Today in History:

60 Series I Volume VI- Serial 6 - Fort Pulaski - New Orleans


Regiment, until 8 o'clock this morning, when I placed them under charge of Major Leckey, with instructions to remain till ordered forward, and detain all teams and carriages, as well as all spectators, at that point till I gave orders for them to be permitted to advance.

At 8.30 o'clock I joined Lieutenant-Colonel Armstrong, and selected a point of observation at the fort, where with a strong glass I could observe the operations of the enemy in front and on either side along-shore. At that hour the enemy could be seen in force in and about the fort and for some time, and the number, to the rear I computed at four times that number, but there was evidently a force of cavalry secreted in the forest still farther to the rear, as I could observe mounted men in considerable numbers passing the interstices of the woods. At that time the enemy seemed unconscious of any attack impending, for my own force in front was effectually concealed, save the ordinary sentinels of the Seventy-ninth, which were posted as usual, and there was no evidence of any approach visible from the fort.

At 9 o'clock one of the enemy's pickets came hastily in from the eastward, and immediately the forces in and about the fort fell into line, and the artillerists manned the guns, and gave them a direction to command the approach by water from the east. At 9.30 heavy firing on the west announced that the gunboats Seneca and Ellen were approaching from Broad River and shelling the batteries as they advanced. This seemed to disturb the occupants of the fort a good deal, and they changed the range of their guns to command the approach by water from that direction. In a few minutes (say twenty) the firing to the east announced the approach of the gunboats Pembina, Ottawa, and Hale, and a look in that direction revealed those boats, or at least two of them-the Ottawa and Pembina-covering the landing of troops in small boats from a transport lying at anchor about 4 or 5 miles to the east of the very. At 10 to 10.30 o'clock the firing on the west was very heavy, and as the boats approached nearer and nearer and the shells began to explode in the woods along the shore and far back towards the interior the enemy's infantry began to leave the trenches, and seek an open field to the east and rearward of the fort, where they lay down in the deep furrows amongst the weeds.

At this stage of affairs I ordered Lieutenant Marshall, commanding Company K, of the Seventy-ninth New York Regiment (who was for the time being with his command attached to my command), to send an orderly to the position occupied by one of his pickets alongshore east ward, to communicate, if possible, the position of the enemy's infantry to the commanding officer of the nearest gunboat. In about half an hour the Hale steamed up and fired several shells with great precision into the field, and the enemy ran off in all directions inland, and I saw no more of them. Seeing the works apparently deserted, and fearing the low tide might beach the flat-boats, I sent some men into them, with instructions to place them well afloat at low tide. On seeing this some 20 or 30 artillerists in the fort ran out a field piece so as to command the boats, and, not wishing to precipitate matters or draw their fire unnecessarily, I recalled the men, and at this juncture the officer in command of the Pembina arrived, and reported to me that you were on the farther shore, with the troops accompanying you, as indeed I had observed for some time; and, further, that the gunboats would run up shortly and shell out the fort. I now instructed Coxswain Connor, who had been assigned to me by Captain Fuller, to hold a party of watermen, 6 in number, from Company M, in readiness to put the boats into