Lincoln's Admiral by James P. Duffy

Lincoln's Admiral by James P. Duffy

Author:James P. Duffy [James P. Duffy]
Language: eng
Format: epub
Tags: History/Military/Naval
ISBN: 9781612308586
Publisher: New Word City, Inc.
Published: 2015-04-06T04:00:00+00:00

OUT OF SIGHT of the Vicksburg batteries, around the sharp bend in the river, the captains of the Union vessels rushed to a meeting aboard the flagship as quickly as each could drop his ship’s anchor. An anxious Farragut took stock of his fleet and realized that three vessels had not made the run past the batteries. He sent word to Captain Craven of the Brooklyn via an overland messenger. Fearing that the sloop and two gunboats had been severely damaged and forced to turn back, he wrote, “I hope your ship has not been disabled and that your casualties have not been great, but I am prepared to hear the worst.”

While he waited for Craven’s reply, Farragut sent the Wissahickon to the mouth of the Yazoo River to watch for the Arkansas. He did not want to get his ships caught between the Vicksburg batteries and the giant ram without some warning. Following breakfast with his captains, Farragut did the only thing he could do, now that he was above Vicksburg: search for forces that would enable him to capture the city or, at the very least, permanently disable its defenses. Using the services offered by Lieutenant Colonel Ellet of the Ram Fleet, Farragut sent communiqués to General Halleck and Flag Officer Davis, as well as an official announcement to the naval authorities at Memphis that the Vicksburg batteries had been passed. This message was to be forwarded to Washington.

To the Navy Department he wrote, “The Department will perceive from [my] report, that the forts can be passed, and we have done it, and can do it again as often as may be required of us. It will not, however, be an easy matter for us to do more than silence the batteries for a time, as long as the enemy has a large force behind the hills to prevent our landing and holding the place.” It was a cold report that transmitted the author’s feelings about being required to move so far upriver for so little gain. “I am satisfied,” he wrote, “it is not possible to take Vicksburg without an army of 12,000 or 15,000 men. General Earl Van Dorn’s [Confederate] division is here, and lies safely behind the hills. The water is too low for me to go over twelve or fifteen miles above Vicksburg.”

Farragut’s report provided his superiors in Washington with a detailed description of the passing of the Vicksburg batteries. He singled out several officers and men of his command for special mention, as he usually did when it had been earned by meritorious valor or hard work. To them, he added the names of General Williams, Colonel Ellet, “and the army officers of this division generally,” for doing “everything in their power to assist us.”

Although General Williams had brought 3,000 men with him, his force was still too small to do anything of value against the Vicksburg batteries. Frustrated by his inability to assault the town, he managed to place his own light batteries on the shore opposite Vicksburg.


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