Tuesday, March 29, 2011

U.S. Navy Memorial/NHHC Civil War at Sea Conference Confirmed Speakers

Civil War at Sea Symposium
23 April 2011
9:00 am - 5:00 pm

Last week, we posted that The United States Navy Memorial is holding a symposium to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.  The Naval History and Heritage Command will co-host the event, highlighting the U.S. Navy’s role in, and contributions to, the outcome of the war.  Here is a list of some of the confirmed speakers for the event. 

Speakers include:

v      Keynote speaker Craig Symonds, renowned Civil War historian and author of award-winning books Lincoln and His Admirals and The Civil War at Sea, will kick off the event and give an overview of the Confederate and Union navies.  Symonds is a retired professor and chairman of the history department at the United States Naval Academy.

v      Robert J. Schneller, Jr. has been a historian in the Contemporary History Branch at the Naval Historical Center since 1991. He is the editor of Under the Blue Pennant, or Notes of a Naval Officer, 1863-1865, by John W. Grattan; co-writer of Shield and Sword: The United States Navy and the Persian Gulf War; and author of  A Quest for Glory: A Biography of Rear Admiral John A. Dahlgren.

v      Howard J. Fuller is Senior Lecturer of War Studies in the Department of History as well as a Core Member of the History and Governance Research Institute's Conflict Studies Research Group at the University of Wolverhampton. He specializes in Anglo-American 19th-century history, particularly the American Civil War and the British Empire.

v      Andy Jampoler is a retired U.S. Navy Captain.  Jampoler, who served in Vietnam, has an extensive background, including working at the Pentagon and commanding a land-based maritime patrol aircraft squadron, as well as a naval air station.  During the 1970s and 80s, he flew Lockheed P-3 airplanes in search of Soviet submarines. After retiring from the Navy, he worked in the international aerospace industry and then moved on to become a full-time writer.

v      Matthew T. Eng serves as Deputy Educator of the Hampton Roads Naval Museum in Norfolk, VA.  Eng is also the Coordinator for the Navy History & Heritage Command's Civil War Sesquicentennial.

v      Gordon Calhoun is the publication editor and command historian for the Hampton Roads Naval Museum.  He contributes to the museum’s exhibits including National Emergency: Local Navy Units in The Cold War and One Hundred Years of Silence: The Submarine Force at 100, as well as edits the museum’s quarterly journal of local history The Daybook.

v      William Connery is a seasoned writer in history and culture.  He has authored more than two dozen articles on various aspects of the American Civil War.  Connery, who writes for The Washington Times, served as the executive assistant to the Chairman of The Washington Times from 2006-2009 and as editor covering domestic/worldwide political and social issues for a general-interest monthly magazine.

v      Robert Browning is the Chief Historian for the U.S. Coast Guard.  He is the author of several books include From Cape Charles to Cape Fear: The North Atlantic Blockading Squadron During the Civil War and U.S. Merchant Vessel War Casualties of World War II¸ as well as numerous booklets and more than 50 articles. 

This information is reproduced from the U.S. Navy Memorial Website.  For more information, go to: http://www.navymemorial.org/Events/CivilWaratSea/tabid/142/Default.aspx

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Story of the DuPont Circle Fountain

Rear Admiral Samuel Francis DuPont is, of course, one of the most famous naval figures of the Civil War, so it makes sense that the fountain located in DuPont Circle and dedicated to his memory is one of the most famous landmarks in Washington, DC. This fountain, however, was not the first tribute to DuPont that stood in the park.

In 1882, Congress approved a monument to DuPont. The monument would be paid for by the DuPont family, and it was to be placed in what was then called Pacific Circle. Sculptor Launt Thompson took on the task of creating the DuPont statue. The completed bronze rendition of DuPont was dedicated on 20 December 1884.

Anyone who has ever visited DuPont Circle knows that this statue no longer exists in that location. Perhaps some who have visited Wilmington, Delaware have noticed it in that city instead. It was moved to Wilmington in 1920 by the DuPont family.

The fountain that now represents DuPont in Washington, DC is actually a product of the famous sculptor, Daniel Chester French, and architect, Henry Bacon. These men also collaborated on another well-known memorial - the Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall. The fountain includes three allegorical figures, each standing 8.5 feet tall. These figures represent the Wind, the Sea, and the Stars, which together symbolize the life at sea that DuPont and the rest of the Civil War Navy enjoyed.

But why was the statue moved and the fountain constructed in its place? Some credit monument reformers who had grown tired of heroic representations of figures in statue form and advocated for more abstract concepts in the forms of fountains and other non-statues. This is thought to be the only situation in which monument reformers managed to remove a statue from a location in Washington, DC and replace it with their version of a proper monument.

So if you ever find yourself in DuPont Circle, while contemplating DuPont the great naval figure, also contemplate the hubbub caused by the efforts to make him monumental.

Friday, March 25, 2011

1861 by Walt Whitman

ARM’D year! year of the struggle!
No dainty rhymes or sentimental love verses for you, terrible year!
Not you as some pale poetling, seated at a desk, lisping cadenzas
But as a strong man, erect, clothed in blue clothes, advancing,
      carrying a rifle on your shoulder,
With well-gristled body and sunburnt face and hands–with a knife in
      the belt at your side,
As I heard you shouting loud–your sonorous voice ringing across the
Your masculine voice, O year, as rising amid the great cities,
Amid the men of Manhattan I saw you, as one of the workmen, the
      dwellers in Manhattan;
Or with large steps crossing the prairies out of Illinois and
Rapidly crossing the West with springy gait, and descending the
Or down from the great lakes, or in Pennsylvania, or on deck along
      the Ohio river;
Or southward along the Tennessee or Cumberland rivers, or at
      Chattanooga on the mountain top,
Saw I your gait and saw I your sinewy limbs, clothed in blue, bearing
      weapons, robust year;
Heard your determin’d voice, launch’d forth again and again;
Year that suddenly sang by the mouths of the round-lipp’d cannon,
I repeat you, hurrying, crashing, sad, distracted year.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

George Dewey: Admiral and Civil War Sailor

On this date in 1903 (24 March 1903), George Dewey (1837-1917) was commissioned as an Admiral of the Navy with the date of rank 2 March 1899.  He was the only person to ever hold that distinction.  Dewey himself, best known for his actions during the Spanish American War, began his service in the United States Navy during the antebellum period of American history.  After graduating from the United States Naval Academy in 1858, Dewey was sent to the USS Saratoga and later the Wabash as a Midshipman. 

During the American Civil War, Dewey was promoted to Lieutenant just one week after the war broke out at Fort Sumter.  During the period 26 April 1861, until 30 August 1867, he had consecutive service on USS Mississippi, USS Brooklyn, USS Agawam, USS Colorado, USS Kearsarge, USS Canadiagua, and again USS Colorado.

According to William J. Lawrence's A Concise Life of Admiral George Dewey, the young officer was personally commended by Admiral David D. Porter at the Battle of Fort Fisher for seizing the initiative to take out a number of works on shore.  The New York Times picked up the story in their depiction of the battle, thus making the future Admiral an up and coming star in the eyes of the American public. 

His service record during the Civil War included service in the West Gulf and North Atlantic Blockading Squadron.  By the end of the war, Dewey held the rank of Lieutenant Commander (3 March 1865).

Thursday, March 17, 2011

"Civil War at Sea" Symposium at the Navy Memorial

In honor of the first year of the sesquicentennial of the American Civil War, there will be a Civil War Navy Symposium co-hosted by the Navy Memorial and Naval History and Heritage Command at the Navy Memorial's Heritage Center.  The event, which will be highlighted by keynote speaker and acclaimed Civil War historian Craig Symonds, will also show living history demonstrations, displays, and activities for all participants who attend.  

Seating is limited,  so if you plan to attend, please RSVP by emailing mweber@navymemorial.org.   CWN 150 Coordinator Matthew Eng, HRNM Historian and Daybook Editor Gordon Calhoun, and CWN150 Undergraduate Program Coordinator Sarah Adler are scheduled to attend.  Come stop by the HRNM table and pick up a copy of the Special Edition Civil War Daybook if you haven't already.  

The event address is:

701 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

River Blast 2011 Day 2

13 March 2011

9:00 AM. Arrived back at the site. Since Sunday morning was a bit slow, in terms of visitors, I took some time to roam through the Port Columbus museum. In yesterday's post, I mentioned a few of the things the museum features. It is a treasure trove of artifacts, exhibits, displays, artwork and information on the US and CS Navies in the Civil War. The museum boasts one of the largest collections of jacks and flags flown on ships of both navies. Exhibits include a full-size replica of a portion of the hull of the USS Hartford (which you can walk through to view berth deck, wardroom and captain's cabin), a full size replica of the turret of the USS Monitor, a full-size replica of the gun deck of the CSS Albemarle, and their signature piece; the remains of the CSS Jackson.

The Jackson display consists of the remains of the wooden hull of the gunboat, and a metal framework suspended over the hull indicates the dimensions of the iron casemate. Oval shapes on the framework show the locations of the gunports in the casemate. Behind the museum in a storage area are some of the actual iron plates used on the casemate.

11:00 AM. Worked on a gun crew again firing the Brooke rifle. The museum also has a 12 pdr Dahlgren boat howitzer which they periodically fired. Like the Brooke, this howitzer is real, not a replica.

12 Noon to 4:00 PM. Spent some more time on the Water Witch and in camp talking with visitors. The museum estimated that they had 400-500 visitors over the weekend.

Museum director Bruce Smith (as USN Captain) and members of the USS Fort Henry Living History Association. Yours truly on the right.

River Blast 2011 Day 1

A week ago, fellow CWNS Blogger Matt Eng provided reports from the Battle of Hampton Roads event in Virginia. He inspired me to do the same for the 2011 River Blast event held at the Port Columbus Museum of Civil War Naval History in Columbus, GA the weekend of 12-13 March.

12 March 2011

9:00 AM. Arrived on-site and found the other guys of my unit that came up from Florida for this event. We had a display in the navy encampment with other units and volunteers from the museum.

10:00 AM. Wow! I was "drafted" to serve on one of the gun crews that fires the museum's 7" Brooke rifle every hour. This piece is the real thing, not a replica, salvaged from the wreck of the CSS Jackson, which was raised several years ago from the adjacent Chattahoochee River. The hourly firing of the rifle is one of the signature events at River Blast. My crew was made up of sailors and marines from the USS Pawnee Living History Group and my own unit, the USS Fort Henry.

11:00 AM. Spent some time hanging out on the full-size replica of the Water Witch and talking to museum visitors. This ship was a side-wheel steamer which saw service on both sides during the war. She served as a US gunboat during much of the war, as part of the S. Atlantic Blockading squadron, and was captured by the Confederates in 1864. She was burned near the conclusion of the war to prevent recapture; museum staff report that her remains may have been found in the Savannah River.

12 Noon to 5:00 PM. Spent some time inside the museum on their USS Hartford display talking to visitors about the naval history of the Civil War, as well as additional firings of the Brooke rifle and hanging out with my shipmates at our display in the navy camp.

Monday, March 14, 2011

CWN 150 Selected by the LOC for Web Archiving

The United States Library of Congress has selected the CWN 150 blog for inclusion in the historic collection of Internet materials related to the American Civil War Sesquicentennial.

The Library of Congress preserves the Nation's cultural artifacts and provides enduring access to them. The function of the library in acquiring, cataloging, preserving and serving collection materials of historical importance to the Congress and the American people fosters education and scholarship, which extends to digital materials, including websites.

LOC Web Archives are important because they contribute to the historical record, capturing information that could otherwise be lost. With the growing role of the Web as an influential medium, records of historic events could be considered incomplete without materials that were "born digital" and never printed on paper. For more information about these Web Archive collections, please visit their website (http://www.loc.gov/webarchiving/).

Thursday, March 10, 2011

David Dixon Porter Wins Final Poll!

After 15 Weeks of voting, the final winner is finally decided!

A few months ago, we began a series of polls asking readers of the CWN 150 Blog: Who Was the Greatest Naval Officer During the Civil War. Over the course of the following months, readers voted on their favorite naval officer, Union and Confederate, ultimately deciding that Admiral David Dixon Porter (with 27 votes) is the greatest. Admiral Raphael Semmes received 14 votes during this past week's final round. Here is a breakdown of the polls, in case you forgot (Winners are bolded).

Week 1
John Worden
David G. Farragut
David D. Porter
William Goldsborough

Week 2
John Dahlgren
Samuel F. Du Pont
John Rodgers
Charles H. Davis

Week 3
Samuel P. Lee
William Cushing
Charles Wilkes
John Winslow

Week 4
Andrew H. Foote
Silas Stringham
Winfield Scott
Richard W. Meade

Week 5
Raphael Semmes
Josiah Tattnal
French Forrest
Duncan Ingraham

Week 6
James Bullock
Sydney S. Lee
George Dixon
Thomas Lockwood

Week 7
Catesby a.p. Jones
John T. Wood
John M. Brooke
James Montgomery

Week 8
Franklin Buchanan
John Maffitt
Samuel Barron
Matthew F. Maury

Week 9 (Quarterfinals)
David Dixon Porter
John Dahlgren

Week 10 (Quarterfinals)
William Cushing
Andrew H. Foote

Week 11 (Quarterfinals)
Raphael Semmes
John M. Brooke

Week 12 (Quarterfinals)
Thomas Lockwood
Matthew F. Maury

Week 13 (Semifinals)
David Dixon Porter
William Cushing

Week 14 (Semifinals)
Raphael Semmes
Matthew F. Maury

Week 15 (Finals)
David Dixon Porter
Raphael Semmes

From everybody at the CWN 150, thank you for your participation and continued support. We will begin other polls at a future date. If you have any ideas on what you would like to see on this blog, feel free to email Matthew Eng at matthew.t.eng@navy.mil.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

"The First of Iron-Clads," John Taylor Wood

 Currier & Ives Illustration

Today marks the 149th anniversary of the storied engagement between the USS Monitor and CSS Virginia.  The following is an excerpt from an account of the Monitor and Virginia (Titled "The First of Iron-Clads") from John Taylor Wood, CSA. No changes have been made to the original text to keep with the historical integrity of the document. 

Excerpt from "The First of Iron-Clads"

But at daybreak we discovered, lying between us and the Minnesota, a strange-looking craft, which we knew at once to be Ericson's Monitor, which had long been expected in Hampton Roads, and of which, from different sources, we had a good idea. She could not possibly have made her appearance at a more inopportune time for us, changing our plans, which were to destroy the Minnesota, and then the remainder of the fleet below Fort Monroe. She appeared but a pigmy compared with the lofty frigate which she guarded. But in her size was one great element of her success. I will not attempt a description of the Monitor; her build and peculiarities are well known.

                        After an early-breakfast, we got under way and steamed out toward the enemy, opening fire from our bow pivot, and closing in to deliver our starboard at short range, which was returned promptly from her 11-inch guns. Both vessels then turned and passed again still closer. The Monitor was firing every seven or eight minutes, and nearly shot struck. Our ship was working worse and worse, and after the loss of the smoke-stack, Mr.Ramsey, chief engineer, reported that the draught was so poor that it was with great difficulty he could keep up steam. Once or twice the ship was on the bottom. Drawing 22 feet of water, we were confined to a narrow channel, while the Monitor, with only 12 feet immersion, could take any position, and always have us in range of her guns. Orders were given to concentrate our fire on the pilot-house, and with good result, as we afterward learned. More than two hours had passed, and we had made no impression on the enemy so far as we could discover, while our wounds were slight. Several times the Monitor ceased firing, and we were in hopes she was disabled, but the revolution again of her turret and the heavy blows of her 11-inch shot on our sides soon undeceived us.
                        Coming down from the spar-deck, and observing a division standing "at ease," Lieutenant Jones inquired:
                        "Why are you not firing, Mr.Eggleston?"
                        "Why, our powder is very precious," replied the lieutenant; "and after two hours' incessant firing I find that I can do her about as much damage by snapping my thumb at her every two minutes and a half."
                        Lieutenant Jones now determined to run her down or board her. For nearly an hour we maneuvered for a position. Now "Go ahead!" now "Stop!" now "Astern!" The ship was unwieldy as Noah's ark. At last an opportunity offered. "Go ahead, full speed!" But before the ship gathered headway, the Monitor turned, and our disabled ram only gave a glancing blow, effecting nothing. Again she came up on our quarter, her bow against our side, and at this distance fired twice. Both shots struck about half-way up the shield, abreast of the after pivot, and the impact forced the side in bodily two or three inches. All the crews of the after guns were knocked over by the concussion, and bled from the nose or ears. Another shot at the same place would have penetrated. While alongside, boarders were called away; but she dropped astern before they could get on board. And so, for six or more hours, the struggle was kept up. At length, the Monitor withdrew over the middle ground where we could not follow, but always maintaining a position to protect the Minnesota. To have run our ships ashore on a falling tide would have been ruin. We awaited her return for an hour; and at 2 o'clock p.m. steamed to Sewell's Point, and thence to the dockyard at Norfolk, our crew thoroughly worn out from the two days' fight. Although there is no doubt that the Monitor first retired,- for Captain Van Brunt, commanding the Minnesota, so states in his official report,-the battle was a drawn one, so far as the two vessels engaged were concerned. But in its general results the advantage was with the Monitor. Our casualties in the second day's fight were only a few wounded.
                        This action demonstrated for the first time the power and efficiency of the ram as a means of offense. The side of the Cumberland was crushed like an egg-shell. The Congress, even with our disabled bow, would have shared the same fate but that we could not reach them on account of our great draught.
                        It also showed the power of resistance of two iron-clads, widely differing in construction, model, and armament, under a fire which in a short time would have sunk any other vessel then afloat.
                        The Monitor was well handled, and saved the Minnesota and the remainder of the fleet at Fort Monroe. But her gunnery was poor. Not a single shot struck us at the water-line, where the ship was utterly unprotected and where one would have been fatal. Or had the fire been concentrated on any one spot, the shield would have been pierced; or had larger charges been used, the result would have been the same. Most of her shot struck us obliquely, breaking the iron of both courses, but not injuring the wood backing. When struck at right angles, the backing would be broken, but not penetrated. We had no solid projectiles, except a few of large windage, to be used as hot shot, and, of course, made no impression on the turret. But in all this it should be borne in mind that both vessels were on their trial trip, both were experimental, and both were receiving their baptism of fire.
                        On our arrival at Norfolk, Commodore Buchanan sent for me. I found him at the Naval Hospital, badly wounded and suffering greatly. He dictated a short dispatch to Mr.Mollory, Secretary of the Navy, stating the return of the ship and the result of the two days' fight, and directed me to proceed to Richmond with it and the flag of the Congress, and make a verbal report of the action, condition of the Virginia, etc.
I took the first train for Petersburg and the capital. The news had preceded me, at every station I was warmly received, and to listening crowds was forced to repeat the story of the fight. Arriving at Richmond, I drove to Mr. Mallory's office and with him went to President Davis's, where we met Mr.Benjamin, who, a few days afterward, became Secretary of State, Mr.Seddon, afterward Secretary of War, General Cooper, Adjutant-General, and a number of others. I told at length what had occurred on the previous two days, and what changes and repairs were necessary to the Virginia. As to the future, I said that in the Monitor we had met our equal, and that the result of another engagement would be very doubtful.
Mr. Davis made many inquiries as regarded the ship's draught, speed, and capabilities, and urged the completion of the repairs at as early as a day as possible. The conversation lasted until near midnight. During the evening the flag of the Congress, which was a very large one, was brought in, and to our surprise, in unfolding it, we found it in some places saturated with blood. On this discovery it was quickly rolled up and sent to the Navy Department, where it remained during the war; it doubtless burned with that building when Richmond was evacuated.
                        The news of our victory was received everywhere in the South with the most enthusiastic rejoicing. Coming, as it did, after a number of disasters in the south and west, it was particularly grateful. Then again, under the circumstances, so little was expected from the navy that this success was entirely unlooked for. So, from one extreme to the other, the most extravagant anticipation's were formed of what the ship could do. For instance: the blockade could be raised, Washington leveled to the ground, New York laid under contribution, and so on. At the North, equally groundless alarm was felt. As an example of this, Secretary Welles relates what took place at a Cabinet meeting called by Mr. Lincoln on the receipt of the news. "The Merrimac,' said Stanton,`will change the whole character of the war; she will destroy, seritim, every naval vessel; she will lay all the cities on the seaboard under contribution. I shall immediately recall Burnside; Port Royal must be abandoned. I will notify the governors and municipal authorities in the North to take instant measures to protect their harbors.' He had no doubt, he said, that the monster was at this moment on her way to Washington; and, looking out the window, which commanded a view of the Potomac for many miles, `Not unlikely, we shall have a shell  or cannon-ball from one of her guns in the White House before we leave this room.' Mr.Seward, usually buoyant and self-reliant, overwhelmed with the intelligence, listened, in responsive sympathy to Stanton, and was greatly depressed, as indeed, were all the members."

An Account of the First Day of the Battle of Hampton Roads

On this anniversary of the Battle of Hampton Roads, we presented a slightly different account of the battle. Below is a partial account as told by  Henry Reaney, a volunteer U.S. Naval officer.  At the time of the battle, Reaney was serving as the commanding officer of the armed tug USS Zouave.  His ship was one of several armed tugs assigned to U.S. Naval blockading forces in Hampton Roads.  The U.S. Navy's mishandling of the tugs was one of the reasons for the loss of both Cumberland and Congress, as the they were suppose to help the large warships manuever in the calm waters. 

Reaney published two accounts of the battle.  One was for Battles and Leaders (which can be found at http://ehistory.osu.edu/osu/books/battles/vol1/pageview.cfm?page=714&dir=712). He recalled the battle a second time in 1897 for a public presentation before the Loyal Legion of the United States.    The full account can be found at http://books.google.com/books?pg=PA167&dq=Henry+REANEY+Navy&id=Kax2AAAAMAAJ#v=onepage&q=Henry%20REANEY%20Navy&f=false.

"We had a 30-pound Parrot rifle gun forward and a 24-pound Dahlgren Howitzer aft. We took deliberate aim, fired six shots at her without a reply. About this time the Cumberland hoisted our recall signal and we ran to her. She wanted us to give her a pull, so that she could bring her broadside to bear on the Merrimac [sic] now within range. The Congress was also at quarters, and shore batteries at Newport News had opened fire. It was getting quite warm about this time; all our ships and shore batteries in full blaze and still no response from the enemy. We were astern and close to the Cumberland and doing our best at the Merrimac, every one of our shot striking, but seemingly not disturbing her.

" On she came until about a half a mile off; she let go one of her forward pivot guns, which knocked out most of the crew of the after pivot gun on the Cumberland; then passing close to the Congress, she poured a broadside into her, and came right on to the Cumberland. By this time the engagement became general; the Patrick Henry and the Jamestown, from Richmond, and the three gunboats from Norfolk opened fire; the Merrimac had rammed the Cumberland and turned her attention to the Congress, which vessel had slipped her moorings, hoisted her jib and foretopsail. It being calm, and finding her sails of no use, she hoisted my recall signal.

"We were in rather a tight place, being between the fire of the gunboats from Norfolk and Patrick Henry and Jamestown from Richmond, and our own batteries from shore, the shot from which was falling all around us. However, we had to leave the Cumberland, her flag still flying and her guns thundering, though it was plain to us that she would soon be at the bottom of the river, as the water was flowing into her forward gun-deck ports and her stern rising. It seemed to me cruel to leave her, but I had to obey orders and go to the assistance of the Congress."

Monday, March 7, 2011

Day 1 (Ctd.) and Day 2 of the Battle of Hampton Roads Weekend

NEWS FROM THE FRONT! (Continued Day 1)

March 5, 2011

1:00 pm: Attended the second lecture of the day focusing on the efforts of the Blockade during the Civil War. The 1:00 lecture centered on the role of the "Grey Ghost," CSS Alabama, and its operations throughout its storied history. Dr. William S. Dudley, former director of the Naval Historical Center (now the Naval History and Heritage Command), was the speaker for the event. After discussing the elements that surround the theories of Union and Confederate strategy and sea power at the start of the war, Dr. Dudley recounted the legendary story of the Alabama and her crew which captured over two dozen ships during her service.

James D. Bulloch (left)
 He recalled the interesting "cloak and dagger" story of James D. Bulloch, chief foreign agent of the Confederacy, and the attempts by a Union network of spies to find info pertaining to any and all ships made in Liverpool for the purpose of commerce raiding. Charles Francis Adams readily employed spies to shipyards in Liverpool to question (or pose as) workers of the elusive ship "No. 290," originally destined for merchant trading. Adams being the diplomat and student of law knew such design and construction would result in the breaking of the British Foreign Enlistment Act, which they later paid to the tune of $15.5 million dollars in the years after the war.

2:10 pm: HRNM Shout out! Somebody in the audience asked "Will they ever bring up the artifacts from the CSS Florida." Well, sir, you can always come down and see them for yourself at the Hampton Roads Naval Museum on display!
The Makeup of the Union Blockade: Strategy and Implementation
2:30 pm: The final presentation of the day was by Dr. Robert Browning, chief historian of the United States Coast Guard. His presentation, titled "'None can be more vigilant than we are': the Union Blockade During the Civil War," went through what he called the "nuts and bolts" of the blockade, breaking it down from the ships and organization to the tactics used by the U.S. Navy to enforce it. It is interesting to note how he described the makeup of blockade runners themselves; very informative. He also identified Wilmington as the most important blockade running port. It was not the most powerful, but important port, for it "became synonymous with Confederate blockade running during the war."
Dr. Browning's presentation was insightful and well received by the audience. Interestingly enough, I found out from Dr. Browning that there was a blockade runner actually named LET HER RIP. Incredible! Here it is reproduced here, renamed the USS Wando:

In my opinion, it will always be Let Her Rip.

6 March 2011 (Day 2): Mariners' Museum, Newport News, VA

11:20 am: I arrived back at the Mariners' Museum. Things are pretty quiet right now, but I can see a small group of people once again waiting to get in. There is a slow and steady drizzle of rain outside, keeping a majority of the living history reenactors at bay for the days events.

12:00 pm: Guests are beginning to roll in. I only have about 20 of the Civil War Special Edition Daybooks left, which means we unloaded over 250 of them this weekend! A lot of people are showing up right from the start. In the immortal words of Milli Vanilli, "blame it on the rain."

1:00 pm: One of the highlights of the entire weekend was seeing Jeff Johnston speak about some interesting developments from the Monitor National Marine Sanctuary. They have all really come a long way since it was discovered back in 1974.

Examples from the LSU Faces Lab

A majority of the presentation focused on the two Monitor sailors (named Monitor #1 and Monitor #2) recovered in 2002 inside the turret. The process of narrowing down the 4 officers and 12 enlisted men who were lost during the 31 December 1862 is quite the daunting task. From their research, Jeff detailed how they have narrowed it down to just a few names, a remarkable feat. This will be further aided by forensic technology, and generous pro bono work from the LSU Faces Laboratory. They will spearhead efforts to recreate the faces of the two sailors with cutting edge technology. Geaux Tigers!
The ultimate goal of the project with LSU would be to put a face, and ultimately a name, to the two sailors. The proposed date for the burial will be on the 150th anniversary of their death at Arlington National Cemetery. It is of note that this project is also in coordination with the Naval History and Heritage Command.

It is a sobering thought to realize the potential of finding faces and names to these unidentified skeletal remains. Unknown for nearly 150 years, both sailors have the potential to finally seek peace. Jeff commented how we never want to put another "unknown soldier" into the ground. The lecture was definitely the highlight of the events this weekend.

All in all, it was a fantastic time. I look forward to continue to work with Anna and the gang at the Mariners' Museum in the future!

- Matthew T. Eng

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Day 1 at the Battle of Hampton Roads Weekend

During the Battle of Hampton Roads Weekend Event at the Mariners' Museum this weekend, I am keeping a diary of events and observations along the way. - Matthew T. Eng

5 March 2011: Mariners' Museum Newport News, VA (Part 1 of 2)

Early Morning at the Mariners' with Bivouac Tents.  View from my table 

 9:30 am: Everything is set up for the Hampton Roads Naval Museum.  There are Civil War Navy Special Edition Daybooks, Blacks in Blue Jackets pamphlets, and HRNM brochures.  Things are pretty quiet right now, but I can see a small line of people at the outside of the building waiting to get in.  Outside, several living history groups are setting up tents and artillery for the day's presentations.  The day should be fairly busy.  I'm at a booth currently next to Hampton historian and author John Quarstein and the Virginia War Museum.  John has a new book out called The Monitor Boys.  It sounds like an interesting read. This weekend might be the first time that anybody has seen the book since its been released.  I also had a chance to talk to Dr. Robert Browning and his wife.  Dr. Browning is the Chief Historian of the U.S. Coast Guard.  He is doing a presentation later this afternoon on the Blockading Squadron during the War.   I'm looking forward to today's events.

 The Norfolk Light Artillery Blues Open Fire

10:30 am:  The artillery demonstrations startled me, but I am getting used to it.  Walking around, I talked to a fellow exhibitor who has an impressive collection of Confederate and Union naval swords, Gerald Roxbury.  Apparently, he used to show displays at the Naval Museum.

10:45 am: A lot of guests i talk to are interested and intrigued with the Special Edition Daybook.  It's only been 45 minutes since the museum opened and I've gone through about 60 of them.  If you haven't read it, you should HERE.  Free to download, or come stop by the Mariners' Museum and pick one up yourself!

11:00 am: I took a little time to go visit the new exhibit outside the Monitor Center titled "Up Pops the Monitor."  It is really neat.  It has quite the "retro" theme to it.  So retro, that Mariners' VP Anna Holloway told me they served Tab and tater tots at the grand opening a few days back.    It explores the popular cultures of the Monitor, focusing on the "name" used to advertise products from books and art to even refrigerators!  Really cool stuff.  I took a couple of pictures from the exhibit.  They even had a running of the film Hearts in Bondage, the 1936 classic about the Battle of Hampton Roads.  Here are some of the photos:
Sinking of the USS Monitor, 1979 by Robert Ewell

Books, Magazines, and Comic Books Portraying the Monitor

Monitor Top Fridge!
12:00 pm: Talked to a Civil War Marine who works with the Tidewater Maritime Living History Association.  Along the same lines, there was a guest who apparently donated materials to HRNM fron his time in the 4th Marine Division during WWII.  Interesting stuff.  I think its time that I go for lunch. 

Friday, March 4, 2011

Stephen Mallory - Secretary, Confederate States Navy

On March 4, 1861, Stephen R. Mallory was appointed Secretary of the Navy of the Confederate States of America. To me, he is one of the more interesting persons of the Civil War navies, Union or Confederate. Born circa 1813 in Trinidad, he was raised mostly in Key West, Florida. He began his professional career in the early 1800’s practicing maritime law in the Florida Keys (at the time a hot bed of “wrecking” – the recovery of cargo from ships wrecked on the reefs of the Keys). Eventually he went into politics, representing Florida in the U.S. Senate. There, he was appointed to the Senate Committee on Naval Affairs, which he eventually chaired. During his tenure, he was an advocate for the reinstatement of flogging as a means of discipline of sailors. He failed to prevail on this issue, but he was successful in passing legislation overhauling the means of promotion and retention of officers in the Navy, establishing a Board of Review, which evaluated naval officers based on accomplishments and abandoned the ancient system of advancement based on seniority alone. The other major issue Mallory promoted in his senate position was for the U.S. Navy to adopt emerging technologies, such as construction of ironclad warships.

When Florida seceded, Mallory joined the fledgling Confederacy. President Jefferson Davis appointed him Secretary of the C.S. Navy in March 1861. Mallory was well aware that the south could not match the north in the ability to build and modify ships, and that he would never be able to go “ship-to-ship” against the U.S. Navy; so he adopted a naval strategy based on three things (not in order of priority):

(1) Deploy sea-going commerce raiders to disrupt Union merchant shipping and divert Union warships from the blockade to chase the raiders.
(2) Run the Union blockade using a combination of private shipping and specially-constructed blockade-running ships operated by the C.S. Navy.
(3) Adopt and deploy the broad range of emerging naval technologies (ironclads, submersibles, and torpedoes) to attempt to keep southern harbors open and maintain the flow of supplies through the blockade.

One could say that he both succeeded and failed in all three. Originally, the Confederate States of America tried to implement commerce raiding by the old device of issuing “Letters of Marque” to allow private parties to act as raiders on behalf of the Confederate government. Due to international treaty, the Confederate Navy eventually decided to assume the responsibility for purchasing and constructing sea-going ships to prey on Union commerce shipping. These would be regular, commissioned war ships. While some of these had great success (notably the CSS Alabama and Shenandoah), they failed to even partially disable Union maritime commerce, although they did contribute to the eventual demise of the U.S. merchant marine industry. They were unsuccessful at diverting Union Navy ships off the blockade to try to hunt them down and capture them.

Blockade running was also initially entrusted to private parties, but the private runners ultimately failed to deliver the war material needed by the Confederacy to prosecute the war. The demand for luxury goods (and the willingness of the Confederate aristocracy to pay whatever price was commanded) made it more lucrative for private runners to carry cargo to meet this demand, despite government requirements that they carry a certain percentage of military cargo. Eventually, the Confederate Navy chose to construct and crew its own blockade runners in order to supply arms and equipment to the armies of the Confederacy (e.g. see CWS Blog Post by Gordon Calhoun on 24 July 2010).

Mallory’s willingness to use new technology was perhaps his greatest contribution to the war effort, but again, he was unable to capitalize on this. He embraced the use of ironclad ships as a means of going up against the overwhelming firepower of the big frigates and sloops of the Union Navy, but he did not exercise the necessary degree of authority in prioritizing the construction of the C.S. Navy ironclads. The various private groups contracted to build the ironclads had to compete with one another in the procurement of critically needed iron plates, machinery, skilled personnel, and the other limited resources that the Confederacy had to constantly deal with. This resulted in the construction of mostly ineffective ironclad vessels that failed to live up to their potential. If Mallory had used his authority (and strategic vision) to prioritize which ships needed to be finished first, and divert all resources to those, the confederate ironclads may have been more effective. The use of submersible vessels (the “Davids” and the CSS Hunley) did not achieve widespread success, and the use of torpedoes, while extremely effective in the latter stages of the war (in terms of both real results and their psychological impact) were deployed too late to accomplish anything substantive.

Following the conclusion of the war, Mallory was arrested by the U.S. government and imprisoned for “treason.” No trial of any kind was conducted and in March 1866, President Andrew Johnson granted Mallory a parole, which released him from jail. Eventually, he was allowed to return to Florida, where he settled in Pensacola. Per the terms of his parole, he was barred from holding public office, but he made a decent living by resuming his law practice. His health gradually began to fail and he died in November 1873. He is buried in St. Michael’s Cemetery in Pensacola, Florida.

 Photo courtesy of the Florida Dept. of State on-line photo archive.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Battle of Hampton Roads Weekend at the Mariners' Museum THIS WEEKEND

5-6 MARCH 2011

This weekend, our friends at the Mariners' Museum will be a hosting a weekend of programs, lectures, and demonstrations commemorating the Union and Confederate navies during the American Civil War. Join The Mariners’ Museum, The Museum of the Confederacy, and NOAA’s Monitor National Marine Sanctuary in our observance of the 149th anniversary of the Battle of Hampton Roads between the Union ironclad USS Monitor and the Confederate ironclad CSS Virginia March 5th and 6th, 2011. There will be a special focus on commerce raiding and the blockade at this event.

Civil War Navy Sesquicentennial Coordinator Matthew Eng will be there to cover the event, as well as man a booth for the Hampton Roads Naval Museum. If you plan to attend, stop by the Hampton Roads Naval Museum table and have a chat about some events and activities that the CWN 150 is planning for the upcoming sesquicentennial years. Here is a complete run down of the activities and speakers planned for this weekend at Mariners' Museum. For a complete listing, go to the event page HERE.

Saturday, March 5, 2011 (10:00am-4:00pm)

Commerce Raiders and the Blockade Lectures

11:00 - Professor Howard Jones, University of Alabama
Blue and Gray Diplomacy: Union and Confederate Foreign Relations

1:00 - Dr. William Dudley, Former Director of the Naval Historical Center
The CSS Alabama

2:30 - Dr. Robert Browning, Chief Historian of the U.S. Coast Guard
"None can be more vigilant than we are": The Blockade During the Civil War

4:00 - Kevin Foster, Chief of the Maritime Heritage Program, National Park Service

Sunday, March 6, 2011 (12:00am-5:00pm)

1:00 - Lecture: Jeff Johnston, NOAA's Monitor National Marine Sanctuary
An Ironclad Mystery: Exploring the Final Moments of the Monitor and Identifying Her Crew

2:00 - Presentation: Monitor Project Conservation Staff
New Discoveries in Monitor Conservation

3:30 - Lecture: Dan Beasley: Ironclads, Ordinance and Innovation: The Life of Commander John Mercer Brooke, CSN