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[553] considerable damage; but, recovering, she passed on, the Benton getting under way and following her some distance down the river. She, however, reached in safety the batteries at Vicksburgh. It was now determined by the two commanders-in-chief to make some effort to destroy the ram, and hence, on the evening of the same day the Arkansas passed the upper fleet, Flag-Officer Farragut, with the New-Orleans fleet that had previously attacked the Vicksburgh batteries, coming up-stream, concluded to run the blockade, and, while going down, try to sink her. The flag-ship Benton, with the gunboats Louisville and Cincinnati, accompanied his fleet to within range of the forts; but the destruction of the ram was not accomplished.

Flag-Officers Farragut and Davis, with myself, on the twenty-first, held a council of war on board the Benton, and I volunteered the services of the Essex to make an attempt to destroy the ram, and the following programme was agreed on: That on the morning of the twenty-second, precisely at four o'clock, the whole available fleet under command of Flag-Officer Davis, was to get under way, and when within range to bombard the upper batteries at Vicksburgh; the lower fleet under Flag-Officer Farragut was to do the same, and attack the lower batteries; the Essex was to push on, strike the rebel ram, deliver her fire, and then fall behind the lower fleet.

On the morning herein stated I got under way and passed the Benton. Flag-Officer Davis hailed me and “wished me success.” I now pushed on, according to my understanding of the programme, and precisely at half-past 4 A. M. the enemy's upper batteries opened upon me, but I heard no response at this time from our fleets. I arrived at the ram, delivered my fire and struck her; the blow glanced, and I went high on the river-bank with the bows of the ship, where I lay ten minutes under three batteries of heavy guns. I backed off and loaded up. The enemy had drawn up three regiments of sharp-shooters and several batteries of field-pieces, ranging from six-pounders to twenty-four pounders. I found it impossible, under these circumstances, to board the rebel boat, though such was my original intention. After I delivered my fire at but five feet from the ram, we distinctly heard the groans of her wounded and saw her crew jumping overboard. She did not fire a gun after we had delivered ours, and I have since seen in the rebel papers that they admit a loss of eighteen killed and thirty-five wounded. We knocked a very large hole in her side. At this time I began to look for aid from the fleets, but without result. I ordered the pilots to get the Essex's head up-stream, with the intention of holding on until the lower fleet came up, and then make another attack on the ram. At this time I was under the guns of three batteries, one of which was not over one hundred feet off. A heavy ten-inch shot from the nearest battery struck my forward casemate, about five feet from the deck, but fortunately did not penetrate. A rifle seven and a half-inch shot, from the same battery, struck the casemate about nine feet from the deck. It penetrated the iron, but did not get through, though so severe was the blow that it started a four-inch plank two inches and eighteen feet long on the inside. A conical shell struck the casemate on the port side, as we were rounding to, penetrated the three quarter-inch iron, and came half-way through the wooden side. It exploded through, killing one man and slightly wounding three. A small piece grazed my head, and another piece tore the legs of the first master's pantaloons.

I had now been under fire for upwards of an hour, and thirty minutes of the time from eighty feet to one hundred yards of some of the enemy's heaviest batteries. I still looked for the arrival of the lower fleet, but saw nothing of it. I held on for a short time longer, but the enemy began to fire with such rapidity and we were so close that the flashes of his guns through my gun-holes drove my men from the guns. At last, through the smoke, I saw the lower fleet nearly three miles off, and still at anchor. Seeing no hope of relief or assistance, I now concluded to run the gauntlet of the enemy's lower forts and seek an anchorage below the fleet. I therefore reluctantantly gave the order to “put her head downstream;” but I was determined to be in no hurry. They had now plenty of time to prepare, and so rapid was their fire that for half an hour the hull of this ship was completely enveloped in the heavy jets of water thrown over her by the enemy's shot, shell and rifle-balls. The department may have some idea of the amount and number of shot, shell, plugs and rifle missiles thrown at this vessel, when they are now informed we were two hours and a half under fire of seventy heavy guns in battery, twenty fieldpieces and three heavy guns on board the ram. During that time this vessel was heavily struck forty-two times, and only penetrated twice. This fully proves the admirable character of the ironplating, as the thickest iron was but an inch, with one inch of India-rubber beneath, according to my method now patented.

I still hope an opportunity may yet be given me to make a second attempt to destroy the Arkansas, as I believe it can be done, and I am ready and can do it.

Very respectfully, your obed't servant,

W. D. Porter, Commanding Division of the Fleet in the Western Waters.

Commander Walke's report.

gunboat Carondelet, July 15, 1862.
sir: In obedience to your orders, passed to me yesterday by acting Fleet-Capt. Phelps, I got under way this morning, accompanied by the gunboat Tyler and steam-ram Queen of the West, and proceeded up the Yazoo on a reconnoissance. We had proceeded about six miles up the river, when we discovered a formidable-looking rebel ram or gunboat, since proved to be the celebrated Arkansas. The Queen of the West, Tyler and Carondelet at once retreated down the river to avoid being inevitably sunk, firing upon her with our stern and occasionally

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