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248

WRECK OF BURNSIDE'S FLEET.

some twenty thousand troops under Burnside, an energetic and popular leader. The country was kept in profound ig. norance of its destination, but all believed, when it sailed on the eleventh from Hampton roads, that a great and decisive blow would be struck somewhere on the southern coast and waited with the deepest anxiety to hear from it.

At last the mystery that had enveloped it was cleared up, and the news that the fleet had been scattered and wrecked, burst like a clap of thunder on the land. It was expected that the south would be kept in complete ignorance of its destination, till the thunder of cannon against some of its strongholds should reveal it; but alas, a part of it lay dismantled and wrapt in a fierce storm in Pamlico Sound, and a part pounding on the bar in Hatteras Inlet, vainly endeavoring to get over-exposing at the same time its destination and its powerlessness to effect any immediate injury. The largest vessels had been contracted for to draw only a certain depth of water which was known to exist on the swash, but now they were found to draw more, and hence were totally useless to the expedition. Burnside had reason to expect the storm, for this part of our coast, at all times dangerous to navigation, is especially so in midwinter, but not this deception respecting the draft of vessels. His great heart was overwhelmed at the magnitude of the disaster that had overtaken him, yet it did not yield to despair. A religious man, and believing in the righteousness of his cause, he felt confident that the Supreme Governor of the Universe would overrule it for good.

The propeller “City of New York” foundered on the bar, and for forty-eight hours lay at the mercy of the sea-the waves making a clean breach over her. She was laden with ammunition, tents, blankets, and valuable stores, and her loss would be a terrible blow to the expedition. But though thirty vessels lay in sight they were unable to afford any

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relief, and all Tuesday and Tuesday night she wallowed amid the breakers, a helpless wreck. All her boats but one had been carried away or crushed, and her despairing crew lashed themselves to the rigging to prevent being swept away by the seas that incessantly rolled over her. Their destruction seemed inevitable, when two mechanics from Newark, Wm. H. and Chas. A. Beach, volunteered the desperate undertaking of launching the last remaining boat and pulling through the surf to the fleet. They succeeded with the aid of three others, and obtaining surf boats, saved the entire crew.

The vessel, however, was a total loss. The steam gun boat Zouave sunk at her anchorage, and a transport laden with stores went down on the bar. The Ann E. Thompson, with the New Jersey Ninth volunteers lay outside, and Colonel Allen and Surgeon F. S. Weller took a boat and pulled over the bar through the inlet, to report their condition. Having accomplished their perilous undertaking successfully, they attempted to return, when the boat swamped in the heavy seas, and they both perished. Other vessels got aground-one transport was blown to sea, and for five days was without water,—the Pocahontas, loaded with a hundred and twenty-three horses, was wrecked, and and all but seventeen perished.

The situation in which Burnside' now found himself was enough to fill a less resolute heart than his with despair. The magnificent fleet that a few days before had crowded after his flag as he moved over the ocean, was scattered and wrecked-his ammunition and stores at the bottom of the sea, while his best vessels lay tossing outside, unable to cross the bar.

To lighten these so that they could be got over, was the first object to be secured, and after incredible labor, was accomplished. But even then he could do nothing, for the weather was terrible even for this inhospitable coast, and

250

FORT PULASKI OUT OFF.

storm after storm swept him with a fury that threatened to make a complete end of the destruction that had been begun. The immense pains that had been taken to keep the precise point against which his expedition was to operate, had all been in vain. The elements had revealed it to the

enemy, and ample time was now given him to prepare for his defense. Surprise was out of the question, and if any thing was to be accomplished it must be by hard fighting. At all events, this imposing land and naval force must lie idle the remainder of the month.

While Burnside was attempting to repair his disasters, in Pamlico Sound, events were occurring on the Georgia coast which promised in a short time to place fort Pulaski in our possession, if not Savannah itself. Reconnoissances had been pushed by Sherman, at Port Royal, up the various inlets and channels that run from the Savannah river through the vast marshes that border it to the sea, to ascertain if there was any way of getting to Savannah, without passing the guns of fort Pulaski. After immense labor and hardship, Lieutenant Wilson, chief of Topographical engineers, succeeded in reaching the Savannah through Mud and Wright rivers, as they were called, and reported them navigable for gun boats of light draught. In the mean time, another passage, on the right side of the Savannah, leading to it from Wil. mington Sound, had been discovered. Sherman immediately determined to avail himself of both of these, and succeeded finally in cutting off Pulaski from Savannah. Batteries were erected on mud banks scarcely above the water level, and guns mounted where the rebels deemed such a thing impossible; and eventually an island in the river itself was occèu. pied, which shut up Tatnall's fleet, and filled the people of Savannah with consternation.

In the prosecution of these enterprises the soldiers-wêre subjected to trials more severe than those encountered on

LAUNCH OF THE MONITOR.

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the battle field, and exhibited an endurance and energy that entitles them to the highest praise.

But perhaps no event of this month wrought so great a change in the manner of prosecuting the war, as the resig. nation of Cameron. The President who had clung to him with a strange tenacity, was at length compelled to yield to the pressure of public opinion, and in a gentle and diplomatic manner informed him that he would dispense with his services. Mr. Stanton of Pennsylvania, a democrat, was appointed in his place, and the sudden energy he insused into his department, inspired both army and people with contidence. It was believed that the day of contractors was over, and that the war would begin in earnest.

The fall of the former Secretary of War was broken by his nomination soon after, as minister to the Russian Court. In doing this, the President followed a custom universaliy practiced by European monarchs, but one which was considered of a very doubtful propriety by the American people.

But the most important event that marked the close of the month, on the Atlantic coast, was the launch of the Erics. son floating battery, on the thirtieth day of January, at Green Point. Being constructed on an entirely new mode, and asserted by her inventor to be absolutely shot-proof, she excited & good deal of curiosity. With her deck but just above water, aná surmounted by a single, irou-revoiving turret, pierced for only two heavy guns, she presented a novel appearance. She was a naval curiosity, and looked upon as an experinient on a small scale, which might work some changes in naval architecture, nothing more. Those wlio saw her slip off into the water, little dreamed that in a few days she was to save us from disasters that the imagination trembles even yet to contemplate-startle the maritime nations from their composure, and work a sudden revolution in naval warfare the like of which the world has never witnessed.

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TO BE BROKEN ON THE TENNESSEE AND CUMBERLAND-FORTS HENRY AND

DONELSON-EXPEDITION AGAINST THE FORMER-CAPTURE OF IT BY FOOTE WITH HIS GUN BOATS-DESCRIPTION OF—EXPEDITION UP THE TENNESSEE UNDER 'LIEUTENANT PHELPS-GRANT ADVANCES ACROSS THE COUNTRY AND

INVESTS FORT DONELSON-ATTACK BY FOOTE WITH HIS GUN BOATS.

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IOUGH the month of January had shown considerable

activity in the field in various sections of the country, it was the mere skirmishing of outposts compared to the tremendous movements that inaugurated the month of February. Nearly a year had passed since the war had commenced, and though the Federal forces had gained some valuable points, yet no deadly blow had been struck at the rebellion.

The government was well aware that whatever advantages were secured elsewhere, they would avail but little so long as the valley of the Mississippi remained in the hands of the enemy. Bowling Green and Columbus were places of immense strength, and it had long contemplated the plan of breaking the rebel line of defenses by the way of the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers, instead of at these points. These streams flow north into the Ohio, and while in the state of Kentucky, run nearly parallel and not far apart. In the winter time, they are so swollen that they admit for a long distance the passage of first class steamboats. Where they cross the Tennessee line they are about twelve miles apart, and here the enemy had erected two strong fortifications---fort Donelson on the Cumberland and fort Henry on the Tennessee. Could these points be forced, both Bowling Green and Colum

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