« PreviousContinue »
EVENTS NEAR DONALDSONVILLE.
Confederate Generals Green and Mouton, appeared on the site of Berwick, a small village opposite Brashear, which Lieutenant Ryder, in command of a gun-boat, had bombarded and burnt a little while before. The weak garrison in Fort Buchanan, at Brashear, was then in command of a sick colonel, and illy prepared for an attack. Major Hunter, with three
hundred and twenty-five Texans, crossed the bayou below it, and assailed and carried the fort“ in a few minutes. Ryder had fled
with his gun-boat on the approach of danger, and before ten o'clock on the day of the capture, Taylor and Green, Mouton and Hunter, were in conference in Brashear as victors, with one thousand prisoners, a strong fort mounting ten guns, and a large amount of small-arms, munitions, stores, and other National property, the whole valued at full $2,000,000. By this calamity about five thousand refugee negroes were seized and remanded into slavery worse than they had endured before.
Meanwhile the Confederates had struggled with the Forty-seventh Massachusetts, under Stickney, for the possession of La Fourche Crossing.
They attacked the little force with great vigor, and were
repulsed. They renewed the assault the next day, and were again repulsed, with a loss, in both actions, of nearly three hundred men, killed, wounded, and made prisoners. Finding the Confederates in heavy force in his rear, Stickney evacuated the post and withdrew to New Orleans, leaving the way open for the foe to Algiers, opposite that city.
Four days after the capture of Brashear City, General Green attempted to seize Fort Butler, at Donaldsonville,' by a midnight assault. The fort was garrisoned by two hundred and twenty-five men of the Twenty-eighth Maine, under Major Bullen, who were assisted in the fight by the gun-boats Winona, Kineo, and Princess Royal, the latter a captured British blockade
The assailants were repulsed with a loss of over three hundred men,
of whom one hundred and twenty-four were prisoners. Three * July 12.
weeks later,' General Green, with a superior force, attacked the advanced brigade of General Grover, commanded by General Dudley, about six miles in the rear of Donaldsonville, and drove them back with some loss at first, but the Nationals, in turn, with the assistance of reserves, drove the Confederates, and on the following day the latter commenced their retreat from La Fourche District. This was almost the last struggle of Taylor's troops in the vicinity of the Mississippi at that time, for Banks's forces, released by the fall of Port Hudson, quickly expelled the Confederates from the region eastward of the Atchafalaya. Although New Orleans was garrisoned by only about seven hundred men when the way was opened for Taylor to Algiers, he dared not attempt the capture of that city, because of the war vessels of Farragut that were watching the broad bosom of the stream over which he would be compelled to pass, and the facility with which troops might be brought down from Port Hudson.
Before the close of July, Taylor had evacuated Brashear City July 22.
(but not until he had secured every thing valuable, and burned every thing else combustible), and retired to Opelousas and Alexandria.
1 See page 528, volume II.
? History of the One Hundred and Fourteenth Regiment New York State Volunteers, by Brevet-Major E, P. Pellet, page 135.
EXPEDITION TO SABINE PASS.
General Banks now turned his thoughts to aggressive movements. He was visited early in September by General Grant, and the two commanders united in an earnest expression of a desire to make a movement, with their combined forces, on Mobile, the only place of importance then held by the Confederates on the Gulf eastward of the Mississippi. Influential loyalists from Texas, then in Washington, had the ear of the Government, and were strongly urging an attempt to repossess” that State by force of arms. The Government yielded to their desires, and Banks was ordered to move for the conquest of Texas, in a way according to the dictates of his own judgment, but with the suggestion that the most feasible route would be by the Red River to Natchitoches and Shreveport. Banks believed that route to be impracticable at that season of the year, so, in the exercise of his discretionary powers, he fitted out an expedition to make a lodgment on Texas soil at Sabine City, at the Sabine Pass.' There was the terminus of a railway leading into the heart of Eastern Texas, and which was crossed lvy another leading to Houston, the capital of that State. For the purpose of making such lodgment, four thousand disciplined troops were placed under the command of General Franklin as leader, who was instructed to land them a few miles below Sabine Pass, and then move directly upon Confederate works, if any were found there and occupied. Admiral Farragat detailed a naval force of four gun-boats to form a part of the expedition. These were commanded by Lieutenant Frederick Crocker, who made the Clifton his flag-ship. The expedition sailed on the 5th of September.
Instead of following his instructions, to land his troops below Sabine Pass, Franklin arranged with Crocker to have the gun-boats make a direct attack upon the Confederate works, without landing the troops until the garrison should be expelled, and two gun-boats, which it was understood were there, should be captured or driven up the river, when the business of the soldiers would be to go ashore and take possession. For this operation about one hundred and fifty sharp-shooters were taken from the army and distributed among the vessels.
Early in the forenoon of the 8th of September, the gun-boats and trans. ports crossed the bar at Sabine Pass, and in the afternoon the Clifton, Sachem, and Arizona, went up two separate channels to attack the fort (which mounted eight heavy guns, three of them rifled), leaving the Granite City to cover the landing of a division of troops, under General Weitzel, at a proper time. The Confederate garrison was ready for them, the expedition having been in sight for twenty-eight hours, and when the three gunboats were abreast the fort they received a fire from the whole eight guns on shore. The boilers of the Clifton and Arizona were penetrated by shells, and the vessels, instantly enveloped in scalding steam, displayed white flags
1 This is the name of the outlet from Sabine Lake into the Gulf of Mexico. Sabine Lake is an expansion of the Sabine River, about five miles from its entrance into the Gulf of Mexico at the southwest extremity of Louisiana, between which State and that of Texas the Sabine River, for a long distance, forms the boundary line.
2 Banks felt certain that by a successful movement at this point he might speedily concentrate full 15,000 men at Houston, which would place in his hands the control of all the railway communications of Texas, and the most populous part of the State, and enable him to move into the interior in any direction, or fall back upon Galveston, thus leaving the army free to move upon Mobile.
The flotilla consisted of the Clifton, Lieutenant Crocker; Sachem, Lieutenant Amos Jo ; na, Acting-Master H. Tibbetts; and Granite City, Acting-Master C. W. Samson--all light-draft vessels.
NATIONALS REPULSED AT SABINE PASS.
and surrendered. Twenty minutes after the attack, the two vessels were in tow of Confederate steamers—small bay craft that had been converted into rams. The Arizona ran aground, and Franklin, seeing the naval force suddenly disabled, made no serious attempt to land, but, with the transports and the grounded vessel, which floated at midnight, hastened over the bar and returned to New Orleans. He left behind him, as trophies for the Confederates, two hundred men as prisoners, fifty killed and wounded,' and two gun-boats, with fifteen heavy rifled guns. Loudly the Texans shouted because of this victory, and with good reason, for the garrison of the fort which repulsed four gun-boats and four thousand land troops consisted of
only about two hundred men.
Of these, only forty-two were present and participated in the action. These were mostly Irishmen, whose little company was called the Davis Guards."
For their achievement 1805
on that occasion, Jefferson Davis presented each soldier with a
little silver medal, the only honor of the kind known to have been bestowed by the Conspirators upon their servants during the war. Had Franklin landed a major's command for action, the squad in the fort might have been easily driven away by them, and Houston, only forty miles distant, and flanking Galveston, might have been captured, for General Washburne, with a force equal to Franklin's, was ready at Brashear City to co-operate with the latter.
After the failure of Franklin's expedition, and the notification given by it to the Confederates of the intention of the Nationals, it was impracticable to renew the effort there. Banks, therefore, concentrated his forces on the Atchafalaya, with the intention of marching directly on Shreveport. He soon perceived that it would be almost impossible to do so. The country to be traversed, after leaving the railway, was exhausted, having been overrun by both armies. A great drouth was drying up the springs; and over the bad roads through that flat region, liable at that season to being drowned by sudden rains, he could not carry in wagons, full four hundred miles, sufficient supplies of food and forage. So he abandoned the attempt, and determined to grasp Texas by the throat, as it were, by seizing and holding the harbors on its coast.
1 Among the killed, by the steam, was Lieutenant Robert Rhodes, of the navy. Of the killed, wounded, and captured, were ninety of the sharp-shooters of the army.
2 This medal, the appearance of which is given in the above engraving, the exact size of the original, was made of a thin plate of silver, with the initials of " Davis Guards” and a Maltese cross rudoly engraved on one side, and the place and date of the achievement on the other. The original, from which the drawing was made, is in the possession of Thomas L Thornell, of New York City, to whom it was presented by an officer who received it from one of the Guards. The writer is indebted for its use to the courtesy of his friend, Henry T. Drowne, of New York.
EXPEDITION TO THE RIO GRANDE.
In the mean time, Taylor, still westward of the Atchafalaya, became quite active. His most efficient leader, General Green, was particularly so, and made occasional raids toward the Mississippi. “Bushwhackers," as armed residents of the country were called, were continually annoying vessels at sharp turns in the river, in the vicinity of Port Hudson, and General Herron was sent to Morgansia to suppress these
An out-post was established several miles in the interior, held by the Nineteenth Iowa and Twenty-sixth Indiana, with two guns, under Colonel Lake, supported by one hundred and fifty cavalry under Colonel Montgomery. The whole number of men at the post was less than one thousand. These were surprised on a dark night by General Green, who stealthily crossed
• 80, a bayou,“ surrounded the camp, and captured the guns and a large "Sept. 20, portion of the infantry. Lake and about four hundred of his men became prisoners. Fifty-four were killed and wounded. The cavalry escaped with a loss of five men.
A month later the Unionists of that region suffered another disaster. In order to mask his expedition against Texas by sea, Banks ordered General C. C. Washburne to advance from Brashear upon Opelousas, to give the impression that a march upon Alexandria or Shreveport was begun. Washburne reached Opelousas without resistance, but when, in obedience to orders, he commenced falling back, Taylor and Green pursued him closely. Finally, they swepto stealthily, swiftly, and unexpectedly, out of a thick wood, and fell upon Washburne's right, held by General Burbridge. So little was an attack suspected, that the Twenty-third Wisconsin were engaged in voting for State officers.' Before the men could seize their arms and form for battle they were terribly smitten. The regiment was quickly reduced from two hundred and twenty-six men to ninetyeight, most of them made prisoners. The right, on which the weight of the attack fell, was broken, and the utter ruin of the whole force seemed at one time certain. General McGinnis brought up some troops, and these, and a few others, with Nims's battery, saved the day. The Confederates were driven to the shelter of the woods, and Washburne pursued his way to Brashear with his shattered force.?
In the mean time Banks's expedition, consisting of six thousand troops and some war-vessels, had sailed from New Orleans, directly for the Rio Grande. It was accompanied by that officer in person, but was immediately commanded by General Napoleon J. T. Dana. On the 2d of November the troops debarked at Brazos Santiago, drove a small cavalry force stationed there, and followed them to Brownsville, thirty miles up the river, which Banks's advance entered on the 6th." Point Isabel was taken possession of on the 8th; and as soon as possible Banks, who made his head-quarters at Brownsville, sent as many troops as he could spare, up the coast, to seize and occupy the water passes between the Rio Grande and Galveston. By the aid of steamers obtained on the Rio Grande, troops were transported to Mustang Island, off Corpus
6 October 26.
1 Several of the States provided for the voting of the troops in the field, so that citizens, fighting for their country away from home, should not be deprived of the sacred right of choosing their rulers.
The Union loss was 716 men, of whom 26 were killed and over 500 were made prisoners. The Confederates lost over 400, of whom 60 were killed.
POSSESSION OF THE TEXAN HARBORS.
• Nov. 18,
» Nov. 30.
Christi Bay, from which a force, under General T. E. G. Ransom, went to
the Aranzas Pass, farther up the coast, and by a gallant assault® carried the Confederate works there, and captured one hundred
prisoners. Corpus Christi was occupied by National troops the same day. Then a force, under General Washburne (then commanding the Thirteenth Army Corps), moved upon Pass Cavallo, at the entrance to Matagorda Bay, where the Confederates had a strong fort, called Esperanza, garrisoned by two thousand men of all arms. It was invested, and, after a
sharp action, the Confederates blew up their magazine and fled,"
most of the garrison escaping. These important conquests, achieved in the space of a month, promised a speedy closing of the coast of Texas to blockade-runners, and great advantage to the Union cause in that region. No place of importance on that coast was now left to the Confederates, excepting at the mouth of the Brazos and on Galveston Island, at each of which they had formidable works; and a greater portion of their troops in Texas, commanded by General Magruder, were concentrated on the coast, between Houston, Galveston, and Indianola. Banks was anxious to follow up his successes by moving on Indianola, on the west side of Matagorda Bay, or upon Matagorda, at the mouth of the Colorado. This would have brought him into collision with a greater portion of Magruder's troops. He did not feel strong enough to undertake a task so perilous. He asked for re-enforcements, but they could not be furnished, and at about the close of the year he returned to New Orleans, leaving General Dana on the Rio Grande. That officer sent a force more than a hundred miles up that river, and another toward Corpus Christi, but they found no armed Confederates; and when, by order of General
Banks, he left the Rio Grande and took post at Pass Cavallo, he found some National troops in quiet possession of Indianola and
of the Matagorda Peninsula, on the opposite side of the bay. The Confederates had withdrawn to Galveston; and all Texas, west of the Colorado, was abandoned by them. With a small additional force Banks might have driven them from Galveston, and secured a permanent military occupation of the State.
It remains for us now, in considering the military events west of the Mississippi, to the close of 1863, only to take a glance at the trouble with the Indians, toward the head-waters of that stream, in the State of Minnesota. As these troubles had no immediate connection with the war, further than in drawing some troops from the grand theaters of strife, we must be content with only a brief passing note of the events.
At midsummer, 1862, bands of the warlike Sioux Indians, in the State of Minnesota, made open war upon the white people in that region. It is not positively known by what special motive, or under what particular influence they were impelled; and the suspicion that they were incited to hostilities by emissaries of the Conspirators, with the hope of thereby causing a large number of troops fighting the rebellion to be drawn away to a distant point, rests only upon conjecture. The fact is, that a Sioux chief, named Little Crow, a most saintly-looking savage in civilized costume, was the most conspicuous of the leaders in the inauguration of the war, by the butchery of the white inhabitants at Yellow Medicine, New Ulm, and Cedar City, in
• Jan. 12,