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THE issue of the battle of Bull Run had demonstrated the
necessity of a complete organization of the forces, which a patriotic but impatient country was placing in the field. To arm, to equip, and to organize five hundred thousand men, who had just been drawn from peaceful pursuits, from farm, workshop and counting room, and to make of them an effective military force, was a task of no small magnitude. It was felt that more energetic counsels should prevail at Washington than had thus far characterized the conduct of the war. A younger man was needed to invigorate the army. General Scott, an old and highly meritorious soldier, was thought to be—and thought himself to be-incapacitated for so arduous a service as would naturally devolve upon a General-in-Chief. The most prominent of our younger officers, at that time, was General George B. McClellan, who had won distinction in a rapid and brilliant campaign in Western Virginia. He was called to Washington, placed in command of the Army of the Potomac, and immediately engaged in the work of putting that army into a condition fit for successful operations. The rebel army had gradually extended its posts from Manassas to the neighborhood of Washington, till its advance was encamped within sight of the Capitol. Our own army was encamped around the city, and a cordon of forts was projected and put in process of construction.
Most of the superior officers engaged in the battle of Bull Run had been promoted. Among these, Colonel Burnside had been conspicuous, and he was accordingly appointed a Brigadier
General of Volunteers, his commission dating August 6, 1861. General McClellan desired his services in aiding him to organize the army, and for a month or two, General Burnside was employed in that important work. But it soon became evident that General McClellan's policy was one of inaction, so far as his own army was concerned, while the enemy was to be harassed by expeditions sent out to make a lodgment at different points upon the southern coast.
the southern coast. These points were to become the bases for future operations, when a simultaneous advance would be made upon the enemy, and the rebellion would be crushed by overwhelming pressure upon all sides. Some of the islands off the coast of South Carolina had already been secured. The coast of North Carolina was selected as another section to be occupied. An expedition was projected to secure that important result, and the duty of arranging and carrying this to a successful end was intrusted to General Burnside.
General Burnside at once entered upon the discharge of his duties. His headquarters were established in New York city, and the months of November and December were occupied in contracting for transportation, in organizing the troops assigned to him, in procuring arms, ammunition, supplies and material of war of all kinds. The entire land force concentrated at Annapolis, Md. The naval coöperating force assembled at Hampton Roads. General Burnside's personal staff was composed of Captain Lewis Richmond, Assistant Adjutant General," Captain Herman Biggs, Division Quartermaster, Captains T. C. Slaight and Charles G. Loring, Jr., Assistant Quartermasters, Captain E. R. Gooodrich, Commissary of Subsistence, Captains James F. De Wolf and William Cutting, Assistant Commissaries, Lieutenant D. H. Flagler, Ordnance Officer, Dr. W. H. Church, Division Surgeon, Lieutenants Duncan A. Pell and George Fearing, Aides de Camp.
The land force was divided into three brigades. The first was composed of the 23d, 24th, 25th, 27th Massachusetts, and 10th Connecticut regiments of infantry, and was under the command of Brigadier General John G. Foster. The second
was composed of the 6th New Hampshire, 9th New Jersey, 21st Massachusetts, 51st New York, and 51st Pennsylvania regiments of infantry, and was under the command of Brigadier General Jesse L. Reno. The third was composed of the 4th Rhode Island, 8th and 11th Connecticut, 53d and 89th New York regiments of infantry, a battalion of the 5th Rhode Island infantry, and Battery F, 1st Rhode Island Light Artillery, and was under the command of Brigadier General John G. Parke. A naval brigade, recruited in New York by the name of the Volunteer Marine Artillery, under the command of Colonel Howard, was also specially organized for this expedition. The regiments were full, and the command numbered twelve thousand strong. For the transportation of the troops and their materiel, forty-six vessels were employed, eleven of which were steamers. To these were added nine armed propellers to act as gun-boats, and five barges fitted and armed as floating batteries, carrying altogether forty-seven guns, mostly of small calibre. These formed the army division of the fleet, and were commanded by Commander Samuel F. Hazard. A fleet of twenty vessels, of different sizes—mostly of light draft, for the navigation of the Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds, but carrying a heavy armament of fifty-five guns—accompanied the expedition, under the command of Flag Officer Louis M. Goldsborough.*
The names of the vessels composing the army division were as follows: Picket, 4, Captain Thomas P. Ives; Hussar, 4, Captain Frederick Crocker; Pioneer, 4, Captain Charles E. Baker; Vidette, 3, Captain John L. Foster; Ranger 4, Captain Samuel Emerson; Lancer, 4, Captain U. B. Morley; Chasseur, 4, Captain John West, Zouave, 4, Captain William Hunt; Sentinel, 4, Captain Joshua Couillard. The barges were the Rocket, 3, Master's Mate James Lake; Grenade, 3, Master's Mate Wm. B. Avery; Bombshell, 2, Master's Mate Downey; Grapeshot, 2, Master's Mate N. B. McKean; Shrapnel, 2, Master's Mate Ernest Staples. The gunboats of the naval division were the Philadelphia, (flag ship,) Acting Master Silas Reynolds; Stars and Stripes, 5, Lieutenant Reed Werden; Louisiana, 5, Lieutenant A. Murray; Hetzel, 2, Lieutenant H. K. Davenport; Underwriter, 4, Lieutenant William N. Jeffers; Delaware, 3, Lieutenant S. P. Quackenbush; Commodore Perry, 4, Lieutenant Charles W. Flusser; Valley City, 5, Lieutenant J. C. Chaplin; Commodore Barney, 4, Acting Lieutenant R. T. Renshaw; Hunchback, 4, Acting Volun
On the 19th of December General Burnside broke up his headquarters at New York, and proceeded to Annapolis. On the morning of the 5th of January, 1862, the troops commenced embarking, and by the morning of the 8th all were on board the transports. General Burnside selected the gunboat Picket as the flag ship of the expedition. She was under the command of Captain Thomas P. Ives. On the 9th and 10th, the fleet of transports dropped down Chesapeake Bay and anchored in Hampton Roads. On the morning of the 11th, the Picket came into the roads and cast her anchor under the guns of Fortress Monroe. During the subsequent night, most of the vessels of the expedition went to sea, and at 10 o'clock on the morning of the 12th General Burnside himself sailed. For the next ten days no intelligence of the movements of the fleet was made public.
But on the 23d of January, the public mind at the North was wonderfully excited by reports of shipwreck and disaster. It was supposed at one time, that the entire movement had proved a failure, and that a useless expenditure of materiel, money, and men had been made. As more trustworthy accounts reached the public ear, it became evident that, although there had been extreme peril, yet there had been no serious calamity, and that the officer in charge of the expedition was to be relied upon for success by an expectant country. Through storm and darkness, he had ever remained calm, collected, and hopeful, and by his perseverance had won a victory over the elements, which presaged a brilliant and triumphant result.
The entire fleet had been ordered to rendezvous at Hatteras
teer Lieutenant E. R. Colhoun; Southfield, 4, Acting Volunteer Lieutenant C.F. W. Behm; Morse, 2, Acting Master Peter Hayes; Whitehead, 1, Acting Master Charles A. French; I. N. Seymour, 2, Acting Master G. W. Graves; Shawsheen, 2, Acting Master Thomas G. Woodward; Lockwood, 3, Acting Master C. L. Graves; Ceres, 2, Acting Master John McDiarmid; General Putnam, 1, Acting Master W. J. Hotchkiss; Henry Brinker, 1, Acting Master John E. Giddings; Granite, 1, Acting Master's Mate E. Boomer. The naval division was under the general command of Commander S. C. Rowan, second to the Flag Officer, Most, if not all these vessels were improvised men-of-war, fitted from ferry boats, propollers, river steamboats, canal boats, &c.
Inlet, preparatory to its subsequent operations. When it left Hampton Roads, the weather was fine. But after getting clear of the capes of Virginia, it became dull and foggy. There was much delay in consequence. The steamers could make but slow progress in towing the sailing vessels and barges, and it was not till the 14th, that the fleet was off Cape Hatteras. This dread of mariners, the abode of storms, was true to its former repute. It seemed as though a tempest had been lurking behind this fearful point, ready to dash out and sweep to ruin any adventurous vessel that should dare approach. A few steamers with their convoy succeeded in passing safely, and, making the inlet, crossed the bar, and came to anchor in the comparatively smooth waters of Pamlico Sound. But the remaining vessels of the fleet were caught by the rising storm, and were dispersed. By the 17th, most of the vessels had made a harbor, but it was not till more than a week later, that the expedition could be said to have escaped the perils of the
For nearly two weeks a succession of storms beat upon the “ dark-ribbed ships” and the heroic men who filled them. There was scarcely a lull of more than two or three hours in duration, and even then the sea was running very high, and a movement of any of the vessels was extremely dangerous to the rest. At times, the sea would break over the island itself, and the fort upon its southern point was completely isolated. One or two regiments managed to get on shore, and found a precarious shelter beneath their tents. One steamer, the City of New York, loaded with ammunition, and another, the Pocahontas, with horses on board, went ashore and were lost. One gunboat, the Zouave, dragged her anchors, and staving a hole in her bottom was wrecked. A floating battery, the Grapeshot, was swamped. One or two schooners loaded with forage and provisions were driven upon the beach. But fortunately, amid all the terrors of the storm, there was but little loss of life. Six men of the crew of one of the transports were drowned in attempting to reach the land, and the vessel