Thursday, April 12, 2012

Battle of Fort Fisher


Battle of  Fort Fisher

Fort Fisher
Fort Fisher Now 
Until its capture by the Union army in 1865, Fort Fisher was the largest earthwork fortification in the world. The “Gibraltar of the South” protected the port of Wilmington and ensured that the Confederacy had at least one “lifeline” until the last few months of the Civil War.  Confederate blockade runners had little difficulty eluding the U.S. blockade, and Colonel William Lamb, the fort’s commander from 1862 to 1864, organized their efforts. The runners delivered goods in Wilmington, and The Wilmington and Weldon Railroad transported these goods to supply Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia.

Fort Fisher was a formidable post.  Several times Lamb and his men withstood Union attacks.  In December 1864, for instance, the Union had loaded a warship with 185 tons of gunpowder and floated it approximately 200 feet from the “L” shaped fort.   The fort withstood the explosion and the ensuing barrage that has been described as “the most awful bombardment that was ever know for the time.”

Confederate fortune ran out in January 1865.  On January 12, Union ships bombarded the fort.  Some have estimated the Union firepower to be approximately 100 shells per minute.  The incessant Union fire continued until mid-day on January 15, when Union troops stormed the fort from all sides.  Hand-to-hand combat ensued.  A few hours later, Union troops captured the fort.  With the fort’s capture, the Confederacy lost only remaining supply line to its infantry protecting the Confederate capital, Richmond, Virginia.     

News paper picture of the battle 
Plan of attack 


Sources:
John G. Barrett, The Civil War in North Carolina (Chapel Hill, 1963); John S. Carbone, The Civil War in Coastal North Carolina (Raleigh, 2001); William S. Powell ed., Encyclopedia of North Carolina (Chapel Hill, 2006); William S. Powell, North Carolina Through Four Centuries (Chapel Hill, 1989).

See Also:
Related Categories: Civil War
Related Encyclopedia Entries: John W. Ellis (1820-1862), Bunker Hill Covered Bridge, Secession, Salem Brass Band, Confederate States Navy (in North Carolina), United States Navy (Civil War activity), James Iredell Waddell (1824-1886), CSS Neuse, USS Underwriter, Warren Winslow (1810-1862), Prelude to the Battle of Averasboro, The Battle of Averasboro-Day One, Louis Froelich and Company, Louis Froelich (1817-1873), North Carolina Button Factory, CSA Arms Factory, Ratification Debates, Peace Party (American Civil War), Braxton Bragg (1817-1876), Daniel Harvey Hill (1821-1889), Battle of Bentonville, Bryan Grimes (1828-1880), Fort Hatteras, Fort Clark, Fort Macon, Daniel Russell (1845-1908), The Impending Crisis of the South: How to Meet It, Union League, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Levi Coffin (1798 – 1877), Raleigh E. Colston (1825 - 1896) , Thomas Fentriss Toon (1840-1902), Robert Fredrick Hoke (1837-1912), Battle of Forks Road, Aaron McDuffie Moore (1863-1923), Harriet Jacobs (1813-1897) , Fort Anderson (Confederate), Battle of Deep Gully and Fort Anderson (Federal), James T. Leach (1805-1883), Sarah Malinda Pritchard Blalock (1839-1903), Thomas Bragg (1810-1872), Curtis Hooks Brogden (1816-1901), John Motley Morehead (1796-1866), David Lowry Swain (1801-1868), Zebulon Baird Vance (1830-1894), Alamance County (1849), Gates County (1779), Clay County (1861), Lenoir County (1791), Union County (1842), Teague Band (Civil War), Fort Hamby Gang (Civil War), Shelton Laurel Massacre , Parker David Robbins (1834-1917), Henry Eppes (1831-1917), Washington County (1799), Hertford County (1759), Rutherford County (1770), Granville County (1746), Salisbury Prison (Civil War), Stoneman's Raid, James City, Fort York, Asa Biggs (1811 - 1878), Thomas Clingman (1812 - 1897), Matt W. Ransom (1826 - 1904), St. Augustine's College, Peace College
Related Commentary: Toward an Inclusive History of the Civil War: Society and the Home Front, Edward Bonekemper on the Cowardice of General McClellan
Related Lesson Plans: Discussion of the Lunsford Lane Narrative
Timeline: 1836-1865
Region: Coastal Plain

Monday, April 9, 2012

On May 20, North Carolina seceded:


An ordinance to dissolve the union between the State of North Carolina and the other States united with her, under the compact of government entitled “The Constitution oft he United States.”
   We, the people of the State of North Carolina in convention assembled, do declare and ordain, That the ordinance adopted by the State of North Carolina in the convention of 1789, whereby the Constitution of the United States was ratified and adopted, and also all acts and parts of acts of the General Assembly ratifying and adopting amendments to the said Constitution, are hereby repealed, rescinded, and abrogated.

   We do further declare and ordain, That the union now subsisting between the State of North Carolina and the other States, under the title of the United States of America, is hereby dissolved, and that the State of North Carolina is in full possession and exercise of all those rights of sovereignty which belong and appertain to a free and independent State.
   Done in convention at the city of Raleigh, this 20th day of May, in the year of our Lord 1861, and in the eighty-fifth year of the independence of said State.
Source:  



Getting away with murder!  Part One
The battlefield claimed many a brave officer, but there were a few others who met not-quite-so-honorable ends

The death toll among general officers during the Civil War was staggering. Because military necessity often placed a general officer at the head of the army, generals were killed leading hopeless charges (Lewis A. Armistead), engaging in skirmishes (J.E.B. Stuart), reconnoitering occupied territory ("Stonewall" Jackson) and mounting impossible frontal attacks (Patrick R. Cleburne). The cost was incalculable. Here, after all, were officers who—political favoritism aside—presumably rose to their rank because of their experience, judgment and valor, the men who were best qualified to achieve their respective armies' objectives. And yet they fell in alarming numbers. At Franklin alone, the number of Confederate generals killed or wounded ran in the double digits.

Such a death was almost expected. However tragic a general's demise might be, however demoralizing to his troops, it was a risk every soldier anticipated his leaders taking, sharing with the lowliest private the ultimate possibility of a noble, if gory, demise.

And then there were the generals whose violent departures had little if anything to do with the field of battle.



 Jefferson Columbus Davis
Library of Congress: LC-USZ62-129704

The killer was a Union general who bore the unenviable name of Jefferson C. Davis—a fact that doubtless caused him no end of embarrassment. Davis was born in 1828 near the town of Charleston, Ind., and had been soldiering since his teens, when he volunteered for service as a private in the Mexican War. As a lieutenant five years later, he fought in the last Seminole campaign. And when Fort Sumter was fired on in 1861, Davis was inside the walls, commanding a four-gun battery. Throughout the war, he demonstrated unusual bravery and tenacity in battle, and distinguished himself in the Blackwater Expedition and at Pea Ridge. He was made brigadier general of volunteers in May 1862.

After a brief leave due to illness and exhaustion, Davis reported in early September 1862 to General Horatio G. Wright, commanding the Army of the Ohio. Wright in turn directed Davis to report to his second in command, Maj. Gen. William Nelson, in Louisville, Ky. A worse pairing could not have been conceived.

At 5 feet 7 inches tall and weighing 125 pounds, Davis looked a bit hangdog and considerably older than his 34 years. Although generally quiet in his demeanor, he was often intractable and given to displays of temper. One biographer described Davis as "aggressive, feisty, and confrontational" with a "fiery and combative spirit." The bombastic Nelson stood 6 feet 2 inches tall and weighed some 300 pounds—a veritable bearded, curly haired giant. Nelson was four years Davis' senior and had joined the Navy as a midshipman in 1840. He, too, had seen his share of action and in 1847 had commanded a battery at the Battle of Vera Cruz. A lieutenant when the Civil War began, he swiftly rose to the rank of major general in Don Carlos Buell's Army of the Ohio. Apparently Nelson was something of a bully and in his Navy days had been given the nickname "Bull."

Further exacerbating the situation was the sectional enmity that existed between Indiana and Kentucky. Never one to mince words, Kentuckian Nelson was known to refer to Hoosiers as "poor trash"—an attitude unlikely to endear him to Jeff C. Davis, one of Indiana's favorite sons. Davis, an Army veteran of countless engagements, might also have resented having to report to a man who had spent his entire career in the Navy and had only recently been given command of troops. And when Davis reported to Nelson, he was ordered to organize and train the "home guard"—an assignment Davis almost certainly would have considered beneath him.

Some, or perhaps all, of these factors were at play when, two days after receiving his assignment, Davis reported to Nelson at the Galt House, a luxurious hotel that also served as Army offices and Nelson's quarters. Nelson asked Davis for the number of troops mustered and the number of weapons required. When Davis replied, "I don't know," Nelson became indignant. He then asked for details relating to recently formed regiments and companies, and again Davis answered that he didn't know. Davis later averred that after only two days on the job and still lacking some crucial reports, he couldn't possibly have answered otherwise.

Nelson exploded. Rising to his full height, he dressed Davis down: "But you should know. I am disappointed in you, General Davis. I selected you for this duty because you are an officer in the regular Army, but I find I made a mistake."

According to Maj. Gen. James B. Fry, Buell's chief of staff, an old friend of Davis and a witness to the encounter:
"Davis arose and remarked in a cool, deliberate manner:

"'General Nelson, I am a regular soldier, and I demand the treatment due to me as a general officer….I demand from you the courtesy due to my rank.'

"Nelson replied: 'I will treat you as you deserve. You have disappointed me; you have been unfaithful to the trust I have reposed in you, and I shall relieve you at once….You will proceed to Cincinnati and report to General Wright.'

"Davis said: 'You have no authority to order me.'
"Nelson turned toward the Adjutant General and said: 'Captain, if General Davis does not leave the city by nine o'clock tonight, give instructions to the Provost-Marshal to see that he shall be put across the Ohio!'"

Furious, Davis reported to Wright, who defused the situation by temporarily reassigning him. On September 25, Buell took over from Nelson, and Wright felt it safe to send Davis back to Louisville. Davis was elated with the assignment; he relished a chance to serve under Buell as he planned a major campaign against the Rebels in Kentucky. On September 29, Davis entered the Galt House to report and immediately found himself among several friends, including Indiana Governor Oliver P. Morton. Shortly thereafter, Nelson entered the hotel. Davis, still smarting from the insult, approached Nelson and demanded an apology. Morton stood near enough to hear the exchange, as did the ubiquitous Fry. According to Fry, Nelson answered, "No!" and "said in a loud voice for all to hear, 'Go away, you damned puppy, I don't want anything to do with you!'"

Davis was holding a piece of paper, which—as the shocked assemblage watched—he wadded up and flicked into Nelson's face; a startled Nelson responded by slapping Davis with the back of his hand. He made an indignant comment to Morton, and stalked away toward the staircase leading to his room. Infuriated, Davis borrowed a pistol from a friend, and walking to within three feet of Nelson, shot the unarmed general in the chest. Nelson, mortally wounded, managed to climb the stairs before he collapsed. "Send for a clergyman," he gasped, "I wish to be baptized. I have been basely murdered."

Fry immediately arrested Davis, who pleaded that, while he had sought an apology, it was never his intention to shoot Nelson. The shooting created a furor among the officers at the hotel, some of whom called for Davis' immediate hanging. Buell, who had doted on Nelson, was outraged and considered the act "a high crime and gross violation of military discipline." He wanted to take swift action, but timing worked in Davis' favor.

With his huge offensive in the works, Buell simply could not spare the officers or the time needed to convene a court-martial, and requested that Davis be tried in Washington. Morton lobbied on Davis' behalf, however, and nothing further was made of the affair. After a week of incarceration, Davis was released, and within two weeks of murdering "Bull" Nelson, he was given division command in General William S. Rosecrans' Army of the Cumberland. He fought gallantly throughout the remaining years of the war, but he would always be remembered as the only Union general to have murdered a brother officer.

picture source: http://germansons.com/Metzner_Collection/Davis_J.html#


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Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Wilmington Campaign


Cape Fear River 

While most aspects of the American Civil War have been examined in minute detail by an infinite body of historians, journalists, novelists, and writers in general, it actually is possible for a probing historian to break new ground while examining an important campaign of that great American tragedy. Chris E. Fonvielle, Jr., has accomplished this with his handsome volume on the Wilmington Campaign.

Fonvielle has not simply duplicated other recent studies that focused on the more celebrated battles of the campaign. He has methodically reported and analyzed the campaign in its entirety by providing a full portrait of the war on North Carolina's southeastern coast. His study includes an examination of the background and importance of Wilmington and the Cape Fear River to the Confederate war effort, the construction and strength of the formidable Cape Fear fortifications, the two attacks on Fort Fisher, and the subsequent march on Wilmington.

As the war progressed, the river port of Wilmington took on increasing strategic importance to the Confederacy. Located thirty miles up the Cape Fear River, it had the unique geographic advantage of occupying a river that was perfectly suited to blockade-running. Frying Pan Shoals separated the river's two inlets, and the Union blockading fleet found it virtually impossible to blanket the sixty miles of coast between the inlets and prevent the continuous ocean traffic that went in and out of the city. By 1864, Wilmington had constituted the only major Confederate port remaining open to the outside world, and its railroad facilities transported the arms and provisions necessary to maintain Robert E. Lee's army. During the war, blockade-runners made more than 400 trips into Cape Fear, bringing in some $65 million in supplies. In addition to clothing and other civilian merchandise, vast quantities of arms, munitions, uniforms, and other military supplies destined for Lee's army made their way northward through the port of Wilmington.

In an effort to protect Cape Fear, a series of massive earthen forts was designed to guard the inlets and the river approaches to Wilmington. Fort Fisher extended along the coast from New Inlet north for 1,300 yards before projecting west for 480 yards toward the Cape Fear River to form a giant "7." It was the region's most formidable installation and became generally known as the "Gibraltar of the South." Confederate authorities deemed the massive earthen fort impregnable, and one Union general proclaimed it to be the strongest fort he ever encountered.

In an effort to close this last gateway to the outside world, Federal authorities late in 1864 ordered the capture of Cape Fear. A Union assault on December 24, 1864, featured an unusual effort to destroy the fort by exploding a ship loaded with 215 tons of gunpowder in the shallow adjacent waters. The powder ship made no impression on the Confederate defenders, and the subsequent naval bombardment and land invasion failed to accomplish its goal. The Federals' poor showing was partly due to the personal animosity between the Union naval and army commanders, Rear Admiral David Dixon Porter and Major General Benjamin F. Butler. After the failed expedition returned to Virginia, Ulysses S. Grant became convinced that occupying Wilmington was critical to the Union strategy to end the war.

With Grant's orders before them, Porter, with fifty-eight warships, and Major General Alfred H. Terry, in command of 9,000 soldiers, returned to Cape Fear on January 13, 1865. The resulting battle for Fort Fisher has been described as the greatest naval-land battle in the history of the world up to that point. More than 1,464 tons of metal was fired at the fort, and Union losses approached 1,450 killed, wounded, and missing. The pathetically small Confederate defensive force of 1,900 men under the command of Colonel William Lamb and Major General William Henry Chase Whiting fought valiantly against overwhelming odds before being completely overwhelmed in hand-to-hand combat on January 15. Southern losses totaled about 500 men killed and wounded. The remaining 1,400 were captured. The tragedy in the loss of Fort Fisher lay in the inexplicable behavior of Confederate General Braxton Bragg, commander of the Wilmington District, and his subordinate Major General Robert F. Hoke. They commanded a division of veteran troops at Sugar Loaf, not more than five miles from the fort, yet Bragg chose to sacrifice Fort Fisher rather than send reinforcements to support its defenders.

After the fort fell, Bragg ordered his troops to withdraw from the remaining fortifications guarding the mouth of Cape Fear to installations closer to Wilmington. It took more than a month for the Union army to push the Confederates back into the streets of Wilmington. Two brigades of U.S. Colored Troops that had participated in both the attacks on Fort Fisher, acquitted themselves well in the Wilmington invasion. On February 22, Bragg ordered a complete withdrawal from Wilmington, and the Union army captured the city. With the occupation of North Carolina's largest city and the closing of Cape Fear to foreign commerce, the fate of the Confederacy was sealed. Lee had warned Bragg that without the port of Wilmington, he could not sustain his army in the field. Less than seven weeks after the fall of Wilmington, Lee's Army of Northern Virginia surrendered at Appomattox Court House.

The Wilmington Campaign is thoroughly researched, well written, and accessible. It features a vast array of excellent photographs and maps, many of which were previously unpublished, along with a serviceable index, notes, and a full bibliography. Fonvielle takes great care to develop his characters and provide insight into the officers and men involved in the engagements. He includes unique vignettes, such as an incident in which a colored soldier captured his former master and brought him into camp at gunpoint. He also relates a well-documented account of a Union soldier who stopped at his boyhood home to greet his mother during the approach to Wilmington only to find that his "Johnny Reb" brother had visited there hours earlier as his Confederate unit retreated toward Wilmington.

For Civil War scholars particularly interested in a complete identification of the units involved and their commanders, along with the ships, their guns, and their commanding officers, the orders of battle are included as a form of appendix. The text is replete with the details of battle, the type of weapons used by each participant, and the strategy (or the lack thereof) of the commanding officers.
With all this detail, the narrative reads well. This volume is highly recommended to anyone with an interest in the Civil War, North Carolina history, or really any good, historically accurate story.
DonaldR.Lennon
East Carolina University
Book Review: The Wilmington Campaign: Last Rays of Departing Hope (James R. Arnold and Roberta Wiener) : AH

Originally published by American History magazine. Published Online: August 11, 2001 

The Wilmington Campaign: Last Rays of Departing Hope, by Chris E. Fonvielle, Jr., Savas Publishing, Campbell, California, (800) 848-6585, 623 pages, $32.95.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Confederate States Navy (in North Carolina)


Students of the Civil War often overlook the contributions of the naval services in the conflict.  The Confederate Navy and Marine Corps, however, played significant roles in North Carolina.  They not only hampered the ability of the Union Navy to do its job, but took part in some of the state’s largest battles.



Genesis of the Confederate Navy
At Montgomery, Alabama, the Confederate Congress created a Navy Department in February 1861.  Stephen R. Mallory of Florida was selected by President Jefferson Davis to lead the department and was confirmed by Congress on May 5.  Mallory appeared capable of leading the new navy due to his service on the U.S. Senate Naval Affairs Committee prior to secession.  The newly created navy absorbed the state navies of South Carolina, Florida, Louisiana, Texas, Alabama, Virginia, and North Carolina.  These state navies, however, only consisted of about a dozen small ships, mounting few guns.  By war’s end the Confederate Navy managed to put 130 ships into service--a far cry from the 670-vessel US Navy.  The disparate numbers should not be considered a failure on Mallory’s part, however, for he performed as well as could be expected considering the circumstances; a lack of government interest and funding throughout the war hampered Mallory’s efforts.


The Confederate Navy’s mission was three-fold.  First, it was to provide coastal defense and protection for inland waterways.  Second, its ironclad construction program was designed to break the Union blockade of the southern coast.  Third, it was seen as a function of the navy to raid enemy commerce.  Today, students of the Civil War remember the Confederate Navy primarily because of the exploits of the CSS Alabama and CSS Shenandoah.  Two North Carolinians commanded Confederate cruisers: James I. Waddell (CSS Shenandoah) and John N. Maffitt (CSS Florida).  While the Confederate Navy was moderately successful at commerce raiding, it never provided an adequate coastal defense or broke the Union blockade.


The Confederate Navy and Marine Corps played a significant role in North Carolina because much of the war in the state involved coastal operations.  Early in the war, North Carolina contributed what was nicknamed the “Mosquito Fleet,” a small force of lightly armed vessels, to the Confederate cause.  During the 1862 Burnside Expedition in coastal North Carolina, these ships participated in the Battle of Roanoke Island, and all but the CSS Beaufort were subsequently destroyed during the Battle of Elizabeth City. These  battles ended what little threat the fleet posed to the Union forces.


North Carolina Ironclads
The Confederate government attempted building ironclads in the state, and was successful in completing four ships: the CSS North Carolina and the CSS Raleigh on the Cape Fear River, the CSS Albemarle on the Roanoke River, and the CSS Neuse on the Neuse River.  There were also naval yards and stations located  across the state, including a large operation at Charlotte for manufacturing marine machinery and other facilities in Wilmington, Halifax, Kinston, and for a brief time in Tarboro.


Aside from the Burnside Expedition, the Confederate Navy and Marine Corps conducted numerous operations throughout coastal North Carolina.  In early February 1864, Commander John Taylor Wood led a detachment of thirty-three officers and 220 enlisted sailors and Marines downriver from Kinston to New Bern, where they boarded, captured, and destroyed the USS Underwriter in one of the most daring missions of the Civil War.


The Kinston-built ironclad, CSS Neuse, was completed shortly after Wood’s expedition to New Bern.  Confederates hoped that the ironclad might help recapture the old colonial capital.  On its voyage downriver, the Neuse ran aground in a shallow portion of the river and was not freed until a month later.  By then, all operations in eastern North Carolina had ceased because army units had been recalled to Virginia to assist in the defense of Richmond.  The Neuse waited ten months to be called into service--this time to cover the evacuation of Kinston following the Battle of Wyse Fork in March 1865.  The ironclad was taken  downriver.   Its cannons bombarded the Union Army while Confederate troops abandoned the town.  Once the evacuation was complete, the Neuse was scuttled to prevent capture.


In mid-April 1864, the ironclad CSS Albemarle, captained by Commander James W. Cooke, helped Confederate forces recapture the town of Plymouth.  The Albemarle rammed and sank the USS Southfield and successfully battled the USS Miami which lost its captain, Lieutenant Commander Charles Flusser in the fight.   In early May 1864, the Albemarle steamed for New Bern to help retake the city from Union occupation forces.   Not very long after departing Plymouth, the Albemarle and two smaller ships, the CSS Bombshell and CSS Cotton Plant engaged seven Union warships as they entered the waters of the Albemarle Sound.  The ensuing battle was fierce, with the Union vessels firing over 600 shots.  A riddled smokestack was the Albemarle’s most significant damage.  The loss of the ship’s smokestack and the use of inferior coal caused a loss of draft, making the ship nearly inoperable.  Without significant draft, the engines did not have enough steam to operate properly, so Cooke was forced to return to Plymouth.  In the end, the most successful North Carolina ironclad, the Albemarle, was sunk on October 27, 1864, by a spar torpedo at her moorings by a Union Navy commando raid.


Approximately at the same time the CSS Albemarle battled the Union fleet in the Albemarle Sound, the CSS Raleigh undertook the only offensive action of the war by the Confederate Navy at Wilmington.  At nightfall on May 6, 1864 the Raleigh escorted a number of blockade runners across the New Inlet bar near Fort Fisher and attacked Union ships on blockade.  These targeted attacks continued throughout the night, and nearing daybreak on May 7, the ironclad came back into New Inlet and under the protection of the fort.  On its return trip upriver to Wilmington, the Raleigh grounded on a sandbar. Before the gunboat could be freed, its keel broke and the Raleigh sank.  The other Wilmington ironclad, the CSS North Carolina, never equipped with adequate engines, sank at its moorings in September 1864; marine worms had infested the hull.
Fort Fisher


The Confederate Navy and Marine Corps had significant involvement in the two battles at Fort Fisher and the Wilmington Campaign.  The Submarine Battery Service was instrumental in placing electrically detonated  torpedoes in the waters of the Cape Fear to deter Union blockaders from attempting to enter the river.  The battery was also stationed at Fort Anderson to operate torpedoes in the river after the fall of Fort Fisher.


Battery Buchanan, detached from Fort Fisher, was built as a response to the ineffectiveness and loss of the CSS North Carolina and CSS Raleigh.  It was commanded and manned entirely by naval personnel and armed with two seven-inch Brooke rifles and two eleven-inch Brooke smoothbore guns, all considered to be “naval” ordnance.  The battery was commanded by Lieutenant Robert F. Chapman.  A twenty-nine-man detachment from the raider CSS Chickamauga, under the command of Lieutenant Francis M. Roby, manned another battery of seven-inch Brooke rifles in another part of the fort.  During the First Battle of Fort Fisher on December 24-25, 1864, both Brooke rifles, manned by Lt. Roby’s men, burst and injured nearly half the detachment and put the battery out of service.


Following the First Battle of Fort Fisher, fifty-one officers and men of the defunct Savannah Squadron (including nine African American sailors) arrived at Wilmington to reinforce the naval battery at Fort Fisher.   The Second Battle of Fort Fisher was fought from January 13-15, 1865.  Late in the battle, knowing that the fort was lost, Lt. Chapman abandoned his position, and his men escaped across the river.  Sailors then temporarily manned Batteries Meares and Campbell on the west bank of the river but soon resumed retreating toward Wilmington as the Union forces pushed toward the town.  All vessels, records, drawings, and buildings at the shipyards were destroyed while the navy evacuated Wilmington ahead of the Union army.
Conclusions


Throughout the war, the Confederate Navy and Marine Corps did their best to help protect the coast and rivers of eastern North Carolina.  Though not always successful, the naval forces were almost always a factor in any action.  The inadequate naval yards of the state managed to produce four ironclad gunboats as well as marine machinery and desperately needed parts.  Native North Carolinians served in many capacities, from common sailors and blockade-runner pilots to cruiser captains, and contributed greatly to the war effort.  The problems in North Carolina, however, revealed a much larger problem:  the Confederate Navy never had enough resources, manpower, or time to accomplish strategic goals.

Sources:
Leslie S. Bright, William H. Rowland, and James C. Bardon, CSS Neuse: A Question of Iron and Time (Raleigh, 1981); R. Thomas Campbell, Storm Over Carolina: The Confederate Navy’s Struggle for Eastern North Carolina (Nashville, 2005); Richard G. Elliott, Ironclad of the Roanoke: Gilbert Elliott’s Albemarle (Shippensburg, 2005); Chris E. Fonvielle, Jr., Last Rays of Departing Hope: The Wilmington Campaign (Campbell, CA, 1997); Rod Gragg, Confederate Goliath: The Battle of Fort Fisher (New York, 1991); Richard A. Sauers, The Burnside Expedition in North Carolina: A Succession of Honorable Victories (Dayton, 1996); William N. Still, Jr., The Confederate Navy: The Ships, Men and Organization, 1861-65 (Annapolis, 1998); and William N. Still, Jr., Iron Afloat: The Story of the Confederate Armorclads (Columbia, 1971).
By Andrew Duppstadt, North Carolina Division of State Historic Sites

Thursday, April 5, 2012


Civil War in Northern Virginia 1861
By William S. Connery
(April 2012 Civil War News)

History Press, www.historypress.net, $19.99 softcover.
 Photos, maps, bibliography, index, 159 pp., 2011, 

This book is an offering in the publisher’s Civil War sesquicentennial series and focuses on the counties in Northern Virginia in 1861.

Highlighted are people and events related to those areas, such as Robert E. Lee’s decision to cast his fate with his native state after it seceded, the death of Union officer Elmer Ellsworth in Alexandria, and the effect of the war on George Washington’s former estate at Mount Vernon in Fairfax County. Also covered are brief sketches of the battles at Ball’s Bluff and Dranesville in Loudoun County.

Confederate Monument Oakdale Cemetery, Wilmington NC 
William Connery discusses the influence of the Quakers, who used a free labor system for their enterprises in the midst of Virginia’s slave plantation system. He describes some of the “firsts” that occurred in the war, such as the first Confederate wounded soldier, first balloon reconnaissance, first troop engagement and first Confederate officer killed.

All of these occurred near Fairfax Court House, the birthplace of the Confederate battle flag as well as Jefferson Davis’ military strategy for the conduct of the war. The area witnessed the first Confederate military execution and the development of the first exclusively military railroad.

These are just some examples of the topics covered by Connery as he borrows heavily from first-person accounts at times to capture the feelings of Northern Virginians about what was happening to the civilian population at the war’s beginning. The first Battle of Bull Run (Manassas) is not covered because it is being reserved for a separate study in the series.

Today Fairfax and Loudoun counties, formerly farmland and the Confederacy’s first operating front line after Bull Run, are among the five richest counties in the United States. As urban sprawl from our nation’s capital continued over the years to transform such places as Falls Church, Vienna and McLean into what they are today, it is easy to forget what they were like in 1861. With this book, Connery has helped us to remember.
Reviewer: Frank J. Piatek

Frank Piatek graduated from Geneva College with a B.A. in history. He received his J.D. from Duquesne Uni­versity in 1972. He is a member of several reenactment groups and past president of the Mahoning Valley Civil War Round Table.

 William Connery
The History Guy
Author of
CIVIL WAR NORTHERN VIRGINIA 1861
https://www.historypress.net/catalogue/productdetails.php?productid=978.1.60949.352.3
http://www.amazon.com/Civil-Northern-Virginia-History-Sesquicentennial/dp/1609493524/ref=pd_sim_b_11
5777 Westchester Street
Alexandria, VA 22310
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www.worldandi.com/civilwar

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

North Carolina Declares to dissolve the union :

An ordinance to dissolve the union between the State of North Carolina and the other States united with her, under the compact of government entitled “The Constitution oft he United States.”
   
We, the people of the State of North Carolina in convention assembled, do declare and ordain, That the ordinance adopted by the State of North Carolina in the convention of 1789, whereby the Constitution of the United States was ratified and adopted, and also all acts and parts of acts of the General Assembly ratifying and adopting amendments to the said Constitution, are hereby repealed, rescinded, and abrogated.

   We do further declare and ordain, That the union now subsisting between the State of North Carolina and the other States, under the title of the United States of America, is hereby dissolved, and that the State of North Carolina is in full possession and exercise of all those rights of sovereignty which belong and appertain to a free and independent State.
  
 Done in convention at the city of Raleigh, this 20th day of May, in the year of our Lord 1861, and in the eighty-fifth year of the independence of said State.
Source:  


Sunday, March 25, 2012

Civil War In North Carolina

Confederate Monument Oakdale Cemetery
Although many major battles did not occurred in North Carolina, the state played an important role during the American Civil War.

The state provided more men (133, 905) for the Confederate cause, than any other state.  This number comprised approximately one-sixth of the Confederate fighting force.   Of that number, one sixth (approximately 20,000) became casualties of war.  Disease took approximately 20,000 Tar Heels lives, too.  According to historian Paul Escott, the state “had only about one-ninth of the Confederacy’s white population,” yet “it furnished one-sixth of its fighting men.”  In sum, 30-percent (approximately 40,000) of those fighting for the Confederacy died during the war.

North Carolina provided numerous generals to the Confederate cause.  The most famous include Braxton Bragg, Daniel H. Hill, William Dorsey Pender, Stephen Dodson Ramseur, Robert F. Hoke, and James J. Pettigrew.   Less famous yet important generals included L.O.B. Branch and Bryan Grimes.

It must be remembered that the American Civil war, at times, pitted North Carolinians against North Carolinian.  Approximately 8,000 men put on the Union blue.  Of them, 3,156 were white and 5,035 were black.

The election of Lincoln in 1861 prompted secessionists to launch a series of statewide local meetings.  In time, the matter of secession was put to the people of North Carolina.  Unionists narrowly defeated the secessionists (47,323 to 46,672).  On April 15, Lincoln called for 75,000 troops to “put down the rebellion.”  Governor Ellis responded:  “You can get no troops from North Carolina” and a second secession convention was called.  Although many delegates from various counties still wished to remain in the Union, the majority wanted secession.   The state seceded from the Union on May, 20, 1861.  That day was chosen as a celebration of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence in 1775.   
Early in the war, the northeastern region fell into Union hands.  Fort Hatteras and Fort Macon, both protecting the important Hatteras port, were occupied in Spring 1862—the military attacks were aided greatly by the United States Navy, which maintained a strong presence along the North Carolina coast throughout the war.   During the war, guerrilla warfare raged in the mountain region.  During the latter stages of the conflict, mountaineers experienced Union attack and occupation.  The most famous raid in the mountains during the war was General George Stoneman’s cavalry in March 1865.   
Although more major battles occurred in other Southern states, major campaigns were waged in the Old North State.   Most of the major campaigns occurred in 1865, the last year of the war.  After Sherman performed his March to the Sea campaign in Georgia and turned northward and marched through South Carolina, he entered North Carolina.  After General William J. Hardee prolonged Sherman’s advance at Averasboro, General Joseph E. Johnston engaged Sherman’s forces on from March 19-21 at Bentonville; that battle became the last major engagement in the Civil War.  A little over a month later, Sherman accepted the terms of surrender from Johnston at Bennett Place.  
North Carolina was an important state during the conflict.  The state contributed to the Confederate war effort in various ways; the Piedmont region produced crops that fed Confederate forces, and for a few months in 1865, Wilmington provided the Confederacy’s only access to the Atlantic Ocean and European trade.   The state contributed to the Union war effort, too.  From the fall of 1861, much of northeastern North Carolina had fallen into Union hands, and Lincoln established a provisional government, with Edward Stanly as governor.  The ports under Union occupation strengthened the Union war effort as their loss weakened the Confederate effort.  As the Confederates lost more northeastern territory, more slaves fled to Union lines and contraband camps were formed.
Political events in North Carolina influenced Confederate policy.  After John Ellis and Henry Toole Clarke served as governors, Zebulon B. Vance is remembered as the wartime governor.  And he, fairly or unfairly, earned a reputation for being a political thorn in Confederate President Jefferson Davis’s side.  On more than one occasion, Confederate Governor Vance believed the Confederacy took advantage of the Old North State: the Confederacy, he complained, took Tar Heel men away to fight elsewhere while the state’s borders remained undermanned.  In 1864, the Peace Party influenced politics at the local, state, and national levels; however, its membership, although significant, remained a minority of the state’s voting population.


Sources:
John G. Barrett, The Civil War in North Carolina (Chapel Hill, 1963); Mark L. Bradley, The Battle of Bentonville: The Last Stand in the Carolinas (Mason City, IA, 1996) and This Astounding Close: The Road to Bennett Place (Chapel Hill, 2000); Lindsey S. Butler and Alan D. Watson, eds., The North Carolina Experience: An Interpretive and Documentary History (Chapel Hill, 1984); William S. Powell, ed., Encyclopedia of North Carolina (Chapel Hill, 2006) and North Carolina Through Four Centuries (Chapel Hill, 1989.)

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Spanish-American War and North Carolina


The Spanish - American War
During the Spanish-American War (1898), North Carolina provided three infantry regiments named simply the First, Second, and Third Volunteer Infantry Regiment(s). All of these were state militia regiments. The First was the only one to see action in Cuba; the Second disbanded after a short-lived yet infamous term of service in the States, and the Third, an African American regiment, experienced continuous discrimination whether it was stationed in eastern North Carolina or Knoxville, Tennessee. Only two North Carolinians, Worth Bagley and William E. Shipp, died in action.
As in many wars, North Carolina lacked the jingoism so pervasive elsewhere. President McKinley asked the Tar Heel state to provide two regiments of infantry and an artillery battery. The state provided three infantry regiments instead.
Most of the white dissenters called Eastern North Carolina home; by and large the blacks there, however, displayed a more vigorous patriotism and volunteered in greater numbers. As a result, Piedmont and Western North Carolina boys comprised the majority of the First and Second Regiments; in the First Regiment, for example, only one company came from the eastern region.
The camp life of the First Regiment was dull at times yet eventful at others. Within a week of the President’s call for troops, the First Regiment, under the command of Colonel Joseph F. Armfield, assembled at the ill-prepared facilities of Camp Bryan Grimes on what was then the outskirts of Raleigh (look for the marker east of the fairgrounds on Hillsborough St.). While at camp, the men never received paychecks or supplies in a timely manner. Two weeks later, once properly equipped with uniforms and guns, the regiment traveled by rail to encamp in Jacksonville, Florida. Unfortunately, the men’s train collided with another, resulting in the death of one soldier and the injuries of seven others.
Once the regiment arrived safely at Camp Libre in Jacksonville, the regiment experienced many of the food and supply problems. During the particularly rainy season of 1898, in an overcrowded camp that flooded regularly, many men contracted diseases. Meanwhile, the delay of paychecks continued. Yet, Colonel Fitzhugh Lee rejected tobacco tycoon Julius Skakespeare Carr’s offer to loan the troops their pay.
To everyone’s surprise the First was sent to Cuba in December. Meanwhile, U.S. Senator J.C. Pritchard of western North Carolina asked that the regiment be recalled. While in Cuba, however, the First performed only guard duty on the outskirts of Havana.
The Second Regiment was mustered in May 1898. Commanded by W.H.S. Burgwyn, a former Confederate officer, the Second nevertheless performed unimpressively—maybe in part because their pay was delayed. At Raleigh’s Camp Dan Russell, the ill-supplied troops performed poorly in regular drills, and twenty-seven men went AWOL. In six weeks, half of the regiment was disbursed to other camps across the country to perform guard duty. Shortly afterward, the regiment’s poor performance resulted in its disbandment. Before being mustered out, twenty men of the Second died from disease and fifty-five were classified as disabled. Camp life probably took more lives than combat in Cuba would have.
Many volunteers of the First and Second were sons of Confederate veterans, yet they responded to the United States’ call for troops. They evinced a patriotism that would characterize the Southern region throughout the twentieth century.
The history of the Third Regiment is particularly noteworthy. Governor Daniel Lindsey Russell encouraged the formation of a black regiment, one of three formed in the nation during the war. Political opponents accused the Republican governor’s encouragement of the Third’s formation as pandering to the black vote in an age of Fusion politics.
The all-black regiment (excluding white officers) looked forward, as historian Joseph F. Steelman writes, to “prove themselves worthy of the rights and obligations of citizenship.” The Third was first stationed at Fort Macon in North Carolina and then in September transferred to Camp Poland in Knoxville, Tennessee, where the local populace and garrisons treated them horribly; white civilians killed at least four North Carolina blacks. To avoid the cold weather, the troops in November moved to Macon, Georgia. While away from eastern North Carolina, a race riot erupted in Wilmington. On their return to their native state, the men of the Third were treated as pariahs instead of heroes.

Sources:
Joseph F. Steelman, North Carolina’s Role in the Spanish-American War (Raleigh, 1975) and Webpage of the Sons of Spanish American War Veterans, Micah J. Jenkins Camp, No. 164, http://www.geocities.com/sonsofspanamwar/ (accesed March 28, 2006).
By Troy L. Kickler, North Carolina History Project
Revised on: Tuesday February, 14th, 2006

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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

North Carollina Secession

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Secession of the state of North Carolina from the American Union occurred on May 20, 1861; this date was chosen to celebrate the anniversary of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence of 1775.  The right of a state to separate from the Federal Union was not seriously questioned during the formation of the American Republic and had even been contemplated by some New England states during the War of 1812.  North Carolina’s secession, however, was more in accord with the doctrines of John C. Calhoun (1782-1850) of South Carolina.   


Some Tar Heel politicians, including Senator Thomas L. Clingman (1812-1897), expressed secessionist views in 1856, when the Republican Party nominated its first presidential candidate.  Secession sentiment, however, was weak prior to the 1860 presidential election of Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865).    


North Carolina excluded Lincoln from the ballot.  As a result, the popular vote for president was 48,533 for John C. Breckinridge (1821-1875) of Kentucky, the Southern Democratic candidate; 44,039 for John Bell (1797-1869) of Tennessee, the Constitutional Union nominee; and 2,690 for Stephen A. Douglas (1813-1861), the Democratic nominee.  Because Bell and Breckinridge supporters expressed allegiance to the Union, the overall vote reveals a strong Unionist sentiment among Tar Heels.  
The non-slaveholding yeoman farmers made up a majority of Tar Heel voters and constituted the core of Unionist strength. The northeastern and western counties, and portions of the Piedmont, were areas of Union sentiment and, therefore, disinclined to secede over slavery.


The Whig Party, which had disintegrated as a national force by 1860, still commanded a strong following.  Whig politicians like Congressman Zebulon B. Vance (1830-1894) and former Governor and Senator William A. Graham (1804-1875) comprised much of the leadership, though one leading Democrat, William W. Holden (1818-1892), editor of the North Carolina Standard, was among them.     


The secessionists were led primarily by Democrats, including Senator Clingman, Governor John W. Ellis (1820-1861), Congressman Thomas Ruffin (1820-1863), and former Congressman William S. Ashe (1814-1862).  The major secessionist newspaper was the Wilmington Journal, located in slaveholding New Hanover County.  Not surprisingly, the main areas of secessionist strength were in the Coastal counties with large slave populations and in Piedmont counties, especially Mecklenburg, bordering South Carolina.    
The election of Lincoln prompted secessionists to launch a series of statewide local meetings.  The first was held in Cleveland County on November 12, the second in New Hanover on November 19.  The movement was encouraged by the secession of South Carolina on December 20, 1860.
To counter the secessionist fervor, Unionists also convened.  Holden’s Standard effectively upheld the Union cause and expressed hope for compromise.  On January 29, the General Assembly decided to put the convention question to the people on February 28 and voted to send delegates to the Washington Peace Conference on February 4.    


The convention campaign was vigorously waged.  Unionists defined the terms of debate as a question of “Union or Disunion.”  Secessionist attempts to redefine the campaign in terms of self-defense were not successful.  Answering the charge that disunion meant war, secession supporter A. W. Venable (1799-1876) of Granville County declared that he would “wipe up every drop of blood shed in the war with this handkerchief of mine”; this may have been the most memorable statement of the convention campaign.    
Defeating the secessionists by a vote of 47,323 to 46,672, Unionists carried the northeastern counties and most of the Piedmont and western counties.  Because a few Unionists like Vance supported the convention call, the delegate elections are more indicative of actual sentiment; only 39 of the 120 delegates were secessionists.   A few days after the vote, on March 4, Lincoln gave an inaugural address, which many considered conciliatory.    
The secessionists did not give up.  On March 22 and 23, delegates from twenty-five counties assembled in Goldsboro and organized the Southern Rights Party.  They urged the legislature to reconvene and demanded that North Carolina join the Confederacy.  Despite numerous meetings, by early April of 1861, the state seemed no nearer secession than it was in February.  Then, reports came of the April 12 bombardment of Fort Sumter near Charleston, South Carolina.


On April 15, Lincoln called for 75,000 troops to “put down the rebellion.”  Governor Ellis responded:  “You can get no troops from North Carolina.”  When word arrived of Lincoln’s summons, Zebulon Vance, with arms upraised, was pleading for the preservation of the Union: “When my hand came down from that impassioned gesticulation,” he said, “it fell slowly and sadly by the side of a secessionist.”


Ellis called a special session of the legislature for May 1 and ordered seizure of all federal property.  The Assembly voted to have a delegate election on May 13 to an unrestricted convention to meet in Raleigh on May 20.  The campaign that followed was characterized more by resignation than enthusiasm, as evidenced by former Unionists’ and secessionists’ speeches disparaging aggression. 


When the convention met, delegates debated whether to secede, as some Unionists suggested, on the basis of “the right of revolution.”  Radical secessionists, however, favored repealing the state’s ratification of the U.S. Constitution as the most appropriate means of leaving the Union.
The convention elected Weldon N. Edwards (1788-1873), a Democratic planter from Warren County, as president.  In a speech, he denounced allying with the “Black Republican Union.”  One-time Unionist George R. Badger (1795-1866) introduced a resolution for separation from the Union based on the right of revolution.  An alternative ordinance, dissolving the Union by repeal of ratification was proposed by F. Burton Craige (1811-1875) of Rowan County.  The Badger proposal was defeated by a vote of 72 to 40, after which the Craige resolution passed unanimously.  Delegates then voted to join the Confederate States of America (CSA).  They also voted, at the request of Governor Ellis, not to put the secession ordinance to a popular vote.  On May 21, President Jefferson Davis (1808-1889) proclaimed North Carolina a Confederate state.


The convention had not been restricted and met three more times before finally adjourning on May 13, 1862.  The convention mostly dealt with military matters, but it also amended the Constitution to permit the ad valorem taxation of slaves and eliminated the disqualification of Jews from holding public office.


North Carolinians seceded reluctantly.  Jonathan Worth (1802-1869) stated publicly: “Lincoln had made us a unit to resist until we repel our invaders or die.”  Privately, however, Worth feared that the South had “commit[ed] suicide.”  The continued strength of Unionist sentiment was revealed a year later when Vance was easily elected governor despite radical secession opposition.  


The Tar Heel State, which only acted after Lincoln called for troops, became a bulwark of the Confederate defense, providing more men and supplies to the CSA and suffering more casualties than any other Southern state.   In the end, most Tar Heels seceded in the name of self-defense.

 


Sources:
Kemp P. Battle, “The Secession Convention of 1861,” North Carolina Booklet (Raleigh, 1916); James H. Boykin, North Carolina in 1861 (New York, 1961); Daniel W. Crofts, Reluctant Confederates: Upper South Unionists in the Secession Crisis (Chapel Hill, 1989); William C. Harris, North Carolina and the Coming of the Civil War (Raleigh, 1988); Hugh T. Lefler, North Carolina History Told by Contemporaries (Chapel Hill, 1956); John G. McCormick, Personnel of the Convention of 1861 (Chapel Hill, 1900); Joseph C. Sitterson, The Secession Movement in North Carolina (Chapel Hill, 1939); Ralph A. Wooster, The Secession Conventions of the South (Princeton, 1962).
By Ronnie W. Faulkner, Campbell University


See Also:
Related Categories: , Civil War
Related Encyclopedia Entries: John W. Ellis (1820-1862), Bunker Hill Covered Bridge, Salem Brass Band, Confederate States Navy (in North Carolina), United States Navy (Civil War activity), James Iredell Waddell (1824-1886), CSS Neuse, USS Underwriter, Warren Winslow (1810-1862), Prelude to the Battle of Averasboro, The Battle of Averasboro-Day One, Louis Froelich and Company, Louis Froelich (1817-1873), North Carolina Button Factory, CSA Arms Factory, Ratification Debates, Peace Party (American Civil War), Braxton Bragg (1817-1876), Daniel Harvey Hill (1821-1889), Battle of Bentonville, Bryan Grimes (1828-1880), Fort Hatteras, Fort Fisher, Fort Clark, Fort Macon, Daniel Russell (1845-1908), The Impending Crisis of the South: How to Meet It, Union League, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Levi Coffin (1798 – 1877), Raleigh E. Colston (1825 - 1896) , Thomas Fentriss Toon (1840-1902), Robert Fredrick Hoke (1837-1912), Battle of Forks Road, Aaron McDuffie Moore (1863-1923), Harriet Jacobs (1813-1897) , Fort Anderson (Confederate), Battle of Deep Gully and Fort Anderson (Federal), James T. Leach (1805-1883), Sarah Malinda Pritchard Blalock (1839-1903), Thomas Bragg (1810-1872), Curtis Hooks Brogden (1816-1901), John Motley Morehead (1796-1866), David Lowry Swain (1801-1868), Zebulon Baird Vance (1830-1894), Alamance County (1849), Gates County (1779), Clay County (1861), Lenoir County (1791), Union County (1842), Teague Band (Civil War), Fort Hamby Gang (Civil War), Shelton Laurel Massacre , Parker David Robbins (1834-1917), Henry Eppes (1831-1917), Washington County (1799), Hertford County (1759), Rutherford County (1770), Granville County (1746), Salisbury Prison (Civil War), Stoneman's Raid, James City, Fort York, Asa Biggs (1811 - 1878), Thomas Clingman (1812 - 1897), Matt W. Ransom (1826 - 1904), St. Augustine's College, Peace College
Related Commentary: Toward an Inclusive History of the Civil War: Society and the Home Front, Edward Bonekemper on the Cowardice of General McClellan
Related Lesson Plans: Discussion of the Lunsford Lane Narrative
Timeline: 1836-1865
Region: Statewide

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