May 14, 1864 (cont’d)
From Louisianna we hear that Banks has retreated to Alexandria. The Yankee Gunboat Eastport has been blown up & two transport’s captured. The remainder of the fleet is above the Rapids with no chance of escaping. Taylor had captured four thousand prisoners. Price’s success was complete. Marmaduke had captured Steele’s white waggon train. Steele was surrounded. Price demanded his surrender. He acceeded on condition that the negroes be treated as prisoners of war. Price refused & the terms were referred to Kirby Smith who replied “that the negroes should be sent to their owners.” Steele refused to capitulate. Smith was reinforcing Price & it was thought Steele would soon be glad to accept the rejected terms as he was surrounded & without supplies. We have retaken Fort De Russy & Cheneville. The enemy made a stand at Markham but were defeated with heavy loss. Their reinforcements by the river were driven back at Fort de Russy, four gunboats were burned above the falls, & Walker had crossed Red River & was marching South in pursuit of the retreating army. The destruction of property has been immense. Our forces burned the cotton, in anticipation of the enemy’s advance, & the Yankees destroyed private property, dwellings, barns, Gins, Churches — everything in short which could be burned in revenge. The course of their army is a blackened desert, women & children turned out homeless & desolate to perish by the wayside!
In N C Gen Hoke invested New Berne & delayed his attack for the arrival of the Albermarle when heavy firing told him she was engaged on her own element & in the mean time came “the necessity for him to move off,” which we interpret to mean orders to leave New Berne & concentrate in Va, which he has now done. Before marching he tried a coup de main & summoned the garrison to surrender. They demanded four hours to consider it but unfortunately discovered before the time had expired that we were preparing to move off and so refused and Hoke had not time to make them, or in the words of the Courier to give them another “Hoke ache” (hoe cake). He cut their communications with Morehead City & but for the attack on the Albemarle in all probability New Berne would have been in our hands before he was ordered to Richmond as their force is but a small one. Amongst the prisoners captured at Plymouth was the brother of Mrs. Hamilton Polk — Beach of Hartford the second in command. A comentary on this war truly — Brother seems against Brother, tho in this instance it is against brother-in-Law.
Flusser was not, it appears, the immaculate man of honour the Yankees represented him. It admits of proof that with his own commissioned hand he stole Miss Russel’s watch & the inside, the works & jewels, of her sister Mrs Griffin’s from the watch maker’s in Hertford where they had been sent for repair. The jeweler secreted the case of Mrs G’s watch, he having the interior in his work bench in the act of repairing it when Lieut Commander Flusser USN came into his shop & took it. Miss Russel is now residing temporarily in Scotland Neck with my neighbor Mrs Whitaker & her exclamation on hearing of his death was “well now I hope he will have to answer for stealing my watch”! Pattie tells me that he has been seen to chase chickens through the streets of Hertford in full uniform — actually to sully his commissin by chicken stealing! He met his death whilst attempting to drop a bombshell down the smoke stack of the Albermarle! Whilst lighting a slow match the shell exploded in his hand and he was blown into peices.
The official Dispatch of Capt Cooke’s late fight tells us that he encountered nine of the enemy’s Gunboats, two of them very large, from the blockading Squadron. He sunk the largest, disabled two others without serious injury to the Albemarle, but lost his tender. We heard of seven gunboats & four small steamers, but it seems he has done better. The iron clad built at Wilmington, “the Raleigh,” bearing the broad person of Com Lynch steamed out of Cape Fear & dispersed the blockading squadron there, much to the astonishment of the Yankees. She thinks she disabled one as a shot struck her fairly. She was out for hours & not a Yankee came in sight after their flight until she was back in the river again.
Source: Edmondston, Catherine Ann Devereux, 1823-1875, Journal of a Secesh Lady: The Diary of Catherine Ann Devereux Edmondston 1860-1866. Crabtree, Beth G and Patton, James W., (Raleigh, NC: North Carolina Division of Archives and History, 1979).http://nc-historical-publications.stores.yahoo.net/478.html