Colonel Cobb, Forty-THIRD Wisconsin Volunteers, commanding post Johnsonville, states:
I was ordered by Colonel Thompson to remain in the fort with my regiment. On the 4th I was where I could see the enemy and their battery during the entire engagement. I do not think there was the most remote necessity of burning either the transports or gun- boats, as the enemy had made no demonstration to cross whatever, nor could they have crossed any captured them under our fire. I supposed for some time that the gun-boats and transports had been sent on fire by the enemy's shells, until I was informed by Williams, acting master's mate, who commanded one of the gun-boats, to the contrary. Williams came into the fort with some of his crew, apparently very much frightened; stated to me that Lieutenant King, commanding, had burned his boat, the Key West, and that he (Williams) had fired his himself. I looked somewhat astonished at this assertion, and he commenced justifying himself for doing so. I should have put him under arrest immediately, but he stated he was looking for Colonel Thompson, my superior officer. There were over 100 explosions of shells upon the boats after they had been fired. There was only one of the boats disabled, to my knowledge, at the time they were fired. I heard Captain Howland say that he paid a Mr. Case $25 for setting fire to the transports. I had 1 of my men killed and 1 mortally wounded. I believe there were but 3 wounded during the entire fight. There was no effort made to save the stores, to my knowledge. The Government employes were all stampeded. My orders from Colonel Thompson were to keep my men in intrenchments.
I would respectfully state that Colonel Cobb has seen three years' service in the Army of the Potomac as colonel of the Fifth Wisconsin Regiment, and from what I can learn has been repeatedly under fire, and is a gallant and brave officer, and is, in my judgment, the most competent to make a true report of the affair at Johnsonville. In my judgment, with the forces that were at Johnsonville, there could have been 200 men used as sharpshooters, with the corn sacks for a defense, which could have driven the enemy from their battery opposite, rendering it useless, and have saved the stores and transports.
S. J. McCONNELL,
Captain, Seventy-first Ohio Vol. Infty., A. A. I. G., Dist. of Tenn.
Major B. H. POLK,
Assistant Adjutant-General, District of Tennessee.
Numbers 5. Report of Acting Volunteer Lieutenant Edward M. King, U. S. Navy.
JOHNSONVILLE, November 4, 1864-4 p. m.
At daylight this morning the Undine came up through the chute at Reynoldsburg Island loaded with rebels, who fired her and left. At 8 a. m. the Paw Paw and three other gun-boats came in sight. I went down with Elfin and Tawah and engaged a battery of 20-pounder parrotts above Reynoldsburg Island, WEST side; it was too much for us. The Key WEST received ten shells through upper works, seven through berth deck, and two through hull. Guns disabled on my vessel and Elfin. Shell of Tawah, received from Nashville, mostly too large. 9. 45 a. m., we returned here. At 2 p. m. enemy's batteries opened on us opposite this place, above and below. The three boats and forts were engaged. In shipping cable it got foul of stern-wheel and the anchor was weighed, then Tawah took us in tow and we moved to bank opposite upper battery. Both batteries now opened on us. After firing away mostly all our ammunition I gave orders to get ready to fire the boats. Tawah's starboard-bow Parrott disabled by enemy's shell. My boat's wheel disabled and cases bent. Seeing it was impossible to hold out