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[473]

Capt. John Rodgers, in the Weehawken, had been several days in Warsaw sound ere the Atlanta made her appearance. At length, just after daylight,1 he espied her emerging from Wilmington river, with the Rebel flag defiantly exalted. Perceiving his approach, the Atlanta sent him a ball, then halted to await his coming. The Rebel tenders, it was said, had only come down to tow up the prizes, leaving the Atlanta at liberty to pursue her victorious career: their decks being crowded with ladies, who had voyaged from Savannah to enjoy the spectacle and exult over the victory.

But there was not much of a fight — certainly not a long one. Rodgers disdained to answer the Rebel's fire till lie had shortened the intervening distance to 300 yards; when, sighting his 15-inch gun, he struck and shivered the shutter of one of her port-holes, with the iron and wood-work adjacent. Loading and sighting again, he fired and struck her iron pilot-house; carrying it away bodily, and severely wounding two of her three pilots. His next shot grazed the wreck of what had been the pilot-house; his fifth, fired at 100 yards' distance, smashed through her side, bending in her four inches of iron armor, shivering eight inches of plank, killing one and wounding 13 of her gunners; passing through and falling into the water. Hereupon, the Rebel flag came down and a white one went up; just 26 minutes after Rodgers first descried his antagonist; and 15 after she had opened the battle. Her consorts slunk away unharmed; their passengers returning to advise their fellow-citizens that raising the siege of Charleston was not so easy a task as they had fondly supposed it. The Atlanta, it now appeared, had grounded, broadside to, just as she began the fight, but had nevertheless fired briskly and harmlessly to the end of it. She had 4 large guns and 165 men.

Gen. Quincy A. Gillmore having relieved Gen. Hunter,2 as Corn. Dahlgren soon after relieved3 Com. Dupont, movements were at once set on foot looking to systematic operations against Fort Sumter and Charleston. To a comprehension of these movements, a preliminary glance at the situation seems necessary.

Gen. Gillmore found in the Department of the South a total force of 17,463 officers and soldiers — the most of them veterans of approved quality, in good part brought thither by Foster. Considering the naval cooperation that might at all times be counted on, his real force must, for all purposes except that of a determined advance into the heart of the enemy's territory, have been fully equal to 20,000 men. For defense, against any but a sudden attack or surprise, it was hardly less than 25,000. But he had so many posts to hold in a hostile region, and such an extensive line (250 miles) to picket, that 11,000 was the very utmost that he could venture to concentrate for any offensive purpose that might not be consummated within a few days at farthest. And he had, apart from the navy, 96 heavy guns (all serviceable but 12 13-inch mortars, which proved too large, and were left unused), with an abundance of munitions, engineering tools, &c.

1 June 17, 1863.

2 June 12.

3 July 6.

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