Page images
PDF
EPUB

them. Crowds of the enemy were seen hurrying down the hill toward the landing, and the little ferry-boat was rapidly steaming to and fro, carrying bodies of men, the last of the Confederates on the right bank of the river. No response being elicited, the infantry was ordered forward, the Tenth Kentucky in the advance. With lusty cheers the troops rushed down the road and up the hills crowned by fortifications, and climbing over the barricades of logs, obstructing the approaches on all sides, the Kentuckians were in a few minutes on the parapet, shouting, jumping, and waving their hats and muskets. Hardly five minutes more elapsed when the rebel camp teemed with thousands of soldiers, frantic with excitement:

The rebels literally saved nothing but what they wore on their persons. Eight of their guns, including two Parrot 20-pounders, with caissons and ammunition, were left behind, together with nearly a thousand stand of arms, and hundreds of boxes of cartridges, 1,700 horses and mules, a drove of cattle, 100 wagons, with harness, vast quantities of commissary and quartermasters' stores, some twenty bales of blankets and quilts, and the personal effects of officers and men.

The enemy left all their dead and many of their wounded behind them, five of their surgeons, however, remaining. One hundred and fifteen of their killed, including Zollicoffer, and about 120 of their wounded were found on the field, and 150 prisoners taken. Their entire loss must have been much greater. The Federal loss was 39 killed and 207 wounded.

Taken as a whole it was one of the fairest contested battles and most glorious victories of the war—one in which the Western troops fully sustained their reputation for unflinching courage and stern determination never to yield, no matter how great the force opposed to them.

INVESTMENT OP POET PULASKI, GA.

Januakt 27, 1862.

Tybee Island, lying at the mouth of Savannah river, immediately below Fort Pulaski, on Cockspur Island, was occupied by Federal troops very shortly after the capture of Port Royal by Commodore Dupont, the Flag-officer of the South Atlantic blockading squadron. It was late in December, however, before a-garrison was established there. This was the "first step toward the investment of Fort Pulaski, whose heavy embrasures frowned in stern defiance at the Federal fleet investing the harbor.

Late in December, from his headquartors at Tybee Island, an island forming the eastern shore of Calibogue Sound, and lying north of Savannah harbor, General Sherman, commanding the army in this district, had dispatched several reconnoiteriug parties to explore the small rivers, creeks and inlets which intersect each other at various points on the left of the Savannah river, forming the series of islands, which dot the map of the harbor. A well grounded hope was entertained that an inside channel would be discovered, connecting with the Savannah river, of sufficient depth to float the gunboats to a point on that river far above Fort Pulaski.

In order to understand the nature of the reoonnoissance, it will be necessary to have a clear apprehension of the geography of the country. Savannah is about fifteen miles from the mouth of the river, and on the right or southern bank. Approach to it by water is defended by Fort Pulaski, a casemated fort on Cockspur Island, at the mouth of the river, and Fort Jackson, a barbette fort on the mainland, only four miles below the city. The left bank is formed by a succession of islands, and the channel also is interrupted by large and numerous islands, the most important of which is Elba, whose upper extremity is immediately opposite Fort Jackson. Lower down in the stream is Long Island. The network of creeks and bays that surrounds Hilton Head terminates southward in Calibogue sound, which is divided from the Savannah river at its mouth by Turtle and Jones Island. The waters that form two sides of Jones Island, which is triangular in shape, are called Mud and Wright rivers; the latter is the southernmost, and separates Jones from Turtle Island, which lies next to Dawfuskie Island, the western shore of Calibogue sound. The islands on the Savannah are all very low and marshy, overgrown by high grass, and frequently without a solitary shrub or tree; they are all liable to be submerged by a very high tide. Jones Island is a broad, marshy, uninhabited island, five miles above the fort, not more than five miles long, by two or three broad. About half way between its npper and lower angles, and fronting on the Savannah, is Venus Point.

This first reoonnoissance was uridertaken by Lieutenant J. H. Wilson, of the topographical engineers. Taking with him two boats and a company of Rhode Island soldiers, together with his negro oarsmen and pilots, he started on the dangerous expedition, making all the necessary explorations by night, while his boats were hidden by the tall grass on the marshy and swampy shores he traversed. To the rear of Jones Island he discovered a canal called Wall's Cut, connecting the Mud and Wright rivers, the former emptying into the Savannah six, and the latter two miles above Fort Pulaski. The navigation of Wall's Out had been obstructed by three rows of piles, driven acr »ss its entire width by the rebels, but at high tide the boats were got over these obstructions, and soon after floated on the waters of the Savannah, at night, unobserved by the rebels. The feasibility of traversing this route with the gunboats had been demonstrated, but the movement was betrayed to the rebels before the plan could be consummated.

A reconnoissance in force, through a corresponding series of channels on the right of the Savannah river, was then determined on, and Captain C. H. Davis was dispatched with the gunboats Ottawa, LieutenantCommanding Stevens; Seneca, Ammen; and the steamers Isaac Smith, Nicholson; Potomska, Watmough; Ellen, Budd; Western World, Gregory; in company with the transports Cosmopolitan, Delaware and Boston, having on board the Sixth Connecticut, Fourth New Hampshire, Ninety-seventh Pennsylvania; in all twenty-four hundred men, commanded by Brigadier-General H. G. Wright. Commander C. R. P. Rodgers accompanied the expedition.

Captain Davis sailed from Port Royal harbor on the 26th of January, and anchored in Warsaw Sound the same evening. The next morning he entered the Little Tybee river, or Freeborn Cut, and at half-past one passed up that river above Fort Pulaski, and within long range of the rebel guns, but was unmolested, as they were not prepared for an enemy on that side. After passing the high land on Wilmington Island, the principal one on their route, they were arrested by a heavy double row of piles, driven across the channel. The island was now carefully explored, and found to have been deserted. The launches were also dispatched to examine the numerous creeks leading to the river, and to explore the main stream. At five o'clock five rebel steamers made their appearance in the Savannah river to reconnoitre the proceedings of the Federal fleet. At this hour Captain Ammen made his way through the marsh and cut the telegraph wire communicating with Fort Pulaski.

Captain John Wright, who had been dispatched by Flag-officer Dupont with a number of gunboats up the Wright river on the left of the Savannah, by the route previously explored, made his appearance on Tuesday, the 28th, and by means of the new army signals communication was opened between the two fleets. At eleven o'clock, the rebel steamers again made their appearance in the Savannah, and attempted to pass below the fort, when a spirited engagement commenced between them and the two Federal fleets. Three of the rebel steamers succeeded in passing, but the other two were driven back disabled.

The attempt to reach the Savannah river with the gunboats having been abandoned, measures were undertaken to blockade the river, and interrupt communication between Fort Pulaski and Savannah, by land approaches, and the establishment of batteries on the banks of the river. It was resolved to erect a battery on Jones' Island, the rear of which could be reached by the national flotilla. The first attempt was made on the ni^ht of February 7th, but owing to storms and other causes, it was not successful. A few days after, General Sherman issued orders for a second expedition to Jones' Island, and, if practicable, erect a battery there, so as to command the Savannah river. This was to be done without the assistance of the naval forces.

The expedition was placed under the command of Brigadier-General Viele, and consisted of the Forty-eighth New York Volunteers, Colonel Perry, two companies of volunteer engineers, and two companies of the Third Rhode Island artillery. The troops, with six large guns, (thirtytwo pounders,) were embarked in flatboats at Dawfuskie Island, and in tow of light-draught steamboats. The expedition reached Jones Island, a preliminary reconnoissance was made of all the points on the island, and a site at Venus Point was selected for the erection of a fortification. The swampy character of the soil seemed to forbid the landing of troops on the island, much more to erect batteries and mount heavy guns thereon. It was determined, however, to erect the battery at the point already designated, and to carry the guns a distance of a mile through the swamp. To facilitate matters, Colonel Perry undertook the construction of a corduroy road from the place where the troops landed on the Mud river side of Jones Island to Venus Point. The road was constructed, and by the untiring labor of the troops, the guns were at last placed in battery.

While the construction of the road was going on, another detachment of Colonel Perry's regiment attempted to erect breastworks to cover the guns. The mud, as fast as it was piled up for the battery, slipped and sunk away; but the platforms were laid and the guns mounted. The guns were landed on a wharf made of bags filled with sand, and long planks laid across them. Tramways were laid along the marsh, constructed of planks thirty feet long, placed in parallel lines; two sets of these parallels were used for each gun, and as fast as the pieces were taken over one set, it was taken up and placed still further in advance. Holes were drilled in the planks, and ropes looped through the holes, so that the planks might be more easily dragged by the troops. In this manner the guns were conveyed across Jones Island to the chosen position. Colonel Perry, Lieutenant J. H. Wilson, of the United States Engineers, and Lieutenant Horace Porter, of the Ordnance Department, superintended the removal of the guns. On the first night the heavy guns were dragged two hundred yards. The second night the work proceeded, and the guns were dragged the remainder of the route, and before morning all were in position. The work of tugging the guns was performed entirely by the Forty-eighth New York regiment, commanded by Colonel Perry. In the morning a rebel gunboat came down the river to reconnoitre, and doubtless was amazed to find th" Federal fort confronting her; but by hugging the western shore she was enabled to pass the guns on Jones Island without serious injury. This demonstrated the necessity of another battery on the west end of Bird Island, in the middle of the river opposite, which was subsequently erected, and the river thus effectually blockaded. On the 15th, four rebel gunboats attacked the batteries on Venus Point, Jones Island, but were all driven back, and one of them disabled.

By the erection of these batteries Fort Pulaski was cut off from all supplies and reinforcements; and General Hunter now commenced the erection of batteries for the reduction of the fort.

NEW MEXICO AND AEIZONA.

The comprehensive scheme of the rebel leaders was not confined to the mere occupancy of the Cotton States, or the entire section of the Union south of the. Ohio river, but included within its future all the vast domain west of the Mississippi and south of Kansas. The restoration of peace, and the independence of the Southern Confederacy, would then enable it to carry its victorious arms into Mexico, and a vast empire would be erected, subject to the control of the Confederate government. In order to accomplish these purposes with the greatest promptitude, it was determined to take possession of New Mexico and Arizona at an early day, and bodies of armed men were dispatched from Texas upon this errand.

They reached the Territories during the month of July, 1861; one portion of the invading force entering Arizona, and the other took their line of march toward Santa Fe, in New Mexico, under the command of Brigadier-General H. H. Sibley. There was no military organization of the inhabitants of either New Mexico or Arizona to favor the rebel cause, excepting, perhaps a very few recent emigrants from Texas or other Southern States, who joined the invading forces—the natives were for the most part loyal.

Fort Fillmore, then under command of Major Lynde, of the United States army, who had seven hundred regulars for its defence, was surrendered or betrayed on August 2d, to a force of Texan troops inferior to his own. The men were paroled, and finally brought to the east, where they were stationed by the Government at various posts on the northern lakes. Subsequently Forts Davis, Bliss and Stanton were easily captured by the rebel chieftains. The want of military organization among the people, their unprotected towns, and the scarcity of arms,

« PreviousContinue »