Lest We Forget - African American Military History by Researcher, 
					Author and Veteran Bennie McRae, Jr.

HEADQUARTERS U

HEADQUARTERS U. S. FORCES EAST OF MOBILE BAY,

Blakely, Ala., April 17, 1865. 

COLONEL: I have the honor to continue my report of operations from the time that the forces under my command commenced to invest Blakely:

The place was inclosed by a line of works about two miles in extent, composed of redoubts constructed of earth and timber, with ditches in front, which redoubts were connected by continuous rifle-pits, with salients and stockade work, making a continuous line from the enemy's left, on Tensas River, to his right, which rested on an impassable swamp and thicket. The two principal avenues of approach were known as the Stockton and the Pensacola roads. The former entered the works to the left of the center, and the latter to the right of the center. The redoubts commanded the ground in their front, and had an enfilading fire on portions of the roads and a cross-fire on almost every point of them within the range of their guns. Three marshy ravines, entering the works at different points, were obstructed by fallen timber and traversed by stockades which connected with the rifle-pits on either side. The forts were mounted with both light and heavy guns, and Coehorn mortars were distributed along the faces. There were two continuous lines of abatis around the works, and at some points three. Outside of these were rifle-pits for sharpshooters. Our engineers pronounced these works strong. The timber was slashed in front of the works for about 1,000 yards, and the character of the ground such as to require the construction of approaches. In reply to my application for orders Major-General Osterhaus, chief of staff of the general commanding, visited me in person and directed me to hold my position, and informed me that re-enforcements would be ordered up to complete the investment. Brigadier-General Comstock, chief engineer of the lieutenant-general, having reconnoitered the enemy's works the same evening, gave me the benefit of his advice. Hawkins' division, on our right, occupied from the Tensas River to near the Stockton road, and Andrews' division extended from Hawkins' left to near the Pensacola road. Before day next morning (3d instant) Brigadier-General  Veatch, of the Thirteenth Corps, reported with his division and was placed in position on Andrews' left. On the same evening Brigadier-General Garrard, commanding Second Division, Sixteenth Corps, reported and went into position on the left of Veatch to complete the investment. The enemy's gun-boats, Huntsville, Nashville, and Morgan, took position in Tensas River opposite Hawkins' right, and, with occasional intervals, kept up a constant fire night and day, which was very harassing and destructive, especially to Hawkins' division, which, together with the determined fire kept up from the redoubts and advanced rifle-pits, rendered it very difficult for us to continue our approaches. The enemy was enabled to continue his artillery fire for several days and nights with impunity, as we had no heavy ordnance to reply. Our troops, however, continued making their approaches and skirmishing with the enemy night and day. Sites for batteries were selected by Captains Burnham and Newton, engineers, and on the evening of the 8th instant an excellent work constructed with gabions by the colored troops on the right of our line was ready for the reception of four 30-pounder Parrotts. These guns were put in position by Captain Wimmer, First Indiana Heavy Artillery, and manned by his company. They soon drove the gun-boats away, seriously damaging the Morgan, and were then turned upon the redoubts and the steam boat landing at Blakely. Light guns had been put in position along the line, which were doing good execution. Mack's six-gun battery of 20-pounders came into position on the Pensacola road on the 9th instant, and did good service, dismounting one of the enemy's heavy guns. Another battery of heavy guns was established on our extreme left. Spanish Fort surrendered on the night of the 8th instant, and, having consulted with the major-general commanding, next day orders were given to advance our skirmish line, well supported, to feel of the enemy and if possible to carry his works. At 5.30 p.m. the 9th instant was the time fixed for this movement to commence. Soon after the appointed time our skirmishers advanced in gallant style, followed by their supports, and all passing over the obstructions of slashed timber, abatis, and telegraph wire under a heavy fire of musketry and artillery, and in spite of exploding torpedoes, carried the enemy's works by assault in about twenty minutes. Each division carried everything in its front, and all are alike deserving for the unflinching bravery which they manifested on this occasion and for the magnificent results. About 3,200 prisoners, 40 pieces of artillery, a large amount of ordnance and subsistence stores, &c., fell into our hands. Generals Liddell, Cockrell, and Thomas were among the prisoners captured. I forward herewith reports of subordinate commanders, which give an account of the operations in detail. There are so many instances of personal gallantry and merit among the officers of the command that it is difficult to particularize. I wish, however, to call the attention of the general commanding especially to the division commanders, Brig. Gens. J.P. Hawkins, C. C. Andrews, J. C. Veatch, and K. Garrard; also brigade commanders, Brig. Gens. Dennis, W. A. Pile, C. L. Harris (Eleventh Wisconsin), F. W. Moore, C. W. Drew, and W. T. Spicely. To my own staff, not mentioned in another report, I am indebted for the most efficient and valuable services, viz, Lieut. Col. L. H. Whittlesey, assistant inspector-general; Bvt. Maj. C. S. McEntee, assistant quartermaster; Surg. P. A. Willis, medical director; Capt. J. F. Lacey, assistant adjutant-general; Capt. L. Rhoades, commissary of subsistence; Capt. A. H. Burnham, engineer (temporarily assigned); Capt. E. H. Newton, engineer; First Lieut. J. Lyman, aide-de-camp; Second Lieut. R. A. Kent, aide-de-camp. The officers of the signal corps attached to my headquarters deserve special mention for their zeal and industry; they were always at their post, night and day, and did valuable service outside of their appropriate duties, viz: First Lieut. W. F. Warren, Signal Corps, U.S. Army; First Lieut. R. P. Strong, Signal Corps, U. S. Army; First Lieut. J. C. Kinney, acting. Signal Corps, U.S. Army; Second Lieut. E. P. Adams, Signal Corps, U.S. Army.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

 F. STEELE,

 Major-General, Commanding.

 Lieut. Col. C. T. CHRISTENSEN,

Asst. Adjt. Gen., Military Division of West Mississippi.


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SOURCE: United States War Department. THE WAR OF THE REBELLION: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1880-1901.

 

 


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Category: Civil War | Subcategory: Reports | Tags: Mississippi , Washington , Wisconsin
Related Topics / Keywords / Phrases: 1865, 1880, 1901, Adam, Andrews, Assistant Adjutant-General, Blake, First Indian Regiment, Indian, Indiana, Military Division of West Mississippi, Mississippi, Mobile, Pensacola (Florida), Stockton, The War of the Rebellion (Book), United States War Department, War Department, Warren, Wisconsin,