Report of Col. William T. Shaw, Fourteenth Iowa Infantry, commanding Second Brigade,
of the capture of Fort De Russy.
HDQRS. SECOND BRIG., THIRD DIV., 16TH ARMY CORPS,
La., March 17, 1864.
CAPTAIN: I have the honor to report that on the morning of the 14th of March, 1864,
my command, consisting of the Fourteenth, Twenty-seventh, and Thirty-second Iowa
and Twenty-fourth Missouri Regiments, and Third Indiana Battery, was ordered to take
the advance in line of march toward Fort De Russy, 28 miles distant. We started at
6 o'clock, with the enemy's forces close in front. They fell back as we advanced,
attempting to burn bridges and retard our progress. We pressed them closely, and
although several bridges were fired, little damage was done to affect our progress
till we reached the Bayou De Glaize, where they had burned the bridge and made a
stand on the opposite bank with a force of about 600 or 800 men. I immediately ordered
forward the Third Indiana Battery, with a regiment of infantry, and opened fire on
them, clearing the banks so as to enable me to cross my infantry unmolested in a
scow which they had left uninjured, and also enable the pioneer corps to construct
a bridge on which to cross the artillery and teams. I was here delayed about two
hours. As soon as my artillery had crossed, I pushed rapidly forward till I arrived
at the town of Marksville, 2 ½ miles distant from the fort. Here, by order of Brigadier-General
Smith, the Twenty-seventh Iowa was left to close up the rear of the army. With the
rest of my command I pushed on rapidly toward the fort. <ar61_353>
At about 4 p.m. I came within range of the guns on the enemy's work. I ordered the
Third Indiana Battery to take position on or near the main road leading to and within
800 yards of the fort and open fire immediately. I then deployed the Fourteenth Iowa
on the right and the Twenty-fourth Missouri on the left of the battery for its support.
Lieutenant-Colonel Newbold, commanding Fourteenth Iowa, sent forward two companies
of his regiment as skirmishers and took possession of a line of rifle-pits, about
300 yards from the main fort, which enabled me to greatly annoy the enemy's gunners.
At this time the fire was exceedingly brisk from both artillery and musketry, which
was replied to with equal energy and rapidity from the fort. Colonel Scott, commanding
the Thirty-second Iowa, had now arrived with his regiment. I ordered him to the right
of an open space on the Marksville road to watch the water battery and support the
skirmishers of the Fourteenth Iowa, that by this time extended some distance to the
right. This movement was promptly executed, and the position gained with but slight
loss. A general assault was now determined on, and I was ordered to advance my brigade,
when I heard heavy firing on the left. Colonel Gilbert, commanding Twenty-seventh
Iowa, had now arrived, and as my skirmishers from the Fourteenth Iowa had exhausted
their ammunition, I ordered him to advance with his regiment to the ground occupied
by them. The heavy firing at this time commenced on the left, and the command forward
was given to all the regiments except the Twenty-fourth Missouri, to which I had
already dispatched my aide-de-camp, Lieutenant Berg, with the order, but just before
his arrival the regiment was ordered forward, and led in person by Briga-dier-General
Mower, commanding division. The advance was, however, nearly simultaneous with the
whole brigade, the different regiments arriving at nearly the same time at the works
of the enemy. The Twenty-fourth Missouri, led by General Mower in person, has the
honor of being the first of my brigade to plant their colors on the walls of the
fort, and as far as my observation went the first that were raised on the works of
the enemy. At 6 p.m. the enemy had surrendered. My command had in twelve hours marched
28 miles, been delayed two hours in building a bridge, fought two hours, stormed
and assisted in capturing Fort De Russy--a good day's work.
My special thanks are due to Captain Cockefair, Lieutenant Ginn, and the other officers
and men of the Third Indiana Battery, for their promptness in bringing on the action
and the steady bravery with which they maintained their fire for nearly two hours
under the heavy fire of the enemy's batteries; also to Colonel Gilbert, Twenty-seventh
Iowa; Colonel Scott, Thirty-second Iowa; Lieuten-ant-Colonel Newbold, Fourteenth
Iowa, and Major Fyan, Twenty-fourth Missouri, and all their officers and men, for
the promptness and enthusiasm with which they executed all orders, and the good order
with which they came into action, after so long and fatiguing a march. I am proud
to say that not a single instance came under my observation of any officer or soldier
attempting to shun danger or duty during the engagement, and my opportunity was good
for observing each regiment as it came under fire. To my staff officers, Captain
Granger, Twenty-seventh Iowa; Lieutenant Buell, Fourteenth Iowa; Lieutenant Rapp,
Thirty-third Missouri, and Lieutenant Berg, Third Indiana Battery, I am under great
obligations for their valuable assistance rendered during the action; also for the
prompt and efficient manner in which they fulfilled the duties of their positions.
A list of casualties has already been forwarded.
I am, captain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
WM. T. SHAW,
Colonel, Commanding Brigade.
Capt. J. B. SAMPLE,
Asst. Adjt. Gen., First and Third Divs., 16th Army Corps.