The Battle of Fort Fisher, N.C.

Friday, February 28, 2014

99th New York Infantry, the "Union Coast Guard"-- Part 2

On May 14, 1861, six companies were mustered into state service. On May 28th, the 99th left the state on the steamer Coatzacouleous for Fortress Monroe.

Since they without uniforms, arms or equipment, they were not accepted into national service by General Butler and placed under guard in an open field. (Mighty unfriendly, if you ask me, but there definitely might have been something else to the story.)

On June 5th, after a confrontation, Major Burnett and 180 men returned to New York City on the same steamer. On June 14th, another 90 men returned on the steamer Stae of Georgia.

More to Come. --Old Secesh

99th New York Infantry, the Union Coast Guard-- Part 1

From the Civil War in the East "99th NY Infantry Regt. 'Union Coast Guard'."

I have been writing about this unit a lot in connection with Captain Lee and the Army gunboat Smith Briggs.

The regiment was organized in New York City as the Naval Brigade, to be provided with gunboats to cruise the Atlantic coast. They were an Army unit, but one that was at sea. I would imagine members of the 99th were familiar with the sea, just not in the Navy.

Companies G. H. I and K were recruited primarily from Massachusetts. Companies A through F also had many Massachusetts men.

The original commander was Col. William A. Bartlett.

--Old Secesh

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Union, Mississippi Saved from Sherman's Torch

From the WTOK ABC 11 News "150th Anniversary of Union Being Saved."

The 150th anniversary of the Meridian Campaign is occurring right now and much of the area in Mississippi was destroyed by Union forces.

One remainder from those days in Union is Boler's Inn, built in 1864 by Norfleet Staton who came to Mississippi from Union, North Carolina. It still stands and is now a museum.

Union troops were prepared to burn Union, Mississippi, but General Sherman got it in his head that the name of the town was Union because they supported the Union, and he spared it.

--Old Secesh

Monday, February 24, 2014

First Canadian Civil War Monument

From the Feb. 20, 2014, Seaway News (Canada) "First-ever U.S. Civil War monument going up to memorialize Canada's contribution."

In Cornwall, Canada. More than 50,000 Canadians fought on both sides of the war. The new memorial will be located in Ault Park on County Road 2 by the Lost Village Historical Society.

It will consist of a 14-foot-high black granite obelisk and 8-foot black granite side stones.

They hope to have it completed by the 150th anniversary of the Canadian Confederation on July 1, 2017.

Men from Quebec, Ontario and te Maritime Provinces enlisted on both sides. Some 34 Canadians on the Union side received Medals of Honor.

I Did Not Know That So Many Canadians Fought. --Old Secesh

Jefferson Davis Artifacts Removed from Fortress Monroe

From the Feb. 20, 2014, Hampton Roads (Va.) Daily Press "Jefferson Davis artifacts no longer on display at Fort Monroe: Army gave artifacts back to family."

Ownership of the Casemate Museum was transferred in September from the Army to the Fort Monroe Authority as the Army was preparing to turn the fort over to Virginia.

A popular site in the museum was the reconstructed cell used for former Confederate Jefferson Davis for 4 and 1/2 months in 1865 after his capture. The room had just a thin cot and small table and chair and had some items used by him while there such as a pipe and a religious medalluion. There was also a door-sized American flag and the padlock and key used to keep him imprisoned.

The items were returned to Davis' family who has not yet decided what to do with them.

--Old Secesh

Battle of Smithfield, Va.-- Part 5

B.A. Sowell wrote a letter from Hardware, Fluvanno County, Virginia, to Mr. R.S. Thomas saying that he had been a member of Captain Nat. A. Sturdivant's battery but hadn't been at the Battle of Smithfield. But, he had been at the engagement of Scott's Factory earlier. As of this date in 1906, he said that all the commissioned Confederate officers were dead so he will tell the story.

Preliminary to the battle, his battery was in winter quarters about a mile from Ivor when they received word that a Yankee gunboat was expected to come up the Nansemond River and an artillery unit might be able to capture it.

His battery was dispatched and went to Cherry Grove and waited there until after high tide and then were in the process of returning when word came that the Yankees had landed at Smithfield and were rapidly approaching. So close were they that Mr. Whitfield, the Confederate Congressman from the Smithfield district was captured. Shortly afterwards, Sturdivant's force was ambushed. Lt. Perkins of the infantry later died from his wound. Considering this was Sturdivant's first battle, he handled himself and his troops bravely and efficiently.

His battery continued serving on many battlefields throughout the duration of the war with distinction. Nathaniel Sturdivant was later promoted to major and after the war became a popular and prominent Richmond attorney.

--Old Secesh

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Battle of Smithfield, Va.-- Part 4: The Sassy Boy

The surrendered Union soldiers were taken to Ivor, including William Rodgers. Along the way they stopped at Four Square, J.O. Thomas' farm, for water. His brother, R.S. Thomas, continued: "You may remember the lady of the house as a red-hot Rebel. Captain Pipkin (NC Cav.) had on his horse behind him, a boy of your command, some twelve or thirteen years of age who was a little 'sassy' to her.

She recognized hin after the war in the Green House of the Soldier's Home, at Hampton, Va. She was admiring his flowers when there was mutual recognition." (Wonder if they "feud" continued or they made peace.)

After the Smith Briggs surrenedered it was set on fire. When the flames reached the magazine with two tons of powder, the ship was blown to pieces. The wreck remained there until 1867 or 1868 when it was removed by the government.

R.S. Thomas said he had a momento from the Feb. 1st, 1864, battle, a cannonball at his front door steps. He found it and kept it. There were other cannonballs in trees and houses around the town.

A Good Account of a Little-Known Battle. --Old Secesh

Friday, February 21, 2014

The Battle of Smithfield, Virginia-- Part 4

Thomas suggested Sturdevant divide his forces for an attack on Lee's right and left flanks. When Lee's men saw Sturdevant's Confederates coming "they broke and ran down Todd's Hill to the county wharf where they threw their artillery overboard." Lee then retreated from the wharf to Hodge's Shipyard seeking shelter under the Smith Briggs' guns.

An artillery battle ensued and a Confederate shell hit the Union gunboat in its steam chest and it surrendered instantly.

Most of Lee's force surrendered, but he and six or seven men swam the creek and were able to get away.

--Old Secesh

The Battle of Smithfield, Va.-- Part 3

They saw Capt. Lee's Union forces posted at the top of Todd's Hill at the junction of Church and Main Streets. Confederate Captain Studevant sent a letter to lee demanding his surrender.

Lee replied asking for a meeting, but J.O. Thomas told Sturdevant that the meeting was just a ploy to buy time for Lee so the gunboat could return. A flood tide was coming in and the Smith Briggs would be able to rescue Lee's force.

The demand for immediate surrender was reissued and again refused. At this time, the Smith Briggs arrived.

Sgt. Heines took the surrender demand to Lee and came galloping back as fast as he could saying the gunboat was in sight.

--Old Secesh

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Battle of Smithfield, Va.-- Part 2

At the same time Sturdevant made his move, unknown to him, the Union Army gunboat Smith Briggs had brought Captain Lee and his men to Smithfield and they had started to sweep along the river. Sturdevant's force was surprised by Lee's men at Six Oaks near Scott's Factory about four miles from Smithfield.

"A slight engagement ensued. The result of it was, Lee fell back to Smithfield and Sturdevant went on his way, westwardly, to Ivor, Virginia." Going to Ivor, he passed his brother's farm, Four Square. His brother, J.O. Thomas, had learned the strength of Lee's force and knew the gunboat (Smith Briggs), was not at Smithfield. He persuaded Sturdevant to go there. Sturdevan't larger force would be able to capture Lee's force if they moved fast.

--Old Secesh

The Battle of Smithfield, Virginia-- Part 1

From the Southern Historical Society Papers, Vol. 34 concerning the Yankee Gunboat Smith Briggs.

William Rodgers received a reply. The letter was addressed to Smithfield, Virginia, and was given to the Mayor Joyner in 1906,. He gave it to Mr. R.S. Thomas, who replied. His brother, J.O. Thomas, of Four Square, now 73, participated in the Feb. 1, 1864 engagement.

"Captain Sturdevant of Richmond, Va., with two pieces of artillery, with two small companies of North Carolina infantry, and with a few cavalrymen from that State, went down to Cherry Grove, about ten miles from Smithfield where he had a splendid and unobstructed view of the whole river from that point to Norfolk, so that he might see and report anything and everything that was going on."

--Old Secesh

A Smith Briggs Survivor Wants Information-- Part 3

William W. Rodgers wasn't a member of the Smith Brigg's crew, but was involved in the ship's final hours.

Rodgers had wanted to go to the dedication of a monument at Andersonville but couldn't because of severe rheumatism. (in 1905 to 1906) And since had been confined to his house and wanted to find out more about the battle and what happened to the Smith Briggs. He also wanted to know about the burial of the Union soldier at Ivor Station.

He said that after the battle, he was taken to Belle Island near Richmond, Virginia and then on March 10th, to Andersonville, Georgia. He arrived there on St. Patrick's Day 1864 and was released Oct. 18, 1864, and of the five who came home with him from that place, only two are still alive.

He signed it : William W. Rodgers, 2553 N. Colorado Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

--Old Secesh

Monday, February 17, 2014

A Smith Briggs Survivor Wants Information-- Part 2: Capt. Lee Was a Coward

The light draught gunboat Smith Briggs was blown up by the enemy. "Our Commander by the name of Captain Lee a New York man was a coward and he Drew us up in Line on the first road next to the Little River which I think was called Pagan Creek told the boys all who were in favor of Surrender Hold up their Right Hand.

The New Yorker Hands went up almost to a man. Only one Pennsylvanian sent up his hand.

The New Yorkers had the strongest side So Captain Lee Signed the Surrender looking as white as this paper I am writing upon."

This account of Captain Lee is certainly different from the previous accounts of his bravery and fortitude. And, it now sounds like the troops surrendered on land and not on the Smith Briggs.

Intereesting. --Old Secesh

A Smith Briggs Survivor Wants Information-- Part 1

From Southern Historical Society Papers, Vol. 34 "Yankee gunboat Smith Briggs from the Times-Dispatch, March 18, 1906 and July 15, 1906.

William W. Rodgers was a survivor of the Smith Briggs who was captured and ended up at Andersonville Prison in Georgia. He wants information from someone to find out about the ship's capture by the Rebels.

Written from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, February 22, 1906.

Mr. Rodgers said that on February 1, 1864, he was taken prisoner along with 12 New York Cavalry and a detachment of the 99th NY (I'll write more about Captain Lee's unit in a forthcoming post) along with some of his (Rodgers') Battery A 3rd Pa. Heavy Artillery and some of that unit's Battery B. He said that a total of 110 were captured.

--Old Secesh

Saturday, February 15, 2014

The Smith Briggs at the Battle of Suffolk, Virginia

From Wikipedia.

The Smith Briggs was under the command of Captain Lee (I now know his initials were J.C. and that he was in Co. I of the 99th New York Infantry) at the Battle of Suffolk, Virgina, April 13-15, 1863. It was part of the Upper Nansemond Flotilla under the command of Lt. Roswell Lamson, USN, along with one other Army gunboat and five Navy ships.

The two Army gunboats: SMITH BRIGGS under Capt. J.C. Lee of Co. I, 99th NY.

WEST END, under Capt. F.A. Rowe (I believe he commanded the Smith Briggs at the Battle of Smithfield where he was wounded and captured), of Co. E, 99th NY. So both men were from the 99th New York Infantry (so that will be another story).

Of interest also is that the Lower Nansemond Flotilla at the battle, which consisted of four U.S. Navy ships, was commanded by Lt. William B. Cushing, who later went on to great exploits against the Confederates and the sinking of the CSS Albemarle.

The Battle of Suffolk, Virginia, was in cooperation with Confederate General D.H. Hill's advance on Washington, North Carolina.

Amazing How Much I'm Finding On This Ship. --Old Secesh

Mark St. John Erickson

I used his article on the Battle of Smithfield as a jumping off point for the Smith Briggs entries and have often come across articles by him in connection with the area around Newport News in Virginia, not just the Civil War, but he's written a whole lot about the War of 1812 in the area. This man knows his history. The Jan. 21, 2014, article in the Daily Press had a short biography on him which I'll write here.

Mr. Erickson covers Hampton Roads history and museums for the Daily Press, has won 17 awards from the Virginia Preservation Association. He was born in Portsmouth and lived in Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Yorktown and Williamsburg while growing up. He is the son of a Navy engineer and graduated York High School and the College of William and Mary.

He currently resides in Hampton's Victoria Boulevard Historic District.

Now, If I Was Still Working, I'd Sure Love His Job. --Old Secesh

The Smith Briggs at the 1863 Peninsular Campaign-- Part 2

Later in the day, the Smith Briggs dropped a mile down river to prevent an enemy flank movement. On the 26th-29th, the Smith Briggs patrolled the river between White House and West Point to prevent guerrillas from intefering with transports conveying troops to White House.

On the 27th of June, the ship captured a large number of rebel horses and July 2nd destroyed an enemy battery at Cumberland Heights. From July 3rd to Union forces withdrew from the area, the Smith Briggs patrolled the Pamunkey River.

For his "arduous service well-performed, Capt. LEE enjoys the hearty respect of all connected with this department, both as an officer and a man."

The New York Times certainly had high regard for Captain Lee, an Army man commanding a gunboat. I have to wonder if he'd had sea experience before the war.

--Old Secesh

Friday, February 14, 2014

The Smith Briggs At the 1863 Peninsular Campaign-- Part 1

From the July 25, 1863, New York Times.

During these operations, also called Dix's Peninsular Campaign, the Army gunboat Smith Briggs was attached to Rear-Admiral Lee's Squadron and under the command of Captain Lee.

The Smith Briggs had just had repairs at Norfolk when it received orders from General Dix to go to Fortress Monroe and from there to Yorktown to await further orders from the Commanding General of the Department.

On June 23rd, 1863, the ship was at West Point near the mouth of the Pamunkey River. On June 24th, the Smith Briggs joined four gunboats and twelve transports and left on the 25th for White House which was found to be in possession of rebel cavalry. The gunboats opened fire and quickly dispersed them.

--Old Secesh

And Some More on the Army Gunboat Smith Briggs

From the March 26, 1863 New York Times on the new gunboat Smith Briggs.

"The new gunboat Smith Briggs (Capt. LEE, of the Ninety-ninth New York, commanding) received her guns at Fortress Monroe yesterday, and commences her services at once."

Keeping It Launched Really Fast.  --Old Secesh

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Battle of Smithfield-- Part 2

Smithfirld, Virginia

"Information was then received from prisoners and darkies" of a strong enemy force being in the vicinity and the Union troops retreated back to Smithfield and took up defensive positions along the main street.

That Confederate force attacked at 7:30 AM and after 3 1/2 hours, Captain Lee's surrender was demanded. Lee refused, saying that if they "wanted him he [they] would have to come and take him." About 12:30 PM, Lee was forced to retreat.

The gunboat Smith Briggs arrived and the Union forces had to swim out to it. The Briggs' commander Rowe was severely wounded in the throat, the engineer was seriously wounded and all of the crew but six disabled. Lee took command of the greatly disabled ship.

The pilot house was entirely demolsihed (making me wonder how the gilded eagle on it survived) and the wheel couldn't be turned but through huge efforts, they were able to get the Briggs away from shore.

At 3 PM, a shot from a Confederate cannon ashore hit the boiler and it exploded, forcing the Briggs to surrender. Only Captain Lee, a Pamucky Indian pilot and Geo. Smith (a volunteer pilot) and two other men of the 150 aboard were able to escape.

The Smith Briggs was a total wreck and in possession of the Confederates.

--Old Secesh

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Battle of Smithfield, Virginia-- Part 1

From the February 7, 1864, New York Times which reprinted it from the Feb. 2, 1864, Philadelphia Inquirer. Dated Feb. 2, 1864, from Norfolk, Virginia.

The Union force was commanded by Brigadier General Graham and consisted of the Army gunboats Smith Briggs, Flora Temple and Gen. Jessup and the Army transport Long Branch.

There were detachments from the 3rd Pennsylvania Artillery, 20th New York Cavalry, 99th New York Infantry and 1st Connecticut Infantry.

The force proceeded up the James River to Logan Creek and Smithfield. Ninety men under Captain Lee of the Norfolk Harbor Police landed from the Long Branch and the gunboats left to go up the Nansemond River.

Lee traveled 4 1/2 miles toward Suffolk where he surprised about 250 Confederates and two 12-pdrs and drove them off easily.

More to Come. --Old Secesh

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Army Gunboat Smith Briggs

A photo of the gilded eagle taken from the Smith Briggs accompanies the article. It was taken by Confederate soldier Joseph Chapman Norswiorthy who removed it from the ship's pilot house. It can now be seen at the Isle of Wight Courthouse on Main Street in Smithfield, Virginia.

The Smith Briggs was an Army gunboat which had taken part in the Battle of Suffolk while a part of the Upper Nansemond Flotilla under Lt. Roswell Lamson, USN who was commanding the USS Mount Washington. There is not a lot information about the ship.

--Old Secesh

150 Years Ago: The Battle of Smithfield, Virginia-- Part 2

Continued from Feb. 3rd.

Both columns were successful early on, but the Smithfield group retreated to town and set up defensive positions in the main street and after a brisk fight, by the end of Feb. 1st, more than 100 were captured.

The battered wreck of the Army gunboat Smith Briggs was left burning on the Pagan River and exploded, breaking the glass in windows all over town.

Smithfild doctor Herbert S. Southgate's grandfather took the ship's gilded eagle figurehead as a trophy.

The sesquecentennial observance of the battle took place Feb. 1st from 10 to 4 at the Isle of Wight Museum.

--Old Secesh

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Stonewall Confederate Cemetery in Winchester, Va.-- Part 4

From Civil War Wiki Net.

Some 2,500 Confederates, casualties of the Battles of Winchester, Cool Springs and Kernstown, are buried here in Winchester, Virginia. The exact number is 2,575, of which 829 are unknown. It is part of the Mount Hebron Cemetery, originally called the Lutheran Church Cemetery when it opened in 1799 as a 1.25 acre plot. In 1844, it expanded and incorporated as Mount Horeb Cemetery.

The 815 unknown are buried in a common mound in the center of the Stonewall Confederate Cemetery. The remaining 1679 are in individual graves, buried by state:


There are also 87 unassigned graves and 12 state markers by each plot.

During the Third Battle of Winchester, the cemetery was part of the Confederate defenses. "Many of those buried here lie near where they fell in battle."

Union dead are buried in the National Cemetery, just across Woodstock Lane.

The Story of a Cemetery. --Old Secesh

Stonewall Confederate Cemetery in Winchester, Virginia-- Part 3

Other notables buried there:

Major General John George Walker

Brigadier General ARCHIBALD GODWIN of the 57th North Carolina killed September 19, 1864 at the Third Battle of Winchester (along with Glover and Patton).

Col. DANIEL HARVEY CHRISTIE, 23rd NC, mortally wounded at first day of Gettysburg. Died July 17, 1863.


Brigadier General ROBERT DANIEL JOHNSON, 23rd NC, wounded at Battle of Seven Pines and again at Gettysburg. Died 1919.

Col. CHARLES CHRISTOPHER BLACKNOLL of the 23rd NC. Wounded on first day of Gettysburg when the regiment was ambushed and every field officer either killed or wounded. Major Blacknoll was shot through the mouth and neck and captured.

Upon exchange, he became colonel of the 23rd. He was wounded again at the Third Battle of Winchester, this time in the foot. Surgeons wanted to amputate it, but he refused, saying "I'll live yet to dance on that foot." He recovered and returned to service, but the wound proved mortal and he died November 6, 1864.

--Old Secesh

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Stonewall Confederate Cemetery in Winchester, Va.-- Part 2; Ancestors of Famous World War II General

Probably the best-known burial is that of GENERAL TURNER ASHBY.

Other notable burials include COLONEL GEORGE SMITH PATTON of the 22nd Virginia who was mortally wounded at the Third Battle of Winchester (along with Lt. Col. Glover) and died September 26, 1864.

COLONEL WALLER TAZEWELL PATTON, colonel of the 7th Virginia, mortally wounded at Pickett's Charge and died July 21, 1863 of an artillery wound to the face.

I couldn't help but notice the last name was the same as famous World War II General George S. Patton. George Smith Patton was his grandfather and namesake and Waller Tazewell Patton was his great uncle.

I Sure Didn't Know That. --Old Secesh

Monday, February 3, 2014

150 Years Ago: Battle of Smithfield, Virginia-- Part 1

I mentioned this on my February 1st post in my Civil War Navy Blog, Running the Blockade.

This battle took place February 1, 1864. I'd never heard of the Battle of Smithfield before (nor did I even know there was a town by that name in Virginia).

I found this article in the Jan. 31, 2014, Hampton Roads (Va.) Daily Press "Hampton Roads History: Cannon fire thunders down Main Street 150 years ago in fiery Battle of Smithfield" by Mark St. John Erickson.

During the Civil War, the Union ships blockading the Hampton Roads area were often fired on from shore while they patrolled. This battle was a result of those actions.

In late January 1864, the near-grounding of a Union vessel from these shots from the James River bank caused four gunboats, two armed Navy launches and detachments of infantry, cavalry and artillery to land at Smithfield and Chuckaluck on January 31st for a two-pronged sweep along the banks to help eliminate this Confederate practice.

More to Come. --Old Secesh

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Stonewall Confederate Cemetery in Winchester, Virginia-- Part 1

From Find-A-Grave Site.

This grew out of my research on Elizabeth Susan Glover (the Mother of Confederate Reunions), the 21st Georgia Infantry and her husband, Lt. Col. Thomas Glover, killed at the Third Battle of Winchester in 1864.

I found out he was buried in this cemetery so did some more research on it and found many interesting things as well as notable Confederates buried there. No wonder it takes so long to get things done on this blog. One thing leads to another and so on and so on.

The Stonewall Confederate Cemetery in Winchester, Virginia, is located at 305 E. Boscawen Street and is the last resting place of over 3,000 Confederates who died in battle or hospitals around Winchester. It was dedicated in 1866 as part of the Mount Hebron Cemetery.

Much More to Come. --Old Secesh

Grave of Dr. Thomas Coke Glover

From Find-A-Grave Site.

Born January 28, 1826, in Augusta, Richmond County, Georgia. Died September 19, 1864, at Winchester, Virginia.

Buried at Stonewall Confederate Cemetery in Winchester, Virginia. A total of 1850 are buried there.

Lt. Col. 21st Georgia. They have him being listed as KIA at the Battle of the Wilderness and the Battle of Winchester. I think someone just got confused as he was killed at Winchester.

He married Elizabeth Susan Camp (The Mother of Confederate Reunions) in 1852. She is buried in Corsicana, Texas.

--Old Secesh