Friday, January 27, 2017

Diary of 2nd Lieutenant John S. Morgan: Saturday, April 8, 1865

There was tremenduous heavy firing last night from 11 to 1. the sky was lighted with the flash of small arms, could not determine whether it was on the right of Smith or left of Steele, some heavy guns used. After breakfast heavy Guns & rapid firing off to our right. I go out on the left to the bay & take a look at Mobile. The Jonnies throw shells uncomfortably near me out there, returning to camp spent most of this day writing. Capt sent me a paper of the 5th full of good news & rumors of peace propositions from Lee. This afternoon news from Steele is that last night Steele charged on a water battery which the gunboats try to shell him out of & not succeeding the Jonnies charge him 3 times without success he is reported to have taken some prisoners, & later in the evening the report is in that he turned the guns of the captured battery on a ram & brought her in At 5 P. M the batteries all round the line opens on the enemy's work for one hour, the enemy replies quite briskly for a little while but cant stand it long. About 5.30 heavy musketry firing Was heard in front of Smiths Corps & by the yelling it was evident one party or the other was making a charge I was detailed for picket & reported at 7. at Regt Hd Quarters where the detail was formed under the immediate command of Lieut San Cheztereso co F. the picket firing on the right keeps us pretty heavy the Rebs throw a shell occasionally & our batteries throw shells about every 10 minutes. we report with the detail in the pits by the camp of 27th Wis. & wait ½ hour for the coming of the officer of the day whose business it is to relieve the pickets with the new detail, when he come he put part of our detail with a co of the 27th Wis as a reserve & working party. I was ordered to remain with this reserve, we divided the squad into 2 reliefs & making arrangements to work each relief 4 hours the capt lay down leaving me in charge of the 1st relief. Presently. Col Patterson & some other staff officers came through & told us to work with a will for all the saps & paralells must be widened to 6 ft. & finished before morning so that a regt could march through them easily for the works must be carried by assault within three days, the army had been waiting for the fleet to get up & word was it had cleared the channel of torpedos to opposite the fort & would move up in the morning, It is said the engineer who planted the torpedo is taking them out for the fleet. The Off. of the day thinking he needed more men sends in for a detail of two companies. Co D of 27th Wis & Co H. of 35 Iowa came out to work, they bring news that the charge on the right was by Smiths men who took one line of the enemys works & captured 200 prisoners. I rec instructions from the off of the day to work my relief 2 hours as the no of men engaged would finish the work if all worked that long. My 2 hours was up at 11, at which time I waked the capt. & lay down on a rubber blanket to sleep but it was too cold. I went to our camp to get a woolen blanket, & had returned & got into a good nap out of which I was awaked by loud & continued shouting on the right. Could not immagine what was up as the firing had entirely ceased on that part of the line. I looked at my watch which indicated 5 mins after 12, I go forward to the front rifle pits where the picket line is there listen to hear what is said but can distinguish nothing but the commands “cease firing you kill our own men. 2d Brig forward march.” then rose cheering again. The word cease firing passed all along the line. The Off of the day was present. (Capt. Gunn 28th Wis) with whom I jumped the pits and advanced somewhat, but not a jonnie could we hear where not 10 minutes before they had been shooting at us, not yet being satisfied with the looks of things no one was allowed to go to the fort until we see Smiths corps in the middle fort cheering Then Lt. Sanchez, take about a doz of his detail & advances. I did not know he had gone until he was half way over, & followed immediately entering nearly the same time. The Lt. was the first Yank, to mount the work. There was some fear of torpedos which had been reported so thickly strewn about these fortifications which made the men move very carefully for a while, it was half past twelve when we entered the fort. I found it not so strong a position as I had immagined it to be but to assault it would have been an ugly business if resolutely defended. Our shell & shot had handled the inside very rough tearing great holes. The grond nearly every foot of it, was torn up by our Mortar shells & how men could live in there during the heavy cannonading it was several times subjected too is more than I can understand, found 9. pieces of artillery in the fort all in position & spiked. 2 of the guns were splendid 64 lbers. There were bomb proofs enough to about hold the gunners required to work the guns but these were not of the strongest kind, out of one come so strong a stench I was willing to pass it others more inquistive report a no of dead men in it. 8 jonnies come in from the picket line, the Rebs had left in such a hurry they had not taken time to relieve them although they lay within 100 yds of the fort, these say they did not know the forts were to be evacuated, after examining the works to my satisfaction the 94th Ill regt having marched in & unfurled the Stars & stripes I go back to camp bearing no relic but a Reb envelope with stamp on it, on my way in meet floods of yanks going out to see the forts. I was disposed tonight to think the torpedo question on land more talk than cider

SOURCE: “Diary of John S. Morgan, Company G, 33rd Iowa Infantry,” Annals of Iowa, 3rd Series, Vol. 13, No. 8, April 1923, p. 585-7

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