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On the 20th, the regiment returned to its old camp at Baton Rouge. The army, with the exception of the first and third brigades of Gen. Augur, was transferred to New Orleans and Brashear City, preparatory to the campaign in Western Louisiana. With this reduction of the force at Baton Rouge, the picket-line was considerably shortened; and, on the 4th of April, the brigade moved to new quarters in the more thickly settled portions of the town. No variation from the usual routine of camp-duties occurred until the 18th of May, when the regiment was ordered to report to Col. Dudley, then in command of the third brigade, in camp at Merritt's Plantation.
On the 21st, the whole force of Gen. Augur having been brought together, the line of march was taken for Port Hudson. About ten, A.M., a rebel battery at the Plains Store opened upon our column, the third brigade having the advance. This was silenced, and in the afternoon we occupied the open ground near the store. A section of Arnold's battery was put upon the road leading directly from the store into Port Hudson; and the Fortyeighth was taken by Gen. Augur to the support of this section, the right of the regiment resting in the woods on the right of the road, and the left of the regiment on the left of the road, with orders to bivouac there for the night. It had hardly taken its position when the enemy opened upon it with shot and shell from covered
guns. The men were ordered to lie down, as Col. Stone was told that the scouts of the One Hundred and Seventy-fourth New-York were out on his left flank, and the Illinois cavalry upon his right, and that his position was well secured against surprise. But, while the enemy's guns opened in front, a column of infantry passed through the woods to his left, and partially to the rear of the Forty-eighth, and suddenly, with a yell, opened a heavy fire of musketry upon it at short range. The men, surprised by this unexpected attack, were thrown into some confusion, but soon rallied, and fell back to the Plains Store. The One Hundred and Sixteenth New-York and the Forty-ninth Massachusetts were then ordered into the woods; when the enemy drew off towards Port Hudson, and no further resistance was made outside of the intrenchments. This was the first time the regiment was under fire: it lost two killed, seven wounded, and eleven prisoners.
While Gen. Augur and Gen. Sherman approached from the river below, the first on the Bayou-Sara Road, and the other on the Springfield-Landing Road, Gen. Banks had passed down the Red River, and crossed the Mississippi above Port Hudson. Com.
munication with Gen. Banks was now established. On Sunday, May 25, Gen. Augur's division moved up from the Plains Store towards the intrenchments, but encountered no opposition. The different divisions having taken their positions around the intrenchments, a general assault was ordered on Wednesday, May 27. A call was made in Gen. Augur's division for volunteers to a storming-party of two hundred men. From the Forty-eighth, ninety-two men volunteered, among whom was Lieut.-Col. O'Brien, four captains, eleven lieutenants, fourteen non-commissioned officers, and sixty-three privates. The storming-party was to precede the line of battle; one hundred men carrying fascines to fill the ditch, and one hundred armed to mount the enemy's works. But the nature of the ground was such, that these and the regiments soon became mixed up, and made the advance together. In this battle, the Forty-eighth lost seven killed and mortally wounded, and forty-one wounded. Among those killed was Lieut.-Col. O'Brien. He fell early in the engagement, pierced by a rifle-shot, as he turned to cheer forward the storming-party which he was leading He was a brave soldier, a generous companion and friend, and a true-hearted patriot. His body was taken from the field, and sent to New Orleans, where it was interred.
On the 5th of June, the regiment was sent to Plains Store, on rear-guard duty. On the 14th, it formed a part of an assaulting column under Col. Benedict, losing two men killed, and eleven wounded.
July 9, our forces marched. That evening, the entire division of Gen. Augur embarked for Donaldsonville, under command of Gen. Weitzel. A few miles below the fort, the rebels had planted batteries behind the levee to cut off communication with New Orleans. Here the division disembarked on the 10th. On the 13th, an engagement took place between the enemy and a detachment of our forces under Col. Dudley, on the right of Bayou Lafourche; and another detachment, under Col. Morgan, on the left of the bayou. Our forces fell back under orders not to bring on a general engagement.
Col. Dudley's men, being exposed to a flank-fire, suffered considerably. The Forty-eighth lost three men killed and seven wounded, and twenty-three prisoners. These latter, except Lieuts. Wilson and Bassett, were paroled, and returned to the regiment. The enemy soon after left the river.
On Saturday, Aug. 1, the regiment returned to its camp at Baton Rouge, having left it seventy-four days previous in light marching-order.
Aug. 9, the regiment went aboard the transport “Sunny South," and on the morning of the 10th sailed for Cairo, where it arrived Aug. 17. The transportation from this point to Boston was by railroad, where it arrived on Sunday morning, Aug. 23. A fur. lough was given the men to Sept. 3, when the regiment was mustered out of service at Camp Lander.
FORTY-NINTH, FIFTIETH, AND FIFTY-FIRST REGIMENTS.
The Forty-ninth ordered to New York. – Goes to New Orleans. - At Port Hudson.
At Donaldsonville. Returns to Pittsfield. — The Fiftieth ordered to report to Gen. Banks. — Sails for the Department of the Gulf. - Port Hudson. Starts for Massachusetts. — Passage delayed. — The Fifty-first and Col. Sprague. — Goes to Newbern. - A Test of Patriotism in South Carolina. - Home.
THE Forty-ninth Regiment was almost exclusively a Berkshire
County regiment. A camp was established at Pittsfield, and named Camp Briggs, in honor of Brig.-Gen. Briggs, formerly colonel of the Tenth Regiment, who had been promoted for his gallantry on the field.
We add its roster:-
William F. Bartlett.
Capt. W. F. Bartlett, a young and meritorious officer of the Twentieth Regiment, was appointed commandant of the camp. He had lost a leg at the battle of Fair Oaks, Va. When the regiment was recruited to the full standard, Capt. Bartlett was elected colonel; and, notwithstanding the loss of a limb, he accepted the position.
The Forty-ninth received marching orders, Nov. 21, to report in New York to Brig.-Gen. Andrews. It was detained there and at Long Island, waiting for transportation.
It soon began to earn a reputation for good discipline, and was kept by Gen. Andrews doing provost-guard duty in New York until all the other regiments of the Banks Expedition had been sent forward. An effort was made by the Provost- Marshal-General to retain it in New York during its entire term of service.
On the 24th of January, 1863, the regiment was sent to New Orleans in the steamer Illinois," and from there to Carrollton, and then to Baton Rouge, where it was attached to the first brigade, Col. Chapin commanding, Gen. Augur's division.
March 14, the regiment participated in the feigned advance of Gen. Banks's forces on Port Hudson, and in the retreat was left at Bayou Montecino to hold the bridge until all the baggagetrains had passed over. It shortly after returned to Baton Rouge, and for some time had no active service, except in doing guard-duty to baggage-trains, and acting as provost-guard in Baton Rouge.
About the middle of May, the regiment advanced with Gen. Augur's division towards Port Hudson; and, May 21, it participated in tlfe battle of the Plains Store, and won Gen. Augur's commendation; especially distinguishing itself by its steadiness under fire, and by its promptness in re-forming its lines when broken by the basty retreat of another regiment. In this affair, only five of the regiment were wounded. Among them was Lieut. Joseph Tucker, acting aide-de-camp to Col. Chapin, commanding the brigade. He was struck in the knee by a shell, and, in consequence of the wound, lost his leg.
May 27, the regiment participated in the first assault upon Port Hudson, in which it lost seventy-six killed and wounded, being one-third of the regiment engaged; three companies having been on special service. The regiment lost in this assault as large a proportion as any other regiment, and established its reputation for cool and steady bravery. The heroic and intrepid Col. Bartlett was unfortunately shot through the wrist and heel early in the engagement, while leading the regiment to the assault on horseback. Lieut.-Col. Sumner was wounded in the shoulder about the same time. Lieuts. Judd and Deming were killed while gallantly cheering on their men. Eleven of the eighteen officers with the regiment were hit. The command of the regiment devolved on Major Plunkett, after the wounding of his superior officers, and continued under his command during the remainder of its term of service, a command which he held with great credit to himself, and honor to the regiment.
On the 14th of June, it made, with the rest of Augur's division, a feigned assault upon the rebel works, and lost eighteen men killed and wounded. During the entire investment of Port Hudson, the regiment was in the front, supporting batteries, and engaged in other duties of the siege, until July 9, 1863. Immedi