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was hoped to force the current of the Mississippi into an unaccustomed course through which to pass their vessels without going within range of our batteries.
It was thus that the enemy was apparently brought to the point of necessity of either attacking our fortifications at Snyder's Bluff on the Yazoo, or our batteries in front of the city. These were the only two points left against which he could operate, and they were the same which he had been trying to avoid for the last three months. When he first arrived these were the only points susceptible of assault, but wishing to flank them he had wasted three months' time, lost a number of gunboats and transports, and many thousands of his troops.
An attack directly in front of the city plainly threatened the most serious disaster to the enemy. From a point of the river above, where high land begins, there is a-high and precipitous bluff, which would not afford any landing place for the troops—only about two acres of ground are to be *found where a landing could be effected, and upon this a formidable battery was ready to receive them, and in the rear there were numberless other batteries to protect it. The whole bluff, extending a distance of two miles, was also frowning with guns, all of which would bear upon an enemy in the river.
The expedition of the enemy on the Tallahatchie, which met such unexpected and disgraceful defeat from the guns of a hastily made fort, is memorable as another of those Yankee raids which, unable to accomplish military results, was left to gratify itself with the plunder of citizens and the cowardly atrocities of marauders. From the barbarity of the Yankee, Mississippi was a distinguished sufferer as well as Virginia. Two-thirds of Sherman's army was composed of new troops from Indiana, Illinois and, Wisconsin, and they had come down the Mississippi with the intention of burning and destroying everything they could lay their hands on. The whole line of their march was one continued scene of destruction. Private dwellings were burned, women and children driven out of their houses, and even the clothes stripped from their backs, to say nothing of acts committed by the soldiery which might make the blackest hearted libertine blush for shame.*
Another attempt of the enemy to force our strongholds on the Mississippi, which we have to relate at this time, was made on Port Hudson on the 15th of March. We have seen how fatal, so far, had been the enemy's attempts to run our batteries and to get to the south of Vicksburg. His first attempt was with the Queen of the West, his second with the Indianola; but though successful in these two cases in running our batteries, the boats were soon captured by our men, and the enemy completely foiled in his design. It was now proposed that the enemy's fleet should attack Port Hudson and attempt to force a passage up the river.
THE BOMBARDMENT OF PORT HUDSON.
Port Hudson is a strongly fortified position on thjg lower Mississippi — about sixteen miles above Baton Rouge and thre3 hundred below Vicksburg. It is situated on a bend in the river, and its great strength as a place of defence against a fleet consists in the height of its cliffs and the peculiar formation of the river at that place. The cliffs are very high and also very steep—in fact, almost perpendicular. .The river just at the bend opposite the town, suddenly narrows, so that the rapid current strikes against the west bank, and then sweeps through a narrow channel just at the base of the cliff. Our batteries were located on a bluff at the elbow of the river, and commanded a range of three miles above and below, compelling any vessel which might attempt the passage to run the gauntlet of a plunging fire.
* The following is a private confession taken from the letter of a Yankee officer, attached to Sherman's command: "I have always blamed Union Generals for guarding rebel property, but I now see the necessity of it. Three weeks of such unbridled license would ruin our army. I tell you the truth when I say we are about as mean a mob as ever walked the face of the earth. It is perfectly frightful. If I lived in this country, I never would lay down my arms while a 'Yankee' remained on the soil. I do not blame Southerners for being secessionists now. I could relate many things that would be laughable if they were not so horribly disgraceful. For instance, imagine two privates in an elegant carriage, belonging to some wealthy Southern nabob, with a splendid span of horses riding in state along the road we are marching over, with a negro coachman holding the reins in all the style of an English nobleman, and then two small drummer boys going it at a two-forty pace, in an elegant buggy, with a fast horse, and the buggy loaded with a strange medley of household furniture and kitchen utensils, from an elegant parlor mirror to a pair of fire-dogs, all of which they have 'cramped' from some fine house, which, from sheer wantonness, they have rifled and destroyed."
Six vessels were to comprise the enemy's expedition, divided into two divisions. The vanguard was to consist of the flag ship Hartford, a first class steam sloop-of-war, carrying twentysix eight and nine inch Paixhan guns, leading, followed by the Monongahela, a second class steam sloop, mounting sixteen heavy guns, and the Richmond, a first class steam sloop of twenty-six guns, principally eight and nine inch columbiads. The rear guard was composed of the first class steam sloop Mississippi, twenty-two guns, eight and nine inch, and the gunboats Kinnes and Gennessee, each carrying three columbiads and two rifled thirty-two pounders. The Mississippi was a side-wheel steamer. All the others were screw propellers. The vanguard was commanded by Admiral Farragut in person, on board the Hartford. The rear was under command of Capt. Melancthon Smith, flying his pennant from the Mississippi. They were to proceed up the stream in single file, the stern of one following close upon the stern of another, and keeping their fires and lights well concealed until they should be discovered by our batteries, when they were to get by the best they could, fighting their passage, and once above they believed they would have the stronghold on both sides, their guns covering every part of the encampment.
Shortly before midnight, the boats, having formed the line of battle as described, their decks cleared for action, and the men at their quarters, the Hartford led the way and the others promptly followed her direction. At the moment of their discovery, a rocket was to be sent up from the admiral's flagship, as the signal for the Essex and her accompanying mortar-boats to commence work.
Although there had been no indications of such a determined night attack by Farragut, the usual vigilant precautions were in force at our batteries. Every gun was ready for action, and around each piece slept a detachment of gunners. So dark was the night, however, and so slightly had the armed craft nosed their way up, that the flag-ship had passed some of our guns and all the fleet were within easy range before their approach was known. Almost at the same time a rocket from our signal corps, and the discharge of muskets by an infantrypicket, aroused our line. Quick as a flash, while the falling fire of our alarm rocket was yet unextinguished, there shot up into the sky, from the Hartford's deck, another. Then came one grand, long, deafening roar, that rent the atmosphere with its mighty thunder, shaking both land and water, and causing the high battery-crowned cliffs to tremble, as if with fear and wonder.
The darkness of the night gave extraordinary sublimity to the scene of bombardment. The sheets of flame that poured from the sides of the sloops at each discharge lit up nearly the whole stretch of river, placing each craft in strong relief against the black sky. On the long line of bluff, the batteries but a moment before silent as the church-yard, now resounded to the hurrying tread of men, while the quick, stern tones of command were heard above the awful din, and the furtively glancing rays of light from the battle lanterns revealed the huge instruments of death and destruction, and showed the half-covered way to magazines.
Minute after minute passed away, and the fleet kept its unchecked course up the stream. The feeling of its officers was one of amazement at the silence of the batteries. The question was seriously propounded, had not the Confederates deserted them,? But only too soon did the enemy discover that we were but waiting to bring their whole fleet irretrievably under our guns before we went to work.
For fifteen minutes had they plied at their monster cannon, and now they were commencing to relax, from sheer vexation, when a flash of light from the crest of a cliff lights the way for a shell to go plunging through the Hartford's deck. This was the monitor, and at once the enemy saw a cordon of vivid light as long as their own.
Now commenced the battle in all its terrible earnestness. Outnumbered in guns and outweighed in metal, our volleys were as quickly repeated and the majority of them unerring in their aim. As soon as the enemy thus discovered our batteries, they opened on them with grape and canister, which was more accurately thrown than their shells, and threw clouds 6f dirt upon the guns and gunners; the shells went over them in every conceivable direction, except the right one.
The Hartford, a very fast ship, now made straight up the river, making her best time, and trying to divert the aim of ©ur gunners by her incessant and deafening broadsides. She soon outstripped the balance of the fleet. Shot after shot struck her, riddling her through and through, but still she kept ©n her way.
Every craft now looking out for itself and bound to make its very best time to get by, the fleet lost its orderly line of battle, and got so mixed up, it was difficult, and sometimes impossible, to distinguish one from another. It was speedily apparent to the enemy, that the fire was a great deal hotter and more destructive than had been expected, and the captains of the two gunboats and of the Monongahela, doubtless resolved quickly that it would be madness to attempt to run such a terrific gauntlet of iron hail. Whether the commanders of the Richmond and Mississippi had already arrived at the same determination, or came to it soon after, is not known; but they all, except the Hartford, undertook to put about and return the way they came.
For this purpose the Richmond came close in to the left bank, under the batteries, and then circled round, her course reaching nearly up to the oppo&ite point. In executing this manoeuvre, she gave our batteries successively a raking posi