Following the American Civil War Sesquicentennial with day by day writings of the time, currently 1863.

Post image for Diary of Gideon Welles.

Diary of Gideon Welles.

September 22, 2013

Diary of Gideon Welles

September 22, Tuesday. But little additional intelligence from Rosecrans and the South. We have information of a failure on our part at Sabine Pass, where an attempt was made to capture formidable batteries with frail boats, the army as spectators. The expedition appears to have been badly conceived, planned, and executed. A large military force was sent to take these batteries. Neither General Halleck nor the Secretary of War consulted the Navy in this matter. General Banks appears to have originated it, and made a requisition on Commodore Bell, who readily responded, in the absence of Farragut, with light boats built for transporting passengers in Northern rivers. Admiral Farragut was at the Navy Department when dispatches were received from Commodore Bell, stating that application for cooperation and aid had been made on him, and how he had answered the call. When Farragut read the dispatch, he laid down the paper and said to me: “The expedition will be a failure. The army officers have an impression that naval vessels can do anything; this call is made for boats to accompany an army expedition; it is expected the Navy will capture the batteries, and, the army being there in force with a general in command, they will take the credit. But there will be no credit in the case, and you may expect to hear of disaster. These boats which Bell has given them cannot encounter batteries; they might cooperate with and assist the army, but that is evidently not the object. The soldiers should land and attack in the rear, and the vessels aid them in front. But that is not the army plan. The soldiers are not to land until the Navy had done an impossibility, with such boats. Therefore there will be disaster.” The news of to-day verifies his prediction. This Sabine expedition was substituted, I suppose, for that of Indianola, which I suggested, and we may now have the promised word of General Halleck. He will have heard from Banks.

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