previous next

[526] but when the record of this expedition is overhauled, the names of Commander R. Townsend, commanding Essex; Lieutenant Commander S. L. Phelps, Eastport; Lieutenant Commander Watson Smith, Chillicothe, (temporarily;) Lieutenant Commander K. R. Breese, Black Hawk; Lieutenant Commander J. P. Foster, La Fayette; Lieutenant Commander J. A. Greer, Benton; Lieutenant Commander E. K. Owen, Louisville; Lieutenant Commander J. G. Mitchell, Carondelet; Lieutenant Commander F. M. Ramsay, Choctaw; Lieutenant Commander T. O. Selfridge, Osage; Lieutenant Commander Byron Wilson, Ouachita; Lieutenant Commander Geo. M. Bache, Lexington; Lieutenant Commander S. W. Terry, Benefit, (naval transport;) Acting Volunteer Lieutenant W. R. Hoel, Pittsburgh; Acting Volunteer Lieutenant Samuel Howard, Neosho; Acting Volunteer Lieutenant George W. Browne, Ozark; Acting Volunteer Lieutenant A. R. Langthorne, Mound City; Acting Volunteer Lieutenant John Pearce, Fort Hindman; Acting Master H. H. Gorringe, Cricket; Acting Master J. S. Watson, Juliet; Acting Master Charles Thatcher, Gazelle — should stand prominent, having zealously performed every thing required of them, with an ability deserving of the highest praise.

I deem it necessary to send to you a bearer of despatches, who will explain to you fully the condition of the fleet.

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

David Porter, Rear-Admiral. Hon. Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy, Washington, D. C.

Perilous situation of the fleet.

flag-ship Cricket, Mississippi Squadron, below Grand Ecore, La., April 28, 1864.
sir: In my last communication I informed you of the sinking of the Eastport by a torpedo about eight miles below Grand Ecore. The moment I heard of it, I went down to Alexandria, and sent a despatch-vessel for our two steam pump-boats; one was coming over the falls as I passed down, and the other fortunately came in sight an hour afterward. They were both sent up and set to work to raise the sunken vessel. She was so much shattered in the bottom that I almost despaired of effecting any thing. The same day that the boats arrived up, General Banks gave orders for the army to prepare to move on to Alexandria, and as Grand Ecore was only four miles from us by land, the chances were that the rebels would mount numerous artillery on the bluff close at hand, and prevent our working. Nevertheless we went to work, and proceeded until the vessel was raised, the pumps working all the time, and we unable to get at the leak. Lieutenant Commander Phelps worked with great perseverance, coolness, and patience under these unpleasant circumstances. The same day the army moved, we moved down with the Eastport with her own steam, and one steam-pump alongside of her, barely keeping her free, and the leak not discovered. We started very fair, and made in a few hours twenty miles down river, having sent convoy to bring down the transports, which were taken safely to Alexandria. But the Eastport got out of the channel, and it seems impossible to move her ahead. Every thing that man can do, has been done, and I shall persevere until attacked here, or until the falling water endangers the other vessels. There will be but one course for me to pursue, that is, to perform the painful duty of destroying the Eastport, to prevent her falling into the enemy's hands. I have no certainty of getting her down as far as Alexandria; the water has fallen too much to leave her here, with our army retreating to Alexandria, and with twenty-five thousand rebels (if victorious) assailing us at every point. We can fight them to the last. At this time, the rebels are following our army, and the artillery and musketry can be heard quite distinctly. We do not know the result. Had the army held Grand Ecore a fortnight, we would with certainty have saved the vessel, and will do so now, if we can find water to get her down. She has a great deal of water in her, which increases her draught and makes her very heavy; her pumps cannot get it all out, nor can we find the place where she is injured. The unfortunate issue of this expedition has thrown the gunboats into a bad predicament. When I came up here, the water was rising, and all our vessels navigated the river to Grand Ecore with ease, and with some of them I reached Springfield Landing, the place designated by General Banks for the gunboats to meet the army. My part was successfully accomplished; the failure of the army to proceed, and the retreat back to Grand Ecore, left me almost at the mercy of the enemy. Fortunately we got through without any accident or serious disaster from the enemy's fire. I soon saw that the army would go to Alexandria again, and we would be left above the bar in a helpless condition. I went to work immediately to get the heavy boats below, which I succeeded in doing by great exertions on the part of the commanders. I kept the lighter-draught vessels to cover the army if they should need it, and to take the transports down safely; all of which was done. The vessels are mostly at Alexandria, above the falls, excepting this one and two others I kept to protect the Eastport. When the rebels heard we had arrived at Grand Ecore, they commenced turning the source of water supply off into the lakes, which would have been remedied, had the army succeeded in getting to Shreveport. I cannot blame myself for coming up at the only season when the water rises. All the rivers are full and rising, but the Red River is falling at the rate of two inches a day — a most unusual occurrence — this river always being full until the middle of June. Whether we will yet have a rise, it would be impossible for any one to foresee. It seems like an impossibility that we could be caught in such a predicament in the time of rising water, but such may be the case. If General Banks should determine to evacuate this country, the gunboats will be cut off from all

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 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.
April 28th, 1864 AD (1)
June (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: