As the saps in front of Bainbridge's and Duryea's batteries drew every day nearer to the bastion and the priest-cap, the working parties were harassed and began to be greatly delayed by the unceasing fire of the Confederate sharp-shooters. Moreover, in spite of the vigilance of the sharp-shooters in the trenches, their adversaries had so much the advantage of ground that they were able to render the passage of certain exposed points of the approaches slow and hazardous. At first, cotton bales were used to protect the head of the sap, but these the adventurous enemy set alight with blazing arrows or by sallies of small parties under cover of darkness. In the short night it was impossible to raise a pile of sand-bags high enough to overlook the breastworks. Toward the end of June this was changed in a single night by the skill and ingenuity of Colonel Edward Prince, of the 7th Illinois cavalry.
Happening to be at headquarters when the trouble was being talked about, he heard an officer suggest making use of the empty hogsheads at the sugar-house; how to get them to the trenches was the next question. This he promptly offered to solve if simply ordered to do it and left to himself. Cavalry had never been of any use in a siege, he said; it was time for a change. The order was instantly given. Prince swung himself into the saddle and rode away. Before daylight his men had carried through the woods and over the hills to the mouth of the sap, opposite the southern angle of the priest-cap, enough sugar hogsheads to make two tiers. The heads had been knocked in, a long pole thrust through each hogshead, and thus slung, it was easy for two mounted troopers to carry it between them. Quietly rolled into position by the working parties and rapidly filled with earth, a rude platform erected behind for the sharp-shooter to mount upon, with a few sand-bags thrown on top to protect his head,—this was the beginning of the great trench cavalier, whose frowning crest the astonished Confederates awoke the next morning to find towering high above their heads. Afterwards enlarged and strengthened, it finally dominated the whole line of defence not only in its immediate front, but for a long distance on either side.
Not less ingenious was the device almost instinctively resorted to by the artillerists for the safety of the gunners when, after the siege batteries opened, the Confederate sharp-shooters began picking off every head that came in sight. The first day saw a number of gunners stricken in the act of taking aim, an incident not conducive to deliberation or accuracy on the part of their successors at the guns. The next sunrise saw every exposed battery, from right to left, protected by a hinged shutter made of flat iron chiefly taken from the sugar troughs, covered with strips of rawhide from the commissary's, the space stuffed tight with loose cotton, and a hole made through all, big enough for the gunner's eye, but too small for the sharp-shooter's bullet. Such was substantially the plan simultaneously adopted at three or four different points and afterwards followed everywhere. The remedy was perfect.
On the 3d of July arrangements were made for the daily detail of a brigade commander to act as General of the Trenches during a tour of twenty-four hours, from noon to noon. His duties were to superintend the siege operations, to post the guards of the trenches, to repulse sorties, and to protect the works. The works to be constructed were indicated and laid out by the Chief Engineer, whose duties, after the 17th of June, when Major Houston fell seriously ill, were performed by Captain John C. Palfrey, aided and overlooked by General Andrews, the Chief of Staff. Daily, at nine o'clock in the morning, the General of the Trenches and the Chief Engineer made separate reports to headquarters of everything that had happened during the previous day. Each of these officers made five reports, yet of the ten but two are to be found printed among the Official Records. These are the engineer's reports of work done on the 5th and 6th of July. They contain almost the only details of the siege to be gathered from the record, notwithstanding the fact that every paper, however small, or irregular in size or form, or apparently unimportant in substance, that related in any way to the military operations of the Army of the Gulf was carefully preserved on the files of its Adjutant-General's office, where, for safety as well as convenience, documents of this character were kept separate from the ordinary files covering matters of routine and requiring to be handled every day or hour. The proof is strong that these important records were in due time delivered into the custody of the War Office, where, for a considerable period after the close of the war, little or no care seems to have been taken of the documents thus turned in by the several Corps and Departments, as these were discontinued; and although the care and management of the War Records division of the Adjutant-General's Office at Washington has, from its earliest organization, been such as to deserve the highest admiration, yet many of these papers are not to be found there. The probability is that they were either mislaid or else swept away and destroyed before this office was organized.
Palfrey's report for the 5th of July shows the left cavalier finished and occupied, and the right cavalier nearly finished, but constantly injured by a 24-pounder gun that had so far escaped destruction by the artillery of the besiegers. The sap in front of Bainbridge's battery, No. 8, was advanced about twenty yards during this day, and the parallel in front of the priest-cap extended to the left eleven yards; work was greatly retarded by a heavy rain in the night. The mine was so far advanced that a shaft was begun to run obliquely under the salient, this course being chosen instead of the usual plan of a vertical shaft with enveloping galleries, as shorter in time and distance, although more dangerous.
On the 6th the sap was pushed forward forty-two feet, and the parallel carried to the left sixty-nine feet. The mine shaft, begun the day before, was carried about twenty-seven feet underground, directly toward the salient. The cavaliers were finished.
During the 7th, although there is no report for that day, the shaft for the mine under the priest-cap was finished, the chamber itself excavated and charged with about twelve hundred pounds of powder, and the mine tamped with sand-bags. The mine on the left had been ready for some days; it was now charged with fifteen hundred pounds of powder and tamped.
Heavy thunder-storms, accompanied by warm rain, had been frequent of late, and the night dews had been at times heavy. Accordingly it was thought best not to trust so delicate an operation as the explosion of the mines to the chance of a damp fuse. Daybreak on the 9th of July having been set as the hour for the simultaneous explosion of the mines, to be instantly followed by one last rush through the gaps, Captain Walker was sent on the evening of the 7th, to the Richmond to ask for dry fuses from the magazines of the Navy.
Meanwhile events were moving rapidly to an end. In the early morning of Tuesday, the 7th, the gunboat General Price came down the river bringing the great news that Vicksburg had surrendered to Grant on the 4th of July. Commodore Palmer, on board the Hartford, was the first to receive the news, but for some reason it happened that signal communication was obstructed or suspended between the Hartford and headquarters, so that it was not until a quarter before eleven that Colonel Kilby Smith, of Grant's staff, delivered to Banks the welcome message of which he was the bearer.
In less time than it takes to tell, an aide-de-camp was on his way to the General of the Trenches bearing the brief announcement, "Vicksburg surrendered on the 4th of July." This note, written upon the thin manifold paper of the field order-books, the General of the Trenches was directed to wrap securely around a clod of clay —the closest approach to a stone to be found in all the lowlands of Louisiana—and toss it over into the enemy's works. At the same time the good news was sped by wire and by staff officers to the commanders of divisions. At noon a national salute was to be fired and all the bands were to play the national airs; but the men could not wait for these slow formalities. No sooner was the first loud shout of rejoicing heard from the trenches, where for so many weary nights and days there had been little to rejoice at, than by a sort of instinct the men of both armies seem to have divined what had happened. From man to man, from company to company, from regiment to regiment, the word passed, and as it passed, once more the cheers of the soldiers of the Union rang out, and again the forest echoed with the strains of "The Star-Spangled Banner" from the long-silent bands. Many a rough cheek, unused to tears, was wet that morning, and the sound of laughter was heard from many lips that had long been set in silence; but when the first thrill was spent, it gave way to a deep-drawn sigh of relief. The work was done; all the toil and suffering was over. Nor was this feeling restricted to the outside of the parapet; the defenders felt it even more strongly. At first they received the news with real or affected incredulity. An officer of an Arkansas regiment, to whom was first handed the little scrap of tissue paper on which the whole chapter of history was told in seven words, acknowledged the complement by calling back, "This is another damned Yankee lie!" Yet before many minutes were over the firing had died away, save here and there a scattering exception, although peremptory orders were even given to secure its renewal. In spite of everything the men began to mingle and to exchange story for story, gibe for gibe, coffee for corn-beer, and when night fell there can have been few men in either army but believed the fighting was over.
That evening Gardner summoned his commanders to meet him in council. Among them all there was but one thought—the end had come.
Shortly after half-past twelve the notes of a bugle were heard on the Plains Store road sounding the signal, "Cease firing." A few seconds later an officer with a small escort approached, bearing a lantern swung upon a long pole, with a white handkerchief tied beneath it, to serve as a flag of truce. At the outpost of Charles J. Paine's brigade the flag was halted and its purpose ascertained. This was announced to be the delivery of an important despatch from Gardner to Banks. Thus it was that a few minutes after one o'clock the hoofs of two horses were heard at the same instant at headquarters, yet each with a sound of its own that seemed in keeping with its story. One, a slow and measured trot, told of duty done and stables near; the other, quick and nervous, spoke of pressing news. Two officers dismounted; the clang of their sabres was heard together; together they made their way to the tent where the writer of these lines lay awake and listening. One was Captain Walker, with the fuse, the other was Lieutenant Orton S. Clark, of the 116th New York, then attached to the staff of Charles J. Paine. The long envelope he handed in felt rough to the touch; the light of a match showed its color a dull gray; every inch of it said, "Surrender."
When opened it was found to contain a request for an official assurance as to the truth of the report that Vicksburg had surrendered. If true, Gardner asked for a cessation of hostilities with a view to consider terms. At a quarter-past one Banks replied, conveying an exact copy of so much of Grant's despatch as related the capitulation of Vicksburg. He told when and how the despatch had come, and wound up by regretting that he could not consent to a truce for the purpose indicated. In order to avoid all chance of needless excitement or disturbance, as well as of the premature publication of the news, the Adjutant-General carried this despatch himself, and, accompanied by Lieutenant Clark, as well as, at his own request, by General Stone, rode first to Augur's headquarters to acquaint him with the news and to borrow a bugler, and then to the outposts to meet the Confederate flag of truce. A blast upon the bugle brought back the little party of horsemen, with the lantern swaying from the pole; but it was nearly daylight before they again returned with Gardner's reply. Meanwhile, right and left word had been quietly passed to the pickets to cease firing.
In his second letter Gardner said:
"Having defended this position so long as I deem my duty requires, I am willing to surrender to you, and will appoint a commission of three officers to meet a similar commission, appointed by yourself, at nine o'clock this morning, for the purpose of agreeing upon and drawing up the terms of surrender, and for that purpose I ask a cessation of hostilities. Will you please designate a point outside of my breastworks where a meeting shall be held for this purpose?"
To this Banks answered at 4:30 A.M.:
"I have designated Brigadier-General Charles P. Stone, Colonel Henry W. Birge, and Lieutenant-Colonel Richard B. Irwin as the officers to meet the commission appointed by you. They will meet your officers at the hour designated at a point near where the flag of truce was received this morning. I will direct that all active hostilities shall entirely cease on my part until further notice for the purpose stated."
The division commanders, as well as the commanders of the upper and lower fleets, were at once notified, and at six o'clock Captain Walker was sent to find Admiral Farragut, wherever he might be, and to deliver to him despatches conveying the news of the surrender, outlining Banks's plans for moving against Taylor in La Fourche, and urging the Admiral to send all the light-draught gunboats at once to Berwick Bay.
Banks meant to march Weitzel directly to the nearest landing, which was within the lines of Port Hudson, as soon as the formal capitulation should be accomplished, and to send Grover after him as fast as steamboats could be found. This called for many arrangements; the occupying force had also to be seen to; and finally, it was necessary that the starving garrison should be fed. Colonel Irwin was therefore relieved, at his own request, from duty as one of the commissioners, and Brigadier-General Dwight was named in his stead. This drew an objection from Weitzel, who naturally felt that there were claims of service as well as of rank that might have been considered before those of the temporary commander of the second division; however, it was too late to make any further change, and when Banks offered to name Weitzel, whose protest had been not for himself but for his brigades, as the officer to receive Gardner's sword, the offer was declined. Among the officers of the navy, too, especially those of higher grades, great cause of offense was felt that, after all their services in the siege, they were left unrepresented in the honors of the surrender. This feeling was natural enough; yet before determining how far the complaints based on it were just, it is necessary to consider how important was every hour, almost every moment, with reference to the operations against Taylor, while three and a half hours were required to make the journey between headquarters and the upper fleet, and four and a half hours to reach the lower fleet. Moreover, the Admiral had gone to New Orleans the evening before.
At nine the commissioners met under the shade of the beautiful trees, nearly on the spot where O'Brien had rested among his men while waiting for the word on the 27th of May. On the Confederate side the commissioners were Colonel William R. Miles, commanding the right wing of the garrison, Colonel I. G. W. Steedman, of the 1st Alabama, commanding the left wing, and Lieutenant-Colonel Marshall J. Smith, Chief of Heavy Artillery.
Among those thus brought together there was more than one gentleman of marked conversational talent; the day was pleasant, the shade grateful, and, to one side at least, the refreshment not less so; and thus the time passed pleasantly until two o'clock, when the commissioners signed, with but a single change, the articles that had been drawn up for them and in readiness since six in the morning. The alteration was occasioned by the great and unexpected length to which the conference had been protracted. Five o'clock in the afternoon had been named as the time when the besiegers were to occupy the works; this had to be changed to seven o'clock on the morning of the 9th. The terms, which will be found in full in the Appendix, were those of an unconditional surrender. Gardner, who was in waiting conveniently near, at once approved the articles, and at half-past two they were completed by the signature of Banks. A few minutes later the long wagon-train, loaded with provisions, that had been standing for hours in the Plains Store road, was signalled to go forward. The cheers that welcomed the train, as it wound its way up the long-untravelled road and through the disused sally-port, were perhaps not so loud as those with which the besiegers had greeted the news from Vicksburg, yet they were not less enthusiastic. From this moment the men of the two armies, and to some extent the officers, mingled freely.
Andrews was designated to receive the surrender, and from each division two of the best regiments, with one from Weitzel's brigade, were told off to occupy the place.
Punctually at seven o'clock on the morning of the 9th of July the column of occupation entered the sally-port on the Jackson road. At its head rode Andrews with his staff. Next, in the post of honor, came the stormers with Birge at their head, then the 75th New York of Weitzel's brigade, followed by the 116th New York and the 2d Louisiana of Augur's division, the 12th Maine, and the 13th Connecticut of Grover's division, the 6th Michigan and the 14th Maine of Dwight's division, and 4th Wisconsin and the 8th New Hampshire of Paine's.(3) With the column was Duryea's battery. The 38th Massachusetts was at first designated for this coveted honor, but lost it through some necessary changes due to the intended movement down the river. Weitzel, with his own brigade under Thomas, on the way to the place of embarkation, closely followed the column and witnessed the ceremonies.
These were simple and short. The Confederate troops were drawn up in line, Gardner at their head, every officer in his place. The right of the line rested on the edge of the open plain south of the railway station; the left extended toward the village. At the word "Ground arms" from their tried commander, followed by the command of execution from the bugles, every Confederate soldier bowed his head and laid his musket on the ground in token of submission, while Gardner himself tendered his sword to Andrews, who, in a few complimentary words, waived its acceptance. At the same instant the Stars and Bars, the colors of the Confederacy, were hauled down from the flagstaff, where they had so long waived defiance; a detachment of sailors from the naval batteries sprang to the halyards and rapidly ran up the flag of the United States; the guns of Duryea's battery saluted the colors; the garrison filed off as prisoners of war, and all was over.
The last echo of the salute to the colors had hardly died away when Weitzel, at the head of the First Division, now for the first time united, marched off to the left, and began embarking on board the transports to go against Taylor.
With the place were taken 6,340 prisoners of war, of whom 405 were officers and 5,935 enlisted men. The men were paroled with the exact observance of all the forms prescribed by the cartel then in form; yet the paroles were immediately declared void by the Confederate government, and the men were required to return to duty in the ranks. The officers, in accordance with the retaliatory orders of the period, had to be kept in captivity; they were, however, given the choice of their place of confinement. About 211 elected to go to Memphis, and were accordingly sent up the river a few days after the surrender, the remainder were sent to New Orleans with instructions to Emory to keep them safely under guard in some commodious house or houses, to be selected by him, and to make them as comfortable as practicable.(4) There were also captured 20 pieces of light artillery and 31 pieces of field artillery; of these 12 heavy guns and 30 light guns were in comparatively good order.
The total losses of the Corps during the siege were 45 officers and 663 men killed, 191 officers and 3,145 men wounded, 12 officers and 307 men captured or missing; in all, 4,363. Very few prisoners were taken by the Confederates, and little doubt remains that a large proportion of those set down as captured or missing in reality perished.
Of the Confederate losses no complete return was ever made. A partial return, without date, signed by the chief surgeon, shows 176 killed, 447 wounded, total 632. In this report the number of those that had died in the hospital is included among the wounded. Nor does this total include the losses at Plains Store, which, according to the surgeon's return, were 12 killed and 36 wounded, or, according to Colonel Miles's report, 8 killed, 23 wounded, 58 missing; in all, 89. Major C. M. Jackson, who acted as assistant inspector-general under Gardner, and, according to his own account, came out through the lines of investment about an hour after the surrender, reported to Johnston that the total casualties during the siege were 200 killed, between 300 and 400 wounded, and 200 died from sickness.
(1) The figures here given do not agree with those of the monthly and tri-monthly returns for May and June. These returns are, however, simply the returns for March carried forward, owing to the impossibility of collecting and collating the reports of regiments, brigades, and divisions during active operations.
(2) Colonel Provence, in his report, claims 7 prisoners, and says: "The enemy fired but once, and then at a great distance." (Official Records, vol. xxvi., part I., p. 150.)
(3) No record exists of these details, but the list here given is believed to be nearly correct.
(4) As evidence of the considerate manner in which these gentlemen were treated, see the interesting article, "Plain Living on Johnson's Island," by Lieutenant Horace Carpenter, 4th Louisiana, printed in the Century for March, 1891, page 706.
CHAPTER XIX. HARROWING LA FOURCHE.
It will be remembered that when Banks marched to Opelousas, Taylor's little army, greatly depleted by wholesale desertion and hourly wearing away by the roadside, broke into two fragments, the main body of the cavalry retiring, under Mouton, toward the Sabine, while the remainder of the troops were conducted by Taylor himself toward Alexandria and at last to Natchitoches. As soon as Kirby Smith became aware that his adversary was advancing to the Red River, he prepared to meet the menace by concentrating on Shreveport the whole available force of the Confederacy in the Trans-Mississippi from Texas to Missouri, numbering, according to his own estimate, 18,000 effectives. He accordingly called on Magruder for two brigades and drew in from the line of the Arkansas the division of John G. Walker. However, this concentration became unnecessary and was given up the instant Smith learned that Banks had crossed the Atchafalaya and the Mississippi and had sat down before Port Hudson.
While this movement was in progress, Walker was on the march toward Natchitoches or Alexandria, by varying routes, according as the plans changed to suit the news of the day. Taylor observed Banks and followed his march to Simmesport, while Mouton hung upon the rear and flank of Chickering's column, guarding the big wagon-train and the spoils of the Teche campaign.
Then Kirby Smith, not caring as yet to venture across the Atchafalaya, ordered Taylor to take Walker's division back into Northern Louisiana and try to break up Grant's campaign by interrupting his communications opposite Vicksburg; but this attempt turned out badly, for Grant had already given up his communications on the west bank of the Mississippi and restored them on the east, and Taylor's forces, after passing from Lake Catahoula by Little River into the Tensas, ascending that stream to the neighborhood of Richmond and occupying that town on the 3d of May, were roughly handled on the 7th in an ill-judged attempt to take Young's Point and Milliken's Bend. Then, leaving Walker with orders to do what damage he could along the river bank—which was not much—and, if possible, as it was not, to throw supplies of beef and corn into Vicksburg, Taylor went back to Alexandria and prepared for his campaign in La Fourche, from which Kirby Smith's superior orders had diverted him. Meanwhile nearly a month had passed and Walker, after coming down to the Red River, a week too late, was once more out of reach.
Taylor's plan was for Major, with his brigade of cavalry, to cross the Atchafalaya at Morgan's Ferry, while Taylor himself, with the main body under Mouton, should attempt the surprise and capture of Brashear: then, if successful, the whole army could be thrown into La Fourche, while in case of failure Major could easily return by the way he came.
Major left Washington on the 10th of June, marched twenty-eight miles to Morgan's Ferry, by a road then high and dry although in April Banks had found it under water, and crossing the Atchafalaya on the 14th rode along the Bayou Fordoche with the intention of striking the river at the Hermitage; but a broken bridge turned him northward round the sweep of False River toward Waterloo. Sage was at False Point with six companies of his 110th New York, a squadron of the 2d Rhode Island cavalry, and a section of Carruth's battery. As soon as he found the enemy approaching in some force he moved down the levee to the cover of the lower fleet and thus lost the chance of gaining and giving timely notice of Major's operation. Major on his part rode off by the Grosstete through Plaquemine, as already related, and so down the Mississippi to Donaldsonville, having passed on the way three garrisons without being seen by any one on board. Making a feint on Fort Butler, Major, under cover of the night, took the cut-off road and struck the Bayou La Fourche six miles below Donaldsonville; thence he rode on to Thibodeaux, entering the town at daylight on the 21st of June. At Thibodeaux Major picked up all the Union soldiers in the place to the number of about 100, mostly convalescents.
Soon after taking command in New Orleans, Emory had begun to look forward to what might happen in La Fourche, as well as to the possible consequences to New Orleans itself. The forces in the district were the 23d Connecticut, Colonel Charles E. L. Holmes, and the 176th New York, Colonel Charles C. Nott, both regiments scattered along the railroad for its protection, Company F and some odd men and recruits of the 1st Indiana, under Captain F. W. Noblett, occupying the field works at Brashear, and two companies of the 28th Maine at Fort Butler. About this time Holmes, who as the senior colonel had commanded the district since Weitzel quitted it to enter on the Teche campaign, resigned on account of ill-health. Nott and Wordin, the lieutenant-colonel of the 23d, were on the sick-list. Finding the country thus feebly occupied and the service yet more feebly performed, as early as the 7th of June, Emory had chosen a very intelligent and spirited young officer of the 47th Massachusetts, Lieutenant-Colonel Albert Stickney, placed him in command of the district, without regard to rank, and sent him over the line to Brashear to put things straight. In this work Stickney was engaged, when, at daylight on the morning of the 20th of June, he received a telegram from Emory conveying the news that the Confederates were advancing on La Fourche Crossing; so he left Major Anthony, of the 2d Rhode Island cavalry, in command at Brashear and went to the point where the danger threatened. When, on the afternoon of the 21st of June, the Confederate force drew near, Stickney found himself in command of a medley of 838 men belonging to eight different organizations—namely, 195 of the 23d Connecticut, 154 of the 176th New York, 46 of the 42d Massachusetts, 37 of the 26th Maine, 306 of the 26th Massachusetts, 50 troopers of the 1st Louisiana cavalry, 20 artillerymen, chiefly of the 1st Indiana, and one section, with 30 men, of Grow's 25th New York battery.
The levee at this point was about twelve feet high, forming a natural fortification, which Stickney took advantage of and strengthened by throwing up slight rifle-pits on his flanks. These had only been carried a few yards, and were nowhere more than two feet high, when, about seven o'clock in the evening, under cover of the darkness, Major attacked. The attack was led by Pyron's regiment, reported by Major as 206 strong, and was received and thrown off by about three quarters of Stickney's force. For this result the credit is largely due to the gallantry and good judgment of Major Morgan Morgan, Jr., of the 176th New York, and the steadiness of his men, inspired by his example. Grow's guns being separated and one of them without support, this piece was abandoned by its gunners and fell for the moment into the hands of the Confederates; the other piece, placed by Grow himself to protect the flank, poured an effective enfilade fire upon Pyron's column.
Stickney's loss was 8 killed and 41 wounded, including Lieutenant Starr, of the 23d Connecticut, whose hurt proved mortal. The Confederate loss is not reported, but Stickney says he counted 53 of their dead on the field, and afterward found nearly 60 wounded in the hospitals at Thibodeaux. The next morning, June 22d, their dead and wounded were removed under a flag of truce.(1)
While the flag was out, Cahill came up from New Orleans with the 9th Connecticut, a further detachment of the 26th Massachusetts, and the remainder of Grow's battery. This gave Stickney about 1,100 men, with four guns in position and six field-pieces. Cahill's arrival was seen by Major, who, after waiting all day in a drenching rain, began to think his condition rather critical; accordingly, at nine o'clock in the evening he set out to force his way to Brashear, where he was expecting to find Green. Riding hard, he arrived at the east bank of Bayou Boeuf late the next afternoon, and, crossing by night, at daylight on the 24th he had completely surrounded the post of Bayou Boeuf, and was just about to attack, when he saw the white flag that announced the surrender of the garrison to Mouton. Before this, Captain Julius Sanford, of the 23d Connecticut, set fire to the sugar-house filled with the baggage and clothing of the troops engaged at Port Hudson.
Meanwhile, for the surprise of Brashear, Mouton had collected thirty-seven skiffs and boats of all sorts near the mouth of the Teche, and manned them with 325 volunteers, under the lead of Major Sherod Hunter. At nightfall on the 22d of June Hunter set out, and by daylight the next morning his whole party had safely landed in the rear of the defences of Brashear, while Green, with three battalions and two batteries of his command, stood on the western bank of Berwick Bay, ostentatiously attracting the attention of the unsuspicious garrison, and three more regiments were in waiting on Gibbon's Island, ready to make use of Hunter's boats in support of his movement.
Banks meant to have broken up the great depot of military stores at Brashear, and to have removed to Algiers or New Orleans all regimental baggage and other property that had gone into store at Brashear and the Boeuf before and after the Teche campaign; such were his orders, but for some reason not easy to explain they had not been carried out. Besides the Indianians, who numbered about 30 all told, there were at Brashear four companies—D, G, I, K—of the 23d Connecticut, two companies of the 176th New York, about 150 strong, and one company, or the equivalent of a company, of the 42d Massachusetts, making in all rather less than 400 effectives; there were also about 300 convalescents, left behind by nearly thirty regiments. Notwithstanding the vast quantity of stores committed to their care, including the effects of their comrades, and in spite of all warnings, so slack and indifferent was the performance of duty on the part of the garrison of Brashear that, on the morning of the 23d of June, the reveille was sounded for them by the guns of the Valverde battery. Thus sharply aroused, without a thought of what might happen in the rear, the garrison gave its whole attention to returning, with the heavy guns, the fire of Green's field-pieces across Berwick Bay. Soon the gunboat Hollyhock backed down the bay and out of the action, and thus it was that about half-past six Hunter's men, running out of the woods toward the railway station, and making known their presence with their rifles, took the garrison completely by surprise, and, after a short and desultory fight, more than 700 officers and men gave up their swords and laid down their arms to a little less than one half of their own number. Of the men, nearly all were well enough to march to Algiers four days later, after being paroled. Worse still, they abandoned a fortified position with 11 heavy guns—24-, 30-, and 32-pounders. The Confederate loss was 3 killed and 18 wounded. Hunter says the Union troops lost 46 killed and 40 wounded, but about this there seems to be some mistake, for the proportion is unusual, and the whole loss of the 23d Connecticut in killed and wounded was but 7, of the 176th New York but 12.
Green crossed Berwick Bay as fast as he could, and pushing on found the post at Bayou Ramos abandoned. The Union troops stationed there had retired to Bayou Boeuf, and so at daylight on the 24th, without feeling or firing a single shot, the united guards of the two stations, numbering 433 officers and men, with four guns, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Duganne, of the 176th New York, promptly surrendered to the first bold summons of a handful of Green's adventurous scouts riding five miles ahead of their column. Taylor now turned over the immediate command of the force to Mouton and hastened back to Alexandria to bring down Walker, in order to secure and extend his conquests. Mouton marched at once on Donaldsonville.
When the Union forces at La Fourche Crossing found the Confederates returning in such strength, they made haste to fall back on New Orleans, and were followed as far as Boutte Station by Waller's and Pyron's battalions.
On the 27th of June, Green, with his own brigade, Major's brigade, and Semmes's battery appeared before Donaldsonville, and demanded the surrender of the garrison of Fort Butler. This was a square redoubt, placed in the northern angle between the bayou and the Mississippi, designed to command and protect the river gateway to La Fourche, mounting four guns, and originally intended for a garrison of perhaps 600 men. The parapet was high and thick, like the levee, and was surrounded by a deep ditch, the flanks on the bayou and the river being further protected by stout stockades extending from the levees to the water, at ordinary stages. The work was now held by a mixed force of 180 men, comprising two small companies of the 28th Maine—F, Captain Edward B. Neal, and G, Captain Augustine Thompson,—besides a number of convalescents of various regiments. Major Joseph D. Bullen, of the 28th, was in command, and with him at the time was Major Henry M. Porter, of the 7th Vermont, provost-marshal of the parish of Iberville, whose quarters in the town on the other side of the bayou were no longer tenable.
Farragut, who had gone down to New Orleans and hoisted his flag on the Pensacola, leaving Palmer and Alden in command of the upper and lower fleets before Port Hudson, had disposed his gunboats so as to patrol the river in sections. The Princess Royal, Lieutenant-Commander M. B. Woolsey, was near Donaldsonville; the Winona, Lieutenant-Commander A. W. Weaver, near Plaquemine; and the Kineo, Lieutenant-Commander John Watters, between Bonnet Carre and the Red Church. As soon as the Confederates appeared before Donaldsonville, Woolsey was notified, and couriers were sent up and down the river to summon the Winona and the Kineo.
Green brought to the attack six regiments and one battery, between 1,300 and 1,500 strong,(2) including three regiments of his own brigade, the 4th, 5th, and 7th Texas, and three regiments of Major's brigade—Lane's, Stone's, and Phillips's. The river, and therefore the bayou, were now low, exposing wide margins of batture, and Green's plan was, while surrounding and threatening the fort on its land faces, to gain an entrance on the water front by crossing the batture and passing around the ends of the stockades.
At ten minutes past midnight the red light of a Coston signal from the fort announced to the Navy that the enemy were coming. At twenty minutes past one the fight was opened by the Confederates with musketry. Instantly the fort replied with the fire of its guns, and of every musket that could be brought to the parapet. Five minutes later the Princess Royal, which, since nightfall, had been under way and cleared for action, began shelling the woods on the right of the fort, firing a few 9-inch and 30-pounder shells over the works and down the bayou, followed presently by 30-pounder and 20-pounder shrapnel and 9-inch grape, fired at point-blank range in the direction of the Confederate yells. The assault was made in the most determined manner. Shannon, with the 5th Texas, passed some of his men around the end of the river stockade, others climbed and helped one another over, some tried to cut it down with axes, many fired through the loopholes; Phillips made a circuit of the fort and tried the bayou stockade, while Herbert's 7th Texas attempted to cross the ditch on the land side. The fight at the stockade was desperate in the extreme; those who succeeded in surmounting or turning this barrier found an impassable obstacle in the ditch, whose existence, strange to say, they had not even suspected. Here the combatants fought hand to hand; even the sick, who had barely strength to walk from the hospital to the rampart, took part in the defence. The Texans assailed the defenders with brickbats; these the Maine men threw back upon the heads of the Texans; on both sides numbers were thus injured. Lane, who was to have supported Phillips, somehow went adrift, and Hardeman, who was to have attacked the stockade on the bayou side, was delayed by his guide, but toward daylight he came up to join in the last attack. By way of a diversion, Stone had crossed the bayou to the east bank on a bridge of sugar coolers, and his part in the fight was confined to yells.
At a quarter before four the yelling, which had gone on continuously for more than two hours, suddenly died away, the fire slackened, and three rousing cheers went up from the fort. A few minutes later the Winona came down and opened fire, and at half-past four the Kineo hove in sight. The fight was ended. "The smoke clearing away," says Woolsey, "discovered the American flag flying over the fort. Gave three cheers and came to anchor." Yet the same sun rose upon a ghastly sight—upon green slopes gray with the dead, the dying, and the maimed, and the black ditch red with their blood.
Green puts his loss at 40 killed, 114 wounded, 107 missing, in all 261. However, during the 28th, the Princess Royal and the Kineo received on board from the provost-marshal 124 prisoners, by actual count, including 1 lieutenant-colonel, 2 major, 3 captains, and 5 lieutenants; and Lieutenant-Commander Woolsey says the garrison buried 69 Confederates and were "still at it." Among the Confederates killed was Shannon, and among the missing Phillips. Of the garrison, 1 officer, Lieutenant Isaac Murch, of the 28th Maine, and 7 men were killed, 2 officers and 11 men wounded—in all 21. The Princess Royal had 1 man killed, 2 wounded. The vessel was struck in twenty places by grape-shot.
Green has been sharply criticised for the apparent recklessness with which he delivered his assault, even after having announced to Mouton his intention of waiting; yet it is clear that he was sent there to attack; if he was to attack at all, he had nothing to gain by waiting; an assault by daylight would have been wholesale suicide; while, on the other hand, the garrison would unquestionably be reinforced by troops and gunboats before another night. Having paid this tribute to his judgment, and to his daring and the intrepidity of his men the homage that every soldier feels to be his due, one may be allowed to quote without comment this passage from Green's report of the affair, in naked frankness hardly surpassed even among the writings of Signor Benvenuto Cellini:
"At daylight I sent in a flag of truce, asking permission to pick up our wounded and bury our dead, which was refused, as I expected. My object in sending the flag so early was to get away a great number of our men, who had found a little shelter near the enemy's works, and who would have been inevitably taken prisoners. I must have saved one hundred men by instructing my flag-of-truce officer, as he approached the fort, to order our troops to steal away."
Bullen's message to Emory has the true ring: "The enemy have attacked us, and we have repulsed them. I want more men; I must have more men." Emory responded with the remaining two companies of the 28th Maine, that had been left near New Orleans when the regiment moved to Port Hudson, and Banks relieved the 1st Louisiana on the lines and sent it at once to Donaldsonville, with two sections of Closson's battery under Taylor, and Stone to command. This put the place out of peril.
Even this bright spot on the dull, dark background was not to be permitted to go untarnished, for, on the 5th of July, Bullen, the hero of this heroic defence, whose name deserves to live in the memory of all that love a sturdy man, a stout heart, a steady mind, or a brave deed, was murdered by a tipsy mutineer of the relieving force. On Friday, the 14th of August, 1863, this wretched man, Francis Scott, private of Company F, 1st Louisiana, suffered the military penalty of his crime.
Taylor now gave up the attempt to capture the position at Donaldsonville, and devoted his attention to a blockade of the river by establishing his batteries at various points behind the natural fortification formed by the levee. Seven guns, under Faries, were placed on Gaudet's plantation, opposite Whitehall Point, while the guns of Semmes, Nichols, and Cornay were planted opposite College Point and at Fifty-five Mile Point, commanding Grand View reach. On the 3d of July Semmes opened fire on the Union transports, as they were approaching College Point on their way up the river. The steamer Iberville was disabled, and from this time until after the surrender no transport passed up, except under convoy, and it was only with great difficulty that even the fastest boats made their way down with the help of the current.
When this state of things was reported to Farragut, who had gone back to Port Hudson, he sent to New Orleans for his Chief of Staff, Captain Jenkins, to come up, in order that he himself might once more go down and give his personal attention to the affair. On the 7th of July the Tennessee started from New Orleans with Jenkins aboard; she had successfully run the gauntlet of the batteries, when, between eight and nine o'clock in the evening, as Faries was firing his last rounds, a solid shot struck and instantly killed Commander Abner Read. Captain Jenkins was, at the same time, wounded by a flying fragment of a broken cutlass. Of the crew two were killed and four wounded.
On the 8th the Saint Mary's, a fine seagoing steamer and one of the fastest boats in the department, was carrying Lieutenant Emerson, Acting-Assistant Adjutant-General, with important despatches from headquarters to Emory and to the Chief Quartermaster, when, about three o'clock in the morning, she drew the fire of all the Confederate guns. The Princess Royal and the Kineo convoyed her past the upper battery, but from this point she had to trust to her speed and her low freeboard. In rounding Fifty-five Mile Point she was struck five times, one conical shell and one shrapnel penetrating her side above the water-line and bursting inboard.
At half-past six on the morning of the 9th of July, Farragut, who had left Port Hudson on the Monongahela on the evening of the 7th, started from Donaldsonville with the Essex, Kineo, and Tennessee in company, ran the gauntlet of the batteries, swept and silenced them with his broadsides, and endured for nearly two hours a brisk musketry fire from the enemy without serious loss suffered or inflicted. At half-past one o'clock on the morning of the 10th of July, the gunboat New London, bearing Captain Walker, Assistant Adjutant-General, with a despatch announcing the surrender of Port Hudson, came under the fire of Faries's battery, opposite Whitehall. She was very soon disabled by a shot through her boilers, and was run ashore near the left bank, where the Tennessee and the Essex came to her assistance from below. Landing on the east bank, Captain Walker made his way afoot down the river along the levee until he came in sight of the Monongahela, when, at six o'clock in the morning, his signals being perceived, he was taken aboard in one of the ship's boats and communicated to the admiral the good news that the campaign was at an end. To dispose of Taylor could be but a matter of a few days; then once more, in the words of Lincoln, would the great river flow "unvexed to the sea."
Taylor's plans were well laid, and had been brilliantly executed. In no other way, with the force at his disposal, could he have performed a greater service for his cause. Save the severe yet not material check at Donaldsonville, he had had everything his own way: he had overrun La Fourche; his guns commanded the river; his outposts were within twenty miles of the city; he even talked of capturing New Orleans, but this, in the teeth of an alert and powerful fleet, was at best but a midsummer fancy.
In New Orleans, indeed, great was the excitement when it became known that the Confederate forces were so near. In Taylor's army were the friends, the brothers, the lovers, the husbands, even the fathers of the inhabitants. In the town were many thousands of registered enemies, and of paroled Confederate prisoners of all ranks. At one time there were no Union troops in the city, save a detachment of the 42d Massachusetts, barely two hundred and fifty strong. But the illness that had deprived Emory's division of its leader in the field had given to New Orleans a commander of a courage and firmness that now, as always, rose with the approach of danger, with whom difficulties diminished as they drew near, and whose character had earned the respect of the townspeople. These, though their hearts beat high and their pulses were tremulous with emotion, conducted themselves with a propriety and an outward calmness that reflected the highest credit upon their virtue and their good sense. Yet, when all that was possible had been done, things were at such a pass that, on the 4th of July, Emory thought it imperative to speak out. "I respectfully suggest," he wrote to Banks, "that unless Port Hudson be already taken, you can only save this city by sending me reinforcements immediately and at any cost. It is a choice between Port Hudson and New Orleans."
Banks made the choice with serenity and without a moment's hesitation determined to run the remote risk of losing New Orleans for the moment, with the destruction of Taylor's army in reserve as a consolation, rather than to insure himself against this peril at the price of instant disaster at Port Hudson, even on the very eve of victory.
"Operations here," was the reply sent from headquarters on the 5th to Emory's urgent appeal, "can last but two or three days longer at the outside, and then the whole command will be available to drive back the enemy who is now annoying our communications and threatening New Orleans." So the event proved and such was now the task to be performed.
Augur, who had been ill for some time, yet unwilling to relinquish his command, now found himself unfitted for the summer campaign that seemed in prospect. He accordingly turned over his division to Weitzel, took leave of absence on surgeon's certificate, and went North to recruit his health. Shortly afterward he was assigned to the command of the Department of Washington and did not rejoin the Nineteenth Corps.
Weitzel, as has been said, took transport on the 9th of July immediately after the formal capitulation. Getting under way toward evening, he landed at Donaldsonville early the next morning. His presence there so threatened the flank and front of Taylor's forces, as to induce an immediate withdrawal of the guns from the river and the calling in of all detachments. Morgan, with Grover's First brigade and Nims's battery, followed Weitzel about midnight on the 10th, and Grover himself, with his other two brigades, on the 11th. During the night of that day, Grover therefore found himself before Donaldsonville, holding both banks of Bayou La Fourche with two divisions. He was confronted by Green with his own brigade and Major's, together with the batteries that had lately been annoying the transports and drawing the attention of the gunboats on the river. When, on the 10th, Green saw the transports coming down the Mississippi laden with troops, it did not at once occur to him that Port Hudson was lost; he simply thought these troops were coming to attack him. Concentrating his whole force, he posted Major with four regiments and four guns on the left or east bank of the bayou, and on the right or west bank three regiments and two guns of his own brigade. Green's pickets were within two miles of Donaldsonville. As Grover developed and took more ground in his front, Green drew back toward Paincourtville.
On the morning of the 13th of July, without any intention of bringing on a battle or of hastening the enemy's movements, but merely to gain a little more elbow-room and to find new fields for forage for his animals, Grover moved out an advance guard on either side of the bayou. "The enemy is evidently making preparation," he said in his despatch of the 12th before ordering this movement, "to escape if pursued by a strong force or to resist a small one. Our gunboats can hardly be expected at Brashear City for some days, and it is evidently injudicious to press them until their retreat is cut off." Dudley, with two sections of Carruth's battery under Phelps and with Barrett's troop, marched on the right bank of the bayou, supported by Charles J. Paine's brigade with Haley's battery. Morgan, under the orders of Birge, temporarily commanding Grover's division, moved in line with Dudley on the opposite bank. They went forward slowly until, about six miles out, they found themselves upon the estate of the planter whose name is variously spelled Cox, Koch, and Kock. Here, as Dudley and Morgan showed no disposition to attack, Green took the initiative, and, favored by a narrow field, a rank growth of corn, dense thickets of willows, the deep ditches common to all sugar plantations in these lowlands, and his own superior knowledge of the country, he fell suddenly with his whole force upon the heads of Dudley's and Morgan's columns, and drove them in almost before they were aware of the presence in their front of anything more than the pickets, whom they had been seeing for two days and who had been falling back before them. Morgan handled his brigade badly, and soon got it, or suffered it to fall, into a tangle whence it could only extricate itself by retiring. This fairly exposed the flank of Dudley, who was making a good fight, but had already enough to do to take care of his front against the fierce onset of Green's Texans. The result of this bad mismanagement was that the whole command was in effect clubbed and on both banks driven back about a mile, until Paine came to its support; then Grover rode out, and, seeing what had happened, drew in his whole force.
Grover's losses in this affair, called the battle of Cox's Plantation, were 2 officers and 54 men killed, 7 officers and 210 men wounded, 3 officers and 183 men captured or missing; in all 465. To add to the reproach of this rough treatment at the hands of an inferior force, two guns were lost, one of the 1st Maine battery and one of the 6th Massachusetts, but without the least fault on the part of the artillerists.
After the close of the campaign Colonel Morgan was arraigned before a general court-martial upon charges of misbehavior before the enemy and drunkenness on duty, and, being found guilty upon both charges, was sentenced to be cashiered and utterly disqualified from holding any office of employment under the government of the United States; but Banks disapproved the proceedings, findings, and sentence on the ground that the evidence appeared to him too conflicting and unsatisfactory. "The execution of this sentence," his order continue, "is suspended until the pleasure of the President can be known." When the record with this decision reached the Judge Advocate-General of the Army at Washington, he sent it back to Banks with instructions that, as no sentence remained for the action of the President, the proceedings were at an end and Colonel Morgan must be released from arrest. This was accordingly done on the 26th of October, 1863.
Green puts his loss at 3 killed and 30 wounded, including 6 mortally wounded. The Union loss, he says, was "little less than 1,000; there were over 500 of the enemy killed and wounded, of whom 200 were left out on the field, and about 250 prisoners."
When, on the evening of the 14th of July, at Port Hudson, Banks received this news, he went at once to Donaldsonville to confer with Grover and Weitzel on the situation and the plan of campaign. It was agreed on all hands that it was inexpedient to press Taylor hard or to hasten his movements in any way until time should have been allowed for the light-draught gunboats to re-enter Berwick Bay and thus gain control of Taylor's line of retreat. In thus refraining from any attempt to avenge promptly what must be regarded as a military affront, the depleted ranks and the wearied condition of the troops were perhaps taken into account, and, moreover, it must have been considered to the last degree inadvisable to entangle the command in the dense swamps that would have to be crossed, after pushing Taylor prematurely back from the fertile and comparatively high lands that border the Bayou La Fourche. Then Banks continued on to New Orleans, where he arrived on the 18th, and renewed his pressure on the admiral for the gunboats; but, unfortunately, the gunboats were not to be had. Of those that had accompanied the army in the campaign of the Teche, only one, the feeble Hollyhock, had remained in Berwick Bay after the army descended the Red River, crossed the Atchafalaya, and moved on Port Hudson. The others, with the transports, had followed the movements of the troops and had been caught above the head of the Atchafalaya when the waters fell. Thus they had long been without repairs and not one of them was now in condition for immediate service. The water on the bar at the mouth of the Atchafalaya was now nearly at its lowest point, so that even of the light-draught gunboats only the lightest could cross. Accordingly it was not until the 22d of July that the Estrella and Clifton made their appearance in Berwick Bay and put an end to Taylor's operations.
On the afternoon of the 21st of July, knowing that the gunboats were coming, Taylor set the finishing touch to his incursion by burning the rolling-stock of the railway and running the engines into the bay. He had already destroyed the bridges as far back as Tigerville, thus rendering the road quite useless to the Union forces for the next five weeks.
On the morning of the 25th the advance of Weitzel's brigade, under Lieutenant-Colonel Peck, consisting of his own 12th Connecticut and the 13th Connecticut, commanded by Captain Comstock, arrived at Brashear by steamer from Donaldsonville, and, landing, once more took possession of the place; but in the meantime Taylor had safely withdrawn to the west bank, and gone into camp on the Teche with all of his army intact and all his materials and supplies and most of his captures safe.
(1) The history of the 23d Connecticut says: "We delivered to them 108 dead. We captured 40 prisoners."—"Connecticut in the War," p. 757.
(2) When Green says 800, he of course refers to the four regiments actually engaged in the assault; for, after losing, as he says, 261 of these 800, he makes the four regiments of Major's brigade, with two sections of Faries's battery, number 800; while his own force, with one section of Gonzales's battery, he puts at 750. 800 + 750 + 261 = 1,811.
CHAPTER XX. IN SUMMER QUARTERS.
Before Banks parted with Grover at Donaldsonville, he left orders for the troops to rest and go into "summer quarters" as soon as the pending operation should be decided. Accordingly, in the last days of July, Weitzel broke away from the discomforts of muddy, dusty, shadeless Donaldsonville, and marching down the bayou, once more took up his quarters near Napoleonville and Thibodeaux, and encamped his men at ease among the groves and orchards of the garden of La Fourche.
On the 16th of July the steamboat Imperial, from St. Louis on the 8th, rounded to at the levee at New Orleans in token that the great river was once more free. The next day she set out on her return trip.
On the 5th of August a despatch from Halleck, dated the 23d of July, was received and published in orders:
"I congratulate you and your army on the crowning success of the campaign. It was reserved for your army to strike the last blow to open the Mississippi River. The country, and especially the great West, will ever remember with gratitude their services."
Afterwards, on the 28th of January, 1864, Congress passed a joint resolution of thanks
"to Major-General Nathaniel P. Banks and the officers and soldiers under his command for the skill, courage, and endurance which compelled the surrender of Port Hudson, and thus removed the last obstruction to the free navigation of the Mississippi River."
Admiral Porter now came down the river to New Orleans in his flagship Black Hawk, and arranged to relieve Admiral Farragut from the trying duty of patrolling and protecting the river, so long borne by the vessels of his fleet. Farragut then took leave of absence and went North, leaving the West Gulf Squadron to Commodore Bell.
When Port Hudson surrendered, two of the nine-months' regiments had already served beyond their time. The 4th Massachusetts claimed its discharge on the 26th of June, the 50th four days later, insisting that their time ran from the muster-in of the last company; but, being without information from Washington on this point, Banks counted the time from the muster-in of the field and staff, and therefore wished to hold these regiments respectively eighty-one and forty-two days longer, or at all events until the receipt of instructions or the end of the siege. To this view officers and men alike objected, many of them so strongly that whole companies refused duty. They were within their lawful rights, yet, better counsels quickly prevailing, all consented to stay, and did good service to the last. Of seven other regiments the term of enlistment was on the point of expiring. They were the 21st, 22d, 24th, and 26th Maine, the 52d Massachusetts, the 26th Connecticut, and the 16th New Hampshire. These nine regiments were now detached from the divisions to which they belonged and placed under the orders of Andrews to form part of the garrison of Port Hudson until the transports should be ready to take them home by sea or river.
As soon as the river was opened, Grant responded freely to all the urgent demands made upon him for steamboats, forage, beef, telegraph operators, and so on. He sent Ransom to occupy Natchez, and about the 25th of July Herron arrived at Port Hudson with his division of two brigades, 3,605 effectives, with 18 guns. Herron's command, the victor of Pea Ridge and Prairie Grove, formerly known as the Army of the Frontier, had been called to the aid of Grant at Vicksburg. It came to the Gulf as Herron's division, but was presently, by Grant's orders, merged in the 13th Corps as its Second Division.
At the close of July, in response to Banks's urgent appeals for more troops to replace the nine-months' men, Halleck ordered Grant to send down a corps of 10,000 or 12,000 men. Accordingly, between the 10th and 26th of August, Grant sent the reorganized Thirteenth Corps to Carrollton. Ord, the proper commander of the Thirteenth Corps, took sick leave, and the corps came to Louisiana under the command of Washburn, with Benton, Herron, Lee and Lawler commanding the divisions, and Colonel Mudd the brigade of cavalry. All told, the effective strength of the corps was 778 officers and 13,934 men; total, 14,712.
Chiefly in July and August the twenty-one nine-months' regiments and in November the nine-months' men of the 176th New York went home to be mustered out. This left of the Nineteenth Corps thirty-seven regiments, having an effective strength, daily diminishing, of less than 350 men each; in all, less than 15,000. From these it was indispensable to take one full and strong regiment for Key West and the Tortugas, another for Pensacola, and a third for Forts Jackson and Saint Philip. This disposed of 2,000; 2,500 more was the least force that could be expected to do the police and guard duty of a hostile town so great and populous as New Orleans, containing the main depots of the army; thus the movable force of infantry was cut down to 8,500, or, as Banks states it, 10,000, and for any operations that should uncover New Orleans, would be but half that number.
In the reorganization of the Nineteenth Corps, thus rendered necessary, the Second division was broken up and ceased to exist, its First and Third brigades being transferred to the Third division, the temporary command of which was given to Dwight, but only for a short time. The First and Third brigades of the First division were thrown into one; Weitzel's brigade at first resumed its original name of the Reserve brigade, and a new Second brigade was provided by taking Gooding's from the Third division, so that when a fortnight later Weitzel's brigade was restored to the First division, it became the Third brigade. The Fourth division, like the Third, was reduced to two brigades. Major-General William B. Franklin, who had just come from the North under orders from Washington, was assigned to command of the First division, while Emory was to retain the Third and Grover the Fourth; but when the Thirteenth Corps began to arrive, Banks found himself in the anomalous position of commanding a military department within whose limits two army corps were to serve, one, numerically the smaller, under his own immediate orders, the other under its proper commander. The approaching completion of the organization of the Corps d'Afrique would add a third element. It was therefore found convenient on every account to name an immediate commander of the Nineteenth Corps, and for this post Franklin's rank, service, and experience plainly indicated him. The assignment was made on the 15th of August, and Franklin took command at Baton Rouge on the 20th. Then Weitzel was designated to command the First division. However, there were during the next few months, among the commanders of all grades, so many changes, due to illness or absence, that only confusion could follow the attempt to tell them all.
The artillery of the corps was redistributed to correspond with the new organization, and the cavalry was concentrated at Baton Rouge, Plaquemine, Thibodeaux, and New Orleans, with orders that all details for orderly duty and the like were to be furnished from a single battalion, the 14th New York, attached to the defences of New Orleans.
Weitzel's division, except his old brigade under Merritt, took post at Baton Rouge, where also Emory's division was encamped, successively commanded by Nickerson and McMillan, while Grover's division, assigned to the defence of New Orleans, was separated, Birge occupying La Fourche, with headquarters at Thibodeaux, and Cahill forming the garrison of New Orleans.
At Port Hudson, after the departure of the nine-months' troops, Andrews had the 6th Michigan newly converted into the 1st Michigan heavy artillery, ten troops of the 3d Massachusetts cavalry, Rawles's, Holcomb's, and Barnes's batteries; and besides these the infantry of the Corps d'Afrique, then in process of organization, including, at the end of August, the old 1st and 3d regiments and the five regiments of Ullmann's brigade—the 6th to the 10th. The return of the post for the 31st of August accounts for an effective force of 5,427; of these 1,815 belonged to the white troops and 3,612 to the colored regiments. The whole number of infantry regiments of the Corps d'Afrique, then authorized, was nineteen, of which only the first four were completed. Besides these there were two regiments of engineers, the 1st full, the 2d about half full, and three companies of heavy artillery, making the whole muster of colored troops in the department about 10,000. Towards the end of September the regiments of infantry numbered twenty, with ranks fairly filled. The Corps d'Afrique was then organized in two divisions of two brigades each, Ullmann commanding the First division and the senior colonel the Second. Rawles's battery was assigned to the First division and Holcomb's to the Second. This division, however, never became much more than a skeleton, its First brigade being from the first detached by regiments for garrison duty in the various fortifications.
Andrews at once took up the work of organization and instruction in earnest, rightly conceiving it not merely possible, but even essential, to give to the officers and men of the colored regiments, thus formed into an army corps under his command, a degree of instruction, as well in tactics as in the details of a soldier's duty, higher then was to be found in any save a few picked regiments of the volunteer and regular service. The prejudice at first entertained against the bare idea of service with colored troops had not entirely disappeared, yet it had so far lost its edge that it was now possible to select from a number of applicants for promotion, especially to the higher grades, officers who had already shown their fitness and their capacity, while holding inferior commissions or serving in the ranks of the white regiments. Thus the original source of weakness in the composition of the first three regiments was avoided, and, small politics and local influence being of course absent, and Banks's instructions being urgent to choose only the best men, the colored regiments soon had a fine corps of officers. To the work now before him Andrews brought an equipment and a training such as few officers possessed. Experience had shown him the merit, the capacity, and the defects of the American volunteer officer. At the very bottom of these defects was the looseness of his early instruction in the elements of his duty; once wrongly taught by an instructor, himself careless or ignorant, he was likely to go on conscientiously making the same mistake to the end of his term. Realizing his opportunity, Andrews set about establishing uniformity in all details of drill and duty by establishing a school of officers. These he himself taught with the greatest pains and industry, correcting the slovenly, yet encouraging the willing, until the whole corps was brought up to a uniform standard, and on the whole a high one.
Stone succeeded Andrews as Chief of Staff at department headquarters on the 25th of July.
Franklin's staff, as commander of the Nineteenth Army Corps in the field, included Major Wickham Hoffman, Assistant Adjutant-General; Colonel Edward L. Molineux, Acting Assistant Inspector-General; Lieutenant-Colonel John G. Chandler, Chief Quartermaster; Lieutenant-Colonel Henry D. Woodruff, Chief Commissary of Subsistence; Surgeon John H. Rauch, Medical Director; Captain Henry W. Closson, Chief of Artillery; Lieutenant-Colonel Joseph Bailey, Acting Chief Engineer; Captain William A. Pigman, Chief Signal Officer.
CHAPTER XXI. A FOOTHOLD IN TEXAS.
Banks now wished and proposed to move on Mobile, which he rightly supposed to be defended by about 5,000 men.(1) This had indeed been among the objects specially contemplated by his first instructions from the government, and in the progress of events had now become the next in natural order. Grant and Farragut were of the same mind; but other ideas had arisen, and now the government, anxious to avert the impending risk of European complications, deemed it of the first importance that the flag of the nation should, without delay, be restored at some point in Texas. The place and the plan were left discretionary with Banks, but peremptory orders were given him to carry out the object.(2)
Texas had no military value at that moment. To have overrun the whole State would hardly have shortened the war by a single day. The possession of Mobile, on the other hand, would, besides its direct consequences, have exercised an important if not a vital influence upon the critical operations in the central theatre of war; would have taken from the Confederates their only remaining line of railway communication between the Atlantic seaboard and the States bordering on the Mississippi; would have weakened the well-nigh fatal concentration against Rosecrans at Chickamauga and Chattanooga; would have eased the hard task of Sherman in his progress to Atlanta; and would have given him a safe line of retreat in the event of misfortune. What was it, then, that persuaded the government to put aside its designs on Mobile, to give up the offensive, to refrain from gathering the fruits of its successes on the Mississippi, in order to embark in the pursuit of objects avowedly "other than military"?
A series of acts and events, more or less menacing in character, seemed to indicate a concerted purpose on the part of some, at least, of the leading nations of Europe to interfere in the domestic affairs of the United States against the government of the United States. The powerful rams, intended for the recapture of New Orleans, that were being almost openly built to the order of the Confederacy in the port of Liverpool, in the very shipyards whence the Alabama had gone to sea, were approaching completion. Other iron-clads, not less powerful, were under construction in France, with the personal connivance of the Emperor, under the flimsy pretence that they were intended for the imperial government of China. Finally, on the 10th of June, casting all promises and pretexts to the winds, the French troops had marched into the capital of Mexico, made themselves masters of the country, vamped up a sham throne, and upon it set an Austrian puppet. That Napoleon III. nursed among his favorite dreams the vision of a Latin empire in America, built upon the ruins of Mexican liberty and taking in at least the fairest portion of the Louisiana that his illustrious uncle had parted with so cheaply, was well known. Against the inconvenient spread of his ambition the occupation of some part, of any part, of Texas, was intended as a diplomatic caution. That the warning cast its shadow even upon the dark mind of Louis Napoleon Bonaparte there can be no doubt; yet in the meantime there had occurred in quick succession three events that must have sounded in his ears with tones that even his dull imagination could not easily misunderstand. These were Gettysburg, Vicksburg, and Port Hudson. He had not the least notion of helping the unsuccessful.
The whole Confederate force under Kirby Smith in the trans-Mississippi region numbered at this time about 33,000 effective. Of these, about 4,000 were in the Indian country, 8,000 in Arkansas, less than 14,000 in Western Louisiana, and rather less than 7,000 in Texas. Of the forces in Louisiana under Taylor, about 3,000 were in the extreme northern district. Magruder, whose headquarters were at Houston, and who commanded not only the whole of Texas but nominally New Mexico and Arizona besides, was keeping rather more than two thirds of his forces for the defence of Galveston and the line of the Sabine, while the remainder were distributed on the Rio Grande, at Corpus Christi, San Antonio, and Indianola; he had not 2,000 men together anywhere, nor could even Kirby Smith have concentrated 20,000 at any single point without giving up all the rest of the vast territory confided to his care.
At the end of August Banks had nearly 37,000 officers and men for duty. Of these, about 13,000 belonged to the Thirteenth Corps and about 6,500 to that portion of the Nineteenth Corps, being the First and Third divisions, that was concentrated and ready for active service in the field. The defences of New Orleans, including La Fourche, absorbed 7,000; Port Hudson, 5,500; the rest were holding Baton Rouge, Key West, and Pensacola.
Yielding his own views as to Mobile, Banks entered heartily into the project of the government for gaining a foothold in Texas. Learning from the Navy that the mouth of the Sabine was but feebly defended, while the entrance was practicable for gunboats of light draught, he conceived the plan of descending suddenly upon the coast at that point with a force sufficient to march to Houston and take Galveston in reverse. He selected the troops, and collected the transports and the stores. When he was ready he gave the command of the expedition to Franklin, and caused Beckwith to replace Emory in command of the defences of New Orleans, to enable him to rejoin his division for service in the field.
Franklin had the brigades under Love and Merritt of Weitzel's First division, with Bainbridge's, Closson's, and Bradbury's batteries, and the two brigades, Nickerson's and McMillan's, of Emory's Third division, with Duryea's, Trull's, and Hebard's batteries. For cavalry there were the two squadrons of the 1st Texas. Commodore Bell, who then commanded the West Gulf Squadron, gave the command of the gunboats, destined to keep down the fire of the shore batteries and cover the landing of the troops, to Lieutenant Frederick Crocker, from whose personal observation while serving on the blockade the information that led to the choice of the point of attack had been largely drawn. Crocker, besides his own vessel, the Clifton, had the Sachem, Lieutenant Amos Johnson; the Arizona, Acting-Master Howard Tibbetts; the Granite City, Acting-Master C. W. Lamson. Crocker's belief was that the defences ashore and afloat consisted of two 32-pounder guns in battery, and two small steamboats converted into rams.
Franklin's orders were to proceed to Sabine Pass; there, if the Navy should be able to secure the landing, he was to debark his whole force rapidly, take up a strong position, seize Beaumont, or some other point on the railroad to Houston, and then reconnoitre the enemy to learn their position and strength. He was not to go farther into the country until reinforced. After landing, he was to turn back the transports to Brashear, where Benton's division of the Thirteenth Corps would be found waiting to join him.
After many delays, due to the state and inadequacy of the transports, which, besides ten ocean steamers, fit and unfit, included six river steamers wholly of the latter class, Weitzel sailed from New Orleans on the evening of the 4th of September. Leaving the Southwest Pass on the morning of the 5th, under convoy of the Arizona, and steering westward, he was joined, early on the following morning, off Berwick Bay, by the Clifton and the Sachem. A detachment of about 100 sharp-shooters, mainly from Companies B and G of the 75th New York, under Lieutenants Root and Cox, was then sent aboard the Clifton, and to the Sachem an officer and 25 men from the 161st New York.
About daylight on the 7th, Crocker became convinced that he had overrun his distance and gone beyond Sabine Pass; but when all the vessels had put about and for three or four hours had been steering to the eastward, he found himself off the entrance to the Calcasieu, thirty miles east of the Sabine. Then he and Weitzel agreed that, under the circumstances, the best thing to be done was to intercept the remainder of the expedition, supposed to be following, under the immediate command of Franklin, and assembling the whole force where they were to wait until the next morning, the 8th of September, for the attempt at Sabine Pass. But the arrangement had been that the attack by the gunboats to cover Weitzel's landing was to be made early on the morning of the 7th. Accordingly Franklin, with his part of the fleet, carrying the supporting force, had already passed Berwick Bay; in fact, at eleven o'clock he was off Sabine Pass; and the Suffolk, bearing the headquarters flag of the Nineteenth Corps, had crossed the bar and was about to run in, the others following, when Franklin perceived that his advance had not yet come up, and therefore stopped the movement. In the afternoon Weitzel, seeing nothing of Franklin's fleet, made up his mind that he must have gone by, and once more setting his face toward the west, joined Franklin off the Sabine about nine o'clock that evening.
After the full and open notice thus given the enemy, all thought of anything like a surprise was at an end; yet it was agreed to go on and make the attempt the next morning. Accordingly, at daylight on the 8th, Crocker, with the Clifton and the other gunboats, followed by Weitzel with the 75th New York on the transport steamer Charles Thomas, entered the harbor, and after reconnoitring the landing-place and the defences, signalled the rest of the fleet to run in. Weitzel put a picked force of five hundred men on the transport General Banks, and following in the wake of the four gun-boats, made ready to land about a thousand yards below the fort.
Shortly before four o'clock the gunboats moved to the attack. Above the swamp through which the Sabine finds an outlet to the Gulf, the shore lies low and barren. The fort or sand battery was placed at the turn about one half mile below the hamlet called Sabine City, opposite the upper end of the oyster reef that for nearly a mile divides the channel into two parts, each narrow and neither straight. The Sachem, followed by the Arizona, took the eastern or Louisiana channel, and was hardly under fire before a shot struck her steampipe and completely disabled her. The Clifton moved at full speed up the western or Texas channel until, when almost directly under the guns of the fort, she also received a shot through her boilers, grounding at the same time; and thus, nearly at the same instant, before the action had fairly begun, the two leading gunboats were completely disabled and at the mercy of the enemy. The Louisiana channel was too narrow for the Arizona to pass the Sachem or to turn about; so at the moment when the Clifton received her fatal injury, the Arizona was backing down the eastern channel to ascend the western to her assistance; but in doing this she also took the ground. The Sachem hauled down her colors and hoisted the white flag at the fore, and after bravely continuing the fight for twenty minutes longer the Clifton followed suit.
The place where the Clifton grounded was fairly in range of the beach where Weitzel was expected to land his troops. There may have been a minute, or even ten, during which it might have been possible for Weitzel, breaking away from the concerted plan, to have thrown his picked men ashore while the attention of the Confederates was fixed upon the Clifton; yet, although this criticism has been suggested by high authority, the point would have been a fine one at best; and under the actual circumstances, with the Granite City in the channel ahead, the Arizona aground, and the guns of the Sachem and the Clifton about to be added to those with which the enemy had opened the action, the problem becomes one of pure speculation. What is clear is that the landing depended upon the gunboats; that these were cruelly beaten before they had a chance to prove themselves; and that nothing really remained to do but what was actually done: that is, to give up the expedition and go home.
It is true that the orders under which Franklin was acting indicated that if he found a landing impracticable at Sabine Pass he was to attempt to land at some other place near by; and it is also true that the infantry might have been set ashore almost anywhere in the soft salt marsh that serves for the neighboring coasts of Louisiana and Texas; but this must have been without their guns and wagons and with no fresh water save what they carried with them until they should have moved successfully into the interior; while on the transports the stock of water was already running so low that the men and animals were on short allowance. Therefore, with the loss of 3 officers and 94 men captured, of the 75th New York, 6 killed, 2 drowned, and 4 wounded, and 200 mules and 200,000 rations thrown into the sea, the expedition returned to New Orleans, whence, by reason of unseaworthiness of transports, part of it had not yet started. The transports came back in a sorry plight, the Cahawba on one wheel, the river steamboat Laurel Hill without her smokestacks, and all the others of her class with their frail sides stove. The Clifton and the Sachem, whose losses are but partially reported, lost 10 killed, 9 wounded, and 39 missing. Nearly all the rest of their crews were taken prisoners.
The Confederate work, known as Fort Griffin, mounted six guns, of which two were 32-pounder smooth bores, two 24-pounder smooth bores, and two 32-pounder howitzers, manned by a single company of Cook's regiment of Texas artillery, whose strength is stated variously, though with great precision, as 40, 41, 42, and 44 men. This company was commanded by Lieutenant Richard W. Dowling, and the post by Captain Frederick H. Odlum. There was a supporting body of about 200 men, as well as the gunboat Uncle Ben, but Dowling's company was the only force actually engaged. They received, and certainly deserved, the thanks of the Confederate Congress.
Still intent on executing the instructions of the government, and having in mind Halleck's strong preference for an overland operation, Banks at once gave orders to concentrate at Brashear for a movement up the Teche as far as Lafayette, or Vermilion, and thence across the plains by Niblett's Bluff into Texas. The route by the Atchafalaya and the Red River, Halleck's favorite, was now impracticable, for both rivers were at their lowest stage, and the great length of this line put out of the question the movement of any large force dependent upon land transport.
During the last fortnight of September, Banks concentrated Weitzel's and Emory's divisions of the Nineteenth Corps, under Franklin, on the lower Teche, near Camp Bisland, supporting them with Washburn's and McGinnis's divisions of the Thirteenth Corps, under Ord. The cavalry division under A. L. Lee covered the front towards New Iberia.
Emory being forced to go North on sick-leave, his division was commanded by McMillan from the 17th of September until the 6th of October, when Grover relieved him after turning over the Fourth division to Beckwith.
Birge, with his reorganized brigade, occupied La Fourche, with headquarters at Thibodeaux.
Sharpe's brigade of Weitzel's division remained at Baton Rouge, with Gooding as the post commander.
Burbridge's division of the Thirteenth Corps remained at Carrollton, while Herron's, at the time of the Sabine Pass expedition, had been posted at Morganza to observe and prevent any fresh movement by the Confederates across the upper Atchafalaya.
This division was about 2,500 strong, and Herron, being ill, had just turned over the command to Dana, when on the 29th of September Green swept down with Speight's and Mouton's brigades and the battalions of Waller and Rountree upon the outposts on Bayou Fordoche, at Sterling's plantation, killed 16, wounded 45, and took 454 prisoners, including nearly the full strength of the 19th Iowa and 26th Indiana. Green's loss was 26 killed, 85 wounded, and 10 missing; in all, 212.
On the 3d of October Franklin broke camp at Bisland and moved by easy marches to a position near the south bank of the Bayou Carencro, meeting with no resistance beyond slight skirmishing at the crossing of the Vermilion. On the 11th the Nineteenth Corps encamped within two miles of the Carencro, its daily marches having been, on the 3d to Franklin, twelve miles; on the 4th to Sorrell's plantation, eleven miles; on the 5th to Olivier's, near New Iberia, thirteen miles; on the 8th to the Vermilion, fifteen miles; on the 9th, crossing the Vermilion, eight miles; on the 11th ten miles; in all, sixty-nine miles.
Ord with the Thirteenth Corps, meanwhile augmented by Burbridge's division from Carrollton, set out from Berwick at the same time that Franklin left Bisland, and, following at an interval of a day's march, encamped on the 10th of October on the Vermilion. On the 14th Ord closed up on Franklin at the Carencro. A week later, Ord being ill, Washburn took command of the detachment of the Thirteenth Corps, his division falling to Lawler.
Banks with his staff left New Orleans on the 7th of October. On the following afternoon he joined the forces near New Iberia, remaining near headquarters in the field until the evening of the 11th, when he returned to New Orleans. Stone stayed two days longer and then followed his chief. This left Franklin in command of all the forces in Western Louisiana, numbering about 19,500 for duty, namely, 11,000 of the Thirteenth Corps, 6,000 of the Nineteenth Corps, and 2,500 of the cavalry division. Banks's object in returning to New Orleans was to organize a second expedition for the coast of Texas. The advance to the Carencro had not only brought his army face to face with Taylor's forces, but also with the well-known conditions that would have to be met and overcome in the movement beyond the Sabine. All idea of this march of more than two hundred miles across a barren country, with no water in the summer and fall, while in the winter and spring there is plenty of water but no road, was now given up once for all. Besides the natural obstacles, there was Magruder to be reckoned with at the end of the march and Taylor in the rear.
Taylor had now about 11,000 effectives in the divisions of Mouton, Walker, and Green, with eleven batteries. To occupy him and to push him farther away, Franklin marched to Opelousas on the 21st of October, skirmishing by the way, and until the end of the month continued to occupy a position covering that town and Barre's Landing.
On the 26th of October, with a force of about 4,000 effectives of the Second division of the Thirteenth Corps under Dana, augmented by the 13th and 15th Maine, the 1st Engineers and 16th infantry of the Corps d'Afrique, and the 1st Texas cavalry, Banks embarked at New Orleans for the mouth of the Rio Grande. After long delays and great peril from bad weather, the expedition landed at Brazos Santiago between the 3d and 5th of November, and on the 6th occupied Point Isabel and Brownsville, distant thirty miles on the main land.
Having thus at last secured the foothold in Texas so urgently desired by the government, Banks, who had now entered heartily into the expansive scheme, set about occupying successively all the passes or inlets that connect the Gulf of Mexico with the land-locked lagoons or sounds of the Texas coast from the Rio Grande to the Sabine.
Accordingly, he sent for the rest of the Thirteenth Corps, and by the end of December had taken possession of the fringe of the coast as far east and north as Matagorda Bay. So far he had met with little opposition, the Confederate force in this part of Texas being small. The Brazos and Galveston were still to be gained, and here, if anywhere in Texas, a vigorous resistance was to be counted on. Banks was bending everything to the attempt when, as the new year opened, the government stopped him, and turned his head in a new direction.
During these operations on the Texas coast the 13th Maine, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Hesseltine, and the 15th Maine formed part of the Second division of the Thirteenth Corps. Both regiments did good service, especially under Ransom, in the expedition that, led by Washburn, landed on Mustang Island on the 16th of November, took the Confederate battery commanding Aransas Pass, and then, crossing to Matagorda Island, rapidly reduced Fort Esperanza, and thus gained the control of Matagorda Bay before the month was out.
(1) Banks to Halleck, July 30 and August 1, 1863: "Official Records," vol. xxvi., part I, pp. 661, 666.
(2) Halleck to Banks, July 24, 1863, July 31st, August 6th, August 10th, August 12th: "Official Records," vol. xxvi., part I, pp. 652, 664, 672, 673, 675.
CHAPTER XXII. WINTER QUARTERS.
In preparation for Washburn's departure on the 27th of October, Franklin began to draw back from Opelousas to New Iberia. Lawler led off, and was followed on the 1st of November by McGinnis, Grover, Weitzel, and the cavalry under Fonda, in the order named. Burbridge, followed by Mudd's cavalry brigade, took the Teche road, by Grand Coteau.
On the 3d, while the Nineteenth Corps rested at the Vermilion and McGinnis at the Carencro, Burbridge, who was in camp on Bayou Bourbeau, was surprised by the sudden descent of Green with two brigades. Burbridge had with him only his First brigade, about 1,200 strong, with 500 men of the 118th Illinois mounted infantry and the 14th New York cavalry, under Fonda, Rice's 17th Ohio battery, and Marland's section of Nims's battery; in all, 1,625 men. The 23d Wisconsin, 96th Ohio, 60th Indiana, and the gunners of Rice and Nims fought hard to prevent a rout and to save the wagon-trains and the cavalry; and, McGinnis coming up in good time, Green drew off, taking with him nothing save one of the Ohio 10-pounder Parrotts. At one moment both of Marland's guns, abandoned by their supports, were completely cut off by the Confederate cavalry, but Marland, rising to the occasion, bade his cannoneers draw their revolvers, and charged at a full gallop directly through the lines of Green's cavalry, to the complete astonishment of both armies, and came into battery on the right of the 46th Indiana. "The bringing off of the section of Nims's battery, commanded by Lieutenant Marland," says Washburn, "after the regiment sent to its support had surrendered, extorted the admiration of every beholder."
Marland's loss in this brilliant little affair was but two men missing. Burbridge had 25 killed, 129 wounded, and 562 captured or missing; in all, 716. Green reports his loss as 22 killed, 103 wounded, and 53 missing. Green's report shows that he had in the fight three regiments of infantry, seven of cavalry, and two sections of artillery.
With frequent skirmishing, but without serious molestation, the march was continued, and on the 17th of November, the Nineteenth Corps went into camp at New Iberia.
By the end of December the Thirteenth Corps, except Sheldon's brigade which was at Plaquemine, had been gradually transferred to the Texas coast. Thus Franklin was left to hold the line of the Teche with little more than 5,000 men of the Nineteenth Corps and about 3,500 of Lee's cavalry. This, with the winter nights and the winter roads, was too small a force to hold a position so advanced and so exposed as New Iberia, even if there had been any longer an object in doing so.
Accordingly, on the evening of the 5th of January, marching orders were issued for the following morning; but in the night a drizzling rain came on and, freezing as it fell, coated the deep, dense mud with a glaze of ice. The march was therefore put off a day, and on the morning of the 7th, through a frozen bog, a biting norther blowing, and the weather unusually cold for this region, the Nineteenth Corps floundered back to Franklin. The best of the roads were bad enough, but those across the bends, used in ordinary seasons as cut-offs, were now impassable sloughs, so the troops had to march nearly the full length of the bayou. Here a novel form of straggling was introduced through the ever industrious ingenuity of the lazy, many of whom contrived to leave the ranks, and, crossing the levee, seized canoes or made rafts, and tranquilly floated down the bayou ahead of their plodding comrades.
On the morning of the 9th of January the corps went into winter quarters at Franklin. Tents were not issued until a month later, but meanwhile the men built shelters and huts for themselves of such materials as they could find on the plantations or in the wooded swamps; and with branches of live oak and boughs of laurel and the long gray Spanish moss, they constructed for their camps a lavish ornamentation of arbors and arches, mimic forts and sham monitors.
The terms of service of the older regiments enlisted in the early days of 1861 being about to expire, the government now offered a bounty and a furlough for thirty days to all veterans who should again enlist for three years or during the war; and in carrying out this plan Banks arranged to send home in each month, beginning with February, at least two regiments of re-enlisted veterans from each corps. Of the nineteen regiments and six batteries of the Nineteenth Corps raised in 1861, every one promptly embraced these terms. In some regiments nearly every man present re-enlisted. The 7th Vermont enrolled every survivor, save 59, of the original muster; in the 13th Connecticut out of 406 present 400 signed; the 26th Massachusetts returned 546. To make up, in part, for the temporary loss to be accounted for from this cause, the government sent down four fine regiments, well commanded, the 29th Maine, the 30th Maine, the 153d New York, and the 14th New Hampshire, and, these being assigned to the Nineteenth Corps, the first three joined the First division, but the 14th New Hampshire came too late for the campaign, and was assigned to temporary duty near New Orleans. About the same time Nields's 1st Delaware battery and Storer's 7th Massachusetts battery joined the corps.