two gunboats in the river. He advanced down the levee of the Mississippi, next to the water's edge, to the stockade of upright timbers behind the levee, driving the enemy from the stockade and firing upon them through their own portholes. He pushed a portion of his men over their works (the men helping each other over), the balance of his men moved around the stockade through the water, which was shallow, into the fort. Hearing the small arms of Major Shannon amidst the roar of artillery, I ordered an advance of the whole line. Colonel Phillips, at the head of the column under Colonel Major, made a circuit of the fort, and, with most of his men and officers, made our entrance into the fort with Shannon, of the Fifth; Colonel Herbert, with the Seventh, enveloped the ditch as directed. The fight was desperately contested on every part of the ground. Colonel Hardeman, with the Fourth Texas, being unable to control his guide, was delayed in his attack on the stockade on the Lafourche side until nearly daylight, but his casualties show with what determined courage that veteran regiment stood its ground after it came into action. By some mistake Colonel Lane's regiment did not get into action. He was waiting for and expecting a guide, while I supposed, and was informed, that he was at the head of the column under Colonel Major. There is no blame attached to Colonel Lane for the mistake. The attack on the fort was made at two o'clock A. M., being before daylight, for the purpose of preventing the gunboats from seeing our advance. The columns of attack, of Shannon above and Hardeman below, were expected to move along under the levee, sheltered from the artillery and musketry of the fort, until they reached the stockade, the weeds on the margin of the water, as I was informed, preventing a full view of them by the gunboats. Shannon succeeded in making the entrance with little or no loss, and he and Colonel Phillips (entering on the same side) would doubtless have succeeded in capturing the works had it not been for the existence of a ditch fronting and inside the levee, of which I had no knowledge or information. All my guides) and some of them resided within two miles of the fort) assured me that when we got through the stockade between the levee and the river, we had an open way into the fort without impediment other than the bayonets of the enemy. We were not repulsed and never would have been until we found, after getting into the stockade, there was yet a ditch to cross, running in front of and parallel with the river, and no means whatever on hand to cross it. At this ditch a most desperate fight ensued between the commands of Shannon and Phillips and the enemy. Our men here used brickbats upon the heads of the enemy, who returned the same. Captain Killough and Lieutenant Land and other officers and men were wounded on their heads with bricks, thrown by the enemy, which had first been thrown by our men. There never was more desperate courage displayed than was shown by our men engaged in this assault. The enemy have been shown an example of desperate courage which will not be without its effect. But for the false information in relation to that part of the fort fronting the river, it would most certainly have fallen into our hands. Had we known of the existence of this ditch we would have been prepared to have crossed it. We fought from two o'clock A. M., until daylight, without intermission, and our dead and wounded show the desperation of the assault. The garrison contained between five and six hundred Federals, our assaulting party engaged was about eight hundred strong. At daylight I sent in a flag of truce, asking permission to pick up our wounded and bury our dead, which was refused, as I expected. My object in sending a flag so early was to get away a great number of our men who had found a little shelter near the enemy's works, and who would have been inevitably taken prisoners. I must have saved one hundred men by instructing my flag of truce officer, as he approached the fort, to order our troops still there away. We mourn the fall of many of our bravest and best officers and men; among the former are Major Shannon, Captain Ragsdale, Lieutenants Starby and Cole, of the Fifth, Major Redley, of Phillips' regiment, and A. Cartwright, of the Fourth, and others. The fort was much stronger than it was represented to be, or than we expected to find it. Had it fallen into our hands, I am satisfied, with a little work on it, we would have held it against all the gunboats below Port Hudson. Its capture and occupation would doubtless have caused great uneasiness and inconvenience to. the Federal army besieging that fortress. In this river much risk was justified in its attempted capture. I cannot say too much in commendation of the officers and men who were engaged in this assault. Colonel Major, commanding the second cavalry brigade, lead the head of the column enveloping the fort, carrying his men to the ditch amidst a storm of shot and shell, in the most dauntless manner, and where he was himself wounded. The conduct of the lamented Shannon and his officers, Colonel Phillips and his officers, and Colonel Herbert and his officers, and, in fact, all the officers whose conduct came under my observation, is above all praise. My own staff came fully up to my expectations. Captain C. B. Sheppard, my Aide-de-Camp, and my volunteer Aids, W. G. Wilking and Leander McAnelley, rendered me good service, and behaved themselves as they had on former occasions, with coolness and courage. I herewith submit a list of casualties-full reports showing the killed, wounded, and missing, are enclosed. Fourth Texas cavalry--Killed, two; wounded, twenty-three; missing, three--twenty-eight. Fifth Texas cavalry--Killed, twelve; wounded,
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
Doc . 62 .-Hoisting the Black flag — official correspondence and reports.
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.