« AnteriorContinuar »
the largest bolts, fired at this distance, rebounded like dry peas. At length, the ram put a shot through one of of her adversary's boilers, killing 3 and wounding 6 of her men, and filling her with scalding steam, from out which the shrieks of the scalded were piercingly heard. And now the chief engineer of the Sassacus was compelled to call his men to follow him into the fire-room, and there to drag the fires from beneath the uninjured boiler, which was on the brink of explosion; while the engine had become entirely unmanageable. Out of the thick, white cloud which enveloped the two combatants, frequently irradiated by the flashes of guns, the Albemarle soon emerged, limping off toward her sheltering fort; still keeping up her fire; the Sassacus moving slowly in pursuit, working on a vacuum alone. We had the Bombshell, with her 4 rifled guns, as a trophy; while the siege of Newbern—which the Albemarle had set forth to form the naval part of, while that post had already been summoned by IIoke, on the assumption that “the river and sound were blockaded below”—was indefinitely postponed. The Albemarle made good her retreat, and never cared to renew the encounter. Months afterward, she was still 8 miles up the Roanoke, lying at a dock, behind a barricade of logs, when Lt. Wm. B. Cushing slipped” up the river in a steamlaunch and, under a fierce fire from the monster, lowered a torpedo-boat, rowed it to and under the overhang of the Albemarle and fired it, at the
same instant that one of the enemy's shots crashed through the torpedoboat, utterly destroying it. The launch likewise was instantly disabled; but Cushing, spurning every call to surrender, ordered his men to save themselves as they best could ; himself dropping into the water and swimming down stream half a mile, when he crawled out at daybreak, and hid in an adjacent swamp; through which he slowly, cautiously worked his way until he found a skiff in a creek, and, at 11 P.M., was on board one of our vessels in the offing. The Albemarle sunk like a stone, and was never more troublesome to friend or foe. . Plymouth—IIoke being busy on the James—was now easily retaken” by our fleet under Com'r Macomb, who captured a few prisoners, some guns and warlike stores. Of Burnside's extensive conquests in North Carolina, but little more than Newbern and Roanoke island remained to us, after the loss of Plymouth and the abandonment of Washington; and IIoke was intent on reducing our possessions still further, when the pressure of our advance in Virginia summoned the greater part of his force to the defense of Richmond. Two or three unimportant raiding expeditions were sent out from Newbern during the Summer; and one from Roanoke island, led by Gen. Wild and composed of colored troops, penetrated far into Camden county; bringing off 2,500 slaves, many horses
and cattle, and destroying much
grain; at a total cost of 13 men.
* Oct. 27.
** Oct. 31.
XXIV. THE WAR BEY ON D THE MISSISSIPPI IN 1864.
BANKS.–STEELE – ROSECRANS.
GEN. BANKS was in New Orleans, intent on further operations against Texas by way of Galveston and the sea-coast, when he received' a dispatch from IIalleck, prescribing (or, as Halleck says, “suggesting”) a totally different plan of campaign. Its line of operations was the Red river; its object, the capture of Shreveport, with the rout and dispersion of Kirby Smith's army, culminating in the recovery of Texas and a boundless supply of cotton for our mills and for export. To this end, Admiral Porter, with a strong fleet of iron-clads and transports, was to embark at Vicksburg, 10,000 of Sherman's old army under Gen. A. J. Smith, and move with them up Red river, capturing by the way Fort de Russy, removing all impediments, and meeting at Alexandria Gen. Banks, who, with his 15,000 to 17,000 disposable men, was to march overland from the Atchafalaya to the designated point of junction; while Gen. Steele, with the bulk (15,000) of his Arkansas force, was to move on Shreveport directly from Little Rock. In other words: we were to threaten Shreveport with 40,000 men, so disposed that the enemy, with a compact, mobile force of 25,000, might fight them all in turn with superior numbers, and so cut
* Jan. 23, 1864.
* Gen. Banks, before the Committee on the Conduct of the War, testified that—
“The truth was, that while four forces—Gen. Steele's, Gen. Sherman's (under Gen. Smith), Admiral Porter's, and my own—were operating together, neither one of them had a right to give
them up in detail. It was a very old blunder, so often repeated in our struggle that none could plead ignorance of its oft-tested and certain effect; but braying in a mortar would be effective only with those who do not need it. Had Steele's men been brought down the ArkanSas in boats, and added to Banks's and Smith’s forces, the issue must almost certainly have been different. But Gen. Steele's demonstration, though designed to be simultaneous and cóoperative with Banks's, was entirely independent;" while Gen. Smith's quota was only loaned to Banks for a brief period, and was subject to recall in entire disregard of his authority. Had such a movement missed failing, it would have been a disparagement of good generalship evermore.
Banks's own force was to have moved from Franklin on the 7th of March, so as to be at Alexandria on the 17th : but the General was busy at New Orleans, and intrusted the immediate command of his force to Gen. Franklin; who was not ready to start till the 13th, and had not fully reached Alexandria till the 25th; though his cavalry advance, under Gen. A. L. Lee, had arrived on the 19th.
For T DE R Ussy TAKEN BY SMITH. 537
Ere this, Admiral Porter, with 15 iron-clads and four lighter steamboats, had reached” the mouth of Ited river, where he was joined' by Gen. A. J. Smith and his 10,000 men in transports, and proceeded next day, pioneered by the Eastport, up the Red to Simmsport, which was evacuated by the Rebels, who fell back on Fort de Russy. Nine of our gunboats entered the Atchafalaya, followed by the land force; while the residue, followed by the transports, continued up the Red, where the Eastport, in advance, was for hours engaged in removing the IRebel obstructions of piles and chains in the channel, which months had been given to constructing and strengthening. These being disposed of, the Eastport and Neosho passed them, and pushed forward to Fort de Itussy, where Smith had by this time arrived; and he, after a few shots from the Eastport, assaulted and carried the works, capturing 10 guns and 2S3 prisoners. Smith, who had started from Simmsport at daylight, marched 40 miles, built a bridge that detained him two hours, taken a large and strong fort by assault, after considerable skirmishing and cannon-firing, had his day's work done and the fort fully in possession before sunset. The main Rebel force, about 5,000 strong, under Gen. Walker, retreated up the river. Porter at once sent his swiftest vessels up to Alexandria, which was abandoned without a struggle.”
The Eastport had come up the night before. But here commenced the real dif. ficulties of the undertaking. There was hardly water enough in the river to float our heavy iron-clads up to this point; and here was a considerable fall or rapid, up which about half of them were forced with great effort. Porter wisely left five or six of the heaviest below, though Banks deemed naval cóoperation essential to the success of the undertaking. One hospital-ship was sunk and lost in getting up. As there was but 6 feet water in the channel at the fall, while our vessels drew from 7% to 10 feet, it is not surprising that 7 or 8 days" were spent in getting over those vessels that went higher. During the halt here, Gen. Warner, with four brigades of Smith's corps, surprised' a Rebel post at Henderson’s hill, 21 miles westward, capturing 4 guns, 250 men, and 200 horses. Dut embarrassments multiplied. Gen. McPherson, now in command at Wicksburg, called for the return of the marine brigade, 3,000 strong, of Smith's corps, to its special duty of guarding the Mississippi from raids; and it had to be sent. Then it was found necessary to make Alexandria a dépôt of supplies, which could not be carried farther; and Gen. C. Grover's division of 3,000 more were left to garrison it. And, as no cooperation could be expected from Steele,” Banks’s 40,000 men
T'March 7. * March 11. * March 16. * March 26 to April 3. * March 21. *Banks says, in his official report: “The partial disintegration of the several commands assigned to this expedition was a cause of embarrassment, though not entirely of failure. The command of Maj.-Gen. Steele, which I was informed by Maj.-Gen. Sherman would be about 15,000, was in fact but 7,000,
and operating upon a line several hundred miles distant, with purposes and results entirely unknown to me. Feb. 5, I was informed by Gen. Steele that, if any advance was to be made, it must be by the Washita and Red rivers; and that he might be able to move his command, by the way of Pine Bluff, to Monroe, for this purpose. This would have united our forces on Red river, and insured the success of the campaign. Feb. 28, he informed me that he could lot move by way of Monroe; and March 4, the lay before my command was ordered to move, was informed by Gen. Sherman that he had written to Gen. Steele ‘to push straight for Shreveport.' March 5, I was informed by Gen. Halleck that he had no information of Gen. Steele's plans, further than that he would be diected to facilitate my operations toward ShreveYort. March 10, Gen. Steele informed me that he objections to the route I wished him to take by the way of Red river) were stronger than ver, and that he “would move with all his vailable force (about 7,000 men) to Washington, and thence to Shreveport.' I received informaion, March 26, dated March 15, from Maj.-Gen. Halleck, that he had ‘directed Gen. Steele to make a real move, as suggested by you (Banks), nstead of a demonstration, as he (Steele) thought advisable.” In April, Gen. IIalleck informed me hat he had telegraphed Gen. Steele ‘to cooperite with you (Banks) on Red river, with all his available forces.” April 16, I was informed, under date of the 10th, by Gen. Sherman, that 3en. Steele's entire force would cóoperate with me and the navy. In May, I received informa
tion from Gen. Steele, dated April 28, that he could not leave Camden unless supplies were sent to him, as those of the country were exhausted; that we ‘could not help each other operating on lines so wide apart;’ that he could not say definitely that he could join me “at any point on Red river at any given time;’ and, from the distance that separated us, that I could render no assistance to him—an opinion in which I entirely concurred. I never received authority to give orders to Gen. Steele. My instructions limited me to communicating with him upon the subject of the expedition. I have no doubt that Gen. Steele did all in his power to insure success; but, as communication with him was necessarily by special messenger, and occupied from 15 to 20 days at each communication, it was impossible for either of us fully to comprehend the relative positions of the two armies, or to assist or to support each other.”
ter,” north of Red river, between Col.O. P. Gooding's brigade of 1,500 cavalry and a Rebel force under IIarrison, wherein Gooding came out ahead, stimulated the pervading eagerness to advance. ‘Forward’ was the word, and Natchitoches was left behind on the 6th : Gen. A. L. Lee, with the cavalry, in the van; next, Gen. Ransom, with two thin divisions of the 13th corps; then Gen. Emory, with the 1st division of the 19th corps and a Black brigade: the whole advance immediately commanded by Gen. W. B. Franklin; Gen. A. J. Smith, with part of the 16th corps, followed next morning; but, as the iron-clads had been unavoidably left behind, a division of the 17th corps, 2,500 strong, under Gen. T. Kilby Smith, was guarding the transports creeping up the river, under orders to halt and communicate with the army at Loggy bayou, half way to Shreveport. Gen. Banks left Grand Ecore on the morning of the 7th, reaching the van at Pleasant IIill before night. A rain that day, which had greatly retarded the rear of our extended column, had not reached its front. Gen. Hanks found that Iee had that afternoon had a sharp fight with a body of IRebels; worsting and driving them 9 miles to St. Patrick's bayou, where our van halted for the night. Our loss in this affair was 62 men. Gen. Lee pushed on at daybreak next morning; driving the enemy three miles farther to SABINE CRossRoaps, three miles below Mansfield, where he encountered the Rebel “Army of the trans-Mississippi,' under Rirby Smith, Dick Taylor, Mouton, and Green, numbering not less than
20,000 men. Here Banks, reaching our front at 1%. P. M., found our men in line of battle, the skirmishers hotly engaged; the main body of the foe hidden in pine woods behind the crest of a hill, across which ran the only road to Shreveport. Banks had passed Franklin some miles back, and had ordered him to send forward a brigade of infantry and close up to the front; and he now sent back to hurry him up. Gen. Ransom, with a single brigade of infantry, had already come up when Banks arrived. Lee was ordered to hold his ground, but not attempt to advance. Messenger after messenger was sent back to hurry Franklin; the skirmishing growing gradually hotter; until, at 4} P. M., the Rebels having, in overwhelming force, outflanked our handful on both wings, made a grand charge, which was gallantly resisted; but the odds were three or four to one, and our front recoiled from the field wherein their line was formed to the woods this side, losing heavily. It was now 5 P.M. Gen. Franklin had come up, with Gen. Cameron's (3d) division of the 13th corps, and a new and somewhat stronger line was formed; which the exulting foe at once flanked and charged, crushing it back in spite of its desperate resistance. And now the narrow, winding forest-road was found so choked with the supply-train of Lee's division that any orderly retreat became impossible, and 10 of Ransom's guns were lost, with perhaps 1,000 prisoners, including Col. Emerson, 67th Indiana. Gens. Franklin and Ransom, and Col. Robinson, 3d cavalry brigade, were wounded, and Col.
* April 4.