upper deck, with a face of horror, and whispered to me, “Captain Clifton
was killed at the first shot by my side.”
If he had said that the vessel was on fire the shock would hardly have been greater.
Of course, the military commander
on board a steamer is almost as helpless as an unarmed man, so far as the risks of water go. A seaman must command there.
In the hazardous voyage of last night, I had learned, though unjustly, to distrust every official on board the steamboat except this excitable, brave, warm-hearted sailor; and now, among these added dangers, to lose him!
The responsibility for his life also thrilled me; he was not among my soldiers, and yet he was killed.
I thought of his wife and children, of whom he had spoken; but one learns to think rapidly in war, and, cautioning the Major
to silence, I went up to the hurricane-deck and drew in the helpless body, that it should be safe from further desecration, and then looked to see where we were.
We were now gliding past a safe reach of marsh, while our assailants were riding by cross-paths to attack us at the next bluff.
It was Reed's Bluff where we were first attacked, and Scrubby Bluff, I think, was next.
They were shelled in advance, but swarmed manfully to the banks again as we swept round one of the sharp angles of the stream beneath their fire.
My men were now pretty well imprisoned below in the hot and crowded hold, and actually fought each other, the officers afterwards said, for places at the open port-holes, from which to aim. Others implored to be landed, exclaiming that they “supposed de Cunnel knew best,” but it was “mighty mean” to be shut up down below, when they might be “fightin‘ de Secesh in de clar field
This clear field, and no favor, was what they thenceforward