NAVAL OPEEATIONS IN 1861.
The Federals had one immense and peculiar advantage in the war ;
and they were prompt to use it. The superiourity which a large navy
gave them may be estimated when we reflect that the sea-coast of the
Confederacy stretched in a continuous line of eighteen hundred miles ; that
along this were scattered sea-ports, many of them without the protection
of the feeblest battery ; and that the Mississippi, with its tributaries was
an inland sea, which gave access to the enemy almost as freely as the Gulf
192 THE LOST CAUSE.
At the opening of the war, President Lincoln found under his com
mand a navy of ninety ships of war, carrying eighteen hundred and nine
guns. In little more than a year from that time the Federal navy em-
braced three hundred and eighty-six ships and steamers, carrying three
thousand and twenty-seven guns. Keels were laid not only in the Eastern
ship-yards, but on the Mississippi and Ohio Elvers ; iron armour was pre-
pared ; mortar ketches were built ; the founderies and shops worked day
and night upon engines, plates, and guns.
While this wonderful energy was being displayed by the North in
preparations to operate against our sea-coast, and by fleets of gunboats on
the Upper Mississippi and its tributaries, to drive our armies out of Ken-
tucky and Tennessee, the Confederate Government showed a singular
apathy with respect to any work of defence. The Confederate Congress
had made large appropriations for the construction of gunboats on the
Mississippi waters ; there was the best navy-yard on the continent oppo-
site Norfolk ; there were valuable armouries with their machinery at Rich-
mond ; and although the Confederate Government was very far from
competing with the naval resources of the enemy, yet there is no doubt,
with the means and appliances at hand, it might have created a consider-
able fleet. In no respect was the improvidence of this Government more
forcibly illustrated than in the administration of its naval affairs ; or its
unfortunate choice of ministers more signally displayed than in the selection
as Secretary of the Navy of Mr. Mallory of Florida, a notoriously weak
man, who was slow and blundering in his ofiice, and a butt in Congress
for his ignorance of the river geography of the country.
The consequences of the defenceless and exposed condition of the Con-
federate sea-coast were soon to be realized ; and many intelligent men
already took it as a foregone conclusion, that in the progress of the war the
Confederacy would lose not only all her sea-ports, but every fort and bat-
tery to which the floating guns of the enemy could get access.
In the year 1861, two naval expeditions were sent down the Carolina
coast ; and their results gave serious indications of what was to be ex-
pected from this arm of the enemy's service on the slight fortifications of
our ocean frontier. The first of these expeditions was designed against
Ilatteras Inlet. To reduce two extemporized works there, mounting alto-
gether fifteen guns, the enemy, with his usual prodigality of preparation
and care to ensure victory, sent an enormous sea armament, carrying one
hundred heavy guns, and a naval and military force numbering not less
than three thousand men. The fleet was under the command of Commo-
dore Stringham, while Maj.-Gen. Butler, of Massachusetts, commanded the
force intended to operate on land. On the 26th of August the expedition
sailed from Fortress Monroe, arriving off Hatteras on the 28th. Three
hundred and fifteen men, with a twelve-pound rifled gun, and twelve-
THE POET EOTAL EXPEDITION. 19S
pound howitzer, were landed safely, but iu attempting to land more, two
gunboats were swamped in tbe surf. In the mean time the fleet opened
a tremendous bombardment upon one of the Confederate works. Fo)-t
Clark. The ships, secure in their distance, and formidable b}^ their long-
range guns, kept up a terrific fire, wdiich rained nine and eleven inch shells
upon the fort, at the rate of seven in a minute, shattering to pieces the
wooden structures exposed, killing and wounding a few of the men, and
cutting down the flag-staif from Avhich floated the Confederate ensign.
Finding the \vork untenable, it was decided by Commodore Barron, the
Confederate oflicer in command, to retire to Fort Hatteras.
At half-past eight o'clock the next morning, the Federal fleet steamed
in from the ocean, and approaching within a mile and a quarter of Fort
Hatteras, rene\ved the bombardment. The unequal combat continued for
some hours. Assaulted by nearly a hundred heavy cannon, the fort was
unable to reach effectively with its feeble thirty-two jjounders, the ships
which lay at a safe distance, pouring from their ten-inch rifle jjivot guns a
Btorin of shells upon the bomb-proofs and batteries. About noon, the fort
surrendered. The loss of the Confederates was ten killed, thirteen
wounded, and six hundred and sixty-five prisoners. The Federals had five
But the Federals were to obtain a much more important success at a
point on the coast further south. In the latter part of October a great
fieet of war-ships and transports began to arrive at Old Point, and in a
few days they were ready for their departure. So formidable an arma-
ment had never before assembled in the waters of America. The naval
force was under the command of Capt. Dupont, flag-oflicer of the South
Atlantic Blockading Squadron ; it consisted of fifteen war-steamers ; the
land force was embarked in thirty steam vessels and six sailing ships,
and was under the command of Gen. T. W. Sherman. The whole force
fell very little below twenty-five thousand men.
On the 3d of November the fleet was descried approaching the south-
ern coast of South Carolina ; and then for the first time it became appa-
rent that the point they sought was Port Poyal harbour. To defend the
harbour and approaches to Beaufort, the Confederates had erected two
sand forts — one at Hilton Head, called Fort "Walker, and the other at Bay
Point, called Fort Beauregard. The first had sixteen guns mounted, most
of them thirty-two pounders. Fort Beauregard mounted eight guns, none
of the heaviest calibre. The garrisons and forces in the vicinity, number-
ing about three thousand men, were under the command of Gen. Drayton.
Having carefully reconnoitred the position and strength of the forts, a
bombardment was opened on Fort Walker in the morning of the Tth of
November. The fleet steamed forward, delivering its broadsides with
neageless violence, then turning in a sharp elliptic, it steamed back in the
194 THE LOST CAUSE.
same order, so as to fire the other broadside at Fort "Walker, and load in
time to open on Fort Beauregard on getting within range. This manceuvre
doubtless disturbed the aim of the artillerists in the forts ; they fired
wildly and with but little eflect. The dense masses of smoke which the
wind drove clear of the ships, and packed against the land batteries, ob-
structed their aim, and afi'orded only occasional views of the enemy through
the lifting cloud. After sustaining a bombardment of about four hours,
the forts surrendered. The condition of Fort "Walker, at this time, accord-
ing to the oflicial report of Gen. Drayton, was " all but three of the guns
on the water front disabled, and only five hundred pounds of powder in the
magazine." The garrisons and the men outside the forts retreated across
the plain separating them from the woods. The Federal loss in the en-
gagement was eight killed and twenty-three wounded. The Confederates
lost about one hundred in killed and wounded, all their cannon, a number
of small arms, and all the stores collected in and around the forts.
The capture of Port Royal was an important Federal success. It gave
to the enemy a point for his squadrons to find shelter, and a convenient
naval depot. It gave him also a foothold in the region of the Sea-Islands
cotton, and afforded him a remarkable theatre for his anti-slavery experi-
ments. The Beaufort district, commanded now by the enemy's position,
was one of the richest and most thickly settled of the State. It contained
about fifteen hundred square miles, and produced, annually, fifty millions
of pounds of rice, and fourteen thousand bales of cotton, and held a popu-
lation of nearly forty thousand, of whom more than thirty thousand were
In the month of November, 1861, there was to occur a naval exploit of
the enemy, of little prowess, but of such importance that it was to draw
off public attention from the largest operations of the war, and fix it unani-
mously upon the issues of a single incident.
THE " TKENT " AFFAIR.
On the 8th of November, Capt. Wilkes, of the United States steam
sloop-of-war San Jacinto, overhauled the English mail steamer Trent in the
Bahama Channel, and demanded the surrender of the Confederate emis-
saries, Messrs. Mason and Slidell, who were passengers on board that ves-
sel, and were proceeding with their secretaries on a mission representing the
interests of the Confederacy at the courts of England and France. The San
Jacinto had fired a shot across the bows of the mail steamer to bring her
to, and as she did not stop for that, had fired a shell which burst close by
her. The unarmed vessel was boarded by a party of marines under com-
mand of Lieut. Fairfax, who demanded the persons of the commissioners
THE TRENT AFFAIR. 1Q5
and tlieir secretaries ; and on their claiming the protection of the Britic;Ji
flag, and refusing to leave it unless by actual physical force, hands were laid
0*1 Mr. Mason, Lieut. Fairfax and another officer taking him by the colhu
of the coat on each side, and, the three other gentlemen following, the
whole party was thus transferred from the decks of the Trent. As this
Bceue was taJving place, Commander Williams, of the British Navy, who
was in charge of the English mails on board the Trent, said : " In this ship
I am the rej^resentative of Her Majesty's Government, and I call upon the
officers of the ship and passengers generally, to mark my words, when in
the name of the British Government, and in distinct language, I denounce
this as an illegal act, an act in violation of international law ; an act indeed
of wanton piracy, which, had we the means of defence, you would not
dare to attempt."
The news of this remarkable outrage was received in England with a
storm of popular indignation. The very day it reached Liverpool, a public
meeting was held, earnestly calling upon the Government to assert the
dignity of the British flag, and demand prompt reparation for the outrage.
This appeal went up from all classes and parties of the people. The
British Government exhibited a determined sentiment and a serious concern
in the matter. The Earl of Derby, who had been consulted by the Govern-
ment, approved the resentful demand which it proposed to make upon the
United States, and suggested that ship-owners should instruct the captains
of outward-bound vessels to signalize any English vessels, that war with
America was probable. The Liverpool underwriters approved the sugges-
tion. The British Government made actual preparations for war. Rein-
forcements were sent to Canada, together with munitions of war for the
few fortifications England possessed in that colony.
Meanwhile the North was revelling in what it supposed the cheap glory
of the Trent afiair, and making an exhibition of vanity and insolence con-
cerning it, curious even among the usual exaggerations of that people.
The act of Capt. Wilkes was not only approved by the Federal Secretary
of the Navy ; it was extravagantly applauded by him. He accumulated
words of praise, and declared that it had been marked by " intelligence,
ability, decision, and firmness." The man who had made himself a hero
in a proceeding in which he encoimtered no peril, received the public and
official thanks of the Congress sitting at Washington. The Northern prees
and people appeared to be almost insane over the wonderful exploit. The
city of New York ofiered Capt. Wilkes the hospitality of the city. Boston
gave him a festival. Gov. Andi-ew of Massachusetts declared that the act
of taking four unarmed men from an unarmed vessel was " one of the most
illustrious services that had rendered the war memorable," and exulted in
the idea that Capt. Wilkes had " fired his shot across the bows of the ship
that bore the English lion at its head," forgetting that the ship bore no
196 THE LOST CAUSE.
guns to reply to a courage so adventurous. Tlie New York Times wrote
in this strain : " There is no drawback to our jubilation. The universal
Yankee nation is getting decidedly awake. As for Capt. Wilkes and his
command, let the handsome thing be done. Consecrate another Fourtli
of July to him ; load him down with services of plate, and swords of the
cunningest and costliest art. Let us encourage the happy inspiration that
achieved such a victory."
But while the " universal Yankee nation " was thus astir, and in a rage
of vanity, the South watched the progress of the Trent question with a keen
and eager anxiety. It was naturally supposed, looking at the determina-
tion of England on the one side and the unbounded enthusiasm in the
Northern States in maintaining their side of the question, that war would
ensue between the parties. It was already imagined in the South that
such a war would break the naval power of tlie North, distract her means,
and easily confer independence on the Southern Confederacy. There were
orators in Richmond who already declared that the key of the blockade had
been lost in the trough of the Atlantic. If the North stood to the issue, the
prospect was clear. Gov. Letcher of Yirginia addressed a public meeting
in Yirginia, and, in characteristic language, declared that he prayed
nightly that in this matter, " Lincoln's backbone might not give way.'
The one condition of war between England and the North, was that the
latter would keep its position, and sustain the high tone with which it had
avowed the act of Capt. Wilkes.
But this condition was to fail suddenly, signally ; and the whole world
was to be amused by a diplomatic collapse, such as is scarcely to be found
in the records of modern times. When the arrest of Messrs. Mason and
Slidell was first made known at Washington, Secretary Seward had writ-
ten to the Federal minister in London, advising him to decline any ex-
planations, and suggesting that the grounds taken by the British Govern-
ment should first be made known, and the argument commence with it.
But the British Government entered into no discussion ; it disdained the
argument of any law question in the matter ; and with singular dignity
made the naked and imperative demand for the surrender of the commis-
sioners and their secretaries. Mr. Seward wrote back a letter, which must
ever remain a curiosity in diplomacy. He volunteered the argument for
the surrender of the parties ; he promised that they should be " cheer-
fully " liberated ; he declared that he did it in accordance with " the most
cherished principles " of American statesmanship ; but in the close of this
remarkable letter he could not resist the last resort of demagogueism in
mentioning the captured commissioners, who had for weeks been paraded
as equal to the fruits of a victory in the field, as persons of no importance,
and saying : " If the safety of this Union required the detention of the
captured persons, it would be the right and duty of this Government to
THE TRENT AFFAIR. 197
detain tliem.'' If tliere was aiiytliing wanting to complete the sliame of
this collapse, it was the shallow show of alacrity at concession, and the
attempt to substitute a sense of justice for what all men of common diS'
cernment knew was the alarm of cowardice.
The concession of Mr. Seward was a blow to the hopes of the Southern
people. The contemplation of the spectacle of their enemy's humiliation
in it was but little compensation for their disappointment of a European
complication in the war.* Indeed, the conclusion of the Trent aflair gave
a sharp check to the long cherished imagination of the interference of
England in the war, at least to the extent of lier disputing the blockade,
whicli had begun to tell on the war-power and general condition of the
Confederacy. The Trent correspondence was followed by declarations, on
the Government side in the British Parliament, too plain to be mistaken.
In the early part of February, 1863, Earl Russell had declared that the
blockade of the American ports had been effective from the 15th of Au-
gust, in the face of the facts that the despatches of Mr. Bunch, the English
consul at Chai-leston, said that it was not so ; and that authentic accounts
and letters of merchants showed that any ships, leaving for the South,
could be insured by a premium of seven and a half to fifteen per cent.
But in the House of Commons, Mr. Gregory disputed the minister's state-
ment, mentioned the evidence we have referred to, and asserted that Eng-
land's non-observation of the Treaty of Paris was a deception for the Con-
federate States, and an ambuscade for the interests of commerce through-
out the world.
* The Richmond Examiner had the following to say of the attitude of the enemy in the matter :
" Never, since the humiliation of the Doge and Senate of Genoa before the footstool of Louis XIV.,
has any nation consented to a degradation so deep. If Lincoln and Seward intended to give them
up at a menace, why, their people will ask, did they ever capture the ambassadours ? Why the ex-
ultant hurrah over the event, that went up from nineteen millions of throats ? Why the glorification
of Wilkes ? Why the cowardly insults to two unarmed gentlemen, their close imprisonment, and
the bloodthirsty movements of Congress in their regard ? But, most of all, why did the Government
of Lincoln indulge a full Cabinet with an unanimous resolution that, under no circumstances, should
the United States surrender Messrs. Slidell and Mason ? Why did they encourage the popular senti-
ment to a similar position ? The United States Government and people swore the great oath to
stand on the ground they had taken ; the American eagle was brought out ; he screeched his loudest
Bcrcech of defiance — then
♦ Dropt like a craven cock his conquered wing '
ftt the nrst growl of the lion. This is the attitude of the enemy."
eKNEEAL OHAEAOTEE OF THE MILITAEY EVENTS OF THE TEAK 1862. — THE CONFEDERATE SITTT-
ATION IN KENTUCKY. — GEN. A. S. JOHNSTON's COMMAND AND POSITION. — BATTLE OF
FISHING CEEEK. — THE CONFEDERATE EIGHT IN KENTUCKY. — GEN. CRITTENDEN's COM-
MAND IN EXTREME STRAITS. — DIFFICULTY IN SUBSISTING IT. — THE DECISION TO GIVE BAT-
TLE TO THE ENEMY. ZOLLICOFFER'S BRIGADE. — THE CONTESTED HILL. — DEATH OF ZOLLI-
COFFER. DEFEAT OF THE CONFEDERATES. CRITTENDEN CROSSES THE CUMBERLAND.
HIS LOSSES. — IMPORTANCE OF THE DISASTER. — DESIGNS OF THE ENEMY IN "WESTERN
KENTUCKY. — POPULAR DELUSION AS TO JOHNSTON'S STRENGTH. — HOPELESSNESS OF Hlg
DEFENCE. — OFFICIAL APATHY IN RICHMOND. — BEAUEEGARD's CONFERENCE WITH JOHN-
STON. — THE TENNESSEE AND CUMBERLAND RIVERS. — THE AVENUE TO NASHVILLE. —
grant's ascent OF THE TENNESSEE. — CAPTURE OF FORT HENRY. — NOBLE AND GALLANT
CONDUCT OF GEN. TILGHMAN. — BATTLE OF FORT DONELSON. — JOHNSTON'S REASONS FOB
MAKING A BATTLE THERE. — COMMANDS OF BUCKNEE, PILLOW, AND FLOYD. SITE AND
STRENGTH OF THE FORT. BATTLE OF THE TRENCHES. ENGAGEMENT OF THE GUNBOATS.
TWO days' SUCCESS OF THE CONFEDERATES. SUFFERING OF THE TROOPS FROM COLD.
EXPOSURE OF THE WOUNDED. — FEDERAL REINFORCEMENTS. — THE CONFEDERATE COUNCIL
OF WAR. — PLAN OF ATTACK, TO EXTRICATE THE GARRISON. A FIERCE AND TERRIBLE
CONFLICT. — THE FEDERALS FORCED BACK TOWARDS THE WYNN's FERRY ROAD. — THE OP-
PORTUNITY OF EXIT LOST. — GEN. BUCKNEr's EXPLANATION. — A COMMENTARY ON MILI-
TARY HESITATION. — HOW THE DAY WAS- LOST. — NINE HOURS OF COMBAT. — SCENES ON
THE BATTLE-FIELD. COUNCIL OF CONFEDERATE GENERALS. — GEN. PILLOW'S PROPOSITION.
— LITERAL EEl'ORT OF THE CONVERSATION OF GENS. FLOYD, PILLOW, AND BUCKNER. — A
SURRENDER DETERMINED. ESCAPE OF FLOYD AND PILLOW. — BUCKNEr's LETTER TO
GRANT. — Johnston's movement to nashville. — excitement there. — retreat of
Johnston's command to murfreesboro'. — panic in nashville. — capture of eoanokb
ISLAND by the ENEMY. — BUENSIDE's EXPEDITION. — GEN. WISE's ESTIMATE OF THE IM-
PORTANCE OF ROANOKE ISLAND. — HIS CORRESPONDENCE AND INTERVIEWS WITH SECRE-
TARY BENJAMIN. DEFENCES OF THE ISLAND. — NAVAL ENGAGEMENT. COMMODORE
LYNOh's SQUADRON. LANDING OF THE ENEMY ON THE ISLAND. DEFECTIVE EECON-
NOISSANOE OF THE CONFEDERATES. THEIR WORKS FLANKED. THE SURRENDER. — PUR-
SUIT OF THE CONFEDERATE GUNBOATS. — EXTENT OF THE DISASTER. — CENSURE OF THE
EICHMO>rD AUTHORITIES. — SECRETARY BENJAMIN ACCUSED BY THE CONFEDERATE CONGRESS.
The year 1862 is a remarkable one in the history of the war. It
opened with a fearful train of disasters to the Confederacy tliat brought it
THE BATTLE OF FISHESTG CEEEK. 199
almost to the brink of despair, and then was suddenly illuminated by suc-
cesses that placed it on the highest pinnacle of hope, and put it even in
instant expectation of its independence.
In the latter part of 1861, while the Confederacy was but little active,
the ]^orth was sending into camp, from her great population, regiments
numbered by hundreds ; was drilling her men, heaping up ammunition
and provisions, building gunboats for the western rivers, and war-ships
for the coast, casting mortars and moulding cannon. She was preparing,
with the opening of the next campaign, to strike those heavy blows in
Tennessee and Louisiana under which the Confederate States reeled and
staggered almost to fainting, and from which they recovered by a series of
successes in Virginia, the most important of the war, and the most bril-
liant in the martial annals of any people.
We enter first upon the story of disaster. Despite the victory of Bel-
mont, the Confederate situation in Kentucky was one of extreme weakness.
Gen. Albert Sydney Johnston had assumed command of the Confederate
forces in the Western department. He had occupied Bowling Green in
Kentucky, an admirably selected position, with Green Biver along his
front, and railway communication to Nashville and the whole Soutli.
Had he simf>ly to contend with an enemy advancing from Louisville, he
would have had but little to fear ; but Grant had command of tlie Cuin-
berland and Tennessee rivers, and while he might thus advance with his
gunboats and transports upon Nashville, Buell, the other Federal com-
mander, was prepared to attack in front.
BATTLE OF FISHmG CEEEK.
Having failed, as we have seen, at Columbus, the next movement of the
enemy in Kentucky was to be made against the Confederate right at
Mill Springs, on the upper waters of the Cumberland. Brig.-Gen. Zolli-
cofFer had been reinforced and superseded by Maj.-Gen. Crittenden, and a
small but gallant array had been collected for the defense of the moun-
tains. The position of the Confederates was advanced across the Cumber-
land to Camp Beech Grove ; and the camp was fortified with earth-works.
The Federal army in Eastern Kentucky occupied Somerset and Colum-
bia, towns to the north of, but in the vicinity of the upper part of the
Cumberland Biver. Two strong columns of the enemy were thus advanc-
ing upon Gen. Crittenden ; and he formed the determination to fall upon
the nearest column, that under Thomas advancing from Columbia, before
the arrival of the troops under General Schoepf from Somerset.
But there were other reasons which determined Crittenden with hip
«mall army of about four thousand men to risk a battle against Thomat*'
200 THE LOST CAUSE.
column, which consisted of two brigades of infantiy, and was greatly his
snj)eriour in artillery. His troops had been in an almost starving condi-
tion for some time. For several weeks bare existence in the camp was
very precarious, from want of provisions and forage. Regiments fre-
quently subsisted on one third rations, and this very frequently of bread
alone. Wayne County, which was alone productive in this region of Ken-
tucky, had been exhausted, and the neighbouring counties of Tennessee
could furnish nothing to the support of the army. The condition of the
roads and the poverty of the intervening section rendered it impossible to
transport from Knoxville, a distance of one hundred and thirty miles.