previous next

Doc. 135.-the fight at Greenwood, Miss.


Chicago Tribune account.

Helen, Ark., March 19.
while steaming down the Coldwater, we passed large quantities of cotton and many fragments of a steamboat. About two hundred miles from here, and about ten miles above the mouth of the Tallahatchie, we found our boys, General Ross's division, attended by gunboats and transports, at a place called Greenwood Bay. We found we had now reached debatable ground. We here learned the cause of there being so much cotton afloat.

A large cotton-boat had been sent up the river by the rebels, and had gathered a large load of the Southern sovereign, but while she was stopping to “wood up,” one of our gunboats hove in sight, and as the cotton-boat could not escape she was set on fire, and her rich cargo, estimated to be upward of three thousand bales, was abandoned to the flames.

About three miles below our troops, the rebels had built a fort, and placed a raft in the river. The fort is in a very strong position, in the neck of a bend made by the Tallahatchie and Yazoo rivers. The fort is unapproachable by the troops, on account of the overflow of the rivers, and the contest thus far has been a duel of cannon.

On the eleventh, the Chillicothe was ordered to engage the rebels, and her appearance was the signal for a brisk fire from them, but without eliciting any reply from the gunboat, which steamed steadily to her position, within eight hundred yards, when, throwing open the bow-ports of her turrets, she launched forth two tremendous shots, which for a moment staggered the butternuts. One of the eleven-inch shells passed completely over the neck, and struck a rebel transport lying in the Yazoo below the fort. This seemed to be a signal for the whole rebel fleet to depart, for immediately they were under way.

The firing now became continuous on both sides, several of our shells lodging in the enemy's works and exploding. The Chillicothe was struck in an aperture in the port-door, through which the gunners worked their rammers, by a conical percussion-shot. The shell not only exploded, but caused the explosion of a shell our men had just placed in the muzzle of the gun. This compound explosion carried overboard one of the iron port-doors, weighing over one thousand six hundred pounds, and killed four and wounded eleven of the crew, and a few minutes afterward orders were received for the gunboat to withdraw from the fire. Notwithstanding the working force of the gun-crew was much reduced, the men composing it were promptly at work.

The following night was a busy one. A thirty-pounder Parrott gun was taken from a gunboat and placed in a battery on land in front of our line, and to the west of Clayton's Slough, and a temporary fortification was built of cotton and earth, and pierced for one gun. The work was done in quietness and silence, and before daylight the battery was in readiness for work. It was scarcely a quarter of a mile from the rebel fort, and bore directly on their most valuable gun. But other matters were behind, so the day wore away without action. But on the thirteenth there was a day of hard fighting with artillery. Though the previous day had been one of inaction, the night was a busy time. The land battery, under the superintendence of Lieut.-Col. Wilson, was enlarged and strengthened, and a second Parrott gun was taken from the gunboat Forest Rose land placed in position.

On the thirteenth, a fair and beautiful day, at half-past 10 o'clock, the gunboat Chillicothe and the land battery opened upon the rebel fortification, the land battery giving special attention to the rebel sixty-four pounder. This attracted special attention in return, and for a while all their guns were trained upon the Wilson battery, and they poured a fearful fire of shell and round-shot upon the little fort, but it withstood it nobly. And its guns did yeoman service, making the cotton fly from Fort Greenwood, as the rebels call their fortification, but it fell only to be as quickly replaced. The De Kalb was detained for a few minutes by a mortar-boat that blocked the river and kept the gunboat from her position, but finally the way was free for the gunboat to move down into position, about six hundred yards from Fort Greenwood. Up to this time the land battery had received the whole fire of the fort, and most nobly withstood it. The appearance of the gunboats changed the scene. At once the rebels turned their heavy guns to the river, and paid their attention to the De Kalb and Chillicothe. The turret-guns of the De Kalb, both eleven-inch, and the bow-guns of the Chillicothe, one of ten-inch and two of nine-inch, when they hit, did execution that it was important should be stopped.

The engagement became general and inspiriting. Wilson's battery, the two gunboats and mortar-boats, all vigorously at work. Nowhere in the West has so heavy a weight of metal been thrown by us before. Our guns did fine execution, perforating the outer wall of the rebel earth-work, and moving the cotton about in a lively manner. Several times the cotton about the embrasures was in flames. Notwithstanding the rebels fought with a courage worthy of a batter cause, our fire was too much for them, and gradually their fire slackened, while ours increased in spirit. And if the place had been assailable by infantry, we should have captured it, but this was impossible, as the high water perfectly protected it. [449]

The fort is commanded by Gen. Tilghman, of Fort Donelson fame, and is manned by a force of about four thousand troops.

messenger.


A rebel account.

A correspondent of the Jackson (Miss.) Appeal, writing from Fort Pemberton on the eighteenth of March, gives the following account of the fight:

Last Wednesday morning the Yankee fleet of gunboats and transports, to the number of thirty-seven, led by a broad-horned iron-clad, which our boys called the Chilly Coffee, started from a point on the Tallahatchie three miles above us, (where they had tied up the night before,) and came tearing round the bend of the river in full gallop, as though they were going on down to Snyder's Mill without stopping. We knew they were coming; as, just as the Chilicothe poked her nose round the corner, she ran against a percussion-shell from a thirty-two-pounder rifle that had been playfully and courteously forwarded for her reception and welcome.

This was followed by a plug from our Whistling Dick, (alongside the thirty-two-pounder,) and the electrified Yank backed up the river, around the bend, where, exposing nothing but her bow-guns--eleven inches--she replied to us. After firing four times at our battery, a shell from the thirty-two-pounder exploded in our cotton breast-works, making the balls fly, and she drew off. We struck her, in the short engagement, seven times. That afternoon another gunboat came in her place, and, as a consequence, it took them from dark to daylight next morning to repair damages. We lost that day one killed and four wounded by fragments of shell, and four slightly burned by the ignition of a small quantity of powder.

On Thursday the engagement was unimportant. No injury sustained by us.

On Friday morning we discovered that they had succeeded in masking a battery of heavy pieces in the dense forest in our front; and from this, two gunboats, and a thirteen-inch mortar, they opened upon us at ten o'clock A. M. The fight was kept up furiously throughout the day, closing at sunset. One of the guns on a gunboat — I think the St. Louis — was a two-hundred-pounder; the others on the boats eleven inches; the mortar thirteen inch, and the land battery twenty-four pounder rifles. It is fair to say that a projectile was in the air all the time. They appeared to be of every conceivable shape, from spherical to the lamp-post style of architecture; and some of them, I verily believe, had long tails, which were defiantly switched in our faces as they went whizzing and howling spitefully but harmlessly by. Our shot, shell, grape, and canister fell so thick and fast in the timber, that we succeeded in spoiling one of the guns in their battery; but they are an industrious set of skunks, and in two hours they had substituted it for a set of smaller calibre.

At about one o'clock P. M., one of the gunboats withdrew badly damaged. The other stood it out, however, though struck several times, until just as the sun was setting, when your correspondent noted the direction of the three shots from Whistling Dick. They were to the point, and the broad horn went round the corner à la crawfish, and disappeared. It is proper to say that they stand bow on, and only two can come at a time. They dare not turn round when they want to withdraw, as that would expose their tenderest parts. You may know that backing a clumsy gunboat up-stream is no easy business. Since then, the engagements have been of little or no importance, so far as we can see.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
H. W. Wilson (2)
Lloyd Tilghman (1)
William Ross (1)
E. G. Parrott (1)
Doc (1)
Powell Clayton (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
March 19th (1)
March 18th (1)
13th (1)
11th (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: