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Chapter 34:


Without placing implicit faith in the telegram received from Richmond, through Major Norris, Chief of the Signal Corps, wherein an immediate heavy attack upon Charleston was predicted, General Beauregard took every precaution to be prepared for such a contingency. He had a force of two hundred infantry held in readiness, nightly, at Fort Johnson, to be thrown as a reinforcement into Fort Sumter, and had secured, for that purpose, from Flag-officer Tucker, the services of the, steamer Juno, Lieutenant Porcher commanding. As an additional means of defeating any attempt of the enemy, either to assail Sumter or to carry Battery Simkins, he suggested that one or two of our ironclads should take such a position, at night, as would enable them to sweep the space between Cummings's Point and Fort Johnson and between the latter and Battery Simkins. He also advised [172] Commander Tucker that, in case the enemy's ironclads should endeavor to remove the obstructions between Sumter and Moultrie, while attacking the Sullivan's Island batteries, his gunboats should be placed in the vicinity of Fort Sumter, out of the direct fire of our works, and in such a manner as to foil the enemy's object; that should an effort be made by the Federal fleet, or any part of it, to pass by our obstructions, without stopping to remove them or fight the batteries, then Commander Tucker's ironclads should so change their position as to be somewhat in rear of our second line of defence—that is to say, James Island, Fort Ripley, and Castle Pinckney, according to the channel through which the enemy's vessels might attempt to force their passage. In order to complete these precautionary arrangements the following instructions were forwarded to Major-General Gilmer on the 7th of November:

General,—Should the enemy's ironclads enter the harbor, the Commanding General thinks it probable they will endeavor to take the Fort Johnson lines facing towards Morris Island in flank and reverse, to favor an infantry attack upon Battery Simkins, and, possibly at the same time, make a similar front attack from Fort Johnson to the Martello Tower.

It becomes important, then, to guard against the first by traverses wherever required, and against the second by a line of rifle-pits or infantry parapets, connecting the batteries near the Martello Tower with the one at Fort Johnson.

The Commanding General, therefore, desires you, assisted by Colonel Harris, to make a proper examination to determine whether these rifle-pits should be prolonged to the creek below Battery Wampler, or turned back near the Martello Tower towards the marshes facing Morris Island, wherever the ground is most favorable for such a defensive line; or whether the detached redoubts, ordered some time ago, should be at once commenced, suspending meanwhile further labor on the “new lines,” which are now deemed quite defensible.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,

Thomas Jordan, Chief of Staff.

Nothing of much importance occurred between the 7th and the 19th of November. On the latter date another boat attack was made by General Gillmore's force against Fort Sumter, resulting in utter failure, as had been the case with the former attempt. The following is an extract from Mr. Charles Cowley's book, from which we have already had occasion to quote some passages:

‘On the night of November 19th, 1863, General Gillmore made an attempt to surprise and capture Fort Sumter. He asked no aid from the navy; but [173] Admiral Dahlgren, hearing of it, and anxiously desiring its success, ordered his pickets to cover the assaulting party. * * * The thoughtful care of the Admiral for the army column on this occasion shines, by contrast, with the failure of Gillmore to support the navy column on September 6th.’1

We copy the following extract from Colonel Elliott's journal, dated November 20th, 1863:

* * * At three o'clock a detachment of the enemy's barges, variously estimated at from four to nine in number, approached within three hundred yards of the fort, and opened fire with musketry. Most of the troops got into position very rapidly, but, in spite of all instructions, commenced a random fire: into the air on the part of many, at the distant boats on the part of others. The troops stationed in the centre bomb-proof for the most part refused to ascend the parapet, though encouraged by the example of Lieutenant Mironell and a few other brave men.

I have sent a despatch to General Taliaferro, asking him to relieve two lieutenants who did not behave well. I have not evidence enough to convict them, but do not want them here longer. I have taken measures which, I trust, may insure better conduct in the future.

No rockets were sent up, because positive attacks were not made. The ricochet practice from Sullivan's Island was very handsome. The fire from Johnson was very bad, the balls passing directly over the fort.

Private T. Whester, Company D, 1st S. C. Artillery, was wounded slightly in the head yesterday by a brick.

‘I respectfully request that, if practicable, Captain Harleston be retained here until the dark nights have entirely passed by. His removal just at this time will be a great misfortune to me, as I am greatly dependent on his watchfulness and ability.’2

The orders and instructions now submitted to the reader will show the untiring vigilance of the Commanding General, and how extremely careful he was to prepare against every possible emergency. The first is a circular addressed to Generals Walker, Wise, Robertson, and Mercer, commanding respectively the Third, Sixth, and Second Military Districts of South Carolina and the District of Georgia. It read thus: [174]

Headquarters, Department S. C., Ga., and Fla., Charleston, S. C., Nov. 25th, 1863.
General,—The following views of the Commanding General are communicated for your information:

1st. Further depletion of the already too weak forces left for the defence of Charleston is improper, and, therefore, you must depend solely upon the troops of your command to repel any attack of the enemy by moving rapidly your cavalry and light batteries to any point in your district which may be threatened. Should you be compelled to abandon the line of the Charleston and Savannah Railroad, you will retire fighting obstinately, so as to protect, as much and as far as practicable, the country in your rear, especially the line of the South Carolina Railroad, for which latter object the best defensive line would be the “Overflows,” the Ashley River, from Bee's Ferry to the Little Lakes; thence across to Givham's Ferry, on the Edisto River, and along that river to the South Carolina Railroad bridge, above Branchville; and thence along and as near the southern boundary-line of Barnwell District as shall be determined by a close reconnoissance by General Walker's Engineer officer.

2d. The line of the ‘Overflows’ and the works in advance of it along the Stono will be defended by the troops under Brigadier-General Wise, commanding Sixth Military District, together with such additional troops as he may receive from Brigadier-General Taliaferro's command, in the Seventh Military District.

3d. The line in rear of the Ashley River, from Bee's Ferry inclusive, to Bossua Creek, near Dorchester, will be held by troops from the Fifth and the First Military Districts.

4th. The forces under Brigadier-General Robertson are intrusted with the defence of the line from Bossua Creek to Little Lakes, thence across to Givham's Ferry, on the Edisto, and the Four Hole Creek. Colonel Harris, Chief-Engineer, has been directed to throw up certain defensive works across the country, from the Ashley to the Edisto.

5th. The line in rear of the Edisto, from Four Hole Creek to the South Carolina Railroad bridge, above Branchville, will be defended by Colonel Williams's regiment of State troops already there, reinforced by a portion of Brigadier-General Walker's command, until they can be relieved by other troops in the Department.

6th. From the Edisto to the Savannah River, near the southern boundary of Barnwell District, will be defended or guarded, as far as practicable, by the remainder of Brigadier-General Walker's command. That officer will construct such field-works, rifle-pits, abatis, and make such overflows, as the means at his disposal and the nature of the country will permit.

7th. Brigadier-Generals Robertson and Walker will resort to such expedients as the beating of drums, firing of salutes and rockets, as will deceive the enemy. A temporary concentration of cavalry at various points near the enemy's pickets, and lighting numerous camp-fires at night, must also be resorted to as frequently as possible. In other words, we must make up for our deficiency in numbers, as far as practicable, by ingenuity and activity. A thorough knowledge of the country should give us an advantage over our adversary, [175] which must be improved and made available to the utmost; and each district commander will be expected to provide himself with an ample number of tried and reliable guides.

The Commanding General desires particularly to impress upon you his inability to reinforce your command at present. It is an axiom of war that no work is sufficiently strong to resist a “determined attack unless properly garrisoned.” The defences of this city require a force of 18,500 infantry, and at least ten light batteries; in lieu of that force only 12,695 infantry (of which a portion are unreliable troops) and eight light batteries compose its present garrison.

If one portion of the Charleston and Savannah Railroad is worth guarding, the rest has the same claim. Hence, if 1000 men are sent to the Third District, nearly a like number should also be sent to the Second District, and thus, weakening the already too small force absolutely required for the defence of Charleston, invite an attack from the enemy before these troops from those districts could possibly be recalled.

The question then arises, whether it is better to risk the safety of Charleston or that of the country lying between it and Savannah? The Commanding General cannot hesitate in the selection.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,

Thomas Jordan, Chief of Staff.
P. S.—November 28th, 1863.—Since the date of this circular Clingman's brigade, 1810 effectives, has been ordered back to North Carolina.

T. J.

To General Hagood, to whom a copy of the foregoing circular had not been forwarded, the following communication was subsequently sent:

Headquarters, Department S. C., Ga., and Fla., Charleston, S. C., Dec. 5th, 1863.
General,—I am instructed to say to you that, while the movements of the enemy appear to indicate an attempt to operate within the limits of the Second and Third Military Districts, rather than any effort to effect a lodgment within your district, nevertheless your troops should be held constantly on the alert and ready for any effort to surprise you.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,

Thomas Jordan, Chief of Staff.

General Gillmore admits that ‘with the second bombardment of Sumter ended all aggressive operations for the season against the defences of Charleston.’3 The truth is, that the taking of Battery Wagner, on the 7th of September, was the enemy's last step forward; and though, from such a result, high expectations [176] had arisen, not only on the part of the Federal commander in front of Charleston, but also throughout the Northern States, nothing more had been accomplished. Wagner and the whole of Morris Island were in the possession of the enemy; Sumter had been silenced and reduced to a heap of ruins, but bomb-proofs had been speedily erected, and the Confederate flag still floated over it, and its capacity for resistance was daily increasing.

The harbor, too, remained as impenetrable as it was when the Federal fleet first attempted to enter it; and Charleston, encompassed now and surrounded by a new line of inner defences, was as ready as ever to cope with the combined military and naval attack prepared against it. Fort Sumter had gradually become a new work; Fort Johnson had greatly gained in strength and importance; so had almost every battery on James and Sullivan's islands; and General Beauregard, as was justly said in Pollard's ‘Lost Cause,’4 ‘had given another illustration of the new system of defence practised at Comorn and Sebastopol, where, instead of there being any one key to a plan of fortification, there was the necessity of a siege for every battery, in which the besiegers were always exposed to the fire of the others.’

From Cummings's Point and the other works of Morris Island the bombardment was maintained during the whole of the month of November and up to the 19th or 20th of December. It did not entirely cease even after that time, but decreased in intensity from day to day, until only a few occasional shots were fired: as usual, mostly at Fort Sumter.

General Beauregard, taking advantage of this relative lull in the enemy's operations in his front, and believing that there was then no threat of immediate danger, began to consider other and more distant points of the Confederacy; and, while contemplating the military situation in Virginia and the West, drew up, at the request of the lion. Pierre Soule, of Louisiana, a comprehensive plan of campaign, which the latter desired, if it were possible, to submit to the authorities at Richmond. Mr. Soule was a man of high capacity. He had been a Senator in the United States Congress, Ambassador to Spain under President Pierce's Administration, and, owing to his firm and unyielding attitude after the fall of New Orleans, in April, 1862, had been [177] sent, by General B. F. Butler, as a prisoner to Fort Lafayette. At the time we speak of he had but lately been released from captivity, and had run the blockade to Charleston, whence he had left for Richmond, with a view to offer his services to the Confederate Government. The plan referred to was as follows:

Headquarters, Department S. C., Ga., and Fla., Charleston, S. C., Dec. 8th, 1863.
Hon. Pierre Soule Richmond, Va.:
My dear Sir,—I compliance with your request, made on the eve of your departure for Richmond, I have prepared for you a sketch of certain operations by which we may yet retrieve our late losses, and possibly baffle the immense resources of men and warlike material of our enemy.

1st. The system hitherto followed of keeping in the field separate armies, acting without concert, on distant and divergent lines of operation, and thus enabling our adversary to concentrate at convenience his masses against our fractions, must be discontinued, as radically contrary to the principles of the art of war, and attended with inevitable results, such as our disasters in Mississippi, Tennessee, and North Georgia.

2d. We must arrange for a sudden and rapid concentration, upon some selected, decisive strategic point of the theatre of war, of enough troops to crush the forces of the enemy embodied in that quarter. This must necessarily be done at the expense or hazard, for the time, of other points less important, or offering less advantages for striking the enemy. A blow thus struck will necessarily disorganize his combinations and give us the choice of the field of operations.

I am sensibly aware of our limited means, our want of men, the material and appliances of war and of transportation, and hence the difficulties which will embarrass us in the execution of this plan of concentration. But I see no way to success except through and by it, and nothing but ultimate disaster without it. A different course may, indeed, protract the contest, which will become, day by day, more unequal. We may fight stoutly, as hitherto, many bloody and indecisive battles, but will never win a signal, conclusive victory, until we can manage to throw a heavy and overwhelming mass of our forces upon the fractions of the enemy, and at the same time successfully strike at his communications, without exposing our own.

I believe this may yet be done. Not knowing, however, our present available forces, and their exact locations, I am unable to make a definite or detailed plan of operations. But I believe I am warranted in assuming that we have under arms 210,000 effective men, distributed nearly as follows:

In the Trans-Mississippi Department, say40,000
In the Department of Alabama and Mississippi, say15,000
Under Hardee, including Longstreet, say60,000
In the Department of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, say28,000
In the Department of North Carolina, say7,000
In the Department of Virginia, say60,000


Looking at a map of the Confederate States it will be seen that the most injurious blow which the enemy could strike, at present, would be to take possession of Atlanta, thus isolating still more completely the Trans-Mississippi States, and detaching, in a great measure, the States of Mississippi and Alabama from the eastern portion of the Confederacy. It would also be a deplorable injury to the energetic, populous State of Georgia, and cripple the great resources of that people.

We should, therefore, regard Atlanta as the actual objective point of the large force which the enemy has concentrated about Chattanooga, and the one which we must, at all cost, prevent him from obtaining. In this state of affairs, throwing aside all other considerations, subordinating all other operations to this one vital campaign, at a concerted moment we must withdraw from other points a portion of their forces—all, indeed, not absolutely essential for keeping up a show of defence, or safety against a coup de main— and concentrate in this way every soldier possible for operations against General Grant.

Such strategic points as Richmond, Weldon, Wilmington, Charleston, Savannah, Mobile, and Meridian—or Jackson, Mississippi, at the same time— should be fortified, garrisoned, and provisioned, according to their relative present value to the Confederate States, sufficiently to prolong their defence, if attacked or besieged, until troops for their relief could be detached as required from the army in Northwestern Georgia.

I will now state approximately what troops may, in my belief, be withdrawn from the following quarters and added to the army at or about Dalton, namely:

From Alabama and Mississippi10,000
From South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida8,000
From North Carolina2,000
From Virginia20,000

These 40,000 men, added with celerity to the force now under Hardee, and including that with Longstreet and other detachments, would make an army of 100,000 men. Let this army take the offensive at once, and, properly handled, it should crush any force that Grant could assemble in time and oppose, scattered as he evidently is, and unprepared as he would be for such an event.

To insure the success of such a plan of operations the Press must be led to preserve complete silence touching all military movements. Depots of subsistence, munitions of war, ambulances, wagons, horses, etc., should be established at certain points, not too far from Atlanta, for rapid concentration at the proper time. Meanwhile, whatsoever troops could be safely withdrawn from the Department already indicated, should be quickly, quietly concentrated at suitable central points, thence to be thrown forward, with all possible despatch, to Dalton, with all the means of transportation available of all sorts.

At the same time the officer appointed to command this army should [179] make all his preparations for such a trust, and the sudden accumulation of troops of all arms, so that he may be able to mould it into a homogeneous mass as early as practicable, and to inaugurate offensive operations without loss of one moment of time that may be obviated. And, further, he must be invested with an unrestricted, unembarrassed selection of staff-officers, and thoroughly emancipated from the least subordination to the views and control of the heads of bureaus at Richmond, a reproduction in this war of that fatal Austrian system with which no eminently successful commander ever had to contend; a pernicious plan of administration which will clog and hamper the highest military genius, whether a Napoleon or a Caesar.

I believe the success of the plan of campaign thus sketched, and the utter defeat of the enemy, would be almost certain.

The question would next be: whether to pursue the routed enemy with vigor to the banks of the Ohio and the Mississippi, or to return to the several sources whence the army was gathered their respective detachments or quotas for the campaign? This should be left, however, to be determined by the nature of the enemy's operations at the time.

I must finally remark that were it possible to concentrate with sufficient expedition, at or about Knoxville, such an army as I have indicated, that would be the better point whence to take the offensive into Middle Tennessee than Dalton—that is, according to the principles of war—and would promise more decisive results; for it is evident we should thus threaten the enemy's communications, without exposing our own. (Principle II.) “Le secret de la guerre est dans la surete des communications” (Napoleon). By a movement from Knoxville we should be doing what is taught in connection with the third maxim ( “Art of War” ), to wit: “That part of the base of operations is the most advantageous to break out from into the theatre of war which conducts the most directly on the enemy's flanks or rear.” There may be, however, such practical difficulties in the way of the execution of such a movement on that line as may not make it advisable to adopt it.

“The whole science of war,” it has been well said, “may be briefly defined as the art of placing in the right position, at the right time, a mass of troops greater than your enemy can there oppose to you.”

Those conditions, I sincerely believe, may all be filled by very much such a plan as the one which I have hurriedly placed before you. Of course my views must be subject to such modifications as my want of precise information relative to the number and location of our troops may render necessary. The hour is critical and grave. I am filled with intense anxiety lest golden opportunities shall be lost-lost forever. It is concentration and immediate mobility that are indispensable to preserve us.

Yours sincerely,

Mr. Soule communicated the foregoing paper to the War Department, but no action was taken in the matter. The War Department was, no doubt, too much engrossed in other business to pass upon the merits of this or any other plan of battle. When, [180] about eleven months later, Atlanta fell and was destroyed, and most of the disastrous consequences predicted by General Beauregard ensued, the War Department must have seen—though too late, as usual—that the plan had been a good one, and that if it had been adopted a very different result might have been obtained.

Some further information had been received from Richmond, disclosing a probable movement of the enemy on the South Carolina coast, and warning General Beauregard to be prepared for it. He acted accordingly, in his accustomed prompt and energetic way; but, knowing how prone the War Department was to credit such reports, and having heard nothing of the kind from his own signal-service corps, he felt sure this news would prove false, as had been the case on many previous occasions. The following letter refers to this subject, and explains General Beauregard's views and opinions upon the future operations of the enemy in Tennessee and farther South:

Headquarters, Department S. C., Ga., and Fla., Charleston, S. C., Dec. 25th, 1863.
Major-Genl. W. H. C. Whiting, Comdg. Dept., Wilmington, N. C.:
My dear General,—A merry and lucky Christmas to you! Your letter of the 23d instant has just been received. I got a copy of the same telegram sent you; but I have been deceived every time that “same scout,” or some other coming from Baltimore, has furnished news of enemy's movements in my Department. Hence I am very cautious to believe his reports now, although, of course, I make my preparations all around, so as not to be caught napping. I sent, in return, pretty much your answer—that I could not defend with success here Savannah and the railroad without additional troops. Defensive works are next to useless if not garrisoned properly. I have therefore applied for the temporary return of Walker's brigade, which is now doing nothing, at or near Dalton. It is evident that the enemy, having taken Chattanooga for their spring campaign, are now returning Meade's corps as fast as possible, for fear of being forestalled by Longstreet joining Lee, and the two together crushing Meade, which should have been done by this time; for Longstreet would move on “interior lines,” while Meade's three corps have to go around the circumference of the circle.

It is probable, however, that when the roads in Virginia shall have become perfectly impracticable a part of Meade's reinforcements may be sent South for a winter campaign against Charleston, Savannah, or Wilmington; hence Johnston or Lee must be prepared to reinforce us. Halleck is just finding out what can be done with sudden and rapid concentration of troops. Our side, meanwhile, is still trying the reverse: see Chattanooga and Knoxville. I suppose that by the time we shall have no more troops to concentrate we will learn better. [181]

By-the-bye the President does not seem to place more reliance in that scout's statement than I do: see the conclusion of Colonel Brown's communication, i. e., “Wilmington is believed to be the point threatened, instead of Savannah.” I am happy to hear, though, that the Yankees have given up all hope of taking Charleston; for I am tired of this useless burning of powder which might be saved for a better purpose. My batteries, however, fire very little—as little as possible. Sumter is stronger, as a defensive work, than it ever was before the late accident to one of the small magazines. Those damages will soon be repaired, and I am going to add two 10-inch columbiads to its present armament.

Hoping that you will be equally successful in case of an attack on Wilmington, I remain,

Yours, very truly,

P. S.—Troops are still reported passing here from the North, going to Hilton Head. General Walker reports about 6000 men encamped on that island alone.

G. T. B.

In October, 1863, Lieutenant Glassel performed a daring feat against the New Ironsides. In spite of the enemy's equivocal statement to the contrary, that vessel, the Admiral's flag-ship at the time, was so seriously crippled as to be unable, thereafter, to perform any service in conjunction with the hostile fleet in front of Charleston. The following account is transcribed from General Beauregard's article on the ‘Torpedo Service in the Harbor and Water Defences of Charleston,’ published in the ‘Southern Historical Society Papers’ of April, 1878:5

‘* * * The David reached the New Ironsides about 10 o'clock P. M., striking her with a torpedo about six feet under water; but, fortunately for that steamer, she received the shock against one of her inner bulkheads, which saved her from destruction. The water, however, being thrown up in large volume, half filled her little assailant and extinguished its fires. It then drifted out to sea with the current, under a heavy grape and musketry fire from the much alarmed crew of the New Ironsides. Supposing the David disabled, Glassel and his men jumped into the sea to swim ashore; but, after remaining in the water about one hour, he was picked up by the boat of a Federal transport schooner, whence he was transferred to the guardship Ottawa, lying outside of the rest of the fleet. He was ordered at first by Admiral Dahlgren to be ironed, and, in case of resistance, to be double ironed; but, through the intercession of his friend, Captain W. D. Whiting, commanding the Ottawa, he was released on giving his parole not to attempt to escape from the ship. The fireman, Sullivan, had taken refuge on the rudder of the New Ironsides, where he was discovered, put in irons, and kept in a dark cell [182] until sent with Glassel to New York, to be tried and hung, as reported by Northern newspapers, for using an engine of war not recognized by civilized nations. But the Government of the United States has now a torpedo corps, intended specially to study and develop that important branch of the military service. After a captivity of many months in Forts Lafayette and Warren, Glassel and Sullivan were finally exchanged for the captain and a sailor of the Federal steamer Isaac Smith, a heavily-armed gunboat, which was captured in the Stono River, with its entire crew of one hundred and thirty officers and men. * * * Captain Glassel's two other companions, Engineer Tomb and Pilot Cannon, after swimming about for a while, espied the David, still afloat, drifting with the current. They betook themselves to it, relit the fires from its bull's-eye lantern, got up steam, and started back for the city. They had to repass through the fleet, and they received the fire of several of its monitors and gunboats, fortunately without injury. With the assistance of the flood-tide they returned to their point of departure, at the Atlantic wharf, about midnight, after having performed one of the most daring feats of the war. The New Ironsides never fired another shot (on the coast of South Carolina) after this attack upon her. She remained some time at her anchorage off Morris Island, evidently undergoing repairs; she was then towed to Port Royal, probably to fit her for her voyage to Philadelphia, where she remained until destroyed by fire after the war.’

On the 17th of February, 1864, an expedition, in every respect as hazardous and fully as bold, was prepared and carried out, under Lieutenant Dixon, of Mobile, Alabama, with the submarine torpedo-boat, as it was called,6 against the United States steamer Housatonic. She was struck before realizing her danger, and sank almost instantaneously; but the torpedo-boat went to the bottom with her; and though, as it seems, most of the officers and crew of the Housatonic were saved, neither Lieutenant Dixon nor any of his associates were ever seen afterwards. They all perished together, for none were reported as being captured by the enemy. They, no doubt, knew how perilous was the attempt they were undertaking. There are principles and there are causes that men hold sufficiently dear to inspire and justify heroic sacrifices. Lieutenant Dixon and the few who were with him evidently looked upon the Southern cause as one of these. We quote again from General Beauregard's article referred to above:

‘Nearly about the time of the attack upon the New Ironsides by the David,7 Mr. Horace L. Hunley, formerly of New Orleans, but then living in Mobile, offered me another torpedo-boat, of a different description, which had [183] been built with his private means. It was shaped like a fish, made of galvanized iron, was twenty feet long, and at the middle three and a half feet wide by five deep. From its shape it came to be known as the “fish torpedo-boat.” Propelled by a screw worked from the inside by seven or eight men, it was so contrived that it could be submerged and worked under water for several hours, and to this end was provided with a fin on each side, worked also from the interior. By depressing the points of these fins the boat, when in motion, was made to descend, and by elevating them it was made to rise. Light was afforded through the means of bull's-eyes placed in the man-holes. Lieutenant Payne, C. S. N., having volunteered, with a crew from the Confederate navy, to man the fish-boat for another attack upon the New Ironsides, it was given into their hands for that purpose. While tied to the wharf at Fort Johnson, whence it was to start under cover of night to make the attack, a steamer passing close by capsized and sunk it. Lieutenant Payne, who at the time was standing in one of the man-holes, jumped out into the water, which, rushing into the two openings, drowned two men then within the body of the boat. After the recovery of the sunken boat Mr. Hunley came from Mobile, bringing with him Lieutenant Dixon, of the Alabama Volunteers, who had successfully experimented with the boat in the harbor of Mobile, and under him another naval crew volunteered to work it. As originally designed the torpedo was to be dragged astern upon the surface of the water; the boat, approaching the broadside of the vessel to be attacked, was to dive beneath it, and, rising to the surface beyond, continue its course, thus bringing the floating torpedo against the vessel's side, when it would be discharged by a trigger contrived to go off by the contact. Lieutenant Dixon made repeated descents in the harbor of Charleston, diving under the naval receiving-ship, which lay at anchor there. But one day, when he was absent from the city, Mr. Hunley, unfortunately, wishing to handle the boat himself, made the attempt. It was readily submerged, but did not rise again to the surface, and all on board perished from asphyxiation. When the boat was discovered, raised, and opened the spectacle was indescribably ghastly: the unfortunate men were contorted into all kinds of horrible attitudes, some clutching candles, evidently endeavoring to force open the man-holes; others lying in the bottom, tightly grappled together, and the blackened faces of all presented the expression of their despair and agony. After this tragedy I refused to permit the boat to be used again; but Lieutenant Dixon, a brave and determined man, having returned to Charleston, applied to me for authority to use it against the Federal steam sloop-of-war Housatonic, a powerful, new vessel, carrying eleven guns of the largest calibre, which lay at the time in the North Channel, opposite Beach Inlet, materially obstructing the passage of our blockade-runners in and out. At the suggestion of my Chief of Staff, General Jordan, I consented to its use for this purpose, not as a submarine machine, but in the same manner as the David. As the Housatonic was easily approached through interior channels from behind Sullivan's Island, and Lieutenant Dixon readily procured a volunteer crew, his little vessel was fitted with a Lee spar-torpedo, and the expedition was undertaken. Lieutenant Dixon, acting with characteristic [184] coolness and resolution, struck and sunk the Housatonic on the night of February 17th, 1864; but, unhappily, from some unknown cause, the torpedoboat was also sunk, and all with it lost. Several years since, a “diver,” examining the wreck of the Housatonic, discovered the fish-boat lying alongside of its victim.’

Other Federal steamers and transports, in other portions of the Department, were also struck, and often greatly damaged, by torpedoes planted, by General Beauregard's orders, in several streams, in Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. Thus were destroyed, in April, 1864, on the St. John's River, Florida, first, the Maple Leaf and, afterwards, the General hunter; and in the Ossabaw Sound the Columbine and the Water Witch. Both the latter were captured by boarding parties, in May and June, 1864.

The main incident of this particular period of the war, in General Beauregard's Department, was the battle of Ocean Pond, in Eastern Florida, which took place on the 20th of February, 1864, and shed lustre on the Confederate troops engaged.

At Jacksonville, Florida, on the 7th of February, the enemy landed a considerable force of infantry, cavalry, and artillery, which was increased by further arrivals on the 8th. General Finegan, with his well-known energy, immediately issued all necessary orders for the concentration of his scattered troops, and lost no time in notifying General Beauregard of the emergency. From Jacksonville the enemy, unhindered, pressed on to Baldwin; then to Barber's; then to Sanderson, and was, on the 11th, within three miles of Lake City. There his progress was checked by a force composed of about 450 infantry, 100 cavalry, and two pieces of artillery. He fell back to Sanderson, and thence to Barber's, on the east bank of the St. Mary's, where he evidently intended to concentrate before moving on Lake City.

In the mean time General Finegan, with all the reinforcements he had thus far been able to procure, had marched to Ocean Pond, on the Olustee River, and, on the 13th, with not more than 2000 men of all arms, resolutely awaited the enemy's advance.

Several days of anxious suspense were thus passed, during which, to the great relief of all, the following troops arrived, namely: the 6th, 19th, 23d, 27th, and 28th Georgia Regiments, and the 6th Florida Battalion, with four guns of the Chatham Artillery. They were placed under Brigadier-General Colquitt, and formed what General Finegan termed his First Brigade. The [185] 32d and 64th Georgia Volunteers, the 1st Georgia Regulars, the 1st Florida Battalion, and Bonaud's Battalion, with Guerard's Light Battery, all under Colonel G. P. Harrison, constituted the Second Brigade. The cavalry was organized into a Third Brigade, under Colonel C. Smith: thus making a total effective force of about 4600 infantry, 600 cavalry, and three batteries of light artillery.

The rapidity with which our forces were concentrated from different points, and especially from Charleston and Savannah, is worthy of all praise; the more since between the Georgia and Florida lines of railroad there then existed a gap of some twentysix miles, over which the Carolina and Georgia troops had to march before reaching their destination. And here it is proper to remark that, shortly after the eastern part of Florida had been added to General Beauregard's command,8 he had called the attention of the War Department to that obstacle in the way of rapid concentration, in case of urgency, and had recommended that the iron on the Key West Railroad, which was not used at the time, be taken for the purpose of closing up this gap. Nothing was done in the matter, however, owing, it was said, to the opposition of ex-Senator Yulee, of Florida, the President and principal owner of the Key West road.

On the 20th the enemy moved forward, in three columns, numbering together about 8000 infantry, with corresponding artillery, and some 1400 cavalry. At 12 M. of that day he was within three miles of General Finegan's position. Our cavalry, supported by the 64th Georgia and two companies of the 32d, was ordered to advance and skirmish with the front line of the enemy, and, if possible, to draw it to our works. General Colquitt, with three regiments of his own brigade and a section of Gamble's artillery, now marched to that point, and, by orders, assumed command of the cavalry and infantry forces already sent to feel the strength of the enemy. He found the latter advancing rapidly, and our cavalry retreating before him. Without the loss of a moment his skirmishers were pushed forward, and his line of battle formed, with the 19th Georgia on the right, the 28th on the left, and Gamble's section of artillery in the centre. The 64th Georgia and the two companies of the 32d were moved to the left [186] of the 28th; and, to guard against an attack in flank, the 6th Georgia was extended farther still, in the same direction. Colonel Smith, with the cavalry, was instructed to take a position on the extreme flank, so as to check any movement of the enemy from either side. After these preliminaries, the advance began with true Confederate dash; the opposing forces gradually giving way, though fighting hard to hold their ground.

Seeing at a glance that, with the handful of men under him, his success could only be temporary, General Colquitt now called for reinforcements. General Finegan, in anticipation of his desire, had already ordered them forward. The 6th Florida soon arrived, and with it the 23d Georgia. They were sent, the former on the right of the 19th Georgia, the latter on the left of the 64th; and the 32d Georgia and the 1st Georgia Regulars, under Colonel Harrison, having also come up, were placed between the 23d and 6th Georgia, with instructions to guard the left of the line. The engagement had now become general. The enemy, in heavy force, under General Seymour, fought stubbornly, broke and re-formed his lines several times during the battle; but, after a resistance of more than four hours, finally gave way in confusion, and was closely pressed for three miles, until night compelled the pursuers to halt. In his report General Finegan said:

‘Their loss in killed, both officers and men, was large. Four hundred and eighteen of their wounded were removed by us from the field, and four hundred, or near that number, of their killed were buried by us; also nearly two hundred prisoners were captured; several officers of high rank were killed, and others severely wounded. Their loss cannot be less than two thousand or two thousand five hundred men. Five superior guns, one set of colors captured, and sixteen hundred stand of arms; also one hundred and thirty thousand rounds cartridges (damaged by being thrown into water), as appears by the report of the ordnance officer herewith enclosed. The victory was complete, and the enemy retired in rapid retreat, evacuating in quick succession Barber's and Baldwin, and falling back on Jacksonville. * * * Our loss in the engagement was ninety-three killed and eight hundred and fortyone wounded, a large proportion very slightly.’9

It may be of interest to revert to the difficulties encountered in forwarding reinforcements from Charleston and Savannah to the assistance of General Finegan. We quote from General [187] Beauregard's report to General Cooper, dated Charleston, South Carolina, March 25th, 1864.10

* * * On the 7th of February (received 8th) Brigadier-General Finegan reported by telegraph that five gunboats and two transports of the enemy had made their appearance in the St. John's, within five miles of Jacksonville, and on the next day announced the arrival at Jacksonville of eighteen vessels—gunboats and transports—the landing of the enemy, presumed in large force, and an immediate advance on the night of the 7th of February. General Gilmer was at once ordered to put in motion, to report to General Finegan, all the troops he had been previously ordered to hold in readiness for such an emergency. General Gardner, commanding in Middle Florida, was telegraphed to send to the imperilled quarter, with all possible celerity, every soldier he could spare. Colquitt's brigade was ordered from James Island to Savannah, with a light battery. General Finegan was advised of what was done, and instructed to do what he could with his means to hold the enemy at bay, and to prevent the capture of slaves; and at the same time I reported to you this hostile movement, and my intention to repel it, as far as practicable, with infantry to be drawn from Charleston and Savannah, but requested, in consequence of the very recent discharge of some five thousand South Carolina militia, that other troops should be sent to take their places and avoid danger to Charleston and Savannah. Scarcely had Colquitt's brigade begun to move, when the enemy, in anticipation, doubtless, of my attempt to reinforce Finegan, made a strong demonstration on John's Island. Though assured of the purpose of this movement, it assumed, however, so serious a form as to compel me to divert, temporarily, General Colquitt and three and a half regiments of his brigade, to reinforce General Wise, then confronted by at least two brigades of the enemy (about four thousand five hundred strong), pushed forward in advance of the Haulover, or bridge-way between John's and Seabrook's islands, and in addition several regiments of infantry were detached from Sullivan's and James islands, to be in readiness for the development of the enemy's purposes.

On the night of the 11th ultimo I ordered all our batteries bearing on Morris Island to open a heavy simultaneous fire on that portion, as if a cover for an assault, and with the hope of forcing the enemy to withdraw from John's Island to the protection of his own works. This stratagem seems to have produced the desired effect, or assisted to make him abandon the movement on John's Island, and withdraw hastily before daybreak, thus releasing and enabling Colquitt's command to reach General Finegan in time to meet and defeat the enemy at Ocean Pond, some thirteen miles in advance of Lake City.

In the meanwhile other troops, fast as the means of railroad transportation would enable me, had been despatched to the theatre of war from the works around Charleston and Savannah, and the positions covering the [188] Savannah Railroad. This was done, indeed, to a hazardous degree; but, as I informed the Hon. Secretary of War by telegraph, on the 9th ultimo, I regarded it as imperative to attempt to secure the subsistence resources of Florida.

General Finegan was also apprised of these reinforcements on the 11th of February, and instructed to manoeuvre meantime to check or delay the enemy, but to avoid close quarters and unnecessary loss of men.

‘While these reinforcements were en route the enemy again attempted to delay them by a movement with show of force against Whitemarsh Island, near Savannah, and it became a measure of proper precaution to halt at Savannah two of the regiments on the way to General Finegan, for the development of the enemy's plans, one of which regiments, indeed, I felt it but prudent to detain there for the present. The want of adequate rolling-stock on the Georgia and Florida Railroads, and the existence of the gap of some twenty-six miles between the two roads, subjected the concentration of my forces to a delay, which deprived my efforts to that end of full effect. The absence of General Hill making it injudicious for me to leave this State, I directed Brigadier-General Taliaferro to proceed to Florida and assume command, he being an officer in whose ability, field experience, and judgment I had high confidence, not knowing at the time that Brigadier-General William M. Gardner, commanding in Middle Florida, his senior, had returned from sick leave, and was fit for field service, and had gone to General Finegan's headquarters with the troops of his district. Apprised of this, I directed General Gardner, on the 21st ultimo, to assume command, and organize for a vigorous offensive movement preliminary to the arrival of General Taliaferro; but subsequently the victory of Ocean Pond having taken place, in which it was supposed General Gardner, though not in immediate command, had taken an active part, I directed that officer to assume the chief command, and, dividing his forces into divisions, to assign General Taliaferro to one of them. Soon after which, however, I was advised by the War Department of the assignment of Major-General J. Patton Anderson to the command of the forces in the State of Florida.’

General Beauregard had done all in his power to obtain from the War Department the appointment of three major-generals, to take command of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, with a view of thus converting these States into three military districts; and, to that end, he had repeatedly recommended for promotion several of the brigadier-generals then doing service under him. They were officers of tried merit, already familiar with the localities, and enjoyed the full confidence of their men. Had his suggestion been carried out, General Beauregard could have moved, freely and at will, from one district to another, whenever, in his opinion, circumstances required it, without in any way jeopardizing the interests or safety of any one of them. But, from all appearances, [189] the Secretary of War had always opposed the adoption of such a system, and was only induced to take a step in the matter on or about the day of the battle of Ocean Pond. At that time Lieutenant-General D. H. Hill was ordered to Charleston, where he arrived on the 28th of February, eight days after the battle; and Major-General J. Patton Anderson was sent to Florida, but did not reach Camp Milton until the 3d of March—in other words, fourteen days after the battle. General Gilmer, who had been in the Department for several months, but whose services, when he arrived, had not been requested (General Beauregard needed no additional chief-engineer at the time), had been assigned to the District of Georgia, where the Commanding General thought he might be useful, and was already there when the battle of Ocean Pond was fought. The consequence of this tardy action of the War Department was, that General Beauregard, who would have gone to Florida with the first troops sent thither to the assistance of General Finegan, could only do so after the arrival of General Hill; for the enemy, who had made serious demonstrations in General Wise's subdistrict, might at any time renew them at other points, then necessarily denuded of troops for the relief of Florida. He reached Camp Milton on the 2d of March, after travelling two days and nights, with hardly any rest. General Anderson had not yet assumed command.

Immediately after his arrival General Beauregard carefully reconnoitred the locality and its vicinity, and soon obtained all necessary information as to our resources and those of the enemy. The next day (3d) he telegraphed to the War Department the conclusion he had reached, stating, in substance, that he would endeavor by strategy to bring the enemy out of his stronghold— Jacksonville—and would then give him battle, notwithstanding his superior numbers, reported to be 12,000, whereas ours amounted to but 8000. He stated that he had selected a good defensive line, a few miles in rear of the position our troops then occupied, where he hoped to be able to defeat the enemy, without much loss on our side. In answer came a despatch from Richmond, dated March 4th (received on the 5th), telling General Beauregard that he had been misinformed as to the strength of the enemy and of Jacksonville, and that he should attack at once. The reply sent was courteous but firm, and to the following effect: ‘Have been [190] here since the 2d, inquiring into condition of affairs and status of enemy. Am positive in my statement to the Department, and shall not attack. Am willing to transfer the command to next officer in rank—General Anderson—who will attack under the orders of the Department. Will give him all the assistance in my power.’ This seems to have satisfied the War Department, as no further direction was sent from Richmond.

A few days later, and while he was still busily engaged in reorganizing the forces at Camp Milton, and preparing the defensive line referred to above, General Beauregard received by telegraph from New Orleans, via Mobile and Charleston, the sad intelligence of the death of Mrs. Beauregard, whom he had not seen since his departure from Louisiana, on February 23d, 1861: more than three years before. Soldiers and patriots are often compelled to silence the voice of nature, to suppress the longings of a loving heart, to sacrifice all that man so fondly cherishes to duty and to country. Grateful should be the land that inspires such high virtue, and all honor to those who can practise it.

On or about the 18th of March orders from Richmond, withdrawing most of the cavalry from his Department, induced General Beauregard to return at once to Savannah and Charleston, after leaving definite instructions with General Anderson as to his future conduct to meet impending events in his district. They read as follows:

Headquarters in the field, Camp Milton, Fla., March 20th, 1864.
Major-Genl. J. Patton Anderson, Comdg. Dist. of Florida, etc., etc.:
General,—Having to return temporarily to Charleston sooner than I had intended, I desire giving you herewith my general views as to future probable operations against the enemy, now occupying Jacksonville with about 12,000 or 15,000 men, and Palatka with about 1500, as reported by scouts, deserters, etc.

Your present available forces (less than 8000 men) are not sufficient to enable you to drive the enemy out of Jacksonville, fortified and supported by four or five gunboats, as the place is at present. The task with regard to Palatka would be less difficult, if you could detach on such an expedition, to insure its success, a sufficient force from the troops at McGirt's Creek. But this might be attended with more danger than the object in view would warrant.

Your present defensive line, in rear of McGirt's Creek, for a temporary purpose—that is, until the work around Baldwin (twenty miles from Jacksonville) shall be sufficiently completed to enable you to give battle at that point with all the chances of success in your favor, notwithstanding the disparity in numbers. I have ordered Colonel Harris to prepare positions on those [191] works for the guns of the siege-train and the 32-pounder, rifled, intended for the new battery ordered on Fleming's Island.

Should the enemy advance upon you from Jacksonville you should retire on Baldwin slowly, drawing him after you. About one brigade will take position in the lines there, with some cavalry on the left; the other two brigades and main body of cavalry will take positions on the right, ready to take the enemy in flank and rear, by advancing between the Little and Big Cypress Swamps, should he attack the lines in front. In the event of his again being defeated he should be pushed vigorously by the cavalry on his flanks, and the infantry on his rear.

Should the enemy divide his forces by reinforcing strongly those already at Palatka, the proposed battery at Fleming's Island, on the St. John's, should be constructed at once, and torpedoes put in the river, so as to prevent its navigation.

Should the enemy, after fortifying strongly Jacksonville and Palatka, leave those two places, with only a strong garrison in each, a battery should be put up at once near the mouth of Trout Creek, a few miles below, Jacksonville, to cut off its communication with the mouth of the river. This would insure the fall or evacuation of both places.

Colonel D. B. Harris, Chief-Engineer of the Department, will remain with you for the present, and has received my general instructions relative to the works referred to. As soon as you shall be able to dispense with his services you will send him to make the necessary examinations about St. Mark's and Tallahassee, to guard those important points from any attack from the Gulf.

Captain Pliny Bryan, A. A.-Genl., is in charge of the torpedoes to be put in the St. John's River. He must consult Colonel Harris as to their location. Captain Bryan is also a very good signal officer; capable of reading the enemy's signals, he would be a good inspector of that branch of the service.

You will please keep me well advised, at Charleston, of all movements of the enemy in your district. A telegram should be sent at least every other day. I will endeavor to rejoin you as soon as practicable, especially should the enemy intend any offensive movement in your front.11

Look well to your means of transportation and commissary supplies.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,

On the 23d, from Charleston, he telegraphed as follows to the War Department:

Have returned here to make best disposition practicable incident to the departure of the cavalry ordered to Virginia. It has become more urgent [192] than ever to have an efficient officer of higher rank than brigadier-general to command in South Carolina. General Hill has not entered on duty; he is awaiting an answer to his communication to you from this place.

About a week later the following telegram was sent to General Anderson:

Charleston, S. C., March 30th, 1864.
Be prepared to return, soon as enemy's movements shall permit, Colquitt's brigade, then the Virginia regiments, then Harrison's brigade. Meanwhile, if you can safely strike at Palatka, you should do so. How are General Gardner's operations against deserters progressing?

On or about the 9th of April, finding that the enemy had nearly ceased his operations against Charleston and the coast, and believing he could, under such circumstances, absent himself from his command, without inconvenience to the service, General Beauregard notified the War Department that he would soon apply for a short leave of absence; intending, as he had done in June, 1862, to repair to Bladon Springs, Alabama, to seek that quietude of mind and relief from the incessant routine of duty which, on a former occasion, had produced the most beneficial effect upon him. His despatch read as follows:

Charleston, S. C., April 9th, 1864.
General Samuel Cooper, Adjt. and Insp.-Genl., Richmond, Va.:
* * * My health requires I should apply for a leave, dependent, however, on operations of enemy. But I cannot make application without a competent major-general.

The next day he wrote as follows to General Gilmer:

My dear General,—Your favor of the 8th inst. has been received. I fully appreciate the views therein expressed, which are correct, but of difficult execution under present circumstances.

With regard to General M., I am aware of the objections to him, but my fear was to fare worse. You are, no doubt, aware that not those officers who stand the highest in the estimation of the War Department are sent here permanently. In fact, this has been called “the Department of Refuge.” Moreover, my recommendations of and applications for officers are seldom, if ever, heeded. With the exception of Brigadier-General Walker, Colonels Elliott and Harris, and Captain Johnson (the last two engineers), not one of my officers has been promoted since the beginning of the memorable siege of Charleston, although I have recommended several. This is encouraging neither to myself nor to those under my orders. [193]

Since your other letter Major-General J. has been ordered to this Department to relieve you. I hope he will do, but from what I hear I fear not.

I have to request that you will give him, as far as practicable, the benefit of your experience and observation, especially to keep him out of any faux pas or errors. Give him as full and detailed advice as possible, providing for such contingencies as may happen. 1 will, on my part, give him such general instructions as ought to suffice.

Regretting to lose your services, and with my kind regards to Mrs. G., I remain,

Yours, very truly,

General Beauregard was preparing to leave about the middle of April, when a telegram from the War Department was received during the night of the 13th, inquiring if his health would permit him to come and assist General Lee in the defence of Richmond. His answer was:

Charleston, S. C., April 14th, 1864.
Genl. Braxton Bragg, Commander-in-Chief, Richmond, Va.:
Am ready to obey any order for the good of the service. * * *

The order was therefore issued. It was as follows:

Repair with least delay practicable to Weldon, N. C., where instructions will be sent to you.

S. Cooper, Adjt. and Insp.-Genl.

On the 16th no general officer had yet been sent to relieve him. This made him uneasy, and all the more so that troops were again being withdrawn from his Department as rapidly as they could be forwarded. His telegram to General Cooper, of that date, read thus:

Owing to reduction of forces, I shall leave this Department with great concern, which would be much diminished if General Hill were ordered to relieve me; for since his arrival here he has been making himself acquainted with the forces and localities. My Chief of Staff is still quite sick, and cannot be, at present, of much assistance to General Jones. I am confident a positive order from War Department would be obeyed with alacrity by General Hill.

On the 17th he sent the following telegram to General Whiting:

Am ordered to Weldon for present, but am desirous to see you as I pass through Wilmington, on Wednesday, about 10 o'clock.


On the 18th General Cooper received the following despatch:

General Jones has not yet arrived. Have telegraphed Gilmer to come forthwith. I will leave to-morrow. I have recalled all South Carolina and Georgia troops from Florida, except one battalion infantry and one and a half regiments cavalry.

General Jones finally arrived on the 19th. The next day General Beauregard telegraphed General Cooper in these words:

Charleston, S. C., April 20th, 1864.
I have turned over command, temporarily, to General Jones to-day. I will leave for point of destination in one hour.

Before doing so, however, and in order to take official leave of the gallant troops of his Department, he issued to them this address:

Headquarters, Department S. C., Ga., and Fla., Charleston, S. C., April 20th, 1864.
Officers and Soldiers,—By an order of his Excellency the President I am relieved temporarily from the command of this Department by Major-General Sam Jones, to be assigned to another important command.

I leave with the assurance that you will transfer to my successor, a meritorious officer of the Armies of Virginia and Tennessee, that confidence and spirit of prompt obedience to orders which have contributed so much to your success heretofore.

Should you ever become discouraged, remember that a people from whom have sprung such soldiers as those who defended Wagner and Sumter can never be subjugated in a war of independence.

1 ‘Leaves from a Lawyer's Life, Afloat and Ashore,’ p. 115. The date given should be ‘September 9th,’ and not ‘6th.’

2 Captain Harleston remained as desired by Colonel Elliott. On the 24th of November, at 4.30 A. M., while examining obstructions reported as being washed by the tide, that gallant and meritorious young officer was mortally wounded by a Parrott shell, and died a few hours later, lamented by all.

3 ‘Engineer and Artillery Operations against the Defences of Charleston Harbor,’ pp. 79, 80.

4 Page 437.

5 Vol. v., No. 4, p. 145, et seq. The article was also published in the ‘Annals of the War,’ p. 513.

6 Also called the ‘fish torpedo-boat.’

7 It was four months later.

8 On the 7th of October, 1862. See Chapter XXVII.

9 See General Finegan's report, given in full in the Appendix.

10 The whole report, less such portions of it as are given in the text, will be found in the Appendix.

11 General Beauregard verbally advised General Anderson, should the enemy advance, to give him battle; and should the high grass covering the country be sufficiently dry and the wind favorable, to set that grass (some distance in his own front) on fire just before engaging the enemy; then to charge him, while in confusion, with vigor, making as great use of his own artillery and cavalry as possible.

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