Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 03.djvu/18
Southern Historical Society Papers.
Blakely. was attacked by regular siege on the 1st of April. Steele's corps came down from the direction of Pollard, and with the divisions that had been lying before Blakely since the 26th, broke ground very cautiously against the place. The position of Blakely was better for defence thati that of Spanish Fort. The works consisted of nine lunettes connected by good rifle-pits, and covered in front by a double line of abatis, and of an advanced line of rifle-pits. The crest was about three thousand yards long. Both flanks rested on Apalachie river, on the marsh. No part of the line was exposed to enfilade fire. The garrison was the noble brigade of Missourians, Elisha Gates commanding, the survivors of more than twenty battles, and the finest troops I have ever seen; the Alabama boy-reserve brigade under General Thomas, part of Holtzelaw's brigade, Barry's Mississippi brigade, the First Mississippi light artillery armed as infantry, several light batteries with about thirty five pieces of field and siege artillery, besides Cohorn and siege mortars. The whole effective force was about 2,700 men under General St. John Liddell. The gallant General Cockrell of Missouri was next in command.
During Sunday, the day after the evacuation of Spanish Fort, the enemy was continually moving troops from below towards Blakely, and Sunday evening about five o'clock he assaulted the centre of the line with a heavy column of eleven brigades (about 22,000 men in three lines of battle) and carried the position, capturing all of the material and of the troops, except about 150 men, who escaped over the marshes and river by swimming. On the loss of Blakely I resolved to evacuate Mobile. My effective force was now reduced to less than 5,000 men, and the supply of ammunition had been nearly exhausted in the siege of the two position which the enemy had taken from me. Mobile contained nearly forty thousand non-combatants. The city and its population were entirely exposed to the fire which would be directed against its defences. With the means now left me an obstinate or protracted defence would have been impossible, while the consequences of its being stormed by a combined force of Federal and negro troops would have been shocking—my orders were to save my troops, after having made as much time as possible—therefore I decided to evacuate Mobile at once. Blakely was carried on Sunday evening at 5 o'clock; I completed the evacuation of Mobile on Wednesday morning, having dismantled the works, removed the stores best suited for troops in the field, transferred the commissary stores to the Mayor for the use of the people, and marched out with 4,500 infantry and artillery, twenty-seven light cannon, and brought off all the land and water transportation.
During the night of Tuesday I remained in the city with the rear guard of 300 Louisiana infantry, commanded by Colonel Robert Lindsey, and marched out on Wednesday morning with them at sunrise. I left General Gibson to see to the withdrawl of the cavalry pickets and the burning of the cotton. At 11 o'clock,