War of the Rebellion: Serial 041 Page 0419 Chapter XXXVIII. THE RIO GRANDE EXPEDITION, ETC.

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take command of an expedition up the coast, for the purpose of capturing, this fort. On the same day, I proceeded to Saint Joseph's Island, and landed the troops and stores on board the Clinton by 12 m. On the 23d, I pushed forward same day to head of Saint Joseph's Island, 18 miles distant, having previously sent General Ransom in the advance, with instructions to bridge, if possible, the pass between Saint Joseph's and Matagorda Islands. On arriving at this pass (called Cedar Bayou), I discovered that to bridge would be impossible. With a width of nearly 300 yards, a strong current, and exposed to the terrible winds that here prevail, I saw that our only chance to get over was to ferry. Fearing that such would prove the case, I brought along on my wagons four yawl boats. By lashing together, I was able to take over my troops, wagons, and artillery. My horses and mules were swum across. On the 24th, a terrific norther sprung up, rendering it impossible to cross the pass, but on the following morning, the gale having subsided, the force commenced to cross, and by midnight were all over, and the rear went into camp, about 8 miles up the coast, at 3 a.m. On the 26th, marched over 20 miles, and encamped 10 miles from the fort, and on the 27th, at 11 a.m., came within range of the guns of the fort. Spent the rest of the day reconnoitering the position, the gunboats which were to co-operate not having come up. I soon discovered that the fort was a large and complete work, mounting heavy guns, and that all approaches were well guarded.

The country around was a level plain, and their outworks, which were of a most complete character, extended across from the Gulf to a lagoon connecting with the back bay. On the night after our arrival, a fierce norther sprung up, causing my men to suffer greatly, and rendering the prosecution of operations exceedingly disagreeable. The norther continued for two days, rendering it impossible for the gunboats to render us any assistance. I applied for launches, with which I intended to land troops on Bayucos Island and cut off their communication with the main [land] but the gale prevented their being furnished until too late.

The force within the fort was from 700 to 800, all of whom escaped under cover of night, excepting 6 belonging to their rear guard. The rebels left 1 man on the ground killed. If they had any wounded, they took them away. We lost 1 killed and 2 wounded. Lieutenant Fifer, a gallant young officer of the Thirty-third Illinois, was severely wounded in the breast. For a description of the fort, and the captures therein, I refer to the report of Captain Baker, engineer. We also captured a small fort on Bayucos Island, with one 24-pounder field gun. I cannot express in too strong language my admiration of the conduct of the officers and men engaged in this expedition. We left the foot of Saint Joseph's Island without transportation of any kind, except twelve wagons, which were used for transporting supplies. With this small train I had to supply 2,800 men, together with the animals belonging to the train, and horses for two batteries, nearly 60 miles from my base of supply.

The weather much of the time was very inclement, water very bad, and fuel scarce, but I never heard a complaint or murmur of any kind. The troops accompanying me were as follows, viz: Eighth Indiana Infantry, commanded by Major Kenny; Eighteenth Indiana, Lieutenant-Colonel Charles; Thirty-third Illinois, Colonel C. E. Lippincott; Ninety-ninth Illinois, Colonel Bailey; Seventh Michigan Battery, Lieutenant Stillman, composing First Brigade; Twenty-third Iowa, Colonel Glasgow, of the Second Brigade, First Division, Thirteenth Army Corps, all commanded by Colonel H. D. Washburn; and the Thirty-fourth Iowa,