War of the Rebellion: Serial 036 Page 0390 Mississippi, WEST TENNESSEE, ETC. Chapter XXXVI.

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The Navy having accomplished nothing, on account of long range, another 30-pounder Parrott was added on the night of the 13th, and on the night of the 15th an 8-inch ship howitzer was put in position.

These guns were not used with any hope of seriously injuring the enemy, since the battery could not be placed so as to enfilade the enemy's work, nor close enough to give any reasonable ground for hope of dismounting his guns by direct fire.

From the inclosed sketch* you will perceive that the position of Fort Pemberton was unassailable by infantry, and therefore could only be taken by a vigorous and determined naval attack. This was not made, the closest the gunboats ever went not being less than 800 yards.

The site of the fort was but very little above water, and therefore it occurred to me that by cutting the Mississippi levee, near Austin, about 18 miles above Helena, a large volume of water might be induced to take the line of the Coldwater and Tallahatchee and flood the country near both streams. The levee was cut by General Prentiss, but not sufficiently to produce the desired effect; had it been destroyed for 2 miles, at the point indicated, I have little doubt that 2 feet of a rise would have reached Greenwood. The enemy could not have withstood more than 12 inches.

During our presence in the vicinity of Fort Greenwood, the rebels mounted one 8-inch columbiad. The armament is given in the sketch.

I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


First Lieutenant Engineers, Lieutenant-Colonel, &c.

Brigadier General JOSEPH G. TOTTEN,

Chief Engineer, U. S. Army.


Near Vicksburg, MISS., June 18, 1863.

GENERAL: The report of Brigadier General L. F. Ross, commanding the Yazoo expedition, having failed to reach you, I have the honor to make the following statement, for your information:

On the 23rd day of February, 1863, the Yazoo Pass was opened for navigation. On the 24th, the expedition left Moon Lake, and on the 10th day of March arrived at or near Fort Pemberton. The distance traversed was about 225 miles. The difficulties of navigation, as described in my letters to you, were great, and some of the transports were old and unseaworthy, yet all of these things are insufficient to account for all of the delay. Such other causes as may have existed should be known, and out of justice to both branches of the public service involved in the expedition I deem it my duty to state them.

To the timidity, over cautiousness, and lack of interest displayed by Lieutenant Commander Watson Smith, commanding the gunboats, and the delays growing out of them is attributable the failure of the entire expedition. Lieutenant-Commander Smith was frequently urged by General Ross, myself, and Captains Walker and Foster, of the Navy, to move with more rapidity, or, at least, allow the iron-clads, and rams to proceed with all practicable dispatch to the mouth of the Tallahatchee. I have no hesitation in saying that, had these suggestions been followed, the entire expedition could have reached Fort Pemberton from three to five days sooner than it did, and that the iron-clads, the only ones depended


* See p. 389.