Numbers 76. Report of Colonel James L. Geddes, Eighth Iowa Infantry, commanding Third Brigade, of operations April 8-9.
HDQRS. THIRD Brigadier, THIRD DIV., 16TH ARMY CORPS,
Spanish Fort, Ala., April 9, 1865.
SIR: I have the honor to report that, in accordance with verbal instructions received from Brigadier-General Carr, about 6 o'clock on the evening of the 8th instant I ordered the Eighth Iowa Infantry, Lieutenant Colonel W. B. Bell commanding, to occupy my right gabion approach, and at the same time to deploy about two companies as skirmishers, with directions to feel the enemy's left flank. Previous to this movement I ordered the One hundred and eighth Illinois, Colonel Turner commanding, and the One hundred and twenty-fourth Illinois, Brevet Colonel Howe commanding, to man the rifle-pits on their front and open a continuous fire on the enemy, obliquing the fire to their left as the skirmishers of the Eighth Iowa advanced along the left of the rebel works. These instructions were carried out admirably. I also placed the Eighty-first Illinois, Lieutenant-Colonel Rogers commanding, in supporting distance of the Eighth Iowa. Perceiving that my skirmishers were advancing rapidly along the enemy's works from the left to their right, and that the enemy's fire was mostly directly to his front, apparently unconscious of the danger threatening his flank, I immediately ordered the remaining portion of the Eighth Iowa to advance in support of the skirmishers. This order was promptly and nobly executed; the men, leaping over the gabion approach, rushed through intervening obstructions and were on the enemy's works in a moment. About this time over 200 prisoners were captured and hurried to the rear. Being convinced that the enemy was taken by surprise, I ordered the Eighty-first Illinois, Lieutenant-Colonel Rogers, up to support the Eighth Iowa, and finally the One hundred and eighth and One hundred and twenty-fourth Illinois, thus lodging my entire brigade on the rebel works. As the enemy appeared to be firing along their line of works not yet taken, and the heavy fire from our own left precluded my advance for the time being, with the concurrence of the commanding general I commenced entrenching, running the line of defense from the enemy's work and at right angles with it, thus enfilanding his entire northern defenses. After remaining in this position for some time and placing two guns captured from the enemy in position, I advanced a line of skirmishers, from whom I received the information that the enemy were evacuating their position and retreating in disgraceful haste to their landing on the bay. I immediately ordered an advance, and sweeping with my command their northern front for about half a mile captured a number of cannon and a large amount of small-arms, ammunition, &c. I was ordered by the commanding general to proceed to the landing. On reaching that place we found that the remaining force of the enemy had retreated across the bay, having abandoned all their guns. After ascertaining this, about 3 a.m. 9th instant I returned with my command to quarters. I cannot conclude this report without mentioning the heroic conduct of Lieutenant Henry Vineyard, of the Eighth Iowa Infantry, while leading the skirmish line on the rebel works, and who nobly and conspicuously stood on the rebel work encouraging his men as they advanced, until he was severely, if not mortally, wounded. Lieutenant Colonel W. B. Bell, Eighth Iowa Infantry, was throughout the advance cool, deliberate, and prompt, and deserves much credit for the manner in which he handled