of Lieut. Stephen M. Eaton, Twelfth Maine Infantry, Acting
I have the honor to submit the following report of signal duty performed
by me while on and attached to the U.S. S. Hartford, on the Mississippi
River, between Port Hudson and Vicksburg, from March 13 to July 11, 1863:
compliance with Special Orders, No. 24, Headquarters Signal Corps, Baton
Rouge, La., March 13, 1863, I reported for duty the same day, with
Lieutenants Jencks and Abbott, and with our respective parties, to Admiral
Farragut, on flagship Hartford.
furtherance of orders on the subsequent day, Lieutenant Jencks and party
were transferred to the iron-clad Essex, and Lieutenant Abbott and party
to U. S. S. Richmond.
9 p.m. of Saturday, March 14, the fleet, in line of battle, by pairs, and
lashed together, advanced to run the gauntlet of the Port Hudson
a gallant and stubborn fight, the Hartford and her consort, the Albatross,
succeeded, and came to anchor at midnight above the fortifications, and
well out of range.
efforts the next morning to communicate with the unsuccessful vessels
below from the mast-head were to no purpose. The intervening woods were
too high, and the admiral declined my proposal to cross the Point.
10 a.m. we sailed for Red River and Vicksburg. Had a sharp engagement at
Grand Gulf on the 19th, and five separate engagements with the Warrenton
batteries, from March 20 to March 30.
these ten days, I exchanged signals repeatedly with certain of Admiral
the 15th of April, the Hartford steamed down within view of Port Hudson,
and anchored. I immediately opened communication with the Richmond,
distant, by the river, 10 miles; in an air-line, 6 miles. Here signal
station had been raised to a height of 160 feet. My station was 135 feet
high. The following is a correct transcript of the messages sent and
received, then and afterward, by me:
S. S. HARTFORD,
15, 1863--11 a.m.
Gabaudan arrived safely at Baton Rouge, missing the upper fleet.
Queen of the
West was captured in Grand Lake April 14. Captain [E. W.] Fuller and crew
prisoners at Berwick Bay. The enemy evacuated his works at Centreville
last night but will probably be captured, as he is between Emory and
Grover. Leaving his guns and ammunition.
Can send a
party to you across the Point in skiffs, coming out at lower mouth of
"Who are you, and what ship?"
I want my
secretary and dispatches if they can be sent me safely. I wish to return
to Red River to-morrow morning. Answer.
starts immediately with a party. Send a boat to meet them at lower mouth
False River, to dike, half a mile up the river.
How is Captain
McKinstry? Is Cummings dead? We are all well, but want the news.
on the 17th. The captain is doing well. Drop down half a mile, and wait
half an hour.
"Steam ahead 300 or 400 yards, and watch my flag."
"Have you sent your boat? lt is time the party had arrived."
"The boats are here. Cease signaling."
"Has the party arrived?"
officers return to-morrow morning. Send the mail early in the morning.
"All right. Cease signaling."
The mail has
gone over. Has it arrived? I will return here on Thursday..
The mail has
arrived. Shall we send you ship's letters? We have many official letters
for the admiral.
letters, but not papers, at once.
Three or four
river steamers are seen almost daily at Port Hudson, bringing stores. They
are probably now in Thompson's Creek.
The party with
letters has started. We hear firing below, and are going down. Cease
We marched on
Opelousas at 6 a.m. Can be in Alexandria the last week of the month. Can
gunboats meet me there? Have burned three gunboats and many transports.
Captured 2,000 prisoners with best officers of army and navy, and am still
pursuing. When will Grant be down?
Any news from
"Attack made on Charleston the 7th instant. Nothing reliable since.
Rebels look glum. Fox, in a letter to Smith, says: 'We feel no regret at
the attempt, for the unflinching qualities displayed make us forget
Can you send
We have no
letters of importance. Hear you bare five more gunboats.
"Did Swarm return safely?"
Circassian reports all well on the coast of Texas. The Brooklyn will go to
Ship Island to repair. Pocahontas' boilers are worn out. Shall I order a
survey, and, if condemned, shall I order her north? I have ordered the
court of inquiry, at Pensacola, on Commodore Hitchcock,
about the Florida's escape. I have ordered him north with the Susquehanna
as soon as his court is over, as ordered by the Secretary of the Navy.
Glad to learn
your successes. Unless gunboats come from Vicksburg, I have none that
could pass Fort De Russy, at Gordon's Landing. I can hear nothing from
Grant until the five boats below Vicksburg arrive. Port Hudson on half
rations. Troops discontented. Enemy sent to Arkansas for troops for
Taylor. Nothing to impede communication with me in the Atchafalaya.
As you have
the guides, send one immediately. I will have a force at the Landing. My
letters will explain everything.
I have 15 or
20 contrabands I must send over. No place for them. Can I do it safely?
If you have
skiffs to send with them, you can.
Schley to send my valise and a few shirts.
Our party has
Did you get
your message in time? Love to Watson and Kimberly.
Have you all
the dispatches now?
"All right. Have you been re-enforced by gunboats; and how many have
Department approves our conduct. Efforts cannot always command success
When shall I
look for you again?
I hope to be
down again on Saturday, the 2d.
Are you 23?
"Any other officer with you?"
"No; I called you a long time last night. Did you not see me?"
"All the time; but the admiral objected to my answering. Danger of
Let us know
when Swarm arrives. Until then cease signaling.
took you down river last Thursday?
the heavy guns at Baton Rouge.
"Swann is here. O.K."
Let us know
when they return.
"They have just started."
"My station is very shaky. I wish you always to give it time to get
still before you answer. The flagman and myself occupy the same box (23).
When do you go up?
S. S. HARTFORD,
midnight of May 4 an alarm beat to quarters. A large fleet was dis-
descending the Mississippi. We exchanged messages.
I will be on
Did Swann get
over safely? I am in communication with Banks and Grant. Porter arrived
Sunday night with four iron-clads, and is now up Red River.
Swarm is here.
Large lot of corn at lower mouth of False River. Two regiments of Illinois
cavalry, from Tennessee, reached Baton Rouge on the 2d. Left the 27th.
They came down the Jackson and New Orleans Railroad, destroying much of
it; all the bridges, cars, and locomotives. Hear,1 heavy firing on the
29th at Grand Gulf. Lost 1 man killed, 5 wounded. Now is the time to take
"Are you Abbott?"
I hope to be
at New Orleans last of the week. Order up the mortar-boats, the Essex, and
Genesee. Shell Port Hudson every night at a different hour, for an hour or
two, until the Hartford passes down.
We will not
communicate across the Point. Too much risk.
killed at Sabine Pass, on shore at the light-house. Boat's crew taken.
Read escaped with his boat's crew, himself wounded. Tell Porter that there
are three steamboats up Thompson's Creek.
Please send my
coat and valise to Van.
when the Hartford will return, but not until to pass below Port Hudson.
"Porter has captured Grand Gulf. Took nine big guns. Grant is behind
Grand Gulf with 30,000 men. Has captured 500 prisoners and one battery.
Hopes to bag all."
"Very windy. Be brief."
are off. Cease signaling."
the 8th of May, Admiral Farragut and staff went to New Orleans by way of
the Atchafalaya. I accompanied him. Reported for duty again to General
Banks at his headquarters at Bayou Sara about midnight, May 23, 1863.
Immediately ordered to the Hartford.
S. S. HARTFORD,
I have nothing
from General Banks since yesterday morning, when he had joined Augur at
We are in
communication with him, and they now invest Port Hudson. Wait for a reply
from the admiral. Do not send a message till I answer your call.
am Eaton. Was signaling to Hall at Bayou Sara. He can see you. Can't you
see him? Look a little to the left of me. Where is the admiral?"
Hold on and
watch events, and be ready to take advantage of them.
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