At the top of the page, it said January 1865. Smoothing the wrinkles, I first looked for the poetry column…
Unfortunately, there wasn’t a poem in this copy. On the back page was a shocking report about some bad Confederate raiders. I didn’t want to read that and turned to the front page. The headline caught my eye. A fort – Fort Fisher – had been captured by Union soldiers. The port of Wilmington closed, meaning no ships could go in or out. The article explained that Wilmington had been an important port for blockade runners, but it didn’t explain what those were. (Lighthouse Loyalty, Chapter 5)
In Lighthouse Loyalty, a historical fiction book, young Susan Rose Arnold reads old newspapers and wonders about the recently ended American conflict, the Civil War. One afternoon she reads about Fort Fisher and Wilmington’s port, which played important roles in the maritime aspects of the war.
If you’ve been curious for details, here are 10 things you should know about Fort Fisher: Continue reading
It’s been a year – and what an exciting year. Since launching this series, it’s been a “high seas adventure” every week, bringing you historical details about many different aspects of 19th Century American Maritime History. Let’s celebrate the end of a voyage… Continue reading
After the Civil War (1876 to be exact), John Wilkinson wrote and published his memoirs of his blockade running days as captain aboard the Giraffe – later, renamed the Robert E. Lee. This excerpt describes the Giraffes arrival in Wilmington, North Carolina with a tense situation adding to the blockade running challenge.
(Note: This is the second maritime blog post today. I accidentally missed a post in November and decided to post double today. If you’re looking for today’s first post, it’s here: 5 Blockade Runner Captains You Should Know About)
Everything being in readiness, we sailed on December 26th, 1862. Having on board a Charleston pilot, as well as one for Wilmington, I had not determined, on sailing, which port to attempt; but having made the land near Charleston bar during thick weather on the night of the 28th, our pilot was afraid to venture further. We made and offing, therefore before daylight; and circumstances favouring Wilmington, we approached the western bar on the night of December 29th. We had been biding our time since twelve o’clock that day close in to the shore about forty miles southwest of the bar and in the deep bay formed by the coast between Wilmington and Charleston. Continue reading
I think it’s important to talk about people in history, and I realized that’s something we haven’t really done in our weeks of posts on blockade runners. This week’s first maritime post focuses on five captains who ran the Union blockade during the Civil War.
Many of the captains had been Southern steamboat captains prior to the war, which was an ideal qualification since they usually knew the coastline, allowing them to be captain and navigator. Some captains had served in the U.S. Navy and resigned when their states joined the Confederacy. Others were foreigners, willing to have an adventure and perhaps earn a fortune.
The post will be relatively short since it’s the holiday season and I suppose most readers don’t want 2,000 words to study.
Famous is a relative term. Someone who is famous in his hometown might be unknown in the next state. Choosing just five blockade runners to discuss today was a challenge. Some lists of “famous” blockade runners are lengthy, leaving me wondering what qualified as “famous.”
In the end, I decided to just choose five ships that illustrate interesting details about blockade running during the Civil War. If you’d nominate other runners, leave me a comment with the story!
So…what happened if a blockade runner was captured? What happened to the ship? The crew? And what would a captain do to prevent capture?
Today, we’ll continue our discussion of blockade runners bringing supplies to the Confederacy during the Civil War, focusing on a relatively common circumstance, but one that every Southern captain wanted to avoid. A captured ship meant loss of supplies entering the Southern states and loss of profit for the owners, captain, and crew. Continue reading