War of the Rebellion: Serial 009 Page 0484 OPERATIONS IN TEX., N. MEX., AND ARIZ. Chapter XXI.

Search Civil War Official Records

character to cross me on the island. I intended to take command o Neal's companies. The shelling form the ship ceased, when I succeeded in getting a boat. On approaching the land I discovered a house on fire (Mr. Clubb's residence), and saw the sailors of the enemy on the island, and on closing up on the land they went into Mercer's house and set it on fire. Then I was fully convinced that Captain Neal had vacated the island and that it was occupied by Lincoln. I turned back disgusted with the spirit of our men in that section, and immediately sent a letter to Neal's camp, 10 miles on the main-land, demanding 50 volunteers. I had taken up a position out of sight of the ship with my cavalry detachment and watched the movements of the enemy.

Thursday, 13th, about 2 a. m., 22 men and 3 lieutenants reported to me. This small number was inadequate to carry out my plan of capturing the crew, and therefore kept them secreted on San Joseph's Island, hoping the enemy would land. I had caused this detachment to be divided into two parties, one commanded by Lieutenant Conklin, stationed in Mercer's store, at the head of his wharf; the other by Lieutenant Canfield, at the town. I drew off the cavalry from picket and secreted them in the town. All kept quiet.

About 1 o'clock three boats of the enemy started down towards the Pass with the intention to land at some point. I immediately disposed of my force to engage them when they should land. They came inside the Pass and continued to advance up Aransas Bay toward the town. When within 1,000 yards of my position the ship opened fire on us with shell. They were thrown with remarkable precision at a distance of 3 1\2 miles and bursted over our heads. I saw that I could not use my men mounted, and order the detachment to dismount, sent the horses to the rear; but the ship continued firing, the shells bursting in our midst. Some of the horses and 2 of the men were struck, but not wounded.

I saw no change of engaging the boats from under the ship's fire; the horses became unmanageable, and i ordered my men to fall back and take shelter close to the town; and the lieutenant and 10 men, of Neal's command, I had secreted in the house that was bombarded by the enemy, to retreat toward the sand hills and concentrate close to the town, where I waited for the approach of the enemy in his boats. I expected he would land his force, and I could get a chance to engage him from under his ship's fire. I expected he would fire the store and dwelling of Mr. Mercer, but he passed it he passed it and advanced toward my little force.

I was informed by the citizens that Captain Neal fell back in the presence of the enemy's force, numbering only 28 men, and I expected this captain would follow up his former successes. He came within rifle range and 3 men landed; the other two boats stood off. Immediately one of the three advanced with a white flag. Some of the citizens were at a short distance in the rear. I ordered one of them to ascertain what he wanted. I still hoped to draw him from under the fire of the ship. The person bearing the white flag stated that there were prisoners on board the ship, and wished to communicate with some persons on shore. The bearer of the white flag request the citizens (Mr. Mercer and Captain Wells) to see the captain of the ship, who was on shore and near his boats. He (captain) asked who commanded, and they said I commanded. He asked if I would respect a white flag; he wished to see and speak with me, and one of the citizens, Captain Wells, came to me and delivered the message. I advanced toward him within 50 yards