Old Sailors' Almanac


Week 15, 2018

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American Civil War: Fort Sumter surrenders to Confederate forces on April 13, 1861

American Civil War: Fort Sumter surrenders to Confederate forces on April 13, 1861

American Civil War: Fort Sumter surrenders to Confederate forces: Fort Sumter is an island fortification located in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina. Originally constructed in 1829 as a coastal garrison, Fort Sumter is most famous for being the site of the first shots of the Civil War (1861-65). U.S. Major Robert Anderson occupied the unfinished fort in December 1860 following South Carolina’s secession from the Union, initiating a standoff with the state’s militia forces. When President Abraham Lincoln announced plans to resupply the fort, Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard bombarded Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861. After a 34-hour exchange of artillery fire, Anderson and 86 soldiers surrendered the fort on April 13. Confederate troops then occupied Fort Sumter for nearly four years, resisting several bombardments by Union forces before abandoning the garrison prior to William T. Sherman’s capture of Charleston in February 1865. After the Civil War, Fort Sumter was restored by the U.S. military and manned during the Spanish-American War (1898), World War I (1914-18) and World War II (1939-45).

Fort Sumter: Construction and Design

Fort Sumter was first built in the wake of the War of 1812 (1812-1815), which had highlighted the United States’ lack of strong coastal defenses. Named for Revolutionary War general and South Carolina native Thomas Sumter, Fort Sumter was one of nearly 50 forts built as part of the so-called Third System, a coastal defense program implemented by Congress in 1817. The three-tiered, five-sided fort’s coastal placement was designed to allow it to control access to the vital Charleston Harbor. While the island itself was only 2.4 acres in size, the fort was built to accommodate a garrison of 650 soldiers and 135 artillery pieces.

Construction of Fort Sumter first began in 1829 in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina, on a manmade island built from thousands of tons of granite. Building ground to a halt in the 1830s amid a dispute over ownership of the stretch of the harbor, and did not resume until 1841. Like many Third System fortifications, Fort Sumter proved a costly endeavor, and construction slowed again in 1859 due to lack of funding. By 1860 the island and the outer fortifications were complete, but the fort’s interior and armaments remained unfinished.

Fort Sumter: The First Battle of Fort Sumter

Construction of Fort Sumter was still underway when South Carolina seceded from the Union on December 20, 1860. Despite Charleston’s position as a major port, at the time only two companies of federal troops guarded the harbor. Commanded by Major Robert Anderson (1805-1871), these companies were stationed at Fort Moultrie, a dilapidated fortification facing the coastline. Recognizing that Fort Moultrie was vulnerable to a land assault, Anderson elected to abandon it for the more easily defensible Fort Sumter on December 26, 1860. South Carolina militia forces would seize the city’s other forts shortly thereafter, leaving Fort Sumter as the lone federal outpost in Charleston.

A standoff ensued until January 9, 1861, when a ship called the Star of the West arrived in Charleston with over 200 U.S. troops and supplies intended for Fort Sumter. South Carolina militia batteries fired upon the vessel as it neared Charleston Harbor, forcing it to turn back to sea. Major Anderson refused repeated calls to abandon Fort Sumter, and by March 1861 there were over 3,000 militia troops besieging his garrison. A number of other U.S. military facilities in the Deep South had already been seized, and Fort Sumter was viewed by many as one of the South’s few remaining hurdles to overcome before achieving sovereignty.

With the inauguration of President Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) in March 1861, the situation soon escalated. Knowing that Anderson and his men were running out of supplies, Lincoln announced his intention to send three unarmed ships to relieve Fort Sumter. Having already declared that any attempt to resupply the fort would be seen as an act of aggression, South Carolina militia forces soon scrambled to respond. On April 11, militia commander P.G.T. Beauregard (1818-1893) demanded that Anderson surrender the fort, but Anderson again refused. In response Beauregard opened fire on Fort Sumter shortly after 4:30 a.m. on April 12, 1861. U.S. Captain Abner Doubleday (1819-1893)—later famous for the myth that he invented baseball—ordered the first shots in defense of the fort a few hours later.

Beauregard’s 19 coastal batteries unleashed a punishing barrage on Fort Sumter, eventually firing an estimated 3,000 shots at the citadel in 34 hours. By Saturday, April 13, cannon fire had broken through the fortress’s five-foot-thick brick walls, causing fires inside the post. With his stores of ammunition depleted, Anderson was forced to surrender the fort shortly after 2 p.m. in the afternoon. No Union troops had been killed during the bombardment, but two men died the following day in an explosion that occurred during an artillery salute held before the U.S. evacuation. The bombardment of Fort Sumter would play a major part in triggering the Civil War. In the days following the assault, Lincoln issued a call for Union volunteers to quash the rebellion, while more Southern states including Virginia, North Carolina and Tennessee cast their lot with the Confederacy.

Fort Sumter: Later Civil War Engagements

Following Beauregard’s bombardment in 1861, Confederate forces occupied Fort Sumter and used it to marshal a defense of Charleston Harbor. Once it was completed and better armed, Fort Sumter allowed the Confederates to create a valuable hole in the Union blockade of the Atlantic seaboard.

The first Union assault on Fort Sumter came in April 1863, when Rear Admiral Samuel Francis Du Pont (1803-1865) attempted a naval attack on Charleston. Commander of the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron, Du Pont arrived in Charleston with a fleet of nine ironclad warships, seven of which were updated versions of the famed USS Monitor.

While Du Pont had hoped to recapture Fort Sumter—by then a symbol of the Confederate rebellion—his attack was poorly coordinated and met with unfavorable weather conditions. In collaboration with Fort Sumter, Confederate batteries commanded by P.G.T. Beauregard hammered the ironclad fleet with artillery fire, and underwater mines posed a constant threat to the ships’ hulls. Outgunned and unable to properly maneuver in heavy currents, Du Pont’s fleet eventually withdrew from the harbor after taking over 500 hits by Confederate guns. Only one Union soldier was killed during the battle, but one of the ironclads, the Keokuk, sank the next day. Five Confederates were killed during the attack, but the damage to Fort Sumter was soon repaired and its defenses improved. Confederate soldiers even managed to salvage one of the Keokuk’s 11-inch Dahlgren guns and mount it on the fortress.

In July 1863 Union troops laid siege to Fort Wagner, a valuable post on Morris Island near the mouth of Charleston Harbor. After being met with heavy fire from Fort Sumter, Union General Quincy Adams Gillmore (1825-1888) turned his guns on the fort and unleashed a devastating seven-day bombardment. On September 8 a force of nearly 400 Union troops attempted to land at Fort Sumter and capture the post by force. Union Rear Admiral John Dahlgren (1809-1870) mistakenly believed the fort was manned by a skeleton crew, but the landing party was met by over 300 Confederate infantry, who easily repulsed the assault.

Following the failed infantry attack, Union forces on Morris Island recommenced their bombing campaign on Fort Sumter. Over the next 15 months, Union artillery effectively leveled Fort Sumter, eventually firing nearly 50,000 projectiles at the fort between September 1863 and February 1865. Despite suffering over 300 casualties from the Union bombardments, the beleaguered Confederate garrison managed to retain control of the fort until February 1865. Only when Union General William T. Sherman was poised to capture Charleston did the Confederates finally evacuate. Union forces would reclaim Fort Sumter on February 22, 1865. Robert A. Anderson and Abner Doubleday, the two commanding officers from the original siege of Fort Sumter, would both return to the fortress on April 14, 1865, for a flag raising ceremony.

History Channel / Wikipedia / Britannica Encyclopedia / Civil War.org / U.S. National Park Service / Smithsonian American Civil War: Fort Sumter surrenders to Confederate forces (YouTube) video

Understanding Military Terminology: Scout of Many Trails (Sea Scout and Boy Scout look at globe with old sailor) ~ Norman Rockwell

Understanding Military Terminology - Military standard transportation and movement procedures

(DOD) Uniform and standard transportation data, documentation, and control procedures applicable to all cargo movements in the Department of Defense transportation system. Also called MILSTAMP.

Joint Publications (JP 4-01) The Defense Transportation System

U.S. Navy photo by PH2 (NAC) David C. Mercil

The Old Salt’s Corner

Battlegroup Commanders

The overall battlegroup commander is the Composite Warfare Commander (CWC) who acts as the central command authority for the entire battlegroup.

The CWC designates subordinate warfare commanders are assigned to the:

CWC for air warfare (AWC),

Surface warfare (SUWC) undersea warfare (USWC),

Strike (STWC) and space and electronic warfare commander (C2W).

Supporting the CWC and his warfare commanders are coordinators who manage force sensors and assets within the battlegroup.

The CWC must remain cognizant of the tactical picture in all warfare areas and must be able to correlate information from external sources that develop locally. Generally, three prerequisites are necessary to adequately maintain the tactical picture: communications to disseminate information; displays to retain it; and a watch staff to understand and interpret it.

“I’m Just Sayin’”

“I’m Just Sayin”

“Never discourage anyone

who continually makes progress,

no matter how slow.”

~ Plato

“Thought for the Day”

“Thought for the Day”

“People do not quit playing

because they grow old;

they grow old because

they quit playing.”

~ Oliver Wendell Holmes

“What I Have Learned”

“What I Have Learned”

“The six most important words: I admit I made a mistake.

The five most important words: You did a good job.

The four most important words: What is YOUR opinion?

The three most important words: If you please.

The two most important words: Thank You.

The one most important word: We.

The least important word: I.”

~ Anonymous

Bizarre News (we couldn’t make up stuff this good – real news story)

Bizarre News (we couldn’t make up stuff this good – real news story)

Why is Friday 13th unlucky? What has happened on the date?

Why is Friday 13th unlucky? What has happened on the date?

That’s because the rare occurrence where the 13th day of a month falls on a Friday is not exactly popular with most people.

It’s thought to be downright cursed.

Is it because a really bad franchise of American horror films about a machete-wielding killer who never dies, and wears a hockey mask, was named Friday 13th? No, not really.

The Friday 13th movies were named after a very old superstition surrounding the date, which usually occurs between one and three times per year.

The fear of this single date is called paraskevidekatriaphobia (from the Greek), and it’s a spin-off of the more common fear of the number 13 (triskaidekaphobia).

Why is Friday 13th unlucky? What has happened on the date?

Many people believe that the superstition is rooted in the crucifixion.

After all, Jesus Christ was betrayed on a Friday, and at the Last Supper there were 13 individuals present in the Upper Room.

This is evidenced in paintings of the Last Supper, when you count all the people at the table, including Christ himself.

Why is Friday 13th unlucky? What has happened on the date?

However, we also have the stock market to blame for Friday 13th hysteria. A 1907 novel by Thomas W. Lawson called Friday, the Thirteenth helped spread awareness of the date.

The novel is about a stockbroker who decides to create a financial panic around the date itself in order to take advantage of the result.

It begins: “Friday, the 13th; I thought as much. If Bob has started, there will be hell, but I will see what I can do.”

If that wasn’t enough, some other novels, including those by Dan Brown, seem to link the fear back to Friday 13th October 1307.

This is the date when King Philip IV of France ordered the arrest of the Knights of the Templar, a Catholic military order.

Yet in Spain and Greece, Tuesday 13th is thought to be the unlucky date, while Italians believe Friday 17th is a day of doom.

Why is Friday 13th unlucky? What has happened on the date?

Beyond all this, no one quite knows the logic behind why everyone should have something to fear on a particular date.

But if you see a masked man in a ripped parka in a dark alleyway this Friday, you better run.

METRO (04/11/2018) video

Are There Number 1 Pencils? Are there Pencils other than Number 2? What are they good for?

Mr. Answer Man Please Tell Us: Are There Number 1 Pencils? Are there Pencils other than Number 2? What are they good for?

Almost every syllabus, teacher, and standardized test points to the ubiquitous No. 2 pencil, but are there other choices out there?

Pencil makers manufacture No. 1, 2, 2.5, 3, and 4 pencils—and sometimes other intermediate numbers. The higher the number, the harder the core and lighter the markings. (No. 1 pencils produce darker markings, which are sometimes preferred by people working in publishing.)

The current style of production is profiled after pencils developed in 1794 by Nicolas-Jacques Conté. Before Conté, pencil hardness varied from location to location and maker to maker. The earliest pencils were made by filling a wood shaft with raw graphite, leading to the need for a trade-wide recognized method of production.

Conté’s method involved mixing powdered graphite with finely ground clay; that mixture was shaped into a long cylinder and then baked in an oven. The proportion of clay versus graphite added to a mixture determines the hardness of the lead. Although the method may be agreed upon, the way various companies categorize and label pencils isn't.

Today, many U.S. companies use a numbering system for general-purpose, writing pencils that specifies how hard the lead is. For graphic and artist pencils and for companies outside the U.S., systems get a little complicated, using a combination of numbers and letters known as the HB Graphite Scale.

Are There Number 1 Pencils? Are there Pencils other than Number 2? What are they good for?

“H” indicates hardness and “B” indicates blackness. Lowest on the scale is 9H, indicating a pencil with extremely hard lead that produces a light mark. On the opposite end of the scale, 9B represents a pencil with extremely soft lead that produces a dark mark. (“F” also indicates a pencil that sharpens to a fine point.) The middle of the scale shows the letters and numbers that correspond to everyday writing utensils: B = No. 1 pencils, HB = No. 2, F = No. 2½, H = No. 3, and 2H = No. 4 (although exact conversions depend on the brand).

So why are testing centers such sticklers about using only No. 2 pencils?

They cooperate better with technology because early machines used the electrical conductivity of the lead to read the pencil marks. Early scanning-and-scoring machines couldn't detect marks made by harder pencils, so No. 3 and No. 4 pencils usually resulted in erroneous results. Softer pencils like No. 1s smudge, so they're just impractical to use. So No. 2 pencils became the industry standard.

Artists NetworkMental FlossPencils.comQuoraWikipediaHow Pencils Are Made? (YouTube) video

NAVSPEAK aka U.S. Navy Slang - U.S. Navy

NAVSPEAK aka U.S. Navy Slang

Scullery: The washroom on board a ship for eating implements such as knives, forks, trays, and cups.

Scupper: 1) (Surface Navy) Opening in a bulwark which allows water to drain overboard.

(2) (Submarine Service) A funnel-like device used to collect rogue liquids (usually from overflowing tanks in engineering spaces), as free openings to the outside are frowned upon in submarine design.

Scupper Trout: Sewage solids which have washed overboard, or have been pumped overboard. Also called “Cornbacked Gator” or “Brown Trout.”

Just for MARINES - The Few. The Proud.

Just for you MARINE

Un-fuck: To correct a deficiency, usually on a person.

Under Arms: Status of having a weapon, sidearm, “MP” or “SP” brassard, or wearing equipment pertaining to an arm such as a sword sling, pistol belt, or cartridge belt as part of guard duty; Marines under arms do not remove covers indoors.

Under Canvas: Living under temporary sheltering, such as a tent.

Under Way: o depart or to start a process for an objective.

Naval Aviation Squadron Nicknames

Naval Aviation Squadron Nicknames

VFA-87 - “Golden Warriors”
Naval Air Station Oceana, Virginia Beach, Virginia - Established February 1, 1968

Where Did That Saying Come From

Where Did That Saying Come From?

Where Did That Saying Come From? “By the Book”

By the Book”  Meaning: Correctly; according to the rules.

Origin: Which book? Well, the Bible sounds like a good guess. That may be so, as the early meaning of the phrase was 'I swear it to be true', as in the oaths taken in courtrooms.

An example of that usage, is recorded in The Times, January 1833:

“Patience in troth! By the book, it's myself is the moral o' patience!”

The present meaning also emerged around the same time. The earliest citation I can find is from the mid-19th century - in Edgar Allan Poe's Murders in Rue Morgue, 1845:

“To have a retentive memory, and to proceed by 'the book', are points commonly regarded as the sum total of good playing.”

Phrases.org UK

The Strange, Mysterious or Downright Weird

The Strange, Mysterious or Downright Weird

Russian Government Says Not to Worry About These 54 Severed Human Hands Found in Siberia

Russian Government Says Not to Worry About These 54 Severed Human Hands Found in Siberia

Macabre bag containing 27 pairs of human hands found in bag on Amur River island. Mystery over who the hands belonged to, when they were chopped off, and why. GRAPHIC IMAGES

A fisherman in Siberia made a grim discovery yesterday (March 8) while walking near the icy Amur River: 27 pairs of human hands, severed at the wrist and stuffed into a bag. Russian authorities said the hands were likely disposed of by a local forensics lab, bucking proper protocol.

According to the Siberian Times, the fisherman found the bag of hands on a small river island near the city of Khabarovsk, Russia, located in the country's far southeast about 18.6 miles (30 kilometers) from the Chinese border. The Amur River is a popular local fishing destination, the Times reported.

Initially, the fisherman saw only one hand sticking up out of the snow there, and discovered the full bag soon after. Photos taken at the scene and shared anonymously to Russian media reveal the discovery in brutal detail. In one image, the 54 hands lie in a haphazard pile in the snow like leathery catcher's mitts, seemingly upended from the bag; in another photo, the hands have been lined up in neat rows. [27 Oddest Medical Case Reports]

While many social media spectators (naturally) suspect foul play, officials from the Investigative Committee of The Russian Federation - a government agency responsible for criminal investigations - have said that the hands appear to have been improperly disposed of by a forensics lab in Khabarovsk.

“The biological objects (hands) found are not of a criminal origin”, the Investigative Committee wrote in a post (as translated) on the messaging app Telegram, “but were disposed of in a manner not provided for by law.”

Indeed, medical bandages and plastic hospital-style shoes were discovered near the hands. According to the Siberian Times, it's not unheard of for forensics labs in Russia to cut off the hands of unknown corpses in order to retain fingerprint information after the rest of the body has been discarded. Despite this possible explanation, investigators have been able to lift fingerprints from only one of the 27 pairs of hands. Little is known about the hands' previous owners.

“Based on the [investigation] results, a legal assessment will be made of the actions of officials of the forensic medical institution in the city of Khabarovsk responsible for the disposal of these biological objects”, the Investigative Committee wrote.

Live Science (03/08/2018) video

© CEASAR CHOPPY by cartoonist Marty Gavin - archives Ceasar Choppy's Navy! “© CEASAR CHOPPY” by Marty Gavin


“Ramblin’ Man” - The Allman Brothers Band 1973

“Ramblin’ Man” - The Allman Brothers Band
Album: Brothers And Sisters
Released 1973 video

Allman's guitarist Dickey Betts wrote this song, taking the title from the 1951 Hank Williams song “Ramblin' Manvideo. Betts also sang lead on the track, which he described as mostly autobiographical, telling the story of a guy whose travels take him to many places, and who takes life as it comes.

“When I was a kid, my dad was in construction and used to les move the family band and forth between central Florida's east and west coasts”, he said in the book Anatomy of a Song. “I'd go to one school for a year and then the other the next. I had two sets of friends and spent a lot of time in the back seat of a Greyhound bus. Ramblin' was in my blood.”

This was the first Allman Brothers Band single recorded without their leader, Duane Allman, who was killed in a 1971 motorcycle accident. Duane's work is on their 1972 album Eat a Peach, but for their next album, Brothers and Sisters, they had to fill the creative and sonic void left by his passing. Dickey Betts stepped up in a big way with “Ramblin' Man”, which became the group's biggest hit and proved they could survive the loss.

A key line in this song emerged in 1969 when Dickey Betts was playing in various bands in Florida. He would often stay with a friend, Kenny Harwick, who had a habit of asking questions and then answering them. One day, he asked Betts how he was doing and then answered for him:

“I bet you're just trying to make a living and doing the best you can.”

Betts held onto that line until 1972, when he wrote the rest of the lyric at the house the band shared in Macon, Georgia.

The five-second intro on this track is very effective, making the song instantly identifiable and launching it right into the chorus. Betts called it “a fiddle-like opener built on a pentatonic scale” (his dad played the fiddle). That section is his guitar and Chuck Leavell's piano.

After a chorus/verse/chorus/guitar solo/verse/chorus, the song resolves for another two minutes in an intricate section inspired by the end of “Laylavideo, a track Duane Allman played on. This was Dickey Betts' idea. To accomplish it, he first tried overdubbing lots of guitar parts, but then recruited his friend Les Dudek, who was in the studio, to play lead with him, as Duane would have. They played together, creating a bed by repeating the guitar line over and over, then doing it again in a lower register, which they then overdubbed onto the track. Betts then overdubbed a lead part on slide guitar, coming in and out of the track as he listened to the bed.

This section served as a tribute to Duane Allman, as it built on the twin-guitar harmony sound he forged with the band. It also gave the band lots of room to show their chops when they played it live.

The Allman Brothers Band official website / Billboard / All Music / Song Facts / Ultimate Classic Rock / The Allman Brothers Band

Image: “Brothers And Sisters (album)” by The Allman Brothers Band



● The films The Bridges at Toko-Ri, the Manchurian Candidate, and M*A*S*H were all related to the Korean War.

● Ernest Hemingway wrote “The Old Man and the Sea”.

● Before his military and later political life, George Washington served as surveyor and farmer (planter).


A Test for People Who Know Everything

From the Jeopardy Archives Category - “LITTLE RED CORVETTE” ($1,000):

“At the 2005 Indy 500, Colin Powell drove a red Corvette that served this pre-contest function.”

Answer for People Who Do Not Know Everything, or Want to Verify Their Answer Autotrader

From the Jeopardy Archives Category - “BAT DANCE” ($1,000):

“With a wingspan of over 5 feet, one of the largest bats is the giant golden-crowned type of this alliterative bat.”

Answer for People Who Do Not Know Everything, or Want to Verify Their Answer Bats.org

From the Jeopardy Archives Category - “'U' GOT THE LOOK” ($1,000):

“Referring to its weight, it's the type of recreational aircraft seen here.”

Answer for People Who Do Not Know Everything, or Want to Verify Their Answer EAA.org

Answer to Last Week's Test

From the Jeopardy Archives Category - “LUCK OF THE DRAW” ($200):

“(Sarah of the Clue Crew shows a walk cycle on the monitor.) From the Latin for 'instill with life', it's the creation of a motion picture from a series of still images.”

● Answer: Animation. Encyclopedia Britannica

From the Jeopardy Archives Category - “LUCK OF THE DRAW” ($600):

“(Kelly of the Clue Crew demonstrates by drawing a bird.) To draw in this liberated style means without support or the guidance of instruments.”

● Answer: Freehand. Encyclopedia Britannica

From the Jeopardy Archives Category - “LUCK OF THE DRAW” ($1,000)

“To draw with the aid of rulers, scales & compasses is this precise kind of technical drawing.”

● Answer: Drafting. Encyclopedia Britannica

Joke of the Day

Joke of the Day

Joke of the Day

“A lawyer, blonde stewardess and frozen crabs”

A lawyer boarded an airplane in New Orleans with a box of frozen crabs and asked a blonde stewardess to take care of them for him.

She took the box and promised to put it in the crew's refrigerator. He advised her that he was holding her personally responsible for them staying frozen, mentioning in a very haughty manner that he was a lawyer, and proceeded to rant at her about what would happen if she let them thaw out.

Needless to say, she was annoyed by his behavior. Shortly before landing in New York, she used the intercom to announce to the entire cabin, “Would the lawyer who gave me the crabs in New Orleans, please raise your hand.”

Not one hand went up . . . . so she took them home and ate them.

Joke of the Day

“Q & A”

Q: How many lawyer jokes are there?

A: Only three. The rest are true stories.

Q: What's the difference between a jellyfish and a lawyer?

A: One's a spineless, poisonous blob. The other is a form of sea life.

Q: What's the difference between a lawyer and a leech?

A: After you die, a leech stops sucking your blood.

Q: What's the difference between a lawyer and God?

A: God doesn't think he's a lawyer.

Q: How are an apple and a lawyer alike?

A: They both look good hanging from a tree.

Q: How can a pregnant woman tell that she's carrying a future lawyer?

A: She has an uncontrollable craving for bologna.

Q: How does an attorney sleep?

A: First he lies on one side, then he lies on the other.

Q: How many lawyers does it take to screw in a light bulb?

A: Three, One to climb the ladder. One to shake it. And one to sue the ladder company.

Q: What are lawyers good for?

A: They make used car salesmen look good.

Q: What do dinosaurs and decent lawyers have in common?

A: They're both extinct.