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1864 August 13: First News of the Battle of Mobile Bay, the Battle of Moorefield, and Other News

August 13, 2014

Following is the summary of the week’s war news from The Polk County Press of August 13, 1864.

The naval battle referred to is the Battle of Mobile Bay, which took place on August 5, 1864, in the bay at Mobile, Alabama.  Admiral David G. Farragut, assisted by Union soldiers, attacked the three forts that guarded the entrance to the bay—Fort Morgan on Dauphin Island, Fort Morgan across the bay, and the smaller Fort Powell.  Mobile was the center for Confederate blockade running on the Gulf of Mexico.  The Union victory proved to be a significant boost for Abraham Lincoln’s bid for re-election

The Battle of Moorefield—briefly mentioned after the Mobile Bay correspondence—was a cavalry battle that was fought on August 7, 1864, at Moorefield in West Virginia, as part of the Valley Campaigns of 1864.  Union General  William W. Averill led his troops to a victory over Confederate General John McCausland and his troops.  The loss crippled the Confederate cavalry in the Valley.

Those two sections, on the Battle of Mobile Bay and the Battle of Moorefield, also appeared in the August 13, 1864, issue of The Polk County Press.

The News.

As we expected, the report that Hooker [Joseph “Fighting Joe” Hooker] was to superceed [sic] Meade [George G. Meade] is contradicted.

The subscriptions to the National Loan fully come up to the expectations of Secretary Fessenden [William P. Fessenden].  Over six millions in six days have been taken in the leading eastern cities alone.

— The magnificent series of Sanitary Fairs begun several months ago at Chicago, is now nearly closed.—The substantial results have been in the highest degree satisfactory.  The following is a tolerably accurate statement of the proceeds of the fairs :—Chicago, $75,000 ;  Cincinnati, $120,000 ;  Boston, $147,000 ;  Brooklyn, $300,000 ;  Cleveland, $120,000 ;  Buffalo, $100,000 ;  New York, $1,500,00 ;  St. Louis, $575,000 ;  Philadelphia, $1,300,000 ;  Pittsburg [sic], $350,000, smaller fairs aggregate about $150,000.  Total, $4,437,000.

MADISON, Aug. 5.—The official report of Col. Fairchild [Cassius Fairchild], of the 16th Wis., and a letter to the Journal from the 12th Wis., gives a graphic account of the successful charge of these two regiments on the rebel works north-east of Atlanta, and their resistance to the desperate charge of the rebels the next day.  The regiment received the highest praise from the commanding Generals for their conduct, and by their obstinate holding of the position they saved the day on the 22d.  The U. S. flag of the 12th had the staff cut in two by bullets.  The State flag had the silk torn from the staff, but was borne off by Lieut. Hoyt [Hoyt] in a shower of bullets.  In the two days the 16th had 22 killed, 85 wounded, and 9 missing.  The 12th had 34 killed, 129 wounded, and 22 missing.

The 37th regiment suffered very severely in the late attack on Petersburg.  Col. Harriman [Samuel Harriman] behaved heroically and was unhurt.

Captains Cole,¹ in the hip, and Burnett² in the head and left shoulder, were severely wounded.

WASHINGTON, Aug. 8.—Gen. Butler [Benjamin F. Butler] has telegraphed to the War Department that Richmond papers of the 6th, announce that our forces occupy Dauphin’s Island, but that Admiral Farrigut [sic: David G. Farragut] had not passed Fort Morgan to attack Fort Gaines.

Aug. 8—9 P. M.

To Maj. Gen. Dix [John A. Dix] :

The following announcement of of [sic] the successful operations against Mobile, appears in the Richmond “Sentinel” of this date, and is transmitted by Maj. Gen. Butler to the President :

From Headquarters Maj. Gen. Butler, 3 p.m., Aug. 18 [sic: 8].  To His Excellency, Abraham Lincoln:

The following is the official report, taken from the Richmond “Sentinel” of Aug. 8.

. . . . . . .Maj. Gen.

Hon. J. A. Seddon, [Confederate] Secretary of War :

Seventeen of the enemy’s vessels—fourteen ships and 3 iron-clads, passed Fort Morgan this morning.

The Tecumseh was sunk by Fort Morgan.

The Tennessee surrendered after a desperate engagement with the enemy’s fleet.

Admiral Buchanan lost a leg, and is a prisoner [Franklin Buchanan].

The Selma was captured.  The Gaines was beached near the hospital.  The Morgan is safe, and will try to run up to-night.  The enemy’s fleet have approached the city.  A monitor has been engaging Fort Powell all day.

D. H. MAURY [Dabney H. Maury],
.   . . . . . .Maj. Gen.

From Library of Congress

Print showing battle between Union monitors and sloops against Confederate ships and the ram CSS “Tennessee” in Mobile Bay with Fort Morgan in the distance. From the Library of Congress³

The following is the official report of Gen. Kelly to the War Departm’t announcing a victory in West Virginia :

“My forces repulsed the enemy at New Creek yesterday.  The rebels under McCausland and Gen. Bradley Johnson flanked that post at 3 o’clock p. m.  The fight continued until long after dark.  The enemy retreated during the night leaving their killed and wounded.  The enemy’s loss is severe.  Ours not heavy, will not exceed 25 killed and 500 wounded.

(Signed)               B. F. KELLY [sic: Benjamin F. Kelley],
. . . . . . .. . . . . . .. . . . . . .Brig. Gen.

Later.—Gen. Averill overtook the enemy near Moorfield [sic] yesterday, and attacked him, capturing all his artillery and 500 prisoners.

— Surgeon General Hammond has been suspended from rank and pay for three years.

— The “Post’s” special says the War Department has authorized McClellan [George B. McClellan] to raise 100,000 men immediately, for special service under his command.

— There are rumors of a plot in Canada, among rebels there, to burn Buffalo, N. Y.

— Gen. Foster [John G. Foster] says he will take Charleston within two months.  Prisoners of war confined in the interior of Georgia, have been removed to Charleston, as the rebels don’t consider them safe in their late prisons.

— Sherman has Atlanta closely invested, and the War Department are expecting news of its fall every day.  [William T. Sherman]

— The rebels sprung a mine opposite the 5th corps works fronting Petersburg.  They followed it up with a charge, and got a good whipping.  Their loss is set down at 2,000.  Ours very slight.

— Among the prisoners captured in one of the recent fights near Atlanta, was a ragged dirty fellow, who had buckled around him the belt of the late Gen. McPherson [James B. McPherson].

1.  Frank A. Cole, from La Crosse, captain of Company E of the 37th Wisconsin. He was wounded July 30, 1864, at Petersburg, and died from his wounds on October 4, 1864, in a hospital in Washington, D.C.
2.  Allen A. Burnett, from Springville, captain of Company K, was wounded July 30, 1864, at Petersburg, and died from his wounds on August 16, 1864, in a hospital in Washington, D.C.
3.  “Great Naval Victory in Mobile Bay, Aug. 5th 1864.” This digital image is from an original 1864(?) Currier & Ives print in the Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division (cph 3b50398).
4.  William Alexander Hammond (1828-1900) was the 11th Surgeon General of the U.S. Army from April 1862 to August 1864. Early in the Civil War, he worked with General William S. Rosecrans and Jonathan Letterman on the design of a new ambulance wagon. When the 10th Surgeon General, Clement Finley, was fired after an argument with Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton, President Abraham Lincoln promoted the 34-year-old Hammond, with the rank of brigadier general. He was a reformer. Hospitals were ordered to maintain much more complete records; he proposed a permanent military medical corps, a permanent hospital for the military, and centralized issuance of medications; and he recommended that the service age of recruits be fixed by law at twenty years. In 1863 he banned the use of the mercury compound calomel, which lead to a “Calomel Rebellion” among his colleagues. Sent on an inspection tour by Stanton, he was replaced by an acting Surgeon General. He demanded to be either reinstated or court-martialed. Stanton court-martialed him on trumped-up charges and he was dismissed on August 18, 1864.

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