Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Diary of 2nd Lieutenant George G. Smith: April 14, 1864

Meanwhile Commodore Porter was in the river quite a number of miles above Pleasant Hill where the battle was fought with more than half of the United States Navy. General Banks got a dispatch through to him, stating that “he was defeated and on the retreat”. This of course compelled Porter to retreat: as the absence of the army uncovered the river banks and let loose the whole rebel army upon him, West of the Mississippi river. That led him a lively dance all the way down until they arrived at Grand Ecore. He states in his report that the rebel General Green in command “had his head shot off” in a raid on the gun boats and the management of the rebel army fell into the hands of “drunken Dick Taylor who was entirely incompetent to conduct it”. Green deserved all he got, for in speaking of this incident J. T. Headly says in “Farragut and his Naval Commanders”, that the rebels had made their attack in the most difficult part of the river where four or five of our vessels were fast in the mud and others along side of them trying to pull them off. The advance consisted of 3000 men commanded by General Green, their best general. He soon found that his men could not stand our fire: but he determined not to retreat, and forced his troops up to the edge of the banks where our gunboats fairly mowed them down. He finally got his head shot off, and nearly all his officers having been killed around him, the rest retreated in disorder, cut up as they fled.

This was the victorious army that had defeated Banks the day before, and flushed with victory, had pounced on Porter. On this day I was detailed to take charge of a fatigue party to unload our affects off the Shinango. At twelve o'clock noon, we crossed the river and took our position in line in the piney woods at the breast works.

SOURCE: Abstracted from George G. Smith, Leaves from a Soldier's Diary, p. 97-9

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