Slike strani

and was evidently resolved to give an attacking party a warm reception. General Burnside therefore decided to make a complete investment of the fort, and, by a combined attack by land and sea, force its surrender. General Parke was an accomplished engineer, and to him the work of besieging the fort by land was entrusted. It could not have been committed to better hands. Assisted by Captain Williamson and Lieutenant Flagler, General Parke began his task. On the 29th, he threw a part of his brigade upon the island and prepared to construct his batteries. The operations for investing the fort were materially assisted by the configuration of the island. General Parke found here what General Gillmore afterwards found on Morris and James Islands near Charleston-long, low ridges of sand, behind which the troops could work almost unmolested by the enemy's fire. These ridges are doubtless formed by the wind, and like the sands of Cape Cod, and other exposed places upon our seaboard, change their situation and form according to the force of the gale to which they are opened. Some delay had been experienced by the destruction of the railroad bridge. But immediately upon its completion, large quantities of ordnance stores and siege material began to arrive from Newbern. Trenches were dug, mortar beds formed, and the mortars mounted, some heavy Parrott guns placed in position and the number of troops on the island increased. Nearly a month was occupied in these important operations. General Parke was vigilant and indefatigable. General Burnside was as frequently at Beaufort and Carolina City as affairs at Newbern permitted his presence, and the siege was pushed on as rapidly as the circumstances of the case would allow. The fort was hemmed in on every side. The blockading squadron, consisting of steamers Daylight, State of Georgia and Chippewa and the bark Gemsbok, all under the command of Commander Samuel Lockwood, kept a sharp look out at sea. Our soldiers picketed the island in all directions. A few small sailing boats that had been found at Beaufort were made extremely convenient by our officers for parties of duty and pleasure, and con

siderable information and an occasional prisoner were picked up from time to time. The siege was by no means devoid of variety, and our officers enjoyed the opportunity of making acquaintances among the former adherents of Jefferson Davis, some of whom did not hesitate to profess an amount of original "Unionism" which was absolutely suspicious. There were two English vessels lying in the harbor of Beaufort when our forces occupied the town, the officers and crews of which displayed a somewhat unfriendly spirit. It had been supposed that the noted rebel privateer and blockade runner, the Nashville, was lying at Morehead City. But she had run out to sea immediately after the battle of Newbern, and succeeded in eluding our blockading fleet.

The month of April was drawing to a close. At last, on the 23rd, General Parke reported himself ready. Under his intelligent direction every preparation had been thoroughly made and there was no hope for the devoted fort. No shot had as yet been fired by our men. But so complete had been the arrangements, that General Burnside, who was now present and desired to prevent a loss of life, again summoned Colonel White to surrender, offering generous terms. Colonel White again declined in the fewest possible words. Nothing more was to be done than to open our batteries. Commander Lockwood, ever ready to coöperate, stationed his vessels near the point on which the fort was built, with the expectation of taking part in the bombardment. But, unfortunately, the weather was boisterous, the sea was rough, and on the day of battle, the naval forces could accomplish but little. They had a smart engagement with the fort of about an hour's duration. The Daylight was struck once and had one officer wounded.

On the morning of the 25th, General Parke opened his guns on the fort. He had prepared three siege batteries, one of three thirty-pound guns, under the command of Captain L. O. Morris, one of four eight-inch mortars, under the command of Lieutenant D. W. Flagler, one of four ten-inch mor

tars, under the command of Second Lieutenant M. F. Prouty, of the 25th Massachusetts. From these the fire was accurate and destructive. The bombardment continued through that day, the fort replying vigorously. But the commandant saw that his case was desperate. For ten hours our missiles of destruction rained down upon the work. Our heavy guns made breaches in its walls, our shells exploded within its enclosures. The ramparts were swept clean of men. Seventeen guns were disabled and dismounted. The face of the fort showed the marks of many an indentation. The garrison was too small to make a prolonged existence without exhaustion. On the morning of the 25th, therefore, Colonel White hung out the white flag, obtained honorable terms of capitulation, marched out his command, and surrendered to General Parke the fort which he had so persistently defended. The 5th Rhode Island battalion at once marched in, took possession, and the flag of the United States once more floated over the recovered work. This was the second of the forts which had been "reoccupied and repossessed" by our forces by process of siege, Fort Pulaski having surrendered to General Gillmore, after a fierce bombardment, on the eleventh of April. The fall of Fort Macon, so creditably accomplished by General Parke, gave us possession of a new base of supplies and of operations, and relieved that portion of the blockading fleet which had been lying off the harbor of Beaufort. Not many supplies were found in the fort, as the length of the siege had depleted the store houses. The armament and the fort itself had been considerably injured by our attack. Much of the artillery, however, was in good condition as it fell into our hands. The losses on both sides were inconsiderable. Upon our part, but one man was killed and five wounded. The enemy lost eight killed and twenty wounded. The interior of the fort is said to have been "literally covered with fragments of bombs and shells."*

* Commander Lockwood's Report.

But one stronghold of the enemy on the coast of North Carolina now remained unconquered-that of Wilmington, which was heavily fortified and well defended. But it was not permitted to General Burnside to add the capture of this important place to his series of victories. He had already done enough to deserve the commendations of his grateful countrymen, but he would have been glad to complete the occupation of the North Carolina shores. He received the most flattering testimonials from the authorities at Washington of the appreciation of the service which he had already rendered. The Secretary of War expressed his gratitude in the following terms: "The report of the late brilliant successes of the United States forces under your command at Newbern has afforded the highest satisfaction to the President, to this Department, and to the whole nation, and thanks for distinguished services are again tendered to you and the officers and soldiers under your command."* These expressions of approval were not mere empty words. General Burnside was promoted to Major General of Volunteers, his commission dating March 18th. Generals Foster, Reno, and Parke were also promoted to the same grade, dating from the fall of Fort Macon, April 26th. Colonel Rodman received a deserved advancement to the rank of Brigadier General, dating from the 28th of April. Flag Officer Goldsborough and Commander Rowan also received the thanks of Congress for their services at Roanoke Island and Newbern, and were duly promoted to a superior rank. Thus did a grateful country manifest its approval of patriotic and heroic deeds.

* Mr. Stanton's Letter, as quoted in General Order No. 23.




THE boundaries of General Burnside's jurisdiction as commander of the Department of North Carolina, were necessarily defined by the limits of the conquests which our arms should make. After the battle of Newbern, the pursuit of the flying foe into the interior would have been an easy task, had the victorious army been appointed and equipped for an aggressive campaign of such importance. But General Burnside had no cavalry. He had also no reserves. All his forces had been put into the battle after a wearisome march, and they were too much exhausted to do more than drive the enemy out of his defences. The orders for the expedition pointed to the immediate reduction of Fort Macon. General Burnside, therefore, was obliged to content himself with the administration of affairs, and with strengthening Newbern and putting it in condition for defence, that it might become a suitable base for future military operations. His instructions contemplated no movement at present beyond the reoccupation of Fort Macon. On Sunday, March 16th, public services of Thanksgiving to God for the victories of our arms were held in the churches of Newbern, and on Monday, the serious civil work of the Department began.

General Burnside found that he had by no means an easy task to perform. While the siege of Fort Macon was in progress, affairs at Newbern demanded almost constant personal supervision. There were questions of property to settle, the employment and care of large numbers of "contrabands" who had been abandoned by their masters, the subsistence of many

« PrejšnjaNaprej »