 18th-- The USS Gemsbok, Acting Master Cavendy, captured the brig Ariel off Wilmington with a cargo of salt. (With that cargo, it was probably inbound.)

It's a Sea Thing. --Old B-Runner

Monday, October 24, 2011

Some More Naval Activity 150 Years Ago

From the Civil War Naval Chronology.

OCTOBER 22nd-- Report that Confederate batteries commanded the Potomac River below Alexandria. Washington, DC, essentially blockaded, by water, anyway.

OCTOBER 23rd-- The crew of the Confederate privateer Savannah go on trial for "piracy" in New York City. This caused quite a diplomatic situation.

OCTOBER 25th-- John Ericcson began work on his Monitor. Less than five months later, it fought the CSS Virginia. Quite a remarkably fast construction time.

Flag Officer DuPont stresses the importance of training by the Navy for amphibious landings. Says he had landed a brigade of troops in a training exercise.

OCTOBER 26th-- The CSS Nashville escapes the blockade of Charleston, SC. Union intelligence incorrectly had Slidell and Mason on board the ship.

OCTOBER 27-28th-- Boat crews from the USS Louisiana burned three Confederate vessels at Chincoteagwa Inlet, Virginia. The Louisiana later became the powder ship exploded at Fort Fisher Christmas Eve 1864.

And, It Was an Amphibious Assault That Finally Did Fort Fisher In in 1865. --Old B-R'er

This Week in the Civil War

From AP's This Week in the Civil War.

Taking a look at the upcoming events taking place 150 years ago.


The Transcontinental telegraph was completed coast-to-coast. The last part between Nebraska and Nevada finished and now direct contact between the two oceans. The telegraph revolutinized warfare.

You don't hear much about the use in naval affairs, but I'm sure it was.


Commander of the US Army, General Winfield Scott, retired because of age and infirmity. It was his plan to blockade the Confederacy and cut it into parts along rivers that became known as Scott's Anaconda Plan.


The Battle of Port Royal gave the Union a really important base between Charleston and Savannah.

And, real soon, there was the Trent Affair on the 7th.

Lots Going On Along the Naval Front. --Old B-Runner

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Fort's Haunted, Fort Fisher, That Is

Not only do Confederate soldiers haunt Fort Fisher (probably some Yankees as well), but also stories abound that a Confederate general does as well.

From Creepy

Fort Fisher, an almost impregnable fortress finally fell to an attack of practically the entire Union fleet and the fact that Confederate General Bragg refused to help the fort. (Well, there was also the Union Army and the Naval Column.)

Confederate General W.H.C. Whiting was wounded and later died from complications of it in a Union prison. Reports have his spirit keeping a ghostly watch out to sea from the fort's remaining parapets.

Whiting did not have to be at the fort during the attack Jan. 13-15, 1865, but came anyway, saying to the fort's commander, Col. William Lamb, "Lamb, my boy. I have come to share your fate."

He was born in Mississippi and graduated West Point at the top of his class and was once also a division commander in the Army of Northern Virginia.

During the hand-to-hand fighting after Union forces gained entrance into the fort, at one point he was called upon to surrender and replied, "Go to hell!!." I've also heard his words were, "Go to hell you Yankee bastards."

Stories are that you can see his ghost on the parapets at dusk.

That About Boos Up the Story. --Old B-Runner

Friday, October 21, 2011

If It's Halloween, It Must Be Fort Fisher

From the Encore Online. Wilmington's Alternative Newspaper.

A "Spooktacular" planned at the old fort by the Fort Fisher State Recreation Team this Saturday, Oct. 21st. Include will be true ghost stories, gory games, hayrides, trick-or-treating and lots of other activities.

For those of you wanting a little more scare for your buck, there is the hour-long 3rd Annual Ghost Walk along trails normally closed to the public.

One ghost often seen is a Confederate guard.

A ranger at the park was locking up when she had a strange sensation that she was being watched. When getting into her car, she saw a "man in blue pants" walking toward her. He disappeared when she shone her flashlight his way.

Also, there is the famous Fort Fisher Hermit who occupied a World War II bunker for many years until he turned up mysteriously murdered in 1972.

Too Spooky for Me. --Old B-Runner

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Looking for the CSS Nashville

From the Oct. 17th Civil War Daily Gazette

Octiber 17, 1861, Thursday

The US Navy thought the two Confederate envoys, John Slidell and James Mason had boarded the CSS Nashville for their trip out of Charleston Harbor. The USS James Adger and USS Curlew were dispatched to intercept it. The Curlew was short on coal and turned back, but the Adger went all the way to England pursuing the Nashville.

The USS Connecticut was sent to Bermuda to gather any information it could on the Nashville and then to return to the New York Naval Yard if nothing could be found.

Meanwhile, Mason and Slidell were already in Cuba, arriving on the Theodora. Before reaching Havana, however, the coal supply was short and a stop was made in Cardenas, 100 miles to the east. The Theodora was accompanied by a Spanish steamer at this juncture, having helped guide the blockade-runner through the waters around the Bahamas.

There was a delay because the papers of clearance were for Havana and not Cardenas. During the day, Mason and Slidell landed.

By the time the two got to Havana, they found that they had just missed a ship bound for England by a day. The next ship going there was not set to leave for three weeks.

Missed It By [] Much. --Old B-R'er

USS San Jacinto

The USS Jacinto was a wooden screw steamship commissioned in 1851 and mounting six guns that was out seeking the Sumter. It spent a lot of its career chasing after Confederate raiders.

Earlier it had been off Wilmington, NC, on blockade duty.

After seeking the Sumter, commanded by Raphael Semmes, unsuccessfully, it had stopped at Cienfuegos, Cuba, for coal.

After the Trent Affair, it later chased after Semmes again, this time while he commanded the CSS Alabama. First it was off the coast of Nova Scotia. When it was found the Alabama had gone to the Caribbean, the San Jacinto followed and a period of hide-and-seek between the two ships took place.

The San Jacinto finally caught up with the Confederate raider at Fort Royal, Martinique, but the Alabama managed to slip out.

Much of 1863 was spent looking for another raider, the CSS Florida.

Setting the Stage for the Trent. --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

CSS Sumter

The USS San Jacinto under Captain Charles Wilkes had been searching for the Confederate cruiser Sumter and at Cuba when he learned that the Confederate commissioners Slidell and Mason were in Havana. he waited off the coast until the RMS Trent left with them aboard and so began the international incident.


The CSS Sumter was originally built in Philadelphia in 1859 as the merchant ship Habana. It was purchased by the Confederate government in New Orleans in April 1861 and converted into a cruiser. renamed the Sumter and under the command of Rahael Semmes, it slipped through the blockade in late June, capturing eight US-flagged ships off Cuba and two more near Brazil.

In September and October, it captured two more in Caribbean waters.

So, that was Why Wilkes Was Near Cuba. --Old B-R'er

CSS Nashville

Union authorities believed Confederate commissioners John Slidell and James Mason had left Charleston aboard the CSS Nashville which is why ships were sent to look for her. Mason and Slidell had originally considered taking the Nashville, but had canceled their plans when word got out and taken the Theodora instead.

From Wikipedia.

The CSS Nashvillewas originally the USMS Nashville (US Mail Service Ship), built in Greenpoint, Brooklyn (obviously, a lot of ships built there) in 1853.

During the bombardment of Fort Sumter, the Nashville blundered into Charleston harbor without flying the US flag and was accidentally fired upon by the USRC Harriet Lane, the first shots of the Naval war.

The Nashville was later seized by Confederates and fitted out as a cruiser under Lt. Robert Pegram, CSN. It ran the blockade of Charleston October 21, 1861, and sailed directly to Southampton, England, where it became the first to fly the Confederate flag in English waters.

That did not end its naval career, however.

Perhaps Mason and Slidell Should Have Taken the Nashville Anyway. then There Would Not Have Been the Trent Affair. --Old B-Runner

Monday, October 17, 2011

In the Meantime, Looking for the Confederate Commissioners

When Confederate commissioners Slidell and Mason arrived in Havana, the USS San Jacinto, commanded by Captain Charles Wilkes, put into the Cuban town of Cienfuegos while searching for the Confederate cruiser Sumter.

When he learned of the Theodora's arrival, he hurried around Cuba to capture the ship, but arrived a day after the ship left. But, Slidell and Mason were still there and awaiting transportation to England on the Trent.

His wait paid off and he stopped the Trent and seized the two on November 8th, setting off quite an international incident.

Not Nice of Wilkes. --Old B-R'er

Blockade-Runner Theodora-- Part 2

The Theodora returned from Havana to Charleston Nov. 4, 1861, and returned Dec. 4th.

On May 28, 1862, the Theodora, under the command of Captain Walker, was captured by the USS Victoria and a prize crew put aboard. The ship was found to be carrying a cargo of Enfield rifles, arms, clothing and medicine for the Confederacy.

I have found out nothing about what happened to the Theodora after that.

Actually, in Wikipedia's article on the USS Victoria, the vessel was named Nassau at the time it was captured, and another source listed that as being one of the names of the vessel.

The USS Victoria was aided by the USS State of Georgia in the capture and it occurred near Fort Caswell, protecting the entrance to Old Inlet of the Cape Fear River leading to Wilmington, NC. It didn't say if the Nassau was operating out of Wilmington or if it had been chased up the coast from Charleston.

A month later, the Victoria along with Union ships Mount Vernon and Mystic chased the blockade-runner Emily aground and destroyed it off Fort Caswell, heading for Wilmington.

So Much for a Blockade-Runner. --Old B-Runner

Friday, October 14, 2011

Blockade-Runner Theodora-- Part 1


The Theodora was a 175-foot long, 7-foot draft steamer capable of 16 knots and carrying a crew of 50. It was originally named the Carolina, then became the Gordon, then the Theodora and finally the Nassau. (I found it mentioned in another source as being a sister ship of the Carolina.)

It had a mixed career as a blockade-runner along with stints in Confederate service as a transport and armed picket ship.

It was built at Greenpoint, NY, in 1852, and worked as a coastal packet out of Charleston, SC, occasionally crossing to Havana.

At the outbreak of the war, it was strengthened and refitted as the Gordon and given a Letter of Marque to operate as a privateer under the command of Captain T.J. Lockwood.

On July 15, 1861, it was disarmed and operated as the Theodora and carried Confederate envoys James Mason and John Slidell Oct. 12, 1861. (The Civil War Gazette said the name was changed after Mason and Slidell chartered it.)

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

Mason and Slidell Run the Blockade-- Part 2

James Mason and John Slidell now even considered journeying to Mexico to embark on their trans-Atlantic journey. But then, they found the Gordon, a 500-ton sidewheel steamer, which had already run the blockade several times and was under the capable command of Captain Thomas J. Lockwood.

It was not, however, big enough to go directly to England, so the two men who have to go to Havana, Cuba, and get another ship to get across the Atlantic. At least, this part of the trip would be on a neutral ship.

Should a neutral ship be stopped by the US Navy and mason and Slidell taken off, this would cause an international incident.

On October 9th, the Gordon was chartered for $10,000 and its name changed to Theodora (probably because it had also previously been a privateer). The Confederate envoys boarded it on the night of October 11th. Slidell also had his wife and four children with him and his secretary had his whole family along as well.

At 1 am, the following morning, the Theodora exited Charleston Harbor in the rain and clouds and passed within a mile and a half of one Union ship and was on its way to Havana. mason and Slidell were on their way to a date with history when they were stopped on the British ship Trent.

Really Running the Blockade. --Old B-Runner

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Mason and Slidell Run the Blockade-- Part 1

From the October 12th Civil War Daily Gazette.

October 12, 1861, Saturday.

One day ago, 150 years ago, Confederate commissioners James Mason and John Slidell, aboard the blockade-runner, former privateer, Theodora, ran through the blockade of Charleston, SC, headed for Havana and an eventual date with destiny aboard the British ship Trent.

This was another one of those stories that started off with an initial source and then grew and grew.

Britain had classified the Confederacy as a belligerent. As such, the country could buy arms and seize ships. however, the Confederacy was looking for something more along the way of recognition as a sovereign nation.

Three steamers and one sloop-of-war were blockading Charleston at the time. Slidell and Mason were looking for a vessel to leave Charleston in. The steamer Nashville was available and was fast and large enough to go all the way to England. However, word of their intention got out and the Nashville was dropped.

Finding Another Ship. --Old B-Runner

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Swords from Battle of Mobile Bay in Question-- Part 3

I came across this article from the Sept. 28th 41 WMGT NBC News "Cannonball House Could Involve Bibb County DA in Legal Battle Over Civil War Heirlooms."

Michael Dunn, said that the Cannonball House showed a "lack of good stewardship" when he discovered that some relics, including a Civil War-era picture, two Southern Crosses of Honor and 1912 Veterans Reunion Pins of his great-grandparents were lost when he asked for them back.

Attorneys for the Friends of the Cannonball House say that is Dunn doesn't return the items he has, that they will take it to the District Attorney.

I Have to Admit That I Am a Bit Confused About All This. --Old B-R'er

Swords from Battle of Mobile Bay in Question-- Part 2

In the past year, Michael Dunn has obtained Mumphrey's sword, sash and a photo of him in uniform. He was also given Jouett's sword, but it turned out to be someone else's.

Dunn, 62, says that the other items, including a Confederate Veterans reunion flag, reunion pins and wartime documents are in horrible condition.

He wants the items appraised and then plans to sell Murphrey's sword to an institution that will properly care for it and then donate the monet back to the Cannonball House. Confederate swords regularly sale for big bucks, especially one with this history.

His wife, Lee, a past Cannonball House board member, said, "We are quite baffled" at having to sue to get their items back. Their attorney, Lin Wood, of Chicago doesn't know the exact value of Murphrey's sword, but figures it to be under six figures. Jouett's sword is estimated to be worth $500.

It sounds to me like the Cannonball House is undergoing some financial and support issues, unfortunately. That seems to be more and more common in privately funded museums. I went to their website and there is a pop-up that blocks it. That is not a good indicator.

Let's Hope This Gets Straightened Out. --Old B-Runner

Swords from Battle of Mobile in Question-- Part 1

From the Sept. 30th (Georgia) "Man wants Civil War artifacts back from Cannonball House" by Joe Kovac, Jr..

This is the article that cost me so much time last week. But, I didn't know anything about the people or that aspect of the battle.

A lawsuit was filed Sept. 29th over a Confederate Naval officer's sword captured at the Battle of Mobile Bay by a man who wanted it back from the Macon museum. Also, the sword of Captain James E. "Fighting Jim" Jouett, who later became a rear admiral in the US Navy.

In the late 1800s, Jouett gave his sword and that of Confederate Navy Captain Peter U. Murphrey, who died in 1876, to Murphrey's daughter. Murphrey had surrendered his sword to Jouett when his vessel, the CSS Selma was captured by the USS Metacomet.

The suit was brought by Murphrey's great-great-great grandson, Michael H. Dunn of Atlanta. He contends that a flag, the two swords and other artifacts loaned to the Cannonball House decades ago should be returned to him. Some of them are in bad shape and others lost by the Friends of the Cannonball House.

The swords and artifacts were passed down for generations in the Mumphrey family until 1967, when they were loaned to the local United Daughters of the Confederacy chapter for display in the house.

More to Come. --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A USS Monitor Museum-- Part 2

Assemblyman Joseph Lentol arranged for a $50,000 grant for the museum, geotechnical and environmental testing at the site, the purchase of the sign, a flag pole, entrance gate and picnic tables.

President Lincoln overruled the Ironclad Board's decision not to use Ericsson's design. Ericcson had gotten a bad name because of the explosions on board the USS Princeton before the war.

At the Monitor's launching, Ericsson stood on the Monitor's deck to prove his faith hat the unlikely-looking ship would not sink.

From the group's website:

Founded in 1996 at Greenpoint, Brooklyn. John Ericsson designed the ship and it was built by the Continental Iron Works Company and the ship was launched January 30, 1861, just a month and a half before it met the CSS Virginia in the first battle of ironclads. It was built very quickly, taking just over three months from the keel being laid to launch.

One Innovative Warship. --Old B-R'er

A USS Monitor Museum-- Part 1

From the Oct. 6th Greenpoint (NY)Gazette :An Ironclad Sign: The Monitor Museum."

Celebrating the 15th anniversary of its founding, the Greenpoint Monitor Museum dedicated a new sign at the site this past Oct. 1st. A group of officials, supporters and the Oliver Tilden Camp #26 of the Sons of Union Veterans were at the ceremony.

As of yet, the group does not have a permanent structure at the site where the USS Monitor was built from late 1861 to early 1862, but they are making an effort to build one at the one acre site at Bushwick Inlet.

Having the ceremony now is appropriate because of three major Monitor events that took place 150 years ago:

September 15, 1861: John Ericsson's appearance before Lincoln's Ironclad Board.

October 4, 1861: The signing of contracts for construction of the ship.

October 25, 1861: The laying of the Monitor's keel.

In 2003, Motiva Enterprises donated the acre, at Quay Street at the East River, where the Monitor was built and launched to the group. Immediately, the City of New York slapped an Imminent Domain on the site.

More to Come. --Old B-Runner

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Journey to Cape Fear

A book review by Ben Steelman in the June 20th Wilmington (NC) Star News Bookmarks column.

"Journey to Cape Fear: The Prices of Brunswick County" by Michael L. Price, $7.95 available at the Southport Visitors Center.

This book is also about the Pivers (Huguenots from France), Coxes, Craigs, Cumbees Swans, Willketses, Hewitts, Tharps and other families in the area.

There is a chapter on the 30th North Carolina State Troops which served at Antietam, Chancellorsville and Gettysburg. Another chapter is on blockade-running (mostly about the General Beauregard (of particular interest to me because that was the ship sunk off Carolina Beach in front of my grandparents' cottage. I spent much time watching the top of the ship which still can be seen.).

There is information on the Cape Fear pilots who guided ships across the bar and on the river. Obviously, there is a lot of history of the Price family, the history of the Price's Creek Lighthouses, Fort Fisher and, for some reason, General Francis Marion (the Swampfox?).

I look forward to reading this book.

Good Old Cape Fear History. --Old B-R'er

Fort Fisher-Southport Ferry Rates Going Up-- Part 2

The Fort Fisher-Southport Ferry (FF-S) gets 4-5% of its operating budget from fares, now $5 a car load. In the 2009-2010 year, the FF-S ferries carried more than 167,000 vehicles and 455,000 passengers.

Captain Sandy Mitchell is a 24-year veteran and works 12 and a half hour days for a week and then is off for a week.

I have read that Southport is afraid of the negative impact an increase will have on their local economy because of a drop in tourists. No doubt Fort Fisher will likewise see a drop, although I think most people visiting the area are primarily there for the beach and nearby North Carolina State Aquarium.

And, like I said, to drive from Fort Fisher, back through Wilmington, then back down the west bank of the Cape Fear River to Southport is about fifty miles. And then, there's that horrible Wilmington traffic.

Here's Hoping for a Smaller, Non-Chicago/Illinois Rate Increase. --Old B-Runner

Friday, October 7, 2011

Don't Try to Lie Your Way Out with Captain Alden

From the October 4 Civil War Daily Gazette.

October 4, 1861, Friday.

The USS South Carolina (5 guns) under Capt. James Alden, intercepted the steamer Joseph H. Toone in the Southwest Pass of the Mississippi River. It was five days out of Havana and had changed her course when spotted.

The Toone's Captain Pennigton tried to claim he was from Havana and heading for Tampico, Mexico, some 450 miles away. Alden didn't believe it at all. How could a captain get that lost.

Examination of the ship's cargo of between 4,000 and 5,000 stand of arms proved the vessel to be a blockade-runner.

Five days earlier, the South Carolina had captured the Ezilda, commanded by former US Navy officer Captain William Anderson Hicks, late of the US Naval Academy at Annapolis.

He also tried to lie his way out, saying it was a British vessel some 400 miles off course.

It became a prize of the South Carolina as well.

Not Bad for a Week's Work. --Old B-R'er

Lt. Charles Henry Swasey, USN

From the Oct. 3rd Tannton (Mass.) Daily Gazette "Who Lies Here--A lieutenant's family."

The grave of Charles Henry Swasey, Lt. USN, is buried in Mt. Pleasant Cemetery in the family plot. The monument has a concrete naval cannon atop it.

Swasey was born June 21, 1839, and appointed as a midshipman at the US Naval Academy Sept. 29, 1854. Upon commissioning, he went to the East Indies on the USS Hartford.

On August 31, 1861, he was commissioned lieutenant and became the executive officer on the USS Varuna. He and his ship served with distinction at the Battle of New Orleans where the Varuna was lost after being rammed two times each by the CSS Governor Moore (which also fired a hole through its own bow to hit the Varuna when it could depress its bow gun sufficiently) and the CSS Stonewall Jackson.

Eight sailors on the Varuna received the Congressional medal of Honor for their roles in the action.

He then became executive officer on the USS Sciota and served in the West Gulf Blockading Squadron.

On Oct. 4, 1862, the Sciota battled Confederate forces near Donaldson, Louisiana. Lt. Swasey was wounded by the first shot of the battle at 1:30 pm. A 12-pdr. rifled shot hit him in the right hip and took off his right hand. He was dead at 3 pm.

Reportedly his last words were, "Tell mother I tried to be a good man." Just 23 years old.

Two destroyers have been named after him.

Not Forgotten. --Old B-Runner

Thursday, October 6, 2011

North Carolina's Fort Macon

From the June 18th Fayetteville (NC) Observer "Summer Exploring: Oceanfront Fort Macona fortress for history" by Michael Futch.

The fort now features a newly acquired fireable reproduction of a 32-pounder made by students at Wayne Community College in Goldsboro.

It was first garrisoned 177 years ago and has been restored to appear as it did in the Civil War. A few years ago, $12 million was spent on repairs and renovation.

The 150th anniversary of the Battle of Fort Macon will be April 12, 2012, something I'd like to attend.

The fort is the centerpiece of a 422 acre park and is surrounded on three sides by water: Atlantic Ocean, Bogue Sound and Beaufort Inlet.

Construction on the masonry fort began after the War of 1812 and cost $464,000.

Robert E. Lee designed the front door and made modifications on the fort while he was a coastal inspector for the US Army before the Civil War. North Carolina militia seized it on April 14, 1861, and the Confederates held it for almost a year, mounting 54 heavy cannons. It fell after a 11 hour battle

During Reconstruction, it served as a Federal Prison. It was reactivated during the Spanish-American War and World War II.

I haven't been to it for many years.

A Little-Known Fort for Most People. --Old B-Runner

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

150th Anniversary of the Chicamacomico Races-- Part 2

From the October 5th Civil War Daily gazette.

Saturday, October 5, 1861--

Upon finding that the North Carolina troops had not landed, the Confederates began withdrawing northward. A New York regiment from Fort Hatteras came out and started to chase the Georgians, making up the five miles between them quickly. And then we had a repeat of the previous day's action, only in reverse.

The USS Monticello followed along the beach, shelling the retreating Confederates.

To lighten their loads, many Georgians took off their shoes, socks and pants. Only two were wounded in the retreat and they made it to the Confederate ships and withdrew back to Roanoke.

I'm not sure why the Confederates took off their pants, but sure hope they had shorts on.

It Could Have Been a Real Mooning Experience. --Old B-R'er

150th Anniversary of the Chicamacomico Races-- Part 1

With a name like that, I just had to write about it, especially since I had never heard of it before.

From the Civil War Daily Gazette, October 4th and 5th. A great site of interest as they do the war on a day-to-day basis.

Essentially, this was a foot race up and down North Carolina's Outer Banks from Chicamacomico (by Rodanthe) to the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. First, the Rebels chased the Yankees, then, the shoe was on the other foot, hence the name races. They covered about thirty miles each way.

This took place after the fall of the Confederate forts at Hatteras Inlet.

Confederate Colonel A.E, Wright on Roanoke Island learned that a regiment of Indiana soldiers had landed near Chicamacomico, 35 miles north of Union-held Fort Hatteras. They were in an exposed position, so the colonel planned to land Georgia troops north of them and then North Carolina ones south and capture the whole group. Then, from there, an attack on Fort Hatteras was in order.

His two regiments were loaded onto the Confederate "Mosquito Fleet" and taken to Chicamacomico. When the Federals spotted the Georgians coming, instead of fighting, they skedaddled south.

Then, it was off to the races with first the Indianans, then the Georgians, with the "Mosquito Fleet" following along the sound side maintaining fire and looking for a spot to land the North Carolina troops.

They failed to land the troops when they ran aground. By midnight, the Union troops had made it to the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, about 30 miles from where they had started. Both sides camped for the night.

Day Two Next. --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Why It Takes So Long To Do This Blog

Earlier today, while looking at the Civil War Interactive site, I came across an article about a family suing the Cannonball House in Macon, Georgia, to retrieve items lent to the place. Two of the artifacts were the swords of a Union and Confederate naval officer, Captain James "Fighting Jim" Jouett, USN, and Captain Peter U. Murphrey, CSN. I had never heard of either man.

The Confederate sword had been surrendered to the Union officer at the Battle of Mobile Bay when the USS Metacomet forced the CSS Selma to surrender.

Evidently, the museum, which i have heard of, wasn't taking very good care of the items.

Well, then, I had to look up the two men. James Jouett went on to become a rear admiral after the war. Murphrey, a former US Navy officer, was wounded at the battle, but recovered and eventually returned to Mobile to live until drowning in it at the home of friend Paul Ravesies, who I also had to look up.

This ended up taking over two hours.

I Will be Writing About It. --Old B-Runner

Monday, October 3, 2011

Fort Fisher-Southport Ferry Rates Going Up?-- Part 1

From the October 2nd Wilmington (NC) Star News.

Like every other governmental body in the country, North Carolina is facing budgetary shortfalls and looking for ways to increase funds. One thing under consideration is to raise ferry tolls for the Fort Fisher-Southport Ferry, with one terminus located just south of Fort Fisher and the other across the Cape Fear River at Southport.

Right now, they charge each car a flat $5 a car to cross the river (no charge for passengers), a very scenic and several mile trip. Without the ferry, if you wanted to get to the other side from either terminus, it would involve a drive upriver to Wilmington and back down, about 40-50 miles. And then, there is that horrible Wilmington traffic to contend with.

Thoughts are to raise it as high as $18, but lesser amounts are also under consideration. Raising the rates might very well hurt tourism between the two areas.

Debi Rust of Carolina Beach, four miles north of Fort Fisher, pays $150 a year for a commuter pass to get back and forth from her job at Wells Fargo in Southport. She catches the 7:45 am there and comes back on the 4:45 pm ferry. She says she believes she is being undercharged and wouldn't mind seeing it go up by $50-$100.

More to Come. --Old B-Runner

What Exactly Does "Saw the Elephant" Mean?

My brother Bob was reading the blog recently and asked what the name of the blog meant. Good question, especially for non-Civil War folk.

"Saw the Elephant" was a term evidently used by both Confederate and Union troops to describe battle. If you were in a battle (or skirmish), you "Saw the Elephant."

On our way down to our Camp Douglas Sons of Confederate Veterans meetings in Des Plaines, Illinois, we always passed an auto dealership with an elephant statue out front. We'd get to the meeting and saw we had seen the elephant.

On a side note, we meet at the Silver Stallion restaurant, a family place. But also in Des Plaines, there is the original Ray Kroc McDonald's (not open, but a nearby new McDonald's is and a White Castle.

Two other interesting places to eat are the Sugar Bowl on Northwest Highway (US-14), an old 30s place with a great overhead sign and the Choo-Choo restaurant where your order comes around on a model train.

Good Eatin' and a Bit the Confederacy North of the Mason-Dixon. --Old B-R'er

Retracing the CSS Neuse's Career

All 25-miles of it.

From the May/June Confederate Veteran Magazine.

There was a picture of compatriots Scott Huddle and Chris Mitchell of the 47 Regiment NC Troops Camp 166, Wake Forest, NC, standing in front of the remains of the CSS Neuse's hull in Kinston.

They paddled the same 25-mile route that the vessel took down the Neuse River from Whitehall (now Seven Springs) to Kinston.

And, that was about it for the ship's career.

Because of Union sea power, several Confederate naval bases were moved inland along rivers for protection. This particular ironclad was built in what was a cornfield near Goldsboro before the war.

Had the Neuse River been a bit deeper, the ship a little less draft and had it been completed sooner, it might have had a more interesting career.

The remains of the hull were dredged up from the river at Kinston in the 1960s and today housed in an open pavilion where the ship is fast deteriorating. Plans are in the works for an enclosed site. A 100% scale replica of the ship, the CSS Neuse II, is located in Kinston.

Ramming Speed!! --Old B-Runner

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Williams Guns in Schoolfield's Battery

There were six Williams guns in Schoolfield's Battery, commanded by Captain J.J. Schoolfield, the only battery to consist solely of the unique cannons.

The 25 men were attached to the 4th Kentucky Cavalry and could fire up to 40 rounds a minute, but at that rate were somewhat erratic.

They usually fired one pound solid balls, but on occasion loaded the barrels with buckshot and half ounce ball cartridges.

The guns performed well according to my source and often confused Federal forces as to just what sort of artillery they were up against.

An Interesting Weapon. --Old B-Runner