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[120] Commanding Gwin to remain with the Tyler to guard the prize and to load the lumber, etc., while the Lexington and Conestoga should proceed still higher up.

Soon after daylight on the eighth we passed Eastport, Miss., and at Chickasaw, further up near the State line, seized two steamers, the Sallie Wood and Muscle--the former laid up and the latter freighted with iron, destined for Richmond and for rebel use. We then proceeded on up the river, entering the State of Alabama, and ascending to Florence at the foot of the Muscle Shoals. On coming in sight of the town, three steamers were discovered, which were immediately set on fire by the rebels. Some shots were fired from the opposite side of the river below. A force was landed, and considerable quantities of supplies, marked “Fort Henry,” were secured from the burning wrecks. Some had been landed and stored. These I seized, putting such as we could bring away on our vessels, and destroying the remainder. No flats or other craft could be found. I found, also, more of the iron and plating intended for the Eastport.

A deputation of citizens of Florence waited npon me, first desiring that they might be made able to quiet the fears of their wives and daughters, with assurances from me that they would not be molested; and secondly praying that I would not destroy their railroad bridge. As for the first, I told them we were neither ruffians nor savages, and that we were there to protect from violence and to enforce the law; and, with reference to the second, that if the bridge were away, we could ascend no higher, and that it could possess no military importance, so far as I saw, as it simply connected Florence itself with the railroad on the south bank of the river.

We had seized three of their steamers, one the half-finished gunboat, and had forced the rebels to burn six others loaded with supplies, and their loss, with that of the freight, is a heavy blow to the enemy. Two boats are still known to be on the Tennessee, and are doubtless hidden in some of the creeks, where we shall be able to find them when there is time for the search. We returned on the night of the eighth to where the Eastport lay. The crew of the Tyler had already gotten on board of the prize an immense amount of lumber, etc. The crews of the three boats set to work to finish the undertaking, and we have brought away probably two hundred and fifty thousand feet of the best quality of ship and building lumber, all the iron, machinery, spikes, plating, nails, etc., belonging to the rebel gunboats, and I caused the mill to be destroyed where the lumber had been sawed.

Lieutenant Commanding Gwin had in our absence enlisted some twenty-five Tennesseeans, who gave information of the encampment of Col. Drew's rebel regiment at Savannah, Tennessee. A portion of the six or seven hundred men were known to be “pressed” men, and all were badly armed. After consultation with Lieutenants Commanding Gwin and Shirk, I determined to make a land-attack upon the encampment. Lieutenant Commanding Shirk, with thirty riflemen, came on board the Conestoga, leaving his vessel to guard the Eastport, and, accompanied by the Tyler, we proceeded up to that place, prepared to land one hundred and thirty riflemen and a twelve-pounder rifled howitzer. Lieutenant Commanding Gwin took command of this force when landed, but had the mortification to find the camp deserted.

The rebels had fled at one o'clock in the night, leaving considerable quantities of arms, clothing, shoes, camp utensils, provisions, implements, etc., all of which were secured or destroyed, and their winter-quarters of log-huts were burned. I seized also a large mail-bag, and send you the letters giving military information. The gunboats were then dropped down to a point where arms, gathered under the rebel “press-law” had been stored, and an armed party under Second Master Goudy, of the Tyler, succeeded in seizing about seventy rifles and fowling-pieces. Returning to Cerro Gordo, we took the Eastport, Sallie Wood, and Muscle in tow, and came down the river to the railroad crossing. The Muscle sprang a leak, and all efforts failing to prevent her sinking, we were forced to abandon her, and with her a considerable quantity of fine lumber. We are having trouble in getting through the draw of the bridge here.

I now come to the, to me, most interesting portion of this report--one which has already become lengthy; but I must trust you will find some excuse for this in the fact that it embraces a history of labors and movements, day and night, from the sixth to the tenth of the month, all of which details I deem it proper to give you. We have met with the most gratifying proofs of loyalty everywhere across Tennessee and in the portions of Mississippi and Alabama we visited. Most affecting instances greeted us almost hourly. Men, women and children, several times gathered in crowds of hundreds, shouted their welcome, and hailed their national flag with an enthusiasm there was no mistaking; it was genuine and heartfelt. Those people braved everything to go to the river-bank, where a sight of their flag might once more be enjoyed, and they have experienced, as they related, every possible form of persecution. Tears flowed freely down the cheeks of men as well as of women, and there were those who had fought under the Stars and Stripes at Moultrie, who in this manner testified to their joy.

This display of feeling and sense of gladness at our success, and the hopes it created in the breasts of so many people in the heart of the Confederacy, astonished us not a little, and I assure you, sir, I would not have failed to witness it for any consideration. I trust it has given us all a higher sense of the sacred character of our present duties. I was assured at Savannah that of the several hundred troops there, more than one half, had we gone to the attack in time, would have hailed us as deliverers, and gladly enlisted with the National force.

In Tennessee, the people generally, in their enthusiasm,

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