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Early in February, signs of immediate action were visible. The 6th New Hampshire, the 11th Connecticut, and the Rhode Island battery had been landed on the 17th of January, and with the 48th Pennsylvania and the 9th New York, (Zouaves,) had formed the command of General Williams on Hatteras Island. Of these, the 9th New York, Colonel R. C. Hawkins, was selected to accompany the expedition to Roanoke. The others remained at Hatteras. The 53d New York Regiment (the D'Epineuil Zouaves) had been ordered back to Fortress Monroe, after the arrival of the expedition at Hatteras Inlet. With these exceptions, the force designed to attack Roanoke Island was the same that had sailed from Annapolis. On the evening of the 4th of February, General Burnside announced to Flag Officer Goldsborough that the army was ready to move, and orders were accordingly issued to the fleet to get under way on the following morning. All hearts beat high with expectation. A seven days' moon shone softly down upon the now placid waters of Pamlico, and the air was vocal with song and cheerful talk that passed from ship to ship as the vessels swung idly at their anchors. General Burnside with his brigade commanders sought the flagship, and in consultation with Flag Officer Goldsborough and his officers, arranged the details of the morrow's enterprise.
The morning of the 5th is clear, with a fresh, cold breeze from the north. At seven o'clock, the army transports begin to move, and by eleven o'clock, after considerable manoeuvering for stations, the entire armada is on its way. Disaster, shipwreck, and storm are left behind, the sun shines brightly, flags, pennants, signals are floating gaily on the morning air, hope animates every heart, and victory, glory and a nation's gratitude are in the near and now brilliant prospect. During that day, the fleet slowly makes it way along through the waters of Pamlico, until, in the middle of the afternoon, it approaches the narrow channel of Croatan Sound. At half past four o'clock, the outline of Roanoke Island is in sight, and soon after five, the fleet anchors at the appointed rendez
vous, about five miles below the "Marshes." All the arrangements of the day have thus far been carried out with complete success, and the leading officers of the expedition meet and exchange congratulations. A boat's crew went on shore upon the main land during the night, and brought off a pilot for the Philadelphia.
The work assigned for the 6th was the engagement of the with the rebel batteries, and the landing of the army. The entire force started early in the morning to work up towards the shore. But the sky was clouded, and though, at ning o'clock, the weather cleared a little, there was but little prospect for a fair day. At half past ten, rain set in, and the wind rose. No great progress was made, the fleet came to anchor, and in the afternoon, a heavy gale blew for several hours. The morning of the 7th opened with better signs, and at nine o'clock, the sky had cleared, and the sun was shining. The Flag Officer within the next quarter of an hour signalled to get under way, and ran up the inspiring motto: "The country expects every man to do his duty." The gunboats immediately dashed forward to their appointed work. The leading vessels threaded the narrow channel of the Marshes, and passing beyond into the more open waters of Croatan Sound, approached the shores of Roanoke. The heavy armed gunboats closed up around the flagship after passing the Marshes, prepared for a strong attack. At eleven o'clock, the Underwriter reconnoitered the shore near Sandy Point, just above Ashby's Harbor, threw a shot or two on shore without drawing a response, and Lieutenant Jeffers signalled "No battery on Sandy Point." The enemy's fleet, under the command of Captain W. F. Lynch, drawn up behind the barricade, was now observed to be preparing for action, and to fire a signal gun to notify the troops on shore that the hour for action had come.
At half past ten o'clock, the army division of gunboats-the Picket, Huzzar, Pioneer, Vidette, Ranger, Lancer, and Chasseur-under Commander Hazard, opened the battle by en
gaging the enemy's fleet and Forts Bartow and Forrest. By noon, all the vessels had come up, and the action became very lively and general. The barracks in the rear of the earthwork on the shore of the island were set on fire, the enemy's fleet driven off beyond the range of our heavy guns, and the enemy's guns on shore silenced. Just before sunset, Forts Bartow and Blanchard opened once more, and the enemy's fleet ventured forth again and put in a few shots. But in forty minutes, the vessels had been driven off a second time, one of them in a sinking condition, another disabled, and the guns from the forts slackened a little in their fire. As the dark ess came on, our fleet ceased firing. The garrison on shore had made a very creditable resistance. The forts had maintained a fierce contest, and showed no signs of surrender. Above the parapets, the rebel flag still flew defiantly. The navy had done a good day's work, but the island was not yet in our possession. The casualties had not been very great on either side. The Louisiana had been struck by an 80-pound rifled projectile, which had exploded in the fore hold, and set the vessel on fire. But no one was injured, and the flames were soon extinguished. On board the Hetzel, one of our own 80pound rifles burst, and wounded six men. The magazine was set on fire, but was extinguished in time to prevent an explosion, by the intrepidity of Lieutenant Charles L. Franklin. Master's Mate Charles Harris, a gallant officer, was killed by a fragment of an exploded shell from one of the enemy's vessels. The Valley City was struck in the foremast. The Hunchback was hit eight times, but without injury to her The Southfield had a shot through her upper works. The Morse was struck several times, and lost one man killed. The Ceres received a shot from the enemy which passed through the upper and lower decks. The Commodore Perry was hit seven times, but suffered no material injury. The Seymour had one man killed and one wounded. The Delaware and Picket covered the landing of the troops. The Flag Officer sent ashore a party, composed of officers and men selected
from different vessels of the fleet, from the Naval Brigade-or more properly the Union Coast Guard and the 9th New Jersey, to assist the army in holding the road from the harbor. The party filled six launches carrying six howitzers, and was under the command of Midshipman Benjamin H. Porter, of the Hunchback.
In the meantime, the army was busily engaged in preparing to land and occupy the shore of the harbor and the road into the interior. The transports were anchored off the mouth of the cove, and the soldiers were rapidly transferred to boats and light draft steamers-one of which, the Cadet, drew but two feet of water. About ten o'clock P. M., a boat load of volunteers from the 5th Rhode Island battalion, guided by Tom, and under the command of Lieutenant Andrews, detailed from the 9th New York to act as Engineer on General Burnside's staff, was sent up the harbor to take soundings and reconnoitre the landing place. The duty was performed with great coolness and intrepidity by the party. The men landed and remained a short time. Just as they were leaving, they were fired upon, and one man was seriously wounded. At a little past. four o'clock in the afternoon, all being ready, the signal to land was given. The steamers started, each towing several boats filled with men. The landing was effected in a most gallant and brilliant manner. The scene was animated and striking beyond description. The boats dashed up to the shore, each vieing with the other, the men jumped overboard as the boats grounded, waded to the land, and, amid cheers of exultation, planted the stars and stripes on Roanoke Island. A detachment of General Foster's brigade had the advance, and the 25th Massachusetts was the first regiment to land. By five o'clock, four thousand men were put on shore. Midshipman Porter's battery was dragged up through the mire, and out on the road, and posted in advance. Two pieces were placed at a fork of the roads, a short distance from the landing. Two pieces were posted about half a mile in advance on the left fork, and two about the same distance on the right. Detachments
from the brigades of Generals Reno and Parke followed that of General Foster so rapidly, that the landing was almost simultaneous. As soon as the troops reached the land, they marched up the island through the swamps and along the causeway, pushing out on the double quick. The remainder of the command was put on shore before ten o'clock. As the night came on, those in the rear lighted their camp fires and made themselves comfortable. Those in front were not so fortunate. They were obliged to be very cautious, as it was not known how' near the enemy was. Indeed General Foster had already discovered an armed party in the woods, and the Delaware and Picket had thrown a few shells for the purpose of dispersing them. The 21st Massachusetts, in support of the battery, passed a wearisome and disagreeable night. No fires could be built, and the discomfort was increased by a heavy rain which continued to fall at intervals through the gloomy hours.
A cold and dismal morning succeeded the cheerless night. But the troops were in the highest spirits, and when the word "Forward!" was given, every man sprang at once, and with the utmost alacrity, to the performance of his duty. General Foster's brigade led the way, and marched with steady step up the narrow causeway. Midshipman Porter's battery fell into the line of march, the men dragging the cannon, following immediately the rear of the 25th Massachusetts. The skirmishers of the advancing column soon came in close contact with the enemy's pickets, who promptly gave the alarm and retired before our approach. A mile and a half further on, the enemy's earthwork was discovered, completely covering and commanding the road, and flanked on either side by a morass, in which every standing place was covered with vines and briars. General Foster deployed his troops, posted his battery, and engaged the enemy with his musketry and howitzers. Little effect was produced, and it was deemed impossible to carry the enemy's battery without reënforcements. The enemy was strongly posted, his artillery was superior to our own, and his infantry had the advantage of fighting behind breastworks.