Thursday, January 30, 2014

James H. Kelly & Isaac T. Lawless, U. S. Signal Corps.

Part of a Letter written by B. B. Wood Jr., Late Captain and Bvt. Major, U. S. Vols.

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Previous to the engagement at this place, which occurred June 17, 1862, the infantry under Col. Fitch had been landed on the west bank of the river, which was covered with woods, the transports at the same time taking position on the east side.

The gunboats then proceeded up the river to begin the attack, the Mound City being in advance. Lieut. Caldwell was stationed with the transports, Lieut. Gray accompanied the infantry, and the writer took his station on the Mound City. As soon as the latter came within range 'the rebels opened on her from the heavy guns on the bluff, which were well concealed by the intervening trees and shrubbery, the Mound City replying with her bow guns as soon as she could see the smoke from the enerny's guns. In rounding a slight bend of the river the Mound City was struck by a solid shot on the port side near the bow where there was no iron armor, which, after piercing her side and killing two or three men, penetrated the boilers, causing the steam to escape and scalding nearly the whole crew. Many jumped out of the port-holes into the river to avoid the steam, some being drowned and others shot, while a few succeeded in reaching the shore or were picked up by the small boats from the other gunboats.

Some of the rebels came down to the brink of the river to fire at our men swimming in the waterr, while their batteries continued to pour in grape and canister. Col. Fitch now requested the gunboats to cease firing, while he assaulted the rebel works from the rear with his infantry. He took them by surprise, capturing nine guns and thirty prisoners, including Col. Frye, the commanding officer.  while some of our men were swimming in the water a very gallant act was performed by a little tugboat accompanying the expedition, carrying a small brass howitzer, with a crew of only two men. She rushed to the rescue while the Mound City was drifting helplessly down stream, and at short range fired two or three charges of canister into the rebels along the bank.

Of a crew consisting of one hundred and eighty men on the Mound City hardly thirty escaped death, many of the scalded lingering one or two days in great agony. The Signal Corps lost an excellent man in this fight in the person of Isaac Lawless, who was so badly scalded that he died soon after on the gunboat Conestoga on his way to the hospital at Memphis. He was wrapped in his blanket by his comrade J. H. Kelly, and laid to rest with twenty-six of the crew of the Mound City on the east bank of the Mississippi river, a little above Island No. 68.

New York State Records.
JAMES H. KELLY, was not found on the roster

LAWLESS, ISAAC.—Age, 19 years. Enlisted, September 23, 1861, at Albany, to serve three years; mustered in as private, Co. E, October 3, 1861; killed on board Mound City, Mississippi River, June I8, 1862, born as Isaac T. Lawless.

Records of U. S. Signal Corps.
KELLY, JAMES H., Sergt. . . 175 Hamilton St., Albany, N. Y. Transferred from 44th N. Y. Vols.; Albany, N. Y.; detailed Dec, 1861, to Camp of Instruction, Georgetown, D. C; March, 1862, to Mil. Div. of the West; April 1, Gen. Ilalleck's hdqrs., St. Louis, Mo.; April 6, Pittsburg Landing, Tenn.; camp at Paducah, Ky.; June 6, with fleet in Miss, river, at Memphis; June, exp. up White river, Ark, on gunboat "Mound City"; June 17, engagement near St. Charles; Memphis, Tenn.; Columbus, Ky.; Cincinnati, Ohio; Oct. 1, 20th A. C, Dept- of Cumb., near Louisville, Ky.; battle of Perryville; pursuit of Bragg through Ky.; Nashville, Tenn.; battle f)f Murfreesboro; 18G3, Stevenson, Ala.; Alpine, Ga. ; Sept., Chattanooga, Tenn.; Moccasin Point sta.; Dec, Knoxville, Tenn.; Jan. 14, 1864, transf. to S. C; Feb., promoted to sergt.; Atlanta campaign ; 1865, Mil. Div. ot Gulf; New Orleans, La.; Houston, Tex.; disch. at Austin, Tex., March 8, 1866; bvt.-lieut. N. G., S. N. Y.
ISAAC T. LAWLESS. Killed White River, Ark; June 17, 1862.  Detailed 44TH., N. Y Vols.; Clinton Hollow, N. Y..; April 1, 1861, reported to Gen. Halleck at St. Louis, Mo., Dept. of Cumb.; April6, Pittsburg Landing, Tenn.; June 17, Scalded on "Mound City.".

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