well as I remember, in these words: “Negotiations will not attain the desired object.” As the officers who were in charge of the Federal flag of truce had expressed a doubt as to my presence, and had pronounced the demand a trick, I handed them back a note, saying: “I am General Forrest. Go back and say to Major Booth that I demand an answer in plain, unmistakable English: Will he fight or surrender?” Returning to my original position, before the expiration of twenty minutes I received a reply, copy of which is marked No. 4. While these negotiations were pending, the steamers from below were rapidly approaching the Fort; the foremost was the Olive Branch, whose position and movements indicated her intention to land. A few shots fired into her caused her to leave the shore and make for the opposite one. Other boats passed up on the bar side of the river; the third one turned back. The time having expired, I directed Brigadier-General Chalmers to prepare for the assault. Bell's brigade occupied the right, with his extreme right resting on Coal Creek. McCullock's brigade occupied the left, extending from the centre to the river. Three companies of his left regiment were placed in an old rifle-pit on the left and almost in the rear of the Fort, which had evidently been thrown up for the protection of sharp-shooters or riflemen in supporting the water-batteries below. On the right, a portion of Barton's regiment of Bell's brigade, was also under the bluff and in the rear of the Fort. I despatched staff-officers to Colonels Ball and McCullock, commanding brigades, to say to them that I should watch with interest the conduct of the troops; that Missourians, Mississippians, and Tennesseans surrounded the works, and I desired to see who would first scathe the Fort. Fearing the gunboat and transport might attempt a landing, I directed my aid-de-camp, Captain Charles W. Anderson, to assume command of the three companies on the left and rear of the Fort, and hold the position against any thing that might come by land or water, but to take no part in the assault on the Fort. Every thing being ready, the bugle sounded the charge, which was made with a yell, and the works carried, without a perceptible halt in any part of the line, As our troops mounted and poured into the fortifications, the enemy retreated toward the river, arms in hand, and firing back, and their colors flying — no doubt expecting the gunboats to shell us away from the bluff and protect them, until they could be taken off or reenforced. As they descended the bank an enfilading and deadly fire was poured into them, by the troops under Captain Anderson on the left, and Barton's detachment on the right. Until this fire was opened upon them, at a distance varying from thirty to one hundred yards, they were evidently ignorant of any force having gained their rear. The regiments which had stormed and carried the Fort, also poured a destructive fire into the rear of the retreating and now panic-stricken and almost decimated garrison. Fortunately for those who survived this short but desperate struggle, some of our men cut off the halyards, and the United States flag floating from a tall mast in the centre of the Fort, came down; the forces stationed in the rear of the fort could see the flag, but were too far under the bluff to see the Fort, and when the flag descended they ceased firing; but for this, so near were they to the enemy, that few, if any, would have survived unhurt another volley. As it was, many rushed into the river and were drowned, and the actual loss of life will, perhaps, never be known, as there were quite a number of refugee citizens in the Fort, many of whom were drowned and several killed in the retreat from the Fort. In less than twenty minutes from the time the bugles sounded the charge, firing had ceased, and the work was done. One of the Parrott guns was turned on the gunboat. She steamed off without replying. She had, as I afterward understood, expended all her ammunition, and was, therefore, powerless in affording the Federal garrison the aid and protection they doubtless expected of her, when they retreated toward the river. Details were made, consisting of the captured Federals and negroes in charge of their own officers, to collect together and bury their dead, which work continued until dark. I also directed Captain Anderson to procure a skiff and take with him Captain Young, a captured Federal officer, and deliver to Captain Marshall, of the gunboat, the message — copy of which is appended, and numbered 5. All the boats and skiffs having been taken off by citizens escaping from the Fort during the engagement, the message could not be delivered, although every effort was made to induce Captain Marshall to send his boat ashore by raising a white flag, with which Captain Young walked up and down the river, in vain, signalling her to come in, or send out a boat. She finally moved off, and disappeared around the bend above the Fort. General Gilmore withdrew his forces from the Fort before dark, and camped a few miles east of it. On the morning of the thirteenth, I again despatched Captain Anderson to Fort Pillow, for the purpose of placing, if possible, the Federal wounded on board their transports, and report to me, on his return, the condition of affairs at the river. I respectfully refer you to his report, numbered 6. My loss in the engagement was twenty killed and sixty wounded. That of the enemy unknown; two hundred and twenty-eight were buried on the evening of the battle, and quite a number were buried the next day by detail from the gunboat fleet. We captured six pieces of artillery, namely, two ten-pounder Parrott guns, two twelve-pounder howitzers, and two brass six-pounder guns, and about three hundred and fifty stand of small-arms. The balance of the small-arms had been thrown into the river. All the small-arms were picked up where the enemy
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.