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[226] had also been sunk close to her, one of which had on her pilot-house “Eliza G.” The battery on the point of the ridge was manned by the former crew of the Ponchartrain. The lower battery, composed of five twelve-pound field-pieces, was about three hundred yards further down-stream, where the ridge was further from the river; and the whole place was in command of Capt. Fry, the former captain of the Ponchartrain, and who was once a lieutenant in the U. S. navy. At about half-past 8, when the Mound City approached within less than a mile, the first or lower battery opened fire upon her; this was the first indication of the exact location of the batteries; as they had been concealed by the heavy timber in the intervening bottom land, which was only cleared along the river's edge, and at one or two other places, so as to give the guns of the batteries a clear range. The Mound City immediately moved up and delivered several broadsides, and leaving the St. Louis and Conestoga engaged, passed on up to engage the upper battery, which had now opened fire. The fight had lasted about thirty minutes after the firing had become general on both sides, and the lower battery of field-pieces was nearly silenced, when a forty-two-pound shot from the upper battery struck the Mound City on the port side, near the second gun from the bow, passing through the casemate, killing five or six men, and knocking a large hole in the steam-drum. Instantly the hot steam burst out in dense volumes, filling the engine — room, gun — room, and pilot — house, and scalding over one hundred and twenty-five persons. The shrieks of the poor fellows confined between decks in the scalding vapor were said to be heart-rending beyond description. Many were instantly suffocated, but all who were able groped their way to the ports and jumped into the river, and a minute after the explosion, fifty or sixty of them were struggling in the water. The Conestoga immediately came up and sent out two boats to pick them up. One of the Mound City's boats was also launched by Master's Mate Simmes Browne, one of the few officers who was not seriously hurt. During this time both gunboats and the small boats were drifting down the river. As the Mound City drifted near the shore, near the lower battery, a sortie was made from the battery, which some supposed to be an attempt on the part of the enemy to board the Mound City, but which afterward proved to be for the purpose of firing on the scalded men in the river, which the prisoners say they did at the command of Capt. Fry. The field-pieces of the lower battery were also turned upon the boats that were picking up the wounded, and a twelve-pound shot knocked away the bows of one of the Conestoga's boats. Many were hit by the firing, and sunk before the boats could reach them, and only twenty-seven out of the Mound City's crew of one hundred and eighty, answered to their names at the calling of the roll, and were all that escaped unhurt.

Another singular accident now occurred: The Mound City's starboard broadside-guns had been loaded just before the shot struck the steam-drum, and had not been fired since, but nearly half an hour afterwards one of the wounded gunners had become entangled in the lanyard which is attached to the lock of the gun, and in his writhing with the pain fired the gun. The ball took effect on the New National, which had landed her troops and come up to the rescue of the Mound City. The ball struck her behind the wheel, and, ranging forward, cut off the steam-pipe, immediately disabling her and slightly scalding the second engineer.

Col. Fitch, who had now gained the summit of the ridge a short distance below the lower battery, fearing that one of the other gunboats might meet with an accident similar to the Mound City's, signalled the gunboats to cease firing, and that he would storm the batteries. The gunboats accordingly ceased firing, and after making considerable of a detour, the Forty-sixth attacked the batteries in the rear, delivering their fire as they came up, charging over the guns and killing the gunners at their posts. The rebels fought stubbornly, asking no quarter, and receiving none from the men of the Forty-sixth, who were enraged at the dastardly firing upon the helpless men in the river; only two of those who were in the battery were taken prisoners, the rest were killed. The Indiana troops then came over the brow of the ridge and down into the wooded bottom-land next the river in pursuit of those who had been firing on the Mound City's crew, the rebels retreating rapidly up the bank of the river, the Forty-sixth firing on them as they fled, killing the greater portion of them. In the flight, Capt. Fry, their commander, was wounded by a ball in the back, was captured, and is now a prisoner on board the Conestoga. The rebel loss in killed is not known, but must have included the greater portion of their force, as we have only thirty prisoners, and only a few are known to have escaped. Opinions differ also as to the number of the rebels, some setting it as high as five hundred, and saying that Col. Fitch's estimate of one hundred and fifty referred only to the gunboat's crew, who manned the upper battery.

Col. Fitch, in his report, states that the casual ties in his regiment are unimportant, being only five or six slightly wounded. But for the one shot which burst the Mound City's steam-drum, there would not have been a man hurt on the fleet, as not a single shot that struck the gunboats did any damage whatever except that. No one was hurt on either of the gunboats, and none of the transports were struck except the New National, by the accidental shot from the Mound City.

Col. Fitch was so exasperated at the murderous fire that had been poured upon the scalded men who were struggling in the water, that when he came on board the Conestoga, where Col. Fry was a prisoner, he reproached him bitterly for his inhuman conduct in giving the order, and asked him to compare his own conduct with our course towards them only ten days before, at Memphis, when all of the small boats belonging to the

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