Troup County Fishermen

Troup County, Ga., 1928. John Ridley, Frank Ridley, Jr., Frank Ridley III, and J. Edward Traylor, Jr.

Published in: on March 18, 2010 at 3:43 pm  Leave a Comment  
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CSS Virginia and the Battle of Hampton Roads

CSS Virginia

On March 8, 1862, the newly commissioned CSS Virginia was launched in Hampton Roads, Virginia.  Originally built as the frigate Merrimack by the U.S. Navy in 1856,  the Confederacy had the ship raised, armored, and relaunched as an ironclad ram.

From the Navy’s Dictionary of Naval Fighting Ships,

“Despite all-out effort to complete her, Virginia still had workmen on board when she sailed out into Hampton Roads, 8 March 1862, tended by CSS Raleigh and Beaufort, accompanied by Patrick, Jamestown, and Teaser. Flag Officer F. Buchanan, CSN, commanding Virginia, singled out as first victim the sailing sloop Cumberland, anchored west of Newport News, to test Virginia’s armor against a 70-pounder rifle. In taking position Virginia passed Congress and exchanged broadsides, suffering no injury while causing considerable. She crossed Cumberland’s bows, raking her with a lethal fire, finishing off the wooden warship with a thrust of her iron ram to conserve scarce gunpowder. Cumberland sank with colors flying, taking 121 men, one third of her crew, and part of Virginia’s ram down with her.

Sinking of the USS Cumberland

Virginia then turned her attention to Congress, which grounded while attempting to evade. Opening fire from a distance, assisted by the lighter ships of the James River Squadron, Virginia forced Congress to haul down her colors. As CSS Beaufort and Raleigh approached Congress to receive the surrender of her crew, Federal troops ashore, not understanding the situation, opened a withering fire and wounded Buchanan, who retaliated by ordering hot shot and incendiary shell to be poured into Congress. The latter, ablaze and unable to bring a single gun to bear, hauled down her flag for the last time. She continued to burn far into the night and exploded about midnight…

On the following morning Virginia returned to battle. In the night the Union ironclad Monitor, after a hazardous trip from New York had arrived in the nick of time to save the fleet in Hampton Roads. The ensuing inconclusive battle, the first ever fought between powered ironclads, revolutionized warfare at sea…”

Battle of Hampton Roads, Va. March, 1862

When the Confederate troops were forced to evacuate Norfolk in mid-1862, the CSS Virginia found herself without a home port.  Unwilling to allow the prized ironclad to fall into Yankee hands, Confederate forces were forced to destroy the ship off Craney Island, Va. in May, 1862.

Today, 148 years after her re-launch and the commencement of the Battle of Hampton Roads, may the memory of all her gallant crewmen be honored.

Flag Officer Franklin Buchanan, CSN

Commanding Officer Catesby ap Roger Jones, CSN

Published in: on March 8, 2010 at 4:34 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Girls of Gasparilla

Jose Gaspar in Tampa Bay, 1964

Celebrated annually since 1904, the City of Tampa, Florida has put on the Gasparilla Pirate Festival at the end of every January, a wild spectacle that has become one of the largest and most unique events in the South.

Every year, some 400,000 people line the streets of Bayshore Blvd. to watch various wildly dressed “Krewes” parade through the city streets and throw beads, coins, and trinkets while firing off pistols and cannons.

The highlight of the parade is the initial “invasion” of the city, led by the 165 foot replica pirate ship, Jose Gaspar. The Gaspar is helmed by the men of Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla (YMKG), the original founders of the parade, and the most prestigious of Tampa’s many krewes.  Once the mayor presents the Captain of the invading buccaneers with the Key to the City, the pirates disembark, and the parade commences.

Many happy years of my childhood were spent on the sides of the Bayshore watching the parade, and as all who have recently been can attest, Gasparilla has lost little of its original fun and excitement.

YMKG Pirate with Girls, 1967

Young Women on Jose Gaspar, 1968

Onboard the Jose Gaspar, 1976

Gasparilla, 1967

Ahoy! 1967

Published in: on March 5, 2010 at 5:25 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Marvin “Popcorn” Sutton, Appalachian Moonshiner

Marvin "Popcorn" Sutton, 1946-2009

Excerpted from daughter Sky Sutton’s Daddy Moonshiner, a new book on the life and adventures of her legendary father:

‘Do you know how to make a frog drunk? I bet you don’t. But I do. I fired my pot up one morning and got it going real good. It had just started running high shots. That is what you call it when it first starts to come out. For so many jugs, then it turns to backins. Anyway here come hopping up to the still a damn big frog. I thought to myself ol’ boy I’ll make you drunk as hell. I had heard all my life that a frog will absorb things through its skin. So I got me a can lid and caught me some of that high shots and I dropped it slowly on the old frogs back. Real soon its throat started to swell up and then all at once that frog started singing like hell. When he stopped singing he flopped over in the leaves and didn’t move till I got done running that likker. I guess he passed out. Anyway when I come back the next morning to sweeten it back he was not there. I guess one good damn drunk taught him a lesson.’

To read more, click here.

Maggie Valley, North Carolina, 2007 by Don Dudenbostel, Knoxville Sentinel

"Popcorn" Sutton and Still

Published in: on March 5, 2010 at 10:45 am  Leave a Comment  
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