Civil War Brown Water Navies

The Civil War in NE North Carolina

All Blog Posts (51)

Victims of their own success

Governor Ellis began purchasing ships to protect the sounds of North Carolina even before North Carolina seceded from the Union on 20 May 1861. I haven't been able to trace down the date of the first purchase, the Joseph E. Coffee out of Norfolk, but it had to occur between May 1st and 12th of 1861.

The Coffee was stopped while on her regular run to the Eastern Shore by the USS Cumberland on May 1st. The blockade had begun. On May 6th, the brig Lydia Frances ran aground near Hatteras…

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Added by Bruce Long on January 1, 2013 at 5:00pm — 1 Comment

The rescue of the Prony's crew

The arrest of a Confederate colonel  his courts-martial, the sinking of a very successful commerce raider, the breakup of a grounded French man-of-war and the rescue of her crew, the worries of a Union commander about the political ramifications of not saving the Prony, a letter of gratitude from the French Vice-Consul in Norfolk to the Confederates, and an official request for more information concerning Union actions from Gideon Welles, Secretary of the US Navy are all part of the story of…

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Added by Bruce Long on December 15, 2012 at 3:00pm — 1 Comment

Tracking down the formation of the short-lived NC Navy

The NC Navy only existed for a couple of months before being ceded to the Confederacy. During that time, seven ships were purchased and two or three more were chartered. The state agreed to sell the ships to the Confederate Navy for $61,040 on 3 July 1861. The legislature ceded all ships and fortifications to the Confederate government on 12 July 1861.

Governor Ellis's papers include a list of the steamers available in the Albemarle and the Norfolk areas. The list was compiled by…

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Added by Bruce Long on November 11, 2012 at 10:30am — 4 Comments

Fort Monroe Action

Thank you for letting me be a member.

I have a short message that I hope makes sense. As everyone knows, Fort Monroe played a major role in the operations of Eastern North Carolina, and so much more. It was kind of a base for the Union Navy, and many sailors frequented the facilities there. I guess the closest thing to the Navy club was the Hygeia DIning Saloon! James Fenwick, quarter gunner who died first on the night the Monitor was lost, was incarcerated in the brig here, along with…

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Added by Caroline Hancock on September 7, 2012 at 7:05pm — No Comments

The Civil War expedition no one knows about

We've all heard about Butler's Hatteras Expedition, Burnside's Expedition, and Wild's Expedition. How many have heard of Hunter's Expedition?

Butler's expedition departed for Hatteras Inlet from Hampton Roads on Monday, August 26, 1861. They began their attack on the forts at Hatteras Inlet on the 28th. The Confederate forces surrendered around 11 a.m. on the 29th. Around 700 prisoners were taken to northern prisons.

Hunter's expedition to North Carolina was a reaction to…

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Added by Bruce Long on July 30, 2012 at 9:00am — No Comments

Suddenly the pieces all fell together

An entry in the CSS Ellis' log for 4 August 1861 states that they found the CSS Weldon N. Edwards and the NCN steamer Beaufort at anchor at Ocracoke. Wait a minute! The Edwards was part of the NC Navy, not the CS Navy. The NC Convention ceded the state's military forces and installations to the Confederate government effective 20 August 1861. And, James W. Cooke, commanding the Edwards, was never a lieutenant in the NC navy. He initially joined the Virginia navy, then was commissioned in the…

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Added by Bruce Long on July 27, 2012 at 12:30am — No Comments

Finally, a good description of Fort Forrest!

I stumbled across a very good Fort Forrest desciption in the Official Records of the Navy. Acting Volunteer Lieutenant Behm, commanding the Southfield, described it in a report written on 11 Feb 1862:

"The fort was made by hauling two canal boats along the shore and then filling up with sod, or rather both mud and sod, interlined with and braced on the outside with timber. The whole battery had seven 32-pounders, all stolen from the United States. One of the canal…

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Added by Bruce Long on July 1, 2012 at 1:00pm — No Comments

Why was the CSS Appomattox sent to Edenton on 7 Feb 1862?

The Appomattox was sent to Edenton the morning of 7 February 1862, just as the Union invasion of Roanoke Island was beginning. Why did they send away one of their 8 gunboats just as the battle was beginning?

I may be close to finding the answer. The 2nd Battalion NC Volunteers, originally part of Wise's Legion, had been sent to Wilmington in December of 1861, where they remained until ordered to Roanoke Island on 1 February 1862. They landed on Roanoke Island during the morning of 8…

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Added by Bruce Long on June 22, 2012 at 10:00pm — 1 Comment

You never know what you will find when you go digging through the records.

I was sleepily slogging my way through the Confederate Navy Subject Files the other night as I normally do (usually 500-1000 pages per night) when I happened on an invoice for the Schooner M.C. Sumner, Captain James Cartwright. She was detained with work around the Pork Point battery (Fort Bartow), bringing up stores from Fort Oregon following its abandonment.

She was also used for the conveyance of troops to Chicamacomico in early October of 1861. These troops were part of the…

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Added by Bruce Long on June 10, 2012 at 1:30pm — No Comments

Where did they go?

Where did the North Carolina Squadron sailors go following the battle of Elizabeth City? For years I have known that around 28 ended up on the CSS Virginia. The crews of the CSS Raleigh and Beaufort were kept intact and fought alongside the Virginia during the battle of Hampton Roads as well. But where did the crews of the CSS Fanny, Forrest, Curlew, Sea Bird, and Ellis end up? Did they just desert?

Ed Milligan may have dug up the answer for me several years ago when he transcribed…

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Added by Bruce Long on May 14, 2012 at 8:00pm — No Comments

Summertime is approaching and still no divers

Barry Cullen and I hope to find the remains of the CSS Sea Bird this summer if we can just find a couple of divers to help. Barry  has a side-scan sonar unit and has scanned most of the rivers in this part of the state. His scans show 5 likely targets in the Pasquotank River.

Philip Madre, finder of the CSS Appomattox, gave up on the search two years ago. Richard Lawrence told him that he had found a reference in the Edenton port records that said the Fanny and Sea Bird were salvaged…

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Added by Bruce Long on May 8, 2012 at 9:38pm — No Comments

I could use some help

I am compiling a list of all the enlisted crewmen I can find that served in the North Carolina Squadron. The list will include the ships they served on. Si Harrington at the State Archives is compiling a list of all the sailors from the state of North Carolina that served in the CS Navy for inclusion in a future volume of NC Troops. I need help identifying the sailors on my list that were born and/or lived in North Carolina so I can pass the names on to Si. I hope to post my list here by…

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Added by Bruce Long on April 30, 2012 at 7:00pm — No Comments

The world turned upside down!

In this photo, Andrew Duppstadt looks like he is thinking, "Has Chris lost his mind? Why are we towing the CSS Albemarle instead of boarding her????" More photos from the 22nd annual event at Plymouth can be found in the Plymouth 2012 album in the Photos section.

Added by Bruce Long on April 29, 2012 at 9:00am — 1 Comment

More evidence as to the makeup of the CSS Appomattox crew

The payroll for the North Carolina Squadron was split into two groups in December of 1861. Each group consisted of four ships. No listings for the Appomattox appears in either set of records.

Twenty men from the crew of the CSS Virginia were sent to Flag Officer Lynch in January of 1862 in response to the Union fleet landing at Hatteras. Lynch was told that the sailors were on loan for the current emergency. Their accounts were not going to be transferred.

The Virginia's crew…

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Added by Bruce Long on April 10, 2012 at 6:00pm — No Comments

Why was William Marrow among the captured?

William Marrow (also spelled Murrow and Mara in the records) was a 2nd class fireman on the CSS Forrest at the time of the battle of Elizabeth City. He is the only member of the Forrest's crew listed among the captured. How did this come about?

The Forrest was sitting on the marine railway awaiting repairs to a propeller shaft that became displaced during the battle of Roanoke Island. Some of her crew fought at the fort during the battle. Lt. Harwar Parker of the Beaufort wrote, "Some…

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Added by Bruce Long on April 10, 2012 at 5:30pm — No Comments

Who was in the "mosquito fleet"?

In December 1861, Paymaster Ritchie received an assistant paymaster. The North Carolina Squadron payroll was divided into two groups. One contained the accounts of the Winslow, Sea Bird, Fanny, and Beaufort. The other group, assigned to Asst. Paymaster Moore, covered the Curlew, Forrest, Raleigh, and Ellis. Here is the listing for Ritchie's group for the 1st Quarter of 1862. The Raleigh listings were added on 21 February 1862, after the squadron had been destroyed at Elizabeth…

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Added by Bruce Long on April 10, 2012 at 5:30pm — No Comments

Seabird Flag

Could the french looking flag used by Lynch and other ships have come fron the Proney? Such a flag was on the surviving ship in Hampton Roads.

Added by Bob Smith on February 29, 2012 at 12:54pm — 1 Comment

Civil War Living History Day Firearms Display

I will be presenting a display entitled "Firearms of the Federal Navy 1861-1865" at the Museum on Feb. 11th. it will consist of pistols and carbines and rifles. Stop by the display and we will discuss the firearms.

Added by Larry Altman Floyd on January 30, 2012 at 9:05pm — No Comments

Flags of the "mosquito fleet"

I got an e-mail from Kazimierz Zygadlo the other day asking about the distinctive flag flown by the CSS Sea Bird. Flag Officer William F. Lynch created the flag, apparently from a French tri-color flag found in a locker at Gosport Navy Yard in Portsmouth. The flag featured 11 stars on the vertical blue field of the flag, arranged in the shape of a Latin cross. This flag was definitely not regulation! Regulations called for three horizonal bars with the stars arranged in a circle on a blue…

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Added by Bruce Long on November 6, 2011 at 4:30pm — No Comments

Good news on the CSS Forrest site

The bridge contruction company has begun driving pilings for the temporary bridge that will parallel the old bridge slated for demolition. From the looks of it, the new pilings will miss the target site for the Forrest by 20-30 feet. Now if we could just get some divers lined up for next summer! It is probably already too cold to make any dives this fall.

Added by Bruce Long on October 30, 2011 at 7:06pm — 1 Comment

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