Thursday, January 26, 2017

Diary of 2nd Lieutenant George G. Smith: August 5, 1864

Relieved Eighteenth Indiana, went home on the Iberville. Lieutenant Kerney and myself crossed the river early in the morning. Found Captain Felton sick. Took command of the company. The regiment had changed front and got new tents. Next day had regimental inspection and some company property condemned. Two or three days after I was relieved from guarding the telegraph station across the river, a rebel gunboat came down the Mississippi, and hitching the telegraph wires just above the station to the stern of their boat pulled them off the poles for quite a long distance below. The commander at the station sent a dispatch to a gunboat over at the Fort undergoing some repairs, but they had no coal on board. A coal barge was in the river loaded with coal, so the commander moved down alongside and coaled up affirming with oaths that he would catch that boat before she reached the Gulf of Mexico or sink his own. It was in the night time when the rebel boat went down. She passed the Essex laying near Baton Rouge, our fort (Butler) with eight guns and a gunboat, two forts between us and New Orleans and two or three iron clads at the latter city and never got fired on once. After they passed New Orleans they saw a heavy Ironclad coming up the river with a transport lashed alongside. This showed them that the game was up, and they run her ashore, blew her up, and the crew escaped into the woods The gunboat from Donaldsonville made good time, but when it came up with the prize, it was almost consumed to the water's edge.

SOURCE: Abstracted from George G. Smith, Leaves from a Soldier's Diary, p. 128-9

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