War of the Rebellion: Serial 041 Page 0425 Chapter XXXVIII. THE RIO GRANDE EXPEDITION, ETC.

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Numbers 6. Report of Major John Bruce, Nineteenth Iowa Infantry, Second Brigade, of the occupation of Brownsville, &c.


December 1, 1863.

GENERAL; I have the honor to submit to you an account of the part taken by my regiment in the expedition against Texas, which was under command of Major-General Banks and started from New Orleans on the 24th October, 1863.

On the 23d, my regiment embarked on the steamer General Banks. The entire fleet consisted of sixteen vessels and three gunboats, all loaded with troops, provisions, and munitions of war.

On the 27th, the fleet sailed through the Southwest Pass, and came to anchor outside the bar. Went to sea on the 29th. On the 30th, we encountered a severe storm from the north. Our ship being overloaded, as well as old and frail, labored and strained alarmingly. The sea striking very heavily under the guards and fan-tail, threatened to tear off the latter, rendering it necessary, in order to save life, to lighten the ship. This was at once done by heaving overboard 11 mules, one battery wagon, forage, &c., after which she rode easier, but her leakage constantly increased, requiring the unremitting working of the pumps.

On the 31st October, our fuel was nearly exhausted, and we were taken in tow by the Empire City.

On the 1st day of November, we came in sight of land, and at 6 p.m. came to anchor off the bar at the island of Brazos.

On the 2nd November, we were the first of the fleet to cross the bar, and about noon effected a landing. The Nineteenth Regiment was the first command landed, and its colors the first that floated on the breeze of that desolate island. I was at once ordered out; moved 6 miles to the front, and held the advance for three days, until a large part of the force was landed and came up.

On the 6th of November, our orders were to move forward, and, after two days' march up the Rio Grande, crossing the battle-fields of Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma, we entered Brownsville, Tex., on the 7th without opposition.

The enemy had a small force, which evacuated the place on our approach. Previously, however, they fired the barracks of Fort Brown and many private buildings, which were smoldering ruins when we took possession of the town. We captured a large amount of cotton, and stopped a large trade going on between Mexico and the so-called Confederate States.

Colonel William McE. Dye, of the Twentieth Iowa, commanding our brigade (Second Brigade, Second Division, Thirteenth Army Corps), was made commander of the post, and his brigade went into barracks in the town, where we still remain.

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Major, Commanding Nineteenth Iowa Infantry.


Adjutant-General of Iowa.