"Never did an undertaking at its commencement appear more auspicious or one which ended more disastrously."


CAPT. RUGELEY'S REPORT ON THE MATAGORDA INCIDENT
 

Contributed by Jane R. Rakestraw in the Matagorda County Genealogical Society Publication, Oak Leaves, Vol. 10 #2,  February 1991
 

 

HEADQUARTERS--MATAGORDA, January 4, 1864

 

 

SIR: In the afternoon of Dec. 30th I received a communication from Captain (James R.) Marmion, of the steam gunboat John F. Carr through Captain Crofts, of the steamer Cora, that if I should hear any firing from the Carr to come over or send a detachment of 30 men.

 

Not long after receiving this intelligence I heard several guns from the Carr which was then lying in the bay near the peninsula and opposite the town of Matagorda. I immediately placed my men, consisting of 1 lieutenant, 4 non-commissioned officers, and 35 privates together with 3 volunteers from the town of Matagorda (commanded by myself), on board of the Cora and started from the wharf for the Carr, which I reached about sunset. Upon consultation with Captains Marmion and Hall it was agreed that we should make a night attack upon the enemy's encampment or entrenchment, provided we deemed it prudent after reconnoitering.

 

The plan was to land our forces, consisting of my own men and 15 from the gunboats, including officers, on the peninsula by the small boats; move up to within a safe distance, reconnoiter, and if prudent, make the attack. The steamers Carr and Cora were lying at anchor about 1,000 to 1,200 yards from the peninsula about 10 o'clock p.m., and after running half way to the shore a most terrific norther began to blow, which induced us to abandon the attack and order a return to the steamers.

 

The boat in which were Captains Marmion, Hall, (H. S.) Lubbock, and myself, together with Mr. Wilcox, of the Signal Corps, and three others, succeeded in reaching the steamers. The two other boats filled and sank and 18 of my men were lost, together with the 3 volunteers above mentioned, to wit: Sergeants Matthews and Jones; Corporal McKinley; Privates McKinley, Conner, J. and F. Secrist, Thomas Wadsworth, James Seaborn, May , Meneley, Walton, A. C .Johnson, Hines, Gibson, Copeland and Howell; George M. Bowie has not been found, but no doubt was drowned; volunteers, James Rugeley, Duggan and Lake. Fifteen minutes longer and the whole party would have landed, and I believe we could have taken the enemy, as they numbered but few, if any, more than we did.

 

When our men who escaped drowning reached their entrenchments, about 12 o'clock m., their fires were still burning. While attempting to reach the steamers several of my men discharged their guns, and immediately rockets were thrownup from their steamers on the outside and I think at that time the enemy left their entrenchments. Never did an undertaking at its commencement appear more auspicious or one which ended more disastrously. As I am now too few in numbers to discharge my duties fully at this post, I would be glad to have Lieutenant Davis relieved at Elliott's Ferry by a company or detachment. Let him return to his company.

 

Very respectfully, your

obedient servant

 

E. S. Rugeley

Captain, Company D,

Brown's Regiment T. C.

 


 

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