Friday, June 20, 2003

We received this email from Barto Arnold, DENBIGH Project Director.
Very nice site and very interesting material. Thank you for sending it to me.

Yours truly,

Barto Arnold

Barto Arnold
Principal Investigator and DENBIGH Project Director
Austin, Texas
Barto Arnold is a native of San Antonio and studied anthropology and archaeology at the University of Texas at Austin. Arnold’s introduction to nautical archaeology came when, as a graduate student, he was hired to work at the conservation laboratory handling artifacts taken by salvors from the 1554 Spanish wrecks on Padre Island. Arnold served for more than 20 years as the State Marine Archaeologist for the Texas Historical Commission, and in 1997 moved to the Institute of Nautical Archaeology as Director of Texas Operations.

The following chronology is adapted from Stephen R. Wise’s Lifeline of the Confederacy (Columbia: University of South Carolina, 1988), Robert E. Denney’s The Civil War Years: A Day-by-Day Chronicle (New York: Grammercy, 1992), and U.S. Navy's Civil War Naval Chronology, 1861-1865 (Washington: Navy Department, 1971). Note that some dates of Denbigh’s arrivals and departures are unknown, and so have been left out of this chronology.

Date Denbigh Elsewhere
September 10, 1863 Denbigh is written up in a Liverpool area newspaper as being fitted out "to go to China." This attempt at what a later generation would call "disinformation" fools almost no one, least of all U.S. Consul Thomas Dudley, who's been keeping a close eye on this particular vessel.

October 19, 1863 Denbigh sails from Liverpool for Havana.

December 7, 1863 Assistant Secretary of the Navy Gustavus V. Fox forwards to the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron intelligence reports on Denbigh and other suspected blockade runners.

January 10, 1864 Denbigh arrives at Mobile on her first blockade-running voyage. Confederate officers in Mobile are discussing the previous day’s message from President Jefferson Davis, warning that Mobile will soon be attacked by Admiral Farragut’s West Gulf Blockading Squadron.

March 14, 1864 Denbigh arrives at Mobile on her second blockade-running voyage.

March 16, 1864 Denbigh clears Mobile for Havana.

April 14, 1864 Denbigh arrives at Mobile on her third blockade-running voyage, carrying (among other things) a large lot of cobbler’s tools.

April 16, 1864 Denbigh clears Mobile for Havana.

April 30, 1864 Denbigh arrives at Mobile on her fourth blockade-running voyage.

May 7, 1864 Denbigh clears Mobile for Havana.

May 18, 1864 Denbigh arrives at Mobile on her fifth blockade-running voyage.
Confederate Admiral Franklin Buchanan, "Old Buck," manages to get the new ironclad ram Tennessee over Dog River Bar and into Mobile Bay. C.S.S. Tennessee greatly increases the strength of Confederate forces on the bay, and sets the stage for one of the most dramatic naval actions of the war.

May 26, 1864 Denbigh clears Mobile for Havana.
Union Rear Admiral Farragut, watching Confederate boats setting out mines at the entrance to Mobile Bay, writes that he has "come to the conclusion to fight the devil with fire, and therefore shall attach a torpedo to the bow of each ship, and see how it will work on the rebels -- if they can stand blowing up any better than we can."

June 7, 1864 Denbigh arrives at Mobile on her sixth blockade-running voyage.

June 14, 1864 Denbigh clears Mobile for Havana. At Cherbourg, France, Captain Semmes of the Confederate raider Alabama concludes that he will have to fight the U.S. Navy's steamer Kearsarge, which is waiting for him outside the harbor. Semmes judges that the ships are about evenly matched, and that he has a good chance of defeating the Union ship. He will be proven wrong five days later.

July 26, 1864 Denbigh clears Mobile for Havana. Mobile is now cut off from the sea – Denbigh is the last blockade runner to safely escape Mobile. In just over a week’s time, Admiral Farragut will lead his ships into Mobile Bay.

1864 Nemiso Guillo returns from school in Mobile, Alabama. He brings a bat and baseball in his trunk.


From Bergeron's Confederate Mobile:

Although Mobile occupied a strategic position in the Confederacy because of its railroad connection, of almost equal importance was the city's status as a major port for blockade runners. New Orleans outranked Mobile as a port early in the war, but the fall of the Crescent City in April 1862 made Mobile the leading port on the Gulf. The vessels that ran the blockade in and out of Mobile took their cargoes to and from Havana, Cuba, the best base in the Gulf for this trade. The trip between Mobile and Havana took about three days if the runner encountered no problems. Taking out of Mobile primarily loads of cotton, the runners exchanged their cargoes for both military supplies and items for consumption by the civilian populace of the Gulf South. Running the blockade was very dangerous, but attempts to get by the blockading squadron increased as the war progressed. Of the men who engaged in the trade, one author has written: "Some of the blockade runners were patriots who wished to aid the Confederacy, but many were in the business only for money, and they made profits equal their risk."

Thursday, June 19, 2003

In 1857 and 1858, O'Hara was editor of the Mobile Register. He enjoyed a cold refreshing beverage at the end of a long day at the office. This excerpt from his biography tells of a late night escapade this Cuban filibuster had down on Royal Street.

[O'Hara encountered a goat in the middle of Royal Street.]

O'Hara whipped out his pistol and fired upon Guilliemus Capricornus- three separate and specific shots. G.C. capered off, apparantly unharmed, but up came the constable or police officer on the run...commanding...that O'Hara accompany him to the guard-house.
O'Hara stared at the constable for a full minute.... Then he bit off the following remarkable string of words, emphasizing each phrase with the hand holding the pistol:
"Mistake of creation, occupant of the lowest office in the gift of the American people, depart! Else will I fill you so full of lead that you will drop to the Seventh Hell and crush through the roof into the Bottomless Pit."
But the officer had already departed, with the same lack of ceremony that had characterized the flight of the goat. O'Hara's sole comment, in reciting the story, was that he had had more to say, and regretted that the performance ended so abruptly.


O'HARA, Theodore, poet, born in Danville, Kentucky, 11 February, 1820; died near Guerryton, Bullock County, Alabama, 6 June, 1867. He was the son of Kane O'Hara, an Irish political exile, and was graduated at St. Joseph academy, Bardstown, Kentucky, where he entered the senior class and acted as professor of Greek while he was completing his studies. He then read law, was admitted to the bar, and in 1845 was appointed to a place in the treasury department at Washington. At the beginning of the Mexican war he entered the army, and was appointed captain and assistant quartermaster of volunteers, 26 June, 1846. He was brevetted major, 20 August, 1847, for gallant conduct in the battles of Contreras and Churubusco, and was mustered out on 15 October, 1848. He was appointed captain in the 2d cavalry, 3 March, 1855, but resigned on 1 December, 1856. When the remains of the Kentucky soldiers that fell at Buena Vista in February, 1847, were removed to their native state, Major O'Hara wrote for the occasion the poem by which he is best known. "The Bivouac of the Dead," which begins with the stanza"

"The muffled drum's sad roll has beat The soldier's last tattoo No more on life's parade shall meet That brave and fallen few on Fame's eternal camping-ground Their silent tents are spread"And Glory guards, with solemn round, The bivouac of the dead."

Lines from this poem are inscribed over the entrances of several of the national cemeteries. At the close of the war Colonel O'Hara returned to Washington, D. C., where he practised his profession. He afterward went with a filibustering expedition to Cuba, and commanded a regiment in the battle of Cardenas, where he was wounded. During the absence of John Forsythe from the United States as minister to Mexico, O'Hara edited the "Mobile Register." he was afterward editorially connected with the Louisville "Times" and the Frankfort, Kentucky, " Yeoman." He was several times intrusted by the government with diplomatic missions, and was especially active in the negotiations regarding the Tehuantepec grant. During the civil war he joined the Confederate army, and was made colonel of the ,12th Alabama regiment. Subsequently he served on the staffs of General Albert Sidney Johnston and General John C. Breckinridge. After the war he engaged in the cotton business in Columbus, Georgia, but lost everything" by fire, and retired to a plantation, where he died. After his " Bivouac of the Dead" his best-known poem is "The Old Pioneer." In accordance with a resolution of the Kentucky legislature, his remains were conveyed to that state and buried by the side of those whom he had commemorated. See "O'Hara and His Elegies," by George W. Ranck (Baltimore, 1875).

Wednesday, June 18, 2003

Page 226 from May's Manifest Destiny's Underworld:

.....Mobs had assaulted Spaniards residing on America's Gulf coast after news broke that the authorities in Havana on August 16, 1851, had executed captured filibusters. The most disturbing outbreaks occurred in New Orleans on August 21. After Roberdeau Wheat and other filibustering cronies stirred up a meeting at Lafayette Square, the crowd demolished the presses of the antifilibustering Spanish-language newspaper La Union, attacked the fruit stands, cigar stores, and coffee establishments of Spanish proprietors, and even violated the Spanish Consulate-- defacing a painting of the Spanish queen, shredding the Spanish flag, and causing Consul Juan Y. Laborde to flee. In MOBILE, mobs threatened shipwrecked Spanish sailors, forcing Spain's vice consul to charter a schooner to extricate them quickly to Cuba. At Key West, ruffians destroyed several Spanish properties.

.....on October 29, Webster instructed Barringer to present to Spains's queen a petition FROM CITIZENS OF ALABAMA asking pardons for all the American captives. Spanish leaders, for their part, linked clemency to American restitution for the Gulf coast riots.[173 of the filibusters who survived Spanish execution in Havana were shipped to the penal colony of Cueta in Spanish Morocco]

Cuba profile:

Area: total: 110,860 sq. km
Population: 11.2 million (July 2002 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.35% (2002 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: 76.6 years
Ethnic groups:
mulatto 51%,
white 37%,
black 11%,
Chinese 1%
GDP per capita: purchasing power parity $2,300 (2002 est.)
Exports commodities: sugar, nickel, tobacco, fish, medicaments, citrus, and coffee.
Main trade partners: EU, Russia, Canada.
Internet users: 120,000 (2002)
(Source: CIA - World Factbook 2002)


Robert Register
with his buddy,
Mr. Hugh Taylor.

photo by Michael Palmer


Tuesday, June 17, 2003



Perhaps the most outrageous instance of filibuster audacity occurred in December 1858. After the U.S. collector for Mobile denied clearance to William Walker's intended vessel, the ALICE TAINTER, "friends" of the shipowner gathered and became, as the collector reported to Washington,"very violent, some of them proposing to tear down the custom-house." Subsequently, the filibusters launched their expedition anyway on Harrry Maury's SUSAN. Captain J.J. Morrison, aboard the cutter ROBERT McCLELLAND, intercepted the SUSAN after the vessel attempted to leave port surreptitiously, and discovered arms in the hold. But when Morrison ordered Maury to return to the bar of the Dog River and wait there until further instructions arrived from the collector, Maury denied wrongful intent and some of the filibusters on board grabbed their guns. In the hope of averting bloodshed, Morrison struck a deal that the filibusters should drop anchor where they were and, with a revenue lieutenant on board, await ther collector's instructions, warning that he would sink the SUSAN should Maury run for open water. Nevertheless, that night, under the cover of fog, Maury made his escape, crossing the bar to Moblile Bay at about 4:20 A.M. Later, Maury transferred his captive revenue lieutenant to a commercial vessel bound for New Orleans and continued on his way to Central America.

WALKER, William, adventurer, born in Nashville, Tennessee, 8 May, 1824; died in Trujillo, Honduras, 12 September, 1860. He studied law in Nashville and medicine in Heidelberg, Germany, was a journalist in New Orleans and San Francisco, and finally settled in the practice of law in Marysville, California In July, 1853, he organized an expedition for the conquest of the state of Sonora, Mexico, and, eluding the vigilance of the authorities of the port of San Francisco, early in November landed at La Paz, Lower California, with 170 men and three field-guns. He then issued a manifesto to the people, proclaimed himself president of the Pacific republic, and, having received re-enforcements, set out in January, 1854, for Sonora. He was pursued by a strong force of Mexicans, and, as he was near the frontier, he surrendered to the United States commander at San Diego, California In May, 1854, he was tried at San Francisco for violating the neutrality laws, and was acquitted. He continued to plan expeditions against Sonora, but was compelled to abandon them, and in 1855 he was induced by American speculators in Nicaragua to interfere in the intestine troubles in that country, ostensibly in aid of the Democratic party there. He landed at Realejo on 11 June, with sixty-two followers, was joined by a small native force, and endeavored to take possession of the southern transit route, He was defeated at Rivas, but, being re-enforced with 170 native soldiers, routed the Nicaraguan army of 540 men at La Virgen on 1 September, took possession of the city of Grenada on 15 October, and by a treaty with General Ponciano Corral, the opposing leader, was made secretary of war and commander-in-chief. Recruits rapidly arrived from the United States, and on 1 March, 1856, Walker had 1,200 men. In the mean time he charged Corral with conspiracy, presided over a court-martial for his trial, and sentenced him to be shot on 8 November, 1855. War began with Costa Rica, and Walker was defeated at Guanacaste on 20 March, 1856, but routed the enemy at Rivas on 11 April, and hostilities ceased. He was then in undisputed control of Nicaragua, but to replenish his treasury he broke up the inter-oceanic transit route by confiscating the property and revoking the charter of the Vanderbilt steamship company. He caused himself to be elected president, and in September, 1856, annulled the existing prohibition of slavery. His minister, whom he sent to Washington, was recognized by President Pierce. Walker's arbitrary acts soon provoked an insurrection, which was assisted by several surrounding states and by agents of the Vanderbilt company. He was defeated in several encounters, burned the city of Grenada, which he was unable to hold, and on 1 May, 1857, surrendered with sixteen officers, a t San Juan del Sur, to Commander Charles H. Davis, of the United States sloop-of-war " Mary," which conveyed him to Panama. Thence he went to New Orleans and was put under bonds to keep the peace, but returned to Nicaragua in November. He soon organized a new force, but in December Commander Hiram Paulding, of the United States navy, compelled him and his 132 men to surrender, and took them to New York. President Buchanan declined to recognize Walker as a prisoner, on the ground that his arrest on foreign soil was illegal. He sailed with a new expedition from Mobile, Alabama, in October, 1858, but was arrested at the mouth of Mississippi river and tried at New Orleans and acquitted. In June, 1860, he again set out with a small force from that city, intending to create a revolution in Honduras. He reached Trujillo and issued a proclamation against the government; but his arrest was demanded by the commander of the British man-of-war " Icarus," and he was forced to retreat to Tinto river, where he surrendered on 3 September, 1860. The commander of the "Icarus" delivered him to the Honduras authorities on their demand, and he was tried by court-martial and shot. He published " The War in Nicaragua " (Mobile, 1860). See also "Walker's Expedition to Nicaragua" by William Vincent Wells (New York, 1856) and " Reminiscences of the Filibuster War in Nicaragua," by Colonel Charles W. Doubleday (1886).

Monday, June 16, 2003

Here are two notes of interest to you I have on Robert W. Shufeldt.

U.S. Navy lieutenant, "resigned from the service to become a merchant ship captain for the New York and Alabama Steamship Company while John Quitman was planing the Cuba expedition. He quit the conspiracy fearing that the Spanish authorities might detain him in Cuba during his biweekly voyages to Havana. (Robert May, Manifest Destiny's Underworld, 34)
"Havana. Arrival of the Quaker City." The United States Mail steamship Quaker City, R. W. Shufeldt, Commander, left New-Orleans on the morning of the 12th inst. for New York via Havana at which port she arived at 9 A.M. of the 14th after a rapid run of forty-eight hours from city to city; left Havana evening of same dayfor this port and arrived at her wharf at 6 o'clock last evening. The Quaker City brings 174 passengers, $118,000 in silver spicie, a full cargo for this port. (N. Y. Times, May 19, 1859, 4).
I have also enjoyed your website.
Regarding my review of Tom Chaffin's book, not only is it badly researched and written because he does not understand Spanish, but I have compared where he ripped off every single reference to Portell Vila from my Ph.D. dissertation. That makes him an "authority" on rip-offs.
This is the biography of Robert Wilson Shufeldt who negotiated with Quitman in Mobile in 1854 for the command of the filibuster navy the junta planned to send to Cuba. At the time Shufeldt was commander of the side wheeler, Cahawba(I believe this should read "Catawba"), which the junta negotiated to purchase from the New York and Alabama Steamship Company
SHUFELDT, Robert Wilson, naval officer, born in Red Hook, Dutchess County, New York, 21 February, 1822. He entered the navy as a midshipman, 11 May, 1839, was attached to the naval school at Philadelphia in 1844-'5, and became a passed midshipman, 2 July, 1845. He was promoted to master, 21 February, 1853, and to lieutenant, 26 October, 1853, but resigned from the navy, 20 June, 1854, and was connected with the Collins line of Liverpool steamers as chief officer for two years. He then commanded the steamers "Black Warrior" and "Catawba" on the line between New York and New Orleans, and had charge of the party that surveyed the Isthmus of Tehuantepec for a railroad and interoceanic canal. When the civil war began he was in command of the steamer "Quaker City," of the New York and Havana line of steamers, and was appointed United States consul-general at Havana. In April, 1863, he resigned, and was reinstated in the navy with a commission of commander, dated 19 November, 1862. He was given the steamer " Conemaugh," on the blockade at Charleston, where he participated in the engagements on Morris island. He commanded the steamer "Boteus," of the Eastern Gulf blockading squadron, in 1864-'6. After the war he had the "Hartford" of the East India squadron, in 1865-'6, and the "Wachusett," of the Asiatic squadron, in 1866-'8. He was commissioned captain, 31 December, 1869, and commanded the monitor "Miantonomoh " in 1870, after which he had charge of the Tehuantepec and Nicaraguan surveying expeditions of 1870-'1. He was chief of the bureau of equipment and recruiting in the navy department in 1875-'8, and was commissioned commodore, 21 September, 1876. In 1879-'80 he sailed in the "Ti-Conderoga" oil a special mission to Africa and tile East Indies, to ascertain and report on the prospects for the revival of American trade with those countries. While he was on this expedition the sultan of Zanzibar, Said Barghash, presented him with a sword. He was promoted to rear-admiral on 7 May, 1883, and was retired, 21 February, 1884.

Decided to go back to what I'm supposed to do: show the CUBAMA CONNECTION: blockade runners and soldiers of fortune. 1862 John Newland Maffitt was given command of the Confederacy’s first commerce raider, Florida. May 4, 1862, then commanded her until October 1863. At some point during his command he was photographed by a Northern firm, C.D. Fredericks & Co., based in New York. However, they had branch operations in Havana, Cuba, and Paris, and it is at one of these that Maffitt sat for his photograph. On August 7, 1863, Maffit was promoted to commander. The commander’s cap badge bore two stars, while the cap badge in Maffitt’s photograph bears the single star of a lieutenant.

Maffitt was twice in Havana when in command of the Florida. The first time was in early August 1862, when the crew was struck with yellow fever. Maffitt had to put into a port. On August 19 he anchored off Cardenas, Cuba. The local Confederate official then reported to Richmond that Maffitt was “prostrated by yellow fever” and unable to comply. He was deathly ill for ten days, but recovered to take the ship to Havana on September 1. Unable to get necessary help there, however, a still ill Maffitt put to sea that night for Mobile. It’s unlikely the photo was taken then.

The second time was on January 20, 1863. The log entry for January 21, reads, “Many persons visited the ship. We were enthusiastically welcomed at Havana.” On January 22 the Florida left Havana. Certainly Maffitt would have had a chance to have his photograph taken between the 21st and the 22nd, while leaving his executive officer to oversee coaling operations.

In August 1863 the Florida, badly needing repairs, put into Brest, France. Maffitt left the ship there in October to return to the Confederacy. He was then a commander, with a new cap badge, but could have visited Paris with his old hat to be photographed then. However, Maffitt is more likely to have taken advantage of being in Europe to obtain a new uniform

JANUARY 16,1863- C.S.S. Florida, Lieutenant John N. Maffitt, ran the blockade out of Mobile in the early morning after having remained in that port for some 4 months in order to complete repairs to her equip-ment. Confusion in the blockading fleet enabled Florida to escape, for the Confederate commerce raider passed within 300 yards of U.S.S. R.R. Cuyler, Commander George F. Emmons. Upon her arrival at Havana on 20 January to debark prisoners from her first prize, U.S. Consul-General Robert W. Shufeldt described the raider: ''The Florida is a bark-rigged propeller, quite fast under steam and canvas; has two smoke-stacks fore and aft of each other, close together; has a battery of four 42's or 68's of a side, and two large pivot guns. Her crew consists of 135 men . . . is a wooden vessel of about 1,500 tons." Farragut was concerned by Florida's escape: "This squadron, as Sam Barron used to say, 'is eating its dirt now'-Galveston skedaddled, the Hatteras sunk by the Alabama, and now the Oreto [Florida] out. . . . The Admiral's son, Loyall Farragut, com-pleted the letter: ''Father's eyes have given out; so I will finish this letter. He has been very much worried at these things, but still tries to bear it like a philosopher. He knows he has done all in his power to avert it, with the vessels at his disposal. If the Government had only let him take Mobile when he wished to, the Oreto would never have run out."

Captain Semmes, with a keen interest in the advancement of scientific knowledge, recorded the following observation from on board C.S.S. Alabama.' . . . the old theory of Dr. Franklin and others, was, that the Gulf Stream, which flows out of the Gulf of Mexico, between the north coast of Cuba, and the Florida Reefs and Keys, flows into the Gulf, through the channel between the west end of Cuba, and the coast of Yucatan, in which the Alabama now was. But the effectual disproof of this theory is, that we know positively, from the strength of the current, and its volume, or cross section, in the two passages, that more than twice the quantity of water flows out of the Gulf of Mexico, than flows into it through this passage. Upon Dr. Franklin's theory, the Gulf of Mexico in a very short time would become dry ground. Nor can the Mississippi River, which is the only stream worth noticing, in this connection, that flows into the' Gulf of Mexico, come to his relief, as we have seen that that river only empties into the Gulf of Mexico, about one three thousandth part as much water, as the Gulf Stream takes out. We must resort, of necessity, to an under-current from the north, passing into the Gulf of Mexico, under the Gulf Stream, rising to the surface when heated, and thus swelling the volume of the outflowing water."

Sunday, June 15, 2003


Click on the URL above to actually see a sidewheeler similar to the Mobile-Havana blockade-runners leave the dock.