The East Pascagoula Raid
At the beginning of the second week of April, there was a brief interlude in the garrison's monotonous routine of guard, drill, and fatigue. On the 8th, the steamer General Banks arrived from New Orleans. She tied-up at the wharf and was boarded by Colonel Daniels and 180 officers and men of Companies B and C, 2d Regiment Louisiana Native Guards. One of Vincennes' 12-pounder boat howitzers was also sent aboard, and at 2 p.m. the transport cast-off from Ship Island and anchored for the night near Horn Island.
Soon after daybreak on the 9th, John P. Jackson rendezvoused with General Banks. The two vessels then crossed the sound, conning a course toward East Pascagoula. The gunboat sent her crew to "General Quarters," cast loose her guns, and anchored 1,200 yards offshore. General Banks then ran in against the long wharf, and Colonel Daniels and his men landed and took possession of the village. Several of the blacks hastened to the large frame hotel and unfurled the United States flag.
As soon as they had recovered from their surprise, the Confederates launched a counterattack aimed at driving the invaders into the sea. The Native Guards more than held their own, and the Southerners were driven back with the loss of a number of dead and wounded, and a stand of colors.
At 2:00 p.m., Colonel Daniels, having learned that Confederate reinforcements were approaching, recalled his men. Upon retiring, the soldiers made for a short wharf, to the west of the long wharf. J. P. Jackson, sent to cover the retreat, opened fire. A projectile from the rifled 6-inch gun fell short, exploded with a roar, and killed 4 and wounded 5 of the soldiers. The Native Guard, despite the accident and hurried evacuation, did not panic. As soon as the men were aboard, General Banks, escorted by the gunboat, returned to Ship Island, the two companies going ashore immediately.
The 2d Regiment thus became the first black unit on the Gulf Frontier, during the Civil War, to meet the Confederates in battle. The honor of being the first black Civil War unit to engage the Rebels belongs to the 1st Kansas Colored Infantry, which fought the foe at Island Mound, Missouri, on October 29, 1862.
18. John P. Jackson & Vincennes Logs, April 8-9, 1863, NA, RG 24; Official Records, Series 1, Vol. LV, pt. 1,p. 61; Post Returns, Ship Island, April 1863, NA, Microcopy M-617; Muster Rolls & Returns, 74th USCT, NA, RG 94. In the skirmishing preceding the evacuation, the battalion lost 2 dead and 5 wounded. On the 10th, the 12-pounder howitzer was returned to Vincennes and General Banks returned to New Orleans.
Did You Know?
Gulf Islands National Seashore's Fort Massachusetts, on West Ship Island 12 miles off the Mississippi coastline, was covered by the 30-foot storm surge from Hurricane Katrina on August 29, 2005. The fort has been reopened to the public.