The actions with the forts
A navy gun on land, 1863: this piece was placed on Morris island in the attempt to reduce the Charleston forts|
The reduction and final capture of the Confederate strongholds that guarded the important ports of entry of the Confederacy
on the Atlantic coast
and the Gulf
were in every case a cooperation between the navy and the army, and to both belong the honor of the successful outcome, which, singly and alone, neither branch of the service could have accomplished.
The old brick and mortar fortress of Pulaski
guarded the entrance to the Savannah River
Late in 1861, almost entirely through the use of the navy, the Federals
had control of the Atlantic coast
, and in the vicinity of Savannah
their ships were patrolling the waters of Ossabaw
and Wassaw sounds
, and their gunboats had penetrated up the Edisto River
in the direction of the city.
's frowning guns afforded shelter for any blockade-runners that might succeed in eluding the blockading fleet.
It was necessary to reduce this strong fortress before a stop could be put to the attempts of the venturesome runners.
General Q. A. Gillmore
directed the placing of batteries of rifled guns and mortars upon Big Tybee Island, and by the end of February, 1862, other batteries were erected in the rear of the fort, completely enfilading it.
On the 10th of April, 1862, thirty-six heavy rifled cannon and mortars began the bombardment, and after two days of uninterrupted firing, although the Fort
was gallantly defended, it was so badly battered that it was forced to surrender.
But Fort McAllister
, at the mouth of the Ogeechee
, did not fall until W. T. Sherman
had arrived at the end of his march from Atlanta
and General Hazen
's troops carried the battery by assault.
Quite as remarkable were the continual and ineffectual attempts on the part of the Federal
forces to reduce the city of Charleston
To its wharves blockade-runners continually made their way up to the very last days of the war. Off its harbor was maintained the strongest fleet, in the point of efficiency, weight of metal, and actual fighting qualities, that existed in that day. Month after month, Charleston
was assailed both by water and land.
Under the direction of General Gillmore
and General Terry
, breaching batteries were erected in the marshes, and although most of the outlying earthworks and batteries were taken, many determined assaults were repulsed.
, on Morris Island
, continued its brave and determined resistance until September 7, 1863, when it was evacuated just as a strong force of three thousand troops was ready to make the third assault.
Although reduced to nothing but a pile of brick dust and debris, Sumter
did not surrender, though day and night the fire of heavy guns from both the war-ships and the heavy artillery of the army was kept up.
's defense was something for her citizens to look back upon with pride.
It was neither the Federal
army nor navy that caused her downfall, but, as a contemporaneous writer has put it, “General Sherman
took the city by turning his back on it.”
The harbor of Wilmington, North Carolina
, had two entrances available for vessels of not more than twelve feet draft, and therefore two blockading squadrons were maintained.
guarded the southern entrance to the Cape Fear River
, and Fort Fisher
The Navy Department of the Federal Government
had been anxious from the opening of the war to reduce these defenses, but this could only be done by a combined army and navy attack, and up to the time of the assumption of command of the Union
armies by Grant
, it was not deemed expedient to spare the troops.
, on September 5, 1864, was appointed to the command of a naval force to cooperate with the land
forces for this purpose, General Grant
having signified his belief that the army could be ready by the 1st of October of that year.
's health not permitting his assumption of this duty, it was assigned to Admiral Porter
For the first attempt at the destruction of Fort Fisher
there was used the most gigantic torpedo ever employed in warfare.
This consisted of an old gunboat, the Louisiana
, changed to resemble a blockade-runner and filled with powder.
Much doubt as to the value of the experiment was entertained by experienced officers, but it was believed to be worth a trial.
On the evening of December 23, 1864, she was towed in almost to the beach, the rest of the fleet keeping well off the coast.
Arriving near the beach, she was cast off, and, under her own steam, ran up on the sand three hundred yards from the Fort
about 11:30 P. M. The slow fuse was lit, the crew deserted her, and at 1:40 A. M. she blew up. The explosion had not the slightest effect on the works.
It was a complete failure.
About 12:40 P. M. that day (the 24th) the largest fleet ever assembled under the flag of the United States
up to that time, began the naval bombardment.
had under his command fifty-seven vessels, with a total of six hundred and twenty-seven guns.
The garrison had only a limited amount of ammunition, and its commander, Colonel Lamb
, gave orders that each gun should be fired only once every half-hour, except by special instructions, and unless the Federals
should attempt to run past the works, in which case each gun-commander was to use his piece to its full capacity.
This slow fire caused the admiral to believe that the works had been silenced, and he signaled to keep up only a moderate fire to hold down the activities of the garrison and as a notification to General Butler
that he could bring in the transports with the troops.
The landing and attack took place on Christmas Day.
The fire from the ships was slow and methodical, as at target practice.
Great holes were dug in the parapets by the gigantic
Farragut at the pinnacle of his fame
Leaning on the cannon, Commander David Glasgow Farragut and Captain Percival Drayton, chief of staff, stand on the deck of the “Hartford,” after the victory in Mobile Bay, of August, 1864.
When Gustavus V. Fox, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, proposed the capture of New Orleans from the southward he was regarded as utterly foolhardy.
All that was needed, however, to make Fox's plan successful was the man with spirit enough to undertake it and judgment sufficient to carry it out. Here on the deck of the fine new sloop-of-war that had been assigned to him as flagship, stands the man who had just accomplished a greater feat that made him a world figure as famous as Nelson.
The Confederacy had found its great general among its own people, but the great admiral of the war, although of Southern birth, had refused to fight against the flag for which, as a boy in the War of 1812, he had seen men die. Full of the fighting spirit of the old navy, he was able to achieve the first great victory that gave new hope to the Federal cause.
Percival Drayton was also a Southerner, a South Carolinian, whose brothers and uncles were fighting for the South. |
Where the Confederates fought Farragut shot for shot: interior of Fort Morgan, Mobile Bay, in 1864
From these walls the gunners of Brigadier-General Richard L. Page, C. S. A., sighted their pieces and gave the Federal vessels shot for shot.
It was a fight at close range, since the obstructions in the channel compelled the fleet to pass close under the guns of the fort.
During the hour while the vessels were within range, the Fort fired 491 shots, about eight a minute.
When the fight was thickest the Confederate gunners fired even far more rapidly, enveloping the vessels, and especially the “Hartford” and the “Brooklyn,” in a veritable hail of missiles.
The Fort was an old five-sided brick works mounting its guns in three tiers.
It was built on the site of the little redoubt (Fort Bowyer) that had repelled the British fleet in 1814.
Within the Fort were mounted thirty-two smooth-bores and eight rifles.
The entire front wall was reinforced by enormous piles of sand-bags to enable its four feet eight inches of solid brick to withstand the broadsides of the fleet.
Although the other fortifications at the entrance to Mobile Bay surrendered the day after the battle, it took more than Farragut's broadsides to reduce Fort Morgan.
A siege-train had to be brought from New Orleans and a land attack made by the troops under General Gordon Granger, August, 22, 1864.
Not till 3,000 missiles had been hurled into and around the Fort by the combined guns of the army and navy did the brave garrison of Fort Morgan surrender after a gallant defense of twelve hours. In the picture some of the damaging effects of the terrific gunnery of the fleet are evident in the sea wall. |
shells, until the whole face of the works began to take on the irregularity of the neighboring sand-dunes.
The troops, about fifteen hundred men under command of General Weitzel
, advanced their skirmish lines to within about seventy-five yards of the fort, capturing a small outwork and over two hundred men. By a personal reconnaissance, Weitzel
ascertained that the two days terrible bombardment by the fleet and the previous explosion of the powder-ship had done no practical injury to the parapets and interior.
He therefore reported to Butler
and to Admiral Porter
that the works could not be taken by assault.
That evening, General Butler
notified Admiral Porter
that he was convinced that it was impossible to take the Fort
by assault as the naval fire had not damaged the works, and that he proposed to withdraw all his men and return to Fortress Monroe
, which he did on the 27th.
This ended the first combined attempt against Fort Fisher
was much disappointed at Butler
's leaving him, and began to fear that the Confederates
would abandon Fort Fisher
and entrench themselves further up the river out of reach of his guns.
So he attempted to deceive his foe. “I thought it best,” he says, “under the circumstances, to let the enemy think we had abandoned the expedition entirely, and sent the fleet to a rendezvous off Beaufort
, one or two at a time, to look as if they were crippled.”
Evidently the Confederates
did not anticipate the early return of the fleet.
The supporting army was withdrawn to a point sixteen miles north of Wilmington
No lookout was kept up the coast, and, in consequence, the first tidings of the return were sent from Fort Fisher
itself, when, on the evening of the 12th of January, 1865, its few defenders saw from the ramparts the Federal fleet returning.
At that time there were but eight hundred men in the garrison, and about one hundred of them were unfit for duty.
The principal, and almost the only, organization represented was the Thirty-sixth North Carolina regiment.
to their astonished gaze a new and what appeared to them a more tremendous aggregation of fighting ships than before, with transports carrying troops.
General Alfred H. Terry
, with a force of about eight thousand men, had been assigned, this time, to the duty of cooperating with the fleet for the reduction of Fort Fisher
The fleet consisted of forty-nine vessels of the heaviest class, with six hundred and twenty-seven guns.
On the morning of the 13th, the fleet stood close in and engaged the batteries, whose guns replied under the same instructions as during the first bombardment: that is, to husband their ammunition by firing very slowly, except when necessary to concentrate on a special vessel.
During the day and night of the 13th, about seven hundred men arrived as reenforcements, making in all about fifteen hundred in the garrison.
The bombardment lasted during the 13th and 14th without abatement.
The Federal troops landed on the 13th at a point about four miles north of the fort, and nine days supplies were sent ashore with them.
The advance on the forts was commenced immediately.
When the sun rose on the 15th of December, the streams of shell from the vessels were redoubled, and before noon but one good gun was left on the land face of the fort.
By that time the casualties had increased so that the defense had less than twelve hundred men to hold the parapets.
Soon after noon a small reenforcement of about three hundred and fifty men, sent by Bragg
, succeeded in reaching the works.
The defenders could see the assaulting columns getting ready to deliver their attack.
A column of sailors and marines was making its way toward the sea face, to cooperate with the infantry on the land side.
In the mean time, the assault on the land face by the infantry was pushed strongly over the works into the interior, taking one section after another against a most obstinate defense.
was badly wounded, as was General Whiting
, the district commander, who was present but had
waived his rank and was assisting the Confederate
commander in keeping the troops in hand.
Owing to the strong construction of the interior of the fort, and its division by the heavy traverses, the Federals
were compelled to take the traverses one at a time, driving the Confederates
from gun-chamber to gun-chamber.
The final stand was made by part of the , garrison at Battery Buchanan, near the end of the point.
But this was also taken.
None of the guns of the main Fort was spiked, the men fighting the serviceable ones until the last extremity, but those of Battery Buchanan were spiked by the few occupants, who had left the work before the surrender of Fort Fisher
, taking with them all the boats that might have served for the escape of a large part of the remaining garrison.
Shortly after ten o'clock in the evening of January 15, 1865, resistance ceased in Fort Fisher
, and the place was surrendered.
The defenses of the city of Mobile
had been pronounced by General Joseph E. Johnston
the strongest in the Confederacy
To guard the city itself there were three heavy lines, the outer consisting of fifteen redoubts, the inner of sixteen enclosed forts, and the middle one of nineteen bastioned forts and eight redoubts.
The harbor forts were designed to sustain attacks on both the land and water fronts.
On the eastern side lay Fort Morgan
, at Mobile Point
, and on the western side Fort Gaines
, on Dauphine Island; while Fort Powell guarded the bay entrance of Grant Pass, that admitted small boats north of Dauphine Island.
Just below the city were ten batteries, placed to command the channel.
Torpedoes and rows of piles blocked the channels, with here and there an opening through which a vessel might crawl.
and Fort Gaines
had been United States
fortifications, but were taken by the Confederates
at the beginning of the war. Morgan
had sixty guns, with a water battery in front, and Gaines
was armed with thirty guns.
Besides these land defenses, the Confederates
had the ram Tennessee
, probably the most powerful vessel ever constructed for their
The “Monongahela” --a fearless wooden ship
To this “heart of oak” belongs the distinction of being the first vessel to ram the huge Confederate ironclad “Tennessee.”
After Farragut, crying, “Damn the torpedoes!”
had astounded both the Confederates and his own fleet by running the “Hartford” right through the line of submarine volcanoes, the “Tennessee” moved down with the intention of ramming the wooden ships in turn.
She missed the “Hartford” and then the “Richmond,” which escaped across the line of torpedoes like the flagship.
In attempting to ram the “Lackawanna,” the Confederate ironclad swung abeam of the channel, exposing her side full and fair to the “Monongahela,” which had been fitted with an artificial iron prow.
Commander Strong endeavored to seize the opportunity to ram; but, owing to the fact that the “Kennebec” was lashed to her side, the “Monongahela” could not attain full speed, and only a glancing blow was struck.
Later, when the “Tennessee” came up single-handed to attack the fleet above the forts, Farragut ordered the wooden vessels to try the effect of ramming the ironclad.
Again the “Monongahela” was the first to advance to the attack and succeeded in striking the “Tennessee” fair amidships.
So violent was the shock that many of the men on both vessels were knocked down.
The blow, which would have sunk any vessel in the Federal fleet, did no more harm to the “Tennessee” than it did to the “Monongahela.”
Her iron prow was wrenched off and the butt-ends of her bow planks were shattered, while only a small leak was started in the “Tennessee.”
Government, and a number of well-armed wooden vessels.
They added immensely to the defensive strength of the city.
General Gordon Granger
landed on Dauphine Island, on the 3d of August, 1864, with fifteen hundred men and moved up to Fort Gaines
Entrenchments were thrown up before the works on the 4th, and arrangements made to cooperate with Farragut
's fleet, which was to enter the harbor the next morning, in order to close the port of Mobile
and destroy the great ram Tennessee
. At six o'clock in the morning, Farragut
's powerful fleet of eighteen vessels entered the main channel.
The Federal ships were all thoroughbred war vessels; not a single one but what was built for the service.
They swept on to the attack with four monitors in the starboard column, close inshore.
As they passed the Fort
and water batteries, where the Brooklyn
came very nearly going aground, they completely smothered the Confederate
, under the command of Captain T. A. M. Craven
, was sunk by a torpedo as the fleet advanced.
, unable to see through the smoke, went up the mainmast almost as high as the maintop.
While here, a quartermaster fastened a rope around him to keep him from falling.
But if deeds of bravery are to be mentioned in telling of Mobile Bay
, much credit must be given to the small Confederate gunboats, Morgan
, and Selma
, that kept up a raking fire which caused great havoc among the advancing vessels.
To the great ram Tennessee
and the magnificent fight that she fought, honor is due also.
Her engines were hastily constructed, and of insufficient strength.
She charged through the whole line; the Hartford
dodged her, although it had been the desire of brave old Admiral Buchanan
's heart to sink the flagship.
had a narrow escape, and the Monongahela
, under Commander James H. Strong
, attempted to ram the Tennessee
, and drove, bows on, against her side; the blow hardly changed the great ram's direction.
attempted to follow the Monongahela's
lead, but the Tennessee
Leaders on sea and land — Farragut and Granger after the battle of Mobile Bay
This splendid picture shows the calm and finely-molded features of the great admiral just after the accomplishment of a feat which save in bravery o'er-topped his great achievement of the passage of the forts below New Orleans.
There Farragut had done what was pronounced impossible, but at Mobile he had fought his way through dangers ten times more formidable.
Here, with the modesty which ever characterized him, he sits within the captured Fort Gaines on Dauphin Island, discussing with General Gordon Granger plans for the combined attack by which Fort Morgan was taken on August 22, 1864.
It was to Granger that Mobile finally surrendered. |
passed between them, and made for the Oneida
, which was not under steerageway.
It was at this exciting moment that the monitors drew up, and the Winnebago
, forging ahead, took her position between the ram and her seemingly helpless prey.
The Federal vessels had been hampered, in a measure, by being lashed side by side in couples, in the way that Farragut
had run the batteries at Port Hudson
, but now having passed the forts they began to cast off their lashings.
Enabled, in the broader water, to maneuver and use their broadsides, they drove the little Confederate fleet before them, the Selma
surrendering to the Metacomet
, the Gaines
being disabled and soon in flames.
sought the protection of Fort Morgan
, and during the night steamed ahead to the inner harbor and anchored under the batteries protecting the city of Mobile
The Federal vessels, being now out of range of the forts, dropped anchor and their crews were sent to breakfast.
It was a meal that was never finished.
, who had passed through the whole Union line, stopped under the protecting guns of Fort Morgan
and looked back up the bay. Turning to Commander Johnston
, the brave old admiral, who had taught many of the commanders of the ships opposed to him their lessons in naval tactics, said, “Follow them up, Johnston
; we can't let them off that way.”
On came the Tennessee
, one vessel against the entire Federal fleet!
Signals flew from the flagship; the monitors were given orders to come into close action, and the Monongahela, Lackawanna
, and Ossipee
, which had false iron prows, were ordered to prepare to ram. The Tennessee
was as unwieldy as a raft of logs; she made no attempt to dodge the blows of her more agile antagonists.
struck her square amidships, with the only result that she carried away her own bow, and the Lackawanna
, striking the Tennessee
on the other side, suffered likewise.
The Confederate ram was uninjured.
came bearing down upon her now; the ships met almost bows
on, but the Hartford's
anchor acted as a fender, and with their port sides touching, the two vessels scraped by each other.
The solid 9-inch shot from the Federal
flagship bounded off the Tennessee's
sloping sides; she attempted to fire her broadside battery in turn, but her primers failed, and only one shot pierced the Hartford's
side, exploding on the berth-deck, wounding an officer and killing several men.
In attempting to make a quick turn, with the object of again ramming, the Hartford
came into collision with the Lackawanna;
it was a narrow escape, for almost under the spot where Farragut
was standing, the flagship was cut down within two feet of the water-line.
But now the monitors came up. From this minute on to the time that the Tennessee
hauled down her flag, she never fired a shot and was literally hammered into submission.
Even after the flag was lowered, the Ossipee
, that had started another ramming charge and could not stop in time, struck her a slight blow.
At the same moment the commanders of the two vessels recognized each other and passed a friendly hail.
For over an hour the one-sided fight had been maintained.
had lost two killed and nine wounded, and the Union fleet, in passing the forts and in the subsequent actions with the gunboats and the ram, had fifty-two killed and one hundred and seventy wounded. There were ninety-three lost by the sinking of the Tecumseh
Fort Powell had been evacuated on the 5th, and Fort Gaines
did not long survive the catastrophe to Buchanan
The siege was pressed, and the Confederates
, appreciating that resistance was useless, asked for a truce to arrange terms of surrender.
The arrangements were made on the 7th, and the surrender took place on the 8th.
The next day, General Granger
moved his command, reenforced by three new regiments, across the bay, landing at Navy Cove
, four miles from Fort Morgan
, on the bay side of Mobile Point
Each succeeding night slight advances were
made and entrenchments dug, carrying the advance closer to the fort.
A siege-train arrived, and by the 21st, twenty-five siege-and naval-guns and sixteen mortars were emplaced under the severe fire from the fort.
The bombardment by the batteries, both ashore and afloat, began at daylight on the 22d and continued all that day and during the following night.
All the guns of the Fort
except two were disabled, and the walls breached in several places.
By morning it was evident to General Page
that a further resistance was useless.
At 6 A. M. on the 23d, the garrison ran up a white flag.
The entire bay was now in the hands of the Federals
, but the city of Mobile
had not yet fallen.
It was supposed by some that the city could be taken at pleasure, but the opportunity of immediate occupation slipped by, and General Dabney H. Maury
collected a sufficient force of Confederate troops in the fortifications around the city to require the operations of a regular siege.
Nothing was done until General Grant
, on the 19th of January, 1865, ordered General Canby
to move against Selma
, in order to destroy the railroads and prevent the Confederates
from bringing the remains of Hood
's army against Sherman
, who was about to begin his march through the Carolinas.
The general-in-chief suggested that Mobile Bay
would be the best point to move from if the city could be captured without too much delay, and General Canby
determined to make the attempt.
He was at New Orleans, and the forces that had operated against the forts around lower Mobile Bay
had been detached from his command.
He decided to use these in an attack from the east, on account of the strength of the lines encircling the city on the west.
Accordingly, he moved about thirty-two thousand men against Spanish Fort
, on the bay shore at the mouth of the Apalachee River
, seven miles due east of the city.
The movement began on the 17th of March, and by the 8th of April the Federals
had ninety guns in position and Spanish Fort
closely invested, aided by as many of the
The navy lost lieutenant Samuel W. Preston
This brave and promising young officer was an ardent advocate of the effectiveness of land detachments of sailors and marines against forts.
At Fort Fisher came the coveted opportunity and Preston paid for his belief in it with his life.
The heavy loss on the beach cast a gloom over the navy despite the success of the assaulting column of soldiers under General Terry.
Ensign (now Rear-Admiral) Robley D. Evans was one of those severely wounded.
The 200-pounder Parrott gun above was the forward pivot-gun of the “Wabash” and did as much damage in the bombardments of Fort Fisher as any other single gun in the fleet.
The gun-crew that served it was composed of picked men and every effective shot aroused hearty cheers. |
gunboats under Admiral Thatcher
as could get up within range.
On the evening of the 8th, the Federal
troops got a foothold in the works, and that night the garrison retreated.
, north of Spanish Fort
on the Apalachee
, and also blocking one of the passes into the city by water from the head of the bay, was invested by a column of thirteen thousand men from Pensacola
, under General Frederick Steele
The investment began on April 2d, and the Fort
was carried by a general assault in which thirty-four hundred prisoners were taken, on the 9th. Fort Tracy and Fort Huger, the two remaining works guarding the east of the city, were evacuated on the night of the 10th.
The way was thus opened for the fleet, and after clearing the channels of torpedoes, with which the bay was filled, and which caused in the end the destruction of two ironclads, one tin-clad, a wooden gunboat, and several tugs, with a loss of over fifty men, the fleet moved up to the city, and General Granger
was sent to take possession.
On the afternoon and night of April 11th he moved with two divisions of his corps to Starke's Landing where the forces embarked the next morning for Catfish Point
, five miles below Mobile
The city was finally in Federal hands by noon of the 12th. General Maury
evacuated the lines and retreated northward.
As soon as all concerned learned that Lee
had surrendered, the Confederate forces throughout Alabama
, and eastern Louisiana
gave up their arms on May 4th.
At the same time Commodore Farrand
agreed to surrender his fleet to Admiral Thatcher
, and the terms were carried out on the 10th, when the vessels were turned over to Fleet-Captain Simpson
at Nanna Hubba Bluff on the Tombigbee River
received four vessels, one hundred and twelve officers and three hundred and thirty men. The surrender of the Trans-Mississippi army and navy took place on the 26th of May, the last ships of the Confederate Navy being turned over to Admirals Thatcher
of the West Gulf