Графични страници
PDF файл

and Richmond grounded, while the.Preble went over clear. This occurred about eight o'clock, and the enemy, who were now down the river with the fire steamers, commenced firing at us, while we returned the fire from our port battery and rifled gun on the poop—our shot, however, falling short of the enemy, while their shell burst on all sides of us, and several passed directly over the ship."

Capt. Hollins did not know what had been the result of the firing, neither did the rest of the officers. It was too dark to make observations, and he did not wish to risk signals. So daylight was waited for impatiently. It came at last, and presented the following picture: The enemy, some miles down, heeling it for the open sea by way of the Southwest Pass. The Manassas close in shore, among the willows, concealed as well as possible; the Tuscarora aground on the bank, and the Watson not far off. The Tuscarora was soon pulled off by the rest, and the fleet commenced a pursuit of the retreating enemy. They soon came within range, and a heavy cannonade began. The Richmond drew up on the outside, and the other vessels of the enemy soon got aground, but near by, but were in a great measure protected by the Richmond's guns.

The fight ended not with the return of light, for Pope

says:

"At half-past nine Commander Handy, of the Vincennes, mistaking my signal to the ships outside the bar to get underway for a signal to him to abandon his ship, came on board the Richmond with all his officers and a large number of the crew, the remainder having gone on board the Water Witch. Capt. Handy before leaving his ship had placed a lighted slow match at the magazine. Having waited a reasonable time for an explosion, I directed Commander Handy to return to his ship with his crew, to start his water, and, if necessary, at his own request, to throw overboard his small guns for the purpose of lightening his ship, and to carry out his kedge with a cable to heave-off by. At 10 A. M. the enemy ceased firing and withdrew up the river. During the engagement a sheil entered our quarter port, and one of the boats was stove by another shell.''

Cotemporaneous, but not official, accounts report Handy as appearing on the deck of the Richmond with the large flag of the United States wrapped in folds around his person,1 and reporting that he had put a slow match to the magazine of the Vincennes. The Manassas drew off from the collision with the Richmond without trouble, though she undoubtedly twisted her prow badly when swayed to one side by the current, for it was found broken and bent to one side. The balls which

in one case, when a ball hit on the bluff of the bow and made an ugly, though not serious, dent in the iron.

Iii the actual fight, the other Confederate vessels took no part—their presence, however, and the fire-rafts added to the enemy's demoralization, and they shared in the artillerv duel

1 Porter's Naval History and 8oley's Blockade.

struck her bounded off without

[graphic]

at. long range. The Confederates took great credit for this gallant dash at the enemy; but it may well be asked, why, after having done so much, they did not do more? A demoralized and retreating enemy, aground, and scrambling to get over the bar, offered the opportunity of winning the fruits of victory by following up the blow. All day Friday the ships lay fast aground,and offered a fair opportunity to the victorious Confederates, but they had steamed back to New Orleans. A letter from on board the Richmond says: "On Saturday we were glad to seethe McClellan coming in from sea with two rifled Parrott guns for us. She made fast to us, and before midnight we had the steamer South Carolina at anchor near us. On Sunday the two steamers succeeding in towing our ship and the Vincennes off the bar, and here we are, all afloat, and ready for any emergency."

No Confederate report, except newspaper accounts, of this very gallant little affair is extant, if any was ever made. But it is to be taken for granted that good and sufficient reasons moved so gallant a sailor as Capt. Hollins to abandon the scene of action at the time he did. There were many halfwon victories by the Confederates in the war, both on land and water, of which history can give no explanation—and this one is not an exception. Heavy censure and unsparing ridicule were visited upon the officers of the Federal fleet—greater than they deserved—for they were new to the situation, and fresh from that national fear of "masked batteries"—rams and fire ships—all of which passed off as the experience of war in reality increased. Unlimited praise was extended to Hollins and his officers, without either the authorities or the public stopping to inquire why he left the stranded fleet without at least trying to destroy them. The war was young in the Fall of 1861—all its honors had been won by the Confederates; and when the Bull Run of the " Passes " was reported, "cowardice and pusillanimity" were charged upon Captains Pope and Handy, while Hollins, like Beauregard, was never required to say why he did not follow the retreating foe. If historians of the U. S. navy blush as they record the flight of their ships at the "Passes," those of the Confederate navy must express an almost equal dissatisfaction at the lack of results that the victory brought. The blockade was not raised, as Capt. Hollins claimed, for the Federal fleet remained off the mouths of the "Passes "—and soon after returned and held the head of the "Passes" until Farragut and his fleet recaptured the control of the river.

CHAPTER XIII.

MISSISSIPPI RIVER FROM THE GULF TO VICKSBURG.

THE movement by the Federal Administration at Washington, to open the Mississippi River, begun by Com. Foote at Cairo, in the summer of 1861, was continued from the Gulf by Admiral Farragut, in the spring of 1862. During the winter and early spring the largest and best appointed fleet that ever flew the U. S. flag was organized, and placed under the command of the boldest, ablest and most enterprising officer in that service. In order to hold what Farragut might capture, an army of 15,000 men, under Gen. Butler, was dispatched in the wake of the admiral's squadron. The combined fleet of men-of-war, mortar-schooners and transports arrived on the 16th of April, below Forts Jackson and St. Philip, which guarded the river approach to New Orleans. The Federal fleet,1 consisting of 46 vessels, carrying 348 guns and 21 mortars, anchored below; and on the

1 Vessels composing Farragut's fleet: Flagship Hartford, twenty-five guns, Capt.

Richard Wain Wright; executive officer, Lieut.

J. 8. Thornton.
Steam-sloop Brooklyn, twenty-four guns, Capt.

Thomas T. Craven; executive officer, Lieut. R. B.

Lowry.

Steam-sloop Richmond, twenty-six guns, Capt. James Alden.

Steam-sloop Mississippi, twelve guns, Capt. M. Smith; executive officer, Lieut. Dewey.

Steam-sloop Verona, ten guns, Capt. Chas. S. Boggs.

Steam-sloop Pensacola, twenty-four guns, Capt. Henry W. Morris; executive officer, Lieut. Francis Roe.

Steam-sloop Oneida, nine guns, Commander S. Phillips Lee; executive officer, Lieut. Sicord.

Steam-sloop Iroquois, nine guns, Commander John De Camp; executive officer, David B. Harmony.

Gunboat Westfield, six guns, Capt. William B. Renshaw.

Gunboat Katahdin, six guns, Lieut. Commanding George Preble.

Gunboat Pinola, five guns, Lieut. Commanding Crosby.

Gunboat Clifton, five guns

Gunboat Cayuga, five guns, Lieut. Commanding Harrison.

Gunboat Itaska, five guns, Lieut. Commanding C. H. B. Caldwell.

Gunboat Kennebec, five guns, Lieut. Commanding John Russell.

Gunboat Kanawha, five guns, Lieut Commanding John Febiger.

Gunboat Sciota, six guns. Lieut Commanding Edward Donaldson.

Gunboat Miami, six guns, Lieut Commanding A. D. Harroll.

Gunboat Ouxuco, five guns, Lieut Commanding John Guest

Gunboat Winona, four guns, Lieut Commanding Edward T. Nichols; executive officer, JohnG. Walker.

Gunboat Wissahickon, five guns, Lieut. Commanding Albert N. Smith.

Gunboat Kineo, five guns, Lieut. Commanding George H. Ransom.

Schooner Kittatinny, nine guns, Acting Volunteer Lieut Lamson.

Gunboat Harriet Lane, six guns, Lieut Commanding J. M. Wainwright, with Commander David D. Porter, who had twenty-one schooners, composing "Porter's mortar fleet," each carrying a heavy mortar, and two thirty-two guns.

[ocr errors]

morning of April 18th, commenced the bombardment of the forts.1

. At that time the defences of New Orleans consisted of Forts Jackson and St. Philip, under Gen. Johnson K. Duncan, the former fort mounting seventy-five guns, and the latter fifty-three guns, both together manned by about 700 men. The naval defence consisted of the C. S. steamer Louisiana, 16 guns, Capt. Charles F. McIntosh: the ram Manassas, one thirty-two-pounder, Lieut. A. F. Warley; the McRae, 7 guns, Lieut. Thomas B. Huger; the Jackson, 2 guns, Lieut. F. B. Renshaw; launch No. 6, Acting Master Fairbanks; launch No. 3, one howitzer, Acting Master Telford, the fleet under command of Commodore John K. Mitchell. Co-operating with the fleet of Commodore Mitchell were two Louisiana State gunboats: the Governor Moore, two thirty-two-pounder rifled guns, Commander Beverley Kennon, C. S. N., and the Gen. Quitman, Capt. Grant; in addition was the remnant of the River Defence fleet of converted tow boats: the Warrior, Capt. Stephenson; the Stonewall Jackson, Capt. Phillips; the Resolute, Capt. Hooper; the Defiance, Capt. McCoy, and the R. J. Breckenridge, all under command of Capt. John A. Stephenson, and mounting from one to two guns each.9 There were also the following unarmed steamers, acting as tenders and for towing purposes: the Phoenix, to the Manassas; the W. Burton, Capt. Hammond, and the Landis, Capt. Davis, to the Louisiana; also the Mosher, Capt. Sherman; the Belle Algerine, the Star, Capt. La Place, and the Music, Capt. McClellan.

To a complete understanding of the effort of the Confederate navy in defence of the city of New Orleans, a full

1 Commander Reverley Kennon, in the Century Magazine for July, 1886, says;

"The Navy Register of January, 1863, gives Flag-officer Farragut's seventeen Teasels 103 guns, and Commander Porter's seven vessels, sixty-five guns. The frigate Colorado, being unable to crows the bar, transferred April 11th her twenty-four-pounder howitzer to the .Scioto ; on the 6th of April, four nine-inch guns to the Oneida and Iroquois; and, on April 9th, three officers, 142 men, and her spar-deck battery of twenty eight-inch guns, for distribution in the fleet Add thirty-eight thirty-two pounders, and nineteen thirteen-inch mortars on board the 'bombers,' and twenty-nine twelve-pounder howitzers, one to each of twenty-four vessels, the five larger ones having two, both in their tops, and we find they had in all three hundred and sixty-nine guns of recent construction, fully equipped with latest improvements, and commanded and handled by trained men. Excepting one sailing ship and the mortar vessels, all of the guns were mounted on board steam «rs, the larger ones protecting their boilers and engines by tricing up abreast them on their outer sides their heavy chain cables, sixty links of one of them weighing more than all the iron «i the bows and elsewhere on all the Confederate A'tateowd River Defense Fleet, numbering nine vessels, and all built of wood. In the above list of guns, about twenty-six were eleven-inch 1'ivotn; about 140 were nine-inch; about fiftyfour were eight-inch; about sixty were thirty

two-pounders; about forty were rifled twenty to eighty-pounders, nineteen were thirteen-inch mortars, thirty were howitzers. To meet them the Confederates had 128 guns of assorted sizes in the two forts, and forty-one on board their vessels. Of this number thirty-two only were of recent manufacture and fully equipped. The remainder were out of date by several years, and were commanded and manned, as a rule, by inexperienced though brave men; 122 were oldtime thirty-two pounders. There were also three seven-inch and thirteen six-Inch rifles, four brass field-pieces, eleven mortars (eight ten and one thirteen-inch), four eight-inch, four, nine-inch, and eight ten-inch guns; total, 169. If I have erred, it is in not giving all the guns on tbe United States ships, as the Register always gives the least number mounted. Howitzers are never included any more than pistols, but when mounted in a vessel's tops to bo fired at men on an exposed deck, as was the case with the Federal ships in this action, they become formidable weapons."

2 It is necessary to mention the presence of the River Defence boats, but by reference to a former page where this expedition is described at length, it will be seen that their presence was more of an "embarrassment than an aid " in the action at the forts. Admiral Porter in his Naval History says: "Little assistance came to the fleet from the employment of these boats, on account of tbInsubordination of their division commander." account of the fighting condition of the vessels composing" the fleet of Commodore Mitchell is necessary. This is the more required because northern writers have endeavored to exalt the performances of the U. S. Navy by magnifying the fighting capacity of Confederate vessels. To that end Admiral Porter, in a letter to Senator Grimes, of Iowa, of May 0th, 1862, from Ship Island, set the key-note by saying of the Louisiana:

"That vessel was 4,000 tons, 270 feet long, and had sixteen heavy rifle guns, all made in Secessia. She intended to take position that night when she would have driven off all our fleet, for as a proof of her invulnerability one of our heaviest ships laid within ten feet of her and delivered her whole broadside, making no more impression on her than if she was firing peas. The Louisiana's shot, on the contrary, went through and through the above-mentioned sloop-of-war, as if she was glass.

"The iron ram Manassas hit three vessels before her commander ran her ashore and abandoned her. She has been a troublesome customer all through."

The real condition of the Louisiana, as given by Lieut. William C. Whittle, Jr., is that

"The Louisiana was in an entirely incomplete condition when she was sent down from New Orleans, and Commodore William C. Whittle, the naval commander at New Orleans, only sent her down in that condition in obedience to positive orders from Richmond to do so, and against his remonstrance and better judgment. Her guns were not mounted and the machinery of her two propellers was not put together. The machinery of her miserably conceived wheels, working in a 'well' in her midship section, one immediately forward of the other, was in working order, but when she cast off her fasts at New Orleans on. I think, April 20th, 1862, the wheels were started, but with them she went helplessly down the stream, and tow-boats had to be called to take her to her destination. That point was where she was afterwards destroyed, on the left bank of the river, just above Fort St. Philip, where she was tied up to the river bank, with her bow down stream. Machinists and mechanics were taken down in her and worked night and day to complete the work on the machinery, and to prepare the ship for service.

"Our gallant and efficient commander, the lamented Charles F. Mcintosh, aided by active, zealous and competent officers, bent all their energies to put the ship in a fighting condition, and by the time the Federal fleet came up to run by the batteries, on April 24th, all the guns, except I think two, were mounted. At that time the work on the machinery of the propellers was far from completion and the vessel was, in that regard, as helpless as when she went there.

"The port-holes for the gnus were so miserably constructed as simply to admit of the guns being run out, and were so small as not to admit of training laterally or in elevation."

Commodore Mitchell testified before the Court of Inquiry as to the number of vessels, their armament and condition, that:

"The principal vessel of my command, the steamer Louisiana, iron-clad, mounting sixteen guns,' was without sufficient motive power even to stem the current of the Mississippi without the aid of her two tenders, the Landis and W. Burton. Her two propellers were not ready

« ПредишнаНапред »