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Land operations against Mobile.

by Richard B. Irwin, Lieutenant-Colonel and Assistant Adjutant-General, U. S. V.
In the last days of July, 1864, General E. R. S. Canby sent General Gordon Granger1 with 1800 men from New Orleans to cooperate with Admiral Farragut. On August 3d Granger landed on Dauphine Island, and the next morning, the appointed time, was in position before Fort Gaines.

At once crossing the bay, now held by Farragut's fleet, Granger landed in the rear of Fort Morgan and began a siege. A siege train was sent from New Orleans, and three more regiments of infantry. On the 22d of August, twenty-five guns and sixteen mortars being in [411] position,2 a general bombardment by the army and the fleet began at daylight. At 6 o'clock the next morning, the 23d, the white flag was shown, and the fort surrendered at 2:30 P. M. About five hundred prisoners were taken and about fifty guns.3

After Thomas had overthrown Hood at Nashville (December 16th, 1864), Grant ordered him to follow Hood south, but when in January the badness of the roads stopped the movement at Eastport, Grant detached A. J. Smith with the reorganized Sixteenth Corps4 and sent him to join Canby at New Orleans. In anticipation of this, on the 18th of January, Grant ordered Canby to move against Mobile. The main lines of fortification, three in number, and very strong, being on the western side, Canby determined to approach Mobile on the east, where he would have the full benefit of the cooperation of the navy, and the principal works he would have to reduce were Spanish Fort commanding the mouth, and Blakely commanding the head of the Appalachee, where the Tensas leaves it.

The movement was made in two columns: one from Dauphine Island, under Canby himself, the other from Pensacola, under Major-General Frederick Steele. Canby's own force was about 32,000 strong, and consisted of Veatch's and Benton's divisions and Bertram's brigade of the reorganized Thirteenth Corps,5 under Major-General Gordon Granger, the Sixteenth Corps, under A. J. Smith, and a siege train under Brigadier-General Richard Arnold, chief-of-artillery. Steele's force was composed of C. C. Andrews's division of the Thirteenth Corps (except Bertram's brigade), Hawkins's division of colored troops, and Lucas's brigade of cavalry, and numbered 13,000. When united, Canby had 45,000 men of all arms. Mobile was defended by about ten thousand6 troops, with three hundred field and siege guns, commanded by Major-General Dabney H. Maury; there were also five gun-boats7 under Commodore Ebenezer Farrand.

Canby's movement began on the 17th of March. The Sixteenth Corps moved by water from Fort Gaines; the Thirteenth Corps marched from Fort Morgan. Uniting at Danley's Ferry, near the mouth of Fish River, they laid siege to Spanish Fort on the 27th of March. Smith, with Carr's and McArthur's divisions, held the right, and Granger, with Benton's and Veatch's8 divisions and Bertram's brigade, the left of the Federal line. From left to right the defense was upheld by the brigades of Ector, Holtzclaw, and Gibson. By the 8th of April the trenches were well advanced and a bombardment was begun by ninety guns in position, joined by all the gun-boats within range. In the evening a lodgment was effected on the right of the Confederate lines, and during the night the garrison made good its retreat, with the loss of about 500 prisoners captured. Nearly fifty guns fell into the possession of the besiegers.

Steele set out from Pensacola on the 20th of March, and, as if Montgomery were his object, moved first to Pollard on the Escambia, fifty miles to the northward of Pensacola. There he turned toward Mobile, and on the 1st of April, after a march of a hundred miles over very bad roads, deployed before Blakely. His supplies had run so short that Veatch's division of the Thirteenth Corps had to be sent out on the 31st of March with a commissary train of seventy-five wagons. The siege of Blakely began on the 2d of April. From left to right the lines of attack were held by Garrard's division of the Sixteenth Corps, Veatch's and Andrews's of the Thirteenth Corps, and Hawkins's colored division. Thomas's brigade of “boy reserves” had the right, and Cockrell's division the left, of the defenses. On the afternoon of the 9th, twenty-eight guns being in position, and Spanish Fort having fallen, the Confederate works were captured by a general assault of 16,000 men; 3423 prisoners were taken and more than forty guns.

Forts Tracy and Huger, two small works, were evacuated and blown up on the night of the 11th.

The rivers were swept for torpedoes; the fleet gained the rear of Mobile by the Blakely and Tensas; and Granger crossed the bay under convoy and entered the city on the morning of the 12th, Maury having marched out with the remainder of his force, numbering 4500 infantry and artillery, together with twenty-seven fieldpieces and all his transportation.9

Maury retreated to Meridian, the cavalry sent out from Pensacola to cut him off being prevented by high water from crossing the Alabama and Tombigbee. Meanwhile Wilson, with a reorganized and freshly equipped force of 12,500 cavalry, setting out from the Tennessee on the 18th of March, had completely defeated Forrest and taken Selma, with its fortifications, foundries, and workshops, on the 2d of April, and entered Montgomery on the day Canby gained Mobile.

On the news of Johnston's capitulation Taylor surrendered to Canby, on the 4th of May, 1865, at Citronelle, all the remaining forces of the Confederacy east of the Mississippi; on the 26th Kirby Smith followed with the Trans-Mississippi, and the war was ended.

1 General Granger relinquished the command of the Fourth Corps, Army of the Cumuberland, April 10th, 1864, and, on June 21st, was ordered to report to General Canby.--editors.

2 Manned by the 1st Indiana Heavy Artillery, 38th Iowa, Rawles's battery, 5th U. S., and a naval detachment under Lieutenant Tyson, of the Hartford. General Richard Arnold was the chief-of-artillery.--R. B. I.

3 General Grant, in his official report, says: “The total captures [at the three forts] amounted to 1464 prisoners and 104 pieces of artillery.”--editors.

4 The original Sixteenth Corps, constituted December 18th, 1862, and first commanded by Major-General S. A. Hurlbut, was broken up November 7th, 1864. It was reorganized February 18th, 1865, under Major-General Andrew J. Smith.--editors.

5 The original Thirteenth Corps, constituted October 24th and December 18th, 1862, and first commanded by Grant, afterward by McClernand, was broken up June 11th, 1864. The new corps was organized February 18th, 1865.--editors.

6 Or 9200 enlisted men “effective,” which is General Maury's estimate.--editors.

7 Including the Morgan, the partly completed iron-clads Tuscaloosa and Huntsville, and the steamers Nashville and Baltic.--editors.

8 Till March 30th.--editors.

9 The Union loss during these operations was 189 killed, 1201 wounded, and 27 captured,--a total of 1417. General Randall L. Gibson, the Confederate commander at Spanish Fort, reported a loss of 93 killed, 395 wounded, and 250 missing.--editors.

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