Chapter 28: passage of the fleet by Vicksburg and capture of Grand Gulf.--capture of Alexandria, etc.
- Plans for running the batteries.
-- the fleet underway.
-- the batteries open fire.
-- the transport Henry Clay sunk.
-- a Grand scene.
-- the batteries run.
-- the fleet anchors below the city.
-- McClernand confronted with “Quaker guns.”
-- Grant pushes on to Grand Gulf.
-- the Price in front of the batteries.
-- insubordination of McClernand.
-- Grand Gulf described.
-- the gunboats commence the attack.
-- the fight fiercely contested.
-- the Benton's wheel disabled.
-- damages to the vessels.
-- the gun-boats tie up at hard times.
-- burying the dead.
-- the attack renewed.
-- the Confederates stand to their guns.
-- so-called “history.”
-- Grant's brightest chapter.
-- attack on Haines' Bluff.
-- Captain Walke captures sharpshooters.
-- Grand Gulf captured.
-- Porter confers with Farragut.
-- up the Red River.
-- Fort Derussy partially destroyed.
-- capture of Alexandria.
-- General Banks takes possession
-- up the Black River.
-- Harrisonburg shelled.
-- operations of the Mississippi squadron summarized.
The Army had already moved on the 15th of April, 1863, and that night was selected for the naval vessels to pass the batteries of Vicksburg
Orders had been given that the coal in the furnaces should be well ignited, so as to show no smoke, that low steam should be carried, that not a wheel was to turn except to keep the vessel's bow down river, and to drift past the enemy's works fifty yards apart.
Most of the vessels had a coal barge lashed to them on the side away from the enemy, and the wooden gun-boat General Price
, was lashed to the off side of the iron-clad Lafayette
When all was ready the signal was made to get under way and the squadron started in the following order: Benton
(flag-ship) Lieutenant-Commander James A. Greer
, Commander Henry Walke
; General Price
, Lieutenant-Commander Selim Woodworth
, Lieutenant-Commander E. K. Owen
; Mound City
, Lieutenant-Commander Byron Wilson
, Volunteer-Lieutenant Hoel
. Lieutenant-Commander J. McL
, and Tuscumbia
. Lieutenant-Commander J. W. Shirk
The tug Ivy
was lashed to the Benton
, three army transports were in the rear and the Tuscumbia
was at the end of the line to take care of them.
, passed the first battery without receiving a shot, but as she came up with the second.
the railroad station on the right bank of the river was set on fire, and tar barrels were lighted all along the Vicksburg
shore, illuminating the river and showing every object as plainly as if it was daylight.
Then the enemy opened his batteries all along the line, and the sharpshooters in rifle-pits along the levee commenced operations at the same instant.
The fire was returned with spirit by the vessels as they drifted on. and the sound of falling buildings as the shells burst within them attested the efficiency of the gun-boats' fire.
The vessels had drifted perhaps a mile when a shell exploded in the cotton barricades of the transport Henry Clay
, and almost immediately the vessel was in a blaze; another shell soon after bursting in her hull, the transport went to pieces and
The Forest Queen
, another transport, was also disabled by the enemy.
but she was taken in tow by the Tuscumbia
and conveyed safely through.
The scene while the fleet was passing the batteries was grand in the extreme, but the danger to the vessels was more apparent than real.
Their weak points on the sides were mostly protected by heavy logs which prevented many shot and shells going through the iron.
Some rents were made but the vessels stood the ordeal bravely and received no damage calculated to impair their efficiency.
The management of the vessels on this occasion was virtually in the hands of the pilots, who handled them beautifully and kept them in line at the distance apart ordered.
The enemy's shot was not well aimed; owing to the rapid fire of shells, shrapnel, grape and canister from the gun-boats, the sharpshooters were glad to lay low, and the men at the great guns gave up in disgust when they saw the fleet drift on apparently unscathed.
They must have known that Vicksburg
was doomed, for if the fleet got safely below the batteries their supplies of provisions from Texas
would be cut off and they would have to depend on what they could receive from Richmond
had been sent up to the Steele's Bayou
region to destroy all the provisions in that quarter, and Pemberton
knew that if Grant
's Army once got below Vicksburg
it would eat up everything in the way of food between Warrenton
Although the squadron was under fire from the time of passing the first battery until the last vessel got by, a period of two hours and thirty minutes, the vessels were struck in their hulls but sixty-eight times by shot and shells, and only fifteen men were wounded.
At 2.30 A. M., all the vessels were safely anchored at Carthage
, ten miles below Vicksburg
, where was encamped the advanced division of the Army under General McClernand
The plantation at this place was owned by an ultra Confederate who exulted over the expected loss of all the gun-boats when he heard that they were to attempt the passage of the batteries, but when at two o'clock he saw them one after another heave in sight their night numbers up and signaling to the flag-ship, “all's well,” he went off in despair,
got drunk, set fire to his house and all the negro cabins, and departed to parts unknown.
The negroes had already joined the Union Army
, having no attachment to their brutal master, who had become so debased that he scarcely bore resemblance to a man.
When the day broke after the arrival of the squadron at Carthage
, some four hundred men, the advance guard of McClernand
's division, were found behind intrenchments hastily thrown up with a log on a pair of cart-wheels, to represent a field piece, while less than a thousand yards infront of them was a formidable looking set of earth-works with four large guns in position; and Generals McClernand
were momentarily expecting an attack.
Lieut.-Commander (now Captain) James A. Greer, commanding Flag-ship Benton.|
The enemy's works appeared to be full of men, and as the Union
troops had been under arms all night, the arrival of the gun-boats was a great relief to them.
was sent down to shell the enemy out, but the latter scampered off as soon as they saw the gun-boat coming.
The Confederates had been playing a “bluff game” with McClernand
, and held him in check until part of their force could get away with some light field-pieces.
The frowning guns on the parapet proved on examination to be nothing but logs — such are the devices in war!
The advance of General Grant
's Army moved but slowly on its way to Carthage
The roads were in wretched condition, and the artillery and wagons were continually stalled.
The soldiers had therefore to “corduroy” the roads so that those coming after could get along faster, but it was terrible marching at the best.
From the little damage that had been inflicted on the gun-boats, General Grant
felt satisfied he could send transports by the batteries of Vicksburg
, and shortly afterwards six of these, on a dark night, passed down in charge of their pilots — a daring set of men who never shrunk from any dangerous service,--only one steamer was sunk by the enemy's shot.
A sufficient number of gun boats had been left at the mouth of the Yazoo River
to take care of the upper Mississippi
, and to look out for two formidable rams that were building at Yazoo City
, forty miles from the mouth of the river.
remained with his division at Young's Point
, ready to make another attack from the Yazoo
if opportunity offered, and also to protect the supplies at Milliken's Bend
from General Sterling Price
, who with a large Confederate force was encamped some thirty miles away on the west bank of the Mississippi
The Mississippi Marine Brigade, consisting of two thousand men, under Brigadier-General Alfred Ellet
, in six or seven large steamers, was left there.
These flying troops were attached to the Navy.
Every precaution had been taken to prevent a surprise from the Confederates
, or any attempt on their part to fortify the river banks again in the absence of the Army.
had been ordered by Grant
to push forward with his division, and with the help of the Navy, to seize upon Grand Gulf
Had it not been for the great overflow at that time, the Union Army
might have landed on the east side of the river, but Vicksburg
was now almost surrounded by water, which obliterated all roads except those on the high lands,which could only be reached by going further down the Mississippi
Hence it was that after a careful examination of the left bank of the river, Grant
decided to push on to Grand Gulf
, a long and tedious march.
had been given the advance to satisfy his ambition, but he was not equal to the occasion, and this desire of General Grant
to show McClernand
that he was anxious to give him an opportunity for distinction, might have hazarded the success of the campaign.
pushed on at once with the Navy to back him Grand Gulf
and its batteries would have easily fallen into Federal hands; Big Black River
, which led up to the rear of Jackson
, would have been kept open by the gun-boats; and the main Army instead of having to land at Bruensburg, eight or ten miles below Grand Gulf
, could have disembarked
at the latter point and marched to the rear of Vicksburg
by favorable roads.
Instead of carrying out his instructions, McClernand
advanced only to Perkins' Landing
, where he pitched his tents (although he had been directed to leave these behind on account of the difficulties of transportation), and called upon General McPherson
for rations, of which he had failed to provide himself a sufficient supply.
seemed to have such a fascination for McClernand
that he remained there until Grant
ordered him to move on.
proceeded in the wooden gun-boat General Price
to reconnoitre Grand Gulf
,and ascertained that large numbers of troops were engaged in constructing extensive fortifications.
Some guns were already mounted and others lying on the ground.
had but two guns and with these Lieutenant-Commander Woodworth
was ordered to proceed within twelve hundred yards of the upper battery, and open fire.
The shells exploded in the battery, and the workers sought the shelter of the hills.
kept up a fire for over an hour, the Confederates
firing only two shots from a Whitworth field-piece; for, as was afterwards ascertained, they had at that time received no ammunition for the great guns.
having satisfied himself that the works could be easily carried by assault under cover of the fire of the gun-boats, hastened back to Perkins' Landing
, and stated the case to General McClernand
, urging the co-operation of two thousand soldiers to enable him to occupy Grand Gulf
, but no heed was given to the application; for McClernand
, wrapped in his dignity, scorned all advice.
Failing in that direction, the Admiral
wrote to General Sherman
, detailing the state of affairs and begged him to induce General Grant
to come to the front and take charge in person, before the favorable opportunity should pass away.
was then at Milliken's Bend
, forty miles distant. It took Sherman
twenty hours to get the dispatch to him, and twenty-four hours more for Grant
to reach Perkins' Landing
, where he assumed command of the advance in spite of McClernand
's objections, which were manifested in such an insubordinate way that most commanding generals would have at once relieved him from duty.
Three or four days had passed since the reconnoissance of Grand Gulf
by the Admiral
and time was lost which could never be regained.
The Confederates concluded from the reconnoissance that measures were on foot to attack Grand Gulf
, and they worked incessantly to strengthen the defences.
Men and munitions of war were poured in from Vicksburg
, and the enemy were prepared to make a strong resistance to the gun-boats or to any assault from the land forces.
was by nature as strong as Vicksburg
, the Confederates
in their pride called it “the Little Gibraltar.”
The principal work called Bald Head
, was on a bold bluff promontory at a bend in the river commanding a view for miles up and down the Mississippi
The current of the river, which ran here five miles an hour with innumerable eddies, had cut away the shore until beneath the fort was a perpendicular wall more than eighty feet in height, while in the rear hills rising three hundred and fifty feet above the river were dotted with field works to protect the flanks of Bald Head
, which fort mounted four heavy guns, Brooke
rifles and 8-inch Columbiads.
In front of this the river formed a large circular bay or gulf from which the place took its name.
emptied into the gulf and the approach to it was commanded by two 8-inch Columbiads.
The lower forts were half a mile below Bald Head
, and were connected with the latter by intrenchments by which troops could pass under cover from one fort to another.
The lower batteries mounted nine heavy guns situated on the brow of a hill eight hundred yards from the river and one hundred and fifty feet above it. The guns were mostly long 32-pounders and 8-inch. There were some smaller batteries in which were rifled field pieces.
All these batteries were more formidable from the fact that they were in very elevated positions, giving them a plunging fire, while it was difficult to elevate the guns afloat so that their shot would reach the enemy.
had got his Army in motion part of McClernand
's division was embarked on transports, the rest of the troops being obliged to march to Hard Times, twenty-two miles from Perkins' Landing
Five barges and a steamer were sunk by the batteries at Vicksburg
when the last six transports ran the blockade, which made transportation by water for all of the troops out of the question.
When the troops arrived at the point abreast of Bald Head
, and the soldiers on the transports were ready to land as soon as the batteries should be silenced, Admiral Porter
got under way with the squadron and commenced the attack at 8 A. M., on the 29th of April, 1863.
The Pittsburg Louisville
, Mound City
, and Carondelet
attacked the lower batteries, while the Benton
, and Lafayette
attacked Bald Head battery, the two former as close as they could get, and the Lafayette
in an eddy four hundred yards above the fort where she could enfilade it.
As the vessels approached the works the enemy opened fire and in ten minutes the battle was raging all along the line.
The fight was severely contested, and it was not until three hours after the first gun was fired, that the enemy deserted his guns at the lower batteries, and then only after the Lafayette
had been ordered from her first position to reinforce the gun-boats below.
In the meantime the flag-ship Benton
, and the Tuscumbia
were doing their best to silence the upper battery, getting close under
the guns and endeavoring to knock
Batteries at “Grand Gulf” captured by the U. S. Mississippi Squadron, May 3, 1863.|
off their muzzles, when they were run out to fire.
The current was so strong, however, that it was impossible to keep the two vessels in position and they sheered about very much.
In one of these sheers, a shot entered the Benton
's pilot house, disabled the wheel and cut Pilot Williams
' foot nearly off. Though the brave pilot never left his post it was impossible to manage the vessel and she was accordingly run into the bank to repair damages.
The gun-boats at the lower batteries had been signalled to double up on Bald Head
, the Lafayette
to resume her old position, and the Pittsburg
, Volunteer-Lieutenant Hoel
, arrived opportunely to take the Benton
During the time the latter vessel was out of action--twenty-five minutes--the Pittsburg
lost six killed and had twelve wounded.
After all the vessels concentrated their fire on Bald Head
, there was less resistance, although the Confederates
still stood to their guns.
When the battle had lasted more than five hours, General Grant
, who from a tug up the river, was looking on, made signal to the Admiral
that he wished to communicate, and the Benton
joined him two miles above the forts.
The Confederates had now ceased firing, but the gun-boats maintained their position around Bald Head
, occasionally firing a shell to keep the enemy out of the works.
When General Grant
went on board the flag-ship, he decided that it would be too hazardous to attempt to land troops, as it did not appear that the guns in the enemy's works were dismounted and the gunners would therefore jump to their batteries again, open on the unprotected transports and destroy many of the troops.
For the same reason the general concluded not to send the transports past the batteries with the soldiers on board but to march the latter around by land.
In this he was quite right, as afterwards appeared.
As there was no longer any object in keeping the gun-boats under the batteries, all but the Lafayette
were recalled, and the latter was left in her old position to keep the enemy from reoccupying the works and repairing damages.
This duty Commander
effectually performed, firing a shell every five minutes into the works until darkness set in.
The engagement was fought under great disadvantages; the current around the pro montory of Bald Head
ran with great rapidity, and it was as much as the gun-boats could do to stem it. Clumsy vessels at best, the iron-clads would frequently be turned completely round, presenting their weak points to the enemy, of which the expert Confederate gunners were not slow to take advantage, and seldom missed their mark so close were the Federals
to the forts.
The light armor plates of most of the vessels offered but an imperfect resistance to the heavy missiles of the enemy, and, in consequence, the list of killed and wounded in the squadron was large.
, on which vessel great reliance was placed to resist heavy shot, proved herself the weakest iron-clad in the squadron, although Lieutenant-Commander Shirk
stood up to his work manfully.
In the beginning of the engagement, a rifle shell struck the outer edge of the shutter of the midship port — she fought three 11-inch guns in the bow — opened the port and entered the casemate, killing six men and wounding several others.
Another shell jammed the shutters of the same port so tightly.
that the gun could not be used for the remainder of the action.
A shell from the lower battery entered the stern port, disabling every man at the 9-inch gun, and yet this vessel was supposed to be shot proof!
Some of the armor on the forward casemate fell overboard from repeated blows, and all of it was started from its seat.
was struck eighty-one times by shot and shells, and was completely riddled; one engine was disabled, six men killed and twenty-four wounded, some of them mortally.
The flag-ship Benton
, although the strongest of the gun-boats, was badly cut up. A shell passed through her armor on the starboard quarter and exploded in a stateroom, setting fire to the vessel.
was struck forty-seven times in the casemates, and seventy times in all by heavy shot, the three-quarter inch iron was perforated twelve times, the two and-a-half inch, four times.
A hundred pound shot passed through the pilot-house, smashing the wheel and severely wounding the pilot, nine men were killed and nineteen wounded.
, Commander Walke
, proved herself an excellent fighting vessel.
She was struck by cannon shot forty-five times, but only five shots did any serious damage.
She had only one officer wounded.
, Volunteer-Lieutenant-Commander Hoel
, was struck in the hull thirty-five times, and had six killed and thirteen wounded.
The other vessels, although considerably cut up, were not materially damaged, and all reported “ready for service” half an hour after the action, when the gun-boats tied up to the bank at Hard Times.
Then came the melancholy duty of burying the dead, who were followed mournfully to their graves by their messmates and friends.
Three hours afterwards the squadron got underway and again attacked the batteries, while the transports all passed in safety below Hard Times.
Some of the Confederate
gunners fired at the gun-boats but did no damage.
During the whole engagement the Confederates
stood to their guns manfully, and certainly pointed them to some purpose.
, the commanding officer
at Bald Head
, was killed; his chief-of-staff also, and eleven men were reported killed by the Confederates
, although more graves than that were counted.
The enemy had many wounded, but the number was not mentioned in the returns.
, in his report, speaks in the highest terms of Commander Walke
, Lieutenant-Commander Murphy
, Lieutenant-Commanders Shirk
, Lieutenants-Commanding Hoel
, some of whom had already distinguished themselves on the upper Mississippi
The remarks on this battle of Grand Gulf
by military historians show how reluctant they are to give the Navy credit.
The following quotation from a well known writer, is an instance in point.
Speaking of Grand Gulf
The vessels were handled with skill and boldness, but the rebel batteries were too elevated for Porter to accomplish anything.
He was not able to dismount a solitary piece and it would have been madness to attempt a landing under unsilenced guns like these.
No serious injury was sustained by any of the fleet. [!] The Admiral withdrew after the utter futility of his effort had been amply demonstrated.
The enemy also suspended fire.
Such are the statements that have for years passed for “history,” one “historian” repeating another only changing a little the language of his predecessor to make it pass for his own. The above quotation reads like an excuse for the Army not landing, although no excuse was needed.
It was General Grant
's opinion that it would be wiser to land the Army lower down, in which opinion the naval commanding officer concurred.
had too few men with him to run the risk of losing any of them, and there was no particular advantage to be gained by landing immediately at Grand Gulf
, as was afterwards proven.
The military historian whom we have
quoted has not stated the case truthfully, but his statements are in keeping with those of many other writers who seem to fear that by giving credit to the Navy, they may detract from that which is due the other arm of the service.
An intelligent reader will readily understand that a campaign such as is here described must have been a failure without the assistance of the Navy.
In default of credit from the “military historians,” the officers and men of the Navy must rely on the reports of their own chiefs to do them justice.
The night following the attack on Grand Gulf
information was obtained from a negro, that there was a good landing at Bruensburg, six miles below Grand Gulf
, and that from Bruensburg an excellent road led to Port Gibson
. twelve miles in the interior.
In consequence of this information the gun-boats and transports were next morning crowded with troops, and steamed down the river.
About noon, Grant
disembarked thirty-two thousand men with four days rations, and without transportation determined to live upon the enemy, as he was satisfied the supply of provisions in the district was ample to meet all his requirements.
started on that remarkable march against an enemy who outnumbered numbered his forces two to one; he outgeneraled the Confederates
, fought battle after battle and finally reached the rear of Vicksburg
, shutting General Pemberton
inside the fortifications and causing General Joseph E. Johnston
to evacuate Jackson
's conduct of this campaign forms the brightest chapter in his military record and can only be appreciated by those who know the difficulties with which he had to contend, and particularly the nature of the country through which he had to march his Army.
had made arrangements for Sherman
's division to make a feint up Yazoo River
the same day the gun-boats attacked Grand Gulf
Accordingly, on that day Sherman
moved up the Yazoo
in transports preceeded by “the gun-boats,” as the military historian puts it. Most of these gun-boats were what were called “workshops,” i. e
., the machine vessel, carpenter shop, store vessel, powder vessel and hospital vessel.
These were simply river steamers painted black.
The naval forces were led by Lieutenant-Commander K. R. Breese
in the Black Hawk
and comprised the Baron DeKalb
, Lieutenant-Commander John G. Walker
, Lieutenant-Commander F. M. Ramsay
. Lieutenant-Commander Prichett
with three 13-inch mortars.
The naval demonstration was really a fine one, calculated to impress the Confederates
, who had seen so many nondescripts pass Vicksburg
that they hardly knew a gun-boat from a transport.
was making his preparations to meet Grant
's Army on Big Black River
, he received a dispatch informing him that Haines
' Bluff was the real point of attack and that a large Army supported by numerous gun-boats was moving against that place.
It was desirable that the Confederates
should be encouraged in the belief that Haines
' Bluff was the real point of attack, and the DeKalb
, approaching as near as they could get, opened a heavy fire on the works while Sherman
disembarked his troops.
There was but one narrow road which led along the levee, and this was wide enough for but four men to march abreast.
advanced along this road towards Haines' Bluff the three gun-boats maintained their incessant fire and confirmed the Confederates
in their belief that this was really the point of attack, although the condition of the country ought to have assured them that no Army would be likely to attack a place so strongly fortified, under the circumstances.
The fire of the gun-boats was kept up as long as possible, and videttes and skirmishers were thrown out by the Army on the road leading to the Bluff
; upon this road the enemy opened with heavy guns and apparently could have swept away any force approaching from that direction.
At dark, General Sherman
re-embarked his men, having accomplished the object of his movement, which was simply to deceive the Confederates
Notwithstanding the movement was but a feint, the three gun-boats, Choctaw
, and Taylor
, together with the Black Hawk
, kept up a hot fire for three hours as well as they could — wedged in a stream which was here not over forty yards wide; as, since the demonstration was considered of such importance by General Sherman
, it was necessary to do everything that would make the attack appear a real one.
The morning after these transactions actions, it was discovered that new works had been thrown up by the Confederates
during the night, that the old ones had been extended, and several additional heavy guns had been placed in position.
This feint against Haines' Bluff continued for several days, and Pemberton
was obliged, in answer to solicitations, to send re-inforcements, thus weakening his Army below.
Ox teams were observed hauling heavy guns to mount at Haines' Bluff, to check the advance of the Federal
showing that the enemy was exerting all his energy to strengthen the threatened position.
During this movement, the DeKalb
, while temporarily dropping out of action was attacked by sharpshooters from some buildings on the eastern bank.
immediately ran the vessel into the bank and landed twenty-five men under command of Acting-Master C. S. Kendrick
, who dislodged the enemy and chased them into the swamp, killing one officer and three privates, and taking a lieutenant of the Third Louisiana Infantry prisoner.
This officer was captured in a hand-to-hand fight by Mr. Kendrick
, who knocked him down with a pistol.
In two days firing, the DeKalb
expended two hundred rounds of shot and shells, did not suffer materially in her hull, and had only one casualty.
, Lieutenant-Commander Ramsay
, had an opportunity of showing her fighting qualities.
She was a sister ship to the Lafayette
, and had lately joined the squadron.
She was struck forty-seven times in her hull, and had thirteen shots through her smoke-stack.
The turret was struck six times.
A ten-inch shot penetrated the crown, and a six inch rifle shot buried itself in the iron plating.
Two shots struck below the water line on the starboard side forward of the turret.
With the exception that the good order of the vessel was rather marred, no great injury was done, and, fortunately, no one was killed.
, being a wooden vessel, could only take an occasional part in the bombardment.
She was struck below the water line with a rifle shot, and made to leak so badly that she had to withdraw from action to repair damages.
At one time the fire of the gun-boats was so effective that the enemy's fire almost ceased, and but for a raft which blocked the further advance of the vessels, the latter would have endeavored to get close enough to use grape and canister, which might have made quite a difference in the state of affairs.
As it was, everything turned out to General Sherman
's satisfaction, and returning to Young's Point
, he started with his division to join General Grant
, crossing the river at Grand Gulf
and overtaking the main body of the Army in time to be present during the important events which laid Vicksburg
at the mercy of the Federal Army
After General Grant
and his troops landed at Bruensburg, Admiral Porter
returned the same night to Grand Gulf
with the intention of trying to get possession of the enemy's works.
As seven o'clock, on the following morning, the Lafayette
was sent up to draw the fire of the forts.
As she approached, the magazine in the lower battery blew up, throwing a vast cloud of dust into the air. Several other magazines in the smaller forts followed, and the Confederate
troops evacuated all the works.
The fort at Bald Head
, on Point of Rocks
, was left intact, and a tiny Confederate flag was left sticking in a flower-pot to show that the enemy did not surrender.
There is no other instance during the war of a fort holding out so determinedly as this one at Bald Head
The destruction wrought inside the work was marvellous--one would suppose that no living thing could have continued there under such a fire.
The military historian whom we have quoted was wrong, for every gun in the fort was rendered useless by the shot and shells from the gun-boats; only one gun could be fired and that could not be trained, owing to the destruction of its carriage.
Some of the guns in the lower batteries were still intact, and these opened on the fleet.
In the evening, the guns were all dismounted by the sailors and laid along the levee, where they could be shipped to Cairo
The following is a copy of a report made by T. M. Farrell
, U. S. N., May, 1863:
These batteries mounted one 100-pounder, two 64-pounders, two 7-inch rifles, one 30-pounder Parrott, two 30-pounder Parrotts in battery, two 20-pounder Parrotts in main magazine, three 10-pounder Parrotts on the hills.
Batteries engaged by the gun-boats for five hours and thirty-five minutes, the lower battery silenced in three hours, the upper battery silenced with the exception of one gun. The Lafayette laid opposite this battery and kept the people from working until dark, when it was partially repaired.
The defences were all earthworks.
In addition to the above, four or five small field-pieces were used by the rebels and shifted about from place to place.
was still at the mouth of Red River
in the flag-ship Hartford
, where he had remained ever since he had made the passage by Port Hudson
, and Admiral Porter
having left Lieutenant-Commander Owen
in charge at Grand Gulf
with the Louisville
, proceeded down the river to meet Farragut
and relieve him of the command of that part of the river.
On the 3d of May, 1863, Admiral Porter
reached the mouth of Red River
and after conferring with Admiral Farragut
, proceeded up that stream with the Benton
, General Price
, tug Ivy
and ram Switzerland
Meeting two of Admiral Farragut
's vessels, the Arizona
and the Estella
, they were turned back and accompanied Admiral Porter
's squadron which arrived next morning at Fort DeRussy.
This work was a casemated battery built in the most substantial manner and plated after the style of the rams with railroad
On the rumored approach of the gun-boats the Confederates
hastily dismounted and carried off all the guns except one 64-pounder.
There were at Fort DeRussy, three casemates intended for two guns each, and a flanking battery at right angles to the casemates calculated to mount seven guns more.
There was also a large square earthwork eight hundred yards inland not yet ready for guns.
These works would have been very formidable had they been finished, and it was as well they were not completed and manned.
They were a monument of the energy and determination of the enemy, which seemed to be without limit.
After partially destroying the works at Fort DeRussy, the squadron proceeded up to Alexandria
which place submitted without a dissenting voice, many of the inhabitants professing themselves Unionists
The day after the arrival of the gun-boats Major-General Banks
marched into Alexandria
and the town was turned over to him by the Navy.
The following day the squadron returned down the Red River
with the exception of the Lafayette
, and the ram Switzerland
which were left to co-operate with General Banks
in case he should require the assistance of the Navy.
While in Red River
, Lieutenant-Commander Woodworth
was sent up Black River
, a branch of the former stream, to make a reconnaissance with the General Price
, and Arizona
These vessels ascended as far as Harrisonburg
which was found to be strongly fortified.
The works were shelled for some time with little apparent effect and after destroying a large amount of Confederate Army stores, amounting to three hundred thousand dollars in value, the gun-boats returned to Red River
, and the Benton
and consorts proceeded to Grand Gulf
to co-operate with General Grant
in any of his plans where the Navy could be useful.
Thus within ten days the flag-ship and her consorts, after dismantling the fortifications at Grand Gulf
, had ascended Red River
, had destroyed the works at Fort DeRussy, broken up an immense raft intended to obstruct Red River
, captured Alexandria
, destroyed a large amount of the enemy's stores on Black River
, and returned to Grand Gulf
, where it was found that General Grant
had moved his Army towards Vicksburg
The whole squadron then ascended the river to a point two miles below Vicksburg
and the admiral again hoisted his flag on board the Black Hawk
, at Young's Point
, ready to communicate with General Grant
the moment his Army should arrive in the rear of the besieged city.
In less than a month, the Mississippi squadron had passed through a sharp and exciting campaign, had failed in nothing it had undertaken, and had given the Army the assistance necessary to enable it to reach a position which ensured the fall of Vicksburg