Wednesday, August 15, 2012

August 16, 1862 (Sunday): Episode on the Brazos

Fort Velasco-Click to Englarge (Google Earth)

Velasco, Tex., August 16, 1862.
    SIR: I have the honor to report operations at this post, resulting in a collision with the enemy, on the afternoon of the 11th instant:
    About 4 p. m. of that day a screw-propeller of about 800 tons burden, two-masted, and marked with a figure 5 on her smoke-stack, steamed slowly in from the eastward, and when opposite the battery at this place, immediately outside the bar, opened fire, without showing colors or giving any notice of her intentions. Her fire was promptly responded to, and after firing four times and receiving five shots from us she drew out of range and disappeared down the coast. It is believed that our third shot took effect. We sustained no damage. A 13-inch shell, which failed to explode, was picked up by our men. One other shell exploded in our camp; the others went overhead and struck some distance out in the prairie. I am confident that if we had had even a single piece of heavy ordnance she could have been disabled. Of late the vessels which pass here have been coming much nearer the shore than formerly. This may result from their having adopted more hostile intentions, but I think it is due in part from a knowledge (how acquired I know not) of our defenseless condition. A late freshet in the Brazos River has considerably deepened the water on the bar at the mouth. Vessels are constantly receiving permits to proceed to sea from this port, and lie in the river above awaiting a favorable opportunity to run the blockade, and a well-sustained attack from the sea might well result in great loss both to Government and individuals.
    Allow me to respectfully urge upon your consideration that there are quite a number of heavy pieces of ordnance now in this department dismounted and not in use, which, if placed in battery here, could defend my position and our foreign trade, and save my command from this now constant source of annoyance, which, although as yet resulting in no damage, might at any time become fraught with humiliation and disaster. I have but one 18-pounder gun in battery at this place. I ask, if compatible with the interests of the service, a 32 rifled cannon, a 64-pounder, or both. If granted, they will do good service ere long, should we continue to be menaced and insulted by our vaunting foe.
    If they are needed at more important points they can be promptly forwarded.
    Very respectfully,

Colonel, Commanding.

*Not found.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 9, Part 1, Page 616.

Fort Velasco was an 8 gun battery commanding the entrance of the Brazos River.  It held out despite frequent attempts by Union ships to shell it.  In the photo above (click to enlarge) the fort was in the undeveloped square under the coordinates.


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