fort; and, nearing one of the hulks, Mr. Kroehl
, the inventor of a new and powerful petard, threw it on board; but it failed to explode, because the Pinola
, having stopped her engine a moment too soon, was whirled away on the rushing current, snapping the wire hitherto connected with the petard.
The wind blowing fiercely from the north, it was half an hour before the Pinola
was again minding her helm, with her bow toward the chain.
Meanwhile, the Itasca
, Captain Caldwell
, had steamed up to the chain-supporting hulk next in order eastward, and, making fast to its side, her men, who had boarded the hulk, were studying in the darkness the economy of the cable.
A rocket thrown up from Fort Jackson
favored them with a fitful, transient light, to which a cannonade, instantly opened on them from both forts, seemed to add very little; but they steadily went on with their business; and in half an hour the great chain, vigorously plied with sledge and chisel, had been cut; the cables by which the hulk was anchored had been slipped; and now the hulk, still chained to the nearer shore, was swept resistlessly round by flood and wind until it grounded in the mud of the bank, pulling the lashed Itasca
along with it, and driving her fast aground directly in the range of both forts.
By this time, however, the Pinola
was ready to come to her rescue; and, after an hour of earnest tugging, and parting two 5-inch hawsers, she finally grappled her with an 11-inch cable, and, by help of steam and current, dragged her again into deep water and down into the kindly darkness; each vessel entirely unharmed: and the opening thus made in the barrier was speedily and constantly enlarged by the current so that a boat's crew from the Itasea, pulling up in the thick darkness two, nights later, found nothing to obstruct the upward passage of our fleet.
A new and grander fire-raft was sent down two hours after the chains were broke, only to be caught and served as her predecessors had been.
The bombardment was continued two days farther ; in part, because two of our gunboats had been so much injured as to require assistance for their rapid repair.
The morning of the 24th was fixed on for the grand attempt, of which the Rebel
officers somehow had an intimation ; so that, throughout the preceding day, the forts were silently preparing for the eventful hour at hand, while our bombardment was little more than a formality.
reported from Fort Jackson
that he had suffered very little, though 25,000 13-inch shells had been fired at him, whereof 1,000 had fallen within the fort.
(We had actually fired 5,000 only.) “God is certainly protecting us,” was his assurance.
's arrangements for passing the forts were completed at sunset.1
The mortar-boats, retaining their stations, were to cover the advance with their utmost possible fire.
Six small steamers — the Harriet Lane
, and Jackson
, the last towing the Portsmouth
— were to engage the water battery below Fort Jackson
, but not attempt to pass.
himself, with his