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them down.' All who asked for mercy were answered by the most cruel taunts and sneers. Some were spared for a time, only to be murdered under circumstances of greater cruelty
These deeds of murder and cruelty closed when night came on, only to be renewed the next morning, when the demons carefully sought among the dead lying about in all directions for any other wounded yet alive, and those they found were deliberately shot. Scores of the dead and wounded were found there the day of the massacre by the men from some of our gun boats, who were permitted to go on shore and collect the wounded and
bury the dead Many other
instances of equally atrocious cruelty might be enumerated; but your committee feel compelled to refrain from giving here more of the heart-sickening details, and refer to the statements contained in the voluminous testimony herewith submitted. Those statements were obtained by them from eye-witnesses and sufferers At least
300 were murdered in cold blood after the fort was in possession of the rebels, and our men had thrown down their arms and ceased to offer resistance. Of the surviving, except the wounded in the hospital at Mound City, and the few who succeeded in making their escape unhurt, nothing definite is known, and it is to be feared that many have been murdered after being taken away from the fort."*
* For the full report of the committee, with the evidence, as obtained by Senator Wade and the Hon. 1). W. Gooch, sen the voluminous proceedings of the joint committee on the conduct of the war.
Such, in substance, is the story of the "Massacre,of Fort Pillow," which must j ever remain on record to the disgrace of the rebel leaders and their men. Pollard, and persons of his stamp, while denouncing the garrison as a " motley herd of negroes, traitors, and Yankees," and while making very light of the whole matter, yet admit the substantial truth of the narrative given above "There is no doubt," says Pollard, j "that for some moments, the Confederate officers lost control of their men, who were maddened by the sight of the negro troops opposing them." According to another rebel report, both Forrest and Chalmers " entered the fort from opposite sides, simultaneously, and an indiscriminate slaughter followed. The fort ran with blood. Many jumped into the river, or were drowned, or were shot in the water." A rebel gen' eral, S. D. Lee, in a letter, dated June 28th, affirms that the flag was not hauled down in token of surrender, and refers "to history for numerous cases of ipdiscriminate slaughter after successful assault, even under less aggravating circumstances. The case under consideration is an almost extreme one. You had a servile race armed against their masters, and in a country which had been desolated by almost unprecedeut ed outrages." With such lame excuses and attempts at palliation, we leave the Fort Pillow massacre to the reader* consideration.*
The next movement, and one i» which the rebels were successful, was |
* See Pollard's " Third Year of Ae War," p. 254: also, Appleton's "American Animal CyH<ipivdia " foi I
the capture of Plymouth, N. C. This town is situate on the south bank of the Roanoke, about eight miles from its entrance into Albemarle Sound, and was strongly fortified by a breastwork, with forts at different points along the line. Fort Gray, a strong work, was about a mile further up the river, opposite which a triple row of piles had been driven, with torpedoes attached, to serve as a protection to the fleet below, and, if possible, prevent a formidable rebel ram, named the Albemarle, from getting below and joining in the attack. Gen. Wessells was in command at Plymouth, and had. a garrison of about 2,400 men. On Sunday afternoon, April 17th, the rebels, under Gen. R. F. Hoke, numbering some 10,000, with a heavy artillery train, made their appearance, quite unexpectedly, in the rear of the town. An artillery fire was opened upon Fort Gray, which was steadily and bravely resisted, and, in several assaults upon the other forts, on Monday, the rebels were repulsed with slaughter, our gun boats assisting in the work. One of the latter, the Bombshell, was disabled and sunk by the enemy's battery. Early in the morning of Tuesday, before daylight, the rebel ram, a powerful iron-clad vessel, armed Math two heavy guns, came down the river, passing Fort Gray, and making for the gun boat Southfield, formerly a ferry-boat in the bay of New York, which she struck with her prow and caused to sink immediately. The remaining gun boats were now compelled to retire, and as they were relied upon as the main defence of the town, in case of a serious attack, Gen. Wessells was
compelled to surrender, with the garrison at Plymouth, on Wednesday, April 20th. The rebels claimed to have captured, beside prisoners, twenty-five pieces of artillery, vast quantities of commissary supplies, ordnance stores, etc., and were especially gratified, inasmuch as Plymouth protected the whole Roanoke Valley.
Only two places now remained in our hands on the coast of North Carolina, Washington, at the mouth of the Tar River, and Newbern, at the mouth of the Neuse. The loss of Plymouth led to the evacuation of Washington, at the end of the month; on which occasion the town was set on fire and burned, an act severely reprobated by Gen. Palmer, who had succeeded Gen. Peck in command of the department.
On the 5th of May, the rebel ram Albemarle, in company with the Cotton Plant and her capture, the Bombshell, was met in Albemarle Sound by a squadron of Union gun boats, when the Bombshell was retaken, and a spirited effort made to run down the Albemarle by Lieut. Roe, of the Sassacus. The formidable ram fairly staggered in the encounter, when an action ensued between the two vessels, sustained by the Sassacus with great gallantry. Though the boiler of the latter was pierced by a 100-pound Parrott shot from her adversary, and the vessel was filled with steam, her guns were so well directed at close quarters, within a few feet, as to enter the port-holes of the Albemarle, and compel her to retire disabled to Plymouth. Thenceforth the rebels did not attempt to prosecute their designs
against Newbern, which it was supposed would be attacked by the forces under Hoke. The greater and more important operations in Virginia, at the opening of the spring campaign, and the momentous results dependent
thereon, now engaged the universal attention, not only in the loyal states, but also among those who had wickedly set on foot and maintained, thus far, the "Great Rebellion," as it will ever be termed in the history of our country.
OPENING OF THE CAMPAIGN IN VIRGINIA, UNDER GRANT.
Need of changes in the military management of affairs — Grant made lieutenant-general and commander in chief of all the nrmies — Sherman and McPherson assigned to command in the West — Grant's views of the position of affairs — Situation of the loyal forces, and the great work before them — Situation of the rebels — Grant orders the reorganization of the Army of the Potomac — The command under Sigel — Butler's forces and what was expected of them — Directions to Meade — Preparations for opening the campaign — Army moves early in May — Crossing of the Rapidan—The Wilderness — Lee's activitv and boldness — Battle of the Wilderness — Terrible struggle for two days, heavy losses, etc. — Death ol Gen. Wads worth — Grant's next movement — Butler's position and Grant's urgency — Butler's advance r.y tho James River — Occupation of Bermuda Hundred — Lee's stand at Spottsylvania Court House — Severe and bloody battle — Death of Gen. Sedgwick — Battle of the next day — Heavy losses — Grant's tenacity of purpose — Battle of May 12th, fourteen hours in length — The deadly struggle and loss of life — Sheridan's expedition against rebel communications — Dash and spirit displayed — Great success — Rebel cavalry commander, J. E. B. Stuart, killed — Reached James River, May 14th.
For a long time past, there had existed in the public mind a feeling of deep dissatisfaction with the position of our army affairs. Gen. Halleck, at no time a popular man, had accomplished nothing, so far as the people could see, in his lofty post as general in chief; he was berated on all hands, with much severity, and opinions in regard to his incompetency and unfitness for the work with which he was charged, were freely expressed. There was an evident lack of combination of effort in the operations carried on by our armies in the East and in the West; and it was continually happening that great success
in one part of the field was of no advantage towards securing the ultimate end had in view. The rebels were able, by rapid movements, while holding one of the two great armies in check, to hasten to the relief of their hardlybestead troops beaten by the other, and thus to neutralize the effects of our victories. In truth, as Mr. Swinton says, "for three years there was presented the lamentable spectacle of a multitude of independent armies, acting on various lines of operations, and working not only with no unity of purpose, but frequently at cross-purposes; while in the military councils at Washington then;