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[180] battery,) Dresser, and Swartz would occasionally exchange a valentine, as they were playfully called, but there were no such bloody affairs as had characterized the operations of the day previous. The batteries, too, had got the range of one another's positions so accurately, that I imagine both parties had preferred, in absence of any positive orders to the contrary, to linger beside the camp-fire just out of range of the other's guns, than to indulge in idle badinage.

The long-expected gunboat fleet, together with the reenforcements, had, however, come to hand, and it was expected that the latter could be brought up, so as to join with the other forces in a general assault in the rear, while the gunboats attacked in front. The distance from the river to the left of our right wing was, however, so great that but few regiments arrived even before dark. Gen. Grant's judgment, therefore, much against his will, led him to adjourn the assault until he had all his available force in proper position.

The bombardment of the gunboat fleet began about half-past 2, and continued two hours. Four of the iron-clad and two of the wooden boats participated in the fight, which was of a fearful nature. Expecting the assault on the rear of the Fort, I was not present to witness the naval attack, and shall not attempt, therefore, to give any detailed account of it. It is, however, described by the officers engaged in it as altogether exceeding in fierceness the bombardment of Fort Henry. At all events, the effect upon the boats was much more severe, and subsequent investigations have led me to believe that the injury inflicted on the rebels was not so great either as at the fortification. This latter is, probably, owing to the fact that the twelve guns of the Fort commanding the river were at a considerable elevation, and it therefore was much more difficult for the naval gunners to get their exact range, or, once obtained, to keep it, while the boats were steadily advancing.

The rebel officers commanding the river batteries also assure me that the practice of our gunners in the excitement of the bombardment was much inferior to that displayed in the reconnoissance — when matters were conducted with more deliberation. But be this as it may, it was gallantly conducted, and gallantly fought, and earned for Flag-Officer Foote and his gallant corps of officers additional laurels. It was not until four of his boats, under the terrific force of the enemy's shots, were fairly at the mercy of the current, that the signal for retirement was given, and that it was reluctantly ordered, and still more reluctantly obeyed, who can doubt? In the way of a test of the resisting powers of the iron-clad boats, the affair was, however, a great triumph. Although under a perfect shower of iron pellets, from the mammoth one hundred and twenty-eight-pound to the rifled thirty-two-pound shot, and each boat hit from twenty to fifty times, the mortality was comparatively slight. It is probable, too, that the boats might undergo a score of as severe ordeals without being incapacitated to the extent they were. The balls which demolished pilot-houses and cut rudder-chains can only be regarded as chance shots, which in a dozen or more contests would never happen to fall in the particular place which in this instance proved so disastrous.

Saturday, which was destined to witness the grand denouement of the tragedies which had a scene about Donelson, was cold, damp, and cheerless. Our troops, however, had but little time to cogitate upon the weather, or any other subject, ere they were called upon to attend to more serious matters. The enemy, during the night, had transferred several of their batteries to portions of their works within a few hundred feet of which our extreme right wing was resting. Upon the first coming of dawn these batteries suddenly opened on the Ninth, Eighteenth, Twenty-ninth, Thirtieth, and Thirty-first regiments, comprising Oglesby's brigade, and who had the advance. Simultaneously with the opening of the batteries, a force of about twelve thousand infantry and a regiment of cavalry was hurled against the brigade with a vigor which, made against less steady and well-disciplined troops, must surely have resulted in their entire demolition.

Sudden and unexpected as was the sally on the part of the enemy, it did not find the gallant Illinoisians unprepared to meet them. The attack was made in columns of regiments which poured in upon the little band from no less than three different directions. Every regiment of the brigade found itself opposed to three, and in many cases to no less than four different regiments. Undismayed, however, by the greatly superior force of the enemy, and unsupported by adequate artillery, the brigade not only held their own, but upon two occasions actually drove the rebels fairly into their entrenchments, but only to be pressed back again into their former position, until at last, having expended every round of their ammunition, they were obliged to retire and give way to the advancing regiments of Colonel W. H. L. Wallace's brigade of the Eleventh, Twentieth, Seventeenth, Forty-fifth, Forty-eighth Illinois, and Forty-ninth Indiana regiments.

Here again was the battle continued with redoubled vigor, now one side and now another giving way. Our troops fought with the coolness of veterans and the desperation of devils. I would not diminish the gallantry of our own troops by saying that the enemy did not fight bravely and well. They did both. An exact statement of the varying fortunes of the field for the three or four hours following the first attack, it is impossible at present to definitely present. Suffice it to say, our troops fought, and not only fought, and fought courageously, but fought coolly and scientifically. In the thickest of the fight, where officers had to remove the dead bodies of their men out of the way of the backward wheels, regiments coolly performed manoeuvres which Scott in his Tactics pronounces impossible to be made on the battle-field.

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