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Final Web December 2015 Web

December 2015

Northeast North Carolina

Northeast North Carolina Family History - “O Tannenbaum…” By: Irene Hampton - nencfamilyhistory@gmail.com One of my favorite Christmas memories is shopping for a Christmas tree. The fir trees were stored in the local Boy Scout/Girl Guide building where the heat was turned off. Not a big issue in the south, but in the Canadian Rockies it was about as cold in the building as it was outside. As a family we would go to pick out a tree and walk up and down the racks guessing what each tree would look like. Why guessing? Because the limbs were all frozen together! After choosing the one we all agreed had the most potential, we would load the frozen specimen into our trunk, get it home and set it up and wait. As the limbs thawed, they would fall into the shape we had to work with. My mom, always the industrious former farm girl, would trim the lower limbs and drill holes where gaps were evident, filling them with the aforementioned trimmed limbs. My husband and I have had a few tree adventures of our own. One year we decided to go to a tree farm and cut a fresh one, which was a wonderful family activity. Once we got home we set up our tree and commenced decorating it. All was well until the warmer conditions in our home woke up the hibernating insects… Another year we got artsy and cut a deciduous tree, wrapped it in cotton and then decorated it. Not quite the magazine version, but my husband liked it enough that he still talks about it. The smell of a fir tree reminds me of the forests back home, so for the time being we are still putting up a cut tree – now if I could find a way to move a mountain within viewing distance… Not all memories of the holiday season are happy and for some this time of year accentuates a time of loss. For many years I fell in that category. On the sixth of December 1985, my father died one day before his eighty-first birthday. Most people were well into the holiday spirit and explaining why we were traveling in normally cheery circumstances was hard. I accompanied my mother as she returned gifts she had bought for my father and the reason for the return always being asked, necessitated explaining that the person for whom they had been intended had died. It was many years before that feeling of sorrow didn’t cast a shadow over my Christmas celebration. This December marks thirty years since my father’s unexpected death. The years have softened the heartache and I cherish my memories. My father married and had children late in life. He was a very reserved man, “kept himself to himself.” I really know very little about his life. When I went home for his funeral I tape recorded my mother’s memories of him as well as her remembrances growing up on the Canadian prairies during the dirty thirties as the oldest of 11 children. I deeply regret it took my father’s death to spur me to ask detailed questions about my family, many answers I will never know. This leads me to revisit a point I made in my first column. I quoted a New York Times article “The Stories That Bind Us” in which two psychologists concluded after a battery of tests that the more children know about their family history the stronger the sense of control they have over their lives. They also concluded they had higher self-esteem and functioned more successfully in their family. If you didn’t gather together for Thanksgiving, please make a point in whatever your family gathering is this season, to discuss, record, preserve and pass on what it is that has made your family who you are. Give the gift of sharing over the dinner table what you know about your ancestors, stories about your own childhood and do it often. If there is one thing I would not want to share with anyone it is the thirty years of wishing I had done differently. Irene Hampton earned a Certificate in Genealogy from Brigham Young University and worked as the Genealogical/Local history Researcher for the Pasquotank-Camden Library for over 12 years. She has also abstracted and published “Widow’s Years Provisions, 1881-1899, Pasquotank County, North Carolina”; “1840 Currituck, North Carolina Federal Census” and “Record of Marriages, Book A (1851-1867) Currituck County, North Carolina”. You may contact her at nencfamilyhistory@gmail.com. 26 Albemarle Tradewinds December 2015 albemarletradewinds.com

CSS Albemarle was a steam-powered ironclad ram of the Confederate Navy (and later the second Albemarle of the United States Navy), named for a town and a sound in North Carolina. All three were named for General George Monck, the first Duke of Albemarle and one of the original Carolina Lords Proprietor. Construction of the ironclad began in January 1863 and continued on during the next year. Word of the gunboat reached the Union naval officers stationed in the region, raising an alarm. They appealed to the War Department for an overland expedition to destroy the ship, to be christened Albemarle after the body of water into which the Roanoke emptied, but the Union Army never felt it could not spare the troops needed to carry out such a mission; it was a decision that would prove to be short-sighted. In April 1864 the newly commissioned Confederate States Steamer Albemarle, under the command of Captain James W. Cooke, got underway down-river toward Plymouth, North Carolina; its mission was to clear the river of all Union vessels so that General Robert F. Hoke’s troops could storm the forts located there. However, the USS Miami and USS Southfield, lashed together with spars and chains, approached from up-river, attempting to pass on either side of Albemarle in order to trap her between them. Captain Cooke turned heavily to starboard, getting outboard of Southfield, but running dangerously close to the southern shore. Turning back sharply into the river, he rammed the Union sidewheeler, driving her under; Albemarle‘​s ram became trapped in Southfield‘​s hull from the force of the blow, and her bow was pulled under as well. As Southfield sank she rolled over before settling on the riverbed; this action released the death grip that held the new Confederate ram. Miami fired a shell into Albemarle at point-blank range while she was trapped by the wreck of Southfield, but the shell rebounded off Albemarle’​s sloping iron armor and exploded on Miami, killing her commanding officer, Captain Charles W. Flusser. Miami ‘​s crew attempted to board Albemarle to capture her but were soon driven back by heavy musket fire; Miami then steered clear of the ironclad and escaped into Albemarle Sound.With the river now clear of Union ships, and with the assistance of Albemarle ‘​s rifled cannon, General Hoke attacked and took Plymouth and the nearby forts. Albemarle successfully dominated the Roanoke and the approaches to Plymouth through the summer of 1864. The U. S. Navy considered various ways to destroy Albemarle, including two plans submitted by Lieutenant William B. Cushing; they finally approved one of his plans, authorizing him to locate two small steam launches that might be fitted with spar torpedoes. On the night of October 27 and 28, 1864, Cushing and his team began working their way upriver. A small cutter accompanied them, its crew having the task of preventing interference by the Confederate sentries stationed on a schooner anchored to the wreck of Southfield; both boats, under the cover of darkness, slipped past the schooner undetected. So Cushing decided to use all twenty-two of his men and the element of surprise to capture Albemarle. As they approached the Confederate docks their luck turned, and they were spotted in the dark. They came under heavy rifle and pistol fire from both the shore and aboard Albemarle. As they closed on the ironclad, they quickly discovered she was defended against approach by floating log booms. The logs, however, had been in the water for many months and were covered with heavy slime. The steam launch rode up and then over them without difficulty; with her spar fully against the ironclad’s hull, Cushing stood up in the bow and pulled the lanyard, detonating the torpedo’s explosive charge. The explosion threw Cushing and his men overboard into the water; Cushing then stripped off most of his uniform and swam to shore, where he hid undercover until daylight, avoiding the hastily organized Confederate search parties. The next afternoon, he was finally able to steal a small skiff and began slowly paddling, using his hands and arms as oars, down-river to rejoin Union forces at the river’s mouth. Cushing’s long journey was quite perilous and he was nearly captured and almost drowned before finally reaching safety, totally exhausted by his ordeal; he was hailed a national hero of the Union cause for his daring exploits. Of the other men in Cushing’s launch, one also escaped, two were drowned following to the explosion, and the rest were captured. Cushing’s daring commando raid blew a hole in Albemarle’​s hull at the waterline “big enough to drive a wagon in.” She sank immediately in the six feet of water below her keel, settling into the heavy river bottom mud. Lieutenant Cushing’s successful effort to neutralize CSS Albemarle is honored by the U. S. Navy with a battle star on the Civil War campaign streamer. After the fall of Plymouth, the U. S. Navy raised and temporarily hull-patched the Confederate ram. Near the end of the war, the Union gunboat USS Ceres towed the Albemarle to the Norfolk Navy Yard, where she arrived on 27 April 1865. On 7 June orders were issued to repair her hull, and she entered dry dock soon thereafter. The work was completed on 14 August 1865. Two weeks later, the ironclad was judged condemned by a Washington, D.C. prize court. She saw no active naval service after being placed in ordinary at Norfolk, where she remained until she was finally sold at public auction on 15 October 1867 to J. N. Leonard and Company. She was probably scrapped for salvage. One of her 6.4-inch (160 mm) double-banded Brooke rifled cannon is on display at the Headquarters of the Commander-in-Chief U. S. Atlantic Command at the Norfolk, Virginia, Naval base. Her smokestack is on display at the Museum of the Albemarle in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. A 3/8 scale, 63 foot (19.2m) replica of the Albemarle has been at anchor near the Port O’ Plymouth Museum in Plymouth, North Carolina, since April, 2002. The replica is self-powered and capable of sailing on the river. Each year the CSS Albemarle takes to the water during Living History Weekend, the last weekend in April each year. For more information check out these websites: http://www.fortbranchcivilwarsite.com/ http://www.livinghistoryweekend.com/ Source: Wikipedia facebook.com/AlbemarleTradingPost Albemarle Tradewinds December 2015 27