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Monthly Record of Current Events, May 4.

Map of Lower Mississippi.

WE close our Record on the 4th of May, while in hourly expectation of events of great importance. The Grand Army of the Potomac, under General Hooker, has crossed the Rappahannock. The crossing was effected during the 27th, 28th, and 29th of April, at some distance above Fredericksburg, the object being apparently to gain the rear of the enemy's strong works, and by threatening his communications with Richmond compel him either to retreat or to fight outside of his intrenchments. They appear to have been completely deceived as to the place where the crossing was to be made, and to have been able to offer no serious opposition, though a series of sharp skirmishes took place at different points. On the 30th General Hooker issued an order announcing that "the operations of the last three days have determined that our enemy must either ingloriously fly, or come out and give us battle on our own ground, where certain destruction awaits him." Of what followed we only know that General Lee, finding his intrenchments turned, marched out to meet Hooker, leaving a comparatively small force behind; that the divisions of our army which had been left crossed the Rappahannock at Fredericksburg, and after a desperate conflict took possession of the positions from which we were repulsed in December; and that on Saturday and Sunday, the 2d and 3d of May, there was terrible fighting going on between the main bodies of the two armies; that no decisive result had then been attained; and that a grand battle was hourly anticipated.

In the region of the Lower Mississippi an expedition under General Banks has met with decided success. It was dispatched to the region of the Bayou Teche, the most fertile portion of Louisiana, where the enemy were collecting in considerable numbers, threatening an attack upon New Orleans. The subjoined map shows the theatre of these operations.

Berwick, near the mouth of the Atchafalaya, was the initial point of the expedition, from which the advance into the interior was commenced on the 14th of April. Their progress was opposed, and sharp engagements took place on the 15th, 16th, and 17th, in all of which the enemy were routed, with heavy loss, among which are nearly 2000 prisoners. It is certain that possession has been taken of the region as far as Opelousas, and probably still further. It is from this region that the supplies for the enemy's army at Port Hudson have been drawn; and if these are cut off their whole plans of operation will seriously disarranged. Among the other results of this expedition are thecapture of large foundries at Franklin and New Iberia, and the destruction of the salt-works near the latter place, from which a large part of the supply of this indispensable article been drawn. Of still greater importance is the destruction of the enemy's gun-boats upon these bayous; among them is the ram Queen of the West, captured from us near Vicksburg some months ago. She was supposed to be capable of destroying any of our vessels in the region of the Lower Mississippi. She had been sent into the Atchafalaya, and her commander, Captain Fuller, learning of the advance of our forces by land and water, resolved, against the advice of his officers, to attack our gun-boats, three of which were then in Grand Lake, on the 14th of April. Fire was opened on her as she advanced, with the purpose of running down our boats, one after the other. A shell from one of our boats struck a box of ammunition on the Queen of the West, and in an instant she was in flames. The crew began leaping into the water; our fire was suspended, and our boats attempted the rescue of the men; 95 were taken from the vessel and the water; the remainder, about 40 in number, are supposed to have been lost. The vessel burned to the water's-edge, but her guns were found to be in good order, were saved, and are now once more in our possession.

From Vicksburg the most important intelligence relates to the running past the batteries by two successive expeditions. On the 17th of April five gun-boats, one ram, and three transports undertook the passage. All succeeded in passing with little damage except one transport, the Henry Clay, which was so severely damaged by a shot that she sank, and was a total loss. On the 24th six gun-boats and twelve barges attempted the passage, which was accomplished with less loss than was anticipated. Over 500 shots were discharged at the fleet. None of the barges were even struck; but one steamer was so badly injured as to cause her abandonment, the crew being saved; another was damaged, but only slightly. The entire loss in this operation was two men mortally wounded, and about a dozen more slightly injured.

The long threatened attack upon Charleston was made on the 7th of April, and proved entirely unsuccessful. Contrary to expectation, the army was not called upon to take any part in the movement,


which was confined to the iron-clad vessels under command of Admiral Du Font. The attacking vessels were nine in number; seven of the class known as Monitors, each mounting two guns in a revolving turret; the Keokuk, a much less heavily armored vessel, with two stationary turrets, each having a single gun, and the New Ironsides, a large steamer with eighteen guns. These were sent to assail a place guarded by forts and batteries, mounting in all nearly 400 guns, many of them of the largest calibre and most improved construction. The general orders were to commence the attack upon the northwest front of Fort Sumter, at 800 or 1000 yards. The narrow channel leading to this position was known to be obstructed by piles and chains. The Monitor Weehawken, which led the attack, had her propeller entangled in this net-work, and for a time her machinery was rendered useless. Finding it impossible to pass the obstructions the assault was commenced at another point. The size and draft of the New Ironsides prevented her from manoeuvring in the narrow channel, and beyond firing a single broadside she took no active part in the assault, though she presented a fair target to the enemy, and was struck more than sixty times. The Keokuk, having greater speed than the Monitors, passed them, and opened fire upon Fort Sumter at a distance of 400 yards. The whole fire from the forts and batteries was concentrated upon her. In a few minutes she was struck more than a hundred times. Her armor was entirely too weak to sustain this close and heavy fire. The shot of the enemy penetrated her as easily as though she had been of wood. She was perfectly riddled, and began to leak, but was able to withdraw from the fire; but soon sunk and was a total loss. She was under fire only thirty minutes. The seven Monitors meanwhile kept up the action with great spirit for an hour, when a signal was made for them to withdraw. The entire number of shots fired by the fleet was only 151, of which there were 8 from the Ironsides and but 3 from the Keokuk, whose turrets were soon rendered unserviceable; the remainder were from the Monitors, averaging 20 to each. It is estimated that 3500 shots were fired from the forts and batteries, of these something more than 500 took effect. No official report has been published of the amount of damage sustained bv the vessels; but the best information accessible leads us to suppose that none of the Monitors were vitally injured. The pilot-house of the Nahant was shattered, the turrets of the Passaic and Weehawken were struck near the base, and so dented as to interfere with their revolving; the others were more or less bruised and indented, but not apparently seriously injured. This unsuccessful assault shows at least the points to be amended in our Monitors, and enables us to estimate their value as compared with stationary forts. Seven small vessels, mounting 14 guns, and having in all hardly 1000 men, threatening Charleston, compel the enemy to keep up an extensive system of fortification, mounting more than 300 guns, requiring fully 10,000 men, besides an elaborate system of harbor obstructions. Indeed there is little reason to doubt that if there had been no obstructions in the channel, any one of the Monitors might have steamed past Sumter and Moultrie, and held Charleston at mercy. We have no means of judging with certainty whether any serious injury was inflicted upon Fort Sumter by our fire. The officers of the Keokuk thought the walls were seriously damaged two embrasures appeared to be knocked into one, and there were indentations in the wall which a few hours cannonading would convert into a serious breach. The loss on either side was small. On ours it consisted of one man killed, and less than twenty wounded, mostly on the Keokuk. The enemy report one killed, and two or three wounded by our fire, and three or four killed by accidents within the works. This general view of the comparative efficiency of mere stationary batteries as op posed to steamers is corroborated by what has taken, place before Vicksburg.

In our last Record we gave an abstract of the Report of the Joint Congressional Committee on the "Conduct of the War," in which the failure of the campaign in the Peninsula was directly charged to the inefficiency of General M'Clellan. The evidence upon which this Report was based has been published. The most important portions of this are the testimony of Generals M'Clellan and Hooker, of which we present the leading features:

The testimony of General M'Clellan relates to his whole series of operations from July 26, 1861, when he was placed in command of the Army of the Potomac, to the battle of Antietam, September 17, 1862. When he reached Washington he found affairs in a very unsatisfactory state. The defenses of the capital were imperfect; we had nothing which deserved the name of an army; the three months regiments were being mustered out of service; the old ones were not instructed. If the enemy had advanced after the battle of Bull Run they might have taken the capital; there was nothing to have prevented them from seizing Arlington Heights, from which they could have shelled the city. During the autumn his efforts were directed toward rendering the capital secure and organizing the army. He was appointed Commander-in-Chief on the 1st of November, and turned his attention to affair's in the West, in connection with the proposed movements of the Army of the Potomac. The main design was to gain possession of Missouri, and then move a column upon Knoxville and Chattanooga, in order to seize upon the Memphis and Charleston Railroad, destroying the connection between the Valley of the Mississippi and the Atlantic slope, before making a direct movement upon Richmond. He always thought Knoxville of more importance than Nashville. He supposed that offensive operations in the West might be resumed early in December. But Halleck, who was placed in command in Missouri, and Buell in Kentucky, reported that an immense amount of preparation was to be made. The obstruction of the Potomac by the rebel batteries during these months he considered of no vital importance, as we could obtain all supplies independent of the river. There were only two ways to remove these obstructions; occupying the Virginia bank by our troops, which we were not in a position to do; or by a strong naval force, which could not then be furnished, all of our vessels being required for the blockade. When he took the chief command the Army of the Potomac numbered a little more than 100,000 men, of whom 30,000 to 35,000 were required to defend Washington, leaving 65,000 to 70,000 for active operations. The force of enemy in Eastern Virginia was estimated at 150,000. If operations had been then commenced the enemy could probably have opposed us with a force of 100,000. The movement upon the Peninsula was planned before the evacuation of Manassas. He regarded this evacuation as a necessary consequences of that movement. He hoped to be able to reach


the vicinity of Richmond before they could concentrate their forces there, and so compel them to fight at a disadvantage. No one regarded the line to Richmond by way of Manassas as practicable. It was long, presenting great difficulties in guarding our communications. That by way of Yorktown had the advantage of water communication, and required few depots, so that the bulk of the army would be available for active operations. The movement upon Richmond was made as early as the condition of the army would permit. About 170,000 men were left behind; he took with him about 85,000; subsequent reinforcements increased this to 107,000, which was the largest number which he had for duty at any time; this was in the latter part of June. When the advance of the army reached the Peninsula the force of the enemy at Yorktown was probably 15,000 or 20,000. The fortifications had probably been constructed some months before. They had works of which we were wholly ignorant. He did not think that Heintzelman could have taken Yorktown by a sudden movement immediately on his arrival. Whenever we advanced we found the enemy intrenched and in strong force. A siege was resolved upon after careful consideration. The siege of Yorktown occupied a month. The enemy retreated by way of Williamsburg. Most of their army passed that point; but their rear-guard being overtaken, they were brought back. We won the battle. The enemy retreated during the night; but the condition of the roads was such that we could not advance in pursuit. For more than 48 hours after the battle we could not even feed the men on the ground where they stood. The march to the Chickahominy was made as rapidly as possible under the circumstances. At this time he thought that we could take Richmond, though the force of the enemy outnumbered ours. After the battle of Williamsburg, May 5, there was no serious lighting until the battle of Fair Oaks, May 31 and June 1. The result of these actions was the defeat of the enemy, but we could not follow it up by marching on Richmond because our artillery could not be taken along. We should have been brought up without artillery before the heavy guns of the enemy's works. This, and the condition of the bridges, was the chief reason for not advancing at that time. — Passing to the seven days battles, General M'Clellan defends his measures as right and proper. At Gaines's Mills no more troops should have been sent to the support of our right, which was assailed by a greatly superior force. By retaining the troops on the left the enemy were prevented from getting on our flank and rear, so that we were enabled to withdraw the army and materials. Up to this battle he had hoped to be able to hold his ground, though the enemy were in superior force. The retreat was commenced immediately after. Some property was destroyed, but no orders were given for a general destruction of baggage. He made the general dispositions for the battles at Savage's Station and Malvern Hills. The entire loss in killed, wounded, and missing from the 25th of June to the arrival at Harrison's Landing was about 14,000. He brought to the James River 85,000 to 90,000 men. For an advance from this point to Richmond he asked at first for a reinforcement of 50,000 men, as he wished to leave nothing to chance; but he was ready to undertake it with 20,000. He counted for success much on the effect of the battles that had been fought. There was reason to believe that the loss of the enemy greatly exceeded ours, and that portions of his army were much demoralized. The withdrawal of the army from the Peninsula was in opposition to his judgment; he thought that nearly every thing under the control of the Government should have been massed on the James River. After the withdrawal the whole available strength of the Army of the Potomac was sent to the support of the Army of Virginia under General Pope. General M'Clellan sent troops and supplies — every thing but his own guard. Arriving at Washington, he was ordered by General Halleck, on the 1st of September, to take comma nd of the defenses of the capital, but was prohibited from assuming any control of the troops under General Pope. He entered upon the campaign in Maryland without definite orders or instructions. That campaign shaped itself. When the time came, he went out. The tenor of General Halleck's dispatches was, however, that he was going too far from Washington. When he left the capital nothing definite was known of the design and position of the enemy. Our idea was to follow such a direction as to cover Washington, and, if necessary, Baltimore. An order issued to General Hill from General Lee, which was found at Frederick, showed that it was the object of the enemy to go to Pennsylvania if possible, or at all events to remain in Maryland. This was frustrated by the battles of South Mountain and Antietam. These actions are described at length by General M'Clellan. The essential points are, that at Antietam he had something over 90, 000 men, of whom 70,000 to 75,000 were engaged; that the enemy were "close upon 100,000;" that our loss was so great, and there was so much disorganization in some of the commands that he did not think it proper to renew the attack upon the following day, especially as he was sure of the arrival of two fresh corps of 15,000 men. He made arrangements for renewing the attack at daybreak on the 19th; but on the previous night the enemy abandoned his positions, and being unincumbered by wagons moved with great rapidity, and got across the river before we could do him any serious injury. "I think," says General M'Clellan, in concluding, "that taking, into consideration what the troops had gone through, we got as much out of them in the Antietam campaign as human endurance could bear." — The purport of General M'Clellan's testimony is that he found the army totally inefficient in discipline and equipment; that active operations were assumed as early as possible; that the movement on the Peninsula was judiciously planned, carried out with all possible energy, failed from causes over which he had no control, and was abandoned against his opinion when, with moderate reinforcements, there was a fair prospect of success.

Altogether different in tenor is the testimony of General Hooker. The leading points of this are embodied in the Report of the Committee as condensed in our last Record. He says that M'Clellan took 90,000 men; he joined him with 11,000, and Franklin's division was soon added. There were then from 8000 to 15,000 of the enemy at Yorktown. Heintzelman's corps could alone have gone right through the works and gained their rear. Their lines could have been pierced with inconsiderable loss. He would have got on the road between Yorktown and Richmond, and compelled them to fight on his ground, not their own. He describes the battle of Williamsburg, which he thinks the hardest fight during the war. He held his position against three or four times his number; the


condition of the roads being such that he could not get up his ammunition, his men standing their ground with the bayonet and such ammunition as they could collect from the cartridge-boxes of those who had fallen. But he held the enemy in a vice; their guns were commanded by his skirmishers, so that they could not fire. Heintzelman and Sumner, with their 30,000 men, could then have crossed the Peninsula through the enemy's line without losing ten men. This was not attempted, and during the night the enemy evacuated Williamsburg. General Hooker believes that we could have moved right on, and got into Richmond by the second day without another gun being fired. He learned from reliable sources that when the news of the battle of Williamsburg reached Richmond Jefferson Davis and Governor Letcher sent away their families and all the public archives, and only brought them back when it was found that the pursuit had ceased. He knows no good reason for the loss of time in advancing. He thinks also that after the battle of Fair Oaks a march upon Richmond would have succeeded. So, too, he says that if the defeat of the enemy at Malvern Hills had been followed up by our whole force Richmond would have been ours without a doubt. In fact he says that there was no time during the whole campaign in which he did not feel sure that we could go to Richmond. After the order was received to abandon Harrison's Landing he assured General M'Clellan that with the force we had Richmond could be taken, and offered to lead the advance. On returning to his camp he found an order from General M'Clellan to be ready with two days rations, and the usual supply of ammunition. He supposed that this order meant an advance upon Richmond. He had told General M 'Clellan that, if the attack was unsuccessful, it might cost him his head; but he might as well die for a sheep as for a lamb. — After the return of the army from the Peninsula to Alexandria, General Hooker thinks, though he "had no opportunity of knowing the facts in the case," that it might have given far more efficient support to General Pope. — General Hooker gives a detailed account of the battles of South Mountain and Antietam, at the latter of which he was severely wounded. When he left the field he was confident that a great victory had been gained; he thought that nothing could happen which would make it a drawn battle. — The prevailing tenor of General Hooker's testimony, as far as General M'Clellan's operations are concerned, may be summed up in a single sentence. In reply to the question to what he attributed the failure of the Peninsular campaign, he says, "I do not hesitate to say that it is to be attributed to the want of generalship on the part of our commander." — General Hooker's testimony in regard to the battle of Fredericksburg indicates — though his views are implied rather than expressed — that in his opinion the movement was badly planned, and that there was no reasonable prospect of success; the troops were put to a work that no men could do.