Dead Confederates, A Civil War Era Blog

Talkin’ Blockade Runners

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on March 19, 2012

I’d like to extend my thanks to the SCV John Bell Hood Camp No. 50 for hosting my talk on blockade runners Monday evening. A few members recalled my earlier talks on the subject from 10+ years back, and came armed with questions. I talked a little long (surprise!), but I got a lot of solid info in there. I even got in a plug for Jim Schmidt’s upcoming book on Galveston during the war. It’s going to be a good one.

Tuesday evening at 6:30 my friends Bob Gearhart, Amy Borgens, and Edward T. Cotham, Jr. will present “U.S.S. Westfield, A Civil War Shipwreck in Galveston Bay” in the Wortham Theater at the Houston Museum of Natural Science:

In the fall of 2009, a team of marine archeologists working under the direction of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers supervised the recovery of artifacts from USS Westfield, a Staten Island ferryboat that had been converted into a Civil War gunboat after its purchase by the U.S. Navy in 1861. Westfield saw significant Civil War action, participating in battles at New Orleans, Vicksburg and other places along the Gulf Coast. Its destruction at the Battle of Galveston on January 1, 1863, was one of the most important and dramatic events of the Civil War in Texas. This audiovisual program uses rare historic documents and images to describe the conversion of a ferryboat to armored warship and examine the military career of this unique “fighting ferryboat” and its impact on the war in Texas. It retraces the series of events that led to the relocation of Westfield’s wreck and the challenging project that resulted in recovery of tons of artifacts undergoing conservation at the Conservation Research Laboratory at Texas A&M University. Among the artifacts being conserved is a more than 4 ton Dahlgren cannon capable of firing a projectile almost 2 miles.

And next Tuesday, March 27, I’ll be presenting my own talk there, “For-Profit Patriots: Civil War Blockade Running on the Texas Coast.” Hope to see y’all there!

Image: Andy Hall and marine archaeologist Amy Borgens prepare to dive on the site of a wreck believed to be that of the Civil War blockade runner Will o’ the Wisp, July 2009.

One Response

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  1. Jim Schmidt said, on March 20, 2012 at 8:58 am

    Awwwww, thanks Andy! I really appreciate it. Couldn;t do it without the kind and generous support of folks like you and Ed Cotham. I do plan on going to his lecture tonight and yours next week. Safe travels to you on the road!

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