« PreviousContinue »
and driftwood; then three rafts followed, on which were the axemen, followed by the saws, two large barges, and one of the steamboats. Very large lines were provided to run from the capstan of the steamboat and haul out by snatchblocks what the men could not handle. Men were engaged all the time in the fleet which followed, converting the flatboats into floating batteries.
From the starting point on the river to the levee the distance is about five hundred feet; here the water was shallow and the route full of stumps. It took one whole day to pass this point. Then they cut in the levee. Here the fall was over two feet, and the rush of water tremendous. The largest boat was dropped through with five lines out ahead. Then a corn field, overflowed from a cut in the levee, where a channel was cut by the swift water, and floated them onward nearly a quarter of a mile to the woods. Here was great labor—two straight and long miles to the nearest point in the bayou. It took eight days to get through this distance. Then came Wilson's Bayou, East Bayou, and St. John's Bayou, which empties into the Mississippi at New Madrid. It sometimes took twenty men a whole day to get out a half sunken tree across the bayou; and as none of the rafts or flats could get by, this always detained the whole fleet. The water, after they got in the woods, was about six feet deep, with a gentle current setting across tho peninsula. In the East Bayou the current was tremendous, and the boats had to be checked down with heavy head lines. Here they found some obstructions, caused by heaps of driftwood, but a few sturdy blows dislodged some of the logs and'sent the whole mass floating down the current.
While the engineers were engaged in this herculean enterprise, the gunboat Carondelet ran safely by the rebel batteries on the island, and reached New Madrid on the night of April 4th. On the succeeding night another boat, the Pittsburg, ran the gauntlet of the enemy's fire unscathed, in time to convoy the transports as they entered the river.
On the 6th of April the two gunboats attacked and destroyed four batteries erected by the rebels on the Tennessee shore. On the 7th, by daylight, the divisions of Generals Paine and Stanley were marched to Tiptonville, fifteen miles down the river from New Madrid. The rebels had retreated in that direction the afternoon before, and it was thought that they were endeavoring to cross over Reelfoot lake. The troops were pushed forward with all possible speed, and at night encamped at Tiptonville and Merriwether's, while a strong force was posted at the only point where by any possibility the rebels could cross the lake, some four miles from the town. Squads of rebel soldiers kept in sight of the Union pickets during the night, and at times would come boldly up and surrender themselves as prisoners of war. At daylight General Pope and staff, and Assistant Secretary-of-War Scott, went down to the locality, and General Pope assumed the full command. It was expected that some resistance would be made, and no one surmised that the enemy, who it was learned had marched over from Island No. 10, had concluded to give himself up. But shortly after sunrise General Pope received a message from the General commanding the Confederates, stating that he had surrendered the island and fortifications to Commodore Foote the night before, and that the forces under his command were ready to follow the "fortunes of war;" and he requested General Pope to receive and march them into camp. General Pope gave directions for the Confederate troops to come into camp and go through the formula. Accordingly about four thousand rebels were marched in and stacked their arms.
On the same day Island No. 10 was surrendered to Commodore Foote, with all its war material; and all the gunboats and transports fell into the hands of the victors.
BATTLE OP WINOHESTEB, VA.
March 22, 23, 1862. •
On the 21st of March, General Shields, commanding a division of the Fifth Army Corps of the Potomac, under General Banks, was stationed at Winchester, with a force of about seven thousand men. General Jackson, with a rebel foTce of ten thousand men, and twenty-eight pieces of artillery, was then at Strasburg, ten miles distant, closely scrutinizing the movements of the Federal army, and only awaiting the arrival of General Johnston, his superior, who was daily expected with a much larger force. With these united, they expected to strike a telling blow on the army of General Banks, and thus prevent any combined action on his part with General McClellan.
Not anticipating an immediate attack from General Jackson, General Banks had just left Winchester for Harper's Ferry, and General Williams' division had marched the same day towards Centreville. Of these movements the rebel General was duly notified, as his numerous spies within the Federal lines lost no opportunity of supplying the enemy with full details of all the actions of the Federal commanders.
Though looking for reinforcements from Generals Longstreet and Smith, Jackson determined to attack Shields' troops;—but his attempt to surprise them was frustrated by the vigilance of that officer. Apprehensive that the enemy designed an early advance, General Shields had just completed a hasty reconnoissance to Strasburg, by which he obtained important information of Jackson's numbers and intentions. This induced him to withdraw most of his men to a position two miles north-east of Winchester, while his pickets extended five miles beyond, on the Strasburg road. The enemy were led to believe that the town was open to their occupation, and that the greater portion of the Federal troops had been withdrawn from the v icinity.
On Saturday afternoon, March 22, about a quarter-past two o'clock, the Federal advanced pickets on the Strasburg road discovered the rebel cavalry, under Colonel Ashby, about half a mile beyond them, reconnoitering the woods on both sides of the turnpike, and steadily advancing. The pickets consisted of a few men of the Fourteenth Indiana infantry at that point, and they fell back half a mile to the hamlet of Kernstown, four miles from Winchester. Steadily did the troopers advance as the Union men wheeled to aim and fire. The first volley'sent many rebels reeling from their Saddles, and threw the rest into confusion. Before they could be again rallied for a charge, the gallant little band of infantry was beyond their power, without having lost a man killed or wounded. General Shields hearing of the advance of the rebel cavalry, ordered four advanced companies of infantry to rally to the support of the pickets, and hold the rebels in check till he could move down the division. These companies were one from the Maryland First, one from the Twenty-eighth Pennsylvania, one from the Forty-sixth Pennsylvania, and one from the Twenty-eighth New York. Their regiments had marched away under General Williams.
A battery of artillery was also sent forward, and General Shields, after ordering out the division, rode to the front, accompanied by his staff. While engaged in directing the fire of the artillery, a shell from the rebel battery of four guns, which now began to play on them, burst near him, and a splinter from it struck him in the left arm, just above the elbow, fracturing the bone and creating a painful wound. But without heeding it he gave a fresh order to the artillery, and continued on the field till satisfied that all was right.
The Federal division began to arrive in force on the field towards dark; the rebels, perceiving this, did not push their advance, but halted about three miles from Winchester for the night, lighted their camp fires and bivouacked, while the opposing army lay between them and the town.
About ten o'clock on Sunday, reinforcements of five regiments of infantry and two batteries of artillery having arrived from Strasburg, under General Garnett, were welcomed by vociferous and prolonged cheers from their lines. The attack was not long delayed. The enemy advanced his army, which now consisted of sixteen regiments of infantry, numbering eleven thousand men ; five batteries of artillery, with a total of twenty-eight field pieces, and three battalions of horse, under Ashby