At the recent AGM the membership agreed to support two new projects.
Redoubt Three on the Blakeley Battlefield (picture above).
Redoubt Three is one of nine heavily fortified positions that stood along the three-mile long line of interconnected earthworks known as Fort Blakeley. The Confederate position served as a primary point in the defenses guarding approach to the city of Mobile, the last major Southern city to remain in Rebel hands in the Civil War. It also guarded against any potential enemy naval advance up the eastern portions of the Mobile-Tensaw River Delta system into interior Alabama.
The Confederate lines at Blakeley were anchored on their northern and southern ends along the Tensaw River. Redoubt One is the northernmost; Redoubt Nine the southernmost. Redoubt Three is located on the northern section of the Confederate line.
Veteran troops which had been involved in combat throughout the western theater of the Civil War manned this portion of Fort Blakeley line in the spring of 1865, part of its roughly 3,500-man defense garrison. A Federal force of approximately 20,000 men, including one of the largest contingents of African-American soldiers to fight in any Civil War battle, laid siege to Blakeley from April 1-9, 1865. At 5:30 PM on Sunday, April 9, the besiegers launched a simultaneous open-field assault all along the three-mile long lines at Fort Blakeley which resulted in its capture. The city of Mobile surrendered without further fighting a few days later.
Historic Blakeley State Park was created in 1981 in part to help preserve the Blakeley battlefield and serve as an educational resource. The park contains an assemblage of some of the most intact earthworks of any Civil War battlefield, including both the Confederate line and approximately nine miles of trenches dug by besieging Federal troops. The park operates on 2,000 acres of land which contains the majority of these battlefield features, some owned outright by the state and others owned by the Historic Blakeley Foundation, a non-profit support group which works to help develop the park. Portions of the battlefield have come into possession of these two groups piecemeal over the course of nearly half a century. Currently, all of the Confederate line from Redoubt Four to Redoubt Nine lies in the developed portion of the park. The Foundation purchased a portion of Redoubt Two a few years ago. Redoubt One is destroyed—incredibly the only one of the nine Confederate redoubts of Blakeley to suffer such a fate.
Recently an opportunity emerged to purchase Redoubt Three, which lies adjacent to Foundation-owned property and the only portion of the Confederate line still intact and not preserved by the Park or Foundation. After negotiations with the owner, an agreement was reached between the Foundation and the owner to subdivide the lot on which this series of earthworks sits so that about two thirds of the roughly one-acre plot will come into the possession of the Foundation. Redoubt Three has suffered some damage caused by land-clearing equipment, but the bulk of it is intact and the damaged sections can be sensitively restored.
The acquisition of Redoubt Three is one of the most incredible opportunities for preservation presented to the Historic Blakeley Foundation in several years, and we are excited to be able to make this portion of the Blakeley battlefield accessible to the public for the first time ever. To do this will require some preparation and restoration of the site, but it will also require some basic interpretation. On behalf of both Historic Blakeley State Park and the Historic Blakeley Foundation, I want to thank you for your consideration of funding an interpretive panel which can be placed at the site and help visitors understand its role in the Battle of Fort Blakeley.
The Civil War Bluejackets Project
Civil War Bluejackets (CWB) is an Arts and Humanities Research Council UK funded project being carried out by historians at the Northumbria University and information scientists at the University of Sheffield and which is centred on the exploration of Muster Rolls from the United States Navy in the American Civil War. Taken at regular intervals aboard all Union vessels, these rolls preserve an exceptional level of detail about the ordinary sailors of the Civil War era. The project will transcribe these recently digitised rolls to create a powerful new database of about 118,000 wartime sailors that will be made freely available to
researchers, genealogists and the wider public.
The 118,000 or so Union sailors or ‘Bluejackets’, over 30 percent of which were British or Irish, and about 15 percent were African American, waged war against the Confederate States through the maintenance of a blockade along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts and support of the land war effort through control of the rivers of the American interior. CWB uses publicly available digitised ship muster rolls, which included information such as name, age, and place of birth, in innovative ways to provide a new history of these sailors in the US ‘Union’
The USN recruited in port cities, thus attracting predominantly urban working class, often immigrant, crews. Focusing on the experiences of British, Irish, and African American sailors the data will tell us more about race, ethnicity and class in mid-nineteenth century America. It promotes research into the history of sailors, the Civil War, and the social history of the period. CWB will also examine how traditions of seafaring in the USN changed over the duration the war, as it expanded its size and its racial diversity, and how Bluejackets’ experience compares or contrasts with other national navies in the long 19th century (1787-1914).
The Principal Investigator for the Project is David Gleeson, Professor in the Department of Humanities at Northumbria University, and Damian Shiels, also from Northumbria University is one of the research team. Both David and Damian will be known to many members for their past contributions to our Round Table.
The ACWRTUK’s donation will be used to fund upgrades to the Project’s Wordpress site to remove advertisements and enable additional utility features, which will cost about £80 for each year of the project. The ACWRT logo will be added to the site as a sponsor/supporter.
We hope that there will be further scope for us to work together as the project develops. The Project is working in partnership with the Cooperative Institute for Climate, Ocean & Ecosystem Studies (CICOES) and the US Naval Academy Museum. For more details see its website http://www.civilwarbluejackets.com