Tri-weekly Telegraph- Houston, Texas
Vol. XXVIII- No. 138 Feb. 2, 1863
Houston, Jan. 30.
We are indebted to M. Jackson, for copies of the New Iberia States, and the Franklin Register of the 17th, from the latter of which we take the following particulars of the late battle on the Teche; The Register says that our forces numbered 2000, while those of the enemy were variously estimated at 2500 to 7000, land and water.
Our boys fought gallantly, and repulsed the foe, but Louisiana is cursed with an imbecile officer, by whose command the noble gunboat cotton was destroyed, as a reward for the gallant fight she made. What excuse could there be for it?
From the Franklin Register, Jan. 17th
Battle of the Teche
Our Troops Occupy the Field.
The Enemy Repulsed!!
C. S. Gunboat J. A. Cotton Burnt.
On the evening of the 13th inst., a large Federal force was reported to be advancing; both by land and water, to attack our troops stationed about twelve miles below Franklin. The report proved to be correct; for at 6 o’clock P. M. they were encamped upon the plantation of J. M. Carpentier, and two of their much-dreaded gunboats were anchored below the obstructions, at Cornay’s bridge.
At about 8 o’clock A. M., on the morning of the 14th, their intentions were announced by a rapid firing from their gunboats, and it was evident that they had not come, as usual, to feel for our position, but to meet us face to face. Owing to the superior range of their guns, the batteries of the Cotton did not at first reply to their salutations; but as they neared obstruction, the deep thunders of our heavy guns trembled on the wind, and we knew that the game had ceased to be altogether on one side. For hours the roar of artillery was almost incessant; and the high wind which had been prevailing, seemed frightened into silence.
It was evident, in a very short time that our fire from the Cotton was telling seriously upon the enemy’s vessels. The Gray Cloud, which was the first to attack, was discovered to have drifted broadside across the bayou, in which condition she remained receiving broadside upon broadside, without replying from her batteries. At this juncture, the Estella was seen to approach her, and retired a short distance. Keeping undercover of the Gray Cloud, and took up a position which enabled her to throw her fire from behind the latter, whose shots thereafter were but few and ineffective.
Surely providence was with us in this artillery duel. Our shots were frequently seen to plunge into their sides—at one time, with such effect as to cause the crew of the Gray Cloud to abandon her gun decks—while the enemy’s, though frequently striking us, inflicted no real damage whatever.
About 10 o’clock, A. M., it was discovered that three regiments of the enemy’s infantry were advancing in such a manner that their extreme left would flank the cotton. These regiments were supported by batteries of field pieces. Upon perceiving this, the Cotton’s springs were cut, and the order given to back up the bayou, to be in line with our land forces. The movements of the enemy were so rapid, that they were soon upon the very banks of the bayou, firing volley after volley upon our gun-decks, and sweeping the men from their batteries.
It was about this time that Lieut. Stevens, of the Confederate navy, fell, fighting like a hero, brave as a lion, and calm and immovable as the very statue of silence. The loss of such men, while deeply mourned by individuals, should clothe a whole nation in sadness. The monuments they merit are deep in the hearts of the people—more enduring than the shaft which pierceth to the clouds.
At this time, too, was wounded our brave captain of the “Cotton.” Shot through both arms, the purple tide of life gushing from around his wounds, he stood like granite at his post, nor left it until his boat was moored in line with our advanced troops on land. He was then removed o the steamer gossamer, to be transported to Franklin, and Lt. E. T. King assumed command.
The Lieutenant, after the removal of the killed and wounded, directed the “Cotton: once more toward the scene of action. While advancing in this direction, several batteries, which were concealed on the banks, opened upon his boat with a heavy fire—almost every shot striking her. Her cabin was riddled with balls; but the iron over her machinery proved the efficacy of such a defense—for their shots made scarcely an impression upon it. It is certain that, for all practical purposes, the “Cotton” was as formidable after the engagement, as if she had never sustained the fire of the enemy.
Finding that he could not reply with effect to the land batteries, and there being no support on shore, Lieut. King returned to the position he had occupied when taking command. The loss on the “Cotton” is as follows, viz:
Killed- Lieut. H. K. Stevens, C. S. N.; Corporal V. Gautreau; Privates J. A. Cheanut, O. A. Fleurot, J. V. Melancon.
Wounded- Capt. E. W. Fuller, in both arms; Lieut. E. Montagne, in the side; Sergeants F. Dela’Rue, J. Gautreau, in the side; NS s. Como, in the hand. Privates J. C. Bishop and R. J. Hankins, in the foot; F. Devillier, J. A. Hickman, in the head. Col. McWaters, of the 1st Louisiana Cavalry, was also killed, near the residence of Col. Bethel, and his remains have been taken to Alexandria for interment. We are unable, today—Monday—to give a list of the killed and wounded of the land forces; but it was very trifling, not exceeding ten, it is believed, all told. Up to present writing—Sunday, 1 o’clock, P. M., -- we are unable to learn the enemy’s loss. This closes the history of the battle on the 14th.
Since that day there has been no fighting beyond occasional skirmishes. The enemy has retreated to Berwick’s Bay. What are their intentions for the future, in regard to this, the fairest portion of our State? The red blaze of incendiaries, the smoldering ruins which mark their backward march, would seem to indicate that they are about to abandon this section, and seek to leave cruel remembrances of their fanatical hate behind them. Amoung the houses destroyed on this side of the bayou, we notice those of Col. P. C. Bethel, Mr. A. A. Fusilier, and Mr. Numa Oornay.
Our forces were commanded by Brig. General Alfred Mouton, and those of the enemy by Gen. Weitzel and Com. T. M. Buchanan, the latter of whom was killed. The Yankees, in the words of the brave Capt. Fuller—the Paul Jones of the South—fought like tigers, and exhibited feats of great daring and bravery. They were in such close proximity to the Cotton that the word of command, “Oblique, March!” was distinctly understood when our battery placed on her hurricane deck, let fly its missiles of death at their advancing columns, which were decimated by the unerring aim our our expert gunners.
The “Cotton,” which had become the pet pride of our community; the “Cotton,” which had come to be regarded as personal property among us, is no more. After having fought with unparalleled success in more than one engagement, all the gunboats the enemy could bring against her; baptized in blood that wailed from the hearts of the bravest and the noblest in the land: invincible to her enemies, the idol of her friends—one stroke of the mighty pen has swept into annihilation, what tempests of shot and shell and fire had failed to seethe. She now lies a gloomy wreck upon the water—though lost and abandoned, defiant in her loneliness; and still , as she was when afloat, a barrier to the advance of her foe.
Is there blame to be attached to any one for this destruction of our means of defense? Can it be explained why there was no concert of action upon the part of our land and water forces? We are no warrior; nor do we seek to constitute ourselves a tribunal to attach censure to any one. But surely, where such tremendous effects are remarked, there mist have been causes for their production. Let the matter be thoroughly silted by the constituted powers, and let those who are “weighed in the balance, and found wanting,” be placed amoung the lights of the community.