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[172] a “salt-lick.” Woe to rebel caput that was lifted ever so quickly above the parapet for a glance at Yankee operations. Fifty eyes instantly sighted it, and fifty fingers drew trigger on it, and thereafter it was seen no more. Writhing over on his back, the sharpshooter would reload and then twist back, in all the operation not exposing so much as the tip of his elbow to the enemy.

About eleven o'clock three regiments — the Fourth Illinois on the left, the Forty-ninth on the right; and the Eighteenth in the centre — under command of Col. Morrison, started on double-quick down the declivity with a view of storming the outer breastwork. As they reached the bottom of the bluff Col. Morrison received a ball in his hip, and fell from his horse. Seeing their leader fall, and nobody appearing to take his place, the regiments wavered, and finally fell back, gaining the top of the hill in good order, but with considerable loss.

Again, in the course of the day, the Twenty-fifth Indiana made a break for a breastwork in front of them, but were met by a force of the enemy triple their own, and were, after fighting desperately for nearly an hour, forced to retire.

These were the main efforts of the land forces during the day, aside from the bushwhacking — this was kept up as long as the light would permit a man to sight a barrel. Once during the night the enemy sallied out in force, and made a determined attempt to capture Taylor's Chicago battery, but were driven back with a heavy loss as their only recompense. The whole day was of the busiest and most exciting description. There was not a single instant from ten o'clock until night that the woods were not filled with the sharp crack of small arms, the heavy roar of artillery, and the swift, whistling rush of the rebel grape-shot as it scoured incessantly through the timber — a perfect tempest of iron hail.

Our total loss through the day was believed at the time to reach about thirty killed and one hundred and seventy wounded. This large number of casualties resulted, to a great extent, from the imprudence of the men themselves. They were so anxious to fight that they hesitated at no exposure to obtain a shot at the enemy. A large number of the wounds were caused by falling limbs, which were wrenched off by the fiery showers of grape sent from the rebel batteries.

During the time that the land forces were engaged, the iron-clad gunboat Carondelet, went up and singly engaged the rebel batteries. She fired one hundred and two shots, and received no great damage in all the tremendous fire to which she was exposed, save in the case of a single shot. This, a monster mass of iron, weighing at least one hundred and twenty-eight pounds, entered one of her forward ports and wounding eight men in its passage, dashed with terrific force against the breastwork of coal-bags in front of the boilers, and there was stopped. Soon after this she retired from the unequal contest, having covered herself with glory for having so long singly withstood the enormous force of the rebels' entire water-batteries.

Thus ended the operations of Thursday. The results, although accompanied by a comparatively heavy loss on our side, were in the main satisfactory. The courage and eagerness of our troops were tested, the range and bearing of the enemy's guns obtained, and a thorough examination made of all the grounds adjacent to the Fort.

Friday, the work of disembarking the troops and stores brought by the transports was commenced. By noon the forces had all landed, and were on their way to join the main body.

The only event of importance that occurred during the day, was a heavy engagement between the gunboats and the Fort. About two P. M. the Fort threw a few shells at the transports, but, however, failed in reaching them by about half a mile. Soon after the whole fleet of seven gunboats moved up — the four iron boats in advance and ahead, the three wooden boats at a discreet distance in the rear. At about a mile the iron boats opened from their bow-guns, and were replied to promptly by the Fort.

I secured a position about half-way between the boats and Fort, a little out of the line of fire, and there for two hours had the pleasure of listening to a concert of the most gigantic order. At first the roar from Fort and boats was unbroken for a single instant, so rapid was the firing, while the air high overhead seemed filled with a million of hissings, as the heavy storm of shells tore furiously ahead on their mission of destruction. In about half an hour, the fire from the Fort began to slacken, and shortly after was continued from only three guns — the rest apparently having been silenced by our fire. At this time the boats were within some four hundred yards, and were on the point of using grapeshot, when a shot disabled the steering apparatus of the Louisville, by carrying off the top of the wheelhouse, and knocking the wheel itself into fragments. There was a tiller aft, and this was instantly taken possession of by the pilot — but he had scarcely reached it, ere the rudder was carried away by a shot from the Tyler. Of course the boat became instantly unmanageable, and swung around, receiving a shot in the wood-work towards the stern, which, I believe, wounded several seamen. Under these circumstances, it was thought best to retire, and accordingly the whole fleet fell back to the position it had occupied in the morning. The most serious damage sustained during the action was from one of those monster one hundred and twenty-eight-pound shots, which passed through a bow-port of the Louisville and dismounted the second gun on the starboard quarter, killing three men and wounding six others. A captain of one of the guns was cut completely in two, and spattered his brains over Capt. Dove, who stood by him, and otherwise so mangled him that scarcely a resemblance to humanity remained. The same boat also received a shot near the water-line, which, while it did not penetrate the hull, started the timbers so as to set her leaking badly. During the night, however, all damage was repaired, and this morning she is as ready for active service as

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W. R. Morrison (2)
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