Thursday, June 25, 2009

A Northern Account of the Battle of Natural Bridge


The article below appeared in The New York Times on March 23, 1865. It was written on March 12, 1865, just six days after the Battle of Natural Bridge, by a reporter in Key West. To learn more about the battle, please visit www.exploresouthernhistory.com/nbindex.

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Key West, Florida
March 12, 1865

The military expedition which left this place some two weeks since, returned yesterday, having been unsuccessful in accomplishing its object – the release of some 3,000 Union prisoners at Thomasville, near the southern boundary of Georgia. It consisted of portions of three regiments – the Second United States Colored Infantry, Col. Townsend, the Ninety-ninth United States Colored Infantry, Lieut.-Col. Pearsall, the Second Florida Cavalry, dismounted, Maj. Weeks, and numbered about 1,000 effective men, the whole under the immediate command of Brig.-Gen. Newton.

The troops landed near the mouth of the St. Mark’s River, and moved up the east bank, over a muddy road, skirted by impenetrable swamps. At Newport, some twenty miles up, the enemy made a stand, but, after a short skirmish, retreated across the river and burned the bridge. Here was a foundry for the manufacture of shot and shell, which was burned; also a saw and grist mill, and several dwellings. Being unable to cross at this point, the troops moved up to within about two miles of another bridge, and camped for the night. Early in the morning skirmishers were sent forward to the bridge, fourteen miles from Tallahassee, and by 8 o’clock the whole force was up.

The battle commenced in earnest about noon of the 6th, and continued until 4 P.M. The Second United States Colored Infantry were in front, followed by the Ninety-ninth. The Second Florida remained at Newport, to protect the rear. On account of the delay in landing, the enemy had gained time to concentrate their forces, consequently they met us with superior numbers and heavier artillery. An attempt was made about 12 o’clock to turn the right flank of the enemy, but the flanking column, composed of four companies of the Second United States Colored Infantry, were brought up, after a few minutes’ march, by an old canal, which they were unable to cross. Here they fought until about 3 P.M. when they fell back to the main body on the road. Upon this the enemy attempted an advance, but were repulsed with heavy loss – a piece of artillery which we had captured, in addition to our own battery, opening upon them with canister at short range. But it being found impossible to advance further, and our own supplies being limited, a retreat was ordered – the forces returning with little interruption, save the badness of the roads.
The following list of casualties is as complete as I can make it at present:

KILLED.

Lieut. E. Carrington, A.D.C.
First Lieut. E.K. Landfield, 99th U.S.C.I.

WOUNDED.

Col. B.R. Townsend, 2nd U.S.C.I. – arm, slightly.
Maj. B.C. Lincoln, 2nd U.S.C.I. – groin – since died.
Capt. S.J. Grant, 99th U.S.C.I. – head.
Capt. E.B. Tracy, 2nd U.S.C.I. – thigh, dangerously.
First Lieut. C. Seymour, 2nd U.S.C.I. – breast.
First Lieut. O.H. Carpenter, 2nd U.S.C.I. – arm.
Second Lieut. T.H. Murphy, 2nd U.S.C.I. – artery cut – since died.
Second Lieut. G.W. Woodward, 2nd U.S.C.I. – lost an eye.

The casualties among the enlisted men, of which I can give no detailed account, will not exceed 100, including killed, wounded and missing. The loss of the enemy must have been nearly, if not quite equal to our own.

Maj. Lincoln, who was wounded early in the fight, was as noble as he was brave. He was among the foremost in the conflict, until a fragment of shell inflicted the fatal wound….

1 comment:

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