Page images
PDF
EPUB

FORT PICK ENS.

163

NIGHT ATTACK ON SANTA ROSAS.

The enemy seemed at this time to have formed a cullcerted plan to drive us entirely from their shores. For fourr days after this, a similar attack was made on Santa Rosa's Island, on which fort Pickens stands. A force fifteen hundred or two thousand strong, landed on the island about four miles from the fort, where they remained undiscovered till next night, when they surprised the camp of Wilson's Zouaves, situated a mile from the fort, intending to follow up their success, and carrry the place by assault. The plan was well laid, and every thing seemed to favor its successful execution. The night was pitchy dark and their movements were so noiseless and sudden, that they were almost within the camp before they were discovered. Their shots and shouts together, roused the regiment from its slumbers, and though the long roll was beat, a.,d an attempt made to form the men, yet the onset was so sudden, that in the utter darkness but little was done. The flash of musketry only served to reveal the disorder, and soon the rebel torch was applied to the entire camp. In a moment the tents were in a blaze, the conflagration lighting up a scene of utter terror and confusion. The shouts of officers and men mingled in with the crackling of flames and crash of musketry, while on every side swarmed the infuriated foe. The Zouaves, panic-stricken, fled for the protection of two batteries, situated about four hundred yards from the fort, followed by the enemy, who in the darkness was now also thrown into confusion. In the mean time, as the sound of the first volleys broke over fort Pickens, the long roll was beat, and Major Vogdes hurried off with two companies in the direction of the firing; while the guns on the ramparts were ordered to be manned. Soon after, the commander, Colonel Brown, saw the flames of the

164

THE RAM MANASSA8.

burning camp, and sent off a staff officer to communicate with Major Vogdes. But the latter had proceeded scarce a mi!e, when he became, in the darkness, entangled in masses of the enemy, and before a shot could be fired, was made prisoner. Major Arnold-was immediately sent to take command, but before he could arrive, the regulars under Captain Hildt had opened such a destructive fire on the enemy, that they beat a retreat. Colonel Wilson now succeeded in rallying a part of his regiment, and other companies from the fort coming up, they pushed on after the flying enemy, who made for their boats, nearly three miles distant. Reaching them, they rushed madly into the water, followed by the steady fire of their pursuers. When the boats shoved off, the murderous volleys plunging into the closely packed masses, struck them down by scores. Our loss all told was about sixty-that of the enemy could only be guessed at. As, on Hatteras Shoals, the main success of the enemy con. sisted in destroying the camp of a regiment..

THE RAM MANASSAS ATTACKS OUR FLEET.

The very next week Captain Hollins, formerly of the United States navy, now in commund of the rebel naval force at New Orleans, made an attempt to destroy our blockading fleet at the mouth of the Mississippi. In an iron-clad vessel, armed with a long iron prow, accompanied by two small steamers, he came boldly down, on the night of the twelfth, and before the fleet was aware of his presence, dushed in their midst, and steered straight for the Richmond The alarm was scarcely given, when the . ram" struck ner well forward, going through her side with a tremendous cash, and tearing the schooner from her fastenings. Slowly backing, the uncouth monster then made a dash at her stern, but succeeded only in tearing off a few planks. Though

THE MANASSAS DEFEATED.

165

pass, leay.

taken by surprise, the crew coolly responded to the beat to quarters, and as the ram passed abreast of the ship, an entire broadside was poured into it. Hollins, finding one of his engines would not work, now endeavored to haul off, and sent up a signal rocket. The blazing curve had hardly disappeared in the darkness, when farther up the river, a broad, bright flame leaped into the air, revealing a row of fire ships moving down to complete the work of destructon. The whole river was lighted up by the steadily increasing conflagration. The Richmond and Preble immcdiately dropped down the pass, while the Vincennes and Water Witch remained to watch and see what could be done. The fire ships kept steadily on their way, and the Vincennes seeing that she would be struck if she remained where she was, also concluded to drop down the ing the Water Witch, as she was faster and smaller and could easily get out of the way, to remain and report proceedings. Seeing, at length, several gun-boats coming down the river, she finally went below to give the information, when, to her dismay, she found the Vincennes fast aground on the bar. To complete the disaster, the Richmond soon grounded also; and it looked for a moment as if the vessels must be destroyed. But fortunately, the latter vessel swung round, broadside upstream as she struck, so that she could bring her guns to bear admirably. They immediately opened a rapid and furious fire, which so disconcerted the enemy that he abandoned the enterprise, and withdrew up the river.

Hollins on his return to New Orleans, gave such an extravagant report of his achievements that the city was Wild with delight, and made an illumination in his honor, and hailed him as the hero of the day. To the excited imagination of the people, the navigation of the Mississippi seemed already open. The accounts first received at the north, har

166

A GALLANT AFFAIR.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

ing come through rebel sources created much uneasiness for the safety of the blockading fleet in the Mississippi, and the papers teemed with prognostications respecting the invulnerability of these new war vessels. But not long after, a true report of the occurrence was received, when Hollins became the subject of boundless ridicule, instead of dread. Enough, however, was accomplished to furnish the south with important suggestions, and should have given the Secretary of the Navy a hint, which if he had taken, would have saved us much future trouble.

The first half of October was full of promise to the Union men in Missouri. Fremont, with a well appointed army, was in the field, while in almost every minor engagement the Federal troops were victorious.

FIGHT AT LEBANON.

On the thirteenth, a brilliant dash was made by Major Wright with two companies of cavalry, upon three hundred mounted rebels, near Lebanon, in which the latter were completely routed, with the loss of some fifty or sixty killed and wounded, and thirty-six prisoners. Many of the wounded at Wilson's Creek being on their way in ambulances from Springfield, happened to be near the scene of action, and witnessed it. The rebels were drawn up parallel with the road, expecting an attack in front. They had stood in this position nearly an hour and a half,--the ambulances containing the Union wounded a little way off, where they had been stopped, with the brutal declaration that they wouid soon give them "another load of wounded to take along,”—when suddenly, over the brow of the hill in their rear, came bounding the two companies of cavalry. One blast of the bugle, -one wild cheer,--and they dashed down. Suddenly halting when within a hundred paces, they delivered a murderous volley. In a twinkling, the rebels scattered like chaff

THE ENEMY AGAIN DEFEATED.

167

before the wind, tearing through the brush, and along the road, in their mad flight towards Lebanon. The drivers of the ambulances threw up their hats, and shouted. The cavalry returned the shout with a loud hurrah; and even the poor wounded, raising their heads, took up the cheer and sent it gloriously over the field. Wyman (in command of the whole force) arrived soon after the battle was over. The two gallant captains, Switzler and Montgomery, were highly commended. The latter, after emptying every barrel of his revolver, and bending his sword nearly double in a "hand-to-hand fight, charged a last rebel with his clenched fist, and knocked him from his horse.

One day after, the same officer pounced upon Linn Creek, and captured twenty-four rebels. The next day, Lexington, with sixty or seventy prisoners, fell into our hands.

FIGHT AT FREDERICKTOWN.

In the mean time, the rebels under the notorious Jeff. Thompson and Colonel Lowe were reported to be near Fredericktown, advancing on Pilot Knob and Ironton. A reconñoitering :)arty under Colonel Carlin had a severe skirmish with them, when three thousand Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin troops, under Colonels Carlin, Ross, and Baker, started to give them battle. On the twenty-first, the combined forces were in Fredericktown, which the enemy had evacu. ated the night before. Pushing on after him, they had not proceeded a mile when they came upon him drawn up in line of battle. The Federal troops immediately advanced to the attack. The enemy opened with grape and canister; but nothing could check the daring soldiers of the west, (now they had at last got the foe within striking distance,) and sending up their loud shouts, they pressed over the broken field, -regiment after regiment, and company after

« PreviousContinue »