MARCH 31, 1863. - Engagement at Grand Gulf, MISS.
Report of Brigadier General John S. Bowen, C. S. Army.
HDQRS. 1ST BRIGADE, 2nd DIVISION, ARMY OF Mississippi,
Grand Gulf, MISS., April 1, 1863.
MAJOR: I have the honor to report that the enemy's boats, three in number, passed down the river yesterday evening at 8. 15. There having been reports of their approach during the day, everything had been held in readiness, the men at their guns and a regiment in the trenches Night coming on, a detail was left at the guns (enough to manage them) and the infantry bivouacked in position. Owing to the negligence of the signal corps stationed over the river at Hard Times, and who should have been able to give timely notice, no warning was given during the afternoon, and at night no rocket was sent up to apprise us of their approach. They were perceived by the sentinel at the upper battery as they rounded the point and immediately opened upon. About twenty shots were fired from the heavy guns, twenty-one from the field pieces, and twenty-one from the Parrotts of Wade's battery. The vessels were struck repeatedly. Seven heavy shells were seen to take effect, one raking the Hartford from stem to stern. The firing from the field batteries was excellent, the shrapnel bursting over the decks; but I have no means of discovering what damage was inflicted on the ships,* but the steam ram which passed the Vicksburg batteries was struck once amidships, swung round broadside to the current, and floated down thus, firing a lee gun, which could only have been a signal of distress.
All the vessels lay about 10 miles below during the night and passed on down this morning.
I regret to report than one of the 20-pounder Parrott guns burst at the fourth fire, killing 2, mortally wounding 1, and wounding 7, besides some scratches. I append a list. #. I entered the battery just as the gun exploded, and it affords me pleasure to bear testimony to the gallant conduct of the men there. Though many were knocked down, besides the wounded, only an imperceptible pause in the firing was occasioned, the men sprung up and to the other guns so quickly. The lieutenant of the burst gun replaced Numbers 1. of the next piece, who was killed, and it would not have been possible for the enemy to have discovered the accident from any slackening of the fire.
The firing from the upper battery (Captain [J. B.] Grayson's) was excellent. The lower battery, where the accident occurred, was manned by Wade's and Guibor's companies of light artillery.
I inclose a report on the circumstances attending and the causes of the bursting of the gun.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JNO. S. BOWEN,
Major R. W. MEMMINGER,
* Rear-Admiral Farragut, U. S. Navy, reported that the Albatross was not struck; that the Hartford was struck once, killing 1 man and that the Switzerland was struck twice, but received no damage.
# Nominal list, omitted, reports 2 men killed and 1 officer (Captain Henry Guibor) and 1 man wounded, of Guibor's battery; 1 officer (Lieutenant John Kearney) and 5 men wounded, of Wade's Battery.