Sun Jan 29 1865|
LT Peter Hays, SOPA York River, writes CMDR Joseph Lanman, 2nd Division, North Atlantic Blockading Squadron, "Your letter of 29th instant is at hand, requesting information in regard to the vessels under my supervision and progress I am making in my duties and number of vessels I am protecting.
I respectfully inform you that there are in the river the Crusader, the Mystic, the Seymour, and the tug Glance. The Crusader lays off this place and protects the fleet of oyster vessels which lay here waiting for their turn to go up on the Plants for their loads. The Mystic lays just above Gloucester Point, and is used as a guard vessel, preventing small boats, schooners, etc., from passing either up or down without proper authority. She can not carry steam half the time, and can be used for no other purpose. The Seymour is on or near the Plants, protecting the vessels there while loading, seeing they do not go above the limits prescribed by the Navy, and requiring them to come down to Sandy Point every night. The tug Glance is used as a picket boat and to supply the vessels here with their mails and provisions from Fortress Monroe and the provisions and stores from the Norfolk navy yard.
We are affording protection to a fleet of from 50 to 75 vessels. They are coming and going all the time, but there are never less than 50 or 60 here. The Plants are some 18 miles up the river. This vessel and the Mystic, while performing the duties mentioned, protect Yorktown."
RADM Jonathan Dahlgren, South Atlantic Blockading Squadron, writes MGEN W T Sherman, USA "I was very glad to hear by your note of the 27th, just received, that everything was going so much to your satisfaction. I wish I could say so for myself, but first the Patapsco would be blown up by a torpedo, and now the Dai Ching gets foul of a battery, gets aground, can't get off, and is destroyed. One thing was right; she was defended for seven hours and abandoned to the flames only when her pivot gun was disabled by a shot. All the officers and men brought off, but four captured in a boat by pickets, so the rebels did not gain much. A contraband from Charleston says they have drawn off nearly all the troops from about the city toward Branchville, where they look for "Mr. Sherman." I had no gunboat to replace the Dai Ching in the Combahee, and sent the Pawnee from the Ashepoo to North Edisto, because I understood General Foster was sending a detachment there for a diversion. The Sonoma was there already. Very sorry, general, that I can not do any more for you, but the consolation is that you do not need it. The cipher is all right, and its chief merit seems to me that when once written it may be inscrutable to everybody." he add in post script "When you get to Richmond I wish to be there, for I have yet to bury my boy."
Master J C Wells, USS Midnight writes RADM S K Stribling, East Gulf Blockading Squadron, from St Andrews Bay, FL "I have the honor to enclose you the following report of an expedition sent from this ship in command of Acting Master Charles H. Cadieu, accompanied by Acting Assistant Surgeon E. W. Avery, Acting Ensign W. H. Grubb, Acting Master's Mate J. R. Mitchell, with the launch, howitzer, and second cutter, containing 30 armed men. The object of the expedition was to capture the steamer that runs from Columbus, Ga., to Ricoes [Rickoe's] Bluff, with supplies for the Confederate Army. The details of the expedition I state here- under as given to me by Acting Master Charles H. Cadieu. They are as follows:
On the 16th instant, in obedience to your orders, at 2 p. m. I left the ship with the expedition, taking young man Parker (refugee) as pilot. I proceeded up St. Andrew's Bay, and at 10:30 p. m. landed at Barge Bluff, situated on Wetappo Creek, 1 mile from the head of East Bay. Here we encamped for the night, and at daylight on the following morning proceeded up the Wetappo. At 8 a. m. we arrived at the lagoon, where I concealed the launch. Transferring the howitzer and ammunition to the second cutter, I sent it up the creek to what is known as the old salt house. I proceeded by land with the balance of the party, and reached the salt house at noon on the 17th instant. Here I was joined by three deserters, who met me by a previous appointment. Having sent a party to guard the old telegraph road, which the rebel cavalry were said to patrol, I started in company with one of the deserters, by the name of Tate, for the house of his father who is a strong Union man. I procured from him a wagon and two yoke of oxen, so as to transport the second cutter across the country to the Chipola River. I then returned to the salt house, where I arrived at 11 p. m. At 5 a. m. I got the boat ready for transportation, and at 8 o'clock we started. The road running from the salt house to White's Bluff was in a very bad condition, so that our progress was slow. We arrived at the Bluff at 10 p. m., a distance of 14 miles. The Chipola enters the Apalachicola 20 miles below White's Bluff; but 8 miles above the bluff there is a cut-off which connects with the Apalachicola.
At daylight we took in the pickets from the old Telegraph road, and, having embarked part of the men in the second cutter and the remainder in canoes, we proceeded up the river. We landed at the house of Mr. Whitehard, whose son was with us, and remained there for the day and night. I here found a runaway negro who was well acquainted with the country and who promised to be our guide. At 3 p. m. I started for the house of Mr. Caraway to get information in regard to a steamer said to ply in the Apalachicola between Chattahoochee and Ricoe's [Rickoe's] Bluff and which I was hoping to capture. I remained there the night and returned on the morning of the 20th. At 2 p. m. we embarked and proceeded through the cut-off into the Apalachicola. The river being very high and weather rainy, we made slow progress. At 8 p. m. we arrived at Atkins Landing and encamped for the night. At 10 a. m. on the 21st we reembarked and kept up the river to a place which I learned from our guide was suitable for concealment. Here the fields were overflown to a depth of 3 and 4 feet. Accordingly we took the boat and canoes across the field behind a clump of trees, where they were concealed from the river. Leaving a guard in the boats, I proceeded with the remainder of the party along a high ridge about a mile and selected a very dense place for our camp. At 4 p. m. I left the camp with two men and the guide to reconnoiter the vicinity of Ricoe's [Rickoe's] Bluff, 7 miles distant. We went up the Apalachicola 2 miles and, turning into the Florida River, proceeded to the junction of the Wepaluxet Creek; proceeding up the creek 5 miles, we landed at a place 1 mile in the rear of Rickoe's Bluff. On the bluff is the residence of a planter named Nixon. My guide, being acquainted with all the negroes on the plantation, called out one that was deemed trustworthy, and from him I received the following information, viz: That the steamer was expected daily and that there was a picket of 13 men at the bluff, commanded by a lieutenant. I approached so close to the picket station as to be able to see the sentinel on duty and ascertain where the guard slept. I then returned to the camp, arriving at 11 p. m. We remained in camp during the following day and night. On the 23d at 2 p. m. we embarked, and at 5 p. m. we arrived at an old gin house on the banks of the Wepaluxet Creek, 1½ miles from Rickoe's Bluff. Here we remained through the night, intending to return to our encampment the following day if the steamer did not arrive that night. At 7 p. m. on the 24th a little negro girl came in sight of our picket, and, being frightened, ran away, contrary to our orders to stop. Seeing that we were discovered, I immediately held a consultation with the officers. We concluded that the best course to pursue under the circumstances was to capture the pickets and return. Accordingly at dusk we started for the camp, which is about a mile from the bluff. Arriving in sight of the camp fires, we halted and concealed ourselves until about 8 p. m., when everything seemed favorable for the attack. After stationing 5 men as pickets to prevent any escape, I divided the remainder of the party into four squads, each under command of an officer, with instructions to quietly surround the houses that had lights and fires in them. In this way we charged together upon the houses, burst open the doors, and took everyone prisoner without firing a gun. We captured here 1 lieutenant, 1 sergeant, and 3 privates; also 10 horses, 8 carbines, 2 shotguns, 1 musket, and 1 rifle. Leaving our prisoners under guard, we started for the bluff, where a picket of 4 men was stationed. At the same time Mr. Grubb with 4 men surrounded the house of Mr. Nixon and succeeded in capturing his son, who is a sergeant in Smith's cavalry company, he being home at the time on a furlough. With the remainder of the party I captured the picket at the bluff. We then returned to the camp with our prisoners. Leaving the camp, Dr. Avery, myself, and a boy as guide started for a house a mile and a half distant, where we captured the only remaining picket at the station. Returning to the camp, we remained there until daylight, when we left for the bluff. Here upwards of 30 negroes, men, women, and children, were collected, desiring to go with us. On the bluff was a Government storehouse containing a large quantity of corn, which I destroyed by fire. Embarking all the prisoners and negroes, I proceeded down the creek, taking the precaution to remove all boats at Rickoe's Bluff and on the creek, to prevent pursuit. I was obliged to leave the horses, having no means of transporting them across the river. Arriving at the mouth of the creek, I sent Mr. Grubb with the negroes and prisoners down the river to White's Bluff. Taking 4 men, I started for Freeman's, a planter, who owned about a dozen negroes. I arrived there at 4 p. m. and took every negro on his plantation, also one rifle and one double-barreled fowling piece. I immediately proceeded down the river to White's Bluff, arriving on the following morning at 9:30 a. m. I found that Mr. Grubb had sent the prisoners and negroes across the country toward the salt house, keeping a boats crew with him at the bluff. Procuring a team from Mr. Tate to transport the baggage, I sent the remainder of the negroes across the country. I then ordered Mr. Grubb to proceed down the river with the second cutter and a crew of 11 men to capture a picket of 6 men which was stationed at old Fort Gadsden, and proceed down the river and report to blockading vessel at Apalachicola Bay and return to the Midnight along the coast. I then returned to the salt house and down the creek to the place where the launch was concealed. Here I encamped for the night. On the morning of the 27th I sent the contrabands down the creek in charge of Mr. Mitchell with orders to land them at Barge Bluff. The prisoners were sent down to the ship in charge of Dr. Avery with orders to report to you to send back the launch in tow of the first cutter. I remained at the salt house with two men to forward the baggage to the bluff, where I arrived on the morning of the 28th. At 5 p. m. the launch and first cutter arrived from the ship. At 6 p. m. we embarked and proceeded to the ship, where we arrived at 4 a. m. on the 29th.
The following are the details of the expedition of Acting Ensign W. H. Grubb in obedience to orders received froni Acting Master Charles H. Cadieu, in Apalachicola River:
U. S. S. MIDNIGHT,
St. Andrew's Bay, Fla., January 31, 1865.
SIR: In obedience to Mr. Cadieu's orders, I left White's Bluff at 1:30 p. m. of the 26th instant in the second cutter with a crew of 11 men. Passing down the Chipola River through Gum Swamp, I arrived at Fort Gadsden shortly after dark, a distance of 35 miles. Having been informed that the picket was in the habit of staying in a scow in the middle of the river, I took in my oars about 2 miles above the fort and drifted silently down the stream, having hands ready with boat hooks to grapple as we came alongside. But no scow was there, it having sunk about two weeks before. Having drifted past the fort, I landed my party one-half mile below and attempted to march up, but was stopped by a wide, deep creek, which we could not cross. Embarking my party again and muffling the oars, pulled up the river about 1 mile and landed at Brick Yard Bluff. Moving quickly across the fields, we captured the sentry, and, entering the guardhouse, found a sergeant and one man, which was all that were on the station at that time, three men having permission to pass the night at their homes. Taking the three prisoners and their arms, we went to the house of a Mrs. Buckles and encamped for the remainder of the night. At 8 a. m. of the 27th I started for the house of a man named Wellington, 5 miles down the river. As we approached the house he started for the woods and escaped. I secured his carbine, shot his horse, and started for a place called Bloody Bluff, where two men lived, belonging to the same company. We found them at home and took them and their arms. At 1:30 p. m. we started for the blockade at Apalachicola. Arriving at 10 p. m., I reported immediately to Acting Volunteer Lieutenant Baxter, commanding the U. S. S. Fort Henry, who ordered the U. S. S. Sunflower to take us to St. Andrew's Bay. We left West Pass at 4:30 p. m. of the 29th instant and arrived at 8 a. m. next morning, bringing 5 prisoners and 6 stand of arms.
The result of the above expeditions are briefly this, viz: The capture of 1 lieutenant, 3 sergeants, 12 privates, and 19 stand of arms, besides bringing away 43 contrabands and destroying a government storehouse which contained 150 bushels of corn belonging to the Confederate Government. I would further state that I can not speak too highly of the officers and men (without exception) belonging to this ship for their bravery and the amount of good judgment shown on their numerous expeditions."
CAPT George F Emmons, 2nd Division, West Gulf Blockading Squadron, CMDR James S Palmer, West Gulf Blockading Squadron, "I have received your several communications by the Fort Morgan, and enclose you answers to such as appear to call for answers, with the usual reports and monthly returns. I confess myself somewhat at a loss how to treat the absurd reports (as you very justly term them) which appear to have elicited a communication from a Lieutenant-Colonel Branson, directed to the Adjutant- General of the U. S. Army.
But as the Navy Department has thought it of sufficient importance to transmit it to you for an investigation, it becomes proper that I should, as the commanding naval officer here, cognizant of all that takes place, assure you that there is no foundation whatever for these ridiculous reports.
Vessels have never been known to pass in here or out during the day since I have had command of this division. One in attempting it at night was sunk, another wrecked on shore, and still another disabled by one shot; nevertheless, here, as elsewhere on blockade, some do succeed in getting in and out during nights of fog and dark, squally weather.
During one such favorable time, one boat went in and cut out a schooner from under the guns of their forts without being seen, which is an evidence of what may be done under such favorable weather.
I seldom communicate with a flag of truce, and am always particular in the officer that is sent on this duty, who goes no farther than the station assigned, which is a beacon buoy in the channel some 4 miles from Galveston, and is always under our sight. No one belonging to this division, or of the Navy, has ever been permitted to land at Galveston during the time that I have been in command on blockade here, and therefore could not well have enjoyed the society of rebeldom with the accompanying dissipations, except in imagination.
It would be quite in character for a class of rebels inhabiting Texas to endeavor to pass themselves off for something more respectable than they really are, and I have no doubt that they sometimes succeed even among their own people and with a view of detecting the real sentiments of suspected parties residing amongst them.
It is notorious, here especially, that persecution for opinions sake has been carried to extremes. Murder and hanging have not been uncommon during this rebellion."