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of the role of the 58th Illinois Vol. Inf.

in the capture of Fort DeRussy, Louisiana

From The Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies in the War of the Rebellion, Vol. 34

No. 38.

Report of Col. William F. Lynch, Fifty-eighth Illinois Infantry, commanding First Brigade, Third Division, of the capture of Fort De Russy.



                                                        Alexandria, La., March 18, 1864


GENERAL: I have the honor to submit the following report relative to the part taken by my command in the engagement of the 14th of March, 1864, which resulted in the capture of Fort De Russy, La.:

My brigade left Simsport at 9.30 p.m. March 13, and with a rest of only four hours reached the town of Marksville, La., at about 2.30 p.m. of the 14th; distance from Simsport, 33 miles. The position of the brigade upon the line of march was in the rear of our division. When about 1 mile beyond Marksville heavy cannonading was heard about 1 ¼ miles in the front. My command was at this time well closed up, it having been previously reported that the enemy was in our vicinity. Orders were soon received to push forward and take position to support the Third Indiana Battery, which was then already in position and vigorously replying to the fire of the enemy. Rapidly my command advanced for about an eighth of a mile and formed line in front of the fort and about half a mile from it, the Fifty-eighth Illinois Volunteers taking position upon the right of the main road, the One hundred and nineteenth Illinois Volunteers on the left, the Eighty-ninth Indiana Infantry Volunteers and Ninth Indiana Battery on a line and immediately in the rear. In this manner and under a heavy fire of shrapnel and grape, I pushed forward my line, but had advanced but a short distance when I received orders from you to move to the left flank, file right, and take position upon the right flank of the enemy's works-our left. Moved the infantry in the manner directed for nearly a mile, when I again formed line of battle in sight of the enemy's works and less than 100 yards from the fort. The Ninth Indiana Battery, at the commencement of this change in our position, was detached by the chief of artillery and pushed forward to the front of the fort to relieve the Third Indiana Battery, having done which they opened on the enemy, doing excellent service. On being again in line, threw forward three companies of skirmishers, who opened a brisk fire upon the enemy, which fire was speedily replied to from behind the enemy's works. Under orders my whole line then opened fire, and the battle from right to left of the brigade commenced in good earnest. At this time a short pause was made to enable the right to advance to the assault, the order being that the right would advance so soon as the attack became general. I then ordered an advance with bayonets fixed, and with a yell that echoed through the timber my brigade sprang forward, down the slope, up the hill, through the abatis, over the moat, and up the wall they clambered, and in less than ten minutes from the time the order was given to charge the stars and stripes waved in triumph over the works of Fort De Russy.

To my immediate staff officers I return my sincere thanks for their unflinching bravery and hearty co-operation during the brief but sanguinary struggle. To the officers commanding the several regiments forming my brigade, and to the officers and men in their several commands, I give my warmest thanks for their bravery and efficiency in the execution of all orders, when in a state of almost utter exhaustion, the result of an unprecedented march, and while under the galling fire which was for a time directed against them. Where all were brave, it is impossible to particularize individual bravery. All did well and nobly. I thank them. To Capt. M. O'Donnell, of your staff, I beg leave to return my thanks for the very valuable assistance rendered at the beginning of the engagement. Among the casualties was that of Lieut. James Carey, Company H, Fifty-eighth Illinois Infantry, a brave and gallant young officer; fell severely wounded while urging his men forward. To the Eighty-ninth Indiana and One hundred and nineteenth Illinois Infantry belong the credit of being the first to enter the fort, and to the Fifty-eighth Illinois belongs the glory of planting the first flag within the enemy's Works, although those of the Eighty-ninth Indiana were but a few seconds behind. It is a matter of small import who were the first to enter or the first to hoist the flag, when there is no measure of time so short as will enable one to discriminate to which regiment of the First Brigade belongs the credit; enough it is to say, that to the First Brigade of the Third Division belongs the credit of being the first to enter the fort, and the first to plant our nation's flag thereon.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,



Colonel Fifty-eighth Illinois Infy., Comdg. First Brigade.

 Brig. Gen. JOSEPH A. MOWER,

 Comdg. First and Third Divisions, 16th Army Corps.