War of the Rebellion: Serial 036 Page 0346 Mississippi, WEST TENNESSEE, ETC. Chapter XXXVI.

Search Civil War Official Records

day after I arrived to get the number of carpenters and negroes I required, Major [E.] Surget pressing the latter force.

At 1. 30, Monday morning, I received information from Major Surget that the enemy had attacked Fort Taylor, at Gordon's Landing, in Red River, and he requested me to go down with all possible dispatch and assist the fort. I reported the Webb ready by 7 in the morning. By 9 I received a detachment of about 100 officers and men and left Alexandria. The Webb was by no means properly protected, not having had sufficient time; the boilers, about 30 feet long and 4 feet above the water line, had no protection whatever, saving the sides of the vessel, which could easily be penetrated by a Minie ball. On my arrival at Fort Taylor, I found that the Queen of the WEST had surrendered about 8 o'clock, having had one of her steam pipes cut; that the commanding officer and a number of the crew had escaped on the steamer Era Numbers 5 having first burned the steamer De Soto. I pushed on with all speed after the Era Number 5, and arrived in the Mississippi river at about 9 o'clock in the evening. The fog at that time was so dense that we could make but little or no progress; finally it became so thick that we had to tie up. The pilots did everything in their power to make progress. We made only a few miles from 9 in the evening until 9 in the morning, when we started again. Had to work along very slowly, as the fog was still very thick. On my way down the Red River I captured 9 men belonging to the Queen of the Est, one her SECOND mate. He informed me that Colonel Ellet expected a powerful iron-clad to meet him at the mouth of Red River, and that it was time for her to be along, at the same time advising me to keep a

bright lookout for her.

I received information ion the Mississippi River that another gunboat had passed Vicksburg on Friday night, 13th instant. Off Ellis' Cliffs, about 5. 15 in the evening, I saw two chimneys sticking up through the fog; supposing it to be the Era Number 5, pushed on; shortly afterward I saw another pair of chimneys; I at once concluded they must be the gunboat and Era Number 5. An officer from aloft reported three steamers in sight. A number of officers were confident they saw three. From the information received, and the steamer appearing very low in the water in the fog, I was fully convinced she was an iron-clad, as was all my officers. I supposed the steamers to be from 2 to 2 1/2 miles from us; the captain of the Webb, an old pilot, thought about 1 1/2 miles. It was impossible to tell on account of the fog. One of the vessels fired at us three times. We endeavored to reply, but our friction-primers failed. I turned around and made all possible dispatch down the river, fearful that the fog would again rise and that the steamers Louis D'Or and Grand Duke would pass me and fall into the hands of the enemy, they following me up. I succeeded in turning them and other steamers back. I arrived at Fort Taylor Monday morning, the 18th instant; made a report to General Taylor, and asked him what disposition he wished made of the Webb, stating that I had done all I could under orders from you. I informed him I should remain at Gordon's Landing, to assist the fort in case of an attack, until I learned his wishes. Immediately on receiving my communication, General Taylor sent me orders to assume command of the forces at Fort Taylor, which I did. On his arrival I turned the Webb over to him. Shortly afterward he relieved me by one of his staff officers, saying he did not feel authorized to detain me any longer than possible. I left as soon as possible for this place. Lieutenant [J. H.] Morrison rendered me great assistance. His ability and efficiency throughout contributed largely to further all my efforts, and I am greatly indebted him for the willingness and promptitude with which