braved secessionists and spoke their views freely, but in Mississippi and Alabama what was said was guarded. “If we dared express ourselves freely, you would hear such a shout greeting your coming as you never heard.” “We know there are many Unionists among us, but a reign of terror makes us afraid of our shadows.” We were told, too: “Pring us a small, organized force, with arms and ammunition for us, and we can maintain our position, and put down rebellion in our midst.” There were, it is true, whole communities, who, on our approach, fled to the woods, but these were where there was less of the loyal element, and where the fleeing steamers in advance had spread tales of our coming with fire-brands, burning, destroying, ravishing and plundering. The crews of these vessels have had a very laborious time, but have evinced a spirit in the work highly creditable to them. Lieuts. Commanding Gwin and Shirk have been untiring, and I owe to them and to their officers many obligations for our entire success. I am, respectfully, your obedient servant,
Cincinnati Gazette narrative.
on board the Flag-ship St. Louis, near Paducah, February 12.I have just learned the following interesting particulars of an expedition up the Tennessee River. The telegraph has, I believe, meagrely sketched some of the facts. What I give you is “ex cathedra.” On the sixth instant, soon after the surrender of Fort Henry, Commodore Foote gave orders to Capt. S. L. Phelps, of the Conestoga, to proceed up the Tennessee River, in command of a division consisting of the Tyler, under, the command of Lieut. Gwin; the Lexington, under command of Lieut. Shirk; and his own vessel. After dark of the same day, the flotilla arrived at the railroad-crossing twenty-five miles above Fort Henry, and destroyed a large amount of camp equipage abandoned by the fleeing rebels. The draw of the bridge was found closed, and the machinery for working it disabled. About a mile and a half above the bridge were several rebel transport steamers, making good headway up the stream. Capt. Phelps ordered a squad of men to open the draw. This was done in about an hour. The Tyler being the slowest of the gunboats, Lieut. Gwin landed a force to destroy a portion of the railroad track, and to secure such military stores as might be found, while Captain Phelps and Lieut. Shirk, with the Conestoga and Lexington, followed the fugitive rebels with great speed. In five hours the Conestoga succeeded in forcing the rebels to abandon and burn three of their boats, loaded with military stores. The first one fired by the rebels, the Samuel Orr, had on board a quantity of submarine batteries, which very soon exploded. The second one was freighted with powder, cannon, grape, balls, etc. Fearing an explosion from the fired boats, (there were two of them close together,) Capt. Phelps had stopped at a distance of one thousand yards, but even then the skylights of the Federal boats were broken by the concussion; the light upper deck was raised bodily, doors were forced open, and locks and fastenings everywhere broken. The whole river for a half a mile round, was completely beaten up by the falling fragments, and the showers of shot and balls. The house of a reputed Union man was blown to pieces. It is suspected there was some such design in landing the boats in front of the doomed house. The Lexington having fallen astern, and without a pilot on board, Capt. Phelps concluded to wait for both of the boats to come up. They all proceeded up the river. Lieut. Gwin had destroyed some of the trestle-work at the end of the bridge, burning also a lot of camp equipage. J. N. Brown, formerly a lieutenant in the Federal navy, now of the confederates, had fled with such precipitation as to leave his papers behind him. Lieut. Gwin got possession of these; they consisted of an official history of the rebel floating preparations on the Mississippi, Cumberland and Tennessee. Lieut. Brown, it appears, had charge of the construction of the rebel gunboats. At night, on the seventh, the flotilla arrived at a landing in Hardin County, Tennessee, known as Cerro Gordo, where they found the steamer Eastport being converted into a rebel gunboat. Armed boats' crews were immediately sent on board. On reaching her, it was found that sh had been scuttled and the section-pipes broken. These leaks were soon stopped. A number of rifle shots were fired at the Federal boats, but a couple of well-directed shells dispersed the rebels. On examination, Capt. Phelps found that there were large quantities of lumber prepared for filling up the Eastport; that the vessel itself, two hundred and eighty feet in length, was in excellent condition, and already half finished. A considerable quantity of the iron plating was lying on the bank, and everthing at hand to complete her. Lieut. Gwin remained with the Tyler to guard the prize, timber, etc., while the other boats proceeded up the river. Soon after daylight, on the eighth, they passed Eastport, Mississippi, and at Chickasaw, further up near the State line, seized the steamers Sallie Wood and Muscle, the former laid up, and the latter freighted with iron, destined for Richmond, for rebel use. The flotilla proceeded 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 of Florence, three steamers were discovered by our men, but they 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 loaded and stored. Our flotilla took possession of as much of these stores as they could bring away, and destroyed the remainder. A large quantity