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[351] too late, as Pinkney had done his cowardly work too well. We soon ascertained that a small stern-wheel, high-pressure, river steamboat, protected with hay, had approached nearly as far as Sartarsia, or about five miles off the batteries, when, perceiving our fortifications, had quickly retreated. The two gun-boats fired and abandoned by Pinkney, being full of cotton, burned rapidly; and the lines by which they had been fastened to the banks being consumed, the boats drifted down the river. One of them getting foul of the iron-clad ram “Van Dorn” set her on fire, and she too was added to the loss of the “Polk” and “Livingston.”

The following day I was sent with one of the pilots to sound the bar at Sartarsia. We found plenty of water for the “Arkansas,” but the pilot stated that if the river continued to fall as it had been doing for several days, that in five more days there would not be enough water for the “Arkansas” to get down. The man who had placed the rafts said they could not be moved inside of a week. Captain Brown instructed Lieutenants Grimball, Gift and myself to examine the obstructions, and report if it was practicable to remove them, so as to allow the “Arkansas” to pass through; and if so, in what time the work could be done. We visited the rafts, and after a careful examination reported that they could be removed in less than half an hour.

A short time before this the large up-river fleet of the enemy (now under command of Commodore Davis, United States navy), which had fought its way from Columbus, Kentucky, had arrived above Vicksburg, and had been joined by the victorious fleet of sea-going ships under the indomitable Farragut. The mortar fleets above and below Vicksburg were thundering away at that stronghold, and a large land force were ready to act in concert with the enemy's overwhelming armada.

Captain Brown, the commander of the “Arkansas,” while being very anxious to comply with the unanimous wish of his officers and men — to attack the enemy — was of the opinion that the ship should remain above the obstruction strictly on the defensive. He said that there were a large number of fine steamers in the Yazoo, and the valley of that river was capable of furnishing an immense amount of supplies to our armies, and that the river and valley could be held by the “Arkansas” and proper batteries; that if the “Arkansas” went down and attacked the combined fleets of the enemy, it would be impossible to destroy them or even to cripple them seriously. But if the Government or General Van Dorn desired

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