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1865 April 8: “We are in sight of Mobile, on the opposite side of the Bay”

April 8, 2015

The Battle of Fort Blakely took place from April 2-9, 1865, in Alabama, as part of the Mobile Campaign.  Spanish Fort finally fell on April 8 and Fort Blakely on April 9.  For a more detailed account than what is given here, see the May 6, 1865, post on “The 11th Wisconsin at the Battle of Fort Blakely.”

Jerry Flint’s original letter is in the Jerry E. Flint Papers (River Falls Mss BN) at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, University Archives and Area Research Center.

Camp 4th Wis Cav’y
Starks Landing Ala.
April 8th 1865

Dear Brother

                          I did say that I would not write another letter while in the army but some how or other I think I feel a little like scribbling to night.

I believe when I have the poorest facilities for writing I always want to write the most.  I will give you first a little idea of what our situation [is] just now.  We are in sight of Mobile, on the opposite side of the Bay.  There is only one channel by which our fleet can get to the city and this one is guarded by Forts Spanish and Blakely.  Our boats cannot run by them for the water is filled with torpedoes.  The above mentioned works are occupying the attention of our army at present, and night and day it is almost one incessant Boom.

The army is composed of mostly veteran troops, and commanded by able Generals.  Gen. Canby [Edward Canby] is in command of the whole force, A.J. Smith of the 16th Corps, Gen. Granger [Gordon Granger] of the 13th Corps, and Gen. Steele [Frederick Steele], he came through from Pensacola with a sort of independent command.  Everything bids fair for success.  I think the army numbers not less than ninety thousand men.  The rebels have filled the ground with torpedoes, and not scarcely a day passes but what some poor scout gets blowed [sic] up.  The most of them are an eight or ten inch shell, with a percuss[ion]¹ cap, buried in the ground so that when a horse or men step on one up he goes.  The are usually placed all along the road or along a stream where the army will be apt to go for water.  A man was killed close to our camp by one of those machines yesterday.  Smith’s Guerrillas, as J. Smith’s men are called, swear that if they ever get into the fort they will bayonet twenty rebels for every one of our men killed by a torpedoe [sic].  And they are the men to keep their word.  We are camping about two miles from the rebel works.  The Cavalry has not all arrived yet consequently we are not yet regularly organized and are doing but little.

There has been nothing but more then heavy skirmishing yet although our men have rifle pits within 50 yards of the reb. works.  We have lost about one thousand in killed and wounded.  Everybody is confident of success.  The wind is trying to blow out my light and I have nothing but a shelter tent to protect it.   Guess I’ll go to bed.

Love to all — Flint

Boys all right.
.                         .J

1.  The paper is torn where the end of word should be.

Jerry Flint letter of April 8, 1865, from the Jerry E. Flint Papers (River Falls Mss BN) at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls University Archives & Area Research Center

Jerry Flint letter of April 8, 1865, from the Jerry E. Flint Papers (River Falls Mss BN) at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls University Archives & Area Research Center

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