Slike strani



of the crew rushed out into the open air ers. The rifled gun exploded early in on the platform in front with their clothes the action. The casualties of the garriand skin hanging in threads from their son were six killed and ten wounded. bodies, and with their last breath shout- Commander William D. Porter, who ed, “Hurrah for the Union.' Another suffered so severe, but happily, as it poor fellow, while dying, being told that proved, not fatal injury on board his the fort had surrendered, said, 'I die vessel, was a son of the distinguished content.' Another, with blistered hands, Commodore Porter, of world-wide fame, pulled the string to fire another shot, but for his adventures in the Pacific Ocean the steam had dampened the priming. in the second war with Great Britain. Seldom has greater heroism been dis- The gunboat which the son commandplayed. Several poor fellows jumped ed in Commander Foote's flotilla, was overboard to escape the steam and were named in honor of his father's ship, the drowned. Altogether it was an awful Essex. Commander Porter was born in scene, the contending ships and the fort, Louisiana, but was appointed to the navy the roar of battle, and the hissing steam, from Massachusetts. He entered the sersending its deadly breath into every pore vice early in life, in 1823, and had shared of the devoted crew."

the usual employments of a junior officer,

a On the arrival of General McCler- his rank of Commander dating from 1855. nand at the rear of the fort, he found At the beginning of 1861 he was in comthe camp of the enemy, where several mand of the Sloop St. Marys, at Panama, thousand troops-regiments of Tennes- whence he dated an indignant letter of see, Mississippi, Arkansas, and others, rebuke to Lieutenant J. H. Hamilton, a had been stationed, quite deserted. It South Carolinian, who having deserted had been abandoned in haste at his ap- the service of the United States to con

Tents were left standing with duct a rebel steam tug in Charleston harall their appartenances, arms, clothes, bor, thought fit to write his brethren in provisions, the public property and per- the navy to follow the same treasonable sonal effects of officers and men.

So course.

Porter's reply was not to be eager, in fact, were the troops to be off, mistaken : “ The Constitutional Governthat they did not leave a single horse for ment of the United States has entrusted the officers of the garrison to ride away me with the command of this beautiful upon, General Tilghman's favorite steed, ship, and before I will permit any other “one of the finest, sir, in the Southern flag to fly at her peak than the Stars and Confederacy," as he touchingly remarked, Stripes, I will fire a pistol in her magabeing taken with the rest.* On the op- zine and blow her up. * * The Constiposite side of the river, General Smith's tution defines treason to be bearing arms division reached the unfinished works at against the United States. You have Fort Hickman, also to take possession of frequently heard this read on the quarthe tents and stores from which the own- ter-deck of these vessels of the navy, ers had fled. Fort Henry was found to and yet you would persuade the gallant be a well-built bastioned fort without men of the navy to place themselves casemates, inclosing an area of three and alongside of the traitor Arnold and youra half acres.

Outside was an extensive self. It has ever been the boast of the series of rifle pits. Its armament con- navy that she has never had one traitor

. sisted of one 10-inch columbiad, a rifled within her corps. You, sir, are the first 24-pounder, twelve smooth-bore 32’s, a to destroy the proud boast. Future his24-pounder siege gun, and two 12-pound- tory will place you alongside of Arnold, • Special Correspondent of the New York Tribune, Feb and you will be the first to blot the page

of naval history illuminated by the ex


ruary 14, 1862.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

ample of Decatur, Porter, Hull, Bain- the Confederate commander of Fort
bridge, Jones, Caldwell, and other gal- Henry, a native of Maryland, was a
lant and patriotic officers.” Such were graduate of West Point of the year
the terms in which Porter resented the 1836, with the rank of brevet 2d Lieu-
wounds inflicted on his country. In the tenant in the 1st Regiment Dragoons.
appointment to the fleet on the Missis- He left the service immediately to fol-
sippi he was among the foremost, and low the profession of civil engineering,
his gunboat was one of the first fitted in which he became engaged in various
for action. That he lost no opportun- important public works. Returning to
ity for a word as well as a blow at the the army in the war with Mexico, he
enemy, bis correspondence with a re- served with distinction on the Rio
bel commander on the Mississippi at Grande, and elsewhere, and when peace
Fort Columbus, thus given in the news was concluded, resumed his occupation
papers of the day, abundantly witnesses. of engineering, and was employed in an
It opened with a general challenge : important position in the construction of
“Come out here, you cowardly rebels, the Panama railroad. He had of late
and show your gunboats. PORTER." resided at Paducah in Kentucky, and in
There was something in the appeal, un- the early defensive or armed neutrality
ceremonious as it appears, which suit- movements in that state, held an appoint-
ed the meridian, for it was presently ment under General Buckner. When the
answered, though in more profession- state decided for the Union, he left for
al phraseology : “ Marine Headquar- Tennessee, and accepted a commission
ters, Columbus, Kentucky, January 13, from the Confederate Government. He
1862. Commander Porter, on United figured prominently in the border move-
States gunboat Essex :—Sir, The iron- ments attending the rebel occupation of
clad steamer Grampus will meet the Bowling Green, and was specially in-
Essex at any point and time your honor trusted with the defences of the Cum-
may appoint, and show you that the berland and the Tennessee.
power is in our hands. An early reply In the reports of the engagement at
will be agreeable to your obedient ser- Fort Henry, which were current at the
vant, Marsh J. Miller, Captain-Com- time, it was said, that in surrendering to
manding C. S. I. C. steamer Grampus." Flag-Officer Foote, General Tilghman
To which Porter answered, with a genu- remarked, “I am glad to surrender to
ine sailor's inspiration : "United States so gallant an officer," to which the Com-
gunboat Essex, W. D. Porter Command- modore replied, in no disparagement of
ing, Fort Jefferson, January 18, 1862. his gallantry, for to that he has testified
To the traitor Marsh Miller, command in his official report, but with a full con-
ing a rebel gunboat called the Gram- sciousness of the relative value of assail-
pus Commander Porter has already ing the Government and defending it;
thrashed your gunboat fleet, shelled and “You do perfectly right, sir, in surren-
silenced your rebel batteries at the Iron dering, but you should have blown my
Banks, chased your miserable and cow- boats out of the water before I would
ardly self down behind Columbus ; but have surrendered to you.” In fact, the
if you desire to meet the Essex, show gallant sailor seems to have taken quite
yourself any morning in Prentys' Bend, a fancy to his valiant antagonist. Writ-

you shall then meet with a traitor's ing to a friend at Baltimore, who was fate-if you have the courage to stand. particularly interested in the events of 'God and our country ; rebels offend the day, he said—“ You will see quite both.'

PORTER.' enough, and perhaps more than you want Brigadier-General Lloyd Tilghman, to see, about our fight. Tighlman and I




[ocr errors]

laughed over it, and became quite social at home in the pulpit as he was in the if not warm friends before I turned him Cincinnati during the bombardment, for over to our General, as I was leaving he extemporized an excellent practical the evening of our action. He acted so discourse from the text, “Let not your bravely and gallantly in the fight, and is hearts be troubled ; ye believe in God, such a high-toned, brave man, that he believe also in me.' The auditors,” it is won my heart, and I take pleasure in added, “ were much affected at hearing bearing testimony to his pluck, the gal- the voice from which so lately rang out lant defence of his post, and how near the word of command, he was to killing your nephew.”

'In worst extremes, and on the perilous edge By the courtesy of General Grant, Of battle, when it raged,' General Tilghman was permitted to com- raised in humble acknowledgment to municate a report of the transactions of Heaven for the victory, in earnest invothe day to Headquarters at Bowling cation for future protection, and in simple, Green. In this he stated, that he had but forcible, expositions of the truth, that commenced the action with the gunboats happiness depends not on externals, but with eleven guns, and had continued the upon integrity, purity of life, and straightengagement for about two hours, when forward, conscientious performance of the having but four guns fit for service, he duties which devolve upon us."* .found it impossible to maintain the fort, The victory of Commodore Foote, and surrendered. The effect of our everywhere received with congratulashot,” says he, “was severely felt by tions at the North, was announced to the enemy, whose superior and over- General McClellan, at Washington, in whelming force alone gave them the ad- this brief dispatch by Major-General vantage." While he bore testimony to Halleck from his headquarters at St. the gallantry of the officers and men, he Louis the day after its occurrence. added, “I also take great pleasure in "Fort Henry is ours! The flag of the

“ ! acknowledging the courtesies and con- Uuion is reëstablished on the soil of siderations shown by Brigadier-General Tennessee. It will never be removed.” U. S. Grant, and Commander Foote, and The dispatch of Commodore Foote from the officers under their command."* the deck of his flag-ship, after the sur

Commodore Foote was a straight-for- render, was read to both Houses of Conward man, ready for duty in whatever gress immediately on its receipt, and was form it might present itself

. We have received with loud demonstrations of apseen an Episcopal Bishop becoming a plause. The Senate, fired by the sucMajor-General, in the Confederate ser- cess of the gunboats, at once passed the vice. The reverse of that spectacle was bill from the naval committee for buildfar more pleasing, when Commodore ing twenty additional iron-clad steam Foote, the Sunday after his victory, vessels of that description. preached a sermon from the pulpit of "The country,” wrote Secretary Wela church at Cairo. The congregation of les, in reply to Commodore Foote, “apthe Presbyterian Church, at that place, preciates your gallant deeds, and this we are told, “ were disappointed at the Department desires to convey to you non-appearance of their pastor. After and your brave associates its profound waiting half an hour for his arrival, Com- thanks for the service you have renmodore Foote was induced to conduct dered.” A few days after, the following the services. He seemed to be as much General Order was issued by Flag-Offithat portion of the gunboat fotilla which rebels. The draw of the bridge was were engaged in the capture of Fort found closed, and the machinery for Henry on the 6th inst., already have turning it disabled. About a mile and a had their brilliant services and gallant half above were several rebel transport conduct favorably noticed by the Com- steamers escaping up stream. A party manding General of the Western Army, was landed, and in an hour I had the and by the Secretary of the Navy, con- satisfaction to see the draw open. The veying the assurance that the President Taylor being the slowest of the gunboats, of the United States, the Congress, and Lieutenant-Commanding Gwin landed a the country, appreciate their gallant force to destroy a portion of the railroad deeds, and proffer to them the profound track, and to secure such military stores thanks of the Navy Department for the as might be found, while I directed Lieuservices rendered. In conveying these tenant-Commanding Shirk to follow me pleasing tidings that our services are ac- with all speed in chase of the fleeing hnowledged by the highest authorities of boats. In five hours this boat succeeded the Government, you will permit me to in forcing the rebels to abandon and add, that in observing the good order, burn those of their boats loaded with coolness, courage, and efficiency of offi- military stores. The first one fired cers and men, in the memorable action (Samuel Orr) had on a quantity of subbetween the gunboats and the fort, that marine batteries, which very soon ex.. I shall ever cherish with the liveliest in- ploded ; the second one was freighted terest all the officers and men who par- with powder, cannon-shot, grape, balls ticipated in the battle, and in the future etc. Fearing an explosion from the fired shall, with increased hope and the great- boats—there were two together—I had est confidence, depend upon all officers stopped at a distance of a thousand and men attached to the flotilla, in the yards, but, even there, our skylights performance of every duty, whether in were broken by the concussion ; the the fight or the laborious work of its right upper doors were forced open, and preparation.”

cer Foote : "The officers and crew of Brigadier-General Lloyd Tilghman to Colonel W. W. Mackall, A. A. General, C. S. A., Bowling Green. Fort * Correspondence of the New York Tribune, Cairo, Feb. llenry, February 9, 1862.

ruary 10, 1862.

locks and fastenings everywhere broken. Of the sequel to the capture of Fort The whole river, for half a mile roundHenry, the expedition up the Tennessee about, was completely beaten up' by river, which had been so judiciously pro- the falling fragments, and the shower of vided for by Commodore Foote in ad-shot, grape, balls, etc. The house of a vance, we have a most interesting de- reported Union man was blown to pieces, tailed account in the official report of and it is suspected that there was deLieutenant-Commanding S. L. Phelps, to sign in landing the boats in front of the whom the work was entrusted. "Soon doomed home.

“Soon doomed home. The Lexington baving after the surrender of Fort Henry,” fallen, and without a pilot on board, I writes that officer to Flag Officer Foote, concluded to wait for both of the boats from the gunboat Conestoga, on the 10th to come up. Joined by them, we proof February," I proceeded, in obedience ceeded up the river. Lieutenant-Comto your order, up the Tennessee river, manding Gwin had destroyed some of with the Taylor, Lieutenant-Command- the tressel-work at the end of the bridge, ing Gwin ; Lexington, Lieutenant-Com- burning with them a lot of camp equipmanding Shirk, and this vessel, forming age. J. N. Brown, formerly a lieutenant a division of the flotilla, and arrived in the navy, and signing himself C. S. N., after dark at the railroad crossing, twen- had fled with such precipitation as to : ty-five miles above the fort, having on leave his papers behind. These Lieuthe way destroyed a small amount of tenant-Commanding Gwin brought away, camp equipage, abandoned by the fleeing and I send them to you, as they give an



[ocr errors]

official history of the rebel floating pre- we could bring away on board our ves.. parations on the Mississippi, Cumber- sels, and destroying the remainder. No land, and Tennessee. Lieutenant Brown flats or other craft could be found. I had charge of the construction of gun- found also more of the iron and plating boats.

intended for the Eastport. At night, on the 7th, we arrived at a “A deputation of citizens of Florence landing in Hardin County, Tennessee, waited upon me, first desiring that they known as Cerro Gordo, where we found might be made able to quiet the fears of the steamer Eastport, being converted to their wives and daughters, with assurana gunboat. Armed boat-crews were im- ces from me that they would not be momediately sent on board, and search was lested ; and secondly, praying that I made for means of destruction that might would not destroy their railroad bridge. have been devised. She had been scut-As for the first, I told them we were tled, and the section pipe broken. These neither ruflians nor savages, and that we

, leaks were soon stopped. A number of were there to protect from violence, and

, rifle shots were fired at our vessels, but to enforce the laws; and, with reference a couple of shells dispersed the rebels. to the second, that if the bridge were On examination, I found that there were away, we could ascend no higher, and large quantities of timber and lumber that it could possess no military imporprepared for fitting up the Eastport ; tance, so far as I saw, as it simply conthat the vessel itself---some two hundred nected Florence itself with the railroad and eighty feet long—was in excellent on the south bank of the river. We had condition, and already half finished, con- seized three of their steamers, one halfsiderable of the plating designed for her finished gunboat, and had forced the rewas lying on the bank, and everything at bels to burn six others loaded with suphand to complete her. I therefore di- plies, and their loss, with that of freight, rected Lieutenant-Commanding Gwin to is a heavy blow to the enemy. Two remain with the Taylor to guard the boats are

boats are still known to be on the Tenprize, and to load the lumber, etc., while nessee, and are, doubtless, hidden in the Lexington and Conestoga should pro- some of the creeks, where we shall be ceed still higher up. Soon after day- able to find them when there is time for light, on the 8th, we passed Eastport, the search.

the search. We returned on the night Mississippi, and at Chickasaw, further up of the 8th, to where the Eastport lay. near the state line, seized two steamers, The crew of the Taylor had already got the Sallie Wood and Muscle—the former on board the prize an immense amount

-laid up, and the latter freighted with of lumber, etc. The crews of the three iron, destined for Richmond, and for re- boats set to work to finish the undertakbel use.

We then proceeded up the ing, and we have brought away probably river, entering the State of Alabama, 250,000 feet of the best quality of ship and ascending to Florence, at the foot of and building lumber, all the iron, mathe Muscle shoals. On coming in sight | chinery, spikes, plating, nails, etc., beof the town, three steamers were dis- longing to the rebel gunboat, and I caused covered, which were immediately set on the mill to be destroyed where the lumfire by the rebels. Some shots were ber had been sawed. Lieutenant-Comfired from the opposite side of the river manding Gyin had, in our absence, enbelow. A force was landed, and con- listed some twenty-five Tennesseans, who siderable quantities of supplies, marked gave information of the encampment of Fort Henry, were secured from the burn- Colonel Drew's rebel regiment, at Savaning wrecks. Some had been landed and nah, Tennessee. A portion of the six stored. These I seized, putting such as hundred or seven hundred were known

« PrejšnjaNaprej »