's, 12 miles farther, or 35 from his base at Milliken's Bend
And now the lack of transportation on the river below Vicksburg
, dictated a still farther march down to Hard Times, opposite, but rather below, Grand Gulf
; extending the distance traversed from Milliken's Bend
to 70 miles.
Meantime, Commodore Porter
, at the suggestion of Gen. Grant
, had made preparation for running the batteries of Vicksburg
with his ironclads, followed by three transports; and the experiment was made1
with fair success.
The gunboats Benton
, and Mound City
all iron clads but the Price
), floated silently down the current, under cover of thick darkness, for nearly an hour ; and their crews were beginning to infer that the Rebels
had, for some reason, concluded not to assail them; when — just as they were fairly opposite the city — fire was opened on them from the up-stream batteries, and in a moment the whole bluff was ablaze with the flashes, and quaking to the roar, of heavy guns, rising tier above tier along the entire water-front of the city.
The fleet promptly responded with grape and shrapnel, firing at the city rather than the batteries, and went by unharmed; opening upon the Warrenton
batteries, as it neared them, so furious a cannonade that they scarcely attempted a reply.
The passage of the gunboats was thus triumphantly effected ; but of the three transports — Forest Queen, Henry Clay
, and Silver Wave
— which attempted to follow, under cover of the smoke, the first-named was hulled by a shot, and received another through her steam-drum, disabling her; yet she floated out of a range, and, being taken in tow by a gunboat, went through without further damage; while the Silver Wave
ran the gauntlet entirely unscathed; but the Clay was struck by a shell which set her protecting cotton-bales on fire, just as she had been stopped, to prevent a collision with the crippled Queen
; when her panic-stricken crew launched her yawl and made for the shore, leaving their vessel to float down the river in flames; till she burned to the water's edge and sunk — a total loss.
We had one man killed and two wounded by a shell on board the Benton
, but lost none beside, on either gunboats or transports.
now ordered six more transports to be sent, down, towing and partially shielded by twelve barges laden with forage.
Five of the transports made2
the venture in safety; but the Tigress
received a shot below her water-line which disabled her, so that she drifted helplessly down and sank near the Louisiana
bank, some distance below.
Of the barges, three, with five of the transports, were soon made ready for further usefulness.
The effective Rebel force in the States bordering on the Mississippi
being now mainly engaged in the defense of Vicksburg
and the Yazoo valley
had determined to retaliate one of the destructive cavalry raids of Morgan
, and Van Dorn
To this end, Col. B. H. Grierson
, with a cavalry brigade, 1,700 strong, composed of the 6th and 7th Illinois and 2d Iowa, starting3 Lagrange
, Tennessee, swept rapidly