New book forthcoming about the H.L. Hunley – Confederate submarine

From the publisher:

Sea of Darkness bookOn a dark night in February of 1864, the H.L. Hunley, the first submarine to sink an enemy ship in combat, torpedoed the Union blockade ship USS Housatonic, a feat that would not be repeated for another 50 years. But fate was not kind to the Hunley that night as it sank with all of its crew on board before it could return to shore. Considered by many to be the Civil War’s greatest mystery, the Hunley’s demise and its resting place have been a topic of discussion for historians and Civil War buffs alike for more than a hundred years.

Adding still more to the intrigue, the vessel was discovered in 1995 by a dive team led by famed novelist and shipwreck hunter Clive Cussler, sparking an underwater investigation that resulted in the raising of the Hunley on August 8, 2000. Since that time, the extensive research and restorative efforts underway have unraveled the incredible secrets that were locked within the submarine at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.

Join Civil War expert Brian Hicks as Sea of Darkness recounts the most historically accurate narrative of the sinking and eventual recovery ever written. Hicks has been given unprecedented access to all the main characters involved in the discovery, raising, and restoration of the Hunley. Complete with a foreword and additional commentary by Clive Cussler, Sea of Darkness offers new, never-before-published evidence on the cause of the Hunley’s sinking, providing readers a tantalizing behind-the-scenes look inside the historic submarine.

First successful battle-used submarine – C.S.S. Hunley – nearly entire visible for first time in over 150 years

From the Facebook site of the Friend of Hunley:

The Hunley is almost completely visible for first time in over 150 years. Until now, the world’s first successful combat submarine has been covered in an encrusted layer that built up over time while lost at sea.

Using small hand tools to break away this rock-hard layer, they must be careful because even the smallest mistake could potentially damage one of maritime history’s most treasured artifacts.

So far, the project has gone flawlessly. Click like to tell conservators good job and watch the Hunley’s true surface be revealed.

CSA Colonel John Singleton Mosby, the “Gray Ghost” of the Confederacy

CSA Colonel John Singleton Mosby, Oil on Canvas by Hiram Grandville (1815-1892)

CSA Colonel John Singleton Mosby, Oil on Canvas by Hiram Grandville (1815-1892)

Source: Cowan’s Auction, CSA Colonel John Singleton Mosby, Oil on Canvas by Hiram Grandville (1815-1892)

Item description: Hiram Grandville (1815-1892). Oil on canvas, signed Hiram Grandville / C.S.A. at l.r., and on the painted “mat” at l.r. First Lieutenant / John S. Mosby / First Virginia / Hiram Grandville CSA; 18.25 x 22.5 in.  Professionally restored (with documentation) and housed in modern frame, 24 x 27.75 in. overall. Although little is known about the artist, Hiram Grandville, it has been suggested that he served in the Confederate Army, but this cannot be confirmed.

This exceptional group of paintings of notable Confederate leaders, lots 191-198, were purchased by Paul DeHaan in early 1975 in response to an advertisement placed in the Civil War Times Illustrated. The previous owner had the paintings hanging in his hunting lodge near White Bluff, TN. The paintings were likely done between the 1860s-1870s.
Other Cowan images
Col. John S. Mosby, Rare CDV Pose by Vannerson & Jones

Col. John S. Mosby, Rare CDV Pose by Vannerson & Jones. 

Cowan’s description: CDV portrait (above) of Colonel John S. Mosby, with Vannerson & Jones, Richmond, VA backmark. To our knowledge, this is a previously unknown image of the famous Confederate colonel known as the “Gray Ghost.” Mosby wears a gray frock coat with elaborate “chicken guts” on the lower sleeves and holds his ubiquitous plumbed hat that imbued his cavalier persona.

CDV of Colonel John Singleton Mosby, CSA

CDV of Colonel John Singleton Mosby, CSA

Cowan’s full descriptionpublished by Anthony. Virginia’s premier partisan ranger attained the rank of Colonel, 1st Virginia Cavalry, and left a trail of havoc and frustrated Union commanders in his luminous wake. The stuff of legend, “the “Gray Ghost” is still revered in the Valley to this day. Mosby refused to surrender at the end of the war and simply disbanded his rangers. Afterwards, he befriended US Grant and held a series of government posts thanks to his mentor and former foe.

Union soldier (Foote) describes escaping from CSA prison with assistance from local negroes

Part of the story of military intelligence during the Civil War is the role civilians – in this case local blacks (possibly slaves) – played in assisting Union soldiers and efforts.

The following is a never before published account of the escape of Morris Cooper Foote from a Confederate prison in South Carolina, taken from his actual diary.

Original 1864 diary belonging to Morris Cooper Foote, 92nd NY Infantry

Original 1864 diary belonging to Morris Cooper Foote, 92nd NY Infantry

Tuesday, November 29th, 1864

Beautiful Day. Rec’d a letter from the General. Myself & Capt Coates A.D.G. managed to escape today by making the guard believe we were paroled to cut wood. Traveled as much as we could during the day and night – towards the Congaree river. Dogs after us until dark, took to the swamp.

Wednesday, November 30th, 1864

Beautiful Day. Came across a negro at daybreak, told him who we were. He took us to the Columbia Road & found us a place to hide in during the day. Got us some potatoes but could not get us a boat. So we traveled down the road nearly 1/2th the night.

Thursday, December 1st, 1864

Beautiful Day. Had to stop traveling about midnight last night as there was a fire near a bridge that we had to cross. Laid down in the woods & at daybreak made our way down towards the river. Saw some negroes in a field. Lay in the woods til dark.

Friday, December 2nd, 1864

Went up to the negroes at dark last night and they tried to get us a boat but could not. Slept last night in a barn. Lay there all day. Got a boat & started down the river at dark. After going a four miles we found that we could not go down the river by night as the boat was too small & the river full of snags & a rapid current.

Saturday, December 3rd, 1864
Stopped and lay on the bank of the river at last night. Started out this morning in the boat. Traveled down the river all day. Met a nig (negroe) in the evening who piloted from the river to the state road, as we could not go under the R.R., a few miles & lay in the woods 1/2 the night.

Sunday, December 4th, 1864

Lay in the woods all day. Started out at dark & traveled all night on the road that runs down by the river. Coates feet hurt him so that he can scarcely travel. Lay in the woods all day. Near the Santee River.

 Monday, December 5th, 1864

Laid in the woods all day. Started out in the evening but Coates feet hurt him so that he could not travel so we laid in a barn all night. The negroes are our friends in this country. If it were not for them we could do nothing at all.

Tuesday, December 6th, 1864

Started out this morning, met a negro in the woods. Gave us some bread. Told us where we could find a boat. Met several negroes this evening. Got a boat & some provisions. Did not start, but lay on the ban k of the river all night. Rained. Got wet.

Wednesday, December 7th, 1864

Started down the river this morning. Went a few miles & lay on the bank all day. Started out at sunset 7 travelled 1/2 the night and lay on the bank of the river till morning. The Santee River.

Thursday, December 8th, 1864
Laid on the river bank all day. Started out at sunset traveled nearly all night. Passed a R.R. bridge that was guarded. Stopped at daybreak. This Santee River is wider & stiffer than the Congaree & easier to navigate. One earns his freedom who makes it this way.

Friday, December 9th, 1864

Stayed on the river bank all day. Started out in the evening. Paddled all night near morning. Came across with 4 of our own Officers in it. Stopped in a cane-brake at daybreak Saturday. Passed a 2 gun battery in the night.

Saturday, December 10th, 1864

Stayed today in the cane-break. Saw a negro who directed us to the mouth of the river. Started for it at dark. Ran past the last picket-post. Lost our way & could not get out of the river. Stopped at a deserted rice plantation all night. Rained hard.

Sunday, December 11th, 1864

Started out in the morning, paddled around in the bayous and found the mouth of the river in the afternoon. The wind blew so hard that we could do nothing. Our canoes swamped & we ___ in shore & lay in the bushes all night.

Monday, December 12th, 1864

Started this morning on foot for Winyah Bay. Found it but saw no gunboat near shore. Signaled all day. Built a fire at night on the beach and at about 7 a.m. were taken off by a picket-boat of the U.S. Gunboat Nipsic. Captn Henry. Free men!!

Lamar Fontaine, Chief of Scouts under Stonewall Jackson, writes of a successful escape from Union soldiers

Ms Letter by Lamar Fontaine, Chief of Scouts under Stonewall Jackson

Ms Letter by Lamar Fontaine, Chief of Scouts under Stonewall Jackson

…Not a great way from Lancaster…I made by escape through an enlargement in the boxcar…and landed in a snow bank that buried me out of site. And that nite I “captured” a beautiful little mare and made my way…and rejoined my command near “Mine Run” in Virginia, and she was shot and killed on May 8th, 1864.

– Lamar Fontaine, 2nd Virginia cavalry

Excerpted from Cowan’s Auctions, Ms Letter by Lamar Fontaine, Chief of Scouts under Stonewall Jackson

Full item description:

author of All Quiet Along the Potomac, and Confederate States Medal of Honor winner. ALs, 3pp, Lyon, Mississippi, 1898, written on Fontaine and Sons Surveyors and Civil Engineers lettersheets, accompanied by a clipped newspaper copy of “All Quiet” with annotations in Fontaine’s hand, and signed at the bottom by the author.

In this post-war remembrance, Fontaine relates a story that took place when he was being transferred from the Federal Prison at Camp Chase, Ohio to Fort Delaware. The incident occurred in Lancaster, Pennsylvania and involved a Confederate prisoner known as “The Jack of Clubs” who scared the daylights out of an overly curious Pennsylvania boy who wondered what “Rebels looked like.” After describing this humorous incident, Fontaine goes on …Not a great way from Lancaster…I made by escape through an enlargement in the boxcar…and landed in a snow bank that buried me out of site. And that nite I “captured” a beautiful little mare and made my way…and rejoined my command near “Mine Run” in Virginia, and she was shot and killed on May 8th, 1864. In closing he notes that he is enclosing a mutilated copy of “All Quiet Along the Potomac” but the corrections are all right. A postscript apologizes for the tardy response, but relates his letter was stolen in a Post Office robbery and it was just returned to him.

Fontaine, a Texan by birth, enlisted into Confederate service as a 31-yr-old engineer, mustering into service as a private of the 15th Mississippi in May 1861, and then quickly transferred to Jackson’s 2nd Virginia cavalry where he served as a scout. He was twice wounded, captured and escaped. He was a Crimean War veteran, and a Texas Ranger and after the war, he served in the U.S. Navy. It was after the first Battle of Bull Run that Fontaine, serving picket duty with his best friend, penned “All Quiet on the Potomac.” In the still of the evening a sharpshooter’s rifle rang out, and killed John Moore, who dropped a newspaper with the headline “All Quiet on the Potomac.” Fontaine wrote the words to the song that would soon be sung around campfires on both sides of the lines.  A fine, post-war reminiscence by one of the south’s most colorful characters.

Rebel sharpshooter talks of killing Union scouts and negroes “so they won’t tell on us”

L.W. Griffin, Great CSA Sharpshooters Letter with Cover

L.W. Griffin, Great CSA Sharpshooters Letter with Cover

[S]he (Mary) ask me if they kill our men when they takem tiem they tell our men so the officers to keep them from going to them the negros kills some of our men they say for we kill all of them. I donte intend to take a negro. we sharpe shooters ar a going to kill all of them and if thar white men with them we agoing to kill them so they wont tell on ous.

– Lorraine Walker Griffin enlisted in the North Carolina 16th Infantry

Partially excerpted above from Cowan’s Auction, Great CSA Sharpshooters Letter with Cover

Full item description:

2pp, In line ner petersburg / June 20th 1864, from L. W. Griffin to his father and other family, cover addressed to M. L. Griffin in Rutherford County, NC. The siege of Petersburg was part of Grant’s plan to strangle Richmond by taking the north side of the river, then moving the army to the south of the city. There had been skirmishing around the city, which is located on the Appomattox River just over 20 miles south of Richmond, throughout the war. Eventually Lee’s defenses ran from Petersburg to Richmond, in a 40 mile line defended by the remnants of the Army of Northern Virginia.

Lorraine Walker Griffin enlisted in the North Carolina 16th Infantry on May 1, 1861 and remained until paroled at Appomattox Court House 9 April 1865. He was wounded at least once in Autumn of 1862, but was able to return to duty in December. A barely literate farmer from Rutherford County, this letter relates the early stages of the final push to end the conflict. L.W. tells his family that they arrived on Saturday (the 18th) and had been on the line ever since. …[T]he yanks is in 2 miles of our brigade we go out on the scout and slip on them and shoot in to them then run for life for they are all on horses. He then relates information about family: …I tell Mary that the Rediment Jim was in is up at Lynchburg. L.W. then relates that the officers are telling the enlistees that any captives are killed by the Federal troops, especially the USCT, to discourage the war-wearing troops from deserting. [S]he (Mary) ask me if they kill our men when they takem tiem they tell our men so the officers to keep them from going to them the negros kills some of our men they say for we kill all of them. I donte intend to take a negro. we sharpe shooters ar a going to kill all of them and if thar white men with them we agoing to kill them so they wont tell on ous. Rumors had been circulating that Confederates did not bother to house African American POWs, a factor that may have led to inflated reports of the massacre of USCT captives after Saltville (see Lot 133). He describes one escape from the Federals in which they had been following the Union troops that were guarding POWs, presumably with the intent to free the prisoners before they were moved out of reach. A group of Union scouts spotted the skirmishers and attempted to stop them. [T]hey have shot so much at me it looks like they cant hit me.

One of the most touching comments in the letter, however, concerns his brother, apparently the only brother. I cam thro the Battle ground whar Brother was capturd I saw lots of grave along the road but could not find his. I dont think he is ded unless he dide after they got him. Oh how sad I felt hunting for my Brothers grave. I wont have no brother to hunt mine. The Civil War database lists 3 Griffins from Rutherford County besides L. W., two Jameses and George – likely all related. One James is recorded as dying in 1862, the other was captured 24 May 1864 at North Anna (VA). George died of wounds 20 May 1864 at Ware Bottom Church, VA. Certainly worthy of further research.