Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Civil War's "Kitty Hawk" Moment-- Part 2

Mike Boehme, director of the Virginia Aviation Museum said, "This was the first time that opposing air forces were facing each other."

Today, the Civil War Preservation Trust (CWPT), a nonprofit group devoted to saving battlefields, is seeking to save the ground where the Union balloons were launched. Little of the original Gaines Mill Battlefield has been preserved, but the 285-acre slice of it the group wants to save includes the ravine that shielded the balloons from Confederate fire.

Gaines Mill was one of the biggest and bloodiest battles where Confederate General Robert E. Lee recorded his first victory on June 27, 1862, which led to the Seven Days battles which turned away Union forces trying to capture Richmond.

The CWPT's Rob Shenk was attending a Civil War ballooning presentation when he realized that the launch site was part of the land the group was about to save.

Until the war, balloons were mostly a fair attraction. Come the war, New Englander Thaddeus Lowe became the Father of military aerial reconnaissance by dazzling President Lincoln with the balloon possibilities.

There Is No Place Like Home. --Old B-R'er

North Carolina's New Tool for Teaching the Civil War

From the Nov. 28th Goldsboro (NC) News-Argus.

State students will have a new way to link classroom lessons about the war to actual sites in the state.

The Division of State Historic Sites has launched The North Carolina Civil War Experience to that effect.

A website for teachers offers activities and lesson plans (hopefully with those worrisome state goals included) to twelve state sites like Bentonville Battlefield (about fifteen miles from where I sit) and my favorite, Fort Fisher. I'm sure Bennett House is also on the list.

It is designed for eighth graders, but the materials can be adapted for high school.

Too Bad I Don't Teach Anymore. Not Really. --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Nancy Bennett's Civil War-- Part 3:

War came to North Carolina and their fortunes change. One son, Lorenzo and his business partner join the Hillsborough Orange Guards> Daughter Eliza's husband, Robert Duke, joins the 46th North Carolina and they leave the family.

None of them return. Lorenzo and his business partner die of disease and are buried in Virginia. Robert Duke dies in a Virginia hospital. Son Alphonso also dies from sickness in the spring of 1863.
On a beautiful spring day, April 17, 1865, the remaining Bennetts (daughter Eliza had moved back in with her mother and father) hear hoofbeats coming up the road. A party of riders are approaching with a white flag of truce.

The war has taken her sons, her daughter's husband and wrecked the small degree of prosperity they had enjoyed, and now Union General Sherman and Confederate General Johnston want to use their home to draw up surrender terms.

General Johnston then surrenders the last major Confederate Army in the east to Sherman, and the war for all practical aspects,is over.

Today, their home is a NC State Historical Site.

The War's Effect On Regular Folk. --Old B-Runner

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Civil War's "Kitty Hawk" Moment-- Part 1

From the Nov. 27th Goldsboro News-Argus "Nonprofit aims to preserve Civil War's 'Kitty Hawk' moment" by AP.

It happened June 27, 1862, at the Civil War Battle of Gaines' Mill, part of the Seven Days Battles, when both Union and Confederate aeronauts took to the skies simultaneously for the first time.

Two Union balloons, the Washington and Intrepid were launched and their Confederate enemy balloon, the Gazelle, also took to the skies. All were up there to observe enemy movements from 1,000 feet high.

"You had the Confederate balloon up and the Union balloons up, all trying to exploit the advantages of being above and over the battlefield and providing tactical information to their respective generals," says Mike Boehne, director of the Virginia Aviation Museum.

Up, Up and Away in My Beautiful Balloon. --Old B-Runner

Friday, November 25, 2011

Nancy Bennett's Civil War-- Part 2: A Hard Life

She and her husband James struggled during their early years together. He worked as a sharecropper and then a tenant farmer until they scraped together enough money to buy a 325-acre farm on the Raleigh-Hillsborough Road in 1846 when he was 40. They were in debt, but sold half the land to pay it off.

Their farm was small, but the land fertile. They were what is called yeoman farmers. They grow potatoes, melons, corn and oats, raise chickens, hogs and have two milk cows. Being on the road, they take in travelers for one dollar which gets a bed, breakfast and supper.

They have two sons and a daughter.

When war comes, the two sons and a son-in-law join the Confederate army.

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

Nancy Bennett's Civil War-- Part 1: Nothing to Gain

From the December Our State Magazine "The Women's War" by Philip Gerard. Mr. Gerard has been writing a series of articles in the magazine to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the war. This was Volume 1, Part 8.

This is an interesting account of the hardships faced by those who were left at home and approached it both from the experience of females from the plantations and those from lesser means.

"With millions of young men lost in--or lost to--battle and economic calamity a relentless opponent, women are forced into new roles: farmers, mill workers, entrepreneurs, even rioters. Daily realities of survival, fear, danger and desperation are just some of a war's challenges that transcend class and social status."

"Nancy Leigh Pierson Bennett has absolutely nothing to gain from the war.

"She and her husband own no slaves. She has expressed no public political convictions. The federal government in Washington is virtually irrelevant to her Piedmont North Carolina life, which is defined by hard work and a close-knit family. The compass of her life is limited. She does not travel and has no financial holdings affected by the tariff wars or lofty debates about states' rights."

I copied the start verbatim as it pretty well sums up what befell a majority of southern women.

More to Come. --Old B-Runner

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Bennett Family in the Civil War

The December issue of the Our State Magazine of North Carolina had a lengthy article on the Bennett family's Civil War experience.  These were not rich people; no plantation, no slaves, no huge wealth.

Even so, they were better off than most.  The war had a huge negative impact on them.  I read along, not realizing the significance of their name and farmhouse toward the end of the war.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Wilmington's Bellamy Mansion

From Wikipedia.

Dr. John D. Bellamy (Sept. 18, 1817-Aug. 30, 1896)

Built and owned the Bellamy Mansion in Wilmington, NC, and was a medical doctor.

His son Marsden Bellamy enlisted in the Scotland Neck Cavalry before North Carolina seceded, but later enlisted in the Confederate Navy.

A younger son, William, joined the Wilmington Rifle Guards a few months later.

The Bellamy Mansion's architect, James F. Post, joined the Confederate artillery and helped design and build various structures at Fort Fisher and Fort Anderson.

The mansion's draftsman, Rufus Bunnel, had already returned north before Fort Sumter was fired on and joined a Connecticut regiment.

Enslaved plasterer, William B. Gould, who had worked on the house, escaped Wilmington on the night of Sept. 21, 1862, with eight other slaves by rowing a small boat down the Cape Fear River. They got to a Union ship where he and several others joined the US Navy.

He kept an extensive diary during the war and is thought to be one of the few former slaves to have kept one. After the war, he again took up the plasterer trade in Massachusetts.

During the war, the Bellamy family continued to live at the mansion on Market Street, until a yellow fever epidemic forced them to leave.

Very Involved in the War. --Old B-Runner

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The "Turtle" Goes to War-- Part 2

In the predawn hours of October 12th, Hollins led his small fleet downriver from New Orleans to engage the Union ships. Lt. Alexander Warley led the way in the Manassas with orders to ram the Union flagship USS Richmond.

In addition, tugs towed three fire rafts. As they approached the federal ships, the fleet stopped and they were tied together. Once the action started, they were to be set on fire, released and allowed to float toward the enemy with the current.

The Union fleet, under Captain John Pope, was caught completely bu surprise. The USS Preble was shocked into action as the Manassas passed by within twenty yards, cruising at maximum speed, 10 knots and headed for the Richmond. The Preble warned the Richmond and got off a couple shots before the Confederate ship slipped off into the darkness.

The Richmond opened fire as the Manassas glanced off a coal barge tied alongside the ship and then rammed it in the forward port side, cracking timbers below the waterline. The Manassas backed out, but one engine had been knocked loose and the two smokestacks had been destroyed.

The Richmond fired off rockets for the rest of the fleet to engage.

No longer maneuverable, the Manassas was run aground.

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

The "Turtle" Goes to War-- Part 1

As in the CSS Manassas.

From the October 27th News Star "Oct. 1861: 'The Turtle'" bu Dr. Terry L. Jones.

By October, 1861, five union vessels were in position at the Head of Passes where the Mississippi River splits into several different channels before reaching the Gulf of Mexico. Being here effectively blockades New Orleans, the largest port in the new Confederacy.

A small Confederate fleet under 62-year-old navy veteran George N. Hollins, referred to as "The Mosquito Fleet" set out to force these Union ships away.

The main warship was a rather odd looking one named the CSS Manassas after the earlier Confederate victory in Virginia. It had been a Massachusetts-made icebreaker which had been modified with heavy oak timbers and overlaid with 1.5 inch railroad iron. It carried just one cannon mounted near the bow, but its most formidable weapon was its ram, very capable of penetrating the hull of any Federal vessel. It's humped back appearance gained it its nickname of "The Turtle."

More to Come. --Old B-Runner

Friday, November 18, 2011

Naval Happenings 150 Years Ago: Fort Fisher Fired On

From the Civil War Naval Chronology 1861-1865.

NOVEMBER 11, 1861-- Thaddeus Lowe made a balloon observation of Confederate forces from the Balloon Boat G.W. Parke Curtis anchored in the Potomac River. The early aircraft carrier was purchased for $150 and readied fr service at the Washington Navy Yard. It was towed to the site by the steamer Couer de Lion.

NOVEMBER 12, 1861-- The Fingal (later CSS Atlanta) purchased in England, ran the Savannah blockade with military supplies, the first ship to run the blockade on solely Confederate government account.

NOVEMBER 15, 1861-- Confederate commissioners Mason and Slidell disembarked from the USS San Jacinto, Captain Wilkes,at Fort Monroe.

NOVEMBER 16, 1861-- Confederate Secretary of the Navy Mallory advertised for plans and bids for construction of four seagoing ironclads capable of carrying four guns each.

Today, 1861-- The USS Monticello, Lt. Braine, engaged Confederate battery near New Inlet, North Carolina. That would be Fort Fisher. This is tye first action of read of at Fort Fisher in the Civil War Naval Chronology.

NOVEMBER 22, 1861-- The USS Niagara, Flag officer McKean, USS Richmond, Capt. Ellison, and Fort Pickens began two day bombardment against Confederate defenses at Fort McRee, the Pensacola Navy Yard and the town of Warrington. Much damage done to Confederate positions and USS Richmond.

NOVEMBER 24, 1861-- A landing party from the USS Flag, Cmdr. J. Rodgers, USS Augusta, Pochahontas, Seneca and Savannah took possession of Tybee Island, Savannah. Admiral Du Pont attributed the Confederate abandonment of the island without a fight was "due to the terror inspired by the bombardment of Forts Walker and Beauregard...."

Skeered Away Again. --Old B-Runner

General Drayton's Fish Haul Plantation at Hilton Head Island

From Heritage Library Foundation Hilton Head Island.

It was also called Fish Hall and Drayton's House.

In 1861, Confederate General Drayton used it as his headquarters (along with the Pope House). In 1770, the plantation consisted of 700 acres, mostly growing Sea Island cotton.

Some sources call it Fish Haul Creek Plantation, named after Fish Haul Creek that ran through it.

In 1989, the Chicora Foundation did archaeological documentation of the slave quarters on the plantation. An 1862 census showed 52 slaves at the place along with 250 improved acres, 450 unimproved and worth $10,000. An absence of farm animals in the census would indicate it as a cotton plantation.

In 1863, it was sold to the US government for $3,000 in back taxes. A year earlier, 200 acres were used for the freedman's Mitchelville and part of the mansion used for a school. As late as 1867, there will still 120 blacks living at the place.

By 1920, the main house had disappeared. In 1965 the land was sold to the Hilton Head Company and they sold it to the Port Royal Plantation Group and lastly to Palmetto Dunes.

The Story of a Plantation. --Old B-R'er

The Pope House at Coggins Point, SC-- Part 2

The Confederates evacuated the house so fast after the battle that General Drayton's fine horse was captured.

After the war, the house was unclaimed and eventually reportedly dismantled and sold for scrap limber in Beaufort. The plantation land remained under military control until 1927.

During World War I, the barracks were rebuilt and big guns brought in along the shore. A submarine watch was kept there during World War II.

As of 1977, an exact replica of the Pope House was being built.

Next Time You're in Hilton Head. --Old B-Runner

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Pope House and Plantation at Coggins Point, Port Royal-- Part 1

I earlier mentioned that Confederate General Drayton had his headquarters at both the Pope House and his own Fish Haul Plantation on Hilton Head Island before the Union attack earlier this month, 150 years ago.

So, I looked up the Pope House.

From the Heritage Library Foundation Hilton Head Island.

The Pope House was on the northeast corner of Hilton Head Island. It was also known as the Coggins Point Plantation. It was owned by Squire William Pope (1778-1862). It was a two-story frame residence. Squire Pope was involved in the South Carolina legislature in the years before the war.

A wealthy man, he also owned the Skull Creek and Point Comfort plantations on Hilton Head and the Crescent Plantation in Bluffton. The 1860 census showed the Squire owning 200 slaves.

It was used as headquarters for the Union department of the South during the war. In 1864, a signal tower was built on its roof.

Both Fort Walker (Welles) and Fort Sherman were located on the Coggins Point Plantation.

A Rich man Then. Imagine How Rich His Heirs Would Be If They Still Owned This Land. --Old B-R'er

Port Royal's Fort Walker Receives a Dynamite Gun

Well, I had never heard of a dynamite gun, so, of course, had to do some research. I'll write a little bit of what I found here, but will go into more detail on my history blog since this was post-Civil War.

A site called battery Dynamite was nearby to the old Confederate fort and in service from 1897 to 1902. In 1897, Congress appropriated money to purchase four experimental compressed air dynamite guns to be emplaced at four coastal installations. One was at Hilton Head.

A concrete battery was built outside of Fort Walker and from 1901 to 1902, the gun was inspected and tested before the whole program was discontinued.

I was unable to find out if any part of the battery remains.

Hurling Dynamite. Now, That's Nasty. --Old B-Runner

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Port Royal's Confederate Fort Walker-- Part 3

On November 8, 1861, the name of the fort was changed by General Thomas W. Sherman's General Order #28 to Fort Welles, named for Union Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles.

Bu 1888, Fort Walker was abandoned, falling apart with parts washed away by the sea. The Federal government retained possession of the 902 acres of Coggins Point. It was reactivated during the Spanish-American War and World War I.

I was looking for the fort's armament when captured and having difficulty until I came across an article in the Nov. 30, 1861, Harper's Weekly which said the fort had thirteen 32-pdrs, two siege 12-inch guns, 2 rifled 8-inch Columbiads, one 10-inch Columbiad, two carronades and an 8-inch Columbiad. The article also reported that plenty of ammunition was found.

This would refute another source that said the Confederates withdrew with all but three guns out of service and ammunition about gone.

Now, I Know Something About the Fort. --Old B-Runner

Toys During the Civil War?-- Part 2

Kraus continued, saying there wasn't as much gift-giving during Christmas in the war. "They were away from home. They would decorate trees with bullets, whatever they had around. They would have a special meal." I just wrote about a member of the 4th New Hampshire who wanted his wife to eat a big piece of pie for him over Thanksgiving.

Items on display included a small, flat tin soldier, perhaps made for a child with a father at war, a hand-made wooden doll for a girl.

There was a deck of cards called "The Game of the Camp" with illustrated figures: Surgeon, Riding Master and farrier (a person specializing in horseshoes and care of hooves). Glad they had this information, otherwise, it was Wikipedia time for me.

Kraus pointed out that the Toys for Tots campaign was started by Marines (must have been an ex-Marine himself). It began in 1947 in Los Angeles when a group of Marine reservists decided to distribute toys to needy children.

The Marine Corps breakfast I attended last weekend raised almost $9,000 for Toys for Tots last year.

A Great Program. --Old B-R'er

Toys During the Civil War?-- Part 1

From the Nov. 14th Bulletin "Even during the Civil War, toys had their place" by Kevin Begos, AP.

Even with the horrendous carnage on the battlefields, Santa Claus still had a place in America during he war. (Actually, cartoonist Thomas Nast came up with the prototype of Santa about this time.)

A photo of a toy soldier on a wooden horse (early GI Joe?) is in a storage area at the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial in Pittsburgh accompanies the article.

Michael Kraus was dressed in his Civil War soldier garb at the Carnegie Mellon University display of 1860s toys for the start of the annual Toys for Tots campaign. He says he has been drawn to this era's toys ever since he was a boy.

According to Kraus, "the 1860s saw the popularization of the Santa Claus tradition in America. Harper's Weekly in January 1863 published one of the first drawings of the rotund holiday figure, addressing a camp of soldiers, some of whom carry a banner reading: "Welcome Santa Claus.' A copy of the issue is part of the display."

More to Come. --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Brooklyn Navy Yard Museum

From the Nov. 7th New York Post.

The 19th century Marine Commandant's home in the former 300 acre Brooklyn Navy Yard, has been restored and incorporated into a $27 million, 33,000 square foot museum and visitors center.

It opened Nov. 11th on Veterans Day.

The navy yard was established in 1801.

More than 80 US Navy ships were built or commissioned there, including the USS Monitor in 1862, the USS Arizona in 1915 and the USS North Carolina in 1940.

Something to Visit. --Old B-R'er

Port Royal's Confederate Fort Walker-- Part 2

Major Francis D. Lee (no relation to R.E. Lee) was in charge of planning and construction of the fort. A big problem was that there were not enough cannons and not enough of the calibre to sufficiently arm the fort.

Other fortifications in the area were begun at Braddock's Point, Seabrook Landing on Skull Creek as well as earthworks to the south of Fort Walker.

Work had just barely started by the attack November 7, 1961.

By October 17th, there were just 362 soldiers at the fort before reinforcements arrived bringing the total to 622.

General Drayton made his headquarters at the Pope House on Coggins Point and at his own local home at Fish Haul. "If anyone knew how to defend the island, he would. Thomas Drayton knew every road, every woodland trail; knew where the offshore waters were deep enough for a landing. But without the necessary guns to do it."

Defending the Fort. --Old B-Runner

Monday, November 14, 2011

Port Royal's Confederate Fort Walker-- Part 1

From the Heritage Library Foundation, Hilton Head Island.

As I said before, there is not a lot of information that I could find about the fort, which today apparently is on private property at Port Royal Plantation. We found a lot of Hilton Head to be private and way more expensive than us po' folk could afford. We visited once and it is not likely we'll be back.

This site had quite a bit of good information.

Fort Walker was ordered built by General P.G.T. Beauregard on Coggins Point Plantation. It was named after Confederate Secretary of War L.P. Walker and commanded by Col. William c. Hayward of the 11th South Carolina. Overall command of the Port Royal Sound defenses was Gen. Thomas F. Drayton, a famous family in the state.

Work on the fort began in July 1861 and island plantation owners furnished slave labor to bring in palmetto logs. Trenches, gun emplacements and a powder magazine were built.

More to Come. --Old B-Runner

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The 4th New Hampshire Infantry

This regiment was at both expeditions against Fort Fisher and participated in the final assault and capture of the big sand fort.

After that, they participated at the fight at Sugar Loaf Battery Feb. 11, 1865, Fort Anderson Feb. 18th, the capture of Wilmington Feb. 22nd.

Then it was the Advance on Goldsboro and Kinston March 6-21st. After that, they guarded the railroad between Little Washington and Goldsboro until August.

They were mustered out of service August 23, 1865.

So, not only were they at Fort Fisher and the Wilmington campaign, but were also by my hometown of Goldsboro, North Carolina.

I Was Unaware of This Unit Before. --Old B-R'er

At the Battle of Port Royal: The 4th New Hampshire Infantry-- Part 3

Well, here is a regiment that also fought at Fort Fisher. Besides being involved in what was supposed to have been an amphibious assault at Port Royal, now they would later fight at my battle, Fort Fisher. Definitely got my interest.

Now, for some excerpts from Leander Harris' letter to his wife:

"T were 8 men killed on our side." Probably referring to Union losses at the Battle of Port Royal.

Referring to the storm on Nov. 1, 1861:

"I have not seen Hall but our Quarter Master told me that they did not go on the Union [ship] but on the Ben De Ford and that is. The Union went ashore on the coast during the gale, also the Peerless."

"I believe that I did not mention that our steamer was on fire in the night of the storm, but we did not know it till the next day."

That is a disquieting thing to learn.

"Thanksgiving day you must eat a good piece of pie for me."

Sounds like an idea. I wonder what the men of the 4th NH got for Thanksgiving?

Stuff You Don't Read in the History Books. --Old B-Runner

Friday, November 11, 2011

At the Battle of Port Royal: The 4th New Hampshire Infantry-- Part 2

Continued from Nov. 8th.

The letter that was for sale was a partial two page one written by Leander Harris to his wife Emmy. Unfortunately, the letter sold to someone in 2007 and it didn't say how much was paid for it.

Apparently it was started on Nov. 1st, but not completed until some time later.
Harris states that there was a storm on the night of Nov. 1st and transports were lost.

Worth Point Price Guide did some research about these transports:

UNION-- a steamer carrying Army stores and no troops-- run ashore.
PEERLESS-- Army transport laden with stores-- went down, crew rescued.

BEN DE FORD-- Army transport "which was also used by General Banks in the Fort Fisher expedition"-- probably meant Butler used it.
BALTIC-- Army transport (later used in Fort Fisher expedition).

GOVERNOR-- "an old steamer never meant to go on the open ocean which carried 600 marines designed as a rapid strike force during the capture of the forts, this vessel foundered and sank during the storm and the marines and crew rescued by the USS Sabine."

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

It's the Other Day to Honor Those Who Have Served

Of course, the first Veterans Day observance in the US started after the Civil War and was called Decoration Day. The Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), a Union veterans organization, started it. The Confederates had their own observation.

Of course, Decoration Day became Memorial Day, a time to salute all US veterans (and, yes, that also includes Confederates who were also Americans despite what some may think.)

I plan on attending the Legion/VFW ceremony in Fox Lake as usual. Tomorrow, it's a salute to the 236th anniversary of the Marine Corps at the annual breakfast at the Fox Lake Legion Hall and that night, it's a trip back to the 30s and 40s at the annual Big Band/Swing Dance also at the Legion.

Some of those old World War II vets can still cut a mean rug.

Oh yes, and not only is it 11-11-11 for Veterans Day, but also 11-11-11 on the calendar.

Thank a Vet. --Old B-Runner

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Friends of Fort Fisher Annual Meeting This Saturday

I just joined this group this past summer. As a big Fort Fisher fan, how could I not join.

From the Wilmington Gives Back,Org.

This Saturday, Nov. 12th the Friends of Fort Fisher (FoFF) organization will hold their annual meeting.

Lunch will be served and accomplishments over this past year will be celebrated as well as plans for the future discussed. It is open to members (Hey, That's Me) and guests. The FoFF is a non-profit support group.

North Carolina Deputy State Archaeologist Mark Wild-Ramsing will give a speech about the upcoming 50th anniversary of the NC Underwater Archaeology department and the project that started it, the discovery of and recovery of thousands of objects from the blockade-runner Modern Greece in 1962.

A new Modern Greece exhibit is slated to open at the Fort Fisher Museum ay the Jan. 12th battle observance on the 147th anniversary of the Second Battle of Fort Fisher at which it was captured.

Wish I Was There. Maybe Next Year. --Old B-R'er

The Civil War a Training Ground for Presidents from Ohio

Five future US presidents participated in the Civil War, all on the Union side.

U.S. Grant
Rutherford B. Hays
James Garfield
Benjamin Harrison
William McKinley

That is quite a sizable number.

Must be Some Sorta Buckeye Thing in the Water. --Old B-Runner

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

This Date, 150 Years Ago: Battle of Port Royal

From the Civil War Naval Chronology.

October 9, 1861

Gunboats of Flag Officer Du Pont's force took possession of Beaufort, South Carolina, (or do you say Boo-fort?) and by blockading the mouth of the Broad River, cut off this communication link between Charleston and Savannah.

This was a follow up action resulting from the success of the Union forces at Port Royal Sound two days earlier.

At this time, Major General Robert E. Lee, who was not yet the commander of the Army of Northern Virginia, but in charge of Confederate operations along the South Carolina coast, wrote Secretary of War Judah Benjamin about the effects of the Union victory at Port Royal: "The enemy having complete possession of the water and inland navigation, commands all the islands on our coast and threatens both Savannah and Charleston, and can come in his boats, within four miles of this place (his headquarters at Coosawhatchie, SC).

"His sloops of war and large steamers can come up Broad River to Mackay's Point, the mouth of the Pocotaligo, and his gunboats can ascend some distance up the Coosawhatchie and Tulifinny. We have no guns that can resist their batteries, and have no resources but to prepare to meet them in the field."

A Very Correct Assessment of the Situation. --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

At Battle of Port Royal: 4th New Hampshire Infantry Regiment-- Part 1

From the Worth Point Price Guide concerning a letter sold in 2007 written by a soldier in the 4th New Hampshire, dated November 1, 1861.

He evidently started writing the letter November 1, 1861, but did nor finish it until days later.

The site offered lots of information on things mentioned in the letter as well as a short history of the unit.

The 4th NH was mustered into service 9/18/61 and participated in the Port Royal expedition, saw duty in Florida and operations against Charleston, SC, in 1863. Late was in the Battle of Cold Harbor, Siege of Petersburg, Va. and the Mine Explosion there.

Later, they participated in both attacks on Fort Fisher (hey, sparked my interest here). Later, they were in on the capture of Wilmington and the drive on Kinston and Goldsboro.

At the Mine Explosion,the regiment lost 6 killed, 35 wounded and 10 missing. During the whole war, they lost 4 officers and 93 enlisted killed.

Wikipedia reports the unit lost a total of 234 during the war: 3 officers and 82 men killed or mortally wounded and 5 officers and 194 men dying from disease.

It's colonel at one time was Louis Bell, who was killed at the Second Battle of Fort Fisher leading a brigade.

Got My Interest. --Old B-Runner

Port Royal's Fort Walker

Surprisingly, there is not a lot of information on one of the two Confederate forts to surrender to Union forces 150 years ago yesterday, Fort Walker.

The site of the fort is still there by Port Royal Sound at the end Hilton Head Island on the shore of Port Royal Sound. It is off Fort Walker Road near the Hilton Head Airport. Now, whether you can get to the actual site is questionable since so much of Hilton Head Island is privately owned by rich folks who don't want regular folks traipsing over their property.

After a four and a half hour bombardment, about out of ammunition and with all but three cannons our of service, General Thomas F. Drayton gave his men the order to withdraw. His brother, Percival Drayton was on the USS Pocahontas standing offshore and bombarding Fort Walker.

In addition, some 13,000 Union troops under the command of General Thomas W. Sherman had been landed and were approaching the fort, vastly outnumbering the fort's defenders.

After the battle, the fort was rebuilt and named Fort Welles, after Lincoln's Secretary of the Navy, Gideon Welles.


Fort Welles defending a large Union base used throughout the war. A civilian town, named Robbers Row (very likely by troops stationed there for its penchant to take their money) grew up to serve the needs of the garrison. At its peak, it had a hotel, theater, 2 newspapers mostly located along a street called Suttlers Row. I do not believe any part remains today, but there is a marker for it at the site.

From the Historical Data Markers organization.

Sure Wish There Was Some More on Fort Walker. --Old B-R'er

150th Anniversary of the Trent Incident

I've covered this event since Confederate commissioners Jim Mason and John Slidell slipping out of Charleston in October. Today marks the 150th anniversary of Captain Wilkes in the USS San Jacinto stopping the British mail steamer Trent in the Old Bahama Channel off Cuba and removing the two Confederates and sparking an international incident, straining British-US relations.

As a pro-Confederate, I'd have to say the capture of the two was illegal, coming as it did off a vessel belonging to a neutral country.

But, the North and Lincoln's administration saw it differently.

Who Was Right. --Old B-Runner

Monday, November 7, 2011

150th Anniversary of the Battle of Port Royal Today

From the Civil War Naval Chronology

I was aware of the Battle of Port Royal, but didn't know that much about it intil now.

NOVEMBER 7, 1861

Naval forces under Flag Officer Du Pont captured Port Royal Sound. While his fleet steamed boldly in, naval gunners poured a heavy fire into Confederate Forts Walker and Beauregard with extreme accuracy. Confederates abandoned the forts and the small Confederate fleet under Commodore Tattnall could offer very little resistance but did rescue troops by ferrying them to the mainland from Hilton Head.

Marines and sailors were landed to occupy the forts until the Army arrived under the command of General T.W, Sherman. Careful planning and skillful execution had given a great victory and an important base of operations.

Confederates were forced to withdraw defenses inland, out of range of Naval guns.

Du Pont wrote, "It is not my temper to rejoice over fallen foes, but this must be a gloomy night in Charleston."

A Big Blow Against the Confederacy. --Old B-Runner

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Naval Commanders at Port Royal

From the Civil War Navy Sesquicentennial Blog

CSN Captain Josiah Tattnal

Opposed secession, but resigned from US Navy and became senior naval officer of his home state's Georgia Navy. Later commissioned in the Confederate Navy and became commander of the entire Georgia and South Carolina coastline.

Commanded the Mosquito Fleet which mounted two cannons. (I was unable to find out the names of the ships or armaments.)

According to Savannah Now, Commodore Tattnal brought his small fleet from Savannah to help defend Port Royal and arrived just as the Federal fleet was sounding the channel (all navigation aids had previously been removed). They attacked the Union ships but were forced to retreat.

They retreated to Skull Creek to avoid destruction or capture. After the battle, they transported some of the stranded forts defenders and returned to Savannah.

USN Samuel Du Pont

He had just become commander of the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron (SABS) Sept. 18, 1861 after having served in the US Navy since 1815. He commanded the SABS until June 1863.

A Battle's A-Brewing. --Old B-Runner

Running the Blockade: Monitor's Turret-- Rick Perry-- Fortress Monroe

Running the Blockade-- Some new news about an old war.

1. MONITOR'S TURRET-- The Nov. 3rd Daily Press (Va.) reports that the turret of the USS Monitor has been placed in Virginia's Tip Ten Endangered Artifact List. This is not so much that it isn't receiving great preservation, but because it requires permanent care. The World War II USS Wisconsin, also in Norfolk, also is on the list.

2. RICK PERRY-- Texas governor of Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry has announced he will not support the SCV's attempt to get license plates in his state. In the past, he has defended Confederate symbols. Guess someone is looking for votes.

3. FORTRESS MONROE--The Virginia Pilot reported that President Obama was to sign a bill making the fort a National Park, the 396th one. He did so with powers granted him by the 1906 Antiquities Act.

Just Some Stuff. --Old B-R'er

The 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Port Royal, SC

Definitely one of the major naval battles of the war and one that gave the North a very important base of operations between Charleston and Savannah along the Atlantic seaboard. I imagine the attack would have come earlier than November 7th had it not been for the huge storm that hit on the 1st which dispersed the fleet.

The Civil War Naval Sesquicentennial blog is spending all week discussing the battle and implications considering "it perhaps THE most important naval event of the 1861."

From the Civil War Naval Chronology:

NOVEMBER 5th-- Today's date, The USS Ottawa, Pembina, Seneca and Pawnee engaged and dispersed Commodore Tattnall's small Confederate squadron at Port Royal Sound and fired on Forts Beauregard and Walker. The attack was to come two days later.

Big Event! --Old B-Runner

Friday, November 4, 2011

Happenings Week of November 6, 1861

From AP week of November 6, 1861.

There was a great storm off Hatteras Inlet, thoroughly drenching Union forces occupying the forts. A report from there said, "Five rebel steamers came near the inlet, but returned after firing a couple shots.

November 7, 1861, the Battle of Port Royal. Forts Walker and Beauregard taken and the US had a strategic base between Savannah and Charleston.

From the Civil War Naval Chronology.

NOV. 1st-- A violent storm struck the Port Royal expedition off the Carolina coast, scattering the ships of the fleet. Damage was less than what it could have been.

NOV. 2nd-- USS Sabine rescued battalion of Marines from US transport Governor which sank off Georgetown, SC.

NOV. 4th-- Coast Survet Ship Vixen entered Port Royal Sound to sound the channel. Escorted by USS Ottawa and USS Seneca. Confederate ships under Commodore Tattnall attacked the ships.

A Big Naval Fight in the Offing. --Old B-Runner

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Civil War Comes to Galena-- Part 3

The Celebration.

"Every bell in the city was soon set into motion...huge bonfires were built at the intersections of streets, the cannon was got out and reverberated from hill to hill...the excitement ran so high that no one could sleep nor was anyone inclined to."

Sadly, several days later on April 15th, the Gazette reported: "We announce with grief inexpressible the occurrence of events that fill all loyal hearts with deeper and more poignant sorrow that ever before weighed them down with great calamity--The Assassination of President Lincoln."

This news had been sent to Galena by telegraph and only a small group in the telegraph office and later the Gazette office.

The War Comes to a Small Illinois Town. --Old B-Runner

The Civil War Comes to Galena-- Part 2

The April 1862 Battle of Shiloh brought the horrors of war home to Galena, with papers full of casualty reports during that month.

In April 1863, Admiral David Dixon Porter ran his fleet past Vicksburg on the Mississippi River and opened the way for hometown hero U.S. Grant to eventually capture the Confederate stronghold, cutting the Confederacy in half.

In April 1864, Grant gave the order to move the Army of the Potomac across the Rapidan River for his final onslaught against Confederate General Lee.

Finally, April 10, 1865, the Galena Daily Gazette reported, "Glorious! The Surrender of Lee's Army." Continuing, "On Sunday, the 9th day of April 1865, ten days less that the four years after the first hostile gun was fired on Fort Sumter, General Lee and the Rebel forces of the Confederacy have surrendered."

Many people, "who had retired to rest for the night, rushed forth into the streets to vent their feelings to the utmost limit of the human voice."

The Celebration Was On. --Old B-R'er

The Civil War Comes to Galena, Illinois-- Part 1

From the Galena "A Day in April" by Steve Repp.

The Alfred W. Mueller Historical Collections Room at the Galena Public Library has actual bound volumes of Galena newspapers dating back to 1834 through to the 1990s.

The April 15, 1861, Galena Daily Advertiser had bold headlines "Fort Sumter Surrendered." It also reported that "in our columns today will be found news of the most startling character. It moves the American heart to its depth."

President Lincoln then called for 75,000 volunteers, forcing the southern border states to follow suit and secede.

Galenian citizen Ulysses Grant later recalled, "as soon as the news of the call for volunteers reached Galena, posters were stuck up calling for a meeting at the court ceased entirely, all was excitement."

With his military background, a West Point graduate, Grant helped train the volunteers and went with them to the state capital in Springfield in late April 1861.

I'll have to pay the library a visit the next time I'm there.

Galena Goes to War. --Old B-Runner

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Civil War in the Land of Lincoln

From the April 14th Chicago Sun-Times "Remembering the Civil War in the Land of Lincoln" by Lori Rackl.

For those of you who think there wasn't any things that happened in Illinois during the war. Sure, there were no major battles, but only New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio sent more soldiers to the Union than Illinois' 259,092. Also, the state gave Lincoln and Grant to the effort.

Here are some Illinois towns and their Civil War connection:

SPRINGFIELD-- The Abraham Lincoln Museum and Library. The old state capitol, Lincoln's home and tomb.

GALENA-- U.S. Grant's rental home and tomb.

JACKSONVILLE-- Col. Benjamin Grierson's home. Led the raid that allowed Grant to capture Vicksburg.

CAIRO-- Confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. Massive military camp at Fort defiance. Mound City National Cemetery.

ALTON-- The Lincoln and Civil War Legacy Walk. Lincoln-Douglas Debate. Confederate prison. Local resident Senator Lyman Trumbull authored the 13th Amendment prohibiting slavery.

ROCK ISLAND-- Confederate prison.

So, There Is a Civil War Connection in Illinois. --Old B-R'er

A Different Look at the Slavery Question

From the April 14th "Americans keep Confederates in the attic, slaves in the cellar" by David Horsey.

Mr. Horsey brought forth some bits of information that most Americans are unfamiliar with.

New England shippers dominated the trans-Atlantic slave trade.

When abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison attacked slavery, he himself was attacked by Massachusetts in his own hometown who resented his interference.

Slavery helped build New York City.

Slavery was still legal in some northern states well into the 19th century.

Many Union soldiers were not liberal and enlightened as to racial matters.

Many Confederate soldiers were not fighting for slavery but in defense of their homes.

At the end of the war, Southerners started putting forth the idea that they were not fighting to preserve slavery, but rather to protect their way of life.

Interesting Things to Think About. --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Was the First Shot of the War Fired at Fort Sumter?

From the April 13th Chicago Tribune.

A raid by Southern sympathizers on Fort Barrancas in today's Pensacola Naval Air Station in Florida was likely the result of an ill-planned, drunken misadventure that ended with a blank shot being fired on January 8, 1861.

Civil War historian Dale Cox considers this the first shot of the war, coming a few hours before the steamer Star of the West was fired on in Charleston Harbor. Fifty US soldiers under Lt. Adam J. Slemmer were stationed at Fort Barrancas, guarding Pensacola Bay.

With Confederate sentiment seething in the area, he had ordered the fort's drawbridge raised. Around midnight, a guard heard footsteps and challenged. One of the people lurking in the darkness fired a blank. Slemmer made no comment about shots being fired that night. In 1865, R.L. Sweetman, one of the unknowns that night, wrote that a blank shot was fired that night at the fort.

So, Was It? --Old B-R'er

Fort Sumter's Ties to Biloxi, Mississippi

From the April 14th Biloxi (Ms) Sun Herald.

Samuel Wragg Ferguson accepted Major Anderson's surrender at the Battle of Fort Sumter on April 13, 1861. He moved to Biloxi after the war and had a career as an engineer and a lawyer.

He was an 1857 graduate of West Point and served in Albert Sidney Johnston's Mormon Expedition and was stationed at Walla Walla, Washington. After South Carolina seceded, he resigned and returned to his hometown of Charleston, South Carolina.

He raised the first Confederate flag over Sumter and later delivered it to the Confederate Congress in Montgomery, Alabama. At the Battle of Shiloh, he was with General Beauregard and later became Lt. Col. of the 28th Mississippi Cavalry and led them at the Battle of Farmington and Chickasaw Bluff. In 1863, he was promoted to brigadier general.

During the March to the Sea, he harassed the flanks of Sherman's army. The end of the war found him escorting the fleeing Jefferson Davis into Georgia.

After the war, he married Catherine Lee, daughter of Henry William Lee, cousin of Robert E. Lee. Settling in Mississippi, his son, James Ferguson was the Biloxi city engineer and surveyor who worked up the specifications of what became the city's seawall along US-90.

Samuel Wragg Ferguson died February 3, 1917, in Jackson and was buried in Greenwood Cemetery.

Quite a History. --Old B-Runner