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Doc. 72.-fight at Pittsburgh, Tenn.

Commodore Foote's report.

Cairo, March 3, 1862.
Hon. Gideon Welles:
Lieut. Commanding Shirk has this moment arrived from the Tennessee River, and brings full despatches from Lieut. Commanding Gwin, of the gunboat Tyler, a synopsis of which is, that the two gunboats proceeded up to Pittsburgh, near the Mississippi line, where a rebel battery was opened upon them, consisting of six guns, one of them being rifled, which were soon silenced by the gunboats.

Ninety mounted men landed under cover of the gunboats, and charged upon the enemy, driving them some distance, until they were strongly reenforced, when our party withdrew to the boats. Then three rebel regiments opened upon the gunboats, but were repulsed with great slaughter.

The casualties on our side amounted to five killed and missing and five wounded. Lieutenants Commanding Gwin and Shirk, with their commands, have behaved with great gallantry and judgment.

An election for town-officers has just taken place in Harding County, Tenn., which resulted in two hundred votes for the Union and thirteen for secession.

A. H. Foote, Flag-Officer.

Lieut. Commanding Gwin's report.

United States gunboat Tyler, Savannah, Tenn., March 1, 1862.
sir: Having learned that the rebels had occupied and were fortifying a place called Pittsburgh, nine miles above, on the right bank of the river, (the best point in the river for that purpose,) I determined to attack them.

At twelve M. the Tyler, followed by the Lexington, Lieut. Commanding Shirk, proceeded up the river. When within twelve hundred yards of Pittsburgh we were opened upon by the rebel batteries, consisting, as well as we could determine, of six or eight field-pieces, some rifled. Getting within one thousand yards, the Tyler and Lexington opened a well-directed fire, and we had the satisfaction of silencing their batteries.

We then proceeded abreast of the place, and, under the cover of grape and canister, landed two armed boats from each vessel, containing, besides their crews, a portion of company C, Capt. Thaddeus Phillips, and company K, First Lieut. John C. Rider, of the Thirty-second regiment, Illinois volunteers, (sharpshooters,) Second Master Jason Goudy, commanding the boats of the Tyler, and Second Master Martin Dunn, commanding the boats of the Lexington. The landing was successfully accomplished, and this small force actually drove back the rebels and held them in check until they accomplished their difficult object, which was to discover their real strength and purpose, and to destroy a house in close proximity to where the batteries had been placed.

I found, in addition to their artillery, they had a force of not less than two regiments of infantry and a regiment of cavalry.

In conclusion, I have to state that the result was entirely satisfactory. Their batteries were silenced in a short time, the landing was effected, the house destroyed, and we discovered from their breastworks that they were preparing to fortify strongly this point.

Too much praise cannot be given to Lieut. Commanding Shirk for the efficient manner in which his vessel was handled. My thanks are due to Capt. Phillips, Lieut. Rider, and their men, for the gallant manner in which, in the face of the enemy, they charged up the hill, drove back and held in check the rebels, until the boats' crews had effected the destruction of the house designated. The officers and men of this vessel behaved with the greatest spirit and enthusiasm. Much praise is due to First Master Edward Shaw and Third Master James Martin, for the efficient manner in which the batteries were worked. I would particularly call your attention to the gallant conduct of Second Master Jason Goudy, in charge of the boats in shore, who succeeded in destroying the house under such heavy fire, and Gunner Hermann Peters, in charge of the howitzer, who displayed the greatest coolness and courage, although exposed to the whole fire of the enemy, all but one of his men having been wounded. My thanks are also due to Pilots Hener and Sebastian, for their coolness under such a tremen dous fire of musketry, our vessel being perfectly riddled with balls. My aid, Acting Paymaster Wm. B. Coleman, rendered me valuable assistance during the action.

I have sent Lieut. Commanding Shirk to Cairo with the transport Izetta, loaded with the balance [221] of the wheat I left at Clifton. I shall remain about here, paying Pittsburgh a daily visit, which I hope will prevent the rebels from accomplishing their object. Capt. Shirk will lay before you the importance of keeping open this, as well as all other points above here.

I have learned from reliable authority that the rebels have some four thousand troops in Florence, five or six thousand in and about Eastport and I-u-k-a, (near Bear Creek Bridge,) and that they are fortifying in that vicinity. You will, therefore, see the necessity of my remaining here.

We expended ninety-five shells, thirty stand of grape, ten of canister, and sixty-seven rounds of shrapnel, grape, etc., from howitzer.

Enclosed is Acting Assistant Surgeon T. H. Kearney's report of casualties, to whom I am indebted for his unremitting attention to the wounded. I feel confident that we inflicted a severe loss on the enemy, as several bodies were seen on the ground, and many seen to fall. I also enclose Lieut. Commanding Shirk's report.

Hoping that my course will meet your approbation, I have the honor to be, etc.,

Wm. Gwin, Lieut. Commanding. Flag-Officer A. H. Foote.

The report of Acting-Surgeon Thomas H. Kearney states the casualties as follows:

On the gunboat Tyler.--Pleasant Gilbert, seaman, gunshot wound of leg, necessitating amputation of the limb; Crawford T. Hill, seaman, gunshot wound of forearm; John Matthews, seaman, gunshot (flesh) wound of shoulder, slight; G. W. Shull, seaman, gunshot wound of back, slight; Robt. Bell, seaman, gunshot wound of arm (flesh) and chest, not penetrating.

In detachment of Thirty-second regiment of Illinois Volunteers (company C) carried on board.--Capt. Phillips, gunshot wound of leg, flesh; Daniel Messick, orderly sergeant, killed.

Lieutenant Shirk's report.

U. S. Gunboat Lexington, Savannah, (Tenn.,) March 1, 1862.
sir: In company with the gunboat Tyler, Lieut. Commanding Gwinn, I this day proceeded in this vessel up the river to a landing on the west side called Pittsburgh, distant about nine miles from this place.

When we had arrived within twelve or thirteen hundred yards of Pittsburgh we were fired upon by a rebel battery, consisting, as well as I could judge, of six or eight field-pieces, one of which at least was rifled. We returned their fire with shell, which were exceedingly well directed, and continued until after their guns were silenced.

By order of Lieut. Commanding Gwinn, I despatched on shore two armed boats, in charge of Second Master Martin Dunn, containing, in addition to their own proper crews, a detachment of company K, Thirty-second regiment Illinois Volunteers, with orders to follow the motions of the Tyler's boats.

While the boats were being landed we kept up a steady fire of grape and shell, raking the side of the hill.

The landing party having accomplished their object, and being met by a much superior force, retired, receiving in their retreat a terrific fire of musketry. The enemy also fired several volleys of musketry at the gunboats, and then retired back from the brow of the hill.

After the boats returned we gave the rebels a few more shell, and receiving no answer, we dropped down the river to this place.

My men report having seen several dead rebels upon the hill, and I myself saw a shell from this vessel, after the return of the boats, take effect upon a field-officer, emptying his saddle, and dropping three foot-soldiers.

I cannot speak in too high terms of the gallantry, good discipline, and patriotic spirit evinced by the officers and men whom I have the honor to command. For the efficient services of himself and his command I am greatly indebted to First Lieut. John S. Rider, Co. K, Thirty-second regiment Illinois Volunteers.

I regret to have to report the following casualties, namely: James Sullivan, seaman, killed; Patrick Sullivan, seaman, missing; Thomas M. Borland, seaman, missing; John Hines, corporal Co. K, Thirty-second regiment Illinois Volunteers, missing. James Sullivan was seen to fall upon the field, shot through the breast.

During the action there were expended forty-five, eight-inch shell, twenty-five six-inch shell, and sixteen stand of grape.

Two rifles and one musket are missing. They are those taken by the unfortunate men whom we have lost.

I have the honor to be, sir, your most obedient servant,

James W. Shirk, Lieutenant Commanding. To Flag-Officer A. H. Foote, Commanding U. S. Naval Forces, Cairo, Ill.

Chicago post narrative.

Cairo, Monday, March 3.
The discovery of a new rebel battery on the Tennessee River, mentioned by telegraph, was made in this wise. Hearing that the rebels were planting a new battery somewhere near Savannah, the wooden gunboats Tyler and Lexington were ordered to make a reconnaissance up the river and shell them out. The boats left Fort Henry Friday morning, and proceeded slowly, examining the shores carefully as they went along. They were accompanied by the transport Izetta, with two companies of the Thirty-second Illinois regiment. They passed Savannah about ten o'clock Saturday morning, having as yet discovered no signs of the expected battery. But now the transport was ordered to keep well in the river, as at any moment a shell or round shot might announce the unpleasant proximity of the object they were in quest of.

Eight miles above Savannah we came to a little town called Pittsburgh, a miserable-looking little hamlet, as they nearly all are in this region. There is an island here in the river, called Diamond [222] Island, and just as we came out of the channel at its head, bang! went a rebel cannon, and a twenty-four-pound shot came plunging toward us from the rebel battery situated less than half a mile in our advance. It was followed by two other shots from smaller guns, before our big guns responded. We steamed right on toward them, and opened at about six hundred yards, with shell. Their battery consisted of one twenty-four-pounder rifled gun and three twelve-pound howitzers. The twenty-four-pounder fired only six shots, when it was silenced, either by our fire or from some other cause. The three smaller guns blazed away for about twenty minutes, when they also ceased firing, not a single one of their shots from the beginning having touched either of our boats. Our gunboats kept up their fire for half an hour longer, shelling the woods in all directions.

When the firing commenced, a small body of rebel infantry was also discovered, who under-took to put in practice the plan which some Memphis newspaper editors proposed, namely, to conceal themselves on the bank and pick off the pilots of our gunboats. They soon found they might as well attempt to swallow an oyster without opening the shell. A few discharges of grape sent them helter-skelter over the brow of the hill.

After the woods had been shelled pretty thoroughly, and nothing more been seen or heard of the enemy, about forty soldiers and marines, under command of a lieutenant, were sent ashore to reconnoitre the neighborhood. They proceeded up the long slope of the hill to the distance of a thousand yards or more from the landing, when they suddenly found themselves face to face with two or three regiments of rebel infantry, who immediately shot at them. Our men returned the compliment, and immediately retired to the shelter of a log house, some five hundred yards from the shore, where they made a stand, and peppered away at the rebels as vigorously as if they expected to drive back the rebel ten or fifteen hundred.

The gunboats hesitated to reopen on the rebels, lest they should kill some of our own men, but waited in the momentary expectation that they would return to the boats. They did not do so, however, until the lieutenant commanding, (whose name I cannot learn) discovered that the rebels were flanking him on both sides, for the purpose of making prisoners of his little command. He then ordered a retreat, and the gallant forty made the best time they could to the boats, which they reached, with the loss of three men killed and seven or eight wounded. The rebels pursued hotly, and getting behind trees, fired both at our men in the boats and at the gunboats, perforating the latter with a good many musket-balls, but injuring no one except the officer in command of the boat-howitzer on the upper-deck, one of whose legs was shattered by a Minie-ball, rendering amputation necessary.

The gunboats reopened their batteries with grape, which caused the rebels to retreat with most undignified rapidity over the hill again. Seeing and hearing no more of them, the gunboats moved down the stream a short distance, and lay at anchor. Having none but fifteen-second fuse shells, the gunboats were unable to do the execution at short range which they could have done with shorter fire. Accordingly the Lexington was despatched to Cairo for a supply of the desired ammunition, while the Tyler remained to look after the new rebel battery. The place where it was found is a sort of natural fortification, the hill furnishing a hollow just over the first ridge, in which the rebel infantry took shelter from our fire. In this particular it resembles Fort Donelson.

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