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The distance from the head of the island to the Fort is a mile and a quarter. As soon as the four boats came into position, the Cincinnati opened fire at thirty-four minutes past twelve o'clock, with an eight-inch Dahlgren gun, throwing a shell with a fifteen-second fuse into the Fort. The Carondelet and the St. Louis each gave the same kind of missile, while the Essex threw an eighty-pound shell.

The rebels instantly replied, and the firing became general, though not at first rapid. The commanders obeyed the instructions, kept their boats in a line with the Cincinnati, and fired with deliberate aim. The consequence was, that almost every shell dropped in the right place.

As only the bow-guns were used, there were only twelve guns brought to bear upon the Fort, and in return about the same number of guns were brought to bear by the rebels upon the boats. As soon as the four boats were sufficiently advanced, the Lexington, Tyler, and Conestoga reached the head of the island, elevated their guns and joined in the fight, taking deliberate aim and dropping their shells into the Fort and camp.

Steadily onward moved the boats, so nearly equal that at times they were almost in even line, throwing their shells as if practising at a target.

And now there was a visible commotion in the rebel camp. The first shell from the Cincinnati threw the troops into disorder, and at the fourth round, unable to stand the terrible hail which was bringing sure destruction, they broke and fled, leaving arms, ammunition, provisions, blankets, tents — everything, and poured out of the intrenchment a motley, panic-stricken rabble, taking the road toward Dover. A portion jumped on board a small steamboat which was lying in the creek above the Fort, and escaped up the river. A few shells from the boats would have stopped them, and doubtless would have caused terrible slaughter, but Com. Foote had a definite purpose in view — the taking of the Fort, and he was not to be swerved from that.

When the cannonade opened, the troops which were marching to gain the rear of the enemy, impeded by the swollen creeks, were not more than half-way to their designed positions, but with the first gun from the Cincinnati they gave a loud hurrah, and of their own accord broke into the double-quick, fearing they would be too late to have a hand in it. Their fears were well grounded, and the promise of Com. Foote to Gen. Grant was fulfilled, as the sequel will show.

Straight onward moved the boats, swerving neither to the right nor the left. As they neared the Fort their fire became more and more destructive. The sand-bags and gabions were knocked about, covering the guns and smothering those who served them. At an early moment in the fight the rifled gun of the rebels burst, but they did not slacken fire or seem discouraged. They fired with great accuracy, as will be hereafter seen, selecting the weakest spots of the gunboats, as their commander, Gen. Tilghman, said, for their points of sight. The gunboats were repeatedly hit, and those portions which were not plated with iron were badly riddled.

The fight had lasted fifty minutes with scarcely a casualty on our part, when a twenty-four pound shot entered the Essex, passed through the thick oak planking surrounding the boilers and engines, and entered the starboard boiler, instantly disabling her, filling the entire boat with steam, and scalding a large portion of her crew. She at once dropped behind, and floated down with the stream, till taken up by a tug and towed to the encampment. The rebels were greatly encouraged. They revived their flagging fire, and evidently felt that victory was still to be theirs. But not for a moment faltered the fleet. They kept right on, straight toward the batteries, as if nothing had happened. They were now in close range. Their shells tore up the embankments as they exploded directly over the guns. One eighty-pound shell killed or wounded every person serving one of the guns, while the shots of the enemy which struck the iron plating glanced off, doing no harm.

There was no sign of backing out — none of stopping on the part of Com. Foote--and those who beheld the fleet supposed from the indications that he was going to run straight on to the shore and pour in his fire at two rods' distance. Such coolness, determination, and energy had not been counted on by the rebel general, and at forty-six minutes past one, or one hour and twelve minutes from the commencement of the fight, when the gunboats were within three or four hundred yards of the Fort, the rebel flag came down by the run. In an instant all firing ceased. The rebels had raised a white flag, signifying a desire for a truce, but the smoke hid it from view, and no one on board the fleet observed it, and the shells were pouring in at such a rate which would not admit of delay, after the thought had once taken possession of the rebels' minds that it was time to give in. Conditions were of minor consideration.

The St. Louis being nearest, immediately sent a boat on shore, and the Stars and Stripes went up with a wild huzzah from the crews. Gen. Tilghman, who commanded the rebels, asked for Commodore Foote. Word was sent from the Cincinnati that Commodore Foote would be happy to receive him on board that gunboat, and the Cincinnati's gig was sent to the shore. The rebel General entered it and soon stood before the Commodore.

Gen. Tilghman asked for terms. “No, sir,” said the Commodore, “your surrender must be unconditional.”

“Well, sir, if I must surrender, it gives me pleasure to surrender to so brave an officer as you.”

“You do perfectly right to surrender, sir; but I should not have surrendered on any condition.”

“Why so? I do not understand you.”

“Because I was fully determined to capture the Fort or go to the bottom.”

The rebel General opened his eyes at this remark,

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