Tullifinny Crossroads

Failure to reach the Charleston & Savannah Railroad via the Broad River prompted Adm Dahlgren and Gen Foster to try a different route. On December 5 the Fleet Bde and a brigade of infantry were transported up the Tullifinny River to Devaux's Neck, where they were to advance inland to destroy the Tullifinny River bridge. Disembarking at Gregory's Landing, the infantry advanced first with the naval brigade following behind. The expedition quickly came into contact with a motley assortment of Confederate state militia and cadets, but once again failed to reach their objective; the Marine battalion took little part in this action. At daylight the next morning the Confederates counter-attacked, driving back the troops to the right of Co C of the Marine battalion and effectively cutting diem off from the rest of the force. However, Ensign Carter, who commanded this company, managed to extricate it with the loss of only one man wounded.

The next day a third attempt was made to destroy the railroad bridge, by clearing several 100-foot wide lines of fire through the woods to allow the Federal artillery to shell the railroad. The Marines occupied the extreme right of the 600-man Federal "skirmish brigade," struggling waist-deep through tangled swampland. The skirmishers were supported by another thousand Army troops, who were followed in their turn by the axe-wielding 25th Ohio Infantry, who were tasked with felling trees to form the required lines of lire.

Advancing within 50 yards of the enemy positions, Stoddard's Marines did not receive the order for skirmishers to withdraw once a sufficient number of trees had been felled, and became isolated when the troops to their left pulled back. Fortunately, the dense swamp prevented the Confederates from overrunning his position, and Stoddard managed to get his men back to their own lines, where they were assigned a new post on the Federal left. Thereafter the operation settled into a stalemate. With

Charles Anding

Pte Charles Learnan, a survivor of the bungled [anding at Fort Sumter in September 1863, left an eyewitness account of the US flag being raised over the ruins once more on April 14, 1865. Note the bugle horn ornament on his fatigue cap, and the plain plate on his waist belt. The tie is a civilian item. (USAMHI)

Pte Charles Learnan, a survivor of the bungled [anding at Fort Sumter in September 1863, left an eyewitness account of the US flag being raised over the ruins once more on April 14, 1865. Note the bugle horn ornament on his fatigue cap, and the plain plate on his waist belt. The tie is a civilian item. (USAMHI)

Sherman's seizure of Savannah on December 21, and die subsequent Confederate retreat, the expedition's continued presence on the Carolina coast was no longer a priority. Six days later the Marines and seamen were transported back to Bay Point; the sailors were dispersed to their respective vessels, while the Marines went into camp. On January 5, 1865, the Marine battalion was disbanded, the ship's guards returning to their posts. Stoddard's battalion had lost 23 killed, wounded and missing during their six weeks of service. Considering that the force had been assembled from very small detachments from a dozen vessels, and that the Marines' battalion drill was the work of a single afternoon, its members had performed far better than expected.

The Broad River expedition represented the last large-scale Marine field operation within the area of the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron. The focus of coastal action moved northward with the advance of Sherman's armies, and many of the Marines who had gained experience in Adm Dahlgren's Fleet Bde would go on to serve with the ill-fated naval column in the bloody assault on Fort Fisher, NC, in early 1865.

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