« PreviousContinue »
of prisoners taken; and one more determined attack seemed sufficient to drive the men pell-mell into the river, adequate means for transporting them across the river being wanting. Now it was that the field batteries were collected and skillfully put in position, by Col. Webster, Grant's Chief of Artillery, preparatory to the expected onset. The Rebel advance drew the destructive fire of twenty-two guns, with that of the two gunboats at the mouth of Lick Creek. Staggered by this terrible hail, the enemy were kept in check until night closed upon the bloody field.
Beauregard joyously announced to his superiors at Richmond "a complete victory," with "the loss on both sides heavy, including our commander-in-chief, Albert Sidney Johnston, who fell gallantly leading his troops into the thickest of the fight." As the vaunting author of this dispatch soon. learned, however, to his cost, the announcement of victory was premature. Another day entirely changed the face of events.
Before the conflict of Sunday had fairly closed, Gen. Nelson's division of Buell's army appeared on the opposite side of the river, and both those officers in person. During the night, the divisions of Crittenden and McCook also arrived; while Gen. L. Wallace, of Grant's army, took position, about one o'clock in the morning, on the extreme right.
Thus reënforced, Grant assumed the offensive, ordering an advance at dawn. The enemy was now forced back, from point to point, all along his line, the fight continuing without. intermission from nine o'clock in the morning until five in the evening. At the latter hour the whole field had been regained, and the defeated Rebels put to flight. Our troops were too weary with the two days' hard conflict to make an effective pursuit. On the next day, Gen. Beauregard sent a flag of truce from his headquarters at Monterey, asking "permission. to send a mounted party to the battle-field of Shiloh, for the purpose of giving decent interment" to his dead. To this Gen. Grant replied, on the 9th, saying that, owing to the warmth of the weather, he had deemed it advisable to have all the dead of both parties buried immediately, and that this was "now accomplished."
Gen. Grant estimated his loss in killed and wounded at 5,000. There was the further loss of about 3,000 prisoners taken on Sunday, making a total of 8,000. Gen. Beauregard, in his official report, conceded a Rebel loss of 1,728 killed, 8,012 wounded, and 959 missing-an aggregate of 10,699.
The numbers engaged under Gen. Grant, on the first day, were about 40,000, many of whom were raw troops but recently arrived. Nearly 30,000 fresh troops participated in the battle on the 7th. The Rebel force, consisting of three entire army corps, and a reserve division, may be estimated at not far from 70,000.
Gen. Halleck soon after took the field in person, and prepared for an advance on the enemy's stronghold at Corinth, to which place Beauregard retired with his army, directly after the defeat at Shiloh.
On the 22d of March, the President constituted two new military departments-the first called the Department of the Gulf, comprising all the coast of the Gulf of Mexico west of Pensacola harbor, and so much of the Gulf States as should be occupied by the commander, Maj. Gen. B. F. Butler; and the second, including the States of South Carolina, Georgia and Florida, with the forces heretofore under Gen. T. W. Sherman, to be under the command of Maj. Gen. David Hunter.
A joint expedition under Com. Farragut and Gen. Butler, to capture and occupy New Orleans, and to coöperate thence with the movements from Cairo downward to reopen the Mississippi river, had been organized in the autumn of 1861. Gen. Butler's forces were to rendezvous at Ship Island, for which place the command of Gen. Phelps sailed from Fortress Monroe on the 27th of November, arriving on the 3d of December. During this latter month, two gunboats of Farragut had some skirmishing with Rebel gunboats in Mississippi Sound; and in January another considerable installment of Butler's force arrived at Ship Island. A mortar fleet, under Com. D. D. Porter, was also added to the naval portion of the expedition. Com. Farragut left Hampton Roads in the steamer Hartford, on the 3d of February, to assume command
of the squadron which was to operate against New Orleans, and arrived at Ship Island on the 20th. The chief obstacles to his intended advance, after crossing the bar, were Forts St. Philip and Jackson, on the Mississippi river, seventy-five miles. below New Orleans. These works were so formidable, and the preparations to receive the "Northern armada" so thorough, that the Rebels were entirely confident of success in repelling all attacks. That part of Farragut's fleet which crossed the bar consisted of the steam sloops Hartford, 24 guns, (flag ship); Richmond, 26; Pensacola, 24; Brooklyn, 24; Mississippi, 12; Iroquois, 9; Oneida, 9; the sailing sloop-of-war Portsmouth, 17; the gunboats Varuna, 12; Cayuga, 9; and eight others of 4 guns each. Com. Porter's mortar fleet consisted of twenty schooners, mounting one large mortar, with two small guns, and was accompanied by the Harriet Lane, (flag ship,) the Miami, and three other steamers carrying five or six guns each. No part of either fleet was iron-clad.
Much time was consumed in getting these vessels over the bar at the mouths of the Mississippi. The bombardment commenced on the 18th of April, the mortar boats leading, supported by the gunboats, which made occasional approaches to the forts, drawing their fire. The bombardment continued for six days with no material result apparent, except the breaking of a heavy rifled gun on Fort St. Philip. By a bold movement, begun at two o'clock on the morning of the 24th, a portion of Farragut's fleet, after a gallant fight, succeeded in overcoming all obstructions and passing the forts. With nine of his vessels, Com. Farragut appeared before New Orleans on the 25th. Forts St. Philip and Jackson capitulated on the 28th. Gen. Butler was at hand with his forcesthe Rebel Gen. Lovell made a precipitate retreat into the interior of the State, and the city was surrendered, Gen. Butler taking possession on the 1st day of May.
For a time, the cheering and substantial results recited in this chapter were claimed, by many, as triumphs due to a "grand plan" of the young General-in-chief; while others as confidently pointed out their inconsistency with an alleged scheme which involved "thunder around the whole horizon,"
when once the spell of silence should be broken. Scarcely the faintest echo, in fact, unless at Roanoke Island, where a victory had been gained in February, responded to the reverberations at Mill Spring, Fort Henry, Fort Donelson, Pea Ridge, Shiloh and New Orleans. All mystery on this subject was dispelled by the subsequent disclosure that, as early as January, the President had substantially revoked the broader authority given to a dilatory General-in-chief, who had caused the Army of the Potomac to waste in idleness six months that had been expected to bring forth a decisive campaign, and who had opposed the movements so brilliantly executed in the West, as well as the Southern expeditions, one of which restored New Orleans and the passes of the Mississippi to the Government. In the West and Southwest, we have seen that ample results, even in the worst season of the year, followed this wise policy of Mr. Lincoln. How the President's order for active movements was carried into effect by the commander of the Army of the Potomac, will appear in the pages immediately following.
Military Events in the East.-The Peninsular Campaign.
THE fortifications around Washington, commenced by Gen. J. G. Barnard, Chief Engineer under McDowell, and continued by the same officer under McClellan, had been essentially completed before the close of September, 1861. In an order issued on the 30th of that month, the commanding General designated the names by which the thirty-two principal works should be respectively known. From this time onward a large portion of the Army of the Potomac was no longer needed on merely defensive duty. In a communication addressed to the Secretary of War in the latter part of October, Gen. McClellan estimated the number of troops required for the protection of Washington at 35,000, with a further force of 23,000, to be distributed on the Upper and Lower Potomac, and at Baltimore and Annapolis. The main purpose of this vast army, raised, equipped and disciplined at such a cost, was manifestly something quite beyond what 58,000 men alone amply sufficed to accomplish. To destroy the Rebel army before Washington, and to occupy Richmond, were, in the minds alike of military men and civilians, the prime objects to be effected by the Army of the Potomac.
October, November, December, passed without result. The commanding General admits his consciousness of the anxiety no less of the people than of the President for active operations during these pleasant months, on the part of an army sustained at a cost of millions daily. Gen. McClellan's official statement gives his entire force on the 1st of December as 198,213, of whom 169,452 were present for duty, and on the first of January, "effective." After 1862, as 219,707, of whom 191,480 were deducting the 58,000 deemed necessary for defensive purposes-and most of these might also have been employed in a direct movement on Manassas-there thus remained an effective