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Official reports of actions with Federal gunboats, Ironclads and vessels of the U. S. Navy, during the war between the States, by officers of field Artillery P. A. C. S.

No. 1.

quarters, Faries's Battery, P. L. A., First Brigade Infantry, (Mouton's Brigade), Forces South of Red River, Bisland Plantation, Bayou Teche, La., November 10th, 1862.
Capt. R. C. Bond, Chief of Artillery.
Sir,—I have the honor to report that on the afternoon of the 3d November, instant, the right section of this battery, consisting of two three-inch rifled guns, Parrott pattern, commanded by First Lieut. B. F. Winchester, having taken position at Cornay's residence, [55] on the right and a short distance in advance of the Confederate States gunboat J. A. Cotton (four guns), commanding the obstructions at the bridge just below that place; opened fire about 4 o'clock on the four gunboats of the enemy then approaching, engaging three boats following each other in succession, for about thirty minutes, under a severe fire from their heavy guns, at short range and unsupported, but in battery with a section of Capt. O. J. Semmes's battery, consisting of two James Rifles (bronze twelve-pounders), under First Lieut. J. A. A. West. Both sections then fell back to the Bayou Teche road, in the rear of and above their first position, where after firing ten to fifteen minutes, retired in good order and returned to this camp.

The nature of the ground and cover in our out-front (guns being in battery among a number of large live oak trees) prevented the effect of all the shots being observed, it has been ascertained, however, and believed that two of the gunboats retired badly crippled, and from the cries heard on board, a number of the enemy must have been wounded.

Being the first engagement for this section and for most of the men, all behaved well under fire. The horses for new ones were remarkably quiet.

I have no casualties to report.

The distance fired from the first position was about 300 yards. The number of shell (fuse) fired by this section was fifty-eight.

I am, very respectfully,

Your obedient servant,

T. A. Faries, Capt. Comd'g Battery, Mouton's Brigade.

notes.—The following particulars of the fight from the Federals were received through the lines after this report was written:

The U. S. S. “ Kinsman” had the brunt of the combat, she received fifty-four shot and shell in her hull and upper works; had one man killed and five wounded.

The U. S. S. “Estrella” received three shot; had two men killed and one mortally wounded.

The U. S. S. “Calhoun” was struck by eight shot or shell; received no serious damage; no casualties reported.

The U. S. S. “Diana” received three shell, her rudder was rendered useless, being badly shattered; she had to be towed back to Berwick's Bay.

The C. S. S. J. A. Cotton was armed with one thirty-two pounder, smooth bore, and two twenty-four pounders, smooth bore, [56] in casemate, covered with railroad iron. On her upper or hurricane deck she had one nine-pounder, rifled piece, on field carriage; her casemate extended aft sufficiently to protect her boilers and engines. She was the finest boat that had been built for the Bayou Sara route; her cabin was one of the most elegant on the Mississippi river; her engines were compound, high and low pressure. In the month of January following it became necessary to burn her to prevent her falling into the hands of the enemy.

The Federal gunboat Diana was armed with one thirty-two pounder Parrott rifle on her open bow and one or two twelve-pounder bronze Dahlgren rifled boat howitzers. Several months after the fight of November 3d, while making a reconnoissance a few miles lower down, she was engaged by the ‘Valverde’ battery, Captain Sayres, C. S. A. (attached to Sibley's Texas brigade), and a detachment of cavalry. After a great slaughter among her crew she was captured with nearly two hundred infantry aboard. The boilers of the ‘Diana’ were protected by two thicknesses of wrought bar iron, four inches by one and a-quarter inches, laid flat on a wood backing, built at an angle of thirty to forty degrees. The solid shot from Captain Sayres's six-pounder bronze smooth-bore guns penetrated this wrought iron in several places, making indentations of three quarters to one inch in depth, one six-pound solid shot passing entirely through the double iron plating into the wood backing. Distance fired by the field artillery was from one hundred and fifty to two hundred yards.

The pilot-house was protected by scantling placed upright edgewise, arranged like a vertical, fixed Venetian blind, through the narrow open spaces of which the pilot could see in four directions and be protected from the fire of small arms. The Captain and pilot occupied the pilot-house on this occasion. The captain was killed by the side of the pilot, who jumped overboard, and, swimming to the marsh on the left bank of the Teche, made his way to Berwick's Bay and reported the loss of the boat.

The ‘Diana’ was repaired and was posted in the centre of the Confederate line at the battle of ‘Bisland,’ April 12th and 13th, 1863. Captain O. J. Semmes, of the field artillery, was detached from his battery and placed in command of her for the occasion, fighting her with his characteristic gallantry. She was disabled by the fire of the three or four Federal gunboats in the bayou in the rear of the Federal line of battle. Later, when Major-General R. Taylor, the commander in-chief, fell back up the bayou, the gallant Semmes, to prevent her [57] recovery by the enemy, after landing his crew applied the torch to her, and she blew up soon after.

The pilot who was detailed from Faries's battery for the ‘Diana’ after she became a Confederate gunboat, and the pilot who escaped when she was captured from the Federals, both occupied the pilothouse of the steamer W. S. Pike, a Bayou Sara packet, some thirteen years after the events referred to.

The United States gunboat Diana was captured in Bayou Teche, La., March 28, 1863.


(Federal army correspondent's account.) fight near Brashear City.

The New Orleans Delta of November 6th, 1862, contains the following relative to a naval expedition which started from New Orleans, and having made the trip by sea, arrived at the pier at Berwick's Bay too late to prevent the Confederate forces under Brigadier-General Alfred Mouton from crossing, a day or two after his engagement with General Weitzel, on Bayou Lafourche, at ‘Texana’:

‘The Confederates crossed the bay to the Berwick side at the extremity of the Opelousas railroad, and marched up to a point fourteen miles above the bay, and there obstructed the bayou. They had destroyed the railroad bridge at Bayou Boeuf, some eight miles below Brashear City. Colonel Thomas, of the Eighth Vermont regiment, is now repairing it. From Thibodeaux to Brashear City it is twenty-nine miles. One portion of General Weitzel's corps d'armee is at Tigerville, half way between these two points, and as soon as the communications are established, he will be able to throw his forces in a few hours on any point he wishes. We know that the Bayou Teche falls into the Atchafalaya very near Berwick's Bay, and by this bayou you pentrate through all the parts of Attakapas. Opelousas, Vermillionville, St. Martinsville and Franklin are on its banks.’

The correspondent of the Delta states that

the “flotilla” arrived on the 1st of November, at night, in view of Brashear City. The steamer Kinsman drawing too much water, Lieutenant Buchanan tried to pass the steamer Estrella with his supplementary force, but the Estrella grounding, he came to the entrance of the bay and gave chase to the Confederate States steamer Hart (transport), but without catching her. The next day (2d) the Estrella got off, and arrived with the St. Mary. The day following came the steamers Calhoun and Diana. The night of our arrival we chased the gunboat Cotton; [58] she being of superior speed, made her escape. The same night we took the Rebel steamer A. B. Segur, a little steamboat having about the dimensions of the fancy Natchez; she is of great service to us. On the 3d of November all the gunboats went up the Bayou Teche and passed the obstructions that the Rebels had made to stop the passage. Fourteen miles from its mouth we met the Rebels. The engagement lasted two hours; the Rebels dispersed, and the Cotton disappeared.

The Kinsman received the brunt of the engagement. She received fifty-four shots in her wood and upperworks, and had one man killed and five wounded. Little John Bellins had his leg fractured, and died to-day from the effects of amputation. The Estrella received three shots; had two soldiers killed, and one man mortally wounded. The Diana received three shots; as her rudder was badly shattered, she had to be towed back to the bay.

The Calhoun was struck eight times without serious damage. Captain Wiggins behaved nobly; the position of his vessel exposed him at once to the fire of the artillery on shore and the guns of the Cotton. He silenced one and answered the other. All the Rebel army was there, amounting, it is said, to from three to four thousand men, and, we are assured, seventy pieces of light artillery. We are advised to-day that they suffered greatly, and the steamer Cotton careened. They had made, on the right side of the bayou, a mud fort, but evacuated it before our arrival. We tried to remove the obstructions-without success. We will succeed when General Weitzel arrives, and will protect the banks from the sharpshooters of the enemy.

The enemy destroyed a thousand hogsheads of sugar, a lot of molasses, and burnt ninety cars and some locomotives. The Cotton is an iron-clad, and her guns work perfectly. She has a long 32-pounder, four 24's, and ten 6-pounder long-range guns.1 The iron covering of the Diana and Kinsman resisted perfectly their fire. Captain McLoefflin was——on the Calhoun with his company. He came on shore with his men and tried to get opposite the Cotton, [59] but this boat had left when he arrived. We will take her if she is not sunk. Yesterday (5th November) Lieutenant Buchanan returned from another trip up the Bayou Teche with the Estrella. He had three men killed by bullets. The Cotton was there. The Rebels placed a battery on each side of the bayou, but he succeeded in chasing them away. I believe the Cotton is casemated, for our shells ricochet on her. We could see clearly our shot strike her, but she fights with her bow to the front.

1 The mud fort referred to—‘Battery Fuselier’—was several mites above the obstructions. Four pieces of field artillery, rifled 10 and 12-pounders, and thefour guns of the Cotton, unsupported by cavalry or infantry, composed the entire force on the Confederate side. Such exaggerated accounts of engagements during the late war has had its influence on Northern historians; and it is not surprising when a writer magnifies four pieces of artillery into seventy. They tried to remove the obstructions, without success, after they had passed them.

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Diana (5)
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B. F. Winchester (1)
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