|Again we steamed down the Mississippi, this time clear to the Gulf of Mexico. As land faded from sight, we began feeling the heave of the waves and many of us were soon in the throes of seasickness. We sadly wondered what would become of us. Our misery ended after awhile, for the steamer paused at Dauphin Island, remaining here for about three weeks. Here we had a very enjoyable time. In places the water about the island was quite shallow, and in places we waded in and fished oysters by hand. The fine sea air together with the change of diet worked wonders in our general health, and we approved greatly during our short stay. The 81st Illinois regiment was stationed on another island in the immediate vicinity, so one day the soldiers, Ole and Sam Hegland, came over and paid us a visit.
Our joyful three weeks quickly came to an end, and we were now scheduled to undertake the capture of Mobile, Alabama. There were two forts at Mobile, one called Fort Blakely and the other the Spanish Fort. Our voyage from Dauphin Island was described as follows by a poet in our regiment:
On March the 20th we did start
From sandy Dauphin Island;
From oysters there we had to part,
The ocean waves were silent.
Up the Fish River we did steam
Making a great commotion;
We crooked and turned and turned again,
But, oh, how slow each motion.
But by and by we came to stop
At a place that seemed forsaken,
It was Sibleys Mill and off we got
And ate some tack and bacon.
And soon went into camp
Amongst the southern pines,
And rested there a week or so
With naught to cheer the time.
On March the 25th, you know,
We started once again
To go and fight the rebel foe,
With many to be slain.
While 2 divisions, 16 corps,
Were doing picket duty,
Old General Steele began to roar
Upon the noted Blakely.
Now 2 divisions leaves the Spanish Fort
And draws up nearer Blakely,
And 2 divisions there must work;
Well, we did it up quite meekly.
I cannot now recall any more of this so called poem, but the poet goes on and tells about the good work done by our army.
For some reason or another, the rebels left the Spanish Fort and withdrew to Fort Blakely. We had thus only one fort to capture instead of two. We commenced the bombardment on Fort Blakely April 3rd, and continued until April 9th, when the final charge was made.
There were numberless torpedoes planted in our way to the fort, and all the trees were chopped down and the limbs sharpened. It was very difficult for us to get through, and while we were crawling slowly forward between the various obstructions, sharpened branches and all, the enemy had the advantage of being able to fire much more rapidly than we. What worried us most of all was a great big cannon place directly in front of us which would be sure to belch forth grapeshot into us the moment we came within proper range. But thanks to our battalion behind, they also dreaded those "grapes" so they fired directly at the monstrous thing and finally succeeded in hitting the axle which broke, causing the muzzle to sag downward. This silenced it forever. We now felt safer. One cannon further up the front, similar to the one mentioned, was fired with disastrous effect, killing 14 of our men in one discharge.
The fort was duly captured and we took practically the whole garrison, 30,000 in number, prisoners. In fact we took all, save a few who jumped into the Alabama River and were drowned, or with the rare exception of a few who were able to swim across and thus escape.
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