see it clearly

US Navy Reports

The following three reports, by officers of the United States Navy are interesting as describing this event from the opposing standpoint:


US Navy Reports

U.S. Steam Sloop Pensacola,
New Orleans, Sept. 4, 1863.

Sir:

I have the honor to inform the Department that Major General Banks, having organized a force of 4,000 men, under Major General Franklin, to effect a landing at Sabine Pass for military occupation, and requested the cooperation of the Navy, which most gladly acceded to, I assigned the command of the navy force to Acting Volunteer Lieut. Frederick Crocker, commanding United States Steamer Clifton, accompanied by Steamer Sachem, Acting Volunteer Lieut. Amos Johnson, U.S. Steamer Arizona, Acting Master Howard Tibbetts, and U.S. Steamer Granite City, Acting Master C.W. Samson, these being the only available vessels of sufficient light draught at my disposal for that service, and as they have good pilots, I have no doubt the force is quite sufficient for the object.

The defences ashore and afloat are believed to consist of two thirty-two pounders en-barbette and a battery of field pieces, and two bay boats converted into rams.

It was concerted with General Franklin, that the squadron of four gun boats, under the command of acting Volunteer Lieut. Crocker, should make the attack alone, assisted by about 150 sharp shooters from the army, divided among his vessels, and having driven the enemy from his defences or driven off the rams, the transports are then to advance and land the troops.

I regret exceedingly that the officers and crews who have been on blockade there cannot participate in the attack in consequence of the excessive draught of water drawn by their vessels. The New London, drawing nine and a half feet, is the lightest draught of all the blockaders, and has made repeated attempts to go in alone, but without success.

I have the honor to be your ob't svt.

H.H. BELL,
Commanding W.G.B. Squadron, pro tem.


To Hon. GIDEON WELLES,
Secretary of the Navy.

U.S. Steamer Arizona,
Sabine Bar, Sept. 10, 1863.

Sir:

At 6 A.M., on the 8th, the Clifton stood over the bar and opened fire on the fort, to which no reply was made.

At 9 A.M. the Sachem, Arizona and Granite City, followed by the transports, tood over the bar, and with much difficulty owing to the shallowness of the water, reached anchorage two miles from the fort at 11 A.M., the gun boats covering the transports.

At 3.30 P.M., the Sachem, followed by the Arizona, advanced up the eastern channel to draw the fire of the forts, while the Clifton advanced up the western channel, followed by the Granite City, to cover the landing of a division of troops under General Weitzel.

No reply to the fire of the gunboats was made until we were abreast of the forts, when they opened with eight guns, three of which were rifled, almost at the same moment.

The Clifton and Sachem were struck in their boilers enveloping the vessels in steam.

There not being room to pass the Sachem, this vessel was backed down the channel and a boat sent to the Sachem which returned with Engineer Munroe and Fireman Lum, badly scalded, (since dead).

The Arizona had now grounded by the stern; the ebb tide caught her bow and swung her across the channel, and she was with much difficulty extricated from the position, owing to the engine becoming heated by the collection of mud in the boilers.

The flags of the Clifton and Sachem were run down and white flags were flying at the fore.

As all the transports were now moving out of the bay, this vessel remained covering their movements until she grounded.

She remained until midnight, when she was kedged off as no assistance could be had from any of the tugs of the expedition.

There are now on board this vessel William Low, Peter Benson, George W. Meeker, John Howels, Samuel Smith and George Horton, of the crew of the Sachem.

Very respectfully,

Your obedient servant,

H. TIBBETS, Acting Master,
U.S. Steamer Arizona.


To Commodore H.H. BELL,
Commanding W. G. B. Squadron,
New Orleans.

U.S. Steamship Pensacola,
New Orleans, Sept. 13, 1863.

Sir:

My despatch No. 41 informed you of the repulse of the expedition to the Sabine Pass, and the capture of the Clifton, Acting Volunteer Lieut. Crocker, and the Sachem, Acting Volunteer Lieut. Amos Johnson, by the rebels, and the safe return of the troops and transports to the river without loss.

Lieutenants Crocker and Johnson are reported to have fought their vessels gallantly, and are unhurt.

The rebel steamers took the Clifton and Sachem in tow within twenty minutes of their surrender, the extent of their damage is unknown.

The arrival of the Owasco this morning has given me the only report from the naval officers concerned I have received.

The attack, which was to have been a surprise and made at early dawn on the 7th, was not made until 3 P.M. on the 8th, after the entire expedition had appeared off Sabine Pass for 28 hours, and a reconnoissance had been made on the morning of the 8th by Generals Franklin and Weitzel and Lieutenant Commanding Crocker, when they decided on form of attack different from that recommended by myself.

I have the honor to be your obedient servant,

H.H. BELL,
Commanding W.G.B. Squadron, pro tem.