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[429] with an impenetrable darkness precluding a knowledge of our position, which every turn of the wheel changed.

Our boat was not very fleet, and the barge in tow impeded a speed which might otherwise have been made with the current in our favor. The consequence was an exposure for thirty minutes to an uninterrupted fire from four batteries on the Kentucky shore, and one at the head of the Island.

The judgment which we were enabled to form from the shrieking of their shot, was that they flew from five to thirty yards over our heads. A few were heard to plunge in the water. One cause of their wild shooting was in over-estimating the distance of our boat. It was close along the bank under their guns, and had this been fully understood the rebels would have found it difficult to depress their guns to such a degree as to bear upon us without having them dismounted by an angular recoil.

After passing the foot of the Island without finding the battery there which, for several days, had been reported as mounting a number of long-range guns, a feeling of security came over our officers, and they would have been glad to make it known to the crew, and afford them relief from a long and patient suspense, but all was not over yet.

A reconnoissance made on the preceding day discovered the locality of the floating battery, three miles below the island, on the Tennessee shore, and this remained to be passed. A light was seen burning on it as we approached, and being in no wise prepared to engage it — though a feeling of this kind was exhibited, after having thus far successfully accomplished the mission — the Carondelet bore over to the Missouri shore and ran by, being fired at only six or eight times from the battery. It was said that our shooting last Thursday, when it was lying along-side the island, cut its fastenings, when it floated down to the place we found it in last night, and where it was overhauled and made fast by a rebel transport.

It evidently evinced a disinclination to fight last night, by not firing at our boat while approaching, and reserving its fire until we had passed by out of range, and even then the shooting was exceedingly stinted, as if through fear of provoking our return.

Being out of all danger from the enemy, the fact was made known to the sailors, who were relieved from a rigid silence, and permitted to join in the jubilant congratulations that passed around the boat.

A little danger, however, was still to be encountered — that of approaching our own batteries at New-Madrid, and making known the colors under which we sailed, before being mistaken and fired upon as rebels. Signal-guns, according to prearrangement, were to be fired in case of success, as the boat rounded New-Madrid Bend; but the incessant thunder rendered it highly probable that our guns might be mistaken for it, and a little delay was occasioned to avoid this error. Our friends at the fleet, it was known, were anxiously awaiting to hear the result of the hazardous enterprise, and it was feared that every moment's delay would contribute to dishearten and lead them to suspect disaster.

Orders were given to get the guns in readiness, and fire three times at intervals of one minute, and after a lapse of five minutes to fire three more guns. This was accordingly done, and the fact of the echo having borne the glad tidings back to the fleet, was made certain by a response from the flag-ship.

At the fort above New-Madrid the signal was also understood, though a misapprehension had induced them to look for three perpendicular lights — red, white and blue, with a blue centre. The non-appearance of those, however, was not thought a sufficient cause for shooting at the boat, and in a few minutes she was in the stream off New-Madrid, where Capt. Walke informed those ashore, with a speaking-trumpet, that she was the United States gunboat Carondelet. A fire was soon kindled on the banks, and the best landing-place made known by the men at the fort.

In rounding to, a misunderstanding occurred between the pilot and the engineer, by which a “stray turn ahead,” when it should have been a “turn back,” was made, resulting in getting the boat hard aground fifty yards out in the stream.

The cannon forward were all shifted to the stern; the crew withdrew also, and with the bow thus lightened, the boat backed off, and was made secure to the bank at one o'clock A. M., having been two hours in the passage, and one hour aground.

Purser Nixson, desiring to add to the joy of the gallant tars of the Carondelet, asked and obtained permission of the Captain to let them “splice the main brace.” This, though partially forbidden by regulations, was on this occasion accorded, because of the unrestricted enjoyment which should be allowed to follow all such happy issues, and when the boatswain's mate sounded, “Grog, oh!” there never was a ship's crew merrier than the one aboard the Carondelet.

Early this morning, Col. Bissell came aboard the boat, and suggested that she be run into a slough close by, and secreted from the sight of the enemy, thinking that thereby she might hereafter operate with greater effect, and derive some advantages by surprising the enemy. This suggestion was made, however, at the instance of Gen. Pope, who at the time was under the impression that the boats had passed the rebel batteries unobserved. When he was better informed, the proposed movement was abandoned.

At eight o'clock this morning, Assistant Secretary of War, Scott, and Gen. Pope came aboard to congratulate Capt. Walke.

The boats arrival has been heralded all over the camps hereabouts, and army officers have been flocking aboard all day expressing their gratification

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