Saturday, July 24, 2010

USS Fort Donelson at Norfolk

This is an 1864 picture of USS Fort Donelson in Norfolk shortly after being repaired.  This sleek looking warship was formerly the Scottish-built blockade runner Robert E. Lee.  As a blockade runner, the vessel gave the U.S. Navy fits as she was able to evade blockaders and leave them in her wake.  Her luck ran out on November 9, 1863 when the blockaders USS Iron Age and James Adger caught and captured her.

The U.S. Navy did work off the theory that the best way to capture a blockade runner was with another blockade runner, particularly one as well designed as Robert E. Lee.  Thus, Robert E. Lee was refitted, reflagged, and recommissioned Fort Donelson (after the 1862 battle on the Cumberland River). She served with the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron and participated in the second Fort Fisher campaign.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Ships Company-USS Orion

This is the ship's company of the collier USS Orion (AC-11 or Collier #11) at Naval Operating Base Hampton Roads (now called Naval Station Norfolk) in 1926 shortly before the Navy decommissioned the ship for good.

Notice the African-American sailors, particuarly the chief petty officers in the back row, towards the center.  The Navy still restricted African-American to messmen at this time.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

1798 cannon now on display

The 18-pounder cannon the museum received a few months from the conservation lab is now on display in the museum's War of 1812 gallery.  The gun was made in England in 1798 and is an excellent example of the type of weapon used  by not only the U.S. Navy, but the world's navies. The cannon was being used as ballast in the sloop-of-war Constellation when conservators removed it and spent months conserving the artifact.  Already gathering attention from museum visitors, an interactive display will soon accompany it.