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Doc. 38.-capture of Port Hudson.

Official correspondence.

headquarters of the nineteenth army corps, Department of the Gulf, Port Hudson, July 9.
General: I have the honor to inform you that Port Hudson surrendered yesterday morning without conditions. We took possession at seven o'clock this morning. The number of prisoners and guns is unknown as yet, but is estimated at five thousand prisoners and fifty pieces of artillery.

Very respectfully,

Brigadier-General W. H. Emory, Commanding Defences of New-Orleans. Richardb. Irwin, A. A. General.

To Major-General Banks, Commanding United States Forces near Port Hudson:
headquarters Port Hudson, La., July 7.
General: Having received information from your troops that Vicksburgh has been surrendered, I make this communication to ask you to give me the official assurance whether this is true or not, and if true I ask for a cessation of hositilities with a view to the consideration of terms for surrendering this position.

I am, General, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Frank Gardner, Major-General Commanding C. S. Forces.

headquarters Department of the Gulf, before Port Hudson, July 8.
To Major-General Frank Gardner, Commanding C. S. Forces, Port Hudson:
General: In reply to your communication dated the seventh instant, by flag of truce received a few moments since, I have the honor to inform you that I received yesterday morning, July seventh, at forty-five minutes past ten o'clock, by the gunboat General Price, an official despatch from Major-General Ulysses S. Grant, U. S. army, whereof the following is a true extract:

headquarters Department of the Tennessee, near Vicksburgh, July 4.
To Major-General N. P. Banks, Commanding Department of the Gulf:
General: The garrison of Vicksburgh surrendered this morning. The number of prisoners, as given by the officers, is twenty-seven thousand; field artillery, one hundred and twenty-eight pieces; and a large number of siege-guns, probably not less than eighty.

Your obedient servant,

U. S. Grant, Major-General.

I regret to say, that under present circumstances, I cannot, consistently with my duty, consent to a cessation of hostilities for the purpose you indicate.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

N. P. Banks, Major-General Commanding.

Port Hudson, July 8.
To Major-General Banks, Commanding U. S. Forces:
General: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your communication of this date, giving a copy of an official communication from Major-General U. S. Grant, U. S. A., announcing the surrender of the garrison of Vicksburgh.

Having defended this position as long as T deem my duty requires, I am willing to surrender to you, and will appoint a commission of three officers to meet a similar commission appointed by yourself at nine o'clock this morning, for the purpose of agreeing upon and drawing up the terms of the surrender, and for that purpose I ask for a cessation of hostilities. Will you please designate a point outside of my breastworks where the meeting shall be held for this purpose?

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Frank Gardner, Commanding C. S. Forces.


headquarters United States forces, before Port Hudson July 8.
To Major-General Frank Gardner, Commanding G. S. Forces, Port Hudson:
General: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your communication of this date, stating that you are willing to surrender the garrison under your command to the forces under my command, and that you will appoint a commission of three officers to meet a similar commission appointed by me, at nine o'clock this morning, for the purpose of agreeing upon and drawing up the terms of surrender.

In reply I have the honor to state that I have designated Brigadier-General Charles P. Stone, Colonel Henry W. Birge, and Lieutenant-Colonel Richard B. Irwin as the officers to meet the commission appointed by you. They will meet your officers at the hour designated at a point where the flag of truce was received this morning. I will direct that active hostilities shall entirely cease on my part until further notice, for the purpose stated.

Very respectfully, your most obedient servant,

N. P. Banks, Major-General Commanding.

The following were the articles of capitulation proposed between the commissioners on the part of the garrison of Port Hudson, La., and the forces of the United States before said place, July eighth, 1863:

article 1. Major-General Frank Gardner surrendered to the United States forces under Major-General Banks, the place of Port Hudson and its dependencies, with its garrison, armament, munitions, public funds, material of war, in the condition as nearly as may be in which they were at the hour of cessation of hostilities, namely, six o'clock A. M., July eighth, 1863.

article 2. The surrender stipulated in Article 1 is qualified by no condition, save that the officers and enlisted men composing the garrison shall receive the treatment due to prisoners of war, according to the usages of civilized warfare.

article 3. All private property of officers and enlisted men shall be inspected and left to their respective owners.

article 4. The position of Port Hudson shall be occupied to-morrow at seven o'clock A. M. by the forces of the United States, and its garrison received as prisoners of war by such general officers of the United States service as may be designated by Major-General Banks, with the ordinary formalities of rendition. The confederate troops will be drawn up in line, officers in their positions, the right of the line resting on the edge of the prairie south of the railroad depot, the left extending in the direction of the village of Port Hudson. The arms and colors will be piled conveniently, and will be received by the officers of the United States.

article 5. The sick and wounded of the garrison will be cared for by the authorities of the United States, assisted, if desired, by either party of the medical officers of the garrison.

Charles P. Stone, Brigadier-General W. N. Miles, Colonel Commanding Right Wing of the Army. Wm. Dwight, Brigadier-General. G. W. Steedman, Colonel Commanding Left Wing of the Army. Marshal J. Smith, Lieutenant-Colonel, Chief of Artillery. Henry W. Birge, Colonel Commanding Fifth Brigade, Glover's Division. N. P. Banks, Major-General. Frank Gardner, Major-General.

A National account.

headquarters Port Hudson, Thursday, July 9, 1863.
Heaven be praised! Port Hudson is ours!

In my late letters I have informed you how, step by step, we were encroaching upon the enemy, until all resistance would be useless. Some — where about midnight of the seventh, a Lieutenant of Holcomb's battery came to the tent of Major-General Augur's Assistant Adjutant-General, and said that the enemy were sounding a bugle, which foreboded he knew not what. Shortly afterward another came to say that they had sent out a flag of truce. Very soon after that an officer came galloping up, in the bright light of a waning moon, from General Banks's headquarters; and I heard the voice of Colonel Irwin eagerly inquiring for the tent of General Augur--the whole camp being in calm repose. The few who were awake wondered, of course, what all this could mean; and what it did the official correspondence will best explain.

At the earliest dawn of the — now ever memorable--ninth July, the whole camp was necessarily in the highest state of glee and commotion, and the “Star-spangled banner,” “Yankee Doodle,” and “Dixie” came borne upon the morning air — never sounding sweeter.

At seven o'clock, General Andrews, Chief of the Staff of General Banks, made his grand entrance into the rebel fortifications, with Colonel Birge leading his brave storming column, whose noble services have thus been, happily for their friends, dispensed with; but to whom the country is no less indebted — taking the will for the deed. These were followed by two picked regiments from each division, with Holcomb's and Rawle's battery of light artillery, and the gunners of the naval battery.

The rebels were drawn up in line, and an immense line they made, their officers in font of them on one side of the road, their backs to the river. General Gardner then advanced toward General Andrews, and, in a few accompanying words, offered to surrender his sword with Port Hudson; but General Andrews told him that, in appreciation of his bravery — however misdirected — he was at liberty to retain his sword.

Our men were then drawn up in two lines on the other side of the road, opposite to the rebels, [207] and our officers placed themselves in front of their men. General Gardner then said to General Andrews: “General, I will now formally surrender my command to you, and for that purpose will give the orders to ground arms.” The order was given and the arms were grounded.

After that General Andrews sent for the enemy's general officers, staff and field-officers. The line-officers were left with their companies and guard, composed of the Twenty-second Louisiana and Seventy-fifth New-York, placed over them. These formalities over, the glorious old flag of the Union was unfolded to the breeze from one of the highest bluffs facing the river, by the men of the Richmond — a battery thundered forth its salute, which rolled majestically up and down the broad surface of the Mississippi — and Port Hudson was ours!

What we obtained with it.

Five thousand prisoners, as stated by General Gardner himself.

Serviceable: Three forty-two pound barbette guns; two thirty-two pound barbette guns; one thirty-two pound barbette gun, (rifled;) one eight-inch barbette gun; two ten-inch barbette guns; one twenty-four pound barbette gun; four twenty-four pound barbette guns, (rifled;) one twelve-pound barbette gun.

Disabled: One twenty-four pound barbette gun; one eight-inch barbette gun; one thirty-two pound barbette gun; one twenty-four pound barbette gun; one thirty-pound barbette gun.

Recapitulation: Fifteen heavy guns, in good condition; five complete field-batteries, thirty-one guns in good condition, besides disabled guns; one thousand nine hundred and eleven shot and shell for heavy guns, various calibres; seven hundred and seventy-five cartridges; twelve thousand pounds of powder, made up in cartridges, for heavy guns, various calibres; thirty-two thousand pounds cannon powder; one hundred and fifty thousand cartridges, small arms; five thousand muskets.

It was with no little delight that I found myself riding at last over every portion of this long-forbidden ground, noting the havoc which our cannon made not only in the ramparts but over the whole internal surface. Not a square rood but bore some indisputable proof of the iron deluge that had fallen upon it, in earth ploughed up, trees with the bark almost completely torn off by rifle-shot, and some — twice the bulk of a man's body — fairly snapped in two by some solid ball, as easily as a walking-cane.

As to what they called the town of Port Hudson — a miserable little conglomeration of two or wooden buildings, and a nondescript church among them — the destruction is so complete that I cannot see how they escaped being utterly swept away. I went into the old church, looking out for any crazy timber that might fall from shattered roof or tumbling walls, with orifices made by cannon, larger than the windows, and found the whole floor strewed with beans, broken beams and laths, plaster, etc. If those were all the beans they had left, I don't think the quantity of their food exceeded the quality; and beans were what they had left to most depend upon.

Their river fortifications were terribly effective, and might have resisted any amount of attack had they been impregnable elsewhere. Far down in the bowels of the lofty bluffs they had dug deep recesses, approached by steps cut out of the earth, and here their magazines were placed quite safe — owing to the enormous thickness of earth above — from any projectiles that could be sent against them. One or two “quaker guns” were found. On the fortifications to the land side, every thing told of the terrible efficiency of our artillery, which never did its work better. Foremost among these were Mack's, Holcomb's, and Rawle's batteries, the Indiana battery, and the naval battery of heavy guns, under the gallant Lieutenant Terry, of the Richmond, and his fine crew, who sent desolation along with every shot from their large pieces. The effect was, that soon after we began bombarding in earnest, every gun upon the front batteries was silenced; and they have so remained for weeks since; any one they replaced being knocked over as soon as we got the range of it. In speaking of how much we owe the artillery, we cannot speak too highly of the unsparing exertions and skilful dispositions of General Arnold, under whom the whole of this arm of the service was placed.

Collateral praise must necessarily fall upon those faithful underworkers who, although unseen at the surface, have nevertheless the most mighty results depending upon the accuracy and promptness of their observations — I mean the Topographical Engineers under Major Houston. Foremost among these were Lieutenant Ulfers, Mr. Olt mans, Mr. Robins, and the lamented Mr. Luce, who was killed a short time ago while in the act of taking an observation. The enormous amount of personal hardships and dangers these gentlemen have to undergo, after going far ahead of the army and little exploring expeditions of their own in the enemy's country — the coolness and self-possession which their services require of them in every emergency, are things of which few people probably think, but which, nevertheless, have the most momentous bearing upon the success or failure of a general's plan of. attack. They are the real scouts and pioneers, who have first detected many a new move of the enemy, and who first espy every new earth-work thrown up silently over night — every new gun put in position.

As we rode along the earth-works inside, it was curious to mark the ingenious ways in which the enemy had burrowed holes to shelter themselves from shell and the intolerable rays of the sun. While at their work they must have looked like so many rabbits popping in and out of their warren. The breastworks, instead of being straight at the top, present a continuous succession of little hills and valleys, from the perpetual ploughing up of our artillery.. As to the guns, there were many of them knocked clean away from their carriages, and looking as if some earthquake had heaved up the earth from under them. The [208] amount of mortality and casualties from all this terrible and continuous cannonading fell amazingly short of what I should have imagined. The rebels assert that it did not exceed seven hundred and eighty.

Many opportunities were naturally afforded for feeling the pulse of the rebels after two such over-whelming discomfitures. They seemed to bear it with great composure, whether real or feigned, I know not, but I think they were quite as glad to see us enter as we were to come in. Our men were to be seen everywhere mingling and exchanging notes freely with them. They were certainly a much finer looking set of fellows than I expected to meet in starving men; for it is no longer denied that they were getting to the last extremity for food. Indeed a friend of mine had the curiosity to lunch off a piece of their mule's tongue, and he said the only difference he found was that it was a little poor, compared with oxtongue.

While standing on a cliff, calmly and pleasantly contemplating the fleet of busy steamers already sending up their well-accustomed noise and smoke under our newly conquered territory, and admiring the beauty of the Union flag as its graceful form waved sharp and clear against the blue sky, a rebel captain, gaily dressed--(the officers were all arrayed as if for some grand parade)--came up to me and said, thoughtfully:

It is a long time, sir, since we have seen so many vessels lying there.

“Yes, sir, and I am glad of it, for your sake as well as ours,” I replied.

“How so?” he asked in a somewhat surprised tone.

“Because,” said I, “it looks to me very much like the beginning of the end; and that is what we all wish to see.”

“The end is very far off yet,” he continued in a proud manner. “In the first place, I do not believe, even now, that Vicksburgh is lost to us; and you never yet knew a rebellion of such magnitude to fail in achieving its object.”

“Nor did you ever know a rebellion so causeless and unnatural to succeed,” was my reply. “If you were like Poles or Circassians, and we Russians, trying to crush out your existing nationality — if this were a war of religion or of races, I could imagine it lasting through many, many years. But it is not so. Instead of trying to crush out your nationality, we are merely fighing to prevent you from crushing out our mutual one; and every acre, every liberty we save from destruction is as much yours as ours. War for such a cause was never waged before, and therefore cannot last. When a few more decisive successes like the present shall have proved beyond all doubt to the Southern people that the cause of separation is utterly hopeless, I think we shall all be glad to meet again as citizens of a common country, greater for the very ordeal through which it has passed. The only difference will be that Slavery — the cause of all this trouble — will have died during the progress of the war.”

“We shall see,” said the captain, either unwilling or unable to maintain his position further. “I suppose you will allow we defended our position here well.”

“Too well,” I replied; “I think a great many good lives, on both sides, might have been saved by sooner surrendering a place which, it must have been evident, you could not possibly retain.”

“We should have done so,” he candidly avowed, “only we were all the while hoping for reinforcements.”

After a few more polite remarks, I left him for another part of the field. He was a young officer from Maryland, and said he had not seen his home for three years. Surely, never were more splendid zeal and courage exhibited in a worse cause.

General Gardner is a man of about forty-five, apparently, tall and erect, with well-developed dark-brown beard and moustache, and of quite a martial bearing.

When the ceremonies of a formal surrender were over, he came, in company with General Stone, to make a call on General Augur, on his way to the headquarters of General Banks. He and his staff seemed to be quite at home, and nobody, in looking at them, could feel that they were the people who had just been causing all this terrible outpouring of Northern blood.

I suppose it is all very chivalrous, brave, and according to the regular military code of etiquette; but while seeing the attentions paid to these worthies, I could not help wondering if they were as polite to us. I could not help corning to a negative conclusion when an officer, of some rank in our army — in looking at the gay cavalcade, as General Banks and staff, with a full escort, accompanied by General Gardner and some of his officers, came up to General Augur's headquarters — whispered in my ear the following grave contrast:

When I, an officer of the United States army, was confined in the Libby Prison, we were not even allowed to look out of a window under penalty of death. A brother officer--only a few feet from me — in innocently going to a window to hang something on a peg, was deliberately shot in the region of the heart by an infernal villain below, called a sentinel. At another time the sentinel, seeing a man looking out of a window in the second story of the same building, deliberately fired at him.

The ball missed the intended victim; but, passing through the second floor into the story above, killed a poor fellow who was at the further end of the room doing nothing! These things I know to be so, for I was there and saw them!

I am told that the rebels now treat our prisoners just as well as we treat theirs. The country will be glad to know that it is so, and that if they cannot afford champagne to their brave prisoners, they at least show them the same polite attentions and allow them the same latitude of visiting families in the neighborhood. It will [209] be equally satisfactory to know that this lovely spirit of humanity and chivalry does not exist alone at Richmond, but among the chivalrous cut-throats of Missouri, Tennessee, and Texas. The rebels hung Colonel Montgomery in Texas recently, and Colonel Davis nearly escaped the same fate. If it be argued that these men were deserters, pray what is Gardner himself? We feast their officers with liberty and champagne. Which code of etiquette is the right one our military authorities must determine; but, in the name of common-sense, let the rule be uniform and reciprocal.

After the two attempts made to reduce Port Hudson by a land assault, or rather the reconnoissances in force to that effect, on the twenty-seventh May and fourteenth June, General Banks showed great judgment and humanity in not attempting it again until he had fully invested the place by a series of irresistible approaches.

His wisdom in this matter is proved not only by the very difficult nature of the ground we found within the fortification — full of deep and impenetrable ravines, where a very small force could oppose a large one--but by the testimony of Gardner himself. It is really pleasurable to look back now and see how much blood has been saved that might have been uselessly shed.

General Gardner says (and I give you this as no idle gossip, but I know to be so)--that Vicksburgh only made a difference to him of three days. That he had made up his mind to surrender at the expiration of that time, and that any serious demonstration would have brought out a flag at any moment. We learn from this, that the glory of Port Hudson is not to be hidden in the larger but fuller one of Vicksburgh; but must stand upon its own intrinsic individuality; a result of certain irresistible combination, and not the mere sequence of a previous disaster to the rebels.

General Gardner also says that the very day our lines closed in on him--May twenty--fourth--brought him, by a courier who came through safely, a positive order from General Johnston to evacuate the post. This shows the wonderful rapidity and dexterity with which General Banks wheeled his army round from Alexandria and Baton Rouge upon the unsuspecting rebel chief, and should never be lost sight of in forming a fair estimate of this very brilliant military movement.

Two grand things are taught us by both Vicksburgh and Port Hudson--(so like in their aim, details and results, that Colonel Smith, of General Grant's staff, while riding along our intrenchments, said he. could not help “fancying he was at Vicksburgh” )--and those are: First, that there is nothing like dash and determined, rapid aggressive movement against the enemy we are contending with; and second, that there is no hole now in which he can hide himself, from which we cannot — with time and proper appliances — dislodge him, as surely as a ferret upon the track of a rat.

The fleet.

This great arm of our service, which has hitherto reaped the far greater share of glory in positive successes, and which, on the first grand attack upon Port Hudson, had the honor all to itself, cannot on this last occasion claim but a secondary part. The army has really done the work; aided by the navy, of course, to some extent, but not materially.

Owing to the excessive fall in the river, which left Port Hudson perched high upon its impregnable cliffs, the cannonading from the fleet did little more than bother and harass them with perpetual noise; but causing — so they all declare — very little damage. It was the terrific potency of our land-batteries they dreaded; the horrible skirmishers and sharp-shooters who, night and day, were perpetually popping away at every head that showed itself at the breastworks during the entire week; and — worse than all — it was that entire cutting him off from all supplies and communication — literally walling them in by fire — which brought them to at last.

Still, we must not forget that in this work on land the sailors took a very important part. The marine battery, directed by Lieutenant Terry, of the Richmond — the same who so conspicuously distinguished himself in the grand attack upon Port Hudson — and the gallant crew under him, did their work so effectively, soon after they began, that they had no gun to stand against them.

At this juncture came out General Banks's call for a storming party of one thousand. Lieutenant Terry was among the foremost of the volunteers. Owing, however, to the assault being delayed, and Captain Alden, of the Richmond, having left on account of ill-health, Lieutenant Terry was commanded to return to his vessel. Though disappointed in his aim, his bravery was none the less conspicuous.

Nothing can be more amusing than the notion the rebels seem to have of their utter invincibility. I mentioned before how my quondam friend, the captain, said he did not believe, even then, that Vicksburgh had capitulated. Another amusing instance came to my knowledge. News having reached us on the seventh instant of the fall of Vicksburgh, Colonel Nelson, commanding the colored regiment on our right, received official intelligence of the same from his commander, General Grover.

It appears that Colonel Nelson's approaches upon the enemy had got so very close-only twenty feet apart — that, by mutual concession, they had stopped the murderous work of perpetually shooting at each other, and the officers and men used to come out from the opposite sides and have quite a pleasant confab. This had gone on for three days, hourly expecting the order for an assault.

When Nelson got his delightful information, happening to meet a rebel colonel, he told him the fact and showed him the document. “I'm not a betting man,” said the colonel, “and don't [210] know that you are, but I will bet you an even hundred that this is not so.”

“Done,” said Nelson; “I have not one hundred dollars with me, but here is my gold watch as a stake.” The watch and the one hundred dollars were put into the hands of another rebel officer and taken into Port Hudson; and this before there were any symptoms of Gardner's surrender Colonel Van Pettin, one of the storming party, happening to come up with a similar notice to Nelson's in his pocket, the rebel colonel seemed inclined to back out of his bet, but Colonel Nelson held him to it, and has, since the surrender of Port Hudson, received back his watch and the hundred dollars, in confederate notes — worth nothing to him, of course, but little pictorial mementoes of a curious event of the war. I have no doubt whatever that it was this little sporting transaction which first gave Gardner an inkling of his position, and led to the correspondence which terminated in a capitulation of the place.

One more point and I close my remarks about the capitulation of Port Hudson. I am sorry to say that rumors are afloat, borne out, unfortunately, too strongly by facts, that our colored soldiers who have fallen into the hands of the rebels have not received the treatment recognized by civilized nations. In other words, we could find no negro prisoners in Port Hudson, and there were none in the hospital. The simple question is, Where are they? I leave each one to draw his own conclusion, merely saying that I consider this a matter fully warranting the investigation of our authorities. 1


1 See “The siege of Port Hudson.”

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