time. We could not see the rebel battery, it being concealed from us by a bend in the river, but their balls whistled freely over and around us, striking the water some twenty yards in front of us, and ricocheting some ten feet over our heads, with that peculiar whistling sound by which a rifled ball can always be distinguished. We advanced steadily all the time, the Mound City being only about five hundred yards from the battery, and in full view of it, and we some five hundred yards behind, when precisely at three minutes past ten we suddenly saw steam rushing from all the port-holes of the Mound City, soon enveloping her completely. I turned away sick at heart, for I knew what an awful scene was being enacted on board of the ill-fated boat. When I looked again, a minute afterwards, the violence of the steam had already subsided, and the water was full of men struggling with the swift current which was sweeping them away to a speedy death, but far preferable to the torture which they afterwards endured. All the boats were immediately lowered and sent to pick them up, and soon the poor wretches were trying to crawl into the boats, while the rebels kept up a sharp fire of musketry and grape upon them, sending a shot through the launch of the Conestoga, which was filled with scalded men, killing and wounding several. Soon the ward-room of our boat was filled with men shrieking with agony. In such a case everybody is a doctor, so I got out my knife, and commenced cutting their clothes off, for wherever they were pulled off, the skin and flesh, which was literally boiled on their bones, came off with them. After getting their clothes off we deluged them with oil and flour, and covered them with raw cotton, they crying to us to shoot them and put them out of their pain. It made me so sick I was obliged to go on deck. When I got up the firing had ceased. An army officer had come down to the bank and told us that the land forces had surprised the enemy and taken their battery, just as they were about retreating from the fire of our boats. The Conestoga and the Spiteful in the mean time had towed the Mound City down-stream. I went on board of her in the afternoon, but I cannot describe the horrible scene which met my eye. The decks were covered with dead and dying men, here and there skin from men's hands and feet, with the nails yet attached; men crying for water! water! to quench the heat from the steam which was burning them inside. The Musselman, a small stern-wheel boat we had with us, went alongside of her to take on the wounded. I went into Capt. Kilty's room on the Mound City. A man lay on his bed gasping for water; I went to get him some; when I returned he was dead. We put some sixty-five scalded men on the Musselman, and a quarter of an hour afterwards we had to carry out seven of them which had died. The Musselman started for Memphis in the evening with fifty-eight scalded, accompanied by the Conestoga, with Captain Kilty dangerously scalded; Paymaster Gunn, dying, (since dead;) Doctor Jones, dying; Mr. Young, pilot, the same; and Lieut. Fry, of the rebel navy, (dangerously shot through the back while running from his battery,) in Capt. Blodgett's cabin, and the ward-room full of wounded men and officers. The Musselman stopped on her way up and buried twenty-seven, and by the time she got to Memphis seven more were dead. We buried fifty-eight that same night, and the men who were not hurt came to take supper on our boat, and out of a crew which in the morning numbered one hundred and eighty-five men, only twenty-two were left. All the masters were scalded to death except the First Master, Mr. Daniel, and he being upon the quarterdeck escaped. All the engineers were killed except the First Assistant, Mr. Clemens, and he had gone up on the Clara Dolsen, also one of the pilots. One of the Master's Mates was killed, the other badly scalded. The ball that did all this mischief was a thirty-two pound rifled, and entered upon the port side just above gun No. One, and killing two captains of guns, passed clear through the steam-drum and lodged in the forward officers' mess-room. In looking at that poor mess I thought that perhaps it was foreordained, but may God preserve me from such a fate. Your affectionate son,
Missouri Democrat account.
Memphis, June 19, 1862.The gunboat Conestoga and transport Jacob Musselman have just arrived from White River, and bring the news of the capture of Fort St. Charles, on that river, by the gunboats of the expedition which left here on Friday last. The fleet consisted of the gunboats Mound City, (flagship,) St. Louis, Conestoga and Lexington, and the transports New National, White Cloud and Jacob Musselman, having on board the Forty-sixth Indiana regiment, in command of Col. G. N. Fitch. On Saturday last the fleet reached the mouth of White River, and on Monday, the eighteenth, began to ascend the stream. On Tuesday morning, at about seven o'clock, being within two miles of the supposed locality of the Fort, and the Mound City being in advance, Capt. Kilty began shelling the woods on each side of the river as they moved up, in order to cover the landing of Col. Fitch's troops from the transports. The landing was effected a little over a mile below the Fort, on the south-west bank of the river. The Fort, situated on a ridge of about seventy-five feet in height, which runs nearly parallel with and about two hundred feet back from the south-west bank of the river, was not completed, having only breastworks for the two batteries, but no works of defence for the rear. The upper battery of two forty-two-pounders was on the point of the ridge where it puts in close to the river. These two guns had been the armament of the gunboat Ponchartrain which the rebels had sunk so as to obstruct the channel of the river immediately abreast of the battery. Two transports