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January 2012

This week in the Civil War - January 15 1862

USS_HatterasThe Union Navy, intent on further tightening the blockade on the South and seizing Confederate outposts all along its coast, dispatches the USS Hatteras to Cedar Key, Fla., in this week 150 years ago in the Civil War. 

The warship destroys seven small ships suspected of blockade running that are loaded with cotton and other goods at this key supply point along Florida’s Gulf coast. 

Dispatches of the era report heavy firing is heard for miles all around as the raid opens. Troops go ashore and destroy the railroad depot, which is at the western terminus of the Florida Railroad. They also damage the telegraph office and other buildings. 

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports afterward that Union forces rejoiced in the latest U.S. Navy victory. “It is gratifying to learn through a rebel source that we have captured Cedar Keys,” the newspaper says in an extensive report. 

The newspaper account notes the Gulf Coast produces excellent hardwoods for shipbuilding and that the raid effectively shut off a key supply source for Confederate shipbuilders. It notes Union Navy forces which also went to Key West and earlier seized Fort Pickens on the Florida Gulf Coast have had a string of startling successes in blocking 

Confederate supply routes through Florida on the Gulf of Mexico. With those areas coming under Union control or dominance, the newspaper boasts, “There is not much left of the state of Florida worth having.” The USS Hatteras would go on to sink several suspected blockade runners in the Gulf before being sunk itself by a Confederate attack off the Texas coast later in the war.

The Associated Press

Telegraphy, the first information superhighway



The advent of the Internet has prompted endless claims that we are living through an unprecedented revolution in communication, one that has annihilated the concept of distance. Yet the real revolution came with the arrival of the telegraph in the 19th century.

The innovations of Joseph Henry and Samuel F.B. Morse, among others, led to the first telegraphed message in 1844, and by the late 1850s President Buchanan was famously exchanging pleasantries with Queen Victoria. Over 50,000 miles of telegraph wire were strung across the country in the prior two decades, and by November 1861 a transcontinental network was complete.

Continue reading at the


The H.L. Hunley sits in a conservation tank on Jan. 12, 2012 at a conservation lab in North Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/Bruce Smith)


NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. - The world has a clearer view of the Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley for the first time in nearly 150 years.

 Crews at a North Charleston conservation lab on Thursday lifted a more than eight-ton truss that has shrouded the hand-cranked sub for the last dozen years.

 The operation took about 15 minutes as the truss was slowly lifted and moved laterally over the tank.

The endeavor allows conservation of the sub to begin. Scientists hope that getting a close look at the entire hull will finally yield clues as to why the Hunley sank in 1864 with its crew of eight.

The Hunley sent the federal blockade ship Housatonic to the bottom, becoming the first sub in history to sink an enemy warship before sinking as well. It took another 50 years before another sub was able to take down a ship.

 A funeral for the crew was held in 2007, 140 years after the sub sank. Thousands of Civil War re-enactors wore Confederate and Union uniforms, and marched along the bodies of the crew until they reached their final resting place along the Cooper River.

CBS News

Civil War museums changing as view on war changes


Jeff davis
In this undated photo provided by Louisiana's Civil War Museum, a portrait of General Robert E. Lee is seen at the Louisiana’s Civil War Museum in New Orleans. Inside, battle flags line the walls. Uniforms, swords and long-barreled guns fill case after museum case, alongside homespun knapsacks, dented canteens and tiny framed pictures of women the soldiers left at home. In the back, where the body of Jefferson Davis once lay in state, the collection is dedicated to the onetime president of the confederacy.

By: MARY FOSTER Associated Press


Inside Louisiana's Civil War Museum, battle flags line the walls. Uniforms, swords and long-barreled guns fill museum cases beside homespun knapsacks, dented canteens and tiny framed pictures of wives that soldiers carried into battle.

In the back, there's a collection devoted to Jefferson Davis, one-time president of the Confederacy, complete with his top hat and fancy shoes at the spot where his body once lay in state. It's all housed in a little red stone building next door to the bigger and much more heavily visited Ogden Museum of Southern Art and near the National World War II Museum. Yet 150 years after the Civil War, the little museum finds itself struggling — like others both in the North and South — to make changes and stay relevant with new generations.

Read more at the San Francisco Examiner

This week in the Civil War - January 8 1862

President Abraham Lincoln’s outspoken war secretary, Simon Cameron, a canny old-time political boss from Pennsylvania, resigns the all-important Cabinet post on Jan. 14, 1862. Known for bold and even aggressive views on war measures, Cameron had drawn the ire of others in the Cabinet and departs amid angry complaints about his guidance of the federal War Department. 

Three days after being eased out by the Lincoln administration, Cameron will be appointed to a diplomatic post in distant Russia. In Cameron’s place, Lincoln appoints Edwin Stanton, a capable administrator, as his new war secretary. 

The Cleveland Plain Dealer of Ohio hails Stanton’s appointment as “The Right Man in the Right Place.” It adds the appointment has given “great pleasure” to many in Washington. “They have confidence in his energy and pluck, and believe he will push on the war,” the newspaper reports. 

Also this week, A Union expedition is clearing gale-force storms off Hatteras Inlet, intent on clearing Confederate forces from Roanoke Island close to North Carolina’s Outer Banks — part of a Navy strategy to take command of the sounds and inland waterways behind the islands that blockade runners have been using to supply the Confederate forces based in Richmond, Va.

 This week in 1862 also sees a reported attempt to blow up a Union military hospital just across the Potomac River from Washington in Alexandria, Va. The Associated Press, in a Jan. 9, 1861, dispatch, reports “a barrel had been secreted in the cellar filled with powder and projectiles and a fuse was found extending from there to the stable .. But this fact was fortunatley discovered by the guard” and a slow-burning fuse was put out before the explosives could detonate.

The Associated Press


Arkansas Civil War buffs remember Confederate boy hero

LITTLE ROCK, Ark | Sat Jan 7, 2012 

(Reuters) - David O. Dodd is known as Arkansas' boy martyr of the Confederacy.

On Saturday, about 100 people gathered in the historic Mount Holly Cemetery to remember Dodd, who was 17 when the Union Army hanged him as a spy. Civil War re-enactors and history buffs have been holding the annual event for decades.

"We honor and respect him as an individual who had principles," said Danny Honnoll of Jonesboro, Ark., a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. "How many of us have principles that we are willing to die for?"

Continue reading "Arkansas Civil War buffs remember Confederate boy hero" »

Beauvoir House


Photos courtesy Mark Morgan

Louise Caroline Desport (1862 - 1902) was  house mother at the Bueavoir house in Biloxi, Mississippi during the 1890s. Louise was my Great Grandmother.

Bueavoir was the last home of Confederate President Jefferson Davis. Davis died in 1889. His daughter, Winnie then inherited the property and when she died in 1898, Varina, Jefferson Davis' widow inherited the property. Mrs. Davis sold the property to the Mississippi Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans with two stipulations. The first was that the property be used for a Confederate Veterans Home for the veterans and or their widows at no charge to them. The second stipulation for the sale of the property was that it be used as a memorial to Jefferson Davis and the Confederate Soldier; and that has been done from 1903 until the present time.

Louise was house mother, 'took care of the titles,' showed the house around and acted as tour guide after Davis' death.

Louise died in the summer of 1902, at the age of 40, possibly from Yellow Fever.

Her daughter Mary Bridget Vernier (1885 - 1959) spoke of roaming through the 'house with big rooms,' as a small child and remembered helping to polish the silverware. She said the silver was, 'heavy.'

Louise's  father, William Desport, enlisted August 29, 1862 at Boloxi, Mississippi in Company A, 3rd Mississippi Infantry, as a regimental cook. He deserted  at  Mobile, Alabama, February 2, 1865

At least one member of that family (Louise) can claim to have honorably served the Confederacy, even if it was 40 years after the war.

The Coffee Mill Gun: The Faster You Turn It, the More Rebels it Will Kill


From the Civil War Daily Gazette:

Though Abraham Lincoln had little military experience, he was fascinated with weaponry and technology. No gun held his attention more than the Union Repeating Rifle, which he coined “the coffee mill gun.” Back in June, Lincoln himself had tested the new firearm. It had been presented by a New Yorker named J.D. Mills, who pitched the gun as “an army in a box,” but the actual inventor seems lost in patent papers and history.

Whomever invented it, Lincoln loved it. This “devil’s coffee mill” took standard issue .58-caliber paper cartridges, which were dumped into the hopper. When a crank was turned, the cartridges fell into the firing mechanism and fired off at 120 rounds per minute.

Read more at:
The Coffee Mill Gun: The Faster You Turn It, the More Rebels it Will Kill.

This week in The Civil War - January 1, 1862


The year 1862 will open with the Union Army of the Potomac under Major Gen. McClellan facing popular and political pressure to engage in major combat with its Confederate foes.But McClellan has come down with typhoid and is ill in bed. 

President Abraham Lincoln is increasingly anxious to engage Southern secessionists in battle even as he wishes to give his general time to prepare for battle. New Year’s Day of 1862 dawns though with some hostilities. 

On Jan. 1, 1862, Union warships unleash a barrage on targets around Pensacola, Fla., and the Confederates respond by bombarding Union-held Fort Pickens. But bigger fights lay ahead. 

New Year’s Day sees Lincoln and his wife welcome members of the Supreme Court, foreign diplomats and leading Army and Navy officers at a White House reception. The Associated Press reports the Marine Band played “choice music” at the gathering and after midday, per customs of that era, the outside gates were thrown open to the public “when the large mass of impatient human beings rushed in for a visit to the President.” 

Elsewhere, Union troops stationed across the Potomac River from Washington in northern Virginia are told not to let their bands go out on “serenading parties.” As AP notes: “There has, it appears, been an excess of such music at night, and in many cases proved more an annoyance than a compliment.” 

AP reports in a dispatch Jan. 2 from Nashville, Tenn., that some Confederate units have destroyed railroad tracks for several miles in the region. AP reports other movements by Confederate forces “we do not comprehend” and adds troop movements in several areas “point clearly to stormy events” ahead.

The Associated Press