concluded, as I was here a part of the time, and in sight of the place all the time, quorum fui pars, to give you some reminiscences of it; now that the smoke of battle has entirely cleared away, the enemy have gone out of the country, and we can ascertain definitely what has taken place. I have been informed by one of our prominent officers here, who was in Fort Anderson and in the fight all the time, that our loss was fourteen killed and forty-four wounded. As the rebels carried off most of their dead and wounded, it is impossible to ascertain their exact loss; but it must have been enormous. This officer told the writer that our artillery mowed them down, making lanes through their ranks, which, however, were immediately closed up by others. I was told that as many as thirty dead were counted in one heap and nineteen in another! Forrest, in his retreat, told a lady in the country where he stopped (who related it to my informant, one of our officers on a scout) that he lost three hundred killed and one thousand wounded; and as these rebel officers generally diminish instead of exaggerate their losses, his loss must have been greater — probably four hundred killed, and one thousand two hundred or one thousand five hundred wounded, as their wounded were said to have been strewn along the road, at almost every house on it, and they were engaged all night in hauling them away along the road. Many must have been killed by our shells, which were thrown into almost every part of the town; and many were shot in houses from which the rebel sharp-shooters fired upon our men on the gunboats and in the Fort. I was told by the officer first referred to above, that he counted as many as fifteen bodies in one house, and more or less of their dead were found in almost every house burnt. Not only Forrest himself, but some of his officers, (and I have it from the persons to whom it was said,) confessed that they had been deceived by their friends here, in reference to the strength of the Fort and the number of the garrison. They had been told that the works were weak and not at all formidable; and that the Fort was manned by some two hundred or three hundred soldiers, and a few raw recruits of the Seventeenth Kentucky cavalry, without arms, and would be nothing to take! I was personally well acquainted, and had been for several years before the rebellion, with the rebel General (formerly Colonel) Albert P. Thompson, who was killed while leading a charge on the Fort, within some forty yards of it. He was a prominent and popular lawyer of Paducah, and district-attorney, before the rebellion. When that broke out he joined the rebel army; and was promoted until he reached the rank of Colonel, when he received a severe wound in the neck at the rebel attack on Baton Rouge, Louisiana, from which he recovered. He was then promoted to the command (not rank, as I have been informed) of Brigadier-General in the rebel army, under Forrest He appeared to have been killed by a shell, which exploded as it struck him, and tore his body literally to pieces. It is a remarkable coincidence that he lost his life by war in the tragical manner he did, at the very place where he began his military career. Forrest is said to have been at the house of a prominent citizen here, when he received Colonel Hicks's reply to his demand for a surrender of the Fort, and remarked: “Damn him! I came here to take the place, and, by God! I mean to do it.” So that it is useless for the rebels and their sympathizers to say now, in order to cover over his disastrous defeat, that he came to obtain goods and supplies for his men. and merely made feints or demonstrations on the Fort to keep our men in it, until the rebels could obtain what they wanted and get off with it, and did not care about taking the Fort. They evidently came to take the Fort and town, if they could, and had they succeeded, they would have shot all the colored soldiers and their officers, held the place as long as they could, and stripped it of every thing valuable to them which they could have carried off. I have it, on good authority, that Forrest said his men had been in fifty fights before, but this was the severest and most disastrous repulse he had ever met with. Although he carried off all the horses and mules he could find, stripping the livery-stables without any regard to the loyalty or disloyalty of the owners, and a great deal of plunder, the raid has cost him dearly — far more than any advantages he has gained by it. Some are fearful of another attack by the rebels, but I think there is little danger, and that their dear-bought “experience” will be sufficient to prevent a repetition. They would, no doubt, have plundered the town of a great deal more than they did, perhaps as much again, but the gunboats soon made the place too hot to hold them. As proof of this, the stores of some of the strongest and most ultra Union men in the place were not touched, while they took thousands of dollars' worth of goods from those of men considered rebel sympathizers, and some of them the strongest in the place. I must now speak of our own men. Colonel S. G. Hicks, the commander of this post, whose bravery and skill as an officer had been tested on battle-fields before, and who was wounded at Shiloh, deserves the highest praise for his gallant and heroic defence of the forts with a little handful of men — his whole force, including about two hundred and fifty colored soldiers, under command of Lieutenant-Colonel Richard Cunningham, amounting to not more than one thousand men in all, only half of whom fought at a time — and certainly deserves promotion to a brigadiership. Major W. L. Gibson, our Provost-Marshal, who had fought in the war with Mexico with great credit to himself, and who was at Donelson, Shiloh, and on other battle-fields, fought with his usual distinguished coolness, calmness, and bravery; and Colonel Cunningham, with brilliant daring and heroic courage; and the colored soldiers generally with the greatest enthusiasm and bravery, emulating the white soldiers and conducting themselves well all the
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
Doc . 3 .-attack on the defences of Mobile .
Surrender of Fort Powell .
Battle of Olustee .
Battle of Pleasant Hill .
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.