Horace Greeley.

The American conflict: a history of the great rebellion in the United States of America, 1860-'64 online

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drawn back across the Atchafalaya to
Brashear; Berwick, just across the
bayou, having been needlessly, there-
fore culpably, bombarded and ulti-
mately burned " by a Mr. Ryder, in
command of our only gunboat in the
bayou. There was abundance of fuss
and aimless activity, but no real
preparation at Brashear, whither Lt.-
Col. Stickney had be^n recently sent
over by Gen. Emory, at New Orleans,
to take command : there were no in-
trenchments, though thousands of



willing contrabands were there to
dig them ; no mustering and drilling
of the himdreds of idle convalescents,
in the hospital camps, awaiting or-
ders to rejoin their regiments ; and
when at length word came that the
Eebels had struck our line of com-
munication and supply at Lafourche,
well toward New Orleans, Stickney
hurried down, with most of his effec-
tives, to its defense. The enemy
easily swept over Thibodeaux, Terre
Bonne, and Bayou Boeuf, capturing
our few men stationed at each post ;
while a cooperating force, -imder
Gens. Mouton and Green, suddenly
appeared" amid the ruins of Ber-
wick, threatening Brashear, which
was held by a sick Colonel and a
motley garrison, without organization
or discipline ; who had hardly begun
to fight when a charge was made on
their rear by Major Hunter, with
326 Texans, who had crossed the
bayou in row-boats during the pre-
ceding night, and, working their way
through swamps which were on our
side supposed impassable, were ready
to rush in at the opportune moment,
while Col. Majors, from the direction
of Lafourche, barred all egress to or
reenforcement from our rear. Fort
Buchanan, mounting ten heavy guns,
was formidable in front or toward the
bayou only : it could not fire a shot
eastward ; and, in a few minutes, it
was stormed and carried by the rag-
ged Texans, who had easily disposed
of the infantry mob behind it. Ry-
der, with his gunboat, made all haste
to run away ; affording a ft-esh proof
that Vandals are almost always cow-
ards. It was still early morning
when Taylor, Mouton, and Green, as
well as Hunter, were in Brashear,



■• June 19.

VOL, n. — 22



w June 22.



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338



THE AMKBIOAN OONFLIOT.



wliicli we had shamefully lost, with
nearly 1,000 prisoners, a strong fort,
.10 heavy guns, many small arms, land
tents, equipments, supplies, valued
by the enemy at $6,000,000, and pos-
sibly worth to us $2,000,000. Thou-
sands of negroes, liberated by Banks's
triumphant advance to Alexandria,
were reduced by this and our kindred
reverses to a harsher slavery than
that from which they had so recently
been delivered.

The road to New Orleans" — at
least, to Algiers, its western suburb-
was now open; for Lafourche had
been evacuated by Stickney after a
gallant defense by the 47lii Massa-
chusetts, in which they had repulsed
two assaults; but Taylor was too
weak to make the great venture. If
he had, as is asserted, but 4,000 men
at Brashear and between it and La-
fourche, he could not have assailed
New Orleans with more than double
that number at most ; and, so long
as Farragut held the mastery of the
river, this was not enough even to
compel Banks to raise the siege of
Port Hudson."

Moving north instead of east,
Taylor's van, tmder Green, menaced
Donaldsonville, while a small force
of Texans, raiding into Plaquemine,
burned two steamboats lying there,
and took 68 convalescents prisoners ;
but were soon shelled out by the
gunboat Winona.

Green next attempted" to carry



Donaldsonville by assault ; but Far-
ragut had been seasonably apprised
of his intention, and had sent thither
the Princess Royal, Eineo, and Wi-
nona; which, cooperating with the
little garrison (225) of the 28th Maine,
Maj. Bullen, tore the assaulting col-
umn with their shells, and soon put
the Rebels to flight, with a loss of 200
killed and wounded, and 124 prison-
ers. Among their killed was Col.
Phillips.

Pollard reports another %ht," six
miles from Donaldsonville, between
1,200 Texans, under Green, and " the
enemy, over 4,000 strong;" wherein
we were beaten, with a loss of 500
killed and woimded, 300 prisoners, 8
guns, many small arms, and the flag
of a New York regiment. Banks's
report is silent with r^ard to this
flght; yet it seems that a collision
actually took place ; the forces on our
side being commanded by Gen. Dud-
ley, and our loss considerable — 450
killed and wounded, with two guns,
says a newspaper report. The a£fair
can not have been creditable to the
Union side, or it would not have been
so completely hushed up.

Gen. Banks's force in the field
having been rendered disposable by
the fall of Port Hudson, Taylor and
his subordinates made haste to aban-
don the country east of the Atchafa-
laya; evacuating" Brashear City just
one month after its capture ; but not
till they had carefully stripped it of



•• Tne, Louisiana Deirwcrai (Alexandria, July
1) has a magnifying Rebel letter from one en-
gaged in the capture of Brashear, who claims
for that post an importanoe hardly second to
Vicksburg, numbers 1,800 prisoners and 6,000
negroes among the spoils, and adds :

*' This brilliant campaign of Gten. Taylor has
another great object in view, and one of vast
importance, namely: A diversion to force the
enemy to raise the siege of Port Hudson. He



now has his choice, to lose New Orleans or to
abandon his operations against Port Hndsofi,
and retire with his beaten and demoralized army
into that city."

"• Banks says that barely 400 of our men at
one time held New Orleans ; but the river and
the fleet, with his army not far away, were ita
main defenses.



'June 23, 1 A.M. *»July 12.



' July 2%



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PBANKLIN'S FAILURE AT SABINE PASS.



339



every thing of value that was either
movable or combustible.

Gen. Banks now united with Gen.
Grant in urging an immediate com-
bined movement upon Mobile; but
the suggestion was overruled at
Washington, in deference to the ur-
gent representations of Texan refu-
gees ; and Gen. B. directed" to op-
erate against Texas. He was advised
that a movement by the* Red river
on Natchitoches or Shreveport was
deemed most feasible, but was au-
thorized to act as his own judgment
should dictate. Deeming the route
suggested impracticable at that sea-
son, he decided to demonstrate by
way of the Sabine, with Houston as
his objective point. Accordingly, an
expedition, including a land force of
4,000 men, was fitted out at New
Orleans, and dispatched" to the Sa-
bine, under command of Maj.-Gen.
Franklin; the naval force, detailed
by Admiral Farragut, consisting of
the gunboats Clifton, Sachem, Ari-
zona, and Granite City, under com-
mand of Lt. Fred. Crocker. Banks
gave Franklin written instructions
to debark his troops 10 or 12 miles
below Sabine Pass; thence moving
rapidly on the Rebel defenses, unless
a naval reconnoissance should prove
those works unoccupied, or so weak
that they could be easily and prompt-
ly reduced by bombardment.

Decently managed, this movement
could not have miscarried. The
troops were abundant and efficient ;
the weather fine; the sea smooth;
and the enemy unwarned of the
point of attack. But Franklin and
Crocker decided to take the works at
once by a naval attack ; and, with-
out landing the troops, moved" di-



rectly upon them with the gunboats,
aft;er having been 24 hours in sight,
so Jte to give the Rebels ample warn-,
ing of their peril.

The result proved this a foolhar-
dy procedure. The gunboats were
old merchant steamers, of inferior
strength ; their guns were of mode-
rate caliber, and made no impression
on the Rebel works ; while several ot
them soon grounded in the shallow
water of the Pass, where they were
exposed to certain destruction by the
fire of the batteries, and were soon
torn to pieces ; when Crocker surren-
dered the Clifton, as Lt. Johnson did
the Sachem ; each having been quick-
ly disabled by a shot through her
boiler — Franklin thus achieving the
distinction of being the first Ameri-
can General [for Renshaw was not
a General] who managed to lose a
fleet in a contest with land batteries
alone. The Arizona grounded, and
had her engine disabled; but was
kedged off with difficulty at mid-
night, having received no damage.
She was, in fact, of too heavy draft
to run fairly abreast of the batteries
— at least, to maneuver there with
safety. Crocker and Johnson fought
their vessels bravely and well; but
they were light-draft boats, utterly
unfit to assail such batteries, and
should not have been impelled to
their certain destruction. Our loss
in this affair, beside the two boats
and their 15 heavy rifled guns,
was 50 killed and wounded, beside
200 prisoners — in all, just about equal
to the whole number of Rebels en-
gaged ; of whom (says Pollard) " not
a man was lost on our side, nor a
gun injured."

Franklin had still his 4,000 sol-



' Aug. 12; by dispatch received Aug. 27.



*« Sept 6.



*» Sept 8, 3 p. M.



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340



THE AMBEIOAN CONFLICT.



dierSj with his transports and two re-
maining gunboats ; while there were
not Bebel soldiers enough within a
day's ride to h^ye brought to a halt
one of his regimepts, properly led.
Dick Taylor's force, such as it was,
was far away; Houston, flanking
Galveston, was but 40 miles distant ;
Gen. Washbume was at Brashear,
with a force equal to Franklin's,
ready to cooperate in the purposed
advance, in case the latter had taken
these poor earthworks, defended by a
captain " and 250 men, and sent back
his transports for reenforcements.
Instead of taking them, however, or
even trying, Franklin — ^finding no
place to land where he might not get
his feet wet — slunk meekly back to
New Orleans;" leaving the Texans
to exult, very fairly, over a fruitful
victory gained against odds of at least
twenty to one.

Gen. Banks now concentrated his
disposable forces on the Atchafalaya,
with intent to advance directly upon
Shreveport; but found this utterly
impracticable. The country west
and north-west of Brashear had been
so exhausted by the armies that had
successively occupied it that no food
and little forage was to be gleaned
from it ; an intense drouth now pre-
vailed all over that flat region ; where,
though bayous abound, living springs
and brooks of drinkable water are
scarce ; the roads were few and very
bad, often winding for miles through
dense forests ; and it was not possi-
ble to transport by wagons all the
food and forage needed by an army
strong enough to overcome all proba-
ble resistance. No course seemed
open for a fulfillment of the desires
and expectations of the Government



concerning Texas but that of a ma-
rine expedition; which was accord-
ingly resolved on.

Meantime, a considerable force had
been sent, under Gen. F. J. Herron,
to Morganzia, opposite but above
Port Hudson, where the Eebels had
a vicious habit of taking advantage
of the narrowness and crookedness
of the Mississippi to * bushwhack '
our passing vessels. No resistance
being here encountered, an outpost
had been established several miles
inland, consisting of the 19th Iowa
and 26th Indiana, with two guns,
under Lt.-Col. Leake, with 160 cav-
alry, under Major Montgomery — in
all, some 600 to 800 strong. Though
it was known that Green, with a far
stronger Rebel force, was in their
front across the Atchafalaya, no pro-
per vigilance was exercised; and,
three weeks after this outpost had
been established, it was surprised** by
Green, who, with a far superior force,
crossed the bayou during a dark
night, surrounded our camp, and
captured our guns and most of our
infantry — ^not less than 400, inclu-
ding Leake and Lt.-Col. Eose. The
cavalry escaped with a loss of five
men. "We had 14 killed and 40
wounded. Gen. N. J. T. Dana had
just succeeded Herron in command
at Morganzia.

In order to mask his intended
movement on Texas by sea. Gen.
Banks now pushed out a considera-
ble force, under Gen. C. C. "Wash-
bume, to Opelousas, which was reach-
ed without a conflict ; but, when
Washbume commenced ** his retreat
to the Teche, pursuant to orders, the
Rebels, imder Taylor and Green,
followed sharply on his track, and.



*• F. A. Odium.



^ Arriving Sept 11.



* Sept. 30.



' Nov. 1,



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aSNS. BAKES AND DANA IN WBSTBRN TBXAS.



841



Btealing np,** under cover of woods,
to our right, under Gen. Burbridge,
struck suddenly and heavily, about
noon, while the 23d Wisconsin was
engaged in voting for State officers —
that being election day in their
State. That regiment was speedily
reduced from 226 to 98 men — many
of the rest, of course, prisoners, in-
cluding its Colonel, Quppy, who was
wounded ; while the brigade of which
it formed a part went into the fight
numbering 1,010, and came out 861.
The loss was mainly in the 67th In-
diana, which ingloriously surrender-
ed without having lost a man. Our
right, thus suddenly assailed in great
force, and with intense fury, was
broken, and was saved from utter
destruction by the devoted bravery
of the 23d "Wisconsin and the efficient
service of Nim's battery. We lost
one gun, which was not recovered ;
the Rebels, upon the bringing up
of the 3d division, Gen. McGinnis,
retreating rapidly to the shelter of
the adjacent woods. Washbume re-
ports a loss of 26 killed, 124 wound-
ed, and 566 missing (prisoners);
total: 716. The Rebels lost 60 killed,
65 prisoners, and 300 wounded.



Gen. Banks's new expedition, 6,000
strong, led by Banks himself, but
more immediately commanded by
G^n. Dana, made " directly for the
Rio Grande, debarking" at Brazos
Santiago, driving off the small caval-
ry force there stationed, and follow-
ing it to Brownsville, 30 miles above,
which was entered by our advance on
the 16th ; as was Point Isabel two days
later. TTie Rebel works commanding
Aransas Pass were next taken by as-
sault, which gave us their guns and



100 prisoners. Moving thence on
Pass CavaUo, commanding the west-
em entrance to Matagorda Bay, our
army invested Fort Esperanza, which
was thereupon abandoned ; most of
its garrison escaping to the main land.

Banks had expected to follow up
tliis success — which gave us control
of the coast from the Rio Grande to
the Brazos — ^by a movement on In-
dianola or on Matagorda : but this
involved a collision with whatever
Rebel force could be collected in
Texas; and he deemed himself too
weak to challenge such an encounter.
With a moderate reenforcement, he
might have seized Galveston Island —
sealing up the coast of Texas against
blockade-runners : as it was, he felt
obliged to desist and return to New
Orleans.

Gen. Dana, after Banks had left
him in command at Brownsville, sent
an expedition up the river 120 miles
to Roma, which encountered much
privation, but no enemy; then an-
other 70 miles eastward, toward Cor-
pus Christi, which foimd no Rebel
force in this direction. The Rebels
had shifted their Mexican trade to
Eagle Pass, 850 miles up, whither
Dana was unable to follow them.
Being aftierward ordered to Pass Ca-
vallo, he found " two of our brigades
in quiet possession of Indianola, on
the main land, with an equal force
on the Matagorda peninsula opposite,
and all Texas west of the Colorado
virtually abandoned to our arms.
He believed we had force enough
then on that coast to have moved
boldly inland and contested the mas-
tery of the State ; but he was over-
ruled, and soon relieved from com-
mand.



••Not. 3.



•» Oct 26.



• Not. 2.



•Jan. 12, 1864.



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342



THE AMERICAN OONPLIOT.



XVI.

THE AEMY OF THE POTOMAC UNDER BTJRNSIDE

AND HOOKER.



Gen. Bubnsidb reluctantly, and
with unfeigned self-distrust, succeed-
ed* to the command of the Army of
the Potomac. The devotion to Mc-
Olellan of its principal officers, and
of many of their subordinates, was
BO ardent that any other commander
must have had a poor chance of
hearty, unquestioning support; and
Bumside would gladly have shrunk
from the ordeal. Having no alterna-
tive, however, but disobedience of
orders, he accepted the trust, and im-
mediately commenced preparations
for a movement of his forces down
the Rappahannock to Feedebicks-
BUBG, which he had selected as on
the proper as well as the direct line of
operations from Washington against
Richmond : masking his purpose, for
a few days, by menacing an advance
on Gordonsville. Lee soon* penetra-
ted his real design, and commenced
a parallel movement down the south
bank of the river; while J. E. B.
Stuart, raiding* across at "Warrenton
Springs, entered Warrenton just after
our rear-guard had left it, obtaining
ample confirmation of his chiefs
conclusions ; whereupon, the residue of
Longstreet's corps was moved rapidly
eastward. Meantime, Gen. Sumner's
advance had reached* Falmouth, and
attempted to cross to Fredericksburg,
but been easily repulsed ; the bridges
being burned and our pontoons^-ow-
ing to a misunderstanding between
Gens. Halleck and Bumside, each of
whom conceived that the other was



to impel their dispatch from Wash-
ington — did not start so early as
they should have done, and then ex-
perienced detention from bad roads
and grounded vessels on the way : so
that they did not reach Falmouth till
after most of Lee's army had been
concentrated on the heights across the
river, ready to dispute its passage.

Fredericksburg was summoned * by
Gen. Sunmer : the authorities reply-
ing that, while it would not be used to
assail us, its occupation by our troops
would be resisted to the utmost.
Most of the inhabitants thereupon
abandoned the place, which was
occupied by Barksdale's Mississippi
brigade, sharp-shooting from behind
houses ; while Lee's engineers pressed
the fortification of the heights behind
it, and W/tde Hampton dashed* across
the river above, raiding up to Dum-
fries and the Occoquan, capturing
200 cavalry and a number of wag-
ons; and a like dash across was
made below Port Royal, in boats,
by part of iBeale's regiment ; taking
some prisoners. " Our gunboats hav-
ing steamed up the river so far as
Port Royal, D. H. Hill assailed'
them with cannon, and compelled
them to retire; when he proceeded
to fortify the right bank, so as to
prevent their return.

The Rappahannock, above Port
Royal, being generally narrow, with
high bluffs often approaching it, now
on one side, then on the other, Lee
decided that he could not prevent its



* Not. 8, 1862. • Nov. 16. » Nov. 18. « Nov. 17, • Nov. 21. • Nov. 28. ' Dea 6.



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BUBNSIDE BBFOBB PBEDBBIOESBUBa.



343




rBKDKBIOKSBUSfi.



passage at points where the river was
fiilly commanded from its blnflfe on
the north, while a considerable inter-
vale adjoined it on the south; but
the tenacity with which Fredericks-
burg was held by sharp-shooters com-
pelled Bumside to dislodge them by
bombardment from the Falmouth
blu£b, whereby considerable damage



was done to the buildings, though
less than might naturally have been
expected. What with firing on it
from either side, however, and the
often wanton devastations of our sol-
diers, it was ultimately reduced to a
state of general dilapidation.

Our army being at length in posi-
tion along the north bank, Bumside



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3U



THE AMERICAN OOKFLICT.



commenced* throwing over pontoons
to Fredericksburg; also at a point
nearly two miles below. The Engi-
neer corps had laid the upper pon-
toon two-thirds of the way, when day-
light exposed them to the fire of the
enemy's sharp-shooters, which drove
them off; and the work was comple-
ted by the 7th Michigan, who had 5
killed and 16 wounded, including
Lt.-Col. Baxter. Supported and fol-
lowed by the 19th and 20th Massa-
chusetts, they speedily finished the
job, having dashed across the river
in boats ;* taking 35 prisoners. "We
lost 300 in all in laying our pontoons
and clearing the city of the enemy.

Gen. Franklin, on our left, en-
countered less resistance — the make
of the land being there favorable to
us — and laid his pontoons without
loss. Possession of both banks being
thus secured, two other pontoons
were laid at either point, and our ar-
my mainly pushed across during that
and the following days." The next
was that chosen for the assault on
the Rebel position ; whose strength,
though under-estimated by Bumside,
was known to be very considerable.

Lee's army, fully 80,000 strong,
was stretched along and behind the
Bouthem bluffs of the Rappahan-
nock from a point a mile or so above
Fredericksburg, to one four or five
miles below. At its right, the bluffi
recede two miles or so : the Massapo-
nax here falling into the Rappahan-
nock; the ground being decidedly
less favorable to the defensive. It
was organized in two grand corps,
whereof that of Stonewall Jackson
held the right ; that of Longstreet
the left. A. P. Hill conunanded



the left advance of Jackson's corps ;
which was confironted by Franklin's
grand division, about 40,000 strong.
On our right, or in and before Fred-
ericksburg, were the grand divisions
of Hooker and Sumner, numbering
at least 60,000. But, while 300 Rebel
guns were advantageously posted on
every eminence and raked every foot
of ground by which they could be
approached, our heavy guns were all
posted on the north side of the river,
where their fire could rarely reach
the enemy; while they made some
havoc among our own men until
Bumside silenced them.

The weather had been cold, and
the ground was frozen; but an In-
dian Summer mildness had succeed-
ed, which filled the vaUey of the Rap-
pahannock with a dense fog, covering
for a time the formation of our col-
imms of assault ; while a portion of
our guns were firing wildly and use-
lessly; but at length a bright sun
dispelled the mist, and, at 11 a. m.,
Couch's division, on our right, emerg-
ing from among the battered build-
ings, moved swiftly to the assault.

Braver men never smiled at death
than those who climbed Marye's Hill
that fatal day; their ranks plowed
through and torn to pieces by Rebel
batteries even in the process of for-
mation ; and when at heavy cost they
had reached the foot of the hill, they
were confi'onted by a solid stone
wall, four feet high, from behind
which a Confederate brigade of in-
fantry mowed them down like grass,
exposing but their heads to our bul-
lets, and these only while themselves
firing. Never did men fight better
or die, alasl more firuitlessly than did



•Night of Deo. 10-11.

* Among the volunteers 'first to cross was



Rev. Arthur B. Fuller, Chaplain 16th Mass., who
was killed by a rifle-shot. *• Dec. 11-12.



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344 THB AMEBIOAN OOKFLIOT.



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the left. A. r. mtt-vM



•Night of Deo. 10-11.

* Among the volunteers ' flrat to croea was



:■ .. . ^ - "1



Rev. Arthur B. Fuller, Chaplain 16th Mass^ who
was killed by a rifle-shot " Dea 1 1-12.



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HBBOIO ASSAULTS OK MABTE'S HEIGHTS.



845



moet of Hancock's corps, especially
Meagher's Irish brigade, composed
<tf the 63d, 69th, and 88th New York,
the 28th Massachusetts, and the 116th
Pennsylvania, which dashed itself re-
peatedly against those impregnable
heights, until two-thirds" of its nmn-
ber strewed the ground ; when the
renmant fell back to a position of
comparative safety, and were suc-
ceeded as they had been supported,
by other brigades and divisions; each
to be exposed in its turn to like
pitiless, useless, hopeless slaughter.
Thus Hancock's and French's corps
were successively sent up against
those slippery heights, girdled with
batteries, rising, tier above tier, to
its crest, all carefully trained upon
the approaches from Fredericksbui^ ;
while that fatal stone wall — so strong
that even artillery could make no
impression on it— completely shel-
tered Barksdale's brigade, which, so
soon as our charging columns came
within rifle-shot, poured into their
fitces the deadliest storm of musketry.
Howard's division supported the two
in advance; while one division of
Wilcox's (9th, late Bumside's) corps
was detached to maintain communi-
cation with Franklin on our left.

Hooker's grand division was divi-



Online LibraryHorace GreeleyThe American conflict: a history of the great rebellion in the United States of America, 1860-'64 → online text (page 48 of 113)