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Doc. 10. naval reports. And despatches.

Mississippi squadron, flag-ship Black Hawk, Mound City, ill., Nov. 7, 1864.
No. 11.

Sir: I inclose for the information of the Department a copy of a confidential cipher telegram from General Sherman to Captain Pennock, dated nine P. M.., November third.

Lieutenant-Commander Shirk was here to-day, and reports too little water in the Tennessee for the Peosta, a tin-clad, with a good battery, now at Paducah, and waiting for the rise in the river.

It is now raining, and the Tennessee is rising. I am pushing the repairs of the iron-clad Cincinnati, now repairing here, with all practicable despatch, and shall go up the Tennessee in her the moment she is ready for service and the stage of water in the Tennessee will permit.

I have sent down the Mississippi to bring up the iron-clad Neosho. The loss of the services of the four monitors sent from this squadron to Rear-Admiral Farragut will be much felt, especially as several of the iron-clads are out of order. The turtle iron-clads are still deficient of their side armor, which was removed at Alexandria, Louisiana, and are now stationed along the Mississippi, to prevent the rebel General Smith from crossing troops to the east side of the river, which it is the object of the inclosed confidential circular from General Canby, dated October eighteenth, to prevent, and which we have so far been able to do.

I have organized a lively patrol of the Mississippi River, and will immediately make arrangements to keep the gunboats on the Tennessee River supplied with ammunition nearer the point of their operations than this place, on which they have heretofore depended.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully yours,

S. P. Lee, Acting Rear-Admiral, Commanding Mississippi Squadron. Hon. Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy, Washington, D. C.

Kingston, Ga., 9 P. M., Nov. 3, 1864.
Telegram in cipher.

Captain Pennock, United States Navy, Mound City:

I don't know what boats you have up the Tennessee now, but hear that No. 55 has been captured by Forrest. I trust you will keep the river well patroled, increasing the capacity of the boats according to the draft of water. If theo present rain continues, one or two iron-clads would do most important service. In a few days I will be off for salt water, and hope to meet my old friend D. D. Porter again. Will you be kind enough to write Hill, and tell him to look out for me about Christmas from Hilton Head to Savannah? During my absence, please confer freely with Major-General Thomas, who commands in my stead.


[201]

flag-ship Philadelphia, Port Royal, November 26, 1864.
Hon. G. Welles, Secretary of the Navy:
Sir: The information that reaches us from rebel sources shows that the army of General Sherman was this side of Milledgeville a few days since, and it is inferable that his course is this way.

General Foster and myself will do what our forces allow to assist in establishing a connection with General Sherman.

General Foster proposes to move on the night of the twenty-eighth for this purpose. I am to cover his landing and furnish a battery of six howitzers to march with his troops.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. A. Dahlgren, Rear-Admiral, Commanding S. A. B. Squadron.

flag-steamer Philadelphia, Broad River, S. C., December 7, 1864.
Despatch No. 589.

Hon. Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy:

Sir: The Department's communication of the twenty-second November reached me on the third by the Donegal.

My despatches, which have by this time reached the department, will show that time has not been lost in doing what the small force here permits. As soon as General Sherman does arrive, I will .bring every available vessel, including the iron-clads, to his aid.

As regards the weather that may be expected subsequent to this, it would be difficult to judge. Nothing could have been finer than the recent weather to this date, so far as the effects on roads are concerned; but to-day it rained heavily for a few hours, probably not enough to affect the roads nor the streams, which are yet swollen in this vicinity, nor elsewhere probably at the coast, within this command.

The new steamer building in the Pedee is awaiting a rise to come down, and has not yet done so. At the same time, I have just inquired of a deserter who is a native, and he says that about Atlanta the streams begin to rise about November.

The temperature here is very mild, and not cold enough to be healthy, differing entirely from the purer air of the sea along the coast outside.

I do not perceive any natural obstacle in the path of the army. General Sherman can connect very easily by any of the principal streams, and take this squadron as his base. It would be very fortunate if he should happen about this vicinity, as he would come upon Savannah on its weak side, which is to the interior.

Looking seaward it is very strong — not fortified as carefully as Charleston, but still well suited to the narrow water-courses by which vessels approach.

I cannot conceive, however, that any thing here could check a veteran army like that of General Sherman. If he has any trouble, it will be from the force gathering on his footsteps.

His best base would be from this to the Stono, having no less than four fine estuaries to connect with the squadron, namely, Broad River, the rivers emptying into St. Helena, North-Edisto, and Stono, giving him ample means of supply, conveniently distributed, with the flank of Charleston at one hand and that of Savannah on the other, with the choice of falling on either.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. A. Dahlgren, Rear-Admiral, Commanding S. A. B. Squadron.

Port Royal Harbor, Dec. 12, 1864.
Telegram.

Hon. Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy:

I have just received a communication from Sherman's army. It is a few miles from Savannah, and in fine spirits. I shall bring all my available force into connection with the army. A despatch is forwarded with this.

Very respectfully,

John A. Dahlgren, Rear-Admiral.

flag-steamer Philadelphia, Port Royal Harbor, S. C., December 12, 1864.
Despatch No. 596.

Hon. Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy:

Sir: It is my happiness to apprise the Department that General Sherman, with his army, is near Savannah, and I am in communication with him.

In view of his probable arrival, I had stationed several steamers at different points, and had come down from the Tullifinney yesterday in order to be at hand. I had not to wait many hours.

This morning, about eight o'clock, the Dandelion arrived with Captain Duncan and two scouts, Sergeant Myron J. Emmick and George W. Quinby, bearing the following lines from General Howard:

headquarters Department of army of Tennessee, near Savannah canal, Ga. To Commander of United States Naval Forces in vicinity of Savannah, Ga.:
Sir: We have met with perfect success thus far. Troops in fine spirits and near by.

Respectfully,

O. O. Howard, Major-General Commanding.

Captain Duncan states that our forces were in contact with the rebels a few miles outside of Savannah. He says they are not in want of any thing.

Perhaps no event could give greater satisfaction to the country than that which I announce, and I beg leave to congratulate the United States Government on its occurrence.

It may perhaps be exceeding my province, but I cannot refrain from expressing the hope that the department will commend Captain Duncan and his companion to the Honorable Secretary of War, for some mark of approbation for the success in establishing communications between General Sherman and the fleet. It was an enterprise that required both skill and courage.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. A. Dahlgren, Rear-Admiral, Commanding S. A. B. Squadron.

[202]

Wassaw, December 14, 1864.
Hon. G. Welles, Secretary of the Navy:
Sir: I write this in the same cabin with General Sherman. He came round here with General Foster to meet me.

I was engaged in buoying Savannah River, to push up an iron-clad to assist in attacking Savannah by water, and left this morning to visit this place, where I have the Passaic and Pawnee, then to Ossabaw, where are the Flag and Sonoma, in the hope of communicating with General Sherman.

Meanwhile he had just walked over the Fort McAllister that guards the Ogeechee, and descended to the Flag. General Foster came in afterward, and brought him here.

The mail-steamer starts soon, and General Foster does me the favor to take this with him to Hilton Head. I have no time to say more than the above, as General Sherman proposes to consult immediately on measures. .

I cannot express to the department my happiness in witnessing and assisting in this glorious movement, so acceptable to our great country. My only wish now is to do my part.

Most respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. A. Dahlgren, Rear-Admiral, Commanding S. A. B. Squadron.

flag-steamer Pawnee, near Savannah, Ga., December 23, 1864.
Despatch No. 597.

Hon. Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy:

Sir: The departure of a mail-steamer enables me to convey to the Department the latest information to date. Where the narrative of events ended with my last despatch, I am unable to say. The necessity of moving rapidly, and the want of a suitable flag-ship, compels me to shift from one vessel to another, and leave clerks, documents, and records behind. Until I knew exactly where General Sherman would prefer to establish communications with me, and connect his operations, I had to be prepared at the different points between which a choice lay. The force I could collect was therefore distributed at Savannah River, Wassaw, Ossabaw, St. Catherine's, and even as low as Brunswick.

On meeting General Sherman, I drew in my force on the first three places; placing two ironclads at Wassaw to insure the detention of the rebel iron-clads, and one in the Savannah River, in order to move up near the obstructions, and assist directly in the movement of the army on the city of Savannah, some gunboats being left in the Ossabaw for the communications. On the thirteenth, General Sherman advanced with his army toward the city, enveloped it, and all its outworks south of the river, and in seeking to connect with my force fell in with Fort McAllister, located on the south bank of the Ogeechee. Promptly a division was moved to the assault, and carried it. This enabled General Sherman to communicate with me in person, and a direct attack was contemplated on Beaulieu, defending the Vernon and Burnside Rivers, by which a better communication would be established, and a nearer approach made to the city. General Howard made a personal reconnoissance with Fleet-Captain Bradford, to decide on the direction a column should take to the rear, whilst my forces moved on the front. To this end I brought round the iron-clad from Savannah River, which, with the Pawnee, Sonoma, Winona, and three mortar-schooners, were all that I could draw off from other places for the purpose.

On the eighteenth, General Sherman came on board the flag-ship. Having fully invested Savannah on the land side, whilst the navy held every avenue by water, General Sherman sent a summons to surrender, which was declined by General Hardee on the ground that he held his two lines of defence, and was in communication with his superior authority. General Sherman therefore prepared to attack. His army was gradually drawing closer on Savannah River, and in order to cut off the escape of the rebel forces, he concluded it would be better to send a division to reinforce the troops of General Foster, up Broad River, and make a serious attack there in the direction of the railroad, whilst that on Beaulieu would be limited to the naval cannonade, which I must not omit to mention had been begun and continued with deliberation by Lieutenant Commander Scott, in the Sonoma, assisted for a day or so by the mortar of the Griffiths, Acting-Master Ogilvie. To insure the exact concurrence of the several ports, the General went with me to Hilton Head in my steamer, and General Foster was made fully acquainted with the design. Late on Monday I put to sea, but to avoid detention from the increasing gale, the pilot preferred to follow the interior passage, and when near Ossabaw my steamer grounded. We started in the barge to pull, and were nearly in the waters of Ossabaw when a tug came along with the following telegram for General Sher man:

from Station near headquarters, December 4, 1864--M.
To General Sherman:
General Howard reports one of General Leggett's brigades near Savannah, and no enemy. Prisoners say the city is abandoned and enemy gone to Hardeeville.

Wood captured six guns. Slocum got eight guns, and is moving on the city.

Dayton, Aid-de-Camp.

It was now about three P. M. General Sherman hastened to his headquarters, and I to the division of vessels lying in front of Beaulieu. The facts of the case were soon apparent. Captain Scott, of the Sonoma, was in possession of Fort Beaulieu and Rosedew. I landed at the former, and after giving some brief directions, was on my way from it when I received a note from General Sherman, dated half-past 6 P. M., with two telegrams from General Howard, one saying, “Tatnall intends to run the blockade to-night ;” the other: “Rebel boat Savannah, with Tatnall in, is just out of our reach.”

I did not apprehend that this intention to escape could be carried into effect. [203]

The two iron-clads which I had at Wassaw blocked the best way out, and I did not believe that the rebel ram could be brought over the shallows of Savannah River, save under the most favorable circumstances of a high tide and an easterly wind. At this time it was blowing a gale from the north-west.

Still it did not seem proper to allow the public interests to incur the least risk in a matter so important. So I ordered the Pawnee to tow the Nantucket to Savannah River, and her commander being too ill to be on deck, Fleet-Captain Bradford volunteered for the duty.

It was three o'clock on the morning of the twenty-first when I lay down for a few hours' rest; and as my steamer was still aground, got into my barge at seven A. M., pulled to Wassaw, then across that sound into the pass to the Savannah River, and had nearly reached the Savannah River when a tug came along and relieved the faithful seamen of their severe labor in a heavy gale, wet to the skin as they were. I arrived about noon, hoisted my flag in the Wissahickon, Captain Johnson, and proceeded up the river with the Winona, Captain Dana, and two tugs.

About four P. M., the obstructions across the channel near the head of Elba Island compelled me to anchor a short distance below the city.

This hasty and off-hand narrative will give the department some idea of the events, as seen from my stand-point, that immediately preceded the occupation of Savannah by the Union forces.

The glorious flag of the Union once more waved over the ramparts of the forts, and the city, and the vessels of the navy on the water. Savannah has been taken in the only way probably that it was assailable. In every other the defences were complete and powerful, extending over every approach, and including the rivers that traversed the country to the southward; so that an attack in those quarters could not have succeeded. It is one of the first fruits of the brilliant campaign commencing at Atlanta, and of that fine conception — the march through Georgia.

But it is not the last, and General Sherman has but to follow out his plans in order to reap still greater advantages for the country and renown for himself.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. A. Dahlgren, Rear-Admiral, Commanding S. A. B. Squadron.

flag-steamer Philadelphia, Savannah River, Jan. 4, 1865.
Despatch No. 6.

Hon. Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy:

Sir: I have already apprised the department that the army of General Sherman occupied the city of Savannah on the twenty-first December.

The rebel army, hardly respectable in numbers or condition, escaped by crossing the river and taking the Union causeway toward the railroad.

I have walked about the city several times, and can affirm that its tranquillity is undisturbed. The Union soldiers who are stationed within its limits are as orderly as if they were in New-York or Boston.

. . . . One effect of the march of General Sherman through Georgia, has been to satisfy the people that their credulity has been imposed on by the lying assertions of the rebel government, affirming the inability of the United States Government to withstand the armies of rebeldom. They have seen the old flag of the United States carried by its victorious legions through their State, almost unopposed, and placed in their principal city without a blow.

Since the occupation of the city, General Sherman has been occupied in making arrangements for its security, after he leaves it for the march that he meditates. My attention has been directed to such measures of cooperation as the number and quality of my force permit.

On the second, I arrived here from Charleston, whither, as I stated in my despatch of the twenty-ninth December, I had gone, in consequence of information from the senior officer there, that the rebels contemplated issuing from the harbor, and his request for my presence.

Having placed a force there of seven monitors, sufficient to meet such an emergency, and not perceiving any sign of the expected raid, I returned to Savannah, to keep in communication with General Sherman, and be ready to render any assistance that might be desired. General Sherman has fully informed me of his plans, and so far as my means permit, they shall not lack assistance by water.

On the third, the transfer of the right wing to Beaufort was begun, and the only suitable vessel I had at hand (the Harvest Moon) was sent to Thunderbolt to receive the first embarkation. This took place about three P. M., and was witnessed by General Sherman and General Barnard (U. S. Engineers) and myself. The Pontiac is ordered around to assist, and the army transports also followed the first move by the Harvest Moon.

I could not help remarking on the unbroken silence that prevailed in the large array of troops; not a voice was to be heard, as they gathered in masses on the bluff to look at the vessels. The notes of a solitary bugle alone came from their midst.

General Barnard made a brief visit to one of the rebel works (Causten's Bluff) that dominated this water-course — the best approach of the kind to Savannah.

I am collecting data that will fully exhibit to the department the powerful character of the defences of the city and its approaches. General Sherman will not retain the extended limits they embrace, but will contract the line very much.

General Foster still holds the position near the Tullifinny. With his concurrence, I have detached the Fleet brigade, and the men belonging to it have returned to their vessels. The excellent service performed by this detachment has fully realized my wishes, and exemplified the efficiency of the organization — infantry and [204] light artillery handled as skirmishers. The howitzers were always landed as quickly as the men, and were brought into action before the light pieces of the land service could be got ashore.

I regret very much that the reduced complements of the vessels prevent me from maintaining the force in constant organization. With three hundred more marines, and five hundred seamen, I could frequently operate to great advantage, at the present time, when the attention of the rebels is so engrossed by General Sherman.

It is said that they have a force at Hardeeville, the pickets of which were retained on the Union causeway until a few days since, when some of our troops crossed the river and pushed them back. Concurrently with this, I caused the Sonoma to anchor so as to sweep the ground in the direction of the causeway.

The transfer of the right wing (thirty thousand men) to Beaufort will so imperil the rebel force at Hardeeville that it will be cut off or dispersed, if not moved in season.

Meanwhile, I will send the Dai Ching to St. Helena to meet any want that may arise in that quarter, while the Mingoe and Pontiac will be ready to act from Broad River.

The general route of the army will be northward; but the exact direction must be decided more or less by circumstances which it may not be possible to foresee.

My cooperation will be confined to assistance in attacking Charleston, or in establishing communication at Georgetown, in case the army pushes on without attacking Charleston, and time alone will show which of these will eventuate.

The weather of the winter first, and the condition of the ground in spring, would permit little advantage to be derived from the presence of the army at Richmond until the middle of May. So that General Sherman has no reason to move in haste, but can choose such objects as he prefers, and take as much time as their attainment may demand.

The department will learn the objects in view of General Sherman more precisely, from a letter addressed by him to General Halleck, which he read to me a few days since.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. A. Dahlgren, Rear-Admiral, Commanding S. A. B. Squadron.

flag-steamer Philadelphia, Savannah River, Ga., Jan. 7, 1865.
Despatch No. 16.

Hon. Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy:

Sir: I inclose extract of a note to me from General Sherman, which will advise the Department of the latest information which I have in regard to General Sherman's movements.

The position which the army occupies, or is moving to occupy, is, two corps at Savannah, two at Port Royal Ferry, General Foster's forces (five thousand) at the Tullifinney, and a regiment at Boyd's Neck.

I presume the first point where the two wings from Savannah and Port Royal Ferry will meet will be at Branchville, and the march thence to Florence, and so on, following the railroad.

I have no expectations that an attack on Charleston is embraced in the plan, as General Sherman has not suggested any arrangements for a cooperation with the navy. At the same time, circumstances might determine the General to such an operation.

Whatever forces the rebels have been able to collect in this quarter are no doubt posted in the direction of Charleston, prepared to occupy the city or otherwise, according to its strength. It cannot be sufficient to stand right in the way of our army; but may operate on its flanks and rear, as the opportunity may offer.

It will always be convenient for General Sherman to attack Charleston until he passes the Santee; after that, the swampy land would interfere.

Charleston being left behind, there remains but a single occasion when the army may communicate with the squadron, that is, by the way of the Santee or Georgetown, and I shall hardly look for this except as an incident from the extension of the foragers on the right wing, as it would be very little further to communicate with the North-Atlantic Squadron at Wilmington, and convenient to the forward march of the army.

It is with great regret that the conclusion is forced on me that the work marked out here will not include Charleston.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. A. Dahlgren, Rear-Admiral, Commanding S. A. B. Squadron.

headquarters military division of the Mississippi, in the field, Savannah, Jan. 7, 1865.
Admiral Dahlgren, Savannah River:
dear Admiral: The letter you send me is from Admiral Porter at Beaufort, N. C. I am not certain that there is a vessel in Port Royal from Admiral Porter, or I would write him. If there be one to return him, I beg you to send this, with a request that I be advised as early as possible as to the condition of the railroad from Beaufort, N. C., back to Newbern, and so on toward Goldsboro; also all maps and information of the country about Newbern; how many cars and locomotives are available to us on the road; whether there is good navigation from Beaufort, N. C., via Pamlico Sound, up Neuse River, etc.

I want Admiral Porter to know that I expect to be ready to move about the fifteenth; that I have one head of column across Savannah River at this point, will soon have another at Port Royal Ferry, and expect to make another crossing at Sister's Ferry. I still adhere to my plan, submitted to General Grant, and only await provisions and forage. . . . .

I am, with respect, etc.,

W. T. Sherman, Major-General.

flag-steamer Harvest Moon, Port Royal Harbor, Jan. 22, 1865.
Despatch No. 83.

Hon. Gideon Wells, Secretary of the Navy:

Sir: The Department is already advised by my previous letters, and no doubt more fully by [205] intelligence from the War Department, of the precise object of General Sherman's operation.

To assist in this, a diversion is to be made upon Charleston, though General Sherman is directly opposed to any direct attack, from seaward, upon the harbor or upon James Island.

General Foster will not, therefore, engage in any thing of the kind, but will, conjointly with me, undertake a move along the approaches to Mount Pleasant from Bull's Bay, so as to embarrass the rebel general as to the real design.

The force I have is not equal to any thing more than a cooperation with the army, and is therefore limited to what the generals may elect. Assuming, however, that the rebel garrisons will be reduced to a minimum, I have proposed to General Foster an attack on a portion of their works, which I am very hopeful of. At the same time it relies very much more on the presumed reduction of the rebel force by General Sherman's interior operation, than on our own strength.

General Foster has it now under consideration, and is so far well inclined to it, that he only wants the sanction of General Sherman.

. . . . . . .

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. A. Dahlgren, Rear-Admiral, Commanding S. A. B. Squadron.

flag-steamer Harvest Home, Port Royal Harbor, January 24, 1865.
Despatch No. 38.

Hon. Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy:

Sir: The inclosed copy of a note from General Sherman conveys the latest information to this date of the state of things here.

I have the Dai-Ching and a tug in the Combahee to assist the move at that ferry. The Sonoma is in the North-Edisto, and the Pawnee leaves at early light with a tug for the Ashepoo, where a battery and obstructions are reported.

The orders of all are to drive in the rebel pickets, and knock down his batteries when they can be reached. The Tuscarora, Mingoe, State of Georgia, and Nipsic, are at Georgetown, with orders to prevent the erection there of any batteries. The Pontiac is in the Savannah River, at Pusyburgh, advancing with General Sherman's extreme left.

The demonstration desired by General Sherman at Charleston, may be said to be begun by the collection there of so many iron-clads.

. . . . . . .

I have the honor to be, etc., your obedient servant,

J. A. Dahlgren, Rear-Admiral, Commanding S. A. B. Squadron.

headquarters military division of the Mississippi, in the field, Beaufort, S. C., January 24, 1865.
Admiral Dahlgren:
dear Admiral: Weather is now fine, and promises us dry land. I will go to-day to Pocotaligo and Coosawhatchie; to-morrow will demonstrate on Salkehatchie, and would be obliged if you would fire up Edisto or Stono, just to make the enemy uneasy on that flank, and to develop if he intends to hold fast to Charleston and Columbia both.

It will take five days for Slocum to get out of the savannas of Savannah, and during that time I will keep Howard seemingly moving direct on Charleston, though with no purpose of going beyond the Salkehatchie.

Yours,

W. T. Sherman, Major-General.

flag-ship Harvest Moon, Port Royal Harbor, S. C., February 13, 1865.
Despatch No. 69.

Hon. G. Welles, Secretary of the Navy:

Sir: I take advantage of the departure of a steamer to-night, to apprise the department of the state of affairs here.

The army of General Sherman may now be considered as having begun its movement northward from Savannah. The department has been informed, in my previous communications, that the right wing having been moved from Savannah to Beaufort by water, advanced gradually, driving in the rebel forces near Pocotaligo, and finally inclining to the left, found itself, about the second, ready to cross the Combahee, at Rivers Bridge, on the confines of the Barnwell district.

Here it necessarily awaited the left wing, under General Slocum, which had been delayed in passing up along the banks of the Savannah, by the effect of the freshets on the roads, which in many places required to be corduroyed.

I had sent the Pontiac to cover these troops and their crossing, at Sister's Ferry, forty-one miles from the city, where this vessel arrived on the twenty-fourth of January, about three days in advance of the column of General Davis.

By the seventh of February, the last man of the rear division was over, without molestation; and the Pontiac dropped down the river, anchoring near the city, by reason of a request from the General, to the effect that he considered the presence of some vessel of war necessary.

As the left wing had about thirty-five miles to march for its position with the army, it is fair to presume that by the tenth or eleventh, General Sherman had his whole force in hand, ready to move on Branchville, some twenty miles distant from Rivers Bridge, and making due allowance for the Edisto River and its swamps, may be there at this date, unless he shall have inclined to the left, more toward Augusta, in order to avoid swampy ground.

Meanwhile, by way of diversion, as requested by General Sherman, the Ottowa and Winona were feeling their way in the Combahee, on the eighth and ninth; the Pawnee and Sonoma pound the battery on the Togadoo and Wadmelaw on the tenth and eleventh, while the monitors Lehigh, Wissahickon, McDonough, Smith, and Williams, were shelling the works on the Stono.

On the twelfth and thirteenth came the demonstration at Bull's Bay, which is all that [206] could be done by this squadron to assist the army of General Sherman.

It is now fairly launched on its great enterprise, and will no doubt soon consummate the first results so confidently looked for.

If any further communication is resumed with my command, it may be expected in the vicinity of Georgetown. But in view of the great effect that must be produced by the army recently landed at Wilmington, it is reasonable to infer that General Sherman will advance rapidly to a junction with it, and neither seek nor need further communication with the sea whilst in South-Carolina.

Yesterday, while engaged in operations at Bull's Bay, I received a despatch in cipher from General Gillmore, which he had just received from General Sherman, asking me to decipher it, upon which I steamed down to Hilton Head, in order to be in immediate communication with General Gillmore. There I found a cipher despatch for me from General Sherman, and I inclose copies of both, so that the Department may be able to inform the President of the last news here in regard to General Sherman. . . . .

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. A. Dahlgren, Rear-Admiral, Commanding S. A. B. Squadron.

U. S. S. Pontiac, Sister's Ferry, Savannah River, Ga., January 31, 1865.
Admiral: In obedience to your order of the thirteenth instant, I reported, on the fifteenth instant, to General Sherman, at Savannah, and was by him referred to General Slocum for special instructions.

Agreeably to such instructions, we left Savannah on the afternoon of the eighteenth, in company with the army transport, Robert E. Lee, and arrived at Purrysburgh, about twenty miles up the river, on the afternoon of the nineteenth, where we found a portion of the Twentieth corps, General Williams's. Remained at Purrysburgh until the twenty-second, when we proceeded up the river, and on the twenty-fourth anchored at Morrall's Landing, at the lower end of Sister's Ferry Bluffs, about forty-one miles from Savannah. Here, on the high banks which overlook the river, we established a picket-station, with a view to keep a lookout for the advance of our own army, and to see that the enemy did not bring artillery to bear on us, our own guns not being available for such an elevation.

With a view to ascertaining the position and strength of the rebel pickets, and for information generally, small scouting-parties were sent out, with orders to run no risk of being cut off, and cautioned particularly against the detached bodies of Wheeler's cavalry, known to be in the neighborhood. Notwithstanding this warning, on the morning of the twenty-sixth, a party from this ship, engaged on a scouting expedition, were surprised and captured by a body of Wheeler's men, numbering about twenty. The following are the names of those taken: Third Assistant Engineer, Carlton A. Uber; Acting Gunner, Charles F. Adams; Americus Brinton, ordinary seaman; Gustavus Dahl, ordinary seaman; John Owens, landsman; James Walters, coal-heaver.

Previous to this, we had taken the following prisoners: John Gaylard, citizen, but suspected guerrilla; James M. Fleetwood, late of rebel gunboat Macon, and branch pilot of Savannah; John Ganaan, and J. B. Metzger, Thirty-first Georgia; all of whom have been turned over to the Provost-Marshal.

On the evening of the twenty-seventh, the scouts of General Davis's column reached here, and soon after, the rest of the Fourteenth corps. They had been delayed by the very bad roads, and the great amount of corduroying to be done. The movements of this wing are greatly impeded by the great freshets, but officers and men are working with great energy and perseverance, and will no doubt overcome all difficulties.

This ship is now anchored about a mile above the pontoon-bridge, or at the “old ferry,” on the lookout for the enemy's gunboats, the last information of which showed them to be eighty or ninety miles above us.

On our way up, owing to the very strong current caused by the freshet, and the many and very sharp turns in the river, we were occasionally swept in among the trees on the river-bank, getting some scratches, but nothing of a serious nature.

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

S. B. Luce, Lieutenant Commander. To Rear-Admiral John A. Dahlgren, Commanding S. A. B. Squadron.

Headquarters in the field, Lowry's, February 7, 1865.
Telegram in cipher.

Rear-Admiral J. A. Dahlgren, off Charleston, S. C.:

We are on the South-Carolina road, at Midway, and will break fifty miles from Edisto toward Augusta, and then cross toward Columbia. Weather is bad, and country full of water. I have ordered Foster to move Hatch up to the Edisto, about Jacksonboro and Willtown; also, to make the lodgment about Bull's Bay. Watch Charleston close. I think Jeff Davis will order it to be abandoned, lest he lose its garrison as well as guns.

We are all well, and the enemy retreats before us. Yours,

W. T. Sherman, Major-General.

flag-steamer Harvest Moon, Port Royal Harbor, S. C., January 31, 1865.
Despatch No. 49.

Honorable Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy:

Sir: I am now able to convey to the department a more complete account of the works that defended Savannah than was before in my power.

. . . . . . .

The heavy batteries that were laid across the Savannah River, at the head of Elba Island, have been found sufficiently difficult of removal, even [207] when our possession enabled steam-tugs and divers to work without interruption.

There was a double line of cribs extending entirely across; each of these was made of heavy timbers; eighteen-inch to twenty-inch, stoutly framed together, with platforms at each tier, on which were placed piles of brick. Their tops were about level with high-water, and in the different parts of the South Branch, must have had a height of thirty to thirty-five feet from the bottom.

The party from the navy, consisting of a corps of divers and a steam-tug, were occupied two or three weeks in removing two or three of these, which opened a passage of not more than one hundred to one hundred and twenty-five feet. In the North Branch, the divers who contracted, effected a similar opening in less time, as the water was little more than half the depth of the South Branch.

First. The first battery from above that commanded these obstructions was Fort Lee, a strong earthwork, at one thousand five hundred yards; it had ten guns, of which two were ten-inch, and three were eight-inch columbiads.

Second. Fort Jackson, at two thousand yards, has five guns, of which two are eight-inch columbiads.

Third. Battery Lawton, at two thousand yards, five cannon, of which two were ten-inch columbiads; one was an eight-inch columbiad.

Fourth. Water-battery, at two thousand yards, six guns, of which two were ten-inch columbiads, and one an eight-inch columbiad.

About one thousand five hundred yards above these obstructions was another row of similar crib-work, extending from Fort Lee to Battery Lawton, on island directly across the channel — the channel being under the fire of these works, at ranges varying from two hundred to six hundred yards.

Piles were also driven and obstructions sunken at different parts of the channel, where it presented any intricacy. So long therefore as the rebels held these batteries, they covered these obstructions by the fire of twenty-six cannon, of which thirteen were columbiads.

As the Savannah River is lined with marshes to the line of obstructions, no troops could operate on either side, and the vessels that approached could have no cooperation, while they were also under the fire of the battery of fourteen guns on Whitmarsh Island, at a range of----yards.

Savannah could, however, be approached by landing troops in St. Augustine Creek, whence roads led directly to the city — the distance not exceeding three miles--which was also easy riflerange, and permitted the destruction of the city.

The navigation from the sea is better by this route than by Savannah River.

To guard against this danger, there were several batteries:

First. Turner's Rocks, six guns, four of them ten-inch columbiads, and one eight-inch columbiad.

Second. Thunderbolt, twelve guns, of which one was a ten-inch columbiad, and four were eight-inch columbiads.

Third. Bartow, with its outpost, Causton's Bluff, sixteen guns, of which one was a ten-inch columbiad, and three were eight-inch columbiads.

Obstructions of various kinds were sunk in different parts of the narrow channel.

The heavy cannon on this line were six ten-inch columbiads, and eight eight-inch columbiads, looking upon a deep but narrow and crooked channel.

Just in the midst of this net-work of defences lies Whitmarsh Island. Our landing and intrenching here was prevented: first, by the battery of. Turner's Rocks; second, by a battery on its east side of fourteen guns, which, with obstructions, closed the passage by the Little Tybee; third, by an intrenchment, extending diagonally across the island, with small field-works at intervals; fourth, by the guns of Thunderbolt enfilading these intrenchments; fifth, by the guns of Bartow.

The whole of this powerful assemblage of works was open, however, to being taken in reverse, and turned or passed by troops landing on the Vernon and Ogeechee.

To prevent this, the Vernon was closed by obstructions, and commanded by Fort Beaulieu with nine cannon, of which two were ten-inch columbiads, and one was an eight-inch columbiad.

Big Ogeechee was closed by obstructions, and Fort McAllister, having twenty-four guns, of which three were ten-inch columbiads, and one was an eight-inch columbiad.

Little Ogeechee was defended by Rosedew, with six guns, of which three were ten-inch columbiads.

All of these streams were so narrow at the location of these works, that a steamer would turn with difficulty, if at all.

Batteries were also placed on the roads leading to the city from these places. The whole number of cannon in the works enumerated above on the water-courses was one hundred and thirteen, of which twenty were ten-inch columbiads, and nineteen were eight-inch columbiads.

Besides these, there were one hundred and sixteen cannon of less calibre in the land-works immediately around the city, and on the roads leading to it, making a total of two hundred and twenty-nine cannon defending Savannah by land and water.

I think it clear from this, that the city was not reducible in any of these directions, save by the united exertions of a competent land and sea force.

If General Gillmore had forty thousand men, which I heard after he left that he had had, I think the place might have been captured. [208]

But the shortest and best way was to take it as did General Sherman, by entering from the direction of the interior, where no attack was expected, and no works had been previously prepared.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. A. Dahlgren, Rear-Admiral, Commanding S. A. B. Squadron.

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