Monday, December 31, 2012

150-Years-Ago -- THE BATTLE OF GALVESTON

By Mike  Jones
     The Battle of Galveston, Texas, January 1, 1863, was a resounding Confederate victory after a string of stunning losses on the Louisiana and Texas gulf coasts in 1862. New Orleans was lost in April 1862 and Galveston October 4, 1862. A series of successful raids along the coast also demoralized the Confederate populace even more. But President Jefferson Davis had sent a man to Texas who would dramatically turn things around -- Major General John Bankhead Magruder.
Maj. Gen. J.B. Magruder
(Cdv, author's collection)
      Magruder was a fighter. He was also very innovative, crafty and aggressive. A native Virginian, West Point graduate, and veteran of the Seminole and Mexican Wars, Magruder arrived in Texas in November, 1862 and immediately went about developing a plan to take back Galveston. He knew he didn't have much time. A U.S. Navy  flotilla had taken the city without resistance October 4, but occupation troops had not yet arrived, so it had a very tentative hold on the city. When the Federal Army arrived in force, it would be practically impossible to dislodge them or prevent an invasion of the Texas mainland. The  target for the Federals was Houston, which was an important railroad hub for the state, much like Atlanta was for Georgia. Whoever controlled Houston, effectively controlled Texas.
      The bulk of the Confederate Army of the Trans-Mississippi was then tied up in Louisiana dealing with the Federal build up at New Orleans. Magruder had to  cobble together the meager troops available to him to take back the important port city of Galveston. He was able to assemble some Sibley's Texas cavalry which had returned from its failed New Mexico Campaign, some of the coastal defense forces, mainly 1st Texas Heavy Artillery Regiment, Pyron's Texas Cavalry Regiment and portions of the Griffin's 21st Texas Infantry  Battalion and the 20th Texas Infantry Regiment. He also had two riverboat steamers, the Neptune and Bayou City, fitted out with a few artillery pieces and cotton bales were stacked around the decks, thus transforming them into "cottonclad" gunboats. The two vessels were manned by portions of the 5th Texas Cavalry and the 7th Texas Cavalry to serve as boarding troops, thus transforming the cavalrymen into "horse marines. He also had 14 light artillery pieces and 6 pieces of heavy artillery for his innovative land-sea attack. Altogether there were about 1,500 Confederates for the operation. The Confederate cottonclads were under the command of Major Leon Smith of the Texas Marine Department and the Confederate land forces under Brig. Gen. William Scurry. Magruder was the overall commander.
Cottonclads Neptune and Bayou City on their way to Galveston to attack the
Federal fleet. ( From Six Decades in Texas)
       Magruder's plan was to launch a surprise attack early in the morning of New Year's Day, 1863. The land troops would get in place in the Galveston city, then  the cottonclads would attack the Federal fleet in the harbor when they heard the land attack beginning. About 500 Confederates would storm the Federals lodged on Kuhn's Wharf.
       The Federal fleet had been reinforced on Christmas Day by several companies, about 260 men, of the 42nd Massachusetts Infantry under Colonel Isaac Burrell. They set up a defensive position on Kuhn's Wharf, under the protection of the navy  gunboats. Burrell could send out patrols in the daytime, but had to withdraw into his defenses on the wharf at night. The gunboat fleet in the harbor at that time consisted of the U.S.S. Harriet Lane, U.S.S. CliftonU.S.S. Westfield, U.S.S.Oawasco, and U.S.S. Corysephus. Commodore W.B. Renshaw on his flagship, the Westfield, was in overall command. Although outnumbered in manpower, the Federals had a decided advantage in firepower with the heavy guns on the gunboats.
      Magruder's plan went awry from the beginning. The cottonclads arrived too early after midnight and were spotted by the gunboats. Smith had the Confederate ships withdraw and wait on the land forces to get into place. It took Magruder longer than expected to get across the two mile long railroad bridge and into place in the city. It was about  4 p.m. when all the units were in their assigned places. Magruder then fired the first shot of the battle from a field place at the end of 20th Street near the Hendley building, which still stands in Galveston today. By that time both the Federal troops on the wharf and the gunboats in the harbor were ready and waiting. The cottonclads had withdrawn too far away to immediately attack the Federal ships, the small Confederate guns and six heavy pieces had to duel it out  with the heavily armed gunboats. Confederate infantry and cavalry kept the Massachusetts infantry pinned down on the wharf during the artillery duel.
      The Confederate artillery was clearly getting the worst of the duel and about 5 a.m. the storming party, led by Colonel Joseph Cook of the 1st Texas Heavy  Artillery, led the assault. The  Yankee infantry had pulled up planks of the wharf in two places so they attackers couldn't sweep across it. The Massachusetts men had suffered no casualties during the artillery duel. So, the 42nd Massachusetts was ready to open up with a deadly fire on the storming party. The Confederates splashed into the water with scaling ladders, while some men went onto the wharf and fired from the first break in the walkway. The scaling ladders proved to be too short, and the firepower of the enemy infantry and heavy firepower of the fleet was too much for the Confederate infantry. The assault was a failure and the attackers retreated. With daylight approaching, Magruder had the entire Confederate land force take shelter behind the buildings of the city, such as the Custom's House, still there today.
The U.S.S. Harriet Lane, center, being attacked by the C.S.S. Bayou City
and C.S.S. Neptune at the Battle of Galveston.
(U.S. Naval Historical Institute)
      Just when it seemed the Union was winning, the Confederate cottonclads arrived and the Neptune and Bayou City immediately went for the Harriet Lane, the closest and most powerful of the gunboats. The Bayou City attacked first, trying to ram and board the Union vessel, but just grazed it and damaged its wheelhouse. It had to turn around for another try. Captain Wier, commanding the heavy artillery piece on the Bayou City, was killed when the gun exploded. The Neptune succeeded in ramming the Harriet Lane, but it also suffered the most damage and received a blast from the gunboat's heavy guns and was beginning to sink. The Neptune pulled away and partially sank near the shore in 8 feet of water. The sharpshooters on board were able to keep up their fire from the steamers upper deck. The Bayou City came around and also turned the battle around by successfully ramming the Harriet Lane. Smith led the boarding party onto the Federal ship and successfully took it over. The Harriet Lane's commander, Captain Jonathan Wainwright was killed, as was his executive officer, Lt. Cmdr. Edward Lea. The rest of the crew surrendered. The two were buried with military and masonic honors in Galveston's Episcopal Cemetery. Lea's father, Lt. Col. A. M. Lea, on Magruder's staff, was at his son's side when he died.
      Meanwhile, the Westfield had grounded and never got into the fight. Renshaw thought he was being attacked by ironclads and so ordered the fleet out to sea. Captain Lubbock of the Bayou City bluffed the Federals into a three hour cease fire and demanded surrender. Before the Confederates could get to Renshaw, the fleet commander tried to blow his ship up to prevent its capture, but was himself blown up with it when the demolition charge went off to soon. The rest of the fleet skulked out under the truce flag. The Confederates had won and recaptured Galveston. With the fleet gone, the 42nd Massachusetts surrendered.
     The Southerners lost 26 men killed and 117 wounded. The Federals lost about 370 men captured, including 150 battle casualties, killed and wounded.  The Harriet Lane was  captured intact, the Westfield was destroyed and some auxiliary ships captured. It was a great victory for Magruder and the Confederates. The triumph was the first and only time the Confederacy would recover one of its captured ports and hold it until the end of the war.

Friday, December 28, 2012

150-years-ago -- BATTLE OF CHICKASAW BAYOU, Mississippii


Brig. Gen. Stephen Dill Lee
(Library of Congress)
Report of Brig. Gen. Stephen D. Lee, C. S. Army, Commanding Provisional Division, of operations December 25, 1862—January 2, 1863.
Headquarters Lee's brigade, Vicksburg, Miss., January, 1863.
Major — I have the honor to make the following report of the operations of the troops under my command during the recent conflict with the enemy, resulting in his abandoning his attack upon the city of Vicksburg.
                The enemy's transports commenced making their appearance near the mouth of the Yazoo on Christmas day, when, in compliance with orders from Major-General [M.L.] Smith, I took charge in person of the defense of the swamp from the city to Snyder's mills. Between that point and the city runs the Swamp road at the foot of the bluffs,--the average distance of the road from the Yazoo being about two and a half miles. The country between the road and the Yazoo is heavy bottom — and intersected by sloughs and bayous — containing the plantations of Captain W. H. Johnson, Mrs. Lake and Colonel Blake; the first two being below Chickasaw, which bayou separated Mrs. Lake's plantation from Colonel Blake’s. The bayou runs back from the Yazoo and makes the half way point between the city and Snyder's mills. A lake and swamp run almost parallel to the road from near the city to Snyder's mills, and at an average distance from it of about one-third of a mile, giving but five points through which the enemy could reach the River road from the Yazoo, except by throwing a pontoon bridge across the lake. These points, commencing next to the city, are--first, at the race course, two miles from the city, by a road leading to Johnson's; next, at the Indian mound, four miles from the city, where the lake is dry for two hundred yards; next, at the Chickasaw bayou on Mrs. Lake's plantation (a good road running along the bayou from the Yazoo); next, at Colonel Blake's house, running back from the Yazoo almost to the road, one mile beyond Chickasaw bayou; and at Snyder's mills, thirteen miles from the city, where we have extensive fortifications. Commencing about two miles short of Snyder's mills is an impenetrable swamp. The abatis of fallen timber at the race course was an almost impassable barrier to the enemy. My arrangements were as follows: One regiment, (the First Louisiana, Col. S.R. Harrison), and two guns at the mound; four regiments and a battery at Chickasaw bayou, and a regiment between the mound and the bayou. Rifle pits were hurriedly thrown up at the mound and at the bayou, and timber felled across the lake for an abatis. The enemy's gunboats had possession of the Yazoo for about a week before the arrival of the transports on Christmas day.
On the 26th they landed in force at Johnson's, and at a point two miles above (one mile below Chickasaw bayou), driving in our pickets. Colonel [W.T.] Withers, with the Seventeenth Louisiana, two companies of the Forty-sixth Mississippi and a section of Wofford's battery, was directed to hold them in check near Mrs. Lake's plantation. This he did in good style, driving them from the open field into the woods.
Early on the morning of the 27th, the enemy appeared in force and attacked Colonel Withers with violence. The Colonel retired for a short distance up the bayou to a piece of woods and held his ground against a largely superior force. The enemy also appeared in force in the woods in front of the Indian mound, driving in our skirmishers across the lake. They also appeared on Blake's levee; at the same time attacking our batteries at Snyder's mills. They evidently had excellent guides, attacking us at every point where it was possible to reach the road.
Pvt. Theogene Chaisson, Co. E, 26th Louisiana
Infantry (Copy print, M. Jones Collection)
On the morning of the 28th the enemy again attacked the woods held the previous day by Colonel Withers, but now by the Twenty-eighth [Twenty-ninth] Louisiana volunteers Col. Allen Thomas, being at least a brigade and a battery of six guns. Colonel Thomas held his ground against this greatly superior force from about daylight till 12 p.m., when he retired in good order. The enemy were highly elated by their success and followed rapidly, but a volley from the Twenty-sixth Louisiana, Col. [Winchester] Hall, near the edge of the lake and in temporary rifle pits, brought them to their usual prudence, and allowed the gallant Twenty-eighth to move in safety. Colonel Hall held his pits in his advanced position against a vastly superior force with great coolness and effect. The enemy also attacked Colonel Morrison at the mound in heavy force, and placed several batteries in position opposite to him, which kept up a continuous fire.
The enemy on the evening of the 26th had appeared in considerable force at the levee, and gave me much uneasiness. During the night of the 27th I increased my force at that point, and placed Colonel Withers, First battery, Mississippi artillery, in charge of its defense — he having at his disposal the Forty-sixth Mississippi regiment, Seventeenth Louisiana, and Bowman's battery. This arrangement was made none too soon. Early on the morning of the 28th the enemy appeared in force on the levee with artillery, but was handsomely held in check and driven back by Colonel Withers' command — the Forty-sixth Mississippi and two Napoleon guns under Lieutenant Johnson doing admirable service.
On the 28th the enemy, who had landed a small infantry force in front of Snyder's mills, disappeared from that point; only two gun-boats amusing themselves by firing at long range on our works. Their force in front of my position at Chickasaw bayou had greatly increased on the evening of the 28th, and it was evident that my position would be attacked next morning. During the night my command was reinforced by two regiments, and my line of battle fixed.
 Before daylight on the 29th Colonel Hall's regiment was withdrawn from its advanced pits and the dry crossing left open to the enemy, as it was desired he should attack my position in front.
Early on the morning of the 29th the enemy cautiously examined the advanced pits (vacated), not understanding, apparently, why they had been abandoned. He was exceedingly cautious. About 9 a. m. he attempted to throw a pontoon bridge over the lake to my left. This was soon thwarted by a few well directed shots from the section of Wofford's battery and a section of guns commanded by Lieutenant Tarleton, of Major Ward's artillery battalion. As soon as the attempt to pontoon the lake was discovered, my line of battle was pushed to the left by two regiments to throw them in front of the threatened point. The two regiments were the Forty-second Georgia and Twenty-eighth Louisiana. At the same time Colonel Layton's Fourth Mississippi was ordered to join me from Snyder's mills, as no enemy was at that point. About 10 A. M. a furious cannonade was opened on my position by the enemy — he at the same time arranging his infantry to storm my position. At 11 a. m. his artillery fire ceased, and his infantry, six thousand strong, moved gallantly up under our artillery fire (eight guns), crossing the dry lake at two points, one being in front of the vacated pits, and the other about two hundred yards of my lines. Here our fire was so terrible that they broke, but in a few moments they rallied again, sending a force to my left flank. This force was soon met by the Twenty-eighth Louisiana, Col.  Allen Thomas, and the Forty-second Georgia, Colonel [R.J.] Henderson (sent to the left) in the morning, and handsomely repulsed. Our fire was so severe that the enemy laid down to avoid it. Seeing their confusion the Twenty-sixth Louisiana and a part of the Seventeenth Louisiana were marched on the battle-field, and under their cover 21 commissioned officers and 311 non-commissioned officers and privates were taken prisoners, and four stands of colors and 500 stands of arms captured.
The enemy left in great confusion, leaving their dead and wounded on the field. About 80 of their wounded were treated in our hospital. Their dead on the field numbered 200. Many of their wounded were allowed to be carried off by their Infirmary corps immediately after the fight. In this day's fight their casualties could not have fallen short of 1,000. Immediately after the battle the fire of their sharpshooters was redoubled — they would not allow my command to care for their wounded.
The troops under my command behaved with great gallantry — officers and men. It will be impossible to notice the conduct of all deserving mention. Besides the regiments already mentioned for gallantry, I would mention the Third, Thirtieth and Eightieth Tennessee regiments, occupying the pits when the enemy made their most formidable attack. They displayed coolness and gallantry, and their fire was terrific.
No reports having been received from the colonels, no names can be given as deserving of especial notice, but every one did well. Col. [Edward] Higgins, commanding the important post at Snyder's mills, deserves great credit. He commanded only as an old soldier could. Though often threatened he was always cool and self possessed, and exhibited in his dispositions great judgment.
I would particularly mention Colonel Withers, who exhibited high soldierly qualities and great gallantry, first in holding the enemy in check after landing, and in repulsing him when my right flank was threatened; his dispositions were excellent.
Colonel Allen Thomas, Twenty-eighth Louisiana, exhibited great gallantry, and with his regiment did splendid service. Col. Hall, Twenty-sixth Louisiana, showed great coolness and gallantry. Col. Henderson, Forty-second Georgia; Cols. [C.J.]  Clack and [James J.] Turner, Third and Thirtieth Tennessee; Col. Rowan, Eightieth Tennessee; Colonel Easterling, Forty-sixth Mississippi, and Col. [Robert] Richardson, deserve favorable notice.
Of the artillery, I would particularly mention Maj. [B.R] Holmes.
Captain Wofford exhibited great gallantry and coolness, and to him is due more credit than to any one else for such defenses as were at Chickasaw Bayou, he having planned and executed most of them. Lieutenants Johnston, Duncan, Tarleton and Weems behaved well.
Of my personal staff, I am pained to announce the death of Capt. Paul Hamilton, assistant adjutant-general, who was killed on the 29th by the explosion of a caisson by a shell from the enemy, while executing an order. He was the most promising young officer it has been my fortune to meet. He was but twenty-one years of age, but had been in thirty battles. He was brave to a fault, always present in danger in the path of duty. His gallantry was only excelled by his modesty and strict performance of every trust confided to him.
Maj.  Donald C. Stith, Brigade Inspector, behaved with gallantry and coolness under fire, and did good service. Lieut.  Henry B. Lee, aide-de-camp, showed great bravery. He was wounded in the hand bearing an order. Maj. [W.O] Watts, Capt. W. H. Johnson and Lieut. [S.S] Champion, volunteer Aids-de-Camp, acted gallantly, and were of great service.
I would also mention Corporal Champion, of Captain Johnson's company, in charge of couriers, for his bravery. He carried several important orders under heavy fire.Dr.  Smith (a civilian seventy years of age) acted as Aid-de-Camp and did good service.
Inclosed is a list of casualties—Thirty-six killed, 78 wounded, 3 deserted. Total, 124.
            Major-General Maury arrived on the morning of the 30th and assumed command. The report of my future operations will be sent through him.
Please find enclosed reports of Colonels Withers, Higgins, Thomas and Morrison.
I am, Major, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Stephen D. Lee, Major-General , C. S. Army, commanding on Yazoo.
Major J. G. Deveraux, Asst. Adjt.-Gen., Second Dist., Departments Miss. and E. La.
[Official Records: The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies; Series 1, Volume 17 (Part 1) 680-684.]

Sunday, December 23, 2012

150-YEARS-AGO -- BATTLE OF MURFREESBORO (STONES RIVER), TENNESSEE


(American Military History, Vol. 1, Center of Military History, U. S. Army
Washington, D. C.) (Click on images for enlargement)
 
(Excerpted from National Park Service/Stones River National Battlefield)
At dawn on December 31, 1862, General J. P. McCown’s Division with General Patrick Cleburne’s men in support stormed across the frosted fields to attack the Federal right flank. Their plan was to swing around the Union line in a right wheel and drive their enemy back to the Stones River while cutting off their main supply routes at the Nashville Pike and the Nashville & Chattanooga Railroad.
The men of General Richard Johnson’s Division were cooking their meager breakfasts when the sudden crackle of the pickets’ fire raised the alarm. The Confederate tide swept regiment after regiment from the field.
Lt. John A. Beall, Co. D, 14th Texas Cavalry
(Dismounted) with Berdan Sharps Rifle
(Liljenquist Family Collection/Library of
Congress)
Lieutenant Tunnel of the Fourteenth Texas Infantry described the confusion.
“Many of the Yanks were either killed or retreated in their nightclothes … We found a caisson with the horses still attached lodged against a tree and other evidences of their confusion. The Yanks tried to make a stand whenever they could find shelter of any kind. All along our route we captured prisoners, who would take refuge behind houses, fences, logs, cedar bushes and in ravines.”
Union artillery tried to hold its ground, but the butternut and gray wave swept over them. Federal commanders tried to halt and resist at every fence and tree line, but the Confederate attack was too powerful to stop against such a piecemeal defense.
Soon General Jefferson C. Davis's Division found itself caught between attacks from the front and the right. By 8:30 AM those units also began to fray and retreat to the north.
The ground itself helped stave off disaster. The rocky ground and cedar forests blunted the Confederate assault, and Rebel units began to come apart. Confederate artillery struggled to keep pace with the infantry. Still, the Army of the Cumberland’s right flank was shattered beyond repair.
After McCown’s dawn assault, Confederate units to the north began attacking the enemy in their front. These attacks were not meant to break through, but to hold Union units in place as the flanking attack swept up behind them.
General Philip Sheridan had his men rise early and form a line of battle. His men were able to repulse the first enemy attack, but the loss of the divisions to his right forced Sheridan’s commanders to reposition their lines to keep Cleburne’s Division from cutting off their escape route. Sheridan’s lines pivoted to the north, anchored by General James Negley’s Division in the trees and rocks along McFadden Lane.
Confederate brigades assaulted Sheridan’s and Negley’s Divisions without coordination. The terrain made communication and cooperation between units nearly impossible. For more than two hours, the Union forces fell back step by bloody step slowing the Confederate assault.
By noon, the Confederate Brigades of A.P. Stewart, J. Patton Anderson, George Maney, A.M. Manigault, and A.J. Vaughn assaulted the Union salient from three sides. With their ammunition nearly spent, Negley’s and Sheridan’s lines shattered and their men made their way north and west through the cedars towards the Nashville Pike.
The cost of this delaying action was enormous. Sam Watkins of the First Tennessee Infantry, CS was amazed at the bloodshed.
“I cannot remember now of ever seeing more dead men and horses and captured cannon all jumbled together, than that scene of blood and carnage … on the (Wilkinson) … Turnpike; the ground was literally covered with blue coats dead.”
All three of Sheridan’s brigade commanders were killed or mortally wounded and many Federal units lost more than one-third of their men. Many Confederate units fared little better. Union soldiers recalled the carnage as looking like the slaughter pens in the stockyards of Chicago. The name stuck.
While the fighting raged in the Slaughter Pen, General Rosecrans was busy trying to save his army. He cancelled the attack across the river and funneled his reserve troops into the fight hoping to stem the bleeding on his right. Rosecrans and General George Thomas rallied fleeing troops as they approached the Nashville Pike and a new line began to form along that vital lifeline backed up by massed artillery.
The new horseshoe shaped line gave the Army of the Cumberland solid interior lines and better communication than their attackers. The Union cannon covered the long open fields between the cedars and the road. Most of the troops in this line had full cartridge boxes and knew that they must hold here or the battle would be lost.
Again the woods and rocky ground helped the Union. Confederate organization fell apart as they struggled through the cedars. Most of Confederate artillery was unable to penetrate the dense forests strewn with limestone outcroppings. Each wave of enemy attack along the pike was repulsed in bloody fashion by the Federal artillery that commanded the field.
Lieutenant Alfred Pirtle (Ordnance Officer, Rousseau’s Division) watched the cannon do their deadly work that afternoon.
“… then our batteries opened on them with a deafening unceasing fire, throwing twenty-four pounds of iron from each piece, across that small space. … But men were not born who could longer face that storm of canister. … They broke, they fled, and some took refuge in the clump of trees and weeds.”
As night approached, the Union army was bloody and battered, but it retained control of the pike and its vital lifeline to Nashville. Although Confederate cavalry would wreak havoc on Union wagon trains, enough supplies got through to give General Rosecrans the option to continue the fight.
The Round Forest was a crucial position for the Army of the Cumberland. Poised between the Nashville Pike and the Stones River, the forest anchored the left of the Union line. Colonel William B. Hazen’s Brigade was assigned this crucial sector.
At 10 AM, General James Chalmers’ Mississippians advanced across the fields in front of Hazen’s men. The partially burned Cowan house forced Chalmers’ men to split just before they came a within range of the Union muskets. Artillery batteries guarded Hazen’s flanks with deadly fire while the infantry poured volley after volley into the Confederate ranks. General Chalmers was wounded as his men wavered then broke.
Chalmers’ attack was followed by General Daniel Donelson’s Brigade as General Bragg sought to tie up Rosecrans’ reserves pressing the Union left. Donelson’s men crashed through Cruft’s Brigade south of the pike. Hazen’s men held firm to the north and Union reinforcements were able to seal the breach.
During the afternoon of December 31st, Bragg called on General Breckinridge’s troops to hammer the anchor point of the Union line guarding the Nashville Pike. Two brigades went in first suffering the same fate as those that went before. Two more of Breckinridge’s Brigades made a final assault as daylight began to fail. Hazen’s men, reinforced now by Harker’s Brigade, clung to their positions.
The carnage as described by J. Morgan Smith of the Thirty-second Alabama Infantry prompted soldiers to name the field Hell’s Half Acre.
“We charged in fifty yards of them and had not the timely order of retreat been given — none of us would now be left to tell the tale. … Our regiment carries two hundred and eighty into action and came out with fifty eight.”
Colonel Hazen’s Brigade was the only Union unit not to retreat on the 31st. Their stand against four Confederate attacks gave Rosecrans a solid anchor for his Nashville Pike line that finally stopped the Confederate tide.
Hazen’s men were so proud of their efforts in this area that they erected a monument there after the battle. The Hazen Brigade Monument is the oldest intact Civil War monument in the nation.
After spending January 1, 1863 reorganizing and caring for the wounded, the two armies came to blows again on the afternoon of January 2nd. General Bragg ordered Breckinridge to attack General Horatio Van Cleve’s Division (commanded by Colonel Samuel Beatty) occupying a hill overlooking McFadden’s Ford on the east side of the river.
Breckinridge reluctantly launched the attack with all five of his brigades at 4 PM. The Confederate charge quickly took the hill and continued on pushing towards the ford. As the Confederates attacked, they came within range of fifty-seven Union cannon massed on the west side of the Stones River. General Crittenden watched as his guns went to work.
“Van Cleve’s Division of my command was retiring down the opposite slope, before overwhelming numbers of the enemy, when the guns … opened upon the swarming enemy. The very forest seemed to fall … and not a Confederate reached the river.”
The cannon took a heavy toll. In forty-five minutes their concentrated fire killed or wounded more than 1,800 Confederates. A Union counterattack pushed the shattered remnants of Breckinridge’s Division back to Wayne’s Hill.
Faced with this disaster and the approach of Union reinforcements, General Bragg ordered the Army of Tennessee to retreat on January 3, 1863. Two days later, the battered Union army marched into Murfreesboro and declared victory.
The Battle of Stones River was one of the bloodiest of the war. More than 3,000 men lay dead on the field. Nearly 16,000 more were wounded. Some of these men spent as much as seven agonizing days on the battlefield before help could reach them. The two armies sustained nearly 24,000 casualties, which was almost one-third of the 81,000 men engaged.
As the Army of Tennessee retreated they gave up a large chunk of Middle Tennessee. The rich farmland meant to feed the Confederates now supplied the Federals. General Rosecrans set his army and thousands of contraband slaves to constructing a massive fortification, Fortress Rosecrans that served as a supply depot and base of occupation for the Union for the duration of the war.
President Lincoln got the victory he wanted to boost morale and support the Emancipation Proclamation. How important was this victory to the Union? Lincoln himself said it best in a telegram to Rosecrans later in 1863.
“I can never forget, if I remember anything, that at the end of last year and the beginning of this, you gave us a hard earned victory, which had there been a defeat instead, the country scarcely could have lived over.

Friday, December 21, 2012

150-YEARS-AGO -- AN INTERESTING LETTER FROM FREDERICKSBURG

The Richmond Daily Dispatch
Dec. 22, 1862.

Camp Near Fredericksburg. December 17, 1862.
Brig. Gen. W. S. Featherstone
(Library of Congress)
           The five days fight before Fredericksburg has at last ceased, and I hasten to send you an account of such operations as fell under  my own view — of course limited to the brigade to which I am attached, Gen. W. S. Featherstone's; to whose kindness, and to that of Col. Carnot Posey, 18th Mississippi volunteers. I am indebted for more particular detail than I could otherwise have furnished.

Two unidentified Mississippi Confederates.
(Liljenquist Family Collection, Library of
Congress)
           The long-looked for signal guns pealed forth about 5 o'clock on the morning of the 11th; the brigade was quickly formed, and awaited orders, all full of hope and courage. Gen. Featherstone gave a few brief directions to Lieut. Col. Manlove commanding the 2d Mississippi battalion, in which he told him to order his men "to take deliberate aim, and shoot the enemy as you are accustomed to shoot squirrel or bear; your courage has often been tried, and is now to be tried again; I believe that my brigade can whip the whole Yankee army."
           We then double-quicked down the plank road leading to Fredericksburg, and took our positions on the right of the road, under a hill, about a mile from the town. Here we remained a few hours, when we changed our position to the left of the plank road, somewhat nearer town. We staid in this position all day, being somewhat exposed to the fire of the enemy's artillery, which was directed is one of our long range batteries planted near us; but their shot did us no harm, striking the top of the hill, and ricocheting over us, or else passing over our heads.
           After dark we resumed our former position, where we remained until the morning of the 12th. Meantime the enemy had kept up a continuous roar of artillery along the line endeavoring, under the shelter of the guns, to throw their pontoon bridges across the river, which they succeeded in doing on the 12th, although they were repulsed several times, with considerable loss, by our small picket force, stationed in the town. On this day we moved back to our second position and remained there, listening to the whise of ball and the bursting of shell all day.
           On Saturday, the 13th, the 2d Mississippi Battalion, with the 12th and 16th Mississippi moved over the hill and formed in a ditch about one hundred yards behind our batteries which were planted nearly opposite the tannery and canal, at the northern end of the town, the 19th Mississippi being on picket in advance of the batteries and parallel to the canal, about a quarter of a mile in its rear. The fire of the enemy on this day was unusually severe, as we were exposed to a direct line of fire as well as being enfiladed right and left, being placed, as it were, at the apex of a triangle formed by the enemy's three lines of fire.
          On this day a Yankee brigade, supposed to be Gen. Meagher's, charged our batteries several times, but were repulsed with immense slaughter by our batteries and pickets. About the middle of the day the Yankee army sent up a balloon several times, and ascertained our position very satisfactorily to themselves, as they soon succeeded in getting our range, and we lay exposed to a most galling fire of sht and shell for about three hours.
           Sunday morning, the 14th, found the battalion, 18th and 19th, in the same position in the rear of the batteries, and the 16th, with companies G and F, of  the 19th, commanded by Lieuts. Lester and Phipps, were ordered to relieve a brigade stationed in an old road running at right angles to the plank road and about fifty yards in the rear of the batteries. Companies D and K, of the 16th, commanded by Captain H. C. Councell, were placed on picket on the left, and had quite a sharp skirmish with the enemy, driving them back with considerable loss, and displaying unusual gallantry in their trying position.
          About midnight a detail was made from the brigade for the purpose of throwing up rifle pits, connecting with the batteries on the top of the hill, which was accomplished in perfect safety, being disturbed but once by firing of the advance pickets, which took place just as we arrived at our position. At the same time the 2d again moved forward to the old road occupied by the 16th, and the 16th moved down the plank road to the extreme advance line, on the outskirts of the town, which positions these regiments held until the close of the engagement.
          A magnificent aurora borealis made its appearance just at sunset, tinging the heavens blood red, as it were with the blood of those martyrs who had offered their lives as a sacrifice to their native land. I omitted to state that companies D, F, and L, of the 2d, commanded by Captains Davis and McLellen and Lieutenant Duquerson, accompanied the 16th.
           About one o'clock Monday our artillery directed their fire into the canal running from the tannery, which resulted in the routing of about two regiments of Yankees from their hiding place.
           I omitted to state in its proper place that we are in Anderson's Division, composed of five brigades, and we were placed in the following order: Wilcox, Wright, Mahone, Perry, Featherstone; Gen. Featherstone's brigade being on the extreme right of the division, and nearest to the town, supported on his left by Perry, and so on in inverse order to that written above, Gen. Wilcox being on the left. Capt. Grandy's battery is attached to our brigade, and did noble-service. We were protecting Capt. Moody's battery, the "Madison Tips, " during the engagement, but I have not learned their casualties, if any. Our position was admirable, being on a height commanding the town and the river, and difficult of access from the front. Dewyll

Thursday, December 13, 2012

150-Years-Ago -- NEWS REPORTS ON BATTLE OF FREDERICKSBURG, VA

Brig. Gen. Maxcy Gregg, mortally  wounded
Dec. 13 in the battle and died Dec. 15, 1862.
(Century Magazine)
Richmond Daily Dispatch
December 15, 1862
 
From Fredericksburg.
Great fight on Saturday.
the enemy repulsed at all points.
&c., &c., &c., &c.
           Great anxiety prevailed in the community on Saturday, to hear further and more satisfactory reports from the seat of war, as precious rumors had induced the supposition that a general and decisive engagement was imminent; but no intelligence of a reliable character could be obtained until 9 o'clock P. M., at which hour the following dispatches were received at the War Department by General Cooper.
To General Cooper:
            At 9 o'clock this morning the enemy attacked our right wing, and as the fog lifted the battle ran along the whole line from right to left until 6 P. M., the enemy being repulsed at all points. Thanks be to God!
As usual, we have to mourn the loss of many of our brave men.
           I [ extpect ] the battle will be renewed at daylight to-morrow morning.
R. E. Lee.
To General Cooper:
             General Wade Hampton reports that he had entered Dumfries, and captured thirty wagons with stores and fifty prisoners, which he brought across the Rappahannock.
Gen. Sigel is expected to be at Dumfries to-morrow.
R. E. Lee.
           The highly gratifying nature of these dispatches only increased the general desire to learn something further, and throughout the day the bulletin boards in front of the various newspaper offices were surrounded by eager crowds in search of later intelligence. The War office was also besieged by anxious inquirers, but nothing of an official character was disclosed.
           A telegraphic dispatch was received at the office of the Provost Marshal at 7 o'clock last night, stating that five ambulance trains were then between Hanover Junction and Guinea Station on their route to Richmond. Up to the hour of 12 o'clock P. M. none of the trains had arrived, though a large number of ambulances and backs were still awaiting them to convey the wounded to Seabrook's Hospital.
            Passengers who left Guinea Station at one o'clock yesterday and arrived by the early train, report that heavy firing was heard all the morning in the direction of Fredericksburg, and the presumption was that a general engagement was then going on.--It was also stated by the same authorities that our army had advanced two miles nearer to the town. No official information whatever could be obtained by the press yesterday, and all that we can give concerning what took place since the dispatches of Gen. Lee, on Saturday night, is conjecture.
             The battle of Saturday commenced at six o'clock in the morning and raged with great violence until after dark. Our loss is estimated to be 2,500 wounded and 500 killed. It is said that Jackson accomplished a flank movement, capturing 3,000 of the enemy, but this is not generally received with credit.
           A soldier of A. P. Hill's division says the enemy charged our men in their rifle pits and entrenchments nine times, and were repulsed with terrible slaughter, until our ammunition gave out, when our men were again charged in overwhelming force and driven back. But having obtained more ammunition, our forces in their turn charged the enemy and drove them from the works in great disorder, taking a large number of prisoners.
           Johnson's, Crenshaw's, Purcell's, and the 1st and 3d companies of Richmond Howitzers, were in the fight. Two guns of the latter battery having been struck by the shot of the enemy, were taken from the field in a disabled condition.
           Johnson's Battery lost fourteen killed and wounded. Their names we did not ascertain.
The number of wounded brought down by the first train last night was 180.
          Gen. Cobb was killed. Gen. Hood is also reported killed, but the rumor lacks confirmation. Gen. Gregg was mortally wounded.
Arrival of bodies.
Brig. Gen. Thomas R. R. Cobb, killed in action
Dec. 13, 1862. (Library of Congress)
           The 5 o'clock train yesterday afternoon brought down the bodies of several officers. Among them were those of Brig.-Gen. Thos. R. R. Cobb, of Ga., and Capt. D'Aquin, of the Louisiana Guard Artillery.
[from our own Reporter.]
Summit, Dec. 13, 1862.
           Heavy firing was heard at the front for several hours yesterday afternoon, the result of skirmishing. Some parties state that our forces were shelling Fredericksburg, now in the hands of the enemy. Last night a brilliant light was observable in the direction of the town. The two armies, in line of battle, lay all night confronting each other, and it was expected that the battle would commence early this morning, but up to this time (7 o'clock) so firing has been heard.
           In the fight of Thursday, a Mississippi regiment, of Featherstone's brigade, suffered severely. One shell is said to have killed and wounded twenty-eight men. Some ninety of the wounded arrived at this point last night, and were sent on to Richmond.
           The committee for the wounded remained here during the night, but are preparing to move forward this morning. They have the facilities for doing good service, should anything occur to require the exercise of their labors.
            The straggling, so much complained of on the eve of previous battles, seems to have been obviated in this instance, and very few men are to be seen absent from their posts. The condition of the army is such as to inspire confidence in the result.
          Lieut. James Ellett, of Crenshaw's battery, was killed this morning while placing a section of his battery in position. His body will be sent down this evening. Major Brockenbrough, Chief of Artillery of 1st Division, Jackson's corps, was severely wounded in the hand. Several others were wounded whose named have not been ascertained.
The wounded.
          The following is a list of the wounded men brought to this city on Friday and Saturday evenings. As will be seen, nearly all of them are of Barksdale's Brigade, which is said to have sustained the brunt of the heavy skirmishing of Thursday and Friday:
           Lt J J Accostar, co I, 8th Fla; J A Hoppy, co G, 34 N C; C C Cauthorn, co G, 18th Miss; G H Lebrane, do, do; W F Bally, co H, 13th Miss; Sgt J M Carnwell, co A, 13th Miss; W Penn, co D, 18th Miss; S T Bruton, co D, 17th Miss; J M Black, co H, 51st Va. J W Thompson, co H, 13th Miss; J D Dewoty, co D, 13th Miss; H J Hurley, co C, 17th Miss; J J Gordon, co K, 17th Miss; T Saunders, co C, 8th Fla; J Manty, co K, 8th Fla; C Roberts, co I, 8th Fla; J W Alexander, co K, 13th Miss; G W Smith, co K, 8th Fla; J P Srackwell, co G, 8th Fla, Lt L Cornford, co A, 51st N C; Lt E G Jaudon, co I, 8th Fla; F M Campbell, co C, 17th Miss; J T Hood, co E, 9th N C; M, Collier, co E, 7th N C, S Lambert, co K, 7th N C, H W Barns, co G, 5th Ala; R E Moody, co D, 53d Va; E Johnson, co D, 33d N C; Wa Grosan, co G, 16th Ga; G D Hilman, co D, 51st Ga; W D Soules, co E, 8th Fla; Lt J D Finley, co A, 18th Miss; Lt W Baskin, co K, 18th Miss; J H O Kean, co G, 18th Miss; Sgt J V Prudy, co D, 18th  Miss; H Carroll, co C, 8th Fla; G Allen, co E, 18th Miss; R F Sellers, co E, 13th Miss; J E Eaves, co E, 13th Miss; N P Russell, co K, 21st Miss; J E Bennett, co K, 21st Miss; N Heim, co K, 21st Miss; J C Williams, co K, 21st Miss; Lt J W Price, co K, 17th Miss; Cpl C Gramer, co K, 17th Miss; J M Comer, co G, 18th Miss; J McCade, co G, 8th Fla; H Strong, co I, 21st Miss; J Schneckenburg, co B, 17th Miss; F M Carter, co G, 13th Miss; T J Tidwell, co C, 17th Miss; S S Lynch, co B, 17th Miss; J R Holt, co A, 21st Miss; Lt J B Clayton, co G, 17th Miss; J Brady, co A, 18th Miss; W F McDougal, co E, 17th Miss; S D Knapp, co D, 17th Miss; Sergt R J Begg, co C, 13th Miss; Sgt E D Sadler, co G, 21st Miss; Capt J F Sessions, co --, 18th Miss; R N Robertson, co I, 16th Ga; R J Hughes, co F 17th Miss; J J Carn, co C, 18th Miss; P W Murphey, co I, 17th Miss; B F Hurst, co G, 21st Miss, G W Cannon, co F, 17th Miss; N Anthony, co G, 21st Miss; T J Hunt, co E, 13th Miss; Sgt W H Eason, co I, 17th Miss; J M Witherley, co I, 13th Miss; W J Lusk, co I, 17th Miss; Ass't Surg D Hooker, 8th Fla; W H Parker, co A, 15th S C; J J Barnard, co K, 13th Miss; J M O'Nell, co E, 13th Miss; J L Finley, co C, 18th Miss; D A Cole, co D, 13th Miss; J L Smith, co G, 17th Miss; J C Fields, co I, 21st Miss; W D Chapman, co C, 17th Ga; A G Williams, co E, 18th Miss; Thos Missel, co K, 8th Fla; R A Harrington, co H, 13th Miss; J N Fielding, co A, 8th Fla; T W Harper, co B, 8th Fla; Capt C Green, co L, 17th Miss; J W Hilburne, co D, 51st Ga.
          The following are the names of those who have died since their removal to the hospital:
J Easer, co E, 21st Miss; James Maulden, co L 21st Miss; W E Smith, co G, 17th Miss, J C Collier, co B, 21st Miss.
The following officers arrived yesterday afternoon:
           Lieut J K Parker, co G, 8th S C, wounded in knee; Lt J K Wiggins, co B, 18th N C; Lt W H Holt, co D, 38th N C, throat and leg; Capt H C Fite, co H, 37th N C, left arm and breast.
Losses in Richmond companies.
          Losses of the Letcher Artillery, commanded by Capt. Greenles Davidson, in the battle before Fredericksburg, on Saturday, the 13th inst.:
          Lieut. Thos. A. Brander, of Richmond, slightly wounded in side.
Seriously wounded--Privates John Shea, of Richmond, both feet amputated; James Wilson, of Richmond, in leg; S. W. Coles, of Brunswick county, in arm, and F. Smith, of Richmond, in leg.
Slightly wounded — Corp'l Winston, of Manchester, in foot; and privates James Heinenger, of Richmond, in hip; Opie Staite, of Richmond, in foot; Frank Bernard, of Richmond, in side; John A. Estes, of Madison county, in arm; Frank Delaney, of Richmond, in hand; Michael Mannin, of Richmond, in head; M. Douglass, of Richmond, in leg, and Jno. Morrissey, of Richmond, in arm.
Sixteen of the horses attached to the battery were killed or disabled.
            During the action Capt. Davidson had command of a battalion of seven rifle pieces and two light 12 pounders, composed of three of his own pieces, one of Capt. Braxton's, two of Capt. Brown's Chesapeake Artillery, and three of Capt. Latimer's--five of the pieces were under the immediate command of Capt. Latimer.
           In Capt. Latimer's command, Lieut. Grayson, of the Chesapeake Artillery, was mortally wounded; four privates were killed, sixteen wounded, and eleven horses killed.  Lieut. Zeph. C. McCruder, of the Purcell battery' of Richmond, was killed.
           Lieut. James Ellett, of the Crenshaw battery, was killed by a fragment of shell while standing in conversation with Major Pegram. His battery was not firing at the time. Lieut. E. was Clerk of the Circuit Court of Richmond. His body has been brought here.
           In the 3d company Richmond Howitzers, Lieut. Jas. S. Utz and private W. T. Mathews were killed, and privates Geo. Nicholas, Geo. Smith, (lost an arm,) and Samuel A. Wakeham wounded.
In the 1st company Richmond Howitzers, private Murphy was wounded.

Monday, December 10, 2012

150-Years-Ago -- BATTLE OF FREDERICKSBURG, VIRGINIA

(National Park Service)
[General Robert E. Lee's official report
on the Battle of Fredericksburg, Va.
O.R.-- SERIES I--VOLUME XXI]

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA,
December 14, 1862.

Hon. SECRETARY OF WAR,
Richmond, Va.

Gen.  R.E. Lee
Army of Norther Virginia, C.S.A.
 SIR: On the night of the 10th instant, the enemy commenced to throw three bridges over the Rappahannock, two at Fredericksburg and the third about 1 1/4 miles below, near the mouth of Deep Run. The plain on which Fredericksburg stands is so completely commanded by the hills of Stafford (in possession of the enemy) that no effectual opposition could be offered to the construction of the bridges or the passage of the river without exposing our troops to the destructive fire of his numerous batteries. Positions were, therefore, selected to oppose his advance after crossing. The narrowness of the Rappahannock, its winding course, and deep bed afforded opportunity for the construction of bridges at points beyond the reach of our artillery, and the banks had to be watched by skirmishers. The latter, sheltering themselves behind the houses, drove back the working parties of the enemy at the bridges opposite the city, but at the lowest point of crossing, where no shelter could be had, our sharpshooters were themselves driven off, and the completion of that bridge was effected about noon on the 11th.
            In the afternoon of that day, the enemy's batteries opened upon the city, and by dark had so demolished the houses on the river bank as to deprive our skirmishers of shelter, and under cover of his guns he effected a lodgment in the town. The troops which had so gallantly held their position in the city under the severe cannonade during the day, resisting the advance of the enemy at every step, were withdrawn during the night, as were also those who, with equal tenacity, had maintained their post at the lowest bridge. Under cover of darkness and of a dense fog on the 12th, a large force passed the river and took position on the right bank, protected by their heavy guns on the left.
            The morning of the 13th, his arrangements for attack being completed, about 9 o'clock (the movement veiled by a fog) he advanced boldly in large force against our right wing. General Jackson's corps occupied the right of our line, which rested on the railroad; General Longstreet's the left, extending along the heights to the Rappahannock above Fredericksburg. General Stuart, with two brigades of cavalry, was posted in the extensive plain on our extreme right. As soon as the advance of the enemy was discovered through the fog, General Stuart, with his accustomed promptness, moved up a section of his horse artillery, which opened with effect upon his flank and drew upon the gallant Pelham a heavy fire, which he sustained unflinchingly for about two hours.
            In the mean time the enemy was fiercely encountered by General A. P. Hill's division, forming General Jackson's right, and, after an obstinate combat, repulsed. During this attack, which was protracted and hotly contested, two of General Hill's brigades were driven back upon our second line. General Early, with part of his division, being ordered to his support, drove the enemy back from the point of woods he had seized, and pursued him into the plain until arrested by his artillery. The right of the enemy's column, extending beyond Hill's front, encountered the right of General Hood, of Longstreet's corps. The enemy took possession of a small copse in front of Hood, but were quickly dispossessed and repulsed with loss.
            During the attack on our right, the enemy was crossing troops over his bridges at Fredericksburg and massing them in front of Longstreet's line. Soon after his repulse on our right, he commenced a series of attacks on our left with a view of obtaining possession of the heights immediately overlooking the town. These repeated attacks were repulsed in gallant style by the Washington Artillery, under Colonel [J. B.] Walton, and a portion of McLaws' division, which occupied these heights. The last assault was made after dark, when Colonel [E. P.] Alexander's battalion had relieved the Washington Artillery (whose ammunition had been exhausted), and ended the contest for the day.
The enemy was supported in his attacks by the fire of strong batteries of artillery on the right bank of the river, as well as by his numerous heavy batteries on the Stafford Heights.
Confederate troops under Cobb and Kershaw behind
a stone wall on Marye's Heights, Fredericksburg, Virginia.
(Library of Congress)
            Our loss during the operations since the movements of the enemy began amounts to about 1,800 killed and wounded. Among the former I regret to report the death of the patriotic soldier and statesman, Brig. Gen. Thomas R. R. Cobb, who fell upon our left, and among the latter that brave soldier and accomplished gentleman, Brig. Gen. Maxcy Gregg, who was very seriously, and it is feared mortally, wounded during the attack on our right.             The enemy today has been apparently engaged in caring for his wounded and burying his dead. His troops are visible in their first position in line of battle, but, with the exception of some desultory cannonading and firing between skirmishers, he has not attempted to renew the attack. About 550 prisoners were taken during the engagement, but the full extent of his loss is unknown.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
R. E. LEE
           


Friday, December 7, 2012

150-Years-Ago -- SKIRMISH ON PADRE ISLAND, TEXAS


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.)

WEST GULF BLOCKADING SQUADRON.               
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 quirtennast.er to issue to them rations and pay them their wages, and let .so.me 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,

 

 


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

150-Years-Ago -- GALVESTON BOMBARDED BY YANKEE GUNBOATS

U.S.S. Westfield, flag ship of the  occupying Yankee fleet at Galveston.
(U.S. Naval Historical Center)
Galveston Weekly News
December 3, 1862



Galveston, 9 A.M., via Eagle Grove.
           A terrible bombardment took place last night at 8 o'clock, caused by a man going near Kuhn's wharf and firing a shot at those on the wharf. A brisk fire from musketry and cannon opened at once. Shells, balls, grape and canister were thrown into the city without mercy. None of the citizens were hurt as far as I have been able to learn.
          
One man on the wharf reported killed. Many narrow escapes of citizens; women and children ran screaming through the streets. Bombardment lasted half hour. A number of houses were struck but not damaged seriously. The Italian fruit store on market street, had three shots through it;   Lemmerman's Union House was struck.
          
Dennis Neil's house had two shots in it. A house on the corner of Post Office and 24th streets was struck, and the occupants had a narrow escape. One shot through Tremont House; Ziekereries house on Mechanic street, Journey's shop on Church street, and Osterman's building on Strand street. One woman had her clothes torn off, but escaped injury.
           The fleet had been expecting an attack from our forces since Saturday, and they were hasty in being alarmed. Albert Ball's store on Strand was riddled with grape and canister. Cooper's old stable was struck with five shots; also the Court House.
 
[Editor's note: A Confederate scout, Tom  Barnett, who was an English veteran of the Mexican War, reportedly provoked the incident when he  exhanged fire with a Union picket on Kuhn's Wharf. -- Battle on the Bay: The Civil War Struggle for Galveston by Edward  Cotham, The University of Texas Press, Austin, 1998, 70-71.]