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27th Iowa Top Banner

Fort De Russy

March 14, 1864


2nd Brigade, 3rd Division, 16th Army Corps,
January 1864 to December, 1864.

Detachment Army Tennessee -- Joined from Army Tenn For Red River Campaign

Major Gen. Andrew J. Smith
Brig. General J. A. Mower


Second Brigade
Col. William T. Shaw

14th Iowa, Lieut. Col. Joseph H. Newbold
27th Iowa, Col. James I. Gilbert
32d Iowa. Col. John Scott
24th Missouri, Col. James K. Mills

HDQRS. FIRST AND THIRD DIVS. 16TH ARMY CORPS
On Steamer Des Moines, March 31, 1864

CAPTAIN: I have the honor to report that, in obedience to the orders of Brig. Gen. A. J. Smith, I advanced on Fort De Russy on the 14th instant at 4:30 p.m. I made the following disposition of the troops: Colonel Shaw's brigade on the right of the road, excepting one regiment, the Twenty-fourth Missouri Infantry, which was moved up on the left, the Third Indiana Battery near the road. While getting these troops into position the enemy opened fire, throwing shell and shrapnel. Colonel Lynch's brigade was then put in position to the left and rear of the fort. I then moved forward the Twenty-fourth Missouri at a double-quick. This was the signal for the assault. The troops advanced in gallant style, the regiments vying with each other in their efforts to be the first in the enemy's works. The regiments of Colonel Lynch's brigade arrived at the works at the same moment with the Twenty-fourth Missouri, of Colonel Shaw's brigade, but owing to their (the Twenty-fourth Missouri) meeting with a formidable abatis they did not get their colors on the works at the same moment. There was not, however, a difference of half a minute in the time of planting the colors by the different regiments. That part of Colonel Shaw's brigade which moved up on the right of the road encountered a bayou, which prevented their getting into the works as soon as the others. The sharpshooters of these regiments, however, did excellent service in annoying the enemy's artillerists. The brigade commanders, Colonels Shaw and Lynch, handled their troops with skill and coolness. I deem it my duty to mention the conduct of Captain O'Donnell, of my staff, who rendered me most efficient and valuable aide in putting troops into position. He was always ready when his services were required, and was one of the first in the enemy's works. We captured 260 men, as well as a large amount of ordnance stores, among them ten guns, two of them 9-inch, one 32-pounder rifled and banded; the others of smaller caliber.

I inclose herewith a list of killed and wounded; also a list of ordnance and ordnance stores captured.

I am, captain, very respectfully, your obedient servant.

JOS. A. MOWER
Brig. Gen. Comdg. First and Third Divs., 16th A. C.

Capt. J. Hough
Asst. Adjt. Gen., Red River Expedition.

The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series I--Volume XXXIV--In Four Parts. Part 1--Reports. Page 316-317

No. 42.--Reports 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,
Alexandria, 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 1/2 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.

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 Brigadier-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; Lieutenant-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.

The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series I--Volume XXXIV--In Four Parts. Part 1--Reports. Page 352-354

No. 46.--Report of Col. James I. Gilbert,
Twenty-seventh Iowa Infantry,
of the capture of Fort De Russy

HDQRS. TWENTY-SEVENTH REGT. IOWA VOL. INFY.,
On Board Steamer Diadem, Alexandria, La., March 17, 1864.

CAPTAIN: In compliance with orders from headquarters Second Brigade, Third Division, Sixteenth Army Corps, I have the honor to report that while on the march near the town of Marksville, La., on the 14th day of March, 1864, the Twenty-seventh Regiment Iowa Volunteer Infantry was ordered to halt in the town as provost guards until the army had passed through, after which we were to resume our march. When the column had moved by I assembled the guards and moved rapidly forward, keeping well closed up on the train just in my advance. When cannonading commenced the remainder of the brigade to which my regiment was attached were in the advance, having moved forward while we were on duty as provost guards in the town of Marksville. I immediately sent forward Lieutenant Peck, acting adjutant, to Colonel Shaw, commanding brigade, requesting him that I might be permitted to take my place in the brigade. Lieutenant Peck returned and reported to me that he had failed to find Colonel Shaw. I sent him a second time. The request was granted, and we were directed to move forward. We were ordered to relieve the Fourteenth Iowa Infantry, and moved up to do so, but at that moment a simultaneous charge was ordered. It was a long way to the fort (De Russy). The ground over which we must charge was well cleared of trees. Many logs lay on the ground, and several ditches were to be crossed. At the command, "Forward, double-quick, march!" the entire regiment sprang forward with a will, moving too rapidly at times for a long charge, but- all the time under apparent good control. We sprang into the ditch on the east and south sides of the fort, and mounted the parapet in all haste. When the fort was surrendered a part of my regiment, with- others of other regiments, joined in a fire of musketry, and with them united in a wild, ringing, vociferous yell of joy. It was the first time we had ever charged upon an enemy's works, and it has not been reported to me that any officer or soldier failed to do his duty and to do it well. Our list of casualties is as follows: Robert Beck, private, Company G, dangerously wounded in the left breast by accidental discharge of gun.

I have the honor to be, captain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

JAS. I. GILBERT,
Colonel, Commanding Regiment.

Capt. C. T. GRANGER,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.

The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series I--Volume XXXIV--In Four Parts. Part 1--Reports. Page 362