Hunter Ingram from the Star News has posted a very interesting podcast with three parts.
The first is on the Dram Tree in the Cape Fear River, the second is Seneca Guns, the third is the origin of Monkey Junction. Have a listen!
Hunter Ingram from the Star News has posted a very interesting podcast with three parts.
The first is on the Dram Tree in the Cape Fear River, the second is Seneca Guns, the third is the origin of Monkey Junction. Have a listen!
Officially the National Defense Reserve Fleet (and sometimes called “the Ghost Fleet”), the anchored rows of World War II surplus transport vessels, were a presence in Wilmington from 1946 to 1970.
Parked along the Brunswick River, the fleet was described in the press as “the second largest ship graveyard in the world.” (The largest was on the James River near Hampton Roads, Va.)
After World War II, the U.S. Maritime Commission established a “Reserve Fleet Basin” on the Brunswick River to house Liberty ships and other vessels that were no longer needed after demobilization. The first of these vessels, the SS John B. Bryce, arrived at the site on Aug. 12, 1946. Others quickly followed.
During the next few years, ships were moved in and out of the basin; in all, 628 vessels were tied up there at one time or another. The vast majority of these – 542 – were Liberty ships, the mass-produced workhorse freighters like those turned out by the N.C. Shipbuilding Co. in Wilmington. The basin also housed a total of 68 “Victory” ships and 41 vessels of other types, including tankers.
Generally, five of these ships were kept on a high level of readiness, to sail “at a moment’s notice” in the event of a national emergency. The rest were “mothballed,” coated in red-oxide paint, oil and varnish as preservatives to prevent rust.
At its heyday, the U.S. Maritime Administration (which took over the fleet in 1950, after the Maritime Commission was abolished), employed 296 workers on the Brunswick River basin, with a $600,000 payroll.
Many of these were armed guards to prevent theft of the ships’ copper and brass fittings; others were involved in routine maintenance. The ships were lashed and anchored together in groups of five, with each fifth ship moored to pilings driven deep into the river bottom.
Despite these precautions, two of the mothballed freighters broke loose during Hurricane Hazel in 1954 and drifted down the channel, threatening to collide with the U.S. 74 bridge until a tugboat pushed them out-of-the-way.
On Dec. 8, 1958, the SS Edgecomb, a Victory ship, became the last vessel to be tied up at the basin. Beginning in 1958, the government began to sell off older and less fit vessels for scrap, while others were moved to the James River. By 1964, only 152 vessels were left on the Brunswick River, but they remained a formidable sight. “Many motorists stop along the highway to look up the river at them,” said E.W. Thompson, an administrator with the reserve fleet.
By 1968, the total was down to 15 ships. Many were scrapped by Horton Industries in Wilmington; Gilliam Horton, of Horton Iron & Metal, told the Wilmington Morning Star in 1968 that his company could finish off two ships in 90 days.
The last remaining member of the Mothball Fleet, the SS Dwight W. Morrow (named for the father of author Anne Morrow Lindbergh, a former U.S. ambassador to Mexico) was towed away for scrapping on Feb. 27, 1970.
from Our State Magazine
… After 170 miles of paddling, downtown Wilmington appears at the confluence of the Cape Fear and Northeast Cape Fear rivers.
We ducked underneath a railroad bridge at Navassa as a large sightseeing boat was bearing down on us. “We love you, Kemp!” screamed a dozen women and girls onboard. Kemp shook his head and smiled. The captain was a friend of his, Kemp said. He wasn’t really that popular.
At 11:30, we paddled underneath another highway bridge at the mouth of the Northeast Cape Fear River, and suddenly we were downtown, passing a Coast Guard cutter and the Battleship North Carolina, waterfront parks, buildings, fountains, and cars. Men and women eating lunch at riverside restaurants watched us take stroke after stroke. Joggers glanced at us. Dogs sniffed in our direction. We sat up straight, and stuck out our chests. We paddled toward Dram Tree Park like runners entering a stadium at the end of a grueling marathon.
We turned left, just above the noisy Cape Fear Memorial Bridge, and pulled onto a ramp, where Cape Fear River Watch volunteers, friends, and onlookers greeted us. We walked up the street to Elijah’s for a big lunch and Endless River beer. It felt like our journey was over, even though we weren’t done just yet. “The worst part of the trip ending?” Chris said. “You don’t get to paddle the next day.”
As we walked, one of the onlookers stopped me. “How was the trip?” she asked.
It was like having a new job, I said. A good job. I got up in the morning, and got to work paddling. At the end of the day, I had dinner, relaxed, and went to bed. The next morning, I got up and did it again. It was simple. As simple as I dreamed it could be.
And with that, on the seventh day, we rested.
The last day of paddling was an afterthought. We had 26 miles to go, and the wind was at our backs, with a falling tide to push us. We’d reach the river’s end by lunchtime. We left Dram Tree Park at 5:30 a.m. with light boats, carrying just some water and snacks. We paddled into the blackness of the 42-foot-deep shipping channel and quickly encountered a container ship, the Maersk Wakayama, being guided by a tugboat to the mile-long State Port just south of downtown. We gave it a wide berth. The ship was almost the size of two football fields and its captain likely couldn’t see us.
The Cape Fear River was now an estuary, and as its water dried on our coats, it left behind a salty residue. The channel was a mile wide. We passed Island 13, a splinter of land bulked up by sand and dirt dredged from the riverbed. Ahead, the water disappeared into the horizon, under a blue sky flecked with high, pink clouds. Pelicans, ibis, and seagulls circled above us.
View images and read the full story of paddling 200 miles down the Cape Fear River at Our State Magazine.
By Nancy Gadzuk
Jan Davidson, Historian at the Cape Fear Museum of History and Science, spoke at the January 16, 2017 meeting of the Federal Point Historic Preservation Society.
Jan spoke on Service, Sacrifice, and Memorialization: New Hanover County Residents and World War I.
The United States entered World War I in 1917. The war was sold effectively to citizens as a fight for democracy, and colorful propaganda posters promised “Adventure and Action” while serving the country.
World War I was considered a total war that required mobilization on every front. Everything and everyone had to come together: mobilizing business, labor, finances, and, especially, mobilizing “Red Blooded Fighting Men Between 18 and 40.”
Wilmington became the biggest source of draftees in the region, with the majority of its draftees African American. Women were called to serve as nurses.
Those soldiers who did return did not come home unharmed. As one North Carolina returnee wrote from a psychiatric hospital, “We aren’t the same animals at all who left home.”
Wilmington’s World War I Memorial was first erected in 1922 to honor New Hanover County’s war dead. The monument was moved, restored, and rededicated along the downtown Riverwalk in 2014.
The following quote from the Roman poet Horace (born 65 B.C.) is inscribed on its base: “Dulce et Decorum est pro patria mori. ” This was a well-known rallying call during World War I, translating to: “It is sweet and proper to die for your country.”
Dulce et Decorum Est is also the name of the best known poem from the first World War, written by British soldier Wilfred Owen. Owen was killed in action in France one week before the Armistice.
Dulce et Decorum Est
Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.
Gas! Gas! Quick, boys! – An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling,
And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime . . .
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.
If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est Pro patria mori.
Wilmington, North Carolina was a thriving progressive town in the early 1890s where whites, blacks and Indians worked and lived together. Wilmington was North Carolina’s successful hub of business and commerce led by an interracial coalition.
The community built a new political party, the Fusion party, that was more progressive than either the Democratic party, which was controlled by conservative white supremacists in North Carolina, or the Republican party, which was once the party of Lincoln.
This rise of interracial progressive populism was a grave threat to the slave-wage labor economic model of the wealthy white land owners who had very effectively used racism to divide working class whites from blacks and Indians. If average white folks accepted black leadership and saw that their local economy thrived, elite white landowners and businessmen would lose much of their power.
The feudalistic plantation system, that had ruled the south since the foundation of the republic, when the land was stolen from the Indians, was gravely threatened. The white supremacist elites could not allow a thriving interracial society to develop, but they had a problem.
The African American population in the coastal plain was larger than the white population. The cotton plantations in the Atlantic and Gulf coastal plain depended on enslaved labor. There were more enslaved black laborers than white bosses and workers in eastern North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia.
The Fourteenth Amendment had given African Americans the right to vote and vote they did. To restore white supremacy and their power, the elites would have to find a way to slash the black vote. In the mid 1890’s the elites revived the white militias that were used by the Confederate States to terrorize enslaved people into submission.
They dredged up the racist white dregs of North Carolina society to make gangs of white thugs called the Red Shirts. The Red Shirts, who lacked equestrian skills, were lower class than the KKK. The Redshirts began to lynch and terrorize African Americans to keep them from voting and to put them in their place. The Redshirts were egged on by none other than Josephus Daniels owner of the Raleigh News and Observer.
Over 100 years later the News and Observer published an unvarnished report that confessed their historic involvement in the white supremacist coup in Wilmington that set the stage for decades of lynchings and violence against African Americans.
The Ghosts of 1898 WILMINGTON’S RACE RIOT AND THE RISE OF WHITE SUPREMACY
John Hirchak, owner and lead guide of the Ghost Walk of Old Wilmington, spoke on Tales of Old Wilmington at the regular monthly meeting of the History Center on Monday, October 19, 2015.
John began with his own personal story, starting in 1996 when he and his wife Kim visited a ghost walk in Savannah. This planted the seed in his wife’s mind to begin a similar venture in Wilmington. That seed sprouted in 1999 when the Hirchaks started the Ghost Walk of Old Wilmington. John was to work behind the scenes, doing the historical research, and Kim was to be the tour leader. When Kim broke her leg the first week of the Ghost Walk, John took over as tour guide and the rest, as they say, is history.
The Ghost Walk branched out to include a Haunted Pub Crawl, also known as “bar hopping with a purpose.” John wrote short stories for the tours, which led to his first book, Ghosts of Old Wilmington, and, in 2014, his second book, Legends of Old Wilmington and Cape Fear.
John demonstrated that he was a consummate storyteller, turning his own personal history from a series of discrete dates and events into a compelling narrative. As he put it, learning about yourself can be either tragic or amazing, and his story was a little of both.
He then turned to the stories in his most recent book. The common thread running through Legends of Old Wilmington and Cape Fear is that all its characters were legendary in one way or another. John introduced us to two of these characters: Topsy the Elephant and police officer Leon George.
In 1922, the Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus came to Wilmington for a sold-out run. As the circus was preparing to head out of town, Topsy the Elephant decided she wanted to explore Wilmington, and she escaped from the circus grounds.
Topsy made quite a stir in her dash through the city, inspiring this frantic call to the police: “There’s a large varmint in my backyard—ripping my collards with its tail and stuffing them in its rear end!” Topsy destroyed a chicken coop and, unfortunately, its resident chickens, fences, porches, and the interior of the Eureka Pressing Company before getting stuck chest-deep in the swamp near Greenfield Lake.
She would have died there had it not been for the second legendary character: Officer Leon George. Officer George stayed with Topsy for many hours, calling her “Mumsey” and coaxing her out of the muck with apples and peanuts. An exhausted Topsy was finally led back to the circus grounds. There she caught her second wind, escaped again, and dove into the Cape Fear River. This time it took two days for Officer George and his apples, peanuts, and calm demeanor to capture Topsy and help her safely back to the circus train.
As Topsy was led into the train she bowed to the cheering crowd, singling out Officer George with her gaze. Officer Leon “Tiger Hunter” George, as he was now called, was openly weeping.
“We’re all heroes if you catch us at the right moment,” John told us.
But the reverse is also true. A character caught at the wrong moment is just as often the stuff of legend, and many of these characters can be found lurking in other tales from Hirchak’s old Wilmington.
The Federal Point Historic Preservation Society will hold its monthly meeting on Monday, October 19, 7:30 pm at the Federal Point History Center, 1121-A North Lake Park Blvd., adjacent to Carolina Beach Town Hall.
Our speaker this month will be writer John Hirchak, whose two books, Ghosts of Old Wilmington and Legends of Old Wilmington and Cape Fear present stories, legends and tales of our area’s “shadow” past.
Writing with wit and style, John calls upon years of experience as the owner and lead guide for the “Ghost Walk of Old Wilmington” to lead his readers on a journey down back alleys and docksides, stopping at various points along the way to listen to the lingering whispers of generations long-dead.
Hirchak’s experience adds a refreshingly unique twist to his writing. Through his words readers will not only feel the hairs rising on their necks, but can also enjoy a laugh as Hirchak reveals some comical reactions many of his guests have had.
When asked how the Ghost Walk began, John says, “It was the beach that first brought my wife, Kim Hirchak, to Wilmington in 1978. But it was her interest in the paranormal that led her to the banks of the Cape Fear River into the heart of the Historic District.
Since then she has amassed a heap of notes on the various ghosts that haunt the Port City. So in 1996, when she first brought up the idea of starting a Ghost Walk, it seemed like the logical progression to one of her driving passions. Apparently, I responded with an encouraging word.
My function was to do historical research (though I want to stress, I am no historian), to write the scripts and to market the tour. She was to do all the rest. As fate would have it, she broke her leg the first week into the tour, and turned to me. After a day of pleading, she convinced me that after 300 rewrites I knew the material well enough to do the tour and I relented. But only until her bones healed!”
“And so over the years I have become the face of the Ghost Walk of Old Wilmington and the Haunted Pub Crawl. Kim recognized that the day to day tedium of the business better suited my strengths than hers, and that sums up the business acumen of my wife. She knows how to make things work and is willing to give up control to get things done. But in the end, this is her baby! It always has been and always will be.”
“My follow up book, Legends of Old Wilmington & Cape Fear, was published in 2014. The book is a collection of stories from our since retired Unusual Tales of Old Wilmington walking tour, and The Pirates of the Cape Fear tour.”
From the Bill Reaves Files
July 4, 1873
The 4th of July holiday was celebrated by a group of 15 gentlemen who went down the river on the steam tugboat JAMES T. EASTON to Federal Point. They celebrated the 4th by raising a large flag and listening to an oration by A. T. London, Esq. Some of the officers and soldiers from the garrison at Smithville were present and the occasion was hugely enjoyed. While there, the group visited the New Inlet Dam or as we call the Rocks, and inspected them with Henry Nutt, who was chairman in charge of the work. WILM.WEEKLY STAR, 7-11-1873
July 4, 1888
The Fourth of July holiday was celebrated by hundreds of pleasure seekers at Carolina Beach. Throngs of bathers covered the beach in front of the hotel and a few wrestled with the tireless roaring ocean. Some people not caring for surf bathing roamed along the beach gathering shells and bits of seaweed cast up by the waves. Others took a drive in the hack that plied hourly between Battery Gatlin on the north and the storm-beaten blockader wrecks on the south. The drive was refreshing, over a firm, smooth beach, and within the sweep of the surf at times. In the evening there was a grand display of fireworks sent off from the bow of the steamer SYLVAN GROVE under Captain Harper‘s direction. The fireworks continued on the river trip from the beach to Wilmington. WILM.STAR, 7-6-1888; WILM.MESSENGER, 7-6-1888.
July 4, 1891
Everything was perking early making preparations for the crowds of visitors coming to celebrate the Fourth of July. The first arrivals sought the surf at once. There was a good sea and the water was pleasant and beautifully blue.
By noon the beach was crowded. Dancing began early and the ball room at the hotel was soon thronged with merry dancers who kept time to Miller’s Band or listened with delight to their playing. Everywhere at the Beach one would meet members of the Fayetteville colony who had taken up residence at the beach for the season. Visitors at the beach were “free from care, light hearted, in the delightful salt air, one could eat the horns off the brass billy goat.” Joe Hinton, of the Oceanic Hotel, said he believed that all of Wilmington was visiting the Beach and all were hungry. From early dinner until late tea and the last train, there was a great deal of interest in the hotel’s dining room. Soft shell crabs, fish and other delightful food was offered. They gave a good dinner, a fine supper, and pleased all.
Fun was going on all day at Kure’s bowling alley. The place was dressed in flags and banners which made it bright and inviting. The afternoon train brought another 500 visitors. There was plenty of dancing, bathing, fishing and eating. About 1,600 visitors came to the beach and it seemed that one mile of the beach was alive with people and the surf seemed speckled with bathers. The first train home departed at 5:30 p.m., and the last train left at 9 p.m. Carolina Beach closed with increased success and pleasure, another Fourth of July for the Beach. WILM.STAR, 7-7-1891.
The greatest crowd in its history visited Carolina Beach and the day was delightfully spent by the great crowd of pleasure-seekers. The Concordia Castle Knights of Golden Eagle had charge of the holiday excursion and afforded every opportunity for enjoyment. A brass band discoursed music at the Oceanic Hotel and a string band furnished music for dancing at the pavilion. The dancing continued until the last boat left the beach. The target match between teams of the Wilmington Light Infantry and the Naval Reserves attracted great interest. The scores resulted in a tie. WILM.DISPATCH, 7-5-1898.
July 7, 1906.
Justice G. W. Bornemann meted out justice with an impartial hand. The judge is a firm believer in order at our two beaches and says that whenever disturbances are raised at the resorts he intended to deal with them in the severest possible manner. Two men, Will Hudson and ―Bill ― Terry were before the judge charged with an affray at Carolina Beach on July 4th. The fighting began over Hudson cursing at Terry. Terry knocked down Hudson. The judge said Terry was justified in his action as he was not looking for any trouble at the time that he was cursed. Terry still had to pay the costs of court, and Hudson received the severe sentence for his conduct, the judge imposed a fine of $10 and costs, which amounted to $16.45. WILMINGTON DISPATCH, 7-7-1906.
[Text originally published in the June, 1996 – FPHPS Newsletter, Sandy Jackson, editor]
During the Civil War the Confederates built two ironclad steamers at Wilmington — the CSS North Carolina and the CSS Raleigh.
Benjamin Beery and Brothers built the North Carolina at their “Confederate Navy Yard,” or the “Navy Yard” on Eagles Island, across from Wilmington, while J. L. Cassidey and Sons built the Raleigh, at their shipyard at the foot of Church Street in Wilmington.
The Richmond-class ironclad North Carolina, begun in July 1862, remained nameless until October of that year, when S.R. Mallory, secretary of the Confederate States Navy, instructed that the ship be named the North Carolina.
Built for the Confederate government in accordance with the specifications issued by chief naval constructor John L. Porter, the North Carolina was the largest ship built by the Beery brothers. It measured 150 feet in length, 32 feet in beam, had a depth of 14 feet, and only 800 tons burden.
Nearly all of the wood used in the construction of the ship was fresh cut or “green.” The hull was partially constructed of pine, and the upper works of heavy oak. It was stated that the ironclad steamer had a draft of 13 feet – too deep for crossing the bar and was primarily intended for river defense.
The North Carolina was expected to be completed by October or November 1862, but strikes, shortages, and a yellow-fever epidemic postponed the launching of the vessel for several months.
The guns, railroad iron plating, and engines for both ironclads under construction had to be produced at the Confederacy’s only iron rolling mill, the Tredegar Iron Works in Richmond, VA.
Instead of waiting for the engine to be built for the North Carolina, Captain Beery was able to locate an engine from another vessel that could be installed in the ironclad. At the beginning of the war Wilmington seized the tug Uncle Ben and removed the engine. Although the engine from the tug proved inadequate for the larger ironclad, it was better than having to wait for the Tredegar Iron Works to build one.
Nearly complete by the spring of 1863, the North Carolina still lacked guns and what would prove a costly omission – lower-hull copper sheathing. There was very little copper to be found in the whole Confederacy in 1863, and the sheathing had to be omitted from the final plans. The specific armament of the North Carolina has never been determined.
Most Richmond-class ironclads were designed to carry two 7-inch and two 6.4-inch Brooke rifles. Both the bow and stem guns were on pivots, able to turn to either broadside to fire. The other two guns were placed at midships on either side of the vessel. That arrangement gave the Richmond class a three-gun broadside potential. Although the Wilmington ironclads were meant to carry, four guns, they may have carried only three, primarily to conserve weight.
Before the ironclad was finished, the navy loaned to General Whiting at Fort Fisher two Brooke 6.4-inch rifles. When the North Carolina was ready to be launched, General Whiting returned the guns. The third gun was probably a 7-inch Brooke rifle.
The Confederate Navy placed the ironclad steamer North Carolina in commission during the later part of the year with Capt. William T. Muse in command of a complement of 150 men. Unable to cross the bar for ocean duty and subject to breakdowns of its old engine, the North Carolina was involved in little action.
It was moored at Smithville [Southport] as a guard ship for the lower entrance to the Cape Fear River. The ironclad spent most of its entire career at Smithville, where it was subject to progressive deterioration below the waterline from teredo worms because of its lack of sheathing.
Lieutenant William B. Cushing of the US. Navy stated in June 1864 that the ironclad “is but little relied upon, and would not stand long against a monitor.” In April Capt. William Maury temporarily replaced Capt. William Muse, who had been overcome by typhoid fever.
When Captain Maury was then stricken with “acute Rheumatism,” Capt. John Pembroke Jones became the final commander of the North Carolina. Jones spent the majority of his time overseeing the “fitting out of a blockade runner” in Wilmington, and the ironclad North Carolina quickly deteriorated during the absence of its captain.
Finally, in September a 1864, the North Carolina sprang a leak while anchored in the river.
Reportedly the Confederates abandoned the ironclad next to Battery Island. In a letter to his sister, Assistant Third Engineer Charles Peek stationed at Smithville wrote: “The old North Carolina is no more. She [is] full of water before I left. The men are now employed taking the iron from her.”
A year after the sinking of the ironclad, Stephen Bartlett, a US. surgeon stationed aboard a ship at Southport, wrote home to his brother about visiting the partially submerged wreck: “Tell Walter I fish from the Rebel iron clad N Carolina which is sunk near us but most of the decks are out of water”.
In the spring of 1868 the Navy Department contracted for the removal of the remaining iron plating from the North Carolina; In late June “some fifty tons of iron, stripped from the ram North Carolina,” was sold at public auction for 2 1/8 cents per pound. Three years later the wooden remains of the old ram North Carolina were intentionally burnt to the water’s edge.
During late 1863, the Confederates laid down the second ironclad, the steam-powered ram Raleigh at the wharf near the foot of Church Street in Wilmington at the J.L. Cassidey & Sons Shipyard.
That Richmond-class ironclad, built to John L. Porter’s plans, was similar to those of the CSS North Carolina, and 150 feet in length stempost to sternpost and 172 feet overall, with a 32-foot beam and a draft of 12 feet.
Two thicknesses of iron plating, or casemate, covered a heavily constructed wooden hull, and formed a ram at the how. The Confederate Navy commissioned the ironclad Raleigh on April 3, 1864, under Lt. John Wilkinson, and shortly thereafter placed it under the command of Lt. J. Pembroke Jones.
The vessel’s compliment numbered 188, and her armament consisted of four 6-inch rifled cannons. The engine for the ironclad may have been removed from the wreck of the blockade-runner Modern Greece, while another source claims the engine was new from Richmond.
On the evening of May 6, 1864, the ironclad left Wilmington and steamed toward the bar at New Inlet accompanied by the wooden steamers CSS Yadkin and CSS Equator, to engage six vessels of the Union blockading fleet.
With the smaller steamers under the protection of the guns of Fort Fisher, the Raleigh was successful in briefly breaking the blockade that evening, allowing a blockade-runner to escape.
Fighting resumed the following morning and by 7:00 AM. the Confederates broke the action.
While attempting to cross back over the bar at the inlet, the Raleigh grounded, “breaking her back” on what was known as New Inlet rip, a narrow and shifting sand strip.
Charles Peek, when assigned to the other ironclad, the North Carolina, then stationed at Smithville, commented in a letter to his sister that “the weight of the iron upon her shield just crushed her decks in.”
By the following morning the water had reached the Raleigh’s gun decks. The severely damaged vessel was salvaged of her guns and abandoned.
The wreck of the Raleigh posed a navigation hazard for several years. In June 1864 James Randall, a young clerk in Wilmington, wrote to his friend Kate returning from a river trip to Smithville. In his letter he noted his sighting of the remains of the ironclad Raleigh “just a few yards from the channel.”
Randall described the condition of the wreck and salvage work in progress: “She was very much sunken at the stern, lifting her bow considerably. Her sides had been stripped of their armor, the smokestack prostrate, and altogether she had the appearance of a monstrous turtle stranded and forlorn. As we passed, the divers were engaged in removing her boilers and machinery”.
Contemporary accounts reported that the “guns, equipment, iron, etc.,” were “being saved.” The salvors, unable to refloat the ironclad, removed the two boilers and destroyed the vessel. The navy sent the boilers to Columbus, Georgia to be used in the steamer Chattahoochee.
In July Capt. William Cushing reported, visiting the site of the wrecked Raleigh, that nothing of the vessel remained above water.
The wreck was indicated on navigation charts of New Inlet for many years. In April 1868, the schooner L. Waring, laden with 3,000 bushels of corn, ran upon the sunken ironclad while passing through New Inlet. The ship’s crew made efforts the following day to lighten the schooner and save her from sinking. By late May 1868 the schooner had been raised and repaired at the Cassidey Brothers shipyard .
The Raleigh was partially salvaged again in 1881. A Wilmington newspaper provided the following account of that operation: “Mr. Horton, was cruising in that neighborhood [the rip off New Inlet] a day or two since, when they came across some obstacle on the bottom, whereupon Capt. Loring, an experienced submarine diver, donned his suit and went down, placing two kegs of gun powder in the midst of the obstruction and setting it off.
The result enabled him to ascertain that it was the wreck of a vessel, and he next placed a thirty-five pound package of powder under the wreck and blew it apart, when a portion of the sunken gunboat, which proved to be the front of the turret [casemate], was brought to the surface, hitched on to the schooner and brought to this port, where it was dropped on the railway at Capt. Skinner’s yard and hauled up out of the water.
June 1996 Newsletter (pdf) – Federal Point Historic Preservation Society
What’s the story on the Confederate Shipyard on Eagles Island?
Ben Steelman – MyReporter.com
Bennett L. Steelman – NCpedia.com
Beery’s Shipyard Marker – photo
The Historical Marker Database
Shipbuilding along the Cape Fear River – FPHPS article
[Editor: Claude V. (Sandy) Jackson III in his book, ‘The Big Book of the Cape Fear River‘ (p 250-252) details Wilmington’s Beery and Cassidey shipyards work on the CSS North Carolina and the CSS Raleigh.]
1959 “Blockade Busters That Failed.” The State 27, no. 15 (December 26, 1959): 9-12.
Murray, Paul and Stephen Russel Bartlett, Jr.
1956 “The Letters of Stephen Chaulker Bartlett Aboard U.S.S. Lenapee, January to August 1865.” The North Carolina Historical Review 33, no. 1 (January): 66-92.
Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion (ORN). Series I and II. Washington: Government Printing Office.
Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies in the War of the Rebellion (ORA). Washington: Government Printing Office.
Peek, Charles Smith.
“Letters and Papers of Charles Smith Peek, Acting Third Assistant Engineer”, CSS North Carolina. Typed transcripts in the possession of Dr. Charles Perry, Charleston, South Carolina.
Shomette, Donald G.
1973 “Shipwrecks of the Civil War“. Washington DC: Donic Ltd.
Williams, Isabel M. and Leora H. McEachern.
1978 “River Excursions 1864.” Lower Cape Fear Historical Society, Inc. Bulletin 21, no. 3 (May)
Wilmington Daily Journal (Wilmington, NC.) 1864 (Bill Reaves Historic Newspaper Collection).
Wilmington Dispatch (Wilmington, N.C.) 1919 (Bill Reaves Historic Newspaper Collection).
Wilmington Star (Wilmington, NC.) 1868, 1871, 1881
The Federal Point Historic Preservation Society will hold its monthly meeting on Monday, January 19, 7:30 pm at the Federal Point History Center, 1121-A North Lake Park Blvd., adjacent to Carolina Beach Town Hall.
This month’s speakers are business partners Beverly Tetterton and Dan Camacho who are publishers of a series of “apps” for smart phones and tablets focusing on the history of Wilmington. The wihi app uses your device’s GPS map to lead you down beautiful tree-lined streets to our many rich historic sites. At each stop you listen to a 3-5 minute history and scroll through fascinating historic pics. Begin when you want. Walk at your own pace. Take a break with a cool drink. Even continue tomorrow if you want. It’s easy!
A longtime friend of the Society, Beverly Tetterton was a research librarian in the North Carolina Room at the New Hanover County Public Library for 31 years. She was a pioneer in digital archives, creating the first in North Carolina. She went on to create numerous digital archive collections which include thousands of historic photographs of the Cape Fear Region. In 2001, the Raleigh News & Observer named her Tar Heel of the Week. She and her husband Glenn live in a 100 + year old house in Wilmington’s historic district.
Dan Camacho has an MBA from Northwestern, an MFA in Creative Writing from UNC Wilmington, and has worked at Hewlett Packard, amazon.com, amazon.co.uk, amazon.de, and amazon.fr. He has not received nearly as many awards as Beverly, but he does live in an older house (160+ years) with his wife Lori and two children.
Watch Beverly & Dan talk about starting Wilmington History Tours: http://youtu.be/QKjVL0-U8tg
For more information about their products visit: http://www.wihi.info/