most favorable circumstances, to do much more than stem it. In case of accident to machinery they would drift helplessly under the enemy's guns.
To fight bow on. and depend upon the stern wheel to back up stream while fighting would have been absurd, so that in this case the commander-in-chief of the squadron was in a dilemma.
While much was expected of him he was obliged by circumstances to observe a caution which was not agreeable to his enterprising spirit.
On the morning of the 16th of March the mortar-boats were placed in the best possible position and opened fire on the enemy's batteries, driving several regiments out of the works.
The mortars were under charge of Capt. Maynardier, U. S. Army, and Lieut. J. P. Sanford, U. S. Navy.
On the morning of the 17th the gun-boats commenced an attack.
The Benton, Cincinnati and St. Louis were lashed together, on account of the deficient steam power of the Benton, which was otherwise the most formidable vessel in the squadron.