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afraid to take her share in the conflict. her engines, and, as she was coming According to the preconcerted plan, as down, on the approach of the Essex the he came within gunshot he opened on other gave way, and she was run ashore, her, and probably soon disabled some of being perfectly unmanageable. Admiral her machinery or steering apparatus, for Farragut-he had now received this title she became unmanageable, continuing, —was told by prisoners from the ram however, to fire her guns at the Essex. that she had been set on fire when the Commander Porter says he took ad- Essex came up.* vantage of her presenting a weak point. The entire loss on the Union side in towards him and loaded with incendiary the engagement at Baton Rouge was shells. After his first discharge of this eighty-one killed, two hundred and fiftyprojectile a gush of fire came out of her seven wounded, and thirty-one missing. side, and from that moment it was dis- The general results of the battle were covered that she was on fire, which he thus summed up in a spirited order of continued his exertions to prevent from General Butler, addressed to the Solbeing extinguished. They backed her diers of the Army of the Gulf :-"Your ashore and made a line fast, which soon successes have heretofore been substanburnt, and she swung off into the river, tially bloodless. Taking and holding where she continued to burn until she the most important strategic and comblew up with a tremendous explosion, mercial positions with the aid of the galthus ending the career of the last iron- lant navy, by the wisdom of your comclad ram of the Mississippi. There were binations and the inoral power of your many persons on the banks of the river arms, it has been left for the last few witnessing the fight, in which they antici- days to baptize you in blood. The pated a triumph for Secessia ; but on the Spanish conqueror of Mexico won imreturn of the Essex not a soul was to be perishable renown by landing in that seen. I will leave a sufficient force of country and burning his transport ships, gunboats here to support the army, and to cut off all hope of retreat. You, will return, to-morrow, to New Orleans more wise and economical, but with and depart immediately for Ship Island, equal providence against retreat, sent with a light heart that I have left no bug- yours home. Organized to operate on bear to torment the communities of the the seacoast, you advanced your outMississippi in my absence.". Commander posts to Baton Rouge, the capital of the W. D. Porter's dispatch to Admiral Far- state of Louisiana, more than two hunragut was thus worded : “Sir: This dred and fifty miles into the interior. morning at eight, I steamed up the riy- | Attacked there by a division of our reer ; and at ten A. M., attacked the rebel bel enemies under command of a majorram Arkansas, and blew her up. There general recreant to loyal Kentucky, is not a fragment of her left.” He says whom some would have honored before the Arkansas had a crew of one hun- his apostacy, of doubly superior numdred and eighty men, and mounted ten bers, you have repulsed in the open guns, six 8-inch and four 50-pound rifles. field his myrmidons, who took advanThe gunboat Essex, commanded by him, tage of your sickness, from the malaria mounted seven guns, and had only forty of the marshes of Vicksburg, to make a men on duty at the time of going into cowardly attack. The brigade at Baton action. The Arkansas, in this affair, Rouge has routed the enemy. He has was commanded by Lieutenant H. K. lost three brigadier-generals, killed, Stevens. She was prevented, it ap- wounded and prisoners, many colonels pears, from making the threatened attack
* Admiral Farragut to the Secretary of the Navy. New upon the town by the breaking of one of Orleans, August 10, 1862.
and field officers. He has more than a love him, weep the true friend, the galthousand killed and wounded. You lant gentleman, the brave soldier, the have captured three pieces of artillery, accomplished officer, the pure patriot, six caissons, two stand of colors, and a and victorious hero, and the devoted large number of prisoners. You have Christian. All and more went out when buried his dead on the field of battle, Williams died. By a singular felicity and are caring for his wounded. You the manner of his death illustrated each have convinced him that you are never of these generous qualities. The chivso sick as not to fight your enemy if he alric American gentleman, he gave up desires the contest. You have shown the vantage of the cover of the houses him that if he cannot take an outpost of the city — forming his lines in the after weeks of preparation, what would open field—lest the women and children be his fate with the main body. If your of his enemies should be hurt in the general should say he was proud of you, fight! A good general, he had made it would only be to praise himself; but his dispositions, and prepared for battle he will say he is proud to be one of you. at the break of day, when he met the In this battle the Northeast and the foe! A brave soldier, he received the Northwest mingled their blood on the death-shot leading his men! A patriot field, as they had long ago joined their hero, he was fighting the battle of bis hearts, in support of the Union. Michi- country, and died as went up the cheer gan stood by Maine, Massachusetts sup- of victory! A Christian, he sleeps in ported Indiana, Wisconsin aided Ver- the hope of the Blessed Redeemer ! mont, while Connecticut, represented by His virtues we cannot exceed—his exthe sons of the ever-green shamrock, ample we may emulate—and mourning fought as our fathers did at Boyne Wa- his death, we pray 'may our last end be ters. While we mourn the loss of many like his. The customary tribute of brave comrades, we who were absent mourning will be worn by the officers envy the privilege of dying upon the in the department.” battlefield for our country under the For his “great service and distinstarry folds of her victorious flag. The guished bravery, particularly in the decolors and guidons of the several corps struction of the iron-clad steam ram Arengaged in the contest will have inscrib- kansas," Commander Porter of the Esed on them-Baton Rouge. To com- sex was raised to the rank of Commoplete the victory, the iron-clad steamer dore. Subsequently to the affair of the Arkansas, the last naval hope of the re- Arkansas, at the end of August, he bellion, hardly awaited the gallant at- made a memorable reconnoissance up tack of the Essex, but followed the ex- the Mississippi with the special view of ample of her sisters, the Merrimac, the ascertaining the existence of certain reManassas, the Mississippi, and the Lou- ported rebel batteries at Port Hudson, isiana, by her own destruction.”
a railway terminus on the left bank of General Butler also issued an order the river and the next important station announcing the death of General Wil- above Baton Rouge-a place which, in liams, in which, after alluding to the the campaigns of the ensuing year, was events of his military career, he pro- to acquire a distinguished reputation by ceeded : “ His life was that of a soldier its resistance to the Union arms. On devoted to his country's service. His first ascending the river he passed the country mourns in sympathy with his spot without opposition, proceeding on wife and children, now that country's to Bayou Sara, where he burned the care and precious charge. We, his com- buildings in the lower part of the town panions in arms, who had learned to in consequence of a guerrilla attack upon
unprovofunding five caged with the
his men. Returning to Port Hudson he the enemy suffered heavily and the discovered certain earthworks in pro- works were certainly in part destroyed. gress, which he proceeded to destroy, A land force (he presciently adds) will exploding the heavy 10-inch gun of the be necessary to complete the destrucEssex in the operation. Visiting Bayou tion of this fort, which, if allowed to be Sara again, he was compelled, by the again restored, would seriously interrupt guerrillas who took shelter in them, to the free navigation of the Mississippi."* burn the remaining buildings. Follow-' On his arrival at New Orleans, Com- ' ing in pursuit of a rebel gunboat, which modore Porter took leave, in a farewell he had heard was at Natchez conveying address, of the crew of the gunboat transports with supplies from Red river, which he had made a memorable comhe found that the vessel in question had panion, in action as well as in name, to run for protection to the batteries at the vessel which had gained his father Vicksburg, whither he proceeded. At such distinguished laurels. “Men of the Natchez a boat's crew was sent ashore Essex," said he, “we have now been from the Essex to procure ice for the associated together on board this vessel sick on board, when they were wantonly very near one year, and during that attacked by over two hundred armed period you have been successfully encitizens, wounding the officer in com- gaged with the enemy in six hard-fought mand, and killing one, and wounding five battles. Your first achievement was seamen. For this unprovoked injury, with four of the craven rebel gun-boats, Commodore Porter immediately opened of vastly superior force, in Lucas Bend, fire on the lower town, and burnt a num- all of which were disabled and driven ber of houses from which he had been below the batteries at Columbus. Your attacked. After an hour's bombardment, next achievement was at Fort Henry, the mayor unconditionally surrendered where you led the way, and by your the city. During this fire one of the prowess and valor caused the surrender 9-inch Dahlgrens of the Essex exploded. of that stronghold in the short space of At Vicksburg Commodore Porter found one hour and ten minutes. At the time the defences carried three miles further the Essex attacked Fort Henry she down the river than during the siege in could scarcely be called an iron-clad July, and was consequently kept at a boat ; the ports were large and unprorespectful distance. Returning to New tected, and the boilers exposed, and alOrleans for supplies, he was met off though fourteen were wounded to death, Port Hudson on the morning of the 7th and twenty-four wounded by steam and of September by a vigorous fire from scalding waters, you were ready at your siege guus, which the enemy had mount- guns for action before the surrender of ed at that place. “As near as I could the fort. This battle was one of the judge,” says Commodore Porter, " they most important of the war, for up to had in position from thirty-five to forty that time our forces could scarcely say guns, of 120-pounders rifled, 10-inch that they had gained a victory. You, smooth, 9-inch and 8-inch calibre, in by your valor, turned the tide of defeat, three batteries, commanding the river to and gave confidence to the country. For the extent of five miles. A 68-pound, a short period the ship was under exa 32-pound, and also a 10-inch rifle ball ternal repairs, and a large portion of this lodged in the Essex, but without mate-crew participated in the victories of Donrial damage. We were under fire an elson, Columbus, Island No. 10, Fort hour and three-quarters, during which Pillow and Memphis. When your old time our guns were well and incessantly
* Commodore Porter to Secretary Welles. September worked, and I have reason to believe 9, 1862.
and tried ship became fully equipped, promptly organized three hundred Afriyou joined her at Cairo, and with your cans into five companies, and called on old and tried associates, entered on a General Butler to arm and equip them. new field of operations. Vicksburg felt General Phelps saw the opportunity of your prowess, and while your country supplying the needs of the war in men lasts you will be gratefully remembered as General Butler had discovered the for your daring and courage at that time. means of furnishing money from the The crowning effort of your courage is property of the rebels. "I would reyet to be related. For months the re- commend,” he wrote to General Butler bels had been building with great care a on the 30th of July, " that the cadet gunboat and ram up the Yazoo river ; graduates of the present year should be this vessel, when finished, successfully sent to South Carolina and this point to encountered and cut up three of the fleet, organize and discipline our African leypassed in safety two powerful fleets, and ies, and that the more promising nontook shelter under the batteries of Vicks- commissioned officers and privates of the burg. Here she stood the fire of a large army be appointed as company officers feet and escaped unhurt. The Essex to command them. Prompt and enerran past this heavy fort and attacked getic efforts in this direction would probher. This, too, she stood without much ably accomplish more towards a speedy injury. You were next battling away termination of the war, and an early reat the enemy before Baton Rouge. On storation of peace and amity, than any the 6th of August you fought this noted other course which could be adopted." Arkansas, and after an action of half an To this General Butler, without entering hour destroyed this formidable vessel, upon the leading question on the policy for which act you have received, through involved, in which he did not probthe honorable the Secretary of the Navy, ably even at this time differ greatly the thanks of the country and the de- from his associate, replied, enjoining partment. I have now to speak of one General Phelps to employ the contramore of your feats of courage, and bands in and about his camp in cutting chronicle again your valor ; it is the down the trees to the lake and forming attack on and successful passing a bat- abatis, for which he would supply, not tery of thirty-five guns at Port Hudson. | swords and guns, but axes. He restrictHaving now detailed your gallant con- ed, in fact, the employment of the neduct, it becomes my painful task to bid groes to the mechanical labor of the you the painful word, good-by, and I camp. This did not satisfy General sincerely hope you may prove the old Phelps, who replied, that “while he was iron-clad Essex as good a ship under willing to prepare African regiments for your present commander as you did the defence of the government against under the old."
its assailants, he was not willing to beA correspondence between General come the mere slave driver proposed, Phelps, whose Ship Island Proclamation having no qualifications in that way. we introduced to the reader at the be- He was, therefore, under the necessity ginning of this chapter, and General of tendering the resignation of his comButler, must not be passed over in a mission as an officer of the army of the chronicle of the affairs of the depart- United States, and respectfully requested ment. After the first occupation of a leave of absence until it was accepted. New Orleans, General Phelps was sta- While I am writing," he added, “at halftioned a few miles above the city at past eight o'clock P. M., a colored man is Carrolton, where, carrying out his views brought in by one of the pickets, who on the subject of negro emancipation, he has just been wounded in the side by a
charge of shot which, he says, was fired had always been taught to do as they at him by one of a party of three hare- were told." There were no slaves in hunters or guerrillas, a mile or more the regiment. General Butler had found from our line of sentinels. As it is out—he was always finding something some distance from the camp to the lake, out—that British and French subjects, the party of wood-choppers which you according to the laws of their own counhave directed will probably need a con- tries, could not rightfully hold slaves siderable force to guard them against abroad. He therefore required foreignsimilar attacks." General Butler upon ers to register themselves, and when this replied, on the 2d of August, that Englishmen and Frenchien claimed by the act of Congress, as he understood negroes as slaves he reminded them it, the President of the United States of the law of the land to which they alone had the authority to employ Afri- | professed allegiance. The slaves were cans in arms as a part of the military thus made free, and as freemen were forces of the United States, and that he enlisted. When the army advanced had not as yet indicated his intention to into the western portion of Louisiana, do so. He would, however, send Gen-numerous slaves were made free in aceral Phelps' application to the President, cordance with the act of Congress, and but in the meantime he must desist from additional material was thus furnished the formation of military negro organi- for the new colored regiments. In givzations. General Phelps insisting upon ing his testimony on this subject, subseresigning, General Butler combated his quently, before the Committee of Conviews of the employment of the negro, gress on the War, at Washington, Genurging the wood cutting as a military eral Butler was asked is, in his opinion, necessity, renewed his orders to that the best interests of the service required effect, and peremptorily refused to re- the use of black regiments. His answer ceive the resignation. General Phelps, was noticeable for its common sense. who was a few months in advance of the "I have no doubt upon that subject,” Administration on this question, urging said he, “any more than I have that the the matter on grounds of principle and best interests of the service require that the inexpediency of his employment we should look for aid wherever we can under the circumstances, the War De- get it. The black regiments will be effipartment conceded his request, when he cient just in proportion to their intellileft the service the following month and gence, like white regiments; and, while retired to his home in Vermont. Before the more intelligent white men make the he left New Orleans, however, General | best soldiers, the next class in intelli- . Butler was himself led to the employ- gence, the next best, etc., when with the ment of colored soldiers, which, with black man you strike the same degree of characteristic address, he justified to the intelligence, the black men will make as people by a precedent of the rebel Gov- good soldiers as the white." ernor Moore. Learning that this officer An expedition to the Lafourche dishad organized several regiments of free trict to the southwest of New Orleans, a colored people in the interests of the wealthy region with an interior line of Confederacy, he determined “ to resus- communication, by bayous and canals citate that regiment of Louisiana militia," from the Gulf to the Mississippi, closed issued his order to that effect, and in a the military history of General Butler's week had a thousand men reasonably administration of his department. It drilled and well disciplined, “better dis- was composed of the Reserve Brigade, ciplined,” he said, “than any other regi- the 8th New Hampshire, 12th and 13th meut I had there, because the blacks Connecticut, 75th New York, and ist
and well disciplineany other regi- thonnecticut, 75