Chapter 19: the repossession of Alabama by the Government.
- Preparation of an expedition against Mobile, 506.
-- fortifications around Mobile, 507.
-- gathering of troops at New Orleans, 508.
-- advance of the National forces, 509.
-- attack on Spanish Fort, on Mobile Bay, 510.
-- fortifications at Blakely, 511.
-- battle of Blakely, 512.
-- evacuation of Mobile by the Confederates, 513.
-- an important cavalry expedition organized, 514.
-- its triumphant March through Alabama, 515.
-- it moves on Selma, 516.
-- capture of Selma, 517.
-- destruction of property in Selma, 518.
-- capture of Montgomery and Columbus, 519.
-- La Grange's expedition to West Point
-- capture of Fort Tyler, 520.
-- Croxton's destructive raid, 521.
-- the author's journey from Savannah to Montgomery, 522.
-- a day at Montgomery
-- the State capital, 523.
-- at Selma, Mobile, and New Orleans, 524.
-- departure for Port Hudson and Vicksburg, 525.
The repossession of Alabama
was an important part of General Grant
's comprehensive plan of campaign for the winter
The capture of the forts at the entrance to Mobile Bay
was a necessary preliminary movement.
then known how weakly Mobile
was defended, he and Granger
might easily have captured it.1
They closed the port, and its value to the Confederates
as a commercial depot, or as a gate of communication with the outer world, was thereby effectually destroyed.
For several months after the harbor of Mobile
was sealed, there was comparative quiet in that region.
The grand movements in Georgia
and in Middle Tennessee
occupied the attention of all. At length, when Sherman
had finished his triumphal march through Georgia
, to the sea-board, and Thomas
had decimated Hood
's army in Middle Tennessee
and the Government
determined to take active measures for the repossession of Alabama
, by a movement against Mobile
, aided by other operations in the interior.
The conduct of the expedition against Mobile
was assigned to General E. R. S. Canby
, then commanding the West Mississippi Army, with headquarters at New Orleans; and the co-operating movement was intrusted to General J. H. Wilson
, the eminent cavalry leader, under the direction of General Thomas
, at the beginning of 1865, was thoroughly fortified by three continuous lines of earth-works around the entire city.
The first was constructed by Captain C. T. Lieurner
, in 1862, at an average distance of three miles out from the business streets, and comprised fifteen redoubts.
In 1863, after the fall of Vicksburg
, when an attack upon Mobile
was expected, General D. Leadbetter2
constructed a second line of works, which passed through the suburbs of the city, comprising sixteen inclosed and strong redoubts.
It was then estimated that a garrison of ten thousand effective men might, with these fortifications, defend Mobile
against a besieging army of forty thousand men. In 1864, a third line of earth-works was constructed by Lieutenant-Colonel
, about half-way between the other two, and included nineteen heavy bastioned forts and eight redoubts, making, in all the fortifications around the city, fifty-eight forts and redoubts, with connecting breast works.
The parapets of the forts were from fifteen to twenty feet in thickness, and the ditches, through which the tide-water of the harbor flowed, were about twenty feet in depth and thirty in width.
Besides these land defenses of Mobile
, there were several well-armed batteries along the shore below the city, and in the harbor commanding the channels of approach to the town,
besides several which guarded the entrances to the rivers that flow into the head of Mobile Bay
General J. E. Johnston
was the best fortified place in the Confederacy
It was garrisoned by about fifteen thousand men, including the troops on the east side of the bay, and a thousand negro laborers, subject to the command of the engineers.
These were under the direct command of General D. H. Maury
. General Dick Taylor
was then in charge of the Department
The movable forces under Canby
's command, had been organized into brigades, called the “Reserve Corps of the Military Division of the West Mississippi
,” and numbered about ten thousand effective men. Early in January,
these were concentrated at Kenner
, ten miles above New Orleans, and General F. Steele6
was assigned to take command of them.
A part of this force was soon afterward sent to Fort Barrancas
, in Pensacola Bay
, and the remainder followed directly.
These, with the addition of seven regiments, and several light batteries, were organized as the Thirteenth Army Corps, comprising three divisions, and General Gordon Granger
was assigned to its command.
Meanwhile, the Sixteenth Army Corps (General A. J. Smith
), which had assisted in driving Hood
out of Tennessee
, was ordered to join Canby
It was then cantoned at Eastport
Early in February, it went in transports, accompanied by Knipe
's division of cavalry, five thousand strong, by the waters of the Tennessee
, and Mississippi rivers
, to New Orleans, where it arrived on the 21st,
after a travel of over thirteen hundred miles in the space of eleven days. There the corps remained awhile, waiting for the perfection of the arrangements for the expedition under Wilson
which was to sweep down from the north, through Alabama
, simultaneously with Canby
's attack on Mobile
The corps finally moved again, and arrived at Fort Gaines
, on Dauphin Island
, on the 7th of March, where a siege train was organized, *consisting of seven batteries of the First Indiana Artillery, two of the Sixth Michigan, and one of Mack
's Eighteenth New York.
The cavalry marched overland from New Orleans.
At the middle of March, every thing was in readiness for an attack on Mobile
, with from twenty-five thousand to thirty thousand troops, composed of the Thirteenth and Sixteenth Corps, Knipe
's cavalry division, and a brigade of cavalry, a division of infantry, and another of negro troops, under General Steele
, at Barrancas
The West Gulf Squadron, commanded by Rear-Admiral Thatcher
, was there, to co-operate.
was so strongly fortified, that a direct attack upon it on the western side of the bay, was deemed too hazardous, and involved a protracted siege; it was therefore determined to flank the post by a movement of the main army up the eastern shore, and in concert with the navy, seize the fortifications on the islands and main land at the head of the bay, and then approach Mobile
by way of Tensas River
, or one of the channels above the city.
For this purpose, a point on Fish River
, that empties into Bon Secour Bay
, north of Mobile Point
, was chosen as the place of rendezvous for the troops, and a base of operations, at a distance of not more than twenty miles from Spanish Fort
, the heaviest of the fortifications to be attacked.8
That movement was begun on the 17th,
when the Thirteenth Corps marched from Fort Morgan
, on Mobile Point
, and made its way slowly over a swampy region in heavy rains, consuming
five or six days in the tedious and perilous journey.
The Sixteenth Corps was already at the appointed rendezvous; having crossed the bay in transports from Fort Gaines
to Danley's Ferry.
Meanwhile, a feint on Mobile
was made to attract attention while the main body was concentrating at Fish River
This was done by Moore
's brigade of the Sixteenth Corps, which landed, with artillery, on Cedar Point
, on the west side of the bay, under fire of the squadron.
They drove away the Confederate
occupants of the Point
, and followed them to Fowle River, where the pursuers were ordered to cross the bay and rejoin the corps, which they did on the 23d.
The movement had created much uneasiness in Mobile
, for Moore
's force was reported there to be from four thousand to six thousand strong.
While these movements were in progress on the borders of the bay, General Steele
, with Hawkins
's division of negro troops, and Lucas
's cavalry, had been marching from Pensacola
, ten miles north of Mobile
, destroying, on the way, the railroad at Pollard
, and inducing the belief that Canby
's real objective was Montgomery
, and not Mobile
He encountered very little opposition, excepting from squads of Confederate cavalry.
These fell back before him, until he reached Pringle's Creek, where he had a sharp fight
with about eight hundred Alabama
cavalry, under General Clanton
These were routed by a charge, with a loss of about two hundred of their number killed and wounded, and two hundred and seventy-five made prisoners.
Among the latter was their leader.
found very little opposition after that until he reached the front of Blakely
where he received supplies from General Canby
, sent in seventy-five wagons in charge of General J. C. Veatch
On the 25th of March, the. Thirteenth and Sixteenth Corps advanced from Fish River
, on Mobile
, up the east side of the bay, along the Belle
, Rose and Blakely roads, which were made perilous by torpedoes, that killed several men and horses.
They met with skirmishers only, and on the next day were in the neighborhood of Spanish Fort
, seven miles due east from Mobile
perceived the necessity of reducing this work before passing on to Blakely
; and, on the following morning,
before ten o'clock, it was completely invested, on the land side.
The divisions of Carr
, of the Sixteenth Corps, were, at first, on the right, the extreme of the former resting on Bayou Minette, and Benton
's division of the Thirteenth Corps, was on the left, its extreme touching at Belle Rose.
The remainder of the Sixteenth Corps seriously threatened Blakeley
came up a few days afterward and joined that corps, and his troops then formed the extreme right in front of Blakely
's squadron had moved up the bay parallel with the army, as far as the shallow water would allow, to assist in reducing the fort and cutting it off from communication with Mobile
was garrisoned by nearly three thousand men of Hood
's late army, under General R. L. Gibson
It was soon found that Spanish Fort
proper, with its near neighbors and dependents, Red Fort and Fort Alexis, were stout adversaries to contend with, and were ready and willing to give blow for blow.
As the day ad<*> vanced, collisions became warmer and warmer; and, before sunset, there
was a tremendous cannonade from besiegers and besieged, and the gunboats of both parties, which was kept up all night, and afforded a magnificent spectacle for the citizens of Mobile
a siege was formally begun.
had established his lines at distances of three hundred and four hundred yards from the fort, and at that short range, pounded it unmercifully.
The siege continued a fortnight, during which time the greatest gallantry and fortitude were displayed on both sides.
Every day the Nationals mounted new pieces of heavy caliber, until, at length, no less than sixteen mortars, twenty heavy guns, and six field-pieces were brought to bear upon the fort.
The gun-boat Cherokee
got within range of the works at the beginning, and, at intervals throughout the siege, hurled a 100-pound shell into the fort.
The squadron did good service, not only in shelling the works, but in driving the Confederate vessels so far to-ward the city, that their fire failed to reach the besiegers.
The National vessels kept up a steady fire all day, and retired at night to anchorage at Great Point
In these operations of the squadron, two of the gunboats (Milwaukee
) were destroyed by torpedoes.
When, on the 3d of April, the Nationals had built an earth-work and mounted large guns upon it within two hundred yards of the fort, the latter was completely and closely invested, and its doom was sealed.
Yet the garrison fought bravely on, and the besiegers suffered greatly from the shells, for the lines were at short range from the fort.
At length Canby
determined to make a grand assault by a concentric fire from all his heavy guns, his field-pieces, and the gun-boats, and, if necessary, by the troops.
This was begun toward sunset on the 8th of April, and soon afterward, two companies of the Eighth Iowa, Colonel Bell
, of Gedde
's brigade of Carr
's division, were sent as pickets and sharp-shooters, to gain a crest near the fort, intrench, and pick off the Confederate
This was done gallantly, in the face of a brisk fire, for General Gibson
had doubled his line of sharp-shooters.
They were Texans, brave and skillful, and stoutly disputed the advance of the Iowa
men. But the latter pressed on, gained the prescribed point, but had to fight instead of digging.
saw this, and first sent one company to their aid. Then, seeing his brave men in great peril, he led the remainder *of his regiment to their assistance.
He found the place they were holding too hot to be comfortable.
To retreat would be fatal; so he gallantly *charged over their works, fought the Texans
desperately, and finally, after a severe struggle in the dark, overpowered them.
Then the victors swept along the rear, capturing men and portions of the works, until about three hundred yards of the intrenchments was in their possession, with three stands of colors and three hundred and fifty prisoners.
This gallant exploit determined Gibson
to evacuate the fort, for it was evidently no longer tenable.
Its fire, in response to the continued bombardment, became more and more feeble, and, before midnight, ceased altogether.
Other troops pressed into the works, and by a little past two o'clock in the morning, Bertram
's brigade entered it without opposition, and was ordered to garrison it. So ended the siege of Spanish Fort
A greater portion of the garrison had escaped.
About six hundred of them were made prisoners; and the spoils of victory were Spanish
Fort proper and its inclosing works, with thirty heavy guns and a large quantity of munitions of war. These guns were now turned upon Forts Huger and Tracy, at the mouth of the Appalachee
or Blakely River
, which held out gallantly until the night of the 11th,
when the garrison spiked the twelve guns that armed the two forts, and fled.9
The key to Mobile
was now in the hands of the Nationals.
Prisoners told the men of the navy where torpedoes were planted, when thirty-five of them were fished up, and the squadron moved in safety almost within shelling distance of the city.
The army turned its face toward Blakely
, on the east bank of the Appalachee
, an insignificant village, at an important point in the operations against Mobile
Around this, on the arc of a circle, the Confederates
had constructed a line of works, from a bluff on the river at the left, to high ground on the same stream at the right.
These works comprised nine redoubts or lunettes, and were nearly three miles in extent.
They were thoroughly built, and were armed with forty guns.
The garrison consisted of the militia brigade of General Thomas
, known as the Alabama
reserves, and a brigade of veterans from Missouri
, of Hood
's army, under General Cockerell
The two brigades numbered about three thousand men, commanded K by General St. John Lidell
Ever since Steele
's arrival from Pensacola
, his troops, and particularly Hawkins
's negro division, had held Fort Blakely
, as the works there were called, in a state of siege; and, for the first four days of the siege of Spanish Fort
, it had been closely invested.
It was now determined to carry it by
The defenses of Mobile on the eastern shore. |
assault, and then push on to Mobile
By the fall of Spanish Fort
, the water communications of Blakely
, with the city, had been cut off, and its reduction had been made sure.
Yet it was capable of stout resistance.
In front of its line of works was a deep and broad ditch; also abatis, chevaux-de-frise
and terra-torpedoes; and its forty cannon swept every avenue of approach.
In front of these Canby
formed a strong line of battle, with additional cannon brought up from before Spanish Fort
followers were on its right, the divisions of Generals J. C. Veatch
and C. C. Andrews
, of the Thirteenth Corps, formed the center, and Garrard
's division of the Sixteenth Corps composed its left.
Other divisions of the Sixteenth Corps were near, ready to afford aid to the battle-line, if necessary.
It was Sunday, the 9th of April. Half-past 5 o'clock in the afternoon was
appointed as the time for the. assault.
At that hour dark clouds were rolling up from the west, and the low bellowing of distant thunder was heard.
That “artillery of heaven” was soon made inaudible to the armies, by the roar of cannon.
's division first skirmished heavily toward the works, when Garrard
sent one-third of his command,10
under a heavy fire of the Seventeenth Ohio Battery, and in the face of a storm of shells, to discover the safest avenues for an attack in force.
These gained a point within fifty yards of the works, and found that every way was equally perilous, and all extremely so. But the work must be done.
gave the magnetic word, “Forward!”
when his whole division bounded toward the enemy with a loud shout, meeting the galling fire of a score of guns.
For more than half an hour they struggled with the obstacles in front of the works, sometimes recoiling as the dreadful storm of shells and canister-shot became more dreadful, yet continually making headway, inspirited by the voice of Garrard
, who was in the thickest of the fight.
At length, the obstructions were cleared, and while Harris
's brigade was passing the ditch and climbing the face of the works, those of Gilbert
turned the right of the fort and entered it, capturing General Thomas
and a thousand men. In an instant, a loud cheer arose, and several National flags were unfurled over the parapets.
While the struggle was going on upon the left, the whole line was participating in the assault.
The center was feeling the storm from the Works more seriously than the left.
's brigade, of Veatch
's division, and those of Spicely
, of Andrews
's division, were nobly braving the hail as they pushed onward in a charge, so soon as Garrard
was fairly at work.
Steadily they pressed forward, men falling at almost every step; and when Andrews
's column was within forty yards of the works, it was terribly smitten by the fire of eight guns, that made lanes through its ranks.
At the same time, the Eighty-third Ohio and Ninety-seventh Illinois, pushing forward as skirmishers, were just on the borders of a ditch, when more than a dozen torpedoes exploded under their feet, which threw them into confusion for a few minutes.
This was followed by a tempest of grape and canister-shot, but the assault was pressed with vigor and steadiness, not only by the center, but by the right, where the brigades of Pile, Schofield
, and Drew, of Hawkins
's negro division, were at work, at twilight, fighting Mississippians, as their dusky brethren did at Overton's Hill, in the battle of Nashville
At length, when ordered to carry the works at all hazards, their fearful cry of “Remember Fort Pillow
ran from rank to rank, and they dashed forward over the Confederate
embankments, scattering every thing before them.
But these black men were more humane than Forrest
and his fellow-butchers at Fort Pillow
, for, unlike those ferocious men, they did not murder their captives.
So ended, in triumph to the Nationals, the battle of Blakely
By seven o'clock; or within the space of an hour and a half from the time the assault began, they had possession of all the works, with Generals Lidell
, and Thomas
, and other officers of high rank, and three thousand men, as prisoners of war. The spoils were nearly forty pieces of artillery, four thousand small-arms, sixteen battle-flags, and a vast quantity of ammunition.
The Confederates lost, in killed and wounded, about five hundred men. The National loss was about one thousand.
were now in undisputed possession of the whole eastern shore of the bay. The army and navy spent all the next day
in careful reconnoitering, preparing for an advance on Mobile
Some of the gun-boats attempted to go up to Blakely
, but were checked by a heavy fire from Forts Huger and Tracy.
From these island batteries full two hundred shells were thrown at the navy during that and the next day, when, as we have seen, the garrisons of both spiked their guns, and fled in the shadows of night.
Meanwhile the Thirteenth Army Corps had been taken across the bay, for an attack on Mobile
, in connection with the gun-boats, which went from place to place, taking possession of abandoned batteries here and there.
But the army found no enemy to fight.
On the day after the fall of Blakely
ordered the evacuation of Mobile
; and on the 11th, after sinking the powerful rams Huntsville
he fled up the Alabama River
, with nine thousand men, on gun-boats and transports.
Battery Gladden. |
possession of Batteries Gladden and McIntosh, in the harbor, and Battery Missouri, below the city; and on the evening of the 12th, after a summons to surrender, made by General Granger
and Rear-Admiral Thatcher
, the authorities formally gave the place into their hands at Battery Missouri, below the town.
On the following day Veatch
's division entered the city, and the National
flag was hoisted on the public buildings, thereby disgusting the rebellious inhabitants, who closed their stores, shut up their dwellings, and kept from the streets; and the publication of four of the newspapers was suspended.
followed the army into the city, and General Canby
and his staff entered soon afterward.13
was “repossessed” a little more
than four years after the politicians of Alabama
raised the standard of revolt, and the foolish city authorities sought to blot out the memory of the old Union, by changing the names of its streets.14
To accomplish that repossession, in the manner here recorded, cost the Government
two thousand men and much treasure.
Four gun-boats (two iron-clad and two “tin-clad,” as the lighter armored vessels were called) and five other vessels were destroyed by torpedoes.
During that campaign, of about three weeks,15
the army and navy captured about five thousand men, nearly four hundred cannon, and a vast amount of public property.
The value of ammunition and commissary stores found in Mobile
, alone, was estimated at $2,000,000. In that city Veatch
found a thousand men, left behind, who became prisoners, and upon the works for its immediate defense were one hundred and fifty cannon.16
Let us now consider the operations of General Wilson
, in the field, while Canby
was effecting the reduction of Mobile
After the close of Thomas
's active campaign in Middle Tennessee
, the cavalry of the Military Division of the Mississippi, numbering about twenty-two thousand men and horses, were encamped on the north side of the Tennessee River
, at Gravelly Springs
and Waterloo, in Lauderdale County, Alabama
These had been thoroughly disciplined, when, in March,
they were prepared for an expedition into Alabama
, having for its object co-operation with Canby
in the reduction of Mobile
, and the capture of important places, particularly Selma
, on the Alabama River
, where the Confederates
had extensive iron founderies.
The march of Cheatham
toward the Carolinas, with a part of Hood
's broken army, and the employment of the remainder at Mobile
, made nearly the whole of Thomas
's force in Tennessee
, disposable, and Wilson
left Chickasaw Landing
, on the Tennessee River
, on the 22d of March, with about thirteen thousand men, composing the divisions of Long, Upton
He had six batteries.
His men were all mounted excepting fifteen hundred, who were detailed as an escort to the supply and baggage trains of two hundred and fifty wagons.
There was also a light pontoon train of thirty boats, carried by fifty six-mule wagons.
Each man was well provided on the basis of a
sixty days campaign, it being ordered that men and animals should subsist, as far as possible, on the country.18
To deceive the Confederates
, and accommodate itself to the condition of the country, Wilson
's command moved on — diverging routes, the distances between the divisions expanding and contracting, according to circumstances.
The general course was a little east of south, until they reached the waters of the Black Warrior River
marched for Sanders's Ferry on the west fork of the Black Warrior
, by way of Russellville
and Mount Hope
, to Jackson
, in Walker County
Long went by devious ways to the same point, and McCook
, taking the Tuscaloosa
road as far as Eldridge
, turned eastward to Jasper
, from which point the whole force crossed the Black Warrior River
There, in the fertile region watered by the main affluents of the Tombigbee River
, the columns simultaneously menaced Columbus, in Mississippi
, and Tuscaloosa
and Selma, in Alabama
At that time General Forrest
, in command of the Confederate cavalry, was on the Mobile and Ohio railway, west of Columbus, in Mississippi
, and so rapid was Wilson
's march through Alabama
, that the watchful and .expert enemy could not reach him until he was far down toward Selina.
put his men in instant motion, to meet the danger.
He sent Chalmers
by way of Bridgeville
Hearing of this, Wilson
put his forces in rapid motion, with ample supplies, for Montevallo
, beyond the Cahawba River
Arriving at Elyton
he directed McCook
to send Croxton
's brigade to Tuscaloosa
for the purpose of burning the public property and destroying founderies and factories there.
The adventures of that brigade, which did not rejoin the main body until the expedition had ended, we shall consider presently.
's division was impelled forward.
The small Confederate force found at Elyton
, was driven across the Cahawba
, as sharply pursued as felled trees, which the fugitives left behind them, would allow.
passed the Cahawba
with his whole division, pushed on to Montevallo
, and in that region destroyed the large Red Mountain
, Central, Bibb
, and Columbiana Iron-works, the Cahawba Rolling-mills
, and five important collieries.
These were all in operation, and were a serious loss to the Confederates
arrived at Montevallo
on the afternoon of the 31st of March.
was just ready to move forward.
Just then the Confederates
made their appearance on the Selma
road, driving in Upton
These consisted of the commands of Roddy
After a sharp fight with Alexander
's brigade, they were routed by a charge of the Fifth Iowa Cavalry, and driven in confusion toward Randolph
They attempted to make a stand at Six-mile Creek, south of Montevallo
, but were again routed with a loss of fifty men made prisoners.
bivouacked fourteen miles south of Montevallo
that night, and early the next morning
rode into Randolph
There he captured a courier, whose
dispatches informed him that Forrest
was now on his front in heavy force; that one of that leader's divisions, under General Jackson
, was moving easterly from Tuscaloosa
, with all the wagons and artillery of the Confederate cavalry; and that General Croxton
, on his way from Elyton
, had struck Jackson
's rearguard at Trion
, and interposed himself between it and Forrest
Informed, also, by the intercepted dispatch, that Jackson
was about to fight Croxton
, and from a subsequent dispatch from the latter to himself, that, instead of going on to Tuscaloosa
, he should endeavor to fight Jackson
and prevent his joining Forrest
to move rapidly, with La Grange
's brigade, to Centreville
, cross the Cahawba
there, and push on by way of Scottsville
to assist Croxton
in breaking up Jackson
, well posted, with intrenchments covering his column.
had not come up, and he could hear nothing of him. Feeling too weak to attack the Confederates
, he skirmished with them a little, burned a factory at Scottsville
, and then fell back.
He destroyed the bridge over the Cahawba
, at Centreville
, and rejoined
Wildon at Selma
pushed southward from Randolph
with the brigades of Long and Upton
, and at-Ebenezer Church, near Boyle's Creek
, six miles north of Plantersville
, he was confronted by Forrest
who had five thousand men behind a strong barricade and abatis
was straining every nerve to reach and defend Selma
, which was one of the most important places in the Confederacy
, on account of its immense founderies of cannon and projectiles.
advanced to the attack at once.
's division, on the right, struck the first blow.
Dismounting most of his men,he made a charge so heavy and irresistible, that it broke Forrest
Four mounted companies of the Seventeenth Indiana, under Lieutenant White
, being ordered forward, dashed over the guns of the foe, into their midst, and cut their way out with a loss of seventeen men. General Alexander
, then leading Upton
's division, on hearing the sounds of battle, pressed forward, came up in fine order, dismounted and deployed his own brigade, and dashed into the
fight with such vigor, that the Confederates
were routed, and fled in confusion toward Selma
, leaving behind them two guns and two hundred prisoners in the hands of Alexander
, and one gun as a trophy for Long.
's brigade followed them as far as Plantersville
, nineteen miles from Selma
, where the chase ceased, and the victors bivouacked.
had been driven on that day
was now the grand objective of pursued and pursuers.
Because of its importance, it had been strongly fortified on its land side.19
It lay upon a gently rolling plain, about one hundred feet above the Alabama River
, and was flanked by two streams; one (Beech Creek
) with high and precipitous banks, and the other (Valley Creek
) an almost impassable mire.
Toward this the troopers pressed on the morning of the 2d of April, Long
's division leading in the pursuit of Forrest
At four o'clock in the afternoon, Wilson
's whole force in pursuit, came in sight of Selma
, and prepared for an immediate assault.
was already there, and found himself in command of about seven thousand troops, a part of them Alabama
militia, gathered for the occasion, composed of raw conscripts, mostly old men and boys.
For the defense of Selma
, the Confederates
had, as Grant
said on another occasion, “robbed the cradle and the grave.”
So inadequate was the force that Forrest
was not disposed to attempt a defense, but General Taylor
, the commander of the department, who was there, ordered him to hold it at all hazards.
left in a train of cars going south-ward toward Cahawba
, and was no more seen.
resolved to do his best, and did so.
After a reconnoissance, Wilson
directed Long to attack the Confederate
works northwestward of the city, by a diagonal movement across the Summerville
road, on which he was posted, while Upton
, with three hundred picked men, should turn the right of the intrenchments eastward of the town.
Before preparations for this movement could be made, Long was startled by information that Chalmers
's Confederate cavalry, from Marion
, was seriously threatening his rear-guard, in charge of his train and horses.
He resolved to attack immediately.
Sending six companies to re-enforce the train-guard, he charged the works furiously with about fifteen hundred of his men, dismounted.20
In so doing he was compelled to cross an open space, six hundred yards, in the face of a murderous fire of artillery.
It was bravely done; and in the course of fifteen minutes after the word “Forward!”
was given, his troops had swept over the intrenchments, and driven their defenders in confusion toward the city.
The fugitives at that point composed Armstrong
's brigade, which was considered the best of Forrest
They were sharply pursued, and at the beginning of the chase, Long was severely wounded, and Colonel Minty
took temporary command.
came up to the scene of action at that time, and made disposition for Upton
to immediately participate in the work begun by the other division.
At an inner but unfinished line, on the edge of the city, the pursued garrison made a stand.
There, just at dark, they repulsed a.charge of the Fourth United States Cavalry.
This was quickly followed by the advance of Upton
's division, and another charge by the Fourth Regulars, while the Chicago
Board of Trade Battery was doing noble service in a duel with the cannon of the enemy, two of which it dismounted.
The Confederates were dispersed.
The elated victors swept on in an irresistible current, and Selma
soon became a conquered city.
, and Armstrong
, with about one-half
of their followers, fled eastward on the Burnsville
or river road, by the light of twenty-five thousand bales of blazing cotton, which they had set on fire.
They were pursued until after midnight, and in that chase the Confederates
lost four guns and many men made prisoners.21
was assigned to the command of the city, with orders to destroy every thing that might benefit the Confederate
soon presented the spectacle of a ghastly ruin.
Ten thousand bales of cotton, not consumed, were fired and burnt; and all the founderies, arsenals, machine-shops, ware-houses, and other property used by the Confederates
, were destroyed; and some of the soldiery, breaking through all restraints, ravaged the town for awhile.
now prepared to move eastward into, Georgia
, by way of Montgomery
He. directed Major Hubbard
to construct a pontoon bridge over the Alabama River
, at Selma
, which had been made brimful by recent rains, and then he
Ruins of Confederate Foundery.22 |
, the ancient capital of Alabama
a few miles down the stream, to meet General Forrest
, under a flag of truce, by appointment, for the purpose of making arrangements for an exchange of prisoners.
They met at the fine mansion of Mr. Mathews
near the landing in sight of a large cotton warehouse, on the high bank of the river, from which Wilson
, on his march toward Selma
, had liberated many Union captives, and which he had set on fire.25 Forrest
was indisposed to act fairly in the matter.
He evidently expected to recapture the prisoners Wilson
had taken at Selma
, and was arrogant in manner and speech.
The latter returned; but in consequence of the flood, which had three times swept away the pontoon bridge, 870 feet in length, which Hubbard
thrown across the river, Wilson
's army did not make the passage of the stream until the 10th. McCook
had rejoined him on the 5th, and now the whole army, excepting Croxton
's brigade, on detached service, moved upon Montgomery
, where General Wirt Adams
was in command.
did not wait for Wilson
's arrival; but, setting fire to ninety thousand bales of cotton in that city, he fled.
entered it, unopposed, on the morning of the 12th, when Major Weston
, marching rapidly northward toward Wetumpka
, on the Coosa
, captured and destroyed five heavily laden
steamboats, which had fled up that stream for safety Montgomery
was formally surrendered to Wilson
, by the city authorities with five guns, and a large quantity of small-arms, which were destroyed.
So it was that the original “Capital” of the Confederacy
of Rebels was “repossessed” by the Government
without hinderance and the flag of the Republic
was unfurled in triumph over the State House
, where, on the 4th of March, 1861, the first Confederate flag Was given to the breeze, when it was adopted as the ensign of the Confederacy
by the “Provisional Government,” at Montgomery
paused two days at Montgomery
, and then pushed on eastward toward the Chattahoochee River
, the boundary between Alabama
, in the latter State, ninety miles distant, being his chief objective.
, Colonel La Grange
was detached and sent to West Point
at the crossing of the Chattahoochee River
by the railway connecting Montgomery
while the main column passed on toward Columbus
That city was on the east side of the Chattahoochee
, and when Wilson
came in sight of it, in front of the Confederate
works, on the evening of the 16th, he found one of the bridges on fire.
's division, was at once arranged for an assault, and in the darkness of the evening a charge of three hundred of the Third Iowa Cavalry, supported by the Fourth Iowa and Tenth Missouri Cavalry, and covered by a heavy fire of grape, canister, and. musketry, was made.
They pushed through abatis
that covered the works, and pressed back the Confederates
Two companies of the Tenth Missouri then seized another and perfect bridge, leading into Columbus
, when Upton
made another charge, sweeping every thing before him, and captured the city, twelve hundred men, fifty-two field guns in position, and large quantities of small-arms and stores.
He lost only twenty-four men in achieving this conquest.28
destroyed the Confederate ram Jackson
which mounted six 7-inch guns, and burned one hundred and fifteen thousand bales of cotton, fifteen locomotives, and two hundred and fifty cars; also a large quantity of other property used by the enemy, such as an arsenal, manufactory of small-arms, four cotton factories, three paper-mills, military and naval founderies, a rolling-mill, machine-shops, one hundred thousand rounds of artillery ammunition, and a vast amount of stores.
The Confederates burned the Chattahoochee
, another of their iron-clad gun-boats, then lying twelve miles below Columbus
In the mean time, La Grange
had pushed on to West Point
where he found a strong bastioned earth-work, mounting four guns, on a commanding hill, named Fort Tyler
, in honor of its then commander, who built it, and had in it a garrison of two hundred and thirty-five men, including officers.
It was surrounded by a dry ditch, twelve feet wide and ten deep, and commanded the approaches to the bridge which crossed the Chattahoochee River
, and the little village of West Point
This work La Grange
assaulted on three sides, with his men dismounted, at a little past one
o'clock of the day of his arrival; but he was held in check, on the border of the ditch by a galling fire of grape and musketry from the garrison.
This was soon silenced by his sharp-shooters bringing their skill to bear upon the Confederate
gunners, which kept them from duty while his men cast bridges across the ditch.
Over these they rushed at the sound of the bugle, swarmed over the parapets, and captured the entire garrison, with the guns, and about five hundred small-arms.
and eighteen of his men were killed, and twenty-seven were wounded.
At the same time the Fourth Indiana Cavalry dashed through the village, drove the Confederates
from their works at the bridges, and took possession of those structures.
After destroying nineteen locomotives and three hundred and forty-five loaded cars at West Point
, La Grange
crossed the river, burned the bridges behind him, and moved on
due east toward Macon, in Georgia
On the same day, Minty
's (late Long
's) division moved from Columbus
for the same destination, and Upton
's marched the next day. Minty
, accompanied by Wilson
, arrived at Macon
on the 20th, when the Confederate forces there surrendered without resistance; and Wilson
was informed by Howell Cobb
, of the surrender of Lee
, and the virtual ending of the war. Hostile operations were then, suspended, in accordance with an arrangement between Sherman
, which we shall consider presently.
rejoined the main column soon after its arrival at Macon
, but Croxton
's brigade was still absent, and Wilson
felt some uneasiness concerning its safety.
All apprehensions were ended by its arrival on the 31st,
after many adventures.
We left Croxton
not far from Tuscaloosa, in Alabama
, on the 2d of April, outnumbered by Jackson
, of Forrest
From that point he moved rapidly to Johnson's Ferry
, on the Black Warrior
, fourteen miles above Tuscaloosa
, where he crossed that stream, and sweeping down its western bank, surprised and captured
the place he had been sent against from Elyton
, together with three guns and about fifty prisoners. Then he destroyed the military school and other public property there, and leaving Tuscaloosa
, burned the bridges over the Black Warrior
, and pushed on southwesterly, to Eutaw, in Greene County
There he was told that Wirt Adams
was after him, with two thousand cavalry.
He was not strong enough to fight them, so he turned back nearly to Tuscaloosa
, and pushing northeastward, captured Talladega
Near there he encountered and dispersed a small Confederate force.
He kept on his course to Carrollton, in Georgia
, destroying iron-works and factories in the region over which he raided, and then turned southeastward, and made his way to Macon
With his little force he had marched, skirmished, and destroyed, over a line six hundred and fifty miles in extent, in the space of thirty days, not once hearing of Wilson
and the main body during that time.
He found no powerful opposition in soldiery or citizens, anywhere, excepting at a place called Pleasant Ridge
, when on his way toward Eutaw
, where he had a sharp skirmish with some of Adams
's men, then on their way to join Forrest
The attack was made by Adams
, first upon the Sixth Kentucky Cavalry.
The Second Michigan gave assistance, and finally bore the brunt of the attack, and repulsed the assailants with considerable loss to the Confederates
's expedition through Alabama
and into Georgia
, was not only useful in keeping Forrest
from assisting the defenders of Mobile
, but was destructive to the Confederates
, and advantageous to the Nationals in its actual performances.
During that raid he captured five fortified cities, two hundred and eighty-eight pieces of artillery, twenty-three stand of colors, and six thousand eight hundred and twenty prisoners; and he destroyed a vast amount of property of every kind.
He lost seven hundred and twenty-five men, of whom ninety-nine were killed.
The writer visited the theater of events described in this chapter in the spring of 1866.
He arrived at Savannah
from Hilton Head31
the first week in April, and after visiting places of historic interest there, left that city on an evening train
and farther west.
Travel had not yet been resumed, to a great extent.
The roads were in a rough condition, the cars were wretched in accommodations, and the passengers were few. The latter were chiefly Northern business men. We arrived at Augusta
early in the morning, and after breakfast took seats in a very comfortable car for Atlanta
It was a warm, pleasant day, and the passengers were many.
Among them the writer had the pleasure of
discovering two highly-esteemed friends,32
traveling for the purpose of seeing the country; and he enjoyed their most agreeable companionship many days, until parting at New Orleans.
We had just reached the beginning of the more picturesque hill-country of Georgia
, which seemed to be peculiarly charming in the region of Crawfordsville
, the home of Stephens
, the “Vice-President
” of the Confederacy
, whose house we saw on an eminence to the right.
As we approached Atlanta
, we noticed many evidences of the devastating hand of Sherman
, when he began his march to the sea, in the ruins of railway stations, twisted iron rails, and charred ties, along the road-side.
Toward evening the grand dome of Stone Mountain
, a heap of granite fifteen hundred feet in height, loomed up a mile or so north of us. From Decatur
onward, the earth-works of both parties were seen in thickening lines, and at twilight we were in the midst of the ruined city of Atlanta
, then showing some hopeful signs of resurrection from its ashes.
We passed a rainy day in Atlanta
, the writer leaving the examination of the intrenchments and the battle-fields around it until a second visit,33
which he intended to make a few weeks later, and on the morning of the 8th,
in chilling, cheerless air, we departed on a journey by railway, to Montgomery
, on the Alabama River
We passed through the lines of heavy works in that direction, a great portion of the way to East Point
, and from there onward, nearly every mile of the road was marked by the ravages of camping armies, or active and destructive raiders.
The country between Fairborn
and La Grange
was a special sufferer by raids.
In the vicinity of Newham the gallant Colonel James Brownlow
was particularly active with his Tennessee
troopers, and swam the Chattahoochee
, near Moore's Bridge
, when hard pressed.
We crossed the Chattahoochee
at West Point
, where we dined, and had time to visit and sketch Fort Tyler
, the scene of Colonel La Grange
's achievements a year before.34
That gallant Michigan
officer was kindly spoken of by the inhabitants of West Point
, who remembered his courtesy toward all non-combatants.
Between West Point
we saw several fortifications, covering the passage of streams by the railway; and ruins of station-houses everywhere attested the work of raiders.
At Chiett's Station, near a great bend of the Tallapoosa River
, whose water flowed full thirty feet below us, we saw many solitary chimneys, monuments of Wilson
's destructive marches.
His sweep through that region was almost as desolating as were the marches of Sherman
, but in a narrower track.
But among all these scathings of the hand of man, the beneficent powers of Nature were at work, covering them from human view.
Already rank vines were creeping over heaps of brick and stone, or climbing blackened chimneys; and all around were the white blossoms of the dogwood, the crimson blooms of the buckeye, the modest, blushing honeysuckle, and the delicate pink of the the red-bud and peach blossom.
It was eight o'clock in the evening before we arrived at Montgomery
, and found lodgings at the Exchange Hotel
, from whose balcony, the reader may remember, Jefferson Davis
harangued the populace early in 1861, after
a speech at the railway station, in which he said, concerning himself and fellow-conspirators:--“We are determined to maintain our position, and make all who oppose us smell Southern powder and feel Southern steel
In the harangue from that balcony in the evening, with a negro slave standing each side of him, each holding a candle that the people might distinctly see his face, the arch-conspirator addressed them as “Brethren of the Confederate States of America
,” and assured them that all was well, and they had nothing to fear at home or abroad.36
On the following morning we visited the State
on the second bluff from the river,38
that fronted a fine broad avenue extending to the water's edge.39
There we were taken to the Senate Chamber
, or “Legislative Hall” in which the Conspirators organized the hideous Confederacy that so long warred against the Government
It remained unchanged in feature and furniture, excepting in the absence of the portraits mentioned on page 249, volume I., which our negro attendant, who had been seven years about the building, said the soldiers of Wilson
's command carried away.
“De. Yankees,” he said, “bust in and smash up ebery ting, when dey come, and tear ‘um out and carry away a mighty heap.
Dey terrible fellers!”
had been more terrible, for he destroyed ninety thousand bales of cotton belonging to his friends, and nothing was left where they lay, but the broken walls of the warehouses along the brow of the river bluff.
From the cupola of that Capitol, we had a very extensive view of the country around, the winding Alabama River
, and the city at our feet; and from the portico, where Jefferson Davis
was inaugurated “Provisional President
of the Confederate States of America
,” we could look over nearly the whole.
of the town.
must have been a very beautiful city, and desirable place of residence, before the war.
We spent a greater part of the day in visiting places of interest about Montgomery
, and toward evening, we embarked in the steamer John Briggs
, for Mobile
The passengers were few. Among them were three or four young women, who, at the beginning of the voyage, uttered many bitter-words, in a high key, about the “Yankees” (as all inhabitants of the freelabor States were called), intended for our special hearing.
Their ill-breeding was rebuked by kindness and courtesy, and we found them to be far from disagreeable fellow-travelers after an acquaintance of a few hours, which changed the estimate each had set upon the other.
The voyage Was, otherwise, a most delightful one, on that soft April evening, while the sun was shining.
is a very crooked stream, everywhere fringed with trees.
Bluffs were frequent, with corresponding lowlands and swamps, opposite.
It is a classic region to the student of American history, for its. banks and its bosom, from Montgomery
, are clustered with the most stirring associations of the Creek
War, in which General Jackson
and his Tennesseeans, and Claiborne
, and others, appear conspicuous, with Weatherford
as the central figure in the group of Creek chieftains.
We were moored at Selma
, on the right bank of the stream, at about
midnight, at the foot of the bluff on which the town stands, and whchi was then crowned with the ruins of the cotton warehouses and other buildings, fired by Forrest
We spent a greater part of the next day there.
It, too, must have been a beautiful city in its best estate before the war. It was growing rapidly, being the great coal and cotton depot of that region.
Its streets were broad, and many of them shaded; and, in all parts of the town, we noticed ever and full-flowing fountains of water, rising from artesian wells, one of which forms the tail-piece of this chapter.
It received its title from Senator King
, the Vice-President
elected with President Pierce
The name may be found in the poems of Ossian.
We left Selma
toward evening, and at sunset our vessel was moored a few minutes at Cahawba
, to land a passenger whose name has been mentioned, as the entertainer of Wilson
Our voyage to Mobile
did not end until the morning of the third day, when we had traveled, from Montgomery
, nearly four hundred miles. In that fine City of the Gulf
we spent sufficient time to make brief visits to places of most
historic interest, within and around it. Its suburbs were very beautiful before they were scarred by the implements of war; but the hand of nature was rapidly covering up the foot-prints of the destroyer.
Although it had been only a year since the lines of fortifications were occupied by troops, the embankments were covered with verdure and the fort or redoubt, delineated on page 507, was white with the blossoms of the blackberry shrub, when the writer sketched it.
It was at a little past noon , on a warm April day, when we left Mobile
for New Orleans, in the fine new steamer, Frances
We passed the various batteries indicated on the map on page 507, as we went out of the harbor into the open waters of the bay. A little below Choctaw Point
, and between it and Battery Gladden,43
lay a half-sunken iron-clad floating battery, with a cannon on its top. The voyage down the bay was very delightful.
We saw the
Floating Battery. |
battered light-house at Fort Morgan
in the far distance, to the left, as we turned into Grant's Pass
and took the inner passage.
The waters of the Gulf
were smooth; and at dawn the next morning, we were moored at the railway wharf on the western sidle of Lake Pontchartrain
We were at the St. Charles Hotel
, in New Orleans, in time for an early break-fast;
and in that city, during his stay, the writer experienced the kindest courtesy and valuable assistance in the prosecution of his researches, from Generals Sheridan
Having accomplished the object of his errand in that great metropolis of the Gulf
region, he reluctantly bade adieu to his traveling companions for ten days (Mr.Hart
and Mrs. Hart
), and embarked on the Mississippi River
for Port Hudson
, in the steamer Indiana
. That voyage has already been considered.47
Tail-piece — artesian well.|