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[71] in a most perplexing manner. The storm of the previous night had soaked the soft alluvial soil of the bottoms, until under the tread of the troops it speedily became reduced to the consistency of soft porridge of almost immeasurable depth, rendering marching very difficult for the infantry, and for artillery almost impassable. For some three hours we thus struggled along, when suddenly the roar of a heavy gun came booming over the hills, and another and another, told us that the gunboats had commenced the attack. For an instant the entire column seemed to halt to listen, then springing forward, we pushed on with redoubled vigor. But mile after mile of slippery hills and muddy swamps were passed over, and still the Fort seemed no nearer. We could plainly hear the roar of the guns, and the whistle of the huge shells through the air, but the high hills and dense woods completely obstructed the view.

Suddenly the firing ceased. We listened for it to recommence, but all was still. We looked in each other's faces, and wonderingly asked: “What does it mean? Is it possible that our gunboats have been beaten back?” --for that the rebels should abandon, this immense fortification, on which the labor of thousands had been expended for months, after barely an hour's defence, and before our land troops had even come in sight of them, seemed too improbable to believe. Cautiously we pressed forward, but ere long one of our advance scouts came galloping back, announcing that the rebels had abandoned the Fort, and seemed to be forming in line of battle on the hills adjoining. With a cheer our boys pressed forward. Soon came another messenger, shouting that the enemy had abandoned their intrenchments completely, and were now in full retreat through the woods. On we went, plunging through the deep mud and fording swollen creeks, until, on the summit of a hill higher than any we had previously surmounted, we came upon the outer line of the rebel fortifications. An earthen breastwork, defended by an immense long rifle-pit, stretched away on either side until it was lost to sight in the thick woods. Outside this the timber had been felled in a belt of several rods in width, forming a barrier very difficult for footmen, and utterly impassable for cavalry. This breastwork inclosed fully a square mile. Crossing it and pushing onward, we came soon to another similar line of defence, and further on still another before we reached the Fort itself — and crossing a deep slough which protects it on the land side, we stood within the rebel stronghold.

The Fort is of the class known as a full bastioned earthwork, standing directly upon the bank of the river, and encloses about two acres. It mounts seventeen heavy guns, including one teninch Columbiad, throwing a round shot of one hundred and twenty-eight pounds weight, one breech-loading rifled gun, carrying a sixty pound elongated shot, twelve thirty-two-pounders, one twenty-four-pounder rifled, and two twelve-pound-or siege-guns. Nearly all the guns are pivoted and capable of being turned in any desired direction. The Fort is surrounded by a deep moat, and, when fully garrisoned, would be almost impregnable against any force which could be brought against it from the land side. Evidently its designers did not anticipate so formidable an attack from the river, and, certainly, nothing less well defended than our iron-clad gunboats, could have attacked it with any hope of success.

The Fort showed fearful evidence of the accuracy of our fire, and the terrible force of our heavy guns. Every port facing the river was knocked out of shape; several of the enemy's guns had been hit by our shells--one had been completely dismounted and two more disabled by our shot.

The flag-staff was hit, and every one of the small log cabins which stood thickly in the centre of the open space, was riddled through and through by shot and shells. The earthen embankment, some fourteen feet in thickness, was pierced completely through in several places, but the tenacious character of the earth prevented it from forming such breeches as would ordinarily occur.

All about the guns spots of clotted gore and fragments of human flesh, showed that many lives must have been sacrificed before the Fort finally surrendered, but only four dead bodies were found within the Fort. It is believed, however, that a number of bodies were carried off by one of the rebel boats before the surrender. During the action the rifled sixty-pound gun burst, scattering its fragments in all directions, and greatly disheartening the rebels. This was the most effective gun in the Fort, and the one which had inflicted the shot on the Essex, on the day previous. This gun had been made at the Tredegar Works in Richmond, Virginia, the same establishment which cast the great gun that burst at Columbus, Ky., some time ago, by which Gen. Polk nearly lost his life. In addition to the guns found in the Fort, nine field pieces were afterwards found by our troops, at different places along the road, where they had been abandoned by the rebels in their hurried retreat.

The particulars of the attack and capture, as I afterwards learned them, were as follows:

Soon after noon the gunboats, according to the previous plan, advanced in two divisions up the river, passing on either side of a little island lying about a mile and a half below the Fort, so as in a measure to throw a cross fire upon it.

As soon as the boats appeared in sight, the Fort opened upon them fiercely. The boats advanced slowly up the river, firing moderately, until within about a mile of the Fort, when they opened their full batteries and the battle commenced in earnest. The scene is described as being terrifically grand. The air seemed filled with the flying missiles. The heavy boom of the guns and the shrieking of the shells as they tore through the air, were echoed back from the surrounding hills, till the whole space, for miles around, seemed filled with one confused roar. The Fort was soon wrapped in a cloud of smoke, which rose lazily up and floated away over the

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