Monday, December 21, 2009

Bombardment of Fort Pillow

OFF FT. PILLOW, April 19. – Enemy’s gunboats have laid behind Crag Head point for two or three nights past, fearing an attempt on our part to run the blockade. Firing upon both sides on Thursday was very heavy, mortars opened at noon, four being in operation. The enemy replied immediately and briskly from the land batteries, throwing shell clear over us and nearly across the river to the Tennessee shore, their firing was very accurate and from very heavy guns. The St. Louis, Carondolet [sic], and Cairo, stationed as picket ships near the extremity of the point were obliged to move up the river several times to get out of range. A skiff attached to a mortar raft was hit by a shell and dashed to pieces.

The shells flew thick and fast all about the gunboats, but none were hit. Thursday night the mortars commenced firing at 8 o’clock, the enemy replying immediately, and the fire was kept up until midnight. A rebel shell exploded directly above the stern awnings of the St. Louis, slightly injuring one man in the wrist; another shell struck the broadside casemate of the Cairo, but did no damage. The firing ceased at midnight. Yesterday but little was done except a few shots fired by the mortars in the morning. In the afternoon the mortars were shifted from the Arkansas to the Tennessee shore for greater protection; in their past locality they have been in great danger from bands of rebels scouting and prowling through the woods, these scouts have already cut the levee in two or three places to embarrass the operations of the mortars.

Desertions are very rapidly made both from the rebel gunboats and from their batteries. – They say that nearly all the crews of the gunboats have been impressed, and so great is the fear of the officers lest they desert that they frequently muster them every hour in the day. The batteries now muster about 40 guns very heavy. They have 60 more guns which they are rapidly putting in position.

Within the past few days Bragg has arrived and succeeds Gen. Villthige [sic], hitherto in command.

There are about 6,000 troops there. Both troops and guns are from Pensacola. There are but four gunboats in the river – the Malipa, [Macrov], Ponchartrain [sic] and Livingston, mounting a total of twenty four guns.

The Ivey has gone to New Orleans with Hollins on board. The Gen. Polk is at Memphis repairing. Capt. [Sug c] is Acting Commodore in Hollins’s absence.

An independent company at Memphis has five boats below Pillow intended to grapple into our fleet and take it down to Dixie.

There are four rams at New Orleans – among them the Manassas.

Com. Foote suffers severely from his wound received at Donelson.

– Published in The Burlington Weekly Hawk-Eye, Burlington, Iowa, Saturday, April 26, 1862, p. 4

No comments: