Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 26.djvu/175

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page needs to be proofread.


\\'itl,'.i,n /A-///-// 'Vf/.sr U7//////y. 165

blankets and clothing in the depth of winter, without a blanket for rest, for three days, with cornmeal coffee and uncooked rations for not even a burial party could put its head out of bombproof without casualties. On the evening of the I3th, some 8,500 troops landed four miles north, in the language of their commander, as if at some exciting sport, with no one to molest them. Throwing up entrench- ments on either side, they began an approach upon the fort, which no longer possessed an armament of great guns on that face.

Telegram after telegram besought General Bragg to attack ; but his troops had been ordered sixteen miles away for an idle review, and when they were in position again, he refused to attack the two brigades of negro troops which held the land side, though urged re- repeatedly by telegraph, which was out of the enemy's control!

The fire suddenly increased to inconceivable fury about 3 P. M. of the 1 5th, and the air was hot with bursting shells. All at once there was ominous silence, and the column of the enemy, of 1,600 picked sailors and 400 marines, under the flower of the officers of the navy,

I were seen approaching the northeast redan. Whiting and Lamb rallied their gallant band upon the exposed ramparts the struggle was terrible, but with twenty-one officers killed and wounded, that column was broken to pieces, and a sight never seen in the world before, of two thousand United States Naval troops in full flight! leaving four hundred on the sands, and their commander, Breese, similating death among them, to escape capture.

But alas, two battles were going on at the same time! Haifa mile distant, at the left of the land face, Ames' division had assaulted, through the gaps in the palisades. Although, by the Federal ac- counts, three of every five who reached the works were shot down, Major Reilly's men were so outnumbered that two traverses with their gunchambers were taken.

Just as the naval attack was beaten back, General Whiting saw the Federal flags planted on those traverses. Calling on the troops to follow him, they fought hand-to-hand with clubbed muskets, and one traverse was retaken. Just as he was climbing the other, and had his hand upon the Federal flag to tear it down, General Whiting fell, receiving two wounds one very severe through the thigh.

Meantime Curtis' troops the brigades of Bell, Pennypacker and others were sent forward at intervals of fifteen minutes, swarming int< tin- entrance gained, and their engineers following upon their step-, threw up quickly such works as made it impossible for the thinned ranks of the besiegers to drive them out.