Doc. 6.-the Texan expedition.
A national account.
flag-ship McLellan, off Brazos de Santiago, Texas, Nov. 2, 1863.Again an army of American soldiers is on Texas soil, and once more in the neighborhood of the almost sacred battle-fields of Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma. The following account of the expedition from the time it left South-West Pass to the successful landing of troops on the Texan coast, at Brazos de Santiago, nine miles from the mouth of the Rio Grande del Norte, will be read with interest by all. An expedition was fitted out at New-Orleans under the command of Major-General Dana. General Banks and staff also accompanied it. Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, all went well, the vessels keeping in line at their proper distances; weather fine, sea a little rough. On Friday morning, October thirtieth, at half-past 4 o'clock, there was a sudden and great change. The weather, up to this time, (night and day,) had been uncomfortably hot, but at the hour mentioned a “heavy norther” struck us; the fleet could no longer be kept together, many vessels being compelled to separate and run before the wind, which soon blew a gale. The weather all day was bitter cold. For nearly twelve hours the storm raged, and long after the wind had ceased to blow, the waves ran “mountains high.” We had, perhaps, the best fleet of sea-going vessels, of any expedition which has left port during this war, and fears were entertained for the safety of only three or four light-draught steamers, which we were under the necessity of taking along — the Zephyr, Bagley, Union, etc. There was also great danger of the sinking of the schooners in tow, and it was not until this morning that we learned the full extent of the loss which the fleet had sustained. The Union and two schooners went down. The Zephyr had her machinery broken, and was taken in tow by the gunboat Owasco. The Bagley was compelled to run before the wind, and up to this morning it was feared that she had sunk, with all on board; but at an early hour we spoke the United States brig Bahia, off Aranzas Pass. She reported having spoke the Bagley last evening, and her captain requested the blockader to report to the flag-ship: “All's well; we shall remain at the rendezvous for instruction.” This was glorious news, for, though three vessels have sunk, not a life has been lost nor a man injured. I may here state that it was arranged that, if a storm occurred, or if any of the steamers should by any means become separated from the fleet, they should assemble at a place appointed on the Texas coast, and there wait for orders. The steamer Union, Captain Mayhood, sunk between seven and eight o'clock on Saturday morning. In addition to the crew, there were forty-six negroes of the Corps d'afrique and one lieutenant on board. In towing the steamship Empire City, she proved so heavy that she strained the upper works of the Union to such an extent as to cause her to leak badly. About eleven o'clock on Friday night, Captain Baxter was hailed by Captain Mayhood, who reported that the Union was sinking. The former immediately ordered a boat to be lowered and manned, Mr. Ward, the second mate of the Empire City, taking charge of her. This, with the life-boat from the Union, rescued the crew and negroes, and all were saved before the steamer sank, though many of the latter were so overcome by fear that they were unable to spring into the boats as they approached the side of the vessel, and to save them from going down with her it was found necessary to throw them overboard, and trust to those in the boats to pick them up. Five trips were made to the sinking steamer, by Mr. Ward and the boats' crews of the Empire City. Captain Baxter and his gallant fellows deserve great praise for their coolness, bravery, and perseverance in this trying hour. The Union was a light-draught steamer, of about one hundred and fifty tons burden, between eight and nine years old, and was worth probably about seven thousand dollars. Nothing of further interest occurred up to four o'clock P. M. At that hour we again spoke the Empire City, she having been absent from the fleet several hours. She answered to our inquiry if all were well on board: “All well, sir.” The captain then informed us that a few hours previous, he had picked up, forty miles off Pass Cavallo, a small boat with two deserters from the enemy, they having been at sea forty hours. The poor fellows were ordered to be sent on board the McClellan in a boat, but they were so weak and stiff from exposure, hunger, and the want of sleep as to be perfectly helpless, each requiring the assistance of two men. They stated that they belonged to company B, Eighth Texas infantry, but on the twenty-sixth of August, they, with eight others, were detailed to serve on board the John F. Carr, (rebel gunboat.) On Thursday night last, about nine o'clock, they saw a small boat lying between the gunboat and Fort Esperanze, and thinking this a good opportunity to desert, they entered it, rowed out to sea, and started for the mouth of Brazos River, where they learned were some of our blockaders; but a norther coming up, they were unable to manage the boat, and let her drift before the wind. All day Friday, through that terrible storm, all night, and up to ten o'clock on Saturday morning, they were driven in every direction in their frail boat, which could only be kept afloat by constant baling. They were thus exposed for about forty hours, and, as I before observed, without rest or a mouthful to eat. They were received by all on board the Empire City and McClellan with a hearty welcome, and several of the staff-officers offered the poor, ragged, and barefooted deserters their beds, and furnished them with food and drink, both of which they were sadly in need of. When these men were able to converse, it was