Saturday, October 27, 2007
The Battle of Mobile Bay
Sherman had taken Atlanta and was prepared to leave Atlanta on his march to the sea. Grant, in the Shenandoah Valley had Lee on the run and the Federals controlled the Mississippi River. The capture of Mobile had long been desired. It was an important base of operations and blockade-running could not be entirely prevented with vessels outside the port
The principle defenses of Mobile Bay were Fort Morgan and Fort Gaines, three miles to the northwest. The passage between these two forts was obstructed by torpedoes strung out from Fort Gaines to a point nearly to Fort Morgan. An opening at the eastern end allowed blockade-runners to enter the port.
Rear Admiral David G. Farragut made plans to take possession of the port He needed and wanted a military force to attack and capture the forts, and when the forces were provided, Farragut made careful preparations. The attacking column consisted of four iron-clad monitors and seven wooden sloops-of-war. The heaviest fire was anticipated to come from Fort Morgan, on the right, or starboard, side. The Brooklyn headed the line of the wooden vessels, because she was equipped with an apparatus for picking up torpedoes. As they approached, the forts and the Confederate fleet opened fire upon them. The Hartford, Farragut's flag ship, their primary target. A hundred and twenty-pound ball was lodged in the mainmast, sending splinters flying across her deck killing many of her crew. The other wooden vessels suffered in like manner as they approached. But when they came abreast of the fort they poured in rapid broadsides of grape-shot, shrapnel, and shells, which quickly cleared the bastions and silenced the batteries.
Admiral Farragut, through out the battle was in the rigging of the Hartford where the quartermaster had tied him to the shrouds, so that if he were wounded he would not fall to the deck. All of the Confederate gun boats were captured in short order. The Confederate ram, Tennessee, continued the fight, steaming boldly into their midst and firing in every direction while also attempting to ram them. One of the Federal monitors fired a solid shot that penetrated her armor; they jammed her shutters so that the portholes could not be opened; they shot away her steering-gear and knocked off her smoke stack, so that life on board her became intolerable, and she surrendered. Her commander, Franklin Buchanan, formerly of the U. S. navy, had been seriously wounded.
From a Painting by W. H. Overend
The victory cost Farragut's fleet fifty-two men killed and one hindered and seventy wounded in addition to one hundred and thirteen that went down when the Tecumseh hit a torpedo. The Confederate forts were soon after surrendered to the land forces. Mobile Bay was now occupied by the victors. Sherman would soon split the Confederacy down the middle.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Rodeo in the Cemetery
On Saturday, October 20, the officers, directors and a number of volunteers attended a rodeo in the cemetery. The participants gathered on the main road of the cemetery on that Saturday for a morning of fun and laughter. It was a beautiful day in the Lehigh Valley, with lots of sun and a light breeze.
The participants gathered to receive instructions on the operation of the some of the cemetery's equipment. The cemetery owns several commercial lawn mowers that are somewhat intimidating. These units a powerful units that are classified as zero-turn machines. They can literally turn on a dime. They are steered using two handles that are positioned across the body as you sit on the lawn mower. The participants are all familiar with the traditional long hood mowers with steering wheels, but levers is a whole different matter. It is the levers and the power that tend to intimidate. Many of the participants in the rodeo had never even sat on one of the commercial mowers, much less operated them under power.
The Scag was purchased new in 2001, so it has a little age on her and a few bumps and bruises. Her meter show 893 hours of operation. She is equipped with a 19.0 horsepower Briggs & Stratton engine and because of her age, is a little sluggish, but still spry.
The Gravely is a model 148Z. Her name is "Zoey" and she has a 21.0 horsepower Kawasaki engine. She was acquired just this past August and was a demonstrator with only 79 hours on the meter. Zoey was a gift to the cemetery association from the Ariens Company, Brillion, WI. Zoey is powerful, responds like a thoroughbred and can race across the cemetery purring like the confident, contented creature she is.
The City of Allentown Traffic Department supplied large orange cones that were used to lay out an obstacle course. Each participant, after being thoroughly indoctrinated in the operation of the equipment, gingerly maneuvered the machines through the course. Cones were bumped, moved, shoved aside, run over, mashed and mutilated. It was a riot! Laughter permeated the air as the ones on board the powerful machines muttered under their breath. In time, however, they became less wary and more comfortable with the equipment. Each and everyone eventually mastered the equipment and they are now ready to take the machines out into the cemetery where they will face the challenge of trying not to knock over any stones.
The rodeo was a great success and after many a laugh at the expense of the trainees, we all enjoyed a cookout, with hot dogs, potato salad, macaroni salad, apple sauce, chips, fudge, a cake and a beverage of choice.
It was great fun and a very enjoyable day in the cemetery. You could have been there. If you wish to volunteer, send us an e-mail. It isn't all hard work and no pay!
Thursday, October 04, 2007
The Valley Campaign
While Lee lay helpless in Petersburg, Sherman began his march to the sea. Lee cast about for some maneuver that would force Grant to pull troops away from the Union Army and weaken the siege. An opportunity came when General Jubal Early chased Federal forces from the Shenandoah Valley, freeing him for other operations. Lee authorized Early to cross the Potomac and threaten Washington. Lee knew that Grant would have to send reinforcements to the capital.
With 17,000 men, Early and his Confederate forces headed north at the end of June, 1864.As Early approached Maryland, the only Federal detachment of 6,000 Union forces under the command of Gen earl Lew Wallace. They were easily routed and Early continued on toward Silver Springs, Maryland, on the outskirts of Washington. He arrived on the 11th of July. At that time, Early could have taken Washington had he pursued an aggressive attack, but he received reports of Federal reinforcements pouring into the city from Grants forces.
By the 14th of July, Early was back in Virginia and heading for the Shenandoah. Lee had anticipated that Grant would send more Federal forces from Petersburg to chase Early, and indeed, Grant did just that. He dispatched General Phil Sheridan with 48,000 troops into the Shenandoah with there primary job being to wreck the farms, burn the crops, and confiscate the livestock. The Federals pushed into the Shenandoah leaving a trail of fire and devastation in their wake.
The Federals caught up with Early at Winchester. Early' forces, battered fled south with Union cavalry in pursuit. Sheridan attacked Early again at Fisher's Hill, where the Rebels had dug in strongly. The Confederates were routed again. Sheridan then turned North to commence again the work of destruction.
Early reorganized his Rebel forces and began to harass the Yankees. General Sheridan was called away to Washington to confer with his superiors. On his return, on October 18, he stopped off at Winchester, some 20 miles from where his army was encamped at Cedar Creek. The next morning, Sheridan awoke to the sound of firing in the distance. Sheridan quickly mounted his charger and took to the road. As the firing was approaching him faster than he was approaching it, he realized that his men must be retreating under pursuit and heavy fire.
Sheridan and the Federal troops swept out to the attack, the sound swelling like an oncoming cyclone. The Rebels had little choice but to skedaddle as fast as they could, every man for himself. The battle of Cedar Creek finally ended Early's power in the Shenandoah valley. In March 1865, General Custer's cavalrymen wiped out the remains of the Confederate army under Jubal Early at Waynesboro. Early and two officers escaped with only twenty men. Sheridan completed his mission by the sacking of the once-beautiful valley, destroying or confiscating its farms, crops, animals, mills, powder works, barns, tanneries and railroads. Then he headed back to join Grant in his efforts to finish off General Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia.
Painting of General Sheirdan's ride, Anne S. K. Brown Military Collection, Brown University.
Subscribe to Posts [Atom]