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HEADQUARTERS BRACKETT'S MINNESOTA BATTALION, CAMP No. 36, NORTH-WEST INDIAN EXPEDITION, August 1, 1864.
CAPTAIN: I have the honor to submit the following report of the part I took with my command in the action with hostile Indians on July twenty-eighth, 1864:
I was first ordered to move in column on the right, which I did. Subsequently I received orders to support the line of skirmishers in advance, which I did by bringing companies B and C in line, with companies A and D as support. I moved in that order some three miles when, finding the enemy massing in considerable force and attacking my right, I engaged them with company B dismounted, at the same time asking and receiving permission of you to charge them with sabre. I immediately gave the order to Captain E. Y. Shelley, of company C, to charge them with his company, which order he executed and followed up in a manner highly creditable to himself and those under him. The charge resulted in the killing of thirteen Indians found on the field, and entirely routing the balance. Finding the enemy forming in large numbers on my left and front I rallied my whole command and found it necessary to dismount them; as I was being severely annoyed from ravines and thickets impracticable for horse. After severe skirmishing, drove the enemy to the base of a high hill, where I met with a strong opposition, they being in strong force on its summit. I finally succeeded in taking possession of the hill, which I held, driving the enemy far beyond. The nature of the ground in front rendering it impracticable to pursue further at the time, I rejoined your command with my battalion.
In the charge Sergeant George W. Northrup, of company C, fell, after receiving eight or ten wounds, one of which pierced him through the heart. Horatio Austin, of Company D, was also killed while skirmishing. My loss during the day was two killed and eight wounded. I also lost twenty-two horses, punishing the enemy by killing twenty-seven found dead on the field afterward, besides quite a number that were seen to have been carried off by them.
I take pleasure, General, in saying that my officers and men displayed an amount of courage, coolness, and skill worthy of veterans that they
and feeling that the facts have not yet been placed before the public as they occurred, and as justice to the officers and men demand, I ask a place in your columns for the publication of as accurate a report as, I think, can be made, having been an eye-witness, and, I assure you, an impartial one, to the incidents and results of this expedition. For the correctness and accuracy of my statements, my only reference will be the brave officers and men who composed the force, the two leading objects of my communication being to adhere strictly to the truth and to award to each gallant soldier his share of honor in this movement, which, if it was not a victory, was no less a test of their courage, endurance and forbearance, under the most trying circumstances, the responsibility of which rests not with them. I will not enter into the details of the expedition before reaching Prestonburg, as the march was without incidents worthy of recital. I will only mention, in the opening of my account, the fact which was, of itself, a most shameful error, six hundred of the horses which were to be used in this move, belonging to the First division, having been inspected by the Division and Brigade Inspectors, were condemned as unfit for service for a single day. A large number besides these were reported by the inspectors as probably fit for a march of three days. Upon these animals, broken down by thirty days' service with General Hobson in driving Adam Johnson from Western Kentucky, the men were started; the result was that many of the soldiers were dismounted after a few miles' travel, and walked the remainder of the trip to the salt-works and back.
The expedition left Prestonburg on Sunday, the twenty-sixth day of September, under the immediate command of General McLean, the whole under the command of Brevet MajorGeneral Burbridge. The brigade marched in the rear from Prestonburg to Ivy Mountain, crossing this dangerous pass in the night, the road being so rough and narrow that the bat tery under command of Lieutenant Wallace had to be taken to pieces to effect the crossing, which would only admit one animal or man at a time. The column was occasionally bushwhacked up to the Virginia line, when we struck the Virginia State Road, one of the finest mountain roads in the United States, notwithstanding one correspondent has represented it as almost impassable. No skirmishing occurred until we were near the rebel General Berran's house, in the Richland Valley, where the Fourth brigade was engaged in two slight skirmishes for a short time, in which they drove the enemy before them. The troops encamped at General Berran's on the night of the thirtieth of September. The following morning, October first, the march was resumed, the First brigade in advance. Four miles from this point we reached the foot of Clinch Mountain, the Thirtieth Kentucky, Colonel Alexander, with two companies of the Fortieth Kentucky, under Colonel Litteral, being
the advance guard. By felling trees the rebels ketry, thereby rendering useless all their efforts had completely blockaded the road over the to accomplish the end intended. The position mountain. This was naturally a very strong that Hanson was expected to carry was a heavy position. Several hundred rebels, under the fort, protected on its left by an extensive riflecommand of Giltner, having taken possession pit, situated on the top of a cliff not less than of, and secreted themselves on the side of the one hundred and fifty feet high, in order to mountain, poured a galling fire into the head of reach which he would have been compelled to the column. The Thirtieth, Forty-fifth and For- ford a river from ten to fifteen feet deep, and tieth Kentucky were by General Hobson dis- ascend the cliff, which was almost perpendicular. mounted immediately, and ordered to drive the The gallant Hanson could not execute impossirebels from their position. The Fortieth Ken- bilities, and has probably lost his life in attempttucky was sent to the left to co-operate withing to lead his men where it would have been the Forty-fifth and Thirtieth Kentucky, who certain destruction to them. were on the right. After stubborn fighting the Colonel Hanson was supported by Colonel rebels yielded their position, with the loss of True, with the Fortieth Kentucky mounted inseveral killed and wounded. Two Federals fantry, and Forty-fifth Kentucky mounted inwere killed, and about ten or twelve wounded, fantry, until Hanson fell, when True was ordered among whom was Captain Adams, Forty-fifth to take command of Hanson's brigade, and held Kentucky. All the officers and troops behaved the position until the troops were ordered to with great gallantry. The column proceeded to withdraw. I may here mention that at one time Laurel Gap, where they again encountered the Colonel Ratcliffe's brigade (Fourth) drove the rebels. This also was a formidable position, enemy into the town of Saltville, and held a posiand had it been held with tenacity, it would tion nearer the salt-works than any other portion have been almost impossible to dislodge the of the command. Lieutenant-Colonel Bentley disenemy. By the masterly handling of his troops tinguished himself greatly, commanding the General Hobson compelled the enemy to fall Twelfth Ohio volunteer cavalry. About one back. The Fortieth and Thirteenth Kentucky, o'clock the Thirtieth Kentucky mounted infantry under command of Colonel True, were enabled, and Thirteenth Kentucky cavalry were ordered by their position, to do most of the fighting, and by Hobson to cross the river at a point oppopouring a galling fire into the enemy. Lieu- site the centre of our line, and carry the rebel tenant-Colonel Morrison, Colonel Alexander, centre, which they did, with unflinching bravery, Colonel True, Colonel Starling and Captain Page under fearful fire from rebel batteries, killing displayed great courage, as did the entire com- and wounding a number of rebels. Here we mand. Any rash movement upon the part of also lost heavily in officers and men, but our Hobson at this place would certainly have men not only held their position, but drove the brought heavy loss to his men. The troops en- enemy to their works. Supporting this move, a camped a little beyond this point, about six detachment of the Eleventh Kentucky cavalry miles from the salt-works. The march was re- of seventy-five men, under Lieutenant-Colonel sumed the following morning, the Third brigade Grier, made a dashing charge. At this critical having the advance, when we arrived within moment, Lieutenant Wallace, Fortieth Kentucky, two miles of the salt-works, when the skirmish-was ordered to bring up his howitzer battery ing commenced, and there was constant fighting for the purpose of shelling the rebel lines, the from this point to the works. Colonel Hanson reports from which sounded like pop-guns, and all his troops acted with marked courage, when compared with the thunder of the rebel and finally drove the rebels to their lines near artillery. Of course all these movements occuthe salt-works. Here the troops were arranged pied time, and about four o'clock General Hobto deliver battle, the various regiments holding son was ordered by the commanding general to the following positions: The Third brigade on assume command of all the troops, and withthe right, the First brigade the centre, and draw them from the field, our ammunition being Fourth brigade the left. Our lines thus formed exhausted, the men without rations, and exposed a semicircle. The fight was opened on the left to almost certain capture. When the facts beby Colonel Ratcliffe, early in the day. Terrific came known to the troops that the command fighting occurred. The action soon became had been turned over to Hobson, there were general along our entire line. Our attack de-outbursts of joy and many demonstrations of veloped, in less than thirty minutes, the fact, confidence; and during our entire subsequent that in addition to the strongest natural fortifi- march he was received by the troops with cations, the rebel position had been strengthened cheers and shouts as he moved backward and by the most formidable earthworks, erected | forward, looking after their safety and interests. with skill and mounted with rifled guns of heavy General Hobson ordered fires to be built along calibre and long range. It was also quickly the lines, and as soon as it was dark he withdiscovered that they had received heavy rein- drew his army in order and without confusion. forcements, as their long lines of infantry and He immediately sent forward two regiments to cavalry, which were held in reserve, were take possession of, and hold Laurel Gap, to plainly in view. The position assigned Colonel prevent a flank movement by the rebels. The Hanson and his men exposed them to a wither-army marched this night eighteen miles, arriving ing and deadly fire from both artillery and mus- at Berran's the following morning, where we
found Generals Burbridge and McLean. I must here remark that had the rebels been permitted to reach the gap before us, the entire command would probably have been captured, generals and all. General Hobson personally superintended the crossing of the troops through the dangerous pass of Laurel Gap that night, and was the last man to leave.
During our retreat the troops suffered great privations, substituting paw-paws, wild grapes, &c., for rations. The enemy was skirmishing constantly with our rear, in which Lieutenant-Colonel Mason, of the Eleventh Michigan, was killed. General Hobson sent detachments forward to hold the road on both flanks, to prevent the enemy from getting in our front, and to him the entire command feels indebted for bringing them safely back to Mount Sterling.
Before closing, I may mention that a detachment of the First Kentucky cavalry and Third Kentucky mounted infantry, consisting of two hundred men, under Major Keene, were sent through Pound Gap, to make a diversion in our favor. They had a fight with Prentice at Gladesville, Virginia, and whipped him, scattering the rebels and capturing their cannon. I am unable to give any account of further movements of Generals Burbridge and McLean, as they were not with the troops at any time after the command was assumed by Hobson. But I have learned that they arrived safely in Cincinnati almost a week previous to the arrival of the troops in Mount Sterling. I have endeavored to be brief and just, and if any have not been mentioned, whose bravery deserved it, the neglect is unintentional, for all deserved great praise. Although I have been in several expeditions previous to this, I have not before fought under either of the three Generals of this expedition, and can, therefore, honestly disclaim any of that preference which too frequently leads to misrepresentations. Public comment alone can rectify the wrong wherever it may be.
A SOUTHERN ACCOUNT.
For the truth of history, it is proper that we should give the country the facts connected with the late battle fought at Saltville, on Sunday the second instant. We have the facts, given us by an intelligent and reliable friend, who was present and witnessed almost the entire engagement.
It was the purpose of the enemy, under Burbridge, to take the salt-works and then form a junction with Gillem, and destroy the lead and iron-works, and then by rapid movements, form a junction with Sheridan, at or near Lynchburg. The success of these plans would have told heavily on our cause and on our country; but, thanks to the skill and valor of our officers and men, these schemes, so cunningly devised, and so extensively planned, have failed; the enemy with a large force, has been whipped, and his disorganized and scattered ranks driven from our lines.
Colonel H. L. Giltner, of the Fourth Kentucky cavalry, met the enemy, and for three days and nights contested, with great energy, his advance; but his superior strength finally pressed the gallant Giltner and his men back on the salt-works. We had, by this time, collected a little less than seven hundred reserves, and a number of pieces of artillery. Colonel Trigg, of the Fifty-fourth Virginia, had volunteered his services, and was actively engaged in disposing of the forces, when Brigadier-General A. E. Jackson arrived.
The enemy were now in our front in full force, with eleven regiments and eight pieces of artillery. The contest seemed almost hopeless, yet surrender would have been disgraceful.
All the ammunition belonging to the sixpound guns, and much of that belonging to the small arms had been sent back the evening before, nine miles distant, to Glade Springs. It seemed almost madness to yield, and yet destruction to contend. This was early in the morning, before ten o'clock. Just then, Brigadier-General John S. Williams, with his magnificent division, composed of three brigades, arrived. A new feeling and spirit at once came over the face of affairs. He promptly assumed command of all the troops present, and made his dispositions. The First Kentucky, Colonel Griffith; Tenth Kentucky, Colonel Trimble; Fourth Kentucky, Colonel Giltner; two battalions of reserves, Brigadier-General Robertson's brigade, Colonel Debrill's brigade, and Colonel Breckinridge's Ninth Kentucky cavalry, constituted our line of battle, extending from left to right in the order in which they are mentioned. We had also a number of artillery, well posted in the redoubts, so as to command the enemy as he advanced. These were well served--all of them. The fight was severe along our whole line, but the severest and most destructive was on our right. Colonel Debrill's brigade mowed down the advancing hosts of the enemy with terrible slaughter. All our troops behaved most admirably. Tho reserves acted well their part, and deserve all praise; but the heaviest and severest portion of the fighting was done by General Williams' division, and by Giltner's brigade.
It is to Colonel Giltner, who held the enemy in check, and kept him back from the salt-works for a period so long, and to General Williams, who placed the troops and did the fighting on the day of the battle at Saltville, on the second instant, that the credit is due for saving the salt-works, and, incidentally, the country. It is to him, and the valor of the troops under himBrigadier-General John S. Williams-that the credit of this glorious and important victory is due.
There was not a General present ranking him, or one who assumed the responsibility of that important engagement, until the last gun was fired. And yet, strange to say, from the pub. lished accounts, made by telegraph and other
wise, no one would suppose that this gallant and distinguished officer was even present.
The loss of the enemy was very heavy-it could not have been less than seven hundred or eight hundred in killed wounded and missing. They left dead on the field one hundred and four white and one hundred and fifty-five negro soldiers, who were buried the next day after the battle. The number of wounded and captured was much larger still.
The loss on our side is comparatively small, less than one hundred in number, killed and wounded. Among those who fell gloriously discharging their duty was Colonel Trimble, Tenth Kentucky cavalry, and Lieutenant Crutchfield of the same regiment. Their deeds of valor will long be remembered by their countrymen.
THE CAPTURE OF FORT FISHER.
GENERAL TERRY'S REPORT,
HEADQUARTERS UNITED STATES FORCES ON FEDERAL POINT, N. C., January 25, 1865. GENERAL: I have the honor to submit the following detailed report of the operations which resulted in the capture of Fort Fisher and the occupation of Fort Caswell, and the other works at the mouth of Cape Fear river.
On the second instant I received from the Lieutenant-General in person orders to take command of the troops destined for the movement. They were three thousand three hundred picked men from the Second division of the Twenty-fourth Army Corps, under BrigadierGeneral (now Brevet Major-General) Adelbert Ames; the same number from the Third division of the Twenty-fifth Army Corps, under command of Brigadier-General Charles J. Paine; one thousand four hundred men from the Second brigade of the First division of the Twenty-fourth Army Corps, under Colonel (now Brevet BrigadierGeneral) J. C. Abbott, Seventh New Hampshire volunteers; the Sixteenth New York independent battery, with four three-inch guns, and light battery E, Third United States artillery, with six light twelve-pounder guns. I was instructed to move them from their positions in the lines on the north side of the James river to Bermuda landing, in time to commence their embarkation on transport vessels at sunrise on the fourth instant.
In obedience to these orders, the movement commenced at noon of the third instant. The troops arrived at the landing at sunset and there bivouacked for the night.
The transports did not arrive as soon as they were expected. The first of them made its appearance late in the afternoon of the fourth. One of them, the Atlantic, was of too heavy draught to come up the James; Curtis' brigade of Ames' division was therefore placed on river steamboats and sent down the river to be transferred to her.
The embarkation of the remainder of the force commenced at sunset of the fourth and was completed at noon of the fifth instant; each vessel, as soon as it was loaded, was sent to Fort Monroe, and at nine o'clock P. M. of the fifth the whole fleet was collected in Hampton Roads. The troops were all in heavy marching order, with four days' rations from the morning of the fourth in their haversacks, and forty rounds of ammunition in their boxes. No horses, wagons, or ambulances were taken; the caissons of the artillery were left behind, but in addition to the ammunition in the limber-chests, one hundred and fifty rounds per gun, in packing boxes, were embarked.
I went down the river personally with the Lieutenant-General, and on the way received from him additional instructions, and the information that orders had been given for the embarkation of a siege train, to consist of twenty thirty-pounder Parrott guns, four one hundredpounder Parrotts, and twenty Cohorn mortars, with a detail of artillerists and a company of engineers, so that in case siege operations should become necessary the men and material for it might be at hand.
These troops, under the command of Brevet Brigadier-General H. L. Abbott, were to follow me to Beaufort, North Carolina, and await orders. It was not until this time that I was informed that Fort Fisher was the point against which we were to operate.
During the evening of the fifth orders were given for the transports to proceed to sea at four o'clock the next morning, and accompanying these orders were sealed letters, to be opened when off Cape Henry, directing them to rendezvous, in case of separation from the flag-ship, at a point twenty-five miles off Beaufort, North Carolina.
The vessels sailed at the appointed hour. During the sixth instant a severe storm arose, which so much impeded our progress that it was not until the morning of the eighth that my own vessel arrived at the rendezvous; all the others excepting the flag-ship of General Paine were still behind. Leaving Brigadier-General Paine to assemble the other vessels as they should arrive, I went into Beaufort harbor to communicate with Rear-Admiral Porter, commanding the North Atlantic blockading squadron, with whose fleet the forces under my command were destined to co-operate.
During the eighth nearly all the vessels arrived at the rendezvous; some of them required repairs to their hulls, damaged by the gale; some repairs to their machinery; others needed coal or water. These vessels were brought into the harbor or to the outer anchorage, where their wants were supplied; all the others remained, until the final sailing of the expedition, some twenty to twenty-five miles off the land. The weather continued so unfavorable as to afford no prospect that we would be able to make a landing on the open beach of Federal Point until Wednesday, the 11th. On that day Admiral
Porter proposed to start, but at high water there was still so much surf on the bar that the iron-clads and other vessels of heavy draught could not be gotten over it; our departure was therefore delayed till the next day.
On the morning tide of the twelfth the vessels in the harbor passed out, and the whole fleet of naval vessels and transports got under way for this place. As we were leaving, the vessels containing General Abbott's command came in sight; orders were sent to them to follow us.
We did not arrive off Federal Point until nearly night-fall; consequently, and in accordance with the decision of the Admiral, the disembarkation of the troops was not commenced until the next morning. Our subsequent experience fully justified the delay; it would have been extremely difficult to land the men at night.
water separated from the ocean by a sand-spit of about one hundred yards in width, and communicates with it by Masonboro Inlet.
It was supposed that the right flank of a line at that point would be protected by the sound, and, being above its head, that we should by it control the beach as far up as the inlet, and thus, in case of need, be able to land supplies in quiet water there. Our landing place was selected with reference to this idea. An examination made after we landed showed that the sound for a long distance above its head was so shallow as to offer no obstacle to the passage of troops at low tide, and as the further down the peninsula we should go the shorter would be our line across it, it was determined to take up a position where the maps showed a large pond occupying nearly one third of the width of the peninsula at about three miles from the fort. At four o'clock A. M. of the thirteenth, the Shortly before five o'clock, leaving Abbott's briinshore division of naval vessels stood in close gade to cover our stores, the troops were put to the beach to cover the landing. The trans-in motion for the last-named point. On arriving ports followed them, and took positions as at it, the "pond" was found to be a sand-flat, nearly as possible in a line parallel to and about sometimes covered with water, giving no assist two hundred yards outside of them. The iron-ance to the defence of a line established behind clads moved down to within range of the fort it. Nevertheless, it was determined to get a and opened fire upon it. Another division was placed to the northward of the landing-place, so as to protect our men from any attack from the direction of Masonboro Inlet, At eight o'clock nearly two hundred boats, beside steamtugs, were sent from the navy to the transports, and the disembarkation of men, provisions, tools, and ammunition simultaneously commenced.
line across at this place, and Paine's division, followed by two of Ames' brigades, made their way through. The night was very dark, much of the ground was a marsh, and illy adapted to the construction of works, and the distance was found to be too great to be properly defended by the troops which could be spared from the direct attack upon the fort. It was not until nine o'clock P. M. that Paine succeded in reaching the river.
At three o'clock P. M. nearly eight thousand men, with three days' rations in their haver- The ground still nearer the fort was then sacks, and forty rounds of ammunition in their reconnoitred and found to be much better boxes, six days' supply of hard bread in bulk, adapted to our purposes; accordingly, the three hundred thousand additional rounds of troops were withdrawn from their last position, small-arm ammunition, and a sufficient number and established on a line about two miles from of intrenching tools, had been safely landed. The the work. They reached this final position at surf on the beach was still quite high, notwith-two o'clock A. M. of the fourteenth instant. standing that the weather had become very pleasant; and owing to it some of the men had their rations and ammunition ruined by water; with this exception, no accident of any kind occurred.
As soon as the troops had commenced landing pickets were thrown out; they immediately encountered outposts of the enemy, and shots were exchanged with them, but no serious engagement occurred. A few prisoners were taken, from whom I learned that Hoke's rebel division, which it was supposed had been sent further south, was still here, and that it was his outposts which we were meeting.
Tools were immediately brought up and intrenchments were commenced. At eight o'clock a good breastwork, reaching from the river to the sea, and partially covered by abattis, had been constructed and was in a defensible condition. It was much improved after. ward, but from this time our foothold on the peninsula was secured.
Early in the morning of the fourteenth, the landing of the artillery was commenced, and by sunset all the light guns were gotten on shore. During the following night they were placed on the line, most of them near the river, where the enemy, in case he should attack us, would be least exposed to the fire of the gunboats.
The first object which I had in view after landing was to throw a strong defensive line Curtis' brigade of Ames' division was moved across the peninsula from the Cape Fear river down toward Fisher during the morning, and at to the sea, facing Wilmington, so as to protect noon his skirmishers, after capturing on their our rear from attack while we should be engaged way a small steamer which had come down the in operating against Fisher. Our maps indi-river with shells and forage for the garrison of cated that a good position for such a line would the fort, reached a small unfinished outwork in be found a short distance above the head of front of the west end of the land-front of the Myrtle Sound, which is a long, shallow piece of work.