« PreviousContinue »
Evidences ab< unded on all sides of the deadly accuracy of the Federal gunners. Every one of the eleven log buildings within the ramparts was perforated with shot, the roof of one of the small magazines was torn open, hurdle-work scattered in all direction, half the guns knocked out of place, and great gulleys cut in the parapet and the ground. A thirty-two pounder bearing upon the gunboats had been struck by a Union shell, completely shattering the muzzle. The ground beside the ombrasure was stained with blood, which lay in pools on the uneven surface. Beside one of the buildings, with gray blankets thrown hastily over them, lay six dead soldiers, all fearfully mutilated. Inside, ten wounded men were stretched upon cots, or on the ground, some insensible, and others rending the air with groans, while the surgeons of the garrison were attending upon them. Just above, on the river, was the hospital ship of the rebels, the stern-wheel steamer R. M. Patten, which had been captured with the fort. -The ensign of disease, the yellow flag, was flying from the staff", waving off destruction from sixty invalids.
TUB REBEL CAMP.
Upon a high plateau, the heavy trees had all been cut away over a large area. They were designed for the construction of an abattis, and though nothing had been done beyond chopping down the heavy timber, the large trunks and limbs, lying in all directions, would have presented almost insurmountable obstacles to the approach of cavalry or artillery, had the rifle-pits, just beyond, been filled with men.
Crossing the rifle-pits, the Unionists were in the enemy's camp, though still more than half a mile from the fort. Here were the wall tents of a regiment, all standing in complete order, with the camp-fires still blazing, the copper pots of soup fof dinner boiling over them, and the half-made biscuits in the pans. Inside the tents everything was just as the enemy had left it—pistols, shot-guns, muskets, bowie-knives, clothing, tables partially set for dinner, letters half-written, with the ink scarcely dry upon the open page, cards thrown down in the midst of the game, overcoats, blankets, trunks, carpet sacks, and so on through all the articles of camp life. It seemed as if the men were out at guard-mounting, and expected to return in ten minutes.
Along the river bank were long rows of log barracks, enough to accommodate two or three thousand men, and finished comfortably. Inside they bore the same indications that the inmates had decamped without a moment's warning.
ADVANCE OF NATIONAL GUNBOATS VP THE TENNESSEE EITKR.
In accordance with the instructions of Commodore Foote, given before the attack on Fort Henry, immediately after the capture of the fort, February 6, the gunboats Conestoga, Lexington and Tyler, under the command of Lieutenant Phelps, advanced up the river twenty-five miles, to the crossing of the Bowling Green and Memphis railway, breaking up a portion of the railway bridge, and rendering it impassable. They next proceeded to destroy the rebel gunboats and transports, capturing large quantities of munitions of war and supplies, and advanced up the river for upwards of two hundred miles to Eastport, in Mississippi, and Florence, at the foot of Muscle Shoals, in Alabama, annihilating the rebel flotilla in the Tennessee river. The expedition was welcomed at every point by the inhabitants. Twenty-five Tennesseans enlisted at Cerro Gordo, where also three steamers were seized, containing 250,000 feet of valuable ship timber.
Toward the latter part of February, intelligence reached Fort Henry that the rebels were fortifying a point on the Tennessee river, near the Mississippi State line, whereupon Lieutenant-Commanding William Gwin, with the gunboats Tyler and Lexington, were sent forward to reconnoitre the position.
Having learned that the rebels had occupied and were fortifying a place called Pittsburgh, nine miles above, on the right bank of the river, he determined to attack them.
At twelve M. the Taylor, followed by the Lexington, LieutenantCommanding Shirk, proceeded up the river. When within twelve hundred yards of Pittsburgh, they were opened upon by the rebel batteries, consisting of six or eight field pieces, some rifled. Getting within one thousand yards, the Taylor and Lexington opened a well-directed fire, and had the satisfaction of silencing the batteries.
They then proceeded abreast of the place, and, under the cover of grape and canister, landed two armed boats from each vessel, containing, besides their crews, a portion of company C, Captain Thaddeus Phillips, and company K, First-Lieutenant John C. Rider, of the Thirtysecond regiment, Illinois Volunteers (sharpshooters). Second-master Jason Gondy, commanded the boats of the Taylor, and Second-master Martin Dunn, commanded the boats of the Lexington. The landing was successfully accomplished. This small force drove back the rebels, and held them in check until they had accomplished their difficult object, which was to discover the real strength and purpose of the enemy, and to destroy a house in close proximity to the batteries. In addition to their artillery, the enemy had a force of not less than two regiments of infantry, and a regiment of cavalry.
THE BUENSIDE EXPEDITION.'
Sailing Of The Fleet Foe Hatteras Inlet.
Immediately after the departure of the expedition to operate against Port Royal and the adjacent territory, the organization of another armament, to proceed to the North Carolina coast, was commenced, and like its predecessor, was mainly fitted out at Annapolis, Md., and gradually concentrated at Fortress Monroe. After many delays, it sailed from that place for its destination on the 12th of January, 1862. The expedition consisted of a large naval force of light-draught boats, taken from the commercial marine, fitted up and armed, and a numerous retinue of transports and supply vessels, all under the command of Commodore L. M. Goldsborough. There were thirty-one gunboats in the expedition, exclusive of transports, carrying an aggregate of ninetyfour guns. Five of these, called "floating batteries," were vessels of strong hulls, heavily braced, and cut down so as to 'present but a small surface when in action, and designed to be anchored during an engagement. The entire number of vessels of all classes was one hundred and twenty-five.
The land force consisted of about fourteen thousand men, under the command of Brigadier-General Ambrose E. Burnside, who was also Commander-in-chief of the expedition. It consisted of fifteen regiments, divided into three brigades, commanded in their order by Generals John G. Foster, Jesse L. Reno, and John G. Parke.
The vessels encountered adverse weather immediately after starting from Fortress Monroe, and a number of the transports were obliged to put back, having experienced one of those severe storms which have rendered the coast of Cape Hatteras a terror and a proverb to the mariner. For a time the expedition was in deadly peril. Communica tion between the vessels of the fleet was rendered impossible, and wreck and disaster appeared to be their inevitable fate. Several gunboats and vessels were driven ashore and lost, and a number of valuable lives sacrificed to the fury of the elements, in a vain endeavor to succor some of the disabled vessels.
Along the whole coast of North Carolina there are many desolate sand-bars or islands, varying from half a mile to two miles in width, intersected by numerous inleto, which with few exceptions, are not navigable. A principal one of these, known as Hatteras Inlet, opening into the waters of Albemarle Sound, was the point where Commodore Goldsborough's fleet was now endeavoring to concentrate.
On Monday morning, January 13, they were off Hatteras Inlet. Day broke with a leaden sky, against which the angry, white-crested waves raced their mad career along the reefs of Cape Hatteras, that threw its headland oceanward but eight miles distant. Fourteen steamers were laboring to weather the storm point. Bravely they breasted on, staggering beneath the giant blows of each successive sea, the decks swept fore and aft, and all on board reeling from side to side like drunken men. One figure stood immovable, grasping the bits and scanning the horizon for traces of ships as they rose on the glittering mass of foam. It was the square, manly form of General Burnside, whose anxiety for the fate of his army was intense. Many of the vessels on which the troops were embarked were nothing more than huge top-hampered river steamers, with projecting guards, that would break up like cardboard if fairly struck by a sea.
At dark, all hands on the flag-ship were startled by the report of a gun, and on reaching the hurricane deck they saw a large brig drifting rapidly on to the bar. As it grew darker, and her outline became less defined, the excitement became intense. She was evidently in a most critical position, and every moment might be her last. Slowly the black hull rose and fell, each time gliding nearer and nearer to the vortex of white breakers, which, once reached, nothing could save her. Suddenly a fringe of musketry fire surrounded her bulwarks, and blue-lights were burnt in her tops. Volley after volley succeeded each other in rapid succession, yet apparently no one could help her; no human power dared face the tempest, and, perhaps, share her doom. General Burnside boarded every steamtug in the harbor; offered any reward, and also to go himself in aid of the brig, but all held back. Were three hundred men to be launched into eternity, and no effort made to save them? At last one brave seaman volunteered to take his little steamer out—General Burnside jumped aboard her—but by the earnest entreaties of the officers he delegated the honorable position to one of his staff, for his heroic conduct had nerved every brave heart in his command.
Burnside's Fleet At Hatteras Inlet.
From the 13th of January until the 4th of February, the fleet at Hatteras Inlet experienced an almost uninterrupted series of gales, and the two dykes which reach the east and west boundaries of the inlet, were fringed with perpetual spray and foam from the breakers. The lighter vessels, comprising the propeller gunboats, the side-wheel steamers, and most of the schooner transports, had gone safely through the