Friday, March 2, 2012

February 1 - Tennessee Civil War Notes

1, Confederate troop movements in West Tennessee; an entry from the diary of Captain Alfred Tyler Fielder, 12th Tennessee Infantry

Saturday March 1st found me abord [sic] the Cars in good health but quite sleepy having been up so much of late[.] Consequently I saw but little until we passed Trenton about sunrise arrived at Humbolt [sic] about 8 oclk. Cars stoped [sic] about half an hour we not knowing the place of destination thought it might be Humbolt [sic] but no the whistle sounded and off we moved arriving at Jackson between 10 & 11 oclk. and soon learned we would stop here for awhile[.] We sauntered about until near sun set waiting for orders to unload[.] finally [sic] we received the orders and at it we went and after nearly wearing myself out we succeeded in getting a ten up and our things in it[,] eat something and lay down to rest about 10 oclk. The three boys sent with me being on the sick list &c.…I had more to do than any man ought to do in the time it was done - for the last two or three days my mind has much run out in prayer for myself and family and my country and after laying down though fatigued and wearied my mind were much upon home my family and all my earthly possessions being between me and Lincolns [sic] army[.] I pray God it may not long be the case, but that the time may be near at hand when the soil of Tennessee shall not be poluted [sic] by the tread of an enemy of the Southern cause.

Ann York Franklin, ed., The Civil War Diaries of Capt. Alfred Tyler Fielder, 12th Tennessee Regiment Infantry, Company B, 1861-1865.



March 1, 1862, Engagement at Pittsburg Landing

The victor in this conflict cannot be determined, a characteristic of many confrontations in the war. On this day at Pittsburg Landing two U.S. Navy wooden gunboats, traveling up the Tennessee, attacked a Confederate field battery sent there by General Pierre Gustav Toutant Beauregard. 

MARCH 1, 1862.--Engagement at Pittsburg, Tenn.

No. 1.--Report of Brig. Gen. George W. Cullum, U. S. Army.

No. 2.--Congratulatory order of Brig. Gen. Daniel Ruggles, C. S. Army.

No. 1.

Report of Brig. Gen. George W. Cullum, U. S. Army.

CAIRO, ILL., March 3, 1862.

Am quite sick, but at office. Made demonstration yesterday afternoon. Too foggy to see much. Will try it again to-morrow in force. Saturday gunboats Tyler and Lexington attacked rebel battery of six guns, supported by two regiments of infantry and one of cavalry, at Pittsburg River. Under cover of the grape and shell of gunboats, some sailors, and two companies of Illinois sharpshooters landed and destroyed house where battery had been placed. The enemy being re-enforced, our men returned to gunboats. Loss, 2 killed, 3 missing, and 6 wounded. Enemy's much greater.

G. W. CULLUM, Brig.-Gen.

No. 2.

Congratulatory order of Brig. Gen. Daniel Ruggles, C. S. Army.


* * * * 

II. The brigadier-general commanding the First Corps of the Second Grand Division of the Army of the Mississippi Valley has been requested by Gen. G. T. Beauregard, commanding the forces, to express to Col. [A.] Mouton, and his Eighteenth Regt. Louisiana Volunteers, his "thanks for their brilliant success on their first encounter with the enemy at Pittsburg, Tenn., on the 28th ultimo [1st instant?], and the hope that it is only the forerunner of still more gallant deeds on the part of the regiment." To this testimonial the brigadier-general commanding adds his grateful acknowledgments to Col. Mouton and his regiment for zeal and gallantry in the performance of a signal service.

* * * * 

By command of Brig.-Gen. Ruggles:

OR, Ser. I, Vol. 7. p. 435.

The following account was printed in the Natchitoches Union, Natchitoches, LA, April 3, 1862, and was written by a war correspondent who witnessed the fight, who signed himself "NATIONAL REBEL:"

* * * * 

On March 1 two of the enemy's gunboats were in sight; at about 1 o'clock p.m. our artillery (Miles') opened fire, but before our regiment could form a line of battle the artillery had ceased firing and was running shamefully.
As soon as our line was formed our Colonel marched us away from camp into a ravine; being too much exposed there we were moved to another one where we remained until the enemies landed. Then the fire commenced on both sides, but it was not long before the Federals took to their heels for their gunboats. Had it not been for a misunderstanding we would have taken most of them prisoners; we took only four prisoners and killed one on shore, but there were a great many of them killed in the boats.

It is stated that their loss is from seventy to eighty killed. Our loss is seven killed and nine wounded....

* * * * 

The engagement lasted three hours, during which time the shells fell thick and fast around us.

* * * * 

The same night of the fight our regiment fell back two miles; our company was left in camps to guard the baggage. The next morning about 8 o'clock, the gunboats reappeared and commenced shelling again, but they did not venture to land -- they kept on the Tennessee River. No one was hurt the second day. I assure you there was no fun in the fight, especially where they are throwing shells and you have no chance to shoot.

SOR, Ser. I, Vol. 1, pp. 524-525.

Another account, also published in the Natchitoches Union for March 27, 1862, was written in French. Translated it reads:

It is in consideration of these facts, and of numerous and high sympathies which result, that we doubly take pleasure to return to the skirmish which has taken place in Hardin County, Tennessee, between this regiment and two Yankee gunboats. The conduct of this Corps, which faced firing for the first time, has been from everywhere the subject of praises as flattering as were well merited.

Colonel [Alfred] Mouton appeared on the field of battle accompanied by a daring which would have done honor to a veteran. All the reports of particulars, the unofficial letters, etc., that we have read, or of which the tenor has been communicated to us, agree in saying that during all the duration of the action Lieutenant-Colonel [Alfred] Roman remained in the midst of the fire, exposed to dangers and encouraging his soldiers. The emulation, however, appears to have electrified all the regiment, and officers and men fought with courageous energy and devotion.; the officers, especially Major [Louis] Bush, with them [depict] the honor, glory, and perils of the field of battle.

The importance of the result acquired by consequence of this engagement, the bravery of the troops, [and] the intrepid coolness of the officers attracted the attention of General [Pierre Gustave T.] Beauregard and of it one communicates to us the substance of a letter of Lieutenant [Andrew P.] Watt to his father, in which this fact is confirmed. We learn also from a certain source that General Beauregard had written a letter of congratulations to Colonel Mouton by which he complimented warmly the officers and soldiers of the Eighteenth [Louisiana Infantry].

The attack of the gunboats, in attracting the attention of General Beauregard has revealed to him the importance of the point at which the Eighteenth was stationed and there were immediately sent reinforcements composed of the Fourth Louisiana and an Arkansas regiment to which has joined an excellent battery from Alabama, thus forming a brigade....
We are not able to resist the desire to mention here the fine conduct of Lieutenant [John T.] Lavery who, wounded in the leg at the beginning of the action and [unable to stand] without support, leaned against a tree and thus stationed did not cease to use his weapon during all the duration of the engagement.

The other numerous deeds of devotion, bravery or energy have marked this first skirmish of the Eighteenth. We end in [citing] two:

The first is that of a drummer named [Eugene] Rosas who, in the thick of the fight, climbed up on the trunk of a cut tree and from this improvised pedestal, from which he overlooked the troops and helped to spoil the aim of th enemy's balls, did not cease to beat the charge with an energy which electrified the soldiers
The other fact is mentioned in a particular letter. It is that of a servant belonging to one of the captains and who, seizing a rifle on the filed of battle, fought like a true soldier at the side of his master, while the other servants, like the prey of a wild terror, cowardly went to hid....

SOR, Ser. I, Vol. 1, pp 526-527.

Report of Lieutenant Gwin, commanding U. S. S. Tyler.

U. S. GUNBOAT TYLER,Savannah, Tenn., March 1, 1862.

SIR: Having learned that the rebels had occupied and were fortifying a place called Pittsburg, nine miles above, on the right bank of the river (the best point in the river for that purpose), I determined to attack them.

At 12 m. the Tyler, followed by the Lexington, Lieutenant Commanding Shirk, proceeded up the river. When within 1,200 yards of Pittsburg we were opened upon by the rebel batteries, consisting, as well as we could determine, of six or eight fieldpieces, some rifled.

Getting within 1,000 yards, the Tyler and Lexington opened a well-directed fire, and we had the satisfaction of silencing their batteries. We then proceeded abreast of the place and., under the cover of grape and canister, landed two armed boats from each vessel containing, besides their crews, a portion of Company C, Captain Thaddeus Phillips, and Company K, First Lieutenant John J. Rider, of the Thirty-second Regiment Illinois Volunteers (sharpshooters), Second Master Jason Goudy, commanding the boats of the Tyler, and Second Master Martin Dunn, commanding the boats of the Lexington. The landing was successfully accomplished, and this small force actually drove back the rebels and held them in check until they accomplished their difficult object, which was to discover their real strength and purpose, and to destroy a house in close proximity to the place where the batteries had been placed.
I found in addition to their artillery they had a force of not less than two regiments of infantry and a regiment of cavalry.

In conclusion, I have to state that the result was entirely satisfactory. Their batteries were silenced in a short time; the landing was effected; the house destroyed; and we discovered from their breastworks that they were preparing to fortify strongly this point.

Too much praise can not be given to Lieutenant Commanding Shirk for the efficient manner in which his vessel was handled.

My thanks are due to Captain Phillips, Lieutenant Rider, and their men for the gallant manner in which, in the face of the enemy, they charged up the hill, drove back, and held in check, the rebels until the boats' crews had effected the destruction of the house designated.

The officers and men of this vessel behaved with the greatest spirit and enthusiasm. Much praise is due to First Master Edward Shaw and Third Master James Martin for the efficient manner in which the batteries were worked.
I would particularly call your attention to the gallant conduct of Second Master Jason Goudy, in charge of the boats on shore, who succeeded in destroying the house under such heavy fire, and Gunner Herman Peters, in charge of the howitzer, who displayed the greatest coolness and courage, although exposed to the whole fire of the enemy, all but one of his men having been wounded.

My thanks are also due to Pilots Hiner and Sebastian for their coolness under such a tremendous fire of musketry, our vessel being perfectly riddled with balls.

My aid, Acting Paymaster William B. Coleman, rendered me valuable assistance during the action.

I have sent Lieutenant Commanding Shirk to Cairo with the transport Izetta, loaded with the balance of the wheat I left at Clifton. I shall remain about here, paying Pittsburg a daily visit, which I hope will prevent the rebels from accomplishing their object. Captain Shirk will lay before you the importance of keeping open this, as well as all other points above here.

I have learned from reliable authority that the rebels have some 4,000 troops in Florence, five or six thousand in and about Eastport and I. U. Ka. [Iuka] (near Bear Creek Bridge), and that they are fortifying in that vicinity. You will see, therefore, the necessity of my remaining here.

We expended 95 shell, 30 stand of grape, 10 of canister, and 67 rounds of shrapnel, grape, etc., from howitzer.

Enclosed is Acting Assistant Surgeon T. H. Kearney's report of casualties, to whom I am indebted for his unremitting attention to the wounded.

I feel confident that we inflicted a severe loss on the enemy, as several bodies were seen on the ground and many seen to fall.

I also enclose Lieutenant Commanding Shirk's report.
Hoping that my course will meet your approbation, I have the honor to be,

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

WM. GWIN,Lieut., Comdg. Division of Gunboats, Tennessee River. 

Flag-Officer A. H. FOOTE, U. S. Navy,Commanding Naval Forces on Western Waters.

NOR, Ser. I, Vol. pp. 643-645.

Chicago Post Narrative

Cairo, Monday, March 3 [1862]

The discovery of a new rebel battery on the Tennessee River, mentioned by telegraph, was made in this wise. Hearing that the rebels were planting a new battery somewhere near Savannah, the wooden gunboats Tyler and Lexington were ordered to make a reconnaissance up the river and shell them out. The boats left Fort Henry Friday morning, and proceeded slowly, examining the shores carefully as they went along. They were accompanied by the transport Izetta, with two companies of the Thirty-second Illinois regiment. They passed Savannah about ten o'clock Saturday morning, having as yet discovered no signs of the expected battery. But now the transport was ordered to keep well in the river, as at any moment a shell or round shot might announce the unpleasant proximity of the object they were in quest of.
Eight miles above Savannah we came to a little town called Pittsburgh, a miserable-looking little hamlet, as they nearly all are in this region. There is an island here in the river, called Diamond Island, and just as we came out of the channel at its head, bang! [sic] went a rebel cannon, and a twenty-four pound shot came plunging toward us from the rebel battery situated less than half a mile in our advance. It was followed by two other shots from smaller guns, before our big guns responded. We steamed right on toward them, and opened at about six hundred yards, with shell. Their battery consisted of one twenty-four-pounder rifled gun and three twelve-pound howitzers. The twenty-four-pounder fired only six shots, when it was silenced, either by our fire or from some other cause. The three smaller guns blazed away for about twenty minutes, when they also ceased firing, not a single one of their shots from the beginning having touched either of our boats. Our gunboats kept up their fire for half an hour longer, shelling the woods in all directions.

When the firing commenced, a small body of rebel infantry was also discovered, who undertook to put in practice the plan which some Memphis newspaper editors proposed, namely, to conceal themselves on the bank and pick off the pilots of our gunboats. They soon found they might as well attempt t swallow an oyster without opening the shell. A few discharges of grape sent them helter-skelter over the brow of the hill.

After the woods had been shelled pretty thoroughly, and nothing more been seen or heard of the enemy, about forty soldiers and marines, under command of a lieutenant, were sent ashore to reconnoiter the neighborhood. They proceeded up the long slope of the hill to the distance of a thousand yards or more from the landing, when they suddenly found themselves face to face with two or three regiments of rebel infantry, who immediately shot at them. Our men returned the compliment, and immediately retired to the shelter of a log house, some five hundred yards from the shore, where they made a stand, and peppered away at the rebels as vigorously s if they expeted to drive the rebel ten or fifteen hundred.

The gunboats hesitated to reopen on the rebels, lest they should kill some of our own men, but waited in the momentary expectation that they would return to the boats. They did not do so, however, until the lieutenant commanding, (whose name I cannot learn) discovered that the rebels were flanking him on both sides, for the purpose of making prisoners of this little command. He then ordered a retreat, and the gallant forty made the best time they could to the boats, when they reached, with the loss of three men killed and seven or eight wounded. The rebels pursued hotly, and getting behind threes, fired both at our men in the boats and at the gunboats, perforating the latter with a good many musket-balls, but injuring no one except the officer in command of the boat-howitzer on the upper-deck, one of whose legs was shattered by a Minie-ball, rendering amputation necessary.

The gunboats reopened their batteries with grape, which caused the rebels to retreat with most undignified rapidity over the hill again. Seeing and hearing no more of them, the gunboats moved down the stream a short distance, and lay at anchor. Having none but fifteen-second fuse shells,, the gunboats were unable to do the execution at short range which they could have done with shorter fire. Accordingly the Lexington was despatched [sic] to Cairo for a supply of the desired ammunition, while the Tyler remained to look after the new rebel battery. The place where it was found is a sort of natural fortification, the hill furnishing a hollow just over the first ridge, in which the rebel infantry took shelter from our fire. In this particular it resembles Fort Donelson.

Rebellion Record, Vol. 4, pp. 221-222.


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