Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Siege and Capture of Island No. 10

The siege and capture of Island No. 10 was the most thorough strategical movement and most complete victory of the war.  After a siege of twenty-three days, during which time the enemy was constantly firing upon our boats from heavy batteries, an iron gunboat starts off and runs the gauntlet for a distance of twenty miles, a portion of the way through a narrow channel, exposed to a galling fire of musketry and cannon from either side, reaches her destination, seizes the enemy’s transports, conveys General Pope’s army across the river; they attack the enemy in the rear, repulse the, they surrender at discretion, thousands of prisoners with all their ordnance, stores and munitions of war fall into our hands, and all, so far as is known, without the loss of a single man, from the hands of the enemy.  Yes, so far as any information is afforded us by the telegraph, with the exception of a few men that perished by casualty in the beginning of the siege, not a single life was lost on the Federal side.  But had hundreds been killed, still with the important results that followed, the victory would have been more cheaply perchased [sic] than any that has attended our arms since the rebellion commenced.  Coolly, deliberately and prayerfully Com. Foote matured his plans, and the very God of Battles seemed to smile upon his efforts.

When the news was heralded over the Union that Columbus had been evacuated and the enemy permitted to entrench himself on an impregnable island in the Mississippi river, the censors of the press united in one howl over the want of military strategy exhibited in his escape.  We can now see how much better qualified for their business are military men, who have made the science of war a study, than are editors sitting in their sanctums and drawing for conclusions upon their limited knowledge of such matters.  Had our forces attacked Columbus they would of course have captured it, but not without the loss of many lives, and what would have been the result?  They would have taken comparatively few prisoners, and all those rebel troops that subsequently concentrated at Island No. 10, with their batteries, would have gone to reinforce Gen. Beauregard, and perhaps, as the contest at Pittsburg was so close, might have been instrumental in turning the tide of war in his favor.  By permitting them to rally their forces, ordnance and munitions of war at Island No. 10, they were in a net from which there was no escape, and at the same time were prohibited from reinforcing Beauregard. – their capture was but a question of time, and while Com. Foote was maturing his plans to take the birds without the loss of his own men, our other Generals were concerting with him for a general attack upon the enemy.  The hour arrived, the Carondelet started up on her mission, all things worked favorably and the result is known.  Too much credit cannot be assigned Com. Foote, who, although wounded in body and depressed in mind, from severe domestic affliction, yet abated not his zeal, but nobly prosecuted his work to its triumphant end.

– Published in The Davenport Daily Gazette, Davenport, Iowa, Saturday Morning, April 12, 1862, p. 2

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