Numbers 5. Reports of Lieutenant Colonel Edward Higgins, C. S. Army, of the bombardment and capture of Forts Jackson and Saint Philip.
HDQRS. FORTS JACKSON AND SAINT PHILIP, LA., April 27, 1862.
SIR: I have the honor to report that no Friday, the 18th instant, the naval force of the United States, which has been for some weeks in the river making preparations for an attack on these forts, commenced the bombardment of Fort Jackson. Fire from their mortar fleet was opened at 9 a. m.
The force employed by the enemy against us consisted of twenty-one mortar vessels and a fleet of about twenty-one steam vessels of war, carrying more than 200 guns of the heaviest caliber.
The mortar vessels, when they opened fire, were all concealed from our view save six, which took position in sight of the forts and within our longest range. These we soon forced to retire. They joined the rest of their fleet behind the point of woods, and, concealed from sight, renewed their fire.
Orders had been issued to the officers and men of my command to retire to the casemates of the fort the moment the bombardment commenced. The order being obeyed, nothing was left for us to do but receive the furious storm of shell which was hailed upon us. Our citadel was soon destroyed by fire. All buildings around and in connection with the fort shared the same fate.
From Friday morning until the following Thursday we sustained this terrible battering. Several times during the bombardment the enemy's gunboats attempted to pass up the river under cover of their mortar fire, and on each occasion our batteries were promptly manned and the enemy's advance gallantly repelled.
At 3.30 a. m. on Thursday it was observed that the mortar fire was increased to an intensity of fury which had not been previously reached. At the same moment a movement was observed in the steam fleet below. Our batteries were instantly in readiness and were at once engaged in a most terrific conflict with the enemy's fleet of fourteen steamships, which, dashing by the fort in the darkness of the night, pouring in their broadsides of shot, shell, grape, canister, and shrapnel, succeeded in getting beyond our range and in our rear.
During the forenoon a demand was made by Commander Porter, commanding the mortar fleet, for a surrender of the forts. This proposition was promptly refused, and the bombardment was again commenced and continued until 4 p. m., when all firing ceased.
I inclose you the reports of company and battery commanders,* also the surgeon's report of killed and wounded.+
I fully indorse the encomiums of the company commanders upon the officers under their command, and feel myself in duty bound to record my high admiration of the coolness, courage, skill, and fortitude of all the officers of both forts.
Captain J. B. Anderson, Company E, Louisiana Artillery, was wounded early in the conflict, while most heroically fighting his guns. Notwithstanding his severe wound, he rendered the most gallant and efficient service to the last.
Captain W. B. Robertson, who commanded a detached work called the
+Tabulated on p. 550.