Transcribed and Submitted by
Great Great Granddaughter of Charles Hennrich, Company D.
Camp near Fort Blakely, Alabama
I must again take up my pen and write a few lines. I have awaited a letter since before we left New Orleans, but in vain. I hope that these few lines will find you all in good health, as I, thank God, still am.
You saw in my last letter that we had gone to Mobile. We left New Orleans the 18th of March and arrived the 19th at Fort Gaines on Dauphin Island in the Gulf of Mexico.
We left Fort Gaines again the same day and landed near Fort Morgan at a place called Navy Point, 12 miles away. The 27th we boarded the boat again and traveled up Mobile Harbor and landed under the protection of our gunboats. One could see the town from there.
The 16th and 13th Army Corps moved against Fort Spanish and after a heavy fight the enemy were driven into the fort and the fort was laid in a state of siege. Several times they attempted to drive us back during the night but they were driven back into the fort each time. Fort Spanish is strongly fortified and the rebels had buried torpedoes in the ground about. These have already caused considerable damage. General Smith sent the captured rebels to dig them up. Two rebel prisoners dug up 19 torpedoes during the morning of April 2nd.
They have also filled the harbor with bombs. Three of our gunboats have been blown up by them.
The 2nd Brigade left here to reinforce General Steele who was coming, with the 7th Army Corps, from Pensacola. While we were making a halt, four miles from camp, General Osterhous and two officers rode on a little further and the horse of the lieutenant stepped on a torpedo which exploded and killed two horses instantly and burned the face of one officer.
The 3rd (of April) our division received orders to aid General Steele against Fort Blakely. We arrived there the same night and our division took its position on the left wing. The outpost fighting started at once. The 8th at 3 o'clock in the afternoon, our batteries of 120 guns started a bombardment of Fort Spanish. The bombardment was so heavy that it seemed the earth quaked. This lasted until dark when the infantry stormed the fort and had to make their way with the bayonet. How many they lost I do not know for I have not seen Fritz yet. He is at General Canby's headquarters on guard.
The battle of Fort Blakely occurred the ninth and it was to have been stormed at 6 o'clock in the evening. Firing had gone forward since the 3rd and we were obliged to get up several times at night for the enemy made nightly raids trying to break our picket lines but were driven back each time with heavy losses. The 7th our pickets crept to within 200 paces of the enemy emplacements and entrenched themselves. The rebels opened a murderous fire upon them to drive them back but each one worked like death and life to dig a hole in the earth. So they were safe and the next morning the rebels were wide eyed when they saw how close our picket line was and how strongly entrenched they were. They asked our boys why we did not fire the cannon. Our boys answered that we had none. They accused us of lying, saying that we had said the same at Nashville and then all of a sudden we had fired on them with over a hundred cannon.
At 4 o'clock on the 9th the 10th Kansas Regiment was sent ahead of our brigade in order to release the pickets for a short rest before the attack started. When the 10th Kansas got into our trenches they placed their standards in the earthworks whereupon the rebels opened a heavy fire. Every eye was intent for the beginning of the attack for everyone knew that it would not be finished without bloodshed.
At 6 p'clock our division, one division of the 13th Army Corps, and the 7th Army Corps, with a division of colored troops, moved on the fortifications. As our pickets advanced the rebels opened a murderous fire but there was no longer any waiting. As the attack advanced many were driven to throw themselves to earth by the enemy bullets. Our regiment was in the second wave and came through in good shape.
A loud hurrah and shouting told that the attack column had entered the fort. Many were shot down at the portal but the rebels could not withstand our drive. They lay in heaps behind the emplacements and stuck their hands in the air and yelled that they surrendered themselves. Many of them ran away but our boys turned their only cannon around and shot them down.
Our losses were not heavy for everything was done so quickly that the enemy hardly had time to shoot. We captured, in Blakely, 2 generals with 2100 men and 33 cannon and many wagons and much provision. Our brigade had, by ten at night, found 1600 rifles which the rebels had thrown away.
As far as I have heard the rebels have evacuated Mobile for we can see a white flag from here.
We have received orders to march at about 10 o'clock, where to I do not know. Fritz came while I was writing this and said their regiment had 46 dead and wounded. Their regiment belongs to the 3rd brigade and 3rd division of the 16th Army Corps.
Now I must close for we must march in one hour, as it is now rumored, to Montgomery, Alabama, 150 miles from here.
Greetings to all of you. Greet Fritz Dock and Watermans and write how things are with Henry. Fritz wants greetings sent to you. Enough for now and good luck until we meet again.
NOTES: This undated letter was probably written the 13th of April 1865 as it was on that day that the 27th Iowa Infantry started their march from Fort Blakely for Montgomery where they arrived on the 27th of April 1865. The regiment remained in camp near there during the following months of May and June.
This is the last of the letters by Charles Hennrich