different commands, alike distinguished themselves by their valor and good conduct; but the gallant Burt did not live to receive his reward in the gratitude and admiration of his country. He fell mortally wounded while gallantly leading his regiment to the charge in the face of a terrible fire about two hours before the final bayonet charge of our entire force drove the enemy headlong from the field.
The report of General Bragg gives the full history of the abortive attempt of the enemy to destroy Fort McRee, at the entrance of Pensacola Harbor, by a combined attack from Fort Pickens and two large naval steamers, supposed to be the Niagara and the Hartford. The weight of metal used in this tremendous bombardment was such as to shake the houses in Pensacola at a distance of ten miles and to cover the waters of the bay with fish stunned by the concussion. The heroic conduct of Colonel Villepigue, with his Georgians and Mississippians, while exposed for two days tot his tempest of fire, and the coolness and self-possession of both officers and men, are graphically described in the narrative of their general, while the latter evidently forgets that any meed of praise is due to the chief whose high military qualities are thus reflected by those who have for long and weary months been so instructed by his counsels and so inspired by his example as to become the theme of his own admiration.
Our casualties during the entire engagement were 6 killed and 21 wounded. Of the former, five lost their lives by the falling of an ill-constructed magazine in one of the batteries. Among the latter was Colonel Villepigue, who, notwithstanding the pain of a very severe wound, not only persisted in retaining his command, but passed nearly the whole night in repairing the damage done to his work by the bombardment of the day. You attention in reading the account of this battle will again be arrested by the renewed example of the barbarities, disgraceful even to savages, which characterize the warfare of the enemy. The name of Colonel Harvey Brown must be remembered with execration, when it is known that without the slightest warning his opening fire was specially directed against the navy-yard, occupied, to his knowledge, by women, children, and non-combatants; and that on the evening of the second day he gave vent to his rage and mortification at the failure of his attack on Fort McRee by turning his guns first toward the hospital, over which the yellow flag was flying, and afterward upon the deserted dwellings of non-combatants in the villages of Warrington and Woolsey.
The damage done to the fort and navy-yard by this bombardment was insignificant, and two churches and some twenty humble habitations of poor laboring men and women deliberately fired and the hospital flag violated constitute the total exploits of Colonel Harvey Brown. The damage done to the enemy by the return fire of our batteries is only conjectural. One of the naval steamers was evidently disabled, as she did not aid her consort in the renewed attack on the 23d, while the fire both of the fort and of the steamers that day was much slackened, and has not since been renewed. Just as I close this paper I receive a dispatch announcing the repulse of the enemy, 5,000 strong, by our forces, 1,200 in number, under Colonel Johnson, on the Greenbrier River, and hope in a few days to present you the official report.
Your obedient servant,
J. P. BENJAMIN,
Secretary of War.