Page images

and high parapet prevented our men from scaling it. During one of these charges, the intrepid Colonel Mercer, commanding Hoke's brigade, fell mortally wounded at the head of his command. Finally, our infantry surrounded the fort, the artillery advanced to within two hundred yards of it, and Colonel Dearing, in behalf of General Hoke, demanded a surrender of the place, which was immediately complied with, and fifty-two prisoners marched to the rear.

About two o'clock the next morning, our iron-clad, the Albemarle, mounting two Brooke rifled guns, and commanded by Captain Cooke, passed easily over the obstructions from the high water, passed Fort Warren without eliciting a shot, our sharpshooters so closely investing the fort that the cowardly cannoniers would not man their guns. Steaming just below Plymouth, she met the Miami, commanded by Flusser, and the Southfield, under French. They were side by side of each other, and connected by heavy iron cables, with the hope of entangling the Albemarle and running her ashore, or breaking her propeller, and then boarding her. Each of these boats carried eight guns of very heavy calibre, and were regarded equal to any in the waters of Eastern Carolina. The gallant Cooke headed directly for the Southfield, gave her the contents of his bow gun, and striking her forward with his prow, she immediately began to sink, and with such rapidity, that before the Albemarle could disengage herself she was well nigh carried down, water running in at her ports. This occasioning some delay, the Miami fled, but not until she was severely punished, her commander, Flusser, and many of her crew being killed.

Having obtained possession of Fort Wessell, General Hoke arranged his forces for an assault upon the town, sending Ransom on the right to make a demonstration or attack as he thought best, while Hoke, with his and Kemper's brigades, would attack on the left.

At early dawn on the morning of the 28th, our infantry moved forward, and our artillery, consisting of Blount's, Marshall's, and Lee's batteries, under Colonel Branch, dashed forward at a full gallop into position, and opened immediately upon the town and forts at about twelve hundred yards. The enemy by this time had concentrated a most terrific fire from

their siege and field guns. Just at this time General Hoke opened, with his artillery, a very rapid and tremendous fire, and his infantry sent up yell after yell as if charging. Ransom caught the sound, and rising in his stirrups, from the head and right of the line, in a clear and ringing voice gave the command, "Charge, boys, and the place is yours."

In ten minutes the two outer forts, with eight guns, were captured, our infantry scaling their parapets, and the artillery within one hundred and fifty yards of the forts, horses and limbers blown up and cannoniers shot down, and yet those remaining stood to their guns, without shelter, confident of victory and to avenge their dead. The whole command, officers and men, infantry and artillery, seemed enthused with the inspiration of certain victory. Several hundred prisoners were captured in these forts, which were immediately sent to the rear, and now began the contest for the town, more than half a mile in length, the enemy's infantry slowly retiring, and stubbornly resisting our advance; Fort Williams dealing out grape and spherical case; their field-pieces, at the further extremities of the broad, straight streets, raking them with a murderous fire; their infantry, in the houses and cellars, and behind fences, delivering galling charges of minies; but all of no avail; our men were aroused, confident, and irresistible. They pressed on steadily, without halt or hesitation, tearing down fences, hedges, and every obstacle that they met, capturing the enemy at every step.

The town was ours. But still Wessell, shut up in his stronghold, Fort Williams, refused to yield. A heavy cannonade was opened upon the fort, and the garrison was galled by our sharpshooters. At last some of the Confederates, creeping forward through the intrenchments, got an enfilading fire upon them, which soon brought them to terms, and hundreds of them rushed out of the fort without arms and surrendered. Just at this time a shell burst directly on the magazine, and when the smoke cleared away, the hated flag was fluttering rapidly down to the ground.

The fruits of this capture were sixteen hundred prisoners, twenty-five pieces of artillery, vast quantities of commissary and quartermaster supplies, and immense ordnance stores. Our loss in killed and wounded was about three hundred. We

had also destroyed two gunboats, and with all, had obtained the strong position of Plymouth, which protected the whole Roanoke valley.

The Yankees now held but two places on the North Carolina coast, Washington, at the mouth of Tar river, and Newbern, at the mouth of the Neuse. The latter was strongly garrisoned, but the larger part of the forces at Washington had been moved up to Plymouth. It was supposed that General Hoke would prosecute his campaign against Newbern; but his forces were suddenly to be recalled to more imposing scenes, and to a participation in the great crisis of 1864 in Virginia.


Close of the Third Year of the War.-Sketch of the Subsequent Operations in Virginia and Georgia.-GRANT's "ON-TO-RICHMOND."-The Combination Against the Confederate Capital.-THE BATTLES OF THE WILDERNESS.-A Thrilling Crisis.-Grant on the Verge of Rout.-His First Design Baffled.-THE BATTLES OF SPOTTSYLVANIA COURT-HOUSE.-Death of General Sedgwick.-THE CARNAGE OF May the 12th.-Five Battles in Six Days.-Grant's Obstinacy.-"! "The Butcher."--Sheridan's Expedition. -Death of General "Jeb" Stuart.-Butler's Operations on the South Side of the James." The Beast" at the Back-Door of Richmond.-He is Driven to Bermuda Hundred by Beauregard.-Defeat of Sigel in the Valley.-Grant's Movement Down the Valley of the Rappahannock.-His Passage of the Pamunkey.-Re-organization of General Lee's Lines.-Grant's Favorite Tactics.-Yankee Exultation at his Approach to Richmond--Caricatures of the Confederacy.-A Hasty Apotheosis.-A True Theory of Grant's "Flank Movements."-His Occupation of McClellan's Old Lines. -THE BATTLE OF THE CHICKAHOMINY OR COLD HARBOR.-A Confederate Victory in Ten Minutes. What Had Become of Yankee Exultation.-Review of the Rival Routes to Richmond.-Grant Crosses the James River.-His Second Grand Combination Against Richmond.-Hunter's Capture of Staunton.-THE BATTLES OF PETERSRURG.-General Wise's Heroic Address.-Engagement of 16th June.-Grand Assault of 18th June.-on "the Cockade City."-A Decisive defeat of the Yankees.-Engagement at Port Walthal Junction-Sheridan's Defeat Near Gordonsville. Hunter's Repulse at Lynchburg. Two Affairs on the Weldon Railroad.-Grant's Second Combination a Complete Failure.-Discouragement of the North.-The Gold Barometer.-Secretary Chase's Declaration.-SHERMAN'S "ON-TO-ATLANTA."-His Flanking Movement.Engagement in Resaca Valley.-Johnston's Retreat -Engagement at New Hope.Johnston's Telegram to Richmond.--Defeat of Sturgis's Expedition in Mississippi.-BATTLE OF KENESAW MOUNTAIN.-Sherman's Successful Strategy.-The Confederates Fall Back to Atlanta.-THE BATTLES OF ATLANTA.-Hood's Gallant Defence.- . . . . The Military Situation in July, 1864.-Grant's Failure.-His Consumption of Troops. -Review of Yankee Atrocities in the Summer Campaign of 1864.-Sherman's Character. His Letter on "Wild Beasts."-His War on Factory Girls.-Sufferings of Confederate Women and Children.-Ravages in Georgia.-Hunter's Vandalism in Virginia. "The Avengers of Fort Pillow."-Sturgis and his Demons.-The Spirit of the Confederates.- . . . Some Words on "Peace Negotiations."-A Piratical Proposition and an Infamous Bribe.-The Heroic Choice of the Confederates.


THE third year of the war closes properly at the month of May, according to our arrangement of dates in preceding volBut on account of the magnitude of what is closely subsequent, it is thought advisable to give a summary and very general SKETCH of the material events of the enemy's two grand campaigns of the summer of 1864-the parallel operations of Grant and Sherman in Virginia and in Georgia;—at least, so

far as to bring the reader to a stand-point of intelligent observation, with reference to questions of peace and negotiation which were agitating the public mind at the time these pages were committed to the press. We shall follow their campaigns only to what appear to be their decisive stages in June and July. The period we shall thus rapidly traverse we hope to go over in another volume with a more perspicuous narrative, and certainly with much more abundant detail.


General Ulysses S. Grant was now to answer the eager expectation of the public by a campaign of unrivalled importance in Virginia. He had hitherto been known in the North as the great General of the West, and the Yankee newspapers had entitled him the hero of Fort Donelson, Shiloh, and Vicksburg. His elevation had been rapid. Four years ago the man who commanded all the armies of the North had been a tanner, and at the beginning of the war had been accidentally selected to lead a regiment of raw recruits.

From the moment of receiving his commission as LieutenantGeneral, Grant had transferred his personal presence to the Army of the Potomac, leaving Sherman as his vicegerent to carry out the Western campaign. Warren, Sedgwick, and Hancock, were made the corps commanders of this army, and Burnside was given a separate army corps. Butler at Fortress Monroe was reinforced by the Tenth corps from Charleston under Gilmore, and the Eighteenth from the West, under "Baldy" Smith. To the infamous hero of New Orleans was allotted the task of cutting off the city of Richmond from its southern lines of communication; while Sigel operating in the Shenandoah Valley was to cut the railroad which by way or Gordonsville connected Lee's army with his principal base of supplies at Lynchburg.

Thus were the preparations completed for the most momentous campaign in American history. On Wednesday, May 4, just eight weeks from the day Grant received his commission, his two grand columns were ready to move-the one

« PreviousContinue »