War of the Rebellion: Serial 021 Page 0182 W.FLA., S.FLA., S.MISS., LA., TEX., N.MEX. Chapter XXVII.

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No. 2. Report of Lieutenant George E. Conklin, C. S. Army, Post Adjutant at 1 Lavaca.


Lavaca, Tex., November 1, 1862.

SIR: By ordered of Major. Daniel D. Shea, commanding this post, I have the honor to make, for the information of the general commanding this district, the following report of an engagement between the Federal steamers and the batteries at this point:

On the morning of October 31 two Federal steamers appeared in sight, evidently steering for this place. About 11 a.m. they arrived within a short distance, when they cast anchor. At 1 p.m. they sent a boat with a flag of truce on shore, which was met by Major shea, accompanied by four of the citizens of the town. A short interview succeeded, during which a demand was made for the surrender of the town. They were answered by the commanding officer that he was there to defend it, and should do so to the best of ability with all the means he had at hand. A demand was then made for time to remove the women, children, and sick persons from town. The officer in charge of the flag replied that one hour was the time he was authorized to grant, but in consideration of the fact that an epidemic (yellow fever) was still raging in the town he would extend the time to one hour and a half; at the expiration of which period they moved up abreast the town and opened fire from both steamers upon both the town and batteries. At this time there were many women and children still in the place, they having been unable, for want of time, to leave. Our batteries promptly returned the fire. Captain [John A.] Vernon commanded one of the batteries, assisted by Lieutenant [T. D.] Woodward, and Captain [J. M.] Reuss, assisted by Lieutenants [O. L.] Schaunbert and [G.] French, the other, and nobly did both officers and men perform their duty, working their guns as coolly as though on inspection, while a perfect storm of shot and shell rained around them; and this, although yellow fever had decimated their ranks, and that many of the men who manned the batteries had but partially recovered from the fever, entitles them to the highest praise. The steamers were struck several times and one of them partially disabled, as they immediately steamed off out of range of our batteries, where they again cast anchor and kept up a steady fire from the town and batteries until night shut in.

On the next morning, November 1, they again opened fire upon the town and batteries, but owing to their being entirely out of range of our guns we did not reply to them. At about 11 a.m. they ceased their fire and steamed down the bay in the direction of Indianola, having in tow the schooner Lecompt, which they had captured in the bay a few days before. One of the steamers went outside the bar and steered in the direction of Galveston, probably for a mortar-boat or some other additional force to assist them.

I am glad to report that no lives were lost on our side, but the enemy succeeded in doing considerable damage to the town, tearing up the streets and riddling the houses and otherwise damaging the place. The enemy fired in all 252 shot and shell, 174 the first day and 78 the second, nearly all of them from 32 and 64 pounder rifled guns.

Captain H. Willke, acting ordnance officer, rendered very efficient service in keeping the batteries supplied with ammunition and freely exposing himself in the discharge of his duties.