- Naval and military expedition to Yazoo City. -- capture of the enemy's works. -- the Baron deKalb blown up by torpedoes. -- expedition up the Red, Black and Tensas Rivers, under Lieutenant-Commander Selfridge. -- destruction of enemy's vessels and stores. -- the marine brigade, its important services. -- operations of Lieutenant-Commander Le Roy Fitch on the Tennessee River. -- attack on colored troops at Milliken's bend. -- attack on Helena, Arkansas, by General Price. -- defeat of the enemy owing to the fire of the gun-boat Lexington. -- the raid of General John Morgan into Ohio and Indiana, and the capture of his forces owing to the energy of Lieutenant-Commander Le Roy Fitch with his gun-boats. -- gallant conduct of Engineer Doughty in capturing two of the enemy's steamers. -- eulogy upon the pilots and engineers of the Mississippi Squadron. -- important services of Lieutenant-Commander Phelps in the Tennessee River. -- vessels employed at Vicksburg during the siege, with list of officers. -- vessels employed at other points on the Mississippi River, 1863-65.
After the surrender of Vicksburg, there was still much to be done in the vicinity, particularly in driving off the Confederates, who lingered on the banks of the Yazoo and fired on our small gun-boats as they patrolled that river. A report reached Vicksburg that General Joseph E. Johnston was fortifying Yazoo City, with the apparent intention of occupying that neighborhood with his Army. For this the region was well adapted, being rich in cattle and grain, “hog and hominy.” It was also reported that a number of large river-steamers that had been employed by the enemy, and had been hiding in the Tallahatchie, were at Yazoo City and employed in supplying Johnston's troops. A military and naval expedition was therefore arranged to go after these steamers and break up the enemy's resort at Yazoo City. The Baron deKalb, New National, Kenwood and Signal composed the naval part of the expedition under Lieutenant-Commander John G. Walker, while General Herron, with five thousand troops in transports, composed the military part. On approaching Yazoo City the enemy appeared in force, and the DeKalb, being the heaviest vessel, pushed ahead and opened her batteries to ascertain the number and position of the enemy's guns. Finding the defences formidable, Walker dropped back and notified General Herron, who at once landed his troops and the Army and Navy made a combined attack. After a sharp conflict the enemy fled, previously setting fire to the four large steamers in their possession, which before the war had been considered the finest passenger vessels on the Mississippi River. General Herron captured the enemy's rear-guard of two hundred and fifty men and pressed on after the retreating foe, taking prisoners every minute. There were six heavy guns mounted in the enemy's works and one vessel was captured which had formerly been a gun-boat. Unfortunately, while the De Kalb was moving slowly along and firing on the enemy she ran foul of a floating torpedo, which exploded, and the vessel sank almost immediately, a second torpedo exploding under her stern as she went down. The squadron had pushed ahead with too much enthusiasm to bring the enemy to close quarters where grape-shot and canister would tell. It seems that Lieutenant Isaac N. Brown, of the Confederate Navy, had on a former occasion been prevented by the citizens from placing torpedoes in front of  Yazoo City, and it was supposed that it would not be permitted on this occasion for fear of the consequences in the destruction of the property of the inhabitants, should the Union forces get possession of Yazoo City. Lieutenant-Commander Walkertherefore felt confident that he could proceed without encountering any of these destructive machines. The loss of the DeKalb was a serious one--four of the armored gun-boats lay at the bottom of the rivers — the Cincinnati before Vicksburg, and the Cairo and DeKalb in the Yazoo. while the Indianola was sunk below Vicksburg. But this is the fortune of war — to achieve anything risks must be run, and while a Confederate flag floated in the breeze the officers and men of the Mississippi squadron never stopped to count the cost in pursuit of it. With the exception of the loss of the DeKalb, whose officers and men were all saved, the expedition was a complete success The enemy's rendezvous was broken up, and a large amount of cotton, beef and pork captured, the enemy's forces driven away and many of them captured by General Herron. Yazoo City was never again troubled by the Confederates planting batteries there. It had been an important place for the Confederates, and but for the constant attention it received from the Navy and the destruction of all the vessels hiding there, they would probably have sent down a force that would have destroyed our ironclad gun-boats, and perhaps have made a material change in the final result of the campaign. The Confederate government relied a great deal on the completion of the three iron-clad rams building at Yazoo City, and with their assistance hoped to drive off the Federal squadron from below Vicksburg and thereby cause the siege to be raised — while Haines' Bluff could block the way with its guns and the huge raft which filled up the Yazoo River for half a mile. The Confederates worked on their iron-clads without molestation, and even when General Grant had gained the rear of Vicksburg they relied on General J. E. Johnston's army to protect them while they completed the work on the rams. If the Arkansas, which ran the gauntlet of Farragut and Davis' squadrons, was a specimen of the iron-clad that could be built at Yazoo City, the Federals had cause to congratulate themselves that the Yazoo was open by the evacuation of Haines' Bluff, and the last attempt of the Confederates to carry on naval operations in that quarter abandoned. At the same time that the expedition was sent up the Yazoo another was dispatched up the Red River, ascending the Black and Tensas Rivers. Lieutenant-Commander Selfridge penetrated to the head of navigation on the latter stream, at Tensas Lake and Bayou Macon, thirty miles above Vicksburg, and within five or six miles of the Mississippi River. Parties of the enemy's riflemen were in the habit of crossing this narrow strip of land and firing upon transports passing up and down the Mississippi, sometimes killing women and children who happened to be on board. Quite a large force of Confederates were assembled in that quarter, considering themselves secure from the attacks of the gun-boats, the distance by water from Vicksburg being so great: the route being first to the mouth of the Red River, then up the Black and Tensas, both narrow streams, to Tensas Lake and Bayou Macon. The guerillas fancied they could carry on their raids with impunity. So when Selfridge appeared with his little flotilla on the 12th of July, they were taken by surprise. As soon as the gun-boats hove in sight the enemy's transports, of which there were here quite a number, made their escape among the intricate water-ways with which that region abounds, and where for want of pilots they could not be immediately followed. Selfridge now divided his forces, sending the Manitou and Rattler up the Little Red River, a small tributary of the Black, and the Forest Rose and Petrel up the Tensas. The night was dark and rainy and the vessels had to grope their way carefully along, keeping a good lookout ahead. Suddenly the Manitou and Rattler came upon a very large steamer, the finest of those now remaining afloat, which had been the pride of the Mississippi River before the war. This was the Louisville, afterwards converted into a war-vessel carrying fifty guns. Selfridge's other two vessels about the same time captured the steamer Elmira, loaded with stores for the Confederate army under General Walker, who on hearing of the arrival of the Federal gun-boats embarked his army and disappeared up some of the tortuous channels known only to pilots. Selfridge started in pursuit and soon overtook two of the transports, but the Confederates immediately abandoned the vessels after setting them on fire, and they were totally destroyed. One steamer loaded with ammunition escaped above the fort at Harrisonburg, a strong work impregnable to wooden gun-boats with light batteries. The expedition could proceed no further in this direction. Lieutenant-Commander Selfridge fortunately learned of a large amount of ammunition that had been sent up from Natchez,  whence large quantities of provisions, stores and ammunition were often transported. Natchez took no part in the war beyond making money by supplying the Confederate armies. Selfridge captured at one place fifteen thousand rounds of smooth-bore ammunition, one thousand rounds of Enfield rifle and two hundred and twenty four rounds of fixed ammunition for guns, a rifled thirty-pounder Parrott gun-carriage, fifty-two hogsheads of sugar, ten puncheons of rum, nine barrels of flour and fifty barrels of salt; and General Walker's army being left without a supply of ammunition, he moved his forces into the interior and troubled the Mississippi no more. Thus these constant raids of the gun-boats harassed and weakened the enemy, broke up the steamboat transportation so necessary for their movements, and deprived them of ammunition and provisions, without which they could not fight. One portion of Admiral Porter's command — the Marine Brigade--is entitled to special mention. When he assumed command of the Mississippi Squadron, the Admiral applied for a force of marines to be carried in suitable vessels accompanying the gun-boats and to be landed at points where parties of guerillas were wont to assemble. The gun-boats alone could not break these parties up, and it was therefore necessary to have trained soldiers at hand to chase and annihilate them. The Navy Department could not furnish the marines asked for, but the War Department undertook to organize a Marine Brigade, and also to furnish the necessary vessels to carry these soldiers about. The command was given to Brigadier General Alfred Ellet, and as the members of this family had before proved themselves brave and enterprising men several of them were given appointments in the Marine Brigade. As soon as this organization was fully equipped General Ellet was ordered by the Commander-in-chief of the Mississippi squadron to proceed to the Tennessee River before reporting at Vicksburg, and help put down the numerous guerilla bands that infested the banks of that stream. These guerillas, although enlisted by the Confederates in the usual way as soldiers, were in fact made up of men too cowardly to join the regular Army and worthless fellows who would rather hang around home, pretending to save the Confederacy, than go where bullets were flying thick and fast on the field of battle. During the whole war bitterness and treachery flourished in Tennessee owing to this guerilla system. In some parts of the State almost every family had one or more of these quasi-soldiers belonging to a gang whose occupation was firing on unarmed steamers, and seldom or ever, even when supported by artillery, making a successful stand against the light gun-boats called “tin-clads.” Now and then they would receive severe punishment and some of them get killed; occasionally when overtaken they were summarily dealt with. In April, 1863, Lieutenant-Commander LeRoy Fitch was patrolling the Tennessee River with the gun-boats Lexington, Robert, and Silver Lake. This active officer made matters so uncomfortable for the guerillas that they did not often come within range of his guns. One of his first acts was to take on board his vessels one hundred and fifty soldiers from Fort Hindman. under command of Colonel Craig, and visit the landings infested by guerillas. At Savannah, where Lieutenant-Commander Fitch landed two hundred soldiers and sailors, he burned a mill which was used in making cloth to clothe the guerillas; a quantity of horses, mules, and wagons belonging to the Confederate cavalry were also made prize of war. The plantations of those persons who were known to have aided and abetted the outrages of the guerillas were destroyed, as an example to others. The war had been carried on by these worthless marauders in such a way that this course was found to be necessary to put a check on operations which had the effect of embittering both parties without in any way benefitting the Confederate cause. On the bodies of some of the guerillas who were killed in one of the attacks was found an oath of allegiance to the United States Government. A certain class of persons would take the oath of allegiance to the United States one day, to secure protection, and the next would be found firing upon unarmed vessels. The command of Lieutenant-Commander Fitch was increased as fast as the small stern-wheel merchant-steamers could be altered into gun-boats, the Navy Department having authorized Admiral Porter to purchase as many of these as he deemed requisite to put down the guerillas and protect loyal citizens, and a large number of naval vessels were soon in commission on the western waters. One requisition alone for seven hundred pieces of ordnance will show how this tin-clad service was increased. Many engagements occurred when Lieutenant-Commander Fitch had a sufficient number of vessels to effectually patrol the Tennessee, where by night and day he was indefatigable in trying to put down the marauders. The gun-boats never remained at a bank for fear of a surprise, and when anchored in the stream men were always at the  guns, and at night all lights were kept covered. Such was the condition of affairs when Brigadier-General Alfred Ellet, with the marine brigade, entered the Tennessee in five steamers, admirably equipped for the accommodation of the men, and united with Lieutenant-Commander Fitch to suppress the guerillas. These combined forces penetrated to the furthest part of the river when the water would permit, and when the river was very low Lieutenant-Commander Fitch was provided with a class of gun-boats drawing only sixteen inches of water, which could almost always make their way to any desired point. The remarkable energy and perseverance of Fitch won the approbation of the Union men in Tennessee, and gained the entire confidence of his Commander-in-chief. His officers were all volunteers, but with his example and training they were quite equal to any in the regular service for the duty in which they were engaged. The Confederates were much surprised at the advent of the Marine Brigade, who were gun-boat men and soldiers at the same time, and could land fifteen hundred troops with field artillery at a moment's notice to pursue the enemy. In fact, when Fitch and Ellet co-operated, they made short work of the Confederates, who had really been a scourge to both parties in Tennessee. General Ellet's command included cavalry, with which he made night marches to pounce on the camps of the guerillas and destroy the stores on which these marauders relied for subsistence. The Marine Brigade also co-operated with the Army under General Dodge and afforded material assistance in breaking up the command of the Confederate general, Cox, some eighteen miles above Savannah on the Tennessee General Ellet's command was not popular with the Confederate inhabitants, as the former did not trouble themselves much about the “amenities of war.” They saw so many “irregularities” committed by the enemy that they retaliated in many instances by destroving the property of disloyal persons, and often returned from an expedition with sufficient stores captured from the enemy to last the command a month. On the morning of April 25, 1863, the Marine Brigade was attacked at a place called Duck River by a Confederate force of seven hundred men and two field-pieces under Colonel Woodward. It seems the enemy mistook the Marine Brigade vessels for transports and were quite unprepared for the reception they encountered. As soon as possible a landing was effected and the enemy pursued for twelve miles. Major White, of the 6th Texas Rangers, was found mortally wounded in a house four miles from the field of battle where eight of the Confederates were killed. The water in the Tennessee River becoming too low for the Marine Brigade steamers to operate, they left the river on the 7th of May, having destroyed great numbers of boats and scows and all the ferry-boats they could find. Tennessee became not only a battle-ground for the contending armies, but her vindictive home-guards brought upon her more misery than can be compensated for by fifty years of prosperity. On his way down to Vicksburg General Ellet heard of some Confederate troops at a place called Austin and dispatched a cavalry force of two hundred men, commanded by Major Holland, in pursuit, followed by infantry. The cavalry encountered the main body of the Confederates, one thousand strong, with two pieces of artillery. Holland found his retreat cut off, but by getting a good position and dismounting his men he managed to hold his ground until the infantry came up, when the enemy retreated leaving five of their number dead on the field. The Union loss was two killed and nineteen wounded. A wagon train and a quantity of arms were captured, together with three prisoners, and the town of Austin was set on fire and destroyed with a large amount of provisions, thus breaking up a nest of guerillas who were making preparations to commence a system of firing on vessels as they had done on the Tennessee. While the town was on fire numerous explosions showed where arms and ammunition had been secreted. On the 29th of May the Marine Brigade reached the Yazoo River, after having performed much valuable service. After the Brigade left the Tennessee River the guerillas re-commenced their operations, but the commanding officers of the small gun-boats exerted themselves to the utmost to make up for the loss of the landing parties. On the 19th of June Acting-Master W. C. Hanford, commanding the U. S. S. Little Rebel, heard that a party of guerillas under Colonel Bissell were lying in wait for gun-boats, proposing to give them one round from their battery and then make off. Hanford mounted two howitzers as field-pieces, manned them with sixteen of his best men, and started them in search of the marauders. On the following morning, June 19th, on hearing the firing of guns the Robb and the Silver Cloud got underway and ran down to the point where the battery had been placed. Here Hanford found that Bissell had attacked his battery with four hundred men, but as the Confederates advanced, four abreast, the Union guns opened on  them, making large gaps in their ranks and firing so rapidly that they at length turned and fled, having lost about fifty in killed and wounded, while Hanford had but one killed and two wounded. On this occasion the gun-boats fired with grape and canister at close quarters, and the enemy's column was enfiladed on both sides as it advanced. The Confederates had dismounted from their horses to charge the battery. In June, 1863, a great sensation was created throughout the country by a thrilling account of an attack made on a body of colored troops stationed at Milliken's Bend, by a portion of the Confederate army under General Price. Milliken's Bend is but two or three miles above Young's Point and was in daily communication with that place. It was a mooted question whether the blacks enlisted as soldiers would be reliable in battle and they were mostly employed, as at Milliken's Bend, in guarding stores or in other duty, where they could relieve white soldiers sent to the front. As far as appearances went, the colored troops were good soldiers and many enthusiasts declared that they would stand the shock of arms as well as the whites. At Milliken's Bend was also a portion of a white regiment which was looked upon by those who were not enthusiasts as by far the most reliable part of the garrison. On the 6th of June, the Admiral, who had general charge of matters in that quarter, hearing that some of the enemy's troops had been seen hovering around Milliken's Bend, sent the Choctaw, Lieutenant-Commander F. M. Ramsay, up to that place with orders to be ready for an emergency At 2.15 A. M., on the 7th instant, an Army officer hailed the Choctaw and reported that his pickets had been attacked and driven in by the enemy. A few minutes later firing was heard in the main camp. The Choctaw immediately opened in direction of the enemy with a hundred-pounder rifle and a nine-inch shell-gun, the Federal troops, with the exception of the 23d Iowa, retreating at the first attack of the enemy. It was impossible for the Choctaw to fire except by signs from those on shore, who pointed out the direction of the enemy; but the practice turned out to be good, and at 8.30 the Confederates retreated much cut up. The Lexington, Lieutenant Commanding George M. Bache, reached the scene of action as the enemy were making off and opened on the retreating columns with eight-inch shells. Had it not been for the presence of a gun-boat, the enemy would have captured everything at Milliken's Bend, for they were in strong force and charged right over the colored troops, who fled to the trenches and thence fired at random. The enemy then swarmed over the parapets and shot right down among the crouching blacks, filling the trenches with killed and wounded. A majority of the slain had bullet-holes in the top of their heads, showing that the brilliant defence made by the black troops was altogether imaginary, the only resistance being made by the white soldiers. Such statements were often made by sensational correspondents during the war. In the present instance the black troops were given credit for bravery which they did not display and the 23d Iowa regiment and the Navy were completely ignored. In justice to the colored troops it may be said that their white officers were the first to run away, and that with better leaders the soldiers might have stood their ground. On the 3d of July, General Ellet, with the Marine Brigade, was ordered to proceed to Goodrich Landing, where some Confederate raiders had attacked a detachment of United States troops there stationed. When the brigade reached Goodrich Landing the troops were found under arms, and the presence of the enemy was indicated by the burning mansions, cotton-gins and negro quarters in the vicinity--one of those acts of wanton destruction for which the class of Confederate soldiers along the river banks were famous. If they could not find an enemy to harass they would often destroy the property of their own people. The entire Marine Brigade, artillery, infantry and cavalry, was immediately landed and started in pursuit of the Confederate forces; Colonel Wood, who commanded the colored troops at this point, accompanying the brigade. The cavalry overtook the enemy at Bayou Tensas, and detained him until the main body of the Union forces arrived. The enemy had a strong force of cavalry and several pieces of artillery, and endeavored to recross the Bayou and turn the right flank of the brigade. In this movement he met with a severe repulse. The brigade then advanced on the enemy, who rapidly retreated, throwing away all the plunder taken from the houses that had been burned, including a fine piano! These were some of the men enlisted to “protect” the Southern people. who, finding the latter already well treated and cared for by the Union forces, turned their vengeance against the inhabitants of their own section, and overcoming the small garrison at Goodrich Landing destroyed and carried off everything on which they could lay hands. But this is tilt kind of war one must expect to be waged by a government without power to maintain the position it has assumed and liable at any moment to collapse. As the cause, of rebellion became  more hopeless. the rancor of the guerillas increased, and there were frequent occurrences which curdled the blood in the veins of loyal people. Yet some of the people, while well satisfied to receive protection from the Union forces, would give information to these predatory bands and secrete them when in danger. General Ellet gave the party at Goodrich Landing a lesson they did not soon forget, and having completely routed the enemy re-embarked his command and returned to the mouth of the Yazoo River. We have dwelt on these events to show the character of the war as waged by the Confederates in that section of the country, and the energy and enterprise of the offiers and men of the Mississippi squadron. The Army under General Price, or his subordinate. General Holmes, which hung about the swampy region to the west of Vicksburg, found, on the surrender of that place, their occupation gone. All the Federal stores and munitions of war were transferred from Young's Point and Milliken's Bend to Vicksburg, and the Confederates could no longer hope to replenish their stock by raids on these points. General Price therefore determined to change his base and carry on operations elsewhere. He was an active, enterprising officer, and had under his command some twelve or fourteen thousand men who were inured to hardships and capable of long and rapid marches. In the latter part of June, Admiral Porter received information from deserters that General Price was moving with a large force from Arkansas towards the Mississippi, intending to unite with other troops near Vicksburg to operate along the river. The Admiral immediately made arrangements to meet this force by sending gun-boats to such points as it would be most likely to attack. The Taylor, Lieutenant-Commander Prichett, Bragg, Lieutenant-Commander Bishop, and the Hastings, were sent to Helena, where Major-General B. M. Prentiss was in command of the U. S. forces. That officer was rather astonished when the gun-boats arrived and he was informed that he might soon expect an attack. He had expected nothing of the kind and felt sure he could defend his post without the aid of gun-boats, although he was glad to welcome them. The Bragg came to anchor off Helena, and the Taylor and Hastings cruised up and down the river in search of guerillas, Lieutenant Commander Prichett quite neglecting the instructions he had received — under no circumstances to leave Helena without positive orders from the Admiral. However, on one of his expeditions, Prichett happened to read his orders over again, and seeing how positively they were worded, hastened back to Helena. where he learned that General Prentiss was expecting an attack from Price with twelve to fourteen thousand troops, to oppose which the Union commander had about three thousand five hundred men. Prentiss made the best disposition possible of his small force, determined to hold the works as long as he could. This was on the 4th of July, the very day of the surrender of Vicksburg. Prichett had hardly got into the position he deemed most desirable to render the fire of the gun-boats effective, when the enemy appeared in sight and attacked the centre defences in overwhelming force. These were soon carried, as also a battery on the hills in the rear which commanded Helena and all the other defences. The enemy then pushed his forces down the slope of the ridge into the gorges, and his sharpshooters under cover commenced driving the artillerists from their guns in the main fort. The Confederates had planted their artillery above and below the turn in the most commanding positions and opened fire on the line of defensive works across the river bottom, about one thousand yards in width, and large bodies of troops were massed near to secure the advantages the capture of the forts on the heights would offer for closing upon the town of Helena. The Taylor at once covered the approach to Helena by what was called the “old farm road;” but discovering the enemy pouring down the hills, after capturing the works in the Federal centre, Lieutenant-Commander Prichett took up a new position where his broadside guns enfiladed the ravines which were filled with Confederates, and bow-guns at the same time played upon the enemy's batteries above, and his stern guns upon those below. This was a reception General Price had never dreamed of. He had attacked Helena with the expectation of “walking over the course,” and his first success in capturing the most commanding position in the defences confirmed him in his idea of an easy victory, but the broadsides of the gun-boat soon put a new face on affairs. The slaughter caused by the Taylor's guns was terrible, the shells falling in the thickly massed troops of the enemy and tearing them to pieces. A panic seized the enemy and he was soon in full retreat, pursued by the fire of the gun-boat, until the road was strewed with the killed and wounded. Those of the Confederates who had gained the inside of the Union works, seeing the slaughter and retreat of their comrades, lost no time in moving to the rear, urged on by the Federal garrison, who, encouraged by the success of the Taylor,  added the fire of their batteries to that of the gun-boat. The victory was complete, and it took little more time than we have occupied in telling the story. The whole affair was one continuous roar of cannon and bursting of shells, the latter thrown with an accuracy the crew of the Taylor had acquired by long experience. Three hundred and eighty of the Confederates were left dead on the field near the forts and in the ravines, eleven hundred were wounded and as many more taken prisoners. For several days the Federal cavalry were constantly discovering killed and wounded, and steamboats on the river were hailed by deserters from Price's army, asking to be taken on board. No troops were ever worse beaten or more demoralized. Although the Union troops hadstood manfully against the attack of Price's apparently overwhelming force, the slaughter in the enemy's ranks was due to the judgment shown by Lieutenant-Commander Prichett in taking such an admirable position, where he could use his guns effectively. On two previous occasions — at Belmont and at Pittsburg Landing — the Taylor had saved the day to the Union cause, yet we doubt if a vast majority of the American people are aware that such a vessel ever existed, and we deem it only fair to say that the garrison of Helena, although they fought with a courage unsurpassed during the war, owed their victory over an enemy which so greatly outnumbered them entirely to the batteries of the sturdy wooden gun-boat. General Prentiss, like a brave soldier as he was, grows eloquent in his praise of Lieutenant-Commander Prichett and his officers and men for the service they had performed. In his report to the Admiral he says: “I attribute not a little of our success in the late battle to his (Lieutenant-Commander Prichett's) full knowledge of the situation and his skill in adapting the means within his command to the end to be attained. . . . . . . . . Permit me to add, sir, that I can conceive of no case wherein promotions would be more worthily bestowed than in that of Lieutenant-Commander Prichett, and it will give me great pleasure to learn that his services have received a proper reward.” Prichett never received any “reward” save an eloquent letter from Mr. Secretary Welles, which that gentleman knew so well how to indite, but he had the satisfaction of not having dimmed the lustre of that 4th of July made so glorious by the capture of Vicksburg and the victory of Gettysburg. On the 9th of August the Mound City, Lieutenant-Commander Byron Wilson, while at Lake Providence, gave the enemy a severe lesson. Captain John McNeil, C. S. A., notorious raider, made a descent on Lake Providence with some seventy men, for the purpose of carrying off some mules, horses and wagons, a number of the latter having congregated there during the occupation pation of the place by a part of the Federal army. As McNeil's men entered the town the Mound City opened on them with her portbattery and the enemy fled to the woods, leaving seven dead on the field and carrying off many wounded. The enemy never expected to see an ironclad at Lake Providence and never troubled the place again. It was exceedingly difficult to suppress this system of guerilla warfare, but it was finally put an end to by the Navy when the surrender of Vicksburg relieved a large number of gun-boats from imperative duties which could not be neglected for minor matters. One of the most remarkable incidents of the civil war was the raid of General John Morgan, one of the daring partisan leaders of the Confederate Army, and the manner in which the raid was averted from Indiana--the point aimed at by the audacious Morgan —— by three or four so-called “tin-clads,” armed with boat-howitzers. Hearing that Morgan was moving in force up the left bank of the Ohio River, pursued by the Union forces under General Judah, Lieutenant-Commander Fitch determined, if possible, to cut him off. The water in the river was very low and the five light draft gun-boats which Fitch had with him worked night and day to intercept the raiders, who were seeking for a place to ford the Ohio. To get the gun-boats over the shoal places it was often necessary to “jump them” by placing two heavy spars, carried for the purpose, forward of the bow at an angle and set taut, a heavy tackle leading from the head of the spars to the deck. Steam was then put on, and as the vessel pushed ahead her bow was raised and she was forced forward eight or ten feet; this operation was repeated until the shoal was passed. and this was the way the officers and men on the Ohio had to work to prevent Morgan from reaching Indiana, whose people were wholly unprepared for a movement which, had it succeeded, must have been most disastrous to the State. Morgan's object after devastating Indiana was to march into Ohio with the hope of capturing Cincinnati and plundering it. This, to say nothing of the loss to the citizens of their property, would have been an indelible disgrace to the Federal cause. Morgan pushed his way leisurely along the bank of the Ohio, calculating that he could cross from one side to the other as circumstances might require in order to  elude any pursuing force, although he knew of none in the vicinity that he need fear, and he intended that his followers should enjoy themselves among the fleshpots of the North, and leave the marks of their trail so wide that the Union people would remember John Morgan's raid for a century to come. Indeed he marched so leisurely and committed so many depredations that the people began to rise and arm themselves in the interior on his left, which induced him to cling to the river bank, little dreaming of the danger threatened him from the gun-boats. General Judah's forces pushing after him, Morgan determined to cross the river, but here he was confronted by Fitch and his “tinclads,” which were spread out for the space of two miles ready to prevent his passage. As the river was fordable in many places, Morgan could easily have crossed with all his forces but for the presence of the gun-boats. As soon as the Confederate column appeared in sight, they received a volley that staggered them so they gave up the idea of crossing at that point and continued up the river, while the gun-boats kept ahead shelling the enemy whenever they showed themselves. It was a novel sight, a flotilla of gun-boats (very “gallinippers” ) in pursuit of a land force. It was in every respect a new feature of the war. When Morgan found himself hemmed in on the left, on the right, and in the rear, he saw that his best course was to push on up the Ohio to a point where the water was too low to float the gun-boats, probably not dreaming that the vessels had been selected for just such an emergency and drew barely sixteen inches. With all he could do, Morgan could find no place to cross, for the gun-boats pressed close to him night and day, firing upon his men whenever they approached the river. This odd march of the Confederates and the pursuit of the gun-boats continued up the river for five hundred miles. On the morning of the 19th of July, Fitch attacked Morgan's troops just above Buffington Island. The enemy made a desperate resistance with artillery and musketry for over an hour, at the end of which time they broke and fled, leaving behind two pieces of artillery, wagons, horses, arms, etc. A portion of them rallied and moved rapidly up along the river bank; but Fitch followed them so closely that they soon scattered among the hills out of the reach of the shells. The road along the bank was strewed with plunder left by the Confederates--cloth, boots, shoes, and dainties of every description. Among the articles abandoned were some carriages, one of which was said to have been used by Morgan when weary of horseback exercise. The gunboats pushed on up river to look after the remnant of Morgan's band, leaving it to General Judah to pick up the stragglers in the rear. About fifteen miles above the scene of his last conflict, Fitch encountered another portion of Morgan's command who were fording the river. The current was here so swift and the channel so narrow and crooked, that it was sometime before the gun-boat could get within range. At length Fitch opened on the enemy, emptying a number of saddles and driving most of them back to the bank, whence they started off up the river again; a few got across the river and escaped; and twenty horses, whose riders had perhaps been drowned or shot, were left standing on the bank. On went Fitch till no more enemies were to be seen and he was brought to a stand by shoals he could not pass. This was the end of Morgan's raid, one of the most remarkable events of the civil war, and the very boldness of which almost insured its success. It could not have been intended to benefit the Confederate cause, and must be regarded as an insane military frolic. The rude partisan who had conceived the plan which he carried out with such bravery and zeal, meeting at first with no opposition, seems to have fancied himself master of the situation. He lost his head, and when he took to riding in a carriage his followers began to lose faith in him, which may account for the numerous desertions and for the rapidity with which the raiders fled from the gun-boats. But for the energy of Lieutenant-Commander Fitch, Morgan's enterprise would doubtless have been disastrous to the people of Indiana and Ohio and disgraceful to the United States Government, which had taken so little pains to guard against such incursions. Morgan and most of his men were captured, and although he had committed no greater infractions of the laws of war than many others, he and his officers were sent to the Ohio penitentiary. To have shot him as he stood at bay, like a wild boar in the forest, would have been kinder and more in keeping with the romantic nature of his enterprise. The Secretary of the Navy wrote to Lieutenant-Commander Fitch, eulogizing his conduct in the highest terms. Maj.-Gen. Burnside and Brig.-Gen. Cox also wrote the warmest acknowledgements to Admiral Porter for the part Fitch had taken in the capture of Morgan. Fitch certainly demonstrated the importance of the little “tinclads,” which seemed from their appearance to have been gotten up more for pleasureboats than for war purposes, where a strong shot was liable to send them to the bottom.  After the loss of the Cincinnati, on which occasion Lieutenant Bache and his officers and men exhibited so much coolness and bravery, Bache was ordered to Command the Lexington. sister-ship to the Taylor, and one of the gun-boats that had braved the storm of battle at Belmont, Shiloh, Fort Henry, Donelson and Arkansas Post. The Confederates were again assembling in White River, where it was easy for them to get from Little Rock. Arkansas, and escape back again if attacked. Lieutenant-Commander Bache was ordered up White River to suppress these raiders, whose zeal and persistency seemed without limit. The great Confederate armies of the West appeared to have been divided into small bodies, which could move with greater celerity. The Lexington, Cricket and Marmora were the vessels comprising Lieutenant Bache's command. On the arrival of the expedition at Des Arc, it burned a large warehouse filled with Confederate stores, which the thoughtless enemy had supposed was safe from the attack of gun-boats. On the second morning, on arriving off the mouth of Little Red River, a narrow and tortuous tributary of the White, the Cricket was sent up that stream in pursuit of two Confederate steamers, while the Lexington went twenty-five miles further up the White to Augusta. At that place Lieutenant-Commander Bache was informed that the indefatigable General Price was assembling an army at Brownsville, and that two kindred spirits, Generals Kirby Smith and Marmaduke, were with him. Lieutenant Bache immediately proceeded up the Little Red River and met the Cricket returning with her two prizes, after having destroyed a pontoon bridge constructed by General Marmaduke. As the two captured steamers were the only ones relied on for transportation in this river, the schemes of the Confederates were thwarted for the time being, and the fact that gun-boats had penetrated their lines and were destroying their pontoons and stores quite dampened the ardor of the three chiefs. Although no blood was spilled, this incursion of the little flotilla was equal to a victory over General Price, whom it would have required an army of twenty thousand men to drive back. By these movements of the gun-boats the Confederate transportation on the rivers was broken up — they had not a steamer left in this vicinity except one on the White River. A little later, Volunteer-Lieutenant J. P. Couthouy, commanding the Osage, who had been sent to cruise in Red River, receiving information of a Confederate steamer tied to the bank in his neighborhood, fitted out an expedition of twenty men under command of Chief Engineer Thomas Doughty. The party, after incredible labor, forcing their way through the thick undergrowth and vines, surprised the steamer lying at the bank and captured her. A few moments later Mr. Doughty caught sight of another steamer, which he also captured in a similar manner, and besides her crew found himself in possession of nine Confederate soldiers, commanded by an aide to General ( “Dick” ) Taylor. The aide had been sent up for the Fulton, a remarkably fine vessel, to transport some troops across Atchafalia Bay. The other steamer was filled with military stores. There was an impassable shoal across the Red River at that time, and as Chief Engineer Doughty could not take the steamers out of the river he burned them with all their stores, and returned safely to his vessel. These steamers were a great loss to the Confederates in that quarter as their means of transporting troops and supplies by water was greatly impaired, growing smaller by degrees and beautifully less, and confining the raiders within narrower limits than ever. After the capture of Vicksburg the gun-boats were stationed all along the Mississippi from Cairo to Red River, and on the Ohio, Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers. The gun-boats were in divisions extending between specified points, each under command of an officer in the regular Navy. Strict discipline was maintained and all the spare time was devoted to exercising the men with the great guns and small arms. Most of the officers in the squadron were voluneers, natives of the West, who had never had any naval experience previous to the war, but it was wonderful to see how quickly they accommodated themselves to circumstances and what excellent officers they became. Their energy and zeal was equal to their courage, and many of them made fine records before the war ended. The commanding officers of the divisions were well qualified as instructors as well as leaders, and the exploits of many of the vessels, if properly set forth, would adorn the pages of history. Some of the boldest and most enterprising officers in the fleet were pilots and engineers, who, leaving the steering-wheel or the engine, and buckling on sword and pistols, would start out on the most hazardous expeditions. These officers would go into action as if it were pastime, the engineers well knowing that a single shot striking the boiler — which in many cases stood unprotected on the deck — would scald every one near it to death, and the pilots feeling that they were special targets for the enemy  to shoot at. To kill a pilot or an engineer at his post of duty would excite as much glee among the Confederates as if they had gained an important victory. The men who served in the Mississippi squadron as pilots and engineers are to this day ostracized by Confederate sympathizers for their devotion to the cause of their country. The pilots received neither prize-money nor pension, and there are some of them who now suffer from the wounds and exposure to which they were subjected. Comparatively few of them remain to read this tribute to their fidelity to the cause of the Union, but those who still live well know the estimation in which they are held by their Commander-in-chief, who has never failed to press their claims on the gratitude of their country whenever an opportunity occurred. Lieutenant-Commander S. L. Phelps performed important service in the Tennessee River, his command extending from Fort Henry as far up stream as his vessels could ascend. He chose command of this district to enable him to attend to the reconstruction of the Eastport, a vessel captured by him in the Tennessee after the fall of Fort Henry. At the time of her capture the Confederates were transforming the vessel into an iron-clad ram. This was the Eastport, hitherto mentioned in our narrative. Phelps was very active in harassing the enemy, and gave them no rest. His first act after. assuming command on the Tennessee was to proceed from Paducah, Ky., with the Covington, Queen City, Argosy, Silver Cloud and Champion, up the river, destroying everything on the way that could be of any use to the enemy. All boats and scows were destroyed, so that communication from one bank to another was pretty effectually cut off. The Covington ascended as far as Eastport, the highest point attainable at that stage of the river, offering protection to Unionists and bringing out of the country those desiring to escape conscription; for at that time the enemy had strong parties going through Tennessee seizing upon all the able-bodied men they could find to recruit the Confederate army. Among these were many who would not willingly have served against the Union. Thus the Confederate government, after dragging Tennessee out of the Union, making it the theatre of war, destroying its resources and reducing its people to penury, gave the final stroke in the shape of conscription. The conscripts were seized and bundled off pretty much as slaves were transported in former days. This was the “liberty” promised the Southern people by their leaders when they started on their wild crusade against the Union. Had they succeeded, there would have been such a despotism established in this country as was never dreamed of. Lieutenant-Commander Phelps determined to try and break up these conscription raids if possible, and as he could not land parties of sufficient force to cope with the enemy, he made an arrangement with Lieutenant-Colonel Breckenridge at Fort Henry to supply a body of cavalry for the purpose. There was a conscription party at Linden, Tennessee, which had made itself particularly odious, and it was arranged that Colonel Breckenridge should be landed with his men at a certain point, and the gun-boats should be spread along the river, so that the troops could retreat to them in case the enemy was too strong to be resisted. The gun-boats being placed at night in the positions assigned them, Phelps dropped
|Lieutenant Commander S. Ledyard Phelps.|