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landed a force about two miles below the fort, but they mad% no demonstration until about nine or ten o'clock the next morning, when they commenced shelling the fort from their advance gun-boats that were cautiously and slowly feeling their way up the river.
Our troops held the position first taken -by them until about four o'clock, P. M., when the Genera], fearing a flank movement on our left, ordered the men to fall back to a line of entrenchments near the yet unfinished fort, which line was speedily completed and all the troops properly distributed before night set in. Just as darkness was drawing near, four gun-boats approached the fort and commenced their bombardment, our guns from the fort answering. gallantly, and after two hours' terrific shelling, the gun-boats retired, one of them, the Eastport, badly disabled. Our loss up to this time consisted of only three killed and some three or four wounded.
The next morning at ten o'clock the enemy renewed the attack with gun-boats and land forces combined. They had also erected a battery on the opposite side of the river, by mean3 of which they kept up a terrible cross-fire that swept the whole area of ground occupied by our men. The firing continued until about four o'clock in the evening, when General Churchill, seeing his defences exposed to a raking fire and storming parties closing upon his rear, surrendered, General McClernand taking the whole force, making more than three1 thousand men prisoners. Our loss in killed and wounded was not two hundred men.
The results of this success of the Yankees were many thou* sand prisoners of war, and a fortified point guarding the navigation of the Arkansas river, and shutting out its commerce from the Mississippi. But the prospect which they indulged of ascending without interruption to Little Rock and taking full possession of the Arkansas capital, was rather premature.
There is nothing yet important to record of the operations of the immense fleets of the enemy collected on our coast in the winter of 1862. The armadas were as yet silent. For months a large fleet of the enemy had been at the mouth of Charleston harbour or picketed off the coast.
On the 30th of January the Confederate rams in the harbour of Charleston, under command of Capt. Ingraham, had made a sally towards the enemy's fleet. The success of this sally was ignorantly exaggerated by the Confederates, and a claim made that the blockade had been raised, which pretention was afterwards abandoned. The fact was that one of the Yankee vessels—the Mercedita—was seriously injured, and another—the Keystone State—got a shot through her steam drum, causing the death of twenty-one persons. The Mercedita was saved by the treachery of the Yankees, who represented the ship to be in a sinking condition, thus deceiving the Confederates as to the extent of the damage they had inflicted. She steamed down to Port Royal, after our rams had left her, under the supposition that she was sinking in shoal Water. Her commander had called out, "We are in a sinking Condition," and the reply of Capt. Ingraham was that she could only sink as far as her rails, and we could not take her crew aboard. A mean and cowardly falsehood saved the vessel; but in Yankee estimation the triumphs of such villainy •Were quite equal to the congratulations of a victory.
Our victory at Galveston, of which we have given some account, was the precursor of other captures of the enemy's vessels, which were important accessions to our little navy. That arm of service, in which we were so deficient, and had shown such aptitude for self-destruction, was not entirely powerless; for we not only had rams for harbour defences and three fleet privateers at sea, but our power on the water was enlarged even beyond our expectations, as we shall see, by Captures from the enemy.
The Yankee gun-boat Queen of the West, having succeeded in running our batteries at Vicksburg, had for some weeks been committing ravages, penetrating the country of the Red river. On the 14th of February she encountered in this river and captured a small Confederate steamer, the Era. The crew and passengers of the Era were taken prisoners, and all were guarded on board the Era by a band of soldiers, save Mr. George Wood, the pilot, who was ordered aboard the Queen of the West, and, with threats, directed to her pilot wheel to assist her pilot in directing her onward to the capture of our fort on the river. On they glided, but not distrustful, and much elated at their success, till they came in reach of our battery at five P. M., when the vessel commenced firings still advancing. She had come within a quarter of a mile of our battery and on the opposite shore in full range for our guns* when the gallant Wood, who directed her wheel, had her rounded, ran her aground, breaking her rudder and thus crippling her and turning her broadside to give our guns a fair chance. This gallant man, in the confusion, made good hi* escape. Thus crippled and disabled by the hand that drove her on to her destiny, she lay like a wounded falcon, at the mercy of her adversaries.
The night was dark and stormy, the heavens overhung witk, clouds, which now and then* pealed forth their muttering thunder, and drenched the earth with rain. Thus in the raia storm this crippled Queen lay beaten by the tempest. She was well barricaded with cotton bales. On seeing all hope of success gone, the commanding officer, Colonel Ellett, made hi*, escape, with nearly all his crew,*by getting on cotton bales and floating dowrn the river. She raised the white signal, as the storm abated, as it was seen by the light of a burning warehouse, but it was not answered till next morning. Thirteen of the crew remained in silence till day-light, then hett white banner was still afloat, and then, and not till then, our soldiers crossed the river and took possession of her.
The fog which had enabled the Queen of the West to gel by Vicksburg had also availed for the passage of another gunboat, the Indianola. This vessel had also continued for weeks; to go at large, preying on the boats that were transporting our supplies, and harassing our forces in every way. Seeing the great injury and havoc that she might do, a council wTas held, and the capture of the Indianola at every sacrifice was determined upon.
Accordingly an expedition was fitted out, consisting of two gun-boats—the Queen of the West and the Webb—and two steamers—the Era and Dr. Batey. The expedition wras conw jnanded by Major Walker, with Captain Hutton as executive Onicer of the fleet. All being ready, the expedition started out from the mouth of the Red river in pursuit of the Indianola. Coming up the Mississippi to Grand Gulf, it was learned that the Indianola was not far off, and a halt was ordered that all the vessels might come up. All being in line, the expedition put up the river and on the 24th of February came upon the Indianola, overhauling her about five miles belowr New Carthage, and some thirty below Vicksburg. It wras about nine o'clock at night. The enemy had received no information of the movement, and was not aware of our approach until we wrere within a half mile of her. Seeing the rapid approach of the vessels, the Indianola at once knew that it was an attempt to capture her, and she immediately rounded her broadside to, lashing a coal barge alongside her to parry the blows that might be made-to run in and sink her. On the vessels nearing, fire was opened, and a most terrific and desperate engagement ensued, ksting over an hour. Putting on all her steam, the Queen of the West made a blow at the Indianola, cleaving the barge in two and striking her with such tremendous force that the Indianola's machinery was badly injured. Here the action on both sides became desperate. The blow of the Queen of the West was quickly followed up by the Webb with a terrific "butt" at full speed. This finished the work. The Indianola was discovered to be in a sinking condition, and was put for the shore on the Louisiana side. Seeing this, the Dr. Batey was ordered to board her. On
bearing alongside her, the Indianola surrendered, and all her officers and crew—numbering in all about one hundred ancl twenty men—were made prisoners.
These additions to our naval structures on the Mississippi were important. We now possessed some power in the interiour waters o£ the Confederacy; to our harbour defences we had already added some rams; and our deficiency in a navy was not a laughing stock to the North as long as our few privateers were able to cruise in the Atlantic and carry dismay to the exposed commerce of the Gulf.
The few ships the North possessed that were the equals in point of speed of the Confederate privateers, the Alabama and Florida, were, with a single exception, purchased vessels, built for the merchant service, and exceedingly liable to be disabled in their machinery on account of its being nearly all above the water line. Taking, as samples of vessels of this class, the Vanderbilt, Connecticut and Rhode Island, the North had three ships which, for the purpose they were intended, were without superiours; but the chances were that, if coming under the fire of the Alabama or Florida, they would be, by a well directed shot or shell at close quarters, crippled and become an easy prize.
The exploits of our cruisers were sufficient to show the value and efficiency of the weapon of privateering, and to excite many regrets that our means in this department of warfare were so limited. One national steamer alone—the Alabama—commanded by officers and manned by a crew who were debarred by the closure of neutral ports from the opportunity of causing captured vessels to be condemned in their favour as prizes, had sufficed to double the rates of marine insurance in Yankee ports, and consigned to forced inaction numbers of Yankee vessels, in addition to the direct damage inflicted by captures at sea. The Northern papers paid a high tribute to the activity and daring of our few privateers in the statement that, during one month of winter, British steamers had carried