Browsing "Southern Heroism"
Aug 10, 2016 - Southern Heroism, Southern Patriots    Comments Off on Two Hundred-Fifty Half-Starved North Carolinians

Two Hundred-Fifty Half-Starved North Carolinians

The war nearly over in early April 1865 and Southern regiments vastly outnumbered and starving, the defense of Fort Gregg by the decimated Thirty-seventh North Carolina demonstrated the resolve to continue the struggle for independence. Like the earlier heroic defense of Fort McAllister in Georgia, Fort Gregg can be easily compared to the embattled Texians at the Alamo.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Two Hundred-Fifty Half-Starved North Carolina Heroes

“The Federal infantry soon came into sight. One Mississippian later wrote: “Ah, what a contrast, what a soul-sickening spectacle to behold. 25,000 men, flushed with recent victory, to be hurled against 250 . . . half-starved heroes, whose hearts of steel [quailed] not even at such fearful odds.”

“About ten o’clock the enemy commenced charging with four or five lines,” Lieutenant [Dallas M.] Rigler [of Mecklenburg County] would write a few years after the war. “We did not fire until they were within forty yards, and then gave them one volley; they wavered, and then the first line gave way; the second came forward, and came within thirty yards of the fort. We yelled and fired – they stood a few seconds and then broke. The third retreated also, but the fourth and fifth came to the ditch around the fort.

While this fighting was in the front, one line came in the rear and almost got inside the fort through the door. About twenty men charged them, drove them back. About eleven o’clock they scaled the walls of the fort, and for several minutes we had a hand to hand fight. We used the bayonet, and killed almost all of them that came on top.”

Private [Angelum M.] Garrison [of Mecklenburg County] chronicled: “A man of Company D, of our regiment, volunteered to shoot while three of us loaded, and we did the best that was possible. This soldier of Company D took good aim, and I think he must have killed or wounded scores of the enemy.”

Twenty-year old Lieutenant [Dallas M.] Rigler would conclude his story of the defense of the fort:

“About half-past eleven they attempted to scale the walls again. We met them with the bayonets, and for several minutes it was the most desperate struggle I ever witnessed; but it did not last long. Soon they were all killed or knocked back, and then a deafening shout [arose] from our boys. [But] by this time the ammunition was almost out, and our men threw bats and rocks at them in the ditch. No ammunition would we get, and after a short struggle, they took the fort, and some few did fire on us after they got possession, but their officers tried to stop them.”

General [Cadmus] Wilcox would add this, viewing things from outside the fort while in the Confederate lines: “As they [Federals] appeared at this point [Fort Gregg], they were either shot or thrust off with the bayonet . . . Again and again this was done. At length numbers prevailed, and the parapet of the little work was thickly covered with men, six [Northern regimental] flags seen on it at one time; and from this dense mass a close, and of necessity destructive fire, was poured down upon the devoted band within.”

(The Thirty-seventh North Carolina Troops, Tar Heels in the Army of Northern Virginia, Michael C. Hardy, McFarland & Company, 2003, pp. 228-229)

 

Aug 7, 2016 - America Transformed, Southern Culture Laid Bare, Southern Heroism, Targeting Civilians    Comments Off on Two of Seven Wounds

Two of Seven Wounds

British traveler and Scottish missionary David MacRae (1837-1907) toured the American South in 1867-68 to survey the postwar desolation and poverty. His most noteworthy meetings were with General Robert E. Lee and Admiral Raphael Semmes, being struck by the former’s “unconscious Christian character revealing itself almost unconsciously in his manners and conversation.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Two of Seven Wounds

“I was struck with the remark made by a Southern gentleman in answer to the assertion that Jefferson Davis had culpably continued the war for six months after all hope had been abandoned.

“Sir,” he said, “Mr. Davis knew the temper of the South as well as any man in it. He knew if there was to be anything worth calling peace, the South must win; or, if she couldn’t win, she wanted to be whipped – well whipped – thoroughly whipped.”

The further South I went, the oftener these remarks came back upon me. Evidence was everywhere that the South had maintained the desperate conflict until she was utterly exhausted. At its outbreak she had poured her best men into the field. Almost every man I met at the South, and especially in North Carolina, Georgia and Virginia, seemed to have been in the army; and it was painful to find how many even of those who had returned were mutilated, maimed or broken in health by exposure.

When I remarked this to a young Confederate officer in North Carolina, and said that I was glad to see that he had escaped unhurt, he said, “Wait ‘til we get to the office, sir, and I will tell you more about that.”

When we got there, he pulled up one leg of his trousers, and showed me that he had an iron rod there to strengthen his limb, and enable him to walk without limping, half of his foot being off. He showed me on the other leg a deep scar made by the fragment of a shell; and these were but two of seven wounds which had left their marks upon his body. When he heard me speak of relics, he said, “Try to find a North Carolina gentleman without a Yankee mark on him”

In Mobile I met a brave little Southern girl who had gone barefooted the last year of the war, that the money intended for her shoes might go to the poor soldier. When medicines could no longer be sucked into the South through the rigorous blockade, the Confederate Government called upon the women and children, who went into the woods and swamps and gathered horehound, boneset, wild cherry bark, dogwood, and everything that could help supply the want. When there was a danger of any place falling into the hands of the enemy, the people with unflinching hand, dragged out their last stores of cotton, tobacco, and turpentine, and consigned them to the flames. The people said, “we did it all, thinking the South would win . . .”

(Exhaustion of the South, David MacRae, America Through British Eyes, Allan Nevins, editor, Oxford University Press, 1948, pp. 345-346)

Aug 7, 2016 - Antebellum Realities, Southern Heroism    Comments Off on Unable to Take Richmond

Unable to Take Richmond

General Winfield S. Scott commanded the United States forces which captured Mexico City in mid-September, 1847. His junior officers included Joseph E. Johnston, Robert E. Lee, P.G.T. Beauregard, John A. Quitman, John B. Magruder and E. Kirby Smith.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Unable to Take Richmond

“Abraham Lincoln once asked General Scott the question:

“Why is it that you were once able to take the City of Mexico in three months with five thousand men, and we have been unable to take Richmond with one hundred thousand men?

“I will tell you,” said General Scott. “The men who took us into the City of Mexico are the same men who are keeping us out of Richmond.”

(Confederate Veteran Magazine, September 1913, page 471)

Universal Mourning in the South

With their men away at war, American women in the South did the farm work, raised children alone, and prayed their husbands, fathers, brothers, sons, and uncles would return home alive. Lincoln’s war upon the South cost the lives of some 260,000 Southern men.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Universal Mourning in the South

“Cornelia Phillips Spencer was married six years before becoming a widow at age thirty-six. Her journal read: “May, 1862, My hearing is going, and with it youth, hope, and love. There remains for me nothing but to sit at home and remember.” Commentating on Spencer’s diary, author Wright described the “universal mourning” in the South had made her own loss seem less burdensome because at least her husband had not died “horribly in battle, or lain lingering and mutilated in hospitals.”

Another diarist, Sarah E. Mercer, recorded that her brother Oliver (called Buddy), had to return to camp even though he was not well. She said, “Tears are such a solace . . .” In less than three weeks, he would be among the dead at Gettysburg.

“I cannot look to the future, it is too dark. All is dark, dark, dark. The fate of our country is in a thick mist, too dark and thick to see through.” Still grieving, Mercer three days later declared, “Pity that the politicians were not obliged to do all the fighting themselves. Me thinks there would be considerably less blood shed . . .” Major Brooks visited the family and gave them the contents of Buddy’s pockets. Mercer said, “We can have no hopes of ever getting is dear remains, as they were left on Yankee soil. We do not even know if he was buried.”

Elizabeth Robeson had several sons in service. A religious woman, she questioned her faith as did other women. Entries in her diary are as follows:

“May 18th – but all God does is right, though he moves in a mysterious way. He takes the young and leaves the aged for some wise purpose, but we shortsighted mortals cannot see it.”

“Jun 1, 1862 – Mr. W. Cain came in and said that he heard our boys (Bladen Guards) were in the battle and were cut to pieces. Many a better woman than I am has been bereaved of their only child, but I feel as if I could not bear up under it.”

Henry Fuller was wounded in June of 1862 at Seven Pines, Virginia. His wife Ann “went to Richmond in search of him but was unable to find even an ambulance driver, since it was almost impossible to keep up with the troops. She did find the man who placed him in the ambulance and was told that he was seriously wounded with a Minnie ball through his head. After several days of fruitless inquiry, she was forced to return home empty handed and the fate of her husband was never known.”

Fuller remained on the farm and raised her three children. Foraging Union troops took everything on the place at the close of the war. “

(Blood and War at My Doorstep, North Carolinians in the War Between the States, Volume II, Brenda McKean, Xlibris, pp. 640-641)

Jun 16, 2016 - Bounties for Patriots, Lincoln's Grand Army, Lincoln's Hessians, Lincoln's Patriots, Southern Heroism    Comments Off on Victims of the Confederate Fury

Victims of the Confederate Fury

Lincoln’s Grand Army of the Republic was superbly equipped, well-fed and well-paid, with most receiving bounties from the home towns, State’s and the federal government. They faced a varied collection of barefoot, undernourished American farmers armed mostly with captured muskets and equipment; or what slipped past the blockade. Even as late as March 1865 entire Northern regiments were being captured by Southern forces.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Victims of the Confederate Fury

“The Federal fatalities during the entire war were 359,528 men. Of this number, 110,070 were killed in battle or died of wounds; 249,458 died of disease or accident . . . Over 250,000 men were discharged for disabilities arising from wounds or disease rendering them unfit for service. Losses in the main battles of the Civil War ran high.

A comparison of the casualties at Gettysburg with those sustained in some of the European conflicts might prove illuminating. The Third Westphalia Regiment lost at Marc La Tour 49.4 per cent killed and wounded; the Garde-Schutze Regiment lost at Metz 46.1 per cent; the Light Brigade lost at Balaklava 36.7 per cent.

These battles probably recorded the greatest losses in single engagements up to the time of the Civil War; yet it has been asserted “without fear of contradiction” that in the Union army at least 63 regiments lost more than 50 per cent in killed and wounded in single engagements.

At least 23 regiments lost more than one half in killed and wounded in the three bloody days of Gettysburg. Native regiments made splendid records there — and paid for it, the Iron Brigade losing almost exactly 50 per cent of its number — but so did units of foreign-born, notably some Pennsylvania regiments.

The Fifth New York, Duryee’s Zouaves, in which there were many foreigners, lost in the Second Battle of Bull Run [Manassas] over 60 per cent in killed and wounded, with none missing; the regiments went into battle with 490 men, but in less than ten minutes nearly 150 lay dead or mortally wounded. Though almost annihilated, it retired slowly, carrying off with it the flags and some of the wounded.

The ultimate of sacrifice was probably sustained by the Irish Brigade when it was hurled by General Pope against Marye’s Heights in December 1862, in a useless massacre. It may be said that the Brigade virtually ceased to exist, with an average loss in casualties per regiment of almost 41 per cent. Seven thousand men in all were entered on the rolls of the Brigade; less than 1,000 returned to New York.”

(Foreigners in the Union Army and Navy, Ella Lonn, LSU Press, 1951, pp. 480-482)

The War of Conquest

The War of Conquest

“The only proper title of our war is “the war of conquest.” I always speak of it so. To call it a civil war is to acknowledge that the States, which are now merely counties of a government at Washington, were not the sovereignties they were until 1865.

Then we had a “Union” based on “the consent of the governed”; now we have a “nation,” founded on force like the monarchies of Europe. “Civil war,” therefore, does not express the truth. If England and France go to war . . . would it be called a “civil war?” Nor the war between the sovereign States of the North against the Confederate States.

Neither let us speak of the “Union troops” and the “ex-Confederates.” Are we not now just as much Confederate as ever? I don’t like the “ex.” “X” is an unknown quantity; and the world knows our quality and found out how small was our quantity when it was discovered that with only six hundred thousand men, all told, we kept out of Richmond for four years twenty-five hundred thousand men of the other nation. Let our war be known as what it was in reality, the “war of conquest.”

(Rev. P.G. Robert, Chaplain, Thirty-fourth Virginia Infantry, Confederate Veteran, November, 1898, page 520)

Why the Museum of the Confederacy Exists

The documents and presentations at the time the Museum of the Confederacy was created in Richmond clearly define why it exists and in whose memory it is dedicated. The clear intent was that “their immortal deeds and the evidences of their achievements will be preserved in the old home of the President of the Confederacy, where they will remain throughout generations and for all time.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Why the Museum of the Confederacy Exists

“The Davis Mansion Formally Thrown Open for the Reception of Relics

THE BATTLE ABBEY OF THE CONFEDERATE STATES

An Institution to Preserve the Record of the Deeds of Our Soldiers

The dawn of February 22, 1896 was auspicious — assuredly, in the historic city of Richmond. Old Sol rose in all the vaunted splendor of Italy’s skies. All nature was calm and serene. Who will say that it was not the approving smile of the Lord of hosts upon the truly reverential efforts of our most excellent women in the perpetuation of the truth–the treasuring of evidence and of memorials of the righteousness of the grandest struggle for constitutional right which has ever impressed the page of history?

A representative building of the period in Richmond, the most happy probably in the exemplification of intellectual worth, of social grace and substantial comfort, was the residence of the Chief Magistrate of the Confederate States, whilst they blazed into undying glory. This memorable edifice, the patient, devoted women of Richmond undertook to restore enduringly to its original conditions of form, with the sacred purpose of dedicating it to the preservation of the materials of history and hallowed memorials of Southern heroism and sacrifice.

The natal day of Washington was happily chosen for the opening of the building as the Confederate Museum, and to commemorate the formation of an institution for the preservation of the records of glorious deeds of the Southern sons who went forth to battle in defense of honor, truth and home; and the foundation of a permanent repository for the relics of the war between the States.

The former home of Jefferson Davis, the President of the Confederate States, is a most appropriate place for the location of the Confederate Museum. Situated in the very heart of the capital of the Confederacy, the institution is where it will inspire the pride and interest of every Southern man, woman and child, and will be accorded the loving and tender watchfulness of a fond and patriotic people.

When the City Council gave the Jefferson Davis Mansion to the Confederate Memorial Literary Society for a museum, that organization undertook a high and noble work, the consummation of which on yesterday was a brilliant climax to five years of undaunted energy expended in getting the building into proper condition for the change from a public school-house to a place for the reception of Confederate relics and records. The ladies of the Society have done their work well. The old soldiers may pass away, but their immortal deeds and the evidences of their achievements will be preserved in the old home of the President of the Confederacy, where they will remain throughout generations and for all time.

Virginia Governor O’Ferrall: 

“I think I can say boldly that the bloody strife of 1861 to 1865 developed in the men of the South traits of character as ennobling and as exalting as ever adorned men since the day-dawn of creation. I think I can proclaim confidently that for courage and daring chivalry and bravery, the world has never seen the superiors of the Southern soldiers. I think I can proclaim triumphantly that, from the South’s beloved President, and the peerless commander of her armies in the field, down to the private in her ranks, there was a display of patriotism perhaps unequalled (certainly never surpassed) since this passion was implanted in the human breast.”

General [Bradley T.] Johnson’s Address:

“To-day commemorates the thirty-fifth anniversary of the inauguration of the last rebel President and the birthday of the first. It commemorates an epoch in the grandest struggle for liberty and right that has ever been made by man. It celebrates the baptism of a new nation born thirty-five years ago to-day. I believe our first and most sacred duty is to our holy dead, to ourselves, and to our posterity.

It is our highest obligation to satisfy the world of the righteousness of our cause and the sound judgment with which we defended it. And we injure ourselves, we impair the moral of our side by incessant protestations of our loyalty to the victor and continuous assertions of respect for his motives of forgiveness, for his conduct, and of belief in the nobility of his faith.

There never can be two rights, nor two wrongs — one side must be right, and therefore, the other is, of course, wrong. This is so of every question of morals and of conduct, and it must be pre-eminently so of a question which divided millions of people, and which cost a million of lives. The world is surely coming to the conclusion that the cause of the Confederacy was right. Every lover of liberty, constitutional liberty, controlled by law, all over the world begins to understand that the past was not a war waged by the South in defense of slavery, but was a war to protect liberty, won and bequeathed by free ancestors.

Virginia never seceded from the Union. She resisted invasion of rights, as her free ancestors for 800 years had done with arms and force. Before the ordinance of secession was voted on, Virginia was at war with the Northern States, and all legal connection had been broken with them by their own act in the unlawful invasion of her soil. It is this constant and growing consciousness of the nobleness and justice and chivalry of the Confederate cause which constitutes the success and illuminates the triumph we commemorate to-day. Evil dies; good lives; and the time will come when all the world will realize that the failure of the Confederacy was a great misfortune to humanity, and will be the source of unnumbered woes to liberty.

There were more rebel brigadiers killed in battle for the Confederacy than in any war that was ever fought. When such men and women have lived such lives, and died such deaths in such a cause, their memories will outlast time. Martyrs must be glorified, and when the world knows and posterity appreciates that the war was fought for the preservation and perpetuation of free government, of government by the people, for the people, and to resist government by force against the will of the people, then the Confederacy will be revered like the memories of Leonidas at Thermopylae, and Kosciusco and Kossuth, and all the glorious armies of martyrs.

Our memorial will be here in Richmond . . . it is a memorial of no “Lost Cause.” [We] were right, immortally right, and [the] conqueror was wrong, eternally wrong. The great army of the dead are here, the sentiment of the living is here, the memories of the past are here, the monuments of the future will be here. The memorial of the Confederacy is here, not built by hands — made by memory and devotion! What else could it be?”

(Excerpted from the Southern Historical Society Papers, Dedication of the South’s Museum, Volume XXIII, R. A. Brock, Editor, 1896, pp. 354-372)

 

The Pens of Our Adversaries

Colonel William Allan spoke of the danger of not writing the history of your people and inculcating this in the hearts and minds of the young. He warned that the South should not allow their late enemies to take up the pen.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

The Pens of Our Adversaries

“Mr. President:

The work done by the Southern Historical Society has been most important and valuable. For years it testified to the truth amid the prejudice and vituperation which was the lot of the Confederate cause. An immense change in recent years has taken place in the estimates made in Europe, as well as the North itself, in regard to our war. But its work is not yet done. It has really only been begun.

However gratifying the change which has been brought about in Northern sentiment in regards to the events of the war, we must not, we should not, allow the history of our side in this great struggle to be written by those who fought against us.

Future generations should not learn of the motives, the sacrifices, the aims, the deeds of our Southern people, nor of the characters of their illustrious leaders only through the pens of our adversaries. What have not Carthage and Hannibal lost in the portraits — the only ones that remain to us — drawn by Roman historians?

Not one word have I to say in criticism of monuments placed to commemorate the brave deeds of the Union soldiers who died on that [Manassas] field; but if these men be worthy of such honor from their comrades, how much more do we owe to the men who twice won victory at the price of blood on this spot; or to those noble South Carolinians under Gregg, who, on the left of A.P. Hill, on August 29, 1862, held their position with a tenacity not exceeded by the British squares at Waterloo . . .?

The deeds of such men and of many others like them deserve to be kept green for all time. They constitute a priceless legacy to their countrymen — to their descendants.”

(Remarks of Colonel William Allan of Maryland at the Annual Meeting of the Southern Historical Society, 31 October, 1883, Gen. J. A. Early, President)

 

You Called These Men to the Colors

Thomas Dixon is less known for his time spent in the North Carolina Legislature, and far better known for his books “The Leopard Spots” and “The Clansman,” and also his silent movie “Birth of a Nation.” Below, Dixon appeals to his progressive fellow legislators to not forget those crippled patriots they had earlier called to defend the State.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

You Called These Men to the Colors

“Early in the [North Carolina legislative] session I met Walter Hines Page, reporting for his Daily Chronicle. He asked me to drop into his office and see him often. I did, and we formed a friendship which lasted through life.

The big occasion on which I decided to deliver my maiden speech was my report from the Finance Committee (Way and Means) of the bill to pension the poor disabled soldiers of the State who had fought in the Confederate army. The first measure to pension Confederate soldiers any man had dared to introduce into a Southern legislature. The discussion of the bill by the press during the hearings had stirred the State. When I spoke to a crowded House and packed galleries I was in dead earnest, never more so in life. I read the speech today, fifty years later, with a sense of satisfaction.

“I am aware, gentlemen of the House, that this bill, small as the pittance given by it to our crippled veterans, means in the long run at least a million dollars in taxes to be borne by our people. I am aware that a new spirit is abroad in the Old Commonwealth. Progress is the watchword of the hour. We have started an industrial expansion after twenty years of struggle against starvation. We must and will give the full force of our energy to this development.

But while we are on the road to prosperity, I must ask you to remember that back in the rear of your marching people, amid the dirt and dust and misery of the direst poverty there comes painfully struggling along, a band of your wounded comrades, forgotten in their distress.

I am talking now to the sovereign State of North Carolina in its representative body assembled. You called these men to the colors. They answered as citizens of the State, not as delegates of the Confederate Government. They fought as citizens of North Carolina. Their bodies are mangled today because you sent them to the front. I speak in the name of humanity whose cries have been neglected until they echo at God’s bar crying for justice against you and me. And if there be a God — which none of you doubt — you will hear these cries before you enter the prosperity toward which you now so eagerly look.

Remember, gentlemen, that these crippled soldiers marched under the same blue flag of your State whose silken folds now flash above your council chambers. On a hundred fields of blood they bared their breasts until a bullet came that sent them to a surgeon’s tent. Some of you who hear me in this House limp across its floor on one leg. You remember the scene. The blockade had closed our drug stores. There was no chloroform or ether.

In trembling, piteous tones you heard them begging the young surgeon for God’s sake to spare their limbs. Heard until sick at heart you closed your ears with hands pressed tightly against them. The knife severs the flesh while the victim screams, the arteries are tied, the saw grates through the bone, it’s over, and a wretch is carried out, hope and spirit broken, the light of the world gone out. [These men] in the morning of life, in the glory of [their] youth, stood shoulder to shoulder with your heroic dead who charged over our historic fields and made records of your army immortal.

On May 10th, we cover the graves of our dead with flowers. A pious beautiful ceremony. Let it never be forgotten. Should we forget their mangled comrades who in bitterness of soul have cursed God and envied the lot of those who sleep in peace beneath your tears and flowers?

(Southern Horizons, Autobiography of Thomas Dixon, IWV Publishing, 1984, pp. 177-179)

Young Purser Hoist the Rebel Colors

Born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1846, well-known Wilmingtonian businessman, author and philanthropist James Sprunt was a young seventeen year-old who took to sea aboard blockade runners. A successful cotton merchant after the war, he also held the position of British vice consul German consul, Chairman of the Board of Commissioners of Navigation and Pilotage, and President of: the Seamen’s Friend Society, State Literary and Historical Association of North Carolina, North Carolina Folk Lore Society – and was a Trustee of the University of North Carolina. His most famous work is entitled “Chronicles of the Cape Fear, published in 1914.

When asked on one occasion what suggestion from his experience in life he would offer the young, he replied, “Unswerving integrity, sobriety, perseverance, out-of-door exercise, and faith in the goodness of God.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Young Purser Hoists the Rebel Colors

“He came to manhood in a troubled time. The War Between the States had begun. The Federal Government proclaimed a blockade of Southern ports. The natural advantages of Wilmington made it an ideal port for blockade runners, as there were two entrances to the river and as the slope of the beach for miles is very gradual to deep water. Therefore, a light draft steamer, hard pressed by the enemy, could run along the outer edge of the breakers without great risk of grounding, whereas the pursuer, being usually of deeper draft, was obliged to keep farther off shore.

In the third year of the War at age seventeen, he took passage on a blockade runner to Bermuda with the promise of a position on the North Heath, a vessel then building on the Clyde. When she arrived at Bermuda, Captain Burroughs, her commander, who had successfully run the blockade twelve times . . . [on the] Cornubia, appointed him purser of the North Heath.

But shortly after sailing from St. George, Bermuda, bound for Wilmington, they ran into a hurricane and for two days and nights were in imminent danger of their lives. For an entire night she wallowed like a log in a trough of mountainous waves . . . the water had risen in her hold until every one of the fourteen furnaces was extinguished. Eventually the captain…got the ship under control and she was put about and headed back to Bermuda for repairs. A little later . . . he was appointed purser of the steamer Lilian [under Captain John Newland Maffitt], and on this vessel he passed through all the dangers and exciting experiences of a daring blockade runner.

[The USS Shenandoah] log of Saturday, July 30, 1864, off Cape Lookout says: “At 3:45PM sighted a steamer burning black smoke to the eastward; made all sail in chase. At 5:45PM he showed rebel colors . . . [and] began to fire at him with the 30 and 150 pounder rifle Parrott . . . at 8PM stopped firing, gave up the chase, stopped engines.”

Of this Dr. Sprunt wrote half a century afterwards: “. . . it was I who hoisted those “rebel” colors on that eventful day fifty-five years ago: and thereby hangs the tale.” Then follows the blood-stirring story of the Lilian, loaded to the hatch combings with gunpowder for Lee’s army; of her hundred-mile chase and bombardment by the Shenandoah, of the “fearful accuracy” of the cruiser’s gunnery . . . the young purser’s sensations as the hurtling shells passed only a few feet from his head . . . the bursting of one of her boilers, reducing her to a desperate condition, of her wonderful escape after nightfall . . . and on the following morning, though badly crippled, passed through the Federal fleet off Fort Fisher under furious fire from the whole squadron and steamed into Wilmington with her cargo of powder.”

On the third outward voyage the Lilian was chased and bombarded for five hours by five Federal cruisers, disabled by a shot below the water line and captured, and James Sprunt, sharing the fate of his associates, became a prisoner of war (August 24, 1864) and was confined for some time in a casemate of Fort Macon.

In company with Pilot “Jim Billy” Craig, afterwards well-known as the Reverend J.W. Craig, an honored minister of the Methodist Church, he escaped from prison and they made their way to Halifax, Nova Scotia. His last service afloat in the War was as purser of the Confederate steamer Susan Beirne, of which Eugene Maffitt [son of Captain John Newland Maffitt] was chief officer, and he continued on this blockade runner until the fall of Fort Fisher.”

(James Sprunt, A Tribute from the City of Wilmington, Edwards & Broughton, 1925, pp. 12-18)