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A brush with Yankee Gunboats

On last Thursday, quite a spirited little brush came off between a small detatchment of our troops, and some yankee gunboats which attempted to go up the Scuppernong river, in which the Yankees came out second best. On attempting to ascend the river, two boats were attacked and forced back by Lt. Sharpe, commanding Capt. Pitt’s company of cavalry, assisted by two pieces of artillery under Lt. Williams, of Lee’s Light Battery, and by Lt. McWatson of the 50th NC with thirty infantry.

One of the boats got aground about 700 yards from the shore, at the mouth of the river, where she was well peppered, for some time, by both our artillery and sharpshooters, one shot striking her near the waterline. So hot was the fire upon this craft, that the Yankees were all driven from their guns. Three more gunboats at length came up to their relief and opened fiercely on our little party, who courageously held their ground and fought them till the approach of night and scarcity of ammunition admonished them to retire beyond the range of the enemy’s guns.

We had three men slightly wounded and our howitzer was somewhat damaged by a shell. The enemy’s loss has not been ascertained but it must have been considerable, as their wooden gunboat was aground and under the fire of our artillery for some three hours, and it was well ascertained that every man had to seek shelter below from the deadly aim of our sharpshooters.

 

Source: Fayetteville Observer, October 10, 1864 as found on www.ncecho.org.

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Ft. Holmes

Octo 6th 1864

Dear Wife

As Lt Luten is to start for his home this morning I cannot let the opportunity pass of writing you a letter altho I have written but a few days ago by Burt Jones. I am in good health and spirits and have not many sick in my company now and what are sick are not dangerously so. I am getting along quite well as yet for something to eat as the provisions that Macon Harrison and I bought is not gone yet, but I can assure you the times are hard here for those that cant get something from home. We cannot make a 1/3 of a pound of Nassau pork last do the best we can and now the Genl has prohibited our going sticking with a light at night so you see one of my best sources of supply is cut off as Mars cant go sticking. Nevertheless we shant starve as the creeks are full of oysters and we can catch a few fish at odd chances. There is some news now from our armies. We had a fith a week ago at Petersburgh and lost some of our works but killed and captured over 5000 of the enemy and lost 5 to 700 on our side. Hood has got in the rear of Sherman in Georgia and it is said he will be forced to fight nim now and our people think that we will give the old devil a thrashing this time and no mistake. Genl Beauregard has been taken from us and put in command of all the SW to the Mississippi river and is now aiding Hood in Georgia. He is on our side and Hood on the other of Sherman. The Yankees are making superhuman efforts to capture Richmond before the election as that will insure Lincoln’s election by a big majority. God grant us the victory. Our two inlets are almost hermectically sealed now and not a single vessel has come in or gone out this month I believe. One attempted to come in at Fisher on last Saturday night and was chased and fired into so that they had to beach her to keep her from sinking. In the hurry of getting to the coasts the crew upset one that Mrs. Rose Greenhow was in and she got drowned. Her body was found next day and she had on her person 4000 dollars in gold. She was a woman of a good deal of notoriety in our cause and had been in prison in Washington City a long time. There are eleven blockaders off our bar and fourteen off Fisher.  This morning the government has advertised some cloth for the officers of this command and I have written up to secure enough for a suit of clothes and if I get it I will write you and the first opportunity you can get you can send to Wilson and get that there at Elizas and make clothes for the children out of it as I shall not need it all. I sent over the river on yesterday to see what I can get salt at and find I can buy it at 22 ½ per bushel and think of buying 6 bushels and will try to get it up to Wilson so that you can send for it there. Miles promised to get salt for you but I fear to trust him as he made the same promise last year. I shall have to borrow some money to pay for it, but salt you must have cost what it may. I have more than enough money in the Zills Sands at Wilmington to pay for the cloth if I get it. I am going to send my two game chickens up to Wilson today by Tom Sutterthwait and get Eliza to take care of them for me until you can get them. Tom is going up today on a sick furlough of 30 days. Give my love to all our dear little ones and kiss them all for their papa just such a kiss as you give him darling. I hope you are all well now. Give my respects to all the negroes. Excuse this short note wife dear as I did not know Tom Luten was going until last night and could not write until this morning and he is about getting off now. Now darling you must take all my pure and holy love for yourself for it is all yours now and forever.

William

You can get the chickens when Jennie goes back send a basket up with a piece of net over it to carry them in.

Source: William Henry Tripp and Araminta Guilford Tripp Papers, Southern Historical Collection, UNC Chapel Hill. http://www2.lib.unc.edu/mss/inv/t/Tripp,William_Henry_and_Araminta_Guilford.html#folder_7#2

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September 20, 1864

Letter from Frank Jones telling us that 900 Yankee officers have been placed in a stockade on Sullivan’s Island in retaliation for a number of ours confined in like manner by the enemy on Morris Island.  In the mean time Yellow fever has made its appearance in the city, a danger more deadly to the unaclimated Yankee than bullet or ball, & there are many confined there. I hope it will precipitate a general exchange. Sherman, however, takes the position that the men in our hands whose term of service has expired are not entitled to Exchange for our enlisted men in theirs & this want of faith to its subjects, I had better call them at once, is the treatment the best Government under the Sun gives its own & its adopted sons! Stepmother like conduct, which none but a Yankee would have the face to perpetuate; but as Mrs Hines says, “they have forgotten if they ever knew how to blush.”

A Dispatch from Gen Lee tells us that Hampton succeeded in getting in Grant’s rear, capturing 2500 fat beeves, 300 prisoners, a no. of waggons, mules, & horses & returned safely with the loss of fifty men only. In Albemarle Sound, too, we have had a success — 16 men of the Steamer Albemarle went out in small boats, boarded & burnt the steamer Fawn, a boat running through the Dismal Swamp Canal from Norfolk to Yankee head quarters in the North Eastern Counties, with the crew, several commissioned officers in transit to their commands, and 25,000 in gold. As a set off, however, the enemy claims to have captured our N C steamer the Advance with a load of Cotton & 28,000 in specie off Hatteras.  We fear it is true, but she has made a vast sum for the state besides enabling her to provide well for her troops in the way of clothing and shoes and I hope her loss will soon be replaced.

Source: Edmondston, Catherine Ann Devereux, 1823-1875, Journal of a Secesh Lady: The Diary of Catherine Ann Devereux Edmondston 1860-1866. Crabtree, Beth G and Patton, James W., (Raleigh, NC: North Carolina Division of Archives and History, 1979).http://nc-historical-publications.stores.yahoo.net/478.html

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Mount Hope, September 4th 1864

My own precious Husband,

This is a gloomy rainy day and I do not feel like doing anything in the world, but conversing with you but as I am denied the delightful privilege of doing so verbally, I must even content myself with an epistolary conversation. My last letter to you was very unsatisfactory to me, as it did not express one half I wished to say, being written in such a hurry – and I fully intended writing another and sending it off this week, but could not well do it as my time has been almost entirely occupied with first with one thing and then another. In the first place Ann was here all the week until Friday evening, and it is not an easy matter to write a letter when Ann is around. Monday evening Ann and I, with Sephy and Tom went fishing. Ann caught four fish, I three and Tom one. Poor old Sephy got discouraged and put up his pole long before we came ashore. The Louisiana was lying just below here, and Rhoden and Tom were both afraid to go out fishing but I made Tom go at last though he was considerably frightened.  Thursday Ann and I went to see Mollie Archbell and I spent the day very pleasantly indeed. Mollie is a nice girl and I like her very much. The old folks are very kind indeed – enquired very particularly after you, and insisted on my going agin.  Willie I think that you are entirely mistaken about Mrs. Archbell being a deceitful woman. There seems to be nothing but real plain straight-forward dealing about her, no honeyed words, no flattery, and you know that deceitful persons are apt to be flatterers.  Now I agree with you that old Mrs. Bonner is deceitful, and she is not only deceitful but absolutely disgusting. Mrs. Archbell is an entirely different woman. I cannot say that I like her very much, for I have been prejudiced against her, and prejudice is not easily overcome, but I do think you are mistaken about her. Mary Snell and William Henry spent the day there, that day, and we had a very pleasant time. I do feel really sorry for them. Mr Archbell is old and inform and to be left destitute in his old age seems very hard. That looks like a very old place. The house looks old and the floor of the piazza is rotting badly, but it is a very and exceedingly pleasant place. Poor Mollie must have a lonely time of it, but I believe she gets along very well. She is a good girl and very industrious. Mary Snell is certainly in a delicate situation and looks quite interesting, or rather she is just beginning to look interesting. I made some watermelon molasses Friday. I had three tubs full of juice and made a gallon and a half of molasses. It is good to eat but not to sweeten with, as it got scorched. It would have been nice if I had boiled it down in the preserving kettle. It has a taste of iron. Rhoden made a gallon for himself. We have had some splendid watermelons but I have not enjoyed them very much, as they did not agree with me. Tommy has a chill on him now poor little fellow, and is lying in the cradle. He was restless all night, but I did not think he was going to be sick. I am feeling much better this morning. I do not suffer so much with sick stomache now, but am generally very dull and lanquid, and the least exertion almost prostrates me. I cannot imagine what makes me so weak, it seems to me that I get weaker all the time, and yet I am not so sick in my stomache as I wash. I do hope that helath will come with cool weather. I shall be so much disappointed if you do not come home Sept. Court, for I am very very anxious to see you. I understand that the Yankees had destroyed several miles of the Weldon rail road but that we had whipped and captured 5000 of them. Mr. Crawford will distill our cider next week, and I am glad of it, for it has been leaking badly I understand. Our arbor is full of grapes and they are beginning to ripen. I want to make some nice wine this year if I live. I have a bushel and a half of dried apples. I want you to have the most of them, for I do not care much for them and have no sugar and but very little honey to put in them. Sary and Angeline send their love to you and Mars and Sary says tell Mars that he hasn’t sent her that Saleratus yet that he promised her. Simon sends his love to Mas William. Rhoden is going about but isn’t well yet. Joe is mending, but is still swollen in his bowel. I hope he will be well sometime. He goes all about and hasn’t had [torn] him for a long time. It looks as if it will clear off and I hope it will, for I do not like to be confined to the house. Cold weather will soon be here and I really do not know where I shall get shoes for the children and negroes. Rhoden Homer and little Rhoden has to have shoes all the summer, and we have only one hide for next winter and that is sole leather. It will cost almost a fortune to buy leather for our family and then hire the shoes made, if we can be lucky enough to get them made. One of our hides spoilt Rhoden said. I should have thought he would have attended to that, knowing how high leather was. Aunt Rose came in just now to tell me to send her love to you, and to tell you how do and that she is very ansious to see you and that she is still alive. Little Rhoden sends his love to you Mars and Louis. Angeline says ask Mars what has become of that jacket he was going to send her? I am getting quite tired so I will stop for the present. So good bye my own darling until the evening, or whenever I shall fell like writing again. I feel much more like talking to you and nestling in your dear arms that I do like writing, for that would never tire me. O how I do want you darling. I should feel so happy and so at rest if you were with me and could stay. Now if feel tired all the time, even thinking wearies me. I do so need you to lean on. Good bye.

Araminta

Source: William Henry Tripp and Araminta Guilford Tripp Papers, Southern Historical Collection, UNC Chapel Hill.

http://www2.lib.unc.edu/mss/inv/t/Tripp,William_Henry_and_Araminta_Guilford.html#folder_7#2

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Fort Holmes

August 9th 1864

Dear Wife

Having an opportunity to send a letter by Mr B F Havens to Washington, I avail myself of the chance of writing you a short letter to let you know that I am quite well.  I have not had a letter from you now in a fortnight, and am uneasy for fear you are sick which may the Lord protect you from. JW Clayton arrived back here yesterday and by him I learned that your family were quite sickly. I hope ere this they are getting better. I feel very uneasy when I hear that any of our loved ones are sick and much worse so when I hear you are sick yourself.  We have a good deal of sickness in garrison now and some of the cases are quite stubborn. Hardenbergh is verry unwell indeed and has been so now for 2 months or more. There is not much news stirring here now. We got the news of Genl Lees blowing up a parcel of Yankees in one of their mines before Petersburgh yesterday and also that the Yankees had blowed some of our men in the same way. There is nothing new from Georgia just now. One piece of good news I have to tell you of that took place here on Sunday night. One of the Yankee blockaders while running close to the inlet got aground and they worked all night nearly trying to get her off but finding that day would catch them right under our guns they set her on fire and left her . She burned to the waters edge and then we boarded her in boats and got a good deal of plunder. This morning we got off one of her guns a beautiful brass 12 pounder Dahlgreen gun and a parcel of shells also. There is still another 25 lb gun on board which we will try to get. She is about mille off right in front of Fort Holmes and on the outer reef. We will save a good many useful things off of her. She has a fine engine but I fear we cannot save it as it is so rough where she lays. Several blockade runners have come in with yellow fever on them but it has not been communicated to land as no one is allowed to go on board except the physician and no one is allowed to go on shore from there. I hope John Thomas carried your cotton to Washington with him. He said he would if it had come to with him and let you know about its being there so you can send for it. I hope one or the other of them will carry it down for you. Oh! How I wish I could be with you now if only for one hour just to see you and know for myself how you are, but love it cannot be so now but if we live until another year this time I hope and fully believe I shall be with you. Have all the cider made you can and have some of it made into brandy. Have some wine made too dear if nothing happens to the grapes. Put 1/5 brandy to the grape juice. I hard by John that your crop at South Creek is quite likely. Give my best respects to all the negroes and my love to Aunts Rose and Charity. Mars is very well indeed. Give my warmest paternal love to all our dear ones. Tell Josephus and Vene to write to me.

 

Source: William Henry Tripp and Araminta Guilford Tripp Papers, Southern Historical Collection, UNC Chapel Hill. http://www2.lib.unc.edu/mss/inv/t/Tripp,William_Henry_and_Araminta_Guilford.html#folder_7#2

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S.S. Advance off Smithville

Sept 1st 1864

A.M. McPheeters Esq

Raleigh

Dear Sir

I am in receipt of your former of the 29th ultimo and will forward letter to as desired.

I regret to hear that the books and stationary ordered for the State has turned out so badly. The order did not reach me in England & I cannot imagine who could have authorized Msts. Trot and Atwood of St. Georges Bermuda to fill the order. So soon as Dr. Boylain can reach Bermuda I will direct him to have the matter fully investigated.

We are all nearly worn out with waiting for the tide. It is now however believed to be sufficient for the ship to float over the bar – the pilot will try it again tonight which will make the 4th attempt. The tide is much better than it was when he tried before & no doubt exists of our getting over the bar & safely through the blockading Squadron notwithstanding it has been considerably increased within the last few days.

I am Yours Truly

Jn White

P.S. The invoice from Trot & Atwood has not yet reached me. I may get it this evening before going out.

 

 

  1. S. Advance off Smithville

N.C. Sept. 1st 1864

His Excellency

Gov. Z. B. Vance

Dear Sir.

At the request of Capt. Wyllie I forwarded yesterday to Miss E. Murray at Wilmington NC a Brl of brown sugar for you with instructions that they have it put in good order & forwarded to at Raleigh by express. The sugar has obtained by Capt. Wyllie from the steamer “Hope” which was coming in last night + grounded on the bar to lighten her the sugar was being thrown overboard four Brls of which was saved by the Capt. who had gone with two boats to render what assistance he could, she was safely gotten off with the loss of some sugar. I have had second interviews withthe Son of Miss parson Lovell in regard to the Advance he thinks the compny  will willingly sell their interest in her back to the State, but He prefers that the negotiation be made with Mr. Powers & Mr. Fitzhugh on the other side they being the principle owners. In solution to this I have no doubt you have already been fully advised by Mstrs Murray & Co. We are all greatly disappointed in not getting out which we failed to do after making three attempts. The tides have not been high enough for the ship draft of water. The pilot thinks we will certainly succeed tonight, he at least will make another trial. The numbers of blockades we understand has been considerably increased within the last few days & one or two monitors has been added to the fleet. All feel confident that we will go out safely.

I am Very mch yours

Jn White

Source: Governor’s Papers, North Carolina State Archives and found on www.ncecho.org

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The statistics of the various blockade running steam vessels, and their fate and fortunes, if fully set forth, would exhibit some curious facts. Some of those facts, of which we have been informed, shall now be mentioned; they will, to most readers, bring with them their own explanation. Seven or eight new steamers have been built at English dockyards, expressly to run the blockade; they were ordered, and afterwards equipped and manned, and the officers found for them, by and English firm styled Alexander Collie & Co.  On arriving at Bermuda they were transferred to a respectable Confederate firm, acting on behalf of the Confederate government: so that on arrival at Wilmington – if they had ever arrived there – they were to have been under the Confederate flag, and owned by Confederate owners; and were destined thereafter as regular blockade runners, half on government account and half on account of the Confederate firm. These vessels have all been lost; they were all, save one, lost on their very first voyage between Bermuda and Wilmington; and our readers may remember their ill fated names, the Venus, the Ceres, the Vesta, the Juno &c.  One of these, the Hebe, was lost, not on her first voyage, but on her second.

Now, at the very same time, there was running a most lucky and prosperous line of blockade breaking ships, belonging to that English firm of Collie & Co. The very house which was employed to order and equip vessels to run the blockade on account of our government, was also most extensively engaged in running the blockade on its own account. In other words, our government expected Mr. Alexander Collie to furnish them faithfully and bona fide with the means of competing with himself and driving him out of the most lucrative trade he ever had in his life. Accordingly their ships were all driven ashore, a total loss. But of Mr. Collie’s own vessels, the Hansa has made nine round voyages, paying for herself twenty times over; the Edith  and the Annie have made each three round voyages, and are now prosperously running; the Falcon has made tow round voyages; and the Flamingo has just come in successful in her first trip. One of Collie’s however, was lost; she is the Don; had made six prosperous round voyages, and then was run down at sea by the Yankees, and is now one of the blockading squadron herself.

The contrast thus presented is striking enough, but this is not all; the captains and officers found by Collie & Col for the Confederate vessels were all most particularly capable and experienced me; they always ran their ships safely through the blockading squadron – for if they had lost them to the Yankees they never could have got command of a vessel again; it was always on the coast, or in the very mouth of Cape Fear river, that those ships were run aground, and then usually burned up, both ship and cargo. Suspicions could not but arise after a while, even in the most simple hearts; and when the Vesta, about seven months ago, after successfully making her way through a blockading fleet in pursuit, and after she was safe out of their range and out of their sight, was wantonly run aground on the North Carolina and instantly burned by her captain, together with her cargo and the very baggage of passengers, enquiry was instigated before a court at Wilmington, and it was determined to examine the captain and first officer; but it was found that they, apprehending such enquiry, had left secretly and by night, and got about the Hansa (one of Collie’s ships), them weighing anchor for England. This captain was afterwards appointed captain of one of Collie’s own vessels. The first officer, also of the Vesta, had been, before that, an officer on board the Hebe¸ one of our unlucky Confederate blockade runners; and is now first officer of the Annie, one of Collie’s ­– The captain of the Hebe, when she was lost, is now commander of the more fortunate Hansa.

We learn further that Dudgen, of London, an extensive shipbuilder, constructed to the order Collie & Col. seven double screw vessels, all just alike; of these five were transferred to the Confederate firm (or Government) – all five lost; two were retained by Collie & Co – both still running.

The agent of the house of Collie at Wilmington has bee, during all these transactions, one Andrew, a Hebrew.

There are two other vessels, the Fanny and the Alice, not furnished and manned, as we were informed, by Collie & Co, which have the good luck to be commanded by Confederate Captains; they have each made seven round voyages. The State of North Carolina, also, in providing herself with vessels to run the blockade upon State accounts, made her own arrangements and employed her own officers; which is probably the reason of her good fortune in that business.

There is no other conceivable way of accounting for the facts above mentioned, than by suppositions that the judicious Collie & Co. employed captains and paid them, expressly to run ashore and destroy those vessels which were to enter into competitions with his own; and that as a further reward for that service, the officers who have lost Confederate ships are put on board Collie’s to carry them through safely. Many persons have speculated in vain upon the astonishing ill luck of the Confederate vessels, and have suggested that the Yankees had agents in Nassau and Bermuda to bribe captains and officers, so as to ensure the loss of certain ships. – That there was villainy somewhere was very apparent; and as usual the misfortunes of the Confederates may be traced this time also to that guileless simplicity with which they have entrusted their interests to those having another interest directly opposite to theirs. Many is the bale of precious cotton that has gone to England to pay for those ships and cargoes; the Coquette, the very last ship our Government had, is at last sold; and a pawky Scotchman has almost a monopoly of the foreign trade of the Confederate States. Collie & Co is at present one of the richest firms in England and it sees no good reason why this war should ever end.

Richmond Examiner.

 

Source: Semi-Weekly Standard (Raleigh), August 19, 1864 as found on www.chroniclingamerica.loc.gov

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