Friday, December 7, 2012


The U.S.S. Sachem is seen here in the Battle of Sabine Pass, 8 September 1863. (US Naval Historical Institute)

[EDITOR"S NOTE: From the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Series 1, Volume 19, pages 396-398.)

Expedition in search of Confederate schooner from Corpus Christi
December 7,1862.
Report of Acting Master Johnson, U.S. Navy,
commanding U.S.S. Sachem

'Aransas Bay, Tex., December 8, 1862.
SIR:I beg leave to make the following report:
I caused to be captured on the night of the 6th instant, about 9 p. m.,  a small schooner and sloop loaded with salt, about ,100 bushels, and  three men belonging to Corpus Christi.. I learned from them at once  of an armed Confederate schooner having left Corpus Christi for the  pass; for the alleged purpose of sounding the channel.  I at once went  on board of U. S. bark Arthur and reported the same to her commanding officer.Lieutenant T. F. Wade. It was thought best to send  an expedition to capture her, the Arthur to proceed in advance to  Corpus Christi Pass, while a boat. expedition from the Sachem. proceeded by way of Corpus Christi Bay, The .Arthur, accordingly got underway at 3 a: m. and boats from this vessel at 6 a. m., consisting of 18 men and two boats, III charge of Mr. A. H. Reynolds, acting ensign,  and G. C. Dolliver, master's mate. 
After proceeding about 28 miles, it schooner hove in sight, standing  toward Corpus Christi. She at once changed her course and stood  direct for Corpus Christi Pass, Mr. Reynolds and the expedition chasing her, and then about 5 miles astern. The chase was continued for  8 miles, and at 11 a. m., when within about 150 yards of the Pass, and  then under a high bluff of land calle4 Padre Island, being hard pressed by the boats, she was run ashore, officers and soldiers abandoning her, and took refuge behind said hills. As soon as our boats rounded the  point of land,thev were attacked by volleys ofmusketrv from behind  those hills, wounding Mr. Reynolds badly, and killing 2 of the Sachem’s crew and wounding 2 more; also killing a man, a refugee from  Corpus Christi, whom I asked as a favor to join the expedition.
Mr. Reynolds's part)' being within 30 yards of the enemy, was compelled to land his men opposite, on Mustang Island, where he could  choose his distance, and there fought the enemy for one hour and a half, defending his boats. Receiving another wound. in the, meantime, and finding all hopes of assistance from the bark impossible, he was compelled to abandon his boats, bringing his wounded off with him, and making his retreat to this vessel by land to this bay, a distance of 30 miles, and arriving on board at 12, midnight.
I at once sent a boat on board the Arthur for her doctor, who came in  and cared for the wounded. Mr. Reynolds is badly wounded, 1 man  severely, and 1 slightly. It was ascertained that the rebels had considerable forces on "Padre Island, besides the forces on the schooner. I cannot say  too much in favor of Mr. Reynolds in so ably conducting  this expedition against such odds as were brought against him, and as  a brave and very efficient officer. And Mr. Reynolds compliments Mr.  Dolliver to me for rendering him very efficient service, during the  whole engagement, but especially after Mr. Reynolds having received  the last out most severe wound, which I most cheerfully recommend  for your consideration,
The names of the killed and wounded are: Mr. A. H. Reynolds, acting ensign, two wounds in right side, badly; Thomas Mollman, in right arm, slightly; John Carey, landsman, in breast, etc., severely; William Nicholson, landsman, killed, shot through the head; Benjamin  F. Cowen, landsman, killed, shot through the breast; Peter Baxter,  a refugee from Corpus Christi, and. a native of the city of Perth, Scotland, killed.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,  Amos JOHNSON,
Acting Master, Commanding.
Rear-Admiral D. G. FARRAGUT  Commanding Western Gulf Blockading Squadron.
P. S.- I wish to state, also, that all the arms were saved, excepting  those of the killed and those belonging to John Carey, severely  wounded.
Report of Captain Willke, C. S. Army.
CORPUS CHRISTI, TEX., December 8,1862.
MAJOR: I have the honor to report that on the 5th instant myself,  Captain John Ireland, and 7 of his men went on a surveying expedition in the Queen of the Bay, to ascertain the depth of the channel at Corpus Christi Pass by actual measurement. The boat was in charge of Jack Sands, Pat Reil, and Tom Simpson. Corpus Christi Pass is about 5 miles long, and has a bar outside of the Gulf and another inside one toward the bay, We found 5’ feet water on the former and 3’ feet on the latter.  The wind was very contrary, and it took us one  day and a half to ascertain these facts, when we were compelled to cast anchor and stay over night in the middle of the channel, the wind being due north and the channel too narrow to beat.
On the morning of the 7th we detected the bark Arthur outside, evidently cruising for us, for when they had detected us they stood off  into sea to beat back to Aransas Pass. Captain Ireland and myself went to Mustang Island to watch her, but arrived [too] late at the Gulf shore to find out if she had left any boat behind. We ·watched  her until 11 o'clock, when the wind turned toward the east, and we returned to the boat to weigh anchor.
At 12 o'clock we started homeward. When near the inner-bar we  detected two of the enemy's launches fully manned, who had come  into our rear over the mud flats near Shell Bank. They were about 2 miles from us, and we could not find out if there were any more hidden behind the shore, so I gave orders to turn our boat around and run nearly before the wind back toward the Gulf. The boats were in hot pursuit, using both sails and oars, and gained slightly on us, so that  they were a little over a mile behind us when we arrived at the bluffs of Padre Island. We ran the Queen ashore close to the hills, jumped out  with the most necessary baggage in case we should lose the boat, and  took position on the hills, keeping ourselves hid. They came in close,  and at about 200 yards we opened fire on them. The first two shots  disabled 2 of their men, and they at once changed their course and  took position in the center of the Pass, all the while shooting at us, but  without any' effect, while our balls were flying close to their boats, probably wounding some of them, for they at once went across the channel  to Mustang Island, ran both boats ashore, and Jumped out as fast as  they could, leaving everything in their boats except their guns, which were not fastened to their bodies, and ran farther up the beach taking
position about 1,000 yards opposite to us. From there they fired occasionally onus, but their shot fell short, while one of our men at that distance killed one of theirs. When they saw that even at that distance they were not safe against our shot,  they retired still further and disappeared behind the hills. During the  time the breeze had become stronger and driven their boats from shore. One came right toward us, and Captain Ireland, with 2 men, went waist deep into the water, securing her. He found one dead body and a wounded man m it, besides a good many articles clothing and arms. The other boat, whose sail was still flying, drifted toward the Gulf, and Jack Sands took a small boat, went over, and took her also. Captain Ireland then succeeded in shoving the Queen into deep water, and after securing the corpse of the man who lay shot on Mustang Island we soon afterwards made good our retreat toward Corpus Christi, where we safely landed about 9 o'clock in the morning with our whole booty.
I must mention here the bravery of all the men. Captain Ireland's  men were selected from the best shots of his company, and I take pride in mentioning their names, for they did really such very good execution. They were W. E. Goodrich, W. Safford, E. G. Roberts, S. Elliott, John Neill, John Haley, and Nat Henderson, all from or near Seguin. About Captain Ireland 1 need not mention anything to you, for he behaved exactly as you would have a brave man to behave. We were 7 armed men against their 22, for Captain Ireland and myself had only six-shooters and the three boatmen had nothing. The latter did their part in shouting and urging on our men.
We took 2 launches (one metallic) with full equipment in sail and Oars, 6 greatcoats, 4 percussion muskets, 1 double-barrel shotgun, 3 holster pistols, 4 cutlasses, 1 bayonet, 3 cartridges boxes, 3 pistol cases,and sundry small articles, which I had turned over to. the quartermaster and ordnance officer. Three of the greatcoats were issued by my order to the 3 sailors, 2 of whom have, since they are in the service, received neither pay nor clothing and scarcely any, rations for they belong to no company, and nobody has ever drawn for them. I believe I can direct the to issue to them rations and pay them their wages, and let of the captains draw their clothing for them. They are good sailors, and I wish to retain them in that branch for our boats. Have I a right to do that, or must they join a company.. I would request you to. send me an answer to that question.
I remain, very respectfully, your most obedient servant,
H. Willke,



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