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[248] wide, and the Indiana shore, just opposite, favorable for the landing of the boats and disembarkation of men and horses. A dense mist which had overspread the surface of the river during the morning, suddenly lifted just before noon as one of the steamboats was about to push off with the Second Kentucky and Ninth Tennessee, which two regiments (leaving their horses for the nonce) were detailed as the first to cross. Almost simultaneously with the disappearance of the foggy curtain which had obstructed our view of the farther bank, and before the quickened eye well had time to take in the situation, our glances were attracted by the spouting flashes from, perhaps, a hundred rifles, aimed from the very spot where the boat must land, and quickly followed by the long, leaping flame and sullen roar of a field-piece. The range was too great for the small-arms to do danger, but several shell from the piece smashed into the groups scattered about the wharf, before it was silenced, and two or three men were wounded. General Morgan at once ordered the section of three-inch Parrotts, which made part of the battery, to be brought up. A few well-directed shots from these dispersed this party of hospitable Indianians, whose eager haste to welcome us anticipated our actual arrival in their State, and although they tried hard to save their artillery they were forced to abandon it. The boat immediately shoved across, and the two regiments which she carried sprang ashore, formed, and pressed forward, under fire from the party just before driven back by the steel guns, but which had retreated no further than a wooded ridge some five hundred yards from the river, where they either rejoined or were reinforced by another body of about the same strength.

Before more troops could be put over an interruption occurred, which threatened to stop all further proceedings. A river gunboat, small but vicious, put in an appearance, and opened fire alternately upon the men on the Indiana shore, the boats, and the troops in town. She carried three guns, and it was evident that, if well and boldly handled, it was possible for her to become mistress of the situation. So long as she remained within range, it would have been suicidal to have attempted to pass the river. A single well-aimed shot would have sent either boat to the bottom, and caused the loss of every man on board. But delay would be equally fatal. If the gunboat should do no more than stand guard over the ferry, and hold us inactive, we were ruined. Two of our strongest and best regiments were already dangerously compromised. Separated from the main body by the broad torrent, and, in that most awkward of all predicaments for cavalry, cut off from their horses, they might

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John H. Morgan (1)
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