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4 Series I Volume XXVI-I Serial 41 - Port Hudson Part I

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Page 4 W.FLA., S.ALA., S.MISS., LA., TEX., N.MEX. Chapter XXXVIII.

he ordered a detachment of troops to Galveston, Tex., to occupy that place, under the protection of our gunboats. Colonel [Isaac S.] Burrell, with three companies of the Forty-second Massachusetts Volunteers, the advance of the expedition, arrived at that place on the evening of the 24th of December. On consultation with the commander of the blockading force, he landed his men upon the wharf and took possession of the city.

On the 1st of January, before the arrival of the remainder of our forces, the rebels made an attack by land with artillery and infantry, and by water three powerful rams. Colonel Burrell's command of 260 men were nearly all killed and taken prisoners, the Harriet Lane captured, and the flag-ship Westfield was blown up by her commander to prevent here falling into the hands of the enemy. The rebels also captured the coal transports and a schooner. The commanders of the Harriet Lane and the Westfield and a number of other naval officers and men were killed. The remainder of the expedition did not leave New Orleans till December 31, and arrived to Galveston on the 2nd of January, the day after our forces there had been captured and destroyed by the enemy. Fortunately they did not attempt to land, and returned to New Orleans in safety. It is proper to remark that this expedition was not contemplated or provided for in General Banks' instruction.

On the 11th of January, General Weitzel, with a force of infantry and artillery, aided by the gunboats under Lieutenant-Commander Buchanan, crossed Berwick Bay, and attacked the rebel gunboat Cotton in the Bayou Teche. This gunboat, being disabled by the fire of our naval and land forces, was burned by the rebels.

The loss of General Weitzel's command in this expedition was 6 killed and 27 wounded. A number were killed and wounded on our gunboats, and among the former Lieutenant-Commander Buchanan.

On learning the capture of the Queen of the West of by the rebels above Port Hudson, and their movements in Red River and the Teche, Admiral Farragut determined to run past the enemy's batteries, while the forces at Baton Rouge made a demonstration on the land side of Port Hudson. The demonstration was made, and, March 14, Admiral Farragut succeeded in passing the batteries with the Hartford and Albatross. The Monogahela and Richmond fell back, and the Mississippi grounded, and was blown up by her commander. Had our forces invested Port Hudson at this time, it could have been easily reduced, as its garrison was weak. This would have opened communication by the Mississippi River with General Grant at Vicksburg. But the strength of the place was not then known, and General Banks resumed his operation by the Teche and Atchafalaya.

In the latter part of March, Colonel [Thomas S.] Clark was sent with a small force up to Ponchatoula, and destroyed the railroad bridge at that place. He captured a rebel officer and 4 privates, and three schooners loaded with cotton. His loss was 6 wounded. At the same time General [F. S.] Nickerson was sent to the Amite River to destroy the Jackson Railroad. He proceeded as far as Camp Moore, captured 43 prisoners, a considerable amount of cotton, and destroyed valuable rebel manufactories.

In his operations up the Teche and Atchafalaya, General Banks encountered the enemy, under Sibley, Taylor, and Mouton, at several points, and defeated them in every engagement. Butte-a-la-Rose was captured, with a garrison and two heavy guns, by the gunboats under Lieutenant Commander Cooke, of the navy. General Banks reached Alexandria on the 8th of May, the enemy retreating toward Shreveport and


Page 4 W.FLA., S.ALA., S.MISS., LA., TEX., N.MEX. Chapter XXXVIII.

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