War of the Rebellion: Serial 041 Page 0293 Chapter XXXVIII. THE SABINE PASS EXPEDITION.

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Numbers 2. Report of Captain William B. Roe, Chief Signal Officer, Department of the Gulf.


February 2, 1864.

SIR: I have the honor to submit the following report of duty performed by the signal corps in the department during the Sabine Pass expedition:

September 1, 1863.- I received orders from General Banks to report with my whole force to Major General William B. Franklin, commanding Nineteenth Army Corps, for duty. On the above date i reported to General Franklin, and received orders to place officers on the following vessels: Lieutenant S. M. Eaton, with General Weitzel, on Belvidere; Lieutenant Thomas S. Seabury, with General Emory, on Crescent. Lieutenant John W. Dana was placed on board the U. S. gunboat Clifton, and Lieutenant Henry C. Dane on the U. S. gunboat Sachem. I accompanied General Franklin on the steamer Suffolk.

The expedition left New Orleans on the evening of September 4, and arrived at the mouth of Southwest Pass early the next morning. After organizing the expedition, we set sail for Sabine Pass, Tex. Arrived at our destination at 11 a. m. September 7. None of the gunboats or transports that preceded us were in sight until about 6 p. m., when the entire fleet, convoyed by the gunboats, were in view. No signal communication was held between the Suffolk and transports during the voyage out; still, the officer with Generals Weitzel and Emory rendered much valuable service during the voyage.

September 8, 3.30 p. m.- The gunboats attacked the fort at Sabine Pass. Lieutenant Dane and Dana were subjected to very severe fire to enable them to communicate with each other and also with General Franklin.

During the engagement, constant communication by signals was held between the two gunboats Sachem and Clifton, and also between General Franklin's headquarters and the gunboats. During the thickest of the engagement, the signal flags were distinctly seen transmitting orders between the fated gunboats.

At 4 p. m. the gunboats were compelled to surrender, and the 2 officers and 4 enlisted men were taken prisoners, together with the entire crews of the vessels.

Immediately upon their surrender, orders were sent by signals to the different generals to get under way and move to the mouth of the Mississippi River, and await orders.

General Franklin arrived at the mouth of the river on the morning of September 12. Orders were signaled to Generals Weitzerl and Emory to encamp their troops at Algiers, where we arrived at 11 p. m., September 11.

My station on the Suffolk kept me so busy that I found it impossible, to keep a correct copy of the messages sent and received. However, during the time over 100 official messages were sent and received.

Lieutenant Thomas S. Seabury is entitled to much credit for the faithful manner in which he performed his duty; also by staying on board the steamer Crescent, when orders abandoned her, and greatly assisting in getting her off the bar.

Lieutenant Eaton also performed his duties with great promptitude.