Doc. 34. attack on Santa Rosa Island. October 9, 1861.
Colonel Brown's report.
P. S.--I have seen a Pensacola paper, which gives their loss as follows: killed, twenty-one; wounded, thirty-eight; prisoners, twenty-two; which probably is not one-fourth their actual loss. General Anderson is severely wounded.
Colonel Wilson's report.
Captain Norman's statement.The following account of the engagement was furnished by Captain Norman, of the Wilson Zouaves: On the morning of the 9th of October, at three o'clock, it being pitchy dark, the attack was made. On the evening previous to the fight the rebels landed five hundred men on the lower part of the island, and on the same evening two steamboats were noticed to leave Warrenton, which circumstances had the effect of putting the Zouaves a little on their guard. On the muster being called, but two hundred and fifteen of the Zouaves were reported ready for immediate action, several companies of the regiment being sent to Tortugas and intermediate localities. Colonel Wilson and Lieutenant-Colonel Creighton were on the island, however, with their handful of men. The steamboats, with the rebels on board, proceeded to a point three miles below the camp, and succeeded in landing one thousand more men, thus leaving the rebel attacking force on the island, one thousand five hundred in all, the whole under command of General Anderson of the rebel army. They remained under cover of night in this locality up to two o'clock in the morning, when they made a sudden and furious onslaught on the Zouaves. The night was dark and lowering, so that a man could scarcely be distinguished twenty yards ahead. Not a sound was heard save the regular tramp of the pickets and the voice of command as it rang through the silent night air. The movements of the rebels were conducted with the greatest caution, and the Zouaves little imagined so incensed and blood-thirsty a foe was so near them, panting for their blood, until the first shot was fired, which instantly aroused the camp. Onward, however, through the gloom of the hour the attacking party came, certain of an easy victory. They formed in three columns: one on the right taking the Gulf shore, one in the centre taking centre column, and one on the left taking Pensacola Bay shore. Previous to this order of march, five rebels were detailed to challenge each picket, and stop their voices forever should they give the alarm too soon. This movement was effectually done, almost at the same instant of time; but the rebels found that, though they had five of their men against one of the Union pickets, yet they had to cope with soldiers and heroes, for the pickets fought with dogged obstinacy. The ground was contested foot by foot, and a hand-to-hand conflict was going on in the mean time. The main body was now fast approaching. Colonel Wilson had his little party of men drawn up in line of battle, expecting the attack to be made on the right, but he, unfortunately, was deceived on this point, it being commenced on the left. About one hundred and fifty men of the regular army had joined the Zouaves from the fort, so that the whole force actually engaged was three hundred and sixty-five, pitted in deadly strife against fifteen hundred rebels. As the right column was coming up and rounding the hospital, private Scott was challenged by Captain Bradford, of the rebel army, whose men, without waiting for a reply, shot Scott dead on the spot. The gallant soldier fell without a groan. The rebels then sent a volley through the surgeon's tent, but finding they were attacking tile hospital, orders were at once given to march toward the camp. By this time the left wing of the enemy had succeeded in entering the camp of the Zouaves, and now came the most terrible and exciting part of the conflict. Tile pickets being engaged with the right and centre columns of the enemy, and the main body of the Union troops expecting an attack on the right, the left wing of the assailants entered the camp almost without a shot being fired. The enemy then fired a murderous volley into the gallant band, which was returned with unerring aim, causing havoc and confusion among the rebels. The Zouaves, however, so sudden was the attack, were thrown into confusion, but speedily rallied by the efforts of their officers. The fighting was now conducted with a desperation on the part of the Wilson boys. They, however, did not fight with regard to order. Bush fighting was the mode adopted, and several of the Zouaves were seen to hold their ground against treble their number of opponents for over an entire hour. Various were the acts of daring and impetuous valor displayed in this unequal contest by the Federal troops. Lieutenant Baker, of Company F,. distinguished himself bravely throughout the whole struggle. Colonel Wilson fought valiantly. Captain Norman was cut off three times by the rebels from the main body, and would have been taken prisoner but for his cool and determined bravery. But for the steady action of the entire force they would no doubt have been cut to pieces. Capt. Hildt, of the regular army, with but eighty men under his command, it is conceded, did the most service of any officer in the action. When the fighting first commenced, he ordered his company to march down upon tile island, taking the left of the battle. When about a half mile from the camp, he was met by some seven hundred of the enemy, when the most spirited part of the entire conflict began. The little band of eighty men at once attacked the  seven hundred, and succeeded in cutting their way through them. The superiority of the Union forces was well attested on this occasion. The command of Captain Hildt were all regular troops to be sure, but then they were pitted against nearly nine times their own number--nine men to one! At this period of the engagement, the rebel General Anderson ordered the retreat to be sounded. When this was done the rebels fell into immediate confusion. The cause of the retreat being sounded appears to be a misconception as to the position of the Union forces, the rebels thinking that they were in their front instead of in their rear. If the Unionists were in their front, between them and the mode of escape from the island, it would be quite natural that in retreating toward the shore they should overwhelm their assailants. But this mistake proved the defeat of the rebels. In retreating they ran to the right of the island, where they were met by a body of regular troops under command of Adjutant Seely. Running to the left, they also encountered a force of Zouaves, who repelled the attack with great bravery. The Union forces now closed in on the rebels, and they ran like sheep down to the shore, pursued by their brave antagonists. The battle cry of the enemy was, “No quarter for Wilson and his men;” but they found that the first part of the sentence would be applied with truthful force to themselves. They now pursued their headlong course down to their boats, on board of which they hurried in the greatest confusion. The boats, unfortunately for the enemy, were fast in the mud and could not be got off for some time, with all the exertions that were being made by the steamboats. Now was the time when the carnage commenced in earnest among the rebels. The Federal troops, pursuing them to the shore and concealing themselves behind embankments and other places erected for the better defence of the island, poured down murderous volleys upon the heads of their enemy. Very little defence could be made by the rebels, and they had to receive the balls of their victorious enemy without being able to shelter themselves in any way. The scene of this portion of the contest is described as being dreadful — the cries of agony and the moans of the dying breaking forth through the pauses of the firing; the shouts of the victors and the curses of the defeated, the voice of command and the sharp click of the musket following shortly after — all, indeed, rendered the scene one of horror and heart-sickening. From the proximity of the Zouaves to their defeated foes every ball sped with unerring aim, and it is affirmed that on this occasion alone there could not have been less than one hundred and fifty rebels killed. At length the flatboats were got off by the steamers, but before they got into the centre of the river one of them sunk, riddled with several balls, and many of the rebels here met a watery grave. The morning after the battle a large number of dead bodies were found floating on the water, and nineteen lying dead on the battle-field. The loss of the rebels is estimated at about three hundred and fifty; loss of Zouaves, ten killed and sixteen wounded; regular troops, six killed, twenty wounded, ten prisoners. The Union forces took thirty-five prisoners, three of whom, being surgeons, were let go the next morning. General Anderson, of fillibuster notoriety, who had command of the rebel expedition, was wounded in both arms in the early part of the conflict.
Lieutenant D'orville's statement.On the night of the 8th instant the enemy commenced landing troops at Deer Point at about nine o'clock in the evening, the moon having gone down. The attacking force was two thousand five hundred in all, one thousand five hundred being engaged in the attack, and one thousand held in reserve on the two steamers. Beside the steamers, there were two large launches and some small boats. The debarkation completed, the enemy divided into three columns, one marching down the south beach, one along the sea-shore, and the other down the centre. Their intention was to surprise and surround the camp, cutting off the retreat of the Zouaves to the fort, and driving us before them. They, however, encountered one of our outstanding pickets about two miles from the camp, who challenged them and fired, killing two of the enemy, but falling himself after being pierced by three balls. The sergeant of the guard running up to see what was the matter was killed, and the remainder of the picket guard retreated to the main guard, and gave the alarm. By this time the camp was gained, and the men being hastily roused from sleep were drawn up under arms. They advanced under command of Col. Wilson and Lieutenant-Colonel Creighton, and encountered the centre column of the enemy, with whom they exchanged shots. Thinking that the attacking force in the centre was smaller than it really was, one company was left to hold it in check, and the remaining four companies were deployed to the right to prevent the camp from being surrounded. On reaching position, however, it was found that the enemy's left column had already outflanked us, and were actually firing the colonel's quarters, and other tents in our rear. We then turned upon them, deployed by companies as skirmishers to right and left, and surrounded the enemy. A general fight ensued, in which the rebels fought with desperation and malice, and our men stood their ground with unflinching courage. We charged them three times, and at the last got them beyond the camp. They then sounded the retreat and retired in good order for about two miles, when our side being reinforced by two companies from Battery Lincoln and two from the fort, the enemy made off at double quick for their boats. We followed them up as closely as possible, and fired volley after volley into the boats and launches as they pushed off from shore. One of the launches, containing about two hundred and  fifty men, was completely riddled by our balls and sunk before our eyes. The steamer Times, which was crowded with troops, got aground while trying to push off, and our men, numbering now five companies, poured their volleys into the mass of human beings for more than half an hour. We could not have killed less than one hundred and fifty to two hundred on board the Times. Among the wounded was the rebel Gen. Anderson, who was hit in both arms. One of the Zouaves, familiarly called “Scotty,” was lying sick in the hospital, but hearing firing leaped out of bed, seized a musket, and was met at the tent door by Captain Bradford, commanding the enemy's right column, who asked, “Who are you?” “I'll show you who I am,” said Scotty, and levelling his piece he shot Bradford through the heart, killing him instantly. Our men took thirty-nine prisoners, including three surgeons, who were released. One of the officers, Lieut. Sayres, of the Louisiana Volunteers, was so severely wounded in the leg as to render amputation necessary. While the enemy were burning our camp their cry was, “No quarter to Wilson's men!” The officers' tents were pillaged and destroyed, and they, as well as their men, lost every thing they had except the clothes they stood in. Col. Wilson lost his clothes and money, but the regimental colors, which were in his tent, were saved by Quartermaster's Sergeant, James Chadwick, who rushed into the burning tent and brought the flag out safely. The regulars all fought exceedingly well. Captain Hildt's company, from the Third Infantry, particularly distinguished itself. Our total loss in killed, wounded, and missing is sixty-five, of whom there were ten Zouaves killed, nine wounded, and nineteen missing. The regiment lost all its tents, baggage, clothing, and ready money. All but the money and clothes, however, were replaced from the fort the next day, and the men are now comfortably quartered again.
Statements of three negro fugitives.The following is an account of the attack as given by three contrabands who were sent to the North in the McClellan, by Colonel Brown, from Fort Pickens. They are Peter Dyson, an intelligent black man, about thirty-five years of age, who, with his wife, a yellow woman, escaped from a Mrs. Hanson, a boarding-house keeper in Pensacola; they got to Fort Pickens in a skiff about two and a half months ago. Dyson is a first-rate mason and bricklayer, and has worked on the Government forts at Pensacola for the last twenty years. The third is a young colored married woman, about twenty-five years old, who was owned by Cole Crosby, and hired out to a Mrs. Wm. O'Brien, at Pensacola. She left with two men in a sloop, and while beating up for Fort Pickens was fallen in with by the Colorado, and taken on board, and to the fort; her name is Olive Kelly, and she has been at the fort about a month. From the three we glean the folowing: Between three and four A. M. firing was heard about two miles from the fort, beyond Wilson's camp; and it appeared subsequently, by information got from the prisoners, that a deserter, who had been paid off from Pickens two days previous, had given such information to the Confederates as induced them to land on the inside beach and cross over to the south beach, and so come upon Wilson's camp suddenly, without encountering the heavy guns of the batteries. They first came upon and shot two of Wilson's picket guards and drove in the rest near the old Spanish fort, following up the Zouaves and driving them from the camp, and setting the tents and stores and camp equipage on fire. As soon as a messenger reached the fort, (previous to the fire,) Colonel Brown ordered out thirty regulars, under Major Vogdes and Lieutenants Langley and Taylor, who lost no time in marching to the scene of commotion, where they encountered a large body of the invading force, who surrounded them and demanded their surrender. Major Vogdes, being in advance, seeing himself overpowered and without support from the Zouaves, surrendered as a prisoner, and, with two or three men, was disarmed. Lieutenant Taylor was also grasped by the arm, and told to surrender; but, suddenly extricating himself, drew his sword, and said if they wanted it they must fight for it, and giving the word, “Open order, fire,” to his men, commenced an attack on the enemy, who had been divided whilst setting fire to the tents. In the mean time Lieutenant Langley had galloped back to the fort and obtained from Colonel Brown a reinforcement of two companies of regulars, which marched in double-quick to the conflict. The Confederates, finding that the alarm was general, and having succeeded in firing the tents, &c., retired before the small body of troops rallied under Lieutenant Taylor, this time taking their route through a swamp-wood and along the inside beach, firing as they retreated on the regulars and some Zouaves who had rallied to their assistance. In this way they reached the rebel flotilla, which consisted of four lighters, a number of six and eight-oared launches, and two steam-tugs, which latter were hard aground at about six o'clock A. M. The landing had taken place at about two miles from the old Spanish fort, and upon first arriving at this point on their retreat, Major Vogdes and the other prisoners were taken off to the launches, the rebels wading over the flats to get to them and aboard the steamers, which did not float for a full half-hour. In the mean time the two companies of regulars had come up, and with a few Zouaves, fired volley after volley upon the rebels. One launch was so riddled that she sunk between the dry dock and navy-yard, as she was being towed back by the steamer, and after the rebels, some of whom were wounded, had been transferred to the steamer. While the steamers were stuck fast, scores were seen to fall over-board under the fire from the shore, and upon  information received next day, upon the arrival of a flag of truce, it is supposed that between three and four hundred fell. In the first attack, eight of our side (privates) were killed and two wounded. Fifteen rebels were killed between the camps and Spanish fort, on the retreat before the regulars. They were buried in the sand, but disinterred the next day and delivered over to Lieutenant Slaughter, C. S. A., under the flag of truce. He had come over to reclaim the dead. Twenty-eight prisoners were taken, three of whom were wounded, also three officers, and a Major Anderson, (mortally wounded, and supposed to be a brother of Gen. Anderson, U. S. A.) The latter died, and his body was given up to Lieutenant Slaughter, as were three doctors of the C. S. A. The rebels took on board their boats many wounded, and great numbers were shot dead while wading in the water. Just as the reembarkation of the rebels took place, a steam tug, the Times, made her appearance with reinforcements, but upon seeing the state of things ashore, she contented herself by taking in tow the launches, which had hauled off from under the raking fire of the troops on shore. The flotilla had a narrow escape, as the Potomac, upon observing the fire at Wilson's camp, got under way, and was towed by the McClellan just within shelling distance as the rebels got their steamers afloat, and left the island for the navy-yard. Two false alarms had been given on the previous night, or, Colonel Brown was heard to say, he would, instead of thirty men, have ordered out a sufficient force at once to have given a greater defeat to the rebels.--N. Y. Times, October 27.
Augusta Constitutionalist account.
The following extracts are from private letters received from the volunteers at Pensacola: