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able condition, and a large amount of other valuable property. On the 9th, Gillmore reached Baldwin. At that time, the enemy had no force in East Florida, except the scattered fragments of General Finnegan's command; we had taken all his artillery. On the 10th, a portion of our force was sent towards Sanderson, and Gillmore returned to Jacksonville. Telegraphic communication was established between Baldwin and Jacksonville on the 11th, and Seymour was directed by Gillmore not to risk a repulse by advancing on Lake City, but to hold Sanderson, unless there were reasons for falling back; and also, in case his advance met with any serious opposition, to concentrate at Sanderson and the south fork of the St. Mary's, and, if necessary, to bring back Colonel Henry to the latter place. Having subsequently directed Seymour to make no further advance, without instructions, but to put Jacksonville in a complete state of defence, Gillmore returned on the 16th to Hilton Head.
On Thursday, February 18th, Seymour left his camp at Jacksonville, with ten days' rations, for the purpose of destroying the railroad near the Suwannee River, one hundred miles distant from Jacksonville. He had received no directions from Gillmore to undertake this movement, and the latter immediately sent positive orders to him to remain where he was; but these, unfortunately, arrived too late to avert the disaster which subsequently occurred. On the 19th, the column, numbering · about five thousand men, reached Barber's Station, on the Florida Central Railroad, about thirty miles from Jacksonville. Here it was the intention of Seymour to remain several days; but during the night of the 19th, he received information of the enemy's whereabouts and plans, which led him to believe that by pushing rapidly forward his column, he would be able to defeat the enemy's designs, and secure important military advantages. At seven A. M. on the 20th, the march was resumed along the line of the railroad, in the direction of Lake City, and at noon the troops passed through Sanderson. At this place they did not halt, but pushed forward towards Olustee, nine miles distant, the point at which Seymour believed he should meet the enemy. But instead of coming in contact with the enemy at Olustee, the meeting took place three miles east of that place, and six miles west of Sanderson, so that the troops were not so well prepared for battle as they would have been if Olustee had been the battle-field. The column moved forward in regular order, the cavalry in the advance, and the artillery distributed along the line of infantry; but with singular negligence, considering the march was through an enemy's country, no flanking parties had been thrown out. • At two P. M., as the head of the column reached a point where a country road crosses the railroad, the enemy's skirmishers were encountered. After some brisk firing, the rebels fell back on a second line of skirmishers, and ultimately upon their main forces, which were strongly posted between swamps, about six miles beyond Sanderson. The rebel position was admirably chosen. On the right, their line rested upon a low and rather slight earthwork, protected by rifle-pits, their centre was defended by an impassable swamp, while on the left their cavalry was drawn up on a small elevation behind the shelter of a grove of pines. Their camp was intersected by the railroad, on which was placed a battery capable of operating against our left or our centre, while a rifled gun, mounted on a truck, commanded the road. In order to attack this strong position, our troops were compelled to take a stand between two swamps, one in the front, the other in the rear. The artillery was posted within one hundred yards of the enemy's line of battle, a position in which they were exposed to the deadly fire of the rebel sharpshooters.
The Seventh New Hampshire Regiment, in connection with the Ser. enth Connecticut, was sent forward to the right, to break through the enemy's line. This movement brought on hot firing, and it was erie dent that an engagement was near at hand. At this time, the Union force on the field consisted of the Seventh New Hampshire, the Ser. enth Connecticut, the Independent Battalion of Massachusetts Caralry, the Fortieth Massachusetts Mounted Infantry, the Eighth United States Colored, Elder's Battery of four and Hamilton's of six pieces. The remainder of the column was halted on the road. While the movement on the right was in progress, Colonel Henry, in person, went over to the left to reconnoitre, and discovered that the enemy's right lapped on our left. This was reported to General Seymour, who immediately gave orders for the advance troops and batteries to come into position. The fact that the enemy had a force far superior in point of numbers to our own was now beyond all dispute; but to retreat at that time was impossible, as the road was filled with troops coming up, and the woods on either side would not admit of passage on the flank. Soon Langdon, on the extreme left, and Hamilton on the right, succeeded in getting their batteries at work, but the guns being within one hundred yards of the enemy's front, the loss of life among the artillerists was too great to enable them to maintain an efficient fire. In twenty minutes' time, Hamilton lost forty-four men and forty horses. The Eighth Colored Regiment, which formed his support, also suffered considerably, and, after the death of the commander, Colonel Fribley, retired in disorder. Nevertheless, Hamilton kept his pieces at work until it was evident it would be sure loss to fire another round, and then gave orders to withdraw them. Horses were attached to only four pieces—the horses to the other two had been shot; consequently two guns fell into possession of the enemy. On the right of IIamilton, the Seventh Connecticut and the Seventh New Hampshire were doing fearful execution. The Seventh Connecticut especially were standing their ground with marked valor, and every volley from their guns told on the rebel line. But the rebels outnumbered them five to one, and, after losing one-fourth of their number, the two regiments were compelled to retire to the rear. At the same moment, Colonel Barton's Brigade, the Forty-seventh, Forty-eighth, and One Hundred and Fifteenth New York regiments, took the field, coming up in line en echelon. They fought with great resolution, but, like the other troops, could not make head against the overwhelming force opposed to them.
The unequal contest was sustained until it became evident that the numerical superiority of the enemy was too great to be successfully
opposed. Our line was gradually drawn back, leaving the dead and many of the seriously wounded in the bands of the enemy. This movement was covered by Colonel Montgomery's Brigade, the Fiftyfourth Massachusetts and the First North Carolina. When Barton's Brigade began to waver, in consequence of their ammunition running low, the First North Carolina was sent into line in front, and succeeded in holding the enemy in check. As our troops retired, the rebels attempted to flank us on both sides, a movement which was checked by the judicious dispositions of Colonel Henry. The centre held its ground under a heavy fire from front and flank, until the formation of a new position about a hundred yards to the rear. Soon after the changes of line, the enemy made a desperate charge on the centre, but were driven back by Elder's Battery.
At sunset the firing slackened on both sides, and the Union troops, though exhausted by a fatiguing march and three bours' severe fighting, retired, without confusion, from the field. Seymour was by this time satisfied that the odds against him were too great to risk a repetition of the day's fighting. He was moreover out of ammunition, and was fifty miles distant from his base. Every consideration prompted him to march his shattered force back to Jacksonville before the enemy should encompass it. The order to retreat was given, and, with hardly a pause, the troops commenced to retrace their weary route to Barber's. The retreat was conducted with perfect order, Colonel Henry, with his cavalry, bringing up the rear. At three o'clock, Sunday morning, the troops were at Barber's. The enemy followed closely, but did not press. A few of their cavalry only kept well up to the rear of Henry's column. At Barber's, the column rested until pine A. M., and then took up the line of retreat, reaching Baldwin at about three P. M. They halted here a short time, and then went on towards Jacksonville, arriving at the camping-ground, six miles out, Monday afternoon, the 22d.
The Union loss in this battle was not far from twelve hundred, or about a fourth part of the force engaged. Five guns were also abandoned upon the field, two of Hamilton's and three of Langdon's Battery, from want of horses to drag them away. The enemy's loss must have been quite as severe, as he was inferior in artillery, and the Union batteries were for the most part fired at very short range. That he was considerably crippled was evident from the fact that he made no effort at vigorous pursuit. When finally he approached the neighborhood of Jackson, he found the Union army protected by strong works, with gunboats to support it in case of need. No further attempt was madle to penetrate into Florida, and no movement was initiated for reorganizing the State. The troops on both sides were a few months later called away for more important work in Virginia.
For two years subsequent to the landing of Burnside on the North Carolina coast, the Union troops had retained uninterrupted possession of those places on the inland waters which were then occupied and fortified, and of which the most important were Plymouth, on the south bank of the Roanoke River, near its entrance into Albemarle Sound; Wasbington, on the Pamlico River, and Newbern, on the Neuse. Rebel demonstrations against these towns in the spring of 1803 had proved abortive, and public interest was soon absorbed by the great campaigns in Virginia and the Valley of the Mississippi. But previoas to the renewal of active operations between the main coniending armies, the rebel authorities determined, in the early part of 1804, to make another attempt to expel the Union troops from North Carolina. To harass the Federal Government, and to divert its attention from more important objects, was undoubtedly one of their motives. Another was to give greater security to the lines of railroad traversing North Carolina, which might become of vital importance to the Confederacy in the event of the success of Sherman's campaign against Atlanta, and which were always more or less endangered by the proximity of Unioa garrisons on the coast. In aid of the projected movement, a large and powerful armored ram, called the Albemarle, which had been a long time building up the Roanoke River, was rapidly pushed to conpletion.
The first demonstration was against Newbern, and was evidently intended as a feint. On February 1st, the rebel General Picket, with the brigades of Hoke, Corse, and Clingman, carried by assault a small Union outpost within eight miles of the town, capturing two guns and a few prisoners; but satisfied, apparently, by a nearer reconnoissance, that the defences of Newbern were too strong to be attacked with any prospect of success, he withdrew bis troops to Kinston on the succeeding day.
The next movement was of a more serious character, and was directed against Plymouth, which had been strongly fortified, and commanded the entrance to the Roanoke River. The main detences comprised a breast work with strong forts at different poinis along the line. A mile further up the river was another strong work, called Fort Grav, opposite to which a triple row of piles had been driven, with torpedoes attached, to serve as a protection to the Union war vessels anchored in front of the town. Still farther up was another row of piles with torpedoes, near which a picket boat was stationed to give warning of the approach of the Albermarle. In the middle of April the garrison consisted of about two thousand five hundred men, under command of General Wessells, and the gunboats Southfield, Miami, Bombsbell, Whitehead, and Ceres were at anchor in the river. On Sunday, April 17th, Hoke, with a force estimated at from ten to fifteen thousand men, and a heavy artillery train, appeared, before the town, and, late in the afternoon, Fort Gray was attacked from a battery of six pieces planted on a sand-bank on Pope's Island, a thousand yards up the river. Two desperate charges were made on the fort at early dawn of Jíondar, and both gallantly repulsed with severe slaughter to the enemy. The Bombshell, a small gunboat, steaming up to the aid of the fort, wassunk by the battery. At sunset the enemy desperately assaulted Foris Wil liams and Wessells, forming part of the main line of defences, and were repulsed three times, the gunboats aiding the forts by hurling shell among the rebel columns.
At three a. M. of Tuesday, the 19th, the much-dreaded Albermarle, passing through the obstructions unharmed, silently ran down the river, elu
ding our battery, and, obliquely crossing, struck her prow into the starboard bow of the Southfield, which sank in ten minutes. The Southfield was formerly a ferry-boat plying between New York and Staten Island, side-wheel, eleven hundred and sixty-five tons and seven guns. Some of her officers and crew were picked up by the Miami, some captured, and a few lost. Both the Southfield and Miami had been lashed together to oppose a joint resistance to the ram, but the shock of the collision separated them. The Miami, and the Southfield as long as she could keep above water, maintained a brisk fire upon the Albemarle, which proved utterly ineffective. In firing on the ram, Lieutenant-Commader Flusser, commanding the Miami, a gallant and skilful sailor, was instantly killed, by the rebound of a shell from the impenetrable sides of the enemy. His death was especially disastrous at that time, when, most of all, his skill and courage were needed. The ram, having driven off the gunboats, began to shell the town and forts, briskly aided by the rebel batteries. The attack was violently conducted on Tuesday, the rebel lines drawing nearer, and our force evacuating Fort Wessells, after a brave defence. At nine a. M., on Wednesday, Fort Williams was assaulted and the enemy handsomely repulsed in several distinct charges, with great slaughter. At half-past ten a. M. General Wessells capitulated, and pulled the flag down from Forts Williams and Comfort. The garrison at Fort Gray persisted in holding out somewhat longer, but finally surrendered. The enemy took about two thousand five hundred prisoners, thirty pieces of artillery, several hundred horses, a large amount of proiásions and stores, and the garrison outfit. The non-combatants of the town and some negroes had been prudently removed, before the main attack, to Roanoke Island. Our loss in killed and wounded was about one hundred and fifty--the enemy's probably upward of a thousand. The enemy seemed satisfied with this success, and made no further attempt upon Newbern or Washington. Warned, however, of the danger of leaving isolated garrisons to be overpowered after the fashion of Plymouth, Government ordered the evacuation of Washington in the latter part of April, so that by the 1st of May the only place on the mainland of being the North Carolina sounds occupied by the Union forces was Newbern, which from its great strength might well defy attack. Operations by land forces ended, however, with the capture of Plymouth, and the troops on both sides were soon after, for the most part, sent North, to participate in the campaign against Richmond.
As the presence of the Albemarle in the North Carolina waters threatened to destroy the uninterrupted supremacy which the Federal fleets had maintained there, the squadron was increased, and Captain Melancthon Smith, an experienced officer, placed in command. On May 5th, the Union fleet being collected near the mouth of the Roanoke River, the Albemarle sallied forth, accompanied by the Bombshell as a tender, and at half-past four P. M., proceeded to attack the gunboats. The latter were mostly small craft, built expressly to navigate the shallow waters of the sounds and the rivers flowing into them, but manfully accepted the unequal battle. Soon after five o'clock the Sassacus, a “double-ender” (that is, a vessel capable of sailing equally well in