Tri-Weekly Telegraph—Houston, Texas
July 6, 1863
BY PONY EXPRESS.
Our Special Dispatches.
[Telegraphed from Beaumont]
Alexandria, June 30.
You may remember that two or three weeks since I predicted that young Stonewall, Gen. Dick Taylor, would, in a few days, astonish the entire Confederacy by his dots. The following record, gathered chiefly from the columns of the Louisiana Democrat, published today, which has had an opportunity of gaining official information, speaks for itself:
Gen. Taylor, with Walker’s division, fought the enemy at Ashland, in North Louisiana, on the 7th inst. Before starting on this expedition, he had dispatched one of his staff officers to southwest Louisiana, to keep him advised of matters in that direction.
Information he received about this time determined him to make the movement which has resulted so gloriously to our arms. In half an hour he was in the saddle. In this way and in ambulance he traveled through from Richmond, LA., to Alexandria in three days, hardly pausing to rest, pushed on with relays of horses, overtook Col. Majors, commanding a brigade of cavalry on the Atchafalya, and instantly unfolded to him his plan of campaign, in which that gallant young officer was to play such a conspicuous part. Majors was to push boldly through the Grosse Teste, Marigny and La Fourche country to Donaldsonville, thence to the Thibodaux, cut off the railroad and telegraph communication, then push rapidly to the Boeuf river in the rear of Brashear City, and at the first sound of Mouton’s and Green’s guns, attack them at that place. After seeing Col. Majors well on his way. Gen. Taylor returned, via Washington, to Opelousas and pushed on rapidly to Gen. Mouton and Green’s headquarters, to superintend in person the attack on Brashear City and its forts.
Orders had already been given them to make this attack in advance of Majors’ movements, and directions to open communication with him, via the Lakes, so that they could make a combined movement. Two of Gen. Taylor’s staff had been urging on preparations for crossing the troops over the Bay. Lieut. Henry particularly had used every exertion, under directions of Brig. Gen. Green, in the construction of skiffs and flats. Maj. Gen Taylor arrived at Gen. Mouton’s headquarters on the morning of the 21st. Gen. Mouton and Green, had not been idle in carrying out their orders. For the few days previous they had organized the different corps, and their positions in the impending attack.
Shortly after Gen. Taylor’s arrival at headquarters, one of his staff brought up from Gen. Green’s headquarters a dispatch at 12 M., the previous day, from Col. Majors. That daring commander had already arrived at Thibodaux, after a triumphant campaign through the whole La Fourche, had captured Plaquemine with one hundred and fifty prisoners; destroyed three large sea going vessels loaded with valuable stores; had taken Donaldsonville with its garrison; had attacked that same day the enemy at Thibodaux; driven him with Pyron’s Texas infantry at the point of the bayonet from his strong position; had charged and routed his cavalry by charging him with Lane’s, Stone’s and Philip’s Texas cavalry, and was how ready to cooperate with us in our movements of the morrow.
At 6 P. M., on the evening of the 21st, a foriorn hope, composed of volunteers from the different regiments, embarked in the skiffs and sugar coolers prepared for them. Theirs was the proud privilege of storming the almost impregnable fort on the opposite side of the bay, at dawn the following morning, while Gen. Green and Gen. Mouton occupied them at different Pointe in their front. It was composed, as before remarked, of volunteers from the 5th Texas. (Green’s old regiment) 2nd Louisiana Cavalry, Waller’s Battalion, and 2nd regiment Arizona Brigade, all under command of the gallant Major Hunter of the latter.
It was a hazardous mission to cross the Lake, 12 miles, in these frail barks, to land at midnight on the enemy’s side, in an almost impenetrable swamp, and await the dawn of day to make the desperate attempt which would insure them victory or a soldier’s death, but they seemed to treat it as a holiday frolic, as they were rowing away, waving their hats to Gen. Taylor and Gen. Mouton, who were on the banks watching their departure. The boat expedition having left, Gen. Taylor and Mouton proceeded to Pattersonville, to arrange for the other movements. Mouton with the 7th Texas, 4th Texas and 2nd Arizona Regiments stood poat at Gibbon’s Point, on an Island of that name and immediately opposite Fort Buchanan. From this place his Sharpshooters could sweep the gunners from their positions in the fort. Gen. Green with his old regiment, Fifth Texas, Waller’s Battalion, 2nd LA. Calvary, Val Verde and Nichola’ batteries, took position just before day in Berwick city, ready to open on all their camp, which extended up and down the opposite bank for two miles also to keep in check their gun boats.
Every matter of importance being now ready, Major General Taylor waited with confidence for the boom of Green’s artillery, which was to be the signal for attack. Immediately after daylight Gen. Green fired the first gun from the Val Verde Battery, at a gunboat of the enemy, which was steaming up the bay in the direction of the upper Fort Buchanan. Instantly the whole bay was in a blaze. All of our guns first played upon the immense line of tenets of the enemy, which were occupied by about one thousand Yankees.—They were completely surprised. They had not imagined an enemy in twenty miles of them on this side of the bay.
Their prisoners admit this. Their heavy guns from the three forts now opened on Green at the same moment the sharp crack of Mouton’s thousand Enfield rifles are heard continually from Gibbon’s Point, sweeping their gunners from their places, like a whirlwind would sweep the desert. All are anxious to hear the roar of Major’s guns. The worthy pupil of old Stonewall atrains his ear for the signal. If Majors has arrived at the Boeuf Crossing, we have bagged them. All still. We do not hear them, although the cannonading has been going on without intermission for one hour and a half. What has become of the storming party? They have not yet attacked. There is no sign of them.
Presently we hear one, two and three, the long distant sound of artillery from the Beof—Major is there. Their communication is cut off completely. Just at this moment, to add to the enemies’ commission and disaster, the long looked for forlorn hope made its appearance in the edge of the woods. With a real Texas yell they once dashed with bayonets fixed, and pistols drawn, full at the threatening walls of the proud Fort. In twenty minuets they had climbed the walls, dispersed its garrison, torn down the stars and stripes and hoisted the bonnie blue flag on its ramparts.
Leaving a small band to take care of the Fort, the gallant Hunter rushed on to the camps below the affrighted enemy throwing down their arms and surrendering indiscriminately, until he had swept the whole place. Green in the meantime had engaged their gunboats with the Val Verde and Nichols’ Batteries, and after a hot contested duel of half an hour, drove it shamefully away. In half an hour Gen. Taylor Mouton and Green, with their respective Staffs, had their headquarters in the city of Brashear.
The result—captured eighteen hundred prisoners and three commissioned officers, three millions commissary stores, one hundred thousand medical stores, twenty three garrison and regimental flags, one thousand tents, two thousand horses and mules, between six and seven thousand negroes, sixteen guns, seven thousand stand of small arms, and a position of as much importance to this country as Port Hudson and Vicksburg in fact the key to Louisiana and Texas.
This brilliant campaign of Gen. Taylor had another great object in view, and one of vast importance, viz: A diversion to forgo the enemy to raise the siege of Port Hudson. He now has his choice to lose New Orleans, or to abandon his operations against Port Hudson. He now has his choice to lose New Orleans, or to abandon his operations against Port Hudson, and retire with his beaten and demoralized army into that city.
The captured flags are in charge of Maj. Tom. Ochiltree, A. A. Gen. on Maj. Gen. Taylor’s staff, en route to Lieut. Gen. Smith. Among the flags captured and brought here by Maj. Tom. Ochiltree, are the following regimental colors; 17th New York, 23d Connecticut, 21st Indiana, and 42d Massachusetts. Among the captured artillery at Brashear City, are the following items:
Three thousand bbls [Sic], flour, eight hundred sacks coffee, eighty-five New York Planters, one hundred thousand pairs of shoes.
Every courler from below brings official intelligence of the value and quantity of the capture of Fort Buchanan.
The Three Vessels captured and burnt by Col. Majors, at Plaquemine, were large steam ships, laden with ordnance and commissary stores, awaiting orders from Gen. Banks.
All my predictions are not yet fulfilled. Ere many days roll over your heads in Houston, I will make the old market bell rattle its tongue, or my initials are not H. P.
P. S.—The last dispatch received from Gen. Taylor’s army, was sent when it was written, sixty miles of aigiery. So far their saws from Vicksburg Fort Hudson. H. P.