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[70] were made in the disposition of the troops on board, and soon the whole fleet, under convoy of the gunboats Essex, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Carondelet, Lexington, Tyler and Conestoga, were ploughing their way swiftly up the muddy Tennessee, toward the Fort. When morning dawned, it revealed the transports safely moored to the bank, within ten miles of the rebel fortification. The Fort is situated on the right bank of the Tennessee, about seventy miles above its junction with the Ohio, and about ten miles south of the State line.

Soon after our arrival, three of the gunboats, under orders from Gen. Grant, proceeded cautiously toward the fort, shelling as they went, the woods on either side, to discover any concealed batteries, which might exist there, and afterward the Fort itself, to draw its fire, and ascertain the range of its guns. In the course of this reconnoissance, the Essex received a shot from a thirty-two-pound rifled gun, penetrating a corner of the Captain's cabin, which was not protected by sheathing, and splintering the woodwork to some extent, but doing no other damage. The aim of this gun was generally very accurate, the shots falling always in line of our boats, and frequently very close to them. The other guns of the Fort were less skilfully handled. Having ascertained thus the nearest distance within which it would be safe to disembark, the transports again started, and moved up to within about four miles of the Fort, where the troops were landed, and prepared to encamp for the night. The next day was consumed in making the necessary disposition of the troops for the attack, which was set for Thursday, the sixth inst.

During the day the gunboats Tyler and Conestoga went up the river, and succeeded in removing six torpedoes, or infernal machines, which the rebels had sunk in the channel below the fort, in the hope of blowing up or disabling our fleet when it should attempt to approach them. These instruments were constructed of boiler-iron, were about five feet in length, and contained sixty pounds of powder each. Had they been suffered to remain and explode, as they were intended to do, they would doubtless have inflicted serious damage to the boats; but Capts. Phelps and Walke succeeded in removing them without injury. During this time, a small river steamer, which had been employed by the rebels as a ferry-boat, between the Fort and the railroad, which crosses the river fifteen miles above, came out several times, from behind the shelter of an island, where she was ensconced, to take observations of our proceedings, but retired again before our boats could get a shot at her.

That night our troops, with the exception of Gen. Smith's brigade, which had crossed to the west side of the river, encamped on a ridge of hills parallel with the river, and about half a mile from it. Their camp-fires, scattered all along the sides of the ridge among the trees, for more than a mile, presented that night one of the most beautiful sights I have ever witnessed, and no doubt being observed by the enemy, gave the impression that our force was much larger than was really the case. Probably this might have had something to do in causing their precipitate flight afterward.

During the night a tremendous storm arose, accompanied with thunder and lightning, thoroughly soaking the soft clay soil, and rendering locomotion, especially in the low grounds, almost impossible.

In spite of this impediment, however, early the next morning order was given to prepare to march, and the forces were soon formed in four divisions, as follows: the First and Second brigades, comprising the Eighth, Eighteenth, Twenty-seventh, Twenty-ninth, Thirtieth, and Thirty-first; Eleventh, Twentieth, Forty-fifth, and Forty-eighth Illinois regiments, with one regiment, (the Fourth Illinois,) and four independent companies of cavalry and four batteries of artillery, the whole under command of Brig.-Gen. McClernand, were to move across the country to a point on the road leading from the Fort to the town of Dover, on the Cumberland, for the purpose of preventing the enemy from receiving reinforcements from that direction, or of making their escape by that route, should the gunboats succeed in driving them from their intrenchments.

The Second division, comprising the Seventh, Ninth, Twelfth, Twenty-eighth, and Forty-first Illinois regiments, the Eleventh Indiana, the Seventh and Twelfth Iowa, the Eighth and Thirteenth Missouri, with artillery and cavalry, under the command of Gen. Smith, were to move up the west bank of the river, take possession of and occupy a hill overlooking the Fort, which the enemy had begun to fortify; and then a portion of the force was to re-cross the river and reinforce Gen. McClernand. Meantime, the gunboats, under command of the veteran Con. Foote, were directed to shell the Fort, and, if possible, drive the rebels from their guns. Thus surrounded and attacked on three sides at once, it was hoped that the enemy might be driven from their strong intrenchments and fall into our hands. An unconquerable determination held the minds of all, from the General commanding to the lowest private, not to return until our object was accomplished; but still, it was with much anxiety and caution that at the appointed hour of eleven the troops commenced to move forward. The forces of the enemy had been reported as probably fully equal in number to our own; they were well acquainted with the country and the facilities it afforded for attack or defence, and possessed the advantage of fighting under cover, upon ground cleared of all obstructions, while our attack must be made upon ground ill adapted by nature for the movement of troops, and rendered almost impassable by the timber which the rebels bad felled for some distance on every side.

I had taken my own position with the advance of Gen. McClernand's column, thinking that the place for obtaining a view of the affair, and by noon the whole column was in motion. Our route was along a rough cart-path which twisted and turned about among the high wooded hills,

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