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[168] of the desolate-looking place. All were astonished at the strength of the works and the vast amount of labor that had been expended upon them.

Fort Pillow is naturally the strongest place on the Lower Mississippi. The Chickasaw Bluff, on which it stands, is from seventy-five to one hundred feet high, and is cut up by ravines in a most remarkable manner. Those who have only seen it from the river have no idea how broken, rough, rolling and rugged its surface is. Before the evacuation of the Fort, ten thousand determined men could have successfully held it against ten times their number. As a defensible point it is even preferable to Columbus, and although more guns were mounted at Island No.10 than at Pillow, the former place will not compare with the latter either in commanding position or strength.

The work on Fort Pillow was begun on the thirteenth of April, 1861, and was prosecuted with great vigor during most of the summer of that year. From three to five thousand negroes, so I am informed by one of the natives, were employed upon it at one time. Its intrenchments in the rear are miles in length, and have been constructed under the superintendence of able engineers. Their counterscarps are lined with plank, and the whole works surrounded with ditches of the most impassable character.

The bluff presents a bold and almost perpendicular front to the river. From its base to the water's edge, there is a kind of plateau, two or three hundred feet wide, and generally elevated above high water-mark. Here were located the principal batteries of the enemy. Embrasures have been made for about forty guns, but appearances do not indicate that more than twenty-five have at any time been mounted. In the construction of the batteries, sand-bags, railroadiron, and heavy timber have been used without stint.

I cannot give your readers a better idea of the armament of the Fort than by making the following transcript from my memorandum — book. Passing along the line of water-batteries, about half a mile in extent, beginning at the upper end, I made the annexed entry:

1 128-pounder, rifled, casemated.

1 heavy 10-inch gun.

1 8-inch Parrott.

1 24-pounder, dismounted.

1 32-pounder, burst.

1 24-pounder, burst.

1 32-pounder, burst.

1 64-pounder, (Dahlgren,) burst.

1 32-pounder, dismounted.

1 heavy 8-inch columbiad, burst.

1 heavy 10-inch columbiad, burst.

1 13-inch mortar, burst.

1 128-pounder, dismounted.

On the bluff but eight guns and two mortars had been mounted, of which six only remained, as follows:

2 32-pounders, dismounted.

1 64-pounder, (rifled,) burst.

1 10-inch Parrott, dismounted.

2 10-inch mortars, spiked.

All these guns, except the mortars, had been heavily loaded, and fires were built around them, which burned their carriages and caused them to explode or dismount themselves when discharged.

The two ten-inch mortars are located a short distance back of the brow of the bluff, below the lower end of the water-batteries. They are old-fashioned but very good guns. The thirteen-inch mortar is split directly through the centre. Portions of one half of it are embedded in the surrounding works, and the other half is lying where it fell. The metal is porous, hard, and altogether unsuited for the use to which it was in this instance put. This confirms the statement I made some weeks ago relative to the bursting of this gun.

It appears from the statements of some of the natives, that after the surrender of Island No.10 the garrison of Fort Pillow was about twenty thousand men. All of them but about one thousand five hundred were withdrawn some six weeks ago to reenforce Beauregard at Corinth. A week ago the garrison was further weakened by the withdrawal of the Twelfth Louisiana, the only full regiment in the Fort, and during the last two or three days not more than seventy-five men remained--barely enough to make sure the work of destruction. These, we were informed, retreated into the interior, but not before performing the duty assigned them in a manner that must have been highly satisfactory to the rebel authorities; for a place more barren of trophies than Fort Pillow it would be difficult to find.

An attack upon Fort Pillow was contemplated by Col. Fitch yesterday morning, but was not made, owing to the non-fulfilment of some plans. All things were ready, however, this morning, when an assault would have been made had not the evacuation in the mean time taken place. A bridge of cypress logs had been thrown over a “sloo” between Flower Island and the Tennessee shore, on which our forces would have crossed, landing near the head of the upper battery, and in such a position as to have enfiladed the enemy's guns, without their being able to reply from any of them. Col. Fitch is satisfied his plan would have succeeded. Perhaps so, as there were only seventy-five men in the Fort; but if there had been two or three thousand instead, I am inclined to think his plan would not have worked entirely as he anticipated.

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E. G. Parrott (2)
G. N. Fitch (2)
U. Dahlgren (1)
G. T. Beauregard (1)
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April 13th, 1861 AD (1)
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