Wednesday, December 29, 2010

New Year, New Things for the CWN 150

As we are now in the final days before the sesquicentennial anniversary of the American Civil War, it would only be fitting to highlight some new ideas and activities surrounding the CWN 150 for our devoted readers.

One of the most celebrate activities during the New Year is the countdown of the ball in Times Square. Everybody gathers around the television (or if you are lucky enough to be there in Times Square) to count down the final 10 seconds of the previous year, celebrating the first seconds of the proceeding one in joyful applause and embrace.

Here is our own "Top 10" list of new features and activities for CWN 150 readers to get involved with.

1. Featured Blog Tabs

The newest feature to the blog are the series of tabs at the top of the page. These allow you ease of access through the site, as well as provide some helpful links to other CWN 150-related pages. As you can see from the picture above, the tabs are as follows:

  1. Home - takes you back to the CWN 150 Blog home page
    CWN 150 Bloggers - a list of all the current CWN 150 bloggers with their emails and info
  2. Organizations - participating CWN 150 organizations
  3. Publications - a list of all current CWN 150/NHHC publications
  4. Links - Need another CWN 150-related link? Find it here
  5. Facebook - directly links you to the official CWN 150 Facebook page
  6. NHHC CWN - directly links you to information on the Civil War Navy, courtesy of NHHC
  7. Boards - directly links you to the official CWN 150 Message Board (see below)
  8. ORN - directly links you to a complete and free view of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies During the Rebellion. These records are also available for FREE on Google Books.
  9. Questions? - Have a question about the Civil War navies? Click this tab to directly link to your email

2. Get Involved with Facebook

It is no surprise that Facebook is the #1 social networking tool in the world. Many (if not all) of you have Facebook accounts. Help us spread the word and awareness of the Civil War Navy Sesquicentennial by "liking" the Civil War Navy Sesquicentennial on Facebook. Simply search "Civil War Navy Sesquicentennial" to get to the page, or click the direct link HERE or on our tab on the CWN 150 blog home page. Stay connected and up to date!

3. Featured Polls

Over the past two months, we have asked readers about who they felt was the most influential Civil War naval officer. The results and comments thus far have been very positive. As the poll continues into its quarterfinal round, we will likely post other interactive this blog. Submit your vote today!

4. CWN 150 Message Board

As of today, the CWN 150 has its own message board. It is free to sign up and start contributing and interacting with fellow CWN 150 readers and enthusiasts. Forum topics include everything from general CWN discussion to the ships, sailors, and organization of the Union and Confederate navies. You can click the tab to link you there, or by clicking HERE to the forum index.

5. Updated Calendar of Events on CWN 150 Blog

Several 2011 events are now added to the calendar located at the top page of the blog. If you have an event that you would like to see on the CWN 150 blog calendar or Facebook page, please email Matthew Eng at

6. CWN 150 Special Edition Daybook Available for Download

As stated before in previous blog entries (30 November 2010), the Civil War Navy Special Edition Daybook is now available for FREE download HERE. You can also access the page by clicking on the "Publications" tab.

7. Future Online Contests for Prizes

Future online contests for prize incentives will become an excellent way to foster growth and interest in the sesquicentennial in upcoming years. Stay posted.

8. Getting Involved with the CWN 150

Have an interest in the Civil War and its navies? Enjoy writing or researching? If you are, then click on the "Questions" tab to email about your interest in getting involved with the CWN 150. We are always looking for new people to help with the blog or Facebook page. If this is you, don't delay! If you are an undergrad currently in college or are a prospective college student email Sarah Adler at for more information.

9. Civil War Navy Card Game in Final Development Stages

We are nearing the final stage of development of The Fight at Sea: Anaconda trading card game. Please check back for details on how you can get involved and start playing today. If you would like info on current details, email Gordon Calhoun at

10. Coming Soon: CWN 150 Podcasts and Youtube

One of the goals of the CWN 150 in the next year is to have not only a Civil War Navy Youtube video page, but a weekly or biweekly podcast devoted to any and everything Civil War Navy Sesquicentennial. Stay posted for more details.

I hope this is some exciting news for many of you. Have a safe and happy new year.

Full Speed Ahead,

Matthew T. Eng
Coordinator, Civil War Navy Sesquicentennial

Matthew F. Maury wins Week 8 Poll, Quarterfinal Poll Posted

Former U.S. Navy Commander turned Confederate Matthew F. Maury won the final Round 1 poll today. Over the last two months, we have asked our readers: "Who Was the Greatest Naval Officer During the Civil War?" Many of those included were not in fact "officers," but had ties or affiliations closely resembling that of distinguish. After 8 weeks of polls, the first round is over. Maury himself spent a long and distinguished career in the United States Navy before resigned his commission at the outset of war.

Indeed, Maury's influence from his naval career spanned his entire lifetime. He was the Civil War-era equivalent of a "Renaissance Man," as he was a well established explorer, author, historian, lecturer, cartographer, and geologist. You can see a brief biography of Matthew F. Maury HERE, courtesy of the Naval History and Heritage Command.

We will now begin the quarterfinal round of polls this week. The eight remaining officers chosen by you (the readers) are as follows: Union - David D. Porter, John Dahlgren, William Cushing, Andrew H. Foote; Confederate - Raphael Semmes, John M. Brooke, Thomas Lockwood, Matthew F. Maury. We will be posting the quarterfinal round of polls over the next month. This week's poll includes a matchup between Union naval officers of high mark and distinguish: David D. Porter and John Dahlgren. There were a lot of votes towards the end of the poll, so vote now, and encourage other enthusiasts to do so!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Civil War Navy As Seen In DC's Public Art

Anyone who has visited or lived in Washington, DC knows that public art -- especially in the form of monuments and statuary -- is prevalent in nearly all of the city's green spaces. Four of these pieces are directly related to the Civil War Navy and are well worth noticing next time you are in the area.

Admiral David G. Farragut appears in standing statue form in Farragut Square (17th and K St. NW). The piece was sculpted by Vinnie Ream Hoxie, cost $20,000, and was dedicated on 25 April 1881.

The Naval Peace Monument also known as the Naval Monument or Peace Monument, was created by Franklin Simmons in 1877 to honor those who died honorably at sea during the Civil War. It is located at Pennsylvania Ave. and 1st St. NW. The cost of the piece was $20,000, paid for primarily by subscriptions from naval personnel.

The DuPont Memorial, a monumental fountain located in Dupont Circle at the intersections of Massachusetts Ave., Connecticut Ave., 19th St. and P St. NW, was paid for by the family of Admiral Samuel DuPont and was dedicated on 17 April 1921. It was sculpted by Daniel Chester French (of Lincoln Memorial fame) and cost $77,521.33.

John Ericsson, the inventor behind the famous Monitor, can be found in West Potomac Park sitting with an allegorical group representing his heritage and contributions. The monument was sculpted by J.E. Fraser at the price of $63,500 and was dedicated on 29 May 1926.

Photographs courtesy of flickr.

Update on the CSS Peedee

An update on the archaeological survey on the CSS Peedee wreck site posted today:

USC Archeologists Locate Wreck of Confederate Gunboat

Although the ship itself is identified as "... in pieces and buried." The team has located two of the three guns from the Peedee, one Brooke rifle and one Dahlgren IX-inch smoothbore. Some of the Dahlgren's stamps are still legible after nearly 150 years underwater. Photos in the article show a recovered Brooke projectile.

The intent is to recover some portions of the wreck, including the guns, in a preservation program hosted by nearby Francis Marion University.

John M. Brooke Wins Week 7 Poll; Final Poll on Blog

Over the past few months, we have included a series of polls on the CWN 150 blog asking readers this question: "Who Was the Greatest Naval Officer During the American Civil War?" After seven weeks of voting, we are on our last round of voting before going into the next "playoff" round between Union and Confederate officers. After a week's worth of voting, John M. Brooke, creator of the infamous Brooke Rifle, won week 7's poll with 7 votes. You can read a brief bio of John M. Brooke HERE courtesy of the Naval History and Heritage Command. Here is a picture of a Brooke Rifle used by a Confederate Battery along the James River:

This week's final Round 1 poll with highlight the last four Confederate naval officers on our list: Franklin Buchanan, John Maffitt, Samuel Barron, and Matthew F. Maury.

Please encourage others to vote in this poll. Although voting for these men may seem a bit superficial, your participation helps CWN 150 participant organization gain a better understanding of exactly what has "stuck" over the past 150 years.

One of the goals of the CWN 150 is to understand who and what enthusiasts and general public alike feel about the Civil War Navy. In a sesquicentennial that is already drawing up much attention in the press, it is important to understand how the Civil War Navy is regarded in public memory. As we approach the final days before the official 150th anniversary of America's most troubling period in its short history, your thoughts and ideas on the "webbed feet" of the war will be greatly appreciated.
Happy Holidays from the Civil War Navy Sesquicentennial.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

1 Day Left to Vote on Week 7 Poll!

Just a reminder that there is 1 day left to vote on this week's poll: Who Was the Greatest Naval Officer During the Civil War (Week 7). This week's choices are Catesby ap Roger Jones, John T. Wood, John M. Brooke, and James Montgomery. Next week's poll will complete the 8 preliminary polls before we go into a series of "playoff" scenarios for the officers you voted for in previous weeks. The final poll will showdown the Union and Confederate officer, ultimately decided by YOU the dedicated readers of CWN 150.

We hope everybody has a safe holiday season as we go "full speed ahead" towards the sesquicentennial years of the American Civil War.

You will also notice a few changes to the blog. We have now included tabs on the top of the page. Each tab offers some useful information on links, publications, and some general info on the ongoing list of bloggers for the Civil War Navy. If you are interested in contributing to the blog, or would like to post your events to the CWN 150 homepage, please email Matthew T. Eng at for more information.


 Civil War Navy Sesquicentennial on Twitter
 Naval History and Heritage Command

Hampton Roads Naval Museum

Mariners' Museum

National Civil War Naval Museum

National Museum of the US Navy

NPS Civil War Homepage

Cape Fear Civil War Roundtable

Civil War Daily Gazette

Civil War Preservation Trust

Twenty Great Reads_Civil War Navy

Wars and Conflicts_Civil War Navy

Civil War Navies Message Boards

Civil War Florida

Civil War Traveler

Friends of Fort Fisher

CWN 150 Publications

The Civil War Navy Sesquicentennial is dedicated to providing scholarship on the history and heritage of the navies during the Civil War during the commemorative years. The following is a summary list of publications produced by the participants of the Civil War Navy Sesquicentennial.

Civil War Navy Special Edition Daybook

The staff of the Hampton Roads Naval Museum published a Civil War Navy 150 Special Edition for The Daybook, its quarterly publication of local naval history. This issue serves a primer for the events and facts concerning the war between the U.S. Navy and the C.S. Navy. A PDF version of the issue can be downloaded here, or click the cover image. Print copies are still available. Requests for print copies can be made to The Daybook editor at or CWN 150 Coordinator at

Civil War Navy Special Edition: The Tech War (NEW for 2012)

The latest special edition of The Daybook focuses on the importance of technology and the Civil War navies.  A PDF version of the issue can be downloaded here, or click the cover image. Print copies are still available. Requests for print copies can be made to The Daybook editor at or CWN 150 Coordinator at

The Daybook: The Official Publication of the Hampton Roads Naval Museum
The quarterly publications of the Hampton Roads Naval Museum offers Civil War Navy specific posts.  For more information, please go HERE.

Blacks in Blue Jackets: African Americans in the Union Navy

African Americans played an integral part in securing victory for the Union during the Civil War. Download this brief pamphlet outlining a brief history of their involvement during the Civil War HERE or download these .jpg images. below. Click the image and "save as" to save the images. 

Participating Organizations

Interested in partnering your organization with the Civil War Navy Sesquicentennial? Email Matthew Eng, CWN 150 Coordinator, at for details and information.

Civil War Navy Sesquicentennial Bloggers

Naval History and Heritage Command Bloggers

Laura Orr
Special Events Coordinator/Educator, Hampton Roads Naval Museum
Other Blog Contributions: Hampton Roads Naval Museum

John Pentangelo
Curator/Registrar, Naval War College Museum
Other Blog Contributions: Naval History Blog, Naval War College Museum

Naval Historical Foundation Bloggers

Matthew Eng, Coordinator
Digital Content Developer, Naval Historical Foundation
Other Blog Contributions: Naval Historical FoundationNaval History

CWN 150 Blog Contributors

Craig Swain
Civil War Historian and Enthusiast
Other Blog Contributions: Marker Hunter, Civil War Monitor

Andrew Duppstadt
Assistant Curator of Education, NC Historic Sites
Other Blog Contributions: Civil War Navy

"Seaman Rob" AKA Rob Mattson
USS Fort Henry Living History Association

John Grady
Civil War Historian and Author

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Thomas Lockwood Wins Week 6 Poll, Week 7 Poll Up

Over the past six weeks, we have asked our readers to vote who they thought was the greatest naval officer during the American Civil War. Each week, we offer four candidates. After each week's winner is decided, they will essentially go into a weekly "playoff" system to decide who YOU think deserves credit. Thomas Lockwood, the "Dashing Blockade Runner," won last week's poll. This week's poll (Week 7) offers four more Confederate candidates, many of which are highly familiar in Confederate naval lore. Please follow the links for a brief biography.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Those Old Ships of the Line

Hard to believe, but at the eve of a war which would feature use of armored warships, steam propulsion, rifled naval guns, mines, and primitive submarines, the U.S. Navy retained several ships-of-the-line on the vessel list. Although most sat on the stocks out of commission, in 1860 the Navy counted eight 74-gun and two 120-gun ships-of-the-line.

Retention of such seemingly obsolete vessels was not as absurd as it may seem. Steam propulsion, a technology still evolving past infancy, suffered from a few tactical issues. Among those was slow speed handling in exactly the tight formations in which doctrine called for the battle divisions to fight. Yes, just as Army officers looked back to the Napoleonic wars for components of their tactics and doctrine, many naval officers considered Nelson's battle line in regard to dispositions. And certainly around appropriations time, many noted place of honor the ship-of-the-line retained even as steam power prevailed.

(Contemporary Illustration of the USS Pennsylvania - Wikipedia commons)

The USS Pennsylvania, laid down in 1822 and commissioned in 1837, was the largest sailing warship ever built in the United States. Rated as a 120-gun ship, by 1860 she was laid up in Norfolk as a receiving ship. If fitted out for war, the Pennsylvania would mount an impressive mix of 8-inch shell guns and 32-pdr cannon. But she was not ready for war as the secession crisis loomed.

Also laid up at Norfolk were the 74-gun ships USS Columbus and USS Delaware. The Columbus was completed in 1819 and commissioned in 1828, the Delaware actually carried 84 guns. A sister ship of the Delaware, the New York was, according to some sources, laid up incomplete at Norfolk. But the Naval records indicate the partially completed vessels was in the New York shipyard. Regardless the New York was never actually commissioned into the U.S. Navy.

(USS North Carolina - Wikipedia commons)

The USS North Carolina served as a storeship in at the New York Navy Yard. Another 74-gun ship, the USS Ohio which dated to 1820, lay in Boston as a receiving ship. Other ships of the rate - the Alabama, Vermont, and Virginia - lay incomplete and thus not commissioned on the stocks. And at Sacketts Harbor, New York, the New Orleans, a 120-gun rate, remained incomplete as the sole Great Lakes ship-of-the-line.

Of the American ships-of-the-line, the Columbus,, North Carolina, and Delaware saw substantial service before the Civil War. The Columbus and Ohio were active during the Mexican War. Like the American frigates, the American 74s often carried guns in excess of their rate. The North Carolina reportedly carried over 100 guns during some Mediterranean cruises.

As indicated, at the time of South Carolina's secession in December 1860, none of these vessels were ready for service. Faced with other operational concerns, the Navy let the ships remain either on the stocks or in yard support capacities right up to the start of the Civil War. The Navy burned the Pennsylvania and Delaware when Virginia state troops took over Norfolk in April 1861, somewhat symbolically marking the end of the ship-of-the-line era.

(USS New Hampshire as receiving ship - Wikipedia commons)

However, a few of the big old sailing ships continued to serve as store ships or receiving ships until the end of the Civil War. The Alabama became the USS New Hampshire, and was commissioned as a store ship. The New Hampshire and Vermont served on station at Port Royal, South Carolina, reportedly receiving heavy caliber Parrott rifles.

As the U.S. Navy entered 1861, in spite of their reserve status these ships-of-the-line were proud measures used to compare with foreign navies. However, during the Civil War the Navy found more use for the ship's holds than the big ship's cannons.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Vicksburg Military Park Included in 2011 America the Beautiful Program Coins

Vicksburg Military Park will be included in the second set of coins issued by the United State Mint's Beautiful Quarters Program. Other 2011 Beautiful Quarters will honor Gettysburg National Military Park, Glacier National Park, Olympic Nationalo Park, and Chickasaw National Recreation Area.

The coin depicts the U.S.S. Cairo on the Yazoo River as it would have been seen when it served the Union Navy during the Civil War. Inscriptions are VICKSBURG, MISSISSIPPI, 2011 and E PLURIBUS UNUM.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Civil War Navy Daybook Now Online

The staff of the Hampton Roads Naval Museum published a Civil War Navy 150 Special Edition for The Daybook, its quarterly publication of local naval history.  This issue serves a primer for the events and facts concerning the war between the U.S. Navy and the C.S. Navy.  A PDF version of the issue can be downloaded here.  Print copies are still available. Requests for print copies can be made to The Daybook editor at

Friday, November 26, 2010

Raphael Semmes Wins Week 5 Poll; Poll 6 Posted

Last month, the CWN 150 announced that it will begin a poll to decide who was the greatest naval officer of the Civil War. The polls will stretch over a few months, ultimately with a showdown between Union and Confederate officers. This past week, we highlighted our first poll with Confederate naval officers: Raphael Semmes, Josiah Tattnal, French Forrest, and Duncan Ingraham. After a week of voting, Raphael Semmes won decisively with 12 votes.We will be posting the second round of Confederate naval officers today: James Bullock, Sidney S. Lee, George Dixon, and Thomas Lockwood. Please vote, and encourage others to! Reproduced is Raphael Semmes' brief biography from the Naval History and Heritage Command:

Raphael Semmes was born in Charles County, Maryland, on 27 September 1809. Entering the Navy as a Midshipman in 1826, he subsequently studied law and was admitted to the bar while remaining in the service. During the Mexican War, he commanded the brig USS Somers in the Gulf of Mexico. She was lost in a storm off Vera Cruz in December 1846, but Semmes was commended for his actions in that incident. While on extended leave after the war, he practiced law in Mobile, Alabama. Promoted to the rank of Commander in 1855, Semmes was assigned to Lighthouse duties until 1861, when Alabama's secession from the Union prompted him to resign from the U.S. Navy and adhere to the Confederacy.

Appointed a Commander in the Confederate Navy in April 1861, Raphael Semmes was sent to New Orleans to convert a steamer into the cruiser CSS Sumter. He ran her through the Federal blockade in June 1861 and began a career of commerce raiding that is without equal in American naval history. During Sumter's six months' operations in the West Indies and the Atlantic, he captured eighteen merchant vessels and skillfully eluded pursuing Union warships. With his ship badly in need of overhaul, he brought her to Gibraltar in January 1862 and laid her up when the arrival of Federal cruisers made a return to sea impossible.

After taking himself and many of his officers to England, Semmes was promoted to the rank of Captain and given command of the newly-built cruiser CSS Alabama. From August 1862 until June 1864, Semmes took his ship through the Atlantic, into the Gulf of Mexico, around the Cape of Good Hope and into the East Indies, capturing some sixty merchantmen and sinking one Federal warship, USS Hatteras. At the end of her long cruise, Alabama was blockaded at Cherbourg, France, while seeking repairs. On 19 June 1864, Semmes took her to sea to fight the Union cruiser USS Kearsarge and was wounded when she was sunk in action. Rescued by the British yacht Dearhound, he went to England, recovered and made his way back to the Confederacy.

Semmes was promoted to Rear Admiral in February 1865 and commanded the James River Squadron during the last months of the Civil War. When the fall of Richmond, Virginia, forced the destruction of his ships, he was made a Brigadier General and led his sailors as an infantry force. Briefly imprisoned after the conflict, he worked as a teacher and newspaper editor until returning to Mobile, where he pursued a legal career. Raphael Semmes died on 30 August 1877.

Monday, November 22, 2010


The History Department at North Carolina State University invites
proposals for a symposium on the public history of the American Civil


The Public History of the American Civil War, a Sesquicentennial

March 26, 2011

The approaching 150th anniversary of the American Civil War provides a
unique opportunity to explore the many ways that public and academic
historians can work together to engage general audiences at
battlefields, historic sites, and museums across the country. On
Saturday, March 26, 2011, the History Department at North Carolina State
University will host a symposium to facilitate discussions among Civil
War interpreters, museum curators, and scholars about how to convey
integrated narratives of military, social, and political history. We
invite panels, roundtables, and workshops to consider issues related to
the public interpretation of the Civil War, including but not limited

- Challenging popular narratives of the war
- Attracting diverse audiences
- Exploring interpretive practices at war-related sites
- Preserving Civil War battlefields
- Integrating scholarship and research into the public interpretation
of the war
- Finding a usable past in Civil War history

We anticipate that the symposium will engage the Civil War broadly,
including the causes of the war, civilians and soldiers on the
battlefields and homefronts, irregular and regular war, and emancipation
and Reconstruction.

Interested public historians, curators, site directors, scholars, etc.
should submit 1-2 page proposals for panels, roundtables, and workshops
and CVs for all participants to Susanna Lee ( and
David Zonderman ( by December 15, 2010.
Decisions on accepted proposals will be made by January 15, 2011.
Invited participants will receive travel and accommodations.

Susanna Lee: 919-513-2215
David Zonderman: 919-513-2222
History Department
North Carolina State University
Fax: 919-515-3886

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Black Civil War Military Archives to Hampton University

Historian and author Bennie J. McRae, Jr. has recently donated his archives of materials documenting the experience of African-American men and women during the Civil War to Hampton University, according to the Associated Press.

The archival documents Mr. McRae is donating includes recollections of African-American sailors. McRae is researcher and site manager of Lest We Forget, a website preserving the history, culture, and heritage of important individuals in Black history and American history.

Hopefully Mr. McRae's contribution will spark more historians to open up their documents and historical records during the sesquicentennial years.

For more information, please go to the Virginian-Pilot article here.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Thanksgiving Tours of USS Water Witch

From The National Civil War Naval Museum, Port Columbus, GA:

Blood and thunder stories of the capture of the USS Water Witch in a midnight attack by the Confederate Navy will be recreated on Friday and Saturday, November 26-27 for the second annual Cool History program at Port Columbus. “This story is the main reason we picked this ship to reproduce,” said museum director Bruce Smith, “everything about it is dramatic and mostly unknown.” Three tours are set for each day and will feature many of the museum’s living history volunteers protraying characters actually on the ship during the fight. There is no special event fee for the Cool History program, just regular museum admission will be charged.

For more information, please go to the website here.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Andrew H. Foote wins week 4 poll! Poll five is up

Last month, the CWN 150 announced that it will begin a poll to decide who was the greatest naval officer of the Civil War. The polls will stretch over a few months, ultimately with a showdown between Union and Confederate officers. This past week, we highlighted our third poll with four Union officers: Andrew H. Foote, Silas Stringham, Winfield Scott (U.S. Army), and Richard W. Meade. After a week of voting, Andrew H. Foote won with 9 votes.We will be posting the third round of the poll today. Please vote, and encourage others to! We will be posting the fifth week of the poll today, finally introducing our first four Confederate naval officers. Reproduced again is Andrew H. Foote's brief biography from the Naval History and Heritage Command:

Andrew H. Foote

Andrew Hull Foote, born 12 September 1806 at New Haven, Conn., entered the Navy 4 December 1822 as a midshipman. Commanding Portsmouth in the East India Squadron on 20 and 21 November 1856, Foote led a landing party which seized the barrier forts at Canton, China, in reprisal for attacks on American ships. From 30 August 1861 to 9 May 1862, Foote commanded the Naval Forces on Western Rivers with distinction, organizing and leading the gunboat flotilla in the capture of Forts Henry and Donelson and Island No. 10. Wounded in action at Fort Donelson, Foote was commissioned Rear Admiral 16 July 1862, and was on his way to take command of the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron when he died at New York 26 June 1863.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Civil War Naval Living History at CSS Neuse State Historic Site, 20 and 21 November 2010

Members of several North Carolina reenactment/living history organizations will be demonstrating all aspects of naval life including navigational techniques, daily shipboard living, and other nautical skills. This year’s program will feature Civil War Navy and Marines, as well as the addition to civilian interpretations. There will be other sutlers/craftsmen at the program with items for sale to the general public.

This year’s program will once more offer visitors a RARE OPPORTUNITY - a special artillery firing after dark Saturday. Gates will reopen at 5:45 p.m. and the demonstration will take place at 6:15 p.m. Visitors should bring a flashlight to help them find their way to the demonstration area. This is a SPECTACULAR demonstration on the banks of the Neuse!

CSS Neuse State Historic Site and Governor Caswell Memorial
2612 W. Vernon Ave.
Kinston, NC 28504

POC: Holly Weaver (252)522-2091

Click here to visit the CSS Neuse website.

Click here for Google Map Directions. Additional information can be found on the Civil War Navy 150 Calendar.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Crewing a Ship's Boat

Photo courtesy USS Ft. Henry web site.

One of the things I like most about Civil War Navy living history is getting the opportunity to try doing some of the things “the old salts” did back then. The first weekend of October 2010, I participated in a small re-enactment event in the Tampa area. Dubbed “The Battle of Ballast Point”, the event recalls a Union Navy cutting out expedition conducted in the fall of 1863 to destroy two Confederate blockade runners – the Kate Dale and the Scottish Chief hiding up the Hillsborough River, a major tributary of Tampa Bay. A party of seamen and marines from the gunboats USS Tahoma and USS Adela set out in ships’ boats to find and burn the two runners, which they succeeded in doing. The landing party was subsequently attacked by a small force of Confederate home guard and cavalry and had to fight their way back to the Navy ships. The re-enactment is held at a small county park bordering the Tampa Bypass Canal (the original Ballast Point site is now part of downtown Tampa, FL), and the feature event is a landing by a ship’s boat, crewed by Union seamen and carrying US Marines. The “ship’s boat” is owned by the park and is actually an old lifeboat which somewhat resembles the ships’ boats of the Civil War period. It takes six sailors to row (three oars on each side), plus the coxswain, officer in charge of the landing party, and up to six marines.

I learned that crewing a boat is very much an acquired skill – it takes some practice to master the art of rowing and maneuvering. You have to be in sync with the other oars and pull together. The main thing is to avoid looking outboard at the oars in the water (not an easy thing to do, as you tend to want to do this instinctively). Keep your eyes inboard and on the back of the man in front of you, and synchronize your movements to his; when he leans forward on the forward stroke of the oar, you do the same, and as he leans back to pull, you lean back and pull. The first day of the event was a bit of a scene as we all struggled to figure this out (half the guys had done this before, the other half, yours truly included, were tadpoles). The second day went much better, as we were all much more in sync. After not more than 10 minutes of rowing, many of us were ready to quit, which makes it all the more amazing that the old fellas in the War would do this for hours on end when they were on landing party raids.

For information on the actual historical event (“The Battle of Ballast Point”), visit the USS Fort Henry web site at:

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

From the November 9 1861 Edition of Harpers Weekly



WE illustrate on this page the Presentation of a Stand of Colors to each of the Regiments of General Viele's Brigade of New York Troops, which took place on 18th October at Annapolis, prior to their departure on the great Southern Expedition. A letter in the Herald thus described the scene:

A grand ceremony took place here yesterday in the presentation of a regimental standard to each of the five regiments comprising General Egbert L. Viele's brigade. The banners, which were national regimental standards, were the united gifts of Mrs. Brigadier-General Viele and the Union Defense Committee of the city of New York. They are made of the heaviest Canton silk, on staffs superbly mounted and inscribed. The entire brigade, consisting of the Third New Hampshire Volunteers, Eighth Maine, Forty-sixth, Forty-seventh, and Forty-eighth New York
regiments, each drawn up in columns by division, closed en masse on the College green, comprising sixty or seventy acres of ground. The weather was beautiful. The sun shone forth with full effulgence. The citizens of Annapolis, their wives and daughters, old and young, grave end gay, all appeared near the scene of the ceremonies, gayly dressed in holiday attire. There could not have been less than fifteen hundred spectators present.