« PreviousContinue »
zine and ended the career of the Jeff. | threw one shot which is thought to have Thompson. An enormous and dazzling struck the Van Dorn, though it is not flash of light, a huge volume of dense certainly known. After the destruction black smoke, a sullen roar like that of of the rest of the fleet, the Van Dorn half a dozen mortars combined, and the fled towards New Orleans pursued by air for many seconds filled with falling the Carondelet and Cairo. Being a timbers, comprised the blaze of glory in powerful sidewheel boat, she easily diswhich the rebel gunboat expired. One tanced them, and when last seen had shell upon her burst a few minutes be- disappeared behind a bend, after a chase fore the final crash of the magazine, but of nine miles. The gunboats all returnits report was as nothing compared with ed from below, and with ports triced up, the sound of the final grand explosion. and guns out, formed a pleasant spectacle The General Bragg exchanged several in front of Memphis. shots with the Benton, the fortune of the "The opening gun from the Little Rebel contest being decidedly adverse to the was fired at forty minutes after five former. A fifty pound Parrott shot o'clock, the rams passed the Benton at struck the Bragg and passed entirely fifty-five minutes after five, and the last through her, and she was hulled three gun at the Van Dorn, as she escaped, times by thirty-two pound shells. One was discharged at forty-three minutes of the latter set her on fire, and she was after six o'clock. The battle was thus run upon the Arkansas shore and aban- an hour and three minutes in its entire doned by her officers and crew. She duration, and the boast of the rebels that drifted off and was boarded by Lieuten- they would whip us before breakfast, ant Bishop, of the Benton, who succeeded was reversed in its fulfillment. The loss in extinguishing the fire and saving the of the rebels is not known, and can only vessel. At the time he boarded her he be estimated. There were seven boats, found her boilers red hot, and was ob- with crews of probably fifty or seventyliged to use great caution to prevent five men each. Most of the Lovell's their explosion. The Bragg is an old crew were lost, and many on the Beauseagoing boat, and is in very good con- regard were fatally scalded by the steam dition, with the exception of the perfora- and hot water from the Monarch. Sevtions made by the shot and shell of the eral were killed by the sharpshooters, Benton.
Lieutenant Bishop captured as we are informed by the prisoners. her four or five miles below Memphis, Captain William Cabell, commanding the and at once brought her back. She was General Lovell, fell by a rifle ball in the taken in tow by one of the rams until forehead. He was an old steam boather boilers were in condition to work man, and personally known to many in her own engines, when she came up our fleet. Though our shot struck the opposite the city, where she now lies, rebel boats several times it is not known with her slag humbly drooping beneath that any one was killed by them. By the Stars and Stripes. The only re- drowning, hot water, and sharpshooters, maining boat of the fleet was the Gen- it is probable not less than a hundred of eral. Van Dorn, which had taken no the insurgents lost their lives. Fifty-four conspicuous part in the action. Once prisoners were taken, among them two the Monarch tried to strike her, but she former pilots on the Mississippi, well eluded the blow and moved down the known to most river men. On the Union river. The Cairo attempted to engage side, Colonel Ellet, of the ram fleet, was her at short range, but she kept aloof, wounded in the leg by a splinter. His determined not to be caught at close wound is not serious. Colonel Ellet was quarters. Captain Bryant, of the Cairo, l on the Queen of the West at the time she
COLONEL ELLET'S REPORT.
was hulled by the enemy's shot. No returned with equal spirit. I ordered other person on the Union fleet was in the Queen, my flag-ship, to pass between any way injured during the entire battle. the gunboats and run down ahead of The citizens of Memphis turned out in them upon the two rams of the enemy, large numbers to witness the action be- which first boldly stood their ground. tween the fleets, and in twenty minutes Colonel Ellet, in the Monarch, of which from the opening shot, the levee was Captain Dryden is first master, followed covered with an anxious crowd. The gallantly. The rebel rams endeavored sterner sex was not alone represented, to back down stream, and then to turn for the Memphian ladies were nearly as and run, but the movement was fatal to numerous as their masculine companions, them. The Queen struck one of them and the moving pyramids of silk and fairly, and for a few minutes was fast to calico may have been the cause of the the wreck. After separating, the rebel bad aim of the rebel gunners. Even the steamer sunk. My steamer, the Queen, accidental circumstance of a shot passing was then herself struck by another rebel over the levee, and striking the city ice- steamer, and disabled, but though damhouse and passing entirely through, fail- aged can be saved. A pistol shot wound ed to astonish or alarm them. Not less in the leg deprived me of the power to than five thousand persons witnessed the witness the remainder of the fight. The engagement, and probably a new specta- Monarch also passed ahead of our guncle to all. Not a cheer rose from the boats and went most gallantly into action.
. vast assemblage, as the tide of battle was She first struck the rebel boat that struck hardly in accordance with the sympa- my flag-ship, and sunk the rebel. She thies of the Memphians."*
was then struck by one of the rebel rams, Flag-Officer Davis summed up the but not injured. She then pushed on capture or destruction of the Confederate and struck the Beauregard, and burst in fleet in a dispatch to Secretary Welles her side. Simultaneously the Beaureimmediately after the action, as follows : gard was struck in the boiler by a shot “The General Beauregard blown up and from one of our gunboats. The Monarch burned. The General Sterling Price one then pushed at the gunboat Little Rebel, wheel carried away. The Jeff
. Thomp- the rebel flagship, and having but little son set on fire by a shell and burned and headway, pushed her before her, the magazine blown up. The Sumter badly rebel commodore and crew escaping. cut up by shot, but will be repaired. The Monarch then, finding the BeaureThe Little Rebel, boiler exploded, and gard sinking, took her in tow until she otherwise injured, but will be repaired. sank in shoal water. Then, in compliBesides this, one of the rebel boats was ance with the request of Flag-Officer sunk in the beginning of the action. Her Davis, Lieutenant-Colonel Ellet disname is not known. A boat, supposed patched the Monarch and the Switzerto be the Van Dorn, escaped from the land in pursuit of the remaining gunboat flotilla by her superior speed. Two rams and some transports which had escaped are in pursuit."
the gunboats, and two of my rams have To this we may add the brief report gone below. I cannot too much praise made the same day to the Secretary of the conduct of the pilots and engineers, War by Colonel Ellet : “The rebel gun- and military guard of the Monarch and boats made a stand early this morning Queen, the brave conduct of Captain onposite Memphis, and opened a vigor- Dryden, or the heroic conduct of Lieuous fire upon our gunboats, which was tenant-Colonel Ellet. I am myself the * Correspondence New York Herald. Memphis, June
only person in my fleet who was
This decisive action on the river—a a musket ball above the knee, though memorable spectacle in sight of the in- not at first considered alarming, proved habitants of Memphis
, which will live in fatal. Colonel Ellet was carried to Cairo, history as one of the most remarkable where he died on the morning of the events of the war-was followed by the 21st June, a fortnight after the engagefollowing correspondence between Flag- ment. He was a native of Pennsylvania, Officer Davis and the mayor of the city : born in 1810, and had long been known "United States Flag Steamer Benton, off by his eminent scientific acquirements Memphis, June 6, 1862. Sir-I have and services to his country. He was an
respectfully to request that you will sur- engineer of distinguished reputation, havrender the city of Memphis to the author- ping planned and built at Fairmount, ity of the United States, which I have across the Schuylkill, the first wire susthe honor to represent. I am, Mr. May- pension bridge in the United States. He or, with high respect, your most obedient had also been employed in various railservant, C. H. Davis, flag officer com- road and other engineering enterprises manding, etc. To his Honor, the Mayor in Virginia and elsewhere, and early in of the city of Memphis.” To this his the present year had excited considerable
. honor replied : “Mayor's office, Memphis, attention by a pamphlet criticising the June 6, 1862. C. H. Davis,
C. H. Davis, flag-officer course of General McClellan in his concommanding, etc. : Sir-Your note of duct of the war on the Potomac. He this date is received and contents noted. was the author also of several valuable In reply, I have only to say that as the scientific essays on the physical geogracity authorities have no means of defence, phy of the Mississippi, and had, some by the force of circumstances the city is years before the commencement of the in your hands. Respectlfully, John Park, war, advocated the employment of steam Mayor of Memphis.” A second note battering rams in coast and harbor defrom Captain Davis the same forenoon fences. He had now carried out bis ideas closed the correspondence : "Sir, the un- by his own energy and perseverance ; dersigned, commanding the naval and destined to fall—the only victim in a military forces of the United States in triumph mainly attributable to his exerfront of Memphis, has the honor to say tions. His brother, Lieutenant-Colonel to the mayor of this city that Colonel Alfred W. Ellet, his associate in the acFitch, commanding the Indiana brigade, tion, was afterwards appointed a brigawill take military possession immediately. dier-general of volunteers. Colonel Fitch will be happy to receive the The possession of Memphis, with the coöperation of his honor the mayor and the consequent command of the river below city authorities in maintaining peace and to Vicksburg, exposed the enemy to order. To this end he will be pleased to attack in Arkansas by the main navigaconfer with his honor at the military ble waters of the State—the White river, headquarters, at three o'clock, this P. m. descending in a south-easterly course Yours, etc.".
from Missouri, and the Arkansas, peneSo the important city of Memphis, a trating its central portions. The battle third great stage in the progress down at Pea Ridge in March had given the the Mississippi, followed the fortunes of Union troops of General Curtis a firm Columbus, New Madrid and Fort Pillow, footing in the north-western quarter, and and was regained to the Union. Unhap- though his forces were diminished by the pily, the victory cost the life of the en- withdrawal of a portion of his command gineer to whose persistent endeavors the to Corinth, he was enabled seriously to brilliant success was mainly attributable. threaten the rebel capital on the ArkanThe wound of Colonel Ellet, a shot from sas, and finally to cross the country in
EXPEDITION UP WHITE RIVER.
face of the enemy after several skirmish- plosion and its effects were fearful. One es, in which the advantage was on the hundred and seventy-five men enclosed Union side, to Helena, on the Mississippi. in the close iron armor of the gunboat, The army left Batesville, on the upper with no aperture for the passage of air waters of White river, on the 24th of but through the ports and the scanty June, with twenty days' rations, and by skylights, were exposed to this terrible a series of adventurous forced marches, suffering. Forty or fifty at once fell arrived at Helena on the 11th of July. fatally overpowered by
overpowered by the vapor. Previously to their setting out, an expe- Others lay in restless agony of torture, dition of a mixed land and naval force while those who were able plunged had been sent from Memphis to ascend through the port holes into the river in the White river, where several tran- hope of escape. While these were ensports of the enemy had taken refuge, deavoring to reach the opposite shore, and the passage of the stream was ob- they were deliberately fired at with musstructed soine distance above its mouth ketry by the rebel soldiers from the bank. by a battery on the shore. The gun- The cutters of the Conestoga, which went boats St. Louis, Lexington, Conestoga, to the rescue, were also fired upon. More and Mound City, under the command of than two-thirds of those on board the Captain Kilty, composed the naval part of Mound City, officers and men,were reportthe expedition, while Colonel Fitch's 46th ed as having perished in this dread catIndiana regiment constituted the military astrophe. Captain Kilty was severely force. The fleet reached the mouth of scalded. While this merciless work was White river, one hundred and seventy going on, Colonel Fitch reached the rear miles below Memphis, on the 14th of June, of the upper battery, and quickly sucand cautiously ascending the stream on ceeded, in a hand and hand encounter, the 17th, at seven in the morning, came in which the gunners were shot at their upon the rebel works-a lower and an posts, in its capture. Captain Fry, forupper battery, on a high bluff on the merly an officer in the United States south side of the river, in the vicinity of navy, the rebel commander, was woundSt. Charles, about eighty-five miles from ed in the shoulder by a musket ball, and the Mississippi. The Mound City and it is said his life was with difficulty saved St. Louis received the fire of the first by an Indiana captain. The guns of the battery without injury; when, passing on battery bad been taken from a gunboat, to another bend of the stream, they which was sunk, with several transports, encountered a second battery which in the river, as obstacles to the Union proved of a more formidable character. fleet. Eight brass and iron guns were A vigorous cannonading was kept up on captured. The Union casualties were both sides, while Colonel Fitch, who had trifling, except the severe loss from the landed with the Indianians, two miles and escaping steam. The rebel loss was said a half below, was proceeding round the not to be less than thirty killed and southern declivity of the bluff to take the wounded. A few prisoners were taken, works in the rear. While Captain Kilty the greater part of Captain Fry's comwas expediting this movement by signals, mand having escaped by flight. After and waiting its fulfillment, arresting the the action a portion of the fleet profire of the gunboats, lest the advancing ceeded up the river in quest of cerparty should be injured, a shot from one tain transports, but were compelled of the 42-pounders of the rebel battery to return by the low state of the struck the Mound City on the port side, water. * and passing through the iron-lined case
* Correspondence New York Tribune. Off St. Charles, mate, entered the steam drum. The ex- Ark., June 17, 1862.
CHAPTER LX VIII.
GENERAL BANKS COMMAND IN THE SHENANDOAH VALLEY, MARCH-MAY, 1862.
GENERAL BANKS arrived on the battle | kindness by the Union soldiers. They field of Winchester, Sunday, March 23d, had been taught that they would receive in the afternoon, before the close of the no quarter from the invaders, who were engagement. That night the enemy re- bent upon indiscriminate pillage and detreated, Jackson taking the lead with his vastation. Their leaders, however, who force, and, as usual, leaving Ashby with had sent their sons to the rebel army, his cavalry to cover the retreat. The did not hesitate, while freely avowing next morning General Banks was early their hostility to the government, to ask in pursuit, and following hard upon the for protection for their farms and proprear of the enemy, with frequent skir-erty. The humors of another class, of
, mishing of the artillery and cavalry, pur- growing importance in the war, are desued them that day beyond Strasburg. scribed by the correspondent just cited : A correspondent with the Union forces “At one house on the road to Strasburg describes the method of the retreat: I found an intelligent negress who told · Ashby has two brass howitzers and me that Jackson had stopped there to two regiments of cavalry, the men of dine on his advance, and again on his which are all mounted, and with these retreat. That he had said they were most of the fighting is done. The plan sure to whip the Yankees, and proinised of the retreat is this: while Jackson her master he would give him Lincoln's marches straight on, Ashby follows a skull for a salt gourd when he came back. mile or two in rear with his cavalry and I asked what the negroes thought about mounted battery. When he comes to a | the war, and why they didn't avail themhill commanding the road he stops, plants selves of this chance to free themselves his guns, and awaits the approach of our more generally. They thought they had column. As soon as the advance guard better wait, they said. Mr. Lincoln, of cavalry appears in sight, a shell or they thought, was a-going to make a two is thrown at them, the cavalry scat-law to make them all free, and they ters, and rushes back for the artillery. would wait for him, and then they could By the time they have come up Ashby's go according to the law.' They didn't men have limbered up and moved off to believe, she said, that the Yankees would another hill. Our guns give them a sell them off to Cuba, as her master had shell as they go, and the advance, which always told her, and some of them had has been retarded an hour by the opera- run off, but she had two children and tion, is commenced again. By such did not know where to go, nor what to maneuvers as these Ashby gains time do with her family, so she thought she enough for Jackson to retreat decent would wait for Mr. Lincoln. She told ly."* The wounded of the enemy were me that the rebels were very boastful found everywhere along the road, and, when they went down to Winchester, much to the surprise of some of them, but when they came back they were were treated with the most consideratevery tired and hungry, and didn't say Correspondence New York Post. Strasburg, March retreated the Yankees back to Winches
much about the fight, only that they had