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DEPARTURE OF THE BURNSIDE EXPEDITION.
THE BURNSIDE EXPEDITION-ITS STRENGTH AND SECRET DESTINATION-ITS DEPARTURE FROM ANNAPOLIS-IT REACHES FORTRESS MONROE ANOTHER GALE OFF CAPE HATTERAS-ITS RESULTS-LOSS OF THE STEAMER CITY OF NEW YORK-HEROISM OF GENERAL BURNSIDE THE EXPEDITION ENTERS PAMLICO SOUND-IT STEERS FOR ROANOKE ISLAND-REBEL WORKS ERECTED ON THAT ISLAND-THE FEDERAL TROOPS DISEMBARKPLAN OF THE ATTACK-INCIDENTS OF THE ENGAGEMENT-THE FINAL CHARGE-DEFEAT AND FLIGHT OF THE REBELS-CAPTURE OF THEIR FORTS-THEIR STRENGTH-RESULTS OF THE VICTORY-DEATH OF COLONEL DE MONTREUIL-SKETCH OF GENERAL BURNSIDE-ATTACK ON FORT HENRY-STRENGTH OF THE FORT-NUMBER OF THE FEDERAL GUNBOATS-INCIDENTS OF THE BOMBARDMENT-SURRENDER OF THE REBEL WORKS-TROPHIES OF THE VICTORY-LOSS ON BOTH SIDES-SKILL AND HEROISM OF COMMODORE FOOTE-SKETCH OF HIS CAREER-FURTHER OPERATIONS OF THE BURNSIDE EXPEDITION.
THE signal success that had attended the several expeditions which sailed to Hatteras and Port Royal, encouraged the Federal Government to continue that effective method of operation. Accordingly, General Burnside was appointed to the command of another armament, consisting of both land and naval forces, whose destination was as yet unknown, but which he was ordered to organize and complete with the utmost dispatch. That able and energetic officer at once addressed himself to the task assigned him. Under his direction a large number of vessels and transports were purchased; provisions, arms and ammunition, were procured; troops were collected; and by the 9th of January, 1862, the largest and most formidable expedition which ever proceeded from an American port was ready to sail from Annapolis. The total number of vessels of all kinds, excepting those belonging to the regular navy, was forty-five. The troops on board amounted to sixteen thousand men, and were commanded, under General Burnside, by three brigadier-generals, Foster, Reno and Parke. Each of these officers belonged to the regular army, and were soldiers by profession. The number of guns of heavy calibre carried by the fleet was forty-five, possessing a range of two miles and a half, together with five floating batteries. A large number of the transports had been provided through the necessary agency of contractors, and the government was grossly defrauded; and serious perils were subsequently entailed upon the expedition through the knavery of those who obtained the contract for furnishing the expedition.
The embarkation of the troops commenced at Annapolis on the 5th of January. The first brigade, commanded by General Foster, first went on board; then followed the second, commanded by General Reno; then the third, under the orders of General Parke. The entire process was completed by the 8th, and on the morning of the 9th the signal-gun from
the Picket boomed over the tranquil waste of waters, announcing the moment of departure. Soon every anchor was hauled up, the sails were spread on every craft, the hoarse voices of the many steamers were heard, shouts of joy and martial melodies resounded from ship to shore, and the vast armament began to move with steady and graceful majesty over the blue bosom of the Chesapeake.
The first destination of the fleet was Fortress Monroe. They arrived at that point on the 10th, and proceeded at once to anchor abreast of the fortress. On the 11th, during the night, the voyage was resumed, and the fleet sailed from Hampton Roads while the ocean and the land still reposed beneath the beams of a bright moonlight. A propitious breeze gently wafted the adventurers forward on their way, and cape after cape along the main was quickly passed. When Sunday morning dawned the swiftest steamers were already in view of Hatteras light, and before the evening of that day a number of them had passed over the bar of Hatteras inlet. Thus far all had progressed in the most favorable and fortunate manner. But during Sunday night the scene suddenly changed. A gale of terrific violence began to blow from the northwest, exceeding any thing ordinarily witnessed on that stormy coast, and soon the bosom of the deep was lashed into fury. The watery waste presented the aspect of an endless series of convulsed and revolving mountains. During two whole days and nights it was impossible for any communication to be had from one vessel to another. They were often lost from each other's sight, either buried in the troughs of the angry sea, or separated by the colossal waves. Gradually the spectacle became one of appalling interest, for the tempest still increased in violence, and soon many of the vessels and transports, from the peculiar character of their freight, became almost unmanageable. The violence of the winds drove some of the ships and transports out to sea, and some it grounded in the swash channel. Over all of them the enormous waves dashed from prow to stern, deluging their upper decks. They reeled and staggered like drunken men. Many lost their guards, and some of the steamers lost their wheel-houses. The menacing wall of breakers which girded Pamlico Sound, seemed impassable to those vessels which had not cleared the bar before the storm began; and their only safety appeared to be in keeping as far out from land as possible. During the continuance of this terrible tempest, accompanied with deluges of rain, the officers and men exhibited the utmost heroism, and General Burnside sailed to and fro amid the tossing and rolling seas in his staff-boat, the Picket, endeavoring to assist and counsel each of his officers in command.
But, in spite of admirable seamanship and dauntless resolution, the usual effects of the destructive violence of the waves commenced to appear; for rarely had old ocean been the arena of a spectacle similar to that then exhibited in the vicinity of Hatteras. The large steamer City
HEROISM OF GENERAL BURNSIDE.
of New York was driven on the bar lying at the entrance of the harbor. She was three hundred and fifty feet long, twenty-five hundred tons burden, and was heavily laden with stores and ammunition. It was found impossible to render her any assistance, and she eventually became a total wreck. A portion of her crew was saved. When the surf-boat reached the sinking steamer, her officers and men were clinging with desperation to her sides, the sea making clear breaches over her entire deck.
The gunboat Zouave, which had on board three companies of the twenty-fifth Massachusetts regiment, sank at her anchorage, though all those on board were fortunately rescued before she went down. The Louisiana, an enormous steamer, three hundred feet in length, having an entire regiment on board, was driven on a sand-bar, and was seriously disabled. Her passengers and crew were also rescued. A collision took. place between the steamer Cossack and the brig Hope, by which both were badly damaged. Colonel Allen, of the New Jersey regiment, his surgeon Weller, and second officer, Taylor, were lost by the swamping of a lifeboat in which they were endeavoring, with generous daring, to render assistance to those imperilled by the ruthless tempest.
Such were some of the scenes connected with this memorable occasion. After the fury of the storm abated, the vessels which had drifted out to sea gradually returned, and passed successively over the bar, by means of steam-tugs and other appropriate helps, into the tranquil waters within. Nothing but the superior skill and dauntless resolution of the officers who commanded this expedition could have saved it from entire destruction. Most commendable among these was General Burnside himself. While the winds blew, and the rains descended, and the billows rolled with the greatest violence, he was constantly sailing in his staff-boat to and fro amid the watery world of tumult and danger, regardless of his own peril, solicitous only for the safety of his men and his ships. It was a thrilling spectacle to witness his movements. At one moment his small steamer would be seen riding on the summit of a monstrous wave-then he would become enveloped in the deluge of spray which swept over the entire vessel-and then again he would become wholly invisible, swallowed in the yawning gullies of the deep. Undaunted, he would soon appear, to go through the same process, with the same result.
At length the storm wholly ceased. After five days of incessant labor, on the 22d the entire fleet entered Pamlico Sound. The naval portion of the expedition had been placed under the command of Commodore Goldsborough. He and his officers had contributed greatly by their skill and valor, to the preservation of the fleet during the recent storm. Their assistance and co-operation in the events which ensued were of equal importance and value to the Federal cause.
Some days elapsed, after the termination of the storm, before General Burnside and his troops were ready to resume operations. On the 4th of February the steamer Patuxent was dispatched to every vessel in the fleet, with orders to be in readiness to sail on the ensuing morning. At four o'clock on the 5th a busy scene was presented by the vast assemblage of vessels, and all were soon in proper trim to advance. Each steamer towed two or three sailing vessels, filled with troops and stores, and the signal to weigh anchor having been given, seventy-five vessels of every imaginable size and construction began to move. Till that moment the destination of the fleet had remained a secret to all save the commanding officers. The order to steer across Pamlico Sound toward the shore of North Carolina, at last assured the men that Roanoke Island was the intended point of attack. Forts Hatteras and Clark gradually disappeared in the distance of the southern horizon; and at nine o'clock on the morning of the 16th, the vast armament approached the point on the island which the Rebels had fortified. Their works consisted of four batteries, which commanded the main channel through the Croatan Sound. As soon as the Federal fleet came within range of their guns, they opened a fire upon them. To this fire the gunboats, whose lighter draught enabled them to approach nearer the batteries, responded. After several hours the barracks of the rebels were set on fire, which greatly crippled their operations, and their fire gradually ceased.
This contest was merely a preliminary one. At five o'clock orders were given to disembark the troops. This process occupied the entire night, and when the next morning dawned the Federal flag once more floated over the soil of a Rebel State, surrounded by a powerful and . valiant force. In addition to the four forts already mentioned, a Rebel army was encamped several miles to the left of the works. A swamp intervened between the two, which was crossed by a narrow road constructed of the trunks of trees which had been sunk in the quagmire. Up this road General Foster advanced with the twenty-third, twentyfifth, and twenty-seventh Massachusetts, the tenth Connecticut, and the fifth Rhode Island regiments. At the same time General Reno proceeded with his brigade to attack one of the forts. It was a difficult and dangerous service, in consequence of the peculiar nature of the surrounding country. It was an almost impassable swamp, sometimes covered with brushwood, sometimes lying under water. The first day terminated before any thing could be accomplished. The night which followed was stormy, and the troops remained under arms, deluged with rain, without shelter or proper food. When morning dawned the contest was resumed. The sharpshooters of the enemy, stationed and concealed in the woods to the rear and the right of the fort, did much execution. Their batteries were also worked with effect, and a continuous discharge of small arms from their troops stationed in the vicinity of the fort, was very destruc