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[224] that great calamity. The contrast between these great barbarities of a savage enemy at St. Charles, and the humane efforts of yourself and your command to rescue the wounded and disabled at Memphis is honorable to the gallant men of the flotilla, and will be gratefully remembered. The nation honoring the memory and sufferings of its heroes, sympathizes with the wounded survivors and the bereaved families of the gallant dead. Its noblest tributes are due to those who bleed for their country and die in its cause. I am, respectfully, your obedient servant,

Gideon Welles. To Flag-Officer Charles H. Davis, Commanding Western Flotilla, Memphis via Cairo.

Official report of Colonel Fitch.

St. Charles, White River, Ark., June 17.
To Hon. E. M. Stanton, Secretary of War:
On arriving eight miles below here last evening, we ascertained that the enemy had two batteries here, supported by a force — number unknown — of infantry.

A combined attack was made at seven o'clock A. M. to-day. The regiment under my command (Forty-sixth Indiana) landed two and a half miles below the battery, and skirmishers were thrown out, who drove in the enemy's pickets.

The gunboats then moved up and opened on their batteries. A rifled shot from one of the batteries penetrated the steam-drum of the Mound City, disabling, by scalding, most of her crew.

Apprehensive that some similar accident might happen to the other gunboats, and thus leave my small force without their support, I signalled the gunboats to cease firing, and we would storm the battery. They ceased at exactly the right moment, and my men carried the battery gallantly. The infantry were driven from the support of the guns, the gunners shot at their posts, their commanding officer Freye (formerly of the United States navy) wounded and captured, and eight brass and iron guns, with ammunition, captured.

The enemy's loss is unknown. We have buried seven or eight of their dead, and other dead and wounded are being brought in.

The casualties among my own command are small, the only real loss being from the escaping steam in the Mound City. She will probably be repaired and ready to proceed with us up the river to-morrow.

A full report will be made as early as possible. Very respectfully,

G. N. Fitch, Colonel commanding Forty-sixth Indiana Volunteers.

Account by a participant.

St. Charles, White River, Arkansas, Saturday, June 21, 1862.
my dear mother: I have not had time to write to you before about the battle that we had up here last Tuesday, of which you have doubtless heard by this time.

When I went over the battle-field of Pittsburgh Landing, I thought I had seen as horrible a sight as it was possible to see, but the horrors of last Tuesday morning surpassed every thing.

I had better give you a full account of the expedition up this river since it left Memphis.

We left Memphis last Friday at five A. M., the Mound City, Capt. A. H. Kilty, commanding the expedition, the St. Louis, Capt. W. McGunnegle, and the Lexington, Capt. James W. Shirk, with a coal-barge in tow. At three P. M. came in sight of Helena, and discovered a steamboat laying there. We kept on, but soon the steamboat, which we made out to be the Clara Dolsen, commenced backing out and rounding to to start down the river. The Mound City signalled us, but we could not make it out, so soon a small boat put off and came alongside with orders to give chase to the Clara Dolsen, we being faster than the iron-clad boats. We ran down to the St. Louis, cast off the coal-barge, and started after the rebel steamer.

The tug Spiteful, which accompanied the Mound City as a tender, had already started in chase, but we passed her in about an hour, rounded to, her machinery having given way. The Mound City being nearest to the Dolsen by half a mile when she left Helena, fired several shots at her, but they all fell short. We continued the chase until about nine in the evening, when, having for some time lost sight of the Dolsen entirely, and knowing her to be one of the fastest boats on the river, we gave up the chase and came to anchor. Next morning, the iron-boats having caught up to us in the mean time, we took the barge in tow and started down the river and came to anchor at ten A. M., some ten miles up White River by a “cut-off” leading into Arkansas River.

The tug Spiteful then went up the river on a “reconnoissance” and returned in the afternoon, followed by the Clara Dolsen, which she had captured some twenty miles up the river. She is a magnificent boat and worth about sixty thousand dollars. We lay there all that night and the next day and night, tortured dreadfully by musquitoes. On Sunday Captain Kilty put the Dolsen in charge of the Third Master of the Lexington, James Fitzpatrick, and sent her up to Memphis. Next morning, (Monday, sixteenth,) at five, the gunboat Conestoga, Captain Blodget, and the transports New National and White Cloud, came up the river and we then all got under way and proceeded up White River. We anchored that night some fifty miles up the river, and sent the Spiteful on ahead to reconnoitre. She returned in about two hours with the information that the enemy had erected a battery at St. Charles, some four miles above. Next morning at six we all got under way, the Mound City leading the St. Louis, Lexington and Conestoga, and the transports White Cloud and New National, with some six hundred men under Col. Fitch.

At eight o'clock we called to quarters and commenced firing our No. One Parrott gun, and, the transports disembarked their troops, who marched out to attack the enemy in the rear. At nine came in sight of three boats sunk in the channel of the river, one of them a gunboat, and at five minutes past nine the flag-ship signalled “Close action,” the enemy opening fire on us at the same

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G. N. Fitch (3)
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