31 October 2008

Big Wave

An American flag catches a gust of wind at St Marys harbor. Also below it is the Georgia flag.

26 October 2008

Chucktown subs

Well I lived in CHarleston for a year and a half, I never saw anything about this.

World War II artifacts slowly rusting away
Barriers to German submarines were strung across mouth of harbor, creeks
By Bo Petersen (Contact)
The Post and Courier
Monday, September 29, 2008

Tube worms and rust eat away at the last pieces of one of the eerier secrets of the Lowcountry estuaries — anti-submarine nets.
The nets were strung across the mouth of Charleston Harbor and deeper inlet streams during World War II. For years after, boaters on waters like Conch Creek behind Sullivan's Island would duck under the top cable and glimpse a horror in the gleaming waves.
"For a kid that thing was bigger than life and scary as the devil. It was a very imposing thing, very big spikes, very big cables all the way across," said David Richardson, a Fort Moultrie boat captain who rode the creek as a small child. He remembers five or six cables suspended across with four-prong spikes bolted to them.
Today, only remnants are there, a few crumbling pilings, maybe the rust line of a cable along the bottom, in places like Conch or Coburg creeks. But the memory is so ingrained that oystermen who work the beds near Conch will refer to "the submarine net" as a landmark.
"It's an interesting but largely unknown story of World War II, a major operation that a lot of people don't know about," said Scott Bassett, of the Naval Weapons Station in Goose Creek.
The nets were strung up and down the East Coast across strategic harbor entrances like Charleston, with its Navy base, as protection from smaller German submarines. The threat was real. Several German U-boats were spotted off the coast, and at least one was sunk by a destroyer.
Deeper harbors were mined. In shallower harbors like Charleston, the nets were considered enough to stop the relatively slow, weakly powered U-boats. Tugs were dispatched from Fort Moultrie to pull the large harbor nets back so Allied ships or submarines could pass.
But in the Lowcountry, waterways snake in and out between bigger harbors and the sea. Creeks like Conch were deeper then and used to anchor schooners waiting for the tide to come into Charleston. So smaller nets were run across them.
At the end of the war, the military was tasked with scrapping the nets. But servicemen were being demobilized, along with the rest of the country.
"There were not a lot of people left to remove them," Bassett said. "My guess is that there was tons of stuff left all over the place."
Reach Bo Petersen at 745-5852 or bpetersen@ postandcourier. com.

24 October 2008


A pair of American flags fly over St Marys harbor.

19 October 2008

Ike's aftermath

Ok, just a quick plug for Seawolf Park in Galveston, Texas. These guys were hit hard by the hurricane, and the ships on display are in bad shape. For more information on how you can help, go here.

17 October 2008

Over the canyon

The American flag flies high over one of America's mightiest symbols, the Hoover Dam.

13 October 2008

Before 9-11

Ok, yesterday marks the eight year anniversary of the attack on the USS Cole. The Cole was Aden, Yemen for a routine fuel stop when a small boat approached the ship. This was supposedly not unusual and some reports say that sailors on the Cole and the smallcraft may have exchanged greetings. Then the small craft exploded, damaging the Cole's galley and engineering spaces. The crew fought flooding and other damage and had the ship under control by evening. An inspection by divers showed the keel was not damaged. In the end, seventeen sailors were killed and thirty-nine injured in the dealiest attack on a naval vessel since the Stark in 1987. The British vessel HMS Marlborough was the first to respond to the scene. Marines arrived to help and provide security, and within a few hours the USS Donald Cook and USS Hawes arrived to help. They were joined by several more ships in the following days. The Cole was taken onboard the semi-submersible salvage ship MV Blue Marlin from Norway and arrived in Pascagoula, Mississippi on December 24. In the aftermath of the attack, the Navy investigated and changed its rules of engagement after finding out that the sailors on the ship could not have fired at their attackers without permission from the Commanding Officer. Petty Officer Jennifer Kudrick said that if the sentries had fired on the suicide craft "we would have gotten in more trouble for shooting two foreigners than losing seventeen American sailors." The attack was renounced as an act of terrorism, though by US Law terrorism only occurs against civilian targets. It was, regardless, an attack by Al-Qaeda against the US,and no military response was made prior to 9-11. This post is dedicated to the sailors who lost their lives in this attack, and to those who risked everything to save their ship and their shipmates.

12 October 2008

Lost and found

Original article here.
Navy confirms lost WWII sub has been found
'We hope this announcement will help to give closure,' official says

PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii - The Navy has confirmed the wreckage of a sunken vessel found last year off the Aleutian Islands is that of the USS Grunion, which disappeared during World War II.
Underwater video footage and pictures captured by an expedition hired by sons of the commanding officer, Lt. Cmdr. Mannert L. Abele, allowed the Navy to confirm the discovery, Rear Adm. Douglas McAneny said Thursday in a news release.
McAneny said the Navy was very grateful to the Abele family.
"We hope this announcement will help to give closure to the families of the 70 crewmen of Grunion," he said.
The Grunion was last heard from July 30, 1942. The submarine reported heavy anti-submarine activity at the entrance to Kiska, and that it had 10 torpedoes remaining forward. On the same day, the Grunion was directed to return to Dutch Harbor Naval Operating Base. The submarine was reported lost Aug. 16, 1942.
Japanese anti-submarine attack data recorded no attack in the Aleutian area at the time of the Grunion's disappearance, so the submarine's fate remained an unsolved mystery for more than 60 years, the Navy said.
Abele's son's, Bruce, Brad, and John, began working on a plan to find the sub after finding information on the Internet in 2002 that helped pinpoint USS Grunion's possible location.
In August 2006, a team of side scan sonar experts hired by the brothers located a target near Kiska almost a mile below the ocean's surface. A second expedition in August 2007 using a high definition camera on a remotely operated vehicle yielded video footage and high resolution photos of the wreckage.

11 October 2008

Double Feature

Ok, so today's Dog Eared Saturday is a double, two books that go together, by the same author, so I am doing them together. One is Another Such Victory, and the other is The Monuments at Guilford Courthouse National Military Park, both by Thomas Baker. Baker worked as a guide at Guilford, when in 1980, he agreed to write a book about the battle in time for its 1981 bicentennial. With a strict deadline to meet, he created Another Such Victory, which turned out to be an amazing success. But it wasn't good enough for him. Until his death in 1999 he continued to research obscure sources of information to put together the most complete account of the battle. Fortunetly, all this information now belongs to the Park Service which uses it to help translate the battlefield to visitors. But the book that Baker truly wanted to write never took form, and thus, Another Such Victory is, twenty years later, still the authorative source on the battle. Baker's other book, The Monuments at Guilford Courthouse, is exactly that. It is an easy to follow guide with pictures to all of the monuments at the battlefield, including inscriptions, changes to monuments, and the stories behind them. This book is a must for anyone who visits the park so they can know what they are looking at. Another Such Victory is a valuable resource for anyone interested in the battle or the Revolution. Both are excellent and highly recommended. They are also small, and ASV is $7 while Monuments is $1.50 so they are cheap too. ASV can be bought on Amazon here and Monuments can be bought here.
Another Such Victory
Thomas E. Baker
1981 Eastern National, Fort Washington
91 pages

The Monuments at Guilford Courthouse National Military Park
Thomas E. Baker
Eastern National
80 pages

10 October 2008

Spirit of 76

Over the Colonial section of Savannah's Bonaventure Cemetery flies the Bennington '76 flag. The flag is credited with being at the battle of Bennington in the Revolution, though historians think this is an urban legend. Nonetheless the story has stuck, and the flag is quickly identified by the white (not red) stripes on top and bottom, and the white 76 in the star field. This 76 has also made the flag one of the most popular historic flags, probably the reason why it is used here.

09 October 2008

Noble Dr. Jones

Ok, this is Wormslow, the plantation of Noble Jones (buried at Bonaventure) located about ten miles southeast of Savannah. Jones arrived with James Oglethorpe to settle the new colony of Georgia in 1733. In 1736, he leased 500 acres on the Isle of Hope from the colony Trustees, and later gained another 500 acres from John Fallowfield. The large gate above, constructed in 1913, marks the entrance to his large plantation.
In 1739, Jones began building a fortified tabby house on the water front, a model of which is seen above. The home was not completed until 1745 due to Jones participating in the invasion of Spanish St Augustine (1740) and the following Spanish attack at St Simon's Island (1742).
Jones was an important figure in the Colony, commanding a company of Marine boatmen, and serving as a constable, soldier, and Indian Agent. He was also treasurer and assistant to president of the colony from 1760-1775, Royal Council Member 1754-56, and Justice of the Province. When he died in 1775, his daughter, Mary Jones Bulloch gained ownership of the plantation, and it passed to her brother, Noble Wimberly Jones, on her death in 1795.

Jones had remained loyal to the British crown until his death, but his son, N.W. Jones was a Patriot. He was elected to the Commons House Assembly from 1755-1775, attended the first Provincial Congress in 1775, as well as the Second Congress, the State House Assembly, and the Council of Safety On May 19, 1775, N.W. Jones with a group of Patriots stole gunpowder from the provincial magazine, and sent it to the Patriot forces in Boston. He fled Savannah prior to the British takeover in 1778, but was captured at Charleston, SC in 1780 and imprisoned in St Augustine, FL with three signers of the Declaration of Independence.

Following the Revolution, Jones went into medicine, following in his father's footsteps. He helped to found the Georgia Medical Society in 1804 and was its first president. Jones rarely saw Wormslow during his ownership, and when he died in 1805, the estate fell into disrepair. His son George moved to the property in 1828 and built a two story frame dwelling north of the original house site. His descendents live there to this day, while these tabby ruins are all that remain of the original fortified house built by Noble Jones.
During the Civil War, Confederate earthworks were built on the property along the waterfront. Although they saw little action, they were captured by Union forces in 1864, who vandalized and confiscated the property. It was returned to the Jones familly on August 29, 1865.
This stone marks where Noble Jones was originally buried on the plantation, next to his wife Sarah and youngest son, Inigo. Jones' remains were later moved to Colonial Cemetery in Savannah, then to Bonaventure, where they remain today. Sarah and Inigo are belived to remain here. This stone was placed in 1875 by George Wyberly Jones DeRenne.
This picturesque Live Oak lined driveway was created by Wymberly Jones DeRenne in the 1890's for his son.

08 October 2008

And the Angels Sing

Ok, this is Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah, another place made famous by the book/movie Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, but also famous because of the notable people buried here. The land was bought between 1753 and 1764 by John Mullryne who became active in the politics of the colony. In 1769 he was contracted to rebuild the Tybee Island Lighthouse. In 1779, the Bonaventure Plantation became a hospital and shelter for French troops after the ill-fated Siege of Savannah. The Mullrynes were labeled as traitors after the war and moved to Nassau in 1782. The land was sold at auction, and changed hands several times over the following years. The first known adult buried here was Harriet Fenwick Tattnall in 1802. She was the wife of Josiah Tattnall who bought the land in 1785. In 1847, the land's owner at the time, Peter Wiltberger, incorporated much of the land into the Evergreen Cemetery Company. In July 1907 the cemetery was sold to the City of Savannah and was officially renamed Bonaventure Cemetery. In 1994 the Bonaventure Historical Society was created to help preserve the cemetery, and in 2001 it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Society also prints guide brochures to some of the more interesting burials. I did not see all of them in the brochure, and I found a few of my own, but here they are and I hope you find them as interesting as I did. Oh, and for anyone who asks, the "Birdgirl" statue on the cover of Midnight in the Garden... is no longer here. It was moved to the Telfair Museum. Above is the Colonial section of the cemetery, where many early colonists were buried.
Looking down one of the roads
Rufus Ezekiel Lester 1837-1906. He is not in the brochure, but I thought he was worth a look. Confederate soldier, State Senator 1870-1873, Mayor of Savannah 1883-1889, Congress 1890-1906
A plaque listing some of the burials in the Colonial section
Noble Jones 1702-1775. Arrived with James Oglethorpe in 1733, built Wormsloe Plantation, organized first local militia in 1751, served in Royal Council. More on him tommorow.
William Hodgson 1800-1871. US counsul to Algiers 1826-1829, curator of Georgia Historical Society 1845-1870.
Edward Telfair 1735-1807. Leader of the origianl Liberty Boys in 1774, Governor of Georgia 1786-1787, first governor elected under GA constitution 1789-1793.
Veterans of the World Wars

Commodore Josiah Tattnall III 1735-1807. US Navy 1812-1861, commanded Confederate Naval defenses 1861-1864. Credited with phrase "blood is thicker than water."
Hugh Mercer 1808-1877. West Point Grad 1828, commisioned Brigadier General in Confederate Army, placed in command of Savannah, joined Joseph Johnston in the Atlanta Campaign of 1864.
James Carmichael Herndon 1831- 1877. US Army surgeon, Assistant Medical Director of Confederate States, staff officer of General Lee.
Robert Anderson 1835-1888. Not the Robert Anderson of Fort Sumter fame, he was a West Point graduate who served the Confederacy 1861-65 and attained Brigadier General. Savannah Chief of Police 1866-1888.
Dr John T. Macfarland 1836-1888. Surgeon, GA Confederate 1st Volunteer Regiment, Georgia Sharpshooters, present at Fort Pulaski, GA/SC campaign. Savannah health officer 1865-1888.
Duncan Lamont Clinch 1784-1849. US Army 1808-1836. Key player in First and Second Seminole Wars, notably the attack on the Negro Fort on the Apalachicola River. Fort Clinch on the GA/FL border is named for him.
Richard Arnold 1808-1876. Helped organize Medical Association of GA, Mayor of Savannah 1842-1865, surrendered city to General Sherman in 1864
Jospeh Bryan 1812-1863. Served at siege of Vera Cruz 1846-1848, Chief of Savannah's Mounted Police 1854
Gracie Watson 1883-1889. Known as "Little Gracie", this child's grave topped by a sculpture of her in Sunday Best by John Walz, is one of the cemetery's most visited and well known sites.
John D. Mongin 1760-1833. Owned eleven of twelve plantations on Danfuskie Island, SC.
Alexander Lawton 1818-1896. President of Augusta and Savannah Railroad, member of House of Representatives and State Senate, Confederate General, President of American Bar Association.
Henry Jackson 1820-1898. Col Mexican War 1846-1848, Superior Court Judge 1849-1853, US minister to Austria 1853-1858, Confederate General
Conrad Aiken 1889-1973. Well-known poet and short story writer, Pullitzer Prize 1929.
John Beckwith 1831-1890. Second Bishop of GA Episcopal Church 1867, Established 20 churches and 5 missions including Savannah Orphanage for Confederate children
And finally the most famous resident, Johnny Mercer 1909-1976. Popular song writer, wrote more than 1,000 lyrics, four Oscars for movie lyrics, produced several Broadway shows. Grave below.

07 October 2008

This big light of mine

Ok, so this is Tybee Island, just southeast of Fort Pulaski. Like much of the southeast, the island was tossed between several cultures including French, Spanish, British, Us, Confederates, and Pirates. The first lighthouse was built here in 1736 by the settlers of Savannah to mark the entrance of the river. A new one was built of stone in 1742 when the old wooden one washed away. In 1773 a third lighthouse was built, further from the shore which now threatened the second one. This lighthouse and grounds became Federal property in 1790. During the War of 1812 the lighthouse was used as a signal tower, and Martello Tower fortress was built nearby for defense. Although the lighthouse survived the Civil War and the siege of Fort Pulaski, in 1866 the top 40 feet of it was removed and the lower 60 feet used as a base for a new light, the current one. Visitors can climb the light tower, which I did five years ago, but due to time constraints and the long line outside I chose not to this time. I do highly encourage anyone to do so though, because the views of Fort Pulaski and Fort Screven are amazing.

Fort Screven was built in 1897 north of the lighthouse as part of the modern system of coastal defenses. If you recall the Fort Pulaski post, brick forts and canon balls were long outdated now, and modern forts were smaller concrete structures covered with earth in front to disguise them. They contained several large, separated disapearing guns that would fire and then duck down behind the fort wall. And these new forts were often spread out around or along a harbor to provide a greater field of fire and minimize damage to the fort. Fort Screven, like many of these forts, served through WW2 and was closed in 1947. Also like many of these forts, part of it is preserved as a musuem.
Pirate artifacts in the Fort Screven museum
an old rifle and pistol
Uniforms and accesories from WW1 era
Atop Fort Screven looking back at the lighthouse
Here is one of the spots where one of the large 12 inch guns would have sat.
Due to the parts of the modern forts being so spread out, many of the parts had individual battery names as well. The modern museum is in Battery Garland.
A collection of old rifles
Some nostalgic carnival type attractions from yesteryear
Looking up a chute that would have carried ammunition from inside the fort up to the guns on top.