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[723] drove them from their guns; which replied at first briskly, then more and more feebly; until, by midnight, they were utterly silenced, and, an hour later, the fort was ours; Gen. Bartram's brigade entering unopposed at 2 A. M.1 Most of the garrison escaped under cover of darkness; but 652 prisoners and 30 heavy guns, with a large quantity of munitions, fell to the victors; who forthwith turned the guns, seconded by those of the Octorara, on the smaller forts Tracy and Huger near the mouth of the Tensaw; which were speedily abandoned by the Rebels, after spiking their 8 heavy guns. And now our fleet, enlightened as to the location of torpedoes by some of the captives, succeeded in picking up 35 of them unharmed, and was thereby enabled to run up almost within shelling distance of Mobile.

Blakely had already been for four days invested by land; but its communication by water with Mobile remained open until the fall of the forts below. Our gunboats now moved up to invest it on this side; while Gen. Steele, in immediate command before it, formed his columns for a prompt, determined assault; which he appointed for 5 P. M., and which was actually delivered at 5 1/2.

The position was a very strong one, heavily fortified with abatis, palisades, chevaux de frise, and a deep, wide ditch at the base of the fort. Its front extended nearly three miles--its right was near Bayou Minetta, its left on Blakely river; and it was garrisoned by 3,000 men, under Gens. Thomas and Cockrill. Its abundant cannon swept every practicable approach.

The struggle opened on our left; where Gen. Garrard, under a fire of the 17th Ohio battery, sent forward one-third of his strong division to within 50 yards of the main works, defying a hail-storm of shell and shrapnel, to discover and indicate the safest ground over which to move up in force, preparatory to the decisive charge. Finding that there was no choice of ground — all being alike impracticable — a brief conference was held by the general officers, and closed with the word “Forward!”

The whole division at once sprang forward with a shout; to which the Rebels responded with all their guns. For nearly an hour, our men struggled with obstructions that seemed insurmountable, under a fire of shell and canister that threatened their annihilation; sometimes recoiling for a moment, when the voice of their commanders would cheer and encourage them to rally; and thus at length the abatis and other obstructions were struggled through, and the Unionists leaped into the ditch and scrambled up the face of the defenses; while Rinnekin's and Gilbert's brigades, turning the fort by our right, gained its entrance and arrested there the flight of Gen. Thomas and 1,000 of his men, who were made prisoners.

The conflict along the center, where the assault was delivered by Dennis's brigade of Veatch's division and Spiceley's and Moore's brigades of Andrews's, was far less sanguinary; yet Andrews's men, when but 40 yards from the fort, were plowed with grape from 8 guns; while our skirmishers, on reaching the brink of the ditch, were scattered by the

1 April 9.

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