« AnteriorContinuar »
of the War,
Report, March 23,
Foster, “were the richest town in North Carolina, CHAP. XIV. one steamer, two hundred prisoners, forty-six heavy guns, eighteen field-pieces, several hundred stands of arms, the command of the railroad, the cutting off from supplies of the garrison of Fort Macon, with the prospective capture of that work, Report to and the facilities of the railroad for our advance on Conduct on Goldsboro!!! A small expedition also went Nov. 2, 1886 (March 20, 21) up the Pamlico River, where the town of Washington was occupied. More impor- 1862. W tant than either of the foregoing was the expedition under command of Brigadier-General Parke against Fort Macon: guarding the harbor of Beaufort, North Carolina, and its successful investment, siege, and capture on the 26th of May. 11862. April - one of those brilliant engineering feats pp. 281–284. which throughout the war attested the high skill and accomplishments of the educated officers of the regular army. In addition to these principal events there occurred a score or more of small expeditions, reconnaissances, and skirmishes, which there is not room even to enumerate.
It will thus be seen that the success of the parent expedition, led by Burnside against Roanoke Island, quickly resulted in a secondary group of local victories which gave the Union forces command of the entire interior coasts of North Carolina. Of the several designs mentioned in McClellan's original instructions as the objects of the Burnside expedition, all were accomplished save the single one of an advance from New Berne to Goldsboro' to seize one of the important Southern railroads. This had necessarily to await the preliminary work to which the army and navy next devoted them
CHAP. XIV. selves, and required also an increase of force to
hold the captured places and guard communications. Before the needful reënforcements were accumulated the Goldsboro' expedition was unfortunately rendered impossible by an unexpected change in the tide of Union victories. Failure and disaster fell upon McClellan's army in Virginia to such a degree that Burnside, with all the troops he could bring with him, was recalled, early in July, from North Carolina to the James River. Nevertheless, the points already gained in Albemarle and Pamlico sounds were generally held, and through the remainder of the war their occupation contributed essentially, in various ways, to the further advance of the Union arms.
Simultaneously with the successes in North Carolina, other important victories attended the military and naval operations along the Atlantic coast. The hold which had been gained at Port Royal, South Carolina, and the adjacent sea-islands
was greatly extended and strengthened, notably in April 11,
the siege and capture of Fort Pulaski, at the mouth of the Savannah River. Pulaski, like Macon, was one of the old Government forts built for coast protection, which during the secession period were first seized and occupied by State troops, and afterwards turned over to the control and use of the Confederate authorities. Fort Pulaski stood in a strong position on Cockspur Island, Georgia, commanding both channels of the Savannah River. It was a brick work with walls seven and a half feet thick and twenty-five feet high, with one tier of guns in casemate and one en barbette. The island it stood on was wholly a marsh, one mile
long and half a mile wide. The neighboring CHAP. XIV. islands were also mere marshes. The possibility of reducing the fort began to be studied soon after Port Royal was captured, and the work formally commenced about the beginning of February. The ground to operate upon was described as "a soft unctuous mud, free of grit or sand, and incapaable of supporting a heavy weight. Even in the most elevated places the partially dry crust is but three or four inches in depth, the substratum being a semi-fluid mud, which is agitated like jelly by the falling of even small bodies upon it, like the jumping of men or ramming of earth. A pole or an oar can be forced into it with ease to the depth of twelve or fifteen feet. In most places the resistance diminishes with increase of penetration. Men walking over it are partially sustained by the roots of reeds and grass, and sink in only five or six inches. When this top support gives way they go down from two to two and a half feet, and in some 1968. W.'R. places much farther.” The problem was to transport the heavy material and guns about a mile, and establish batteries in such a locality, working without noise in the darkness of night. It was necessary first to construct a causeway, resting on fascines and brushwood in positions within range of the effective fire of the fort. “No one," says the report, “except an eye-witness, can form any but a faint conception of the herculean labor by which mortars of eight and a half tons weight and columbiads but a trifle lighter were moved in the dead of night over a narrow causeway bordered by swamps on either side, and liable at any moment to be overturned and buried in the mud beyond reach. . .